Kickstarting comics can be a tough gig. There are a LOT of them, and it’s hard to get your work noticed in the wide world of Kickstarted comics. Yet Ryan Browne of God Hates Astronauts fame has managed to find success in crowd-funding his comics not once, not twice, but three times already. Most recently, he launched a Kickstarter last Monday for a 280-page, full color print version of his absolutely insane and lovable former webcomic Blast Furnace: Recreational Thief, a story in which he gives himself one hour to conceptualize, write and draw each page and no more. If that sounds crazy and likely to lead to a bizarre read that’s incongruous at times, it’s because it is. But it works. It works so well that it already has hit its goal and then some, so if you’re interested, supporting the book now means you’ll get the book, and maybe even some sweet perks if the stretch goals are met. That’s a win for everyone.
Browne’s a hilarious guy, though, so I wanted to talk to him about the Blast Furnace Kickstarter anyways. In a manner fitting the project and its creator, we went rapid fire on 20 questions in the interview, so not only are we going to talk Blast Furnace, we’re going to talk God Hates Astronauts, his cat Simon (the star of Browne’s Instagram), the Detroit Tigers, hot dogs, American Gladiators, and…well, a lot more American Gladiators. Specifically Laser. So much Laser you may not even be able to handle it. But by god, we did it. Read below for a look into the mind of Browne, and if this entertains you, back Blast Furnace. This is but a taste of what is awaiting you.
1. Blast Furnace? Recreational Thief? Color? I don’t understand these things. What’s the deal with this comic and this Kickstarter?
RB: Blast Furnace: Recreational Thief is about a recreational thief named Blast Furnace! It’s an improv comic with a special set of rules that I put in place for creating it. There is no script for Blast Furnace and no planning ahead. I have only one hour to write, pencil, ink and letter every one of the 262 story pages so the story goes off the rails pretty fast and often.
2. I already have this comic. I got it as a reward for the God Hates Astronauts Kickstarter. Why would I get this new version?
RB: The old version was 130 pages presented in hideous black and white. The new version contains the first 130 pages, plus 132 new pages, all presented in brand new, non-disgusting, color. It’s the ultimate presentation of recreational thievery!
3. I’ve never read a comic by this Rian Brown guy. I don’t know what it’s about besides thievery and key items in the smelting process. What other comics would you say it’s like, if any?
RB: Uh… I feel like if I say it’s like nothing else out there, it will sound pretentious. Instead, I will not say that at all. In fact, I would never say that and as far as I’m concerned this book is exactly like every other book you’ve ever read.
4. If Blast Furnace is a recreational thief, what does he do professionally?
RB: He sifts through loose soil. Professional sifting is no joke, so please don’t make fun of him.
5. In your promotional video on Kickstarter, that sure looks like superstar artist Mike Norton dressed as Blast Furnace. Was he the visual inspiration for the character originally or was Blast Furnace the visual inspiration for Mike Norton?
RB: Blast Furnace and Mike Norton can never exist at the same time. Where one ends, the other begins. He’s a Moebius Strip of a human.
6. Blast Furnace is totally improvised and you give yourself an hour a page. I love that. Was there ever a page where you were like “I’ve gone too far” and had to go back to the drawing board? Or is this completely raw and uncut?
RB: It’s as raw and uncut as a recently encased summer sausage. There are some REAAALLLY bad drawings in this book that I’m ashamed to show you–but thems da’ rules.
7. I tried cosplaying as Blast Furnace last year at a con but I ended up spending the day in the hospital because I lit my tie on fire. How does Blast Furnace manage to live his life with a permanently on fire tie?
RB: Thank you for trying to trick me into ruining the book for everyone. I truly appreciate it and think that you are an American hero.
8. If Blast Furnace was on American Gladiators, which event do you think he’d be the best at? My money’s on Assault.
RB: Not Assault! God! Did you even watch that show? Clearly he would’ve been best at the short lived event “Stealing the giant clothes out of Lasers dressing room while he’s in the shower.” 15 points every time.
9. If Blast Furnace could feel fear, what would he fear the most?
RB: Laser’s violent revenge plot against Blast Furnace for stealing his giant clothes and burning them in a drainage ditch.
10. We’re getting more Blast Furnace. Cold that mean in the future we could get more God Hates Astronauts?
RB: Sure! As long as Laser doesn’t subsequently track me down and pile drive me to death after he is finished murdering Blast Furnace for stealing his giant clothes and burning them in a drainage ditch.
11. I follow you on Instagram and I have to ask about your cat, Simon. While I absolutely agree #simonsthebest, what’s the secret behind his cat faces? There’s no way he just makes faces like that.
RB: I’m really happy you said the words “on Instagram” after you said “I follow you.” With the intensity that Laser has been following me (with intent to revenge pile drive me) I really can’t have yet another person to be terrified of.
12. You’re a commission machine, and you’ve done some really, really ridiculous ones from what I’ve seen. What commission request made you laugh the most?
RB: That time that I commissioned Turbo and Nitro from American Gladiators to “take care” of Laser before he tracks me down with his flesh arms. That made me laugh a lot… in an evil, “I just turned your friends against you” way.
13. If you could only go to one comic shop and one comic convention, and only those ones, which ones would you choose?
RB: Look, I’m sorry to keep harping on this American Gladiator stuff. I’ll keep it in check. It’s just all that I can think about at this point. Sorry, what was your question again?
14. Where do you stand on the great question of our age: is a hot dog a sandwich?
RB: Funny you mention hot dogs. Did you ever notice that when he’s got a good tan on, Laser’s impossibly muscly arms look kind of like overstuffed hot dogs? No? Well they do.
15. Let’s say you’re given your choice from all of the writers and artists who have ever worked in comics. Which artist would you most want to write for and which writer would you most want to work with as an artist?
RB: Mike Adamle and Larry Czsonka would’ve been amazing announcers to work with. Wait, oh, you aren’t talking about American Gladiators? Oops, well, how about Stand Leen and Kack Jirby, inventors of the Fantasy Fours?
16. You’re a Detroit Tigers fan. Who is your all-time favorite Tiger and your favorite current Tiger?
RB: Laser Fielder and Laser Verlander.
17. For a comics professional like yourself, what’s the best part and worst part about doing a project through Kickstarter?
RB: Kickstarter is a great way of getting my work directly out to my fans. There is no middle man to take a big chunk of money out of the laser. After working for Laser Comics on Lasers Hate Cszonkanauts, I decided that self-lasering my laser books was the best way to laser my lasers. Know what I laser?
18. If you could make any food in the world healthy – for example, if pizza was your choice it would now have the nutritional properties of some unholy hybrid of kale and greek yogurt – what would it be?
RB: I’d make eating Laser’s hot doggy muscle arms as nutritious as eating actual, vitamin enriched, laser beams.
19. What was the first comic you read – that you can remember – where you were like “I want to do THIS for a living!” after you read it?
RB: Blast Furnace.
20. Halloween’s my favorite holiday. I assume it’s everyone else’s as well. What’s your favorite Halloween costume ever, and do you have a picture you can share of it?
RB: I think you already know the answer to this question–and, no, you can’t see pictures.
Want to read more from the mind of Ryan Browne? I have just the thing for you. It’s called the Kickstarter for Blast Furnace: Recreational Thief. Back it and get all of this, bigger, longer and uncut.