Spotlight

Weird in a Can – Teen Drama and Mad Science!

From central Kentucky in the US of A, The Amazing Chris Godbey is an anthropomorphic homo sapiens, retail worker, two-bit blockhead, and most importantly, amateur web-cartoonist. He is the creator of Weird in a Can.

Synopsis The year is 2004. George, Phil, and Liz are normal American teens at a completely ordinary school… for mad scientists. They have to navigate the typical trappings of every teen drama: peer pressure, homework, dating, killer lawn ornaments, mutants, alien invaders… the usual.

Is your comic available in any other languages? If so, what language(s)?
Just English, but part of me wants to translate it into something like Esperanto or Klingon, just because it’d be funny.

Did you go to school for either art or writing? If so, what school?
Took the required Art and English classes in high school, along with Creative Writing and Art II as electives; nothing beyond that. I’m pretty much self-taught, which… is probably obvious. (I’m getting better, though!)

What is the main genre of your comic? What appeals to you about that genre?
Comedy. Specifically, situational comedy (aka sitcom). It appeals to me because, well, doesn’t humor appeal to everyone?

Are there any other genres that apply to your comic?
I suppose sci-fi and urban fantasy. I kinda take elements from all sorts of speculative fiction if it’ll be funny. Sort of a “fantasy kitchen sink” approach.

What was your inspiration for the story?
Initially, as a teenager in the mid-2000s, I felt my two closest friends and I were interesting enough to carry a sitcom comic as main characters. While I eventually realized that it was pretty self-indulgent, I revisited the concept several years later, with main characters that were more fleshed out than “me, but better-looking” or “my best friend, but with green hair.”

Do you have any favorite artists or writers who influenced your style?
Artistically, Kazuhiko “Monkey Punch” Kato is a huge influence on my visual style, as is Yoichi Kotabe, whose artwork for the 80s and 90s Super Mario games I spent countless hours copying as a kid.

How long does it take you to complete one page?
Depends on how “in the zone” I am. I’ve been stuck on a single page for a week or so before, while one time, I managed to crank out about 5 pages in a single evening. Depends on my mood, motivation level, amount of free time, and the requirements of the page as well.
Maybe it’d be easier if I went to a certain auto parts store.

What is your process like for creating comic pages from start to finish? What tools do you use?
For each chapter, I begin with a 21-25 page script. Then, when it comes time to draw the chapter, I trace a cardboard stencil (or use a CD case; been using Van Halen’s debut album lately) for panel borders. Each panel takes up a single page in my 9×6 inch sketchbook. I like to work big.
Then, using a cheap mechanical pencil, I’ll draw the loose underlying sketch for the figure, backgrounds and props. Then I’ll ink it with an ultra fine point black pen, except for the backgrounds and small details, which I’ll draw with a colored ballpoint pen (it shows as grey when I scan it).
Next, I’ll erase the pencil sketch, and pick up the pencil again to do some small details, and the page is finished, save for being scanned into the PC, which is where I’ll correct any mistakes and add the lettering.

Is your comic a finished work? If not, how long do you think it’s going to be when it’s complete? Is there a definitive ending or will you just keep going for as long as possible?
Not quite finished yet. I’m shooting for 30 “main” chapters, with about that many one-page intermission strips in between, as well as the short holiday specials. The idea is for WiaC to cover November of 2004 to May of 2005: most of the main characters’ freshman year.
I have a pretty definitive ending in mind for Chapter 30, though I might leave it somewhat open in case I ever wanna revisit the characters, y’know?
That said, the Halloween special and various flash-forward gags take place after May of 2005, implying that the Weirdo Trio will be having further adventures.

How long did it take you to plan the comic before even beginning to physically create it?
WAY TOO LONG, MAN.

Like I said earlier, I came up with the idea as a teenager in late 2004, and I actually wrote and drew nearly 15 chapters throughout high school. It… wasn’t good. At all. But I did have some decent concepts and ideas.

A few years after graduation (from 2009-2011), I started redrawing the lamer-looking panels and uploading it to SmackJeeves but, I only got two chapters in before realizing that it wasn’t working.

I took a few years off from making comics, and I started writing and drawing a new, fresh take on Chapter 1 in 2015. Then, I decided to really take this seriously, and by the time summer of 2017 rolled around, I’d had the first two chapters finished and ready, with a third on the way, and that’s where Weird in a Can really began.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced during the course of making your comic? If you could go back in time to the point where you just started making it and give yourself a pep talk, what would you say?
Biggest hurdle? Finding the time and energy to actually MAKE the damn thing, honestly. I don’t think I’d actually try to give teen Chris any advice, because making the mistakes that I did back then has allowed me to become the artist and writer that I currently am, for better or worse.

What is your favorite part about working on your comic?
That moment of clarity when I realize how odd the scenario I’m drawing is. That moment when I realize that, in a way, my entire life has led up to me drawing a large mutant insect running away from a donut shop’s sign. This is awesome!

What is the most difficult part about working on your comic? How do you overcome it?
Like I said before, finding the time and energy to actually make the comic. I work retail, and somehow I’ve managed to gain a social life in recent years, so it’s often a little hard to find a block of time where I’m inspired to work on it.

I’m working on overcoming it by bringing my sketchbook with me to my job, drawing when on my breaks and lunch. I’ve also been known to bring it with me to D&D sessions. I like to think I’m good at multitasking. I’m probably not, but I like to THINK I am.

Do you have a favorite character to write for? If so, why? Tell us more about them!
I love all three of the Weirdo Trio but, I suppose if I HAD to pick one, it’d probably be George. He was originally based on me, and while he’s become his own person over the years, I still think there’s a lot of me in there, so I can draw upon my own personality for inspiration. Plus, his cowardice and bad luck are a lot of fun to come up with ideas for.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to write for?
Probably the villains overall. It’s hard to make each antagonist unique and not just a plot device to give my heroes something to do.

Do you have a favorite character to draw?
Phil. Compared to the more “normal” designs of Liz and even George, Phil’s got nice hair, a square jaw, and those huge goggles on his face. Plus, with his usually relaxed and chill personality, he’s often very calming to draw.

Which character gives you the most difficulty to draw?
One of the recurring side characters, Cassandra.
I’ve got a good idea what she’s supposed to look like, and I’m not sure if it’s because of her body type or fashion sense, but I have trouble making her consistent and identifiable from panel to panel.

Where can we find you?
You can find Weird in a Can at: http://weirdinacan.the-comic.org/
The comic’s Facebook page is at: https://www.facebook.com/WeirdInACan
I can be found at your local pizza place, most likely.
I can also be found on social media with my Twitter being https://twitter.com/DrFurball and my Instagram being https://www.instagram.com/drfurball/

Anything else you want the people to know about yourself or your comic?
I hope you folks really dig it. I have a lot of fun making it, and I hope some of that rubs off on the readers.