When you can't believe all the things that people say, are you going to call for Contropussy?
That seems to be the case for "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" alum Emma Caulfield, who has teamed up with Camilla Outzen Rantsen, Christian Meesey, Thomas Mauer, and Nick Beranek to create a new webcomic.
Part animal whimsy and part deeper message, the creators of Contropussy sat down with Newsarama to talk about the virtues of webcomics, how an animal cast can work for you, and what exactly the title means.
Click for the EXCLUSIVE Contropussy: Nine LivesNewsarama: So, for those who don't know about Contropussy, to start off with -- the title. What is Contropussy? Is it a character? A pet? A state of mind? And how'd you come up with this title?
Emma Caulfield: Contropussy is a state of mind yes, but literally she is a cat who is not unlike an ID personified. On the surface it is a sort of Sex and the City with animals... go deeper and the comic explores human behavior through a different kind of animal. And the name, well Prince gets credit for that. It's a take on his song "Controversy."
Camilla Outzen Rantsen: I like the idea of Contropussy being a state of mind. Actually, Emma, who has the most fantastic, brilliant and off-kilter mind, came to me and said: “I was listening to the Prince song and I always thought he said Contropussy. I just realized that he said Controversy.” We realized that something was trying to make it’s way out into the world and it was Contropussy. We had to do something with Contropussy. They say children pick their parents, well… So basically is was basic pop music misunderstanding that led to a cat with a lot of opinions.
Nrama: What inspired this story? For those just joining, what's the high concept here?
Caulfield: As far as the inspiration goes, I have a cat who is quite extraordinary and often acts human. He's not allowed out at night but sometimes he gets out and comes home looking hung over and exhausted. It has always made me wonder just what he does when I'm not around and if he could talk I'm sure I would be horrified.
Rantsen: Emma and I just started going back and forth on what we wanted to say with this and the basic idea became “Pussycat with a purpose.” We also wanted her to be a well-rounded character. We have set it up, so that she can do whatever she wants, no boundaries, but sometimes consequences and we also make sure that she has the ticking clock of having to make it back home for when her “owner” gets up in the morning. We had this whole idea that when the city sleeps the animals exist with their own rules, laws and caste systems.
Nrama: Now how are the artistic duties of this being split up? You have Emma Caulfield, Camilla Outzen Rantsen, Christian Meesey, and Thomas Mauer on here -- who's doing what?
Rantsen: Emma and I write. Nick has been more than instrumental in getting Contropussy out. He is her Godfather, if you will. He really just seems to have ideas and it was so much fun for us to work with someone who values enthusiasm just as much as we do. He brought on Christian Meesey as an animator. Meesey brings an extra level to the story telling to the script. It’s not just taking what we have written, but interpreting it, which is so hilarious. Thomas Mauer came on and added his international flair and genius and suddenly Contropussy reigned.
Christian Meesey: The lovely and talented Emma and Camilla created and are writing the endearingly cheeky scripts. I am illustrating and colorizing (with helpful consultations with Thompson Knox), and Thomas Mauer makes it all legible with his masterful topography. (And Nick [Beranek] as the Master Blaster, keeps it all rockin.)
Nrama: Webcomics as a medium are an interesting beast, only because while the distribution is free, the competition is anybody with a scanner and a web site. Why pick this format, and what do you think makes Contropussy stand out?
Rantsen: I just think, with webcomics, the possibilities are endless – and so much fun.
Meesey: Webcomics are the future, makes sense to embrace and enjoy. And the instant gratification is nice.
Nrama: Emma and Camilla especially have some film credits to their names. Why make the move to comics? What do you think is the biggest difference between the two mediums?
Rantsen: I think the story chooses it’s medium. I think this is a great way to tell stories and it’s also a very immediate medium. I love the way Contropussy comes to life. With a movie or a show you have to wait to see your character come to life, sometimes it never does, so this is an amazing experience.
Caulfield: The comic world is something I'm an awkward virgin with, but Nick [Beranek] has been our guide. This is only phase one with merch to come soon and then we go animated.
Nrama: What's a good tease for the future of Contropussy? Is there a future beyond the comics panel? Any moments coming up you're particularly enthusiastic about?
Caulfield: Teasers? Hmm, well without giving much away, we continue to explore the problems, hot topics and social issues facing the human world by subverting them into her world...things like immigration, classism, animal trafficking and always sexual politics.
Rantsen: As a teaser, I will just say these words: Trafficking, evil rabbits and, maybe, tiny handcuffs for squirrels.
Ready to check it out for yourself? Enjoy the exclusive dialogue-less strip up top, and Visit The Contropussy Website and enjoy!