When artist Gabriel Hardman isn’t drawing comics, he’s drawing for movies. His affinity for films manifests itself in several ways, including his willingness to share his film knowledge via Twitter. Beginning May 15, that love of movies will be partially reflected in his new Monkeybrain Comics project Kinski (available for preorder).
It’s the story of a fellow who finds a dog, and the events that unfold from there. This project is a departure for Hardman, who acknowledges Kinski has “much more of a quirky, indie vibe than any of the other comics I’ve done prior. Coen Brothers-esque.” Hardman with a Coen Brothers bent served as great fuel for my questions (and while he initially referenced the Coen Borthers, in our discussion he’s quick to also cite Martin Scorsese’s After Hours and the Terrence Malick-written Pocket Money as influencing elements).
Tim O’Shea: In tackling a story that is a quirky departure from your normal fare, how did you settle upon making a dog the main catalyst of your story?
Gabriel Hardman: I like the idea of using a dog to spark the story because animals are chaotic. They don’t have the same set of social rules to adhere to as we do. Dogs don’t care about our problems! They can send the story off into unexpected directions. But even though Joe, the lead character, finding the dog starts the story, he’s using the dog as an excuse to ignore other things in his life he’s having problems with. Mainly his unfulfilling job as a bird feed rep. He decides he’s going to save this dog, no matter the cost. It’s a crusade! But crusades usually don’t turn out so well.
Earlier this month, writer Vito Delsante and artist David Bednarski launched their new webcomic Prisoner of None. I was intrigued by a project that is partially inspired by the true story of Shoichi Yokoi, a sergeant in the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II who was found in 1972, hiding in the jungles of Guam, more than a quarter century after the United States had retaken the territory. In their fictionalized reinterpretation, Delsante and Bednarski set out to portray “a Japanese hero, Fantomudoragon (the “Phantom Dragon”), and his struggle to adjust to the changes in his country and the world after a 70-year absence.” In addition to Fantomudoragon, it also details several other characters with superpowers.
Tim O’Shea: How long had you known about Shoichi Yokoi‘s unique post-World War II life up to 1972 before realizing it was inspiration for a story?
Vito Delsante: It was roughly (and I say this after looking up the first email I sent to David) around Feb. 26, 2012. It was literally a few days after David replied to an email I sent “soliciting” him to do a comic. That’s the best way to put it, right? My wife, Michelle … she was obsessed with this site, OMG Facts, and … she knows I’m a World War II nut, and she read this article out loud and I said to myself, “THIS is a comic!” David emailed me back, and on the 27th, I sent him that article and Yokoi’s Wikipedia page. So, it was literally within 72 hours or so.
David Bednarski: I remember Vito saying that he had a vague idea for a story based on Shoichi Yokoi and the next thing I know we were firing ideas back an forth.
OK, let’s get the obvious out of the way: Kill All Monsters co-creator/writer Michael May is a friend of mine and a fellow contributor to ROBOT 6. Conflict of interest disclosed. Still, I interviewed him about collaboration with artist Jason Copland, which is set to be released in a collected edition (Kill All Monsters: Ruins of Paris) in June from Alterna Comics. He and Copland are in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign (ending May 10), which has already achieved more than 230 percent of its goal $2,500 goal.
In this interview, we discuss the collaborative process on the webcomic/upcoming collection as well as the Kickstarter. My hat is off to May and Copland for writing a great Kickstarter FYI blurb that efficiently describes the project: “Kill All Monsters: Ruins of Paris is the printed first volume of the hit webcomic about monsters and the giant robots that kill them.”
Tim O’Shea: I went into this work assuming it was going to be all giant robots and monsters, but it contains a great deal of human interaction/drama. How early in the development of the project did you realize the story needed that balance?
Michael May: Right away. I’ve never been interested in slugfests for the sake of slugfests. A story has to give readers a reason to care about the people in the fights. If anything, I needed encouragement to make the fights a bigger part of the comic so it wouldn’t just be people talking about fighting monsters. No one — including me — would want to read that, but characters and drama is where my interest always goes first. It’s a tough balance though and one we worked hard at, so hopefully we got close to achieving it.
Several weeks ago when I interviewed Edison Rex co-creator Chris Roberson, we had hoped to include co-creator Dennis Culver in the discussion. Schedules didn’t work out at the time, but happily, on the eve of the deadline to pre-order the Edison Rex trade paperback (Diamond Code APR130377), Culver’s schedule freed up for an interview about his co-creation.
As if collecting the Edison Rex issues 1-6 isn’t enough to interest you in this IDW Publishing release, Roberson and Culver have scored an introduction by the great Kurt Busiek. The collection will hit shelves June 12.
Tim O’Shea: How did the IDW publishing deal come together?
Dennis Culver: That was all [Monkeybrain Comics co-publishers] Chris [Roberson] and Allison [Baker]. From what I understand, IDW had expressed an interest in print collections fairly early in the Monkeybrain launch, and I was on board as soon as I heard. They gave us a fair deal and they put out great looking books. I’m very happy to publish Rex through them!
Frequent readers of ROBOT 6 know I’m a big supporter of Francesco Francavilla, and particularly his Black Beetle character. Wednesday marks the release of The Black Beetle: No Way Out #3, the penultimate issue in the first of a series of miniseries for Dark Horse. As much as I was eager to learn about the pulp-fueled noir comic, I was equally keen to chat with Francavilla about his approach toward layout and storytelling in general.
As part of the interview, Francavilla shared some preview pages for the latest issue.
Tim O’Shea: Comparing the early adventures of the Black Beetle, as shown in Night Shift versus No Way Out issues 1 and 2, how liberating did it feel to be increasingly ambitious with your layouts on the pages?
Francesco Francavilla: Very liberating. One of the tricky parts of doing Night Shift was to have three small installments (chapters) of eight pages. I wanted each single chapter to be meaty enough to be entertaining on its own, but I also wanted each chapter to end with a cliffhanger. Going from that to a full 22 pages a month with No Way Out, I have much more room now to have fun with different layouts and give extra room for some big reveal sequences.
It seems to me a Kickstarter for an Elaine Lee/Michael Kaluta project should be a no-brainer. And considering that in the first 24 hours of the Harry Palmer: Starstruck Kickstarter, close to half of the $44,000 goal was raised, I was not alone in thinking that way. At present, the Kickstarter, which started on April 2 (and ends May 2), has reached more than $35,000.
Kaluta agreed to an interview about the 176-page sci-fi noir graphic novell, which has been years in the making, and it proved fun to chat with the legendary artist on how he intends to marry 80 new pages with 60-some pages of existing material.
Tim O’Shea: This Kickstarter came within hundreds of dollars of making half of its goal within that first 24 hours. What was your reaction to see the project make such progress, so quickly?
Michael Kaluta: I was definitely gratified, and tried to be sanguine (I read books … sanguine … heh!), but, of course, the specter of getting almost to the goal and then having the Kickstarter stall looms large in my dreams… as it must for everyone hoping to go forward with their dream-project thanks to the Kickstarter approach. I’ll soldier on, clearing the drawing board for not only the new Harry Palmer pages, but for the Kickstarter reward drawings I’ll be doing when and if everything comes up roses.
Hard to believe, but this month marks four years since I first interviewed artist Peter Krause about his return to comics. More immediately, today marks the return of Mark Waid and Peter Krause’s Insufferable at Thrillbent 2.0 with a new arc, “On the Road.” Through Thrillbent 2.0, Insuffereable: On The Road is free to view and download or embed — there are plenty of ways to enjoy the somewhat reconciled father-son team of Nocturnus and Galahad (seemingly led by the smarter than both of them, Meg). In addition, there are bundled editions of the first Insufferable arc (with extras) for sale at comiXology.com.
Tim O’Shea: How did Mark Waid convince you to try working in a then-relatively new medium like digital comics on Insufferable?
Peter Krause: The main attraction was that I’d get to keep working with Mark. I really valued the time we’d spent on Irredeemable for BOOM! I stepped away from that book because of time constraints — I was doing non-comics work that was making it harder to bring an “A” game to Irredeemable.
Today is one of my favorite days of the year, as most Major League Baseball teams have their opening day. In late February, when writer/artist Matt Kindt tweeted that he was returning from a St. Louis Cardinals spring training trip to Florida, I got him to agree to an interview on the spot.
This exchange took place before Dark Horse’s WonderCon announcement that Kindt’s series, Mind MGMT, would have a finite 36-issue run.
In addition to discussing his Dark Horse series, and our shared appreciation of baseball (despite his Cardinals eliminating my hometown Atlanta Braves from playoff contention last season), we delve into the May 7 release of his First Second book, Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes. There are few storytellers that set a narrative environment as uniquely as Kindt can. This go-around he establishes the city of Red Wheelbarrow to serve a larger homage to classic detective fiction.
For additional insight into Kindt’s work on Mind MGMT, be sure to read Jeffrey Renaud’s CBR interview with the writer/artist from early February.
As a longtime fan of Kindt’s narrative sensibilities, I hope he gets in contact with the right folks with the MLB in order to pursue that baseball project.
It’s been nearly two years since Mark Sable and Paul Azaceta first discussed the Image miniseries Graveyard of Empires with me. This time around we’re looking at the project through the rear-view mirror, given that the 128-page trade collection will be released May 1 (Diamond code MAR130502, ISBN 978-1-60706-739-9), featuring a new short story written and drawn by Azaceta. The collaborators were ambitious with this project, which pits U.S. Marines in present-day Afghanistan against the Taliban … and a sudden influx of the undead. It’s interesting to learn the interaction that the creators had with military veterans in the wake of the miniseries’ release, as well as their decision to dedicate the collection to Tim Hetherington.
If you haven’t read Graveyard of Empires, you’re in luck, as Image Comics and comiXology have made the first issue available for free.
In addition to chatting about the upcoming trade paperback, Sable takes time to chat about his current Kickstarter project with Salgood Sam, Dracula: Son of the Dragon. Azaceta also reveals his plans to write more stories when his schedule allows, as well as his upcoming Conan work with Brian Wood.
Tim O’Shea: We first spoke about Graveyard of Empires back in 2011. Now in 2013, the trade paperback is about to be released. How good does it feel to be at this point with the project?
Mark Sable: It feels great. Graveyard of Empires started out as a three-issue miniseries with 22 pages each, grew into four issues with 124 pages of story. In an age where Big Two issues are now 20 pages and often decompressed, that’s like six issues’ worth of content. We wanted to make the trade worth the wait that expansion caused, so we’re not only including the original story and your usual extras like sketches, but an all new short story written and drawn by Paul. It makes his comics writing debut, and I have to be honest, it scares me that he’s going to put me out of a job.
Italian artist Andrea Sorrentino first garnered major attention for his work in late 2011 on DC Comics’ New 52 title I, Vampire. Beginning with Green Arrow #17, Sorrentino teamed with writer Jeff Lemire to become the series’ new regular creative team. Shortly after that first issue debuted, Sorrentino agreed to an interview regarding his new assignment, and in particular his artistic approach on some of the scenes for that first issue.
In addition to featuring some of the pages (which we discuss) from Green Arrow #17, DC also provided some exclusive black-and-white art for Green Arrow #20 (set for release on May 1). Green Arrow #18 has been on stands since March 6; Green Arrow #19 arrives April 3.
Tim O’Shea: In Ryan Lindsay’s CBR review of Green Arrow #17, he wrote, “Sorrentino uses insert panels to highlight certain dramatic and bombastic moments amidst the kinetic action, such as when Queen is ambushed and gets into an arrow fight. This skill set, used consistently but not overbearingly, allows Sorrentino to slow some pages down, deliver detail on multiple planes of a panel, and also brings movement to a static image.” How much do you and writer Jeff Lemire the design and layout of pages, since he is an artist as well? Or does he leave you alone to design the pages as you want?
Andrea Sorrentino: I’d say it’s a mix of his and my ideas. Jeff is a (very good) artist and has a very personal way of making layouts in his created-owner works, so he did bring some of them in this project, too. In this case there was in the script the idea of some little panels that would focus on some parts of a bigger image or scene to make some details of the action to pop from the page. This would give the idea of how tactical Oliver’s mind can be during a confusing moment like the one in Emerson’s office. I discussed the idea with Jeff and used the same solution in order to set the pace of the scene. The main goal was to use those inset panels to try to give a feeling of “slow-motion” effect by guiding the reader’s eye to focus and zoom a bit on some details of the action slowing the time of reading in contrast with the main scene that is delivered in the bigger panel (and at a faster pace). It’s something we’re used to seeing a lot in some movies (especially in recent years) and I was trying to reach for something similar here.
Apart from this, I’ve to say that working with Jeff has been awesome till now and I’m really improving a lot just by talking and collaborating with him.
Ann Nocenti is a creator who caught my attention in different ways over the years. As a news and documentary junkie myself, her career path (which ventured into journalism and making documentaries at various times) fascinates me. Once she agreed to a interview about her new DC Comics series Katana, I filled her in-box with my questions. Wednesday marks the release of Katana #2, in which the lead character has become a member of the Sword Clan in her quest for vengeance. Nocenti’s discussion of her current work becomes even more interesting to read when juxtaposed the recent Comic Book Resources interview with Louise Simonson and Nocenti regarding their journeys into writing comics.
Tim O’Shea: I love your ability to offer conflicting imagery in the first issue of Katana. For instance, you stage a fight with Katana in a garden sculpture park/kawaii park (including teddy bear topiary). Was that your idea or did artist Alex Sanchez suggest it?
Ann Nocenti: I do a lot of research before writing a comic, then try to forget it all before actually writing the scripts in order to allow something new to seep in. When I was first offered Katana, Jim Lee said something about how it would be great to have the fight scenes in spectacular visual settings, rather than alleyways and streets, and his comment stuck with me. So when researching Japan, I was enchanted by kawaii art, how it is both soothing and endearing, and yet it reminded me of my childhood filled with Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty tales — the myths that are hoisted on little girls. So I set the battle in a kawaii park, but it was Alex’s idea to turn that into a topiary. I was surprised and delighted when the art came in. I also wanted to play with visual riffs on feminist themes — to contrast what is expected of women, both here and in Japan, when one is raised in a traditional fashion and yet struggles to be progressive. I was raised Catholic, so I can understand that. Visually, I want to continue the idea of strong settings for the fight scenes: In Katana #2 there is a battle in a zoo and at a double-ended sword show. In Katana #3 the battle is in a boat graveyard.
Last week was a banner one for Monkeybrain Comics, as plans were revealed to “bring its digital titles to print beginning in June in collected editions released through IDW Publishing and Shadowline/Image.” But before this deal was announced I caught up with Chris Roberson, the writer of Edison Rex and co-publisher of Monkeybrain.
This interview was conducted before the IDW and Shadowline/Image agreements were announced, which is why they’re not discussed. Edison Rex #6 will be released March 13. Roberson is great to chat with about the creative process, as he relishes revealing how the narrative hot dogs are made almost as much as creating the stories themselves. The world that Roberson and co-creator/artist Dennis Culver had built for the series fascinates me, and it was a pleasure to chat with the writer about it.
Tim O’Shea: As much as this series is about a villain becoming a hero, there’s a great undercurrent of humor. Is that the core appeal of the series from a creative standpoint?
Chris Roberson: I always like a little levity in the stories I read or the shows I watch. When stories maintain a consistently grim tone, it can be a little wearying. Adding in a joke here and there not only serves to lighten the mood from time to time, but also makes the more serious moments stand out by contrast.
Coming up this weekend at Emerald City Comicon, writer Paul Allor (Table G-01) will have advance copies of the first issue of Strange Nation, his new Action Lab Comics miniseries with artist Juan Romera. The book’s premise is straightforward: Norma Park is a journalist who finds herself out of work after claiming to uncover a story involving Sasquatch, aliens and mad scientists. Her insistence at delving deeper into this story is when the real fun begins. In addition to offering an advance copy of the first issue this weekend, Allor will also make it available for Fabletown and Beyond (March 22-24, 2013, in Rochester, Minnesota). The full miniseries will hit stands in late 2013 in comic stores and through digital distribution outlets. In anticipation of ECCC, Allor joined me for a brief interview, and provided ROBOT 6 with a five-page previews.
Tim O’Shea: How long has Strange Nation been in development, and what prompted you to tap Juan Romera as the artist?
Paul Allor: I probably started working on the pitch for Strange Nation a little more than a year ago. Juan was the first person I had in mind for the art, having worked with him previously on “Reach the Sun.” one of the stories in my Clockwork comics anthology (which Robot 6 interviewed Allor about in 2011). Juan is awesome at both the wacky, out-there aspects of the book, and also at nailing the small emotional moments. I thought this book would be a great place to showcase both sides of that.
To think there are people in the present-day comic book industry that fail to respect colorists is hard to believe. Yet, as we noted late last month, colorist Jordie Bellaire wrote about her work being minimalized when an unnamed convention refused to name colorists as guests. The post resulted in an impromptu #ColoristAppreciationDay on Twitter as well as a larger conversation about the important value of colorists.
In the wake of that discussion, I chatted with Bellaire about the post, as well as her work as a whole. The timing turned out well, as despite her busy schedule, she was able to do an interview. It seems as if every week there’s a new comic released that features her as colorist. This week it’s Captain Marvel #10, while next it’s the debut of The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror miniseries written by Roger Langridge with Bellaire coloring artist J. Bone. Bellaire saves the best for last in our Q&A, revealing that she hopes to get back to illustrating — and that she has dabbled in writing.
Tim O’Shea: In all of the reactions from your initial Tumblr post in praise of colorists, what pleased or surprised you the most?
Jordie Bellaire: The response itself was extremely surprising! I didn’t expect anything to really come of my angry little blog post. I try to keep my “internet persona” pretty humorous and silly. I don’t really get “for realsies” worked up over anything online (unless it’s something Star Wars-related). When I posted this at 7 a.m. on hardly any sleep (I was in a tough deadline week, of course), I expected maybe three people to see it and those would have been just friends. Somehow, though, the letter spread fast. I was just thrilled. Given, keeping up with the response during the day totally killed my productivity, I was too busy watching the internet explode in the name of colorists.
Thanks to my interview with writer Jason Latour (regarding Loose Ends in mid-2011), my attention was piqued when Marvel tapped him to succeed Ed Brubaker on Winter Soldier. Latour’s run begins Wednesday with Winter Soldier #15. In anticipation of that, Latour agreed to an interview in which I interrogated him about the collaborative dynamics with artist Nic Klein, Bucky Barnes coming to terms with his past, guiding a supporting cast that includes the legendary Nick Fury, and the introduction, and naming, of new characters. Also be sure to check out CBR’s preview of Winter Soldier #15.
Tim O’Shea: When scripting an issue, given that you are also an artist, do you sketch out thumbnails for artist Nic Klein to consider?
Jason Latour: Not really, no. I did do one unused thumbnail, and only because Nic asked. When you’ve survived German art Thunderdome like he has, you need no man’s help. He’s like Art Beast Omega.
Yeah, being able to draw is definitely a great tool to have in a pinch. But in general I try not to do layouts because that part of drawing is largely the artist’s contribution to the story. I don’t want to encroach too heavily on that. Even if they do something I don’t agree with here or there, we’ll all be much better off with an invested collaborator. I am open to thumbnailing a book for someone else to finish, but it would have to be the understanding beforehand. I’m much more likely to do design work, because sometimes it just dramatically improves communication.