In a few weeks, Michael Odom, our fantastic penciler on “Holiday Wars” will be doing a second guest story over at “SuperFogeys: Origins.” So I figured now would be a great time to check in with “SF” creator Brock Heasley (the pic above is a preview of the story).

How did this second more action oriented SF:O story come about?

This particular SFO story, “The Ballad of Rhonda and Gordon,” has a long and tortured history. It was originally written before SuperFogeys Origins even existed. Back in 2008, I think. The idea back then was to encourage sales of the print editions of SF by including what we then called “Untold Tales.” Basically SFO under a different banner. I had an artist on board to tackle the story (who I will not name—he’s a good guy as far as I can tell, he just has a hard time putting pencil to paper), but after two years he had produced little more than layouts—which I never actually saw. I shelved the story and waited for the right opportunity to give it to another artist.

Fast forward to early 2011 and Michael Odom and I had just come off of doing the SFO story The Death of Mr. Crook together. I was really pleased with the collaboration, though it was a bit rushed. Michael had a small window of opportunity to work on it and I threw the script together in about 24 hours. To make it easier on both of us, I made it a story that’s basically the same panel repeated over and over again with small variations. Actually, it wasn’t very easy at all. I ended up coloring the comic and I think all the repletion just made it more tedious for both of us. Lesson learned. I was shocked when Michael emailed me and asked if he could do another one. You’ll have to ask him why he’s such a glutton for punishment! Because he is of sound mind, he asked for something with a little more action this time around. Luckily, I had something ready to go.

How was it working with Michael this time around?

As you well know, Michael is a dream to work with. He sticks to the script and comes back with fully detailed pages that really have a lot of energy in them. And he’s open to changes, which is always a plus. There were a couple of panels I asked for complete redraws of and Michael did ‘em without a bit of grumbling. I’d be up for a third go-round should he ever feel inclined.

I should also mention that, luckily for Michael, I was able to get a real colorist this time. Will Terrell is an amazing artist in his own right and has done a bang up job on this story. He’s complimented Michael’s inks beautifully.

How many pages is this story and what’s its basic premise?

The story will run seven pages (or seven weeks) and the first page will go up Friday, July 22nd. It’s a little bit different for SuperFogeys Origins in that it takes place at Valhalla (Home for the Supertired) and would probably fit just fine into the current continuity. Though I’ll say definitively that it takes place before Chapter 1.

The story is about Swifty and Space Pig facing down an alien invasion by themselves. It’s actually pretty funny how they do it. I wrote the story at a time when SuperFogeys was almost purely comedy driven and I think you’ll be able to tell.

Wrapped up in that little confrontation is also the appearance of a significant figure from Swifty’s past that we’ve never met before. This one has one of my favorite endings and I’m so, so glad people are finally gonna be able to read it.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room… why did you stop drawing SuperFogeys?

Because I wasn’t very good at it? Okay, okay. I’ll be the first to admit that at the end there I wasn’t half bad. I’m really proud of the art in the last 30 or so strips I did leading into SuperFogeys 300. No, the real truth is—and I’ve been quite open about this—I just felt inspired to do something else with my time. And by “inspired,” yes, I do mean God.

It started with the realization that I just didn’t enjoy drawing as much anymore. I feel a lot of anxiety when I draw. I want everything to be perfect, and of course it never is. As an illustrator, I’ve rarely done a drawing that was up to the goals I had for it in my head. That’s frustrating to me.

Contrast that with what I feel as I writing. I’ve always felt my writing was stronger than my art and as I’ve taken more and more to writing prose, I’ve felt a certain amount of inspiration and satisfaction from that that I’ve never gotten from drawing. I know I’ve written things that were smarter or more inspired than I actually am capable of. Multiple times. I’m not sure I can say the same about drawing.

All of which led me to start thinking that maybe the division of energies wasn’t the best thing for me and not really what I was supposed to be doing with my time. I prayed about it and received what was for me a crystal clear response: Stop—there’s something else you’re supposed to do. It wasn’t a voice or anything, just a feeling and knowledge that came over me. It was a personal decision and I’ve learned to rely on my Father in Heaven for things like that. At this point in my life, I can do that sort of thing successfully.

Do you regret the decision or do you think it was the right one to make?

I don’t regret it one bit. I’ve felt a great sense of relief ever since. And I think the strip has soared to greater heights now that I’m not doing it all by myself. I haven’t heard from anyone who disagrees with that, so I think this was the right track to take.

Tell me about your new artist and how he came on board.

Marc Lapierre is an out-and-out stud. He’d done a guest strip and a two-page SuperFogeys Origins for me and he was one of the few people on my mind when the decision was made to look into the possibility of finding a new artist. His cartoony style is just similar enough to my own and the lunchtime sketches he posts on his Twitter feed proved two things: 1)he’s got serious range and 2)he LOVES to draw.

Me and Michael DeVito (Th3rd World Publisher) approached Marc about the possibility of him coming on board and after a few weeks of talking about it and Marc doing some test strips, he signed on officially. This was back in February of this year. Marc was doing his own strip at the time, Spooky Doofus, and he’s put it on hiatus since signing up with SF. I’ll always be grateful to him for that sacrifice. It’s allowed him to up his game in a major way and keep SF on its new schedule. The work he’s doing on SuperFogeys is not only light years better than anything else I’ve seen from him, but he just KEEPS getting better. It’s a lot of fun to watch. I think the readers enjoy it too.

Has your writing been affected by not drawing? For example do you add stuff you normally wouldn’t because previously you knew you didn’t want to or couldn’t draw something?

100%, yes. Marc wants to be challenged and seems to enjoy most the stuff that would have frozen me up for hours. A good example is SF 321 from the end of Chapter 11. I’d had that strip planned long before Marc came on board, but I was dreading it. So many characters and a new environment and, and, and…not fun stuff for me. Marc? Marc couldn’t WAIT to get to that one. He saw it as the dessert at the end of the meal that was his first full chapter as artist. And he did a lot more with it than I would have. It’s an amazing piece of work.

Marc’s gung ho attitude has really freed me up. I don’t even worry about how big or complicated something might be anymore. I know Marc will rise to the challenge. The current chapter takes place in Las Vegas and whereas I would have handled the environment in a very loose way that merely suggested where the Fogeys were, with Marc I’m scripting stuff like entrances and exits and vans going down streets and all sorts of things. And he renders it better than what I even have in mind as I’m writing. He’s really brought SF to a new level, artistically.

Amazingly, Marc is able to turn out two strips a week whereas I only did one. This has changed the pace of the story quite a bit and allowed for a much more natural flow. When readers only have to wait two days or five days for the next installment, they’re a lot more forgiving of strips that exist merely to establish atmosphere or provide transition. I’ve decompressed things a bit and I think SF is a much more satisfying read now. I think. Again, I haven’t heard from anyone who’s noticed and doesn’t dig it.

Last summer we saw the major reveal regarding the Th3rdMan’s identity… any more big twists or reveals planned in the near future?

Not on that level, no. One of my pet peeves with comics is that endless twist upon revelation upon twist cycle. Part of that is the function of having multiple writers. Every writer wants to leave their mark on a character. But you can only do “Everything you know is wrong!” so many times before it becomes tedious and repetitive.

All that said, good storytelling is surprising storytelling. Is engaging storytelling. There are lots more surprises and big events coming that will get people talking and have them anxious for the next strip. I see the revelation of the identity of the Third Man and everything that preceded it as the setup. Now, I’m in payoff mode. I’m not saying more reveals aren’t coming, but the way I see it the cards are on the table. Time to play ‘em.

How has fan reaction been to the Th3rdMan’s identity? Were you happy with how fans reacted?

I was overjoyed with the response to the revelation of the Third Man’s true identity. It was something I’d been planning since Chapter One. That’s four years of sitting on this huge secret that I couldn’t wait to share with everyone. But sit on it I did. From the responses I got, 99% of the readers were shocked and surprised…and yet when they went back and read through the first 9 chapters again it was completely obvious how they’d been tricked. It was like I’d pulled my own little “Sixth Sense” style prank on the audience. Which was always partly the goal. The day of the big reveal was the most satisfying day producing comics I’ve ever had. Every once in a while, I’ll go back and read the comments from that day just to remind myself of how cool it was.

What is in the near future of the Fogeys?

BIG STUFF. The reveal of the Third Man’s identity and everything that’s happened in the past year has only been to prepare readers for the current chapter. The Third Man has a plan—he’s always had a plan—and it’s about to come to fruition. We know what he wants, we know how hard and how long he’s been trying to get it, and now we’re gonna find out, once and for all, if he’s going to succeed. After Chapter 12, the Third Man’s plan will be no more. He will either succeed or fail. He’s betting it all on this final gambit. I didn’t set this chapter in Las Vegas by accident!

What’s planned for the distant future?

Well, that’s a good question, isn’t it? At the end of Chapter 11, it was revealed that Dr. Rocket had committed crimes so heinous that every alien villain and race I’ve introduced since the comic began (and some I haven’t) is gunning for him. What’s more, they know where he is and they’re coming. To Earth. So that looms on the horizon and promises to be a huge story when it happens.

Besides that, there’s the question of what role the Third Man plays in the strip after Chapter 12. What do you do when your big plan has come and gone? I want to explore that question because it’s a good one. The other thing is that, as it has been recently revealed, up until now, the Third Man has had full knowledge of his own future. Well, now that knowledge has run out. He’s operating on total faith, and he doesn’t really know what’s going to happen next. That’s gotta be a pretty scary position to be in and I think we’ll see that fear play out in some interesting ways.

Does SuperFogeys have an ultimate end point or is it something you just plan to continue indefinitely?

The short answer is: both. I know how the current story I’m telling will end. I’m not sure how long it will take to get there, but I know the beats I need to hit and the major story arcs are more or less planned. But that ending does leave room for the adventures of the Fogeys to continue, albeit in a radically different way from what we’re used to.

Right now who is your favorite character in SuperFogeys?

I’m glad you said “right now” because it changes all the time. At one time is was Jerry. Other times it’s been Star Maiden or Spy Gal. I know for most people it’s Swifty, though he’s never been my favorite. If I had to pick one right now it’s probably Captain Spectacular. No one ever says Captain Spectacular, I realize. I don’t think most readers like him very much. Me, I sympathize with the guy. A great deal. And I’m excited about the places he’ll be going to as a character in the next several chapters.

With the new baby has it been hard trying to find the time to write?

Surprisingly, no. Not only do my wife and I have the prettiest baby on the planet, but she sleeps a solid 12 hours a night. My schedule is pretty much the same as it was before. I start writing around 10 at night and finish up between midnight and 1am. It’s nice.

What’s the status of your novel?

Ah, you are too kind to be asking me this. It’s not a novel, really. It’s a memoir—a narrative account of a period in my life. (Though memoir is sold as fiction.) The book—Raised By a Dead Man: A Coming-of-Age Story Between Two Shootings—is done. I’ve been shopping it around to agents in the hopes of publishing it soon. This is tough. I’ve gotten a few bites, and lots of rejections. That’s the game. I’ve been doing this for a little over two months and it typically takes much longer than that to secure an agent. So, I’m working on it. I have a lot of faith in the book and I know it’s not just good—it’s great. I just need someone to believe in it as much as I do. I’m confident it’ll happen…but I admit that I hate, hate, hate this process of getting my hopes up and then getting rejected. Time and time again. In the end, it’s all about persistence.

Any other non-SuperFogeys related projects you want to mention?

While I’ve been trying to find an agent for my first book, I’ve also been hard at work on my second. This one IS a novel, though it is inspired by a true event in my life. It’s still in the outline stages and I don’t want to say too much and jinx it, but it’ll be for the Contemporary Young Adult market and will be full of the kinds of complicated characters and twists and revelations SF fans are used to from me.