After many years of publishing fanzines, and while still attending Loyola University Chicago, Andrew Pepoy sold his first professional work and was soon working for Marvel, DC, and other major comic book publishers on such characters as Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, The X-Men, Fables, Scooby Doo, Sonic the Hedgehog, The Simpsons, Betty & Veronica,Godzilla, Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Wallace & Gromit, and many more.
Starting in 1995 Andrew Pepoy also wrote and drew his own comic book feature, The Adventures of Simone & Ajax, which was re-launched online in 2007 at ComicMix.com and recently collected in print from IDW Publishing. Now Andrew is launching a new website for Simone & Ajax with new weekly adventures.
First Comics News: Who is Simone?
Andrew Pepoy: Simone is an early 20-something girl who is smart, mischievous, and clever, but whose love for adventure sometimes blinds her to the practicalities, so she sometimes leaps into the fray without thinking of the consequences. She’s a big comics fan, liking all sorts, but shares withAjax a particular affinity for the classic adventure strips and comic books. She’s also a huge fan of ’80′s punk and new wave music, her favorite being Captain Sensible, who Simone andAjax have gone to see several times in past adventures.
Andrew: Ajax is a small, green dinosaur, who, while also smart and clever, is a bit more cautions. After all, he is pretty small, so he brings a good balance to Simone’s occasional recklessness by trying to make sure that they actually survive their adventures. He’s also a big comics fan, but musically prefers old jazz and swing. And he’s Simone’s pal, not a pet.
1st: IsAjax real or imaginary?
Andrew: He’s very much real! There might be a few legs seen bitten in past adventures that still have his teethmarks to prove it.
1st: How did Simone andAjax meet?
Andrew: They met one day at an art museum in a story serialized in “Arrow Anthology” in the late ’90′s. When a firefight broke out between the tough museum guards and a battalion of PWB’s (pudgy winged babies) who were fighting for royalties for all the merchandise they were on, both Simone and Ajax ducked into the same closet for protection. At the end of that adventure they decided they made a good team and, both in need of a friend, decided to become roommates. After being thrown out of Simone’s apartment building because of “no pets allowed,” even though Ajax wasn’t a pet, they moved into where Ajax had been living, the ruins of an old church, Rene Des Chartres Cathedral.
1st: IsAjax the only dinosaur?
Andrew: As seen in “Simone, Queen of the Jungle,” in 2008, there are other dinosaurs, but they’re more the kind you expect. No other small, talking dinosaurs seen yet.
Andrew: He so far hasn’t mentioned them.
1st: What is Simone & Ajax’s relationship?
Andrew: They’re best friends. They share a few interests, such as comics and old movies, and have a shared love of adventure. They’re good travelling companions and always have the other’s back.
1st: Would you classify Simone & Ajax as a classic funny animal strip?
Andrew: Classic, perhaps in the way there’s an inspiration from Carl Bark’s Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comic books or Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse comic strips, but it’s as much inspired by Roy Crane’s “Wash Tubbs and Captain Easy” or Dan DeCarlo’s early “Josie” comics, so while it has talking animals, it’s not really a funny animal strip in the same way Pogo would be.
Andrew: They were created separately in college, but I teamed them up in a short story for my college arts magazine in 1989 and published in 1990. They made their first comic book appearance in “Ragmop” #4 in 1994.
1st: What keeps you coming back to them?
Andrew: They’re just fun to play with. A cute girl and a little dinosaur I can send to cause chaos in any time or place I want… Without a Tardis! It means so many possibilities. And the people who’ve had a chance to read them in the past seem to really like them, so I’m encouraged by that to do more. When Yvonne (Batgirl) Craig asks me about them, I know I have to make more.
1st: You just launched a new Simone & Ajax website, what is the plan?
Andrew: The plan is to serialize new stories a page a week every Tuesday. The first story, “Hi-Seas Hijinx,” a pirate tale, will run for 27 weeks, and I’ve already got a start on the next story. Sheriff Simone, anyone? I’m also offering free downloads of some complete, older, short stories and previews of some of the longer stories. I’m hoping to introduce new fans to their adventures through the new tales and give them a taste of what’s come before, as well as hopefully win back some of their older fans.
Andrew: To be honest, at the moment I don’t make any. But I’m hoping that as I build an audience I can attract some advertizing to the site, as well as sales through the webshop. I already have t-shirts for sale, and I’m hoping to eventually add prints and comics. Once stories have run, I hope to issue regular comic books of them and, once a few stories are complete, publish paperback collections, as well as make the collected stories available to buy digitally. It’s still early, so I’m still making this up as I go along.
1st: Will all 27 pages be available for the 27 weeks?
Andrew: Yes, all 27 pages will be up through the course of the story, as well as for a while afterwards. I’d guess eventually I might pull some of the older stories down once they’re available for sale, but I’m in no hurry. I want the readers to have a chance to discover and enjoy Simone & Ajax without being forced to buy it. Hopefully they’ll like it enough for free that they’ll want to buy it.
Andrew: The adventures will continue with a new story. My plan is to keep it going for the foreseeable future. I have plenty of ideas for new stories, so as long as there’s an audience, Simone & Ajax will keep going.
1st: Any plans for Simone & Ajax in other media?
Andrew: Not at the moment, but I’m not against the idea if done right. A while back there was a well-done screen treatment written, and a couple meetings were had. Didn’t work out, but if the right opportunity came along with the right people and company, there could be Simone & Ajax movies, games, toys, etc.