INTERVIEW: Gail Simone Guides 'Blockbuster Update' of Red Sonja, Vampirella and Dejah Thoris
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.
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.
Hang 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).
In 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.
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.
It’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Blade 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.
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.
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.
Crunchyroll, 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.