Image provided by Batton Lash.
Cartoonist Batton Lash has been writing stories about Supernatural Law's lead characters since the late '70s, and he introduces them with a quick question and answer. Q: "Who's scarier than Frankenstein?" A: "His attorneys."
Alanna Wolff and Jeff Byrd first appeared in his weekly comic strip Wolff and Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre, which ran in a Brooklyn newspaper. Later, the lawyers for supernatural creatures, werewolves and vampires included, appeared in comic books, web comics and graphic novels. This year, a Kickstarter campaign for a colored trade paperback of his Supernatural Law story The Werewolf of New York more than doubled its $7,000 goal.
A former New Yorker who hasn't lost his accent, Lash moved to San Diego about 20 years ago for love. He and his wife, Jackie Estrada, run Exhibit A Press, which publishes Supernatural Law. He's also known for his work for Archie Comics, including the story Archie Meets The Punisher, and Bongo Comics, which publishes comic books featuring Simpsons characters.
And recently, he started work on a new web comic called The First Gentleman of the Apocolypse for Aces Weekly. "I'm also drawing the series of a post-apocolyptic high school student named Glory Lori," he adds. "The trial issue came out recently. I'll have copies at the Salt Lake Comic Con."
Lash says he's had ties to Salt Lake City for years, thanks to support from Night Flight Comics, where he's done many signings. He's excited to meet more Utah fans at Salt Lake Comic Con, where he'll appear all three days, Sept. 5–7.
In anticipation for the nerdy event, we got in touch with Lash for a quick Q&A.
Photo courtesy of Batton Lash.
Have you always been a fan of monsters?
I grew up in New York, and I'm sure every local TV station ran their version of Chiller Theatre, which I had in New York. And there was the Universal monsters, the B pictures and the 1950s horror stuff. And I'm old enough to remember when Plan 9 From Outer Space was actually scary. It was so frightening, because it was so odd looking. I loved all the monster movies and bought the monster models when they came out, so I've always had affection for them. I still do.
Tell me a little about Wolff and Byrd.
Alanna Wolff and Jeff Byrd are two attorneys who just found a niche for themselves representing the supernatural, because as they say, somebody has to do it. I always thought both of them represented my yin and yang. Alanna is a very sleek, confident, no-nonsense litigator, and she was everything that I always thought a person should be and how I always wished I was—she can give an icy stare that would devistate any opponent. On the other hand, Jeff Byrd, her partner, is a little more easy going and maybe a little intimidated by authority. I'm sorry to say I'm much more like him than her.
How did Supernatural Law get started?
I was freelancing for a local newspaper called The Brooklyn Paper, and they said I could do a comic strip if I wanted to. They distributed mainly along the municipality of downtown Brooklyn, which is where all the courts and civil service places were—lots of attorneys with small firms. And I just thought maybe it would be fun to create a series about attorneys . . . On Court Street, I saw there was family law, employment law, there seemed to be little small operations for every aspect of the law, and I thought maybe if there was one that specialized in supernatural that might be fun. I could draw monsters and just have fun with it. I always thought I would do this until I came up with my big idea that I'd want to do for the rest of my life, and a year into it, I was having so much fun, it occurred to me this is what I've been waiting for.
Any chance for a Supernatural Law cartoon or TV show?
There's a whole separate interview in itself. For the last 25 years, this has been on-and-off optioned for a movie or TV series . . . People are always discovering it, and they climb aboard and very rarely do they get off, but as far as the TV stuff goes, they can't seem to convince their supervisors or people who can green light stuff. Those people just can't see it the way we see it. We're still plugging away. If you know anyone who owns a major studio or network, let me know.
Have to ask: What was the origin of Archie Meets The Punisher?
Victor Gorelick was the production head at Archie Comics and he was moonlighting, doing some lettering for me, so I always kept in touch with him . . . And it just came to a point where we were having lunch one time and I told him my plans to move to San Diego and we were talking about comics in general. I said something along the lines of "You should do a crossover with Archie meeting Jimmy Olsen, and Superman will be confused between the two of them." And he said, "We're not going to do that, but we were kidding with Marvel that Archie could meet the Punisher." And I said, "Boy, that's a great idea!" And he said, "Wow, how could that possibly work?" And I wasn't lobbying for the job, but I said "It's very simple how it could work. You just do A, B and C" . . . And he said "Write that up." And my astute business sense said, "Yeah right." So, I went home and forgot about it, and a week later, he calls me up and says "Where's that outline?" And I said, "You were actually serious about that?'"
Any messages for the Salt Lake City fans?
They're in for a treat, because comic convntions are a lot of fun . . . It's just a great way to escape, and I think when you have other media people like William Shatner and Adam West, it introduces an audience who wouldn't normally read comics to the world of comics. They may be there to see the TV stuff, but when they walk around, they see all of this wonderful medium they may have been either indifferent to or overloooked. And it's the source material for all the great stuff we have now.
For more info on Batton Lash and Supernatural Law, visit exhibitapress.com.