Heroes come in all shapes , sizes and names. Some are rad. Some are tough. Some are men. However, only one hero is named Radd Tuffman. Radd Tuffman is a big deal a Pro Wrestling Champ, a Hollywood big shot and an all around great dude. Its only natural that when you are loved by everyone not everyone is going to love you being loved by everyone. Radd must stop those who are out to steal his spotlight.
“Radd Tuffman” is comes from the mind and pencil of another rad man, Jeremy Brooks. To learn more about the raddest man around and the man who created him we were able to chat with Jeremy about his series and character. In this extra long interview we were able to talk to Jeremy about creating a character like Radd, making comedy work in comics, his work space and the media that inspires him. You can find our conversation with Jeremy below and find “Radd Tuffman” available online physically and digitally now.
What and who is Radd Tuffman?
Jeremy Brooks: Raddeus P. Tuffman is the main character of two books I’ve recently self-published. Radd is a Heavyweight Champion Wrestler but he also has a (seemingly endless) list of side-hustle / vanity projects that a typical celebrity might have. The first of the two titles “Radd Tuffman and the Trouble with Me” is more of a storybook about the one guy (Mister Me) who is super jealous of his success and schemes to get rid of Radd once and for all. “Radd Tuffman: Howl Play” is a 12 page comic about Radd’s dad (Dad Tuffman) and an encounter he once had with a teen wolf.
What came first the name or the idea because Radd Tuffman is pretty great? It sounds like a guy pitching the name of a character totally on the fly and just striking gold.
JB: I had a few ideas that were coming together and starting to form a story. The name really kind of made it a thing, though. Once I had a name, there were a lot of puzzle pieces that fell into place.
Comedy is difficult to pull off in any medium and I feel comics is one of the most difficult because of the control the reader has in the pacing and page turns. What has been your approach to creating humor in comics? Is it easier to achieve as someone in the role of both artist and writer?
JB: Comedy is also completely subjective. So, the best I can do is try to amuse myself. That’s one of the advantages of creating a book by yourself. It can be completely self-serving. You hope it finds an audience but you can’t really predict what’s going to make people laugh. From a process standpoint, I like having the ability to make changes on the fly. So this is another area where doing it all myself benefits me. Initially, I may have a few funny story beats I want to hit but some of the stuff I’m most proud of hasn’t come until I started drawing a page. I also tend to change a lot of dialogue once the drawing is done. Sometimes it’s easier to find a character’s voice at that stage because I’ve become more familiar with them during the process. Or it could be that I’ve just had more time to think of something funny to say.
Radd Tuffman seems like a guy who is pretty awesome at a lot of awesome things. Why did you want to focus on the world of wrestling for that first story?
JB: I’m a wrestling fan. I can’t say I keep up with like I used to but in the 80’s and 90’s, I was all in. The first story was the result of nearly 10 years of me trying (and repeatedly failing) to make a wrestling comic. I had all these grand ideas for an “epic” graphic novel that never panned out. Fortunately, I kept all my notes from those projects and was able to pull from them and eventually put them to use for “Radd Tuffman.”
How have you approached your style when it comes to your work in comics? It has a very animated look to it. I love what you are able to get out of gestures, expressions and movement.Continued below
JB: First of all – thank you. That means a lot because I really place a lot of emphasis on those aspects when I’m working out a story. Animation has been a huge influence on my work – no doubt. When I’m developing a project, my primary goal is to tell a clear story. I want the reader to grasp what’s going on (with or without text). So, I try to make use of a lot of traditional animation techniques to make that happen help bring life to every page.
I enjoyed the different styles of storytelling you used in “Trouble with Me” and “Howl Play.” Me was more of a story book omniscient narrator while “Howl Play” was a more classic panel action/dialogue driven comic. Why the change and is there a benefit to one versus the other?
JB: “Trouble with Me” ended up being a storybook for a couple reasons. My number one goal was just to finish a thing. Even if it wasn’t a perfect thing. I had been trying to turn these ideas into a graphic novel for so long and it just wasn’t happening. Then I started reading storybooks with my daughter before bed every night and I thought, maybe this format could work for me. It wasn’t a long-form story, so I could wrap my head around structuring it. Also, 1-2 drawings per page versus several panels per page seemed much more manageable at the time. I learned a lot in the process. It completely changed my mindset about how I should approach Radd Tuffman as a comic book once I revisited it.
For Heroes Con you put out “Radd Tuffman: Howl Play” as a follow up. Could you see yourself or I guess more importantly would you want to continue and build out the “Radd Tuffman” series and mythous?
JB: “Howl Play” is an example of a tight deadline benefiting me. I ended up with this small window of time to make something new for Heroes Con. I wanted to have another go at making a comic but I knew the traditional 20-22 pages would be out of the question. What I could manage was around 12 pages. So I made a 12 page comic. From that, I learned that I love telling short stories. Over the next year I would love to develop a few more of those short stories on my own and possibly even collaborate on a few RT shorts. I have roughly 10 years of failed story ideas to mine from, so why not?
In addition to the comics you do graphic design, print and even apparel work. Do you find both your comic and design jobs influence each other? What makes a good shirt design?
JB: I think there are a lot of parallels between a good shirt design and a good comic book cover. Both need to communicate with a single image. With that in mind, if you can keep things fairly simple (from a lineart and color perspective) your chances are likely better of being seen. If a design is overly complex, it’s sometimes hard to focus on what’s going on, especially at a glance.
What was a normal workday/drawing session like for you when working on the comic?
JB: It’s so hard for me to establish a “normal” workday. Things change daily, depending on what other deadlines I have going on. I have a full-time job (that I get to do from home), so any responsibilities there are my first priority. I find I’m most creative in the morning, so if I could swing it, I would work on Radd Tuffman then. Otherwise, I would end up drawing on the couch later that night.
What is your work space like while working on the project?
JB: Just a disaster. Reference books. Stacks of paper from varying stages of the project. Random piles of opened and unopened mail. Snack debris, probably.
What are the tools/applications/research you used most in the creation of “Radd Tuffman?”
JB: The thumbnail stage is the only part of my drawing process that isn’t digital. The rest is done on my Cintiq Companion 2 and an old Mac Pro G5. As far as applications – it’s all exclusively Adobe products (Photoshop, Illustrator for lettering, InDesign). I hit up Google Images or Pinterest for drawing reference occasionally. I also often use other comics for inspiration.Continued below
What is the situation that gets the most productivity out of you?
JB: Deadlines are a necessary evil for me. If I have all the time in the world I will take it. Creative freedom also helps my productivity. If I can do things in a way that comes naturally to me, it makes the process much easier.
What media were you engaged with during the creation of Radd Tuffman (music/movies/books/games) that helped the process or that you just happened to be into at that time?
JB: Cartoonist Kayfabe (Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg’s YouTube channel) was constantly on in the background while I drew. Other times, it was podcasts I dig (Off Panel, Comic Lab, War Rocket Ajax, 3 Point Perspective, Faves). I don’t get to read comics as much as I’d like but some of my current favorites are “Umbrella Academy,” “Bully Wars,” “God Hates Astronauts” and “Bitter Root.” I watch a lot of cartoons with (and without) my daughter. Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is really great. I’m also loving the new Mickey Mouse shorts, OK K.O.!, Teen Titans Go, and Craig of the Creek. All of that stuff is very inspiring.
For readers who enjoy “Radd Tuffman” what else would you suggest to them that they might enjoy that has a similar tone/style/message of your work?
JB: I would suggest trying any of the stuff I just mentioned!
You self published both comics right? What has that experience been like? You did “Howl Play” in like less than a month right?
JB: Yes – I’ve been doing small runs (50-100 at a time) of the books through a local printer. I have a good relationship with the owner. He does a great job and I know if I’ve done anything wrong with my files, he will let me know before the books get printed. He will also do everything he can to get the books printed when I need them.
Since we have talked about how great these books are and how you are putting them out yourself how and where can readers get there hands on them or see you in person any time soon?
JB: I just added a shop to my website (www.sketchbrooks.com) where you can purchase the books. I will also be throwing some original art up on there, so follow me on Instagram or Twitter (@sketchbrooks) to stay up to date on that. I have a bit of a convention break coming up but between social media and the “Appearances” section on my website, hopefully everyone can keep up with me.