Comic Genius With a Talking Dog: Stephen McCraine

61D61eK-RiL._UX250_When I was younger, there was always at least one cartoon on TV where one of the characters was a kid genius. I always wanted to be a kid genius, because I thought it meant I would be able to go on adventures, make high tech inventions from trash, travel through time, and be able to outsmart my parents and teachers. I instead had to settle for above average intelligence and imaginary adventures, but I’ve always enjoyed the kid genius concept. Stephen McCraine felt the same way I do about the idea and he decided to write his own kid genius comic called Mal and Chad, which takes the idea in a delightful new direction. His boy genius Mal must hide his scientific genius from his parents and classmates, but he’s not alone in his scientific pursuits. He is joined by his best friend Chad the talking dog and together they face life’s challenges. I sought out Stephen to discuss his comic genius and found out what’s next for the pair.

Whitney Grace (WG): Why did you decide to get into comics?

Stephen McCraine (SM): I love the medium– it’s a wonderful tool for spreading ideas and telling stories.

WG: What were some of your inspirations when you were growing up?

SM: The work of cartoonists like Osamu Tezuka, Hayao Miyazaki, Jeff Smith, Kazu Kibuishi, Gene Yang, Doug Tennapel, and a bunch more.

WG: What was the first comic you ever drew?  If you can, go way back to when you were still working on your fine motor skills with crayons.

SM: I think the first comic I ever drew was one about some pirates. It’s funny, you never actually see the pirates in the comic, you just see the ship they’re on going from island to island, and in each panel the ship changes size slightly, so that it gives off the impression of a squishy banana or something. My mom wrote the speech bubbles for me since I didn’t know how to write. I was probably 4 or 5 years old.

WG: You’re most well known for Mal and Chad, please explain what that comic is about.

SM: Mal and Chad is an all-ages adventures series about a boy genius and his talking dog. There are currently three volumes out from Penguin books– and a comic strip that I’m serializing through Tapastic.

WG: The boy genius character has been played around with other creators.  What makes Mal and Chad different from its counterparts?

SM: It is definitely a trope. I suppose the difference with Mal is that even though he’s brilliant, he’s still insecure. His inventions create as much problems for him as they do opportunities fun. It’s kind of like if Charlie Brown were a genius inventor– that’s Mal.

WG: What do you think would happen if Mal invented a device that allowed him to enter our world?

MalChad_cvr-7SM: I would have to apologize to Mal for putting him through so much grief. The poor guy has had to deal with a lot of problems– fighting monsters, impressing the girl of his dreams, cleaning his room.

WG: After apologizing to Mal and Chad, what would you do to show them a great time?

SM: Ice cream. Definitely ice cream.

WG: I love Mal and Chad and I’m an adult, but why do you think kids like the comic?

SM: I think kids enjoy the energy. I try to draw my comics in such a way that Mal is always moving and reacting and emoting. I think kids enjoy that.

WG: How do you write and draw the story to make it appealing for all ages?

SM: I create my work from a perspective that there’s not as much difference between adults and kids as you think. When you’re young, you might be afraid of monsters under the bed, but as you grow older, the monsters don’t go away, they just change shape. We all have monsters we are dealing with whether we are young or old, and this common struggle is one of the many things that makes up our shared humanity.

WG: You work on another interesting project called Doodle Alley, would you please explain what that is?

SM: Doodle Alley is a blog where I publish short comic essay covering topics like how to motivate yourself and how to deal with failure and how to defeat procrastination. It’s basically everything I’ve learned so far as an artist put into simple, easy-to-understand comics. Please check it out!

WG: Why did you decide to write comic essays?

SM: I feel like comics can compress information pretty tightly. It can make information every accessible– if there’s something I can’t explain with words, I can always show it with pictures.

WG: How do you come up with topics for them?

SM: The topics were taken from my life, struggles I’ve had as an artist; things I want to share with people so they don’t have to go through the same struggles.

WG: What other creative projects are you working on that you would like to plug?

SM: My new book, which is currently coming out on Doodle Alley, is called The Art of Impact, How to be Heard in the Age of Noise. It’s a book about branding and how to stand out from the crowd and get your work noticed. Check out the first essay!

WG: Do you have anything to declare?

SM: Declare? Hmmm.  I believe there is a world beyond our world.

Shop Deadpool tees in our officially licensed Marvel store!

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
The Cast and Crew of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales’ Discuss the Latest High Seas Adventure

Captain Jack Sparrow and his merry band of misfit pirates are...

Two of the Greatest Wrestling Movies Come to DVD & Blu-ray in ‘Vision Quest’ and ‘American Wrestler’

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has done a huge service to every...

96 Souls
’96 Souls’ is Silly, Nonsensical Sci-fi

It’s never a good sign when a movie opens up with...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Thicker Than Water Review
10.0/10
Telltale’s The Walking Dead: A New Frontier Episode 4: Thicker Than Water Review

The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series – A New Frontier Episode...

New Frontier Season Finale Trailer
Telltale’s The Walking Dead: A New Frontier Season Finale Trailer

The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series – A New Frontier Season Finale...

Nex Machina
Housemarque Games Reveals Release Date for Nex Machina

Housemarque Reveals release date for arcade-style twin-stick shooter, Nex Machina, set...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
8.0/10
Ninjak #27: Royal Adder

Ninjak #27 Written By: Kevin Maurer Art By: Cafu Release date: 5/24/2017 I’ve...

8.5/10
Batman/Shadow No. 2 Continues the Crossover Coaster

Title: Batman/Shadow #2 Writers: Scott Snyder and Steve Orlando Script: Steve...

9.5/10
Read Image Comics’ ‘Redneck’…Trust Me (SPOILER FREE)

Title: Redneck #2 Writer: Donny Cates Artist(s): Dee Cunniffe and Lisandro...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Doctor Who
The May 2017 Doctor Who Block from NerdBlock is a Timelord’s Bounty

NerdBlock’s Doctor Who block is a must for any Whovian. There...

JINX Overwatch Apparel
New JINX Overwatch Apparel to Celebrate One-Year Anniversary

Celebrate Overwatch’s One-Year Anniversary with brand new JINX Overwatch Apparel from J!NX...

DC Collectibles Reveals New 2018 ‘DC Artist Alley’ Line At Five Points Festival

From DC Collectibles – Designer super hero toys — meet street...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Epic Fighting 34 Results

Friday, May 12, 2017 – Epic Fighting took place at their...

King of the Cage Heads to Black Bear Casino Resort on June 9 for ‘Fire Starter’

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CA. (May 10, 2017) – King of the Cage, the leader...

James ‘Lights Out’ Toney to Face ‘Lightning’ Mike Sheppard in his Final Fight

YPSILANTI, Mich., May 4, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Main Event Professional Boxing,...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Cultural Junkdrawer – Season’s End: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 is everything it’s been building up...

Wonder Woman
Is That Sexist? – ‘Wonder Woman’ Marketing Maybe/Maybe Not?

There is only one month left until one of DC Comics’...

Adult Continuity Issue Nine – Ten Inch Mutant Ninja Turtles

The porn parody has a long, hard, turgid and difficult to...

Event News Event Reviews
Phoenix Comicon 2017 logo
Phoenix ComiCon Props Update

The Phoenix Comicon had to make massive changes to the costuming...

Id10T
ID10T Music Festival + Comic Conival Announces First Wave of Panels

ID10T Music Festival + Comic Conival Announces First Wave of Panels...

Disney Channel, Disney XD & Disney Junior Announce Events for D23 Expo

From D23 Expo – BURBANK, Calif. (May 17, 2017) – Disney...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming.

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Gaming Uncensored: Podcast #349

Jamie reflects on some of his time with the HTC Vive....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Lahna Turner’s ‘Limeade’ is a Hilariously Haunting Comedy Album

Many people are roll their eyes at the idea of musical...

Prince’s ‘Deliverance’ Reminds Us of Who We Lost

On Friday, April 21st, it will be one year since we...

Sabroso Fest, How can you go Wrong with Beer, Tacos and Lucha Libre!?!(Photo Gallery)

The Sabroso Craft Beer, Taco and Music Festival sponsored by 95.5...