Contraband, Car-Chases, And Coffee – Talking Helena Crash With Fabian Rangel, Jr. And Warwick Johnson Cadwell

by Staff

Fabian Rangel Jr. (Space Riders, Doc Unknown) and Warwick Johnson Cadwell (Tank Girl) bring us a brand new series starting next Wednesday, March 20th, from IDW, lettered by Ironbark. It features the title character, Helena Crash, a runner of black market goods in a future shaped by alien contact, global warming, and a melting pot of a world brought to a boil. One of her major contraband products is coffee, since coffee has become illegal and a controlled substance.
Look out for car chases, martial arts, and plenty, yes, plenty of caffeine in this series as Helena is caught between a crime boss and an alien mobster. It’s stylish, it’s charming, and it’s a story Rangel and Cadwell are determined to tell the hell out of.  They join us here today on to talk about their book.

Hannah Means-Shannon: You guys realize that your names in combination on the front cover look like a super savage science team, right? Are you planning mad science yet? High tech uniforms in the works?
Fabian Rangel, Jr.: I’m not at liberty to discuss any science wars that the Helena Crash team may or may not be gearing up for.
Warwick Johnson Cadwell: I also am not at liberty to discuss this matter. But of course uniforms, hell yes.
HMS: Is the idea of living in a world where coffee is a controlled substance enough to wake you up at night in a cold sweat? And then make you get up and make some sweet, sweet espresso? You can answer truthfully, there’s no judgement here.
FR: The idea that coffee would one day be outlawed stems from articles I read talking about how due to climate change, coffee was becoming more difficult to produce. So, a coffee shortage is just one of the many nightmare scenarios that will occur as we race towards the end times hahaha…
HMS: Warwick, I love the colors on this book. Tell me about your color choices and reasoning there. They seem unexpected, but they remind me of enamel colors that I associate with South America and the bright glaze on coffee cups.
WJC: I felt like it HAD to be this way. The city, the characters, everything was buzzing with life. It’s like a giant amusement arcade/ carnival/ funfair, noisy as hell and probably pretty smelly. I like the idea of big colors filling in those sounds and smells and atmosphere that I couldn’t draw.

[Retail Incentive cover by Warwick Johnson Cadwell]

HMS: Warwick, it seems like every panel in this comic finds a different angle, a new way of looking at things, for the reader. How do you manage choosing angles and moments in a book so full of car-chases, gun-fights, and even martial arts?
WJC: Planning the pages is the best part. I thumbnail each panel as I read the script then fit those panels together as a page, trimming and changing them for the best overall layout. Most of the images come to me straight from the writing, an image in my head as if it were a movie still, then I work from there. Getting it down on paper I find that the beginning of the drawing can guide where it ends up. I’m not in charge so much as along for the ride.
HMS: To me this seems like a tremendously fun book, Warwick, full of wild energy for the reader. But what inspires you about working on this project?
WJC: This is the easier question and can also answer the other two; it’s the scripts. I wanted to get across the wild energy I got from Fabian’s writing. I wanted to make sure I got the excitement I felt reading his scripts onto each page. His characters were lightly described but their actions spoke volumes and so their design was instant. And so much damn fun.
HMS: Fabian, have you always wanted to write a car chase comic? What on earth does that do to the dynamic of script writing for you?
FR: I usually don’t know what kind of comic I’m going to be doing next until I see an artist’s work and it inspires a story. I will say that after watching Fury Road there’s no way I wasn’t going to do a crazy racing comic at some point.

[Variant subscription cover by Andew MacLean]

HMS: Tell us about the world that Helena inhabits. Why all the strange types of folks, human and non-human? How do they manage to co-exist?
FR: It’s the future. A future where aliens have come to live here as normal citizens. A future where global warming and pollution have led to mutants. A future where robots are advanced enough to decide to be law abiding citizens or gangsters. Pretty much, almost anything goes. This future is very much influenced by Samurai Jack, and Star Wars. I always loved those environments, where, in the background you’d see all these awesomely designed characters just going about their business. The future is a melting pot of the impossible.
HMS: What motivates Helena? How does she manage to keep a grip on her strange life?
FR: Gold. Adrenaline. COFFEE. The thrill of the hunt. Collecting. The things that keeps her grounded are the same things that keeps us all grounded during turbulent times: her family (Hemingway) and her friends (Lobo).
You get the sense when talking to these guys that telling a no-holds-barred story in comics, complete with art that skids far off of the main drag into innovative territory, is just something they are determined to do. Reading the comic feels like that, too.
Here’s a look at the interior art on Helena Crash #1:

For an exciting new book that will make you remember why you love reading comics in the first place, make sure to pick up Helena Crash #1, out next Wednesday, March 20th.

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