Punk-Rocking Comic Art – Ian McGinty On The Wonderful World Of Perfecto

by Hannah Means Shannon

An experimental musical memoir in comics, accompanied by an original soundtrack, has hit the shops, written by game-changing DJ Paul Oakenfold, and illustrated by Tyler Boss, Chris Hunt, Ian McGinty, and Koren Shadmi, published by Z2 Comics. In this new work, each artist tells different chapters of Oakenfold’s “not quite true” story of meeting music and pop culture celebrities like Hunter S. Thompson, Madonna, and U2, but also more personal reflections forging his own way to an influential career.

Recently, Chris Hunt joined us to discuss his part in The Wonderful World of Perfecto: With Paul Oakenfold and Friends, and today, we have artist Ian McGinty (Welcome to Showside, Adventure Time, Invader ZIM) on-site to talk about his creative choices and his views on transforming a life in music into a comics memoir.

Hannah Means-Shannon: What parts of Oakenfold’s story did you illustrate? What was your reaction to hearing about the project, then learning which part of the story you’d be working on?

Ian McGinty: I snagged the fun bits and the tragic bits, specifically, Paul’s encounters with larger- than-life celebrities and amazing convert venues, but I also had to handle the death of his father and the minutiae of family life. My reaction? What an odd and emotionally difficult combination to take on artistically, lemme tell ya. To transition from, say, drawing Hunter S. Thompson as a gigantic monster creature shooting guns at cans and waxing about the take-down of the United States government, to the very, very, VERY intense aspects of how one mentally and physically handles the death of a loved one. Yeah. But if there’s anything I enjoy it’s a challenge, especially in art and figuring out a cool way to portray a vision (be it mine or someone else’s), and nailing down the right vibe for Paul’s story was important to me. I’m pretty sure he dug it.

HMS: Telling any kind of memoir in comics has that strong narrative through-line that’s different from many other types of comics storytelling. But then again, everyone is the hero of their own story. How does this project compare to the other types of “characters” and stories you’ve worked with in comics?

IMcG: Well, Paul ain’t Lumpy Space Princess. Paul’s a real dude, with a real story, and a real life. But honestly? I didn’t worry about that, at least in regards to the less heavy stuff. I barged in with a vision to make this as crazy as possible, think graffiti-style, and I punk-rocked this best I could. But in the end, I think that really defined the entire “lore” of Perfecto, so to speak. I applied the skills and techniques I use for the comics and animation gigs and didn’t veer from that. I didn’t try to change me, and I think that’s what makes this book very special.

HMS: How would you describe your own art style and preferences? Did you find you needed to adapt them in any way to this type of storytelling?

IMcG: At heart, I’m a cartoonist. I’ve been working on Adventure Time, Bravest Warriors, Rocko’s Modern Life, just essentially a lot of comics, animation and (I hate this term but I’m using it here just for clarity), “children’s programming”. I mean, I literally work at Nickelodeon right now on Invader ZIM. I’m used to changing up styles and ways of drawing to suit my needs and the books’ needs. For Perfecto, I wanted to pull off as many funky tricks as I could, so I combined cartoony styles with a more blatant manga style, as well as sketchier realistic ways to approach the art. I wouldn’t say I adapted my own way of drawing in any way, because I simply drew the book like something I’d like to see. If using lots of weird drawings was gonna work anywhere, it was here.

HMS: I’m going to go out on a limb and say that an artist who has worked on this book is probably one who has a particular interest in music and music in pop culture. How did the musical aspects of this story engage you, or knowing that the graphic novel would come with a soundtrack album?

IMcG: I used to be in a band. I was a drummer and then later became a singer. I’m not going to say the name of the band. We were not good. But we did play a lot of gigs, tour, sold merchandise and made a couple records, so for a lot of Perfecto I understood where Paul was coming from and just how insane it really is to literally live on the road, travel, and meet fans. It sounds glamorous, doesn’t it? IT. IS. NOT. It’s extremely hard to be away from everyone you know and be thrown into new situations every night. I feel we handled how to convey the difficulties of being a musician with the more fun parts very well, for which I give a shout-out to the other artists who worked on the book.

HMS: It’s easy to convey some degree of mood in comics, but hard to be very specific in that mood, in my opinion. A lot can be suggested with color and the style of linework. How did you approach bringing your artwork into a musical context?

IMcG: I really looked at this book as street art. Graffiti. I wanted it to look like someone could have spray-painted the pages onto a bathroom stall door. This was highlighted by Fred’s colors, by a lot. We’ve worked together quite a bit and he and his partner, Meaghan, understand the directions I tried to take for my part on Perfecto.

HMS: If readers find this book really appealing, could you recommend other music- related comics they might dig?

IMcG: Well, Murder Ballads is a natural choice. I’ve been pursuing a couple other music- based comics that might be coming out soon, there aren’t a lot of them that are this good, so the pool is shallow. I’m personally working out a comic based on Root Boy Slim & the Sex Change Band, a Maryland-based electric/blues/funk group my mom briefly sang for as a back-up singer, a Rootette. I should probably get on that. Root Boy, the singer, would wear a pig mask and throw up on stage every night as a gimmick, I hope. THAT’S a comic book, yeah?

Big thanks to Ian McGinty for taking part in this interview with us about The Wonderful World of Perfecto: With Paul Oakenfold and Friends, that is currently available from Z2 Comics.

Also be sure to check out our previous interview with artist Chris Hunt about his work on The Wonderful World of Perfecto.