Monday, May 16, 2011

10 Questions with Rafer Roberts

In this second installment of "10 Questions with..." we feature Rafer Roberts. Above is a photo from last year's SPX of Rafer in the center with the Carnival Anthology carnies. Rafer has a new trade paperback out now called Plastic Farm: Sowing Seeds on Fertile Soil, which you can pre-order on Amazon or ask comic retailers to order it from Diamond using order code APR110754. Read on to learn more about Rafer and Plastic Farm.

1. How would you describe Plastic Farm to someone who has never read it before?

PLASTIC FARM is the life story of Chester Carter, his slow descent into complete insanity, and how that madness is reshaping reality in many strange, terrifying and hilarious ways. It is written and mostly drawn by me, and walks the delicate line between a serious treatise regarding the nature of humanity and our relationship with the sublime with dick and fart jokes.

We just released a new collection of the first 12 issues and folks are encouraged to pick that up from their local comics pusher.

2. Which cartoonists do you consider to be huge influences?

I'm not sure how much of it comes through in my artwork or storytelling but Dave Sim, David Lapham, Jack Kirby, Mike Mignola, and Ted McKeever all come to mind.

3. What are you inspired by outside of the art and comics world?

I'm a fan of crappy speculative documentaries about bible stories and the approaching apocalypse and I've been known to speed read the occasional bullshit new-age philosophy book. I've listened to a ton of Alan Watts lectures (who I actually enjoy) and I enjoy staring at the sky. Little snippets of overheard conversations, images from half-remembered dreams, old college sketchbooks filled in while a much younger me was out of my mind, and mis-read newspaper headlines all fill my brain with story bits. These bits float around my mind like rocks in a cement tumbler until they coalesce into a story or until I've ground them down to powder.

4. When did you start creating comics and what has kept you going after so many issues?

I started making PLASTIC FARM in early 1999, but many of the characters were appropriated from the comics I had been making since middle school. I don't know why I keep going. It's not like I'm getting rich doing this. I suppose I just have a story I need to get out of my head. I also enjoy the act of drawing; the zen-like act of sitting alone in a room making a series of lines that eventually approximate the form of a person or a building or whatever is very satisfying and keeps me sane.

5. You are the editor of Washington, DC's comic newspaper, Magic Bullet. What have you learned from this experience?

I've learned that being the editor of any sort of anthology project is a difficult and time consuming job. I've enjoyed my time as editor of MAGIC BULLET and I am damn proud of the product we have put out, but I've also realized that in order to steer the paper other projects fall by the wayside. I'm thinking that the next issue, MAGIC BULLET #3, will be my last as editor. I need to refocus on PLASTIC FARM if I'm going to finish it before I die.

6. What books have you recently read or are currently reading?

I'm terrible at this. I pick up so many books at shows that look great and they just sit in a pile unread waiting for me to have time for them, That said, I always have time for The Walking Dead. I wish Young Liars could have gone on longer (though I really wish Lapham could find a way to go back to Stray Bullets). I also highly recommend a book called The Signifiers by Michael Neno. Folks should go hunt that out.

7. You have been to many comic conventions recently. Do you have any fun stories from the road?

Yes, but most of them involve other people and I'm not sure I should talk about this stuff on the internet. Most of my stories actually involve me getting too drunk and making an ass out of myself in front of creators that I admire and respect.

8. Do you have any tips for someone interested in getting started in the comics industry?

Give up now. Go into banking.

Or, I suppose, take professional art lessons. That's the one thing I wish I had done and the one thing that has hurt me the most.

9. What upcoming projects do you have up your sleeve?

Hoo boy. There's two different anthology projects coming up that I'm not sure I can even discuss yet. I've got a short story in the upcoming FUBAR 2 World War 2 zombie anthology. It's a fun story and I got Jake Warrenfeltz to do some beautiful greywashes over my artwork. Jake and I are also working on another sort story written by our friend Stephen Hines. I've got some more Nightmare the Rat newspaper strips to draw, and of course, there is more PLASTIC FARM.

10. Where can people locate your comics?

Folks can find me at and the latest PLASTIC FARM collection is available in finer comic stores and bookstores everywhere, as well as online.

Now that you've read my interview with Rafer Roberts, stop by his blog to read his interview with me. Ten Questions with Carolyn Belefski:

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