Imagine a world where when superheroes and villains retire, they go to an old age home. Now imagine you get to witness the daily lives of those superheroes as they adjust to being old and out of the game. Add in a few zany plots, and some new takes on the old superhero molds, and you get Brock Heasley’s webcomic, SuperFogeys. Hit the jump to see what Brock had to say as we catch up the Fogeys.
I’ve just gotten caught up with The SuperFogeys. For those who don’t know what it is, can you catch them up a bit?
Put simply, The SuperFogeys asks the question: where do old super folk go when it’s time to get out of the game? In this case, they go to Valhalla, Home for the Supertired. Hero and villain live side-by-side, trapped in their old age and, in some cases, their own immobility.
Earlier this year it was revealed that Dr. Klein, founder and the man-in-charge at Valhalla, is actually a super villain known as the Third Man, though the residents at Valhalla aren’t aware of that fact. That’s really the story of the SuperFogeys going forward: what happens when a super villain is in charge of a community like this? The answer: bad stuff…but also some pretty funny stuff. Well, funny if you think a flying pig with urine that can knock a man out for hours is funny. If not, there’s always Marmaduke. (Oh that Marmaduke, you’re just a punching bag with legs at this point, aren’t you?)
You’ve got some pretty interesting characters inhabiting this home, like Swifty and Space Pig. When trying to fill out the roster of heroes in this home, which archetypes were you most interested in giving your take on?
When I started putting the SuperFogeys together I looked at the DC and Marvel Universes and said to myself, “Okay, that’s the backstory. Now let’s mix it up.” I wanted flavors from both universes. I knew that was the only way to make it interesting and, hopefully, fresh in its comibination.
So, on the one hand you’ve got characters like Captain Spectacular (a lazy Superman), Dr. Rocket (a lecherous Lex Luthor/Dr. Sivana), Star Maiden (an insane Wonder Woman) and Swifty (a crusty Flash), and on the other you’ve got Tangerine (a Wolverine that isn’t aware of his responsibility to guest star in Power Pack) and Spy Gal (a maternal Black Widow). Jerry, the grown-up sidekick, kind of straddles both universes, being equally inspired by both Robin and Bucky.
I cannot explain the addition of the Space Pig. Really, there should be no explanation.
There’s more continuity here than there is in most strips. Trying to service several plots at once is difficult in a book, I can’t imagine how difficult it is to plot a 3 or 4-panel strip. How much does the story change from what you originally planned to what you actually publish strip to strip?
I’ve written both the 22-page comic book and the 4 panel strip and I can tell you that strips, at the least the way I’m doing them, are much tougher. Trying to get the plot to move along while also allowing each strip to stand on it’s own AND avoid the thing about serialized strips I hate more than anything—a first panel that restates the conclusion of the previous strip—is a bit of a bear. Add to that the addition of humor and the deck is kind of stacked against me. I don’t think it’s impossible though. I think I’ve ended up with something that’s unique and, hopefully, compelling.
Planning is something I’ve had to do a lot of to make it all work. If I don’t know exactly where I’m going, it’s easy to get sidetracked. Humor can often lead to digression. So, for the most part, I stick pretty close to my original outlines. It helps that I don’t outline the humor. My outlines are very plot-heavy and I trust that when it comes time to more fully script it that the joke will come. It usually does and if it doesn’t then I try to make sure there’s a sufficient amount of emotional content for people to chew on.
One thing I like about reading a strip like this is you can really see the artist grow and become more confident in their style every week. From the first strip to the latest one, what would you say are the major differences in your approach?
The biggest difference is that I’m not drawing with a crayon. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but it’s not that far from the truth. In the beginning, the SuperFogeys was a down and dirty experiment to see if I could even handle the strip format. Once I figured out I could, the challenge became trying to up my game and make it not look like poo.
I started doing things like changing up my camera angles more, thinking about pacing more, using different pens and paper, and improving my character models and make them more consistent. More than anything, I stopped thinking in terms of “what can I get away with and still tell this story or this joke” and more like “what new or better thing can I do to tell this story or joke better?” Also, tracing PVP helped.
What can readers expect from the SuperFogeys in the coming weeks?
Well, now that one of the original Fogeys is dead, it’s time for a funeral. In fact, the title of the next chapter, Chapter 6, is “Funeral for a Frenemy.” This is something I’ve been looking forward to for a while. Doing a strip about old people, it’s just inevitable that one or more of them is going to die along the way. I want to embrace that and, hey, funerals are just funny, funny times, right? Here’s hoping.
As a part of that, I’m also going to be doing an extended flashback that will delve heavily into the origins of Captain Spectacular and Dr. Rocket. It’s my chance to do my own version of the “enemies who used to be friends” bit and I can’t wait.
Thanks to Brock for taking the time to do the interview. After catching up on all you’ve missed, check out new episodes of SuperFogeys every Tuesday and Thursday over at Th3rdWorld.com/The-SuperFogeys.