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“Anyone But Virginia” profiled in Vox Magazine!

March 15th, 2012

Here’s the link for those of you playing along at home. Full disclosure: I used to write for Vox when I was at Mizzou. (Although for some reason I can’t find my awesome Stella interview. 45 minutes of Michael Showalter and David Wain making fun of me). Anyway, for your convenience full text of the Vox article after the jump.Collegiate comics
Two former MU students put a superhero twist on a high school reunion
By Chris Roll

March 15, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST

Who wouldn’t want powers? Superpowers to be exact, which would mean being able to make the world a safer place, but they inevitably come with sacrifice. For Virginia, protagonist of the graphic novel Anyone But Virginia, that means leaving family and friends behind … at least until her 10-year high school reunion.

Virginia is a young woman who gives up on college to become the costumed superhero Volcano Girl, complete with ambiguously defined volcano powers. She reluctantly goes back home to attend her class reunion, which leads to conflicts with her sister, her old friends and a new enemy.

Josh Eiserike and Zac Crockett started working on Anyone But Virginia in 2005 during their time at MU. Eiserike currently lives in Los Angeles, where he is pursuing a career in film, but he and Crockett still collaborate on projects.

Eiserike got the idea for Anyone But Virginia while backpacking in Japan. A friend claimed to secretly be a Mafia don, and Eiserike thought it would be funny if he went to his 10-year high school reunion and actually was a gangster. Adding the superhero element changed this basic premise.

Although Eiserike typically draws his own comics, such as Class of ’99 and Assholes, he chose to add a new perspective to Anyone But Virginia. Crockett was drawing a cartoon series called “Apathy Girl” for The Maneater at that time, which piqued Eiserike’s interest. Eiserike contacted Crockett and pitched his story to him at Ellis Library.

“I really liked how unconventional the story was,” Crockett says. “I was blown away by his characters and his storytelling … it was focused on the more human element. I thought that was a very interesting take.”

Due in part to Crockett’s other art commitments, it took more than five years to complete the book. He drew the first four and a half issues of Anyone But Virginia, and a Kickstarter campaign was ultimately able to raise about $800 to pay for his work.

“Writing it over time was a challenge, but I improved as a writer, and Zac improved as an illustrator,” Eiserike says. “The only way you get better at stuff is by doing it.”

Crockett says he even drew some of the pages in MU art professor Mark Langeneckert’s Advanced Illustrating class.

“Zac had a really strong focus. He is very passionate about his work, which made teaching him fun,” Langeneckert says. “I’m not terribly surprised to hear he is publishing and doing well.”

Crockett, who currently publishes other web comics such as Opey the Warhead and Miss Doomsday, feels that publishing comics online allows more creative freedom than mainstream comics because of the lack of editor involvement, and the creator’s imagination is the limit.

“I remember when we introduced him to the online medium,” Mid-Missouri Comics Collective member Dustin Hoffmann says. “Zac was looking for a way to promote his work, so I introduced him to Deviantart, and [Midmococo member] J.B. Winter introduced him to Webcomics Nation. I think the medium has been really good for him.”

Upcoming from Eiserike and Crockett is Booty Seekers, a teen sex comedy that also happens to be about pirates. Originally pitched as a film script, it is currently in the design stage.

“It’s a very raunchy, very funny hero’s journey,” Eiserike says. “I wanted Anyone But Virginia to be very realistic, but with Booty Seekers, the art will be very fun and very accessible.”

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