Richard Rivera is the affable sort of guy you want to buy a beer for just to hear him spin a yarn. His engrossing approach to storytelling is evident in his breakout hit Stabbity Bunny, which is flying off the shelves. Despite its recent rise in popularity, Rivera has had to work hard to get to today, self-publishing Stabbity for several years and working directly with his fans through a grueling convention schedule. More recently Rivera has not slowed down his travel schedule, but he does have a strong partner via a publishing deal with indie darling Scout Comics. Amazing variants from up-and-coming studios like The Brain Trust have also helped create buzz for Richard’s work and fans have clearly decided to “make mine Stabbity!”
With stores selling out of Stabbity Bunny, Rivera and team have obviously hit on something special. Comic Burst reached out to Richard, who was gracious enough to grant us the following interview, which is edited for clarity and length.
Comic Burst: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today, especially considering how busy you have been with the huge success of Stabbity Bunny. There is a lot of talk in the comic community about the book. What do you think of the success?
Richard Rivera: Oh it’s great! I’ve spent the last three years driving to conventions and I pretty much drove to them all. I’m pretty much the guy who doesn’t like to stop when driving either. I have driven 18 hours before, only to show up just in time to set up for the convention, work that day, and then crash hard that night, and I love it. I love meeting all these people who want to know more about the book. Especially going to a city for the second or third time, and having more and more people come up wanting to know if there are more issues. To get the story out was the whole point and it feels great. What Scout [Comics] has done is given me the opportunity to get the word out on a larger stage. It feels like every store is now helping me, and all the conventions are going on for my book.
CB: Does it feel like “finally, my time has come?”
RR: (Laughing) I’m much simpler than that. I’m just happy there are more people being exposed to the book and some of those people are excited about it. I’m really, really happy for the people who bought the book over the years, and now some of those people are selling those books for hundreds and hundreds of dollars.
CB: Collectors certainly love your books! The other day a variant was spotted auctioning for around $400. That’s a lot of money for a new indie book.
RR: Yeah, I couldn’t believe it! I had not seen many for sale and then maybe a month ago an issue number one convention variant came out--because I do watch these things you know--and the numbers pretty much stick in my head. It went for $57, and then a one-through-four set went for $43. Soon after that, prices started climbing fast and I was surprised. A one-through-five is at over $400 today!
I wish I had kept a few of those issues. I had set aside ten copies of issue number five--which you can see on the inside cover is a limited 100 print run--but at Megacon people were coming up like “Hey! Do you have any new issues?” and I’d be like “yeah I have a number five” and I’d give it to them. I gave them all away, but I’m really happy people got them. I want to get the story out there! Something like this I can honestly say I never expected.
CB: You have left readers wanting more. Are there any other projects you are currently working on?
RR: Yes. I have another series called Shadowplay co-created with Alex Lobato , artwork by Clara Meath, and color art by Liezl Buenaventura, who is also the color artist on Stabbity Bunny. I can’t say much but I can say that it’s a shared universe with Stabbity Bunny and there is a potential crossover for sure.
CB: So there is a lot to come from you and Scout Comics on the horizon.
RR: I’m incredibly happy with Scout. I have gotten to meet pretty much everyone at Scout and every time I met up with them I’m more encouraged.. A bunch of cool guys really working hard to get stories out there, to get some fresh titles. Rather than shopping Shadowplay around I want to stay with Scout and do whatever small part I can be to help them grow into the next Dark Horse.
CB: That’s an admirable sentiment, such loyalty is hard to come by today.
RR: Thank you. That’s nice of you to say!
CB: Who are your influences?
RR: It was the mid-to-late 70’s and I read whatever was on the spinner rack of comics at the store. Back then, I wasn’t conscious of writers as much as I was artists, but Marvel stuck with me with all the Neal Adams and Barry Windsor-Smith stuff. A particular memory is Vision going crazy and beating up the Skrull because they had taken Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. To see him so enraged and actually kill and hurt more people than he had to...there were no Wolverines or Deadpool or Punisher or whoever. I enjoyed moments like that, that showed the more human side of things. I’ll always enjoy Silver Age storytelling because of the innocence.
CB: Was that a defining moment in regard to showing you the dark side that’s sometimes present in comics?
RR: It was. The next thing that really got me was Daredevil 191 along with Warrior Magazine from England. Alan Moore stories were in there, and a number of things were black and white, which were a revelation to me. Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing made me realize that writing could be structured in multiple layers, with symbolism, literary references, and foreshadowing all in a story that didn’t feel unwieldy. It flowed so well. So much depth.
A lot of my writing I feel is empathetic. Where will this fall on your emotional scale? Are these people I’d like to know? Are these people I would be scared of? Why are they doing this? The moustache twirling days are long in the past. There is a lot of cast in Stabbity. The cast of Stabbity Bunny are everyday people like you and I. I once described the characters in Stabbity as “people who put away their hedge trimmers and cook books, and show us that everyday people can make a difference.”
CB: How did you meet Dwayne Biddix (artist/visual designer) and Liezl Buenaventura (color artist)?
RR: I started working on Stabbity nine years ago, and about five years ago wrote 36 issues to start making into comic books. At first I approached a couple folks over at Deviant Art and was ignored completely, which I completely understand; every day an artist is approached by people saying “hey, I want to make a comic book!” and they don’t know that person. They didn’t know me. Then I decided that it was more important to me to find an artist on Facebook where you can see not only their work, but you can kind of get to know them and see if you can work together. After stalking Dwayne Biddix for a few months, I approached him and asked if he would check out the script. Knowing how nice of a guy he was, I knew he would at least read the script. I sent it to him at night and the next morning I’m like “so…did you look at the script?” and he was like “yeah I did…” and then “DUDE! THAT WAS THE BEST SCRIPT I'VE EVER READ!”
Then we needed a color artist. There were some really strong submissions, but nothing that made the light shine down and angels choir start playing. We eventually found this moment with Liezl though. I’ve let people try out for other series, but I always go back to Liezl.
CB: Thank you very much for speaking with us today and we are excited to see where Stabbity Bunny goes from here!
RR: Thanks for having me and thank you to all the fans and stores for buying the book.
Edited by - Dr. No