Fwoosh: Joe, welcome to the Fwoosh interview. This will be a bit back-and-forth. I’ll ask some questions, if there is need for follow-up on one of your answers, then I’ll zap you with some more questions. There also might be redundancy in the questions — the downside to a written interview. I watched a few episodes of The Shell Show, specifically the one with Deadpool and the one with Falcon. But there are many, many more with DC Universe Classics and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. What was your inspiration for starting the show? It was a few things, really. Years ago I interned at The Late Show With David Letterman as Paul Shaffer’s assistant, where I got to witness all the backstage shenanigans first-hand. And there’s a lot of shenanigans. I used that experience to inform The Shell Show, with the character of Gary basically standing in for me. Also — and this shouldn’t come as a surprise to you — I have a lot of action figures. I started seriously collecting them in the early
What gives you the inspiration to draw the new Bravest Warriors characters?
Often I’ll get a short description, some kind of characteristic to loop in (Jelly Kid is made of jelly … Impossibear is some kind of space bear: GO). I generate pages of doodles and pick out my favorites. More often I’m just making up creatures and aliens, which is the most fun, because that’s what I’m drawing all the time anyway. I get inspiration from forms in nature—anything weird I can find.
For awhile I was digging on undersea creatures, ancient lifeforms and bizarre organisms, but lately I’ve been studying plants and flowers. What first sparked that idea was when I visited the Natural History Museum at Harvard a few years back and was absorbed into their glass flowers exhibit. Seeing plantforms blown up to 40 to 200 times their size makes you realize just how alien they are. I’m drawn to all variety of organic shapes—the aesthetic code of nature—and I try to think of ways to combine and transform them through simplification. I was just visiting the southwest and even the rockforms out there are full of life. On a show like Bravest Warriors, its often a matter of putting some interesting shapes together and adding a cute face to it. Ha. But yeah, that’s where I look to most. That, and learning from my favorite artists—old and new. Watching lots of cartoons, reading a lot of comics.