Kaare Andrews achieved what few at the Big Two have when he completed his recent run on Iron Fist: The Immortal Weapon: 12 issues done entirely by himself, from writing to drawing, and even coloring. And now he's looking to do it again, but this time, for himself.
At July's Image Expo, Andrews announced a new creator-owned series launching this fall called Renato Jones: The One%.
Yes, that 1%.
Although this upcoming series is fictional, Andrews tells Newsarama that the book's goal is to "slap some people in the face!"
Newsarama talked with Andrews as part of a long conversation about his recent work beginning with Friday's interview on Iron Fist: The Living Weapon. In this second half, the creator opens up about his initial forays into comic books and creator-owned work 15 years ago, what stymied him then, and what is pushing him to try it again in 2015.
Newsarama: At the recent Image Expo, you announced doing a creator-owned series titled Renato Jones: The One%. What can you tell us about it?
Kaare Andrews: Renato Jones: The One% will be my first creator owned work in comic books. It’s something I’ve always intended to do; it just took me a while to get there. I blame my other job as a film director. What would have been me jumping back and forth from Marvel to creator owned ended up being jumping back and forth from comics to film. I’ve never allowed myself the time to properly do a creator owned book. But I feel like I achieved a personal milestone with Iron Fist and it was time to move on to a new challenge.
Renato Jones: The One% will test me in a brand new way! It’s a great challenge to build a new character from the ground up and I can’t wait to start sharing with people. It’s going to get some interesting reactions—for sure.
Nrama: Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't you have a creator-owned story way back in one of those Writer's Bloc anthologies?
Andrews: Okay, you got me. Technically, the very first work I had published was a single-issue worth of a creator owned book called Kirin: Battle Girl. I actually had an offer from a publisher to publish Kirin as a mini-series. It would have been just enough money to finally let me draw comics full time. That all fizzled out after the fist issue and I ended up in a rather bizarre lawsuit where I had to sue my first publisher. Unfortunately, they were also bankrupt at the time. So I ended up publishing it with my good friends in the Writers Bloc anthology.
The situation made me realize that if I really wanted to make it, I needed to move back in with my mother in my hometown of Saskatoon. This was right about the time that Marvel was undergoing bankruptcy protection and no one was getting hired and everyone decided comic books were dead. But I loved the medium too much. So I lived in my mom’s laundry room, rent free, and focused entirely on breaking into the “doomed” industry of comics. It was a Spartan decision. But it made all the difference and I was actually working full time within a year or so.
Nrama: And this isn't your first time at Image -- you drew a short-lived series called Intrigue back in 2000. How would you compare the two experiences so far?
Andrews: Wow. The landscape of comics is completely different 15 years later. Intrigue was a book created by a great guy, Howard Shum, but I was a work-for-hire artist. Back then it was mostly an opportunity to get published and start getting my name out. And it probably helped lead to getting work at both WildStorm and Marvel.
I don’t think anyone looks at Image as a stepping stone anymore. In many ways, for someone like myself, it’s the opposite. Instead of a chance to simply get published, Image Comics provides a chance to do your best and most personal work. A chance to control your career. It’s what happens after you’ve honed your teeth, working on your childhood characters like Spider-Man and Hulk.
Nrama: And now you just completed a run on Iron Fist at Marvel; is Renato Jones: The One% the only thing you're working on now, or do you have something else in comic books or film?
Andrews: I always have film projects on the go. This is the inevitability of directing. You need to juggle a few projects and wait for one of them to ‘hit’. I used to wonder why someone like Guillermo Del Toro was attached to eight things at a time. And then I became a director. Ha. You have to remember that every film is like a start-up corporation and that the average time a film takes to get made (of the ones that do get made) is about seven years. There are so many elements that can throw a film off track, especially in today’s climate. You have to keep at it. And that means you have to keep at a few projects at a time and sooner or later one of them explodes in your face and throws your life into chaos for the next year or so.
Nrama: What are your goals for Renato Jones: The One%?
Andrews: Renato Jones: The One% is set to slap some people in the face! Ha! It’s just me throwing all of my pent up juices onto the page. Not censoring myself or my ideas or my storytelling. It is creating with abandon. These are concepts that have been building and percolating for years and I’m just happy to finally channel them onto the page. It’s social and personal commentary, it’s rage and violence, it’s revenge… it’s the lonely man. I’m drawing it now and having the time of my life.
Nrama: Since 2011, in comics you've only written for yourself as an artist. Do you see the times of you drawing someone else's scripts as over? And why?
Andrews: I don’t ever see that avenue going away. I’ve been writing and drawing my own work at major publishers since the early 2000’s and because of that, working with another writer was always a choice not a compromise. It can be very fulfilling to work with someone like Mark Millar, Warren Ellis or Zeb Wells. I think it makes me a better collaborator because if I wanted to just do my own thing, I would. Instead, I try and invest my energy into telling someone else’s story with as much passion and precision as I can bring to the table. And you never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes you get chocolate and peanut butter and sometimes you get eggs and jam. But it’s the journey that is the point of if all.
Having said that… at this exact moment in time I am most invested in drawing my own stories. There is just something a little different that comes out of work that you write and draw yourself. It becomes a holistic experience, not a compartmentalized one. And I love feeling the weight of the whole process on my shoulders. It feels heavy but it feels good. Like each footprint takes more effort, but lands a little harder. The stakes are higher and you can’t hide behind someone else’s writing or someone else’s art. You wear it all.
But you know, I’m also writing a small project for the amazing Troy Nixey to draw. We’ve been great friends for a very long time and there is a little something we came up with together. More on that to come…