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Talking Comics with Tim | Natalie Nourigat on ‘A Boy & a Girl’

A Boy & A Girl

A Boy & A Girl

Dec. 11 will see the release of the latest collaboration between artist Natalie Nourigat and writer Jamie S. Rich, A Boy & a Girl, a 160-page sci-fi romance. Published by Oni Press (Diamond Order CodeJUL131213), the graphic novel is a futuristic story that considers an Earth where life-like androids are becoming just as common as real humans, and where a guy named Travis decides he just has to get a date with a girl named Charley. That spark of interest leads to a whole slew of quirky turns and revelations. I recently caught up with Nourigat, who’s normally based out of Portland, Oregon’s Periscope Studio but is spending a year in France, to discuss her latest work. To get a slice of the story, be sure to check out Oni’s 10-page preview.

Tim O’Shea: Was there any specific element in particular about Jamie S. Rich’s script that persuaded you to want to draw the story?

Natalie Nourigat: I wanted to draw the story before I even knew what the story was, because I wanted to work with Jamie again. He was really open to collaboration, and from the beginning he invited me to suggest elements that interested me to steer us into something that would be fun for both of us. I wanted a time-travel story, and then a futuristic sci-fi setting, and then the split-perspective angle as things progressed.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Valerio Schiti on ‘Avengers A.I.’

VS-AvenAI

Of the myriad artists working at Marvel in recent years, Valerio Schiti, who kicks off a two-issue stint this week on Avengers A.I., stands out as one of those deserving a great deal more attention.  I’m hard pressed to define what most appeals to me in terms of his work, but Schiti’s knack for distinctive facial reactions ranks high on the list. It’s also an element he and I discuss in this interview (be sure to also peruse the preview of Avengers A.I. #5 on Comic Book Resources). I hope Schiti’s boundless enthusiasm for his craft, which is reflected in his work, comes across in this interview.

Tim O’Shea: The first issue of your two-issue stint (Avengers A.I. #5-6) leaps right into the deep end, as detailed in the solicitations, as Issue 5 tackles the “mind-bending origin of Alexis.” How excited were you when you learned you got to tackle that in your first issue?

Valerio Schiti: It’s great to have the chance to work on such a defining moment for a new character. We don’t know anything about Alexis yet, even if Sam [Humphries] and André [Araùjo] introduced her. We already know what she looks like, some of her abilities but we still don’t know who she really is, what’s her purpose. Usually a normal writer would use a flashback sequence to answer such questions, but Sam is not a “normal” writer. He decided to take advantage of the artificial nature of Alexis to reveal something new about her in an original way, which means that is also a visually original way! I had a great fun drawing this scene and Frank [D’Armata], with his amazing talent for colors, made it spectacular.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Scott Allie on CBLDF’s ‘Liberty Annual 2013′

CBLDF's Liberty Annual 2013

CBLDF’s Liberty Annual 2013

Once in a while, when I go into the comics shop to snag my weekly pile, there will be something on the shelf that catches totally unaware. On Oct. 2, I was delighted to discover the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s Liberty Annual 2013 (published by Image Comics). Given that all the proceeds from the book (previewed here at CBR) benefit the CBLDF, I wanted to interview Dark Horse Editor-in-Chief Scott Allie, who directed the project. While I had his attention, I couldn’t pass up the chance to discuss some of the Dark Horse line as well.

Tim O’Shea: While seemingly an obvious question, I still think it worth asking: Why is it so important to you to volunteer your time for a project like the CBLDF Liberty Annual?

Scott Allie: Free speech is a near and dear cause, for me and for Dark Horse, and it’s still an uphill battle for comics. There are preconceptions about this art form that invite attacks, and we need to work to defend against that. I want creators and publishers to be free to put out what they want to put out, and for retailers to sell it without fear of prosecution, for readers to travel with their books without fear of incarceration. The CBLDF isn’t just about raising money in court cases. They’re about educating the population about the art form we love, and I want to be a part of that.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Paul Pelletier on ‘Aquaman’

Aquaman 24

Aquaman 24

Current Aquaman artist Paul Pelletier has a long and varied history in comics, dating back to the late 1980s. When I learned Jeff Parker would replace Geoff Johns as the series’ writer (beginning with Aquaman #26), I was pleased that DC Comics chose to leave Pelletier on the title (as opposed to switching to a new art team, as frequently happens). I enjoy Pelletier’s take on Aquaman, and I was surprised to learn he’s not well-versed in some of the character’s earlier runs (so readers, please be sure to share your favorite runs in the comments section, since the artist asked “which runs would the Aqua-fans recommend?”). It was a unique opportunity, prior to the October 23 release of Aquaman #24,  to chat with the veteran artist as he transitions from collaborating with one veteran writer to another. Plus, I enjoyed hearing about Pelletier’s appreciation of basketball legend Larry Bird.

Tim O’Shea: Once you realized Arthur would be sporting a beard again, did you draw a couple of versions of beards (goatee versus full beard) or did you and Geoff always have one look in mind when it came to Aquaman’s facial hair?

Paul Pelletier: When Geoff wrote Aquaman with the beard, it was a result of Arthur being unconscious for six months, so I figured it wouldn’t be too stylized. A full beard that wasn’t too manicured made sense to me. Now if the beard was to remain, then we might have to think about something a bit more tailored to Arthur.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Steve Downer on coloring

Panel from Sons of Anarchy #1 (BOOM! Studios)

Panel from Sons of Anarchy #1 (BOOM! Studios)

I first became aware of colorist Steve Downer due to his work on MonkeyBrain Comics’ Edison Rex. But as I quickly learned, he serves as colorist on a variety of projects, as well as artist on Dracula the Unconquered. Given the variety of Downer’s projects, I thought it would be insightful to discuss his craft with him.

Tim O’Shea: How long have you been a colorist?

Steve Downer: I’ve been working full-time as a colorist since 2009, though I started coloring as a side job much earlier, in 2007, while I worked as a T-shirt graphic designer.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Pat Grant on ‘Blue’

Blue

I missed out on Pat Grant‘s debut graphic novel Blue when it was initially released in 2012. But now that Top Shelf has the book back in print, I got in touch with the Australian writer/artist to learn more about the 96-page book, described as “a fascinating blend of autobiography and fiction with a sci-fi twist.” The story has an interesting mix of several elements, including teenagers surfing, aliens with tentacles, conflict, bigotry and a quest for a dead body — all of which just scratches the surface of this ambitious work.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Jon Proctor on ‘Binary’

Binary

Binary

In 1987, writer Christopher Hinz released Liege-Killer, the first novel in his “Paratwa Trilogy,” although longtime comics readers may remember him for his work on the mid-’90s DC Comics/Helix series Gemini Blood. Now, more than 25 years later, Hinz has adapted Liege-Killer for comics, collaborating with artist Jon Proctor on the new graphic novel Binary, published by Ilfeld Comics.

To learn more about the project, I asked Proctor a handful of questions about Binary and working with Hinz.

Tim O’Shea: What was it about Christopher Hinz’s script that attracted you to Binary?

Jon Proctor: Binary is a graphic novel adaptation of Christopher’s novel Liege-Killer, which was first published in 1987. It went on to win the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel and earned a nomination for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. It had a cult following for years, and even though I was unaware of the original novel I was familiar with a nine-issue miniseries Christopher did for DC comics short-lived, science fiction and science fantasy imprint called Helix. The comic, titled Gemini Blood, had similar themes to the Binary/Liege-Killer universe. Incidentally, it was also drawn by Tommy Lee Edwards, and I’ve always been a huge fan of his artwork. Stuart Moore edited the Helix mini, and he and I have been partners in crime for years. He thought I might be a good fit so he approached me with the idea for Binary. Committing to a 125-page full-color book where the entire production sits squarely on my shoulders was a little nerve-wracking, but the script hooked me on the first page. In other words, Christopher is a really talented writer! The science fiction aspect was one thing that attracted me to it but within the layering of the characters was something different and fascinating. For one thing, the idea that the main villain in the book consists of two assassins that share a soul was really something I thought would be great fun as well as a visual challenge to pull off, and it was! The script was just really fresh and the world it portrayed was enormous. I did a few pages as a try out for Christopher and our producer Etan Ilfeld, and thankfully they chose me to do the book.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Steve Orlando on ‘Virgil’

Virgil

Virgil

I had just learned about the hate crime-related murder of Dwayne Jones in Jamaica when writer Steve Orlando contacted me about his Kickstarter campaign for Virgil, a crime graphic novel partially aimed at shining a light on anti-gay violence in that country. So his request for an interview was an easy one to grant. Orlando’s Kickstarter, with a goal of $15,000 and an end date of Sept. 11, aims to tell the story of Virgil, an outed cop fighting “his way across Jamaica to save his man and get revenge.” Orlando has also posted a preview of the book.

Tim O’Shea: I know Archie’s Kevin Keller partially inspired Virgil. But I am curious, how did you first learn about anti-gay violence in Jamaica?

Steve Orlando: If you’re going to fight back against the man, you’ve got to go where he lives!

But seriously, research! Once I decided to do a book with a gay couple fighting back against heterosexists and violent homophobes, I consulted Human Rights Watch reports. Originally I planned on setting the book in Africa, also the home of numerous anti-gay atrocities, but the dichotomy of Jamaica was much stronger to me. Jamaica is often seen as a vacation paradise, but for so many residents there that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Art Baltazar and Franco on ‘Itty Bitty Hellboy’

Itty Bitty HellboyHave you ever received an unexpected gift that made you instantly happy? That’s how I felt in late April when Dark Horse announced Itty Bitty Hellboy, a five-issue all-ages miniseries by Art Baltazar and Franco (known for their Eisner Award-winning run on DC’s Tiny Titans and, more recently, Superman Family Adventures). Ahead of the comic’s debut on Wednesday, I spoke with Art and Franco about their fun-loving Aw Yeah-ification of the Mike Mignola/Hellboy universe.

Tim O’Shea: How hard was it to settle on the Itty Bitty Hellboy title?

Franco: That was pretty easy. Artie takes all the credit for that one. What title would best encapsulate what we wanted to do with the character than make him itty bitty!

Art Baltazar: Yes! We went through a few different adjectives before “Itty Bitty” won our hearts.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Sam Humphries on ‘Sacrifice’

Sacrifice

Sacrifice

In interviews I typically stay away from the “how did you get started in comics” question, but periodically I’ll delve into a question about a book dedication, hopeful for an interesting answer. I was hopeful with good reason with this week’s interview with writer Sam Humphries about the new Dark Horse hardcover collection of Sacrifice, by Humphries and artist Dalton Rose. To learn the death of his father was the push Humphries needed to pursue writing comics was a moment that gave me pause.

In fact, the book itself — about Hector, who through an epileptic seizure departs from modern time and space, back to when the Aztec civilization was in its prime — stopped me in my tracks. Storytelling that maps a psychedelic journey in a coherent and fascinating manner is no easy feat, but Humphries and Rose have accomplished it. Dark Horse’s collection of the self-published series will be released Wednesday.

Tim O’Shea: On a most rudimentary level, let’s talk about the logo design for Sacrifice. Who designed it, [comics designer] Dylan Todd or Dalton Rose?

Sam Humphries: Dylan Todd. Sacrifice largely takes place in the past, but it’s not a stodgy period piece. I wanted the design to reflect a modern sensibility without ignoring the core of the story, which is the Aztec Empire. It was a difficult balance but Dylan killed it. He gave Sacrifice a “face” to people who had never seen the story.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Nick Dragotta on ‘East of West’

Panels from "East of West" #4

Panels from “East of West” #4

There are certain artists who prove that their work only gets better with each new project and new issue. Such is the case with Nick Dragotta on East of West, his new creator-owned ongoing series with Jonathan Hickman.

I relish any opportunity to interview Dragotta, particularly in the same week that East of West 5#. His ability to lay out some spectacular action scenes continues to be a given in this Image Comics series, but I have also grown to appreciate his ability to develop distinctive architecture as well as engaging, yet more sedate, scenes.

In addition to discussing East of West, Dragotta also brought me up to date on Howtoons, which we talked about in our first interview in 2011. As the father of a kid who loves do-it-yourself activities, I appreciate the involvement of the artist and his wife Ingrid in a project that fosters fun, educational activities for children. To learn he has gotten creator favorites of mine, such as Fred Van Lente (no stranger to educational entertainment), Jeff Parker and Sandy Jarrell involved is just icing on the DIY cake.

Back to East of West, the artist and I also got a chance to (hopefully) satiate Comics Should Be Good’s Greg Burgas’ curiosity regarding the East of West creative process that he broached in a recent essay on reviewing the art in comics. In addition, Dragotta was kind enough to share an unlettered page from East of West #5 as well as unlettered pages from issues 2 and 4. With the first trade (collecting issues 1-5) set for release on Sept. 11, we also discuss its potential impact on audience growth. Full candor: Dragotta blindsided me with his Rob Liefeld fan club confession. Seriously, though, it is refreshing to see a talent such as Dragotta reveling in the opportunity to do creator-owned work.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Knave & Williams on ‘Artful Daggers’

Artful Daggers 6

Artful Daggers 6

Artful Daggers, by writers Adam P. Knave and Sean E. Williams and artist Andrew Losq, is visually one of the most distinctive titles Monkeybrain Comics publishes. The series, which portrays a world 50 years after the end of Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, considers the impact of bringing 19th-century technology into medieval times. Or as the creative team puts it succinctly: “Swords, Spies and Science.”

To mark today’s release of Artful Daggers #6, which CBR previewed Tuesday, I reached out to the writing team of Knave and Williams to discuss their universe, where kingdoms have been replaced by corporations. While the focus of the interview is their writing, Losq’s impact on the series is clear, as his collaborators admits they “end up cutting dialogue more often than not, as Andrew’s able to do more with an expression than we can with dialogue.”

Before closing our interview, Knave was happy to chat briefly about his other Monkeybrain ongoing (with co-writer D.J. Kirkbride and artist Nick Brokenshire), Amelia Cole. It’s an especially current topic of discussion given that on Aug. 14 IDW Publishing will release the digital series’ first print collection, Amelia Cole and the Unknown World.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Tim Gibson on ‘Moth City’

Moth City 4

Moth City 4

If you’re a fan of Tim Gibson‘s Moth City, you may have been introduced to the work on Gibson’s own site or through its serialization at Thrillbent. Fans of the digital platform are able to consume larger installments of the series in one sitting with comiXology Submit, where  Moth City will wrap up its second season on Wednesday, with the digital release of Issue 4.

Set in 1930s China and featuring an interesting mix of characters, Moth City is what comiXology aptly describes as “a story about control — when we lose it, when we gain it, and when others hold it over us.”

To celebrate the release of Moth City #4, Gibson opened up about his murder-mystery series, and the creative process behind it. His storytelling and bio gave me a lot of ground to develop questions, particularly with great lines like, “When he’s not writing or drawing, he spends his time reading Elmore Leonard, Stephen King and Agatha Christie, and ogling the art of David Mazzucchelli.”

Tim O’Shea: The first issue opens with a quote from Lord Byron’s “On Leaving Newstead Abbey.” What prompted you to open with that?

Tim Gibson: Byron is this great figure of masculinity, a soldier and a poet. A romantic who had a very twisted love life. He’s a great parallel to the story’s self-imposed tyrant, Governor McCaw, a man who sees himself in a very idealised light. Newstead Abbey also touches on the failure and decay of a once-grand estate, which helps set up one of the main conflicts of the story, that of the Governor, and his daughter Glitter who lives a life so sheltered she may as well be a possession.

Plus, you know, if you’re going to do a comic with car chases, bio weapons, shoot outs, hurried romance and underground plots, you may as well put a bow tie on it.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Joshua Williamson on ‘Captain Midnight’

Captain Midnight 1

Captain Midnight 1

Dark Horse has been making a concerted effort over the past year to develop its superhero line, with titles like Ghost, X and The Victories. On Wednesday, the lineup expands further with the launch of the Captain Midnight ongoing series, written by Joshua Williamson and illustrated by Fernando Dagnino.

I can’t help but be excited by the potential appeal for this new series, which throws the World War II scientist-hero into the present day — particularly after Williamson praised James Robinson’s Starman: ”It’s one of the few books that — it made me cry.” My cautious optimism for the series was cemented in the midst of my interview with the writer, when he said of the Dark Horse superhero approach: “There is a subtle way to handle the superhero universe, and that’s what Dark Horse is doing.”

Once you’ve read the interview, be sure to enjoy the preview the publisher offered for Captain Midnight #1, on sale Wednesday.

Tim O’Shea: You leap right into the action with Issue 0, in which Captain Midnight lands in the present day, after just having been in the midst of World War II. What does it say about the character that he wasn’t thrown by being flung into the future?

Joshua Williamson: We knew that we wanted to separate Captain Midnight from other time-lost characters and set up two aspects: 1) He was disappointed by the future; 2) He was not surprised by time travel. Midnight was a genius first and a superhero second.

Midnight is a very interesting character in that he is no-nonsense and has such a black-and-white outlook on the world — very matter-of-fact. We wanted to get that across to our readers quickly in the zero issue and found that was the best way to do it.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Russell & Wheeler on ‘God Is Disappointed in You’

God Is Disappointed In You

God Is Disappointed In You

I happen to be a person of faith who also has a sense of humor. As a result, the effort by writer Mark Russell and cartoonist Shannon Wheeler to accurately, yet comically, condense the Bible, God Is Disappointed in You, amused the hell out of me. In Catholic high school, I once offended several people by characterizing a newly unveiled statue of Christ (hands outstretched blessing a crowd) as showing the son of God opting for a “basketball zone defense.”

Fortunately Russell and Wheeler, are far superior at comedy (and religious scholarship) than I have ever been. The book clicked with me from the opening pages. While it will not be released until August, you can preorder it now from Top Shelf.

Tim O’Shea: First question goes to Shannon, thanks to his part of the book dedication. Just to clarify: In the dedication, in which both you and your mom were glad you were not struck by lightning, you also thank Patricia, who survived a lightning hit. I have to hear the story about that.

Shannon Wheeler: My mom manages to be in the middle of all sorts of zeitgeists. Elvis played at her high school. When I was little we went to see Jim Jones preach (before Guyana). She managed to stop by the Koresh compound mid-standoff (she bought me a novelty Frisbee from a roadside vendor). She seems to be at the right place, or wrong place, at the right, or wrong, time. In college she was hit by lightning. It knocked the shoes off her feet and threw her into a ditch. She couldn’t move her legs. A couple of co-eds carried her back to her dorm. The doctor told her to take a warm bath and call back if the feeling didn’t return. Over the next couple hours everything returned to normal. She said it was “tingly” — the same as when your foot falls asleep. She had a circular carbon mark on her side for a bit. Some Native Americans believe that being hit by lightning makes you a shaman. She tells the story like it was no big deal.

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