Interview Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources

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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Artist Stéphanie Hans explains why she loves her job

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Stéphanie Hans clearly loves her work.

During the past five years, the artist has quickly become a fan and critic favorite for her distinctive approach to covers. More recently, however, as she notes in this interview with ROBOT 6, she has enjoyed how her collaboration with Marguerite Bennett on Angela: Asgard’s Assassin has pushed the artist outside of her creative comfort zone.

In addition to addressing the difference between the demands of her U.S. comics work compared to the covers she produces for French prose publishers, Hans explains why she thinks it’s important for her to share her creative process on Tumblr for aspiring artists.

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Chuck Forsman on ‘Revenger': ‘I was bored with the mode I was working in’

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Revenger #1

Chuck Forsman is shaking things up.

The small press cartoonist (and proprietor of Oily Comics), who won acclaim for his dual teen angst sagas The End of the Fucking World (aka TEOTFW) and Celebrated Summer, has moved away both from the previous slice-of-life subject matter and his simplified art style with his latest ongoing series Revenger. Dripping with tension and more than a little violence, this no-holds-barred action comic stars an Equalizer-esque young woman who attempts to help people in need, often with her fists or other weapons, in a post-apocalyptic America.

Curious over this new direction in style and content, I contacted Forsman.

Robot 6: In the coda to the comic you talk about Revenger taking about a year to produce and going through a lot of stops and starts. Can you walk me through the process and why it proved to be difficult for you?

Chuck Forsman: Well, I was going through a period of self-reflection and doubt. 2013 ended with my second book that year being released by Fantagraphics. I had also started a small little publishing company, Oily Comics. Basically, I had achieved many of the goals that I had been working towards for while. I’m sure there was a certain amount of, “now what?” going on in my head. But I think the majority was I think I was bored with the mode I was working in. And Revenger became the symbol of something new and different for me. It was a challenge. One that I gave up on a bunch of times but for many reasons I kept pulling it back out and giving it another shot.

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Crunchyroll launches Originals line with ‘HYPERSONIC music club’

Page One - TeaseCrunchyroll, which rose to prominence as a streaming anime site and added digital manga last year, is launching a new line of original webcomics called Crunchyroll Originals, which will feature Japanese creators. The debut comic will be HYPERSONIC music club, a collaboration between writer Patrick Macias and artist Hiroyuki Takahashi. Here’s the pitch:

In the world of tomorrow… when technology has reached it limits… a group of young cyborgs must battle the extra-dimensional monster girls for final control of the enigmatic force known only as…The Mystery Frequency!

The free comic will be updated with two pages a month. There’s an interview with Takahashi at the Crunchyroll, and we asked Macias to talk a bit more about this comic and the Crunchyroll Originals line.

Robot 6: Will all the Crunchyroll Originals comics be collaborations between a Japanese and a non-Japanese creator, or is yours unique?

Patrick Macias: Right now, we have several projects in active development. Some of them are collaborations between Japan and U.S. staff, and others are coming purely from Japanese creators. The main thing is that we’re open to pretty much anything right now, including other formats besides webcomics, as long as it is a project that seems interesting and has creative potential.

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Michael McDermott takes ‘Imaginary Drugs’ on a trip to IDW

imaginary drugs-coverImaginary Drugs is a bit of a success story, even before its release through IDW Publishing.

Edited by Michael McDermott, it began life in late 2013 as a modest (if eclectic) anthology of sci-fi and fantasy stories seeking funding through Kickstarter. But as interest and pledges increased — the campaign raised nearly triple its goal — so did the number of pages and indie creators, so that what began as a 56-page comic soon became a 160-page collection.

However, the growth didn’t stop there: When McDermott signed a deal to release Imaginary Drugs through IDW, even more creators were brought on board, bringing the edition that arrives Jan. 27 to a whopping 208 pages.

McDermott, who also wrote several of the stories in the anthology, spoke with ROBOT 6 about the genesis of Imaginary Drugs, how he went about recruiting contributors, lessons learned from the Kickstarter campaign, and the benefits of teaming with IDW.

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In Andi Watson’s ‘Princess Decomposia,’ romance is undead

Princess Decomposia coverThe creator of Skeleton Key and Love Fights, cartoonist Andi Watson has worked in more recent years on his all-ages series Gum Girl and Glister, which are better known in his native United Kingdom than in the United States. However, he’s about to make a big splash with young readers on this side of the Atlantic with Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula, a lighthearted romance with creepy characters to be published in February by First Second.

We asked Watson to talk a bit about the book and where it fits in with the rest of his work.

Brigid Alverson: First of all, can you tell us what Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula is about?

Andi Watson: It’s a spooky-themed romance story about love, responsibility and desserts. Princess Decomposia is princess of the Underworld whose father, the king, has taken sick and demands constant attention. The Princess has to run the Underworld, the palace and take care of her father. It’s all getting too much when the king’s fussy eating habits drive off another chef. Fortunately, Count Spatula gets the job and he helps the princess tackle the Underworld’s problems while they grow closer … only the king’s not too keen on their friendship.

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Young delves into Chinese history for ‘Nanjing: The Burning City’

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Best known for his award-winning “slice-of-life fantasy” webcomic Tails, Ethan Young turns from the semi-autobiographical to historical fiction for his next project. Nanjing: The Burning City, a graphic novel due out later this year from Dark Horse, tells the story of two Chinese soldiers during the night before the Nanjing Massacre.

This will be big for Young; not only will the year see the release of a graphic novel he’s been planning since college, but he and his wife are also expecting their first child. We spoke about the project, fatherhood and more.

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Ryan Sands carves out ‘Frontier’s’ 2015 lineup

Sascha Hommer's cover for Frontier #3

Sascha Hommer’s cover for Frontier #3

I got to know Ryan Sands almost 10 years ago, when he was publishing the strangest manga I had ever seen on his blog Same Hat! Since then, I’ve watched him follow his enthusiasm for innovative comics as the publisher of the Electric Ant zine, the translator of Suehiro Maruo’s The Strange Tale of Panorama Island for Last Gasp and now, as he explained to Chris Mautner in August, the creator of his own small press, Youth in Decline.

His flagship publication is Frontier, an anthology series in which each issue is a complete comic by a single creator. Frontier ended 2014 strong with comics by Emily Carroll and Sam Alden, and this year’s lineup looks equally good, with Jillian Tamaki, Anna Deflorian, Becca Tobin and Michael DeForge on the roster.

Sands has signed up some of the most interesting up-and-coming creators in the indie comics scene and has presented their works in interesting and sophisticated ways, so I asked him to talk to me in depth about his work on Frontier.

Brigid Alverson: The Frontier anthology seems to be evolving into a place for side stories or experimental work by creators who are already working on other, longer projects. Do you think these comics would be published if not for Frontier?

Ryan Sands: The goal for the Frontier series is to spotlight each individual artist and a distinct story or collection of work. I tried to set out the goal pretty explicitly on our site when starting Frontier, saying we’d focus on three types of books: up-and-coming talent in the North American indie scene, introducing the work of international artists I like, and presenting “uncommon dispatches” from more-established creators. The first year of Frontier was mostly focused on the first two goals, but with Sam Alden and Emily Carroll’s books — and now with Jillian Tamaki and Michael DeForge creating issues for 2015—I’m hoping to mix in some of these interesting stories from established creators.

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Humanoids’ Jerry Frissen on ‘The Metabaron’ & more

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Humanoids’ plans for the return of The Metabaron clearly takes a great deal of advanced work, given that while the new stories were announced in October 2014, the first volume/cycle (of four) will not hit shelves until June 2016. Embarking on what happened to No Name (since the end of the 1990s Metabaron spinoff series by Alexandro Jodorowsky and Juan Gimenez), in this new interview, Metabaron writer Jerry Frissen shares his anticipation for tackling an adventure based on a Jodorowsky plot.

Frissen is known for writing a wide variety of stories, so while we had the opportunity, this discussion also addressed the upcoming World War X (his collaboration with Peter Snejbjerg set for release this April) as well as lessons learned from artist Guy Davis on Zombies That Ate The World.

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