Interview | Troy Little, Angora Napkin

You might have heard of Troy Little’s work.  As a comic book artist/writer, he’s created Chiaroscuro, initially a self-produced seven-issue series published from 2000-03.  Three more issues were completed by 2005, for the graphic novel version of the comic.  The Chiaroscuro graphic novel was republished by IDW in 2007, on the basis of a Dave Sim recommendation.

The Angora Napkin comic, published by IDW in 2009, was recently nominated for a 2010 Eisner Award, in the Best Publication for Teens category.  AN lost to Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson’s Beasts of Burden, but the nomination’s still an honour.

Oh, almost forgot, Teletoon commissioned an Angora Napkin pilot.  Said pilot will air October 31, 2010 at 11:30 PM ET/PT, as part of the Teletoon Detour at Night Pilot Project.  You may have seen me promote the Teletoon Pilot Project at some point in time, but don’t quote me on that.

This is an interview with just one of the Angora Napkin creators.  I plan to interview the other AN creator, Nick Cross, later this month.  This might look like favouritism, but you don’t usually see a Ren & Stimpy-like adult animated series on Teletoon.  At least I admit my bias.

What was it like pitching Angora Napkin to Teletoon?  Was Angora Napkin pitched to other cable channels/networks before it crawled out of Teletoon’s development process?  Is the process about as maddening as I assume it is?

Angora Napkin was actually pitched to the network by our producer in Toronto.  She had a good deal of material to back up the pitch itself, what with the graphic novel and tons of preliminary things Nick (Cross) and I have cooked up over the years.  As such, there was very little interference on the part of Teletoon once we began production.

I think part of the whole Pilot Project was to hunt up new talent, and not necessarily direct them as they might a more in-house, homegrown project.  Hard to believe, but it was the best working experience I’ve ever come across in all my years working in the industry.  I only hope that can sustain itself, should [Angora Napkin] ever go to series.

What are the chances, in your opinion, that Angora Napkin will become a series?  The comic book’s Eisner nomination gives the show some momentum, but then, you’re competing against eight other pilots.  It’s Mugisha Enterprises against studios like Nelvana, Cuppa Coffee and Fresh TV.

Hard to say.  In TV, the worst shows go to syndication while the gems get dropped before they even have a chance.  I think it’s really only a matter of time before someone picks up the Angora Napkin ball – if not Teletoon, then somewhere else.  Given the success of the book, the Eisner nod, a full-blown pilot and an upcoming web serial, it would confound me if it wasn’t taken further in animation.

What do you think of the Canadian television industry as it stands now?  Is animation in better shape than live action, overall?

I have no real opinion on that, as I haven’t had cable TV in years.  Even the CBC is too fuzzy a reception to watch, so I have no real way to gauge that.

What do you think of the comics industry as it stands now?  As much as IDW, Image and Top Shelf have established themselves as decent-yet-somewhat-large independents, Marvel and DC are still the Big Two.  There’s seemingly no end to the number of ways in which Spider-Man and Batman can be rebooted.

Marvel and DC will do their best to stay bloated and ostensibly alienate their fans one by one.  No one can stop them, and I gave up caring about what they do years ago.  There are so many good comics and graphic novels out there without them, it matters very little to me.  People will make comics despite all calls to the contrary.  It’s not like many of us ever make a cent off our work, yet we continue to do it anyway.

I read in one interview that you had a day job with Kids’ CBC.  What was that like?  Kids’ CBC comes across to me like rancid oatmeal topped with crayon.

Technically, I was working at a studio (Trapeze Animation) on a kid’s show (Razzberry Jazzberry Jam) produced for the CBC.  That was fine.  I’ve done worse and been paid less, so as far as a day job I can’t complain…too much.

How do you feel about Angora Napkin losing the 2010 Best Publication for Teens Eisner to Beasts of Burden?  Granted, you’re competing against Evan Dorkin, but hell, it’s an Eisner.  Not a lot of animators can say they’ve been nominated for a well-known comic book award.

I pretty much expected to lose to Beasts of Burden going into it.  Jill [Thompson] and Evan [Dorkin] are more than a little bit established in the industry as major talents.  The rest of us were by and large on the periphery.

Winning the Eisner would have been a trip, but the nomination itself is more than I ever imagined.  I’m beyond happy to be able to link that title onto my next book!

How centralized do you figure Canadian media are?  I’d like to believe there’s depth beyond Toronto, Vancouver and random pockets of regionalized activity, but let’s face it. doesn’t exactly benefit from having Stirling as a home base.

Seems to me the media world revolves around Toronto and Vancouver, but that’s to be expected.  I’d imagine it’s the same in New York vs. Los Angeles, with little major news spilling out of Kansas.  Being in a small area can have its perks – it’s easier to capture the attention of the local media when you need it, and you don’t have to compete with murderers and movie stars.

What will audiences see in Angora Napkin if it makes series?  Do you even know yet?

Nick and I have outlined a lot of crazy stories over the years, so a good mixed bag of mayhem is there waiting to be spewed forth.  We don’t place any restriction on the characters; so long as it’s funny – to us, at least – it’s game.  I can only pray we see Nick realize his Angora Napkin adaptation of [Franz] Kafka’s The Trial.

What other Canadian comics and animated projects do you recommend, aside from Chiaroscuro and Angora Napkin?

Well, I’m fresh from Halifax and Dave Sim’s final signing event at Strange Adventures. Anyone who knows me knows I’m going to pump his epic Cerebus as my must read.  Jeff Lemire’s Essex County is also one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Keep an eye on Nick Cross; he’s got a new animated film coming out soon called The Pig Farmer, and his last film Yellow Cake will be showcased at the Ottawa International Animation Festival this year.  His stuff is brilliant.  If you haven’t seen it, then look it up on Vimeo.

Thanks to Troy Little for answering the questions, and promptly.  The Teletoon at Night Pilot Project debuts October 17, 2010, at 11:30 PM ET/PT.

C. Archer
Le Social