The following is an interview with Chuck Harp on the release of the webcomic, Last Panel. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Harp about the inspiration behind the story, the shared creative process in working with artist/letterer CJ Lundblad, the impact that he hopes the story may have with readers, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of your webcomic, Last Panel! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the premise of the webcomic?
Chuck Harp: Thank you! Last Panel follows Cameron, star of the hit ’90s comic book, “Cam the Chameleon,” as his series finally comes to a close, leaving him searching for The End. The story is constructed as a dark comedy road story that surrounds existentialism and the idea of legacy.
BD: How would you describe your creative process in working with artist/letterer CJ Lundblad in bringing this story to life, and what (or who) were some of your creative influences in terms of the characters and tone?
CH: I had the concept outlined for about a year, so writing the script was pretty quick. I reached out to CJ, as his artwork was exactly what the piece called for, and he quickly had a good handle on the images required, and the concept of degenerating art style between setting locations. I feel like CJ has a pretty similar sense of humor, which made the translation from script to page easy. Obviously, that’s not to say we didn’t have many messages between each other to confirm layouts and lettering choices. We did. A lot. But I was lucky in that it was a pretty seamless process overall.
The big two creative influences for me were Sam Kieth and Dave McKean. I love Dave McKean’s work, but when I finally read Cages, it gave me the final push I needed to tighten-up the story and get the damn thing done. CJ has a real Ralph Steadman style, whose work I love very much. Which as I think about it, my love of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas may have subconsciously influenced me to make Last Panel a road story. Gotta love Hunter S. Thompson.
BD: At Fanbase Press this year, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Last Panel‘s story will connect with and impact readers?
CH: Above all, it would be my hope that Last Panel will entertain the readers. But I think there are also some interesting ideas that are sprinkled along the plot line that will allow the reader to look internally. Possibly question their own anxieties by connecting with any of characters and how they deal with negative outcomes.
Like any piece of art, it’s a pool capturing the viewer’s perspective. I can’t lead the reader to the well and tell them to drink. I can only present it as is, and see what they see in it.
BD: Given that you have written for a variety of mediums, why do you feel that it was important to bring this story to life through the sequential art medium?
CH: When writing Last Panel, I constructed it to clearly be a comics project. Adapted in any other format would not have the same effect. The lettering, the art, the script all had to come together as only sequential art can. Plus, I love stories that you can return to time and time again and hopefully pick out something new each time. Whether that’s a line of dialogue or part of art, I think we managed to do that. At least, I hope we did.
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
CH: The project I can talk about fully is my upcoming poetry collection, Working Title, that’ll be published with Unsolicited Press on November 10th of this year. It’s up for pre-order now, and I can safely say this has some of the best writing I’ve ever done.
As for comics, I’ve always wanted to work on a comic strip series, I constructed a short satire webcomic series that is done in a very particular style. How and where it will be released is still TBD, but regardless it will be out sometime this year. Besides that, I have a few more scripts in the works but can’t dive them just yet.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Last Panel and your other work?
CH: I’m just happy to have Last Panel out finally and am overjoyed by the positive reception. If anyone wants to read my other work and see my upcoming projects, they can find them all on my website (www.chuckharp.com). A huge thank you for anyone who reads my work and spreads the word on them.