Greg Rucka – Comics, Life, Free Speech, and more
Casey had the glorious honor to sit down and chat with comic writer Greg Rucka about his life in comics, working through depression, and some of his favorite moments. This is only part one as they talked for over two ours! Part two will release this afternoon!
They also talk about Stumptown, which you should listen to the panel with Greg form RCCC 2019 by clicking below!
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Interview scheduled by Jeffery Haas
Theme music by Good Co Music:
Transcript by Steve, the drunk robot.
Greg Rucka Interview – Part 1
Kenric:citizens of the Republic was born of ours. Welcome back to spoiler country on kindergarten. That’s mr. Horsley and today on the show. Well, it’s Greg reca, isn’t it. So Johnny, I don’t. I don’t have a lot of information on mr. Reca. He somehow has gone slipped past me in a lot of ways. I feel like a shitty goalkeeper right now. So why don’t you tell the audience and myself who we’re going to listen to right now?
John:Well, his name’s Greg, last name is Rocca. He writes comics. He wears glasses. Um,
Kenric:Oh my God. Can you give me a more, a, a professional overview, please?
John:Mr. Rocha is an Eisner award winner for best limited series with whiteout in the millets he’s. I started working on it for this new series with queen and country with Steve
He actually has one through three eyes and there’s a Harvey GLAAD award. Oh, actually four Eisner’s.
[00:02:00] Oh shit. Yeah. And he’s been nominated a bunch of times too, when the eyes are out in 2000 Oh two Oh four and 2011 Harvey doesn’t four and a glad award. Uh, for 10 of comic books in 2010, he’s an amazing writer.
He wrote, he wrote no man’s land for DC comics were Batman. He did a bunch of stuff with, uh, with wonder where he’s actually, he wrote one of the best wonder woman runs in the early two thousands that had been out a long time that people love it. He wrote a woman wonder woman. Uh, was it, uh, the, the high key
I can’t pronounce that word, but it has that closet cover with the one of them boot on Batman’s face holding the
Yeah. He wrote that book and. Yeah, he’s comes on and he talks with Casey and they had a, they had a really good time. They talked for a long
Kenric:too. Nice. Well, shoot, man. Let’s just sit back and listen to this. I’m excited now. I’m super excited. I’m not even kidding. I’m super excited to listen to Greg Rucka and Casey.
So let’s listen to Greg in his own words
Casey: so [00:03:00] how you been man is crazy right now.
Greg Rucka: Yes, it is. we’re, we’re holding on here.
Casey: I hear you.
Greg Rucka: We’ve had, we’ve had good days and bad days, but you know,
we are living in the midst of an Epic shit show. And, The people we have chattered upon to represent a prospectus, have absolutely failed to do so. And, nobody seems to be upset about the fact that a quarter of a million people are gonna die from this thing, if not more.
and that to me is probably the greatest crime of all here. that. Our standards have so fallen. We have descended so far in our lack of empathy for one another, and the divisiveness, you know, that we all live in, that people [00:04:00] just don’t care. They just don’t care. And, and in point of fact, not only do they not care, they don’t care enough that they think it’s a fair trade off, that people die.
So the economy stays Sable. that’s sickening. And the fact that anybody would publicly take a stance saying that the economy is more important than say, your parents. you know, that, that, that’s reprehensible. That should have been career ending. and 10 years ago it would have been,
You know, it’s so that’s how far we’ve fallen.
So, you know, the whole situation is crap and it’s going to be crap for awhile. And if we’re lucky, things will start to look a little more normal by the end of June. I don’t want to count on
Casey: it. Yeah. Yeah. This, we’re in it for the long haul. I think on this, especially [00:05:00] where I live has not hit yet. It hasn’t hit the people yet.
I live in Birmingham, Alabama, so. it’s one of those States where we are, the rate of like, new infections I think are, are, kind of mirroring that of New York city now. But people are acting like there’s not really an issue.
Greg Rucka: Right. Well, cause you’re so far away. Yeah. Right. I mean, you’re not even gifted, not connected.
Well, you know, we don’t have that. If we don’t live in a world where people get on planes and travel or things, it’s all right.
Casey: You know? Exactly.
Greg Rucka: Yeah. Nobody’s getting off on this. That’s the thing is that people think, you know, the only people who are going to be really untouched by it are the people who are so wealthy that they in their bunkers.
It’s gonna. It’s going to touch every one of them.
Somebody lost somebody. [00:06:00] If, if we don’t end up losing people ourselves, this is going to hit the comics industry. You know, I mean, there’s, there’s no doubt about it. And the comics industry as far as high risk industries go is one of the lowest. Yeah. Most of us, most of us do what I do, which is stay at home all day at work.
that I know a lot of people in comics who are in, you know, high risk groups. and not simply because, you know, and not because of age. So this is gonna. Yeah, man, this is the virus. Don’t care. Don’t care at all.
Casey: So as, as, as they come, it’s professional as somebody who is. You know, very much a part of the comics industry.
What are ways that you think that we can kind of help to mitigate the disaster and help to lessen? The, the effects of, of what this virus is doing to people.
Greg Rucka: I [00:07:00] mean, I think it’s the industry. I think the single most important thing that anybody can do is, is support your LCS, is support your stores.
You know, if there is a store that you’ve been getting comics from, they need to know that you are still getting comics from them. Right, that their stock is not going to go fallow. You need to be pre-ordering books and you need to be ordering books. And you know, even if it means that you’ve got to wait to get them, the, the retailers are, you know, the retailers are the only outlet of the direct market.
and if the direct market collapses because diamond doesn’t care. Yeah. Diamond diamond has made it abundantly clear. They don’t care. you know, but this is how the retailers, you know, they, they, they, they, they live on thin margins anyway, and, [00:08:00] you know, now they’re, they’re looking at not being able to sell their primary product for God knows how long.
It’s going to back up on the whole industry, right? I mean, you know, if diamond isn’t accepting books, then why should printers print the books? Right? And if printers aren’t putting the bucks, then why should the publisher make the books? So they’re there. And if the publishers and making the books, then you know, your favorite artist is in getting paid for drawing.
You know, the whole machine can grind to a stop here. So the only thing that’s going to, or one of the things that’s going to keep us, you know, on life support through this is, is making sure that those comic book stores know that, that that. They have and that we’re supporting them. And that means, you know, that means that for him, the name of God, if [00:09:00] you had a pole box and haven’t cleared it, now is the time to settle up on that.
Even if you can’t buy and have them deliver the books to you or whatnot. You know what I mean? But you know, use if, if your store is offering the mail stuff, if your store is making a list. You know those books are going to be there. Right? Lois lane, you know, there was an issue of Lois that was supposed to come out yesterday.
I know it exists cause I got my comps, you know, I mean, the book is real. It’s there. So. You know, if you’ve been trying to pick up Lois and floppy when it comes out, well that means that that book, that book is there waiting for the opportunity. So, you know, prepaying on something like that, if you, if your retailer is willing to do that, is, is a huge thing, you know, at least I would think because they have already, they’ve already paid for that book, you know, but now they can’t sell it.
Greg Rucka: And, and, and at least with [00:10:00] DC and on floppies they’re not taking returns. So, you know, this isn’t a thing that’s going to be sold by the comics community alone. You know, the publishers are going to have to do right. And honestly, you know, Diamond’s going to have to do right. Which seems, Incredibly unlikely.
but the, the, the, the end result of this may be that we see, you know, we see a change in the distribution model, but yeah. But speaking, just speaking in terms of comics, you know, this is, this is going to hit the brick and mortar really hard. And the thing that we can do, and it sounds kind of self evident, but the thing that’s going to keep them alive is money, you know?
And, and trying to buy from them. You know, a pre-ordering or, you know, making the [00:11:00] purchase and letting them ship it to you or doing curbside, or simply saying, Hey, as they pulled this for me, you know, it’s going to be the six weeks before I get in, but I, I’ll pick them up then. yeah, that’s, that’s gonna that’s going to be a huge difference.
Casey: The, the two locals that, that I would visit one shutdown, last may, I think I was talking to the owner of that, and he said that he shut down in anticipation of having to sign another five year lease. If he would have signed that five year lease at his location, he wouldn’t be here. He would have been swamped.
He would have been so screwed. Right now, the other shop that I go to is, it’s, in Birmingham, Alabama. It’s a combination, a tattoo parlor and a comic shop. And you know, right now all of that stuff shut [00:12:00] down
Greg Rucka: your flash wall must be amazing. Oh
Casey: yeah. Do this test. Your rad place is at sanctum comics in Birmingham, Alabama.
If you ever buy, you know, some miracle of something, or you know, things are just some of the last rope for you and you end up in Birmingham, Alabama. A sanctum. Yeah. Good place. Yeah.
Greg Rucka: Very cool. It sounds neat. Oh, yeah.
Casey: But, so yeah, you’re in the Pacific Northwest.
Greg Rucka: In Portland, Oregon. I’m, I’m, you know, I’m, I’m a very, energetic Brix throw from, from Bendis and fraction and those guys.
Casey: you could throw a rock up there and hit
Greg Rucka: no. It really, really hard not to, not to do. Serious damage to the comics industry. You [00:13:00] know, I mean, you drop a bomb bomb on Portland, you’re going to change the face of the industry.
Casey: what, what, why do you think that is? How, how did Portland and you know, the Northwest by extension become kind of the, the Capitol of the comics brain trust?
Greg Rucka: I think it was. It was sort of a perfect storm. You know, dark horse was here, only started here. And Oni, you know, ownings origins are in people who were at dark horse. You have a fan of graphics in Seattle. You know, we’ve, there’ve always been several small publishers here. And then, you know, I moved up here in 98.
Cost of living was very cheap. You could, you know, you could buy a house, you could live here, you could have a family here. And most people in comics, meeting [00:14:00] 99% of us are not wealthy. despite what people may think, you know, we’re not rolling in it. And. The opportunity to, you know, be somewhere where you can, it’s a city, it’s a vibrant cultural scene, but you know, you could live here.
And you could raise a family here. And then on top of that, it became, well, you know, then, then it started doing, it started to creating, you know, like the way that the way planets form, you know, enough comics pupil were already here. More people came and more people came because those people came, you know, Ben, this is single handedly responsible for at least 10 people moving to Portland.
and then one of the things that happens as in every industry is, okay, so now you’re in this environment and you have all these comments people around, and they effectively read more comics people, right? [00:15:00] So if you are an artist who has been interested in comics, but you’re not drawing comics, and then you get a chance to say.
LIBOR at length and strike up a friendship with him. So he is able to guide you in your education, Tom part as well. The natural extension of that is that maybe LIBOR is the guy who by way of example, right. But maybe he’s, you know, maybe he’s the guy who talking to an editor, one dance is, you should take a look at this person.
And, you know, and then the community grows in different ways. So, you know, I mean, Portland’s gotten very, well when we moved here, the idea that there would be a TV show about Portland was absurd. and then Portlandia happened. And, and more and more people have been moving here, and the cost of living is now nothing.
Like it was. Uh, we would not be able to afford the house we live in [00:16:00] if we were moving here today. Oh, yeah. I mean, not by a long shot, but, the community for the time being is sustaining. I suspect that’ll change if, if the economics of the region don’t change. But that sort of brings us back to our lovely pandemic.
Because God knows what the economy’s going to look like in a year. So
Casey: yeah, I work in a medical adjacent industry, so I’m like, I have to go to work. Luckily that means that my job is secure. So, it’s, and my, my wife is a teacher, so she has been enjoying her time at home with the kids for the past two weeks.
And, but yeah, it’s
Greg Rucka: online teaching. She’s
Casey: starting that next week. Yeah. They there. As with everything in Alabama, they’re, they’re a little bit behind the ball on, actually getting it implemented there. They’re slowly getting it [00:17:00] ready, but, that,
Greg Rucka: I suspect that’s going to be a lot rougher actually than, than I know a lot of people think, Oh, you know, teaching from home.
I’m going to say, if I’m honest, that’s going to be grueling. You guys have two kids, did you say? Oh yeah. Yeah, so you got two kids in, you got to work and she’s got to work and yeah, it’s, this is, it ain’t going to be easy. Nothing easy about, well, what we’re looking at, it’s going to be exhausting. So.
Casey: So you, you’re a family man, writer.
Your, your wife is also a writer.
Greg Rucka: Yeah. Yeah. Jen. Jen is a writer. Yes.
Casey: And I loved her black cat series. I read that. It’s fantastic. the, how do you compartmentalize like your creative time versus being a dad, being present for your family, you know, being, cause that, that’s a huge. You gotta [00:18:00] be there as a, as a parent?
Greg Rucka: Yeah. Well, I mean, I’m working now because, you know, my son’s 20, and he’s home from college. My daughter is 16, she’s past the line of self-sufficiency. my, My family time now is different than what it needed to be five years ago. and honestly, I think I probably was never very good at it because I tend to carry what I’m working on around with me at any given moment.
not necessarily, you know, w w with a pad and a pen, but. Especially if, you know, when I was working on novels,
Casey: yeah, you don’t, you’re a crime writer. You’re, you’re carrying some heavy stuff around with you.
Greg Rucka: Well, and, and, and in particular novels in comics for me, right. Very discreetly. Right. Because they’re writing in the writing the medium themselves.
Hmm. is one of [00:19:00] discreet units, right there is the book, and then the book breaks down into the page and the page even breaks down into the panel. Right? So that as one’s working on it, one can. For my purposes, at least I can hit the end of a page, the end of a sequence, and be done for the time being.
So whatever’s going on in the back of my head about, all right, you got to solve this problem and what’s going to happen next and how are they going to get out of this, et cetera, et cetera. That’s all wasn’t good, but it isn’t. it, I don’t have to drag it around with me quite so much. And the thing with a novel for me was that.
Man until it was done, it was always in your head. Because even if a chapter is a discreet unit of a novel, it is not the Terminus of the novel. The last chapter, the last page is determined as something novel. [00:20:00] So I would find myself over and over again. Having conversations in particular with my wife, where in the middle of the conversation I would blurt out something that I had realized about whatever I was writing in that moment.
And you know, she would look at me and be like, did you hear anything I said? And I would be able to say, yeah, I absolutely heard you. But I think honestly, the biggest crime that I committed as a parent was, there were a couple of years when I was still at DC before I left in 2009 where I was just miserable.
I was so unhappy. the relationship with TC was very, very bad. and I was incredibly depressed. And, and the result of that was that I withdrew further and further. And then when I finally left the scene in 2009, I was in pretty bad shape. And I was in such bad shape that, if I had been smart, I would have gone and gotten some help [00:21:00] and been diagnosed, as probably clinically depressed.
But I spent about a year and a half, two years really unable to work. And, and I was not, I was not a good dad during that period. I mean, it was just, you know, cause you can’t be a good parent when you’re miserable with yourself. You know, if, if you’re unhappy with yourself, it’s very hard to have patience for your children.
Yes, it is very hard to be listening with a full head and a full heart. You know, I was fortunate in that at least my son was of an age where my absence arguably did less damage, but I will never be able to make up to my daughter. the fact that I was not there for, you know, a couple of years. I was, I was, I was present in body only, and, so it’s not, you know what I mean?
Some people do it quite well. [00:22:00] I don’t, and unfortunately, you know, just as my children are getting grown, I figured it out. but now it’s a little too late, so, you know, yeah, it’s, Yeah, that was a heavier answer there than I think you were expecting, but there you go. Hey,
Casey: I mean, I like honesty and I respect it.
I respect honesty a lot. so yeah. What, what do you think turned you around? You said you were, you were kind of in the dumps for about two years. What
Greg Rucka: got you out? What did get me out? I think, you know, it’s funny, I found, and. A little voice memo I had made to myself back and like 2013 2014 that was me having sorta realized, okay.
What I had squandered, like, and needing to get off my ass and get back in gear. Like part of what it was was I just needed time. I think, I mean, I’ve [00:23:00] read about, you know, other, other people in creative fields going through similar things where you hit a wall and just the thought of doing the work is painful.
And you know, when I, when I walked away from DC. And, and, and, and it wasn’t just DC. This is not to absolve DC. I was very unhappy with them. They treated me very badly. I had reasons to be unhappy with them, but I also was let down by other professional colleagues. there had been, you know, projects that.
You know, it had been agreed upon that we’re going to happen, and then people walked away from him. So I found myself in a place in 2009 and especially 2010 I couldn’t go into a comic book store. I’d get a panic attack. I just, I was that miserable and yeah, no, it was, it was really ugly. I think, you know, a couple things helped to turn it around.
You know, I talked to, I found some people to talk to. and. [00:24:00] I also claim the comments is interesting when you were not coming, when, when you don’t have a comment coming out, you ceased to exist. and this is why you will see some creators get so shrill. About, you know, defending their work or whatnot.
If it goes out there and somebody has the temerity to say they didn’t like it, because their whole identity is in that publication, right? Yeah. And if there’s a month when you’re not on the stand as a writer or as an artist for that month, you don’t exist. And if that happens six months in a row, you vanish.
Right. You become, you become a back issue, Ben. Right. And I think, you know, I think getting to a place where there were things that I wanted to write again, Lazarus was a huge help in that. I think, being able to come out with a book that I [00:25:00] was very proud of, being able to work with Michael Lark. Because Michael was a good friend on top of being phenomenally talented. Then, I mean, on top of all the other things that I can say about Michael, working with Eric Troutman on the same, right, it was, those were really, really good things for me. I think there was also getting, you know, sort of changing.
My relationship with, social media because that’s the other thing that’s happening, right, is that you
Casey: get to ask about that.
Greg Rucka: Yeah. You see all the things that are happening and you don’t have anything to do with them, you know? I mean, I hate social media. I think social media is bad and vile and wrong and responsible for 90% of the problems we face in the world today can directly be traced to Facebook.
Oh yeah. And, and, and, and I don’t say that with tongue in cheek. I absolutely believe social media does not do it. The small amount of good that social media can do [00:26:00] is not offset by the incredible harm and damage it does. And, and it’s a pity because. Because I would love to have that kind of accessibility.
Right. I would love to be able to talk to, you know, fans, people who are reading the work. People have questions, but you can’t because every time you go on Twitter or you step on the Facebook, you are falling into. a very carefully constructed maze that is designed to make you anxious and angry and scared, and to raise your blood pressure and to seek validation in quarters where you should not really seek it.
From people there you really shouldn’t be seeing from. it is, it is a trap and it is a very dangerous trap. [00:27:00] you know, we, We’ve got a discord server for Lazarus, and you know, we’ll talk about other comics that are there, forums for other comments and all the other books and television and news and so on.
But the thing that’s happening there is it’s much
Casey: like an old,
Greg Rucka: you know, bullets in the board. Right? And it’s, it’s, it’s. It’s like going to the old comics forums because there is moderation. There is a standard of behavior that is expected of people, right? I’m not a, you know, and everybody’s entitled, their opinion of, and nobody gets to start calling each other names that they disagree.
and that’s what we’ve lost. You know, and then you take that away, you take away. You know, but th th the census, civility and decency and respect for your fellow human being that we now live in with Facebook and Twitter and so on. And then you add to that the absolute abdication on the [00:28:00] response on the part of the people who created those platforms and who own those platforms.
And that’s a key word. They own the platforms, to police them. And this bullshit argument of, well, it’s about freedom. And so, no, it’s not. There is no expectation of freedom of speech. I cannot go to DC comics. And write them a comic book that in ways in which Batman digs up the gray, the graves of his parents, and had sex with his mother’s corpse.
All right. and expect them to write it. I could absolutely write that script, but DC would have every right to look me dead in the eye and say, Greg, we’re not publishing a story where Batman’s a necrophiliac.
Casey: Not even on black label,
Greg Rucka: not even a black label, and, and even, but, but the point is if they say no, I don’t get to say, well, you are, you’re infringing my right to free [00:29:00] speech.
No, they’re not.
Casey: Yeah, it’s their
Greg Rucka: property. It’s their character. It’s their money. I mean, now think about this. That gets even better. Pay me to do this thing and then I get upset that you won’t pay me to do it. I mean really, and it’s the same thing, right? But people think that Twitter and Facebook are different because they don’t charge us for it.
Well, of course they don’t charge us for it. We’re the product.
Casey: You’re the product. Yeah,
Greg Rucka: exactly. So in point of fact, we’re the most important things on those platforms, and yet they give us nothing in return.
Google. They’ve just been outside of this conversation, you know? I mean, it’s, it’s, I, I, the only social media I am on is Instagram, and I checked it twice today. And each time the ads that were targeted at me were ads about [00:30:00] ultraviolet. Oh, sterilizing equipment, super easy to get and use face masks. You detecting a trend Oh yeah.
And concealed carry, clothing and equipment and so on. So based on the ads that Facebook, cause it is, Facebook is pushing at me through Instagram. The world is ending, right? Just based on those ads. This is Armageddon. I need the arm up gas mask up in, hunker down, and it’s like, Jesus, guys,
Greg Rucka: that’s a problem.
Casey: So it’s funny you, you mentioned the, the complicity that, Facebook and, and Twitter and all these other companies have for just the lack of civility and not policing that I was listening to ’em. I’m a fan of a history podcast by a guy named Dan Carlin, [00:31:00] and he was talking about how it, the, the lack of civility now in, on social media on the outset.
It doesn’t look like a big deal. It’s like, who cares if you call somebody a dickhead, it’s not a. Over their political beliefs. It’s not that big of a deal, but it’s a death by a thousand cuts. It’s, the more it happens, the more people become divided, the less people care about even trying to reach across the aisle or listen to anyone who might have a differing opinion and,
Greg Rucka: yeah.
And we didn’t get here quickly. You know, but this is, and it’s interesting, right, because the most BiPAP bipartisan thing that has ever happened in the last this month.
Casey: Yeah. Yeah. It’s fine.
Greg Rucka: Yeah, we got it. I got a bill through [00:32:00] that. Nobody’s happy with, and you know what that’s called? Politics. It used to be right?
No, nobody got what they wanted. Everybody got what they could live with. And. In particular, and this started in my opinion with the Clinton administration with his election, but it really got out of control with Obama. There was a salt of the earth policy. It wasn’t. We will, we will, we will try to find the compromise that makes it work.
It was, it’s either my way or it’s no way at all. Right? We salt the earth. And that’s not what politics is, is, and it’s absolutely not what politics is in what supposed to be a Republic and what supposed to be a representative democracy. but we do not agree to disagree anymore. I’m right. You’re wrong.
End of it. And the problem is, [00:33:00] in my opinion, this is, this is the infection. We have now reached a point where there are things I cannot agree to disagree with, that I cannot say. It’s okay that you believe that I, I don’t, I cannot accept, for instance, believing that Jews and blacks should die is a political stance that has any merit.
and I cannot agree to disagree with somebody who advocates that position. And it would be a morally bankrupt of me if I did. They’re wrong, period. There’s no. No argument to be had there. Right. Yet, we’re now living in a time that says, okay, I’m the problem because I’m not willing to engage in that debate.
There is no fucking debate.
Casey: Yeah. Some stuff you just shouldn’t.
Greg Rucka: Yeah. This isn’t
Casey: even grace with your time in a [00:34:00] debate.
Greg Rucka: We’re not trying to decide if you like pepperoni or sausage on the pizza. We’re telling you about somebody’s right to exist. that is not an argument. And the fact that we are now at a place argued that it is, that that is something that should be a debate.
That is something that views, there’s decent people on both sides. Both fucking shit.
Casey: Yeah, yeah. It’s, it’s shocking and I don’t even think like 20 years ago we could have imagined
Greg Rucka: how bad it got.
Casey: Yeah, exactly.
Greg Rucka: Yeah. And look, I have theories about the how and the why of it, but. It is what it is.
Casey: So you, you started in crime fiction.
Greg Rucka: I did
Casey: it. And.
Your background before you actually got [00:35:00] you. You had a lot of different jobs. I was looking at your resume like prior to, do you think that kind of informed, where you were coming from as a writer?
Greg Rucka: Well, I think that,
I think that all the experiences influence it. I think the most. I think one of the most effective experiences for me, it was, was training as a, as an EMT, because it changed very much how I wrote about violence. And, and, and the results of violence. And. That certainly informed the work. you know, I sold my first novel relatively young, and, and had it published relatively young, and [00:36:00] if you read it now, it reads like somebody who got published relatively young.
it is, it is lagging a certain sophistication. Jen, even if the prose works. it’s, it’s, I mean, I knew, I think on some level I knew I was going to be a writer fairly young. and I distracted myself with other things, but I was always writing so that whence, you know, when, when, when. When I finally did sell the novel and was suddenly in a place where I could do something that very few writers can do, which is write professionally, right.
Where, where I didn’t have a day job and then I was writing at night. It was my job was to write a book. I’m not sure. It’s funny, I haven’t read. You know, when I turned 50 this year. So there, there is some retrospective going on here. I don’t think, I don’t think I was ready for it. Yeah. [00:37:00] I mean, I don’t think that first, I don’t think is a bad novel. It was my first novel and I don’t think it’s a bad one. but.
I compare it to say a walking dead, which was the last Kodiak novel, and that came out 10 years ago, or Bravo, which was the last original novel I did, which is what, five years, six years now. and both of those are just as literary pieces, much more accomplished in my opinion, but. Having said that, you know, it’s a journey.
I don’t get to those books without writing the books that come before. and, and I mean that not simply in terms of series, but in terms of process, right? You’ve gotta you’ve got to learn.
Greg Rucka: Yeah. That’s exactly it. And the goal in any artistic endeavor, right, is that the thing you do tomorrow will be better than the thing you did today.
You may not succeed, but that’s the goal. [00:38:00] So, you know, I,
Casey: I, I,
Greg Rucka: I don’t know. You know, I haven’t written straight pros and quite a long time, my last novel was really brutal. And since that time I’ve done, you know, I’ve done these star Wars books, but there are very different kinds of writing. But I haven’t tried to go in and say, Oh, I’m going to try to create, craft the narrative entirely my own in 80 to 120,000 words.
nobody bothered me. I’ll be going for a month. In. That might be I that it might be even what I just said. Some people for
Casey: that self preservation a little bit.
Greg Rucka: Yeah, I think so. Actually, Casey, I think, I think that’s exactly what it is because I find novels incredibly difficult. and the older I get, the harder I find them that they, they, they require me to go away from the people around me until they are [00:39:00] done.
And, and I suspect that’s not healthy.
And I know that sounds like, duh,
Greg Rucka: that’s, but, but that is something that realization for me to say it because I know there are plenty of writers out there who seem provably capable to write for four hours a day and then wander off and do whatever else. and I couldn’t. I could write for four hours a day and then wander off and do whatever else, but whatever else I was doing, I was still living inside this book and it wasn’t romantic and it wasn’t fun.
It was ultimately really isolating. And see, that’s one of the things I love about comics, right? When you write a novel, you, you are absolutely alone. Right? It’s you and the metaphorical blank page, or you know, glowing monitor or [00:40:00] whatnot, and that’s it. That in the cast of however many who are bumping around in your head saying, no, I would never do that.
You know, or, or with bringing in your ear, you know, and, and then all the doubts, but you are alone. You do it by yourself. Now I can’t draw C. So comic, I have to collaborate, right. I have to be working with other people. I’m not a colorist anyway. Was it cowardice? I am not a letterer and even if it was a letter, I sure as hell, I’m not a designer, right?
So if I want to make a comic, I am by definition, engaging in a collaboration. And I love that. I think my work is always superior if I am able to collaborate with others because that allows me, you know, [00:41:00] one, you always have people to check you. Bullshit. That’s really important that the death of any artist is when they start believing their own press.
Right. When they, when they sit there and they go, Oh, I already know everything I need to know. There’s nothing they can tell me. I have nothing more to learn. Right. The second, any artist, any, it doesn’t matter what the media is. Second, they believe that it is the same thing as saying, and also my shit doesn’t smell right.
I mean, they, they, they are, they’re done. And you can see it. There are artists that you can look at their careers and you can see the moment when they decided. They knew everything they needed to know, and that was it, and it was all downhill from there. My theory is, you know, my theory as to why Hemingway killed himself is that, you know, when he started, it took him eight months to write a short story.
And when he w you know, before he died, he could write a short in an afternoon and okay, [00:42:00] well that’s it. You know, where do I go from here? And there’s nothing left. Yeah, the add to that, and not to make light of suicide, but I do think that that was a contributing factor. you know, for instance, you know, I do black magic when Nicholas Scott, I do the old guard, you know, with Leandro.
I do Lazarus, Lazarus with Michael Lara. These are all collaborations. I’m not just writing a script, sending it to them and disappearing until the pages appear. We are in contact with each other. We communicate, you know, Michael and I exchanged I think six emails today. Oh wow. And of those six, three were about.
And they, and honestly, really minor, like I will hear, I will, I will read it to you. I will open this up. No, but this is what I mean, and this is so minor, but this is, but this is, this is the respect we have for each other. So you says, [00:43:00] Hey man, this is a tiny thing, but I thought I should bring it to you for a reason, which I’ll make clear in a moment.
On page 15 I think I’m going to have to shift a round, a couple of balloons from one panel to another. Specifically, I want to move line six from panel two to panel three and then move line 10 from panel three to panel four. I wanted to make sure to clear it with you though, since you have a whip CS linking 10 till 11.
And since they aren’t going to be in different panels anymore, I thought maybe you’d prefer to keep them as one balloon or break them up differently. That is so minor. Like my response to that is, yeah, there’s no reason to separate them. Just put them in one balloon. Right. That’s it. But the communication there, that’s how, that’s how we work.
Right. And. That’s not him asking permission at all. That’s Michael going, I want you to be aware of this, [00:44:00] right? Yeah. In the same way that I will reach out to them and I will say, I got a sequence here. I have no idea how to do it. I know what needs to happen. I’m not sure how to write it. what do you need from me in the script?
Right. And Michael requires a different script, and Nicola does, because they work in very different ways. Like Nicola wants a script, she wants the script in Microsoft word. She wants it in my formatting style. and I have a very specific formatting style that I use when I’m writing a comic script, right?
And she wants an, I mean, she wants that thing locked down so that she can print it out and she has it, and she has working from the text. So I said, Michael. A script. He wants it in basically the most basic text format possible. And what he then wants to do is be able to reduce every page description to a single printed page that he can [00:45:00] print and then put thumbnails on the backside of it.
Right? That’s the way he works, and I have no idea what Leo wants for my scripts at all. Like I don’t know if he’s working from them literally on a monitor, if you print them out or whatnot. I know I sent him a script. I know a couple of days later I get six pages of thumbnails. I send him any notes on that, and a couple days later their pencil.
And any corrections I think need to be made. I’ll say, look at this, but 99% of the time I’m like, no, perfect. I think it looks amazing. How do you do that? And he goes off in three days later, everything’s inked. Right. And that’s working with Leandra Fernet. It’s just like, you want a book, watch this.
Casey: It’s like magic.
Greg Rucka: It really is. It’s like pull my paper, but see, I think what they do, I think what artists do, pencil I should specify do, is magic. I think it’s an extraordinary scale, because to be able to do [00:46:00] this well in comics is not the same skill as being able to beautifully illustrated children’s books. Right. The, the art of telling a story visually.
There’s a reason why I work with artists who allow me to do whole pages where there’s no dialogue, right? I do whole pages that, you know, nobody says anything. You’re just looking at the action. And I am fortunate, especially now having done this for as long as I have that. In the main, I am working with incredible visual storytellers.
Michael Lark can tell a story. He can move the action from one panel to another, to another, to another, and he doesn’t need my words getting in the way of that. Mike Perkins, same thing, right? Rick Burchett, you know, I was very fortunate to work with early in my career and I learned so much from him.
And I’m actually hoping that he and I will be [00:47:00] working on something again very soon. So. Nice.
Casey: How do you go about finding your art teams? Do you, so, for instance,
Greg Rucka: for,
Casey: your, your book, let’s do, just throw it out. Yeah. Yeah. I’m sorry for, for wide out. How’d you pick that, Lazarus?
Greg Rucka: All right. Well, okay, so when you’re talking about wait out, the thing you have to remember is that’s the first comic I ever did.
So the way the way Libra and I got put together was I had connected with Oni. Only wanted to do white out. They had a script from me. We had discussed the mini. We knew what it was going to be. I came to a comic show in Portland, came up from Eugene where I was living at the time, was introduced to Steve Lieber there.
and [00:48:00] it was really Bob, Shrek and Oni, and Jamie rich. And Joe knows Mac who put us together. Right? So that was an example of that. That marriage was arranged by the publisher. when I was working at DC and say, Marvel, you know, especially in, in like the first 10 years of my career, more often than not, I was being paired with artists entirely based on editorial, so that I would be told, you are writing this, this person is going to draw it.
And sometimes you, you know, strike gold and sometimes you wouldn’t. when I, when we talk about now. You know what I’m doing today, right. The things that I do these days, almost universally, simply because we’re at DC because I’ve been around for so freaking long.
Casey: Even that cloud man.
[00:49:00] Greg Rucka: Yeah. That there is a certain element of people will come to me and they will say, would you like to work with this person?
As opposed to say, you are working with this person and then when you know, I’m getting stuff at say Oni or image. image is absolutely an Oni absolutely capable. I could go to them and I could say, I’ve got an idea. I don’t have an artist. And they could say, you know, who would be great and give me suggestions and try to introduce us.
Right? But just as easily and, and, and, and in fact, what has happened almost universally, in particular in image, is that I can go to image and I can say, Michael Lark and I have a book we want to do, and it’s called Lazarus. And this is the pitch. And would you guys be interested? And the response I am wacky to say has been, yes.
And that has been the response for the old guard. And that was the response for black magic. And, and I hope it will continue to be the response moving forward, provided that, you know, [00:50:00] the industry, recovers from where we are. So it is a, it’s a very different thing now than it used to be. And then the other thing, which, you know, I tell people and they’re stunned by this.
You know, when I, when I started in comics in, in 98 99 at DC in particular, editorial didn’t want you talking to the artists. editorial wanted to be that, that communication channel, right? You were over here doing the scripts. The artists was over there drawing it and you never got the talk.
Casey: What would they gain from that?
Greg Rucka: I think some control, but I also think one of the things they were doing was they were trying to protect, the system because they understand, you know, I’m talking 25 years ago almost, this is before people were sending their pages in digitally. This is before everybody was contacting [00:51:00] each other by email.
Email was still. Fairly, I mean, it wasn’t brand new, but it was, I would send scripts physically. Yeah. You know what I mean? And artists wouldn’t send their pages in, they wouldn’t scan them. They would have to pack them up, put them in FedEx, send them to their editor, right. On the company’s account. That’s how you did it.
And one of the things I think that they were afraid of, because there was some history of this, is that what a writer and an artist didn’t get on a, they would start screwing with each other and that would break the whole chain down. And when you’re talking about publishers like DC and Marvel, the train has to run, right?
The book cannot not come out. It has to come out. And if your writer and your artist are pissing each other off, and the result of that is that the writer is not turning in the scripts, or [00:52:00] the artist is not turning in pages and it’s threatening the schedule on the book, you’ve got a real problem. So I suspect that’s what it arose out of.
I can’t guarantee it, but I suspect that’s what it came in. obviously.
It is not as big a problem as, as they might have feared. And it does happen today. I guarantee you, it still happens today. you will get, you know, our teams that aren’t getting on and they will treat each other badly. but. It sort of goes to that lack of civility issue that there are, there are a couple of creators in the industry who have made a name for themselves by being horrible to their collaborators.
And, and the worst thing about it is that the publishers have allowed it, and in allowing it, [00:53:00] that has emboldened these people. So now they’re horrible to the editors.
Casey: they’re just creating their own monsters to deal
Greg Rucka: with. That’s exactly it. So these companies have created their own problems and, and like all things, that we deal all major Ailes in the world today.
It comes back the money and they decide that, you know, well, it’s worth the abuse because the book sells. It’s like, let me tell you something. some of these characters you can write crap itself. And, I think we’ve both seen people write crap in itself. So, you know, there comes a point where you’ve got to take a stand because if you don’t, what you’re doing is you’re telling other people, that it’s okay to behave that way.
Yeah. You’re saying that that lack of respect perfectly fine. Carry on.
Kenric: : And we’re back.
John: back [00:54:00] from that and cut it in half.
Kenric: : You always have a cartoon voice when we come back.
John: I don’t know why. I don’t know. I can’t understand why
Kenric: : don’t know if it’s you like yeah. And then yeah, we both do it at times and it’s kind of funny.
John: It is kinda funny. It is kind of funny, but it was Greg Rucka. This is only the first half because Casey and Greg talked for over two hours.
Kenric: : Yeah, that’s a long interview, but they had a lot of fun. So
John: They had a lot of fun. Yeah. What’d you think of first half?
Kenric: : Oh, that was great. I mean, you know, w what can you, what can you say? I mean, Greg and Casey got along really well, and I, you know, I really can’t wait to hear the second and I’m going to wait. So I have them both back to back so I can listen to them all at once.
Uh, in the car. Cause I listened to all of our episodes as they come out and hopes to get better in what we’re doing.
John: Right, right. I, I should do that more often. It gets mostly, I don’t, I don’t listen to him when I edit them. I don’t listen to them after the edit. So I should
Kenric: : I know it’s funny cause I, [00:55:00] cause I feel bad because when we first started like the first 200 episodes, we were both editing back and forth quite a bit. And then really the last 200 episodes. Cause we’re at around that.
John: we have that
Kenric: : know. Yeah. You’ve been doing the bulk of it with me, spattering doing it here and there, which I feel bad, but it’s like, I come in and you’re like, Oh, this is done.
I’m like, Oh shit. Oh, okay. But at the same time I listen to everything more. And then I, you know, we, we pull out things and I, you know, we, I don’t know, we all have our roles to play. And it’s just interesting that, uh, When I’m listening to back and forth on things we go through. I don’t know why we’re talking about this right now.
John: Cause it came up. I don’t know. Go ahead and finish your thought. We’ll move on.
Kenric: : My thought process is this. I listen to every single episode, so I’m excited to listen to this one and then listen to the second one back to back. Even though what we just heard was me listening during the editing process, [00:56:00] not really sitting down and listening to every single thing that was said.
Does that make sense?
John: That makes perfect sense.
Kenric: : Yeah. So I’m excited for the next one as well.
John: Yeah, which will be dropping this afternoon because we’re doing it. We’ll drop in both of them today. We only split it up. I only. Just everybody’s curious. I know it’s been asked before, why do we split them up at the hour? Marker. So it’s literally just because we want to make sure what the guest, the guest has to say. Well, we have to say, get to the right, the proper, you know, airtime out there. Right. So
Kenric: : that? And Johnny doesn’t like long form
John: What’s that.
Kenric: : Johnny doesn’t like long form.
John: No, I don’t. I mean, I do what I don’t, but I figure if you put it into an hour chunk, then that what they say, it won’t get lost in how long it is and they ill. Cause there’s always good stuff. And especially with
Kenric: : kind of feel like it’s a little easier to consume.
John: Is your consume yet? The next, the next episode part two has got a bunch of really good stuff about his stuff with DC on it. So it makes sense to. And this one was curious because I saw the timeline on it. I actually took out a calculator and divided that, that the minutes and half. And there’s actually a, a perfect [00:57:00] split the exact half minute. So it was kind of funny. But that’s, that’s all I got.
Kenric: : Well, there you guys go. If you enjoyed that, please go over to spoiler verse.com. Check out all that we have to offer. There’s a plethora of podcasts that have tons of great content and a lot of great articles being done as well.
John: Yeah. And you can put on the store, link up there and buy some t-shirts by some hoodies, but whatever you want and it’ll be awesome. Cause it’ll help us out and we’ll make some money and pay the bills with it. So do that.
Kenric: : there. You guys go well, that’s a show, Johnny.
John: That’s a show.
Kenric: : All right. Don’t forget podcasts
John: are. Blue.
Kenric: : and compels you to do
John: Open the mind.
Kenric: : and read more.
John: Why gotta laugh at me. You
Kenric: : I don’t know because it took you so long to get to this Headspace, to be, to feel comfortable doing that. And, uh, it just makes me laugh. I think it’s great.
John: Oh, there you go. Alright.