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Cosmic Treadmill – ‘ACTION PRESIDENTS’ #1 with RYAN DUNLAVEY and FRED VAN LENTE

While some might be inclined to be tongue-in-cheek about learning and American History, I am not!  I am unapologetically a nerd about the words of our forefathers.  What better way to celebrate and honor Veteran’s Day this week than to pay tribute to the ultimate veteran himself, the first President George Washington in the bombastic comic book stylings of our friends Ryan Dunlavey and Fred Van Lente (Action Philosophers!, Comic Book History of Comics).

These gentlemen were kind enough to give us a preview of their new series, Action Presidents! and Ryan joins us to tell us how the book got going!

The inimitable style and humor of Action Presidents is the first Evil Twin Comics venture to be released as a digital first and was originally commissioned by the nonprofit Reading with Pictures organization that advocates the use of comics and comic book storytelling to promote literacy. How many of us got excited about reading with Archie or The Avengers as a kid?

Consider reading up about what RWP is up to, especially if your child has trouble with traditional books.

Action Presidents: Washington will be released on Wednesday, November 13th on ComiXology. Ryan’s cartooning paired with Fred’s well research and oftentimes hilarious writing educates children of all ages about our first President and even Washington’s definition of ‘freedom’ which may surprise you!

There’s even a panel on the last page that references “Spider-Man No More!”.

What more can you ask for out of a text book, really?

Fred was locked down at the Library of Congress researching presidents past, present, and future (possibly) this past weekend, so Ryan was gracious enough to provide us with more than we asked for, a full fledged interview about the book! Thanks so much, Ryan and we’ll see you around election time, Fred!

FOG!: Is this the first Reading with Pictures book?

Ryan Dunlavey: No, there was an anthology a few years back (titled, shockingly, (Reading With Pictures) that we did a short for about the history of Educational & non-fiction comics. Most of the material from that story ended up in a slightly different presentation for our book The Comic Book History of Comics.

Is this your first digital first comic? Your goal is to release a collected edition down the road! We think that is a smart way to go!

This is our first ‘self-published’ digital-first comic. I did some digital-first comics for Marvel a few years ago and I believe Fred did as well. I wish I could say it was an insightful marketing decision to go digital-first but truthfully Fred and I come from the Indiana Jones school of self-publishing and just make shit up as we go along.

We talk to the ComiXology people a lot and we’ve seen a number of friends do well with digital-first so we figured what the hell, lets give it a shot.

We’ve done pretty fine self-publishing printed single issues in the past (financially speaking) but it does take a serious time commitment to send it through the proper distribution channels and make that work in addition to the time it takes actually make the comics content and a combo of our already busy work schedules, impatience to see the book released and shameless laziness.

Who’s your next President, are you going down the line?

We’re going in historical order, though not every president will get a full issue’s worth of material.

John Adams is in #2 and he gets the full issue, as will all the founding fathers and the first 5 or 6 issues will make the first print collection. Fred has finished the script to #2 and I’m drawing it now for a January 2014 release.

Did the Educational Team (at Reading With Pictures) give you much direction as to what points to hit in the book?

Some, but mostly we just did what we’ve always done with books like Action Philosophers! – stick to the facts while making fun of everything and everybody.

They were more or less hands-off with the story.

Two minor visual gags were removed from The Graphic Textbook version, but they did make it to the digital edition – try and guess what they were!

Great cover, Ryan!

Thanks!

In true Evil Twin Comics style I kind of just made it up on the fly when we came up with the “Dead Cherry Tree Edition” joke (for a limited run of black and white comics we printed to bring to comic conventions but aren’t sold in stores), but it ended up working for the digital version too so we kept it.

Thanks for the interview, Ryan! We’re checking this out again tomorrow and handing it to our kids and parents. We love a comic that is educational and good for everyone!

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