Rogue Creator: Deirdra Eden2023-12-20T11:40:38-05:00

Rogue Creator: Deirdra Eden

Deirdra Eden is an award-winning artist and international bestselling author of The Watchers Series. Captivating audiences of all ages with her novels and fairy tales, her specialty is inspirational epic fantasy. Including documented historical phenomena, natural disasters of biblical proportions, and eyewitness accounts of the supernatural, she creates a relatable world for the modern reader with inspiring messages of hope.

Deirdra enjoys horseback riding through open meadows, swimming in the ocean, hiking up mountains, camping in cool shady woods, climbing trees barefoot, cuddling her kitties, and going on adventures with her family and friends.

Spotlight Series: Mark Kauffman2023-07-25T19:52:57-04:00

Spotlight Series: Mark Kauffman

Written by: Kelly Kantrowitz

Artistic expression that is inventive and original is a rare quality. It’s an intangible eccentricity shared by some of the most iconic names in history – Prince, Madonna, Frida Kahlo, Tim Burton – the list goes on. 

Mark Kauffman is one of those immensely talented individuals that stretches the boundaries of the imagination and invites us to reframe our perspective around the shades of grey between black and white, right and wrong, good and bad. He’s a man who embodies the renegade spirit of creativity – a genuine and inspirational rogue. As the writer of Rogue Matter’s original graphic novel, Making Markum, we wanted to find out more about the man behind the story.  

Created in the same vein as The Punisher and John Wick, Making Markum will satisfy your itch for rule-breaking, Italian crime bosses, and a protagonist with questionable morals. Think of our hitman anti-hero, Markum, as the boogeyman of the criminal underground. Most people think he’s just a myth, yet they all pray that their name never finds its way onto his ledger. Markum is a ghost, moving in the distance and the shadows, nobody has ever seen his face. If they have, they either didn’t know who they were seeing or they were dead within the minute. Semi-retired and a sloppy shell of his former self, he’s got a truckload of baggage and a permanent dark cloud over his head.

Ready to dive in? Kelly Kantrowitz sat down with Mark to pick his brain and talk about the graphic novel’s upcoming release. 

 

Kelly: Do you feel like living in Seattle has had any type of impact on your creativity?

Mark: What I’ve found is that – I don’t know if this is how you work – but it takes me a while to work out all the intricacies of a story. I like to go out for long walks. I like having these things percolating on the back burner. It’s like putting a puzzle together and you’re trying to make the puzzle pieces fit together – in terms of character arcs and story structure, whoever the antagonist is – and you’re toying with the idea of just smashing the thing – but then you find the piece that finally fits in. It’s like when you have a sneeze coming on – the build up is frustrating, but the release is gratifying. 

 

Kelly: You were a creative executive for studios like Warner Bros and Paramount. I’d love to hear about your experience working for traditional Hollywood studios and how it compares to what we’re trying to achieve here at Rogue Matter?

Mark: Completely different in that, as I’m sure you know, the way Hollywood was traditionally structured in terms of writers trying to break in – there were a series of locked doors and barriers you would have to navigate. You can’t just send your work to whoever. I mean you can, but when you send it to someone like Warner Bros, they’re just gonna send it back with a note saying, “We will not accept unsolicited submissions.” Unless you have a rep – you’ll have a great deal of trouble getting a submission through. 

That’s what’s cool about what Rogue Matter is doing – giving people the opportunity to submit original work straight to a studio that could potentially transform your idea into a reality. I think it’s really cool, there’s such a huge market for it – people love to write various kinds of fanfiction. How many people out there have written their own Star Wars universe-based fanfiction? Marvel or DC Universe? Those types of ideas. To be given the opportunity to potentially take characters you really like and speak to you and craft your own story seems like a wonderful opportunity to run with it. It reminds me of The New Yorker and their cartoons – whoever can come up with the most interesting caption gets featured…it seems very cool. 

Kelly: How do you balance your professional day job with your creative side?

Mark: I tend to work on that stuff when I’m outside, because the process for me is a lot more about working out plot points or character arcs and then getting them on the page is the easier part. I’ve kinda got everything lined up in my head. I tend to work on those things outside when I’m doing another activity that doesn’t require a lot of process. It opens up a different part of my mind that allows more of a creative pursuit. 

 

Kelly: I love the edgy, dark, gritty nature of Making Markum, can you tell me more about the story?

Mark: It’s a story about somebody who has a brokenness inside of them that they don’t realize is there. They’re always trying to find a way to compartmentalize it and look past it. There’s a duality in the brokenness inside of the main character. He’s really good at killing people and is naturally talented at it. It’s kind of really sad in some ways and it can potentially further damage him. It’s sort of gratifying because he’s really good at it. I think we all have different natural talents and his happens to be killing. 

 It’s exploring the – there’s a hollowness there – these things just don’t seem to weigh on him. I think that’s where the character has a lot of room for exploration. Over time, what will transpire from all of this? And is there still an opportunity for redemption? There’s a relatable quality here – unlike Superman – people have a hard time relating to that. We all have this conflict inside of us in terms of our morality and conscience versus our basic instincts. Markum gives into these instincts because he has a talent for these things. We’ll have to see if there’s a goodness that comes out of it. 

 

Kelly: What makes Markum different from John Wick?

Mark: At least on the surface, what he’s doing is colder and calculating. With John Wick or the Punisher – there’s an obvious connection in terms of the motivation behind their actions. We’re coming to Markum at a much earlier point in his character arc – before an epiphany that may lead him in a different direction. The seeds are there. We’ve sown the seeds where’s a redemptive quality to him. He is vocally denying that he’s doing any of these things out of friendship or personal obligation. There’s definitely a take that would suggest otherwise. He’s hanging in the balance and it could go either way. The difference between the hero and villain is sometimes just a matter of perspective.

 

Kelly: Markum is a hitman and not the typical hero – why is it important to show the grey area of a protagonist? 

Mark: I think it’s because it makes the protagonist more relatable and grounded. A shallow, one-note character lacks depth and the ability for people to relate on an emotional level. There’s a grey area between the line of right and wrong. If you look at the punisher, for example, I always thought there was a culpability, there’s such a reliance on the justice system, why can’t you see there’s failings here? The punisher is a good example of that. 

 

Kelly: Did you face any challenges during the creative process & piecing Markum’s story together?

Mark: There’s a challenge around writing a character that is inherently dark, because my instinct is to find that redemptive quality (and rush to it much quicker than what’s in the best interests of the character in the story). There are conversations I’ve had with Rogue Matter – it’s hard for me because I’ve been sitting with this character for a long time – you want to see that character be redeemed and you’re always looking for that opportunity or silver lining. That struggle and journey is what’s interesting and engaging to read/watch – and ultimately pulls the audience in. Everyone’s waiting to see if the coin is going to land heads or tails. 

 

Kelly: Are there any plotlines or scenes that didn’t make the final cut of the story?

Mark: Yes. We were gonna have his father make a brief appearance and we had talked about expanding that and having more material (because we have a good idea of his backstory and childhood and his relationships with his parents). We alluded to that in the story with the brief encounter – even that from an audience standpoint has a profound impact. There wasn’t enough space for that backstory in this. But it does a good job of informing Markum’s emotional state.

Stay tuned for more from Mark, who currently working on another project called Roman’s Rise with us!

Spotlight Series: Meet Renae Geerlings2021-10-22T12:11:30-04:00

Spotlight Series: Meet Renae Geerlings

By Tia Fabi

At Rogue Matter, we’re passionate about the power of ideas and their ability to ignite the imagination. We’re all about Rogue talent that goes against the grain and content that roars rather than whispers.

There’s no one that embodies the Rogue spirit more than Renae Geerlings. Multifaceted, with a creative spirit that will inspire generations to come, Geerlings has worked both in front of the lens as an actor and behind it in the roles of writer and producer. She has been a host and lead producer for Mountain Dew’s Twitch channel, has produced live events with Buffalo Wild Wings and drone racing events, has worked in the world of voice over, and even performed and recorded as a singer. But perhaps the most impressive is that, while doing all of those things, she has spent a quarter of a century busily working as an editor in the world of comics for companies including Top Cow Productions, Marvel, Image, IDW, Radical, and Darby Pop– on world-renowned titles like Battle of the Planets, Tomb Raider, Fathom and Witchblade and titles that became well-known films and video games like Wanted, The Darkness, Hercules, and Oblivion. 

As a true visionary, Geerlings’ innovation, artistic prowess, and experience help fuel the lifeblood of Rogue Matter’s growing and expanding universe. Tia Fabi had the pleasure of sitting down with Renae to chat about her life, experiences, and upcoming projects.  

Tia: Tell us a little bit about your background.

Renae: I’m a Michigan-born theater major who, after relocating to L.A., became immersed in the world of comics which led me to meet my husband who brought me back full circle into the world of film. 

Tia: What was the catalyst behind your desire to pursue an acting career?

Renae: I love storytelling. Growing up, film and TV became a way for me to share in experiences that I hadn’t had the opportunity to have yet. It made me feel hopeful, inspired, and like I was never alone. Now, these outlets have become a way for me to leave breadcrumbs for others. Whether you love a story or hate it, odds are that it affects you in some way and leaves you a little different than before you heard it.

Tia: You have been connected with several comic book publishing companies. What would you say has been your favorite project to be a part of so far?

Renae: Midnight Nation with J. Michael Straczynski was a particularly satisfying project to be a part of. Also, Fathom with Michael Turner. And, more recently, the Bruce Lee: The Dragon Rises series with Bruce’s daughter, Shannon Lee, that was published by Darby Pop.

Tia: Tell me about the entertainment company you own with your husband, Tyler Mane.

Renae: We have produced two features, one, Compound Fracture is a supernatural thriller, and the other, Penance Lane, is an action thriller with horror elements. You can find them at maneentertainment.com along with news about our upcoming projects!

Tia: What brought you to Rogue Matter? Can you give us a sneak peak of some of the projects you’re working on?

Renae: I worked with some of the higher ups at Rogue Matter during my time at Top Cow Productions. We’ve always had a fun banter and enjoyed working together, but it was always in a more tangential form. When they introduced me to RM, I was excited to be a part of something new and unique. It’s an opportunity for me to roll my sleeves up and dig into the world of multiple mediums like podcasts and prose and audiobooks and short films that I’ve always wanted to work on, but the opportunity didn’t arise in companies with a smaller focus—like comics. It’s also a chance for me to do my very FAVORITE thing, which is to find new voices and give them opportunities. I will admit that the most satisfying moments of my life have come when artists have approached me at conventions, or where ever our paths cross later, and commented that I gave them their break into comics. It really does fill me with the most joy. 

Tia: Do you have any acting projects coming up?

Renae: With COVID shutting everything down, it’s pretty slow here circa summer 2020. So, I’m busying myself with writing episodes of Mane Entertainment’s next project (television) and I am in the pre-production process for a short film with some friends of mine here in Atlanta that we hope to shoot in the spring when COVID (fingers crossed) is under better control. I did just have some auditions this past week, though, so fingers crossed that the world of film/TV production starts cranking again soon!

Tia: How has the outbreak of COVID-19 affected your part in the entertainment industry?

Renae: Like everyone, it has shut things down completely. People are starting to come up with creative ways around it though with ZOOM projects and similar outlets. So THAT’S exciting!

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Join us in welcoming Renae Geerlings to the Rogue Matter family. Stay up-to-date on her latest work by following her via Facebook and Instagram. 

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