Drummer and Comic Creator Mark Reznicek on Sobriety and Superheroes

Monday, September 30th, 2013


Blog Editor’s Note: When he’s not on stage, Toadies drummer Mark “Rez” Reznicek can often be found with his nose in a comic book. Recently, he teamed up with comic writer Donny Cates and artist Geoff Shaw to create a four-part series, Buzzkill, which tackles a subject we don’t often find in the funnies: addiction and recovery. Buzzkill’s superhero, Ruben, gets his powers from drinking and drugs, but after alcoholism wreaks havoc on his life, he decides to get clean. Here, Reznicek discusses how Buzzkill came to be and the series’ sobering look at substance abuse.  

Phoenix House: What was the inspiration for Buzzkill

Mark Reznicek: My co-writer Donny Cates and I love comics and we’re both drawn to character-driven stories. In the 60s, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were the first comic book creators to give superheroes problems. Spiderman, for example, couldn’t get a date in high school and the Fantastic Four got kicked out of their building.

So, with Buzzkill, we were interested in creating a character who has super powers, but doesn’t seem that heroic. No one had ever done a comic about a superhero who got his powers from drinking or drugs. There was a lot of comedic potential in this idea and it would have been easy to play it for laughs, but the more Donny and I talked about it, the more we thought, “Well, what if this really happened?  What if the superhero became an alcoholic and in order to get over it, he had to quit.” There was an inherent conflict that would make for a good story. 

PH: What made you want to tackle the issue of addiction and recovery? 

MR: Playing in a rock band, I’ve seen and done my fair share of drinking and drugs.  Our soundman in the 90s, who was also a close friend, died of an overdose. Donny and our artist Geoff Shaw have also had friends and relatives affected by this disease. Addiction is something that we’re all touched by to one degree or another.


PH: It’s interesting that Ruben gets his superpowers from drinking and drug use, but his substance abuse also causes a great deal of destruction. Is this meant to replicate that feeling people have of being on top of the world while they’re using and later seeing the consequences?

MR:  It can seem that way.  Everyone who drinks or gets high feels unbeatable, until the hangover sets in.  It’s pretty common for people struggling with addiction to lay waste to their whole lives before they get help; in the first issue of Buzzkill, we find out that Ruben laid waste to an entire city.  We basically took the negative effects of addiction and applied them to a superhero.

PH: Ruben’s first AA meeting also seems very realistic. He doesn’t yet identify as an addict and he thinks, “I’m not like the rest of these people.”

MR: Our goal was to make the story true-to-life. Donny actually attended a few AA meetings as part of his research. He told the group why he was there and at first, he was met with some resistance. But once people in recovery realized that we weren’t trying to make light of addiction or create a caricature, they were very open and receptive. They understood that we just wanted to get a feel for what they were going through.

PH: Buzzkill has gotten a great reception so far.  Is there a particular message you hope readers will take away about addiction and recovery?

MR: We’re in shock about how positively people are responding. It’s gratifying and really cool. We’re not role models and we’re not preaching. We just had a story in mind that we wanted to tell, one that hasn’t been told before. But if the way we portray addiction rings true and people learn something, that’s an added bonus. It makes us feel like we’re doing our jobs.

If you or a loved one needs help for a substance abuse issue, Phoenix House is here for you. Email us or call today at 1 888 671 9392.

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