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An animated Axe Cop'

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An interview with Ethan Nicolle, creator of 'Axe Cop'

'Axe Cop' is coming to TV.

For those who don't know, 'Axe Cop' is a webcomic created by two brothers, Ethan and Malachai Nicolle. It stars Axe Cop, who is, you know, a cop. With an axe. Ethan does the artwork while Malachai handles much of the story work. It all sounds pretty typical, except for one thing:

When they started, Malachai was 5.

This wonderful generation-gap-spanning partnership (Ethan was 29 when the comic started) resulted in one of the most entertainingly anarchic webcomic experiences you could ever hope to have. And starting July 27, 'Axe Cop' will be coming to FOX as part of their new Animation Domination Hi-Def (ADHD) programming block to air Saturday nights. A preview of the first episode of 'Axe Cop' will air at 9:30 p.m. on July 21.

Ethan Nicolle was kind enough to share a few thoughts about 'Axe Cop' with The Maine Edge.

The Maine Edge - What inspired you to start doing the Axe Cop webcomic? Did you expect anything like the reception that it received?

Ethan Nicolle - I had wanted to get into web comics, but I wanted to do a "test" web comic to figure out the best way to lay out the site and build an audience, so I used this comic I had done a few pages of with my little brother called 'Axe Cop.' I assumed mostly friends and family would be interested in reading it at the time, I didn't think of it as something that had any future outside of a cute side project.

TME - Describe some of the circumstances that led up to you getting the deal for the TV adaptation.

EN - From the time 'Axe Cop' went viral there has been interest and offers in taking 'Axe Cop' to TV or film.  There was just always something keeping us from going through with each deal. Either they wanted all the rights to my character, or they didn't seem qualified to make the adaptation. We went with the FOX Animation Domination Hi-Def deal because it would reach a big audience and I would not lose the rights to the comics. Also, Nick Wiedenfeld of ADHD had been interested in 'Axe Cop' since he had been at Adult Swim. It just seemed to be the perfect moment for Axe Cop to become animated. Nick Offerman, Ken Marino and Peter Serafinowicz were all interested in being involved before the TV deal happened as well.  

TME - How much creative control have you had with regards to the show? And is your brother still as heavily involved in the process as he was at the beginning?

EN - I don't think control is the right word. I have had input, more so on the first set of episodes. At times I have been surprised at just how much of my input has been used and taken into account on the show, because I assumed I would not have a lot of say. I tried to prepare myself for the worst. There have been other times where I am surprised at how little input I have, but less often. It seems to all even out.  

I thought I would be more prepared than most to let my baby become a TV show, but there are definitely moments where it is hard to see my creation being drawn and written by someone else. Malachai has had a good amount of input on the show as well, especially on the episodes I have been more involved with.

TME - Did you ever think that something as wonderfully weird as 'Axe Cop' would wind up on a major broadcast network?

EN - I honestly didn't even think it was in the cards in the beginning. It wasn't until I saw how much it resonated with people that I realized there was something bigger there. I still had my doubts it would ever really happen. I think FOX is owed a great deal of credit for giving something so different and out of the box such a fighting chance. It's a ballsy move for such a big network and regardless of how it does, or if you prefer the comics, all true fans of 'Axe Cop' should be grateful that they went out on a limb and did the thing people constantly accuse them (and all the big networks) of not doing, and that is branching out and doing something more original and not so formulaic and safe.  

TME - Are you pleased with the way the show has turned out? Does it stay true to the anarchic spirit of the source material?

EN - The episodes I have been heavily involved in (which is most of them) I can confidently say yes. Especially the ones I have seen completed. It definitely has its own flavor and style. It's TV, so the voices and movement add a whole new dynamic to the comedy that is impossible in the comic. I think the comic timing in the two mediums plays differently and they really nailed it.  

The voice talent is just awesome; we have a great combination of hilarious, talented comedians and some of the best dramatic actors on TV today. It's just awesome to hear guys like Jonathan Banks and Michael Madsen putting their decades of talent into performing characters like Book Cop and Baby Man.  

Also, the art and animation is amazing. The team at ADHD is really doing something that hasn't been done in American animation for decades. They are animating an entire show in-house, and it's not recycled graphics like in shows like 'South Park' and Adult Swim style shows. It is detailed, action packed and ambitious stuff.

TME - How close is Nick Offerman's voice to the one you heard in your head while writing the comic?

EN - I have to admit, because Dave DeAndrea became the voice of Axe Cop so early on in the motion comics, it was a hard transition for me at first because I always heard Dave when I see Axe Cop's face. Dave is a brilliant voice actor and literally one of the best human beings I know. It was hard, knowing that going into the TV series, Offerman was for sure going to be Axe Cop and Dave was definitely not.  

But if anyone was the perfect Axe Cop, Offerman is definitely that, and he brings a personality to Axe Cop that has really grown on me a lot. He has a little more range, and while Dave gives Axe Cop the voice of the character as he is in the comics, the TV Axe Cop almost has his own personality and Offerman nails it.   

I think you can be a big fan of both, and I am. Nick Offerman loves 'Axe Cop' as well, and he too is a very good dude. He was just the perfect pick for Axe Cop's voice and I truly hope we find a character Dave can play in the show down the road, because he definitely deserves it with the amount of time he put into not only voicing the character in the motion comics (which went viral all on their own), but helping me find the other voice talent in this video.  

TME - Any other projects in the pipeline about which you'd like to spread the word?

EN - Well, I have another web comic that is drawn and written by me called 'Bearmageddon,' and I post a new page of that every week. However, both of my websites (axecop.com and bearmageddon.com) are down right now due to a ddos attack and a host of other issues. We are actually redesigning the 'Axe Cop' site and hopefully will have it back up in time for Comic Con. Hopefully 'Bearmageddon' will be back around that time too. There are new pages of 'Axe Cop' posted every Tuesday and Thursday. Volume 4 of 'Axe Cop' just came out a week ago and Vol. 5 is almost done. I have plenty to do!  

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