Zombies, Turtles, and Pickles… Oh My!

Mr. Guy, a half-goblin with green skin and a cheeky smile, holding up two fingers on an arm roped with muscle and spikes, with a skull poking out of the shoulder. Behind him is a sunset over a beach, with zombie hands splashing out of the water and a door hanging open, with tentacles reaching out of it.

Mr. Guy: Zombie Hunter is a fantasy zombie-comedy comic book that lampoons every un-dead comedy trope you’ve ever held dear. It’s a roller-coaster art-thology featuring a different brilliant artist for every 8-page story arc. And it’s coming back for round 2!

On September 6, Oneshi Press will launch Mr. Guy: Zombie Hunter #1-2, A Fantasy Zombie Comedy Comic on Kickstarter, and the zom-com will start up again. You can follow along now to get a front row seat to Mr. Guy and his sidekick Spooky’s adventures when the campaign goes live!

Act 2: The Hecking Heck of It begins where we left off in Act 1: To Save Himself. But rather than prattling on in our own words, we want to let the writer of the story—Oneshi Press co-founder Jayel Draco—tell you about Mr. Guy in his own words!

Take it away, Jayel…

mr guy artist bio pic jayel draco creator zombie
Before zombie hunting, Mr. Guy did lots of very odd jobs.

Can you tell us about Mr. Guy: Zombie Hunter, as a narrative and as a character?

Sure! Strap in! Please keep all arms and legs inside the vehicle. So, Mr. Guy is a horror comedy, more specifically zombie-apocalypse lampoon. Less specifically, it doesn’t adhere to spoofing one particular zombie apocalypse trope over another. In fact, it satirizes everything it comes across. Our eponymous hero, Mr. Guy, is a half-goblin halfwit living in a modern world with a high-fantasy history. Humans, elves, orcs, goblins, etc. have all advanced to the point of a modern, Earth-like civilization.

They were all having a fine day when, out of nowhere, the zombie apocalypse showed up—like it does. If you’re anything like me, your first question when you read that is, “Okay, which version of the zombie apocalypse? Are we talking Revelations, ancient curse, natural virus, alien retrovirus, radioactivity, what?”

Well, yes. In Mr. Guy’s efforts to save himself throughout the book, he must explore all of those possibilities and more. He’s not in it to save us all, per se, but that may just become part of saving himself.   

Ancient Mr. Guy petroglyphs, circa late 1900s


What inspired you to write Mr. Guy, and how long was the process?

As a teenager back in the nineteen hundreds—the mid-nineties, to be precise—I had a deep love for all things pop culture, but was especially tickled by zombies. I loved thinking about how I might endeavor to survive in a zombie-apocalypse scenario. Which always brought me back to the question of which zombie-apocalypse scenario. I also loved high fantasy, and loved the idea of a goblin main character, which is something you don’t really see much of.

At some point it just clicked: Modern-world zombie apocalypse + high-fantasy ! But again, which zombie apocalypse? in playing with various versions, it hit me: Why not all of them?

How has Mr. Guy changed over the time you’ve been working on it?

Like a good pickle, Mr. Guy has had a long time to ferment. Between the time when Mr. Guy first appeared in a tiny corner of my oversized, duct-tape-covered, sticker-coated sketchbook as a freshman in high school and now, I have learned a thing or two about storytelling, character development, world-building, etc. I’ve also gotten a bit better at drawing in those two and a half decades. But that stuff is par for the course.


All he wants is a satisfying conclusion

What makes Mr. Guy different from your other narratives?

Mr. Guy is as funny as a barrel of butts. As a satire, the story has a bit more freedom than most of the projects I work on. Children of Gaia (COG), for example is very serious, structured world building, where each new element presents new parameters for the addition of any subsequent elements. While PACK and Tracy Queen are both a bit more noir and err closer to the side of zany than COG, they both exist in the same version of Earth in what we call the Oneshiverse. So they both have to work within each other’s narrative confines.

Mr. Guy, on the other hand, operates in a lower dimension, one step closer to the source. He can express a vague awareness of the narrative he’s in and break the fourth wall with meta and self-referential humor. The narrative is an exploration of pop culture tropes, and the main character, our beloved reluctant hero Mr. Guy, is allowed to join us on that exploration, with at least some vague sense of awareness about those tropes and his own weird role in playing with them.

The greatest chef!

How did you make Mr. Guy unique while also exploring existing stories and narratives?

I took the gourmet approach. I think of a story like a meal. An accomplished chef does not need to invent their own ingredients. Like anyone else, they select from a variety of preexisting ingredients. An accomplished chef, however, can play ingredients off of one another in a delicious and unique medley. Mostly it’s about timing, how and when which ingredients are added will change how they play together. Unexpected accents can make a dish exciting, but too many can create a cacophonous sludge. I want you to laugh with me while we share this meal that I made for both of us to enjoy together. I tried to keep that in mind while creating Mr. Guy.

Eastman and Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtle Soup

Why did you decide to make Mr. Guy a collaboration between artists rather than just illustrating it yourself?

For a long time, I did imagine that one day I would write and illustrate all of Mr. Guy. For the last few years, however, Oneshi Press has been putting out comics anthologies—we’re currently working on our 12th anthology! I really love the buffet of creativity that anthologies offer.

My first experience with the concept of a comics anthology was Eastman and Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtle Soup, put out by Mirage Studios in 1987. Young Jayel studied this collection, poring over every detail.

How is it possible that these turtles exist in 8 alternative realities? Even though they’re done differently, they’re the same characters.

That last concept eventually evolved into the realization that what’s true of a character is who they are, what’s fun about a character is how they are…and that how can be changed up and kept fresh. Of course, over the years, there have been countless takes on TMNT by various artists. And it all just adds to that yummy turtle soup. [Editorial note: Jayel does not eat turtles.]

Since Mr. Guy episodically switches from exploring one trope to another, it’s already broken down in such a way that each chapter is told in a different style. At some point it just clicked: Why not also show each chapter in a different style, too?  

A collection of separate visual works tied together by one continuous narrative

You’ve called Mr. Guy an “art-thology.” How does that differ from an anthology?

Typically, a comics anthology is a collection of short comics from multiple series and often from various creators, which are generally bound together under the common theme.

Mr. Guy: Zombie Hunter, however, is one continuous narrative all written by myself, but each chapter (or arc) is illustrated by a different artist. So it’s really only an anthology where the art is concerned. Hence the word art-thology!

Mr. Guy timeline sketches

How do you make sure that recurring characters and places within the comic are consistent from one artist’s arc to the next?

Well, forethought is important there, but for the sake of peace of mind, even that forethought must be tempered with acceptance. Certain things would progress from one arc to the next, such as the wear and tear on Mr. Guy’s clothing, scars and mutations he picks up along the way, a continuous shift in his demeanor, etc. For those sorts of details, I drew out a timeline of the character’s development, showing his becoming.

There are a few examples where an arc will end in one location and the next arc will begin there. In those cases I did my best to have detailed descriptions in both arcs. Even though the descriptions may be redundant, it’s important that both artists are getting the same direction. Even still, there’s a degree of variation in how two artists may interpret a description. When continuity is vital, I would just design it ahead of time and send my designs to both artists. There was even a case where one artist drew a location before the other got to it, so I shared the work of the former with the latter.

And of course, as I said, acceptance. The beauty here is the chance to see how different artists envision these characters and scenarios, so we have to allow there to be differences. I believe micromanaging is antithetical to creativity. In my opinion, if you hire an artist, it should be because you’ve studied their work and trust their judgement.

Artists Jayel Draco, Walter Ostlie, Diana Camero, and Jacey Chase all kicked ass illustrating their parts of Mr. Guy: Zombie Hunter
Each Arc by a different artist

Who are these fabulous artists you’ve collaborated with?

I was thrilled to work with Sonne (The Becoming Anthology), Walter Ostlie (Metalshark Bro, Ghost Bats), Diana Camero (Guts, Tracy Queen), Jacey Chase (Far Away, Junction), and Sophia Murphy (The Origins Anthology) on Act 1: To Save Himself

Now, with Act 2: The Hecking Heck Of It, I’m just as pumped to be commissioning work from stevieraedrawn (Oneshi Press Anthology #6, Weatherwax Coven), James Groeling (Oneshi Press Anthologies #5 & #8, cover art), Daniel Hooker (Line of Ruin, Hit!), Michel Abstracto (Tales of Intoxica, TarMucks: Origins), Wren Rios, “Skooba” Steve Myers (Battle for Ozellberg, The Zaidura Chronicles), and Whitney Cook (Trailer Park Boys, En Somnium)!

Early render for the 2010 pilot
Pre-production look-test render

Did you always envision Mr. Guy as an art-thology?

If you’d have asked me 20 years ago, I’d have said that one day I’d illustrate the whole thing myself. I made some early attempts and, having no idea what I was doing, put them on ice. About 10 years ago, I was toying around with the idea of Kickstarting a pilot episode for a Mr. Guy cartoon. Chris Covelli, my long-time creative partner and co-founder on Children of Gaia, even did some CGI of Mr. Guy walking around and toon-shaded. At the time, though, even the workload for a pilot was a bit beyond our scope. And the more we looked into Kickstarter, the more we realized we didn’t quite have the internet reach we would need, nor the understanding of how to run an enticing campaign.

All these years later, as co-founder of Oneshi Press, I’ve helped put out 11 anthologies and counting. Mr. Guy was already written in 8-page arcs, each one with a different vibe. It just felt right to want to see each arc done by a different artist. Sort of like a DTIYS (draw this in your style), but for a whole chapter.

How can readers support Mr. Guy?

You can follow the Mr. Guy: Zombie Hunter #1-2 pre-launch page on Kickstarter right now to reserve your front-row seats to the spectacular show when we launch on September 6!

And, in the meantime, if you want a taste of all this zombie-smashing delicousness, you can get a free sample of the first two chapters of the story by clicking the button below!

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