If you were confused by some of the posts made on the Rat Queens Facebook Fan Page this past Friday, you may have chalked it up to Friday the 13th weirdness. If you suspected something greater was going on, you’re not alone as many fans have been questioning these recent posts.
Images featuring artwork from series’ original artist Roc Upchurch from the original Rat Queens webcomic and concept art were posted to the fan page. What makes this surprising is that Tess Fowler has been drawing the book since September of 2015. Upchurch was removed from the book in November of 2014 following an arrest for Battery – Family Violence; First Offense Misdemeanor (a charge that according to Upchurch has since been stricken from his record).
Some background on Upchurch’s departure
Almost immediately after news of the arrest broke, co-creator and writer of the series Kurtis Wiebe made a statement announcing Upchurch’s removal from the series, to the relief of many of the long time fans. Since then the series continued on with different artists each of whom tried to give the book their own flair. After a few false starts, Rat Queens seemed to be getting back on track with Tessa Fowler doing the art.
In the aftermath of the November 2014 arrest Upchurch has been M.I.A. from the comics scene either by his own doing or as a result to the backlash to his actions. Upchurch has been open and frank about his arrest and the steps that he has taken in its aftermath. In an interview with Comic Book Resources Upchurch expressed regret for his actions and talked about his efforts to recover and heal himself and his family.
Recently, the series went back on hiatus (which is not unusual for the title), however, the recent unyielding speculation that Upchurch may be returning to the title has come to the shock of many. Chief among them being Fowler who took to Twitter over the weekend to express her disappointment with being unceremoniously removed from the book. Fowler took the time to answer questions from fans regarding the circumstances surrounding her departure. In summary, Fowler’s tweets allege that she was not given the advance notice she requested should this exact situation arise. Her candor was taken up by some as a rallying cry and she devoted a lot of time talking her followers off the ledge as it were.
In the below statement Wiebe denied the allegation that Fowler was removed to allow Upchurch to return to the title but held that rather the change was made for creative reasons. Having read the series from the first issue, I have to admit that the book seems to have lost its footing since the initial creative team change. Some of this can be attributed to artistic choices but some fast also lies with the story. Whatever the reason, the book has remained a fan favorite.
— Kurtis Wiebe (@kurtisjwiebe) May 15, 2016
What comes next?
The effect Upchruch’s potential return will have on the title has yet to be seen, but we can be sure that whenever the title returns from hiatus there will be a lot of interest. Whether that interest will be due to the drama surrounding the creators or the drama on the pages remains to be seen.
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