Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Fireside Chat with Nate Cosby and Doc Shaner from Buddy Cops

You're in for a real treat for today's Fireside Chat, because we had the great opportunity to speak with not one but two fantastic comic book creators. Specifically, we sat down to chat with Nate Cosby and Evan 'Doc' Shaner, two talented creators in their own rights who combined their considerable skills to give the world Buddy Cops, an absolutely hilarious comic featuring the best odd couple. The title appeared in Dark Horse Presents and is being published as a stand-alone one-shot today! So join us on the other side as we talk buddies, cops, and everything in between.

Nate Cosby is a former comic book editor turned comic book writer who has given the world such instant classics as Archaia's Cow Boy.  Doc Shaner is a comic book artist who is clearly on the rise.  Alone, the two are incredibly talented creators in their own right.  Together, they are the creators of the ridiuculously silly and ridiculously awesome Buddy Cops.

File photo of Nate and Doc.
Grant McLaughlin: I'd like to start with a simple question: why Buddy Cops?

NATE: I mean...the best stories in all of literature have been about buddies. Romeo & Juliet, for instance. They were buddies with benefits, and hemlock. Think there was probably swords in that too? I dunno, I'm not a reader. Buddies are fun. And cops're good cuz they get to hit/shoot bad things.

GM: Fair enough.  Similarly, where did the idea come from? And how did you two end up working together on the project?

NATE: Me'n Doc found each other on Twitter. He drew a picture of Ben Grimm fighting a thing while eating ice cream and I realized how damn pretty he can draw crazy stuff. So we started banging our heads together about possible projects, and Uranus and T.A.Z.E.R. came out of that. For some extremely questionable reason, Dark Horse agreed to publish it.

DOC: I had been talking to then Dark Horse Presents editor John Schork about pitching something for DHP just about the same time I started talking to Nate. Not really being a writer myself I asked Nate if he'd be interested in taking Buddy Cops (which I believe we were calling FUZZ at the time) to DHP, and Dark Horse went for it.

GM: For the sake of anyone foolish enough to not already be familiar with Buddy Cops, would you be able to describe what the story is about and why those foolish fools should be reading it?

The aforementioned Thing / ice cream pic.
NATE: Uranus is a space-cop with a jet-pack and glowing space-sword, demoted to the NYPD for drinking in space. T.A.Z.E.R. is a super-anal 1970s traffic android that was decommissioned, then accidentally turned back on by a janitor. The police chief hates both these guys, so he partnered 'em together and makes 'em fight monsters and such. It's really stupid. You should read it if you're drunk, or bored, or both, or neither. There's explosions.

GM: Explosions are good!  Buddy Cops takes place in New York City, stars two members of the NYPD, and features a heck of a lot of giant monsters. What kind of research did you guys do while working on these stories?

NATE: I lived near the park that's featured in Chapter 1. I attended the church featured in Chapter 2. And I spit off the building featured in Chapter 3. Buddy Cops is pretty much my autobiography, but with way less weird stuff. But the awesome monster designs are all Doc.

DOC: I had to do a lot of digging for photos of New York, having only been there once. I really wanted to make sure these felt like they were in New York, especially since Nate's scripts centered around specific New York buildings and landmarks. Otherwise a lot of the stuff was pretty open to interpretation. For example, T.A.Z.E.R. doesn't wear the same uniform current NYPD officers wear, he's in the same jumpsuit he was found in, which was supposed to be what a scientist from the 70s thought future cops might wear.

GM: On that topic, what were you channeling in the creation of these characters?

NATE: The dynamic of two people working together and barely tolerating one another's is very much inspired by two of my favorite series, Quantum & Woody (by Christopher Priest and MD Bright) and Justice League (by Keith Giffen, JM DeMatteis, Kevin Maguire). My favorite parts of those series were heroes hilariously bickering with one another instead of taking care of the tasks at hand. So I figured "well, we've got 8 pages at a time here...how 'bout we boil this down to our heroes bitchin'n moanin' at each other the entire time, while monsters're getting hit?"

Buddy Cops T.A.Z.E.R. and Uranus.
As for dialogue/personality, plenty of Uranus is from my own experiences, ragging on friends (and getting ragged back in return). I very much fall into the white-boy-loving-Wu-Tang-a-little-too-much stereotype. (There's never a wrong time to hear 36 Chambers.) T.A.Z.E.R. started as your standard authority figure, but his personality started showing as we went along...there's some repressed rage in T.A.Z. You'd be pissed too if you had to sleep in a janitor's closet for 33 years.

DOC: After some back and forth with the initial designs we decided that effectively T.A.Z.E.R. would be the beat cop and Uranus was the bike cop, which helped fill out their designs. From the beginning I wanted T.A.Z.E.R. to have a very simple design and not lean too hard on him being a robot visually. Like, if he weren't orange you'd think he was just some bald guy until you got up close. I think the idea for him to be that bright orange color was Nate's, so that he'd look like a walking traffic cone. Uranus was trickier in terms of his uniform, I went through a lot of takes on his helmet before we hit on the bike cop aspect. Another idea of Nate's that I liked but I don't think we ever state explicitly is that the giant sword of his originally belonged to another (much bigger) member of the space cops he comes from.

GM: I loved that giant sword. Never even questioned its provenance. On the other hand, I was curious as to why T.A.Z.E.R. doesn't wear shoes. That seems uncharacteristically dangerous of him, even considering he has robot feet.

NATE: He's gotta have bare feet for when he's breaking apart, so all his digits can fight crime  simultaneously. Never know when a lil' orange toe might save the world.

DOC: I also think it's another neat subtle detail that sets him apart visually.

GM: How was the collaboration between you two? Do you have any favourite moments? Any challenges in the process?

NATE: It was a living hell for Evan. It was great for me. I loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove working with Doc (though he's gonna be too busy/famous/rich to work with in T-minus 3...2...1...). His style and sensibility are right in my sweet spot. Whatever he draws just makes me smile. He respects the way the masters made comics in the Golden Age, but somehow manages to make even the oldest kitschy thing look cool and sorta modern. My job on Buddy Cops was to do as few people-just-standing-around moments as possible. I wanted him having fun and moving fast, usually only stopping to let him use his awesome facial expression skills.

DOC: I'm still recovering. Plain and simple, Nate writes stuff that's fun to draw. As he mentioned, I rarely had to draw folks just sitting around talking to each other. If they were talking it was the kind of thing I could go big and exaggerated with. Not to mention Nate let me throw a lot of my own ideas in there as well. For instance, I requested that the monster in the second story be a giant orangutan since I've always been a big fan of King Kong and Nate was very cool to go along with that.

GM: Will we be seeing more of Buddy Cops? Or possibly of you two collaborating (assuming you ever recover, Doc)?

NATE: Only way t'do more BC is for this one-shot to sell out, I suppose. So if all 12 of y'all that like reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally dumb-but-well-drawn stories about drunk cops and annoying robots fighting monk monsters and getting pregnant by asexual plant aliens could buy 1000 copies apiece, we'd much appreciate it. And I'd break many many, many arms to work with Doc again. He was gracious enough to do some pages for a Green Hornet one-shot I wrote recently for Dynamite. His stuff's just timeless and cracking fun.

DOC: What Nate said. We'll see how folks like the one-shot and go from there I assume. We've talked about it a little and I'd certainly be into doing more with these two. And I'll always be up for working with Nate more.

GM: We've already mentioned Romeo and Juliet, but who are your all-time favourite buddies?

NATE: Blue Beetle & Booster Gold, Big Boi & Andree 3000, John McClane & Zeus, Quantum & Woody, Han & Chewie, The A-Team, Vincent & Jules, Calvin & Hobbes, Sir Mix-A-Lot & the guy that makes giant papier-mache butts for Sir Mix-A-Lot to sit on.

DOC: I've always said my favorite buddies in comics are Plastic Man and Woozy Winks. Beyond those two there's The Warriors Three, Indiana Jones and Short Round, Hogarth and the Iron Giant, James and all those bugs on the giant peach, Kermit and Fozzie, and whoever Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are playing in a movie.

GM: Switching gears slightly, what got you into comics? Or perhaps more pertinent, what keeps you engaged with them today?

NATE: I got into comics by accident. Stopped reading them when I was about 13, got back into them in college because I really appreciated what you can achieve with the medium. When it's working, the combination of story and art can be breathtaking. I'm engaged with comics cuz I wanna try'n tell some good stories, and they're my favorite form of storytelling. 

DOC: Sort of like Nate, I didn't really read comic books until late in high school. All I remember is I was reading a whole lot of X-Men at the beginning. It stuck and to this day there are few things I love more than discovering a great well-rendered story. And there's just so many great folks working in comics today. 

GM: And because I so rarely get to speak with writer / artist teams at the same time - Nate, as a writer, are there any artists (comic book or non) that you would list among your influences? Same question to you, Doc - as an artist, are there any writers (comic book or non) that you would list among your influences?

NATE: Aw, too many to name. Kurt Busiek, Don Rosa, Bill Watterson, Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Christopher Priest, Darwyn Cooke, Chuck Dixon, Charles Schulz. I could keep going but then it'd just be a long list of obviously-amazing people. 

DOC: That's tough. I definitely have favorite writers but it's hard for me to gauge their influence on me as I've only written a little. I'll say I'm a giant fan of Robert Kanigher, Archie Goodwin, Walt Simonson, Jeff Parker, Joe Kubert, Mark Waid, Jack Cole, Jeff Smith, Busiek, Donald Westlake, Schulz, Watterson, E.C. Segar, Walt Kelly, likely many more (many of these are writer-artists of course). 

GM: Do either of you have any upcoming projects that you can talk about / would like to alert interested readers to?

NATE: Got a COW BOY short story in Archaia's 2013 Free Comic Book Day. You can still pick up the Cow Boy hardcover now, and the second volume's in stores later this year. You can still find the Green Hornet: Year One book me'n Evan worked on either at your comic shop or Comixology. All my other projects are under wraps right now, but expect a boatload'a stuff soon. 

DOC: I'm drawing one of the short stories in the upcoming Thrilling Adventure Hour graphic novel anthology, which comes out later this summer from Archaia. I've also just started working on a three issue miniseries for Dark Horse, but that's all I can say about it at the moment.

GM: Well, I certainly look forward to hearing what you guys have coming down the line.  From here, all that's left is our Literary Rorschach Test.  I have a list of 10 words, and your task is to respond to those words with the first thing that comes to mind.  It can be whatever you want.  A word, a sentence, or even a full-blown paragraph.  The choice is up to you.

NATE:

Pals - monkeys
Explosions - TNT
Law - good
Disorder - quirk
Trust - John Goodman
Nicknames - Ol' Meatbutt
Art - Carney
Joy - Behar to leave The View after nearly 2 decades
Goal - hockey
The End - TUNE IN NEXT WEEK!

DOC:

Pals - "The Little Rascals" was the first thing that came to mind. Is that weird? I couldn't tell you why.
Explosions - PWHOOOOOOOOSHHHH
Law - Judge Dredd
Disorder - Comic conventions
Trust - Games
Nicknames - The first question on most interviews I've done.
Art - Degree
Joy - , Ode to.
Goal - Soccer
The End - Porky Pig

GM: Thank you both so much for taking the time out of your busy schedules to chat.  It was a pleasure.

The Buddy Cops one-shot hits comic book stores TODAY, so be sure to head down to your shop to claim yourself a copy.  And while you're at it, tell a friend or two to do likewise.  The more reading this title the merrier, because it is some darn fine comics.


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