In preparation for this column, I was sent a PDF of Ichabod Jones:Monster Hunter issues 1 & 2. Upon “cracking the page” one is entered into an insane twirling landscape coming from the mind of creator/writer Russell Nohelty. The blistering manic artwork is provided by the talented Renzo Podesta. I just sat down and chatted with Russell for an hour. The rambling interview is below.
Who are you and Where are you from?
My name is Russell Nohelty. I grew up in Northern Va before moving to Los Angeles 4 years ago.
Were you always a comic book fan? If so, do you remember the first one your read?
I have always been a comic book fan. I collected as a kid, but when I got to college I just didn’t have to time or money to collect any more.
Luckily, when I started working in comics, I was able to start collecting again.
It’s hard to remember the exact first comic I read. I distinctly remember arc of comics I read as a kid like Knightfall, Death/Return of superman, Spider-Man clone saga. In fact, when I went home this year and found the first issue of Spider-Man 2099.
When did you know you wanted to become a comic creator/writer?
In high school I was in my school’s theater troupe. We collectively wrote and performed a one act play from scratch. That was probably the moment I knew I wanted to write.
Who are you major influences as a writer?
That’s a great question. It sounds cliche for people of my generation to say, but people like Joss Whedon, Shane Black. Tarrentino and Robert Rodriquez. I go back and look at Chuck Palahniuk books.
Really I admire anybody that can combine comedy and drama seemlessly.
Do you remember the first comic you ever created?
It actually wasn’t that long ago. My first comic was The Wannabes (www.wannabescomic.com). It was based off a tv series I developed years before.
Did the lessons you learned on The Wannabes assist you in developing Ichabod Jones?
Every comic book you develop teaches you something for your future comics. Wannabes taught me how to develop a script for the comic page, it’s much different than writing for TV, movies, web series, or any other medium.
Wannabes has a very cool manga-inspired style, but when I took it around to publishers, the Japanese publishers told me it was too American, and the american publishers told me it was too Japanese.
So it really helped me learn how to make a book that both I and a publisher would love.
Yes, I note that Ichabod Jones is published by Viper Comics, how did you go about finding them to publish your book?
Honestly, I cold-emailed their submissions department and almost immediately heard back from Jessie that he wanted to look it over. I know most people don’t have success doing that, but it worked for me.
I think it definitely helped that the art was so unique and beautiful while being horrific.
That art style helps it stand out from the crowd, which is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far.
Yes, in issue one of Ichabod Jones you keep the action coming fast and furious. It definitely gets the adrenaline rushing. Where did the idea come from?
Going back to Wannabes, I’d come home bitter and disgruntled. I set out to figure out the craziest, most insane story I could. One that no publisher could possible be insane enough to publish.
I was driving to a meeting, and it just came to me. It was one of those moments of divine intervention when everything comes together. The story came together in a matter of days.
Tell us a little bit about the concept.
Ichabod is a psychopath that’s been interred in an asylum because a voice in his head convinced him to murder countless people.
That’s all before the story begins.
ICHABOD JONES: MONSTER HUNTER is the disturbed, creepy, twisted and often brutal tale of one man’s journey to destroy all the evil in the world.
Ichabod Jones follows the exploits of an insane and fundamentally deranged mental patient that escapes from a maximum security asylum to rid the world of monsters during the Apocalypse with the (usually unwelcome) help of the omniscient, impatient, and authoritative voice in his head.
The voice has groomed him for years to be a great beacon of hope and only chance for humanity’s survival.
I’m biased of course, but I think he’s one of the greatest anti-heroes to come along in years.
I’ve only read issues one and two, he’s definitely one of the more interesting anti-heroes, especially his look. The art is manic like a bi-polar person off their meds. How is it working with artist Renzo Podesta to create this unique vision?
Renzo is amazing. I can’t believe he’s still not a household name. I’ve honestly never seen an art style quite like it.
After writing the script, I NEVER thought I’d be able to make it. The style in my head was very surreal and crazy.
But the minute Renzo sent me his test page, I knew he was the right artist. He immediately and instinctively knew was I was going for.
In fact one of those pages from issue #1 is the test page he sent me. Panel for panel, it was the exact page I had envisioned in my head.
Isn’t that the best? I love to see what I envisioned come alive through an artist. For new creators, what would you tell them about finding an artist to bring your vision to life?
Take your time. It took 6 weeks to find an artist for Ichabod and 8 weeks for Katrina. Finding an artist is the most important thing you can do for your book.
Cast a wide net, use a resource like digitalwebbing or penciljack to post for an opening. Get as many artists to submit as possible and cull from there.
tell you how many good stories were ruined by art.
and it’s not just bad art, more times than not it’s art that doesn’t complement the story.
Well, you’ve certainly found that marriage with Renzo. What other projects are you working on?
My next book is callled Katrina Hates Dead Shit (katrinacomic.com)
Again, I had an amazing experience working with that artist as well.
It’s about a badass chick that gets sick of living during the apocalypse so she sets out to kill the devil and send the walking dead back to hell where there belong.
Now that sounds dynamic. You’ve certainly got a tremendous imagination, what advice would you give to young writers on how to focus that onto the page?
It’s not complicated, just write. And write in all sorts of formats. I’m a huge structure guy. Dialog, prose, etc is all great, but structure is the backbone to any story.
And the only way to develop your structure is to write.
That’s the only way to know what you’re good at and bad at. What you like to write, and what you hate to write.
When writers begin, they are always very concerned with everything being good and right. It’s what keeps most new writers from getting onto the page.
But you just have to write and write and write. Know your first stuff is probably gonna suck. But eventually it will suck less, and less and less, untiil it doesn’t suck at all. And then it will go from not sucking at all to being kinda good.
I totally agree man. Finally, where can fans find your books and how can they contact you?
You can buy issues #1 and #2 right now on kindle, ibooks, comics+ and graphic.ly. Issue #3 will come out on the same places on May 16th.
The final issue will be out mid june.
The trade will be printed, with 8 extra epilogue pages that you can’t get anywhere elese.
and that will be out just in time for Comic-Con, where I will be signing at the Viper booth.
You can contact me on my website: www.russell-nohelty.com or my blog at russellnohelty.blogspot.com.
Great, thanks for a fun and informative interview, I for one will look forward to reading your stuff in the future.
Thank you so much for taking the time!
Andre Owens has been hiding in Los Angeles for over 15 years, a former Director of Photography, he now writes and publishes the cosmic comic, Force Galaxia. He is currently writing and plans to produce a webseries, The Psychedelic Detective. In his free time he enjoys long form television, sushi and a celebration of all things 420. His name’s not Supergreen!