6 X 2 Questions with Gary Cohen & Mike Shea The Creators of Mallville Rules
Mallville Rules is Saved by the Bell with Superheroes if Saved by the Bell wasn’t a pile of shit and had clever writing. Being a fan of comic books I have come to love these characters from their original incarnations done by creator Gary Cohen and their more recent versions with art from the great Mike Shea. I first came into the Mallville Universe when I was attacked on twitter by Mr. Cohen’s always on point humor. He smacked me in the face with his verbal genitalia and ever since then I’ve become a big fan of Mallville Rules. Listen to these two masterminds talk about their creation and how they may one day murder each other just for sport. Do yourself a favor and follow these whores in all manner of social media they hang out on.
The OG: What brought you two bastards together to create the Mallville Universe? Love or some other sordid origin story?
G: Well, I’ve been writing about the characters in Mallville since I was in high school. All of them are based on my childhood friends. I did Mallville solo for about 9 months. But it was just too much work. And I can’t really draw which is a distinct disadvantage. I put an ad on Craigslist and found the most amazing artist. But that didn’t work out. So, then I found Mike.
M: I had some downtime between my MOMA retrospective and my upcoming re-paint of the Sistine Chapel so I figured I’d give this whole comics thing a shot. Gary lucked out with the timing really.
The OG: Mallville has both strong hilarious writing and artwork worthy of being published with a big company. What inspires you both to do what you do?
G: I always loved when a bunch of super heroes got together, whether in a team book or a cross over. I just love the absurdity of superheroes hanging out together. And I loved the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer where each episode combined a classic monster movie with your worst high school experiences. That’s what I try to do but with superheroes instead of monsters. And then a show like Freaks & Geeks which was about friends and high school and is eerily similar to my actual high school experiences. Although I did go to the prom with the captain of the cheerleaders. I know it’s not relevant, but it’s true and I try to mention it at least once a week.
M: The writing is great and Gary really understands how to tell a joke in the old-fashioned sense which I appreciate and enjoy. I think comic and TV writers are sort of losing touch with the punch line and instead reach for familiar scenarios so the audience can say “oh I remember when I laughed at something like that before”. I’m not down with that and I like how Gary goes more for puns and visual gags that support those puns. Also (like most people?) I was a pretty uncomfortable high schooler so I feel like the Mallville world is familiar in a way. And there’s definitely a broader audience out there that will enjoy Mallville as we get deeper into the universe. WAY deeper…
G: I am clearly Skipper and Mike is my little buddy. Or possibly Mrs. Howell. But I think there’s an amazing synergy to our relationship. Mike started out very passive, and just drew whatever I put in the script. But the more he’s challenged me, and the more input he’s given me, the better the comic has become. Mallville Rules would not exist without him.
M: For each episode we do a pencils review and then an inks/colors/letters review and make changes along the way. Most of my input comes in the form of character design and I like inventing new characters to plop into the backgrounds. It’s Gary’s brainchild and I just try to make sure the body language helps the jokes work properly for the reader. Unfortunately he makes me erase all the subtle boners.
The OG: With your satiric take on comics what comic characters and creators do you despise the most? Do you ever draw or write character with extra hate in your heart?
G: I honestly don’t read any comics regularly. It’s probably been 5 years since I had a pull sheet at the comic store. I think our satire of comic book characters and conventions is really very gentle and done with a lot of affection. I don’t like it if I think the comic is lazy, or derivative. I think there’s almost nothing left to say about zombies or vampires. I guess the comic book convention that I hate, and that I try to rally against, would be a general feeling that mainstream superhero comics are basically white male power fantasies and they’re not really inclusive for women, minorities, and people of different sexual orientations. Did it just get real?
M: There was a recent interview with Alan Moore about how the big publishers don’t hire writers anymore, they hire fans to write stories for their favorite characters and it has completely stagnated the industry. I agree with that wholeheartedly and I think the only contemporary superhero comic that I’ve read in the past 10 years or so is All-Star Superman (which I LOVE). I love how in Mallville the characters don’t really fight evil or go on adventures; their powers are just character traits. I should probably do some extra research to poke fun at certain specific characters but I also don’t want us to get sued.
The OG: Do you have an ending to your world? A graduation of these characters or will you just roll into a graduate school story line?
G: Mallville has a definite end. Unless we start making money at some point. Then we will milk this bitch for every penny. But I think we’ll probably do about 100 episodes of Mallville? Maybe 150? And then maybe we’ll do something else. I’ll work with Mike as long as he’ll have me. I have an idea for an animated series for Adult Swim and I’m going to make Mike work on that. He has no idea.
M: I get scripts like 5 episodes at a time; I have no idea what is going to happen next. The only guarantee in Mallville is boobs. Maybe a giant boob meteor will crush the Mallville planet and it will end like that Dinosaurs show. SPOILER ALERT
The OG: Who would win in a fight Wolverine or Mad Dog?
G: Mad Dog would not just win, but he’d literally kill Wolverine in a fight. There’s an episode in Book 1 of Mallville where he disembowels the cast of Glee. That’s what would happen. Mad Dog is like Wolverine taken to an 11. Everything but the adamantium skeleton. But he eats Milk Bones so his skeleton is tough as shit.
M: I think they’d get toasted and watch Netflix together like bros.
6 quick questions you fuckers! Answers are to be given with a maximum of 6 words….and GO!
1. Name 3 male superheroes that you would want to hold you at night?
G: Gradlon, Super Grover, Martian Manhunter
M: Justice League of America Dude Squad
2. Which one of you could fill out a pair of tights better?
G: My ass is breath taking.
M: I firmly believe that you are unprepared for this jelly.
3. Bestiality porn or Brony porn?
G: What’s the difference?
M: Is Brony porn porn that’s been made by fans of My Little Pony? I would imagine there are some attractive humans in that mix so I guess that one.
4. Hipsters or Juggalos who should be killed first?
G: They should fight to the death.
M: I have no disdain for either of these demographics, nor do I think they can be defined accurately enough to merit any specific emotions generated towards them.
5. Who started the fire??
G: Trick question! It was always burning.
M: Gina LaVa, duhhhh
6. How much sex do you get from making webcomics?
G: Sometimes Mike will cup my balls.
M: Let’s just say my girlfriend thinks each episode is too short, but she wants the series to continue for a very long time.