Now in its second season, SUPER KNOCKED UP has become one of the web’s hottest original series, and it’s now available in comic book form! The hilarious, action packed comedy revolves around the awkward union between the world’s greatest superhero Captain Amazing (Mark Pezzula) and the world’s most feared super villain, Darkstar (Jourdan Gibson) as a result of a fateful night in the sack which leads to Darkstar becoming pregnant with the child of her own worst enemy. That dynamic, combined with great special effects and storytelling, has garnered SUPER KNOCKED UP numerous awards from various web series festivals, and especially its incredible fan following.
Given its tremendous appeal with fans of the superhero genre who grew up not only watching their favorite characters in movies and TV shows but also reading them in comic book form, it’s only natural that SUPER KNOCKED UP would perfectly translate to that realm. Now, thanks to the hard work of show creator Jeff Burns and a talented team of animators, the exploits and battles of Captain Amazing and Darkstar have come to life on the page in a new SUPER KNOCKED UP comic book.
The first issue debuted in April of 2012, and is available as a free digital download and as a hard copy for $4.50 on the show’s official web site. The hard copy version is also available through indie comic distributor IndyPlanet. Of course, if you happen to see Burns at one of the many comic-cons he attends, you’ll get 50 cents off the cover price.
Burns initially created SUPER KNOCKED UP as a feature length screenplay while taking a 6 month screenwriting course offered by the popular educational site ScreenwritingU.com. While it would later evolve into a web series, the roots for what would become the comic book adventures of Captain Amazing and Darkstar would soon be planted during that course. A life long fan of comics and superheroes like Batman and Superman, Burns immediately jumped at the chance to create a comic book of his own while also seeing its potential as a cross-promotional tool that would help him get the word out about his project.
“After I wrote the screenplay, I thought, well it’s a superhero based story so it would be perfect to do that as a comic book as well. I’ve always loved comic books, I’ve read them since I was a kid, so it was pretty cool to be thinking about doing one of my own. Just after that, I also got the idea to do it as a web series. So I was working on the web series and the comic book at the same time,” he recalls.
The SKU comic book project began in the fall of 2011, and as Burns soon found out the task of extending the SUPER KNOCKED UP brand beyond its current web series form had its share of similarities (writing-wise) and challenges. “Writing it wasn’t too bad, since I had the feature length script already written and I was really adapting that to comic book panel format,” Burns says.
“Comic book format is actually quite similar to script format in terms of how you lay it out. Since I’d never written a comic book before, I actually got a special director’s cut edition of one of Brian Michael Bendis’ comics SIEGE (the 2010 Marvel superhero comic) and they had the script of that. I actually used that as my template of how you would format a comic book.”
Then came the challenge of finding talented artists to bring Burns’ written scripts into animated form. “The artwork took much longer. First I actually had to find artists and letterers because I didn’t really know a lot myself.” As it turned out, though, that part of the process would soon be easier than expected thanks to a site called DigitalWebbing.com.
The site instantly connects writers with some of the world’s most talented visual artists, and as Burns would soon discover, the response he got upon posting his call for artists to help him on the project was overwhelming. “If a writer’s doing a book, they’ll make a post about their project and that they’re looking for an artist. I got over a hundred submissions from artists from all over the world. I found my artist who did the pencils and inks and I found my colorist and my letterer all through that site.”
Viewers already familiar with the adventures of Captain Amazing and Darkstar will notice some key differences between the SKU web series and its comic book counterpart. As Burns points out, a lot of those differences come from his original feature length script. “You will get more in the comic book than what you see in the series.”
Adds Burns: “Some of the first episode of season 1 is in the comic book, but there’s a bunch of stuff in the comic that takes place before the events you see in the very first episode of SUPER KNOCKED UP. So you’re going to get a lot of stuff that happened beforehand that led up to them in bed together (the hero Captain Amazing and the villain Darkstar). If you read the comic, you’re actually getting the full story as I originally wrote it.”
However, given the fact that Burns and his production team were working on a very limited budget when they shot season 1 of SKU, some changes had to be made when it came to visual effects. “When I wrote the feature, I wrote just what I thought would make the best story no matter what the budget was. When we went to shoot season 1, and we were on virtually no money, there was a bunch of stuff in the beginning of the script that I just felt was too expensive. We just didn’t have the budget for it (it’s a lot of action and special effects). All the original stuff is in the comic, because it’s obviously no problem to draw all that stuff. So it’s kind of cool to see it as it originally was.”
“Since I came up with the comic book slightly before the web series, the characters in the comic book are actually not based on the looks of the actors (Mark Pezzula as Capt. Amazing, and Jourdan Gibson as Darkstar). They’re just based on how I originally envisioned them in comic book form (the typical, tight spandex style),” Burns says.
“The characters are going to look different, and also the costumes are very different. For season 1, we were kind of limited in what we could do costume wise, but in the comic book they had the superhero and villain costumes as I originally envisioned them.” Nevertheless, he says, the costumes viewers see in season 2 are much more similar to those in the SKU comic book – but are comprised of latex and leather.
In addition to revealing the backstories of both Captain Amazing and Darkstar as they find themselves unwittingly connected through a life changing (and possibly earth shattering) one night stand, viewers and readers can also see more of the world that they are part of. That world also includes other superheroes and villains who are instantly introduced in the first issue, as opposed to their later appearances in the SKU web series. As Burns explains, presenting SKU as a comic book gave him and his animation team the chance to illustrate that world without having to work under the constraints of a limited film production budget.
“We can envision, for example, the Guardians of Justice (which) is the superhero team in SUPER KNOCKED UP that Captain Amazing is part of. We show a little bit of their headquarters in the web series, but in the comic book we can really go all out and show what it looks like in all these super-villain artifacts they have and big tours that they’re giving. We can show all that easily. That’s much more difficult to show in a web series with a very low budget. For example, there’s a super villain prison that you never see in the web series that you see early on in the comic book. You really get more of a sense of the world of SUPER KNOCKED UP and where the characters are located in it.”
The SUPER KNOCKED UP comic book has not only been a favorite with the show’s cast and crew, but it’s also been a hit with fans of comics wherever Burns takes SKU to the many Comic Con events throughout the country.
“People see SUPER KNOCKED UP, and they’re like ‘Ooh, what’s that? That sounds funny,’ or someone will ask about it. I give them the log line about it and they’ll think it sounds cool. They haven’t heard about it before but they’ll just pick the comic up because they think it sounds cool and they’ll give it a shot. It’s nice sometimes that those people will come back the next day at the Con and they’ll say it’s really cool,” Burns says.
In some cases, SKU has won new viewers as a result of the comic book itself. “Ideally, after they read the comic, they go check out the web series. Which is one reason for the comic, to help promote the web series. So it’s been nice to see people doing that,” he adds.
Although no further issues of the comic book are planned for the near future (primarily due to the prohibitive costs of producing it), Burns says that just bringing the show’s loyal fan base (and comic book/superhero fans who aren’t familiar with it) the adventures of Captain Amazing and Darkstar to life in animated form has been extremely rewarding.
Even though his main priority is the web series version of SUPER KNOCKED UP, he hasn’t ruled out bringing them back within the comic book realm. “I would absolutely love to (continue the comic book series). I had a blast making this. It was kind of a dream come true for me to write one myself after loving and reading comics for so long, and it was great working with Donny, Kefas, and MaGnUs (artist Donny Gandakusuma, colorist Kefas Armando, and letterer MaGnUs).
No matter if you have or haven’t yet seen SUPER KNOCKED UP, the comic book is the perfect introduction to Captain Amazing, Darkstar and the unbelievable story of two of the world’s most powerful forces (one good, one evil) who find themselves in an incredibly awkward situation – having to raise their own child after an extremely active night of passion.
While Burns hopes to gain more viewers of the web series through the SKU comic, he feels that both the comic book and web series incarnations of SKU will appeal to everyone – even if they’re not into superheroes or comic books.
“I’ve always said, particularly about the web series but I think about both (the web series and comic book): you don’t need to be a superhero fan to enjoy SUPER KNOCKED UP. It’s not really a story about superheroes. It’s a story about these two people who can’t stand each other who are forced into this really awkward situation where they have to raise a kid and they’re trying to make it work. They just happen to have superpowers and be a villain and a hero.”
For more info on the comic book, and to download a copy, please visit SUPER KNOCKED UP’s official web site at:
To purchase a copy of the SUPER KNOCKED UP comic book for $4.95, visit IndyPlanet at:
The first episode of SUPER KNOCKED UP can be viewed here:
The 70th episode of SKU’s weekly video podcast SUPER GEEKED UP (airing Wednesdays at 11 Eastern/8 Pacific), can be viewed here: