Daniel Brodie Splatters ‘Morgan’s Organs’ Across Kickstarter [Back Pages]
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With Morgan's Organs, the team of Daniel Brodie and Rob Jennex are taking a familiar concept and sending it off in a completely new direction. Set inside their lead character, the comic brings a group of organs to life and pits them off against one another, their squabbles and ambitions leading their human into new and confusing situations.
But this isn't an all-ages comic --- rather, this is the "inside the body" comic that finally gives voice to a penis, and pits it as the main opponent to the brain. It's very silly, but it also makes some surprising and delightfully funny points about how humans function. To find out more, ComicsAlliance spoke to Brodie about the project.
ComicsAlliance: What’s the basic premise of the comic?
Daniel Brodie: The short pitch is this: Morgan’s Organs is Inside Out for grown-ups. It asks the question, "What if there are tiny beings living in our bodies who are responsible for the functioning of our body systems?" They can influence our thoughts, our actions, and our urges. Except they don’t just live in our brain. They live in all our organs! And perhaps other places too.
CA: What made you want to tell the story?
DB: I think the best answer to that is that it felt like a story that needed to be told. When I first thought up the idea, I couldn’t think of a mature concept that explored the human body like this and had the sort of topics in mind that I want to explore --- stories related to sex, alcohol, drugs, adolescence, relationships, gender, etc. Sure, there have been similar productions like Osmosis Jones, and Herman’s Head, and the more recent Inside Out, but each of these imagine the body in their own way, just like I do too.
I also felt compelled to tell my story because it tries to push boundaries that similar conceptions might not have. I think case-in-point is the fact that my comic features a talking penis.
And yes, it’s supposed to be funny, but it’s supposed to be real, because sex is a part of human identity, and I would be ignoring that if I didn’t encompass the full spectrum of the body. It might turn off some readers to the concept and push the comic too far into the adult-side, but it’s more important to me to tackle the relationship between our body and our identity in ways that haven’t been explored before.
CA: Like you say, this is something you'd usually associate with educational comics, for all ages. But this... is not for all ages! What led you to try this approach towards the story?
DB: You’re right --- and it’s a thought I considered for a period while I was initially writing the idea as an adult comedy television series. You see, I am a member of an online writing community called Talentville, a tool that has been very helpful over the past couple years to improving my personal writing and my concept.
The founder of the site became interested in my scripts when they were receiving very positive reviews from others. He actually helped pitch my idea and script to a few people at television production companies. And while they all liked the general idea, they all also seemed to find the idea too “adult”, and would be more interested in seeing a more “kid-friendly” version of my story.
I debated the idea for a while --- to please the gatekeepers to Hollywood --- but ultimately, that’s not the story I set out to write in the first place! The kid-friendly or educational field has already been covered well enough by similar stuff. I think if I took that route, I wouldn’t have the sort of creative freedom that I have exploring this concept from a mature perspective.
I don’t think anything specifically guided me to take the mature approach to my idea. This is just the intention I had in my mind all along. I never imagined writing to a family audience. From the beginning, I’ve gone with my instincts in how I’ve tackled my writing and the development of the concept. And they haven’t failed me just yet!
CA: I love that your list of characters starts with the brain and the penis. What was the design process like on the comic? How did you decide which organs to add to your cast of characters?
DB: Morgan’s Organs has gone through several major re-writes over the past couple years as I played with the core concept. But in all these versions, my story has always begun with the same idea of a brain and penis arguing as Morgan is abruptly woken up from a sex dream. The idea just felt perfect for introducing Morgan’s immaturity, and the constant battle going on inside his body as each character fights for what they personally want.
The design process for the comic has felt very smooth. I think that’s because I’ve been working on my script long before design, so I went into the production with specific ideas in mind for everything. I actually had an artist friend draw early conceptions of the various characters a couple years ago when I first tried making this as a television series. Since I already had a completed script, it was really just about setting up my writing in an easy-to-understand storyboard so that Robert had all the information he needed to get drawing. It has helped so much that Robert seemed to get the vision I was going for almost immediately.
Just like most of the idea, the characters I chose for Morgan’s body came naturally. It just made sense for Bran the brain operator to be the most central character for the inner cast. And from there I thought --- who would have the most to lose from a brain that approaches life from a rational perspective? And of course, that led me to Pepe the penis controller, who acts on impulse.
I knew from the beginning I eventually want to develop a cast that encompasses all the organs of the body, but for now, I chose the major organs that an audience is most likely to recognize. This story does involve an ensemble cast, but I felt it important for the first comic to try to focus on just a few core characters. I imagine in future stories, I will continue to focus on a few characters each story based on the type of situation they are in.
Determining the personality of my characters has mostly come from asking what a reader might expect from a specific organ. And from there, I decided whether I wanted to meet expectations (like for the brain) or turn expectations on its heels (like we will see for some new characters later).
CA: How did Robert come to be involved in the project as artist? What's the collaborative process been like?
DB: My decision to make Morgan’s Organs a comic book series only started in summer 2015, and at the time, I knew next to nothing about comic book production. I’ve read my fair share, but I definitely didn’t know if my writing was even set-up well for transferring my idea from a television show to a book. I had gone out for quotes from various design studios, but none of them felt right. It seemed like too formal of a process, and for an indie project like this, I wanted to work with a person, not a company. I knew to succeed, I needed to find an individual who believed in the idea as much as I do.
I actually found Robert while searching on a website where individual contractors can post their services for numerous professions. I saw hundreds of entries, but Robert was the first that I contacted. So I sent him a script sample and asked if he’d be okay with doing one sketch of my brain character so I could get a better sense of his style. When he sent back that first sketch, I knew right there --- this is my guy.
The collaborative process has been incredibly smooth and I think that comes down to Robert’s core creative talent and ability to understand the vision of Morgan’s Organs. There are so many little details Robert has added to the design that I had never even thought of, but that have really enhanced the comedy and visuals of the story.
CA: What does his art style bring to the story, for you?
DB: I think Robert captures the fun, cartoony element of Morgan’s Organs so perfectly. My concept is definitely mature, but I didn’t want that to come across fully in the design and Robert has done an incredible job of balancing the adult material with the family-friendly art style. I might even go so far as to describe the art style as “disarming”. You would expect such a different art approach from material like this, but Robert’s style is incredibly inviting.
CA: What stage are you at with the project? How much have you already completed?
DB: I think I’ve taken a very risk-balanced approach to my project. For one, I understand that the key to a successful Kickstarter is trust-in-the-creator and proof-of-concept. On the other hand, there’s only so much I felt comfortable with investing in the project before seeking a fan base. Chalk it up to caution, but I’d prefer to have a partially-complete book with confidence that I have fans who love the project, than a completed book without any knowledge of just how much of an audience is out there. That’s why Kickstarter is so incredible --- it is both an investment tool, as well as a standing ground to find out if an idea is really worth bringing to the world.
So far, I have a small sample of the comic book art completed (four out of 40 pages of Issue #1), as well as about half of the characters completely drawn, cover art complete, and some additional items.
However, the script and storyboard is already complete, so Robert is ready to keep drawing the moment I give the signal. What has been most important to me in setting up my Kickstarter campaign page is ensuring that I communicate to backers they can trust me as a creator. So often, I see Kickstarters for new comic book ideas that don’t provide any sample art, or don’t clearly communicate to potential backers. I know I’m in the minority of comic book Kickstarters as one starting from scratch - having no pre-existing fan base - but I hope my campaign page sets me apart as a project they can trust.
CA: What’s your estimated delivery on the final comic?
DB: We estimate that the comic book production will be completed by early-June 2016 so it can be printed and shipped by the end of July. I already have a script for Issue #2 in the works, and if the project is successful, I’ll get started right away on finishing that so we can bring you even more of Morgan’s Organs soon!
Morgan's Organs will run on Kickstarter until 3 March 2016, seeking a funding target of $4,000. To find out more, you can find the Kickstarter here!