11 Questions with Josh Finney and Kat Rocha

And continuing the trend of 11 Questions, I have another one for your reading pleasure.

I’ve had the pleasure to have Josh Finney (Writer/Artist) and Kat Rocha (Artist) who are the creators of the fantastic Titanium Rain which will be coming out from Archaia in August this year.

Check out more about Titanium Rain at their website or check our the trailer after the interview.

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  • What initiated your interest in comics?

Josh:
Uhhh…this is a trick questions, isn’t it? You’re trying to goad me into saying something monumentally embarrassing, like I read the Archie’s, or that there’s a pile of Lulu comics hidden under my bed that I’ve kept there since I was child! And on days when I’m down, I’ll pull them out and enjoy all the sickeningly sweet stories of wholesome goodie good niceties. It’s a loving child-safe world where froo-froo bunnies sleep in their feetie-pajama and polk-a-dotted toad stools blows candy kisses to the happy stars. I say this, then you’ll plaster it all over the internet in a tell-all expose, “Josh Finney, macho Titanium Rain guy, says Lulu comics makes him weep sissy tears of sissy joy.” Sorry, man. Ain’t gonna happen, buddy!!! Er…uhhh…yeah, so what sparked my interest in comics? It’s hard to say. I recall as far back as five-years-old being intrigued by the newspaper funnies. The sequential nature of the art/story-telling always struck me as superior to the big stack of illustrated story books my parents had for me at that age. In the books the art was static. Comics on the other hand, the art was just as alive as the prose were. And consequentially, I’ve been doodling comics for fun most of my life…even before I realized it was what I wanted to do with myself.

Kat:
Not surprisingly, my interest came from the X-Men cartoon. I was obsessed with that show as a kid. I remember in first grade, my best friend and I would talk for hours about the characters — who we liked best, who we wanted to be, who should fight who. Typical stuff. Then one summer day, he brought over a suitcase filled with all of his X-Men action figures and…wait for it…COMICS! Finding out my favorite show had literally decades worth of comics behind it was awesome! It didn’t matter that my friend didn’t have full runs of any of the stories! It was the X-Men, damn it! And I was going to read every one he’d stuffed into that suitcase!


  • Was it always your dream to work in comics or did you somehow ‘fall into it’?

Josh:
In 2001 I made the conscious decision I would make a career of comics. I’ve never looked back.

Kat:
Hehe…In 2002, I was in college and really not sure what the hell I was doing there. I’d always wanted to follow art as my career path, but didn’t really know where I wanted to go…and hadn’t really coughed up the guts yet to do it. Then one day, out of the blue, Josh told he was going to pursue a career in comics, and asked if I’d like to come along. The rest is history.

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  • Who do you look up to as influences?

Josh:
The guy who invented Viagra. That guy is a genius. Anything I do, anything I create, I always have the image of Doctor Dale Viagra, Jr. at the forefront of my mind. I think to myself, how can I be more like him? How can my art and my creations affect the world the same way Viagra has? When someone has finished a story of mine, I want them to be sporting the biggest woody of their life! I want them so overtaken by the mood, they want to grab their lover and say, “It’s Hammer-time, baby!” Uhhh…you’re going to hurt me now, aren’t you? Your mad. I can tell. You’re making that “I’m a mad Australian-face” again…I’ve seen it before. Last time you interviewed me, I think. Okay…okay…I’ll give a serious answer….if just because you’re a lot bigger than me and I don’t need any more injuries today. Sooooo my influences?

Well, writing-wise, I was raised on a steady diet of classic sci-fi. I read a lot of Asimov especially. Then at age fourteen my father brought home a copy of William Gibson’s Neuromancer and life was never the same again. Gibson’s prose, especially his earlier work, when he was still angry, has stuck with me to this day.

In my adult years I’ve found myself deeply affected by Mamoru Oshii’s body of work –Avalon, Jin-Roh, and of course, all things Ghost in the Shell. His approach to sci-fi, the way it operates on multiple levels, is something I strive for in my own work. I admire how Oshii can weave a gripping sci-fi tale that is full of action and drama, and yet still be deeply rooted in high philosophical concepts. As well, the way he frames his shots, assembles his scenes — all have made their way into what I do. Although, I suppose the same could be said about Ridley Scott.

Other personal heroes would include John Carpenter, Gene Roddenberry, and Hunter S. Thompson, Andy Kaufman. And on a few occasions some have accused me of channeling Harlan Ellison — although I believe they were speaking in regards to my “charming personality” and not my writing skill.

Kat:
I attribute my desire to draw to flipping through my the copy of the AD&D player’s handbook my mom bought for me as a kid. All that old-school D&D art really stuck with me. As I headed into high school the White Wolf games caught my eye and I was introduced to Tim Bradstreet and Brom. Other artists who really get me inspired are Michael Manning and Marini.


  • Where did you develop your unique art style?

Josh:
The year was 1999 and I’d just had dental-work done. A wire-retainer had just been fixed to my lower front teeth. I’d begun to hear voices. At first I though I was losing my mind. Then I realized it! The retainer! It was acting as an antenna! I was receiving extra-dimensional transmissions from an alien hive-mind and…er…what? What?! You’re making the “mad Australian-face” again. Stop it! You’re scaring me! Christ! Okay… Okay… How’d our art style develop! Yeah! I heard you already! You don’t have to twist my nuts!!!

The style we created for Titanium Rain was an outgrowth of work I’d done for a few gaming companies. I’ve been a prolific 3D modeler for years, as well as a digital painter, and back in the early 2000s I started meshing styles. Then a company hired me to do box art for a Mechwarrior-type game, which required these fantastic scenes of giant robots blazing across a war torn earth. That was the initial seed of the Titanium Rain style. Problem was, it was still a bit cold looking. Too polished, too hyper-realistic. So I started working with Kat to bring in a more organic feel to the process.

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  • Do you find it different using only a digital medium rather than the traditional pencil and ink style?

Josh:
Very different. It’s safe to say the Titanium Rain’s style, or Digital Realism as I call it, could not exist without computers.

Kat:
The undo button is a marvelous invention! No messy pencil marks and it’s instantaneous.
Probably one of the biggest hurdles for me, though, was going from being a strictly paper and pencil woman to all digital. There are a lot of benefits to paper…being able to judge how big my piece really is compared to what I’m looking at on-screen, for instance. I really like to hunch down and get really close to my drawing. On the computer, it’s a totally difference experience. Instead of hunching down, it’s the zoom function. Putting pressure on the stylus for a darker, thicker line if VERY different from a pencil.


  • If you had your pick of any property within the comic book medium to work on what would it be?

Josh:
Okay, you won’t believe me since I’ve been such a twerp in this interview, but in all seriousness, I would love to get my hands on a few of DC’s characters. Specifically there’s a Mister Terrific / Power Girl story I’ve been dying to tell. Being an atheist and a mentat myself, I have a special affinity for the Terrific character. The chance to get inside his head and do a tale that explores how this man ticks would be a lot of fun.

Other properties I want to try my hand at would be Grendel Tales, The Surrogates, and Judge Dredd. I realize none of these titles are a huge leap from the kind of stories I already do, but…

Kat:
Susan from Grendel Tales. Most kick ass Grendal character ever. For mainstream characters? I say Huntress. Gotta be the Huntress.

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  • There is any way we will get to see a return of the Utopiates world and the possibility of a trade of the original mini series?

Josh:
Unreadable reality error. Data may be lost. Abort. Retry. Fail. Uhhhh…next question!


  • How have you found the reaction to your books?

Josh:
Well, Bryan Deemer of Comic Geek Speak once said on-air that Titanium Rain was like a punch in the gut from a REALLY HOT STRIPPER. No joke. So I suppose that lands me closer to my goal of following in the footsteps of Doctor Dale Viagra, Jr. But aside from Deemer’s strong reaction to our work, the two things we hear the most are either the unique nature of the art, or strength of the writing. I recall one reviewer actually saying, “Wow…this isn’t just another comic. This is like, you know, a real story!” Which, if you think about it, shouldn’t be a rarity in a medium like comics, which is supposed to be all about art and text forming a story. Oh well. That’s how it is. What else can we do? Murder Rob Liefield in his sleep? The damage has been done. Unless there’s a way to jump back to 1991 and go all Terminator on the guy, we’re still stuck slogging our way out of the art-over-story trend of the 1990’s.

Kat:
The thing is, even if you could go back and murder Leifield, the space-time continuum would probably attempt to correct any glitch in timeline, and the next thing you know, we’d find out Liefield survived! He’d, like, get out of the hospital with a wicked scar and be more popular than we could have imagined possible. Then in an interview he would say the inspiration for his crappy art came to him the night he was attached by a crazed mad man wielding a knife and screaming, “Why the fuck can’t you draw feet?!”

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  • What has been the greatest thing you have either done or been told about your work since you started in the industry?

Josh:
Okay. Now I know you’re fucking with me. That’s two questions, and you damn well know it! Greatest thing I’ve done? Managing to insult an entire audience of uptight geeks with a bullshit spoiler regarding Archie #600. Let’s just say some people didn’t much care for my heartwarming tale of Archie becoming a homeless drunk straining grain-alcohol through burnt pieces of toast he’d found in the trash. The amount of hate mail I’ve received for that on-air fumble has been epic.

Kat:
Convention attendee’s reactions to a certain art-piece of mine I like to call, “The Power Tool.” Come see me at the San Diego Comic Con or shoot me an email if your curious. Warning, it’s very much an NC-17 piece.


  • Most of the comics you have created so far have fit into the Science Fiction realm, would you like to try your hands at anything different?

Josh:
Absolutely. I’m a sci-fi guy at heart and I do have an abundance of story concepts I’d like to see take flight. But amongst all the futuristic tales there’s a fair share of twisted horror, modern mythology, and crime noir. I have a Mafioso re-telling of MacBeth set in 1970’s New York that I want very badly to take shape. Imagine the classic MacBeth, but done like Goodfellas. There’s also a horror story set in 1960’s San Francisco, which I’ve dubbed The Electric Kool-Aide Acid Test meets Lovecraft. I’m hoping once Kat and I get a bit more of a name in the industry these projects can find homes.

Kat:
Children’s stories, actually. I was very inspired by Mouse Guard. I’ve got this idea for a book entitled “Sammy Squirrel’s New Suit” where Sammy discovers that he really wants to be a beautiful lady-squirrel, so he starts kidnapping the female squirrels in the neighborhood and… ack! Josh is right! That angry Australian face you do is scary. Ok, honestly, horror. I’m currently writing a horror story set during the depression. Carnivale definitely had a hand in inspiring the setting, as well as Pete’s Dragon. No joke. I was always intrigued by the snake oil salesman as a kid.

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  • Apart from each other who would you like to work with in the industry either on your own or as a team?

Josh:
Ideally, we’d like a situation in which I’m writing for numerous artists on multiple books, and then have one “prime” book which Kat and I do the art on. As a creator, there’s no way I could write and illustrate more than one book at a time. But writing? Not a problem. I can write and illustrate one project, while still producing scripts for at least one or two more books. So that’s where I’d like to go next. Frankly, I’d kill to script a book for Martheus Wade to illustrate. Martheus is the artist/co-writer of Jetta, and his art is amazing! Likewise, Alex Eckman-Lawn would be my ideal choice for the The Electric Kool-Aide Acid Test meets Lovecraft story. Other artists I would love to work with? Ross Cambell, Michael Manning, Mark Harrison, Chandra Free…maybe Jack Kirby’s animated corpse.

Kat:
I can’t see myself working with anybody else really. I’d rather concentrate on my own projects as well as any ideas that Josh comes up with.

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I’d like to thank Kat and Josh for their time in taking part of this interview and you should check out the Titanium Rain website for all information about the book. Also you can follow Kat Rocha and Titanium Rain on Twitter.

And now for the trailer:

9 Responses to “11 Questions with Josh Finney and Kat Rocha”

  1. Alan says:

    Great interview, interesting people. And awesome artwork in those frames you’ve posted throughout the interview.

  2. Jason Wright says:

    Great interview! Josh is great with that deadpan delivery that makes you stop and figure out if he’s bs-ing or not, but he and Kat are always great to listen to.

  3. Dave Williams says:

    Very enjoyable.

  4. Josh Finney says:

    Frankly, this was one of the most enjoyable interviews we’ve done. Kat and I had a lot of fun. Lthough, I do feel the need to point out that the last sample page displayed here has a LORD SHAPER cameo in it!

  5. Lord Shaper says:

    And I was waiting for people to notice that themselves Josh hehehehe…

    It actually went around at work as well and people loved it.

    Thanks for all the comments guys!

  6. kat says:

    Hey, if I hadn’t said so before, this interview was extreamly fun. Thank you for interviewing us. 🙂 You ROCK!!!

    -kat

  7. Lord Shaper says:

    It’s no problem at all Kat… And thanks for putting me in the book! heh

  8. grantbond says:

    looks awesome!