Cult-favorite anime Eyepatch Wolves has launched a new merch line, allowing fans to snag the first official shirts, posters, and other merchandise resembling Wolf, Crow, and the rest of the Angel City gang. You can check it out here.
…Wait, what? You don’t know what we’re talking about? Well, that’s because Eyepatch Wolves is a wild new idea from John Walsh, an artist and documentarian best known for his YouTube handle Super Eyepatch Wolf. Walsh, who has over 1 million subscribers on the video platform, developed a merch line (and the world around it) based on one bottom line idea: he wants to contribute some of his own art to the conversation, rather than just discuss the work of others.
The project is based on an idea Walsh had years ago, which he had put behind him before he became a beloved figure on the internet. But he says this is not it just merchandise: eagle-eyed fans will be able to see details in the merchandise that tell the story of Angel City’s world. In fact, this item is just the first wave…based on the first story arc that will happen in the background.
“When I was younger, I had this big fictional story that I was going to work on,” Walsh told ComicBook.com. “I sat down. I drew characters. We’re talking very early twenties. I sat down for an hour and just drew a character sheet and stuff. It was this completely formless thing. It was just me putting more crap into a fictional world. At one point it was a cartoon. At one point it was a game. At one point it was all of this. Eventually I got older. I got a job and quit working on it. Over the years I’ve always just thought about it like, ‘Damn, that was some of the most creative fun I’ve ever had.’ No viewers, no audience, I didn’t even put those drawings on the internet. I guess part of it was just that I wanted to recreate it. So when I made the Space Jam video, I guess I felt that spark again. I think as people, if something makes you feel that way, you’re an idiot not to pursue it, you know?”
What is Space Jam video? You can check it out below, but the short version is, Walsh made a video last year called Space Jam 2 is a lieand there is a long video that examines the disappointment of Space Jam: A New Legacy through the lens of a fake Space Jam sequel that, frankly, absolutely should have been made, because Walsh’s version is brilliant and terrifying.
“The Space Jam video, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had making a video,” Walsh said. “I was totally out of my mind and happy to make that video, and I have other projects planned that are going to be very similar Space Jam video. But one of the things with Space Jam video, it relies on the myths of Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny and all that kind of stuff. I really wanted to say, ‘What can I do from scratch? Would this work?'”
And thus back to Angel City. Well, back to Walsh. For the rest of us, it’s our first visit.
“I want people to be able to make connections in this world,” Walsh said. “Even what’s already in there, you’ll get a very subtle sense of what’s going on, if you’ll just pay attention. If you just want to see them as cool designs, you can see them as cool designs.”
He added: “The whole idea of it is that every new series of items is going to be a new arc. So this first arc, to me, is very similar to episodes one through four of Cowboy Bebop or which episodes come before Ballad of Fallen Angels, where you just hang out with the characters and get to know them. There are obviously things going on in the background, but the focus, I really wanted to be them, their life, and specifically the connection they have with each other.”
And no. The plan — at least for Walsh, and at least right now — is not to pick it and make it real. There is no master plan to transform Eyepatch Wolves into a manga or an anime or something other than what it is now. The concept is weird and meta, but that’s part of what makes it exciting for Walsh as a creator.
“I know it sounds weird, but it’s like all I’ve wanted to do is make this story work as a merch line,” Walsh said, adding that he would be open to something else down the line, but only under the right circumstances. . “I come from the animation industry. I understand how difficult animation is. I’ve read enough game development books to understand that it’s animation squared. There’s a beautiful simplicity to the way I get to do this because I get to scout my favorite artists internet. I’m going to approach them about making some really cool stuff, and I get to write everything, and I get to control everything myself. The minute it becomes something bigger, I’d give up that control. It could potentially be very cool, but as it is, I’ve loved making this so much.”
The next step is probably where it gets more complicated. There are some obvious gripes (who comes?!), and some probably less obvious, in the current lineup. But when you get into a new arc, and you have people trying to piece together a year or so of stories based on a t-shirt…well, making it coherent is a fun mental exercise.
“Right now, the challenge is to introduce the world and the characters in a way that’s meaningful,” Walsh said. “If you continue, there’s no descriptive text of anything actually happening. There are bits of dialogue, but there’s no description for what the world is, who the characters are, anything. So the problem was actually conveying that through the bits themselves . From here, the problem will be advancing that story. I have some pretty specific things I want to do, and some pretty specific ideas about how I’m going to do it. It’s definitely going to be a challenge, because I’m sure someone else has done something like this at one point, but it’s not like there are a lot of rules for these things either. This isn’t making a movie or a painting. It’s something a little different. I imagine it will be a challenge, but I’m also really excited for people who are paying attention to see where this goes, because I have some things planned.”