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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.

But what really makes it all work is that there's a kind of shared emotion threading through all of these songs and characters--a kind of longing. These are all characters in motion, all yearning for something just out of their grasp. That motion and emotion generates conflict and drama. Just great stuff.

TH: The first time I heard "The Future Soon" I thought that the kid narrating the lyrics could have been the subject of a movie...the song crystallized a certain kind of "teenage nerd filled with dreams and desires, but whose imagination creates a lack of focus and a lot of obstacles" that was, alas, quite familiar.

JoCo: Yes, it's remarkable how many people find themselves in that character. Apparently we're all sitting alone in our rooms, plotting our delicious revenge. And really this guy is the heart of the story I think--the sad villain who no one appreciates seems to tap directly into who most of us think we really are.

GP: Exactly. While putting this story together, I realized that the narrator of "Future Soon" and "Skullcrusher Mountain" could actually be the same guy at different stages in his life. And yes, I was totally compelled by that idea of a nerd-turned-supervillain, particularly given the character's hapless and hopeless romantic longings. Incredibly creepy, funny, and affecting all at once.

A big part of the fun of the story will be seeing this character, whom we're calling Skullcrusher, serving as a kind of mentor for Code Monkey. He's a very bad mentor, of course--and the question is whether the more innocent Code Monkey will go down the same path towards miserable villainy. Drama!

TH: Which sounds kind of perfect, because there's probably nobody at any company with the power for greater good or greater evil than the folks who write the code that runs everything.

GP: Heh. In the outline we've worked up, Code Monkey actually works for Skullcrusher's legitimate businesses, SKM Industries. So he may have knowingly or not been contributing to massive evil for ages now.

TH: I think it's fair to say that "Code Monkey" has become an anthem for the brave men and women of the International Coding Corps. To actually draw this guy must be like being the first person to draw Doctor Doom without his mask on...even if a fan can't tell you what he looks like, they probably know what's "wrong."

Is Code Monkey even male? How do you get that figure "right"?

Tak Miyazawa: To be honest, I didn't know much about the Code Monkey phenomenon until Greg asked me to be part of the team. Living in Japan for the past 6 years... I've been in a bit of a bubble. Anyway, I think it's safe to say I was seeing it with fresh eyes. Greg gave me a short bio of each of the characters and I was free to draw what felt right to me. I feel very fortunate about the amount of freedom I was given and the fact that Greg and Jonathan liked them so much!


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