BY JENNIFER M. CONTINO
It's a basic instinct ... when you're confronted with a problem the fight or flight mechanism inside of all of us takes over. Most people will try to fight it out, but there's nothing wrong with running like hell if an opponent is too much to handle. Kevin Huizenga is examining those primal urges in his newest graphic novel, from Buenaventura Press, Fight or Run. The GN is due in stores this Winter. Huizenga told us what it was like working on this project.


THE PULSE: How'd you come up with your idea to do a "fight or flight" type tale in Flight or Run? I mean, it's an ageless subject and something everyone deals with on a daily basis when threatened by anything or anyone ....

KEVIN HUIZENGA:
I wanted to make up something with a stable structure and rules that I could just draw as an exercise, without having to think about it too much. There are a lot of strips like this--like Little Sammy Sneeze. Threats are indeed an ageless subject. There's not a real subject though in the strips--it's just a game...as they say. That means other people can play too, if they want, or not, c'est la vie.



THE PULSE: How many times have you been in that position where you had to either take a stand or high tail it out of there? When we're young, faced with bullies on the playground, it seemed a common occurrence ....

HUIZENGA:
I can't think of anything along these lines, sorry. I have never been in a fight, except maybe with close family members, like everybody has. I usually high tail it. I was never bullied, really. Not in the classic sense. I could probably win a fight, though. I'm pretty agile.


THE PULSE: Who are the two meeting up in Fight or Run? Is it a random meeting or something that has been long in the making?

HUIZENGA:
It is not really addressed in the book. My sense is that it is both random and also kind of destined.



THE PULSE: Previews teased this was like "prehistoric cave art or the arcade classic Mortal Kombat." Were you influenced by either of those subjects when you were developing the story that would become Fight or Run?

HUIZENGA:
I had nothing to do with that teaser text. It's true, though, after some negotiations with the French government, and thanks to a grant I was very fortunate to be able to fly to France and make studies of the cave paintings for this project. I suppose the xxx vs. xxxy format is pretty standard in wrestling and boxing and video games and such. I'm more of a Street Fighter kind of guy. My wife was into Mortal Kombat. We compromised with Mario Kart, but nowadays we mostly play Rock Band.


THE PULSE: How did you decide the art style? Why do you think less is more?

HUIZENGA:
I don't think less, or fewer, is always more, or specifically better. Not necessarily.


THE PULSE: Who or what influenced your artwork the most in these pages?

HUIZENGA:
Nobody specifically comes to mind. It's supposed to be straightforward and generic. I wanted to do fighting but that looked more like abstract things, like triangles or squiggle lines. Haven't really got that worked out yet on paper. It ended up too literal most of the time, but this book is hopefully a step in the right direction.


THE PULSE: What are the challenges of producing a story where the picture is worth a thousand words? What made you want to make this story have minimal dialogue?

HUIZENGA:
Those are the rules of the game. But maybe there will be dialogue in a future strip--or not really a dialogue, though, because there really isn't a possibility of dialogue in the sense of a true exchange of ideas between the Fighters or Runners, but maybe there will be some words exchanged. We'll see. I'm already working on the next one and there are no words exchanged in it thus far.



THE PULSE: Since your pictures really have to sell the story, what did you do to try to catch the eye of someone who might be flipping through this at the comic store?

HUIZENGA:
I don't really think in those terms. I'm only thinking of a handful of friends/rivals and an imaginary, ideal reader I like to call my Ideal Reader. As long as they get it, I'm OK, and I think I know them pretty well by now. As far as this guy or girl in the comic book store, I suppose if the cover is interesting they'll pick it up, and then they'll flip through it...or maybe they'll even read a little bit... If that happens I've got them right where I want them. I guess I can't control their reaction. Hopefully they've heard of me already via the glowing reviews written by one the bloggers or newspaper writers my publisher has paid off.

THE PULSE: How was working on this different than your creative process for Ganges Curses and Or Else!?

HUIZENGA:
I don't think too much about it while I'm doing it. It's a nice way to work.



THE PULSE: How did working on those two books give you a greater understanding of the creative process for Fight or Run?

HUIZENGA:
Well, I over-think everything else, so it seemed time to do the opposite here.




THE PULSE: How can interested PULSE readers get a copy of Fight or Run?

HUIZENGA:
You can get a copy through Buenaventura Press.


THE PULSE: What are the challenges of getting people to try out your stories, ones you're working so hard on, especially in today's market where everyone seems to be cutting back on comic buying dollars?

HUIZENGA:
Are they? Uh oh. I don't think in those terms. I try to concentrate on getting work done. You have to just have a dumb confidence in yourself that what you're doing is worthwhile. Beyond that, I can't control how people spend their money so I try not to worry about it.


THE PULSE: A lot of independent comics creators are taking their works to the web, have you done any webcomics? If not, are you considering the possibility of using the web as an outlet for future works?

HUIZENGA:
I do a comic strip named "Amazing Facts and Beyond!" with Dan Zettwoch and Ted May, and that runs in the Riverfront Times here in St. Louis but it's also online at leonbeyondfacts@blogspot.com . I'm always thinking about just putting everything online for free, thinking that it might potentially increase sales of my books and comics ... but I haven't worked out whether that's a smart thing to do or not. Plus it would mean more work, maybe. I try to keep some kind of "online presence" by putting things on my blog...and then there's the strip


THE PULSE: Speaking of the future, what other projects are you working on?

HUIZENGA:
Or Else #6, then Ganges #3, then maybe Sermons #3.


PULSE readers can learn more about me at my website here http://www.usscatastrophe.com