Crisis Zone Cover Interviews 

Simon Hanselmann Enters the “Crisis Zone”

By | August 23rd, 2021
Posted in Interviews | % Comments

While we often question how well we have handled ourselves during the pandemic it is easy to wonder how some of our favorite comic book characters might handle the same trials and tribulations. Would Mr. Fantastic invent a super cure, would the Atom shrink down to a molecular level and punch the virus, would Superman say fuck this and just leave Earth?

Simon Hanselmann set out to answer the question with his popular characters from his Megg, Mogg and Owl series. Simon put the characters up against lockdown, Netflix, Antifa, tik tok and much more. Created in March of 2020 as the world began it’s move to lockdown, Simon began to release “Crisis Zone” as a webcomic. Now the series has been collected by Fantagraphics for physical release.

To learn more about the release of “Crisis Zone” and his experience creating it during a world wide pandemic we were able to speak to Simon Hanselmann. He discusses knowing his characters, what working on the series was for him, his year in comics and more.

A big thanks to Simon for taking the time to answer our questions. You can find “Crisis Zone” available in stores and online August 17th.

What do you feel you got most out of this experience making these comics and what do you hope readers are able to get from experiencing the book?

Simon Hanselmann: It was just nice to have something to focus on everyday, amidst all the dread and paranoia and chaos. I think that’s what the readers got out of it too, a little bit of satire everyday, a nice balm for the mind. I got a lot of very heartwarming messages from people all over the world who appreciated the work I was doing. It was a nice distraction for everybody involved.

Even at your level in your career was creating these comics on such a frequent basis helpful in how you saw your style and approach to creating comics? Is there anything artistically you learned, changed or experimented with over the course of the year of creating “Crisis Zone?”

SH:“I barely had time to think about what I was doing as I was doing it, it all just poured out of me. The main thing I was experimenting with was just working as fast as I could, simplifying things. Working with colored pencils is much faster than doing all the fiddly watercolors that I usually work with. Going forward I’m tempted to just do the colored pencils, I’d much rather have a new book out every year as opposed to every three years. There’s a lot of competition in the market and you gotta get this shit out, keep the readers hooked and entertained!

More and more I think the general public is “getting” that comics are a medium that for a long time has tackled very personal and heavy issues. I think over the past year we have really seen that just grow. Why do you think comics as a medium is so great at exploring these type of issues emotions?

SH: I don’t see a difference between comics, film, music or poetry, it’s all the same shit. I’m baffled by the idea that anybody could view comics as something incapable of matching the emotion of other art forms.

Comics are just cave paintings or Egyptian scrolls. Primal shit.

With the pandemic filtered through characters you created and have been working with for a long time did you have a pretty good understanding how they would react?

SH: Yeah, I know these characters like the back of my hand and I slapped the shit out of Covid with them. There’s definitely a benefit to sticking with the same characters for a decade, it’s a very intimate relationship.

For new readers to your work or someone looking for something to help maybe understand their own experiences over the last year is this a book anyone can jump into without a previous understanding of your characters/work?

SH: “Crisis Zone” definitely stands on it’s own within my output. Previous knowledge of the characters would definitely enhance the experience but also it doesn’t really matter, it’s a perfectly fine introduction to the universe for newbies.

Continued below

Lick some doorknobs, get yourself full of the covid and strap yourself in for a wild, emotional, cathartic and offensive ride!

You cover a lot of topics, news, and frustration over the past year in the book. When you were making it was there anything you found too difficult to tackle or something you wanted to but couldn’t find a way to bring it in to the comic?

SH: Nah, I threw everything in there, a big dirty soup. I’m not interested in self-censorship or worrying what people will think, that makes for boring, neutered art. I saw a gap in the market for shit that doesn’t give a fuck and just went for it. There were a lot of fights in the comments between different ideological factions. A certain segment of the readership would complain and moan and expressed an arrogant desire to forcefully “educate” me but these kinds of people were thoroughly ignored.

In addition to the many changes, the world experienced over the past year comics as an industry continued to have its own changes and for a lot of the year difficulties/reckonings. As someone who has long worked in I think the true independent space what did you take away from this year in comics?

SH: I had the best year of my life in 2020, personally and professionally. As cartoonists we literally had a captive market during the pandemic, I made as much work as I was physically able to and promoted the shit out of it, saw a ton of backlist sales, heavy engagement.

I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about not being able to work and missing the con’ circuit, I had no such issues… People want to buy quality, entertaining comics, I provided that and people bought them… It’s really quite simple. Just make good work and don’t act like a wanker and you’ll sell books and be able to buy food and have shelter.

As a lover for physical media I was very excited the series was being published by Fantagraphics who make such high quality books. When you were making the series did you have the thought of eventually it getting a physical release and was it an easy transition for the format you used for the web to the book? Also how nice is the book in hand???

SH: From the beginning of “Crisis Zone” I always intended for it to be a physical thing, initially just a self-published zine but then it kept ballooning in size so I hit up all my publishers around the world and locked it in for a proper book release. It was an easy transition to book form, just had to add a few extra bridging panels on each page to complete my classic 12-grid format I work in. The book came out okay, it’s just a basic-bitch paperback, it feels like a big dirty phonebook. No bells or whistles, I just wanted to keep it simple, the book is intended to be read and passed around and trashed. Put it in your toilet! Have fun with it!

Kyle Welch