Awesomesauce: Literally. Andy Belanger on Bottle of Awesome

Launching back in October 2007, ZudaComics.com has become a portal for webcomics featuring several ongoing strips as well as a monthly competition with the winners receiving a contract to do their comic for one year. In addition to the monthly winners, Zuda from time to time gives some submissions an “instant win”, bypassing the competition and coming on to the site as a regular feature. Over the 20 months Zuda has been around several strips have been given the “instant win” honor, and now there’s another.

And it comes in a bottle.

Andy Belanger’s comic strip Bottle of Awesome debuted at Zudacomics.com on Monday of last week, and although only a handful pages have been released thus far – those pages do indeed contain ‘awesome’. In this ongoing series, a young high school student finds a savior from the bullies, jerks and teachers when he lays hands on the titular Bottle of Awesome that promises to change things for him and his life. To make it, literally… awesome.

Belanger is no newcomer to webcomics – he’s been doing it for several years over at Transmission-X with the series Raising Hell. We talked with Belanger by email for more.

Newsarama: Andy, thanks for talking to us. How would you describe Bottle of Awesome?

Andy Belanger: Bottle of Awesome is comic about the greatest drink ever to hit the planet. It's the story of a lonely loser in grade 9 who wants to break free from the prison that is Waterdown Collegiate High. The story is narrated by his unrequited love in a post apocalyptic future. She regales the story of a boy tortured by unrelenting bullies, a tyrannical gym teacher and a gang of neo punk emo thugs.

That is until Billy is chosen to wield the Bottle of Awesome. With one swig Billy instantly becomes the most Awesome at what ever he wishes. Ever wanted to ace that math test? ever wanted win the big game? ever wanted to be cool enough to kiss the girl? Take a drink of this comic and find out how.

NRAMA: Tell us more about Billy Butterman.

AB: Billy Butterman or as the kids call him Billy "Butterpants" is in all of us. He's a vehicle for us to travel to that awkward 14 year old body that took us through the mine field that was high school.

Billy is an underdog to say the least. He's an average kid given a golden ticket to become Wily Wonka himself. However Billy is no superman, he's human. Billy's been crossed, treated like dirt, taken down by the man. He wants a little justice and comes up with some crafty ways to pull it off. Billy will also learn that being really awesome comes with some tough lessons. Drinking too much can be bad.

NRAMA: Ok, enough beating around the bush. What is 'The Bottle of Awesome', and where can I get one?

AB: The Bottle of Awesome is the cup of Christ, it's a genie in a bottle, it's Popeye's spinach. The B. of A. is your own personal ticket to amazing. One swig and you become Jimi Hendrix, Muhammad Ali, James bond. The bottle gives you all your dreams on a silver platter. Where can you get one? well I wouldn't suggest looking to the same place Billy gets it but I'm sure you'll be getting a swig every time you come to Zuda to check it out. As yet no one has come to me and asked to market a Bottle of Awesome, but it could happen.

NRAMA: And I’d be first in line to buy it. Before you get my tastebuds watering too much, let’s talk about your past.

Andy, you're no stranger to webcomics - you've been doing it with> Transmission-X since 2007 with your strip Raising Hell. First off, what> made you take to webcomics?

AB: When we started Transmission-x (Ramon perez, Cameron Stewart, Karl Kerschl, Scott Hepburn, Mike Cho, Claudia DaVila, Arthur Dela Cruz, Brian Mclachlan) it was an outlet for us to work on our own properties. Much the way Image started but with out the millions of dollars in sales, CURSES! we were all working in comics commercially and we all knew that working on titles we didn't own wouldn't give us a lot of longevity in this business. The real fun part of comics is doing the whole shebang! Writing and drawing, coming up with the concepts is where it's at. That's the part of this job I get really jazzed about. And I should say what job? drawing comics is the most fun I've ever had, I'll be doing it until they stick me in a box and chuck it six feet under.

Web comics have revolutionized self publishing, it only costs time and if your webcomic is popular it's a pretty good indication it will do well in print. It's essentially a great marketing tool that cost very little. In regards to Raising Hell it is still going strong and the story line I'm working on will go at least another two years. I needed to tell these two stories at the same time ( Bottle of Awesome and Raising Hell) to gain a little balance. The one story is super dark and is about to get a whole lot darker and the other is my popy fun comedic side. You can't have all the ebony keys without a little ivory.

NRAMA: And then, why'd you decide to try Zuda?

AB: Zuda launched about the same time we did and I remember meeting Kwanza in San Diego that year. Ramon and Karl had done some work for the sites launch so we all got to talking. Kwanza basically gave an open invitation to pitch ideas to them anytime we wanted so the rest is history. We were at the con in New York having what was probably a whole lot of beer when I told Kwanza and Ron Perazza I had an idea for a comic. Bottle of Awesome, it's about a boy who drink a magic bottle and gets really awesome. Sounds simple but I think it sold on the title alone. So over the next year the story started to form in my head and during my Christmas vacation I just got the bug and had to put it to paper. I literally laugh my ass off while doing it.

Sometimes I think "WOW, this might be the craziest thing I've ever done?" If you thought Raising Hell was zany you just wait, bottle of Awesome is that times a hundred. Zuda dug it and on my birthday they told me it was a done deal.

NRAMA: Ron and Kwanza are good at birthday presents – I need to remind them about mine. Enough about me, before we go -- How long do you foresee Bottle of Awesome going?

AB: The beauty of Bottle of Awesome is that it could go forever.

NRAMA: Like Superman only… awesome-er?

AB: [laughs]  You could back in history to other people how have had the bottle or to future frontiers of space awesome. The sky is the limit! for now however I just want to get my boy Billy out of high school. The fist 60 strips are just grade 9 and let me tell you, the first chapter would make a great film all by itself. So much happens in the first arch that trying to top will be a fun yet crazy challenge. As long as there is the bottle there will be stories to tell.

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