With love in the air this Valentines Day, what better way to celebrate than with the aptly titled The Love Brothers from Aces Weekly, written and drawn by Marc Hempel. The Love Brothers is Marc’s first foray into the world of digital comics, having worked on books like Mars, Blood of the Innocent, Greogry and Tug and Buster in the past, but we think this brilliantly quirky new title could be a real stand out for Aces going forward. So here’s a quick introduction to the world of The Love Brothers and it’s creator…When did you first have the idea for The Love Brothers? I assume it wasn’t created specifically for Aces Weekly.
MH: April of 2011, I think. Appropriately enough, one morning I was about twenty seconds into a sitting meditation when an image popped into my brain; it was of an angry, ten-year-old boy yelling “We are all one, people! Get with the frigging program!!” I started laughing at the irony of it, and began writing stuff down. Like a lightning bolt, it all hit me at once; the concept, characters, and several strip ideas all came to me within an hour or so. Thus, The Love Brothers ruined my meditation that day, but it was worth it.
Do the characters come from personal experience or are they completely dredged up from your imagination?
MH: While Tyler and Skyler are made-up characters, they do indeed express aspects of my personality and my frustrations … specifically regarding achieving happiness and inner peace.
Do you think the Love Brothers fit into any creative lineage? In the tradition of…
MH: Gosh … I’ve been influenced by some classic comic strips – Peanuts, Pogo, Krazy Kat – and by animators like Chuck Jones … but I pretty much just do my own thing at this point, so I can’t say for sure. Someone said that Tyler and Skyler reminded them of Akbar and Jeff from Life in Hell, but I’m not seeing it … at least not in any significant way.
What’s your shoe size?
MH: U.S. size 8 … though I’ve nonetheless been able to lead a fairly normal life.
Do you come up with more characters and ideas than you ever get to use? If so, is this frustrating?
MH: It seems like it sometimes … but it all kinda depends on how many more years I have left on the physical plane. (For what it’s worth, I am in excellent health.) I’m actually on a creative roll right now, as I currently have two more humor series in development.
Primarily the Love Brothers are stand alone gag strips; is it difficult to switch from a 21 page comic story to this form?
MH: Like my earlier book Gregory, I feel best doing short pieces of varying length – from a single panel to perhaps a few pages. I felt obligated to do comic-length stories for Tug & Buster (well, it was a comic book) … but things didn’t seem to flow as well, and I ultimately burned out after eight issues. That said, a much longer Love Brothers story is in the works. It all depends on the idea.
What is your take on American society at the moment? Are the Love Brothers indicative of American youth through the ages or part of a whole new phenomenon?
MH: “Yes” to both questions.
What’s your favourite desert?
MH:Without doubt, the Painted Desert in Arizona … incredible colors! (Just in case that was a misspelling of “dessert,” my alternate answer is chocolate banana cream pie.)
Will Tyler and Skyler ever achieve unconditional joy, inner tranquility, and spiritual mastery?
At the rate they’re going, perhaps in several more lifetimes.
What, indeed, is the answer to everything? What is the meaning of life?
MH: Everyone is a stupid idiot except me.
What’s next on your drawing board after The Love Brothers?
MH: As I’ve been working nineteen-hour days trying to get caught up, probably my unconscious head! More seriously: a possible sequel to a classic collaboration, the aforementioned other two humor strips, and – as their road to enlightenment is, alas, going to be a long one – more Love Brothers!!!