Imagine you’re a courier of important and exotic goods. I’m not talking rare animals here, I’m talking top secret merchandise, illegal goods, and generally things the public wouldn’t know about unless WikiLeaks told you. You’ve been hired to deliver a package from Boston to Miami – 1500 miles down the Atlantic Coast – and the only thing standing in your way is the government, private mercenaries and some street gangs. A fast car can help, but you might need something more. It might help that you’re a direct descendant of Paul Revere.
That’s the story in the comic book series R.P.M., which launched as a four-issue series in November. R.P.M. comes from the mind of popular pro wrestler – and frequent comic convention guest – Mic Foley and his writing partner Shane Riches. In a Newsarama interview earlier in the year with Foley, he expressed a long-time desire to write comics – going all the way back to a visit to John Buscema’s house as a child. With R.P.M. #1 on the stands and two in the wings, we turned to co-writer Shane Riches and artist Jose Holder to find out more about this fast-paced series.
Newsarama: How did the ideas that became R.P.M. develop between you and Mick, Shane?
Shane Riches: We batted around several concepts that would appeal to fans of Mick’s hardcore reputation and unique sense of a humor. Ultimately we pursued a story with a lead, Revere Windsor, who is a courier for hire. Mick’s a huge history buff and we both love Boston so we made him a descendant of Paul Revere on his own action-filled midnight ride.
Nrama: How would you describe the lead character, Revere Windsor?
Riches: Revere is one part Die Hard’s John McClane as an individual against extraordinary odds and one part Green Lantern or Daredevil in the sense of his fearless attitude. He carries around a lot of baggage that he’d rather just ignore and drive past -- this tremendous historical legacy to live up to but he’s sort of lost his way when we meet him. His special ability, hyper-kinetic depth perception, is a blessing and a curse. It allows him to see and react to the world faster than anyone, but he gets caught up in the risk and playing the odds with little care of the consequences. His journey forces him to see the world around him again.
Jose Holder: As far as the whole Paul Revere mythos goes, I have to admit as a Canuck that I had some American history to catch up on. Once I was able to absorb the incredible back-story to Revere’s predecessor it became an easier task to conceptualize the character. Our Revere is a hard-edged, adrenaline junky with a mysterious past. Courageous under fire, and armed with a hellish wit and brawny exterior, he’s perfectly poised to lead a life danger and intrigue. There was an intensely collaborative process defining Revere’s look. His visual transformation ran the gamut from street vagabond to high tech adventurer. In the end we opted for a simpler streamlined persona for the book.
Nrama: Windsor has a unique skill – something called hyper kinetic depth perception that allows him to see and react to things faster than anyone else. How'd this come about, and how did you think out the practical uses of this?
Riches: It was very important to Mick and me that the action be believable in the story. So, we came up with a grounded super power -- something that doesn’t exist in the real world, but could in a slightly alternate reality. It let us put Revere through some crazy, “Oh my God” action scenarios and amp up the consequences. The practical uses were a blast. Imagine if you could see and react to the world faster than anyone -- from ordinary things like seeing the fastest way to cut through a crowd to dangerous scenarios of dodging bullets in a high-speed chase in a parking garage. Everything Revere does is playing the angles at breakneck speed.
Holder: In film there would have been a wealth of cinematic tricks to communicate Revere’s abilities. But in comics, I wanted to the tools of the medium to highlight hyper kinetic perception. Namely, color selection, numbering, magnification, speed lines, and slow paced sequentials. However, I also wanted to make a concerted effort not to distract the reader with too many elaborate sequences, and keep the action flowing uninterrupted.
Nrama: For those that haven’t read the first issue of R.P.M., what is our talented Mister Windsor up to?
Riches: Revere is hired to deliver a unique item from Boston to Miami that could have drastic consequences on the world’s economy. Several folks would like to see him fail. So, we have a mysterious corporation, hired mercenaries, and shadowy government officials. Revere doesn’t know who to trust as he clashes with thugs in high speed chases, helicopters crashing down on him, and ambushes around every corner.
Nrama: Let me ask you something, Jose. For this book, I see you using a more grounded noir style than what I see frequently in your portfolio. What pulled you in this direction, and how did you acclimate to the script from Shane & Mick?
Holder: I’ve always felt that the story should define the look of the material; a mantra that I’ve embraced over my career as a commercial illustrator. And as a result, I’ve been able to adapt my work to incorporate a bevy of diverse stylings, some of which caught Keven’s eye over at 12 Gauge. My aim for R.P.M. was a high contrast, loose line work feel, with a hint of the whimsical character-wise. We all wanted this surreal live-wire tale grounded in the real world. To their credit, Mick and Shane wrote a terrific script that was heavily infused with historical references and locales, but fortified with just enough excitement to satisfy action junkies like me. As a rider myself I just prayed for a motorcycle sequence and boy did I get one!
Nrama: I read you had ambitions to get in comics for many years, but took a break before your most recent stint here. Can you tell us about your earliest forays into comics, and what brought you back after years as a storyboard/concept artist?
Holder: After college I flirted with some U.S. anthologies and got printed. Later, I got bitten by the architecture bug and pursued that avenue for a while, redesigning for local developers. A few years moonlighting as a graphic designer lead to teaching art in my own school (Apocalypse Studios), where I spent a decade honing my skills. Even throughout long patches in gaming and stage décor I always made time to draw comic book pages and attend conventions abroad for critiques. The chance of a lifetime came after a series of online contests, a Wildstorm critique by the legendary Jim Lee, and C.B.Cebulski’s fabled generosity that I fell upon the good graces of a Marvel editor. IDW’s Legion movie crossover followed, and the rest is, shall we say, history.
Nrama: Shane… although Mick has many famous tag team partners over the years, you're a relative newcomer. Can you tell us about your background leading up to this?
Riches: I work in film and television as a producer and writer and have published a couple of comics in the past including my brother Victor’s The Safest Place. I met Mick while developing the screenplay based on his amazing novel, Tietam Brown. We had a terrific working relationship on that and were looking to do another project together.
Nrama: Before I let you go, I have to ask about Mick. Shane, Mick told me that it was you that encouraged him to try some work in comics. What can you tell us about his work that you thought would be a good fit in comics?
Riches: I’ve been a huge fan of Mick’s writing for years, going back to his first autobiography and then later working with him on Tietam Brown as a film. Mick’s novels always have great characters and terrific twists, but tend to be fairly dark and dramatic. I wanted to see him write something that could utilize his action storytelling skills as a TNA wrestler combined with his #1 New York Times bestselling author credentials. Comics allowed him to create a unique in-your-face action story while also injecting his same great characterization and humor.What do you think of this new celebrity-infused series?