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James Turner talks REX LIBRIS

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The astonishing story of the incomparable Rex Libris, Head Librarian at Middleton Public Library, and his unending struggle against the forces of ignorance and darkness. With the aid of an ancient god who lives beneath the library branch, Rex travels to the farthest reaches of the galaxy in search of overdue books.

We spoke with creator, James Turner, about Rex Libris.

Can you give our readers a synopsis of Rex Libris?

Rex Libris comicJames Turner: Rex Libris is a comic book about the agents of the Ordo Bibliotheca, a secret organization of librarians who work to disseminate knowledge and protect civilization from the forces of darkness. It also includes buttertarts.

The Big Bad Wolf: Who are the main characters?

James Turner: The lead is Rex, a tough, take charge kind of guy who's head librarian at Middleton Public Library. He works with Circe, the reformed sorceress, and Hypatia Phoenix, a young woman fresh from getting her MLIS. Other characters include Simonides, a megalomaniacal former stoic philosopher who was turned into a small bird by Circe, and Thoth, former Egyptian God and now library administrator.

The Big Bad Wolf: Obviously this isn’t a blood and gore horror comic, but a comedy book mixed with monsters and more. What types of monsters do we see Rex cross paths with?

James Turner: Pretty much anything I can think of, from dragons to chain-smoking Nazi zombie commandos.

I've thrown in Theromyzons, Phthireans, Xixuloob, distempered anemones, Alkuntane, Samurai Demon, Strontians, Subdergids, the Squidosaurus, killer rabbits, Ukk, gigantic Imperial War Penguins, Floot, Yeti, and Bibliognomes.

Creatures from novels, mythology, and short stories (Cthulhu and his unnameable minions, for example) also make appearances. Sometimes just at the periphery, but they're there.

There's even an excerpt from a mythical compendium of monsters in issue 7. It was a lot of fun to do, with a semi-serious tone masking ridiculous material, but it wound up being a lot more work than I had expected. I should have put in more pictures.

The Big Bad Wolf: With all the good press that this book has received, why are you ending this series with issue #13?

James Turner: There were a number of reasons, but the bottom line is that sales were low. Sales for independent comics have been declining, and with the recession, that trend is only going to continue. The field is as financially anemic as it is creatively vibrant. Rex Libris comic

Rex actually would have been cancelled at issue 10, but SLG let me keep it going until issue 13 so I could wrap up some story lines. Of course, material I was saving for later I squeezed in (such as the Tenebrati) to the remaining issues. Just couldn't resist.

To be perfectly honest, I'm very happy the comic lasted as long as it did. It was experimental and eccentric from the get-go. It never would have lasted as long as it did without the support of many librarians, for which I'm very grateful.

Speaking of libraries, I did a good deal of research for the comic in one, and the fact that Karl Marx wrote much of Das Kapital in a public library just goes to show the range the institution. It's a wonderful, free resource centre for all citizens to use. It's remarkable when you think about it. We don't use them enough. Just go in and browse the stacks and you'll find something fascinating. It's inevitable in a good library.

The Big Bad Wolf: How often is the book released, and what issue are you currently on?

James Turner: The book was released quarterly, and I wrapped the series up in October of last year with issue 13.

The Big Bad Wolf: How much is the book?

James Turner: I believe the later issues are four bucks a pop (or close enough); the earlier issues were three-fifty, but the first issue is free. That's right: free! Just order it from SLG. Of course you have to pay for shipping. That's not free. You may or may not like the comic. I guarantee it!

The Big Bad Wolf: Who’s the creative team on the book, or do you handle all the chores yourself?

James Turner: It's just me and my reference library.

Rex Libris comicThe Big Bad Wolf: Where can our readers find out more about Rex Libris?

James Turner: I have a website for the series up here: http://www.jtillustration.com/rex/ I've posted up background information on the Ordo, secrets of the Dewey Decimal System, and a Rexopedia resource centre where people can find out about various aspects of the Rexiverse. Far more than any sane person would read. So I'm told.

The Big Bad Wolf: What would you like to say to readers that may have never tried Rex Libris?

James Turner: It's fun, silly, and action packed. The later issues even more so, and conveniently, they're coming out this April in a trade collection called Rex Libris: Book of Monsters. It's jam packed with hideous, man-eating beasties.

The artwork for the series is all done up on the computer in a vector based drawing program, so the look is a bit unusual and might take some getting used to.

The Big Bad Wolf: What are you working on now?

James Turner: I've got a new series coming out this year (debuting in April) called Warlord of Io. It's about a young new emperor (and aspiring rock star) who implements much needed social reforms on the moon of Io, only to be immediately overthrown by his warmongering generals and forced to flee across the solar system for his life. It's very retro- future in a Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers/Dan Dare kind of way. But with a twist.

The Big Bad Wolf: Thank you for your time, James! Best of luck with your future books! Hopefully Rex will make a comeback some day soon.

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Published on: 2009-02-09 (1391 reads)

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