By William Quant
Dave Scheidt and Miranda Harmon’s middle-grade graphic novel series, Mayor Good Boy, is gearing up for a fun-filled third volume. Mayor Good Boy Turns Bad is set to be published later in 2023, which also follows on the heels of a second silly helping in Mayor Good Boy Goes Hollywood.
The series follows the titular Mayor Good Boy, a dog who is inexplicably elected mayor of the town of Greenwood. It focuses on ideas of community, making a change in your own neighborhoods, and standing tough for what you believe in. It doesn’t hurt that it also helps explain local political ideas and terminology to younger audiences.
The Beat sat down with writer Dave Schedit about the themes of the Mayor Good Boy series, what it means to him, how the horror genre inspires the series, and more.
William Quant: First question, how hard was it for you to put down Resident Evil 4?
Dave Scheidt: [Laughs] I’m struggling right now. I was literally playing it last night. I was like, I had to go to bed early and I was struggling not to play more. It’s a struggle. Thanks for bringing that up. Now I’m gonna be thinking about it.
Quant: Sort of coming off of that, I know Mayor Good Boy is obviously not in the horror genre. But no artist is an island. Is there actually anything from like, horror elements that helps inspire Mayor Good Boy?
Scheidt: Yeah, for sure. Maybe the spirit of horror in general has always been kind of like DIY, you know, coming together with your friends and making stuff. So definitely the philosophies for sure. It’s like in all my work, I think I’ve just learned a lot from being a fan of horror. And there’s a lot of little horror splashes in the book, kind of hidden in there. Like, the main character is really into horror movies and stuff like that. There’s little easter eggs, little backgrounds, little posters and stuff like that. So there’s always going to be some spooky stuff in my books, even if it’s not overtly like that.
Quant: Possibly adjacent to horror, how do you think the industry is pivoting right now with the way AI is advancing?
Scheidt: I’m glad that conversations are in the forefront. My hope would be that more people speak up about it. For me, it’s really important to let people know how I feel about it, especially just how quick things are progressing with it. That would be my only hope, is more people speak up on it, but I think a lot of artists in comics in general have been really progressive with their thinking about this sort of stuff. So I think just in general, artists have already been on the front lines since day one kind of just telling them how they feel about and obviously, I’m not an artist, but I work with artists.
For me what is really important is just the idea of protecting what’s ours. Art is personal to people. It’s more than just drawing something cool. It’s our style and our creativity and our soul. To see that kind of just repurposed in two seconds with a couple of words is not the best feeling, you know? So yeah, I’m glad that a lot of comics people have really taken a stand on that. And I think that’s going to make a huge difference as far as signaling to publishers that a lot of us aren’t down with that. That’s kind of what I hope is that people are listening. I think we’re doing a pretty good job of addressing the concerns and stuff.
Quant: With that in mind and like how the industry is, what do you think younger or unestablished artists, creators and writers can do to help them know their worth?
Scheidt: I constantly have to remind people that no one could do it 100% like you can. I think it’s easy to look at horror comics and superhero comics and kids comics and you come up with an idea and being like, “Oh, someone already did that.” But everything is kind of borrowed and repurposed. It’s all about putting your spin on it, so I think just making your own version of something that already exists is totally valid. Everything is inspired by something else, whether it’s in the background, if it’s just like a spiritual thing, or if it’s just like, upfront, it’s all about just making it your own. So I’m a firm believer of there’s like, three good ideas, and everyone is just kind of swapping around and adding a little bit and combining it and all that.
I think it’s really important just to remember that you could do your own version of something that’s been done a million times, but your version can be different. It’s just a lot of the work is just finding how you’re able to do that, if that makes sense. But that stuff used to freak me out and stresses me out a lot. You come up with a good idea and “Ah, someone did this already,” but someone didn’t do this the Dave Scheidt way, you know what I mean? It’s cool to be able to say ‘here’s how you’re going to make this your own.’
Quant: What’s the biggest difference in the jump between doing maybe independent comics to doing comics for larger companies, larger imprints, or bigger brands?
Scheidt: I think creatively it’s kind of like stretching different muscles. The cool thing about comics is it’s one of the only kinds of unfiltered media left. Movies, a million people can say yes or no to things. Comics is publisher, editor, creator. That’s pretty pure as far as storytelling and all that. But also working in different ways improves the way you can work. Doing something yourself is totally cool, right? But for me, working in the dark is fairly intimidating. So being able to work with an editor and having a sounding board and being able to say, “Hey, maybe you meant to do this, but this is better, this is better.” I think there are strengths and weaknesses to both [indie and corporate comics].
I’ve been lucky enough where I’ve still been able to kind of do my thing in both settings. Within major publishers and stuff like that, I think the key to that, like anything with collaboration, is that creative trust. If you work for a really good editor, regardless of the publisher, if they get what you’re trying to do, they’re gonna get you there. That’s gonna help you regardless. I’m a firm believer [that] the stuff that I do becomes a lot better having someone to sound my stuff off of and bounce ideas off of. Sometimes stories deviate, but it’s so cool seeing something improve in real time. Like, oh, I didn’t think this way, oh, this editor suggested this, oh, maybe this would be better if he did this. There are pluses and minuses to both and I enjoy working with both of them.
I’ve definitely taken a lot from doing the indie comic thing and applying it to professional comics. I’ve learned a lot as far as my philosophies and my creative visions and stuff like that. If I would have just jumped straight into corporate published comics, I think my experience would be a lot different if I didn’t have that backbone of hustling at indie cons and begging people to buy my comics [laughs]. But again, there’s a lot of freedom of being able to do what you want with your own stuff. So I like a little bit of both. I think that keeps me sane, being able to have a little bit for me, a little bit for them.
Quant: In your words – not the publisher or like on the back of the book – what is Mayor Good Boy?
Scheidt: I think Mayor Good Boy is about community. It’s about mutual aid and teaching kids that they can make a difference in the world. And they don’t have to be an adult. You could make positive change within your community right now. Nowadays, with the political landscape and how everything’s going, it’s really easy to feel powerless. And then this idea of, oh, well, when you’re 18, you can vote, but no. You could volunteer at a soup kitchen, you could go clean up your park, you could donate some books to a school.
There’s a million things you can do that are actively making where you live better, and it’s not a lot of work. It seems like it’s this huge thing. I’m one of those people who is constantly worrying about not doing enough, but doing community based support is super easy to do. It’s very satisfying because you know this stuff is going directly to somebody who needs it instead of waiting around. It’s cool [for] people who donate money and stuff like that. Sometimes you don’t know where that goes. I know if you go clean somewhere else, or you go talk at school or talk to students, I know directly that I’m able to inspire them just by being cool with them and talking to them. Encourage them to tell their own stories. Mayor Good Boy is my philosophy on community based mutual aid and showing kids that they can do cool things that could change the world, even if you’re little.
Quant: Is there anything I haven’t asked about that you’d like to talk about?
Scheidt: I’m just super grateful for all the support we’ve gotten for [Mayor Good Boy], just all the booksellers and bloggers and journalists and educators and librarians and teachers and all that I really couldn’t do this without. I just wanted to extend a lot of well wishes to library workers and school teachers with all the horrible stuff they’re dealing with right now. They still take time to be able to support what we do and get books into the hands of readers. For me, that’s very important. I have so much respect for educators and librarians. So if you’re out there, thank you.
Published by Random House Graphic, Mayor Good Boy Turns Bad is due out on December 5th, 2023. The first two volumes in the series are available now.