Simon Hanselmann is a sharp-witted Tasmanian rabble-rouser and cartoonist who writes intensely hilarious (trust me, you’ll literally LOL) comics about a depressed stoner witch (Megg), her feline lover (Mogg), their long-suffering avian roommate (Owl), and their motley crew of friends, including a werewolf famous for his epic, ludicrous party antics (Werewolf Jones).
Hanselmann’s been making comics since the tender age of 8, lovingly producing full-color booklets of his work and distributing them person-to-person wherever he could. But aside form provoking the ire of his high school principal, Hanselmann had trouble connecting with anyone outside a small handful of hardcore comic fans.
Then, earlier this year, Hanselmann decided to release a boatload of his comics for free on his Tumblr, Girl Mountain. As he explained to The Comics Journal, “I figured why the hell not just put it all online? At least then people will see it and perhaps know that I exist outside of my circle of friends and perplexed people at shabby, shirtless noise-shows.”
Now Hanselmann’s work is being enjoyed and shared by leagues of readers across the globe, and big-name magazines and publishers are starting to take notice. Read on to find out the how Hanselmann got so hilarious and which one of his characters has broken out as an Internet sex symbol!
After joining Tumblr earlier this year, your work exploded in popularity. What sort of surprising or unexpected feedback have you received from fans who discovered your work on Tumblr?
It’s just really surreal getting feedback in general, I’m so used to being way off of anybody’s radar, existing in tiny, insular, local chap-booklet scenes. It’s totally awesome getting heaps of really weird, cool/creepy “fan-art” and it’s nice when people tell me my jokes are landing sometimes and my work doesn’t totally suck.
It’s also scary and totally freaks me out. I have a lot of trouble with being alive sometimes and interacting with other meat-swaddled animated skeletons. Weirdly I’ve had several emails from different people who want to “date” Werewolf Jones. Werewolf Jones is apparently becoming some kind of bad-boy teen-idol.
It’s also really bizarre how well-liked Truth Zone (my criticism strip on Comics Workbook) has become with actual “big time”, “academic” “comics-critics”.
I need to keep up my game. People are watching me now.
One of the things that makes “Megg and Mogg” such a joy is your impeccable comic timing. What shaped your sense of humor?
Most likely my “Augusten Burroughs style” upbringing… I’ve always been surrounded by a lot of dysfunction. My Mother’s been a full-time “intravenous enthusiast” my entire life and Tasmania is full of psychopaths and dog-fuckers and just scary, SCARY people.
To deal with it all I became a sort of “Chandler” (from the hit sitcom ‘Friends’) type character, throwing out quips in the middle of the Christmas-morning vein-openings.
Life has predominately displayed a propensity to be unbearably difficult and depressing and everybody around me is weak and frail and seemingly unable to cope with being alone.
I cleverly use “comedy”, in my daily life and in my art, to cope with my crushing fear, guilt and weakness. : )
Also I watch a FUCKLOAD of sitcoms.
What kind of magic powers does Megg have?
Megg has no powers. She used to, in high school, but now she gets way too high and is way too depressed to pull off any of that complicated shit anymore.
She used to be able to rollerblade really well too, like full ramp-skating, but she can’t do that anymore either.
She did manage to ride a broomstick in that episode where Mogg had to get to his noise-show but she was so drunk she didn’t even realize it happened.
Why does Owl put up with so much abuse from Megg and Mogg?
They’ve been friends for a long time and are pretty much a 3-person domestic-couple at this point, plus Owl is quite often very drunk and forgets certain cruelties.
Owl IS somewhat well-adjusted and capable of success, but has horrible self-worth problems.
Spoiler alert: shit is going to go down in some upcoming “official continuity” story-arcs. Owl might be moving out…
Would you consider your work “stoner comedy”? Also, Megg and Mogg enjoy watching everything from iCarly to Kenneth Anger to an automatic car wash stoned. What’s your favorite thing to watch between bong rips?
When i started doing Megg and Mogg stories in ’08 i did set out to make it a “drug comic”, just the “stonedest” thing possible. It was my version of ‘How I Met Your Mother’, but stained with resin, and REAL…
I guess it’s a “stoner dramady”… All of the upcoming plots are about getting older and reality and weakness and the human brain. It will be much closer to ‘Requiem for a Dream’ than ‘Harold and Kumar’…
IMO, the best thing on television right now is ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’.
As evidenced by that awesome and hilarious letter of reprimand from your high school principal, you have an impressive pedigree when it comes to printed matter. In your opinion, what makes a good small press, and what are some of your favorite presses operating today?
Yeah, in the past fifteen or so years I’ve done everything from standard “zines” to “hand-bound hardbacks painted with blood” to “slideshow VHS cassettes” to “origami”. But probably the one thing that matters is hot content. Good writing, good taste. AND killer style. But above all, good jokes, and good sadness… and distro, that’s important. I could never get my shit together distro-wise…
Being trapped in Australia and having only recently gotten my shit together and gotten onto the internet properly, I’m only just getting my head around the current worldwide small-press scene and slowly figuring it all out and trying to find all the buried treasure.
Currently I’m excited by Space Face Books (Mack’s got a pretty hot BCGF line-up), Oily Comics (the whole thing is just utterly fucking charming), and anything that’s coming out of the whole Deforge/Paddy Kyle “zone” (scary/inspiring workaholics).
When can we expect the first “Girl Mountain” book to come out, and what can we look forward to from that series?
I was just talking about this yesterday with a group of local cartoonist friends. I kind of don’t want to release it at all… I drew it ’06 through ’10 and it just feels like a bit of a mess to me. It needs a heavy edit. I would prefer that a 244page fully-painted colour comic not have to be put aside as a “learning experience” and “a mistake” but maybe it’ll have to be… and i’m okay with that.
If I do continue with it, readers can expect lots of awkward, teen graveyard-sex, space travel, rooms that make you want to die if you go into them, haunted space-travel and black magic. It’s 1000 pages long, it spans 7 years, it’s glacially paced, it was written by a kid.
I might just re-start the whole thing or pick its wreckage apart for other purposes… I’ll probably at least show it to some publishers at some point in the future but Megg and Mogg are now my main focus for at least the next 3 years… they’re consuming all of my time. I’m head over heels in love with them.
And I think I learnt from some of my mistakes.
What are some of your favorite comics that came out in the last year?
Deforge is still on fire and is truly frightening, I get a fair amount of shit done but HOLY HELL. I hope he gets a boyfriend or a girlfriend soon and stops freaking everybody out with his intense sleepless bachelor shtick.
I can’t get enough Dane Martin. Aidan Koch is awesome. Mickey Z is awesome. Negron is awesome. Heather Benjamin‘s drawings gross me the fuck out but in a beautiful heart-warming way…
Most of my favorite comics right now are coming out of my best friend HTML Flowers‘ bedroom, he’s getting better and better at comics and i’m super happy that i have such a cool BFF. I LOVE him (I LOVE you, buddy. CUTE BOYS ALERT).
Also in Melbourne, Michael Hawkins is doing some hot shit, we’ve been friends for 10 years and I LOVE everything he does. Marc Pearson is about to release a pretty nice looking new book, he’s getting pretty good. Lashna Tuschewski is really fucking cool and i wish she’d make a million more comics. Sam Wallman is totally cool. Michael Fikaris is printing up really great tabloid anthologies. I dig Katie Parrish too, she’s pretty cool.
Also I love Megg and Mogg. I’ll sit around for hours laughing at that shit. Oh, wait… I do that one… LOL