By Shawn Perry
As has been said in previous editions of this column, Man Vs. Rock by Kevin Bieber and Victor De Troy is one of the funniest funny books this side of the farm.
Supported with the top-notch artisanal efforts one Jared Lamp the duo of Bieber and De Troy relish in taking your expectations and crushing them into tiny pieces with a big, cold, hard, heavy rock. No subject is off-limits as the duo bashes in every genre of the modern blockbuster with rocks and every sophomoric, controversial and homoerotic trick in the book. The genius of the book is in the artists' ability to keep your eyes glued to the page while you question not only what you are doing reading this but also what the hell they were doing when they thought it up. It is no surprise that Bieber cites South Park as one of their influences.
Fortunately these guys are natural showmen and can do a better job explaining why you should get off your rear and sit down with a digital copy of this book better than I can, so why don't you take a moment and check out this video the MvR creative team put together to explain just what this book is all about…
Now I am just going to assume that after watching that you immediately bought and read all of the first three volumes and are coming back to this article just to see if there is any more MvR content before you pre-order a copy of the hardcover for volume one coming out later this month. Well you're in luck because I recently did an interview with Bieber who discussed what it's like to be the writer of a book that is so awesome that they actually chose to use a quote from Bleeding Cool Indie Spotlight in their recent advertisements with Dynamite Entertainment… so you know its cool.
Shameless self-promotion aside, among other things Bieber discussed how he stays motivated in the unpredictable and uncertain world of self-publishing. As he explains, it's all about making a story that makes themselves and their fans laugh…
Shawn Perry: So Kevin has told me that MvR is the official comic book of the North Korean Government…how did that happen?
Kevin Bieber: Kevin and I are honored to have a great following in North Korea. It's actually how the book started, I remember when we were helping the great leader with his campaign and he asked us to create something hip that would connect with the kids and then we thought of MvR and they loved the idea.
KB: Seriously though, we don't know if we could continue to do this if there weren't people to support us. When we get reviews or get comments from fans it keeps us going. We probably wouldn't still be doing this if we weren't getting kind words now and again so thank you for your indulgence and for taking the time to do this interview.
SP: Man this is my pleasure to me you are no different than a Brian K. Vaughan because you have your own voice and you use it to write a book that I enjoy. Period.
KB: That's high-praise, thank you.
SP: It's the truth. It's like, say you love Radiohead and then see a band at a coffee shop that's got their own sound being true to themselves and you dig it and to you suddenly they are just as beautiful as Radiohead. Maybe not empirically or in any way you would want to write about but subjectively you feel something for the work and the only real difference between that and the established names is they have been at it a lot longer and are making more money doing it but it's not what matters as a fan and I think if all the people that would like your stuff were reading it then you guys would be famous. Like I know in my heart that there is literally a ton of stuff out there right now that we do not know about that we would love but we just don't know about it because we don't have time or haven't looked for it yet.
KB: That's why we took the ad out in Dynamite…[finding an audience for MvR] is like playing roulette you know, I feel like there's a market out there but it's a very niche market and its tough hitting it. We're open to a lot of things right now and we're trying to get the book in front of as many people we can… luckily we have a modest following that keeps up with us and always asks when the next book is coming out.
SP: So is it kind of like being in a band that's just starting out where you have a small group of fans and just keep trying to get heard…?
KB: To be in a band I think would be harder, man. It must be such a grind just getting screwed over time after time by venues or Spotify and having to start from scratch all over again. Victor and I are just two really good friends who are ultra-committed to this book, but with a band you need four or five people, at least three people, and I guarantee you that if either Victor or myself had a kid I do not know what would happen to MvR because it's just such a commitment. Life kinda happens but with a band I think it's gotta be even tougher, ya know, especially when someone is just starting out. You're a musician right?
SP: I love to play but it's tough to make time for something that exists mostly in a vacuum. The goal of a musician I think should be to play shows and be in a band as opposed to just being technically good and reading sheet music so the challenge is to find people you want to jam with who can commit and that is a tough thing to find so I mostly play to relax. I feel a similar way about writing…
KB: That's how I feel about making comics, it's therapy to me. Work can be soul crushing at times and this kind of keeps me grounded.
SP: Grounded…like a Rock. It all fits! All right, so MvR is awesome and I want it to never ever end but you two are a good team have you ever thought of doing another story? I mean that style would lend itself to so many different things, ya know?
KB: Well Victor and I both sort of have tunnel vision and we're just two people so we are both solely focused on just finishing MvR right now. We're totally open to doing something different in the future and we kind of have a couple of ideas but we don't want to get ahead of ourselves. We have a definite end to MvR, ya know, it's not meant to be an ongoing…it ends at a certain point, or at least the rock part does, and we want to finish that. I feel like, ya know, we owe it to ourselves and to the people that have liked it and have continued to read it to give them the ending they deserve.
SP: I understand. Nobody wants another unfinished work like All-Star Batman and Robin on their shelf.
KB: We are totally open to doing different stuff but it's just not the right time right now. But in the future who knows? We were talking to the creator of Axe Cop [Ethan Nicolle] and he had done all these things that earned prestige but they weren't earning any money and people weren't really reading them. Then one day what he thought was this stupid web comic made him famous, at least in comic circles. So you just never know where your break comes from and that's kind of a nice story for people like me who are just trying to get their foot in the door because you never know what is gonna hit and what's not…
SP: What do you see in the future?
KB: We'll see where it goes man. We do have a couple of ideas for short stories but I don't think we can do a super-hero kind of book because… pretty much MvR is what we do, that's our style so I don't think it would work if we did like a superhero or crime noir sort of thing. We want to make you laugh through absurdity and honesty. Basically, we want to do something like South Park, but with comics.
SP: So that's a hard no for bringing the style of MvR to a superhero book?
KB: I mean I grew up reading superhero comics but I don't think either Victor or myself have enough of an emotional attachment to [the genre] to tell that kind of story. Maybe we would at one point but it's gotta be the right one…maybe we could just make fun of a blind superhero with radar senses, I don't think that's been done before.
SP: Like one who just sucks and dies in one issue?
KB: Exactly… have you been reading my diary? I mean we might do it at some point but right now we feel like Buck Stone is our super-hero. Not to give away too much but we are definitely going to reference some super-hero stuff in coming issues of MvR so the elements are there but I don't know if we could do a whole book like a Super-Hero-Man Vs. Rock sort of thing. But hey, we're excited for the future and if there's a story to be told that makes people laugh and makes us laugh then we're gonna tell it.
SP: What is your dream for MvR ?
KB: To make enough money to pay my alimony and child support every month. Maybe have a video game that would be the only other thing. We won't allow Man Vs. Rock to be used for any other purposes than for a video game or to pay my alimony and child support payments.
SP: What can the world do to support MvR? If any of the bleeders reading this have not heard of or are yet to experience MvR what can they do to get their lives back on track?
KB: Well the only way to support MvR is to support the Nigerian prince who just needs a little bit of money right now to get him back into power. He's good for it, trust me. He just needs assistance of a few million dollars and he promises to pay you back, and that's like the only way to support MvR. So send me an email with your social security number and bank account numbers and I will get it to him. You'll be helping a good cause!
SP: For the rest of this interview, which even by MvR standards gets pretty weird, you can hear the full, unedited version here.
Rock on Bleeders.
Shawn Perry is a comic book and film enthusiast striving to be here now. He currently resides in East Hartford, Connecticut and is rocking out to the Cribs new record. Tweet him @thesperry and email him your stories and thoughts at Shawn.Perry88@gmail.com.