The beginning series of my reviews, interviews, and thoughts
I have been attempting to wrestle down my schedule and do a review and interview with Tom Brazelton the creator of Theater Hopper for some time now. Tom has been creating Theater Hopper for the past four and half years now and has successfully built a hilarious web comic with a devout following. I was able to speak with Tom via phone about his collected work, current site, and all around brain droppings. First up my review for Theatre Hopper graphic novel 1 and 2, and then some one on one Q&A with Tom Brazelton.
Following the footsteps of classic online comics such as Penny Arcade and PvP, Tom Brazelton expresses his thoughts, beliefs, and musings on film today via web comic.The comic’s style is commonly set up into four panels in which his three main characters, Tom, Cami, and Jared play out Brazelton’s feelings and comments about recent movie releases. His quips and lashings are not limited to film itself, but also lament’s the film industry such as film stars, directors, writers, and producers.
Brazelton’s art style and writing is inviting no matter where one beings to view the comic. The entire series is available online, but within the collected works via print the reader is given an inside point of view by the creator himself for every comic panel. This is reminiscent of the extra commentary on DVD’s by the creators of the film. I find this revolutionary for print since now I am invited into the process or state of mind of the creator for the comic. I would love to see this in the main stream comics of today within the collected graphic novels. Most of the stories exist on their own, but Brazelton knows his audience and also throws in reoccurring themes for the long time fan/reader to have a familiarity with his characters.
What is most striking about Theater Hopper graphic novel 1 and 2 is the instant familiarity with the characters. It has a feeling of looking at Norman Rockwell’s paintings of small town life. Rockwell was able to capture the mood and setting of the everyday people that were outside the celebrity status. Tom also expresses this same feeling with his writing. Contently, I remember saying aloud as I read his collected works, “I have had this conversation with my best friend” or “I have seen this at the movie theatre before.” At times Tom allow the characters to exist within the comic realm by allowing for physical and exaggerated manner, but all non-reality aside the comments and expressions about the films to date are on the money.
After reading and re-reading the collected works I find that I could see this series as a desktop calendar that I could read daily, and then wish to pander around the office to share with everyone the quick quips that I just read. The way Brazelton captures an accurate review/ critique of a movie from a TRUE movie fan viewpoint is priceless among the overly stated reviews out on the web. I myself will most likely stop and read Tom Brazelton’s comic before I see a particular movie just to see what he has to say about it. His comic is fresh, current, and inspires the reader to check in every week to see what is new. I highly recommend everyone to purchase the graphic novels, or save his site as a one of your favorites just so you can check in every week when you are really not working, but making it look like you are.
Sidekick: Hey Tom, thanks for taking the time to speak with me about your comic.
Brazelton: No problem, thanks for giving me a ring.
Sidekick: After reading your graphic novels I keep seeing a reoccurring theme of superhero reference through out. So my question is if you are into comics why chose movies over comics?
Brazelton: Well I have been collecting comics since I was eight years old. But I had to quit collecting when I went to college. I really didn’t have that much money then. I have since restarted my collecting, but when Theater Hopper came to mind I was responding to movies since that was what I was more current on. I was basically writing what I know at the time. Everyone is an expert to some degree when they are commenting on movies and I wanted to touch on that.
Sidekick: Interesting, well you have been writing what you know for the past four and half years now. So the next question would be how have you seen the process change today in comparison to when you began?
Brazelton: Well, as I say in the graphic novels, when I started I had no idea what I was doing. I just saw other online comics out there and believed that I could do that as well. I am a graphic and web designer by trade, but actually designing a comic was a learning curve. The process still isn’t as fast since I use my time in other places now. Originally, the process took awhile in writing, drawing out the blue line, scanning, coloring and lettering in Photoshop. Now I still do all that, but I am more familiar with the software so I use that time to make the comic better. So yeah, it is all about the same time but now I spend it re-working the strip.
Sidekick: You can really see that you do that now when comparing the original stuff to today’s comic strip. I can see you have improved your technique over time.
Brazelton: Thanks, I strive to do better as the comic continues.
Sidekick: Where does the comedy come from? Is it developed between conversation between friends, does it just show up in your writing, or do you watch movies today and just try to find the joke to insert later?
Brazelton: It comes from my need for attention…
Sidekick: …Really? ...
Brazelton: …no…well sort of. I was an only child and kids in school used to tell me that I should be a comedian. I never had a desire to be a comedian, but I have always had a humorous side. So I put it into the comic when it comes up. I just find things funny sometimes, so I don’t have to try and make a joke when one will come naturally in time.
Sidekick: Since you have had two graphics put together now and have a weekly strip going, where would you like to see Theatre Hopper in the future?
Brazelton: I would love to see it in front of more people. It would be nice to know that Theatre Hopper’s fan base had grown. I really love the way it is working out right now since I get to do my hobby and it is still fun. I think I wouldn’t enjoy it as much if it becomes work, but in the end I would like Theatre Hopper to have a broader audience.
Sidekick: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, and sorry for having to put you off for so long.
Brazelton:Not a problem, thanks for talking with me. I understand that life happens. Take care.