Real Interview- Caleb Goellner

I spoke with the Writer and Artist of the webcomic Mermaid: Evolution, Senior Editor of, and devout lover of pugs, Caleb Goellner, about his comic, his craft, and dark revenge stories. Check it out after the jump.


N: So, first of all, can you describe Mermaid: Evolution a bit and why everyone should be reading it?

CG: Mermaid: Evolution is a power fantasy smoothie that marries my silliest Tweets with my silliest drawings. Choke it down and enjoy the vitamins, yo. I know you’re all online all day like me and not getting enough outside.

N: Okay, Of the big 3 of Mermaid-man related characters, Namor, Aquaman, and King Triton from the Little Mermaid, where does yours stack up?

CG: It kind of depends what metric you’re using to compare them all. If you’re going by Dragon Ball Z Power Levels, Dusty is probably somewhere between Namor and Aquaman, although it remains to be seen if he can communicate with sea life by any means other than combat. He’s got nothing magical going on yet, so it’d be unfair to compare him to Triton and Ariel. If you’re talking about how awesome their motivations are, though, Dusty’s simple revenge tale can’t even compare to Ariel’s quest for love — or in the original Hans Christian Andersen ‘Little Mermaid’ short story, A SOUL! That’s a dark story, man.

N: It certainly is. Speaking of dark revenge stories, how much of this story is autobiographical?

CG: Probably about 75%. I kind of look like a Lego dude and a retro TMNT action figure and I like to wear bro tanktops when I’m near the sea. Really, the only thing I don’t have in common with Dusty is his life, his story and all of the details. So yeah, maybe even 90%.

N: But you did kill 151 pirates, right?

CG: Well… not exactly. I kind of just caught 151 Pokemon and watched a lot of the One Piece anime before Funimation laid on that English dub and ruined everything.

N: That’s basically exactly the same. So, as far as art goes, who are some of your influences?

CG: There are artists I really love, but I learned at a young age that I don’t have any of the talent or patience to emulate their styles. As a kid I wanted to draw wacky retro stuff like John Kricfalusi and Chuck Jones. As I got older I fell in love with stuff by Patrick Spaziante, Ed McGuinness and Akira Toriyama. There are dozens more, but these were the dudes I was straight up ripping off as a kid. I learned anatomy from action figures, so I guess I should credit all the fine people who make toys, too.

N: When Mermaid:Evolution gets optioned for Hollywood, who would be the best director for it?

CG: If science can figure out a way to clone a dude or lady from the DNA of Paul Verhoeven, Michael Bay and Sofia Coppola, I would be all about that creature directing the movie. Realistically, though, I’d just get Bryan Spicer.

N: So, basically everyone knows that you love Pugs and Power Rangers; how much of both will we be seeing in this story?

CG: I snuck in one pug cameo early in the tale to pad out a group shot, but I may take it easy on including them over the next 20 pages or so. The story gets too dangerous for cute angel dogs. As far as Power Rangers go, I’m actually saving that passion for another project that’s in the works…

N: How long are you planning on making this comic? Is there a general planned number of pages?

CG: Yeah, I basically sat down one Saturday and sketched out the entire comic from start to finish in a notebook. I’ve got two options for endings, but the comic will probably come out to around 30-32 “pages,” depending on which ending I choose. I’m hoping to finish page 11 in a few days and start posting twice a week again soon. If enough people are digging the story I might continue it with a sequel. By “enough” I really just mean “a dozen or so friends of mine on Twitter.”

N: So, have you been bit by the webcomic arachnid? Are you going to continue regularly making comics for the web now?

CG: Yeah, I’m planning to always have some kind of regular comic going online from here on out. I grew up drawing comics and always had strips in my high school and college papers, but then took a few years off. The inspiration bug totally chomped onto me and injected me with its venom after I hit some conventions and had some cool conversations over the past year or so. I figure I need to keep making silly comics as a creative exercise, if nothing else. Drawing nonsense and sharing it with friends is dope.

N: Last question: Anything else you want to plug that you’re working on?

CG: Yeah, I’m currently working on a 32-page, full-color, for-real comic with artist Buster Moody called Task Force Rad Squad. It’s basically our spin on tokusatsu and Americanized toku stuff like the Power Rangers. It’s an original story featuring new designs and lots of humor without being pure parody or wank. In other words, it’s not a “love letter” to the genre, it’s an overbearing, sweaty man hug with some crying involved. It should be available in one form or another later this fall. If peeps want to keep up with it, we’ve got a Tumblr with process stuff and art previews:

Ziah Grace

Ziah works at a comic shop and has seen Space Jam. You can contact Ziah at zbg333 [at] gmail [dot] com

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