IDW Is Bringing Suriano And Chapman’s ‘Cosmic Scoundrels’ To Print
Cosmic Scoundrels is one of those comics where everything about it is the best thing about it. Created a few years ago by Homestar Runner co-creator Matt Chapman and Samurai Jack artist Andy Suriano, the series follows the adventures of two spacefaring crooks who find themselves dealing with intergalactic hijinx that --- according to the creators --- are inspired by nothing so much as '70s cosmic superheroes, 2000 AD, and blacklight posters.
Until now, the series has been running as an irregularly updated webcomic, but this week, IDW announced that it had picked up the series for a print release starting next year, complete with new content that's exclusive to the print versions.
The comic came together as a side project when Suriano and Chapman were working down the hall from each other on Mickey Mouse and Gravity Falls, respectively. The idea started off with Suriano wanting to do a space adventure, and after a year of conversation between larger projects - and one very important lunch over sushi that gave them the idea to name a starship The Midnight Fernando - they began to collaborate on the series with an eye towards recapturing the thrills of reading Treasury-sized sci-fi comics and embracing the wild ridiculousness of an adventure in a starship shaped like a giant fist that mainly attacks by punching other starships.
If you haven't read it, Cosmic Scoundrels follows the adventures of Love Savage and Roshambo, a pair of characters described by the comic's website as "intergalactic bachelors on the run from everyone." Together --- along with an artificial intelligence named Mrs. Billingsley that thinks they're the long-dead owners of her ship --- they roam the galaxy engaging in activities that usually range from "extremely illegal" to "flagrantly illegal," and usually only survive through sheer chance.
Well, chance and Roshambo's "Galactic Gauntlets," which allow him to rock, paper, and scissor his enemies with a simple gesture of his hands.
For Love Savage, who is essentially an outer-space David Lee Roth, luck has a whole lot more to do with it.
From its first few pages, the series thrives on its high-energy style, obliterating the line between high adventure and complete absurdity at every chance it gets, and Suriano's loose, kinetic, neon-soaked artwork makes every ridiculous piece of the story work with the perfect combination of comedy and action.
The series certainly makes use of its webcomic format. Given Chapman's history with Homestar Runner and the Strong Bad Emails, it's probably not surprising that the series is loaded with caption-text gags and Easter eggs that add to the universe, which come in forms as varied as blueprints and text pieces that provide extra background, additional comics done in the style of Dennis the Menace's Hank Ketchum, and even a quick video that gets right to the heart of the book's VHS aesthetic. At the same time, its structure makes its transition into print a pretty easy leap to make, at least as far as the main pages are concerned. In fact, while the upcoming IDW issues will certainly be the widest print release that the series has ever had, it's actually not the first: Cosmic Scoundrels actually has been available in print, but only in limited quantities sold by Suriano at conventions, and only as a staggeringly oversized 11 x 17" version of each issue.
Even without those extra bonuses being tied into each page, those oversized books make for a pretty great way to read the story, but I have to assume that giving readers something they can buy in their local shops - and that will actually fit in a long box or on a bookshelf - might help Roshambo, Love Savage, and the baby that they accidentally kidnapped from a gang of interstellar bounty hunters find a home with a whole new audience.
To mark the announcement, and to get some answers on how the book is going to translate into its third radically different form, I spoke to Suriano:
ComicsAlliance: How do you describe Cosmic Scoundrels to a new reader? “It’s a rock-n-roll space opera that’s basically Three Men And A Baby in space, but the baby can explode people with his mind and one of the men is already dead when the story starts?” RIP, Party Steve.
Andy Suriano: We couldn’t have said it better!
CA: The last time we talked about Cosmic Scoundrels, you talked about how you wanted to get away from Jack Kirby’s influence, which pushed you more towards looking at stuff like 2000 AD, weird cosmic sci-fi stories, and blacklight posters. As the story has gone on, have you noticed any other influences creeping in there?
AS: I feel like I've been steadily bathing myself in the José Luis García-López run of Atari Force, then shampooing with First Comics' Warp issues and exfoliating with Star Reach anthologies, specifically the Howard Chaykin and Jim Starlin creations.
CA: Was there any specific challenge in bringing the story to print? The previous printed versions were those big treasury-sized books, and as a webcomic, you’ve got all those easter eggs. How do you make it all translate?
AS: Absolutely; not only figuring out how to handle all the Easter Eggs and little 'asides' that's been such a big part of the Cosmic Scoundrels experience online so that it doesn't interrupt the flow of the main series - but to create i's own, unique experience for this latest incarnation at IDW. It was important for Matt and I (as well as our editors at IDW) to create content and a reader interface that could stand out and on it's own, outside of the web comic and our treasury-sized convention books (which were different from each other too).
CA: There are currently 69 pages of Cosmic Scoundrels available on the web. Is there more coming once the series moves to print?
AS: Yes. Matt and I have been sitting on material specifically to release exclusively through this new IDW series. We can't wait to share with the world.
CA: And you know I have to ask: Will we ever see more of Party Steve?
AS: If there's a party, he'll show up!
Cosmic Scoundrels debuts in print from IDW in 2017.