Conversations with Creators is a collaborative interview series designed to understand the processes and inner workings of the artist, their creations, and how their work impacts the comic booking industry. Each meeting is candid and personal, seeking to explore previously unexplored avenues of insight.
Kevin Rubio is the creator of Dark Horse Comic’s Tag and Bink Are Dead and the Star Wars viral fan film, TROOPS, inspired by the hit television show COPS. He is a writer and producer for Warner Bros and still making comics.
Stuart Warren: Well I thought I’d let you know that this is a part of a new series at Sequart Organization that I’m trying to get off the ground.
Kevin Rubio: Okee-Dookie.
Stuart Warren: I’m calling it “between two ash trays.” A creator meet and greet.
Kevin Rubio: But I don’t smoke.
Stuart Warren: Haha.
Stuart Warren: Neither do I. The name is a work in progress.
Kevin Rubio: Ok.
Stuart Warren: I guess my first question for you is what brought you to be a writer?
Kevin Rubio: It was the only thing paying at the time.
Stuart Warren: The comics industry is one of those industries where people get in because they get lucky.
Kevin Rubio: I too was “lucky” in that area.
Kevin Rubio: Also, so far, nobody wants to pay me to be a gigaloo. But I keep hoping.
Stuart Warren: What was your first project? The one that got you your “big break?”
Kevin Rubio: My first “big break” project, was a self-financed short called TROOPS that I wrote directed and co-produced in 97′
Stuart Warren: That was the COPS spoof right? Situated in the Star Wars universe?
Kevin Rubio: Yes. It was the TV show COPS in the Star Wars Universe.
Stuart Warren: I watched that as a kid.
Kevin Rubio: Thanks. That didn’t make me feel old at all.
Stuart Warren: Haha. I liked that the project wasn’t just something to add to the fanfare, though. It was an Apocrypha to the Universe, an attempt to make sense of it. Was that your intension? Or were you playing with “what if” scenarios?
Kevin Rubio: It seemed to just evolve into that, yes. But it was more a creation out of necessity – i.e. what do I have at my disposal that I can do for under $2000. People tend to attach more meaning to it than there is, or make it cleverer than I had intended. And I’m okay with that.
Stuart Warren: Was this a vanity project? Or were you in school?
Kevin Rubio: This was a project that was designed to get me work. If I had put myself in front of the camera, then it would have been a vanity project. It was also something I wanted to have fun doing. Especially if I was going to put so much time, effort and my own cash.
Stuart Warren: Yeah, a friend of mine recreated the chase scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, for the same reason. Now he’s working at Panavision. So you were on to something.
Kevin Rubio: He was just in the right place at the right time, likely.
Stuart Warren: So this was when Lucas Arts contacted you? Or did Dark Horse get wind of it and pick you up?
Kevin Rubio: Dark Horse contacted me about a year after the films initial showing, when I was working as a writer/producer at Warner Bros.
Stuart Warren: Oh really? What were you doing there?
Stuart Warren: So did you ever work with Bruce Timm?
Kevin Rubio: Yup. And Alan and Paul and Dwayne, also Jim Krieg.
Kevin Rubio: I was also a writer on Green Lantern: The Animated Series.
Stuart Warren: I actually just started watching that. I’ve noticed the trend of writing for multiple audiences in these shows; a child audience and an adult fan base, initiated into the mythos.
Kevin Rubio: Well, when you’re writing for a “super-hero” show, you’re really only concerned about boys 8-11… Or at least that’s the networks’ concern.
Stuart Warren: Do you think the writers go along with that? Or do they have fun with the source material as well?
Kevin Rubio: Depends on the show. Sometimes you’re allowed to have fun and elevate the material. Sometimes, you’re just banging it out for the check.
Stuart Warren: Other than DC comics, your home territory is Star Wars. Were you reading the comics and expanded universe novels growing up?
Kevin Rubio: The only EU I read was Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. I read all the movie novel adaptations. Ep IV-VI
Stuart Warren: Did they get you thinking about what would become Tag & Bink? That is, trying to understand certain plot holes or inconsistencies left in the cinematic universe?
Kevin Rubio: No. Tag & Bink came out of a desire on Dark Horse’s part for me to do a “TROOPS-like” story, and me meeting them half way. One of my writing partners Seven DeSouza had once remarked how much TROOPS was like Rosencrantz & Guildenstern, so that’s what I pitched to Dark Horse: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern in the Star Wars Universe, even going so far as to rip-off the title.
Stuart Warren: It was a good tie-in. I mean, me, Mr. English major got a lot of the quips and puns.
Kevin Rubio: I researched a lot. I wanted to be faithful to both ideas – Stoppard and Lucas
Stuart Warren: Reading Tag & Bink sort of got me thinking about revisionism in the comics/scifi world. With the new Star Wars films coming out they have a great opportunity to “re-write” some key details that would make the world more cohesive, but at the same time make the whole Expanded Universe negated.
Stuart Warren: Star Wars to me has always been sort of special in that it wasn’t defined, that anything could happen.
Kevin Rubio: Well, my feeling is: “It is, what it is.” You either accept it with all its flaws or you don’t. Unless of course if you’re George. Then you can go back and “correct” all of the “flaws.” But I also feel that they are his films. If he wants to “fix them,” well Mazel Tov.
Stuart Warren: I take it you didn’t like the BluRay re-releases?
Kevin Rubio: Not particularly, but I own them. I also have copies of the unaltered films.
Stuart Warren: The VHS?
Kevin Rubio: DVD
Stuart Warren: Wow, I didn’t think they had the original scans on digital format.
Kevin Rubio: Not in 1:2:35, but in 1:1.85. They were “bonus material” on one particular release. I also have copies that are transfers from the laser-disc. Those are in 1:2.35
Stuart Warren: For those who may not be well versed in the ratios, these are referring to ratio aspect of the original release?
Kevin Rubio: Yes.
Stuart Warren: I saw that you were 10 years old when A New Hope was in theatrical release. As a child, what was it like seeing that for the first time?
Kevin Rubio: In all honesty, I can’t remember much about the first time I saw it. I can only remember my father remarking that he had not seen a line for a movie this long since The Exorcist.
Stuart Warren: Haha!
Kevin Rubio: But by the time my birthday rolled around 6 months later, I knew everything there was to know about the film.
Stuart Warren: Did anything stand out more so than others?
Kevin Rubio: How so?
Stuart Warren: Being that the movie was the birth of special effects, was there a particular scene that “changed” your life?
Kevin Rubio: Well in point of fact, Le Voyage dans la lune (1902) was “the birth of special effects.” But I think it was just the overall experience, both the film and the public reaction. It was playing in theaters for over a year. That doesn’t happen anymore.
Stuart Warren: Jesus…
Kevin Rubio: And this film, more than any, changed the way Hollywood makes movies. There’s B.S.W and A.S.W. on the calendar, when it comes to Star Wars. As my friend Rorbert Meyer Burnett is found of Jokingly saying: “It was our Vietnam.”
Stuart Warren: How so?
Kevin Rubio: How so…? That could take a while… But off the top of my head: Tentpole pictures, Merchandising, Franchise Filmmaking, the way we edit film, the way we shoot film (now not even film) Pixar, Photoshop, Home theaters – all off-shoots of Star Wars
Stuart Warren: I see what you mean. Well, in the tradition of interviews, I ought to ask you the coup de grace.
Kevin Rubio: No. I’m not gay
Stuart Warren: Haha! No, seriously. When you get to the pearly gates and see Luke Skywalker handing you your own lightsaber what will you say?
Kevin Rubio: No Thanks. I already have one.
Stuart Warren: Mr. Rubio it has been a pleasure. Thank you for your time, and your work in the industry.