Rick & Morty's Free Comic Book Day Creators Explain Why "You Can Do Anything With The Show"
Feb 11, 2017
Rick and Morty is a great edition to the Free Comic Book Day roster! We sat down with Rick and Morty's writer's Zac Gorman and Tini Howard, artists CJ Cannon and Marc Ellerby, and colorists Ryan Hill and Katy Farina to see why the Rick and Morty comic is just as lovable as Rick and Morty the show, and with season 3 still without an air date, fans are going to need something to tide them over.
FCBD 2017 RICK & MORTY
Dan Harmon & Justin Roiland's hilarious hit Adult Swim animated show Rick and Morty has its own critically-acclaimed comic book series from Oni Press! Join degenerate superscientist Rick Sanchez as he embarks on all-new insane adventures with his awkward grandson Morty, his teenage granddaughter Summer, his veterinary surgeon daughter Beth, and his hapless son-in-law Jerry. Catch up on their escapades with this special Free Comic Book Day issue, which includes the story that started it all: Part One of "The Wubba Lubba Dub Dub of Wall Street." Plus, an exclusive first look at the upcoming miniseries Pocket Like You Stole It! [TEEN]
Free Comic Book Day: What makes this Free Comic Book Day issue of Rick and Morty special, aside from the exclusive first look at the upcoming miniseries Pocket Like You Stole It?
Zac Gorman: I think the most special part is that it's free.
Ryan Hill: Freedom. Freedom to get it for free for no money. It’s also the very first comic adventure so it acts double shot of getting to see what the comic is like and act like a jumping on point.
Tini Howard: For me, as a huge Rick and Morty fan, I'm excited that it'll be a way to bring more fans into the comics. Pocket Like You Stole It is my first foray into writing the Rick and Morty comics, but I've been reading them since I got into the show. They're every bit as sick and funny.
Marc Ellerby: Well I am biased for sure but I think the Pocket Like You Stole It preview is totally the coolest part of the issue. The main story is great, so come primarily for that but stay for our weird little comic with the funny as heck writing by Tini Howard, the best Rick and Morty art I've personally ever drawn and the knock out coloring skills of Katy Farina. Also Mermaid Morty, guys, you gotta stay for Mermaid Morty. I mean, Rick has a dumb hat but most importantly guys, MERMAID MORTY!
Katy Farina: This issue is an excellent starting point for people who are unsure of whether or not they'll like the comic series (spoiler: you will)! It contains the first ever Rick and Morty comic story, as well as the first part of our upcoming miniseries, so you get two opportunities to see if this comic is for you. Any fan of the show absolutely will love the comics, so I hope if you haven't given it a chance yet, you'll pick it up this Free Comic Book Day!
What makes the series so popular on [adult swim] and why does it work with comic book fans?
Zac Gorman: Rick and Morty resonates with fans because the characters are classic Jungian archetypes that appeal to our collective unconscious.
CJ Cannon: It's a show that's not afraid to tackle topics and concepts that most people would find jarring or uncomfortable to portray and discuss in animation. I think the raw brutal nature of the characters and their perceptions of reality is what makes the show relatable. The comic closely mirrors this concept, and I think it's why it does well with the fans, too.
Ryan Hill: I think the series embraces and balances a very specific type of optimistic nihilism. We’re supposed to see pointlessness in Rick’s understanding of the universe but we also then have to note that, with all that he understands, he’s still here. He’s still going. And despite what he says he loves his family.
Tini Howard: One of my favorite aspects of Rick and Morty is how it plays on sci-fi tropes that a lot of us nerds are familiar with. The show is hilarious, but it just gets funnier if you're aware of the ridiculous stories that so many of these things are drawn from—everything from parasites pretending to be people to interdimensional shenanigans.
Marc Ellerby: The show is legit hilarious and each episode you have no idea what will happen or where it will end up. You can do anything with the show, take it to a planet made entirely of corn and it totally works. Similarly that's always been a strength with comics, a book is only limited by the creator's imagination, so creators can do anything they want. All of the artists and writers of the comics get the show and nail the voice of the show, Oni have picked like minded creators for the book and it does the show justice.
Katy Farina: Rick and Morty combines nihilistic humor with impeccably paced story beats that make every moment either something to laugh at or something that cuts deep. Those story beats work so well with the natural pacing of monthly comic issues, and the results are incredibly memorable moments that are just as impactful as the ones seen on the show!
How do you translate the visuals from the show to the comic book medium? What are the difficulties in translating the feel of the show to comics?
Zac Gorman: The most difficult thing is pacing out Rick's burps. To do it properly, you must become Rick. You must put yourself in his shoes and think, “When would Rick burp?”
CJ Cannon: The most difficult thing for me was trying to capture a sense of emotion and depth that's more legible in the show, due to the characters constantly moving. The art need to be more expressive and obvious in comic book form, because it's all static. Showing anatomical depth is a bit of a challenge too because, again, those in-between keys you'd see in animation create a sense of fluid movement and depth, but it’s static in comic book form. These characters look good in certain angles and ugly in others, which is just the nature of their designs, but the ugly shots are barely obvious in animation due to them constantly moving and said shot being necessary for the trick of the eye to create believable movement. To compensate for this, I had to make the characters a little more organic in my style so that they'd look good in ways that normally wouldn't if I were staying on model while showcasing them in those angles in various panels.
Ryan Hill: I really just look at a lot of stills of the show (either specific reference or just for tonality) and do my best to echo the shows color palettes. For me it’s creating variety in repetition. On the show everyone is one the move. In the comic they can be standing in one location for 4 or more pages. Trying to spice that up while not betraying the storytelling (i.e. making it look like they’ve moved somewhere else) can sometimes be a balance.
Tini Howard: Well the visual aspect is all Marc and Katy, but for me, I'm particular about timing. The comedic timing of the show is so perfect, that I work hard to give the jokes space to land and breathe when I'm writing. Not easy when you're working with page real estate, here.
Marc Ellerby: Well you want it to look like the TV show, but at the same time you don't want it looking like a bunch of screen grabs. My style of drawing is already quite close to the look of modern animation, so it's not a massive stretch to get the characters looking right but I don't restrict myself in making it looking like a photocopy, I want it to be recognisably a Marc Ellerby drawing.
Katy Farina: As a colorist I try to study a lot of the production work done for Rick and Morty. I also get the excuse to watch the show a ton, which is an excellent and overlooked perk of working in comics. I do my best to mimic the textures and coloring style of the show artists, but since I'm not actually part of the production, all I can do is guess and trust my gut. With Pocket Like You Stole It, I try to lean a little further away from the typical palettes in the show and use colors that are either a nod to the games we're referencing or are deeply atmospheric to help set the mood and tone. It's definitely a challenge to do that while still keeping in the spirit of the show— if I deviate too far, it won't feel like Rick and Morty anymore!
What got you reading comics? What are some series you’re reading today?
Zac Gorman: I got into comics because in the 90's—they had hologram covers. There aren't enough hologram covers today. I'm currently reading Shigeru Mizuki's Showa: A History of Japan series, which sadly has no hologram covers.
CJ Cannon: I watched Sonic the Hedgehog when I was growing up, and I found out that Archie had a comic book series based on the show. I became absorbed into it at a very young age. I've read titles such as Calvin & Hobbes, Pride of Baghdad, The Goon, Big Man Plans, Pluto, and more. I like shorter, mini-series as opposed to the longer running ones. Today I'm reading mostly online web comics. My favorites currently are Kay Fedewa's Blackblood Alliance, Blizzard's Overwatch, and Mac Smith's Scurry.
Ryan Hill: Been doing it all my life. I’d watch all my favorite cartoons and then go and buy all the comics that featured them. I really enjoyed Vision, The New Hawkeye, 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank, anything with Howard the Duck. And I’m always re-reading Nextwave.
Tini Howard: I'm a lifelong comic reader—I started with newspaper collections thanks to my dad, evolved into indie books and then to superheroes. Now I read everything. Lately I'm really enjoying The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Midnighter and Apollo, and Wicked + Divine. I read a lot of the DC Rebirth comics, too.
Marc Ellerby: Like everyone else born in the early 80s I was obsessed with the Ninja Turtles growing up and one of the newspapers in the U.K. was printing strips of TMNT so I would cut them out and stick them into a scrapbook. From there I got obsessed with U.K comics like The Beano and The Dandy. Then The Simpsons hit big so I got into that first wave of Bongo books, but as they were only on sale over here in comic shops; that's what lead me going to our local shop and getting into more stuff like X-Men. Those licensed books were instrumental in me discovering what comics truly had to offer. The titles I'm loving at the moment are Giant Days, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Saga, and Paper Girls.
Katy Farina: I got into comics through manga. More specifically, through watching Digimon as a kid, realizing that complex storytelling could be done through cartoons and comics, and diving headfirst into this totally new world of media. Right now I'm not reading a ton of series—not for lack of want, but for lack of time! I'm reading webcomics—Floraverse by Glitchedpuppet and On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden. Glitchedpuppet's complex storytelling methods plus experimental and beautiful visuals really immerses the reader in their world. Tillie Walden's art and storytelling are simply masterful; it's an incredible piece of art that I hope everyone takes time to read.
What books would you recommend to new readers and why?
Zac Gorman: Head Lopper, Southern Bastards, and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Also, anything by Jillian Tamaki, Lewis Trondheim, or Gary Larson.
Ryan Hill: Preacher, Hellboy, Scott Pilgrim. Akira, Hilda, Scud, and Bone.
Tini Howard: Well, Free Comic Book Day is a great time to just snatch up whatever looks good and see what grabs you. I do think a lot of people start reading comics with licensed books like Rick and Morty— one of my first favorite comics was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I can't recommend one book to every new reader, but if you tell your local comic shop staff about some of your favorite movies, TV shows, or video games, they'll be sure to point you in the right direction.
Marc Ellerby: Scott Pilgrim for sure! It's funny, super accessible but also kind of weird and again you have no idea where it's going or what it'll do. Bollywood dance numbers, robot battles, the most honest look at love, and being in your mid 20's I've ever read. It's a riot.
Katy Farina: Nimona and Lumberjanes are excellent books for new readers of any age! They're both great stories that appeal to a huge variety of audiences, and they both have elements of many different genres that readers can use as a starting point to find other books they will like. I also recommend The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (if you're a fan of superheroes, Squirrel Girl is the best out there right now, and is totally hilarious), Princess Jellyfish (if you're interested in anime or manga, but this book is also a great introduction to the genre), and Cucumber Quest (an excellent webcomic, which is soon to be published in print by First Second).
Why do you think Free Comic Book Day is important to the comic book community?
Zac Gorman: It gets people to come out to the shops. Although, it's hard to figure out how comic shops make money when literally everything in the store is free on Free Comic Book Day. You don't even need to check out. You just put whatever you want in your pocket and leave. It's totally acceptable. But somehow it's still good for business.
CJ Cannon: It allows for people to explore new titles they'd otherwise be more hesitant to buy if they don't know much about it. I think this allows them to get a sense for a series and, if they like it, keep coming back to support both their local comic shops and the people who work on those comics, which is pretty awesome!
Ryan Hill: Because it’s about growing the ranks. Bring your family. Bring your friends. Even bring your enemies! You know all the media they love now movie and TV wise… well statistically now, there’s like a 50/50 chance it was a comic first. Show them now what they’ll be complaining won’t be translated right to live action later, early.
Tini Howard: As someone who worked in a comic shop, I think the spirit of Free Comic Book Day is great. Comic shops haven't always been seen as spaces that are welcoming to everyone —I think my first foray into buying comics at a shop instead of a bookstore was on Free Comic Book Day! I remember walking out with a stack of books and my first pull list.
Marc Ellerby: I think it's a chance for existing readers to celebrate the medium and supporting their local shops but really we need all the new readers we can get. The FCBD selections are getting more varied, more diverse with different looks and styles there's really something for everyone. I've been to a few FCBD events over the years and seeing kids pick up comics and interact with creators it's always without a doubt one of the most rewarding experiences of the year.
Katy Farina: Free Comic Book Day gives everyone a chance to take a look at what publishers and artists are putting out there right now! Comics can be an expensive hobby, so it's great that people get a chance to see what kind of stories might interest them without having to invest a lot of money right away. All of us love putting comics into as many hands as possible, and Free Comic Book Day is the best way to make that happen!
Why do you think local comic shops are important to the comic book community?
Zac Gorman: Comic stores are important because, much like the Fire Department, the Police Department, or any other municipal public service, they show us our tax dollars hard at work. Before comic stores, comics would just litter the gutters. In New York, before comic stores, some summers it'd get so bad that old back issues would spontaneously combust.
CJ Cannon: They create a sense of community for like-minded individuals and allow people to more easily find ways to interact with people they'd normally not have access to. The few signings I've done have always been pleasant, because people seem reassured that I'm an anxiety ridden yet vocal klutz just like them. WE'RE ALL NERDS HERE. But seriously, it's really nice to know we're just a bunch of awkwardly existing hominids who have a love for something in common.
Ryan Hill: No local shops, no comics. So that’s pretty important I’d say.
Tini Howard: No one at a Big Box Retailer is going to listen to your nuanced tastes and recommend you a book. No one at a Big Box Retailer is going to talk to you on Wednesdays like they do at your favorite bar. I don't want to shame anyone for where they get their comics, but your local booksellers are small businesses, and if you didn't know there WAS a comic book community—that's where they happen.
Marc Ellerby: This may sound a little hippy-dippy but they bring people together. Once or twice a week every week for a year people go to shops to pick up their orders and you can't beat the interaction of talking face to face with fellow readers and workers, it's a like minded place for people to go.
Katy Farina: FCBD pulls business into local comic/hobby shops, and those places are the best! Local shops help foster communities and create events that put local fans in contact with local professionals. Every local comic shop is there to put comics into your hands. If you're not sure what kind of comics you might be interested in, checking out your LCS and talking to the people there is definitely the best! Comic shops are the connection between the industry and you, the readers and fans—make sure you support them as often as you can!
Where do you plan to spend Free Comic Book Day 2017?
Zac Gorman: Looking out the small window of my cell. Sometimes a bird lands there and I think it's a metaphor for freedom.
CJ Cannon: Hopefully doing a signing!
Ryan Hill: I’ll have just moved back to L.A., so I’m excited to try my first FCBD at Meltdown Comics.
Tini Howard: I will be signing at Ultimate Comics in Raleigh, NC, with Katy Farina!
Marc Ellerby: I will be signing copies of the Rick and Morty FCBD 2017 Edition at Gosh! Comics in London, UK.
Katy Farina: This year I'll be at Ultimate Comics in Raleigh, NC, signing with Pocket Like You Stole It writer Tini Howard! I haven't been there before and I'm really looking forward to it! I also have to give a nod to my hometown shop, Heroes Aren't Hard To Find in Charlotte, NC. The staff there is awesome and fosters everyone's love of comics! I hope you get a chance to check out both these shops at some point, and I hope you have an awesome Free Comic Book Day!