EXCLUSIVE TO RSFC- AN INTERVIEW WITH MARC HANSEN 11/2003!!!
Hi Marc! Thanks for letting us interview ya! Here's the questions that Allen and I came up with. We tried to come up with things that we thought the fans would be interested in and also tried to come up with stuff that hasn't been asked before. Please don't feel obligated to answer all the questions if ya don't want to. Some may seem kind of personal.
Well...anyways...here's the questions and thanks again! -Naked BoB and Weird Allen
>> What made you decide to do comics again?
I had an urge to do something creative for the last couple of years and when an opportunity eventually presented itself to get the rights back for Ralph Snart, I decided to do it. I knew from the get-go that things would be different and that the main thrust would be web-based. I began thinking that it would mainly be a Flash animated cartoon, but only after doing some experiments with Flash, mySQL and PHP, did I decide to do a "web comic".
>> It was sure nice of Tony Caputo to give you the rights back! Was part of that deal to have the printed books exclusive to Now Comics or is he just a swell guy?
He didn't have to give me the rights, but it made sense to do otherwise. I wouldn't describe it as "nice", I would say it was a sound business decision.
>> Why release the trade paperback in black & white instead of color?
Cost. If it had been in color, and at 432 pages, it would've retailed for way too much.
>> How long did it take you to create the ralphsnart.com site? You seem to get those flash files up there pretty quickly!
I think the site has been up since June. The files would've been uploaded quicker if not for all of the problems and delays I had, like 3 major power outages, problems with webhosts, and having to learn Flash, mySQL, PHP and IPN very quickly.
>> Do you draw the web comic first or is it all done on the computer?
It all begins traditionally - the same way I've drawn since 1985. Ink, brush, pencil, eraser and bristol board is all I need. After pencilling and inking each page, I scan it and then color it in Illustrator. Beyond that is mostly secret stuff regarding how the file is treated in Flash and finally uploaded into the database.
>> When you were making Weird Melvin you mentioned that you really like Macs. What type of computer setup do you use to make the new Ralph Snart comics?
I use a Mac G4 Powerbook. For software, I use Flash MX, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. I use BBEdit to do all of my web coding.
>> Can you give us any insight on what Ralph will be doing in his new adventures?
Not really. Part of the alure of RSA for me is that it's written using free association, so the stories kind of stream along from tangent to tangent. Eventually, Ralph will get his brain back, which he needs if he's every going to have anymore dreams. The first few issues will kind of tie up some of the loose ends involving Dr. Goot, Holly Hornswoggle, Ralph's wife, Sock's the Cat, etc.
I'd like to do a story again with Doofus, Cousin Bert and the Purification Advisor.
>> Seeing all that beer and boobies in the 3 page Ralph preview made me think of this question: Will Ralph be raunchier now that you don't have to deal with editors and things like the comics code?
RSA won't ever be "raunchy" but will be rated "PG-13" which is beyond the Comics Code rating of "G". RSA should progress the way our culture has changed in the last 10 years. Although the women have large breasts in the first issue, there is no nudity, and the point was not to degrade women but to make fun of men's perception of women as just a "pair of breasts." I will at some point come up with a rating system and post it at the site, so that people know what they're in for. My outlook has always been that you don't have to be dirty to be funny, so don't expect to see anything rated "R".
>> Why did you choose $9.99 for the yearly fee? Will you offer a "Per Issue Fee" in the future to entice new fans?
I think $9.95 is on target for what you're getting. For 2 trips to McDonalds you get a years subscription which is 120 pages of ALL NEW issues. If I was publishing in print, you'd be paying at least 2-3 times that. True, you don't have something to put your sweaty palms on, but you'll have access to ALL issues (past and present) as long as you are subscribed to the service. With a traditional "print" subscription, you only get the issues within that term and not any issues before that. I won't be offering a "per issue fee", but the Preview will include more pages - enough to entice.
>> Are you going to do any more merchandising other than the beer stein? T-shirts? Posters?
My focus right now is the web comic. When it's seems justified, like when I have an adequate number of subscribers, I'll worry about merchandising. I don't see the point of merchandising a property unless there's new material being produced. If you can't live without merchandise, try petitioning Graphiti Designs to bring back the Ralph Snart t-shirts. They produced two Snart shirts and one Dr. Gorpon shirt.
>> Are you still going to finish the Ralph Snart Flash cartoon?
Oh, yeah! However, it's going to take alot longer due to the web comic. There are a few certain voice artists that will hunt me down and kill me if I don't finish it.
>> Are the cartoon voices pals of yours or did you hire some actors to do the voices?
There are friends and co-workers. Each one is a complete and utter ham.
>> What do you think about the current state of comic books? Do you think that web comics are the way of the future?
Part of the point of my offering this kind of Internet service instead of print publishing is because I think it's the future way in which creators should "publish". Print publishing needlessly wastes money and resources. For a creator, this has huge potential because they could effectively eliminate publishers, distributors, retailers and speculators altogether. However, I don't see most creators being able or wanting to know all of the technology that's involved to maintain such a site. It's been relatively easy for me because of my background. What I'd like to see is publishers changing their roles to that of managers and promoters of a group of creations. The publisher would facilitate getting the work created, put it on the web, handle taking subscription orders and essentially being the destination for the creative. And by being the "destination", I mean it makes more sense if there's a marvel.com (or whatever publisher) rather than a dot com for every single different creator.
All of this would eliminate at least the distributors, resellers and speculators. This whole process, if promoted vigorously and with courage could have a transition similar to going from VHS to DVD or record albums to CDs. It's actually more similar to the emergance of mp3s. Now you can legally purchase a song at apple.com for $1. You don't get anything physical - just the digital data that is streamed onto your harddrive. Yes, the song is now on your harddrive and can be written onto another disk (which is something you can't do with your RSA subscription because, as of yet, there is no copy protection), but does it really matter where the digital data resides? As long as you have ACCESS, it shouldn't matter whether it's on your harddrive or 2000 miles away on a web server. As long as you have immediate access, everything is transparent.
I don't think this is going to happen anytime soon because the main stumbling block is that readers need to get past the desire to have something in their hands. Fans need to make the transition from being comic "collectors" to being comic "readers." This has been my beef since I first got into the comic business almost 20 years ago - that comic book fans were more interested in the acquiring than the actual reading and appreciating of the artform. An opinion easily proven by the cyclitic rise and fall of the industry over and over again since
the early '80's (and before).
The bottomline as far as RSA is concerned, if you want to read NEW Ralph Snart material, you have to subscribe to the web comic. Each fan will have to get past their own preconcieved notions and prejudices of what constitutes a "comic book". I could go on about these "abstractions of reality", but I've already rattled on.
>> Are you going to do new online Weird Melvin or Doctor Gorpon comics?
I don't see that happening anytime soon. I could always do a "much asked for" cross-over with Ralph Snart, Weird Melvin and Dr. Gorpon. That would be interesting at the least! I would have to come up with a story that made sense in the Ralph Snart universe. Hmmm...
>> Will Ralph ever start coming out as a regular color comic again on the stands?
I think I've already answered that with my opinions of print vs web publishing. No new RSA material will never be a published in print again.
>> Will you be going to comic conventions to promote the new Ralph Snart web comics?
That's definately a possibility in the future. I've been so busy lately, that I haven't had time to give it much thought.
>> So what type of work did you do between Weird Melvin and the return of Ralph Snart?
Advertising and programming. No drawing at all which is too bad. After the demise of Weird Melvin, I didn't have the desire.
>> Why did you write Married with Children under a pen name?
After Sony bought Columbia Pictures, they wanted to remove me as writer of the book. It was Tony's idea for me to write under another name to fool Sony. So, I kept writing the book, and Sony thought they had gotten a new writer (Ty Addams) for the series. Those eediots!
>> You mentioned in one of the old Fan Club issues that you admired Carl Barks. Is that what drew you to go work for Disney's comics?
No, I thought that they would pay well which wasn't the case. I asked for more money, which I thought was justified since the artists were almost tracing the layouts of my storyboard scripts (and without shame), but no dice. I did a few stories just to say I worked for Disney and then quit.
>> How did you get into computer programming?
Programming is very creative which most people don't understand. You take whatever ideas you can come up with and communicate them by writing the code. The computer is the single most powerful and effective tool we've come up with, but to make it do anything takes programs. Understanding how programs work, helps in understanding how to use them effectively. Being able to write my own
software can be a very useful thing as in the case of the the Ralphs Snart website. It's a dynamically-generated and database-driven site that couldn't exist without alot of coding. The hardest part of programming, however, is how "at odds" my mind can get when going from drawing traditional art to writing code. Must be the left and right sides of my brain aren't getting along.
>> What can you tell us of your personal life? Wife? Kids?
>> Do you have any pets? If not, why not? A lizard?
>> Where are you living now?
>> Do you still have two homes/apartments, one just for creating art?
>> Do you still prefer to ride a bike over driving a car?
>> My wife bought a 2002 Beetle and girlied it up into some kind of pansy-mobile. Now I'm too embarrassed to drive it...umm...anyways do you still collect Volkswagen Beetles?
After my divorce, I have become anit-materialism and very much the minimalist. I'm not into collecting material things - everything is temporary. Cars for me now are but things to get me from point A to point B. I also drive as little as possible - we're too much of a society that drives everywhere in a resource-wasting, polluting SUV without consequence. May you yuppie-bastards rot in hell!
>> What is your all time favorite comic, what issue? Why?
I don't have an all-time favorite, but anything by Kurtzman, Elder, Wood, Barks, Segar or Stanley is worth appreciating.
>> When was the first time you read a comic book?
>> What was the first comic you ever drew?
RSA volume 1, number 1. Before that, it was the little stuff I did in Fantagraphix. I really started from scratch when I did the first issue of RSA. I had been using an ink and brush for about 5 years at that point, and had lettered for more, but had no idea what dimensions, etc. to use for a comic page. I don't think I really mastered using a brush (for my style) until I started doing the Weird Melvin comic book several years later. My goal right now is to get back to that level after my layoff. As a writer, I don't think I started to do well until the later issues of Volume 3 of RSA.
>> What is your favorite drink? Beer? What type?
Guiness Stout Draught, red wine or JD & coke.
>> You've worked with Now and self published your own books. Do you have any advice on which way to go for comic artists/writers just starting in the business.
I don't think I've had a career anyone would want to emulate, but my only advice would be to be creative and to do it without ever expecting to get paid. Do it because you must. If you happen to make some money, then that's the frosting on the cake.
>> I finally got to see "The What Now Caper" via nowcomics.com. What did you think of your performance in that?
I saw it after it was made, and without a doubt, it was the stupidest thing ever. Total waste of time. Kind of like the Mr. T phone chat line. It's embarrassing that it's on the web.
>> What is your favorite small press anthology comic book?
I really couldn't say, I haven't seen a new comic in 10 years. I've never been a big comic reader - I like the creating more than the reading.
>> What do ya think of all the Ralph Snart fans who've waited these last 10 years for your return? Anything you wanna say to them?
Yeah, where in hell are all of you?! Actually, after having been hounded for years now to return to RSA, you should all be happy that I've now returned. I know I'm happy about it, and that I'm excited about what's next for ol' Ralphie. I appreciated all of the well-wishing and encouragement (and threats), and will bust-ass to bring back the mighty Snart to his former drunken glory!
Thank you Mr. Hansen for taking the time to answer our questions.
Ralph Snart is TM and © 2003 Marc Hansen. Used only with permission!