‘Bible’ Talk: An Interview with Nick Gurewitch

The Perry Bible Fellowship is one of the most popular and refreshing comics published online. The Bureau’s Kevin Nguyen and Nick Gurewitch, the series’ writer and illustrator, discuss Garfield, Tagged, and Hillary Clinton.

Vengeful rodeo clowns, insensitive relief effort workers, fornicating lizards, the Kool-Aid guy—all characters that have shown up in Nick Gurewitch’s dementedly hilarious online comic strip, The Perry Bible Fellowship. Called The PBF for short, Gurewitch’s work has attracted a substantial internet fan base, cornering off readers who aren’t too offended by the thought of Super Mario drowning in a toilet.

Perhaps it’s the somewhat surrealist sense of humor (a very literal suicide note) or the strip’s versatile illustrative work (a strip that parodies Edward Gorey), but The PBF scores high marks for wit and creativity. The site has been appropriately recognized for a number of awards, including an Ignatz Award for Outstanding Online Comic in both 2005 and 2006.

The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other StoriesStill, Gurewitch, at 25-years-old, has made a transition that most webcomic artists don’t—to print. The Perry Bible Fellowship has appeared in alternative publications like The Weekly Dig and The Chicago Reader, as well as a number of other newspapers and magazines. This October, Dark Horse Comics will publish Gurewitch’s first collection of The PBF strips, The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories.

Bygone Bureau: So, The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories is set to drop this fall. If you had an unlimited budget behind a 30-second television ad to promote it, what would it look like?

Nick Gurewitch: I’d probably have the king character from the “Colonel Sweeto” strip discussing the nature of betrayal over a roving camera view of the Candyland crowd, as it’s seen on the cover of the book. I might end on the image of the King holding his scepter as he stares out the window at the crowd.

Your work has been compared to that of Gary Larson’s Far Side. Do you see The PBF in the form of day-by-day calendars in the future?

I don’t think I’m prolific enough for something like that. I still don’t have enough to fill an entire year.

What would you do if someone compared The PBF to Garfield?

I’d say it was a fair comparison—if alternate comparisons were to a table or a lampshade or something.

Is there an individual comic that you are particularly proud of?

I’m quite proud of the comics I haven’t made yet. Ideas that haven’t been drawn, as they are in my head, always seem like the best—especially when I act them out for friends. Despite the obvious gains, there’s always something lost whenever you force your visions on to a sheet of paper.

Mario Too

“Mario Too,” courtesy of Nick Gurewitch.

Are you making a living off The PBF?

It pays the bills, yeah. I’ve never really thought of it as a job though. I rarely make the mental correlation between the checks that come in and the drawings I do each week.

Does being a minor internet celebrity at least get you the girls?

Being a minor internet celebrity gets you requests to join Facebook . And this thing called Tagged , I think. I’ve been getting a lot of e-mails that say “Jeremy has TAGGED you”, or “Are you Jake’s friend? Please join, or he’ll think you said no.” It’s all very unsexy.

I read on Wikipedia that you were developing a program called Daisy Garden Story Time for Comedy Central that didn’t get picked up. What was the project about?

Oh, that was pretty neat in theory. The show would have provided a realistic live-action follow-up story to lame children’s storybooks, much in the manner of a strip I did called “Billy the Bunny.” The storybooks would have been created just for the show.

Angry Hammer

“Angry Hammer,” courtesy of Nick Gurewitch.

In an interview you did with Esquire (a.k.a. Maxim for People Who Don’t Admit to Reading Maxim), you said that you would like to be President. Do you have any thoughts on the issues of immigration or healthcare reform?

Yeah. If I took a stand on them though, I’d do my best to make sure I was remedying the problems that created these problems. It bothers me how much of politics involves fighting violently over issues that wouldn’t exist but for the defunct morale of our populace. We need a nation full of heroes, and we need leaders who can make the path to heroism more attractive. I’m saddened to see how the path of least resistance has become “the way” in our culture, and how thoroughly our minds are immersed in it from day one.

Speaking of which, who’s your favorite 2008 presidential candidate so far?

I adore [Barack] Obama, but will likely vote for Hillary [Clinton]. The beauty of having either of these qualified people as president would help me cope with the tragedy of a slithering, confused man-child playing the role for 8 years. Actually, I’m kidding myself. I’d celebrate his replacement with a parrot, chimp, or gelatinous ooze.

Kevin Nguyen is a founding editor of The Bygone Bureau. His only marketable skill is an above-average knowledge of European geography. He has been useless since the introduction of the atlas in 1477. Reach him by email or follow his Twitter account.