Interview With The Bean Men’s Sean Tenhoff ~OR~ NSFW Content Therein

Happy Holidays, and Feliz Navi-blah to you all! The Midnight Cartooner has returned after a festive Christmas time with the fam (new wife happily in tow) with an interview of the best kind. After all, who needs a face-to-face encounter when you have the infinitely more personal e-mail format to delve into the minds of your favorite creators?

The punctualization has been changed, but the content remains intact! So sit back, have a glass of ‘nog, curl up by the fire, unplug the laptop, and read on as I interview Sean Tenhoff, creator of Webcomic Idol finalist and controversially ousted webcomic, The Bean Men!

So Sean, just like I ask all my other guests, what was your first webcomic and why did it turn you on to the medium?

Um….see, here’s the thing with me and the medium. Officially, I s’pose you could say The Bean Men is my first webcomic, being that it was created specifically for online distribution, and I wasn’t gonna print minis of it, which was how I was distributing my comics. But see, I’m involved with a group called The Cartoonist Conspiracy; we’re cartoonists that get together and make ‘jam comics’ once a month, where one guy draws a panel and then he throws it to the next guy and he draws a panel and so on. We’ve been putting those jams online for years and on seantenhoff.com I’ve got pages from the minis I made, before Bean Men.

So I guess technically I’ve been involved with a form of webcomics for the last three years or so. As far as what turned me on to pursuing an ‘official’ webcomic of my own… well, about a year ago, there was a small buzz growing at our conspiracy meetings regarding webcomics, most of it started by the conspiracy founder, Steve Stwalley.

Well, at the Jan. meeting last year, Steve came in and said he had started his own webcomic called ‘Soapy The Chicken‘, and challenged himself to doing 5 pages a week. I was incredibly impressed. This was coming off a period where I was producing maybe a page a month for my mini comics and I was looking for a project where I could just cut loose, and not worry about the small details, just produce work on a daily basis.

So, in terms of your own work, do you prefer Bean Men or THE Bean Men?

I would say their official title is The Bean Men… but, for conversational purposes, Bean Men is fine. If folks wanna call ‘em The Beanmen, that’s fine too. Either way, here’s the deal with the name; the first time I drew The Beans was for the 24 hour comic I did last year, titled ‘Fuck‘. If you’re not familiar with 24 hr. Comic Book Day, the idea is to create a 24 page comic in a 24 hour period. It’s not the easiest thing to do, so in order to complete that much work, I drew out the characters with a simple bean shape and a ball for a head.

Now, at the time I had no idea what they were to be called. I was just calling them ‘Bean Men‘ because of the way I was drawing them and because the alternative was to call them ‘The Fuck Guys‘.

How long has The Bean Men been running?

Feb. 3rd 2006 was the first day, so, almost 11 months now. I always think it’s kinda funny when I read people say things like, “I’ve been reading The Bean Men for years”, and they do, when the strip isn’t even one year old yet. Maybe it’s because of the amount of pages or just the presence the beans have, who knows?

Have you ever done or want to do a more sequentially-based, storyline-driven strip?

I have done storyline-driven comics, but they never get much longer then 24 pages or so. The problem for me is, I can start to lose interest if I know what’s gonna happen on the next page. I have to keep it fresh for me, or I’ll just not do it.

Now that’s not sayin’ I’m never gonna do a long form story, but it prolly won’t be with The Bean Men. at least for now… now it’s just more fun and rewarding for me to just have each Bean Men page be it’s own thing. At this point I don’t view them in that sorta literal fashion. They exist on a plane outside of what’s normal, where anything can happen.

So is there any end in sight for The Bean Men?

There will come a time when I’m working on other projects and I may not produce new Bean Men stuff for years and years, but, I believe I’ll always do this and that with them til’ the day I die.

Though I’ve never incurred the same sickness/injury myself, a throat/jaw infection strong enough to keep you from opening your mouth sounds fairly serious (Sean suffered this same malady recently). Why make the extra effort and let the fans/readers know of the coming delays? Worried about what readers think of you? Credibility? Character? Worried about loyal readers disappearing? Or, like me, do you just feel like it’s the right thing to do?

These seem like strange questions to me… of course it’s all of those things. Why wouldn’t I tell people?

The individual motivations behind updating an online work when monetary gain is taken out of the equation fascinates me, sorry for the odd tangent.

Congratulations are also in order for being one of ten finalists for the first-ever Webcomic Idol contest. Has the subsequent controversy over your early ejection from the competition garnered any rise in your traffic?

Thanks! Well, my hits, um… that’s hard to determine; being in the competition definitely raised my hits. But my ejection came about the same time I started getting sick and since I’m not updating every day, they’ve slipped some from where they were.

The judges and fellow contestants in Idol have said nothing but great things about your character and sportsmanship after bowing out gracefully in the face of illegal voting practices. Now that it’s all in the past, do you feel regret at ALL from leaving without raising a (public) stink?

No, not at all…who wants to be known as a cheater? Plus, I believe the contestants were a bit misled. We were told we were signing up for a competition patterned after American Idol, where folks could vote for their favorite to win, not a Survivor situation where readers pick the one to get slaughtered.

So in one way, I was glad to be done with it. Don’t get me wrong, I think the guys at Bomb Shelter (Comics) had only good intentions in mind with the competition; they just wanted to do a publicity event for themselves and everyone. And I think it did well for us to a certain extent. I also think I got out at a good time, when interest in the competition was still pretty good; a 10-week long competition with a 2-week intermission in the middle seems a bit long to me. Perhaps I’m just crazy.

Finally, have you got any upcoming stories, strips, ideas, new comics, or other future projects you’d like to promote?

I have some exiting new projects I’ll be announcing coming up next year, but I’m afraid you’ll have to stay tuned to The Bean Men for more info.

You heard the man, folks! Thanks to Sean for taking the time to answer my questions and be sure to keep up with The Bean Men for more info on his next big project!

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2 thoughts on “Interview With The Bean Men’s Sean Tenhoff ~OR~ NSFW Content Therein

  1. Pingback: Digital Strips: The Webcomics Podcast

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