Talking Comics with Tim | Dennis Culver on ‘Edison Rex’
Several weeks ago when I interviewed Edison Rex co-creator Chris Roberson, we had hoped to include co-creator Dennis Culver in the discussion. Schedules didn’t work out at the time, but happily, on the eve of the deadline to pre-order the Edison Rex trade paperback (Diamond Code APR130377), Culver’s schedule freed up for an interview about his co-creation.
As if collecting the Edison Rex issues 1-6 isn’t enough to interest you in this IDW Publishing release, Roberson and Culver have scored an introduction by the great Kurt Busiek. The collection will hit shelves June 12.
Tim O’Shea: How did the IDW publishing deal come together?
Dennis Culver: That was all [Monkeybrain Comics co-publishers] Chris [Roberson] and Allison [Baker]. From what I understand, IDW had expressed an interest in print collections fairly early in the Monkeybrain launch, and I was on board as soon as I heard. They gave us a fair deal and they put out great looking books. I’m very happy to publish Rex through them!
Will there be any extras in the trade collection? Are you making any tweaks to your art?
We have a few extra surprises lined up for the collection and while I did consider some tweaks, I decided to follow the Joe Kubert adage and “fix it on the next page” instead.
What was it about Roberson’s initial Edison Rex concept that made you want to join him in creating the series?
I’m not sure that’s the right question. It wasn’t the concept that made me want to co-create with Chris, it was Chris. I think chemistry with your collaborator is just as important as a good concept when making comics. It might even be MORE important. Chris and I like a lot of the same pop culture, which is great, but far more important to me is that Chris and I share a similar philosophy about comics storytelling and the industry as a whole. Chris never presented me with a bunch of high concepts or anything like that. We actually both had similar ideas for the character that became Edison Rex (although Chris had the better name), which I think speaks to our chemistry yet neither of us expected this comic to turn out like it did. It’s true collaboration.
In Issue 6 you got to draw a slew of alternate universe Edison Rex’s. Care to list your three favorite designs?
Oh, man, I could design Rexcorpsmen all day long. Regina Tesla and Platypus Rex are not only favorite designs but also favorite characters at this point. They both have a lot more stories to tell, I think. Also, the magic-based Edison Hex is a far cooler design than I originally intended for a background character. I’m sure he’ll turn up again at some point, too!
What were your objectives in designing the look for the Edison Rex universe?
My main goal is making characters distinct and recognizable. I think a lot about unique silhouettes and making sure everyone is easily readable in the story. Also we planned for the Rexcorps fairly early on so after the initial rush to get the first one out I put some extra time in to giving Rex a very recognizable face so when his dupes showed up it was easily understood as that.
Did you give colorist Stephen Downer certain guidelines for the color scheme for the series?
I always send sketches of characters with their base colors but I rarely ever have notes for Steve on color otherwise. That guy brings something to the table that I couldn’t do on my own. The art would not be the same without him.
I would love to learn your design thought process on M’Alizz and Cerebella.
We should save M’Alizz (pronounced “Malice”) for another time as some of my ideas about her design might spoil her origin a bit.
Cerebella on the other hand is a different story …
A couple years ago Scott Kowalchuk and I started an art Tumblr called Supervillain Showdown, where we redesigned old, cheesy villains. Cerebella’s design was my take on Dr Cyber. When Chris suggested that one of Rex’s assistants be a brain-in-a-jar type, this design was a NO-BRAINER.
Her overall silhouette is based on my friend Zoetica Ebb’s GHST RDR jacket design, which I exaggerated a bit and added some techno-organic/Tron-like surface detail. Zoe models a bit too, so a lot of Cerebella’s robot-like poses are inspired by her.
What is the biggest benefit to working in the digital platform?
Low overhead, which gives a creator time to find their audience. Hard to do that in print with single issues these days.
What am I failing to ask you about?
The horrible skeletons in Edison Rex’s closet but I couldn’t tell you that anyway. The best place to find THOSE answers is here.