AXE COP is the most fun you will ever have reading a comic. It's about a cop with an axe, who chops bad guys' heads off. He hates babies. He has a pet T. Rex with machine gun arms. He fights crime with his brother Flute Cop, who morphs into Dino Soldier. Sound like something a kid wrote? True that. Axe Cop is a hysterical collaboration between artist Ethan Nicolle, age 30, and his brother/writer Malachai Nicolle, age six. First a web comic, Dark Horse has compiled the first 70 episodes in Axe Cop Vol. 1 (out December 22). Plan to spend a goodly chunk of your time reading it and laughing your face off, with more face-melting laughter to come in the spring with a three-part miniseries called Bad Guy Earth. Older brother Ethan took a minute to answer some pressing questions and to succinctly describe the awesomeness of Axe Cop as: "Narnia written by Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes and directed by Michael Bay."
MERCURY: How did Axe Cop come to be?
ETHAN NICOLLE: It happened last Christmas during playtime with my (then) five-year-old brother Malachai. He asked if I wanted to play "Axe Cop." He had a toy firefighter's axe but he didn't want to fight fires, he wanted to fight crime, so he called himself an axe cop. The visual I got of a character named "Axe Cop" stuck in my head and it became one of those things I couldn't not draw.
How do you two collaborate?
We have two ways we work together—phone and in person. When Dark Horse asked us to do the miniseries, I decided the best way to do it would be to go spend a month with Malachai. We played in my car, at the playground, in his room, and the whole time I tried to keep it as on topic as I could.
What's the biggest challenge when working with a six-year-old?
He doesn't ever sit down and go, "Okay, I have to discipline myself to get this script written because I need to make something of myself!" Luckily he does like to play. I am his editor and I have to make sure the story works. It becomes a bigger job than if I were writing it myself, though I can always fall back on "well, a five-year-old wrote it" if it is bad.
How much input do you have about the story?
I think that what makes Axe Cop so much fun is Malachai's kid logic and where he goes with it. For the story, I try to make sure that any plot-related content in Axe Cop is something he came up with, but I ask questions, and though the questions do guide the story, generally I have no control of where it will go.
Who writes the characters' dialogue?
When I visit I try to write down things he says to bad guys while he plays videogames, like "Happy Die Day!" then I use that later in a comic when I need a good catchphrase. Most of the content is from him, I just organize it and give it skin.
Who's your favorite character?
I'm going to have to go with Axe Cop himself. He is so audacious, logical, and unconventional, but he also has a very soft side.
What's Axe Cop's future hold?
As long as Axe Cop is fun for Malachai, the readers, and me, then it is worth making, so until that stops being true I want to keep Axe Cop choppin'.