Interview Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources
Danica Novgorodoff’s The Undertaking of Lily Chen is a road story, a love story, and something completely different as well. Set in modern-day China, it follows the quest of Deshi, a young man whose parents blame him for his brother’s death, on a quest to find a ghost bride for his brother, the corpse of a young woman who will be buried with him and keep him company in the afterlife.
Deshi’s attempts to find a fresh corpse are a washout, and he ends up instead with the very much alive Lily Chen, who is only too happy to escape her hardscrabble existence — and has no idea what Deshi has in store for her.
Novgorodoff deftly mixes elements of traditional and modern-day China in her story, and she illustrates it with beautifully rendered watercolors. I had a chance to talk to her about it last weekend at MoCCA Arts Fest.
Brigid Alverson: How did the story evolve?
Danica Novgorodoff: I started writing it based on these two characters I had I my head, Deshi and Mr. Song, so it took me a while to find the right character for Lily. I knew there would be a girl. I had originally conceived of it as a kidnapping story, and it really didn’t work out the way I had written it because in that situation she was not a powerful character, and I didn’t like that. So I kind of rewrote the plot based on her character, based around who I wanted it to be. I also thought of it as a Western — in a classic Western, there’s a big shootout and everybody dies in the end. That’s how I first wrote it, with everyone dying in the end. It just wasn’t the story I wanted it to be. I don’t need a happy ending, I don’t necessarily need that, but I eventually realized that at the core of this story was a love story, not a death story. I didn’t think of it as a western, but I still felt the relationship between the two characters really came through. I rewrote the ending several times until I found the ending I thought worked out.
Her narrative focus has shifted from Nurse Nurse‘s futuristic sci-fi vibe to the motorcycle road trip (and accompanying drama as well as conflict, plus a few nuns) of Operation Margarine. It was a delightful surprise to learn her new work’s connection to Roland Barthes’ Mythologies.
Large diesel-powered airships dueling in the sky. That basic concept caught my attention last week when I discovered the Kickstarter for Skies of Fire, a new comic created and written by Vincenzo (Vince) Ferriero and Ray Chou with art by Pablo Peppino.
To understand the full scale of the project’s plans, particularly given that the Kickstarter has already well exceeded its goal, I conducted a quick email interview with Ferriero and Chou.
This week writer and photojournalist Seth Kushner launched the Kickstarter for Schmuck, his semi-autobio/anthology graphic novel about his quest to find love in New York City. While portions of the collection originally ran online at TripCity.net, even those aspects will be remastered and/or colored for the 168-page trade paperback.
This collection, which features the work of 22 artists, also marks the inaugural release of HANG DAI Editions. The HANG DAI imprint, which was founded in New York City by Gregory Benton, Dean Haspiel, Josh Neufeld and Kushner, focuses on “limited edition comix, graphic novels, and art books, with an emphasis on personal interaction at events, conventions, and signings”.
Veronica Darkwater lives in a world that’s a bit jagged around the edges. That’s because she’s the heroine of Matt Ritter and Adam Elbatimy’s Nova Phase, a comic that is drawn in an 8-bit style reminiscent of old-school video games.
Robot 6 readers got a sneak peek at the first issue late last year, and now the first two issues are available on comiXology; the first issue is free, and the second is just 99 cents. Ritter and Elbatimy plan on a six-issue story to be released digitally first, with every two issues collected into a print comic by SLG Publishing. Eventually, the whole story will be collected in one print volume.
This comic raises some interesting questions of technique and format, so I asked Ritter and Elbatimy to share some of their process and their thinking.
Robot 6: I know everyone asks this, but I’m going to start with it anyway: Where did the idea for this comic come from? Why do a space opera about a bounty hunter in 8-bit-style art? Did the story come first, or was the art a part of the concept from the beginning?
Matthew Ritter: I was interning over at Dark Horse Entertainment, and I wanted to pitch them something before I left. So I contacted my artist friend Adam, who I had worked on other projects with/for. We both loved comics and pixel art, so as we tossed ideas back and forth we settled on pixel art. We talked about some video game spoof comics and other ideas, and eventually I wrote a little short piece set in the Nova Phase world, he liked it, and so we went on from that.
Mark Smylie is important to comics for a couple of reasons: Not only does he make Artesia, an epic series of lushly drawn and intricately detailed military fantasy comics, but he also created the company Archaia in order to publish the series. He contributed a story to the Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard anthology and has provided illustrations for collectible card and role-playing games, including the Artesia RPG he designed himself.
Last week, Smylie added to his accomplishments with the release of The Barrow, a prose novel set in the world of Artesia and published by Pyr.
Earlier this year, the small publisher Oily Comics suspended its subscription service. But it’s back, with Publisher Charles Forsman (creator of TEOTFW) tweeting Sunday that Oily is offering a new spring bundle that will be out in March. It’s available for pre-order now, and the full bundle is limited to 200 copies.
I checked in with Forsman to see what the story is with Oily and get some details on the new bundle.
Brigid Alverson: What’s going on with Oily Comics? Are you changing your business plan? How is this different from the way you were doing things before?
Charles Forsman: I stopped the subscriptions at the end of last year. I was feeling a bit burnt out at the time. It was a combination of my mental state and I was beginning to feel like I was just going through the motions with the monthly comics. So I put it on hold so I could crawl into my hole and get through my winter depression and decide what Oily would look like in the future. So, I am trying this bundle idea. I think I was inspired a bit by the humble bundle service. They do a pay-what-you-want bundle of video games. I thought it could work for Oily so I’m giving it a shot. Plus it satisfies a goal that the subscriptions had which is the simple idea of getting someone for Oily because they like a certain artist. But they will also be exposed to cartoonists they have not read before. I would love to do a pay-what-you-want but that just doesn’t work for physical comics so well.
Declan Shalvey’s friendship with Stephen Mooney stretches back nearly a decade, to before either Irish creator was well known in the United States. So when the Moon Knight artist pitched ROBOT 6 the idea of interviewing Half Past Danger creator Mooney about the hardcover collection, arriving Jan. 29 from IDW Publishing, we didn’t hesitate to say yes, thinking the conversation would offer terrific insight into their relationship, their careers, the Irish comics scene and, of course, Mooney’s Nazis vs. dinosaurs adventure.
As it turns out, we were right.
There’s been a wealth of children comics available recently, but I feel pretty safe in saying there hasn’t been anything quite like Kevin Scalzo‘s Sugar Booger. At least, I haven’t seen any comics involving a large, boisterous, bright blue bear with the uncanny ability to make delicious candy spew forth from his nose.
Although he’s been a part of the alternative comics scene for several decades now, Scalzo is jumping into serialized waters with the release of the first issue of this ongoing series (two more issues are planned for 2014) from Alternative Comics.
Combining a DayGlo pop sensibility with some Margaret Keane-like eyeballs, a dash of (PG-rated) underground grotesquery, and a dollop of Casper the Friendly Ghost for good measure, Sugar Booger is a rather tart confection that, while perhaps not for all tastes, will be appreciated by those who like a salty edge to their confectioneries.
I talked to Scalzo over email about the new comic, writing for kids, and his plans for the series.
Saturday is the deadline to get your order form for this month’s Previews catalog to your local comic book shop. With that date looming, Edison Rex co-creators Chris Roberson and Dennis Culver are hoping to make Edison Rex, Vol. 2: Heir Apparent one of the most-wanted trade paperbacks.
In fact, writer Roberson and artist Culver concocted an eye-catching wanted poster to drum up interest in the upcoming collection, which includes issues 7-12 of the Monkeybrain Comics digital series. The creative team was quite willing to discuss the latest news with me about the villain turned superhero.
Writer Justin Aclin has looked forward to today, as his Dark Horse miniseries S.H.O.O.T First comes to a conclusion with the release of the fourth issue. Four happens to be the magic number on more than one level, as Aclin notes that the storyline has been in development for four and a half years.
However, the end of the miniseries doesn’t mark the end of Aclin and artist Nicolás Daniel Selma‘s adventures with the S.H.O.O.T. First team. In fact, Aclin provided ROBOT 6 with a peek at art from the upcoming arc Dark Horse Presents, which in March with Issue 24.
As Aclin described it, “This page is the first time we’re showing art from the upcoming Dark Horse Presents story. Part 1 takes place 10 years in the past, where an earlier version of the team confronts a giant snake Outside Actor in the Everglades. You can see a younger Lord Byron taking aim here.”
Two elements of Stuart Moore and Gus Storms‘ new Image Comics series EGOs make me exceedingly eager to read the first issue: the flawed marriage at the heart of the title (automatic fodder for great drama), and a foe that’s a living galaxy.
To get a better understanding of EGOs, which debuts Jan. 15, I pelted the creators with a series of questions. Moore has a grasp of the comics medium (and its unlimited potential) in a manner few others possess, so to say it was a delight to chat with him and Storms is an understatement. How strong is EGOs? As noted in our discussion, it has Saga writer Brian K. Vaughan as its guardian angel. What more needs to be said? Well, I’m a sucker for any series with a broken-down cyborg. I needed to say that.
The comic stars a three-legged dog named Piggy, who gains super powers and fights crime. He’s actually based on Emko’s real-life three-legged dog, who has quite the origin story of his own. I spoke with Young and Emko — whose “day jobs” have included being an anti-whaling “pirate” with Sea Shepherd and the founder of Darwin Animal Doctors — about the project and much more.
New York-based cartoonist Gregory Benton has had a whirlwind of a year, with his self-published graphic novel B+F winning the 2013 MoCCA Award of Excellence and getting picked up for a joint French/English publication.
However, the ideas for what became B+F were created in the middle of Benton losing almost everything. The characters of B+F (“B” is the yellow dog and “F” is the woman) were first dreamed up by him in the aftermath of a massive storm in 2011 that flooded his studio, washing away years of his most precious art. That very real conflict of man versus nature lit a fire in Benton, leading him to doodle those two characters.
Fast-forward to today and Benton is back on top, with AdHouse Books and Éditions çà et là partnering to publish the mostly worldless graphic novel with its scheduled premiere in a matter of days.
B+F follows the titular dog and human as they trek across an otherworldly landscape of mountains, monsters, and fiery fauna. B and F face many obstacles, and find unique ways to overcome them — even sometimes involving dying and being reborn.
ROBOT 6 spoke with Benton about the unique path B+F took to creation, and how he won MoCCA’s Award of Excellence but was too busy printing the book to attend the awards ceremony.
When I set out to conduct an interview, particularly when it’s focused on one project, I usually expect the conversation to go in a certain direction. I concede that this Q&A with Zero writer Ales Kot surprised me in its ability to venture into a variety of topics, including genetic memory, synchronicity and the importance of honesty in branding.
Tim O’Shea: How early in the development of Zero did you realize you wanted to use a variety of artists?
Ales Kot: Pretty much right in the beginning, if I remember correctly. The choice was a storytelling decision and a way to work with many artists I am interested in at the same time. I believe a narrative doesn’t have to be conventional in the way it is depicted (i.e. one artist for the story) in order to achieve clear communication of itself. Clearly I am right but really how hard is that to figure out? People who read comics are smart and wonderful and hungry for new stories and new ways of telling them. We live in a world that carries easiness of sensory overload within itself and our encounters with said sensory overload can teach us how to modulate/expand our perceptions. We are mutants. My approach to Zero is that of acknowledging and embracing evolution as a gift. That is one of the reasons why a variety of artists is correct here. Another reason would be because I simply felt like it.