"Gunwolf," A Manga Comic Book with a Soundtrack

October 16, 2013

Get ready for thirty-six pages and 16-tracks of explosive radness as you follow Gunwolf, Hirohito Co.'s number one corporate enforcer who has a penchant for synth-rock, a reputation for mayhem, and the skill to carry it out. Gunwolf: Get Ready to Get Killed [Fax Manga #1] is the first of a series of comic books from Nick Ebeling and A.P. Menzies of Dirt Bike Press and illustration by Akiko Stehrenberger.

Juxtapoz: Why did you create Gunwolf? 

Nick Ebeling: I started getting in to these amazing obscure Japanese Yakuza crime movies of the 70's and 80's. They were like the movies both myself and Gunwolf's co-creator A.P. Menzies watched as kids on Superstation TBS like Eiger Sanction and Point Blank but way more insane. It seemed as if  they poured gas on the scripts and went as far out as they could while keeping classic American inspired irreverent anti hero's as cool as Lee Marvin at all times. Our idea was to bring the Japanese version into the American landscape. Something we thought we thought missing. Both of us being from Southern California, we had shared a strange fascination with the freeways, malls and subdivisions of the O.C. . For us it was even as alien as Tokyo and in a way represented the end of the American dream before it fell into the ocean. A Reagan dream with bad plastic surgery and aggression. What a great place for battle. Then we found out about YMO and Ryuichi Sakamoto's pioneering electronic music and it was over. 

What do you like about Gunwolf? 

Fax Machines, our Soundtrack Album, bloated super corporations, fast cars, guns & Panda Women.



Comic book one + soundtrack: “Get Ready To Get Killed” [Fax Manga #1] 

In this Yakuza-inspired, pop surrealist, and sci-fi-skewed mash-up of the clandestine ops division of Tokyo’s Hirohito Happy Concern Corporation—a 10-trillion dollar company that’s Japan’s leading manufacturer of everything from mega-drills to malt liquor energy vodkas vs. the suburban teen wasteland that is Orange County, CA. —Gunwolf warns, “Get Ready To Get Killed.” The title character is an 18-year-old rogue corporate enforcer with a penchant for synth- rock, a reputation for mayhem, and the skill set to carry it out. Gunwolf was co-created and written by Dirt Bike Press co-founders Nick Ebeling and A.P. Menzies, and illustrated by Akiko Stehrenberger. The complete story arc will unfold as a series of comic books from Dirt Bike Press. Companion soundtracks—spearheaded by Coco Morier—will be released simultaneously with each comic book, on limited edition audiocassette and online. Together, words, images, and music collaboratively tell the Gunwolf story throughout the entire series.

In issue #1, titled “Get Ready To Get Killed,” Gunwolf is dispatched to present-day OC to retrieve a set of prized golf clubs in possession of the Treadway Company, a questionable failing So. Cal firm controlled by Hirohito since 1984 as the result of a drug-fueled hostile takeover. What Gunwolf lacks in discipline, he makes up for in savagery—which is critical, as failure is not an option. He must complete his mission or face reprogramming by Hirohito’s elite team of comely Panda Women. In a rampage throughout the Brea mall that would make Sunny Chiba smirk, Gunwolf gets the job done, and gets the sullen fashionista girl—as well as her musician/ occultist boyfriend Jimmy’s wheels. Jimmy vows revenge as they speed off, Gunwolf hell-bent on further destruction—and on finishing his killer demo tape.

Ebeling and Menzies have been friends and collaborators since they attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena—they first met in a parking lot on campus, over a spliff and some Clash tapes. Early on, they discovered their shared fascination for obscure Japanese Yakuza movies from the ’70s and ’80s, as well as films such as Dr. Strangelove, Magnum Force, Buckaroo Banzai, Reservoir Dogs, and Repo Man—dark, punk, tongue-in-cheek, edgy, kindred in spirit to Gunwolf.

Los Angeles native Ebeling is a producer/writer/filmmaker who recently finished shooting the first episode of his web series "Cause and Effect" which was sponsored by Luxottica. The show creates unique artistic collaborations with creatives in a variety of genres. In the first collaboration with L.A. based musician Coco Morier, Ebeling created an narrative art film played in rewind set to her track "Hallucination." His art punk ethos has also led to recent VHS analog music video films with Miss Kittin & Spy Numbers - the latter debuted at the Art Er Native Light 2 Exhibition in Monte Carlo. His screenplay about aggro English football hooligan's on holiday recently secured a production deal.

Menzies is the author of Friends and Other Signs of the Apocalypse (Dirt Bike Press, 2012), an irreverent collection of short stories and punk poetry musing on “a generation of kids lost in the myth of privilege and the legacy of suburban sprawl”—specifically Menzies’ native O.C., aka
Gunwolf’s turf. He also fronts the psychedelic spoken word punk band A.P. and the heath!,whose forthcoming release features artwork by legendary late British graphic designer Storm Thorgerson (best known for iconic Pink Floyd album covers).

Stehrenberger’s illustrations for Gunwolf unfold as an eye-popping manga-style tour de force in which dramatic set-ups and rapid-fire action sequences leap off the pages. Stehrenberger began her career in New York illustrating for SPIN, The Source, Filter, and other publications. She moved back to Los Angeles in 2004 and became an art director/designer of movie posters for films by David Lynch, Todd Solondz and Michael Haneke, among others. In 2009, she took both #1 spots on The Auteurs Movie Posters of the Decade list; in 2011 she was named “Poster Girl” by Interview Magazine and listed among “Ones to Watch in 2011” in Creative Review. In 2012, her posters for Brand X and Casa De Mi Padre were honored with Key Art Awards. Her illustrated poster “Kiss of the Damned” won best poster design at SXSW in 2013.

The soundtrack component of the Gunwolf series is overseen by indie-pop singer-songwriter Coco Morier, of the badass “electro-trash” duo Electrocute—and current member of the artist collective Ingrid. And Co-Produced with Mickey Petralia, known for producing all of the music on the Grammy winning, Emmy nominated hit HBO series Flight of the Concords. Included are songs written and produced by Ingrid members Morier, Jocke Ahlund (The Teddybears), John Erikkson and Bjorn Ytlling (From Peter, Bjorn and John), as well as guests including the Japanese girl group the Suzan (produced by Bjorn Ytlling), The Child, Don Matsuo from The Zoobombs, and the legendary Stereo Total. Not to mention an awesome track by occult hardcore freaks Ichabod who can be seen rocking out in the mall in the comic itself. Pulsating synth lines and chunky rhythms echo the scattershot against cinematic inspired soundbites, that is the high-octane mania of Gunwolf. Morier has a thing for classic soundtracks, and she also has diverse credits including serving as Charlotte Gainsbourg’s lead guitarist in her Beck-led 2010 touring band, and writing and performing on Britney Spears last few albums including the hit “How I Roll.”