War Rocket Ajax #18: ‘Wondermark’ Creator David Malki! on ComicsAlliances’s Podcast!
This week on the War Rocket Ajax podcast, Wondermark creator and Machine of Death editor David Malki stops by to talk about using turn-of-the-century magazines to create one of our favorite webcomics — and you can listen to the show right here at ComicsAlliance!War Rocket Ajax v.2, #18: Spit In the Face of the Man with David Malki !
(WARNING: Contains NSFW language)
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On this week’s show, Chris and Matt welcome another War Rocket Ajax Hundo Club member to the third chair: Bradley Moyer! Meanwhile, Chris is struggling with learning to use a Mac and watching a lot of Jem — even for him — while Matt is gearing up for the release of his new book, The Super-Villain Handbook.
Plus, in our newest recurring feature that we enjoy way more than anyone else listening to the show, Chris performs a dramatic reading of the Thrasher Magazine letters page.
When David Malki! joins the show, the conversation turns to his strip, Wondermark, and how he describes it to people:
Wondermark looks different from most comics. It shares a format and a vernacular with a newspaper comic strip. It’s that sort of four-panel dialogue balloon sort of thing. And it’s a gag strip, sort of in the tradition of The Far Side, where it’s different every time. Like you said, not really any recurring characters or themes. It’s a different setup, a different world every time.
The thing that’s unique about it is that it’s made using illustrations from old books, from 19th century magazines and catalogs and storybooks and so on. So all the illustration and the artwork comes from my collection of old books, and then I scan the images, take them apart and put them back together in different ways, and sort of use them like LEGOs, assembling them into a new comic strip, a thing that did not exist before.
I have a collection of old books from the 1800s. I just got three of them in the mail today, I occasionally get bored and just start buying books on eBay. But you’re right: I try not to repeat characters, if possible. Mainly because it would look the same. You can draw a character twice if you’re a cartoonist and make him look different, and he’s a recurring character. But for me, I would be using the exact same image in both strips, and so to me, I just find it boring.
He also tells us about the benefits of working in his particular format:
Right now, I sometimes have to cram everything I want to say into four panels, and the text is just floor to ceiling. So there are definitely challenges as far as that goes. Coming up with something new every time is, I mean, sometimes it’s hard to come up with an idea, but I’m thankful for the freedom that affords.
Because if I want to talk about something entirely different from day one to day two, I can. I’m not locked into an environment and characters and a world that has to justify whatever topic I want to discuss. So if I want to talk about something political one day and something about relationships the next day and something totally silly the third day, there’s nothing stopping me. In fact, the variety, I appreciate that, versus having to come up with — “Hold on, if I want to make a political point, I have to bring in my political character and I was in the middle of this other storyline!”
Plus, find out about Malki’s history creating corporate mascot comics and his (possibly entirely fictional) beef with Dinosaur Comics creator Ryan North!
ComicsAlliance’s interview with Malki, Ryan North and Matthew Bennardo about Machine of Death‘s success.
The Wondermark fan’s letter about the Hendrick’s Gin box can be found here. The box itself is pretty rad:
The explosion-filled trailer for David Malki’s wedding:
Check out his equally amazing cake here.
Bradley would appreciate it if you checked out his lady friend’s art.
Chris’s Rec: Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone’s Scooby Doo movies.
Matt’s Rec: Benito Cereno and Graeme MacDonald’s Tales From the Bully Pulpit, available now on Graphic.ly!
Brad’s Rec: Gurren Lagann, an anime that, according to Google Image Search, is about a girl in a bikini that can turn into a pillow.
X-Men: Regenesis: “I am more interested in X-Men now than I ever have been. Well, in my 20s. I will never be as interested in the X-Men as I was when I was ten.” “I guess this is the most excited I will be to read a Gambit comic.”
Batwoman #2: “I liked it a lot more than Batwoman #1. The art is as good as always; what I think makes this issue better than the first is that there’s no need for that big info dump that came around the middle of issue 1 of Batwoman. It’s all just character building and really incremental moving of the plot.”
Indiana Jones Adventures: “They really nail the feeling of the movies. Dudes get socked in the jaw, Nazis mess around with things that ought not to be messed around with, and it’s good pulpy stuff. I think it doe a lot better than that last movie that was out a couple years ago.”