Interview: Nicholas Gurewitch Pt. 1 (of 2)

Categories:  Interviews

Nicholas Gurewitch[Check out Pt 2 here].

Few if any webcomics have managed to maintain the nearly consistent hilarity of Nicholas Gurewitch’s Perry Bible Fellowship—hell, few strips in any form can claim such a feat, which goes a long way to explain why the title managed to wrangle up Ignatz awards, the last two years running.

Gurewitch has been producing PBF since 2001, when the author, now 24, launched the strip in Syracuse University’s The Daily Orange. Since then, the title has been picked up by papers like The New York Press, The Guardian, the UK and Czech versions of that bastion of absurdely over-the-top masculinity, Maxim, and will be available in an anthologized version from Darkhorse, this summer.

We spoke with Gurewitch about Teddy Roosevelt, Italian candle makers, and why The Perry Bible Fellowship is a mere pit stop on the road to infamy.

Let’s get the stupid question out of the way. Why the name?Nicholas Gurewitch

The name is borrowed from an actual church, from a place called Perry, in Maine.

So it was a just a name that you liked?

Yeah, when it comes down to it. It was an interesting term—The Perry Bible Fellowship. It doesn’t strike me that those words really have a good cohesion, so it almost seems very striking.

Did you have a relationship with the church? Were you living in Maine?

I had a friend who must have stopped by there at one point, because he took from them a poster that advertised an event taking place there. The poster was hilarious, and we didn’t think much of using the name as the name of a comic.

Is there some siginificance to the religious aspect?

I think, when you’re a Freshman at college, you just want to do reckless things. It just seemed like something to do. I really didn’t consider it wisely.

So, you’ve lived to regret it?

I wouldn’t say ‘regret,’ but I will say that I didn’t think it through, when I first considered that as a name for the comic strip. Whether or not it’s a good title, I’m going to live with it, because it reminds me of a decision that I’ve made. It carries a lot of baggage, though. In addition to being provocative and interesting, it’s also extremely misleading, extremely long, and entirely inappropriate.

That’s in keeping with the theme of the strip, though, right?

Do you think the strip is inappropriate?

Sure, to the kind of person that would likely be offended by its name.

Yeah, so in that way, it’s probably a pretty good entrance test for people who might read the comic. All I can say is, maybe it’s a good title, maybe it’s not—we’ll find out someday.

You mentioned that you had started the strip as a Freshman in college. What were you studying?

I studied film.

Is that something that you’re still active in?

Yeah, I adore movies. I love reading about them, and enjoy watching them even more. And making them is probably superior to both of those. I make a lot of movies with friends. It’s been a while since I’ve done any quality film making. I did a lot in college, and have done some ‘professional’ script writing for Comedy Central, but nothing that’s been developed.

Do you have any names of potential Comedy Central shows that you can mention?

We worked for a while developing one called Daisy Garden Story Time.

It sounds like something of a skewed children’s program.

Unfortunately, yeah. The comedy wasn’t based on making a perverse children’s show, but it did have the guise of a children’s show.

That’s something a lot of people point out about your strip–this juxtaposition of the innocent with something sort of horrifying.

Brian, I tend to resent it when people have that outlook. I’d rather the comedy not be seen as just a perversion .

The trope is often there, however. There’s often something of an innocent set up, and a joke that comes out of left field. Is that not how you view the humor?

It always has that appearance, but I would really like to know that the comedy is deeper than that. That the comedy itself is much more grand.

Well, sure. If that were the sole source of comedy, it would have stopped being funny a long time ago. It’s obviously gone a bit deeper, since so many people have found it so lastingly funny.

I like to think that maybe, when those children go into the sewer, to find the Ninja Turtles, that the grotesque last frame represents bad decision making, or some bigger idea. I’m often offended by material that is just perverse. If I see a cartoon that sexualizes Pinocchio, I’m always offended.

[Continued in Pt. II. Yowza!]

–Brian Heater

20 Comments to “Interview: Nicholas Gurewitch Pt. 1 (of 2)”

  1. Dave | February 27th, 2007 at 8:18 pm

    Interesting observation.

    But, how does PBF make you feel on a deeper level?

  2. jordan | February 28th, 2007 at 12:25 am

    SECRET CRUSH

  3. Ben | February 28th, 2007 at 1:27 am

    Wow tweek, that was probably the most winded, annoying and BORING rant of all time. I read three lines and it made my brain want to throw it up.

  4. Austin | February 28th, 2007 at 11:31 am

    Hopefully the second part will actually have some interesting questions in it.

  5. Robert | February 28th, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    @ commenter #1: Wow. I hope I never meet you in RL.

    Brian Heater, I really disagree with your analysis of Nicholas’ comics. I don’t think the punchlines are horrifying at all and most definitely don’t come out of left field. You should really try to understand somebody and their, in this case, comics, before you interview them. Saying that they’re horrifying tells me that you don’t read the comics yourself and that you didn’t spend any time trying to really understand them. Hopefully part 2 will contain some more intelligent questions.

    @Nicholas: The name is good. It’s unique and easy to remember. Don’t change it!

  6. Al | February 28th, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    The journalist is making me cringe. After asking whether it was just a name that Nick liked, you then go on to ask if he had a “relationship” with the church! Surely the previous question would have answered that! I’m also getting tired of journalists asking about the name. If you did your research you’d find that every article has the same question with nearly the same answer. Ask him about his strips and how he makes them. Anyway, good to see Nick getting publicity.

  7. Elizabeth Chou | February 28th, 2007 at 9:52 pm

    If you have questions for Nicholas, there is a way to get in touch with him on his website. Try it.

    Nicholas’ Website

  8. Jay | February 28th, 2007 at 10:01 pm

    My hometown is near Perry, in Maine and I just now found out the strip is named after a bible group there. Mind = blown.

  9. Christopher | February 28th, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    Nicholas, if you happen to read these comments (and I’ll bet you do…at least the first few), I have a question:

    Was “Now Showing” influenced by a part at the end of the Mike Judge film “Idiocracy”? Just curious…

  10. Francois | February 28th, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    I don’t know about Idiocracy, but seeing the trailer for the movie “300″ reminded of that strip.

  11. Robert | February 28th, 2007 at 11:37 pm

    My first comment says…

    @ commenter #1: Wow. I hope I never meet you in RL.

    … which is now obsolete because the first post has been deleted. Please pay no attention to that line.

    I would also like to mention that if the interviewer had read some of the other numerous interviews with Mr. Gurewitch, he would know that his questions are not original but also unique in the way that they’re 110% ignorant.

  12. NG | March 1st, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    I’m guessing the interview was for Brian Heater’s web audience…

    Re: “Now Showing”:

    The idea developed shortly after seeing “Pearl Harbor”. Have not yet seen the Judge-ment

  13. J | March 6th, 2007 at 8:53 am

    Great comic, horrible interviewer.

  14. The Freelance Cartoonist | December 17th, 2008 at 12:42 am

    I love PBF so much.

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  20. The Perry Bible Fellowship Almanack Available in Hardcover