Original short interviews with notable, rising or overlooked
figures from comics or the larger entertainment field by Bill Baker.
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BAKER'S DOZEN for 09/03/2003
Wild Women and Whiskey
Mark Ricketts on Whiskey Dickel, International Cowgirl
The totally hep cat who presented us with the first beat era comic book private dick in Nowheresville, that same sick mind which plumbed the depths of the netherworld to present a fresh vision of hell in The Book of Twilight almost 10 years ago, is back in a big way. The ever-eclectic and always entertaining Mark Ricketts has really outdone himself this time, mixing up some of the most diverse aspects of pop culture to create something that's truly sweet, but delivers a real sharp kick to the funny bone.
Starting tomorrow, you all can mosey over to your nearest comic shop or book store and demand yourself a strong shot of Whiskey Dickel, International Cowgirl. And if the roster of folks working on this book, or the positive reactions of those who've sampled the previews of this treat are any indication, this strange brew surely will satisfy even the most jaded of readers -- and leave everyone thirsting for more.
Bill Baker: OK, who is Whiskey Dickel, and what's her world like?
Mark Ricketts: If you've heard the hype for the book, then you know that Ms. Whiskey Dickel is a rodeo queen, an astronaut, a diplomat, a movie star and an international cowgirl. However, in this 120 page graphic novel from Image Comics, we flash back to Ms. Dickel's humble, white trash beginnings, show her kick redneck hiney at a rodeo carnival, and expose her lariat skills as she hog-ties an ornery buffalo. It's a sure-as-shootin', rootin' tootin' good time!
BB: How'd this series come about, and what kind of development process did it go through?
MR: 1982. While waiting in an airport for the arrival of my band's (Emergency Mouse) guitarist, I noticed a group of gals in cowboy hats, poop-kickers, and spangled Manuel suits returning from a Paris, France shopping spree. I turned to my keyboardist pal and remarked, "Check it out--international cowgirls!"
1992. Caliber Comics published my first issue of International Cowgirl Magazine which introduced rodeo sweetheart, Whiskey Dickel.
1998. Wayne Alan Harold, director of such schlock horror/dark comedy features as Killer Nerd and Townies asked me to write a Whiskey Dickel screenplay. Harold even went so far as to cast comics luminaries, Jill Thompson and P. Craig Russell, in feature roles. There was even talk of a Brian Michael Bendis cameo. Unfortunately, we could not drum up sufficient funds to make the film -- so it was abandoned.
2000. My niece, a big fan of Rugrats and Wild Thornberries, was on her computer showing me the Klasky Csupo site when I noticed that they were holding a screenwriting contest. Well, I had already written a screenplay for Whiskey so I trimmed off a piece of it, rewrote it as an animation teleplay, and sent it in.
After I won the contest, the Klasky Csupo people held the option on the project for a year. So, during that time, I spent the prize money and dreamed of a Whiskey animated series. Well, it never happened. But when I regained control over the project, I decided to bring Whiskey back to comics.
BB: Who else is involved, and how'd you rope them into working on the book with you?
MR: Mike Oeming knew I was looking for an artist to help me bring Whiskey to life and introduced me to Mike Hawthorne (3 Days In Europe, Terminator 3, Queen & Country, Grendel, etc.). It was a match made in rodeo heaven. Mike's amazing character designs really bring the story to life.
I also assembled an amazing group of artists and writers (mostly friends) to contribute to the Whiskey mythos.
BB: What do each of these gents bring to the table that suits the particular chapter they're illustrating or writing?
MR: Cartoonist Jay Washer whipped up a few 4 panel newspaper funnies.
I worked with animator Eric Wight on my short story in Hellboy: Wierd Tales #2 and managed to talk him into contributing sketches and storyboards for a bogus Whiskey Dickel animated project.
And then there's that talented bunch that created the International Cowgirls:
S. American Cowgirl - artist: Jill Thompson writer: Will Pfeifer
BB: What are you trying to do with this particular book? Is this pure entertainment, or are there some other things you might be trying to accomplish with it?
Jewish Cowgirl - artist: Michael Avon Oeming writer: Brian M. Bendis
Japanese Cowgirl - artist: David Mack writer: Scott Morse
Hawaiian Cowgirl - artist: Steven Griffin writer: B. Clay Moore
Russian Cowgirl - artist: Steve Lieber writer: Geoff Johns
Transylvanian Cowgirl - artist: Mark Wheatley writer: Jay Faerber
Mexican Cowgirl artist: Jay Geldhof writer: Wayne Alan Harold
Indian Cowgirl artist: John K. Snyder III writer: J.C. Vaughn
Afghanistan Cowgirl - artist: P. Craig Russell writer: Debra Rodia
Cuban Cowgirl - artist: Phil Hester writer: Jim Valentino
Australian Cowgirl - artist: Tim Bradstreet writer: Marc Andreyko
Italian Cowgirl - artist: Guy Davis writer: Scott Allie
German Cowgirl - artist: Mike Norton writer: J. Torres
British Cowgirl - artist: Galen Showman writer: Antony Johnston
Korean Cowgirl - artist: Rob Ullman writer: Eric Stephenson
Canadian Cowgirl - artist: Tom Fowler writer: John Rogers
MR: My protagonist may encourage the empowerment of women and you could find a message for gun control in one of the stories, but I'm no soapbox preacher. It's entertainment. However, if a cult ever gets created based on ideas gleaned from my books, I'll be glad to be its figurehead.
BB: Any plans for Miss Dickel in the future? How about other projects that might be of interest to fans of your work?
MR: I have script for a 96 page Whiskey Dickel graphic novel that begins soon after the last story in the current graphic novel. We'll just have to wait till Mike is not so busy. And Mike is really, really busy!!
The next book is called Dioramas, A Love Story. This one is for all of you crime comics kids jonesing for a story that features a love-starved, art lovin' serial killer. The 120 page graphic novel is illustrated by Dario (Star Wars Tales, Robo Dojo) Brizuela and will come out in late March.
The next project after that is Lazarus Jack. It's a full color graphic novel coming from Dark Horse in the summer of '04!!
BB: What do you get from doing this kind of work, personally as well as professionally?
MR: For the short time I'm tappin' away at the keyboard, I get to inhabit someone else's world. And sometimes I even get paid to do it.
BB: What do you hope readers get from your work?
MR: A short vacation. A thrill ride. An escape. Their moneys worth.
BB: Any thoughts you'd like to leave us with?
MR: Dogs have elbows and horses have knees. Think about it.
For further information on the nefarious activities of Mark Ricketts, including his diabolical plan to take over the world of comics, head over to http://lurid.com/handbuzzer/handbuzzer.html, his secret lair on the World Wide Web.
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