Rainbow Raider Interview
conducted by David R. Black
As many of you know, Roy G. Bivolo recently joined the Fanzing staff as our new art gallery curator. After spending the past few months working behind the scenes with Fanzing art coordinator Phil Meadows, Bivolo's design and layout of "Le Musee de Bivolo" met with resounding praise from readers following its debut last issue. Roy graciously took time out of his busy schedule to sit down and answer a few questions about his life, supervillain career, and recent job change.
David R. Black: Thanks for agreeing to the interview, Roy.
Roy G. Bivolo: No problem.
DB: Let's dive right into the questions, shall we? Two of the recurring questions we ask our interviewees are: Where were you born and raised? How did that environment affect your work and outlook on life?
RB: I was born in Central City, the son of an optometrist. My Dad owned the "Central City Eye Care Associates" chain of optometry practices, and we lived above the store on East 56th Street. Lee's Framing and Galleria, a store which made custom frames for artwork, was two stores down from my Dad's. I spent a lot of time there, just watching and observing. Mr. Lee would paint in his spare time, when he wasn't busy making frames, and he'd sell his work in the shop.
DB: So that's where your love of art comes from?
RB: Yeah, I guess so. I always wanted to be a painter. I was never interested in sports, music, or any of those other things most kids like to do.
DB: Why painting? Why not sculpture or some other form of art?
RB: Why do you like comics? Why not prose novels?
DB: Point taken. It's just a matter of personal preference, I guess. So while you were learning to paint - is this how your color blindness was detected?
RB: I was only four or five years old when I first started to paint seriously. I'd help Mr. Lee, and even though I was really good, a child prodigy, if you will...
DB: How humble.... (laughs)
RB: It's the truth! I was damn good! Better than kids twice my age!
DB: So you could paint better than ten year olds?
RB: You wanna hear this or not?
DB: Sorry. Carry on.
RB: Anyway, despite being a child prodigy, Mr. Lee thought my choices in color left a lot to be desired. He couldn't figure out why, for example, I'd do a blue Santa Claus rather than a red Santa Claus.
DB: Your blue Santas are stuff of legend. Caused a prison riot at The Slab once.
RB: Yeah, well, he shouldn't have criticized my work! Never criticize an artiste extraordinaire! The big doofus was asking for it....
RB: Right. So Mr. Lee tells my Dad about my of use of color. Dad, being the best optometrist in the city, knew exactly what to do. He took me into his office immediately and gave me the Ishihara tests.
DB: The ones with the colored dots?
RB: Exactly. The Ishihara tests contain numbers that are revealed in patterns of dots. For example, people with normal vision will see a 25, whereas people with red-green color blindness will see a 29.
DB: And which type of color blindness do you have? Red-green? Yellow-blue?
RB: Complete achromatopsia. I'm totally color-blind, meaning that I see colors as various shades of gray. It's the rarest form of color blindness. Usually, complete achromats such as myself have various other vision problems like nystagmus or photophobia.
DB: Photophobia? Hypersensitivity to light?
RB: Right. Bright light, even moderate amounts of light, hurt my eyes.
DB: That probably explains why you've never teamed up with Dr. Light!
RB: (laughs) Yeah, I guess so! That's also why I wear my prisma-goggles so much. Dad equipped them with polarizing filters which reduce the intensity of light and make it bearable. In the few cases where I've appeared without my goggles, you can probably notice that I'm either squinting or blinking a lot. That's just a natural reaction in trying to compensate for my photophobia.
DB: You mentioned your prisma-goggles. When did your Dad give them to you?
RB: On my 21st birthday. Dad worked for years to perfect them, and he died shortly after giving them to me. I was crushed. I was never close to my Mom, and that made losing my Dad even worse.
DB: Why weren't you close to your Mom?
RB: Color blindness is inherited and is linked to the X chromosome. It's nearly always passed from mother to son. Basically, I inherited my color blindness from Mom, and I resented her for that.
DB: So your bitterness over your Dad's death led to you beginning your criminal career?
RB: Yeah, I guess so. That's part of it.
DB: Is there more to it, though? I mean, no offense, but being color blind is pretty lame excuse for becoming a supervillain.
RB: Spoken like a true ignoramus! You have no idea how much I've suffered! No idea of the torture I've gone through!
DB: Such as....
RB: Such as not being able to do what I wanted with my life! As a little boy, my dream was to become a world renowned painter! Do you know what it's like to have my paintings ostracized simply because of my color choice?
DB: There's always black and white.
RB: My latter work has all been in black and white, but that's not the point. The point is that I watched others kill my dream, kill my chances of doing what I wanted with my life! All because I couldn't see color.
Did you know that I was rejected from Lampert Art School because of it? How could I study art, the admissions officer said, without being able to appreciate it fully? Color is an integral part of the artistic experience - from studying art history and other artists to creating your own.
I was crushed.
DB: What about the Americans with Disabilities Act?
RB: What about it? I don't think color blindness qualifies under it. And besides, I couldn't afford a lawyer, or a protracted court battle, either.
DB: The guise of the Rainbow Raider was created by a seed of bitterness.
RB: More that just a seed of bitterness. A whole freakin' stalk of bitterness. Ever hear that poem? You know, "What happens to a dream denied? Does it dry up, like a raisin in the sun? Or does it explode?"
DB: And thus was born the Rainbow Raider.
RB: Right. I figured that if I couldn't fully appreciate artwork, then no one else should be allowed to appreciate it either. In my first heist, I stole a bunch of valuable pieces from the Central City Art Museum. An Andrew Wyeth, a Jackson Pollack, and two pieces by Renaissance artist Fra Filippo Lippi.
DB: And this brought you into conflict with the Flash. [Flash (1st series) #286]
RB: Right. Barry Allen, the second Flash. We fought, I got away. We fought, he captured me, and I went to prison. Story of my career, unfortunately.
DB: But your powers were unlike anything Flash had ever dealt with before.
RB: Yeah, I forgot to mention that. My prisma-goggles emit beams of different colors light, and each color has a different effect on a person's emotions. Yellow causes cowardice, green causes jealousy, blue causes sadness.
Black beams are a bit different. They drain the energy out of whatever they hit. Black beams enabled me to slow Flash down to a manageable speed.
DB: I've often wondered what your indigo beams do.
RB: They cause uncontrollable break-dancing. I hit Batman with one in Brave and the Bold #194....
DB: The time you teamed up with Dr. Double X?
RB: Right. I hit Batman with an indigo beam, and he just lost it. He started spinning around on the ground, doing all these awesome moves. I can still hear him singing: "Open the door, get on the floor, everybody do the dinosaur..."
Double X and I just stopped and stared. So did Flash, who had teamed up with Bats. We couldn't believe it. Editor Julius Schwartz eventually cut that scene from the final issue, and I was forbidden from ever using my indigo beam again.
DB: I actually found some footage from that scene. Here's a shot of you break dancing!
RB: Oh, geez! We really got carried away. Swept up in the moment.
DB: You've often been portrayed as a somewhat reluctant villain. For example, you once teamed up with Booster Gold to prevent a fire from destroying an art museum. [Booster Gold #19 & #20]
RB: Yeah, I did. That whole mess with Gold could've been prevented if he would've stopped to think, but no, he had to follow the superheroes' code: When in doubt, fight. Paul Morris had stolen my work, and I was simply retrieving my property.
DB: Who is Paul Morris?
RB: I met Paul back in high school, at PS 58 in Central City. He was an aspiring artist, too, and we become close friends. Paul was pretty talented, almost as good as me, but he lacked a sense of design. No technique whatsoever.
I told you about how I was rejected from Lampert Art School. Well, Paul got a free ride to Lampert. A full scholarship. I went with him to Lampert and became his "idea man."
Basically, I was the creative force behind Paul's work. I'd do the layouts and roughs, and Paul would finish them. (I couldn't finish them because of my color blindness). We made a pretty good team for awhile. Until our works started getting a lot of positive press reviews.
DB: How'd that create a problem?
RB: Because Paul was the legitimate student, he signed all of our work. In hindsight, I shouldn't have let him do that. Anyway, once our stuff started to sell, Paul took all the credit for himself and cut me out of the deal.
Angry, broke, and basically screwed over by my best friend, I left and returned to Central City.
DB: And this took place before you adopted the Rainbow Raider guise?
RB: Yeah. I got home just in time to see my Dad one last time before he died.
DB: So the bitterness over Morris stealing your work also contributed to the genesis of your criminal career.
RB: Yeah. I finally tracked Morris down a few years later at his art gallery's opening in Metropolis. I busted up the place, ruined the opening, and took my artwork back. Booster Gold was there, and I beat the snot out of him and his robotic pal.
DB: Booster eventually helped you once he realized the truth.
RB: Yeah. He hooked me up with a good lawyer. We had the pigments in my work and Morris' work tested for age, and surprise, surprise, mine were older. The courts ordered Morris to pay me full restitution.
Not too many guys would've helped out an ex-con, but Booster did. He's a class act.
DB: Let's talk about your relationship with your fellow rogues. What do you think of Captain Boomerang?
RB: He's an outback thug. A coward at heart who tries to act like a big shot.
DB: Heat Wave?
RB: Decent, nice guy. I heard he recently went straight and is working security for Cadmus Labs. Good for him.
RB: Loser! He tried to frame me, actually all of the Rogues' Gallery, for a crime we didn't commit. I teamed up with Flash to take him down. [Flash (1st series) #348-350]
DB: Captain Cold?
RB: Len and I went to school together. He was two years ahead of me, and I actually knew his sister better than him.
DB: Lisa Snart.
RB: Right. The Golden Glider. She and I actually went to the prom together.
RB: Yeah. Nice girl. Really talented skater. It's a shame what happened to her.
DB: Captain Cold recently tracked down her killer.
RB: Really? I hadn't heard that. Good for him. Wish I could've found the bastard who did it. I would've made him suffer.
Hollywood Screen Star
DB: Let's talk about your film career. Not many people know that you starred in "Flash: The Movie" which was in theaters a few years back.
RB: Yes, in 1997. I played myself. The movie proceeds went to benefit the town of Santa Marta. After Major Disaster trashed the city, Wally West [the Flash] wanted to help them rebuild. Thus was born the movie idea.
DB: How'd you get involved? If I remember correctly, the movie's original press release listed Kobra as the villain.
RB: Right. At that point, I was romantically involved with Monica Mayne, the actress who played Linda Park in the movie. Wally West was on-hand to do the movie's special effects (actor Todd McCrea played the Flash), and Monica wanted West to notice her. She had this whacked out notion that she was destined to marry West.
DB: If you two were romantically involved, why'd you help Monica attract Flash's attention?
RB: I was tricked. I thought messing with the movie's production would generate publicity. You know, get myself and Monica noticed. Once we were both big stars, we could both live happily ever after.
DB: It sounds like something out of a bad "Young Romance" pulp novel.
RB: I guess so. Love makes people do strange things.
DB: So what happened with the movie?
RB: Once I uncovered Monica's true intentions, I decided to ruin the film permanently. If I couldn't have her, nobody could. But West stopped me. Our battle royale had been caught on film, however, and that turned out to be my saving grace.
DB: The film studio decided not to press charges.
RB: Yeah. With minimal rewriting, the producers were able to incorporate our fight into the script. I became the movie's lead villain, and the studio didn't press charges because they needed me for re-shoots.
I also used my chromal powers to create some of the movies' special effects. Saved them a ton of money by doing that. The film was actually under budget!
DB: After the movie came out, there was talk that the studio might produce a sequel using your memoirs as source material. What became of that?
RB: Movie-wise, nothing. However, I did get a book deal out of it. My memoirs were published by Keystone Press, under the title "Rainbow Dreams, the Story of Roy G. Bivolo." It sold pretty well, and DC eventually put out a companion book.
DB: "The Greatest Rainbow Raider Stories Ever Told". It collected all of your comic appearances in one volume. [Booster Gold #19-20; Brave and the Bold #194; Green Lantern (second series) #175; Flash (first series)#286, #298-300, #332, #348-350; Flash (second series) #19; Flash Annual #10]
RB: I did the talk show circuit, gave speeches at colleges, the works. Asides from an appearance in DCU Holiday Bash III, I haven't done a lot of comic work since then. Money was coming in from other sources.
DB: You no longer needed to get beat up by superheroes in order to earn a paycheck.
RB: [laughs] That's for sure!
Coming to Fanzing
DB: Let's talk about your recent career change. Why'd you decide to quit DC and come to Fanzing?
RB: I wanted to get back to my roots as an artist. Plus, I was tired of being typecast as a "goofy, but loveable villain."
I felt that I had accomplished everything I could in comics, and it was time for a change. Aside from Captain Cold, most members of the old Rogues' Gallery have died or gone onto other things. A new generation of villains are coming to the forefront, and being a bit old school, I felt out of place.
When you guys called, I decided that I couldn't turn down an opportunity to become the curator of an art gallery!
DB: Were there any hard feelings?
RB: No, not really. Geoff [Johns, writer of the Flash] was really cool about it. He came up with the idea of my death scene in Flash #183. Geoff was introducing Blacksmith, a new villain, and he wanted to kill somebody off to make her [Blacksmith] look tough. Originally, he wanted to off the Turtle, but I persuaded him otherwise.
DB: You suggested he use you instead?
RB: Yeah. In many respects, my "death" was a nice solution. Geoff got what he wanted, it enabled me to get out of my DC contract, and it hopefully offered my fans a sense of closure.
DB: In the scene leading up to your death, you seem to be acting out of character. Instead of the loveable rogue we've come to expect, you're suddenly an angry trouble maker. Even your costume is gone, replaced by an grungy looking trenchcoat.
RB: I can't talk about that, but there was a reason for it.
DB: You mean the person Blacksmith killed might not have been you? An imposter?
RB: Let's just say that there are ways that I can come back, if need be. I left some options open. I also signed a standard "flashback" contract, which enables me to appear in any stories set in the past.
DB: Is there anything in the works?
RB: I've discussed a "Rainbow Raider: Year One" miniseries with Geoff and Scott [Kolins, the penciller of Flash], but their schedules are pretty busy right now. In the meantime, I'm content with my new curator duties here at Fanzing. I get a monthly gig and I'm doing something I love. What more could a guy want?
DB: Sounds good to me! On that note, thanks for the interview, Roy. I appreciate it.
RB: You're welcome.
Roy G. Bivolo, also known as the Rainbow Raider, left a lucrative career at DC to beome the host of Fanzing's art gallery. Color blind since birth, he has carved a reputation as an artiste extraordinaire.
David R. Black is Fanzing.com's magazine editor and chief archivist. A big fan of "The Warlord," he has a cat named Shakira and is looking for a girlfriend named Tara....
All characters are DC Comics
This piece is © 2002 by David R. Black and Roy G. Bivolo
Fanzing is not associated with DC Comics.
All DC Comics characters, trademarks and images (where used) are DC Comics, Inc.
DC characters are used here in fan art and fiction in accordance with their generous "fair use" policies.
Fanzing site version 7.4