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Natalie Reiss talks her Oni Press original series, world building, and Batman

Original ideas are hard to come by in this sequel obsessed age of film and TV. My friend recently commented on how the current 80’s obsession might be our hunger for original ideas and he might be right. Thankfully, Oni Press recently started publishing a comic that’s rife with original ideas called Space Battle Lunchtime.

I’ve had the opportunity to review all of the issues and it’s fantastic stuff. When Oni Press let me know writer, artist and letterer Natalie Reiss was available for an interview I jumped right on it. Natalie talks about superheroes and food, how to compose a solid cooking montage, and more!

AiPT: I’ve really adored your comic. It’s got this endearing quality that I love, but the cooking montages are just so spot on too! From the very start, this series has felt very rich with ideas. As far as world-building is concerned, how much did you develop the world before even penning, drawing and lettering the first issue? What’s your process like approaching each issue?

Natalie Riess: SBL’s worldbuilding is fairly loose- I started by writing the story with a flexible idea of what the space world was like and have been filling in the blanks as I need to/to suit the story/when I think of a cool joke.

The issue process is pretty much the same- I have an overarching outline that I can use as a map, but as I write/draw each issue things come into focus and get better developed, and then I build on that when I move onto making the next issue. This way I have room to grow as I get deeper into the story but don’t get lost at any point.

AiPT: Are you a foodie or do you consider yourself a foodie?

Natalie: I love to eat and cook, but I don’t think I consider myself a foodie as much as really interested in drawing interesting substances and textures. Food (especially fantasy space food) has a lot of fun chances to explore that.

Some of the great space food in Space Battle Lunchtime.

AiPT: After reading your comic I’m a bit flabbergasted none of the American comic book publishers (to my knowledge) have ever put out a cooking comic. If you had your choice of superhero to write and draw into a cooking story who would it be and why?

Natalie: I’ve seen a couple of American graphic novels/online comics with cooking involved.

I’m not a huge superhero person but, ok, what if Batman tries to learn how to cook because his butler is away on vacation, but he’s bad at it because he’s a silver spoon boy. Then Superman comes over and is slightly better but also not great, but they’re friends and it’s very cute.

I also think a Sandman cooking comic could be very good (weird surreal dream horror cooking would be a lot of fun to draw!), but I don’t think he counts as a superhero.

The cover for Space Battle Lunchtime #4, out August 10th.

AiPT: In issue #2 we learn about another show called Cannibal Coliseum. Please tell me there will be even more hilarious name drops of other shows in the universe?

Natalie: I don’t want to spoil anything, but CC isn’t just a name drop!

AiPT: What went into coming up with the title of the book? It has this ring to it as if there might have been 10 more options!

Natalie: Space Battle Lunchtime was the working title that I never thought of anything better to replace. Looking back I do wish I’d picked something a little shorter, but I think it fits the energy of the story!

The cover of Space Battle Lunchtime Vol. 1, out in October.

AiPT: One of my favorite films is Chef (Please tell me you’ve seen that film?!) and one of the joys of that movie is how they shoot the cooking montages. How much planning and research goes into your cooking montages? They seem so well paced and thought out!

Natalie: I do enough research that I know the process for making the dish clearly, and get a good sense of how the process looks/how the food looks at different steps of the process, whether that’s figuring out an analogue to cook/that I’ve cooked before, or watching some videos about it. I then pace the process out with how much time I’ve planned out for the cooking montage pagewise and the more interesting parts of the process to draw/look at.

I’ve seen some of Chef and enjoyed it! Most of my cooking visuals are inspired by watching Food Network, nice magazine photos or those really beautiful and lush food animations in Studio Ghibli movies.

I would read a comic about the millennia Health Food Wars.

AiPT: Let’s say Peony wins the cooking competition…where does she go from there?

Natalie: Hmm, what actually happens would be a spoiler, but whatever it is I can say she’d want to continue exploring space and making cute foods. A little space-faring food truck that does cupcakes would suit her I think.

AiPT: Thanks for your time Natalie!


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