Urinal Etiquette With Ed Luce of Wuvable Oaf

Each week in Give A Little Bit, we talk to funny people — comics, writers, cartoonists, senators — about the first time they got a laugh. This week, Ed Luce of Wuvable Oaf talks about urinals, wrestling and cats getting their salads tossed. 

Your first bit…

My first comics bit was a two page story about my Wuvable Oaf character in a gay bar, for an Italian watersports zine.  The Oaf walks into the bathroom and encounters a man who is desperate to be urinated on.  But Oaf is pee-shy, so he ends up going into a toilet stall and pissing over the top of it onto the guy.  That one always gets hearty laughs from gay men and nervous giggles from everyone else.

Your writing process is…

I try to write things that I haven’t seen before in comics, based on personal experience.  And there’s always something humorous to be found in the realm of culture clashing. In my upcoming book, I have a story about a gay character, who happens to be a heavy metal fan, bringing his completely uninitiated gay friend to a death metal show. That concept alone allowed for a lot of riffing on preconceived notions of queerness; it kind of wrote itself.  At one point, a concert-goer passively grunts at the pair and the friend says he feels like they could die at any moment. But ultimately cliches about both queer people and metalheads get subverted.  A bro bond is made over hair care…

Your influences are…

I think Saturday Night Live, from the 70’s to the early 90’s, left a deep impression on my sense of humor.  Sketch comedy is kind of a live-action version of comic strips, if you really think about it.  The characters are cartoony, there’s a certain amount of gimmickry, there are beats.  Whenever I have to do a short story, I definitely think in those terms.

Certainly shows with large ensemble casts…The Simpsons, South Park…where you get to inhabit someone’s personal universe for a little while.

As far as comics influences go, I’ve definitely been inspired by Johnny Ryan, Tom Neely’s Henry & Glenn Forever series, Ben Marra’s more over-the-top works and Simon Hanselmann’s Megahex.  Some of their characters are just funny to look at, long before they even open their mouths.

How you keep it all together…

I tend to dash off ideas in emails, then send them to myself. Writing the Wuvable Oaf: BATTLEZONE comics for VICE, I’d see something memorably ridiculous in pro wrestling and craft my own little spin on it in a quick note.  Those were only one page strips, so I’d try to hit on a trope.  Say, the oddity of personal grooming, then build some specific panel to panel moments and let the script evolve from the scenario. Some of the actual writing happens while I’m drawing the comic itself.  I think comics are unique in that way…maybe it’s kind of like improv stand-up or acting?

Wuvable Oaf

How wrestling influences your work…

For the longest time, wrestling was a background factor in Wuvable Oaf.  It was established he’d had a past as a satanic themed wrestler, but there was very little room to explore that until the VICE comics came along. Once those started, I discovered I had thirty years of wrestling fandom to pull from, and the stories came pouring out of me. When I was younger, WWE was this erotically charged secret guilty pleasure thing.  It was socially acceptable to watch, but I was tuned in to parts I think many straight men weren’t considering…at least not consciously.  So the VICE strips are trying to approach wrestling from this very familiar, over-the-top soap opera angle, but I also emphasize the inherent weirdness and homoeroticism of the sport.

You wish you wrote…

In Simon Hanselmann’s new book Megg & Mogg In Amsterdam, there’s a bit about Mogg the cat wanting his salad tossed by Megg the witch.  It’s sweet and disgusting and something I wish I thought of, but couldn’t really get away with in my work.  Sometimes I feel like creators who haven’t been labeled as “queer” can really push the envelope without alienating a mainstream audience. I occasionally dial back the sex and nudity in my work, as it can be misconstrued.  I rarely censor…but if I tried a butt-munching strip, it would probably be received in a completely different way.

A new bit…

I’m definitely eager to get Wuvable Oaf: Blood & Metal, my next book from Fantagraphics, on the shelves (it will be out this fall).  It collects all the VICE wrestling comics, which many readers of the first Oaf book probably haven’t seen, along with a bunch of other out-of-print material.  And there’s a long-running, beloved comics magazine that I’m currently crafting a story for, but best leave that one quiet for now!  It’ll be a combination of my usual funny, gross, sexy sense of humor, in a completely different genre.

Ed Luce Ed Luce is the San Francisco-based creator of Wuvable Oaf, a series of comics and ever-expanding line of shirts, posters, records, figures and other merchandise. The first five years of Oaf comics were collected by Fantagraphics Books in 2015, with a new color volume on the way in Fall 2016. Ed has created covers, stories and illustrations for VICE, Slate Magazine, Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the infamous Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever comic series, the Eisner nominated “No Straight Lines”, Decibel and BEAR magazine.  For more visit http://www.wuvableoaf.com/

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