Okay Kids, it’s time to jump in the back of my Delorian and travel back to May 2011, when I did my first IM interview ever. Fair warning; I am not awesome. Lucky for us, Drew Rausch happily compensated for my nerves with great insights on ELDRITCH!, his penchant for rubber suited monsters, and his experience with creator owned digital distribution.
Jess Pendley: First off, I’d like thank you for being Comics Crux’s first official interview.
Drew Rausch: My pleasure.
JP: As an artist, who would you say were your main influences?
DR: I try to take a little bit of everything in, so it’s hard to narrow one specific thing that I use for inspiration. But I like animation and seem to absorb that most of all, stuff that pushes the acting capabilities of the character. I can easily say that the stuff Spumco was putting out was a huge part of how I think. When I was a kid, I read tons of comics and comic books. The weird stuff would catch my interest. The weirder the better. I drifted to the EC horror stuff. And Calvin and Hobbes. Just because Calvin and Hobbes is awesome. As I got older I started becoming obsessed with watching movies. Again the weirder the better and I was a product of the 80’s so I had tons of choices. Tim Burton really stuck with me. As well as the German Expressionism era. The silent films of the 1920’s like Nosferatu, Phantom of the Opera, and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (my personal fave) really struck a creative chord with me with their warped sense of reality and textures that I just found fascinating, They didn’t have fancy technology so they had to be really creative with their storytelling.
JP: Is there a particular comic that you remember had a real literary impact on you?
DR: Dave McKean’s CAGES. It was the first time that I was really exposed to his work outside of Sandman covers. Artistically the thing is a monster of a book. For me, it’s the way he portrays each character’s movements in the book. Real “slice of life” kind of stuff. I like the quiet moments that really showcase the characters, letting them dictate the story. All the acting really pays off when the quiet moments lead tot he all hell breaking loose mental breakdown at the end.
JP: In the past you’ve been a proponent of the digital distribution of comics. Do you feel that the digital medium can portray work like CAGES as effectively as the physical one?
DR: Sure! The digital medium is just another format in which to read a comic. It doesn’t actually change the way you would read it or the material itself. Anyway it’s seen it’s a great read. In fact, I think bringing books, like CAGES, into the digital catalog would benefit it in the long run. Almost everyone has some sort of digital reading device handy, iPad, phone, or at the very least a computer. And if distributors continue to make purchasing digital comics as easy as they have been doing, if not easier, than a larger audience can experience it
JP: On the topic of digital distribution, you’ll be releasing ELDRITCH! soon in a completely digital format. Can you explain how ELDRITCH! was brought to fruition?
DR: A couple years back it was suggested to me that I should enter DC Comics Zuda competition. While trying to come up with an idea to enter with, Aaron Alexovich (who worked on Avatar the Last Airbender, Invader Zim, and created Serenity Rose) was showing me a pitch for DC’s Minx line that never got green lit before they axed the line. The character designs he did were really weird (Remember I like weird) and the story itself had all these Lovecraft bits in it. And that’s the one thing I can never say no to. I have a Lovecraft addiction. Like heroin with tentacles. Anyway, I’ve been wanting to work with Aaron since I met him and the Zuda thing seemed like a good opportunity, if we won we got published and made some money to fund our other creator owned books Serenity Rose and Sullengrey. So Aaron tidied up the script and we updated the character’s looks and soon were entered into the April competition. Which we won. Then DC shut down the Zuda line.
JP: When DC cut the Zuda line was there any doubt that your project would still see the light of day?
DR: No, not really. We had already started a good amount of the work for the first issue, which we didn’t want to just throw away. It wasn’t like ELDRITCH! hadn’t been received well, or there wasn’t a market for it. There would be emails, Facebook and Twitter messages from fans bummed about the whole Zuda thing wondering if we were going to finish. The only real question was how we were going to bring it to the masses. We were in contact with digital comic juggernauts Graphic.ly and Comixology and a few other publishers at the time of DC’s announcement, wanting to pick up ELDRITCH!. Aaron’s Serenity Rose book had started out as a webcomic and other former Zuda winners went the self publishing route, so Aaron and I thought we would help build the tracks into uncharted digital territory.
JP: Even with the aforementioned tentacles, would you say that ELDRITCH! is lighter in tone than most of your other works?
DR: Not really. I would say it’s pretty on par with the rest of my work. I find myself constantly straddling the dark comedy line.
JP: Can you describe ELDRITCH! in one fantastic, adjective-riddled sentence?
DR: ELDRITCH! is a grimy little horror story about a fearsome punk-rock science major who discovers her young occultist brother has a bloodstream squirming with black-tentacled monsters.
JP: That was pretty fantastic. If you could do a story on any character from any company completely outside of canon, who would it be?
DR: Godzilla. Or Ultraman. I have a serious soft spot for rubber suit monsters.
JP: What would your dream collaboration be?
DR: I’ve been pretty lucky with the talented folks that I’ve already worked with and the ones that I plan on working with in the future. And Vincent Price has unfortunately passed away. I don’t know, I guess if David Lynch wasn’t doing anything…
JP: Are there any other projects that you’re currently working on?
DR: Other then working on the 3rd volume of my creator owned book Sullengrey with writer Jocelyn Gajeway, I’m pretty focused on ELDRITCH! for the time being. There’s a couple other projects in the works after that that I can’t quite talk about yet. Some pretty exciting stuff though.
JP: Exciting like a Drew Rausch/David Lynch Ultraman series?
DR: The only thing that might come close to that much excitement might be a MadMen/ELDRITCH! crossover that I’ve been planning. In my head.
JP: And of course I have to ask the requisite comic interview question. What are you reading right now?
DR: Right now, I’m reading Independently Animated: Bill Plympton: The Life and Art of the King of Indie Animation. As far as comics, I don’t get to venture to the comic shop as much as I would like and when I do I usually pick up trades. The last few I got through, Mysterius The Unfathomable by Jeff Parker and Tom Fowler and Strange Science Fantasy by Scott Morse were really great! My wife recommended I read Secret Six: Unhinged by Gail Simone which I surprisingly enjoyed since it’s not what I typically would read. One day, I want to get around to reading The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec. One day.
JP: Awesome. Thank you so much for your time. I can’t wait to snag all of ELDRITCH! and hopefully we’ll be able to catch up with you again on your future projects.
DR: No problem!