What’s the best part about starting a comics blog? The hot comics blog groupies, naturally. The next best part? Having geniuses like Tony Millionaire taking the time to speak with you, despite having to take care of his house full of sick children.
In this second part of our interview with the Sock Monkey/Maakies artist, we actually recover from the preemptive thrill of the upcoming Drinky Crow Show pilot for Adult Swim [for more info, please consult Part One] for long enough to actually discuss other projects. Of course, immediately after the conclusion of this interview, we hung up the phone and started searching on eBay for bootleg cash-ins on the forthcoming 11-minute epic animation event.
Please enjoy the fruits of our momentary restraint.
You’re also working on children’s book?
Yeah, it’s about a kid who wants to be a superhero, and he finds that these insects in his backyard have super powers. They’re not great superpowers, but they’re pretty good for insects. The ant’s power is that it can talk, and there is a worm that can listen. You can barely tell that he’s listening, except that he looks at you, which is much more than any normal worm can do. To these bugs in the backyard, the kid is like a superhero, because he can lift up tin cans and put sticks together, and help them build this little fortress. He’s this amazing super creature that’s enlisted to help them. It’s just a cute story for little kids, about how heroes are heroes to different people, for different reasons.
Is it something that adults will be able to enjoy as well?
Yeah. You know, I have two little kids, so I have to be very careful about writing. There are a lot of kids books that I get, where after I’m done reading, I just stick it in the closet or hide it under the bed, because I never want my kid to pull it out and ask me to read it, because I can’t stand it. There are a lot of books that I love reading to the kids, like Mo Willems. It’s very pleasant, and the story is interesting for adults, but it’s a kids’ book, and this thing that I’m writing is definitely a kids’ book. You wouldn’t read it, unless you had to read it to a kid, but it has to be fun to read, and it has to have a rhythm to it, when you’re speaking it. I like Mo Willems’ book, Don’t Let the Pigeons Drive the Bus, because the story is the bus driver tells you, if a pigeon comes on the bus, don’t let him drive it. And there’s a picture of the pigeon, who says, ‘hey kids, can I drive the bus?’ And the kids yell at the pigeon. It’s a lot of fun to read, because the kids are yelling at the book and they get to say, “no,” which there parents are telling them all day long. And they finally get to yell at someone.
Do you specifically like the superhero genre? I know that you did that Batman story a while back.
I do like Batman. That’s my weakness. I like him because he didn’t really have a superpower. It was a little more believable. Superman was supposedly so strong that he could jump over tall buildings, but then when you saw him hovering in mid-air, it was like, come on, that’s just fucking magic. Batman was almost like Mission: Impossible.
Would you be interested in taking on a full Batman book?
Yeah, I’ve actually pitched them a few before.
What kind of stories did you pitch?
I had one where Batman went completely broke. His corporation went completely broke. He was like, ‘should I throw this Batarang? These cost me $550 each. I’m not really sure I can afford to throw it. I should probably just run.’ And he had to sell all his cars and ride a bicycle around. If anyone sees him on a bicycle with his costume on, they’ll catch him, so he can’t even wear that anymore. He just has to wear a t-shirt and run around. They said, “no, we’re not going to do that” [laughs]. I’d like to do a story about the real Batman, what a real Batman would be like. Just some guy, who’s not really that rich. He’d just run around and try to figure out where the crime is. In my neighborhood, all he’d be doing is running up to cars where they’re selling drugs out the window.
Any real life superhero would have to be a bit crazy. You see a lot of footage of people who think they’re Spider-man or Superman, running around with a gun.
In the first Batman issues, Batman carried a gun. I have a picture from the second issue, where the criminal is a vampire in a coffin, and Batman takes out the gun and shoots him, while he’s in the coffin. I thought, wow, for the Bizarro books, let’s let him have a gun, and they said, “Tim Burton wanted us to let him have a gun, if we’re not going to let him have a gun, we’re not going to let you have a gun. That was just a mistake from the first two issues.”
Do you read any of the current comics artists?
I read Johnny Ryan a lot. I like Dan Clowes, too, of course. Chris Ware, I know he’s a great artist, but I can’t afford the emotional depression. I love Ivan Brunetti. I think he’s one of the funniest gag artists ever.