Creating Comics: Marc Jackson, the Man from GOOF!

Goof #0 - CoverEarlier this year, comic creator Marc Jackson turned digital publisher and launched GOOF!, a new online subscription only title that features a host of comics talents.

Three issues in, GOOF! is going from strength to strength, but it’s a project we have yet to give the attention it deserves, although we did trail its launch. Fortunately, Phil Boyce over at the brilliant Oink! Blog and Beyond! – originally set up to document the fondly-remembered weekly humour title, but which has since covered much more – has not been so remiss.

With his kind permission, here’s a slightly updated version of the interview with Marc he posted just before the comic’s launch in July, and we’ve also included links to his reviews of the first three issues of this brave new venture…

Marc Jackson - Self-PortraitMarc Jackson is the creator of “Lenny the Lettuce” and “Dawgtective” for Beano, as well as self-published titles such as Here Comes Cat Stevens! and Robo Hats. he’s also the organiser of the yearly Macc-Pow! comics con in Macclesfield.

A busy man, he’s now turned his attention to bringing us GOOF!, a brand new monthly comic heavily inspired by the one and only Oink! 

This isn’t just me being all fan-ish and seeing a similarity between this new comic and our favourite from the 1980s, Marc is on record about how Oink! was the main inspiration behind GOOF! and speaking with him, it’s clear this is something all pig pals should get very excited about.

This really does sound like the closest we’ll come to a brand new Oink! – and now you can hear all about it in this interview with the man himself.

GOOF! is a brand new monthly comic delivered to your digital device, heavily inspired by Oink!, chock full of funny strips from some top cartoonists, the return of a favourite character created by Lew Stringer, with the goal of delivering comics that are truly for everyone, young and old.

Goof #1 CoverThe Oink! Blog and Beyond: What was the initial idea behind GOOF!?  What was that spark which gave birth to the concept?

Marc: Well, I wanted to create a new comic strip for myself and I was trying to figure out how to put it out there.

Originally, it was going to be four panels each comic on Instagram, but I really wanted to see if I could get it published and looked at[the US online syndication site] GoComics.  I needed a number of strips to get me started then a discussion online that involved Lew Stringer and David Lloyd, amongst others, got me thinking about an all-ages version of Aces Weekly, but something that had the edginess of Oink! as opposed to say, Beano – and it kind of went from there.

TOBaB: You’ve been teasing images on the comic’s Instagram account recently and there’s a very definite Oink! vibe to the proceedings.  You’ve mentioned to me before how it (and Lew Stringer in particular) inspired your cartooning career, but for GOOF! specifically did Uncle Pigg’s piggy pink publication have a direct influence?

Marc: Yep!  As I said, Oink! was more of my initial blueprint, something wild, crazy where each cartoonist could do what they wanted, within the realm of comics for everyone.

The comic has changed by the very nature of who I have involved and what they have brought to the table.  My GOOFs have taken the comic and made it their own!

Macclesfield Express interview with Marc Jackson

Not only Marc and Lew Stringer, but check out what classic comic gets a mention as inspiration behind GOOF!

TOBaB: You’ve also mentioned recent digital titles Moose Kid Comics from Jamie Smart and Aces Weekly.  What was it about those particular titles beyond their success that stood out to you when putting GOOF! together?

Marc: I liked the fact they both embrace modern technology, whilst still remaining true to comics that we all grew up with and acknowledging the thrill of a regular comic.

With GOOF! we launched at my comics event MACC-POW! and half the creators involved were there in person.  This gave new readers the chance to sign up, read the comic and then go and chat to their new favourite creator instantly.  I think that is a first for comics right there!

Goof #2 CoverTOBaB: You’ve gone to great lengths to state GOOF! is an “all ages” comic.  Personally, I think the main reason I enjoyed the comics so much as I did as a kid was they didn’t speak down to us, which was evident when I’ve read through them again as a (much older) adult.  Oink! for example may have had a target audience of “precocious 8-11 year olds” in its pre-release marketing, but the creators made a conscious decision to treat the younger readers as equals.  Was this the same thinking behind GOOF! – or was it simply you wanted to make a truly family comic?

Marc: I suppose the tagline ‘Comics for Everyone’ is more in keeping now.  I want children to enjoy the comics, but the adults to have something in the comic for them to enjoy as well.

We don’t talk down, we encourage the children to discover this crazy world of comics and hopefully there is something for everyone and for this title, equal parts comic that might appeal more directly to girls as well as young boys.

TOBaB: You’ve had work published in Beano and released a large selection of self-published comic books before now, but here we have an ongoing monthly title. That’s a huge commitment. What’s the biggest challenge in setting up a regular comic such as this?

Marc: Ha, making sure I crack the whip and get the comics in on time of course!  I just wanted to make sure that GOOF! was familiar and surprising and that the comics you will get to see inside really make you smile.

Part of GOOF's line-up - "Derek the Troll" by Lew Stringer

Part of GOOF’s line-up – “Derek the Troll” by Lew Stringer

A panel from Nona the Ninth by Emmeline Pidgen for GOOF! #2

A panel from Nona the Ninth by Emmeline Pidgen for GOOF! #2

TOBaB: Can you tell us a bit more about the talent you’ve been able to assemble?  How did you go about selecting the team you now have and was there anything in particular that made them GOOF!-y?

Marc: As with everything I do that involves creators other than myself, I start with Lew Stringer and go from there!

Jim Boswell's Stick Pig!  That got your attention didn't, pig pals? it, pig pals?

Jim Boswell’s Stick Pig!  That got your attention didn’t, pig pals? it, pig pals?

I was thrilled how many folks came back to me and wanted in from the start.  Creators such as Lew, Ken Niimura (who co-created I Kill Giants for Image and has a wonderfully playful Japanese style), Emmeline Pidgen, Observer comics prize winner Tor Freeman (who has a character in her story called Elfis who is an elf with an Elvis quiff), Jim Boswell (who hits us with Stick Pig!), Rick Eades, Joe Matthews, Andrea Bell (who shows us all How to be Cool), Dan Moynihan and even the legendary Fred Hembeck are all creating comics and characters for GOOF!

I’ve been fortunate enough to reach out with great success to all of these cartoonists, plus Spanish creators Lorenzo Montatore and Genie Espinosa, and Mari Ahokoivu from Finland (who I shared pages with for a Finnish anthology comic early this year).

Each one has a unique style and really make GOOF! pop out the screen.

Newcomers Jessica on Paper and Dick Vincent are dipping their toes into the world of all-ages comics for the first time. Fulton Beal from the US brings a real Ren and Stimpy vibe to his comic “Flot and Zot”, whilst Canadian Andreas Schuster (who did work in Moose Kid) introduces the fantastic “Dwarf and Duck”.

I also have British born, US resident and MAD magazine newcomer Luke McGarry doing a comic.  His dad Steve McGarry worked on Oink! at one point.

Space Stupids by Nick Brokenshire, for GOOF! #1

“Space Stupids” by Nick Brokenshire, for GOOF! #1

Donald Dogsbody by Marc Jackson for GOOF #2

Donald Dogsbody by Marc Jackson for GOOF #2

TOBaB: This might be a big cheeky, but can you tease us a little more?  What should we be looking forward to in the first issue and then beyond for the first year of the comic?

Marc: Phew!  Besides all that?  You want MORE??  Well, Lew is bringing back his Derek the Troll character which is great, I am close to having a cartoonist who worked for Marvel in the 1980s on their What-The?! title sign up to be involved and as well as “Donald Dogsbody”, I might be doing a series of fake ad strips featuring a recycling superhero called Captain Cardboard!

Over the next year I want to establish a quality comic that comics fans new and old really embrace.

If in a year’s time my GOOF! character is Time magazine’s man of the year, then my work is done!

TOBaB: Have you got a favourite moment from creating the comic so far?  Some occasion when you’ve just sat back and grinned from ear-to-ear about what you’re doing here?

Marc: When the comics started coming into my inbox, that was a great day indeed!  Oh and when Mark Millar (of Kick Ass fame) signed up for our mailing list, that was a thrill!  I hope he likes it.

TOBaB: Finally, a question about a topic obviously close to your heart.  To quote you, you’ve said this is an “amazing time for the medium” of comics.  I couldn’t agree more and have seen the UK comics scene in particular evolving and expanding into all sorts of output for a few years now.  

But what makes you say this yourself?

Marc: There just seems to be so many folks making comics that cover so many topics, styles and approaches.

Visually, cartoonists are doing amazing things through storytelling and panel structure.

GOOF! has its roots in the past but fully embraces showing readers how amazing and different comics can look.

Since very graciously answering these questions Marc also informed me there’s going to be an honest-to-gosh letters page, as well as a feature called “GOOF! of the Month” which will spotlight one of the cartoonists. 

Marc believes it’s really important to show the readers who makes their comics and how they can find out more about them.  He likens it to an old feature called Bullpen Bulletins from classic Marvel comics he grew up with and I think it could be a great addition to what sounds like a brilliant package already.

Marc also made the point of telling me every issue will be released on a Saturday and that this was important to him because his own childhood comics came out every week or fortnight on Saturdays

Mine too!

Small things like this may seem incidental to some, but to many of us they’re the icing on the cake and show the attention to detail Marc is applying to this new comic and the love he has of those favourites that have inspired him.

• A full year of GOOF! will cost you a mere £12. To sign up head to the Goof! website right now

• Read Phil Boyce’s reviews of GOOF! Issue Zero | Issue One | Issue Two

GOOF! and all related imagery and content © Marc Jackson 2018 | Strips © respective creators

Thanks again to Phil Boyce for permission to cross post this interview

Categories: Comic Creator Interviews, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Features

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