They look like rock stars and they're not even in the comic book. They create the bloody thing! ART OPS #1 writer Shaun Simon and artist Michael Allred provide the creator commentary to end all others, replete with generic beer, cautionary tales, and the infamous Kubrick glare.
SHAUN: What is art? Is it just something to look at, or does it have power beyond tying a room together? I believe the latter is true. The Art Ops know it. The concept was simple—art is real. It can leave its frame or step off its pedestal. The job of the Art Ops is to patrol this “escaped art” and figure out how to handle it. Most art that leaves its frame is smart enough to stay hidden. It’ll blend right into society, and you’ll be in line at a coffee shop standing behind a Renoir and not realize it. Other art wants to stand out and let people know what it is. That’s when the Art Ops show up. The thing is, we aren’t supposed to know art is real. It’s a secret. This knowledge can traumatize our delicate little psyches and lead us to question our own humanity. The people who have seen a Jackson Pollock trotting down Broadway either cannot comprehend the idea and brush it off as an eye trick—“It must have been the way the sun hit those balloons”—or end up in psych wards trying to summon the ancient art gods to bring them a frozen dinner.
MIKE: I CONCUR.
SHAUN: Ok, enough hyper-babble about what this book is. Let’s see it happen.
SHAUN: We wanted to come into this book like it had already existed for years. The old Art Ops team, led by Gina Jones, is on what appears to be an art heist. It is an art heist, but not the kind we’re used to seeing.
MIKE: IT MIGHT BE INTERESTING TO FOLKS TO LEARN THAT THIS SEQUENCE ORIGINALLY APPEARED LATER IN THE SCRIPT. WHICH WORKED. BUT I LOVE HOW MOVING THE BIG HEIST/RESCUE SEQUENCE UP FRONT GIVES IT A KIND OF "PRE-CREDITS JAMES BOND MOVIE VIBE."
Page 2, Panel 5
SHAUN: What’s the fun in stealing a framed picture when you can rip the figure out and bring her into our world?
MIKE: SO COOL! HOW COULD I NOT GET PUMPED TO READ A SCRIPT THAT LETS ME DRAW THIS SHTUFF?!
Page 4, Panel 5
SHAUN: Reggie Riot. Here’s the thing, if your main character is going to have his arm ripped off and replaced with a living piece of abstract art, you’re going to want to get to know him a bit first.
MIKE: WHO? OH, YEAH, OUR HERO! NOTICE THE "GENERIC BEERS"? THAT'S MY NOD TO THE MOVIE REPO MAN, WHERE EVERYTHING WAS GENERIC.
SHAUN: And Reggie’s right arm exits the stage.
MIKE: OWEE! LET THIS SCENE BE A LESSON TO YA. DON'T GO MAKING BACK ALLEY DEALS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.
Page 11, Panel 2
SHAUN: I’ve never done acid, but I imagine you’d want your mouth to be clear of anything that could ruin your trip.
MIKE: SOUND ADVICE. AND I'M SURE ANYONE WHO READS THIS BOOK IS CONVINCED WE REGULARLY LOW-DOSE ACID. YOU'RE NOT FOOLING ANYBODY.
Page 13, Panel 1
SHAUN: Mike Allred is brilliant, and this shot could easily be used as a cover for a romance novel about a hard-edged, stunningly attractive boxer.
MIKE: AW, THANKS, PAL. YOU'RE BRILLIANT TOO! AND YOU'D MAKE A GREAT ROMANCE NOVEL COVER MODEL AS WELL.
Page 13, Panel 3
SHAUN: This is just an amazing shot by Mike and Laura—a standout in the issue.
Page 14, Panel 1
SHAUN: Gina Jones. Is she based on Shelly Bond? Do I try and channel Shelly when I write Gina? I’m not saying.
MIKE: CROWD SCENES ARE WHERE ARTISTS NURTURE THEIR HATRED FOR WRITERS. WHEN I WRITE MY OWN STUFF WITH CROWD SCENES, I END UP HATING MYSELF TOO. BY THE WAY, I'VE LOST TRACK OF HOW MANY CHARACTERS I'VE CREATED THAT HAVE BEEN INSPIRED BY SHELLY BOND. SHE HAS POWERS BEYOND COMPREHENSION.
SHAUN: Out with the old and in with the new. Like I said, we wanted to come into this book like it already existed. I like to imagine there are tons of old Art Ops stories about this team, and maybe even past teams. For the sake of our story, we needed to get rid of them and create a new team. Oh, and yes, Banksy is off panel here, but you won’t see what he looks like until much later in the series…if you’re lucky…
MIKE: OF COURSE, I KNOW WHAT HE LOOKS LIKE SINCE I DREW HIM, BUT HE WAS TOO CLOSE TO THE TRIM AND GOT CUT OFF DURING THE PRINTING PROCESS.
SHAUN: The Body quickly became a standout character. Super heroes spend so much time on top of buildings at night. They probably get bored when there’s no action on the street and they have to do something to kill the time. Our resident super hero just so happens to have a passion for old sitcoms.
MIKE: I'M THRILLED WITH HOW EPIC THIS FIRST ISSUE IS. YOU WERE MASTERFUL IN BEING ABLE TO QUICKLY INTRODUCE MULTIFACETED CHARACTERS WHILE BUILDING UP OUR WORLD HERE. BY THE TIME THE BODY IS INTRODUCED, WE'VE ESTABLISHED THAT THIS IS A TITLE THAT WILL KEEP FOLKS ON THEIR TOES.
SHAUN: If there’s a better job than a grocery store bagger for a masterpiece like the Mona Lisa to hide out in our world, I am unaware of it.
MIKE: THE FOLKS WHO PUT THE DVDS IN THE ENVELOPES FOR NETFLIX SUBSCRIBERS WHO STILL GET DVDS. DREAM JOB!
Page 20, Panel 3
SHAUN: The Body is a gentleman and, being such, must inform those around him of any possible side effects. Why can’t people he doesn’t want to see him, actually see him? He’s not from around here. You’ll find out the answers to all these questions in issue 2.
MIKE: I OFTEN DRAW FRIENDS OR PEOPLE I DIG INTO CROWD SCENES. ON THIS PAGE, THIRD DUDE FROM THE RIGHT IN PANEL 3, IS I*** P**. (censored!) NOW EVERYBODY JUMP UP AND DOWN AND SING "LUST FOR LIFE"!
SHAUN: This is my favorite page in issue 1. It’s one of those quiet moments that can resonate over any big action or surreal scene you can conjure up.
MIKE: DRAWING ENDLESS BOTTLES IN A BAR ALSO GENERATES HATRED TOWARD WRITERS.
Page 23, Panel 4
SHAUN: So here’s the catch…if art is alive and somehow it became part of you, it would be alive in you and constantly try to take over, right? Right. This art arm of Reggie’s, as much as he has learned to deal with it and even profit from it, is still a cancer in him. The antidote is in a can of “MOD Ultra Hold,” a completely made up, but classic hairspray conceived in the late ‘60s.
MIKE: I SWEAR BY THE BRAND. IT GIVES MY HAIR RELIABLE HOLD, YET STILL REMAINS SOFT AND MANAGEABLE. AND IT SMELLS GOOD, TOO!
Page 24, Panel 3
SHAUN: Yes, the Body is pulling a document out of himself. He can do things like that.
MIKE: CAN'T EVERYONE?
Page 24, Panel 6
SHAUN: I love this “the ball’s in your court” last panel.
MIKE: THAT LAST PANEL IS KNOWN AS THE "KUBRICK GLARE.” IT'S FUN TO WATCH KUBRICK FILMS AND COUNT HOW MANY TIMES AN ACTOR DOES THAT WHOLE "GLARE THROUGH THEIR EYEBROWS" KIND OF STARE. KEIR DULLEA IN 2001, JACK NICHOLSON IN THE SHINING, VINCENT D'ONOFRIO IN FULL METAL JACKET, AND MOST FAMOUSLY, MALCOLM MCDOWELL IN A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. WHAT BETTER WAY TO END OUR FIRST ISSUE?
TO BE CONTINUED!