Wondercon 2015: Spotlight on Rick Remender

by Toni Adams, SGLS Team Writer 

The legions of pop culture enthusiasts had descended upon Anahaim during Easter weekend, including this writer here. There were the usual Hollywood goodies such as WB “Flash” and “iZombie” but my  focus was making it to one panel. That was the panel that highlighted comic writer/creator Rick Remender.

Remender is a creator that has landed in my comic reviewing path on fangirlnation.com and has stayed stubbornly put. Of all the comics, I greedily hoard and consume any science-fiction based series I can get my grabby hands on. Had I know that the Black Science comic series would warp my mind in so many layers of confusion and intrigue…..eh…who am I kidding…I would have still jumped right in.

Anyone who has taken a science course (which is everyone) is familiar with all the different rules and theories that try to make the unknown somewhat known. A system that was completely disregarded by Grant McKay. After toiling away at an invention that can rip though dimensions, this depressed, egotistical scientist prepares to enjoy his success. His disregard for the ethics and foundations of science soon places McKay, his own children, his wife, his mistress, and colleagues right into danger. The group is torn through the dimensions, described as the “onion”, fighting for their lives and a way to return home.  They each not only fight aggressive and hostile creatures, they also come face to face with their own inner horrors.

blackscience01_coverABlack Science is definitely a comic work that challenges the minds and imaginations of science fiction fans. By using time and dimension travel, Remender gleefully tears not only the characters but also the readers through labyrinths of amazing worlds, creatures, fears, horror, and suspense. Each issue ultimately leaves your mind spent and stretched and eager anticipation for the next issue. The artwork by Matteo Scalera is eerie, beautiful, and equally reflects the chaos that Remender has wrought upon our minds.

Eleven issues later, I have become a devout Remender fan. So knowing that he was going to be at Wondercon, I scheduled everything around attending his panel. Now, for those unfamiliar with attending a comic convention, it is more than just the amazing creative displays of cosplay (in which I also happened to have participated). There are panels scheduled throughout the weekend where conversations, discussions, Q&As, and special events are happening between creators and fans. The panels are the heart of the convention since new talent can be discovered or adoration can be reaffirmed.

Meeting a creator at a panel for the first time can go three ways: 1. They are absolutely boring and you walk away disappointed. 2 They can incite extreme dislike and you drop their work off your radar or of course 3. They are so amazingly awesome that you are a fan for life.

Remender’s panel went the third way. In a crowded room above the busy exhibit hall, Remender just strolls onto the podium, sits down, laughs, tells us he’s got nothing and asks us what do we want to talk about. After five seconds, the audience starts launching into questions and so begins an hour of a really amazing panel.

I was too engrossed to write notes so all I can mention is what stuck firmly in my mind:

* In answer to how he got his start, he mentioned being around 20 years old and getting a call from the Don Bluth studios to work on Anastasia. He was young and very excited but quickly realized how unfulfilling doing animation work was. He spent most of time writing and drawing. He created absurd characters such as one that had a (sexual) affinity for bread!

* During a time when most female characters were overly sexualized and ridiculous, Remender sought to create a female character that was just a unique character. He created the series, Strange Girl. Bethany Black has been left behind on earth during the Rapture and she seeks the answer to why. And so now I’ve added another series on my “to collect” list.

* Remender also mentioned how science fiction had been a really hard genre to write for years ago. Now it’s the golden age of SF and his works years ago are coming to the surface. Not only has Strange Girl garnered recent increase in sales but so has Fear Agent b(a pulp-influenced action/horror/adventure comic series).

* He has worked and quit at many major media outlets. His current collaboration at Image comics has been a great fit. Image comics (which has published many fan favorites such as Saga and Birthright), has a strong creator-owned principle. It has left creators like Remender free to create and own the rights to their works.

* He also gave a lot of credit to the artists that work on his projects. Not only did he give a lot of credit but also admiration and respect. He brought up a really interesting perspective that I had not thought of involving the relationship between a writer and an artist. An artist is devoting an entire day of their lives to draw this one portion of your work. A lot of time, effort, and energy is spent on it. It is up to the writer to give the artist everything in terms of content and direction. That kind of solid collaboration shows in the Black Science series. The art, the lettering, the writing work seamlessly together to bring this crazy science fiction story together.

Low_01-1* Low is another work from Remender that I am following. Humankind has sought refuge from a dying sun in the deep ocean. They are rapidly losing air and have begun to lose hope of survival. The only ray of hope stems from a family with abilities and talents that may save them all. Then tragedy rips the family apart leaving the optimistic mother, Stel trying to keep her spirits up as her son Marik  suffers along with the rest of humanity in despair. As I suspected, Low was injected with Remender’s personal struggle with depression and how it affected those around him. Just like Black Science, I really admire how he uses settings as a story telling device to express the overall tone. Plus the art by Greg Tocchini is just plan gorgeous!

* I eventually did get to ask my own blunt questions: “My friends and I were introduced to you with Black Science. We’ve enjoyed the confusing but addictive series. What the heck is going on with Black Science?!” Expecting him to laugh it off or give a vague answer, I was given a surprise. An actual honest answer that did connect what the heck was going on in the series. The idea that when we were young we were anarchists and rules meant nothing. As we get older we see how false that idea was. Everything we do affects the people we care about even people we don’t even know. Black Science parallels this idea with this  scientist who breaks every single rule and places the people central to his life and millions of other unknowing sentient societies in danger for his cocky ambitions.

He didn’t make me feel like a fool for asking or not understanding his “view”. I truly appreciated that. I appreciated the way he answered everyone’s questions. Remender is a professional creator and understood what it meant to give us his attention. That for this one hour, his fans were giving up time to see amazing cosplay or cool things at the exhibit hall just to listen to this one guy and he reciprocated that feeling

IGN did a really great lst of essential works by Rick Remender that should be checked out. If you’re curious to know what else Remender has done, check this out:Fear Agent, Strange Girl, Black Heart Billy, XXXombies, Sorrow, Last Days of American Crime,Deadly Class .He has also contributed to the Marvel universe by adding his take onUncanny Avengers, Captain America, Uncanny X-Force, Secret Avengers, Punisher, Doctor Voodoo and Venom. And bonus points for working on my favorite animated movies: Anastasia and Titan A.E.!

As you can probably guess at this point, I highly recommend checking out either Low or Black Science. Especially if you’re looking to expand your comic book universe that is not Marvel or DC based. Nothing wrong with Marvel or DC, there is just so much more out there to enjoy!

Any of these comics can be found at your local comic book retailer. If you haven’t stepped into one, I highly encourage doing so! Comic book stores are different with many different vibes going around. Once you find the one that fits, prepare to be immersed in amazing comics and events!

Low and Black Science are available from Image comics.

(Low and Black Science were reviewed on Fangirlnation.com. The materials were given for review purposes through that route)

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