SDCC ’15: Chip Zdarsky – A Life

By Joe Glass

20150712_150414While waiting for the panel to start, our eponymous panelistic hero spent most of his preparation time making faces, meeting and greeting and lying on the floor for no apparent reason. In fact, it seems he is completely incapable of taking a photo without making a garish mask out of his features, or performing some other peculiarity. The anarchism of Chip Zdarsky is alive and well in this panel.

Chip starts at the beginning, talking how he liked comics and he liked to draw, but school ruined any hopes of making money doing it after getting a C- in art….he has since been back to that school to lecture about art.

He joked about being 39 years old and winning the Eisner for the Best Newcomer, and how he has a reputation as someone new to the world of comics, despite making them for thirteen years.

Writing things means he can now take the anger he has at Matt Fraction for giving him difficult things to draw and passed it onto someone else. He’s loving writing in crowd scenes – the bane of artists’ existence. He teased about how he hates Joe Quinones for being so much better at art than he is.

He also raved about Kagan McLeod, artist on Kaptara, who he says is amazing at everything…and again realises he hates him for it. We learned that Chip is actually snuck into the background of every issue of Kaptara by McLeod….which is not uncommon for Chip, who put himself in his first work for Marvel, and also he often puts his friends in his work (think the infamous Sex Criminals scene starring Jamie McKelvie and Kieron Gillen).

Chip’s life and work seems to be filled with ridiculous and laughs, making him honestly sound like the most fun guy in comics, as well as having the most fun IN comics.

Chip then discussed the incredible personal letters that fill the Sex Criminals letters pages. He and Matt Fraction were surprised people opened up to them and Sex Criminals became so huge. His favorite part of the production process is when Fraction sents him the letters for the pages in the issue.

Chip moved on to Jughead, and his similarities to the character (girls are icky and he loves burgers). It all came about by him calling the Archie offices desperate to do an Archie cover, and they put him through to the Archie President (yup, an Archie President). So they had this huge long discussion about Jughead, and the President realised that Chip IS Jughead – the crazy stuff he gets up to on the internet, the personality, it is him.

He discussed the interesting nature of writing for comics with existing universes, and how it hinders you in some ways, but you’re also adding to this vast, awesome thing.

20150712_152940With issue 11 of Sex Criminals, they initially had an idea to do something special like put a $1000 bill in the comic and send them out…until they found out it was illegal. So instead they decided to draw on 1000 comics, so had blank covers and locked themselves in a room drawing complete randomness to start doodling on the covers, or even stickers. Chip remembers being up for 35 hours. Of course, doodling Spider-Man and Batman on 1000 Image comics covers just wouldn’t fly, no matter how they pushed the lawyers….and they basically had to start again. After doing it all again, apparently the book is further delayed as the polybagging machine broke. Matt emailed Chip ‘Why does God hate our cum-angel?’.

Mark Waid turned up to ask a question: who is your favorite member of the Justice Society of America? ‘The guy who has Fair Play written on his arms which I don’t understand at all?’

Chip mentions the last couple of years have been crazy, and he never imagined he’d be in a position where Waid would be asking him a question like that, given Waid wrote the books that brought him back into comics, so he thanked Waid.

He mentioned whilst talking about making creator-owned comics is often more rewarding, and diverted into how they (he and Fraction) want to end Sex Criminals on issue 69…but Chip thinks it would be even funnier to end on issue 68.

Fan loves the inspirational quotes on the back of issues of Kaptara, so wondered where Chip got them from? ‘A wonderful book called the Internet’.

A fan gives Chip a Mexican edition of Sex Criminals, where Chip talks about how weird it is to see his comic translated into other languages.

He talked about facing censorship from Apple, and how it wound up being a boon to the book as it got them so much attention. But he does feel bad for anyone who doesn’t have that platform though. And he finds it odd, because the book isn’t tittillating; if anyone is masturbating over Sex Criminals, Chip does not want to meet them.

Having once pitched Watchmen 2, are there any Mark Waid books he’d love to make? – ‘Justice American Society, was it?’

Is there anything you’ve put in Sex Criminals that you’ve regretted? Apparently, 1000 pictures of a pooping Batman.

About Dan Wickline

Has quietly been working at Bleeding Cool for over three years. He has written comics for Image, Top Cow, Shadowline, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite, Moonstone, Humanoids and Zenescope. He is the author of the Lucius Fogg series of novels and a published photographer.

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