A mutual monster affection made partners in crime out of Jesse Bausch and Jim ("Barf") Callahan when they met several years ago at Velocity Comics. Instrumental in forming Oddgod Press with Patrick Godfrey in 2002, Bausch was intent on creating a story for Callahan, a 28-year-old jack-of-all-trades, to illustrate. In July 2005 they produced the first issue of "Strange Detective Tales: Dead Love," followed by the second that September.
Now Bausch has done what most 35-year-old public finance lawyers do: quit his job at McGuireWoods to pursue his career in writing comic books and screenplays. After a two-year wait, he and Callahan are finally about to release the third in their series. Style talked with them about little green mafia men, monster porn and the kind of audience they have for their comic.
Style: Can you describe the plot of "Strange Detective Tales"?
Bausch: The basic story is about private investigator Renfield, who is looking for an ex-girlfriend that has gone missing under mysterious circumstances. He starts looking through the monster community for leads. The little green mafia is involved, and at the same time, he finds out that Mary [the girlfriend] was involved with making monster porn. Renfield ends up being framed for the murder of Howard Hughes' pimp, or go-to guy for drugs and women. At the end of the second issue, Renfield and a doppelg„nger are holed up at the AA Ranch, hiding from Howard Hughes and the mafia and the cops.
Callahan: The third one is, I think, the one that, action-wise, delivers what everyone has been expecting from the other two. You get to see it all happen on-screen or on panel. The last one is more violent but still has slapstick charm to it. It's definitely a lot grosser. I enjoyed this because I obsess about detail. Splatter lends itself to a lot of detail. I had a blast drawing it.
What do you have to say about monster porn?
Bausch: There is no actual monster porn in these comics.
Callahan: There are some intentionally cropped filmstrip shots. There's a fat tentacle blobbed monster doing fan dancing. Kind of like Jabba the Hut with a lot of nipples. She has a bow in her hair to indicate that she's female.
Who is reading "Strange Detective Tales"? Do you have groupies?
Callahan: I don't know. I think there are a lot of people that enjoy the concept of comic books that are tired of the same beaten-into-the-ground superhero cliché that have been made for the last 70 years.
Bausch: We don't do a lot of stuff online, but whenever we go to comic book conventions, there are people there who have read our books.
Why did it take so long for the last issue?
Bausch: The first two came out in '05. The third issue took a while because Jim did his own graphic novel called "Rotting in Dirtville," and then he broke his arm skateboarding. That held us up for a few months.
What do you have coming up after this?
Bausch: I am working on a book whose title I need to change. It was called "The Experts," but there's already another comic by that name. Anyway, it's about an interdimensional rescue team that travels through the universe. If a comet is coming to destroy your planet, they can help you because they deal with that sort of thing every day.
Callahan: I have a six-issue book coming out with Rick Spears, a Richmond native who lives in Brooklyn. It's still too early to say what it's about exactly. There's also a production company in New York that will be helping to make "Strange Detective" into an animated short that may go on to become a TV show or movie. You'll be able to watch them online at hungrymantv.com before Halloween. S
Bausch and Callahan will be at Velocity Comics at 904 W. Broad St. Aug. 30, 7-9 p.m. for the release of the third issue of "Strange Detective Tales." 225-7323.