3 Geeks: Slab Madness #1Rich Koslowski introduced us to the 3 Geeks in 1997, chronicling the misadventures of Allen, Jim and Keith, comic fans and social – ahem – misfits. Though the trio has appeared in various miniseries and one-shots over the years, they’ve maintained a low profile in the last couple years, as Koslowski was engaged in other pursuits.
This February, Koslowski and the 3 Geeks return in Slab Madness, a new three-issue miniseries whose first issue has already seen print as a special edition at the Baltimore Comicon earlier this fall. The new series focuses on Allen’s involvement with the CGC cult.
Koslowski took time out to answer questions about the new miniseries and why you can blame Marc Nathan and the Baltimore Comicon for the series.
Newsarama: Rich, it seems that this is the first 3 Geeks story in a while? Did you intend to break from them for this long, and what brings you back now?
Rich Koslowski: Yes, it has been awhile … other projects seem to keep getting in the boys way. That's the problem; so many ideas, so little time. The last 3 Geeks comic was the full-color mini Jim's Jerky, which came out in the summer of 2007 and it was a couple years before that that the last summer special came out. So yeah, way too long in-between issues.
Actually it was Marc Nathan of the Baltimore Comic-Con that instigated the latest comeback. He wanted me to be a guest at this last year's show and asked if I had any unused stories lying around that we could make into a "Baltimore Exclusive"? I did … a 3 Geeks story that had been sitting partially finished on my desk for the past two years. A "CGC" based idea about all the debates about slabbing your comics. It was going to be really tight to get it out in time for Marc's show but the offer was pretty enticing so I busted hind-end and got it done.
page 1Then, of course, like all things I usually do, it swelled beyond a single issue into a 3-issue miniseries so I had to release just issue #1 as an exclusive at Baltimore (regular issue out in January) with issues 2 & 3 to follow in February and March of 2009.
NRAMA: What's the story behind this latest outing for the 3 Geeks? In the first issue, Allen attains higher levels of existence through the purity of CGC-graded comics?
RK: Well, anyone who has read an issue of The 3 Geeks knows that Allen is cut from a different class of geekiness cloth! He takes the extreme to the extreme! So, when a large shipment of graded books arrives at his house one day, he is so delighted by them that he surrounds himself with them to bask in their glory. Then he builds a makeshift igloo out of them to better surround himself in their beauty. When he places the last slab in the last empty spot there is "enlightenment!" Allen becomes "all-knowing" when it comes to grading comics.
Then the mysterious "CEE-GEE-CEE" cultists burst onto the scene!
page 2In issues 2 & 3 it really gets hysterical as Keith and Jim face off against the Cee-Gee-Cee cultists in a fight for Allen's soul!!! And then their nemesis … Um, well … I guess I don't want to give away too many surprises. Let's just say the whole "To Slab Or Not To Slab" debate gets taken to a whole new level 3 Geeks-style!
NRAMA: How did the CGC become the, ahem, target of this 3 Geeks outing?
RK: Oh, I'm good friends with Steve Borock and Paul Litch from the CGC. Great guys and great supporters of the comic. Steve's been pimping the 3 Geeks since it first hit the stands. I can't thank them enough for their support. So a few years back I ask Steve what he thought about my tackling the CGC in a story. His eyes lit up! And here we are…
NRAMA: And they're okay with what you're doing to them!?
RK: They have great senses of humor! And I promised not to rake them over any coals. Not too hard anyway!! Funny thing is, they have NO IDEA what I'm writing! They trust me (HA HA!) to produce a funny and fair representation of the CGC and their business practices. So, of course, I put them all in robes and make them fanatical followers of some bizarre occult! Naturally.
page 3I just write the truth.
NRAMA: What keeps the 3 Geeks interesting to you at this point? You've done two distinct, long-form graphic novels and various other projects, yet you come back to Allen, Jim and Keith.
RK: I guess I just "know them" so well. I know who they are and their story and where they're going to go with their lives. I know people have heard other writers refer to writing certain characters as "As comfortable as an old sweater" and such … it's true. When I sink my creative teeth into a 3 Geeks storyline it just flows out of me. It's so natural, and rewarding, and enjoyable.
I know them and I am them. I know, sounds so existential and all but it's true. There's a part of me in each character. No, not the knife wielding psychopathic parts but I do like to talk like Thor on occasion (dress like him too).
page 4NRAMA: In addition to your own work, you completed a Weapon Omega story in Marvel's recent Marvel Comics Presents series, and you're a regular inker for Archie Comics. How has it been working on those projects for an actual boss?
RK: Archie is great. Fifteen years I've been doing inks for them and they always give me as much work as I want and they always pay on time! I have a fantastic relationship with Archie and, in particular, Victor Gorelick (Managing Editor; VP). Victor is the best editor I've ever worked with. As long as you get your stuff done on time and do a good job you are aces with Victor. Great guy, great sense of humor.
Marvel was challenging…
I had pitched an idea to, then editor, Andy Schmidt a few years back (in 2005) that he really loved. Months and months went by and nothing came of it. We'd touch base every few weeks and he'd tell me how much he and Tom Brevoort loved it but it just didn't "fit" right now in the Marvel U as it was. Ended up dragging on for a good two years without much progress…
Long story short, a very similar title at Marvel came out last year to what I pitched them. When I saw it, it was like being punched in the stomach! I asked about it. Andy assured me that it was a coincidence and nothing more! But he admitted that he had not yet read the new title yet. He said he'd read it that weekend and call me on Monday. Monday rolled around and Andy called and said, "I see what you mean." Then he offered me a gig on MCP. Said he was going to call me that week anyway to offer me the job.
page 5I took it. With the understanding that I was still supposed to write the story I pitched a couple years prior (even though I saw no way of doing this) and that it could co-exist with this other title as an "offshoot" of sorts. So I plodded forward with an extremely tight deadline looming. I had to keep changing it a little here and there, of course, as it was "too close" to this other title now, until it pretty much became a watered down version of what I first intended it to be.
With just weeks before issue #1 was to hit the stands Andy Schmidt then quit Marvel and John Barber took over as the editor on MCP. I was assured that nothing would change, however, with my gig on MCP. The next day John called and told me that my story "wouldn't work" and asked "what else I had"? And could I get them to him in 24 hours as the deadline for MCP #1 was coming quick! So I scrambled and threw him a handful of other ideas I had on the desktop.
Next day he calls and says he likes a few of them but "Thor's sewn up" and "Cap's sewn up" and "the X-Men are sewn up." Then he asks me what I think of the new Guardian character? I was pretty exasperated/dumbfounded/confused/befuddled at this point, let me tell you (and that's the "G" version). He asked if I could throw him a pitch for the new Guardian and could I do that quick. The deadline and all. Looming.
So I did. I worked through the night on it and sent it out. He liked it. We managed to make all the deadlines but it was very, very rough at the start. Tensions ran a bit high.
page 8By the time I was into the third or fourth installment things had settled in and I got into a comfortable groove. All things considered, I think I did a pretty darn good job on the run. It was just recently the only storyline from the twelve-issue run of MCP that was collected into a trade paperback. And re-reading it now I must admit to being very proud of the story.
Like I said, "challenging."
I wonder how many other writers have had similar experiences in this business?
NRAMA: I don't think I've ever seen it come up, but when you created the 3 Geeks, were there any particular persons (who probably wish to remain anonymous) who inspired them?
RK: Besides myself? Yes. There was this kid who used to help out at the comic store I worked at waaayyy back in 1990-91. He was pretty much forced to work for us doing menial stuff like sweeping, sorting, lugging boxes because he had such a massive amount of books ordered that he just simply could not afford to pay for. So he paid for them with a bit of good old fashioned "sweat equity." And it wasn't like we could just sell his stuff to other customers cuz he wasn't ordering popular titles like X-Men or Batman … NOPE! He'd get all sorts of crazy ass shit like "Vivisection Madness" and "Cut Me Bloody!" and "Wrap My Intestines 'Round Your Throat!" You know, the real "feel good" comics that all the kids like.
And he always dressed in fatigues and was pretty scary. Little guy, no muscles, but scary, y'know?
page 9So a lot of Jim is based on my experiences with him. There's also a lot of my older brother in Jim … The 'tude part.
NRAMA: After the three-issue 3 Geeks: Slab Madness wraps, what's next for you?
RK: I have just finished up the art for a new graphic novel, BB Wolf & The 3 L.P.s, that was written by newcomer J.D. Arnold and is going to be published by Top Shelf Productions. It'll be out this upcoming spring/summer of 2009. It's a retelling of the classic Big Bad Wolf/Three Little Pigs story but much, much darker. It's pretty intense. I think it's my best art to date and can't wait till it hits the racks.
After that? Lots of ideas, too little time! But there will be more stories. Just don't know the exact "whats, wheres and whens" yet!
3 Geeks: Slab Madness #1 arrives in February. More information, including existing copies of the Baltimore Comicon exclusive edition of Slab Madness #1, can be found at Rich’s website.