Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comic Writer and Artist Andrew Pepoy, Creator of Simone & Ajax

Welcome back to another spotlight interview. In this session, we spoke with comics writer, artist, and inker Andrew Pepoy.

Andrew has been working professionally in comics for over thirty years. He has worked for Marvel, DC, Archie, and Bongo Comics, among others. He is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for his creator owned property Simone & Ajax. Simone and Ajax has been around for over twenty-five years, and Andrew is working on collected edition of four new stories, plus extras and it looks fabulous.

We talked about the series and what Andrew is looking to deliver in this project as well as his history in comics. This interview is a great discussion of what is possible in the comic medium.

You can find the audio recording of our discussion below, and we transcribed a big portion of it for you as well.

We hope you enjoy the conversation.

Pop Culture Squad: Let’s talk about Simone & Ajax. The Kickstarter is live as of the publication of this interview even if we are recording it prior to the campaign launch. How long has this new project been in the works for you and what can we expect in the Kickstarter?

Andrew Pepoy: Well there is a longer answer and a shorter answer. To give you the short answer, I have been planning this for about the last year, and really focused on it for much of this year, 2020.

The long answer is that in some ways, some of the stories in here are stories I have been wanting to tell for twenty-five or thirty years since I first created the characters.

PCS: What can backers expect from the Kickstarter in terms of rewards. Are there digital and print options?

AP: We are going to have both versions of the book. Certainly, I am someone who likes to hold a physical book in their hands. But I want to make sure everyone can get it in a form that they want.

So, there will be a digital edition that has everything that is in the print book. Also, everybody, whether they pledge for the digital or print edition will get the digital edition.

Because this is going to take a few months to actually happen, I am going to deliver four individual issues digitally along the way as they are finished. So that people have something to read along the way while they are waiting thinking that Andrew is not just sitting there doing nothing and holding on to [their] money, and [they] get to read it while [they] wait for the finished book.

PCS: How do you describe the feel of the Simone & Ajax stories to someone who hasn’t read it?

AP: Well, I guess I would compare them to other things that maybe they have heard of. One of my favorite quotes that I ever got on it was from a reader quote back when it was running on ComicMix about twelve years ago, which was “The look of an Archie comic but the sensibilities of a Marx Brothers movie.”

It is fun, zany adventures. Very obviously, the artwork is inspired by my number one influence, Dan DeCarlo, and others. I try to keep them fast paced and full of jokes.

Some other influences based on reviewer comments are that it is kind of like Bone, or I have had other people compare it to Carl Barks‘ Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck comics.

PCS: Tell me a little about how it feels to work on a book where you have complete control. Is that empowering, intimidating?

AP: Yes!!! It’s daunting. Especially with this book. This is the first time that I am self publishing since I was doing fanzines as a kid. So, it is definitely intimidating and daunting to trying to be everything myself. But at the same time, I am really happy making this.

It’s exciting, because as I said before, some of these stories I’ve been wanting to tell for 25 or 30 years, and so it is a lot of fun to finally be able to do that.

Really as I have said many times, there is nothing in comics that I would rather work on than Simone & Ajax. As proud as I am of other projects that I have done over the years. This is my favorite thing, and this is what I am most happy doing.

PCS: You have had a very successful career with long runs on projects for both Marvel and DC? Is there a work for higher project that you enjoyed the most without needing to put down any particular book.

AP: I mean maybe I could narrow it down to a few. I am very proud of the work I did on Fables for ten years. It was a really good book and I felt like I was doing some of my best inking work on there.

Also, I loved working on The Simpsons comics. While it was not continuous like Fables was, I worked on The Simpsons line for eighteen years. Starting in 2000 and all the way up until the final issue of The Simpsons comic. I had so much fun with them, because they were fun comics. It was just a really nice working relationship with the publisher and with all the pencillers that I was working with, and I had a great time with it.

PCS: What drew you to a career in comics?

AP: I mean. I don’t know if was a conscious choice. According to my Mom, I was doodling superhero things in first grade or something like that. I watched the Batman TV show reruns and the Wonder Woman TV show when I was a kid. So I was into superheroes.

When Superman, The Movie came out, I was in fourth grade, and I really liked that. Soon after that, I got really sick and was stuck at home for a while, and my mom picked up some Superman comics for me. I really liked that, and she got me more.

When I got better, I went to the store and started buying the Superman comics myself and it wasn’t long before I started drawing Superman and the other superheroes that I was reading in the comics. Certainly by the fifth grade I was drawing my own characters and making my own little comics that I usually never got three pages into, and it just sort of happened.

By the summer after sixth grade, I published my first fanzine. My dad snuck me into his office building so I could use the copier and ran it off. So it wasn’t a conscious choice. It just sort of evolved and there I was.

PCS: So let’s come back to the kickstarter. It launches on September 14th, and it will be a 128 page book with four stories. 

[The Kickstarter campaign has currently reached its initial goal, but there are stretch goals still within reach. Here is the video trailer from the Kickstarter page]

AP: Right, plus cover. Over 100 pages are new comics stories. I have written and thumbnailed all 100 pages of new story. I have drawn about sixty percent of it, and about half of it is colored, by Jason Millet. So we are well along on it.

PCS: Well, It sounds fantastic. We are really looking forward to it.

People can find the link for the Kickstarter at any of the following sites:

The direct link to support the Kickstarter is here.

You can also subscribe to Andrew’s newsletter at his website to stay up to date on all things Pepoy.

If you are interested in hearing more from Andrew. Take a look at the panel I did with Andrew and Howard Mackie at Baltimore Comic-Con in 2019 where we focused on the Marvel series Mutant X.

You can follow Andrew on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at the links in this sentence.