Comics writer and novelist, S.A. Check, is going to have a very busy year in 2019. His writing desk is covered with assignments on such comedic titles as The Three Stooges and the upcoming Laurel and Hardy comic, along with penning stories for characters like Casper and Zorro. If the comic work wasn’t enough, Check is also writing two novels, due out in 2019. Though his plate is full, he took a break from writing to give Scoop some teasers and details on these upcoming projects of licensed favorites and new concepts.
Scoop: How long have you been a writer?
S.A. Check (SAC): Good question! I considered myself more of a scribbler up until around kindergarten. Oh, you mean writer writer. Hmm. That’s a tougher one. I mean, I’ve been writing stories since I was a kid. I pull no punches about my love of comic books and science fiction/fantasy since the early ’80s, back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth…in parachute pants. I’ve always leaned more towards English classes over, say math class, even in high school, especially in college, probably why my degree is in English. Anyway, my first novel, Welcome to GreenGrass, came out in 2013, so that was where I earned my official published author tag, I suppose, but as any writer knows, there were years of hard work leading up to that date.
Scoop: How did you get into writing professionally?
SAC: Like anyone else, a little luck, a dash of skill, and a pound of persistence. I had a story I wanted to tell, so I wrote it down. It was fun. I wrote some more. I thought, “Hey, maybe someone else would want to read this?” I sent it out to prospective publishers. They said no. I thought, “Huh? That’s odd.” So, I sent it out to even more. They said no too. Maybe they don’t understand. I really, really want other people to read this. So, I kept sending, and kept getting rejected, until I finally found the right literary home for that project, and all the while, I just kept writing. I think my work in novels helped open the door to start writing for American Mythology Comics, which began with my run on The Three Stooges (and really, could there be a better springboard?!), and has continued into many other licensed books and original projects. So, I’d really say I’ve come full circle from reading comics and sci-fi to being able to contribute to the same mediums I love.
Scoop: You mentioned that you’re working on The Three Stooges comics for American Mythology, so what kind of shenanigans will they be up to in future issues?
SAC: I have had so much fun with this comic book! The boys are the closest thing we’ve ever seen to a real live-action cartoon in a beautiful eye poking, jaw slapping, gut punching, hair ripping ballet of buffoonery! The Three Stooges really signify everything American Mythology represents as a comic book company, because Moe, Larry, and Curly (and Shemp, and Curly Joe!) have become so engrained in our culture, their memories and shenanigans live on for the next generations of little stooges. The next issue coming up in May will mark three years I’ve been working on the book. “Astro-Nuts” is a new full-length story sending the fellas back into space where they’ll meet a few new faces and maybe a few old fan-favorites as well! Make sure you check it out! I snagged one of the covers for the book for a sneak peek! Cool, huh?
Scoop: It does look cool. What can you tell us about the upcoming Laurel and Hardy comic you are co-authoring with Jordan Gershowitz?
SAC: Yeah, so, there you go. I just finished jabbering about getting to write for one legendary comedy team, and here I am writing for another one. I mean, come on! How lucky should one guy get? We’ve poured a ton of work into the first issue to make sure we did our part in celebrating the laughter and fun Stan and Ollie brought to the world. It really was a labor of love, giving me a chance to dive back into all the movies and shorts the duo starred in over the decades! Decades! Let me share an example of my dedication: “Honey, can you take out the trash?” “Sorry, dear, I’m working.” “Umm…you’re watching a Laurel and Hardy movie?” “Exactly!”
We think fans of Laurel and Hardy will be pleased. As for that Gershowitz guy? He’s everywhere! He’s writing for TV, he’s writing for stage, he’s writing for comics! I’m pretty sure he’s taking over all forms of media, and we’ll all be working for him someday. He’s a talented guy, and it’s been a real pleasure splitting page time with him on this book. And let’s not forget the awesome art from Jorge Pacheco, who actually worked on Laurel and Hardy comics like 30 years ago, and is back in the saddle bringing our silly words to life. The book is a ton of fun, and I think fans will love it!
Scoop: What is it about the Stooges and Laurel and Hardy that maintains such lasting popularity?
SAC: They’re funny! They were funny on stage. They were funny on film. They were funny in person. They’re still funny today. And now, as much as any time in history, can’t we all use a good laugh? The only agenda they had was humor, and they showed that to us everywhere. They were baseball players, detectives, soldiers, and salesmen. They were under the sea, deep in the desert, up in a tree, or even in outer space (Did I mention the Astro-Nuts story?!). Whatever they were doing or wherever they were doing it at, they made us laugh. They made our grandparents laugh, who laughed with our parents when they watched the Stooges together, who then laughed with us as we watched and maybe shared a few memories.
Scoop: Turning to Casper’s Spooksville, which characters will be featured in your stories?
SAC: We took a fun turn with this new series and decided to give a little love to some of Casper’s secondary characters too. Don’t worry, everyone’s favorite friendly spookster still gets the limelight, but like the old Harvey comics did so well, we added some stories featuring some different fan-favorites. You can expect the Witch Sisters to make an appearance and maybe a solo story with a certain Ghostly Trio and even a new character who shows up to cause them lots of fun problems, as well as a couple more surprises! The book features stories by Mike Wolfer, Todd Clark, and art by Eric Shanower! Look for the big kick off issue starting in April with its very own Free Comic Book Day comic coming in May!
Scoop: Are you going for spooky Casper or funny Casper?
SAC: For the main stories, Wolfer is looking to take Casper to a place most fans would not expect to find him. Dum! Dum! Dum! (throws down smoke bomb – disappears to thunderous applause).
Scoop: Oh, mystery! On to another animated classic, you have some stories coming up in Rocky & Bullwinkle. I believe there’s going to be a spotlight on a certain Mountie?
SAC: Right! As we step on through the tour of my Saturday morning lineup of memories, I get to throw my literary two cents into some upcoming issues of Rocky & Bullwinkle with a couple new tales of Dudley Do-Right! They’re quick, fun, and irreverent, just like anyone who was a fan of the original cartoon series will remember. One thing American Mythology seems to always get right, and that’s keep the essence of the character true and the fans will follow. Probably why they laughed so loud at my whole “Dark Dudley” concept. I’m kidding. Maybe. The book is already a riot, and the main writer, Todd Livingston, has been consistently knocking it out of the park with his zany squirrel and moose stories, so I’m just adding a dash of Mountie to the book and going along for the ride.
Scoop: Tell me about the Zorro one-shot you’re working on. American Mythology’s take on the character has had a supernatural angle. Will you introduce some scary foes?
SAC: Okay, this one is in the early stages, so…shhhhh. I actually have the story done and we’re deciding on creative teams to move forward and where it would work best with the pending story lineups. American Mythology let me get a little creative with the character here and I think it’s safe to say Zorro’s never been featured in a story quite this way before. I’m really excited to get this story out there, and yes, it does follow with the current supernatural bend AM’s placed on their Zorro stories, and yes, he’s never…ever faced foes like these before! I’m just glad to help celebrate Zorro’s 100th anniversary with a new story! I’m looking forward to getting this one out there.
Scoop: Are you working on anything else that you can share?
SAC: I’ve been developing a new sword and sorcery fantasy series in conjunction with AM. The story is done and we’ve been working on character designs for the last couple months. I think we’re hitting all the right notes, and it’s going to appeal to both existing fans of the genre as well as new readers by putting our own twist to it. It’s an epic story full of budding heroes, magic, fantastic creatures, and the evil looking to bury them all. Hopefully, I’ll have more information to release on it soon! We’re hoping it hits stores by the end of the year.
Scoop: Given what you are working on, you clearly have a talent for comedy. But, there are plenty of funny folks who struggle to generate it on paper. How do you write for comedy?
SAC: Good question. I suppose you just try to be honest and wear it on your sleeve. I don’t think you can force funny, but you try to find the humor in the situation. When I’m working on licensed comics, I think it’s important to do your homework and become familiar with the characters and their quirks, because, one – you owe that to the fans, and two – your stories ring truer. It can be intimidating writing books like The Three Stooges and Laurel & Hardy because these guys were the pinnacles of their craft. My goal is to produce a story that helps celebrate the geniuses they were and the smiles they brought to so many people.
Scoop: You’re working on several popular comedy and family-friendly comics. What other titles/characters would you like to work on?
SAC: Everything. What? I’m not kidding. I’d love to keep working through some more of my childhood cartoon heroes. I’m having a blast with that. I’d jump at a chance to work on a new Dick Tracy comic. Wouldn’t that be cool? I love the Muppets and was excited to see their resurgence! Animal! Animal! Definitely some good classic science fiction would be cool, like The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits. Those types of series are so much fun for a writer because you can go so many places with them. Some of the newer sci-fi centric shows like Black Mirror are taking the genre in wild new directions.
Scoop: Switching to novels, the synopsis for your new middle grade novel Legend Gary through World Castle Publishing sounds awesome. Can you break it down for our readers?
SAC: Sure. Gary Livingwood is your average kid, who just happened to grow up with a family of cryptid hunters. Sounds pretty cool, right? Gary thought so too until his father went missing, and grandpa went a little bonkers. That was five years ago. Nowadays, Gary is just trying to survive eighth grade. The day before his birthday, Gary gets a visit in his school bathroom from a living tornado with a message from his dad, and his day just gets weirder from there. He finds himself teamed up with a folk hero from the old west as they battle satyrs, demons, skinwalkers, and more, as they try to stop the villainous Dastard Black from bringing his own version of nightmares into the land of the living.
Scoop: How did you come up with that idea?
SAC: I love urban legends and folklore, and living in such a diverse and wonderful country, we’ve got more than our share of them. I wanted to do something to focus and celebrate those fantastic tales and pieces of our shared history. No matter where you live, everyone has the creepy house at the corner, or the thing that lives under the old bridge, or the characters passed down from our parents, and their parents, and so on. I just used as much of that as I could and bound it all together in a fun family cross-generational romp that I’m hoping entertains a few people.
Scoop: I’m assuming your other novel of the year through Necro Publishing and Bedlam Press will be a scary title geared toward adults? What can you tell me about that book?
SAC: Monkey Farm should be out early this summer from Necro Publishing. This publisher has been putting out some of the best horror books in the business for decades. This is my second book out with them, and I really feel fortunate to work with these guys. David G. Barnett runs the pub and he just won a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in horror, so I think I’m in good hands.
The kids around Rumors Mill all knew the grounds around the Monkey Farm was off limits. The dark branches of the woods surrounding the abandoned lab held whispers of secret government experiments and creatures that lurked the property at night on both two legs and four. Effin found that out the hard way when one of his friends didn’t make it out of those woods alive. Ten years later and Effin’s past finally catches up with him when another child goes missing near the Farm. He knows returning home means facing his past, but someone, or something is calling him back. With the help of the only two people who still believe in him, the ghost of his best friend, and the girl he left behind, Effin begins a search for a missing child, but ends up unlocking the secrets of the Farm’s checkered past and his own lost childhood.
Scoop: It looks like 2019 will be a very busy year. Do you have other projects in the works or are you already booking gigs for 2020?
SAC: I have a couple original comic projects in development that I’d like to see hit shelves in 2020, and American Mythology has a couple more aces up their sleeves for new licensed series before the year is up. Hopefully, I’ll be involved in some of those in some capacity. As for now, I’m looking forward towards the rest of 2019. As a writer, I’m in a pretty fun place, and I just want to thank everyone who enjoys what I’ve been working on and I hope you keep reading!