Ann Nocenti is a creator who caught my attention in different ways over the years. As a news and documentary junkie myself, her career path (which ventured into journalism and making documentaries at various times) fascinates me. Once she agreed to a interview about her new DC Comics series Katana, I filled her in-box with my questions. Wednesday marks the release of Katana #2, in which the lead character has become a member of the Sword Clan in her quest for vengeance. Nocenti’s discussion of her current work becomes even more interesting to read when juxtaposed the recent Comic Book Resources interview with Louise Simonson and Nocenti regarding their journeys into writing comics.
Tim O’Shea: I love your ability to offer conflicting imagery in the first issue of Katana. For instance, you stage a fight with Katana in a garden sculpture park/kawaii park (including teddy bear topiary). Was that your idea or did artist Alex Sanchez suggest it?
Ann Nocenti: I do a lot of research before writing a comic, then try to forget it all before actually writing the scripts in order to allow something new to seep in. When I was first offered Katana, Jim Lee said something about how it would be great to have the fight scenes in spectacular visual settings, rather than alleyways and streets, and his comment stuck with me. So when researching Japan, I was enchanted by kawaii art, how it is both soothing and endearing, and yet it reminded me of my childhood filled with Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty tales — the myths that are hoisted on little girls. So I set the battle in a kawaii park, but it was Alex’s idea to turn that into a topiary. I was surprised and delighted when the art came in. I also wanted to play with visual riffs on feminist themes — to contrast what is expected of women, both here and in Japan, when one is raised in a traditional fashion and yet struggles to be progressive. I was raised Catholic, so I can understand that. Visually, I want to continue the idea of strong settings for the fight scenes: In Katana #2 there is a battle in a zoo and at a double-ended sword show. In Katana #3 the battle is in a boat graveyard.
This Wednesday will see the release of the third issue of writer Roger Langridge and artist Chris Samnee‘s Thor: The Mighty Avenger. Anyone reading our weekly What Are You Reading column knows how much I’ve praised the first two issues. Samnee and I spoke briefly at this past June’s HeroesCon and from there an email interview came together. In addition to Thor, we discuss some of Samnee’s past work as well as his upcoming collaboration with writer Jim McCann on I Am An Avenger 1. Earlier today, CBR posted a five-page preview to Thor: The Mighty Avenger 3.
O’Shea: What’s the most enjoyable aspect of working from a Roger Langridge script?
Samnee: Roger’s scripts are really funny – I laugh out loud when I read them! I love the humor as well as his ability to tell quiet, emotional moments. Since Roger’s also an artist, he’s really good with pacing and page turns as well. And the scripts have a very silver-age feel, which is right up my alley.
O’Shea: I keep re-reading Thor: The Mighty Avenger 1 trying to figure out what my favorite scene was–and I can ‘t decide if it’s when we first see the Rainbow Bridge on page 2; or the first scene where Thor smiles. Was the smiling Thor a character suggestion from Langridge or was that your idea?
Samnee: The smile was in the script. Roger made clear right from the outline for the book that this Thor smiles and enjoys himself. For me, that was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the book, as an artist and a reader of comics. I’ve worked on a lot of heavy books – it’s a nice change of pace to be on something a bit lighter, a comic where the characters are having fun.
Retailing | Heidi MacDonald confirms rumors that well-regarded Brooklyn retailer Rocketship, the setting for numerous signings, release parties and art shows, has closed after five years. “We’ve come to the end of a five-year lease, and are deciding what to do now,” said co-owner Alex Cox. “Five years went by fast, and my partner and I are suddenly making some large life decisions about what comes next. We love the shop, and as fun as it is, we have to figure out what makes sense for us on a practical level.” [The Beat]
Pop culture | KRCW-Santa Monica (89.9 FM) will rebroadcast the 1991 radio production of American Splendor, starring Dan Castellaneta, from 7:30 to 8 p.m. PST today. This broadcast will appear on air and via KCRW.com live stream only, and will not be available on demand or via podcast. [KCRW.com]
Legal | The Wall Street Journal’s Tomomichi Amano looks at efforts by a newly formed coalition of Japanese and American manga publishers to crack down on U.S.-based scanlation websites. “People might say it’s like whack-a-mole,” says Vertical Inc.’s Ioannis Mentzas, “but we think even making one (legal) case will greatly change the situation.” [Japan Real Time]
Fun Home‘s Alison Bechdel and American Splendor‘s Harvey Pekar can be ranked alongside Persepolis‘s Marjane Satrapi and Maus‘s Art Spiegelman (to the extent Maus is autobiographical) as the cartoonists whose autobiographical comics have made the biggest splash in the larger pop-cultural pond. So it must have been a real treat to hear the pair talk about their comics, their lives, and the intersection of the two at UCLA last Friday. Fortunately, CBR’s Tom Gastall was there to tell us all about it today. In addition to talking about process and success, Bechdel and Pekar tease their next projects — Bechdel’s working on a memoir about the making of Fun Home, while Pekar’s got a political work called “How I Lost My Faith in Israel” on the horizon. Should be plenty of grist for discussion. Go read!