Interview: Joe Kelly Brings A Bad, Bad Dog To Comics

Back in 2009, writer Joe Kelly and artist Diego Greco launched Bad Dog, a series about a drunken werewolf bounty-hunter, and all the weird stuff that follows him around. It was unique, funny, gross, and occasionally heart-breakingly touching. The second issue came out quickly, followed by a short break before the third issue came out… And then nothing.

After nearly a year and a half, the newest issue of Bad Dog finally hits comic stands this Wednesday. To find out more about where the series has been, where its going, and a little bit about the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, we checked in with Kelly. And now you’re reading that interview! So hooray for you:

MTV Geek: Hey Joe! I don’t know if you noticed, but there hasn’t been an issue of Bad Dog published since, oh, say, October… Of 2009. Cough. Why the delay?

Joe Kelly: Are you allowed to take the fifth in a web-interview? The dirty truth is the simple truth that I've been shouting all along - it's me. Me me me. I've been extremely busy with the animated work - Generator Rex and Ultimate Spider-Man, both with my Man of Action bruddas - and so a lot of stuff has been set aside "for later." Only later never comes!  I also moved and did a massive renovation to my new home, so I didn't even have an office until about 2 months ago. So it's been a bit of an overwhelming year, and Bad Dog was one of the casualties...but we will rebuild him... Better, stronger. drunker.

Geek: I do hear we have the technology to do that… With a new issue finally hitting next week, how far ahead are you guys at this point? Have you completed issues 4-6, or are there still tweaks to be done?

JK: Issue 5 is being drawn and I'm finishing the script now. The deal from this point out is that we're not even going to solicit until we have a few in the can - I'm doing the same with Four Eyes - so that when we say it's coming out, it comes out.

Geek: With such a large gap between issues three and four, did you make any changes to make sure the book was new reader friendly? Or is it just continuing the story as usual?

JK: Nah, story as usual, though there is a page-long mea culpa on the IFC. I thrive on the guilt!

Geek: Were there any points when you said, “Ah screw it, it’s been too long,” and just wanted to not continue the series? Or was that never an option?

JK: Never. Despite the fact that my life has been a little askew for the last year and a half, it has always been my plan to continue creator owned comics - especially Bad Dog. Bad Dog is a haven for all of my NEED a place for that stuff, or it spills out into other stuff... like that drunk uncle crashing your basement hang out and hitting on your girlfriend. It's not cool, man. Not cool.

Geek: Okay, annoying housekeeping stuff out of the way, for those who haven’t picked up Bad Dog – and shame on them – what’s it about?

JK: Two bounty hunters who trip through life by the skin of their teeth. Lou is a werewolf who refuses to turn human because of his general disdain for mankind, and Wendell, a short ex-preacher turned sexual deviant. Lou is suffering an existential crisis, wondering if he's wasting his talents hunting scumbags and getting drunk when he could do more with his powers. Specifically, he's focused on a girl on a milk carton who seems to be popping up everywhere, as if someone was sending him a sign...

There is a ludicrous amount of substance abuse, bad language, questionable morals, a talking head in a refrigerator and dark hilarity.

I think that sums it up!

Geek: Moving on to issue four, where’s Lou when we open? Physically and mentally?

JK: Hung over!  He wakes up with a terrible hangover and cleans his kitchen as part of his guilt-driven OCD and has a philosophical conversation with Head that sends him back to the Office of Child protective services to inquire about the girl on the milk carton... It does not go well!

Geek: How about Wendell?

JK: After the CPS mishap, Lou calls Wendell and says "the words that must not be spoken..." and tells him they're going to Las Vegas for a weekend of mind-numbing debauchery. This will ALSO not go well... As the mysterious BAKER lives there.  That said, letting Wendell lose in Vegas is a little like letting a spastic child with a flamethrower loose in a gasoline store and telling him to "go play."

 Geek: There’s been some pretty, shall we say, gross stuff in the first three issues. What’s coming up in issue four that’s going to make our stomachs gurgle?

JK: Heh... it gets worse, that's all I can say. In fact, I told Diego that the spread in issue #5 may very well be the most disturbing and funniest thing I've ever seen committed to paper in my entire life.

Geek: Are we headed somewhere with our heroes? Some sort of catharsis at the end of these six issues?

JK: The series is meant to be told in arcs, and issue #6 (it may be 7 as the Vegas story is pacing a little longer) definitely has an end point, but the hope is to keep Bad Dog as an ongoing. Lou has been a sort of raging (but lovable) dick for a long time, so it'll take a while for an arc to form. Plus there are backstories for Wendell, Daisy, Deschain, Mr. and Mrs. Chico, etc. that I want to get to... Not to mention the girl on the milk carton!

So even though I've been slow, I have a lot of Lou's arc figured out.

Geek: Talk about Diego Greco’s work on the book… It seems like his style gets more refined with every issue.

JK: Totally - he's a genius. Super talented, and has brought so much to the characters that they truly live and breathe for me now. Plus, he isn't afraid of sex, violence, perversion nor existential angst, so he hits every corner of Lou's twisted world with the same skill. Plus, he's a great guy to boot!

Geek: While we have you, Man of Action is working on the Ultimate Spider-Man TV series… How involved are you? And what’s the process been like?

JK: Very mega involved. We’re Supervising Producers, overseeing story, etc. It's been fantastic. Marvel is awesome, the team breaking stories in the room is fantastic and generous with their creativity, and everyone is working really hard to produce a unique and fun take on Spidey. It's been a blast.

Geek: Are there ever moments where you guys have to tell Bendis, “No, that’s not what Ultimate Spider-Man would do on the TV show…”

JK: Thirty or forty times a day. Seriously, Brian has been great - he knows that they're two very different worlds, and he's really embraced the animated take.

Geek: With all the work you and the rest of MoA do on TV shows, why do you all keep returning to comics? What’s the draw, no pun intended?

JK: It is simply one of the greatest mediums for storytelling that we have. The creative control is second only to that of a novelist; you get to work with inspiring collaborators like Diego, Max, Ken, etc. And quite simply, we just love comics. I always plan to have a foot in comics - even if it is a very slow, somewhat distracted foot!

Geek: What else are you working on?

JK: Four Eyes, some other comics (some short and others full length) and more MOA properties as we continue forward on our path to full media saturation... And exhaustion!  We're hoping to make a few announcements this year, so stay tuned.

Geek: Good to hear it. Thanks for taking the time to chat, Joe.

 JK: Thanks again for checking in, and to all the BD fans - seriously, keep the faith. It's a long haul, but we're not giving up the ghost!

Bad Dog #4 hits stands this week from Image Comics!

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