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Rick Veitch

Veitch photographed at the 1992 San Diego Comic Con.
Nationality American
Area(s) Artist, writer
Official website

Rick Veitch is an American comic book artist and writer who has worked in mainstream, underground, and alternative comics. He is the brother of Tom Veitch, underground comix writer, American poet, and writer of Star Wars comics.

Contents

Biography

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Early career

Veitch studied cartooning at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, and was in the first class to graduate from the school in 1978, along with his future long-time collaborators Steve Bissette and John Totleben. Veitch had already made his publishing debut prior to attending the Kubert School: in 1972, he illustrated the horror parody Two-Fisted Zombies (written by his brother Tom Veitch), but this one-shot failed to make a splash in the fading underground comix field of the '70s. His next major project was an adaptation, with Bissette, of the film 1941.

During the 1980s, Veitch became known as a distinctive fantasy artist and writer for Marvel's Epic Comics line, for which he created three graphic novels, Abraxas and the Earthman (serialized in Epic Illustrated), Heartburst (published as a standalone graphic novel) and The One (originally published as a six-issue comic book limited series). Heartburst was straightforward science fiction, while The One was an ambitious and bizarre fantasy-adventure involving monstrous superheroes, the Cold War, and spiritual evolution; obvious influences on The One included Alan Moore's Miracleman (for which Veitch illustrated several issues) and Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End, but treated in a more humorous manner with often surreal imagery. During this period Veitch also contributed numerous self-contained comics short stories to Epic Illustrated.

Swamp Thing

Veitch's highest-profile title was DC's Swamp Thing. His friends Totleben and Bissette had both illustrated the series since Alan Moore took over as writer; Veitch joined the team for issue #37, in which Moore's popular character John Constantine was introduced, and appeared regularly after issue #50. He also worked with Moore on Miracleman, illustrating the notorious story that graphically depicted the birth of Miracleman's child—not the last time Veitch found himself at the center of controversy.

When Moore left the series after issue #64, Veitch took over as writer, dividing art duties between himself and Alfredo Alcala. His Swamp Thing stories took a similar approach to Moore's, combining horror-fantasy, ecological concerns, and an encyclopedic knowledge of DC Comics fantasy characters; however, he gradually turned his attention from the DC Universe to history and mythology, using time travel to introduce his hero to a variety of legendary figures. This was to conclude in issue #91. However things hit a snag after Veitch's plan for issue #88, a story in which Swamp Thing met Jesus Christ, was scrapped by DC's editors. Although DC had approved Veitch's initial script for the Jesus story, the topic was later deemed too inflammatory and was cancelled at the last minute. The publisher and writer were unable to reach a compromise; Veitch quit, and vowed never to work for DC until the story saw print.[1][2] (Though the story arc has still never been printed, Veitch eventually did return to DC.)

There is some hope that DC may include the story in future reprints of Veitch's run (which started with the "Regenesis" trade paperback). However, Veitch recently noted that the real loss were the three issues that were to follow the Jesus story.[3]

Later work

After leaving DC, Veitch turned to the alternative comics field, where the success of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had provided the impetus for a black-and-white independent comics boom. After doing a Ninja Turtles storyline for Mirage, The River, he began creating his own titles again, published by the Mirage spin-off Tundra.

During this period, he produced the graphic novels Bratpack and The Maximortal, which were to be part of a planned cycle of books called The King Hell Heroica. Like The One, this series used elements of familiar superhero tales (in particular, a menacing parody of Superman, and fictionalized versions of his real-life creators) in a surreal, satirical, and extremely violent mode, exploring Veitch's stated belief that superheroes are a symptom of America's tendency toward fascism. Bratpack drew hostility from some critics, who saw homophobia in its portrayal of a flamboyantly gay superhero who molested his Robin-like sidekick; Veitch maintained that he meant this as a satirical exaggeration of the theories of Fredric Wertham.

After Tundra collapsed, Veitch chose to emulate the successful self-published artist Dave Sim by creating his own publishing imprint, King Hell Press. King Hell has reprinted black-and-white editions of all of his original graphic novels. However, his independent projects have met with little financial reward.

Veitch was reunited with Alan Moore on two titles for Image Comics, 1963 and Supreme. He then became a regular artist on Moore's America's Best Comics line published by Wildstorm, co-creating and then illustrating the graphically innovative "Greyshirt" serial (a Spirit homage) in Tomorrow Stories, and later writing a spin-off Greyshirt series. When Wildstorm was sold, both Veitch and Moore found themselves working indirectly for DC again, despite both having long-standing conflicts with the publisher; Veitch took this opportunity to mend relations and has since begun working directly for DC again, notably on its relaunch of Aquaman and on a mini-series reimagining DC-owned Charlton Comics character The Question as a self-trained urban shaman. DC Vertigo has recently published his 352-page graphic novel, Can't Get No, a psychedelic 'road' narrative about a failed businessman finding himself after the World Trade Center attacks told without word balloons but embellished in captions with stream-of-consciousness free verse poetry loosely relating to plot developments.

During the 1990s, Veitch became interested in the Internet as an alternative to traditional comics distribution. In 1998, with Steve Conley, he created the "online convention" site comicon.com, a combination message board, news portal, and web host for comics creators. He continues to run the site, and is a vocal advocate of self-publishing in both print and digital media.

He's currently writing and penciling the satirical Army@Love for Vertigo.[4]

Dream art

Veitch has a long-standing interest in dream art. In 1991, inspired by Scott McCloud's improvisational comics techniques, he decided to use his dreams as raw material and began adapting them as short comic strips. These strips, titled Roarin' Rick's Rare Bit Fiends (a reference to Winsor McCay's Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend), first appeared as backup features in his self-published titles; in 1994 he began a full-sized Rare Bit Fiends series, which he later described as his "life's work". King Hell published 21 issues of Rare Bit Fiends and has collected the first 20 in three paperback volumes, which also include essays by Veitch speculating about the nature of dreaming. The original series also reproduced dream comics submitted by readers.

Veitch had a cameo in the Cerebus the Aardvark story arc "Guys" as "Roaring Rick" where Cerebus is dreaming, and Roaring Rick appears to him and gives a surreal monologue on the nature of dreams, lucid dreaming, etc.

Bibliography

Underground Comix

  • 1972 - Two-Fisted Zombies (first published work)

Epic Illustrated

  • April, 1985 - Ghosts in the Machine

Graphic novels

  • 1979 (reprinted 1994) - 1941 (with Steve Bissette). LPC Group. ISBN 99940-24-20-5
  • 1982-1983 (reprinted 2006)- Abraxas and the Earthman - Originally serialized in Epic Illustrated. Marvel Comics. Collected edition TPB: King Hell Press. ISBN 0-9624864-8-5
  • 1984 - Heartburst. Marvel Books. ISBN 0-939766-82-5
  • 1989 (reprinted 2003) - The One. King Hell Press. ISBN 0-9624864-5-0
  • 1992 (reprinted 2003) - Bratpack. King Hell Press. ISBN 0-9624864-4-2
  • 2002 - The Maximortal. King Hell Press. ISBN 0-9624864-3-4
  • 2006 - Can't Get No. DC Comics. ISBN 1-4012-1059-7

Series collections

  • 1991 - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The River. Mirage Publishing.
  • 2003 - Greyshirt: Indigo Sunset. DC Comics. ISBN 1-56389-909-4
  • 2003 - Aquaman: The Waterbearer (with Yvel Guichet). DC Comics. ISBN 1-4012-0088-5
  • 2004 - Swamp Thing: Regenesis (with Alfredo Alcala). DC Comics. ISBN 1-4012-0267-5
  • 2005 - Swamp Thing: Spontaneous Generation (with Alfredo Alcala). DC Comics. ISBN 1-4012-0793-6
  • 2006 - Swamp Thing: Infernal Triangles (with Delano, Bissette, Alfredo Alcala, Tom Mandrake). DC Comics. ISBN 1-4012-1008-2
  • 2007 - Army@Love: The Hot Zone Club (with Gary Erskine). DC Comics. ISBN 1-4012-1474-6
  • 2008 - Army@Love: Generation Pwned (with Gary Erskine). DC Comics. ISBN 1-4012-1832-4

Dream art collections

  • 1995 - Rabid Eye. King Hell Press. ISBN 0-9624864-1-8
  • 1996 - Pocket Universe. King Hell Press. ISBN 0-9624864-2-6
  • 2004 - Crypto Zoo. King Hell Press. ISBN 0-9624864-6-9

Miscellaneous compilation

  • 2007 - Shiny Beasts. (including many of Veitch's one-shot stories) King Hell Press.

Notes

  1. ^ Darius, Julian. "Swamp Thing: Jamie Delano, Rick Veitch, and Doug Wheeler Era (1987-1991)," Sequart. Accessed Oct. 25, 2008
  2. ^ LoTempio, D.J. Rick Veitch interview, FanZing 41 (Dec. 2001). Accessed Oct. 25, 2008.
  3. ^ Veitch comments on Comicon
  4. ^ Irvine, Alex (2008), "Army@Love", in Dougall, Alastair, The Vertigo Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, pp. 28–29, ISBN 0-7566-4122-5, OCLC 213309015  

References

External links


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