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ZADZOOKS: Creative freedom found in comics, writer asserts

- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 19, 2008

This is the 57th in an infinite series profiling the elite of the comic-book industry. This time, we crack the corpus callosum of Rick Remender and ask him to..

Give us a piece of your mind

A former animator and now writer and illustrator of comics, Mr. Remender not only is the creator of famed intergalactic alien exterminator Heath Huston, but also has assembled the DC Comics.

Official title: Regal Beagle, writer, man of war

Spousal situation: Married

Favorite childhood memories: Skating the curb at the 7/Eleven by my house in Arizona, which casts my memories of childhood in blue skies and sunny days. There was also a great little punk scene in Phoenix, so we got inoculated with great thought-provoking music early on.

Your first comic book: The first comic I ever read was Secret Wars No. 4. It had this cover of the Hulk holding up a mountain with all these beaten-up heroes all around him, and I was immediately pulled in.

The book itself was perfect to sell a new reader on the potential fun of comics. Here were all of these superheroes getting their butts handed to them by a gang of villains; I'd never really seen anything like that before on the Marvel cartoons I'd watch growing up. I was really curious about the characters and began buying all the Marvel books. Then I fell in love with Batman and the Flash at DC. Then everything I could find.

Last comic book you read for fun: I just finished the new Angry Youth Comix by the wonderful Johnny Ryan. I'm recently in love with All-Star Superman as well. It's reignited my love of comic books.

Influences: Will Elder, Robert Crumb ... I could go on for days.

Favorite memories of being an animator: The day I quit being an animator.

Reason I decided to work in comics: Comics offer a creative freedom that can't be found anywhere else. I get to tell my story the way I want to - free of committee. You just can't beat that.

Current state of the comic-book industry: I'm always disappointed at how few comic fans or retailers care about creator-owned work. I guess the [do-it-yourself] spirit is dead or, at the very least, quickly dying. It's as if everyone would rather shop at Wal-Mart than support the local, independently owned hardware store across the street.

Is Hollywood corrupting or helping the comic-book industry? It lets us have a potential revenue stream from our creator-owned books we might not see otherwise. It's changed the business, but the fact is, it's nearly impossible to make any real money on creator-owned comics these days, so I don't mind it at all.

Creative origins of Mat Broome came on, and it still took another couple of years to come out even after he signed up. It has an upside, as it's given me time to get to know the characters in my head - I hope they come across as fully developed to readers.

Work on the Atom: He has so much potential. I love the character. The idea of shrinking down so small that you begin to find microscopic worlds and subatomic sentient life - it's like being the Silver Surfer, but instead of the cosmos, you're in the expansive microverse. It's loaded with endless high-adventure potential, and that makes for good comic booking.

Characters I would like to work on: The Justice League of America, the Fantastic Four, Wolverine and Spider-Man are top of the dream list for me these days. I feel like I could naturally get the voices of those characters without too much struggle.

Favorite word: Effusive. I like to try and be effusive about the good I see in the work being produced by those around me, then be supportive and help build people up.

Besides this interview, what's the stupidest thing you ever did? I created a comic-book series about a guy who has a dimensional gateway in his behind but only showed said titular character in cameos and backup stories. I produced seven issues of it, too.

Read more of the interview with Mr. Remender at the Zadzooks Community found on The Washington Times Web site (www.washingtontimes.com/communities/zadzooks).