Plugin Boy is a film noir sci-fi soap opera. Well, it is. Roy Boney, the creator behind this twisted tale of a boy who can't leave his room because he's plugged into the wall, started the project out as a strip and has turned it into a graphic novel. The cinematic influences on Plugin Boy range from the obvious to the obscure, making it a treat for film buffs and anyone interested in comics.
Comixpedia: How did you first get a start in comics?
Roy Boney: I've been drawing and reading comics as long as I can remember. There are hundreds of pages of old crudely drawn comics floating around out there somewhere from my childhood and adolescence. Hopefully they won't surface to see the light of day, either. Primarily they were bad Dick Tracy rip off comics.
I started reading online comics when I started college. It was a casual thing at first, but I really got into it. Then the inevitable question popped up: If everyone else is doing this, why can't I? So I did. With the support of a friend of mine who happens to have a very successful online comic, Plugin Boy made its debut in March 2001. Initially it was supposed to be a "darkly funny" comic strip, but it sorta gradually evolved into a "graphic novel".
CP: Who are your big influences?
RB: First off, I am primarily influenced by writers first, artists second, which might be kinda surprising because I feel my strength as an artist is greater than my writing. But anyway, here are my biggest influences: Brian Azzarello, Warren Ellis, Neil Gaiman, Brian M. Bendis, Garth Ennis, Alan Moore, Sam Kieth, Erik Larsen, David Mack, Dave McKean, Kenichi Sonado, Ashley Wood, Colleen Doran, and Todd McFarlane. Um, that's the "short" list.
CP: Why did you start Plugin Boy?
RB: It was because of the Internet and boredom. Once I started reading online comics and realized that I could do one just as well as the next guy, I just had to do it. All the comics I had done before were only seen by my small circle of friends, but with the Internet, there was potential for it to be seen by a lot more people.
As for Plugin Boy itself, the idea came from a random drawing I did while at home from college for Christmas Break. I come from a really small and boring town, so drawing always helped alleviate that. So anyway, I did this sketch of this kid plugged into a wall socket, and things just sorta went from there.
CP: What do you think draws readers to your comic?
RB:You know, that's kinda what I wonder. I sorta see my comic as a bit depressing, sometimes to the point that I get sad after drawing a page of it. Having said that, the dark and sinister mood of the comic in general seems to be a big drawing point for readers. Not that I'm some "gothic" kid who broods in my bedroom all the live long day or anything, but that is what just seems to come out of my head. And the readers seem to like it. (NOTE: I smile a lot in person. I swear!)
Based on reader response, people tend to favor the dialogue more than anything, with the artwork coming in a close second. I also get a lot of positive comments from people saying they are glad to find an alternative from the myriad of "manga-inspired" and video game-related webcomics out there.
CP: Favorite movies? What influence have they had on your comic?
RB: I love the Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, Mars Attacks…basically anything Tim Burton-related. I also love Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, and Mean Streets (big Scorsese fan, too). Um, I don't want to ramble on anymore, so I'll make a list of movies:
Citizen Kane, Dr. Strangelove, Clockwork Orange, Mr. Sardonicus, Frankenstein (the original one), Pi, Requiem for a Dream, Waking Life, Slacker, Pulp Fiction, any old cheesy zombie movie, Boogie Nights, Vertigo, Marnie, and the Indiana Jones series. Um, that's the short list, especially since I'm a majorly huge fan of the movies. Maybe even more than comics.
They've influenced me primarily by helping me to learn how to set the mood through lighting and color. Also, I pay really close attention to camera angles. Actually, a lot of scenes in Plugin Boy are based on movie scenes. I have this odd habit of having a DVD constantly on (with the sound turned down), so while I'm drawing, I sorta watch a film along with it. If I see a scene I like, I don't pause it. I replay it and sorta "capture" the scene on paper while it's going. Sorta like a weird play on drawing from life.
CP: How would you describe the influence of movies on webcomics as a whole?
RB: I would say the storytelling aspect of movies has the biggest impact on webcomics (and print as well). Both are a visual medium, with the exception that movies have tons more frames (panels) than a comic. But the same aesthetics apply, especially in things like pacing and angles.
CP: What comics (web and print) do you read?
RB: Webcomics: I religiously read Wigu, Diesel Sweeties, Scary Go Round, Achewood, Man-Man Comics, and Nowhere Girl when it updates (totally loved that one to death). I read Chopping Block on occasion, as well as Penny Arcade. Honestly, I don't read all that many webcomics like some people say they do.
Print comics: 100 Bullets, Cerebus, Automatic Kafka, Powers, Alias, Optic Nerve, anything by Daniel Clowes, some Julie Doucet stuff when I can find it in the local comic store, Love and Rockets, Bone, Spawn, the Savage Dragon, anything Sam Kieth puts out, Kabuki, Daredevil, Ultimate Spiderman, the Amazing Spiderman, Batman, and Spy Boy. Some other print comics that no longer come out or do so in between lengthy intervals, but I totally loved: the Sandman (of course), Transmetropolitan, Watchmen, the Sin City series, and Preacher.
And if anyone is wondering, yes, I do spend a fortune on comics each month.
CP: If they made your comic into a movie, who would play Plugin Boy? What would the script be like?
RB: I'm not sure who would play Plugin Boy…how about that guy who plays Fez on That 70s Show? I don't know. I'm not very good at casting. But the script would revolve not on Plugin Boy himself, but on the other characters whose existence are affected by Plugin Boy. It would be really challenging making a movie based on a character who basically cannot leave his room.
CP: Who would you want to direct?
RB: I think the most obvious answer would be Tim Burton…but Darren Aronofsky could probably make an amazing interpretation out of it. I would love to see his frenetic camera work in a Plugin Boy feature.
CP: What other projects are you working on?
RB: Right now, I'm planning on finishing up Plugin Boy within the year, but I am also currently working with Matt Shepherd of Man-Man Comics on a "super top secret" comic about intelligent zombies. Also in the works is reviv[ing] one of my old comics The Punk Rawk Bubble at theminor.com. I also am writing an outline for my "post Plugin Boy" project. I describe it as an "epic fantastical tale of the end of the laws of physics and the world". Think of it as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas meets a futuristic Braveheart meets Empire Records.