JOHN BRUNI: Here we are at C2E2 with Leo Perez and Jon Lennon. Hi guys.
JON LENNON: Hello.
LEO PEREZ: Hey, what’s going on?
JB: First of all, Leo, how fucking hard are you to be here today?
LP: How hard am I to be here?
JB: How erect?
LP: I’m pretty erect. I’m at the full four-and-a-half. Well, it’s four-and-a-half, but at least it’s seven inches wide. It’s a fucking chode. I’m in full-chode mode today.
JL: I’m kind of recessed right now. It was harder yesterday.
[First of many interruptions, but this one is a productive one. Jon is selling a book.]
JB: Leo, how long have you wanted to be in the comic book industry?
LP: I’ve probably wanted to be a comic book artist since I was nine years old, when I knew that comic books were made by regular people, not gods. I’ve only been with Jon for a year. This is my first C2E2 as a creator, and it’s surreal. Pinch me, I might be dreaming, you know?
JB: How do things look from behind this table?
LP: I’ve already been at Wizard World and a couple of other conventions, too. Being back here is almost the same, except it’s different. It feels like we’re at the big one. There’s definitely some nervousness. I want people to come by and love our stuff. It’s different. In a good way.
JB: You and Cliff Breaux used to do a strip called Horace the Hippo—
LP: Ah yes, Horace.
JB: Are there going to be any more of those?
LP: We talk about it here and there. We wanted to change the format a bit. Go color. Go longer. I think as long as we can come up with good stories together, we will see Horace the Hippo back. But I will give you this little spoiler nugget: I’m working on a Burley McBloodstone story. It’s a 24-page Burley McBloodstone story for CheeseLord Comics. I haven’t told Jon yet about it. Not now, but in the near future, a couple of years. I am working on my own four or five issue story to be collected in a graphic novel. Jon’s working on one, too.
JL: Don’t speak for me, you son of a bitch!
LP: I will speak for you! Anyway, with Horace, who knows what will happen with that?
JL: I have not heard talk of Horace for many a blue moon. Horace is dead to me. I unfollowed him on Twitter.
LP: Wow. He’s really dead.
JB: I take it he’ll be doing one-shots from now on?
JL: It’s a collaborative process between Leo and Cliff. Leo got interested in doing his own thing, so we’ll see what happens.
JB: Jon, what are you going to do next?
JL: Product of Society #5 is for all intents and purposes, currently the last issue in the series. Not that it couldn’t come back in the future, but it might just be a while. Like Leo said, he’s going to be working on his own project that he’s going to write and draw, and I’m going to do the same.
[Another interruption, this time just Jon wanting to make sure I wasn’t going to broadcast the interview but transcribe it instead, so I’d could make him and Leo look good.]
JL: Next, I have a few projects going on, but the main one is, I’m writing and drawing a graphic novel. It’s going to take me so long, I’m going to release it in single issue format with a low print run, just so I have something new to sell at shows. That’s what it’s about. My goal is to get the first issue done by the end of this year. It sounds far away, but I guess it’s really not. Though I’ll be dead sooner than later. It’s called THE REVELATION OF CLIVE THE CLOWN. It’s the tale of a psychotic clown-god of some kind. I’m not good at synopsis, but this is the story of a clown pushed to the edge. It opens with him at Gitmo being tortured because he’s on trial for crimes against humanity.
[Another interruption, this time Cliff Breaux, pretending to air-fuck me from behind with a rolled up poster.]
JL: I’ve been doing these anthologies and short stories for years now, and now I’m like, it’s time to shit or get off the pot and do something of length and substance. If you’re at all familiar with my work, you know it is of a surreal nature. Scatological humor. Things like that. It’s just, oh wow, just crazy Jon-ness. The premise is about this clown who is taken to Gitmo, where he tells his life story, which starts at the beginning of the universe and focuses around Clive the Clown’s misadventures in the Middle East during the Iraqi War, where he’s a military contractor. The government was shipping out prostitutes to troops to celebrate the fall of Baghdad, but Al Qaeda kidnapped the prostitutes. So Clive the Clown’s minions are called in, and they’re hot on the trail of these prostitutes. These are all broad strokes. Suffice to say, I don’t want to ruin it all for you, but we will see midgets riding dinosaurs! Fighting clowns! Time travel! Creation of human life on earth!
JB: In other words, the sequel to LOST?
JL: By the end of this comic, you will know why you’re alive. All your questions will be answered. What it means to be a human being. So, that’s what I’ll be working on next.
JB: What is your favorite position?
JL: Sexually? Doggy style. I’m traditional. I’m an ass-man myself. It’s difficult sometimes, because I like the ass-structure so much, it’s hard to hold in my jism because I’m so excited. So often during sex, you want to come after five seconds, you start thinking, all right, I’ve got to start thinking of corpses and blah blah blah, try to hold it in. If you’re with a hot chick, you have to think of an ugly chick. This is the way of life. That’s why you’ve got to find a good girl who understands that you’ve got to have that first two-three minute thing and get that out of the way so you can have a longer thing. That’s why it’s so hard when you’re with a girl the first time. You’re done in three minutes. I’m sorry, that’s how I operate. I do the quick thing, and then I’m ready for a 20-minuter. Not that I’ve had sex in many years, but anyway.
JB: I know when I think of corpses, I ejaculate.
JL: It’s not that I hate women. It’s just when they cry, it turns me on.
LP: And that’s how third grade went for Jon.
[This conversation, by the way, killed a sale for Mat Festa, whom I intended to interview along with Jon and Leo, but who was too busy actually working. Mat did sit down briefly, but when a customer came by, he went back to selling. Still, it’s pretty powerful when sex talk can kill the sale of a book. I hope Jon’s proud, that dirty fuck . . . .]
JL: What’s your favorite position, Leo?
LP: I like love . . . .
[He is very nervous at this point because his fiancé is standing on the opposite side of the table. The night of their wedding is about a month away.]
JL: That’s not an answer.
LP: I’m not going to answer that. What can I say? Lovemaking is as beautiful as two souls intertwined.
JB: Leo, getting back to the book, are you going to continue your story from the most recent PRODUCT OF SOCIETY?
LP: Yes. It may be related to the series. I don’t want to talk about things too much, because I don’t want to recant later, but we will see more of those guys and their adventures.
JL: You never did name them.
LP: Yeah, I haven’t named them. Yet. I have names for them, but I’m just keeping secrets.
[Another interruption so Jon can comment on how hot a girl is . . . and how that girl is going out with a friend of his.]
JL: Let me ask you a question, John. Fuck you, that’s what.
LP: Back to the clown story that Jon’s working on.
[Another interruption, so Jon can tell me this is a terrible interview because I’m not asking questions. I don’t have to work very hard to convince him that they are giving me exactly what I want, ie. a trainwreck of lunacy.]
LP: I think what we’re getting out of the clown story is more of Clive the Clown from that story in PRODUCT OF SOCIETY #4. People loved that story so much and loved how fucked up that clown was.
JL: Clive the Clown existed in PRODUCT OF SOCIETY #4 as a background character in another story. I’ve gotten feedback from a few people, including the interviewer and Leo and people who really enjoyed the character. It was funny to me because he initially wasn’t in the story.
[Another interruption so Jon can sell a book. Apparently, the guy offered to buy him a drink, and Jon doesn’t drink and drive, as he does indeed have to drive home after this.]
JL: Anyway, Clive the Clown was in this comic, and he was a little side character that had no purpose. He was exposition. People just responded to him because he was such a weirdo. He was just a clown who said cryptic things. After people told me they liked him, and while thinking about what I wanted to do next, I started having ideas. Once I had the thing with midgets riding dinosaurs, I was like, this is it. You have to reap the moment. This is what I’ll be remembered for.
JB: Leo, what drew you to be a part of PRODUCT OF SOCIETY?
LP: When I first met Jon, he started giving me these books. I just saw so many possibilities just showing off how fucked up I can be. Even though my story isn’t that fucked up, I think the one from part four is very fucked up because it’s about a certain interviewer who had sex with a girl who shat on him. That’s what really got me amped to do it. Once I did it, Jon said, so what’s your next plan? I said I don’t know who I’ll have to work with, and he said, why do you have to work with anyone? Aren’t you confident in your own stories? I am, but sometimes I’m not. I just went with it, I went with my gut feeling.
JL: I’m a big believer in the writer/artist. It’s what I do. With Leo, I thought he was going to do some off the wall gross out stuff, and he did a horror/comedy, which is great, too. It’s not great, but it’s okay . . . .
[Jon feels the need to clarify that he’s being sarcastic at this point.]
JB: The new PRODUCT OF SOCIETY is kind of a primer for Artist’s Alley. It’s got a lot of folks from Artist’s Alley in there. What inspired you, Jon, to come up with this anthology?
JL: I always wanted PRODUCT OF SOCIETY to be an actual anthology with multiple artists for the first few years that I did this.
[Another interruption, this time so Jon can talk to a friend.]
LP: I just want to take a second and say that it’s fucking awesome that so many of our friends and people we know from Twitter are stopping by and talking to us and making us feel good. We’ve been to cons where we were just lonely there, sitting, and it’s awesome to have everyone come by and support us and say hi.
JL: This is our home show. Well, I consider Chicago Comic Con the home show. Anyway, in the beginning, PRODUCT OF SOCIETY was just me because I didn’t know anybody when I started. Over time, I made enough friends that I finally brought in #4 and said, let’s do this as a real anthology. My only goal being to put out cool comics and give people the opportunity to not have to pay to print it themselves, I’ll just do it. With #5, it’s so awesome, so unbelievably good that anybody could buy this book and go, HOLY GOD! I DON’T EVEN HAVE TO COME TO C2E2! THIS IS ALL I NEEDED! That’s how much goodness there is in there. My ego is so satiated now. See how awesome I am to have all these cool friends that did this, I blew my fucking load, and I don’t have to do the anthology anymore. It’s all in the graphic novel now, so fuck you, interviewer!
LP: So what he’s saying is, we’ve won the Super Bowl.
JL: Yeah! Give me money!
LP: At least buy this book.