In our fifth and final Artist Alley Comics MIGHTY Q&A of the week, Richard Case, creator of Annie Ammo (and the artist of a legendary run on Doom Patrol with some piker named Grant Morrison), takes his turn on the hot seat.
Chris Kemple, Richard Case, Craig Rousseau, Kelly Yates and Rich Woodall are five guys who, in addition to their other gigs, have formed the webcomics community Artist Alley Comics. We’re profiling all five this week with MIGHTY Q&As and if you wanna know more — and you do — check out our story here.
Dan Greenfield: What’s your Secret Origin?
Richard Case: Bitten by a radioactive pencil as a schoolboy, I’ve been drawing comics of one sort or another ever since.
Tell me all about your Artist Alley project and how it came about.
I first came up with Annie Ammo when I was working on Doom Patrol. At that point she was just a joke character for me, basically a woman with an absurdly large gun with built-in coffeemaker while she wore bunny slippers.
Eventually though, I came up with a storyline in which she was a protector of children in a world where very few children are being born. Kind of a protector for the future of humanity, if you will. I also liked the challenge of coming up with a heroine that was a mother herself, and had to balance that aspect of her life with her job.
Cut to years later, when Kelly, Craig and Rich approached me with the idea of Artist Alley Comics, a chance for creators to publish their characters as web episodes under an umbrella brand, and I knew it was the opportunity I was looking for to get Annie’s story finally told.
What other published work have you done that you’re especially proud of?
My run on Doom Patrol with Grant Morrison still stands as the work I’m proudest of. Feels weird, considering its work from over 20 years ago, and I see plenty of gnawing drawing problems when I look back on those stories, but the cumulative of developing these characters that I genuinely cared about holds true. It obviously affected others as well — I still meet fans of our run that despite the bizarre situations, feel like it was the core characters that really made it work and endure for them.
What about some of your influences? Name some of the artists and writers who you’re really into, past and present.
Walt Simonson, David Mazzuchelli, Bill Sienkiewicz, Frank Miller and Mike Mignola were all big influences for me early on in my career. Was lucky enough to actually intern for Walt for a summer, which was an amazing learning experience.
In a perfect world, what’s your perfect gig? Besides Artist Alley, of course.
My daughter and I are working up some ideas for some stories. At 13, she’s developing into quite the writer, and it’d be great fun to illustrate one of the stories we brainstormed.
What was your first comic? Do you still have it?
Avengers #146: Picked it up when visiting someone in the hospital when I was a kid. I was definitely a bit confused at first by the story, as it’s the second part of a two-parter, but was intrigued enough to keep following the book. Been hooked ever since! Though it did take me what seems like years to finally track down the first part of the story, there weren’t any comics shops around me at the time.
What’s the most sentimental comic-related item you own?
Probably the original art of the last page of Doom Patrol #23, wherein the villain Red Jack holds the lovely Rhea Jones and declares “Today is my wedding day!”
This was the issue that was actually out on the stands when I married my wife, Colleen, and I had copies at the reception to give to some of my friends. I ended up having to work out a trade to get that page, as it was originally one of the pages that Scott Hanna, the inker on the book at the time, had been given. He’d in turn gifted it to Bob Greenberger, our editor, and so I ended up doing a painting of the DP for Bob as trade. Hopefully he felt like it was a good trade!
What artist or writers not involved with Artist Alley should be getting more attention? What’s your favorite work of theirs?
Love Cameron Stewart’s work, and really looking forward to his run writing Batgirl. Really enjoyed his BPRD two-parter from last year. Ben Caldwell’s work is amazing — his Wonder Woman story for Wednesday Comics was a really terrific re-imagining of the character and her mythology, and his own Dare Detectives is great fun. Also: Looking forward to Jeff Parker and Sandy Jarrell’s Meteor Men. And Jeff’s Batman ’66 work is so clever and fun, it’s how I remember comics being when I was a kid.
Single best comic book you ever read. Not story. Not arc. Comic. Name it.
That’s a tough one! So hard to single out just one comic as best. I’ll answer it by saying that probably the one that impacted me the most as a single issue was Swamp Thing #29 by Moore, Bissette and Totleben. It seriously creeped me out, and challenged a lot of what I thought a comic story was capable of. I was just beginning art school at the time, and was beginning to feel like I was out-growing the idea of reading comics, and this story, among others, dragged me back in, as if to say, “We ain’t done with you yet, kid.”
Tell us something about you and your work that we haven’t covered.
While I think that there has been a great emphasis in recent years that “Comics aren’t just for kids anymore…,” it seems it was overlooked that there should also be comics that are still fun, and weird, and not totally tied into reality. It’s what comics are so good at!