As the co-creator of two of my favourite comic series - Transmetropolitan and Ballistic - I always jump at the chance to chat to Darick Robertson.
This time we cover his entire career, from Space Beaver to The Boys and beyond!
ComicsAlliance: Ballistic, The Boys, and Transmetropolitan have similar commentary on the evils of power and corruption in the real world, is that an important aspect of your art?
Darick Robertson: Yeah, I suppose there is a running theme there. I worry a lot and I like to create from the stuff that scares or worries me as a way of purging those feelings, that anxiety.
CA: It seems like a stronger thread through The Boys than the parodying of superheroes. And then there’s the diversity present, as with much of your work — is that an issue close to your heart?
DR: I recall a moment in The Simpsons when Homer says “Every time I learn something new it pushes old stuff out of my brain!”
When I first started going to comic cons, seeing women there, unless they were hired to dress scantily and hang out by booths, their presence as fans was an anomaly. I recall often when signing, seeing a young woman get to the front of the line with a stack of books, and I’d be happy because I thought “Right on! A female reader here who loves comics!” and I’d ask her what she liked and often they’d smile and say, “These are my boyfriend’s.. he’s in another line, I’m not really into comics…”. Most women I’d meet at signings were long-suffering supportive girlfriends and wives. I was tired then of the lopsided attitude in mainstream comics.
Two characters that I am most proud of co-creating are Spider’s filthy assistants, Channon and Yelena, because I was able to draw Channon as glamorous, but tough as nails and smarter than just her looks. I loved when she became Spider’s bodyguard. Yelena wasn’t about glamour at all, but was funny, sardonic, and a great foil as a pseudo love interest for Spider. Both characters had brains and female readers seemed to really embrace them. Actor Anna Chlumsky proclaimed on Late Night with Seth Meyers that Transmetropolitan is her favorite comic and her fantasy football team is called “The Filthy Assistants.” I was thrilled to know she’d not only read it, but loved it! And told a national audience! Not because she was in some production about it, doing PR, but that she genuinely loves it and found it on her own.
For the first Panel Mania of March I selected one of my all time favourite sci-fi comics.
It started out as my choice for best comic of 2013. Now the first volume is complete and collected in a trade paperback, and set to be best comic of the millennium.
Ladies and gentlemen, do feel free to go ballistic for... Ballistic!
A genuine spark of innovation is a rare thing indeed, and something that Ballistic, by filmmaker Adam Egypt Mortimer and comics star Darick Robertson, transmits with shocking force. It’s perhaps the first comic of the millennium to leave readers physically buzzing with excitement, a future classic in the making and the Next Big Thing already flying frustratingly under the radar.
Butch is an air conditioner repairman who dreams of something more, something greater, something… more criminal. His best friend happens to be a sentient firearm; Gun is a foul-mouthed drug-addict who has entirely too much fun blowing people’s heads off. Together they climb the ladder of crime in Repo City State, a post-apocalyptic neon-nightmare world built upon reclaimed trash and constructed with DNA-based living technology – a city that is very much alive, and almost certainly worships HR Giger.
And then things start to go really wrong.
The pacing is manic as psychedelic and insanely detailed world-building collide with hyper-violent mayhem. Mortimer is refreshingly light on wordy exposition, but a handy breakdown is provided at the end revealing the mechanics and history behind each character interaction and glorious tech invention.
It’s difficult to believe that it’s Mortimer’s first foray into comics writing, or that publisher Black Mask Studios launched as recently as 2012 and currently feature one of the most exciting slate of titles for 2015.
Robertson, of course, is well known for his prolific sagas, tremendous character work and most of all, for his horrific depictions of violence. Transmetropolitan, his 60 issue cyberpunk series with Warren Ellis, remains an influential science fiction classic, while gross-out anti-superhero fare The Boys ran even longer.
The sheer lunacy of Ballistic though really does let Robertson flex his creative talents, and with a background as vibrant with life as the story itself, the result is like nothing else in the medium right now.
The comic begins with a fist halfway through someone’s face, blood flecks spraying across the page and drowning the gutter in red. It ends with the reader out of breath and desperate for more of this addictive, ballistic, madness.
Earlier this year I was thrilled to be invited to contribute a regular column to Vector, the critical journal of the British Science Fiction Association. My column, Sequentials, is the first time the journal has covered comics and I'm really excited to be a part of that.
Before my column kicked off proper, the year began with a Best of 2013 issue, so what better way to introduce comics to the Vector readership!
Below then is my look back at the best science fiction comics that 2013 had to offer, with a particular focus on four important comics: Ballistic by Adam Egypt Mortimer and Darick Robertson from Black Mask Studios; The Wake by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy from Vertigo; The Private Eye by Brian K Vaughan, Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente from Panel Syndicate; and Raygun Roads by Owen Michael Johnson and Indio from Changeling Studios.
Hit the jump for the full article!
Okay, first things first. Have you bought Ballistic yet? Have you back-ordered #1 and pre-ordered #2? Because this comic is selling out everywhere FAST. I hit up artist Darick Robertson for a chat on what is rapidly becoming the runaway hit of 2013.
LS: Looking at the hugely detailed scale of the world of Ballistic, and the mix of organic shapes and technological wonders, I’m spotting a little bit of Moebius as an influence – maybe? What influences have you drawn upon for this project?
DR: I love Moebius’ work and his landscapes and free flowing architectural ideas were an inspiration when I started working on this. Heavy Metal from 1980, and the magazine itself, were very influential when I was a teen. I recall the sequence from the animated film where Taarna is flying over the city on her winged bird creature (Moebius designs) and at one point she flies through this massive skeleton of some long dead behemoth.