Hey readers! Drew here from the From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays column with a special treat for you today! You know what comic we think rocks? A little all-ages gem called Reed Gunther! Today we have an interview with the brothers, Chris (who draws) and Shane (who writes) Houghton, behind this wonderfully entertaining book.
So for readers who haven’t discovered the coolness yet, can you give us a description of your comic REED GUNTHER?
SHANE HOUGHTON: REED GUNTHER is a goofy bear-riding cowboy who bumbles his way through fighting some of the wild west’s most ferocious monsters. AKA… AWESOME!
CHRIS HOUGHTON: Sign me up! I’m sold! Oh wait…
CA: What were the origins of you guys creating Reed Gunther and Sterling?
CH: Reed Gunther first got its start in 2007 in an indy comic book series called COMICS OBSCURA. I wrote and drew the first 2 parts of a 3 part story but the series folded before the 3rd series could be completed. I wasn’t in love with the series at that point (it was very different without Shane) and was content with shelving the project indefinitely.
Then, in 2009, almost just for the heck of it, Shane gave me a script with “that cowboy and bear character” that I had drawn a while back. It was amazing! It was a full 32 page script and the characters and the tone of the story was a lot more fun. Plus, Shane created Starla which was a great addition. That script was for our first issue, “Reed Gunther and the Steak Snacking Snake.”
SH: Once Chris created the great designs of Reed and Sterling, I tweaked their personalities and put them in a world just as wild, strange and goofy as they are. As for the physical comic, we wanted to see if we could even make a comic. It’s a lot of work and we had no idea if anyone besides our Mom would want to read it. Making the first issue of Reed was so much fun, we haven’t stopped making them! And more people than just our Mom reads it! Our Dad does too!
CA: I find REED GUNTHER interesting and a lot of fun. There are moments it has its parallels to old issues of DC’s WEIRD WESTERN TALES, but hints of things like THE GOON. What are some of your influences on both this book and you guys personally?
SH: Oh man, I just started reading some of the old WEIRD WESTERN TALES and I am loving it! Those stories are all done-in-one, which is something we’re sort of half going for in REED GUNTHER. Each issue has its own complete story, but if you read all the issues in the arc, it builds to a bigger story in the end. But if you’re just finding out about Reed, you can always jump in at issue 4 or whatever and still enjoy the wild, fun goofiness!
Oh wait, is this question about influences? I love THE GOON, B.P.R.D., SIMPSONS COMICS, and CHEW!
CH: Yeah, I love the same comics. I also love LITTLE LULU, MAD MAGAZINE (okay, technically not a comic book), USAGI YOJIMBO, and a ton more.
CA: Now, the first four issues I believe are reprints of the first four you published independently, but now in color, correct? Was it weird going back to color the comic?
CH: Yeah it was a little strange. About 18 months had passed from when I first drew issue 1 to when I drew issue 4. Plus, those issues were drawn while I was still in school so I was learning a lot at the time (I hope I still am!). I’m glad the artwork improves but as a bit of a perfectionist, I can’t help but cringe at some of the pages. I can’t wait until people read our new stuff!
SH: It was a little strange going back through the very first comic book we made with a fine-tooth comb while coloring. We see all of our mistakes and lessons we learned while making the early issues. I’m really happy we’re getting the first four issues of Reed back out into the world in color, but MAN the new issues are going to blow people’s hair off their heads!
CA: Starting with issue #5 there will be all new tales, so what is on the horizon for Reed and Sterling?
SH: Issue #5 wraps up Reed’s cross-country adventure that we start in issue #2. I won’t give too much away, but that little Idol he finds in issue #2 causes a whole MESS of problems for the entire country. Grover Cleveland gets pissed.
After issue #5, we’ve got all sorts of great adventures for Reed, including the story of how Reed and Sterling met, the coolest were-wolf story anyone has ever read, and possibly an appearance of Paul Bunyon!
CA: I noticed there are REED GUNTHER mini-comics that you give with purchases online at your site. Personally I think mini-comics are pretty cool. What is your take on the whole mini-comic scene?
SH: Mini-comics are the COOLEST! We just finished a new mini for San Diego! Our original thought to making minis were that we wanted to continue to have new content in between our self-published issues which would come out every 4 or 5 months. That way we could keep our readers interested while we worked on saving up money to do another print run. Mini-comics are cheap, and way more fun to hand out to people than a business card.
CH: Matt Feazell taught me how to make mini comics and I’m forever grateful! They’re really fun to make and I’d like us to continue doing them as much as we can.
CA: Comics become plagued with crossovers sometimes. One of the joys of a new series like yours is that it’s new, fresh, and it is its own thing. However, if you could have any other characters guest-star in your comic, who would you guys like to see?
SH: Ha! Crossover?! I think it would be pretty funny if Reed and Jonah Hex ever met. Reed would probably think Jonah was the coolest and make gross faces all the time to try and be like him. Jonah would get upset (because he’s sensitive about that mug of his) and start a fight with Reed. Jonah would bury Reed up to his neck in the blazing hot desert and Reed would ask him to autograph his crusty, dried saliva. Or something like that.
We actually did our first crossover with Rob Worley, the writer of the Eisner-nominated SCRATCH 9! There’s a bunch of cats from different time periods in that series, and we got to do a crossover with the cat from the 1880’s era. It’s pretty goofy and I think will appear online soon.
CH: I’d love to see Reed and Sterling meet The Goon and Frankie! Or it’d be great to see them meet Usagi Yojimbo (which they kind of did in a pin-up Stan Sakai did for us).
CA: Okay, now for the theoretical questions: Sterling comes across a Mecha-Sterling with missile fingers. Who wins?
SH: Chris does for getting to draw that! I think that battle would end with fuzzy Sterling riding the metal Sterling while shooting missiles at a screaming Reed. Chris! Quick, sketch that up and let’s sell it for a million bucks!
CH: First have Drew sign a release form saying he never thought of that idea. Then we’ll be rich!
CA: REED GUNTHER gets animated (I think that’d be swank, it has the perfect visual to translate to animation). What band would you want to rock out the theme song?
SH: Chris turned me on to a really rocking band called Fang Island. They do really awesome, inspiring and epic instrumental music. If the could put a little western edge to it, like if their song “Davey Crockett” was mixed with the theme from THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, that’s pretty much my dream right there.
CH: I absolutely loved seeing all the western images from the movie RANGO paired up with Mumford and Sons for RANGO’s movie trailer. I don’t know if they’d be good for REED GUNTHER or for Saturday morning cartoons but man… I love Mumford and Sons.
CA: What do I have to do to convince you to draw me into the REED GUNTHER comic?
SH: Get 100 people to email us a picture of them kissing the cover of a REED GUNTHER comic and we’ll draw you into an issue. You’ll probably be getting stepped on by Sterling or something.
CH: Me and my ink brush will be waiting!
I want to thank the Houghton brothers for being some of the coolest guys to interview; thank you! Hmm…100 people and they’ll draw Sterling stepping on me, eh? That sounds like an interesting challenge for our column here, readers. Once again, Reed Gunther
is a fantastic book. The humor and entertainment these two have translates right onto the pages of their work, so buy it now.