Scott Morse isn't the first independent comic creator to turn around and tell a story of a maverick superhero and the woman in his life. But Morse's four issue miniseries from Oni Press beginning this September isn't the typical X-title or Batman spinoff.
"'Magic Pickle' concerns the tale of Weapon Kosher, a genetically engineered super soldier from the Cold War era who's been in cryogenic slumber since the 1950s," Morse told the Comic Wire on Monday. "Over the last few years, the lab he was created in was torn down and tract housing was built on top of it. Now, having been reactivated to fight the rogue Brotherhood of Evil Produce, Weapon Kosher discovers his lair is located directly beneath the bedroom floorboards of an eight year old girl named Jo Jo Wigman. The two have to learn to live with each other's presence in their lives, and end up helping each other with their prospective problems, whether it's the cute boy at school or the Romaine Gladiator tearing up the town. The book is really about their relationship, and how Jo Jo helps the Pickle adapt to 2001 mentalities, and how the Pickle helps Jo Jo deal with her problems."
Morse has a solid track record as an independent comic creator for adults, so his decision to do a solidly kid-focused comic might seem surprising at first.
"I've worked in animation for the last eight years, on a lot of projects geared toward kids. I was art director on 'Cow and Chicken' and 'I Am Weasel' at Cartoon Network, and have a pilot there now for my own series, 'Ferret and Parrot.' So the kids thing is something I've grown accustomed to over the last few years, and doing a comic for kids seemed logical. I wanted to have a book I can give to the neighbor kids, or the kids in my sister's classroom (she's an elementary school teacher). I can't really give them a copy of 'Volcanic Revolver' or 'Ghost Dog,' so I figured it was time to do a book I can share with anyone, no matter the age. 'Magic Pickle' seemed absurd enough of a concept to make kids smile, so there you go! Stuff like pickles and monkeys are always funny for some reason."
And the enduring comedic appeal of pickles seems to have worked.
"People are genuinely excited about this one. Everyone's getting behind it, maybe because it's for kids, maybe because it's cartoony, maybe because it's just absurd, I don't know. At any rate, I can tell people the premise, and there's always a smile like I'm crazy, so I'm taking that as a good sign. The neighbor kids think it's a great idea, and really, they're the target, and they're getting the concept, so hopefully, it'll work out."
Of course, getting a comic into kids' hands is the real challenge nowadays, and is something Morse clearly wants to have happen.
"I sure hope so. That's really Oni's end of the deal, getting it into people's hands. The sad part is, kids need to be dragged into comic shops these days, generally because the bulk of them are scary, pornographic, smelly places. It's sad that more books like 'Scary Godmother' and 'Jetcat' can't be bought at the grocery store while waiting in line. I'm hoping we can break some barriers with this book, whether it's by me doing guest talks at elementary schools or by parents, older brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, babysitters, whoever, buying their kids a comic when they buy their own weekly comics. That's everyone's mission ... pick up an all ages comic for the kid in your life the next time you buy your own comics. And GIVE it to them. Read it with them, whatever. Just tear them away from their video game system for 10 minutes and show them how cool comics are."
And in the meantime, Morse has that animated pilot coming up. "Ferret And Parrot" airs August 3rd on Cartoon Network at 8 p.m., and can be voted on to go to be made into a series on August 24, 25, and 26.