Every Friday, Stately Beat Mansion invites round a comic creator or two for a cup of tea, complementary Kit Kat, and a chat about their work in The Phoenix. The Phoenix is a UK series which features a range of the best all-ages comics available, from all kinds of wonderful creators – all compiled into a single issue each week! The Phoenix have very kindly commissioned a jungle cruiser just for this feature, which steams across to The Mansion every week with a new creator onboard.
This week sees Jamie Smart sail on over to tell us about Bunny Vs Monkey, a series appearing in today’s newest issue. If you want to find out more, then try an issue of The Phoenix for yourself!
Steve: What is Bunny Vs Monkey about?
Jamie: The story of Bunny Vs Monkey begins when a monkey is sent into space but crash-lands in the woods back here on earth. He thinks he’s on a new planet and gets all power-hungry, and decides to rule it like a tyrant. However there are already plenty of animals living in these woods, and they’re not too keen on being ruled.
The main opponent is Bunny, who is the unofficial leader of the good guys. His friends Weenie the squirrel and Pig the, uh, pig, are both pretty stupid and ineffectual, but very well intentioned. There is also the mysterious Le Fox, who is always grumpy.
Helping Monkey in his evil plans is Skunky, who is a brilliant inventing skunk. He creates amazing and bizarre beasts and robots, although they invariably always go wrong. Also on the side of evil, is Metal Steve, who is a robot alligator, and Action Beaver, who is both insane and fearless, and communicates in noises.
So the two sides do battle, good vs evil, nature vs science. Sometimes, however, the comic explores other parts of the woods and meets new animals. And at the end of the first year, the animals met humans for the first time too, as they’ve discovered their woods are due to be demolished! So maybe they’ll have to work together (fat chance of that).
Steve: What inspired the series?
Jamie: Bunny Vs Monkey was an idea I had more than eight years ago, I can’t remember where it came from but I wanted to write something with an ensemble cast. So I could use the woodland as my base, and tell the stories of the characters around that. The most fun I have in writing BVM is not the crazy action, it’s often the relationships between the characters.
Steve: How is your process with the writing/art of the story? How do you take your ideas and develop them into awesome comics?
Jamie: Although BVM is intended as a fun, quick burst of craziness every week, there are a couple of story arcs running through the strip. Many readers probably don’t notice them, which is fine, they’re only small clues dotted about, but I wanted all the stories to be slowly leading towards something big. At the end of the first year, it was humans entering the forest, and how that would mix things up. At the end of this year… Well, I can’t say, but I’m really excited about it all.
But having a longer idea of the comic’s direction really helps the individual strips, I think. I’ll write down the basic premise of each week’s two-pager, and then slowly slot the individual panels in around that.
Just as the woods they all live in go through the seasons, I want BVM to slowly be changing and evolving over the course of each year. I want these characters to really grow and learn (as well as smash and splat!)
Steve: What’s your favourite part of this week’s story?
Jamie: This week, Skunky encounters a stranger who appears to be his intellectual rival, building inventions as impressive as his own. Obviously Skunky is incensed, and it becomes an ‘invent-off’ as they both try and better each other.
This is the first time Skunky’s really been challenged by anyone, up until now he’s been the most powerful character in the woods (more so than Monkey), so it’s fun to see that threatened and after this perhaps Skunky will begin to feel more vulnerable about his position.
Steve: Where else can we find you? What else do you have coming up?
Jamie: My main website is www.fumboo.com, which shows all of the work and characters I do, for all different ages. This year, I have a new book coming out (‘Fish-Head Steve’, which is the collection of comics I drew for The DFC).
I also draw every week for The Beano, Doctor Who Adventures magazine, and Mega magazine. Around that I do webcomics, work on TV shows and various other things. I don’t have much spare time, but I love what I do so it all works out!
Many thanks to Jamie for his time! Bunny Vs Monkey will be appearing this week in The Phoenix #78. And thanks to Liz Payton, who sailed the cruiser!