Welcome to Comical Musings and this month’s exciting entry into the Interviews With The Industry series. Each month we interview different personalities in the exciting world of comic books. We believe that all of the contributors to our favorite art form are valuable from creators to retailers and we celebrate them here. This month, we have the honor of interviewing a talented artist/writer that I believe is on the cusp of fame. One day, I truly feel that I will look back on this interview and think, “I got to interview Robert Love before he blew up…” That’s right, we are honored to interview the co-creator of Dark Horse’s “Number 13.”
Robert Love formed Gettosake Entertainment with his brothers, Jeremy, and Maurice in 1998, publishing their signature character CHOCOLATE THUNDER. In 2004, Dark Horse published FIERCE, written by Jeremy Love with art by Robert Love, followed by SHADOW ROCK in February of 2007. He also has an upcoming DARK HORSE PRESENTS comic called NUMBER 13, due December 19, 2012. Robert’s stories “The Blind Monkey Style” and “The Mad Mauler” appeared in POPGUN Volumes 1 and 4 respectively. Outside of comics, he sold the rights to a movie to 20th Century Fox called THE ADVENTURES OF VENUS KINCAID and has also optioned several other projects with Cartoon Network and the Disney Channel.
Deaux: Robert, thank you for taking the time out to answer some questions about yourself and the art form/storytelling medium that you are contributing to. Our first question is where would you say that your official place in comic-dom is?
Robert: I think I’m still in the beginning stages of my career in comics. Even though I’ve worked on several books, I still have a long way to go and I think I still can improve on much of my work.
Deaux: Is comics a full time gig for you yet?
Robert: Comics are not a full time gig for me at this point. I still have a full time job as an art teacher at a junior high school. So, I still work in the world of art but hopefully, one day soon, that I can spend all my time doing comics.
Deaux: How did you get started creating comics?
Robert: I’ve always loved comics. And like any fan, when I was a kid, I would make up my own. But in 1998, my brothers and I published an independent comic books called Chocolate Thunder, Nano-man, and Say What?! They were black and white comics of our childhood ideas. They were modest underground hits. From there, I worked in animation/conceptual design field. In 2005 we went to Dark Horse Comics office in Los Angeles and pitch them a few ideas. And the rest is history.
Deaux: With a little bit of research, I found out that the published works that you have been involved with are Alpha Girl and now the Number 13 (via Dark Horse Presents). Am I missing anything?
Robert: Yes. In 2004 I co-wrote and did the art for a 4 issue mini-series for Dark Horse called FIERCE. I also co-wrote and did the art for a graphic novel called SHADOW ROCK, also by Dark Horse Comics. I worked two short stories for Image Comics POPGUN anthologies. The were called THE BLIND MONKEY STYLE and THE MAD MAULER.
Deaux: You also do interesting sketch books that fans of your art can fawn all over. Are those commercially available anywhere?
Robert: I currently do not have a sketchbook on the market for fans. I’m putting one together now and I hope to have it out by the end of 2013.
Deaux: You were the first artist to take on Image Comics’ “Alpha Girl.” What was your favorite part of that project?
Robert: My favorite part on any book is creating the characters. It’s a challenge to come up with different looks for each individual character. I try really hard to make sure each character has his/her own look. Whether it is facial features, hair, the way the smile, walk, stand etc etc, I just really love making them come to life.
Deaux: You ended up having to leave Alpha Girl before the series was completed. Was it just time to move on?
Robert: The Alpha Girl creators as well as Image Comics are a good bunch of people. It has been nice to see that comic meet with the success that it has. I’m happy where I am and they are as well and we plan on working with each other again one day.
Deaux: Alpha Girl had it’s moments, but the reason that I hunted you down for a chat was Number 13. Loved issue #0! Didn’t Number 13 evolve out of shorts in Dark Horse Presents?
Robert: Yes it did. I originally planned for it to be a 2 issue series, but Dark Horse felt, as did I, that it would do better if they launched it in Dark horse Presents. I’m glad that that decision was made because it introduced the character to a much wider audience.
Deaux: Is it different for you now to write and illustrate for a full issue rather than shorter vignettes or chapters?
Robert: I think for me it’s the same. You have a certain amount of pages to tell the story and you do it the best way you can. It’s all in the planning , preparing and writing. A compelling story can be told in 1 page or 22 pages.
Deaux: David Walker is co-writing Number 13 with you. How long have ya’ll known each other?
Robert: Wow, I’ve known Dave since 1998. We met in San Diego at Comic-con International. We hit it off right away. He had a booth selling his magazine BADAZZ MOFO and I was selling and promoting CHOCOLATE THUNDER. We’ve worked on several small short stories together, but this is the first full mini-series we’ve worked on.
Deaux: How did you guys end up writing together?
Robert: Back in 2007, I asked Dave for his help on a short story I was working on for Image Comic’s POPGUN anthology. I’m not very good at dialogue. I know what I want the characters to say, but sometimes putting it in words is a bit difficult. So I called him up and asked him if he would like to help me with it. He said yes and we’ve worked together ever since.
Deaux: Number 13 is set in a crazy apocalyptic future with really amazing settings and great character designs. Everything is just larger than life. Was this world something that when it came to you, you captured the story, the setting, and the characters all at once or is/was it more of an evolving concept?
Robert: It came to me all at once. I wanted 13 to feel alone and desperate. I wanted the world to feel that way as well. So I imagined a world that was completely destroyed and unable to produce any life of its own, but where people still lived. I also wanted the world to feel and look polluted. So, I added radioactive trash in the sky as well as radioactive clouds. I never explain those thing in the story. I’d rather the reader have to accept this as reality (the world) without an explanation. I lived in Arizona as a teenager and used the Arizona canyons and desert as reference and inspiration.
Deaux: If you were to sales pitch Number 13 to our audience, what would you say?
Robert: Alone and desperate in a world that was destroyed 60 years ago, a young android has lost his memory and is on a quest to find his father. Hoping his father can answer one question for him, who is he?
Deaux: Sounds good to me. What’s your favorite thing about Number 13?:
Robert: My favorite thing is that he can do anything. I mean anything. The 3 issue series doesn’t begin to explore all of things he can do. Whatever my imagination says he can do, he can do. lol
Deaux: What is the planned shipping schedule for Number 13? Do you guys have all three issues scripted out?
Robert: All three issues are completely done. The first issue was completed this summer and the others followed. So there won’t be any delays in the shipping. It comes out monthly. If you go to the dark horse comics website, you can see the release dates.
Deaux: I am no artist, but if someone asked me to describe your art style, I would say “Cartooning with a Japanese influence, urban sensibilities, and a grand scope.” You have large vision and aren’t afraid to tackle large set pieces and intense characters. Think Japanese-type, graffiti, Warhammer murals done by Ed McGuiness. How would you describe your art style?
Robert: I think you nailed it. What I like about certain Japanese art is that they aren’t afraid to go wild with the designs. They go all out. I love that. I don’t like being hindered from going wild. I also like to try to put a lot of grittiness in my art. Like Jaime Hewlett or Paul Pope. I don’t want my art to be normal or standard, I constantly try to find different ways to do things.
I don’t want to be to realistic with my designs. I like to exaggerate in all kinds of ways.
So I like for my art to be cartoony, but cartoony with grit.
Deaux: Are you thinking that you want to do art mostly for your career, or do you have the writing bug?
Robert: I’m all about art. I will always be about art. I’m an artist first and a writer…..5th or 6th. lol
Deaux: Your brothers are artists and illustrators too, right?
Robert: Yes they are, but I’m the only that’s really in the industry right now. My brother Jeremy had a hit series for Zuda Comics, a DC brand, back in 2007-2008 call BAYOU. They’ve put out 2 volumes so far but I don’t know what other plans they have for that. My other brother has a webcomic out called SAY WHAT?! and it’s really funny.
Deaux: How did you guys all get into similar fields and how can one family be so artistic?
Robert: I think we get it from our mother. She’s always been the artistic one and has always been good with a pencil. We’ve all loved art and decided that it’s what we wanted to do for a living.
Deaux: Well Robert, thanks again and we at Comical Musings wish you great luck in your career as a creator and life in general. We have enjoyed issue #0 and I am sure that we will love issue #1 when it comes out tomorrow.
Robert: Thank you Scott for all of your time and thanks for the interview.
Robert Love is a special combination of experience, talent, innovation. There are panels in Number 13 #0 that are unlike anything I have seen. He’s got some history industry-wise, but is still a hungry up-and-comer. We should support his comic not only because he was cool enough to do the interview, but because sometimes, comic books are like a web. Robert needs Dark Horse to help him gain exposure for his career. Dark Horse needs Robert because come what may, Dark Horse needs as many hits to take off as possible. And finally, Robert needs us. Give it a shot and buy his book at your local comic book store on December 19th. If you like it, pre-order the next two. Follow his blog. “Like” Number 13 on Facebook. Tell your friends about it and lets pass some positivity and fiscal affirmation his way. Give him a success to be proud of with his students. Thank you for reading and stay tuned ’til next month when we will bring you a look at another interesting personality in the world of comics.
~ Scott Deaux ~