Jorg Tittel is the creator/writer of the superbly subversive Ricky Rouse Has A Gun. We recently had a chance to talk to Jorg about working on the graphic novel and discussed furry ripoffs, 80’s action flicks, and the joys of limited edition gold plated hardcovers.
AP2HYC: Hi Jorg, can you tell us a little bit about Ricky Rouse Has A Gun?
Jorg Tittel: Ricky Rouse Has a Gun is a 180 page graphic novel with beautiful art by John Aggs and totally mediocre writing by me, made interesting only by the fact that a lot of those two dimensional characters are wearing silly, furry ripoff costumes. I think we’ll get away with it. Wait, scrap that, it’s the best bloody thing I’ve ever done. Hey, where are you going?
AP2HYC: Where exactly did this project come from?
Jorg: Despite appearances, it did not come from China. The idea came mostly from my warped subconscious, and I found the perfect ally in John Aggs, whose style is a unique blend of Western and Eastern styles and sensibilities. But it also came from the fact that obviously China is the most serious and growing contender on the global stage, and America has had a few skeletons in its closet over the last few decades… there’s Iraq, Afghanistan, drone warfare and mass spying and surveillance of course, but there’s also another crime against humanity: Hollywood’s insistence to churn out sequel after sequel and remake after remake. Perhaps China isn’t the biggest culprit in the ripoff industry.
AP2HYC: In the foreward, you talk of the Chinese practice of shanzhai, but can you elaborate some more on your inspirations?
Jorg: The foreword was actually written by Professor Chris Sprigman, whose book “The Knockoff Economy” (Oxford University Press) is a must read for anyone involved in the creative industries. I touched upon some of my inspirations earlier but for all the critique of contemporary Western culture, I was raised on American cinema, especially those badass 1980’s action blockbusters and comedies. Ricky Rouse is as much a critique as it is an embrace of Hollywood. A gentle, warm “Fuck You Hug” if you will.
AP2HYC: What’s it been like working with John Aggs? How did they enter into the project?
Jorg: It’s very hard to find a great artist to work on a graphic novel, particularly if you’ve never written a graphic novel before – and since most great artists are booked months if not years in advance. I lucked out with John – he was introduced to me by the awesome Paul Duffield (you should all read his Firelight Isle!) – and just happened to be able to push his schedule around enough to squeeze this epic story in between projects. It took us nearly a year to put these 180 pages together – which is pretty darn fast.
AP2HYC: It’s fairly obvious who Ricky Rouse is based on. Were there any challenging aspects or moments in the creation of Ricky Rouse?
Jorg: Wait, how come you know my cousin Rick? I never told anyone I’d based this on him. Everything about Ricky Rouse was challenging, especially the fact that writing it coincided with the exhausting weeks after our my son’s birth. But I couldn’t have been in better hands than those of SelfMadeHero – Emma, Lizzie, Sam, Guillaume and Paul approach everything with so much taste and intelligence… they ultimately made this whole process a delight. They didn’t even bat an eyelid when I suggested releasing a limited edition gold hardcover. An incredible partner to have. I hope I’ll always be so lucky.
AP2HYC: How exactly did the process develop from the initial concept to the book that’s on sale now?
Jorg: Let me draw a diagram for you. Hang on, where’s my pen? I got a better idea: how about you come and see me at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival this fall! I’ll be running a workshop where I’ll pretend I actually know what I’m talking about. Here it is: http://www.comicartfestival.com/2014/10/writing-comics-jorg-tittel-workshop/
AP2HYC: Can we expect to see more of Ricky Rouse? Or have you any other projects you’re working on?
Jorg: I hope we’ll be seeing more of the Rouse. He’s taken up a very special place in my heart. I tell you what: you get all your readers to buy it (preferably three copies each – it’s a wicked Christmas present, the story taking place on Christmas Day and all!) especially when the book comes out as a more affordable paperback in September, and then I promise the Rouse will return. Otherwise, my wife Alex and I run a production company (www.Oiffy.com). We produce, write and direct West End shows, work on the occasional video game and are currently busy gearing up for a 2015 shoot of our first feature, The White King, based on György Dragomán’s seminal novel. Oh, and there’s a sci-fi comic book series I’ve been writing. I promise to say more about that before the end of the year!
Many thanks and hope your readers enjoy Ricky Rouse Has a Gun as much as you have. It makes all this hard work worthwhile!
Get your copy of Ricky Rouse Has A Gun from SelfMadeHero here!