Comics Features

INTERVIEW: Courtland Ellis, Artist Of Stabb Gunner

Like comics? Who am I kidding – why else would you be here? How about arcade beat-’em-ups? If you answered yes to both of these questions, then Stabb Gunner is for you! Stabb Gunner blends elements of 80s and 90s classic arcade (and console) hits with comics so that you don’t have to keep pumping quarters (dating myself here) into the machine every time you die. Because you can’t! You’re just reading a comic! (writer will not be held responsible for injury or accidental death as a result of comic reading)

We recently sat down with artist Courtland Ellis to talk a bit about Stabb Gunner; check it out!

AP2HYC: Tell us a bit about how the idea for Stabb Gunner came to be.

Ellis: Stabb Gunner was my partner Joseph Krzemienski‘s concept. When Joe came to me with the idea, Stabb Gunner was a beat-’em-up game where you played as a hired assassin known as Stabb Gunner.

As we talked about it we each expressed a desire to do a comic and since we didn’t have the means to make a game, a beat-’em-up themed comic is what it became. We split the character in two and it evolved into what it is today.

AP2HYC: Which games influenced Stabb Gunner in particular?

Ellis: There are so many. There’s the Streets of Rage series – namely Streets of Rage 2, Double Dragon, Turtles in Time, a little Final Fight, and Final Fantasy specifically for the current issue “Super Dodgeball.”

AP2HYC: Since Stabb Gunner borrows from arcade beat-’em-ups, will we see the obligatory “elevator scene” at some point?

Ellis: Joe and I hadn’t discussed that yet , but since the final battle involves a fifty story building I don’t see how it can’t involve a big elevator fight scene (laughs).

AP2HYC: I absolutely love that the main villain is named Well Dressed Man. Will Stabb and Gunner face other “boss” characters during the story?

Ellis: Yes sir. There is Jefe Grande, Muscle Guy, Technosaurus Flex, Vagas Teddy, and potentially a few others.

AP2HYC: Where does Mute fit into all of this? Is he on his own side, and will we see him team up with Stabb and Gunner?

Ellis: Mute is a completely separate story in a completely separate world. I’d play around with ways that I could maybe tie him into Stabb Gunner, but Mute’s comic will have a much more serious mood.

AP2HYC: On your Patreon account it says Stabb Gunner has “a little RPG (role playing game) sprinkled on top.” What does that mean for the story?

Ellis: Well the idea is that the Stabb Gunner story takes place in a game-a-fied world. There’s a popular phone app that allows people to view each other’s stats similar to how the “scan” ability works in Final Fantasy, which will first be introduced by Gunner.

AP2HYC: Explain a little bit about the creative process between yourself and Joseph Krzemienski.

Ellis: Well when it comes to the story it’s kind of a team effort. Joe and I will get together and bounce ideas back and forth, but I of course have to give most of the credit to Joe. As the writer he brings everything together. It’s much the same on the visual side, but visa versa. I’m responsible for much of the visuals aside from colors which are handled by Joe and our other team member Graey Erb.

AP2HYC: As an artist, who are your biggest influences?

Ellis: One of my biggest influences is LeSean Thomas, who’s gone on to work on many popular projects like The Boondocks, Black Dynamite, Legend of Korra, etc., as well as Shawna Mills who’s also worked on Black Dynamite– not to mention that they each come from New York like myself. Other than that there’s Joe Mad (comic and concept artist), Chris Bachalo, and Stuart Immonen to name a few.

AP2HYC: What are your all time favorite beat-’em-ups?

Ellis: My absolute favorite beat-’em-up is Streets of Rage 2. From the tight gameplay to the killer soundtrack, I can still play that game to this day, and I’ve also enjoyed that X-Men beat-’em-up. Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage also holds up pretty well, and the old Turtles in Time arcade game.

AP2HYC: Which comics are you reading right now?

Ellis: Right now I’m just waiting for Secret Wars to finish. I’m starting to read the new Extraordinary X-Men run, catching up on All-Star Superman, and reading some Sex Criminals here and there.

AP2HYC: What can we expect from Stabb Gunner in the future?

Ellis: Well if it gains traction we can finally make that beat-’em-up that it originally was going to be.

AP2HYC: Thanks Courtland!

It’s worth mentioning that the Stabb Gunner mentioned above is a sort of reboot, and that Courtland and Joe were kind enough to provide us with issues 1 and 2 of the pre-reboot comic. That means you too! Check ’em out here and here.

To learn more about Stabb Gunner or to make a donation, visit the team’s official Patreon page. It seems as though if Stabb Gunner takes off we might be getting a game too, so let’s do our best to help out!

What are your thoughts on the beat-’em-up inspired Stabb Gunner? Let us know in the comments section and on our Twitter page!


About the author

Robert Porter