One of the Internet’s craziest comics is coming to Image. Ryan Browne’s God Hates Astronauts, the epic saga of a horrifyingly dysfunctional superhero team more concerned with their own drama than punching zombie bears and dealing with non-sanctioned redneck astronauts, has been a hit online (you can check it out here) and spawned a major Kickstarter-funded collected edition that Image reprinted. Now, it’s back for an ongoing series that promises to be even more insane than what’s come before, if such a thing is possible.
We interviewed Ryan Browne about this. Eventually, he tried to interview us. Prepare for a descent into madness, along with some preview art!
Newsarama: Ryan, for those who did not experience the terrible wonders of the webcomic and graphic novel, attempt in the plainest terms to describe this world of madness to our naive young readers, including the title.
Ryan Browne: Oh man. Why'd you have to start with such a hard hitting question? WHY!?
Uh, so God Hates Astronauts is a surreally obnoxious parody comic obsessed with Die Hard and Robocop. The webcomic was basically born out of my desire to tell jokes that made me laugh with the hopes that someone else out there would have the same sense of humor.
The story follows a group of irresponsible, small minded and self-centered "super people" who are hired by NASA to stop the growing trend of lunatic farmers who launch themselves into outer space in homemade rockets ships.
Unfortunately in the first series this never got addressed because these "super people" were too busy having extra-martial affairs, stopping bank robing owls with crossbows, and olde tyme boxing bears.
Nrama: What made you want to make this biz ongoing, and why Image?
Browne: A lot of people have asked me why I'm not doing another Kickstarter, and the answer is simple. The Kickstarter for the God Hates Astronauts hardcover was a massive full time job for months and months.
Now with Image onboard, I spend more time making the actual content of the story, rather than hauling books and shipping packages and writing emails to backers. The Kickstarter for the hardcover was the best thing I've ever done, but also the hardest. Working with Image gets me into stores and simplifies the whole production and distribution angle. PLUS IT'S FREAKING IMAGE! THEY MADE BRIGADE!
Nrama: Give us the scoop on our main characters and how they've evolved...or not...since last we saw them.
Browne:We pick up the story about a year from when we last saw our crew. It was important to me that the new series be completely new reader friendly, so we won't be delving too deep into the characters past. The team has matured a little bit and gotten all fancy with their use/waste of government funding.
Nrama:Any new peeps we'll be encountering in this, and what all can you tell us/exclusively share about them?
Browne:I'm pretty excited about 3-D Cowboy. He's the narrator of the series and appears entirely in 3-D. So, if you have those 3-D Glasses handy, you can read a page and only he will pop up in 3-D.
Nrama:What compels you, mentally, to delve into this landscape of madness, which is a pretentious way of asking what's compelling to you about this world and these characters?
Browne: I've built a world where anything can happen. My only real rule is that no matter what stupidly weird thing is happening, every character must be deadly serious at all times. No comedians in the GHA world--unless they are like The Comedian from Watchmen.
Nrama: MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION: Will we see more Gnarled Winslow, and how have you not been sued for that yet? I must ask if national treasure Reginald VelJohnson has expressed awareness of his gorilla-armed counterpart yet.
Browne: Yeah, he's back, but now he has robot arms. All that NASA money put to good use!
I think VelJohnson has a pretty good sense of humor but I've never been able to get in contact with him. I'm safe due to my horrible inability to draw a likeness AND he's altered enough to fall into the parody window.
Love me some Gnarled Winslow... but he probably won't be on the cover of an issue anytime soon.
Nrama: I want to talk about your art style for the series a bit. The real specialty you have for this is in rendering utterly absurd, sometimes grotesque things in a relatively "realistic" style -- that is, playing them straight in a way that only further highlights and enhances their absurdity. What have been some of your biggest influences for this?
Browne: Well, Geof Darrow is an obvious influence. I've never really tried to force a style, the quality of the drawing comes from my familiarity with the subject matter and my interest level in it.
Thus, why I draw a great chicken, but an obnoxiously horrible car. I spent the bulk of my artistic training drawing from life and I think it has started to pay off pretty well as I draw mostly from my imagination.
Nrama: In writing your characters, have you ever tried to imagine what it would be like to go through life with gorilla arms or a ghost horse for a head? If so, what have been the fruits of your discoveries in these visualizations?
Browne: NEVER! NEVERRRRRR!!!?? Have you?
Nrama: What's it been like working with Image?
Browne: Pretty sweet, but not as sweet as working with "a mage." I love mixing potions for his spells...
Nrama:…you’re starting to scare me. How long do you see this series running?
Browne: I'd love for it to run forever, but it all depends on the sales. At this point, if I get to issue 15 I'll be super pumped!
Nrama: What all are some other books/creators our readers should check out in your opinion?
Browne: Well, Manhattan Projects and Chew are my must read books right now. I'm super excited to see where Southern Bastards goes, and I dig Revival, and Tradd Moore's art on Ghost Rider is outrageous. Just started reading East of West, but I get too distracted by how magical Frank Martin's colors are.
Nrama: Have you anything else coming up outside of this book?
Browne: I have another issue of Manhattan Projects coming out in June. It is a Laika the space dog story, and I got to draw a million aliens.
Nrama: HARD SELL: Tell our readers why they should vote with their hard-earned dollars for this book.
Browne: It's only $3.50 and it's 32 pages! HOW CAN YOU DENY THAT VALUE!?!? Plus, you'd just waste that money on half a good beer (or all of one shitty beer). OH, also, GHA will change your life, but you won't be aware of it for at least 30 years. When you are old and you look back at your existence, you will smile (or frown) fondly (or angrily) at how this first issue of God Hates Astronauts saved (or destroyed) your life!
Nrama: Anything else you'd like to talk about that we haven't discussed yet?
Browne: No. How are you doing, though? We've covered my life, let's get into yours...
Nrama: Wait, what…?
Browne: So, Zack, how does writing for Newsarma make you feel inside? Like deep down? Does it make you question one or all of your many realities?
Browne: Zack, how does it make you feel that my spell check constantly thinks your name is misspelled?
Nrama: YOU’RE MAKING THIS WEIRD! YOU DO NOT MAKE THIS WEIRD! I MAKE THIS WEIRD!
Browne: Give it to me straight, Zack. If you could be a chicken with the ability to speak English OR a duck with an ongoing relationship with Maury Povich, which would you be and why?
Nrama: Well, the chicken, obviously…that’s it! This interview is over!
Browne: Thanks for the interview! Any final thoughts?
Nrama: I hate you.
God Hates Astronauts, but you might just love this comic, coming in July from Image!