Killer Serials: J. Scooter Harris, the Tarantino of Comic Books
X-Men. Archie. Sailor Moon. If you thought comic books were limited to namby-pamby superhero tales, Manga and All-American "good guy" serials like Richie Rich and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, take a peek at local artist J. Scooter Harris' graphic novel/comic book series, True Crime Theater, and you'll be shell-shocked.
|Courtesy of J. Scooter Harris, www.studiohadra.com|
Drawing inspiration from hard-boiled detective fiction and live burlesque models, Harris' True Crime stories generally involve three things any media guru will tell you is marketing gold: sex, violence and murder. Oddly enough, this is a guy who was once offered a job working on Veggie Tales. (We imagine a banana in a corset and heels gunning down a sleazy, drug-dealing asparagus stalk wouldn't really have worked in the kid-friendly, Christian-oriented videos.)
We dig Harris' gritty storylines and old school black-and-white drawings. We also recognize that his style isn't necessarily appropriate for those delicate geek flowers who think Quentin Tarantino flicks are "grotesquely offensive" and prefer Strawberry Shortcake to Lady Death. Oh, and if you blush at the sight of a Castle Boutique, you're toast.
For the rest of you, Harris kindly shared a few gritty, real-life stories about censorship, his art, and deflecting a potential fist fight at Comic-Con. Read 'em and weep.
Courtesy of J. Scooter Harris, www.studiohadra.com
J. Scooter Harris: A lot of it came from the old 1930's pulp novel covers and golden age comics (1933-1954). That also led me to pinup legend Bettie Page (via the late great Dave Stevens's The Rocketeer comic book series), burlesque legends like Satan's Angel and everyone involved with the Burlesque Hall of Fame. And of course, the neo-burlesque movement like Mimi LeMeaux and Scandelesque. Then there's the inspiration from the quiet life of a reluctant outlaw that I sometimes would rather not have.
NT: Your work has that gritty, film noir look. Did you read a lot of detective fiction as a kid?
JSH: Yes! It started with Batman and The Shadow in the early 70's. Then films like Orson Welles's Citizen Kane and Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.
I studied a lot of books by Raymond Chandler, James Cain, Mickey Spillane and James Ellroy, while doing the True Crime Theater project. Now for fun, I just finished Donald Westlake's The Cutie. About to finally start Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man.