Exclusive Interview with ‘Axe Cop’ artist Ethan Nicolle

A year has passed since the highly popular Axe Cop webcomic series was released and then instantly became an internet sensation. The comic’s uniqueness came partly from that fact it was written by a 5 year-old, Malachai Nicolle, and drawn by his 29-year-old brother, Ethan Nicolle.  Since then, Dark Horse Comics has teamed up with the Nicolle brothers to make the first direct-to-print Axe Cop mini-series, Bad Guy Earth.  Both the internet and print series are jam packed with random, over-the-top humor and action that could only come from the imagination of a child, making for a fantastic must read.  With last week’s release of the third Bad Guy Earth issue, the three part print series has come to an exciting and hilarious close.

To discuss Bad Guy Earth and Axe Cop in general, Stuff We Like had an exclusive chat with the artist behind Axe Cop, Ethan Nicolle.

SWL: Let’s start at the beginning, what in the world was going through your mind when you and Malachai first played Axe Cop on that fateful Christmas visit?

ETHAN: It was something to the tune of “this is hilarious… I should draw this.  I have to draw this.”  I had intended to not work on comics during that visit because I wanted to take a break, but I couldn’t refuse the call once the visual of Axe Cop entered my head.

SWL: After Axe Cop went viral, how well did Malachai understand that he had just gotten famous over night?

ETHAN: I think it has taken a while to sink in for him.  I don’t think he fully comprehends it now… but I don’t think I do either.  It’s best not to think about it in the end anyway.

SWL: How far into the first year of the series was it that Axe Cop and Dark Horse joined forces to publish Axe Cop: Volume 1 and the Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth direct-to-print mini-series?

ETHAN: We were talking weeks after the comic went viral.  The publishing offers started from day one. Dark Horse was both the company I most wanted to work with, and they made the best offer, so it wasn’t a hard choice.

SWL: Is Axe Cop illustrated traditionally with pencil and ink or digitally on the computer? Is the same medium used for the Bad Guy Earth series?

ETHAN: It is all digital.  I use a Cintiq and I ink using Manga Studio.  Bad Guy Earth was colored in photoshop.

SWL: How did the writing process for Bad Guy Earth differ from the webcomics?

ETHAN: Bad Guy Earth was all written in person (except a few follow up calls later) and created during real play times.  I spent a month with Malachai writing it, and it was the first time I really set out to see if I could get a full epic tale out of him.  Up to that point Axe Cop had been mostly written over the phone.

SWL: Now that Bad Guy Earth has come to a close, how soon can fans expect another direct-to-print Axe Cop mini-series?

ETHAN: We are planning one, but it will be a while.  I don’t know a date, but I know one is in the works.

SWL: A hot topic with your readers is will there ever be an Axe Cop video game or movie? Have any game developers or motion picture companies shown interest in making an Axe Cop game or film?

ETHAN: There has been a lot of interest from film and video game companies, but if there was anything really solid to announce in either medium you probably would have heard about it already because I would have been shouting it from the roof tops.

SWL: After more than a year’s worth of webcomics and a direct-to-print series, does young Malachai show any signs of wanting to write as a career?

ETHAN: He has mentioned it once or twice, but in general no.  He doesn’t look at what he is doing as writing.  He is just doing what he has always done, and that is play.  I just sit there with a note pad and write it all down, organize it, and question the heck out of him about it.  In a lot of ways, he does all the fun stuff and I do all the hard work.  He has never had to confront writer’s block, or a messy plot.  To him, writing means playing with his big brother.

SWL: Besides Axe Cop, are you currently working on any other comic related projects we should know about?

ETHAN: I am trying to get back on my other project titled Bearmageddon, which I had started before Axe Cop.  I am hoping to be putting up a page or two a week in the near future.

SWL: I’m pretty psyched to read the third and final installment of Bad Guy Earth. Without revealing any spoilers, what is your and Malachai’s favorite moment from Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth Issue 3?

ETHAN: I don’t know Malachai’s, but I think mine is the double page spread.  It is one of my favorite moments in anything I have ever drawn.

(Read ‘Axe Cop’ on AxeCop.com and pick up ‘Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth’ at your local bookstore today.)

Author: Robert Barnett

An artist, a film maker, a lover...