A Chat with Rick, Mac, and Joe (Spring, 2008)
This interview originally appeared in the Spring, 2008 edition of the World Watch One newsletter
. You can find more information about the newsletter under the question Was there an official Buckaroo Banzai
A collection of short interviews with the co-creators/writers of the
Moonstone Comic stories with Buckaroo Banzai: W.D. Richter and Earl
MacRauch as well as Joe Gentile, Moonstone's Editor-in-chief.
By Alan "BBI Dragon" Smith
I traveled through the 8th Dimension, or so I thought, for a virtual
interview with W.D. Richter to chat about, among other
topics, the process of writing for the Moonstone Buckaroo Banzai
As is his nature, I found Rick in his usual humorous mood with the occasional tone of concern over religion and politics.
I was wondering about the writing process for the Moonstone
Comic scripts. Does MacRauch write the bulk of storylines and dialogue
between characters and toss it over to you for input?
Mac gets an idea and writes it in as short a script form as he
can. He sends it to me, and I comment. He takes or leaves my thoughts.
If he leaves them, I ride down to his ranch in Texas, and we have a
fist fight out by the horse trough. Whoever knocks the other into the
trough first gets his ideas in the script. The script is reworked and
sent to Joe Gentile at Moonstone, and he tells us it's too long. Mac
cuts it. I comment. We slug it out again and send the winner's thoughts
to Joe. He "adapts" it into a comic script so that artists can start
the rough drawing. The rough black & whites are sent to Mac and me
simultaneously, and we comment independently, sending each other what
we sent to Joe, who uses what makes sense -- story clarifications, the
look of characters and contraptions and environments, even thoughts
about eventual colors in wardrobe. The artists then take it to the next
step, and we all just keep swapping ideas and looking at the pages as
they evolve into full-color extravaganzas with lettering.
At what stage does Moonstone's editing staff come into the process?
Above should explain this. It's not a "staff".. It's just Joe.
Not really changing the topic, but it might seem that way at first:
Buckaroo Banzai recommended that I read a fascinating new book
called BLACK MASS (Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia) by
I went to Amazon.com and read several reader's reviews on this book.
It does look to be right up your mental alleyway, so to speak, given
our conversations over the last year or two on religion and politics.
I'm curious about a few things: Do you write film scripts using these
I don't think of themes when I write. I think of characters in situations and let their impulses create a narrative.
So your writing of scripts is based on situations. I can rephrase
things...Do the situations you base your script writing on ever venture
into the extreme in politics and/or religious situations for your
I certainly don't pick situations that are thinly disguised themes.
By situations, I mean this person just got dumped by a lover and has
fled the state by bus or a professional killer who'd rather run his own
little bagel shop takes on a hit to pay the rent but winds up falling
hard for his target's best girl and then space aliens abduct all three
of them. THAT's a situation. What they say to each other and how they
deal with it probably is influenced by their "station" in life and
their political beliefs or lack thereof. I write to find out what these
people are going to do.
What situations are interesting enough these days for you to spend
your time writing scripts about, without giving out any secrets that is?
Just ordinary people muddling through an extreme world.
When talking with W.D. Richter you can't help but pop into religion and
politics. It's a welcome topic and the man is not without his passions,
concerns, and valid perspectives.
What are your thoughts on the current presidential candidates?
The point is to stop McCain, who's a fruitcake; he actually thinks
that, "My friends, we're WINNING in Iraq." It's one thing to WANT to
win (whatever that might mean), but to think you actually are when
you're not? Just the kind of delusional (that word again) brain we need
at the controls again. Hillary is one half of a pretty disturbed
relationship, and we'd get the whole thing if she got elected. Time's
running out for this country. China and Europe and even Latin America
are all getting their shit together. We need to rejoin the world and
energize America's youth. Obama. Not that he's perfect. But I think
he's BY FAR the best of the group.
Back to the Banzai
Is there anything happening in the Banzai Universe beyond the next series from Moonstone?
Maybe. Can't say yet. Could turn into nothing. Might not. Might be something.
Earl MacRauch – Writer
In the short interview I've done with Rick, he gets his pokes in
about politics and the Bush administration. If you have something you'd
like to say, here is your opportunity as well.
Rick and I trade a lot of e-mails about politics. We
both loathe Bush/Cheney for trashing this country and everything it
supposedly stands for, but I don't think either of us has any illusions
that it's just those two guys or even the Republican Party that's the
problem, because the real problem is systemic. Democracy is just a
charade when all the candidates need money from the same people to get
elected. This country really needs more choices, but that won't happen
with the corporate power bloc and their mouthpiece media standing in
the way. Anyone who gets very far out of line from the official
political orthodoxy in this country--low taxes, big war, etc.--gets
pounced on and beaten up pretty quickly. If a candidate wants to get on
TV, he or she has to move to the right.
Having said that, we both back Obama, if for no other reason than the
fact that he's got half a million ordinary people who send him money.
With that kind of base, he can be a little more independent of big money, even say 'screw you' to some of the
usual lobbies. He can, but I don't know if he will, assuming he's
nominated and elected...still very much an open question.
The truth is, no matter who's President, America is in eclipse, and
nothing's going to change that. Global power is moving east, out of the
white man's hands, which is probably just as well. It won't happen
overnight, but it's happening.
From your side of things, how do you feel about the process of writing for Moonstone?
Joe at Moonstone has been easy to work with and very supportive.
It just takes a long time to draw and produce a comic and there are
several in the pipeline being worked on simultaneously. What's cool,
and also a little weird, is to see how each artist has a different
take. Buckaroo and the characters all look slightly (or a lot)
different in each comic. I'm sure as the process goes on things will
become a little more standardized, but right now it reminds me of
looking at Walt Disney's rough drafts of Mickey Mouse from the 1930s.
And we all know what happened to Mickey Mouse, what a miserable failure
he was. It's all just part of the process. Hopefully, people will find
the results worth the wait.
Do you have other writing projects you work on, hobbies, something to pass the times?
I'm writing a script and a Buckaroo novel, but probably spending
more time reading than writing. Lately, I'm in love with Charlotte
Bronte. God, she's great. The absolute bomb. Everybody reads "Jane
Eyre" in high school, but I just finished "Villette"...amazing, such
texture and deep characters and just great writing. Maybe we should
have a BB book club.
As for hobbies, I make really hot mix tapes. I mean smokin' hot: rock,
hip-hop, salsa, you name it, all thrown together in a sound soup
guaranteed to please. If my mix tapes don't make you jive, you ain't
alive. Send $1 for postage and handling and if you're not satisfied, go
ask your mama...
My last kid leaves for college this fall, so I should have a little
more time to write, or maybe just put the cans on and be my bad self.
Joe Gentile with Moonstone Comics
From your perspective on the writing and creation process
for the BB Moonstone Comic, when Mac and Rick send you scripts, what
happens with them?
What happens to them…well, first I read them and enjoy! Still a
huge BB fan at heart, so it’s still thrilling to be reading new
adventures from the main man Mac!
After that, the truth of the matter sets in. Mac basically writes me a
screen play which I have to adapt into comic format. It sounds quite
simple, but is extremely time consuming. Movies and comics are close
cousins, but not identical! We also have this on-going amusement of
trying to figure out how many comic pages it will take to tell his new
You know, for a screenwriter, it’s all about “how many pages equals how many minutes,” but for comics…its not like that at all.
What could take just two sentences to say in a screenplay (i.e. “Banzai
looks at Tommy with a wry smile, jumps off his horse, kisses the bikini
babe with a big sweeping smooch, waves to his fans, and then gets into
his waiting limo because the president just called”…this takes 2 lines
in a screenplay, but easily takes more than one comic page to properly
portray. So, with Mac and I, it’s been a little give and take, because
even though I may want a 22 page comic story from him, what he sends me
may be a lot more than that…or a lot less…
Your expansion clarifies the basic writing challenges between the two formats very well.
When a writer is working directly on a comic script, it must be a much
more condensed style. It is wonderful that Moonstone has saddled up
with Mac and Rick who are script and book authors, but one can't wonder
if taking "Writing for Comics 101" could be helpful for everyone
Thanks for everything! We DO try our best, and hopefully we succeed
more than we fail…but always know that we love these characters and are
trying to do right by them.
Rick and Mac…you really couldn’t ask for better licensors or creators…what great guys…genuinely.
Changing the subject just a little
Everyone has their story, their introduction to Buckaroo Banzai and Team Banzai. Please tell us yours.
I just walked into the theatre to see the film when it came out…It
called to me, like a siren on a lonely beach…It was like a modern day
pulp adventure…and as a HUGE fan of the Shadow, Doc, the Spider, and
the Avenger, man was I pumped for it! There were, sadly, just a handful
of us in the theatre, but we all loved it!
There was mention a while back of another project, a Buckaroo Banzai
Encyclopedia. From what I recall, this tidbit might have been announced
before all the ducks had been put in a row. Is there any news on such a
No news, sadly…
How is progress with OF HUNAN BONDAGE coming?
ACH! Running a little late…but almost there!
Joe want everyone to know that they still have a supply of “Return of
the Screw” Issues #1,2,3, as well as these fine products at:
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