The Breadcrumbs widget will appear here on the published site.
A Hero Without Face-punching Powers
By Ollappac Nhoj
My name is Ollappac Nhoj. By day I am an online journalist. By night, I am homeless. I often find myself quite persnickety when choosing material to write about. Truthfully, I long to write about things that matter to me. Honest to God, no nonsense, completely non-pandering exposés about events and people in this world who are doing extraordinary things that the mass media will never touch. I’m talking about mavericks. Mavericks, if you are unaware, are a rare breed of people who do extraordinary, unconventional things simply in order to do so. However, they shouldn’t be compared to psychopaths, who are truly, incredulously insane individuals. See, mavericks do it for the sake of doing things differently. For the sake of changing the errs of culture that they perceive. Some people call these mavericks artists. I wouldn’t. That would be insane.
I met one such maverick, whose true identity shall remain nameless. He is an antithesis. An aberration. Like a poltergeist, his transparency shrouds his devious nature. Devious, however, is just another word in our language that has reversed connotations. Since conducting this interview, I have grown quite close to this individual in mind, soul, and body. Especially body. And thus, like a reflection of the self or a doppelgänger that has been birthed to represent my own antithesis, I have dubbed him an appropriation that truly mirrors my own. In this interview, this maverick shall be known as John Cappello.
Mr. Cappello is in the midst of production of an online & print comic book series entitled The Wonderful Wheels, for which writes and occasionally does art for. Chapter 1 was illustrated by Daniel Lupia, a local Richmond artist, and future issues will be illustrated by local artist Steven Chen. It concerns a wheelchair bound protagonist named Remi Ream, and he describes the comic as an insane children’s fairy tale where “reality and surreality are often intertwined.” If summed up in a one-sentence pitch: How does a person confront thoughts and ideas that are literally beyond their imagination? The storyline involves Remi’s journeys through her own imagination, experiencing funny and serious stories with odd characters along the way. One who appears in the first chapter, named only as ___ ____, is described as a literal walking idea who wears rainbow colored space pants, has transparent skin, and can travel across and manipulate both space and time. Set to be 16 chapters long and more similar to a work of literature than an ongoing comic book series, Mr. Cappello hopes that The Wonderful Wheels will be as important and beloved as his biggest comic book influencer, Alan Moore’s Watchmen. Tall order, Mr. Cappello. Can his ego match the proclamations stuffed in his pants? Let’s see:
Olleppac Nhoj: Good afternoon, Mr. Cappello. Hope you’re doing well today.
John Cappello: I wrote a joke yesterday that I really want to test out.
Olleppac Nhoj: On me? Sure.
John Cappello: You ready for this? What happened when Elmer Fudd finally caught Bugs Bunny?
Olleppac Nhoj: Yes.
John Cappello: What do you mean, “yes”? You ruined the flow of the joke. I don’t think I even want to tell you this anymore.
Olleppac Nhoj: Just go ahead.
John Cappello: I mean, just let the joke happen. Don’t try to interrupt it with your own joke. That’s just rude.
Olleppac Nhoj: I’m sorry. I really do want to hear it now. Come on.
John Cappello: Okay. He was bit and got the wabies.
Olleppac Nhoj: [laughs] I see you like puns.
John Cappello: What puns? I have a serious lisp. You should be more considerate of my feelings.
Olleppac Nhoj: [laughs] So tell us, Mr. Cappello, from where did you find the inspiration for The Wonderful Wheels?
John Cappello: Oh, are we actually talking about this?
Olleppac Nhoj: [laugh] Well, I mean, we could talk about something else, if that’s what you would prefer.
John Cappello: No, we should. I just like to dodge conversations about my work if possible.
Olleppac Nhoj: And why is that?
John Cappello: It seems, at times, hyperbolically boastful. So many young creators talk about their own works as if they are intended for greatness, even if the ideas are trite and generic, so I try to avoid shooting myself in the foot if possible.
Olleppac Nhoj: My readers would like to hear about it. Ha, readers. I speak about them as if I actually have some.
John Cappello: Don’t we all? [Editor’s Note: This was not meant to be a direct question. Mr. Cappello had no interest in the answer.]
Olleppac Nhoj: So how did you start with production of the series?
John Cappello: Well, I didn’t actually learn. I just kind of started doing it. Like, I was walking in the library one day right before the 4th of July, and I was approached by some friends of mine. My background is in film. And they said, “What’re you doing here?” And I had no reason to be there. And they’re like, “We’re brainstorming comic book ideas.” And all of a sudden I thought, “If I could make a comic book, this would be it.” So nobody ever told me to, or even how to, make a comic book. I just went and did it. I already enjoyed reading them, so I wanted to make one. I don’t think anyone should require permission to follow their dreams. They just need to do it, and love doing it.
Like, I made comic books when I was in middle school. It was my first big step into writing and storytelling, and in some ways I have become fascinated with stories and how much of an affect they have in shaping us as a society and people, so I wanted to embellish that [...] thought process into the series. So that’s really where the idea for The Wonderful Wheels came from, which was my own appreciation for storytelling. And the main character herself is a writer, and she has a hand in writing the plot of the series. It’s very metaphysical and post-modern, if those words mean anything to art these days. It just gets really far out, and the story itself desires to separate itself from the other comic books on the shelves today. My partner, Steven Chen, and I plan to incorporate elements of animation and interactive online gameplay into online issues, and it can become this very unique, visceral art experience. But we’ll see. We don’t know how to do it yet.
Olleppac Nhoj: Wowsers. You may have just answered all of my questions.
John Cappello: Sometimes I get ahead of myself.
Olleppac Nhoj: You mentioned that The Wonderful Wheels separates itself from other comic books. How so?
John Cappello: In terms of style, I suppose, but also thematically.
Olleppac Nhoj: What are some of the themes in The Wonderful Wheels?
John Cappello: That’s a toughie. [long pause] I suppose a lot of it is tied to art and the thought processes of creation. Not just that, but since it is a kids’ series, it has a message about how to be a good person and how to be a bad person, and sometimes those lines of separation are very thin. So for people reading it, it is my own telling of how one can make the right decisions. I’m sick of seeing really dark and moody comic books where the superhero just becomes a face-punching jerk. I think in order to solve a lot of everyday miseries and aggressions we need to combat it with something a little gentler. So that is why my protagonist is someone who can’t do that, who doesn’t have amazing face-punching powers. Instead, she needs to be a hero using her own intelligence and compassion, which is something any real person can do. Can’t our heroes be nice, happy people who manage to save the world, too, or is that not cool anymore?
Olleppac Nhoj: I can’t really say.
Chapter One of The Wonderful Wheels can be purchased and read online at TheWonderfulWheels.com. Subsequent chapters of the series will be released there, as well.