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CREATOR PROFILE:

RICK VEITCH

Biography:

At the age of nineteen, Rick Veitch drove a Pontiac Tempest from Vermont to San Francisco with only $45 and a burning desire to break into underground comics. Crashing at Greg Iron’s barn on the California Coast, he began drawing a sample sequence about two axe murderers in a rainstorm, which grew, with a script by his brother Tom Veitch, into a complete comic book, published as Two-Fisted Zombies by Last Gasp in 1973.

In 1976 Rick enrolled in the Joe Kubert School and was part of the school’s first graduating class in 1978. While still at school he began his professional career in mainstream comics, contributing over a dozen short stories to DC’s Our Army At War. He also met and began lifelong collaborations with fellow artists Steve Bissette, John Totleben, Tom Yeates and Tim Truman. Together they formed Flying Dutchmasters Studios and began getting published in New York. Rick’s work appeared in Heavy Metal, which lead to his collaboration with Steve Bissette and Allen Asherman on the graphic novel adaptation of Steven Spielberg’s 1941. He contributed regularly to Marvels Epic Magazine, and published his first collaboration with Alan Moore there in its final issue. Rick wrote and illustrated two early graphic novels for Epic editor Archie Goodwin: Abraxas & The Earthman and Heartburst, before launching a six-issue series, The One, for Epic Comics in 1984.

Rick was highly active in the 1980s drawing issues of Swamp Thing, Nexus, Scout and Miracleman before becoming regular penciller of Swamp Thing, collaborating for a year and a half with Alan Moore before taking over as writer. Veitch’s Swamp Thing run ended in controversy in 1989 when DC refused to publish #88, intended to be the climax to a series of time travel stories resulting in Swamp Thing being the wooden cross upon which Jesus was crucified.

Disillusioned with the mainstream comics industry, in 1989 Rick formed his own publishing imprint, King Hell Press, which released a collection of The One and two new graphic novels, Bratpack and The Maximortal. In 1993 Veitch again collaborated with Moore, Bissette and Totleben on the 1963 comic series from Image. The next year Rick began his most experimental work, Rare Bit Fiends a dream diary in comic form, published by King Hell in 21 issues and two collections, Rabid Eye and Pocket Universe.

In the late 1990’s Rick worked with Alan Moore and Todd Klien on Supreme and on the launch of the ABC comics line. He and Moore created Greyshirt for the anthology comic Tomorrow Stories before spinning it off into Greyshirt: Indigo Sunset. He also co-created, with Steve Conley, the internet comics site Comicon.com. He continues to develop new comic projects and live in Vermont with his wife, Cindy, and two sons.

Essential Reading:


Bratpack
King Hell Press, 1992

A fierce and darkly comic dissection of the hoary old ‘kid sidekick’ genre is as harrowing as it is hilarious; subversively subtle and completely over the top. An edgy and unforgettable dance macabre.

Neil Gaiman says:
Collectables; merchandising; corporate ownership of characters; killing the spandex brigade and bringing them out of the closet; the gullibility of children: all these things should be borne in mind when reading the following tale… Rick Veitch cares deeply about superheroes. He thinks they matter. That they’re important. That they tell us things about ourselves. There’s a mixture of love and hatred here that’s heady, weird, and unique: subtle as a gang rape, gentle as a crowbar shattering a skull, sweet as a dead boy in a bell tower feeding on pigeons.

Rick Veitch says:
... I was trying to make a point about vigilantism: how it had been grafted onto the modern superhero. I just figured I’d make the meanest, baddest, most outrageous superhero vigilantes that can be done, figuring that it would outrage people enough to stop reading superhero comics. In hindsight I’d say it didn’t work; it fed the same hunger in readers that feeds the superhero machine right now, and just brought it to another level.



The One
King Hell Press, 1989

The One spins an outrageous doomsday scenario that has proven even more relevant to today’s ongoing global crisis. It begins with the United States and the Soviet Union pushed into World War III by a certain blonde billionaire who has figured out how to turn a profit from a limited nuclear exchange. But the threat of Armageddon awakens a mysterious force in the human race that disarms the missiles and sets the world on a high-speed collision course with evolution. Finding themselves stripped of their atomic arsenals, both the American and Russian governments unleash top secret super-soldier projects to wage hand to hand combat against each other. The ensuing ‘Superior War’ makes nuclear weapons seem like mere child’s play.

Alan Moore says:
Whatever it is that the comics of the 1980s turn out to be remembered for, The One was right there in the thick of it, carving out a niche in the mainstream for dangerous ideas long before dangerous ideas became box office certainties. If you’re looking for a long distance talent, a marathon man who can cover the ground and still be creatively fresh at the other end, then you’re looking for Rick Veitch. If you’re in search of a graphic story that captures in freeze frame a turbulent period for both funny-books and the world at large, look no further. This is the one.



Greyshirt in Tomorrow Stories Vol 1 & 2
with Alan Moore
DC/ABC, 2002-2003

Alan Moore says:
... I realised you couldn’t really get a better model than Will Eisner for that sort of story. The main thing I wanted to do was not a pastiche or do a homage to The Spirit, but do a homage to the spirit of The Spirit, if you like. The very best thing about Eisner’s Spirit was the incredible experimentation, the constant attempts at new storytelling techniques. All of that was the most thrilling aspect of The Spirit. So that’s why, yeah, we did that first Greyshirt story, which is a nice little twist-ending mystery, that doesn’t necessarily use any clever storytelling techniques, but by the second issue we were pushing for things like that How To Work Things Out story, with the four levels of the building in different times… Though some of them are fairly conventional, most of the stories in the run are based around some interesting little visual storytelling device we thought of trying out.



Can’t Get No
DC/Vertigo, 2006

Can’t Get No is the story of a man and nation torn by tragedy. Corporate exec Chad Roe had the “perfect” modern life. But the trophy wife, the prestigious job and the pills have always threatened to overwhelm him, and things go from bad to ugly when one night of debauchery hits the sobering light of September 11, 2001. Reeling from the financial collapse of his business, Chad Roe descends into a night of depravity, only to wake up a “marked” man - literally - his body covered in a permanent tattoo. But Chad will be only one of the many whose lives are forever changed after that Tuesday morning of September 11, 2001. Instead of picking up the pieces, he takes to the road, heading straight into the shell-shocked heart of America on a desperate search for salvation.

 

Bibliography:

Graphic Novels:
Army@Love: Generation Pwned (2008)
Army@Love: The Hot Zone Club (2007)
Shiny Beasts (2007)
Can’t Get No (2006)
Swamp Thing: Infernal Triangles (2006)
Swamp Thing: Spontaneous Generation (2005)
Swamp Thing: Regenesis (2004)
Greyshirt: Indigo Sunset (2002)
The Maximortal (1996)
The Dream Art Of Rick Veitch 2: Pocket Universe (1996)
The Dream Art Of Rick Veitch 1: Rabid Eye (1995)
Brat Pack (1992)
The River (1991)
The One (1989)
Heartburst (1984)
Abraxas & The Earthman (1982-1983, 2006)
1941 The Illustrated Story (1979)

Short Stories In:
Tomorrow Stories Vol 1 (2002)
Tomorrow Stories Vol 2 (2003)
Supreme 1: The Story Of The Year (2002)
Supreme 2: The Return (2003)

Periodicals:
Brat Pack/The Maximortal Super Special #2 (1997)
Roarin’ Rick’s Rare Bit Fiends #1-21 (1994-1996)
The Maximortal #1-7 (1992-1993)
Brat Pack #1-5 (1990-1991)
Swamp Thing #65-88 (?-1989)
The One #1-6 (1985-1986)

Interviews:
The Comics Journal #175, 232

Links:

Official Sites:
Rick Veitch
Comicon

Remembering The Self-Publishing Movement:
Part 1, Part 2