INTERVIEWS & PROFILES
Below are links to and reprints of past interviews conducted of Rob Hanes Adventures creator-writer-artist Randy Reynaldo.
NY-based Pinoy showcases talent at San Diego Comic Con from the FilmAm (August 6, 2016). Also picked up by the GMA Network.
Filipino artists showcase talents at San Diego Comic Con by Florante Peter Ibanez, inquirer.net (August 3, 2016).
Comic Book People Celebration, Pop Culture Maven (October 26, 2015).
Rob Hanes Adventures creator Randy Reynaldo featured in wired.com as part of the magazine's 2013 San Diego Comic-Con coverage.
Rob Hanes Adventures mentioned in Publishers' Weekly Comics World Podcast during the 2013 Comic-Con! (Skip to 30 min. mark.)
Issue 10 was featured in 1000 Comic Books You Must Read by Tony Isabella!
An interview with Rob Hanes Adventures creator-writer-artist Randy Reynaldoat the Newsarama website conducted by Zack Smith (Aug. 17, 2010).
Interview conducted by Tim O'Shea
I'm always looking for interview suggestions. With this in mind, I was bugging Kindly Kurt Busiek for ideas. Kurt gave me a whole load of suggestions, so rather than thanking him each and every time we run the different suggested interviews in the near term, let's just say right now, "Kurt, thanks now and in advance."
Now on with the interview subject—Randy Reynaldo, the publisher-writer-artist of the comic-book series, Rob Hanes Adventures, which Randy publishes through his WCG Comics entity. As Randy describes it, "Rob Hanes is a globetrotting troubleshooter for Justice International (JI), a worldwide private investigation, security consultancy and information gathering agency. . . WCG Comics began publishing in 1990 with a digest-sized zine called Adventure Strip Digest, featuring the adventures of a globetrotting private eye names Rob Hanes. The series was launched in 1994 as an independent comic-book series, with four issues of the title released . . . In the mid- and late-1990s, Reynaldo went on hiatus after two agreements, first with Caliber Comics, then with Image Comics, were not successful. In the meantime, Reynaldo continued drawing the series, relaunching his all-new Rob Hanes Adventures comic-book series in October 2000 under the WCG imprint." After reading the e-interview, be sure to visit the WCG website for even more information, it's a great site. My thanks to Randy for his time.
—Tim O'Shea, TCR Senior Online News Editor
O'SHEA: You've gone the route of self-publishing, then tried publishing through a company, and now you're back to the self-publishing route. How good does it feel to be back in control of your creative destiny again? On the other hand, what are the pitfalls/disadvantages you've found to self publishing?
REYNALDO: I'm very happy to be self-publishing again. You're exactly right—I'm in charge of my own creative destiny again. I have been making comics since I was a kid -- starting with "homemade comics," no doubt like a lot of other cartoonists, so self-publishing is really an extension of that whole approach. I do enjoy the business and promotional side of self-publishing, and being involved in the whole production of a comic-book, so it's fun for me.
On the other hand, the disadvantage is that I just don't have time to do everything! Many self publishers have some kind of assistance—in the case of Jeff Smith (Bone) and David Lapham (Stray Bullets), their spouses serve as their business managers and partners. I recently got married, but as we both have full time jobs and may start a family soon, if she was spending as much time on the company as I was, we wouldn't have much time for the marriage!
O'SHEA: Presently, your company WCG Comics solely publishes your title. Any plans to publish other titles down the road?
REYNALDO: I've always daydreamed about the company being successful enough to do other projects (mostly my own), but that's mostly fantasy. Right now the focus is to make Rob Hanes Adventures a success and to get it out on time.
O'SHEA: How much did winning a Xeric Foundation grant, back in March 1995, help your career?
REYNALDO: The Xeric Foundation grant gives you credibility and validation. It's a great thing to put on promotional items, advertising, etc. But you still need to do the work. If you're not out there on a regular basis, people forget you. Before an artist applies for and receives a Xeric Grant, he or she should have a long-term strategy in place to make sure the grant is used effectively -- both financially and in the timing.
O'SHEA: Being a quarterly publication is it harder to pull off a multi-part story arc for fearing of losing readership, given the lag time between issues?
REYNALDO: That's why I don't do multi-part stories! All my stories are self-contained. I do have larger story arcs in the background, but they are secondary to the main story and readers are never left hanging.
I also like this approach because, given how long it takes me to draw an issue, I would get bored pretty quickly working on the same story for a long period of time. This gives me an opportunity to do a wide variety of stories.
O'SHEA: In your online bio, your work/storytelling style is described as in the tradition of Will Eisner's Spirit, Roy Crane's Buz Sawyer , and Milton Caniff's Terry and the Pirates as well as like the work of Alex Toth. Of these, who would you say influenced you the most and how? Are there other artists/storytellers not in that list that may have influenced you even more?
REYNALDO: As anyone familiar with my work will tell you, Caniff was my first inspiration. And he remains a strong inspiration. But it's not only his art—his art was groundbreaking and vibrant on its own, but the writing took it to a whole new level. Although he was a strong plotter, his real forte was character. More than most cartoonists, his stories were driven by character, and they were all memorable and well-defined.
I discovered Crane, Toth and Eisner later. I must admit, that in terms of craftsmanship, I appreciate, in some ways, Roy Crane and Alex Toth even more than Caniff. Crane's work had a lot of life and vitality, even more so than Caniff. It was very breezy, and there was a real joy to his work. Toth is also a big admirer of Crane, as was Caniff, and he was a perfectionist always striving for the best. While Caniff certainly cared about his work, at the end of the day he always considered himself a newspaperman and as a craftsman. Toth really considered what he was doing to be art.
I love Eisner because of the economy of his stories. I can think of no one who could have done some of the stories he has done in the span of eight pages, as he did. I'd love to emulate it, but it's incredibly difficult! It's amazing to think he did this every week—52 times a year for about 12 years!
But I've been inspired by a lot of people, including many current artists. People like Joe Kubert, John Severin, Russ Heath, Howard Chaykin, Marshall Rogers, Michael Golden, Gil Kane, John Byrne and others I'm no doubt forgetting have all been influences for me in one way or the other.
O'SHEA: Rob Hanes has been likened to a grown-up Jonny Quest, what kind of upbringing did Rob have and will there ever be any tales of the Toddler/Small Child Rob Hanes? It looks like you might be delving into his background with the resurrection of Rob's long-thought dead father, Patrick Hanes. Does this mean Mama Hanes is not far behind?
REYNALDO: It's funny you should ask... Around issue 5 and 6, I plan to finally resolve the whole Rob Hanes/Patrick Hanes storyline. This story thread was actually introduced in the Rob Hanes Archives trade paperback in a story called "The Glowworm Conspiracy." In the story, Rob meets his long-lost father and discovers that Patrick Hanes is believed to have been "Glowworm," a Cold War era Soviet mole. After his father disappeared and his mother died, Rob was raised by his maternal grandfather, Senator Thurmond McCay—the patriarch of a Kennedy like family. I'll delve more into this background.
But I DO plan to do a few "Young Rob Hanes" stories! In fact, space permitting, I have an idea for a "Year One" backup story, as well as a story tentatively titled "Rob's First Adventure." I also want to do a Patrick Hanes story set in the 1970s!
O'SHEA: Which do you enjoy more, the role of writer or artist (or both)?
REYNALDO: I do enjoy both, though the writing doesn't come as easy as I'd like. I think my art has developed more than the writing, but that's something I certainly will work on.
O'SHEA: Other than Rob, who is your favorite character in the book?
REYNALDO: I really love Abner McKenna—though I really don't feel I've used him enough recently and may be retiring him for awhile. And I do like Rob's nemesis, Nicolai Korda, a lot. I'll need to bring him to the fore again.
O'SHEA: Do you already have the final Rob Hanes adventure written in your mind, or do the ideas for new stories come day by day, influenced by current international events and your own travels abroad (In other words, the ideas will never stop coming, so they'll never be a final story)?
REYNALDO: I have a lot of different story ideas for the series, but I have never really thought of doing a final story. (Ask me again after I've been doing this for a lot more years!) Rob Hanes Adventures is meant to be a modern-day "serial," which means it's intended to go on for as long as it can sustain itself and I don't get bored. I do have a general direction I'm taking the series, but since the stories are generally self-contained, I have the flexibility to take detours with other kinds of stories when the mood strikes me. As you suggest, current events and my own travels sometimes inspire me to do spur-of-the-moment stories. But right now, I'm trying to stick close to my plan for the first several issues.
Current events can also wreck my plans. If you recall, I originally created Rob Hanes back in the '70s. I had several story ideas that would take Rob into the Soviet Union. With the end of the Cold War, however, that put the end to that story arc!!! (I told you I work slow!)
O'SHEA: How much research do you do for a story? In one issue, you had a character refer to MITI, Japan's Ministry of Technology. That's not an agency you hear about every day and you always seem to have really obscure, but credible details in your stories. In the most recent issues liner notes you mention that you're a news junkie. How many magazines, newspapers or other news sources do you read in a week?
REYNALDO: A lot of my research is for photo references, but I do end up picking up a lot of interesting tidbits that I try to use in the stories, like the reference to MITI you just mentioned. I also get ideas for characters and situations from news articles. I subscribe to several weekly and monthly magazines and read newspapers fairly regularly. And I'm not just talking about newsmagazines like Time -- I have even gotten story ideas from magazines like George and Fortune! (The "Liner Notes" section of Rob Hanes Adventures #1 mentions a private "spy" agency I read about in George magazine that is not too different than Justice International, which was a surprise even to me.) When I was on Japan for my honeymoon, I saved some articles because they gave me story ideas. (I love out-of-town newspapers when I'm on the road!) As one example, Rob Hanes Adventures #4 will feature a rather flamboyant warlord based on a real Balkan paramilitary leader that I read about who liked to dress in classic traditional military uniforms. I thought that was a kick and adopted it for my character. I should add that the real-life person was actually recently assassinated, which I will mention in the Liner Notes for that issue.
O'SHEA: You have a flair for writing interesting female guest-star characters for the book, but by the next issue Rob is always in a new city and a new adventure. Has there been one female in particular that you say to yourself "She could become a series regular . . ." ? (or would that be just like James Bond getting married?)
REYNALDO: No, I definitely want to have some recurring female characters. Actually, we'll see more of that—Tiffany Lance, seen briefly in issue 1, for example, originally appeared in a very early story called "The Assassin." I think recurring characters are essential to creating a rich, believable "universe" that readers can get into. By the same token, right now I haven't really developed a female character yet who may be a serious love interest for Rob. But I'm working on it.
O'SHEA: You're obviously happy in the self-publishing world, but would you ever be interested in relaunching Challengers of the Unknown for DC (or some other title if DC or Marvel contacted you), or maybe having ROB cross into the world of Karl Kesel/Tom Grummett's Section Zero (which also has a tinge of espionage to it)?
REYNALDO: I would love that, but I really haven't given it much thought because I just don't have the time!
Actually, back in the '70s when I did have time to daydream, I actually did some "faux" comic book covers (i.e., just the covers for a non-existent, fantasy "Rob Hanes" comic-book series with no actual story or comic-book. The covers were meant to suggest a story). In these fantasy covers, Rob teamed up with EVERYONE I could think of. Believe it or not, I had Rob in the Star Wars and Alien universes, and teaming up with Batman and with Superman! There were also "teamups" with more down-to-earth characters like the Beatles and the Blues Brothers. So I guess anything is possible!
The following interview originally appeared in the Comic Book Net Electronic Magazine # 99
© 1997 by The ComicBook Network
Interview conducted by Ronald-Thomas Fleming
Randy Reynaldo is the creator of Adventure Strip Digest, starring Rob Hanes. The title started out as a small press comic and later was published as an independent comic.
His comic has garnered praise from all across the industry. Reynaldo is a recipient of a Xeric Foundation Grant and a past nominee for the Russ Manning award.
You can contact also visit his new web site which features art, news and other features related to Rob Hanes.
WHAT KIND OF SERIES IS ROB HANES?
Short answer: Rob Hanes is a modern-day, globe trotting action-adventure series about a private investigator and freelance spy who works for a private detective and security firm called Justice International.
Long answer: The series is a modern-day update of classic adventure comics like Terry and the Pirates and the Spirit (with some James Bond and Mission: Impossible thrown in), but without the nostalgia.
Ultimately, however, I want to do any kind of story that interests me, ranging from straight adventure, humor and even romance -- with lots of villains, pretty women, and exotic locales thrown in.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN DOING THE ROB HANES
I originally created the character in the late 1970s when I was in high school. It was originally created to be a newspaper adventure strip. Although I didn't work much on the series from 1980-85 when I was in college, he appeared in a lot of my sketchbooks during that time. I also continued outlining stories for the series.
WHY SHOULD SOME READ YOUR SERIES?
Because nobody else is doing this kind of material and because I think it's really fun. I hope over time that readers will begin to find Rob cool - someone they would like to hang out with and be friends with. Readers will begin to see a lot of variety in the stories, unlike what you may see in a lot of other series. Storylines will vary greatly, from drama, action adventure, to outright comedy!
I want Rob to be "real" to readers and I have already done stories that have Rob and me interacting, much in the same way Will Eisner was simply the chronicler of the Spirit's adventures! I am even toying with Rob answering letters in the book's letters column!
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE SMALL PRESS MARKET?
I think it's great. In my opinion, too many self-publishers and creators go into independent publishing before they have enough experience, knowledge and skill, and the small press creates a good opportunity for such development. I don't think I would have thought about going independent until I started getting the response I did to my fanzinework. But the small press shouldn't be seen only as a stepping stone - I think it's a valid end in itself as a form of self-expression and would have been just as happy doing my book still as a small press comic-book.
Whenever I'm on a panel about self-publishing, I always try to tell people about the small press, because it's easier to make connections and to get feedback since it's such a closeknit community and because it's easier to become a "big fish in a little pond."
WHEN DID YOU MAKE THE JUMP FROM SMALL PRESS
PUBLISHER TO INDEPENDENT PUBLISHER?
I made the jump in 1995 - I had been doing the book as a small press digest zine for about a year, but it started to get a lot of positive attention from both the mainstream press and professional cartoonists. So I decided to go into independent publishing. I've always had a strong following among pros; many tell me that if they could do whatever they wanted, they'd be doing a book like mine.
HAS THE SERIES CHANGED MUCH SINCE ITS INCEPTION?
Considering how long I've been working on it, yes. The art itself has improved MASSIVELY since I first started work on the series. And if you examine some of my early work, especially the material done in both the 1970s and '80s, Rob's "look" has changed a lot. But most of the main elements are still in place: Rob has always been a globetrotting adventurer and worked for Justice International pretty much since the beginning. Most of the original cast is already there, but many of the characters now appearing in the series, particularly the villains and Rob's sidekick like Abner McKenna, are new.
IS ROB HANES WHERE ALL OF YOUR INCOME
COMES FROM OR DO YOU HAVE OTHER WORK?
Unfortunately, right now I have a "real" job that has NOTHING to do with my comics work! I do get occasional offers to do storyboarding and other comics, but I've never been a true freelancer so it's kind of scary. Besides, I'm concentrating on Rob Hanes right now. Given how the market is right now, I'm fortunate to have a stable job.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF. I
'm completely self-trained as a cartoonist. I was actually an English major at UCLA and have a master's degree in communications management. Although I have a full time job and spend most of my extra time on my comics, I still find time to hang out with friends when I can, and to play ball and ski. I also just got engaged to my longtime girlfriend who just completed her doctorate and is now teaching at the college level!
Unfortunately, this leaves me little time to keep up with other comics. Biggest influences are Milton Caniff, Alex Toth, Roy Crane, Noel Sickles, Will Eisner, Joe Kubert, Howard Chaykin, David Mazuchelli, Mike Golden.
WHY ARE YOU HOOKING UP WITH CALIBER? *
I really do like self-publishing; as both a fanzine and independentpublisher, I liked doing most aspects of my own comic-book, ranging from creating the stories, to writing the text pieces, etc. But I'm an inexperienced businessman, not aggressive enough in terms of marketing and promotion, and had very little time left over to actually spend on creating comics since I was doing everything on my own!
With Caliber, I have found an ideal publisher in that they support and like my book, and have given me full freedom and control. I remember trading some e-mails with Jenni Gregory recently, who also went to Caliber with Dreamwalker, and she pointed out that as little as 5 years ago, we could have NEVER gotten this kind of a deal with a publisher. I agree.
I have also had a good relationship so far with Joe Pruett and Gary Reed over at Caliber. They have been longtime supporters of my work and have published a couple of short Rob Hanes stories in their anthology title, Negative Burn. (See footnote.)
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS
Just to keep working - that's the only way you get better. Also, they should routinely send their work out to other pros and reviewers. Although they may not always get a response (nor should they expect one), people will begin to take notice of their work once they have seen it several times.
ARE THERE ANY OTHER PROJECTS YOU ARE
I recently came out with a trade paperback called the Rob Hanes Archives which collects all my early small press material. An Italian publisher has picked up the series for translation - I'm not sure what the status of that is, but they've already paid me a licensing fee!
WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS FOR ROB HANES?
I do have a lot of Rob's future plans mapped out, although it's always fluid - I don't want to restrict myself too much.
In any case, in issue 1 of the new Rob Hanes series from Caliber, I take Rob to the Balkans where he meets a character who is a sort of bridge between my series and the Terry and the Pirates "universe." It's not really important to the story, but an interesting in-joke for fans of that series.
Issue 2 will take Rob to his home base in New York City where he meets a new girlfriend and an old foe. Issue 3 will take Rob to Japan. Other future issues will involve Rob going undercover on a minor league baseball team and readers finding out more about Rob's family history - on his mother's side, Rob comes from a well-to-do political family much like the Kennedys, while his father was a State Department official who disappeared in the 1970s after it was discovered that he may have been a Soviet mole(there's a short story about this in the Rob Hanes Archives trade paperback). I also hope to bring back Rob's dad in a story set in the 1970s, in which Rob appears as a young boy!
So expect a lot of variety and stronger continuity. A lot of older characters are also beginning to reappear in the series.
WHEN CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE THE NEW SERIES? *
Spring 1997 - hopefully in time for the San Diego Comicon!
Footnote: The series ultimately never was released through Caliber.