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Ian McGinty Discusses WELCOME TO SIDESHOW

McGinty talks about his upcoming series and the inspiration for it.

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Coming to Z2 Comics this October is WELCOME TO SIDESHOW from Ian McGinty. It features adventure, fun, and some beasts in this new creator-owned series. McGinty talked to us about this new book and what we can expect.

COMIC VINE: What is WELCOME TO SHOWSIDE all about?

IAN MCGINTY: WELCOME TO SHOWSIDE is about monster kid, Kit, and his best buds: Moon, a sorceress-in-training who wields the angsty pubescent spell book, Teenomicon, & Belle, the youngest daughter in a centuries old line of southern monster hunters. Kit’s father, the Mighty Shadow King (the most destructive force in the universe), constantly tries to convince or even trick Kit into abandoning his friends so he may ascend the throne, effectively destroying the entire universe. It’s sort of a story about rejecting legacy, while having adventures between Showside, a town populated by monsters and humans, and the Nexus, a sort of go-between to infinite dimensions and worlds.

Oh, also there’s Boo, a two legged, floating squid who loves mallobutter waffles (waffles with marshmallow fluff and butter on ‘em).

CV: This book will be dealing with Kit and company facing ghosts, demons, and monsters. Were there any beasts or demons within myths, lore, or mythology that were "must haves" for your story?

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MCGINTY: I based the Shadow King, Kit’s father, on some Cthulhu mythos but only in his function as an incredibly powerful being capable of annihilating the universe. Beyond that, I’ve worked hard to develop my own monsters (for example, Joshua, a kitten made out of crystal we will meet in the first issue who is much more than he seems), but I won’t deny I had a lot of influence from Hellboy, both the comic and Guillermo Del Toro’s films, Labyrinth, classic movie monsters and definitely creatures from the really bad Stephen King movies (remember “Night Shift”?).

I haven’t limited WELCOME TO SHOWSIDE to only fantastical creatures, though. There’s a lot of sci-fi elements I’ll be exploring later, what with the Nexus’ abilities to transport anyone anywhere at any time, but it’s pretty much me putting everything I love about monsters and creatures onto paper. I’m lucky I have the chance to take some influence and spin them in my own way and there’s a ghost who is cool and is named Cool Ghost.

CV: Because the book will be dealing with some nasty beats, would you say there's a lot of dark undertones to the story or is the book pretty light-hearted?

MCGINTY: Definitely both dark and light! Essentially, WELCOME TO SHOWSIDE addresses those expectations parents have of their children, family issues, and questions bonds formed through friendship versus blood, but it’s wrapped in a candy shell of cool monster battles, sight gags, fun dialogue and all that good stuff. I want to be able to tell stories that people can read and have a blast with but maybe later they re-read it and go “woah”.

CV: Artistically, what type of style did you want to achieve for this book and do you feel you had a lot more freedom not working with a licensed property to show off your "true colors" as an artist?

MCGINTY: Absolutely, it’s been amazing to finally get my original designs and characters out there. I’ve worked really hard to try and create memorable creatures and people, and I do think they succeed in that. Kit’s design, especially, took about 2 years to finally nail down, swinging from a weird fish dude to a stoner-type Shaggy from Scooby Doo looking idiot, and finally evolving into the much cooler version we’ll see in issue 1. Moon and Belle came more naturally, and I’m extremely proud of how they came out. They’re both tough and cool and rad, and that’s all I wanted.

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That said, something I didn’t expect was for my art to suddenly have a manga- esque look to it, but it came naturally and allowed me to go for crazier expressions and I love turning the kids into chibi versions of themselves.

I wanted WELCOME TO SHOWSIDE to embrace, not reject, how my art has been influenced by working for a long time on Bravest Warriors and Adventure Time. In particular, those two properties, while licensed and needing to be vaguely on model, still allowed me to put my own spin on the worlds and people in it. So, yes, I’ve had a lot more freedom with WELCOME TO SHOWSIDE, but honestly, I had quite a bit of freedom working on Cartoon Network properties.

CV: What draws you to working on books that are aimed at a younger demographic?

MCGINTY: In general, I want to and try to work on books that appeal to everyone. Though sometimes problematic, I do prefer the term All-Ages, as opposed to For Kids, or a variation thereof, because the fans I meet aren’t ever the same age, same gender, same race, etc. I’ve had eighty year old grandfathers get super into Adventure Time: Candy Capers, and I’ve had kids that just starting forming coherent sentences really love very specific characters of the Hello Kitty comics.

Capping the content within a certain demographic or specifically targeting younger people seems like a mistake to me. I feel the material can be just as important and loved by the parents, the family, the friends, etc. and anyone else who cares to pick up a series and go with it for a while, and children or young adults are a lot smarter and capable of grasping concepts and storylines than they are given credit for.

CV: What things do you keep in mind while working on this book to bring the older readers in as well?

MCGINTY: Mostly things like dialogue and making the characters multi-faceted enough to remain interesting, and maintaining a balance of comedy and drama. WELCOME TO SHOWSIDE will start as very ligh-hearted and then begin to delve into some heavier concepts, much like Adventure Time started and eventually evolved into, and that’s something I’m very excited about. I think as the series goes people will be pleasantly surprised how things change and move.

CV: How was the experience working with Henry Rollins on the Welcome to Showside pilot? Is he as awesome as you imagined?

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MCGINTY: When I showed up at the studio, I was expected to direct a cast of voice actors, as well as voice Kit himself, and I was completely scared stiff. I was terrified of messing everything up or people not being into the characters or liking something I worked really hard on developing, that sort of thing. It was actually Henry who, being the amazing human he is, really got into his role and was an extremely positive force during the process. He loved his character and he loved the script, and was very vocal about it. He joked around with the rest of the cast, stuck around well after nailing all of his lines in about 2 takes and was just a super generous, smart and cool guy. Plus he told me all these stories about the Beastie Boys early years that weirdly resonated with me and it was just amazing overall. I’m hoping to work with him again soon.

CV: What's it like working on a ton of licensed properties then moving over to a creator-owned book?

MCGINTY: It’s mostly strange to go from simply having the job of translating a script full of ideas and characters created from somewhere else, to being the one “in charge of the world”, so to speak. I’ve been able to hand pick artists who I admire and love working with to do covers and back-ups, and it’s insanely weird to see unsolicited fan-art coming in for characters that are wholly original, but I love it. I also have a sense of really being part of the comics community now, because (while I love working on licensed stuff) you’re more a hired gun when you do that sort of job and there’s a built in fan base. With something creator owned, you get to see that fan base form from one person (yourself) to maybe a lot of people, you never know. At the very least, now I can say, “I created this, hope you dig it”.

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Thanks to Ian McGinty for answering our questions and WELCOME TO SIDESHOW hits comic shops on October 28 from Z2 Comics. If you're looking to order these books, make sure you use the order code below:

  • AUG151857 WELCOME TO SHOWSIDE #1 MCGINTY
  • SEP151765 WELCOME TO SHOWSIDE #2 MCGINTY