The idea of the Issues with Perspective feature is to highlight a more in depth look at the creators who makes comics and the process behind the making of the issues/series. Iv taken idea and appled it to Kickstarters with Perspective which is the same format but to highlight ongoing Kickstarters. The idea is that you will get a better perspective of the issue/series/Kickstarter by learning more about the process and the actual creator who made it. I hope with this feature readers will get a further look into the books and Kickstarters they might be interested in and the amazing people who make them.
For this installment of Kickstarters with Perspective I was to talk to creator Robert Young about his current Kickstarter and upcoming comic Funeral Parlor. Robert discuss the series, his process, influences, running his Kickstarter, and Wrestling. I think for most comic fans it seems wrestling is a natural pairing. Wrestling is essential live action comics. Just like comics, wrestling can get real emotions out of us and our investment and that is what Funeral Parlor is about.
Below you will find the interview with Robert. A huge thanks to Robert for taking the time to talk about Funeral Parlor and his Kickstarter. Be sure to go back and support Funeral Parlor up now on Kickstarter!
Robert Young and Funeral Parlor
Who is Funeral Parlor? (Creative Team)
I am the entire creative team. Unless you count Vince McMahon, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Paul Bearer, The Undertaker, and The Ultimate Warrior.
What is Funeral Parlor?
Funeral Parlor is a story about the day I learned that wrestling is scripted. I was watching wrestling at my grandparent’s house and Paul Bearer’s Funeral Parlor segment came on. Funeral Parlor was a new interview feature where Paul Bearer would have other wrestlers on and, usually, they would be attacked by the Undertaker or some other heel character. But, this was the first installment so I guess I didn’t know that yet. The Ultimate Warrior was the first person to accept Paul Bearer’s invitation. Paul Bearer unveiled a casket that was made especially for him by the Undertaker. It was all pretty dramatic. After a few minutes, the Undertaker emerged from a coffin being used as a set prop and attacked Warrior from behind with a metal urn. Undertaker put Warrior in the casket he had made for him and shut the lid while Paul Bearer locked it. I was pretty worked up by this point, but what really sent me over the edge was the commentary. Vince McMahon (owner of WWE), Macho Man Randy Savage, and Rowdy Roddy Piper do such a great job selling how horrible and dire the situation is becoming. The longer Warrior is locked inside the casket, the more panicked and hysterical the commentators become. I didn’t actually see a lot of this because I had completely lost it and was scream crying until my mom came and carried me into the front room to calm me down.
The idea for the book came while I was working on an MFA in illustration at the Maryland Institute College of Art. I was working on an animation pitch called World of Occult Wrestling that I was trying to get picked up and I kind of stumbled across this particular incident and my personal history with it. I told a few people the story of me watching this as a kid and how it affected me and they seemed to dig it. I actually gave a short public lecture about it. I’ve watched wrestling almost my entire life and when it first started surfacing as an illustration influence a few years ago I just chalked it up to nostalgia. But it was really a lot more than that. I had always kind of accepted professional wrestling the way most other people do, as cheap, low-brow, mindless entertainment. But that isn’t really the case. It’s theater, whose one-take live stunts require immense physical skill, and that is supposed to be taken as real. Not just a suspension of disbelief, but actually real. Even now there are questions about whether or not things that took place decades ago were real or staged. That’s just really cool to me.
You could maybe say that this story is about a loss of innocence, or having a little bit of magic taken out of the world, or growing up. But I think, for me, this book is about how much I love professional wrestling and how much it can affect you for something that is supposed to be inconsequential, light entertainment.
Why should readers back Funeral Parlor?
There are a few reasons. I think there’s your standard “help comic artists, storytellers, craftspeople” and that totally applies here. There are also people that appreciate a risograph book and I think that’s a totally awesome reason to back Funeral Parlor. I think the reason I would back Funeral Parlor if it weren’t my book is that it treats professional wrestling as something other than some absurd backdrop for macho action stuff.
When/Where/How can readers expect to get Funeral Parlor?
Funeral Parlor will debut at Chicago Zine Fest for people that don’t back the kickstarter. I’m definitely planning on getting the kickstarter reward books out sooner. After that I will try to have it at MoCCA, SPX, and maybe some others. We’ll see. But I will have it for sale through my website www.robertyoungillustration.com. I’ll definitely announce all of that stuff through instagram, twitter, and tumblr. (insta: robertyoungillustration twitter: @occultwrestling tumblr: robertyoungillustration.tumblr.com) I’ll have an e-book version available eventually through gumroad.
What was a normal workday/writing session like for Funeral Parlor?
I’m an illustration professor, a bicycle mechanic, and a freelance illustrator, so finding time to work on Funeral Parlor was difficult and I wouldn’t say there was a normal workday in there. It took about three months from start to finish. I started by transcribing the audio from the video segment and then basing the script around that. For the most part, the dialogue is exactly what was said in the original broadcast, but I think there are a few very minor changes and definitely a lot of omissions. Writing comics is much much harder for me than drawing them. I can space out at my desk and draw page after page after page without much thought, but writing takes a lot more focus and concentration. Luckily, the WWE did a lot of my writing for me on this. I did most of the book in a few bursts. I would find a few hours on a weekend to thumbnail half of the book, then have to wait two weeks before I had another few hours to thumbnail the rest of the book. But, even when I wasn’t actively writing or drawing, I was thinking about the book and what I wanted to do and how to do it.
As a creator has it been more time been spent on the making of the comic or now running/preparing the Kickstarter?
I spent a good amount of time on the kickstarter, and way more trying to get publicity for it or finding new ways to tell my friends and followers on social media that I needed some cash. But I’ve still probably spent three times more on the book itself. There have been a lot of edits and rewrites and redraws. At this point I have even called the book complete, but I doubt I’ll stop messing with it until it goes to the printer.
What is your work space while working on the project?
I have a small studio apartment that I do almost all of my work in, minus a few nights at a bar with friends doing research or exploratory sketches. I work almost exclusively digitally and have for the last few years. I’ve got a bunch of little wrestling toys and things friends have given me around my desk, and there’s a ton of art on my walls which are mostly the work of friends.
What are the tools/applications/research you used most in the creation of Funeral Parlor?
I did all the drawing for this comic digitally in photoshop, from thumbnails to finals. I don’t have a scanner anymore and I don’t like having to scan things, so it’s easier this way. Though it would be nice to be able to work outside of my apartment more often. I did all the page layout and typesetting in indesign. All the brushes I used on this were from Kyle Webster except for maybe one or two that are from Frenden. Their brushes really opened up working digitally for me. I honestly couldn’t do it without their tools. I use an Intuos tablet I bought about four years ago and longingly wait for the day I can afford a Cintiq. For research I watch a whole whole lot of wrestling. Everything I can find really. I’ve got a subscription to the WWE network which is on most of the time while I’m home. But, I also watch a lot of wrestling from other promotions like Chikara, PWG, and NJPW. The research portion of this project has probably been going on for 28 years now.
What is the situation that gets the most productivity out of you?
It varies from day to day. Sometimes it’s the hardest thing in the world for me to figure out what I need that day to get work done. The majority of the time it’s being at home by myself, having an entire day off from my other jobs and obligations, putting on some doom metal or post rock or some kind of music that doesn’t have words, and just knowing that I’m not doing anything else until I get enough work done. I recently bought John Carpenter’s Lost Themes on vinyl, so that’s been playing most often while I work. If there’s something on tv, even wrestling, it has to be something I’ve seen a million times. I think that repetition is key for me to be able to focus.
What media were you engaged with during the creation of Funeral Parlor (music/movies/books/games) that helped the creation process or that you just happened to be into at that time?
There are a few comics that I look at a lot when I’m working on my own comics. I think most often I look at Sam Bosma’s Fantasy Basketball. I bought a copy from him at SPX a few years ago before Nobrow picked it up. When I get stuck paneling I’ll usually look through it and try to find some inspiration. I do the same thing with Jimmy Giegrich’s Fight Frogs, Mignola’s Hellboy, Ken Dahl’s Monsters, some of Chris Ware’s stuff, Jillian Tamaki’s This One Summer. A lot of the people I met at MICA influenced my style overall, so I’ll look at their stuff and find things to rip off. I have a few of my friend Sarah Schneider’s wordless comics that I’ll look at. I wouldn’t say our content or styles are at all similar, but she has these beautiful, quietly composed panels that I like to use in my work.
I was watching Gilmore Girls through most of the creation of this book, but I don’t think it had any influence. I kind of lost interest midway through the last season anyway. I watch a lot of horror movies in general. I think John Carpenter’s The Thing has had a big influence on the way I pace my stories. There are dramatic things going on, but there are also these big panels to slow it down. I’ve always loved that. Especially in horror, not that this is a horror book. But those slow scenes in The Thing, or Alien, or Rosemary’s Baby where you have to just sit there and deal with what’s going on are really great.
I listen to a lot of music. A lot of metal (Ahab, Ghost, Boris, Mastodon, The Sword). Some post rock (Godspeed You! Black Emperor), some hip hop (MF Doom, Aesop Rock). There’s some other stuff floating around that I listen to, but those have been played pretty often.
For readers who enjoy Funeral Parlor what else would you suggest to them that they might enjoy that has a similar tone/style/message of your work?
Box Brown’s Andre the Giant: Life and Legend
Sam Bosma’s Fantasy Basketball
Ken Dahl’s Monsters
Beyond the Mat - A documentary about pro wrestling that will absolutely crush you.
Chikara is a wrestling promotion that has some amazing wrestling and really bizarre story lines that you won’t see in a lot of the larger promotions. It’s also pretty family friendly. If you’re near Philly, or they come through your town, definitely check them out.
What is something you learned about the series/yourself/comics from work on Funeral Parlor and the current Kickstarter?
I was really surprised how emotional I could get while working on this comic and kind of going through what had happened over and over and over again. There’s a small part with my mom and my uncle towards the end that got to me a few times. I wasn’t sobbing or anything quite so dramatic, but there were times that I had to stop for a second and let how much this had affected me really sink in. And even after having watched the fifteen minute segment a million times, there are times that I’ll watch it again and get a little scared. Or maybe not scared exactly but strongly empathizing with my 8 year old self.
One of the most interesting aspects of Funeral Parlor is the personal nature of the comics. Has that facet of the story proven more or less difficult as you worked through the comic?
I wouldn’t say that I consider the difficulty of the personal aspect of the story at all. There are maybe a few things about me that I don’t care to talk about, or that I keep private, but anything else is fair game. I’ve never been shy about answering questions, or revealing personal details about myself. And there’s that saying that you should write what you know.
Was there anything that you found particularly challenging or blocks you hit in the creation process? On the same note what was the most enjoyable part of your creation experience?
The writing. Even for how little of it is actually mine and not transcribed, the writing is by far the hardest part. It’s a big problem actually because there are so many stories in my head that I want to tell and they’re so hard to get out. At least in a clear and well written manner. I didn’t even write most of the narrator dialogue until after the book was drawn. I had an idea of what I wanted to say, but I would leave spaces where I thought they’d look good, or where I needed a break in the visuals.
The most enjoyable part will be when I have that printed book in my hand.
Best thing you could say about running the Kickstarter so far?
I absolutely did not expect as much support as I’ve received. I can’t express how grateful I am to everyone who has donated money, or posted links to the kickstarter on my behalf, or offered me words of encouragement.
Why do you love Funeral Parlor?
I love Funeral Parlor because I love professional wrestling and the stories that it’s able to tell.