The Indie Side: Reed Gunther

I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about what comics I’m going to read with my daughter when she gets old enough to not try and eat the comic books. There’s a huge vacuum of quality kids comics out there right now. We’ve become a bleak and angry medium, striving for maturation despite wearing the trappings of childhood. There are few bright spots though… the work of Kazu Kibuishi, Paul Tobin’s heartfelt Marvel Adventures work, and this, Reed Gunther.  

Originally a self published affair, Reed Gunther is making the leap to Image Comics in the not too distant future, and it’s probably time you got on board. Like all good all ages books, this is not a book for children, it’s a book for everyone. Following a rough and tumble cowboy who finds himself just this side of the Twilight Zone, the book delights in monsters and mayhem, while still keeping the tone light and airy.  

Being able to balance fright and fun is damn hard, and Shane and Chris Houghton have managed to do it with aplomb.  Plus, the characters aren’t just empty homages or whipped up concoctions, instead the creatures echo the story and the setting in a visceral, real way, that reminds me most of the fun and fury of early Hellboy.  

As perusal, I got a little bit of juice from the boys for you guys to taste, below, so here’s an inside look at making Reed Gunther.


 

Joshua Hale Fialkov: How long have you guys been making comics? Was it a womb thing or later in life?

Chris Houghton: Reed Gunther is actually our first collaboration in comics. Although, we've always been goofing around and working together on films and music.

Shane Houghton: Yeah, we grew up pretending together and later jamming out in the garage so a partnership really always been a part of our lives. I think my earliest memory was reading the comics pasted on the inside of our mom’s womb. I’m pretty sure I left ‘em in there for Chris. We’re good about sharing our comics.

JHF: You're making the big leap from self published to working with a mainstream publisher, what's the transition been like?

CH: Very smooth! The people at Image are great and really let the creators handle their own books while always being there for support and help. Plus, they're willing to answer all of our many questions. With Image handling our printing, distribution, and some marketing, it frees Shane and I up to focus on the creation of the comic.

SH: We are incredibly happy to have Image helping us out with the business side of things and especially distribution! Teaming up with Image has allowed us to reach a much wider audience than we were ever able to get when we were self-publishing. All the folks at Image have been super helpful and friendly.

JHF: Can you guys talk about the decision to do what is essentially an all-ages horror western book? What all ages books inspired you?

CH: We never really set-out to make an all-ages horror western book. It was something that very organically grew between the two of us. We create a book that entertains us and keeps us excited and having fun. Don Rosa's stories, Calvin and Hobbes, Ronald Dahl books, Dr. Seuss, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were huge parts of our childhood and continue to inspire me today.

SH: I completely agree! We love classic all-ages books but also have a huge love for books like The Goon, B.P.R.D., and Chew. That’s probably where the horror side of stuff comes from. But even then, it’s more like supernatural stuff that flat out horror. I LOVED the Universal Monsters when growing up like Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolfman. Those stories really got stuck in my head so I love writing stories with monsters in them. Chris and I are constantly challenging ourselves to come up with new and original monsters to shove in front of Reed. Issue #4 is chock full of AMAZING monsters. I can’t wait!

JHF: I'd love to hear a bit about the creative process.  How do you guys break story and then get to finished product?

CH: I'd say it's kind of a 90/10 relationship in that Shane takes care of about 90% of the writing while I take care of about 10%. He takes care of 10% of the artwork and I take care of 90%. I don't actually write any of the story and he doesn't actually draw any of the panels but we talk a lot and have a lot of back and forth with each other. We collaborate but in the same way we let each other do what each other draws best. We bring a fresh pair of eyes to each others work which always helps strengthen the story and art. Plus, we'd be lying if we said both of our ladies don't overlook most everything and give us their opinion!

SH: Hey, I inked the gutters for about 7 pages in issue #5! That’s right, if any publisher is looking for a guy who can draw straight lines, I’m your guy! Chris said it best when we’re left to do what we do best. When writing, I usually call or meet up with Chris to pitch him the story idea and see how he reacts. I don’t turn over a draft until I feel it’s extremely close to perfect and then Chris usually gives me one or two notes about specific beats or panels. Really small stuff. And then I do the same with his artwork. We’ve been giving each other criticism for so long, we can really say what we mean and work things. We’re always looking out for each other so we can make the best comic book possible. It’s teamwork!

JHF: Favorite horror western?

SH: American Vampire and The Sixth Gun are both fantastic and really cool horror western comics that are out right now. If folks haven’t read anything in the Western genre recently, they should check it out because really cool Westerns are coming back. Outside of comics, I’m a huge Bruce Campbell fan and I would consider Bubba Ho-Tep a really fun horror western. Also, Richard Brautigan’s short story “The Hawkline Monster” is probably the coolest horror western I’ve read.

CH: Hmmm, I don't know if I really have one. I've always had a soft spot for playing "cowboys and indians" as a kid. I also love western flicks like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and of course The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. And I'm really looking forward to the Cowboys and Aliens movie this Summer! I never have been a big horror fan though. I was too scared to watch scary movies as a kid.

JHF:  Any other books coming up on the horizon?

CH: Shane and I have some ideas for other series but for now, we're mainly focusing on Reed Gunther. He's keeping us plenty busy!

SH: We’ve got some really fun and funny ideas for all-ages comics and mini-series, but Chris is right, Reed Gunther is plenty of work for us right now. Once we get Reed rolling, hopefully we can get some of our other goofy ideas off the ground.


For more info on the continuing adventures of Reed Gunther, visit reedgunther.com for all sorts of art, mini-comics, desktops, coloring pages, videos, and tons of other stuff.

Joshua Hale Fialkov is the Eisner, Harvey, and Emmy Award nominated writer and co-creator of the comic ELK’S RUN, TUMOR, ECHOES, and PUNKS THE COMIC. He highly recommends that you pre-order your comics, unless you are just happy being the problem and not part of the solution. You can find more about him at www.thefialkov.com.

Check out his series Echoes, debuting on Graphicly TODAY!

Comments

  1. heylook heylook says:

    I opted out of preording the first issue at the last minute from DCBS, but I’ve regretted it since. I’ll probably pick it up in the store when it comes out.

  2. MajorLaser MajorLaser says:

    Loving these various spotlight type articles. Keep em coming!!

  3. Love the art style on that one! Looks like a ton of fun!

  4. ericmci ericmci says:

    Takio
    Super Dinosaur
    SOnic
    Archie
    Tiny Titans
    Young Justice
    Mini Marvels
    Mega Man
    Zita the Spacegirl
    etc etc

    They’re out there man – people keep saying they aren’t

    BUt there are kind of a lot if you look- it’s not so dark and grim as people might say. 

  5. Bendrix Bendrix says:

    Don’t forget Marineman and G-Man

  6. dgazzuolo dgazzuolo says: