Geof Darrow’s work can be described as a forerunner of theÂ FusionÂ that Frank Santoro and I like to talk about. His work is a mix of Moebius mixed with the frenetic energy of the finer Japanese Manga. I first got into his work, like most, with the excellent Hard boiled. He always grabs me with images that are full of the most ridiculous ideas that under most hands, would probably be a mess but Darrow is able hold it all together. The work available by Darrow is few and far between, but his impact as a cartoonist can be found in the work of many young cartoonists that would stare transfixed on a given image studying every nuance.
This interview was conduct back in February of 2011 when he was set to appear at the Emerald City Comicon and was originally aired on theÂ Inkstuds radio show. When we did the interview, he was pretty close lipped about Shaolin Cowboy. Since then it has been recently revealed that Dark Horse will be publishing future volumes of the series.
Special thanks to Charles Bottomley for continued support in providing excellent transcriptions. Charles also did the transcription work on the Inkstuds book.
Robin McConnell: I guess to run down the comics work,Â Hard Boiled,Â Shaolin Cowboy,Â Big GuyÂ andÂ Rusty the Boy Robot,Â BourbonÂ Thret, as well as a plethora of other goodies that came out in France that I have not been able to get my hands on.
Geof Darrow:Â [laughs] Thatâ€™s about it, to tell you the truth. Thereâ€™s a lot of fake titles I came up with that people seem to think exist but never everâ€¦it was joke.
Theyâ€™re kind of â€¦ hopes? Comics you want to do one day, you just know youâ€™ll never have a chance?
No. It was just a joke. The first book I ever did over thereâ€¦I always liked the Tintin books, because on the back they had this nice drawing of all these titles of Tintin you could buy. So on the first I did, I put all the titles of books of these books that didnâ€™t exist, so it seemed like the character existed as long as Tintin. But you read any of the titles, I canâ€™t believe anybody would think they actually existed. But people didnâ€™t! People would try to order them. The bookstores were kind of annoyed that Iâ€™d done that, because they were getting orders for these things. It was funny. I thought it was funny.
Was that something you were doing withÂ Bourbon Thret (said en francais)Â as well as â€¦
Yeah yeah yeah.Â Bourbon, actually.
Okay. Sorry, I was trying to be all proper.
No, itâ€™s okay.Â Bourbon ThretÂ actually isÂ The Shaolin CowboyÂ in England.
So itâ€™s an earlier incarnation of it or is it the exact same character?
Yeah. Itâ€™s basically the same guy.
I want to get a little background on you, because in the time Iâ€™ve been putting together this interview, I couldnâ€™t really find very much on you as far as info online, interviews, so I donâ€™t know your background and what got you into comics and what excited you about comics.
Well, like anybody, I grew up reading them and I wanted to draw them because I just lovedâ€¦I mean, I grew up reading, well, the beginning of Batman and Superman. I was into dinosaurs and stuff, so I used to buy anything that had a dinosaur or monster on the cover. Then I discovered â€¦ actually, it was by mistake, because I was at the dentist and next door there was a pharmacy and they only had about three comics and one was likeÂ Sugar & SpikeÂ or something â€¦ some girlie comic. The one they had was a superhero comic that was theÂ Fantastic FourÂ annual where Sue and Reed get married. So it was the whole Marvel universe in one book and I had no idea what that was and I bought it and I became a huge fan of Marvel comics, especially Jack Kirby. That was actually the launching part of my great passion for comics.
I think Kirbyâ€™s a good launching point.
Yes, he is and I was fortunate enough to work for him at Hanna-Barbara.
I was going to ask about that.
Gracious! He would come in and just the sweetest man. Just a really sweet guy who should have been treated way better than he was by Marvel and the industry, if you ask meâ€¦ But he never seemed bitter. He never seemed bitter about it. He basically created that whole universe and yâ€™knowâ€¦
Going into animation, did you want to go into comics as well or was that somethingâ€¦
Yeah, I wanted to go into comics, but this was the early â€˜80s. Getting into comics was like winning the lottery. It was reallyâ€¦you had to fit into a certain house style andâ€¦I remember showing my stuff to Archie Goodwin and he said, â€œWell, yâ€™know, I really like it. I just wouldnâ€™t know what to do with it,â€ because it wasnâ€™tâ€¦in DC they just yâ€™knowâ€¦in those days, too, if you did get into comics, they would never ever put you onâ€¦some guys break in drawing on Wolverine or Batman. Back then theyâ€™d stick you on some back-up feature and youâ€™d just have to work your way up to some top-selling book. I was never ever offered any comics for them.
Were you exposed to any of the European stuff in the â€˜70s when you wereâ€¦
Way in the early â€˜70s, I had a book by Maurice Horn calledÂ The History of Comics, which was an amazing book at the time, because it was the first time I was exposed. I grew up in Iowa and they didnâ€™t have anything there. This book just had images from comics from all around the world and one of them was Jean Giraud, whoâ€™s known as Moebius, and they had pages ofÂ Lieutenant Blueberry. I was like â€œHoly Jeepers! This guy isâ€¦â€ They had Tintin, they had all these guys. It wasnâ€™t just the U.S. stuff. It was everywhere, from Spain and I was really impressed with them and Bud Plant, around â€™74, he used toâ€¦in this catalog, he would sell European comics and I remember I saw that he had a couple of these Blueberry books. I couldnâ€™t speak French, but I didnâ€™t care. I just wanted the drawings. So I sent for them. They were like a buck and a half apiece. He stopped selling them because nobody was buying them. Later on, when I was showing him themâ€¦if they couldnâ€™t read them, they werenâ€™t interested in â€˜em, which always boggled my mind, because the drawings are just so good and storytelling, you could sort of follow it along. So thatâ€™s how I got into European stuff. I was into that stuff way beforeâ€¦
BeforeÂ MÃ©tal HurlantÂ came out? BeforeÂ Heavy Metal?
Well, beforeÂ Heavy Metal. I was buyingÂ MÃ©tal HurlantÂ from the very beginning. That was the first published comics Iâ€™d ever had was inÂ MÃ©tal Hurlant.
Oh, okay. Was any of that work reprinted inÂ Heavy Metal?
Yeah, one of them was. Thereâ€™s one thing printed inÂ Heavy MetalÂ and it was a Bourbon Thret story, the first one Iâ€™d ever done. ButÂ MÃ©tal HurlantÂ [laughs]â€¦it was printed inÂ Heavy Metal, itâ€™s like I donâ€™t know 15 pages long. But Iâ€™d drawn it as four pages. It was four enormous pages [Robin laughs] of about 15 panels on each page. To this day, itâ€™s my preferred version of it because itâ€™s just so nuts. I mean, every panel is about postage stamp-sized and thereâ€™s hundreds of figures and it was really crazy. It was printed in black and white inÂ MÃ©tal Hurlant.
So were you doing your super-detailed work pretty early on?
I think so, but I never thought of it that way. I never thought of it being that detailed. It was what I thought it was supposed to be. That was I guess probably around 1983. Thatâ€™s when I also I eventually moved to Francesoâ€¦
Iâ€™m curious. You mentioned working with Jack Kirby at Hanna-Barbara. Were you also around Alex Toth at that time, too, at all?
Yâ€™know Alex, he was there. But Alexâ€¦everybody loved his work but heâ€¦
He was miserable?
He was miserable but he made himself miserable. Heâ€™s so talented and he just kind of would shoot himself in the foot. Because I used to work with guys that worked with him way back and there was a movie that came out calledÂ How to Murder Your WifeÂ with Jack Lemmon and he plays a cartoonist who draws this strip that looks a lot like kind of like Rip Kirby and originally Alex Toth was drawing it. During the movie, you get to see these comic strips that he was drawing. They originally were supposed to be Alex Toth. He started drawing them and then he realized he didnâ€™t think he was getting paid enough and so he asked for more money and in Hollywood you just canâ€™t do that. They fired him and the guy they were going to have before, that got after that. Heâ€™d done that a few times and he would do stuff like that. He would feel like he was taken advantage of. So when he was there…he had stopped drawing for Hanna Barbara and I was working on a project where they were trying to do giant robots because they were very popular, and they wanted to do stuff like the Japanese. I was the only guy there that knew about that stuff and they brought me in to sort ofâ€¦and I had a lot of those toys. They brought me in and I had these toys and I showed them how to break apart and put it back together and Alex was there and he looked over, at the end of the meeting. He said, â€œThey told me you know Moebius.â€ I said, â€œYeah, yeah.â€ He said, â€œHow much money did he get paid to work onÂ Tron?â€ [Robin laughs] And I said, â€œWell,â€ I said, â€œI think they were paying him this…â€ He was â€œUgh!â€ He was annoyed because he had never gotten that kind of money. But Moebius, he has a whole other idea. You give him something to do, he does it. He does it and yâ€™knowâ€¦heâ€™s a lovely man. Alex, heâ€™s so bitter and itâ€™s just such a shame that he didnâ€™t keep drawing. He startedÂ TorpedoÂ and he jumped ship on thatâ€¦I donâ€™t know the whole story behind it. I always heard it was something like he didnâ€™t like the content. He thought it was immoral or something like thatâ€¦
I heard the same thing. Itâ€™s pretty much he did not like the excess nudity or whatnot.
And then so many people have had a relationship with him that have gone south because they made a comment that he didnâ€™t like and boy! Once that door closed, it was closed forever.
Iâ€™ve heard that and thatâ€™s why I was kind of curious of your experience with him.
No, I mean, like I said, my experience wasâ€¦and I spent god knows how many hours at the Xerox machine copying [Robin laughs] making copies of his model sheets and his storyboards. Weâ€™re total polar opposites drawing-wise, because he distills it down to the very essence and I had every ingredient in the book in there. But yeah, an amazing artist.
So it wasÂ TronÂ where you first met Moebius. What was that like for you asâ€¦
Well,Â Tron, I mean I was working at Hanna Barbara doing character designs and my girlfriend at the time, her best friendâ€™s husband was an engineer who was working at Disney helping to build Epcot Center in Florida. So he was a guy who had a fairly high position at Disney. I heard through the grapevine that Moebius was at Disney. I was like â€œOh my God! I just want to meet this guy,â€ because at this point nobody had seen him outside of Europe. He was this mysterious figure. Just I could get to meet him! So I called up my friend, and I said, â€œThereâ€™s this guy working there at Disney. His name is Jean Giraud. He goes by the name of Moebius. I could just get in to meet him and just shake his hand, because he was such an influence.â€ He said, â€œWell, Iâ€™ll see what I can do.â€ I didnâ€™t hear anything. A day goes by. I get a call and he says, â€œOh, weâ€™re having dinner with him on Saturday night.â€ I was like â€œAre you sure?â€ Yeah. So we met at my apartment and I still kept thinking, this canâ€™t be! Itâ€™s somethingâ€¦itâ€™s too good to be true for somebody. It canâ€™t be the real guy. Thatâ€™s how we started our friendship was him working atÂ Tron. He invited me to a couple of parties and we ran a 5K run with the director. I think it annoyed the director, because he was like â€œWhoâ€™s this guy? This guy you drug [sic] along? Who is this guy?â€ Movie people are like â€œWait a minute, whoa! Whoâ€™s this guy?â€ I think the Wachowskis did that. When I was working onÂ The Matrix, they were going over to Jennifer Tillyâ€™s house to play poker and they said, â€œDo you want to come along?â€ Steve Skroce and Iâ€”another great artist. Steve Skroceâ€”and we said, â€œYeah!â€ So we didnâ€™t know anybody and we went over there and the look on Jennifer Tillyâ€™s face when she saw us!
A couple of cartoonists!
She was like â€œOh! How nice! Strangers!â€ [laughs] The funny thing is, she went on to becomeâ€¦she plays professional poker.
Yeah, thatâ€™s what she does now. She plays poker.
I did beat her a few hands. So I felt kind of good.
I think Steve shops at the same comic store that I do.
Ah! I havenâ€™t talked to him. He called me yesterday. Iâ€™ve got to call him back. I donâ€™t think he goes into comic stores any more. He was telling meâ€¦
Do you still keep up with comics?
Oh, me? Oh yeah. I go in and look. I donâ€™t buy a lot of stuff because Iâ€™m sort ofâ€¦thereâ€™s so many of them and I kind of lost track. I was always ask at the shops I go into, â€œSo whatâ€™s the deal on this?â€ because this whole red Hulk green Hulk thing [Robin laughs] just boggles my mind. Theyâ€™re going to step into this same trap that Superman did with red kryptonite and green kryptonite. Thereâ€™s going to be too many Hulks! In France, they have a saying that you donâ€™t add water to your wine. They seem to be adding a lot of water to that Hulk wine! Itâ€™s certainly not going to be the same vintage as when Kirby started it.
I think itâ€™s more water than wine now.
Have they explained it?
Iâ€™m probably the worst person to ask about the red Hulk.
Yeah, I donâ€™t know. The whole Green Lantern thing, theyâ€™re all wearing mood rings or something, right?Â I’veÂ been fascinated by the fact that each week you can go in and get one of those rings.
But would you wear them?
No. I donâ€™t think they were going to give them to me. Iâ€™m fascinated by the phenomenon of it. Iâ€™m always fascinated that there are certain characters who were always second-tier characters. If they wait long enough, theyâ€™re going to become the hottest thing since Justin Beiber. Heâ€™s Canadian, right, Justin Beiber?
Did the whole country go into mourning when he didnâ€™t win the Grammy?
No, because Arcade Fire won the Grammy and theyâ€™re Canadian as well.
Yeah, now thatâ€™s a good band.
It was fantastic. When you moved to France, could you speak French at all?
A little bit, a little bit, yeah. But my girlfriend who became my wife, eventually, I met her and she was very patient and would speak French with me. As soon as they hear â€“ as soon as you hear someone struggling with the language, people would just kick in but she just was very patient with me. She speaks English very very well. Between that and watching American TV that had been translated into French, I would watch it and I knew all the shows and I would know what they were talking about, and I would â€œOh! How! Thatâ€™s whatâ€¦â€ And theyâ€™d run them twice! They were so cheap, the stations at the time, the evening programming was also the morning programming the next day. So I would sometimes watch the same shows twice. That was very helpful.
See how it resonates with you.
Well, I couldâ€¦Iâ€™d pick up the words I didnâ€™t get the first night.
Moving to France, was that a huge life decision.
Yeah, it was, but I had been engaged to a girl and we were going to get married and then it kind of yâ€™knowâ€¦it was one of those things where I didnâ€™t feel like I was quite ready. Because I couldnâ€™t keep a steady job. I worked at Hanna Barbara but I was always laid off. Iâ€™d start work at May or June and by October Iâ€™d be gone. Iâ€™d be like on employment six months out of the year and thatâ€™s when I tried drawing comics, during that period.
That sounds like the standard for animation now.
Yeah, I and the girl I was going to marry came from a conservative family and Iâ€¦and theyÂ didn’tÂ dislike me, they just saw me as–Iâ€™m far from itâ€”a hippy. This guyâ€™s never gonnaâ€¦you canâ€™t depend on this guy. She wanted the house and the kids and her biological time clock was ticking and I just said, no, I canâ€™t. And thatâ€™s when I said, â€œOh,Â I’veÂ got nothing tying me down, Iâ€™ll see what itâ€™s like to live in another country,â€ and I moved to France. And I had contact with Moebius and he had worked with this publisher who had liked my work a lot, said that he would print me and thatâ€™s why I went.
What was the experience like working with him as far as affecting your work as a cartoonist?
Moebius? God, he was just such a huge influence. I donâ€™t think anybody resonated with me like him. Kirby quite a bit, but yâ€™know Moebius is â€¦ you know who Alejandro Jodorowksy is?
Yeah,Â El Topo.
Yeah! Well, yâ€™know, I know him quite well, but the first time I met him the first wordâ€”heâ€™d seen my artwork and the first words out of his mouth to me were â€¦ What are the language restrictions, are you censored?
No, weâ€™re in Canada.
Okay. All right. The first thing he said to me was, â€œDarrow! Darrow! Why do you want to fuck your father?â€ because we were doing this thing as City of Fire and he just saw it as yâ€™know heâ€™s going toâ€”itâ€™s incestuous working with him. â€œHeâ€™s going to eat you alive! He will eat you alive!â€ [Robin laughs] Thatâ€™s what I thought was so funny. But I did these drawings and he would ink them. Thatâ€™s what he did and he told me later, they were so complicated, he said, he couldnâ€™t work on them longer than an hour or two a day. He would get these things and heâ€™d start out his morning inking these drawings and some of them took him two or three weeks to finish and he really enjoyed it. We still talk about doing it again. Yâ€™know, itâ€™s like with the jackpot because he just â€¦ he didnâ€™t take a turd and turn it into a swan. Heâ€™s just so amazing. But he put me on the map on Europe. People kept noticing me because I worked with Moebius, like later on I did with Frank Miller! Iâ€™m like an artistic remora! I attach myself to the stars and then Iâ€™m like â€œIâ€™m through with you buddy!â€
Oh, Iâ€™m sure youâ€™d be happy to work with Moebius again.
Yeah, yâ€™know. I think Frank wouldâ€¦we talk about it a little bit but I think for Frank it was a lot harder than Moebius, because he never knew what I was going to do. â€œNo! You changed that!â€ â€œYeah, wasnâ€™t I supposed to?â€ â€œNo!â€
I do have a bunch ofÂ Hard Boiled-related questions which Iâ€™m going to do. I just want to finish off with the Moebius stuff. How big were theÂ City of Fires, the original?
Oh they were, they were pretty big. I guess some of them were I donâ€™t know, like 13 inches by 24 inches? They were like a sheet ofâ€¦not quite a full sheet of Strathmore, but most of them were pretty close to it.
Iâ€™m curious how you plan out a page like that with the really complex densenessâ€¦
I donâ€™t. I figure out the composition. I figure that geometrical, the horizon line, that this is going to be a down shot and this is the big shape, the building is here and then I just start in the corner or the middle and draw. Thereâ€™s a lot of drawing that I do that ends up being erased because you overlap something over it and then [laughs] everything you draw onto that overlapping shape youâ€™ve got to take out. Thatâ€™s always kind of hard.
Is there kind of like an almost like automaticness to it where you just go and go and go and fill up the space and just kind of see what comes up?
I donâ€™t know. It starts out really really sane and kind of simple and until I actually have drawn something where I think â€œOh, this doesnâ€™t look too bad,â€ Iâ€™m always very nervous. â€œOh, this is another crappy job that Iâ€™ve done.â€ It might still be crappy then, but then I think, â€œOh, this is kind of interesting.â€ And then Iâ€™m also like â€œOh! This guyâ€¦this ladyâ€™s carrying a shopping bag. What if thereâ€™s a pig, thereâ€™s a pig in that shopping bag! This guy over here, heâ€™s smoking a baby! This babyâ€™s a living hookah!â€ And stuff like that. Itâ€™s sort of what do you call it, off the top of my head a lot of it. I donâ€™t plan out, â€œOh Iâ€™m going to drawâ€¦â€ Like inÂ Hard Boiled, a lot of that stuff just kind of came. It wasnâ€™t planned! [laughs]
Do you ever, with the pages inÂ Hard Boiled, did you ever look at the end of it and go â€œWhere did that come from?â€
No. What happened is. I donâ€™t remember a lot of what I draw. A lot of times I go, â€œOh Jesus! Why did I draw that? Why did I draw this stuff? Look wowâ€¦look wowâ€¦look wowâ€¦look at this little thing over there. Why did I draw that at all?â€
So you met Miller through Moebius.
Yeah yeah yeah. It was one of those classic Moebius moments whereâ€”he just called me up. He was living in Los Angeles and I was there. Iâ€™d talked to Frank on the phone, because I kind ofâ€¦I donâ€™t know how I got hisâ€¦because he was living in L.A.and Moebius was living in Los Angeles and I would move back to Franceâ€¦no, no, I was there. I was living there during the summers, because I would come back in the summers from Paris and go to San Diego and I was there and I got a call, Moebius was like â€œFrank Miller is coming over to the house. Would you like to meet him?â€ I said â€œYeah!â€ So I go out there and I get there and Frank and Lynn Varley come in, and of course, Moebius never showed up, so it was just me and Frank. And Moebius says [sic] â€œWhy?â€ â€œThatâ€™s how you get to know each other.â€ with Frank, weâ€™d talk and he never really knew what I did. I never told him. The same with Moebius when I met him. I never told him I was a cartoonist because I always figured it would make him uncomfortable, because I donâ€™t want to meet a guy whoâ€™s going to show me his stuff and blah blah blah, and I never did. In both cases, Moebius had asked me, he said, â€œWhat do you do?â€ â€œI draw.â€ â€œOh, can I see what you do?â€ And then I showed him. The same with Frank. I remember I called up Frank one night, I was back in Paris, becauseÂ Dark KnightÂ had come out and I called him just to tell him how great I thought it was. And he goes, â€œNo, wait a minute, you drew this!â€ And I said, â€œThatâ€™s you!â€ I said, â€œYeah!â€ He said, â€œI didnâ€™t realize that you drew!â€ Then we started talking and thatâ€™s howâ€¦and later when I go back to Los Angeles, weâ€™d go out to lunch quite a bit and he said, â€œWould you ever draw anybody elseâ€™s stuff?â€ I said, â€œYeah, I guess. It depends onâ€¦â€ He said, â€œWell, how about me?â€ I said, â€œYeah!â€ â€œSo what do you want to do?â€ I said, â€œWell, I want to do something thatâ€™s got lots of action!â€ He said, â€œOkay.â€ Thatâ€™s howâ€¦and the first thing we were actually going to do was something that John Romita Jr. was going to do, was that Daredevil story.
Oh, okay, because that was worked on for quite a long time, wasnâ€™t it?
Well, he had the idea for it and he wanted to know if I wanted to do it. I originally said yeah, because Iâ€™d like to have drawn Daredevil. But the thing is is heâ€™s never in costume and I thought, if Iâ€™m going to do a superhero, I want to do one in costume. [laughs] And he wasnâ€™t, so I didnâ€™t. Then the other thing he was going to do was a thing that he had an idea with Steve Gerber and it was kind of a Superman thing. It wasnâ€™t Superman, but it was a character like that and yâ€™know we were all going to do it together for some reason Steve neverâ€¦it just became impossible. Then he came up with this thing. He came up withÂ Hard Boiled. And there you go.
And it was all downhill from there? [laughs]
Yeah. Yâ€™know, the funny thing aboutÂ Hard BoiledÂ was he was never meant to beâ€”I mean, I drew him, but he was never meant to be a robot. [Robin laughs] But I drew this stuff and he goes, â€œMy God! How can he still be alive? How can he still beâ€¦â€ Who cares? I mean, itâ€™s just a comic book. I mean, I donâ€™t care. Give me a glassâ€¦I mean, the first few drawings I did of him, heâ€™s got glass sticking out of him and heâ€™s all shot to hell and Iâ€™d watch those John Woo movies. I always liked the Chinese movies. In American movies, if you get in the gut, itâ€™s game over. Youâ€™re dead. But in Chinese movies, the only thing slowing you down is the amount of lead thatâ€™s in your body from getting shot. They walk out together, just soaked in blood. â€œOh, see you next week, Joe!â€ Thatâ€™s was my take on it. Why not? Itâ€™s like a Chinese John Woo movie. He gets all shot up andâ€¦but Frank and me we got to make him a cyborg and then he became a robot because still thereâ€™s no way [laughter] Yeah, there you go.
How much of a lead time did you have working on it? Because I know the third issue came out well after the secondâ€¦
Oh, I was working on the Europeanâ€”the people were telling me how late I was. I said, I wasnâ€™t late. I never said I would finish it at that point. I said Iâ€™d do it when I did it. As it was, there was a whole lot more that I planned to draw that Frank said, â€œYou just gotta stop! Or this thing will never come out!â€ Towards the end of it thereâ€™s a huge massacreâ€”all those dead guys. I figured to draw all of that. I was going to show him killing like a gazillion guys and youâ€™ll never get it done.
How in depth was the scripts he provided for you. Were you basically having a lot of leeway?
Well, yâ€™know, like there are sequences in there that are not in the script because he said, â€œWell, he does thisâ€¦â€ and I always had a hard time kind of wellâ€¦like thereâ€™s a chase in the second issue where he was in that cop car. I donâ€™t know if you remember. All that was stuff that I just drew. I mean, itâ€™s not in the script. He says, â€œHe gets in this car and it crashes into this supermarket.â€ Then I drew all that stuff because I used toâ€¦â€œWell, thereâ€™s not enough action.Â We’veÂ got to have him doing some stuff.â€ I just drew it, because I never showed Frank anything. He never saw anything until I was done drawing it and that kind of drove him crazy, because he really like to share stuff and I donâ€™t like to share things until theyâ€™re done. Because Iâ€™m always afraid theyâ€™ll say â€œOh, this stinks!â€ And Iâ€™ll, â€œYeah, heâ€™s right.â€ And then Iâ€™ll start it over. So the best thing to do something is just draw it and here it is, like it or hate it, thatâ€™s it, and if you donâ€™t like it, you donâ€™t have to print it and well â€¦
We all like it.
Well, itâ€™s nice for you to say. I know Iâ€™ve kind of had a recent runâ€¦[laughs] I did some for DC Comics and they didnâ€™t run it. I did a Superman cover and they gave meâ€”the editor was a really nice guy, but he gave me some reason why they didnâ€™t run it and I was like â€œCome on!â€
That was recently?
Oh yeah yeah. I liked it. I thought it was funny. It was this whole thing, Superman is on a walkabout, kind of rediscovering America. They asked a bunch of guys to do likeâ€”Kevin Nowlan was one of them and they said, you can draw whatever you want. Superman, thatâ€™s the thing. Heâ€™s rediscovering America. You just canâ€™t show him in New York. So I thought about it. I thought, â€œWell, flying in front of Mount Rushmore, all this stuff…â€ I said, â€œI know!â€ I drew him having tea with this cat lady in this room, sheâ€™s like a little old lady and sheâ€™s serving him tea and cookies and heâ€™s sitting on her couch having tea with her and thereâ€™s all these cats around and all these pictures of her family on the wall. I thought it was funny! Thatâ€™s kind of America. They didnâ€™t run it. The issue was supposed to run and they had to change it, it was Lois Lane-centric and they had pffft! I was likeâ€¦and the editor was a really nice guy, he was very â€œWeâ€™re going to use it someday and blah blah blah.â€ But I donâ€™t think they ever will, because Iâ€™m sure someone will say, â€œWait a minuteâ€¦â€
[laughs] â€œNothingâ€™s getting hit!â€
The other ones are pretty much what youâ€™d thought they would be, him flying with cloudsâ€”and theyâ€™re all beautiful, I just thought mine was kind of funny. But itâ€™ll never see the light of day.(ed. this will be actually be seeing print. found out after interview was posted)
Oh, one day theyâ€™ll throw it as a bonus feature in something. When doing the work inÂ Hard Boiled, were you ever kind of do backgrounds and then do the characters separate?
No, I always draw the character first and then the backgrounds come in.
Because I was wondering about the scene where they were in junkyard where theâ€¦
Well, that one, thatâ€™s an exception to the rule. I did that one animation style. I drew a long pan of a junkyard and then I started and I just moved the background behind him. But I redrew it every time! I re-inked it every time. That drove me crazy. I couldâ€™ve just I suppose Xeroxed it, but I felt like it should be inked each time. So it kind of inches along. But that was a rare example. Generally I draw the characters and then I put the background on the drawing.
Thatâ€™s interesting. So you never reproduce images to re-use in stuff, like with a Xerox.
No, I hate to say, I always think thatâ€™s cheating. But thatâ€™s just me.
Iâ€™m like â€œOh man!â€ because Iâ€™ll always see guys and they do this, I canâ€™t, if itâ€™s the same background and itâ€™s just the figures that kind of change, Iâ€™ll re-ink it each time behind them, so if you put one over the other, they wouldnâ€™t register, because I changed it a little bit. But thatâ€™s me. I donâ€™t think thereâ€™s anything wrong with it. Thatâ€™s just a personal thing.
Thereâ€™s a certain loss in the art, I guess. I donâ€™t know, I always felt cheated when Iâ€™d read a comic and youâ€™d just see that the head would change a little bit, maybe an eye would go up orâ€¦
Oh, well, it depends if heâ€™s kind of trying to make a point. If heâ€™s got a face and heâ€™s not smiling and all of a suddenâ€¦Some of them play with that, too, where they just haveâ€¦like they didâ€¦well, Iâ€™ve never doneâ€¦where you have it like the guyâ€™s just a face, and the next panelâ€™s the same face, and the next panel is the same face and then in the fourth panel, heâ€™s raised his eyebrow, just like youâ€™re kind of giving a sense of time. That doesnâ€™t work very well in American comics. The Japanese can do it in manga, but I donâ€™tâ€¦Americans donâ€™t do it too much. I donâ€™t think.
Sometimes, but not too much. Itâ€™s more of a modern thing than historical, I think, or the last 15 years, especially with Photoshop.
I would ink it each time. I wouldnâ€™t just yâ€™know Xerox and put it in there. [Robin laughs]
Film:Â MetropolisÂ andÂ Blade Runner. I feel like theyâ€™re both big impacts on your work, stylistically.
Ah, not as much as youâ€™d think, because for me, itâ€™s notÂ Metropolisat all.Â Blade RunnerÂ certainly a little bit, but mostly itâ€™s Moebius, becauseÂ Blade RunnerÂ without Moebius just does not exist. I worked with Ridley Scott on a thing and he loved that guyâ€™s stuff. If you go back to TheÂ Long TomorrowÂ andÂ The Incal, thatâ€™sÂ Blade RunnerÂ and thatâ€™s always been my big influence was that. Frankly, I didnâ€™t likeÂ Blade Runner. I mean, I liked the way it looked, but I always thought, I thought it was awful slow. [Robin laughs] And I always wanted some action to it. I worked with Ridley Scott and we were talking aboutâ€¦ now heâ€™s an amazing guy. I learned this from him. Whenever he called me up, he would explain who he was. He never took for granted, â€œOh, this is Ridley Scott. Iâ€™m a film director and I directedâ€¦â€ He gave me his resume on the phone! Iâ€™m going, â€œI know who you are Mr. Scott.â€ He goes, â€œyes?â€ I thought, Wow! Now thatâ€™s class! He just did not take for grantedâ€¦and what he was talking about, he goes, â€œI worked on this film, it was calledÂ Blade Runner.â€ â€œYeah! I know!â€ Weâ€™re talking and heâ€™s talking aboutÂ Blade Runner. He says, â€œWhat do you think?â€ I said, â€œYâ€™know, I thought it was a really beautiful movieâ€¦â€ And it is, I appreciate it more than when it first came out. Iâ€™d seen Indiana Jones and I thought it would going to be kicking ass and taking phone numbers. Itâ€™s a different kind of movie and I said to him, â€œI just wish thereâ€™d been more action!â€ He said, â€œExactly! So did I! They wouldnâ€™t let me put it in there! I wanted more action and they said, â€˜No, no, you gotta do this.â€™â€ I was like â€œWow!â€ Then he explained to me what the action was going to be and I was like â€œWell, I donâ€™t know if that wouldâ€™ve sped it up.â€ Heâ€™s an amazing guy. I mean, the stuff that he had wanted to doâ€¦well, thatâ€™s a whole another story. Yeah.
Youâ€™ve been working in film quite extensively.
Sorta. Yeah. Not as much as like â€¦ I mean, when I work in them, and thereâ€™s these guys out there that work nonstop. I donâ€™t know how they do it. They go from working inÂ Blade RunnerÂ toÂ Look Whoâ€™s TalkingÂ 6 toÂ The Fairy Godfather. Itâ€™s like how do you go from working on something thatâ€™s really cool likeÂ Blade RunnerÂ to suddenly having to do some teenage comedy, that I donâ€™t even understand why they have to be doing these drawings for them. If youâ€™re a director, directing a comedy, you donâ€™t need to storyboard that. You should be able toâ€¦come on! Youâ€™re not dealing with visual effects where you have to know where all the elements are. Thatâ€™s completely understandable. â€œWell, weâ€™re doing theseÂ Whoâ€™s MommaÂ â€¦ ?â€ Those momma movies.
Oh God, yeah.
Yâ€™know, those! I know guys â€“ why would you have to storyboard that? But they do.
So youâ€™re pretty specific on what you want to work on?
Well, no, I just yâ€™knowâ€¦I get called forâ€¦I never looked to break into movies. They just called and I frankly never thought I could do it. Because the first movie thing I actually worked on was Ridley Scott and that thing never got made and I frankly didnâ€™t enjoy it much because it was a pretty hackneyed project, but you find out that these guys all have about 50 things going and theyâ€™re hoping one of them will catch. So I always like when people go â€œOh Geof! They optioned my comic!â€ I go, â€œWell, donâ€™t go buy that mansion because yâ€™know, theyâ€™ll option anything! You can get anything optioned! Theyâ€™ll throw a couple of grand at ya! Andâ€¦
Well, thereâ€™s many comics where you hear about, â€œOh, thereâ€™s a movie coming out about itâ€¦â€ I thought I heard about that ten years ago!
Until youâ€™re about halfway through the actual filming, anything can happen. Itâ€™ll fall apart.
Just look at Terry Gilliamâ€™s Don Quixote thing, I think thatâ€™s the best example.
Well, yâ€™know, you can be set to go, you can have all the actors. You can even be in wherever it is youâ€™re going to film. Itâ€™s a week before, and youâ€™re getting ready to go and bang! You get a call from the studio. Weâ€™re shutting it down. I was over in Australia and they were doing thoseÂ MatrixÂ sequels and the next thing coming in there wasÂ The Fountain. It was Brad Pitt was going to be in it, Darren Aronofsky was directing it. They were building the sets and they realized â€œWhoa! This is a $90 million independent film!â€ And they shut it down! I worked on one version of Superman, but the one with Nicolas Cage, they were building the sets, they were going to go. Then bang! It got shut down. It was still cheaper to shut something down and spend $5 million then to make a movie that they think is going to tank. Itâ€™s a huge investment, I mean, movies!
Itâ€™s amazing. Myself, I just look and see money going down a sink. I donâ€™t know. Itâ€™s too bad.
I remember one time I was working on theÂ MatrixÂ films and they were the sequels and they were getting grief from the studio, about â€œOh, you canâ€™t do this. Itâ€™s going to cost too muchâ€ and they were going to shut it down. I said, â€œWell, if you want, you can cut my salary if thatâ€™ll help.â€ They go, â€œNo, thatâ€™s whatâ€™s going toâ€¦that kind of cost is negligible.â€ They appreciated you asking but itâ€™s just not going to do anything.
Thatâ€™s been a pretty steady partnership, working with the Wachowskis?
Well, yeah, Iâ€™ve worked on up â€˜tilâ€“Â Speed RacerÂ was the last thing that theyâ€™ve done. They havenâ€™t made a movie since and with the climate thatâ€™s out there,Â Speed RacerÂ did not do well, so youâ€™re only as good as your lastâ€¦theyâ€™re trying to get projects going. Theyâ€™re having a hard time because â€œSpeed RacerÂ bombed!â€ â€œOkayâ€¦â€
Itâ€™s the unfortunate world of itâ€¦Tell me a little bit about the background to Shaolin because you saidÂ Bourbon ThretÂ was the earlier version. When did he first appear to you as someone you wanted to focus on.
Well, way back when, originally Iâ€™d done itâ€”originally, it was actually David Scroggy. It used to be Pacific Comics, which had doneÂ The RocketeerÂ originally. They were down in San Diego and I knew Dave Stevens. Iâ€™d met him. He was working at Filmation at the time. He said, â€œOh yeah, go down and talk to them.â€ I went down and I showed it to them. It was this thing I wanted to do and I showed them them the drawings. They said, â€œOh yeah, weâ€™d like to do that.â€ Of course, the company went under before it ever came out. But I always likedâ€”Iâ€™m a big fan of Japanese films, especiallyÂ Zatoichi. I wanted to do something kind of likeÂ Zatoichi. But I also liked spaghetti westerns. Heâ€™s got to have a six gun and a sword! I really thought it out well and thatâ€™s basically yâ€™knowâ€¦I like the idea of, itâ€™s all the way back toÂ YojimboÂ andÂ Seven Samurai. For me, the archetype of all modern heroes isÂ Yojimbo. I think you canâ€™t get by that movie withoutâ€¦heâ€™s just such an amazingâ€¦thatâ€™s such a great movie!
That kind of antihero?
That just kind of comes in. I love it! I think people have lost it. I just like that you donâ€™t know what heâ€™s done. You donâ€™t know who he is or where heâ€™s come from or why heâ€™s doing what heâ€™s doing. You get an idea just by watching the filmâ€”they give little hintsâ€”but I still to this day love the idea that you donâ€™t know where heâ€™s going either and you never do. I remember in those Indiana Jones movies, that third one, I hated the fact they explained why heâ€™s got the hat, why heâ€™s got the whip, why heâ€™s afraid of the snakes. Who cares?! As soon as you explain it, it becomes so mundane. The amazing thing about that is all these important things happen to him in like three minutes of his life! I mean, okay!
It kind of cheapens it.
In France, they loved that! They just loved it. They thought that was just brilliant. I was like â€œCome on!â€
â€œTres bien!â€ [laughs]
I mean, in France, I used to argue with them. Iâ€™d say, â€œYour characters, if they come in the door, they come in the door and they explain to the guy why theyâ€™re going to shoot him and why they have to kill them.â€ Then the bad guy says, â€œWell, yâ€™know, yes, but yâ€™knowâ€¦â€ and theyâ€™ll have this discussion and then the good guy will shoot him. I said, in America, you either bust down the door, you go in and you shoot the guy and you find out later heâ€™s an abused kid or whatever. Or not! [laughs] Thatâ€™s the difference between French and American comics.
And in the spaghetti westerns, no one would talk.
No one would talk and they made so many that theyâ€™re basically the same movie over and over, just like the Japanese. I donâ€™t think people in America realize how many movies, samurai movies, there are that theyâ€™ve never ever seen. Some amazing ones, I mean, really amazing films that people have never seen, black and white andâ€¦they know oh Iâ€™m a big fan of Japanese films. â€œReally?â€ â€œYeah, oh Iâ€™ve seenÂ Seven SamuraiÂ and Iâ€™ve seenÂ Yojimbo! â€œYeah! What about â€¦ ?â€ Yâ€™know, and then thereâ€™s these other ones. I mean, when I was in Japan, I mean, they were amazed! The Japanese donâ€™t know these movies any more. The baby cart movies â€¦
I mean, nobody knows the movies that guy, they made before that, that were just crazy yakuza films with that main actor â€¦
Oh, whatâ€™s his name, the guy that didÂ Battle Royale, the â€¦
Oh yeah yeah yeah. Whatsisname.
Yeah, thatâ€™s it. Now thereâ€™s a guy thatâ€™s like man! Heâ€™s really hit and miss! Heâ€™ll do one really great one and then one really crappy one. Ever seenÂ Message from Space?
He did that! Itâ€™s the goofiest thing youâ€™ve ever seen in your life.
Just never watch the secondÂ Battle Royale.
Iâ€™ve never even seen the first one. That kind of film doesnâ€™t appeal to me. LikeÂ Saw. Those kind of movies. Hate them. Just canâ€™t figure them out. It totally escapes me. I donâ€™t like horror movies to be quite frank, with the exception ofÂ Halloween.Â HalloweenÂ I liked quite a bit.
Yâ€™know, I never actually watched theÂ HalloweenÂ movies. I donâ€™t know why.
The first one is a really neat movie. I think. You had this womanâ€”thatâ€™s what I liked. The woman, the Jamie Lee Curtis character, sheâ€™s not just running or she eventually eh, youâ€™ve got to stop. Sheâ€™s not a victim and most of those movies are about victims. like theÂ Friday the 13thÂ movies, I just canâ€™t watch. Iâ€™m a Dirty Harry guy. Iâ€™m waiting for him to show up and shoot Freddie and kill him! [Robin laughs] Thatâ€™s what I want to see
Why are you running? Just shoot him! Heâ€™s just got a machete! Whatâ€™s he going to do? Getting back to the Cowboy, so you were saying so you were going to try doing something with Pacific and then Pacific went under as many black and whiteâ€”or not black and whiteâ€”but small publishers during the â€˜80s. After thatâ€™s when you did the album in France.
Well, the story I started and showed to them, I sent toâ€”I remember going to France the first time, Moebius arranged for me to go toÂ MÃ©tal HurlantÂ and he took me in there and I showed it to them, and they said, â€œYeah, we want to print it.â€ Oh great! Yâ€™know? Iâ€™m going to be in the same magazine as my idol! I mailed it to themâ€”this is classicâ€”it got returned! I was like â€œWha?â€ It turned out in France, July and August, they just shut down. So there was nobody there to sign for the thing, so it just sat in the post office and they returned it to me. But at the time, I was like â€œWow! Thatâ€™s really messed up.â€ because it was a lot of money to me, to mail that thing over there. So I sent it back to them and they got it that time.
QuebecÂ does the same thing, but just for one month, apparently. August, it just shuts down.
Oh really? Itâ€™s not like it used to be, because I lived over there for, god, 13 years and theyâ€¦itâ€™s gotten better. But rules in France,Â they’veÂ got more rules than you can shake a stick at, but nobodyâ€™s following them. Classic! I remember when I first moved there, I said, my God, youâ€™d make a fortune here if you delivered pizza, because there was no such thing as delivery. Eventually, they got around to having to deliver pizza and they had the guarantee law. If itâ€™s not there in 30 minutesâ€¦and I remember saying, â€œWell, okay, if itâ€™s not there in 30 minutes, then what?â€ Well, it will be. We guarantee it will be. Yeah, but if it isnâ€™t? They said, â€œWell, it will be.â€ I said, â€œBut if it isnâ€™t?â€ They said–thereâ€™s no teeth to back it up. At the time, Dominoâ€™s, if it didnâ€™t show up, itâ€™s free. I said, â€œWell, is it free if you donâ€™t show up?â€ No no no. Well, so what? You can make any kind of claim. They tell you, thereâ€™s nothing toâ€”I had to argue with this guy on the phone about it. Because I thought it was just so hilarious, but then nobody follows the rules. You go to the post office with a package and if they donâ€™t feel like it, theyâ€™d go, â€œNo, we donâ€™t do that here.â€ I go, â€œWhat do you mean, you donâ€™t do that here?â€ â€œNo, you have to go to the post office in the other arondissement?â€ â€œWhy?â€ Because they just didnâ€™t want to do it. [Robin laughs] Sometimes Iâ€™d just go crazy. I was like â€œMan!â€
God bless! [Robin laughs]
Japanâ€™s a whole another story, but I mean, Japanâ€™s just so efficient. Sometimes mind-bogglingly so. You canâ€™tâ€”if thereâ€™s like a grain of sand gets into their machine, it just shuts everything down.
WithÂ Shaolin Cowboy, because itâ€™s work that youâ€™ve written, it obviously feels a lot different. You kind of have more of a sense of humor, I feel like or more a colorful sense of humor, a less dark sense of humor, maybeâ€¦
Yeah, and I always thought, and then the drawing was always funny.
Because with Frank, like inÂ Hard BoiledÂ andÂ The Big Guy, I mean, I think itâ€™s funny, because itâ€™s just so over the top. I thought I drew some funny stuff inÂ Hard BoiledÂ just because it was so over the top and thereâ€™s some little gags. I put gags on the billboards and stuff. Thereâ€™s a lot of gags. Frank, I kept drawing bulldogs in the corner and stuff ofÂ Hard BoiledÂ and he said â€œWhy do you keep drawing these bulldogs?â€ I said, â€œBecause theyâ€™re the dog of the future!â€ I just liked them! And so he said, â€œWellâ€¦he had to explain it.â€ So he added–Thereâ€™s a couple of pages in the beginning he added after I was finished. You see like a little robot bulldog in a corridor and he wanted to explain it. He said â€œOhâ€¦â€ I donâ€™t think you have to. But he was the writer, soâ€¦
Are there any plans to continue withÂ Shaolin CowboyÂ or is it kind ofâ€¦?
Yeah, yeah. I want to doâ€¦ Â spent three years trying to do this animated film of it.
Itâ€™ll never get finished and that was just time that yâ€™knowâ€¦It was really funny because people would see me and say â€œWell, what were you doing there?â€ Well, I was in Japan working on aâ€¦like a year or more, and before that doing this other stuff to prepare for it. â€œWell, are you still doing a comic?â€ I go â€œCome on man, do you realize how much work it is making movies?â€ Itâ€™s like yeah, I work 12 hours at the studio and then Iâ€™m going to come home and spend another eight hours making comics!
You may be in Japan, but you donâ€™t have the manga artist work ethic?
Yeah, but those guys, they all have like three or four assistants. But still, they still work like crazy, man. I got to visit a few guysâ€™ studios. Itâ€™s really hard to meetâ€¦itâ€™s not like here yâ€™know you can, Oh can I get Duncan Fegredoâ€™s phone number and you can write him an email and theyâ€™ll answer. Over there itâ€™s like â€œNo, I cannot give you his number.â€
Yeah, itâ€™s like Tezuka, he had this room that he worked in and only his wife had access to it or something.
Yeah Yeah Yeah. But I can understand. That guy, Jesus! Thatâ€™s guy like the Jack Kirby of Japan. He did so muchâ€¦
More so, though! Where itâ€™s just likeâ€¦this one guy was telling me a story…
The documentary they did on him is just amazing.
I havenâ€™t watched it yet.
Oh, itâ€™s really great.
Itâ€™s the one with the big book?
Yeah, yeah. I watched it in Japan. I was in Japan and they showed it. They did this wonderful program. Oh God, it was so amazing, because he and all these seminalâ€”I donâ€™t know if thatâ€™s how you say it, Iâ€™m going to mispronounce the wordâ€”artists that all started together and theyâ€™d all worked in this one house and I think they were going to tear this house down and they all met in there one more time, the guy that createdÂ Cyborg 009Â and the guy who didÂ DoraemonÂ and theyâ€™re all there and theyâ€™re all talking about what it was like all working, doing manga and it was just so amazing. Itâ€™s a community of these guys allâ€¦
Marv Newland, he was telling me a story of hanging out in Japan with Tezuka and how they would just be walking down the street and people would be yelling to him from cars.
Yeah, because he wore that beret and you could spot him. I saw him talk, at USC he gave this long talk, he had done this film and just an amazing guy. I was a big fan of obviously Astro Boy andâ€”my favoriteâ€”they finally translated my favorite comic by him, and that isÂ DororoÂ which I think is just amazing. I love that comic.
I have a couple of volumes but I havenâ€™t read it yet.
He actually never finished it, but itâ€™s just such a crazy great story. Itâ€™s a warped Pinocchio.
Iâ€™ve readÂ Apolloâ€™s SongÂ and that just blew me away, how much he was playing with time and just like metaphorically, so much heâ€™s throwing in with the culture and yeah. More can be said about Tezuka than thereâ€™s time to talk.
Yeah. My guy, who I really like too and gosh! I keep trying to get people to print this guy here in America in English and that is Sanpei Shiroto who did a lot of, I donâ€™t know if youâ€™d call them gekiga or chanbara. Theyâ€™re samurai ninja stories and Eclipse printed some of them.Â KamuiÂ is one of them.
But he didnâ€™t really draw those. He was writing them at that point. He had stopped drawing. But you go way back and he did all these great ones. The very firstÂ KamuiÂ that he drew and itâ€™s a little more cartoony and itâ€™s really fantastic and actually Kojima, who drewÂ Lone Wolf and CubÂ â€“ Goseki Kojimaâ€“ he was the guy that worked on it. In France, theyâ€™re printing them and I can read French and I can finally readâ€”Iâ€™ve read these things in Japanese, I just go from panel to panel, but theyâ€™re not translated. Itâ€™s a magnificent story of the social structure and the bullshit ofÂ bushidoand all that stuff. because I do think all that stuff is kind of bullshit. They always talk about how loyalty to oneâ€™s lord. Iâ€™m like pfft! Itâ€™s like the mafia now. Itâ€™s like yeah! Unless theyâ€™re threatened and then all that goes out the window.
I have a friend who will do the same, where he canâ€™t read Japanese, but heâ€™ll go to this Japanese book store in Vancouver, because they have like manga there for two dollars, so heâ€™ll just get stacks of stuff. He got this amazing ÅŒtomo book that has likeÂ The Wizard of Oz, but they all have like giant phalluses, but itâ€™s amazing! And no oneâ€™s printing it.
Wow! Yeah, thereâ€™s a lot ofâ€¦I mean, I donâ€™t know ifÂ you’veÂ ever been to Tokyo. But my God, some of the stuff, I was like Holy Jesus!Â They’veÂ got porno comics, itâ€™s like my God! If you were to bring that stuff to America youâ€™d get arrested! I mean, really itâ€™sâ€¦I mean, itâ€™s not kiddie porn and thereâ€™s no really children involved and itâ€™s right next to the other stuff. I mean, oh my God! Itâ€™s just rancid!Â They’veÂ been tryingâ€”they actually were trying to stop that and a lot of guys spoke out, â€œOh, itâ€™s creative freedom and this and that.â€ Well, on an intellectual level I understand what theyâ€™re saying, but come on, youâ€™re just feeding some ugly taste. Nobody needs that kind of shit.
Itâ€™s nice to see you coming to the comic convention in Seattle. Do you do conventions very often or this kind ofâ€¦
Yeah, I get asked. I love doing comics conventions. I like them.Â I’veÂ been to Seattle once. Itâ€™s really funny. I donâ€™t get asked that much and this year people are asking me. Maybe becauseÂ I’veÂ said yes. But I donâ€™t get asked. Sometimes I think that people thinkâ€”I may be wrongâ€”you work in movies, â€œOh, heâ€™s not going to waste his time. He works in movies and blah blah blah.â€ I think itâ€™s important to go out there. Thatâ€™s something Frank and I alwaysâ€¦comic conventions make Frank nervous. Heâ€™s very shy and whenever weâ€™d do signings together it would drive him crazy because Iâ€™d do drawings. Heâ€™d go, â€œYouâ€™re holding up the line, Geof!â€ Iâ€™d go, â€œWellâ€¦â€ Yâ€™know, heâ€™d get up and work the line, yâ€™know, sign, and then leave. Iâ€™d still be sitting there drawing, because heâ€™d just yâ€™knowâ€¦but I like to meet the people. Itâ€™s important.
If Jack Kirby could do it standing until a ripe old age, itâ€™s always nice toâ€¦
And Jack, yeah. Gosh! That guy! What a gentlemen.
But also understand, especially in situations like Frank and Alan Moore, when they came to popularity in a period of significant audience interest where it would border on kind of psychotic?
Yeah, youâ€™d haveâ€¦but yâ€™knowâ€¦yeah. There is that part of meeting people where some people are really really nice and other people are really really demanding. They basically comeâ€¦They’veÂ got their issues and they just come to tell you how crappy you are. I love those characters. Wow! Iâ€™m glad you got that off your chest! Youâ€™re not going to be going to Wal-Mart, buying a gun and shooting somebody. Thatâ€™s good! Why would you spend your 45 minutes waiting to get up here to tell me that! [laughs] â€œWell, Iâ€™m not going to read another comic by you again!â€ â€œOh yeah? Whyâ€™s that?â€ â€œBecause youâ€™re always late!â€ â€œWell, Iâ€™m sorry!â€
Thatâ€™s how it is.
Then donâ€™t! Iâ€™m going to throw it in. Iâ€™m going to throw in the towel now. Because of you!
But France is the worst, because you have to do drawings over there.
I’veÂ heard that.
People, you go to Angouleme and youâ€™re sitting there, youâ€™re eating your dinner, and they come up, â€œOh I want you to â€¦â€ and you have the fork halfway to your mouth and itâ€™s like â€œWell, yeah, but you can see, Iâ€™m eating here.â€ Itâ€™s always, â€œMy mother, she is dying and I have to go back to her.â€ The artists, there was a list of the excuses that people always used and youâ€™d see the guys the next day, theyâ€™d still be there. â€œHey, howâ€™s your mom?â€ â€œHuh?â€ â€œHowâ€™s your mother? You told me!â€ â€œI knowâ€¦â€ â€œDid she come out of the coma or whatever it was?â€ â€œOh yes, sheâ€™s much better! Much better!â€ Some of the excuses were really good. But some of them were just likeâ€¦
And yâ€™know, itâ€™s not just a matter of how famous you are. I have this one Quebec cartoonist was telling me, heâ€™s not a very big name but heâ€™s had the same experience, where everyone just wants a drawing. It doesnâ€™t matter who you are, but they want a drawing and theyâ€™ll come with five copies of the same book for drawings or like two drawings and one book.
I always get that. The things that you have drawn, that people are like â€œWow! Iâ€™ve signed more of that goofball thing I did, some pin-up of someâ€¦â€ And generally itâ€™s some girl character and aye yi yi yi. Frank and I used to talk. â€œWhatâ€™s this thing about Bettie Page? It seems like sheâ€™s so popular.â€ I said to Frank, â€œI think itâ€™s because câ€™mon youâ€™re a comic book fan and say you love Spider-Man. There is no Spider-Man, he doesnâ€™t exist. Thereâ€™s no Hulk, but Dave Stevens has drawn Bettie Page as a character in a comic book and oh! Sheâ€™s a sexyâ€¦and these guys have suddenly discovered that this comic book character actually existed! So wow! Wow! I couldâ€™ve actually met this girl! She actually existed! Itâ€™s like finding out Spider-Man actually lived.â€ I think thatâ€™s part of the reason why Bettie Page is so popular because I think Dave really just brought her out. Wow? She really existed? Dave actually met her.
He was actually quite important as far as getting her rights back.
And he took care of her! He literally, he took care of her. When she did come out, he made money off her and he wrote her checks, unlike Iâ€™m not going to mention his name. A guy who exploited the heck out of her and never gave her a dime. But Dave, he would take herâ€¦I think she died almost the same year as Dave. But he would take her out. He would take her shopping and take her to groceries andâ€¦I remember talking to him once about, â€œI was driving her and yâ€™know, we went by and thereâ€™s a store in L.A. called the Golden Apple and we stopped and she was looking in the window, because she wanted to see what it was like in thereâ€. I said, â€œWhyÂ didn’tÂ you take her in, Dave?â€ â€œOh, I couldnâ€™t do that.â€ I said, â€œWhy not?â€ â€œWell, she would be recognized!â€ I started laughing. â€œCome on Dave,â€ I said, â€She canâ€™t have the same hairdo! Whoâ€™s going to recognize her?â€ He said, â€œYeah, she does!â€ I go, â€œAre you kidding me? She has that page â€¦ holy Jesus! Sheâ€™s like 70 years old. Wow!â€ There was a wonderful guy, Dave. Gosh, that reallyâ€¦He would visit me in France. We would always come out and do stuff. He loved it there.
Iâ€™ve heard many wonderful things about him as a person from a lot of folks. Itâ€™s very sad.
Quite a character. Quite a character. But anywayâ€¦unlike myself.
Oh Iâ€™m sure youâ€™re swell, Geof.
I am now that Iâ€™m onÂ Inkstuds. Do you have a call thing like [sings] Inkstuds! Inkstuds!
We have a theme song that someone made.
Iâ€™ll send you a link to it. Itâ€™s about a minute long. Itâ€™s fun.
How long have you been doing this show?
Five years now. Five and a half. Yeah. Just over 300 interviews.
Has anybody been contentious with you? Is there anybody thatâ€™s been like â€œOh God, I wish I hadnâ€™t talk to that guy!â€ Besides me?
Iâ€™ll tell you in a couple of minutes.
Oh, you canâ€™t say it on the air can you?
On that note, thank you for joining us today, Geof! [laughter]