Motor City Comic Con: Interview With Ryan Lee & Chris Meeuwes

While walking the convention floor one booth caught my eye. In a sea of indie comics trying to grab your attention I assure you this was not an easy task, but the art on display at this particular booth stood out. It was like Todd Mcfarlane and Sam Keith, but not all early 90’s. After a quick chat with the fellas behind the booth I had purchased a copy of The Naturals. After promising the two creators that I wouldn’t read their book on the crapper ( where most my reading and writing is completed….) I headed home to see if handing over my 5 bucks was worth it. Thankfully I was not disappointed. The story was like Gareth Ennis and Todd Mcfarlane had a baby and that baby was obsessed with World War I. It was off the wall, but totally sucked me in. I quickly contacted the fellas behind the booth and set up an interview….

You guys run into any celebs at the after party last night?

Chris Meeuwes: Jason Momoa was there. I was hammered and was like, “Hey man, can I get a picture with you? I really like Game of Thrones!” and he said, ” No man. I tell everyone no.”.

That’s so weird! He gets his picture taken for a living! You think he would be use to it!

Ryan Lee: He’s a handsome fella. If I was him I would take every opportunity to look good. If I was him I would just be walking around the lobby with out my shirt on!  He did pay for his own beer…

Really! It wasn’t an open bar?

Ryan Lee: Just a humble man I guess..

A humble man who does not want his picture taken with his fans!

Chris Meeuwes: Yeah! Then you got Hershell [Scott Wilson from the Walking Dead] walking around and taking pictures with everybody. He doesn’t care!

Did you see his line?

Chris Meeuwes: No, I haven’t.

It’s huge! It’s about  as long as Karl Urban’s!

Chris Meeuwes: What happened to his character on Walking Dead?

Someone told me the Governor kills him…

Ryan Lee: He slices his head off. It’s like slow and really gross…

Chris Meeuwes: I like those fast decapitation. More gross!

Okay let’s get on with the interview! How did you two meet?

Chris Meeuwes:  Up in Traverse City, where we are from, there is a nice small convention called The Cherry Capital Convention, Comic Con now, but a couple of years ago we did pre-con event. We had a big name artist come in. He did signings, sketches and all that crap. So I was there with a bunch of my friends and Ryan was there new to the area. I didn’t know who he was. He seemed cool he had his portfolio. He was very cool….

Ryan Lee: AND HANDSOME [laughing]

Chris Meeuwes: We smalled talked and bullshitted. I had an artist at the time for my book but he jetted. So I called Ryan and said I you wanna work on this with me and that’s when the magic happened!

Ryan Lee: And nothing has been the same since….

Tells us about The Naturals?

Chris Meeuwes: I can sum it up in three words: Booze, Blood and Bad Words! The actual premise is: During World War I each country had a super power solider who fought for them except Germany. That’s part of the reason the lost the war. Now there’s a mad scientist (who is German) is hunting down the super soldiers to kill them and there’s this schmuck who gets stuck in the middle.

You guys decided to go with a web comic instead of a traditional print comic (although you can purchase a print copy of the book). Why go digital?

Ryan Lee: Well, we figured we could immediately start getting feedback. That would help as a motivator to keep us going.  We were always doing this for free anyways. We also wanted to try out the medium. It seemed like it was pretty viable for a lot of people. It ended up working out pretty good. Every week you can see your fan base grow. It’s pretty cool as opposed to doing it my free time page by page.

Do you release a page a week?

Ryan Lee: Yeah we do. It’s a little off schedule right now. We try to get up every other week now.

Why World War I as the setting?

Chris Meeuwes: I really like World War II. One of my biggest inspirations is The Goon. I absolutely love The Goon. The thing I like about The Goon is you don’t know an exact time frame. You just have an idea when it takes place. When I was coming up with the idea I wanted to do somethings with Marvel Characters. I had this big idea where the Red Skull was actually the good guys and just misunderstood. I figured it would be too hard to pitch, so I figured I would come up with my own characters. At that time I had just started reading Image books like Invincible and was like Wow other people are doing this I better give it a shot!

You mentioned Eric Powell, who happens to be my personal Jesus, who else influences you?

Chris Meeuwes: I really like Eric Powell, Rick Remember and Jason Aaron. There’s a ton, but those guys are who I’m really into right now.

Ryan Lee: I love so much different types of art. I’m a big fan of Chris Burnham.  I like Rafael Grampa. All the Hellboy stuff. I love so many artist and get inspired by them all. A lot of it doesn’t even show, but it’s all there.

You both are clearly story tellers? Why comic books as the outlet?

Chris Meeuwes: I grew up on it. It was never a choice.

Ryan Lee: I came up on it. I’ve been getting comics from party stores and grocery stores since I was a kid.It’s always been comics.

I was expecting the standard “All the ass I get from comics!”…

Chris Meeuwes: [Laughing]

Ryan Lee: All that web comic ass!

Where can people get The Naturals?

Chris Meeuwes: They can go to Thenaturalscomic.com. There’s a link on there to go to the store and you can follow us on twitter at @Meeuwesings @RyleeArt .

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