Last week, Monkeybrain Comics launched a new .99 cents all ages comic book titled Captain Ultimate. Its first issue was a crazy, hilarious, heartfelt ride that received “Read” in our review. This week, writers Joey Esposito, Benjamin Bailey and artist Boykoesh took a few moments to talk about their inspiration and plans for the series.
Give us a little background information everyone. What do you do in your civilian lives and how did you all come together to create Captain Ultimate?
Joey: I’m a Senior Editor for a website as a day job and I hired Ben as a freelancer. Eventually we found out that we had more in common than me paying him and that spawned a friendship and creativity. Boy we met through the podcast we do at work, and he also drew one of the stories for an anthology I’m helping to put together, so we knew he was legit.
Ben: I’m legit, too. Too legit to quit.
Boy: I work at an advertising agency in the Netherlands but have always been making comics one way or another. My ‘big break’, if you could call it that, was the comic book Captain Roffa that I did for Dutch small press publisher Windmill Comics. This gave me the confidence to cross the borders of Holland and try to get some stuff out there to the States. It was an anthology story I did with my buddy Jeremy Thomas that caught Joey and Ben’s attention. I was already a big fan of both the podcast and Joey’s book Footprints (which makes a small cameo in Captain Ultimate #1) so I didn’t have to think long about joining this project.
What was the inspiration for Captain Ultimate? Did you set out to create an all-ages title or did the idea evolve into one?
Joey: I don’t recall if we were like, “We HAVE to do all-ages!” but I think by nature of the kind of story we wanted to tell it lends itself to an all-ages book. We wanted it to be fun and bright and optimistic, and I think that’s the sort of stuff that kids like, but also something that doesn’t really exist all that much in current superhero comics. Once we brought Boy on board, I think that really solidified it and brought us to where we are.
Boy: I like grim and gritty stories as much as the next guy. But in my own work I’ve always fought for making it all-ages appropriate. I have young nieces and nephews who I want to be able to share my stories with and give them heroes who they can look up to. So Captain Ultimate was right up my alley.
Ben: We really just wanted to make a comic we’d want to read. I have kids, so making something I could share with them was a big deal to me.
Did you initially envision Captain Ultimate as a digital only series? Did you try to pitch the story to other publishers before Monkeybrain?
Joey: We knew the plan was digital-first from the get-go, but it was either Monkeybrain or we do it ourselves. We love everything Monkeybrain has been doing, some of our favorite creators are doing books there, and the complete and utter freedom is something we value deeply. Luckily, they said yes and here we are!
Boy: I love Monkeybrain’s progressive approach and have been a fan of most of their books. I’m thrilled that they’ve given Captain Ultimate a chance and feel that our book has found a good home there.
How exactly did you collaborate on the story together? Were there any late night brawls over where the story would go?
Joey: No, actually. It’s been really, really awesome so far. We generally hop on Skype once a week or so to talk things out and break down issues. Then Ben and I will split up the pages, write them, and then reconnect and build the entire script and tweak it together. And then Boy makes everything way better.
Ben: Basically Joey and I just screw around on Skype for a couple of hours trying to make each other laugh and somehow a script comes out of that. He’s making it sound much more organized than it is.
Boy: It’s a great collaborative experience. I generally fall in love with every script they send me but if I think some scenes work better another way they are always open to suggestions. But my favorite part of every script is the action page that usually says “go nuts”. I find that this really pushes me to challenge myself. Also, I am having a blast designing these characters. The descriptions these guys send me always have me in stitches so I do my best to capture that magic as best as possible in the designs.
What are you hoping readers will take away from Captain Ultimate? What is your ultimate goal for this series?
Joey: My ultimate (heh) goal for the book is just to hook some kids on the sweet, sweet drug that is comics. I remember reading Superman stories as a kid and realizing that I was committed for life. I’m not saying we’ll ever be on par with an icon like that, but hopefully there’s a kid that finds Captain Ultimate and discovers a love of the medium. That’s all I’m looking for. That means a lot to me.
Boy: I sometimes teach art-workshops at several Middle Schools in my city and it’s staggering to find out how few of the kids actually read comic books. We usually end the class with giving away comics and you can tell how excited they get but for most of the kids it’s their first comic. The medium is still alive but we need to get more comics into children’s hands if we want to grow as an industry.
Ben: And, hopefully, if you are one of those grown-up types who reads comics, you’ll have some fun with this book. It’s meant to be ridiculous and over the top, so there is a truly all-ages quality about it. At least, we hope there is.
Will we be seeing more of the Super Revenging Society now that Captain Ultimate is back in town? Could Milo possibly be sitting in a side-kick role?
Joey: Both of those questions will be answered in issue #2! We loooooove the Super Revenging Society and whenever we talk we just keep coming up with more and more stories for them. We have big plans for those characters, so yes, you can expect more from them. Venus de Muscles in particular.
Ben: Venus de Muscles is my favorite character ever. Lots of her coming up.
Boy: I would certainly hope so. I love drawing those guys!
Are there any plans to bring Captain Ultimate to print in a collected edition?
Joey: Definite plans, but where, when, or how is still to be determined!
And lastly, anything else you’d like to add about Captain Ultimate!
Joey: Just that it’s only 99 cents! If you’ve had enough decapitations and entrails and moping in your superhero comics, Captain Ultimate is the solution! Plus, my favorite character debuts in issue #2.
Ben: Things get really crazy really fast, so we hope you guys stick around and check out the series as it progresses!
Wanna learn more about Captain Ultimate? Check out an exclusive preview of the first issue below and read the rest of series for yourself at ComiXology!