Interview Archives | Robot 6 | The Comics Culture Blog

Marguerite Dabaie visits the Silk Road with ‘A Voyage to Panjikant’

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Marguerite Dabaie’s A Voyage to Panjikant is a fascinating look at a long-lost culture.

It’s set in the 7th century, along the Silk Road of Central Asia, a major highway for traders and therefore a place where many cultures met and mingled. Dabaie chose the Sogdians, who were sort of the middlemen of all this, as the culture in which to set her story.

The Sogdians were real, but their culture is long gone, so she had to do extensive research — and use a bit of imagination — to reconstruct their lives. Her Kickstarter campaign has already reached its goal, but she has some exclusives and stretch goals for backers.

We spoke with Dabaie briefly about A Voyage to Panjikant and crowdfunding.

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J.T. Yost on ‘Bottoms Up’ anthology and indie publishing

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J.T. Yost of Birdcage Bottom Books is issuing an open call for his latest anthology, Bottoms Up — and if you submit a story, he promises he won’t tell anyone who you are.

Why the anonymity? The theme of Bottoms Up is hitting rock bottom, that moment when you realize things are out of control, right before you get clean and sober and take control of your life again. Because he’s looking for gut-wrenching honesty about something most folks aren’t proud of, Yost has put out a call for entries that allows writers to submit stories anonymously. The stories will be passed along to a pool of artists, who can choose which ones they want to illustrate; the artists will be credited.

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‘The problem is not going to go away': Kate Evans on ‘Threads’ and the refugee crisis

WEBThread01-calaisLaceKate Evans is the creator of the recently published, and critically acclaimed, Red Rosa, a graphic biography of the revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg, but her most recent comic is set not in the past but in the present: Threads: The Calais Cartoon is her account of volunteering in a refugee camp in Calais, France. The short online comic shows the human side of a story that’s been so prominent in headlines.

I asked Evans to talk about her experiences in Calais, and the process she went through to create the comic.

ROBOT 6: How did you come to Calais in the first place, and what role did you play there?

Kate Evans: My friend Mary initiated the idea of going over for the weekend. She asked my partner, and he asked me — we have kids, so it has to be one or the other of us. Since it was my birthday weekend, we decided that I would go. I wasn’t sure that I’d draw a cartoon about it. That wasn’t the main motivation for going. We wanted to be useful, to be active. We weren’t even sure if we would be useful at Calais — I think I assumed that the “real action” was over in Hungary or Greece, and I was slightly worried that we’d be do-gooding tourists rather than effective aid workers. I was wrong. The need is real and immediate and overwhelming.

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‘Gigant’ creator Rune Ryberg brings his fantasy-comedy to SPX

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Danish animator Rune Ryberg made a splash in Europe last year with the release of his comics debut Gigant, a raucous — and award-winning — fantasy-comedy about a guy who attempts to free his girlfriend from the stomach of a thousand-eyed monster.

And this weekend, Ryberg sets out to do it all over again, as Gigant makes its U.S. debut at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland.

Ahead of his first appearance at SPX, Ryberg spoke with ROBOT 6 about the success of Gigant in Europe, his approach to the comic, and how the AdHouse Books edition came about.

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Rich Tommaso takes aim at ‘Dark Corridor’

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With the debut this week of his new Image Comics series Dark Corridor, creator Rich Tommaso embarks on some changes.

First, as opposed to his recent Recoil Comics stories that focus on one or two characters, Dark Corridor features an ensemble cast. Second, the writer/artist has opted to end the grind of producing six comics at once (his Recoil pace) for this one ongoing, set in the crime-ridden city of Red Circle, whose mobsters suddenly find themselves the target of female assassins.

To mark the arrival of the series, Tommaso fielded some questions about Dark Corridor from ROBOT 6.

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Dean Haspiel and Gregory Benton on Hang Dai and Seth Kushner

BWT_DeanHaspielHang Dai Editions is the imprint of Hang Dai Studio, the Brooklyn collective formed by Dean Haspiel, Gregory Benton, Josh Neufeld and the late Seth Kushner. All of them were already well known, Haspiel as a prolific independent cartoonist as well as the artist for Archie Comics’ The Fox, Benton as the creator of B+F, which won the MoCCA Festival award last year, Neufeld as the creator of A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge and the artist for The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media, and Kushner, who died in May, as a talented photographer and writer whose works included Leaping Tall Buildings, for which he photographed many prominent comics creators, and Schmuck.

The first titles to be published by Hang Dai were minicomics that the creators hand-sold at shows, but recently the collective announced a slate of comics that will be distributed to a wider audience this fall through Alternative Comics.

In an interview with ROBOT 6, Haspiel and Benton talk about the evolution of Hang Dai, the new fall line and the loss of Kushner. They also shared some art from their upcoming books Beef With Tomato (Haspiel) and Smoke (Benton).

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Mike Baron talks ‘Airwolf,’ ‘Nexus’ and writing

AW_Baron-Panel2In the 1980s, Mike Baron flipped the superhero genre on its head with Nexus, a comic about a reluctant executioner of mass murderers. Meanwhile, on television, a bunch of surprisingly dark characters were running missions in a futuristic helicopter on Airwolf. Now, 30 years later, Baron has written a story for the upcoming Airwolf graphic novel, which will be released in August by Lion Forge.

Baron came up with an interesting twist for the Airwolf comic, pitting the high-tech chopper against some very low-tech World War II-era planes. He’s also still writing new Nexus comics, and artist Steve Rude is running a Kickstarter campaign to publish the newest story online and in print.

Baron spoke with ROBOT 6 about Airwolf, Nexus and his other projects, and he threw in some advice about writing comics as well.

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Ming Doyle talks ‘Constantine,’ writing and collaboration

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Best known for her work as an artist on such comics as Mara, The Kitchen and Young Avengers, Ming Doyle has a handful of writing credits on her resume. However, none is as high-profile, or as large-scale, as her latest collaboration, co-writing DC Comics’ new Constantine: The Hellblazer with James Tynion IV.

Drawn by Riley Rossmo, the series launched just last month, with the goal of taking the occult investigator “back to what he was at the start — a young, sexy, dangerous, bad dude.”

Ahead of the release of the second issue, we caught up with Doyle to talk about Constantine, working with collaborators Tynion and Rossmo, storytelling and more.

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Chris Schweizer on ‘Crogan Adventures,’ color and collaborators

Cover-1It’s difficult to say why I enjoy interviewing Chris Schweizer so much, but it may be because he’s always looking to improve his craft. And Oni Press’ new editions of his Crogan Adventures series, which are in full color due to the inspiration of Brian Hurrt and Matt Kindt, are only the tip of the iceberg.

Schweizer took some time to talk with me not only about the move to color, but also the expansion of the Crogan family tree to include women, his collaborators, and whether the former SCAD instructor might some day return to teaching.

Tim O’Shea: How flattered were Brian and Matt that they indirectly prompted your decision to switch to color with Crogan?

Chris Schweizer: Yeah, I talk about their role in this a bit in the foreword to Catfoot’s Vengeance, where I explain the reasons for going to color. I wouldn’t really call it “indirectly.” They were the catalyst behind my decision to work in color on everything (if you can call the direction that one’s work takes a decision; I feel like artists have very little say in the matter — artists can hamper their own evolution but can’t really steer it), which ended up requiring revisiting these earlier books to make them consistent with the ones on which I’m currently working. Their influence over that direction couldn’t be more overt.

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Carlos Magno’s journey to Archaia’s ‘Lantern City’

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Frequently spending 12 to 13 hours a day to produce two pages, Lantern City artist Carlos Magno devotes a lot of his attention to detail. It’s readily apparent in every panel of the upcoming steampunk series from Archaia.

Part of a broader multimedia property that includes a novel, an app and a planned television series, Lantern City centers on Sander Jorve, a family man who seeks to improve his lot in life. When his activist brother-in-law convinces him to infiltrates the ranks of the brutal Guard, Sander is set on a dangerous path.

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HANG DAI Editions hits MoCCA Fest with new comics

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Founded in 2013 by Gregory Benton, Dean Haspiel and Seth Kushner, the Brooklyn-based HANG DAI Editions (HDE) imprint has always struck me as more of a family.

This weekend, Benton, Haspiel, Kushner and Josh Neufeld, who joined HANG Dai last year, premiere new comics at MoCCA Fest 2015 [at Table 314]. To mark the occasion, I conducted a brief Q&A with each creator, in which they share what makes MoCCA such a great show.

No one is happier about it than Kushner, particularly as MoCCA 2014 was the last show he attended before his diagnosis with myeloid acute leukemia. So, much to everyone’s delight, MoCCA 2015 heralds Kushner’s return to comics.

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‘Undertow’s’ Artyom Trakhanov talks Russian comics scene, his own work

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Russian artist Artyom Trakhanov broke into American comics with his nuanced and idiosyncratic work on the 2014 Image Comics series Undertow with writer Steve Orlando. Since then he’s contributed covers and short stories to several titles while working on multiple new projects, both with writers and on his own.

ROBOT 6 spoke with Trakhanov about working in the English-language market from his home in Novosibirsk, Russia, balancing his professional and his home lives, and what the comics scene is like in his own country. Trakhanov also revealed the first pages from an English translation of his long-running Russian webcomic MadBlade.

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Spike Trotman on the business of comics

Spike TrotmanC. Spike Trotman doesn’t see any conflict between love and money, at least when it comes to making money doing the thing you love.

She launched Templar, Arizona at a time when the webcomics business model was still being hammered out — and a lot of people were still dubious about it. However, Trotman not only made it work, she expanded the scope of what she does, running a Kickstarter for the Poorcraft graphic novel, then curating and publishing the Smut Peddler anthology, which was also funded on Kickstarter. Her small press Iron Circus Comics is now publishing its first creator-owned work, an omnibus edition of EK Weaver’s webcomic The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal, which was just successfully funded on Kickstarter — in fact, the project raised $65,000, far exceeding its goal of $18,500.

This seemed like a good time to talk to Spike about growing her own small press—and what the future holds for Iron Circus.

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Lucy Knisley shares her unique perception of ‘Displacement’

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At first glance, you might expect Lucy Knisley‘s latest travelogue Displacement to be filled with the same humor and insight as her previous books Relish: My Life in the Kitchen and An Age of License. After all, it recounts the 2012 cruise with her memory-impaired 91-year-old grandmother and physically challenged 93-year-old grandfather. Yet the quality that’s made Knisley a great storyteller — her ability to recall nuanced encounters with a blend of wit and compassion — allows her to craft a compelling and complicated account of this time spent with her grandparents.

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Reflecting on the end of ‘Blade of the Immortal’

Blade of the Immortal 31Blade of the Immortal, Hiroaki Samura’s samurai tale, reaches the end of its long run this week with the publication of Volume 31. Dark Horse began publishing the series in 1996, at a time when manga was not only flipped but chopped into single-issue comics. The world has changed a lot since then, and so has Blade. Samura spent almost 20 years writing and drawing the series, and his storytelling style evolved quite a bit over the years.

Samura’s superb art belies the startling violence of his story: Manji, a renegade samurai, cannot die because his body harbors bloodworms that heal every wound. To shake the curse of immortality, he must kill 1,000 evil men. This task gains focus when he teams with Rin, the daughter of a dojo master whose father was slain in front of her; she seeks not only to avenge his death but also to stop his killers from slaughtering the members of the other dojos to consolidate the power of their own school of fighting, Ittō-ryū. Samura fills the pages with baroque villains and and elaborate weapons of his own invention. The early volumes have a punk feel to them, but eventually he settles into a more traditional style.

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