Your primary objective as a modern animation feature storyteller is to get the audience members emotionally charged (i.e., distracted from logic gaps and not thinking too much) so they will be ready for your big finale. This usually consists of the hero defeating the villain (almost always by some initial violent action of the villain that the hero has “cleverly” used to boomerang back on the bad guy; real heroes never being allowed to slay dragons on their own these days) and the villain falling to their death from a great height, the only acceptable way for a baddie to meet their end in a cartoon (Gaston, Frollo, the bear in “The Fox & The Hound,” Scar, the poacher in “Rescuers II”, anyone notice a trend here?). If the villain can trip over the edge while trying to get in one last cowardly stab at the hero, so much the better. The demise of the bad guy puts everyone in a good mood, so the sidekicks fire up the juke box, or strike up the band, or simply break into song, and while the hero and heroine share a modest kiss, everyone rocks out over the end credits.
By the way, when we worked at Disney we called this “Death by topple.” It is lethal to bad guys.
Way back, when I did my very first Splendor story, I got Harvey to send me reference photos of one of the other characters in the piece. But as the years went by, I just began winging it, or swiping characters and interiors from previous issues of American Splendor. The only “reference” I use now are some shots of Harvey I cobbled together from the Internet, the work of other artists, or — horrors! — popping in the DVD of the film and using that. And even though I’ve drawn many stories set in his house, I tend to be dissatisfied with what I’ve done before and usually do something different each time. In essence, every time I draw a new A.S. story, Harvey’s pad undergoes an extreme makeover (sans Ty Pennington)! The only consistencies are the books, magazines, and newspapers piled everywhere, and the general air of post-bohemian shabbiness.
There was no Giant Robot. They had just started actually. APE had just started. I went to the first couple of APEs. Everything was positive, it was cool, but it was just … I got a call from Mike Richardson in ‘96. Mike Richardson at Dark Horse called me. “Loved the story. It was a great book. Let us know what you’re up to.” I felt like this was great, I have an open door whenever. Then, when I knock on their door a year and a half later with whatever I was working on, the industry was falling apart. Heroes World and all this shit with the distributors was going on. I had a conversation with Gary Groth a couple of years ago, he found a letter from me and a sample from 1998. He had never opened it until 2004. Those guys were busy worrying about whether their companies were going to survive more so than putting out new work.
Well, it’s safe to say that “Transformers” outsells books like “Supermarket” or “Smoke,” but as far as attracting attention goes, I’d say that that varies on the buyer. What I mean is, to the “Smoke” or “Supermarket” buyer, those are the kinds of books we publish. They’re maybe not as likely to also be reading “Transformers” comics. People that like our horror comics probably feel the same way. So all these books attract their own types of attention, and don’t really take away from one another. I think the sheer array of books you cited above shows a nice balance, just in the types of material we make available. We used to be primarily seen as a horror publisher, but now we offer so many different types of books to different audiences. I’m really proud of that fact.