Christopher Hastings created one of the web’s best comics with Dr. McNinja. Since it’s debut, Hastings has gone on to do several other projects including a Deadpool run during Fear Itself. More recently the writer and artist released his second volume of McNinja through Dark Horse last month and launched a Galaga comic on Shifty Look he illustrated with writer Ryan North and colorist Anthony Clark. The writer of my favorite webcomic, or comic period for that matter, took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his beloved creation.
We love the good doctor here at CBT, so we’ll skip the cookie cutter “what is it” and “how did it come about” questions. I’m going to hit you with a complaint question right off the bat. There have been several super cool high fives in Dr. McNinja history (* with a turkey and with Judy during an explosion), yet we haven’t seen one in a while. Will you return to the high five roots eventually?
Thank you very much! I love high-fives, but I don’t really try to “force” them. If a moment occurs where it seems natural for characters to celebrate with a high five, I go for it! It’s not McNinja, but there’s one coming up in the Galaga comic that I’m doing with Ryan North and Anthony Clark.
Sorry to grill you right off the bat. I would like to ask how you think up stories though. Does an idea just hit you and you work a story from there? You’ve come up with some pretty wild ideas with stuff like jetpack dinosaurs, radical kings, and mustachioed youths.
You’re exactly right! I come up with a nutty idea, and then the fun is coming up with a story to justify it.
Going off of that, are there any rules to the Dr. McNinja universe? In issue one half you have the Pope saying it’s OK to snap into robotic spines like Slim Jims and since then you’ve had the aforementioned jetpack dinosaurs and the invention of tennis. Have you ever thought of something and said it’s just too out there?
There aren’t really any rules, but everything has to have an internal logic. If something weird happens, it needs to jive with the rest of the universe. Nothing is random and disposable.
You write, draw, and have the comic out every two days. How far ahead do you plan? Do you take it story by story or do you have a couple of storylines you’re batting around?
Some things I have planned *years* in advance, and some stuff I make up day to day. Basically I have an outline of key points planned out well ahead, and I let myself improvise the path between those points.
Your alt-text captions are legendary. I like to think of them as secret messages. Do you ever come up with a caption first and work a page or visual around that?
I treat the alt-texts as an exercise in coming up with material on the spot. I write them when I update the comic. And sometimes an update gets stalled because I’m trying to come up with the alt text!
Have you ever thought of doing one-shot stories for some of the other characters like Gordito, Judy, Dan or any of the others in between one story and the next?
I have! But most of the desires I have for stories for the other characters I can fit in the larger narrative, which I think shows the most in the story AWOL MD, which Dr. McNinja largely doesn’t show up.
You had a great crossover with Axe Cop a while back. Fox has picked up the officer for an animated series. Could we possibly see Dr. McNinja popping up sometime down the line?
Thank you! It was super fun to do. There has been no discussion about Dr. McNinja showing up in the Axe Cop TV show.
Dr. McNinja would make a fantastic show in its own right. I could see it going on Fox’s new animation block or even Adult Swim. Have there been any attempts to get that ball rolling?
There have been multiple attempts to get a McNinja show going, as recently as a month or two ago, but I’m sorry to say that none of the TV networks are interested. I may have to just produce my own web series.
Who would you want to voice some of your characters if/when that happens?
With voice acting, I don’t really think that celebrity is that important, so I think I’d just want people good for the job!
Finally, are you working on anything else we should be on the lookout for? I know you’re got the Galaga comic up on Shifty Look and Time Fist recently came out through Dark Horse.
Those are my major recent projects alright! I also recently drew animatics for the fight scenes for my pal Jordan Morris’ pilot Freelance Beatdown, which anybody can see [below]
Our thanks to Christopher Hastings for chatting with us. You can check out The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, which you should be reading anyway, at DrMcNinja.com and you the Galaga comic on Shifty Look by clicking here. Time Fist is out through Dark Horse and is well worth picking up. Dr. McNinja is still going strong on the web, and continues to prove itself as one of the best out there. Hopefully we’ll get to see the McNinja clan on the small screen sometime soon.