Toadies Drummer Mark Reznicek Creates The World's First Drunk Superhero.
There's a point about midway through Cowboy Mouth's '94 single “Hey Bartender,” in which guitarist Paul Sanchez sings, “Whiskey and women, well they fool me every time / Into thinking I'm the hero I have pictured in my mind.” The line comes at a point in the song after the narrator has thrown back multiple double-bourbons, but before he's reached his stated goal of losing the ability to stand upright.
It is precisely this brief window of time for which the term “beer muscles” was conjured. More specifically, it's that period of time after one ornery male has consumed just a touch too much liquid courage, thereby leading him to believe he can take every last mother fucker in the place.
But what if tossing back half-a-dozen shots didn't just make you believe you were Superman? What if you were a sort of bizarro world Popeye that actually did turn into a bona fide ass-kicking superhero after cracking open a few cans of cold ones? In a sense, that's a part of the fantasy that Toadies drummer Mark Reznicek explores in Buzzkill, his new comic book series., which will be released by Dark Horse on September 18.
In advance of the upcoming Dia de los Toadies festival — where Reznicek, his Buzzkillco-author Donny Cates (Hunter Quaid) and artist Geoff Shaw will be on hand to sell and sign advance copies of the comic's first issue — we caught up with the Toadies drummer to find the difference between a drunk super hero and a musician, and what nods to the local music scene will crop up during the series, as issue No. 1 already features more than a few.
Were you a big comic book fan growing up?
I've been reading comics pretty much my whole life. I had several older brothers and sisters, so even before I could read there was always comics around the house, all different kinds. Marvel Comics, DC, Archie Comics, Donald Duck comics, MAD Magazines and cartoons. All that stuff. As soon as I learned to read in first grade — I mean, the reason I really wanted to learn to read was so that I could read comics myself instead having my mom or one of my brothers or sisters read them to me.
What were some of your favorites growing up? Who were some of your favorite heroes?
Growing up I liked Batman a lot, but mostly I was a fan of Marvel Comics. This was the era when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were still doing comics. I liked Spiderman and The Avengers, Fantastic Four. I would read any comic. Put one in front of me and I would read it.
The interesting thing about some of those — and maybe kind of parallel to Buzzkill — is that heroes like Batman and Spiderman kind of worked outside of the law a little bit, and there's maybe some troubling aspects to the character. Do you think that makes them more relatable to the average person and/or do you think that's what makes them so interesting?
I definitely do. I think that's why I preferred Marvel Comics back in the '60s and '70s. What Stan Lee and Jack Kirby did was give their heroes actual problems. Whereas if you go back and read an old issue of Justice League of America from the Silver Age, you could have those word balloons point to any of the characters and it would be just as valid. They didn't have personalities. They met up and went and fought the bad guy, and that was it. There was no real characterization. To me that's what makes a comic — or any story, really — interesting. The characters in it and what happens to them when you put them in these ridiculous situations.
How did you get hooked up with Donny Cates and Dark Horse to get this thing off the ground?
Two or three years ago, the Toadies were on tour and we were playing New York City and our tour manager Wes Solem said, 'Hey, I have a buddy that's working at Marvel Comics right now and he's coming to the show.' He said I'd probably get along with him since he knew how much I liked comics, too. After the show, we started talking and I was interested to know what it was like to work at Marvel and all that stuff. So we kind of just stood in the corner of the dressing room for a couple of hours, geeking out about comics and whatnot. Before we parted ways, he said, “If you ever have an idea for a comic or something maybe we could team up and do something.” It was quite a while later, like maybe six months, that I decided I had an idea that was worth pursuing. I typed up a paragraph or two and sent it to him. Luckily, he liked it. Within a week, or so, he had expanded this germ of an idea into a whole world for this character to inhabit. Then he used some of his connections and stuff to send out some sample pages, and Dark Horse is the one that showed the most interest, so we went with them.
Is it something you still would have pursued if Dark Horse hadn't shown any interest?
We were lucky because Donny knew the artist, Geoff Shaw, so before we even shopped the book around we had Geoff draw like 10 pages of the first issue. His art is so good and so polished and powerful that we were fairly certain that somebody would go for it. Or we really hoped. We thought we had something good, but even if nobody would have picked it up, I imagine we would have pursued self-publishing somehow, because it would have been a shame to see that awesome art be for nothing.
In Buzzkill, we've got a hero that gets his powers from alcohol, but, at the same time, the alcohol is kind of wrecking his life. That dichotomy sounds like a lot of musicians I know. How much of yourself, your friends, your experiences did you put into the character?
I wouldn't call it autobiographical, but definitely me and most of the other people I know in bands like to drink. If you're drunk enough, you feel unbeatable, you feel like Superman and nothing's gonna hurt you. It seemed like a funny idea, but then instead of totally playing it for laughs I thought, 'What might actually happen if a guy were to get super powers from drinking alcohol?'
Conversely, is there a part of you that feels in some way heroic when you look out from behind your drum set and see 5,000-plus faces screaming back at you?
Yeah, it's really an awesome feeling. It's gratifying to think that, after 20-plus years of playing with this band, there's still people that care enough to come out and watch us play. I don't know if that makes me feel 'heroic,' but that definitely strokes the ego, let's say.
What are some of your most Buzzkill-like experiences with beer muscles in the past?
There's a lot of them. One of the first ones I remember, I was 18 — back in those days, 18 was the drinking age in Texas. But I was only 18 for a couple of months. I went to a Christmas party and afterwards, I got pulled over and had to do the whole drunk test (walk the straight line, say the alphabet backwards) and I did not pass. I spent the night in jail and that was definitely a buzzkill because the party that I had been to was a lot of fun. That was just the first in a long line of moronic, buzzkill moments.
Can you think back to a time when you drank too much and felt like Superman?
I do remember one time the Toadies were playing a gig in Hawaii. It was after the show, and just being in Hawaii makes you feel good anyway, but we had something to drink and I thought it would be a good idea to take this Styrofoam wakeboard and jump with it into the swimming pool. I did that. It was made out of Styrofoam, though, so it is not going to sink. So basically I dove into the pool and this Styrofoam surf board smacked me in the nose and broke my nose.
In the first issue, we are introduced to the evil forces of Brutal Juice. We've heard a character named Panteradactyl will make an appearance in a later issue. Will other connections to and inspirations from the local music scene pop up in later issues of the comic?
Definitely. That's one of the things Donny and I talked about when we were coming up with character names. He asked if I had any favorite band names or friends' bands that we could use for character names, and the first one off the top of my head was Brutal Juice. He's kind of the main bad guy in the first few issues. Later, there's another bad guy called Baboon, and there are a few other references to song titles and lyrics and stuff that'll be scattered throughout — kind of Easter eggs for people who are in the know.
Is there the possibility that, if this goes well, you might get to make more issues beyond just these four — or maybe characters from Buzzkill getting their own spinoff series'?
That's definitely something that we hope will happen. We have an idea for a prequel series, and I also have an idea for a sequel, but I don't know if it will work. There's a character — I don't think he appears in the first issue, but, by Issue 2, he shows up — that Donny and I both immediately fell in love with. We really want to do more with him and maybe give him his own mini-series some day in the future.
Can you tell us about this character or will that spoil anything?
His name is Dr. Blaqk. He's kind of a weird mix of Alan Moore, Jerry Garcia and Dr. Strange.
Mark Reznicek will be signing copies of Buzzkill on September 18 at Zeus Comics.