The following is an interview with indie comic book creator/writer/artist Marc Jackson, who is the author of Man from Space, a hysterical comics series about a man from space and and his snarky, foul-mouthed, intergalactic goldfish. In this interview, Fanboy Comics President Bryant Dillon talks with Jackson about breaking into the indie comics scene, his propensity to kill off his own characters, and the future of digital comics.
This interview was conducted on May 29, 2012.
Bryant Dillon, Fanboy Comics President: What made you want to get into the indie comic book scene and how did you get started?
Marc Jackson: Well, I originally created the comic in Spanish, it was known as Hombre del Espacio! It had been commissioned by movie star Penelope Cruz as she loved comics and wanted something fun to hand out to the guests at her wedding. I also got to write and perform the theme song at the reception dinner.
It’s also worth noting that I have loved comics since as long as I can remember. I was always to be found, pen in hand, creating my own comics. If only I’d known then that I’d actually have managed to get my comic on the shelf of a comic shop so people could buy it, and people actually would, well, man alive that would have blown my tiny, little mind!!
BD: Your current book is a zany, intergalactic comedy called Man from Space. Could you tell us a little about Man from Space and what type of reader you think would enjoy it?
MJ: Man from Space is basically an outerspace romp into insanity. The main character has lost his memory, manners, and respect for anything and everything. He’s bouncing from one misadventure to the next with his sidekick, Michael the foul-mouthed goldfish, who, amongst other things, has a rampant gambling problem. Along the way they meet an alien, who has a penchant for the arts and wears rubber gloves, and a robot inventor, who initially seems helpful, but seems to make matters worse!
My brief to myself was to create a story in which I mixed in as much insane humour as I could, wrapped around my favourite genre, space adventure!
The kind of reader that would enjoy it? Hmmm, I’m definitely aiming for the hi-brow market. This is a serious art piece.
BD: Do you have any specific inspirations that influenced the creation of Man from Space? How did you come up with the idea?
MJ: I was a big fan of Groo the Wanderer back in the ’80s (still am) and of course I loved Star Wars (still do, well, maybe not the prequels…). I wanted to create a comic based on the idea that Sergio Aragones and William Shatner sat down, dropped acid, and created a masterpiece. I would then walk in and steal the ideas for myself before dropping them off at the Betty Ford Clinic.
BD: Could you give us a quick breakdown of the main characters of Man from Space and why they have a special place in your heart? Also, which characters could you take in a fight?
Man from Space – He cracks wise, wears a cape, is an a–hole.
Michael – Goldfish, foul-mouthed, lady killer, and rampant gambler.
Whemblo – A whimpering pink alien who wears rubber gloves.
Unit 7-73 – A robot inventor of the random teleporter…which proves very problematic!
Hands down, I could take out Whemblo. Hell, my neighbour’s cat could do that, too.
BD: Even though it is a comedic story, characters have perished in Man from Space. How do control yourself when wielding such god-like power?
MJ: It’s the only reason I’m doing this. I can’t melt pink aliens in real life, so I have to pretend to. Believe me, if I had the chance, I’d be doing it on a weekly basis.
BD: What has been the most difficult aspect of working as an independent creator? Were there any major hurdles that you had to overcome?
MJ: In all seriousness (what, now?) I started working on it, then realized the key was getting it reviewed and then, armed with a few good ones, I just hassled everybody on Twitter. I became a royal pest, but folks like Jonathan Ross, Tyler Crook, Guy Davis, Fred Hembeck, Lew Strigner, David DeGrand, and Chris Houghton have all read, enjoyed, and offered invaluable feedback to me.
BD: Did you have any initial concepts for the book that just didn’t work or ended up completely different than you first planned?
MJ: I originally created it as a web comic. That was a little more straight forward, not as much humour. When I decided to actually self-publish, I took the original idea and re-worked it from the crazier angle. Playing more towards my initial idea, before the web comic.
BD: What would you say to someone who has never read a comic book to get them to give Man from Space a read?
MJ: It’s fun. It really doesn’t take itself seriously and comics don’t need to be dark and brooding. They are four colour FUN! You want laughs, you want something that’s a little silly, but will keep you smiling? Read on, adventure fans. READ ON!
BD: What are your feelings regarding the recent addition of digital comics to the comic book market? Do you see digital comics as a benefit to creators or as an obstacle?
MJ: For the likes of me, or maybe even those not as fortunate, digital allows creators with no comics deal or money the chance to get their ideas out there, using Twitter and Facebook to promote. Getting your comic out there is far more important than earning money from it. If that comes too, well, you’ve hit the jackpot!!
BD: Crossovers are a staple of the comic genre. Just for fun, if you could have a crossover issue for any of the series you are currently working on, which book would it be and who would the crossover be with?
MJ: Well, I think Man from Space would work well crossing over with an ’80s issue of Star Wars from Marvel. Jaxxon the Rabbit would be a worthy verbal sparring partner to my wisea– character. Either that or an issue of She-Hulk; I think he has a thing for green women too…but don’t we all?
BD: Great creators usually have great taste! Once our readers finish reading your books, what other comic books or graphic novels would you recommend? Any particular favorites?
MJ: BPRD, the issues by Guy Davis and Tyler Crook. I love MudMan from Image, Paul Grist is very inspirational. Cowboy illustrated by Chris Eliopoulos is so great, a real classic, Reed Gunther is awesome (Chris Houghton produced a fantastic Man from Space picture for me), and I just got into Peter Bagge’s new book Reset from Dark Horse. I also really love going back to old Calvin & Hobbes.
BD: What can we expect next from Marc Jackson? Are there any upcoming projects or announcements with which you would like to tease us?
MJ: Issue 2 is getting a little revamp, as Issue 1 did, and then onto Issue 3, which may or may not be out in September. I’m also working on a strip cartoon with David DeGrand (of Heeby Jeeby comix fame) on an idea based around Don Johnson and his dog. I honestly, honestly am not kidding. Dave will hopefully be drawing, and I’m doing the easy bit!
Be sure to check out the revamped version of Man from Space Issue #1!