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26. Z2 Comics relaunches with Pope and Haspiel

This week’s edition of PW Comics World contains news of a newish publishing company: Z2 Comics, formerly Zip Comics, which put out the Eisner-nominated Cleveland by Harvey Pekar and Joseph Remnant last year. It’s headed up by Josh Frankel and the first two projects will be a new edition of Paul Pope’s long out of print Escapo comic, and a collection of Dean Haspiel’s webcomics, Fear My Dear: A Billy Dogma Book.

Frankel told PW he wanted “a new start” and decided to rename and rebrand the company. “Our focus will be eclectic,” Frankel said, “We want to publish books that make money but also publish genre works that feature fine storytelling and great hardcover production.” Frankel said that he’s a fan of books by publishers like Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, Image, and Drawn & Quarterly, “and while I like some superheroes, I like indie-focused books and those publishers are my inspiration.”

Log-rolling alert: Josh is a good Beat pal and occasional traveling companion. He’s a savvy young man, and from what we hear, he has some big and innovative plans on the horizon.


2 Comments on Z2 Comics relaunches with Pope and Haspiel, last added: 9/12/2013
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27. Should we even try to give indie comics a wider cultural context?

This is the golden era of indie comic, artistically and even financially, at least in term of the number of publishers, CAFs and cartoonists who wake up every day excited to be cartooning. It’s a movement that is aesthetically and formally as exciting as anything else going on out there.

All of which makes the Jason Karns Kerfuffle all the more unusual. Indie comics circles don’t have kerfuffles—defined as in depth analysis of the social, racial or gender-based meaning of a certain comic or statement. Those are for nasty old mainstream comics. In case you missed it (and you probably did) it started when Frank Santoro, the cartoonist, comics educator and archivist, posted a thing called New Small Press Comics over at The Comics Journal. As he often does, Santoro just took pictures of comics he liked. Santoro is a comics liker, and if you’ve ever been with him while he goes through an old long box full of old weird comics, you know he is the Nicola Tesla of comics liking, exploring bold new vistas on a daily basis where few can hope to go. This time out Santoro praised the work of Marc Bell—just about everyone likes Marc Bell’s weirdo humor comics, right?– and Jason Karns who, among other books, does a comic called Fukitor which looks like this:

If anything, this reminded me of a somehow more life affirming version of those torture covers everyone was appalled by the other day. If struck me that Fukitor was firmly in the same camp as the Cannibal Corpse stuff everyone told me was fun loving and adorable, and I was maybe going to mention this, but then it really didn’t interest me that much so I didn’t.

The comments on that post at TCJ quickly turned negative however, as people pointed out how racist the book was—Karns’ hero goes around squashing mostly brown people who are portrayed as terrorists. I’d throw in “jingoistic” as a description as well. Oh and misogynist but isn’t everything. The book’s defenders lauded it as edgy and daring, while others suggested that racism and misogyny aren’t all that edgy and daring. Santoro actually backed away from the book pretty quickly—it’s obvious that Karns is one of those energetic and imaginative artists who has so far chosen to work in the gross out genre—and Santoro was responding to the energy not the content. Karns himself eventually showed up in the comments to stand up for his right to be “subversive.”

This was a very, very rare example of the indie comics “community” getting into a Kerfuffle—I mean, of course the Comics Journal/Hooded Utilitarian axis loves arguing, but it’s rarely about anything that bears any connection to the real world, as far as I can make out. Darryl Ayo delivered the best slap down in the comments:

For something to be subversive it needs to both mimic and undermine the societal power structure. The society of the Western world is invariably white dominance and anti-brown. To be truly subversive against that power structure, a work of art would be clinging closely to that as well as poking holes in the structural integrity of the white power structure. Since nothing that we can see here in “Fukitor” does anything to undermine white power while it makes a big show of making sport of nonwhite people, it literally just is what it looks like.

Perhaps I liked this best since it mirror sentiments of my own. But anyway, the kerfuffle played itself out over the next few days. Santoro apologized. Karns climbed up a ladder into his getaway helicopter gloating,

Update – 9/2/13 – Orders have gone waaayyy up since some people starting bitching about this imagery. Thank you. Please, keep bitching.

Tom Spurgeon stepped all into it in a piece that ran several hundred words without actually mentioning the name of the cartoonist he was talking about, but averring:

I don’t know the work of the cartoonist in question, certainly not well enough to lower the boom with a racism charge.

And that got the kerfuffle going all over again! Because when you draw or write things that are racist…well, they are…racist. Darryl Ayo wrote again

There is no need to read a lot of someone’s work to determine if a particular project is racist. As a culture, we are past the era of equating “racism” with a boogeyman, an allegiance to a specific codified group that exists simply to hate people based on race.

….[snip].Jason Karns got exactly what he wanted. He got to be the renegade bad boy for a day, beholden to nobody’s wishes, offending without a care toward the offended. All in all, it was a good day for Mr. Karns. The rest of us were treated to yet another reminder of how Middle Eastern people can be casually dehumanized and how much of society’s dreams and fantasies involve brown people being reduced to mindless beasts, fit for slaughter. Good times.

And David Brothers, also weighed in.

Here’s what happened: someone posts a comic and reviews it. Someone else asks if it’s satirical or what, because it looks pretty racist. The creator of the comic rolls in, asks if people are censors, the pc police, and all this other nonsense. Cartoons aren’t real so who cares, you’re the real racists anyway, and a bunch of other idiot arguments. His cronies roll in, talking about how soft and cowardly the question-askers are.

Other people, myself included, point out that naw, this comic actually is racist, and if you’re riffing on something else that’s racist, you’re still using racist elements! Other people talk about how discussing the racism of something isn’t requesting a ban, and if your transgressive work is just replicating the same lazy ideas that transgressive works were doing 40 years ago, maybe your work is part of the status quo, not transgression.

I found all of this reaction very interesting. As I noted before, in the torture covers discussion, no one really disagreed about anything. There was much more dissension in the Karns Kerfuffle, probably because Karns himself came by to defend the work and that Organized The Protest. The overall reaction also made me proud to live in a country where depictions of members of a geographical group—one which we were at war with a few years ago and may be at war with in a few days— can still be actively and widely labelled as racist. Maybe we have improved as a society a bit since this happened:

Perhaps the most striking thing to me, however, was how little indie/art/literary whatever you want to call them comics are put in any kind of larger cultural context. It seem that that is left for the superheroes. Len Wein, Gerry Conway and Todd McFarlane were roundly vilified for saying that superhero comics—or the “mainstream” as they quaintly called it—didn’t have to have a subtext. “The comics follow society. They don’t lead society,” Conway was quoted as saying, which was kind of a tossed off statement, but sounded really wrong.

Laura Sneddon [who writes for this site] examined this whole idea in a piece called How Comics Got Political, quite rightly pointing out that

One of the historical roots of modern comics is of course the political cartooning of the early newspapers; the mechanical reproduction of images finally allowing art to be consumed by the masses rather than the privileged few, with cartoonists leaping at the chance to communicate complex political situations via their deceptively simple form. 

The idea of comics as a political tool is not without its controversies, from grumbles amongst novelists to riots over religious icon portrayals. Any fan of superhero comics can tell you that comics don’t have to be overtly political, but the recent insistence by creator Todd McFarlane that historically no comic book that has worked has been “trying to get across a message” was largely met by the rolling of eyes.

In the rest of the piece, Sneddon goes on to discuss the level of engagement with politics in their work with Stephen Collins, Joe Sacco, Paul Cornell and Grant Morrison. Obviously, Sacco’s work is some of the most valuable and powerful journalistic work being done in any medium, but’s notable that writers like Cornell and Morrison, who mostly write genre comics, are constantly being asked about the bigger meaning in their work, or claiming that it has a bigger meaning, a claim which a lot of people in the indie comics community would also scoff at.

And yet, it does seem that indie comics and cartoonists are rarely examined in a larger contextual way. This is possibly because the content involves a lot of what some call introspection, and others emo shoegazing—even the greatest one—and maybe because this kind of analysis if of a secondary interest of most of those creating and consuming indie comics? And to be fair, a lot of indie comics are created by an ethnically homogenous groups of suburban white kids. When they stray too far away from writing what they know, as Craig Thompson did with Habibi, the results aren’t awesome. Even a work as great as Building Stories is a personal story—on a most simplistic level, it’s telling us that it’s better to have a happy marriage than lie in bed every night wondering if you should kill yourself.

BTW, I’m not advocating for change here—like I said in the beginning, indie comics now exist in a wonderland where personal expression is the biggest concern, and that’s a beautiful, priceless thing that will eventually lead to even more powerful works. If I were to peg a second interest in art comics at the moment, it would probably be formalism. Critics like Santoro are most excited by the immediate emotional impact of comics art, up to and including printing techniques, an attitude that stems from the fine arts background of a lot of comics commentators and publishers, as well as being the primary focus of Ware and his admirers. (Mathias Wivel’s essay on Habibi quickly shifts from examining its politics to criticizing its inking technique.) And this isn’t in any sense wrong—there is ALREADY a huge tradition of comics, as Sneddon suggests, that deals with politics, subversion and radical ideas and they are rolling right along in various formats.

Still, I’m wondering if this riot of esthetic choices is ever going to be nailed down a bit more. As the world of comics explodes, I find myself lacking the critical background to even comprehend it sometimes. This was brought home to me the other day at my other job, when I was editing a review of Anya Davidson’s School Spirits. I had assigned a review of the book to one of my Publishers Weekly reviewers (who are anonymous by design) but when I got the review back it was pretty clear that he didn’t get the book at all, even though he liked it. As I read the book and struggled to bring the review more in line with useful analysis, I realized that I wasn’t even sure where to begin.


The book is published by Picturebox, which goes heavy into the fine-art formalism school I’ve been talking about—publisher Dan Nadel also co-edits The Comics Journal website, and published Santoro, so there’s an axis emerging there. Davidson contributed to Kramer’s Ergot so there’s another axis there. The Picturebox website describes School Spirits as “Beavis and Butthead meets James Joyce’s Ulysses,” which sounds promising and yet could be applied to almost anything, since Beavis and Butthead and James Joyce between them encompass most of 20th century art and literature. Davidson isn’t a cartoonist I’m particular familiar with, although I find her work fun to look at. Her narrative is dreamlike in its non sequiturs, but the art is more like, well maybe Johnny Ryan by way of Gary Panter if they met up at a tiki bar. It definitely approaches the “New Narrative” style that people were talking about in regards to things like Kazimir Strzepek and C.F. a few years ago. (That isn’t actually what it was called, but there is no “Guide to the Schools of Indie COmics” entry on Wikipedia.)

The failing I’m flailing around with above is all mine and not Davidson’s—I’m sure it doesn’t matter if she considers herself in the “new narrative” school or the “Kramer’s Ergot School” or the Chicago School, or whatever. She’s uniquely her own thing, and if that’s a detriment for someone writing a short review for a trade publication, it’s a virtue in every other arena. The most energizing thing about comics these days is you don’t have to be in any school. Each and every gem of a comic seems to exist in its own, infinite, contextless universe. This is also a product of the extreme hybridization of all forms as well. The “international style” of comics that is gaining ground in the actual mainstream (libraries and books) is one that draws equally from America, European and Manga influences, and the internet insists we mash everything up all at once all the time. Context seems to have less and less inherent value against this backdrop where immediate emotional resonance is the currency. Perhaps it’s this very quality that makes comics one of the most vibrant and relatable mediums of the day.


15 Comments on Should we even try to give indie comics a wider cultural context?, last added: 9/6/2013
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28. Kickwatcher: Uncle Alice Presents and CROOKS & NANNIES

Here’s your chance to fund Jim Calafiore’s solo project and write or draw a horror story for Alice Cooper. There’s even something for the comic book-golfers in this one.

crooks 1 300x176 Kickwatcher: Uncle Alice Presents and CROOKS & NANNIES

Calafiore is trying to raise $12,000 to print vol.1 tpb of CROOKS & NANNIES. For the last two years Jim has been posting these hilarious weekly strips on his website. One of the big selling points for LEAVING MEGALOPOIS was Calafiore’s limited sketch rewards. You’re in luck if you missed out last time because original pen and inks character sketches are only going for $50-$150. The backers are asked to vote from three possible covers after they have pledge. I think this is a great way to get your supporter more involve with the process.

crooks 2 300x176 Kickwatcher: Uncle Alice Presents and CROOKS & NANNIES

At the moment the project is only less then $2,000 left to goal. Jim told me about this project at New York con and I’m glad he has finally followed through with a well thought out project and bat-shit crazy project video to boot. During the promo video Jim gives a moving speech about the power and importance of Kickstarter to independent comic book creators while a man stands behind him, holding a spatula and basketball, and wearing a white meth-cooker-jumpsuit and a welding mask. If that doesn’t give you day-mares then fast-forward to minute 2:13 and check out Jimmy topless and a scuba mask.

If you’re on the fence about contributing because you haven’t released your copy of LEAVING MEGALOPOLOIS, then this might change your mind:

TO MEGALOPOLIS BACKERS:  No worries. These strips are already all done, so this project will take almost no time away from work on that project.


b073a16fa8b105eb3da59ca9f975ae26 large 300x177 Kickwatcher: Uncle Alice Presents and CROOKS & NANNIESGrammy Award-winning rocker Alice Cooper is still  making music, touring the world and performing at his old age. He DJ’s from Sunday to Thursdays on a syndicated radio show called, “Nights with Alice Cooper.” He also owns a famous bar/restaurant that’s connected to Chase Stadium in the heart of down town Phoenix called Alice Cooperstown. Now he wants to break in to comics and start a television show called Uncle Alice Presents.


This is not some hoary tribute to EC Comics. Sure, it’s a comic book anthology horror series, graphic novel, and, if you demand it, a television series, but all comparisons end there. Unlike your mommy’s quaint horror comics of yore, UNCLE ALICE PRESENTS is the one and only horror series brought to you by and featuring the visionary maestro of shock rock himself, ALICE COOPER. That’s right, Alice freakin’ Cooper!

Created by Tom Sheppard (co-creator of and show runner for The High Fructose Adventures of the Annoying Orange), join us on this epic adventure to publish all twelve comic book issues of UNCLE ALICE PRESENTS, along with the compilation graphic novel, and hopefully the television pilot. We’ll even let one lucky backer come up with the idea for one of the comic books!

de6c587a2754374456f8fb7e81433624 large 300x168 Kickwatcher: Uncle Alice Presents and CROOKS & NANNIES

Joining a Kickstarter anthology has been a good way to get up-and-comers to get their feet wet. It’s also a good way to get content from lesser known creators on the cheap. Here’s where you die-hard Alice Cooper fans/professional cartoonist come in to play:


Every backer who pledges $10 or more will have the opportunity to submit one idea for the chance to have it turned into an issue of UNCLE ALICE. The story must be tellable in a 24-page comic book, be fun, and fit with the theme of the series. Once a pledge has been made, the concept can be submitted to submissions@unclealicepresents.com. Please make sure your submissions are in accordance with the rules.

All ideas must be submitted by the end of the campaign, at which point the creative team will pick ten finalists. From May 15th to 25th, each backer will be able to cast a single vote for their favorite of the top ten stories. The winning concept will be turned into an issue of the comic, written by Tom Sheppard, and the winner will receive a co-story credit on that issue.

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Alice Cooper Trivia: not only is he a right-winger that simulates decapitation on stage, he’s a big time golfer. This has to be one of the best rewards in Kickstarter history. Pledge $10,000 and play round of golf with Uncle Alice himself — at a Phoenix course of his choice — and get a signed copy of his book Golf Monster. The project has less than 17 days to raise $174,689, but of course anything is possible with crowd funding.

On the next Kick-Watcher: I’m going to highlight Jason Coffee’s Warhawks and whatever you think is worth mentioning. Tweet me your projects or send a link to kick (dot) watcher at gmail (dot) com and include a press release and links. I also accept bags of cash.

Henry Barajas is the co-creator, writer and letterer for El Loco and Captain Unikorn a weekly webcomic. He has also written and lettered short stories for two successful Kickstarter SpazDog Press projects: Unite and Take Over: Stories inspired by The Smiths and Break The Walls: Comic Stories inspired by The Pixies.  He is the Newsroom Research Assistant for The Arizona Daily Star and was nominated for the Shel Dorf Blogger of the Year award for his work at The Beat.  You can follow him on Twitter @HenryBarajas.

0 Comments on Kickwatcher: Uncle Alice Presents and CROOKS & NANNIES as of 4/1/2013 2:33:00 PM
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29. On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Indie Marketing Tips from ComiXology, Dark Horse, IDW, Archaia, Valiant

ComiXology’s Chip Mosher of Marketing and PR moderated a panel with Jeremy Atkins of Dark Horse, Dirk Wood of IDW, Mel Caylo of Archaia, and addition Hunter Gorinson of Valiant Comics with the goal of sharing tips and pro experience with indie creators and future marketers on Friday, March 29th at WonderCon. The result was quite an entertaining panel featuring their professional blunders and secret discoveries about he ins and outs of comics promotion.

mbrittany gorinson mosher 300x160 On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Indie Marketing Tips from ComiXology, Dark Horse, IDW, Archaia, ValiantMosher started out by asking for the embarrassing stories each had accrued in their work experience, “professional blunders” that contained teachable moments. Atkins admitted to the cringeworthy common mishap of hitting “reply all” on an email and copying a person specifically to be excluded from a conversation, with plenty of sympathetic groans from the audience. Mosher’s own tale of woe was equally relatable, reading an e-mail from Emerald City Con and then forgetting to reply afterward, thereby losing booth space for BOOM that year. Wood was more circumspect about his failures, noting that “25% of marketing is what I would call blunders” that can lead either to success or to a “thud”, and that he finds it impossible to tell which will happen in some circumstances. Persistence, he advised, is the key to forge ahead despite an unpredictable market.

Caylo dredged up his own worst moments with a story of “drunk tweeting” from the wrong account, declaring his love for someone, a tweet that remained up on a company account overnight whereas Gorinson stuck to the ever-present bugaboo of typos in press releases regardless of how many times the releases are checked before sending them out. Wood’s observation that some blunders can have positive results prompted the panel to consider whether they had similar lucky moments. Wood, particularly, “stumbled into successes” by having random, unlikely ideas for promotion like sending Godzilla costumed promo agents to “smash” stores, something that met with great success. The panel quickly turned interactive, fielding questions from the floor, and the first question, probably also the first on everyone’s mind, was how to run PR and marketing strategies on a shoe-string budget.

mbrittany caylo gorinson 300x142 On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Indie Marketing Tips from ComiXology, Dark Horse, IDW, Archaia, ValiantMosher wittily commented, “This guy thinks that we have budgets” to his fellow panellists before Caylo took up the question with what became perhaps the strongest message of the panel event: “It’s all about relationships”. He suggested that those seeking press for comics go to shows, have e-mail conversations that are “not always pitching”, so that it’s easier when you do want to ask a favor to bring it up. He also added that “offer giveaways” on sites that increase “cross-promotion” are a very smart move. Atkins, who was particularly earnest and animated throughout the panel suggested that Twitter is a major player in promotion for building and continuing to cultivate professional relationships, including the retail industry in your list of contacts. Wood spoke to the indie creator’s situation trying to get books distributed. “Nothing speaks louder than a consignment situation”, he said, and pointed out that Top Shelf started through delivering consignment issues to comic shops, “giving books” to shops and allowing them to sell them rather than seeking solicitation. This involves “relentless beating of the pavement” since there is “no replacing grassroots”.

Atkins used this idea to springboard into a gambling metaphor: “In gambling and in life, you only win when you can afford to lose”. You shouldn’t expect return immediately, he warned, but trying different approaches and continuing to do so as long as possible is key. Mosher had strong feelings on the subject, reflecting on the example of a student protester who brough the New York Stock Exchange to a standstill by busking for dollar bills all day, then throwing a hundred bills onto the exchange floor. It was the perfect example, for Mosher, of “getting attention at low cost” and using the least resources to garner the “biggest impact”.

mbrittany atkins wood 1 300x159 On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Indie Marketing Tips from ComiXology, Dark Horse, IDW, Archaia, ValiantGorinson focused on knowing your material and audience to get attention. Knowing the pitch well, and the many angles from which it might be interpreted, breaking out of narrow genre definitions, for instance, may win the day. He recommended top comics news sites as vehicles for spreading the word, as well as working “with anyone and everyone”, including small blog sites. Mosher’s experience at BOOM confirmed this premise. Starting out publishing only 4 to 7 books a month, he scoured blogs, put people in press lists, and sent them PDF review copies in an era before most comics companies were using PDFs in this way, and thereby grew a press list of 400 contacts.

Wood added that looking at comparable publishers and types of titles to the comic you are trying to circulate is a good starting point, looking to see how and where they are doing their marketing and focus your attack in that way. A common pitfall the panellists all agreed on is when creators send a pitch to a company for a comic series that’s a 12 issue proposal or longer. Companies aren’t willing to take the risk, they advised, and a 3-4 issue format is much more appealing at the outset of a project.

A follow up question from the audience regarded strategies to capitalize on the rash of superhero movies and growing movie fans who might never have read a comic. Several panellists felt that there’s no one single approach to bring film fans into comics, but a more surefire method is to “start them young”, reaching young readers with comics visual literacy. Mosher agreed, stating that there are more kids comics today than in the past decade, and comics continue to have unique qualities of storytelling that continue to appeal as a child grows up reading them. Gorinson added that Free Comic Book Day is an excellent opportunity to “get into as many shops as possible” and reach new, young readers. Mosher and Caylo both returned to the subject of cross promotion between films, tv, and comics, like the inclusion of ashcan comics in dvd box sets to show fans what comics alternatives are available for their favorite products.

mbrittany small press alley 300x180 On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Indie Marketing Tips from ComiXology, Dark Horse, IDW, Archaia, ValiantA direct marketing question from the floor focused on the similarities or differences between selling comics and other products, like household items. Atkins felt there was very little difference at all, except that it’s more possible in comics to “know who that person is” you are targeting since “They are me, or some version of me”, as a comics fan. He continued with some other salient advice, such as “You have to believe in what you’re selling” and believe that you are “one of the best advocates for it”. Gorinson felt that marketing comics is different from marketing other consumer products because he often feels an “obligation” to live up to the quality of the work he’s promoting in his own efforts.

Gorinson and Atkins also suggested doing some research into major news sites to find out who on staff might be a comics fan, “finding” that contact, or locating dedicated geek blogging attached to news sites. Atkins and Mosher commented that using social media makes reaching out to news writers more and more direct. Mosher admitted that not everyone may have the desire or “skill set” to promote their comics properly despite attempts, and in that case, he advised, you should find a friend who thrives on that kind of work and collaborate on promotion.

The final big topic addressed by the panel, and one which inspired some lively reactions from the speakers, was the use of transmedia and multiple media formats to draw attention to comics. Caylo said that it’s all about “synergy” between comics, films, and related video games, based on his work at Archaia. Atkins clarified, however, that adding transmedia content to promote comics, such as an app or video game should still be “meaningful to the overall story.

mbrittany artist alley 300x256 On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Indie Marketing Tips from ComiXology, Dark Horse, IDW, Archaia, ValiantI posed a last question to the panel before it came to a close, wondering what the biggest pros and cons are to using social media as a promotional tool. Gorinson replied that you have to be “clever” in different ways to use social media properly for this purpose, while Mosher commented simply, but with some emotion, “Trolls!” as his biggest con. Caylo was the most personally engaged by the question and gave the following run down: social media’s benefits are “accessibility” and the quickness and “ease” of getting the word out about your product, especially when doing it for free. The “dangers”, however, are that “You are open to trolls and people who want to bait you”. “Ignore them”, he recommended, since once they “engage” you, they’ve “got you”. Block them if necessary, and learn to take “the bad with the good” when it comes to social media.

The panel was surprisingly lively, with all the panellists more than willing to share from their personal struggles to find the golden balance when it comes to marketing with limited budgets, and each expressed an obvious commitment to the survival and growth of worthy comics through good strategies and trying innovative methods to see what works for each book and each particular situation. Building personal relationships, watching out for the wrong kind of blunders, and learning from them when they occur, were paramount for these indie publishing marketers.


Photo Credits: All photos in this article were taken by semi-professional photographer and pop culture scholar Michele Brittany. She’s an avid photographer of pop culture events. You can learn more about her photography and pop culture scholarship here.

Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress.




11 Comments on On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Indie Marketing Tips from ComiXology, Dark Horse, IDW, Archaia, Valiant, last added: 4/28/2013
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30. On the Scene: NIGHT JOB Salon Gets Personal

NJ01 291x300 On the Scene: NIGHT JOB Salon Gets Personal

On March 21st 2013 at the Union Hall bar, restaurant, and music venue in Park Slope, Brooklyn, comics creator and TRIP CITY co-curator Dean Haspiel and comedian/actress Katharine Heller launched what may be the first of several salon events featuring comics, comedy, prose, and musical performances entitled “NIGHT JOB”. Though it was a new venture, neither Haspiel nor Heller are strangers to the stage. They were joined by stand-up comedian and writer Molly Knefel of the internet radio show RADIO DISPATCH, indie cartoonist Meghan Turbitt, author Reverend Jen of the long-running “Rev Jen’s Anti-Slam” performance event. Also performing were political satirist and stand-up comedian Angry Bob, and the music group Two Beards One Heart, including  Jeffrey Burandt (aka Jef UK of Americans UK), and Peter Boiko, supported by John Mathias and John Thomas Robinette III.

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[Haspiel and Heller host the salon]

Though the salon opened to a full basement venue, audience members probably didn’t know quite what to expect from NIGHT JOB, however they might have known some of the performers by reputation. The term “salon” often implies multiple genres in the mix, and NIGHT JOB presented quite a range. Though each of these types of performance have the potential to be very entertaining on their own, it’s a challenge to combine them and create a sense of a cohesive event that, collectively, develops its own personality. NIGHT JOB found its way by emphasizing the raw power of very personal content from its salon members.

IMG 4730 300x225 On the Scene: NIGHT JOB Salon Gets Personal

[Molly Knefel]

Knefel opened with a stand-up routine spoofing the “war on women” in congress last autumn, pointing out that a “war on anuses” would have had even the most conservative public official scrambling to sign up in protest. Her rapid-fire delivery and observational humor had the audience engaged from the outset, but her sense of personal commitment to the subject matter as a thinking person translating impressions of a bizarre world set the tone for the evening.

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[Katharine Heller]

Heller read a selection from her recent project featuring “erotica” geared toward Republican sensibilities, “Tickle the Elephant”, and ingenious attempt to get inside the minds of what appeals to conservative women particularly. Turning the lingo of the senate floor and government catchphrases into turn-ons relentlessly, Heller narrated from the perspective of a conservative seduced by liberalism into a sexual common ground. Heller revealed a rather in-depth knowledge of politics on both sides of the party schism in her artistry, and in her mix of satire and humor, suggested dialogue is possible even in the most heated debates.

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[A Turbitt comic panel]

Turbitt presented and performed a wide range of indie comix that appear online, increasingly irreverent to social taboos, particular in expressing women’s lives. From bathroom scenes of an intimate nature to things that most people find adorable but only annoy her, she pushed the envelope on expression and used the comic-panel reveal for shock-value. Her autobio approach struck many of the same chords as Knefel and Heller’s performances, bringing out the sense that discussing deeply personal subjects is still one of the most direct ways to reach an audience, who may be surprised to find out how much they have in common with the stories they hear and see.

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[Meghan Turbitt]

Haspiel’s comix performance of “Awful George” from his series STREET CODE took the audience deep inside the strangeness, and the horror of urban stories, reflecting his own autobiographical reaction to witnessing a make-shift attempt to save a hoard of cats that had been wilfully neglected in an apartment, only to be topped by the discovery of a mummified corpse, begging the question, “How do you deal with these kind of realities?”

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["Awful George" panel by Haspiel]

The answer from Haspiel is clearly “by expressing them and reaching out to readers”. His debut performance of a newly created Tommy Rocket comic, a spin-off from his BILLY DOGMA web comix, spoke to the twisted aspects of love, and the realities of failure and regret. Haspiel never pulls any punches in his comics, autobio or not, and these hammered home the role of authenticity in performance; getting up in front of a crowd to read your comics demands a kind of soul-baring stance that hits home for the audience.

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[Dean Haspiel]

Reverend Jen took soul baring to a whole new level by reading from her unpublished novel, memoirs of her life as a prostitute attempting to support her artistic endeavors as a painter. She’s known for her extreme honesty during readings, and her narrative plumbed the depths of tragedy and suffering possible in what seems like an everyday world. Her description of images, as well as emotions, made for a stellar performance of prose. Rev Jen’s motivation in performing, to “get stuff out” of oneself actually also served the function of engaging the audience emotionally and reminding them, perhaps, of human resilience along the way.

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[Rev Jen]

Angry Bob, true to his moniker, took on the role of voicing, like Knefel, Heller, and Turbitt, many of the things that people think, but don’t say out loud for fear of being ostracized as freakish. The truth, of course, is that they are not alone and everyone is wonder what’s considered “acceptable” to think or say in social settings. He described himself as someone “rooting through the garbage for shiny objects” like a racoon or other scavenger, and the objects he held up for inspection at NIGHT JOB were the ludicrous aspects of Reality TV, the curse of failed opportunities, and the general rage-inducing capabilities of young children, particularly in public. Angry Bob’s signature delivery, a high-octane rant that frequently addresses audience members directly, had their equally signature outcome: inspiring absolute hilarity at NIGHT JOB.

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[Angry Bob]

The evening’s performances closed with the strikingly independent tones of Two Beards One Heart which also managed to match the ambiance of the previous salon members’ presentations. Not just in musical composition, whose sounds were so original as to suggest that the “personal” can be evoked as equally in sound as in words and images, but also in lyrics, Two Beards managed to create their own singular message.

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[Two Beards One Heart]

Their first song illustrated rising angst through lyrics despite its melodic construction, while the second contrasted the poetic, upbeat aspects of love with bigger realities and banal conflicts. Burandt’s vocals, far from predictable, were particularly engaging, and contributed to a sense of individualistic expression of life’s perplexing highs and lows.

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[Jeffrey Burandt]

One of the most winning aspects of NIGHT JOB, aside from his cohesion as a salon of the personal made public, was the fact that Haspiel asked, repeatedly, if anyone else would like to perform their work, friend or stranger alike. It suggested an open-door to artists of any genre who also had something to share. The tone of the evening, celebrating unique perspectives with communal implications, was as well suited to comics as music and comedy.

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[Haspiel delivers an open invitation]

Setting comics alongside other genres in performance is not a new practice, but it’s becoming increasingly popular, perhaps because of the rise of self-publishing and internet sharing of creative work.  As comics find their footing among other artistic modes, it’s appropriate to start asking what comics have in common with other formats of expression, and what makes them particularly powerful for self-expression. NIGHT JOB did an excellent job of illustrating the point. Performance art forms are about a meeting of minds between the performer and the audience, and many genres already push the boundaries of inter-personal communication, comics included.

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Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress.








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31. 24 Hours of Women Cartoonists: Corinne Mucha

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If you’ve been following my haphazard writing at all, you know of my love for Corinne Mucha, aka the undisputed Queen of Mini-Comics. Mucha has only one longer format ‘graphic novel’ to her name (Freshman Tales of 9th Grade Obsessions  Revelations and Other Nonsense aimed more at the teen and young adult market) and whilst it’s good, her mini-comics are where her talent is really and truly on show.

She won an Ignatz award last year for her Retrofit comic, The Monkey in the Basement and Other Delusions, but I personally believe My Every Single Thought to be her best work, where she deftly explores what being a single woman means -to single and non-single women, to men, to society, the expectations and connotations it carries as a label, and combining, as always, humour and whimsy with deeper, more reflective thoughts.

Here’s a bit more on her abilities from a piece I wrote over at FPI last year:

‘Mucha packs so much into these pages, pictures brimming off the edges and words, words, everywhere (an unfashionable and dying art in comics), that you never feel you’ve read anything other than a full, dense and enriching narrative. Her shining quality is her ability to combine irreverent humour with more serious ruminations in a manner that’s honest and contemplative without being overly earnest or preachy. Her mini-comics are one of the best uses of the format I’ve come across, her narratives layered and rewarding.’

You can find her website here and buy her fantastic mini-comics here.

groupon color final 24 Hours of Women Cartoonists: Corinne Mucha

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32. 24 Hours of Women Cartoonists: Dre Grigoropol

Screen Shot 2013 03 14 at 12.48.10 PM 24 Hours of Women Cartoonists: Dre Grigoropol

Dre Grigoropol has contributed to several anthologies and ‘zines, and works as an illustrator, cartoonist, and blogger. Her blogging work can often be seen addressing feminism and pop culture topics at Bust Magazine. Her latest long term project, DEE’S DREAM (pictured above) features the bohemian life of a young poet and rocker, and in particular the myriad complications of her romantic entanglements. A print version of the first episode of DEE’S DREAM, “Cosmic Wombat House” is currently available in self-published mini form. Dre’s style is versatile but always shows an appealing homage to manga lines. Her inking is particularly striking, as she moves between varying line widths for emotional effect. Aside from producing her comics and blogging, she’s also a rather astonishing body paint artist for cosplay contests and takes part in many indie comics shows in the mid-Atlantic region.

[*Disclaimer: you might well see Grigoropol's occasional reports about indie comix events featured right here on the Beat!]



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33. 24 Hours of Women Cartoonists: Jane Mai

j 24 Hours of Women Cartoonists: Jane Mai

Ah, Jane Mai, she who I am a little bit in love with. I think a lot of people were a little surprised by Mai’s first book release, Sunday In The Park With Boys, from Koyama Press late last year: finding the subject matter of mental quicksand, psychological cages and depression was largely at odds with the work she had produced til date. Yes, her comics can be cute and culturally referential, but that’s Mai’s forte: she can go from whimsy and rainbows to stuff that’s atmospheric and unsettling, often mixing the two for acerbic and biting commentary.

And she doesn’t do it through writing alone -compare the images above and below for example, and observe how the change in art style contributes to the feel and emotion of the narrative at hand. So yes, Mai is pretty damn talented, and while I’ll check out anything she makes, I particularly hope she produces more long form comics that continue to explore her interests and capabilities in as fruitful a manner as her current output.

Aside: I love how Mai draws on coloured backgrounds (the choice of colour usually reflects the tone of the piece)- I’m sure other artists do this too, but I associate it only with her and it’s very fitting somehow.

You can find Mai’s website here, and buy her work here.

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34. 24 Hours of Women Cartoonists: Julia Gfrorer

fab05 resized 24 Hours of Women Cartoonists: Julia Gfrorer

About a month ago, Steve asked me who my favourite comic creators were, and horrible as I am at answering on the spot questions, I did manage to provide him with one name: Julia Gfrorer. If you follow mainstream comics, your most beloved authors put out work regularly, but at indie central, you get a mini-comic or a book a year, with perhaps a few contributions to anthologies. Despite this, Gfrorer’s work is consistently excellent, featuring themes of myth, folk lore, mysticism and spirituality, coupled with her fine-lined, evocative art.

She also manages the seemingly possible: discussing sex in a way that’s interesting, sexy, varying degrees of disturbing, and all disgusting fluids at the same time: her work is never patronising or affected. Her excellent first longer length comic, Black is the Colour, is due to be published by Fantagraphics in autumn, and you can currently read it in full over at the Study Group Comics site, and hopefully that should be enough to convince you to pick up a print copy when it’s out!

Here’s a sneak peek from an upcoming interview with The Beat, where Gfrorer talks about how she ‘got into comics’:

‘When I moved to Portland in 2007, I had just made a mini called “How Life Became Unbearable,” about Saint Francis of Assisi. I took it to Pony Club Gallery to consign it, and that was how I met Dylan Williams, who was a member then. Around the same time, I was in a show at Launch Pad Gallery, and I was doodling a little comic at the opening, and Sean Christensen zeroed in on me like I had flashed the comix beacon. So those guys were my first friends in my new city, and they introduced me to their friends and encouraged me to be part of their projects, so before I knew it comics were my whole world.’

You can find her site here and buy her work here

Julia Gfrörer Black Is The Color 24 Hours of Women Cartoonists: Julia Gfrorer

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35. 24 Hours of Women Cartoonists: Andrea Tsurumi

danceparty tsurumi inorder lowres 7 425x550 24 Hours of Women Cartoonists: Andrea Tsurumi

Andrea Tsurumi is a freelance illustrator and cartoonist working on a number of platforms. She’s a Harvard graduate currently pursuing an MFA at the School of Visual Arts, but in the meantime her work has been published by Penguin Books and The New York Times. Her long work DANCE PARTY (featured above) appears on her  website, and shorter comics work YAKITORI can also be found there. She also contributes, with Keren Katz, to the site UNCANNY EATING, documenting the metamorphic and bizarre qualities of food across cultures. Recently, she’s also started blogging about comics events for THE RUMPUS. Tsurumi’s style is innovative and expansive, taking in the bizarre and grotesque while infusing them with a sense of humor. Her panel designs often break the frame and expand into full page spreads populated with active figures and mysterious vistas. She draws influence from film, pop culture, and the world of illustration and has a lot in common with a multicultural weird tales tradition in her art.



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36. 24 Hours of Women’s Cartooning: Sarah Glidden

page1 24 Hours of Womens Cartooning: Sarah Glidden

My first experience with Sarah Glidden’s work was via her debut, How To Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less (published by, of all people, DC Vertigo!). That book saw Glidden take the ‘Birthright Tour,’ an Israeli government funded initiative  traversing through Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Masada and other places, where she constantly finds a conflict between her pre-conceived notions and what she’s experiencing, and you can’t help but feel an affinity for her as she attempts to navigate knotty political and personal waters.

She has since been making political, informative comics for various online platforms- Cartoon Movement, the Jewish Quarterly and Symbolia Magazine amongst others. This is going to sound incredibly stupid, but I find it very difficult to engage with long prose non-fiction texts, so I’m glad to see the slow expansion of the same genre in comics, and so I really appreciate Glidden’s presence in comics, and her smart, thoughtful, and clear take on things.

I was very pleased to hear, then, of Drawn and Quarterly’s announcement at the beginning of this year, regarding the publishing of her second book, Rolling Blackouts (due for release in 2014), another graphic journalism work which finds Glidden following reporters in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.

You can find Glidden’s website here and buy her work here.

page3 24 Hours of Womens Cartooning: Sarah Glidden

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37. 24 Hours of Women Cartoonists: Jess Ruliffson

Photo 5 JRBethesda 091 24 Hours of Women Cartoonists: Jess Ruliffson

Jess Ruliffson is an illustrator and non-fiction graphic novelist, increasingly wearing the hat of a comics-medium journalist. She’s working on a graphic novel based on interviews with veterans of the war in Iraq and conflicts in Afghanistan for the Joe Bonham Project, giving wounded vets a chance to tell their own stories of trauma and resilience (as seen above). Ruliffson took part in the Atlantic Center for the Arts Residency in October 2012 and became one of the founding members of Studio YOLO, a confederacy of artists who pose monthly comics-drawing challenges. Her art work is heavily based on realism in line-drawing, but also possesses a unique stillness and reflective quality suited to personal narratives, either her own or drawn from shared stories. You can view her ongoing work at both her website and blogspot.



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38. You should buy this: Farel Dalrymple’s It Will All Hurt

Tweet I’ll hold my hands up and admit I’m not a digital reader at all- there are a few web-comics which I love and keep up with and that’s it. I’ve tried reading comics on an e-reader but as idealistic and romanticised and dinosaurish as it may sound, the experience is simply too impersonal for [...]

4 Comments on You should buy this: Farel Dalrymple’s It Will All Hurt, last added: 2/28/2013
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39. New Autoptic comics and art event announces Jamie Hernandez as guest star

Tweet It’s all still a bit cloak and dagger (and very early days), but there’s a new and upcoming  event in Minneapolis this August. Cooked up by Zak Sally, Anders Nilsen, Tom Kaczynski (all of whom are currently faculty members at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design), local publishers 2D Cloud, TalkWeird Press, Grimalkin press [...]

0 Comments on New Autoptic comics and art event announces Jamie Hernandez as guest star as of 2/19/2013 8:11:00 AM
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40. You Can Never Be Me: Bat-tales from Patrick Kyle

TweetYou Can Never Be Me by Patrick Kyle There’s a meme (as I believe they’re called) that I see cropping up fairly regularly in my forays of Internet yonder. Here, allow me to show you: Batman is a seductive fellow, isn’t he? Fetishes aside, one of the main appeals of the character is that, theoretically, anybody [...]

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41. Show the love: Third Annual Mini-Comics Day

Tweet I’m a HUGE mini-comics fan; I think they encapsulate the potential and diversity of the medium perfectly in the way in which they combine storytelling, art, and innovation with accessibility and a do-it-yourself attitude. Its currently a very good time to be fond of the floppy- the format has been experiencing somewhat of a revival in the past [...]

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42. Karagoz: a visual smorgasbord of fun


Contributors: Thomas WellmannNadine RedlichWarwick Johnson Cadwell,  Olaf AlbersMax FiedlerRita FürstenauLompMichael MeierLisa Röper and Andreas Schuster.

karagoz Karagoz: a visual smorgasbord of fun

I’m delighted comics anthology Karagoz is finally available online  for everybody to buy. It’s an anthology I enjoyed immensely after picking it up at Thought Bubble last year from contributor Warwick Johnson Cadwell’s table, having been instantly drawn by that great cover; a quick flick through being enough to establish this was something worth buying. Karagoz is, above else, simply a  visual smorgasbord and a really fun read. And not enough comics are fun- either they’re busy trying to propagate certain messages or addressing specific issues or being experimental. Let’s face it- it’s not the easiest thing to combine fun with more challenging material.

Which makes it refreshing to read something absorbing and light. The quality of illustration on display here is a sky-high stand-out point, from Nadine Redlich’s covers to Rita Furstenau’s 4 page mythic folk-tale and wonderfully detailed endpapers, to Max Fiedler’s dreamscapes, to Thomas Wellman’s energetic centre-fold ‘Warzards’ spread. There’s so much to take in in these vistas, something going on in every corner, each individual character busily involved in his own shenanigans.

IMG 00021 Karagoz: a visual smorgasbord of fun

The comics are pretty good, too. A favourite is Meier’s unnerving ‘Michael’ contemplates the future evolution of the android after David in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Meier hones in on the science fiction trope of what it means to be human, and the inevitable manner in which artificial intelligence prove themselves to be so by mirroring the worst of us: Michael has been programmed to consume and want without ever feeling fulfilled.

IMG 00011 Karagoz: a visual smorgasbord of fun

Karagoz is pretty much a humour anthology, and Lomp’s Golge and Schuster’s  Koala Adventures are both similarly amusing in tone: Golge begins with an ominous Galactus-esqe destroyer in the starry night sky but proves to be something else, while Schuster’s shorts see his cute slacker Koala engage in various non-tasks. Cadwell’s Black Imps vignette is imbued with his signature frenetic lines and style and an oozing cool attitude\.

There is the odd damp squib- Lisa Roper’s Before and After flet out of place, and Olaf Alber’s Kontakwano a little too zany in execution, though his cartooning is fantastic. The length of the stories is kept short, and is interpolated with the double page illustration spreads which keeps things interesting and the pages aturning, never allowing for boredom. Overall, Karagoz is a gem of an anthology and one you would be remiss not to pick up.

IMG 00041 Karagoz: a visual smorgasbord of fun

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43. Small Press Expo 2013 reveals guests, poster

BET v8WCEAAHFJx Small Press Expo 2013 reveals guests, poster
Over the weekend this year’s Small Press rolled out their first poster by Jeremy Sorese, and the first hint ogf this year’s guests: Lisa Hanawalt, Gene Yang, Frank Santoro, Gary Panter and Seth.

Great guests, great poster, great show.

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44. INTERVIEW: ACTIVATEcomix at 7 Years with Fraser, Dougan, Dvorak, Kendall, Ortiz

For a webcomics platform to reach the ripe age of seven years in the daily-changing world of the internet is a remarkable accomplishment, and for it to keep producing  original, fresh, and engaging work even more of a triumph that accounts for its survival. Founded by Emmy award-winning artist and comics creator Dean Haspiel in 2006, ACTIVATEcomix, formerly known as ACT-I-VATE, is a comics collective devised to showcase original work and provide a platform for direct interaction between creators and readers. Many of its featured creators, and the works that have appeared on ACTIVATE, are award-winning, illustrating the benefits of creator-owned collective platforms, and the collective also generated a print volume, THE ACT-I-VATE PRIMER, in 2009. Upon reaching its sixth anniversary, ACTIVATE released a sixth “new wave” of material and member Simon Fraser took on the job of directing its future course.  Several current ACTIVATE members joined me for an interview to ring in its seventh anniversary, including Simon Fraser, long-time member Jim Dougan, and sixth-wave newbies Neil Dvorak, Gideon Kendall, and Cristian Ortiz. Fresh from a celebratory DARE2DRAW event featuring ACTIVATE’s seventh birthday, here’s what these ACTIVATErs have to say about their experiences working with a collective webcomics platform, what they see as the site’s biggest accomplishments, and what the future holds for this one-time experiment, now exemplar, in web publication of creator-owned comics.

Screen shot 2013 03 04 at 12.28.11 AM 300x148 INTERVIEW: ACTIVATEcomix at 7 Years with Fraser, Dougan, Dvorak, Kendall, Ortiz

Hannah Means-Shannon: What motivated you to publish your work on ACTIVATEcomix?

Simon Fraser: Primarily exposure, but a certain kind of exposure. I think that my work looks better in context with the variety and quality of the other work on ACTIVATEcomix. I like the eclectic world-view of the collective. Part of my initial desire to be a part of ACTIVATEcomix was a desire to avoid being pigeonholed. Frankly I like hanging out with these people, I love their work and I feel that being in a group like this ups my game and keeps me from getting complacent.

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[Simon Fraser, photo by Seth Kushner]

Jim Dougan:  It’s always great to find a larger audience and to me ACTIVATE was always the cool place to post webcomics. Not only because there was a lot of really excellent work posted there from creators I liked and respected, but there was also a culture of mutual support and collective spirit.  When I got the invitation from Dean Haspiel and Dan Goldman, I jumped at the chance. They liked the short-form stuff I was doing at The (now defunct) Chemistry Set and challenged me to tackle something longer-form. Luckily I had something in mind, and wanted to work with Hyeondo Park more, and he was ready to do it, too.  “It” was SAM & LILAH, and here we are nearly five years later.

dougan INTERVIEW: ACTIVATEcomix at 7 Years with Fraser, Dougan, Dvorak, Kendall, Ortiz

[Jim Dougan]

Neil Dvorak: I met Simon Fraser at MoCCAFest 2012.  He just happened to be sitting next to me doing critiques at the Dare2Draw table.  Finally at the end of his incredible hours-long stint he took a look at my work and invited me to his studio in the coming weeks.  In the meantime I researched ACTIVATEcomix and was immediately drawn in by the breadth and depth of work.

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[Neil Dvorak]

Gideon Kendall: I’d seen so much good work on there over the years by artists (too many to mention them all, but special shout-outs to Mike Cavallaro and David Klein who I knew in non-comics professional capacities beforehand: Mike and I worked together as animation designers on Codename: Kids Next Door and David and I are both illustrators and we used to live in the same building) that I respect that when I had the idea for WHATZIT, ACTIVATE was the first place I thought of to present it. I also thought that the community and the format would help keep my on track towards completion of the project.

67 e78e58c8365aa5f0bfee8fd1a7eacf6b INTERVIEW: ACTIVATEcomix at 7 Years with Fraser, Dougan, Dvorak, Kendall, Ortiz

[Self Portrait by Gideon Kendall]

Cristian Ortiz: I had the chance to meet Simon at the Thought Bubble Festival in England last year and he was kind enough to invite me to join ACTIVATE. The idea of having my work among all the experienced and talented ACTIVATE creators is motivation enough to publish my work on the site.

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[Cristian Ortiz]

HM-S:  How has creating for ACTIVATEcomix influenced your production style and methods?

SF: Doing the one page a week format has forced me to learn to write episodically, rather like an old movie serial or a newspaper strip. It’s a great discipline and forces you to be really rigorous and unsentimental with your storytelling.

JD:  You’d have to ask Hyeondo Park how it affects him (on SAM & LILAH), but when it comes to writing, it means that I try to have each update of two or three pages be a meaningful story beat or narrative chunk.  So I’m not just writing for the overall scene or story arc, but for something that makes a least a little bit of sense to read in installments, but that hopefully won’t seem weird when read in a collected form.

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[SAM&LILAH by Jim Dougan and Hyeondo Park]

ND: Deadlines.  Style and methods?  Who cares…I’m so happy to get comics DONE.

GK: As a first-timer in comics, the whole thing has been a learning process. I have nothing to compare it to, but as far as illustration it’s a refreshing change from the world of print (see my other answers!)

CO: Having to publish pages every week gives me a structure to follow where I have to calculate how many pages I need to create every month to be able to keep a buffer between publishing and production.

 INTERVIEW: ACTIVATEcomix at 7 Years with Fraser, Dougan, Dvorak, Kendall, Ortiz

[THE GOLDEN CAMPAIGN by Cristian Ortiz]

HM-S: What do you think the benefits are of creating on a web platform? Do you find it intersects more with social media than print format?

SF: I think people are more likely to casually stumble across the work, which is part of my plan. I want to build an audience that’s a little wider than the 2000AD readers, who (despite being collectively a very discerning and attractive bunch of people) are a very niche, localized market.

FlyGirl Fraser 224x300 INTERVIEW: ACTIVATEcomix at 7 Years with Fraser, Dougan, Dvorak, Kendall, Ortiz

[FlyGirl art by Simon Fraser]

JD: The benefits are the immediate feedback and the ability to have multiple opportunities to interact and communicate on a regular basis.  That might also be the case with creators who are on monthly books, but that’s not usually the case for indie creators, so this is what we’ve got.

ND: The benefits for me are entirely logistical.  I.E. moving panels or characters, the undo button, and some subtle computer fx (ie motion blur or glow) make the work flow in a different way than on paper.  Not better, just different.  Yes, creating on the web makes for a smoother transition to social media.  There are less formatting steps to deal with.

hannah1 300x87 INTERVIEW: ACTIVATEcomix at 7 Years with Fraser, Dougan, Dvorak, Kendall, Ortiz

[EASY PIECES by Neil Dvorak]

GK: Again, this is my first real foray into comics so I don’t have much to compare it to, but the social media aspect has been very helpful as far as spreading the word and getting feedback. Being able to click on a link and see the work is much more immediate than having to remember the title when you’re in a comics shop. The downside obviously is that no one is paying you for your work, but hey what else is new?

67 adba3094b01f4db3f4b56b3ba5bb8844 128x300 INTERVIEW: ACTIVATEcomix at 7 Years with Fraser, Dougan, Dvorak, Kendall, Ortiz

[WHATZIT by Gideon Kendall]

CO: The benefits of online comics to me is that are easily accessible to many sorts of readers all over the web that print format can’t reach, also making it easier to share and spread, making the amount of exposure increase to a different level.


HM-S: What impact does it have on you as a creator to be part of a collective?

SF: It helps me immensely, both in getting the work done and in keeping me honest. I know I’ll get called on anything I post that is sub-par. Also knowing that people are expecting me to do the work is a huge motivator.  I have the advantage that I do tend to interact with everyone on the collective as I am kind of in the middle of it. I’d like to make more situations where we can all get to hang out together more often. It’s difficult when we all have such busy lives and are so geographically dispersed.

JD:  I enjoy the shared sense of purpose and camaraderie that comes from being a part of ACTIVATE. Even if I don’t have much in common with other ACTIVATErs, we have ACTIVATE in common.  That support really helps considering comics is something that’s done in isolation.

ND: It’s nice to have some pressure to keep the work up to snuff and get it done on time.  There are so many amazing creators on that site who are turning out world-class comics every week.

hannah2 300x181 INTERVIEW: ACTIVATEcomix at 7 Years with Fraser, Dougan, Dvorak, Kendall, Ortiz

[EASY PIECES by Neil Dvorak]

GK: It gives me a sense of pride. As a newcomer to comics it’s amazing to instantly feel like a “real” comic artist. It also is great motivation to keep getting the work done. If I was on my own, it would be a lot easier to lose the focus and the ambition that it takes to see a story through. Plus, there’s not wanting to be embarrassed in the company of such accomplished pros.

CO: It gives you a sense of belonging and makes you feel like you are part of a big family who are passionate about making comics. I want to keep on improving my craft and the quality of my work to do my part for the collective.

 INTERVIEW: ACTIVATEcomix at 7 Years with Fraser, Dougan, Dvorak, Kendall, Ortiz

[THE GOLDEN CAMPAIGN by Cristian Ortiz and Daniel Martin]

HM-S:  Does it make a difference to you to know that readers can access your comics so soon after production? Have readers played any part in shaping the direction of your work?

SF: Absolutely. I’ve made the analogy to live Jazz many times. You can feel the response to the storyline and working with that expectation, or against it, can be very exciting.

JD:  It absolutely makes a difference, and I always look forward to reading comments from our readers.  We have a couple of SAM & LILAH readers in particular who pay attention so closely that they keep me on my toes as to what’s going on and being communicated, and they like to speculate as to what will happen next, so I’m mindful of that going forward. I’m not sure they’ve influenced the direction of the story specifically, but certainly knowing someone out there is following it so closely makes you want to do your best to be very clear in your intent. Or be very -unclear- if that’s your intent.

Screen shot 2013 03 04 at 12.30.04 AM 300x225 INTERVIEW: ACTIVATEcomix at 7 Years with Fraser, Dougan, Dvorak, Kendall, Ortiz

ND: My stuff has always been web-based first.  So that immediacy isn’t novel for me.  The fact that a couple people have come out of the woodwork to email me to tell me my work helped them through a tough time really threw me for a loop.  It’s an interesting thing to continue creating when you know your work might be therapeutic for someone out there; it always is for me, but you don’t expect that.  Now that seed is in my head as I create, and it makes me want to be as honest a creator as I can be.

GK: As someone who primarily does illustration for print, where it can be months or even a year before the work is published, its really exciting to get it out there and get feedback right away. The encouraging comments definitely help me find the energy to keep going and I also had at least one instance where a critical comment led me to refine and improve a certain aspect of the story.

GK books web INTERVIEW: ACTIVATEcomix at 7 Years with Fraser, Dougan, Dvorak, Kendall, Ortiz

CO: It’s great when you publish pages and you can get instant feedback from readers making you feel inspired to carry on working on more pages and volumes. There are parts of my work that have developed and adapted to improve issues in narrative mentioned by readers and fellow creators alike.


HM-S: What projects have you produced on ACTIVATEcomix and what projects are you currently working on?

SF: My main body of work has been LILLY MACKENZIE & THE MINES OF CHARYBDIS and there are a couple of shorter pieces too. Right now I’m gearing up to start working on the sequel to LILLY, though I keep hitting problems. That can be a benefit though as I’ve had a long time to work and rework the storyline and I think it has improved immeasurably. I should be back onto this very soon (as I’ve been saying for several months now).

Otherwise I’m doing several pitches for some very diverse projects. Some very much in line with what I’ve done before (one with my NIKOLAI DANTE collaborator Robbie Morrison) and some that are radically different. Also I’ve got a sci-fi tale that’s been written by Alex DeCampi and will be published through Dark Horse that I really need to get back to.

6 ce4dc2e88e30d4e26768536d50c55b6e 300x205 INTERVIEW: ACTIVATEcomix at 7 Years with Fraser, Dougan, Dvorak, Kendall, Ortiz

[LILLY MACKENZIE by Simon Fraser]

JD:  SAM & LILAH has been, is, and will be my project at ACTIVATE for the foreseeable future.  I’ve posted comics created elsewhere on the site, but the only comic I’ve done specifically for ACTIVATE is S&L, and it’s likely to remain that way for a while.


GK: As of right now (and for the foreseeable future, because it’s so freaking’ huge) my only ACTIVATE project is WHATZIT. I do a lot of illustration work and animation design, so one epic, unwieldy, and self-indulgent graphic novel is all my sanity can maintain.

CO: I’m currently publishing GOLDEN CAMPAIGN Volume 1. I’m also working on Volume 2 at the same time to be able to publish it right after. I want to publish some small stories at some point but I think my main priority at the moment is GOLDEN CAMPAIGN.

 INTERVIEW: ACTIVATEcomix at 7 Years with Fraser, Dougan, Dvorak, Kendall, Ortiz

[THE GOLDEN CAMPAIGN by Cristian Ortiz and Daniel Martin]


HM-S: So, Simon and Jim, how does ACTIVATEcomix handle submissions? Can creators approach ACTIVATEcomix about joining the collective?

SF: They can send their proposal to me ( public@simonfraser.net ). If I like it then you’re in. We used to have a very democratic procedure for admissions, but it caused some problems so for the moment we’re a benevolent dictatorship. That could change, but nobody has gotten angry with me … yet.

JD:  Basically, people reach out to Simon. (Sorry Si!) Unless it’s a no-brainer (like an Igor Kordey or David Klein or Ellen Lindner) he’ll send around the submission to a few of us to discuss and vote “yea” or “nay”.  We are always looking for unique and compelling points of view and the comix stories that arise from them.

19 8c431aebac714a4b98dda8ae374af13c 300x225 INTERVIEW: ACTIVATEcomix at 7 Years with Fraser, Dougan, Dvorak, Kendall, Ortiz

[SAM&LILAH by Jim Dougan and Hyeondo Park]

HM-S:  What do you think ACTIVATEcomix’s biggest accomplishments are?

SF: I think we’re one of the longest lived webcomics collectives, certainly one of the biggest in terms of membership (over 50 this year) and quantity of work (nearly 100 strips). We’ve managed to maintain a really high level of quality too, not just as a webcomics group, but I think we can stand tall even among serious publishing houses.

We have published a book too, The ACT-I-VATE Primer is a beautiful thing. I’ve got a lot of books in print through 2000AD and others things, but I think I’m most proud of that one.

Activateprimer 229x300 INTERVIEW: ACTIVATEcomix at 7 Years with Fraser, Dougan, Dvorak, Kendall, Ortiz

JD:  First of all, surviving at all.  While many other webcomics have been around as long if not longer than we have, not many webcomic –collectives- have been.  I know this from experience, considering that The Chemistry Set (of which I was a co-founder) doesn’t exist anymore, not even as an online archive.  But more importantly – and part and parcel of the survival – is providing an ongoing platform for personal work.  If you look at the archive on the site (http://activatecomix.com/comix), there is a –staggering- amount of great comics there, from some very prestigious folks.  Some of it has led to greater exposure or work or publishing deals for the creator(s), but even when it hasn’t that extensive, unorthodox, diverse, and ambitious body of work is under the ACTIVATE umbrella something to be proud of.


HM-S: What’s up and coming for ACTIVATEcomix at 7 years?

SF: Well the most pressing concern is the branding discussions we’ve been having for the past 8 months or so. That is leading on to a website rebuild, in the nearer future. We’re determined to take the time we need to get it right. I’d very much like to put ACTIVATEcomix in a position where it can expand and thrive for another 7 years.

banner 300x37 INTERVIEW: ACTIVATEcomix at 7 Years with Fraser, Dougan, Dvorak, Kendall, Ortiz

JD:  More great comics!  For free! Simon is probably better positioned to discuss what’s in the pipeline, but the fact that we’ve got new LILY MACKENZIE coming is something to look forward to from my point of view, not to mention the return of Pedro Camargo, David Klein, and Ryan Roman to the ACTIVATE fold.  Add to that Ellen Lindner coming aboard with her new book THE BLACK FEATHER FALLS, and newcomers like Cristian Ortiz’s THE GOLDEN CAMPAIGN and Neil Dvorak’s EASY PIECES…there is literally more good stuff happening than I can keep up with.  And that doesn’t even include Igor Kordey and Darko Macan’s THE TEXAS KID, MY BRO, which is like my favorite comic right now.  There is as much – if not more – good stuff happening, more good comics being posted on a regular basis right now than there has been at any time in ACTIVATE’s seven-year history.  And that’s a very exciting thing! So give us a look – there’ something for everyone.

Screen shot 2013 03 04 at 12.31.00 AM 300x147 INTERVIEW: ACTIVATEcomix at 7 Years with Fraser, Dougan, Dvorak, Kendall, Ortiz

HM-S: Hearing from these ACTIVATE members has reminded me again of the working paradox that seems to exist at the heart of this collective project, a paradox between the depth of personal experiences that creators bring to the platform which renders their works so distinctive, and the respect for the medium that creates a single entity out of so many perspectives. Looking back at seven years of ACTIVATE, it’s a vast and varied panorama, and we certainly hope that as ACTIVATE grows and changes, it continues to be a touch-stone for what collective comics projects can accomplish. Thanks very much to Simon, Joe, Neil, Gideon, and Cristian, for sharing their thoughts with The Beat!

Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress.




2 Comments on INTERVIEW: ACTIVATEcomix at 7 Years with Fraser, Dougan, Dvorak, Kendall, Ortiz, last added: 3/4/2013
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45. INTERVIEW: ARCHIE’S Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

Anyone who has ever worked with Fernando Ruiz or benefitted from his teaching skills knows what a seriously impressive contributor he is to the future of comics. From his personal work as writer and artist on ARCHIE comics and a range of other freelancing projects to the intense mileage he puts in as an instructor at The Kubert School training young artists, Ruiz is all about comics. His own passion for the medium bleeds through every aspect of his life and erupts into casual conversation, whether he’s flipping through large format reproductions of the art of Wally Wood or he’s reflecting on the life of one of his personal heroes, the much-missed Joe Kubert whose presence is still felt daily at the school he founded.

IMG 3788 300x225 INTERVIEW: ARCHIES Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

[Fernando Ruiz in front of some of his ARCHIE work at the Kubert School]

I had the good fortune to make Ruiz’s acquaintance when I enrolled in some evening classes at the Kubert School and got to witness his virtuosity as a teacher first-hand. From the solid instruction in basic art techniques to student-prodded asides into the vastnesses of comics history, Ruiz displayed his trademark versatility in all aspects of the medium. Delving into his portfolio, particularly, is bound to prompt stunned silence as his sketches vault between styles and genres with a flexibility that seems almost impossible. If it weren’t for his engaging demeanor and unassuming attitude, his students would probably slink away quietly, intimidated by his abilities as an artist. The two sides of his life, private work and public teaching, are clearly driven by an overwhelming commitment to comics, matched only by his work ethic. I knew it wouldn’t be the easiest thing to get Ruiz to talk about his life and work, since he’s a modest person, but thankfully he agreed to field a few questions for us at The Beat.

IMG 3782 225x300 INTERVIEW: ARCHIES Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

Hannah Means-Shannon:  I know that you attended the Kubert School and now teach there. What courses do you teach and how long have you been teaching?

Fernando Ruiz: I was invited to teach at the Kubert school in August of 1995. I’d graduated from the school a year earlier in 1994. I started by teaching the school’s Saturday Morning Sketch class, which is largely teaching cartooning to little kids. In 1996, I joined the full time faculty teaching during the week. Over the years, I’ve taught many different classes including Story Adaptation, Design, and Human Figure Drawing. Currently, I’m teaching Narrative Art to all of the First Year students and Basic Drawing to the Second Year students. In addition, I’m also teaching the school’s evening Basic Drawing class and after all these years, I’m still teaching that same Saturday morning class.

IMG 3776 225x300 INTERVIEW: ARCHIES Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

HM-S: What do you think are the most essential qualities for someone teaching aspiring comics artists?

FR: Obviously a certain amount of proficiency and knowledge in the area you are teaching is required. Beyond that, a teacher needs patience, flexibility and imagination in order to deal with the particular situation each student might present. Communication skills are also important. It’s not enough to be able to do what you are teaching. You have to be able to clearly explain what you are doing and verbalize it in such a way that your explanation is understandable to a beginner.

IMG 3779 225x300 INTERVIEW: ARCHIES Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

HM-S: What’s the most challenging thing about teaching aspiring comics artists?

FR: Each student is an individual and can represent a unique situation.  It can be a challenge to gauge a class’ proficiency and tailor my curriculum to my students’ needs.

LWA16 228x300 INTERVIEW: ARCHIES Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

HM-S:  What projects are you working on as an artist currently? What projects are you most excited about right now?

FR: Currently, I am penciling the LIFE WITH ARCHIE magazine for Archie Comics. This is a fun project in which Archie and his friends are adults and Archie is married to Veronica. The stories are serialized in a soap opera-like style and written on a more sophisticated level than your average ARCHIE story with more mature themes and sometimes very shocking twists. In recent issues, we’ve seen Archie’s gay friend, Kevin Keller, get married, his partner get shot, and Archie and Veronica very nearly get divorced! It’s a very crazy ride.

Recently, I took over as regular penciler for the U.S. Army’s PS Magazine. This is a magazine that has been worked on by Will Eisner, Murphy Anderson, and Joe Kubert. I’m very honored to follow them with this assignment.

In addition, I’m currently penciling a story for Image Comics’ HOAX HUNTERS. This is a short back-up story that will appear in their next trade paperback. It’s a different type of story than I usually work on so it’s a lot of fun and exciting.

Avengerspg3 191x300 INTERVIEW: ARCHIES Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

[Ruiz draws The Avengers]

HM-S: How did you decide to become an artist? What influenced you to attend the Kubert School?

FR: I’ve always enjoyed drawing, comic books, and cartoons. I read comics from a very early age and almost immediately made my own with crayons and notebook paper! As I grew older, I knew I wanted to try for a career in comics but I wasn’t sure how practical or feasible that was. I attended Caldwell College in Caldwell, NJ where I became a Fine Arts major. After graduating, though, I was still attracted to the world of comics. I really wanted to give it a shot. I learned a lot about the fundamentals of art at Caldwell, but I didn’t feel I knew enough about the technical aspect of producing commercial art suitable for reproduction. This led me to enroll at the Kubert School, the best learning institution around for comic book art.

Ultimatespg2 192x300 INTERVIEW: ARCHIES Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

[Ruiz draws The Ultimates]

HM-S: What comics have you found inspirational in your work? What creators have influenced you the most?

FR: You can’t be an artist for Archie Comics without studying the work of all the great artists who came before you. I looked at guys whose work I enjoyed as a kid. Even before I cared to look for their names in the credits, I was studying and copying the art of guys like Dan DeCarlo, Samm Schwartz, and Harry Lucey. When I first started at Archie Comics, I was very fortunate to live close enough to their offices that I could deliver my work in person. Victor Gorelick, Archie’s Editor-In-Chief and the guy who hired me right out of the Kubert School, would ask Dan DeCarlo to sit with me and go over my pages, and give me pointers on how I could improve. Dan was a kind, generous guy and I can’t state enough what a helpful experience that was.

I also learned a lot from other guys who’s work I was reading and copying from as a kid. Among these guys were Steve Ditko, George Perez, Alan Davis, Kurt Schaffenberger, and the great Curt Swan, whose Superman remains my favorite comic book character.

Novapg5 195x300 INTERVIEW: ARCHIES Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

[Ruiz draws Nova]

HM-S: What motivates you to commit your life to so many aspects of comics creation?

FR: I love comics. They’re the perfect storytelling fusion of writing and art. I’ve enjoyed comics ever since I was a kid and nothing makes me happier than being able to make a living creating them. I not only get to draw comics all day but I also get to spread my passion for the medium in my classes.

EPICS 198x300 INTERVIEW: ARCHIES Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

[Ruiz's work on EPICS]

HM-S: Are there any upcoming projects you want to spread the word about?

FR: In addition to my work on LIFE WITH ARCHIE and PS Magazine, I’m working on a self-published project called EPICS. This is an anthology comic I started with three of my fellow instructors at the Kubert School: Anthony Marques, Bob Hardin, and Fabio Redivo. We each wrote and illustrated our own original six-page story. The first issue was published in September 2012 and we will be publishing our second issue later this year. Working on a completely original story like this where it’s my own creation and I’m handling both the writing and the art makes it extremely satisfying and personal for me. I’m having a great time working on it. We got a lot of praise and attention for our first issue and we can’t wait to put out our second!

Epics2 300x179 INTERVIEW: ARCHIES Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

[Ruiz's work on EPICS]

HM-S: Where can comics fans find your work?

FR: Folks can check out my work at my website.

Epics3 300x159 INTERVIEW: ARCHIES Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

[Ruiz's work on EPICS]

HM-S:  How can readers find out more about your classes?

FR: Visit the Kubert School’s website to keep up with upcoming courses and events!

HM-S: Do you have any advice for new artists who wants to work professionally in comics?

FR: Be versatile. Learn how to draw everything in every possible way. Don’t just learn how to draw Batman because you’re a Batman fan. If those very few Batman jobs out there are taken, you’re going to have to know how to draw something else. The more you can draw, the more employable you become!

IMG 3787 225x300 INTERVIEW: ARCHIES Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

HM-S: Ruiz is a tough act to follow, but he inspires his students to approach comics with respect and a certain amount of grit when it comes to pursuing personal success. He’s an asset of the highest caliber in the classroom, and I wasn’t surprised to learn, asking around, how many comics artists I know who have studied with him and gone on to influence the direction of comics. We wish the best of luck to him on his upcoming projects, hopefully showing off that range of style that makes such an impression on students. If you happen to see him at The Kubert School open house coming up on April 20th, feel free to embarrass him by praising his work and contribution to teaching!

Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress.



2 Comments on INTERVIEW: ARCHIE’S Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School, last added: 3/7/2013
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46. Kick-Watcher: The way it should be: Lars Brown’s Penultimate Quest

tumblr inline mjb1qxPeIc1qz4rgp Kick Watcher: The way it should be: Lars Browns Penultimate Quest

Kickstarter has been a talking point in the comics industry ever since its conception, most recently and prominently for the fallout between Mark Andrew Smith and the problems he’s been having with his Sullivan Sluggers book. My experience with the platform has been limited: I use it purely as a pre-order service and since May last year (when I first began using the site), I’ve backed a total of 9 projects, 8 of which have been successfully funded. Of these 9 -all of which have been comics- I have so far received 3 books, each one at least 4 months later than initially promised.

Many more generous and patient  people than myself are happy to lend their backing to a project simply because they find it interesting or as a way to show their support for the creator, and don’t mind weathering out any delay in the release of the end product. I’m of the notion that  when you undertake an endeavour such as crowd-funding a book, you research it thoroughly, analyse any risks and generally go in to it as prepared as possible. If you give a ballpark estimate of when you hope to ship a book out, it should remain in that ballpark, major catastrophes aside. The relationship between backers and a creator is one of goodwill and trust, and any problems that occur should be relayed with honesty and open-ness.

lars1 Kick Watcher: The way it should be: Lars Browns Penultimate Quest

Which is all to say I’m now even choosier when selecting projects I’d like to see realised. With that in mind, I’m pointing you in the direction of Lars Brown’s excellent-looking Penultimate Quest, a simple, no-frills Kickstarter, with a book that’s complete and ready to go, and an extremely modest target of $350, which is currently galloping nicely along at $2267.  Here’s more from Brown:

This Kickstarter is to fund a small print run of my new book, Penultimate Quest book 1. My plan is to distribute it on my website, larsbrown.com, and conventions that I’m able to attend. It is 90 pages long.

I started Penultimate Quest in January 2012, at the time I conceived it as a jokey, stand alone mini comic…  later in the year I started to kick around the idea of making it into a full length story. The idea of a never-ending dungeon was tantalizing and it carried with it a special challenge of explaining its origin and placing it all in a satisfying story. With my notes in place I began work on the full story in December and now have the first part complete.

If you would like to read the comic it is all available online at my website, larsbrown.com. Thank you.’

I love the story concept and art on this and have happily pledged for a book complete with sketch. Funding ends March 22nd, with $15 getting you a copy of the book within the US, plus an additional $10 anywhere else in the world (which is very reasonable when taking into account the shipping hike. I’m slightly obsessed with the increase in US shipping costs as it’s cutting me off from a load of comics, so I hereby reserve the right to mention it in every post from now to May).

You can back Penultimate Quest here.

lars3 Kick Watcher: The way it should be: Lars Browns Penultimate Quest

lars2 Kick Watcher: The way it should be: Lars Browns Penultimate Quest

2 Comments on Kick-Watcher: The way it should be: Lars Brown’s Penultimate Quest, last added: 3/13/2013
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47. Hitting Soon: Supermag by Jim Rugg

tumblr mjcuobQ8aj1qjzmkzo1 500 Hitting Soon: Supermag by Jim Rugg

Holy moly. How superb does this new Jim Rugg project from AdHouse Books look? I’d heard (or read) of its announcement here and there, but only recently got around to actually checking out the preview pages Adhouse have up on their site.  A glossy, 4-colour, magazine format book, it weighs in at a good 56 pages and is due to release in May (my birthday month- just saying).

I cannot tell you how envious I am of you citizens of the US, unaffected as you are by colossal shipping charges to our cold and quirky little island, and thus easily able to get your mitts on such fantastic stuff.  The price hikes in overseas postage has -much to my great frustration- really curbed my spending on comics from the US,  where a good deal of my favourite indie creators hail, with prices now more than double the cost of the actual book being purchased. So do me a favour and buy this so I can live vicariously through you- and because by all accounts, it seems bloody fantastic.

Here’s a little snippet on exactly what it’s all about (sort of), as well as some preview pages:

‘SUPERMAG is Jim Rugg’s latest print project… a glossy, magazine-format collection of “narrative collapse.” It showcases his interests in genre, irreverent humor, graphic design, drawing, and typography. SUPERMAG features new work as well as collecting the best of his recent anthology contributions.’

I’ll just be in the corner plotting the violent demise of whoever’s in charge of the US postal system.

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smag Hitting Soon: Supermag by Jim Rugg

 Hitting Soon: Supermag by Jim Rugg

smag2 Hitting Soon: Supermag by Jim Rugg

smag3 Hitting Soon: Supermag by Jim Rugg

5 Comments on Hitting Soon: Supermag by Jim Rugg, last added: 3/14/2013
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48. MooCCA Festival Announces Programming

201303141803 tm MooCCA Festival Announces Programming
Programming has been announced for this year’s MoCCA Festival, to beheld May 4-5 in NYC. Tickets can be purchased at the above link the poster by Michael DeForge has been unveiled, all systems are go.

As you can see from the below, the theme this year is “Art.”

Executive Director Anelle Miller says, “We are thrilled to offer two full days of discussion and learning to festival attendees and exhibitors. We have designed this year’s programming to be focused on the artists and their work and are honored to have so many talented and inspiring individuals involved.”
In addition to formal programming, we will also offer Table Talks on Saturday and Sunday in the Moving Image Lounge. Table Talks will feature special guests including Brendan Leach, Tim Paul, Lucy Knisley and artists from SelfMadeHero leading casual discussions and presentations.

2013 MoCCA Arts Festival Programming
Saturday, April 6
11:30 – 12:30
Art As Passion: Celebrating the spirit of comics through observation and reportage
Moderated by Dan Nadel with special guests Bob Fingerman, Miriam Katin and Stan Mack
1:00 – 2:00
Guest of Honor Bill Griffith in conversation with Paul Di Filippo
2:30 – 4:00
Art As History: Celebrating the role of counterculture comic artists in NYC 
Moderated by Paul Levitz with special guests Gabrielle Bell, Jules Feiffer and Peter Kuper
4:30 – 5:30
Art As a Mission: Society of Illustrators/MoCCA: Who we are, what we do, and how we do it.
Moderated by Anelle Miller and Peter de Seve with special guests Nora Krug, Arnold Roth and J.J. Sedelmaier
Sunday, April 7
11:30 – 12:30
Art As Profession: Creating, promoting, and making money in comics
Moderated by Heidi McDonald with special guests
1:00 – 2:00
Guest of Honor Jillian Tamaki in conversation with Ryan Sands 
2:30 – 4:00
Art on the Edge: Celebrating current creative innovation in comics
Moderated by Leon Avelino with special guests Zach Hazard, Annie Koyama and Mickey Z
4:30 – 5:30
Art in Motion: Celebrating the comics connection to animation
Moderated by Bill Plympton with special guests Signe Baumane and Joy and Noelle Vaccese 

PS: i do know who some of my special guests are on my panel — just couldn’t get them confirmed in time. You’ll read about it here when I can confirm!

1 Comments on MooCCA Festival Announces Programming, last added: 3/15/2013
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Photocomix are strange creatures. They look like a hybrid of a photography medium and a comics format, and when you spot them in the wild you’re never sure whether they arose as some part of a natural evolutionary process in art or if they were the result of some kind of misguided experiment, maybe even one gone wrong. That reaction’s been shaped by encountering low-quality work with vague pretensions at humor, or perhaps offering some behind the scenes reveals about the comics making process. Frozen, melodramatic poses and cheesy dialogue are par for the course. And so, if a reader spots photocomix roaming free online or in a shop, they approach with caution and refuse to get their hopes up regarding quality.


Then there’s FORCEFIELD FOTOCOMIX, which makes you feel guilty for all of that instinctual caution and pre-emptive wariness. It gives you what no one really dares expect or demand from photocomix, a team of seriously talented individuals on a mission to exploit the full potential of the medium. To do this, they decide to spin this collection of comics into a number of genres, covering all the bases and it’s as if they are illustrating future directions for photocomix.

The man behind the camera, someone whose work has defined “serious” photography of the cultural zeitgeist in the past decade and then some, is Seth Kushner, the co-creator of the celebration of comics tradition LEAPING TALL BUILDINGS with Christopher Irving. Kushner’s photo portraits of comics creators in LEAPING TALL BUILDINGS have garnered so much attention that they’ve been scavenged by internet sites repeatedly and Neil Gaiman even chose to use Kushner’s portrait of him as his new dust-jacket image. He’s been working on photocomix for some time now, creating a CulturePOP series for the digital arts salon TRIP CITY, profiling real lives in comics format from author Jonathan Ames to adult film star Stoya, but FORCEFIELD is a departure into the realm of total composition in fictional realities.

seth kushner 211x300 REVIEW: Shoot This, FORCEFIELD FOTOCOMIX, #.01

During an informal conversation at Hang Dai Studios, where Kushner keeps a tidy computer work station flanked by a few vinyl and action figures, he revealed some of the process behind his striking cover to FORCE FIELD. He staged a full-on photo-shoot to capture the images in his mind by engaging actress Zoe Sloan, as well as a costume designer and a makeup artist, to create a Barbarella homage fused with a direct design reference to a Jim Steranko cover of BLADE RUNNER from Marvel Comics. The Steranko cover, which uses multiple color reduplications of the hero pointing a gun, inspired Kushner to pose Sloan holding, instead, a Super 8 camera in retro style. The metaphor’s impressive: Kushner’s camera is a loaded weapon at the center of the strange narratives contained in FORCEFIELD, capable of directing the reader’s experience, and by using a Super 8 video camera rather than simply a camera, he’s suggesting the role of storytelling.

blade1 199x300 REVIEW: Shoot This, FORCEFIELD FOTOCOMIX, #.01

Kushner’s increasingly open these days to revealing the process behind his work to generate enthusiasm for the forms themselves and encourage others to experiment, as evinced by his recent contribution to TRIP CITY, a blow-by-blow narrative of the steps by which the first comic in the collection, “The Hall of Just Us”, called “Anatomy of a Photocomic”. The story, co-scripted by Emmy Award winning artist Dean Haspiel, led to its own formal photoshoot at the recently hurricane decimated by increasingly resilient Sunny’s Bar in Red Hook. Kushner and Haspiel set about “casting the roles, as we would for a film”, says Kushner, and the co-creators drafted full layouts for the comic before shooting, giving them a “map to follow”.


They created the comic shot for shot, a tale of three “miscreants”, superheroes in a bar chasing a super-powered lady’s attentions, “The Tarot”. After the shoot, time-consuming photo-shopping and comics construction added text, word balloons, and special effects. But all of this description only hints at the visual impact of “The Hall of Just Us”. It’s all about mood, created from strongly color-themed lighting (the pink, blue, and yellow of the cover’s design), and about the off-beat simple hero costumes straight off of Mego action figures or the BATMAN television show of the ‘60’s.


While the heroes posture and ratchet up the bombast, The Tarot figure, portrayed by model and artist Katelan Foisy, brings an eerie presence and substance to the narrative. She can see the future “sometimes”  and sees the other heroes as Tarot figures, commenting “There’s the path you can take or the road you can make”, but she’s really calmly waiting for her “date” known as Señor Amore, portrayed by Haspiel. This is certainly the “romance” genre promised by the cover as one narrative alternative, but it leaves room for reader-interpretation. Superheroes with super powers are still hanging out in a bar, looking for love, for one thing.


“Spiders Everywhere” provides the “horror” also promised by the cover, and again homage to genre comics and films is evident. The narrative and premises are simple- horrific waves of spiders taking over the world, but Kushner plays to the strengths of the photocomix medium by conveying frantic movements and moments of psychological realization in cinematic style.

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“Understanding Photocomix”, a visual walk through Kushner’s history with photography and photocomix, which first appeared in American Photo Magazine, supplies the metadata on the very form in which its composed. It also forms a clever narrative bridge between the first chapters of FORCEFIELD and its follow up chapter COMPLEX, by explaining Kushner’s increasing drive to push the boundaries of photocomix in a “full fictionalized graphic novel” that he’d “direct like a movie using actors and locations”. In many ways, FORCEFIELD is the herald of that process, and it’s Volume number “.01” suggests that it’s a forerunner of bigger things to come.


The story COMPLEX: “Luv_Underscores_U”, kicking off Kushner’s work on his dream project of the COMPLEX graphic novel, first appeared in Jimmy Palmiotti’s CREATOR OWNED HEROES #7 alongside Kushner and Irving’s ongoing profiles of indie comics creators (a follow-up project to LEAPING TALL BUILDINGS). It’s a lavishly shot and designed comic which plunges into science-fiction BLADE RUNNER style, another link to FORCEFIELD’s cover image. It constructs multiple virtual realities visually with ethereal attention to detail and emphasizes a governing psychological perspective, a central character keeping all these virtual worlds in motion for the reader. This isn’t far from the role of the camera itself seeming to direct the reader, perhaps FORCEFIELD’s hypothetical Super 8 on the cover itself.


The final chapter of FORCEFIELD, a never before published noir tale, “The Perfect Woman” appears in uncharacteristic emphasis on black and white tones, with hints of color. Kushner’s photography is known for its psychedelic presentation of color through light effects, but also for his more sepulchral, moody hues in portraiture. Here he does with black what he often does with a solid color, making it a rich compositional basis into which he incises featured characters and settings. Like a compelling dime store novel rich with noir tropes, the story pursues an elusive lady in a cityscape from the visual perspective of a narrator. Kushner’s locations for this shoot were clearly exacting, capturing a city of the 1930’s complete with architectural detail. But the reader should have expected that this is a collection of stories with an expicit BLADE RUNNER homage and technology and perception may play as strong a role as the romance of pursuit.This is the “mystery” genre, completing the triad of color themes and pulp homage.


To add to the total design package that is FORCEFIELD FOTOCOMIX, it’s also presented in slick prestige magazine format with card covers, suggesting that photocomix can find their own effective dimensions for publication, in this case somewhere between a traditional comic and a traditional large-format photobook. But the format also speaks to Kushner’s consistent, passionate attention to detail throughout the collection which seems to constantly remind the reader of his fundamental belief in the art behind the form. The photocomix in FORCEFIELD are visually riveting, one might even say mind-altering, but the stories are also expansive, creating strange pocket universes with their own sets of rules and assumptions. Exploring them is part of the intrigue. Seeing FORCEFIELD in the wild is bound to make an impact on our assumptions about what photocomix have been, and more importantly, what they can be as a narrative medium in their own right. Kushner was inspired by comics, photography, and films to launch this project.  In the future, creators might well be saying that they were inspired by FORCEFIELD to take photocomix in equally surprising and mesmerizing directions.

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[Kushner answers, "What's the coolest item in your collection?" for Hanzarai.com]

FORCEFIELD FOTOCOMIX Vol.01 will be available for physical sale for the first time at the upcoming Asbury Park Comic Con March 30th, but the limited edition is already available for order through Kushner’s etsy shop.


Title: Seth Kushner’s FORCEFIELD FOTOCOMIX Vol.01/Publisher: Self-Published/Creative Team: Photographer, Seth Kushner/ Design, Seth Kushner and Dean Haspiel/ Writers, Seth Kushner, Dean Haspiel, Chris Miskiewicz/ Edits by Dean Haspiel


Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress.



2 Comments on REVIEW: ‘Shoot This’, FORCEFIELD FOTOCOMIX, #.01, last added: 3/25/2013
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50. MEGA-INTERVIEW: Cliff Galbraith on the Meteoric Rise of the Asbury Park Comicon

If you’ve been following the history of the Asbury Park Comicon, which opened only a year ago in March of 2012, you know it’s been a strange, yet rather astonishing ride, but imagine how much stranger it must be for founder and indie comics creator Cliff Galbraith. What started in a bowling alley turned music venue and local hangout, Asbury Lanes, has become a major testament to demand for Comic Cons in New Jersey, and also a statement about the desires and tastes of con-goers who have relished the indie vibe of Galbraith’s brainchild. After a highly successful second Con in September of 2012, Galbraith announced that the Con would move to the much larger and even more historic venue of Asbury Park Convention Hall for its third event on March 30th 2013.

Then Superstorm Sandy struck, devastating the seaside town of Asbury Park, leaving the future of the Con in question. Against some difficult odds, the Con forged ahead, and Galbraith faced another kind of storm- media frenzy- over the upcoming Con. It’s fair to say that his phone has been ringing off the hook as local press as well as The New York Times have been trying to get the scoop on what looks to be a growing New Jersey institution as Asbury Park Comicon nears its biggest event yet. Dozens of prominent guests will be flanking this full-blown gala of a Con, and the Con will also be featuring panels and contests. Galbraith hasn’t had a moment’s rest since all this started more than a year ago, and he finished up several other interviews just in time to answer some questions about all this Con madness, and how it fits into his own life, for The Beat.

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Hannah Means-Shannon: Can you remember the moment when the idea for starting a Comic Con in New Jersey first occurred to you? How wild did the idea seem at the time?

Cliff Galbraith: Maybe I’ve always wanted to run my own con. I’ve been to enough of them over the last few decades. A lot of them were pretty shabby. Customer service was pretty awful. I’ve been to cons where the promoter never came around and so much as said hello or how’s it going. Some were downright rude or deceitful.

On a Sunday in the summer of 2011, I stopped into the bowling alley/rock club Asbury Lanes — they were having a little record fair in there. I knew a few of my friends would be there selling and buying records or drinking beers so I figured I’d get away from my drawing table for the afternoon and see what was happening. My friend and neighbor Robert Bruce was selling an assortment of rare rock and jazz records and some underground comix. I remember looking at someone rooting through a white box of records, and I turned to Rob and I said “Where else have I seen somebody doing that? Reminds me of people at a comic convention digging through long boxes.” We laughed, but I walked around a bit and I kept thinking about it. If they could sell records in this place, why not comics? My friend Jenn Hampton was the manager, so I asked her if we could have a comic con at the Lanes. Nine months later we had the first Asbury Park Comicon.

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HM-S: What’s the strangest task you’ve ever had to do in order to get a Con running or keeping it on track?

CG: Partner with Rob Bruce! We’re friends, but business-wise we’re been very independent, lone wolves. But it’s been a great experience and there’s absolutely no way I could’ve done all of this or come up with all the solutions on my own. It’s been Cliff and Rob’s Excellent Adventure.

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[Rob Bruce and Cliff Galbraith]

HM-S: Why Asbury as a location for the Con? 

CG: People launch cons in New Jersey all the time. Some have been going on for years, but they don’t grow. I think the secret ingredient in throwing a Con is location — pick a fun destination. That’s really what set San Diego up for success early on. Who didn’t want to go somewhere with beautiful weather with plenty of bars, restaurants, hotels, a beach? That’s enticing.

So there needs to be something other than the Con once you walk outside. That’s my standard. I don’t want to go to some Con near an airport or far away from everything. I don’t want to go to some little hotel hermetically sealed in away from the world. Lots of Cons are downright depressing. They have no personality. Just putting a bunch of artists and dealers in a room and charging admission doesn’t make it fun.

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[The Asbury Park Boardwalk at dusk]

HM-S: What were reactions like to the first Con at Asbury Lanes?
CG: Everyone had a great time. Most people sold lots of books. I was stunned. I just wanted to put on a little event and not screw up, just have a fun day. But the venue was a real hit. The exhibitors who’d never been to Asbury Park, who’d never been to Asbury Lanes fell in love with it. I’m spoiled, the Lanes are part of my world, but it’s really a cool old place. And there’s a bar. We played old punk tunes and Serge Gainsbourg, Nelson Riddle, soul, and stoner rock. It was more like a party — with comics.

HM-S: What obstacles did you face launching that first Con at the Lanes?
CG: It’s always tough at first to get someone with a name to attract fans. I think the first guy I called was Evan Dorkin. I always dug his work, and I’d known him for years — but more importantly he was someone who would get what I was trying to do. Evan and Sarah Dyer jumped right in. Then they told Steph Buscema. Jamal Igle was another old friend, so I contacted him early on. Those guys trusted me — that was important. But getting talent can be tough early on. Then there’s talent that doesn’t show up, there are flakes in this business and it just goes with the territory.

The biggest shock was that two months before our first Con, Asbury Lanes was sold. I know it sounds crazy, but I never got a written contract. I made a deal with my friend who was the manager. At one point, she didn’t know if she was going to still have a job or whether the new owners would honor our deal or want more money. It was scary, because this was our first time and if we screwed this up nobody would ever trust us again. It all worked out and it was a great day.

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[APCC at the Asbury Lanes]

HM-S: What’s your personal philosophy behind Comic Cons?
CG: Don’t be boring. Don’t be predictable. Don’t call yourself a Comic Con and fill the bill with wrestlers, actors, and other people who have nothing to do with comics. Respect and honors those who make comics, especially those who came before us. I see a lot of bullshit at cons and I just don’t get it. If somebody wants an autograph of somebody from Twilight or some guy who played a storm trooper 30 years ago — that’s their business, but it really has nothing to do with comics. It detracts and devalues comics as something that is supposed to be celebrated. My feeling is if you’re not here for the comics then shove off. Go to a horror con, go to a sci-fi con.

 HM-S: Why do you think we need Comic Cons, as a society?

CG: When my parents were kids the big thing was the circus coming to town. That’s disappeared, and now we have the Comic Con coming to town. Look at every city — there’s a con everywhere. People love it — its like Woodstock, Lollapalooza, county fair, chili cook-offs, boat shows, car shows, record fairs, film festivals, people want to get together with those who share their passion. They want to spend a day with their kids, meet new friends, make a discovery. It’s an amazing social phenomenon, and it’s in its infancy.

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HM-S: What did you grow up reading? Any favorite comics or characters?
CG: My mom grew up in a candy store in Newark, N.J., and she spent her time drawing pictures of movie stars from magazines that were on the newsstand. She also loved comics. She introduced me to Superman when I was about four years old. She also taught me to draw. She got me a subscription to SUPERBOY and I looked forward to those comics every month. Then one day when I was getting a haircut, I picked up a copy of FANTASTIC FOUR that was in the barber shop — this was around 1965. The Kirby art kind of creeped me out at first, but I was fascinated. Joe Kubert’s HAWKMAN was a favorite. Of course BATMAN. CREEPY, EERIE, FAMOUS MONSTERS and hot rod magazines with stuff by Ed Roth and George Barris. I also read a lot of science fiction — it was a pretty classic age with Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and I read Pierre Boulle’s Planet of the Apes after seeing the movie. I graduated from super heroes to MAD. Then National Lampoon. At some point I found some underground comix in a head shop in Menlo Park, N.J. — they blew my teenage mind. Then Heavy Metal Magazine and Punk Magazine completed the process of completely warping my mind.

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HM-S: What are your biggest influences as a comics creator?
CG: More of MAD than I used to acknowledge. I think it was an early influence in the way I saw a lot of stupid things in society. It was much tougher on politicians and corporations back in the 60′s and 70′s. I would try to draw like Mort Drucker when I was a kid. Kirby is an influence when I’m feeling lazy, when I think I’ve done enough — I think about the amount of work he put out in a day and I’m embarrassed. He keeps me going back to do a bit more before turning out the lights. I love Moebius. Bernie Wrightson, Richard Corben, Crumb, Rick Griffin, Jack Davis. I go back to Will Eisner when I get stuck on a drawing that’s not working — I’m still learning from looking at his drawings, I get answers from his panels. But when I created Partyasaurus, Beachasaurus, and all the Saurus characters back in the 80′s, I did some sort of R.O. Bleckman thing with the wiggly, broken lines. It was very successful, but I never revisited that style again.

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HM-S:  It’s been a winding road for you career-wise. How does Con creating fit into your life, looking back?

CG:  I came back to comics after ten years — at one point I was in really bad shape with Lyme disease, but that’s a whole other story. I started making RAT BASTARD comics again, just selling them at cons. I didn’t even go through Diamond — I just wanted to put something out and do some cons. Then I started working with my wife on UNBEARABLE, a totally different style but a lot of fun to draw. I was finally getting back into it, making comics. I had a few issues written I was drawing consistently and then this damn Asbury Park Comicon came along. The first one wasn’t too bad, but now with a much bigger venue, more guests, more exhibitors, ads, making a TV commercial, doing interviews with newspapers, and building a website, designing posters, it became a full time job. I didn’t realize it at first, but I sacrificed my art to build the Con. Which is okay, since April 1st I’m back at the drawing board and making comics again.

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HM-S: Asbury Park was pretty hard hit by Superstorm Sandy. What was your own experience of the storm like?

CG: The other day I found pictures of my wife Judie and I at Convention Hall on the balcony making silly faces trying to stand up against the wind the day before the storm. I felt embarrassed that we were joking about it and twenty-four hours later there would be so much devastation. We could’ve have known, but I couldn’t look at those pictures. The fact that Convention Hall is still standing is amazing, but it did sustain a lot of damage.

My own experience with the storm was terror. There’s three giant pine trees in my yard that I was certain would crush us in the night. I felt like the roof on our house would be torn off any minute the whole time. We had no power for two weeks. We tried to stay in our home and tough it out with no power. I could draw during daylight. We had little parties with the neighbors and pooled our resources.  After 7 or 8 days, it got too tough. It was cold. There wasn’t much to do once the sun went down.  We had to go stay with my parents. But after a few days, I felt like I should be putting Led Zeppelin posters up in the basement — in other words, I felt like I was a teenager again. My parents were great about it, but you really can’t go back and live with your parents.

We were fortunate — we got to go back to our house and it was like nothing had happened other than we had to restock our refrigerator. But only two miles east of us looked like an A-bomb had been dropped. A lot of our friends suffered from that storm. We’ll be doing several things at Asbury Park Comicon to raise money for some of the nonprofits in our area and keep the focus on Sandy victims.

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[The Asbury Convention Hall, site of APCC 2013]

HM-S: Were you afraid that damage from Superstorm Sandy might put the kaibosh on Asbury Park Comicon this year?

CG: It actually did. The building was going to be closed down by the city or something. We were told we needed to start thinking about an alternate site. It got pretty bleak. We looked into moving the con to Monmouth Racetrack, or one of the schools in Red Bank. We were desperate.  And then I got a call late one night and they told me we were back in Convention Hall.

HM-S: What’s going on with Asbury Convention Hall? I hear it may not host events in the future after May.

CG: It’s an old building. It’s taken a beating. It had issues before the storm. So now it’s just better to shut down completely and get everything done once and for all. May 1st, it will be shuttered. We may be one of the last events there. This is a big thing for us to throw a con there — we grew up walking through the Grand Arcade from the boardwalk. I saw The Clash there, boxing, roller derby. To see our event on that marquee is like a dream come true — and it almost didn’t happen.

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[Asbury Park Press covers COMIC BOOK MEN and Galbraith's upcoming Con]

HM-S: What’s up for Asbury Con in the future? Is it going to become an even bigger Jersey Con?

CG: We’ll know in a few weeks what the renovation schedule is for Convention Hall. We’d like to announce the dates for 2014 at this the con next week, but I don’t know if that’s quite possible by March 30th. But we’d like to move to late April and do a two day Con. The Berkley Hotel has a series of ballrooms — it’s like The Shining in there. I spoke to them last week. I’d like to keep this show in Asbury Park. Again, it’s the location that really makes a Con special. We’re planning on including more venues, galleries, etc. in the Con. Maybe a cosplay parade on the boardwalk. Put some of the bigger panels in the Paramount Theater.

We also have another big Con in the works for June 2014, but we haven’t finalized the date or exact venue. We’ve floated the ideas with a few comic industry people and we’ve gotten good feedback. The location will surprise a lot of people at first, but it makes sense geographically.

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[Poster art for APCC#2 in 2012]

HM-S:  What changes had to be made in the planning process of the con to move it from Asbury Lanes to the Convention Hall this time?
CG: Besides the amount of time Rob and I had to put into it, I’d say the next thing would be the amount of money it takes to launch an event this size. People have no idea what goes into a show like this. Now we’re into things like insurance, security, lighting, sound systems, putting guests in hotels, meals, travel, advertising — the expenses pile up quickly. This is no longer a fun little get-together at the Asbury Lanes with some comics and a few beers, this is a serious business venture.

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[Memorable image from APCC #2 in 2012 with Evan Dorkin, Cliff Galbraith, Dean Haspiel, and Larry Hama]

The most important thing I’ve learned about running a show this size is we can’t do it on our own. We had a lot of help. Guys like Danny Fingeroth, Dean Haspiel, Seth Kushner, Chris Irving, Mark Mazz, Dave Ryan, all got us guests that we never would’ve gotten on our own. Eric Grissom built us a great website. Stu Wexler made a TV commercial — and nobody asked for anything in return. Mike [Zapcic] and Ming [Chen] from Comic Book Men have been promoting us for months on their podcast. The people who run Convention Hall have been amazing. They all just want us to succeed — we’ve got some great friends in our corner. We’ve also got some great guests: Al Jaffee, Herb Trimpe, John Holmstrom, Bob Camp, Don McGregor, Jamal Igle, Jay Lynch, Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, Mark Morales, Stephanie Buscema, and Batman producer Michael Uslan. Then there’s a whole indie crew like Box Brown, Josh Bayer, Mike Dawson, Steve Mannion, and lots of others.

I’m really fortunate to be able to do this. To have gotten my health back, to be making comics again and to put on events with so many remarkable people. Sure it’s a lot of work, but I’m having the time of my life!

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HM-S: Cliff, I don’t know how you found the time to give us such a detailed insight into your own personal journey envisoning the Asbury Park Comicon with only a few days to go until the biggest APCC yet. But we appreciate your willingness to talk about it so openly and thanks for bringing a Con of this caliber to New Jersey. 

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Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress.







1 Comments on MEGA-INTERVIEW: Cliff Galbraith on the Meteoric Rise of the Asbury Park Comicon, last added: 3/26/2013
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