Who is the Man in the Purple Suit? Ken Eppstein does his best to unlock the secrets of the enigmatic RM Rhodes in the newest installment of his Indie-On-Indie Spotlight!
Indie On Indie Spotlight: RM Rhodes
www.starseedcomic.com (Explicit Gay Porn Space Opera. Not suitable for work or kids or small minds. Ya dig?)
Neck of the Woods: Washington D.C.
Personal Stuff: Married with two cats and five purple suits
Day Job: Defense contractor
Years in the Comic Biz: 5
Who is the man in the purple suit? His twitter handle of “Olethros” would lead you to believe that he was a dangerous man if you were savvy to your Greek mythology. A spirit of death and war. A child of dischord. A personification of havoc and mayhem, like that gravelly voiced guy on the insurance commercials.
I guess all that’s possible, but If so, he’s one of the nicer and more well spoken personifications of havoc that I have had the pleasure of chatting with.
Rhodes has been self publishing comics for about five years now, and admirably, pushing the envelope from day one. Nonetheless, by his own grading he is still a neophyte as Rhodes explicitly expressed to me that he is a firm believer that the first five to ten years of any artist’s career are in fact an apprenticeship. I don’t know if I necessarily agree with him or not on that point, at least not to the point of putting an global time frame on the rate at which individual artists mature, but I think that the thought is indicative what I find most impressive about Rhodes He’s thoughtful and reflective about the artistic process of creating art (comics or not) in a way that most other young artists are not without being timid about the opinions he forms.
The most obvious manifestation of this thoughtfulness is, of course, his work itself.
His first major project, Oceanus Procellarum, is a graphic novel series framed around the concept that when any character in the story is faced with the truth, he or she breaks the fourth wall and realizes that he or she is a fictional character. Mindsprung from an unpublished novel, Rhodes cobbled together five volumes of the series by hook or crook. When he was unable to interest conventional comic artists, he enlisted photographers, 3D rendering programs and even paper dolls to get the work illustrated. Right out of the Box, Rhodes created a piece that broke the rules that needed to be broken to get the project accomplished. Pretty far afield from the standard first outing for most young comic creators. (To quote the bar owner from The Blues Brothers “That ain’t no Hank Williams song!”)
That said, I the drift I get from Rhodes is that while he is very artistic, he’s far from high falutin’. He’s as comfortable flipping through his father’s old Heavy metal collection as French asemic texts as taking a scrapbooking class at the local Michaels big box store. Rhodes’ willingness to explore art from the esoteric to the mundane has forged an artist that can and will talk about anything to anybody... And the smarts to hold his own in even esoteric conversation.
This aspect of his personality is part of a lesson that I hope fellow young creators will take from RM Rhodes. What’s impressive to me is that he (at the urge and insistence of his wife, who is a professional in marketing) has become a student of branding, which I consider the hidden art of self publishing. RM Rhodes is “The Man In the Purple Suit” when he tables at conventions and makes public appearances. He owns five different purple suits, his business cards are purple and he gives out free purple nurples to anyone who asks.
OK, I kid about the nurples. But the alter ego definitely gets an “A” for effort in my book. There’s a twisted Gene-Simmonsian logic that can’t be overlooked. Simmons once said that what set Kiss aside as a band in the early days was that they always at least had a banner with the band’s name on it behind them on stage. The Purple Suit is meant to act in the same way, giving Rhodes a little bit of pop from the sea of creators at events.
“I was the man in the purple suit" works better than "I was the guy in the pop culture t-shirt, glasses and Converse All-Stars.”
If I were to offer one piece of advice to Rhodes... Kiss needed the banner because in the tale of the tape, they came up short on musical inspiration. Without the fireworks and make up, Kiss is just another band. Schtick quickly became their driving force in lieu of that talent. Given his seemingly voracious appetite for art and culture, I don’t think lack of ideas and inspiration will be a problem Rhodes’ and I hope that down the road he leaves room being known for the merit of his work as opposed to the "pop" of his gimmick.
RM Rhodes' current project with artist Sarah P is a somewhat more commercial venture, Starseed: a Gay Porn Space Opera. Sure, that seems a little niche, but I can’t imagine anything more commercial than porn, of any variety! The webcomic updates on Tuesday and Thursday and a print version will be debuted at this year’s SPX.
Kara Barrett: The End is Totally Nigh
I supported Kara’s Kickstarter for issue #1 of her demonic possession yarn, “The End is Totally Nigh.” Issue #2 is being released 8/15!
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