Parents and teachers know two things about young kids: they come up with the best story ideas, and their ideas are so random and disjointed that they can’t actually hold together to form a solid plot.
Then came Axe Cop.
Comic artist Ethan Nicolle noticed that talking to his much-younger 5-year-old brother, Malachai Nicolle, was like facing the abyss, only that the abyss was made of awesome, and at the center of that awesome was Axe Cop.
Axe Cop is a cop who, during a fire, picked up a fireman’s axe and found his destiny. An axe was clearly a much better weapon than a gun, so he began to fight the world’s bad guys with his axe and his trademark phrase, “I’ll chop your head off!”
We learn the history of Axe Cop (was raised by parents who ate only candy canes), get introduced to his partner, Flute Cop (who’s also his brother, but forgotten because they bonked heads as children), and their very odd cast of heroes and villains from Sockarang to Uni-Baby.
The project is updated frequently with both episodes and “Ask Axe Cop” where he answers reader email. (My favorite is the question of whether he’d ever have kids, so Axe Cop commands his best friend, Sockarang, to become a lady so they can get married.)
Malachai’s imagination is no doubt unlimited, but I think the true brilliance here is Ethan’s gentle guidance and translation. On the site you can view a video of Ethan interviewing his brother to find the plot for the next Axe Cop, and his prodding consists of “and then what happened?” or “how did they do that?” and “then what did [character] do?” The comic wouldn’t hold together without Ethan’s fantastic art, making Axe Cop fearsome and totally serious about his job to fight bad guys until there are no more, while making the story as hysterical as possible. Ethan’s art makes the very odd plot make an absurd sort of sense. It reminds me of how Ben Folds guided William Shatner’s performance ability into an amazing album (Has Been.)
If I had to point at one thing I don’t like about Axe Cop, it’s the very technical issue of the site’s home page frames. It’s a pain to read a large comic in a little window, but if you go to the beginning to view the comic, the frames go away.
But as for the art and writing? Please, Ethan and Malachai, don’t change a thing.
Mur Lafferty is an author and podcaster. She is the host and producer of the Tor.com Story Podcast and I Should Be Writing and the author of Playing For Keeps, among other things. You can find all of her projects at Murverse.com.