Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: Congratulations on the release of your collected volume, Oh, the Flesh You Will Eat!, from The Devastator Press! Given that your short story of the same name was originally published in Devastator's comedy anthology series, The Devastator: Apocalypse, what encouraged you to return to the rhyming comic?
Mike Levine: The initial piece had done very well, so The Devastator asked me to pitch some other stories to go with it, and I came back with far too many possibilities. There are so many colorful things that can go wrong with the human body, and so many Seuss classics to play off of. Most of the titles I came up with ended up in the introduction as "other works" of Dr. Vireuss. Given half a chance, I'd write them all.
BD: What initially inspired you to parody the normally child-friendly rhymes of Dr. Seuss for a more adult audience?
ML: I work with kids a lot, sometimes against them, and I'm very familiar with the bouncy rhythm of Dr. Seuss. I also had a terrifying bout of Crohn's disease the year before the book came out, so I spent a lot of time hiding my gross medical problems from the kids I was working with. Oh, The Places You'll Go is all about facing up to your problems, whatever they are, and I wanted to confront my disease in the most adorable way possible.
BD: You have solidified a mastery of comedic writing with credits including The Onion and Heeb Magazine. Do you find that comedy easily translates to the sequential art medium, and does it provide specific tools to you as a writer to bring that comedy to life?
ML: I think comedy in comics is really tricky, because you're trusting your audience to read at a pace that meshes with your timing. I dipped a toe into three-panel strips with a piece for The Devastator: Space Epic called "Teenomorph," sort of a cross between Aliens, Garfield, and Zits. That had a very clear structure to play off of, and from there I started taking classes at Meltdown and working on panel-to-panel comic scripts, which cracks the possibilities wide open. The comedy comes easily to me, and what's great about comics is that it forces you to make very specific storytelling choices, which are ultimately more interesting than any individual gag.
BD: What can you share regarding your creative process in working with illustrator Jacob Vollum and his contributors to the project?
ML: First of all, Jacob is the cutest, which really streamlined the process. It was really fun to work out the aesthetic, which is a shaggier, scummier, phlegmier Seuss. Jacob has sort of a punk vibe to his solo art, which I think mixes nicely with my over-earnest absurdity.
BD: The Devastator Press has a myriad of incredibly hilarious and fantastically twisted comics in their stable of publications. What makes Devastator a great home for Oh, the Flesh You Will Eat!?
ML: The best comedy exists right on the line between "just crazy enough to work" and "just crazy." Only The Devastator would be genius AND stupid enough to put out a book like this. They also do the best kind of parody, the kind that comes from a place of love and reverence to the source material. This is their first hardcover, and it shows their dedication to making it look like the real thing.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
ML: My first proper comic is called Lifetime Supply, about a man driven insane by a lifetime supply of Prime Lime gum. That's going to be in a comics anthology called Strange Romance, which hits ComiXology around Valentine's Day. I have another book coming out with The Devastator this summer that I can't talk about just yet, but I can say it's a type of book that's never been parodied before.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Oh, the Flesh You Will Eat! and your other work?
ML: Well, my book is the first of a year's worth of books and zines from The Devastator, all of which look fantastic, so go to DevastatorPress.com. Once you've joined their Skull & Books society and read everything they have to offer, you can check out my website, MikeLevineCameUpWith.com, which has some fun essays, t-shirts, and jokes I've written. I'm also big on wasting time on Twitter, check me out at @bizmichael. Tweet at me that you've read this interview, and I'll make up a cool nickname for you.