Comic books are a big part of the entertainment landscape. Marvel Comics has produced blockbuster after blockbuster using their characters – and earlier this year comic nerds lit up the Internet protesting the casting of Ben Affleck as DC’s Batman. Nerd Herd Productions, a small entertainment company in Lancaster, PA, is shining the spotlight not only on comic book heroes, but the geeks who love them. Their inaugural project “Bagged and Boarded” is a story of young nerds in love…with comics.
The show will focus on a young group of friends and their obsession with comics and superheroes. Not loser heroes like that guy with the webs and that guy with the hammer, real superheroes like Captain Industrial, The Plum Tiger, and the Black Hole Force.
Gully Rogers and his friends collect comics in the sleepy little town of Spockton, PA. They buy their comics from their friendly, local (and unnamed) comic book shop. Gully’s ex-girlfriend Gwen sets events into motion by selling Gully and his friends comic collection to Comic Jerks, a rival store owned by Gully’s bitter enemy. To make matters worse, Stanley, the owner of Comic Jerks, has broken up the collection and sold them at auction. There’s only one thing for a self-respecting nerd to do, so Gully and his friends set out to get their books back!
Though the setup is comical and the overall tone is comedic the characters are based on real people. Matthew Echevarria, the writer/director of “”Bagged and Boarded,” wanted the characters to be as realistic as possible. “I designed them that way. I wanted them to be relatable to the viewer.”
He describes Gully as “your typical middle-aged comic book nerd, often obvious to the things he has in front of his face.” None of Ecchevarria’s characters are cardboard cutouts. That includes the female characters.
One of the other nerds we meet is Amie. According to Echevarria, she is as knowledgeable and passionate about comics as Gully is. She stands in contrast to Gwen, who is described as a princess. Gwen doesn’t know or really care about comics; she wears a comic t shirt because that’s currently what’s “cool.” She is described as venomous and full of drama. The perfect “fake nerd girl” internet meme.
Of course the comics themselves are part of the story, and the comic books that Gully, Amie, and the others collect are as unique and memorable as they are. Gully is an avid fan of Captain Industrial, and Amie always buys anything The Plum Tiger appears in. According to Echevarria, “Plum Tiger is a WWII nurse who has a magical purple tiger who aids her behind enemy lines to get to wounded soldiers. I just love her story and her look!” Make a Plum Tiger comic happen! Take my money!
About the Comic Book Contributors
To make the comics happen, Echevarria reached out to some very artistic friends: Pierce Roth, Brian Bender, and Christian Gebhart. They helped create characters as well. Bender created Captain Cannonballs, whom he described as “an alcoholic criminal who goes from port to port in the Caribbean getting shot, stabbed, imprisoned …and other kinds of fun.” Gebhart’s contribution was the Black Hole Force, created for a superhero RPG in 1987, and Captain Industrial. Both had been friends with Echevarria for years and believe strongly in the project.
Bender and Echevarria met while LARPing with Alliance LARP, as well as Legends of the Mark, where Gebhart is one of the writers. Gehart also plays the heroic Sir Barrington in Realm of LARP.
Pierce Roth has been involved with the project for about two years now. He’s done most of the cover art that we see in the show. He credits one of the characters “Hell Demon” as inspired by the work of Mike Mignola. Plum Tiger was created with more of a Golden Age look. Great care was taken in creation of the covers, and according to Echevarria the comics are “as important as the other characters.”
“Bagged and Boarded” is currently in the fundraising stage. After the failure of an early Kickstarter they raised funds privately, including an exhibition at The Alternative Gallery in Allentown, PA. The preview was filmed at The Comic Shop in Lancaster PA and they are currently raising funds via Indiegogo.
They hope to raise the funds to purchase equipment to continue filming and release “Bagged and Boarded” as an Internet series. Hopeful future projects include actual books based on the comics in the show.
Good luck, guys! Plum Tiger needs to happen!