Posted 12d ago
(Image: Tim Southwell)
By Leila Marshall
Sci-fi fan and co-founder of Loaded magazine Tim Southwell had a lightbulb moment while watching Gravity with his pugs during lockdown. Ron and Lola had inspired his hit new comic, entitled Pugs In Space.
Alongside graphic designer Jason Measures, Tim turned his pugs into cartoon characters and sent them off into space to solve the world’s sausage problem.
Tim, from Lindfield in West Sussex, said: “I had the idea for Pugs In Space during lockdown, when I was at a bit of a loose end. I was watching Gravity at 9.30 am and I noticed our two rescue dogs, Ron and Lola, were transfixed.
“Lola would often holler and dance about the place if we were watching Interstellar or 2001: A Space Odyssey. But mostly she and Ron would just watch. Pugs are funny little dogs – they have great personalities and I just thought how much fun it would be to actually turn them into cartoon characters and send them off into space.
“So I went on LinkedIn and looked for a graphic artist who might be interested. I found Jason Measures and it turned out we had the same kind of sense of humour, and he was a complete comic geek. Plus, he could draw, which I definitely can’t. So, we put some stuff together and did a Kickstarter, raised a bit of money and there it was – Pugs In Space, the comic.”
The first issue of Pugs In Space (Image: Tim Southwell)
Tim’s two pugs are the stars of the comic. He said: “There is Ron (Major Ron while he’s in space) – he’s like Captain Mainwaring from Dad’s Army. He always does everything by the book and tries to keep order at all times. Good luck with that Ron!
“Lieutenant Lola is the second main pug, she’s a bit dipsy and regularly causes chaos by doing something daft. Lily (my step mum’s rescue pug who we call Taser in the comic because she’s nuts) is a big Pugs In Space fan and wants to ditch her Space Uber job so she can join the pugs on their adventures.”
Tim and Jason had no idea the comic would be so popular, and the Kickstarter raised £13k, so they knew they were onto something. Since the launch, Pugs In Space has had plenty of celebrity endorsement. Frank Skinner has given the guys a few shout outs on his Absolute Radio show, and he and his nine-year-old son read it together and love it. Nick Frost said it was “brilliant” in a Tweet which Tim was very pleased about.
The first print of the comic sold out in just two weeks, and they have just done a second run. Tim said: “The second episode, Jurassic Bark, is about to come out and features some new characters including Pablo Escobark, a cosmic dog-food overlord who runs a planet helped by his army of trash pandas (USA slang for raccoons).
Tim's rescue pugs inspired his project (Image: Tim Southwell)
“The planet is also inhabited by animals that are extinct on earth, such as saber-toothed tigers and woolly mammoths. It’s ended up being quite educational – by accident really – but it’s great if we can produce something fun that kids can learn stuff from also.
“The next step is to get national distribution and ultimately it’s going to be a full-length feature film or a series on Netflix et cetera. We are already talking to a couple of film companies.”
Pugs In Space is aimed at children aged six to 12 but (like The Simpsons, Tim hopes) there are loads of references that adults will love and find funny. Tim said: “The first episode is called Pugs in Space: The Great Cosmic Sausage Heist. Basically, the world’s sausages have mysteriously disappeared off into space.
“The US president calls for the pugs to go into space and rescue the sausages. On their adventure, it soon becomes apparent that the sausages have been stolen by the pugs’ nemesis Fat Cat, who has hidden the sausages somewhere in the Catosphere.
“Then there’s episode two, Jurassic Bark. The third episode, which is in development currently, is called The Paw Shank Redemption and sees the pugs ending up on an asteroid prison for some reason.”
Tim with 'Lieutenant Lola' (Image: Tim Southwell)
Tim has announced a generous pledge to support Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (GOSH). They will donate 50 pence for every copy of the Pugs in Space comic sold, plus 15 per cent of all merchandise sales to the charity.
When asked about his inspiration for donating part of the proceeds to GOSH, he said: “I watched the Great Ormond Street Hospital documentary series around the time we were developing Pugs in Space and was inspired at the amazing work they do.
“We just thought that it would be good to have a charity partner and it should have something to do with kids. We couldn’t be happier to be doing our bit for GOSH, it truly is an awe-inspiring hospital. We’re hoping to be able to take the pugs in for a visit soon and hand out some pugs comics and merchandise.”
The team has also launched a competition where kids draw a space alien and the winning entry becomes a character in Pugs In Space. Tim added that they have had some brilliant entries so far.
Lola enjoying the comic (Image: Tim Southwell)
You can check out Pugs In Space here.