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Jonathan Coulton and Greg Pak on their Kickstarter project 'Code Monkey'

Andy Ihnatko | April 16, 2013
Today, Jonathan Coulton and Greg Pak launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new comic based on JoCo's signature songs.

Today, Jonathan Coulton and Greg Pak launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new comic based on JoCo's signature songs.

With artwork by Pak's frequent collaborator Tak Miyazawa, "Code Monkey" will tell the story of a programmer who's drawn from the cubicle farm of one of a supervillain's legitimate business into a spacefaring rescue mission. He and his boss head off in an adventure against two chief adversaries: a robotic queen and their own general ineptitude. Code Monkey is at a strict disadvantage in any situation whose solution doesn't require him to manipulate an SQL server backend. And yes, alas, this includes affairs of the heart.

We interviewed the creative team via email.

TechHive: "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," starring the Bee Gees; "Harper Valley PTA," starring Barbara Eden; "The Gambler," starring Kenny Rogers; and of course, "The Christmas Shoes," starring Rob Lowe. And "Code Monkey" joins this list of songs that became fully-realized stories. What's the attraction?

Jonathan Coulton: As your list of hugely successful entertainment properties demonstrates, this kind of creative endeavor always works. It's basically like printing money (joke).

Actually, for years people have suggested to me the idea of creating some kind of larger work out of these songs that ties together the characters and common themes that seem to already exist in the same universe. A few groups have written and performed full-on Jonathan Coulton musicals, which is always fun to see. I've always liked the idea of getting these characters together and seeing what they have to say to each other beyond the internal monologues that already exist.

Greg Pak: Jonathan's my favorite current singer-songwriter because he's first and foremost a storyteller. Virtually every one of his songs features a strange, funny, relatable, and totally compelling character. Code Monkey's a perfect example. He's a hapless, put-upon computer programmer who seethes as his boss condescends and pines as the object of his affection ignores him. And he talks like the Hulk. What's not to love?

TH: Why "Code Monkey" and not, say, "Skullcrusher Mountain" or "Chiron Beta Prime," which seem to have direct storylines?

GP: Funny you should ask! Because the "Code Monkey Save World" graphic novel is based on several songs, including "Skullcrusher Mountain" and "Chiron Beta Prime"! The Coultonverse is a rich and varied place, and we're taking advantage of all of its strange nooks and crannies. Fans of zombies, robots, and curlers in particular may be pleased to know that we're also taking inspiration from "Re: Your Brains," "Future Soon," and "Curl."

JoCo: Indeed, as Greg points out, we're trying to bring together characters from a few different songs. One of the challenges is the almost immediate retcon you have to take on in doing this--these songs were not originally designed to fit into a consistent single story universe, so you have to bend a few rules. I'm super excited about the parts of this story that are new, the choices that Greg is making as he brings the threads together.

 

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