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Taking A Bite Out Of Redneck: An Interview With Donny Cates

Written by Tim Midura on Wednesday, April 26 2017 and posted in Features

Taking A Bite Out Of Redneck: An Interview With Donny Cates

On vampires, the South, and surprisingly comics journalism.

Source: Image Comics

Tim: You're a Texan and Redneck takes place in the South. Do you feel you're doing the state proud or are you profiting off of stereotypes?

Donny: (Laughs.) I mean, well, both. East Texas is a place I spent a lot of time growing up in. I don't know if there's any stereotypes, as much as based on real people that I know. Like everyone in the book is based on a real person with that actual name. So, yeah. I don't know if I'm quote unquote doing the state proud, but I guess we'll see.

Tim: Vampires seem to be overused in pop culture now. What does your take do differently?

Donny: That's the thing I disagree with on the jump. I don't know that I'd say they're overused. Certainly that's the chorus of what's being said every time a new vampire thing shows up. Every ten years or so a new vampire something pops up and it's all the rage. Whether it's Blade, Underworld, Dracula, or any of these things. People always say that vampires are played out, but I disagree strongly. I think they're like an evergreen, man. There's endless things you can do with them. Certainly the best vampire stories have always been, they're not really talking about vampires, right? They're talking about something else. They're talking about sex or a marginalized peoples or all kinds of things. With Redneck, I think personally as a vampire nut. We've seen Southern vampires, like True Blood. But even in True Blood, they were really pretty and eloquent. Almost every time you see a vampire, it's either you're really pretty and charming like Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise or you're a crazy monster like in 30 Days Of Night. So what I really like is the idea that these vampires in Redneck are just average, regular people who don't give a shit about being a vampire. They don't know any of the vampire rules. They don't travel in covens. They're just regular people who are trying to get by but they're also vampires. They're not pretty or cool. Or even well-spoken. They're regular people sitting on a porch drinking beer and happen to have a lot more birthdays. I think that's pretty cool.

Tim: What were your influences on the book? I got a From Dusk Til Dawn vibe.

Donny: I had a reviewer ask me a similar thing about what different vampire stories influenced me. It's not based on any vampire stories. The main influences on Redneck are more things like Lonesome Dove and the work of Cormac McCarthy. I don't if the term Western would really be appropriate because that kind of implies a past-tense setting, but the thing is like No Country For Old Men could be considered that. It has more in common with those things than anything else. At the core it shares more DNA with that kind of stuff than any vampire stuff. The overall themes of trying to overcome the sins of the past, one final ride, and a small family in the West being threatened. Those all come from that genre rather than any vampire thing.

Tim: The Bowmans run the local barbecue joint, but I noticed a severe lack of barbecue in the first issue. What's up with that?

Donny: You'll have to wait until the second issue to hear all about that barbecue joint. They talk about it in the first issue. The kid mentioned something about it. To be fair, the book does open on a double page spread of JV, our main dude, slitting a cow's throat. That's certainly the first step in getting barbecue. Then I think Greg, the oldest of the boys, says something along the lines of hanging out at this ranch and smoking ribs isn't the way I want to spend my life. Issue two and moving forward have a lot to do with that barbecue joint. As we start to introduce more of that family and more of the human side, meaning the people that work for the Bowmans kind of come into the center. Issue two is the daytime issue so we introduce the humans that work for them and their role in all this.

Tim: Do you see yourself utilizing the back matter for barbecue recipes?

Donny: Man, that would be fun. The thing is the only downside is that it would start a giant war. I'd be having arguments with people from Memphis, North Carolina about what the best kind of barbecue is. Now that I say that out loud, that shit might be really fun. (Laughs.) Starting a huge flame war in the back of my book. I don't want to step on what the two Jasons are doing on Southern Bastards because they have the Southern recipe thing in the back of their book.

Tim: How did you hook up with Lisandro Estherren, the artist?

Donny: That's one of the coolest things about working with Skybound. This is the first book that I ever pitched where I didn't have an artist attached. Skybound emailed me and said do you have any ideas, we'd like to see you pitch on something. I had been working on Redneck for like a week, so I didn't have anybody attached. I sent the pitch to them and they really liked it. The cool thing about Skybound is that everyone wants to work for Skybound. There's a ton of portfolios that we looked through. By we, my editor Jon [Moisan] and I looked through them. Lisandro stood out to us. He does ugly really beautifully. Like Southern Bastards! That book is gross, but it's gorgeous. It's hard and gritty, and it's done perfect. Lisandro has that same kind of feel in his artwork. Plus, his art is really emotional while having that rawness that can shock you. He stood out to us right away.

Tim: I really enjoyed Bloodweiser as a pun. Do you have any more beer names lined up?

Donny: I wish you'd given me like an hour to think of this so I'd have like nine at the top of my head. Since, you brought it up, I wrestled with that pun for hours, like "Is this too dumb of a pun?" Then I was like that sounds like some shit Bartlett would say. He's a goof troop. Plus it's cow blood and paint thinner. My dream upon dreams is to actually release a San Diego Comic Con six-pack, not that it would be cow blood and paint thinner, but a special beer and put it out.

Tim: You once wrote for Bleeding Cool. Do you recommend using comics journalism to break in?

Donny: Man, I did like one article for Bleeding Cool.

Tim: I looked it up!

Donny: In like 2011 or something. I'll be straight up, I did it because I needed a badge. I needed a badge badly. I was going to those cons to pass out ashcans that I had made for my first comic work. In that respect, I guess it's a good idea. I don't know, man. I'm not a journalist. By the way, I bet Rich [Johnston, lead rumormonger] knows that and I would tell him. Do I think journalism in that respect is a good way to break into comics? No. I think it's really important for our community and our culture to have journalists and reviewers who don't want to break in, so they can be very honest about the work. That is a really important function. Now, if you do it long enough and you can divorce yourself from that to get into writing comics, certainly it has a baseline amount of work that you have in that context. In my experience though, none of that is true. I got the badge and I wrote one article to fulfill my requirements. While at the show, I pitched the ashcans I made to a bunch of publishers. And that worked by getting my foot in the door. So, I don't know. Maybe. But for your specific question, no. (Laughs.)


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About the Author - Tim Midura

Born in the frozen tundra of Massachusetts, Tim Midura has long possessed a love for comic books and records. After stealing the beard of Zeus and inventing the pizza bagel, a much more heavily tattooed and bearded Tim Midura has finally settled in San Diego. He's the world's first comics journalist who doesn't want to become a comics writer. Find him on twitter, facebook or by email.

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