Note: For more information about the series, visit wcgcomics.com
A preview of issue 12 is available at http://www.comicspace.com/wcgcomics/comics.php?action=gallery&comic_id=22865
This summer, issue 12 of Rob Hanes Adventures from WCG Comics is scheduled for release. By most measures, more than 16 issues and a trade paperback published since 1994—which encompasses an earlier series published under a different name—may not appear to be particularly prolific for a comic-book series. But with Rob Hanes Adventures, writer-artist Randy Reynaldo has garnered a small but loyal following for his longevity and steady commitment in a field where so many titles from small independent publishers seem to quietly fade away after only a few issues (if even that) and great fanfare.
With classic adventure strips like Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates and Will Eisner’s Spirit enjoying a resurgence of interest among comics fans through definitive collections—and with past masters of the form like Roy Crane (Wash Tubbs and Buz Sawyer) and Alex Toth (Bravo for Adventure) being rediscovered by a new generation of fans for their work in the adventure strip genre—the time seems right for comic-book readers to take a fresh look at Reynaldo’s long-running series, which comics historian and columnist R.C. Harvey has called “one of the industry’s quietest treasures.”
Initially inspired by the pioneering adventure work of Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates and Will Eisner’s Spirit, Reynaldo created Rob Hanes Adventures to bring a fresh, modern-day spin to the classic adventure serial strip. Fans and critics have described Rob Hanes Adventures as “Indiana Jones meets Jonny Quest,” and Reynaldo has been credited with keeping the classic adventure strip tradition alive.
Because of this, Reynaldo has gained a strong following among his fellow industry professionals. Comics veteran Kurt Busiek, a fan of the series from the very beginning, says, “Randy has done a great job of keeping alive the legacy of sophisticated high adventure that artists like Milton Caniff and Alex Toth created and perfected in comics. And he’s managed to do it by developing his own style and voice, and by keeping it fresh and modern, without making it feel or look old fashioned or out of touch.”
“When I came across reprints of classic comics like Terry and the Pirates that were set in the ‘real’ world, I wished there was something like it set in the present day,” says Reynaldo. “So I set out to do one myself. Like a lot of cartoonists, I’m doing the kind of comics I want to read myself.”
When he first began, the independent comics movement and direct market had just begun, and the black-and-white independent publishing movement was in full swing. He has weathered an industry that has experienced a bust in the black-and-white comics boom, the rise of alternative publishers like Image, the consolidation of the comics distribution network, and the emergence of the Web as an important new venue for distributing and presenting comics.
Through it all, Reynaldo has continued to publish Rob Hanes Adventures on a schedule that now averages about an issue a year. Reynaldo acknowledges that such a release schedule is not conducive to building momentum in what primarily is a periodical market where readers expect fresh material on a frequent, regular basis before moving to something else. Partly in recognition of this release schedule, every issue is self-contained so readers are never left hanging between issues. Nevertheless, Reynaldo has found an audience, as well as respect and encouragement from many quarters in the industry, including fellow professionals, for continuing the series.
Reynaldo admits that new technologies, which include print-on-demand publishing and the Web, have helped him and other small publishers remain viable. They have opened new channels of distribution and promotion; on the downside, of course, is that the competition for attention is intense.
Reynaldo’s work has evolved over time and he says he believes he’s hit a groove. Early stories in the series were much more adventure and action-oriented, and there were attempts at more serious serious drama and characterization. More recently, however, Reynaldo has begun to show a lighter touch that should serve to distinguish the series further. Issue 10, for example, was a straight action-comedy; a reviewer recently noted that “this particular issue had some nice light-hearted moments in it and the everyman side of [the character] plays well when Reynaldo uses it to comedic effect.” While Reynaldo says this is partly natural evolution, he admits it’s also by design.
“I always ultimately envisioned the series along the same lines as Will Eisner’s Spirit, where he mixed things up every week, going from straight adventure to high comedy in a heartbeat,” he says. “I've come to recognize that I'm better suited to a serio-comic approach, keeping things light and jaunty rather than to try and do straight serious ‘action-drama.’ And I’ve finally begun to tackle many of the stories that were sitting on the shelf until I felt the series was better established so that I could take it more to left field once readers were comfortable with the series.”
Issue 12, due in July, will continue in this vein, when Rob gets stranded on a desert island—but the story take a slight left turn at the end which he hopes readers will enjoy.
Due next from Reynaldo is a long-anticipated trade paperback collection that will begin to collect the series in its entirety. The project has been slightly delayed due to the decision to re-letter the early stories that were originally hand-lettered, which required made some post-production work on the art necessary. But Reynaldo is back on track to release the trade paperback later this year.
“I’m very proud of the body of work I’ve built to date,” says Reynaldo. “I have lots of fun ideas for the future direction of the series, and I’m looking forward to continuing the series for many years to come.”
ABOUT ROB HANES ADVENTURES:
Rob Hanes Adventures is an all-ages comic-book series about a modern-day globetrotting troubleshooter and soldier of fortune. Under the auspices of worldwide Justice International—a worldwide private investigations and security agency—Rob travels the world on assignment, facing adventure, intrigue and romance at every turn! Every issue is "done in one" which allows readers to jump in with any issue!
Inspired by the pioneering adventure work of Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates and Will Eisner’s Spirit, Rob Hanes Adventures brings a fresh, modern-day spin to the classic adventure serial strip genre. Comics veteran Kurt Busiek, a fan of the series from the beginning, says, “Randy has done a great job of keeping alive the legacy of sophisticated high adventure that artists like Milton Caniff and Alex Toth created and perfected in comics. And he’s managed to do it by developing his own style and voice, and by keeping it fresh and modern, without making it feel or look old fashioned or out of touch.”
Series writer-artist-creator Randy Reynaldo is a Xeric Foundation grant recipient and a Russ Manning Award for Most Promising Newcomer nominee. The series debuted as Adventure Strip Digest in 1994, running for four issues until being re-booted in 2000 as Rob Hanes Adventures. A Xeric Award supported trade paperback, the Rob Hanes Archives, compiled the series' original run as a small press zine in 1996.