Beef Jams Tournament Edition is a comic anthology revolving around Phylo the Cheeseburger and his basketball playing team of long haul truckers. I've been working on this project for over 1.5 years and it's live on Kickstarter today.
Marc, Greg, Fake, and I created Beef Jams back in 2011 after meeting at Wizard World Chicago. In the past six years we've been lucky enough to have Beef Jams published by Image Comics (as a backup feature in a series called Hoax Hunters) and on VICE comics.
In 5 years we never wrote a single Beef Jams story over 6 pages long. We didn't have the space!
I learned a lot as a writer. Writing comedy in a short format that varies project to project forces growth on you. There's an equation to # of pages to punchlines that I'm sure someone has come up with, but every story requires you to listen to it and accept the best joke of the story as your pillar.
I knew that we needed a comic solely focused on BEEF JAMS to exist. A fully grown real-boy comic, not a webcomic or a backup. Its not that I don't love those formats, it's just that as a creator I had outgrown the challenge of writing Beef Jams in them. Maybe it's not outgrowth so much as not looking forward to the same sudoku puzzle to fill the story in.
We decided to make a 44 page anthology featuring our friends: creators from Chicago and other cities that we've met at conventions over the last few years while publishing in Image and Vice.
Working with 10 different artists is mostly a lot of email,/text/FB messages but there are moments of pure happiness interspersed: paying creators feels really really good, getting process shots during thumbnailing and character design makes things come alive, and by the time the finished art gets back to you it's not even your story anymore - it's art.
When you get that finished comic back you read it that first time like it's an instinct. Like running your fingers over hieroglyphics, you can read the shapes but maybe your story speaks to you different than anyone else..
I believe that the image of Phylo - a Cheeseburger Mascot playing basketball - contains an childish curiosity that registers with people across cultures. I think having the team as hedonistic long-haul truckers taps into a dank pipe of Americana that is dying before our very eyes. I think publishing a comedy/sports based anthology is exactly what America's comic book market needs.
I believe in this BEEF JAMS thing.
If you believe, or if you're interested in what believing looks like, take a look at our Kickstarter and please consider donating. The campaign ends on 11.11 at 4:20pm CST.