Artist Kaare Kyle Andrews achieved a monumental accomplishment in the space of comics in 2014, he wrote, drew, and colored 12 issues of Iron Fist: The Living Weapon. Afterwords, the artist sought to take his own brand and publish it himself via Image Comics. Andrews is continuing his legacy as a comic book renaissance man with Renato Jones: The One%, except this time he’s adding adding a few more jobs to the list: founder and owner. After taking the stage at an Image Expo July of last year, The Beat pursued Andrews until he found time in his relentless schedule for some much needed press;
The Beat: Can you speak at all about the announcement of the project at the very first Image Expo and the anecdote that you initially told with the comic?
Kaare Kyle Andrews: I had this realization in a very tangible and sudden way that I was a Freelancer and I worked for myself. And if I worked for myself, why hadn’t I yet done any work FOR MYSELF? Renato Jones was my answer. It’s a project that I can create, own and control.
The accomplishment that was made for your hard work on Iron Fist: The Living Weapon was exceptional — what was some of the conversations and thought processes that made you want to do all of the writing, coloring and drawing all over again for Renato Jones?
The simple answer is that I’m not really sure. But when I do something, I have this very real need to understand each and every process of that thing. I’m not at my best when I’m simply a part of a system. I want to investigate the whole of that system. I want to grab hold of it. Create my own systems.
And here’s what’s interesting… When you do all of the separate tasks, they no longer become separate tasks. I’m still writing while I’m penciling, I’m reworking pencils while I’m inking, I’m changing inks while I’m coloring and I’m rewriting through the whole process. It’s more like waves against the beach than components to a machine. And that directly affects the results.
Maybe is why I’ve always been drawn towards the writer-artist. The work is different. Smells different. Feels different. Reads different. All my favorite guys from Will Eisner to Frank Miller to Todd McFarlane to Jim Steranko have bee the writer-artists.
When I direct a movie, every day is collaboration, communication and compromise. It’s a huge process that needs an entire work force to complete. But with comics, it can literally be just one guy. So why not take advantage of it?
Here’s Andrews on-stage announcing the project at Image Expo:
Andrews then announced The One%. pic.twitter.com/FWmX2fTKTV
— Alexander Jones (@AlexandComics) July 2, 2015
Do you approach this comic book different than work-for-hire?
The way I write or draw on a creator owned book is actually no different than the way I’ve worked with Marvel or any other company, creatively speaking. I still write in fully mocked up lettered layouts and I still have the same concerns about emotional truth and themes.
Actually, one amusing difference is that when I write those layouts I generally throw as much profanity or nudity as I please to keep the layouts fun and fresh. But by nature of the audience, they’re edited out by the time the book finds it’s finished form. So I can promise more profanity and body parts! I feel like I owe it to myself.
But there are enormous differences in all the other areas of making a book. I have no TV tie-ins. I have no huge sales team, no events or cross-overs or any of that kind of thing besides myself. So, when I do an ad for Renato Jones—it’s literally me doing the ad for Renato Jones.
But it’s very empowering. Not only can I control the message but I can make T-shirts. I mean literally – check out kaareandrews.threadless.com
I can do whatever I want with merchandizing. The only restrictions I have are my own time and resources. That’s pretty cool. I love toys and statues as much as the next person. So, it’s fun to be able to do that. To have fun with it.
I have a $10,000 edition of the book that I’ll be selling to luxury clients. Printed in gold, on Panama paper, embedded with diamonds and signed in blood. Because why not?
I’m not done with work-for-hire as a concept but Renato Jones is work-for-me.
Also, has your experience in film and multi-media directly effect the way that you perceive working in the comics industry?
It must. But I can no longer identify why. Don’t ask a fish about water. A fish knows nothing of water.
In past interviews, I have heard you mention an abundance of different styles that you have used in your past projects — what can readers expect the interior artwork of the series to look like?
I never quite know how I’m going to approach a project. The project itself always tells me how I’m going to approach it. And Renato Jones wanted to be straight comics but in a way that pushed boundaries and the vocabulary of visual storytelling. That meant traditional line art but with a lot of experimentation in design and storytelling. It’s maybe a touch more cartoony than say Iron Fist… but it’s more Iron Fist than painted Hulk covers… I’m not really sure. I try not to think about it too much. That’s death. You don’t have to understand the creative process you just have to fuel it!
Whatever is going to inspire you do do your best work—do that. Everything else is in the way.
But a fun thing that I haven’t had before is a letters column. This may sound strange but I really love a good letters column. And while the first issue won’t have any letters from actual readers in it—there will be some special guests writing in! I had a lot of fun with it.
Without getting into trouble, is this comic in anyway going to make a political statement? Do you have commentary or something to say about the outside world with Renato Jones?
I’m at all not interested in preaching some kind of sociopolitical revolution. These are just the times we live in. Wealth is power. And power can be used for good or evil. And if you are a bad, bad person but happen to be rich—you are untouchable.
Who can fight that kind of untouchable evil? Only of their own. Only someone who’s not. And Renato Jones is both.
When you are working on multiple aspects of a series or title, how fast can you turn around an entire issue?
Iron Fist was a big test for me and I proved I could do all the jobs of a book, 12 issues in a row on a monthly schedule without missing a deadline. That was a big question I had before doing Renato Jones. I am the first creator to ever do a thing like that in the history of Marvel Comics. Like ever. Ever, ever. And I’m proud about achieving that.
It all comes down to approach. And I found a way to write and draw in a very specific way. To take out any and all unnecessary steps that stood in the way. Even something as simple as erasing pages or scanning in paper was time I no longer can afford to spend. But by keeping things in the digital realm and taking advantage of technology and methodology, I’ve found an approach that works.
The one exception I have is covers. I still draw covers on real paper because every now and then it feels good to push a real brush around and smell the ink as it gets underneath your fingernails.
Do you want to see more writers and artists marrying their skill set in the comics industry?
When I was growing up—my favorite guys were always the writer-artists. Whether it was Jim Steranko or John Byrne, Will Eisner or Frank Miller. In the 80’s it was so common to have this kind of a storyteller. But somewhere in the double-shipped, super event, artist that can barely keep his deadlines the true power of the writer-artist has all but vanished.
You can have great collaborations between two or more people but they’re almost an accident when they happen. Like somehow THIS writer just seems to work with THAT artist. It’s rare and special. But when the writer and artist actually share the same brain—biologically speaking—that collaboration is there from the get.
I think it’s time for the big-ballers, the all-in-ones, the triple-threats to come back. Follow me. I’ll show you the way.
What can you tell readers about the plot of the issue?
The first issue is a sort of introduction to the character Renato Jones and the world he lives in, how he came to be and what he’s about to do. It’s almost double-sized and full of extra content. I just received my comps from Fed Ex today and the book FEELS heavy. I love it!
If you could sum up the project in one word, which you would choose?
Do you have any last words or anecdotes about the project to close the interview– what would you like readers to take away from this work?
Let me leave you with these words, which are printed in the first issue of Renato Jones:
“So you want to be a comicbook creator?
In a world of remakes and remixes, reimaginings and reboots, you have your own ideas. Redoing isn’t doing enough. Reworking isn’t working for you.
Create with fire and blood. Spit into the sky and birth something new.
You’re not chasing money or fame. You’re chasing life.
Likes and retweets in the sea of social media sludge, a programmer’s trick to make you think you matter. Well let me tell you something, friend. YOU MATTER.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY MATTERS.
WHAT’S IN YOU MATTERS.
So let it out.
Shore yourself up against the storm to come. Because they will come for you. When you dare to matter…
Those too afraid to live their dreams will try to kill yours. To make things even. A blood sacrifice to the false gods.
But as they tear your pages apart, remember to smile. It’s not your dreams in their filthy hands, it’s simply paper.
And you have so much more to say, so much more than they can ever tear away.
Create until you’ve built a pile of life so high, the dead can’t reach you.
I’ll meet you there.
Wait for me, will you? I just have a few things to do…”
Thank you so much for your time!
KA: Thank You!”
RENATO JONES: THE ONE% #1
Special double-sized first issue! The One% own more than half the world’s wealth. They’ve crashed economies, bought governments, and have amassed more power than any other group in history. And they still don’t have enough. With this kind of power how can anyone make them pay? WHO will make them pay? Enter Renato Jones, a mysterious vigilante, out to even the score. And when he enters the fray THE SUPER-RICH ARE SUPER F***ED. From acclaimed creator KAARE KYLE ANDREWS (Iron Fist: The Living Weapon, Spider-Man: Reign) comes a supercharged capitalist action thriller for a post-Great Recession world.
Digital : $3.99