PUFFED CREATORS: JOHN LAYMAN & DAVE CROSLAND
interview by debbie
illustration by vinnie baggadonuts

OKAY, SO PUFFED IS ABOUT THIS KID TRAPPED IN A DRAGON COSTUME IN THE MIDDLE OF SHITSVILLE, LATE AT NIGHT. NO, HE DOESN'T LIVE THERE. HE GOT BEAT UP AND DUMPED THERE. NO, I CAN'T TELL YOU HOW. WELL, THERE'S A BAD GUY-- SORT OF. NO, HE DOESN'T FLY! WELL, YES, IT'S A COMIC BOOK. BUT-- DAMMIT! WHY DON'T YOU JUST READ THIS INTERVIEW DEBBIE DID WITH JOHN LAYMAN AND DAVE CROSLAND! THEY MADE THE DAMN THING. THEY CAN PROBABLY EXPLAIN IT BETTER.

Debbie: Are you both there?

Dave: Yeah, I'm here. Man, you know, for someone named "Debbie", you sure sound a lot like Lon Chaney!

D: I get that a lot. John, you there? You naked?

John: I'm not naked. I mean, a rhinestone tiara and strategically smeared cream corn doesn’t count as naked, does it?

D: I think that does count in Vermont. Anyway, people usually think of artists working alone on their own stuff. What's it been like for you both working together as a creative team?

D: Well, it's sort of like being Martin and Lewis, only not nearly as homoerotic. (laughs) And I'm definitely the "Martin" of this team-up.

J: I was gonna compare us more to the team of Farley and Spade, circa 2002. Only with less corpse-chowing maggots. Or a few less, anyway.

D: How did you guys hook up?

J: Internet dating services. I was a 450 lb. Swedish leather fetishist. Dave was a dainty Amish quilt nymph. Actually, it was all a hilarious mix-up. The good news is we discovered a mutual love for comics,.. and dainty Amish quilt nymphs.

D: (laughs) We actually met at Wizard World Chicago in 2002. I had set up a table with Jim Mahfood, and was just pimping my wares. I met a ton of comic creators and industry cats, and John was one of them. He darted over to the table and said, "I dig your work, and have a script that I think you'd be perfect for." A few days after the convention, he emailed me the script for Puffed. I started doing character studies, then pages, and the rest is history.

D: Puffed has such an off-kilter storyline. Was it hard to find a publisher?

J: Surprisingly, not. I had showed it to a couple publishers, but by the time I got ready to formally propose it, Image swooped in there and said, “We’ll take it.”

D: Yeah. It did seem to happen very quickly. I remember the night John told me Image had picked Puffed up. I think I wet myself. (laughing) Not that that's unusual, but, ya know,...

D: (laughs) How would you describe Puffed? I mean, it's not like the next Spider-Man, or anything along those lines.

D: No, it's definitely not the next Spider-Man, true believer! Well, maybe it's sorta like Spider-Man. Has Peter Parker ever taken a shit in his costume? If so, then yeah, Puffed is totally like Spider-Man!

J: Spider-Man has. Superman has. They've all taken shits in their costumes at some point in time. Thing is, it just gets glossed over in MOST comic books. Not ours, though. We’re not ashamed to tell it, smell it, and show it like it is.

D: That's a bold move, man. Bold. Besides the fecalphilia, what's the plot for Puffed?

J: Pretty simple, really. An amusement park worker who wears a costume he can’t get in and out of on his own gets beat up and dumped in dirty, dingy, after-hours downtown.

D: Yeah. And he meets a random series of fucked-up people; from hookers and bums, to ghetto thugs and worn-out alcoholics. Of course, hijinks ensue. Still, there's nothing too typical about the storyline. I think there are enough odd turns to keep people guessing throughout the whole series. Shit, I was guessing all the way through it, and I drew the damned thing!

D: From what I've seen of Puffed, and what I've read about the concept, it seems like it could easily be turned into a movie. And, right now, there's a tsunami of comic book movies. That's gotta be generating a ton of interest in comics in general. But with all these comic-to-film jams popping up recently (ie. Spider-Man, Hulk, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Daredevil), are you totally fearing an inevitable drop in interest?

J: Comic movies go in cycles, where Hollywood realizes they have a bunch of story potential, and turn comics into movies. Eventually, though, Hollywood forgets any need to stay true to the comics, and you end up with Batman with nipples, pink Hulks wearing tutus, and a sombrero-wearing octopus playing The Flash. People then dismiss the comic movies as stupid, and Hollywood moves on. Five or eight years later, though, they run out of ideas. Then the whole thing happens all over again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

D: Besides that, Puffed is a comic, but it's nothing like your standard comic story. There aren't any heroes or people shooting rays from their eyes, ya know? It's really more of a goofy misadventure tale that involves a slew of unfortunate characters.

D: Right on. Now, I've also heard that some people are upset that a lot of creators are coming out with comics that they want to make into films, right from the start. In their opinion, those creators are being unfaithful to the medium of comics. Do you agree with that?

D: Naw. I think restricting every element of comics-- like the creativity behind it, the audience, the medium-- I think holding that down to strictly one realm and one way of communicating is such a limiting, close-minded thing. A comic book is one way of telling a story, just like film and music and painting. I don't think there's any lack of faith in trying to tell your story in as many ways as possible. That being said, I don't think every comic book needs to be turned into a movie. There's just no reason to limit it all from the get-go.

D: How did you each get involved in the comic industry?

J: Dumb luck. Wrong place, at the wrong time. My job as a Jimmy Olsen newspaper step-and-fetch-it office bitch introduced me to a lot of people at Wildstorm, who then took me under their wing, and sexually abused me in the most horrific ways imaginable.

D: Hey, at least they gave you a job! (laughs) I was always drawing comic stuff during high school, then college. In the summer of 2000, I started attending the Wizard World comic convention in Chicago. That was my real first push in doing portfolio reviews with editors and professionals. Anyway, the following year I did it all over again-- attended the con, tried to get my work in front of the right people. And last year's convention ended up being the most pivotal one, because that was when I was set up at the 40 oz. Comics table with Jim. I'd already met a few editors in the years before, but setting up that table in the small press area let me get my work in front of everybody. Mahfood introduced me to a ton of people he knew, they introduced me to people they knew, and so on, and so on.

D: Is Puffed gonna be your beacon on the path to fortune and glory? Is it all orgies and cocaine parties after this?

D: (laughing) Oh, please believe it! I plan on spending the rest of 2003 drinking champagne off stripper's tits! (In a fake German accent) I've already bought und mansion ahnd und yacht!

J: (Jekyll voice) All the proceeds for my half of Puffed will be donated to various worthy charities and support organizations. (Hyde voice) Hhhn! Cocaine,... Cocaine!!! Sniff snort gulp chortle!!!

D: (laughing) I'm gonna have to get the spelling on that last part! Okay. Are you guys gonna have a shitload of oiled up groupies to deal with at conventions now that you'll have a comic out?

D: Lord, I hope so! Wait a minute. The only oiled up anything I've ever seen at a comic convention are washed-up porn stars and dudes in Stormtrooper costumes. (makes gagging noise)

J: Uh, what’s wrong with washed-up porn stars? Some of my best friends,.. oh, forget it!

D: Designer drug fun aside, what do you guys have planned once Puffed is out?

J: I hope to settle into a life of obscurity, punctuated by occasional moments of quiet despair.

D: Man, fuck that Sylvia Plath shit. I'm actually starting up work on a graphic novel project with your tastes like chicken editor, Insane Wayne Chinsang. I can't really go into details, but this should be a very fun book. And I think it's gonna really push me to the limits of what I can do with a comic page.

D: Sweet. Okay, lastly, we ask this question to everyone we interview.

D: Oh Christmas,.. I know what's coming up.

D: How? Do you read our site all the time?

D: No.

Dave and Debbie: (both laugh)

D: Okay, okay,.. just shut the fuck up and let me ask John, then. Layman, do you think dogs have lips?

J: My cats do. See?

Rufus: (loud cat meow into phone)

D: (laughing) Was that really one of your cats?

J: No comment.

D: When does the first issue of Puffed come out?

D: It hits shelves nationwide on July 16th. Dig it and dig it well!

D: Any closing comments?

D: Yes. I've got this weird black lump on the middle toe of my right foot. I can't tell if it's a mole, a planter's wart, or some sort of alien insect trying to burrow its way into my brain.

D: Isn't your brain in your head?

D: Yeah. The fucker's got a long way to go.

D: (laughing) It's probably just crabs.

D: (laughing) That would explain the milky discharge.

J: Got milky discharge?

LEARN MORE ABOUT PUFFED HERE, AND VISIT DAVE CROSLAND HERE.