Interview with Skyfall Comic Artist Josh Edelglass
Posted February 18th, 2013
Today we have an interview with comic writer and artist Josh Edelglass, who recently published a hilarious series of comics parodying Skyfall and James Bond. The series was part of his project Motion Pictures Comics, which Josh aptly describes as "A boy and his robot mysteriously gain the power to jump in and out of movies. Hilarity ensues."
Q: Tell us a bit more about Motion Picture Comics. How did you come up with the idea of having a man and his robot morph in and out of various films, making fun of them as they go?
Motion Pictures has had a lot of permutations. Back when I was in college, I drew a daily political cartoon for the school paper. After I graduated, I started contacting syndicates. I didn't have much luck with the political cartoon, but I got a few nice responses from people who said if I ever came up with any new ideas, I should try them again. OK, great, all I needed was a new idea!
To me, the thing that always amazed me about the people who drew the daily newspaper cartoons that I grew up loving was, how the heck did they come up with a new idea every day? With the political cartoon, it was easy--every day, there was always new news! So when I was trying to think of a new idea, I started by thinking about things that I enjoyed, and things that would give me a continuing fountain of inspiration. I landed on movies.
I tried out Motion Pictures as a comic strip that I sent to syndicates about ten years ago. Didn't get anywhere. Then I thought, maybe I could self-publish it as a comic book! I actually published four issues of Motion Pictures as a comic book, and, well, I didn't LOSE money, which was good, but I wasn't really making money, and I was frustrated that I was working very hard on something few people were seeing. Then I read a book called How to Make Webcomics by a bunch of successful web-comics creators (Brad Guigar, Dave Kellett, Scott Kurtz, and Kris Straub) and I was inspired to try Motion Pictures again as a comic strip, this time as a web-comic. I've been at it ever since!
Q: Your Skyfall series was 19 comics. Did you plan the jokes out beforehand, or do you generally write as you go along, letting the humour guide you?
Whenever I am about to start on a new movie, I grab a bunch of sheets of scrap paper and spend several hours doodling out all of my cartoon ideas. These are super-rough sketches, with just scribbles and blobs for the characters. But I get all my ideas sorted out before starting to draw a single cartoon. I have no set number of cartoons per movie, though if possible I try to do them by multiples of four (since I try to post four new cartoons every week, and I like to start a new movie on a Monday, rather than mid-week).
Q: It's rare to have a mix of great jokes and good drawing. Which do you find harder, and which is the most enjoyable?
I love a question that starts with such an awesome compliment! Sometimes there's a particular actor or actress whose face is hard to capture, but for the most part, I think coming up with the jokes is the biggest challenge.
Q: What are your favourite individual strips on MPC, for best joke and best drawing?
I am VERY PROUD of these two Star Trek II cartoons. They both really make me laugh. What can I say? I am a Star Trek geek!
This Dark Knight Rises one is a more recent strip I really like. I had fun drawing Bane, and particularly with the first two panels trying to capture two very specific shots from the film. I'm really happy with the drawings and the punch-line in this one, so that's a nice combination!
Q: How did you first get into drawing? Was MPC your first comic?
I've been drawing since I was a little kid!
Q: Which other Bond films do you think are silliest enough to be ripe for parody.
Heh heh, all of them? I absolutely love the Bond films, I have seen them all so many times, but even the best ones have plenty that could be made fun of. The Roger Moore films are all pretty ridiculous, from the moment in Live and Let Die in which we see Bond driving through Harlem, and every single African American person he passes seems to be in on the criminal conspiracy... to when we see octogenarian Moore climbing the Golden Gate bridge in A View to a Kill. But actually, I think the easiest movies to parody are the ones that take themselves very seriously. Casino Royale (the Daniel Craig one, not the Woody Allen one!) came out before I started MotionPictures.com, but I'd love to go back and parody that film one of these days.
Q: If you were to draw another Bond series, which film would you pick first?
I think I just answered that question! In addition to Casino Royale, I think it would be fun to go back and take on the Connery films, starting with Dr. No. For the most part I have only parodied current films on my site, but I have done a few older films (Star Wars Episode I and Episode II, and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)... maybe some-day I will go back and take on those great old Bond films!
Q: Parodies aside, what are your top 5 Bond films?
Number one is Goldfinger, without question. That's my absolute favorite of the Bond films. I wrote about Goldfinger on my site last year, allow me to borrow from that review: The greatness of Goldfinger lies in how the film contains everything that is iconic and wonderful about the Bond series, side-by-side with moments that are outrageously jaw-droppingly dated and unintentionally hilarious. The film features an incredible theme song; gorgeous, ridiculously-named women; a compelling villain; a menacing henchman; an Aston Martin, gadgets, deathtraps, and great action. The film lives and breathes a tone of "cool" -- that unique 1960's vibe and the allure of a hero who is never without a quip, a fancy drink, and a three-piece suit.
The script is fast-paced and very witty, stuffed-full of very funny bon mot. Then, of course, there are the moments that are astoundingly out of date and quite unintentionally laughable: Bond's casual sexism (never more on display than in this film), weak special effects, and, of course, that terry-cloth robe. But rather than hurting my enjoyment of the film, there's something so innocent about those flaws that they actually enhance my enjoyment! I can enjoy myself just as much laughing at something the filmmakers wanted the audience to laugh about (like Felix's good-natured resignation at how his friend James can always be found preoccupied by "a drink or a dame") as I can laughing at those moments that were definitely NOT intended to be funny (like the over-the-top miming done by the actors playing the hoods as they're being gassed by Goldfinger). There's literally not a single moment in Goldfinger that I don't love.
Goldfinger also contains my very favorite exchange in all of the Bond films, at the end when Felix tells Bond that he told the stewardess liquor for three. "Who are the other two?" asks James. "There are no other two," replies Felix. Brilliant!
Q: And your favourite James Bond actor?
Q: You've parodied quite a few films at MPC, what have been your favourite series?
Hmmm... I was very satisfied with my run of cartoons on The Dark Knight Rises... JJ Abrams' Star Trek... I also really enjoyed doing Star Wars Episode I and Episode II and Star Trek II. I mentioned those above, those were the three times I parodied an older movie. It was so much fun, and also so much EASIER, actually having the movie I was parodying at home, on DVD, so I could watch it through and make notes on the jokes as I was watching it. That allowed me to really get into the film, and to write some very scene-specific jokes. I was really proud of how those came out, especially Star Trek II (which happens to be one of my very favorite movies). (That reminds me, I need to move on to Star Trek III one of these days, and Episode III as well...!)
Q: Do you only parody films you like?
Well, that's a very interesting question. I only parody movies that I have seen, and I only see movies that I am interested in. Sometimes I love those films, while sometimes they really disappoint and upset me. I decided when I started this webcomic that I would never make myself go see a movie I was sure I would hate, just because it would be good fodder for a cartoon. Life's too short. So I have missed out on some eminently parody-worthy films, but, you know, I still see more movies every year than I ever have time to parody, so I think I'm OK. I enjoy drawing cartoons about movies I love (like Star Trek II), but boy, it is extra-fun to lay some ridicule on a movie that really disappointed me (the Star Wars prequels, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Prometheus...)
Q: Between the 50s and 80s, there were over 50 syndicated James Bond comic strips. Have you read any of them?
Sadly no! I consider myself very knowledgeable about the Bond films, but I have never read any of those comic strips! Someday...
Q: Do you have a favourite cartoon or film that was based on a comic?
Well, my favorite comic strip growing up was Calvin and Hobbes, no question.
I am a nut for comic books. It's hard to pick a favorite! Some of my favorite comic books series from over the years are Cerebus, Astro City, 100 Bullets, Bone. I love the original run of John Byrne's Next Men. I love Chris Claremont's epic, decades-long original run on Uncanny X-Men. I love Watchmen, of course, and V For Vendetta and From Hell and Top 10. Frank Miller's Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns. I love Alan Davis' run on Excalibur in the late eighties/early nineties (the first part of which was written by Claremont)--that could be my favorite run of any comic book series ever. I love Brian K. Vaughan's Y The Last Man and Ex Machina and Saga. Brian Michael Bendis' Powers. Brubaker and Rucka's Gotham Knights. Speaking of Ed Brubaker, I love Criminal and Incognito and now Fatale. Peter David had a run writing DC Comics' Star Trek comic in the eighties that was glorious. These days I think Mike Mignola's Hellboy comics are the best books out there.
In terms of films based on a comic book, well, I've been loving Marvel's super-hero films from the past several years. The Avengers was terrific fun. My two favorite Batman films are The Dark Knight and the magnificent animated film Mask of the Phantasm. Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2 was pretty terrific. I'd love for Guillermo del Toro to make lots more Hellboy films. I think the three hours long ultimate director's cut of Watchmen (with the Tales of the Black Freighter stuff edited in) is phenomenal, I don't care if the world disagrees, you are all crazy and I am right. Moving away from super-hero stuff, I love The Road to Perdition, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and Ghost World.
Q: Any future projects or comic ideas on the horizon?
Oh my goodness, I have hundred of ideas for projects I'd like to undertake. There just aren't enough hours in the day!!! I have lots of cartoon ideas I hope to get to some day. In addition to the eventual world domination of Motion Pictures, I have an idea for a sci-fi comic book that has been banging around in my head for literally about twenty years. It's my dream to realize that someday. And, to anyone reading this, I also work as a freelance illustrator, and I'm always on the look-out for new (hopefully nicely-paying!) gigs.
Q: What are your biggest hobbies outside of comics?
Drawing, drawing, always drawing!! Everything else pales before that, but I read a LOT and also love to play tennis, though I hardly get a chance these days. I love to play with my three-year-old twin daughters! And I have a great day job working for an amazing summer camp, so that is huge fun.
Thanks to Josh for the fantastic interview. Be sure to check out some of his comics:
Or see them all at Motion Pictures Comics.
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