Inside the Mind of Kurtis J. Wiebe

Tag: Jim Valentino

Hail to the Queens!


This Is Me Now


It was early 2012 when the core concept of Rat Queens came together. I’d been in contact with Roc Upchurch after meeting him randomly on a street corner over the weekend of NYCC in 2011. I’d seen his work on Vescell and was inspired by it. He was making art in a way I’d never seen in a comic series.

While he finished Vescell, we emailed several times, batting around ideas. We’d attempted a small pitch on a concept that I’d originally worked on with Owen Gieni (who, in a strange twist, became a later Rat Queens artist), it was called Goblinettes, and it ultimately didn’t float. Didn’t seem like there was much interest in a story about a three-piece all girl goblin punk band that sang about love and getting along.

We went back to the ideas phase. We both knew we wanted to work on fantasy. And we both knew we wanted to try something fresh with a genre we loved.betty

I sat and thought on it awhile. I asked myself all kinds of questions. What did I love about fantasy? What was ridiculous? What was annoying and outdated?

It wasn’t a new thing for me to have female leads in my stories; Debris, The Intrepids, Beautiful Creatures and even Peter Panzerfaust, while predominantly male, had women that are, to date, my favourite I’ve written.

Having four female leads wasn’t the novel idea, in my opinion. What I wanted to do was have a fantasy adventure story where being a woman wasn’t a thing. And in so many of the fantasy books I’d read, it almost always certainly was.

dee 2We did a call and I laid out the idea that I’d come up with in the worst way possible: It’s Lord of the Rings meets Sex in the City. We both laughed. It was a terrible mash, but we both knew what it meant.

That’s where it started. Where it would land, how it would end, we had no idea. Our best guess was five issues and a good looking trade collection.

Rat Queens #1 came out on September 25th, 2013. Five and a half years ago, now.

On that day, my life changed.

Within months, Rat Queens became the most successful project I’d ever worked on. Both in sales and in the acclaim it garnered from an industry, a community that had become so important to me. It was the highlight of success after years of personal struggles that had nearly sapped me of hope and strength.

I felt like I finally belonged.hannah

And it was good for a while. We always struggled to get the series out on its monthly schedule (I have many thoughts about the industry’s demand on artists, but that’s for another time), but we were creating something we loved and the fans loved in returned. It was the best a creator could ask for.

Since then, it’s been a long and difficult journey. The years following September 25th, 2013 have been a trail through the highest mountains and the darkest caves.

I had a daughter.

I moved seven times. (Yes. Seven.)

I began new comic series’.

I finished several others.

It’s no secret Rat Queens has had its share of controversies. They took a heavy toll, bringing me back to a dark place I thought I’d escaped when this Rat Queens journey began.

You can read about my brush with suicide in the summer of 2016 here:

Even then, I kept creating new stories with these four women throughout it all. But, I have to be honest, it was getting more difficult with each new iteration. Each new artistic team that came on.violet

At the end of the day, I had to step back and ask myself some familiar questions: What did I love about fantasy? What was ridiculous? What was annoying and outdated?

This past summer of 2018, I found that I didn’t have the answers I used to. Or maybe I’d already answered them and somehow lost myself along the way.

In that reflection I realized that I’d been burned out on the one thing that once gave me joy and provided for my family.

I was terrified.

And then I knew: it was time to move on.

That fear only grew, but it was the seed to plant a new foundation. I’d wrapped up so much of my identity in Rat Queens; my worth, my voice, and world-view.

Five years is a long time. We all grow and change, day to day, and over the span of five years, I’ve faced many shifts to my status quo.

Those changes excite me, I want to write about them. While that doesn’t mean the Rat Queens can’t be part of the equation, it means that I want to commit the next span of years to these new perspectives that have deeply informed my life.

So, I’m saying goodbye to Rat Queens. For now, and the foreseeable future.


The Next Chapter


Rat Queens is still popular. I know fans love these characters, and I’ve always been interested to see what other people would bring to the table with this large cast of characters. There are still a hundred stories that could be told with Betty, Hannah, Braga, Dee and Violet.

With that said, I’m passing on the torch to a new team, a group of amazing creators who will carry on the legacy of the Rat Queens in an exciting and new direction.

rat queens_priscillapetraites_lineart copy[12703]

Ryan Ferrier, who has lettered the series since we came back in 2017, will be taking over writing duties. He was absolutely the first choice for me. We share a similar sense of humour and he’s been living with these characters for over a year now. If you haven’t read any of Ryan’s work, I HIGHLY recommend D4ve. It was my first foray into his work, and it’s genius and funny and heartfelt and great.

Our new line artist, Priscilla Petraites, is someone I’ve been watching for years. She has emailed me every year since 2014, always sending me her new portfolio, to show her progress and growth as an artist. I’ve always had an interest in working with her, but could never find the right concept for the collaboration. When I decided to move on from Rat Queens, Priscilla was an obvious choice. And the heavens aligned, schedules collided and Rat Queens is now her baby.

Marco Lesko and Priscilla had worked together on several other projects as a team before coming on to Rat Queens. I’d seen their work together and bringing Marco onto Rat Queens as our colourist made absolute sense. They have an artistic chemistry that drips off the page, and I can’t wait to see them craft their take on the world of Rat Queens.

This new team will be taking over in April, 2019, with their one shot: Rat Queens Swamp Romp, before jumping into their full-time duties with issue 16 in June.


So. What’s next? And what about current Rat Queens artist, Owen Gieni?

In the past few years, Owen has become like a brother to me. He’s been around through the toughest of times and has always been an honest and stalwart friend. Through our long conversations over the years, we’ve discussed hundreds of theories and philosophies, and even more stories and worlds.

It’s time we did something with them.

2019 is about change. About taking a risk, in art and in life.

Together, Owen and I are founding a creative company; Beast and Bone Studios.

We’re going to be creating a pile of new art, comics and otherwise. We’re finally going to get a start on a series we’ve been talking about since summer of 2017. Plus a few others we’ve been hashing out in the last few months. I cannot wait.

First, I want to thank Jim Valentino, the man who saw something unique in this little series. He backed me through everything, and has supported my decisions, both creatively and professionally, and it’s been a fantastic journey. I call him my second dad for a reason!

And finally, I want to thank every single person out there who’s supported Rat Queens, and more directly, supported me through the past five years. It has never been unappreciated, and the kindness you’ve shown through emails and messages has saved me more than you can know. I will be forever grateful for the fans and to the five Queens who made my current life possible.

Here’s to you, Violet, Dee, Hannah, Braga and Betty.

Especially you, Betty. You know you’ve always been my favourite.


Much love,

Kurtis Wiebe

PS: Here’s your first look at Ryan, Priscilla and Marco’s Rat Queens!


Bits of Script: Rat Queens Teaser

Had a private message asking if I had any sample scripts from an artist looking to practice sequential work. Reminded me I used to post pieces of script for people to check out as a way to show my process. Here’s the very first five pages of Rat Queens I ever wrote, initially meant to be the actual intro in the first issue but ended up being used for promo material.


PAGEONE (5 Panels)

Panel 1. The focus of the intro to our first issue is a bait and switch. This large panel will be of Hannah in a dark room, setting the tone and mood to look as though things are grim and scary, like she’s been caught and tossed in a dark pit somewhere. In reality, she’s waking up in the aftermath of massive party at their house. The party was a massive all night with dozens and dozens of people passing out on the floor. Here, Hannah is sprawled out on the floor, the side of her face on the ground. We want all the following panels to be dark, lots of shadow, mostly outlines so the reader is unable to tell where she is but still able to get a small sense of character and space.  We’re on the floor, level with Hannah, she’s unconscious and looks ROUGH. Again, painting a picture of doom here.

Panel 2. Push in on her eyes, one is narrowly open and she’s wincing a bit.

Hannah 1


Panel 3. On her hands and knees, rubbing her head with a hand, facing the floor, hunched over. Still in quite a bit of pain.

Hannah 1

What happened?

Panel 4. She’s crawling along the floor. She’ll be making her way to the front door but there’ll be overturned tables and unconscious. I think we should stay close in on Hannah the duration of this scene.

Hannah 1

Where… guh, it smells like troll ass in here.

Panel 5. She crawls over a few bodies all crunched up together. Still dark, can see enough to know what she’s crawling over.

RatQueens_01_01_FINAL (Copy)

PAGE two (5 Panels)

Panel 1. Behind Hannah, she’s foreground looking ahead and we can see the piles of bodies, arms and legs sticking out. Real grisly. It’s all darkness ahead, we can’t see an end to the room. It’s cramped, enclosed. The darkness crushing down on her.

Floating bubble 1

H-h… help. Me.

Panel 2. Hannah, squinting her eyes as she crawls forward.

Hannah 1

Let’s just avoid that disembodied voice.

Panel 3. She crawls over more bodies.

Panel 4. A hand rises from the bodies and grabs her wrist.

Panel 5. A face appears close to hers, a human male, in his 40’s, almost ghoul like with long hair but bald on top. He looks terrible, missing a few teeth.

Man 1

I… need… wat-

RatQueens_01_02_FINAL (Copy)

PAGE three (6 Panels)

Panel 1. Hannah punches him in the face.



Panel 2. She crawls over his face and continues on.

Hannah 1

Everyone’s got needs, old man.

Panel 3. Hannah finds the wall with her hand.

Panel 4. Her hand as it touches the bottom of the handle to the door.

Panel 5. She’s leaned against the door as she turns the handle. She looks desperate, her eyes half closed and like it’s taken everything just to get up onto her knees. Her weight is heavy against the door.

Hannah 1

*hurk* Ughhhh, my guts are burning. Poison.. it’s-

Hannah 2

Ok… that’s a little vomit bubbling up…

Hannah 3

*huff* Just *huff* keep it *huff* together, Hannah.



Panel 6. Small panel, the outline of the doorframe lit by hot white light.

RatQueens_01_03_FINAL (Copy)

PAGE four(splash)

Panel 1. Behind shot of Hannah on her knees, shielding her eyes from a giant blistering white light that is washing over her, blasting away the darkness.

Hannah 1 *large yell, words shaping the balloon*

Gahhhh! N’Rygoth’s ballsack!

RatQueens_01_04_FINAL (Copy)

PAGE five(5 panels)

Panel 1-4. Side by side panels of Hannah, crawling across grass, in pain, suffering. Panel 3 will show Betty’s feet and Panel 4 will show Hannah grabbing onto them for dear life.

Hannah 1


Hannah 2


Hannah 3

Black pit of..

Hannah 4 (Panel 4)

Ohhh, thank the goddamn gods for these little lady feet.

Betty 1 (Panel 4)


Panel 5. Large panel. Betty, hands on her hips, looking healthy and ready to go and dressed for adventuring. Behind her, the other two girls, also dressed for adventuring but look as worse for wear as Hannah. Violet is in her metallic armour, rubbing her head leaning against the house and Dee is leaning against a tree, barfing her guts out.

Betty 1

You got SO drunk last night.

RatQueens_01_05_FINAL (Copy)

Debris #1 debuts this Wednesday


This year has sped by at an unbelievable rate. It feels like only a few weeks ago Jim had green lit this project for July and this is all I had written (yes, this is copy pasted from the actual pitch document.)

Debris (Temporary Title)


With the world in ruins, humanity struggles to survive in sprawling cities of garbage and debris. Ancient spirits stalk the urban decay, manifesting in the flesh by crafting bodies of the refuse that litters the land. One young warrior woman uncovers the legend of the last source of fresh water in the world and sets out to find it, but a spirit learns of her plan and refuses to let her go it alone. Together they travel the world in search of the last bastion of pure nature.

Debris is a colourful, high action adventure series of Red Sonja meets Transformers, with creative interpretations of mythological monsters blended with modern urban technology and a spunky lead heroine who kicks all kinds of ass.

Debris is a miniseries told in 5 issues.

There are no spoilers, obviously the story has changed quite a lot so nothing has been ruined by reading the above outline. Still, I was a bit overwhelmed when Jim not only moved forward with just the above outline but also gave it a date. I emailed back and said something to the effect of, “Jim, this is just an idea, I haven’t written it yet.”

So, here we are.

Anyway, collected below are some early reviews for the series. I’m excited because it looks like people are very happy with our first issue.

Decapitated Dan: “when I get a chance to cover anything by Wieley, I will. They are a team to be reckoned with, pushing the envelope on great original content, and proving why comics will always be a fun medium. Read Debris, you will not be disappointed.”

Team Hellions: “This world cries out for a hero and her name is Maya.  In one issue we are gifted with a new female icon in comics.  Stronger, faster, smarter than any of her “peers” – if anyone could truly be called an equal.  She is the strongest hero in this world given the seemingly simplest of tasks.”

Multiversity:  “Maya, our heroine, is really put through the wringer, emerging at the end of the issue as a flinty, independent personality who’s going to do her damnedest to make things right. It’s always heartening to see a strong female character in a comic – and she’s even wearing clothes! – but even without the gender factor, she’s got an arresting air and charisma to burn.”

Here Be Geeks: “the setting is beautiful, enough weird things are happening, and that Maya herself is quite the fun character to read.”

Comic Buzz: “It’s clear from the outset that Wiebe is crafting a grand narrative. The future setting and the large garbage monster Colossals give an instant sense of scale, but the focus on Maya makes sure that the
story doesn’t get lost in the setting or set pieces. There are some difficult moments for Maya to deal with in this issue, both physically and mentally-”