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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: comics, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 1,856
26. WonderCon ’15: Exhibition Hall Highlights

By Nick Eskey

The guys of CME in front of "Deadeye

The guys of CME in front of “Deadeye”

Known for being the fan favorite of major conventions, with its relaxed nature and lines, WonderCon has been gaining in popularity over the last few years.

For this last WonderCon, I was a little underwhelmed with the pick of panel selections, so I decided to spend more time on the sales floor than I usually do. The diversity of vendors, artists, and publishers gathered here are always wonderful to see and explore. During my long exploration, I came across a few booths that I felt deserved a shout out.

C.M.E. (Creative Mind Energy LLC): I’ve seen these guys for a few years now, at both WonderCon and Comic-Con. Every time I do, it’s a great pleasure. CME is a

Design Studio Press

Design Studio Press

family business that come up with original creative content for various avenues, such as print, television, movies, and video games. The artwork of their comic books are so unique, featuring beautifully, hand drawn scenes. The work stands out and makes a name for itself. One of their latest works, Deadeye, will be coming out this June. Find a copy for yourself. [http://creativemindenergy.com/]

Design Studio Press: This publisher has been around for 15 years. The level of workmanship in each book shows why they’ve been around this long. Design
Studio Press’s content is mostly beautiful reference materials for making art and designing. A couple books of theirs that really impressed me were “How to draw” and “How to render.” Each one’s a thick piece of work; highly detailed, lots of pictures, and very simple to follow. But what really was impressive is that if you download the company’s app on your phone, and train the camera on certain pages, an AR tutorial will appear on the paper, including more than what is there. This is truly the next step in books and technology. [http://designstudiopress.com/]

Abraham Lopez himself

Abraham Lopez himself

Abraham Lopez: A picture is worth a thousand words, so goes the saying. This artist’s work is indeed worth that many words, creating a hilarious work of fiction. Using a combination of comic and Disney characters, his drawings place them in farfetched, but yes very amusing scenes and situations. During the entire convention, his booth was consistently surrounded. I myself had to buy a few of his prints. They are just that good. But beyond their subject matter, his art is well done and polished. [http://artistabe.deviantart.com/]

Even though WonderCon is over, still check these guys out. They all deserve some patronage in my book. I’d love to see them again at this year’s SDCC.

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27. Interview: Andrew MacLean and the Savage World of Apocalyptigirl: An Aria for the Endtimes

Over the Emerald City Comic Con weekend, Andrew MacLean was kind enough to take some time out of his schedule to chat with Comics Beat about his new graphic novel, Apocalyptigirl: An Aria for the Endtimes.

ApocalypiGirl_10

Comics Beat: So give us the rundown on your book. What can readers expect?

Andrew MacLean: Sure, but I’m terrible at talking about it! Basically we follow this girl Aria and her cat, and they’re on a mission to find this ancient relic that used to be a power source for the world before it kind of collapsed. So now the world is city ruins covered in trees and undergrowth and all that stuff, and the humans of the area are all really savage. So while Aria is searching for this, she’s constantly hindered by the savages, and then other groups come in… It’s tough to talk about it without spoiling anything, but that’s the jist of it. Robot fights and savage fights.

CB: So what gave you the idea for this story?

AM: Most of the things I do usually start out with a single drawing. I did a drawing as a sort of collaboration with my buddy Toby Cypress, and we did a print. It was just a girl sitting on a motorcycle with a spiked bat and a bunch of cats. So I have a character and then I wonder what world they’re in, and it starts coming to me. Once I realized what kind of world she was in, I kind of tapped into my love for Akira and Tekkon Kinkreet and the manga style.

CB: The art is beautiful – full of texture and grain. Did you use traditional tools for this?

AM: Yeah, I used ink and black watercolor for tones, on watercolor paper and then simple colors underneath that are digital. It was my first time coloring a book, so I did a lot of trial runs.

CB: You’ve crafted a pretty interesting mythos here. Were you influenced by anything in particular?

AM: I started out with a couple things I wanted this character to do, a string of events and stuff. It’s hard to say because the pieces just fall into place on their own. I like contrasting ideas, so it’s the future, but it’s a collapsed world, so I kind of wanted the old residents to feel savage. The characters kind of tell me what to do.

ApocalypiGirl_1

CB: The story is very heavy on narrative and light on dialogue. Is that just symptomatic of having a main character with only a cat to talk to, or do you naturally gravitate to the narrative style?

AM: I’m kind of like an artist who writes rather than a writer who draws. I have a lot of respect for people than can carry a story with minimal dialogue, and so I like to attempt that. I don’t even have the cat meow that much, so it’s really just Aria carrying the story – thoughts she has or just talking to the cat. It’s more the nature of the solitude of the character than anything else.

CB: There are these striking panels littered throughout the comic that are just eyes, colored with blues and reds. It sort of reminded me of the eyes in The Great Gatsby, which in the book is a pretty dismal symbol. Anything meaning in those panels?

AM: It’s not so much The Great Gatsby… The savage boy in the comic – there wasn’t really enough dialogue in the book for me to name him – but to me he was always “Little Dead Eyes,” so the idea was that you look at him and think he’s a little nuts, even before you see his actions. So I like that Aria only had to see him once and she was kind of already haunted by him, and so his eyes always come up again and again. The two characters are head to head, so it seems only right that we could see that through her eyes meeting his on the page. It’s a little more subtle than my other stuff.

CB: There’s definitely a musical undercurrent to this work. Could you tell us a little more about your choice to have Aria sing opera throughout the book?

AM: Mostly I just chose them so I could have something that was public domain, first and foremost. The songs I wanted to sing were more like Three Stooges songs, because that’s more in line with the personality. I went to college for music, so I just have an affinity for it. I didn’t go into it thinking I wanted to use music, but the dots just kind of connect on these things. I don’t have a map. There’s no rhyme or reason to half the stuff I do, haha.

Apocalyptigirl: An Aria for the Endtimes will be released by Dark Horse Comics on June 2, 2015.

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28. So let it be Written by Robert Venditti: Valiant Reveals the Book of Death

unnamed

Valiant has just announced the first plot details to the upcoming crossover known as Book of Death. Earlier this week, the publisher ran some teasers from the event, but Valiant finally has the big reveals. Of course, with the nature of comic books being as they currently are, we can’t really talk about this crossover without spoiling the one previous.

THE VALIANT SPOILERS COMING 3….2…1…..

The (last) Geomancer was The Valiant, and she has the book of the future of the Valiant Universe. While the Eternal Warrior sought to protect her, the Book of Death is going to be hard to shelter for very long. There are a lot of teases for this crossover included in the short press email delivered from Valiant. Ninjak dead? A new person within the X-O Armor? The redemption of Toyo Harada? A fate beyond death for Bloodshot? These are the questions that are asked in the one-shot issues riffing on the ending for the upcoming series in the Summer months.

Whew! This is set to be a big four issue crossover written by Robert Venditti containing art from Robert Gill and Doug Braithwaite. The first issue ships in July. Take a look at the tie-in series for the event that are all one-shots teasing upcoming events.

BOOK OF DEATH #1 (of 4)

Written by ROBERT VENDITTI

Art by ROBERT GILL & DOUG BRAITHWAITE

Cover A by ROBERT GILL

Cover B by CARY NORD

Cover C by CLAYTON CRAIN

Cover D by JELENA KEVIC-DJURDJEVIC

Character Design Variant by PAOLO RIVERA

Valiant Icons Variant by PERE PEREZ

Artist Variant by PAOLO RIVERA

Blank Cover also available

$3.99 | 40 pgs. | T+ | COMING IN JULY!

 

BOOK OF DEATH: THE FALL OF BLOODSHOT #1 (ONE-SHOT)

Written by JEFF LEMIRE

Art by DOUG BRAITHWAITE

Cover A by RAFA SANDOVAL

Cover B by JEFTE PALO

Variant Cover by DAVID YARDIN

Variant Cover by TOM FOWLER

$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | COMING IN JULY!

 

BOOK OF DEATH: THE FALL OF NINJAK #1 (ONE-SHOT)

Written by MATT KINDT

Art by TREVOR HAIRSINE

Cover by KANO

$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | COMING IN AUGUST!

 

BOOK OF DEATH: THE FALL OF HARBINGER #1 (ONE-SHOT)

Written by JOSHUA DYSART

Art by KANO

Cover by RAUL ALLEN

$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | COMING IN SEPTEMBER!

 

BOOK OF DEATH: THE FALL OF X-O MANOWAR #1 (ONE-SHOT)

Written by ROBERT VENDITTI

Art by CLAYTON HENRY

Cover by CARY NORD

$3.99 | 32 pgs. | T+ | COMING IN OCTOBER!

1 Comments on So let it be Written by Robert Venditti: Valiant Reveals the Book of Death, last added: 4/10/2015
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29. Review: Bringing Together The Four Points #1

The Four Points #1

TheFourPoints-01_vol1-AspenStory: Scott Lobdell

Art: Jordan Gunderson

Inks: John Ercek, Mark Roslan

Colors: Valentina Pinto

Letters: Josh Reed

Publisher: Aspen Comics

 

 

Despite the criticisms of delayed books and hyper-sensualized characters; for more than a decade, for better or worse, Aspen Comics has let their books speak for themselves. They, along with companies like Boom! and Image, bring new characters for the part of the market that doesn’t want the same old pliable superhero comics. Their newest debut, The Four Points, builds on the notion of a shared universe inside the publisher.

Issue one introduces three captivating female characters. Gia Sorentino, the institutionally committed daughter of billionaire philanthropists. Her Earth element powers put her in tune with everything that normal people can’t hear. Ivana Ghoul, a near invulnerable Russian wind rider with some deeply rooted trust issues. Then there’s Ara, a woman who uses her command over fire to pass herself off as a goddess on an island in the south pacific. Gia must bring these volatile elements together to defend the planet from the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Our heroines will have their ranks completed after being joined by a character very familiar to anyone that’s read the publisher’s flagship titles.

Writer Scott Lobdell introduces a hot concept to Aspen with Four Points. While it certainly isn’t revolutionary to bring a group of superpowered females together to fight evil; here, it’s solid. The opening chapter is all about the gravity of the situation and the unstableness of the elements he’s trying to bring together. Four Points #1 speeds through a lot of exposition and teases the potential chilling evil and blockbuster action we’ll see in the series. It moves so fast and drops the audience on a cliffhanger in a way that’s reminiscent of the writer’s X-Men work.

Jordan Gunderson’s art is a bit of a mixed bag of fine simple visual comic storytelling and large scale spread. The designs of the characters have that necessary majestic fantasy touch the publisher is known for, but you’ll see a few disproportional figures that jar you a bit. He did some excellent work on EA: Assassins, so I can’t wait to see what he does with bigger action scenes in this title, especially if he has the lead time he needs.

Four Points is a bit of a surprise. As a reader, Lobdell’s work has always been strange to me. He’s a writer that’s either into what he’s doing or he’s not, and it’s very easy for the audience to pick up on which Scott you’re getting. This new book feels like something he’s put a lot of energy into and even the slow opening is enough to invest your precious comic time. Four Points is an idea that’s right place at the right time for Aspen, which hopefully builds on everything in these pages.


Find out what Dave’s four points are on twitter, three of which are pizza toppings, or complain with him about the cringe worthy moments of looking at a computer screen when you type in an incorrect password.

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30. MATT CHATS: Rob Guillory Chews on His Recent Marvel Work

Welcome to the weekly feature MATT CHATS. I’ve been doing regular interviews for awhile now, but now they have a name! Every Tuesday I chat with someone involved in the making, distributing, marketing, selling, etc. of comic books. For this inaugural edition, I spoke with cartoonist Rob Guillory.

Six years into a run pencilling, inking and coloring the almost-monthly Image series CHEW, Rob Guillory has started to illustrate interior pages for other titles. Most recently Guillory added his artistic flair to a story written by CM Punk in the Thor annual and a backup story in Howard the Duck written by Chip Zdarsky. I spoke with Rob about the toll of a 60-issue epic, collaborating with writers other than John Layman and a whole lot more.

Self_port

Six years in, have you been getting antsy to do interiors for comics other than CHEW?

Not really antsy, so much as just excited at the prospect of starting something totally new. It’s also a bit scary. CHEW‘s been my backyard for a long time now, so jumping into a new world with new characters is challenging and pretty thrilling.

A lot of writers and artists get worn down writing or drawing an epic and go on to focus mostly smaller stories. Right now, do you think you would do another 60 issue series, either in the near future or ever?

I doubt it. For a few different reasons. First off, 60 issues is a massive commitment, obviously. So I can’t really grasp committing another 6-8 years of my life to one series at this point. That may change, but that’s where I’m at right now.

Plus CHEW was in the rare position of having the sales to sustain such an extended run. It’s very, VERY rare for a book created by two virtual unknowns to have a loyal monthly fanbase big enough to warrant 60 issues, and that’s been a major blessing. These days, books typically debut with high numbers and major press attention, then peter down quickly and quietly. That never really happened with us. Our monthly numbers over 6 years have been very steady, and our TPB and digital sales continue to grow. Could we have the same luck with another 60 issue series? Who knows, but it doesn’t happen much for creators that aren’t at Kirkman or BKV levels of name recognition. Time will tell, but I sort of lean toward doing 20 issue stories in the future.

Chew1

How anxious are you to draw that last page of CHEW?

Not anxious at all, really. It’s not really something I think too much about. There’s still 15 issues of CHEW left, so I’m just focusing on making those better than the 40-something issues that came before. We’ve had a strong run, and we need to end it in a way to honors what we’ve built. The last page will be here soon enough, though.

Thor Cover

What was your relationship with CM Punk prior to working together on Thor?

We were mutual fans of each other’s work. I’m a big wrestling fan, and CHEW is one of Punk’s favorite books. At some point, we crossed paths and hit it off. I never expected that friendship to eventually lead to me working with him at Marvel, but life is weird that way.

Can you describe what CM Punk’s script was like?

Punk worked Marvel Method, with a lot of general scene description, but no panel-by-panel work. So I got to handle all the pacing and layout for the issue, which is very different than my CHEW work, but it worked well on this story. Punk’s really good with words, so his script was very conversational and super-articulate, and I got what he was going for right from the beginning. And he was smart enough to play to my strengths with a ton of physical comedy and character acting. He did good.

Howard

You’re at a kind of similar stage of your career as Chip Zdarksy, coming off successful Image books and starting to do work for Marvel. With that in mind, what was it like drawing from his script?

Well, at this point, after 40-something issues of drawing John Layman’s scripts, drawing anyone else’s is always a little weird. But Chip’s script was great. Brimming over with absurd, silly detail that was right up my alley. Plus, using Luke Cage and Iron Fist was a personal request of mine, so that was fantastic.

Mephisto plots

You’re known for adding a lot of extra elements to CHEW. Did you add any to the Thor or Howard the Duck stories?

Yeah. With Thor, there are a few little background gags in the tavern where it takes place. Nothing crazy, just a few subtle Easter Eggs. My personal fave is getting to change Mjolnir’s inscription to “DO YOU EVEN LIFT, BRO?”, which I’m not even sure the Marvel guys caught. Plus, I came up with all the Marvel-themed drinks that Thor and Mephisto are chugging. Sorta my love letter to various Marvel characters.

And with my Howard story, which takes place in a court setting, Cage and Iron Fist’s lawyer is basically Ben Matlock, and Howard’s is a skeevier Saul Goodman. These are all little details that very few people would catch, but they’re there, and it’s always super-rewarding to see readers catch them.

Mephisto arrives inks

Do you enjoy handling all the art duties, or was that more something that was necessitated by the low budget for CHEW?

Well, finding dependable creative partners was nearly impossible when I was a young, aspiring artist. So early on, I just decided to do it all myself. I never thought it would turn into a creative advantage, but it really has. Nowadays, I have a color assistant, Taylor Wells, that handles my flatting and cleans up my rough shadow work. But I still handle the bulk of my coloring work, and I love it.

Do you ever want to either just draw or just color a comic book, or has total control over art duties become kind of addictive?

It’s a give and take. On one hand, I love the creative control. On the other, I love the idea of taking the week that I usually dedicate to coloring and napping instead, because it IS an intense work schedule. I can see myself hand-picking a colorist for a future project, just to see how it feels. We’ll see.

Mephisto arrives pencils

Is there any inclination to start writing comics, either for you or other artists to draw?

Yes. I wrote a lot of my own pre-CHEW work, and I’m already in the rough stages of writing my own post-CHEW work.

Do you know what your next big project is after CHEW?

Not yet. Layman and I have toyed with the idea of doing something else, and I’m sure we will eventually. I expect to pitch Marvel a mini-series at some point in the next year. After that, I’m expecting to do another creator-owned series. Again, we’ll see. Part of me wants to take a little time off after CHEW ends, but I’m a workhorse, so that may not happen. I may jump right into new work the day after I draw the last page of CHEW. Who knows.

You described your intense work schedule on Multiversity recently. What keeps you going making comics, day after day after day?

Aside from earning a living, this is just something I’ve always done. I was beating myself up for a self-imposed deadline for a mini-comic that only I would see when I was age 9. I’m built for comics. It’s a love-hate relationship sometimes when the deadlines get hard or some comic outrage blows up on Twitter, but I’ve been on a path to make comics from the very beginning. I just love it.

ROCKET RACCOON #10 GUILLORY WTD VAR

You can follow Rob Guillory on Twitter @Rob_guillory and buy original art and more at his online store. I encourage you do both.

1 Comments on MATT CHATS: Rob Guillory Chews on His Recent Marvel Work, last added: 4/9/2015
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31. Jay Hosler Interview: Comics are the “most powerful” medium for teaching

In Last of the Sandwalkers, Eisner nominee Jay Hosler combines his love of comics with his academic background in biological sciences and teaching.  The result is a graphic novel aimed at students, ages 10-14, that has the intellectual weight to interest a much wider audience. Tackling themes like creationism vs. evolution, space exploration, and more, Last of the Sandwalkers features a pack of beetles searching for life beyond their home. With the graphic novel releasing today, we spoke with Hosler about the inspirations for the book and the utility of the graphic novel in the classroom.

What’s your “secret origin” in the comics industry? Have you always been interested in sequential art?


Like most kids, I was drawing at a very early age. The only difference between me and most of my peers wasn’t really the quality of the work so much as the fact that I never stopped drawing as I got older.

I have early memories of reading Tintin and Charlie Brown at my Grandmother’s lake cottage in northern Indiana. Grandma wasn’t a comics fan and I don’t think my mom or her siblings were either, but for some reason she had hardback volumes of Herge’s “The Secret of the Unicorn” and Schulz’s “Peanuts Treasury.” I would read and re-read those over and over.

I can remember being fascinated by the emanata each cartoonist used; squiggly lines and stars when someone got pegged in the head or sweat droplets flying into the air when they were nervous or tired. I started to reproduce those elements in my own drawings. Suddenly, all of the dinosaurs I was obsessively drawing were blushing, sweating and staring at stars circling their noggins.

It wasn’t until I was in second grade and got my hands on Marvel Team Up #19 that I started emulating sequential art. Stegron the Dinosaur Man drew me to the comic, but Spider-Man made me stick around for more. I started trying to tell stories with multiple pictures. These tended toward humor more than adventure stories and given my love of Peanuts most of what I tried to do was comic strips.

In high school, college and graduate school I did comic strips for the school newspapers. Unfortunately, they were pretty banal stuff; this class is hard, I can’t get a date, the bookstore charges to much, bad puns, etc. In the last 30 years, I’ve managed to shake all of those themes except bad puns. By the time I was in graduate school, I was doing a daily comic strip called Spelunker for the Notre Dame newspaper as well as a weekly strip called Cow-Boy for the Comic Buyers Guide. The problem is that I was really feeling the constraints of doing a four-panel strip and I wasn’t very good as a gag-man. I wanted to try something longer.

So, along with the editorial cartoonist at the Notre Dame newspaper and a fresh-faced aspiring writer named Bill Roseman (now of Marvel fame), I decided to give comics a try. We self-published a single, 22-page issue of Wired Comix. The comic contained three stories and was as well received as one could expect for something with such limited distribution. This whetted my appetite for more.

Eventually, I would make a 72-page issue of Cow-Boy that featured seven original comic stories. I loved it, but it was still primarily goofy humor and a super hero parody wasn’t really contributing anything new to the medium. Maybe it was the scientist in me, but I wanted to make a novel contribution to comics in the same way I was trying with my research to add a little something novel to our understanding of insect physiology. It was at this point that I made the leap addressed in the next question…

At what point did you decide to bridge the gap between your love and science and cartooning?

After I had gotten my doctorate, I stayed at Notre Dame for a year and taught a few classes. After getting your degree, the next phase of a scientist’s career usually entails postdoctoral work in another lab, so I was casting about for possibilities. I managed to land a position at the Rothenbuhler Honey Bee Research Laboratory at Ohio State University (sadly, no longer there, but not because I broke it).

My graduate research had focused on how insect muscle function was affected by low temperatures, but the work at Rothenbuhler would focus on how regions of the bee brain processed floral odors. To prepare for this work, I decided I needed to bone up on my knowledge of honey bee biology, behavior and natural history. Mark Winston’s book “The Biology of the Honeybee” was a revelation. Not only was it comprehensive and interesting, but it inspired me. I remember thinking, “Someone should do a comic about bees!” It wasn’t until I was a year into my postdoc that the little light bulb went off over my head and I realized that that someone could be me.

I wrote and drew the first issue of Clan Apis and submitted it for a Xeric Grant.  Several weeks later, I got the news that it would be funded. In fact, I received that news in the same week that I received funding for a three-year grant form the National Institutes of Mental Health to fund my research and my salary. I think I was more excited about the Xeric.

You’ve crafted a number of graphic novels under your own publishing house (Active Synapse). What made you want to go that route from the outset? Did you find self-publishing came with its own challenges?


The decision to self-publish was ultimately made for me. No one was interested in publishing a biologically accurate comic book about bees in the late 1990s. I suppose if I had drawn them as buxom, gun-toting cyber bees I might have had a chance, but that wasn’t the route I wanted to go. Plus, I wanted the freedom to do the books the way I wanted. I used the Xeric Grant to get things started and then was lucky to form a partnership with my friend Daryn Guarino to form Active Synapse. This was great for my books and Daryn is an indefatigable business and distribution force. He is also a very talented man and has started writing his own books.

Self-publishing is difficult, expensive and it can consume your life and I think both of us wanted to channel our creative energies elsewhere.

How did the creative process for Last of the Sandwalkers compare to your previous offerings? Did you find that there were lessons learned that you could apply?

One of the big differences was the amount of ongoing feedback that I sought. I showed the first few chapters to a friend and his kids. These are bright, book loving kids and they weren’t sure what the heck was going on at the start of the book so their feedback stimulated me to add the short first chapter as a means of clarification.

When I had it half done, I passed the book around to a few cartoonists and comics loving friends to see if what I was doing was working. All of their feedback, along with my own glacially slow deliberations, helped me make the story better. Ten plus years is a long time to work on something without feedback. Thankfully I got some excellent advice and the book didn’t wind up a hot mess (IMHO).

I think the toughest thing for me was the fact that it wasn’t a strictly linear story like my past books. There were all of the hints of past event and flashback that I wanted to tie together with the present, but I wanted them to unfold like a mystery. This required mapping out the story, drawing connections, decided how much I could say and when I could say it. What was too subtle? What was too obvious? And how do I do all of this and make it appealing to the broadest audience possible? How do you entertain comic savvy folks and comic newbies? Kids and adults?

In terms of tone, my approach was the same with all of my other books. I emulated Looney Tunes cartoons. A Bugs Bunny cartoon had slapstick for me as a kid and word play and political commentary for my Dad. There was enough there to keep us both entertained and provide us with a shared experience. That is how I hope people respond to this book.

Did you feel as though you had a specific mission statement while working on Last of the Sandwalkers?



The science writer Matthew Ridly wrote a cover blurb for Richard Dawkin’s book The Greatest Show on Earth in which he praises Dawkins as a master of “wonderstanding.” I’m usually not a fan of cutesy words but this one has been a useful touchstone for me.

I want people to feel the sense of wonder I feel in the natural world. My goal is to share that excitement and to help provide them with more than just a surface appreciation. I want them to develop an understanding of how things works and how living things are interconnected and I want to have fun doing it. I also want them to forge an emotional connection with the natural world. Laughing and crying connects us to stories and the world in powerful ways. We come back to things that make feel. And if I can cultivate a sense of wonderstanding in my readers, then insects will become more than creepy crawling things we squish without a second thought. They will enrich our sense of who we are and our connection to the natural world.

When you’re creating a work as long as Last of the Sandwalkers, what exactly is your day to day work process?

My process was fundamentally the same for this book. I found a topic that captured my interest and started doing research, cobbling together notes and story ideas. I would write a script for a chapter, read it out-loud, edit, read it to my family, edit, start thumbnailing pages, edit, start drawing, edit, show the pages to my family, edit. Lather, rinse, repeat for each page. There were some false starts. I drew a version of the first chapter in a completely different, hyper-simple style that didn’t work.

For most of this book, there was no reliable day-to-day process. I could go an entire semester without having a chance to work on it at all. But the minute the semester ended and finals were in, I could get back to it.  On the first day after my final class I usually drew a page and triumphantly posted it to Facebook.

My goal was usually to get a chapter of two done over the summer, but there were times when even that wasn’t possible.  Last of the Sandwalkers took the back seat when paying gigs would pop up. I couldn’t pass up the chance to work with Kevin Cannon and Zander Cannon on Evolution any more than I could miss the opportunity to illustrate entomologist-extraordinaire May Berenbaum’s book The Earwig’s Tale. So, the beetles got shuttled to the back burner at times, but they were always in my mind percolating.

Sandwalkers-Final_100-26 (2)

Do you script first and then move on to to the illustration stage or is there another method you find works best?



The story comes first. I need to work out the balance of science and adventure so that it isn’t too insipid or too ponderously didactic. But, as I noted earlier, once the first draft is done, there is a very dynamic feedback loop between drawing and writing.

At what point did First Second become involved? How has working for a large publishing house impacted your work?

Working with First Second was a dream. Our relationship started when I met Gina Gagliano (marketing) at SPX several years ago. I can’t remember how we started talking, but I had a draft of the first half of the book at my table and after she looked through it she said, “We’d be interested in this.” I was very flattered (and a bit surprised), but at the time I was still planning to self-publish. Of course, being self-absorbed, I tucked that compliment away in my mental files for future review. When my self-publishing circumstances changed, I put together a pdf of the first 160 pages and sent it to Gina. I don’t have an agent, so this was probably a bit brassy, but fortunately I was too dumb to know any better.

My future editor Calista Brill got back to me very quickly with a proposal and we were rolling. Calista was incredibly supportive and patient and the book is better because of her. Likewise Colleen Venable (the designer at the time) was an inspiration. She worked so long and patiently with me on the cover and in the process taught me a lot about design. Her covers are great, so I just followed her lead and we arrived at a cover that is infinitely better than the one I initially proposed.

Now, I’m working with Gina to market the book. She is so on the ball, it’s tough for me to keep up sometimes! She has lined up so many opportunities for me to promote this book and I am deeply grateful.

At every step of the way I have been treated with respect, patience and creative freedom. They’ve taught me so much and new knowledge is the greatest gift you can give an academic. I feel really lucky to be working with them.

Can you explain the relationship between The Sandwalk Adventures and Last of the Sandwalkers?

It was accidental at some level. Or perhaps serendipitous, I’m not sure. For most of the time I was working on the Last of the Sandwalkers, I was using a very different title. Once the ball got rolling at First Second, we decided that my working title might not be the most effective way to go, so we went back and forth for a long time and finally settled on Last of the Sandwalkers.

In The Sandwalk Adventures, the sandwalk was the place on Darwin’s property in Downe where he would take a noon stroll and talk to the follicle mite in his left eyebrow.  In the comic, the sandwalk is where they would have adventures (both imagined and real).

In Last of the Sandwalkers, the main character is a desert beetle, or sandwalker, named Lucy. And, as the title implies, she is the last of her kind as far as she knows. Calling Lucy a sandwalker was meant to be a shout out to the Darwin book, but it really inspired my editor Calista Brill and she eventually convinced me that this was the better title.

That said, there are some interesting parallels. Darwin walked a sandwalk, so he was a also sandwalker. Lucy is a scientist living in an island oasis that is surrounded by a sea of sand. She eventually leaves the island and makes discoveries that reshape our view of nature. Sounds to me a lot like Darwin leaving England on the voyage of the HMS Beagle. Clearly, something may have been at work in the back of my mind that I wasn’t even aware of.

Is it difficult to find the right balance between providing educational facts and creative storytelling? 

It can be, although I don’t think of the science I weave in as “facts.” My hope is that they are knowledge of natural history that the characters need to advance the plot or tell a joke.

As far as my approach to this is concerned, imagine a sci-fi show where the characters need to reverse the polarity of the tachyon beam to generate a ripple in subspace gravity field so that they can collapse a rift in the space-time continuum. When I structure a story, I just replace all that made-up sci-fi exposition with real natural history exposition.  When I can, I try to set the stories in the real world, just not the human real world. The trick is to be willing to look at a worm or an insect as a marvelous, mysterious thing. An alien underfoot. You have to see the everyday from a different perspective, but when you do it can be startling and breathtaking.

Teaching has taught me a lot about weaving storytelling and science together. For every lecture I give or lab I run, I need to see the story in what we are discussing. Throwing a slide on the screen that is packed with information is a universal guarantee of trigger the sleep response. Information in any field requires context and cohesion and these are the elements that stories provide. A worm isn’t just a worm, it is a necessity for aerating soil or the scourge of terrace rice farmers. It is a force of nature working completely out of our site, moving and transforming the ground beneath our feet.

These are the things I keep in mind as I write, but I can easily delude myself. After all, I can enjoy a good textbook as much as a novel and I know that makes me weird, so I read everything I write to my family. They’re the final arbiters of what works and what doesn’t. They will tell me when to dial back the science or give them more. They will tell me when things are too frenetic or confusing or when I need some more excitement or humor. If I can get it right for myself and for my family, then I’m usually pretty confident the story is in a good place. For a book this long and complicated, I also sent it to several colleagues and friends to get feedback as I worked.

What attracted you to do the graphic novel medium as a tool for teaching? Have you seen an increase in the use of graphic novels as an educational tool?

Our brains are wired to receive information as pictures. When I give public talks, I often throw up a slide with a block of text describing an item. The definition I use comes from the dictionary and after about thirty seconds of reading and processing a few people raise their hands to tell me what it describes. Many other are still working it out when I through up a picture of a cog and everyone in the room immediately gets it.

Our brains also appear to be wired for story. Work form cognitive scientists is starting to demonstrate the importance of storytelling for memory formation and contextualizing information.  Stories scaffold ideas for us and help us hold onto to those ideas and use them effectively.

As McCloud points out in Understanding Comics, we know this intuitively because we give kids picture books. Recognition of the power of pictures doesn’t go away when kids get to college. I pick the textbooks I use based on the quality of the illustrations and figures. But, the storytelling component is all but gone. For me, comics sit between these two extremes and I believe comics are the most powerful of all three possibilities for engaging and entertaining students and casual readers.

Of course, the medium itself is just fun and the best learning happens when we are enjoying ourselves.

The protagonists in this story are battling views very similar to creationism. Do you feel creationism is still a threat to our educational system?

Absolutely. We live in a free country and people are allowed to believe what they want to believe. You want to believe that the world was created in seven days? That’s your right. But that’s a belief that has absolutely no scientific evidence to support it.  Of course, that isn’t an issue for creationists, because faith in that belief does not require evidence.  The problem comes when believers start demanding that their faith-based beliefs be taught as a alternative to theories that are grounded in over a century’s worth of scientific evidence from paleontology, developmental biology, geochemistry, physics, anatomy, physiology, behavior, etc.

A science class is for science. Unfortunately, having the freedom to believe what you choose and pursue your beliefs without persecution doesn’t appear to be enough for some folks. They feel compelled to try to change laws and influence school boards and teachers to make their religious beliefs a part of the science curriculum.

Proponents of creationism are constantly changing their tactics looking for ways into the classroom, so we need to be vigilant. Remember Intelligent Design? It was all the rage in the 1990s. Proponents promised they would have experimental proof that never came, but in the meantime they managed to get their philosophy into several classroom.

The even bigger problem is that creationists have written the playbook for science denial. Their tactics have been modified and deployed by everyone from those denying climate change to the anti-vaccination crowd.

Is it difficult to espouse a pro-science message without creating an anti-religion tone? Or is that the point? 

Any pro-science message is going to be read by someone, somewhere as anti-religion. It is true that Lucy butts heads with a religious fundamentalist in Last of the Sandwalkers, but I’d like to believe the story is more generally about the conflict between science and the powerful individuals and organizations that oppose it. The majority of those that seek to discredit climate change scientists and their results do so for economic reasons, not because of religious objections.

As I read, I definitely got a space/sci-fi feel from the book, even though it all takes place in small corners of the Earth. Last of the Sandwalkers is about the pursuit of science and exploration – is any of it meant as a commentary on the low levels of government funding in NASA and space exploration? 

You bet. The human race has become like a comfortable older couple. We don’t going anywhere anymore! We need to dream again about the worlds beyond our comfort zone. When we are at our best when we are exploring and seeking to understand the universe better. Plus, the work done to get ourselves into outer space invariable generates technologies that make life better for us that stay on Earth..

…And lastly, we have to ask, just for fun. Any interest in the upcoming Ant-Man film?

Absolutely! The current Ant-Man comic is a hoot and it has some well drawn ants. Plus, I did do my own short Ant-Man fan film…

https://vimeo.com/27549579

0 Comments on Jay Hosler Interview: Comics are the “most powerful” medium for teaching as of 4/7/2015 5:28:00 PM
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32. Wondercon’15: Pushing Fun Forward Asks the Question, “What Does All-Ages Mean?”

Lately the words “All-Ages” have become a buzz phrase without a clear definition. Some publishers use it to brand their comics for kids, while others have geared it towards a polarizing audience outside of anything branded “Mature”. BOOM! associate editor Whitney Leopard has recently led discussions at various cons about the importance of all-ages comics. Sunday at Wondercon the latest informative session was held; among her group for this particular one was Derek Fridolfs (Lil Gotham), Shelli Paroline (Adventure Time), Mairghread Scott (Transformers), and Melissa Paglucia (Above The Clouds).

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After a rundown of the groups first experiences as comic fans (ranging from Bone, Star Wars, and even Manga), the panel delved into the meaning of what all-ages books should be. These topics are something all comics fans that want to see the industry thrive and be around for future generations to read should be talking about. Today’s market caters towards older readers (age 18-49). Places like Boom! and IDW, who are publishing a fair amount of inclusive comics, are still too rare of an occurrence. Fridolfs talked about how children’s bookstores are carrying graphic novels and how they demonstrate how important that audience will be once the older generation phases out. When you think about it, regular Batman books aren’t even for kids. Children who’ve only heard about the Nolan movies don’t always get to see them cause some parents might not feel like it’s appropriate for their kids, but every child has heard of the character and might want to see it in whatever form they’re allowed.

Typically words like “silly and fun” are associated with all-ages, but can there be heavier stories in this genre? One of the points made by the group is how polarizing this type of book is suppose to be. Even though books like these should be inclusive for kids; if the heavy stuff is handled responsibly then the story is even more valuable for that piece of its intended audience. Editors are around to decide if you’ve gone to far or not far enough as a storyteller. Paglucia gave the example about how David Peterson’s Mouse Guard nails an all-ages aspect by how immersive the world is for kids to look at while teaching them about real issues in life they’ll have to encounter.

Another stereotype of all-ages books is there association with licensed properties such as Adventure Time, My Little Pony, Skylanders, etc. Is there room for original material in the world of all-ages? While the group believes there is a market for it; licensed properties have a “joy” according to Scott.  One of their latent effects is the ability of the books to sort of trick kids into reading. In today’s –YouTube let’s play– world most young children have dismissed the pleasures of reading, but they’d be open to reading a comic about their favorite licensed property and that could be a gateway into reading other things.

According to the group another challenge in pushing all-ages comics lies with the retailers. Every shop is different and some merchandise smarter than others. Some shops separate them out from the rest of their catalogue, while others hide them in the back. According to Leopard, smarter shopkeepers make sure they’re featured and within reach of the audience they’re intended for. One problem that still puzzles creators who want to do all-ages books is the trepidations shown by publishers. Scott’s first issue of Guardians of the Galxy animated sold out in stores to everyone’s surprise but her’s. Most major publishers spend much of their time enticing older readers that they find themselves afraid of alienating them by making comics geared towards younger audiences. “I’m surprised it took DC years to grasp the idea that little kids like Batman,” according to Scott.

As for the future of all-ages comics, Fridolfs feels small companies are picking up the slack of the bigger publishers, but keeping the books accessible is paramount. In addition to making them easy to find, it also means keeping the stories short and always welcoming to new readers. Scott would like the medium to expand beyond the boundaries of the page, making them have a level of activity or immersion that lets people play with the story. Even if imploding Transformer cupcakes would never be done in the book, kids should be able to express that idea somewhere if they really like the characters. Paroline wants to see more educational comics and long form stories such as the coming of age nature of a Harry Potter type story. Paglucia had ideas for shops to be more inviting for younger readers by having rewards programs such as “tell us what you like” and “read so many and you’ll get a free one”.

When the subject of recommendations for books came up; the mix was eclectic ranging from Gotham Academy to Reed Gunther. In a way Gotham Academy is a true all-ages book even though it isn’t marketed that way.

The panel was a great subject for comics fans.  By no means is all-ages a new concept. When you think about it, the medium itself began as all-ages. Superhero comics were intended for kids but military soldiers in war time were reading them on the front lines in WWII and back then the books were always geared towards attracting new and young readers.  As an industry, comics should return to that aim. Once the industry figures out how to really once again say comics are for everyone, they can start saying comics go beyond all-ages to all-races and all-sexual orientations.

I hope this panel appears at every show. If you’re a fan that wants to voice your opinion on the future health of comics publishing, it’s an opportunity to engage with one of the most responsible gatekeepers in the industry.

 

2 Comments on Wondercon’15: Pushing Fun Forward Asks the Question, “What Does All-Ages Mean?”, last added: 4/6/2015
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33. Bookmark: What Were Comics?

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A dream team of comics scholars has been assembled, including Professor Bart Beaty, Unflattening author Nick Sousanis, and asst. professor Benjamin Woo, and using funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and The University of Calgary and Carleton University they’ve launched a website called What Were Comics? which will…well, it’s best to let them explain:

Our proposed project is the foundational step in a larger program of work that seeks to reorient the study of comics (comic books, comic strips, graphic novels) by introducing data-driven research to the field for the first time. During this phase of the research we have two specific and inter-related goals: first, we will create the most comprehensive online open-access research tool for the study of the American comic book; second, we will draw upon the data produced by this tool to rewrite the history of the American comic book as the development of a set of styles and techniques that existed across the industry as a whole. By exponentially expanding our sample set, we will shift the study of comics away from the broadly humanistic study of exceptional works and towards a more rigorous focus on works that typified cultural production over time. This perspectival shift in method will produce new theories of the comic book as we facilitate a move from asking the theoretically abstract question of “what are comics?” to the empirically-grounded question of “what were comics?”.


Now, what does that mean?

With this project, we are proposing to study a randomly generated sample of American comic books produced between 1934 and 2014. Specifically, we will study a statistically significant sample from each of those eighty years. In the first phase, we will code a series of relevant pieces of data (number of pages per issues; numbers of stories per issue; numbers of panels per page; number of word balloons per panel; number of words per balloon). During the second phase we will be looking at data that is more subjective and more difficult to quantify (for instance, typologies of panel transitions). In the final phase, we will draw upon the data set to author a study of the evolution of comic book styles over time.


For a start, they’ve counted all the 9-panel pages in Watchmen. You may have thought ALL the pages in Watchmen had 9 panels, but it isn’t so! Can you guess which issue had the most 9 panel pages? And WHY?

This is gonna be great.

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34. 24 Hours of International Comics: Run Freak Run (Berlin, Germany)

Run Freak Run

By Victor Van Scoit

Usually when you find a web comic it doesn’t have the vision and scope of Run Freak Run. I can’t recall when I found it – only that I did. Run Freak Run’s visuals were what initially drew me in with its great use of ink. Even more incredible was that in this digital age Run Freak Run’s pages are all made with paper and ink. After admiring the art, then like most web comic discoveries, you click on that link that says “New Readers Start Here!” That’s when I became hooked on the story and even it’s interesting use of lettering and type placement.

Run Freak Run is a dark fantasy set in 17th century Spain where supernatural beings live amongst the land. By orders of the Queen all of these freaks are to be hunted down by inquisitors to be judged,and punished by the Holy Inquisition. One such Inquisitor, Two, is a young woman that was raised in the monastery and has superhuman strength, a crazy chain whip and a mission to hunt these freaks. Two begins to have issues with this as not only is she a tool of the Holy Inquisition – she’s a freak.

Run Freak Run

If looking at some of the pages doesn’t turn you on to checking out Run Freak Run, then maybe reading about the creators’ passion for the project will. Creators Silver Saaremaeel and Kaija Rudkiewicz work in the video game industry and are based in Berlin, Germany. Writer Silver answered a few questions to help fill in what drives the team.

Victor: I don’t remember when I started following RFR. I simply know it’s one of only five web comics I actively read. And it’s the only one with such a large vision. Where does the passion come from?

Silver: Our first inspiration, the real reason to start RFR was because we had a day job. We both work in the games industry, and while it’s great fun and challenging, it’s also very rigid because you can have up to 200 people in your team, and everything you do is a dependency to others. Everything’s under fairly tight deadlines with the sole intention of getting the game out, and hence creative expression is a risk for production, and very frustrating to manage with that many people. :)

But nevertheless, we still had that creative spark inside us and a will to tell our stories, exactly the way wanted, without compromises, and to be as experimental as we wanted.

Run Freak Run

Victor: There’s definitely some strong work being put in yet how do you balance that with your day job?

Silver: Well, the most useful skill we’ve learned from games industry is production skills: we can plan, schedule and keep to the deadlines. We split the work so Kaija only draws and inks, while Silver writes the script, edits, does the advertising, and website adminstration. We split blogging as evenly as we can! But if there’s any secret sauces to all of this, it’s that we have practically zero social life – it’s cruel, but if we want to create stuff, then we really need to just sit down and work on it. :)

Victor: Initially I was drawn in by Kaija’s work. There’s just something about clean lines and dark ink. Then there was imagery. That’s when I started to slowly make my way through the story and the pacing of it all. Where does that come from?

Silver: The reason Kaija decided to illustrate the comic in inks was because she too was painting digitally 8 hours a day already at work, and needed a little creative change. It’s pretty much every digital artists dream to learn a traditional tool, but you can rarely justify the act in the industry financially, since especially concept art industry is all about speed and flexibility – exactly the opposite of inks. :)

The look and feel of Run Freak Run comes from a variety of places, but we do enjoy a number of things that could be said to be dark and macabre, particularly the photography in avant garde fashion industry and old fairytales and mythology. It’s really hard to pinpoint inspirations because there are so many of them, and they all come to play in different places when you most need them.

Run Freak Run

Victor: I feel like it’s the comic equivalent of that indie import fantasy movie one discovers on Netflix. Luckily there were a lot of issues for me to read in one nice chunk. What’s next for you?

Silver: Since the script for Run Freak Run was finished months ago, most of my (Silver here, halou!) focus has been on our next work – Daughters of the Witch Queen. Kaija has found a nice balance of doing 2-3 mornings a week (we do our projects in the morning, before the dayjob) of Run Freak Run, and rest of the week she’ll commit to Daughters of the Witch Queen too.We both write and illustrate it equally.

We noticed that we really liked creating deep, long stories with RFR, but since we can only keep up with 1 page a week, it’s a little frustrating – not just for us but to our readers too. And in our newest project we’re shifting things around a little. We’re making the text the focus, and also illustrate and concept as many characters, monsters, locations and magic as we can on the side. This way, we should be able to provide about 5-7 hours of content with a bunch of art work every year, compared to 2 hours of Run Freak Run during three years. Hopefully this will be a win-win to both us and our readers. :)

Run Freak Run

 

 

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35. Review: Uncanny Inhumans #0 Black Bolt Returns to his Kingdom

UNC_INHUMANS_0-720x1092 Writers

Charles Soule 

Ryan Stegman

Artists

Steve McNiven

Jay Leisten

Ryan Lee

Brandon Peterson

Colorist

Justin Ponsor

James Campbell

Marvel is adamantly trying to push the Inhumans as their premiere X-Men team, even stealing the adjective from their former property. Frankly, who could blame them with the Inhuman film coming in-house from Marvel studios as part of phase three. Marvel is even trying to rival the amount of Inhuman and X-Men titles being published with the introduction of this second ongoing known as Uncanny Inhumans with Steve McNiven artwork to boot. The publisher is even gearing up for a third title with Attilan Rising. Of course all of these stories are written by the one-man work horse known as Charles Soule – so hopefully each will be fulfilling a different sort of niche within the stable of Marvel Comics.

Soule starts his story in Portugal with a group of locals taking out the cocoons of the Inhumans. This story starts to diverge from Inhuman (the previous ongoing) when Black Bolt takes center stage. Anybody that needs to test the mettle of the writing from Soule need look no further than the scene with Black Bolt and Medusa in this issue. It’s the kind of confrontation that I have been waiting for during an extended period of time. For those that may be new to the Inhumans, Black Bolt is mute. Therefore, the hero needs to say a lot with his own actions. Soule and McNiven come up with numerous ways for their leading man to interact with their surroundings. Soule even introduces a fascinating new way for Black Bolt to interact with his environment within this tale. He perfectly utilizes the changing nature of the Marvel Universe to start showing the new Inhumans team start to change to their environment.

On a side note, I’m looking forward to the way that the comics will reflect the recent events of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. into the continuity. With so many Inhumans starting to spread their wings amongst that show, it’s fantastic to see the two starting to intersect with each other. It also seems that reading Soule’s Inhuman will enhance your understanding of this story as well. The new characters in the back-up tale are heroes from that series, but there is a deeper tie between Uncanny Inhumans and Inhuman that will likely bleed back into this story eventually. There’s a lot of crossover between these various properties, but it’s still up to the reader to decide whether or not they are interested enough to follow every little piece of the Inhuman lore.

Something should be noted regarding how Soule seems to so perfectly be able to write for McNiven. He pairs down the dialogue, and plays up the big expansive moments as such. This is good cinematic comics that would be excellent to give readers who are also trying to get a read into who the Inhumans are. This all seems especially appropriate right now as we are at the very cusp of Secret Wars, which this issue tackles head-on. McNiven’s art has a special sort of poignancy within this tale as well – noting the bleak interactions of Black Bolt and others.

The storyline written by Ryan Stegman and drawn by Ryan Lee is a good way to expand on the franchise, sort of teasing readers what they missed in Inhuman. The tale includes a few extremely notable characters for those with a watchful eye!

Inhuman is the book centered around the Royal Inhuman family that I’ve been waiting for. Black Bolt and Medusa are the Kate and William of the Marvel Universe even if they are a little…Inhuman!

4 Comments on Review: Uncanny Inhumans #0 Black Bolt Returns to his Kingdom, last added: 4/6/2015
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36. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Zac Gorman

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Zac Gorman, a life formed between Nintendo NES, and X Box 360; he played video games as a child in Detroit, MI, before settling in front of a larger screen in Chicago, Illinois. His comics filled books are Magical Game Time, and Costume Quest, both of which can be ordered here, as well as art prints, pins, & other knick-knacks.

After getting his feet wet, artistically, with SNES’ Mario Paint, Zac Gorman attended Kendall College of Art and Design.

Currently, you can find Zac working on the comic book version of  Adult Swim’s Rick And Morty for ONI Press, and he occasionally provides storyboards and character designs for Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network.

You can take a behind the scenes peek at the inner-workings of a mad genius at Zac Gorman’s website here.

Here’s a link to a recent podcast featuring Zac Gorman.

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

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37. Review: Convergence #0 is The Start of Something Big

Convergence #0

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Story: Jeff King, Dan Jurgens

Art: Ethan Van Sciver

Colors: Marcelo Maiolo

Letters: Travis Lanham

Publisher: DC Comics

 

 

Event comics are like vending machnies, sometimes you get nothing. That’s been true of more recent years stuff like AXIS, INFINITY, and Image United. The other side of that lost quarter are those books that make you glad these series exist. You’ll get a Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinity Gauntlet, or House of M where the event delivers a promise that was hyped just right. On rare occasions, comic fans can be pleasantly surprised by something going in we believe to be overhyped. That right there is the beauty of DC Comics latest event Convergence.

This zero issue gives readers an idea of what Convergence is about without really putting the gears in motion too much. Television producer Jeff King pairs with veteran comics writer Dan Jurgens to pen a prologue that answers questions you might have after reading Superman: Doomed a few months ago. Convergence #0 answers the mystery of what happened during Superman’s disappearance in the Doomed event. Readers will get a Brainiac unlike any you’ve seen before and all the Brainiacs you’ve seen before. In a way, that’s what Convergence is, everything old is new and everything new is grandiose. King and Jurgens are playing off a lot of nostalgia connected to the heart of a DC fan while trying to incorporate this new ultra Brainiac to the DCU. Seeing all the moments Superman died across all those universes is like an Easter egg hunt. Issue zero is where we get a road map of the event through New 52 Superman’s journey among the plane of domed cities. This tale is a good set up in driving home the point of what the Convergence spine series will be about and how it could potentially matter post Convergence.

Whether you love his work or not, Ethan Van Sciver was the perfect choice for Convergence. His hyper realistic style works to subtlety unify the different versions of characters we’ll see. It’s like threading popcorn through a string, each kernel will look different but ultimately you know they’re on the same line. There so many great illustrators in comics, but so few can handle the necessary scope event books need. Ethan is an artist who knows how to dial it to 11 when he needs to. Looking at these pages, the sheer level of details hidden in the panels will blow your mind. Particularly with the Daily Planets. Marcelo Maiolo’s colors are a loving compliment to all the gorgeous line work. The story has so much visual shifting that it could have been detrimental to the book, but the color work brings it all together smoothly.

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Being someone who suffers from event fatigue, Convergence #0 was a pleasant surprise. It’s the history of DCU used brilliantly as a story device and it’s one of the most visually impressive looking event books since the original Crisis. But we can’t whole heartedly recommend it without a bit of warning. The biggest reason being a zero issue should never cost $4.99. Usually these been the least expensive issues of events, sometimes even FCBD issues. This one has 28 pages of story and a 10 page guide explaining each of the universes we’ll see during the event. It’s an addition which could have easily been published online, or as a free marketing pamphlet for stores to giveaway, instead of adding to the page count. Even if this isn’t solely the reason for the price point, it certainly couldn’t have hurt their wallets to eliminate it from the printing. If you are a reader that’s been on board from the day Convergence was announced, you won’t be disappointed when you pick up the book. As for the rest of us, if you don’t mind the price point, Convergence is good… really good.

 


Dave and all his multiverse counter parts can be seen every morning grabbing a donut and coffee on the way to the office because we all got together and killed the one version who didn’t like that stuff, or on twitter @bouncingsoul217

 

7 Comments on Review: Convergence #0 is The Start of Something Big, last added: 4/3/2015
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38. Celebrate 25 Years of Valiant With an Anniversary Convention Tour

Ladies and Gentlemen we are officially in convention season! After celebrating Emerald City Comicon last weekend, it’s already time for WonderCon! Luckily Valiant is headed to the Anaheim Convention Center to take part in the festivities alongside comics fandom. The publisher is bringing along a few giveaways and prizes to the upcoming event. A tease at Bloodshot: Reborn #1 is going to be distributed in Valiant’s booth numbered #405.

Also shared is the following teaser image drawn by Tom Fowler celebrating the Valiant 25th Anniversary Convention Tour. The art features a group of heroes owned by the superhero company with Archer & Armstrong, X-O Manowar, Eternal Warrior, Bloodshot, Dr. Mirage, Faith, Livewire, Quantum and Woody, and Vincent Van Goat.

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Creators at the show include James Asmus, David Baron, Joshua Dysart, Ryann Winn, and Fred Van Lente. The first Valiant panel is for beginners labeled Valiant 101: The Story Starts Here. This gives new readers a chance to jump in on the fun in the Valiant Universe, and takes place on Friday April 3rd at 3:30pm at Room 208. The next panel is the Valiant 25th Anniversary Celebration where fans will hopefully learn more about the mysterious Book of Death down at the show. The panel takes place on April 4th at 12pm at room 211.

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39. Review: there’s life(lives) in the old(young) Doctor yet in Doctor Who: Ninth Doctor Issue 1

Cover_AWritten by: Cavan Scott

Art by: Blair Shedd

Publisher: Titan Comics

As Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor issue one opens you find yourself staring deeply into the eyes of Christopher Eccleston. The striking, and the nearly photo realistic panels, slowly pull back to reveal the Ninth Doctor. A voice over from a companion – most likely Rose Tyler – explains that the Doctor shouldn’t still be surprised by the infinite mysteries of space and time with all the traveling he’s done. And yet he is. Amazingly, after all we’ve seen since the 2005 relaunch of Doctor Who, the Ninth Doctor still manages to surprise comic readers and Whovians alike with his singular interpretation of the long running BBC franchise’s lead character. He’s curmudgeonly, but when he smiles it’s like the sun peeking from behind a dark cloud. In many ways he is the most optimistic of the modern Doctors, while also being the most troubled. So far all aspects of the character are well formed in this first issue of Titan’s ongoing Doctor Who Ninth Doctor series.

Writer Cavan Scott told us in an interview that this was a natural point to tell new stories about the Ninth Doctor because there is an obvious gap between episodes The Doctor Dances and Boom Town. But it stands to reason that every time the Doctor vworp vworps away, one could technically find a gap in which to set a new adventure. Still, it’s a solid choice to put the story here with the companion ‘dream team’ of Nine, Rose and Jack Harkness. The fan-favorite group, which sadly saw little in the way of screen time for all their chemistry together, is just as winning here as their televised counterparts. The Doctor hopes to show off Excroth: one of his many “favorite” planets. But when the TARDIS arrives at Nine’s coordinates they find themselves amid a field of floating meteors. Puzzled, the team are soon beamed aboard an enemy ship against their will and interrogated by a rather large and threatening robot. The robot pursues the group throughout the large enemy ship, at first taking them for emissaries of the race engaging in a pitched battle with the ship.

Not much more becomes apparent before the end of the book as to why these rather large robots are fighting a strange race of Centurion-centaur robots in the ruins of Excroth. But that’s okay. What I really loved about this book, other than the fact that the Nine-Rose-Jack dynamic was very well represented and scripted, was that it didn’t try to cram too much exposition and story set-up into one issue. Instead we get character development, which to me sets this story early on in the unseen adventures of this TARDIS-team. The Doctor is still calling Jack Rose’s “boyfriend,”  whereas by Boom Town Jack is flirting with Nine openly, who seems to enjoy it. Titan has really hit it out of the park with their Tenth and Eleventh Doctor comics (the latter being my favorite screen-to-page adaption) and the interplay so far between these three characters tells me it is well poised within those ranks.

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Many of the panels by artist Blair Shedd are lovely to behold. Where he gets it the most right for my money is in the multi-panel action scenes. Several of these use splash pages, overlaid with panels of standard action as well as silhouettes. These look great and move at the speed of the story’s fast-paced action. My only quibble is that while photo real, the art seems to stymie the action in several places. The body positioning sometimes looks a bit awkward, like a randomly paused frame of a film. Still, Shedd must be praised for how lifelike his drawings of the characters are. If fans of the series are pining for more stories from series one of new Doctor Who, they will pine ever the harder for seeing these faithful images of their beloved characters. The story of issue one ends on the companion-in-peril cliffhanger that is as much a part of Doctor Who as the Daleks. Count me among the Whovians now pining for the next issue of this ongoing series.

 

1 Comments on Review: there’s life(lives) in the old(young) Doctor yet in Doctor Who: Ninth Doctor Issue 1, last added: 4/1/2015
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40. Secret Wars Has a Full House of M

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Marvel announced via Hero Complex, what will hopefully be the final announcement of Secret Wars tie-in books. Secret Wars: House of M will be written by by Dennis Hopeless and illustrated by long-time X-Men artist Kris Anka.

The series set in Battleworld! will follow the premise of “if House of M never ended” and will focus mostly on the ruling family of Magneto, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. It could also mean the continuity changes of Mageneto no longer being their father will be put to the side for the sake of the book. Other mentioned characters in the series include Fing Fang Foom and Namor.

Writer Dennis Hopeless teased a bit of what we’ll see, “The original House of M is about the Avengers waking up in and then bringing down this Magneto dream world. Secrets were revealed, the family was torn apart and Wanda depowered most of the mutants on Earth,” says Hopeless. “Our story is a different thing altogether. This House of M is alive and well. Magneto, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch have the kind of complicated relationships you’d expect amongst members of a ruling family but their world isn’t crumbling around them. They drive each other nuts for all the normal reasons.”

House of M was also the last announcement among the books that were teased at the end of last year.  Though it doesn’t necessarily mean Marvel is done trying to jam more books into an already overcrowded week.

No official date was given for the book.

Are you hoping we’ve seen the last of the announcements? If you HAD to pick one of the tie-ins to read which would it be? Has Marvel sold anyone on the $500 Secret Wars bundle?

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41. The Little Comic That Could – A Conversation about How a Graphic Novel from a Small Publisher Achieved a Film Adaption [Interview]

After learning about a comic-to-movie adaption not familiar to most, I spoke with Peter Simeti, the president of the Diamond-distributed Alterna Comics whose graphic novel The CHAIR was recently adapted into an indie film. I was curious about how a book from a smaller publisher gained the attention of filmmakers and was able to fund a full-length movie. Read the answers I received below to get a sense of the kind of conditions that can lead an indie comic book or graphic novel to a turn on the big screen.

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Can you describe the graphic novel version of The CHAIR in your own words?

In terms of the plot, it’s a psychological horror/thriller that revolves around a man who believes he’s innocent of the crimes he’s been convicted of and his struggle to survive against a sadistic and psychotic prison warden and his guards. But the story itself has strong themes of isolation, the ethics of torture, morality, child abuse, domestic violence, fate and the demons of one’s past.

The CHAIR was released through Alterna Comics, where you’re the publisher. Can you describe its business model?

Alterna is a creator-owned company, similar to many other independent comic publishers. We’ve been around since 2006 (celebrating Year 10 very soon!) and in that time I’ve had the pleasure of working with over 100 talented individuals; it’s been an amazing experience.

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What was the reception like to The CHAIR when it was first released?

Back in 2008 when the compiled graphic novel was released, I remember that it did fairly well. Nothing huge or record-breaking, but it did good for a small press indie book. The coolest part, to me, was that people really seemed to enjoy it and, more importantly, they understood it. It’s a bit of a heady, trippy, downer of a book, so I’m glad that people have taken a liking to it.

Who’s behind the movie adaption? What experience do they have in filmmaking?

Chad Ferrin is the director of the film and along with myself, Erin Kohut (who wrote the screenplay), Zebadiah DeVane (Executive Producer), and Kyle Hester (Producer) — we all helped to champion this story into being made into a film. I encourage everyone to visit The CHAIR’s IMDb page for information on our cast and crew.

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How did they learn about the graphic novel, and what made it appealing to them to adapt for film?

Erin adapted the graphic novel for film (she edited the graphic novel, so of course she did a great job on the screenplay) and we pitched it to Chad Ferrin about 2 years ago. He liked the story, characters, and writing a lot – so we moved forward from that point. Chad’s previous films shared similar themes to the ones found in The CHAIR – psychological elements and stories that were ripe in metaphor.

The original Kickstarter wasn’t able to hit a funding goal of $300,000 to make The CHAIR. You successfully funded a second campaign with a $40,000 goal. How were you able to lower the budget so drastically?

Well, because of the original Kickstarter, we actually attracted many private investors that supplemented our budget. We figured out that we only needed about $140K in reality to get production going, so we worked around those numbers to hit our production goal.

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Did you have a chance to visit the set while The CHAIR was being filmed?

No! Unfortunately I was snowed in, in Massachusetts during the two weeks of filming in Los Angeles. We had a historically horrible winter here; just my luck right? [Laughs]

What kinds of restrictions did a shoestring budget put on the production?

We had to be creative with a lot of things, especially our use of space. Luckily 75% of the film takes place on death row, so it was “easy” to keep location costs down. Producer Kyle Hester did a great job on bringing along some amazingly talented people on board; I can’t thank them enough for the terrific job they did bringing this film to life.

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Can you describe how the rights were negotiated? What does a contract look like for a smaller budget independent film?

Well, I’m the majority rights holder of the film. It wasn’t sold or optioned, it’s as indie as it gets! We’ve got private investors and everyone gets a piece of the pie, but there’s no big studio involved here, even though there’s many well-known actors involved (all of which, are super nice people and incredibly talented as well).

How can a comic book creator who isn’t necessarily in the mainstream get the attention of filmmakers?

By asking and showing your work! I say this all the time – you can have the greatest story/song/piece of art ever made, but if no one knows about it, then it’ll stay that way until you put it out there. If you’re a creator, share your creations!

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What’s next for The CHAIR?

We’ll be having another crowdfunding campaign, this time on Indiegogo for post-production funds (editing, sound design, music, color correct), in late April. For details on that, I recommend everyone stay tuned on Twitter by following @theCHAIRhorror, @alternacomics, and @petersimeti.

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42. Interview: Hope Larson on Adapting A Wrinkle in Time

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By Matthew Jent

Hope Larson is a New York Times bestselling graphic novelist, an Eisner-award winning cartoonist, and the writer & director of Got A Girl’s music video for “Live Too Fast.” Her graphic novel adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic sci-fi/fantasy tale A Wrinkle in Time is out this week in paperback. Originally from Ashville, NC, she currently lives in Los Angeles.

A New Yorker profile on Madeleine L’Engle a few years ago said, “There are really two kinds of girls. Those who read Madeleine L’Engle when they were small, and those who didn’t.” Did you have a relationship with A Wrinkle in Time or L’Engle’s writing before coming on board to adapt & illustrate the graphic novel?

Larson: Yeah, I was definitely the kind who read L’Engle. I started with A Wrinkle in Time, but I ended up reading a lot of her other books, too. There was a bookstore in Asheville called Accent on Books, and my parents would often take me and my brother there after church on Sundays, since it was next to the restaurant where we often ate Sunday lunch. Accent on Books had a great kids’ section, and there was a shelf with seemingly limitless books by L’Engle. Her books fascinated me because they were more thematically complicated and edgier than most of the other books for younger readers.

Wrinkle is one of those books I returned to many times over my childhood and adolescence. I loved the sci-fi/fantasy aspects of it, and I loved the imperfect character of Meg.

What’s it like to take on something that looms so large in the culture and in readers’ lives? Did you have any hesitation in adapting it?

Larson: I was definitely nervous about adapting it. I actually declined the job at first, but when the publisher asked me to reconsider I said yes. I thought, well, I love this book and I know what it means to people, and at least I know I’ll be adapting it with love and respect.

My version will not and cannot take the place of the original, but maybe it will serve as a gateway to this story for kids who might not have found it otherwise. Hopefully those kids will go on to read the original, too.

What was your process like for scripting or outlining the adaptation?

Larson: I bought a very cheap copy of the book and completely butchered it — drew page breaks in it, highlighted it, ripped the pages out as I completed them. I put pretty much everything that’s in the novel into the script for the graphic novel. I figured I’d make the publisher tell me what to cut, but none of us could figure out what to remove without destroying what makes Wrinkle special, so we ended up with a very large graphic novel.

Does the dialogue come entirely from the text of the novel?

Larson: Very little of the dialogue changed. I tweaked a few bits for space, and I added a few bits of internal monologue for clarity. L’Engle had a background in theater, and her work makes a lot of sense in light of that fact. Wrinkle is mostly dialogue, like a play, without a lot of action or direction. This made it a good candidate for adaptation into a comic since the story was carried primarily by the dialogue, and I had a lot of freedom with the “acting”.

Did you learn anything new about Wrinkle, or your own craft in general, through adapting & illustrating this book?

Larson: It was a luxury to live inside someone else’s book for a while, and get to know it intimately. When I’m drawing a book I’ve written, a book I’ve already spent months or years scripting and editing, it’s hard to see the whole for what it is and to appreciate it. I generally have no idea if what I’m writing has much value, or where it stands in my body of work. It was nice to work on a book that absolutely, definitely was a great and important story.

I don’t know how much I really learned about craft, but I implemented workflow practices that I still use now. I put in a lot of checks and balances. I made self-care and taking care of my body — since drawing is so physically destructive, believe it or not — a priority. I definitely learned my limits on this book.

Afterwards I burned out big time and there were a couple of years when I didn’t draw much. I focused on writing and film and doing other things. While I don’t recommend burnout as a career choice, it led me to some interesting places before I found my way back to drawing again.

You do a lot with the white & black & blue color palette in A Wrinkle in Time, especially the blue/black flashback or memory panels. Can you talk about your use of color in this book and in your work in general?

Larson: Thanks! A big shout-out to Jenn Manley Lee, who did the coloring and was an all-around rockstar.

The flashback stuff was one of the trickier bits to figure out. The first chapter was one of the most challenging parts of the adaptation since it’s largely in Meg’s head and she’s reflecting back on things which have happened while lying in bed during this terrible storm. There’s a lot going on.

I’ve never been comfortable working in full color, and I also have a background in printmaking, so I stick to limited color palettes as often as possible. Flat washes of color and bold black lines have always appealed to me. Eleanor Davis and I were talking recently about how we both struggle to combine line and color in a way that feels integrated and satisfactory to us. It’s an ongoing frustration and I still haven’t figured it out.

What do you look for in a protagonist? Is there a relationship between Meg in A Wrinkle in Time and the characters you write and draw in your own books?

Larson: Yeah, there’s absolutely a through-line from Meg to the characters I write. The earlier ones, for sure. I can’t get enough of weird-outcast-girl-saves-the-day stories. These days I write more of a range of character types, but the complicated outsider is the one that comes most naturally to me.

What was the reaction like to your adaptation? Do you introduce yourself at parties as New York Times Bestselling Graphic Novelist Hope Larson?


Larson: Yes, and I have a license plate frame that says that, too.

Honestly, the response has been a gratifying one. I was locked up with that book for so long with no idea what would happen when it came out; I was just hoping not to be tarred and feathered. What’s meant to most of me is hearing that reluctant readers and kids with autism have found the adaptation useful and accessible. That validates my work as a cartoonist like nothing else.

Are there other novels or stories you’d like to adapt as graphic novels?

Larson: There isn’t a story I particularly want to adapt. I’m pretty busy with my own stuff right now, but never say never.

Can we talk about your webcomic Solo? You recently called it your romance comic, in response to the Fresh Romance Kickstarter. Is a modern narrative about love & relationships inherently a romance comic, or do you see Solo as part of the tradition of romance comics as they existed from the 1940s-70s?

Larson: I haven’t read that many of those old romance comics but I have read a few of the classic DC ones… and thought they were boring. I don’t know that Solo exists within any kind of romance comic historical context, but it’s the only story I’ve ever written that is, definitively, a love story. There are a lot of other elements, but the relationship between Leah and Wade has always been the reason I wanted to write this story.

But is it a romance? What is a romance versus a love story or a story about love? I don’t know! Just looking at modern romance novels, they’ve come a long way from the ones I used to get from the library as a kid. They can be very smart and complicated and empowering. I don’t know that Solo fits in with those stories, exactly, but it’s not radically different from them, either.

You’re releasing Solo page by page as you complete them, “the moment the ink’s dry, raw and fresh and full of mistakes,” as you said on your blog. It seems like a very personal project. Do you want to publish Solo in book form when it’s complete, or will it live exclusively online?


Larson: It’s quite a personal story but it’s not autobiographical. It’s had a looooong gestation period. It’s not The Story of Hope’s Divorce because the script predates that, but having gone through a divorce I have to pat myself on the back and say that I nailed the emotional aspects of divorce. There was a long period when I thought about shelving the project over my worries that readers would see it as some kind of tell-all, but ultimately I decided that would be a shame. And anyway, a lot of people assume my other work is autobiographical, too!

I definitely want to publish it when it’s complete. I’ve been putting together little minicomic versions for shows, which has been fun. I’m about a third of the way through the story right now, so it’s going to be a while before I have to worry about what to do with the thing.

What’s a normal workday like for you? Are you writing or drawing every day?

Larson: Right now I have a lot of different projects on the go, so I try and split my workday up. I either write in the mornings and draw in the afternoons or vice versa, with a break in between to go for a run or bike ride. If I have busywork (lettering, or flatting colors, or e-mails) I try and leave that until the evening. It really depends on what’s the most pressing item on my to-do list, though. Whenever possible, I take weekends off to rest and hang on to my sanity.

Music plays a large part in Solo — do you listen to music as you work? Did you have a playlist for A Wrinkle in Time?

Larson: I do listen to music when I work, whether I’m writing and drawing. I love music, but in a naïve way; my understanding of music on a theoretical and historical level is fairly shallow. I like writing about musicians because it’s a way to put all the ideas that interest me about being a creative person into a more appealing wrapper.

I didn’t have a playlist for A Wrinkle in Time. The main thing I remember listening to while drawing it is the Millennium seriesThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc.

What are you excited about in comics today? Are there books or creators you’re reading or looking forward to?

Larson: I’m presenting the LA Times Book Award for graphic novels this year, so I’ve been reading the finalists. I really need to read more of Jaime Hernandez’s work. I need to read more Roz Chast. I’m very excited about Sam Alden’s work right now. I’m reading Saga. I liked Megahex a lot in spite of the fact that I’m not the target audience for that book!

What’s next? What are you working on in the near future that you can (and wanna) talk about?


Larson: Hooooo boy. So many things! Next week Jen Wang and I are starting to pitch the cartoon series we’ve been working on for the past year, which is exciting! I’m finishing up the first draft of the script for a middle-grade graphic novel I’ll both write and draw. I’m working with Rebecca Mock to put the finishing touches on Compass South, the first book in our Four Points series of middle grade graphic novels, which will be out next year. The second volume, Knife’s Edge, will be out in 2017; it’s scripted, but we have a long road of drawing, coloring, lettering and revisions ahead. Those projects and Solo are the biggies, but I’m also working on a few other things that may or may not happen.

If my life is a rollercoaster, it feels like I’m just about to go over the top — and I mean that in a good way.

2 Comments on Interview: Hope Larson on Adapting A Wrinkle in Time, last added: 4/1/2015
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43. 17-Year-Old Driver Killed in Mile High Comics Crash

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Photo from CBS

CBS Denver initially reported that a woman crashed her car into Mile High Comics in Denver Yesterday. The 17-year-old woman died as a result of the crash. Nobody was inside the store at the time of the collision and no other injuries resulted from the accident. CBS News followed-up on the event with a separate video as well. The woman’s identity is currently not known to the public, but owner Chuck Rozanski placed two bouquets of flowers next to the loading dock where the accident happened. “If this was my daughter I would just be just devastated just beyond words,” Rozanski told CBS News .

2 Comments on 17-Year-Old Driver Killed in Mile High Comics Crash, last added: 3/31/2015
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44. Review: The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1 Is a metatextual masterpiece

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 Writer:
Grant Morrison
Penciller:
Doug Mahnke 
Inkers: 
Christian Alamy
Mark Irwin
Keith Champagne
Jaime Mendoza 
Colorists:
Gabe Eltaeb
David Baron

Comics aren’t meant to make readers feel guilty, but The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1 paints the fan as the individual leading the protagonist to his ultimate fate. This is it – the haunted story teased since the first installment of Author Grant Morrison’s magnum Multiversity opus. The Multiversity as it stands is my favorite ongoing series from superhero publisher DC, it’s something that’s hard to believe anyone at the Big Two could even think about publishing. Morrison has been circling a sphere of comics self awareness with titles like Animal Man for several years now, and this feels like the natural progression of all those titles. Even though the writer continues to discover new things about self reflexive superheroes, he never feels like he’s repeating himself in this work. The ideas of the Psycho Pirate and Animal Man being erased from continuity is far different from than the mechanically engineered Ultra Comics presented in this work.

Standing on it’s own merits devoid of what came before with the series, is this book good?

Yes. The story can simply be read without that context via the playful opening from Morrison and the exceptional Doug Mahnke (who’s pencils have been sorely absent from Green Lantern.) Nearly every idea within this saga is a reintroduced story beat hatched from the DC vault. Still, this hero (Ultra Comics) emerged from pretty obscure roots and builds on nearly everything that Morrison has done with the DC Universe. There is even a reference to Final Crisis directly in this title showing that Morrison takes this absurdist pillar of the DC landscape that he has built extremely seriously.

The first thing that catches my eye about The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1 is the Doug Mahnke cover. The piece is elegantly designed yet filled with utter madness reflecting some of the best covers from tales long ago. The text reading “YOU MUST NOT READ THIS COMIC,” should be the first clue that this is one of the most subversive and enthralling DC books you’re going to find this side of Convergence. What follows this is stirring image complete with a warning from Ultra Comics (our protagonist) to not finish this issue for the sake of his own very life. The storytelling stakes are set in this issue, and if we the reader choose to continue reading we’re to believe that the very fate of Ultra Comics has been decided. That’s a lot to take in over the span of just one story, and my own personal guilt regarding what happens next led is my own fault.

The first issue of The Multiversity arguably mixed the most concepts and characters and introduced us to the primary threat featured in this story – it’s essential reading to anyone left scratching their heads with this issue. This can be read stand alone as mentioned earlier, but to enjoy this text to the fullest a background in Morrison DC’s work is ideal. Ultra Comics is a book was first introduced via the live dissection from a Monitor within that issue. As a result, don’t expect this comic to be an easy read without the context of the broader series. It’s tempting to say that the threat of this book will be capitalized on as the baddie for the full Multiversity event, but Morrison has trained readers not to look at his work with such a clear lens. The Gentry are not everything that caused the bleakness in Multiversity – as the Multiversity Guidebook clearly articulated.

Mahnke’s storytelling skills haven’t missed a beat. The artist perfectly captures the detailed linework and impossibly huge facial expressions that make this work something truly special. His haunting images are best utilized in the context of horror, which this series arguably falls under. The villains contained within this story are terrifying, silly, and then maddening all in the context of one issue. Mahnke is called upon to be a really versatile artist in this experience, and does a great job on the static rendition of Ultra Comics nobly glimpsing at the reader. Also called upon are several other small flashes of violence with an exploration into the brutality buried deep within superheroes. Christian Alamy, Mark Irwin, Keith Champagne, and Jamie Mendoza bring this issue to a total of four inkers in this oversized. There are the occasional moments of inconsistency here, but overall this is some admirable work from the four mostly blending into each other and not detracting from the reader experience too much. The important part of the art in this issue is that Mahnke was allowed to draw a riveting horror comic.

There are so many different ideas crammed into this one piece of writing. The self reflexive asides kept the plot from becoming too complicated or too pedestrian. The buffer of Ultra Comics explaining his bizarre inner thoughts to the reader perfectly bring casual fans into the strange world of the title. There are so many different ways in which the story engages with readers, whether it be through Ultra Comics speech patterns, inner thoughts, dialogue trees, word balloons, and even meta-commentary within the context of the work itself.

To say much more about this story would spoil the delightful surprises waiting inside for readers to engage with. The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1 is the only comic that ever melted off my face and left me in charge of the fate of my new favorite superhero.

I’m sorry Ultra Comics.

8 Comments on Review: The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1 Is a metatextual masterpiece, last added: 3/30/2015
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45. ECCC ’15: You Absolutely Talk About Fight Club 2

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A lot of Dark Horse Comics were announced yesterday with opening day at Emerald City Comic Con, but probably none more anticipated than the one we already knew about, Fight Club 2. Saturday morning, Emerald City opened with an hour long discussion dedicated to the upcoming comic form sequel. On the panel: Artist Cameron Stewart, cover artist David Mack, Scott Allie, and of course the creator Chuck Palahniuk.
An insanely packed room at the Washington State Convention Center was treated to a preview of the upcoming book right when you walked in the door. As we knew the story picks up years after the events of Fight Club and it looks as though his son has a little bit of Tyler in him. This is also looking like some of Cameron Stewart’s best work, ever.

Dark Horse’s Aub Driver moderates the festivities. Chuck opens up talking about the FCBD issue. “It’ll be the end of the book in graphic novel form.” Allie asked Chuck about the reasoning for doing it as a graphic novel. David Mack and Chuck have been friends since 2006, after he wrote a letter to which he responded with a box of goodies and a letter. They’d been talking about ideas like life, love, and other stuff in the universe. Bendis also had a little bit to do with the genesis. From a dinner party Bendis and Mack hammered the idea of how different publishing comics is.
If Palahniuk was going to talk about Fight Club for the rest of his life then why not do it in a “Lovecraft” fashion and expand the story in two directions. Cameron Stewart came on board after 2013 when he contacted EIC Scott Allie about the book. He adapted one of the later chapters of the novel into a three page comic as proof of concept.

Chuck talked about making Stewart research what he wanted him to draw. In Stewart’s words, it was “deeply upsetting”, though he talked about how that was a good thing with this project. Scott talked about how surrealism was a big part of Chuck’s work and this was the perfect team to do it. A comparison to the last issue of Stewart’s Batgirl, a comparison was even drawn because of Barbra fighting her own mind.
A walk through of the preview interiors was done by the panel. Chuck talked about naming the character Sebastian, because he used every other name he knew in his other fiction work.

We’ll never see GUTS because you can’t literally depict someone being disemboweled.” Cameron Stewart’s work is perfectly cartoony for what the writer wants to depict.

The panel opened up for questions.
ANy other callbacks beyond Marla and Sebastian?
“Yeah”

Gas station worker went back to college?
“I’ll find a place for him now.”

Sebastian’s real name?
“Dealt with in FCBD issue”

Other books in comic medium?
“Invisible monsters by David Mack, Rand done after the Franco movie comes out.”

One of the new stories in Chuck’s upcoming collection will be a girl version of Guts called Cannibal.

what do you prefer, comics or novel?
“Writing a graphic novel is live having a terrific workshop.” Though he’s full of ideas, he doesn’t necessarily know where they’re going to end up.

CAM00175

With that the panel came to an end, we’ll be at the Marvel: Black Vortex to Secret Wars later.

0 Comments on ECCC ’15: You Absolutely Talk About Fight Club 2 as of 1/1/1900
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46. ECCC’15: Valiant opens the Book of Death

Valiant has just revealed a brand new event at Emerald City Comic Con following up Armor Hunters entitled Book of Death. The following image drawn by Robert Gill was sent as a press release. With a 25th Anniversary, the publisher is looking to celebrate their line including the old and new versions of the company. The image teases a July 2015 release and popular characters like Quantum and Woody, Archer & Armstrong, X-O Manowar, Vincent Van Goat, Ninjak, Rai, Punk Mambo, Bloodshot, Dr. Mirage, Divinity, The Eternal Warrior, Shadowman, Faith, Peter Stanchek, and more hidden in the background. The heroes lurk below what seems to be a representation of Death in the Valiant Universe.

valiantdeath-6ea60

Could we see some characters from the old Valiant line come back in this story? Is this the Blackest Night of Valiant?

1 Comments on ECCC’15: Valiant opens the Book of Death, last added: 3/30/2015
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47. ECCC’15: The SECRET WARS Marvel’s Telling Everyone About

SecretWarsThor.jpg

Marvel held a fan panel for their upcoming Secret Wars event. Their big ECCC panel wasn’t an announcement dropper, but it did reveal some key information readers have been curious about. On the deus was C.B Cebulski, Rick Remender, Kelly Sue DeConnick, and Charles Soule. Moderator, Mike Marts jokingly asked Cebulski how he wanted to start things.

“Fight!” Remender chimed in.

Remender then jumped in to talking about Hail Hydra, his contribution to Battleworld. As we knew, the book will be about Ian Rogers being caught in a Hydra ruled world. Remender gushed about once again re-teaming with Winter Soldier collaborator Roland Boschi.

Soule was up next talking about Attilan Rising He compared it to Casablanca of all things. The writer talked about the book having a civil war in it and also taking part on the Civil War piece of battleworld where Captain America never surrendered to Iron Man.

“Aviation Porn” were the words used to describe DeConnick’s Carol Corps book. The intriguing part of the story is that there are no stars in Battleworld’s sky. This made for the interesting conflict of Carol wanting to go up to explore the sky while others wanted to keep her down.

The panel then opened up to Q&A:

It opened with a point many readers have been wondering about. With the current Marvel U ending what memories and continuity will be erased?

Cebulski made it crystal clear, everything that came before will still count. They stood behind their statement of this not being a reboot.

A fan asked about the Fantastic Four’s place in the Marvel Universe and if they’d been downplayed because of the movies?

Cebulsk defended the publishing position of the films not influencing the comics. He even revealed that there would definitely be a Fantastic Four book post Secret Wars.

The question of Secret Wars being used to undo the status quo of Wolverine, Captain America, and Thor was brought up.

Remender interjected, “What comes out of Secret Wars is secret but it will not undo the work we’ve done.” The example of female Thor’s success was given. Jason Aaron will be telling that story for as long as he wants because it stuck with readers.

Another fan asked about Miles Morales being the Marvel U’s main Spidey.

Peter Parker is still going to be around, he’s not going anywhere.” Said Cebulski.

The last question was about a possible return for Richard Rider (Nova).

Mart’s answered by letting everyone know Duggan has more story to tell with the current Nova Sam Alexander.

The panel wrapped and no matter what Secret Wars is coming. Marvel did try to make it clear that if you want to skip the orbiting books and stick to the spine story; readers can do that. We won’t have to wait long to find out if that’s true as the event is rapidly approaching its launch date.

Are you relieved to find out Peter Parker will still be in the Marvel U? Do you buy that this isn’t Marvel’s reboot? Who do you want for your Captain America going forward?

6 Comments on ECCC’15: The SECRET WARS Marvel’s Telling Everyone About, last added: 3/30/2015
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48. Comics, Comics, Comics!

It's a great time to be a comics fan.

There are loads of amazing ones coming out right now. The Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz committees all recognized graphic novels as honor books this year. People are starting to sit up and pay attention to the world of comics and graphic novels, so I am here with a list for your kids (AND YOU!). Happy reading! And welcome to the comics life.

Lumberjanes is by  Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen. It's published by Boom studies in single-issue format, but the first trade paperback (collecting issues 1-4) is out on April 7th. Y'all, this one is so incredible. Feminist, funny, and constantly focused on friendship, this series is set at a summer camp and shouldn't be missed.

PrinceLess by Jeremy Whitley has been a relatively new find for me and I'm obsessed. Princess Adrienne is tired of sitting around in her tower waiting for a prince to slay her dragon and rescue her. So she and her dragon decide to go do the rescuing themselves. Completely turns sexist and racist tropes on their head, as displayed by this panel:

PRINCELESS_PREVIEW_Page2

PrinceLess hasn't been checked in since we got it. Your kids are gonna love it.

The Explorer books (there are three) are comics anthologies edited by Kazu Kibuishi, whom your students already know because they adore amulet. This trilogy asks well-known comic artists like Raina Telgemeier, Emily Carroll, and Faith Erin Hicks, to write comic shorts based on a topic. They're amazing. There's something for everyone in this series!

Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson. Kamala Khan is a Pakistani-American teenager in Jersey City who suddenly and quite accidentally becomes empowered with extraordinary gifts. She has to figure out how to handle being a typical Muslim teenager--who's now a superhero.

Honestly, when I discovered these (there are two so far), I bought them based solely on the tagline: "Yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl." Basically, that's enough to sell me, but Mirka is fun and amazing and her religion is shown as something that's part of her life, not something to be overcome or chafed against. Plus, dragons.

This is just a really small cross-section of all of the wonderful comics for kids that are being published right now. I hope you and your kids love them as much as me and mine do!

*
Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 6 years.

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49. Comics, Comics, Comics!

It’s a great time to be a comics fan.

There are loads of amazing ones coming out right now. The Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz committees all recognized graphic novels as honor books this year. People are starting to sit up and pay attention to the world of comics and graphic novels, so I am here with a list for your kids (AND YOU!). Happy reading! And welcome to the comics life.

Lumberjanes is by  Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen. It’s published by Boom studies in single-issue format, but the first trade paperback (collecting issues 1-4) is out on April 7th. Y’all, this one is so incredible. Feminist, funny, and constantly focused on friendship, this series is set at a summer camp and shouldn’t be missed.

 

PrinceLess by Jeremy Whitley has been a relatively new find for me and I’m obsessed. Princess Adrienne is tired of sitting around in her tower waiting for a prince to slay her dragon and rescue her. So she and her dragon decide to go do the rescuing themselves. Completely turns sexist and racist tropes on their head, as displayed by this panel:

PRINCELESS_PREVIEW_Page2

 

PrinceLess hasn’t been checked in since we got it. Your kids are gonna love it.

 

The Explorer books (there are three) are comics anthologies edited by Kazu Kibuishi, whom your students already know because they adore amulet. This trilogy asks well-known comic artists like Raina Telgemeier, Emily Carroll, and Faith Erin Hicks, to write comic shorts based on a topic. They’re amazing. There’s something for everyone in this series!

Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson. Kamala Khan is a Pakistani-American teenager in Jersey City who suddenly and quite accidentally becomes empowered with extraordinary gifts. She has to figure out how to handle being a typical Muslim teenager–who’s now a superhero.

Honestly, when I discovered these (there are two so far), I bought them based solely on the tagline: “Yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl.” Basically, that’s enough to sell me, but Mirka is fun and amazing and her religion is shown as something that’s part of her life, not something to be overcome or chafed against. Plus, dragons.

This is just a really small cross-section of all of the wonderful comics for kids that are being published right now. I hope you and your kids love them as much as me and mine do!

*
Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 6 years.

 

 

 

 

The post Comics, Comics, Comics! appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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50. Interview: we talk Doctors, Secret Wars and Hitchhiker’s Guide with Ninth Doctor issue 1 writer Cavan Scott

Ninth Doctor issue 1 coverIn 2005, few believed that a modern re-launch of the BBC adventure series Doctor Who would be successful. The show broadcast it’s last episode just before Christmas, 1989 after running for 27 years. In reviving the show for a new audience, the casting of Christopher Eccleston was a masterstroke, as the actor was known for his more serious roles in both television and film. Eccleston burst onto the scene as the Ninth Doctor, grabbing former pop-star Billie Piper’s hand and telling her to “run!” Eccleston parted ways with the show after only one season, something never done before or since in Doctor Who history. This left fans of Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor hungry for more. When Titan Comics announced they’d be releasing new Doctor Who comics,  fans reportedly stuffed their email inbox with pleas for the release of a Ninth Doctor comic series.

We spoke with Cavan Scott, writer of the new Ninth Doctor Comic series about what it was like to bring Nine back to life in a new story featuring fan favorite companions Rose Tyler and Jack Harkness.

Edie Nugent:  So, first question: why did you choose this particular moment in the Ninth Doctor’s timeline for your story?

Cavan Scott: For two reasons. First of all, it seemed the only natural gap in the series. Most of the episodes lead straight into each other, like one continuous story. Here, between The Doctor Dances and Boom Town, we have a definite gap where lots of stories are said to have happened that we never saw. Handy!

Secondly, we wanted Jack in there, mainly because we never saw enough of the three of them in the TV show.

Nugent:  I had that thought instantly upon seeing where this story occurred: the fans will be so excited, because this group and moment were so popular.

Scott: Well, I hope so. They’re such a well-oiled machines when we see them in Boom Town too. They’ve obviously been adventuring together for some time.

Nugent: You have a lot of dialogue describing the “science” of the situation up front. Do you have a real interest in the science part of science fiction?

Scott: That question makes me smile because I have an ongoing ‘debate’ with Doctor Who book author Nick Walters where I insist that Doctor Who is fantasy and he throws things at me shouting that its science FICTION!

You know, in this case I didn’t even think about whether there was a lot of pseudo-science in the book. I was just trying to capture the tone of the original series, where they throw a lot of pseudo-science around. I think with Doctor Who, you need to make it sound plausible even if some of the science is dodgy!

Nugent: Nine is showing his most chipper self in this book, is that due to being flanked by the ‘dream team’ of Rose and Jack? Or has he just progressed in his emotional healing from the Time War by this point?

Scott: I honestly think that Doctor number Nine is chipper for the most of the time we see him – or at least he’s trying to give the impression that he is. A lot of people pigeon-hole him as an ‘angry’ Doctor, but he spends a hell of a lot of time smiling and even cracking really, really bad jokes.

Trust me, we’ll see his angry side as the book continues, but I wanted to show the fact that he is enjoying himself again.

9D_01_Strip1

Nugent: Sure, but there’s a real difference in tone here from, say, Dalek for instance, which is only 4 episodes earlier.

Scott: Well, the situation in Dalek is pretty grim. Certainly, we see a ‘lighter’ Ninth Doctor in The Empty Child to The Long Game. I think the resolution of The Doctor Dances would have helped as well. There we see the Doctor at his most optimistic. I definitely think he’s enjoying life with Rose and Jack.

Nugent:  This story had a real “hitchhiker’s guide” feel to it, was that intentional?

Scott: Not at all! In fact, I didn’t realise it was there! Never a bad thing though, especially as Douglas Adams’ City of Death was apparently one of the templates for 21st Century Who.

I’m intrigued now. Which elements did you think were Hitchhikers-esque? (Is that a word? It is now)

Nugent: The story set up: they’re beamed into the hold of a sluggish and war-like race, scanned repeatedly to determine who they are, then saved from death only to be sentenced to it a moment later. Reminded me of Ford & Arthur’s first stop after hitch hiking off the earth into the Vogon ship. No poetry from your war-bots though.

Scott: I think the Lect would be particularly bad poets. All those ‘Directives’ and ‘Possibilities’ in their speech patterns will never touch the soul!

9D_01_Strip3

Nugent: Your credits are so diverse–was it exciting to be able to tell a self-contained, more adult television episode-style story? Was your approach to the material different as a result?

Scott: It was. In a lot of ways writing the comic was similar to writing Doctor Who audio plays, definitely when I was structuring the plot for all five issues, I went about it the same way as my audio work, working out the big set pieces, working out where the cliffhangers sit.

But – and this is a huge but – the fact that it’s a comic has left me giddy with excitement. Writing a long-form American style series has been a dream for me ever since I first picked up a Marvel UK reprint back when I was a kid.

Nugent:  And what comic was that, do you remember?

Scott: I do. It was Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars issue one. I knew superheroes from TV and films and, even though I was a massive comic fan, it was largely British humour weekly titles. That first issue of Secret Wars literally changed my life, or at least my interests. It opened my eyes to the Marvel universe, which led me venturing into a comic shop and seeking out US comics, both for Marvel and their Distinguished Competition.

Oh, and it had Alpha Flight as the back up strip which introduced me to John Byrne, who I became obsessed about!

Nugent:  That’s a lot of continuity to absorb for a first ever comic experience! Sort of like Doctor Who…

Scott: I think that’s what appealed to me. i like continuity and diving into new universes. It’s why I’ve been enjoying picking up the Valiant books recently.

Marvel’s Transformers comic was another major hook for me. Basically, the UK weekly soon ran out of original US material and so started slipping in extra stories between the US issues – which of course were part of the Marvel Universe too. And the Doctor Who universe for that matter, as Death’s Head first appeared in Transformers and then slipped into Doctor Who and then into the main Marvel U.

You’ll be sorry you asked me about that now! I could talk about this stuff for ages!

Nugent: Well, it is somewhat timely. Are you following the announcements from Marvel about the new Secret Wars? As a comic writer AND fan, you probably have different perspectives on it.

Scott: With a huge amount of nostalgia! I’m certainly intrigued to see what’s coming. The continuity geek in me is having a whale of a time spotting references in what’s been released so far. The writer in me is having heart palpitations about what they’re trying to pull off. I’m looking forward to it. I’m a sucker for these big game-changing events. Again, it’s John Byrne’s fault for Man of Steel!

Nugent: I noticed lots of moments in your story where Rose reaches for the Doctor’s hand & is pulled away. Is this an intentional after-the-fact foreshadowing of the separation from the Tenth Doctor in Doomsday?

Scott: Heh! It might just be. It might not be the last time you see that motif in the series either.

Nugent: So far you’ve written for Doctors: Three, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten and Eleven. What Doctor would be your top choice to write for next?

Scott: Well, I wouldn’t say no for a chance to write for the current model – but really I’ve got a hankering to complete the set. In fact, I’ve written for another incarnation that I can’t mention yet. Spoilers!

Nugent:  Speaking of spoilers, are there any tidbits you can give our readers regarding events still to come in your Ninth Doctor story?

Scott: Well, there are going to be suns and romans and floating octopi and dinosaurs and masks coming off. And lots and lots of more great art from Blair!

Ninth Doctor issue 1 is available in comic stores on April 1st.

 

1 Comments on Interview: we talk Doctors, Secret Wars and Hitchhiker’s Guide with Ninth Doctor issue 1 writer Cavan Scott, last added: 3/31/2015
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