Back in May Udon Entertainment announced they were launching a line of original graphic novels, starting with a book called RandomVeus. Created by Jeffrey Cruz and co-writer Leonard Bermingham, the book features a bouffant-sporting hero and a team of couriers as they "deliver mysterious packages to every corner of the wild world known as the RandomVeus! Octopus ninjas, jazz-playing demons, buxom lady-pirates, cyborg gorillas, samurai mushrooms, and one giant furry squid monster are all on tap in this zaniest of zany adventures!"
The book debuts this week in San Diego and can be found at the Udon booth, #5037. I spoke with Cruz and Bermingham about it, their backgrounds and more.
JK: Tell me a little bit about yourselves. Where do you live and how did you meet?
Leonard: OK. I have been a comic fan since I was eight since a got into comics through the awesome X-Men and Spider-Man cartoons. Been a fan ever since. I found I really got into writing when I was in university where I met Jeff. I went and did a Masters of Creative Media to try and sharpen my writing. That's my origin story I guess.
Jeff: Well I’m from Melbourne, Australia. I enjoy my sequential art reading, which consist primarily of European and Asian books (there are American comics also) heh. Although drawing pretty much takes up a majority of my life (love it) and I’m not sure I’d want it any other way.
JK: What are some of your biggest influences?
Leonard: Biggest influences..... the Claremont/Lee X-Men series. I read different stuff than what I write. Huge fan of the Walking Dead and Grant Morrison's Batman and Robin at the moment. WildCATS was a huge eye opener for me for comics outside Marvel and DC. Oh, and the whole Age of Apocalypse. That pretty much hooked me into buying comics.
Jeff: Ooo there’s too many to list! Currently my PRIMARY Influences consist of Mangaka’s Yusuke Murata and Eiichiro Oda, European art crew Catfish Deluxe (Bill, Gobi & Fabien. M) and the works by the anime studio’s Gainax and Madhouse. Comics and cartoons (from various places of various kinds) are what majorly inspire me.
JK: Is this your first comics work?
Leonard: I have done a couple of back-up story's with Jeff in Vent and Monstrology (an anthology published by APE Entertainment), but this is my first major comic work.
Jeff: It is my first BIGGER creator-owned comic work. I have done a few smaller original anthology-based comics (with Leonard) as well as work for UDON’s Street Fighter II Turbo series, for which I’m primarily known.
JK: Tell me a little bit about the book. What's it about, and what does the title, RandomVeus, refer to?
Leonard: RandomVeus is like a flashback to the old cartoons we used to watch as kids. A really fun ride with some really crazy characters.
Jeff: Well first off the title. When I first came up with the concept about four years back, I had figured it would be a basic story that would feature random situations/characters/settings as the story went along. So with that, I had originally thought it would be a story of various characters having random rendezvous. Somehow that thought birthed the title RandomVeus. A short description that Leonard and I came up with for RandomVeus is that it’s "The tripped out tales of an interdimensional courier company."
JK: How did you guys hook up with UDON?
Leonard: Jeff got asked to create his own book and lucky for me, he chose me to help bring these characters to life. After chatting with Matt he really got on board and from there the book just kept rolling.
Jeff: How I happened to land work in UDON is by showing them my work when I attended my very first convention, SDCC back in 2006.
Just started there, I suppose. Nothing instantly, but from there. The next year I was behind the UDON booth experiencing my first convention as an exhibitor. When I was asked if I was interested in doing up my own creation, I just knew that this could be an opportunity for me to finally show my characters in their story. Knowing me mate Leonard wanted to get into comics, I figured I’d get him to assist me in the story as he managed to ‘get’ what my characters were about (and because he’s just better with the whole writing thing).
JK: I understand that in addition to the main story, the book comes with a few extras, like pin-ups. What else can folks expect in terms of extra stuff? And who contributed pin-ups?
Leonard: There is a killer extra story done by Jeff about another character called HenshinHero, which is a very slick little story ... I don't know who the other artists are hehehehe. I know their work, not their names.
Jeff: Well as Leonard has mentioned, I have an "issue" of HenshinHero as a bonus. Don’t want to speak more on it, as it would spoil what it is. But yep, there are a handful of pinups featured in the book. But unlike regular pinups, where I probably would’ve asked comic book professionals to contribute solo pieces, I instead asked a few fellow artists friends from DeviantArt to collaborate with me on a few pin-ups/chapter breaks in volume one. Something fun, as it’s not as common for me to work with other artists on singular pieces. Artists like fellow Noodle (UDON employee) Omar Dogan, Wet Moon and Shadoweyes creator Ross Campbell among a handful of others from animation, video games and comics. Variety is good!
JK: What are you guys working on next?
Jeff: Well I can't speak for Leonard, but I've got another project with UDON (not at liberty to talk about yet) and after that hopefully more RandomVeus, haha.