Zombies, motherhood and Tesla: Filmmaker Alexandre O. Philippe launches Fried Comics
Local filmmaker Alexandre O. Philippe has a passion for pop culture. His work has tackled pop cultural phenomena as big as Star Wars and as small as the strange case of the octopus that correctly predicted Germany's World Cup games a few years back. He's also hard at work on Doc of the Dead, an in-depth look at zombie culture. (Disclosure: I am slated to appear in Doc of the Dead in my capacity as a zombie expert; I receive no compensation for this beyond the joy of sharing my love of zombies.)
Clay Adams (left) and Alexandre O. Philippe want you to get Fried.
Now, in addition to his film work, Philippe has launched Fried Comics, a web-based comics imprint, with longtime friend and writer/actor Clay Adams. Fried's website just went live yesterday with the first pages of Pregnant Bitches of War, an alternate history that has Nikola Tesla mentoring a group of expectant mothers as they try to fix the horrible future that results when they accidentally kill a young Adolf Hitler, and Deadskins, a zombie apocalypse Western featuring a Harvard dandy and his blind, drunk sidekick. We caught up with Adams and Philippe in the middle of this maelstrom of work to learn about Fried, get a progress report on Doc of the Dead, and find out what it is about pop culture that gets Phillipe so excited.
Westword: Give us a quick overview of Fried Comics and what you hope to accomplish with it.
Clay Adams: Basically, Alex and I have been writing stories for years and realized they all had one thing in common, which is that the stories were just supremely messed up. We started to think about it in terms of food, and that it was like fried food. It was crispy, fatty, salty storytelling, and we're both huge lovers of comics. Alex, being a director, has a fantastic visual sense, and we decided with one series -- Pregnant Bitches of War -- to start that as a comic book as an offshoot of another script we had written. They both seemed to be so entwined, and Alex, liking to think in big terms, he suggested, "Why not release both as a comic at the same time?" and Fried Comics was born.
Why did you choose to launch it as a web/digital comic rather than a more traditional print medium?
Alexandre Philippe: We're starting it as a webcomic, but the actual, collected hardcovers will eventually come out. We felt it was right to start as a webcomic. First, you have to build a fanbase. You have to get the trust and the love from people, so we're releasing a bunch of free content Just now, at launch, we already have nine pages up of Pregnant Bitches of War, nine pages of Deadskins, plus a bunch of bonus features. So each page comes with its own set of bonus features. There's going to be free new content every weekday. People can go to the website every day for something new.
Adams: We obviously love the print medium. I think if you go to either of our houses, you'll see tons and tons of books. We're not interested in killing print, or anything like that, it's just that we're both very interested in the "freemium" model a lot of new media sites are doing now, which is to offer some stuff for free and then a paid option for getting something more in your hands, which is the digital download. If you want to buy the collected edition down the line, of course we're going to offer the book you can put on your bookshelf and it'll look fantastic. Initially, we just really love the immediate reach of the Internet, and how, being a start-up, we can reach so many more people via the web. It just seems like where the medium is headed and we wanted to be pioneers rather than followers.
Pregnant Bitches of War's Big Bad
So, if I understand correctly, Pregnant Bitches of War is a science-fiction alternate history story about mothers-to-be who work with Nikola Tesla to fix a horrible future they accidentally caused, and Deadskins is a zombie apocalypse Western?
Adams: That is correct. PBoW grew out of Deadskins, which was written first. So you may see a few parallels between them, and we've built in a fun way for the parallels to happen in story. The stories will intertwine. We're not going to be like DC and Marvel, where we do crossovers with everything and you have to buy everything; you can read each series separately if you want to, but if you're a fan of both series, there are some Easter eggs in both for you. You'll see how those series crossover and interrelate.
Philippe: There is, in essence, a "Friedverse," or Fried universe. The series will definitely have some intersecting points.
Who are some of the artists you're working with?
Philippe: Well, we have a whole slew of them. You can go to the website and check out the Fried staff. It's pretty extensive. Our main artist for Deadskins is Leila Del Duca. She's based in Montana. Our main artist for Pregnant Bitches of War is DJ Parnell. She's in San Diego.
I know you literally launched the site this morning, so it's too early to have any idea of what people think, but when you announced Fried Comics at Denver Comic Con, what was the reception like?
Adams: The reception was very positive, actually. We obviously hoped for the best, but we had a very responsive crowd. They laughed in all the right places, they asked a lot of questions -- good questions, interested questions -- which we weren't anticipating. And we actually had 100 percent sign-up rate for our sign-up list after the panel.
Is there anything else about Fried Comics you want to mention?
Philippe: I think the one thing to mention is that the website is really chock full of Easter eggs and fun surprises. You can really spend a lot of time there. Frieda is obviously a huge character on our website, our curmudgeon waitress. She's very interactive on the website. You can spend a good amount of time meeting our cast. Really spend some time looking for Easter eggs; they're everywhere.
Meet Frieda, Fried's mascot
Adams: I think the only other thing to mention is just to reiterate that we're releasing just a ton of content for free. We'll be releasing a page a week of each series, as well as bonus content related to each page. Every day of the week we'll have new content up. If you want to read it for free, you can read it for free. Our ultimate goal is to have all of our comics up on the web, hosted on our site for free. But if you want to get the story a little bit faster, you can buy those digital downloads. It's only 99 cents. We're not trying to get rich, we just want to keep bringing people these fantastically nutty stories we've got going on.