Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of your comic book series, The Couch! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the series’ premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
David A. Byrne: The Couch is about a down and out psychiatrist in Megalopolis who finds himself with a superhero on his doorstep asking for help. The series follows the doctor’s attempts to not only help his own patients but manage his own messy life.
Matt Magill: David said it perfectly. What drew me to the story when David first presented it was the fact that it was so different from what’s on the shelves of your local comic shop right now. It’s probably a little cliché to call something a “fresh take” on anything, but this really is. The way we pitch it at conventions is that there are plenty of traditional superhero books out there that portray the grand battle with world-changing odds. This is the aftermath; how those involved deal with the consequences, emotionally, physically, psychologically, of those heated exchanges. It’s a story worth telling.
BD: What can you tell us about your shared creative process in bringing the series to life, and what (or who) have been some of your creative influences?
DAB: For this series, we have a great relationship and collaborative effort. Matt and I met through his brother who narrated the audiobook for my novel, Shady Place. We have a pretty good give and take and after working together for over a year, and I’m able to write the scripts in a way I know Matt will understand and even throw in options when I’m vague. He does a great job putting his own spin on things when I’m nondescript.
While I love comics and read a bunch of them, my influences are actually more from the TV world when it comes to writing this series. I grew up on The Simpsons, South Park, and Family Guy; I think it shines through in the irreverent humor I try to infuse the series with.
MM: It’s a little eerie how on the same page we are for most of the creative decisions regarding The Couch. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve posed something art-wise and it was already in David’s mind. That kind of relationship between creative individuals is so rare, and I’m thankful every day that we’re able to work so well together.
In terms of creative influences, I’m a child of '90s comic books, so a healthy dose of the Kubert brothers, Madureira, and Bachalo are always under the surface of my work, but even the less mainstream artists like Richard Moore, Wayne Reynolds, and Steve Ellis are omnipresent when I’m looking for inspiration.
BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from your work?
DAB: First, I always want them to be entertained, it doesn’t do any good to try to push a point across through comics in what feels like an academic or clinical manner. On a deeper level, I think we both want to show what appear to be these infallible characters with flaws we’d never expect. The flaws the world doesn’t see because they can’t show them, or it will compromise their ability to do their job or be taken as seriously. We’ve been using the tagline, “Even heroes need help sometimes,” and I think it fits what we are trying to get across with the series. As irreverent as some of the humor is, we do take mental health seriously and this is hopefully a way to show that in an accessible manner.
MM: I’d like to think we can show through The Couch that comics don’t have to be cookie-cutter generated and can really make you think. If this series helps people realize that everyone they meet, regardless of how “tough” they appear to be on the outside, has a silent battle they’re fighting, I think we’ll have done our jobs.
BD: You have released two issues of The Couch thus far. Do you have a certain number of issues planned for the series?
DAB: As of this interview, we actually have four completed issues! They are all available digitally and in print. We’re collecting these four issues into a trade that should be available by the end of the year. Our intent is to keep going indefinitely, if the story tells us it’s over, then we’ll end it, but right now I’ve got dozens of issues worth of stories and Matt even presented me with a great spinoff story.
MM: We’re both in it for the long haul! It’s easy when the creative relationship is so easy to navigate and the story is so good. I’ve seen a preview of what’s to come, and all I can say is that it’s only going to get better!
BD: If given the opportunity to expand your series into other entertainment mediums, in what format do you hope to see it adapted?
DAB: I’ve been told the series would make a great a TV show by readers, and I tend to agree. The way the stories unfold plays more toward long-form episodic television than film. I come from a screenwriting background, so I think it’s just part of how I formulate stories that lends to this kind of drawn out method where there’s more time spent with the characters and less of a whirlwind action pace.
MM: What David said; he’s the multimedia guru.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
DAB: I’m working on a vampire comic called Stake that I’d liken to Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Veronica Mars. Matt and I are also collaborating on a new project called Spy-DeerMan which is basically Bambi meets James Bond. I love Matt’s other new project, but I’ll let him tell you about it!
MM: I’ve got a weekly webcomic that I release every Friday on my Facebook and Tumblr called Masters of the Treehouse which takes the imagination and childhood whimsy of Calvin and Hobbes and mashes it up with Masters of the Universe in a way that hopefully creates a standalone sandbox to play in. I’m coming up on three years doing that, and I’m pretty happy with the all-ages stories I’ve been able to craft.
The project David was alluding to is Roll for Autism, a role-playing game system that I created to help teach social skills to autistic individuals. I’ve been playtesting it for about six months now with people both on and off the spectrum and it’s been a big success! I plan on working up a Kickstarter for the core rulebook and first Adventure Module early next year. You can find out more about that at my website, www.ohjeezcomics.wordpress.com.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about The Couch?
DAB: You can find more information at my website, www.davidabyrne.com, or by following me on Facebook or Instagram – Matt leaves most of the promotional stuff to me!