Robot 6

Zudist Colony for January 2010

zudaWelcome once again to our monthly Zudist Colony column, where we interview all of the competitors in the Zuda Comics monthly contest. Or at least those who choose to respond, anyway.

Many thanks to Brigid Alverson, who pitched in on last month’s column. And thanks as well to the folks at Zuda and DC Comics, who help make this column possible each month.

If you’ve been to the Zuda home page today, you might have noticed that there are only nine competitors listed. It turns out that today the first-place Thunderchickens pulled out of the competition. I went ahead and included their answers at the bottom of this month’s column, even though you can no longer vote for them.

So, let’s get to it …

*****

Pavlov's Dream

Pavlov's Dream

Shari Chankhamma and Kelsie Yoshida, Pavlov’s Dream

JK: Tell me a little bit about yourself — where you’re from, other comics projects you’ve worked on if this isn’t your first, what you do when you aren’t doing comics, etc.

Shari: I’m a comic artist in Thailand, and have never been anything else. I’ve been working professionally for 10 or so years, with works published in Thailand, UK and US. My latest works are The Clarence Principle, a graphic novel published by SLG, Mammoth Book of Best New Manga 1, 2 and 3, and a piece in Liquid City, an anthology published by Image. I’m currently working on another graphic novel to be released summer of this year by SLG and another story in Liquid City 2.

Kelsie: I’m the co-writer, an engineer by day and writer/artist/gamer by night in the Pacific Northwest. Though I have a simple webcomic online, Zuda is my first contest and co-project with such large exposure.

JK: Tell me a little bit about your strip and what it’s about. What makes it unique when compared to the other strips in this competition?

Shari: I’ll leave that to Kelsie.

Kelsie: Pavlov’s Dream is about two brothers living ordinary lives before being abducted into the afterlife, meeting various mythological and historical figures. Finding their way home is just the start of the adventure, though, because something comes back with them, creating a mess in the living world. Otherworld type stories are common enough, but I hope our take on it will be different enough to distinguish it from others. But in my opinion what makes it stand out the most is the artwork, which is vibrant, lush and fun and suits the story.

JK: How are you promoting your strip this month?

Shari: We emailed everyone we know and hardly know, Twittered relentlessly and basically used word of mouth. We did a few ad campaigns as well, but not too many.

JK: What have you learned from participating in Zuda so far and what do you hope to gain from the experience over the long run?

Shari: Making comics is only half of the job. The other half is promoting it. Hopefully, I’ll learn a thing or two about self-promoting from this experience.

Kelsie: You have to wear many hats as a creator. Promoting is hard work and very important, but there’s a balance between promoting and coming off as an annoyance. The feedback has been great, positive and negative, and I hope it helps me improve. In the long run, I just want to share the stories floating around in my head with people, whatever the format.

JK: What do you plan to do with your strip if you don’t win? Will you continue with it somewhere else?

Shari: It will be continued on my website.

Kelsie: Definitely. The story is already outlined and half scripted. Once done, we hope it’ll also find a home with a publisher.

Iron Sam

Iron Sam

David Dumeer, Iron Sam

JK: Tell me a little bit about yourself — where you’re from, other comics projects you’ve worked on if this isn’t your first, what you do when you aren’t doing comics, etc.

I was born and raised, for the most part, in Connecticut. I’ve worked with John Layman and Marc Guggenheim on ‘Armageddon & Son’ and the first ‘Resurrection’ series, respectively, from Oni Press. I love cooking, spending time with my family, reading books, watching ‘Fringe’ and ‘Cougar Town,’ etc.

JK: Tell me a little bit about your strip and what it’s about. What makes it unique when compared to the other strips in this competition?

I had a really fun time working on it. It was an idea for a character named IRON SAMURAI, because of my love for Akira Kurosawa’s film ‘Yojimbo,’ and for brevity’s sake when I was making a script note to myself I wrote IRON SAM. It seemed like a good title and that’s more or less how it began.

JK: How are you promoting your strip this month?

I gotta be honest, I’m not the most aggressive promoter. I’d much rather spend my time working on my next project than mining for votes. I did harass my family, friends, local comic book retailers, and updated my site to promote Sammy.

JK: What have you learned from participating in Zuda so far and what do you hope to gain from the experience over the long run?

Where to begin… I learned volumes from this and hopefully managed to get my work out there. There’s nothing like having a diverse audience of readers. That’s gotta be my favorite part about Zuda.

JK: What do you plan to do with your strip if you don’t win? Will you continue with it somewhere else?

I don’t know, maybe someday. I don’t have any immediate plans for it, though.

War of the Woods

War of the Woods

Matthew Petz, War Of The Woods

JK: Tell me a little bit about yourself — where you’re from, other comics projects you’ve worked on if this isn’t your first, what you do when you aren’t doing comics, etc.

Well, my name’s Matthew Petz. I was born and raised in Long Island NY, and currently I’m living in Brooklyn. I freelance, so from job to job it can really vary. I’ve done illustrations for computer games, children’s illustrations, and indie comic work. The comic stuff has been everything from flatting to penciling/inking/coloring and lettering a book. I put out a small print run of my own comic called Tyrannosaurus Beth ( about a punk rock girl who turns into a T-Rex a when she eats sweets …) last year. You can check out various happenings at my website, monsterislandmedia.com.

JK: Tell me a little bit about your strip and what it’s about. What makes it unique when compared to the other strips in this competition?

My comic is called War of the Woods. Someone described it as Wind and the Willows meets Aliens, which I thought was perfect. It’s basically the classic alien invasion story, but from the point of view of the animal kingdom. Specifically a father and son otter and their friend a turtle in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. I think what makes it unique from the other strips this month is that this is a story that’s never been told before. We always see what it’s like for humans to survive in movies like Independence Day or War of the Worlds. My thought when thinking was…I wonder how the animals are gonna deal with this ?

JK: How are you promoting your strip this month?

I’m trying everything I can possibly think of ! I’ve been all over the internet. Posting in forums, using my twitter account, hassling everyone I know on Facebook and MySpace. Its constant. I have a blog set up as well at www.monsterislandmedia.com/war. There you can find a youtube trailer, and a song I recorded that serves as the comic’s theme. Also on that site I have a free downloadable Sketchbook PDF. Inside it has a bunch of sketches and commentary on how I came up with the comic, and what I was thinking. Through twitter.com/matthewpetz, I’ve been doing sketch contests and keeping the word out there. I want everyone to know that you can vote up until the last day of the contest. Almost as important is that you can change your vote too. I’m hoping to win over as many comic fans as possible.

JK: What have you learned from participating in Zuda so far and what do you hope to gain from the experience over the long run?

This is the third time I’m actually in the contest. Each time I’ve learned a lot that has helped me move forward. Whether its about what comic fans want to see, or how a comic should be presented. If you go in with an open mind, you can learn so much. There’s a wonderful community of creators on the DC Zuda message boards and within the contest itself. There’s always a lot of great advice to be had.

JK: What do you plan to do with your strip if you don’t win? Will you continue with it somewhere else?

I’m trying my hardest to focus on the contest. But I do know that whatever the outcome I’ll be continuing the comic. I have the first part of the story planned out at around 120 pages. Whatever happens I’ll be finishing those 120 pages. After the book is in the can we’ll see what’s the best option. I’ve received so many great compliments of encouragement that not finishing the story just isn’t and option. Whatever happens I would encourage everyone to follow me at twitter.com/matthewpetz for future updates whether War of the Woods is on Zuda or not.

Candy from Strangers

Candy from Strangers

Jim Rodgers and Byron Jackson, Candy from Strangers

JK: Tell me a little bit about yourself — where you’re from, other comics projects you’ve worked on if this isn’t your first, what you do when you aren’t doing comics, etc.

Jim Rodgers: I live on a hobby farm in Ontario Canada with my wife and five dogs. We own a gift shop and art gallery, and run a dog rescue in a small recreation town. When I’m not drawing I’m mountain biking or building trails to mountain bike on.

Byron Jackson: I’m from Brockton, Massachusetts, and when not writing or reading comics I enjoy cycling, freshwater fishing, and paintballing. Aside from Candy From Strangers Jim and I are working on a sci-fi horror thriller with the actor Max Ryan and Fraser Townley of Plywood Films. Check out Jim’s site for some preliminary drawings or go to www.plywoodllc.com for some more info on that.

Jim: It’s called Max Ryan: The Devilfish Project and we’re all hard at work on that at the moment–pretty excited about the possibilities with this concept. You can keep checking www.thedevilfishproject.com to see how it’s progressing.

JK: Tell me a little bit about your strip and what it’s about. What makes it unique when compared to the other strips in this competition?

Byron: Candy from Strangers would be best classified as a dark anthology of intertwined tales that involve recurring characters. Our goal would be in every chapter to give the reader 2 to 4 good “Whoa, that was messed up” or “Wow, didn’t see that coming” moments.

Jim:The overall tone is that of a tongue-in-cheek, modern, pulpy crime tale. The whole story is driven by short gruesome interstitials about two teenagers on the run. The interstitials are sensationalized and unrealistic–the kids are good looking, they drive cool classic cars, fantastic weaponry, each kill is topped by the next one in terms of graphic reward… but the real heart of the story is in the chapters themselves. In the chapters we see the true effects of their actions on the lives of their victims’ loved ones and we see the kids for what they are: ugly and objectionable. I think that what makes us unique compared to the other entries this month is that we are reality based and character driven. Our stories are small scope despite having in mind this great framework to hang the chapters on. Our competitors are very well-packaged concept pieces that all deal with fantasy elements.

JK: How are you promoting your strip this month?

Jim:I’ve done some extra artwork that I posted on a few forums but that’s about it.

Byron: A little email, a little twitter, but we were hoping people would take a look and say “Wow this is pretty cool, you’ve got my vote”.

JK: What have you learned from participating in Zuda so far and what do you hope to gain from the experience over the long run?

Byron: Strong arm votes or you’ll end up in 8th with the best comic (Just kidding) I’ll let Jim field this….

Jim:We’ve learned that you really need to bring a marketing plan to compete. Our competitors have great work and they’ve brought votes with them or found votes out there that they sent to Zuda. We’d love to learn more about how to do that.

JK: What do you plan to do with your strip if you don’t win? Will you continue with it somewhere else?

Byron:Well I think just getting into Zuda no matter where you finish is pretty prestigious in itself. As for after the contest…

Jim:I was chuffed when I heard back from Zuda that we were in and that was the real victory (that’s what everyone says when they’re in 8th of course). I knew it was a long hard battle to come in first since I’ve been a long-time follower and voter on Zuda. We’ll try and repackage it at some point I suppose and get it out there.

War of the Fallen

War of the Fallen

Quinton Bedwell, War of the Fallen

JK: Tell me a little bit about yourself — where you’re from, other comics projects you’ve worked on if this isn’t your first, what you do when you aren’t doing comics, etc.

I’m a Graphic Artist from San Angelo, Texas. My wife and little girl, moved here from Gulfport, Mississippi after Katrina. I usually work about 10 hours a day and then spend my evenings with the family. Most of my comic work is done about 4:00 in the morning until I go to work, so it is tough at times to follow my ambitions but my love for the art form drives me pretty hard. I’ve had the privilege of doing some interior pages for AC Comics and some Covers for Alex Thompson’ Approbation Comics series “Campus Chaos.”

JK: Tell me a little bit about your strip and what it’s about. What makes it unique when compared to the other strips in this competition?

Well, this strip is definitely different in many ways. It’s kind of a Sci-Fi-Horror-Drama-Mystery. It really does have everything. Moreover, it has a more cinematic feel to it in the scene structure and content unlike most of the other work in the competition. There are plenty of other details but none that I could elaborate on at this time.

JK: How are you promoting your strip this month?

I’ve started a blog on blogger.com, and I also hound people to go check it out through emails and bulletins on different sites. Steven Butler, Roland Mann, Alex Thompson and several others will be glad when this is all over.

JK: What have you learned from participating in Zuda so far and what do you hope to gain from the experience over the long run?

Probably to stick to where your audience is. This was a healthy experiment for me and I have enjoyed it quite a bit, but it became very obvious from the beginning that my target audience was just not present. The following has grown steadily as the competition has progressed but we are not on top yet. I would like to give a shout out to all those that have enjoyed WAR OF THE FALLEN and backed it with there support. I am very honored and appreciative beyond words. You guys are great.

JK: What do you plan to do with your strip if you don’t win? Will you continue with it somewhere else?

You will definitely see WAR OF THE FALLEN in print if we don’t make it to number one. I have already reformatted it and made slight improvements here and there for the regular size comic book. This story is so deep and captivating that 8 pages just doesn’t scratch the surface of the the story. There are still two characters coming and of course you haven’t really seen the actual threat yet. The pin-up you have is just a slight teaser of whats coming. I plan to take it to a few companies and see if a deal can be reached. Either way, WOTF will be rocketing into print in the early part of 2010 and be a monthly series.

Beyond the Borderlands

Beyond the Borderlands

Brian McLachlan, Beyond The Borderlands

JK: Tell me a little bit about yourself — where you’re from, other comics projects you’ve worked on if this isn’t your first, what you do when you aren’t doing comics, etc.

I’m a kid’s cartoonist mostly. I made the graphic novel Ticket to Space for Scholastic Canada, I regularly work for Owl magazine, Nelson textbooks, I did things for Nickelodeon Magazine and my crowning glory is my hilarious-out-loud webcomic The Princess Planet. It’s part of Txcomics, a collective of Toronto/Montreal artists like Ramon Perez, Karl Kerschl, Michael Cho, Cameron Stewart and Andy B who also does Bottle of Awesome for Zuda. The Planet’s been going since 2004 and it’s punny absurdist fantasy for all ages that has earned it a place on Webcomic Overlook’s Top 10 Webcomics of the decade. Woot.

JK: Tell me a little bit about your strip and what it’s about. What makes it unique when compared to the other strips in this competition?

Beyond the Borderlands is a fantasy strip that’s seriously mysterious. After making a lot of goofy kid’s comics I wanted to make something a little more subtle and narrative but still keep it in my favourite realm, sword and sorcery. I find the genre under-served by mainstream comics.

JK: How are you promoting your strip this month?

I’m supposed to what now? Uh oh.

Maybe I can get the Dos Equis guy to do something real quick.

JK: What have you learned from participating in Zuda so far and what do you hope to gain from the experience over the long run?

So far I think maybe I would have been better with a flashier, funnier strip with more excitement like I do with The Princess Planet. For the contest I made a strip more for myself rather than trying to calculate a sure-hit formula and it’s showing in the poll numbers. UnWoot.

Also, a good number of computer-savvy people have told me they have had trouble registering and voting so maybe I’d make a walkthrough or FAQ about how to vote.

JK: What do you plan to do with your strip if you don’t win? Will you continue with it somewhere else?

I will have it laminated and put on my wall alongside my “participation” award at the spazketball tournament as a reminder that I am a failure at life.

NewBot

NewBot

Chuck Harrison, NewBot

JK: Tell me a little bit about yourself — where you’re from, other comics projects you’ve worked on if this isn’t your first, what you do when you aren’t doing comics, etc.

I currently reside in Brockport, NY. which is closer to Toronto than NYC. I was born In Germany and have lived in six different states due to my father’s military infatuation and later my mother’s advertising bliss.
I’ve been self publishing comics since I was 16 years old the biggest being Lightning Man which got me in quite a bit of trouble with my 11th grade guidance councilor. I’ve gone on to have a somewhat successful one panal web comic entitled ‘Decaffeinated Coffee‘ which originally started out as the ‘Daily Comic’ and was featured in Zuda’s November 2008 line up. Other than that I am currently working with many fine artists and writers and desperately trying to draw each and every single one of my facebook friends alphabetically.

When not creating art on the screen I enjoy spending time with my two sons, Dylan 5 and Elijah 3 but for some strange reason that time is usually spent creating more art.

I will say that my beautiful wife and I really love playing Rock Band, although I leave the singing to her. She’s quite good at it and I can now play most every song on the ‘hard’ setting except for Dream Theater.

JK: Tell me a little bit about your strip and what it’s about. What makes it unique when compared to the other strips in this competition?

In a small silicone infused artificial nut shell with aluminum housing: NewBot is a story about a robot, his counter parts, their creator and what happens when death, revenge and electronics mingle in binary.
It was created and written for my sons. I wanted to make a comic for them in an extremely simplistic style that had no words which they could both easily understand. Once I was finished I sat them down and showed it to them, Dylan immediately began drawing the little bot and proclaiming his love for him and I knew I had (sort of) got it right.

As far as uniqueness goes, I can say that there has never been a comic on Zuda before like NewBot. Really, I checked and to the best of my knowledge I have the only one that uses binary instead of words. That and NewBot is literally an ‘All Ages’ comic and has the potential to be that spark for the little ones that causes a life long love for sequential art.

JK: How are you promoting your strip this month?

Hahaha. With every waking moment that I’m not with my kids. There is a NewBot facebook page, a NewBot blog and my Twitter account. I’ve promoted the little bot with a sketch give away and a figure contest but outside of that I’ve had countless instant messages, Facebook messages and emails with just about every person I know. Basically the keyboard and I have infused until February.

JK: What have you learned from participating in Zuda so far and what do you hope to gain from the experience over the long run?

I’ve learned that there are a lot of wonderful people out there who are just as passionate about comics as I am. Wither they support NewBot or not, these men and women live and breath the art just as I do and it’s extremely comforting to know that. Sometimes you can kind of feel like you’re the only nerd in your city and it’s nice to know that there are droves infatuated with sequential art. But, what I would like to get out of this…hmm…I want to get a DC Comics contract! hahaha. Yes, that and also the above mentioned just really makes being in a comp like this such pure joy.

JK: What do you plan to do with your strip if you don’t win? Will you continue with it somewhere else?

If NewBot does not win, I’m not sure yet. I have up to page 20 ready for inks. I may finish them and put them on the NewBot Blog or I may get with the Zuda editors to discuss shopping him around to smaller publishers. I will say that I really hope for a win because Zuda is just the perfect vehicle when it comes to reaching as many kids and adults as possible with this sort of comic. But aside from that I’ll be putting out Decaffeinated Coffee five times a week and working on various other comic projects just like always.

Thunderchickens

Thunderchickens

William Dean Blankenship Jr. & Chad Boudreau, The Thunderchickens

Editor’s note: As I mentioned up top, the creators of Thunderchickens have pulled out of the competition. Which is too bad, as they have a nice entry that was getting a lot of support. When I verified with William that they had indeed pulled out, he added, “This is definitely not the last you’ll see of Ray and Scratch.”

Although they are no longer competing, I’m including their responses below.

JK: Tell me a little bit about yourself — where you’re from, other comics projects you’ve worked on if this isn’t your first, what you do when you aren’t doing comics, etc.

Chad: My name is Chad Boudreau and I’m the writer and co-creator of The Thunderchickens. I live in Canada with my wife and two sons. I’ve been writing for most of my life. I’ve been a journalist and a copy writer, but also dabble in short fiction and non-fiction. Three years ago when my 30th birthday was on the horizon I looked at my pile of unpublished and unfinished work and realized I needed to start taking my writing hobby more seriously. Everything that was unfinished and unpublished was fiction so I decided to try my hand at something else. I chose comics because I love the medium. There are so many great stories told in comics, in a variety of genres. So, I made a pact with myself: Before I turned 31 I would have something published.

In 2006, I wrote a 98-page graphic novel called Psychosis. I hired a creative team, oversaw its production and self-published it in the winter of 2007. I did this project to open doors. I thought if I could prove to publishers and future collaborators that I could complete a project like Psychosis then they might be more willing to work with me. I was right. Doors opened.

William (3!LL) was one of the creative people I met in the days following Psychosis’ publication. I (and two other writers) have been working with him on his Special Edition project for about two years now. Comics and short written by me for Special Edition are published at www.bohemian-zen.com. I am also the writer on a six-part series called Black Salt. This action / thriller is published by Blackline Comics. My work has also appeared in the anthologies IF-X and A Thousand Faces. I have a number of exciting projects planned for 2010. You can follow their development and learn more about me at my blog.

3!LL: My name is William Dean Blankenship Jr., but that’s alot to type so usually I just go by 3!LL. I’m from Northern West Virginia, amongst the rocks and hard places. Previous to this I did alot of character design, T-shirt illustration, lots of different stuff, and obviously Bohemian Zen where we put out creator-owned comics. When I’m not drawing I play L4D2 and make music with some really good friends.

JK: Tell me a little bit about your strip and what it’s about. What makes it unique when compared to the other strips in this competition?

Chad: If you strip away the super heroics of The Thunderchickens what you have is a coming-of-age tale. Scratch is the protagonist. He’s on the verge of adolescence. His father, Spaceray, is teaching him the ways of being a hero, but Scratch, like all teens, wants to define himself on his own terms, which includes being a hero in his own way. Adding to the family tension is Grandpa, Spaceray’s aged father, who himself was a great hero. Now in his golden years, Grandpa is losing some of his mental capacities and physical prowess, but not his super-powers, which makes for some comedic moments. There is also a poignancy to our story as Spaceray watches his father grow old and his son grow up.

Our tale has elements that will be familiar to many people– superheroes, family drama, comedy, a tale of a superhero legacy– but what, I think, makes us different from the other comics this month is that The Thunderchickens is very marketable. This was intentional. We made an effort to create a comic that would appeal to a large audience. The Thunderchickens is a comic suitable for all ages, meaning children, teens and grown ups can enjoy it. There is something for each of those general groups within The Thunderchickens. We even have a love interest and tender family moments, which we hope will attract a female readership. On the theme of marketability, Bill (3!LL) selected a very animated style to demonstrate its potential as a animated property. Take a look at the logo he created; it cries out to be splashed across a television screen! And Team Go was designed and will be presented in such a way that those characters could very easily be spun off into their own series.

3!LL: I think we did something fun and all ages. For me it was fun to draw and Chad did an awesome job fleshing out the characters and story with me. For me it’s mostly just fun to draw. Hopefully it’s as fun to read.

JK: How are you promoting your strip this month?

Chad: Characters, plot, story arcs, character arcs and setting are very important to Bill (3!LL) and I. But equally important was putting together a promotional plan. We knew we needed to get to the #1 or #2 spot when the first ranks were released by DC Comics. Looking through the past competitions, comics appearing in the top two spots in the first ranking usually went on to win. We also knew that once we were in the #1 or #2 spot we would still have a lot of work to do. If we were #1, we would have to work hard to maintain that spot, and if we were #2 we would have to bust our butts to get into #1. I’m not going to reveal the particulars of our promotional plan but suffice to say we had one planned before the contest began, and that it was constructed in such a way that it would be rolled out in stages.

3!LL: At this point, apart from the regular avenues of promotion, we put together an 18 page promotional booklet online called The Thunderchickens Super Fun Time press kit. It contains all of the original concept designs that went into making The Thunderchickens, as well as some of Chad’s insights on the creation process. You can find it in a gallery and also in a flash viewer on our site.

JK: What have you learned from participating in Zuda so far and what do you hope to gain from the experience over the long run?

Chad: I’ve been writing comics for three years, which isn’t a lot of time when compared to the professionals or even some aspiring writers. I learned a lot during those years. I’ve learned from failures and successes, and I strive to gain knowledge through research and by exposing myself to a variety of genres and eras within comics’ history, which includes getting intimate with the works of the greats of the past and present.

The competition has been fierce, but not in a negative way. Even though we are competing against each other for a coveted prize, there is a shared camaraderie and general air of support. The comics creating community is a supportive one.

3!LL: I’ve learned who my friends really are. I also learned that if you just put a smile emoticon at the end of every post people think you’re a really happy and positive person.

JK: What do you plan to do with your strip if you don’t win? Will you continue with it somewhere else?

Chad: Bill (3!LL) and I put a lot of work into The Thunderchickens, and not just the competition and promotion. We have our first season of The Thunderchickens mapped out, which is the story we’ll tell should we win. We also have a rough outline of season 2, and some great ideas for what occurs in season 3. I love The Thunderchickens and I think Bill does too. We talked about what happens if we don’t win the competition, and we’ve both agreed that The Thunderchickens will continue elsewhere. We believe in the property. I think about these characters several times a day.

3!LL: This will continue no matter what, but I don’t think we planned anything around not winning, even before the first standings were posted.

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Comments

3 Comments

Where is Nick Edwards’ Phantom Sword?? It was my favorite comic this month.

True! What happened to the Phantom Sword interview? It was also my favorite entry this month…

Unfortunately I never received a response from the creator.

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