The Vain with Eliot Rahal and Emily Pearson
Eliot Rahal and Emliy Pearson, the writer/artist team behind Oni Press’ The Vain join Jeff today to chat about this book and more!
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Interview scheduled by Jeffery Haas
Theme music by Good Co Music:
Eliot Rahal and Emily Pearson Interview
[00:00:00] Jeff: Listeners. Let’s pull our country today on the show. We had the fantastic Emily Pearson and the, and the fantastic Elliot Ray hall. How are we doing guys?
Eliot Rehal: Doing good. Jeff,
Jeff: are we doing well, Emily?
Emily Pearson: I’m not sure right now.
Jeff: So things are a little strange in the world right now. Are you guys find yourself distracted? Are you able to concentrate on what you’re supposed to be doing?
Eliot Rehal: You know the Tuesday through Wednesday, I was pretty much useless. And then Thursday, I’m climbing, I’m trying to climb back on the train, you know?
And yeah, I guess I’m just, you know, just trying to stay busy. I, I I’m I’m Really manic person. So, you know, it’s a struggle for me. So like my highest gets very high. And and then I like almost like want to jump out of my skin so it can be a challenge sometimes
Jeff: I can imagine. How about you, Emily?
How are we, mate? How are you handling [00:01:00] all this?
Emily Pearson: Honestly, like I have I have a chronic illness right now I’m dealing with. So, I mean, I took medication on a Wednesday for it, and I’m basically sleeping all the way through Thursday. So I got kind of lucky in that respect.
Eliot Rehal: You didn’t miss much. It’s still going.
Jeff: I hope, I hope you’re okay. And is there anything serious?
Emily Pearson: Oh, a little bit. I’ll be okay.
Jeff: Well, I definitely hope so.
Emily Pearson: Yeah.
Eliot Rehal: I’m glad to hear that. You’re okay, Emily.
Jeff: Yeah. Like I said yeah, definitely. I hope you definitely feel better and hopefully you’re not the medications aren’t hitting you too hard right now.
Emily Pearson: I should be fine. I, I woke up a little bit early to prepare.
Eliot Rehal: I have, I have enough chaotic energy support.
Jeff: I can start with you Elliot with the first question. So how long did you want to be a comic writer for, and do you remember what you were reading growing up?
[00:02:00] Eliot Rehal: Oh fuck.
I didn’t, I didn’t know. I wanted to be a chemical brighter, I think until I was in my early twenties. I’m 32 now. So I came to that realization pretty late. I knew I wanted to write and create and make things, you know, I just. I never really put it together that I could write comics. Right. I don’t. And then I didn’t read comics growing up.
I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction. I started reading comics in high school, so I read comics around junior year, so senior year and, and I, I started consuming them and I, and I didn’t start, you know, taking my hand at it until you know, I was in my late like 22, you know, and then and then I would say, I really didn’t double down on it until I was like, twenty-five where I like quit everything and like everything else.
Eliot Rehal: just did shitty jobs and pursued this career that none of my family [00:03:00] understands.
Jeff: So, I mean, the question that I always feel like publishers always are trying to figure out is how to get new readers to buy comic books. So you started buying, you said when you’re about 18 or you’re later.
So what finally made you say I’m going to start buying these?
Eliot Rehal: You know, I had a good friend. You know, I mean, really for me, it came down to friendship and like, I was always interested in the medium, but the, the issue, the number one issue with the medium is that there are a lot, there’s a lot of barriers.
There’s a lot of gate keeping in the sense that like, it’s very intimidating to walk into a comic book shop. You don’t know where to begin. You know, publishers, you know certain legacy publishers. You know, make it difficult for you to like, know when to begin and then there’s all this pressure and you have to know all of this stuff.
So it’s, you know, it’s just intimidating. Right. You know, it just seems like you’re walking into a really, really, really big world and you [00:04:00] don’t know how to navigate it. So I would say. That was my biggest deaden leaning. You know, isn’t there a specialty shop in my hometown or discover that until there’s one in the suburbs next over, but You know, I, one of my best friends he stood up my wedding, my James, you know, he introduced me to have a horror and sci-fi movies and comics and, and like, you know, we we’d go to the comic book shop every week together and, or every chance we could and You know, that that’s really having a buddy really helped me.
What can publishers do? You know, make it easy for people I would say. And I mean, the focus on keeping it simple and, and, and, you know, making it accessible and focusing on like, you know, Ways that they can do retail and outreach that invites people, but then also direct from probably publishers or [00:05:00] consumer stuff would probably help with that.
I’m always a fan of just site, make it easy, making it to mining. And, and, and like, don’t get hung up. On, I think arbitrary legacy, I think you know, that is what I think alienates. New readers especially, you know, younger people specifically also gen Z. I know a lot of gen Z kids, my little brother’s agentic kids.
And that’s like, if something’s like hard and complicated and like full of like shitty neurons who are gonna well actually grouped to death, they’re not going to want to deal with that. And quite frankly, why should they.
Jeff: I agree. Do you think the big publishers would help to have like a previously, like a page in the inside cover?
That’s like previously on Batman and like a breakdown of like the last storyline to help them out? Or what did you think that wouldn’t do any good?
Eliot Rehal: Like a recap page?
Eliot Rehal: I, I think I I’ve always appreciated [00:06:00] comics that every he pages you know I’ve always appreciated them. I thought they still did them.
I even stepped inside a shop or I just, I just stepped inside of the shop, but I, I’m not really buying a lot of big two stuff right now, aside from DC black label and immortal mortal Hulk, you know,
Jeff: Yeah, I actually don’t usually see a lot of those types of recaps. How about how about you, Emily?
What was your first, when did you know you wanted to be a comic artist and what was your break into the industry? At least into the comic world?
Emily Pearson: I think, I think I want to do art. I don’t know it was 14 or so. And then the next couple of years in high school, I started reading comics and that kind of drew me into wanting to do that more.
I think as far as actually starting to work in comics, it didn’t really happen until like maybe I was 2020 or so. I can’t remember like 19 or 20. I started working [00:07:00] on the wilds, which was my first, the first you know, fully comic book. And it was really nice to kind of like, I dunno. It’s nice. It was nice to go in for that with vena, because Pete is a very easy person to work with and very considerate and helpful.
So that was a really good experience for me.
Eliot Rehal: So
Jeff: what do you remember what your earlier comic books or did he buy comics when you were in your teens later on.
Emily Pearson: I kind of think when I was going through high school, I was just, I wasn’t really reading a lot of stuff in order, except for like maybe saga or something like that.
It was just a lot of
Eliot Rehal: school.
Emily Pearson: I’m I’m I’m 24.
Jeff: I’m 40. So yeah, I just bought my walking my Walker. After you said that,
yeah. He just realized that ARP is now knocking on his door.
So you were buying a saga.
Emily Pearson: You said. [00:08:00] Yeah. And fables and stuff like that. It was, I was kind of into the, the more, like, I don’t know, like the fantasy stuff in the indie comics, so yeah.
Jeff: So Emily, are you, did you go to school for art or are you self-taught?
Emily Pearson: I didn’t go to, yeah. I’m self taught. I think I started.
Trying to do art full-time when I was out of high school and it took a couple of years to kind of get to the point where I was able to.
Jeff: So, so when did you, when did you both know that you had made it in the industry? Was there a point where you said, okay, I arrived,
Eliot Rehal: Oh my God, did I make it?
Jeff: Well, you’re talking to talking to me.
So you know that just kidding.
Eliot Rehal: I you know, I’m very fortunate and I’m very blessed to have people continually like, answer my emails and be published and, and do I feel more confident? Yes. However, do you know, is there a sense of making it or like feeling [00:09:00] good about anything ever That’s not the kind of person I am.
So that’s a, that’s a personal mental health struggle for me. So yeah, I do. I feel. Do I recognize that things are better than when I started. Of course, however, you know I don’t feel that feeling. And also there’s still a lot left to do and that I want to do. So, you know,
Jeff: how about you, Emily? Is there, is there a point where you feel that maybe you arrived or you, you know, you are now.
Really a combo artist, you know, you’re, you know, one of the group, you know, the small circle of comic artists that are out in the world right
Emily Pearson: now. It’s hard to say because I feel like, I don’t know if I would classify it, it’s like making it or anything, but like I started to feel a lot more confident when I was doing comics full-time as a job.
And I think that kind of like. You know, [00:10:00] even if you have like imposter syndrome, what you’re going through, like, Oh, I don’t feel like I’m ready for this. It’s just like, okay, well I’m getting paid and I just have to keep doing it anyways. You know? So yeah. I don’t, I, I don’t feel like I’ve hit a point where like, Oh, I made it as a com bookers or anything like that.
I feel like. It’s probably really relative to every person that you know is interested in going into comics.
Jeff: Do you both feel that that seemed to be like a common thread among successful artists? It’s the sense that you’re not yet. Truly successful. You know what I’m saying? It feels like every artist, I know a writer that is making it never fit, feels like they’ve made it yet.
They always feel like there’s still need, there’s still room to get better. They’ve never have mastered the craft yet. That, do you think that’s a common theme throughout people who are achieving goals in comic books?
Eliot Rehal: I [00:11:00] that’s a big loaded thing. You just said that I have a lot of opinions. And I think a lot of it personally has to do with capitalism and the nature of what we’ve.
Right. And the idea of like, when am I going to feel fulfilled?
Eliot Rehal: Like for instance, that a career will never fulfill you because we create our careers for ourselves. Like we made our jobs, the jobs did not make us. Right. So inevitably like, you know, if you’re chasing fulfillment based off of the idol that you’ve created upon yourself, and you’re putting all of your power and giving it all of your energy, you’ll never get it because it’ll never give it back to you because by definition it isn’t capable of doing that.
That being said yeah, there also is like, A certain level of dissatisfaction. And then again, you know not to be too weird. [00:12:00] I have a difficult time you know loving, like who I am as a person. Right. And so like, that is a huge problem for myself. And like, it’s like, it’s just that bad as a consistent struggle.
So it’s like a lot of different factors at play, but, you know, and I, and I don’t think you can ever master the craft because like there’s no craft. To master, you can only try to do your best, right? Like, I don’t think there is such a thing as like a master crafts person. Like I think, you know, because that suggests that the craft is finite and the thing is, is that it’s not like it can be whatever you want it to be.
It can evolve. And like it’s constantly changing that being said, obviously, You know, Neil Gaiman and like, you know you know, you also own, and people like that are incredible cop level creators, but like, I don’t know at this point I’m arbitrarily talking, so I don’t know.
Jeff: Totally fine. I will say [00:13:00] one thing I find difficult with, with my own writing in the very small level of Chromebooks that I work on is difficulty reading and enjoying my own work.
Can you either one of you in, do you find, can you enjoy and read your work and get or do you find. When you’re reading what, you’re, what you’ve done. You find like the little flaws and you find it difficult. You’re like, Oh, I should’ve done that. Maybe I could’ve done this a little bit better or able to just separate yourself and just enjoy what you’ve done for that’s for both of you guys.
Eliot Rehal: I’m very critical of my, part of the job. Right. But you know, I enjoy looking at the work Emily does because it’s a totally different part of the process. And like that’s where I get the most joy. And like, there are moments of drawing I get in writing, don’t get me wrong. And those, those moments come from mostly problem-solving and, and being clever.
I really enjoy that, but the true joy I get is when. You know, you hand the football off to your partner and, and, [00:14:00] and they come at you with their energy and their like boundless creativity which, you know, I mean, I’m, I’m so fortunate to have worked with Emily because you know, she’s an artist like I have never worked with before and, and, and I, and I get enjoyment from that and I think it is It does a disservice to your co-creator to not enjoy the work and the effort that they put forth.
Jeff: So can you expand on that? What you mean when you said it’s an artist, like you’ve never worked with work. Can you expand on that as an idea of what in regards to Emily
Eliot Rehal: and she’s saying, Hey, you know, her work is very. Beautiful and elegant and like, and you know, and it’s just like, it’s a little like thing not traditional in, in a, in a good way.
I mean, and, and, you know, and, and so when you’re writing, you want to write to fulfill those strengths for your partner and, and, and so that helped inform some of the way I set the tone for our book. [00:15:00] And, you know but like her, you know, I mean, I’ve worked with a lot of traditional artists. I’ve worked with a lot of people who, who worked in a lot of different like surreal spaces and, and just the way she approaches comics and the way she.
No draws and everything is just very pretty. And I learned that sometimes you just want to stare at something beautiful. And it’s nice.
Jeff: How about you Emily? Same question about, are you able to enjoy what you’re like your work or do you find yourself very critical of what you’ve produced?
Emily Pearson: I, I honestly find myself pretty critical of most of the things I make.
I think it’s hard with the. Comics, especially because they’ll work on something for like, you know, however long the project is like five months to six months and then it will get released like a year later. And you’re like, Oh, I don’t, I don’t want people to see that.
So it’s, it’s definitely harder that. Retrospect, but like, I think the same like theme where like it was [00:16:00] talking about like, you know, seeing, seeing the story together in the end book and then seeing like Fred’s colors and, you know, the others after it’s really nice to see a comic made by like a whole group of people.
Because, you know, as an artist, I can essentially. Make most of the, most of like a comic by myself, but having other people working on it with me is also just a really cool experience too. I don’t know, just to get a bunch of different people’s ideas come together in one
Eliot Rehal: Right. It makes it makes other people feel real to me, you know, I have a hard time with reality.
Sometimes. And and you know, you whip off a script and you send it and then it comes back and it’s like, Oh, this is like a whole other person. That’s incredible.
Jeff: It is. I will say from my own experience, it’s a great feeling when the art arrives, because whatever, because on the page, these words, these ideas, these.
[00:17:00] Intangible things suddenly have a tangible feel to have tangible look. And when you finally get those pages, that really is in my opinion, with the best feelings of creating a comic book.
Eliot Rehal: No, I agree. It’s destroyer. We’re making something as someone and yeah.
Jeff: So where did the idea? So where did the idea for Bain come from the w w through Oni presses, what you you’ve worked on it together?
Eliot Rehal: Right. Hold on one second.
I think my cat wants to take a shit.
Jeff: Fair enough.
Eliot Rehal: Yeah, no. So the vein, you know it sounds funny and I don’t mean to be flippant about it, but it’s just like a lot of my work. It starts as a joke. Right? Cause I I’m a firm believer that jokes are stories. Like there’s told very simply and Mike, but they have a purpose and like, you know, like like, you know, for example, like I wrote a book called hot lunch, special EA not lunch spreader.
What is it? You know, the joke in my head was like, wouldn’t it be funny? [00:18:00] You know, like a bunch of people took sand, which is really seriously and like, and then I extrapolated it from there. Right. So that’s, I mean, and. Davina came from a joke. Like I was eating popsicles one day and I, and I there’s a joke on one of my popsicles in the classic.
What’s a, what’s a vampire’s favorite kind of bank. And and it was like blood bank. Right. And I was like, Oh, that’s what if you. Like blood bank, robbing vampires. That’s fine. And then I like, and then I started like really thinking about it and like thinking of these characters and like, thinking about like an extrapolating, it, like, you know what I mean, taking it very, very seriously, right?
Like it might start off as like a fun little idea, but you know, you know, the whole book, although I think he’s fun and kind of wild and free, and that’s why I was. [00:19:00] So wanting to work with Emily who’s working on the wilds. But you know, It’s also like, it gets really serious and it’s like talking about like, it’s like nihilistic freedom and I’m talking about like obsession and like all this kind of stuff.
So it’s like, you know, it might seem simple, like a joke is just like a simple concept that helps me kind of wrap my head around it, you know?
Jeff: So how did you did, was it you who first reached out to Emily or did Emily say, Hey, do we want to do anything you want to work on? So who reached out to who first.
Eliot Rehal: I think that’s up for debate at this point. And I obviously you know, I’ve always, I’ve always liked Emily’s work. And you know, I remember we had a conversation at one point and I forget who began at, but she was gracious enough to say, Hey, I want to work with you. And I was like, great, give me a week to figure something out.
And and then you know, we were kind of [00:20:00] off to the races there.
Jeff: So, Emily, do you remember what the pitch was that you, when you fell or what you first thought when you heard the story of the pitch for vain?
Emily Pearson: Yeah, generally I can’t, I think we had a phone call after Ellie kind of gave me the general, like you know, Like team empires, Robin, Robin blanks.
And it goes through a period of like eight years or so. I think we had a phone call and you kind of broke down all the different, you know, kind of how he wanted the comment, how he wanted the comment to feel and like the sort of tone it was going for which was really cool, which is, you know, it’s kind of like just this fun, like over the top, you know, vampire story.
Yeah, it’s hard. Cause it was also like, I think it was like a year ago that we talked about. Doing the stuff. So it’s hard to keep it, like, in my memory of like, when we all have these conversations,
Eliot Rehal: it was a while ago. Like, you know, and, and like I did, I did for the record [00:21:00] say we got to do hot vampires, Emily.
We’re doing hot young vampires. Sexy forever makes me feel like even a bigger freak. 22 year old at the time and no idea The way only press works in a way that a lot of comic book companies where these, that they like to have, you know, three full issues done before they even consider releasing material.
And then also, you know, so we had to do, we had to get to that point and then also only press had a big you know, there was a big change over, you know, with them in line four, which caused. You know, just some infrastructure delays. So the whole series like was essentially done before we even announced it.
And you know, so like really this idea has been living in our brains for over, I would say a year and a half, almost two years at this point.
Jeff: So, so I, I get the sense [00:22:00] that making the combo the way you guys did it have, in other words, I’m going to do more three or four issues before in owner press was really, I’m going to release it.
That’s a huge leap of faith for both of you, I would imagine. How confident were you that, that, that it was a good leap of faith was gonna be a successful one.
Eliot Rehal: Oh I’m afraid to answer, ask this answer. This I’m never confident about anything. I just go for it. I, I actually like, felt like, you know, Yeah. I actually took the time to think about something like truly, I wouldn’t have a mental breakdown and to have, you know, and I’m not saying that I’m not thoughtful.
I’m just saying like, at a certain point, like if you have an opportunity, you have to go for it. And like, you know, my opportunity at the beginning of this report was working with Emily, right? Like that is an opportunity that I, as a writer cannot pass up, like, like somebody who is. As good as a [00:23:00] creator, an artist does Emily, like if somebody like that approaches you and you have the time and ability to work with them, like you have to go for it.
And then like, and then when you’re pitching work, you know, you have no other choice. Would, you know, it’s my job to. To sound like, I know what I’m talking about. I look like, I look like a white guy, so it’s like, you know, I mean, everyone, I mean, like it’s not that hard to sound confident. Right. You know, so, you know, but I don’t know what I’m fucking doing ever.
Like I I’m constantly spiraling out of control.
Jeff: So, how about you, Emily had Al positive. Did you feel that this was something that you were going to find or you felt confident in that is on you to work on, spend the time on and this was going to make it?
Emily Pearson: Well I think honestly, when it comes down to it, like, like when you have like, [00:24:00] you know, only pressing that, like, okay, we’re going to pick up this book and publish it.
That’s like where most of my anxiety ends for that. I feel like. When you have the publisher support and they’re, you know, they’ve agreed to pay. It’s like, okay, well I have a lot less to worry about. And then, you know, I’m not sure it’s like, I only worked on like three or four books and it’s only three of them have came out now.
So it’s like, I don’t have a lot of experience of like, Oh, this book is going to flop or this one’s going to do really well. It’s a lot newer of a experience in that regards to me. Cause especially since it takes so long to draw the book as an artist, like, like I’m sure like Elliot has like tons and tons of projects he’s working on and I’m just like, okay, gotta do one book at a time.
Jeff: So the artwork in this book is actually tremendous. How did you develop the visual style of this book and how much research in [00:25:00] the first issue did you do on 1941? Chicago look styles. In preparation for this
Emily Pearson: book I honestly just look up a lot of different fashion stuff on Pinterest, Google images for this.
I think I really like trying to fashion stuff. So I think that stuff is just like more of what I want to draw out and what I have to draw. Cause I know there’s like some artists that kind of like hate coming up without Fitz ideas for the characters and stuff. I get super into it. But yeah, I think other than that, it was just.
I don’t know. I think it’s the style it’s been developing for a while since like working, you know, on my other books. So I think he kind of came pretty naturally and it just ended up being a, you know, a story that fit well.
Jeff: So I’m just going to S break out of the conversation just for a moment and say Zoom is going to apparently shut this down, meeting down about five minutes.
I’m going to actually start it right back up if you guys don’t mind so we can talk a little bit longer. Is that fine? [00:26:00]
All right. Like I said, unfortunately, apparently I don’t have the money to parents to pay for the upgrade to pro to keep it going on one meeting. So yeah, so we’re just gonna let it go and then we’ll, we’ll jump in, but I’m gonna ask my next question with the next five minutes. So like I said, I got to read the first issue and I said, I really enjoyed it.
And I really liked the love the line. And I’ll just read the line. I wanted to save her every flavor of the sunrise. So I would still be able to taste it when I’m old. And it feels like a theme of the comic book, the idea that savoring every moment, and also do like the irony of, especially at the sunrise for vampires too, obviously that’s detrimental to them.
So I kind of was so nasty. And so for Elliot where the idea come from, is that, was that a way to sum up the theme of your story? You’re serious?
Eliot Rehal: Yeah. I think that that line is, is Done by the FBI detective, if I’m not mistaken, I forget. But yeah, there’s something there to it. I mean, definitely planning with the vampire theme.
We also there’s irony in that statement, right? Because again, like we [00:27:00] talked about with success earlier, and when you feel successful, like the whole arc. You know, and I’m trying not to give too much away, but like, you know, the book travels through time 80 years and you, and we follow one human character who is obsessing over these vampires, his entire life.
And he misses his entire life. Right. He’s so focused. His career, he’s still focused on being writer. He’s so focused on them that he misses everything around him. That’s beautiful. And and, and, and like, there is dramatic irony to that statement that that is all and intentional, right. And I, you know, there’s like a great Gatsby element to it.
Like I think about my father-in-law, my father is always reaching. He’s always, he’s always going towards what’s next. What’s next? What can I achieve next? And there’s something to be admired there. Right? Like, I certainly admire that kind of spirit, [00:28:00] but at the same time, like you’ll never fulfill you, you know?
And and that’s why, you know, I take so much great effort and try. To focus on the things that matter, which are feelings, which are each other, which are, you know, my relationship with my wife. And that’s, again, going back to the book, the thing that matters the most, the main, where are our four vampires, is there the relationships to each other, their friends, their lovers, and, you know, they’re only complete when they’re together, right.
Jeff: I, I think one thing I, I enjoyed especially about the first issue is reminded me a little bit of the the way the movie heat was set up, where you had the cop and the criminals, and you had them both look at their lives and they, and they’re perfectly set up that way for that comparison purpose, where you have the cop.
And even though he’s for the law, his family’s falling apart, his whole life is dedicated to his job. Then you have Robert and arrow’s character who. [00:29:00] It’s getting more out of life. It’s dangerous. It’s you could die any minute, but at the same time, he’s the one who actually seems like he’s living it. I kinda had the same feeling in reading the first issue of vain.
Eliot Rehal: Right. That’s a great comparison. I never even considered heat, even though I do love that movie. Yeah. But that is a really good comparison. Yeah.
Jeff: Hey, I think I’ll Pat myself on the back for that, but it’s
Eliot Rehal: true. Detective series series. I
Jeff: saw the first two seasons of it. Some, some years.
Eliot Rehal: I’ve only seen the first season, but there’s a similar dichotomy there where you have two characters.
They’re both cops, right in. One is talking about what a year Olson’s character is always talking about, how everything matters and then The Lincoln commercial spokesman guy. What’s his name? Matthew McConaughey is he’s always talking about how, like everything’s a fennel. And does it matter where the [00:30:00] act totally opposite?
Right. Like Matthew McConaughey is the one who cares the most. Whereas like Woody Harrelson is like, you know, cheating on his wife and mudding everything that his goodness life like he’s TVs to get a big double over it, you know?
Jeff: So that’s like the lies we tell ourselves, right? The lies we tell ourselves to make it through the day.
Normally it’s the opposite of what we actually want to be true. All right. So Emily, so once again vein is visually very stylish. And when you read it, the art is really placing us into the time period. So. When you’re doing the artwork for this story of vain, how much focus or can you place in the style and atmosphere of the story and how much do you need to focus on the character of the story?
You know what I’m saying?
Emily Pearson: Yeah. It’s well, it’s, it’s a balance for, I think, any comments, but I think you know, people always talk about comic book. Artists are often like. [00:31:00] I mean, no character designers environment like this, like designers and video quality and all this different stuff that he has to learn.
I think it’s, I think it’s a balance with any comic book. I think with the main specifically I wanted to try to show more of the characters and have them fit into the setting of wherever they were, because. I mean, essentially going through each study pretty fast, you know, there’s a different
Eliot Rehal: time period
Emily Pearson: issue.
So it’s, it’s less, I think there’s more development that could be done with the characters and with the settings that they’re
Eliot Rehal: in.
Jeff: I think the one, one of the things I think that I’ve been very impressed with as far as the artwork goes, Emily, is that you’re able to put so much emotion and facial expressions in each character.
There’s even a moment. I think an issue too, where the dog shows up and even the dog seems, seems to have his own personality. And so like, I guess, I mean, I guess there’s a question here somewhere basically is [00:32:00] how. Are you able to put so much expression and emotion and characterization in your artwork and such an in each panel that you’re doing?
Emily Pearson: I just gotta to say that dog was like the most, like the most fun of her drawing.
Yeah, I think honestly, it’s just. I think the way I heard emotions is kind of like subtle, like, because the realistic style I do for the Bain, I feel like I’d have to change a lot if I were to just have been like super hyped up emotions and stuff like that. So I think I kind of liked to do more subtle things that you would see on someone’s face.
If you were talking to them. And it’s just, I don’t know. It’s just, it’s really easy to just change. Very specific things like. The eyebrows being further a little bit more like someone’s mouth being, you know, I have no objective words of youth Elliot, spider [00:33:00] pursing their mouth more or something like that.
Jeff: Well, there’s a lot of nuance too. Like I said to the artwork and the touch of the facial expressions. Are you using like a photo reference? Are you taking a look at yourself? Look in the mirror. Make like mugging, like facial expressions to try to draw from how are you getting that good at it?
Emily Pearson: It spokes it’s I love drawing up references, so I figured as much as I can.
But sometimes you need to take your own themes. So it’s a bit of a mixture between it all.
Jeff: Well, I think one of the best moments, especially in the first issue and not only is it a great moment, but it’s such a turning point for the story itself occurs on page 14 and this is incredibly graphic scene, and it’s such a tonal shift in the story, which is something kind of.
It starts off kind of fun, but it quick, it quickly turns kind of ominous. And this is when lost juice yourself in the mouth. And you see the Bret, you see the breath, the head blow up, blow off a little bit of the brain. And it’s a, is there any visceral is very, it takes us such a tonal shift. How important [00:34:00] in the story is that shocked for the reader and how important was it to lay the groundwork?
If it wasn’t come after in that moment, but that’s for both of you.
Eliot Rehal: You know, for me, that’s like one of the most, you know, important panels in the series and in the, in the first issue too, like just cause that that’s what this book is going to be. It’s like, you know, I wanted like,
no, I’m, I’m not trying to sound high and mighty. Okay. So please forgive me. It’s just like we have a very diverse. Group of characters and, and we start them off in the 1940s and that’s like what our vampire is known for. And like they’re known for being free. And that’s like these people, you know, probably, you know, that not probably, they wouldn’t have been able to live their full lives and like, and I wanted to create character who were like, To hell with you, you know?
And I mean, we’re going to be [00:35:00] ourselves, like we’re going to live. Right. And like, in the, the most free character, the characters who lose the most are on deck. Like I like that aspect to it. And then also that, like it also trying to like tell the reader that like getting ready for this to turn on a dime whenever I feel like it.
Right. And then, you know, with Emory’s work. Again, I think it shows the juxtaposition. You know, you have these beautiful characters, beautiful designs and lovely colors from Fred C stressing on top of them all and in very picturesque, you know, and and then you turn it in and have that moment on the page.
And it’s just brutal. And like, I used to remember like more, give me more depth.
And she did a gray, but it’s just like, you know, it was, it was fun to ask her to bring that to the table and it was fun to see [00:36:00] her bring it and my guy, and that was, that was a treat for me too. But like that is like, you know, to me it shows the flip, you know, it’s like, this is going to get weird and fun and wild, you know?
Jeff: So, how about you, Emily? How did you feel about that moment in the comic book?
Emily Pearson: Yeah, it definitely surprised me. I think there is about like two maybe seems to kind of come out, you come out with like a little bit of a surprise like that in the book, like a little bit, of course. But I mean, I think you’d definitely like.
Like when you, when you read through the comic and you’re like reading up to that point, I think that’s the point where you definitely understand loss a lot more as a character. Like it’s just her personality on display. I really like, I think it’s. It’s really cool that Elliot showed that through a moment like that instead of like, you know, like an expositional backstory thing, or is it early a [00:37:00] flashback or something like that?
I think it’s a lot more effective.
Jeff: No, I completely agree with that. I never. Like ex exposition dumps. If I failed, they’re always the weakest writer tool is the expert exposition dump. And I think that you did a fantastic job, both of you, of creating that moment where you do have a ton of characterization in literally one panel of action.
I think it was tremendous. And that scene with the bank is once I get a great scene, punishment, murky loss, and Fanny, and it’s a very beyond that moment. It was going to be a very low, violent moment, nonviolent moment. And I always want, and I was wondering when I was reading it, is that because the vampires are inherently not bad or is it because it was at a calculated decision to limit the heat?
Because I wasn’t talking about the movie heat. There’s a moment where I came up the name of the guy, but he shoots up the guards and Robert de Niro’s character yells at him. He’s like, if you do this now, this is a murder wrap. Instead of just a bank robbery, it adds a layer of Heat on them and pressure.
[00:38:00] So in your mind when you’re doing that scene, was it to show their inherently benevolent nature or was it a calculated decision on them? Not to go that low, go that route?
Eliot Rehal: You know for them as characters I think it’s more of a calculated decision, right? Like in like the people that they like to appeal, like.
You know that we do see die, you know, I’m choosing carefully that they’re okay. Like it’s okay. They’re not that it’s okay to kill anybody, but like, you know, like structurally and then like, but yeah, it is a heat thing. Like they’re, they’re strategists, they’re like neutral evil, you know what I mean? Like, and they’re not going to outwardly try to murder anybody, but, you know, as the series continues, you know, that is.
That is the change where like something, you know, things start to get out of control, like [00:39:00] any traditional new or crime story, like, you know, the criminals have their code and they try to stick to them. And that’s how, you know, they’re good criminals as long as they stick to their code. But as soon as things you know, Become a little uncontrollable, like that’s, you know, they, once they lose their coat, they lose control.
And once they lose control, like they lose, right? Like it’s all about control and strategy for them. And like their whole thing is like, you know, especially as we get further into the series, like the modern world is catching up with them and they’re staying all right. So it’s like, they can’t afford the heat.
Right. Because like, They just can’t it’s too quick now, you
Jeff: know? Yeah. I mean said, I think you create some fantastic character and I think another interesting development in the first issue that is worth discussing Fannie and laws are revealed to be at, at the very least by, but [00:40:00] definitely lesbians in that first issue during a time period where they are not, that would not be accepted in society.
So. And the way I looked at it, it was almost like that’s almost a metaphor. The idea that they’re living in the shadows, that part of their light has to be exist in the shadows in Norton, regular society, just like vampirism is, is a existence that it has to be in the shadows. We make it like a metaphor for that having to live outside society in that way.
Or at least at that time, obviously not.
Eliot Rehal: There is like, you know, the adept grenade kind of like, you know, that’s why like the vampirism allows them. I think the power to move freely, like openly, but at the same time, they’re still, they still can’t reveal like, like that they’re vampires. That’s what they can’t do.
So yeah, there is definitely mixing in my, you know, and I, you know, again, I try to be very gentle. I’m not trying to take anybody’s stories like, you know, and like, I, I hear a great deal of anxiety about that. Cause I don’t want to [00:41:00] like. You know, reap the harvest of LGBTQ plus community, but like they’re also vampires.
They’re going to fuck each other.
Like I had to do something, otherwise it would have like a vampire book without any sex. Like
Jeff: what the fuck is that? But I like that. I mean, I think it was held, I think, true in a game once again, another layer to these characters. Once again, it gives us a sense of their existence. It gave us. And I think once again, it’s also good to have representation in, in, in a book like this as well.
That once again is not often discussed in a lot of mainstream media
Eliot Rehal: still. Yeah. I mean, I try, I mean, I, you know, again, I’m not an expert in, like I had great editorial help assisting me in a lot of grace and, and people helping me, you know, the last thing I wanted to, you know, when you’re talking about anxiety, like he might biggest fear is that [00:42:00] he’s hurting somebody, you know, emotionally with my work.
I don’t wanna, you know, I didn’t get into this. Resist to do something, you know, unethical or untoward. And that’s what keeps me up at night. If I’m being perfectly honest with you. Ah, but I’d like, again, great team and people helping me along the way. And so I’m getting through that.
Jeff: Well, I found it wonderfully handled.
I mean, it was handled, I think was some definite sensitivity and I do think. It didn’t, it did not feel the right word for it. It didn’t feel forced. It felt like a natural relationship. And at that moment, and I think that was well, very well handled in my opinion. And the other thing,
like I said it was just my 2 cents. For, for what that’s worth, which I apparently is probably a 2 cents. Anyways the other thing I’ve found that if I’m funny about the story and as it’s going to lead into dealing with the Nazis, and I find it interesting once again, the idea of 1940s deal with the Nazis and the fact that we’re still in 2020, still dealing with the Nazis.
[00:43:00] Yeah, it definitely is. That was part of the, on your mind, like, Hey, I’m writing this story about Ford, where to find the Nazis and. Well, there’s one that, you know, right out on the television right now. Let me, was that, is that something you were kind of thinking about as well in producing that
Eliot Rehal: maybe here’s the thing I think about Nazis way too much because they keep me up at night.
The Nazis were 19, you know, the book starts in 1940. Right. And, and, and I was already you’re concerned because the Wilkerson 1941, that people knew where this was going to go. And, and I was delighted to find out that they didn’t know it was going to go and go. So that made me happy because like, if I’m reading something like this and I’m like, Oh, And they’re going to ship them off to world war II.
That’s the obvious what’s going to happen. But you know one, I put them in there one, cause it’s another good, bad guy to kill, like Nazis, traditionally the perfect bad guy. Right. It’s a binary. Like we can’t [00:44:00] let these people continue. Right. Like you have to stop them. So that’s good. But also too on a, like, Again, not to get weird, but on a philosophical note, they, I wouldn’t put him anywhere.
I wouldn’t put him in any war. Like it would work in Vietnam, world war one. It wouldn’t have mattered. Right. Because like, no matter how, quote, unquote, just your war is obviously world war two being, you know, people pointed that as like, you know, the just war, right? Like, no matter. Know how convinced we are of the, like the truth of our cars, like defensive demanders that war on, on its own right.
Is chaos, right? Like the like war, like that kind of violence and that kind of [00:45:00] existence is. Pure chaos. Right. And chaos and bytes, all of these different things. Right. And, but like, and that is why I had to go. There is because they are beings of chaos. They are beings of people who thrive in chaos. Chaos is where they thrive.
Right. And we as human beings,
Jeff: Do not thrive in
Eliot Rehal: chaos. Like we don’t do like sustained chaos is not sustainable for a human person. And that, and that’s why I put them there is because then you all can ask, we get chaos. They are a like, and violence and war in that kind of, and that kind of hate, like, you know, it creates a storm in and, and it.
And that’s why I put them there because that kind of storm is the perfect cover. Right? Like it allows you to hide in plain sight [00:46:00] in a way that. I think serves the plot and also serves them as characters. Right.
Jeff: And, and I think the other thing I think, I thought it was interesting and the importance of, I think Nazis is I, I feel like the Nazis are the only group of individuals that you can go.
Yeah, I’m ready for the vampires. You know what I’m saying? I mean, It is. I mean, there’s only group. You can go like, yeah, the vampires are monster, but at least they’re not the fucking Nazis. You know,
that there was a CR apparently there was a crossover, a a captain America. Batman crossover issue and it hasn’t had the joker and he was teaming up with the red skull. And there’s a moment in the issue where he real, yeah. He realized that the red skull is a Nazi. He’s like son of a bitch. I might be, I might be a villain, but at least I’m not one of those, those people, you know, and even the joker had to against the Nazi.
Even the joke I bet is he is, at least was not a Nazi. And I thought that was a very entertaining thing about the vampires. At least they’re not them.
Eliot Rehal: Well, because if you think about the Joker’s [00:47:00] characters, like the Joker’s whole thing is he’s chaotic, evil, right? He’s nihilistic credo, right. And in a Nazi is lawful evil.
Like Nazi’s whole thing is like they’re, they’re, they’re weaponized controlled, mechanical, evil. And like that is, what’s so scary about them. And so like, you know, The joker might hate Batman, or he might hate captain or Erica because they represent institutionalism. Like the flip side of it is that Nazis also represent institutionalism just to
Eliot Rehal: different side of it.
Jeff: Right, right. And so Emily, how did it, how did you feel when you knew. Yeah, I’m making a draw, killing some Nazis here that I like, do you enjoy the, you know, the, the violent aspects of of the war? Did you enjoy more like the more luxurious, you know, like drawing Cuba and things of that nature?
Emily Pearson: Yeah.
It’s, it’s interesting. Cause it was like, There’s some times I [00:48:00] really enjoy trying Gore. And then there’s some times there’s like, Oh, I have to look up like, someone’s head being exploded today or something
Jeff: like that.
Emily Pearson: No, it’s interesting. I feel like. Like you don’t ever expect to draw like Nazis or anything like that when you’re like an artist it’s like, so it’s like a new experience in that sort of way. But, you know, honestly it was, it was fun going through the scenes in Cuba because I think just like that whole sequence was so like, It’s just such a fight happening all at once.
No, it was just really fun to try and get that down on paper. Just random, like so random, like attack coming from the vampires and all that.
Jeff: Well, well, I think one of the things the cover of issue two is absolutely wonderful. And I mean, it’s a beautiful looking cover issue too. I love the contrast between the life and personality [00:49:00] of Franklin and the loving life of Lost and Fanny, how did you come up with the design for that cover?
Emily Pearson: Thank you. It was, I was looking at a bunch of like world war two, like era, movie posters, and just kind of seeing like, like, it has a lot of all the detective Newark, the movie posters have that same sort of look too where you have like. The big shot or the big the biggest person on the poster is like the beautiful Holden.
And then you have all like the different movie poster formats of all the other characters. So I think I think that was really fun to try to do something like that. We have a couple of different covers leaders throughout the other issues that kind of do like movie poster stuff or just different stuff in the time period as well.
So I think it’s an easy way to show like what time period the issue is right away.
Jeff: Now, when you’re,
Eliot Rehal: when you’re
Jeff: working on your covers is it a, as part of this, is it a discussion with Elliot? Is, are you kind of doing your own [00:50:00] thing and deciding for yourself, like the essence of the issue? Are you reading the issue first and going, you know, I want to represent what this one issue represents in a cover, how you designing
Emily Pearson: it.
So I think all the covers I did after I completed all the issues. I think so. Yeah. And like for each one I would just talk to Elliot and our editor Jasmine be like, okay, so these are my sketches. And then they all decide on what to do. We’d all like, and then I would just go forward with that and have a thread color and yeah, it was pretty.
Easy to just like, you know, show a couple of different options to then work out what everyone is kind of into the gray zone.
Jeff: Yeah. And I definitely would say that the there’s such beauty to your art. I mean, even the violence themes, it looks beautiful on, on that page. And going back, as I mentioned before w what issue too, and it starts off in Cuba once again is you make Cuba look exceptional.
Its lushest [00:51:00] what kind of once again, just like I asked when you were doing in Chicago, Once again, are you, how deep into the research for Cuba did you get or for those scenes?
Emily Pearson: Oh not too much, honestly. I feel like with something like that, it’s like, like something like fashion they’re wearing the outfits are the whole issue.
So I think there’s a little bit more research into like, making sure it’s consistent, but with the, with something like Cuba, it’s only like. They’re they’re they’re the most of the time, but you only see the environment for a couple of pages. So I think it’s a little bit less research for something like that.
It’s just, you know, either one, it’s the same thing. Just looking at a bunch of photos on Google or Pinterest and, you know, seeing which ones for you turn off.
Jeff: So for you, is it the details that matter or is it the feeling that matters when, when you’re doing a particular panel?
Emily Pearson: I’m not sure. Maybe a bit of both. I think it’s, I think there was one thing I can’t remember who said it, but. [00:52:00] Like per common food panel, either writing or drive it, you kind of want to get the action emotion and, you know, whatever it is, the studying or the dialogue down for each panel. And I think that’s just kind of what I think about when I’m going panel by panel making a page.
Jeff: So then is it how many issues is, is it planned for, it’s gonna be an ongoing as a mini-series
you said five issues. So how far ahead are you both in creating the, is it complete no five issues
Eliot Rehal: it’s been done? I, I do lettering changes like, you know but that’s it, I
Emily Pearson: think Tweed, is there any more issues? I think, I think it’s mostly done by now. Yeah.
Eliot Rehal: Yeah. I mean, like when I say it’s done, I say like, I’m done.
Yeah. I mean, I think issues four, five still need to be colored. And I gotta take a look at issue four and I just turned in some lettering edits on [00:53:00] three, which is you know, how many of these issues have you read?
Jeff: I, I I’ve read the first two.
Eliot Rehal: Okay. They don’t end up in Cuba. Delicious three, I think.
Unless I’m wrong,
Jeff: the first page of issue two, they this as a, the first two pages or at least the first page happens in Cuba. I think that’s only Felix, there maybe. But yeah. It’s yeah, I read it. I read the stories yesterday, so I’m pretty sure there’s a Cuba is in the first page or so of issue too.
Eliot Rehal: Yeah, but,
Jeff: well, yeah, definitely feel free to check. I mean, I, yeah, my memory on that is it’s pretty, like I said, it was yesterday, so I’m probably ready.
So Once the five issues are complete, it it’s set up for future series or is it going to be, or the five and done?
Eliot Rehal: Well, I mean, this, this, this series is written to be self-contained. However, I do know it’s equal and dying am pitching it. And like, you know, they’re [00:54:00] just, you know, they’re basically telling me, yeah, we like it.
But and I haven’t spoken to you Emily about this. I’ll tell you about it now, basically like, let’s wait, we’re gonna wait until you know, trade paperback and, and how it performs, which is. Hold for the course for Oni for us. But I always try, I was trying to dig in there and like, I’m like, Oh, let’s go.
Let’s go. Let’s go. But a book publishers are slow paced people and you know, they definitely like have to roll up a newspaper and hit me on the nose. So
Jeff: is it hard for both you and Emily to be in that situation where you kind of. You honestly, you have these plans that you want to do this other book, this other series, the next maybe cul at the same time, you can base your future life on what could happen.
What I’m saying is it becomes, it does become a scheduling problem.
Eliot Rehal: Yeah. It’s a challenge.
Jeff: I as soon as is it more for the artists? Because I think the writers can be multiple [00:55:00] issues. The artists, like, as Emily said earlier, you’re kind of, you have to do the one. Yeah,
Emily Pearson: I think, I mean, it depends on the situation, but I think most people are most publishers and writers and everything are pretty understanding, but like if we, if we have a like, cause every.
Every pitch that talked over with people is taking about like six months to a year to get to the point where, you know, like it’s out. So I think I think most people are understanding if you need more time. Like, if you’re like, if I’m in the middle of drawing a book and something like advanced SQL, it gets picked up.
It’s like, okay, well, can we do this after I finished drawing this book and you know, Like I haven’t met any,
I haven’t met anyone. That’s like waiting for it.
Jeff: What can readers expect in future issues of vein after issues? After she, to at three, four or five,
Eliot Rehal: You try to love and death and decay know.
Jeff: How about you, Emily? What any, can you give us any heads [00:56:00] on some of the great artwork that we have that we can look forward to seeing?
Emily Pearson: Well, I can say that you should issue looks a little bit better because I improve over it, but it’s essentially the, you know, the same style, the same sort of themes.
I think. We get to see more trusted changes in time periods over the next couple of issues. I think the first to kind of stay within like, was it the same like 15 years or so? So you get more of a assist or it goes on.
Jeff: So but right before I let you guys go is there anything else you guys, or any projects you’re working on that you want to give a quick plug to.
Eliot Rehal: Is she too comes in next week also order my new book from aftershock comics. Knock ’em
Jeff: dead. Fantastic. How about you, Emily?
Eliot Rehal: I don’t
Emily Pearson: think I really have anything coming out.
There’s a vault project.
Eliot Rehal: I’m not sure if you haven’t
Emily Pearson: really stayed on my head. So just go by Elliot’s book.
Jeff: Fantastic. All [00:57:00] right. Well, thank you guys so much.