Fans of Madeleine Flores’ webcomic “Help Us! Great Warrior” are in for a serious treat on Feb, 11. That’s the day the first installment of a new eight-issue print series from BOOM! Studios hits stands, and while the online-only strip is primarily based around one-page gags, the new miniseries won’t just be a retread of old content brought to the printed page. BOOM!’s print edition brand brand new material and features, for the first time, an overarching narrative that will tie the entire series together.
“Help Us! Great Warrior” chronicles the adventures of Great Warrior, a character who enjoys adventuring and swords as much as she does cute boys and cats. With the much larger scale and larger storytelling aspirations of the comic book series, Flores will not only craft a more epic adventure, but also show more of existing characters like Leo and introduce new ones like Hadiyah.
CBR News talked with Flores about expanding the world of “Help Us! Great Warrior,” using a more traditional story structure, her her comic book and comedic influences and the origins of her lovable hero.
CBR News: Let’s go back to the very beginning. What prompted you to start “Help Us! Great Warrior” as a webcomic? Were you looking to add a voice to the fantasy discussion that might not have been as prevalent?
Madeleine Flores: I had just moved to Portland, Oregon and had a nice part-time job working for a Call Center and I just kept doodling all these scenarios in a fantasy world but with more modern responses and I showed my boyfriend and friends. I wasn’t doing much else at the time so I decided to make a webcomic out of it just so I’d have something to do besides my day job.
My brother and I used to play “Final Fantasy” games together and we’d always crack jokes about whatever was happening on screen, just silly commentary. But like, I really like fantasy and mythology, there’s so much out there that I felt like if I were to do a serious story I’d be stealing some pre-existing story so I wanted to base it on my own experiences cause if I steal stories from my own life that’s okay. So I made it part “jokes my brother and I used to make,” part “journal comic.”
How would you describe the world of “Help Us! Great Warrior” for someone coming in fresh with this miniseries? And how will that world expand since you’re now telling a larger story?
“Help Us! Great Warrior” takes place in a fake fantasy Roman empire/northern Germany mishmash country/wilderness; at least that’s what I base it off of in my head.
The comic is one-page gags and the gag is always just a snippet of some larger adventure that’s going on. For the series I wanted to do one long overarching story. You get to spend more time with the characters and get to know them better, and see more of the world and how it works.
What can you tell us about this epic adventure that Great Warrior goes on in the eight-issue series?
Well, in the webcomic the only regular characters are Great Warrior, the villagers and her best friend Leo. I’m introducing another character named Hadiyah who is kind of in charge of the land where they live and she is trying to get Great Warrior and Leo to save the world. But they are very reluctant and the reader will get to see more of how everyone got to their place in the world.
In addition to Great Warrior, were there characters you were really looking forward to diving deeper into in this different format?
I’m excited to tell more of Leo’s story. I did a really just awful terrible job of letting my webcomic audience know that Leo is a Transgender Warrior Woman. That’s a problem of characters living in your head I guess.
My friend Jack, who is modern day scholar on intersectional feminism and LGBTQIA issues, is my script consultant. They are making sure that nothing reads cissexist. Their twitter is @bunnibutts.
Is there a specific strip or post you’ve done that you think conveys the spirit of “Help Us!” to new readers?
Probably one of the first ones, still my favorite: a villager runs into Great Warrior’s house and says that a dragon is attacking the village. Sleepy Great Warrior, wrapped in a blanket, goes outside and just kicks the dragon in the foot and says, “Stop it.”
How did you end up bringing “Great Warrior” to BOOM! Studios, and how did it end up getting published as a more traditional comic?
I was exhibiting at SPX and had printed a collection of the online strips into a book. Shannon Watters, the editor at BOOM!, had seen the comic online and asked me if I had a publisher for it. We exchanged contact info and talked about what I’d like to do, what BOOM! was planning for new series’, etc., etc.
How will the issues break down? Will readers see a single story carry over throughout the eight issues or will there be shorter stories on display?
It’s going to be one long story with — hopefully — funny gags tossed in. I think I want to end every issue on a cliffhanger!
Over the past several years there’s been a great rise in the number of people making comics, webcomics and animation that seem to have a shared sense of humor along the lines of “Adventure Time” and “Help Us! Great Warrior.” Do you think there’s a driving force behind that?
I think that the things that are popular right now have natural humor and dialogue in them. It’s probably easier for a reader/viewer to get pulled into a world if they see themselves and how they act naturally, or at least hints of that. And also seeing the type of surreal jokes that you make with your friends while you’re just hanging out and saying absurd things.
One of my favorite webcomics is “Gunshow” by KC Green — it’s ending but he’s doing a new webcomic called “Back” and working on some other cool stuff, and if you support him on Patreon you get to see all that cool stuff — and KC’s jokes always hit the hardest because they go to that extra level. There’s the first joke and then there’s the real punchline. KO’d from laughter.
Have there been any challenges you’ve encountered thanks to this new format for your stories?
Just making sure everything fits in the guidelines: page template, pacing out the story, meeting deadlines. The internet is infinite so I was able to just do whatever whenever, and now it has to fit the shape of a tangible object. It’s more fun than challenging though!
Finally, you mentioned playing games and making jokes with your brother. What does he think of “Great Warrior?” Do you ever bounce gags off of him?
He thinks it’s cool! Someone recognized me on the street (from doing the comic) and said nice things and my brother was with me. He’s super stoic and tall and buff — he’s like if a brick wall could talk. In a low voice he said, “Yo, that’s dope.”
I never bounce gags off him, though. Our senses of humor went in different directions after high school. My go-to for that is my fiance; he’s been with me since I started doing the comic, so he knows better than anyone how I want the gags to read.
“Help Us! Great Warrior” #1 by Madeleine Flores launches from BOOM! Studios on Feb. 11.
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