Sugary Sweet Innocence | Nicholas Gurewitch

pbfint-header.gifThe creator behind the Ignatz-Award winning absurdist webcomic The Perry Bible Fellowship talks comics, films, and, oddly enough, Mel Gibson.



Nicholas Gurewitch is the creator of the Ignatz Award winning The Perry Bible Fellowship. A funny, intelligent webcomic that mixes sugary sweet innocence with dark irony, insightful cynicism, and sometimes just plain absurdity, The Perry Bible Fellowship changes artistic styles from strip to strip and always looks great. Its popularity has caused it to quickly move from the web to alternative newspapers and recently to the bookshelf, when Dark Horse published the first collection The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories in November.


Interview conducted by Nick Main. To read Nick’s review of The Trial of Colonel Sweeto collection, click here. To read The Perry Bible Fellowship for yourself, visit


The cover to the PBF collection The Trial of Colonel Sweeto. Click thumbnail for a larger image.PLAYBACK:stl: When did you start The Perry Bible Fellowship and was there a point you started taking it more seriously?


Nicholas Gurewitch: I started it in college, and I started taking it seriously when I realized it was paying my bills.


Do you have a "day job"?


No, not besides taking naps and reading.


How has the process of publishing your first book affected you in hindsight?


I’d say it’s made me more aware of just how difficult it is to get something done. I’ve been pretty notorious for underestimating how much time it takes for me to complete a picture and my estimate of when I’d be able to get the work done for the book was off by over a year. When you take on something of this magnitude, its amazing to see just how naive you can be about the process.


You’ve got a film background and there was some talk about doing a TV show, Daisy Garden Story Time. What happened with that?


Colonel Sweeto! Click thumbnail for a larger image.There’s not too much of a story behind it. I had designed it to be a program for Comedy Central and then the guy I was talking to recommended that I scale it down to be a ten minute piece and it gradually became apparent that it should be 3 minutes, and then 2 minutes. I don’t think I was good at condensing the idea down, and I’m not sure whether I was doing bad work or whether they weren’t seeing my vision, but we never ended up moving on it. I don’t know if they’re still interested or not. It was one of those things where you gradually fall out of touch, like with a bad relationship. It was kind of unfortunate. But you know what? If that’s not my path, that’s not my path. I’m excited to explore other venues.


You’ve got a broad range of styles. Do you have any interest in going into concept design?


I love concept designs. I would love to do concept designs for my own films someday. Or possibly someone else’s, if I respected them. I wouldn’t rule out doing anything. I like everything, almost.


How about animation?


That’s tough for me to say yes to. Simply because its like a thousand drawings for a little bit of time. I think I’d much rather do something where I could do a little bit of work and get a lot out of it. Not to dismiss what animators do, because it’s really noble. I just don’t know if I’d have the backbone for it. I have a hard time sitting at a desk all day.


The Art School Confidential movie was based on a comic that was practically comic strip length. If you had to turn one of your strips into a feature length film, which one would you choose?


It would probably have to be Colonel Sweeto and his back story. I’ve actually done some imagining of some aspects of what that project might look like. A lot of the comics are good because they’re just a glimpse and the rest of the story should be imagined. It’s tough to say whether any of the comics should be treated besides Sweeto. I bring up Sweeto because a lot of mystery could still be maintained while dealing in that Candyland.


I think "Now Showing," the World War II movie from the future, could really work.


The Oh gosh, that would provide a lot of funny things because you could do all different events. You could do biopics of, like, Abraham Lincoln and have them be totally wrong. That would be great. That would offer a lot of humor actually, now that you mention it. You’d have unlimited access to various genres to work with as long as they’re historical.


Do you read comic books?


Not terribly often. I just bought Jaime Hernandez’s book from him, Love and Rockets, and that was amazing. I’m kind of slow to pick up the longer form comics. I’m not sure why. I read them in my youth. I was kind of into The Maxx and kind of into Scud, the Disposable Assassin. Both of those fascinations were primarily for the artwork.


I’m a huge Maxx fan myself. Sam Kieth was a big influence on me.


I loved Maxx, man. I don’t know. Something about that story and those characters and the madness of those pages really brought me to a new place. The Outback.


You seem to have a strong sense of ethics. I understand it really bothers you when people miss the point of your strips and misinterpret them as mindless violence and perversion. I was wondering who your real-life heroes are.


Malcolm X comes immediately to mind. I have the utmost respect for the man that he became at the end of his life, though he’s someone I’m probably more fascinated with, than prone to immitate. Is it a cliché to bring up Gandhi? I love Gandhi. I love Stanley Kubrick. I greatly admire Teddy Roosevelt. I like anybody who goes out on a limb and does something really, really new.


Do you have a favorite Kubrick film?


Yeah, probably hands-down 2001: A Space Odyssey, though I haven’t enjoyed it recently as much as I enjoyed it in earlier parts of my life. But maybe that’s just because you can’t take the ultimate trip several times.


One of your Comics Editor's favorite strips. Click to read it!Who’s your favorite director working today?


I’m completely excited for Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film. I think it’s going to be…major. Aside from PT, I’d probably have to go with Mel Gibson.


I read somewhere you were a big fan of Apocalypto.


I love Apocalypto. I adore Braveheart. I don’t know what it is about those movies, but I adore them. And I respect The Passion of the Christ well enough.


Apocalypto really surprised me. I thought it was a great movie.


I thought it was fantastic, man. I just thought it was all about courage and faith. And the main character’s relationship with God, which was really fascinating.


So, when you get the big movie deal, will PBF get canceled the next day?


I don’t think there’s any reason in ever quitting. I think if the comic ever stops, it’ll probably be when I die maybe. If anything I’d just reduce my frequency to one a year, or one a decade or something. It’s not like Seinfeld when the actors are going to get too old or its not going to have enough ratings. I’ll always have my website and I’ll always have some dumb idea I can make into a picture. | Nick Main


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