Shocking Shirtless Man In Surreal Psycho Series
Apr 20, 2017
by Vince Brusio
Comics come in all shapes and sizes these days. They’re for kids, they’re for grown-ups, they’re for alternative lifestyles, and they even make for great movies. Not all comics, though, should be taken seriously. In fact, some should never be tried at home. Or in the forest. For example: Shirtless Bear Fighter from Image Comics. This is a book that is over-the-top ridiculous and rowdy. It is insane. How cool is that? Cartoon violence that exists to make you cringe, and characters that should never get a license to drive cars are those moving parts that writers Jody LeHeup and Sebastian Girner talk about in this PREVIEWSworld Exclusive interview.
Shirtless Bear Fighter #1 (APR170718) is in shops June 21.
Vince Brusio: This book looks like a wonderful amalgam of Hercules meets Tarzan, while the main character suffers an identity crisis because his father was Paul Bunyan. The appetite for flapjacks being a great transition to why you should patronize your local Waffle House. That’s our impression of just the cover. But how did you come up with the idea for such fun that practically screams “B-movie” with popcorn and soda?
Jody LeHeup: Shirtless Bear-Fighter! Is actually autobiographical. It’s the True Hollywood story of Sebastian Girner. He was going to sell the novel rights for a gabillion dollars but then I was like, “Nah, man. Let’s make a stupid comic book about your life.” He was like, “Great! I hate money!” And here we are.
Sebastian Girner: It’s true. Jody successfully talked me into turning the somber and tragic story of how bears destroyed my life into a pun-laden punch-fest of a comic book with pixelated dicks all over it. I’ll never forgive him! SBF could easily be the start of a B-Movie shlock-a-thon but in lieu of popcorn and soda we recommend a Bloody Mary with a pork rib instead of celery.
Vince Brusio: So what makes Shirtless Bear Fighter the angriest man in the world? Why isn’t someone stepping forward and giving him some Play-Doh and a safe space? Isn’t anyone in this man’s corner? Who is it in his camp that’s either helping him or hurting him?
Jody LeHeup: Shirtless was in counseling for a while but instead of Play-Doh someone gave him a teddy bear and it only made things worse! Shirtless was raised by bears but, as we’ll reveal, they betrayed him in a really horrible way. So when we find Shirtless in issue one he’s alone with his anger, hunting down his own people for what they did to him. Needless to say he’s in a very dark place. No one’s in his corner.
Sebastian Girner: No MAN is in Shirtless’ corner...luckily there’s badass Special Agent Suzie Silva, who comes into this comic much like the reader does: wondering why the hell a naked wild-man is punching bears all the time! She’ll find her answers, and her development is no less important than that of Shirtless himself. Readers will really identify with Silva.
Vince Brusio: This book probably isn’t an homage to Ricky-Oh: The Story of Ricky. We don’t think we’ll see any splatter-trash elements. No gratuitous gore, probably, as it’s a tale for the ages. But bears are getting punched in the face! It’s a true punch line with punch! So what made you decide on the Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robot scenario with Yogi Bear’s cousins? Where and why do these battles take place?
Sebastian Girner: It’s cartoon violence with real-world stakes! Shirtless is socking bears left and right, but the reasons and emotions behind his anger and his journey do hit home.
Jody LeHeup: Speaking of home, when government agents Burke and Silva approach Shirtless to help them battle gigantic, crazed bears that have begun attacking major cities, Shirtless has to make a choice between fighting the bears he hates and protecting the forest home he’s sworn to protect. It’s an important decision, and if he gets it wrong it’s going to cost him dearly.
Vince Brusio: If fans were looking for contemporary references to describe this book, would you cite titles like Robert Kirkman’s Sea Bear & Grizzly Shark? If not, can you give us a feel for the flavor of insanity we have yet to sample?
Sebastian Girner: We set out to marry a serious story of self-discovery and healing inner wounds with a really silly and in-your-face hook. No disrespect to the many fine books out on the market right now, but we daresay the sheer glory awaiting readers in SBF will rival anything else in comics!
Jody LeHeup: We got bears driving monster trucks, hillbilly wizards, giant toilet robots, bearplanes, magic bacon, bearded babies…and we’re just getting started! There has never been a comic as delightfully insane as this and co-creator and artist Nil Vendrell nails everything we throw at him. Comedy’s hard to pull off as we all know but Nil makes it look easy. In fact he’s pretty much great at everything...fight scenes, storytelling, acting, cartooning...he nails it all. And Mike Spicer’s gorgeous colors and Dave Lanphear’s brilliant lettering seal the deal for us. We have an incredible art team.
Vince Brusio: If you had the opportunity to go keyboard commando online to give your own take about this book, what would you pitch to readers to let them know that this is something they should pre-order at the comic shop?
Jody LeHeup: Sebastian and I have almost twenty years of professional comics experience between us, and this is absolutely without question the funniest, most joyful comic book we’ve ever worked on. It is mathematically impossible for readers to not fall in love with Shirtless Bear Fighter!
Sebastian Girner: SBF is literally the reason comics exist! It’s bonkers, it’s hilarious, it’s honest, it tells a simple story in a big way, and does it like only comics can. You’ll never know what to expect, but you’ll love every minute of it. If seeing the title the first time made you crack a smile or even give you pause a little bit...give #1 a shot. There’s primordial comics DNA in every panel of SBF! We Bear-an-tee it!
Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.