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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: comics, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 1,626
26. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Michael Del Mundo















Michael Del Mundo is an artist who’s responsible for so many great comic book covers of late, but I didn’t realize, until recently, who he was. The new Marvel Now Elektra series features both cover art, and interiors by Del Mundo, and it’s received a ton of well deserved critical acclaim. In fact, he, and writer William H. Blackman have impressed Marvel so much with their work that they’ve been promised another project once Elektra ends.

Del Mundo has brought the same unconventional, and dynamic style to his interior artwork, that has made his covers so memorable. I’m looking forward to see what comes next for this exciting, young artist!

Michael Del Mundo is from the Philippines, and currently lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. You can follow his blog here.

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

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27. Maggie Vessey: Queen of the homestretch runway

Last week may have been New York Fashion Week, but the 2014 track season was Maggie Vessey’s Fashion statement.
maggie vessey
No need to say more.

Vessey took the opportunity of being a ‘free agent’ to prove she’s got the creative talents to match her performance prowess on the track.

“I do want to draw attention to the sport and maybe give people who aren’t necessarily interested in track and field a reason to be interested,” Vessey told Runner’s World. “But it is a very authentic expression of who I am, and I now have this opportunity to be able to put that out there, be bold, and take a risk.”

To all those eating her fashionably savvy dust, heed the words: look good, feel good. ;)

Excellent read on Maggie Vessey in New York Magazine

Oiselle was representing runners at New York Fashion Week, I caught up with Founder and CEO, Sally Bergesen

My story on Kate Grace, professional runner for Oiselle.

Runner Fashion is All the Rage: Legs to Crush a Runway

My own (expanding) line of running apparel: Ezzere

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28. Book Spotlight: Guardians of the Galaxy by Abnett & Lanning: The Complete Collection Volume 1


With the fabric of the universe torn, all that stands between us and invading horrors is a team of cosmic misfits. Led by Star-Lord, the newly-minted Guardians of the Galaxy include a who’s who of the mightiest -and most bizarre – protectors the stars have ever seen! Rocket Raccoon, Drax the Destroyer, Groot, Gamora, Adam Warlock, Mantis, the all-new Quasar, Cosmo the telepathic space dog and more take on the universe’s most dangerous menaces…and have fun while doing it!


Series: Guardians of the Galaxy
Paperback: 296 pages
Publisher: Marvel (August 12, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0785190643
ISBN-13: 978-0785190646


0 Comments on Book Spotlight: Guardians of the Galaxy by Abnett & Lanning: The Complete Collection Volume 1 as of 9/17/2014 1:54:00 AM
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29. Calll for Submissions: Weave Magazine

Weave Magazine is now open for submissions through May 31, 2015. We are a print publication dedicated to promoting cultural diversity, accepting the best works of literary fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, drama, and visual art that transfix, transport, and inspire. Currently, we are seeking more submissions for the genres listed below. More information about how to submit can be found on our submissions page.  
Deadline: May 31, 2015  
Poetry: 3-5 poems
Flash Fiction: 1-3 stories, each 1000 words or less
Fiction: 3,000 words or less
Nonfiction: 3,000 words or less
Drama: less than 4,000 words
Reviews: 500-800 words
Comics/Illustrations/Visual Essays/Stories/Poems: Black and white only
More about Weave at our website.

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30. Comics Squad: Recess!

It's September and the kiddies are back at school, getting reacquainted with math, trading lunches, and praying for recess. Recess! That hallowed period carved out of the school day when no one is telling you what to do--or not much. In celebration of this cherished intermission, the brother-and-sister team of Jennifer L. Holm and Mathhew Holm (creators of Babymouse and Squish) and Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Lunchlady) have put together a collection of graphic shorts that feature every student's favorite subject.

The eight comic selections veer from the silly to the sillier. The anthology starts with the brilliant Gene Luen Yang's "The Super-Secret Ninja Club," a savvy story about a dweeby kid who aspires to be a member of said club. Dav Pilkey of Captain Underpants fame signs in with a subversive homework assignment from our friends George B. and Harold H. Their assignment is prefaced with a note home from their teacher, who informs the parents: "I have told both boys on numerous occasions that the classroom is no place for creativity." Other contributors include Ursula Vernon, Eric Wight, Dan Santat, Raina Telgemeier, and Dave Roman. All supply hilarious riffs on the ups and downs of recess.

Comics Squad: Recess!
Edited by Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm, Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Random House, 144 pages
Published: July 2014  

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31. “A Cosmic Fairytale” – D.J. Kirkbride incites The Bigger Bang [Interview]

biggerbang Author D.J. Kirkbride has been an important force in the comics’ industry for years now spearheading projects like Amelia Cole for Monkey Brain Comics with Co-Author Adam Knave and artist Nick Brokenshire. As Amelia Cole continued to grow larger, the author then shifted gears along with Adam Knave to work on Never Ending, a book about an immortal superhero. Now the author is going solo, and launching a new title from IDW Comics entitled The Bigger Bang, a story about a second of the fabled Big Bang events spawning a Superhuman golden age type hero. Through the unique vision of artist Vassilis Gogtzilas, the two are likely going to craft a superhero tale unlike any other with The Bigger Bang. Author Kirkbride shared some further insight into the project:

Where did your interest in Superheroes stem from, and what do they mean to you?

There is nary a memory from a time in my life where, if I were being honest, I didn’t wish I was wearing a cape. SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE came out when I was still very new to the world (yeah, I’m old), and it is the basis of my entire outlook on everything somehow. I love heroes, and super ones are, you know, even better. The idea of bigger than life characters helping the regular folk, having epic struggles and battles… what’s not to love?DJ_Pic

After NEVER ENDING, why continue to deconstruct the modern Superhero? Is this going to be a better deconstruction of the superhero than WATCHMEN (no pressure or anything)?

THE BIGGER BANG has nothing to do with WATCHMEN. It is as far from “what if superheroes were real?” as a comic could get. In my notebook, I one time wrote “THE BIGGER BANG: A Cosmic Fairy Tale”. That’s what it really is. It is not a deconstruction of anything. I don’t really like taking things I love apart, to be honest. Superheroes are great. I don’t want to pick at them. People much smarter than me already have.

How did the creative team come together?

Vassilis and I met on some anthologies I was editing. We worked together on a short story for an anthology called TITMOUSE MOOK Vol. 2, along with my co-writer pal Adam P. Knave. It was a lot of fun, and we tried to get some other things going that never worked out for whatever reason. After a while of doing our own things, Vass sent us a picture of a big, amazingly over muscled superhero guy floating in space and asked if we wanted to do a cosmic superhero book with him. Adam and I were (and still are) writing AMELIA COLE together, but he was (and still is) also co-writing a series called ARTFUL DAGGERS, plus who knows how many novels and stories and… the guy’s way more prolific than me. So, he didn’t feel he had time. I had plenty and was hungry to try something new, without the crutch of writing with someone way smarter than me, so I went for it. Vass is obviously very involved in the story piecing and development, visually and thematically, plus our IDW editor Justin Eisinger has helped me a great deal, being a sounding board and a source of ideas. And mainly saying, “LESS WORDS, MAN!” which has worked out well, I think.

Is the group worried about the series possibly touching on religious implications, or is the team instead looking at the incident from an alternate history touchstone?

We do go along with the Big Bang origin of life, but I’d be surprised if there was any controversy or anything. This is a crazy science fantasy adventure with far out ideas and drama so I personally find it pretty funny, but we don’t talk about religion at all, actually.

This is D.J. Kirkbride’s first solo writing effort for a while isn’t it? What was it like to tackle a project with fewer collaborators?

Vass and Justin have really helped guide the story with me, and our letterer, Frank Cvetkovic, has helped keep the words and the art together, the glue, honestly. But, to be perfectly frank, it’s been scary. Aside from a few anthology shorts, I’ve co-written all of my comics’ work with Adam. Doing this without him was a challenge I really felt I needed though. He has read different edits of the first issue, because his feedback means a lot to me, but, yeah, I wrote the words without him. It freaked me out and is still freaking me out. The wacky part is that Adam is far better versed in big cosmic comics than I am, and this kind of huge space opera madness is right up his alley, whereas I tend to lean toward smaller, more personal and dialog-heavy writing. tumblr_static_984bbxonto8wg0k0ck8g8ocsk_1280_v2 How did the team decide that IDW was the right home for the project?

Vass has worked with IDW on a great mini-series called THE ADVENTURES OF AUGUSTA WIND, written by none other than J.M. DeMatteis, one of the best comic writers of all time — no pressure to be his next writer, right? I also work with them on the AMELIA COLE print collections, so it seemed like a good fit. They put out good books, but it wouldn’t have happened without Justin Eisinger. Something about the core of our pitch, the basic idea of this character’s birth causing so much destruction with pseudo-science and fantasy spoke to him, I guess. He championed us, and this book wouldn’t be happening with out that fella.

What does the supporting cast for the book look like?

It’s a diverse group. The lead character, Cosmos, is the only one that looks traditionally human — at least an amazingly muscular human. There’s a kinda heavy, tentacled, green monster in a crown called King Thulu who kind of runs this sector of the multi-verse. His best warrior pilot is a three-eyed darker green lady named Wyan. She’s the character that has maybe the most interesting arc to me, and it grew very organically. There are many other aliens of various shapes and sizes, some of which started with brief descriptions from me, many just visualized from Vass’s amazing mind.

Is it difficult to compress a story into a limited space of pages in four issues after working on the AMELIA COLE series from Monkey Brain?

Actually, AMELIA COLE is the first ongoing series I’ve ever worked on, so that was the challenge at first. Before that, I’d gotten very used to writing really short stories for anthologies. I like stories with endings, even AMELIA COLE will have one someday (hopefully far, FAAAAAAR off into the future), so that’s how we designed and pitched THE BIGGER BANG. We had a story with a beginning, middle, and end. If possible, I’d love to do more one day, but if not, these four issues compose a complete story that I think folks will enjoy. neverending Is Vassilis Gogtzilas’ work completely painted in the title?

No, he is doing pencils, inks, and digital colors for the interiors. The painted covers were his idea, and I love them. It’ll be great seeing it in print and looking at it up close, because he is not a careful, timid painter. You can see the chunks and textures of the paint. It’s really cool. I love all the covers and can’t wait to be able to share them. I think they get better with each issue.

Does his work and style alter from the different projects he draws?

Oh yeah, Vass is eclectic. His style can vary within a project–from page to page. It’s not random. He’s a very emotional artist, and he’s more concerned with how the art FEELS than realism. It’s been an interesting challenge writing for him sometimes because his mind moves so differently than mine. It’s amazing, and I would have never come up with something like this on my own. It is a true collaboration.

When can fans dash out to their local comic book shops to pick up THE BIGGER BANG #1?

Issue 1 is out November 19, 2014. If anyone out there is interested, please pre-order it with item code SEP140487. Pre-orders are way too important, but that’s the way it is. There is a lot of competition for comic shop shelf space, so an indie book like this can use all the pre-help it can get. I’m really excited to see what the reaction will be. We’ve put together something really interesting and fun. I’m happy to get to be a part of it.

Thanks for your time!

Thank YOU, good sir!

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32. Call for Submissions: Restless from Wild Age Press

Wild Age Press is starting a new daily e-zine, but Restless isn’t going to be just any lit mag. We’re going to focus on the edgiest work being written today, the things more conservative journals are too scared to touch. We want your best, scariest (but not in a Stephen King kind of way), most experimental work. We want work that’s going to keep us up at night.

Send us:

prose under 750 words
poems one page or less
visual art, color or b&w
photography, color or b&w
comics, color or b&w
audio less than 2 minutes
video less than 2 minutes

postcard lit — send us your handmade postcards, with or without a poem or story written on the back, or mail us a postcard from an interesting place in the world with a poem or story inspired by the image(s) featured on the front
mini reviews (under 750 words) of books published in the past six months
short interviews with authors, artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, or other cool people
See our full guidelines here.

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33. #640 – Jackpot: An Aldo Zelnick Comic Novel (#10) by Karla Oceanak & Kendra Spanjer


Jackpot: An Aldo Zelnick Comic Novel (#10)

Written by Karla Oceanak
Illustrated by Kendra Spanjer
Bailiwick Press                   6/10/2014
Age 7+           160 pages
“Finding a dinosaur bone is like hitting the jackpot, right? Dino fossils are worth millions! Plus you get to b famous! You’re minding your own kid business when bam!—out of the mud pop fortune and glory. Ka-ching! That’s how I thought it would go, anyway, after my best friend, Jack, and I found a fossil in our neighborhood ditch. But as usual, grown-up rules made things way too complicated.”


“I wish we could play outside. This morning, I said that. I mean, I actually heard my own voice speak those exact words. Me. Aldo Zelnick.”

The Story

Aldo and his best friend, Jack, actually did go outside to play. It was cold and muddy causing the boys to slip and slid right into a neighborhood ditch. This is when Jack finds a big rock that, when cleaned, is much better than a rock. It is a fossil—a dinosaur fossil, right from their own backyard.

Aldo believes the fossil is worth millions of dollars and holds this hope out to the very end. Jack is thinking only of fame. A famous paleontologist, a famous middle grade paleontologist, would be cool, he thought. Jack holds out this hope to the very end. This is the only contention between Aldo and Jack: fame or fortune, but why not both!

The boys head to the natural history museum to find out what kind of fossil they found and, for Aldo, how much it is worth. Aldo thinks the museum will pay him on the spot—they do not. But, it is a dinosaur bone and the ditch might just have more bones. Now the boys must get the neighborhood to consent to digging up the ditch, and then find the rest of the dinosaur. Once done, Aldo and Jack will go on tour with their fame and fortunes. If only they can keep everyone out of the ditch until excavation day.



When we last read about Aldo he was skiing in Ignoramus. Since then, Aldo and Jack have changed only incrementally, as they normally would. I like that the authors are not maturing the characters quickly. Of course, with twenty-six books, they have lots of room to let the characters blossom slowly. Still, Aldo may be in college by the time “Z” hits the shelves. Aldo is still using his diary to write about his life and then—oh, I meant his journal, so sorry. Sometimes a good character just sticks with you and Aldo is one of those characters. He also wants you to know he is an artist and draws some terrific scenes that help readers visualize his stories.

In “J,” for Jackpot, Aldo and his best friend Jack finally go outside to play. They do not pick the best day, as it is cold and the ground is muddy and slippery. Aldo and Jack slip and slide into a neighborhood ditch. In the ditch Jack loosens a great looking rock. The rock turns out to be a dinosaur bone and more could be in that ditch. Aldo thinks this is great fortune, as in money. Jack thinks this is fortunate, as in fame. He would love a dinosaur named after him. Aldo would probably like a bank, or at least the largest vault, named after him. They have hit the JACKPOT!

As in books A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and I, J (for Jackpot) is crazy and funny with loads of mishaps, misunderstandings, and a girl interfering—or trying to—with Aldo and his journals. Jackpot is not a graphic novel. It contains enough text to keep the story on track and moving, but not so much as to crowd out the wonderful illustrations meant to be from Aldo. I love the detailed illustrations that greatly enhance the story. Aldo and Jack both sport Indiana Jones hats (fedoras). Kids will love the black and white “doodles” Aldo draws on nearly every page.

spread 1

I enjoyed Jackpot, reading it in one sitting. Middle grade kids—especially reluctant readers—will love this series. The characters are believable, multi-dimensional, likable and in many ways familiar to everyday life. Reluctant readers will appreciate the story staying on track and the short chapters. Kids can stop reading at any point, and when ready, easily reemerge back into the story. This is most terrific for reluctant readers who are at a distinct disadvantage with continuing a book midway through.

As far as the actual writing is concerned, the story stays on point even when Aldo goes off on a tangent. Aldo’s tangential thoughts are about money. In several illustrations, Aldo has made long lists of numbers needing added to project his coming wealth. The characters, especially Aldo and Jack, are easy to care about as the story progresses. If you have been reading the alphabet series known as Aldo Zelnick, you already care about Aldo and Jack, but the author makes no assumptions and brings new readers into the fan club.

Jackpot is the tenth book in Aldo’s series. I like that each of these books introduces new words that begin with that book’s letter. Jackpot, then, has words beginning with the letter “J.” Examples include jabbering, jack squat, jicama, and several French words like Joie de vivre and jugo de naranja. There is a glossary in the back, which defines each “J” word. In the text, the highlighted words are marked with an asterisk (*).


The Aldo Zelnick series is similar to The Wimpy Kid except that Jackpot, and every book thus far, have better defined illustrations. I like the “J” words in Jackpot. The glossary defines each of these words. I also like reading the comic Bacon Boy by Aldo Zelnick. How often do you get two books in one and both books are terrific? Aldo and Bacon Boy have a lot in common. I think Bacon Boy is Aldo and a safe, funny way for Aldo to document his childhood. Kids will laugh their hinnies off, no external exercise needed.

JACKPOT: AN ALDO ZELNICK COMIC NOVEL (#10). Text copyright © 2014 by by Karla Oceanak. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Kendra Spanjer. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Bailiwick Press, Fort Collins, CO.


Purchase Jackpot at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryBailiwick PressYour Favorite Bookstore.


Learn more about Jackpot HERE.

Meet the author, Karla Oceanak, at her website:  http://www.karlaoceanak.com/

Meet the illustrator, Kendra Spanjer, at her website:   http://www.kendraspanjer.com/

Find more Aldo Zelnick books at the Bailiwick Press website:   http://www.bailiwickpress.com/


Also by Karla Oceanak & Kendra Spanjer

Ignoramus:  An Aldo Zelnick Comic Novel (#9)

Ignoramus #9

Hotdogger  (#8)

Hotdogger (#8)

Read Hotdogger Review HERE.

Read Ignoramus Review HERE.






Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Reluctant Readers, Series Tagged: Aldo Zelnick, Bailiwick Press, children's book reviews, comics, Karla Oceanak, Kendra Soanjer, middle grade books

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34. ANXIETY - grounded in reality

This episode actually doesn't have any Anxiety in it.

0 Comments on ANXIETY - grounded in reality as of 8/21/2014 10:47:00 AM
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35. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: David Lapham














It was great news when it was announced that Stray Bullets would be returning to comic stands again, with the new series Stray Bullets: Killers. I’ve been a fan of David Lapham’s work since 1995, when a local comics shop owner handed me a copy of Stray Bullets #1, and said, “I know you like different stuff. You should try this.” Well, Stray Bullets was different than your average super-hero/cartoon comic book, that’s for sure. It read like a mixture of Pulp Fiction, and Mean Streets. The series was self-published, and self-marketed for 10 years, with 40 issues produced, which is quite an impressive feat in the volatile comics market. Lapham took a break from Stray Bullets in 2005, and did writing/drawing work for many of the major publishers, including Young Liars for DC/Vertigo, Daredevil vs. Punisher for Marvel, and Crossed for Avatar Press.

It makes perfect sense that he would take the long awaited final issue of Stray Bullets, #41, and the spin off series Killers to Image Comics, since the publisher has now become a safe haven for the type of original, creator owned comics that David Lapham was an early pioneer of.

In addition to Stray Bullets: Killers, Lapham recently completed his first all-ages series, Juice Squeezers, and he’s currently writing the comics adaptation of the hit FX TV series(and series of books) The Strain, both published by Dark Horse Comics.

You can follow David Lapham on Twitter here.

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

The post Comics Illustrator of the Week :: David Lapham appeared first on Illustration Friday.

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36. ANXIETY - update

Hey there!
It seems like time to give you an update on this comic about Anxiety I am doing.
In short: it's still going on, tehre weren't many updates because I am working on a picture book, but I have planned and written and collated and thought. There will be more soon, and there will be a book eventually.

Life is good, I have a great studio now, and I'm really enjoying my projects. Inbetween drawings and writings I am building kites.
From The Penguin Book of Kites

Sode kite


Kite made from pigeon feathers, staws and string

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37. Sunday Morning Running Motivation: Turtle Training

It’s no lie…sometimes you just gotta take a cue from the Turtles.
teenage mutant ninja turtles running

Fancy that, another train of familiar characters getting their run on…sorta reminds me of THESE LADIES!!

More Morning Running Motivation Posts And Art

1) Who here is also a real runnerd and Turtles fan too? ;)
2) What were you chasing this weekend?

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38. #638 – Benny Breakiron #2: Madame Adolphine by Peyo


Benny Breakiron #2: Madame Adolphine

by Pierre Culliford aka Peyo
Papercutz                           9/24/2013
Age 7 +                        54 pages
“Madame Adolphine is a kind, gentle old lady, and a good friend of the super-strong Benny Breakiron. So why is she robbing a bank, banging a man on the head with a mallet, and being thrown in the trunk of a car, with no memory of what happened? It’s up to Benny to get to the bottom of it . . . and stop it if he can.”


“Vivejoie-Grande, a cute, little city with provincial charm, that’s where Benny Breakiron lives.”

The Story

Benny has super-strength that works abominably well as long as he does not catch a cold. Colds knock Benny’s super-strength right out of him. Odd, but true. He can leap over buildings in one bound, out run any racecar, and is molding a rather interesting logical mind that he uses to solve many of the situations he faces.


Today, Benny plays a game of cowboys and Indians with Madame Adolphine, an older woman who looks to be in her eighty’s. When she runs out of steam, Benny carries her home and calls the doctor, who is not amused. Madame does not have a pulse and the good doctor figures out the trouble. Finally, Benny finds her identification and a phone number of a friend, who is glad to have the wondering woman back.

Later, Madame Adolphine frees herself with Benny’s help. He thinks her friend is abusing her and helps her get away from his home. This time, Madame Adolphine robs a gun store, a bank, and several people before hijacking a taxi and skedattling out of town. She is on to bigger heists. Her friend is frantic, as is Benny. The police arrest the real Madame Adolphine, placing her directly in jail due to the preponderance of evidence and witnesses, no passing go, no going home. Benny breaks her out of jail, then goes on the hunt for the robber, planning to bring her back and clear the real Madame Adolphine.


The Benny Breakiron comics are funny and kids, probably more boys than girls, will like the stories. I am amazed at Benny’s naivety and trust level considering this is not his first outing with criminals. When he asks the robot to return and she agrees, he believes her, returning on a train alone, convinced she will follow as soon as she “cleans up” her business. She has a major heist to pull with her criminal gang. Until Benny hears of the latest burglary, he is calmly riding home. Quickly he hops off the train, scaring a man who he had terrified so much while breaking the real Madame Adolphine out of jail he is close to a nervous breakdown. I was surprised that the law-abiding Benny would break anyone out f jail. I guess when he is sure of the person’s innocence it is okay. Not a great message but then comics are not about messages they are about fun.


Benny consistently dupes adults, especially the gang of strong criminals who think they can toss Benny out of the club, but are grossly mistaken when Benny beats them all to a pulp—in bloodless, humorous ways that is as safe as the roadrunner is for a seven-year-old. Even after Benny catches a cold causing the shutdown of his super-strength, the men are afraid. When they figure out Benny lost his powers they go after him but, thanks to the barkeep charged with keeping Benny locked up and who nurses Benny’s cold, Benny has recovered enough to restore his powers and shock the gangsters once more when he pulverizes them all.

In the end, police drop all charges against the real Madame Adolphine and the robot returns to its maker for disassembly. There is a twist, leaving the robot to her own devises once more and the real Madame Adolphine returning for disassembly. Does this mean the story will continue? I do not know and don’t see a new edition with Madame Adolphine in the story-line. I guess we must wait and see.

Kids who like lighter-fare comics, without a lot of violence and anger, will love Benny Breakiron. Benny is an everyday kid who happens to have strength unknown to man. He is a nice kid, a little naive, and maybe too trustworthy, but he always tries to do what is right, even if it means he must use his powers. Benny Breakiron is a good old-fashioned comic by the comic genius of his time—Peyo.

new c

BENNY BREAKIRON, #2: MADAME ADOLPHINE. Text and illustrations copright © 2013 by Peyo. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Papercutz, New York, NY.


Purchase Benny Breakiron #2: Madame Adolphine at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryiTunesPapercutzyour favorite bookstore.

Learn more about Benny Breakiron #2: Madame Adolphine HERE.

Meet the author / illustrator, Peyo, at the XX wiki:     http://smurfs.wikia.com/wiki/Peyo

Find more great comics at the Papercutz website:     http://www.papercutz.com/


Also by Peyo

The Smurfs #15: The Smurflings

The Smurfs #15: The Smurflings

The Smurfs Anthology #1

The Smurfs Anthology #1

Benny Breakiron #1: The Red Taxis

Benny Breakiron #1: The Red Taxis


Review of Smurflings #15 HERE

Review of Smurf Anthology #1 HERE

Review of Benny Breakiron #1 HERE





breakiron 2



copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Graphic Novel, Library Donated Books Tagged: Benny Breakiron, children's book reviews, comics, graphic novel, Madame Adolphine, Papercutz, Pierre Culliford aka Peyo, super-powers

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39. Nursery Rhyme Redux

Three years ago, before Fairy Tale Comics, there appeared in the folklore-themed-comicsphere… What I love about this collection is that the illustrators treat the rhymes like little stories, following the original words but interpreting them in different ways.  It’s “not a parody or deconstruction,” says editor Chris Duffy, but they do imagine context and backstory — who’s […]

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40. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Amanda Conner



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Artist Amanda Conner has been working in comics since the late 80′s. She’s been in the top tier of mainstream comics creators for a long time now, but with  DC Comics’ recent New 52 reboot, Amanda Conner got the chance to relaunch the new Harley Quinn series, and has in the process solidified herself as one of the greats, while also redefining one of today’s most popular characters.

Conner developed her drawing skills at The Kubert School in Dover, New Jersey, one of the first technical schools for sequential art founded by comics legend Joe Kubert. She met her future husband, and current collaborator on Harley Quinn, writer/inker Jimmy Palmiotti, in the early 90′s when he was an editor at Marvel.. The couple was also responsible for a recent popular run on DC Comics’ Power Girl. Throughout her career, she’s worked with some of comics’ top creators, including Warren Ellis, Peter David, Garth Ennis, and Darwyn Cooke.

Her work has also been featured in The New York Times, MAD Magazine, and Revolver.

You can follow Amanda Conner on Twitter here.

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

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41. Interview: Marc Tyler Nobleman on Bill Finger and the Secret Origins of Batman

Photo by Kendall Whitehouse

For years, comics’ professionals have been hiding a well-kept Batman secret. Batman has been listed as being created by Bob Kane for decades, but the secret creator of the other half of Batman has been in hiding, signing bad deals and contracts, and being lost to the general public. Despite the immense popularity of Batman, only a fraction of people that enjoy the character have any clue as to who created the hero. Bob Kane has been listed as the sole creator of Batman in almost every piece of media that fans have devoured since his initial appearance in May 1939. Marc Tyler Nobleman has led a crusade to make it known that Batman was created by both Bob Kane and Bill Finger. He did so via a meticulously researched all-ages illustrated book entitled Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman. We caught up with Nobleman for an interview on the secret origins of the creation of Batman.

How do you think Bill Finger would react to the resurgence of different media finally coming together and seeing his contributions to Batman?

Humbly and gratefully.

What do you find interesting about the men and women who have created various superheroes?

With respect to the three I have written about (Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Bill Finger), I find it especially interesting is how these young men were building modern myths from unassuming apartments and (at least in Finger’s case) seemingly without a sense of their cultural significance. Finger’s creative influence could not be more disproportionate to the recognition he got for it in his lifetime. In other words, staggering influence, almost no credit for it.Bill the Boy Wonder - cover sketches 1 (six total)

Is there any information on Finger’s exact contribution to some of the other DC heroes and villains such as Green Lantern (Alan Scott) and Wildcat?

He wrote the first stories to feature both.

Have you studied the reactions of younger fans when they read the book? What are their reactions like?

Because I have the privilege of speaking in schools around the world (including Tanzania, Chile, and the United Arab Emirates), I regularly experience the reactions of fans both young and young-at-heart. It has been immensely gratifying to see how impassioned kids can be over what they perceive as an injustice to Bill Finger. Here’s one of my favorite projects in response to the book – kids pretending to be Bill’s only child Fred and writing a letter as Fred to Bob Kane: http://noblemania.blogspot.com/2013/11/letters-from-bill-fingers-son-to-bob.html. There are some profound thoughts in there.

Did you find any conflicting reports on the research of Finger based on a ‘he-said, she-said’ basis?

Other than the absurd amount of Batman aspects Kane originally took credit for but later attributed to Finger, no.

How did the collaboration with industry veteran Ty Templeton come about?

Having been a longtime fan, I emailed him to ask if he’d be interested. He said yes with more than a passing knowledge of Finger’s tragic career, and I loved that he was already passionate about the subject. My publisher (obviously) also liked Ty, so we were on.

Bill the Boy Wonder - title treatment - black on yellow Have there been any talks about adapting this story into a different medium?

Yes, daily – in my head. And quite often after I speak, someone in the audience will say “This HAS to be a movie.” I have had a few talks with film people. So far nothing has gotten past the exploratory phase but I am confident one day it will. I just hope I am involved!

Aside from the obvious accreditation being taken away from Finger, are you satisfied with the nature of comic books nowadays being more creator-driven among fans of the industry?

On one level yes, but I continue to hear stories of contemporary creators who have felt exploited by comics’ publishers. Certainly the Internet and the explosion of proactive fandom have done much good in the way of acknowledging the talent no matter what the publishers do or don’t do.

For more information, take a look at Marc’s blogBill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman is on sale now. Kendall Whitehouse shot the featured photograph seen at the top of the page.

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42. By Its Cover Special: Image Expo 2014


This will be the last By Its Cover for a few months, so I thought I’d do something special. Today we’re going to look at the Image Expo teaser images shown at SDCC 2014.

To be clear, these aren’t necessarily covers. In theory, they’re teaser images intended to get people interested in each series, though half of the teasers look like they just used the first issue’s cover art.

When Torsten Adair suggested the topic, I was initially hesitant. I made a conscious decision to focus on the best covers each week – partly in hopes of inspiring people to create more visually diverse covers – but these Image Expo images range from great to distinctly not-great. Though it’s possible for us to learn just as much (or more) from seeing people’s failures as their successes.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I almost feel like the column you are about to read needs a warning. I was going easy on the covers before; we’re about to go critical.

Methodology: I purposely avoided reading the descriptions of each book until after I’d looked at the corresponding teaser image. I then showed the images to a couple of friends who also knew nothing about the books, to see if their impressions differed. What follows are the results.


I’ve decided to go through these in reverse order from how the books were announced, because I wanted to start off with an example of perfection. Sleek and stylish, this teaser doesn’t say much, but in a tantalizing way that makes me want to know more.

The way the syringe icon doubles as a pill is perfect. The texture inside the icon wasn’t really necessary, but it works regardless. Futura is one of those sturdy, timeless fonts that’s ridiculously overused, yet never gets old. And like any proper teaser, it tells me the month and year it’s coming out.

That said, based on my own experience, I’m betting there are a lot of non-designers out there who consider this image boring. But I’m not sure that can be helped.



Tooth & Clawl? Tooth &…Crawl? Crawl? Clawl?

It took me two minutes looking over this image before I realized it said “Tooth & Claw 1.” I can understand putting the “1″ in there so that the ampersand is centered (and it’s a great ampersand, by the way), but the number’s similarity to the lowercase “l” hurts the title’s readability. Plus, what do you do with Tooth & Claw 2 and beyond? Since all other numbers are wider than “1,” the ampersand will either no longer be centered, or the title is going to look cramped.

Also, the lowercase “l” looks weird with the upper serif coming off the wrong side like that.

But the title treatment isn’t the only problem. My friends and I all found this cover to be visually boring, and I couldn’t figure out why. I’m a fan of Busiek’s writing, so I want to like this. The image is well drawn and well composed. I dig symmetrical compositions. And it’s an image of a warthog doing magic! So why does it make me want to scroll away quickly to something more visually pleasant?

The problem is the colors. Instead of being used to create depth, they’re flattening the image out. The old staple of warm-and-cold contrast is being used for the background, but the gradient meets in the center as a dull gray. The blue orb sits in the cold area of the gradient, where there is the least contrast, and likewise all the brownish red elements sit in the warm area of the gradient.

The warthog, who should be the focus of the piece, is colored entirely in very desaturated colors that push the focus to the less gray background elements. Even the glowing light in the character’s hands is gray, instead of a vibrant white. The glowing objects around the character are separated from the light blue background with a strange warm gray glow that flattens them out, making it look like the character is sitting (well, floating) in front of a painted wall instead of summoning light. From a distance, the image balances out to dull gray and brown.

A better approach? Glowing objects are hard to convey against light backgrounds. A lightsaber doesn’t look as good in front of a white or pastel wall as it does behind dark colors. If the warthog was floating in front of a black background, everything lit only by the green objects emanating from the character’s hands, that would be one dramatic image.

(Yes, I realize Jordie Bellaire just won an Eisner for Best Coloring. Feel free to tell me I’m wrong.)



Whoa, look at that title logo. That’s crazy. I never would’ve attempted something so wild and chaotic, and that’s why I love it.

I also love the expressiveness of the painting, and the color palette is solid. I don’t quite get the light blue circle (sun? moon? something else?) that’s overlapping his face, but since they’ve already consciously broken all the rules with the rest of the composition, I feel like I should just go with it.

My first guess as to the story was “a western set in space?,” and the description pretty much confirmed it, so it’s a success there too. All it’s missing as far as teasers go is a date. It doesn’t count if you hid it in those seemingly random dots, guys.



The image of the kid behind the moon works really well when I’ve seen it cropped down on other sites, but otherwise the composition is a little awkward. I kind of want the kid’s eye line to be pointing to the title and credits, rather than just under them and over to whatever is to the right of the image.

There are a few different approaches that I think might work a little better. I don’t think the typeface used for the title works very well spaced out like that. A taller typeface would probably work better, like the one used for the creator’s names. But there’s so much space for a title at the top of the image, you could go even taller.

Or, the image could be cropped in so that the moon is centered horizontally, and the title and creator names could be centered within the moon. Or, the image could be cropped in so that part of the left side of the moon is cut off (the kid being places on the left side of the rule of thirds), and the title and creator names placed small in the upper right corner (not overlapping the moon).

I’m not sure if I’m making sense, so here are examples.



Am I the only one who hadn’t heard of the constellation the Southern Cross? Maybe that just shows how ignorant I am of astronomy, I don’t know. I initially thought the dots in the “O” were an attempt at making it look like a moon, until I saw the symbol in the Image logo, and still didn’t realize it was a constellation. Make fun of me if you want.

So my first thought looking at this teaser is that the story takes place in the south, and is about some sort of angel or winged main character who is transporting a ghostly corpse a la Hellboy. After I was informed about the constellation, I still figured it was the same story, only set in the southern hemisphere.

The story description tells me I couldn’t be more wrong. It doesn’t even take place on earth! It’s about a tanker flight heading to Titan called the Southern Cross, and what I took to be wings are probably the frame around a window. The corpse might be hitching a ride, as I thought before, or it might be trying to strangle the character.

It’s well drawn, but isn’t quite getting across the concept. It’s described as “The Shining on a haunted spaceship,” but I got neither a spaceship nor The Shining from this. The look of internal peace and calmness on the character’s face does not convey a horror vibe.

In terms of type, it’s kind of distracting to me how “SOUTHERN” is in very clean Futura, while “CROSS” is in Futura that’s been roughed up to look hand-drawn. They should either both look hand-drawn, or both look clean. Or maybe the hand-drawn word should look more hand-written (instead of a roughed up geometric font), but it might be tougher to get that to work. I also kind of want to see the Image logo moved up below the logo and resized to the same height as the “01,” to balance out the top half of the image.



A collage like this could’ve completely fallen apart, but I think it works. I immediately get that this is two locations combined into a single image, rather than two people finding a cave filled with ships flying away from a tiny planet. I think the ships flying overhead behind them helps a great deal in terms of that.

The only thing I’m not sure of is the stream. Is it lava? It looks like they’re standing in it, so I assume not. Is it just water colored red because artistic license? It’s the one element that isn’t really working for me, because I don’t really like how it flows behind the ships.



It’s not an elegant cover, but it does a perfect job of getting across the concept, assuming that concept is “Planet Of The Apes meets The Wild Angels.”



A critic who likes to be cruel for the sake of comedy might say: “Intersect is about a boy with a wolf for an arm who encounters Alice Cooper,” but I like to think I’m above that.

I like the texture of the painting, but the composition isn’t working for me. Then again, it perfectly matches the book description, which opted for text with a lot of flavor that doesn’t actually tell me anything.



Please tell me this is going to be a really tall comic.

This image certainly has a lot of energy, though it seems strange to have this exciting lightning bolt! and exciting title! and then this person just standing there looking bored. Normally I like contrasts, but his boredom in the face of excitement makes me feel like I’m going to be bored.




I don’t understand why those decorative flourishes are only on the right side of the page, unless they did it just to drive people like me crazy.

Let’s talk about the logo first. I get that the looseness of the letters is meant to convey that this is going to be wacky, but it really just looks sloppy. While it conveys madness, it doesn’t really convey god-ness. If the word “Valhalla” had been written in that font used for the rest of the text, and then “Mad” was in a zany comedy font, the logo itself would have a visually interesting contrast that better communicates the story.

The teaser would then be improved by having the rest of the text in a plain font, except maybe the year (which could mirror the logo’s “Valhalla text.”

Also, y’know what would be better than text telling us its a story about “three lovable gods just here to have a good time?” A silhouette of three godly-looking people laughing and holding mugs. You could even build that silhouette into the logo Final Fantasy-style, and it’d be perfect.



I like the decorative shapes being used here. The knives are a nice touch, if they represent that one character wants to backstab or is the enemy of the other. If that’s not what the knives are communicating, then I would’ve left them out.

The title text needs work. Serif fonts like that work well for small text, but they make for extremely plain logo text, even when hand-traced to give it an indie look. As much excitement as the illustration tries to convey, the plain non-logo title undermines it.

The red shape behind the title looks nice, except the hatch lines inside it don’t quite fit with the fully filled in colors in the backgrounds of the three main shapes. Instead of looking artsy, it looks like “I was filling this in with a marker, but got impatient and gave up.”

The placement of the Image logo looks like an afterthought, or a “I don’t know where to put this now, I’ll just wedge it in here.” A better place for it might be centered in the shape created by the overlapping red and light blue, or centered below the feet of the central character.



My first impression of this image was that it was two people sitting on the nose of a runaway bike as it was popping a wheelie. It seemed pretty clear to me what direction they were moving, from the speedlines behind the back tire, and their relation to the horizon.

After staring at it for awhile, I realized a few things. What I thought were speedlines was actually the reflection of the bike on a shiny black surface. In fact, they’re not moving at all – the guy’s legs are firmly planted on the ground, not on the foot pegs, and the background image represents a completely different view angle. The only thing I’m still confused on is why there are bits of krackle to the left of the front tire if they’re not moving.

In short: this cover isn’t working. Even if the intent was to confuse, my question is “why?” It doesn’t make the cover more interesting to look at, it just makes me want to look at an illustration that makes visual sense.

If you removed the bike and left just the strip of background, with the logo filling the black space below, I would love this image. If you removed the strip of background, moved the bike up a little so it’s more clear that there’s a reflection under then, and moved the logo to the upper left, I would call this a strong image. As is, it’s not working.


See you in a few months.

Kate Willaert is a graphic designer for Shirts.com. You can find her her art on Tumblr and her thoughts @KateWillaert. Notice any spelling errors? Leave a comment below.

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43. The Beat Podcasts! – Mike Dawson interview

logo-pod-more-to-come-1400.pngRecorded at Publishers Weekly, it’s  More To Come, the weekly podcast of comics news, interviews and discussion with Calvin Reid, Kate Fitzsimons and The Beat’s own Heidi MacDonald.

In this week’s podcast  Heidi interviews comics creator, Tumblr personality and podcaster Mike Dawson, creator of Freddie & Me and Troop 142 about his trials as a mid-career creator, his recent Tumblr musings on the subject and the unexpected comics blogosphere notoriety that followed.

Download this episode direct here, listen to it in streaming here and catch up with our previous podcasts on the Publishers Weekly website, or subscribe to More To Come on iTunes

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44. Excited about Monstrous: Hire Power from Greg Wright & Ken Lamug

Over the last month, I’ve been working with Greg Wright on a new comic book project called “Monstrous”.

It’s got steam powered robots & monsters that span the imagination. In this pilot, we meet a little girl who has to team up with a monster for hire to avenge her father’s death. What I love about MONSTROUS, is that it has the “IT” factor that I believe will be enjoyed by young and old. It has fun moments, scary moments and head turning moments.

Sometimes I wish could just read the entire series already instead of having to create it. It’s not that I don’t enjoy working on it (trust me – it’s a blast)… it’s the fact that I have to wait on my slow butt to finish it. Ha!


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45. SDCC ’14: Tula Lotay on Supreme, Thought Bubble, and Career

by Zachary Clemente

tula profile

Tula Lotay (aka Lisa Wood) is a comic artist hailing from the UK. Her work includes ElephantmenBodies, and the new Image book Supreme: Blue Rose with writer Warren Ellis. She also consults for the well-regarded Travelling Man comic shop and heads the annual comic arts festival Thought Bubble. I was fortunate enough to speak with Tula about her work in comics, illustration and otherwise.

Comics Beat: How has the convention been going for you so far?

Tula Lotay: It’s amazing! I was kind of expecting it to be super busy, but I wasn’t expecting to be personally busy because I don’t think anyone knows who I am as my comic’s only just come out. I wouldn’t have thought anyone would have read it but it’s gone nuts. I’ve been having signings with Image, DC, and Comicraft; every one has been full up with queues. I’ve never had that before!

CB: It’s exciting, I think. Supreme with Image has Ellis on it, who is a big name; Comicraft and Elephantmen have been around for some time, and you’re working on Bodies over at Vertigo now?

TL: Yes! It’s with Si Spencer and three other artists – Dean Ormston, Phil Winslade and Meghan Hetrick – it’s a murder mystery that spans four different time periods, the same body turns up in each one – it’s a fascinating story and that’s what really appealed to me, plus the character Maplewood who I got to draw, she’s a sassy amnesiac.

CB: What’s the time-frame for all these projects happening for you?

TL: Well, I’ve been working on Supreme since last year actually, but because of Thought Bubble organizing I had to put it on hold for two months which is unfortunate. I’m getting so much illustration work right now, but I can’t just let Thought Bubble go. I needed to make sure that it was all okay last year especially; this year the same thing worries me again but I’m hoping that more people can take on the running of the show and I can just continue to draw. Bodies was similar – I started it about three months after I started Supreme and I’m well ahead on both of those titles.

CB: You’ve been around for a while – running Thought Bubble with Travelling Man, which has been going on for seven years now?

TL: Yeah, Thought Bubble is seven years old. I’ve been with Travelling Man for maybe 11 years and I still act as a consultant for them. I was super proud to see Travelling Man short listed at the Eisners last night.

CB: How do you see your place in comics changing with the new projects you’re working on – the new way people may view you and your work?

TL: I definitely want to continue what I’m doing and make my illustration a priority – it should have been a priority years ago. But I’m doing it now and that’s great. I’d ultimately like to work on my own stories. But I felt I needed a bit more experience before putting it out there. I love that story thought and want to tell it soon. I do love working with great writers that allow me space to explore new ideas and different styles though. Working with Warren is amazing. He’s so good. I’d like to keep learning – I think there’s so much for me to learn still and I think there’s so many ways for me to channel my art so I can maybe simplify it more, tighten it. I’m quite excited about how that’s going – moving forward into the future and becoming more confident so things can be simplified.

I’m a big fan of simpler art that’s done perfectly and I think only great masters can do that, like Toth for instance, obviously I don’t think I would ever be anywhere near his skill, but that’s my goal.

CB: Toth is definitely a name thrown out as very inspiring – along with Moebius and Miyazaki. Who do you look to as inspiration for the direction you want to go?

TL: Oh, there’s so many people I’m inspired by – I’m like a kid in a candy shop wherever I go! My friends joke with me and call it “Lisa’s World of Wonder” (that’s my real name) because I get so excited about everything! With regards to art , I like looking back to a lot of Saturday Evening Post illustrations from the 50s and 60s – I’m really inspired by that kind of stuff. Bernie Fuchs, Bob Peak, Robert Fawcett, Robert McGinnis, Robert McGuire – I love all that pulpy stuff.

Growing up, massive influences that have still stuck with me were people who did more painterly art styles like Kent Williams, Bill Sienkiewicz, John J Muth, Dave McKean; so I think I sort of edge towards that style more often than the typical stuff. But still I adore Steranko, Bernet, Mazzucchelli or anyone who masters their style – I’m inspired by any great artist.

CB: I’m reminded of another artist, in career path and a bit of style; Christian Ward, currently on Ody-C with Matt Fraction.

TL: Oh yeah? How so?

CB: Mostly in style – I see a lot of dashes and touches of affection and emotion that isn’t necessarily just about the figure.

TL: I can see that! Christian’s stuff is amazing and his color is just out there – it’s so intense and just adds to his beautiful lines. So that’s a really nice comparison, thank you.


CB: Even on the career side – he just got on with Fraction, who is a really big name right now, as is Ellis. There’s things going on there…

TL: Yeah, both British too.

CB: I wasn’t going to say it!

[General laughter set to the sounds of the very loud Star Wars display looping in the background.]

CB: Do you see your involvement in Thought Bubble lessening as your illustration picks up?

TL: I have to do that and I’ve been trying to, really. I should probably give it up completely and pass it on, but it’s a business I built from scratch seven years ago and it’s been more successful than I ever could have anticipated. As a business person – doing something like that, succeeding at it, and then just passing it on…that’s not something I can do because it’s something I’ve invested so much time, blood, sweat, and tears into. I’m still planning to continue with things and I still want to continue being Director but I think this year is going to be very telling as to how much I can actually do.

I’ve got some great people that I work with, I couldn’t do it without them. I’m managing to pass on the running of the show more and more, but one of the problems I have is that I’m not great at delegating. I have real issues with it, people are always willing to help but It can be hard to let go of something you’ve built up. But fingers crossed, this year will be okay.

CB: Why do you think Though Bubble has become such a well-regarded show?

TL: There’s definitely a reason everyone says it’s brilliant and that it’s so well-organised….. but … I don’t think I’m well-organized; I didn’t have any experience of event management when I set it up… But I think because I and so many of the people I work with care so dearly about what we’re doing – we make it work. Everyone; guests, exhibitors, and attendees must see that, shining through.

I’d like to think it’s successful because people can see that it’s put on by people who just adore the art form and, we may not always do things right, but we’ll do everything in our power to ensure everyone has a nice time. On top of that, we have the best people working in the industry – in the world – coming to our show – I think that’s kind of spiraled. The incredible talent that comes ends up leaving with quite a nice opinion of us – it gets passed around and it’s sort of snowballed.

CB: It seems like the passion shines though, as with your illustration. Jumping back to Supreme, how did the project come to be?

TL: I think it first came about when Eric Stephenson came to Thought Bubble, Richard Starkings had showed him my work. Eric really liked it and asked for a meeting and was keen for me to do something with Warren at Image. So I started chatting with Warren, since we’ve known each other for a little while. We went back and forth with ideas, talking about movies and music because we love a lot of similar things. Then Warren decided to re-work Supreme and asked if I was interested and obviously I was super interested because I love Warren’s writing.

It went on from there. Warren fed a lot of our interests into the book – a lot of sci-fi and film references – it’s kind of just an amalgamation of everything we love. I’m really happy with how it’s going.


CB: Without giving anything away, what kind of winks, nods, or references will we see in Supreme?

TL: There’s a lot of [David] Lynch in there. Since the title is Supreme: Blue Rose, anyone who’s an avid Twin Peaks watcher will know what “Blue Rose” means. There’s some Philip K. Dick in there, little nods to Kubrick and Jacques Tourneur, mainly  sci-fi  but a little mystery and horror as well.

CB: That sounds like it would mesh really well.

TL: I hope so. The response so far has been amazing. I can’t answer all the tweets I’m getting! I’m not used to that. But it is really nice hearing people say so many positive things about Supreme - it’s blown me away, really.

CB: Do you have fears or concerns about this change in your career?

TL: Yeah, I think anybody entering into something that’s new can feel a little bit fearful of it and certainly, with creatives, it is always a worry as to whether people are going to appreciate or like what you’re doing especially when you create something you’re so passionate about.

But you’ve really got to be fearless – you’ve got to feel the fear and do it anyway.

CB: Thank you very much, Tula.

TL: Yeah, thank you!

0 Comments on SDCC ’14: Tula Lotay on Supreme, Thought Bubble, and Career as of 8/2/2014 3:02:00 PM
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46. The Hermit of Shooters Hill – An Interview with Steve Moore, Part 4

Here’s the fourth part of my interview with the late Steve Moore, with more to follow. The first, second, and third parts are already online, along with some explanation of how the interview came about.

Steve apologizes CU

PÓM: You mentioned that you worked with Dez Skinn at Fleetway House. How did you get on with him?

SM: It was okay at the time, though I’ve never really got on that well with men from the north of England. I’ve generally found them opinionated, pig-headed and sexist; on the other hand, I know they tend to think of us southerners as over-intellectual wimps. Both of these are completely clichéd generalisations, and I’m sure the first is no more true of all northern men than the second is of all southerners, but in my experience there seems to be a bit of a gulf in attitudes. So at Fleetway, relations with Dez were generally cordial, though occasionally a little caustic, and we weren’t actually working on the same magazine which meant we didn’t spend the whole day together. He was never someone I really wanted to actually socialise with, though. I tended to hang out with Steve Parkhouse and left all thoughts of Dez behind when I left the office.

On the other hand, my professional relationship with Dez, between writer and editor, was very close for several years and generally problem-free, and we worked together on House of Hammer, Starburst, Hulk Comic, Dr Who Weekly and, eventually, Warrior. At that point things started to go wrong, but until then he was another editor who’d accept everything I gave him with virtually no changes and we did a lot of stuff together, some of which, I like to think, was pretty good.

->PÓM: Didn’t you end up working for Dez as a freelancer, later on?

SM: Yes, I did work for Dez, but I can’t honestly remember how it came about. I’m pretty sure the first thing was House of Hammer, which was published by Thorpe & Porter (otherwise known as General Book Distribution or Top Sellers; the same outfit seems to have had a multitude of names and, as I mentioned, they’d also picked up the Brown, Watson name too). John Barraclough had ended up there after Target folded, and it’s possible he may have mentioned that he’d worked with me to Dez; but if not that it’s probable that Dez knew that both Steve Parkhouse (who also worked on HoH) and I were now freelance and, of course, we all knew each other from our days at IPC. So if Dez was looking for contributors, we would have been a natural choice. And as Dez moved on to other jobs, he just kept on offering work to the same stable of contributors, both writers and artists, that he already knew and had worked with.

–>The first issue of HoH was dated October 1976, so I’d guess we started working on it in the summer, or maybe a bit earlier. Looking back, I see that John Barraclough and Chris Lowder were mentioned as associate editors on the early issues, so it’s the same little clique that had first got together at IPC again.<--

I wrote a number of features in the early issues, despite the fact that there were far more competent film-journalists also working for the magazine, and Dez and I also took a day-trip to Elstree when Hammer were shooting To the Devil a Daughter, which meant another feature I got to write up, in issue 2. We did actually get on the set briefly, while they were filming (I only got round to watching it recently – dreadful movie), but we spent most of the time talking to special effects man Les Bowie, who took great delight in showing us how gory effects could be got with latex skin and artificial blood. A charming man who really seemed to enjoy his work.

The articles had my name on, but they weren’t so good at crediting the comic-strips, at least early on. I did quite a number of movie adaptations, where we were generally working from copies of the original scripts, plus photos; and also some of the short stories, ‘Van Helsing’s Terror Tales’.

Despite not having my name on it, I wrote the adaptation for Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires in issue 4, which, being a Hammer/Shaw Brothers co-production and a Dracula/kung fu mash-up, was an obvious one for me. It had some lovely artwork by Brian Lewis, who I was delighted to be working with, but it seemed the feeling wasn’t all that mutual: the single time I met him, he immediately complained that my scripts gave him too much to draw!

Issue 8 saw my first ‘Father Shandor, Demon Stalker’ solo story, with John Bolton artwork. Shandor had first appeared in Dracula Prince of Darkness, which we’d adapted in issue 6, though Donne Avenell wrote that (John had been the artist on that as well). I think Dez suggested the idea as a way of stretching the material, though obviously it would have been quite a while before we ran through all of Hammer’s horror films. He told me we could do the strip because, unlike in the Dracula movie where the name of the character was given in the credits as ‘Sandor’ (the correct Hungarian spelling), we’d be spelling it phonetically as ‘Shandor’, and that would make it okay. I took his word for this, though I never actually discovered what Hammer’s feelings on the matter might have been. The second story, again with John, appeared in issue 16, and a third in issue 21 … and, of course, we revived the character later for Warrior.

Other adaptations I did included Curse of the Werewolf (issue 10), Plague of the Zombies (13), One Million Years B.C. (14), The Reptile (19), Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter (20, with Steve Parkhouse doing the artwork, which was nice), The Mummy (22) and Brides of Dracula (27-28). From this level of detail, you’ll gather that my copies of HoH were actually accessible! I know I did a few of the ‘Terror Tales’, but these were frequently uncredited, so it’s a bit hard for me to remember which were by me. I think I wrote three or four of those.

I’m not quite sure why the title changed from House of Hammer to House of Horror with issue 19, and then to Halls of Horror with 21, but I suspect this may have been something to do with the contract with Hammer. Effectively, the magazine folded in August 1978 with issue 23, though Dez revived it as a ‘Quality’ publication in 1982, as a companion to Warrior. By then I was no longer writing for it, though, and the Brides of Dracula adaptation was a left-over script from the original series. The magazine finally folded for the second time in 1984.

I had a fair amount of fun on HoH, as well as getting a reasonable amount of work out of it. I found script adaptation really quite easy, and we had a good bunch of artists and writers, including John Bolton, Brian Lewis, Steve Parkhouse, David Jackson and Chris Lowder, as well as some more ‘old school’ writers like Donne Avenell and Scott Goodall. And that basically set me up as one of Dez’s main writers, when he moved on to Marvel UK.<-

PÓM: Did you find it easier working on your writing away from home, or did it make any difference?

SM: Frankly, this is a question I’ve never really had cause to think about before, and since 1973 I’ve pretty much done all my writing at home anyway. And when I still had family here, they always understood that I needed to work and left me alone. So, I think the first answer would be no, it wasn’t easier working away from home. But whether it was harder I’m not really sure. When you’re 23/24 and just starting out, you’re full of energy and enthusiasm, and that carries you through an awful lot … including, I suspect, having to deal with customers while you’re typing.

PÓM: Who else did you end up writing for at this time?

SM: Actually, my memory of the period around 1973/4 is a bit fuzzy. I suspect after Target folded may have been the period when I was writing for Mirabelle, and I’m not sure how long I continued writing Tarzan for Sweden. If I’d known I was going to end up doing this interview, I would have kept all those old account books!

The next major thing to come up was the first Kung Fu Annual, based on the TV series starring David Carradine. At the time there was a big Christmas market for hardback annuals, both things like the Beano Annual and books based on popular TV shows. I got the job on the recommendation of John Barraclough, who both knew of my interest in martial arts movies and my capabilities as a writer. I don’t remember who the editor on that first book was, but the publisher was Brown, Watson Ltd., which I rather liked, because formerly they’d been behind the Digit line of paperbacks that published a lot of the SF adventures I’d read in the early 1960s, though by now the company name had been bought up and was just part of the larger Thorpe & Porter conglomerate. That first Kung Fu annual appeared in the autumn of 1974, so I would have written it in the winter of 1973/1974, as there was always a fairly large lead-up time. It was 64 pages, with comic strips, text stories and features, and I wrote the whole book for a flat fee of £200. I was told later it sold a quarter of a million copies, and there was a Dutch edition as well. Of course, no one even thought of royalties in those days, but I did get my name on the book! It was the only annual I ever did get a credit for.

By the following year, John Barraclough had taken over as editor of Brown, Watson’s annuals, working from offices in Wardour Street, and that started an association that went on until 1986. After a few years, the Babani brothers, Brian and Peter, bought out the annual department from Thorpe & Porter and set themselves up as Grandreams Ltd., with offices in Kentish Town, but John continued as editor, I continued as main writer, and the annuals continued to look exactly the same.

That was pretty much my winter work taken care of, over those dozen years, though obviously I’d frequently be writing for weeklies at the same time. I’d get a call from John around September, and he’d tell me what we were going to be doing that year for publication the following autumn, and I’d generally get between four and six annuals to do, which would keep me busy until the spring. Sometimes I wrote the entire book. I’d nearly always write all the strips and text stories, while sometimes I’d do the features, and sometimes someone else would. If he wanted to include things like puzzle pages, they were definitely by someone else! In the end, I wrote 69 annuals for John, in whole or in part, doing things like Kung Fu, Planet of the Apes, The Bionic Woman, The Fall Guy, Knightrider, Dick Turpin, Sherlock Holmes, The Dukes of Hazzard, Battlestar Galactica and even some dreadful old rubbish like Supergran.

Usually for each annual I’d be writing three 8-page scripts and three or four 2,500 word text stories, though sometimes I’d link things up as serials, and do the strip as, say four chapters of six pages each, or link the text stories. By now, John just trusted me to give him what he wanted, so I pretty much handled things the way I liked. I remember by the time we got to the fourth Kung Fu annual he called me and said something like: ‘We’ve got to do it again, but we haven’t got the budget to include any comic-strips this time, so you can just fill up the 64 pages with whatever you like.’ Like I said, John wasn’t exactly a control freak.

The money wasn’t all that great (I think it was about £10 a page for strips, though by the time it got to the 1980s, I told John I couldn’t afford to work for that any more, and got an immediate pay-rise to £15), but there was a lot of work there, which made up. Even so, it had to be done quickly to make it economical, so I was often doing a story a day … though a ‘day’ was actually lunchtime to lunchtime. After lunch I’d start thinking about a story, and if it was a strip I’d make sure that by the time I went to bed I’d sorted out the plot, broken it down into frames and usually scribbled out the dialogue; then in the morning I’d type up the script, mail it to John, and then after lunch, start the whole process again. If it was a text story, I’d just sort the plot out in the afternoon, then write the story the next morning, straight onto the typewriter in one draft with no revisions at all. If it looked like I had too much plot, the action would suddenly speed up toward the end; if too little, it’d slow down! But generally, after a couple of years, I’d got things sorted out, and knew pretty well how much plot I needed to write a 2,500 word story.

We had some decent artists on those books, though frequently fairly early in their careers, including Paul Neary, Ian Gibson, David Lloyd, David Jackson and John Hudson. And I talked John into taking some Alan Moore cartoons for the BJ and the Bear annual. Even more unlikely, when it came to the ‘History of Magic’ features for the Mr. Merlin annual, I actually persuaded him to let me illustrate them myself!

If the TV programmes were already showing, I could just watch them, or if we were doing the annuals for the second or third time, there was no problem. More often than not, though, the programmes wouldn’t start showing until after I’d written the book, so then I’d possibly be taken to a little preview theatre in Wardour Street to see an advance showing of the pilot, or sometimes the only reference I’d have to work from would be a script and some publicity photos. Fortunately, though, I seemed to have a knack for picking out the essentials of the characters and what the show was about almost instantly (and perhaps even more fortunately, I had a very easy-going editor!), so I managed to get away with it. Knightrider was one of the shows where I only saw the pilot and, as it happened, I really didn’t like the programme very much, so I couldn’t bring myself to watch it when it started on TV … but I still wrote five annuals for the show, just on the basis of the pilot.

The worst case was writing the strip adaptation of the Roger Moore James Bond movie, Octopussy, which was published as a hardback annual by Grandreams, and as a magazine in the USA by Marvel. As usual with James Bond movies, the film company were incredibly secretive, so they wouldn’t let me have any production photos, and they wouldn’t let me take the script away either. Instead I had to go into their office in central London for three or four days running and sit there alone in a private room with the script, jotting down the essentials of the plot in a notebook. And that was all I had to write the script from … but I still ended up with the film company congratulating me on the job I’d done. Paul Neary drew the strip, and I’m not sure if he got any reference either, but everyone seemed happy, so we just moved on to the next project.

So, like I said, this went on until 1986, and that autumn the phone didn’t ring, and I was busy with other stuff, so I didn’t ring either, and that was the end of it. I never heard from John again, and have no idea what happened to him, though I occasionally think it would be nice to know. But I think the TV-based annuals had pretty much passed their sell-by date by then (the previous year I’d only done one or two), so even if I’d wanted it, there probably wouldn’t have been a great deal of work to be had anyway. At some point I’ll have to read some of that stuff again, just to see if it really was any good (or otherwise) after all.

PÓM: Tell me about those movie scripts you mentioned.

SM: As I said, it came about through my knowing Roy McAree, and I’m guessing it would have been about 1976, as I’d seen a few movies scripts by then, either from adapting them for House of Hammer, which was starting up around then, or from seeing them for reference to the TV-based annuals I was writing by then. The first explosive kung fu boom was starting to blow out by then, and Roy knew what I did for a living when I wasn’t goggling at gorgeous Chinese actresses, so one day I got a call from him telling me he wanted to set up his own production company, and was looking for someone to write a script. The deal was that there’d be no money up front, but if the movie was made I’d be on a percentage and, in terms of usual movie industry rates, quite a large percentage too. As far as I recall, I think he had some sort of basic plot idea or outline, which never actually had a title. It was just referred to as ‘Snutch’, which Roy derived somehow from ‘no such’ movie, as he didn’t want to give anything away in the trade. It was intended to be a vehicle for Wang Yu, which suited me very well as he was one of my favourite Chinese actors, and was going to be set in Iran (this was obviously before the Islamic Revolution of 1979).

There are basically two types of movie script. The first is a ‘first draft’ script, which describes the action and gives the dialogue, and is what most people present when they’re trying to sell something. And then there’s the ‘shooting script’, which has all the camera directions, such as ‘pan left’ or ‘tight close up’, which is usually written much later in the development process. Roy asked me to write ‘Snutch’ as a shooting script, so I said ‘sure’ and went away and wrote it. I’d seen at least one shooting script, and in the same way as with the annuals I seem to have a facility for picking up these sort of things, so I turned it in and Roy’s partner (whose name I forget) said ‘this is great … we can just give this to some monkey and he can get on with it’ (‘some monkey’ giving you some idea of his attitude to directors) and ‘where did you learn to write scripts?’ To which I could only reply: ‘Well, I didn’t …’ They told me to get a passport and prepare to fly out to Iran to check out locations, which frankly made me a little nervous, as it wasn’t quite clear who was supposed to be going with me.

This same partner had also written a script called ‘The New Spartans’, and they then decided to go with that first, with him directing as well. They’d raised money from Germany and elsewhere, and the cast included Wang Yu, Toshiro Mifune, Harry Andrews, Britt Eklund and others of similar calibre. They got a couple of days into shooting when the Germans pulled their money out. In later years, one of my Chinese movie dealer contacts actually managed to get me a DVD of the rushes they’d shot, and frankly they were absolutely appalling, so I’m not surprised the Germans pulled the plug. But that caused the collapse of the entire enterprise, and I think Roy lost quite a lot of money. Eventually he moved to Hong Kong, where I know he produced at least one documentary about kung fu movies, and of course by then I lost contact with him. Shame. Roy was a nice man, and though I never got paid for my work, I never held it against him.

Before he left, though, and some months after ‘Snutch’ went down, he put me in touch with a gent called Paul de Savary and his Chinese partner. They’d acquired the film rights to Dan Dare, and now wanted to do an updated version which basically turned Dan into ‘James Bond in space’. They had a fairly detailed plot outline of about 30 pages, and they wanted me to turn this into a first draft script for a two-hour movie. With this kind of script you usually reckon on one single-spaced page per minute, so they wanted a 120-page script … and they wanted it written in a week. So once again I said ‘sure’ and we actually signed a contract that would give me £1500 for my week’s work, which was an enormous sum to me at the time. So I spent the next seven days doing nothing else but write and sleep, with my Mum bringing me cups of coffee and meals at my desk and, eventually, I turned up at their office on time and script in hand. A couple of days later they phoned me up and said the script was great but they’d changed their minds, and were now going to do a series of 10-minute Dan Dare TV shows instead, and they wanted to pay me £750. As you can imagine, I wasn’t greatly pleased about this, but the best advice I could get (from Roy) was that it wasn’t worth taking them to court, so I’d be better off accepting what they offered.

At some point in all this, though I’m not sure of the exact sequence, another of Roy’s producer friends offered me £200 to revise the script of his Mary Millington soft porn movie into something ‘good’, but I took one look at the script and told him that no one could make that sort of rubbish ‘good’, no matter how much he was paid, and didn’t take the job. And that concluded my involvement with the movie industry, with an understandably sour taste in my mouth. So, essentially, I’ve just refused to have anything to do with movies or TV ever since.

PÓM: Did you ever actually learn Chinese, or go visit the country?

SM: I didn’t learn the language in any formal way, though over the years I’ve come to recognise quite a number of phrases while watching movies, so long as they’re spoken in Mandarin (the national language) rather than Cantonese (the southern dialect they speak in Hong Kong). But I wouldn’t dare try to speak it, as the language is tonal, so words can be pronounced in any of four different tones, and you might have, say, forty different words pronounced ‘ming’, the only way you can tell which is the right one being the tone it’s pronounced in, and the context it appears in; so the possibility of asking for a pint of milk and unintentionally saying something like ‘My postilion has been struck by lightning’ is quite high. Not for nothing did someone once describe Chinese as ‘not so much a language as a disease’!

But I’ve always been more interested in reading the language than speaking it, and while I don’t remember an awful lot of characters, I can often pick my way through a short piece of text with the aid of a dictionary. Mind you, learning how to use a Chinese/English dictionary is a bit of an achievement in itself! Fortunately, there are now computerised dictionary programs that make life rather easier. Even so, sorting out a paragraph of Chinese would still take me quite a long time.

As for the second part of your question, like I said earlier, I’ve never been east of Dover. I’m really not much of a traveller and, while there are obviously historical sites it would be fascinating to see, modern China isn’t really what I’m interested in. What appeals to me is a romanticised, traditional China that no longer exists, if it ever did, because that romanticised version is largely coloured by tales of Daoist magicians and the heroics of wuxia fiction. Better to keep to the China in my head, I think, rather than be confronted by contemporary reality.

To be continued…

[Because the above section is, by my standards, quite short, to allow the next section to start where it needs to, I'm adding on a list of All Steve Moore's Brown Watson / Grandreams Annuals in both alphabetical and chronological order. This list was sent to me by Steve himself, and he told me it was compiled with the help of Steve Holland of Bear Alley Books.]

Brown Watson/ Grandreams Annuals with Work by Steve Moore

C = Cover
F = Features
I = Illustrations
R = Reprint
S = Strips
T = Text Stories
U = Unknown
W = Whole Book

Illustrators named where known


1977 – T?, S? (I must have written something for this, or I wouldn’t have a copy! But a lot of it doesn’t read like me. Maybe one T?) (I – John Bolton)

1978 – T, S (F???) (John Higgins)

1977 – T, S, some F (Ian Gibson)
1978 – T, S (Ian Gibson)

1981 – T, S (cartoons – Alan Moore [here])

1982 – T, S

1979 – T, S (Felix Carrion)
1980 – T, S (Felix Carrion)

1981 – T, S
1982 – T, S (Cartoons – Alan Moore, reprinted from BJ & THE BEAR)

1981 – T, S (David Lloyd)
1982 – T, S (David Lloyd)
1983 – T, S (David Lloyd)

1979 – T, F? (S = R. I – Evi DeBono)
1980 – T (S = R. I – David Lloyd)

1977 – F (S = R. I – John Britton)

1977 – T, S (S, I – Ian Gibson. I – John Bolton)

1980 – S (From synopses by Phil Redmond?) (T by David Angus, from Redmond synopses) (I – John Cooper)

1979 – T, S, F? (John Higgins + R )
1980 – T, S (David Lloyd + R )
1981 – T (S = R. C – Paul Neary, I – David Lloyd)
1982 – T (S = R. C, I – Paul Neary)
1983 – T (S = R. C, I – Paul Neary)
1984 – T (S = R. C – Paul Neary. IU)

1987 – T, S, 1F

1982 – T, S (F???) (David Lloyd)
1983 – T, S (David Lloyd)
1984 – T, S (Jim Eldridge)
1985 – T, S (Jim Eldridge)
1986 – T, S (Jim Eldridge)

1974 – W (S – Desmon Walduck, I – Melvyn Powell)
1975 – W (SU, I – John Bolton)
1976 – W (S – Paul Neary, I – Ian Gibson)
1977 – W (I – John Britton, John Bolton?)

1978 – T, S (David Lloyd)

1984 – T, S, 1F (John Higgins)

1986 – T (S = R )
1987 – T (S = R)

1981 – T, S

1980 – T, S (John Higgins)

1982 – T, S, some F (Mick Austin. 2F, I – Steve Moore)

1977 – 1 S, some F (John Bolton)
1978 – 2 T, 1 F (John Bolton + U )

OCTOPUSSY (James Bond movie adaptation)
1983 – S (Paul Neary)

1975 – T, S , F (S = U. I – John Bolton)
1976 – T, S (S = John Bolton + Oliver Frey. I = John Bolton + U )
1977 – T, S (John Bolton)

1977 – T?, S? (I must have written something for this, or I wouldn’t have a copy! But a lot of it doesn’t read like me.) (I – Edmond Ripoll)

1979 – T, S (Carlos Cruz)

1979 – T, F? (S = R. I – Evi DeBono)
1980 – T (S = R. I – David Lloyd)
1981 – T (S = R. C – Paul Neary. I – David Lloyd)
1982 – T (S = R. C – Paul Neary. I – Paul Neary + Mick Austin)
1983 – T (S = R. C, I – Paul Neary)
1984 – T (S = R. C, IU )
1985 – T (S = R. C, IU )

1983 – T (S = R. I – Leigh Baulch + Jerry Paris?)

1979 – F (S = R)

1978 – F (S = R)

1985 – S

1978 – F (S = R)

1976 – T (S = R. I – John Bolton)
1977 – T (S = R. I – John Britton, John Bolton)

1983 – T, S (John Higgins)

1982 – T, S (David Jackson)

1976 – T (S = R. I – John Bolton)
1977 – T (S = R. I – John Bolton)

1983 – T, S (John Higgins)

1979 – T, S


1974 (1)

1975 (2)

1976 (4)

1977 (10)

1978 (6)

1979 (7)

1980 (6)

1981 (6)

1982 (8)

1983 (8)

1984 (4)

1985 (3)

1986 (2)

1987 (2)

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47. SDCC 14: Fiona Staples… Artist, Icon, Saga Fan

By David Nieves

On SDCC Friday, after a rousing Brian K Vaughan one man show, Saga co-creator Fiona Staples took the room stage for an hour of career and advice for young artists in her own spotlight. Fiona’s time was led by Jennifer de Guzman director of Image Comics Trade Book Sales.

Fiona’s introduction read like a hall of fame induction ceremony. It felt as though the entire hour could just be a reading of everything the artist has accomplished in her career. After the accolades, the ladies jumped into Staples discography of comics beginning with a 24hr comic challenge she did alongside other would be comic makers in a mall food court. Her first professional work was a horror story in 2006 called Done to Death. The book would later be republished through IDW. Her Wildstorm work was touched on and through her early journey it was clear to see how her style has evolved through the artist’s unique lens, particularly seeing a decline of lines contrasted with a rise in her painted style. She credited a time spent in the UK with friend Frazer Irving for teaching her how digital can be used to create “beautiful organic work that doesn’t necessarily look digital.” Of course no Fiona career retrospective would be complete without talking about Saga.

She told the story of being introduced to Brian K Vaughan. Instrumental in getting the two together was acclaimed comics writer Steve Niles. He pointed Vaughan in Staples direction and she received an e-mail from BKV that included the elevator pitch, ” a family wrapped in a space opera.” This would be her first book that would be longer than six issues. When she asked Brian how long he wanted to do the book his answer was, “I want to do it forever.” Fiona Staples would clear her schedule for the rest of her life and we’re all better for it.

One of the most interesting tidbits from behind the scenes of Saga is that Staples reads every script as a fan. She knows very little ahead of time and it shows in the pages she draws. Every reaction we get from a monthly issue is her reaction to BKV’s words. It really is almost like Vaughan writes the book just for Fiona and we’re all along for the ride.

On the screen was her process for doing a page of Saga beginning with very light penciled layouts using photo references that she takes on her laptop, then inking and digital painting. She looks through a tremendous amount of photos to select just the right colors for every scene she paints. With some of the off the wall character death and sex scenes you’d imagine there’s some pretty hilarious photo reference, and there is but it will never see the light of day according to Staples.

Fan questions ran the gamut from the simplicity of her favorite color to the complexity of education in the arts. For the traditionalist out there, Fiona still loves to draw with the hand tools of the trade, but in her view it isn’t the most efficient way to finish a monthly comic. On the topic of the controversies that come about seemingly every issue of Saga. The duo acknowledge what could cause controversy when planning a story arc but always seem to ignore it if the story would be altered in any way.  Her view on traditional cape comics was quite unexpected. Fiona doesn’t have much of desire to do any of the most popular characters, but instead would do a character like Deadman.

The panel closed out with what we can expect from the next few issues of Saga. She teased the crowd by saying ” heartbreak and some jokes.”

When you looked at that large stage with just Fiona and Jennifer, you indeed see the greatest artist of her generation. If you take all her words, mannerisms, and bright smile you see the strength of her artistic desires but also a vulnerability that’s prevalent in Hazel’s story within the pages of Saga. When we look at Fiona Staples, we’re looking at the imagination and vision that will no doubt leave her branded an icon in the comic book industry, but to hear her speak so softly and humbly about her experiences endears the artist to you on an entirely new level.

You can pick up Saga every month and read the random thoughts of Fiona Staples on twitter.


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48. Interview: Rick Geary on Kickstarter, Murder, and Billy the Kid

Anybody who has read any amount of my writing, either here and elsewhere, will probably know who my favourite comics writer is*. But I also have a favourite comics artist, whose work is a constant delight to me, and by whom I have pretty much everything I can get my hands on. It’s Rick Geary. He mostly works in black & white, has almost never done any work for The Big Two, and you could just about be forgiven for not having heard of him, but he’s been making his living as a cartoonist and comics artist for nearly forty years now, and is, for me, the comics artist whose work I cherish the most.

He worked on all sorts of things for Dark Horse Comics, and many others, over a number of years, much of which has been collected, and on a shelf right beside me, as I write. In 1987 he started work on a series called A Treasury of Victorian Murder for NBM Publishing, which now stands at eight volumes of true murder tales, which has since been joined by A Treasury of XXth Century Murder, which is up to six volumes, both of which feel like his true life’s work. I’ve always been a fan of true crime stories anyway, and to have them drawn in Geary’s gorgeous black line work is wonderful. If you want to try one – and you should – they’re all available on his Author Page at NBM. It’s not for nothing that Our Glorious Leader, Ms H. MacDonald, said ‘

No season would be complete without the latest in Rick Geary’s ongoing series of 20th-century murders: with elegant, unsettling penwork, Madison Square Tragedy: The Murder of Stanford White tells the notorious story of architect Stanford White, who was murdered by a jealous husband in a theater atop the original Madison Square Garden.

As well as his ongoing work with NBM, Rick Geary has recently taken to selling books through a series of Kickstarter campaigns, with the most recent, for The True Death of Billy the Kid, still running, until Monday the 11th of August, a week from today. It’s going to be a 60-page black-and-white hardcover graphic novel, and I can pretty much guarantee it’ll turn up right on time, too, because I’ve backed his other two projects, and they did – which is more than can be said for other fundraisers I’ve ante-ed up for, but that is something I’ll wait to address here another day, in the not too distant future.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s a quick interview with Rick Geary, which I was thrilled to be given the chance to do…

Billy the Kid

Pádraig Ó Méalóid: This is your third Kickstarter campaign, at this stage. First of all, what made you decide to try out fundraising like this as a way to get your work out there?
[Link to The True Death of Billy the Kid Kickstarter.]

Rick Geary: The first time I tried fundraising on Kickstarter was about a year ago, simply out of curiosity as to how it works and to see how well I would do. I thought I should start out with the kind of true crime graphic novel I’m known for. This was The Elwell Enigma, and it succeeded beyond my wildest imagination. After that, I thought I’d try something different. A is for Anti-Christ: Obama’s Conspiracy Alphabet, a kind of satirical children’s book, was a bit of a harder and slower process, but it finally came through. At last, I thought I’d use Kickstarter to fund the kind of historical and non-fiction subjects that fascinate me but which aren’t precisely murder cases. The True Death of Billy the Kid comes out of my life here in Lincoln County, and has now exceeded my funding goal with several more weeks to go. So I have to say I’m very happy with my Kickstarter experience. I also must say that the experience has been made as smooth as possible by my friend and agent and production genius Mark Rosenbohm, who has managed all three campaigns.

PÓM: Yes, I’d noticed that all your campaigns were under Mark’s name. So, is he effectively acting as your publisher on these, or is that the wrong way to look at it?

RG: I suppose he could be technically called my publisher, although I like to think of these books as self-published. They all have come out under my little imprint, Home Town Press.

PÓM: What led you to want to try out an internet fundraiser like this in the first place, and why did you choose Kickstarter to do it on?

RG: There are certain projects in my mind that I know would never be taken on by a mainstream publisher. The Obama Alphabet was certainly one of them. I began my career publishing my own work and I’ve always believed in it. Why Kickstarter? At the time, it seemed to be the only one out there.

PÓM: Are there any drawbacks to using Kickstarter, do you find?

RG: The hardest part of a Kickstarter campaign, though I’d hate to call it a drawback, is the work that comes on the back end. I try to be very conscientious about packaging the books and other premiums and sending them out in a timely manner. Almost 200 mailings for my first project. It’s all well worth it, though.

PÓM: Are you still producing work through more conventional means, like with NBM, for instance? I know they published your Madison Square Tragedy – The Murder of Stanford White around December 2013, so is there anything more scheduled from them?

RG: Yes, I’m still producing murder stories for NBM. I’m currently in the midst of a project that’s a bit of a departure from the true-life cases. Louise Brooks: Detective is a fictional mystery featuring the actress Louise Brooks solving a murder in 1940′s Kansas. After that I plan to return to non-fiction with the story of the Black Dahlia murder.

PÓM: Am I right in thinking you’re somehow related to Louise Brooks?

RG: She was my mother’s second cousin. Though they never met, they grew up in the same area of southeastern Kansas. Brooks was my mother’s maiden name (and my middle name). My mother was born and grew up in the tiny town of Burden, Kansas, as did both of Louise’s parents. The graphic novel I’m working on, Louise Brooks: Detective, takes place during the brief time (1940-42) that she returned to Kansas after her Hollywood career collapsed. The action unfolds in Wichita and Burden.

PÓM: What is it that draws you towards these murder stories, do you think?

RG: It’s become kind of a cliché, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve been attracted to the dark side of human nature. Perhaps because I have such a light and sunny nature myself. Stories of anti-social behavior have the most drama and excitement. And the unsolved cases are the best of all, for the mystery they embody and the speculation they engender. I’m a big proponent of the essential unknowability of things.

PÓM: With the unsolved cases, do you have opinions of your own on who might have done them, or does that not matter to you? With things like Jack the Ripper, for instance, which has virtually mutated into fiction, do you have any ‘favourite’ suspects?

RG: In most cases my goal is to keep a journalistic detachment and not express opinions of my own. Some of the unsolved murders have, as you say, mutated into fiction, but I try to give equal weight to all the theories out there, no matter how ludicrous. Jack the Ripper is the perfect example. The endless speculation linking him to the royal family or other well-known people is pretty flimsy, though entertaining. My belief is that the Ripper had to be some faceless, anonymous East End resident, someone you wouldn’t even notice on the street.

PÓM: What is it about Billy the Kid, that made you want to do this particular book?

Billy 21 (1)

RG: Upon moving to Lincoln County, New Mexico, seven years ago, I found that the Kid is a very big deal here. The town of Lincoln, where he spent much of his brief life, is a perfectly preserved little western settlement, and the local historical society is very protective of his story. Accuracy is the top priority. I noticed that no graphic novel has been published that told his true story, and it seemed a natural for my next project on Kickstarter.

Billy 22 (1)

PÓM: How much research goes into doing one of these books?

RG: I do as much as I can and still fit within the deadline. I start by reading as many books with as many different points of view on the subject as I can find, and take copious notes. I fill this out with online sources, but what I find there is usually not as detailed as the information contained in books. Then I condense all the material into what I hope is a clear and compelling narrative structure. As for picture reference for period costumes, interiors etc, I usually rely on my extensive personal library. But I can also find pretty much anything I want online.

Billy 23 (1)

PÓM: Have you any plans to do more ‘Wild West’ based stories, or is Billy the Kid a one-off?

RG: Nothing specific on the horizon, but I wouldn’t rule anything out.

PÓM: What’s your feeling about fundraisers like Kickstarter, now that you’ve been through it three times? Is it the future of comics publishing, or just an interesting sideline, for you?

RG: I can’t speak for others, but my own experience with Kickstarter has been nothing but positive thus far. I don’t know if it’s the future of comics publishing, but it’s certainly my future. I plan to use it, perhaps once a year, for graphic novel projects that treat broader historical subjects and wouldn’t overlap with the murder stories I do for NBM.

PÓM: Will this, and your previous Kickstarter projects, be available for the general public to buy later on, or is this the only way to get hold of them?

RG: All of my Kickstarter books are, for the moment, sold personally by me at the SD Comic-Con and at APE, or else are available via the “RG Store” on my Website. I’ve also been selling them, on consignment, through a retail outlet in my tiny burg of Carrizozo. Whether they will eventually gain a wider distribution remains to be seen.

PÓM: Thanks very much for taking the time to do this interview, Rick.

RG: Entirely my pleasure, Pádraig. Thanks for everything.

Some Links:
The True Death of Billy the Kid Kickstarter page
Rick Geary’s own Website
Rick Geary’s Author Page at NBM
Rick Geary’s Facebook Page


[*It’s Alan Moore, in case there was any doubt.]

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49. SDCC 14: Batman’s 75th, My 20th, and a Lot of First Experiences

By David Nieves

We’re all still recovering from copious amounts of walking around taking pictures with people and wishing the people in front of us taking pictures would just move. Yes another San Diego Comic-Con has come and gone. By now all the news is out and we’re still reeling from the Batman V Superman and Avengers: Age of Ultron footage. Every Comic-Con comes with two things, a ridiculous hotel bill and for a lot of us the empty promise of this being my final one. For me the one take away from this show is that, now more than ever, Comic-Con has the power to be a boom for every industry if affects but it doesn’t always accolade with the full potential of its crown.

I’ve been going to SDCC since 1994, back then I was a snot nosed adolescent who knew nothing about panels or even that comic books had writers. In those days all I would do is walk laps around the exhibit hall. There were no Petco Park events, or Indigo Ballrooms. Hall H was a gleam in the eye of some up and coming PR person. You might not believe it but I managed to have fun simply by trying to get as many of those door sized Knightfall Batman posters from the DC booth that year as my grubby pin seeking hands could carry.

Fueled by studio funds and rabid fandom, SDCC has turned into a monster. A hydra mated with Cousin It, if you get that reference then you’re old enough to appreciate what SDCC once was. Now Comic-Con is the cradle of fandom, and it’s divided everyone. There those who feel that the show is no longer something they want to be a part of, and there are also lots who live for the spectacle it currently encapsulates. Understand that fandom is never a bad thing; it fuels economies and brings people together who would otherwise never leave the comforts of their basement. You might as well get use to it because the extravaganza isn’t going away.

(It isn’t all bad sometimes you can catch up with old elfish classmates)


This year was no exception. From the moment I arrived in the Whale’s Vagina on Wednesday; my senses were overloaded with promotions for Guardians of The Galaxy, Blacklist, Gotham plastered everywhere from busses, trains, to hotel elevator doors. Pedicabs were already huffing people over to different parts of the Gaslamp for meager tips. Comic-Con had already been in full “on” mode days before I even arrived.

Preview night was just as bad in overcrowding as any regular day of SDCC. Five years ago it was still hard to get that exclusive collectible you wanted but still within the realm of possibility. Five seconds into the exhibit hall opening this year and almost every line from Peanuts, Tokidoki, to Hasbro was either capped or full beyond reasonable time to wait for a tote bag. After, I walked to the Gaslamp to try and meet some friends for late dinner, to no one’s surprise there were already convention goers with bags and bags full of T-shirts, toys, and I can only assume remnants of the first borns they sacrificed to get their loot. I even witnessed an elderly woman who was barely 5’0 tall hoist two Comic-Con souvenir bags filled with –who knows what– above her shoulders like they were bags of dog kibble.

My preview night finished with old “good one big G” when I got back to my hotel room to upload photos; this wallet draining douche status symbol macbook of mine decides it’s time to die. Forcing me at 2am to smoke signal Heidi and figure out just how I’m going to handle the next four days of news and rabid fandom. Like any good sibling would my sister back home came through with a old tablet that was the size of a Speak and Spell. Which in retrospect would have been better to type on than this HP monstrosity. The next three days would be characterized by a lack of italicization, which kids never let anyone tell you isn’t important.

To open the first hour of the con, I foolishly tried to procure my wish list. Anyone who attends Comic-Con knows that list mostly comes from those people who tell you “hey can you pick me up a..” At least we can say SDCC disappoints people around the world even if they don’t attend. It creates lots of those disappointments that turn youngsters towards a life of stripping. After the first hour I’d given up that hope and simply abandoned my home address and phone in a feeble attempt to hide from crushed loved ones, but carried on to the convention floor where I had my first interview of the show. This was also by far my most nerve racking interview.

I got to speak with none other than the amazing Becky Cloonan, who I’m not afraid to say I totally swoon over. Yes, I’m one of those stereotypical comic book readers who’s confused and terrified by women. In fact there’s one doing that to me as I write this. But let’s talk about Becky. Though I was more nervous than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs; she was nothing short of a delight who has so much insight on how to live life to the fullest. You can listen to that entire thing here. Feel free to throw your grade school taunts at me you smug socially well adept bastards. Sorry, Comic-Con will do that to people. We cool? Yeah. Okay.

(Becky Cloonan is amazing at being amazing)


My first panel of the show was the DC Collectibles panel. Originally I had a spotlight and a Batman panel scheduled but with my productivity situation in question, I wanted a panel that I could easily go back to and dig up info on later. After that panel it was time to see if my laptop workaround was going to prove fruitful. Nope. Can’t bold type, can’t upload images, looks like this is all going to be eyewitness accounting and Lochness monster reports.

(Bombshell girls invade the DC Collectibles Panel)

Thursday closed out with another interview I’ve been looking forward to for weeks. Ever since I saw Karloff’s Frankenstein and read the IDW published 30 Days of Night, I’ve always wanted to talk about monsters with Steve Niles. I can proudly attest, we did that sh**! Not only did I find Steve to be every bit the punk rock scholar I imagined him to be, but he also made me feel like I belonged in my comics fandom. Just as anyone in life does, you gravitate towards like minded people (Booze/Drug Free hell yeah!). When you feel like you’ve been accepted because of who you are or what you love there’s no feeling like it. Thanks to Pam for letting me conduct this interview in her place.

(Steve Niles is the legend that lives up to the legend)

Naturally the kickoff of Comic-Con sees tons of parties and people in the streets that look like a World War Z scene come to life. Some of you who are reading this can vouch for the pain in the a** that train –which just stopped in front of the convention center for what felt like hours– was. It got so out of hand at one point that the hundreds of people waiting to cross the street into Gaslamp would brave oncoming traffic and hop the guard fence over the train tracks. Stay classy San Diego.

Thursday night I was invited by my main man Gaz from Rocksteady (developers of the Arkham game franchise) to the Batman: Cape Cowl Create exhibit party at the Hard Rock across the street from the convention center.


Since I showed up at about 11:30pm most of the party had moved on and there was nothing left but a few odd dancers and the remanence of a once open bar. Curious because I’d never stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel, I wandered into the elevator and hit the button for the secured 4th floor pool area. Miraculously the box moved and when the doors opened I found myself in the midst of the IGN/Sin City party. Yep I crashed a party. Even got to run into IGN’s Greg Miller who was kind enough not to have me tossed out for crashing.

(Gameovergreggy oreo dude extraordinaire)

Celebrities, a seemingly drunk Joe Quesada, everything any SDCC party could want. It was a fun time mingling with those I had no business talking to. A pro tip, if you ever find yourself at an industry party you weren’t invited to: act like you belong. You’d be surprised how people will welcome you by just peacocking a bit.  I had a few cokes, told Amanda Conner where she and Jimmy should go eat after the party and then I called it a night.

(Somewhere in that blurry mess is Amanda Conner and friends)

The next few days are a bit of a blur between overpriced pretzels, someone yelling out the Hall H news, talking to people on the floor and mistaking Geoff Johns for my long lost cousin at the DC booth. Friday was the convention grind in full force. Like I do at just about every show I’ve ever covered, I attended the Aspen Comics panel. If you’ve never checked out their books, I highly recommend that you do. They’re comic books made by people who care about comic books. Last year my 10th anniversary submission was picked for the souvenir book and I’d met editor Vince Hernandez. This year we talked again before the panel and during their presentation he acknowledged my contribution to their celebration in 2013. It was one of those surreal con moments you hear about. The house that Michael Turner built will always hold a special place for me.

Later in the day, I was involved in a BKV moment. First of all, if you ever see Brian K Vaughan’s name for anything immediately go to it. You’re guaranteed a memorable encounter. You can read all about his self hosted spotlight panel here. During the panel I thought to myself “I need a picture with this guy,” with SDCC eliminating all common sense I thought to myself what better time than in the middle of his panel. Voilâ.

One of the things that should stand out about BKV’s words is his passion for the comic book industry. This is a guy who has written and spearheaded successful television. If he really wanted to he could have left comics behind, but he came back. Not only did Vaughan come back, but still continues to champion the industry. He’s a comic book guy’s comic book guy.

My Friday would end with an eye opening interview with Naughty Dog’s Creative Director, Neil Druckmann. He’s the American success story come to life. A kid from Israel, who came to America at a young age and found comics. A medium which would inspire him to tell the incredible stories he does today. Listen to our full interview and hear how Sin City actually inspires part of The Last of Us.

Saturday had memories of its own, but what I can really recall is going over to an Age of Ultron preview showing and putting the whole shindig into perspective while talking with my friend and frequent collaborator Kevin Johnson. Fandom is never a bad thing, but SDCC has so many things working against it that the fact they are able to pull of this logistical nightmare every year is a little bit of a miracle. Bravo to Comic-Con International for it all.

First let’s get an observation out of the way. Most of you probably already see this but it dawned on me this year. Comic-Con has the same problem that social security does in the United States. Just like we don’t always retire at 65 and live longer than in previous years, so does this problem affect SDCC. I’m not saying the reason people can’t go to Comic-Con is because no one’s dying, it’s because we don’t outgrow this in our fandom anymore. Not only do we turn 30 and still go to SDCC, we make little versions of ourselves to add to our counts as another group of kids becomes of age to attend the coolest show on earth. This year I saw fewer solo attendees than ever before. It’s a very encouraging sign on a social level, especially when we live in the age of not talking to each other (right Robin!).

Where I take issue with San Diego Comic-Con isn’t with the overcrowding, the glitz and glamour, or masses of people who prevented me from picking up my Jim Lee T-Shirt. No I fault the people who should be influencing convention goers to try comics every chance they get. The Zack Snyders’, the Evans’, even the Samuel L Jacksons’. There’s so many celebrities, directors, and multi-media personalities that go to SDCC and say they love the medium but have never once said in their Hall H spectacles, “I’m here cause I love comics and everyone should be reading them!” So many publishers like Marvel say the books are what drive everything but Hall H has nothing to do with comics. I want to hear Sam Jackson talk about the first time he read Nick Fury for research or have Andrew Garfield tell me what issues of Spider-Man I should pick up. The passioned speeches and the gimmicks are fun to see but I can hear about their lives and movies on the news or TMZ. Talk to me about comics.

Obviously the Entertainment Weekly shoot and whatever story comes out of it is a step in the right direction. It definitely signals the beginning of comics getting their time in the limelight. There are tons of great creators and characters out there who should be talked about everywhere. We shouldn’t have to wait for a 75th anniversary or a movie announcement for them to make Hall H size news during the biggest comic book convention in the world. Comics need to survive and Comic-Con has the potential now more than ever to be the biggest part of that.

(Random Dan Slott picture I don’t remember taking)

Like most people who’ve been doing the con since before 2000, I’ve come to peace with the big show, but I just wish Comic-Con did everything it could to get people talking about comic books. But we don’t have to wait for SDCC to push the industry. Comics are for everybody, we can talk about them anywhere/ anytime; on the internet, at Portillo’s Hot Dogs, while we’re on dates, waiting in line to see Guardians of The Galaxy for the seventh time. Comics aren’t just for everybody, they’re for everywhere. No other medium can spawn such new and innovative ideas. It’s my big take away from the show, realizing how much I missed writing and talking about comics.

(Obligatory Rocket Pic)

Will I ever attend another SDCC? Who knows, my body recovers slower at my age; but I was an LA Kings fan long before 2012 and a Dodgers fan through the 80′s till now. I’m a glutton for punishment so you just might see me there, after all Becky Cloonan promised to take another picture with me.



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50. Comics Illustrator of the Week :: Andrew Robinson




dusty star detail

geek cover final with ring


5th beatle final cover1a


poisonivy harlequin print progression

king conan cover 4 final149293-103441-andrew-robinson


After serving his country in Desert Storm, artist Andrew Robinson attended The Savannah College of Art and Design in the early 90′s. He bounced around the south-eastern states for a while before settling on the west coast in sunny Pasadena, CA. His early comics work first appeared in popular anthologies such as Dark Horse Presents, and Negative Burn.

In the late 90′s he created the critically acclaimed independent comic, Dusty Star, and started to get high profile cover work for DC Comics on titles such as Hawkman, and Starman.

He’s had a resurgence in his comics work of late, with a multitude of new cover illustrations in recent years for Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse, just to name a few. In addition to that, he illustrated the fully painted, award winning graphic novel, The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story, which is set to be a major motion picture, soon.

To keep up with the latest news, and artwork by Andrew Robinson, you can go to his blog here.

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

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