JASON LATOUR On Tying Up LOOSE ENDS With BRUNNER & RENZI at IMAGE

Image Comics February 2017 cover
Credit: Chris Brunner/Rico Renzi (Image Comics)
Credit: Chris Brunner/Rico Renzi (Image Comics/12 Gauge)

There’s the expression of you can never go home again, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for Jason Latour, Chris Brunner, and Rico Renzi as they’re bringing back and giving a proper ending to their unfinished creator-owned series Loose Ends, under the Image Comics umbrella this time around.

Scheduled to debut January 25, Loose Ends tells the story of Sonny Gibson who gets in way over his head with Southern crime lords as well as the law on a night he simply wanted to get away from it all. Originally published by 12 Gauge Studios almost ten years ago, Loose Ends is repackaged and ready to be completed this time around.

Newsarama caught up with Latour as he told the story of how Loose Ends came to be and looking back at one of his first projects and what it feels like to finally closing this chapter.

Credit: Chris Brunner/Rico Renzi (Image Comics/12 Gauge)

Newsarama: Jason, first off, how does it feel to be finally tying up Loose Ends?

Jason Latour: That’s a tricky one. It’s just such a different world today than it was when we started. Personally, professionally... hell, in nearly every way imaginable.

For people who don't know - Loose Ends is creator-owned comic that originally started coming together in 2007, back when the market was less diverse, maybe less eager, especially for the world of three creators still building our careers. Couple that  with this being a really just maddeningly ambitious project, and it was a really steep uphill climb. Luckily the doors did finally open - and here we are ten years later with Image as our publisher. Which is just tremendous.

Credit: Chris Brunner/Rico Renzi (Image Comics/12 Gauge)

But, yeah. It’s surreal. Like cracking open a yearbook. It's just this interesting time capsule of both our careers and that little moment in time which it was made. What I mean is - yes It’s a gritty crime comic, but it really is also a meditation on what it was like to come of age in an era where the war in the Middle East was raging, almost no one had ever heard of Barack Obama, and Trump was just a dumb show TV host.

So as far removed from that as it sometimes feels, there’s always a reminder that we haven’t even begun to reconcile it. It’s a continuum. Nothing’s ever really done or over. Past is prologue. I guess comics careers are like that too in their way.

Nrama: Image has this being called a "series premiere," so is it a continuation of the older series from 12 Gauge or something completely new in this world?

Credit: Chris Brunner/Rico Renzi (Image Comics/12 Gauge)

Latour: Luckily, I think it all still reads pretty fresh. I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s pretty prescient in places. It’s like a brand new comic. So we felt like it was best to present it that way. We’re reprinting the existing material - which is three of the four issues, along with that long missing last chapter. Re-packaging it all in beautiful new covers.

It’s a bit like when a musician puts out the stuff they had in the vault. Re-issuing the work they were making when they still had the dream of getting there. But for whatever reason there was simply no means to deliver it to that audience when it was made. And now, thankfully, there is.

Nrama: Since starting the original Loose Ends almost a decade ago, how do you feel like you've grown as a creator?

Credit: Chris Brunner/Rico Renzi (Image Comics/12 Gauge)

Latour: Well, when you’re starting out, everything you do, even the stuff you get right, is a reaction to what someone else did or told you, or a theory you haven’t put into practice yet.  No matter how many pages you’ve done for yourself, there’s just a staggering amount you don’t know about putting work into the world. And facing all of that can be a serious trial by dumpster fire.

I’m just calmer in the pocket now. I can see the blitz coming. I don’t know if that makes me better or worse. But I do know more about what I’m facing and I’ve made more of an uneasy peace with it.

Nrama: Look at these characters now, did you see Sonny or Cheri any differently from when you first created them? Were they same people to you as you went over these issues this time around?

Latour: Well, I tried to make a truce with these characters and this story as I was doing it. It’s a lot of what even setting out to even tell it was about for me.

But looking back, the world’s changed and I believe taught me a lot in the process. But I’m happy that some of this story is frozen, because it forces me to rethink my behavior and reckon with what lead here.

Credit: Chris Brunner/Rico Renzi (Image Comics/12 Gauge)

Nrama: Are you going to keep things in line with how you original planned them with issue 4 or did you change any aspect around this time?

Latour: There’s really only so much that can change. It’s all drawn, nearly colored. The only thing left is for me to hand letter it - and sure I’ll likely clean dialog and stuff up where I can. But I’d say it’s 95% staying the same. Comic books to me aren’t done till they’re in print.  You just don’t wanna tinker too much with the space time continuum, right?  Change the wrong bit of dialog and suddenly the Berenstein bears don’t exist anymore. In our comic Han will always still shoot first.

Nrama: You, Rico Renzi, and Chris Brunner have this dynamic that's been spread across a multitude of books. Do you find it more challenging to work with your friends on a professional level than it would be people who were assigned to artistic duties?

Latour: It’s very rewarding to do stuff with your friends. But it’s very much an investment. Some working relationships do need a impersonal buffer, that says  “hey -  this is the last word.”  Without that third party or that distance, everyone is exposed. And that brings out a lot of things about you as a person that you have to face. Things that are bigger and trickier than how well you write or draw or color.

But I think it’s good to remember that at the end that no one has to be there. You’re all there to create something that wouldn't exist without all of you.The work we do together is always challenging. But even when it’s hard as hell, I’m incredibly lucky to have these dudes there to help me try to rise to it.

Credit: Chris Brunner/Rico Renzi (Image Comics)

Nrama: You recently tweeted out about how as a writer, finding the right artist is like "finding out you can lift Thor's hammer." Do you feel like Rico and Chris are the perfect artists for Loose Ends? Could you have seen yourself doing this with anybody else?

Latour: It would’ve been impossible. Chris was my roommate for the better part of four years while we were working on the bulk of this. So I got to see him painstakingly carve magic out of stone. It's the damned virtuoso performance of some kinda alien art wizard, sure - but he really worked for it.

The same goes for Rico. That guy our drummer. Our offensive line. Folks really underrate how creative and skilled and flexible you have to be to stay consistent when you’re doing his job. He’s the steady beat to all this stuff.

Nrama: Do you see yourself as a "southern" writer to any extent?

Latour: Yes, I very much see myself as a Southern writer. But I think what that means to me has taken a long time to take any sort of shape I vaguely understand.

The fact is I’m as present in this modern world as just about anyone - and I’m also connected to a culture that is often seen as antiquated, to put it nicely. So I try to be aware and honest about that when and where I can. I’m not going to pretend like I’m William Faulkner. I post stupid videos of myself swimming in Werther’s Originals candies online for God’s sake. But I’m not going to pretend like his world didn’t profoundly impact mine either.

In addition to Southern Bastards and Loose Ends I’m also telling stories that are science fiction, and  fantasy and comedy and whatever the hell else I can dream up. Hopefully with some success. And ultimately I want those diverse efforts to represent Southern culture too. I want to at least try to be the change I want to see, without letting any of us off the hook as Southerners, or allowing us to forget about the beauty and humanity that you can find under the really rare conditions down here.

Credit: Chris Brunner/Rico Renzi (Image Comics/12 Gauge)

Nrama: Okay, so with Loose Ends finally ending you have the aforementioned projects Black Cloud and Southern Bastards, one debuting and one continuing, how do you feel about your career these days? You've got your Eisner, Spider-Gwen is all over the place, so is there something else on your career bucket list that's yet to be checked off?

Latour: The honest truth is I feel committed. The world is a scary damn place most days, but I genuinely believe I’ve got this rare, lucky chance to speak and tell these stories and hopefully find ways to connect with people. That’s a real gift to me, man. A re-affirmation.

I hope to do this kind of work with this level of freedom and success and fun for the rest of my life. All ten thousand years of it. I’m determined to try and make that happen. Cause I have way too much to say and I’m really enjoying myself and trying to live through this work as much as humanly possible. I hope that shows. And I really thank y’all for putting up with me even when it doesn’t.

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