Robert Krause is the creative mind behind RAK Graphics. He’s has been releasing comics for decades and is well known as the creator of Chakan the Forever Man.

JOESEPH SIMON
The fantasy genre is an exciting form of storytelling! You’ve been telling fantasy stories since the ’80s. RAK Graphics started in the ’80s and has had a foot in fantasy since the start. I know that you are a fan of a wide variety of genres, forms of storytelling and you freely mix these into an interesting brew that results in what you release through RAK.

ROBERT KRAUS
I’m a big fan of pulps, like you. Pulps have been for over 100 years! Over time people have come to understand what a pulp is differently as time passes. Pulps covered all Genre fiction. Fantasy, horror, crime, science fiction, westerns, romance, and much much more!

JOESEPH
Realistically, we can’t have a discussion about fantasy without acknowledging pulps. Robert E. Howard’s stories including Conan were initially published in pulps as one of many examples. I thought it was a great opportunity to talk about the pulp influence on fantasy along with your creations.

When did you first come across pulps?

ROBERT
I was reading pulps before I knew they were pulps, lol! I used to read the old ace sci-fi doubles, the doc savage, shadow, and Conan paperbacks, the Burroughs, Wells, and Verne books not knowing they were reprints from the old pulps. I would find out their history later on, but I just knew I loved them.

JOESEPH
What was it about pulps that captivated you?

ROBERT
The action, the imagination, and the fact that there was a series of books with the same character that I could collect and read more about, kinda like comics. walking into a Walden’s Bookstore and seeing eight Conan paperbacks with those Frazetta covers, or a stack of Doc Savage books with Bama paintings, I had to read them!

Thundermace created by Robert Kraus and Rick Sellers

JOESEPH
How did pulps influence your work??

ROBERT
Without them stirring up my imagination, taking me to worlds unknown, I would not have been able to take my readers to the Ebon Void, or the Gore Pit, or other places my characters explore!

JOESEPH
Pulp authors didn’t have the creative freedom to self-publish. The stories of the famous pulp writers, writers whose creations have gone on to generate millions, if not billions of dollars after they died may shock people that many pulp writers, earned significantly less for their creations.

Today’s market is completely different. Creators like you have done, can self-publish. If you started prior to your birth, given the choice to write or illustrate, what would you have chosen to do? What pulp magazines would you submit to?

ROBERT
Probably write. So many great artists can illustrate stories, but my strength has always been my ideas and concepts, and those are better served with the written word. Weird Tales would be my choice, they had Lovecraft and Howard, so it would have been an honor to share a few pages with that company.

JOESEPH
The pulp writers had it rough. Self-publishing is incredibly rough as well. You’ve been at self-publishing since the ’80s which is an amazing feat in itself. Congratulations! Do you see any parallels between being a self-publisher and the plight of the pulp writer of the past?

ROBERT
Yeah, it’s a lot of work. doing anything that is halfway good takes a lot of effort, and you always have so much competition. They were competing for a place in their marketplace, and that is what I have done. I have carved out my niche and my cult following, as did they. Like them, I think in the future I will be better known than I am now, although I am not complaining, I have done very well, and have no regrets.

Thundermace interiors

JOESEPH
Most pulp creators were not artists. I love the illustrations that accompanied pulps. Your combination of text and art takes it a step further. I’m curious how influential pulp artwork and how it was laid out with the stories in pulps was to you.

ROBERT
well, I remember reading the early Burroughs editions with the Allen St. John interior pen and ink illustrations and wishing all books had them but in greater quantity. Imagine if the Conan books had a front piece illo by Frazetta for each story, or spot illos throughout the stories. wow!

JOESEPH
Who do you consider a pulp creator working today?

ROBERT
me, lol! seriously, there are writers doing their Lovecraft, Howard, or Burroughs-type adventures, I see them interviewed here and there, but I read the originators, not the imitators. to me, the men’s adventure series like the Mack Bolan, Executioner series, and particularly the destroyer series by Murphy and Sapir was the last era where a new type of pulp writing flourished. they had the characters, the action, the quantity of stories, etc., they were kinda like that eras pulps.

JOESEPH
Fantasy comics are far more popular outside of the United States than otherwise. We’ve talked about pulps for a while, let’s move to the fantasy genre. How important was fantasy to you growing up?

ROBERT
I was a voracious reader as a kid, and I was lucky that my father and older brother were book hounds as well. there were comics, magazines, sci-fi and fantasy books, as well as the classics. I read them all. I was reading before I was in school. At 14 I received the lord of the rings trilogy for Christmas, and although they were a daunting read, I loved them and read them over and over, the world he built was so believable, you are in middle earth, lol! Same with the Howard books, the energy in his prose forces you to read onward, your heart pounds as Conan battles savage beasts. Burroughs took ya to Barsoom and to Pellucidar, and you explored those worlds with their creatures and dangers and exotic women and powerful warrior men. I could not get enough! Also, growing up in the inner city, it gave me an escape from the violence I experienced in the schools I went to. They also inspired me to train to be strong, to learn how to box, wrestle, and learn martial arts. I was a pulp character, lol!

Thundermace interiors

JOESEPH
You have avoided the superhero genre in regards to your releases from RAK. I mentioned the popularity of fantasy overseas. I’m curious what fantasy creations from overseas inspired you?

ROBERT
Besides Tolkien, the Heavy Metal magazine highlighted European artists and their very different approach to graphic narrative art made me realize the boundless possibilities of fantasy art and stories, that they could be blended with humor, or sci-fi, or erotica. no limits. I realized I could use my own voice and do my own thing.

JOESEPH
Dragons are popular in fantasy. What is the dragon mythology in Thundermace. Is that same mythology shared in Chakan?

ROBERT
Thundermace is a true fantasy story with a hint of sci-fi in that the dragon that merges with the young warrior Arro is really an alien whose ship crashed and he and his fellows had been marooned on earth.

Their combined essence becomes the living weapon known as the Thundermace.
Chakan starts in a classic fantasy setting, in a long past time, but his storyline eventually takes him beyond earth and to other planets, dimensions and universes. he is a more cosmic character. Although he does fight demons and dragons on earth and beyond!

Thundermace interiors

JOESPEH
What is the “great” fantasy comic series in your opinion?

ROBERT
I would have to say the Conan comic books, from all the publishers. Conan is such a great character, he is hard to screw up and seems to always attract top-notch artists, from Smith to Buscema to Nord and others. he fights wizards and demons and all the cool fantasy tropes ya wanna see!

JOESEPH
You are no stranger to taking your creations into different media. Chakan is a video game and action figure. You released a board game. You are expanding into other media. I am curious, Fantasy is a well-established genre in fiction and comics. What about video games, action figures, board games, and other media? Given you’re actively involved in these different forms of media, how do people react to the different forms of media your creations show up in? Not just people who know about your creations, but people who are into video games, for example, and didn’t know about but discover Chakan?

ROBERT
Well, from D&D gaming to Netflix series like Witcher, fantasy is embedded in the culture. It is escapism, it is going to places we want to be, being or seeing people we wish we were. having adventures and excitement we crave but do not always get in life. So it is perfect for a game, where you are no longer an average joe, but instead are a barbarian or a mage, or a thief trying to survive and thrive in a world of magic and mayhem. It’s like living in a dream.

Chakan the Forever Man, star of comics, video games, and more!

JOESEPH
Chakan combines many genres throughout its run. A run that is still ongoing. Fantasy is an important part of Chakan. Talk about Chakan and its ties to the fantasy genre.

ROBERT
Well, as I mentioned before, Chakan starts out as a pretty straightforward fantasy story but evolves into a star-spanning saga. I designed his mythos so that I could have fun with the character in a variety of genres. the gore pit story is a horror story with a Lovecraftian bent, while the Toad King and the Insect Prince is a fantasy story along the Tolkien lines, and the planet killer is a sci-fi tale. I made sure I had a lot of room in my sandbox to play with the character, lol!

JOESEPH
I’ve been a fan of Thundermace since the ’80s. I know you’re going to be releasing new Thundermace stories. This is pretty exciting. Will you be re-releasing the prior Thundermace material before new issues start?

ROBERT
I probably will, but it will be colorized since that is much more affordable than when I started publishing him years ago!!

more Chakan

JOESEPH
What makes Thundermace stand apart from other fantasy creations?

ROBERT
It is always the creator’s unique fingerprints on his creation that make him stand out. there have been many sword and sandal characters, but Conan is the standout because of Howard’s voice. with my work, both art and writing, I do it my way. love it or hate it, you know it is my work, and it will be a bit different than the status quo, in look, format, content, and style. That is what I do!

 

 

JOESEPH
Thank you, Robert. I’m looking forward to the Thundermace collection and really like to complete my Chakan collection! For those who want to find out more about Robert and his creations, you can go to http://www.rakgraphics.com/

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Robert Krause is the creative mind behind RAK Graphics. He's has been releasing comics for decades and is well known as the creator of Chakan the Forever Man. JOESEPH SIMON The fantasy genre is an exciting form of storytelling! You’ve been telling fantasy stories since the ’80s. RAK Graphics started in...