August 13, 2014

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SPX Spotlight 2014: Rafer Roberts Will Give You Nightmares (the Rat, that is)

Welcome to another entry in the 2014 SPX Spotlight series!  For the next month, Panel Patter will be highlighting creators and publishers who will be at one of the best conventions, the Small Press Expo.  You can check out all of Panel Patter's spotlights for SPX from both this year and prior years here.

It may be pretentious to say "I knew that creator before he started doing X" but in the case of Rafer Roberts, I'll make an exception.

Long time Panel Patter readers know that I've been reading (and loving) Rafer's work going all the way back to when I first attended SPX, picking up his career-spanning work Plastic Farm back when there was only one trade paperback worth of material (it's now three and counting). In that time, I've seen his art go from being pretty good to absolutely amazing, with intricate line work, Kirby-like touches, and panel layouts that strike to the heart of the story.

An appreciation for Rafer's work is growing, as he got a gallery show in 2012, did multiple guest-spots in anthologies and elsewhere, and then had his name explode as part of a parody comic (with Justin Jordan), Thanos and Darkseid: Carpool Buddies of Doom. Now he's doing backup stories in the anniversary issues of Valiant Comics, alongside veterans of the mainstream comics industry, and it's only a matter of time before he's given a chance to helm a book with a big profile, either as writer or artist (or both).

The thing that makes Rafer's art so good is his ability to give his own spin on concepts used elsewhere. Plastic Farm is a total mind-fuck of a book, as a character spirals into perceived madness, possibly taking others with him. It's the Twilight Zone mixed with some of the most low-brow moments you'll see outside of a Raw comic, and the combination works incredibly well--even if, like me, you're not big on the latter half of the combination.

At the same time, he's equally at home doing 50s B-movie style work (The Dr. Gravely and Billy series, with Sean Frost) or taking on old-school newspaper stylings in Nightmare the Rat, featured in the picture above.

It's Nightmare that will have Roberts' main attention at SPX this year, as he will be putting together a Kickstarter for the property, which will run from one of my other favorite shows, the Baltimore Comic-Con, to the New York City Comic-Con. It's currently serializing on the web right now, where you can learn the story of this horrific creature (who is not, as you might think, based on Mickey Mouse, but a demented animal-thing featured in a Laurel and Hardy movie). You see, Nightmare the Rat likes teeth and takes them anyway he can.

I hear that Rafer might be offering some of these purloined pearly whites, if you're brave enough to take them...

In addition, you can also find Roberts in the Little Nemo anthology, which will be sold at the Locust Moon booth at the show, he'll be lurking in Magic Bullet the free DC Conspiracy-led tabloid comic, and in other comics here and there.

At the show, Rafer will have original art from his books, the trades of Plastic Farm, and other items. If you are a fan of good storytelling and linework that is incredibly detailed (and contains a good poop joke now and again), look him up at the show. You'll be glad you did.

You can find Rafer Roberts on the web here.
You can find more Rafer Roberts-related posts here.