Inside the Mind of Kurtis J. Wiebe

Tag: roc upchurch

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 What was annoying and outdated?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!


ECCC 2014!

Holy hell is this Emerald City Comic Con going to be a wild show for me. This is by far the most involved I’ve ever been in a show and I’ve still so much to do to get ready for it, but I’m damn excited, folks. Let’s do a quick summary of what’s all in store for me and the plans I have for my fans!

First, I will be tabling with Roc Upchurch, my partner in crime on Rat Queens, at Table X02. I’ll be there all weekend when I’m not attending signings or panels. My co-creator on Peter Panzerfaust, Tyler Jenkins will also be at the table next to me, and he’ll be selling his gorgeous art. And finally, also sitting with us will be Shannon Woodhouse, my life partner in crime, mother of my future child and amazing brain behind the Rat Queens lady merch. She’ll be making shirts and other surprise items available for sale, and ECCC will be the official unveiling of all her hard work. 



Second, Roc and I are on an Image Panel on Friday. Details:

Image Comics Presents Comedy in Comics
Sometimes the best comics are the funny ones, but getting jokes across in print while simultaneously telling an engaging story can be tough. Luckily, we have a panel of experts who can tell you their secrets, tips, and a few really good jokes.
Program date and time: Friday, March 28, 3:00 p.m. in Room TCC 301
Panelists: Rob Guillory (Chew), Kurtis Wiebe (Rat Queens), Roc Upchurch (Rat Queens), Matt Fraction (Sex Criminals), Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals), Jim Zub (Skullkickers), Brandon Graham (Prophet) 

Thirdly, we are also hosting our OWN panel, a Rat Queens panel for the ages where we’ll be showing some real behind the scenes looks at our series and having a real informal chat with the fans! Details:

Rat Queens: A Creator Chat
Room: HALL D (602-603)
Time: 3:40PM – 4:30PM

Have your chance to meet the creators of the Image Comic’s hit Rat Queens and learn about the origin of the series, including its RPG influence, what the future looks like as well as the importance of gender and sexual orientation in modern comics.

And FINALLY we are hosting a Rat Queens after party on Saturday night! We have some amazing guest creators coming to hang out with all who attend and we’re going to be raising funds for Seattle base Gay City Health in an effort to support the LGBT community. Visit the Facebook event and let us know you’re coming:

Details here:


This is going to be one hell of a show for me and I cannot wait. Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

Rat Queens Valentine’s Day Cards

RatQueens_Vday_Violet RatQueens_Vday_Betty RatQueens_Vday_Dee RatQueens_Vday_Hannah

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)

Rat Queens Process Video

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on my blog. There’s a fuller update coming but for the moment this will have to do. Balancing two ongoing comic series and a full time job has taken a lot of my hours, unfortunately.

Here’s a quick video by Roc on a Rat Queens teaser we did when we first announced the title. Enjoy!

Rat Queens #1 Sells Out!

Just a quick post to address the amazing support and awesome feedback we’ve received from our fans. The response has been overwhelming and Roc and I are absolutely thrilled to see our series connect with so many fans from so many different walks of life. We have so many awesome events planned for this series, in action, comedy and character arcs; what you’re seeing is just a small taste of what we have in store.

You’ll laugh. You’ll cringe. Eventually you’re going to feel

Strap yourselves in, Rat Kings and Queens. It’s gonna get crazy.

Here’s the first look at our Rat Queens #1 second print cover by my good friend, Riley Rossmo.


We Are The Rat Queens!

We’re two weeks away from Rat Queens #1! Finally, our full unveiling of all four of our lady mercs, each of which have their own special covers which you can order from your LCS! Please join our Facebook page and help spread the word of our series! We want to do this comic for many, many years.

We’ll also be having a monthly letters column each issue. Send all your thoughts and questions to:

theratqueens (at) gmail (dot) com

Without Further Ado, here are…. the Rat Queens!


Dee: Human Cleric

Born in the backwoods swamps on the ass end of the continent, Dee was doomed to isolation and brainwashing from the beginning. Those that surrounded her, friends and family, all belonged to the Chosen of N’Rygoth, a weird and deranged cult of divine magic practitioners.

Now, after seeing the vast cities and meeting people from diverse cultures and beliefs, Dee has lost her faith and, ironically, become an atheist.

RatQueens _05_cov_b_sm

Betty: Smidgen Thief

Betty’s sweetness and charisma has always made fitting into any crowd easy and as such is popular no matter where she goes. Betty’s long history of fleeting lovers has, over the years, taught her many unique skills, a primary one being that of a talented thief.

She’s a bit of a jack of all trades and probably one of the most sincere, loving drug users you’ve ever met. RatQueens_03_cov_b_sm

Violet: Dwarven Fighter

The daughter of a wealthy artificing family, Violet grew up around revolutionary inventors and smiths. She was trained in the use of armour and weapons the day she was strong enough to pick up a blade and put on a suit of armour, which, as a young dwarf, was roughly ten human years. RatQueens_02_cov_b

Hannah: Elven Mage

Born to the nefarious necromantic couple, Rizo and Jadah Vizari, Hannah was introduced to the dark side of magic very early on. Raised in a constant environment of black magic, she never realized that the path she walked was corrupted and would eventually lead her to corroborating with demons and pacts with devils. It all seemed quite fucking normal.


Rat Queens Webcomic #3: Dee


Rat Queens #1 Fiona Staples Incentive Cover