Not too long ago, I had the pleasure of reading through Super Human Resources, one of the funniest books coming in 2009 (review – here). Almost as pleasurable as that has been the correspondence I have had with Ken Marcus, the genius and creative brainstorm behind this book!
Here is our interview…
(Eric – The Pullbox) I fell in love with SHR with the small preview I got more than a year ago. Is the premise of this series simply come from a reflection of your own background?
(Ken) Thanks so much. Yeah, I definitely have a long, sordid corporate office background. I’ve worked at advertising agencies for my whole career. While it’s a fun, creative job, I am often confronted with the banalities of corporate office life.
I suppose it didn’t hurt to write what you know…
Yeah. There is a focus group scene in issue one. I’ve sat through countless nights of those soul crushers. I’m hardly overreaching here, creatively. I know super heroes and I know crappy jobs. It ain’t exactly The Watchmen here.
How does one go to writing a comic book, from being in advertising?
Like many of us, I’m a comic fan first. I never really got the itch to write one until the idea for Super Human Resources popped in my head. I had never seen super heroes mixed heavily with office culture before. (Although, I’ve been told after the fact it as been with Kirkman’s Capes and Marvel’s Damage Control. Sigh.) The thing is, while it must be amazing and astonishing to work at Avengers Tower or the Hall of Justice, it’s still a job. Day in and day out. There has to be a mundane, humdrum aspect to saving the world time after time after time.
There is very little, if anything like SHR in the present comic book landscape. Was this is a positive to you? A negative? Or did it not even enter the equation?
No, this was very important to me. If I was going to invest a lot of time and money into a concept, I didn’t want to regurgitate what was already out there. I can’t do what Marvel or DC or Image already does. Certainly not do it better. I don’t know why so many indy creators try. I wanted to do something that I thought was largely missing on comic store shelves. A weird, weird super hero humor book.
When the readers check out SHR, they will see some inspiration from The Office, Office Space and/or the Tick in there. What were your inspirations when writing this (comic or otherwise)?
Yeah, I love all that stuff. Especially the BBC Office. I’d probably throw Dilbert in there too. Scott Adams doesn’t get enough credit in comic circles. He is brilliant with awkward comics dialogue. Punch-line on top of punch-line. I’m also a huge, huge Simpsons fan. I’m sure I’ve ripped off a lot of jokes by pure osmosis. I’ve just watched so much of it. I also like to think that if you’re a fan of Adult Swim shows like Venture Bros or Frisky Dingo, you will like Super Human Resources. I love all that stuff.
I didn’t really know what I wanted. I just wanted to stand out. I posted an ad online and got a bunch of artist submissions. Justin’s really just jumped out from the pack. I figured it would do the same thing on comic book shelves. I liked his total disregard for perspective and anatomy. It scared me a little, to be honest. But in a crowded, crowded market, you gotta zag when everyone zigs. He is great with character “acting.” Hyper-expressive. Which is critical for a dialogue-heavy book like ours.
In SHR, you hit a wide variety of superhero and super villain archetypes, did any of your characters surprise you in as much as they were much more fun to write than you though they would be?
Yeah, some guys just pushed themselves to the front of the stage. O-Bort, a short alien with a glass-domed head, was a background character. But turned out he was a lot of fun to write. It seems he can’t hold his alcohol too well. Wombat, a pretty obvious Batman archetype—don’t tell the WB lawyers–was almost too easy to make fun of. I felt a little guilty. He’s an easy target for a lot of jokes. Zombor, our reformed zombie villain receptionist, was also a blast. He’s kinda jumped to the front of the pack as far as an early fan favorite. He’s very quotable. Kinda like if Solomon Grundy was a secretary.
Speaking of Comics, what books do you get on a monthly basis?
I keep trying to cut back. But I can’t. There is so much good stuff out there right now. I mostly follow writers. I pick up basically anything by Morrison, Ellis, Millar, Fraction, Ennis, and Brubaker. I do like Bendis and Johns, but don’t pick up everything they do. They’re just too productive. I also really like Scalped, Umbrella Academy Walking Dead, DMZ, Fables, Mike Carey’s X-Men and Joe Kelly’s Image stuff. It really is a new Golden Age. So much good stuff out there.
So, what does the future hold for Tim and the other residents of the Marcus-verse?
Well, hopefully if Super Human Resources does well, we’ll do a Season 2. It’s a lot of fun to write, but we need to find an audience for it to make sense to continue. We have a lot of ideas of where the series should go. It should be a lot of fun. The concept has a lot of legs as they say.
Any other projects on the way?
This is it for me. I’ve got two small toddlers and a pretty busy day job. I can see SHR taking up all my free time. I gotta think it’s a little harder to write than most titles. It’s hard to be funny on cue. There are a ton of revisions. There’s a reason most comedy shows have a staff of like ten writers. What’s the saying? “Death is easy. Comedy is hard.”
Anything I forgot?
Just for folks to remember to tell your LCS about Super Human Resources from Ape Entertainment. Times are tough economically and retailers will be cutting back. And they ain’t going to cut the event books. So you really gotta ask for an indy if you want to read it. Super Human Resources #1-#4 will be in stores Feb – May respectively. All four books are done, so no missed shipments. Thanks so much for your support.