From humble self-made beginnings to big name publishing, Andrew MacLean brings forth an exciting, unique, dark, hilarious epic with the adventure of Norgal, a.k.a. The Head Lopper. I have to say, amidst the usual organized chaos that is the New York Comic Con artist alley, I had a very fun, memorable conversation with MacLean about his success and influences. As his lovely wife (and brilliant lettering/design artist,) Erin manned the busy booth, I had the chance to ask several burning questions…
What are some of your influences or both are and story? I certainly get a Mike Mignola impression from the artwork, which I absolutely love.
“He was a big influence in getting started. Down the road I stopped drawing like marvel and DC. More recent heroes would be Moebius and Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa manga.”
So I read that the Head Lopper himself started as an illustration for Brand New Nostalgia. How did you go from a drawing to a full fledged story?
“I just drew it. A lot of my stories start like that. And sometimes cause I like weird stuff, I like to stick things in. Then I start to really think about why these things happen.
Something I like to do recently is you don’t know what Agatha is doing, sometimes you’re not sure if she was ever talking to Norgal or just talking to herself.”
One of my favorite things to ask… What do you personally look for when you’re looking to be entertained by a comic or stories in general? (Books, movies, games, etc.)
“I guess it’s hard to tell what grabs you but I always want things to be weird and surprising. Like in spirited away when the parents turn into realistic lifelike pigs and it’s like ‘oh okay we’re going there.’”
So you self-published the first arc, issue 1 yourself and 2 through Kickstarter. What was it like to go from indie and audience boosted to under a mainstream publisher?
“That had been the goal originally. I’d been pitching a lot and getting shot down. Finally I just decided to make a book. Just to have something and then pitch. A friend of mine gave Image a copy of my first volume and Eric Stevenson emailed me like ‘you want to get published under Image?’ And I said ‘YES!’ It was just luck I guess.”
It may be too soon to have decided, between you AND Image, but would continue Head Lopper beyond these four story arcs?
“That’s my plan at the moment, they originally got us for four quarterlies, but when I was on issue three and I said ‘hey these are kinda thin, can I do more?’ And they were like ‘oh we didn’t know you wanted to.’ I don’t like stories to go on forever, but I want to do 9 volumes with each 3 being an arc. It’s like Conan and those old comics, you don’t know where they’re going to be next, I feel Norgal is like that.”
If someone were to play Norgal, whether as a voice in an animated movie or series, or even a live action, who would be a good fit for his character?
“Live action I can’t even imagine, no one looks the way Norgal does. Animated though, and I know this wasn’t my idea, but this is the best one I’ve heard- Nick Offerman as Norgal and his wife Megan Mullally as Agatha? Cause they’re both hilarious together and Nick has just the perfect voice.”
And I now really really hope Head Lopper maintains and grows its success so that this could be a reality (although Andrew and Erin MacLean are lovely people as well so that’s a good reason to hope for Head Lopper’s prosperity too…)
Freelance cartoonist, illustrator, & writer
School of Visual Arts Alumna