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JOSHUA HALE FIALKOV & KODY CHAMBERLAIN
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DF Interview: Joshua Hale Fialkov, Kody Chamberlain Punk out

By Byron Brewer

Dog, Skull, Fist and Abe Lincoln (yes, Abe Lincoln!) live in a house, beat the #%?! out of each other, and frequently humiliate themselves. There is bleeding and sadness, chaos and anarchy. And those are just the fun points!

The cult hit comedy returns with new stories and a bonus classic in the back of the issue in Punks: The Comic #1. From Eisner and Harvey award nominees Joshua Hale Fialkov (The BunkerThe Devilers) and Kody Chamberlain (SweetsThe Ride) comes the latest dose of irreverent, fun-loving hilarity that fans have been waiting for.

Afraid to wait in the midst of the storm, Dynamic Forces dove right in, interviewing both the creators at once.

Dynamic Forces: Hey! You guys scored a special variant cover by New York Times bestselling artist Rob Guillory of CHEW fame for the first issue of Punks: The Comic. How cool is that?

Kody: Rob’s been a friend of mine for years and we share a studio space here in Lafayette, LA. When you’ve known someone for that long and work in a shared studio space, blackmail becomes quite easy.

Josh: I remember the first time I saw Rob’s work.  The guy’s been amazing since he got here, and I’m just so damn happy everyone else has caught on to the fact.

DF: Take us back a decade and tell us how Punks came to be. Along the way, please, explain Punks to the uninitiated. ‘Taint easy.

Kody: My memory is probably a bit fuzzy on this, but I believe Josh and I met at a convention in Long Beach around 2003 or 2004. I picked up a few of his mini-comics and they were absolutely hysterical. I was already tossing around the idea of doing a comic in the paste-up style of punk rock flyers because I was a big fan of that aesthetic but I had no idea how to bring it to life. Visually, I thought the style would work as a real comic rather than just the gig flyers I was doing for local bands, but I had no concept beyond that. I had done a 12-page book in college that was sort of a poetry concept and I used a lot of different collage techniques. It wasn’t a comic, it was just a book with big pages of art, but it was a whole lot of fun to work with those materials. Somewhere along the way, Josh mentioned an idea he was working on about a punk band and we started talking about a few different collaboration ideas. I went home and created the piece that would eventually become the cover for the Summer Special with Abe, Fist, Skull and Dog standing around in a The Ramones-esque pose. I sent it to Josh and he flipped out and started on a script a few days later that he hated but I loved. He scrapped it and ended up writing something entirely different in the second script. That script became Punks. I think I was one of Josh’s earliest fans and I’m still a fan today. Getting new Punks scripts in my inbox is always a fanboy moment for me.

Josh: This is usually the part where Kody takes all the credit! Kody’s long been one of my favorite people in the world, and, if you haven’t checked out his Image graphic novel Sweets you’re missing out on the best crime book since Stray Bullets.

DF: Can you share with us some vintage Punks “stories” from back in the day?

Josh: Probably my favorite Punks story was when I was doing a signing a few years ago, while wearing a Punks T-Shirt.  I was at the Marvel booth, I think, and I had a fan telling me how much they enjoyed something I’d done, and then they said, “And you have great taste in comics, too! I LOVE Punks.” And I sort of nod, confused, and then said, “You know I write it, right?” The fan pulled the comics I was signing away, his face grew dark, and he said, “That’s not cool, man.  How dare you take credit for someone else’s work.”  I eventually had to go to our website on my phone to convince him.  He still didn’t really believe me, I think…

DF: How did the first Punks comic come to an end, and why?

Kody: I don’t recall us having a long-term plans for the early Punks stuff, it was really just a side project to try and create the kind of comic we WISH existed, but didn’t. Both the Summer and Winter Specials were created as one-shots right from the start. Those were fun books to do, but eventually we both started doing a lot of work for different publishers and just got busy. Most of my side projects fell off the grid and the focus was on paid work. After several years of having fun with full-time freelance work, I think Josh and I started leaning toward creator-owned projects again around the same time. There’s also the fact that Punks fans keep finding me at conventions and signings demanding more Punks comics.

Josh: Yeah, it was always meant to be a release for both of us.  I’m known for the intense horror/drama stuff, predominantly, and, while I love working on the Bunker and Life After, having the, I guess, breath mint that is Punks really gives me a different kind of joy.  I get to go back to my roots in funny funny books, and my life long love of absurdism that I think I’ve gone away from in my other work.  It’s like I get to spend a chunk of my time making books that I would’ve made in college if I was smart enough.

DF: And the reincarnation this fall at Image Comics occurred how?

Kody: We had a few sparks of life recently with MTV running the early stuff on their GEEK site and a few shorts here and there in Tripwire Magazine, but the idea for more comics was always sitting there and we’ve discussed it a few times, it just needed a bit more attention. On a road trip back from a comic book convention, Rob Guillory and I were pitching each other our NEW comic ideas and having a few laughs at some of the more absurd ideas along the way. At the con, Rob had observed a few fans hassling me about making some new Punks comics and he asked if we had plans to bring it back. Rob’s always been a fan of Punks and he actually has a pinup in that very first Summer Special, long before the days of CHEW. I don’t know what was said, but I believe Rob put a little pressure on Josh about doing some new scripts. Josh and I had just finished doing separate books at Image Comics (Last of the Greats, Sweets) so we felt comfortable pitching them the idea of an ongoing. It all came together pretty quickly after that.

DF: How does it feel to be re-teamed?

Josh: It’s a pleasure.  Kody and I both look at what we do through very similar lenses.  We see the potential in the medium, and how much of it is, y’know, left laying there.  This book is like nothing else on the shelf, and that’s because it’s probably the purest form of us that there is.  It’s like liquid crystal crack made predominantly of a Pittsburgh-raised Jew and a Swamp-Man Cajun.

Which would make a great sitcom…

DF: Tell us a little about roommates Dog, Skull, Fist and Abe Lincoln.

Kody: They’re the world’s worst roommates.

Josh: It’s true.  They spend their time fighting, insulting each other, and generally assaulting all of good taste.  I think any of them individually would be okay, but you put them together and awfulness rules the day.  What a bunch of jerks.

Kody: Lovable jerks, but, yeah, jerks.

DF: Is there anything you would like to travel back in time (Tardis or Wayback, if you will) to change about the original work? 

Kody: I wouldn’t dare touch the early stuff again. It’s raw and bold and I think it holds up pretty well. I do think I’ve gotten better at the techniques over time, but the flaws in those stories are a big part of the charm. If you study that very Summer Special, you can see various spots where I figure things out and the work improves.

DF: What will be going on in the new Punks: The Comic?

Josh: We’ve got some cool stuff.  Every issue has at least one new story, some sort of weirdo activity page, and then a classic Punks story jammed in the back.  We’ve got some awesome extra stuff coming up, too, like a card game in issue 2, and, uh, Christmas presents.  My favorite thing about the book is that there is no continuity, there is no overarching story. You can just pick it up and GO.  Which we highly recommend. 

DF: Are you both glad to see Abe and the boys back?

Kody: I'm absolutely thrilled. Punks is a blast to work on, and I'm equally excited about working with Josh and Image Comics again. 

Josh: You have no idea.  Punks is why I love comics.   I can’t wait for the world to see what we’re up to.

Dynamic Forces would like to thank Joshua Hale Fialkov and Kody Chamberlain for taking time out of their collective busy schedules to answer our questions together. Punks: The Comic #1 hits stores in October!  




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