Comic Relief with Black Science Creator Rick Remender

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Rick Remender  is the sort of guy who really digs ray guns. And rocket ships. He’s in the business of creating worlds — far-flung macrocosms teeming with twisted mutants as wild and electric as he can muster. The writer, illustrator, and animator ran amok through the tropes of classic Sci-fi with Fear Agent, delivering evil robots, insatiable tentacle-monsters, and time travel from the first arc alone. He dodged the constraints of writing a character whose mythos casts a long shadow when he recently hurled Captain America into Dimension Z for a 12-year odyssey of grit and heartbreak.

Black Science, Remender’s new series from Image, delivers a beast of originality, avoiding any preconceived fictions with no real rules to abide. The series follows Grant McKay, an anarchist and self-taught scientist, who manages to pierce the veil between parallel dimensions. But a glitch strands him and his team into the existential ether, bouncing them randomly through the Eververse, never sure what world they’ll encounter next. Or if they’ll survive it. Drawing on multiverse and string theory, Remender created a canvas for himself that’s as boundlessly blank as sprawling, with infinite worlds born of every possible outcome of every possible scenario.

The visually-stunning first issue plunges the reader head first into a Rod Serling fever dream: McKay on the run from warring tribes of amphibious savages, racing against time and ruefully contemplating his own hubris. From creatures to spacesuits, the art team of Matteo Scallera and Dean White aesthetically tempers tension of the unknown within the familiar groundwork of vintage sci-fi. Any page could be framed and displayed above your mantle with pride.

Remender was kind enough to chat with Paste from his California studio to discuss his influences, anarchy, and why his characters get such a raw deal.

First Comic Written
Remender: The first comic I wrote was Captain Dingleberry, back in 1997. It was a self-published series that I created with some friends. We were animators working on Anastasia. During the day we’d sit around listening to Frank Zappa albums and talking about the crazy shit we wanted to see in comics. So, we started creating the most asinine, ridiculous things we could. That was when I caught the disease, within two years I had quit my job and devoted my life to the pursuit of the nerd arts.

First Comic Read
Remender: Secret Wars #4. I was a skate rat back then, and I was grinding curbs at a 7-Eleven. I went in to get a Slurpee and I saw this comic with the Hulk holding up a mountain and all these beaten heroes scattered around his feet, and I was like ‘This is kid shit, I don’t need this… but I want to see what is going on in that comic.’ So I bought it for 75 cents. I read it that night and was like ‘Well, I’ve got to know more about these X-Men, and who the hell is Iron Man?’ And the rest is history.

Favorite Comic Of All Time
Remender: I’d say for mainstream it’s definitely Frank Miller’s “Born Again” in Daredevil. And for the indie stuff, I’d say Like A Velvet Glove Cast in Iron, collecting Dan Clowes’ Eightball stuff.

Paste: Do those still influence you?
Remender: For sure. There’s something wonderful about the stream of consciousness in Like A Velvet Glove Cast in Iron that I’m going to be trying to focus on in Deadly Class, my new creator-owned book coming out of Image in January. That book really brought me back into comics because until I read Clowes, I was pretty done with comics. Superhero comics had turned to shit and kind of lost me. I read whatever Jamie Hewlett would put out, or a handful of indie guys. There was something about the way that Clowes captured the depth of an early David Lynch film, the strangeness, while still hooking you with a narrative.

Favorite Current Comic From a Publisher You Don’t Currently Work For
Remender: I am currently enjoying Dungeon Quest by Joe Daly. It’s another sort of stream-of-consciousness, very fun classic indie book.

Artist You Haven’t Worked With That You Would Most Like To
Remender: It’s a tie between David Mazzucchelli and Robert Williams. Mazzucchelli is just one of the greatest storytellers, his style is very noir-ish, yet expressive and dynamic. Batman: Year One and Born Again were the two books that really showed me that superhero comics could be more than what they had been. Robert Williams was the guy who got me into art. In 1987 he did the cover of a Thrasher magazine, and at that point my life revolved around comic books, skateboarding, and punk rock. Seeing Robert Williams’ cover really showed me you could be a skilled painter and still do low-brow, pop-culture-riddled craziness. I went back and discovered all of his work with Robert Crumb and Zap. Even though as a punker I was stridently against all things hippie, I really found that Zap comic books spoke to me.

Favorite Comic Book Movie
Remender: Road to Perdition. It’s the one that I own that I’ve watched more than twice. Superman, the original, would come in second place if I had to go superhero.

Craziest Fan Story
Remender: When I had to shut down Facebook after doing Franken-Castle. That was my first transition, going from indie work, where people respect and want to see inventive things that are unexpected, to some of the more pedantic mainstream fans who don’t want that. They want you to just regurgitate the same kind of shit they’re used to. Some of them are comfortable threatening one’s family and one’s life.

Paste: What kind of stuff were you getting?
Remender: I had somebody say ‘I hope you fucking die of AIDS’ and ‘Eat shit, I hope you fucking choke to death.’ And because my Facebook page was wide open at that point, there were some pictures of my kids, and he said ‘By the way, cute kids.’ That was the topper. I cut everyone off from Facebook who I didn’t know and shut it down.

Click over to Page Two to read about the reality-hopping punk anarchy of Black Science and Rick Remender’s philosophy on writing mainstream and creator-owned properties.

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