INTERVIEW with the Actual Roger creator, Hank Tucker!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’ve been in animation for 40 years starting at Filmfair – a commercial house in Studio City in ’74 – first packing artwork in boxes then eventually animating. When studios began outsourcing animation i decided to move into storyboarding. Art Vitello (one of the best TV animation producer/directors of the 80’s-’90’s) who I’d befriended at Bakshi’s on Lord of The Rings, recommended me to John Dorman at Ruby /Spears who hired me onto Thundarr the Barbarian. A priceless intro: I was 23 working with Jack Kirby, Doug Wildy, Steve Gerber and Jim Woodring (!) Since then I’ve boarded on many feature and TV projects as well as produced and directed a few shows, including (my favorite) two of the three seasons of The Tick animated series for Fox, another gig Art V. recommended me for after directing over half of the first season himself.
How long have you been creating comics?
The day I began Roger was the day I began doing comics. I had some preconceptions about them based on childhood heroes like Kurt Swann, Mort Drucker, Jack Davis and Charles Schulz and I just threw myself into it, occasionally glancing at people like McFarlane and Miller for a “Oh! You can do that too?” lesson or two.
Tell us about “The Actual Roger”. What’s the story about?
The Actual Roger is about a kid whose one time dream of being a superhero not only becomes real but a DUTY, forced on him by a state that demands anybody “super” be registered…and be “heroic”. The conceit is that nobody with super powers would be allowed to just run around un-monitored, but would be forced by law to be heroic. Just like a doctor is legally forbidden to let a guy choke to death at a restaurant (fortunately). They could at least be sued. But the state here is also answerable to a fickle media and public waiting to reward and punish “bad guys” and “good guys”. “Compulsory” heroism! If you’re anything less than heroic when somebody’s iPhone or a web cam or security cam is rolling, you could be in for a social and/or legal nightmare. Roger and his super “mentor” Magnanino have to be PERFECT. This is a pain for them – always being watched – and hopefully a crack-up for us.
How did the idea of the story come to you?
It started with a dream I had when I was nine (Roger’s age); the second most realistic dream I’ve ever had: I was laying on the floor – just like Rog – pushed up and began flying around the house a foot and half high. Years later I wanted to do something light and silly with superheroes and I remembered the dream. Many superhero parodies start with a half-super or not-super fop; a guy who doesn’t realize how challenged he is physically, intellectually or morally (Daffy Duck syndrome). But I thought, what about a guy who knows EXACTLY how un-super he is yet ends up in the spotlight forced to perform anyway. They’d wanna be anywhere else. To me this was funny. “You ‘re ON Rog! Stop that monster! You ‘re super for crying out loud!” My other super realistic dream was I “woke up ” with an arm growing out of my back but I couldn’t think of a series to go with it, though…
Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?
I criticize myself…very gently and always couched in praise. And I still hate myself. My primary editing is waking up at 4:00 AM shouting, “Crap! That makes NO f-Ing sense!!”
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I always start as a plotter; a fearful, meticulous, borderline-neurotic one. Then I start drawing. At which point most of that plotting falls apart or bores me stiff and goes out the window. I guess that makes me a Werepantser. Bill Scott and Jay Ward (also heroes of mine) had to put signs up saying “Don’t forget: plot , plot, plot!” I agree plot is important to comedy, too. But what a drag! Even the word sounds like something wet hitting the floor: “Plot!”
What’s the hardest part of creating comics for you?
Oh, just staying in the chair. I’m 58. My back! After that, it’s trying to keep to a plan of where I’m headed story wise and not get mesmerized by every Tom, Dick or Gordon joke that pops up. “Stay the course !” that sour-ball in my head keeps nagging, “and stay in your chair!”
What do you absolutely have to have nearby when creating?
Coffee, I phone, IPad, Hershey bar, money, Ranch nacho chips, um…did I say coffee?
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
Soon after that childhood flying dream I discovered I had acrophobia. That was about the end of my desire for any particular superpower. By now it’s mostly case by case: I stub my toe I wish I was invulnerable; lid’s too tight on the peanut butter I wish I had super strength; stuck in traffic I wish I was The Rhino, etc.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve googled?
The history of psychosurgery. I was doing a spec script about it a few years ago and it seemed just fascinating! Couldn’t get enough info. But people – my wife – kept saying it was weird me watching brain surgeries and lobotomies all day. I finally took their word for it. I mean, if EVERYBODY says it’s weird, then that’s the measure of weird.
Finish this sentence: If I’m not writing, I’m probably …
Punishing myself for it or eating.
Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you.
Listen , there are tons of people but to narrow it down : my Wife (Ginny) and my kids; Art Vitello – still there for support, info and a kind word – and my understanding publisher at Alterna, Peter Simeti.
And finally, where can people find you and your book online?”
I’m on Twitter (@HTucker007 and my other account: @8_Tucker ) and LinkedIn for now. And my books are on Comixology
Just type a search for The Actual Roger