Yesterday I received an advance copy of the series and thought to myself, this is something I should be watching on Adult Swim.
This hysterical psychedelically tale is about a loner brother living in Brooklyn, who has a drug-addled beaver as a roommate that can talk, and a female ninja living next door.
I requested to interview the creator Turner Lange because I wanted to get into the mindset of how he came about to create such a fun, silly, and crazy kind of book.
What inspired Wally Fresh?
The Adventures Of Wally Fresh was inspired by the time I spent living in New York. Between 2001 and 2008. It’s a love letter to all the stuff that inspired me at that time; John Hughes movies, Jet li Hong Kong Action films, Kevin Smith, Seinfeld, John Woo, Alfred Hitchcock, and The Mighty Boosh.
The jokes and characters were kind of running conversations I’d have with my friends. In terms of style and tone, I had just come across the work of Edgar Wright, Jessica Stevenson and Simon Pegg with the television show Spaced, which really opened me up to that idea of the “extraordinarily mundane.” They had managed to create a world where normal rules didn’t really apply and hyperbole , metaphor, and simile were kind of the governing bodies of the reality.
Which was cool because that’s kinda what life feels like in your twenties anyway (I think). The advantage of working within the realm of comics is having the ability to push those ideas to even greater extremes. Because once it’s on the page I’m only limited by what I can or can’t draw. In terms of look and aesthetic, I’m a big fan of Jamie Hewlett and the work he did with Tank Girl. When I came across that series it was definitely a breath of fresh air. The way he would break rules and create characters that resonated, is something I tried to imbue into my own work.
Why is his sidekick aka roommate a beaver?
When I was in elementary school, we spent a year doing Native American studies, one of the topics covered was spirit totems. As part of the class, we were given different animals to study and examine , and the Beaver is one that kinda stuck out in my mind and stayed with me. A big part of the book is the use of its characters as symbols one of the things I like to do as a storyteller is present the audience with symbols that are multi-functioning (meaning there is no one specific viewpoint to its interpretation) and I try to make room for the audience to bring their own viewpoints and interpretations to the work as well.
Also as a storytelling device, it opens the world up for possibilities. Wally isn’t bound by the rules of regular life (which is what he craves). He’s now free to kinda experience the extraordinary in a way that makes sense(within the confines of the story). And for anyone who’s lived in New York, stranger things have happened.
Crystal is a serial killer or being controlled by Mr. Shadow? What made you decide to make her a deadly woman?
With the Crystal character, I thought it would be really cool to start things off with a Femme fatale. I’m a big fan of old Humphrey Bogart films (Big Sleep, Maltese Falcon, Casa Blanca) and one character that’s really amazing is Mary Astor’s portrayal of Brigid O’Shaunessy in The Maltese Falcon. She delivers a performance that has all these exciting dimensions (vulnerability, strength, power, grace, cunning) all just bubbling beneath this kind of seemingly Damsel in distress surface. So kind of riffing on that setup I tried to modernize the idea and create a character that hopefully charms and surprises the audience.
How many volumes of the series will there be? And will you have a spin-off of any of the leading characters?
Okay, so this is a tricky one. So when I started this I tried to build it in a way to give it an overarching storyline. As the audience moves through each adventure, a bigger piece of the puzzle is revealed. Everything is leading towards a big showdown with Mr. Shadow and his army of baddies. Right now there are 2 1/2 volumes completed (along with an origin story) that we are gearing for release. With Plots and outlines for at least another 3 volumes. As we get deeper into the world of Wally Fresh we find out more about each of the characters past, and how they relate to one another.
In terms of spin-offs, we do have plans for Annuals where we get to examine the other characters (who they are and where they come from). And the way Volume 2 ends, there are a specific set of characters that I’d like to spin off into a sci-fi series, fingers crossed. There’s also an animated short floating around somewhere.
Your bio states that your work has been seen on TV, Films, art galleries and opera houses. Can you name all your projects in details, so fans and viewers can check them out?
Sure thing! I had an opportunity to work on a few episodes of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey as a Storyboard artist. There is also a traveling art show being curated by the People at L.A. Arts Share devoted to the Black Panthers I have some work in.
What made you want to make Wally neighbor a female and a ninja?
Another cool idea I thought might be interesting was gender role swapping. I think it’s kind of the formula to have the dashing hero who saves the damsel in distress, so I thought it might be cool to reverse it and swap roles. Why not have Wally function as the Damsel in distress and Valerie as the Beautiful Dashing Heroine.
What is Wally story? Why is he so lonely?
All will be revealed in Wally Fresh #0 (I don’t want to give away too much but it all has to do with a fiancee, a wild panther, and a jealous rival)
Is this comic a reflection of personal issues you dealt with? If so, can you go into details?
Hmmm. Well, I drew a lot of my own experiences for inspiration. I think one of the greatest things about New York is it feels like a place where anything can and does happen. And one of the things I tried to do when creating the work was blending all the elements and ideas I love as an audience member about story and character. If you look at Wally he’s kind of a mish-mash of Indiana Jones, Wayne Campbell, Magnum PI, James bond, and Shaft (spun for comedy).
Cuz one of the things I really hate in stories is when our average everyday heroes are thrown into a dangerous situation what happens is a lot of the time the characters lack that human insight of “hey this is a dangerous place we gotta get out of here!”and instead the response is “let’s rush into that burning building cuz the story dictates we have to!” I thought it would be interesting if our hero tries to avoid trouble at all costs, but inevitably despite his best intentions he can’t help but find himself in the middle of it.
Which I think a lot of people can relate to. Also in modern Storytelling there is this kind of formulaic approach to portraying people of color which are something I consciously tried to avoid. (I try to let the ethnicity of the characters dictate their response to situations rather than dictate the situations themselves) meaning Wally and Valerie are Heroes and Heroines of color but they are not bound by the stereotypes and circumstances that we often see some ethnically diverse characters fall into(due to lack of sensitivity or imagination). Valerie loves the sex pistols just as much as she loves Anita Baker, and letting those two facets of her personality clash and intertwine I think creates something unique.
How did you come to partner with Rosarium Publishing?
The Book had received some praise from a couple different sources and Travis Bundy (Creators Edge) brought it to Bill Campbell’s attention. I talked to Bill and he told me about Rosarium and when I saw what he had been building, I was really excited and honored to hop on board.
Planning on attending Comic-Con?
We’re planning for an L.A press tour in October now. And there is a possibility of an appearance at San Diego Comic-Con with my brother and his book Warp Zone.
The Adventures of Wally Fresh, Vol. 1: Cupid’s Arrow by Turner Lange will be available to the public October 5, 2016 for $14.95 via Rosarium Publishing (Paperback and Digitial).