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For Free Comic Book Day 2011, Silver Sponsor Viper Comics will offer the Inspector Gadget/Johnny Test Flip Book, giving comic readers a chance to follow the Inspector, Penny and the Brain aboard the Orient Express for a vacation that turns into an escort mission, while Johnny and Dukey have to make sure Johnny fails in school!
Now writer Dale Mettam (Missing Linx and the web comic Cemetery Street) talks about the FCBD titles, their characters, the significance of FCBD itself, and much more in Freecomicbookday.com’s exclusive interview.
Dale Mettam: It’s a bumper-combo-of-fun! Inspector Gadget and Johnny Test, together—for the first time! Okay, not exactly together in the same comic, but under the same cover. Gadget is chasing Dr. Claw and agents of MAD aboard the Orient Express (and needing the help of Penny and Brain the dog as he bumbles along). Johnny Test, on the other hand, has a much more personal issue…someone has been doing his homework for him and he’s getting straight A grades—pretty good, right? Actually, the future of everyone Johnny knows depends on him failing, so Johnny and Dukey have to make sure Johnny fails…. WHOA! Didn’t see that one coming.
Freecomicdayday.com: What’s your favorite part about being able to work in comics?
Dale Mettam: Where’s the downside? Seriously. I get to make up stories and get paid to do that. Better still, I get to do that with other people who do the same thing. Even better, I get to work with people who are often more creative than me and push me to do more and to do it better. It’s fun. It’s the kinda thing I used to do as a kid for my own entertainment and now it’s a job.
Best job ever!
Was that too gushing? Sorry if it was. I just really love my job. Did that come through?
Freecomicdayday.com: Why do you think FCBD is so vital to the industry?
Dale Mettam: I think anything that brings some positive light to shine on comics. There is a lot of good stuff out there, and anything that pulls in new readers or readers that have drifted away—whatever—it brings people in and, while they might be there for the free stuff, they’re exposed to the stuff we do all year long.
Freecomicdayday.com: Since FCBD has been a yearly event since 2002, do you, your creator friends and/or your family have any annual FCBD traditions?
Dale Mettam: Most of the awesome talent I work with are spread out across the country (and in a few cases, across the world), so there’s never anything where I meet up with some of my colleagues. This year, I’ll be hitting Ultimate Comics (www.ultimatecomicsonline.com) and signing some books and meeting some readers.
Freecomicdayday.com: What do you believe will set your FCBD book apart from the others that readers will be picking up for free on May 7?
Dale Mettam: I’m pretty sure that all the FCBD books will be awesome. One of the great things about the Inspector Gadget on the Orient Express/Johnny Test: The Once and Future Johnny is that it’s an all-age book. We didn’t need to tone it down and dilute something to make it appear to a broad new swath of readers…what you see in the FCBD book is what you get with every all-age book Viper Comics releases.
Freecomicdayday.com: What’s the biggest challenge when creating a FCBD book as opposed to a standard comic? Do you have to approach it differently, knowing you might have a broader audience?
Dale Mettam: The short answer is no. Viper Comics is all about the consistent quality of books. So we didn’t look to raise our standards for this…just maintain them. Again, given that the book is all-age, I didn’t really need to do anything different to what I would do on any other book.
Freecomicdayday.com: Knowing that so many readers are sure to pick up the issue, does it put more pressure on you, or is it something that gets you more excited about what you’re working on?
Dale Mettam: The biggest pressure for me on this book was to make sure I was true to the original cartoons. Johnny Test and Inspector Gadget have some awesome fans and they’ll want to see all the things they love about the cartoons and the characters in the comic. That was where the pressure came from on this. Hopefully the fans of the cartoons will like what I did. And hopefully readers who are less familiar with the shows will enjoy the book for what it is.
Freecomicdayday.com: In the spirit of potential newcomers picking up comics, what was the first comic you remember reading or that inspired you to get involved in the industry?
Dale Mettam: Since I’m originally from England, the very early comics I read were more like what you would call the newspaper “Funnies” over here. I forget how old I was, maybe even as young as five or six. I do remember getting a hold of an English Marvel reprint of Spider-man and being blown away by this. It was so different from what I had seen before. At that point, many, many of my drawings were Webhead-themed. At the time, the idea I would someday work in comics was just fantastically impossible. But strange things happen…and here I am. So remember kids…follow your dreams.
Freecomicdayday.com: What comic(s) or graphic novel(s) would you recommend to someone that enjoys your FCBD book and is looking for something like it to read next?
Dale Mettam: Well, we’ll be having extended versions of Inspector Gadget on the Orient Express and Johnny Test: The Once and Future Johnny out this summer. A couple of other all-age books that Viper have also due out soon are Missing Linx, which follows the adventures of Big Foot, Yeti, Sasquatch and Skunk-Ape as they form the most unlikely group of heroes saving the world. And then Hero Petz, which is just a heap of romping fun with animal heroes foiling the evil plans of Ninja Weasels. Check out the Diamond Listings for ordering info…or the Viper Comics website.
Be sure to visit Freecomicbookday.com often to check out previews of this year’s books and to learn more about the creators involved. You can also follow all the latest FCBD news on Facebook and Twitter.