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Get A Bit Haywire With a Writer and an Artist

Owen Bryce is a normal good-natured 10 year-old boy who likes robots and thinks all girls have cooties. One day, however, Owen will soon find out just how abnormal he really is. He'll find out…when everything goes a bit haywire. (f rom A Bit Haywire.com)

Interested so far? Well, you are still reading, so that is a good sign. Coming in November, A Bit Haywire is a colorful, energetic, ride that anyone can enjoy, but with the sensibilities of kids in mind (secret field trip? Ha!). I was lucky enough to get both of the creative team, writer Scott Zirkel and artist Mr. Courtney Huddleston, to do an interview together for us. Thank you gentlemen...

Comics in the Classroom - S. Tingley: Scott , you are a newcomer to comics. What was your professional background before this?

SCOTT: Currently I am the Director of Design at a web development company. I sit around coding CSS and PHP all day. It's actually quite fun. Before that I've worked in food, retail and, most fun of all, as a caricature artist at a local aquatic theme park.

CitC: Courtney , you have been around for a while, and I have especially heard good things about your work on Lil' Red Stitch. Tell us about that and about your other work.

COURTNEY: Yeah, I've been working as a pro in the industry for about ten years now. I'm mostly a behind the scene's kind of guy, but in my spare time I like to draw my own stories and ideas. “Lil Red stitch” is the perfect example of that. At its core, it's the story of a little girl who can bring to life whatever she sews. Though not by choice, she's a bit of a loner. So, the characters she brings to life are usually companions and side kicks .

CitC: A Bit Haywire: Who created it and what is it about?

SCOTT: Court came up with the concept of a kid who's powers didn't work so well. I don't remember the powers he thought up, but I think the only one that stayed in was the one with the ice.

But yeah, the comic is about a ten year old named Owen Bryce who discovers he has powers that don't exactly work right. For instance, he realizes he can fly, but only when his eyes are closed.

COURTNEY: The concept for Haywire was created by me, but the meat of the story goes to Scott. The story, as Scott mentioned, is about a kid who accidentally inherits super powers. The problem is that his powers don't work, at least not in the traditional sense.

CitC: None of the powers that Owen has are all that original, but their “triggers” are. Where did the idea for that come from?

COURTNEY: When my daughter was born, having all ten fingers and ten toes was my first concern, like many parents. Little did I know that there were so many other complications babies could have. On the outside everything looked fine and dandy. But on the inside, there were a few issues that would take a year or more for her to grow out of. During that year of no sleep, I was able to come up with a few ideas based on my parenting experience at the time. I thought it would be kind of cool to have a kid who looked normal on the outside, but on the inside possessed super powers that didn't work like they were supposed to. Fast forward a few years, and you have “A Bit Haywire.”

CitC: How does it work, doing a project together like this? Is it a collaboration, or does the writer write first and the artist just draw what the writer has written?

SCOTT: We actually wrote the first two chapters together, while on the phone. We just start tossing out ideas, then building off each other's steam. Then, we get off the phone and I try to write out what we talked about. The problem is, we get so wrapped up into it, I don't write anything down while we are talking and I end up forgetting most of what we came up with.

The third and fourth chapters I wrote on my own, and Court added to with his art. I'll look at his pencils and see scenes in there that I didn't write, but are pretty good, so I'll go back and add dialogue where needed.

COURTNEY: I'd assume it's different for everyone. With us, it was pretty much a collaboration on some level from start to finish. Once the main idea was presented, Scott and I built on it with characters, scenarios, plots, punch lines, costume design, etc. After all the basics were finalized, Scott wrote out the chapter. While I drew one chapter, Scott continually worked on the next. A hundred pages later, we were finished.

CitC: The story certainly uses a lot of “kid logic” that would appeal to, well, kids. The art and the colors are certainly meant to appeal to kids. This next question may seem pretty dumb to a lot of my non comic reading audience that are likely familiar with a lot of great children's literature that is aimed directly at one audience, children. But, the question is: Who is the main audience for Haywire? Were you trying to create a true all ages tale that would appeal to many different kinds of readers, or were you directly setting your sites on younger readers?

COURTNEY: My intentions were always for this book to be all-ages. But if I had to choose which demographic the book attracted more, it would definitely be the young readers. I just don't think there's enough titles in the comic book market that cater to young readers.

CitC: There is a lot of competition out there for the attention of kids and the money that parents spend on those kids. What do you think sets comics in general (and your comic specifically) apart from the other forms of entertainment?

COURTNEY: For me personally, I think what sets comics apart is that they're not so fast paced. It's a form of entertainment that you can just sit, relax, and enjoy. I love video games, television, internet, etc. just as much as the next person. But after a while, I do like to slow down a bit, and comic books have always been my choice of getaway. I'm hoping that since Haywire is a complete story and not a mini series that it'll be a little more attractive to younger readers.

CitC: What format is Haywire going to come in. Will it come in the dimensions of a regular comic, or in a smaller digest format? What should people be looking for when scanning the shelves?

COURTNEY: Haywire will be a 112 page full color digest sized graphic novel.

CitC: Speaking of shelves, where will people be able to find it? Comics are not as easy to find as they were before the 90's, but they are now in most bookstores. Comic stores may have it on their shelves and they can order it in upon request, but will it be available in bookstores?

COURTNEY: Yep, the book will be in both comic book shops and book stores.

SCOTT: You'll probably be able to find it under Z for Zirkel, so start at the end of the shelves!

CitC: Even though this is a complete story, it does seem like just the beginning, the Origin. What is coming up next for A Bit Haywire, and will the two of you be doing it together?

SCOTT: Originally I had this whole arc planned out, then we talked about it and said it was just too much at once, so we are planning on using some of that in future stories. If I have the time, I'd love to work on more Haywire, but we have talked about having someone else do a few stories if my schedule doesn't allow it

COURTNEY: Yeah…what Scott said.

CitC: What else do you guys have coming up?

COURTNEY: I'm not sure what's next for me. Like many, I always have plenty of cool ideas that I'd love to see come to life. But there's a lot of factors that have to come together before any new project comes to be. I tend to be on the impatient side. So if you were to ask me the same question again in about a month, I'm sure I'd have a different answer.

Thanks a lot guys.

The book comes out in November, Diamond #SEP063626. 112 pages, $11.95

Visit the publisher's site: Viper Comics
Visit the Haywire site: A Bit Haywire

October, 2006

Any questions or comments, contact me at comicsintheclassroom @ gmail.com


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