Real Interviews: Phil Kahn

Nerdcenaries: Greetings Phil Kahn of the webcomic Guilded Age!
Phil Kahn: Salutations, Luke!
N: So for those readers who have not heard of you, who are you Phil?
PK: I’m… basically a professional weirdo.
N: Well, what was your first professionally weird project?
PK: Probably the wiki for webcomics-themed cocktails. With accompanying video podcast.
N: Oooh, that sounds good as an amateur drinker. What was your favorite?
PK: Definitely the Banurtle, inspired by Better You Than Me, the previous comic of Lee Cherolis (now of Little Guardians). It was what happens when you cross a banana with a turtle.

1 Part Midori
1 Part Banana Schnapps
Sprite to taste over ice

It was definitely the best tasting recipe we ever featured.
N: Haha. So now you have a webcomic called Guilded Age. What drink would sum up Guilded Age?
PK: Oh jeez. If I had to decide right now… a shot of Goldschlager dropped into a tankard of ale.
N: Haha. Well why not sum up Guilded Age for the uninitiated then?
PK: It’s the saga of the working class adventurer. Arkerra is a fantasy universe that has just seen the dawn of the industrial age, and now wealth accumulation and emerging technology have cast a vast divide amongst the varying races of the land. And as dominance is asserted, resistance rises and causes a continent to go to war with itself. And as our band of adventurers will find, it’s not so simple as killing kobolds for loot anymore.
N: Now I’ve read and enjoyed the comic so far and I feel obligated to ask, are you a tabletop gamer?
PK: I’d love to say “Yes,” but I never get to play anymore because I went and did a comic about fantasy so now I don’t get to fantasy game anymore! But I did for a long time, and spent a good few years recreationally pretending to be someone else in World of Warcraft.
N: When you did play were you a DM more often?
PK: Usually, yeah, because my friends never want to and I’m a control freak anyway, haha. But I had a lot of fun running adventures, because I got to tell a story collaboratively with a bunch of my pals, chuck dice and drink liberally. And do voices for all the NPCs.
N: I was the DM type as well. I loved that part more. So what other webcomics are you enjoying right now?
PK: Webcomics are pretty great right now. A lot of good work is rising to the top. Manly Guys Doing Manly Things is a great one for the gaming crowd. Edmund Finney’s Quest to Find the Meaning of Life is the closest thing in my life to having Monty Python again. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal always delivers, every day of the week. ErfWorld is our comrade-at-fantasy-webcomics-arms and is badass besides. And Frankenstein Superstar is a really cool one I just found that’s one big love letter to rock & roll and classic pinup girls.
N: Now you are also collaborating with T Campbell on Guilded Age. How does that work?
PK: Miraculously. Seriously, though, T and I work really well together because we’re basically polar opposites in human beings. But we’re able to take this bizarre storytelling Yin and Yang we’ve got and churn out a story that meets both of our standards and tastes. Our #1 rule is that we will never publish anything that one of the both of us is unhappy with. So when we hammer our combined ideas of what “quality” is together, we come out with one strangely unified voice. And then John Waltrip uses his mutant power to manifest text into awesome. But if you want to get technical about it, we each write half the script and then edit the crap out of each other to the degree of endangering our friendship, haha.
N: Haha. So it is sort of like Venture Bros?
PK: In a way, yeah. I’m a big fan of the show, and it finds its influence into my work in more ways than one.
N: Well like there apparently both of the writers pound out half of the season and then they come together and combine it.
PK: Right. What we do differently is that we do it chapter by chapter, together, following a larger plot outline we’ve agreed on. We’ll break a chapter into six four-page scenes and then each draft half of them. Then we go through a lengthy revisions process. Where feelings get hurt.
N: How much of it consists of name calling?
PK: More than I’d care to admit, haha.
N: Haha. So who is your favorite superhero?
PK: Right now it’s definitely Larfleeze. That guy rocks my world.
N: Hahah.
PK: I hope it won’t be like a year before we see him in the new DCU.
N: Actually they announced it is going to be pretty soon.
PK: Fan. Tastic. I demand that DC gives me more Larfleeze immediately.
N: Haha. And they are going to announce his oath. Though I have an issue with the Green Lanterns in the DCU. Mainly that they weren’t rebooted at all. And they were trying to make it open for new readers.
PK: Really the whole thing is a shitshow. I read JLA#1 and gave up right away. I came at it like a new reader, because I am a new reader to DC. I was into a few pieces before then but I was really ready to see what they had to offer in their first week, their single salvo. And just… wasn’t hooked. And I’ve been hearing some of it’s pretty good and that’s good news. I’d hate for the whole thing to be a bust. But this feels like the 90’s again. And not just because of Jim Lee. It’s just… the same damn thing as Heroes Reborn only DC went whole hog. And everyone looks “cutting edge.” I have a lot more to say about this than I thought, especially since I’ve made mine Marvel since birth, hahaha.
N: Yeah. I started with Marvel comics when I started at the comic shop I worked at. Or well I started with Dark Horse and Vertigo before that.
PK: R.I.P. Vertigo.
N: The hilarious thing is that most of the comics that people love the most art miniseries or one-shots outside of continuity. Why not reboot the entire series with established character ideas and then more limited series?
PK: I don’t know, man, I’m not a doctor. They didn’t need to reboot at all. If they wanted to reach new readers, they just had to change the way they do everything. But rebooting is the low-risk option.
N: Miniseries would be a safer bet. You can see how people react to entire series with less investments, allow popular characters more reasonable exposure and you don’t need to worry about continuity.
PK: That’s one way to do it, sure. They just haven’t changed their method in going on 20 years and it doesn’t take a doctor to see why that’s a problem.
N: Verily. Is there anything else you want to pimp before we go?
PK: We have a book! You can order it at our store!
N: Awesome! Well thank you for you time Phil Kahn.
PK: Thank you for the opportunity to get on Dan DiDio’s bad side.
N: It’s my pleasure.

Luke Herr

Luke is a writer and an aspiring professional comic writer who is also the editor in chief of Nerdcenaries. He currently is working on a graphic novel called Prison Spaceship.

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