We first encountered Ron Regé Jr’s artwork through his old music/performance project Mystical Unionists with artist Becky Stark (they would later go on to form Lavender Diamond). We got this awesome zine and CD from them way back when and then discovered more of Ron’s comics through now legendary books such as Skibber Bee-Bye, published by Drawn and Quarterly, Yeast Hoist by Highwater Books, and issues of the Fort Thunder-related underground comic newspaper Paper Rodeo. Ron currently lives in Los Angeles where he created his magnum opus, The Cartoon Utopia, published by Fantagraphics Books. We have been big fans of Ron’s inimitable drawing style and posi-sci-fi-magick story telling for a long time and so we are really excited to feature him as artist of the month! We asked Ron some questions about his life..
Where do you live and what’s it like?
I live in a 2 room apartment on a busy street in Echo Park, LA. It’s really nice. I’ve been pretty sedentary and obsessed with making stuff the last few years. I don’t put much effort into going out or leaving the neighborhood. I think if I was back east these days (I’m from Massachusetts), I might rarely see other people or the sun. Being a hermit here is great because people from all over the globe visit my block, and the sun is always shining on me, even if I never go out. I can keep up with youth fashions by just looking out the window. I love it, but we are also finally getting hit with corporate gentrification. The “Magic Gas” station & store is now a Chevron that never turns off it’s huge lights. Last week our local bodega was closed. The sweet 74 year old lady had been there for 48 years. The nameless conglomerate that bought the building gave her 30 days to get out. No negotiation. It used to be like Sesame Street around here, but no more. I’ve been in Echo Park for 10 years.
What is your art studio and working environment like? when do you typically clock in?
I’ve never had more than a desk in a corner of wherever I’m living as a place to work. I’ve always thought a studio might be fun, but I’m too cheap & lazy to get one. If I need to make something big, I make room. I was painting outside with enamel on wood boards this past February, while the rest of the country was frozen. I’ve got 2 desks in the place I’m in now! and wall space to hang stuff up & look at it! I’ve never even considered doing that until like a year ago! I work whenever I want. I don’t have or want much art/life separation.
When did you start making art? did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
Yes, I was really into drawing as soon as I could hold things. I’ve never had serious interest in doing anything else. I’ve never known what it’s like to wonder what you want to do with your life, or career or whatever. I want to draw things, and I’ve wanted those things to be comics from as soon as I heard of them. Anything else I’ve done in my life has simply been for distraction, or to balance my health and well being as a mental & social animal. I mostly want to be able to hang out and draw things.
What is inspiring you these days?
Youtube is, really. I’ve always been really interested music, but I’ve never had a huge physical collection. I’ve been slowly going through things I never had time or resources to investigate and really digging in. As I type this I am listening to a bunch of Cluster & Michael Rother albums. I’ve loved Krautrock since the 80′s, but I’ve only heard 1 or 2 Cluster albums, never owned one. There they are. I’ll set up Terry Riley or Eno or Eliane Radigue, and let it just run for 2 or 3 days. Last month I was deep in a hole of ethnic 78′s, as well as this channel with I think 1000 indonesian cassettes.
Last good film you saw?
Feherlofia (Son of the white Mare) is a Hungarian animated film from 1981. It’s the most gorgeous thing. I’ve also been watching all these hour longish artist biopics by Ken Russell. They’re really good. This one guy has a bunch up, and you’ll get led to others if watch these.
Any secrets or routines you do to help your productivity/creativity?
Not really, I guess. I don’t need help with creativity. Productivity is always a struggle for cartoonists, I suppose
Tell us about magick…
I don’t know very much about ritual or ceremonial magick. There is a chapter or two about it in The Secret Teachings of All Ages. I am interested in everything in that book equally & generally. My spiritual interests are much more Theosophical in nature. I don’t like the use of magic for personal gain. I love it that people are being helped & healed more and more by ancient rituals and systems. I’m fascinated by them, but not a huge user of them myself. I’ve been on a path of surrender that doesn’t leave me needing or wanting to know the outcome of events, or how to navigate life so much. Do I sometimes get my chart read or use I Ching or Reiki or the Tarot? Sure!
I guess it bums me out that people associate the occult mostly with ideas of it being naughty or salacious in some way. As far as intense rituals are concerned, I was raised Catholic. The dude in the frilly white dress with the little boys beside him, whispering things to himself and waving his hands over the chalice with the special towel & plate & stuff while transmuting wine into blood is pretty intense in it’s mundanity if you stop & think about it in a magical/performance way.
Do you have any favorite quotes or mottos?
“It is the morning of the first day of the great peace, the peace of the heart, which comes with surrender. I never knew the meaning of peace until I arrived at Epidaurus. Like everybody I had used the word all my life without once realizing that I was using a counterfeit. Peace is not the opposite of war any more than death is the opposite of life. The poverty of language, which is to say the poverty of man’s imagination or the poverty of his inner life, has created an ambivalence which is absolutely false. I am talking of course of the peace that passeth all understanding. There is no other kind. The peace that most of us know is simply a cessation of hostilities, a truce, an interregnum, a lull, a respite, which is negative. The peace of the heart is positive and invincible, demanding no conditions, requiring no protection. It just is. If it is a victory it is a peculiar one because it is based entirely on surrender, to be sure.” —Henry Miller
If you could have any superpower what would it be?
There is no limit to the human imagination. To our brains, and in our minds, dreams and reality are the same. Time is a trick that helps our small minds cope with the universe. This linear reality is an illusion. This is a metaphysical, as well as a scientific truth of nature. There is no limit to what consciousness is capable of.
What is your favorite spot in the world right now?
The helipad in Griffith Park
Where do you feel at home?
On planet Earth!
What are you currently working on?
I’m doing a book of illustrated selections from Cosmogenesis, the first part of Madame Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine. I’m going to xerox it in limited edition like I did my recent Diana book. I’m excited about returning to self publishing for a bit. After reading lots by different Theosophists over the last few years, and then reading Gary Lachman’s new biography Madame Blavatsky: Mother of Modern Spirituality. I’ve started to hope there might be some way to give HPB her due. This new spiritual age that we see all around us, this mainstream acceptance of eastern ideas has a matriarch in Helena Blavatsky that is being ignored. The fact she, and her new thought diaspora is so intensely ignored is typical of the patriarchy. I wonder if wider appreciation of her might help bring unity in this struggle to revive the divine feminine. Her detractors come from all sides. Modern internet paranoia paints her as an evil occultist, xenophobic inspiration for the Nazis, or even a mastermind of the NWO. Scholars and spiritual types either buy into this, or accuse her of being a complete charlatan or fraud of the Victorian Spiritualist age. Madame Blavatsky tried to hide her magical parlor tricks, as they only got her in trouble. Do you know why we all think of a magic wand as making a twinkly sound and being surrounded by stars? No, not from Disney, but from stories told by people who SAW her do it. She was not a guru or a god, or even much of a role model, but she IS the reason that you are asking me what sign I am in this interview. Americans never think of it, but Hinduism & traditional Indian ideas were suppressed during the British Raj. Gandhi didn’t discover his interest the traditions of his homeland until he was at school in England, where he learned about Hinduism – from Theosophists!
Do you envision a positive future or do you think we are all fucked? apocalypse theories?
I don’t think about things in that way so much, but I am enjoying watching industrial civilization collapse on itself, especially Capitalism. I’ve never liked any of it. It’s awesome to see it fall apart. There’s plenty of other ways for humans to live together.
What is your spirit animal?
My spirit animal is a train that is going full speed in the dark of night towards an open chasm, trusting that there is a bridge there, but having no idea whether or not there really is. I was told this by a woman who had been paid to do a sprit animal reading on me, and draw it. After getting this info in a trance, she decided to go back in and ask the spirit again, as she had never gotten such an answer. She was unsure of how to even draw such a thing, as she mostly drew wolves and eagles and so forth.
What astrological sign are you? do you relate to it? if yes, how?
I’m a Sag, but I guess I’m actually that new Ophiuchus sign. I’ve found specific chart reading more useful than noticing any specific sun sign generalities. I associate with the numbered personality traits of the enneagram way more.
Who are some of your favorite artists currently?
I’m having a deep connection with Stanislav Szulkaski. My next long book will be based on a short story he wrote. I like comics by Lala Grant, and Noah Van Skiver, and I wish somebody would do a big Carlos Gonzalez collection! I also found this lady Aleksandra Waliszewska on tumblr. Her stuff is rad & creepy.
Are you still playing music?
A little bit casually, here & there. Power Mallet, my percussion duo with Sara Rara of Lucky Dragons is playing at Human Resources on June 25th with Eloe Omoe. Lavender Diamond might be going to play in Mongolia in August. Mongolia! Don’t ask how, I do not know!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Haha. I dunno. I don’t think about life like that! I’m pretty bad at long term plans. I tend to try to keep things as they are.
What would be your last meal before execution?
Oh jeez, i dunno!
See More of Ron’s artwork HERE!