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Labor Intensive: Rick Lacy

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Oni recently released Labor Days, a graphic novel about a lowlife whose pointless daily routine is shook up when he stumbles upon a mysterious videotape.

BF talks to the creative team of the book. On Monday, we labored with writer Philip Gelatt, today speak with artist Rick Lacy.

BROKEN FRONTIER: You have a rather unique style. What tools do you use?

RICK LACY: Thanks for noticing my style.  I've heard that before from people and I try to maintain a different quality in my art.  I don't wanna look like another rung on someone else's style bar.  I normally start with a hammer and chisel and go to town on a giant rock. Once that bad boy is ground into a fine powder, I slap some on my hands and get to work on my art.  Labor Days was a huge learning experience for me as far as comic crafting.  I come from an animation background and have been working in that for the last ten years.  I did a few "adventure" comics at Dark Horse, but I didn't find my stride until Labor Days. 

I use the basic ingredients that other comic artists use, but I'm still experimenting.  I use all kinds of brushes right now and haven't found a favorite.  I'm heavy handed and very sketchy at times, so the expensive Sable brushes wear out fast and so does my wallet.  For Labor days I mostly used a Raphael #2 with a square head.  I liked the line quality I got from that.  I also dabbled in washes with the book for the first time.  That was messy!  I was very happy with the way the brawling sequence in the rain came out, but I tried a more subtle approach in other areas of the book and was less than pleased.  Like I said before, this book taught me a lot so I can promise you that Labor Days Volume 2 will be even better!

BF: What kind of research did you do for the London setting?

RL: When we first started the contracted work of the book Phil and I were going to fly out to London to get the lay of the land.  Mostly for me though, as Phil has been before.  But that trip got waylaid due to time constraints and schedules. 

So, I hit the internets square in the jaw!  I have folders full of images I gathered.  I also asked my friends who have been there for any insight they had and Phil had his English buddies read over the script for any "un-Londonish" boo-boos.  I hope I nailed it.  I tossed in some monuments and referenced specific streets and buildings.

BF: Did you base the look of the characters on anyone you knew?

RL: Hell yeah I did.  The Face of History, Labor Days' local antagonist, is straight up Phil Gelatt.  Rick Stryker, who shares my first name, is mostly my embodied mannerisms and attitude, with a touch of my appearance when I had shorter hair.  Though much more muscular.  Victoria actually shares her first name with Phil's girlfriend, but that's a super coincidence.  The two are quite different in most respects.  And Bags's ex-girlfriend's likeness is based off an old friend of mine. 

Bags himself just evolved.  The book used to be so much more cartoonier and Bags was a bit more clean cut.  Eventually he became the shaggy, mop top you see in the comic.  Antonio and Leon are also the actual historical figures from the Marxist community, who are long dead, but we said "bah!" to that little part of reality.

BF: How supportive has Oni Press been of Labor Days?

RL: They've been great!  James, Joe, Cory, Jill, Randy, Doug, and Kieth!  I've never worked with a better bunch of people.  They love comics and just want to put out good work. 

I would get busy with other work and our schedule on Labor Days would suffer, or my constant over-energized antics would delve into the realm of the impossible, or my endless barrage of questions and those guys took it all in strides.  They really worked for us to produce the best book from the partnership and I can't thank them enough.

BF: Was the collaboration between you and Phillip a natural one?

RL: Completely natural and exotically comfortable!  I've known Phil since college (though I went to SVA and he to NYU, we met through a mutual friend) and we came up with the story one bored evening at his apartment.  There were so many weird things in that first brainstorming session!  Like dragons and undead rock bands. 

We've been working on Labor Days for about 4 years before Oni picked it up.  Its been our baby for a long time and we took it to all corners of imagination before it was carved into the book it is today.  We have a like mind for the fantastic, Phil and I, so it was easy to bounce ideas off each other.  Labor Days isn't the only concept we have cooking.  So many things are on the back burner!  I look forward to creating original material with Phil again.  Until then, enjoy Labor Days and its succulent fruit offerings!

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