Villordsutch interviews Run and they talk all things Mutafukaz…
Mutafukaz (Vol.1) was released back in October 2015 and it is quite brilliant (you can catch our review of it here). Not your average comic and certainly not following the normal rules of how a comic should flow, this piece of art by creator, artist and writer Run was described by us here at Flickering Myth as – “An insane treat from beginning to end!”. With a Mutafukaz film on the way we took some of Run’s time to question him on all things Dead Meat City.
Villordsutch: When you began creating Angelino and his world, was this something you knew people would relish or did you feel initially you were creating something for yourself to enjoy?
Run: I’m not going to lie, to start with I just created the characters for fun. I latched onto their looks, and that’s about it. Then I started wanting to work them into little comic strips, since having characters based on their look alone had begun to feel sterile. We’re talking a long time ago here, because my first sketches about this world date back to 1997. Little by little, I uncovered more things about them, and the personalities of the different characters came to me of their own accord. I don’t know how to explain it. I have the impression that I didn’t write Vinz and Angelino’s personalities, I just copied them down. They started to come to life in my head, independently of what I wanted to have them do. Then I launched a website in 1999, and created a short amateur film in 2003, “Opération Black Head”, which you can still find on YouTube. Ten years passed between creating Vinz and Angelino and writing a real comic about them (Mutafukaz volume 1). Suffice it to say that I knew them like the back of my hand.
V: The paths Angelino walks down seem to suddenly flip here and there during the course of the story, which for a reader of standard comics – such as myself – is quite different (albeit fascinating). Are tangents the things that keep a story feeling fresh for you, knowing you’re keeping the reader slightly on their toes as they wonder which way the story is going?
R: When I started writing Mutafukaz, I had the main storyline set in my head already. That means that when I started the first panel, I already had a clear idea in my head of what was going to happen. That was very important for me, so that I could create diversions wherever I wanted and inject maximum fun without losing sight of the story I wanted to tell (which could have been a major risk). You’re right, there are a lot of places where I enjoy surprising the reader, because when I’m the viewer or reader, I hate knowing where I’m being led by a story. As chaotic as the narration might seem to you, it’s coherent from start to finish, and I think it begins to reveal its secrets in earnest from volume 3 on. Before that, it’s a bit like a treasure hunt for hardcore boy scouts.
V: Other than his eyes and mouth, Angelino suffers from a general lack of facial features, whilst a fair number of other characters within the book aren’t as challenged in the facial area. Did you isolate our hero for a reason or was it down to logistics as you knew you’d be drawing him nearly every panel and you wanted to save yourself some time?
R: As I said before, at the start, it was purely about the look. I wanted something simple with a bit of a Halloween feel, which was the basis. But as time went on, and the world started growing and filling up with new characters, I thought that it would be interesting to marginalize them graphically, to emphasize their raw deal. Sprawling Dark Meat City, where they live, is teeming with gangs, clans and different groups, like as many “families”, in the broad sense of the word. They each have clear aims and are governed by rules and membership codes depending on the group whose power they’re in. Vinz, Angelino (and Willy) don’t belong to any group or family. To drive this point home, I wanted them to look unique, kind of like aliens in their own world. That isolates them, and in a way, it helps the reader to identify with them, feeling as lost as they are in the middle of this dangerous world. I’ve noticed intuitively that the more a character in Mutafukaz is dangerous, the more realistically I draw them. It’s as if their nastiness has the effect of instilling some level of reality in them.
V: Regarding the up and coming Mutafukaz film, whose trailer [watch it here] and music are fantastic, how much input will you be putting into this? Are you the executive producer, making sure they stay on track, or will you have been there from the first brushstroke to the last over-dub?
R: I’ve really been on it: I was there for every step of pre-production, and of production. I say I “was” because the images are finished now. Studio 4°C did an amazing job, and we succeeded in working together better than I could have hoped. I was actively involved in the film, but we work as a team. My job was to make sure the world’s integrity was maintained, whilst providing ideas. The most difficult thing was explaining Dark Meat City, down to the smallest details. DMC is Los Angeles’ twin, viewed through a mirror that deforms everything, which is my view as a French person, with all the dreams and fantasies that entails. And for Japanese artists who have never worked on a subject like that, it wasn’t easy. Japan is like another world. But the result went further than I ever imagined. Nishimi San did the whole storyboard, and made a totally new mark all his own on the project. He understood perfectly who the characters were; it’s fantastic to be able to trust someone as talented as he is so deeply. I’m immersed in the sound side of post-production right now, and I’m planning to be actively involved there as well. This summer, I went to Los Angeles, to the very places that were used as references for the sets, for recording the sounds. That’s something I like, and I want everything to be as authentic as possible, down to the finest details. It’s not that I’m a control freak, I just like things that way. It’s also me who does things like uploading the teaser to let people see it online.
V: Your time seems – from the observer pedestal – to be centred around Mutafukaz. Is there anything else you’re currently working on that you’d like the world to know about? If it’s exclusive and secret, then other than the near two million Flickering Myth readers, nobody else will know about it!
R: For the moment, besides the post-production of the film, I’m concentrating on my role as director of the Label 619 collection. We publish original creations, which I’m very involved in, as well as American licenses. In France, we’re the editors of Son of Anarchy, Mesmo Delivery, Butcher Baker, etc. Amidst this collection of urban comics, which is a real hive of French talent, I also publish DoggyBags, which I created and contribute to regularly. DoggyBags is a wide-open field for graphic experimentation, which draws a lot of its core inspiration from EC comics from the 50s. Each issue contains three short stories that place great emphasis on exploitation, horror and suspense. It’s an exercise that I love, and I’ll admit that I would really like to adapt the concept for cinema, like Tarantino and Rodriguez did with Grindhouse… But animated, obviously 🙂
V: Looking at your early days of comic book love, who would you say influenced you to pick up a pen and begin to write and draw?
R: Like a lot of French kids, I used to read The Smurfs and Asterix when I was little. Then, when I was a teenager, I discovered comics, then manga. The Internet wasn’t around yet, so things filtered down to me in dribs and drabs. The biggest slaps in the face for me were Miller’s Dark Knight, alongside Liberty, Sin City… Electra Assassin by Sienkevitz… and of course Watchmen, by Moore and Gibbons, which I was glued to. These titles showed me the full narrative power that comics could have, and in my eyes, they’re masterpieces. I got into manga through Akira, by Katsuhiro Otomo, which was another epiphany. That was actually the only manga published in France at the start of the 90s. Today, we’ve caught up in terms of editing and become a major country for comics. We’re lucky to be caught at the crossroads between the three major comics movements, which influence us in equal measures: American-style comics, manga and the Franco-Belgian school.
V: Finally the question I like to ask all the people I interview, what one piece of advice would you give people who are attempting to get into the world of comic books? Those that are struggling but need a few words of direction from somebody on the inside…
R: So many publications come out every year that it can become frightening or even disheartening. But for me, the most important thing is to be authentic, to establish your own vision, and to put heart and spirit into what you do. The level of drawing doesn’t matter; everyone can find a style that is their own and that lets them tell their story. It’s a difficult path to walk, but it’s one worth taking. It’s up to each one of us to find their way and to flourish.
Flickering Myth would like to thank Run for his giving us his time for the interview, Titan Comics and also Cara for organising this interview for us.
Villordsutch likes his sci-fi and looks like a tubby Viking according to his children. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter.