Bob Burden and the story behind the Clusterfest cover

Catching up with the man behind 'Flaming Carrot' and 'Mystery Men'

? For this week's Clusterfest cover CL reached out to comic book artist and writer [https://twitter.com/BobBurdenComics?ref_src=twsrc^google|twcamp^serp|twgr^author|Bob Burden]. Burden's the man behind the independent comic, Flaming Carrot. He also penned Mystery Men (read the books; skip the Ben Stiller film version), and a few Gumby comics. These days when he's not perusing the racks of Criminal Records, Burden's probably working on his new series Hitman for the Dead with Andrew Robinson. For Dragon Con, the Eisner Award-winner will be in the Comic and Pop Artist Alley at the Grand Hall East, on the exhibit level of the Hyatt Regency.
? Ahead of his weekend appearances, we were able to nab Burden for a quick interview. He spoke about the story and creative process behind the bugged-out cover, and illustrating the characters of the Cluster.
???? You'll be taking part in Dragon Con this year, talk about what you're doing at the Fest, and why you enjoy it.
? Well, at Dragon Con I'm down in Artist Alley signing autographs and selling books. They have panels where people talk about a myriad number of interesting things. Not just comic book people but book writers, movie directors, robot makers, movie stars ... its a cultural gathering too. It's comics and sci-fi but also so much more. Representative John Lewis will be there for his graphic novel series March, about his personal experiences in the Civil Rights Movement and Voting Act struggles.
? When you're pulling together a cast of characters like the ones included in the Clusterfest cover, where do you start?
? I don't do thumbnails or prelim studies. I just start drawing. If something doesn't work, I erase. For me doing a lot of preliminaries kind of takes the life out of a piece of art. Kind of like dissecting a frog takes the life out of the frog. Sometimes if you try too hard it just falls apart or doesn't get off the ground.
? I love that the Flaming Carrot and Gumby appear here. Was that a conscious move to include some of your past work in here as well?
? They just sort of evolved in there as things came together. They weren't the first thing's I put in but I kind of found a place for them as I went along. Gumby and Pokey had to be in it, as they are pretty recognizable and also keep the drawing from becoming too weird and cacophonous. Gumby is something everyone knows and loves. Flaming Carrot is chasing after the little kid with the balloon on his nuclear-powered super pogo, and his back is too us but people who know him will recognize him.
? Take me through of the other characters on here and how the ideas/sketches came about? How long was the process from start to finish?
? I drew it on and off over a few days. I call these "conglomeration drawings" and they are "automatic drawings." By conglomeration, I mean a Hieronymus Bosch landscape with all these different people going in different directions and doing different things. By automatic drawings, I'm talking about something that is more spontaneous and less planned. I'm sort of making it up as I'm going along. I do know where I want to be. You know, all the characters are what you would see at a comic convention, but it's more like tacking a ship than driving a motorboat, you know, more mucking about than a seriously well thought out plan.
? The characters are just sort of dreamed out of the subconscious. I want them all diverse and all to look like they are having fun. Here I'm capturing the amazing array of characters that wander the three hotels all night at the convention. Again, the whole thing is fun. That's what it's all about. Dragon Con is really a lot like Mardi Gras or Burning Man: people cutting loose and being free. I mean you couldn't walk around like that in corporate America.