As those of you who read my reviews probably know, I’ve spent the better part of the last year shouting into the void about how amazing Ryan Browne’s Image series, God Hates Astronauts has been. It’s a bonkers, throw-everything-in-the-blender, action/comedy/time-travel series, and it’s consistently been the funniest book on the shelves. Now that Browne has wrapped up the saga of Mods Late Dreadnaughts, he’s Kickstarting a 280 page, full-color edition of his improvisational webcomic, Blast Furnace. To check out his campaign and to get your hands on some of those sweet, sweet stretch goals, check out this site: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1334937359/blast-furnace-recreational-thief-280-page-color-ed. To check out some slightly-restrained fanboying masquerading as sloppy journalism--READ ON! Nick Philpott: To start off, tell us a little bit about Blast Furnace. Is this a similar sort of universe and story to God Hates Astronauts or is it completely its own thing?
Ryan Browne: It’s the same universe as God Mates Horsenauts. There are some crossovers from time to time (nothing major) but really it's the same universe in terms of humor sensibilities and people with animal heads. But Blast Furnace is more like a Coen Brothers film and not as much as a super hero spoof--but again-- featuring people with animal heads. The creative process in the book is regimented by a set of rules. I can do no planning ahead, I can only spend one hour writing and drawing each page, and I can (and should) go off the rails as often as possible.
NP: This is not the first time you've kickstarted a project, and it seems like it is on track to be crazy-successful, like your God Hates Astronauts kickstarter. What have you learned about KS that you could pass on to people afraid to dip their toe into the crowdfunding waters?
RB: I actually trimmed this one down quite a bit. The GHA Kickstarter was too damn crazy and a serious nightmare to fulfill. With Blast Furnace, I'm taking a more casual approach--not trying to blow up, just trying to get my book made. For those that are interested in doing their own Kickstarters, I suggest building your audience over a long time by doing a free we comic for a while. If you have a pre existing audience your Kickstarter can find a home easier.
NP: Blast Furnace predates GHA (Editor’s note: no, it doesn’t)--did you keep up with the one page per day/one hour per page installments while you were working on GHA or is going back to Blast Furnace like putting on a pair of comfortable, improvisational pants?
RB: GHA actually started in 2007 and was a self published indie book for years. Blast Furnace started in 2012 as an improv web comic to do around the more serious comic work that I was getting.
The second series for GHA which started in 2014 was extremely focused and intense. Blast Furnace is a nice, relaxing experience compared to what I was doing on a monthly book. So yeah, it's a damn comfortable pair of pants.
NP: You’re coming off the run of God Hates Astronauts at Image, which seemed like pure, distilled Ryan Browne-ry for its glorious ten-issue run (plus the original webcomic issues). What was the experience like being able to work full time on a comic entirely of your own creation? Can we expect to see a hardcover or omnibus collection of the complete series at some point in the future?
RB: I wish we could get a hardcover going, but the series really didn't sell very well. It was an amazing experience and I stretched it out as long as I could, but the book just didn't find a big enough audience.
Image was great. They let me do whatever the hell I wanted to do and for that I am confused and grateful.
NP: Once the fulfillments are in for Blast Furnace, do you have a new project you're working on?
NP: You also have some great work under your belt at Manhattan Projects and Bedlam, as well as your recent gig in Marvel's Secret Wars Battleworld. Any other new Ryan Browne work we should be keeping our eyes peeled for at Image or the Big Two?
RB: I’m doing a five page short about a bear for Marvel. It will be in the Secret Wars Too parody book and it will be my greatest creation!
Other than that, I'm doing something about gorillas for a DHP [Dark Horse Presents] short that will also be my greatest creation!
NP: One last question: when will you finally rid the world of Charles Soules' tyranny? First he kills Wolverine, then he tries to put 3D Cowboy out of a job--where does his villainy end?
RB: I’m actually hosting a Charles Soule Spotlight Panel at the Baltimore Comic Con. I'm assuming that will be his final chapter...
So, there you have it, folks! For those of you who loved Rod Takes Restaurants, Blast Furnace could be that book to scratch that very specific itch--you know the one, between your shoulder blades, where your anti-mugging arm is.