We are all familiar with the world of comic books, and we are often quick to drop the names Marvel and DC Comics – producers of The Avengers and Batman, producers of countless other tales of heroism, villains, otherworldly realms and science experiments gone wrong. These are the comic books I recall as a kid, the stories I now eagerly go to see played out on cinematic big screen. But when was the last time you came across a contemporary comic book? I just recently starting diving back into the comic book realm, and I have been pleasantly surprised to discover that it is teeming with original and quality content.
One particular comic book that I have had the pleasure of reading is James Rubino’s Tales from the Seventh Galaxy #5. This comic book is an excellent combination of sharp, witty story lines and captivating images. It offers a wide array of content, including political undercurrents and poetic voice, galaxy pinups and time-traveling moguls. Rubino creates miniature worlds between his pages, worlds that you cannot help but want to return to again and again.
Below is an interview I conducted with creator James Rubino, providing insight to his work as well as his relationship to comics. After reading Tales from the Seventh Galaxy #5 and talking with James, I highly encourage you all to give it a read. Take a dive into the realm of comic books; find your way through real world issues and outer space adventures; enjoy the sights – you won’t regret it.
What first drew you to comics? What compelled you to start making your own?
I’ve been creating my own comics since I was about nine or ten I guess. I was always a quiet, introspective child and found it difficult to express my true feelings. Comics and stories gave me the opportunity to share those feelings with others. I always preferred sitting home working on comics or reading interesting books to “hanging out” with people or, even more dreadfully, going to “parties.” I’m still that way– pretty much a recluse in my personal life.
What is the inspiration behind Tales from the Seventh Galaxy?
I’ve always loved science fiction and those type of fantasy stories that have an unexpected or surprise ending. The “Seventh Galaxy” is also meant to be a place where ultimate realities reside– and in these stories we catch perhaps a glimpse of them as “through a glass darkly.”
I noticed that some of your panels have pretty political undertones, such as abuse of power, social security, religion, and the control of knowledge. What influenced your decision to address such topics in your comics? Is there any one particular message you feel passionate about that you’re trying to circulate?
There really isn’t any specific message I’m trying to convey. These are things I think about a lot and so they find their way into my stories.
I like the idea of juxtaposing political or serious topics with the humor and vivid images found within the pages of Tales from the Seventh Galaxy. Do you think this has any effect on how readers absorb the story you’re trying to tell?
If food is too bland nobody wants to eat it. I have a great deal of fun creating comics and I want the reader to have fun too. The worse thing about a lot of modern comics is that the “creators” take themselves and what they’re doing way too seriously.
I love the poetry appearing within “The Surge.” What draws you to combining different genres?
I want to create a book that takes the reader through a variety of emotions. Some things are a diversion– just for fun while others are meant to be thought provoking or to share personal feelings that the reader can relate to.
What do you think makes a comic truly great?
I guess for most people today that would be having a big name “talent” associated with it. For me, it’s different. What makes any work of art “great,” be it a comic, TV show, movie, book, whatever– is the overall feeling it gave me… was it a truly enjoyable experience? And more importantly for me personally is– did it actually express something sincere, some deeper sentiments, something uplifting. But that’s rare– in any form of “art.”
What are your hopes in moving forward with Tales from the Seventh Galaxy? What would you like to achieve with the series?
I hope people will truly enjoy my comics and get something worthwhile out of them. I would like to see a lot more people discover them because a great deal of effort goes into creating them and I feel they deserve a wider audience.
Do you have another issue in the works?
I’m working on several projects at this time. There is another Tales from the Seventh Galaxy basically ready to go with a lot of interesting stories in it. But first I’m hoping to release King Cactor, a one-shot comic about a giant, walking cactus who causes a lot of grief to the human race. It’s beautifully illustrated by a gentleman named Thomas Ahearn who is just a fabulous artist. Hopefully that will come out this Fall.
What is your favorite comic, or comic that greatly influenced your own work?
There really wouldn’t be any one comic in particular– I just always liked the idea of comics be they comic strips in the newspaper or comic books. Comic books, particularly science fiction or fantasy comics, can take me away from this sordid world for a little while.
For more information about James Rubino and his work, please visit www.jamesrubino.com
About the interviewer — Allison Bohan is an associate editor at Gadfly Online. She is finishing up her fourth and final year as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia. Allison is an English major, coffee drinker, and avid nap taker.