Late last year, I happened upon Red 5 Comics when the publisher first sent out promotional material when the line launched. Self-admittedly, I began my love affair with this publisher with the title Abyss. The fresh, unique take on super hero comics is helmed by writer Kevin Rubio, famous for putting together the cult favorite web-series Troops, as well as the mastermind behind Star Wars satire characters Tag and Bink. Mainly because I wanted to find out who does Rubio’s hair, as well as find out what the heck he takes to spin his funny yarns, I spent some time with Kevin to talk about Abyss and the third issue in the four-issue mini-series that hits store shelves this week.
Chris Murman: We’re witnessing a coming of age tale, combined with a sitcom romance, and a government conspiracy all rolled into one with Abyss. What aspect of this mini-series have you enjoyed seeing play out?
Kevin Rubio: The end (laughter)? Actually, I’d have to say the father/son relationship (such as it is) has been my favorite part to write. I could have written a whole issue on them just talking about the super villain business, but that would not have been a very exciting issue. But one of the things I’ve enjoyed seeing played out is reader’s interpretations of all aspects of the book. Some things that I wrote on a whim are read into far more than I intended; one person did a whole dissection of the title GRFX and its meaning (It’s just the Action Comic logo turned upside down – sorry nothing else was intended). While others find meaning in some of the character interaction that I only wish I had been clever enough to have thought of.
CM: We’re treated to an appearance by one of Quiver’s previous sidekicks in issue #3, what can you tell us about Schaafte? Is there such a thing as a cliché gone too far? (laughter)
KR: Schaafte is Arrow’s second sidekick. If he had a parallel it would be Dick Grayson. His folks were killed in a tragic “line dance” accident on Soul Train. The Arrow felt semi-responsible since it was hit cover of Sam Cook’s “Cupid” that Schaafte’s parents were dancing to, when the accident happened. He took Schaafte in and trained him in the ways of the bow & arrow and the ladies, and he was not only his best sidekick to date, but also an effective “wing man”. Their partnership ended over a girl. (But that’s another story).
Arrow has had to date a total of eight sidekicks through out his career. They are:
1. Beau: – Died when he miss-fired a boomerang arrow.
2. Schaafte: Left over a girl
3. Little John: Midget Sidekick – Death by elephant during the legendary “Wringling Bros.” caper.
4. Bill Gates: More of an IT guy than a sidekick. He still helps out when he gets bored.
5. Lego Lass: First female sidekick, accidentally killed by the first Abyss when she was out shopping.
6. Target (French Pronunciation): Victim of 9/11 anti-French sentiment. He was deported.
7. Quiver: Present sidekick. She won the position on the hit TV reality show: “Who Wants To Be a Sidekick?”
8. Nicolas Cage: Covering for Quiver while she’s away at Stanford University
CM: You’ve made a career by taking things right to the edge of the envelope, in today’s comics medium what would you call the “edge”?
KR: That thing my sanity teeters on every day. Actually, I would say that the edge is different for everyone. One person’s opinion of “going too far” could be viewed by some as “not going far enough”. But I’d say that Alan Moore’s Lost Girls looked out over the precipice a good distance. That and the website 2girlsonecup leaps right over the edge and lands somewhere in the seventh layer of hell. (trust me you do not want to go there!!!!)
CM: I think what has been very enjoyable about Abyss is his personality: he’s fun-loving, sarcastic and very likable for a villain. Why take his character in that direction as opposed to being despicable like most super-villains?
KR: Good villains are ones that you identify, and ones that don’t think they’re doing anything wrong. Taking Raifer in this direction just made him more identifiable to me as a writer.
CM: As a reader, Eric is someone I could see go either way: become the hero his father never wanted to be or a greater villain than his father ever dreamed he could be. Is this story as simple as the boy getting the girl, or are we in store for a few more twists?
KR: It’s funny because a lot of people have assume that because there’s a girl in the comic, Eric must end up with or get together with her. I don’t want to make it sound like I think Abyss is some great literary piece of work. There are far better writers out there than me (most of them working on Atomic Robo and Neozoic) but at its heart I hope that Abyss is a commentary about families today.
Before I started writing this book, I had the opportunity to sit down with Mark Waid and talk to him about what I was planning, and I asked him “What is it that makes superheroes like Batman, Superman, Spider-man and such, stand the test of time and become part of the zeitgeist, while others fall by the way side?” And his answer was an interesting one – They are a product and reflection of times in which they were born. Superman was a response to the Great Depression and the need for a savior. Batman reflected the public’s attitude towards a new thing called “urban violence”. Spider-man is a teenage superhero for the “baby boomer” era.
So when I was thinking about this series and what was common to this generation, it was that kids today have more than one set of parents, or in other cases – only one parent. And I think as a result kids/people search for other families, or parental figures.
So Abyss is about a kid’s search for a role model – a father figure. Which father figure he latches on to will determine whether he becomes good or bad. It may change in future books, he is new at this and he can still go either way.
CM: In issue #2, Abyss mentions how Arrow has been very irresponsible with his sidekicks. Having an inordinate number of them and constantly placing them in danger, is this aspect of the story more of a social commentary of this part of super hero comics?
KR: Yes. That and it’s a cheap joke, and I’m not above a cheap joke (as some critics point out).
CM: If I may, I’d like to give you an opportunity to brag on artist Lucas Marangon. What have you enjoyed seeing on paper the most for this mini?
KR: Lucas just makes my stuff funny (funnier?). It would not be as good as it is without him. He’s one of the few people I know that can convey a double take in a single panel. He’s also an excellent draftsman and creative in h
is own right. Originally we were going to parody famous comic covers, but Harry, Albert, Sam, Jack and a couple of detectives put a stop to that. Lucas came up with the alternatives and I think they’re far better than what I was thinking of. Issue #4 is my favorite.
And while it’s nice to brag about Lucas, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Andrew Dalhouse, our colorist. He’s been exceptional and It’s always a good day when I get one of his finished pages in my e-mail inbox.
CM: Finally, with one more issue to go, you’re set to climax so to speak (laughter). What can we expect to see in the finale?
KR: You can expect a tribute to the beginnings of rap music, commentary on entertainment/news magazine shows, and a reinterpretation of the book of Revelations.
You can also expect more beyond the final two (if I ever finish writing them). Paul and Scott have been good enough to ask for a second book, despite the fact that it took me two months to write the first issue of the new series. And while I do not want to give too much away, it deals with another member of the Hoffman family and how their appearance makes Eric question his career path. It will also deal with Superhero teams, Jackson Pollack and Nicolas Cage.