Child’s Play: An Interview with Ethan Nicolle

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you wrote down every thing that a kid might say? That was how Axe Cop was came to be. What started out as two brothers simply playing together has exploded into a viral success story.

During a family visit over the holidays, Malchai was running around with his toy fireman axe and he said he was playing “Axe Cop.” He asked Ethan to play with him. The story that followed became more and more brilliant, until he had to draw the whole thing into a one page comic. From there the saga continued, and over the course of the visit the brotherly team cranked out the first four episodes of Axe Cop. They were posted on his blog and on Facebook and they got great responses. So from there, he decided to give Axe Cop a home on the internet here and attempt to continue the saga as often as the pair can get together.

Malachai and Ethan

Kim: So, Ethan – why don’t you tell our listeners a little bit about Axe Cop.

Ethan: Axe Cop is a comic about a cop with an axe written by my now seven year old brother, who was five when this all started.

Kim: Can you walk us through the creative process of Axe Cop. How you take what Malachai “writes” and put it all into the comic.

Ethan: It’s really playtime turned into story. It’s the stream of consciousness the way kids play – things just sort of fly out of him. I ask him a lot of question. A lot of people tend to ignore what kids have to say, but I kind of quiz him and ask him every detail, like “How could that happen?” I get everything out of him I can to get a complete story and work it all out into an outline and then tell the story from a little more of structured view, but all of the content comes from his little brain.

Kim: I’ve heard rumors that you drive around with Malachai with the windows wound down and write down whatever he might shout out and I was just wondering if that was true.

Bad Guy Earth CoverEthan: We don’t really do that so much. We’ve done it a couple of times but still want him to be a good member of society, so we don’t really do it often. Usually what we do is have the car parked in the front of the house and pretend like we’re driving around with all the windows down and pretend like we’re shooting at bad guys. And that’s how we got the cover of “Bad Guy Earth” Issue 1. That took place in my parked car in the front of the house.

Kim: And what was the action figure he used when Axe Cop was first created?

Ethan: It wasn’t even an action figure. He just had a toy axe. Actually, it was a fireman’s kit, but he didn’t want to be a fireman, he wanted to be a cop. He didn’t have a gun, so it was just his logic – he just said “I’m going to be an axe cop.”

Kim: So, you were approached by Dark Horse to publish the book. How did that deal come about?
Ethan: When Axe Cop exploded, we were approached by a lot of different publishers who were interested in it and Dark Horse made the best deal. It was the easiest choice for me, because they would have been my first choice.

Kim: What do you think are the advantages versus the disadvantages to webcomics compared to printed comics?

Ethan: I didn’t read webcomics, but I started realizing that you don’t make money off of printed comics unless you’re with one of the big companies. So, if I’m not going to make any money, why not really give them out for free? I mean, not many people are walking into comic shops looking for new stuff to read and it’s hard to be seen on the shelf when you can manage to get published. So the way to get your work seen is to get it up on the internet and give it away for free. Axe Cop was kind of my test to see if that would work, and I mean it sort of became my job over night.

Kim: So it was advertised mostly through word of mouth?

Ethan: Totally. It was all word of mouth. Twitter, Facebook and reddit.

Kim: So that would be your advice to anyone looking to get published?

Ethan: Absolutely. The middle man is no longer needed. So, publishers are now looking for people on the web who have already become successful because they don’t want to take any risks. I mean, there’s no sense in spending a bunch of money to print a comic when you can put it up on the internet and see where it goes.

Kim: Thanks so much! It was nice to meet you.

Ethan: Thank you.

If you want to learn more or read Axe Cop, you can visit the website here:

or you can follow Ethan on Twitter: @AxeCop

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