Bob Burden Interview

Bob Burden is the creative force behind such characters as Flaming Carrot and the Mysterymen. This month, Flaming Carrot returns in a new series from Image. Worlds of Westfield Content Editor Roger Ash recently caught up with Burden to find out about his plans for Flaming Carrot.

Westfield: For those who've never read Flaming Carrot before, what do you want them to know about the character before they read this book?

Bob Burden: Flaming Carrot is a fun character, and the book is a funny book, but it's not a satire. It's a wild, violent, sexy, ridiculous humor book. It's a book that I'd be happy to sell with a money back guarantee. As a matter of fact, when I sell them at cons to someone that's never read it before, I tell them, read it tonight and if you don't like it, just bring it back. I give them a money back guarantee, but I'm told we can't advertise that. I mean what if someone buys a number one on eBay for $75?

Westfield: How does Flaming Carrot compare to other comic heroes?

Burden: As a comic character, Flaming Carrot has a lot going against him. He has no super powers. He's not very smart. When he gets in a tight spot he usually blasts his way out in a hail of gunfire. While Flaming Carrot is the world's first surrealist super hero, the comic is not just weird for weirdness sake. There's always a story. The surreal elements contrast with a blue-collar mill-town setting.

Westfield: Do people need to have read the previous adventures of Flaming Carrot to know what's going on?

Burden: This is a good issue to pick up the series with. The story is complete in the issue, though elements, new characters and subplots will continue later.

Westfield: Aside from the crossover with Reid Fleming a year or so back, Flaming Carrot hasn't been around much recently. What makes now a good time to bring him back?

Burden: It's our 20th anniversary and I wanted to mark that with a new issue, a new series.

Westfield: Have you considered doing any other Flaming Carrot crossovers?

Burden: It would be fun to cross over with Allie McBeal and the Smith Bros. cough drop guys all in one episode. Try and imagine that. If I ever do the final episode of the Reid Fleming crossover we'll actually meet The Girl From Ipanema.

Westfield: In the past, there seemed to be a number of people who really wanted to know who Flaming Carrot was before he became Flaming Carrot, but you'd never tell unless someone guessed. Do people still ask you about that or do people just enjoy Flaming Carrot for who and what he is?

Burden: Most people just enjoy Flaming Carrot without knowing who he is. A few are curious, as if they would understand it better. And they would. Maybe I'll reveal the secret identity next year. We'll see.

Westfield: How did Flaming Carrot come to be published by Image?

Burden: Joe Pruett is actually the publisher. He's going through Image, but he's managing and bankrolling this and a number of other great projects with some really incredible creators.

Back in the 90's, Joe got the award-wining anthology series Negative Burn off the ground and going. It was a showcase of new creators and a place where a lot of today's stars got their start. Joe always had a good eye for talent. He started out as my assistant and went on to be a writer for X-Men and other titles. When he came to me with the idea for the new company, Desperado, I wanted to help him out.

Westfield: What can you tell us about the first Flaming Carrot comic from Image?

Burden: There are two possible stories that will appear in the first issue. The story that's finished has Flaming Carrot trying to be politically correct because a female journalist is following him around trying to pull a Michael Moore on him. But she starts falling in love with Flaming Carrot. Also there's Flaming Carrot's new baloney gun, a singing zombie and a villain called Garbagemouth who's every second word is *&$#%@!. Also there's pigmies building a giant ear out of French bread on the outskirts of town. If I can finish it in time for the December release, there's the Crouching Carrot - Hidden Hotwing story with Dynamite Girl. For more on her check out dynamitegirl.net.

Westfield: What can people look forward to in upcoming issues?

Burden: I have so many good stories I never got to in the old days and new ideas all the time.

We have finished a Flaming Carrot photo comic that I wrote and Sam Gaffin shot at the Dragon Con last year. It's a crossover with his characters called The Anomalies. It will be published after we get a few regular issues under our belt. Kevin Eastman is planning to do a serialized Flaming Carrot story in Heavy Metal. That should expose the Carrot to some new readers.

Westfield: I understand you're going to be having some guest creators in upcoming issues.

Burden: Dave Sim said he'd like to do a story. Joe was talking about Brian Bolland possibly doing a cover.

Westfield: Flaming Carrot is unique in the comic world. I can't think of many books that would include such things as giant chicken wings, flying dead dogs, and miniature Abe Lincolns. How do you develop these odd, fantastical elements of Flaming Carrot's world?

Burden: I just dream it all up. The story has to be fun for me to be motivated enough to draw it. The trick is getting all the weird, fun, entertaining stuff placed and moored down in a solid story. I have to throw a lot of good stuff away - or save it for another story down the road.

I was always a big fan of Kafka, Woody Allen, Luis Bunuel?. Why not put that sensibility into a comic? Monty Python and Kids in the Hall are often compared to what I'm doing in Flaming Carrot. Basically if you like them, you'll like Flaming Carrot. But with one difference: the story. They were skit comedy, and when they went to features, they kind of missed the mark. It was all a series of skits and they couldn't quite pull off the storytelling. Except for Monty Python's The Holy Grail, which is a great film.

Westfield: Are there any other upcoming projects you're working on?

Burden: Check out mulletforce6.com. Six guys with out of style haircuts that have been promised fame, fortune and free DSL to fight evil. It's what the Mystery Men movie should have been. They have real mediocre powers. Like one has the ability to control furniture with his mind, and one is a good guesser.

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Burden: I want to thank all the retailers and readers that made Flaming Carrot such a hit in the past and welcome them back. New readers, give us a shot. I've got a real fun book that will blow your socks off!