Giant robots, relationships, and robotic body horror abide in Rabbit Punch 

Break to Build

click to enlarge Rabbit Punch, from Hart Jeffers and Marcus Cripps, comes out this June - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Rabbit Punch, from Hart Jeffers and Marcus Cripps, comes out this June

In 2015, local writer Hart Jeffers and local artist Anthony Mingacci teamed up to launch a new sci-fi comic series, Sol, and in 2017, Jeffers teamed up with Filipino artist Butch Mapa to complete the series' second issue.

Now, following a connection with Marcus Cripps at Soundwave Comic Con last year, Jeffers and Cripps are starting the new year working on a brand new sci-fi Western comic series, Rabbit Punch, slated to come out this June.

Rabbit Punch explores the deep relationships between Lenny, his wife Reina, and their adopted family of Jazz, Brody, and Poncho, in a future where Earth's resources have been depleted and the planet abandoned. Using the scraps from a giant mecha* war to build their own robots, Lenny and his family intend to protect whatever is left of Earth from those who wish to destroy it.

*(Wiki break, "mecha" may refer to both scientific ideas and science fiction genres that focus on giant robots.)

Robots are a big part of the story — as they're the main tool for travel, and of course, fighting. The inspiration stems from Cripps' love of giant mecha robots from works like Gundam, Pacific Rim, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. In 2017, Cripps participated in Inktober, a month-long art challenge focusing on artists to improve their skills and drawing habits.

click to enlarge Cripps - PROVIDED
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  • Cripps

"I really wanted to deconstruct a giant robot," Cripps said. "And break down the components, get the schematics — and I did that for the first six days. Then, the next six days, I reconstructed all of that, and put it back together. It was really just a warm up exercise to get it all on paper. Then on day 13, I created the pilot for that robot, and realized I could run with a story for this."

His deconstruction and reconstruction will also play a role in the series.

"There's definitely going to be a horror element to the book," Jeffers says. "More of a robot body horror, though. You know, human body horror is gross, but robot body horror is OK."

While giant robots, space exploration, and robotic body horror will be in the book, focus remains on the relationship between the characters, which Jeffers explained using a story wheel he had created on the spot. This is when the collaborative process really took its shape. As he explained the circle, Cripps and Amber Vasquez, their creative assistant, helped develop new character relationships, throw out old ones, and adjust existing ones. The story started to reveal itself as they shared ideas.

While they discussed story ideas and character relationships, City Paper's own Steve Stegelin, the book's editor, listened to their ideas, looking for themes and connections, or ideas that may not work.

click to enlarge Jeffers - PROVIDED
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  • Jeffers

"It's like being in a band," Jeffers said. "We're all trying to put together this album or song, we all have our own voices, and piecing together this giant puzzle. We're bringing something to life."

"The characters that we're designing are extensions of ourselves," added Cripps. "Like Jazz — she's quiet, laid back, and keeps to herself — that's literally me. Everyone else is throwing their own personal flavors, their quirks, into all these different characters. Which, to me, really makes this comic feel personal."

The book may not arrive until June at Charlotte's HeroesCon, but readers can get a taste at Captain's Comic Expo this weekend, when Cripps, Jeffers, Vasquez, and Stegelin will be showcasing preview art and giving glimpses into the world of Rabbit Punch. There, potential fans of the book will be able to purchase prints or original art from the creative team.

click to enlarge PROVIDED
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And beginning this March, Cripps and Jeffers will be releasing mini-comics focusing on the individual characters, to connect readers with Lenny, Reina, Brody, Jazz, or Poncho before the official release of the book.

Meanwhile, you can get updates for Rabbit Punch and its accompanying mini-comics on Cripps' Instagram and Patreon, or by signing up for their email list.

Captain's Comic Expo takes place this Sat. Feb. 23 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sun. Feb. 24, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. $10/Sunday ticket, $15/Saturday ticket, $20/two-day ticket, $40/VIP two-day ticket. Omar Shrine Temple, 176 Patriots Point Road. Mt. Pleasant. captainscomicexpo.com.

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