Cartoonist Takes Classic Strips Into War With WEAPON BROWN
Cartoonist Takes Classic Strips Into War
Some things are so wrong they’re right. Consider the case of Weapon Brown.
It is the future, after the Last War. Across the apocalyptic landscape rides a lone figure known as “Chuck,” a single hair curled across his forehead, a tattered yellow shirt with a single stripe concealing his Schultz 777 gun. With his dog Snoop and a bionic arm, he battles the likes of a kite-eating tree, a Cthulhu-esque figure known as the “Great Pumpkin” and a massive orange creature with a voracious appetite called a “Garf.”
If some of these ideas sound familiar…you’re right. Anything you’ve ever read in the funny pages has been twisted, mutated and evolved into something very, very wrong in these adventures, which are filled with violence, swearing and many, many laughs (though it’s recommended for mature or immature readers only).
First appearing in the pages of the anthology Deep Fried, Weapon Brown has earned a loyal following, who follow his online storyline “Blockhead’s War” as it’s regularly updated on www.whatisdeepfried.com, where you can also buy hard-copy editions in the “store” section.
We recently encountered this depravity for ourselves, and had to talk to the creator, Jason Youngbluth. We got the heads-up on the climax of “Blockhead’s War,” his influences on the strip, and what’s next. Get ready to take a trip to the world of Weapon Brown.
Newsarama: Jason, let's start by giving our readers the hard sell -- explain Weapon Brown to them.
Jason Youngbluth: Attention citizens of America! Buy Weapon Brown now, or I will kill you and eat your pets! No explanation for my cruelty will be forthcoming!
Nrama: …that might be too hard a sell. Try...plot explanation.
Youngbluth: Alrighty: Weapon Brown is a hard bitten, hard hittin’ cyborg blockhead, the adult incarnation of a famous bald comic strip star who was pushed too far and now walks the wastelands seeking wishy-washy revenge!
Nrama: Better! And what are some of his highly disturbing misadventures?
Youngbluth: Chuck (as I call him) has been in one scrape after another, confronting the wicked Dr. Lucille VanPelt, facing off against the Great Pumpkin, nearly getting swallowed by a12-story Garfield...standard stuff for a comic of this sort.
He is currently on the side of a group of rebels trying to survive against the evil Syndicate, who have just unleashed their ultimate weapon against him, a next generation cyborg known as C.A.L-v.1N.
Nrama: You've explained this on your site, but how in God's name have you not gotten sued?
Youngbluth: Cuz I ain't done nothing wrong! It's stinkin' parody! I've got 12 Supreme Court justices backin' my play!
Nrama: …um, could you clarify this? It might help some other creators out.
Youngbluth: My story is a ribald send-up of the funny pages. In as much as I have made it a parody, my goal is to lampoon and critique the characters I have based my own creations on.
Therefore, when I goof on Charlie Brown, Beetle Bailey, Annie, etc, I am having fun at the characters expense, not at the creators’ expense.
Nrama: And tell us about some of your twisted parodies.
Youngbluth: I like to take running gags from comic strips and reveal the dark truth behind them. So for instance, I reveal just why Beetle Bailey never takes off his helmet. Ziggy cannot get away with going pantsless, and the cavemen of B.C. are revealed for the cannibalistic brutes they would actually be.
Youngbluth: Oh God...this thing has grown like an untreated melanoma. “Blockhead's War” was supposed to be a companion to the original 48-page Weapon Brown one-shot. I don't know how I let it grow so large.
Nrama: It seems like you're reaching the climax of it, or do you see this going on for a while longer?
Youngbluth: The final story arc in which Chuck and Cal square off is going to begin by the end of summer. After an explosive and hilarious finale, the story will wrap, and I will gather all my Weapon Brown work into one graphic novel.
Nrama: Will this be the end of Weapon Brown, or have you more stories planned?
Youngbluth: There will be room for a sequel. However, by that time all the best characters and jokes will be in Chuck's taillights, so I expect that this will wrap with the end of the CAL-v.1N story arc. By “sequel,” I mean that there is one story left to tell, but I think it will be best left to the audience's imagination.
Nrama: I was curious about your art style for this -- was it influenced by classic 2000 A.D. strips, such as Brian Bolland on Judge Dredd?
Youngbluth: I have pulled a lot of artists into my work, and I love the grittiness of 2000 A.D.. I think I have been most influenced by John Byrne's OMAC series, at least as far as creating the world and perhaps modeling the ruthless loner that is Chuck.
However, movies like Mad Max and A Boy and His Dog (actually, the spoken word novel) have had stron influences on the story as well.
Nrama: You've also had some pretty obscure comic strips in this storyline. How much research have you had to do for this, and what are some of your all time favorite strips, particularly older ones?
Youngbluth: I am not an archivist of classic strips by any means. My favorite strips were the ones I grew up with, some of which are now defunct: Funky Winkerbean before it became a soap opera, Herman, Bloom County, Doonsebury, Garfield, and some obscure ones like Miles to Go are what whetted my appetite for comic strips.
The favorite defunct reference I have made so far was using a short-lived caveman character called Ug, created by Ziggy's Tom Wilson, in a battle scene with other troglodytic characters. I really like dropping in the sorts of characters that maybe five people on the planet would recall.
Nrama: I think Funky Winkerbean might actually be more depressing than your post-apocalyptic wasteland.
Youngbluth: I've got a nice Funky gag that I can't wait to use in the last arc. Tom Batiuk wants his characters in a war zone? He's got it!
Nrama: What inspired this madness in the first place?
Youngbluth: When I was in high school, I brainstormed the idea of an adult, Road Warrior style Charlie Brown. Maybe I had just gotten my first bootleg of Heavy Metal on VHS. But that idea remained with me until 2000, when I started publishing Deep Fried, which is an anthology of different stories I've created. I dusted off my concept and hatched that egg as “A Peanut Scorned.”
Nrama: Did the response to the character and the concept surprise you?
Youngbluth: I was not surprised to see that it was well received, but I have been pleasantly surprised that the story has grown such legs.
Nrama:: What's the most interesting feedback you've gotten on this?
Nrama: Have you ever come up with a parody that was just so wrong you couldn't do it in the strip, and if so, could you share it with us?
Youngbluth: I wish I could say I had, but I pretty much have no shame.
Nrama: And what else are you working on, or what do you have planned after Weapon Brown?
Youngbluth: I have plans to return to Deep Fried once Weapon Brown has wrapped, and there seems to be a demand for more Clarissa stories, if her infamy on 4Chan is any indication.
But aside from self-publishing, I am eager to get some projects in front of publishers. I have a refurbished concept that was meant to be an Ambush Bug series for DC that eventually petered out, but I'd like to send that out into the world. Imagine a team of Rob Liefeld-designed ‘90s heroes going up against the sort of villains Batman fought on his TV show and you've got the picture.
Nrama: Anything you'd like to say to your fans?
Youngbluth: I've got a million things I'd like to say! Starting with “Give me your money!”
Okay, okay...well, I hope people will keep coming to whatisdeepfried.com several times a week to keep up with Chuck's story. I am also about to release issue #4 of volume 2 of Deep Fried, which includes a new Weapon Brown short just for the fans (this will only be available for a limited time, so stock up on your mylar sleeves!)
There will also be a new issue of Weapon Brown available soon, so people should get excited about that.
See Weapon Brown give the future some good grief at www.whatisdeepfried.com.