Talking Comics with Tim | The Rahzzah
A project that I recently became aware of is Moon Girl, written by Tony Trov and Johnny Zito with art by The Rahzzah. Moon Girl (originally created back in the 1940s for EC Comics by Max Gaines, Gardner Fox and Sheldon Moldoff) was relaunched by Trov and Zito back in 2010 (after the property entered the public domain) via Comixology. More recently the Moon Girl has begun being published by Red 5 Comics–and Moon Girl 2 (of a five-issue miniseries) is slated to come out this Wednesday. As detailed by CBR back in early 2010: “Masked vigilantes wage a psychotic war against 1950’s bourgeois; it’s The Dark Knight meets Mad Men. Clare is a Russian Princess happily exiled to New York. When enemies from the past threaten her new life, the repressed Warrior Queen fights back. In the media her secret, nocturnal adventures are attributed to a mysterious hero; Moon Girl.” To get some perspective on the uniquely named artist‘s role in creating the series, we recently did an email interview.
Tim O’Shea: Your name is rather unique, what’s the backstory on your name?
The Rahzzah: Nothing interesting. It’s a hold-over from my “band days” where we all had nicknames. It began as Razz Matazz, got shortened to Razza. Then I had a lady friend who pronounced it “Rahzzah” and I liked that so I just started spelling it phonetically (plus I like the symmetry of it). And Rahzzah it stayed for a good long while, until Johnny Zito came along and decided it wasn’t good enough as-is and threw a “The” in front of it for some reason.
O’Shea: What attracted you to joining the Moon Girl project?
Rahzzah: Mainly my budding friendship with Tony & Johnny, plus being a bit worn down from trying to break-in to the comicbook biz thru the front door. It seemed more fun to sneak in thru the back doing our own thing.
O’Shea: What kind of reference did you use to capture the 1950s narrative landscape?
Rahzzah: Loooootta Google image searches, some retro-based Tumblr pages, old movies. Everytime I get a script the first day is pretty much all gathering reference for the issue. Aside from that, making everybody smoke goes a long way in selling the era…
O’Shea: What’s it like to dabble with a character that was initially created by folks such as Gardner Fox?
Rahzzah: It’s cool to be a part of–Moon Girl has all these elements of some of the biggest characters in comics. There’s elements of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man–and yet, Moon Girl never really “popped”. It seemed like they didn’t really know what to do with her. She was like a really good t.v. show that kept getting re-tooled, re-cast, and shuffled around in time slots before they just gave up on her. So if we have a chance to bring her back into the public consciousness, well, that’s exciting..
O’Shea: Can you talk about the approach you took in establishing a vibe/look to the Moon Girl cast and environs?
Rahzzah: “Colourful Noir” is what I’m shooting for. As far as the era, I found early on,while referencing, that what I equate to that time in the 50’s (the clothes,cars,music,etc..) are actually elements from the late 50’s and even the early 60’s. Ao I’m trying to give more of the “vibe” of the time rather than being a slave to “authentic 1955″. As far as the characters: I’m going by my opinion on what heroes and villains are to dictate the fashion. Like, to me, villains are the forward thinkers: they’re the ones always coming up with the new death ray; they’re the ones who want real change, to make the world something different than what it is now. Again: forward thinkers.
So you take Sugar Plum Faire, her look is pretty much 60’s mod in a 50’s world. On the flip-side, I find heroes to be reactionary. They rarely ever take the initiative to devise some plan to take care of evil before evil happens you know? It’s usually when the death ray is pointed at the city that they do something. And while they too want to change the world, I find that what they want to change the world to is more of some romantic notion of what they remember the world to be back in a “simpler time”. So they think backwards, so Moon Girl’s costume is made up of more elements from the past–more pseudo-military with a bit of a steampunk flair to it. And then you have Satana ,who, while also a villan, has to be sort of the central point to balance the two other designs…so her look is the 50’s starlet/bombshell/glamour girl (well, for all of 5 pages in issue 1 at least)
O’Shea: How satisfying is it to see your tales (initially launched digitally) in print?
Rahzzah: Very satisfying–because while I do totally believe that the future of comics, much like music before it, is in digital, all my best comic memories are from going into comic shoppes. Browsing the racks, talking to other folks there, picking up my floppies, spreading them out on my desk, physically turning pages. It feels like a “real thing” now in that same way that owning a physical CD feels more real to me than downloading that very same album off iTunes.
O’Shea: When did you start dabbling with the mash-ups you do, such as the recent X-Muppets piece?
Rahzzah: I couldn’t tell you really, it’s just the way my brain works sometimes. At some point while watching Animal and Beaker singing “Danny Boy” on YouTube it made perfect sense to me that they’d look great as Frank Quietly’s X-Men. Or, “Hey, wouldn’t it be rad if Wolverine fought Brock Samson!?” It’s visual fan-fiction really. One day I’d love to get the rights to both the “Big Trouble in Little China” franchise and the “Escape from New York” franchise and tell an epic tale of how Jack Burton eventually became Snake Pliskin.
O’Shea: Do you think doing bits like that have helped build your name recognition and made more folks aware of your other work?
Rahzzah: I don’t quite know yet. Any name recognition I have gotten is from that X-Muppets piece and that’s only a week or so ago. So it remains to be seen if anybody is going to know the artist and not just the art. While it’s brought alot more traffic thru my lil’ social networking sites, I don’t know if that will translate into people picking up Moon Girl or Dark Horse askin me to do a Firefly one-shot or somethin’.
O’Shea: Can you single out a favorite Moon Girl scene you’ve gotten to create so far?
Rahzzah: There’s a scene in issue #3 that takes place in Siberia that I liked doing. But my favourite scene is one I haven’t gotten to yet but that I already have shot in my mind for the last few pages of the series. If I can get it to come out close to what I have in my head, it should be pretty powerful.
O’Shea: Are you coloring yourself or who is your colorist?
Rahzzah: Colouring it myself, though one day I’d like a chance to work with someone who actually knows what they are doing.
O’Shea: Have you settled on a certain range of colors to help set the series tone?
Rahzzah: The three main colours in the series are red, green, and blue. Outside of that, my basic guidelines are that, since the book jumps around timelines frequently, everything taking place in 1955 is pretty vibrant; flashbacks, for the most part, are desaturated to different degrees and usually each one has a different predominant colour. But no matter what, Moon Girl’s hair is always that firery red regardless of whether it’s “now” or in a flashback. Her eyes are always a rich green. Satana’s eyes are always that cold blue–even in black and white those three colours will always be there.