A title like Time Cheetah certainly makes you ask a few questions. It also might make you smile. AiPT! recently spoke to co-writer Carlos Guzman about his comic book that’s currently taking backers on Kickstarter and the wonderful world of action comedy.
AiPT!: Thanks for taking the time Carlos. What’s the elevator pitch for your book for those who may not have heard of it?
Carlos Guzman: Time Cheetah is a webcomic about a time-traveling cat man that punches time criminals in the face. It is NOT a drama. It’s an action/comedy webcomic that’s Doctor Who meets James Bond, except with a dude with a cat head. Which makes it nothing like Doctor Who or James Bond, really!
AiPT!: Why a cheetah? Why not an elephant, tiger or mongoose?!
Guzman: Because none of those other animals can time travel! Little known fact about cheetahs: once they hit 88 MPH, they bend the very rules of space and time and can travel to different eras. Combine that unique natural ability with a dude in a suit, and you have a time traveling cat man. Naturally.
AiPT!: Are there any comic books, novels or movies you took inspiration from when writing Time Cheetah? Miami Vice is one that springs to mind.
Guzman: I’ll give you one of each!
Comic book: Sam and Max! Absurdist anthropomorphic animal people occasionally take on weird criminal cases. More often than not, just get into bizarre situations. A very clear comedy inspiration on Time Cheetah.
Novel: I’ll cheat on this one and just say the short story collections of George Saunders, like Pastoralia and Tenth of December. Lots of excellent stories that are often affecting, but always very low-key funny.
Movies: Gremlins 2: The New Batch! Like a Marx Brothers movie with way more monster puppets. When we were writing Time Cheetah, it’s always our goal to tell a story … but we also strive to get to an anarchic comedy fever pitch by the end, which is something this movie does PERFECTLY.
And as far as direct inspirations on “Stalin Island” and “Miami Price”: James Bond films and Miami Vice, of course!
AiPT!: How did you pull this project together with Alejandro Verdugo, Matt Cossin and Mike Cossin? Co-workers, friends, DeviantArt?
Guzman: Alejandro’s my brother, and we’ve been brothers for at least 7 years, so there’s no real story there!
Matt and Mike Cossin I actually met at a local convention at San Diego. I had seen Matt’s art before on DeviantArt, I saw he was part of the convention’s Artist Alley, so I headed down to the San Diego Comic Fest. The moment I knew Matt was the right person for the job was when I saw a drawing in his portfolio of the poster for Jean-Claude Van Damme’s movie Double Team, the one that co-stars Dennis Rodman. At that point, I knew Matt would get Time Cheetah. I bought the drawing, e-mailed him about working together, and the rest is history!
AiPT!: The time travel in this book is pretty damn cool. How did you hash that out with the artist?
Guzman: My brother and I had a vague idea that Time Cheetah would run fast, he’d end up in a sorta time tunnel, and then show up in another time period. But aside from throwing Matt some reference for different ideas for a time tunnel, we really let him take point. And let me tell you, it came out far better than we had imagined. I kinda want to write an issue where Time Cheetah keeps forgetting things back home (like his keys, his wallet, etc.) and has to keep traveling back and forth to get all his stuff, just so I can have a whole issue of Time Cheetah running through time!
AiPT!: If this series was made into a movie who would be the ideal director? Or maybe it’s more for TV?
Guzman: For movies: none better than Edgar Wright! Love all his movies, and that energy and visual comedy style is an inspiration to my own comedy work.
In our heads, though, we’ve always seen Time Cheetah as an animated series. Though if it were a live-action TV show, the ideal duo to do it justice would be Dario Russo and David Ashby, creators of Italian Spiderman and Danger 5. Time Cheetah wouldn’t exist without these guys’ hilarious shows, so it only makes sense that in a perfect world where dreams come true and puppies softly rain down from the heavens, they would bring Time Cheetah to life.
AiPT!: Is there a part of the comic creating process you love the best? And a part you don’t like?
Guzman: My favorite part is when the collaboration truly shines, which is when we get pages in from Matt and Mike Cossin. I love writing something and seeing it brought to life with a dynamism and storytelling ability that is just unparalleled! From a purely writing perspective: since Time Cheetah only says one word, it’s always fun to come up with what he’s “actually” saying and how people respond or talk back. It’s where some of our best jokes come from!
My least favorite? First draft expository dialogue can be very tough to get through. There’s lots you wanna say or explain, but you also don’t wanna kill the momentum, and you also wanna find the right words that gets everything across to the reader. It’s tough and I usually overwrite exposition in the first draft, just to make the editing and subsequent drafts more about cutting down and molding than adding in explanations.
AiPT!: What’s your favorite method of procrastination?
Guzman: Reddit. All day every day.