“They call him The Freelancer.” An assassin who hunts down and kills the One%, billionaire elites of society who pay their way out of anything, no matter how dark and murderous. The Freelancer’s real identity is Renato Jones, a reluctant member of this money driven regime. Unlike his degenerate peers, he uses his money to right massive wrongs, and take bloody action against a class that left their humanity behind in pursuit of money.

Created, written, drawn, colored, and owned by Kaare Kyle Andrews (IRON FIST: THE LIVING WEAPON, SPIDER-MAN: REIGN), RENATO JONES: THE ONE% is a satirical action-adventure, soaked in blood and violence. ComicsVerse was fortunate enough to get an interview with this engaging creator.

ComicsVerse: Before diving into the series, I’d like to ask about your foreword to #1 and the Trade Paper Back, “So you want to be a comic book creator?” What drove you to write this piece and why did you decide to put it at the beginning of your new series?

Kaare Kyle Andrews: I feel like the journey I have as a creator is one shared by the reader. This is something that is fairly specific to comics, really. There are so few buffers built between the creators and the readers, and the industry is so small, that the experience becomes shared. Intimate even. This is a strength of our industry and one I wanted to support. Originally, this little essay appeared in the back of Issue 1. Does it really belong in the front of the trade? I’m not sure. That’s where it best fit in a design sense and so that’s where we put it. But I knew I wanted it somewhere in the book.

CV: For the uninitiated, could you give us a breakdown of what RENATO JONES: THE ONE% is about?

KA: Renato Jones is the story of a man who hides amongst the super-rich to judge them for their super-rich crimes. It’s about a man who is nicknamed The Freelancer and roots out the evil that hides behind money and doles out restitution. It’s not Revenge, it’s Restitution.

Kaare Kyle Andrews

CV: How long had the series been in development before publication?

KA: All my life? The moment I started it? Both answers are correct. When I create a new project I begin by filling a sketchbook and “thinking with my pencil”. I allow myself to explore and ask questions on the page and in real time. I work as quickly and deliberately as possible, unconcerned with quality or judgment. What that does is it allows me to draw from my backlog of ideas and stories and combine them with however I’m feeling in the moment. I fill up an entire sketchbook with words and pictures and ideas. The idea is that when that sketchbook is full, it will have hopefully created enough fuel and inspiration that I won’t help but plunge straight into the story. And if I ever get lost, I refer back to that initial sketchbook to remind myself of the core of the character and what I found so exciting about the concept in the first place. I made sure to include a few of those sketchbook pages in the trade. It’s something fans were asking for and the kind of additional material that I always find interesting from my favorite creators.

READ: Find out what we thought of RENATO JONES: THE ONE% in our review of #1!

CV: Correct me if I’m wrong, but is this your first creator-owned series? If so, what were the major differences between working on RENATO JONES: THE ONE% and say, working on a work for hire project, like IRON FIST: THE LIVING WEAPON?

KA: This is my first creator-owned work of any substance. My first published work was actually a very small print run (tiny) of an original creation called KIRIN: BATTLEGIRL. I had some sample pages that a small publisher saw and offered to publish it as a series before immediately going bankrupt. So only one issue was ever made. I eventually published it myself in a small anthology called Writers Bloc and that helped open some doors to both Wildstorm and Marvel. The plan was always to jump back and forth between a mainstream superhero book, which I’ve always loved, and a creator-owned book. But instead, I started a directing career and would bounce back and forth between superhero comics and movies. But after IRON FIST: THE LIVING WEAPON, which is being collected in March, I felt I owed it to myself to finally get back into the creator-owned world. And not only am I doing Renato Jones but I teamed up with my pals Troy Nixey and Dave McCaig to put together a contribution to Dark Horse Presents called THE BLACK SINISTER. That’s on sale now.

There actually is very little difference in writing and drawing a creator-owned book and writing and drawing a book for Marvel like IRON FIST. The process is the same for me. The sketchbook, the drawings, the ideas, the plots. The one difference is that with a book like IRON FIST I had to research the character. He has a dense history and I wanted to both honor the character, so I guess that’s a different aspect. You are ‘contributing’ as much as ‘creating’.

The other major difference is that a book like IRON FIST is limited to 20 page stories and RENATO JONES has no limitations. I think issue 1 was 36 pages? Every issue of RENATO JONES was over-sized and it creates a pretty hefty trade. You’d think that that kind of freedom is liberating, and it is, but it also makes writing each issue that much harder. Art likes constraints. It likes to slam up against them.

I guess the most substantial difference is that I own RENATO JONES. When you do a superhero book, you kind of take your turn at bat and then step away for the next guy. With RENATO JONES, there is no next guy. There never will be. A small aspect but also a cosmic shift for a creator. And I put that right on the cover.

Kaare Kyle Andrews

CV: Renato seems to be the typical vigilante billionaire playboy, but with an origin that has a twist in the tale. How important was it for you to understand what drove Renato/The Freelancer?

KA: For me, RENATO JONES is all about what’s driving this guy. He’s a man pretending to be a dead man. And if he wasn’t, he would have been dead himself. He lives in a world that disgusts him… but in many ways also desires. When he puts the mask on, he becomes this machine of gleeful death and restitution. Without the mask he’s tightly wound with restraint and almost melancholy. He’s a walking identity crisis and I relate to him entirely, if not literally then metaphorically.

CV: The One% are terrifying and almost bordering on caricature. Yet they feel very real. Is this a reflection of what you observe happening in the real world?

KA: Yes. The whole book was created as an observation of the real world. Like, if you created a book now, in this world, our world, who would the real villains be? And who would have the capacity to make them pay? I just never bought a man had to turn into a super-human to stop a bank robbery. Doesn’t make sense today. Our prisons are full. America imprisons more of its own than any other country in the world. Isn’t that crazy? Bank robbers aren’t the problem, but the banks are. Real evil hides behind wealth. And they’re untouchable.

The villains are heightened, cartoons even. But open the front page of any newspaper this morning and you’ll find the same cartoonish figures grabbing headlines today. We are in a new world and in many ways, RENATO JONES is simply the cries of a comic creator coming to terms with that situation.

READ: We delve deep into RENATO JONES: THE ONE% #2 to #5 with a detailed review here!

CV: The faux advertisements placed throughout the series are a brilliant touch. Were they always planned to be featured as part of the comic, or were they incorporated afterwards?

KA: I’ve always loved ads in comics. Growing up, it was part of the rhythm of reading them. When I started RENATO JONES I thought I’d approach real brands but the closer I got to publishing, it became much more interesting to satirize them. I’ve always loved the fake commercials in RoboCop and Starship Troopers and I used to read Adbusters when I was in art school. I just started experimenting and making myself laugh. That’s always a good sign. And by issue 5, I feel like I finally harnessed the placement and content of the ads to help with the storytelling.

Kaare Kyle Andrews

CV: Your art style is powerful and full of energy. How much work, typically, would go into illustrating and coloring a single issue?

KA: So much work. So. Much. Work. I’m part of this Facebook group for comic pros and everyone in this industry works so hard. When you hear the kind of work hours any of us put into a week or a day, it can sound silly. And anytime I talk to people at a dinner party or something, very few people can relate to the man-hours you need to do comics. But it’s what I love. I am literally working all of the time. I try as hard as I can to give time to my kids and my wife but it can actually feel like Dexter, pretending to be normal, while fighting off the call of the Dark Passenger.

CV: Outside of lettering (by Jeff Powell), you pretty much do everything else in the book. Is that empowering, or can that be daunting? How important is it to have a good editor working with you on this?

KA: I’ve always loved doing as much of a thing as possible. I want to grab hold of the machine itself, not a single aspect. And you might think that means there would be little for an editor to do, but you’d be wrong. With a book at Image, I’m paying to work with Sebastian Girner out of my own pocket. And it’s worth every penny. Even at the big two, a great editor doesn’t ‘control’ you or ‘micro-manage’ you. A great editor will FUEL you to do great work. They’re a cheerleader and a friend. They nudge you to keep going, remind you to take care of the little things you might be missing along the way. And Sebastian not only does all of those things but he’s been working with Image for a long time now. He understands what they need, specifically. Even when you do almost everything, it’s nice to know you’re not alone. And both Sebastian and Jeff are vital elements to the success of Renato Jones.

CV: The series ends on a shocker. What should we expect from Season 2?

KA: If Season 1 was about raising questions, Season 2 is about answering them! The first issue is probably the most explosive and action filled, yet.

READ: Iron Fist is one of the most anticipated TV Shows for 2017! Check out our list of what we are looking forward to this year on the small screen!

CV: To wrap up, are there any future projects you want to mention to your fans?

KA: Sure. I’m currently writing IRON FIST for Marvel, illustrated by Afu Chan and that will be on sale this summer sometime. I have BLACK SINISTER coming out in Dark Horse Presents and my work on IRON FIST: THE LIVING WEAPON is being collected for the first time in one giant trade, in time for the new Netflix show. I’ll be directing a little more TV this year, which I can’t talk about just yet—but follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and I’ll try to keep you up to date.

CV: Kaare Kyle Andrews, thanks so much for your time.

KA: My pleasure.

RENATO JONES: THE ONE% TPB is released on the 11th of January in all good comic shops.

 

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