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Ron Randall – Trekker Hunters Moon
This is spoiler country and I’m Melissa today on the show I’m thrilled to have on the legendary comic book artist, mr. Ron Randall. Welcome back to the show. Thanks very much, Melissa. Thanks so much for being here. How are you today? Just fine. having a great time.
Well, as we were talking before, you’ve been on the show several times. This is our first time chatting, so I’m really excited. so I’d like to just kind of get some info, background info. How did you get into the business of comics? Oh, well, my origin story, you want my origin story? Well, when I was, when I was a little kid, comics were pretty much ubiquitous.
They were all around. and, I describe it as I, I viewed comic books the way I viewed candy bars, they were just part of a kid’s life. and you’d you took them for granted. You never thought very [00:02:00] seriously. And that was pretty young, you know, about where these things came from. You just went to the store, you’d buy a candy bar, you get a comic book, you know?
but, what early on, when I was in grade school, I ran into a kid who, A classmate of mine. we became buddies and that was always Houseman time. And we were playing and I saw that he had these stacks of comic books and there were sorted by different categories, by different authors and titles and stuff.
And, and for some reason, a light bulb sort of went off in my brain when I realized that people actually. Made these for a living. It wasn’t like a spat out of some, you know, dispenser machine they were actually created. And I thought. That would be a cool thing to do. so that kind of, that kind of planted the seed, I guess I’d say, and little young Roddy Randall’s brain, around second, third, fourth grade, shortly thereafter, this friend and me and a few other guys, we started, you know, making up our own characters and doing our own little drawings.
Yeah. And as the [00:03:00] years went by, one at a time the other, these guys will drift off and monitor. You know, I’m being distracted by other hobbies and other interests. And for whatever reason, I never stopped. I something kicked in with me and I just, kept at it. So I can’t explain it. I just can’t explain it, but it, it, it, it bid.
Even hard with me. Yeah, no, that’s great. and you’ve worked with some pretty big names in the industry, dark horse, DC, Marvel, just to name a few. how did those experience sort of shape who you are as an artist? well, let’s see. How can I, the thing that happened before I started working for decent marble, when you say, what shaped me, the first thing that comes to mind is one of the, when I was coming up, one of the great.
Legendary artists writers at the time was a guy named Joe Kubert, who created, you know, Hawk man, and, worked on the flashback in the golden age of comics. And he created Sergeant rock. And NMEA said he did a legendary run, of Tarzan comics to DC comics. And I was as a kid, I just worshiped [00:04:00] this guy storytelling, and I want to.
Getting to go to the school that he had started in New Jersey. and so that was something that was really shaped a lot of my, My career because Joe instilled a passion for storytelling and a sense of hard nose, sort of pragmatic professional approach to doing something you’re passionate about, which is not an easy combination to make work out.
so that really set my trajectory in a lot of ways. So working at DC, working at Marvel, and then later at dark horse, you just, it just sort of reinforced or, Reiterated a lot of those lessons I’d got from Joe about the approach that I felt you needed to take to make it in this business.
And that’s part of you has to be sort of, you know, very, you know, again, very pragmatic about it. You’ve got to get the work done. You’ve got to get it done to a certain level of professionalism and you can’t be precious about it. The pages done it’s good. It goes because it’s gotta be printed. You know, those comics.
Regular monthly [00:05:00] schedule. And if you blew a deadline, there was a chance that publisher is going to, they’ve already paid for the press time. And if the book doesn’t show up in time, they eat that loss. And then you have to print the book again. They have to basically pay to have it printed twice, essentially.
So a lot of people getting into comics don’t understand that reality and they think that they’re getting into comics and it’s the way to be just, you know, an RTS to the Capitol, a, and it ain’t that it’s just not, you can get away with that and you can blow deadlines and you can, Alienate editors.
And you can get away with that by playing a shell game for a while, but sooner or later, it catches up with you. And unless you’re one of the handful of like the top five guys in the business, you can’t get away with that for a sustained period of time. And even if you do, you’re kind of being a jerk.
Yeah. Yeah. No, the book industry is very, you know, similar. yeah, you have deadlines and you have to be professional. Yeah. There’s time to be [00:06:00] creative. And then there’s a time to say, you know what? I can only edit so much. It’s got to go to the editor. Cause they, they have a release state. and like you said, there’s money on the line.
So very similar. But yeah, a lot of people don’t, that are get just getting into it. They don’t realize all that they think is just gonna be fun and games and sit back. But there is a, it’s a business, that’s a job. When I talked to like a classroom of kids, there’s something about comics. And it starts off with usually sort of a show and tells session where I show some of the work that I’ve done and asked them what they think the most important, you know, ability to have to.
To make it in this field. And it’s a trick question cause what I expect them to answer it. And what they usually do say is you have to be able to draw really well. And I say that’s very important. It’s maybe the fifth or sixth most important thing in the job, but the most important thing in my job. And I’m sure it’s true when you’re a prose writer too, is you have got to, you got to enjoy sitting in a room all by yourself, creating without anybody.
Patting you on the head or giving [00:07:00] you a little treats, you know, it’s got to be internally driven thing cause otherwise you won’t, you can’t force yourself to sit down and write or draw enough to get them good enough to get in the business. And then to be able to produce enough to stay in the business.
We are artists, we are creative and at the same time we have to conduct it like a business. So every page. There’s that war going on? How good can I afford to make this page before I have to move on to the next and fight the next battle? I’ll do better next time. yeah. Yeah. It’s the ads putting your button, the chair and establishing a routine really?
Cause you know, if you went, wait for inspiration to strike, you’ll be waiting forever. You have to create it. Yeah, definitely. so what was your. and this might be a question that you might not be able to answer, but what was your favorite a comic to work gone in your career? That really just.
Made you go, wow, this is, I did make the right decision. Well, this has been incredibly [00:08:00] self-serving answer, but I swear it’s the absolute truth. And that is, the book that I’m working on right now, which is Trekker tracker is, the title that I had this golden and very rare opportunity in comics.
I was when I first started working for dark horse today. They invited me to work for them when they were just starting out. And I, and working in the business for a few years was doing a regular monthly gig at DC comics. And dark horse said, if you’d come and work for us, we will pay you and you can do whatever you want, which is like the, the refusal often you can’t, you know?
so I got to create my dream series. I took them exactly at their word saying that I could do what I want, not what I thought would be a big hit or what would be easy for them to sell. It would be, you know, commercially viable, but just what would I most want to do. So I assembled. The series, they just answered that question for myself and myself only as best we could.
So I created a series. It was, it checked all the box, moon and science fiction [00:09:00] series. It’s about a young woman. Who’s a bounty Hunter. at the time this is back in the mid 1980s. There weren’t very many science fiction comics out there. There were very few female different comics out there. There were almost no comic books that were science search and female driven where the hero dressed and acted and behaved anything like w.
Realistic. so I wanted to get through who dressed as if her job was to go out and bring down, you know, killers. So she has pads and straps and gears. She’s not prancing around in high heels and cleavage and all that sort of stuff, because I felt I needed to make this character really believable. or I wouldn’t believe in my own series.
I wouldn’t, you know, I wouldn’t be able to sustain my own interest in it anyway. So yeah. So, that’s a series that I created and, my primary goal was to. I mean, I felt I could tell a story pretty good, you know, action, adventure tale. Cause I’ve been drawing them for a number of years, but to craft a series, I knew it [00:10:00] had to be about more than that.
So it’s about this young woman’s life journey. And I’m trying to make that as compelling and believable and realistic and complex and nuanced, as I, journey as I can. And I disguise it as a series of self contained action, adventure, science fiction comics. So, So Trek is the checkers. the number one for me.
Oh, go ahead. Sorry, go ahead. I would just say, you know, not to do a disservice to a lot of the other books that I have were done, where it was a hired gun. for DC and dark horse and Marvel, I’ve got a chance to work on Supergirl on swamping and star Wars and star Trek and justice league and, swamp thing and editor.
And, I had a lot of fun working on a lot of. A lot of great titles. but that’s all the, I just, I say that’s like babysitting somebody else’s child, you know? Cause you, cause when you work in those jobs, to an extent you’re a caretaker, it is a property that does not belong to you. And you it’s an honor to be [00:11:00] able to, you know, be a little part of the legacy of those characters.
and again, I’m not trying to take anything away from them, but, Tr Trekker comes from just the guts of who I am and it’s, you know, everything I want to say in comics with this sort of storytelling that I do, I can funnel it all into the pages of tracker. Yeah. Well, I was going to ask you actually, you might kind of answered it already, but is it, do you find it easier or harder to work on original material or an already established universe?
Boy, that’s a really good question. I. I don’t know, I have a good answer for you. And the reason is that when I’m working on something, it’s established, be a chore to try to find your way into that. you have to come, but your version of, or your take on an established character that is as far as possible, at least it feels this way.
You’re true to what’s there. And yet try to give it a little bit of your own flavor, your own spin on it as well. And that can be a fine line to walk where you’re not violating. [00:12:00] Too much of one or the other, it seems. yeah, but at the same time, you’re in those cases, I’ve always, it’s been, I’ve given a script, there’s sort of a template down there and you can just go along with that.
So, so some of that work is easier. because of the part of the job that’s already established for you to follow through on, whereas doing something like Trek or, you know, the buck starts and stops with me. I mean, I do the job soup to nuts. I came with a concept for the series. I come up with the outlines, I write the stories, I do the penciling into the, anything I do the coloring, I do the letter and do all that now myself.
and that’s a lot of hats to wear and I can’t. Pass the buck along to anybody else. So it’s, I just say that it’s, that’s trekkers the most, the most intense and the most demanding and exhausting, job I do. And it’s also far and away the most rewarding for those exact same reasons.
Right because you know that it’s completely 100% your vision and whether or not however it’s received. And I [00:13:00] know it’s and received extremely well. but you get to, you know, full responsibility and credit for all of that. And I feel there is a bigger sense of accomplishment. Yeah. When, you know, you’ve done it yourself.
Exactly. when not when I’m at, back when we had conventions, that was too long. Yeah. Fondly remember those days. But, when somebody would come up to my, my booth and say, I really liked, you know, the, those issues of superhero that you do or something that’s, it’s very nice to hear that they like to my rendition of the character and, and all that, But when somebody comes up to me and says, I love mercy st.
Claire, which is the name of the character tracker that it’s like the secret handshake to the club. It’s like, that’s a message from a kindred spirit. I mean, it just goes a lot more deeper into me because it comes from a. Deeper place in me, you know, I mean, with Trekker, all of my sensibilities, my temperaments, my values, a lot of who I am as a human being, find its way into those stories.
And so when someone says, yeah, I liked that, you know, I feel that, yeah, they like a lot of this stuff [00:14:00] that’s really in my heart. And, so that’s an intense, that’s an intense, yeah, that resonates more. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And so. You’ve mentioned this earlier. You’ve been creating this comic tracker for a long time since the late eighties.
And so how has it evolved from then to now in lots of ways? first I guess I should say people who don’t know sort of the history of tracker. I have not been working on it solidly since the mid eighties. it’s had, Long periods where the stories had to have been interrupted for business reasons, publishing reasons and that sort of stuff, which has been very frustrating for me.
so now in the last several years, I’ve gotten back to it and now it’s, you know, I’m able to produce the stories in a full time, regular basis again, so that’s great. but there was a long period of time when there was a period, there was a 12 year. Gap of time when I didn’t get to work on trickery at all, which was just horrible, but, there’s reasons for that.
but in a way to try to answer your direct [00:15:00] question, when I first started tracker, I had not written more than one or two or three, maybe very short stories professionally in comics. I had been doing some writing on my own and stuff, but Trekker from going, I was transitioning. Transitioning from being a professional artist, to being somebody who had to create and.
Shape and then present an entire series, a whole different set of issues. So, I was thrilled and enthusiastic about it and completely in over my head, but at least I knew that. So while I knew I had this idea of a large, expensive scaled science fiction, you know, something like dune, I wanted something really big.
I knew what I knew. I wasn’t a writer. I didn’t have the chops to do that when I was first starting out. So. The first several stories. I, like I said, I sort of took smaller bites. I thought I’ll do a self contained story. That’s sort of an action crime thing, about this bounty Hunter after the bad guys and getting tangled up with [00:16:00] a gang and stuff.
I think I can, I think I can land that ship, but. I wanted it from the very first story I planted seeds for characters and made references to, organizations and forces at play in the larger universe that those were planting seeds for the series that I wanted this thing to grow into. and for the first several, stories, as I say, it was, you know, it was on a schedule and I had to come out.
So I was kind of having to a largest sense, sort of make it up as I went along. Which isn’t the most successful way to tell a story that can hang together cohesively over a period of years, right? it’s challenging. Yeah. So one of the. Benefits from all those interruptions that I had when I couldn’t be working on tracker was I was able to, that stuff sort of germinated and distilled within me and clarified itself.
I just became much better at my craft as both a writer and as an artist. So that by the time I was able to return to Trekker a number of years ago, I can say, [00:17:00] and really I got back to when I could get back to, without having to interrupt it anymore. That was the main. Thing was waiting to have happen. So now I’m at the point where I just feel much more in command of my skills and I have by now a very clear plan and an outline for the series.
Where it’s going and the broad beats of how I’m going to get there. so it’s, I just feel at this point, the focus is tighter. I think I’m hoping I’m delivering this stories that are more, you know, more effective and a more muscular meaning. I hope that there wasn’t any flag there isn’t any, we don’t.
Wandering to take any detours down these paths. I want everything that’s in every issue to in some way, build towards where we’re going. so that’s a lot of big changes. But I’m hoping that there’s also rudeness and I’ve fortunately, I’ve heard reports from readers who read some of the early stories and then followed through to the ones I’m telling now.
And it’s important that there was a continuity there that the whole series [00:18:00] hold together, that there aren’t, these abrupt changes in tone or style or delivery or approach. The whole series is. Supposed to be one coherent whole, so that’s okay. Okay. Yeah. I was going to ask you about that as well. if they were episodic in the sense where as a new newcomer to the series, would they need to go back and read the first issue or can they read them out of order?
Do w which do you prefer to really get a sense of it? Oh, well, As the guy who’s telling the whole thing. I prefer to people to read page one right up until now, you know? Right. but it’s, but also as, iPad the experience of going to the new stand and picking up a comic book because it caught my eye and buying it and taking home and reading it and having no idea about what I just read because I’ve gotten, yeah.
Maybe there’ve been 12 issues of this particular, the story arc that account before the one that I picked up. And for former shoes, they didn’t happen afterwards before the story gets resolved. And, that drives me nuts, especially when I’m [00:19:00] cause the format I’m doing the stories and now I’m using Kickstarter to fund graphic novel.
So there was enough length in a graphic novel that while it’s only one portion of this large overall story arc of mercy, st. Claire is gradually evolution as a human being. Let’s say that’s what the series is about, but this story. In this particular volume has a beginning, a middle and an end to that adventure.
I want to read it to be able to come across any random issue of a Trekker trade paper back, pick it up and read it, know who she is, what the world’s about. See this story begin here, bring it through to its resolution. It should be a completely satisfying read. and then you just say that was good.
And now I see that there’s going to be. Did there’s more stuff coming and it probably, there was some cool stuff that happened before this. Yes. So then they might want to go back and read and then carry on. But, I don’t think you should get to the end of a graphic novel. That can be whatever it is, you know, a hundred pages long, whatever.
[00:20:00] And have it say to be continued. I mean, in a way the journey is all continue until I get to the final. Page at the last story, but I want each book to feel like you, you close that last page and says, man, that was a great thrill ride. I can’t wait for another one. Oh my gosh. I don’t know how this story is going to be resolved.
And then I have to wake up for another one. So, They haven’t worked on that level. Yeah. Oh, that’s great. I know you touched on this earlier, too. I came across a, Gail Simone comic book writer called your main character, mercy, Saint Claire, sexy, but not sexualized. And how important was that to you to make sure that came across when you were creating her.
it was the number. It was basically the number one, one thing. you know, I liked like, just about every artist. I know I enjoy drawing a sexy character, but, you know, there’s, I mean, you can just, it’s so easy for that to become cheap and pandering and dehumanize. and as I say, I was going to be doing.
The whole job [00:21:00] on this story. So it was all on my show and it was going to take, I knew it was going to take everything I had and I just couldn’t devote myself to something that I, that seemed. cheap or easy. And so I set a big challenge for myself and I mean, I knew that I was exposing myself to the possibility of some criticism.
If I didn’t do it well, if the character didn’t seem. Convincing and believable, you know, and I’m a dude and I’m trying to write from a point of view of a woman character, who I wanted to be just as real and feel like a human being as possible. And, so I just gave it the best shot I could, you know, and, fortunately there were.
And are some strong, extraordinary women in my life. And so I borrowed it a bits of personality and insights from them and a lot of just from inside myself. Cause you know yeah. And in the end she’s a human being, the characters I am and you know, the reactions [00:22:00] that she would have, I just think just any rational being, or sometimes interactions would act very similarly.
I just, yeah. And that was the. The main point of the entire exercise to me was a character that sort of checked through that I could be sitting at my table at one of these conventions. And then this is the most flattering thing, right? It happened in the early first couple of years was I was at a convention and more than once a guy would come up to me and says, Trekker is the only comic book that I can get my girlfriend to read.
Wow. And it was, I mean, nothing was more validating to me than to hear that. yeah, that’s a huge compliment. Yeah. That’s exactly what I took. I mean, I just felt like, well, you know, that’s kind of mission accomplished in a way. Oh yeah, definitely. And you know, as a female growing up in the eighties comic books, weren’t.
Really marketed, or geared towards women back then. Right? I didn’t start reading comics until I was in my early twenties, I think. And I feel like now there are more women reading comics, but we’re still only about [00:23:00] 25%. I think, of the fans. Do you see that number growing and what do you think needs to happen to get more female readers?
I think it’s growing. and I think what needs to happen is what’s. Well, again, we there’s been a big pause on the whole convention, but at least from my, and I’m just one guy working in the trenches, I don’t have, I don’t have a broad overview perspective of the entire industry or the entire marketplace or whatever it is.
But, from my, in the trenches, you know, perspective, going to conventions. When I first started going to conventions, there were almost women in, at the comic convention. Right. And at first, when I first started this a number of years ago, I think, well, is that just my imagination? Right. But then I heard, I was, Karen Berger was, who was, Major editor at DC comics, who was responsible for getting Alan Moore to come over and write swamp thing.
And, that, that created the vertigo line at ATT, which [00:24:00] had a lot to do with duration. That was a huge evolutionary step was taken in comic books in a lot. A lot of that is on Karen burger’s shoulders. Anyway, one time Karen was saying. on a panel or something that she said, yeah, it was the San Diego con and it was being maybe two other women in the whole building.
And that’s, well, that seems to sort of validate my impression and you go to a convention now and the place is just it’s feels to me like it’s 50, 50 there’s as many yeah. Women. Is there a man, some of the cos players, a lot of them are artists, you know, creatives that are tabling all around me. And then of course, a lot of them are the attendees too.
and, I just, I think it’s a, it’s just it’s happening. I believe it’s happening, you know, sooner or later, a lot of those attendees, you gonna get the edge, they’re going to start creating their own comics too. And, you know, women creating comics, people of character, creating comics are just going to make the whole industry that much more, you know, inclusive and, Right.
Yeah. yeah. And frankly, I remember thinking in numbers, you have [00:25:00] all these women being around it’s the guys are going to have to be on, you know, just going to keep us honest. Yeah. Just I’m behaving ourselves like grownups now, not like this indulgent, you know, adolescent power, fantasy, you know, all this stuff that comics were sort of stuck in that awkward adolescents here in America a lot longer than they were in Europe and in Asia, Europe up in Asia comics were being used to tell all kinds of stories, to all kinds of readers and all the genres and styles of presentation.
So that’s another thing that’s had a massive impact was when that when comic books, you know, which were created here and then they immigrated across the oceans. And then when they started coming back here, I think that woke a lot of, Local creators up to say, we’ve got to step up our game because this industry, this art form is maturing and growing up around us, we have to find better voices to use more and more.
Growing up the voices he used to get our job done more relatable for everyone. Yeah. Well, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And I felt [00:26:00] that too. I’ve been going to comic cons for probably about five, six years. And I usually go to the Seattle Emerald city comic con that’s a great show. That’s my favorite and my friend lives there.
So I go visit her. We get to go to comic con and I felt that as you were describing, when I was there, it was very welcoming. I didn’t feel, you know, there was lots of women, lots of people that looked like me, you know? And so it was very nice to just be able to walk up to a comic book, you know, a table like image or dark horse.
And there was no. Judgment or condescension at all. It was just, you were equal. So that has been nice to feel that change. Yeah. And I think that’s what it takes is just, safety in numbers or something like that. If you walk into a place and you don’t see anybody in that building in that room, that Gavin, that looks like you and, you know, whatever category you want to put that in, you.
You’re just aware of that and it can make a difference. So, you know, the hats have to go off [00:27:00] to the first whatever wave of women that started going to conventions and, you know, and then manage the beads down the door and make their way into the business. And, and all those, you know, all those things, And again, I don’t have the perspective of being a woman as an attendee or as a creator or as a reader.
So I can’t speak definitively about this. I can just say from my perspective, where I go to these kids, why lift my head up from my table at the convention? I see a sea of men and women, girls and boys, and, it’s it’s. It’s a lot more pleasant. It’s a lot more fun and stimulating just more.
Yeah, exactly. I mean, so many more types of stories being told and, it’s just, you know, it’d be flex. It reflects humanity better when we have, when you have that going on. Yeah, I don’t know. And also I have getting back to actual creating comics too. I know that the creator of wonder woman, William Mars, and I believe that he there’s been, you know, a documentary [00:28:00] just sort of how the women in his life actually influenced him to write.
Wonder woman create wonder woman. So there’s that aspect too, where there was a, probably more, just not admittedly comic book writers back in the day that did have help from women. But at the time it just wasn’t accepted for the woman to take any credit possibly. Totally. Yeah. And there were women working in comics.
Yeah. They just tend to not to be a Trump did tend not to be highlighted as much as it was to, you know, just about any business or industry that women were involved in. It was like they were there, but it was, you know, it wasn’t talking, it was almost not talking right now. We look back and yeah, shake your head with disbelief.
But that was just. We just don’t upset the Apple cart or whatever the hell was going on. Yeah. But, so from the very beginning, there were, you know, women working in comics, but, and also, you know, back in the, you know, the forties, fifties, even in the sixties, [00:29:00] Usually those people writing and drawing the comics.
Weren’t, you know what credited with the work in major ways, the creators weren’t, the personalities weren’t featured. It was the characters that would feature the most. That started to change in the, in the mid to late sixties. Stan promoting himself in the line of Marvel comics to his personality, as much as it’s about anything else that he could, and giving nicknames to Jack Kirby.
And, and then a few years later when Neil Adams came into the business, and was just so phenomenally overqualified to draw comic books that he sort of single handedly forced the, the publishers first to DC, and then at Marvel to. to shine more of a spotlight on the, the creators that were making the books for them.
but anyway, so, so now we’ve got to this thing where you’ve got certain, you know, superstar writers and artists and all that sort of stuff. So all sorts of dynamics at play with all that stuff. Yeah, absolutely. And like in the, one of the trends that’s been happening in [00:30:00] our fiction book, novel industry is indeed books.
And I believe comic books now have an indie market and that’s been growing. Have you seen any. Changes in that or anything that’s been contributing to that specifically? Do you encourage the N D market? Oh yeah. I mean, that’s been, there’s a long history of that actually. I mean, heck he goes back to the sixties when there were, you know, underground comic books, And then, and I don’t want to be kind of want to make this too much like a history lesson, but, the way comics were distributed.
So this a little bit of business talk here, which I am, which is not my expertise, but, you know, comic books were originally distributed through what they call the new Stan market. So the books would be put on trucks and taken and sent the new standards. In big cities where you’d be selling all the newspapers and time magazine.
And there’d be a stack of little comic books for the boy, the little kiddies too, you know, and a few companies sort of, had, [00:31:00] had control if you comment Republican pretty much had control of the way, those of the distribution of comics in that matter. So if you try to start up another, the, of a company, you came up with the fact that.
You were blocked and getting your books distributed and put out into stores hard to sell comic books when they do not store shelves. So little companies would start up and fade and couldn’t make it. And then in the, late seventies, early eighties, the, they changed the way comics were distributed, started to change.
And you had, individual comic book shops. We began where they would buy the comics directly from the publishers and sell them through the comic shops. And it was a game changer and that allow little companies like dark horse and eclipse and Camico, and first, to start publishing because they no longer had to go through the same distribution system that they basically DC and Marvel had sort of a stranglehold on.
So, So since then, this, indigent and market grew up and then as DC I’m as dark horse and some of those companies [00:32:00] became bigger players and more. You know, maybe call those, you know, major marketing hires. Then another wave of independence have come up now. And now with the advent of the internet, you’ve got web comics and a very small press publishers and what I’m using Kickstarter, you can be, as I am an individual creator, I’m basically self publishing my own comic.
With the backing with the direct backing of the supporters who just want to pay me directly to get, yeah, my comic from me. So again, it’s whole other evolutionary step. if you go to Kickstarter and browse through the, The comics and graphic novels, you know, section there, your head can spin.
There are thousands. Yeah. Any just about anything you can imagine, you can find people trying to do straight ahead and sort of superhero comics. I’m sure. They’d say with their own spin on it. But, and then there’s science fiction things and there’s, you know, bio comics, auto bio comics and fantasy comics and the, and with his wide range of people, [00:33:00] you can, some people that just, it’s the first thing.
It’s a passion project, it’s their hobby. It’s they just want to get it out there. And then there’s people like me, who’ve been working in the business for years and we’ve got our story that we want to take all of our. Experienced in our professional chops and marry that with our passion and put out the one yeah.
That we hope is the defining thing in our career. So, it’s it’s just exhilarating to see it all. Yeah, I don’t want to hear more about your specific Kickstarter campaign. I actually just became a backer last night, by the way. Thank you. Yeah, I’m very excited to get my copy. yes. Tell us more about the Kickstarter campaign.
What can people expect? What can they receive those benefits? Okay. well, first it’s a Trekker kickstarter.com for you out there. They want to click on right away. But, so this is for the book called. Trekker Hunter’s moon. and as I was saying before, each one of these stories, it is a self contained, hopefully completely satisfying reading experience in its own.
when you put them all together, you get the [00:34:00] whole canopy I’m trying to pay to this world. but, in some ways I hope this story will be, We have some familiar elements to people who’ve had trucker before. mercy st. Claire’s is this hard bitten, tough driven action, you know, bounty Hunter character, but I’m in the light, those science fiction and action, adventure story elements.
I want those to be in every single issue of tracker. I, it needs to deliver and check those boxes, or it’s not a tracker story at the same time. I want each one to be different. the story before this one was sort of like a battle story, mercy winds up, tangling up with, with the troop of soldiers in the middle of a wasteland of a no man’s land of a battlefield.
So that was going on this one, she in a small, very small band of friends, wind up out on a remote, RA. Primitive mood and of course come face to face for the creature. And there’s a big story about how that creature came to be. That’s part of the overall, you know, backdrop of the series, but for the purposes of this story, I wanted it [00:35:00] just to be a case of mercy against the monster.
It was a very, and it goes back to all those tars and books by Joe Kubert that I love. It’s like Tarzan. It’s like him, and he’s got a little, you know, knife made out of the sword and he’s got a fight, whatever the jungle creature is, you know? so I wanted to strip this one down to just be that elemental battle.
A tooth and claw death match, sort of. So, and that’s a type of a story that I haven’t quite told in tracker before. So, in some ways I hope and think this one might be a little bit more intense, a little bit more ferocious in some ways than the other. yeah. Yeah. I try to make each one have a different, each story, have a different texture, you know, have the setting evolve so that the readers and myself have something new to look forward to in each episode.
And each one is also supposed to, and we ratchet up the stakes, you know, takes mercy one step up the rung of the ladder of this increasingly yeah. Higher stakes game that she’s getting pulled into. she has to take a bigger part in the shaping of her world. Yeah. You just keep pushing the [00:36:00] boundaries.
Yeah. Yeah. that’s the plan. Yeah. Now, when you first created this character of mercy st. Claire, was she the, was the character, did she come first or did your setting and world-building come first? it was the world building. No, I’m sorry. it was the character. I’m I’m. Only hesitating here because it’s, it sort of came, it was, it sort of happened so organically and spontaneously.
let me think. I mean, like I said, I knew I wanted a science fiction character and I knew for me it would have to be somebody who was in some sort of an action adventure sort of swashbuckling role. Cause I love flash Gordon, you know, and Han solo and the Oh yeah. That sort of stuff. and I also loved, Decorated from a blade Hunter.
So, you know, those sort of elements I wanted those, I needed a character that was the anchor boom, you know, for the series. And that character was going to have to be on a long journey of self exploration because I just find those stories, the most compelling ones. So I [00:37:00] started with mercy and tried to build her up.
and, but then sort of at the same time I was developing the world around her, the city, she was in the sort of situations that would be at play. And that in turn sort of had its effect on how I continued to develop her personality, her traits and stuff, so that she would be able to interact with this world.
So, so the two sort of. Go back and forth organically. I didn’t create her in a complete vacuum, but the first impulse was a character. And I had a feel for the core of who she was. And the journey that I wanted it to go on. although I did, when I first started, I wasn’t sure how the story was going to turn out the story of her life we never do.
Right. Right. In fact, I say, now I know exactly how I seen this series is going to end unless mercy and Molly tell me otherwise, the two main care Merci and her girlfriend, Molly, you know, those, the guys, you, as a writer, you may have had the experience on the I’m sure. For other writers talk about the fact that they’re writing in a book and all of a sudden new characters start to tell them, no, I’m not going to be going there.
I’m [00:38:00] sitting down right here and having a drink right now, and then you have to deal with that so they can, yeah. Can I have your outline? And you can be very rigid, but no, when you start writing, it goes in different directions. Part of the fun too, though. Just see where it goes and have unexpected things happen.
I had a book where I was completely going to kill off a character. I had it set in my mind and then he ends up kind of being a hero at the end, so I couldn’t kill him off, but yeah, no, I totally get that. Yeah, that’s great. Yeah. If it surprises you, then hopefully it’s going to surprise the readers too, right?
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Now, for those also who are just kind of finding out about checker, I’m curious and don’t give any weight, any spoilers if you don’t have to, but what is, Mercy’s sort of inner conflict? Like what is her story? As far as we have the bounty Hunter stuff, but what is like her inner, issue that she needs to work on throughout the book arc?
[00:39:00] Mmm, H how to put it in a few words. mercy sees herself as the series begins as a self contained, you know, low Wolf, implacable, not necessarily killing machine, but bounty hunting machine. And that’s perfectly fine, except it’s completely untenable. If you also happen to be a human being and the rub of this series is mercy is perhaps coming to the realization that she is a human being, which is a terribly inconvenient feature to have if you want to be an implacable killing.
Right. So, so that’s right. Really? I mean, how do you, how do you resolve that? how do you, Find a balance point where you can be a person and what does it cost you and what do you gain? What do you lose? and that’s the journey that she’s been on from day one.
And, what I love hearing about from is from the readers is one day. When they see what’s happening inside of mercy long [00:40:00] before mercy does, because she’s really clear. Yeah. Things like that. We all are, you know, I mean, I mean, can’t our friends all tell us more about ourselves than we know. I think so.
So that’s, you know, that’s the main thing, so, and the stage, and not to give away too many spoilers, cause I hate giving away spoilers, but I don’t think I’ve, I think I’ve already tipped this pretty well in several of the stories that have the more recent stories, especially is that, you know, mercy is being called.
To play a role on a larger stage than then that black and white, I shoot somebody and I get a paycheck for it. That’s you know, that was her deal, but it’s not a deal now. It can’t be. and the state that she is stepping onto is one where this lone Wolf, implacable, bounty Hunter thing, that ain’t going to cut it.
she’s not going to be able to face the challenges she’s going to be facing all on her own and that’s death. Like that’s like having to learn how to [00:41:00] be a team, Claire, you know, all those sorts of things that is not in her wheelhouse. Yeah. And as a storyteller, one of the, one of my favorite things to do is take my character who is so self-possessed and so incredibly competent and capable in some ways and put her in any situation, whereas where she has off balance, there’s real juice in that.
And, and that’s where these stories have been heading. And again, we’re just gonna keep as best. I can just sort of up the ante and to be evolving and keep her pushing up against her friction points, you know? Yeah, I love characters like that. Actually. I think a lot of people do that sort of a lone Wolf character, very independent that doesn’t want to rely on anyone, but throughout, as the story goes on, you have to realize that, you know, people are there to help you and well, exactly.
Yeah. I just, I think it’s, I just think it’s such a intellectual dead end tether character, and I just, you know, I just. Don’t think you can play that out without it becoming [00:42:00] repetitive and getting the point. Well, now you just being nice, just being willfully stubborn and self-destructed. And am I supposed to be rooting for that behavior?
I don’t think so. I mean, that’s just me and my, you know, but I mean, when I first created trucker was partially, it was re. Is a reaction to a lot of the comic books that are, we’re seeing being done back in the mid eighties. One of my, one of my, one of the, one of the great runs. So at the time was the run that Frank really did on Daredevil.
And then he did a thing with dark night and stuff like that. But man, it just got to the point where. The character was getting darker and Bleaker. I came, I just, it, I was reading one of them and the phrase adolescent nihilism popped into my head. And I just felt like, you know, and there’s real juice in that.
Cause I was reading them myself and those stories are really powerful, but I’m thinking that is an intellectual dead end, man. You get to the point where, you know, like where we’re at now with a lot of things going on in the pop culture storytelling where you can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys, what’s the point?
What’s the difference? [00:43:00] Well, again, that’s. That’s wonderful to be moody and grumpy about that. I just think it makes you a pretty crappy worldview. And, so I wanted to character would start off wanting to be that, you know, that dark and that almost soulless or whatever, you know, and she just wants to hold onto that position.
and I, so I was trying to be subversive, I guess, in a way where the readers are saying no more. She don’t do that. you need to be better than that. You know, that’s not good for your, whatever, your spirit, your soul, your humanity, So, that was my, my little subversive, hidden agenda from the beginning of the sodium tracker.
I wanted to sort of, Oh, I’ll pick this book up. Cause she looks like she’s a bad ass, you know, but it kicks them back. Yeah. Yeah. And it hadn’t been said, Oh shit, that’s kind of depressing. Isn’t it? You know? Yeah. Yeah. It does. Well, yeah. It gets old after a while, as you were saying, you know, with Batman, I’ve seen Batman.
Don, it just get darker and darker. And we do like the darker sides of Batman and Gotham city, but there is a point where you’re like, okay, let’s pull it back. He’s still human underneath [00:44:00] the mask. And it’s important to see those layers and characters. You can’t be all good or all bad all the time.
You have to have those. the growth be shown on the page. Otherwise people will lose interest or get depressed. Exactly. Yeah. I mean, unless you have a lot more skill in the store and the, in the telling of those stories than I do, I’ll put it that way. it’s not in my wheel house to tell that kind of story.
Yeah, no, some of my favorite villains are ones that have. Layers and depth to them and not just scary for the sake of being scary. Do you have to have a clear motivation? I think cause every villain thinks he’s the hero of his own story, essentially. Yup. Yup. Yeah, well, I’m really excited to read checker harvest.
Hunter’s moon, excuse me, Huntersville. And I backed it last night. I was looking at the artwork. It looks gorgeous. Thank you. I’m just really excited about the whole bounty Hunter aspect and Saifai, it’s just right up my alley. So [00:45:00] I’m really excited. tell me the website again for the Kickstarter campaign.
It’s a tracker kickstarter.com. I made it as straightforward as I could. Awesome. Yeah, we’ll put that in the show notes too. And then also you have a website, Ron randall.com. I do. So I actually found it through there. So you can actually go on there too. And just click on the link. It’ll take you right to the Kickstarter campaign and you also have some exciting, backing news.
I mean, the project is pretty. Pretty much happening if I’m correct. Yes. Yeah. I, I said, I said an initial funding goal, to be one, as I have with this is like the fifth Trekker, Kickstarter campaign that I run and I, I always. To cover the, the cost of printing the book and getting out to backers, but it doesn’t pay me for, you know, the, of writing and drawing them, the books.
And there are a reason that I do it that way, but the point is, I set the funding goal. We hit the funding goal on day one of this campaign. and so since then, we’ve just been adding stretch goals to [00:46:00] make the book bigger and better bonuses, posters, and stickers. And right now, For the first time ever, I’ve got a stretch goal of, cool enamel pin.
Oh, and so the stretch goals are fun because they add nice little extras, enhancements for the readers and everything, but also some of the money from the stretch goals, quite honestly, It goes back into my pocket is start to pay me back for the months that it takes to tell one of these stories.
So, and this campaign is thriving. It’s just, as we were talking, I told you this might happen. The 50, $50,000 I find, which is great. A lot of that does go again for the cost making the book, but some of it’s going to wind up in my pocket and that’s go, let me tell the next story. So that’s a, that’s been exciting.
That’s so awesome. Congratulations. That’s great. I’m glad. I’m glad I knew as soon as you said you were like it’s, I’m waiting. I had a feeling it was going to happen within the hour. So maybe just talking about it, we brought it let’s hope. Well, thank you so much for chatting with me today.
This has [00:47:00] been a lot of fun. I’ve had a pleasure meeting you and I can’t wait to. Chat with you again, I want you to, you know, obviously you’ve been on a lot, so I want you to come back on in the future and, yeah, it’s been really fun. Thanks. Most has been great talking to you, too. Awesome. well for everyone, please visit Ron randall.com and find out more about the checker Kickstarter campaign.