After celebrating the success of Rat Queens at Emerald City Comicon, Geek & Sundry sat down to talk more about the badass medieval maidens with writer Kurtis Wiebe. What does the future hold for Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief? Check out the interview below to find out and learn more about Rat Queens!
Geek & Sundry: What was the inspiration for Rat Queens? How long have you been working on Rat Queens?
Kurtis Wiebe: It comes from a lot of different places, really. I think the one most people pick up on gaming. While there’s definitely an undeniable influence from my own gaming roots, it’s actually not the biggest inspiration. You will get some small in-jokes here and there, and, I’ve always tried to make the comedy open to all readers, not specifically just game references. It was more the idea of wanting to create of fantasy series I’ve always wanted to read. I’d grown tired of the ye olde speak and the generalizations I’ve seen in book after comic after game. The Scottish Dwarf, in particular, is one that comes to mind. So, I absolutely love fantasy, but there were some things I wanted to play with in the narrative that calls out those old tropes and has fun with them. Roc Upchurch and I have been working towards Rat Queens for a few years. We’d had an original idea before Rat Queens that was called Goblinettes, that played with a lot of similar ideas, especially the modern language and attitudes in a fantasy setting. We didn’t get a lot of positive response to that idea and eventually it morphed into what we’re doing with Rat Queens.
G&S: What is your favorite comic/fictional character?
KW: Right now my favorite comic is probably Saga, but I have to admit that with my crazy schedule I’m way behind on my reading. I’m also working my way through the collected volumes of Akira and that book is so damn gorgeous. Just, impossible detail on every page. My favorite fictional character? That is a massive question. I’m just going to roll with the first one that entered my brain and that’s Walter White from Breaking Bad. One of the most compelling, sad and terrifying character arcs in television show history.
G&S: What do you love most about working on Rat Queens/ writing comics?
KW: With Rat Queens in particular, it’s the opportunity to do something different and to make some positive changes in a quickly changing industry. To be part of this new era of creators who embrace the diversity of the real world by representing it in comic books with a diverse cast. It’s been amazing to see the love coming from the fans who are gay, straight, black, white, big, small, old and young. I’ve never seen such a wide variety of fans in my life as a comic writer and I’m absolutely honoured to be right there alongside their excitement. That spills over into everything I write now. It’s opened my eyes in a lot of ways, especially because I was worried that Rat Queens wouldn’t be given a chance. An all-female team fantasy book created by two guys. I feel pretty stupid admitting that I’d doubted my own series. I’m really pleased that everyone proved me wrong and the fans have made working on this series an absolute joy.
G&S: Which character do you connect to the most- Hannah, Violet, Dee, or Betty?
KW: Dee. Her story and my own personal story are actually very similar. I might have some demons to work out with her journey. Which… could get interesting. I also have the same social struggles as her. Put me in a room with a small group of friends or acquaintances… totally fine. Put me in a room packed with strangers… kill me. I think that surprises a lot of people because I can manage good conversation when it’s required of me, but it’s very difficult. There are aspects of the other three I wish I could embody. Hannah’s ability to define her borders and then proceed to let everyone know exactly what they are. Violet’s ability to make tough decisions not motivated by guilt or outside pressure. Betty’s gift with people, of loving people unconditionally and accepting them where they are at.
G&S: Rat Queens has a lot of humor. Can you share any funny stories from the production process or fan reactions to the series?
KW: I suppose there’s been a few stories in relation to some of the humour from the series, but the stories themselves aren’t… hilarious. For instance, when the first issue came out, there was a single page sequence where we listed four other mercenary groups alongside the Rat Queens; the Peaches, Four Daves, Obsidian Darkness and Brother Ponies. Other than the Peaches, who we had long term plans for, every other team was a one off joke and the plan was to fully kill them off by issue two. I started seeing the hashtag on Twitter #TeamFourDaves and, not just once, quite a lot. I messaged Roc and said that we had to keep them. If you’re caught up on the series, you actually can see that they played a much bigger role by the end of the fifth issue.
G&S: What’s the future for Rat Queens? What kind of adventures do you have planned or would like to see them go on?
KW: Well, our new arc starts with Issue #6 on May 7. It takes place almost right after the finale to our first arc and we start to delve deeper into the occult pages found by Dee, and, by no coincidence, her past. Hence the title, “The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth”. We really have no end in sight. We’re planning and placing story seeds even now that won’t pay off for 30-40 issues. We’re just getting started and as long as there are fans and we still feel there’s more to say with the series, it can go for many years.
G&S: Any other projects in the works that you’d like to share with us?
KW: I simultaneously write another series, Peter Panzerfaust. It’s the Peter Pan story reimagined in a realistic World War II France during the German invasion of 1941. While it sounds like a lighthearted adventure story, we’re actually diving into a pretty deep character piece about children being forced to grow up in a dark time of human history. It’s about the fearlessness of the human spirit and how we survive alongside those we love when everything else is lost.
Special thank you to Kurtis Wiebe and the rest of the Rat Queens team. For more information about this epic comic, check out RatQueens.com.
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Interview by Brittany Sandler. Follow her on Twitter!