Thee Comic Column #55: Interview w/ the Creators of RUIN

Banger2One of the things I really want to try to focus on more with this column is the world of independent comics. We live in an age when things can be seen and heard without the sponsorship of big, multi-media corporations; no longer are they the gatekeepers. That said, with a leveled playing field across the board how do you make your vision stand out and attract the attention of the millions of web users whose attention everyone else is also vying? It takes everyone who is interested in something, everyone who sees something they think others will like to spread the word and help make these projects happen.

Enter the age of the Kickstarter.

I forget how RUIN came to my attention in the beginning but after interviewing creators Darkersho and Ruben Rojas I know why it is holding that attention; why I am absolutely salivating for this book to take off and be successful – as I know it will – so it can branch out and give birth to some of the other ideas these gentlemen have for their RUINiverse. Here’s the Kickstarter video followed by my interview in full. Once you watch and read these I have no doubt if you are able you will want to go HERE and donate to the Kickstarter that will inevitably launch one of the next great books!

SCB: RUIN takes place in a post-apocalyptic earth in the year 4602. Without giving away any plot points, what can you tell us about your guys’ version of the earth that far in the future?

Darkersho: Earth’s resources have been ravaged, plundered and wasted. Water, food, and shelter are precious commodities. Most of Earth in 4602 is desert wasteland, or “Outer-Terra.” Population is dense and sporadic, small bartering cities exist in areas that are not flattened, at the Sun’s mercy and a little too far from resources. Those that reside here do so with a heavy hand or are stranded here. There are also beings not indigenous to this planet; they live on the fringe or under cover and are unpredictable. Basically, the slate has been wiped clean, destruction and greed have taken its toll; but life continues and the moral of the story is humanity, relationships and survival. I’ve stripped away the distractions and allowed the characters to do what they want. It’s a version of Earth humans have yet to fully realize. The waining aches and pains are ever present even now, and it could be our actual destination if we aren’t careful. This is very much a subtle cautionary tale that unfolds over time. When you’re reduced to baseline needs–survival at all costs–you find out what you’re made of.

SCB: How many core characters are there in RUIN and what is the basic “elevator pitch” description of the story?

Darkersho: There are nearly a dozen core characters at RUIN’s onset. But, and I don’t want to give away too much, each city of RUIN contains their own unique characters and dilemmas. Varying races of aliens, Outer-Terra wildlife, and mutants abound in the story. Earth is not a fixed destination, only a temporary salvation. In RUIN #1 you’ll be introduced to a ragtag group of Sideshow Freaks known as CarnEvil. They too are a major player in the RUINiverse, and every effort has been made to ensure they are authentic, deeply rich and meaningful characters. I’m no stranger to the sideshow scene; although not a direct participant. The readers will be immersed in the differing cultures of RUIN; they all desire the same basic and most coveted needs… survival, community, power, freedom. The characters drive the story; Ruben and I are merely chauffeurs.

The basic “elevator pitch” is Mad Max meets ALIEN. I think that description brings to mind imagery that’s in line with our story…an uncertain place, strange creatures, violence and grit.  For us, when tweeting or meeting someone briefly, that mash-up is highly recognizable and you instantly know what to expect from the story. It’s an honest pitch and true to the theme. Although, I feel like genre identifiers put a burdensome cap on creativity. I’ll hear, “Oh great, another apocalyptic story…” *crickets* And yes, it is… BUT we have so many rich characters and worlds to unravel; it extends far beyond the end-of-times-man-on-a-mission genre.

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SCB: Ruben, the character designs are not only awesome but also very original and varied.  Whereas some Post Apocalyptic and Sci Fi stuff can lend itself to a very narrow look yours has both a consistent tone and a lot of different nuances. Could you talk a little bit about how you came up with your character designs?

Ruben Rojas: “When I design my characters, I want them to look realistic. So I won’t draw someone with quirky armor with hundreds of spikes; I don’t want to fall into the typical cliches of the genre. Also, I am influenced by everything around me: comics, movies, music, and even current events; for example, the movement “15-M” in Spain or “Occupy Wall Street.” People in these protests usually dress alternatively, and it’s something I really identify with, so I use cues from my environment so that the characters seem more original and simultaneously realistic.”

SCB: Is there room in the RUINiverse to have stories that take place beyond this initial one? Are we looking at a completely static world paradigm, where the population and circumstances of that population are frozen, or are we looking at a world that has gone through a disaster or culling of some kind and can now begin to evolve again into something new?

Darkersho: My goal from day one with RUIN was always to break free from the linear main story. There are many twists in that story as well, and it definitely extends beyond the initial setting, but we want (funds permitting) to feature new artists and back-stories in each issue of RUIN. I’ve included in one of the Kickstarter Rewards a print comic for the backers and inside you’ll find two short stories: RUINer and Runner’s Blade. Also I’m adapting the main story into a fiction novel. I think the “misadventures of Ayden and Sasha” are really important. For example, in Runner’s Blade (clear homage to Blade Runner) Ayden and Sasha are bounty hunters who take a Spinner Ship (planetary commuter) to the planet Produs (planetary garage sale) in search of a Hacker known as “D3AT}{.” Now, I don’t want to give away the plot… but it is more of a streamlined Sci-Fi thriller and a side story. The main story grows exponentially after the first arc, and the day it becomes redundant, the characters will let me know it’s time to move on. I hope that’s many years to come.

You’re warm with the “culling.” In nature, changes take place all the time. We have seasons and disasters… the same can be said for Earth 4602. Only, life outside Earth is much broader and discoverable. Evolving is key to the story, and there are many Easter Eggs throughout the pages hinting at RUIN’s destination. But, there is an impending struggle that looms and forces our characters to make decisions they may not want to make. They must grow as people and face truths that are at times, harsh and unforgiving. Destruction and ruin, gives birth to new life. The RUIN world will grow, better or worse.

SCB: Speaking of the world, and again, don’t spoil anything, but I have to ask, is this our world extrapolated to a post-apocalyptic end or is this a parallel or ‘different’ version of our world to begin with?

Darkersho: This is our Earth on the way to her unfortunate mishandling and ultimate demise. Survival and growth are key to life, and nature always finds a way.

SCB: One of the things on the Kickstarter that I just thought was fantastic was the $100 tier backer reward that involves actually having a character based on the backer created and utilized in the RUINiverse. Could you take a moment to explain how this works? It’s primarily a physical likeness or will it go beyond that?

RUINsm

Darkersho: I have a few cool ideas I think the Backers at that level will love. Thank you by the way, to ALL the Backers! I wanted to make this fun and get people involved. We are fans of comics, making comics… this is not a gimmick. So, for us this is a very personal creative endeavor; it has b the way, to ALL the Backers! I wanted to make this fun and get people involved. We are fans of comics, making comics… this is not a gimmick. So, for us this is a very personal creative endeavor; it has been our baby for quite awhile and we are sharing it with the world. We want to work with each backer one-on-one to create their character. Now, we cannot deviate strongly against the story or do crazy promotions… this isn’t a call to graffiti our hard work; it’s a small collaboration. More of a team-up, that’s the goal. So, in the story we have numerous spots for supporting characters, and characters that will live on in the story. We will present the Backer with the story scenario (and try not to give away any plot) and work together on the likeness and unique aspects of their portrayal as a character in the book. It’s certainly a balancing act, maintaining continuity. Ruben has fine-tuned the look of RUIN and it’s something we both agree on 100% so the new characters will be falling in line with the others and who knows… we could break new ground with the Backers’ input and develop new story lines. I’m open to that and the support thus far has been overwhelming. We will have a lot of fun with it.

SCB: How did you guys meet and begin working together?

Darkersho: We met on a forum board. I had written RUIN for sometime and I’d been sitting on it, just waiting for the right artist. I knew I needed just the right co-collaborator to do the story and characters justice. I worked with another artist on the story and she was excellent but unfortunately there was a schedule conflict. I regrouped and posted an AD looking for an artist and asked everyone to do a mock-up to weed out those not in love with the story and to best gauge work habits/style. I received a lot of responses and I took great care to review each and every submission and portfolio. Ruben was the man; he nailed the style and feel I had been searching for. That was it, we hit the ground running. He lives in Spain I live in Austin, we’ve never talked on the phone, only communicate via email and we share pictures of our Bikes and Cats over on Facebook. We are friends now. An ocean separates us but we love a lot of the same music, comics and movies. We are dedicated to this book.

SCB: What can you tell us about Wicker, your second project that is mentioned very briefly in the video?

Darkersho: Wicker was a whirlwind; I never thought it would explode like it did. That’s how we found Ray Dillon. He liked the story but we are small guys and page rates and schedules can be tight, so he did the cover for RUIN. Anyhow, I’m constantly writing and I don’t typically judge one idea over another; I just let them unravel. I’ve got many comic scripts on standby, a few screenplays, and I’m 75% done with a novel I’ve been writing for four years with my writing partner and Editor-in-Chief J. Morton. There was a lull with RUIN, not in a negative way, I had just cuddled that baby to sleep for a minute. All was silent; Ruben was kicking butt doing his thing and I had a spare moment. And this character Wicker would not leave me alone. One day she appeared, as if to say, “Hey, A-hole… give me something to do!”  So I did. I wrote #1 in a day, posted another AD and the response was crazy; it nearly shutdown my laptop and my email was a nightmare. Marcelo Basile sent us his character sketch and I was floored.

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Wicker artist Marcelo Basile’s variant cover

Marcelo lives in Argentina, he worked as an assistant to the great Jorge Zaffino (1959-2003). The language barrier here is even more intense, but I write two scripts of each issue. One in my writing style and one specifically for Marcelo so that it’s clear and he can work freely without confusion. We make great use of Google translate and I do independent study to try and keep up.

Wicker for me is my second child… I did not expect to be as deeply involved and spearheading another project such as RUIN but I jumped all over the opportunity. Myself, Ruben and Marcelo are all perfectionists and we will not compromise. I now divide my time between the two. I describe Wicker as a punk paranormal thriller. The story is cool and calm with sudden outbursts of awesome horror. Wicker’s soul is bound to a Wraith from the astral plane, who once lived (as a male) and he’s able to access and see not only her memories but her daily routine. So we have a nice humor outlet there too. Marcelo’s work is explosive and breathtaking, and I try to cater to that with my writing. I rewrote the first script in fact, cutting panels and opting for full page shots to accommodate his visual storytelling. And the same can be said for RUIN. Ruben’s more of a minimalist like me, he will spend hours down to the finest minute detail. I’m incredibly lucky to work with artists operating at such a high concept level. That’s the great thing about Creator Owned… we do what we want, and what’s true to the characters. I wanted to showcase the art and not litter it with too many bubbles and words. The art is the show pony here and I’ll be the first one to cut copy. I letter the books too, which is great in that lends well to the storytelling because I’m looking right at the art. Here’s the synopsis:

After one fateful encounter at a rare bookstore Wicker, a young outcast who prefers the fringe, is set on an adventure she never could have imagined.  Unwittingly, she recites a spell from the Book of Shadows given to her by a witch, binding her soul to a wraith entity who was scouring the astral plane searching for his mortal murderer.  Now the two are one, and Wicker has no choice but to help the wraith right this wrong that occurred nearly a century ago in order to separate herself from this otherworldly stranger.  Her badly burned body is host to two separate entities as she struggles to find her purpose in her daunting and quickly unraveling future.

SCB: That sounds amazing as well! Okay, finally I have to ask about this. In the Kickstarter video you relate a story that served as your muse for the story  – it involves your Blue Doberman Pinscher Sasha running away briefly only to return at the crux of your search or her carrying a black bra and stiletto heel in her mouth. You can’t just leave it there. Was there ever any explanation as to where the boudoir accouterments came from, whom they belonged to or how Sasha came across them?

Darkersho: I loved Sasha; she was an amazing dog, I’m a long time volunteer of Animal Rescues and my love of Dobermans led me to volunteer at a great rescue in my city at the time. She was so smart and sweet. Before training her she would do things on her own; bring me the food bowl or the leash, paw at the door to go out, etc. She would often sit in front of me while I was reading a book or playing video games and if she did not get the attention she so desired, she’d knock the distraction from my hands. Her call to adventure, humor and brashness solely inspired the theme of RUIN.

NO! We never found out, and I tossed the unmentionables in the can. We lived in a nice neighborhood…it’s not like those things would be laying out. I have no idea where she found them, lovers or skinny dippers’ clothes at the nearby lake side, maybe someone provided her temporary shelter and she escaped (again) with a souvenir or maybe she just needed a girls night out on the town. She was a big puppy, 80 lbs and 5′ 10″ standing on hind legs… but a puppy. So when I saw her big floppy feet bounding down the road and underwear in her mouth, I laughed for days.

SCB: Is there anything else either of you want us to know about RUIN?

Darkersho: Rarely if ever do reviews or commercials have any impact on me. I like to take in whatever form of entertainment I’m presented with and form my own opinions. So to those of you that are on the fence, give us a shot, we won’t disappoint and you can expect much more from us.

Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

One Response to Thee Comic Column #55: Interview w/ the Creators of RUIN
  1. [...] year I came across a comic called Ruin. After researching Ruin in its embryonic state I contacted and in... joup.co/thee-comic-column-72-wicker

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