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1. (Preview) Boruto: Naruto the Movie Manga are you a True Fan?

With the incredibly popular manga and anime Naruto coming to an end, (true) fans are being treated to a brand new one-shot featuring Boruto, the son of the titular character in the last series in manga form. With Naruto fulfilling his dreams and becoming the seventh Hokage (the strongest ninja in the Hidden Leaf village,) the […]

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2. EXCLUSIVE Preview: DC’s Gotham by Midnight Annual #1

This Wednesday, July 29th, DC’s Gotham by Midnight Annual #1 will hit store shelves.  This title, written by Ray Fawkes with art by Christian Duce Fernandez, promises to take readers on “a tale of love and vengeance in this centuries-old mystery” featuring the Gentleman Ghost.   The Comics Beat has an exclusive preview.    

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3. Nice Art: Archie #2 Preview: A Burger for Little Jughead

The first issue of Archie rang triumphant in the comic book space with the creative team of Fiona Staples and Mark Waid delivering something akin to an earnest take on a beloved American icon. Archie Andrews is everything but traditional himself nowadays that he’s clean cut and and an earnest comic book lead. There’s no grit on […]

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4. SDCC ’15: We talk cape snaps, controversy and cons with the Batgirl of Burnside team

At SDCC '15 I talked with the Burnside Batgirl crew about their creative origins, how the look that launched a thousand cosplays came to be, how to handle creative criticism, and their earliest con experiences.

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5. More details on Doctor Who Comics Day: new website and variant covers

We’re less than a month away from the second annual Doctor Who Comics Day on August 15th, and if our SDCC exclusive details on Paul Cornell‘s four Doctor series (not to mention the book’s first six pages) aren’t enough to get you vworping with excitement, check out the recent updates to the tumblr Titan has set up for the occasion. There you’ll find a trailer for the five-part crossover arc (which kicks-off in connection with the Doctor Who Comics Day celebration) featuring Doctor’s Ten through Twelve, their companions, and The War Doctor.

The four Doctor series is illustrated by Neil Edwards (Assassin’s Creed) and officially debuts on August 12th, but you’ll only get the chance to meet Doctor Who comic creators and artists if you drop by a participating store the following Saturday for Doctor Who Comics Day. The tumblr has a list of of the talent you can catch at in-store signings, as well as a peak at the local cosplayers scheduled to appear. Not enough? Most stores will also feature Doctor Who themed giveaways, contests and games.

My favorite two variants so far:

Bohemian Rhapsody inspired Forbidden Planet exclusive cover from Joshua Cassara And Luis Guerrero:

queendoctors

*and*

This lovely nod to the season five episode “Vincent and the Doctor” from David Carr for Twilight Comics:

doctorpainting

 

1 Comments on More details on Doctor Who Comics Day: new website and variant covers, last added: 7/26/2015
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6. In Defense of the Little Guy: Three Big Reasons Why You Should Go See Ant-Man

Last weekend, the Paul Rudd led Ant-Man flick took home $58 million, shy of parent company Disney’s estimates of $60-65 million.  This was enough to give it the number one slot that weekend,, but it also gives the insect-inspired hero film the dubious honor of having the second worst opening of any of the MCU movies, beating out only 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, which actually had a higher per-screen average than Ant-Man on its opening weekend.

Marvel's Ant-Man..Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) ..Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal..? Marvel 2014

Audiences aren’t very interested, and frankly, that’s quite understandable.  The film has been riddled with production issues, the most prominent of which has been the departure of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Cornetto Triology director Edgar Wright.  Known for his outstandingly witty scriptwriting ability and technically dynamic approach to directing, many including myself were excited to see Wright take on a Marvel property and make it his own.  Many turned against Ant-Man when he left the project and never gave it another chance.  I was also one of those people.  Going into opening weekend, I was still bemoaning the loss of the visionary auteur, but I went to see Ant-Man anyways.

To my surprise, Ant-Man didn’t suck.  More than that, the movie was really, really good.  Most importantly, the picture is emblematic of what Marvel films should be in several important ways.   Thus, I’m here to ask you to give this movie a second chance like I did.  I want you to fall in love with Ant-Man too.

[There are no Ant-Man spoilers below, but I do go into a bit of detail on the humor and some of the general story beats. I actually do spoil Marvel movies that came before Ant-Man.]


 

Ant-Man is an awesome genre-bender

Most Marvel movies are relatively simple beat-em-ups.  They’re action movies with a few nice character moments and several large, sprawling set pieces that are inevitably torn apart by a big battle.  However, the Marvel movies that stand out to me are the ones that play with genre.  Captain America: the Winter Soldier is, in my opinion, the best movie to have come out of the MCU.  It’s not just an action movie.  It’s Marvel’s take on a superpowered political thriller.  In a similar vein, Ant-Man isn’t just an action movie about a man who can shrink and control insects with his mind.  Ant-Man is a superpowered heist film in the vein of The Usual Suspects and The Town.

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The entire movie hinges around several “jobs” that Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), Luis (Michael Peña), and the rest of their gang work to pull off.  They’ve got the lookout, the brain (Lang), and even the muscle (Peña, in a hilarious running gag, knocks out anyone he punches with one swing).  The big climax centers around breaking into a highly secure vault and stealing the Yellowjacket suit, which works similarly to the Ant-Man suit, before Hank Pym’s protegee Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) can sell it to the highest bidding military organization.  The very fact that Ant-Man‘s goal isn’t just “beat up the bad guy” allows the film to do some really cool utilitarian things with Ant-Man’s powers, including short out a security system using a species of ant that conducts electricity.  You wouldn’t see that in a more straightforward film like The Avengers, where Loki’s solution to a locked door is to have a possessed Hawkeye rip out the eye of a man whose credentials are in the door’s security system.  The latter is brutal.  The former is interesting, fun, and innovative.

“Fun” and “innovative” are probably the two best words one could use to describe Ant-Man.  It’s a curious beast of a picture, stuffed between two huge Avengers movies in Age of Ultron and Civil War.  No matter what director Peyton Reed did, the film was going to feel small in comparison.  So, the Ant-Man team took the high road and embraced that smallness.  The big climactic set piece takes place in a bedroom instead of a city and yet was way more interesting and entertaining than Age of Ultron‘s final battle (Thomas the Tank Engine is a running joke, people. Please).

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The most memorable character was Peña’s powerless con Luis, whose fast-talking personality, enduring positive attitude, and strangely well-cultured background had the theater audience around me in stitches throughout the entire movie.  He stole the show, and he did it without any fancy CGI.  Ant-Man is a film where Marvel let normal people have their day in the sun.

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Now, knocks where knocks are due: Evangeline Lilly’s role as Hope Van Dyne never feels as fully realized in the film as it should have been.  According to some, her role was expanded from Wright’s original script, but her role basically amounts to her and the audience not understanding why she isn’t the character entrusted with Hank Pym’s incredible shrinking suit.  She’s better than Lang at literally everything. She’s a better fighter, an equally skilled thinker, has spent more time with the technology, and doesn’t need to be trained– which you’d think would be a big plus considering they only have a few days to steal Cross’ suit.  But nope, Pym insists on training Lang anyways, and even after you finally find out why Pym won’t let his daughter take the Ant-Man role for herself, it doesn’t really seem fair to her.

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Luckily, however, it seems like Marvel is setting Van Dyne up for a much bigger role in the MCU, so not all is lost on that front.  Plus, I don’t think the bad here outweighs the overwhelming good. Ant-Man is not the socially progressive Marvel movie people are clamoring for.  It is, however, a movie with a lot of heart, an interesting perspective that breathes new life into an old genre, and a prime argument against Marvel’s notion that more explosions = more fun.

Edgar Wright’s departure did NOT hurt the film

Before we go on, let’s just address the elephant in the room.  I love Edgar Wright.  Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is one of my favorite films and the editing in all the Cornetto Trilogy films is so inspiring that I want to be a director whenever I watch any of them.  To be clear, I majored in English and minored in Computer Science. I don’t know the first thing about directing or being anywhere near a film set.  I basically cried when I heard Wright would be making a Marvel movie and I did cry when I found out he was off of Ant-Man.

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Yet, even though Wright didn’t end up directing the formicidaphilic caper, I could feel his sticky hands all over Ant-Man.  There’s a musical gag during a fight sequence based around a Cure song. That’s Wright.  Thomas the Tank Engine is a running gag. Definitely Wright.  Peña does a bang up job relating two job tip conversations to the audience where countless different people, men and women of various shapes and sizes, all speak with his voice. That’s actually not even Wright, but the editing and comedic styles feel like his.

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Adam McKay and Paul Rudd did a great job rewriting the film while sticking to Wright and co-writer Joe Cornish’s original vision for the script, and Reed did a great job realizing that vision as director on Wright’s behalf.  Will this movie always live in the shadow of what could have been?  For better or worse, yes.  Did Marvel play bad politics with Wright?  Perhaps.  That said though, even if Wright was ultimately shorted, the Ant-Man film we got stands quite tall in spite of its production woes.  It’s a great film on its own merit, and its success could mean more like it IF we support it as an audience.  Which leads me to my final point:

Ant-Man is the kind of Marvel movie you should want to see MORE of

The Marvel train is unstoppable.  Even if Ant-Man doesn’t do well, Marvel movies are slated up until I hit my first midlife crisis in the late 2020s.  If we as viewers can’t stop this train, we should at least be able to steer it.  I don’t know about you, but I am really sick and tired of:

Drone Armies

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The Avengers: Age of Ultron

drones

The Avengers

 

Space Holes

spacehole

The Avengers

Marvel's Thor: The Dark World" Ph: Film Frame © 2013 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2013 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

Thor: the Dark World

 

Big faceless ship fights where things explode

Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy Nova Corp Starblaster ships and Ronan's Dark Aster ship Ph: Film Frame ©Marvel 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

blowup

Captain America: the Winter Soldier

 

Now, I like Marvel movies for what they are.   They’re fun pieces of action-filled entertainment that do a particularly outstanding job of developing characters that are interesting and rich despite their absurd and campy origins.  However, ever since The Avengers, Marvel has been in a size competition with itself, its directors competing to see who can make the largest-scale fight sequence or blow up the most vehicles in a half-hour span.  It’s gotten so bad that the studio collectively seems to have forgotten that the point of a movie climax is to bring the development of all characters, protagonists and antagonists, to a head, not just fuck up the world around the protagonist(s) and see how they respond.

Marvel has always had a villain problem.  No one except Tom Hiddleston’s Loki has ever felt fully realized as a character outside of their relationship to a protagonist.  However, villains like Jeff Bridges’ Obadiah Stane in Iron Man and Hugo Weaving’s Red Skull in Captain America: the First Avenger were still interesting because they had character arcs of a sort that were satisfactorily resolved by their climatic third-act battle.

Ironman

While it’s rare (and stunning) to have a film where the audience actively wants the villain to win, movies are much more affecting when you can stake a claim with both the “good side” and “bad side.” The Avengers took the third act away from its villain, Loki, and even away from  Thanos the master puppeteer, leaving our protagonists to band together against a faceless horde that we could stake no emotional claim to.  We would have felt bad seeing Loki or Thanos win in The Avengers. We would have felt cheated if the Chitauri beat the Avengers.  The same goes for Ultron’s faceless robot army in Age of Ultron, the Dark Elves in Thor: the Dark World, and inversely, the faceless N.O.V.A. Corps soldiers who died staving off Ronan the Accuser’s invasion in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Yeah, more soldiers make for bigger fights, but who cares about the size of the battle when you know who’s going to win based off plot mechanics? Who cares about the big final fight when your protagonists aren’t even actually facing the antagonists you’ve been building up for the past two hours?

Sticking your primary antagonist in an airplane FLYING AWAY from the climactic battle is a dick move, Marvel. Also the "Hulk makes the villain a ragdoll" gag is played out.

Letting your primary antagonist fly away from the climactic battle without resistance is a dick move, Marvel. Also: the “Hulk makes the villain a ragdoll” gag is played out.

Now, I’m not saying Ant-Man solves Marvel’s villain problem.  Despite Corey Stoll’s great acting, Darren Cross comes off about as two dimensional as Stane in Iron Man.  Their backstories and motivations are even somewhat similar.  That said, I like that Marvel didn’t feel the need to cover Lang and Stoll’s final battle with pointless window dressing.  The big climax was a twenty minute fight between just the two of them, and that was perfect.  It brought both their character arcs to a suitable finish and created a legitimate sense of tension throughout.  As I’ve said time and time again, the fight was also very cleverly concepted, more or less set entirely in a briefcase, a backyard, and a bedroom.  Ant-Man was a slimmer Marvel movie and it was better for it.

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I’ve heard people say that Ant-Man feels like an early phase one MCU movie, and I think that’s true.  Those older Marvel films weren’t as big as their Phase Two brethren, and instead lived and died by the merits of their stories.  I’d like to see Marvel return to that method of thinking, and I think an Ant-Man success would prove to them that I’m not alone in this.

Go see Ant-Man.  It’s hilarious, well acted, and generally clever.  Most importantly, a vote for Ant-Man is a vote for a slimmer, better Marvel movie where story comes first.

8 Comments on In Defense of the Little Guy: Three Big Reasons Why You Should Go See Ant-Man, last added: 7/27/2015
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7. Nice Art: The Espionage of Ninjak #5

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 12.38.09 PM

Ninjak has been one of the most highly anticipated releases from Valiant Entertainment to date and…spoilers…we have been loving every issue of the comic here at The Beat. Each installment of the title has been full of intrigue and wonderful ideas that serve to enrich the character of Ninjak even further than before. With someone who has had so much representation in the Valiant Universe, watching the evolution of Ninjak as a solo character was a risky gamble. We’re almost five issues into the Ninjak title as Matt Kindt, Clay Mann and Butch Guice are continuing to document the experiences of everyone’s favorite British agent. The ninja is exploring the secrets of the Shadow Seven and Ninjak’s new friend Roku (if you could call her that.) The comic is still split into two different halves with the immediate portion drawn by Mann and the other section illustrated by Guice documenting the early days of Ninjak in Ninjak: The Lost Files. Each chapter of the book has been really slowly building to the ascent of Colin King into ninja extraordinaire. If you aren’t already reading this series from Valiant, let these preview pages from Mann and Guice change your mind. Also, look at these awesome covers from Lewis Larosa, Dave Johnson, Raul Allen and Cafu!

NINJAK_005_COVER-A_LAROSA

NINJAK #5

Written by MATT KINDT

Art by CLAY MANN with BUTCH GUICE

Cover A by LEWIS LAROSA (APR151766)

Cover B by DAVE JOHNSON (APR151767)

Variant Cover by RAUL ALLEN (APR151768)

Variant Cover by CAFU (APR151769)

The final secret of the Shadow Seven exposed!

Ninjak’s mission to destroy Weaponeer and its secret cabal of shinobi masters just got a bit more complicated…since the newest leader of Weaponeer is… Ninjak himself?! Meanwhile, Roku’s gone missing, but we all know the world’s deadliest woman is at her most dangerous when she’s out of sight!

Plus: Colin King’s past comes back to haunt him in a big way as NINJAK: THE LOST FILES reveals a deadly connection to Ninjak’s present as Clay Mann (X-Men) returns with Matt Kindt (THE VALIANT, RAI) and Butch Guice (Captain America)!

$3.99 | 40 pages | T+ | On sale JULY 29

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8. Bryan Singer Plans to Make a Team Up Team Up out of X-Men and the Fantastic Four

If Fox had a house motto, it would be: “we do not sow. Now let us spit on your Quicksilver, Marvel.”

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Bryan Singer loves a few things.  Director’s Cuts, long walks on the beach, and movies centered around Time Travel, to name a few.  Now we can add crossovers to that list as well.  In an interview with Yahoo, Singer confirmed that he’s working with Fox to bring together comics’ first family with comics’ greatest (but maybe not greatest) racial allegory.  How will they meet up, you ask?

Singer says:

“It deals with time. That’s all I’m going to say.”

Of course it does.

2 Comments on Bryan Singer Plans to Make a Team Up Team Up out of X-Men and the Fantastic Four, last added: 7/24/2015
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9. Cyborg #1 (Review): Reis, Walker and Horror?

CYBORG.01.cover.v02.600-COLOR-Blue

Writer:

David Walker

Artists:

Ivan Reis

Joe Prado

The machine that gives Cyborg his powers is evolving! The only problem is that machine is his body and he has no idea what’s causing these changes!

Can an ongoing series set in the New DC world really work for Cyborg? It’s a question that Ivan Reis and David Walker tackle in the first issue of the hero’s ongoing series. When he graduated from the Teen Titans and became an MVP in the Justice League world, Victor Stone took on new life. We’re closer to seeing the hero on-screen than ever before — as one of the fabled “seven” players in the JLA, now seems as good a time as any to spend intimate time with one of the newest characters on the League.

It may require a double take from the reader, but it is worth mentioning that Cyborg recently underwent a fairly massive redesign. While it is a little sad that the previous outfit, with its machine emblem and mostly black-and-white suit, has been retired, the new one by artist Ivan Reis is both slim and sleek. It is dismaying that the only artist that may actually be able to draw this correctly is Reis, as the new outfit is one of the most complicated and effective character designs featured in the DC You.

This directly ties into what might be the greatest strength of the comic: the intensive detail in Reis’ art. This story has incredible levels of polish that really shows the nuance demanded by a character shortchanged like Victor Stone. The initial splash recognizes Cyborg’s costumes and outfits from the New 52 to now, documenting just how much change Victor Stone has gone through over the years. Reis has had defining runs in the New 52 for quite some time on titles like Justice League and Aquaman, and even previously served to simplify Cyborg’s hulking Jim Lee design in the first couple of pages of his run on Justice League. I’m glad to see the artist put such great time and detail into this comic.

David Walker, writer of acclaimed Dynamite’s series Shaft, is the writer of Cyborg #1 and is someone who seems to understand the complicated tightrope he’s walking between the original Marv Wolfman version of Cyborg and the new version of this hero, who comes with a simplified backstory courtesy of the New 52. This new Cyborg is still hung up on some of the same things that the original version was. To be honest, it’s kind of nice to see him go through some of his previous struggles again, as it’s often easier to relate to the problems that younger characters go through.

Not to worry though, this Cyborg isn’t too young… he seems to be in his 20s. We mentioned it above, but this story makes Victor Stone’s newly redesigned body into a key plot point of the series. This is refreshing, as Cyborg has had a large number of previously unexplained costume redesigns in an extremely condensed period of time.

It’s really refreshing to to see frightening horror elements in a book like Cyborg as well.  Aquaman, another book drawn by Reis contains similar elements of terror. Not only that, but this first issue of Cyborg also gives the titular man-machine a brand new supporting cast, setting the series up for the long haul.

Ultimately, the creative team on this book attempts to tackle a lot in their first issue.  They have to introduce Victor to new readers while acknowledging his condensed history for the sake of established fans.  They set up his new team of sidekicks, lay down groundwork for a completely original villain, and ensure that that villain is one that only Cyborg can face.   The road Walker and Reis have chosen to take isn’t going to be an easy one — that being said, this first issue of Cyborg is a more than confident approach to the solo exploits of Stone. Here’s to a long run to come.

1 Comments on Cyborg #1 (Review): Reis, Walker and Horror?, last added: 7/24/2015
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10. Sandman Visits the Beat Staff Pull for 7/22/15

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After powering down from Comic-Con team Beat needed a nap…or twelve. While we were away, the team continued to see visions of none-other-than Wesley Dodds, the original Sandman creeping through hallways at the Stately Beat Manor in which Team Beat takes residence. We tried to brush it off at first and stick to our legions of reviews, previews and news coming to the site. Our naps were becoming more frequent during the day, and we found certain items missing from the stash including lucrative and expensive key back issues in the collection. After an intense stake out fueled by the ideas we got from watching Ant-Man last weekend, one of our staffers managed to apprehend the vigilante and retrieve important pieces of our collection. We called the authorities, and while they were on the way Mr. Dodds turned to us and offered his staff picks for the week of 7/22/15.


Alex J.’s picks:

Archie Vs. Sharknado #1

Writer: Anthony C. Ferrante Art: Dan Parent

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It’s that time of year in Riverdale! The end of the school year. Time for beaches, barbecues, fun in the sun and… sharknados!?! That’s right, get ready as Archie and the gang brave the storm of a tornado full a sharks that riffs off the pop culture phenomenon known as Sharknado! The story unfolds as sharknados are spotted on the ‘Feast’ Coast! Our heroines have to figure out how to get back to Riverdale, where the storm is about to hit next. Soon Archie and the gang go, go, go as they battle the Sharknado-ravaged Riverdale! Who will live? Who will die? Will this take a bite out of the end-of-the-year prom? Uh… probably! The comic book action is also concurrent with the plot of Sharknado 3 and hits stands right before the film’s premiere in July on Syfy. Written by the Sharknado trilogy director Anthony C. Ferrante with Dan Parent.

Sharknado. Archie. The match made in heaven. These two characters were made for each other — or so says Wesley Dodds, as the police were on the way. He pointed that Archie and Sharknado are both sort of niche franchises that continue the reign of awesomeness supported by the publisher’s interesting choice of titles right now. Dan Parent has been an excellent creator to lend talents to Archie and Anthony C. Ferrante, Sharknado director is writing the script for the series. This is one that you shouldn’t miss this week.

Cyborg #1

Writer: David Walker Art: Ivan Reis

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The machine that gives Cyborg his powers is evolving! The only problem is that machine is his body and he has no idea what’s causing these changes!

Wesley wanted to support an old friend getting his own series set in the brand new DC Universe. He knew Cyborg as a Teen Titan and thoroughly supported him through his Justice League years. Now, it’s time for Cyborg to go off and do something different with the art of the fantastically amazing Ivan Reis and written by David Walker. Getting a creative team like for a character like this is something worth supporting at DC right now. Let’s put our money where our mouth is…if only for the stellar art of Reis and supporting his awesome costume design on Cyborg.


Kyle’s Pick:

Prez #2

Writer: Mark Russell Art: Ben Caldwell

prez 2

 

With the election in chaos and a Congress mired in corruption, Twitter sensation @corndoggirl becomes the first teenaged President of the United States!

As you might have seen last month, I deeply enjoyed the first issue of the Prez relaunch, so much so that it probably was my favorite first issue of the entire “DC You” June set of releases. While at San Diego Comic Con, Hannah and I took the opportunity to meet Ben Caldwell and pick up a copy of his equally brilliant collaboration with Shannon Wheeler: God Is Disappointed In You. In reading that, I was quite taken by the even-handedness that Russell treated the Bible with. Prez takes a very similar approach with social media culture and American politics, and the result is refreshing and, at least based on one issue, quite hilarious. Don’t let this one slip through your grasp.


Alex L.’s Pick

Power Up #1

Writer: Kate Leth Art: Matt Cummings

powerupmain (1)

It has been foretold that four noble warriors of incredible strength would be gifted with cosmic abilities at a moment of planetary alignment…which, yeah, something definitely went wrong here. Amie is a disaffected twenty something with a lot of attitude, Kevin is a washed-up athlete way past his prime, Sandy’s a mother of two teenagers, and Silas…is a goldfish. Just a normal goldfish. Are we sure we read that prophecy right?

Boom! Studios is billing this new title as Sailor Moon meets Scott Pilgrim.  As someone whose childhood crossed with both of these titles, Power Up strikes me as a WOA, a winner on arrival.  The premise is wacky and completely off-base (one of the leading characters is a magical goldfish), and Cummings’ art style, as seen above, is emotionally evocative while being adorably simple in nature.  Finally, the hilarious Kate Leth, of Kate or Die fame, has surely written a script that will have me counting stitches in a hospital bed, lamenting my lack of insurance.

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11. Interview: Marcus Muller Crowns Himself “King of the Unknown”

Marcus Muller is a comic creator and freelance artist who has worked with DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and Locust Moon Press. He’s also has worked as a concept artist for the video game industry. His latest venture is King of the Unknown, an exciting and interesting webcomic that features a fat Elvis. Currently Marcus is in the process of putting together the first graphic novel for King of the Unknown, which should be out in 2016. Marcus wears many hats on this project and works as its writer, illustrator, colorer and letterer.

The webcomic is on hiatus as Muller works on the graphic novel, getting it ready for print.  The graphic novel will be around 120 pages and Marcus still has plans to keep the webcomic going, telling shorter King of the Unknown stories. Marcus loves digital comics, but he grew up on print versions and is excited to see his series in hard copy for the first time. Marcus has been hitting all the comic cons and promoting his work. He took time from his busy schedule to talk to Comics Beat and let us know what is up.


Seth Ferranti: What is King of the Unknown about?

Marcus Muller: The short of it is that after a supernatural mishap that transforms him, fat Elvis fakes his death to become the premiere paranormal investigator for a secret government agency.  Tonally, I’ve heard people describe it as a cross between the X-Files and the Venture Bros, which I guess is a pretty fair assessment of it.  I try to have a good balance between, horror, comedy, the paranormal, and action in the comic.  I’ve always had a fascination with the paranormal and occult, so I use this comic as a vehicle to combine a lot of my interests (music, the supernatural, geeky stuff, bad conspiracy theories, etc.).  If I’m going to spend this much time on something, then I want it to be something I would be interested in reading myself, so I basically put everything into it that would make it my dream comic to work on.

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Ferranti: What role did you play in King of the Unknown‘s creation?

Muller: On King of the Unknown, other than having my buddy Andrew Carl edit the comic, and my brother help out coloring a few of the early pages, it’s all me on the comic.  I am the creator, writer, illustrator, colorist, and letterer on it.  It’s not the fastest way to do things, but it is the most affordable for me, and I have this OCD about having to do all of that stuff haha

The actual creation of the comic dates back to 2007 when my friends Amado Rodriguez and Bud Burgy were putting together an anthology focusing on mid-western creators called Muscles & Fights and asked me to contribute a story for it.  So it was in Muscles & Fights volume 2 that King of the Unknown made its debut when King fought a Skunkape in a trailer park down south. From those humble beginnings he would then appear in the third volume of Muscles & Fights before I started the webcomic in 2011.

It was those short stories in M&F though that were the genesis for the full comic, as before I even finished the first M&F comic, I had quickly developed a whole back-story and world for the King and his adventures with the unknown.  It’s at the point where I now have the whole series planned out from beginning to end in my notebooks here.

Ferranti: How long have you been working in comics and on what projects have you worked on?

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Muller: Professionally (meaning getting a paycheck for it), I’ve been working in comics since around 2006-2007.  I think it was around that time that I got some work from DC Comics Creative Services Department penciling a few comics. Since then I’ve had work published by Dark Horse Comics and Locust Moon Press on such books as Once Upon a Time Machine, and the recent Eisner nominated Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream.  I’ve also done some concept artwork for video games at High Voltage Studios.

Doing freelance art for a living I pick up a lot of odd jobs, so I’m kind of all over the place taking whatever I can get to make a buck off my art.  It ain’t easy and sleep becomes my enemy, while coffee and music become my best friends that get me through a work day.  I would love to one day make a living off of just my creator owned work, as that’s what my heart is into doing and where I feel like I have the most to offer.

Ferranti: When is the King of the Unknown graphic novel coming out?

Muller: The plan is for the first 120 page OGN to be out in 2016 with the next follow-up graphic novel the year after that.  I grew up on print comics, so that’s my preferred format for the comic, but I still plan on doing something with the website, which I’ll probably use to tell short KotU stories.  The website was doing fairly well until it went on hiatus, so I’d like to bring that back on a regular basis in some form.

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Ferranti: What comic cons have you been to recently? How do you promote your work there and how do you like the con scene?

Muller: Admittedly, self promotion and conventions aren’t my strong suit since I’d rather be chained to a table working on art with music blaring, but I tabled at C2E2 this past April where I pushed a lot of King of the Unknown merchandise, and there was a strong response to the material.  Besides KotU prints, I had a preview comic for King of the Unknown there, and of the 40 copies I brought with, I sold out of nearly all of them, and ending up going home with only about 5 copies left after the convention.  I was told by a lot of people that prints sell really well at the convention, but that wasn’t the case for me, as everyone wanted that comic.  That’s something that I was happy to see, as you’re always hearing stories that no one goes to comic conventions anymore to actually get comics.

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Also, if people reacted like that to just the short preview comic, then I can’t wait to get the full graphic novel out there and see what the response is, and get KotU out there on a larger scale.  I’m really excited about this comic, and can’t wait to get it out there in all of its full weirdness for people to see!

Ferranti: What is next for you?

Muller: Right now I’m finishing up a few side projects before I dive full tilt into the King of the Unknown OGN.  The KotU graphic novel is going to be my main project for a while, and we’ll see how that goes.  I’ll be expanding my convention presence to promote that as well, so if you find me at a convention you’ll be able to see a preview of the book there, as well as pick up some limited edition King of the Unknown merchandise.  For some non-KotU related things coming up that you can check out my work on in the immediate future, I have a Street Fighter piece in the Udon Capcom Fighting Tribute book that debuts at the San Diego Comic Con, and I’ll be doing the cover on the next Scary School book.  Like I mentioned, I’m kind of all over the place with my work, so check in and follow me on your favorite social media to see the latest project I’m working on.

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Connect with Marcus Muller on social media and check out King of the Unknown!

www.kingoftheunknown.com

www.facebook.com/KingoftheUnknown

https://twitter.com/King_of_Unknown

http://m2comics.tumblr.com/

https://instagram.com/m2comics/

www.facebook.com/m2cartoonist

1 Comments on Interview: Marcus Muller Crowns Himself “King of the Unknown”, last added: 7/22/2015
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12. MATT CHATS: Dan Berry on Podcasts, Patreon and Handmade Art

I first learned about Dan Berry due to my insatiable hunger for comics podcasts. Make It Then Tell Everybody consists of intelligent and insightful conversations with comic creators you may or may not be familiar with, each a great lesson in art, storytelling and the process of making sequential art. From Make It Then Tell Everybody, I branched out to Berry’s comics. I was impressed by the stories that felt iconic and the watercolors that showed the benefits of creating art by hand in the digital age.

Read my conversation with Dan Berry about the man’s art, podcast, Patreon and much more.

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What prompted Make It Then Tell Everybody?

In 2012 a British artist asked me to host some panel discussions at a festival. I said yes and we did two panels discussions and they went really well. Someone said, “Oh, you should podcast these!” I took his advice and in the weeks following decided to carry on.

Has it had a noticeable effect on your career?

Oh, yeah. Way more people know who I am [laughs].

What do you think of the Patreon model. Do you find it viable?

Yeah, absolutely. It’s been essential to what I’m doing. I talked about doing a Kickstarter on the podcast, which I guess is a really good model for a book, but for these enduring projects I need that slightly slower burning funding model.

I love the way you have different tiers offering the same thing. I found that really clever.

[Laughs] Well I’m basically giving it away for free. No one really gets anything. It’s really about this idea of altruism. It’s people’s own good will that I’m spending here.

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What are your general thoughts on digital art, both in terms of your own work and the work of others?

What do you mean by digital art?

Anything done on a computer. Something done on a Cintiq, for example.

Oh, I find it great. It’s absolutely great. I don’t have any problems with digital art. My background is nearly entirely digital I only came to working with ink on paper much later on. I like working traditionally because I feel I can do it faster.

I think this is a psychological thing for me rather than anything to do with the technology but I find when I’m working digitally and have the infinite safety net of the undo button I’m going to keep using it over and over again. I think my style has developed not from avoiding my mistakes but embracing them and making them part of the style. I have a very loose what I hope is a spontaneous and expressive style and I can’t get that same level of spontaneity [digitally] because I know there’s a safety net there. Whereas with traditional media forces you but also embrace them.

I don’t think there’s any artist I can think of who would lose more from working digitally than you. Your work is so natural. Do you think you could achieve anywhere near the same effect on a computer? Especially the watercolors?

Oh not the watercolors. I’ve tried a bunch of different watercolor brushes for Photoshop and it’s not the same. At all. I haven’t found anything that vaguely approximates what you do with watercolor. There’s an element of chaos that you can’t really control and I really like that. You don’t get that chaos from a computer.

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You don’t sell your comics digitally, do you?

I do a couple of PDF downloads and I think there’s stuff on ComiXology.

Oh, you do. I didn’t see any when I looked.

It was with a British publisher named Great Beast. My book Carry Me was with them and they had it on ComiXology and they recently folded shop so I think it might have gone down now.

Are you planning on putting it back up?

Yeah. I’m trying to figure out what to do with that at the moment because it’s reaching the end of its print run. It sold really well and the digital stuff seemed to pick up pretty well. I had a lot of excellent response from the ComiXology stuff. I might reissue it under my own name I might collect a bunch of things as an anthology I haven’t really decided yet.

How long is it?

24 pages, I think?

You said you’re going to work on a longer project in the near future?

Yes, I am.

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Is that an adjustment, after working on so many shorter ones?

Not really. It all feels pretty much the same at this point. My schedule doesn’t change depending on how long the project is because I don’t really take breaks between projects. So I’m just basically always working so I don’t see any difference.

You don’t get impatient?

No. I used to. I used to want it to be finished and it to be done but I think as I get older patience is one of the things I’ve managed to develop. I think patience and being able to sit down for 4 hours at a time and do one thing.

I have one final question, the one everybody hates to be asked on Make it Then Tell Everybody: where do you get your ideas from?

All over the place [laughs]. Basically I like to fill my head up with as much stuff as possible. I like to listen to nonfiction and fiction books, audiobooks in the car, I’ll read articles, I’ll talk to people I’ll try to experience as much stuff in my head because I know that the more stuff I have in my head the more ideas I’m likely to have and once I’ve had an idea I have to capture it. If I don’t capture it dribbles out my nose while I sleep and its gone forever. So it’s not so much having ideas or where they come from I think it’s taking the beginning of an idea and turning it into something that’s the difficult part. Having ideas is relatively straightforward relatively easy I don’t have any problems with that it’s finding the time to do something with it or actually doing something with it.

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Follow Dan on Twitter and Tumblr and read his comics, listen to his podcast and consume anything else he puts up for consumption.

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13. The Delcourt Round-up from Comixology: You Should be Reading!

Comixology has partnered up with Delcourt, a French publishing house to deliver comics from across the pond. The titles contain wonderful art and a sense of intrigue not usually evoked from American comics. We sifted through this week’s releases via Comixology to give readers a taste of what they can expect to see from each title.


 

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Elves #1

Writer: Jean-Luc Istin

Artist: Kyko Duarte

Colorist: Saito

Translation: Christina Cox-De Ravel

The Blue Elves of Ennlya, a small port town of Nordrenn, have been murdered!

Lanawyn, a Blue Elf, and Turin, her human ally, set out to discover who is responsible. The trail they uncover leads back to a clan of Yrlans – Northern men who hate Elves.

At the same time, Vaalann, a young Blue Elf, undergoes a dangerous test, that of the Water of the Senses. Her future, as divined by The Mother Prophetess, is closely linked to the Sacred Crystal… A powerful artifact, which enables the wielder to control the Ocean itself!

Could Vaalann be the messiah that the Blue Elves have been waiting generations for?

Elves #1 takes a high fantasy approach to the elves concept complete with individuals riding polar bears. Pure awesomeness. The comic’s coloring via Saito meshes well with the pencils of Duarte, realizing a complex and imaginative world. The series is a slow burn, as is the case with most of the titles in the genre, but this is a land that seems well realized and worth the time sink. Expect lots of characters, locations, races and more. The translation is easy to follow as well.


 

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The Call of the Stryx #1: Shadows 1/2

Writer: Eric Corbeyran

Artist: Richard Guérineau

Colorist: Isabelle Merlet

Translation: Studio Charon

Southwest United States, in the Mojave Desert on the border of Arizona, the President officially inaugurates a new military complex – a secret base with a warehouse full of weapons and nuclear warheads. But during the visit, a terrorist group attacks and tries to eliminate the President, and a mysterious woman suddenly appears out of the blue…

Stryx is another Delcourt title taking place in Arizona, the series is an espionage comic. The title features an engaging set of pencils from Guérineau and the piece as a whole channels the feel of artists like Marcos Martin– especially in the way that the title is colored by Isabelle Merlet. The way that the story imagines the fictional locales through an outsider’s eyes is made impressive with a lot of really tiny lines crammed into nearly every panel of the comic.

The story has some interesting sci-fi elements and a stunning cliffhanger of an ending to its first issue. This is a great story to really study the colors of, as the palette of each scene changes ever so slightly to match its tone. I would love to see this effect used more in Image, Marvel and DC Comics.


 

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Hauteville House Vol. 1: Zelda 1/2

Writer: Fred Duval

Artist: Thierry Gioux & Christophe Quet

Colors: Carole Beau

Variant Cover: Mahmud Asrar

1864, under an imaginary Second Empire, Napoléon III uses his army and his secret service to study certain phenomena relating to the occult and to popular legends. His goal is quite simple: achieving world supremacy.

I might sound like a broken record at this point, but Hauteville is yet another comic book with stunning lineart. The series has a steampunk vibe, containing lots of ships comprised of stirring technological splendor. The artwork excels when Gioux and Quet are working with the backgrounds and architecture to instill mood into the story. The creative team has made a sprawling and beautiful world larger than those of most Image comics.


 

I don’t think that readers of interesting comics should pass up these new titles from Delcourt.

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14. Fons Schiedon Reimagines Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’ As A Motion Comic

How a two-hundred-year-old opera made the transition to an online motion comic for contemporary audiences.

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15. SDCC ’15: Listen to the full ‘Grant Morrison: The Multiversity And Beyond’ Panel

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By Harper Harris

Miss out on the ‘Grant Morrison: The Multiversity and Beyond panel at this year’s San Diego Comic Con? Never fear! Hear Morrison talk to DC’s VP of Marketing John Cunningham about his ideas for The Multiversity and how the project took form, as well as info on his upcoming Wonder Woman: Earth One, Multiversity Too, and Batman: Black and White books! Morrison and Cunningham go pretty in-depth here, so feel free to grab your copies of the series and follow along, it’s a fun ride!

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16. SDCC ’15: What’s In A Page Panel w/Hanuka, Steinke, McCloud, & Yang Breaks Down Secrets

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By Victor Van Scoit

A great comic book let’s your brain relax and enjoy as you take in each page of the story. You’re not trying to figure out which panel to read next, or be taken out of the story unexpectedly. Instead the creator has made choices in storytelling that take you smoothly through the story and subconsciously informing your mind with all the metaphors, themes, and subtext required. First Second’s What’s in a Page panel aimed to give the audience some insight into those choices from four of their creators: Asuf Hanuka (The Divine) Aron Nels Steinke (The Zoo Box), Scott McCloud (The Sculptor), Gene Luen Yang (The Shadow Hero).

The panel limited each of the creators to just one page from their graphic novels to walk the audience through. Calista Brill of First Second moderated the panel and asked each of the authors for additional insight.

It was mentioned to Steinke that when constructing a page of comics for a western audience it’s expected they will read from left to right and from top to bottom, as is true with text. Being a teacher was that something he thought about when putting together comics for kids and using ways of reinforcing easy reading?

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Aron Nel Steinke – Panel from The Zoo Box

Aron Nels Steinke: “I definitely think about that. Most of my students I’ve worked from 1st-3rd grade. It’s very rare when a student doesn’t understand how to go left to right. But there are times where they do but they kind of get it after a while. If you make it so there really only is one way, then they’ll understand that really this is the next sequence.”

Hanuka had chosen a very vivid page and it was noted how the lead character is handsome, and nice and symmetrical. You’re not afraid to get really grotesque. What drove that choice?

Asuf Hanuka – Sample Panel from The Divine

Asuf Hanuka: “It’s really hard to do something beautiful without showing something ugly. I guess it’s just a way of creating contrast. We did have red lines for stuff we didn’t want to do.”

The notion of a red line, or line the creators wouldn’t cross, was a bit humorous considering the amount of violence in in the book where people have brains and spines ripped from their bodies. So it was surprising to hear there were lines the creators wouldn’t cross. The crowd laughed at McCloud’s quip regarding how that violence was portrayed.

Scott McCloud: “But tastefully”

For McCloud’s page he kind of cheated having chosen a two-page spread. This spread in particular from The Sculptor was chosen to show how he was experimenting with auditory experience of the main character.

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Scott McCloud – Presenting Panel from The Sculptor

Scott McCloud: “The reason I like this spread is because it was an opportunity when I’m doing everything visually to see if I could do something auditory. Where it’s all about somebody trying to find a real person in a crowd. And so I just have voices, and voices, and voices and this is what Times Square is. I wanted you to have a sense of what it is to be like inside of his head.”

Gene began with two pages from separate the separate books of his two volume series Boxers & Saints. He joked that he immediately regretted the choice as they’re probably not comics in the McCloud definition. He picked them so he could talk about the duality of the two scenes based on the themes in the graphic novels

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Gene Yang – Panel from Boxers and Saints

Gene Yang: “The reason I did two volumes [Boxers and Saints] was because I couldn’t decide who I sided with. I couldn’t decide who the protagonists are. So the protagonists in one book are the antagonists in the other. So that’s what these two panels are all about. I just wanted to visually represent that resonance between the two cultures.”

After having gone through each creators selected pages the floor was opened up to questions. The first one allowed for some interesting insight from the creators. It was asked “What informs your choices when choosing the panel layout and which panels or pages will be contained vs a full bleed?”

Yang’s response came from a narrative point of reference—

Gene Yang: “I actually had a debate in my head about whether or not to make these [the two pages selected] bleed. I think visually it would’ve been more striking. But narratively each of the larger images represents something that is happening in the heads of the characters that are at the bottom. So by containing it in something kind of a panel it’s sort of a visual representation of that.”

while Steinke’s was born from humorous practicality.

Aron Nels Steinkie: “First my answer involves the laziness on my part. When you do a bleed you’re drawing art work that won’t actually get printed. It’ll get printed and it’ll get chopped, by the chopper. Because it bleeds and goes off to the edge of the page. One of my favorite cartoonists is the cartoonist Joe Socko and he does a lot of bleeds. And I think about all the inches of artwork that we don’t get to see because it’s been chopped from the paper cutter. That’s one reason and another is I try to use it for emotional impact. So whenever I do go to the effort to make that extra effort it’s got to be for a reason.”

Hanuka’s response was more rooted in the experience of comics and it’s physical medium—

Asuf Hanuka: “I think it’s a question of taste. For me I prefer to never go to a bleed because I believe the magic of the comics language is that you’re seeing a universe through a window. And so you need the window. And if it goes all the way to the end of the page, then you’ve seen the end of the page—and it’s paper and something about the illusion disappears. But I think that in some cases you can do it. But for me it has to be really—like—if the Earth explodes. Yeah, let’s go to the edge. Save it for the important moments.”

and as to be expected McCloud’s response blended metaphor, theory, and art.

Scott McCloud: “I do use bleeds a lot. I think the most important thing for me about bleeds is that they are well named. It’s a really good name—bleed. If you think of any panel as a kind of container it’s like an organ that contains fluids. And it contains time. If you have three panels in a row—boom, boom, boom—then it has this nice staccato rhythm. It’s telling you “Here’s an instant. Here’s an instant. Here’s an instant.” Or maybe a span of time. But it’s a container. It contains your sense of the duration of the panel. That this thing is—holding, time, in— and so it has a nice feeling of containment. When you lose that edge something happens in our perception”…

“What happens when you have a panel bleed is it really almost literally bleeds time. As it goes to the edge of the page there’s a sense the duration just flows outward. If you have a bleed at the beginning of a spread for example, that instant will seem to become a lingering moment. It has an echo. It has a reverberation. And it tends to bleed throughout that spread. You can sort of feel it sinking in. That’s why they’re so good for establishing shots. You have a nice bleeding establishing shot and then that sense of place in that one little box becomes a sense of place for the whole spread. If the whole scene takes place in that place, then you have that sense of place throughout. It escapes time. Time—bleeds—out. It’s well named.”

Another audience question brought up how audiences are also reading digitally now, and how that’s increasing with, “I’m curious about what kind of impact digital is having as far as laying out the page?” At this McCloud had to leave so he could make it to the other side of the convention center to participate in another panel. It was another humorous moment for the audience considering McCloud’s many thoughts on the topic, hence his own jab at himself leaving on the digital topic.

Scott McCloud: “And also, I’ll never stop talking.”

The rest of the panel seemed to still be working that question out for themselves as they work, realizing it’s two worlds still very much sharing space from a creative endeavor.

Asuf Hanuka: “Personally I don’t read any digital comics. I only read on paper. But everything I do and create is digital. It’s on computer. Even the penciling—it’s called penciling, but it’s really a Cintiq pen on a screen. The thing I like about digital is that I know the color will look exactly like it looked on the screen. And the printing quality will be always [sic] perfect for everyone and that’s amazing. But I don’t have any specific changes that I will make in the layout design, or the storytelling, or the drawing style because it’s going to be on the screen and not on paper. For me it’s the same thing.”

Aron Nels Steinke: “My published work I’m generally thinking about turning a page in a book. That’s how I enjoy reading comics the most.” …

“I would like to see digital versions of my books or any other books done panel by panel. I really like the way my friend Zac Soto—who has a group called Study Group—a lot of times when they put their work online it’s an infinite canvas going vertically. Because that’s how you’re scrolling if it’s online.”

At this the moderator mentioned “Design for devices and print should be designed for that medium. But usually not both.”

Gene Yang: “When I am writing my own comics, and making my own comics, I almost always am just thinking about the print version. Mostly because like Aron—I love that page turn. I can’t imagine doing without it. It seems to me that most comics, even if they’re presented digitally, are still formatted for print. There’s still the concept of the page which is purely a print thing.”

In finishing his thought Yang helped the moderator sign off the panel on another laugh.

Gene Yang: I know Scott—it’s too bad he left!

Moderator: If he had stayed this would be a whole other panel.

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17. SDCC ’15 Interview: Alex Segura and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa Tell us all About Riverdale TV Series, Dark Circle Comics, and the Future of Archie

By Harper W. Harris

Archie fans certainly had a good time at SDCC this year: not only did the publisher talk about a new series in the Archie Horror line and tease us with the future of the Dark Circle line and the New Riverdale series of titles, but announced that the Riverdale TV series has been picked up by the CW. I had the chance to speak with Alex Segura, SVP of publicity and marketing and editor of the Dark Circle line, as well as Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, CCO and writer of Afterlife with Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina to talk about the slew of exciting news that came from Archie Comics over the course of the weekend.
Harper W. Harris: I wanted to talk with Alex first a bit about Dark Circle Comics. First of all, in general, how do you plan to tell new and exciting superhero stories under the Dark Circle imprint–how do you want them to stand out among all the other superhero books?

Alex Segura: I think the key for us is just to be different and good. I really strongly believe that quality rises to the top. You can put as much dressing on something as you want, but if the story or art isn’t good it doesn’t matter. I talked about this on the Dark Circle panel, but finding voices that maybe are familiar to the tropes of comics, but aren’t beholden to them. They can bring in a different perspective–people like Chuck Wendig, Adam Christopher, and Duane Swierczynski. They know comics but they know other media like TV, novels, and movies. So they come at it from a different perspective. We’re building Dark Circle more as a network. Each book is its own little show, and maybe down the line they’ll interact with each other, but fans don’t have that same kind of company pressure where you have checklists of 20 books you have to get to understand one event. We don’t do events, we do stories.

HH: What can you tell us about the pretty newly announced series, The Web?   

The Web Promo, art by Szymon Kudranski

The Web Promo, art by Szymon Kudranski

AS: The Web is Jane Raymond, she’s a 14 year old Korean American girl who is super into cosplay, and she’s a teenager. She’s one of these characters that once I read that first script, she feels like a teenager. She’s dealt with tragedy, her mother’s just passed away, and she’s stumbling upon being a superhero, which is insane. It really shows you what happens when a teenager gains enhanced abilities and has to face real problems like street gangs, violence, and teenage life. I mean, I can’t imagine being a teenager now–I remember how stressful it was being a teenager maybe 20 years ago. It’s really Dave White, who is the writer, who’s done a great job of trying to be true to the character and also a nod to the history but not weighing it down with continuity.

HH: The other thing that’s really cool about the Dark Circle line is how incredibly diverse it is. You’ve got action spy thriller to more wacky adventure to super dark crime, and horror–what do you think are the advantages of having such a diverse line while still being within the superhero genre overall?

AS: First of all, thank you for saying that. That’s really a testament to this gentleman [points to Aguirre-Sacasa] with the Archie Horror stuff. That really kicked the door down with Afterlife and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. All I have is my taste and my gut, and talking to Jon [Goldwater] and Roberto and Mike [Pellerito], and Jesse Goldwater. If it’s good, does it take up a new space in the line, and we really want to present fans with a variety and a seal of quality. To me, if you see the Dark Circle logo, it’s a company logo: it tells you that this is good. Whereas I think in other places, it just means you have a lot, or it means something else. I want people not to necessarily feel compelled to buy it because they’re completing a collection, but feel compelled to buy it because they want to read it.

HH: So shifting gears here a bit, I definitely have to talk about the Riverdale TV series that was announced as coming to CW yesterday. Roberto, what can you tell us about the tone or look of the show? I know earlier you’ve talked about it having a surreal tone–has that changed now that it’s on the CW?

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: I think when we ended up pitching it, the very high concept pitch was that it was a teen version of Twin Peaks. And by that, it was sort of like how in Twin Peaks the whole story is kicked off by the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer. So imagine you’re telling that story, but instead of following the grown-ups of Twin Peaks, you’re following all of Laura Palmer’s classmates. That kind of story is kind of used to uncover all the secrets–that makes it sound like a really, really dark show, and though there are undercurrents of that and weirdness, it’s still Archie, there’s still a love triangle. Josie and the Pussycats are in it, there’s a lot of music in it. So it’s kind of a mix of light and dark, serious and funnier stuff–kind of like life. Coming of age is on some level is kind of a loss of innocence, so that’s a big theme. It’s kind of a hodge-podge of all that stuff.

Riverdale TV Series, art by Veronica Fish

Riverdale TV Series, art by Veronica Fish

HH: What other kind of TV shows and movies did you take inspiration from when writing the pilot?

RA: We talked a lot about it feeling like a John Hughes movie. Also movies like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Spectacular Now, The Way Way Back; those are movies that are all touchstones in terms of tone. The core will always be the love triangle and the characters, so as long as their essences remain. We’ve also talked about Dawson’s Creek as being an inspiration, which Greg Berlanti, who’s the producer on this, worked on. We talked about Everwood, which is about a family in a small town. So all those different kind of influences just kind of all have been absorbed and trickled down into the show.

HH: I believe it was on the Reddit AMA that you mentioned that you hoped to do a Halloween special every year that is a little bit like Afterlife with Archie–is that still something you’re trying to do?

RA: Yes, absolutely! That’d be great. Every Halloween there’d be a Halloween episode. Kind of like on Roseanne how they did a Halloween episode every year, or Treehouse of Horror.

Afterlife with Archie #10

Afterlife with Archie #10

HH: So let’s talk about Afterlife with Archie a bit. Did you guys always plan on expanding that book to encompass more than just zombies? What other kind of monsters or horror ideas do you see coming up in the future for the book?

RA: You know, I think originally we did think it was just going to be a zombie book, but then as it went on it very quickly started encroaching on other horror genres, and now the sky’s the limit. The one thing we probably won’t do in Afterlife, because we have Sabrina, is witches. Even though Sabrina and her aunts have small parts in Afterlife, that’s the one thing we probably won’t dive into. Otherwise everything else is kind of on the table horror-wise. There’s still a lot characters in the Archie library that we haven’t yet met in Afterlife that we will be meeting.

HH: The storytelling in that book is really phenomenal. What’s the process like scripting and working with Francesco Francavilla?

RA: We talk about every issue in advance and kind of check in to make sure that this is an area that Francesco’s interested in drawing. Then I do full scripts–and they are full scripts. I usually give probably more art direction than Francesco wants, although obviously he’s a genius and if he changes around the layout of a page, then I’ll adjust based on that. It’s pretty traditional in terms of having a full script and Francesco doing his thing, and if something changes, it’s always better.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #5

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #5

HH: Let’s talk about Chilling Adventures of Sabrina for a minute. How did you decide to make that a separate world from Afterlife, and what kind of research went into making that new world that takes place much farther in the past?

RA: You know, I’m not sure exactly what led into that. I know we wanted to do a book that wasn’t super tied to Afterlife, because it felt like if we were doing that story, let’s just put it in Afterlife. And I had wanted to do a period book for a while. So many of the movies and books that are an inspiration for Sabrina like Rosemary’s Baby or The Exorcist or The Omen, they all are all obviously retro now. It felt like this would be a slower burn and be a bit more psychological, so I thought maybe if set it in the ‘60s, maybe people won’t think it’s in the same universe of Afterlife. It’s a little weird that there’s a Sabrina in Afterlife and a different Sabrina who’s in Chilling Adventures.

HH: We’re used to that, we’re in comics, right?

RA: Exactly. Robert Hack, who draws, colors, and inks the book, he loves all the retro stuff. He has a huge library of visual references, much more so than I. I’ll say stuff like, they go to the movies and there are movie posters for movies that would be playing then, and he always fills in that stuff himself. He’s got a really good sense of that.

HH: There was another book announced in the Archie Horror line at the panel yesterday, right?

RA: Who is Vampironica, yes.

HH: What can you tell us about that?

RA: Not much. I can tell you that maybe two years ago maybe Dan Parent did two issues of Betty and Veronica that introduced this concept of Betty the vampire slayer and Vampironica. I was talking to Francesco, and he’s like, “I love vampires, I love pretty girls, I love Veronica.” We just started talking about it, and he got an idea about it. That’s all I can say about it. More news to come!

Who is Vampironica? (art by Francesco Francavilla)

Who is Vampironica? (art by Francesco Francavilla)

HH: So one of the grand traditions of Archie Comics are the wacky crossovers you’ve done in the past–Archie Meets Punisher, Archie Meets Kiss, Archie vs. Predator, and the recently announced Archie vs. Sharknado. Being that you two guys are running these two separate lines of horror and crime or more mature themes, are there any plans to cross those two universes, or cross books within those universes?

AS: You know, we haven’t had the formal discussion, but like Jon Goldwater always says, everything’s on the table if it’s a good idea. We’re getting Dark Circle off the ground, Archie Horror is rolling…so maybe someday.

RA: A lot of people have pitched a lot of crazy crossover ideas, but no one yet has pitched a Dark Circle/Archie Horror crossover.

AS: And we’re doing our first horror book at Dark Circle with The Hangman, so there’s definitely room to play there.

RA: And, not to tease anything, but don’t we have a big crossover…

Archie Meets the Ramones, art by Gisele Lagace

Archie Meets the Ramones, art by Gisele Lagace

AS: Yeah, we’re announcing a big crossover tonight–we’re announcing Archie Meets Ramones. I’ll be cowriting that with Matt Rosenberg, with art by Giselle [Lagace], who’s done stuff like Occupy Riverdale and her own cool comics. She’s a huge Ramones fan.

HH: So is that kind of a follow up to Archie Meets KISS?

AS: You know, Jesse Goldwater said, you’re kind of captaining the Archie music sub-universe, so there will be little nods that the fans that have read both will get. But it’ll be a fun standalone Rock’n’Roll High School kind of thing.

HH: Awesome! Last thing: what do you guys love about working for Archie? There’s so much to love–it’s a comic publisher that’s grown massively in the last couple of years.

RA: I love that risk-taking and being creative is rewarded. I don’t just wear this [points to his Jughead sweater] at Comic Con, I wear this everyday. I love people’s passion for the characters. That’s my favorite thing: when I say, oh, I do this for Archie, their eyes immediately light up because they have so many associations with these characters. To be at a place where I can work with them and take risks with them is just great.

AS: For me, I’ve worked on a bunch of major brands, and Archie is right up there with the likes of them, because everyone knows Archie. You know, you tell someone you work at Archie and their eyes light up because everyone has an Archie story. And my first comic was an Betty and Veronica Double Digest with a great Dan DeCarlo cover of them dancing. I remember the first time I read a Cheryl Blossom story. I love the characters, I think Jon is a great boss in terms of taking risks, being creative, and not being afraid. We’ll always try the new thing if it makes sense, and we’ll just keep rolling, I think it’s great.

3 Comments on SDCC ’15 Interview: Alex Segura and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa Tell us all About Riverdale TV Series, Dark Circle Comics, and the Future of Archie, last added: 7/19/2015
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18. SDCC ’15 Interview: Marguerite Bennett talks DC Comics’ “Bombshells”

DC Comics Bombshells writer Marguerite Bennett

DC Comics Bombshells writer Marguerite Bennett

By Nick Eskey

DC Collectible’s popular Bombshells figures have recently been green lighted for its own comic, written by Margurite Bennett with art by Margurite Sauvage and set in an alternate reality of WWII where Super Heroes exist. Bennett talks about her experience with the book at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con 2015.

How did you get into comics?

Batman the Animated series actually, and I was on a panel today sitting next to “Paul Dini” and my heart was going like crazy the entire time. I came off as a huge flake I’m sure… But Batman the Animated series, I was five years old and saw it in this after school program. And it’s actually sort of funny. With that iconic opening sequence, I wildly misinterpreted what Batman was about. From the gangsters, and the zeppelins, and this wonder rich noir feel, I um… thought Batman was a bad guy. You saw these villains and these gangsters, and what really caught my attention was how dark it is. So often in children’s television, especially things that are presented to girls, are these hyper-saturated, very, very bright, abundantly pink things. So Batman stuck out because how different it was.

So in that opening sequence you see these “bad things, bad things, bad things,” and then you see Batman who is clearly king of the bad things in Gotham. And I assumed he was a bad guy. When I watched the episode, he was fighting these people. So I thought he was this bad guy who felt guilty of being a bad guy and then decided to then turn [them] all in and clean up the city that he was responsible for making this evil and dark. I operated off of that for like a year before I was six. I didn’t know what the murder of the Wayne’s had to do with this… So I really misinterpreted this. But because of this, and creating my own wrong canons from the very beginning, it really started it as something creative. Something I could enjoy watching, but also putting my own mark on even from a very young age.

Newest Bombshell addition: Cheetah

Newest Bombshell addition: Cheetah

How did you get involved with the “Bombshells” project?

Oh gosh. Our wonderful editor, “Jim Chadwick,” approached me last September (that’s how long I had to keep secrets about this). He knew I was a huge fan of the series. I’m very vocal on Twitter about how much I loved it and I collected all manner of things form it, and because of the attention that those August variant covers got, DC was like “There seems to be a lot of enthusiasm for this. What about… we’ve essentially got this whole world waiting to have these stories told, maybe there’s something to this?” And there was that Katniss like, Hunger Games moment where I said “I volunteer!” And as soon as he offered, I was all over it. We’ve hit the ground running, and going ever since.

They’re introducing this as a digital download comic right?

Yes. The digital version, which is in these ten page increments, will be every Saturday of the month. These ten page chapters will feature a different heroine for our first arc. And then for our second arc, their paths start to cross. That starts July 27th I believe. The first print comic is going to be August 12th on Wednesday.

What kind of research did you have to do for a story taken place in WWII?

It’s almost always been a preoccupation of mine even at a young age, and I come from a military family. So it was something that you grew up knowing and learning a lot about. And it’s not precisely World War II. We’re doing an alternate history. But it was something where I was able to incorporate these story telling elements.

Newest Bombshell addition: Killer Frost

Newest Bombshell addition: Killer Frost

Scaling back for a minute, when people try and look at an event that massive, a lot of the times we get caught up in things that are almost too big to tell a story about. Or like when you visit a new country or culture, you’ll go to like the “Great Wall,” or you’ll go to the “Eiffel Tower.” But the thing that you remember coming away from it aren’t these giant vistas. They’re small interactions. They’re small stories. Like the “Eiffel Tower’s” one thing, but the thing that I took away from Paris was that “Spongebob Squarepants” is called “Bob L’eponge.” That sticks with you for some reason, and so it was the smaller stories, the more intimate human stories, that always stayed with me with learning about war as a child. Something that’s so far removed from my generation and my birth, they were always the stories that were too big to hold here in my head. But it was the small stories that were the ones that could stay.

Small stories are what influence the world of Bombshells more than outside events. We’re not trying to tell the battle of the bulge, but we’re trying to tell the stories of human courage and human compassion.

Which one of the Bombshells is your favorite to write for?

Batwoman. Batwoman is my favorite DC hero, period. I think that every DC hero in particular is so iconic. Each one can be boiled down to a single virtue or element. Batman is about justice, or obsession depending on your read. Or Batgirl is about recovery. And I feel like Batwoman is about service.

Where it’s the element of military service, or giving yourself to a larger cause. I think she’s inherently a very selfish person, so it’s something that she struggles with. She had a tendency to really hurt the people that she loves, but she still wants to do this, she still wants to be this thing that can provide for other people, and care for other people. It was so interesting because she comes from a place where she’s flawed. She fails so often, in trying to do this, and trying to be this. And it felt like this really perfect moment of crisis that’s going to define the coming century. Her failings and her strengths are going to be the heart of that story.

What was the most challenging part of writing for Bombshells?

You know, we have so many wonderful heroines. So I do worry about being able to give each of them their do. There are so many people I want to incorporate. The first heroines you’re going to see are the ones that already have their own statues, but there are a lot of ones that I want to hurry and get to. But we do need to do that first and establish them first. Coming from the DC Collectibles needed to be our priority. And so I’m hoping the public will bear with me, because they’ll be times when you’ll see character, and you might not see or hear from them again for a few months… I’m just impatient, and I want all my toys at once, and I want to share them with everyone all at once.

Look out for DC Comics Bombshells releasing on digital starting July 27th, and the physical book releasing August 12th.

1 Comments on SDCC ’15 Interview: Marguerite Bennett talks DC Comics’ “Bombshells”, last added: 7/18/2015
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19. SDCC ’15 Interview: Tom King and Tim Seeley Chat About Grayson

Grayson #9 (on sale now)

Grayson #9 (on sale now)

By Harper W. Harris

Among the DC books that sparked a sort of revolution for the publisher in terms of new kinds of stories is Grayson, the espionage comic by Tom King, Tim Seeley, and Mikel Janin. In a nice and surprisingly quiet corner of the convention, I was able to sit down and have a chat with King and Seeley about the former Robin that they have brought to such exciting new heights.
Harper W. Harris: Grayson kind of paved the way for a lot of the genre books…

[Tim and Tom do a fist bump]

HH: Yeah! And it kind helped start a cool revolution for DC in terms of what kind of books they were putting out. What do you feel are the challenges or advantages of telling a more genre story within a superhero universe?

Tim Seeley: Inherently superheroes are always really flexible and always have been. You’re sort of making a hero that’s bigger than an idea, bigger than one person, and you can put it into so many different things. Obviously Batman is sort of more of a  detective story, Superman is more of a science fiction story, but they all are superhero stories. So I think our approach to this was, let’s do an espionage style genre story, but let’s firmly embrace its superhero roots. You kind of get that wonderful fusion that makes superheroes the most popular genre on earth at this point, they’re so flexible and available to embrace new things while still being stories that are aspirational and colorful and fun and crazy.

Tom King: The approach was never for us to just write in the spy genre, it was let’s write the best Dick Grayson story we can. Like, growing up I didn’t realize I was reading different genres.  I didn’t realize when I was reading [Walt] Simonson’s Thor that I was reading a huge fantasy epic. It still felt like a superhero story to me.

TS: Yeah, sure.

TK: Or like I didn’t read the noir detective stuff of [Batman] Year One, like I didn’t get that he was using all those tricks. I think we’re taking the spy genre and using that to tell the best superhero stories. We’re stealing some tropes to inject some energy. We’re superhero writers, we want to write frickin’ awesome superhero stories. Am I allowed to say that? I’m saying it.

HH: I think you’re entitled to that! One of the other cool things about the book getting started is that we know Grant Morrison always gives us tons of great characters and ideas with his books, and most of those never get used again. How did you decide to follow up on some of those threads from Batman, Inc.?

Grayson #10 (on sale 7/22)

Grayson #10 (on sale 7/22)

TK: My main approach to that was to throw away my part of the pitch and take Tim’s.

TS: [Laughs] That’s exactly how I’ve always thought of Grant’s stuff, he blows in with a bunch of crazy ideas and then just drops the mic and walks out, and a lot of people don’t pick up on that stuff because it’s too weird or so Grant Morrison. I feel like I’ve been reading his stuff for so long and recognize how great these ideas are, and it’s frustrating that nobody picks them up, so I was going to rectify that wrong. I’m going to use this amazing thing he left behind called Spyral, it has to be used because it’s so weird and so fun. When DC said make Dick a spy, I couldn’t think of anything for my first pitch, and Chris Burnham sat in my studio and he was drawing the Batman, Inc. stuff and he had left a Spyral symbol on the table and I was like, “That’s it! I’ll use Spyral.”

TK: I’ve never heard that story! That’s an exclusive story, I’ve been on every interview with him and I’ve never heard that before.

TS: Chris designed that symbol. It helps to be around comics dudes all the time so you can steal their ideas. It seemed so appropriate for the character, because Dick is such a black and white guy, there’s good and bad and he’s always going to do the right thing, but he’s going to work for somebody that’s completely gray. Therein lay the conflict of our issues.

HH: Seems like Kathy Kane showed up at the end of issue eight…do you have plans to further her story?

TK: In this series, nothing is what it seems. We keep saying this and we’re going to keep saying it: our goal is 100% to surprise you. We never want you to be relaxed and to be like, okay I know where this is going, I’m going to sit down and read another villain of the month–I don’t like those kinds of comics. I want the stakes to be high, I want you to be blown away by what you’re reading. So I can’t spoil what’s going to happen, but it’s not what you think is going to happen.

TS: Keep in mind that Spyral’s whole thing is spreading disinformation and mind control, and sometimes we may be playing the Spyral game on the readers. That’s how we keep ourselves entertained: by being the villains that we portray in the comic book.

TK: You need to put lipstick on then.

TS: It looks very nice. [Laughs]

HH: When you first started out, did you always plan to move Helena to where she is now? Was that a longform plan?

TS: I think one of our ideas was to always change it up, that their relationship is always changing: she’s his partner, she’s his boss, he’s her boss, they’re romantically involved, they’re not. What makes it fun is as a reader you’re constantly second guessing what the plan is, you know? That was definitely part of the deal.

TK: We’d introduced this character, The Tiger, Agent One, as sort of the best spy in the DCU. He’s this Afghani, the Tiger king of Kandahar, he’s such a frickin’ great character. As soon as I put him on the page I wanted him to be Dick’s partner, I loved the chemistry between them and I loved where they could go together and I wanted to elevate him. The idea of having them as partners and Helena above him is just too appealing. As soon as I said it, I was like, “Alright.”

TS: It changes up Dick’s relationships with the other characters too, because Helena was a very understanding but firm partner, Tiger’s just always telling him he’s an idiot. Their relationship changes, and it keeps allowing us to keep making a book about all kinds of different things.

HH: So there have been some hints here and there that Dick Grayson might be bisexual, is that something that you guys plan on expanding?

Grayson Bow Tie

“Am I Straight?”

TK: Who said that?

TS: No, I mean…

TK: He was talking about his bow tie.

TS: He was talking about his bow tie, for sure. I mean for us there’s some fun in the sexy aspect of the spy genre, but I think to us the character is a very flexible guy. I don’t know if its our job in this particular story to do anything that changes his sexuality, but I think it’s fun to play around with it because part of his job is to be the seducer. It also involves playing parts that are not necessarily who he is, and part of it is him sometimes discovering things about himself as he plays parts. It’s just another of our ways of keeping you guessing, that’s the fun, right? And he was talking about his tie! I don’t know what you guys are talking about.

HH: You guys have a unique collaboration in how you co-write, alternating scripts. What do you think makes your partnership and method a good one for this book?

TK: I come from this school of superhero comics where I sort of worship Frank Miller and Alan Moore, if you read my other stuff like Omega Men you’ll see that. I want to tell dark dirges and philosophical stories, and that is not who Dick Grayson is. There is a Dick Grayson story out there, that it’s always tempting to be like, he was raised by Batman and he hates it, and Batman sort of abused him and put him in this situation and he’s sad and thinks about it while he looks into his belly button. I would probably write that story–I wrote a whole novel for Simon & Schuster that was about that concept. Tim’s here to say, “Tom, no, this is fun and exciting and amazing, let’s do a supercool adventure comic!”

TS: I mean yeah, I’m the lighter of the two as far as our approach to superheroes goes. But what Tom brings is his interesting perspective in that he’s been in the field and he’s done that sort of thing and knows the emotional weight of it. And I think the way the book works is that you feel this sort of back and forth that is kind of like what Dick’s life is probably like, where it could be very complex and dark, and you get an issue like #3 that’s very much a Tom story with Agent Eight, but we can also do an issue like #4 that’s somewhat lighter and sort of about the youthful aspect of Dick Grayson. I think when Tom and I first started talking about this book, we would just have this long conversation about what it means to be Dick and what his place in the DCU is. In the end we batted around a lot of stuff and some of it was the same and some of it wasn’t, but when we got down to it we totally agreed on what he is. So what kind of book he’s in can change, but who he is I think we agree 100%. I think that’s why we get a book that people respond to; I wouldn’t have wrote the book the way it is without Tom, and Tom wouldn’t have wrote the book the way it is without me. And neither of us could’ve written it the way it is without Mikel Janin or Jeromy Cox. It’s all about that collaboration, and that’s why the book is what it is. It’s a lot of voices melding into one solid voice.

Grayson, Vol. 1: Agents of Spyral (on sale now)

Grayson, Vol. 1: Agents of Spyral (on sale now)

HH: What real or fictional spies are your inspirations for Dick Grayson?

TS: Go ahead, real life spy.

TK: My buddy Fred, my buddy Jane…

TS: All the sudden the sniper light is on your head…

TK: Can I give like the stupid avoiding answer? Dick Grayson of Spyral, that character, he doesn’t need another character to be laid over him. He’s got 75 years of history, he’s older than James Bond. James Bond was inspired by him!

TS: Suck it Ian Fleming!

TK: I’m not trying to write a book that’s James Bond in the DCU, I’m trying to write a book that is Dick Grayson in the DCU.

TS: I think that’s the answer, yeah. The job of the book is to play with the tropes that you’re familiar with in the spy genre, to play with the kind of story that you’re used to, but to do it differently and to add this character who is the heart of the story. Dick, being who he is, and his history–that’s really the core of the book. We know as people who have seen a lot of movies and read a lot of books and read a lot of comics what a spy story is and what those characters are, but to us it’s about playing against them or playing with the tropes. It’s about Dick Grayson, first. That was a good answer Tom, that wasn’t a cheesy answer that was a good answer!

TK: The trade just came out, it’s the hardcover, and we’re so proud of it. It’s the first volume and it has my Future’s End issue in it, which was the weird backwards one which I can’t believe how proud I am of that issue. Please check it out!

 

Grayson #9 is on shelves now, with #10 coming out on 7/22, and the hardcover first volume is also out as well!

1 Comments on SDCC ’15 Interview: Tom King and Tim Seeley Chat About Grayson, last added: 7/17/2015
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20. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Brandon Graham

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It was a rare “event week” for me at the comics shop with the much anticipated release of the new comics anthology Island! Brandon Graham, the creator, editor, and cover artist for Island is our subject this week. Graham’s work is inspired by classic European and Japanese(manga)comics. He started off drawing comics for Antarctic Press & Radio Comix, some being pornographic(see Milk! #7, etc.).

Graham would go on to work with the infamous Meathaus collective and to creating his own independent titles: Multiple Warheads and King City. I was fortunate to meet the super-friendly Mr. Graham back in 2012 during his Multiple Warheads: Alphabet Tour and he was kind enough to contribute to my convention sketchbook!

Brandon Graham is part of a new age of Image Comics, which has overtaken the “Big 2″(Marvel/DC) in the original content department. Recently, Graham, along with artist Simon Roy, “re-imagined” Image Comics co-founder Rob Liefeld’s Prophet to much critical acclaim.

Island #1 is an over-sized comic magazine published by Image Comics and features work by Brandon Graham, Marian Churchland, Emma Rios, Kelly Sue DeConnick, and Ludroe. You can check out a preview here. The series will be released on a monthly basis.

You can see the latest news & art updates for Brandon Graham here.

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com – Andy Yates

0 Comments on Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Brandon Graham as of 7/16/2015 4:50:00 PM
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21. J.H. Williams III Shows off Sandman: Overture Finale Art

After an interminably long time (two years, to be precise), Neil Gaiman‘s and J.H. Williams III‘s Sandman: Overture is finally coming to an end.  Issue #6, currently scheduled for release on September 30th, will wrap up the prequel mini-series.  Over the past few days, Williams III has been tweeting out some panel artwork from the book:

overture overture2 overture3 overture4

1 Comments on J.H. Williams III Shows off Sandman: Overture Finale Art, last added: 7/17/2015
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22. SDCC ’15 Interview: Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, and Chad Hardin talk Power Girl and Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn #17

Harley Quinn #17

By Harper W. Harris

Down in the bustle of the DC booth, I got a chance to talk with Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Chad Hardin, the team behind the ever popular Harley Quinn series, as well as newer books Harley Quinn and Power Girl and Starfire.

 

Harper W. Harris: When you wrote issue #12 of Harley Quinn, did you always plan on expanding that story into its own series or story?

Amanda Conner: Jimmy did.

Harley Quinn and Power Girl #2, out 7/22

Harley Quinn and Power Girl #2, out 7/22

Jimmy Palmiotti: Yeah, when we writing it, I said, it would be great if we could just make it a couple weeks later when they came out of the ring, and if this team up does okay, maybe they’ll let us tell that story. And it did do okay–it did better than okay! So when we pitched it to Dan [Didio], we said, well, we’d like to take what happened during those two weeks, how Power Girl got in a wedding dress, why these three eyed cats, and make it into six issues. He said, “If you can figure out all that, then go for it.” So we did. And we had Stephane Roux that wanted to draw it–we got lucky getting Stephane, so it all came together. It was sort of not a plan, but I left the door open in case something happened.

HH: What has it been like to return to Power Girl, a character that you had such a big impact on several years ago?

AC: We actually love Power Girl so much, and we miss working on that character, so we just said lets put Power Girl and Harley together, why not!

HH: They’re a good pairing so far! So speaking of Harley Quinn, the character has obviously gotten immensely popular in the last year or so. Has that level of fan involvement or popularity changed the way you view the character or the way you aim to tell her story?

AC: Not really–I mean we always loved the character. We wanted to make her the truest Harley that we knew how. I think it’s just resonated with a lot of people, because they feel like it’s very Harley-ish. I think that might be one of the reasons people love it so much, she feels like Harley. She’s wacky, she’s crazy, a little homicidal, but lovable.

JP: We like to say it’s because of Chad’s artwork too that’s sucking everybody into the book. I mean we got lucky–again a lot of things were just timing. The timing was right for the book, the tone that we thought may or may not work actually worked. It’s always a hit or miss when you’re going to change things up a little bit. We got lucky this time, I could tell you about the 40 other times we didn’t get lucky, but that would take up a whole other interview. We’re happy this worked out!

HH: Yeah, I think a big part of its success is the fresh, funny approach to a superhero story. What is your process in writing it as a comedy? Is there a lot of throwing out ideas, sketching them out, then seeing visually a way to make the situation funnier or add a new joke?

JP: We don’t really write it so much as a comedy as this is the story, and then we find the funny, absurd moments in it. All superhero comic books could easily be done like this with everything they do, everything from the capes to how ridiculous it is, if they can do all this, then why aren’t they doing that situations. So with Harley we actually try to lay out the story very grounded, like a regular comic format, this is what’s happening. As a matter of fact, as absurd as it is sometimes, she’s actually more based in the real world than some other characters because she goes through the motions: she’s on the street, she goes from this place to that place–there’s no jump to scenery, she has to get somewhere. We have whole scenes with car services and cabs–

Chad Hardin: Or she’s at work, or eating.

JP: She’s trying to do three jobs…it’s actually really grounded. But in that, it’s sort of like our own lives, right? There are these absurd moments that we see every day and we giggle and then we forget about. With Harley we have these absurd moments and we take it to a hyper sense of reality. And then we hand it over to Chad.

CH: Whenever they hand me the script, it’s like, how can I make this…more. You know, take the football across the goal line so to speak.

AC: And you always do!

JP: We like to think of it, whether it’s perceived that way or not, as a very grounded in reality story. We could be completely wrong and be just getting by on what we think, but that’s how we see it.

AC: You can have a very grounded story, but when Harley gets involved, everything just goes upside-down.

CH: She’s the touch of chaos that spins the universe into this chaotic motion, and that’s where the absurdity comes in.

From Harley Quinn #12, which led to the Harley Quinn and Power Girl mini-series

From Harley Quinn #12, which led to the Harley Quinn and Power Girl mini-series

JP: I also think it’s why people like the book. It’s one of the few books–we know the procedure of a superhero book is that it’s going to have the fight and then the cliffhanger–with Harley, you actually have no idea what’s going to happen on the next page. We throw random things–like all the sudden there are 800 birds on her–like we just go randomly in places and it should be that way, because that’s how her brain acts, so it shouldn’t be so linear in that way. It seems to work and we’re always happy when we get Chad’s pages back and we’re all laughing at things that we didn’t even write that are in the background. We’re like, that’s a really good working team when everybody’s putting their best into it. And with Alex Sinclair on colors, it’s one of the most fun books I’ve ever worked on.

HH: You guys definitely have an awesome team going, a great collaboration. Chad, how is the process different drawing for writers that are very talented artists in their own right?

CH: I don’t know how to explain this so much, but it is different in that it’s the most challenging book I’ve ever been on, but I don’t know why. It just is. But I think it’s because I don’t dare dial anything in.

AC: We know where he lives.

CH: Everything’s got to be perfect, perfect, perfect. We’re crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s. But I think the fans really respond to that.

JP: I harass him once in a while.

CH: If Jimmy doesn’t like something, I can tell immediately. He’ll give me like a one word note, like “cool” or “awesome”–if I don’t get that, I’m like, okay, something’s wrong.

JP: Like, “Staten Island has more trees.” He drew a scene, and he doesn’t know Staten Island, it has more trees.

AC: There is no island off the coast.

CH: Oops! I actually did go to New York, I walked around Coney Island and took a million pictures. But off the coast, I have no idea. Across the Brooklyn Bridge, I have no idea.

JP: We’re dealing with a real city, there are 4 million people in Brooklyn that might have something to say if we completely turn everything away.

HH: You can’t really fake that geography.

JP: Yeah. Even with the scatapult on the roof, Amanda kind of figures out where it is using Google Maps, where it would go over buildings.

CH: We have a map of the building, the floors. I know which way it faces, we’re pretty anal about it.

AC: Oh, we’re so anal about it–I downloaded all these apps so I can know what degrees it needs to be pointed at to hit any J Train that might be going over the Williamsburg Bridge–Oh no that’s the L Train, nevermind!

Starfire #3, out 8/12

Starfire #3, out 8/12

HH: I wanted to talk about Starfire–how did you get attracted to that character?

AC: They asked us to write it. [Laughs]

JP: They ask, how do you feel about Starfire, I’m not sure how I feel about Starfire. Amanda definitely has more history with her.

AC: I read all the Wolfman Perez Teen Titans, so I liked the character a lot. And I’ve seen her go through a lot different incarnations.

JP: They sent us the New 52 trades, and we read those, and I was like, okay, that’s that, but we also like the cartoon a lot. We laugh our asses off at the cartoon. There’s got to be a way we can make this work for us, in order for us to have interest in writing it. Dan said, alright, then pitch how you would want to do it and we’ll see if it works with what we’re thinking. We pitched the book you have. We said it’s a new town and she doesn’t want to be a superhero so much, like a new start. And they went for it. I think they had confidence with us doing Harley that maybe we could handle that. I don’t think we would’ve been offered it if we weren’t doing Harley. I don’t think it would’ve been a book they would have come to us with, so we hard to earn that book.

 

Harley Quinn #17, Starfire #2, and Harley Quinn and Power Girl #1 are all in stores now, with new issues coming soon!

2 Comments on SDCC ’15 Interview: Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, and Chad Hardin talk Power Girl and Harley Quinn, last added: 7/17/2015
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23. SDCC’15: Invite Goon creator Eric Powell to your 4th of July parties!

On the SDCC floor we caught up with creator of The Goon, Eric Powell, to talk about what could be the end for one of comic’s biggest cult icons as he wraps up The Goon: Once Upon a Hard Time. Read his thoughts about the challenges facing the modern creator owned era, an update from Hollywood, and some advice for throwing 4th of July parties.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 10.05.29 PM

Comics Beat: First I had a friend of mine, I told him I’d be talking to you. He grabs me on the shoulder and says “You gotta ask Eric if he’s ever lit a car on fire!” is there a story to that?

Eric Powell: Yes [laughs] and the answer is yes. No for a long time I lived in a town called Lebanon Tennessee, which is about half an hour outside of Nashville. I had about seven acres, so we lived out in the middle of nowhere and I used to have pretty epic Fourth of July parties every year. It escalated from, you know, just having a bond fire to an entire like living room suite that we set on fire. [We] sat on the couches and took photos with the entire living room on fire. [Laughs] And one year, this was the topper. I’m not endorsing this… this is not a good idea; it’s actually a very dumb idea. We filled an old wrecked 1972 Nova with about $600 worth of fireworks and about three gallons of gas.

 CB: Wow!

EP: We had on a giant amp system… crap I’m drawing a blank. Oh, it was Jimmy Hendrix’s “National Anthem” blasting.

 CB: [laughs] That sounds like the right way to celebrate America.

EP: It was an epic 4th of July party. It was so good and so over the top that I was just like… I don’t think I should have parties any more because this one will never be topped.

 CB: Once you hit the top right.

EP: It was the pinnacle and once you hit the pinnacle, you know.

 Comics Beat: That brings me to my next question about hitting the pinnacle with Once Upon A Hard Time. We’re approaching the end of this run; are you still certain this is going to be the last story with “The Goon”?

Eric Powell: I don’t want to give too much away but if you want to consider everything I’ve done [with the character] as one story; this is definitely wrapping up what I started in the first issue of The Goon back in 1999. Now,  Dark Horse is putting out these Library editions. What’s great about it is we’ll be able to take this entire arc and have these nice hardcover collections that give you the entire story in one batch [including all the previous hard to find stuff]. But I’m not giving up on that universe that I’ve established. Like I said, I don’t want to give too much away but I will be doing some stuff that is directly connected to what I’ve established there. I’ve got a new project that hasn’t been announced yet, but will shortly, that deals with this universe.

The Goon - Once Upon a Hard Time 1

The Goon: Once Upon a Hard Time #2

 CB: That sounds awesome especially with so much to this universe readers might not pick up on. You’re not giving up the whole universe but will we still see The Goon?

EB: We’ll have to see. Read the last issue of Once Upon a Hard Time [laughs]

 CB: That’s just wrong man! [laughs]

Issue four’s had a bit of a delay; has that been because of you going back and having difficulty finding the right note to go out on?

EB: A little bit of that. There was definitely a lot of back and fourth on the script and I’m putting a little bit extra into the art. Also my schedule just got really crazy with Big Man Plans and some cover work; then it was convention season so it got a little behind. Really I just wanted this issue because it is wrapping everything up… I just wanted to do the best I can on it.

Big Man Plans #3  from Image Comics

Big Man Plans #3 from Image Comics

 Comics Beat: Very few have ever created something and even fewer with the longevity of The Goon, I completely understand. So, what’s your take on the wave of modern creator owned work?

Eric Powell: I’m really excited and happy to see so many people doing great creator owned books and to see it finally breaking out. Where you can have a book with no movie or TV tie-in selling 20 or 30 thousand copies and competing with stuff Marvel and DC is doing.

CB: It’s been a great thing for comics overall.

EP: It has, it’s helped the industry.

CB: More now than ever with stuff by independent creators there seems to be a flavor for everyone.

EP: Exactly, and I’ve caught a lot of flack talking about the need for it.

CB: [laughs] you’ve caught flack for a lot of different things.

EP: Yeah, but I’ve cost my self some work from it because I was so vocal, but I felt like I should stick to my guns and speak up. I grew up a Marvel kid. I read Marvel Comics, I love that stuff. I love the Hulk. Seeing that scene in Avengers where he picks up Loki and smashes him on the floor; I was giddy. But do I think that stuff should be given special treatment on the stands or the thing shops are solely ordering? We should be like television and we should be like film and we should have something out there everyone can like [for different audiences] to build a broader readership. Over the last five years or so it’s been exploding. We’ve got a huge female readership that’s opening up. It’s great. We need diversity, we need diversification, and the content to survive and grow.

 Comics Beat: True. With the recent partnership Dark Horse has announced. If that relationship were able to push The Goon into full feature (further than its been) would you come back and do another story to go along with it?

Eric Powell: Well we’re still working on our animated film. Tim Miller who’s the director of the Deadpool movie, his company Blur Studio, along with Jeff Fowler has been trying to get this thing off the ground. We’re still trying to get a studio behind it while finishing edits on the animatic we funded through Kickstarter. They’re putting together a package with Fincher again and going out and doing the hard sell. We’re still pushing it and trying to get this thing done.

CB: Well we hope to see it sooner than later considering you won’t tell me if I’ll ever get another Goon story. Thank you Eric Powell for talking with us; and every brutal, hilarious, and captivating moment since ’99. 

Once Upon a Hard Time #4

Once Upon a Hard Time #4

Ladies and gentlemen, Eric Powell has been on a hell of a run with The Goon and we can’t wait to see how he brings it to a close. It’s not too late to jump into the world of The Goon. Once Upon a Hard Time #4 comes out August. His other current project, Big Man Plans, published by Image Comics is also in stores now. Pick them all up and invite him to your 4th of July party at your own risk. 

 

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24. SDCC ’15 Interview: Brenden Fletcher Gets in Depth about Miyazaki, Music, and Continuity in his Books

Black Canary #2 (on sale 7/15)

Black Canary #2 (on sale 7/15)

By Harper W. Harris

The Fletcher-Verse: this is what superfans like to call the little corner of the DC Universe that’s penned (or co-penned) by Brenden Fletcher, including Batgirl, Gotham Academy, and the new Black Canary series. I got a chance to sit down with Brenden to discuss his inspirations, approach, and general disregard for continuity in Gotham Academy and Black Canary.

 

Gotham Academy #8 (on sale now)

Gotham Academy #8 (on sale now)

Harper W. Harris: I’ve heard that Miyazaki is a big influence on what you’re doing with Gotham Academy. What parts or aspects of those movies did you want to bring into Gotham Academy and the tone?

Brenden Fletcher: I wouldn’t say that my love of Miyazaki is something that I’m trying to put on the page of Gotham Academy, or of any of my books. But discovering Miyazaki at a young age and his Studio Ghibli films really transformed my view of what it meant to tell a story, and how to approach character and drama. I think that’s what I’m trying to bring to all of this, I’m just trying to be mindful of his approach. These books are completely different from anything he’s done. So I’m hoping that when people are examining what we’re doing with that in mind, they’re not trying to look for specific elements or anything. I will say this however: I believe that what we have in common more than anything is the fact that we seem to be drawn to tell stories about female protagonists. If you look at most of Miyazaki films…[A saxophone plays in the distance] I’m sorry, that’s “Careless Whisper” on the saxophone being played at San Diego Comic Con. You don’t expect Wham on a Friday morning.

HH: No, it’s a little early for that!

BF: But yeah, I think I haven’t really figured out why it is I’m drawn to telling stories with female protagonists, but this has always been the case. Since I started writing, every story that I’ve felt connected to has had a female protagonist. I don’t do it on purpose, it’s just what interests me.

HH: So switching over to Black Canary for a second, that obviously draws from a very different creative pool than Gotham Academy, one that you have some personal experience with. How does your experience as a rock musician inform the way you write that book and formed that character?

BF: Yeah I’ve been playing music all my life. I’m primarily a singer; I went to school for music, studied voice and classical singing. I ended up doing musical theater for years, and on the side I was always playing in bands. At one point in my life I decided I didn’t like the formal aspect so much, so I wanted to get out of classical. I wasn’t really into the musical theater scene; I liked the jobs, but it wasn’t really me. So I spent more time writing music and playing music, and working on being a better instrumentalist and that turned into some touring and getting involved in the business of music. This was never something that I could make a living out of, I didn’t become a world famous musician, but I experienced enough of the life to inform this new world I’m building for Dinah Lance in the new Black Canary book.

HH: With Gotham Academy you’re co-writing with Becky Cloonan. With co-writing, I’m always curious about the process–what is the process like writing with Becky?

BF: It’s interesting: I think we could talk about it in terms of how Becky and I work, but this is a full team effort and Karl [Kerschl] is in on the story building at every phase of the project. We start usually by going out for a coffee–I’ve got some ideas, Becky’s got some ideas, Karl’s got some ideas. We turn that into a look at where the story should be going, and at that point Becky and I create a breakdown of the issue, what the twenty pages will roughly look like. We give that to Karl, he tells us we’re wrong and we have to back and retool it until he’s happy with it. From there we give it to the editors who sometimes tell us we’re wrong. Eventually we get to scripting, and that’s another stage where Karl will fix things or tell us things are wrong–or sometimes he just doesn’t, and I’m not even kidding you, he’ll just change things on the page, just draw where he thinks it should go, and 100% of the time he’s right. Karl is an extremely gifted storyteller, great writer, an Eisner award winning writer/artist. What we have is this incredible merging of visions–actually I think we share a vision, but we merge our talents and abilities and our individual ideas to become this wonderful thing that’s Gotham Academy.

Gotham Academy #9 (on sale 8/12)

Gotham Academy #9 (on sale 8/12)

HH: It sounds like Gotham Academy is a really collaborative effort, that’s great. So when you’re writing a script for different artists, so for example writing for Annie Wu on Black Canary, how is your scripting style different?

BF: Totally different. The only reason I’m writing full scripts for Gotham Academy is because I’m collaborating with Becky and because the office requires it–they like to see a full script. With Karl, we can pretty much get on the phone and say, yeah, page twenty looks like this, and he’ll deliver it and it’ll be perfect. Annie and I had a talk early on about how she likes to approach things, and she had been working with Matt Fraction on Hawkeye for a while and wanted a script that was closer to what Matt was doing. So this is the first time that I’ve written closer to what is known as the Marvel Style. Annie wants a looser breakdown of what the pages looks like with some script beats in there. She can push and pull those things as she wants, she adds beats, moves beats, but ultimately the core of the story I’m trying to get across, the core of the movement of the characters is all there on the page.

HH: When you first started out with Black Canary, were you able to pick and choose what aspects of her past you wanted to use? Given that it’s not your average superhero story, have you found it challenging to tell the story you want to tell within the confines of continuity?

BF: I have a relatively clean approach to continuity, which is just that I ignore everything that I don’t like. I will never contradict it to the best of my ability, but if something feels off to me I’ll try my best to avoid it. I am playing into a lot of the New 52 continuity for Dinah Lance, but using it for very specific reasons which you’ll see over this first arc. I’m trying to bring it all together and make it make sense in a way that makes Dinah feel like the iconic version of the character that we know and love.

HH: She’s a welcome member to the ever-growing Fletcher-verse!

 

Black Canary #1 and Gotham Academy #8 are on shelves now, with new issues coming in the next few weeks!

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25. SDCC ’15 Interview: Mariko Tamaki talks about “This One Summer”

Mariko Tamaki

Mariko Tamaki

By Nick Eskey

Mariko Tamaki is a Canadian born artist of mixed Japanese and Jewish descent. In school she studied literature and writing, later on publishing the book “Cover Me,” as well as graphic novels “Skim” and “Emiko Superstar.”  Her recent work is another graphic novel entitled “This One Summer.” Jillian Tamaki, Mariko’s cousin, did the illustrations for both this novel and for “Skim.”

“This One Summer” gives a glimpse into the life of two young girls as they spend one summer at a cottage by the beach. We get to see them learn and experience new things, as well as see the contrast between lives of adults and kids. During this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, I got to sit down and talk about this book with writer Mariko Tamaki. Unfortunately, Jillian could not attend.

The First Second booth at San Diego Comic-Con 2015

The First Second booth at San Diego Comic-Con 2015

How long have you been doing comics?

The first comic I did was with Jillian. It was a mini-comic called “Skim.” I believe it was the early summer of 2008 I did the first mini-comic for a literary magazine in Canada called “Kiss Machine.” So… this woman, Emily Pulari, commissioned these mini-comics from women who never really had a lot of experience with comics. So we did a mini-comic through that. It’s kind of like a “test case.” Kind of like a low pressure to try something out. So we did the mini-comic of “Skim,” and that got purchased by “Groundwood Books.” And that was our first graphic novel together. That was my first work in comics.

ThisOneSummer2Did you ever think you’d get into comics?

I had no aspirations to work in comics. But I always really liked working on collaborations. I’ve actually done a lot of theatre, and I’ve done a lot of performance art, which for me was like a more accessible version of theatre. So I’ve done a lot of actors work, and a lot of work in sort of feminist collectives and stuff. I was really into the idea of working with another artist than I was in comics per say. But I would say now that I’ve done comics, I think that they’re just an incredible medium for telling stories. The way that stories get told in my experience in comics is that it opens opportunities to tell [them] in so many different angles.

What were some of your ideas for writing this story?

I grew up in Northern Ontario, Canada. And every summer, you went to the cottage. So it was this like solid, integral part of my childhood… When it comes to comics, especially with this one, I thought of the atmosphere. I felt the background would be a good setting for a story. And I’m also kind of obsessed with transitional moments. So for me, the idea of being these young girls, and having this chunk of their lives, and analyzing that part, and all the sort of changes that would happen, even if [those changes] were all going to be during this one summer of their lives… it was something I wanted to show.

Would you say this mirrors any of your life?

Well I use to go to the cottage, but I didn’t have any of those challenges. I used some things as a beginning point, and created something fictional from that. Obviously I was a young girl at the cottage, and I had the fat young friend there too, but the characters are not really that connected to my life. The experiences that they have are not my experiences, aside from the fact that I also did go to Saint Joseph in Huron, which is the park that they go to in the book. Actually, Jillian and I as part of our research (that’s what we call it, “research”), went to Saint Joseph in Huron, went to the cottage, and spent a week in Nova Scotia which is I think one of the best places to write a book.

I think the dialogue is very down to Earth, and very easy to relate to. Is there anything that was hard for you to talk about?

During the initial draft, it was sort of a struggle to write the character of the mother because it’s hard to write somebody who’s not talking about what’s bothering them. And I think that’s so much of what Jillian brought to that character in terms of the details. Even the t-shirts that the mom wears have all these details that kind of build up that character. And we sort of went back and re-edited [her] a lot, because who wants to read about this upset mom who’s just having a bad day? I think that’s like the archetype of the “pissed-off-mom” from like ancient times on. And we wanted to see the layers of that experience. That was a really challenging thing to write, and it ended up being one of the more intriguing stuff. For whatever reason, the writing for Wendy and Rose was for me kind of easy. Their banter was just fun and easy, and it’s hard to write for someone that’s just not pleasant… it’s hard to lovingly write that.

ThisOneSummer1

The kids seemed to be able to live in the moment, where the older characters were concerned with other things. How was it to show that dynamic of the two?

My archetype for stuff like that has always been the “Roseanne” show. It’s about the kids, and it’s about the adults. And the problems of the kids are not entirely linked to the adults, but their completely meshed. It’s like you have these people in this microcosm and their like push-pull on each other, where they’re struggling with the same struggles. So for me, I think it’s that kind of step forward from “Skim” to this book. That challenge of really creating a story that’s not just about the kids in this little bubble; to see these layered connections between the kids in the town, these kids in their respective homes, and all other different relationships. To me some of the most interesting scenes are the ones were something of the adults reverberate to the kids; their parents get into a fight, and that trickles down from the parents and then to the kid. And I think that sort of chain reaction is a super interesting one… It’s great to see someone on an adventure, fighting for their family or what have you, but at the same time most of our reality as teenagers is connected to our parents.

It really is interesting seeing these kids’ “bubbles” being formed and shaped by their parents.

It’s like a book about trying to be an adult, just as much for the adults as it is for the kids. These parents are trying to be adults, they’re trying to do the right thing. These teenagers are trying to be adults. And it’s all these varying groups of people that have this notion of what it means to be a grownup, and that depressing challenge of it being out of your reach.

Have you found yourself open to other avenues because of your exposure to graphic novels?

I ended up doing this short film called “Happy Sixteenth Birthday Kevin,” which is a movie about a sixteen year old Goth boy, but the cast is like me and my 30 year old friends. So I did that, because comics showed me how much I love dialogue, and I try to incorporate that as much as I can in the work that I’m doing.

“This One Summer” is available now. You can buy it online, or at your local book store.

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