Grrl Scouts :Stone Ghosts Interview questions 3/15/22 – 4/10/22
Interviewer: Anthony Andujar Jr
Interviewee: Jim Mahfood
- You’ve been working on Grrl Scouts and its many iterations since 1995. For readers that are new to your universe, what is Grrl Scouts generally about?
JM: Grrl Scouts is about three girls that live in a fictional town called Freak City that deal weed and go on psychedelic adventures. They’re basically a female version of the A-Team.
- What was the development and inspiration that went into your latest installment Grrl Scouts: Stone Ghost?
JM: Well, I wanted to do something completely different with this series from previous works. I wanted to set the story in outer space and make it more of a psychedelic, kind of cosmic type thing. I also want to introduce a brand new Grrl Scout character. That’s where Dio comes in. I was interested in having the main protagonist be sort of a heart broken character; a bit more sensitive than we’ve seen from the other Grrl Scouts. And finally, I wanted to introduce a really fun and bizarre cast of supporting characters, both with the good guys and the bad guys.
- Your style has evolved and changed throughout the years, and can be seen through each installment of Grrl Scouts. What was the creative and aesthetic process like for this particular series and how does it compare to your previous work within the series?
JM: Yeah, at this point it seems like my style is just sort of evolving on its own throughout the years. I don’t really put much thought into it or plan anything out. It’s basically from just drawing nonstop for the last 30 years, trying new things, new techniques, that sort of thing. I definitely wanted to approach this series with a very fun and vibrant aesthetic. I knew I was going to pencil, ink, hand-letter, and for the first time, color the entire thing myself. Basically just take control and make the whole project mine, which is what all my creator-owned works seem to be. That’s where I do my best work, when I can fully be me.
- What are the difficulties that came with crafting this particular installment? Was the writing/illustration process similar to previous processes in your earlier entries? Was it all illustrated first, Marvel Method? Or was it scripted first?
JM: I don’t ever really find the work to be difficult. It’s just a huge chunk of time to produce this sort of thing. It stews in my mind for maybe a year or so. I keep notebooks and write down all my ideas, I create the characters and design them, I come up with the various situations I wanna put them in, and I break down each issue of the series and what I want to see happen in those issues. The whole point of the series was to introduce a new character and have that character go through a complete arc; with fun, emotion, love, comedy, violence, and ridiculous psychedelic absurdity interlaced throughout.
I write a brief script for myself for each issue, and then I start laying out each issue in sketchbook thumbnail fashion. After that I get to the actual boards and start penciling and inking everything. Then I scan the work, I add some coloring digitally here and there, and then I send everything off to my designer and she puts the book together.
- Dio is the protagonist of the Stone Ghost series. What made Dio as a character, a solid choice for you to center the story around?
JM: Well, I wanted to do something completely different with this series, like I said before. I wanted to introduce a brand new Grrl Scout, and I knew that character was going to be the great great great great great granddaughter of the first original Grrl Scout, who dates back to feudal Japan. I knew that Dio was going to be a bit of a heartbroken character. She’s going through a lot. She’s on a mission to recover her dead boyfriend’s ashes, and along the way a whole bunch of crazy shit gets thrown at her. It’s her ability to deal with these things, with the help of a new supporting cast and interesting oddball characters, and pull through to the other side of learning something and changing as a person. She’s definitely not like the other three Grrl Scout characters I’ve already established. She’s a bit more sensitive, a bit more subdued, and she’s definitely got her own thing going on.
- Were there any albums that came to mind when crafting Stone Ghost? If not albums, what tracks in particular helped to craft this book? And have you ever thought about having spotify playlists for each project you put out for your listeners to read along to?
JM: Yes, I normally put a soundtrack in each issue of my comic books, but I started my own podcast a couple years ago called Skull Funk Radio, which is me basically making free mix tapes for the world to enjoy. Skull Funk is definitely the soundtrack to this new Grrl Scouts series. People can check it out for free at SkullFunkRadio.Fireside.FM or on Spotify.
- When illustrating the pages for Stone Ghosts, what were the challenges that came with it and what methods did you work around it? As for your body of work, what are the challenges with multitasking the majority of the creative duties at this stage in your career and how do you keep afloat creatively?
JM: It takes a tremendous amount of self discipline to stay creative and get to the drawing table literally every single day. I’ve been at this for 25 years now as a career, constantly staying motivated and staying inspired to make art, comics, illustrations, commissions, and everything else. But, I truly love it! This is what I wanted to do since I was a little kid. It took a while, but I figured out how to manifest this into a reality, and make this my basic reason for getting up every single day. The actual work can sometimes become a grind. It can sometimes become tedious and exhausting. But, at the end of the day when you see the finished product, the printed comic book in your hand, that you basically made from scratch…man! It’s totally worth it.
- As the series reaches its conclusion, will this iteration of Grrl Scouts be the last time readers see Dio and her sidekick Natas?
JM: Definitely not. Dio and her supporting cast are now a permanent part of the Grrl Scouts mythology. I’ve got lots more stories with these wacky characters planned!
- Will there be more Grrl Scouts spin offs centered on other characters? If so, what would you hope to dabble in conceptually or genre-wise? And is there anything you’d like to see more of within the comics medium as a whole?
JM: Yes, I’ve got a bunch of spinoff stuff planned for future comic stories. I’m pretty excited about it! I’m going to be returning to Freak City and dealing with the original three Grrl Scouts; Dio and her whole crew will also make a return. I want to introduce even more new characters, play around, and have lots of fun. As far as genres go, I would love to eventually do something with horror; most of my work is always rooted in comedy and action, so that will continue to be a part of my aesthetic.
And as far as what I’d like to see more of within the comics medium as a whole…
just more originality. More creators are really taking the reigns and just writing and drawing their own stuff and being true to their own vision. The corporate structure of the big two doesn’t really interest me that much anymore. I want to see unique voices using this medium, and pushing it as far as it can be pushed.
- What projects would you like for your readers to check out or keep an eye out for that’s coming down the pipeline in the near future?
JM: Well, the whole Grrl Scouts: Stone Ghost series wraps up with issue six, dropping on April 20. After that we have the whole Stone Ghost collected trade paperback debuting on June 22. It’s packed full of all six issues, bonus content, and a big sketchbook section. It’s gonna be real sweet! After that, I have a new Grrl Scouts weekly series I’m going to be doing online. I can’t say much about it yet, it hasn’t been announced, but I’m super excited about it! I’m going to just continue to have fun and write and draw my own stories with these awesome characters. People can stay up to date with my daily adventures by following me @jimmahfood on IG and twitter.