Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics: The Clown Commandos comic book series is an interesting mix of comedy and action/adventure. What can you tell us about the series and its title characters?
Michael Anthony Steele and Scott McFadden: The premise begins in an alternate universe where a single occurrence during World War II began a chain of events that caused clowns to evolve into an elite fighting force. Now, in present day, a squad of these Clown Commandos becomes trapped in our world where no one takes them seriously, because... well... they’re clowns. As they search for a way home, the Clown Commandos continue to thwart major crimes, fight injustice, and generally take down the bad guys—all of which is difficult, since they’re no longer afforded the respect and admiration of which they were once accustomed.
The squad is lead by Colonel Clown, a seltzer cigar-chewing seasoned soldier who maintains a hardened façade while secretly beginning to doubt all the CC stands for. Now that he’s experienced a world where clowns continue to entertain, he realizes that his world developed into a darker place—almost a police state—where clowns turned their hijinks and buffoonery into a brand new martial art. In his world, the Clown Commandos were born the day the laughter died.
Second in command is Lieutenant Bubbles. The Lieutenant is a career soldier who began her life on the wrong side of the law. Given the choice of juvenile detention or the Clown Commandos Youth Camp, she chose the latter and quickly found a purpose for her existence. She channeled her anger and inner struggle into being the best Clown Commando she could be. Using many skills from her past life, she quickly rose through the ranks and is now a key member of the team.
Sergeant Blammo is the squad’s demolitions expert. Born into a French family of ore minors, the little soldier was a natural when it came to explosives. In fact, many of the squad’s current non-lethal ordinances are his designs (happy bombs, mime mines, etc.). The most “clown-like” of the group, the sergeant is most likely to add a punch line with every punch (although often misusing the simplest clichés). In fact, the squad’s peculiar fate has seemed to have the least impact on the sergeant. His demeanor continues to boost their moral in the most trying of circumstances.
Corporal Honky acts as the squad’s quartermaster. Using CC technology he’s able to haul the squad’s entire compliment of weapons and gear inside his baggy pants (the same technology that gives the entire squad the ability to fit inside a tiny military humvee). Corporal Honky only speaks in a series of honks that the rest of the squad understands completely. It’s rumored that the corporal was once a part of their world’s organized criminal element, the Mime Syndicate. But, any information to substantiate that claim is locked away in his top-secret personnel file.
Private Jumbo is the one and only product of the Clown Commandos’ short lived “super soldier” program. The gigantic soldier was genetically engineered to be the most powerful Clown Commando of all and, in many ways, he is. However, the program was discontinued when the subject showed low levels of intelligence and a tendency to be emotionally oversensitive. Colonel Clown personally lobbied for Jumbo’s continued existence and recruited the big guy to his command. Through the guidance and mentorship of Sergeant Blammo, Private Jumbo has become a huge asset in more ways than one.
BD: Digital comics have become the wave of the future in the comic book industry. What encouraged you to create the Clown Commandos series as a comic book app made specifically for iDevices?
MAS/SM: Where else can you HEAR your comics? That was the first thing we wanted to do with our digital comic—add cool sound effects!
Actually, digital comics are a great tool for any indie comic creator to get his or her story directly to the public. That’s another element that drew us to the medium.
We also wanted to do something unique and take advantage of these devices’ many features. As any comic fan knows, most digital comics are repackaged versions of what has been previously published. Since we’re creating stories specifically for this medium, we have the chance to come up with something new. We could create transitions that helped tell the story, not just get you from panel to panel. When called for, we have slow dissolves, rack the focus to key elements, and have longer panels (sometimes five times as long) where the user can pan back and forth, exploring all the action. Plus, if you can utilize the iPhone’s vibration to punch up an explosion (or at least a pie to the face), then why not?
Also, the sound element seemed a given to us. We didn’t know why we were the first to think of it! Luckily, both of us are musicians and have our own home studios, so we have a blast coming up with the voices and custom sound effects for each issue. Now, we’ve revised the app so we can go back and update previous issues. Soon, every reader will have even more sounds and updated transitions at no additional cost!
BD: It is certainly not uncommon these days for individuals to have an iPhone, iPad, or an iPodTouch (or one of each!). For those individuals who may be a bit behind the times, will it still be possible to fully enjoy Clown Commandos as it was intended?
MAS/SM: Right now, Clown Commandos is only available for iDevices; however, with the growing popularity of the series, we’re exploring the possibilities of making them available on other devices and even in print.
BD: Do you feel that CC is accessible for all audiences, or are you hoping to reach mainly younger audiences?
MAS/SM: As it turns out, our fan base spans a wider age range than we imagined. The younger kids download the app and laugh at the silly clowns (maybe even annoy mom from the backseat with a loud “splat” sound, over and over again).
Meanwhile, older comic fans completely “get” the humor and overall concept. The Clown Commandos are real heroes fighting crime just like Batman. But, instead tossing a batarang, these heroes sling a rubber chicken just as seriously—and just as effectively. Therein lies the humor and the heart of the series.
BD: You have both had experience working with and creating products for children. What have you enjoyed most about your experiences, and has it lent itself to your work on the comic series?
MAS/SM: We like telling stories. Whether it’s in a junior novel or advertising campaign, the story is the most important aspect for us. And, that’s the cool thing about Clown Commandos. Sure, it’s a bunch of fun gags and silly sounds. But, as you keep reading, you’ll see that we’re slowly portioning out several subtle layers, character arcs, and story arcs. That’s one of the juxtapositions we’re working with. Just like the Clown Commandos take themselves very seriously (even though they’re clowns), we’re writing a series with a bizarre premise that we take just as seriously.
BD: As fans of the comic book genre, are there any writers or series that stand out as your favorites, or that you are currently following?
MAS/SM: We’re the perfect combination of comic book creators—one of us grew up as a DC fan and the other as a Marvel fan. But, we like everything, really. Major publishers and indie titles. Comics that are more art than story and vise versa. But, if we had to narrow down a couple of current series that we talk about the most (especially for the storytelling elements), we’d have go with The Walking Dead and The Boys.
BD: Lastly, where can fans find the Clown Commandos comic book app or just learn more about the series?
MAS/SM: If you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, simply search the app store for “Clown Commandos.” Or, you can visit the store’s web link here:
Learn all about the Clown Commandos and download some free stuff at the official website:
Get the latest news, updates, and behind the scenes info at the official blog:
Or, talk to us directly and let us know what you think on Facebook & Twitter:
Clown Commandos - Creator Bios:
Michael Anthony Steele has written for family entertainment for the past fifteen years. He has authored more than eighty children’s books for numerous popular brands: The Penguins of Madagascar, Batman, Shrek, Green Lantern, Night at the Museum, G.I. JOE, Speed Racer, Spider-Man, and Sly Cooper.
Anthony began as a staff writer for the PBS series WISHBONE. There he co-wrote several episodes including the Emmy award-winning, full-length feature, WISHBONE’s Dog Days of the West. Since then, he has written twenty-five episodes for the PBS series Barney & Friends, many home videos including five for the video series Boz, The Green Bear Next Door.
Anthony speaks to schools and previews the upcoming Clown Commando app in his presentation. The kids are extremely excited and flood him with questions at every Q&A.
Scott McFadden has been in advertising for seventeen years. He has worked at major ad firms, being the art director and creative director for numerous television spots, print campaigns, promotions, and brand development projects. He has worked on and led creative groups on a number of national accounts including McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Visa, Pepsi-Cola, and Frito-Lay, as well as other national, regional and local advertisers.
While on the Hasbro toys account, Scott became conversant with both their new and existing brands including: Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Transformers, iDog, and Pokemon. His extensive experience in concept development and contemporary design adds the unique look and feel to the originality of Clown Commandos. He even applies his knowledge of type and design to the comic’s lettering, combining what he loves most: storytelling and graphic design.