Yesterday we brought you the exclusive news of the newest* comics publisher out there, Bad Egg, which sees social media star moistcr1tikal, aka penguinz0, aka Charlie White teaming up with merchandising firm Warren James and talent management firm Mana Talent Group. The folks behind the new company were kind enough to sit down for an interview to explain their plans – which include a whole line of comics from popular content creators, and other media – an animated version of the first issue has already been made and more is on the way.
Call them YouTubers, influencers, content creators or internet personalities – they are some of the most famous people on earth. White, also known as penguinz0, started making videos when he was just 11 years old. Now 28, he has 11.7 followers on YouTube, where he delivers deadpan social commentary on a variety of issues. He’s also behind a Twitch channel with 4.6 million followers, and the esports team Moistesports.
If it all seems pretty far from comic books, well, content creators are just like the rest of us, and want to make comic books. White teamed with his business partner, Matt Phillips to start making comics – and luckily Phillips has a sister named Stephanie who is one of the hottest comics writers out there. Through these connections, they’ve brought on Robert Meyers, a comics industry veteran, who has further brought them to comics creators.
Of course, if you’ve been reading The Beat for any amount of time, you know making comics is a logistical challenge – so the Bad Egg folks have teamed up with Warren James, a company that does merchandising for content creators, to handle some of the logistics.
I thought this was an interesting look at building a company from the ground up – with resources from outside the comics industry. So read on to find out how it call came together, what other plans they have and also…what the hell is slap fighting?
ComicsBeat: Where did GodSlap come from?
Charlie White: I’ve been big into this little underground sport called slapping, where these really huge guys just slap each other. Then I was talking to a friend who was going on about how he’s not really a fan of the Star Wars universe anymore. And he wanted to work on his own universe and I said, well, what if we did something in a slapping universe? Because I was just so big into this sport and then we just branched it off into something outrageous which birthed GodSlap as we know it today. I think it’s been almost three years now of just getting everything together.
ComicsBeat: Matt, can you explain where you come in?
Matt Phillips: I’m Charlie’s manager/ business partner. We just kind of do everything together. So once he and Jackson had the idea, we just kind of came together and started working on it. And my sister Stephanie [Phillips – Harley Quinn, Batman] writes comics as well and helped us get our foot in the door everywhere. So it just kind of fell in place.
ComicsBeat: Can you just talk about the relationship with Warren James or how it fits in with the whole merchandising angle a bit?
Charlie White: So when we [came up with the concept] it really wasn’t looking at it as a piece of merchandise, we really wanted to create a fun and inviting universe. It’s mainly geared towards an older audience – I’m sure if you’ve looked at it, it’s pretty violent, and over the top. So the idea really wasn’t to focus too hard on, wow, look at all the ways this could generate money, it was more, we have a really fun universe with a story we’d really like to tell, and the comic book medium fits super well, because it’s one we all know, it’s one we all love. It’s just a really great [form of] storytelling to get all of this across. We just looked at it as a really fun tool to deliver some great content.
ComicsBeat: Can you tell us more about how your slapping universe works?
Charlie White: It’s set in a cyberpunk universe where everything’s a little on the cutting edge of sci fi, a lot of wild over the top technology. And the strongest people in the world are the ones that are able to use their palms, and they use slaps in different ways. Some of them are super strength slaps, some of them can control time through slapping, just really goofy, silly ways of using slapping. Our first major [character] is The Fister. He’s a tough guy basically, Superman in that world. The strongest are always the people who slap. We start in the slums and then it’s all about getting to a point where things really get crazy and over the top and transcend our starting area. We learn a lot about how slapping came to be so prevalent amongst the strongest and things like that.
ComicsBeat: You started making your videos when you were 11 years old. So obviously, doing that was a very natural medium for you to connect with people. How have you found the experience of working on a comic book?
Charlie White: It’s super different, but in a really fun way. I’ve always been familiar with comic books growing up, of course, but it wasn’t until the explosion of anime and manga, when I really started to appreciate the medium even more. I saw all the possibilities with it, not just as a comic book, but making this world that could eventually become a cartoon. So we already have an animation, which covers the first 15 pages, and we have another one on the way. It’s just been a really fun way of piecing all these things together from a comic book and branching it off. And it’s super different than anything I’ve ever done since a lot of what I do has been focused on gaming related content, and this has absolutely no crossover there at all. So it’s been challenging. I’ve been talking to people in the industry and learning from them. It’s just been a really great experience.
ComicsBeat: What made you think that manga was so viable as a storytelling media?
Charlie White: Yu Yu Hakusho, Dragonball Z, I grew up with that stuff. Anime and manga are both so interesting in the way they’re able to get all the information across. I just think it’s a really entertaining medium. But the main one that I went back to is Berserk, which doesn’t really have any good anime outside the 90s ones. But the manga is absolutely crazy, one of the most beloved of all time. I’m not a huge reader in general of normal books. But for things like manga, it really is just super entertaining.
ComicsBeat: Berserk is incredible. I mean, the level of detail in there and the world building. And you’re absolutely right, it’s just that style of storytelling just really connects with readers. So tell me about Bad Egg in general? Are you starting a comic book universe?
Matt Phillips: Just to lay the foundation of the timeline, three years ago, we kind of just were, hey, this would be fun. And we worked on it and about a year and a half in, released a prologue and it was super well received. But we had a really shaky launch. Basically, we had issues with supply chain, shipping, everything. We just did it all ourselves, for the most part with a local print shop. We had already done merch through Warren James with Charlie for a while, so went to them and just asked if they could help us out on shipping, customer service, all of that. And they did. They came in and it was a happy marriage. We figured it made sense to create the publishing company, which is when Steph introduced us to Robert and we got very lucky there. But I’ll let Charlie touch on future projects and where we see it going.
Charlie White: GodSlap is kind of the flagship for us right now, obviously, but I’ve also been working on another one which is completely different in every way, called Plague Seeker. That’ll be probably ready by summer. 2023. So those will definitely be through Bad Egg. And we’re also talking to a couple other creators who’ve had interest in the comic space for a while. We’re getting them set up with teams through us to publish through Bad Egg for their comics that they’ve wanted to make for a long time now, so it’s not just going to be my projects. It just so happens that those have already been cooking for a while.
ComicsBeat: Are your other creators also in the influencer/content creator space?
Charlie White: Yep, they’re all YouTubers, as well as streamers at the moment, and they all have big followings and a lot of stories they’d like to tell. Not all of them are directly related to their content. But some of them are. One content creator already has his YouTube universe setup and wants to kind of turn that into a full comic series, which just makes a lot of sense. We can provide the tools to make that more seamless and easy and really get it all buttoned up.
Matt Phillips: Also, Charlie and I started a management group [Mana Talent Group], which is who we met Warren James through, where we work with 300 creators. The whole plan is to create more stories, as Charlie said, and it doesn’t have to be them in the universe.
ComicsBeat: So Warren James is really kind of the technical fulfillment end of this, more or less?
Matt Phillips: I would say on paper, that’s exactly it. And they they’ve put a full team around it the same way we have a team under Warren James for Charlie for his merchandise, we’ve got a team through them on this that kind of helped run point on everything.
Robert Meyers: It’s really interesting, because we have so much built in from the Warren James side with fulfillment and customer service and that kind of thing. And then we’ve got so many connections in the printer space through Matt and Charlie so it’s a very good Venn Diagram of really fun, really smart, creative people. But the goal is that as we bring in more creators, I’ll be partnering them with comic creators and helping bring their ideas into making comics, and hopefully have a lot of fun.
ComicsBeat: I know the influencer/streaming universe is huge. Can you give me any idea of the size of this?
Matt Phillips: I think across the prologue and issue one right now we’ve sold over 50,000 copies. Then, on top of that, we’re adding some actual merchandise around it. We haven’t done that yet. We’ve just done books and posters so far. And there will be some fun items, outside of just shirts, but we’ll have shirts and hats and hopefully figurines around it soon.
Robert Meyers: Yeah. I think outside of GodSlap and Bad Egg merch, Charlie’s merch performs incredibly well with Warren James. And the product is so high quality that it’s really nice.
ComicsBeat: I’m sure many Beat readers are curious about the life of a “content creator.” Charlie, what is your day like? I mean, do you have a highly regimented schedule of when you stream and so on? How do you balance your time?
Charlie White: I definitely don’t have a regimented schedule, that’s for sure. Everything I do really is just in the moment stuff, what’s fun. So, I’ll stream it, sometimes 7pm, sometimes 1am. It’s just really , whatever is enjoyable. So content wise, I might read something that’s very silly and goofy and want to make a video on it right away. Or maybe I’ll see something that’s interesting. And I’ll research it for a day and then make something on it the next day. So it’s just always all over the place. But it’s always whatever I’m enjoying the most at the time. The only thing that’s ever really regimented is the bigger projects. With things like Bad Egg we try to set aside time to do some writing sessions and get things together. Or when we do music videos or something, planning out what that shoot looks like. But on a day to day basis, I get up sometime between 10 and noon, probably make something on some silly stuff going on in the world, then work out, stream around nine, maybe that’d be an average day.
ComicsBeat: So to wrap this up, with GodSlap, issue 1 has been out and issue 2 is coming in a few weeks? And there are more titles to be announced next year.
Charlie White: Issue 2’s contents is complete, it’s getting printed. We’re making a bigger push now that we’ve got everything much more in order. Issue #1 been out for about five months, I think. So it’s already been a bit of time in between to really work everything out, get everything great and make sure #2 is a really hard to heavy hitter. And we also have another animation paired with it. I also commissioned a song from one of my favorite bands to promote in the future, just because I thought that’d be a fun thing to do. So we have a lot of stuff surrounding issue #2 as well as #3 for next year.
*I’m sure a comics company just launched yesterday but you get my point.