Interview: A Chat with Mark R. Largent

wobblingdeadlogoboxOutside of conventions, I rarely get the opportunity to interview anyone.  I was very pleased, that Mark R. Largent (Stalled Trek and the upcoming the Wobbling Dead) could take a few moments out of his day to answer some questions I had for him via email.    Much thanks to him for taking the time.


BD: How successful has Stalled Trek been for you?   I’m rather a big fan of it and have convinced a few people to give it a watch!

ML: Thanks! There are many definitions of success. For me, personally, it was the completion of a dream I’d had 16 years before, so the simple fact that I was able to make it and have a real DVD to hold in my hand makes it a success no matter the other factors. Financially, there were more costs than I expected, but the sales at the conventions were definitely far above what I was selling with The Wannabe Pirates books. I would have to say the greatest thing I got out of the first year was getting to have a screening of it in the video room of one of the conventions last year. Even though they started it without me, showed it at the wrong aspect ratio and the sound was wonky, the experience of getting to see it with an audience was a big thrill. I was really nervous before hand, but when I heard the laughter and saw how much the audience was enjoying it, it really felt great.

BD: Have you thought about revisiting Stalled Trek for another episode?  I believe you mentioned something about a Next Gen parody last year?

ML: I gave serious thought to both another Original Series episode and you are right, my plan was to follow up with a TNG parodying the 2-parter, “Best of Both Worlds.” In the end, it felt a little like going back over the same path. I’m definitely not ruling out going back to them, but I felt like I wanted to change it up for the second time and instead of having two Star Trek parodies, have a Star Trek parody and something else.

BD: On the subject of new projects, you are hard at work with the Wobbling Dead.   What inspired this?
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ML: It was kind of bizarre for me after I finished Stalled Trek. I’d wanted to do it for so long and here it was finished and suddenly that thing that had been gnawing at me for 16 years was gone. In hindsight, I think it was part of the drive that had pushed me along during that time. Now it was gone and I can only describe it as being a kind of post-project depression. This thing that I had gotten up every morning to work on and stayed up late trying to finish was over.

I started thinking of a couple of follow-ups and they just weren’t grabbing me. There was the TNG parody you mentioned, an X-Men parody (of Giant Sized X-Men #1, an animated parody of a comic book!) and I thought about taking the easy route and just doing another TOS parody (a parody of the Romulan episode, Balance of Terror, called “Balance of Terriers”). Although there were aspects of all of them that I loved, like the idea of having a “living island” puppet in the X-Men parody, but I just wasn’t finding the inspiration to commit to them.

Puppet heads of some of the X-Men for the abandoned Giant Sized X-Men #1 parody.

Puppet heads of some of the X-Men for the abandoned Giant Sized X-Men #1 parody.

At a convention in November of last year, I was talking to a friend about this and saying that I just wasn’t finding the right thing to parody. Nothing was screaming at me. I was also reacting to the fact that there were many people who came up to the table who had never watched an episode of TOS. My friend said I might want to do something more current than a 46 year-old show.

My humor tends to run to the old fashioned and I was arguing that I couldn’t do anything really modern, because I didn’t have that sensibility. There were lots of zombies walking around the convention and I used The Walking Dead as an example. I said, I can’t do The Walking Dead because it would be too gory.

A few days later, I was having lunch with another friend and repeating the argument and I suddenly found out my argument didn’t hold water. If *I* did it, it would have *my* sensibilities and with puppets, they wouldn’t be gory at all. If you rip off a puppet’s arm, you just see some stuffing.

That triggered something with me.

When I was a kid, I loved monsters. There used to be these little black and white monster picture books, with orange on the back covers. In elementary school, I ate them up. (From Googling, I now know they were Crestwood House Monster books.) My mom hated monsters and wouldn’t let me watch horror films, so I would sneak these books out of the school library and draw Dracula, Wolf Man and Frankenstein’s Monster all over my school work.

The only other source for monsters I had came from a local station showing Abbott & Costello movies every weekend. They seemed to focus mostly on showing the ones with monsters (Meet Frankenstein, Meet the Mummy, Meet Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde, etc.) Mom would let me watch those.

The very first comic I ever drew was an assignment in the 3rd grade and I drew a parody of King Kong (called King Kung, stolen from the Cracked parody of the 1976 version.) I didn’t get to see the new Kong movie (or the 1933 version, either) and mom only let me read the novelization of the 1933 Kong.

The idea of doing a monster parody really taps into that old love of mixing monsters and humor.

In high school in the mid-80s, my friends and I went to every horror film that came out and I read every Stephen King book, thinking I was going to be a horror writer.

My first encounter with The Walking Dead was the motion-comic they released. I didn’t really graduate to reading the comics, but did watch the first season and enjoyed it greatly. Like many others, I kind of soured on the second season and stopped watching it.

With the idea of parodying it fresh in my mind, I went back and watched the first episode and started laughing at nearly everything. Everywhere I looked, there were potential gags. I re-watched the first season, watched the second and the third one started around that time. Since then, I’ve read all of the comics.

BD: Obviously, buying the DVDs would be of great support, but is there anything else that fans of your work can do to help the project out?

ML: Pledging any amount will help. As I write this, I’m only about 30% funded and this really is going to a be a make or break. If I can’t get the funding, I simply can’t do the project. One of the great rewards I’m offering is that everyone who donates $100 or more, gets to be in the movie! Well, a puppet zombie version of them does. I’ll take that person’s photo, make a puppet in their likeness and make it a zombie in the actual film.


BD: Do you have any other future animation projects that you have been thinking about?

ML: If The Wobbling Dead doesn’t get funded, I’ll most likely look for another project to try, but I’m not thinking about that. I’m focused on The Wobbling Dead and hoping it will make it to the finish line.

BD:  I imagine how much work goes into these projects.  Have you ever thought of doing a feature-length project?   Maybe even something around the same run time a DC Animated Movie, at around 75 minutes?  If not, why?

ML: I’d love to do something like that, but I think that would have to be an original film. I think it’s very hard to sustain a parody for the full-length of time. I mean, it has been done by Mel Brooks & Gene Wilder and the first Airplane movie, but the majority of parody features I see, throw in the kitchen sink, because there’s an aspect that it’s really just one joke and after awhile, it starts to become repetitive.

That said, the plan right now is to make The Wobbling Dead 25 to 30 minutes, simply because I’m parodying the entire first season, rather than just the first episode.

BD: You worked on the Wannabe Pirates and currently the Paunk Show, any other webcomics you have your hands in?

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ML: Believe it or not, Stalled Trek began as a webcomic in 1996 on an old homepage I had at the school I worked for. It was very primitive. At the time, I had to keep things small, and the dialogue was actually text that ran next to the images. I did have use some animated gifs, though. The gag of someone having the doors close on them was one of those. In 2002, I started a webcomic called, “The Adventures of Elliot Wangley.” I’d been laid off from the ad agency I worked and I did ten of them prior to launch. On the first day, when the first strip went up, I got called for a job and I never went back to the comic.

You mentioned The Wannabe Pirates that I did with Mark McCrary and we both also worked on a webcomic called Greyhawk & the Starbucklers.” It started as a graphic novel we did in the ’90s. We re-published it as a webcomic and then started a new graphic novel three years ago, that just wrapped up on the site.


We’re working on making a print version of that and we’re also looking into selling digital versions of both Greyhawk and The Wannabe Pirates.

BD: You enjoy working in webcomics industry?

ML: I enjoy working on comics, but I don’t know if I can qualify to be in the industry part. :-)

BD: Have any webcomics, comic book, or regular novels you currently read or would recommend?  Any particular animated movies or show?

Some 3D Fan art I did a couple of years ago for some of my favorite webcomics.

Some 3D Fan art I did a couple of years ago for some of my favorite webcomics.

ML: You know, I sadly don’t read a lot of comics these days. I grew up reading them in the 70s & 80s. Every once in awhile, I’ll get nostalgic and start buying comics again, but the histories and continuities and characters are all so radically changed that I find the books too unfamiliar to satisfy that nostalgic urge.

I love animation and watch a lot of the features as well as shorts online.

I do love all of the DCU animated stuff. Batman: the Animated Series really changed what TV cartoons could be and I’ve kept up with them all. I think the best animated series right now is Star Wars: The Clone Wars. It’s sharply written and the 3D animation gets better each season.

BD: Is there any advice you have to the readers about following a career in webcomics or animation?

ML: If you’re independently wealthy, make it a career. If you’re not, think of it as a hobby and enjoy doing it because you enjoy doing it.

BD: Where did you’re love for animation come from?  Your influences?

ML: Although I wish I’d had everything they have now when I was a child growing up in the ’70s, the one thing we did have they don’t now, is Saturday Morning Cartoons. It was a part of growing up and I watched them religiously. Without knowing they were decades old, I loved the Looney Tunes stuff. There was almost always some version of the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour on throughout my childhood.

I loved comics, but I really loved Mad Magazine and Cracked Magazine. I had inherited a box of Mad Magazines from the ’60s and loved them all. Cracked used to do a lot of monster parodies, which I loved.


Again I wish to thank Mark Largent for taking time out of his very busy animating schedule to talk with us.   If you’re interested in helping out, please visit his Kickstarter page and pledge a donation.   Let’s help him to see this one come to fruition.   And as an extra added bonus, he has sent the YouTube link with a few minutes of footage!