From the TCJ Archives

Alchemy, Comics, and Ron Regé, Jr


NADEL: Going back to Skibber. They sacrifice themselves. But what leads up to that, that drives the story to that point?

REGÉ: My take on it is that the mice are disgusted with the outside world, with modern society or, in this case, humans, because people are people, and they’re obviously a different species. So they’re completely disgusted with it and they don’t want to live anymore.

NADEL: After the chain of events when she goes to party –

REGÉ: Yeah, because you know they live off in this fantasy world that’s … maybe it’s a reflection of underground culture, or people that I know. I know so many people that are so frustrated with the real world. They want to completely drop out. But they don’t. So maybe that’s what their world reflected.

NADEL: But, why that sort of thing? Why have them actually sacrifice themselves like that? Why didn’t they just say, slit their wrists? Because it ties into the Lik Liks mythology? How do those things link up?

REGÉ: I figured I could make this whole life cycle thing. It was a way of linking it all together. In the end, there’s this creature that’s created that’s a Lik Lik, an elephant and mouse. I just figured I could make this kind of weird life cycle thing, and not fully explain it or actually completely figure it out. I’ve had big ideas of going and maybe doing a Lik Lik—

NADEL: A Lik Lik spin-off series! [Nadel laughs.]

REGÉ: Yeah, or a book that’s just those little dudes. I’d have to make a whole different little universe. It would probably come out looking like Mat Brinkman or Marc Bell, though. Maybe that’s why I haven’t done it.

NADEL: And the second ending with elephant and the lighthouse …

REGÉ: I’ve always really liked the ocean. I was out on boats a lot when I was a kid. When I think of ways to die, I think, “Dying at sea … Kinda cool.”

NADEL: Right … [Regé laughs.] But in the context of the narrative: the Lik Liks link up with the mice on page 248. How does it function as a second ending? Why even do it? Just to have the result of what happens to the elephant?

REGÉ: I guess so. But I had already thought it out. Even when I was only halfway through it, I knew they were all going to die.

NADEL: At various points they all dream of each other.

REGÉ: Yeah! That’s a way of linking it up and making the whole book refer to itself.

NADEL: Again, they’re searching for each other but never really connect.

REGÉ: A lot of Skibber was also stream of consciousness. I was just like, “I’m doing this! I’m doing this!” And then I didn’t go back and —

NADEL: Except it couldn’t have been that stream of conscious because we have this script that you wrote. [Laughter.]

REGÉ: I mean the story. All this writing came from notebooks, with the stories all separate. This script was just for organization, and figuring out signatures, and how long it was going to be.


NADEL: Let’s talk about the script actually.

REGÉ: That I made a script.

NADEL: Yeah, and that it is so matter-of-fact. “When bugs are flying with the rocket and it’s dripping.” That it was so descriptive. In other words, I read this and I got some extra insight into the book but mostly it was that you’re really just describing each panel.

REGÉ: That’s how I do my comics. That’s the process for me. I write it out. Somehow if it’s something that’s vague, I’ll write it out more vaguely. Like it’ll just be a paragraph. I’ll have to go through and cut it into panels and be like, “This is a four-page story,” and stuff like that. That has a lot to do with the fact that I can only pretty much do stuff symmetrically.

NADEL: What do you mean by symmetrically?

REGÉ: I don’t understand artists that have a big panel and then three little panels, then four big panels. I don’t know how the hell you’re figuring out how long your story’s going to be when you do that. That’s why I’m like, “I can break this into nine sentences, so this is a nine-panel story.”

NADEL: Nine sentences, nine panels. Each sentence is a descriptive sentence, and it equals a panel.

REGÉ: So this will be three panels on a page, you know. I’m trying to force myself to try and not do that anymore.

NADEL: You’re thinking visually and putting it down verbally?

REGÉ: Yeah.

NADEL: That’s just a funny thing because conversely you could sketch it out and then write. But why this instead of that?

REGÉ: Because I guess that’s how I think it up. It’s more like I’m writing a play.

NADEL: Maybe you think it up verbally then.

REGÉ: Oh, I definitely think it up verbally. Like half verbally, but I know that it might be something really subtle that I’m going to draw though. Like, “She’s looking through the dust that settled.” Or something like that. I feel like I can write that, but if I try and doodle it, I won’t understand later what I meant. I might not have time.

NADEL: The concreteness of writing it allows you to maybe burrow deeper into the drawing?

REGÉ: It’s mostly so I can remember. I can see the panel in my head, but I’m not going to get to draw it for six months. If I doodle it, it’s not going to make any sense. I’ll write it down verbally so I can read it and it’ll remind me of what I was thinking.

NADEL: The script is so frank: “She’s got a terrified look on her face.”

REGÉ: Right, and see, that’s a perfect example. “She’s got a terrified look on her face.” If I drew that, I’d see it later, and wonder “What is this? What does this mean?”

NADEL: “She touches her back, notices little spots of blood coming through shirt.” So, you sent this script out to Tom [Devlin] …

REGÉ: I think Tom, P. Shaw and two or three other people.

NADEL: And Tom responded. Was Tom the only person who responded?

REGÉ: I think Tom was the only one who responded. He really didn’t have that much to say about it. P. Shaw didn’t finish it. He was like, “I didn’t read that thing!” Most people didn’t. I think a couple people were like, “What the hell? Why are you giving this to me?”

NADEL: Right, right. Why did you send them out? And this was before you were doing the minis, right?

REGÉ: Well, I had done the first two of them — eventually there were four. The other two are just ashcans of chapters. I was the first person Tom was going to publish a book by, but by SPX 1999 James [Kochalka] had two of his books out. Cave-In was out. All of these other books had come out and I was still working on this thing. People knew that I was working with Highwater, and people were like, “What the hell are you doing? You haven’t done stuff in years.” I’d say, “I’m working on something!” [Nadel laughs.] “No, you can’t see it!” So, that’s why I just Xeroxed a couple more little chapters.