Luci Phurrs Imps Believe it or not, comic books can mean many different things to many different people. To some: they are a form of jovial entertainment. To others: they can be fun and educational. And to my creative pals, Dale, Tracy, and Courtney: they're a good excuse to expunge the 'inner-Yoda' from inside themselves. Yeah. Kid you not I won't. Check out this interview I had with them just the other day, whilst applying moisturizer to a Sith Lords face.

Forbidden planet

1) What are your own origins, Dale? Plus how did you meet up with your collaborators, Tracy and Courtney?   DALE: My origin is a pretty standard comic-world one. Sent to earth from a dying planet to fight for truth, justice, and free pie for everyone -- wait -- I've said too much. Seriously, I come from a more print and graphic design background and kinda drifted into writing... and then drifted further winding-up in comics.

As for meeting Courtney and Tracy: I met Courtney when he was looking for a writer on a project that I didn't get. But he liked the samples I sent him, and pitched me on another project, that, from then onward's, we've both been worked on together. We've kinda been stuck in some kinda orbit and collaborated on a few other things -- the biggest being Luci Phurr.

I was aware of Tracy’s work, and when I found out that Tracy was gonna be working the color on Luci Phurr, I was VERY excited. I knew she did her own web-comic, so when the idea was floated that she should take over LPI art duties, I had one of those horribly delightful moments -- I was losing a collaborator I love working with and gaining another who was super talented.

2) What inspired you to create your web-comic, ‘Luci Phurrs Imps’?   COURTNEY: Luci Phurr’s Imps is based on an idea that I toyed around with in my head for some time. But I didn't feel I had the writing skills to make it nearly as good as what I envisioned in my head. Luckily, I knew someone who could. I approached Dale with the basic idea of Luci Phurr’s Imps, and in turn he wrote an awesome short prose story for it that I did spot illustrations for.

To be honest, that prose story is still my favorite LPI piece. I liked what he did so much that I eventually asked him if he’d be interested in doing it as a gag-a-day web comic. He agreed, and started building a large universe full of characters and story lines. I drew the first three years of the strip and Tracy colored them. But Dale and I always knew she was also an awesome penciller as well. Eventually, we approached her about doing all of the art chores, and she agreed. The rest is history.

DALE: For me, it was the usual things, fame, fortune and the adulation of women in bikinis. Actually, Courtney pretty much nailed it. The only thing he missed was that I was VERY unsure about whether I wanted to do the gag-a-day format... or rather I was unsure whether I COULD do it. But once I thought about it, I realized I could always do safe stuff, but the fun was when you jump off a cliff, not knowing how you will make the landing.

3) In your own words, how would you describe your web-series?   COURTNEY: I think it’s pretty light hearted; and quite educational at times. Dale is a plethora of useless -- but interesting -- information, and he uses it frequently in the strip. I tend to come away a little smarter after reading many of the strips.

DALE: My wife gets a right kick out of the times a reader comments that they've had to go away and read-up on something that was in one of the strips because it was new to them. I love that I've been given the freedom to do what I wanted in terms of writing. We have broad gags, ones that you have to ponder, and a couple that I suspect not everyone got -- but it’s cool for me to have the room to do that. 

For me, that tone is perfectly illustrated in the very first strip, which has a 'Charlie Daniels Band' gag AND and Dante’s 'Divine Comedy' gag. The only thing missing is a fart gag -- and I worked one of those in several strips later. 

In terms of a comic: I think it’s a pretty family girl meets Imps -- Imps don’t realize they've got the wrong person and attempt to steer the girl towards starting the End of Days -- girl proves to be more corrupting (at least from the Imps point of view) and makes them do more good than bad -- and  they all live happily ever after. Really, it’s the kind of project you’d have seen as an MGM musical of the 1940s and have Judy Garland or Cyd Charisse as Luci.

4) I find Tracy's and Courtney's artwork just out of this world; and I do enjoy the cartoonish-style they both adhere to. What I would like to know, though, is if this style came from your story-line, or if this was inspired by other means?    TRACY: Aww, thank you! And the style I use for LPI isn’t too far off from how I normally draw. Though I do need to constantly remind myself to keep the designs relatively simple, due to the time constraints of a 3-days-a-week comic.

COURTNEY: I tend to naturally draw in a cartoonish style. Luckily for me, the story and Dale’s writing cater to my strength.

DALE: I think the art feeds off of the scripts, and the scripts feed off of the art. I know both Courtney and Tracy have taken notes I have sent them, and made specific changes to things. But I have also taken details they have worked in and made those into character and plot elements. When you work in comics it is VERY collaborative endeavor -- which for me, is one of the great joys.

5) If you could cast a movie based on your creation, who would you cast, and again, why?   TRACY: I’m not too sure about any of the other characters, but personally, I always hear John DiMaggio when I read Alisdair’s lines. He’s just such a perfect deadpan snarker. Oh, and there’s Isobelle: whom I like to imagine with Jodi Benson’s voice. Someone once described her as a Disney princess teamed up with an evil Muppet (Addy), so to me, it seems to fit her.

DALE: Well, like Tracy suggests, I think we’d be looking at animated, so it’d be voices. I’d also pick John DiMaggio, but I’d cast him as Pain. For Alisdair, I’d go with Terry Thomas (which granted, would require the aid of a Medium. For Tears, it would the stand-up comedian Stephen Wright. If you look at the characters and listen to the voices, you’ll know why.

6) If your style of storytelling was a piece of music, what would it be and why?   DALE: The Blues. I know what you’re thinking -- it’s another flippant or funny answer. But actually I’m serious. The Blues can be very simple and often layered. There is often a simple core and then a musician will just improvise, and I often do that -- I know where I’m starting -- I know where I’m finishing -- but I don’t always know how I’m gonna get there. There is also a great sense of humor in the Blues, and I hope that humor comes through in Luci Phurr’s Imps.

7) What was the first comic book you ever read? And do you still read mainstream comic books today?   TRACY: Oh goodness! I think it must have been some Disney comic back in the 80’s, something with Donald Duck maybe, but I don’t remember too well. These days I’m more of a manga person. Between my husband and me, we've pretty much taken up a whole wall of our apartment with a really bizarre mix of everything from 'CLAMP' titles and 'Sailor Moon' to 'Akira' and anything by 'Junji Ito'.

COURTNEY: The first comic I remember reading as a kid was “Peter Parker the Spectacular Spiderman”. I actually collected the first 100 or so. And that eventually lead to collecting several long boxes of comics over many years. These days though, I read only trade paperbacks of certain titles like the 'Walking Dead', 'Chew', 'Oz', and a few others.

DALE: Since I’m from England, I grew up initially with UK comics, like 'The Dandy' and 'The Beano'. They were basically collections of -- what in the states -- are more like the 'Sunday Funnies' in the newspapers. At some point Marvel UK started putting out black and white reprints of 'Spiderman', so I got exposed to early Ditko-era stuff. 'Spiderman' blew me away.

When I was around nine years old I was in hospital and my Dad found at some random newsstand, a copy of 'Heroes for Hire', with Power-Man and Iron Fist. I wanted more of this stuff -- in COLOR! (though technically, at that point it was in COLOUR!). I also wanted to try 'Hostess Cherry Pies' and 'Three Musketeer' bars -- because Dr. J. said they were good. These days, I tend to pick up trades -- like Courtney said -- but that’s mostly because I don’t get to a comic book store as often as I’d like.

8) If you could get a celebrity – either living or dead – to promote ‘LPI’, who would you nab, and why would you want to nab this particular person?   DALE: Gandhi. Because that would be hilarious.

9) What piece of advice would you give to someone else trying to produce a similar project?   TRACY: If you have an idea, draw it. Write it down. Record it. However you want to express it, just do it. I know too many people who talk about the things they want to make, but they never seem to get around to actually sitting down and making those things happen -- it’s heartbreaking. You have to start first. You can do it!

COURTNEY: Don’t talk about it. Be about it.

DALE: Do, or do not. There is no try.

Now I couldn't have put it better myself, gang! Loved what you had to say. And I love your webcomic, luciphurrsimps.com, too. So what are you waiting for, dear reader? Give it a click today! Plus please don't forget to check out their RSS feed either. Go on. It'll be good for you.

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