From Bob Dylan to Al Williamson: Six questions with Ron Randall
Thirty-six questions. Six answers. One random number generator. Welcome to Robot Roulette, where creators roll the virtual dice and answer our questions about their lives, careers, interests and more.
Joining us today is Ron Randall, creator of Trekker and artist on such comics as Warlord, Arak, Son of Thunder, Doom Patrol, Justice League International, and many, many more.
Now let’s get to it …
3. If someone gave you $10,000 a week for life, no strings attached, what would you spend it on?
Nothing too glamorous, I’m afraid. First, I’d take care of a couple of material things that would make my wife and my family a bit more comfortable. Next, I’d use it to assure that I could work on my own comic project (see below) indefinitely. The rest I’d have to speak with an expert on how best to use it to support a couple of causes in a meaningful, sustained way. There’s a local food bank that could use a reliable, steady stream of cash, and a couple of organizations for cartoonists who have little or no resources, often even after devoting a whole career to the industry. As a community, we need to take care of them better.
10. Who is your favorite band/musical performer, and why are they your favorite?
Bob Dylan. If I said anyone else, my entire studio would rise up and shout me down. I guess you either “get” Dylan or you don’t. If you don’t like his voice, there’s not much you can do. Because, as brilliant as he is lyrically, his music, like all good music, is first about the sound. In his case, the voice is inescapably central to that. And if it does connect with you, it takes you to more places that are deeper, lasting and meaningful than anyone else in American popular music. He’s always “different”– his sound, style and voice change constantly. He’s not there to provide an audience with that they think they want. That eventually leads to repetition and blandness every time. He’s sending messages from wherever he is at the moment on his own quirky path. That’s what we need our artists to do. He just happens to be gifted enough to make it always a fascinating process. Plus, for the last dozen years or so he’s been riding high, playing with some of the best bands he’s ever put together and putting out some of the strongest records of his career. Something you don’t say about many musicians who’ve been at it as long as he has.
12. What comic (or graphic novel, webcomic, etc.) was your “gateway drug” and made you a comic fan?
Oh that goes back pretty far. I had comic around as long as I can remember. Mighty Mouse comics, Classics Illustrated. (I remember when, as a very little kid, I heard there was a MAN who was as strong as Mighty Mouse. That’s how I first heard of Superman. For the record, Mighty Mouse would win in a fight. Because he has HYPNOTIC VISION. Take that, Supes!)
The comic that really nailed my fate and showed me what I wanted to do with the rest of my life was Gold Key’s Flash Gordon, by Al Williamson. I had never seen a world so fully brought to life. It was gorgeous, “romantic.” That’s when I knew I wanted to do this myself– build worlds and characters and stories and share them in my own “voice.”
16. What’s the best part of being a creator?
See above! Getting lost in the process of creating a world. Secondarily, it’s getting to share that and feel you are making a connection with a reader. But the first, primal impulse is to create something essentially for yourself. That passion is the only thing that will sustain you over the long run, and keep your work your own.
20. What’s the scariest movie you’ve ever seen?
Bambi. Or Alien. Kind of a toss-up. That forest fire scene in Bambi is pretty terrifying when seen at a young age. And Alien– well, some directors know that suspense is much, much scarier that gory and splatter.
27. What are you most proud of so far in your comics career?
My work on Trekker is far and away the most gratifying. I’ve done a lot of work I really enjoyed, but with Trekker I get to create my own world and share it with no compromises. Getting back to the character after a lot of years away is absolutely the richest experience of my career. And hearing from fans that they really like the character, and find her compelling and believable is probably the proudest aspect of that.