New Zealand born Roger Langridge started his comic career in the pages of Judge Dredd Megazine on a strip called The Straitjacket Fits. He has since done Fin Fang Four for Marvel, The Muppet Show for Boom! Studios and Popeye for IDW. Now the writer/artist has taken up the challenge of doing Evil Ernie as an all-ages book. Brandon Jerwa chatted with Langridge about the challenge of doing Li'l Ernie for Dynamite Entertainment.
BRANDON JERWA: Okay, look…I know we're here to promote LI'L ERNIE, but I need just a moment to be a complete fanboy. I am a great admirer of your work, and I can't even begin to tell you what an honor it was to have you design the activity pages for LI'L BIONIC KIDS. I mean…just…wow.
ROGER LANGRIDGE: I don't know what to say to that… except thank you very much! Did you solve all the puzzles?
BJ: I'll try to be more professional now! Out of all the LI'L books, I'll admit that EVIL ERNIE was the one that left me scratching my head a bit. How in the world did you come to be involved with the project, and what was your initial reaction to that character?
RL: For a couple of years I've been talking to Dynamite about maybe doing something with them, but the few ideas I pitched didn't go anywhere. Then this came up, and I was offered a shot at it, and I had a month or so to kill while I was waiting for another project to begin, so I thought, "Why not?" I'd never heard of Evil Ernie beforehand, so I came to it completely cold, but the double-act dynamic between Ernie and Smiley seemed like something I could build on, and I was amused by the idea of a kid who thought he was much more evil than he really is.
BJ: What kind of story can people expect from LI'L ERNIE?
RL: There are actually a number of short stories in the comic, but they're all built around the same basic situation: Ernie thinks he's a badass and tries to get away with something, and Smiley – who in Li'l Ernie is sort of a Jiminy Cricket character – keeps trying to set him on the straight and narrow, to no avail. There are also some zombies. Zombies seem to be an indispensible part of the property's DNA, so I jammed a bunch of 'em in there.
BJ: I may be a little biased, but I'm really excited about the entire LI'L DYNAMITES initiative. Do you think the comics industry is doing enough to reach younger readers?
RL: I think it could always do more, but it's been gratifying to see so many great comics for kids appear over the last few years. The more the better! If nothing else, it's just smart long-term thinking. The existing audience won't live forever. We need a fresh generation of readers coming up behind the current one if we expect to still have a comic industry thirty years from now. I'm not saying anything particularly new or insightful here, I know.
BJ: Are there any other Dynamite characters that you'd like to bring to the LI'L world?
RL: Li'l Holmes and Watson might be a laugh! Or Li'l Ranger and Tonto…
Li'l Ernie if available now from Dynamite Entertainment.
As mentioned above, Brandon Jerwa wrote the Li'l Bionic Kids for the same event.