Rantz Hoseley Returns to Little Earthquakes
We chat with the creator about revisiting Tori Amos' landmark album in graphic novel form.
Thirty years ago, Tori Amos' "Little Earthquakes" dropped, altering the landscape of cool forever. The album also directed several eyes toward Neil Gaiman and his Sandman epic, thanks to a rad reference in the song "Tear in Your Hand" ("If you need me, me and Neil'll be hanging out with the Dream King. Neil says 'hi', by the way"). New obsessions were born on both sides - a glorious relationship.
How did Tori become such a fan? Writer/Producer Rantz Hoseley put the comics in her hands. And today, we have Hoseley in our Love Nest to talk about the Little Earthquakes Graphic Album adaptation he's shepherding for Z2 Comics.
"At the time that Tori was writing and recording Little Earthquakes," says Hoseley, "I was staying at her place in Hollywood. I was in the process of auditioning, trying out for a storyboard job for The Simpsons, which was about to start its first season. It was not a quick process, so weeks and weeks went by, and to fill the empty spaces, we would spend afternoons going to places like Golden Apple and Hi De Ho Comics."
The two stores were and still are treasure troves. We've spent a few hours locked within their walls, and it's always hard to pull away. There is always a masterpiece or two within reach, and in those days, Sandman was kicking off something fierce. As you probably know, it's the kind of comic you desperately want to share.
"At one point when [Tori] was over," continues Hoseley, "she said, 'Okay, what of these do I need to read?' And I gave her the Calliope issue of Sandman [#17]. She read that and was like, 'This is great. Is there more of this?' Which led to her mentioning Neil in 'Tear in Your Hand.' So, there was a lot of comic book energy and vibes in the process of recording those songs and through my invasion of her space while she was writing and recording."
Rantz Hoseley quickly learned how music and comics could connect and become something else. All art is in relationship with itself. Gaiman's initial influence on Tori Amos and Hoseley eventually led to Comic Book Tattoo, a graphic novel anthology influenced by the songwriter's tunes.
"When we did Comic Book Tattoo," he says, "part of the point of that project was to show how different art forms feed off each other. There's this reciprocal energy that comes from visual art, and narrative art and musical art. They are open and receptive to it; they feed each other."
Hoseley looks back on Comic Book Tattoo with great fondness. However, when it came time to attempt something similar with Little Earthquakes, Hoseley considered a few improvements, starting with shape and size. That first anthology was a beast!
"There were definite lessons learned from the process," says Hoseley. "One was, for instance, if you're going to do a square format book, perhaps don't make the book so many pages. When someone drops it on their foot, they break their foot. The third week after Comic Book Tattoo was out, I had someone send me a picture of their foot in a cast because they had dropped the hardcover on their foot and broken it. And I took great pride in that. [Laughter]. It's heavy. It is both emotionally and physically heavy. I joked that Comic Book Tattoo was not just reading material but also a defensive weapon and a workout technique."
What drives Hoseley as a creator is the chance to stretch and transform the medium. His belief in comics is incredibly intense, and he wants others to carry the same passion into their creations. The folks that bust up the obvious are the champions he wants to follow.
"The focus is to create stories that push the format," he says. "To have a lasting emotional impact. My critique of comics is that there's a lot of aggressively competent comics in the market. Both in terms of writing and in terms of the art. Give me something different. The format of sequential storytelling is so open to possibility if you approach it with an imaginative and open heart."
With comics, there are few obstacles standing between you and greatness. The financial hurdles are nowhere near as massive as what you'll find in film and TV. You can do it all on your own, or at the very least, with a small handful of collaborators.
"You are only limited by the physical reproduction constraints," Hoseley continues. "If you really challenge yourself, there's so much that you can do with the format and I see a lot of stuff that looks very nice and is very functional and is very professional and is just boring. I am much more drawn to someone whose draftsmanship for instance isn't as beautifully rendered, but there is that primal urgency and this authorial vision that they have. You know, it's burning inside of them and they're loving the format and they're loving the ability to break up how a sequence of images and words play off each other."
Done in the same spirit that produced the Eisner and Harvey award-winning Comic Book Tattoo back in 2008, Little Earthquakes gathers an all-star lineup of creators, including Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, David Mack, Leah Moore, Bilquis Evely, Colleen Doran, and more. The Graphic Album is scheduled for release in September, featuring three different formats.
"We're still early in it," says Hoseley. "The stories and scripts are almost all in at this point, and I'm not going to spoil anything or give any indications of things, but, again, the thing that's amazing is the diversity of voices in it. People are telling fantasy stories. You have people telling autobiographical stories. You have peaple telling stories about the tangential vectors of time and how these things work. Again, as a creator and as a reader, those are the things I love. With a great anthology there's a surprise on every page-turn."
First and foremost, Rantz Hoseley bursts with a passion for comics. Whether he's talking about the books he grew up devouring or the works he's steering as a creator today, Hoseley praises the medium's potential. Projects like Little Earthquakes bring different audiences together, helping music fans and comic fans discover each art form's joy. The anthology is a universe where worlds collide, and new ones are born from their smash-up.
We chatted with Hoseley for nearly an hour, and what you read above barely scratches the conversation's surface. If you want to hear the whole thing, please visit our Patreon feed, where this chat is unlocked and available to listen to for Free.
Be sure to follow Rantz Hoseley on Twitter HERE and Instagram HERE. You can keep track of everything else's he doing via his Linktree HERE. And, of course, you can order your Little Earthquakes Graphic Album directly from Z2 Comics HERE.
Follow the podcast on Facebook, on Instagram, and Twitter @CBCCPodcast, and you can follow hosts Brad Gullickson @MouthDork & Lisa Gullickson @sidewalksiren.
Send us your Words of Affirmation by leaving us a 5-Star Review on Apple Podcasts.
Podcast logo by Aaron Prescott @acoolhandfluke, podcast banner art by @Karen_XmenFan.