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Cömic Räwk: Eric Cockrell’s BLISTER

BLISTER WAS A PROSE BOOK FIRST, THEN BOTH A COMIC AND A FICTITIOUS BAND WITH A REAL LEAD SINGLE…PRETTY MUCH, THE EXACT TYPE OF CONCEPT THAT MADE ME START CÖMIC RÄWK. GRANTED, IF THERE WAS A TOY LINE WITH A SPEAKER STACK THAT TRANSFORMED INTO HARV – MAYBE WITH A DICK-PUNCHING POWER GLOVE – THAT WOULD REALLY CLINCH BLISTER’S PLACE IN INFAMY. FOR NOW, WE’LL JUST HAVE TO SETTLE FOR THE AWESOMENESS THAT IS…

Seriously, though – what really appealed to me about Blister? Basically, the same thing that made me love Spider-Man as a kid: the “heroes” of the book are loveable losers. I relate to that kind of story because, well…we can smell our own. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that Blister’s creator – Eric Cockrell – has great taste in music.

(And did I mention the dick-punch? I still do a spit-take every time I read that scene…)

Without further ado, straight from Studio Erbo, let’s welcome Eric Cockrell to the Clubhouse!

IT LOOKS LIKE THE BLISTER COMICS ARE STARTING OUT AS ILLUSTRATED ADAPTATIONS OF CHAPTERS FROM THE BOOK (WITH EXTRA GOODIES THROWN IN, OF COURSE). WILL THERE BE STANDALONE TALES NEVER SEEN IN THE BOOK DOWN THE LINE?

ERIC COCKRELL: Yeah, Blister was originally conceived to be a webcomic. So about a decade ago I had scribbled down notes for 52 weeks of a strip, and some notes about where to go from there. When I revisited it a few years ago and decided that doing the book as prose might be fun and easier, I used those notes as a starting point, but actually made some drastic changes. Also I should note, it is not easier to write a book than to write and draw a comic book. They both have their challenges and I learned quick to not discount proper writing like that.

So, when writing the Blister book I decided to give it an overall story arc, but split into very much self-contained short stories. Each of those stories being built around an anecdote. That made it a little easier for its eventual transition to the comic book issue format.

Now that I’ve completed one issue, and it was a blast going back and working on the story again, and making some minor adjustments, I do plan on expanding and bringing in some other stories that I left on the cutting room floor when I wrote the book. I have this Google Doc full of other Blister ideas. So there’s plenty to work from. My current thoughts are that I may do a pattern of two issues from the book, followed by one completely original issue, rinse and repeat, for a while.

DOES THE BLISTER STORY END WITH WHAT’S IN THE PROSE BOOK? OR IS THERE MORE OF THIS BAND’S TALE WAITING TO UNFURL? ENOUGH FOR ANOTHER VOLUME, PERHAPS?

EC: It doesn’t end there. I can safely say that. I’m not 100% set on where or when the follow up takes place though. I’ve had thoughts of catching up with them a few years later, and I’ve had thoughts about jumping way ahead and catching up with them at their 20th High School Reunion. It’s sort of up in the air, but now that it’s likely to continue as a comic, rather than prose, I am leaning toward doing the follow up within a closer timeframe and visiting the crew in college. I will likely lay that out in a similar fashion to how the book was done, with an overall theme across several issues, but individual stories with fairly finite endings.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY THE RATIO IS BETWEEN ACTUAL ANECDOTES YOU’VE HEARD TO COMPLETELY FANTASY BAND SCENARIOS? (AND PLEASE TELL ME THE DICK PUNCH SCENE WAS REAL.)

EC: It’s hard to say. If I was to guess off the top of my head, the book is 70% things that actually happened to myself and my friends, 15% things that I heard about from others, and 15% things I made up. Many scenarios were taken from things that I was involved directly in, or taking that thing and turning it up a notch.

For instance there is a story “The Jankelopes” in the book that is one of my favorites. It’s literally a 95% direct account of a night of our lives. The characters and band stuff were fictional, but what happened beyond that was all real.

During writing I got to know these characters really well. There are parts that would start out as me, and then as I went on it kind of wrote itself. In a way it’s like these characters were telling me their story. Kind of like an algorithm in my brain just kept stopping and figuring out: What would Harv say at this point? Then how would Blister react? What would probably happen then? It was really fun to write.

I want to tell you the dick punch happened. That’s another thing about writing a book that is based in part on you and your friends. You get a chance to work out and give yourself some closure around things that happened. So, I never got to dick punch the pussy-ass bully at my school, but it really felt nice to give that moment to Harv.

SPEAKING OF FANTASY SCENARIOS…IMAGINE A WORLD WHERE BLISTER HIT IT BIG TIME IN THE ‘90S. WHAT BANDS WOULD HAVE BEEN BACKING THEM ON THEIR BIGGEST TOUR – AND WHAT WOULD THAT TOUR HAVE BEEN CALLED?

EC: : I feel like midwest bands tended to tour with other midwest bands, so maybe bands like The Promise Ring and Tuesday. Depending on the timeframe, maybe that would be Alkaline Trio. I have it in my head that Blister probably did something bigger inspired by his Punk Planet Revolution daydream. So maybe the tour would be the “Punk Planet Revolution Tour.”

DO YOU SEE THE BAND YOU’VE ASSEMBLED FOR THE BLISTER MUSIC EP AS A ONE-OFF, OR CAN YOU ENVISION MORE MUSIC DOWN THE LINE IF THIS DOES WELL? WILL THE WHOLE SHEBANG BE AVAILABLE FOR STREAMING/PURCHASE?

EC: When I first wrote the book, I had approached my friend Jim Steinkraus about the idea of creating a fake band and recording some actual music to accompany it. The funny thing is, when I was originally writing the story, there was going to be this joke that the band really sucked. But Jim wrote this fantastic song and had these fantastic musicians to back him up, and that changed how seriously I was taking that part of the story.

The band for the first track ended up being Jim on vocals and guitar, Reuben Baird on Bass, and Mike Felumlee, of Smoking Popes, on drums. They were amazing. We’re actually in the middle of putting together the last two tracks of that EP right now, so I’m not 100% sure of who will be on those final recordings.

I am making the EP available as a download for my Kickstarter backers, and then I’m going to get it onto Spotify and iTunes. I’d love to do a physical release. I’m really not sure what format that will be though. I love the idea of a limited edition cassette. I’m just not sure how practical that is. If things go well and there’s call for it, I’d love to expand Blister’s music catalogue.

HOW LONG TILL THE INEVITABLE LIVE-ACTION MOVIE, OR ADULT SWIM CARTOON BASED ON BLISTER? AND WHO WOULD BE YOUR DREAM CAST?

EC: Honestly, I’d love a Netflix series. I can envision the whole thing in my head. But I’m not sure how I’d cast it. I think I’d prefer some unknown actors in the roles of the main cast, and maybe some 90s icons doing cameos as the parents and teachers, like Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Jennie Garth. I think that’d be fun.

FINALLY: WHAT’S THE MOST PUNK ROCK THING YOU (OR BLISTER) HAVE EVER DONE?

EC: Blister set a fucking school on fire. I can’t beat that. The one story we both have 100% in common though is hiding from the cops at that abandoned complex.

One time I did punch a guy in the side of the head for pushing my sister at a They Might Be Giants concert. It was kind of surreal, and super inappropriate at a TMBG show, but you don’t fuck with a girl when their older brother is around. I don’t care where you are. Truth be told, in my typical nice guy fashion, I found the guy and apologized after the show. Whatever.

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Written by John MacLeod

Dubbed "The Dorkmaster General" in his home territory of western Massachusetts, John has what some would call an "unhealthy obsession" with comics, horror movies and geek culture. He is a staff writer and editor for the web site Zombie Zone News, and is a freelance editor for his own imprint, Surfin' Dead Enterprises. In his spare time, he breeds free-range chupacabras to sell for ludicrous amounts of cash.

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