Benet Simon is the writer of “Practice Makes Perfect,” a hilarious short-comic romp through supervillainy that appeared in Oneshi Press Quarterly Anthology #06. We asked Benet about satire, strippers, supervillains, and his creative process.
My background is in writing comedy cabaret and burlesque routines—I used to be burlesque singer Jack the Stripper, and I ran my own cabaret show in London. I approach comics in the same way—it’s all putting on a show. I’ve also got a fair bit of freelance journalism and screenwriting under my belt, so I already knew a bit about how to break into a new medium. On 20th December 2017, I decided to write comics, and by Christmas Eve I had my first offer of a publishing deal, from Blend Three Comics. It fell through, but not before I’d used it to leverage a deal with Markosia on 4th Jan 2018 for Tales of Astoundment, which was my first proper deal. Just [recently], though, Blend Three got back in touch and asked if I wanted another stab at it, but once bitten…
What was weird about breaking into comics is the realization that I had it right at twelve about what I should be doing with my life, because I’ve never been this good at anything!
Can you tell us about your inspiration and process for creating “Practice Makes Perfect”?
I’ve always found villains more interesting than heroes and I’m a big fan of “The Pro”—I wanted to do something like that. I usually start by knocking out dialogue and captions with some notes on images, just so I don’t forget what I’m seeing in my head. I do it like this to keep the flow of action going in my head, then come back and fill in the blanks. I write pretty fast this way, and did the first draft of my series “Arabella Damage” in a week.
“Practice Makes Perfect” is a funny story that plays with tropes of heroism and villainy. Do you work with those themes often?
Absolutely! I also love to waste time trawling through the TV Tropes website just to see what intellectual real estate I can claim that no one else has, or that no one else has done justice to, and what I can use for research.
Who are your writing heroes, and other people who inspire you?
John Alison was the last straw for me; when I read “Giant Days,” I thought, “Hey, I could do that. No, wait—I should do that!” I love the work of screenwriter David Goyer, and just now I’m really digging the “Scoundrels” novels by Major Victor Cornwall and Major Arthur Trevelyan (supposedly). David Mamet plays are master classes in dialogue, always loved those. I grew up reading Terry Pratchett, who I used to know because he lived in my village in England. I also grew up reading 2000 AD, so Alan Moore, and later Neil Gaiman and Garth Ennis, were gods to me.
What’s your all-time favourite comic-book-based movie? TV series?
For movies, it’s Watchmen. I understand why Alan Moore hated all his other movie adaptations, but not this one—I really like it and I thought it was the most faithful adaptation of any comic ever, given the necessity of switching from one medium to another. My favourite TV series adaptation was Powers—really sorry to see that cancelled. The unaired pilot for Global Frequency points to the best show that never was —a change in studio management scuppered it. C’est la vie. I’m hoping that the new Dredd TV series will rock as hard as the movie did.
Although you didn’t ask, my least favourite adaptation is The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Great comic, terrible film. On a three day bender around New York with a squad of Asian American dominatrixes who liked my stripping, I once said, “Am I Sean Connery in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen right now? Because I’m totally wasted.” Nobody got it. Nobody had seen the movie, and it’s a good thing. Besides, it was three a.m. and I wasn’t being funny. It’s true about the dominatrixes, though. We went to a store where I bought pleather pants so tight I made one of them blush, and I consider that to be one of my great achievements in life.
What comic book character do you identify most with, and why?
Johnny Nemo, Existential Hit Man of the Future—look it up! Simply because he looks like me, or used to, since I grow older and he never will.
What’s important to you in a comic book, as a reader? As a writer?
If it’s got a cartoon style and dark themes, I’m into it. That goes for both answers.
How do you make your work immersive and progressive (the Oneshi Press themes)?
Satire is naturally both of those things, but my New Year’s resolution is going to be to try to make less satire about comics and more satire about the real world—then put it into comics. I think it’s important to be even-handed in satire, as this gives licence to explore anything, so I’m currently writing my strip Disastronauts with a planet where the sexes have split into their own countries—Brodonia and Femistaan, locked in a true war of the sexes. Left to their own devices, each country has come to exemplify the worst of the gender they represent, allowing the story to promote the idea that for all the conflict and heartache, men and women are better off together than apart. This two part story is called “War of the Sexists.”
Any new projects you’re working on?
My collaborators and I have just completed the first issue of “Arabella Damage,” which Action Lab asked for after reading an eight-page pitch strip. It’s a comedy about a teenage girl who is the world’s greatest mad scientist, and a pretty awful human being, who learns that all the genius in the world can’t stop her needing to grow as a person. I’m a serial dater of lady scientists and a big fan of mad scientists in fiction, and I was annoyed that the few lady mad scientists that there are in fiction tend to have tediously noble motives, like they’re not allowed to be as mental as the men. Naturally, I invented one that was just plain batshit and gave her god-like abilities. I’ll hear the final word on that in December, but I suspect Action Lab will go for it—I only submitted the strip to that one publisher because I knew they’d be into it.
We’ve also just finished the first issue of sci-fi comedy “Disastronauts,” which is like Star Trek if everyone was really bad at their job. I’m sending that one off to Antarctic Press due to its black and white manga aesthetic. Markosia are publishing a one-shot horror comedy of mine, “Society of Smiles,” and keep asking me to make it longer, so I need to do that soon. All three of those strips will have eight pages in the next Octal pitch anthology. Check out the art from Rachel Ordway (“Arabella Damage”), Cynthia Boll (“Disastronauts”), and Patrick Buermeyer (“Society of Smiles”). I’m also doing one panel cartoons with Izsak Ambrus. I’m a very lucky man to be working with such massive talents, and it looks like 2019 is going to be big year for all of us.
Where can readers find you online?
Get your own copy of Oneshi Press Anthology #06 in print or digital, featuring “Practice Makes Perfect” by Benet Simon and Sean Bova!
Check out the rest of our other Creator Interviews!
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