Did you ever have an story idea that you couldn’t get out of your head? A story that you built on, revised, and crafted over time. You even envisioned what the characters looked like and how they sounded. All you needed is a way to bring that vision to life. That is what writers Joe Aubrey and Eric Peterson had with Space Bastards. A whimsical tale of intergalactic postmen and their obsessive desire to deliver their packages. Even if it meant killing or maiming a few of their competitors along the way.
Sounds like fun doesn’t it? We’ll all find out as Humanoid’s Space Bastards Issue One hits the market on Wednesday January 13th. So with that in mind, GVN Talking Comics is pleased to welcome Space Bastards writer and co-creator Joe Aubrey.
GVN: Thanks for giving us a few moments of your time, Joe. Let’s start where most great stories do, at the beginning. When did you take an interest in writing and whose work did you enjoy and inspired you and were comics in that mix?
JA: I work in the medical field, so I was always busy. I never had time for anything creative. I never had an interest in writing. But I eventually became interested when Eric and I, during a conversation, figured out the death race/winner-take-all mechanic for how the Intergalactic Postal Service would operate. When we had that figured out, the process of writing Space Bastards became, for me, a machine that eats pain and shits joy.
I read a lot of comics (most of them recommended by Eric) back then to get up to speed. I particularly enjoyed Garth Ennis’ entire Punisher run and found that to be the most inspiring. Kirkman’s Destroyer Max was also quite memorable with its surprisingly fleshed out characters and over the top violence (rendered by Cory Walker). I grew up with Star Wars and am a fan of Tarantino films. So you swirl all that together and you get Space Bastards (50% of it anyway).
GVN: I certainly see the Tarantino influence. Especially with the at times over the top violence. So when did you first meet Eric and what made you decide to collaborate on Space Bastards?
JA: I met him in 2003 or 2004, I think. I’d hang out with Eric on weekends while he was making really low budget short films. I was sort of the prop guy or the guy who’d dress up in a leotard if the need arose. Eric would frequently come back to this Davey Proton/Intergalactic Postal Service idea that he’d had for a long time. As I said, once we cracked the rules for how the postal service would work, we got excited and decided to collaborate and run with it. What we’d actually done was invent Uber, but instead of founding Uber, we spent the next 8 years or so trying to make a comic book.
GVN: (Laugh) So the Uber folks should be thankful you chose to concentrate on your comic or they might be out of business. The concept of the story is quite unusual. Was the shipping game always the center point of the story or were there other possibilities you considered?
JA: The story was always about a guy working for the Intergalactic Postal Service delivering packages in a hostile universe. The core idea was solidified when we figured out the “three rules” of the service. That is really the engine that makes Space Bastards work.
1. Whoever delivers the package gets paid.
2. A postal worker may kill or incapacitate any other postal worker to steal a package and deliver it themself.
3. The more times a parcel changes hands, the higher the payout for completing that delivery.
GVN: Sounds like a sound business model. Talk about killing the competition…But I digress. You have worked with a great set of artists on this project, including Darick Robertson, Simon Bisley and Clint Langley. Did you have a particular artist in mind at the beginning and has your collaboration with these talented creators changed the direction of your stories at all?
JA: Darick was always our top choice as far as establishing the visual identity of Space Bastards. His style with violence and characterization is perfect for our world and still represents the artistic baseline for the entire universe. Additionally, collaborating with Darick changed everything right at the beginning because he was interested enough in the project to become a co-creator and help us actually refine the story and character dynamics.
When we brought in other artists, we’d write the scripts specifically for them, playing to their strengths and interests. So when Simon and Clint come in, we read/re-read a lot of their other work and we figure out what they would do best and have the most fun with.
Simon surprises me every time. He’ll latch onto a character and put himself into the work like he’s playing that character in a movie. It’s hard to describe. We’ll get pages from him and it’s clear that he spent several hours drawing the wallpaper in one panel. Also, I think he may now hold the world record for the most sheep and naked men drawn in a single comic series.
Clint Langley lives on a different planet, and that planet is in the Space Bastards universe. His artwork is beautiful – a terrifying wet nightmare of Gigeresque realism and something familiar, yet indescribable. Clint changed the way I view the entire project. I love his work.
GVN: You have now partnered with Humanoids to publish your book. How have you enjoyed the partnership and what have you learned in the process?
JA: Eric and I worked alone for so long. We wrote, edited, hired/managed letterers and colorists, worked with printers, networked, marketed, etc. all by ourselves. He and I were solid, but it was really difficult and isolating. So I have enjoyed the partnership with Humanoids immensely. Humanoids has a really dedicated team, and most importantly, they understand our book and characters. They’ve taken a tremendous weight off us. It’s hard to get a clear view of the business side of comics without having a publisher involved.
All that being said, we haven’t completely stepped away from our independent roots. On January 18, we are running a second Kickstarter campaign where die-hard fans can purchase Space Bastards Volume 2.
Like Volume 1 that we sold via Kickstarter in 2019, this will be a limited edition, oversized hardcover collection of Space Bastards stories presented in an exclusive reading order. Volume 2 is stuffed with two more installments (50 pages total) of the “Tooth and Mail” story arc drawn by Darick, a heist featuring the origin of “Resurrection” Mary drawn by Colin MacNeil, and a gritty tale of retirement cut short rendered by Clint Langley.
We plan to continue the Kickstarter campaigns so that we can pay the artists/colorists/letterers in advance and offer our fans exclusive oversized prints and other goodies not available through traditional retail channels. Kickstarter is the best way we’ve found to keep the comic alive and our artists busy in a post-pandemic world.
GVN: Thank you so much for your time, Joe. I leave you with one last hypothetical question. I had asked Eric if a future video game adaptation would be something he could embrace. For you, because of the books increasing popularity, they are inquiring about a film or television adaptation. If that were to happen, who could you see or hear doing the character of Manny?
JA: Vincent D’Onofrio. Put him in a Mocap suit like they did with Josh Brolin and just turn him loose. He’d be fucking amazing.
GVN: Thanks again, Joe and we will be following Space Bastards with great interest.
JA: Thank you!
Humanoids Space Bastards starts the beginning of a monthly 7 issue run on January 13th. It can be found where great comics are sold. Also be on the lookout for their new Kickstarter on January 18th for more Space Bastard goodness. You should also stay tuned for our conversation with the other half of Space Bastards writing duo, Eric Peterson. Coming soon to Geek Vibes Nation.
Senior Writer at GeekVibesNation – I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 17 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.