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June 6, 2010

Web Comic of the Month: Mint Condition

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Written by: Eli
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For this month’s Web Comic of the Month, we’re featuring Mint Condition, by John Harmon. It’s an awesome black and white web comic that John updates Mondays and Thursdays.

Mint Condition is funny, with a blend of ongoing story arcs, one-shot strips, and very nice artwork. One thing that makes this comic stand out from others we’ve featured is that it focuses on the lives of John and his friends. Well, except for the occasional strip about certain mutants living in upstate New York. As well as the ongoing story of Ultimate Gandhi. Yes, you read that correctly, Ultimate Gandhi, and as you might expect from his name, this online incarnation does not abstain from hurting people. In fact, he’s quite good at kicking the mess out of those who trample on…whatever it is that he fights for. Here is an example of some mutants, as well as a butt-kicking spiritual leader.

The man responsible for all of this madness was nice enough to give us a few moments of his time. We got together over email, and talked about his comic, life, and real important stuff, like who was the toughest captain of the Starship Enterprise!

Comic Attack: Do you remember the first comic you ever read?
John Harmon: Hmm, that’s definitely a tough one. I think it might have been Sonic the Hedgehog. I used to collect every issue of that every month. Also, something involving X-Men was in my early childhood. I loved me some X-Men comics.

CA: What was the first comic that you created? When?
JH: This is a much easier question. When I was maybe 6 or 7, I was really big into Street Sharks, and I was also into martial arts, so I drew this comic on orange construction paper (not the best medium to work in, let me tell you) that was about these two brothers who wore karate gis and also happened to be anthropomorphic sharks. I cleverly named it Shark Brothers. It was short lived, but saw something of a resurgence when I got into Middle School and met my still-best-friend Tim. For some reason he got me into drawing comics again, so I did and I remembered that crazy idea and tried to turn into something less ridiculous. Instead of anthropomorphic sharks, it was two human brothers who could turn into sharks! Ah-ha! Yeah, not much better I admit, but I always keep any comic ideas on a list somewhere for future reference.

CA: Have we seen your work anywhere else?
JH: That all depends on what you mean by “my work”, since I am both a cartoonist and an action figure customizer. Of course there is the main Mint Condition website, but I also have a site dedicated to my custom action figures, and am working on moving it to a new domain and hosting service. I also have a Deviant Art page and I’ve done a guest comic for Calamities of Nature and I do a weekly comic strip for the Action Figure Review site Articulated Discussion. Here’s a link to the archives of all the comics on that site. So yeah my work is definitely out there, ha ha.

CA: How did Mint Condition come about?
JH: The idea for Mint Condition came about years ago when I was a freshman in High School. I was hanging out with my friends Tim and Dave and we were big into the now defunct web comic Mac Hall. We loved it and got it into our heads that we should do a web comic of our own and feature ourselves and our friends as cartoons. I did some character sketches, and we had ideas, and I even drew out about 20 comics that would be distributed amongst my friends, and…nothing happened. I didn’t even have internet access, much less a scanner for my computer or anything essential for making a web comic. Then years later when I got into college I started acquiring those things because I really wanted to finally make it a reality. So I sat down and redrew those original comics, making them better in every way possible, and by that time I had everything I needed. Except the internet access. I had to go to my local library for that, while one of my closest friends who ran the web comic The McRemnant Report helped with the web mastering and stuff. Now I do everything myself, but if it weren’t for that crazy group of circumstances, Mint Condition might not have existed at all. Oh, and I totally owe the title to my friend Tim as well. When trying to think of a title, he just said it and a thousand light bulbs went off. I thought it was perfect, the way it described just what the comic was about. The rest, as they say, is history.

CA: What do you do when not creating the next Mint Condition strip?
JH: Trying my best to relax, or spend time with my girlfriend, or even hang out with my friends. I try to have something of a normal life to break up all the work that really goes into making the comic and the site in general. Very rarely I’ll play video games, but I’m not a gamer by any stretch of the term. I watch a lot of movies too. I have a rather extensive DVD collection so it helps when nothing good is on TV.

CA: What do you use to make your strip? Hardware, Software, gadgets? Why?
JH: First and foremost I use Photoshop CS3 to help finish my strips. Plan on upgrading to CS5 when it’s released. Anyway, right now I use a combination of the Wacom Intuos4 drawing tablet and the aforementioned Photoshop. Since so much of the comic relies on it being digitally rendered, I just thought it would be easier to cut out the middle man and use the tablet. My girlfriend actually got it for me for my birthday a couple of months ago. Its been very useful. I used to completely pencil and ink each comic on cardstock and then scan them in and then digitally render them in photoshop. That was the middle man I was refering to.

CA: What is your creative environment like? Noise, silence, day, night, what?
JH: Unfortunately it’s mostly noisy since I live in a small apartment with my girlfriend and my “computer room” is just the corner in our living room. Though whenever she’s not here I try to get as much work done as possible, which means it’s not noisy during those occasions. And I mostly work at night for some reason. I’d like to work more during the day, but for whatever reason I can’t seem to get a whole lot done until nightfall…weird.

CA: What is your favorite Mint Condition strip?
JH: Oh, now there’s a tough one. Some of my favorite strips are actually whole storylines that I’ve done, like anything involving Ultimate Gandhi and the NecroComic-Con storyline I’ve done. But as for one-shot strips? This one still ranks amongst my favorites:

As well as this more recent one:

Those two are the few examples of times when something actually turns out the way I want it to. I love it when I have a very clear cut idea, and it turns out almost 100% the way I wanted it to.

CA: What are your goals for Mint Condition?
JH: Well, right now I’m just having fun, but I’m also working on a book that collects the first year and a half of Mint Condition strips from the beginning in July 2007 all the way to the end of 2008. Then from there I just plan to keep doing the comic until it’s no fun anymore. I plan to one day make it my main source of income.

CA: What are your goals in the comic business?
JH: Vague as of right now. Sometimes I hope that Mint Condition is a stepping stone onto something more in the comics industry so I can get to play with characters like the X-Men, and especially Batman, and then other times I just don’t care. But I do have plans for the future that might involve a printed series of Mint Condition or possibly Ultimate Gandhi. Perhaps a graphic novel featuring Clark Parker: Clown P.I. or something like that. Of course for those to come to fruition, I’d first need to get a comics publisher interested (here’s looking at you Image Comics). I’m also hoping that one day working on Mint Condition and my custom action figures will help me gain the capital to start making my own movies. I really want to be a director and make my own movies. You can see an example of a very short film/fake trailer I made while in high school for a class. It’s primitive, but I’m still proud of it because of the editing. I love editing, and we only had one camera so several things were filmed multiple times from different angles. I also have a small part as the guy who gets punched about half-way through, and I’m the narrator. My ultimate goal is to be a film director someday.

CA: You’re given the chance to do a mini-series for any character from comic history, who do you choose? Why?
JH: I would choose Batman. Because’s he freaking Batman, that’s why. Or Superman. I’ve got in my head to do this story featuring this all powerful being put in a mundane situation like being put on trial for all the collateral damage he’s caused throughout the years and actually having to legally defend himself. I’m not sure why I like this idea so much. I’ve also got an idea for a Crow storyline as well that I don’t want to divulge in case I actually get a chance to do it someday.

CA: What’s the title?
JH: Superman on Trial. The Batman mini-series would be called Gotham After Midnight and would be about Bruce Wayne dealing with dead bodies showing up at his doorstep every night at Midnight with little riddles left for him to solve. By the end of the story you find out that Bruce is the one who’s been committing the murders and then forgetting everything. I dunno, I just pulled that out of my ass. OOH! Maybe Batman Vs. The Army of Darkness so I can have Batman and Bruce Campbell in the same story! Yeah, that would be awesome. The Crow storyline would be called The Crow: Tears of Blood (or something better if I can think of it).

CA: Person you’d love to get the chance to work with on a comic?
JH: As much as some of his latest work makes me sort of cringe, I’d probably draw anything Frank Miller wrote, or Bill Willingham, the creator of Fables, for that matter. I’d also love to work with Stan Lee, but I think that may be setting the bar astronomically high. And I’m a big Robert Kirkman fan as well. Battle Pope, The Walking Dead. Yeah he’s great too. I’d love to draw something he wrote. And Warren Ellis. I would also say Alan Moore, but he frightens me.

CA: Who is your favorite character from comics? Why?
JH: Definitely going with Batman on this one and the reason is just about any reason anyone else loves Batman. He’s AWESOME. And he’s so human at the same time that you can’t help but love him. Plus Alex Ross once painted Batman in space with no helmet on. Batman can breathe in space. Can’t get much more awesome than that. I’ve also always been a huge fan of The Crow.

CA: What’s your favorite comic book right now?
JH: Fables. Hands down, favorite comic. I love it. It’s so brilliant, but simple in its concept. Old storybook fables living in real world Manhattan and trying to coexist with humans while at the same time trying to get back to their homelands. Anyone who hasn’t read it should check it out. Anything by Vertigo is a sure thing really. Transmetropolitan was an amazing book as well, and was also published by Vertigo. I also keep up with Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 8. I’ve been a huge Buffy fan for a very very long time, so I pretty much eat up anything Buffy, Angel, or Joss Whedon related in general.

CA: Favorite comic movie?
JH: A tie between The Dark Knight, and The Crow, followed closely by Sin City.

CA: Comic book movie that needs to be made, but hasn’t yet?
JH: You’re going to think I’m a broken record talking about the same few things over and over again, but I really think Fables needs to be made into a series of movies. I’d love to direct it too, but that’s just a pipe dream I think. Same with Transmetropolitan. That needs the movie treatment as well.

CA: Cast yourself in a future Batman movie as anyone but Bruce Wayne. Where would you fit in?
JH: The guy cowering in the corner that Batman saves.

CA: Best all-time hero supporter, as in Foggy Nelson, Mary Jane Watson, etc?
JH: Probably Alfred. I don’t think Batman could do what he does without him. Other heroes could probably get away with what they do on their own, but Batman needs Alfred since he treats all his wounds.

CA: Who’s the tougher Enterprise skipper, Captain Kirk or Captain Picard? Why?
JH: Well I’m no Stark Trek fan, but I did like the new movie that came out, so I’d probably go with Kirk since I do know that he got into more fistfights than Picard. But Picard is cool too, because he’s Patrick Stewart.

CA: Who’d win in a battle to the death between John & Nathan vs. Alfred (Bruce Wayne’s butler) & Jarvis (Avengers butler)?
JH: Alfred and Jarvis. John and Nathan are wimps most of the time. Although I think they would at least take out Jarvis, Alfred would come back and take both John and Nathan.

CA: What’s the one book you’d want to have if stranded on a deserted island?
JH: How to Survive on a Deserted Island.

CA: Do you have any tips for aspiring web comic creators in our audience?
JH: If you have an idea, and are serious about it, flesh it out first. Get all your characters down, their personalities, looks, everything, and have a clear cut idea. When I first started out I didn’t know what I was doing, I just wanted to do SOMETHING which is why some of the first Mint Condition strips are still hard for me to look at, ha ha. But if you have something planned out, it makes everything much more coherent. Also, learn HTML and CSS. I was lucky to have taken a couple of classes on it in high school before I even started the actual web comic so I already had something of an upper hand in that department, but I’ve learned so much more since then. If you learn HTML and how to coherently design a website it will only help you in the long run.

CA: Do you have any advice for artists in our audience who might be looking at their web comic as a business?
JH: In addition to what I said before, what you want to do is get your name out there. You saw how many sites my work is on. Get your stuff out there as much as possible and work on getting a little money together for some project wonderful or google adsense ads so you can get your stuff out there even more. Having a Twitter account doesn’t hurt either.

Thanks so much for your time John, its been great to have you. Keep up the good work on all of your projects.

Please, visit Mint Condition and see what all the fuss is about!

Resources

Mint ConditionContact JohnTwitterDeviant ArtCustom Action FiguresThe Making of Mint Condition

Eli Anthony
eli@comicattack.net

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8 Comments


  1. Princess Powerful

    ROFL! Wow this comic looks hilarious! XD



  2. He seems to have been influenced by a couple other web comic artists. Nothing wrong with that. It’s hard to have an absolutely distinctive and original style these days. Often it’s unconsciously done. Could be wrong, of course, but I see some elements in his art that I’ve seen elsewhere.

    I would like to say, that the black and white work and shading is incredibly sharp.



  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nancy Overbury and Comic Attack, Comic Attack. Comic Attack said: ComicAttack.net's Web Comic of the Month: MINT CONDITION!! https://comicattack.net/2010/06/wcotmmintcondition/ #comics #webcomics #awesome […]



  4. […] like I said Mint Condition has been featured in an article over on Comic Attack. Webcomic of the Month is a monthly article that’s […]



  5. Thanks again for this opportunity. Just to comment, I was definitely influenced by the art style in Machall, the Webcomic that initially inspired me to do Mint Condition. However, I like to think the art has blossomed into something of my own, however pretentious that may sound.



  6. John, what would be your recommended “Crow” reading list? Can’t say I’m very familiar with the character.

    Nice work too!



  7. @Andy, just find the Crow graphic novel. It’s just called “The Crow” and is the original story created by James O’Barr.

    It was a short series always intended to end, but of course with any cult following, more stories followed from several different people.

    The Crow: Flesh and Blood is a good story, but nothing beats the original.



  8. […] of all, Mint Condition was featured over on Comic Attack (for those who forgot) and now it appears as if Mint Condition has been features […]



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