On Sunday, at the 2016 Tidewater Comicon, I had the opportunity to chat with artist and writer Ian McGinty about the end (for now) of his creator owned all ages series Welcome to Showside, his current work on Adventure Time, video games, and gingers while cosplayers screamed in the background. Welcome to Showside is about a demon named Kit, who just wants to eat food, play video games, and hang out with his friends Moon, Belle, and Boo. However, he’s the son of the evil Shadow King, who has other plans for him. Also, various monsters travel through eight bit portals into Showside creating most of the issue to issue conflict.
Before being the main artist on Adventure Time and creating both the Welcome to Showside comic and animated pilot, McGinty has worked on a variety of licensed comics, including a long run on Bravest Warriors with writer Kate Leth, Adventure Time: Candy Capers featuring the Peppermint Butler, and Munchkin.
Graphic Policy: What can Welcome to Showside readers expect from the end of the first arc?
Ian McGinty: We had to cram a huge amount of story into a single issue because we wanted to make sure the comic was out for everybody. You’re going to see Kit, the main character, confronting his father, who comes to Showside. The Shadow King actually does show up, and you actually see him instead of just hearing about him.
Along with that conflict, the kids have to take down Frank, who’s turned Belle’s mansion into a fortress. They also have to figure out how to turn Boo into his normal self because he’s all jacked up and super creepy. In the concluding arc, we’ll see Kit face his father and deal with the questions of who he is, why he’s in Showside, and how he got there
GP: Is it going to be a double sized issue?
IM: It’s 32 pages instead of the usual 22. The trade will have bonus comics that we didn’t get done in time to put in Welcome to Showside #5. That’s a nice incentive to pick up the collection. There’s a comic by Patabot, and Jen Bartel (Jem and the Holograms) did a two pager. Jen doesn’t normally do cartoon-y stuff, and it came out really nice.
GP: There are a lot of video games in Welcome to Showside. Why did you decide to include so many elements from them in the comic?
IM: I love video games, but I’m not good at them. I wanted to draw someone who was actually good at video games and things like that. It became a weird recurring theme along with the eating. I’m really interested in food and video games, and the world of Showside itself became like a video game. There’s a big boss battle at the end, like in the old turn based RPGs I enjoy. (Like old Final Fantasy.) Then, there’s the eight bit pixel portals that the characters go through, and we even had an eight bit Kit story in one of the backups.
GP: Yeah, that was a fun backup. It really made me wish there was a Welcome to Showside mobile game, like the Catbug one.
IM: The Catbug game was fun. And we got the animation made so who knows at this point.
GP: Especially in the last issue with Frank’s henchman Climp, I got a Southern vibe from Showside. What influence does Southern culture have on the comic.
IM: Showside is basically Savannah, Georgia, where I live. The environments are real landmarks in Savannah. In issue 4, Frank and Climp teleport, and they land in a famous alleyway in Savannah. They’re in the squares and places like that. That’s because it was super easy to find photos and draw from that instead of coming up with a big new thing.
And Climp looks like a hillbilly. He’s a Squidbillies type guy. He talks like a King of the Hill character in my head, and I think he’s really funny. He came about randomly. I drew him on the cover before I knew who he really was. And when I did the actual story, I decided to make him a smartass Southern dude.
GP: Another supporting character that I ended up loving in Welcome to Showside was Teenomicon. Could you maybe go a little bit into the design and creation process for him?
IM: Teenomicon was actually designed by Fred Stresing, who is Welcome to Showside‘s colorist and letterer. When we were first pitching the series, we were talking about funny things to have in the series and thought it would be cool to have a sassy Necronomicon guy. Then, Fred wanted to make him a whiny teenager, drew him up the next day, and said I could use it in the series.
Teenomicon is funny because he’s a teenager, but he actually knows everything because he’s a magic book. It would suck if you knew everything. Teenomicon is a “how-to” book for this universe and is my excuse for characters to get out of any situation immediately. He’s a knowledgeable, living book so it works.
GP: But he has a personality so he’s not like a boring exposition guy.
IM: Exactly. He’s really into old school screamo bands, like My Breadical Romance, Taking Back Sunday Brunch, and the Novemberists. There’s a backup later where we find out he’s into watching really cheesy soap operas that will be in the trade. Kara Love wrote that one for us.
GP: In Welcome to Showside #4, you started co-writing the series with Samantha Knapp. Why do you guys decide to start doing that, and what does she add to the comic?
IM: Samantha had a lot of knowledge of the universe, and we had first talked about Welcome to Showside while I was pitching ideas. I started getting more in demand as an artist so I didn’t have as much time to work on it. I was writing and drawing the comic as well as doing covers and picking up backup creators so she came onboard for issue 4. With her, I tell her what’s going to happen in the story, and she makes sense of it in the different story beats.
GP: So, she wrote all the dialogue?
IM: I actually write all the dialogue, but she paces the story out and chooses what’s going to happen in each panel. It’s a nice back and forth and makes the script writing process easier too. Her background is in horror, anime, and manga. These are things I like, but I don’t know super extensively.
Samantha made it so the comic wasn’t just a monster battle each issue. Issues 4 and the super sized issue 5 are one arc, and she brought in cool horror elements while making it more serious. Whereas for me, I was going through a rough time so all my comics I was writing were super bubbly and happy. But she said that there had to be some conflict beyond fighting and beating monsters. Samantha took her knowledge of horror and manga and made everything a little darker. It really helped because you feel that there is more on the line.
GP: So, what is the future of Welcome to Showside after issue 5?
IM: Issue 5 comes out pretty soon, and then the trade, and that’s the end of it for now. The animated pilot is still being looked at, and there are still negotiations about an animated series. We’re taking a little hiatus until we see what happens with that, and depending on the animated show, Showside the comic could start up again.
We’ve talked about rebooting it, and right now, if the trade goes well, we might do a spinoff miniseries of just Moon and Belle. It would be an all-female led team. I wouldn’t even be involved in that and would let them use my characters and properties. Samantha would write it, and we have some artists lined up to crank it out if the series happens.
I do Adventure Time full time so I needed the little break. I hope we can do the spinoff though.
GP: I would totally pick up. I actually do have a general question about Adventure Time. Which characters are you interested in exploring in that crazy, big universe?
IM: I usually say Peppermint Butler, but they’ve already gone into his backstory. I’m working on a story about BMO’s dark side right now. I’m interested in BMO being the only genderless character in that universe and being an actual robot. There’s weird stuff around to be explored, like the scene in the show where he has to change his batteries, and he has to time it properly so he can jump into the batteries. He basically dies and falls on the batteries. And I thought that was so creepy. I’m always into Lumpy Space Princess stories because she’s awesome.
GP: One thing I liked about Welcome to Showside is that I wanted to hang out with the characters, and they seemed like my friends. What Welcome to Showside character would you want spend the day with?
IM: Definitely not Frank because he’s so irritating. Definitely not Cool Ghost because he’s the worst character ever made in a comic. I would have to say Belle because she would have the most fun and “doesn’t take no guff”. Moon and Belle would be my picks. Moon seems a little too neurotic and uptight, but Belle is pretty fun.
GP: My last question just for fun, and why did you decide make Kit a ginger?
IM: If anyone knows me, and that my girlfriend has red hair, they know that I have something for redheads. More so, it’s because Kit has green skin, and the colors work together. He started out with blue hair, and one day we switched it to red. I liked how the big red mohawk looks.
Adventure Time #53, which is written by Christopher Hastings (Gwenpool) and drawn by Ian McGinty is set to come out on June 8 and is published by BOOM! Studios.
Welcome to Showside #5 is written by Ian McGinty and Samantha “Glow” Knapp and drawn by McGinty is set to be released later this summer along with a trade paperback collecting Welcome to Showside #1-5 and bonus material. It is published by Z2 Comics.
Find Ian on Twitter.
Like Welcome to Showside on Facebook.