Eisner and Harvey Award nominee Paszkiewicz sent us some preview pages from his upcoming Arsenic Lullaby release, The Devil's Only Friend. Then gave every reader a coupon code for 20% off everything in the store.
So here it is, The Weirding's interview with Arsenic Lullaby writer and illustrator, Douggy P.
The Weirding: How's durn? How's your mom and them?
Douglas Paszkiewicz: I haven't seen my real mother since she put me up for adoption when I was 4. But thanks for bringing that up.
TW: I understand you decided to be a cartoonist. What crippling childhood incident sealed your fate?
DP: I don't recall ever deciding or even agreeing to it. I'm just really good at it. Frankly, most nights I'd rather be doing anything else.
TW: I also understand you used to be one of the Usual Gang of Idiots. I take it from what I've read from you since leaving that it was an acrimonious split. What happened there?
Douglas Paszkiewicz: Being in Mad was a real honor and it looks great on the resume, but that was the extent of the benefit. The magazine had no interest in promoting new talent, or anything new as far as I could tell. Their focus was reprinting pages, stories and
books from 30-50 years ago. They had no plan for growth or a general direction for the future and until I had a sit-down with them, apparently it never dawned on them that they needed one. They are content to spin their wheels and behave like a Mad Magazine fan club rather than a national magazine publisher. The blank stares I got when I sat down with them a few months before leaving altogether and asked what kind of material they are looking for, what direction they wanted to go in, was only slightly less mortifying than the answers I got.
I am known for doing a lot of edgy, and even over the edge material, but that wasn't what I was trying to do at Mad. I have no problem if someone wants to water down my work, or have me do work safe for 10-16 years old. But they couldn't even verbalize what they wanted, what direction they wanted to take the magazine… anything. They got out yet another collection of 30 year-old material with 30 year-old jokes, pointed at some and gave me, "You know... funny... you think it's gonna be one thing - but it's really something else!" These are answers you expect from a vanity project funded by an orthodontist going through a mid-life crisis, not from the publisher of a national comedy magazine. Even the most base of comedic writing terminology were apparently not in his vocabulary - juxtaposition gags, misdirection gags, high concept premises - these are all terms even a beginning open-mic comedian knows! None of that came out of their mouths; I got, "You know... funny."
I do this for a living. I don't have time to keep throwing story after story after story their way and relying on whatever is in the coffee that day as the gauge of what they are looking for. When all is said and done, I make more money publishing my own work and I don't have my fans coming up and complaining that they bought Mad because I was in it and the rest of the magazine was amateur hour.
They, as I pointed out to them, publish monthly. They are not going to, in 2015, be able to put out covers with movie parodies and a magazine with time-sensitive jokes. By the time that issue of Mad comes out, the movie is out of the theaters and the news story is long-forgotten. They had no answers and looked as though they never considered the dilemma in the first place! One of the pages an editor pointed to out of the 30 year-old collection was the old Mad routine of using actual photos and putting word balloons over them - having the people in the pictures say wacky things. Uhm... that's called a MEME and people can get that for free 24/7 on any social network newsfeed!
They had no leadership, no vision, no direction, and no ambition. That wasn't the Mad I signed up for. My time in the long term is better spent elsewhere.
TW: Jesus Christ. So, what is "Arsenic Lullaby" and why should any, just anyone at all, give a shit?
DP: Arsenic Lullaby is best described at a cross between The Far Side and a John Carpenter movie. Each issue is a collection of weird, despicable, and very funny stories. This is a book for evil jerks who are tired of the same old bullshit, and tired of being told that Family Guy is edgy.
TW: Family Guy, huh? You really don't want a job anywhere with anyone, ever again, do you? Is Arsenic Lullaby digital or print? Why; what made you choose that direction? Will you ever change your mind or is this more of a principle thing?
DP: They are print. Some are digital. I might release more issues digitally.
TW: Do you have much merch, mang? Got some swag to go along with your project or just comic books?
Douglas Paszkiewicz: I have shirts, prints, stickers -- all the usual merch. I also have a half-hour animated episode on DVD that we made a couple years ago. We'll be making more animation soon. I have an online store. In fact, anyone who reads this and uses the coupon code -Weirding- gets 20% off. They can also have their comic book stores order them through their distributors. The Company Name is Arsenic Lullaby Publishing (I like to keep things simple).
I made a blog with a list of 10 other places to find me… and posted it on Facebook about a dozen times. But with Facebook being the cunt that it is with its newsfeed algorithm, many people have still not seen it.
TW: Last word for now: How long can you stick it out as an independent? Do you still take on contract work or is Arsenic Lullaby your magnum opus, your baby, that you refuse to let go of?
DP: I'll be an independent as long as it makes sense, but I have no issue, on principle, against doing something else or selling anything off. I sold off some characters to Comedy Central last year… didn't bother me one bit. Slept like a baby knowing I wouldn't have to draw them anymore.
TW: Bonus Question: Why are there no Sasquatch featured in your magnum opus. Is this an anatomical limitation of the artist or an aversion to copious amounts of hair?
DP: There is a Yeti, doesn't that count? It's basically the same thing. You some sort of zoologist or what? No one's ever happy. It's like when some guy was complaining the Nazi uniforms I drew weren't accurate and the SS wore some other kind of coat... hey, then go find someone else making comics with cartoon Nazi's and talking Doughnuts... asshole.
TW: Yetis do count, actually; they're just another name for Sasquatch! I think I have a boner now. It is also hairy. ANYwho... thanks so much for chatting with us here to The Weirding! I hope it was fun and insightful and you'll do it again some time.
Douglas Paszkiewicz is few things but a cartoonist forwarding the Bigfoot agenda is one of them. Be sure to check out his site and - for fuck's sake - buy something!
This past week or so, we sat down with Arsenic Lullaby creator and Comicdom Award nominee, Douglas Paszkiewicz to discuss his time at MAD Magazine, how things are working out as an independent comics publisher, and more. The witty banter and on-page chemistry unleashed in this single interview document is sure to be enough to swell your nether-regions with heat but there is more - oh, so much... more.