Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your creator-owned comic, Welcome to Showside! What inspired this all-ages comic, and why will it appeal to readers of all ages?
Ian McGinty: Thank you! It’s all really rad stuff. I’m very excited for people to read my series, and I hope they dig it.
Welcome to Showside was inspired by a lot of different things swirling in the ether, both obvious and surprising to me. My work in licensed properties was, aesthetically, at the forefront in designing and drawing the characters and worlds. I drew lots of inspiration from licensed gigs like Adventure Time, Steven Universe, Bravest Warriors, etc, but also from horror comics like Hellboy or Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. It’s ironic that Hellboy, especially, was of such regard in my art and writing, because there is literally nothing in Welcome to Showside that isn’t appropriate for everyone of any age.
Thematically, Welcome to Showside also drew a lot of inspiration from when my father had a heart attack. He’s okay now and his his health is better than it’s every been, but it was scary, man. Before that, the comic had been in a realm of adventures and monsters and magic, you know, great stuff, but the premise was flimsy and probably not strong enough to go past 5 or so issues. After my dad’s heart attack, and after he was okay and active and healthy, I had my very first panic attack which I guess was maybe a sort of PTSD or something. Naturally, the writing of the comic began to take on this idea of questioning legacy, both good and bad, and what family means and what friendships mean in the face of larger ideals and crises. I did not plan for any of that, but it happened, and what you’ll see as Welcome to Showside goes on into more issues, is this theme becoming more apparent and heavier. I earnestly think that these sort of ideas, combined with the cool characters and demons and universe, will really strike the all-ages crowd and grab them. I want the comic to evolve and change as time goes on, and as I’m writing and drawing more and more, I really see Welcome to Showside doing exactly that. Evolving and changing into something I didn’t plan for. I like to think that’s a good sign.
BD: Welcome to Showside not only marks your transition from artist to writer, but it will also signify the launch of the new periodical line from Z2 Comics. What makes Z2 Comics a great home for the series?
IM: Z2 Comics is extremely focused on “growing” the creators they sign; respecting the artists and writers, and getting the best content into the hands of readers and fans, is the first and foremost goal. I have met very few teams so focused on, and so supportive of, getting the creators out and into the comics world as Z2 has been. These are the publishers I continue to work with, the ones who are innovative and progressive, yes, but also genuinely respect and do the artists/writers right. Z2 is also putting a lot of trust into the creators, releasing a periodical line when most publishers want 90% already completed graphic novels, and I think it’s a smart move and a very unique move on Z2’s part to take that leap and go against what I personally think is a misguided belief in comics (that periodicals don’t sell). Welcome to Showside is also the only all-ages content Z2 had right now, as well, so I’m very curious to see how the series is received by fans, because Z2 has really worked extremely hard to get the comic out there and into the hands of all kinds of fans. The amount of trust put in me to create is astounding, and I’m very, very lucky to be in the position I am, backed by such a fantastic group of people who genuinely believe in comics and creators.
BD: Given your experience with both writing and illustrating comics, do you feel that one aspect of the creative process is either more challenging or more rewarding for you?
IM: Writing is definitely more challenging for me, and illustrating is more rewarding. With illustrating, you complete the page and you have this finished product that gets sent along and, hopefully, published, and that’s a piece of work with you all over it. With licensed comics, especially, I could turn off my brain and follow the script and just go all out. I weirdly enjoy licensed work (A lot of artists don’t like having to stay on model or follow style guides.), and I take it as a challenge.
Writing is so nebulous and weird, and you never know where the story is going on to. You have chunks and parts, much like spam or a hotdog, that need to come together to make something coherent. I actually write quite a bit, shorts for Adventure Time, Hello Kitty, etc., but Welcome to Showside will be the most prominent thing I’ve written thus far. At the end of the day, I’m doing both for the comic, and I have to admit I’m extremely proud of how the book has turned out.
BD:There are a number of talented creators who have contributed to Welcome to Showside. Are you able to share a few of these creators with us and how these partnerships formed?
IM: Absolutely! Every creator involved with Welcome to Showside is a friend, someone I respect at the utmost as an artist/writer, and someone who I genuinely dig as a person, whether I’ve met them in real life or not. I work really hard to meet new artists working in the all-ages realm, and I love to have other people involved with content that is my own. I’m no genius, I can’t do it all. The greatest thing, thus far, of this series has been seeing all the covers and fan art and backups from not only friends, but also just fans of my work on other properties who are excited for Welcome to Showside to come out. I specifically built the world of Welcome to Showside to be malleable and elastic, so fans and artists could run with the characters and do their own thing. My word is not law.
For the first issue of Welcome to Showside, you will see an absolutely gorgeous backup by Carey Pietsch, who recently illustrated the Adventure Time miniseries, “Marceline Gone Adrift.” You will see covers from Kate Leth, my partner on Bravest Warriors, Rian Sygh, who is also coloring the first issue (and rocks) and works with me on the Munchkin comic line, and Sam Ellis, another Adventure Time alum. You’ll also see the amazing Erin Hunting’s wrap around exclusive covers for Books-A-Million, but I’ve also hired fans who just hit me up with their own interpretations of Welcome to Showside, most notably Kizzy Whitfield, Margaux Saltel, and Rocco Miraglia, all of whom are great artists in their own right. I was flattered and ecstatic to be able to involve them with the book series.
In subsequent issues, we’ve got the incredible Paulina Ganucheau of Zodiac Starforce, Ben Sears who does Double+, Matt Cummings who does the art on Power Up, and dang, there’s just so much cool art coming, it’s really amazing. I’m so excited.
BD: As if writing and illustrating a comic series were not enough, you will also serve as the showrunner and lead voice-over actor for the pilot of the Welcome to Showside animated series. What can readers anticipate from the television series, and will it follow or depart from the storyline of the comic series?
IM: I’m coming at this in a very backwards way, compared to a lot of animated series right now. Generally, we see the show premiere and then come the comics and subsequent tie-ins. I’ve taken what I know about licensed properties and gone the other way; by making the comic and releasing the pilot at the same time, I’m able to set Welcome to Showside’s main themes and, at the same time, allow the seeds of change to grow within the core of the premise through the animated pilot. What this means for the rest of series is, I hope, confidence in our ability to build the world in many avenues by instilling trust in the artists and writers involved.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
IM: I just wrapped up a Steven Universe music activity book for Penguin Random House, which was fun, and the last issue of Bravest Warriors is out next month, which is sort of sad. I am also creating a newly illustrated deluxe card set for SJ Games’ Munchkin line, and I also just finished an Adventure Time card set for FLUXX from Looney Labs. I have been working on a graphic novel for Top Shelf, one of my favorite publishers, entitled Chomp!, a pirate adventure/cook book, and I’m hoping to finally get that out to everyone soon. Other than that, I’m plugging away on the Munchkin comic line as the lead series artist, doing covers and shorts for all kinda of stuff, and, best of all, getting to do Welcome to Showside and play with Kit, Moon, and Belle and all the crazy stuff that happens in the town of Showside.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Welcome to Showside and your other work?
IM: I’m all over the place right now, and the best way to find my work is through Twitter and Instagram (I’m working on a brand, spankin’ new website now, since the content was getting a little overwhelmed). Just google my name, and you can find me very easily. I enjoy talking to fans and welcome people to hit me. For the book itself, the pre-order numbers for Welcome to Showside are:
AUG151857 WELCOME TO SHOWSIDE #1 MCGINTY
SEP151765 WELCOME TO SHOWSIDE #2 MCGINTY
Thank you, and I hope people like Welcome to Showside!
*Ian McGinty photo (above right) courtesy of Samantha Knapp.