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KB: Yeah, I hear that. Napoleon was an awful man, terrible ambition and terrible actions, but he's like a history darling. And I contribute to that myself. But, you know, he was terrible. He's gotten to be kind of cool.
The L:: It's funny how the real jerks of history end up that way.
KB: Yeah people love their jerks! ”Yeah man, Vlad the Impaler! So cool!”
The L:: Even someone like Nixon, who is so easily mockable, he's sort of strangely beloved.
KB: They become a caricature. They just stop being a real person. Sometimes, I try to give a bit of humanity back to those people.
The L:: It seems like your strip has taken issue with the whole concept of teen detective work lately.
KB: I have a lot of teen detectives!
The L:: Were you a fan of Nancy Drew? Does it come from love?
KB: When I was 10, I was in the hospital for two weeks for I don't know what it was, something to do with my kidneys? Anyway, the only thing that they had to read was this huge collection of Nancy Drew books. I read them all in two weeks. I remember them in kind of a fever haze. I really enjoyed them. The Nancy I have in the comics is kind of a psychopath. (link: http://harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=317 )That's just a little fun.
The L:: The idea of a teen detective is pretty persistent, but it's also wildly improbable.
KB: One of the first books I read that was a teen mystery was set in Ancient Rome. It was called "Detectives in Togas."Real teenagers are way bigger jerks. It's fun to write people who are just jerks. You have to mind your Ps and Qs with historical characters. With the teens they're just total assholes, it's really fun.
The L:: I wanted to ask about the "Strong Female Characters"strip you did satirizing how super-heroines get portrayed in comics. It felt to me like something that came out of a very specific conversation you'd been having.
KB: You'd think that but no. Carly Monardo, Meredith Gran, and myself were just drawing, for fun, and Carly showed her friend how I draw that pose that you see in comics all the time, so unnatural and staged. People say, [in goony male voice] "What's wrong with being sexy?"
The L:: Superhero comics are still pretty rough with that stuff.
KB: That whole world is kind of hilarious to us, because it's not ours. It's your industry, but it's not really yours. You have a side-window and you go, "What?"
We just started drawing the poses, and then we each created a character and gave them a name. They have no personality at all. You never see them without seeing their boobs and their butt at the same time. There are pictures of them grocery shopping, and they are still standing like that with the cart.
The L:: Stuff like the Strange Tales strips you did for Marvel, struck me as funny because something as ridiculous as Kraven the Hunter, if you read comics from the 80s, is treated really grim and serious.
KB: Wearing a giant lion head.
The L:: But really tortured, like, drinking a brandy and plotting murder.
KB: Yeah, it's amazing. I think it's so great.