BY JENNIFER M. CONTINO
Can an angel and robot live and get along with an every day single woman? It's not the odd couple, but more like the odd trio within the pages of Halo & Sprocket
, but that's most of the charm of Kerry Callen's
imaginative series. Callen's got a new collection coming out this summer, Halo & Sprocket: Natural Creatures
and told us a little about what makes not just the robot, but the rest of the cast tick in this series.THE PULSE: For our readers who hear the words "Halo" and "Sprocket" and think about a garage mechanic with a heart of gold; tell them why that has just about nothing to do with the gang of your comic strip?
Okay. Halo and Sprocket is about the everyday adventures of an angel and robot who live with a young , single woman. It's a humor book that looks at life through three radically different points of view. There are no mechanics, or hearts of gold. Well, not yet. Who knows what will show up in the future.
I chose the name ďHaloĒ because itís a round shape made from divine light and the name ďSprocketĒ because itís a round shape made out of metal. I like the similarity and contrast. Plus, I could use both shapes in the Oís in the logo. Oh crap! I should have named Katie something with an ďOĒ in it. It would be a plain ďOĒ, representing regular life. Dang it, Iíd hadnít thought of that until right now!
Um, stop me if I start rambling.THE PULSE: It's ok, I like rambling! What have you enjoyed the most about working on Halo & Sprocket, even if you haven't been able to find enough time to get out a million issues of the series since its debut?
I love that Iíve set up a situation where I can basically say anything I want about pretty much any subject I want. Itís a book about life in general, so that includes a HUGE range of material.
I particularly enjoy it when I ALMOST didnít do a story or bit because Iím afraid itís only funny to me, then it later turns out to be very notable to people. For example, the one pager I did where Katie wonít watch a TV movie on her DVD
. I almost didnít do that one. But as it turns out, that situation is apparently very universal to many people! I got tons of comments on it.THE PULSE: How did you decide on the way Katie should be in these pages? I mean, she seems like the average gal, but she's got an angel and robot in her life ...
Katie represents a typical humanís point of view. Halo, of course, represents the metaphysical side of life, while Sprocket sees everything through a purely logical viewpoint. Real life usually falls somewhere in between. Katieís sometimes insightful, but ultimately she often has to be the ďstraight man," even though I try to keep her a little quirky. THE PULSE: I've always gotten a Three's Company vibe from the comic, only instead of Jack, Chrissy and Janet, we have a Chrissy type with an angel and robot ... were you influenced by that show or other buddy type classic TV shows?
I donít think I was really inspired by any particular TV show. Maybe M*A*S*H. I like the mix of comedy and thoughtfulness, but basically I just wanted a format where I could write about anything I felt like. I decided that having three different characters with three radically different view points was a good way to do it.
I donít consider Katie to be the ďChrissyĒ of the book. Katieís not really dingy and, in many ways, sheís the anchor of the book. Sheís often very clever having to constantly deal with her two difficult-to-live-with roommates. Hmm, that might show more in the first volume than it does in the second.THE PULSE: You've been working on this series for several years, how, if at all, have your ideas about crafting the comic changed?
Aside from me being able to draw the characters better, they really havenít. My original goal was create a comic that would be accessible to anyone, not just regular comic book readers. Iíve kept the stories fairly short and about everyday life. I want the art to be easy on the eyes and easy to follow. Iíve had lots of people tell me itís one of the few comics their wives/friends/girlfriends enjoy.THE PULSE: How has the response to the series affected or influenced how you when you were considering future storylines or snippets to include in issues?
After the first collection came out, I was surprised on how many people told me they liked it when Halo paused to explained human behavior. I was always afraid those were the boring parts. I played it up more in at least one of the new stories. Hopefully not too much.
I also had a reader email me to say he wished Halo could get knocked off his high horse once in a while. It inspired me to write a story where Katie and Sprocket try to play a practical joke on Halo. Itís in the upcoming TP.
Plus, Iíve found out that Sprocket seems to be the breakaway star of the book. Itís the reason I highlighted him up on the cover of the first collection.THE PULSE: You said you had some trepidation at first about using an angel in the series, because you didn't want anyone thinking you had a "hidden religious agenda." Why did you think, in a comic that has an angel as one of its stars, that would be a bad idea?
Youíre right. Itís not bad if an angel is one of a few main characters. What I meant to say, was that I would be hesitate to do an angel as the ONLY main character. Then people would possibly expect a ďhidden religious agenda," which Halo and Sprocket doesnít have.THE PULSE: What are your hidden agendas here? Are you really trying to promote the robots are among us? That's your agenda, right!? We know about the hidden robots in the world, Kerry!
No comment.THE PULSE: When you were initially working on this, after your reconstructive knee surgery, what influenced your art style the most?
I knew I had to do something that would be quicker that the type of comic work I had done in the past. A long time ago, I did a book called the ďDirectory to a Nonexistent UniverseĒ for the defunct company Eclipse comics. It was a take-off of the Marvel and DC directories of the time. Iíll send you an image of the cover. You can see I used to draw in a more complex style.THE PULSE: Now, what are some of the things or who are some of the people who influence your art the most?
Bruce Timm, James Kochalka, Shannon Wheeler, initially. Iíve enjoyed all of their artwork and I felt the simplicity was appealing and accessible to everyone. Also, during my ďday jobĒ as a greeting card artist, Iíve spent lots of time working on Peanuts characters, Disney characters, etc. Thatís had an impact on me.
When I look back at my first couple of issues though, I wish I would have drawn more backgrounds. Sometimes thereís a thin line between simplicity and emptiness. I was very conscious of that as I drew this new collection.THE PULSE: What's included in this July's Halo & Sprocket: Natural Creatures collection?
Mind- blowing fun! Letís seeÖ Thereís a story about spiders in your house. Halo and Sprocket and Katie go on a picnic. They all play a trivia game. Halo and Sprocket wonít give Katie any privacy while sheís taking a bath. They visit a pet store. We find out why clowns are scary. Sprocket fixes the alphabet. If any of this sounds mundane, itís not when an angel and a robot are involved. Oh, and thereís a few surprises. One pagers and such. THE PULSE: One of the first times we talked about Halo and Sprocket [here], you mentioned you might be working on a cartoon for a major studio. Did that ever come about and are you still working on potential cartoons?
That did happen. It was a potential cartoon for Disney TV. It was based on an unsold childrenís book that Nate Evans and I worked on together. We created the concept, the character designs, and worked on the ďbibleĒ of the series. We were paid, but it never made it past the development stage. I think itís pretty typical for many projects.THE PULSE: When you're not making comic books, what are you doing with your free time -- assuming you're not making cartoons for major studios?
Making cartoons for a major greeting card company. Well, printed cartoons. Actually, I did that for many, many years. Iím now supervising people who make cartoons for a major greeting card company.THE PULSE: What's coming up next for Halo & Sprocket?
You know, I might actually get around to telling their origin. My problem is that I get so many ideas, itís hard for me to accept spending time drawing 100 pages on one story. Iíve actually started a blog
, so I can throw out ideas without having to incorporate them into stories.
Aside from Halo and Sprocket, Iím currently working on a comic collaboration with Chris Grine, whoís done Chickenhare for Darkhorse. Iím excited about the work weíve done so far. Itís a story about vampires, werewolves, and zombies, but not in the traditional sense. Oops, Iím going off on a tangent. If thatís the last question, I should finish this interview with Halo and Sprocket.
Halo and Sprocket!
Halo & Sprocket: Natural Creatures will be in comic shops this July.