Clown Shoes Beer approaches comics in a whole new way. Their newest line of barrel-aged beers that tie into a new comic Kung fu ballet. The comic follows Master Clown Shoes as he challenges the leader of the Kung Fu school for motherless children. He wanted to win but did not want to mutilate him, so he retires to solitude. Leave it all behind and find a remote brewery in the mountains where you meditate to find a path to redemption.
CBR spoke with Gregg Berman, founder and CEO of Clown Shoes, who also writes the comic. Gregg provided us with exclusive information on the creation of the comic, how it can be obtained, and what it was like to collaborate with artist and label designer Michael Axt, who also illustrates the series.
CBR: Where did the idea of creating a comic through beer come from?
Gregg Berman: We’ve done it before, in a smaller way. Personally, I’m a fan of comics, to a degree. When I was younger, I really liked it, and then a friend of mine owns a comic book store, so I re-read some trades in my adult years. It is based on something that I enjoy. We have a full-time illustrator, Michael Axt, who works with the Clown Shoes team and has been doing it for about eight years so we’ve done some small-scale work. [comics] that were just in the cans before.
It seemed like it made sense. We really wanted to draw attention to our barrel aged beers, which are an important part of what we do. [We thought we’d] do some integration with that end of the spectrum of creativity and have fun with it, maybe get some commitment.
What were some of your main influences, in terms of comics?
Berman: I don’t know if I looked that much towards specific writers. My favorite writer, as an adult, is Kurt Busiek. I think it’s wonderful. I read a lot, from thrillers to Greek tragedies. I can be all over the map, so I would say that my influences come from a very disparate group of writers and media.
What inspired the series Kung fu ballet?
Berman: Many of my inspirations are just little epiphany moments. I play with words, thoughts and ideas in my mind and think of things that could work with the brand. We have also made some kung fu beers in the past. We had one called the Eagle Claw Fist, in particular, and there is a variation of that called the Eagle Crawfish. Kung-fu is something that I also enjoy, and I’m actually trying to use some of the really silly kung-fu movies that I saw when I was younger, as part of my influence to put all of this together. And ballet: when you think of silly clown shoes, everything is absurd and funny at the same time. It resonated when I put in that combination of words, and then all of this started to flow from it.
Where does the name Clown Shoes come from?
Berman: Most people think it comes from the movie. Employees, what it does. There was a boy who worked for me a long time ago, and it was his nickname. He was really interested in beer. I wanted to name a beer after it, but I didn’t have a beer company or anything, so I tried to win a contest at Beer Advocate, where if they liked your name and you won, you had to make a beer with Dogfish Head. . I did not win.
I was also looking to distribute through other people, and they all said no, so I got stubborn and decided there was going to be a Clown Shoes beer on this Earth. I didn’t know if it would be one and done, or if it could change my life. I wouldn’t have waited, 11 years after it all started, we would still be doing it. It has been quite amazing.
When you were writing and creating this story, did the beer itself influence?
Berman: Yes! I am in the process of writing and creating the story. I have the outline, but we’re going to do it as we go along. Beer are the six pillars of history. Every two months, a beer will be released and the names of the beers are the arc of the story. They will be the titles of the chapters.
Would it be a different kind of story if it was a different variety of beer?
Berman: Probably not. These are the beers we choose, but history existed before beers. We connected the types of beer after the names and history were generated.
Was it easier to work with your in-house label designer, Michael Axt, to tell a story like this?
Berman: I’ve never done this at all, ever, so I would have nothing to compare it to, but so far, it has been very easy to work with. We have been translating a vision for almost eight years and he has to turn it into a label. Sometimes it takes a bit of creative license, which is good, but we communicate very well and are able to create things that we are both comfortable with.
How will consumers be able to read the comic itself?
Berman: There is a QR code, which you can scan and go to the website to read Chapter 1. We got very supportive of labels earlier in the year so we couldn’t prioritize the comic, but we are catching up and should be able to move forward on the comic so there is a really smooth launch of the beer and the comic at the same time.
In which regions will the beer be available?
Berman: All over the country. We have about 30 wholesalers, not in every state, obviously, but … from California to Florida, through Texas and New England, far away. We have a regional beer finder and people can track us through our social media or email. We can often tell people where to buy the product.
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