It's probably safe to assume that at some point in a gay man's life, he's wished to have a gorgeous, muscular stud help him navigate the not-always-kind world of dating and sex. But what if that dreamboat was also more than a little flakey and sometimes more interested in his own love life than the person's he was supposed to help? Since 2005, C. Edwards has been writing drawing that exact dynamic duo in his strip 'Abel Boddy.' His naughty '12" Roommate' has also detailed in quite explicit terms an unusual urban living situation. I was abel to chat with C. Edwards and discussed the beginnings of Abel Boddy as well as other tidbits.
PY: Could you talk a little bit about your background and what inspired you to start drawing and writing in general?
CE: I have always drawn and I started reading comic books at a really early age. I used to spend all of my time making up my own superheroes, but never drawing any actual comic pages; I would just draw a crude pin-up and write up profiles for them like the DC "Who’s Who" and "Marvel Universe" books. I started with George Perez and "The New Teen Titans" but eventually fell in love with Alan Davis and "Excalibur." The only thing that could compete with Dick Grayson’s ass was Brian Braddock in those green sweatpants.
My interests switched to animation in High School, and that was back when everything was done by hand, and you had to really dig to find any resources on the subject. So, I spent a few years teaching myself animation, which led someone offering me an internship in Atlanta, which led to spending the next few years animating commercials for Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. I had always wanted to make my own animated cartoon, but it’s such an involved process. I felt like a regular comic strip was a far more attainable goal, but didn’t really know exactly where I wanted it to go, so I just kept working on it when I could and just waited to see where it would take me, and what came out of that was "Abel Boddy."
PY: I think it's great that you include sketches and other works-in-progress on your sites. In addition to the art, what is your process for your strips in general?
CE: I’m always trying to find something new in the way that I draw, so I sketch a lot from life and from photographs and I started posting sketches and WIPs as way to keep myself accountable when I wasn’t being very productive in creating actual comic strips. I set a lot of guidelines for myself and definitely make things more difficult than they have to be, but I always remind myself that the ultimate goal is to draw a lot. So, the rules can be really helpful.
Generally, I collect a lot of little things and try to figure out how they can fit together to make something interesting. I’m sort of a reference hoarder, and I try to capture the good ideas I get from my reference and apply them directly to the work. I also embrace that post-modern, flat cartoon-style that I got so used to working for networks, but I try to find interesting new shapes and ways to make it my own. Also, I like to use the strips to help strengthen my creative weaknesses, like, I’ve never been very good at drawing backgrounds, so I try to work them in whenever possible.
PY: 'Abel Boddy' is delightfully slice-of-gay-life and I was giggling through all of the strips. I was pleasantly surprised to find that you've been working on the strip for about six years now. Do you have any secrets to its longevity?
CE: Really, it’s just showing up every day. I can say all I want about guidelines and drawing style and trying to stay relevant, but in the end I need to put a strip up on regular basis, and that need to stay on schedule overshadows everything else. Which can make for varying results, but if I’m not happy with the strip I just finished, there’s always another one coming up and I can try again. I remember when I hit strip #200, and I felt like I finally had a clue as to the direction I wanted to go, I’m on strip #470 now, and now I feel like I’m even closer to knowing what I want it to be about. I may never figure it out exactly, but what I do know is the more work and thought I put in, the happier I am with the result.
When I started out, I did not want to put out a strip every 2 weeks like my predecessors had to, because they were being alternated in weekly LGBT newspapers. I want to produce five strips a week like the mainstream dailies -- that’s the great thing about being online. But now I’ve settled for three because I just don’t have enough time in the week.
PY: The blog portion of your site features wonderful quips and observations from your personal life. How often (if at all) does 'real life' intersect with your character Howard's?
CE: All my characters are me, or are me as reflected through types of people that I know but beyond perhaps my character's reactions to things there is not much of an intersection. I make notes about all of things I see, hear or think about throughout my week and then I try to mash-up those ideas in odd ways. I try to live vicariously through my characters because the potential for their lives is much greater than my own.
PY: "12 Inch Roommate" is hot and erotic and funny. Where did the idea for that series come from?
CE: '12 Inch' [link NSFW] started as an animated cartoon set in an athletic school for boys; I had this whole lineup of characters and had written out a whole season of episode premises, but it just sat on a shelf with all of my other show ideas. So one day, I had this idea for an exercise re-working some of the stories into a comic format using three of the characters and I found that I had this odd little pornographic premise that quickly became a "Three’s Company" riff.
It started out as a fun way to work through some adolescent sexual fantasies, but I’ve been imbuing it with more and more story along the way – which can be hard since I don’t usually write the actual dialogue until I’m done drawing the strips. I refer to it as a "mini-webcomic," because I’ve always known it would have a limited run, so I’ve planned it out until strip #400, which will probably run sometime next year.
PY: What other comics are you reading and/or who are some artists that you’re following?
CE: Comic strip-wise, I always keep up with "Hitched," "Capitol Hillbillies," "Ross Boston," and [NSFW] "Oglaf." Jamie Hewlett, Maurice Vellekoop, [NSFW] Belasco, Dupuy & Berberian, Ben Caldwell and Jose Luis Agreda all have really inspiring points of view so I can never get enough of them.
PY: What else do you have in the works?
CE: I feel like everyone has a superhero story in them, so I’m working on getting mine out there. I’m currently writing the script and I think I’ve got it broken down to a 130-page comic book story. I have never written anything this dense before, so it’s an interesting experience. My plan is to start the artwork in September but I’m not going to start releasing the pages for about a year. I’m also working on book collections for “Abel Boddy," I’m funding it through Indiegogo and encourage everyone to donate!