Sunday, November 19, 2017
Home  >  Features  >  The B.B. Wolfpack: J.D. Arnold and Rich Koslowski

BB Wolf & The Three LPs from Top Shelf

 

Every now and then a comic or graphic novel turns up that makes you think, or teaches you something. This usually happens by surprise. And more often than not, it stars anthropomorphic cartoon characters.

This was the case with B.B. Wolf and the Three LPs, one of our favorite Graphic Novels of 2010. Naturally, we were chomping at the bits to talk to the book's creators, J.D. Arnold and Rich Koslowski. And at this year's Stockton-Con, we got the chance!

 

J.D. Arnold & Rich Koslowski

B.B. Wolf and the Three LPs creators J.D. Arnold and Rich Koslowski

 

MightyVille: Gentlemen, thank you for agreeing to do this interview with us. It's a pleasure to have you.

J.D. & Rich: Absolutely.

MightyVille: So, we love B.B. Wolf! We love the political infusion balanced against the innocence of the anthropomorphic characters. How did the story originate? How did your whole adventure start?

J.D.: It's an interesting story. I'd been writing a lot-- a lot of comic stories, a lot of short prose. I kinda had hit a road block one day, had a case of writer's block. So I went to my wife, actually, and said, "Gimme a writing assignment, something to just kinda clear my head, something to get the gears grinding." And she said, "Why not do a modern re-telling of an old, classic fairytale?" So, the idea literally just sprung into my head. It's kinda hard to say where the inspiration came from, because it was one of those lightning bolts.

MightyVille: So why The Three Little Pigs as opposed to, I don't know, Cinderella or something?

J.D.: Again, it was just one of those lightning bolts. It just kinda jumped into my head. I wanted to do something a little edgier, a little more modern, a little more mature. The idea of turning the story on its head, making the wolf the victim, and set it in a time period that I love, for many reasons, not the least of which is the Blues, the Delta Blues, the music that was going on at that time. Of course, the obvious idea that came into my head was: "Set this in the American South, play the wolf as the victim of racial and social injustice at the hands of the 3 Little Pigs." That's kinda how the idea of the story came about.

 

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MightyVille: What were some of your musical influences as far as the story went?

J.D.: Robert Johnson, Howlin' Wolf--

MightyVille: Nice.

J.D.: ... I love B.B. King, I'm a musician myself. So I grew up learning the Blues and Jazz, and Classical music of course. So, I've got a pretty decent musical background, I play saxophone. That's where my musical influences are. And then you have a lot of the 60's Counter-Culture stuff that really drew on the Blues, the American Blues, from that era.

MightyVille: Rich, what were some of the artistic influences that you brought towards the book?

Rich: We wanted to make it, well, I wanted to make it and Johnnie (Editor's Note: Johnnie is the 'J in 'J.D.') agreed: I pitched kinda like, let's do a grittier Disney, y'know, version. They're anthropomorphic characters. Everyone thinks of the Big, Bad Wolf and the 3 Little Pigs from the old Disney classics.  I tried to reference them just a little bit, to refresh my memory as to how they looked, and then I put those pictures away, I didn't wanna get too influenced. And I started working up some grittier, more vintage-looking characters, and we knew we'd be going black and white, because Top Shelf primarily only does black and white, and then I just added the ink wash to give it a more antiquated look as well. Which we thought worked out real well.

 

Preview Page

 

MightyVille: We agree, it absolutely did. What brought you two to Top Shelf?

Rich: I had a connection there. So when Johnnie pitched the idea to me, I said, "Well I've got a publisher who might be perfect for this. I've done two books with them (Three Fingers and The King). So, I brought it to Chris [Staros], and Chris instantly-- I mean, we showed him a couple pages of art, Johnnie sent him the script, and it was literally like a day later they said, "We'll do it, absolutely."

MightyVille: That is awesome. What have been some of the reactions you've received towards the story and the issues presented within?

J.D.: It's been really well-received. We've won a couple of awards: The American Library Association put us on their must read list. We won a Glyph award, we got five Glyph nominations, and Rich won the Glyph award for Best Artist in 2011. We made Comic Book Resources' Top 100 Graphic Novels for 2010. So, it's been really well-received. And especially on that political-slash-social front, I think a lot of people found that kinda refreshing: To see a story like this- not only told in comics, but told using the framework of an old classic fairytale which is so familiar to people. So, using something that is very familiar to people, something people can connect with, to bring forth some of these issues that are really so important.

MightyVille: Do you have anything else coming up together that is similar in vein, or even not similar in vein, to B.B. Wolf?

J.D.: Nothing concrete coming up together ... although we've talked about doing a sequel to B.B. Wolf, that could be in the future.

 

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MightyVille: We'd love to read that. Obviously.

J.D.: Yeah. I've got a new book coming out with another artist called The Rabid coming out from Action Live Entertainment later in the year. Rich can tell you about some of the stuff he has in the works.

Rich: Yeah, Top Shelf definitely wants to do more with me as well, which is great, so I've got a few pitches in with them. I've got some books coming out ... possibly with some of the big publishers, can't say anything too concrete yet ... they don't want you to say too much. Always working ... I always do a lot of work with Archie, I do a lot of freelance with them, they keep me busy.

MightyVille: Nice! So another really successful story featuring anthropomorphic characters is Blacksad. We were fortunate enough to meet the artist Juanjo Guanido in San Jose a few months ago. Is that a title you've read?

J.D.: Oh yeah, we love it!

MightyVille: Yeah, it's one of our favorites, too.

Rich: That's one of those where I look at the artwork and I think, "Who am I kidding"?

J.D.: Beautiful art.

 

Panel



MightyVille: What other comics are you reading these days? What would you recommend to our readers?

J.D.: Oh man, I'm reading so much. I'm a huge Walking Dead fan. I love Rachel Rising. I love RASL, although it just wrapped up, but if you get a chance, read that. From DC I'm reading Animal Man, I'm reading Swamp Thing, Batwoman. Yeah, I read a lot of comics. I'm also a shop owner (Comicopolis in Santa Cruz, CA), so, you know, I read a lot of stuff.

MightyVille: Nice! Rich?

Rich: I'm still an old Marvel Fanboy. I grew up on Marvel first, but I read a lot of DC as well. Johnnie mentioned some of the titles I also read. I tend to follow favorite artists and writers--

MightyVille: Who are some of your favorite artists and writers?

Rich: Of all time..? I love Kurt Busiek, James Robinson, Guy Davis, Neal Adams ... Going back, I still love John Byrne. My daughter just got into the X-Men movies and stuff recently, so I got to peel out all the old influences, the good stuff: "You're starting with X-Men #94, we're gonna work you up right!"

MightyVille: The essentials!

Rich: They hold up, man! When I read those, they hold up.

MightyVille: They certainly do, I go back to those all the time. Well, thank you again, gentlemen, that was fantastic. It was a pleasure talking to you. Keep up the great work!

Rich: You got it.

J.D.: Any time.

 

BB Wolf Plays the Blues

 

Who out there has read B.B. Wolf and The Three LPs? What did you think? Share your thoughts below!

 

More B.B. Wolf on MightyVille:

CONTEST: Signed "B.B. Wolf and the Three LPs" Giveaway

 

Comments (2)
  • MewtwoKi  - My Gosh
    I found this book while walking around our local library, I picked it up and started reading it, unfortunately since we were there only a short while so I only got to the part where the wolves were getting ready to fight with the group of pigs at the farm.

    I went home but I couldn't stop thinking about this book so the next morinng I got up, went to the library, and read it all the way through, and man my mind was blown away, one of the best books (and version of the three little pigs) I have ever read.

    I couldn't believe what happened to B.B. and his family, I could not believe that the pure selfishness and greed the 3 LP's had drove them to burn his farm down and murder all but Remmy (I think that's how to spell his name) and the fact that at the end B.B. got the chair and poor Remmy saw it happen, that last pannel with the image of last LP reflecting in Remmy's eyes, wow....

    Unbelievably, though the book was amazing, it put me into a bad mood for the next few days just thinking about what B.B. went through and that kind of stuff actually happened.
    I even went back to the library and read it agian, and thought that some of some music that would have been perfect for it would be some music from "The Green Mile" I actually visuallized some scenarios like when B.B. was on his way home after he left and it played through my head like it was an actual cartoon and the music from The Green Mile my mind chose was "The Two Dead Girls" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ3CmJv9HEw
    You can actually visualize B.B. walking back and over the bridge seeing smoke and a glow in the distance and coming upon his house.
    The next scene that I visuallized was when he went to kill the first little pig and the music was "The bad death of Edward Delacroix" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrNTtWUrKGo

    Of course I imagined this first encounter as more that just B.B. walking in and killing him but more of the pig trying to get away, shooting a gun at B.B. and trying to call for help before getting killed.

    All in all this was a great book and I wish I could see a cartoon of it I will forever remember this book.
  • Joe_Kach  - Word
    Hey MewtwoKi,
    Glad to hear you enjoyed the book as much as we did. After reading your thoughts, I think I'll go back & re-read it with the music you linked to playing in the background. Maybe a slightly different experience.

    I also agree that it would make a great cartoon! Maybe a straight-to-DVD film or a Cartoon Network special?

    We'll be removing the 500 character limitation in the comments section soon. Hopefully, that will make for a less-frustrating feedback process. =)

    Thanks for sharing!

    --J.
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