In this third portion of the interview, I asked about the plotting process, plans for the future, and whether Pete had been inspired by particular sources.

Previously: Part One, Part Two

Me: You talked in the past about how the huge plot that you’ve woven together in Sluggy over the years has drawn toward a close. You said you didn’t want to start any new plot arcs until that was finished. What happens when it’s finished? Do you start another decade-long story arc?

Pete: That’s the thing, I have the freedom to make the choice at that point. That’s why, every time I’m asked the question I’ve never said definitively I’m going to stop the strip. I basically have to see where I am when I get there, because there’s definitely more stories I could be telling. But at this point there’s so many things that are unanswered, I almost want to answer everything, wrap everything up exactly the way I want to, and then see from that point where it will continue. And if it will continue. But as I’ve also said, at the rate I’m going, it’ll probably take ten more years for me to get there. So it’s not going away anytime soon.

Me: Something about Sluggy Freelance seems to be very polarizing in some ways. It seems a lot of people either love serious stuff and hate the broad parodies, or vice versa—so no matter what kind of story arc you’re doing, some significant fraction of your fandom is annoyed at any given time. Why do you think that is? Does it ever influence your decisions in writing scripts?

Pete: Well, I can answer the second part of that easier. No, it doesn’t influence me at all. I have a good gut instinct for what I want to do and how I want to do things. And I’ve been doing that for ten years, and there’s never been any time I could point to where fan influences caused me to adjust them. I started getting my first "you used to be great but now you suck" email around the vampire storyline, which I think was eight months in. And from then on, every time I do anything, there’s always somebody who’s very unhappy with it, and probably a large group of people who’s very unhappy with it and wish I would do what I had done the month before.

But…yeah, I don’t have anything deep to say about the fact that you can’t please all of the people all of the time with what you’re doing. But as I said, I’ve been doing this for ten years and making a living at it—thirteen years actually, thirteen years making a living at it, trusting my gut and writing the kind of stories that I want to in the in the way I want to so I don’t see the sense in me…I haven’t even considered exactly what the sense would be to try to guess what everyone would like that would please everybody. It just seems like a losing battle.

Sorry for that long, baffling answer. Feel free to cut it down to, like, a shorter version, like how about, "I dunno."

Me: Have you ever heard anything from people who created the original stories you’ve parodied, like JK Rowling or anybody like that?

Pete: Have I heard feedback from the people I’ve parodied?

Me: Yeah.

Pete: Not that I can remember. I might be missing something in there. I’m trying to access that brain file, and there’s like a flag on one of the folders but I can’t seem to open it at the moment. So, put that down as an, "I dunno."

Me: You’ve parodied Harry Potter. Any plans to do Twilight?

ScreenClipPete: I would have to actually read Twilight and watch the movies of Twilight to do that. And as I said, I have so little time as it is. I’d probably besmirch it, though it seems very besmirchable. But, um, yeah. I don’t really have a good answer for that. I will say this, though. There’s currently a fans-only comic book, The Sampire. Sam is a vampire who hears about this other book called "Whineypire" in which the vampires—all the chicks are into those vampires and they sparkle. So he gets some glitter, spreads it on like Axe aftershave, and tries to pick up women covered in glitter based on that. So that’s as close as I’ve gotten to a parody of the Twilight saga.

Me: I seem to have come to the end of my prepared questions. I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with me. It’s an amazing comic, I look forward to seeing what happens next.

Pete: I’ll look forward to telling you, and showing you.

Me: So, in the current 4U City storyline, was Brazil one of your influences there?

Pete: I’ve never seen the movie Brazil, actually. I’ve seen commercials for it, and it looks like it’s right up my alley.

Me: One of the elements of Brazil involves this plumber, and it always seemed like the pipe-fitting element in the 4U City story could have come from that.

Pete: Interesting. No, I haven’t seen that. In fact, I actually got an email from someone asking if the character I introduced today, Harbinger, came from Crisis on Infinite Earths. And I’ve never read that either, so I wasn’t exactly influenced by that, either. So yeah, there’s a lot of things that happen like that: no Brazil, no Crisis on Infinite Earths, just my crazy imagination.

Me: Thanks again for the interview, I really appreciate it.

Pete: No problem, Chris.


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