Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Ron Randall Interview

I recently heard that comic writer/artist Ron Randall was going to be producing another Trekker project and got pretty pumped about it. I discovered Trekker within the last handful of years (thanks to the excellent Trekker Talk podcast produced by Darrin and Ruth Sutherland) and love the book. Randall has had a long storied comic career and has crossed over into books I love, so I reached out to ask him a few questions. Enjoy!

1) You were the penciller on a number of issues of Supergirl during the period Kelley Puckett was writing the book. I also notice that Supergirl is a frequent commission request for you. Are you a fan of the character? Any recollections of your time on the book?

I am indeed a fan of Supergirl. That can be a bit demanding, as the character has undergone so many revisions/re-imaginings/reboots over the years.  But the core of the character and the concept has always been compelling.  And, I’ve always had a clear idea in my head of my particular “take” on Supergirl—how her character should “feel”—look, actions, movements, emotional responses, etc. In getting to work on that arc, “SUPERGIRL: WAY OF THE WORLD”, I felt my concept of the character fit perfectly. So, it has been one of the most comfortable, fun and rewarding experiences I’ve ever had while working on an established character.

2) The last issue you drew of Supergirl was a sort of flashforward story showing a Supergirl of the future in a sort full dress costume. We’re going back a way, but was that your design? Was it fun to bring in a new costume to the mythos?

I believe that design had already appeared elsewhere, briefly. But I’m afraid I can’t recall the reference image I was given, nor, unfortunately, the artist that designed it. I thought it was a terrific look.

3) I am going to be a bit over the map because your career has spanned so much. You were on art with Steve Bisette and John Totlenben for some of the Alan Moore Swamp Thing issues. What was it like to be on that book, even briefly?

Exhilarating, in a word. Steve was one year ahead of me coming out of the Kubert School, so we had been swimming in a lot of the same artistic waters, which really saved me, because it allowed me to get at least a bit of his sensibility into my own pencils, and I wanted to keep the look and feel of the book as consistent as possible with the brilliant work he and inker John Totleben brought to the project. As a side note, I also pinch-hit for John on inks on several of the issues. Usually four or five pages per issue were either my pencils or my inks. Consequently, I got to play a very small role in a real comics classic. Right place, right time. One more note: Steve and John are two of the most wonderful people you’ll ever meet, in addition to being blindingly talented.

4) You also were co-artist on one of my favorite recent titles, the Keith Giffen written Doom Patrol. You seemed to split art chores with Matthew Clark.  Can you talk about your time on that book? Was there a specific breakdown which determined who did which pages?

This was another awesome project that I got to play a supporting role in. Like Swamp Thing, my task was to maintain as much of the feel and approach that Matthew established on the book as possible. Very demanding, because Matthew pours so much work and distinctive personality into his pages. As with Steve’s work, I knew I couldn’t touch the magic of Matthew’s work, but I tried to keep the transitions between his pages and mine as smooth as possible, and to serve the storytelling needs of the book as well as possible. And Keith was writing some crazy and crazy-good stories there.
As to page breakdown, it amounted to whichever pages Matthew couldn’t get to fell into my lap. It was quite a fun hodge-podge!

 5)You also seem to gravitate to female protagonists. I only recently discovered Trekker within the last couple of years but have tracked down her first issues over time. When you started out writing Mercy in 1986, did you think or hope you’d still be writing her 32 years later?

Well, I never put a number or a date on it, but from the beginning, I envisioned a series that would be a long arc, tracing the gradual, personal evolution of the character, Mercy St. Clair, and the gradual expansion and increasing depth, richness and complexity of her world. So, I always planned for it to be a long tale.  I hadn’t anticipated all the long interruptions the series and its fans would have to endure along the way, though! But after having been away from the book for a long spell, I’m having the time of my professional life to finally be back to telling the rest of Mercy’s journey. And my patient readers seem to be liking it as well, So, no complaints!

6) Can you talk about how other works or titles have impacted your approach to Trekker? I recently read some of the Barren Earth stories and it seemed to have some early echoes of Trekker.

Yeah—I really need to give credit to The Barren Earth, and the great, great writer I got to work with, Gary Cohn, for the seed that planted in my imagination. With The Barren Earth, Gary and I wanted a strong, capable, compelling female-driven sci-fi comic. And it was so much fun to bring it to the page, that when I had a chance to make a series myself, I knew I wanted a lot of those elements, done with my own, personal “twist”. Trekker’s my shot at having everything I love the most about science fiction, about comics, and about great characters in one series. Any many of those ideas started to come into focus with the work on The Barren Earth.

 7) And I heard there is some news about Trekker for those looking to read more?

Yeah—pretty big news, in fact! On February 20, I’m launching a Kickstarter to get the next Trekker book into print! It’s called TREKKER: CHAPLETOWN. It’s a great intro to the world of my science fiction bounty hunter, Mercy St. Clair, and also a pivotal story in her life and in the series. I think it’s a blast! The art is already done, and the thing is all but ready to send off to the printer, so I just need the money to cover printing and shipping costs. I cannot wait to get it into the hands of readers who love a great sci-fi action adventure with a cool, smart and tough lead character and rich world to explore. People can check out the campaign, starting this Tuesday, February 20, at www.TrekkerKickstarter.com. How’s that for a sales pitch to end on? J

 Sounds great! Thanks for stopping by!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this real interesting interview. I didn't know Trekker before, but now I'm interested in knowing more about it.

Funny how that issue featuring the titanic death battle between Supergirl and Alphonse Luzano was the first one you reviewed ten years ago. Time flies!

"Way of the World" was an okay arc. It wasn't extraordinary but it finally showed the first hints of the Supergirl we should have gotten since Superman/Batman #8. It helped Kara was drawn at last like a human girl instead of a stick with boobs and a ridiculously short skirt *shudders*.

Always nice finding more creators who ar also Supergirl fans.

Martin Gray said...

It's great to hear Ron is as nice as he's talented. Mind, he's far too modest about his own talent and craft. Arak was the first time I saw his work, and he's only gotten better.

Darrin said...

Wonderful interview Anj! I loved your questions and Ron's answers were filled with interesting tidbits. Thank you for supporting Ron's Trekker Kickstarter!

Anonymous said...

Way of the World is one of my favorite arcs. Thank you for getting an interview with him Anj. Good read.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't say if it's the first-ever appearance of it, but the Supergirl costume of the future is seen earlier in a splash panel in #27, in the story where Supergirl is kidnapped to the future and sees a giant Supergirl monument. Maybe that was the reference art.

Supergirl #32 is one of my favorites. Beautifully drawn.

Most of those Puckett stories have very lean writing where the art handles most of the storytelling. A pleasure to read them.

The two time travel stories - #32 which Ron drew (called "Choices" on the cover and "Time Heals All Wounds" inside), and #27 ("The Shape of Things to Come" aka "The Girl of Tomorrow") pencilled by Leonardi and Johnson - are eerie. They are kind of skeletal intimations of stories - highly evocative ideas that aren't clearly defined. Like the future Batmen who are Bruce Wayne, "sort of." And, the Tesseract stories of that period. And the timing of #32, as you observed in a blog post, is difficult if not impossible to explain. All of these could be read as standalone fantasy stories and you didn't really need to know the larger arc.

Thanks for doing this interview!

Uncle Screensaver said...

Thanks for the interview! I hate to post it here but it looks like Supergirl #20 is the last issue! No solicitation for May, and that would explain why Artgerm is leaving, plus the regular cover now looks like a farewell. If it is canceled, it’s a low blow considering it sells much more than many other titles.

Anonymous said...

It's confirmed everywhere by now.

Reading the solicit for #20, it's clear the Bones/DEO storyline is polished off. Loose threads will be resolved.

Let's hope Bendis adds more than DC is taking away. Maybe they just want mostly new #1's to denote the start of a new voice. #1 always attracts attention and sales, Bendis will too, the combination even better.

Anonymous said...

I am going to sit calmly in the boat for now and breathe, but should May come and there is no new announcement about Supergirl I am going to panic, scream, flip the boat and take my whole pull list with me. :)

I can't in good conscience dole out many thousands of dollar per year to a company that time after time after time after time underrepresents women. I have felt the urge to wipe my pull list a lot lately, with Dan Jurgens revisionism, the male dominated New Age of DC and Scott Snyders token female "No Justice" League... but Supergirl really is my breaking point. Take Supergirl away and I am done with DC. It's going to hurt leaving so much history behind, but change needs to start somewhere, and maybe the big ones are incapable of making that change and the future should belong to the independents. I have been lazy and complacent and kept pulling DC titles without properly weighing the alternatives until now.

Anonymous said...

I was also angry until I read this:


So... Supergirl is being revamped? Maybe having a team affiliation? Yes, please.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing Anj. As for May... well, I'm trying to keep calm and an open mind as to what TPTB do, but agree with the
other sentiments about outright cancellation. A Team Affiliation? Waiting for more news and with fingers crossed.


Anonymous said...

Bendis tweeted:

"Kara is a HUGE part of the new Superman books. and man, is she a blast to write. we're going to get VERY deep into her character in the new stories."

That doesn't sound to me like she gets her own title. You could compare that to New Krypton, where I would agree Supergirl played a "huge part" of the "Superman books," but those extra appearances were still very superficial compared to what was happening in her own monthly at the time.

As for joining some team - that would be a consolation prize. Team members get the spotlight intermittently, and think about how much artistic creativity is wasted trying to figure out how to compose panels where silent characters stand or float around silently in the background. So many team members are second or third tier and never get their own books.

The 2006 Waid Legion was decent, but of course you had to like the Legion to get the most out of that book. I think I've read most of the other teamups, and am about to read the JLA arcs after Cry for Justice (Dark Things, Omega, and Eclipso) - were they any good?

Anyway, sad face.

Anonymous said...

"That doesn't sound to me like she gets her own title. You could compare that to New Krypton, where I would agree Supergirl played a "huge part" of the "Superman books," but those extra appearances were still very superficial compared to what was happening in her own monthly at the time.

As for joining some team - that would be a consolation prize."

How ironic. After complaining Kara's role in her cousin's books was non-existent, now she's apparently about to become a big player I'm scared. I mean, I didn't like how Bendis handled Scarlet Witch or a teenager Jean Grey, so I'm afraid he'll not "get" the character or depict her as what he "thinks" a teenager girl is like.

Kara joining a team after losing her own book sounds like a step down, I'll agree, but I want her to bond with other heroes and forge new relationships such like she did prior to Flashpoint when she actually counted. She needs a bigger exposure and visibility.

Anonymous said...

How damn ironic isn't it all, after complaining for years for Kara to be included more in the main Superman books, we did get our wish but at the cost of her solo books. That saying about being careful what you wish for does work it seems.

Such a shame, such a damn shame