Gordon McAlpin Interview
Written By Optimist Alex and posted on: 10-10-08
Gordon McAlpin is the artist/writer of webcomics Stripped Books and Multiplex. Stripped books was a series of non-fiction strips that ran from 2004 to 2006. Multiplex, his current comic, started in July 2005 and has been going strong ever since. I recently had the chance to sit down and chat with him about his comic. And by sit down and chat, I mean email him a bunch of questions in the hope that he would answer them.
First off, how are you doing?
You have stated previously you envisioned Multiplex as an animated series, were there any cartoons that inspired you growing up?
Oh, definitely. I would watch just about any animated show or movie that hit cable. While I'm not sure how much it influenced me, one movie definitely opened up my eyes to the idea that animation could be something more than crazy Saturday morning antics or Disney. One summer afternoon, I saw "Warriors of the Wind" on HBO, and it just blew me away.
I didn't know it at the time, but "Warriors of the Wind" was a heavily re-edited and re-dubbed bastardization of Hayao Miyazaki's "Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind."
Follow up question after deciding the cartoon was a no go, how did you decide to continue on as a webcomic and not kill the project entirely?
I basically had killed it entirely, but when I decided to move my first webcomic (Stripped Books) from Bookslut.com over to its own website, I wanted to do a weekly comic that I could update pretty quickly. Drawing it digitally seemed like a good way to speed up the drawing process at the time, but also because Flash is also vector-based - so whenever I finally got around to learning Flash, I would have a library of vector characters and backgrounds that I could use to turn Multiplex into an animated short.
After I started doing more and more detailed backgrounds, I realized drawing the strip digitally is really not any faster (especially if I need to draw new characters or camera angles), but it's also part of the Multiplex aesthetic. I like to change up my drawing style to suit a story, and I think the vector drawing style and rigid panel layouts lend well to a comic strip that is supposed to be more evocative of film than of comics.
You do The Triple Feature podcast with other movie webcomic alums, how did that come about and do you regularly keep in touch with any other webcomicers?
Tom, Joe, and I were already pretty good friends just because of our strips. I think Joe first wrote me, and I knew he and Tom were friends, so I wrote him, and we all just pretty much exchanged e-mails a lot. Eventually, I joined Boxcar Comics (although I've since left), and so we talk a lot.
When Tom started up a Theater Hopper podcast, Joe called in one night, then the next time, I called in, as well, and we just had a blast doing it, so we decided to make it a regular thing.
As for other webcomickers, I'm good friends with Shayna Marchese, who does Voids. I also talk to a few via Twitter or Facebook now and then, but those are more e-quaintances than anything, I suppose.
With a webcomic you pretty much guaranteed a convention visit. Do you enjoy conventions or loathe them?
Until I have a book to sell, I don't really see any reason to go to a convention, but I don't mind them. I don't like being cooped up behind a table all day, but I do like meeting my readers, drawing sketches, and, almost as importantly, meeting other cartoonists and sharing drinks wit them.
Is there any end to multiplex in site?
In sight? Not really. There is an ending, but it's many years away, assuming everything goes according to plan.
Astute readers will note that the series takes place in real time, so as the cast ages, some of them leave for "real jobs," and the others get promoted and, hopefully, mature a little bit, the strip will broaden its scope a lot.
You have a few Christian characters in your comic. Has religion ever played a part in your life positively or negatively?
I was raised as a Christian. I went to a Methodist church, took part in a youth group, sang in the choir, went to Sunday school, all that. Even then, though, I thought the fundamentalists were batshit crazy - and yet, mainstream Christianity in America has become more and more fundamentalist over the past two decades.
These days, I opt not to label what I am, from a religious or spiritual standpoint.
Pranks seem to be a running joke in your comic. Are pranks a big part of your life, work or elsewhere? If so do you have a favorite?
I'm really not much of a practical joker, no. My own sense of humor in day-to-day life consists of dropping dry, sarcastic quips constantly, or just talking absolute nonsense (basically, lying obviously).
In the strip, the practical jokes are mostly a way to get the staff into costumes and playing pretend, so I can make fun of bad horror movie clichês or have them mess with little kids, or something. This year, I did a lot more pranks than usual, all building up to the strip where the theater was robbed and Kurt laughed it off, thinking it was a joke.
Any other projects on the horizon?
Nothing I ought to be talking about too much, because I start a lot of projects and eventually get sidetracked.
I haven't been working on the Multiplex print collection as much as I would like. I'm co-writing a screenplay with a friend of mine. Other than that, just Multiplex.
How big is your dvd collection?
I have maybe... 80 movies? I don't really know. I don't buy movies on DVD constantly, because unless I absolutely love something and I know I'll want to watch it again five or ten years from now, or I'm afraid it might go out of print soon, I'm perfectly happy with my Netflix subscription.
I have a bunch of short films and a few seasons of TV shows like The Office, Mad Men, and the Wire from iTunes, as well.
How do you feel about the "movie" movies that seem to never end?
Ambivalent? I've never seen any of them, and the trailers or clips I have seen online haven't convinced me I'm missing anything.
Are there really movies that are so bad that they are good or do people just say that when they like bad movies?
If they like the movie, then they can't really think it's outright "bad," can they? Surely, they were entertained by it, at least.
I think there are two different measures of movies: technically well-made movies, and entertaining movies. Movies can be technically well-made, but not entertaining. Movies can be entertaining, but not technically well-made.
Me, I don't go for the "so bad it's good" thing, generally. If something is intentionally bad, like "Cannibal: The Musical," for instance, then it's not really that the movie is bad, but that they're making fun of bad movies. Unintentionally bad movies are just painful to me. I think they're a waste of time. There are hundreds, probably even thousands of intentionally great movies that I haven't seen yet. I would rather be watching one of those instead.
Last question anything at all you want to recommend that people should see, webcomic, graphic novel, cd?
Read "Epileptic" by David B.
Multiplex can be found at: MultiplexComic.com
Stripped books can be found at: StrippedBooks.com
The Triple Feature podcast is on live every Monday and can be found at: TalkShoe.com