Alex Schumacher is an author/illustrator who has worked with the likes of Arcana Studios, Viper Comics, and DreamWorks TV. His first collection of literary magazine comics, Defiling the Literati, was released in 2017 to rave reviews. That same year Alex was also nominated for a ‘Best of the Net’ award for his graphic narrative collaboration with underground poet John Bennett. The monthly misadventures of Mr. Butterchips have been at Drunk Monkeys since 2016. A collection of the Mr. Butterchips was released by SLG Publishing in July 2020. Now Mr. Butterchips is moving to SLG and Alex Schumacher stopped by First Comics News to let our readers know all about Mr. Butterchips.
Alex Schumacher: Mr. Butterchips is a prickly, but well-intentioned anthropomorphic organ grinder’s monkey surviving in the fictional west coast town of Los Puritanos. He doesn’t enjoy long walks on the beach or traveling much, but he can easily be charmed with a nice bottle of whiskey.
1st: Why call him Butterchips?
Alex: The curmudgeonly capuchin is named after my mother’s favorite style of pickles. At times I wish I had a more compelling story behind the moniker, but sadly that’s all there is to the genesis. The “Mr.” was added as I find there’s inherent humor when such a prefix is used for a companion animal, even one with autonomy.
1st: What is his world like?
Alex: The world of Mr. Butterchips is a mirrored version of our own, akin to Berke Breathed’s Outland. It’s through this satirical hallucinogenic lens that the pitfalls of a “gig economy” are examined, while touching on such timely issues as class disparity and intolerance; amplifying the absurdity of what it means to be alive in a world which seemingly becomes more insane by the second.
Alex: First and foremost, the target audience are fans of quality comics! However, I’ll gladly embrace fans of inferior comics as well. I’d also like to believe this particular strip can appeal to a broad swath of readers who enjoy humor and satire. Should you have a thing for monkeys, this may also just be the series for you.
1st: Mr. Butterchips has a very liberal view of the world.
How did Mr. Butterchips deal with his world during the Trump administration?
Alex: I would say he is most assuredly on the more progressive side of the spectrum. Interestingly enough, I didn’t originally intend to discuss politics with this project. When the country lost its bearings in 2016, several months after the comic’s debut, I saw no other recourse but to combat the dark period that laid ahead with the platform available to me. Plus, I figured rancorous discourse would be more palatable when dispensed by a frenzied furball.
1st: What made Mr. Butterchips actively support Biden during his presidential run for office?
Alex: Biden may not have been at the top of Mr. Butterchips’ list of choices for presidential candidates, but he (like many of us) fundamentally understood that November of 2020 was no time for a protest vote.
Alex: Now that a more competent and diverse administration has assumed control, the salty simian was granted a respite of sorts from focusing solely on the policies of a skullduggerous government. Though there will always be oppression and inequality with which to do battle, this newfound interlude regarding the immediate threat of fascism is reflected in relocating the comic to such a surreal and fluid alternate reality.
1st: Mr. Butterchips had been at Drunkmonkeys.us for years. When did he begin?
Alex: The original monthly comic launched in April of 2016. It was intended to be a loving pastiche of the classic underground comics of the 60’s and 70’s. As touched on above, this objective significantly pivoted following the 2016 election. I received nothing but encouragement from Kolleen Carney Hoepfner (EIC) and Matthew Guerrero (founding editor) throughout my time with the magazine, fully acknowledging the comic would not have persevered without their unwavering faith and support.
Alex: When offered the opportunity by Dan Vado (SLG Publishing), I decided to retrofit Mr. Butterchips for a new era. With SLG’s legacy in the comics industry I also saw an opportunity to reach a wider audience by communicating directly with funny book devotees. Enthusiasts who enjoyed the salty simian’s tenure at Drunk Monkeys Magazine will be pleased to know his low threshold for stupidity and intolerance remains wholly intact despite the change of venue.
1st: How will Mr. Butterchips change when he moves to SLG?
Alex: Producing satirical content in any capacity can be a dicey prospect. While I had focused Mr. Butterchips’ righteous indignation on the former administration, their ousting has provided the freedom to ridicule ignorance in its many forms. With Dan’s guidance, I also saw the relaunch as a fitting occasion to not only expand the farcical scope but the very world in which the monkey inhabits. As for a change of wardrobe, he’ll continue to wear his trademark vest and fez. I sure hope he’s washed those garments…
1st: Who are the supporting characters?
Alex: Los Puritanos is populated by an array of quirky characters, amongst them being several from the initial Drunk Monkeys run such as Mr. Butterchips’ organ grinder and confidante Maurice, and the intensely optimistic antidepressant Rodolfo the Happiest of Pills. Nug the Fairy God Puffer and Cyrano from the Mr. Butterchips collection (available from SLG Publishing and wherever fine books are sold) will also join the fray, along with some new faces including love interest Carmelita.
1st: Mr. Butterchips was monthly, and will now be weekly, will the increased frequency change the storytelling?
Alex: The storytelling style was episodic from the outset, so aside from the possible occasional divergence of a two-parter I don’t see the overall approach veering too far from that course. That said, the increased frequency will facilitate covering an extended variety of topics and I can return to kvetching about everyday grievances in addition to nettlesome headlines
Alex: : SLG Publishing released Mr. Butterchips: A Collection of Cantankerous Commentary over the summer of 2020 which assembles the initial run of the webcomic along with a 22-page standalone acid trip of a story entitled “Psychotropic San Francisco Sojourn” which cannot be found anywhere else. The collection also boasts a gracious foreword by (former Dynamite Entertainment) editor Kevin Ketner, a cover blurb by absurdist extraordinaire Ruben Bolling (Tom the Dancing Bug), and a gallery of pinups from cartoonist friends like the remarkable Keith Knight (The K Chronicles, The Knight Life).
1st: What makes Mr. Butterchips so cool no true comic fan can miss an installment of Mr. Butterchips on SLG?
Alex: I’m not sure if he’s cool so much as he is sardonic and flawed. I believe most comics fans appreciate that though, right? RIGHT?