Rogues Portal had the opportunity to speak with writer W. Maxwell Prince and artist Martín Morazzo about their new upcoming series from Image Comics: Ice Cream Man. Check out the Q&A below!
- ROGUES PORTAL (RP):How do you pitch the series to potential readers?
Maxwell Prince (WMP): I’m very bad at distillation, but the gist: Sad, singular one-shot stories about struggling people—with a maybe-demon Ice Cream Man exerting a certain amount of influence on each one.
The first issue is about a boy raising himself (and the detective assigned to his case); the second is about two different kinds of drug addicts; the third is a musical fantasy.
The book hopefully offers something sweet for everyone—a veritable 31-flavors of storytelling.
- RP: Why did you decide to have each issue focus on different characters?
WMP: This is just a handy way for me to not get bored with my own writing. My dirty secret is that I struggle big-time with serial narrative. So the one-and-done format forces me to give life to an idea within a small space. This sort of challenge keeps my writing fresh, and doesn’t allow me to coast or lean on my yet-killed darlings.
- RP: Can we expect to see more issues that center around children since it is an ice cream man?
WMP: The narratives are age-agnostic: they’ll feature children, the elderly, people in their 30’s, teenagers, the yet-to-be-born and the long-since-deceased.
- RP: To me, ice cream trucks are always slightly unnerving. I don’t know if it’s the creepy music or the sketchy vehicles, but it’s interesting how something so seemingly innocent can be so horrifying. Where did the idea for Ice Cream Man originate?
WMP: I have a hunch, after talking to a lot of people about this, that it’s actually our adult brains attributing a certain amount of retrospective sinister-ness to ice cream trucks. I feel the same way as you now, but I can remember as a child just going batty the second I heard that jingle coming from down the block. To me, the interesting question is: why do we do this? The stuff that used to offer reprieve and joy and reward in childhood starts to get recast under a darker lens as we age. Even ice cream itself—the ultimate you’ve-been-good dessert—takes on a different weight in adulthood; I can’t eat two scoops of chocolate now without feeling sort of bad about myself, regretting the indulgence.
The book derives from this very dilemma, I think: I wanted a way to show that horror and wonder tend to co-present in life, often within the same entity. Things just start to shift depending on what angle you’re looking from.
For some reason, this idea started to coalesce around a magical Ice Cream Man. Beats me!
- RP: I like how the bugs are literal and metaphorical in Ice Cream Man, and it’s impressive how the existentialism seeps into the series without being too overwhelming. Is it difficult to balance narrative and philosophy?
WMP: It’s difficult for me to balance everything and philosophy. It’s so much easier to think/speak abstractly about big stuff than it is to deal with the concrete world right there in front of you. In ICM, I tried hard to strike a balance and make sure I wasn’t hitting the reader over the head with a kind of dread-heavy narration—but that stuff is important to the stories, so it comes in and out like a reminder. The reminder is: here are people in the concrete world with really complex interior lives. They’re all unhappy in some way, but sometimes for reasons they don’t understand.
- RP: The ice cream man’s face at the end—all neon eyes and nubby, sharp teeth—has lingered in my mind long after I finished the book. What inspired this character design?
Martín Morazzo (MM): The design for the Ice Cream Man was Will’s idea. He wanted a smiling handsome guy evoking the 50s—somehow similar to Marlon Brando or James Dean, but without the attitude. He will not always look that way though. We’ll learn throughout the story, that he will take many different forms and shapes. In that particular page you mention, he has some specific features related to what happens to him in that first issue. I hope this makes sense; I don’t want to spoil what happens!
- RP: What is your favorite flavor of non-deadly ice cream?
WMP: I live in Brooklyn where Mister Softee trucks are as abundant as cockroaches–my favorite Softee-confection is a soft-serve chocolate cone with chocolate sprinkles.
MM: I can probably say I’m a bit lame when ordering ice cream. I like fruit flavors mostly, so I think it’s always strawberry or mango or any other fruit and a cream. Never chocolate!
- RP: I really enjoyed your collaboration on The Electric Sublime. What is it like working together as a creative team?
WMP: Stoked you liked TES! Martín, from what I can tell, has the ability to enter my very brain and see exactly what I’m envisioning for certain scenes/panels. A pointillist monster? Boom. The way the inside of Picasso’s Guernica might look, if you could walk around in it? BOOM. He’s a consummate illustrator who imbues his panels with a bunch of humanity. He’s also one of the kindest people I’ve met. I hope I get to give him weird things to draw for a very, very long time to come.
We should mention, too, our colorist Chris O’Halloran. Chris takes Martín’s work and elevates it to a different place entirely. I’m more than lucky to have these two on my team.
MM: I really loved The Electric Sublime! I remember I was surprised by, not only how Will conceptualized the story, but how he had every piece in its place and moved them along, like following an unheard symphony. We worked greatly together from the first minute, so once we were confirmed TES wasn’t going to have another story arc, we both said, “What’s next?”
That led us to ICM! And it’s been tremendously gratifying. I love to tell stories with my drawings, so being able to tell a moment of the lives of all these different characters has been a blast. Each issue has its own narrative, and cast of characters, so it’s been very dynamic and I found out I love that! Every time we start a new issue it’s a whole new world!
- RP: Who are some of your favorite writers and artists (comic-book or otherwise)?
WMP: Golly, that’s a hard one. I’m a Denis Johnson devotee first and foremost. There’s George Saunders and Oliver Sacks and DeLillo and McCarthy and Barthelme and Robert Coover and on and on and on. Comics-wise, Gaiman’s Sandman is on a pretty high pedestal for me. And most of Morrison’s work. Quitely, Morazzo, Gerards, Frazer Irving (who did the B-Cover for Issue 1!). I could list 100, if you’d let me.
MM: I think Moebius and Otomo are the ones on the top of the list! The Edena Saga and Akira or Domu being my favorite stories they made. I enjoy every book that has Frank Quitely’s art on it, too!
- RP: For readers like myself, eager to see more of your work, can you tell us about any upcoming projects?
WMP: I’ve got other comics stuff brewing, but I’m a slow writer. In the meantime, I’m trying to mediate every day and teach my daughter to snap all of her fingers at once.
MM: I’m working on another project that’ll be published next summer and should be announced in the upcoming months, so I can’t really tell much about it yet! I’m developing others stories too, but they’re still in early stages of production.
As you can tell from this interview, Ice Cream Man #1 should definitely be on your pull list. We will publish an advanced review of issue #1 on Monday, January 8, and you can pick up a copy from your local comic shop on Wednesday, January 17.