To best understand a creator’s project, I typically like to learn how the storyteller views her main character. In this week’s interview, artist Ming Doyle immediately provided that insight into the star of Mara, her six-issue Image Comics collaboration with writer Brian Wood.
As she explained to me, while Mara is a volleyball player, it’s the character’s celebrity that “is the core of her being.” Doyle clearly relishes the chance to draw “futurecity gridlock,” and she does a good job conveying such scenes. In discussing her craft, it struck me that while respect for her work has been growing steadily, it appears she’s just beginning to get comfortable with her storytelling talents (while continually striving to improve upon them).
Comic Book Resources recently ran a preview of Mara #2, which goes on sale Wednesday. Wood and Doyle together tell an engaging tale. If you missed the first issue, this week would be a good time to pick up two issues and see what you’re missing.
When I got my hands on Lilli Carré‘s newest collection of short stories Heads or Tails, what immediately caught my eye was the variety of styles the writer/artist attempted in her tales. During our recent interview about the collection, I focused some of my questions on the choices she made in terms of the colors, lettering and other story elements. I also learned about Carré’s thought process when approaching a comic tale versus one of her animation projects. The roots to these stories run deep in Carré’s life, and as she notes, the book has an overall theme of ”ambivalence, chance, and flip-sides.”
Once you’ve read this conversation, be sure to learn more about Carré’s animation projects via Alex Dueben’s recent CBR interview. Fantagraphics also offers a 23-page excerpt from the 200-page collection, which was released last fall.
Tim O’Shea: How did you go about picking which stories to include in this collection?
Lilli Carré: I wanted to include the majority of the short stories I’ve produced over the past five years, and so I went through all my stuff and arranged them not chronologically, but by how they each fed into each other. The book contains stories collected from anthologies, some new work, and a few pieces that I reformatted from small run mini-comics, artists books, and drawings that I’ve made over the years. My style changes quite a bit from project to project, so the book has a kind of patchwork quilt feel to it, but I wanted to make sure there was a solid thread between how one story feeds into the next. I also wanted to create some new stories for the book, so Rainbow Moment and Wishy Washy were created specifically for Heads or Tails.
It’s the story of six kids (Ben and his sister, Alyssa; Smack, the hustler; twins Cody and Trin; and Daniella, who was orphaned by a space pirate assault) in search of their missing parents. To tell the story of these adventure-seeking children (known collectively as the Mercury Six) properly, Miller wants to team with artist Marcio Takara, who has worked on BOOM! Studios’ The Incredibles and DC Comics’ Blue Beetle. That’s where the Kickstarter drive comes into play … but more about that in the interview.
Miller’s partial aim with Earthward is to tell a tale that appeals to both kids and adults, without pandering to either demographic — a lofty goal. Miller and Takara are aiming for a September 2013 delivery date.
Tim O’Shea: How early in the development process of Earthward did you know you want it to be all-ages? How long has this story been in development?
Bryan Q. Miller: Earthward has been with me as completed story that I would tweak every now and then, for a bit. I could never quite put my finger on the best avenue to pursue with it. Should it be an animated movie? A video game? A live-action movie? A Cartoon Network pilot? From inception, it was always intended to be all-ages, in a sense that I wanted it to live in a space where 7-year-olds could enjoy it, as well as 35-year-olds. Often, all-ages winds up meaning “watered down for child consumption.” That isn’t the case with Earthward.
Late last month, writer Paul Jenkins launched his new ongoing collaboration with artist Carlos Magno, BOOM! Studios’ Deathmatch. In Comic Book Resources’ review of the specially priced $1 first issue, Kelly Thompson rated it four out of five stars and wrote: “A Battle Royale concept of heroes pitted against each other to the death in an arena has the potential to be pretty tired at this point, what with the proliferation of these types of stories including some comics already out there … However, in the deft hands of Paul Jenkins and Carlos Magno, ‘Deathmatch’ is not only good, but far better than I ever expected given the concept and title … Jenkins and Magno have set up a very cool and smart story that, although it could easily fall into seen it all before cliché, is so far expertly avoiding all those traps and delivering a great reading experience.”
Jenkins recently took time to talk with me about the new series, as well as the Kickstarter success of his and Humberto Ramos’ Fairy Quest. Deathmatch #2 will be in stores Jan. 30.
Ever since the initial success of Jim McCann and Janet Lee‘s 2010 original graphic novel Return of the Dapper Men, fans have been eager to see the next project from the two collaborators. That wait ends this March with the debut of Lost Vegas, a four-issue miniseries from Image Comics.
The tale centers on “one gambler-turned-slave [who] has 24 hours to go all in and pull off the greatest heist the universe has seen.” In addition to discussing this new miniseries, McCann briefly acknowledges the self-described “limbo” that has delayed any follow-up to Dapper Men. I never tire of the opportunity to get the perspective of two storytellers at the same time. Enjoy.
My brain always shifts toward musical thoughts whenever possible. So when I learned Curt Pires was writing a story called Theremin, I assumed he meant the musical instrument. As I found out quite quickly in this interview, Pires’ new collaboration with artist Dalton Rose is focused on the inventor of the instrument, Léon Theremin. The series is slated to launch digitally from Monkeybrain Comics in March.
Robot 6: When we last spoke in September, you said your game plan for Theremin was that you intended to self-distribute it. How did it land at Monkeybrain?
Curt Pires: Initially my game plan was to self-distribute Theremin, correct. Well, It really developed out of talking with Dalton, discussing our plans for the book. We decided that we should sample the book to potential publishers, at least put feelers out there – see what the interest was in the book. We sent the first six pages and plot info over to Chris Roberson and Allison Baker at Monkeybrain, and they liked what they saw enough to invite us aboard to tell our story there. We could not be happier to be telling this story with them.
Earlier today, SCAD Atlanta Professor and Crogan Adventures creator Chris Schweizer announced the 2012-2013 academic year will be his final one teaching at Savannah College of Art and Design Atlanta. As the scholar/writer/artist noted at his own blog, “I love being a teacher, and I love being a cartoonist, and in many ways each helps me be better at the other. But I’ve come to find that I can do neither to the best of my ability without infringing on the time necessary to see the other done to the degree of quality I’d expect of myself.”
The move is not just a decision to stop teaching: Schweizer has also agreed to form a new studio with Chad Thomas (Mega Man) and Jason Horn (Ninjasaur). In conjunction with announcing the decision, Schweizer fielded a few questions from me. As a fellow resident of Atlanta, I have to add, as pleased as I am to know Schweizer will have more time to devote to his craft, I am equally sad to know he will be leaving Atlanta to do it.
Tim O’Shea: Knowing how much you love teaching, how many times did you talk yourself into staying at SCAD?
Chris Schweizer: I know it sounds cavalier, but never. Once I realized that there was a real problem with the regularity of my output, a problem that was only growing as I moved the Crogan projects to color, I had to look for a solution. I often have trouble finding my way through a problem that I’m in, both in writing and in real life, and I find that the best way puzzle out a solution is to not think of it from the standpoint of what to do next, but to decide on the ideal outcome. Once that outcome is in place, it’s much easier for me to determine the path by which to arrive at it. I was surprised that my ideal outcome didn’t leave time for teaching, or have us staying in Atlanta. Once I realized that, there was no real debating, there was only trying to figure out how best to undertake the change. Originally we thought I’d teach for an additional year after this one, to give us plenty of time to sell the house.
Off the top of my head, I cannot recall the tale of a hero told from the perspective of a corrupt cop. But in Nightwatchman (Kickstart Comics), the new 96-page graphic novel from the writing team of MarcBernardin and Adam Freeman, that’s exactly the kind of story you get. To mark the Dec. 5 release of the book, the writers spoke with Robot 6 about their collaboration with artist Javi Fernandez.
Tim O’Shea: How long has this story been rolling around in your respective heads?
Marc Bernardin: It’s been on the runway for a while, one of those ideas that we loved but only had the kernel of. It needed time to ferment, like so many of these things do.
Adam Freeman: You know there’s something to an idea when it keeps rattling around up there. If you can’t shake it you have to explore it or it will drive you crazy.
By most accounts, 2012 has been a damn fine year for Image Comics. Ales Kot was one of the many independent creators involved in this success, given the July release of Wild Children (the writer’s graphic novel collaboration with Riley Rossmo). Wednesday sees the debut of his new Image miniseries (with artist Morgan Jeske) Change. In October, we offered a preview of the project, about “a struggling screenwriter/successful car thief, an obscenely wealthy astronaut and a dying cosmonaut on his way back to Earth”. After reading this interview, be sure to check out Comic Book Resource’s interview with Kot regarding his other upcoming Image projects, Zero and The Surface.
Tim O’Shea: What prompted you to open Issue 1 with quotes from electro duo Holy Ghost‘s 2011 song Do It Again and Sylvia Plath’s The Rival?
Ales Kot: The Holy Ghost quote alludes to separation, tuning things out, not paying attention, not seeing the full picture. The Plath quote is about the other, the shadow we all carry with us, the beauty and terror intertwined. Both quotes reflect some of the key themes of the comic.
Dec. 12, marks a new era and a new team dynamics for writer Jeff Parker‘s Dark Avengers as Issue 184 goes on sale. But before the new storyline begins, I convinced Parker to reflect on his Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers run, which started in November 2009 (Thunderbolts #138) as well as discussing what lies ahead with the series. It was interesting to learn his thought process when collaborating with past series artists like Kev Walker and Declan Shalvey, as well as what current artist Neil Edwards motivates Parker to tackle. This interview was a fun romp for me, full of surprises — none more than the first: that Parker nearly passed on writing the series.
Once you finish the interview, please chime in if you agree that Parker should get a chance to write a Man-Thing series for Marvel. And if you missed CBR’s Dave Richards’ interview with Parker regarding Red She-Hulk, be sure to read it to learn about more great Parker storytelling.
Tim O’Shea: You started writing Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers in November 2009. Could you have envisioned it would be a book you would still be writing a solid three years later?
Jeff Parker: No, I almost passed on it. When Bill Rosemann asked me if I’d be interested in coming on after Andy Diggle. I’d never read much of the title, and he described that they wanted to base it around The Raft superprison. And I was wary. “It’s all set in prison? They never go anywhere?” But Bill and Tom Brevoort assured me that they’d be able to go on missions, it just needed to have prison as a big backdrop; that’s what had been discussed at one of the Marvel summits. Bill had asked me because I’d just worked on The Hood sequel miniseries with him and Kyle Hotz and he thought I’d be good for continuing with a villain book.
Storytellers fascinate me, a fact that is hopefully obvious given my affinity for interviewing them. Over the years, I have mined creators for information to varying degrees of success — some folks want to open up, others … not so much.
Chris Wright, writer/artist of Blacklung, showed a willingness to discuss his creative process to an extent I rarely get — and for which I am eternally grateful. Case in point of the quality of his answers, consider this one-sentence excerpt: “I love Tchaikovsky, and Mahler, and Tom Waits, and Leonard Cohen, and Cormac MacCarthy, and Tarkovsky.” All that in one sentence. Blacklung, which was released Nov. 7 by Fantagraphics, was best described by my Robot 6 pal Chris Mautner as “a bloody seafaring tale about a man determined to do what it takes to meet his dead wife in hell.” Wright’s debut graphic novel is part of today’s Fantagraphics Cyber Monday Sale. If you want to get a taste of the novel, Fantagraphics offers a 12-page/4.9 MB Blacklung excerpt for consideration.
Tim O’Shea: This book is dedicated to the late Dylan Williams. Can you talk a little bit about the impact that Williams had on your career?
Chris Wright: I don’t know if it’s so much about “career.” I mean, Dylan was a guy who touched a lot of people, and I was sort of on the periphery of that. I didn’t know him as well as I would have liked, but he saw my stuff around, and offered to put a book of my work out, and that book became Inkweed, which is kind of a menagerie of short stories, and drawings. I’ll always be grateful to him for that book, and for his interest and encouragement in general.
As a kid growing up in Georgia in the 1970s and 1980s, my first exposure to Jack Davis’ art was his University of Georgia Bulldog sports art. As I grew older, of course, I learned about the far-reaching variety of illustrations and stories he has produced throughout his career. Recently I discovered that cartoonist Patrick Dean had curated an exhibition of Davis’ career for the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens: “Beyond the Bulldog: Jack Davis,” which runs through Jan. 6.
Soon after the exhibit’s Nov. 3 opening, I lined up Dean for an interview, in which he discusses how much Davis’ family is involved with, and interested in, orchestrating exhibits of the artist’s work. He also talks about what makes Davis’ work resonate with him.
Tim O’Shea: How did you come to be involved as the curator of the project?
Patrick Dean: I majored in graphic design here at the University of Georgia, with a focus on illustration. In my senior year of 1998, Jack Davis, a UGA alumnus, visited the graphic design building. He stopped by a few classes, told stories, passed out sketches, etc. Ridiculously pleasant guy. My illustration professor, Alex Murawski, knew I was a big fan of Davis’s work. From that year onwards the department started the Jack Davis Distinguished Visiting Artist Lecture Series. The graphic design department would invite illustrators and cartoonists to visit, talk to the classrooms, and then wind up with a big talk in a lecture hall. They’ve had people like Sergio Aragones, Arnold Roth, Anna Kunz, Mike Luckovich, to visit, and every year Davis would be in attendance. After I graduated in 1998, Murawski would always keep me in the loop on these talks.
It’s not every month that we get to discuss a new issue of Ethan Rilly‘s Pope Hats, but here we are. This month, AdHouse is releasing Pope Hats 3 and giving readers a chance to enjoy the latest in the unique lives of law clerk Frances Scarland and her pal Vickie (among many other distinctively engaging characters).
In an interview with Robot 6, the Toronto-born/Montreal-based storyteller talks about his view on creating covers, the impact of winning a 2008 Xeric Grant, and his inclusion of the late, great Spalding Gray in his latest issue. As much as I enjoyed reading Issue 3, as a longtime fan of Gray’s writing, I was apoplectic when I found Rilly had worked him into a strip in the latest Pope Hats installment.
Tim O’Shea: First off, a little historical perspective. Last year the Xeric Grants came to an end for comics. You won a Xeric Grant back in 2008. How instrumental was the grant to getting Pope Hats off the ground?
Ethan Rilly: It seems like 10 years ago … Of course it was a great help. It covered printing and shipping costs for the first issue. I can’t say at that point I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the series as a whole, but the seeds were there, and the grant definitely helped get the ball rolling. It’s rare as a cartoonist to receive any financial support for this type of personal work, so I was fortunate. I sometimes do freelance illustration and I get a taste of things going in the other direction—bending your creative energies toward a pre-established need. Doing your own weird exploratory thing is always best.
It’s been two years since I last interviewed Renée French, but the release in September of Bjornstrand from PictureBox provided a terrific excuse to catch up with her again. In addition to chatting about the limited-edition signed and numbered risograph novella, French explained how the release was part of a larger project as well as how it related to her ongoing (NSFW) webcomic at Study Group, Baby Bjornstrand.
Tim O’Shea: Are you more flattered or bewildered when some folks compare your work to David Lynch’s films (see Brian Warmoth’s recent review)?
Renée French: Oh, I’m flattered. Lynch is at the top of my list of favorite directors, and seeing Eraserhead for the first time in college was incredibly important to the way I made stuff at the time.
To ask the question that Tom Spurgeon meant to ask: Is this project named after Gunnar Bjornstrand?
Ha! Do I have to answer that?
A week or so ago saw a flurry of announcements coming out of New York Comic Con. But the deals we read about are only part of what’s going on at conventions. Last week I learned about a new project for early 2013 from David Liss, but, as I quickly realized in this interview with the writer, the early formation of Angelica Tomorrow, his collaboration with artist Allen Byrns (and published by 215 Ink) actually began at New York Comic Con 2011. As a fan of Liss’ recent work for Marvel (Black Panther: The Man Without Fear), it didn’t take a great deal of prodding to be interested in the upcoming six-issue miniseries, as I was already predisposed to be interested in “a paralyzed teenage alcoholic whose life is changed when he meets a charming amnesiac cyborg — who does not know that she was created to be a deadly assassin.”
Tim O’Shea: While many folks know you from your prose work and your great run on Black Panther: The Man Without Fear, this might be the first time people are hearing the name 215 Ink. What prompted you team with them for this project?
David Liss: I know a few guys who have published with 215 Ink, and I met Andrew DelQuadro, the company president, at NYCC last year. He was very enthusiastic about working together, and I loved the idea of being able to develop an original concept. The books I’ve done with Marvel and Dynamite have all been pulp titles — which is great, because I love pulp — but I wanted to try my hand at something entirely different. 215 Ink was willing to help me make it happen, so it was a great opportunity.