Quick and Talky With Rick and Morty: Tini Howard on PokeJokes

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It’s almost impossible to exist on planet Earth and not have at least heard about Rick and Morty. The cartoon follows the obscure adventures of Morty, your average 14 year old dude, and his alcoholic, genius scientist grandfather Rick as they go on weird, wonderful, and sometimes morally challenging adventures through the universe–and many of its parallels.

Rick and Morty‘s rapidly-growing cult following has boomed since the recent start of Season 3, dropping weekly episodes every Sunday night on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming block–or Netflix in the UK. A Rick and Morty comic series has been running since 2015, but I got a look at the new miniseries Pocket Like You Stole It, which takes a Poké-tinted view of our “heroes,” and (thanks to SDCC) the chance to ask writer Tini Howard some questions.

Before we start, a word of warning. Rick and Morty: Pocket Like You Stole It is a comic book for… 😎Older Teens😎. You gotta be 16+ or you can’t have the book. That’s right! No babies allowed!

Now continue, if you dare.

Rick & Morty, Pocket Like You Stole It, Oni Press, 2017, (W) Tini Howard (A) Marc Ellerby (C) Katy Farina (CA) (Cover A) Marc Ellerby with Katy Farina (Cover B) D.J. Kirkland

Tini, do you like Pokémon, or are you a pokéskeptic? To your mind is this comic a critique of Pokémon, or is Pokémon just the inspiration?

I think Pokémon are adorable, and as such, what could be a pretty dark concept takes place in an adorable world, where the Pokémon all love their trainers. But Rick and Morty is anything but adorable. It’s like, deliberately unsettling. And as such, the Rick and Morty homage to Pokémon has got to be unsettling as well! Marc [Ellerby, line artist] and Katy [Farina, colourist] can’t help but make adorable art, though—some of their Mortys are so squishable.

Is this comic purposefully very separate from the TV series, in an isolated universe, or will we be surprised as the plot unfolds?

We’re as canon as anything else in the Rick and Morty ‘verse, seeing as the world of the show is infinite. But who knows? The Council of Ricks, probably. Those a-holes.

Rick & Morty, Pocket Like You Stole It, Oni Press, 2017, (W) Tini Howard (A) Marc Ellerby (C) Katy Farina (CA) (Cover A) Marc Ellerby with Katy Farina (Cover B) D.J. Kirkland

Is this c-137 Rick?

I think the official designation is the Rickstaverse—sometimes I think I should think about that more, but then I remember that the confirmed infinite universes of the show posit a reality that is as meaningless as it is freeing, and go back to making dick and butt jokes.

Will we see other R&M regulars turning up along the way?

Oh yes—as a team, Marc, Katy, Ari [Yarwood, editor] and I are all big Jerry Smith fans. You’ll see some Jerry in this book, that’s a promise. I also really, really love the Interdimensional Cable episodes, so I like to throw in nods to them as often as possible.

The dialogue is apt for the characters; did you receive any input or critiques from the show’s writers? What can you tell us about the editorial process on this, a licensed comic, as it differs from working on a creator-owned comic?

Ah, thank you for that! I really try and get the cadence and tone of the characters right. Dialogue is my favorite thing to write, and it’s so important for a show like Rick and Morty. I haven’t gotten any direct dialogue notes from our licensor, though Justin [Roiland, one of the show’s creators]’s approval means the world to me, you know? It’s funny, I spend a lot of time imagining the words I’m writing coming out of his mouth, so it’s a special kind of approval from him. Ari, our editor, is a champ in this industry. She’s involved, eager, organized, and fun, which is a magical collection of traits for an editor to have. She’s put together a great team of creators who collaborate to make Rick and Morty one of the best-licensed books on shelves (even, especially, the ones I don’t write), and it’s a blast when we all come together. Definitely, this has been one of the most team-focused licensed book experiences I’ve ever had.

Similarly, do you ever find yourself wanting to give a character you favour a moment that’s technically “out of canon” — for example, speaking as a Doctor Who fan, sometimes a character will have a “cool” moment when they’re supposed to be a loser. Do you find it hard to rein in your own enthusiasms as a fan?

Funny story— originally, one of the issues started with a three-page peek into Mr. Poopybutthole’s life. For no other reason except I think that character’s hilarious and wanted to write him. It got cut, so. Yes, I did, haha.

Rick & Morty, Pocket Like You Stole It, Oni Press, 2017, (W) Tini Howard (A) Marc Ellerby (C) Katy Farina (CA) (Cover A) Marc Ellerby with Katy Farina (Cover B) D.J. Kirkland

What would you say to hardcore R&M fans that would sell the comic to them and make them want to buy it? How would you personally synopsise the plot concept? I am a pretty hardcore fan and I want to be convinced…most fans would be used to seeing R&M as a duo, not as “enemies.” It makes me a little sad! Where has the love gone?

Honestly, the recent Season 3 episode Vindicators III made me smile because tonally it felt a lot like our book! It focused on Morty’s feelings and doubts over Rick’s, so if you’re a Vindicators III fan and want more insight into Morty, give our book a try! A basic plot synopsis is that in trying to ensure his own freedom, Morty decides that it’s not just worth it to save yourself. And learns he’s more like his grandfather than he wants to admit.

Rick & Morty, Pocket Like You Stole It, Oni Press, 2017, (W) Tini Howard (A) Marc Ellerby (C) Katy Farina (CA) (Cover A) Marc Ellerby with Katy Farina (Cover B) D.J. Kirkland

Thanks Tini! Rick and Morty: Pocket Like You Stole It is half-out, half-in right now. Issue three will be published by Oni on the thirteenth of September.

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