Charlie McElvy was a backer of my Kickstarter and Spider-Squirrel made his first in print appearance in Simon N. Kirby, The Agent #1. Now Charlie is now launching Spider-Squirrel in his own Kickstarter. Charlie was nice enough to stop by First Comics News to let our readers know about all things related to Spider-Squirrel.

First Comics News: Who is Spider-Squirrel?

Charlie McElvy: Black Squirrel is the father of Spider-Squirrel and his former mentor & partner. Black Squirrel hails from Canada, now with dual citizenship in the USA, having married and settled down in the city of Richmond, Virginia. The Black Squirrel eventually opted to retire and go into private consulting allowing him to safely and securely raise his young family. In his heyday, the Black Squirrel was one of the premier superheroes residing in Summit City during the early days of the city’s metahuman boom, prior to the WatchGuard team being assembled and protecting the region. More will be revealed about the Black Squirrel in a future one-shot currently planned, but not in production. Yet.

1st: Who is Black Squirrel?

Charlie: He’s Charlie Jarrett, the son of a pair of metahumans, both now retired, a college student (University of Richmond), and the BFF of Jeremy Holcombe aka Trash Panda. As a “legacy” hero, Spider-Squirrel is now looking to carve out his own legacy apart from that of his parents. At the same time, he’s looking to have fun, facing every threatening situation with a smile, a quip, and a wit that won’t quit — until someone laughs at it, anyway. He can get pretty obnoxious at times. Haha. While Spider-Squirrel faces life as if he doesn’t have a care or never takes anything seriously, that façade belies a caring heart who really takes life quite seriously… you’ll just never know it.

1st: What can you tell us about Nutty the Tree Rat?

Charlie: Haha, well, that’s an embarrassing time for our titular hero! When a young Charlie Jarrett found out he had inherited metahuman abilities from his parents, and then learning of their previous adventures, he begged his father — The Black Squirrel — to allow him to train and participate in adventures with his father. With that, young Charlie (about 11 years old) came up with a costume and name for himself. And thus was born, Nutty the Tree Rat! Images of this costume have been removed from the Internet by our hero, so there is very little evidence of these events. Thankfully… So, when Black Squirrel retired, Nutty’s cape was hung up never to be seen again. Maybe…

1st: Charlie is a professional sponsored obstacle course racer. How much of this is base on your own experience?

Charlie: Nice catch! In actuality, the name “Spider-Squirrel” was mine first. While I’m no longer a paid or sponsored athlete, I had taken up practicing parkour for a few years leading up to my American Ninja Warrior appearance. During an open gym session, I was actually choreographing a series to show off my skills for the show — something I would eventually record to submit to them — and during that session, two young kids, both named Alex, were debating whether I moved like a squirrel or a spider. “Look! He’s climbing with those long arms and legs. He looks like a spider!” “No, watch how he bounces all over the place, like a squirrel, just not as… annoying.” And so I settled the debate with a simple, “Guys, I got it: I’ll be the Spider-Squirrel!”, and it just kind of rolled off my tongue. So easily, in fact, that I decided to make it something legitimate and so I made a logo and had it printed on my training sweatpants and some tank tops.

1st: How much of Charlie is autobiographical?

Charlie: Perfectly segued…! There will be elements of Spider-Squirrel that are indeed from my past, with a comic book twist. The two main characters, physically, are based on myself (SS) and my friend Jeremy Board (TP), who has raced with me in dozens of obstacle course races. Relationally, TP is a blend of Jeremy and my real-life, lifelong best friend Dennis Byrd, Jr. As such, the dynamics and interactions, and even the arguments over food, things to do, ladies & dating are all drawn from real memories. Even some of the minor character interactions are drawn and framed from conversations and/or real-life moments. My life has been so incredibly fantastic and occasionally unbelievable in many ways, that it’s hard not to pull from it. I’m sure most creators do that, so it’s not terribly revelatory, I suppose, but this book is perhaps the closest to “me” that you’ll ever see in a comic character. He speaks with my voice, his jokes are the same stupid jokes I make, and his heart is really mine and how I’d act (mostly) if I were in the same situation.

1st: Does Spider-Squirrel have superpowers?

Charlie: YES! He has several powers that helped him really define his alter-ego and help him come up with a superhero codename.

1st: How did he get them?

Charlie: He’s considered an emergent hero — one who was born with his abilities who manifested themselves at some point in their lives. In the case of Charlie Jarrett, his powers showed up shortly after his 10th birthday. This mysterious power I just referenced? Well, maybe I’ll reveal that in the mini-series. Then again, maybe I won’t, BWAHAHAHAHAHA! *Ahem* Sorry.

1st: What are they?

Charlie: We published those powers in a WatchGuard Solo (available on DriveThruRPG.com) as well as in an issue of the G-Men comics handbook! Briefly, he has metahuman agility, durability, reflexes, and strength that includes a metahuman leaping ability, enhanced senses including a “Squirrel Sense” that gives him a subtle danger avoidance nudge, a spider-bite that’s really a bio-electric shock (he doesn’t use this a lot, but it’s there), the ability to glide (not quite flying), and a limited ability to cling to many surfaces. No, he cannot “wall-crawl”, per sé, but it’s helpful when things start shifting on him as things are wont to do in a comic book… oh, and we’ll reveal a new ability in Issue #3, heheheh.

1st: Who is Trash Panda?

Charlie: TRASH PANDA!!!!! He’s the Costello to Spider-Squirrel’s Abbott! He’s the Joey to SS’s Chandler! These two are inseparable, and yet they drive each other crazy at times. Trash Panda is Jeremy Holcombe and another emergent metahuman hero. He can transform into a “werepandacoon” hybrid-thing, and though he’s just as much a cornball as Spider-Squirrel, he’s also the grounding force for SS in certain times. Also, this idiot thinks pineapple belongs on pizza. So messed up, amirite…?

1st: After breaking up the team with his Dad, why get into another super team?

Charlie: Since the Black Squirrel retired, there wasn’t much heroing for the young hero, so he practiced and worked on his abilities after school during middle school, and even into high school. Jeremy was with Charlie the whole way, even though the former didn’t have his powers manifest until their junior year in high school. Their bond since childhood (Jeremy was the only friend who knew of Charlie’s adventures as Nutty the Tree Rat) couldn’t be broken, so while they didn’t plan to make a metahuman hero duo, it was inevitable.

1st: What made DC Stuelpner the right artistic partner for this comic?

Charlie: Being that Invincible was one of my influences — having read the book since its debut! — when I found DC had a Ryan Ottley influenced style I couldn’t resist! He HAD to draw Spider-Squirrel. And it was an absolute home run. DC translated my shoddy scripts and instructions better than I could’ve imagined, and he really made the story shine. I could not have asked for a better collaborator on this first venture!

1st: What can you tell us about the multi-dimensional adventures?

Charlie: I’ll say what I can without spoilers, inasmuch as I’ve already kind of done so. Something happens, and Spider-Squirrel comes into contact with out-of-time villains, cross-dimensional heroes and their archnemeses (archnemesiseseses?), and maybe even a strange new world or two. Heroes and villains from other indie creators in the indie community have been tossed to highlight and promote the wonderful diversity of this incredible, global, community of ours. I wanted to show the richness of what indie comics can bring us all, beyond what you might find from The Big Two (or Three, depending on whom you ask). Not necessarily “better”, but definitely more free and divergent. And sometimes, yes… even better.

1st: Who are the creators involved in the multi-dimensional adventures?

Charlie: I’ll say what I can without spoilers, inasmuch as I’ve already kind of done so. Something happens, and Spider-Squirrel comes into contact with out-of-time villains, cross-dimensional heroes and their archnemeses (archnemesiseseses?), and maybe even a strange new world or two. Heroes and villains from other indie creators in the indie community have been tossed to highlight and promote the wonderful diversity of this incredible, global, community of ours. I wanted to show the richness of what indie comics can bring us all, beyond what you might find from The Big Two (or Three, depending on whom you ask). Not necessarily “better”, but definitely more free and divergent. And sometimes, yes… even better.

1st: What incentives do you have planned?

Charlie: Digital wallpapers, digital comics, print comics, multiple covers (including a *very-limited* cover by Scott McDaniel!), my personal “rookie card” from my American Ninja Warrior appearance, exclusive 4-inch “Infinity Scale” Spider-Squirrel resin figurines (unpainted), Chat & Draw sketch covers from Michael Watson (also my publisher & EIC at Short Fuse Media, LLC.), and of course I’m planning stretch goals once we achieve our funding target. One of those stretch goals is a live stream of me eating pineapple pizza (yuck!) alongside my good buddy and real-life Trash Panda, Jeremy Board. I am really, REALLY committed to making this project come to life! LOL

1st: What is the minimum pledge for a digital copy?

Charlie: Just $5 USD!

1st: What is the minimum pledge for a print copy?

Charlie: Print copies start at $10, with the McDaniel exclusive slightly higher and much more limited than the others.

1st: What makes Spider-Squirrel so cool, no true comic fan should miss the Kickstarter?

Charlie: OMG, he’s the best out there! So much fun!!! And, well, I’m pretty damned cool, too, I think. LOL. Seriously, though, the book is just plain good ole fashioned superhero fun. It’s what got me into comics as a kid: pure escapism. I won’t over-explain things for the readers and flood you with captions and exposition (not that there’s anything wrong with that), and I won’t always explain what the heck is going on. As you can tell by the very characters themselves, it won’t be getting overly serious, but we’ll take the adventure of making comics very seriously. You’ll just get to sit back and enjoy the ride. Kinda like any movie with The Rock in it.

Kickstarter.com

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Charlie McElvy was a backer of my Kickstarter and Spider-Squirrel made his first in print appearance in Simon N. Kirby, The Agent #1. Now Charlie is now launching Spider-Squirrel in his own Kickstarter. Charlie was nice enough to stop by First Comics News to let our readers know about...