Interviewee: Zach M. Stafford
Interviewer: Anthony Andujar Jr
Q1. You’ve been working on comic-strips for some time under the name, Extra Fabulous. What inspired you to make comic strips? Was comics always a medium that you were into?
ZMS: I’ve always loved drawing goofy things. I spent the entirety of my time in public school and college doodling stuff on worksheets and folders. I was, like many others, told it was not going to lead to any consistent income and I should stop because my skills were nothing of note. I did have a few teachers, Mrs. Green, Mr. Drewitt, and Mrs. Harper, who told me I could achieve consistent income, and that my skills were indeed worthy of note. They were largely the reason why I maintained a D average throughout my educational career as I spent the rest of my focus on doodling crap. There came a point where I was unsure how to make a living from this and decided that I should probably join the military. The military told me I couldn’t join because I am allergic to ants, so naturally I went to school for music. It was after I graduated that I started drawing comics. I have no idea why things worked out the way they did. I am sorry it isn’t a cohesive or interesting story. I apologize for wasting your time.
Q2. Were there any inspirations from various mediums aside from comics that you had prior to making comic strips?
ZMS: For a long time as a kid I lived for the full-color Sunday newspaper comics. Those things were freaking awesome. It was a double-page spread of just the most hilariously mediocre comic strips one after another, packed full of references and humor that an 8-year-old couldn’t possibly understand, yet I was enthralled. Eventually, at the school computer lab on one of those colorful transparent IMac computers I discovered webcomics. I would click through Penny Arcade or Toothpaste for Dinner for as long as I was allowed. Into college, I would read Cyanide and Happiness and Perry Bible Fellowship, Left Handed Toons, and Buttersafe. I wanted to give people those same feelings I felt when I would load those web pages and see a new comic posted.
Q3. How did Extra Fabulous come into existence?
ZMS: I was In the throes of woes. I had a job in the meat department in a giant grocery store chain and I was cutting a t-bone steak for an angry customer when my fingers hit the bandsaw. It was very frowned upon to do stuff like that because that meant they had to restart their “Days Since Somebody Put Their Hand In The Bandsaw” number tracker, which wasn’t even placed in a public-facing location so I don’t know what the big deal was. “I then went home and drew comics and became rich and famous” is probably what you’re expecting to hear me say, but as I told you earlier, I had stuck my hand in a bandsaw and couldn’t hold a pen for a while. After I healed, I began drawing and posting comics online. It was the most fulfilling thing I had ever experienced, so I kept doing it.
Q4. You dabble in what seems to be both traditional and digital when creating the strips. What is your process when crafting the comics and dialogue? Do you write a short script and draw it all out?
ZMS: I don’t enjoy making second drafts. I feel like a big part of the magic of making is often that rawness that comes from the moment. I am also a very lazy person and reading the same joke more than once makes me cringe and second-guess myself to the point where I don’t want to share it anymore.
Q5. One of the most enjoyable things that your comics deliver is outrageously out-there humor. It’s something akin to Adult Swim where the short strips are full of wacky, wickedly ridiculous tongue and cheek skits. How difficult is it to write comedy in your strips?
ZMS: Something I’ve come to find about humor is that you don’t have to have a great joke to make something humorous, especially in comics. We can use the drawing itself to add humor, we can pile mediocre joke after mediocre joke to add up to something somewhat humorous, we can lean on shticks and memes or current events. Once you open yourself to what I call the “Flow of Stupid” it becomes easy to do.
Q6. When crafting comic-strips, how did social media affect the way you create? What are the pressures that come with creating comic strips amongst the current digital landscape of social media?
ZMS: Social media has ruined a lot of things in regards to being creative online. Because we’re encouraged to shovel content into the churning feed, it’s become prudent to place less effort into the work and lean more on what’s easy to mass-produce, because in a lot of cases, the effect is almost the same. Whatever the algorithm is which dictates our engagement, it’s apparent that it doesn’t often factor quality into its calculations. Instead, it appears to look more for “consistency”, which has never and can’t ever be an element of creativity, unless you are some kind of freak who enjoys making everyone else feel bad.
Q7. You have a debut graphic novel titled, Good Comics for Bad People: An Extra Fabulous Collection, consisting of 240 pages of your comic strips of the past few years. What made Skybound/ Image Comics the publisher of choice? How did that come about and what was the process like compiling selected works for this book?
ZMS: Skybound is great and is very near to my heart because they were the only publishing company that was willing to even consider putting my dick jokes in book form. They did so much work making this book happen, it was a really great experience getting to know and work with them. They are also a really cool company that does way, way bigger and more important things than my silly little book, so I feel honored to be a part of their awesome catalog.
Q8. Were there any strips that you wanted to get included into the book that didn’t get to make it in?
ZMS: There were a few that couldn’t be included for copyright reasons, such as one where Goku makes love to Spider-Man. Toei and Marvel Entertainment would probably pool their resources to hire a team of hitmen to kill me and my family if we put that comic in the book, so after talking about it we decided not to.
Q9. Do you have a favorite strip within the collection that you’re most proud of?
ZMS: As I’ve stated before, Goku making love to Spider-Man comic couldn’t be included in the book. The next comic after that, however, probably would be the Sonic making love to Eggman comic, which for similar reasons is also not in the book. I’m sorry, this question is making me sad and I need to move on.
Q10. Are there any projects down the line that readers should keep an eye out for? And where can they find your work to stay up to date?
ZMS: A big project I am currently working on is restoring a home I recently bought sight-unseen that should definitely be bulldozed to the ground if it wouldn’t be an environmental disaster due to the huge amounts of lead-based paint and asbestos inside. Keep an eye out for any growths that might appear on my body due to exposure to hazardous materials while renovating this giant piece of crap. Even though the crumbling foundation of this house will definitely kill me soon, I am extremely fortunate to finally be out from under the soul-crushing B.S. that is the rental industry. My work can be found on all social media, but mostly on my Patreon. Thanks so much!