Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
Graphic novels | An estimated 200 students, faculty and community members gathered Saturday at the College of Charleston in South Carolina to protest proposed budget cuts to that school and the University of South Carolina Upstate in retaliation for selecting gay-themed books — including Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home — for their summer reading programs. The South Carolina House of Representatives approved a proposal early this month that would slash $52,000 cut from the College of Charleston and $17,142 for USC Upstate, which represent what each school spent on the programs. The budget is now before the state Senate. [The Post and Courier]
A few years back, to celebrate the WWE’s annual Wrestlemania event, I reached out to several comic folks who I knew were wrestling fans to get their predictions on how the matches would go. It was a lot of fun; so much fun that apparently I let three years go by before doing it again (in my defense, I had a baby somewhere in those three years, so … yeah).
In any event, this year I got my act together enough to reach out to some of my Robot 6 colleagues, as well as several members of the comics community, to once against ask: Rock or Cena? Brock or Triple H? Undertaker or Punk? Scholars or Funk? Our panel shared their thoughts, opinions, hopes and dreams for tomorrow’s big pay-per-view event.
Rough around the edges but as precise as a Swiss clock. It’s an apt description for the Marvel character Hawkeye, and also the work of series artist David Aja.
Born and raised in Valladolid, Spain, the same town Don Quixote author Miguel de Cervantes called home, Aja earned a college degree in illustration as was on his way to a career in magazine illustration before he followed his childhood ambition: comics. After a prosaic debut in the Marvel anthology X-Men Unlimited, Aja grew by leaps and bounds before becoming the signature artist of the cult-hit series The Immortal Iron Fist with writers Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction. After the conclusion of his run, Aja did a series of one-off stories for titles like Secret Avengers, Daredevil and Wolverine: Debt of Death while he and his wife added two children to their home already filled with animals. This year, Aja and Fraction reunited for another series, this time taking on classic Avenger (and newly minted movie star) Hawkeye in a self-titled series that focuses on the archer’s life when he’s not working as one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
After last week’s stupendous one-off story in Hawkeye #6, Aja seems on top of his game. And what better time to get inside his head and find out what he thinks about comics and his place in it. In our conversation, we go over his time on The Immortal Iron Fist and Hawkeye, his views on original art, and also his idea of creative teams and what his formula is for making a great comic.
Most any professional comic artist is able to produce work that looks like comic art; that’s their job. But there’s a select few who can produce work that looks like fine art. Artist Eric Canete has been doing it for almost two decades now, from his start at the racy publisher Verotik owned by Glenn Danzig and on to work at Wildstorm, Marvel and the independent arena. While Canete has made a significant name in comics with his work on Iron Man: Enter The Mandarin and The End League, comics isn’t his only career; he balances it with a thriving career as a storyboard artist for animation, sometimes working exclusively in animation for a period of months (or even years), and then sometimes returning to comics for a time like he never left.
I reached out to Canete for this interview because, frankly, I missed seeing new comics from him. I was aware he had a career in animation, but after being spoiled with the caliber of his work and successfully tracking down most of his early, hard-to-find comics, I wanted more. I’d interviewed Eric on previous occasions, and he exceeded my expectations about how upfront he would be about the waxing and waning of his comics work. He’s now involved with the upcoming DC animated series Beware the Batman after finishing up TRON Uprising, and I discovered Canete had a graphic novel released this year. And if that wasn’t enough, Canete considers it the apex of his career so far. Unfortunately, however, it’s not available in America — or even in English.
Note: Due to some unforeseen transcription issues, the Steve Rude interview promised for this week won’t be published until next Friday.
Spanish artist David Lafuente is one of those creators who burst into the American comics scene like a shooting star, first glimmering with 2008’s Patsy Walker: Hellcat and then shining with blinding amount talent in 2009’s Ultimate Comics Spider-Man. After his run on that title ended in late 2010, Lafuente followed that with covers for various Marvel series and a brief run on a group of characters close to his heart, the New Mutants. Since then, new work released by this artist has primarily been online on his blog and his recently ended art blog group the Sindiecate. What has he been working on in this down time? Creator-owned comics.
When I reached out to Lafuente to do this interview, I hoped to find out more about his upcoming series Home Run with Jonathan Ross, but what I ended up with was that — and a whole lot more.
In what ended up being David’s most extensive interview ever, we talked about not one but three new creator-owned series he’s working on, as well as his reflections on his heady rise to fame at Marvel and how he isn’t done yet with the House of Ideas.
Both Peter Parker and Clark Kent have managed to build a career as a comic book superhero on the back of a journalism career, and as it turns out so have a number of comic book writers. Following in the footsteps of Paul Levitz, Mark Waid and Neil Gaiman, Ian Brill first came into comics in the early 2000s as a journalist writing for the likes of Publishers Weekly and Newsarama. He went on to become an editor at BOOM! Studios, and parlayed that into his first major comics-writing gig, Darkwing Duck. That series succeeded past most anyone’s expectations, and put Brill on a path to venture into comics writing full-time in 2011.
Earlier this summer, Brill launched the first major series of his own with the self-published Dracula World Order: The Beginning one-shot. Enlisting an all-star lineup of artists, Brill distributed the comic in grassroots fashion not unlike Sam Humphries’ Our Love Is Real. Brill is already hard at work on more stories in the Dracula World Order universe, and he’s also just been announced as the writer for the upcoming BOOM! series Freelancers, profiling a female duo of kung-fu bounty hunters. Comic Book Resources spoke at length with Brill about that series last month, so here we focus on his self-published work, his career trajectory and his thoughts on Kickstarter.
When I first discovered Salgood Sam‘s work, he wasn’t Salgood Sam. Back in the 1990s, he went by his real name, Max Douglas. I found his work in the pages of Clive Barker’s Marvel series Saint Sinner in 1993, when Douglas was one of a select few rising art stars at the publisher in the post-Image exodus. Douglas drew Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme, Midnight Sons Unlimited, Morbius: The Living Vampire and a few 2099 issues before disappearing off the face of the earth. It was only years later that I discovered he had taken a self-imposed sabbatical from comics, unhappy with the situations presented.
After a couple years away, Douglas returned under the new moniker of Salgood Sam and began his second life in comics on the independent scene, doing a mixture of more racy books like Sea of Red and Terminator 3 while creating personal projects like the one-man anthology RevolveЯ. Salgood Sam went on to push his craft with the excellent graphic novel Therefore Repent! and his own long-running webcomic Dream Life. From time to time he steps back to do work-for-hire like an issue of Ghostbusters for IDW Publishing, but the Canadian artist is doing it on his own terms while continuing to established a career with his own work.
Salgood Sam is one of the most fascinating creators working in comics today — at times too mainstream to be indie, and yet too indie to be mainstream. He carries an independent streak that would make most Big Two creators blush, and through grants, government funding and the occasional work-for-hire gig he’s been able to do some mentally explorative comics like Dream Lifeand his RevolveЯ series that gives me a renewed enthusiasm for comics. Enough gushing. Salgood Sam and I have been conducting this interview by email for the past two months, and I’m glad to be able to bring it to you today.
For this week’s Conversing On Comics, I wanted to introduce one of the big behind-the-scenes players in the industry who works with some of the top artists and has a hand in virtually all of the big new launches and reboots coming out of the Big Two the past few years. But unlike the editors, writers, artists and publishers you see in the credits or in interviews, this comics professional is unknown to virtually all retailers and fans — but is one of the top names in the address books of editors. It’s artist agent David Macho.
Macho has worked for the past 12 years representing artists from his native Spain, and has formalized his stable of talent as “the Spanish Inq.” With 24 artists, Macho’s roster is penciling, inking or coloring a large segment of mainstream American comics, including Uncanny X-Men, The Avengers, X-Men, Action Comics, Birds of Prey, Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man, Marvel Universe Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Resurrection Man, Legion of Super-Heroes, Smallville, Blackhawks, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, Stormwatch, Red Lanterns, Suicide Squad, Nightwing and The Hypernaturals.
Outside of the office staff of DC Comics and Marvel, I’d argue you can’t find anyone else with as many active connections in the industry. And that puts him in a unique vantage point to see all sides of the industry.