It's In the Game: An Interview With Graveyard Greg of Gaming Guardians
Super-teams have always been a popular genre in superhero comics. An interesting combination of super-team and RPG action is Gaming Guardians by Graveyard Greg. It is one of the longest-running and most popular super-teams in webcomics. We talked to Greg about Gaming Guardians and his work on Graphic Smash.
Yours is a rather unique mix of gaming, super-team action, and humor. What's the genesis of the Gaming Guardians---how did you come up with the idea? It's obviously inspired by gaming systems you played, but what made you decide to make it a comic?
The day I thought to myself 'What if gaming systems were real? What if you could travel to these systems?'
What's your own background?
Rocketed from the doomed planet Krypton, I was bitten by a radioactive spider at an early age...No wait, that's Superman and Spider-Man's origins...
I'm just a geekboy who's played D&D, The World of Darkness, Marvel Super Heroes, DC Heroes, Teenagers From Outer Space, and loads of other RPGs. This doesn't even count the board and card games!
Who are your writing influences?
Marv Wolfman, Chris Clairmont, John Byrne, Mike W. Barr, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Piers Anthony, Peter David, Shane Hensley, Gary Gygax, Matt Forbeck, Bill Willingham, Chris Pramas, David L. Pulver, Lucien Soulban, and Kurt Busiek. Some of these guys are comic creators, some are from RPGs. Figure out who belongs to who, because I won't tell!
For a while you were running a "parallel" team on Graphic Smash called simply, Guardians. Are you planning to return to that? Didn't that get confusing, with two Radicals, two Edges, two Gregs, two Anguses....sort of like Earth-One/Earth-Two, only worse! How was your experience with Graphic Smash?
Yep, we're going to get back to the Guardians with an all-new artist. It was never confusing for us, because the characters are completely different from the GG counterparts.
My experience with Graphic Smash has been nothing short of excellent. Joey Manley works very hard to make the Modern Tales a happy family, and TCampbell is a wondrous editor, even if he does miss the occasional spelling error. Nobody's perfect!
Who's your favorite in the team? Greg? Radical? Edge? Pidge? Angus?
Angus. I never expected to have him on the team full time until I saw WebTroll's concept of the big bull with a heart of gold and the innocence of an 8-year-old.
As usual with super-teams, the GG's have a large stable of bad guys. The Scarlet Jester (in various incarnations) seems to be number one. Who's your second favorite despicable villain?
Radu-Radu. She's eeeeeevil. She's been lurking behind the scenes until recently, and is getting ready to make her move to bring the D'Twenty into the Primary System (AKA Earth!).
You've worked with at least two artists over the course of the Gaming Guardians. What difficulties have you found in collaboration? How much input does the artist have on the storyline? What do you look for in an artist as a partner?
Zelig was a good guy to work with, WebTroll has been a joy for these 5 years of working together. I suppose the only difficulties is when there's a mistake in one of the panels, which has only happened twice in our collaboration. I guess we're lucky!
As for input, WebTroll's the one who decided to go for a more comic book style format, so there are times which he has these ideas, and I listen to him. I'm glad I do!
WebTroll is the ideal partner, so I base him on what I look for when I do a comic series. It's a good ideal, and it rarely fails me.
What "hooked" you on comics? When did you know you wanted to do a comic yourself?
I don't know exactly what got me hooked on comics. I do know I was four years old at the time, reading a Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos comic. I guess I knew I wanted to write comics when I started reading X-Men. Nothing came out of that desire until several years later, and that's when Gaming Guardians was born.
I read tons. Here are some of my all time favorites: Sluggy Freelance, Suburban Jungle, Gene Catlow, Namir Deiter, Bruno the Bandit, Catharsis, Misty the Mouse, The Replacements, Flick!, Saga of the Ram, Digger, Boomer Express, Penny Arcade, General Protection Fault, and Psychic Dyslexia Institute. There's more, yes, but those are the ones off the top of my head.
As for trends? Well, I notice a few do the old cut and paste style. I don't like those that much, so I have to depend on enjoying the writing of those comics. If the writing sucks, they're doomed. As far as I know, there are three I can tolerate. I leave it up to you readers of this interview (all two of you) to guess which three.
What are your plans for Gaming Guardians/Guardians?
To get them published. Nothing more would make me happier to go to a comic store and see them on the stands!
Al Schroeder is a man of interviewin' action. His webcomic Mindmistress, is a webcomic of superheroine action.