ASIFA-East presents Labor Days with Rick Lacy and Philip Gelatt
Article by Sam Marlow
Labor Days is a creator owned comic by writer Philip Gelatt and
artist, Rick Lacy. They gave a talk for on Thursday, October 16th at NYU
about the origins of their comic, and how they fell into their
collaboration, as well as the comic book world.
Philip Gelatt was a film studies major at NYU, with a minor in
archeology, which might have something to do with his published
Indiana Jones Adventure comic book. But like many success stories in
the comic book world, Philip didn’t originally intend to be a comic
book writer. After graduating from NYU he worked in the film industry,
specifically on feature documentaries. He says most of his jobs
consisted of driving vans and answering phones. But with a connection
through friends over at SVA, he met Rick Lacy. He was an animation
student, and after graduating, he worked as a storyboard artist for
the Venture Bros. He did have a couple of side jobs for the comics
industry. He illustrated the Clone Wars comic and Hellboy Animated for
After Rick and Philip became good friends, it was a matter of time, and
the amount of boredom they could endure, which led to the idea of
making of comic book. Philip said, “the original idea of the story was
about a guy looking for a video tape”. After writing an outline for
the story, they both spent four to five years designing the world and
characters of the Labor Days Universe. After many rewrites, the story
became much more specific and detailed than a man looking for a tape.
It was about a young man named Benton Bagswell, who gets caught up in
international revolutionary organizations, while he has possession of
a mysterious video cassette, which everybody wants to have. After
reading the first volume, the original idea still exists, but with a
lot of decorated comic adventure styles. Rick says some of his
illustrative influences come from Will Eisner, Al Williamson, and
Moebius (he said specifically for compositions.)
They talked about how they got their book published, which was
described as a long and patient process. When they first started to
send their sample pages to publishers, each company said no. Even
through the connection Rick had with Dark Horse, they asked them to
submit their comic through the “New Recruits Program”, which was back
in 2005. Philip and Rick are still waiting for a reply. Rick described
the publishing process as a long and isolating experience, when he
refers to sending work to editors. They prefer to receive e-mail with
links to online portfolios, and some are still willing to look at an
actual envelope with artwork inside. (of course not original pages,
but photo copies) “Editors are weird. They don’t want to talk to
humans.”, said Rick.
After all the publishing problems, they found a comic called Scott
Pilgrim, published by Oni Press (The future publisher of Labor Days).
They found the story and character to be very similar to their own.
Both comics were about a loser who gets caught up in a larger than
life adventure for reasons beyond his control. They enjoyed the comic
so much they wrote the creator a genuine fan letter. The creator of
Scott Pilgrim passed the letter over to Oni Press and it gave them
interest in Labor Days. Instead of hustling, they used a genuine
interest and personality to get themselves on the front lines.
Like all comic book transactions, it took a long time for Oni to get
back to Rick and Philip. Five months later everything fell into
place. As they sent the sample pages, Oni wanted a graphic novel out
of Labor Days, instead of single issue series, and last January, they
signed the contract.
As of now, they are promoting the first volume of Labor Days with a
release party on Wednesday, October 29th at Bulls Head Tavern, 6pm.
(23rd and 3rd Ave). And next summer at the San Diego Comic Con, they
will release the second volume.