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December 20, 2022 | Costello

LFG Fan Profile: Zach Buehl

With the comic on hiatus until December 26th, we’re interviewing readers about how they got into Looking For Group and what they like about it. We also give them a chance to ask us questions back. Is it blatant fan service? Yes. And no one services their fans like LFG!

Today’s reader didn’t think he’d make the blog, let alone even get a response. How wrong he was!

Meet Zach

I guess I’ll throw my name in the ring for a fan interview on the LFG Blog. I’ve been a reader since 2010-ish (or maybe that was LICD, I forgot; time is meaningless now that I’m a father) and I eagerly await the full length animated LFG movie that I’ve tried to help kickstart 🙂

Anyway, I can’t fathom that an interview with me would be terribly interesting, but I’m willing to help a comic I like create content and am glad to throw in for this!

I look forward to absolutely no response from you and thank you for your time!

Zach Buehl

Our Questions For Zach

Not terribly interesting? We’ll be the judge of that! And oh how we’ll judge.

Costello: Once upon a time, there was a Zach. That Zach met a nice young comic named LFG. They got married and lived happily ever after. What was it about LFG that you fell in love with?

Zach: I very much enjoyed the absurdity of it all. It was this great fantasy narrative that has all the hallmarks of a Tolkien-esque epic with a wonderful lore…only to be completely undermined by a character that is a big Dick.

C: *record scratch* Yep, that’s Zach. I bet you’re wondering how he got into this situation. I know we are! What’s your story?

Z: I grew up on a dairy farm in rural WI and read a lot of comic books as a kid. That eventually drew me into Magic: The Gathering, video games, tabletop RPGs, and board games as an escape from the mundanity of living in the middle of nowhere. Eventually I went to college, got a degree in Philosophy (and Film as a secondary), got married, had a couple of kids, and work a good job in software!

C: How often do people add an E at the end of Buehl? What would that sound like?

Z: Not often. Mostly get the “er” at the end as people do their best Ben Stein imitation. I imagine the “E” would be silent, but the mispronunciation would still be there all the time. For the record, it rhymes with “mule”, but people try to say it as “bool”, “beel”, “boll”, or even “bwell”.

C: Now that you’ve known your child(ren) long enough to grok their personalities, if you had to rename them after LFG characters, which characters would you choose and why?

Z: My son is Cale. He’s blond haired and blue eyed, and despite his best intentions and sweetness, tends to mess things up on the regular. My daughter is Richard because she is the living embodiment of chaos and loves to torment her brother. She’s 18 months, it all makes sense to parents.

C: What are some of your favourite moments from LFG?

Z: I actually like seeing Cale succeed and pull something off because it’s great to see him get a win every now and then… but mostly because all the other characters will just put him right back in his place (while also showing they care about him). They’re usually nice reminders of the humanity and care the characters have for each other. Also, I like most any time that Hctib Elttil is around as I really enjoy that little weirdo.

C: LFG changed a lot over the years. Is there an era (however you define that) that stands out to you more?

Z: I miss the clan Bloodrage, so I guess any time with them? I just thought they were interesting and plus I always had an affinity for Taurens in Warcraft.

C: Is there a character you’d like to see return or explored further?

Z: Krunch.

C: What are some highlights of being an LFG fan? How have you engaged with the community and expressed your fandom?

Z: I like reading the blogs and seeing the whole project evolve. There aren’t a whole lot of webcomics that have survived this long and still had an engaging storyline, so I like to keep reading. And I’ve expressed my fandom by buying books and kickstarting animated shorts so I can see more of this in my life!

C: The bio you sent had a lot of self-deprecation. You OK? Anything you wanna talk about?

Z: Heh, maybe it’s the jet lag from a week long work trip, maybe it’s being a father to two kids under 4, or maybe it’s just my natural state to think I’m not terribly interesting, but I think I’m okay. Though, since you offered, I do have a weird growth I’ll send some pictures of. I don’t need your opinion or anything, just think you’d like to see it and discuss it.

Zach’s Questions For Us

Continuing to use Michael Ruic’s idea, I asked Zach to ask me questions. And he did! A lot. I maybe should have clarified to keep them LFG-related…

Do you have an end to the story plotted out or is this just going to go on indefinitely?

“Plotted,” absolutely not. Audience and personal tastes change over time, and being too rigidly committed to a predetermined outcome hurts the ability to adapt. Vague idea of how to wrap it up? Also no. But less absolutely!

LFG isn’t a story that promises an ending. If, when Sohmer handed me the keys to the comic, he did so with instructions to wrap it up in X amount of time, then I’d have plotted a strong beginning of the end point, and sketched out an end of the end point. Also, I’d write a few other options that satisfy the ending in case I need a back-up plan. But LFG is more The Mandalorian than the Sequel Trilogy. As long as things stay interesting and move forward, I’m fulfilling my purpose as the writer.

How has the creative team stayed consistently in the state of “not killing each other” after all these years?

Sohmer and Lar have an incredible dynamic. They may have different personalities and philosophies, but they ride the same creative wavelength. Even when Sohmer’s making Lar draw shopping carts, the love and mutual respect is obvious.

Sohmer still looks over my scripts before I send them to Lar, but otherwise Lar and I work similar to how he worked with Sohmer. I write scripts with blocking and detail suggestions, but Lar has the freedom to reframe the visuals based on his expert opinion.

Do you have a preference between LFG and LICD when it comes to writing?

Ah, that’s a Sohmer question. But given that he was willing to let me take over LFG but he continues to write LICD, I think the answer is clear. LICD is much more personal for him.

Do you have hobbies outside of comics?

Do I!

I collect G.I. Joes and play roleplaying games. As you can imagine, getting to write on the G.I. JOE Roleplaying Game was a dream come true. Most of my free time these days is spent working on G.I. JOE RPG projects, or other games that run on Essence20.

I also used to play a lot of board games, but between needing a break after Board Game Bento, the pandemic impacting who I could play with and how often, I got out of our game night routine.

When do you plan on actually producing a full length LFG animated movie?

Production was underway when we posted the infamous Looking For Group: The Movie 2008 graphic. Unfortunately, relations with the studio soured and we had to cancel those plans. We’ve never given up hope, but we’ve learned not to announce projects of that magnitude that far in advance.

I’ve been patiently waiting since I kickstarted your short and I’m beginning to suspect there are delays…

Unfortunately, the Kickstarter for LFG – The Animated Series Pilot from about 10 years ago only reached about a third of its funding goal. We’d love see more LFG animation, but we can’t bankrupt the studio making it.

Is a hot dog a sandwich? What about a taco? Gyro?

None of the above.

I’ve seen the sammich diagrams and read the argument that it applies other protein-in-carb stacks. I think that misses the point. If someone asks me if I want a sammich and then brings me a hot dog, taco, or gyro, that did not deliver on my expectations. It’s that less tangible part of the definition of sammiches that these other sammichish foods fail to meet.

Cat or dog person? Both? Neither?

Lar and Sohmer are both cat people. I am horribly allergic to cats. I sneeze, my eyes get dry, and I break out in hives. And cats know this! Cat owners regularly tell me their cats don’t usually like people as they nuzzle against me like I’m their best friend.

Frickin’ cats.

What are your favorite Webcomics besides your own?

I love Matthew J Wills’ Swords. His pun-game is razor sharp, I like his art style, and I want nothing but the best for Quest Sprout.

Other comics that I go out of my way to read:

Nick Seluk’s The Awkward Yeti. I don’t think it’s the original comic featuring the relationships between anthropomorphic organs, but his Heart and Brain are my favourite.

Reza Farazmand’s Poorly Drawn Lines. With simple characters and minimal action, Reza’s punchlines still manage to hit me consistently hard.

Guy Elnathan’s Chronicles of Us. I started reading after the introduction of Mr. Baby. Actually, I only learned recently that there were Chronicles of Us comics before the introduction of Mr. Baby. I thought it was the Mr. Baby comic.

Kim Winder’s The Red Dot. I like that this comic tells dirty jokes exclusively through innuendo. It feels more clever than it needs to be.

Kristian Nygård’s Optipess. A great combination of interesting visuals, excellent pacing, and thought-provoking content.

Jason Poland’s My Dad is Dracula Comics. I can’t explain why this absurd and formulaic comic makes me laugh so much, but it gets me every time.

Asher Perlman’s New Yorker cartoons. Because I’m sophisticated!

What comics did you read growing up and which ones influenced what you do?

A lot of Marvel. My first comic was Daredevil 269, which I picked up after watching Trial of the Incredible Hulk. From there I picked up a lot of Captain America, based on my mom’s suggestion that the Captain America movie she heard was coming out would increase their value, and What If, because it made big promises and usually delivered on them. Eventually I got hard into X-Men, it being the 90s and all.

Funny enough, I can’t pinpoint any one way the comics I read influenced what I do now. Even from a young age, I would deconstruct the media I consumed, breaking it down into choices the creators made. But not comics. Comics I enjoyed on their own merits.

You also have some self deprecation it would seem, is there anything you would like to talk about?

How dare you?

Thanks Zach!

If you would like to participate in a future LFG Fan Profile, send an e-mail to costello[at]laughingdragon[dot]studio with a brief introduction. If you get picked, we’ll go back and forth with a few rounds of questions, and you’ll get to ask me questions of your all. All of which I’ll turn into a blog post for the community to enjoy.