Conversing on Comics Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources
Svetlana Chmakova has sent demons to school, been on the run with witches and wizards, and braved the world of comics as a fan-turned-professional. If you asked her, she might argue the last one was the toughest of all.
The Russian-Canadian cartoonist made a name for herself as part of a wave of artists working on TOKYOPOP’s OEL Manga line. 2005′s Dramacon and the two follow-up volumes showed Chmakova delving into the world of comics and manga with a story inspired by attending comic conventions and interacting with cosplayers. Chmakova went on to be one of the star players hired for Hachette’s graphic novel imprint Yen Press, first creating her own series Nightschool and then adapting hit novelist James Patterson’s Witch & Wizard series. Chmakova’s work has been prodigious, with 10 graphic novels released in just over nine years, and now here in 2014 she’s beginning a new chapter with a new creator-owned series with Yen, webcomics and a line of video podcasts on drawing. ROBOT 6 caught up with Chmakova to find out about what’s on her plate, as well as what’s on her mind and in her future.
Kazu Kibuishi has found success in comics by charting his own path, one that took him from creating the Eisner-winning Copper to editing the acclaimed Flight anthologies to finding a home for his Amulet graphic novels at mainstream publisher Scholastic.
His work led him to be selected to create covers for the 15th anniversary re-release if J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter books. Kibuishi approached this prized assignment with reverence and deep knowledge for what Rowling and original illustrator Mary GrandPré did before, but infused the artwork with his own style to make the new editions stand out. And he took what he learned from that project back to his own books.
The past several months have been period of transition for Alex Segura. In February, he left his position as executive director of publicity at DC Entertainment to return to Archie Comics, where he became senior vice president of publicity and marketing, and editor of its Red Circle line. But even before that, he entered a new phase of his career with the October release of his first prose novel, a mystery called Silent City set in his native Miami.
As Segura enters this new chapter in his life, ROBOT 6 reached out to talk about his new duties at Archie and his new career as a novelist.
Since stepping down in 2009 from his longtime position as president and publisher of DC Comics, Paul Levitz has focused much of his attention on teaching and writing, with projects like World’s Finest and Taschen’s expansive 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking.
Currently he’s putting the finishing touches on a book about his friend Will Eisner titled Will Eisner: The Dreamer and the Dream, while teaching college courses. In addition, he recently joined BOOM! Studios’ board of directors.
For a man who made his name writing adventures of the future in Legion of Super-Heroes, you had to know Levitz had plans for his own future, right? I caught up with Levitz earlier this year, at a particularly busy time, to learn more about his activities since leaving DC’s executive suite. We spoke before the BOOM! announcement was made, but we had more than enough to talk about in our interview.
Mike Baron has done it all in comics, and then some. But what he loves most is creating his own characters, and he was doing “creator-owned comics” years before it became a movement. A collaboration with Steve Rude, Baron’s Nexus was one of the 1980s gleaming independent gems — and Baron expanded on that with the PTSD-prone veteran-turned-hero Badger.
Like many of his colleagues, Baron spent time at the Big Two, crafting a six-year run on The Punisher and doing some memorable work on Deadman. But just as he broke into comics creating his own characters, 2014 sees Baron returning to that — both in comics and in prose novels. The Colorado author is currently writing his fifth novel, Domain, and charting the return of his signature creation Badger.
ROBOT 6 spoke with the two-time Eisner winner spoke at length about his projects, his passion, and his love of martial arts.
Eddie Campbell has made a name for himself among the upper echelon of modern comics creator, both for his collaboration with Alan Moore, From Hell, and for his own stories like Alec, Bacchus and the recent, great look at the concept of money, The Lovely Horrible Stuff. He’s created a lot of stories, but he’s far from finished.
This summer William Morrow will release the cartoonist’s illustrated version of Neil Gaiman’s The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains, and Top Shelf will publish a two-part omnibus edition of Bacchus. In addition, the Glasgow-born artist is working on two new projects, the first being a book about the roots of sports cartoons in late 19th-century San Francisco, and the other a collaboration with Audrey Niffenegger, author of the smash prose novel The Time Traveler’s Wife. ROBOT 6 spoke with Campbell about these upcoming projects, as well as his past works and the stories behind them — including last year’s From Hell Companion, which he compiled and wrote using never-before-seen materials from both himself and Moore.
Chuck Dixon might be best known for his hard-charging stories of Batman, the Punisher and G.I. Joe, but he’s more than a work-for-hire writer — even though he’s good at it. Dixon got his start in creator-owned comics with 1984′s Evangline at Comico (and later First), and now after three decades as primarily a hired gun, he’s returning to his roots with a renewed vigor and years of experience under his belt.
The co-creator of DC stalwarts like Bane and Birds of Prey tells ROBOT 6 his future looks to be predominately focused on creator-owned comics, and he has no less than three creator-owned projects in the works — including one with his former collaborator Graham Nolan. That’s in addition to his recent foray into prose military fiction; after the success of the SEAL Team Six novels with Dynamite Entertainment, Dixon has gone into business for himself with a new series titled Bad Times, featuring a group of scientists and Special Forces solders who are transported 100,000 years into the past. With his time on G.I. Joe coming to an end with April’s G.I. Joe: Special Missions, Dixon’s next tour of duty may end up being his greatest yet.
Dan Brereton entered the industry in the late 1980s and, alongside Alex Ross and a select few others, ushered in what he playfully calls the Golden Age of Painted Comics, one in which not only covers but interior pages were fully painted. If we were to compare that era to classic Hollywood, Alex Ross would be Cary Grant while Brereton would be Vincent Price. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Brereton’s lush, horror-tinged art led him to quickly jump from the independents to major work at Marvel and DC, where he made a name for himself with series like The Psycho and Legends of the World’s Finest, earning him the Russ Manning Award. In 1997, he teamed with Howard Chaykin for a romping Elseworlds story titled Thrillkiller, which prompted a sequel, and then put him on his way to his own creations — the Nocturnals.
In the years since, he’s balanced between creator-owned and work-for-hire, both in the United States and in Europe. I reached out to Brereton to talk about the 20th anniversary of his creator-owned Nocturnals, as well as his dalliances with work at DC, Marvel and elsewhere, and what his plans are for 2014 and beyond. He fills us in on two exciting new creator-owned projects, as well as a return to Nocturnals and a story for DC’s digital-first comics.
Marko Djurdjević arrived on the comics scene in 2007 from video games, quickly becoming one of the most in-demand cover artists and character designers. Marvel signed the German artist to an exclusive agreement despite his lack of comics experience, but over the next four years he created covers for virtually every major franchise and tapped to design and redesign characters like the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Lady Bullseye, Quasar and the rogue’s gallery for the 2011 event series Fear Itself. But after four years producing three to five coversa month and interior work on a select basis, Djurdjević decided to take a break from comics and return to gaming.
Fast-forward three years, and Djurdjević is the founder of a highly sought-after creative services studio called SIXMOREVODKA, which provides character design, concept art, illustrations and more for high-end video games like Batman: Arkham Origins and Killzone as well as RPGs, movies and art books. With a staff of 11 working side by side with 11 other artists in their Berlin offices, SIXMOREVODKA is firmly established and thriving enough for Djurdjević to begin plotting a return to comics on his own terms, working on his own creations.
I spoke with Djurdjević by phone about his comics work, his decision to leave the exclusive deal he had with Marvel. Although Djurdjević remains tight-lipped about the exact nature of his creator-owned comics venture, this interview provides an inside look at an artist you may only know by his covers.
It’s been a good week for Ryan Stegman, one marked by the premiere of the highest-profile series of his entire career: Wolverine. The Michigan artist, who’s been working steadily for Marvel since 2011, has been primed to become one of comics’ breakout stars, only waiting for the right project, the right writer and the right positioning. Wolverine just may be it.
Stegman’s squat and square-jawed Wolverine shows an artist who pays attention to characters beyond just their most recent depictions. He wears his fan credentials with pride, citing influences as far-ranging as Katsuhiro Otomo, Bill Sienkiewicz and Joe Madureira, but chief among them is Todd McFarlane. Stegman has done much to establish his own trademark style, but his ability to comprehend and be inspired by McFarlane’s fluid linework has added new facets to a nuanced style.
For this edition of “Conversing on Comics,” I spoke with Stegman about Wolverine, his artistic influences both for Logan and in general, and the long road that brought him here. In the interview, conducted just after Christmas, Stegman was open about his enthusiasm for Wolverine as well as his long-term goals for himself and his career.
Often when comic creators are asked about their dream job, most expect them to respond with a specific character they want to tackle, some fondly remembered superhero on which they hope to leave their mark. Of course, not all comic creators think that way.
Writer and artist Sean Murphy has made a name for himself working on almost everything but superheroes. Instead, he’s made readers take notice with the likes of Punk Rock Jesus and Joe the Barbarian. When he’s done work-for-hire, he’s mostly stayed clear of the usual suspects, with stints on former Vertigo stalwart Hellblazer and a spinoff book for Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque’s American Vampire. His actual superhero output is few and far between, but well worth looking out for — from his Batman/Scarecrow: Year One miniseries to the delayed-but-finally released Teen Titans one-shot.
A great artist can make readers stand up at attention, while a fast artist can make editors’ lives a lot easier. Luckily for fans and publishers alike, Declan Shalvey is both.
Taking the artistic reins on Deadpool in August, Shalvey is in the middle of an epic upward-bound trajectory in comics, drawing books for Marvel and Dark Horse. His career began with a 28 Days Later comic for BOOM! Studios, but fans didn’t really take notice of his work until he began alternating arcs of Thunderbolts with Kev Walker.
Despite its frantic biweekly shipping schedule, Thunderbolts was an ideal showcase for Shalvey’s gritty, textured illustrations (with a bounce reminiscent of emotive newspaper cartoonists). After working on that title, and its successor Dark Avengers, for two years, the Irish artist was tapped to follow after Tony Moore on Venom. But stand back: Shalvey isn’t just a superhero artist. While tackling those comics for Marvel, he also illustrated graphic novel adaptations of Frankenstein and Sweeney Todd for European publishers, and arcs of Vertigo’s Northlanders and Dark Horse’s Conan the Barbarian.
Chris Roberson has been thinking what comic writers are supposed to do in comics. While many creators follow the usual trajectory of creator-owned projects to Marvel or DC, the Portland, Oregon-based writer went from the Big Two and found his true calling, making his own comics and helping others to do the same.
A science fiction author, Roberson was ushered into comics as a colleague and co-writer of Fables creator Bill Willingham. However, Roberson quickly branched out, first with the Vertigo series iZombie, and then as the writer of Superman, putting him in the unenviable position of picking up the pieces after J. Michael Straczynski left midway through his much-heralded run. Although he turned in some great work in his short run on Superman/Batman, Roberson ultimately found DC not the kind of place he wanted to continue working.
To the average comics reader, Joe Casey is the writer behind idiosyncratic creator-owned books like Gødland and Sex and the stellar re-imaginings of corporate-owned superheroes like Wildcats, Superman and the X-Men. But to the pre-teen set, he’s the co-creator of one of the hit kid-friendly animated series Ben 10 and a co-writer of Ultimate Spider-Man and the upcoming Marvel’s Avengers Assemble. With two radically different profiles, the question becomes this: Which is the real Joe Casey? I’d argue it’s both, and more.
Casey got his start in the shifting sands that was Marvel in the late 1990s in the years, filling in on a Wolverine miniseries before quickly stepping in to take over Cable. Much in the same way that character moves back and forth in the time stream, Casey has hopped among titles, genres and companies.
“Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose the former and have seen no reason to change.” — Frank Lloyd Wright
It’s a telling quote, both for Wright and for Eric Stephenson, who used it on the masthead of the personal blog he wrote from 2010 to 2012. The word arrogance may have its negative connotations, but when practiced in a measured way it exudes confidence and pride in your work. Wright had it. Steve Jobs had it. And Stephenson, as a nearly 20-year veteran of comics publishing, and the public face of Image Comics, has it.
And in recent years, Stephenson has a lot to be prideful about. Image has been experiencing its best years since its initial debut with The Walking Dead, Chew and Saga. It hosted an well-received expo last year, and has successfully wooed some of Marvel and DC’s top talent for a return to creator-owned work. Stephenson, the company’s publisher, also has finally been able to return to his neglected passion for writing with Nowhere Men, a collaboration with artist Nate Bellegarde.
Although best known for his work behind the scenes — he’ll mark his fifth year as publisher of Image in July — Stephenson has written comics for Rob Liefeld’s Maximum Press, Marvel and DC, not to mention his creator-owned titles.
In February we spoke to Nowhere Men artist Nate Bellegarde, and now we turn to Stephenson to discuss the series, and his past work, but also to delve into his publishing duties — specifically, headhunting talent, finding a place for Image in digital comics, and separating the company from the crowd.