Almost Heroes – Interview with Ryan Belleville
Admin Rock here: Today we have a special interview with Ryan Belleville, star of the new Showcase series “Almost Heroes”.
Ryan is friend from way back. I’ve known him from the time he first stepped into the Loose Moose Theatre, a fresh faced young teenager with an annoying amount of talent. (Fun Fact: We used to tease him by calling him “Brian” for months on end. Now he has his own television show, and we’re still getting berated by strangers on the internet, begging them to click on our ads. Funny old world!)
Almost Heroes is the story of two brothers, Terry and Peter, who take over their father’s comic book store after his death. Terry (Paul Campbell) is a failed Business major who flunked out of Harvard, and has returned home to find his brother Peter (Ryan Belleville) living in the store. They face challenges from within and without, trying to negotiate life in the strip mall. Oh, and comedy god Colin Mochrie is in it too.
Ryan took the time to sit down with me and answer some questions. We tried to avoid the standard stuff, and focus on more comic book related stuff. He and his brother Jason created the show, and Jason serves at the show runner.
Admin_Rock: Whose idea was it to create a show about running a comic book store?
Ryan Belleville: This was an organic idea that came from Jason and me talking about things we grew up with, enjoyed, and haven’t seen as the setting of a comedy show yet. …. Actually it was all my idea…. Don’t ask Jason!
AR: What’s it like working with your brother?
RB: It is an unspeakable torture! When he isn’t punching babies in the face, he is poking me with long sharpened chop sticks. Actually it has been a lot of fun. Jason is my friend, and we have a sort of short hand comedy language. The chopstick thing is true.
AR: Who were your favorite heroes growing up?
RB: I always loved Jesus. What with his web slinging, and ability to stick to walls. Oh…. wait. That was Spider-Man. My favorites for realsy were Spider-Man, and Nightcrawler. I loved Spider-Man because he used humor do cope with stressful situations, and his powers were awesome. And I loved night crawler, not only because he looked cool, and had left the smell of brimstone ( a smell which I assume smells like awesomeness), but because he was a true freak. He couldn’t just put on a pair of glasses and pretend to be a banker. He really had a downside to being a mutant, and had to learn to cope with that. He was never as popular as Spider-Man, which is a shame. Although this slogan isn’t as catchy. ” With great power comes… blue skin and a tail”.
AR: What are you reading these days?
RB: Now that I have a baby I don’t read as many issues as I used to. So I turn more to trades. I’ve been reading DMZ, Walking Dead, Invincible. I love Mark Millar’s Nemisis, which I did collect the issues of. I just found it really different.
AR: Do you have a favourite writer and/or artist?
RB: I loved Charlie Adlard, and what he did with Walking Dead. I know that lots of people are over that as a series, but I just loved the style, and the darkness in those books. I’m always a fan of realism too. It sounds silly, but I don’t like when the characters look “cartoony”. For me the cool thing about comics is the “what if this was possible” feeling. What if there WAS a man who could fly, and was invincible?
As for writers it would have to go with Neil Gaiman. I loved Sandman, and he really took story telling to a new level. Such fantastical stories. I imagine that he lives on a cloud made of dragon tears, in the imagination of us all.
AR: Do you reference any of the modern happenings in the comic industry? (crossovers, market share, multiple covers, bubble bursting on speculation)?
RB: Although the show takes place in a comic shop, we really try not to make it to “inside”. We want this show to be accessible to everyone, and be inspired by the location, and not handcuffed to it.
You don’t have to be a fan of comics to get our show, much like you don’t have to be an alcoholic to enjoy Cheers.
AR: Are you concerned/ready for feedback from real comic book fans via the internet?
RB: I would hope that fans embrace the show. We took some big risks making this show, and a lot of people appreciate the attempt almost as much as they enjoy the product. It’s very hard to make comedy in this country, and even harder to make an original one that is funny. But I think we made something amazing, that people will not only enjoy, but be proud that it is Canadian. Watch the whole season, because it gets bigger, and bigger every week. By the time we get to the finale (without too many spoilers), there has already been a giant fire shooting cannon, arrows, people in wizard costumes on fire,…. what can I say. We love fire gags. Flame On! We also have a massive medieval L.A.R.P.ing battle! It’s awesome!
AR: If you were writing a comic book today, what would you make it about?
RB: So many people think they have what it takes to make a comic, and I am not one of those people. I have tons of respect for the artists and writers out there. I just want to read But if I HAD to make a comic, it would be about a group of vampire killing nuns who are the only thing standing between the end of all mankind!!! Just off the top of my head.
AR: Any plans for The Correctness appearing in a cameo for season 2?
RB: Sorry? What was that question. I think we have a bad connection, and I couldn’t here that last question… over email….. Nuff Said.
Thanks to Ryan for putting up with us, and we wish him and Jason all the best for the show!
Almost Heroes airs Thursdays at 9pm, and has a rebroadcast at other times. You know, you ARE on the internet, and could look this stuff up.