Junkyard crime nior cover for true crime comic, She's Running On Fumes
Episode: Pint O’ Comics Episode 324 w/ Dennis Hopeless


May 9, 2024

Episode: Pint O’ Comics Episode 324 w/ Dennis Hopeless – Find their website here!

With my newest series “She’s Running on Fumes” releasing I’ve been speaking about it’s true(ish) crime themes. Most recently I spoke with Pint O’ Comcis! I enjoyed speaking with them and hope to work with them again in the future!

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Jack o’Lennon’s got the flick. Had big Saturday. It’s a lighter day. Monday’s a better day. It’s fed up, lighter day.

Somebody get me a beer. It’s a slop in my ear. I don’t mind rocking out when all my friends are here. Monday don’t begin till the Sunday night ends. So meet me at the straddle pad, bring me a friend that says, hey, Dave.

Oh, hey. We’re hanging on to the sun, days, Sundays. All Alright. Welcome back again there, finite comics listeners. This is, of course, finite comics.

I’m your host, sir John here on WESU 88.1 f m on the dial, w e s u f m dot o r g. Although, I’m thinking of changing that. It’s just gonna be w e s u f m dot org or orge. Maybe orge, just like gif instead of gif or all that. Anyway, moving on.

Moving on. As always, I have a first time guest here on Pinta Comics. It is the writer Dennis Hopeless, and he has a new comic series out that I am really into. I really, really enjoyed it, and, I’m only halfway through it, unfortunately, but, I’m looking forward to the rest of it. Dennis, welcome to the show.

It is, great to have you on. I always like these first time guests that we can talk about all kinds of fun comic books. How are you tonight? Doing well. Thanks for having me.

Excellent. Excellent. Dennis, just to break the ice here and get us, right into the show, would you mind introducing all the listeners to what you do and what the new comic is that we’re gonna be talking about? Yeah. I’m probably best known for my long run at Marvel.

I did a lot of, X Men books. I did pregnant Spider Woman. It’s probably the thing I’m the best known for there. I did, yeah, for about 10 years in the in the 2020 tens. I was, mainstay at Marvel.

And in these last few years, I’ve shifted over to doing more creator own work. And the book I’m here to talk about the one you were mentioning She’s Running on Fumes is my new comiXology book, which is a crime story. It’s a truest crime story based on my real life parents. So, yeah, that’s part of why I was interested in talking to you about this. I mean, first off, the artist on it is Tyler Jenkins, and Tyler is somebody I’ve followed around from book to book to book.

I love his art. I love everything he does. So seeing this again, it just, added to the whole design of what you’re doing here, but, semi autobiographical, I guess, or, or, you know, I’m not sure how much Yeah. Family biographical. It’s so it’s based on well worn family stories that I was told about my parents from when I like, in the book, I’m 3.

So it’s stuff that I was told that I lived through, but I was so young I don’t remember. And as I got older, the details of those stories started to get darker and weirder, and I realized, oh, when I was little, my dad was a criminal. And so I always wanted to figure out a way to write that story, but it’s difficult to do true crime when in in that way. So what I ended up doing is fictionalizing the story to make it more interesting and exciting and criminal, but used all of the weird details and real life family stuff, and my parents’ relationship at the time in order to do that. So it’s I call it, like, a 60% true story, that we, you know, we the the plot in the crime stuff is all, fictionalized, But, the characters, the family drama, all that stuff is real.

Oh, wow. Okay. Alright. So that’s an interesting, split, especially after having just finished reading the first three issues. And, it’s really fresh in my brain, and and I’m I’m thinking about everything.

I’m like, oh, okay. So so so that’s not real, but this is that’s that just changes the whole aspect of the comic. And I will say this, it’s an excellent read. I really enjoyed it. I’m I’m looking forward to the next few issues.

How how many, is it altogether? 6. 6 issues. They’re not all they’re they’re all a little extra long because you can kinda do whatever you want in digital. So it’s longer than 6 issues worth of pages, but it’s broken up into 6 installments.

Okay. And this is Comixology Originals, which, we’ve covered on this show a few times before. Most of the books or I’m I’m gonna say this. All of the comic solid original books that I’ve been introduced to have been exceptionally good reads with beautiful art. How did you get involved with this?

So Tyler and I, are friends. We we were both at Boom Studios at the same time when he was doing Grass Kings there. I was doing the weird WWE book for a long time. And so we’d see each other at conventions just like setting up at the Boom booth. And, Tyler had me and some other, creators out to Canada to talk to his, art students.

He teaches, illustration course, and I met him, hung out, became good buddies. And then, when I decided I was gonna do this book in earnest, it’s been some it’s something that I’ve had on the back burner for, like, a decade trying to figure out how to tell the story. And when COVID happened and the industry shut down, I had time. So I finally got the pitch together and and kinda got a plot outline written up, and I sent it to Tyler just because I knew he’d like it. Like, hey.

This is right up your alley. This is kinda similar to GrassKings. What do you think? And when we got on the phone, it just, like, did you send this to me because you knew I’d be the perfect artist for it, or do you really wanna know what I think? So I kinda got Tyler on board without even trying.

And then that’s I’m very collaborative when I have someone that I’m I’m working for and trying to get script for and someone else to bounce ideas off of, it’s way easier for me to get the work done. So once Tyler was on board and I knew Hillary was gonna come on and do her beautiful watercolors, it became, alright. Let’s figure out how to do this thing. And, it was a weird time. It was in the middle of, lockdown when we were pitching it around, and publishers were kinda not knowing what was gonna happen.

And so we got a lot of I love this, but not right now. And I I reached out to, Chip Bossier, who used to be the head of Commercology at the time, and he immediately like, as soon as I told him what was about, he was in. And I I sent him the pitch, and he immediately wrote back and said, yes. Let’s do it. So it was more the enthusiasm and the fact that Comixology was willing to give me a budget that allowed me to pay the team real rates.

I was on board. Oh, but it was just a matter of making it. Yeah. And and, of course, with something like this, how long did it take to, get it to publication? I mean, it you you said, you started it during COVID, but, it’s it’s coming out now also.

Yeah. So it took almost 4 years, three and a half years. Tyler had multiple other things on his plate, so I got it all written relatively quickly. And then he drew Tyler’s very fast, but he has a lot of work to do. So he was finishing up one book initially and kinda doing designs and getting ready to go, and then he rocketed through the first two or three issues.

And then he had another book came up that he had to do. So we were kinda just waiting on Tyler to get free to get it all done. And Comixology is very smart. They don’t put the book out till everything is completely done, so you never have to worry about that next issue coming up. So, yeah, it it took a while.

I I I made this book around the same time that I made, Heart Eyes, a horror book I made with, Victor Evanes, and that came out over a year and a half ago. So it just it took a while to get She’s Running done, but absolutely worth the worth the wait. I’m really, really happy with it. Yeah. It’s, it’s really well, I mean, as I said, Tyler Jenkins is, is a real draw for me.

So it’s and it’s unusual for I’m a writer guy. I I like to follow the writers around from place to place to place. So for for an artist to draw me in, I knew of you, but I don’t know. Apparently, I’m one of those zeroes that just never got a chance to read any of your Marvel books or anything like that or just missed out on, any of the other works that you were into. Grass Kings was a huge I love that book.

It’s just an amazing title. So if you were there at the same time, I I was probably just being overshadowed by, everything that was being done with Grass Kings. His work really makes this book come alive. I mean, there are pages I I I crammed these 3 issues in this afternoon, and I had to go back and look at the art and and get those bigger panels and expand it out on the on the computer and everything. So I can only imagine what it was like for you when you got these pages back, and to see the work.

I mean, I can barely get the pages, do you? You get the digital images, don’t you? Yeah. And it’s a, you know, it’s a little bit weird because it is about my family. So, like, the reference that I sent was, like, photo albums from the eighties that I sent in until I was working from.

So seeing your family members, you know, like, designed by an artist, is an odd thing, but he absolutely nailed that. And then, you know, the the area of Southern Missouri where the story takes place is very, like, destitute. Nobody there has any money. Everything is rusted and sun baked and and just looks like like it’s dying. And he absolutely captured the, like, the both the poverty and and desperation of that place, but also the beauty of it.

Like, the fact that it’s just this land that’s sitting there baking in the sun, and people have kind of carved their little niche into it, but but the wild wilderness is still there. Absolutely nailed it. It was exactly what I needed for the book. And I like I said, when I sent it to him, I I was kinda gonna sheep up, so he asked if he was interested because I knew he was busy. So the I never thought of it with it.

I I hoped I could get him, and he said yes before I asked. So, yeah, he and Hillary as a team were exactly what I wanted for this. So it’s I couldn’t be happier. It’s so beautiful. Yeah.

In the case of this, where he’s creating these images of your family members, I mean, are you giving him, other than the the photo, references, are you giving him specific just descriptions and, and how how is it when you when you write a script for him? How detailed do you get into it? I try I always make it very clear with artists. I want you to bring you to this. Like, if you have a different way to do this or a better idea, absolutely.

Like, I’m not I’m not trying to direct you. But I want you to see what I see in my head so you can take that and run with it. And the best collaborations I’ve ever had have been people who Read what I wrote see that movie that I have in my head and then adapt it to their own style and their own thing and Tyler is absolutely that guy like he took everything I was saying and the photo reference. And, you know, the people don’t look one to one exactly like my family members in the photos. He he sort of cast it.

But, yeah, he was able to nail that world, and it felt very lived in and desperate and, like, everything it needed to be. And, yeah, I I always want my collaborators to bring their half of it because we’re always, you know, we’re always better than the sum of our parts. So it I don’t nail it down. I just tell you with as much fun detail as I can what I’m thinking and then and then let them go. Well, you must have been impressed because, it’s it’s definitely a beautiful looking book.

It’s a it’s a harsh harsh story, I think, is probably the best way. The nicest and the most genial way I could put it. It’s very harsh, but it’s good. I mean, it’s it’s capturing. It’s got me invested into the characters and invested into, where things go, from, I I I guess, issue to issue to issue.

I I’m I’m in. I’m in like Flynn, so I I can’t wait to see where it goes. Oh, no. It’s it’s awesome. The very first issue got me.

I I love the way you conclude each chapter. It’s just it’s not a cliffhanger so much, but it’s it’s like it’s a definite solid period to a statement being said, and I I really dig that. It’s just it’s a cool way to conclude a finite chapter. Yeah. Thank you.

I appreciate that. Yeah. But, you know, my career, I didn’t do that much creator owned work before I got in at Marvel. I I I got in at Marvel on the strength of things that weren’t actually going to be published for a variety of reasons. I just lied about when the publication dates were in order to get in the door.

And then Okay. Marvel kept me busy for a decade. So I did a couple of creator owned books and then a whole bunch of superheroes. And this was really my first foray into the kind of story that I wanna tell where I don’t have to put 10 pages of punching and spandex in the middle of it. So it was fun, structurally to be able to, like, lean into those character moments and, like, have the the ending that’s not, yeah, like a superhero cliffhanger.

But, you know, this is this is the little poem that is this issue, and it furthers the story along. But, like, you know, it’s got a beginning, middle, and end in and of itself. And it was it was interesting to find that version of me as a writer. I’ve always said that I I feel like I got off at the wrong floor of the writer’s building. And, like, I’ve I’ve always been a guy that wanted to to tell little human character stories, but I had to do it with Spider Woman or x men characters and bad guys to punch.

So it was fun to be to not have to put a fist fight in every issue. And there’s this fight in it, but it’s not every issue. Half the issue is punching, which is which was really nice. Yeah. I I I did like the, the first date portion of, I think it was issue 2 with, Tom Petty being there.

That was, quite the tale. And the things like so the things like that, the little details are all real. Like, there’s stuff in there you’d be like, where did I come up with this? I I didn’t that really happened. So, like, the snakes and Tom Petty and those things really happened.

I just sort of reorganized them, and then, like I said, yeah, intensified the crime plot to make it more salacious. The other thing is the characters that are not my family members, I had to fictionalize. So they’re a combination of people or a made up person that the thing because I obviously don’t have permission to use real life people, so that’s fictionalized. But my family, I try to get as as real and raw, as possible. No.

There’s a villain within my family in this, which was really important to me. There’s a way to look at it where my dad’s a villain, but I think it’s more just a really awful situation and 2 people who are very young going through a thing that they don’t know how to deal with and making mistakes. I don’t think I could have written this before now. Like, I I needed to be a middle aged man who went through a divorce and is trying to figure out how to parent, messing it up every day in order to see my characters. My parents is as, like, young people who are trying and and screwing up as opposed to, you know, like, good or evil or whatever.

So I I really tried to to find that place where, like, you you get these people who screwed up, but they’re really trying. They’re not. Yeah. They do. They just are.

So that was the goal. It’s funny too. I I mentioned this to a number of people and and many of my friends too. The the the characters that I’m more interested in now in in this point of my life are those that are not not broken necessarily, but, damaged in some way or or they’re they’re just they’re not squeaky clean. It’s not the white hat and the black hat.

It’s there’s a lot of stuff that people are dealing with, and and I just like, it’s that shades of gray, I guess. But Right. I just try to bring that nuance to the villains in my Marvel stories because I don’t understand mustache twirling evil. Like, there are obviously evil deeds and a handful of evil people, but most people are just doing the thing to get theirs and they feel justified five for whatever reason they’ve got in their own head. So if you could find that, like, what is the version of reality where this person’s the hero and then have them living there while everyone else is living elsewhere, you can find that nuance.

And, that’s definitely what I tried to do here, but I’ve always tried to bring that because it’s hard to relate to someone who’s just happy to be evil. Like, the brotherhood of evil mutants doesn’t make sense as a concept because who would wanna join that? Right? Like, no. The the system’s corrupt, and we have to do this because otherwise, we’re gonna be under the boot.

Like, that’s that’s why you break the law, not because it’s fun to be evil. So yeah. Like, I I like that nuance. It’s it’s interesting. It it always makes me think, I’m not sure if you ever saw it, but there was an episode of the animated Justice League series where Flash and Lex Luthor swap bodies and Flash is in Lex’s body, and he’s leaving the bathroom of the legion of evil superheroes or whatever they are.

And one of the guys says, hey, Lex, you’re not gonna wash your hands. And he goes, no, because I’m evil. Yeah. It’s it’s not relatable at all. Right?

Yeah. I thought it’s, I think it was a a TikTok interview with somebody, but the guy that had been diagnosed as, narcissistic personality disorder. And he said once he realized that everybody else in the world isn’t lying to everyone all the time in order to get theirs, it gave him new perspective on every relationship in his life because he just assumed that everybody else’s brain worked the same. So he was that was the game he was playing because he thought everybody else was. So even these, like, you know, evil narcissists, they’re not.

They just don’t get that not everyone’s wired that way. Right? And that’s Lex. So, yeah, I I I that nuance is what’s the most interesting to me, and I love it. TV shows do a good job of it sometimes because they have more runway where you’ll be introduced to a character and they seem sympathetic, and then a little bit later, you see the worst thing they ever did or vice versa.

Like, in the first couple episodes, someone is a monster who’s cheating on their husband. Terrible. And then you see, oh, actually, their life is awful, and they were, you know, they were driven to this, and and they have a redemption arc. That’s more interesting to me than, you know, just black punching white. It’s not as much fun.

Yeah. It’s it’s just the, I think, the depth of storytelling as, the the genres have moved on or or, the methods of telling the stories have moved on. I mean, the old movies, you know, the old, western films with with literally the the white and black hats. It’s it doesn’t work anymore. It doesn’t work.

We’re we’re more sophisticated as an audience. So it’s, just a little bit larger than that. This is really gone off into the weeds here. It’s always fun. That’s that’s that’s what I that’s what this little show is all about, having their having fun with it.

It is how my ADHD battled brain works anyway, so you could have had a very structured think plan, and I still would have taken you off into some weird Rick. You you asked me no. That’s fine. People ask me all the time. Do do you structure the show?

Like, yeah. Sure. I have, I have the guest on. I have a microphone. That’s the structure.

Because even even if I had anything laid out this is this is something that has always happened to me. If I have something formulaic and laid out and and outlined and everything, it never follows the the outline. It never follows the track. It’s just it’s always gonna hop off and do its own thing and, I like it. Yeah.

I mean, I I so I was trained in public speaking from small comic conventions. And oftentimes, you’re asked to do a panel. And after they send the email to ask you, that was the last time anybody thought about that panel. So you’re given an hour to talk to a room of 8 to 50 people about whatever. And I I remember one in, Michigan one time where the moderator didn’t show up, but, like, weirdly, several people did.

So I just told the plot of the sixties Disney movie, the Nomobile from start to finish because I used to be my con trick. It’s like, this is the weirdest movie I’ve ever seen, and I told the whole thing. And, yeah, those kinds of conversations are fun for me. Panels to me are the are the strangest things, to come out of comic book, well, the the whole fandom. I mean, sitting in a room, watching a bunch of people up on stage, talk about whatever the topic is at any given point, which rarely ever follows the topic that’s given.

But, yeah. Because, again, it’s an email that’s sent and then nobody thinks about it. And, you know, at the big shows, it’s Spider Man, and then it’s just a bunch of it’s a giant room full of people who wanna know about the Spider Man movie, or they wanna know about, like, the biggest event comic that’s about to come up. So if you’re just writing Spider Woman, you sit there the whole time, and then occasionally you’ll get you have to pitch the next arc of your book and then sit there silently while someone else answers questions. And then it’s yeah.

The smaller shows, it’s like, well, these 5 people wandered in because there’s chairs, and now we’re gonna give you an hour to talk about whatever. So it’s it’s a fun way to learn how to do public speaking and how to be the guy that answers your question quickly and then can make jokes that make other people’s answers more funny. Mhmm. But, yeah. I anyway, this is my brain works for sure.

Yeah. Well, that’s great. Well, welcome to Pieda Comics because that’s pretty much how the show works. Right? Yeah.

So, as I said earlier, I was like, this this show is not a a q and a thing. It’s more of a disc discussion based thing, but I was, like, hammering you with questions in the beginning. And I have to wonder sometimes if, if I’m really following suit with what I what I’m saying, but you never know. Let let’s talk about, the Comixology a little bit here. It’s, it’s an interesting operation.

At this point now, it’s solely owned by Amazon, if I remember correctly. Yeah. And these comics that they’re putting out, I cannot stress enough to the listeners that, these comics are really, really well put together. This one, your comic, is beautiful to look at. One of the things I noticed, and it and it’s something I wanna ask you about.

When it comes to the artwork, it seems to be standard comic panels, and comic page layout, but there would be there there’s 1 or 2 really large I would call them double page spreads, but it wasn’t formatted that way, at least the way I was looking at it. So, yeah, what is that? That is because, I did not get the specs until Tyler had already drawn 3 issues, or if I did, I didn’t look at them. Mhmm. We had never done this before, with Comixology, and I did all of the, the, like, page setup.

And so the art was all done by the time I started to build it. And then, yeah, they they they send you a whole workbook that’s like, don’t do double page spreads, and here’s why. But we already had a double page spread in the first three issues. So, yeah, you’re not supposed to do that. You’re supposed to keep bigger panels and understand people are reading digitally, and it needs to be a slightly different thing.

But, yeah. Nobody told me that. So I just messed that up, to answer that question. Oh, that’s fine. Yeah.

I used to get Marvel sends out, all of the PDFs of all the comics every week as they go to print for your office so you you can read and keep caught up or whatever. But those PDFs are not PDFs that are structured the way they’re supposed to be. So we’d always have the double page spreads, like, sideways, and you’d have to, like, flip it. So that was what I was thinking in my mind. We’ll just turn the iPad, but that works.

Yeah. ComiXology, they’ve been great. And I think part of the reason the thing you’re talking about where they’re all really interesting books with great art is they they’re trying genres that other publishers don’t necessarily do. The reason Chip, who’s no longer there, he went and founded, distillery. But the reason he was so interested in this is it was an auto biocrime comic or, like, a family biocrime comic.

I mean, that’s a thing nobody else is doing. So I think they really are looking to, like, find their own niche and do different things and, you know, because they’ve got Amazon to push it. And my big thing when I was creating the marketing plan for this was we’re not limited only to people that wander into comic shops. If I can get somebody interested in my mom’s story, because I I shot, video interviews with my mom, like, podcasts with my mom in order to, both to promote the book and also to get details on the story that I didn’t already know, I can just show those to the Internet and see if anybody is willing to try their first comic because I can just send on Amazon to pay a dollar. Or if you’re a Prime member, get it for free and re and read the book.

So it opened up the the target demo. And I don’t know if internally that’s how they think about it, but you can get almost anybody on Earth to go to Amazon and spend a dollar or $3 on something if you if you hook them. So it’s interesting from that standpoint that it’s not it’s not this insular little comic market that we’re usually playing to. Right. You can get anybody to try it, which I think is really cool.

So it allows them to do to do stuff that you might not be able to sell as easily in the direct market, which is fun. Yeah. And and for me, who’s I I’ve been an independent, comic book reader for a long, long, long, long, long time. But, for me now, anything that’s different and unusual, I’ll gravitate to that really quickly. Anything that’s, I don’t wanna call it genre breaking, but definitely, in in in the realm of comics where it’s pretty much been solely spandex clad superheroes for the last 30 some odd plus years.

I I want something different. So Right. When I see something like this, yeah, I’m gonna I’m gonna leap at it, you know. So thank you for bringing it. And I feel like that creatively.

You know, I did I did superheroes every day for 10 years, and I still love superheroes. It’s nice to not have to think about them anymore. I remember when Ed Brubaker left to go do Criminal, he said, you know, I used to love high school movies, but when I got old enough that I don’t relate teenagers anymore, I’m not interested in that. And that’s how I feel about supes. And I kind of feel like that as a reader, especially now with They’re everywhere.

There’s movies all the time. My kids are watching them. They’re constant. It is nice to do something different and to just put my creative energy into something that’s a little more where I am currently versus where I was for from 12 to 23 or whatever. Yeah.

And and what I try and stress to, any first time listener to this show, which doesn’t just cover comics, but, comic books used to be everywhere and fulfilling every kind of reader interest. I mean, you had the westerns, you had the crime books, you had the mystery books. You had the romance titles. I mean, there were tons and tons of romance titles, and none of that is being published anymore. It’s just, at least by the major publishers.

It’s it’s really sad. You know. When I know my kids are 9 and they’re really into to comics now, but one of them only reads manga and the other one reads, like, Reina Tagemeyer, like, twice of life, middle grade stuff. And I and they both love superheroes just that when they go to read, they want they want graphic novels, but not what I make And or not to be able to expand that. Like, I I it’ll be interesting to see when this generation grows up.

Like, does that market age with them? You know, like, do they move on? I mean, obviously, there’s adult manga, but does the American market try to find more of those kinds of things and those kinds of voices to feed these kids who who do get comics in school. You know, when I was growing up, you weren’t allowed to read comics in school. They wanted you to read chapter books.

But now I think librarians and and teachers have figured out, oh, like, this is a good way to learn to read. This is a good way to get kids passionate about finishing a longer book. Right. Absolutely. So, you know, they were raised on that, and it and it seemed like legit reading.

Will will we get more? I hope so because I love the medium. Yeah. I I hope so too. It’s it’s well, I mean, I could go into the history of, what comics did for me as a reader, which, you know, I was a die hard reader of everything.

I I learned off a Dick and Jane book. So Yeah. No. Me too. Did you really?

Oh, that’s so cool. My mom’s, but I definitely did. My my grandpa had all my mom’s old toys and books, and that’s how I learned to read. Oh, yeah. We do.

That’s funny. No one ever tells me that. It’s that’s so cool. Alright. Dennis, we have to take a quick break because, unfortunately, the FCC makes us do this kind of stuff.

But, if you would, please let the fine listeners know where they can find, this comic and anything else and maybe where you might be on the, fine social medias or interwebs. Yeah. So she’s running on fumes you can find on Amazon Comixology Kindle. Just go to Amazon and look up She’s Running on Fumes comic. You’ll find it there.

First three issues are out. 3rd issue just came out. And then the 4th issue will be out in early May. I am everywhere online. Dennis Hopeless Comics on TikTok and Instagram.

Hopeless Den on x. Google me. You’d find me. But Dennis Hopeless everywhere. Everywhere, he says.

And yet, I I’m, like, in that desert. Dennis Hopeless Desert is what I am. Alright. This is, Pineda Comics here on WESU. 88.1 FM on the dial, w e s u f m dot o r g.

We’ll be right back. WESU presents Americana music from Nashville and around the world. I’m Chip Austin, host of Unfocused Folk. We’ll mix music from known artists. Emerging artists, familiar songs, and great songs yet to be discovered.

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Well, it’s nice to find the fellow with a keen sense of humor. Okay. Welcome back again there, Pinta Comics folks. This is Pinta Comics on WESU 88 point 1 FM on the dial, wesufm.orgorgorg. One of those words I’m gonna use.

I’ll figure it out. My guest tonight is Dennis Hopeless, the writer of so many great books, but we’re talking She’s Running on Fumes, this excellent, excellent series from Comixology Originals. And, you know, Dennis, you mentioned the title right before the break, and I just clicked on it. Like, the title itself means so much to what the book is, and I don’t think I put that together when I was first introduced to it or even when I was reading it. It wasn’t until you said it out loud.

I was like, oh, man. That really, really hits. Yeah. It was very difficult to find the title for this book. So the town that it took place in in real life, it’s called Deepwater Deepwater, Missouri.

It’s barely a town. It’s like a gas station and a and a cemetery. But around the time that we were pitching it, Ben Affleck made a movie called Deepwater that got really bad reviews and nobody went and saw. And so I was told you can’t call it Deepwater anymore. Because Deepwater makes sense too.

Right? Like, it makes sense to plot a book. Oh, yeah. Absolutely. We we rolled it around forever, and running on fumes would come up, but it just it didn’t really work.

And then when we realized, like, she’s running on fumes is how my dad would describe a car because he always gave the car’s female pronouns for whatever reason. And then, also, it’s it’s about my mom, like, trying to keep the family afloat and and moving forward in this awful terrible time. And, yeah, it just it it clicked and it made sense, and I’ve had to convince a lot of people of it, but I think it’s a perfect title to the book. No. I think it is.

I think it really is. And and, again, this is coming. I just read them this afternoon, and and I’m just putting it all together. Like, yeah. It’s it’s probably the best title you can come up with.

I mean, Deepwater. Yeah. That works too, but I think this one’s better. Yeah. No.

I’m I’m pleased with it, and I I love the logo. Ivan Brandon, another comic creator, hated the the working logo that we had, and so he spent a weekend, made the logo for me. And it it has that, like, pulp crime noir sixties look to it. I’m I’m I’m just the book is my favorite thing I’ve ever done, and it you know, it’s it’s the most recent thing I’ve done, so I’m a little biased probably. But it’s so personal have having the story about my, my family and my parents.

It was the hardest thing I ever had to write because I didn’t it did not occur to me until I started scripting the thing that, oh, I’m gonna be writing really intense parent, really intense scenes where the characters are my parents and all of the emotions that brought up. And then, like, my mom was on board from the beginning. She was a really great sport, but it did not occur to me what it was gonna be like for her when the thing came out. And when I started showing the interviews as promotion and and people seeing her talking about, like, the worst period of of her life and, dealing with that now. So it’s it’s been a lot just from start to finish.

So I’m I’m really proud of it. I’m happy that people are digging it, and then it’s finally out, and we can talk about it. And that going after a different audience is interesting too. I I did we had a local comic convention here about a month ago now and I did some Instagram promotion where I played clips of the videos for my mom to talk about the book and every local comic creator, who’s married came and told me how excited their wife was for the book. Like my promotion worked on people that don’t, you know, don’t traditionally read comics, and then they all bought it for their lives.

And my mom was there with me on Sunday, and some of those people had her sign the book too. So it was really cool to, like, to realize, like, my mom’s story resonates with with people that aren’t just like me and aren’t aren’t traditional comic readers. So that’s cool too. Well, you know, I I can I mean, she is pretty much the central figure of the book? I mean and you really fill in the reader as to, the difficulties that she’s dealing with and how strong of a person she is.

You give her great dialogue. She just it’s just awesome to watch her fit into the role that she’s unfortunately settled into, maybe not willingly all the time. But, and I I again, I don’t wanna give too much away because I I do want people to read it. But it’s fun to watch her, and I hate to say fun. That’s a bad word.

It’s fun to watch her grow into the part of who she is trying to make the the family move forward, you know, and get out of the hole that she’s in and and and watch her become the woman that she is. It’s it’s just amazing. I mean, I didn’t realize right away, and and I don’t think it was it was somewhere late into the first issue where, you mentioned how old she is and or I should say how young she actually is. Yeah. And I didn’t realize that.

I didn’t even put that together, and it’s like, oh, oh, oh. Yeah. There’s a there’s a you haven’t gotten there yet because you haven’t it’s not out yet, but in one of the later issues, because I I wrote it a little kinda slowly over time waiting on Tyler, I had the experience of writing the early issues when I was writing the later issues, and I’m the narrator of the book. Like, adult me thinking back, like, in a wonder years sort of way as the narrator of the book. I was writing a flashback that took place when my parents first started dating and well, my mom was a teenager.

My dad was in his early twenties. My mom was a teenager. And I had this real like, I never understood why my mom would have dated my dad because the woman that raised me would have never put up with his b s when they were first started dating. It’s because she was a literal child. Like, me now at 42 writing the scene.

Oh, because she was a kid. Like, she didn’t become the person that raised me until she went through this thing that inspired the book, and that is what brought her into herself. So that’s the story that I’m telling, like a person who is kind of stuck in a bad situation because the choices she made when she was very young and didn’t know any better. Right. Having to take the reins and keep the family afloat and then also then deal with this this force coming back into her life and this and how does that work?

Once you’ve taken the reins, you don’t wanna give them back up, especially to someone that you can’t trust with them. So, yeah, dealing with all of that, it was nice to have the crime story to lean on because once I realized, like, the feelings and emotions and history and everything of that situation. I was like, okay. Now we’ll do some stuff with guns and bikers and play in that realm for a minute because this is heavy but, yeah. I it’s it’s interesting.

I I sort of accidentally make my books autobiographical, like, I will go back and look at stuff and see things I was going through in my life happened to the characters, not not usually one to 1, not directly. But a buddy of mine read this, and he said, this is interesting because it’s your perspective on your parents’ relationship after having gone through your own divorce. And so you have the perspective of someone who’s been through the end of a a huge relationship and with kids and dealing with all this stuff, dealing with this terrible time and in their relationship, you put that perspective in it. Instead of trying to pretend like you know her perspective, you’re you’re talking about it looking backward. And I think that’s why the book works because I’m I am showing what my mom went through, and I’m trying to express how I think about it.

But I I let her keep because she we don’t get inside her head. We just see how she reacts to things. I let her keep, like, the moments of realization for her, and I just say how I think about it. So I I think that’s why the book works. It would have been really difficult, to tell that story without my narration because, structurally, because of when things happen and how they happen, I think it works.

But I found that writing the first issue. Like, this works better if I give you my perspective. So I, yeah, I I don’t know that I could do it again. I don’t know. It’d be exhausting.

But I’m really happy with that, turned out. Yeah. I I I did like the, little bits of narration where, it’s like a caption pops in and and you realize it’s you telling the tale or or making a comment on a on a specific, situation. And it’s just this It’s I hate to say it. It’s almost like, Mystery Science Theater 3000, like, the the commentary coming and going yeah.

So, he he would say this. No one knows what it means. Right. Yeah. When I I that’s the thing.

I had my dad used to say hang on tight to your BOAT stack when we were running around a tight curve, and And I don’t know what that means. I don’t know where it came from. I looked it up to make sure it wasn’t offensive, but it’s not on the Internet. So I don’t have any idea, but it it felt real to say that and also to, like, you don’t you’re not supposed to get this. No one else has either.

And, yeah, things like that that context. And, you know, it’s like it’s like a great bar story. You’re telling a story, you stop and give context and, like, back up and explain things. And so I was able to do that. It’s like pause the movie and and give context along the way.

And, it made it it made it fun and interesting to write, and I think it elevates it a little bit. Yeah. Definitely. Definitely. I I I really enjoyed it, and, and it makes it all work.

With this, once it completes, this is it. You’re not gonna do a sequel. You’re not gonna do any kind of future stories, regarding your parents or or even anything else that might be, 60% real and 40% fake? I’d be open to it. I definitely think I’m invested in it.

Right now, when I stopped doing full time superhero work, I decided I wanted to focus on, like, create our own books and things that I’m passionate about. And the best way to do that is one at a time, but it’s not a good way to make a living. So I now do one project at a time once or twice a year, and then I, you know, I make my living, doing marketing elsewhere, which sounds if you had told me that 3 years ago, I would be like, oh, no, my life fell apart, but it’s actually great because I can breathe and I’m not constantly chasing the deadline, and my projects are only what I wanna do when I own them. Yeah. But it does slow down my ability to produce.

So it would I’ve got, like, 2 things in front of whatever the next thing I conceive is. So it it would be a minute, but I would definitely be down to do something else, biographical or autobiographical because it is it’s an interesting place that I never played in that I never did before. Like, things like I said, I always accidentally do it even in superhero books, but to to tell these real stories and and the fictionalization of it was a fun thing. It never even occurred to me as a concept, but taking real stuff and then blowing it into an interesting genre could be fun too. So I’m open to it, but no plans currently.

Yeah. There was a there was a comment you made, I and I I don’t have it up in front of me, unfortunately, but, it was about a situation where your father goes into a rage, and you, made a comment about still being something about being upset about making other people upset, I think is what it was. Yeah. I’m yeah. Yeah.

It’s conflict aversion. Right? Like, childhood problems, when you live with a volatile person, can make like averse. So you’re constantly trying to keep everybody else calm because Yeah. Other people’s upset feels unsafe.

This is a thing that I’ve worked out in therapy. Mhmm. And it’s it’s a really common thing with people that live with volatile pers volatile personalities. What I learned from the book that I did not know because how would I have? My friend Robbie Thompson, read the book.

He’s one of my readers who gave me notes, and he’s also a fantastic screenwriter and comic book writer. His mom was a trauma nurse, and he said my dad’s outburst and behavior and the way that I show him behaving in the book. In the book, he gets in a near fatal car accident, and has brain damage and has to learn to walk and talk again, and that’s why my mom has to do all the stuff. But all of the things I described and showed in the book is very common long term side effects of having brain trauma. And I didn’t know that.

I just thought my dad was kind of a dick. So it, it was interesting, and I actually added that. Once he told me that, I it added some context and some scenes, and I added new captions later with where where I just kinda pop in and, like you said, and say, I never realized this, but some of this was just brain damage. Like, some of the man that I knew, because I’m 3 when it happened, it was actually just brain damage. So it it my my father’s passed.

He’s been dead for 20 years, but it was interesting to kinda revisit that relationship. Like, he he couldn’t help it. Like, this is this is just how his emotions were left after this this accident and the, you know, the trauma and damage that that left on me, you know, caused relationship difficulties and stress and anxiety in my life that I’m dealing with now where I’m older than he was then. It it’s it’s all very these are the things I was talking about, like, emotions I had to go through to write the thing is coming to terms with it and looking at it as a, you know, as a middle aged person with more perspective and wisdom to be able to kinda let that go. You know?

Like, yes. Yes. I had childhood trauma, but my parents were doing their best. And in that case, they couldn’t even help it. So that was an interesting side effect of writing the book.

That’s where, you know, the armchair person would say, so was it therapeutic for you? Yeah. I I think it really was in a way that I didn’t expect. And, the conversations with my mom, like, are the things that the the ones we had on camera and off were therapeutic, I think, for both of us because I Yeah. She didn’t think about what it was gonna be like to dig back into these things.

You know? For her, this was, whatever 35 years ago, she hadn’t considered it in a really long time. So, yeah, I think that it was. I think, like, when a parent passes, you either, like, crystallize any resentment you have or you let it go. And I largely let it go.

My dad died when I was 20, and I still had a lot of, like, teenagers that meant and my parents divorced resentment and things that I dealt with. But I had to give the eulogy, and I wrote this really nasty version of the eulogy first. I’m like, well, I can’t get in front of family and tell that. So at, like, 2 o’clock in the morning the night before the funeral, I, like, had to let a lot go and figure out, like, okay, what what is the positive stuff I can say? And I wrote, you know, like, a really genuine heartfelt thing.

And I think I always gave myself more credit than I deserved for letting go of my resentment. But I this was, like, step 2 of that process where writing this and realizing, like, you know, my dad was just a little bit old with me when he passed, and he was way younger than I am now when I was little. He was just trying his best, and, you know, he had childhood trauma too, and he had actual physical brain trauma that made all of this more difficult. So, yeah, absolutely that was therapeutic, and I talking about it in therapy was also therapeutic. Oh, I’m sure.

Would think. Yeah. I tell you, these these are, topics that don’t usually come up on this show, so it’s pretty interesting. Yeah. I’m very very pro therapy and pro, like, mental wellness and yeah.

Well, you should be. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. So with your mom, I mean, she’s read the whole, finished product, I assume.

No. No. Alright. Yeah. So my mother has had the PDFs for months months because as soon as it was finished, I sent her the whole thing.

Okay. And I don’t know if it’s because it’s heavy or just because it’s easier whenever I promote each issue for her to go buy it on Amazon and click it, and then it shows up than to figure out how to get the PDF going. But, yeah, she’s she only reads it as it comes out. And I don’t know. Okay.

I’m I don’t pester her. I don’t know if it’s because she wants to have some space or if it’s just easier to buy the thing or if she’s, like, wants to support it financially. But, yeah, she has all of them. She could have read them, but, you know, she reads them monthly. So she’s read as much as you have.

How does she feel about it? I mean, did does she like her portrayal? She was very, very pleased with the first one. I think my my sister my comics because she’s not a comic reader, and I mostly go on superhero work. But my I think she and my sister really bonded over reading the first one.

They were really into it. And so I think that’s fun. It’s a little bit weird for her because my mom’s, like, you know, she’s a IT manager in corporate America, and the idea that we were gonna be talking about, like, the worst, filthiest part of her life, was a little odd, but I think she’s mostly gotten positive reinforcement from that. Like, nobody said anything negative that people have, like, at the con. She kinda got to be a mini celebrity for a minute.

That was fun. So she it it’s not light for her. Like, yeah, I think it definitely was on her, both the idea of judgment from it and also just, like, kinda reliving it. But Yeah. I think it’s been a positive experience.

And she’s my mother’s always been crazy supportive. She’s the reason I did a creative job and actually dove off this cliff 20 years ago to begin with. So she’s very supportive, and I think she is honored that I wanted to tell her story. But I I hope it continues to be a positive experience for her. Me too.

Me too. I I can see it being a positive experience, but then again, I’m only halfway through the book. I haven’t gotten to the end yet. So we’ll see how that concludes. And I and I do I’ve I’ve got to read them all because, boy, it’s it’s a it’s a solid tale and, it’s a beautiful thing too.

So, if if nothing else, if nothing else, it being very car centric, Tyler knows how to draw cars. So that’s that’s a big plus. Yeah. He’s very good at it. Yeah.

I did notice that with the Grass Kings a few, few years ago too. So, yeah, he’s he’s nailed that. He draws great cars, both beaters and cool cars, and he’s really good at, like, cool cars and bleak landscapes, which is perfect for this Yeah. Story. Yeah.

He gets that down. Yeah. He does. Alright. Let’s let’s talk about Marvel real quick before, before we have to close this out because I don’t know your Marvel work.

I I I’ve I’ve I know about the titles. I know about the characters, But how did you get into the into writing Marvel? And how did it how did you get Spider Woman of all the characters? And this is Jessica Biel. Right?

Yes. It is. Yeah. So I Kansas City. I live in Kansas City.

Kansas City has a big comics community. And so when I was first breaking in and doing, creating my the early creator on work, which, like I said, I’ve only done a few, like, Jason Aaron’s here. Tony Moore was here at the time, still doing Walking Dead. And so there was this great community of people that I met before I had really broken in, and I spent I don’t know. It seemed like a lot of years at the time since I was in my twenties.

It was actually only, like, 5 or 6 years doing a lot of pitches, and I go to a lot of conventions. I had this book called gearhead that I did with Kevin Mellon, and we took that to every convention on Earth and meeting people. And I would, like, hang out with an artist, and we do a pitch. And then I would get the that those pitch pages and send it one place and get a rejection, or they wouldn’t finish it, or we would get a publisher that wasn’t gonna pay anything and then they’d get scooped up by dark horse. So after 5 or 6 years of this, I had all of these unfinished things and a lot of frustration.

And Kevin was working on our follow-up, but he was, you know, artists get paid work quicker. So I had, like, a great community, and I had my one little break in book that I didn’t think was good enough to get me work. And then I had all this other stuff I’d done that was never going anywhere, and I just got frustrated. And I decided to lie to Marvel and DC and say, hey. These are all my upcoming books.

So I created logos, and I, like, made up publishers or digital plate. I mean, I use real publishers, but I made a publication. And I went to Kinko’s, and I made, like, 15 copies of the pages that were done and everything that I’d ever that I’d ever made, which was, like, 6 or 7 things. And they were all over the place because it was all different artists, and my thing at the time was, what do you like to draw? And then I’d write that.

So it was really varied, and I sent it out and, heard nothing back. I think one person from DC wrote me back to thank me, but said they didn’t have a lot of time, and I heard it was crickets. But I kept after it. I kept I kept putting the books out. We finished up our thing that was about to come out.

And then Jason Aaron, who at this point was my friend, did a, he used to do a column for CBR where he wrote about whatever. And he interviewed me and said, Dennis is exactly what it is to hustle and try to break into comics. Everybody who knows him knows that he’s gonna make it, and he’s gonna be a big name. We just it’s not a matter of if it’s when, and then he interviewed me about all the stuff I’ve done and all of the things that weren’t finished. And because of that interview, Axel Alonso, who had just been hired as editor in chief at the time, went and found this packet that I had sent him whenever he was a group editor and read through it.

And so Alejandra Arbona was there, and he had it on his on his desk, and he had met me at a con with Ryan Stegman, who is now at Marvel, and his other buddy of mine. And they both kinda read it around the same time, and so Alejandra had reached out to ask me if I wanted to pitch something at the same time that Axel started saying my name. And Kieran Gillen was supposed to do a Legion of Monsters miniseries that fell through for whatever reason, and they needed to put something out and it was already on schedule. So Axel told Alejandro to let me do Legion of Monsters. So I pitched Legion of Monsters.

It’s like a 4 issue miniseries I did with Wanda in whatever that was, 2018 11. And while we were working on that, whoever was supposed to do the X men season 1 graphic novel with Jamie McKelvey dropped out. I don’t know. Some some writer couldn’t finish it, and Alejandro was the editor, so he’s, like, hey. Do you wanna do this too?

So I pitched on that, misunderstood the assignment, wrote something that was like dancing between the raindrops of Stan and Jack because I didn’t understand what I was supposed to do, and that book ended up being really relevant, really well received, and that line sold really well. So I’m a New York Times best selling author because of that book because at the time they had got novels on the list, and I it just kind of pushed the door open enough that Marvel started giving me, ongoings. I did Avengers Arena and Cable and X Force at the all new Marvel. Some I don’t know. It’s one of those things where they added a bunch of adjectives to the front of it that that release.

So I did that in 2012, 2013. Yeah. I just kinda got thrown into it. So I had done one completed book and a bunch of pitches and got into Marvel, and I’m not super prolific, so they kept me really busy. And then whenever Avengers Arena became Avengers Undercover and that book, didn’t sell as well and got cancelled, I needed something, so I reached out and said I I really like to do a female led something or other, and they were about to do Spider Verse.

So they wanted to launch a Jessica Drew book. She’d been in Bendis’ new Avengers run, and they wanted to do a Spider Woman book out of Spider Verse because they were launching stuff out of Spider Verse. And I did 4 just almost unreadable issues during Spider Verse because I did not understand how to write in an event. So I was just writing things that only made sense if you read 15 other comics. And it was awful, and I had to change every issue because stuff would change in the main book and it wouldn’t work.

And I was so frustrated after those 4 issues that when it was time to, like, come back and, like, okay, now you can launch the actual book and tell your story. I had her quit the Avengers, and the whole first issue of that is just, like, I’m sick of all this stuff. It’s so complicated. I can’t explain it to people. I just want normal life where I do normal stuff.

And so we brought her back to her, like, PI roots and made it a ground level book, street level book, and then did that for a few issues. It was well received. Javier Rodriguez’s art is the reason. It’s amazing. And then Secret Wars happened.

Jonathan Hickman’s Secret Wars happened, and everybody got an 8 month time jump, and we were supposed to change something fundamental about the book after the 8 month time jump. And I had just had twin boys and was dealing with, like, 3 month olds when I was pitching it. So I’m, like, well, let’s it’s 8 months. Let’s make her super pregnant. And she wanted she wanted to quit her superheroing to have a normal life.

Let’s hit her in the face with normal. And so, that eventually convinced them to let to let me do that with Bennett’s help. And, yeah, that just found a thing no one would ever no one was doing, which was trying to, like, do real life adult stuff with kids in a superhero book and deal with what it is to have this really dangerous job when you have your responsibilities are split. That was the most creatively fulfilling thing I did at Marvel because I was taking all of this real life anxiety and things that were going on with me and I was able to tell it in, like, a seventies style Spider Man book with a female protagonist where, you know, she was fighting, like, B and C level villains, but really dealing with baby at home and, like, a refined reformed superhero who’s her nanny, which she’s training to be a or supervillain who’s her nanny, and she’s training to be her sidekick or whatever, and it it was just a lot of fun. It was it was where I found my voice, I think, figured out what I was good at and, like, how I could fit into into the Marvel mold.

Anyway, that’s how I got Spider Woman. That’s my Marvel career in a nutshell. Interest that’s interesting. I now, as a guy that has never read that Spider Woman series, which sounds really cool, actually, especially when it comes to, b and c and d list characters. I mean, what kind of villains were were you throwing in there?

What were you were you digging through the the Marvel handbook of the universe and Yes. And Every issue. So I this was a while ago. So the nanny, the the reformed character that she turns into her nanny because I just love his costume as porcupine. And I wrote porcupine like the dude from The Big Lebowski.

So I I just put him in the opening arc because I like his costume so much, and I I had done the same thing at Avengers Arena. And the voice that I gave him was really fun, and they’re banter. She was super frustrated by, like, how dim he was and how chill he was, and so they were on the right banter. So whenever, yeah, I wanted to keep him in the book when she came back pregnant. And so when she was on maternity leave, he was, like, out doing her patrol.

And then afterward, he’s the nanny who’s at home. So that that was really fun. Signor Suerte, which is like an old Luke Cage villain, we used, we used, just a bunch of really ridiculous seventies Spider Man characters and Avengers characters. I might have to go read these these are the things that interest me about the superhero titles at this point, so I would definitely read something like that. I’m really proud of that.

That book is rock solid. The art team on that book so we had, Javier Rodriguez for most of it, and then Veronica Fish came in and and finished it. And they both just really got what we were doing. Like, we were doing street level, weird, fun superheroes that felt like an old school, like, early eighties, late seventies Spider Man book. And then the real life character drama where, look, what she’s got dealing with at home is way more important than this nonsense, but this is the job.

And then there’s just that thing where you’ve got this job that she’s great at superheroing, but she’s terrible at real life, which makes sense because Jessica Drew never really had a normal life. Right? So trying to figure out how to how to keep everything running whenever you don’t just live in Tony Stark’s tower, that was a fun thing to play with. Oh, that’s cool. Alright, Dennis.

We gotta wind this one up here. Your series, She’s Running on Fumes from Comixology originals, is presently being released. We’re in the midst of it. We’re right at, issue 3, I think, right now is, where we’re at. Issue 4 comes out when?

It should be early May. Early May. Alright. Very cool. And, and then 2 more after that.

And Yes, indeed. Alright. It’s been very cool. Dennis, remind everybody where they can find everything. Dennis Hopeless Comics on TikTok and Instagram.

Hopeless Dent on x. And you can search me on Facebook if you want to, but that’s mostly pictures of my kids. And then, Hopeless Comics dotcom if you want to. I just I just created a web store. So if you wanna buy any of any of my signed comics, you can do that.

We’re gonna have a sale when I launch the site officially next week. So check me out there. Very cool. Alright. She’s running on fumes, Comixology originals, very easy to find.

You know how to do that. You you got that Google thing. Right? Come on, people. It’s really easy, and it’s very good.

It’s really cool. Dennis, it’s been great to have you on. I, I appreciate this. This is awesome. Yeah.

Thanks for having me. Say goodbye, Dennis. What? Goodbye, Dennis. What?

Danger zone.





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