Think your job sucks? Try working with superheroes. Ken Marcus has gotten rave reviews for his miniseries Super Human Resources, the tale of what goes on when you work in an office where caped crusaders are always dropping by, the receptionist is a reformed supervillain, and even the copier is plotting against you. With the collection due out in August, we talked with Marcus about what happens when you put superheroes in a place like The Office.
Newsarama: Ken, give us the lowdown on Super Human Resources.
Ken Marcus: Basically, the name is the concept. It's about the HR department of the world's most dysfunctional super team. You gotta figure, super heroes need payroll, accounting, shipping, benefits administration and reception -- all that stuff every other organization needs. Alfred or Jarvis don't have time to do all that stuff.
Basically, Super Human Resources tells the story of what it would be like for ordinary folks to work every day along side the word's mightiest, yet most dysfunctional heroes in an office just like yours.
NRAMA: What were the challenges on bringing a full-color creator-owned book out in this marketplace, and how did your background in marketing help you?
KM: Breaking through the clutter is probably the hardest part, especially with so many people cutting back on what they're currently buying. There are so many books out there vying for that shrinking share of the audience's wallet. That's a really thick Previews book. Marvel is putting out so many books, it crowds the shelves for smaller books to even get their day in court. Not to mention we launched Super Human Resources in literally the worse possible comic book market ever. Stupid, Ken
But yes, luckily my background in advertising helped me a lot. I feel a lot more comfortable wearing the "marketer" hat versus the "creator" hat. It was all about hammering home what makes our book different in a simple and memorable way. With little things like our tagline "You think you work with a bunch of freaks? You have no idea." I feel like we did a really good job getting our marketing message out there in as many outlets and forums as we could. And I feel like most people in the comics press want to help -- you just need to be polite, yet persistent.
NRAMA: How did you bring Justin Bleep to the book, and what does he bring to the series?
KM: I posted on Digital Webbing a while back. I got a ton of responses. Justin's art really stood out from the bunch. I figured it would do the same on comic store shelves. I like to say his complete disregard for perspective and anatomy reflects my complete disregard for comics-writing fundamentals.
We are a good match. I feel like Super Human Resources is more of an Adult Swim concept disguised as a comic book. And I felt Justin's art really brings that hyperkinetic, animated, yet warped sensibility to super heroes. He also does character "acting" really well. His faces are really expressive, which is great for a title like ours, which really depends on dialogue and comic timing.
NRAMA: Who are some of your favorite characters in the book?
KM: Zombor, the undead reformed-villain receptionist is probably my favorite. Imagine if Solomon Grundy answered phones at your company, and you're halfway there. It's the worse possible person to be representing your company at your front desk. I love toying with the idea that just about every comic villain has tried to reform and work for the good guys…just not as a receptionist.
Zombor is a blast to write. He seems to be everyone's favorite character, right off the bat.
NRAMA: What's the worst job you ever had?
KM: I've been pretty lucky thus far – no really awful jobs. I've had plenty of horrendous assignments as a writer in advertising. Tons of those. But luckily, they come and go.
I was actually in some Roy Rogers fast food commercials. That was horrible. Some kid didn't show up to the shoot and they made me take his place. I had to take bites out of these cold, chili cheeseburgers all day. Needless to say, it was a long night.
NRAMA: What a pleasant image. Any plans for future tales set in this universe?
KM: Yeah, we'd love to look at Super Human Resources Season Two. We have a lot more stores to tell. It would be interesting to see what a super hero team would do if it suffered financial problems like the ones we're seeing so often in the news today.
There is never a shortage of dysfunction in both office life and super hero life to play with. This concept has a lot of legs, as they say.
NRAMA: Have you considered pitching this as a film or TV series?
KM: We have gotten in front of channels like Comedy Central and Cartoon Network. Who knows? Maybe something will happen. We have a few irons in the fire.
I could see this being a cool TV show -- a mix of Justice League and Dilbert. But my expectations are realistic. These things often go nowhere. But my first love is comics. I'm really just pleased as punch to see our comic on comic store shelves. That was really my goal. Everything else is gravy.
NRAMA: What else are you working on in comics?
KM: Super Human Resources is about all I have time for right now. A crazy job in advertising, plus two young kids, keep me pretty busy. I would love to stay focused on this project for the time being. It's a great outlet. You see a lot of indy creators take on too much work, and the result is a book that is not put out regularly or at the quality the creators first established.
NRAMA: Anything you'd like to talk about that we haven't discussed yet?
KM: Just good old fashioned pimping. Ask your comic book store to order Super Human Resources. Not Really Calm or Cool. Just Collected in the June Previews, order number JUN090688.
We worked really hard to keep the price down to $12.95, so it's a great, inexpensive way to get the series for folks that missed out the first time. But these days, you really have to ask your retailer if you want to see something. That's they way of the indy comics world. Thanks so much.
If you'd like to read the first issue for free, you can here.
Or you can download it to you Iphone for free here:
At this point, you pretty much have no excuse if you want to read Super Human Resources, whose collection comes out in August.