In "A Going Concern," one of this month's featured stories on MySpace Dark Horse Presents, writer John Arcudi and artist Steve Young bring readers a tale of cockroaches as cowboys. CBR News spoke to Young to get the details about the story that the artist describes as "the best cockroach western published online this month."
"A Going Concern" chronicles the misadventures of a bounty hunter traversing the high desert with the corpse of a cowboy with a price on his rotting head: the twist being that this western is populated by intelligent, anthropomorphic cockroaches. "It's a pretty straightforward story, I think," Young said. "It's just a bounty hunter going a little crazy from loneliness and the heat."
When he and Arcudi first settled upon the idea of telling a story set in the Old West, Young wanted to do something that set their story apart from other work in that genre. "John then said, "Well, to make it look interesting, we could always, I don't know, have it be cockroaches riding pipe cleaner horses,'" Young said. "And we decided, yes, it's going to be exactly that. Then we just played the story completely straight; it could have, or might has well have been people, but, hey, guess what, it's not."
Young had had occasion to meet John Arcudi and Randy Stradley at New York Comic-Con in 2007, and both were impressed by the young artist's body of work. "I kept in contact with John, though, and eventually started sending him samples of my work through my MySpace page," Young said. "He was doing some stories for the MySpace Dark Horse Presents thing, showed my stuff to Sierra Hahn and Scott Allie (editors over there) and the next thing you know, people are looking at cockroaches riding pipe cleaner horses."
Young said the cockroaches in "A Going Concern" are an amalgam of several different species of cockroach. "I also captured a bunch and dressed them up in little clothes I painstakingly crafted," Young said, wryly. "They loved the guns and hated the mustaches. I really did make a horse out of pipecleaners, but the roaches wouldn't actually ride them, so I just photoshopped some pictures I took of each of them together, printed those out, and then lightboxed the whole thing. I don't think you can tell the difference."
Young couldn't have been happier with his collaborator John Arcudi. "We worked on what the plot would be together, and John has a way of making you think you are coming up with stuff, but he's really just stringing you along," Young said. "Which is not a bad thing at all, by the way, and I hope it doesn't come off like that. We both wanted to tell the same kind of story in the same way, so it couldn't have worked out better. Sierra Hahn and Scott Allie were very cool and encouraging, and were able to trick Dave Stewart into coloring it, and he of course knocked it out of the park. Unreal stuff. The letterer, Nate Piekos, did a great job, as well, seeing as how I must have made his life pretty difficult with all of the crap I drew in each panel."
In addition to "A Going Concern," Arcudi and Young are also currently developing other comics material. "And I am always-not-constantly at work on my own comic, 'Mickey Splinter, Kid Vacuum Salesman to the Stars,'" Young said. "It's about an 11 year old vacuum salesman in 1930s Hollywood. I am serious." The whole story can be viewed at Young's blog. "In the meantime, I'm the thumbnailer (which is a lame name for a storyboard artist, but our 'storyboard artists' really do what you'd think of as animatics) on the PBS show 'Wordgirl.'"
"A Going Concern" is available on MySpace Dark Horse Presents right now.
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