From Cards to Comics: Interview with Brad Roach

Heather: Hello and welcome to Vegas Aces. We have a great guest with us. I am looking forward to talking with Brad Roach. Brad, how are you today?

Brad: I am great, how are you doing?

Heather: Thank you so much for doing this. Thank you for joining us. I am so excited to see your comics. You have comics about casino dealing from the dealers perspective. Your comics are so funny and so well done. How long have you been working on them?

Brad: I started in Laughlin Nevada when I was in my early 20’s. That is where I figured out the casino business was actually funny. After seeing two nuns playing slot machines and then after I said, this is funny, I should turn this into a cartoon. I have always wanted to be a cartoonist and I hadn’t been in business long enough in order to understand a lot of things. Over time it just kind of fell into my lap sort of speaking after becoming a dealer.

Heather: Well let’s get into that. So can you tell me a little more about yourself and how you got into the dealing career?

Brad: I got into the dealing career of hoping to go to school/college in order to pursue my cartooning career or whatever I wanted to do. My direction was eventually go to Hollywood. A lot of hiccups along the way and divorce later. I got into the casino business as a change attendant and then later on went to be a dealer training at one of the casinos that was offering dealer training at the time. I also was working three different jobs. I was working as a fueler at the airport and I was also working as a projectionist for the theater. Eventually I got into the casino business. First thing I learned was blackjack. The first day on my job is that I was a shuffler. We didn’t have shuffler machines back then. I had a shuffle board that you go around from each table to each table and you push into the side of the table. You take the shoe that is inside the drawer out that the dealer is not using. You would shuffle the shoe and then stick it back in the drawer. I did that the whole day the first day on the job. Everybody hated me because I was shuffling terrible or something like that. None of the players were winning so I got it in the breakroom.

I learned blackjack first. Then later on – back then they would give you for every game you know, like ten cents per game. So then later on I learned Caribbean Stud and Pai Gow and then Baccarat and then I was thrown on a craps game and then I was thrown on a roulette game and eventually over time I started dealing everything. There are some games that even some of the new dealers have not even heard that I had to learn to deal was like Red Dog?

Heather: Yeah I don’t know that one.

Brad: Exactly. It’s a spread kind of game where they actually have a miniature dog, red dog that they would have on kind of like a roulette game. Basically it’s a number spread between the higher and lower numbers and how close you get to the number the more you get paid. It was terrible.

Heather: Okay.

Brad: That is the one they put you on if you got into trouble.

Heather: Okay, I got you. We have a couple of games like that.

Brad: Like the Big Six.

Heather: Yeah. The Big Six. So then you started dealing and then what games did you deal?

Brad: I dealt them all. I dealt them all from blackjack. All the different variations of blackjack. Caribbean Stud, Let it Ride, Roulette, Pai Gow, Big Baccarat, and then later on I went into – the place I wanted to work at wouldn’t hire me as a dealer. They wanted dme as a floor because of my experience. Because it was a brand new casino. So they hired me as a floor. So I started flooring then. Then I went from floor, to dealer back to floor, then dual rate. I have been to I think 19 different casinos now.

Heather: Okay. What state was that in?

Brad: I started in Laughlin which is Nevada. Then Louisiana, like Charles. Then later on to Washington State. Then I was mostly tribal gaming up there then later on around the mid 90’s they started popping up the small card rooms everywhere. So small card rooms you get to keep your own tips so it was really appealing to go there. I was recruited to go over there and I was hopping all around ever since from there. You could actually work there and then maybe a shift manager would open up another and you would follow that one and basically follow the money. So it was a pretty extensive in my life moving around to different casinos. It looks bad on a resume but it was good for me.

Heather: I bet that was fun going to different states and everything.

Brad: That is where I really got into the whole dealing with the nitty gritty because I started seeing a pattern of players. Seeing a pattern of dealers. My favorite cartoon character of my cartoon was based after a real dealer that I met. I am going to call him out on here. He is the one that I actually designed the Rooty Rabbit character around. We will talk about that later.

Heather: Yeah. So let’s get into this. You started drawing these comics. I really love your comics. Your comics are just fantastic. Let’s take a look at some of them. So this first one has a cover page that says Introducing Lucky Chance. Dealing With It is the name of your comic. As we see a TV right there with the game show going on…

Tune in to see who the next lucky contestant will be that will take home one million dollars.

Can you talk a little bit more about this cover page?

Brad: The cover page was based around one of my favorite cartoons that Tex Avery did back in the early years. Tex Avery is a cartoonist for like – he did a lot of Tom and Jerry stuff. He also had one that was Symphony in Slang. It was based on how the modern dictionary has changed and also our dialect and our lingo and the things that we say and do. But also I was on a reality TV show many years ago called “I hate my job.” It really didn’t go anywhere but I was the casino dealer that wanted to better my job. I was hoping for the opportunity to pursue this full time and get away from the casino business. There is nothing wrong with the casino business, it's just this has been my passion all my life. So I wanted to do something more geared towards my art. I came up with this idea of having my character go on a game show and he has to tell the judges about his life in the casino business. If they can’t do his job after he tells everything he has to do, then he could win a million dollars.

Heather: So let's look at this comic. The first panel says…

Welcome to another night of fun on Take My Job Please! Where a contestant could win a mission dollars if the celebrity panel agrees they can’t do the job of the contestant. (Host) Actors challenge themselves in acting parts. But can they do the job in real life? Tonight another contestant that will say…Take My Job Please!”

I know I have felt this before as a casino dealer. So we see in the bottom three panels that the game show host is talking to the dealer, Lucky. He says…

Let’s meet our first contestant lucky chance! What is your job? (Lucky) I am a dealer. (Host) Nothing illegal I hope! Ha Ha Ha. (Lucky) Casino Blackjack Dealer. I deal dice for a living. (Host) That doesn’t sound too hard. (Lucky) That is what you think.

I love how you put that in there. Nothing illegal I hope, because I have gotten that so many times as a casino dealer.

Brad: You say you are a dealer. And they say oh drugs? Seriously?

Heather: Yes, seriously.

Brad: They can’t say car dealer or anything like that. They have to go straight to that one. Always fun.

Heather: Always. So next it says…

(Lucky) Some think I was born with a deck of cards in my hand.

I love how the next panel you actually show the baby pitching the cards. I love that.

Brad: Oh I am glad you got that.

Heather: Yeah. Totally. The doctor says…

I'm sorry to say he’s going to have to learn to deal with his disability.

That is hilarious.

Brad: Thank you. Getting back to what I was talking about Tex Avery, this is taking kind of homage to Tex Avery he did the Symphony of Slang and basically in his cartoon he says, “I grew up overnight.” The baby in the cartoon actually grew up overnight. Or I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth and then he had a silver spoon in his mouth. So in this case I am taking everything that my cartoon is literally and a kind of a comical way so that I can describe to everybody out there that never worked in a casino what we actually have to deal with. People actually think we were born there or that we actually live at the casino. They don’t even realize that we have apartments.

Heather: Yes!

Brad: So I am taking that in consideration to everything.

Heather: You wouldn’t believe how many times I have gone traveling and I tell people I am from Las Vegas and they are like what casino do you live in?

Brad: Exactly. I lived in Prim. I worked in Prim and Buffalo Bills and Whisky Pete’s at one point. Everybody thought I actually lived in Vegas. I actually lived right behind the roller coaster in the apartments over there. Everybody was like where do you live?

Heather: Yep 100%. So on the very bottom panel we see Lucky…

Thinking I had the upper hand in life.Then you have a little name tag that says LIFE. Lucky is pitching the cards and we have the player looking at his cards thinking…Life dealt me a bad hand.

Which is actually perfect.

Brad: It is basically around my life and my divorce and other things that happened. For example going on the hate my job reality show, my mom had passed away two weeks prior to going on the show. She was so proud that I was actually going on a reality TV show and I couldn’t miss it and I did it for her. It didn’t go anywhere but it was the premise of the idea behind it. Anything that we go through we are dealing with life. Inside the casino we have politics, we have all these other things that go inside, but I always – people say many different things. So I had titled it Life’s A Gamble, Lucky Chance. But later on I heard people saying we are just Dealing With It. Whatever the procedures or the changes are in life or in the casino. Somehow it just stuck. Dealing With It became the title.

Heather: That is perfect because I just can’t stop gushing about your comic. I just love your comics. It is just so perfect to life too because life does give you some bad hands sometimes. As a casino dealer I think we have a little bit of perspective on luck, good luck, and bad luck and runs and that type of a thing because we see it all the time in the casino.

Brad: Which is also the premise behind my cartoon also if luck exists so does everything else in my cartoon. That is why later on you will see Santa Clause, you will see Aliens, you will see all these different characters popping up because if luck exists – they could swear up and down the players on your game that you are the unlucky dealer so get rid of that dealer. So if it truly exists, who else exists? That is why I created that. I am going to have little minions that run around the casino. That is in a different story. I will tell you about that later. They are the ones that actually give the players 13 and 12 all night long on purpose.

Heather: Oh I love that!

Brad: Little minions.

Heather: That’s such a great idea.

Brad: They are all based around the Pips. So the one Pip is a death which is a spade. Then you have diamonds, she is giving away the money. Then you have a heart that cares for the person that is down on his luck, maybe finds some money on the ground. Then you have the hard working club, he is just there working his darndest trying to either help people or not help people. He is just like the inbetween.

Heather: Could be either good luck or bad luck.

Brad: Correct. He is just working hard.

Heather: I can’t wait to see that comic. So this comic that we have up on screen you showed the bathroom and it says…

Do you ever wake up asking yourself “Is this really the hand life’s dealt me?” Just as the fogged mirror after a shower distorts my face. My life also seems distorted. I build up the courage to wipe away the condensation from the mirror as I think to myself it can’t be all that bad. But then I am reminded that the mirrors don’t bluff.

I love that. Hilarious. So then you have him getting ready for work and his kid comes in and the kids says…

Dad, do you really have to work on Thanksgiving? Where do you work? And He replies, At a casino. It’s a place people take money in hopes of winning more. The kid is like, What if they lose? Well then they don’t have any money. The kid sighs and he says, Wait a minute! You have no money. Did you lose at the casino? He replies, Heck, no that’s called a divorce.

Brad: That is where I take the realism from my life, things that happen and a combination of whimsical, silly. You can’t have comedy without dramedy. So there you go.

Heather: It’s true to life.

Brad: I can actually look back on things and still laugh at it. At the time –

Heather: Not only laugh at it but you take the stuff from your life and make it into this great comic and make everyone else laugh about it.

Brad: That’s my plan.

Heather: Do you want to talk a little more about that?

Brad: I have several stories, or ideas that I have created about the cartoon. Based on my real life experiences and things that I have seen and everything like that. But the whimsical part was where the character may end up getting visitation from Santa Clause or Aliens try to attack the casino. Infiltrated it or whatever. If Lady Luck exists then eventually one day he actually sees Lady Luck through the whole day and you start realizing that Lady Luck is real. That is who is running the little minions that are running around like I was talking about earlier.

Heather: You are actually going to have a character that is Lacy Luck and she is in control of the minions.

Brad: Yes. She looks like a bag lady walking around the casino. You don’t know because in methodology Casandra was a predictor and later on or somewhere along the lines somebody got upset at what she was doing and so – whether you believe her or not is up to you. But she could be telling you the truth about the luck that is going on in your life. So as a bag lady that is running around the casino, some people will probably won't even take a second look at this person. But then when he actually sees it in true life she looks like this beautiful Lady Luck kind of character. But there are also all these little minions running around doing all these things that nobody else can see but one day my character is able to see them.

Heather: I cannot wait until that one comes out. I love that idea. That is such a great idea.

Brad: I wrote several scripts already. I have got several of them already written and drawn. It’s a matter of – it’s time consuming putting them together into a book, comic strip and making sure it’s all packaged all nice so that it – if I have a typo opps. I don’t want any of that. So I am trying to be professional about this.

Heather: That makes sense. Do you have your comics coming out like once a week or once a month or something like that? Or are you gathering all of them to put them in your book?

Brad: Right now I am gathering them but I – they are on my website. You can go to dealingwithitbybradroach.com. You will see the pages that are completed and then I will put in another page and another page. So eventually you will be able to read it online.

Heather: Awesome.

Brad: But kind of working around the avenues of how – I mean I would like to profit off of it but I am more wanting to do it for my own sake because it is my own personal therapy of getting my stuff out there. But like I said it is time consuming and it’s also – it’s kinda like what you do. It’s time consuming and also me being diligent to make sure I am putting it out there every week and so forth. That is my plan, to have it out there once a week. The full page vs – some comic strip artist put out one comic strip a day or a week or whatever. I am trying to –

Heather: That is too much.

Brad: I am trying to do it so when you read it it is reading like a linear plot line that goes along with the story. Along with some of these that can be set on their own as a print for merch. That would be a joke on its own so you don’t even have to read the entire comic strip. I am trying to put it like Calvin and Hobbes used to do with his. He would have some that are like, that would look great on a T-shirt but then he also has the babysitter storyline going on at the same time. That is my plan.

Heather: If you guys are interested in seeing any of these we are going to have a link in the description below. So our next comic is him fighting the cards. It says…

I need to get back into the ring. So I received some training from some old cards. The cards are saying, Hit me already! Hit me. You Pansy! I’ll Jack you up!

Brad: That goes back to the whole Tex Avery thing again, where it’s acting as literal. As a Jack he is going to jack you up. The way I write it – he is getting back in the ring. We see that in life, we get back in the ring of life. Trying, not throwing in the towel. All these different lingos that we use on a regular basis that seem nonchalant. I am actually using them to describe my characters and what they are doing each day.

Heather: I think that is what makes these comics so good. If you are on a blackjack table you are going to hit the cards that you have. Like hit me! That is such a normal phrase and everything. But here you are in the ring and he is actually hitting the jack. This is what makes your comics so good.

Brad: I appreciate it. I laugh at myself sometimes. I like how the three is standing back there all nervous. Like oh no.

Heather: Yeah. And then it says…

I had to have a full background check.

So it is like the FBI thing where you have the lights on you and everything.

I felt as if I was going to work for the FBI.

Which is true with the background check that they have dealers do. It’s expensive. Then after that he is on the blackjack table holding a skull like Shakespear.

Thereafter I was brought in for a formal audition. To hit or not to hit, that is the question. It was hard learning the daily hurdles just to be on time.

They are rushing in and showing security your badge, jumping over the floor.

Brad: For some reason those wet floor signs are exactly where you don’t want them.

Heather: Yes. Always! And then you clock in and just as you clock in you think you are on time and you go to the pit and the Pit manager says…

Lucky you are late. First Break. Just to find out you are on first break.

Brad: It’s so funny I have to explain certain things to my wife. She doesn’t work in the casino business at all. I had to explain a lot of things that we do in the casino that you don’t normally do in a retail shop. But sometimes we should adopt in a retail shop how we change out our dealers for people that are on the floor and maybe they won’t get burned out so quickly. Coming up with this first break thing. She didn’t understand why we had to go on first break. It’s like because the other dealer that is going home is on the game and they get stuck there for 30 more minutes they might get stuck there and won’t be able to get them out or wherever. So if they are actually going to go on break you are going to end up first break.

Heather: That is a good point. Sometimes you have to explain this stuff.

Brad: Here is another one really quick. My wife is Filipino, I had to explain to her that there are certain dealers that couldn’t speak very good English where I was working at one point. I said,
Filipinos worked in the cage and they talk perfectly good English. They should put them on the floor and make them deal. And she was like what the Filipinos are in a cage? I was like no. The cashier cage. So I like oh that is pretty funny. If you think about that on a normal basis no big deal but for her it was like people in a cage?

Heather: Yeah like an actual jail cage with bars and everything. For people in the industry, casino dealers were on a string. So there are four dealers on a string. You have three dealers going to the tables and one dealer who is the relief dealer which people go on break. One of the jobs of a relief dealer is you have to make sure all the dealers are here and on time. If there is any dealer that is not on time or isn’t there, they get first break. So they have 20 minutes to get there, and the relief dealer will take their table so that way we can keep this going. So if you get to work and you have first break, I think oh I screwed up. Okay, shoot. It’s like not a good thing.

Brad: This joke truly happened to me. My car broke down literally right outside the casino that I was stating. My first day on the job. I had to run up the hill, run straight into the casino because my phone died. I went to the casino just like this, hurdling things, swiped in and they said, “By the way you have first break.” After all that.

Heather: Yeah and the first day you do not want that to happen either. Not a good thing. So after he finds himself on fist break we go to the last part of the panel and he is dealing and…

The eye in the sky was hard to get used to at first but soon I was acting like they weren't there.

He is sitting there picking his nose and everything. I laughed out loud when I saw that. I thought that was just so hilarious. Sometimes the eye in the sky is bored and calls down and says to stop picking your nose.

Brad: Yes.

Heather: Or something ridiculous that has nothing to do with gaming or dealing or anything. Oh man you are watching me, seriously. And then in the last panel we see our table and we have the table full of players. It says….

But it’s even harder when you are surrounded on a full game. One of the players says, “I sure as hell hope that he is picking me as a winner.”

I love the different characters you have. You have the jackass, you have the drunk dog and everything. This is just so perfect.

Brad: His name is Boogermarooski

Heather: That is awesome! Can you tell me a little bit more about your process of how you go about giving different players their persona. For example I see this and the first thing that comes to mind is I want to see a player that is an actually a literal flee. Because we do call some of our players flees. You have it?

Brad: Oh yeah.

Heather: Awesome.

Brad: Frankie Flee. There was a guy that used to come to the casino. Well I try to take people at face value and how they act and stuff like that. It depends if I find them as a character. But then if I go to another casino I find another person that is similar to that. That is sorta the ling comes in and is helpful because they can always generalize based on one particular type of character which is the flea. The one guy that I met in Washington, every time he would get 21 he would yell 29! For no reason. He was a flea. He made sure everyone knew he was there. He was only playing $3 blackjack. It was terrible.

Heather: Some of the players I swear. It is great that you have a variety of players, for example, Santa Clause. Santa Clause is a player. That’s perfect.

Brad: I came up with this idea because you always hear this saying, baby needs a new pair of shoes. I was like what would Santa do if he came up and picked up dice. He would have to list the whole list of people that are on the good list versus the naughty list.

Heather: Yes. Exactly.

Brad: That is where I came up with this idea.

Sally needs a new Dolly, Andrew needs a new Football, Lil’ Timmy n4eds a new train, Alex needs a new video game, Ted needs…. And the dealer is like…will you roll the freaking dice already, Santa! What are you waiting for Christma, Hanukkah? Something like that?

That brings me to my favorite character, his name is Rody Rabbit. Just like in Friends – who is the main character in Friends, do you know?

Heather: Oh no I have never liked that show.

Brad: Monica. I am talking about in sitcoms Monica would be the main character. In Cheers it would be Sam that owns the bar. In this case it is Lucky Chance is the main character but Rudy Rabbit is his cohort or friend. But he is the one that is stealing the jokes and stuff. He is the one minor deadpan that gets away with saying anything and everything on the game. He would even sell out his own grandma if he could get money for it. That kind of character. But everybody likes him. Every casino has one of those guys. Oh he is funny, he is harmless. That is just the way he is. That is where I came up with Rudy Rabbit based after a guy up in Washington, his name was Robert. He had long hair down to his butt and he was Native American and he was the funniest guy I ever met. His dry sense of humor was hard to tell if he was telling the truth or if he was lying.

So one day he came in with two ponytails all the way down his back. But they were not braided, just like that. I said he looks like a rabbit and so I created Rudy Rabbit after him. There you go Robert, you are nationalized.

Heather: You have a character page for each of your characters where you put different perspectives and different angles. You have them on a card so they each have their own card. Then you write a little more about that character and everything. Here is Rudy's card.

You can see Rudy Rabbit. You also have other characters as well. I know we saw for example Ali the floor supervisor. She looks exactly like a normal floor supervisor.

Brad: I came up with the idea with the name Ali because lots of people play dice down the alley way back in the day. So I came up with Ali Dice as her name. She is kind of all put together in public but behind closed doors her life is a complete mess. It's like in her pit she is immaculate, she highlights everything perfectly. She is kinda like Hermione I guess in Harry Potter. She is always dictating to everyone. But in her home world and her own life outside the casino things are not as put together as it seems.

Heather: What’s funny is that I have known several floor supervisors exactly like this. They are absolutely immaculate when it comes to their professional appearance. Everything is perfect. But if you go to their house the whole house is totally trashed and they are like going and drinking after work and then they go home sloshed. There is no food in the refrigerator and they are living off granola bars. And you're like, are you serious?

Brad: In my cartoon my Lucky Chance character, he actually has a child but he is only part time with his son. It shows him periodically. I am not going to just write him off or anything like that. It’s just going to show the struggles on that. But like you said with his own personal life when his son is not around how does he behave versus when he is working in the casino. A lot of people think that we don’t even have lives outside the casino. We don’t have a family. We don’t have children. We don’t have responsibilities, but we do.

Heather: Exactly. That is Lucky Chance that you are talking about.

Brad: That is correct. I don’t know why I came up with the name Lucky Chance. Mostly because I died when I was two weeks old and they saw me kicking around just like in ET in the Zip Lock bag and everything. They brought me back to life. Six months later we went to Germany. After that I came home. Fifteen years later I tried to go get a job and my dad filed for a social security card and found out I was deceased.

Heather: OMG

Brad: Yeah. Someone filed that death certificate and I became a Lucky Chance. So there you go.

Heather: That is an incredible story right there.

Brad: That is how I came up with the idea of Lucky Chance because he is always looking for his lucky break. His chance to do something with his life and he thought this is not it. Like I said before, some people want to do a career in the casinos. Some people don't, they just want to use it as a stepping stone to get to where they want to be in life. That is what I have ever – whenever someone has approached me about why you work in a casino I would be like, that’s why. You can use this as an opportunity.

I have had people that were lawyers work with me that actually have a law firm. They left the law firm to be a dealer. I have had people that are nurses that got tired of all the stress and became a dealer. Just to get away and start brand new. Some people stay in it and some people actually try to take a venture out of it. My character is trying to take a venture out of it. There is more to the story you will find out later in the volumes to come that life is a circle. You never know where it is going to take you. That is basically his story.

Heather: Okay. See you are not just good at drawing and art – I love the depth that you have with these stories and the way that you incorporated all of this. You do such a great job with this. I am really looking forward to reading the book when it comes out.

Brad: I appreciate it. This helps me. It gives me a feeling inside that someone actually wants to see this. I have been talking about it for years. You can ask any of the people that I work with. They keep asking when are you going to put it out? When are you going to put it out? Well it takes time. It takes energy and it takes motivation. I see there is a need for it. Just like your podcast for what you are doing. I see a need that people need to see the funny side of casino business. Funny side of life that combines both.

Basically I want to sum up the characters that I work with. They sometimes look like the people that I work with. My character looks like me. But there is a reason why my character doesn’t look like an animal. You will find out more later. The casino that he works for in the cartoon is called Cheap Charlie’s Casino. Based after – it looks like a vacuum. So it sucks up everybody, including their money. It’s just little tips like that within the cartoon that makes it fun. Three settings are going to be in there. It’s mostly the casino floor, the break room and Lucky’s apartment. Those are the three main settings.

Then of course all the other characters that come along with it. Like the pencil, actually looks like the pencil. The pit boss looks like a pit bull. I have a badger that is the boxman for the craps game. He is very quiet. He reminds me of Sam Kinison. Look him up, he is a hilarious comedian. Also, the whole idea behind my character is that he is trying to better the life that is dealt him. He finds that he is surrounded by other colorful characters. He lives in his own world that is black and white. Since he has gone in the casino business he sees a life differently now that he is working the casino. They are trying to do the same thing to better their hand from both sides of the table. It takes from all aspects. Not just from the dealer's aspects but I actually branch out to the other departments. I have them actually itemized according to spades, diamonds, hearts and clubs. So spades are definitely table games, diamonds would definitely be service and the clubs are the working group, they are behind maintenance, people that are cleaning up the casino. I have it all organized out for the future episodes. Like I said I want to box it up to a big huge deck of cards after the whole thing is completed. The whole cards represent the graphic novel or cartoon or whatever of it. Each one of them has their own – each one of them is about 52 strips long for each story line. That gives 52 cards. Then thirteen stories per episode. That is a full deck. Then four of the thirteen are a full deck. So that is my plan.

Heather: I can’t wait until it’s done and out and I can buy this because I have so much fun. It is so enjoyable reading your comics.

Brad: I appreciate it.

Heather: I really appreciate you being on this show.

Brad: I enjoy it. I appreciate it.

Heather: I hope we are going to have you back. And get to see some more of your work. Thank you!

Brad: Thank you! You guys have a great day.

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