One of the many announcements rolling out of C2E2 this weekend is the new project we teased here a couple of weeks ago by Peter Panzerfaust writer Kurtis Wiebe and artist Roc Upchurch. The title of the series is Rat Queens and it will be published by Image Comics’ Shadowline imprint.
“Rat Queens will follow the exploits of four monster-hunting women whose love of partying is outweighed only by their love of exacting sweet, brutal revenge on their enemies.”
Sounds fun, right?
I have got a five-page preview below that says just that. But first, I had a chance to ask the writer, Kurtis Wiebe, a few questions.
G3: What led to you and Meg Dejmal to teaming up to work on Rat Queens, and how did you come up with the idea for the story? Had you worked together before?
KW: I’ve known Meg over a year through Tumblr and had always been a big fan of her creative work with photography. When I first started to conceptualize the series, I wanted to bring her on to help develop the characters and establish the feel of the world. This was our first creative collaboration.
As for the original idea, it actually started about a year and a half ago when I first approached Roc Upchurch about a series called Goblinettes. It was another fantasy comedy about an all-girl goblin punk band that traveled around and got into shenanigans. I think the core idea was solid but not quite marketable enough to sell. Still, I knew Roc liked the fantasy genre and it was one that I’d been dying to dabble in for years, so instead of giving up I just started from scratch with something new.
G3: How did you work together to create the characters and their festive backstory? Did Roc Upchurch have an active role in the character concepts?
KW: I had the basic premise for each character; Hannah was a Rockabilly Elven Mage, Dee was a Human Atheist Cleric, Betty was a hippy Hobbit thief, and Violet was a hipster dwarf soldier. I had a few notes on their personality and general look, but once I handed it over to Roc he really made it come to life. He did a few stages of designs and we all worked together on finding the exact right look.
G3: Hannah, Violet, Betty and Dee are foul-mouthed, hard-partying monster killers for hire; is the story going to be all “gold, guts and grog,” or do you have any underlying, perhaps thought-provoking themes that you intend to explore?
KW: I’ve written some fairly in depth backgrounds for each of the main characters, sort of branching off story points that we can slowly weave into the plot. I’m obviously going to be telling a pretty frenetic action story (lots of blood and booze) but as the story rolls along there will be quite a few reoccurring themes and plots that grow larger as it goes on. That said, it IS an action comedy series, so we don’t plan to get too serious. I suppose a good comparison would be Buffy or Angel, where they do a nice balance of comedy and drama.
G3: What can you tell us about the supporting cast? Do the Rat Queens have a nemesis?
KW: Yes! Keep in mind, these girls not only kill the monsters in the outlying lands around their hometown of Palisade, but they also throw massive parties that most of the time are more dangerous than the creatures they kill. There are a few people who live there that would very much like to see the Rat Queens move on to greener pastures. Preferably 1000 miles away if possible. They also have a few interesting allies that I’m excited to reveal as the series develops.
G3: Rat Queens employs a bunch of familiar tropes; it’s a fantasy world, geek-culture mash-up, but what sets Rat Queens apart?
KW: This series is a love letter to the last 20 years of my life spent playing endless video games, board games and D&D. I’ve been an avid gamer my entire life and I can’t even begin to imagine how many thousands of hours I’ve spent sitting around telling fantasy stories and rolling dice. I think if you’re also connected to that world, be it D&D, World of Warcraft, or video games like Dragon Age, you’re going to understand it in ways most people won’t. I think this will be a fun series for any audience, but for people who grew up loving fantasy games, you’re going to enjoy it on a whole different level.
G3: From Green Wake to Peter Panzerfaust to Rat Queens, that’s quite a variable body of work; what or who are some of your influences and inspirations?
KW: There are so many influences it’s sometimes hard to nail down what exactly they are. Independent comics are a primary inspiration because I know what other creators put into their books, the sacrifices they make to tell a story they absolutely must share with the world. It’s about passion and taking a risk on your work.
I also watch a lot of film and TV shows in almost any genre. Great filmmakers like Lynch, Cronenberg, Egoyan, and Rian Johnson have directly inspired new ideas in my own work and challenged my thoughts and world view.
I could go on, but we’d be here all day.
G3: What are your favorite comics right now?
KW: I just finished Charles Burns “The Hive” and really loved it. I also am keeping up on Stokoe’s Godzilla Half Century War (because I adore his art), Saga, and I just purchased the collected Punk Rock Jesus because I fell behind on issues after #2 even though I loved it.
G3: If you could be any of the characters that you’ve written (including the Rat Queens), who would it be and why?
KW: For Rat Queens? Well, Dee is sort of based on my experience growing up with a lot of religion so I’d say I identify with her in a lot of ways but Betty is this carefree, ‘let’s all get along’ type that I am to some degree but would love to be more like. I think there’s a bit of me in each of the characters. I still look better in a beard than them, though.
Morley Mack from Green Wake was a lot of what I was going through in life at the time made flesh. I wouldn’t say I want to be him now, but we shared a lot of similar headspace for a long time. I think of all my work he is a character that is closest to me.
As promised, here’s that preview. Enjoy!
Rat Queens hits the comic shop shelves in September.