REED GUNTHER is an all-fun, all-ages Western fantasy that's coming out from Image now after about a year in the self-publishing arena. I've gotten to know its creators, Shane and Chris Houghton, at several events in the LA comics scene - - for the record, these guys host some fantastic "How to Make Comics" classes for kids at Metldown Comics - - so I just jumped at the opportunity to chat with them about their comic. REED GUNTHER's an excellent comic to share with the little'uns in your family, as well as the big kid that's inside even the most serious "grown-up" fan.
Take a seat and join our pow-wow, how about it?
COMIC VINE: We're on a runaway locomotive blazing toward the edge of a desert cliff and there are three tons of TNT in the caboose. You two have 30 seconds to tell me what REED GUNTHER is about so you can save the day. Go!
SHANE HOUGHTON: Oh jeez! I can’t handle the pressure! Reed Gunther is a grizzly-bear-riding cowboy who bumbles his way through battling the Wild West’s most ferocious supernatural creatures! Did we make it?
CHRIS HOUGHTON: Wait! Shane you forgot to mention the best part: that the comic series is a total-- BLAAAST!!== TEASER ==
CV: Reed Gunther feels like a hero straight out of a tall tale; a dude who could easily be in a posse with the likes of Pecos Bill, John Henry and Paul Bunyan. Did you two draw any inspiration from that area of American folk lore?
SHANE: You got it! We wanted the adventures of Reed Gunther to feel like a classic American folk tale. To help blend Reed Gunther into the fabric of American history, sharp-eyed readers may notice the likes of real famous historical figures like President Grover Cleveland and even some fictional characters like John Henry himself! Although, we like to add our own spin on classic tall tales, so when you meet John Henry (in issue #3) he has already died during his famous race against the machine. Naturally, he’s more of a steel-driving-zombie racing to pound Reed’s face rather than steel.
CHRIS: And you can expect more strange twists and tie-ins to American folk lore in future issues!
CV: I'd ask how you two met, but the answer's mighty obvious. Have you been collaborating since you were kids, or is this a fairly recent family partnership?
SHANE: We’ve been brothers for as long as we can remember, playing, imagining, and collaborating the whole way.
CHRIS: He’s right. We’ve also got an older brother named Pete who always acted as a great big brother as far as encouraging creativity. Would would all draw, play music, and use our imaginations together.
CV: Self-publishing is often compared to riding bareback in the wild West. You fellas put out REED GUNTHER on your own for a year or so, and now you're walking tall with Image. How has the experience been different so far?
SHANE: Ha! I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard that comparison, but I suppose it’s correct! Our experience with Image has been an absolute blast! Everyone at Image has been a huge help and everyone seems like genuine fans of our book. Image is a small company with only about eleven employees, and it’s been refreshing working with folks who are just as passionate about Reed as we are.
CHRIS: Shane and I were the only ones (along with our lovely ladies, Kassandra and Katie) pushing the series and trying to get the word out. So we are thrilled to have a great company like Image believing in what we’re doing. Image may have a small crew, but they’re definitely not a small operation. The folks at Image are incredibly dedicated to creator-owned comics and we couldn’t think of a better home for REED GUNTHER.
CV: Inspiration can often be like one big diamondback snake eating its own tail. What all-ages comics of the past have contributed to the inspirational melting pot that's now pouring out this tasty REED GUNTHER stew?
SHANE: Growing up, we received Adventure 101 lessons from cartoons like DUCK TALES, BATMAN TAS, and TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES. We also devoured comics like UNCLE SCROOGE, DISNEY ADVENTURES (who first introduced us to Jeff Smith’s incredible BONE), THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, SIMPSONS comics and CALVIN & HOBBES.
CHRIS: Also, we never really had the chance to read USAGI YOJIMBO as kids but that’s another one of our favorite series today. I’ve also got a soft spot for LITTLE LULU. Plus, we were (are still are) big fans TV series and movies like TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, THE SIMPSONS, INDIANA JONES, and STAR WARS.
CV: In the comic, Reed does the charmin' and talkin' while Sterling, his vegetarian grizzly bear partner, handles most of the nasty business. Is your partnership a bit like that?
SHANE: Well, I am pretty charming and Chris is a vegetarian... We handle the entire process pretty evenly. Chris handles the artwork (penciling, inking, most coloring) for the comic, the book designs, ads, and most promo flyers or materials. I handle all the writing and lettering for the book and do a lot of the promo stuff like setting up signings, interviews, and getting REED GUNTHER out there as much as possible!
CHRIS: Shane’s nice enough to answer interview questions first too. That way I can just tack on my answers and get back to drawing!
CV: The Comic Vine maniacs who've been reading this interview surely have their interests piqued. Where can they find out more about REED GUNTHER and what can they expect from the series in the months to come?
SHANE: They should check out their local comic shop for REED GUNTHER #1 on June 1st and then every first Wednesday of the month after that! There’s also tons of cool stuff on www.reedgunther.com like process work, pin ups, fan art, videos, and comics! If your readers want to make sure their local shops have REED GUNTHER in stock, these are the order codes: Issue #1 APR110403, Issue #2 MAY110525, Issue #3 JUN110555.
CHRIS: We’ve also got a bunch of issues at our apartments, but it’d probably be a better if people didn’t track us down and break into our homes. It’s best to just request your local comic shop to order a few issues, it’s much easier!