‘Rumble’ Writer John Arcudi: The Horror News Network Interview

by Nick Banks

John Arcudi is one of the most prolific writers in the history of Dark Horse Comics and one of the main architects of the Mignolaverse.  His work on titles such as Abe Sapien, B.P.R.D., and Lobster Johnson fleshed out the “House that Hellboy Built” and added a deeper historical context to the universe.

Fans of his work on the Mignolaverse will be happy to hear that Arcudi is about ready to start a second run on his critically acclaimed Image Comics title RumbleRumble is the story of an ancient warrior who, after being resurrected into the body of a scarecrow, embarks on a quest to find his actual physical form in a modern day urban setting.  Joined by his human guide Bobby LaRosa and a host of Kirby-esque monsters, the title is a wild ride, riddled with mythological archetypes and gonzo, monster slicing action.

Arcudi took some time out of his schedule to discuss Rumble and his previous work for Dark Horse in this exclusive interview.

Horror News Network: How would you generally describe Rumble for those unfamiliar with your series?

John Arcudi: That’s a challenge.  A kind of action comedy urban fantasy is about as close as anybody’s come. Genre-defying might be another way, because we kind of just do whatever we have to do in order to tell a good story, and that includes a lot elements from all the genres and books and movies that have influenced us.

HNN: Why does “the lone warrior with a sword” resonate so well with fans and how did you decide to place him into a scarecrow’s body?  

Arcudi: The persistent myth of self-reliance, perhaps?  Nobody can really get anything done alone in the modern world, right?  Creators depend on fans, executives depend on employees (though many don’t see it that way) so the notion of a time when that might have been possible, when one person could just pick up a sword and make a way in the world is appealing.  Putting that myth inside a weak and frail body was an effort at exploding that myth.  Rathraq is learning humility, while at the same time being (we hope) highly entertaining in his efforts at resisting the reality of his vulnerability.

HNN: The first series featured James Harren as the lead artist and now the reins have been handed over to David Rubin.  How would you describe Rubin’s style in Rumble?

Arcudi: It’s pretty great, how’s that for a description?  David was the only person who I felt could give the book the same level of insanity while maintaining all the action sequences, AND keep the characters real and human.  That right there is a complete comics artist, is what that is.

HNN: The monsters in the series are very atypical and unique in terms of body structure and physical attributes.  Can you describe how you create them with your artist(s)?

Arcudi: David (and James before him) creates them on his own, and I interfere very little.  Rahtraq is really the only “monstrous” character that I had a real hand in.  Sure, maybe the script says “here’s a fish man” but David draws him the way he draws him, and it’s always great.  Rarely do we need to do a second shot at a monster design.

HNN: You’ve had a long history with Hellboy, Abe Sapien, and the BPRD.  Are you excited to see the new film version of the character and some that you created such as Captain Daimo?  

Arcudi: Movie adaptations are so far removed from the creators.  There’s no real connection.  The comics I wrote and the characters I created with Guy, and James, and Laurence, etc., those are enduring to me.

HNN: You have worked on a number of comics based on popular science fiction and horror films. Do you have a favorite series?  Is there a film or television property that you would love to write that you haven’t had the chance to?  

Arcudi: My favorite series has nothing to do with the property, but my collaborator: Richard Corben. We worked together on Aliens: Alchemy, and to get a chance to work with just about the greatest living comics artist was incredible!  It would have been nice if I could have written a better script for him, but that doesn’t take away from the sheer joy and awe of the experience.  He’s a master of the form, and is the reason I was attracted to comics in the first place, so it was literally a dream come true.  Doesn’t happen often.

HNN: Any upcoming projects that we should know about?  

Arcudi: Nothing I can talk about just yet, unfortunately, but there are a few coming soon — maybe summer of 2018?  I’ll let you know.

Rumble #1 (2017) is currently available on your favorite comic book store’s wall rack, as well as the collected editions of the first Image series (Volumes 1-3).

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