Rick V is probably one of the only ones among us who still actually uses LiveJournal. If that’s not reason enough to keep reading, get off the Internet.
Interview by Natalye for Silver Sprocket
How did you end up as a regular contributor to As You Were?
One day I got an email from AYW editor Mitch Clem asking me to do a comic for this cool anthology. He then told me it had to be done in three days. I managed to meet the three-day deadline with a shaky-looking one-page comic. Mitch has asked me to be in it every time since. Unless it’s on Issue #8 and Mitch has cleverly blocked anything about the anthology’s existence from my radar.
When did you first start drawing? Was it something you always did as a kid, or was there some other event that instigated it? How have you seen your style evolve over the years, and who or what would you cite as your main influences?
I’ve been drawing since I was tiny. I used to be so proud of my four-year-old self for not just drawing stick figures. I did have an issue with drawing hands. They would just be a bunch of squiggles.
The first comic I think I ever made was with my friend Don. It was a Bill and Ted ripoff where the title characters, Rick and Don, went back to Medieval England. The only comics either of us had were Mad and Cracked Magazine. I always knew comics were cool but never owned any. I wish I knew libraries existed back then.
I don’t know if I have influences. I only started drawing myself because of Ben Snakepit. A lot of people say I draw like the Simpsons. I do like the Simpsons. But I never intended to style anything after the show. Am I allowed to say my influences are funny cartoons? I do really like funny cartoons.
Your contribution to AYW3 talks about moving across the country and trading in cheap rent and a well-paying job for a higher cost of living and not as much money. What other things did you gain or lose in the process? And what do you think is the take away from it?
I don’t think I lost anything other than the ability to spend money like a very stupid king. What did I take away from it? Maybe nothing. I still spend money on things I don’t need. I foolishly spent money on cases for my Nintendo games the other day. I’ve learned nothing.
Wait wait! I thought of something. Don’t stay at a job that steals away your life and soul because you make a lot of money. I work three days a week now as a nurse’s aid and that gives me time to do all the things I like doing. I don’t get a huge salary, but I like the job, and all the days off allow me to do the things like staring at a computer screen trying to answer questions I don’t know how to answer.
Aside from AYW, where else has your work shown up?
Great question! Nowhere.
How does the creative process tend to work for you? Is there a specific place where you draw? What kinds of things inspire the topics you cover? Do you prefer to make art that is specifically for something (a contribution, for example) or do you like not having a specific assigned subject matter?
I think about things to draw or write about all the time. And I tend to forget them until days later. When I’m sitting at home by myself and think of something good, I drop whatever I’m doing and go attempt to make that thing.
I tend to draw in an office in a house I share with my girlfriend Lyndsey. Her side is covered in 1960s dolls and my side is covered in cables, VHS tapes, old flyers, and an oversized drafting table. I used to love drawing in the abandoned doctors’ dining room in the hospital I work at.
And I have a love/hate relationship with having to cover a topic given to me. I love it because it forces me to make something. And I hate it because it takes me so long to think of something that covers the subject matter. I don’t know if any of you have watched any of my DOODLE THYME shorts, but those are usually made the day of the screening. Something usually clicks before the film is due. I think the hastiness of some of those shorts are what makes them funny.
One of your regularly occurring comics is about Star Trek: The Next Generation. Is this your first time watching it through? Why Star Trek and not any other show?
I don’t really watch a lot of TV. I’m sure a lot of TV shows are great. I just don’t care to watch them. This is the first time I’ve ever watched Star Trek: TNG. I had known Brett has seen it at least once all the way through. I started texting him as I was watching the episodes as some sort of running joke. I was scrolling through our text conversations and thought they were pretty funny. I started drawing comics using our text convos and it became a fun drawing excercise. It also shows folks how funny my friend Brett Bays is.
In addition to comics, you also design show flyers. What are some of your favorite ones you’ve made, and why?
I have probably made more than 400 flyers. Some are insanely terrible and made with whatever I could find at Kinko’s. Since I don’t set up many shows anymore, I don’t get asked very often to make any. Some of the flyers I made recently have references to things I like on them in hopes that someone will approach me and be like “I really like that dumb thing you like too!” But that has yet to happen.
I made one that has Killer from All Dogs Go To Heaven and Hoodoo from Lidsville. And of course we all know that both of those characters are voiced by the late great Charles Nelson Reilly. Yet nobody has approached me to tell me what a genius I am for making that flyer.
Tell us more about 1919 Hemphill. Have you gotten involved in any similar kinds of projects in Indiana?
1919 Hemphill is a collective-run DIY space in Fort Worth, TX. It has been running for about 12 years now. I was event coordinator there for the first 10 years and I accidentally ran it by myself for 2. It’s a big place that does a lot of shows, and has a free store and a lending library. All events are welcome there, but only rock shows seem to be what people want to set up there.
People have asked me about starting something like that in Bloomington, but I only want to be an advisor. I love 1919 Hemphill, but I also like that I don’t get my inbox flooded with rock show requests every day and I am not spending most my evenings in a cement building.
How do you define success?
Having someone I don’t know tell me they like my stuff. Which has only happened to me once. A kid wrote me a very nice email about how much he liked “Day Off,” a long-lost mini comic I made. If I can please people with whatever silly thing I am doing, I call that success.
Do you spend money on things you don’t need? Do you appreciate the subtle genius that goes into making show flyers? Do you want the Cliffs Notes on episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation? If you answered yes to any of these questions, point your cursor to Rick V’s Tumblr. Don’t forget to grab a copy of As You Were issues 1-8 while you’re at it.