When I reviewed the first two issues of Ruthven: Citizen Investigator a few months ago, I praised its originality. With its special effect-like appearance and intricate plot, it was unlike any comic book I had ever read. And as I went deeper into the story, the more curious I got as to how this creative endeavour came about. Luckily, I got the opportunity to ease my curiosity when the comic’s creators, C & Q Bowman, granted AP2HYC an interview.
AP2HYC: I think it’s fair to say that there aren’t many comic books like Ruthven: Citizen Investigator out there. Could you tell us how you came up with the idea for it?
Bowman: It came about as a result of our dissatisfaction with most of the comic books we saw that are available today. Many of the storylines are hopeless and not well thought out, and are basically regurgitations of the same themes. The characters are such that we, as the readers, were never able to develop any genuine concern for them as unique individuals.
Additionally, most of the characters have chips on their shoulders, and major anger management issues! In other words, we saw just the same old, same old offered everywhere. We wanted something more, something different, so we decided to quit complaining about it, and challenged ourselves to try to develop a series that we ourselves would enjoy.
AP2HYC: There are some striking similarities between the artwork in the comic and that of a video game or movie, was that your intention when creating this unique style?
Bowman: Yes. The gaming and film industries have a substantial advantage over comic books in the visual effects department. Our aim is to shake things up in the comic book industry, and incorporate some of these qualities into the comic book realm.
AP2HYC: Are there any particular comic books, films or video games that inspired you?
Bowman: Yes, we drew inspiration from television programs such as The Invaders (1967 series), Star Trek and others.
AP2HYC: The plot is rather complex, and it is clear a lot of work has gone into its development. How did you decide on the format? Was it difficult to adapt the story into a four issue comic book?
Bowman: We chose the comic book format because it allowed us to introduce the characters in a more economical medium. The difficulty came when trying to decide which parts of the story to include, and then trying to adapt them to fit within four issues.
AP2HYC: Who is the intended reader of Ruthven: Citizen Investigator?
Bowman: Ruthven is intended for those who can tolerate diversity in their comic collection. Admittedly, Ruthven: Citizen Investigator isn’t your average comic book. And that’s the appeal. It diverges from the commonplace comic in theme, language and art.
AP2HYC: Technology and design are big components here – do either of you have any knowledge or interest in this area outside of the comics sphere?
Bowman: Our interest is on a theoretical level. Our thinking is if “x” needs to be done in a scene, by what means can that be accomplished?
We enjoy reading about ancient technology as well. For example, the Bible depicts several instances of immediate translocation, food replication, fire that consumed water – just to name a few “techy” things. Is it just beautiful poetry? Or were the writers describing to us what is possible? We think that they were. To quote Marianas Kublai Khan (Ruthven: Citizen Investigator, issue #1): “Stuff’s goin’ on!”
AP2HYC: The reader is introduced to a number of multifaceted characters throughout the series. Could you tell us a little bit about your thoughts behind character development?
Bowman: We try to use an unscripted, impromptu approach when we develop our characters to make them more natural. Surprisingly, we found that our characters tended to take on lives of their own, expanding beyond what we had originally planned for them. There is a certain dynamism between these particular characters, and it’s apparent throughout the series.
AP2HYC: What was your favourite aspect of creating Ruthven: Citizen Investigator?
Bowman: Having complete freedom to try different ideas the way we want to, and not having agendas from others shutting everything down.
AP2HYC: Was it difficult working together? How do you divide the work?
Bowman: We actually work very well together. Like everyone, we have our own strengths and weaknesses. Generally, we bring our individual versions of a given scene to the table, and then let our brainstorming sessions take it to a level that neither of us could have imagined on our own.
AP2HYC: Lastly, what is next for C & Q Bowman? Are you working on anything at the moment?
Bowman: We’re currently developing an expanded version of Ruthven: Citizen Investigator, which will delve into the background of the characters. Additionally, we’re in the early stages of developing a separate sci-fi series, and also a comedy series. So stay tuned!
We at AP2HYC would like to thank C & Q Bowman for taking the time to answer our questions, and we look forward to seeing what they’ve got in store for us in the future.
Have you read Ruthven: Citizen Investigator yet? What did you think? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!