Brian Winkeler, a writer, and Robert Wilson IV, an artist, were patrons of New World Comics, 6219 N. Meridian. Store owner Brian Berlin thought the two should meet.
Soon after a fateful lunch outing, the plot and characters for Knuckleheads, a quirky series of their own, was born.
Winkeler said they loosely adapted the concept from Green Lantern’s origin story: An alien descends to Earth and bestows a weapon of cosmic power on an ordinary human.
“We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if the guy the alien chooses is a fat slob?’” Winkeler said. “He’d be hungover when he got the weapon, so he can’t remember the directions.”
Knuckleheads initially was an eight-page story. After positive feedback from other comic artists, they decided to self-publish a full black-and-white issue which the pair touted at HeroesCon in Charlotte, N.C.
Shortly thereafter, fate came knocking in the form of MonkeyBrain Comics, a publisher that allows creators to retain ownership of their work.“MonkeyBrain isn’t inviting everybody, so we’re super-honored that they think enough of our work to ask us,” Winkeler said.
Hard work paid off. The first digital issue of Knuckleheads is available starting April 3 at comiXology.com.
Winkeler said the team — which also consists of colorist Jordan Boyd of Norman and letterer Thomas Mauer, who lives in Germany — has a goal to produce 12 issues, with a new one coming out every four to six weeks. Each issue will include bonus content.
Sometime next year, Winkeler said, the Knuckleheads crew hopes to publish the collected work in book form.
With the industry in constant change, Winkeler believes comic book shops will endure as a niche market.
“We don’t want record stores to go away. It’s a cultural thing. It’s the same with comics,” he said, noting their sense of community. “There’s something cool about going and meeting friends there. Now, I go with my kids. I hope that digital comics can grow, but I hope they don’t wipe out comic shops. That kind of culture is hard to replace.” —Alyssa Grimley