Writer/artist Mike Norton rides his creator-owned title Battlepug over to Image Comics with a new ongoing series beginning September 4. The story of the last Kinmundian and his faithful steed, Battlepug, first came to life as a webcomic (later collected by Dark Horse) - but this time, Norton's new Battlepug stories are debuting in this new series.
Norton spoke with Newsarama about relaunching Battlepug in print, how creating for webcomics is different from printed creator-owned comics, and the move from Dark Horse to Image Comics.
Newsarama: Mike, what initially sparked the idea for Battlepug?
Mike Norton: A podcast called iFanboy asked if I’d like to design a t-shirt for them. It needed to be an original design though. No Supermans or Batmans, etc. I had been doing work for hire for most of my career for companies like Marvel and DC, but I didn’t have a creation of my own at that point really. The idea of a barbarian riding a pug was honestly the first thing that popped into my head. It wasn’t long after that I was asked what the story was with the Barbarian on the pug, and I realized I needed to make one up. It just came pouring out. The easiest it’s ever been making a story. Battlepug is how I learned to love making up my own characters again.
Nrama: How has the series evolved from initial conception to now?
Norton: Not a whole lot. When I first started out, I made a rule: Never be afraid to write or draw what seems to be the silliest or weirdest idea. So I’ve been pretty loose from the very beginning.
Nrama: You have worked on a few webcomics, like Battlepug and Lil’ Donnie. What do you love about the medium of webcomics?
Norton: Mostly the immediacy. In publishing, we have to be done way in advance and more often than not, that’s still in a rush. Often, covers are solicited without a firm understanding what’s even in the issue. With webcomics, I could write, draw and have the comic up for everyone to read that day. Also the audience is technically bigger (but that’s mostly because it was free).
Nrama: What can you tell us about this new volume of the series? How is it different or similar to the webcomic?
Norton: It’s a direct sequel. We’re just picking up everybody’s story a few years after the events of the original webcomic. Things are a bit different. Some people have changed, and some not so much. I promise a complete game changer by the end of the first story arc.
Nrama: What will fans of the webcomic enjoy about the series in print?
Norton: Most of them point out how they just like to have something on the shelf. I was told many times that they waited until it was in print before they could read it.
Nrama: Why did you want to switch from digital to print for this story?
Norton: As I mentioned, I’ve found when I meet people who read the story, they’re usually either a webcomic reader or print comics reader. Not always, but most of the time it breaks down like that. I come from print. It’s comfortable to me. So I wanted to try it out and see if that audience would respond.
Nrama: Battlepug was previously collected through Dark Horse, what made you switch to Image Comics?
Norton: A long time ago at a convention, Robert Kirkman asked me, “Why didn’t you publish this with Image?”. At the time another series I had pitched was rejected and I just didn’t think they would want a story about a giant pug. Now that I’m starting it up again, I thought I’d try it out. It’s a new series and the Dark Horse collections seem like its own sort of collection that was a good fit with DHC at the time. They were putting out lots of webcomic collections.
Nrama: Will this be new reader friendly for people who have never read the webcomic or other collections?
Norton: I’m doing my best to make it new reader friendly. You’ll be able to follow it I think, but there’s a lot of lore in the five years I did Battlepug online that I think readers of that series will be rewarded for.
Nrama: Battlepug has been a long lasting project. Why is it a series that is so special to you?
Norton: Well it’s my baby. It’s the first thing I’ve done were all the parts just clicked and I automatically knew how to make it work. I’ve been lucky to work on projects like Revival where I knew I was making something I was proud of, but this is the first one I created myself. Of course it’s not really by myself. Allen Passalaqua is a main reason I think this book is even worth reading, and I can’t make a comic book without my buddy Crank! I’m lucky to have them as partners.
Nrama: Would you like to see Battlepug spin-off into other titles?
Norton: Sure. In fact, I’d be lying if said I wasn’t already thinking about it.
Nrama: How many issues are planned for this volume?
Norton: As many as they’ll let me make! Or maybe I’ll surprise end it like The Walking Dead! Give me a couple hundred issues first before I decide that.