My name is Amanda Rachels, and I like broken things. Some of you may know me from my artistic pursuits, among them the comics Clown Town, Flesh of White (both from Inverse Press) and The Book (Arcana Studios), and maybe those are dead giveaways to my obsession with that which is broken, particularly in the form of villainy in literature. From an early age, I loved the bad guys in my pop culture – Cobra Commander from G.I. Joe, the Joker and Mr. Freeze from Batman: The Animated Series. No, I am not a Cobra sympathizer, nor a burgeoning anarchist, but I always appreciated those stories revealing of the complexities and sympathetic sides of these assumed evil-doers, the ones that made them more relateable and human.
When we learn the tragedy of Victor Fries’ wife on those perfect, early episodes of the old Batman cartoon…when Cobra Commander was ousted by Cobra-La and transmorphed into an actual snake, reduced to sub-humanity in G.I. Joe: The Movie…when the Joker’s wife tells him in flashback in The Killing Joke, “You always know how to make me laugh,” and we see him experience this warm memory in total emptiness in the present…I understood. Or, at least, I felt like I understood those epic personalities and their flaws and could relate in my own little way. Their evil deeds did not draw me, but their peccadilloes of persona did.
Naturally, it’s unavoidable that this fascination should influence my own creations. Villains have the juiciest origins, unbound from the conventional rules, and I hope the ones that spring from my mind and my stylus are no different. The killer clowns of Clown Town are simultaneously horrifying (to most) and heroic (in the full-on anti- sense…), but they and their motivations flourish in complexity as the plot by Kevin LaPorte develops. They are at various times disgusting, hilarious and sympathetic as they go about their mission of avenging the abuse of children, and I tried vigorously to capture those impressions in their posture and expressions and interactions.
In my current project, Flesh of White, written by Erica J. Heflin, the primary villain is a predatory witch doctor named Tuponile, a particularly reprehensible fellow for whom I find sympathy slow to come. As a butcher of people, I love to hate him, but love even more to draw him and those gnarly fingers and jagged nails. I have a feeling Tuponile and I will connect more on an emotional level as Erica reveals more of his back-story. His savage harvester of bodies, Majuto, however, is most definitely the type of villain with whom I empathically bond – a man of much accomplishment but even greater loss, and desperate to reclaim that which harsh fate has taken. Majuto is a worthy contrast to Tuponile, even as the former deepens in emotional gravitas throughout the narrative as the latter thus far flat-lines at E-V-I-L.
I hope this bit of insight helps shine a little more light on the motivations underlying my art and the kinds of stories I like to illustrate. I like broken things, and there are plenty of those to be found in my comic collaborations.
Currently, Flesh of White #2 is funding on Kickstarter.com, and you can check it out and help us publish it by backing the project here: http://www.kickstarter.com/
Clown Town, the full 124-page graphic novel, launches via digital comics giant, comiXology, THIS WEDNESDAY, May 15th!