[Interview @ ConNooga 2009 Day 3 (Sunday)]
In my time going to conventions I’ve been able to speak with folks from a variety of backgrounds. Traditionally these are music artists, comic/book writers, or voice actors. At ConNooga ’08 I was able to branch out from my usual shell and venture into the web comic world! Even better then that I was able to speak to two of the minds behind the Monday Night Crew, a comic which I’ve been following since ConNooga ’07. Here for your pleasure, for the first time in written form, is that interview.
Zippy: I’m speaking here with the two of the creators of the Monday Night Crew web comic. Is this your first year here [at ConNooga]?
Danny: This is actually our second. Jason our artist [here with me today] he and our other writer Ben were both here last year.
Zippy: How has it been this year? Are you enjoying your self more? I know you have a table this year I didn’t get to see you all last year.
Jason: Yeah we had a table this year as well as last year and I think for the second year of this con they’ve really done a good job in their organization. They’re so much more well put together and better organized. I think the schedule was a little crazy but other then that you know there’s plenty of room for the artists, and their layout for the show floor’s a lot better. We’re really happy and most importantly there’s more attendees then last year. That was the really big difference that I see. It’s a lot of fun and the people here are really great, really nice.
Zippy: Well I’m glad you’re enjoying yourselves. Hopefully you got to [promote] the web comic a lot. Let me just have you guys kind of talk about it, either one of you or both, and just kind of say what you’re about.
Danny: Yeah [I’m] Danny and I do all the programming for the site and I do some of the writing. I share some of those responsibilities with Ben. The Monday Night Crew started when we worked for EB Games and Ben and I worked there for several years, as well as a couple of our friends, and we wanted to do a web comic that was based in a videogame store. A lot of our inspiration sort of started with the established comics Penny Arcade of course being one, also Dueling Analogs, Fanboys Online, and a couple others that we have as favorites and then some that aren’t related to videogames at all. We came up with doing anthropomorphic characters, that is animals that act and behave like people, just to sort of differentiate ourselves from the pack. We had a lot of growing pains starting off. We weren’t really quite sure what to do. We knew that we wanted to have a consistent updated schedule, but beyond that it was pretty loosey goosey. Now we’ve gotten to the point where we do three updates a week, we’re about to get to the point where we have another major revision here in the next couple months which will add a lot functionality and value to the site, and we have a lot of long-term plans for doing [the comic] which include things like merchandise and additional content that’s not already present on the site that we hope our fans will like.
Jason: [interjects] And books too.
Danny: And books yeah.
Jason: We’ve got our first book out which is Games & Dames. When did we print that?
Danny: June of 
Jason: So it’s a fairly new book. It’s a detective story with our same characters. We view it as a promotional piece and we hope people will like it.
Danny: It’s a small book meant to give sort of the idea of what the Monday Night Crew is in a different kind of setting. Even though it’s set in the mall, the story is very different. It’s not a short daily kind of comic like the ones we normally do. It’s a sixteen page long story so it’s not incredibly long but it’s meant to sort of whet the appetite of the reader.
Zippy: I know you were handing out a single comic here too [at ConNooga ‘09] just to spread the love for Monday Night Crew as well.
Danny: Yeah that was another promotional piece, one of our mini-comics, where we actually took one of our recent comics, one that was done last Friday, and one that was done about a month, month and a half ago and we put those together in a comic and gave that away as a little freebie to again, yeah same basic idea, [whet the appetite]. The printing costs for that were a lot less than the costs for “Games and Dames” so we were able to give that away for free. That’s sort of a little added incentive, a little bonus and marketing.
Zippy: What’s your overall incentive for creating a comic? Do you guys think [you’ll] see yourselves financially stable through the comic or is it still just a past-time that probably takes up most of your time?
Jason: It started out as not necessarily a hobby, to do a web comic you have to be a little more serious than a hobby because you have to update every week, or every three days, or every day depending on whatever your schedule is and you can’t miss those dates, so it’s more intense than a hobby. Long term yeah it’s going to be a financially viable product for us. We’re just in the beginning stages of that now. Of course we’re only two years into it and I think we have a pretty good readership for that time and long term you’re going to see a lot of things from us, books and other merchandise. I can’t believe how many requests we get for stuffed animals. I guess that just comes with having with animals in it. People want to see plushies so that will hopefully be one of our early merchandise endeavors if we can find a cheap way to make them I guess I don’t know.
Danny: Yeah I think the core of it really is that we do enjoy doing it. I mean I enjoy writing it, and I enjoy programming it and Jason I know enjoys drawing it.
Jason: [interjects] Well not all the time.
Danny: Sure not all the time.
Jason: Some of the stuff you write…
Danny: I’m notorious for filling panels full of dialogue that I have to cut back by half. Far too many words and artists don’t like that, Jason included.
Danny: It’s something that we enjoy but we would like it to become something more in the future [so] that we’re not dependent on full time jobs that we go to which squeezes our free time to do this thing but we do it anyways. But we do enjoy doing it when we have the opportunity.
Zippy: Would you say coming to a con and sort of getting the word out is one of your biggest methods for getting new fans or is it just honestly word of mouth?
Jason: I would say both. The cons in general serve a good purpose for us to actually interface with our fans one on one and talk with them. I personally get a lot out more benefit, for me cons are about number one advertising and number two getting feedback from our fans, so we know what they like. Ultimately we’re here because we enjoy this but we’re also here for our fans too. We want to give them something they’re going to like. So it’s nice to talk to people and find out what they want too, and I know probably the majority of our fans are probably referrals, and they find us through other sites. A number of different sites will repost our comics and stuff like that, like Joystick.com, and pretty soon we’re going to be on CrispyGamer.com.
Danny: I think one of the biggest advantages of cons, and I think Jason will agree with me, is it sort of reinforces the point that we don’t do this in a vacuum. We’ve had people come up and have explicitly told us that it’s good to see us here because they can sort of talk to us and they can let us know we’re doing this but that people are actually reading this and enjoying it. Because I get numbers that come out that I pull off the web server and I see oh we had so many visits, so many hits, tah da tah da, and those are still just numbers, those aren’t actual faces or stories or people. I can’t really associate anything with that beyond [sheer volume of visitors] so you just sort of become disconnected from the community, but cons are really good for bringing you face to face with the people that you’re there to entertain and really that’s the entire point.
Zippy: We’ll I know I’ve had a good time meeting you here, and I’m sure a lot of people here have too. Thank you for this interview and I hope to see you at future conventions and see your continued work online.
Jason: Thank you.
Danny: Thanks so much it’s been a pleasure.
To check out the Monday Night Crew’s web comic go to www.MondayNightCrew.com
They update every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
(This interview was adapted for text and published here by permission of the Tokyo Tower show)