There’s very little setup for the main character in the first two episodes of Random Cushing’s comic series Refill.
What’s present are quickly paced stories filled with action, characters, and unpredictable plot turns. The art doesn’t settle for two dimensions — the layouts feel incredibly alive with movement.
That each episode is a self-contained story that adds something to the whole gives the series a bit of mystery with a compelling draw.
Check out Refill after reading the interview.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Random. I was born to a nomadic, scientific family at the start of the 1990s. I’ve always had an imagination for stories and practiced drawing and at a certain point the hand of fate face-palmed me into comicking. I want to adventure and make cool art. I love the work of Bill Watterson, Tatsuyuki Tanaka, Jamie Hewlett, Shinichiro Watanabe, and Ralph Steadman, to name a few; but I am influenced by a wide range of media.
Your comic Refill — what’s the background on the main character? It’s obvious he’s more than just your average errand-boy.
Phil is a grizzled cat from back in the day. He’s seen major changes in the scenes and players and learned to keep it close to the vest. He’s been doing this long enough to be discerning about the jobs he’ll take, so if he’s taking your money it’s either a favor or a worthy cause.
And he can Refill things.
The stories are character driven with the idea being to develop the scope of the world in which Refill takes place. It’s a post-power world. People have had super powers and special abilities for generations, and the society is built around it. It all started with the character Refill and just building his personality and relationships to other groups and individuals. To be natural, it has to be thorough, so there’s a lot to explore before we get to particulars. I like keeping things at a brisk pace. Dynamic scenes are more fun to draw than conversations.
As for the art — there’s a lot of detail and a great sense of setting and movement. How do you go about creating the scenery and panels?
Goodness—I’ve been trying to tone it down for speed. I try to arrange scenes cinematically: character enters here, falls over that, chases that guy there… so the environments are developed around the actions and tone of the scene. I work with rough layouts before I form every scene.
I want Refill to be animated as much as possible using the sense of movement and time generated by paneling. I’m fascinated by movement in static images.
As a writer/artist all-in-one, what’s the process as you create an episode, and what mediums are you using? What made you decide to produce a black and white comic?
I came up with Refill in 2008 and began drawing it — in pencil and Prismacolor fine pens and markers — in 2010, and since then I have co-written the series with Nick Sudar, third-year PhD student in physics at UCLA (he’s the smart one).
Many of our stories start with “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” and then creating a character with that particular power. Then, it’s a matter of fitting them in to Phil’s world in a way that progress the story and world.
A long time back, Negative — one of the last big villains — succeeded in altering the scatter of light through the atmosphere: removing color from the world. The villain purge that followed established super hero dominance. The world’s been black and white since.
How long does it take for you to create an episode, and what are your plans for future stories? When can we expect the next episode?
When I’m really on my game I have done up to four pages a day. But usually it’s a bit harder to get in the zone. The last month we worked out our next script and character designs, and this month I have begun the pages of Episode 2: DP Slid; out at the end of July.
Is Refill something you’d ever want to Kickstart or bring to a major publisher?
That’s the plan. We’ve begun drafting the submission, and after DP Slid that will be our focus.