Every comic creator we interview for FreakSugar clearly loves comics, but it’s clear that it’s a whole other level for Fernando Pinto. To listen to him, you can tell immediately that he has an appreciation for the medium and all its iterations, with a broad array of interests in stories and genres. You can see that sensibility in his pages and description of his original graphic novel Gunpunch, currently being crowdfunding for pre-order through Kickstarter and in partnership with Rocketship Entertainment. Gunpunch plays with genres, not confined to one lane, mixing action, sci-fi, and more to give readers a highly entertaining and high-octane experience.

I spoke with Fernando Pinto recently about the idea behind Gunpunch, what inspired this vast and layered world of characters, the Kickstarter for the book through Rocketship Entertainment, and wanting to inject fun into comics.



FreakSugar: For folks considering pre-ordering the book, what can you tell us about the conceit of Gunpunch?

Fernando Pinto: Gunpunch is the story of Evan. A completely average dude who after having the worst day of his life hooks up with a mysterious girl at a bar and wakes up having been chosen to save earth. Well, that’s his new job, the whole “Chosen” part is just to make him feel better. He also sucks at it. Oh, and they may be lying to him about the whole thing.

Gunpunch is sci-fi, mixed with action, mixed with comedy, mixed with mystery, mixed with romance, mixed with more action. It’s everything I’ve always liked about comics and manga, but I don’t seem to find a lot these days. Don’t get me wrong, I like talking heads and realistic art as much as the next guy, but here? Here we are having fun. If you like fun, and are ok with some cursing, this may be the book for you.

FS: The book seems to be packed with a wide array of characters. What can you tell us about the cast we’ll meet?

FP: Well, we have Evan, our protagonist. The definition of an average dude. He has a job he doesn’t mind and a girlfriend he enjoys spending time with. His life goes to hell after 10 pages, and now he has to step up and become more than he ever thought (or really wanted) to be.

By his side is his sister D. She just loooooves that Evan is now a superhero, and can’t understand how Evan is not more psyched about the whole thing. She’s also an Uber driver, so she makes her own schedule. So, she’s around a lot.

Evan’s Mister Miyagi in this whole quest is Nell, a Holo construct sent by the United Planets Coalition to show Evan the ropes on how to become earth’s savior. But he may not be telling Evan the whole truth. He also kinda hates D.

These 3 will have to deal with Alice Magnus, a tech CEO who is not too pleased about Evan having these newfound powers, but not for the reasons one might think. She also has cybernetically enhanced goons that will make Evan’s life even more difficult.

Aside from all of them we’ll have alien war criminals, some clueless demon hunters, not to mention the shape shifting alien race the Draxans, who are taking over people’s bodies in the city, preparing for a worldwide alien invasion.

Oh, and Becca, the mysterious girl from the bar. What is her role in all of this? So mysterious.



FS: You’ve included romance and aliens and heartache and heroics. What are some of the inspirations behind the book?

FP: Basically, this book is me bringing together all the things I enjoy in comics, manga and animation and putting them together. I’ve taken inspiration from Eat Man, Jeff Matsuda’s Kaboom, Generator Rex, Community, Erik Larsen’s SuperPatriot, Dragon Ball, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Bubble, Akira, and more.

All of this to say, I’ve tried to mix all things that bring me joy in order to make a fun book I think and hope people (with amazing taste of course) will enjoy.

FS: On to the Kickstarter itself, what can you tell us about the campaign?

FP: The campaign is being ran by the amazing folks at Rocketship, and is running from March 11, and we’ve already been funded (In a day! Isn’t that crazy?). So, thank you so much to the people that have supported us so far.

We still got almost a whole month to go, and we’ve got some really amazing stretch goals set up that people can check out at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rocketship/gunpunch-graphic-novel

FS: What kind of rewards can backers expect?

FP: We’ve spent the last couple months cooking up some really cool stuff for backers. From of course the digital, softcover and hardcover editions of the book, backers can get a dope pack of pins featuring chibi versions of Gunpunch himself, an evil Draxan and the holographic sensei Nell, a really cool color print referencing Freakazoid (one of my favorite cartoons), or a triptych set of color prints featuring the entire cast of the book, that just came out looking really dope (If I may say so myself). Not to mention the unlockable ones if we make it pass our original goal.

Aside from all that cool stuff, people can pledge to get drawn into the book as a shape shifting alien, or get some one of a kind original art commission, in pen and ink, drawn by me.

There’s tons of stuff for people to check out.



FS: Rocketship has been working to bring graphic novels to print for a few years now. Why was the company the partner to see this to fruition?

FP: They just got it. After [Rocketship Publisher & CEO] Tom [Akel] read the first chapter, his answer was “I read it and I love it, let’s meet up”. Since then they’ve been pretty big cheerleaders of it, inviting me to be part of their announcement panel at NYCC (which had me surrounded with a bunch of huge cartoonists and writers, which just felt awesome) and being pretty vocal of how the book fits in with books like Outrage or Tanga, the new book by Kevin Maguire that they’re putting out later this year. Just being named in the same breath as those two will make any cartoonist feel valued, I believe.
All of that, plus the process of creating the campaign has been a great experience so far, and after being a cartoonist for a long time, you really value those instances where everyone seems to be hyped for it all to go great (Which sadly isn’t always the case), so I couldn’t be happier.

FS: What comics are you reading right now?

FP: Been checking out a bunch of stuff these past weeks. Just got the Matt Fraction/Steve Lieber run on Jimmy Olsen, as well as Human Target by Tom King and Greg Smallwood. Both wonderful books with amazing art. Read Local Man by Tim Seeley and Tony Fleecs, and that book was great, especially if you’re a 90’s comic fan like myself (Just the references are wonderful). Also, just reread the first Firepower graphic novel because Chris Samnee is a genius and Robert Kirkman writing is always fun. Also read a bunch of older Gen13 comics drawn by Mike Huddleston to study, because that man is an underrated gem and everyone should realize it.

Lastly, I’ve been rereading a lot of Toriyama’s work these past few months, which sadly coincided with his untimely passing. His work on Dragon Ball, DBZ, Doctor Slump, Sandland, and all the stories contained in the three volumes of his Manga Theater books are amazing. He’s been an influence on me since I bought my first DBZ comic when I was 13, from drawing, to storytelling, to pacing, to humor. A great great loss, and someone every aspiring artist should study, in my humble opinion.

FS: If you had one final pitch for Gunpunch and the Kickstarter, what would it be?

FP: Remember when comics were fun? I know, it was a while back, but think hard. If you miss comics full of action, sci-fi, explosion, giant aliens, jokes, and tons of heart (And a dash of social commentary thrown in) you’ll dig Gunpunch.

The Kickstarter for Gunpunch has already hit its initial goal with 23 days left in the campaign. Check out the Kickstarter here and all the backer rewards available and consider pre-ordering this fun, action- and humor-packed comic!