One of the most violent and infamous characters of 90’s comics was Everette Hartsoe’s “Razor”. The series was launched by Hartsoe with $1,200 he got from a tax refund and a desire to create the type of comic book that he wanted to read. Razor was raw, gritty and offered up some brutal violence that hadn’t been seen in comics since the Comics Code Authority campaigned against old EC Comics back in the day. Razor pulled no punches and fans embraced the series ultra-violence and the gritty crime noir storytelling.
Now after a decade of radio silence, Hartsoe has returned and is re-launching “Razor” via Kickstarter with a gritty 150+ page graphic novel “Razor: Scars”. This massive graphic novel expands upon the origin of Razor and is the perfect way to bring the character kicking and screaming into today’s modern era. The book is also in development as a feature film by Jeff Most Productions, the production company behind “The Crow” feature film.
Bloody-Disgusting caught up with Hartsoe to talk about the re-launch of “Razor” and one of comics most deadly female characters of all time.
Bloody-Disgusting: Talk about the genesis for the RAZOR: SCARS GRAPHIC NOVEL and how this project started?
Everette Hartsoe: My producing partner Jeff Most came up with a story line for Razor before she became Razor as a loose outline for the movie concept. So I took the basic idea and added some of her established history in past comics, like her time in the asylum. I wanted to expand on that time in her life more and see if we could dig deeper into what transformed her into the Razor of today. The guide for telling the story as flashbacks when she looks over her scars just seemed to bring the right emotional tone I was looking for in this new book.
BD: How does this incarnation of Razor differ from the original? Is it a complete re-launch of the character?
EH: I would say it is a re-launch and many back-story mythos will be different than the 90’s series. Some changes are minor but there are many questions in Nicole’s history that will be answered. I had to revamp this character to make sense in 2013.
BD: Why re-launch the character now and why go through Kickstarter verses the typical distribution channels?
EH: The “typical” distribution channel (Diamond Distribution) is owned by DC comics/Warner Bros, and while there are independent publishers putting books out through this company, it no longer lends itself to underground self-publishers. You have to hit certain goals or orders get canceled. You have to spend X amount of dollars in ad space or no one sees you. While on Kickstarter, everyone is equal in each category. No project is sent to the back of the bus, because they have less funds than the project listed beside of them. Plus fans can interact directly with the creators in an relaxed environment, via comment section and update sections as well as direct email. Fans literally are working out deals one on one with the creator. I love that aspect of it. It as if you are at a comic book convention talking face to face making deals with the fan.
BD: Where were you when you heard the news that you had met your fundraising goal and what was your reaction?
EH: Well we hit it in 5 hours, so I was at my drawing board watching the Kickstarter page.
BD: Now that this Kickstarter campaign has been successful does it open the door to bring back any other London Nights characters?
EH: It absolutely opens the door for more characters and comics coming directly from me. I’m already planning my next project once Razor: Scars has shipped to all my backers. Zombie Hunter X written by my wife who also serves as the model for the main character Jenni Tonic will be a fun sexy violent B-movie style book, so it’ll be “From Dusk till Dawn” meets “Dawn of the Dead”
BD: There are critics that argue that Kickstarter should be a platform for unknown artists, and that established properties should be allowed to use the service. What do you think?
EH: Well since 75% of my backers never heard of me or Razor, I’d say I’m “unknown” on there as well (Laughs). But for famous people and movie producers, I don’t see any problem with reaching out directly to fans to be a part of the project. This just gives the fan the ability to choose how deep he wants to be invested in the project instead of just buying the book or movie ticket. Now he can say, “I backed this project.” Now that is a much better story to tell . The backer is now emotionally and financially invested in the success of that project. I honestly never thought I’d return to doing comics, but Kickstarter changed that and gave this old artist a new lease on his creative life.
BD: During the ’90s Razor and London Nights were at the forefront of the “Bad Girl” trend in comics. What was your take on the term and the part that Razor played in the bad girl explosion?
EH: I always thought the term was fine, but since we came out in ’91-92 and the “term” Bad Girl comics started in 93- 94, I guess Razor was one of or the 1st Bad Girl comic, right? I don’t know, so really I didn’t give a fuck about terms. I just wanted to do the books and stories that I wanted to read all the other shit was smoke.
BD: How hard was it to watch so many publishers jump on the band wagon and flood the market with “Bad Girl” books that had zero substance just to try and cash in on trends?
EH: That type of thing happens in all industries, from horror movies to clothing companies. Never bothered me, I keep rolling and doing my thing. I slowly started to realize I had a thinking, writing and drawing style all my own. So stay true to yourself and that can’t be copied or duplicated no matter what.
BD: You operated London Nights Studios and proudly waived the flag for independent publishers from 1992 through 1999 and sold over 5 million comics. What happened back then that caused you to shut things down and how has the business conditions of today’s market changed to make it the perfect time for a comeback?
EH: The distribution was the reason many indie companies folded their tents at the end of the 90’s. Comic shops in the US went from 10,000 – 15,000 to a few thousand stores almost overnight. Diamond/DC comics/WB put up new rules and restrictions on publishers and that forced other distributors out of business. Plain and simple, you just could not make the money you once could. So I went into internet marketing and made the same if not better money in the past decade. I didn’t see a reason to return, until now. The movie is closing in on the final script development phase with an A-list writer, director with a few franchise blockbusters under his belt. At the time of this interview I cannot publicly say who he is, but his draft will be complete after the July 4th holiday and I look forward to reading it. The producers needed a fresh Razor book out in the market before announcements are made, so I toyed around a few ways to distribute it and Kickstarter just seemed like the best way to get the word out and get the product into the real fans, that really want to try this book and be on the ground level of a grassroots movement.
BD: During the London Knights days you had some of the most fanatical fans. What were some of the craziest things that fans did to show their dedication to you and the characters?
EH: Our fans were some of the most amazing and this is a question I do have a definitive answer for, but I cannot say in this interview full details, let’s just say we had some crazy female fans and I’ll leave it at that. (Laughs)
BD: Jeff Most Productions, the production company behind The Crow, optioned the movie rights for Razor. What can you tell us about the current movie options and where the project currently stands?
EH: Jeff Most with Most Films have teamed up with a hit producing director that is now finishing up the latest script. We are very close to having our Razor, but we are waiting to announce properly in all the trades. I personally don’t have a particular actress I would choose over another. The director has ideas and so does the producer. I just want to see Razor, not “that actress” playing Razor.
BD: In closing, give us your best elevator pitch to fans to contribute to the Kickstarter and jump on board in the closing days.
EH: I’ve decided to not go through traditional distribution channels to mass produce this product, but would rather keep the product more intimate to my backers and keep value high. The story itself will be a more personal cinematic representation of the character in which I pull from my own life’s history of losing my own sister to a senseless act of violence. Razor is an emotional roller coaster ride that will leave you drained when you put the book down. Plus the campaign is jammed-packed with swag, metal cards, the hobby markets’ 1st metal tarot card , tons of original art, so you just can’t beat the value and being a backer gets you the first direct invite from me to the first screenings of the Razor movie. The backer will stay in the loop as we roll out more exciting news. We become like family in a way and that makes crowd-funding so damn special.