Mike Kunkel surprised many fans when he returned to comics with his beloved all-ages comic "Herobear and the Kid" at BOOM! Studios. Since then, he's been putting out a mix of old and new stories for longtime and novice fans alike. In addition to "Herobear and the Kid: Inheritance," a reprint of the original origin story from 2000, Kunkel has crafted new stories like a Free Comic Book Day offering, "Herobear and the Kid Special" #1 and this week's "Herobear and the Kid Annual 2013."
Originally planned for release in October, when a Halloween-themed issue would have made been more timely, the Annual was delayed a few weeks thanks to a snag in the printing. Not wanting to double up pages, everyone involved took the extra time to make sure the final product gave readers a full story, even if that meant it would be a little late.
To get the inside story on what happened with the delay and also talk about all things Halloween, all-ages comics and the return of Herobear, CBR News talked with Kunkel about the annual and other upcoming projects.
CBR News: Right off the bat, let's talk about the delayed Annual. What happened to make your Halloween issue come out in November?
Mike Kunkel: Ahhh, well, the darn l'il printer gremlins decided to play havoc with this issue. Unfortunately, when we got advance copies, page 5 was duplicated on page 7. Now, I really like page 5 and all, but not that much that it needed to be there twice. So now it's all fixed, and I figure it's an extra-belated treat for all the good little trick-or-treaters. Plus, it comes out the same week as "Herobear: Inheritance" #4. So, two "Herobear and the Kid" books in one week!
What can you tells us about the issue and how Halloween plays into it?
The very basic sincere description is that this is my "love letter" to Charles Schulz. I really wanted to create a "Great Pumpkin" type story. I love the fun and playful side of Halloween: costumes, candy, excitement of the unknown. This is a story of Herobear and Tyler getting a chance to enjoy one of those definite fun childhood times, Halloween night. Add into it that there is a mystery they have to solve and it makes for one of my most favorite "Herobear and the Kid" stories.
Halloween is kind of like college in that the general idea is the same for everyone, but the specifics differ from place to place. What was your childhood Halloween experience like and what elements from that made it into the story?
I agree. It's got a definite common ground for everyone. But even if the specifics are different, the feeling and overall tone is often similar. It's a night of being creative and having adventures.
For this story, I really wanted to weave in my childhood Halloween experiences: the streets filled with kids running around, the house that leaves the bowl and a note saying "please take one," the urban legends of something spooky out there and the camaraderie amongst the costumed. Everyone is embracing the idea of dressing up and playing.
At least on the surface, it seems like being a kid is a lot different than it used to be. Do you think that's the case? If so, is it something you worry about while writing "Herobear and the Kid?"
No, not really at all. I believe that at the core of things, the toys may change but kids are still kids. They play, they get into trouble, they have adventures, and they have friends. I'm not worried about it with my stories, I actually truly try to write for ALL-ages. Don't write down to or for a certain group. The hope is that kids and kids-at-heart will find my stories and connect with them on their own level, and share with others. I've often explained it as creating "family events." Parents and kids, teachers and students, grandparents, grandkids, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, they all share the stories together and connect.
What was your convention season like? Do you get a mix of old and new fans coming up to you or discovering the book?
Whew! This has been my busiest year of conventions. I've traveled and visited a lot of them. I loved it! It's been awesome. Such a great mix of old and new readers. Original fans have been extremely supportive and excited for me to do "Herobear and the Kid" again. And the brand new fans have been tremendously welcoming. I'm very overwhelmed and honored by the truly positive response.
BOOM! has a great reputation for being a company that's excited about getting more all-ages comics on the market. Was that a large part of your decision to publish through them?
That was one of the biggest reasons for coming here to BOOM! I love their passion for all-ages books. It's not phony, it's not because they "have" to carry those books. It all comes from a genuine place of loving all-ages characters and stories. And that is what made I feel truly like the right place to re-launch my books.
What can "Herobear and the Kid" fans look forward to the rest of the year and on into the next?
Along with this brand new Annual, there are also two issue of the "Inheritance" miniseries arriving too. Then, for next year, there's a ton of new stuff coming. Stand-alone adventures along with another miniseries, and also some other new books too! I'm finalizing the schedule as we speak for next year, and I'm very, very excited to share all of this with everyone.
Mike Kunkel's "Herobear and the Kid Annual 2013" is on sale now along with "Inheritance" #3.