Yes, I am a Batman fanatic, love the Iron Man, and I can't get enough Tomb of Dracula. The dark storylines and gobs of violence are not the most family friendly reading you can share with the kids before bed. Fear not! Tales of the Brother Three, written and illustrated by Josh Hauke, brings a family friendly comic that we can all sink our teeth into.
Josh and I share a love of comics, zombies, and absurd humor. When I met him and he showed me TOTB3, I was instantly hooked. Who wouldn't like a stew made of part Calvin and Hobbs and part John Hughes? Okay, now I'm hungry. It's all good though, Josh has plenty of great words to fill us up.
Can you give me a bit of your background and why you chose to write for children?
Years later, instead of laughing, I should have listened to my mother when she told me, “I still think you should do something with your art. You’re such a good artist.” Instead, I choose to study film, screenwriting to be exact, it just seemed like more fun at the time. Of course I still found myself doodling and all my scripts were about kids. If it had robots, monsters, aliens, dinosaurs, or boogers, I was there.
At a certain point, just writing about robots, monsters, aliens, dinosaurs, and yes, even boogers wasn’t enough. So I started drawing again and Tales of the Brothers Three is was happened. The characters are great and the thing that I love about them is they have such wild imaginations that I can write and draw any type of story that I want. Even if that story is about a five-year-old sitting his mother down at the table and telling her he’s going to go into cartoons.
For those of us that don't know, can you tell me about Tales of the Brothers Three and how it evolved?
JH: Tales of the Brothers Three originally started as a feature length script. It was loosely based on my family and narrated by the mounted head of a moose that hangs on their wall.
Why a moose you say?
Um, we didn't say anything.
Well, I’ll tell you!
Okay, fine, go ahead.
My grandparent’s had a deer head mounted on the wall in their house. My brothers and I we’re always convinced that no matter where we went in the room it was always watching us. The deer became a moose because, hey it’s funnier and the moose began to speak, telling the tales of what he saw in the home of the Brothers Three.
Now the types of things he sees is a whole other story. Monsters that would rather eat socks than people, haunted mustaches, children being sucked up into vacuum cleaners, moose kissers, space turtles, and some exciting stuff too. Tales of the Brothers Three is a weekly web comic (http://www.brothers3comics.com) that chronicles the misadventures of Keith, Wayne, Dougie and their stuffed monster, Mook.
A lot of their adventures start from things that they misinterpret from adults. So careful next time you tell your kids something, because it my backfire, as it often does for the parent’s of the Brothers Three.
What is your process when creating a comic? How long does it usually take from script to completed piece?
JH: I always start with the story. I’ll write about a months worth of scripts at a time. It takes me a day or two. I usually come up with jokes or funny ideas for other storylines too. Those ideas start to pile up and it works out pretty well for me because it helps me decide what’s going to happen in the strip over the next couple of months.
Once I start drawing I begin with thumbnails of what the comic is going to look like. I want it to be fun and creative, but not too crazy because people need to be able to follow the story. Then I pencil and ink by hand. I ink twice once to rough everything in, then once more to make sure the first set of inks doesn’t get to lonely. This also helps to make the characters and important objects pop. After that, I scan the images into photoshop, clean them up, color them, and drop in the text. The whole process takes a couple of days.
Do you have any advice for a writer/illustrator that wants to start their own webcomic? Any pitfalls to avoid, etc?
JH: My advice would be, learn photoshop. When I was first getting started I was stumbling around blindly. I was drawing, inking, and painting, all by hand. It took an entire week. Then a few friends taught me how to use photoshop properly and I will forever be in their debt for it.
Also, before launching your comic, create a stockpile of material. It’s hard to keep a schedule and if you start to fall behind a week or too you’ll loose a lot of readers.
What are you reading and what/who inspires you to create?
JH: I must admit, I read a lot of comics. Now is a good time to be a kid too (even if only at heart) because there is a lot of good stuff coming out there to read. Diary Of A Wimpy Kid, The Runaways, Amulet, Bone, Cul De Sac, I read a lot of horror stuff, and a great web comic called The Abominable Charles Christopher.
I get inspired from a lot of different places, not just books, but film and TV too. When I’m writing I like to watch sitcoms, I’m always amazed at how many jokes they can cram into such a small space. Two of my biggest influences, outside of my actual family, are John Hughes and Bill Watterson. Actually, one of the best things I’ve ever heard said about Tales of the Brothers Three is that it’s like John Hughes meets Calvin and Hobbes.
What other types of projects are you working on?
The Dead Downstream. It’s for a slightly older audience than the Brothers Three and instead of coming out in a strip format I’m hoping to publish it as an original graphic novel. I’m really excited about it because this story and these characters have been swimming around in my head for a long time. It’s also going to have lots of fun things that you wouldn’t normally see in a zombie story like water sliding zombies, or rabid grannies, and bacon. Lots and lots of bacon!
I know you are in the process of querying for agents. Can you tell us a little bit about your experience with that? What have you learned that the rest of us can incorporate into our letters or avoid?
JH: I don’t have an agent yet, but I’m hoping to have one soon. I’ve submitted to a few so far and the jury is still out. I do however think that query letters are one of the hardest things to write. I could write 50 pages on how to make the ultimate peanut butter and jelly sandwich with only your thumb and two slices of bread, before I could write a one-page query letter. The problem is you want to make sure everything is perfect before you send it out. That being said, the best advice I’ve gotten so far is, “If your writing something funny, then your query better be funny.”
So watch out agents, because you’re about to get 50 of the funniest pages about making sandwiches that you’ve ever read.
I can't speak for everyone else, Josh, but that sounds like the makings of a pretty awesome book! I love the Peebs & J!
I want to thank Josh for stopping by the Asylum and letting us rattle the brain cage for awhile. I'm looking forward to many more Tales from the brothers and Mook.