FCBD13 Interview: Jeff McClelland Describes Tick and FUBAR

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Jeff McClelland gives his take on his comics,Tick and FUBAR, and discusses their availability at Free Comic Book Day 2013!

FCBD: For those who might be new to your comic book, give a quick rundown. What can we expect to see in terms of story and art?

Jeff McClelland: I’m a pretty lucky guy in that I am participating in two books for this Free Comic Book Day.  How exciting!

First off we have The Tick: Free Comic Book Day 2013 Special.  Many readers will recognize the title from its 25-year publishing history, but others will undoubtedly fondly recall the cartoon or live action series.  In this book, the Tick, Arthur and some other super-hero friends take a well-deserved beach vacation, only to discover that there are threats that exist even outside of the City.  This story is a good primer, if I’m allowed to say so, for new readers as it tells a brand new, complete story, and you don’t have to know anything about the characters to enjoy it!  As is common with the Tick, there’s lots of humor wrapped up with a side helping of action and drama.  This story is drawn by Duane Redhead, who also drew the cover.  I’ve worked with Duane before and he’s got a classic style that really works with the Tick and friends.

This book also includes two brand new short stories written by me with art by Pietro.  Pietro brings a different look to the Tick, one that I hope will be well received.  All in all, there’s a bundle of new Tick material to be had in this special issue.

I’m also writing a short story for the FUBAR: Free Comic Book Day Special issue.  Where the Tick is an all-ages book, FUBAR tells zombie war stories in the style of books like Blazing Combat and is for mature audiences.  It’s a lot of fun to work in different styles and the two books are certainly different.

My FUBAR story centers around Edward R. Murrow, the legendary broadcaster, as he covers the London Blitz at the beginning of World War II.  All FUBAR stories incorporate zombies into the theme, and this one is no different!  This FCBD special also features stories from such talented folk as Chuck Dixon, Jeff McComsey, Steve Becker, Shawn Aldridge, Chris Peterson, Reine Rosenberg, Michael McDermott, Christine Larsen and Jason Copland.

FCBD: What has been your favorite part of the book or character to tackle?

I think that anyone who’s ever read Ben Edlund’s run on The Tick immediately fell in love with the title character.  The Tick is, on the surface, such a goofy character, but there’s mystery and an intrigue to him as well that makes him such a well-rounded figure.  The Tick could easily be nothing more than a parody like so many others, but he presents something much more complex than many other comic book characters are able to do.  I will say that the older I get, the more I appreciate a character like Arthur, though.

FCBD: Tell FCBD fans why they should pick your book first on Free Comic Book Day!

JM: The great thing about Free Comic Book Day is that you don’t have to limit yourself to just one book!  So while I hope that one of my books is the first to grab your attention, Mr. or Ms. comic shop purveyor, I’ll be satisfied if you leave the store with The Tick and FUBAR in hand, regardless of lineup order.  May 4th is the day to try a wide range of books, not just those with which you are familiar or comfortable.

FCBD: What other titles would you associate with your FCBD book? “If a comic reader likes _______ , they should pick up my title"?

JM: That’s tough to say, because each book out there has something that makes it unique, and hopefully my two books have some original qualities to them as well.

I’d say that someone should pick up The Tick if he or she likes comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously - something like Futurama or Adventure Time.  And if someone likes war stories like Blazing Combat or zombie stories like The Walking Dead, I hope he or she will also give FUBAR, a book that mixes both genres, a try.

FCBD: What’s your favorite part about working in comics?

JM: There are so many great things about working in comics, but I’d say that my favorite part is working with other talented creators to put together a complete story.  It’s always rewarding to see your work as it goes through its many stages.

FCBD: Many newcomers will pick up comics for the first time on FCBD—what was the first comic you remember reading?

JM: I grew up surrounded by comics, so there are probably a solid ton of books that I’m forgetting.  My dad gave me several stacks of his comics to read when I was just a little tyke, and two of them stand out in my memory - Fantastic Four #183 (the Negative Zone! The Brute! Buscema/Sinnott/Perez!) and Avengers #157, which I read until the cover fell off.

FCBD: Where will you be for this year’s FCBD? Do you have any annual FCBD traditions?

JM: Through means of sheer coincidence, it seems that I rarely go to the same shop for each year’s Free Comic Book Day festivities.  I’ve been to shops in Pittsburgh, PA; Lacey, WA; Youngstown, OH; Wilmington, NC and others for previous incarnations of FCBD.  It’s a fun time to see what other shops have to offer.  But no matter where you go, taking some time to enjoy the people you’re with and surroundings is the most important part of any Free Comic Book Day.

This year, I’m hoping to set up a signing at one (or two!) of New England Comics’ many Boston-area stores.  The details aren’t quite in place yet, and you never know what will happen, but I really hope that I can make it up there on May 4th.

FCBD: Looking to the future of the book, is there anything you can tease about what's upcoming?

JM: There are always wheels turning when it comes to comics - another thing I love about them.  I’m not sure what the future holds for the Tick, but I hope to continue my relationship with the folks in charge of that book, if the fates will it so.  FUBAR is barreling ahead with its third graphic novel (out a few weeks before Free Comic Book Day!) and a slew of miniseries such as “By the Sword”, which takes the zombie crisis back to the medieval world and a few other select time periods.

FCBD: Tell us why everyone should read comic books?
If you know where to look, there really is something for everyone when it comes to comics, from the traditional action/adventure to biography to comedy to romance to horror…and it’s all being put together by some of the most creative people in the world.  Comics do things that are impossible to do in any other medium, and it’s that uniqueness that will keep the art form moving forward.






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