The Denver rockers in MF Ruckus took two years to release the second chapter in their apocalyptic comic-book series The Front Lines of Good Times. Part three, "Acropolis Now," took just a month, and it's as funny and bleak as the first two installments.
We caught up with Jake Fairly, the artist drawing the series — and also a member of the anti-fascist, Nazi-eating metal band Hail Satan — to talk about living the socially distant life and the latest edition of The Front Lines of Good Times: Acropolis Now, which you can read for free at the MF Ruckus website.
Westword: How is social distancing going?
Jake Fairly: It certainly is socially distant! It's going all right. Like many people, I'm doing fine, just holed up in my house, but this is a really crazy thing to be alive for. I find myself shouting at my screen like an 85-year-old man any time Trump holds a press conference. I will say that I'm still seeing large groups of people walking around in the streets, and that's a little on the distressing side. It makes me wonder how seriously the vast majority of people in our community are taking this virus. I suppose we will see what the world looks like in a few weeks. I'm worried that the grim part of this pandemic has yet to really affect the Denver area, and that things may get more hairy once we get there.
How is it affecting your work as an artist and musician?
I haven't really been focusing on creating things all that much in the time that all this has been going on. Honestly, in some regard, it's been nice to take some time away from constantly making art. The reason that we create these things in the first place is to contribute something to the world, but if the rats aren't out there racing, it makes me kind of lose the point of doing the work in the first place.
I also think it's important for artists to be able to take a break every so often, and this definitely strikes me as an opportune moment to cool off a little bit. I've talked with a lot of artists who have a similar thought as to what is going on in the world right now.
What can readers except so far in the comic series?
Man, there is a lot of really fun stuff going on in the Front Lines of Good Times series. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, and it centers around fictional versions of the members of MF Ruckus. So on the one hand, you have all this fun Mad Max-oriented stuff with car chases and explosions, but then you also get the perspective of a touring rock-and-roll band that is just trying to figure out how to keep the lights on.
The books also feature fictionalized versions of Denver hometown heroes. Sometimes I'll be going through the scripts, and I'll say to Aaron Howell, who writes the comic and sings for the band, "This character's supposed to be Nathaniel Rateliff, isn't it?"
We also make motion comics out of them when the comics are finished. The motion comics are animated by Macy Lytle and are really, really cool.
What's the process for creating them?
It's a fairly standard process. The whole idea really is Aaron's. He writes the scripts and sends them over to me. Once I have them, I do breakdowns, which is the comic-books equivalent of doing storyboards for a movie or TV show. After that comes the part that really makes comics what they are: sitting down and drawing a shitload of pictures, day in and day out. That really is the thing about making comics. You just have to be willing to invest a ton of time into creating them. Making comics is a labor of love, for sure. I often joke with other artists that if you don't love comics more than you love your dad, you should just never try to make them, because they are a pain in the ass to actually produce.
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How far along are you?
Good Lord, not far enough. There are three issues of the book that are out now, and we're just going to keep chugging these babies out as often as we can.
How can people support your work?