Ken Garing is the creative mind behind Image Comics‘ PLANETOID series. Two issues in we’ve gotten two fantastic books jam packed with great art and a great story. For a project like this one might expect at least three people to be working directly on the content of it; to my surprise Ken Garing does much of the heavy lifting solo…
RCB: How does it feel to finally have this book out to the public, especially through a creator focused company like Image?
Ken Garing: I’ve been drawing comics since I was a kid but never had any work published until this year. I just recently turned 30, so that’s a long time to just create work that nobody sees. It’s really interesting to see all the different interpretations people have. So yeah, I’m really happy to have my comics out there and grateful to Image for being so supportive and giving me this opportunity. I’ve been a fan of Image since the company’s founding. I was one of those kids who saw all my favorite marvel artists doing their own work at Image and starting reading their books because of it. I stopped looking for Erik Larsen’s name on Spider-Man and starting picking up Savage Dragon instead. For me, getting published by Image is literally the realization of a life goal.
RCB: What inspired you to create a story like this one?
KG: I had a basic “guy crashes on a mysterious planet” idea for a long time. It’s been done a million times, but it’s such a great premise and you can go anywhere you want with it. In my case I have certain ideas I want to explore in a science-fiction context and that premise fit my needs so I used it.
Planetoid really began to take shape a few years back while I was reading the first Dune trilogy. I liked the idea of there being this epic political space opera in the background while the story focuses on a few characters trying to survive in the desert. I’m also interested in politics and was reading a lot about Neoliberalism and the decline of manufacturing. The basic idea behind Planetoid is a combination of these two things.
RCB: There’s not a whole lot of credits for this series, is there anything that you don’t do?
KG: Drew Gill is the Art Director at Image and he has been extremely helpful. There’s a lot of technical stuff that I had to learn, especially for the lettering and coloring. He was really patient in going over everything with me so that we could have the best possible production on the book. He also designed the logo and the inside covers which are really well done. All that stuff is really important to me and Drew does an awesome job. But yes, I do all the artwork, writing and lettering and it’s a tremendous amount of work.
RCB: Was it simply a matter of wanting to have control over all aspects of your vision that lead to you to deciding to take the responsibilities of Writer, Artist, Colorist, Letterer, etc, or something else?
KG: I definitely like having total control, but it’s also out of necessity. I simply don’t have the resources to bring anyone else on board. I also wanted to try to do an indie book with production that rivals Marvel or DC. One of the great things about comics is that all you really need is a pen and paper and you can create anything you want. Sin City is a good example. It was a black and white book done by one guy but it rivaled anything else on the stands at the time. Planetoid is absolutely an indie book but I don’t want that to be an excuse for lackluster artwork or other shortcomings. That’s my intention at least… whether or not I succeed in doing this is another matter. Unfortunately lateness has become an issue, much to my dismay.
RCB: The art on this book blows me away and the pages where you let your art speak for itself and tell the story really connects with me and adds to the overall feel of this book and the fact that, at least for the first two issues, Silas (the main character) is pretty much alone. Was that the intention.
KG: Yeah, the fact that the story starts with Silas being isolated and alone is really important. He has no connection to people. I wanted to try and describe the character visually through his actions instead of overt narration. I think people often put too much emphasis on plot. Obviously the basic story is important but you can do a lot of little subtle things outside of the surface narrative to inform the reader about the character and develop themes.
RCB: The writing for this series has been great, but I really feel that the art takes this book over the top. Who are your main artistic influences?
KG: Tons of stuff, but Richard Corben, Moebius and Katsuhiro Otomo are the big three. When I first started planning Planetoid a couple of years back, I was also looking at a lot of Sean Murphy and Tsutomu Nihei. Of course they’re both much younger than the artists previously mentioned but both of them sort of just go for it and create comics with authority. I somehow gained confidence by looking at their work.
RCB: I hope to see a long run with this series, but there was an announcement at Comic-Con about another project you’re working on. Can you give any more information about that?
KG: For now Planetoid will just be this initial five part mini-series, but I have very detailed plans for future Planetoid stories. For Intergalactic, Joe Keatinge contacted me and asked if I was interested in working with him. I have a lot more my own creator owned projects in mind, but working with Joe was an opportunity I didn’t want to pass on. Especially given the “hard” science-fiction subject matter in Intergalactic. Also, I was really intrigued by the business model that Chris Roberson has mapped out. It’s really flexible and will allow me to work on other projects.
RCB: I guess you can say this question is becoming somewhat of a signature, but while you’re creating—either writing for drawing—what do you like to listen to?
KG: I listen to BBC radio during the day and ambient electronic music at night. I must have listened to Aphex Twin’s Ambient Works album thousands of times by now. Sometimes I listen to Miles Davis …I also like this guy, Tim Hecker. I prefer music without lyrics.
RCB: You mentioned lateness becoming an issue. Care to elaborate on that?
KG: I’m not happy about it, but yeah, Planetoid #3 will ship on August 22, which is 2 weeks later than scheduled. The reasons have to do with some production issues that I had not anticipated early on. With comics you have to establish the release date far in advance. Unfortunately, I underestimated the time I would need to get my files ready. It’s pretty technical stuff… I wrote a more in-depth blog post about it (at kengaring.blogspot.com) for those that are interested. The whole thing is entirely my fault. I apologize to the readers, retailers and Image comics, all of whom have been very supportive. This is all one giant learning experience for me and I think I’ve figured out to prevent this from happening with future projects.
Big thanks to Mr. Ken Garing for doing this. I don’t know about you guys, but I look forward to a lot more Planetoid goodness and a lot more great stuff from him in the future.