From the TCJ Archives

Alchemy, Comics, and Ron Regé, Jr


REGÉ: A lot of the elements and a lot of things like that, I guess it’s just random that it came out that way. I started drawing that way so I could get through it. The only way I could have finished a 300-page book was if I could draw it quickly. I simplified my style, and a lot of it has to do with John Porcellino. As soon as I saw John’s stuff, I thought, “That’s the direction I need to head in.”

NADEL: When was that?

REGÉ: It was after I did The Dum Dum Posse that I discovered Porcellino’s stuff. The very first time I saw Porcellino, Wow Cool had this poster catalog with little square-inch visuals. I saw the little head and thought “What is this little dude? It looks like the way I draw.” Then I got King-Cat, and I thought, “This guy draws a lot like me, but simpler.” Then I read it and thought it was amazing: “I don’t want to draw exactly like this guy … but look, he’s got 40 issues!” I felt that the process of doing comics was so difficult to get through, and I wanted to make more comics. I had all these ideas built up. I am still frustrated by how long it takes to get them out. Sometimes I wish I could just sit down with a tape recorder and be like: “This is the comic! Blah blah blah blah!” And then move on to the next one. So I developed that style and decided to do it —

NADEL: Wait, backing up a second. What is so amazing to you about somebody like Porcellino? What strikes such a chord?

REGÉ: King-Cat’s amazing because it seems right, and it seems that Porcellino’s doing what he wants to do honestly. His book isn’t black and white because he’s lazy. If he wanted it to have color, he could. Maybe it’s a poetic kind of thing. The way that John draws and what he’s writing about and the way that he writes, it all works together cohesively. Which is something that I always look for in an artist. I love the way John does journalistic comics about his own life, but you still don’t know anything about him. That’s kind of a change after reading Chester Brown and Joe Matt, and even Crumb. People doing their stuff that was “Here’s all about me! Everything!” Seeing John’s stuff, I thought “No, this is more like, ‘here’s some things about me.’” I saw that comics could be done in a completely different way. It was nice.

NADEL: Well, that’s the thing about Yeast Hoist and your “autobiographical stuff”: the reader never actually knows you. That’s what’s interesting to me about putting your age and where you were in the comics, because it’s the only direct “I am Ron!” kind of moment in them. Otherwise, I know that it’s probably you: You’re making toast, you’re waiting for your girlfriend to come home or you’re in the shower. I sense that it’s you but because they’re fairly mundane tasks, there’s a distinct remove. Was that a choice?

REGÉ: I guess it was. I feel like I don’t always want to lay it all out and I didn’t want to do it really straightforwardly. There’s no reason that I have to. I guess what I’ve always been doing is trying to do autobiography by somehow skirting around it. Fictionalizing stuff, not telling you everything or putting stuff in there that didn’t necessarily happen. You don’t know. I don’t know.

NADEL: I don’t know. [Laughter.] Or putting yourself in a mask, like “Dini-Tear” in EXPO 2000 and the Drawn and Quarterly story.

REGÉ: That was just a character I was using at the time. A lot of stuff with that guy — the stuff in Drawn and Quarterly is completely fictional. I made that up. Whereas “Dini-Tear” is something that actually happened. Yeah, I thought, “I’m using this guy for myself,” like a stand-in.