Mike Kunkel’s Astonish Comics has quietly come on to the comics scene as a top company creating books for the younger set that are being enjoyed by all ages. It began with Kunkel’s own “Herobear and the Kid,” which has grown popular enough to warrant a mention in the Wizard Top 10. Their second published book was Jason Letchoe’s “Zoom’s Academy for the Super Gifted.” In just a few weeks comic shops will receive the third release from Astonish Comics, “The Lab.”
“The Lab” is a new book from animator Scott Christian Sava. Sava has worked on all sorts of animated projects such as “Spider-Man,” “Power Rangers,” “Digimon,” “Nascar Racers” and others. In comics you’ve seen his work grace the covers of “Star Trek” comics from Malibu, DC and Marvel as well as “Marvel Tales,” Marvel Metal cards and X-Men cards for Wizards of the Coast. While all his previous work was painted, “The Lab” is entirely different being Sava’s first full CGI (computer generated imagery) rendered comic.
“‘The Lab’ originally came about when I wanted to create an animated show,” Sava told CBR News Tuesday. “So the characters are mainly drawn from, of all things, voices. I wanted to find some funny accents that would help drive a show and then put them in a funny situation. Once I came up with the voices the characters just came together.
“Esteban is a Weasel and his voice comes from my childhood friend Robert Diaz who does a hilarious Hispanic accent. Esteban’s dream of becoming an Opera Singer also sprouts from Robert’s vocal antics.
“Livingston is a Mole whose British accent is provided by my good friend Robert Toone. Now for Livingston I wanted to create the worst job possible.
“I remembered an old National Geographic where they had these men lined up in tank tops and their arms up in the air. These women were testing their deodorant by having to sniff their armpits and then write down notes on it. I thought…THAT is the WORST job imaginable! And gave it to Livingston.
“Livingston’s life-long dream is to get a tan. I figured being British, and being a Mole, he’s gotta be pretty fair skinned, right? So when he’s forced to take a vacation from work, Esteban is sent to learn his job so he can take over while Livingston’s away. But while getting acquainted, they discover that Esteban has a unique reaction to drugs. He’s Hyper sensitive! This of course poses 2 problems: 1) He can’t do Livingston’s job, He has some VERY strange side effects from the drugs too.
“The Lab’s” art style with bright colors and fun shapes is one Scott’s confident will appeal to kids, but, just like with the other Astonish Comics releases, the story and dialogue will be enjoyed by older readers. Fans of cartoons like “Ren and Stimpy,” “Wallace and Grommit” and “Invader Zim” should also enjoy “The Lab.”
“It’s supposed to be whacky and funny with a mentality of just enjoy it and don’t take anything seriously,” said Sava.
Whereas the first two releases from Astonish Comics have a unique penciled feel to them, “The Lab” is entirely different, crafted completely on a computer. Sava feels despite this difference fans of “Herobear” and “Zoom’s” will equally enjoy “The Lab.”
“Mike and Jason’s books are so unique. The time and effort that goes into them is incredible,” said Sava. “I look at the care that Mike puts into each frame and you KNOW it’s a labor of love. ‘The Lab’ is such a different animal in the technique used for the art, but the thought process and care behind it is the same.
“I really hope that fans of ‘Herobear’ and ‘Zoom’s’ see the same fun and excitement in ‘The Lab.’ But being that we’re all animators, I’m sure they’ll notice the unique sense of timing and frame layout as well as the cool looking characters and fun stories.
“I firmly believe that aside from the black and white and CGI work we’re doing, Astonish could easily put out a claymation or muppet type book and still hold true to the look of current Astonish books. The technique isn’t what’s important so much as the creativity and sincerity.”
Scott Sava and Mike Kunkel became acquainted when Sava was frustrated with his own artistic output and sought some guidance.
“[Mike and I] met when I decided to take a refresher class at a local school here in Los Angeles,” said Sava. “I had just received my last paintings from the X-Men cards back from Wizards and I opened the box and looked at the work and didn’t like what I saw. Spending all my time on the computer doing animation had dulled my drawing skills and it showed in the most recent work so I decided to take a cartoon drawing class. Mike was teaching it. We soon became friends and found we had similar backgrounds in animation and the same love for comics. He offered to let me publish ‘The Lab’ through his company and, well, here we are. I can’t thank Mike enough for his generosity and friendship over the last year. It’s meant the world to me.”
For those who like what Sava does with “The Lab,” keep your eyes peeled for a special project from Sava in the near future which he can only hint at for now.
“All I can say is it’s a HUGE project with Marvel and it’s done in the same technique as I’m doing with ‘The Lab,’ CGI. And it’s going to coincide with a movie and THAT may be more than I’m allowed to say!”
Once Scott gets the okay we’ll tell you more about this exciting project. “The Lab” can be found in your favorite comic store December 12th.