You’re currently working on the second series of Rapid City entitled Below Zero how about you give us a little introduction to what Rapid City is all about?
Rapid City is a fictional city in a world where superheroes and villains make sense. I use it as the brand and the setting for telling true, personal stories about superheroes and villains.
What are some of your influences as a writer? Specifically for Rapid City and also just in general as an author?
I read a book by David Mamet, On Directing Film, and it changed the way I write. That is the single biggest influence I can point to. On Below Zero I looked to Hamlet and Richard III.
Who’s your favorite character from Rapid City and why?
The ones I like the most are Claw Hammer and Sidekick. They have goodness and humility in their hearts. But my favorite is Coil, because he's a dark vortex of hate.
The first Rapid City series was drawn by A. Kaviraj and Below Zero features art from Shawn Langley, was it always your intention to work with different artists for different runs? What do you enjoy about this setup?
Having different artists was more like a happy accident than a plan. Though I did conceive of Rapid City in chunks which could be told in different styles. Really, I have been incredibly lucky with the way this has worked out. Kav's style was great for the more personal and introspective tone of Objects at Rest, and Shawn's edgier look works better for the crime drama of Below Zero.
What’s it like to see the stuff you’ve written, the stuff from your own imagination, become fully realized and turned into comic book pages by an artist?
It is simply amazing. When I hold my books, and see scenes that I wrote, I think, "I thought that! That came from my mind!" It must be similar how parents feel when they see their beautiful children. Shawn is the mommy.
I like the parallel of having the first Rapid City arc being about a superhero and now having the new series follow a super villain. Icicle, the star of Below Zero, is described as a small time super villain out to get revenge on Coil, the man who murdered her boyfriend, what attracted you to making Icicle’s story the vehicle for touring through the villainous side of Rapid City? What is it about the revenge story that appeals to you?
The time was right for a bad guy story. I had written a long story about a hero that came to a satisfying conclusion. It was heavy and kind of slow and ends with a heist going wrong. One of the last toys left on the table were these doomed bad guys. At that point it was such a relief to write passionately driven, selfish, violent, people.
Revenge? It just feels great. In your heart you know it's wrong, but you also know it feels great. It's a win/win. You can get behind Icicle's righteous quest for revenge, but deep down you also know you are watching her destroy herself.
Superheroes as a genre have, like all genres, advantages and disadvantages related to how well their inherent audiences know their conventions, tropes and archetypes; so how do you avoid any of the negatives associated with working within a well known genre; what sets Rapid City apart from all the other superhero stuff out there?
Everyone knows superhero stories already. There's no need to retell them. Like, when you watch a movie about a cop, you don't wonder about how he decided to join the force, or how he paid for police training. No. You just get it. Same with superheroes.
Truthfully, my characters have complex emotional lives, but few even have origin stories. Because... who cares? Who cares what happened before. I care what is happening right now.
So, I'm not avoiding the negatives at all. Instead, I use them as positives. What sets Rapid City apart? I don't know. To me, they are stories I need to tell.
What’s your favorite and least favorite part of making comics?
Actually having a comic that I made, that's the best part. Worst? The delay between idea and execution.
I like fictional places and since Rapid City itself is a fictional place (or at least a fictionalized version of a place) I figured I’d ask you what are some of your favorite fictional places?
The X-mansion. As a kid, I memorized the layout from the old Marvel Universe books.
First there was the collection Objects at Rest and now there’s Below Zero what comes next for you and Rapid City?
Below Zero will go on for twelve issues. After that there’s a superhero team arc potentially called "Rapid Citizens". There are also plenty of stories between Object at Rest and Below Zero. We'll see what happens when we get there.
Rapid City: Below Zero #1 is available at Comixology.