The Beat caught up with Able (I Feel Love) over email to discover more about the origins of Kane & Able, find out what goes into channelling Silver and Gold Age comics, and learn what working with Chainsaw Doll #2 was like!
AVERY KAPLAN: What was the genesis of Kane & Able?
KRENT ABLE: I invited Shaky down to see a screening of my biopic ’Ink, Cocks & Rock ‘N’ Roll’ in London in 2016, and he mentioned that his partner, Jane Kane, had come up with a great title for a book we could do together – ‘Able & Kane’. I suggested that it might be better if we swapped it round to ‘Kane & Able’. I knew right then that I had hit upon a genius idea, one that I could take sole credit for in the future.
Fast forward to 2020, and we both finally had the time to actually do it.
The plan was to do 2 stories each, a few collaborative pieces, and to do the cover together.
I thought it would be a fun artistic experiment for me to slightly nudge my work into a style and subject matter that would work tonally in a book with Shaky’s stuff.
The whole thing went really smoothly – Shaky was a dream to work with. We would just show each other our pages as we were going along, and go ‘Wow!’ Keeps you inspired.
KAPLAN: Were there any particular inspirations for Black Fur in Who Fears the Deathroach and/or Creepzone?
ABLE: For Black Fur, it would be mainly Spider-Man comics circa 1972. I wanted to do a comic where I could play with that unique, over-the-top style of narration that you get in old superhero comics.
Also, the 1979 horror film ‘The Prophecy’ about a huge mutant bear, which I pay homage to in one panel, and Saturday morning cartoons of the 70’s.
With Creepzone, I was inspired by Scooby Doo (I studied a lot of the background art, which is really beautiful, evocative stuff), E.C. Comics, the colour in old Mario Bava films, 60’s Halloween masks, and Mad Max.
I’d also been waiting for the right project to use the (now public domain) characters Nightmare & Sleepy. If you check out the old pages from the 1940s, they are absolutely insane.
KAPLAN: I notice Creepzone is styled so as to mimic an older style of comic printing. Can you tell us a little bit about what goes into presenting a comic in this style?
ABLE: I used to have to laboriously scan old paper and ‘sample’ sections of colour from old comics to get that look of Silver or Golden Age comics, and then mess around for ages on Photoshop, but now you can get software that makes the whole process a lot easier. Modern technology has finally, after many decades, got to the point where it can now make things look as good as they did before technology made everything look awful. Bravo!
KAPLAN: What was it like working with CHAINSAW DOLL #2 on “Black Fur in Who Fears the Deathroach”?
ABLE: A total pleasure! It’s always great to help new talent break into the biz. To give some background to your readers – Chainsaw Doll #2 is a 15 inch tall, chainsaw-wielding naked plastic baby doll that aids Black Fur (a flying bear) in his crime-fighting. He ‘reached out’ to me, and asked if I could help him break into the comics industry by publishing his ‘true-life superhero adventures’. Stuff he did with Black Fur, fighting crime in the Big City and so on. I was only too happy to help, mentoring, showing him the right nibs and paper to use, and introducing him to the right people. I can assure you it’s all totally above board.
KAPLAN: On more than one occasion, Kane & Able pays homage to classic elements of the comics medium – for example, one of the highlights of this book is the Mailbag, which gives readers a chance to hurl obscenities towards you in letter form. Why was it important to include these comic book traditions in Kane & Able? Did you have a personal favorite “comic trope” that you wanted to include?
ABLE: I know that Shaky was excited about having an ad break in his story, so that he could have ‘continued on second page following’ written at the bottom of the preceding page. I was just excited about having a go at the superhero genre. The letters page was an idea that popped up as we went along, and seemed like a natural and fun thing to include and make, that would fit the overall vibe.
Also, every letter is like a story, so it’s like squeezing an extra 6 or 7 stories into the book. It’s great value for the reader.
I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank all our fans who sent in letters, and also let them know that we now own the copyright on their letters. If any of them get made into a Netflix mini-series, we own the rights. Thank you!
KAPLAN: What are your thoughts on SHAKY KANE’s contributions to this anthology, “Astonishing Shield Bug” and “Dustmites”?
ABLE: I’ve always loved Shaky’s work, from Deadline magazine to the work of genius that is The Bulletproof Coffin (which also features his Shield Bug character) and beyond. If Apocalypse Now was set in outer space, he’d make a good Colonel Kurtz, tripping out with his magic pencil at the end of the universe. I think he really enjoyed just making his stories for this book on his own, and to really let rip with his creativity. It’s a thrilling, eye-popping adventure, with a lot of depth and mystery to it – pure unadulterated Shaky. Do I completely understand it all? Not entirely. It’s like a tree or something. Who understands a tree? Maybe squirrels, but I ain’t no squirrel, baby. You know what I’m saying?
KAPLAN: What should one do if Kane & Able is accidentally ingested?
ABLE: The whole thing? It’s twelve inches long! If anyone manages to accidentally ingest it, give me a call. We can make a lot of money together.
Kane & Able will be available at comic shops and bookstores on June 29th, 2021.