Cartoonist Troy Little attracted the attention of the comics industry in 2007 when IDW Publishing released a hardcover collection of his series "Chiaroscuro," for which he received a Xeric Grant. Though Little has two more volumes of the series planned, he put them on hold to work on "Angora Napkin" -- a graphic novel he also turned into an animated pilot for Canada’s Teletoon website.
Little is currently finishing up the second "Napkin" graphic novel from IDW and provided CBR with an exclusive preview of the book. It's due for a late 2012 release, but in the interim, he’s started a new weekly web project on www.angoranapkin.com, which launched on Canada Day and updates every Wednesday. Little spoke with CBR News about how "Napkin" has developed, the animated movie and where he plans to take the property moving forward.
CBR News: In short time, "Angora Napkin" has a book, an animated series, a web comic and now you're working on another book -- Does it feel like "Napkin" has taken over your creative life?
Troy Little: A little bit, but that's okay by me as it's self-imposed. I have a lot of fun writing and drawing these characters and there's no real boundaries holding me back with them. Frankly, it’s the most fun I've ever had in comics so the more "Angora Napkin" in my life the merrier!
Why do you think "Angora Napkin" has caught on?
"Napkin's" a weird fit to both its credit and detriment. It seems to have a cult appeal, probably because Nick Cross ("Napkin's" co-creator) and myself are fans of a lot of weird and obscure counter culture. I guess it fills a niche for people who are a bit jaded of the mainstream but not into something completely abstract. Like me!
It's a bit self-indulgent in that I'm an audience of one entertaining myself by making these ridiculous stories. The fact that other people pick up on and dig my sense of humor is kind of a surprise to me. The Eisner nomination totally took me from left field, so I guess I'm doing something right, or you're all a bunch of weirdos. I thoroughly endorse this weirdo uprising, by the way, and hope to be crowned King someday.
You made an animated pilot for "Angora Napkin," but it was never picked up to be a series. What happened?
That's a case of Teletoon -- Canada's "Cartoon Network" -- looking for edgy-new content for their late night slots, then getting cold feet and going with the same old tired crap they are so fond of producing. Our producer actually took the pilot to Cartoon Network in New York and they liked it, but this is where the weird fit comes into play: It's too adult for daytime and not raunchy enough for late night. They told us they were looking to fill a spot between "Adventure Time" and "The Regular Show" and we were all like, "WE CAN TOTALLY DO THAT!" but nothing further came of it. Such is the nature of TV animation.
Regardless, Nick and I are developing an independent "Napkin" feature film on our own because we are completely out of our minds. Any patrons out there who feel like funding something nutty like that, you know where to find us.
Do you guys have a story plotted for the movie?
I had the vague idea of "Angora Napkin" meets H.P. Lovecraft and the title: "The Lurking Moist." I pitched it to Nick and he was game in helping to develop the storyline. We've got a loose outline for the film now, and we'll probably noodle around with some concept art and maybe even start storyboarding bits of it as time permits. Time will tell what, if anything comes of it.
You launched the "Angora Napkin" web project on Canada Day (July 1st) and your first update was on the American Independence Day (July 4th). Will we have to wait until the next national holiday for more content?
Naw, new episodes come out every Hump Day (Wednesday) from now on. I just liked the idea of co-opting our National Holidays so I didn't have to plan a big event celebrating the launch of the web comic on my own. In my mind it was quite a party, and I want to thank all the organizers for their tireless work on my behalf -- you're the BEST! Due to it's outstanding success I hope to co-opt more holidays in the future.
For those of us residing in the rest of the world, what is Canada Day? I mean really, what are you guys celebrating?
Canada Day is the day we hockey pucks from up North emerge from our igloos and celebrate the crucifixion and resurrection of the Queen in a polite manner over beers. Once the sun sets we get wrecked on poutine and re-enact the 1814 Battle of Washington by burning all the white houses in the area and then apologizing for our behavior the next day. It's a proud tradition.
For people who log on to check out the web comic, but have read the book or seen the animated pilot, what's different this time around?
The web comic is a totally different beast. I wasn't sure if I could poke "Angora Napkin" comfortably into a gag strip, but after trying a few, I found it actually worked very well. I'm a big fan of Segar's "Popeye," which proved to me you could tell a long form story in funny and entertaining bite size gags. It's a film-noir adventure comedy serial, the likes of which I've never drawn before.
How long is the "Napkin" web project going to last?
I'm going to ballpark this and say until the final pixel on the Internet grows dim, or sooner. I've no real end date for the comic strip; I can imagine it going on for years and years like an old adventure serial.
One thing I’m trying to remember is that I've got time to play. The storyteller in me wants to move the plot forward quickly, but the nature of the strip forces me to slow down and savor the moments that make up the whole project. It's an interesting exercise.
This is technically the third "Angora Napkin" story, taking place after the book coming out this winter. Are readers going to be confused not having the as yet unreleased second book?
Each and every "Napkin" incarnation to date has been self-contained, so the chronology of releases is moot. I don't really fix the characters in a time or place; any continuity you may perceive is happenstance and you may require medical attention.
Tell us about the new "Angora Napkin" book from IDW.
"Harvest of Revenge" is my love letter to geek culture. The girls of "Napkin" are abducted by the uber nerd known as "Mr. Otaku," and are made into pawns in his master plan of revenge. It's a pretty over the top pop culture orgy and it's all in full colour -- a first for me!
You have a print on your website featuring the characters from "Angora Napkin" and a famous face from anime. Is there a story behind the print?
"Napkin" vs Totoro! I’m a huge Miyazaki fan and love "My Neighbor Totoro." I always thought the Totoro’s roar was great and I wanted an excuse to do some "fan art" so I paired them up with the girls screaming at something off screen. Maybe it's you the viewer or LOOK OUT THERE’S SOMETHING BEHIND YOU!
It was also an experiment in selling out. I've done a few conventions where I sell a few books while the guy next to me makes a mint selling his Marvel & DC fan art prints. The experiment failed because the last convention I went to I sold only a few prints and almost all my books! Now I don’t know what to think.
Many fans first discovered your work with the book "Chiaroscuro." Are you going to return to it down the line?
"Chiaroscuro" -- my "Big Numbers" it’s starting to seem! I did start drawing a few pages for Book 2 some time ago, but something wasn't clicking with me. I agonized over this for a long time and decided to come back to it if and when I'm ready. Right now I'm having a hoot with "Napkin" and I'm working on writing a new major graphic novel called "The Allusion of Life," which I'm totally stoked about and will probably take me years to complete. Which unfortunately leaves poor Steven Patch passed out on the floor of his insect ridden apartment for the foreseeable future.
At this point, what can you tell us about "Allusion of Life?"
It's an idea I've had for a long time and I'm really excited and horrified of it. Excited in that I think it's the best thing I've written, and horrified because it's going to be a giant monster of a book to draw.
"The Allusion of Life" (a play on "The Illusion of Life" by Disney animators Frank & Ollie) is the story of an antiquated animator by the name of Don Oswald. A tragic figure in the autumn of his days, whose life flashes before his eyes with every click of the gun pressed to his head. The story winds through a lot of historical events that have required a lot of research. I hope I'm able to adequately pull it off!
To close, the last round of Xeric Foundation winners, a grant program which allows cartoonists to self-publish, were announced a short time ago and as a past recipient, do you have any thoughts you want to share about what the Xeric meant to you and what it means that it's ending.
The Xeric was really important to me. It gave me the means to print seven issues of my first comic series -- helped me get distribution through Diamond and a sense of legitimacy as a comic creator. I'm very proud to have been a recipient of the grant and the news of it's ending is a blow to the indie community. The Xeric was the first step for a lot of comic creators, but thankfully we all have the Internet now and the classic mode of distribution is shifting.