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An Interview With Greg Hyland       

by Andrew Goletz

Greg Hyland is the creator, writer and artist of the hilarious Lethargic Lad. I first came across the work of Greg Hyland during the ‘Spirits of National Unity’ comic con tour across North America. Amidst a sea of mediocrity and pretentiousness and creators trying to do funny parody books that just weren’t funny, I saw a couple of Greg’s comics.

The covers were parodies of some of the most popular comics of the time and they looked really, really good, but I still didn’t know if I should ‘judge a book by its cover’. After speaking with Greg for awhile and learning about his methods behind the madness, as well as the point of Lethargic Comics, I took a gamble.

I ended up buying all of the Lethargic titles that I could get my hands on, and soon afterwards I read them all in one sitting. From that point on, I was hooked. Greg has done a fantastic job of weaving together blatant parody with sharp humor and crisp originality. He’s a terrific talent, now a Gray Haven Griffin Award winner and I was excited about the chance to catch up with him again, years later.

AG: How did you get into the comics industry?

GH: Self publishing got me into the industry. Sometimes just having a professionally printed comic makes you seem valid, instead of some guy walking around with his portfolio. Doing you own comic, especially if you are doing it on time, show that you are responsible and professional and trustworthy... and that, maybe, your work is worth ready, and you are worth hiring!

AG: Is Lethargic Lad/Comics your first published work?

GH: Lethargic Comics, Weakly #1 was my first published comic book.

AG: Where did you come up with the idea for Lethargic Lad?

GH: He was originally a notebook doodle from high school. I liked the look of the face and kept drawing the character. It took him a while to wear an “L” on his chest and to be a super-hero and to even have a name.

AG: How would you explain the book to a non-reader?

GH: Satire and parody of comics, movies, TV, and the pop culture world in which we live.

AG: I first met you and became familiar with your work at the Spirits of National Unity in Montreal years back...do you think the mission was a success?

GH: For Dave Sim and the Spirits thing? Yes, mostly. He showed that a convention can be about creators and be a good showcase of their work, instead of big fat smelly dealers selling back issues of X-Men. There have been several people who have organized similar shows of varying success. I don’t think anyone would have tried to put together an indje creator only type of show if Dave hadn’t tried it first. I think possibly APE came first, but they were mostly a showcase for Slave Labor and I don’t think anyone was inspired to duplicate it. SPX was originally put on to go alongside a Diamond Tradeshow, hopefully to get all the store owners who were in the area anyway, to see some things that would certainly be overlooked inside the tradeshow.

AG: What do you think are the biggest changes since the Spirits tour?

GH: In conventions? Well, that other people try to put on similar shows. In publishing? That it showed possibly too many that, gosh darn it, I can publish my own work!

AG: What do you think about the state of the comics industry now?

GH: I hope its dying! I think it is. Larry Marder made a quote along the lines of we’re all on the Titanic and all anyone is doing is trying to find the best deck chair. I figure I jumped off the Titanic before it sinks, by leaving the direct market and going on-line, and I’ll be cheering as I see the ol’ boat hit the iceberg! It think that there is just about no solution to saving the market, and it has to totally crumble before it can get better, and part of the crumbling is that Diamond had to die, and a new distribution system replaces it, which I hope will be self-distribution. Rumors are that Marvel is losing interest in comics... especially with the success of the X-Men movie, so they may not care if no distribution system exists. DC could easily start distributing through Warner Brothers, at least to WB stores. Companies like Slave Labor and Fantagraphics are probably already selling a lot directly to stores, so they may already be in the best position if Diamond crumbles.

AG: Is there anything you think that can be done to make things better?

GH: Let it die, and stay visible on the internet in the mean time.

AG: How did you partner up with Steve Remen?

GH: I met Steve in college, where we were both taking Classical Animation.

AG:  Do you think the internet has helped or hurt the industry? And Lethargic Lad in general?

GH: Hopefully helped. It can get your comics visible to more people, and sell to more people. As far as Lethargic Lad, I feel that more people are reading my comics than before, so this is good.

AG: How did the guest appearance by Alex Ross come about?

GH: Alex had been reading Lethargic Comics before I ever met him. I met him after we did the MARVELS parody cover for Lethargic Comics #4. He bought 25 copies and said now he knew he’s made it in the industry... if we make fun of him. While he was just about finishing Kingdom Come he called me and explained how the covers looked (nobody know much about Kingdom Come at the time, all I knew was that he was doing something for DC), and told me he wanted to do a parody cover for me. I figured I’d give the kid a shot. It was good because Lethargic Lad #3, the book with his cover, came out the same month as Kingdom Come #4!

AG: What's the highlight of your professional career, so far?

GH: It was fun “being famous” and having my 15 minutes of fame around the time of me publicizing my fight with Diamond and through the Crusade mini-series and making a living off of Lethargic Lad. Doing the TICK book I did was pretty fun, too.

AG: What is your dream project and do you think it could become a reality?

GH: There are still things that I’d like to do, like actually do a funny Batman story in a DC comic or something like that. I’d also be quite happy to going back to doing Lethargic Lad for a living, whether it be in printed comics or on-line.

AG: What comic books/creators are you a fan of?

GH: Evan Dorkin, Peter Bagge, Chris Ware, Seth, Alex Ross, Mike Mignolia.

AG: Do you think the conventions are a necessarily evil to promote the books or do you actually enjoy going to them?

GH: I used to love conventions. I’m losing interest, though. After this year’s Motor City con, I was so demoralized from being treated like crap by stupid kids, that I had the attitude of “never again!” Then I went to Heroes Con in Charlotte, and it was great, the fans were nice and the convention staff treated us great. Then I feel like “cons are good!” I have to admit, I like buying stuff at cons, too. I think conventions are a good way to promote your book, better than any print advertisement. I’ve almost never lost money at convention, which is good, so it’s been an economical form of promotion.

AG: What's the craziest thing /person you've ever encountered being in this business?

GH: Craziest fan was the Boba Fett Guy, who is in Lethargic Lad #2. He’s real. He walks amongst us. The craziest professionals are the guys who want to act like rock stars, like Rob Liefeld and Bill Tucci. These guys amuse me. I nearly did stuff for Liefeld... the Lethargic Lad/Him story in LLA#1  was originally supposed to appear in color in the Liefeld book. Liefeld’s failure though mismanagement is tragic, because the guy had everything and then blew it through stupidity. Tucci’s fall just makes me laugh.

AG: Are there any other projects that you're working on?

GH: At the moment, the website keeps me pretty busy. I just got a “no” from the network that was interested in the Lethargic Lad animation, so that’s now way, way back on the back burner. The heat may not even be on  that burner. I just like doing the website at the moment, although I have a couple plans in the works with Steve Darnall (of UNCLE SAM and EMPTY LOVE STORIES fame) involving NIKKI TESLA: KID INVENTOR, which was a short lived comic Steve and I did for Disney Adventures  Magazine.

AG: Free Plug time...knock your socks off: websites, merchandise, or anything you want the readers to be aware of?

GH: http://www.lethargiclad.com. What else is there?

AG: And why should someone pick up Lethargic Lad for the first time?

GH: Hopefully to get a funny comic that they will enjoy.

AG: Fight Club Question. If you had to pick a fight with someone, who would it be?

GH: Uh, only if I get an unfair advantage, like a baseball bat... there are a few people who I think need a thumping, but I’d better not say. Some of these people owe me money... and have yet to return artwork...

AG: Spider-Man: The Movie. Organic or Non-Organic web-shooters?

GH: Non-organic. Peter Parker has to make them.  

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