Anybody can write a “buddy comedy”, but Mike Gagerman and Andrew Waller are bringing something extra to the genre, mining the deep wells of their decades long friendship to craft a tale about eternal buddydom, vampires, the end of the world, and Vegas, baby.
Propelled by their extreme chemistry, Blood Brothers is a genuinely funny book and Gagerman and Waller offer up a bit of humor in this exclusive interview that touches on foot fetishes, Garfield 3, Joe Piscopo, avoiding vampire tropes, and friendship… which is magic.
Was the relationship between Nick and Tree inspired by your own long-term friendship, and are there certain characteristics in each character that you guys share?
Waller: We’ve been friends since high school and a lot of the stuff we write involves characters who have been friends for a long time.
Gagerman: Did we put anything in there specifically?
Waller: Tree has a foot fetish thing like you do.
Gagerman: No he doesn’t.
Waller: I know, I just wanted NerdBastards readers to get to know you better.
What’s the division of labor like for you two while writing the book? Is Etan Cohen involved at all, or was his contribution limited to the development process?
Waller: We tend to outline together and then one of us goes off and writes, then the other one rewrites, and it goes back and forth until our editor Jim Gibbons sends us a threatening email.
Gagerman: He’s very careful not to make his threats overt. They are subtle but effective. Etan Cohen wrote a very funny screenplay about Nick and Tree and we used it as the template for the characters but we’ve never met the dude.
You’re both denying that you came to this because you got confused and thought Etan Cohen was Ethan Coen, ala Bill Murray and his stated reason for joining Garfield, right?
Gagerman: Andrew did this for the same reason he does everything to get out from under the massive debts he incurs betting big on Jai alai.
Waller: Hey do you think they’re doing a Garfield 3? We should talk to our agents, I need that gig.
The flashback panels that show Nick and Tree appearing all throughout some of the more famous and infamous moments in human history: what made you decide that their past would be so Forrest Gump like and glamorous?
Gagerman: Well that’s just the stuff we showed. There was that long stretch where all Nick and Tree did was smoke opium in Beijing whore houses.
Waller: It’s just the law of averages. If you’re around for a thousand years you are bound to bump into some famous people. Like, even I met Bo Jackson once.
What are some of the cinematic inspirations for Nick and Tree’s chemistry? A little Dead Heat, perhaps?
Gagerman: Oh man, remember when Piscopo was king? I used to watch Johnny Dangerously on a continuous loop.
Waller: We were going for more of a Denzel Washington and Bob Hoskins in Heart Condition vibe.
Gagerman: To be honest, we looked at Lethal Weapon and Rush Hour as templates for their relationship. That sort of action comedy vibe.
Waller: Also Turner and Hooch.
What are the vampire tropes that you’re trying to stay away from, and what are some of your favorite vamp shows and films?
Gagerman: Lost Boys. Both Corey’s at the height of their game.
Waller: We were trying to look at vampirism as an actual virus. Make it as grounded as possible. So the reflection thing is gone, the garlic is gone.
Gagerman: Why would a cross do anything? I mean, what if you were a Jewish vampire, or a Buddhist vampire, what’s the cross mean to you?
Waller: If you were an atheist vampire and a cross burned you, you’d be pretty pissed.
Tell me a little bit about working with Evan Shaner and the character design. Do I detect a bit of Christopher Lee in Ian’s appearance?
Gagerman: Funny you’d say Christopher Lee. Our inspiration was Christoph Waltz, so you’re close.
Waller: Shaner has been a great collaborator. He has such a great style, it’s grounded but fun. We sent him a bunch of images for various characters as we saw them, sometimes he would use them, sometimes he’d have his own ideas for what the characters should look like. He’s done an excellent job.
What can readers expect going forward, particularly with regard to the scale of mayhem that we’re in for if Quadilla returns?
Gagerman: There will be a blood bath on the floor of a casino we are very excited about.
Waller: Ian has some big, end of the world scenarios in his head. Our guys are gonna have their fangs full.
Gagerman: Fangs full? That wasn’t even close. That’s the kind of crap I would take out during the rewrite process.
Waller: And add in some weird close up of a girl’s feet.
Gagerman: That has never happened.
Blood Brothers #2 comes out tomorrow, August 21st. You can procure it at your local comic book shop and on Dark Horse Digital.