Q&A: Wuvable Oaf Creator Ed Luce
Wuvable Oaf: a big, burly, beefy, bodacious, bad-ass bloke who loves Morrissey, kittens and men. Oaf originated four years ago as a single drawing for a paper doll– but Oaf was destined for bigger things. Artist Ed Luce’s drawing evoked such visceral responses from his friends, he decided to expand Oaf’s presence into a comic book series. From there, an entire universe was born.
Ed could have easily allowed Oaf’s legacy to end after that first illustration, but the character was imbued with a very rare graphical immediacy. Like Hello Kitty or Emily the Strange, Wuvable Oaf is an icon whose mere image evokes instant responses from strangers. Through comics, t-shirts, scratch n’ sniff cards, international art shows and 7″ singles, Ed and Wuvable Oaf are step by step taking over the world. Read below to find out what life will be like after the Oaf regime takes power, and don’t miss Ed Luce at San Diego Comic Con July 12-15!
What are you working on these days? Is there a new issue of Wuvable Oaf in the works?
Since the release of the latest Oaf mini-comic, Kisses Kerry King/Rawk Gawdz, I’ve been working mostly on anthology stuff for other people. Family Style, a Portland-based publisher, puts out a very fun sword and sorcery comic called Elf World, with a revolving group of creators; the first “Wuvable Ogre” tale is in issue #3.
I just finished a story for Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever #1, a new series based on the original comic about punk legends Rollins and Danzig in a domestic partnership. Oaf’s wrestling alter ego Goteblud will make an appearance in Mark Rudolph’s upcoming Satan Is Alive Mercyful Fate tribute comic, celebrating the early 80′s metal band. I did the cover and a color Oaf story for Robert Kirby’s THREE #3, also featuring work by Carrie McNinch, Howard Cruse and several other prominent queer creators. And by the time people read this, we’ll have released the first DIY Oaf Doll Kit, which I had a lot of fun designing and sewing.
We’re also honored to be included in Justin Hall’s upcoming No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics anthology, published by Fantagraphics; it reprints some early Oaf stories. Oaf will be making an appearance in Bruno Gmunder’s FUR The Love of Hair, which is a color coffee table photo book celebrating all things manly and hirsute, coming out in May.
Later in the summer, I’m looking to debut two new shirt designs (I can tell you one– OAF HULK!) at San Diego Comic-Con.
It may seem like I take these long breaks between proper Oaf issues but in reality I’m working non-fucking-stop!
Oh yeah…Wuvable Oaf #4 is set to release in time for the Alternative Press Expo this fall! I hope.
What can we anticipate from Wuvable Oaf in the future? Do you already know the direction the story and characters will take, or does it evolve with each issue?
I’d like to finally get a collected trade edition of Oafs #0-4 and all the minis out in 2013. Expect more minis, including a cats only issue featuring the Oaf Hybrid Cat (from the shirt design).
I have plotted future story arcs for all the Oaf characters, as hinted at in issue #0. Once Oaf’s date saga with Eiffel wraps, we’ll be following Smusherrrr in #5, with back-up stories about Oaf stalking Eiffel on tour. My collaborator Matt is writing the Smusherrrr arc, which will have a somewhat different tone than my stuff. Darker, stranger…and quite possibly funnier. I’m really looking forward to it!
How did you learn to draw comics, and what were your earliest comic inspirations?
I dabbled with comic strips in college but once I left for grad school, I was all about painting, performance and installation. When I returned to comics with the Oaf project, there was something of a learning curve, in regard to putting together an actual sustained narrative. So I feel like my first attempts at sequential storytelling bear the marks of those growing pains. But really, I’ve bought and read comics my whole life, so working with that visual language felt fairly natural. I just applied my technical skills to a different medium and method.
Gosh…earliest inspirations?! I’ve collected Marvel and DC comics my whole life, but I wouldn’t say they particularly inspired what I do now. I have to admit, when I first discovered indie comics, I was reading a lot of Dan Clowes and Chris Ware. But honestly, I feel like the Oaf is a reaction against that stuff more than anything; the sort of sardonic, depressive vibe that’s permeated a lot of indie comics since the late 90′s. I guess you can be inspired by something in such a way that you want to make sure you’re rebelling against it…?
To more directly answer your question, early on I really admired the drawing styles and large casts of characters in the Love & Rockets books. The Hernandez brothers put a lot of love and time into creating those worlds. Gilberto has always been my favorite; I love his kooky character designs and textures.
Who are some of your favorite up and coming artists? Who’s making work that inspires you?
I had a great experience chatting with Chris Houghton at WonderCon this year. He and his brother Shane put out Reed Gunther via Image Comics… it’s just a joy to read. Playful, sweet, unpretentious. One of the few books I could recommend for all ages that doesn’t feel pinched or cloying.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I’m not sure if people are sick of me talking about Johnny Ryan yet (maybe he is) but I’m definitely inspired by his Prison Pit series. It’s as nasty, sexy and violent as any hardcore porn. I know some of my gay friends really don’t like the imagery or language but honestly, the first book reads like some radical, extreme erotica, if can make the mental shift. It’s all about penetration and regeneration, with literal and metaphorical erections throughout. And no, I don’t care if homoeroticism was never Johnny’s intention. Seriously, I could go on and on about its conceptual merits…awesome stuff.
What makes you laugh?
My partner Mark and my cat, mostly. As any cat owner knows, felines spend a lot of time trying really hard to look cool and act sophisticated. It’s this general aloofness that makes them all the more hilarious when you catch them doing something silly. After I sewed the first Oaf doll together, I had a solid hour of mirth photographing my cat Luna’s reactions to it. Ultimately, she let it ride her…and I don’t think I have to tell you how amusing that was.