Schwule, Zombies, Sex, Terrorismus – Nichts scheint den Machern von Cyanide & Happiness zu polarisierend und extrem zu sein, als dass sie die Themen nicht aufgreifen. Immerhin sind es ja „nur“ Comics und Bildchen und Zeichnungen. Soll ja alles lustig sein. Und das ist es größtenteils auch. Kris, Rob, Matt und Dave bringen uns Tag für Tag einen Comicstrip, und das bereits seit dem 26. Januar 2005. Macht insgesamt bislang über 2.500 Gags.
Matt Melvin von explosm.net erklärt im Interview, wie es zu der erfolgreichen Comicserie kam, ob es Themen gibt, die sie nicht mal mit der Kneifzange anfassen würden und
(Matt wie er ist und wie er sich selbst sieht)
Dilbert, The Peanuts or Garfield – there’ve been many classic comic strips in those printed paper things people called newspaper centuries ago. What gave you the idea to adapt this scheme and do a daily web comic?
It honestly wasn’t a big decision we planned out. We had been friends online for a while and enjoyed the creative outlet, so we began making funny things on the internet. It was all just a fun little hobby when we began.
The earliest comic of yours is numbered 15 on your homepage. What happened to the 14 ones before? Too embarrassed of them?
I ate them. In one sitting. *flex*
(der erste/fünfzehnte Comic, vom 26.01.2005)
The first (or 15th) comic already captures a main theme of your entire series: Crotches. And applesauce. Is this the manly and cynical humor based on the composition of your group which only consists men (Matt, Rob, Dave and Kris)? Would Cyanide & Happiness look different or even function if there were a woman in “the team”? Would #15 deal about a vagina and apple pie?
I wouldn’t say our sense of humor is manly per se, but there is an inherent difference between the typical type of humor men and women find funny. We veer more towards the fart jokes while women seem to veer more towards queef jokes. It’s anatomy.
How does your working process look like? Are you drawing lots of comics in advance? How do you come up with ideas und how do you discuss the radical ones intern?
The entire process, at every level, is very autonomous. The site isn’t looked over by anyone but ourselves, so we’re the only ones who have any say content-wise. The actual comic writing process is even more autonomous, each strip being written and drawn by a single person.
Any biographical content?
All the superheroes are based on this one guy we know. He’s pretty weird.
Are there any boundaries? Any topics you do not pick up, because they are too radical?
No. I firmly believe that any topic can be made funny, it just depends on the audience and how the joke is handled. Obviously, you don’t point a finger at someone with cancer and laugh, but the topic of cancer can definitely be used for humor. Coincidentally, we’ve done a bunch of strips about cancer that people have complained about. None of these people have ever had cancer, though, they just know someone who has. People actively going through chemotherapy have emailed us THANKING us for the comics, because it helps them get through tough times. It all depends on the audience.
Do you think, other entertaining products are too scared to make fun of radical content?
When you have higher-ups telling you what you can and cannot do, it’s not a question of being „scared,“ but being „allowed.“ South Park has done a fantastic job at pushing boundaries in intelligent ways, but they still have to answer to executives at the end of the day.
One comic every day, 2.549 in total. What is your favorite one (done by yourself and of the entire series)?
This seems to change a lot, but I did a joke about Abbott and Costello doing a „Who’s on first?“ type of routine, but about getting an AIDS test. I was pretty proud of that one.
In steady irregularity you are also publishing animated shorts. How do you decide, which topic gets the honor of a video version? When it doesn’t fit in 10 panels?
Comics are pretty simple ideas, while shorts are much more involved and have a sense of story to them. If an idea has legs to make a short, that’s usually the route we take.
DEPRESSING INTERVIEW QUESTION #1: Didn’t you rather want to become real artists?
No. I was actually working as a graphic designer before the comic took off. But I was doing this comic in my spare time because I enjoyed it so much. My job is something I used to do for free because I enjoyed it so much. There’s nothing else that comes even close.
How did the idea of the depressing comic weeks evolve? Is this some kind of legitimation for yours and the readers to deal with sad topics? Something like “If it is part of a semi-official week, there have to be sad contents, so I’m allowed to laugh at it”?
Rob made a comic that was just really, really depressing. We liked the idea of comics that had no punchline, but were just really sad. A bit of anti-humor. We also really like gimmick weeks, so it was pretty natural.
There are lots of recurrent characters: Tall Justin, Purple-Shirted Eye Stabber, Dr. Baby, Seizure Man or Dan the Downer. When does a character get the chance to become such a running gag? Does their existence depend on the judgment of the readers or the (un)limitedness of your ideas towards them?
Our characters only exist for the joke. We pride ourselves on our lack of characters or story, but sometimes a joke just needs that archetypal character. Their existence is dependent on the existence of material that character is needed for. Most characters only last a few strips, never to be seen again.
Are there any other Comics you like to read and to recommend?
(Toothpaste for Dinner)
The power of the internet not only let C&H be a success, but also got your co-writer Dave a visa. Over 130.000 fans gave their signature for him. An act of despair or did you really believe in this “campaign”?
Dave’s visa application was denied the first time around because they didn’t believe a webcomic was legitimate enough. So among other things, we started an online petition, printed out all the signatures and sent it to the immigration offices. They gave him the visa just a few days later. It’s the first time an online petition has ever actually accomplished anything.
Always my last question: My blog is called “LangweileDich.net” which means something like “bebored.not”. What do you do, when you feel bored?
I’m rarely ever bored. Boredom is a state of mind that can be easily fixed by doing something. Write your grandma an email. Go for a walk. Start a webcomic.
(The Team: Dave, Matt, Rob & Kris)
Mittlerweile gibt es die Comics und weiteren Irrsinn der vier Jungs auch in Buchform.