From Top Cow to Halloween 2 to working on projects at Radical Publishing, Renae Geerlings has had quite the journey in comics and genre entertainment. Zenescope Entertainment writer and Blog@ buddy Raven Gregory sat down with Geerlings to talk with her about comics, Rob Zombie, marrying Sabertooth, and what being an “AND Girl” is all about.
RAVEN GREGORY: So for those not familar with one of my favorite editors in the whole world tell us a bit about yourself.
RENAE GEERLINGS: My name is Renae Geerlings. I’m a Scorpio. I love WHITE cake with buttercream frosting (the more sugary the better). One day I’d love to breed and raise Freesian horses and English Mastiffs on my own vineyard. I got my first professional gig on film by doing a “hand job” for Robert Zemekis and it wasn’t even dirty! (Hand doubling, guys, just to be clear.) I make great guacamole. I don’t believe in “this OR that” I like “this AND that.” Always AND.
I don’t know… This is like those 25 Things You Don’t Know About Me quizzes. I get to #5 and I’ve got nothing left.
GREGORY: How did you become involved in comics? What was your first position in the business?
GEERLINGS: I got a temp job answering phones at a company that did “something with art/” I answered phones and read comics for 2 days at Top Cow…best job ever. A few weeks later they called me back for 2 weeks, during which time I made it my business to play Puzzle Fighter in the lobby with as many people as possible and generally ingratiate myself to the general population. Back then I curled my hair, wore cute little outfits and smiled. Then I got hired to editorial and within a few months I was addicted to coffee and nicotine, wore tees and jeans (cause when you’re sleeping at the office over deadlines, cute little outfits are uncomfortable) and glowered all the time. It was a quick decline…
GREGORY: You used to be the vice president/managing editor/editor in chief of Top Cow at one time or another a few years back. Do you miss it? Can you go into it a bit more why you decided it was time to move on?
GEERLINGS: Yeah, I miss the people. DEFINITELY. But 10 years is a long time to be ANYWHERE and we were really understaffed. I was burnt. I just needed a break from the incessant weekly deadlines and the long, horrible commute both ways.
GREGORY: What was the high point of your career in comics? Was there a particular story that you really enjoyed being a part of.
GEERLINGS: The premiere of the Witchblade TV series at ComicCon in 2000 was pretty exciting. Marc Silvestri caught me coming out of the hotel and swept me into his car on the way to the showing. I got to walk into it with him. That was a trip. That was also the night I met my now husband, Tyler Mane. I’ve had a lot of high points really, worked with AMAZING people. I mean, jeez, I got to do TWO books with J. Michael Straczinski and spent years working with the likes of Dave Finch, Michael Turner, Peter Steigerwald and Mark Waid. I found Mike Choi and Tyler Kirham and gave them their first jobs at Top Cow. I’m pretty proud of them. Speaking of, I found you too! Or more aptly, you found ME. I met Kevin Smith. Hung with Alex Ross (although now that my husband has THOROUGHLY embarrased me at Paul and Misty Dini’s wedding, I doubt I’ll ever be able to look him in the face again. And that’s all I’m going to say.) Got drunk with Jim Lee. Had a character loosely based on me. Worked on the Civil War Marvel series AND a Batman crossover. I’m forgetting lots of big obvious things, I know. But there’s SO MANY. Really, it was a pretty charmed comic book life.
GREGORY: What are you up to nowadays? Is editing still a part of your life?
GEERLINGS: I’m up to LOTS. In terms of comic books I just started working with Radical Publishing on a few projects which is exciting. David Wohl was the one who hired me a Top Cow so when he called and asked if I was ready to pick up a project with his new company, I said yes. I’m back to smiling and wearing cute outfits. We’ll see how long that lasts…
GREGORY: Some of the fans aren’t aware that you are also an actress as well as a singer. How has that been for you?
GEERLINGS: That’s been great. One of the first things I did when I left full time office work was to join a theatre company and I’ve done SEVERAL shows in the last couple years, got my SAG card and an agent, did a radio commercial and played a Deputy in this weekend’s HALLOWEEN 2.
GREGORY: I heard you have a part in the upcoming Halloween 2 movie from Rob Zombie. Care to elaborate? What was that experience like? How was it working with Rob?
GEERLINGS: Umm…yes! It was a small role to start with and some of it didn’t get into the final edit, so I’m on screen in 3 scenes, but in 2 you have to really look for me. My big scene is now all of 5 seconds but I don’t care. I am the Princess Leia deputy, Deputy Gwynne. You’ll get it when you see it.
It was the best time I’ve had in my entire life. Truly. It’s almost embarrassing, I was literally such a happy dweeb the whole time. If I could have carried lights around and gotten Rob tea I would have.
I have to admit that before DEVIL’S REJECTS, I didn’t know who he was. I had heard “More Human Than the Human,” “Never Gonna Stop Me,” and “Thunderkiss ’65″ on the radio and loved the songs but didn’t even know it was him. So when Tyler played Rufus in that one I looked him up and bought a CD so I wouldn’t be clueless and I was like, “Whoa! I’m a fan and I didn’t even know it!”
He’s great in person; he’s got a great sense of humor and he’s incredibly intelligent. He’s smart to the point where I just try keep my mouth shut because I can be goofy and have a habit of saying stupid things. And no one wants Rob Zombie to think they’re lame! So I let Tyler do the talking. But he’s definitely the kind of guy who engenders respect. Tyler and I were just talking about how when you work with Rob, nothing else matters. There’s one person you want to make happy, and you just feel this intense need to get it right for HIM. When he’s frustrated you’re just desperate to fix it; but if Rob’s happy, you go home on top of the world. What an amazing trait to be able to engender that loyalty, don’t you think?
GREGORY: Some people might not be aware of this, but you are also married to Tyler Mane (of Sabertooth X-Men, Michael Myers Halloween, Troy, Scorpion King). What’s that like? The good the bad?
GEERLINGS: Ah, yes. The Tyler I just referred to is my husband, whom I met at a Chicago Con. I know, so geeky and perfect, right?
The good…tons. He’s a good communicator and the kind of guy who will go out of his way to make you a coffee in the morning or cook breakfast or swing by the store if you need something. He’s got kind of a gruff persona out in the world, but he’s really a big marshmallow who is addicted to Call of Duty (all of them). He’s very much a family man first, so being an actor is nice because it affords him a lot of time at home with his kids. We have full custody of his 12 and 13 year olds and he’s VERRRY protective of his brood. If he thinks you’re not treating me right, look out!
The bad…hmmm….big man, big snore. Also, when he’s home for a long period and his elbow gets sore from Call of Duty he has a bad habit of starting home improvements. Though he is an ACE at starting a big project and finishing it in record time…it’s really more like ALMOST finishing it. He gets to the last little details and stops. I think it’s because he KNOWS that I’m good with the finishing details and he’s terrible at them (no patience). I assume he’s hoping that it will drive me so crazy that I’ll just do it. It worked several times in a row before I went, “Waaaaiit a minnit…” So this last one I let sit unfinished and we eyed each other silently for a couple months. Finally, after enough people came to our house that he got embarrassed by it, he actually finished it. Now I’ve got his MO down.
Oh, and those Call of Duty sounds coming from the ginormous surround sound system in the other room are starting to make me a little tweaky. He plays with the same East Coast people all the time and I keep hearing him yell, “BETTTY BETTY BETTY!” Apparently the women who play on that team are pretty good. I can’t even walk around without winging the view up to the sky. I suppose I should work a little harder at it if I ever want quality time with him. Sigh. Except the one time we played he only used a knife and he’d just walk up and knife me. I got so mad I threw the controller and swore I’d never play him again. I suppose that’s fitting being married to Michael Myers, hmmm?
GREGORY: What’s next for you?
GEERLINGS: Lots! Tyler and I just started Mane Entertainment and we’ve optioned a script that we’re producing, called PENANCE LANE and we have several others that we’re developing. I’m working on ten different projects for Radical over the next year AND I’m playing Beatrice in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING this fall. So I’m definitely keeping busy. In the off time I play with my gigantic puppy.
For a long time I thought I had to commit to one thing and just slog through it. In the last couple years, I’ve gotten really inspired and re-energized by doing ALL the things I love doing and now I’m pretty ecstatic with life. It comes back to that first question I answered. I’m an AND kind of girl. I just need to do it all.