This weekend at East Coast Comicon, I had the pleasure of interviewing artist Ian McGinty aka the guy who draws Catbug for a living. We talked about his work on Bravest Warriors as well as some other projects for BOOM! Studios, like Munchkin and Bill and Ted’s Most Triumphant Return and even a future animation project. McGinty has been drawing Bravest Warriors for almost a year with writer Kate Leth (Edward Scissorhands), and has co-created a couple new characters, including Bugcat (evil Catbug) and Peach, who can build giant robots and has a romantic relationship with the Bravest Warrior Plum.
Sound on Sight: My first question is what initially drew you to Bravest Warriors as a creator and fan?
Ian McGinty: Kate and I were both fans before we even knew the comic existed. I used to watch it all the time, and then I did some covers for BOOM! They liked that and ended up putting me on the Adventure Time Candy Capers book with Yuko [Ota] and Ananth [Panagriya], who did the Johnny Wander webcomic. That was cool. Then, they asked me to take over a series and didn’t say what it was. It was Bravest Warriors, which I was already a fan of so I said, “I’ll totally draw it.”
I was drawn to Bravest Warriors because they were short, which I liked. The episodes are seven minutes long. (They used to be three minutes long.) For me, that’s perfect because I have a really short attention span for animated stuff because I’m working all the time. I can’t watch animated shows while I’m drawing. Usually, I have to watch some drama thing that I don’t need to pay attention to, like Mad Men or The Office. I like them because they were really short, and I thought the humor and voice cast were good. But mainly the designs were great. Catbug is such a cool design, and Danny has a great design. They’ve got that Adventure Time thing going on, but the designs are a little more complicated. I thought it looked really cool with that Adventure Time aesthetic at the same time.
SoS: Your art style looks like the Bravest Warriors cartoon transferred to the comics page. How did you create this kind of style?
IM: A lot of practice. When I did Candy Capers, I did it a different style with really thick lines and brush style. Then, when I got to Bravest Warriors, I thought that all the covers looked so different than actual art inside, and I thought people would connect to it if it looked more like the show. The more I’ve drawn it (We started on issue 21, and I just finished issue 32), the more I’ve been able to put my own twist on things. Kate lets me design everything. There’s Bugcat, who’s a palette swap of Catbug, so it’s not that crazy, but it was cool to do. We’ve got some new characters, like Peach, who is like Kate. I basically drew Kate and added some alien stuff to her. I consciously wanted to make my art look like the show, which is punishing myself, but is starting to get there.
IM: Kate and I were in Calgary at a convention and were walking back. We have a great sense of humor together, and we work really well with this bizarre humor. For example, the first day of the con, we kept making this joke about how funny it would be to open up a box of hornets in the middle of the convention. For some reason, that was funny to us and not anyone else. But we wouldn’t stop talking about it. That’s how bad our humor is.
We were walking back from Calgary, and it was long walk to our hotel. And we started talking about how we wanted a character on the actual Bravest Warriors show, which would probably never happen. We wanted to do someone that Idris Elba voices. But it would have to be a cute, little character. Then, Bugcat came from that. We thought, “What if Catbug had this evil brother, who had a super deep voice, and when he talks, the text is in loopy handwriting. We wanted to do an alternate reality evil twin story, like in Star Trek. Bugcat was our version of the bearded Spock.
SoS: I really liked the recent kaiju arc of Bravest Warriors.
IM: So you’re the one?
SoS: Yeah. So what are some of your favorite kaiju movies and inspirations for the mecha designs in the comic?
IM: We’re both big Godzilla fans. Pacific Rim had just come out, which is one of my favorite movies. It had come out three or four months before, and we thought we should do a kaiju story. The mech stuff happened because each Bravest Warrior has a designated animal to them so we’ll do versions of that. (Kate let me design everything.) It had Pacific Rim meets Power Rangers kind of feel. I grew up watching tons of Power Rangers, and I don’t know why because now and ask, “What the hell?” But a lot of people still like it. I’m into Godzilla, but it was mostly inspired by Pacific Rim.
SoS: You guys had that great “canceling the esophagus” joke. I couldn’t stop laughing. In the Bravest Warriors comics, Plum and Catbug get more screen time than in the show. Why did you start giving them more screen time than in the cartoon?
IM: Plum is definitely Kate’s favorite character. Catbug is one of mine, and Danny is the other one we both like. You’ll notice in the new issues that Danny and Plum are at the forefront now. Those are characters whose voices we like and are a little more multi-faceted than Chris, who is your standard leader type. I do want to expand on Wallow a little bit. Wallow has been in the background whereas Danny is a little more interesting, and Plum is interesting too and Kate’s favorite character. We know fans like Catbug, and I love Catbug so we try to put him in the comic as much as we can. A Plum/Catbug team-up made sense, especially in the story arc now.
SoS: You also did a short story for Bill and Ted’s Triumphant Return [with Ryan North]. How did you adapt your cartoonish style for something based on a live action film?
IM: It was really tough. I’ve been getting asked a lot to do cartoon-y adaptations of live action stuff. Valiant had me do this variant cover for Ninjak, which I hadn’t heard of in forever. I guess it’s a reboot. For some reason, people are clamoring for these cartoon-y versions of realistic characters. When I got asked to do the short, I thought I could draw them realistically, but I thought it’d be funnier to almost give them that Adventure Time/Bravest Warriors type spin. That’s what I’m known for, and people will probably recognize it. It’s also more fun to draw that way too. Plus I had to cram tons of art in six pages because Ryan writes a lot of words, and there were a lot of panels. It was a shame that it could only be six pages. I wanted to draw them cartoon-y because the main art was done in a realistic style so I wanted the short to stand out.
SoS: You also did some work on Munchkin. (Love that game.) Were you a fan of the game before the comic, like with Bravest Warriors?
IM: I had heard of it, and how much it pisses people off. But I hadn’t played it. The whole point of the game is to screw over the other players so I’d see how people got. They sent me a bunch of free games to get the vibe of what Munchkin is. I’ve kind of been playing it, but I don’t have a ton of time. Of all the card games, it seems that it’s a little more fun and laid back, which is what I’m into. That’s how the comic is too. It’s light, breezy, and has lot of fun gags.
SoS: If you had unlimited money or time, what kind of comic or cartoon would you make?
IM: Weirdly enough, I’ve been working on this pitch for an animated show and am flying out to L.A. pretty soon to direct the voice cast. I just got them all casted. Right now, this is my personal, main focus. This is something completely creator owned. I’ve been working on it and can’t say a lot about it right now, but by summer, we’ll announce it and say more things about it. I’ve been working really hard to get an animated show, and hopefully, it will go to series.
SoS: What’s the different in your creative process between doing animation and art for comics?
IM: My comics stuff is (And when I say this, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t involve my brain.) more brainless. I’ve been doing comics non-stop for a long time so that when I look at a script, I don’t need to thumbnail anything out any more. I go straight to getting the rough pencils down and then inking it so it’s more like a real job if that makes sense. I get up and start working at 9 and then am done around 6 or 7 PM. I’m not writing it. Kate and I collaborate on ideas, but she’s the one putting it together, which is good. I’m more into the larger picture and not cramming details in and forcing them to make sense. It’s more of a brainless thing where I get the script and draw it out and not really think about what the next issue’s gonna be because I can let someone else figure that out for me.
With the show, since I’m creating it, it’s definitely more of a huge process. I designed all the characters, I had to write the first script, make the show bible, and set up the characters. It was definitely more challenging, but that makes the payoff so much better.
SoS: Bravest Warriors is one of my favorite all ages comics so what are some other all ages or comics in general you can recommend to Sound on Sight’s readers?
IM: Bravest is great. Adventure Time, obviously. My favorite is personally Bee and Puppycat. Pretty much all the Kaboom titles. Capture Creatures is awesome, and the art is amazing. It’s kind of a different style than what you usually see in Becky and Frank’s work. It’s fluffy and looks more like an actual comic. Bill and Ted is all ages too, and I hope it continues to be pretty rad. All the Kaboom comics are great, and that’s the stuff I read anyways. I don’t care too much about the nitty gritty superheroes as much because I don’t have the patience to keep track of 500 characters. For example, Wolverine’s dead, but is he not?
Any Kaboom title is awesome. Oni is doing some cool stuff, like an Invader Zim comic pretty soon, and a Rick and Morty one, which I don’t think is all ages, but I read the first issue because I did a cover for it. There’s lots of all ages comics that are really great.
SoS: I have one last super silly question. Why do you like to draw undercuts so much?
IM: I’ll be honest with you. I find undercuts really attractive. There’s really no reason for that. I like to draw them too because the hair can be an extension of the character’s facial expression. If it’s on one side, you can easily have it flop a weird way. This was just a by-product. I thought they were really hot and cool.
Ian McGinty did the art on Bravest Warriors #31, which came out on April 8, and he will being doing the main cover for the upcoming Munchkin #4, which comes out on April 22.