Heroes Con: The Perry Bible Fellowship

Heroes: Nicholas Gurewitch

The twisted clash of Candyland hearts, joyous melancholia and everything-and-kitchen sink art style of Nicholas Gurewitch’s breakthrough success, The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories, doesn’t imply an orderly panel discussion at Heroes Convention.

Rather, the first creator-focused panel at Heroes Con was more a conversation you would chuckle about overhearing in a restaurant. Gurewitch and Heroes Con creative director Dustin Harbin skipped over obligatory questions about Gurewitch’s past – beginning his webcomic series The Perry Bible Fellowship online, which lead to magazine and newspaper syndication, which lead in turn to the massive success of Colonel Sweeto by Dark Horse Comics.

Fans supplied the obligatory questions about Gurewitch’s future – he’s working with BBC to shoot a pilot for live-action interpretations of the PBF strips. “We’re adapting a couple of the PBFs to the format,” Gurewitch said, later wishing the Brits allowed the creator to recreate The Twilight Zone in Gurewitch’s references-gone-wild image. “It’s going to be 12 minutes of live action sections.”

Gurewitch is also preparing for the November release to Dark Horse’s follow-up to Colonel Sweeto, The Perry Bible Fellowship Almanac, in November.

The Almanac will collect all but a handful of Gurewitch’s comics into a full-sized collection, some previously unpublished, giving his three-five panel strips more room to shine. Gurewitch said it took a year to convince a publisher to collect comics already available free online; with his first book proving a success, the Almanac boasts bigger production values.

“[The Almanac is] going to be nice and big, you’re going to be able to see the comics, which I wanted to do with the first book and we didn’t have the budget,” he said.

What Gurewitch and Harbin did discuss was mostly on the present and a plethora of intimate details: Gurewitch has no tattoos, but slid into second base this week and removed some leg hair. His last name has roots in Poland “but it’s an Ellis Island creation.” At 8, Gurewitch was jealous of his sisters witch costume and demanded one of his own; his mother suggested he be a warlock instead, “which wasn’t nearly as cool.”

And with plans for the hardcover and the impending television pilot and no longer driven by newspaper deadlines to create, Gurewitch chose to release fewer comics on his site.

“I’m starting to relax. The book is doing work for me every day,” Gurewitch said, comparing his PBF workload to a wire bracket guiding a tree in a certain direction. “It’s nice to not be chasing a newspaper deadline. I’ve had that for a few years and I just need to breathe a little bit.”

One fan asked why Gurewitch’s varies his drawing style to accommodate stick figures among his more intricate works. One example cited was a bubbly farmer shooting himself at the head in front of a distraught gopher – the same strip highlighted at SPX Small Press Expo.

Mixing the Candyland with the macabre is a key combination in his work, what Gurewitch calls the Joy of misfortune. “That style helps direct the viewer to what’s going on,” he said. “I want to show the round-headed guy who blew his head off without the reality.”

With the reality removed, Gurewitch said the point of the cartoon could be understood. “It’s kind of a treatise of zen ideology.”

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