One on One with the writer/creator of ‘The Auteur’ from Oni Press.
As some of you may already know, I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural MondoCon event in Austin, Texas last weekend. On Sunday I stopped by the Oni Press booth, who I believe was the only comic book publisher attending. I introduced myself to John Schork, who is the Director of Publicity at Oni Press, which is one of the publishers that we at geeksushi.com cover on a consistent basis. I have been really vocal in the work and quality of titles that Oni Press has been putting out. Comics like The Sixth Gun, The Bunker, Helheim, Letter 44, The Life After, and The Auteur, are some of the books that we have really enjoyed and covered. Along with the Oni crew, Rick Spears was also in attendance with them, and he kindly introduced himself. Rick Spears is the writer/creator of The Auteur, which is one of the most insane and funniest titles I’ve read in a while. I had the distinct opportunity to spend a few minutes with Spears, as we talked about his influences, film school, the idea for The Auteur, European horror and sex films, and why only after its first year, MondoCon is already his favorite convention.
Spears: I’m not really sure where the idea came from, I mean I’m always thinking about not so much stories but about characters, you know characters that would be interesting and sort of sustain a story as oppose to starting with a plot. I worked in the film business for a while, I went to film school and worked as a PA in New York and worked my way up through production in to post-production and eventually became an editor, so I’ve been on a lot of set and I’ve seen a lot of movies and television made, and it can be really wild and a crazy sort of thing, and I was always like you know, this is an interesting area to explore. As I’ve been doing more comics, it just sort of struck me; I just had the idea of a struggling producer because it also, it’s almost like in science-fiction when you can address a current problem in the world but by putting it in outer space or something, it’s removed enough that people will hear what you’re saying and not get all uptight about like the current political situation. Being a comic book creator and sort of struggling with that idea of being a writer and an artist and doing something creative, I kind of wanted to talk about that, but I thought if I did as a comic book, it would be to on the nose, but if I did it as a comic book about a movie guy, it would be removed enough that I could sort of say…you know hopefully some honest things (laughs) about doing comics in a way that people would be able to accept, and so far that’s seems to be totally the way it’s worked out.
PR: I reviewed the first book and described it as a cross between Ed Wood and Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas.
Spears: That’s definitely in the neighborhood, those are all totally influences.
PR: Are there plans for another book?
Spears: Yeah the trade (The Auteur) is coming out next week (October 24) and we’re hard at work another set of miniseries. So we’re going to do like five and a trade and five and a trade, each arch will base around one of his film projects.
PR: What were your influences growing up? You mentioned you went to film school, so I was curious.
Spears: I’ve always read comics and I grew up with Star Wars as everyone born in the seventies did. So yeah I love movies like Science Fiction, Action, Adventure, you know weird horror, stuff like that. For The Auteur specifically, more film inspiration in terms of writing, but I love like weird European horror sex films and stuff like Jean Rollin’s vampire stuff, Jess Franco films, and Mario Bava and like, you know sort of go down the rabbit hole. I mean they were these sort of weird films that either had the hook of being a horror film or some Euro sex film or something, and that’s how they sold them, but then they’d also, these guys (some of them) would do interesting sort of personal stuff that if you’d watch enough of their films you’d start to really to get their personality out of it, even though most people considered them really crap films (laughs) but I’m really in to them, so that’s probably where I’ve been pulling the most from for The Auteur.
PR: Where are you from? Where did you grow up?
Spears: I was born in Virginia; I grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina for a bit, but mainly in Virginia, Virginia Beach, and Richmond. I live in Richmond now; I lived in New York for about ten years but moved back to Richmond.
PR: You mentioned you always read comic books, what were some of the comics you read as a kid?
Spears: Yeah I was a Marvel guy; I mean you know….and Batman. It was all Marvel stuff…and Batman. I don’t know why, he always seem like a Marvel character to me. When the Tim Burton Batman movie came out, that was like huge. I remember seeing this shop I used to go to, they had a poster up for Akira, and I guess it was Epic that was doing an American colorized version of Akira, and just that poster just seared into my head, so then I found that and then I was like oh, there’s like other stuff out there. That led me to Japanese comics and finding people like Moebius and stuff like that, and then from there into the more obscure independent comics. Then as you get older and when I got into college, you start to find like Krome and stuff like that and you’re just like…alright shits on.
PR: Now besides your stuff obviously, what are you reading today?
Spears: It’s tough, I have a baby and so it’s like super hard for me to get to the comic book store. I have a hold box, I’m sure that my store (I shop at Velocity in Richmond) they’re probably getting annoyed, my box is like overflowing. I love the new Batman Snyder and Greg Capullo are doing, that one’s super good, and then Multiversity, I just picked that up. Grant Morrison is always an interesting guy, but that one seems to be like he’s really going all the way with it, so I’m super in to that. I picked up a ton of stuff; I was at SPX (Small Press Expo) last week. I got the Fukitor book, which is awesome. I got Jim Rugg’s Street Angel and The Wrenchies by Farel (Dalrymple), that’s like probably the most amazing comic I’ve seen in a long time, or graphic novel I guess.
Spears: Yeah first time here. I saw that Oni Press was doing this one, and I was like oh! Because I wanted to go to Fantastic Fest, and my friend Meagan Blair had moved in to town, and I was like oh, I got to go. It’s great I mean it’s the first year they’ve done this, but it’s already like my favorite convention, it’s just been fantastic.
PR: Do you do many conventions? What’s your con schedule like?
Spears: I do, I mean when I have a new book I try to do as many as I can get to, reasonably. So I just did SPX last weekend and now I’m here. I go to Los Angeles in two weeks to hang out there and the week after that is New York Comic Con which I may do, I may have to skip that one because I’m dead on my feet and I’ve got a two-year old, but I’m going to try to get to that one (NYCC) to, so you know I try to do as many as I can.
PR: I know you brought your first book here, talk about some of your other books that you’ve worked on and some that may be coming up.
Spears: Yeah, Teenagers from Mars is a series I wrote, Rob G. did the art and we got the trade here. Also Dead West which is a zombie western book. I’ve done a ton of stuff like all over the place but yeah, those were my first two books and then we also have the collected Black Metal: Omnibus, I did it with Chuck BB who’s the artist who won an Eisner for the art, it was a three-volume graphic novel series, but we did them like Manga sized, but now we’ve collected them in an oversized huge omnibus that has all three volumes in one big book, we have soft covers and we also have a limited black and white hardcover but we sold out of those today, but Oni Press will have those at conventions and so will I for a little while, we printed very few of them, they’re super limited. We’re doing more Auteur, and I also did Marvel’s Carnage, a miniseries that ties in to Rick Remender’s AXIS event that starts in October.
PR: Rick thank you so much for your time, it was a pleasure meeting you.
Spears: Yeah thanks for the interview.