#ZDARSCON: Live (Pre-Recorded) At Chip Zdarsky’s One-Man Toronto Convention [Interview]
Chip Zdarsky is clearly his own man. While other comic creators took their places behind their tables at Toronto's Fan Expo comic convention this past weekend, the co-creator of Sex Criminals set up his own independent 'Zdarscon' in a park across the street -- in the shadow of the CN Tower and a short distance from the Blue Jays baseball game at the Rogers Centre. Even his co-author Matt Fraction wasn't invited.
The day started with torrential rain, followed by blazing heat, but Zdarsky was attended at all times by Alex Hoffman, the life model who provides the likeness for his Sex Criminal character Jon. ComicsAlliance found Zdarsky seated on a sun-baked armchair on a wheeled platform, with his recently won Eisner Award bolted to a table. We grabbed five minutes with the writer/artist to ask... why, Chip? Why?
ComicsAlliance: This is ComicsAlliance reporting from Zdarscon. We're in a park across the street from Fan Expo, the official convention. Chip, what is the legal status of Zdarscon?
Chip Zdarsky: First of all, I don't know why you would call that the "official" convention. This is just as official a convention as any. So that answers the legal question right there.
CA: So you're not doing something illegal in a public park?
CZ: Well, I mean, we're just outside the CBC [Canadian Broadcasting Corporation], which is owned by us. By me, by you... maybe not you, you're an immigrant. So I feel relatively secure setting up here.
CA: How's the traffic been?
CZ: A lot of baseball fans. So, sales haven't been what I'd hoped they would. We still have to make back the rental of the van, that's tricky.
CA: But it's still early.
CZ: It's still early. We had a few people come by, looking specifically for Zdarscon and finding Zdarscon and enjoying Zdarscon.
CA: How would you describe your setup here?
CZ: Luxurious, if I can use one word. We have a beautiful faux leather armchair, bolted to a moving pedestal with a table also bolted to the moving pedestal and an Eisner also bolted to that table. A lovely selection of all the individual issues, a banner with my face on it. And, uh... and... uh... me.
CA: Explain the moving pedestal for me; why is your convention on wheels?
CZ: For transportation. Seems kind of obvious. In case we have to move suddenly, for a reason like a rain storm or a someone who challenges our legal status here. So far, we're good. I just want to point that out, so far no problems.
CA: What made you decide to set up your convention opposite Fan Expo?
CZ: What's Fan Expo?
CA: The other convention happening across the street from your convention.
CZ: Oh right, I've seen a lot of costumes. I was not invited to the Fan Expo, so my only recourse was to set up across the street. I don't know. Maybe one day I'll get invited. How much is it to get in there?
CA: I don't know, I have a press pass.
CZ: Oh, wow. Fancy lad. I feel like it's a lot of money to get in there, a lot of money to be in there, and I'm all about passing on the savings to the consumer. So, you don't have to pay to get into Zdarscon, because there is no 'in' for Zdarscon, because it's 'out'.
CA: You're a man of the people.
CZ: Thank you. Thank you for recognizing that, finally.
CA: How is Sex Criminals doing at the moment? You're up to issue #7?
CZ: Issue #7 is out, working on #8. It's going great. It's going obviously better than we thought it would, because I have low expectations for everything in my life. Sales have been going up, which is unusual for comics, apparently.
CA: Are you just going to keep going and going, forever?
CZ: Forever. Forever, until I die of heat stroke in this blazing sun. I think the plan is to go on until maybe sixty, seventy issues. We have enough ideas to keep going, and we have an endpoint in mind. So it's a matter of how we get there and a matter of whether Matt [Fraction] and I like each other at that point.
CA: Is that in contention?
CZ: Hey, it's always in contention when you have two handsome men facing off like this.
CA: Will there be more sex, more criminality?
CZ: Shockingly enough, the next issue, there's no sex and no criminality. So I don't know, we'll have to change the title of the book to People Having Discussions.
CA: You recently did your first Marvel work for Original Sins, in which you inserted yourself into the Marvel Universe as an agent of SHIELD.
CZ: Yeah, I'm now copyright Marvel Comics.
CA: So who will play you in the Marvel movies?
CZ: Unfortunately, probably Seth Green. I don't know. Tom Green, speaking of Greens? Everyone always says I look like Tom Green.
CA: There is a resemblance. Sorry. Should we expect to see you on any other Marvel properties soon?
CZ: I'm probably going to be on all the Marvel properties. That's my guess. I'll have a bunch of Marvel properties.
CA: I know you have a notebook full of Marvel ideas. Are there any of those that you're going to bring to Marvel talent scout Jeanine Schaefer?
CZ: Yeah, she's here isn't she? God, I should just line up with that notebook of ideas and slide it to her and see what she says. I guess they're good to work for, I was able to get away with a Namor shitting in the ocean joke, which is fine. If there is something that suited me that they wanted me to work on and it didn't conflict with Sex Criminals -- which is my #1 priority, Matt, my #1 priority. Can you put that in bold and italics?
CZ: They were fun to work with. I'd totally work for them again.
CA: Do you have plans to launch a second book? Something away from Matt, get away from his...
CZ: From under his shadow?
CA: Yeah, shake that guy off?
CZ: Yeah, I have an Image book in the works with Kagan McLeod that we're not quite talking about yet, but I guess this would be talking about it. You tricked me! Sometime in the new year.
CA: He'll be drawing that?
CZ: Yeah, he'll be drawing that, I'll be writing it. There's no way I could do any more artwork.
CA: Will it be humorous?
CZ: Yes! A little bit sexual, maybe not as sexual as Sex Criminals. There'll be sexual tension. It's called Sexual Tension. Sexual Tension, by Chip and Kagan.
CA: If I can turn to Alex for a moment. Alex, you're the face of Sex Criminals. How did that come about?
Alex Hoffman: Well, Chip just slipped me a note one day. And for once it wasn't about meeting in the parking lot, it was actually about coming to his house and posing for some photographs.
CZ: Technically, we did do some photos in the parking lot behind my house.
AH: We did do a few in the alleyway, yes. I don't know if those made it into the book yet.
CA: How does he treat you as a model?
AH: Generally OK. I don't have much of a modeling career to base it against. He gets us a few drinks, a little bit of Indian food, then he just sets us loose.
CA: You don't normally pose for comic books? That's not your day to day occupation?
AH: No, my day-to-day is actually working at a comic book store called the Beguiling.
CZ: But you're also the basis for a J. Bone book.
AH: That's true, another fine Image comic called The Saviors by James Robinson and J. Bone, also available at the Beguiling.
CA: So your likeness is in two different Image comics.
AH: Jay draws me a lot more handsome too.
AH: Happy to give him the call out there.
CA: You're the face of Image comics. You're the mascot.
AH: Well they are going to reveal the new Spawn eventually, and they're going to switch it to a white Spawn now, just to kind of go against the current, and that will be me as well. Yeah, I charge Todd McFarlane a lot more. It takes more than a few beers and some Indian food for that.
CA: Chip, have you seen many Brimpers at this show?
CZ: Nobody wearing "Brimpers" shirts, but there have been a bunch of people that have come up specifically to see Zdarscon and get stuff signed, so that's awesome, the fact that they're willing to leave their $400-a-day show or whatever to walk across the street to be entertained by me.
CA: So your plan is to be here all day?
CZ: We've got another couple of hours until the sun kills us. By the time you transcribe this, will there be enough time for people to come visit us?
CA: No, this won't go out until several days after.
CZ: Oh wow. Why am I doing this? Why am I promoting a thing that I'm just doing right now and only now?
CA: Well you chose not to promote it in advance.
CZ: Oh yeah. I'm not the smartest one.