Mixing it Up: Drew Rausch
Welcome to Mixing it Up where breakout creators create things, break things, and hang out. Every week, David Gallaher experiences the world beyond comics to discuss the influences, hobbies, and thoughts of your favorite artists and writers. This week, David heads to Baltimore for a quick visit to the grave of Edgar Allan Poe and for drinks at the Inner Harbor with Sullengrey creator and Cthulhu Tales artist, Drew Rausch.
Baltimore gets deceptively chilly during October. Of course, not all the chills come from the strong breeze blowing over Chesapeake Bay … no, this is a chill that tingles your spine … and it’s a chill made real when you visit the grave of Edgar Allan Poe with Drew Rausch.
Drew is used to the chill though. He spends his days drawing all the things that go bump in the night. And, on a day like today, he’s already talking about ways to make the setting even more creepy.
"All we need now is a soundtrack. Something to make this a little more epic. Something from an Italian horror film would do nicely about now. Fulci? Or, maybe Dario Argento?"
With his hair buoyed by the chill of Charm City, Drew’s appearance would bring to mind the appearance of Cure frontman, Robert Smith, or perhaps Edward Scissorhands. And, while some are quick to label his work as gothic, it is a label Rausch rejects.
"I was never much into labeling. It’s just something the powers that be do to try and reach what they feel is the appropriate audience. For what I do, it’s art. Some will like it, others won’t. I try to incorporate a wide variety of influences from the spooky to the mundane. Granted, my everyday occasionally involves giant tentacles and flesh eating zombies."
"When we released the first mini series of Sullengrey, we were pigeon-holed into the whole spooky comic section of the comic store, which may have not been the best marketing, in my opinion. If you weren’t a fan of say Johnny the Homicidal Maniac or Lenore, you may have passed us by. But, we’ve been able to reach a broad audience through conventions just by people coming up and taking a peek at the trade."
For Sullengrey, Drew collaborated with his wife, Jocelyn Gajeway for a story that explored the nature of fear. The series, which has been collected as a trade, was published by Ape Entertainment. Rausch describes is as the journey of a man named Grey through the town of Autumn’s Grove, where the monsters in your head are quite real indeed.
"The whole point of the story is fear and how people deal with it."
Drew and I spend time admiring Poe’s grave marker. Over the years, there has been some intense controversy about what Poe’s true burial spot should be – Philadelphia, Boston, or Baltimore. We spend time addressing the complicated issues surrounding his death.
"Poe belongs to Baltimore," Rausch contends, "at least we respect his memory here."
Poe’s work in the horror genre bring us to discussing another infamous horror writer, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, or HP Lovecraft for short.
"I must’ve been around six or seven years old when I started drawing, and even then my scribbles resembled strange mutant like Lovecraftian creatures," Drew recounts. "Lovecraft’s work is so beyond its own fictional boundaries that it’s archetypal. It’s around every corner and in every shadow."
Rausch, whose work resembles that of Sam Keith, tries to take in a ‘little bit of everything’ when rendering his pages for BOOM! Studio’s Cthulhu Tales.
"It’s hard to narrow one specific thing that I use for inspiration for approaching Cthulhu. When I started really considering comics, I was into the whole EC Comics style of art, so that’s an influence, in the same way you never forget your first comic. But beyond that, I draw inspiration from Bruce Timm, Dave McKean, Ted McKeever and a whole bunch of German Expressionism – Nosferatu, Phantom of the Opera, and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari – that’s the kind of stuff I’m channeling."
Moving from the St Ann’s, Drew and I head past Charles Street down to the James Joyce pub for a couple of drinks. I ask Drew about how he spends his free time.
"You mean … there’s a life beyond comics," Rausch deadpans before talking about one of his favorite television shows. "You know, I really enjoy watching House. It’s such a nice chance of pace to see a hero who isn’t a nice guy – but a down-right cynical bastard."
"But, when I say that I don’t have a lot of free time, it is because I spend a lot of time researching and creating things. Since every story calls for a particular look, once I get a script, I read the whole thing and try to think of it in terms of a movie. I’ll seek out films that reflect the story or genre, studying the lighting, shadows, and themes. Then, I’ll ask myself "How would a director shoot these scenes? How can I get the best performances out of my actors or characters?" And, stuff like that. I like to draw most of my stories from the real world, since I prefer a sort of organic feel, but on the other hand, I do a lot of layering of tones and textures in the computer. I also try to keep things rough looking, and slightly off kilter."
As we reach the bar, Drew reflects, "You know, the greatest feeling is to have a reader come up and say, ‘I bought your book and I loved it.’ That to me makes all the hard work worth it. It compels me to continue telling the best stories I can. It’s a hellva thing."
To discover more of Drew’s work, visit his MySpace page at: www.myspace.com/sullengrey and on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/mrdread. Learn more about his work for BOOM Studios, by heading to: http://www.boom-studios.net/
David Gallaher is the author of High Moon, Johnny Dollar, and Vampire the Masquerade: Tremere, among several other projects. When he’s not busy hanging out in bars and graveyards, he writes for the New York City Police Department. He can be found in Brooklyn or at his website: davidgallaher.com.