The OF Blog: Phil Shaw Interview

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Phil Shaw Interview

Hello Everyone

Say hello to Phil(Bob) Shaw and Tom(Roonas) Civill, the team that brings us Sacred Pie!! If you have not read Sacred Pie yet, Shame on You!!! Linger here for a few minutes and see what Phil has to say, then click the LINK at the bottom of the page. Once you have read through the story, don't miss or skip directly to the movie segments, come back and ask questions of Phil and Tom in the replies below. They will be in the evening of Saturday March 15th to answer them.

At the very bottom is an area where you can tell everyone how simply wonderful Sacred Pie is!!

Thanks for coming in!
Kick back, grab a beer, enjoy Phil's warm up before spending the rest of the day catching up with Bob, Roonas and Sid......

1 ) First, let’s cover the partnership between you two, Bob and Tom. I know the site gives some information but, for the sake of context and the enlightenment of those who are going to rush
there after reading this, could you tell us how you two got together in the first place

Well, it was way back in 1999 when we first started really hanging out on a regular basis. We had met through a mutual friend (Martyn in the comic) who Tom had known since Jr. High and I met my first day of college.
Then, one fateful afternoon, I was hanging out in the "the apartment" with Tom (aka Roonas) and Sid, talking about yet another comic book idea that I had. As I'm spitting out the first bits of the Sacred Pie idea, Roon says "Well- draw it."
And I did.?

2 ) Bob, the predominance of black & white, along with the general feel of the comic, reminds me of the days when Kevin Eastman first came along with teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Were these comics you read and possibly drew any inspiration from?

Actually, yes. Kevin Eastman was one of the first artists I got into when I moved away from Marvel comics in my early high school days. My other black and white indy comic inspirations include Ben Edlund (The Tick) and Drew Hayes (Poison Elves).
I wish I could say that these guys were what inspired me to stay black and white, but it's mostly a matter of time management. I'm just really slow when I color- I'd never be able to keep up with my updates if they weren't black and white. (That's why the full-color Pokey Monster chapter was only 11 pages long.)

3 ) Some of the character costuming and personality reminds me of Golden Age comics, such as Blue Beetle, Phantom and Shadow, were these comics you read when coming up?

Not really. I never read many Golden Age comics; I was a full-on Marvel kid until I was in High School.

4 ) The back story was an almost scary amount of religious history for a light hearted comic. It passed quickly and incorporates well, laying a very good premise for the entire storyline from there on. Is religion a major part of your life? Do you see this as a way to share some of that knowledge with an audience that may otherwise not take the time to learn about it?

Religion is indeed a big part of my life. I am a practicing Catholic with years and years of Sunday school education to draw religious references from. I don't see Sacred Pie as a "religious" comic- it's a tale of the struggle between good and evil. In my own belief, the subtle, eons long campaign against each other is the best example of that.

5 ) I love the panels containing only one or more of the characters in a freeze frame expression or blank stare. The emotions, or simple pause for thought, that are conveyed are brilliant. Has this become a trademark in your style? Do you use it intentionally, or simply see it as the only way to express the moment?

Most of those are just my way of doing a "funny take". Most of the time, I'd rather have them react to something with a well drawn facial expression than a witty one-liner.

6 ) The impromptu responses from the characters, such as the scene where they had to pick one of the group to fight solo in the pit (“not it”, “not it”, “crap” and the opening scene where The Traveler dies in their living room (“dibs on the gloves”, are hilarious. So, writing genius or actual behaviors of the people the characters are based on?

No writing genius here. We actually talk like this.

7 ) I noticed that English is the standard language throughout the universe. I wonder if this is a commentary on the state of the world today, or simply a way to simplify the writing of the story.

I followed George Lucas's lead here. He invented a language he calls "Basic" that all of his sci-fi characters seem to understand, so why can't I.

8 ) Beer and cigs, available everywhere. So, there is hope for the future!
Many sci-fi stories tend to show the society as being “past” these types of activities. Is your version intentionally taken in the opposite direction to show what you see as more likely?

Yes, indeed. I'm a big fan of what I call "dirty sci-fi". I don't like the clean, pristine look of the utopian future. Wherever we go, humans will be humans. We'll drink beer, eat cheese-fries, and shoot before asking questions. I don't see why other alien races wouldn't have the same bad habits, either.

9 ) Bob. He’s always getting his arse kicked. Is this self deprecating humor a reflection of how you see your life, or simply a tool of the story?

This is a little of both. In any trio of friends, one will always tend towards the "comedy relief". Since in real life, I am the clumsiest of the three, I opted to be the crash dummy.

10 ) There are a few “tasteless” jokes thrown in, such as “Kill Whitey” (during the uprising against Diego) and “Suddenly I’m craving Chinese food” (after the cat people are thrown in the fire). It seems as though you’ve picked such harsh stereotypes to show your distaste of them in real life. Do you use these stories to draw attention to the inappropriate nature of these types of sentiments?

Yeah- that's why they are funny. When Bob utters "Kill Whitey", it's clear that he has no idea what he's doing. Most of the humor we use in Sacred Pie is very subtle, but every once in a while we fall back on a planned joke. Usually kind of dry, or trite, but funny- because it sticks out from everything else in the comic.

11 ) Roonas talks to the audience, or makes reference to the comic itself, several times.
So, were you a big Bruce Willis fan too? Or, just a fan of this comic bit?

Actually, Roonas kind of reminds me of a kinder, gentler Zack Morris.

12 ) There have been several parodies in the story (i.e. Fantasy Island, Star Trek, Star Wars, Willy Wonka and Pokemon ) so far (btw, thanks for killing Team Crochety…..that was lovely). Do you plan to continue with this?

I think that I will always give small nods to people and things that inspire me. The Pokey Monster chapter was fun to do, it gave me a chance to break out a little and stretch my artistic legs, but, as Sid said at the end of the Star Trek parody, "I don't feel like doing any more spoofs."

13 ) WetWerks. Tell us all about them, if you would.

These are guys that went to college with. Rob (the drummer) and Seth (the lead vocalist) lived down the hall from me my freshman year in college. We kept in touch after college, and now they're a really successful local band on the verge of being a "big time" band. I love referring to them on Sacred Pie; it's my little way to support the band. (By the way, you can learn more about WetWerks at )

14 ) Was there a change in drawing style during chapter 11?

I think that may have been one of my "growth spurts". Every once and awhile I learn some new way to draw something, or an inking trick, and my art jumps up a notch. I hardly notice it happening, but Roonas has pointed it out to me a few times.

15 ) The movie that served for chapter 12 was a lot of fun.
What inspired such a large move away from the existing style for part of the main storyline?
The Pokemon chapter was also different, but also not so imperative to the story.

I think that chapter 12, War, is going to be what sets Sacred Pie away from most other online comics. It was a huge turning point in the story, so I wanted to make it stand out a little more. Plus, I was starting to get into a drawing rut, so I needed something new and exciting to do.

16 ) Foreshadowing a little with “Sid” helping them find the ruby and The Admiral(Roonas) pointing them in the right direction weren’t you?
Do you have all of the time travel and changing of history details worked out?

Yes we do. Roonas and I actually meet and make time to "officially" work on Sacred Pie. We go over possible story holes, plot lines, time travel problems, and a host of other storyboarding duties. Thus far, we have nearly a decade of Sacred Pie loosely plotted out.

17 ) What does the future here in this time and planet have in store for Bob, Roonas and Sid?
Do you hope to take this comic to print?

Excellent question. We are going into print this summer actually. An upcoming chapter will be available in print, months before it is posted online. Roonas and I are also going on the comic book convention circuit to promote Sacred Pie as well.

-Phil Shaw

Thank you Phil and Tom!! That was a load of good stuff, hopefully everyone is either writing their questions and comments or clicking the LINK to catch up with the series first! I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to be with us and I look forward to reading your replies to the members here on the evening of Saturday march 15th.


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