We’ve talked to Jim Tramontana before. It was a while back, when we bumped into him at Gem City Comic Con. Back then, he was promoting his comic book Vikings vs Unicorns #1, a gorgeous and disturbing trip into a universe where the unicorns are the bad guys. Now he’s trying to get us to crowdfund his latest effort, the even more disturbing Martians vs Unicorns, a bit of backstory into the Unicorns universe.
Jim has other notable projects, too. His band, Red Hot Rebellion, successfully Kickstarted their graphic novel/cd combo, The Mission, a couple years back. He is also hard at work designing and playtesting the Vikings vs Unicorns deck-building card game.
I forced Jim to justify his Kickstarter by phone from his home in Dayton.
Why would you be so vainglorious as to expect anyone to part ways with their hard-earned money for a copy of Martians vs Unicorns?
Jim Tramontana: Well, I think anybody who’s into twisted humor, a twisted satirical take on cutesy cartoons and comic books, would be into this project, because it gives you something you’re familiar with, with a little extra, unexpected twist. I think both the hardcore My Little Pony fans and also the people who are into stuff like Adult Swim and Rick and Morty, and some of the crazier web cartoons like Happy Tree Friends, are all kinda places that I drew from for information for the story. I think the artwork’s really great. It’s kinda a neat, cartoony style, but has a lot of unexpected blood and guts thrown into it just for added sparkle. The story’s fun. It’s one self-contained story, so it’s not like I’m starting a series that may never finish. You’re getting an original comic book from local creators here in the great state of Ohio that you’re going to be able to read and cherish as a unique collector’s item for years to come.
Why should we back Martians vs Unicorns while we’re still waiting for Vikings vs Unicorns #2?
JT: Well, that’s an interesting story! That’s an interesting question, because… Wouldn’t you like to know what happened before the unicorns came to earth? I think you might because the unicorns are out to scavenge the universe for gold and other precious shiny things. So this is kind of a prequel that’s gonna serve as the kinda goofy reset to the entire Vikings vs Unicorns universe. The plan is after this one, we have a new mini-series that’ll start. It’s a continuation of first one, but it’s with different artists. I’m working with Studio Akumakaze with that, as well. It’s the same artist who did the artwork for the Red Hot Rebellion graphic novel. And we’ve kinda streamlined the story. It’s more gritty; it’s more personal. It’s a revenge story! It’s also a fight against evil, but it’s also a personal story. I kinda amped up the father trying to rescue his son from the clutches of evil. There’s some time travel in there. There’s a lot of zaniness. I’ve added some extra characters. I think the whole expanded universe is going to be much more elaborate and interesting once we finally get down that road. But this is the first step. This is kinda testing the waters, kinda taking a little left-turn into a different art style just to see if people like it. I like it, so I hope other people will, as well.
Same artist? Different artist?
JT: For Vikings vs Unicorns, it’s a different artist. Some of the members of the same studio will be doing the inks. Right now on Martians vs Unicorns, all the art is by Alex Dealey. And some additional shading is by Melanie Collins. For Vikings vs Unicorns, Chris Martin is the main penciler, Melanie Collins is the inker and also the colorist. Working with an in-town studio is a little more beneficial. The original Vikings vs Unicorns came out good, but the artist lived in Columbus, and he might as well have been in New York City, ya know? It was like, we’d interact over the internet and on our phones, and it kinda got away, even though it was a great comic. I kinda wanted to re-do it with a more vibrant art style, and also have it here in town.
Well, talk about a pain in the ass.
JT: Yes, exactly.
Defend your use of the My Little Pony style of unicorns.
JT: Alright. [laughs] I defend it as this: I’m actually a closet brony, and I think a lot of people are. I’m not like hardcore or anything, but I do enjoy that ultra cartoon-y, real cutesy art. I love when you take something that is real cute and cuddley and give it a little twist, like a little demented twist. Some of my favorite cartoons growing up we those old Tom and Jerry‘s and also when Ren & Stimpy came around in the ’90s it kinda turned a normal… it was like a take on a Saturday morning cartoon, but it was really strange and bizarre. There’s a secret underground society that I’ve just been exposed to, that I don’t really wanna get into too much detail because it’s really whacky and weird, but there are some really sick mofos out there who are into some strange Pony art.
JT: So, I’m trying to appeal to them a little bit. I didn’t write this for them. This is the kind of comic book I would like to see. Something that on one hand, you’re like “Oh, this is cute,” and then when you start flipping through it, you’re seeing like a baby unicorn bursting out of the gut of a mutant rabbit, with blood flying all over her face, and she’s laughing and giggling about how gross his guts were and how awesome it was to tear him apart. In that same little area of the story, one of the other unicorns is licking the blood of the slaughtered rabbits off of her hooves and remarking about how tasty it is, while her friend is talking about how cool it is to party and do lines of pixie dust. It’s real demented and weird, but both kind of taking a cutesy stab at the bronies, and also laughing with them. Especially the weirder ones who are into the weirder, kinda more adult side of that whole weird sub-group.
Sure. So how’s it feel to be the only comic book creator in Dayton, Ohio who has a current Kickstarter campaign at this very moment?
JT: It feels lonely and it also feels awesome. There are a lot of great creators in the area, but I think right now, because there’s no comic book convention that I know of going on in the Dayton area, if you’re looking for something that is locally creator-owned and creator-made, this is the only game in town. It’s only on Kickstarter until the end of November, so I’m hoping that people who are into unique comic books, and especially Dayton-made stuff, that they’ll jump right on this. We actually talked Thom Zahler, who is a writer and an artist on IDW’s My Little Pony series. He’s doing an alternate cover for us. So we’ll have some brony clout.