Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" 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.
Superheroes sprang from the era of pulp icons like The Phantom and Doc Savage, and now cartoonist Chris Schweizer has some of today’s most popular costumed characters back to their roots.
In a project undertaken just for fun, the creator of The Crogan Adventures imagined some of the Avengers and X-Men as they might’ve appeared in the 1920s and 1930s in a series called “Marvel Pulp.”
Continuing with our annual “Looking Forward, Looking Back” feature, we asked some creators and other industry figures what they liked in 2014, what they’re looking forward to in 2015, and what projects they have planned for the coming year.
In this installment, hear from Hope Larson, Jason Latour, Jess Fink, Sophie Goldstein, Chris Schweizer, Shawn Crystal, Dean Haspiel, Andrew MacLean, Stephanie Cooke, Nolan T. Jones, Erica Schultz and Fred Van Lente!
For this month, Chris Schweizer, creator of Crogan Adventures and the upcoming all-ages graphic novel series The Creeps, is entertaining fans as well as himself with October Monster Drawings, which he is sharing on his myriad social media platforms, including Tumblr.
Noticing he’d reached his 17th piece the other day, I reached out to Schweizer to see whether we could share some of them here, and also get his perspective on what prompted him to do them in the first place. While he happily gave ROBOT 6 his approval to run a few, I heartily recommend you go check out the originals — and the entertaining text he provides with several pieces.
Here’s what he had to say about the Monster Drawings:
Saturday, aka Day 2, of HeroesCon was much busier for creators, so I didn’t always get the opportunity to chat with them that I did on the first day of the Charlotte, North Carolina, convention. In those instances, in place of project updates I provide links to the creators and/or their related works.
Retailing | The rental chain Tsutaya and the bookstore chain Yurindo have returned Kuroko’s Basketball books and DVDs to their shelves after “X-Day,” Nov. 4, passed without incident. Someone has sent hundreds of threatening letters to convention sites, bookstores, the media and Sophia University (the alma mater of Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki), over the past year, and the most recent batch of letters said that “X-Day will be on the final day of the [Sophia University] school festival.” Meanwhile, police are checking security cameras near all the mailboxes in the districts from which the letters were mailed, looking for suspicious people. [Anime News Network]
Comics | Brian Steinberg looks at Archie Comics’ most radical move yet: the relatively adult Afterlife with Archie, which literally turned America’s most iconic teenagers into zombies. Steinberg talks to Archie CEO Jon Goldwater, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, artist Francesco Francavilla and others about the significance of this comic, which sold almost 65,000 copies to the direct market. [Variety]
Happy Sunday and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at all the comics and other stuff we’ve been reading lately. Today our special guest is Dave Dwonch, creative director at Action Lab Entertainment and the writer of such comics as Space-Time Condominium, the upcoming Ghost Town, Double-Jumpers and more.
To see what Dave and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
It’s become an annual tradition during our birthday bash: No matter how much stuff we line up, people we interview, etc., there are still tons of people we like to hear from and include in our giant New Year’s/anniversary/birthday activities. So, as we have in past years, we have asked various comics folks what they liked in 2012 and what they are excited about for 2013.
Check out Part One, and keep reading to see more of what people shared with us, including details on their upcoming projects. Our thanks to everyone who responded this year. Also, thanks again to Tim O’Shea, Michael May and Chris Arrant, who helped collect responses.
SAM HUMPHRIES (The Ultimates, Sacrifice, Uncanny X-Force)
What was your favorite comic of 2012?
Earlier today, SCAD Atlanta Professor and Crogan Adventures creator Chris Schweizer announced the 2012-2013 academic year will be his final one teaching at Savannah College of Art and Design Atlanta. As the scholar/writer/artist noted at his own blog, “I love being a teacher, and I love being a cartoonist, and in many ways each helps me be better at the other. But I’ve come to find that I can do neither to the best of my ability without infringing on the time necessary to see the other done to the degree of quality I’d expect of myself.”
The move is not just a decision to stop teaching: Schweizer has also agreed to form a new studio with Chad Thomas (Mega Man) and Jason Horn (Ninjasaur). In conjunction with announcing the decision, Schweizer fielded a few questions from me. As a fellow resident of Atlanta, I have to add, as pleased as I am to know Schweizer will have more time to devote to his craft, I am equally sad to know he will be leaving Atlanta to do it.
Tim O’Shea: Knowing how much you love teaching, how many times did you talk yourself into staying at SCAD?
Chris Schweizer: I know it sounds cavalier, but never. Once I realized that there was a real problem with the regularity of my output, a problem that was only growing as I moved the Crogan projects to color, I had to look for a solution. I often have trouble finding my way through a problem that I’m in, both in writing and in real life, and I find that the best way puzzle out a solution is to not think of it from the standpoint of what to do next, but to decide on the ideal outcome. Once that outcome is in place, it’s much easier for me to determine the path by which to arrive at it. I was surprised that my ideal outcome didn’t leave time for teaching, or have us staying in Atlanta. Once I realized that, there was no real debating, there was only trying to figure out how best to undertake the change. Originally we thought I’d teach for an additional year after this one, to give us plenty of time to sell the house.
Welcome back for another round of Robot Roulette, where creators spin the virtual roulette wheel and let Lady Luck determine what questions they’ll answer. We’ve got 36 possible questions, and each week I will select at random which of those questions our guest is subjected to.
Today Chris Schweizer tests his luck at the wheel. Chris is the creator of the Crogan Adventures series, published by Oni Press, and teaches sequential art at the Atlanta campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design. He also makes some pretty rad paper figures.
My thanks to Chris for playing along with us today. Now let’s get to it …
Crogans Adventures creator Chris Schweizer has been having some fun lately making paper figures that you can cut out and stand up; last week he did a very ambitious 55-piece set of the entire Harry Potter cast.
This week, it’s something completely different: He has made cutouts of The Sixth Gun creators Brian Hurtt and Cullen Bunn. Does that seem strange? Schweizer addresses that question head-on:
Now you may just be asking yourself “who are these guys? Why didn’t Chris put up characters from The Sea Hawk or Scrubs or something?”
To which I say, “how in the world have you read MY comics and not THEIRS? That’s like saying ‘Oh, I really dig Alexander Kent” but you’ve never read Patrick O’Brian or C.S. Forrester.'” Not that there’s any real equation there, just that it’d be surprising if you knew the former but not the others, which is how surprised I’d be if you’d read Crogan and not Sixth Gun. Read it. Seriously. I can’t tell you how not disappointed you’ll be.
What these paper figures lack, of course, is Hurtt and Bunn’s banter, which has always make the Oni Press panels at comics conventions so entertaining. But with convention season over, we’ll take what we can get. Maybe Chris can come up with some more creator figures for us to collect and trade during the long winter months.
“I’m sorry you feel that way,” she said, “but we’ve had people read whole issues before and not buy them.”
OF COURSE YOU HAVE. YOU’RE A COMIC BOOK SHOP.
– Chris Schweizer, sharing why he quit patronizing a particular comics shop
Tom Spurgeon has a weekly feature on The Comics Reporter called “This Isn’t a Library: Notable Releases to the Comics Direct Market.” Because of the cantankerous, old shopkeeper it creates in my head, it makes me smile every time I read it. I wouldn’t want to meet that person in real life, though, and I especially wouldn’t want to shop in his store.
The place I shop is awesome, and one of the many reasons is that they’re okay with customers giving books the old flip-through. Schweizer’s right that in the age of easy and cheap online retailers, one of the few advantages brick-and-mortar shops have is the ability to check out a book before you buy it. Well, that and the joy of interacting face to face with friendly, knowledgeable employees. You know: the kind that don’t make you feel bad for enjoying some comics with your daughter in the store.
Chris Schweizer (The Crogan Adventures) is a big Sherlock Holmes fan. He also loves to design paper figures for fans to print and cut out, and sometimes — wonderfully — those two interests come together. Most recently, they’ve merged in a set of paper figures from the popular Steven Moffat/Mark Gatiss series Sherlock. He’s even created some 221B Baker Street diorama backgrounds for the set.
Like always, fans can print them out and put them together on their own, but Schweizer is also holding a special contest for Tumblr users to win professionally printed versions. Third prize is a complete set of the Sherlock figures. Second prize is that, plus a professionally printed set of the Arthur Conan Doyle versions. First prize is both sets, plus a custom figure that you tell Schweizer what you want him to draw. So if you want Holmes to team up with Batman in your diorama, or a Sleestak from Land of the Lost, Schweizer can totally make that happen.
All you have to do is have a Tumblr account (they’re free!) and reblog his contest post by 4am Eastern Time early on Saturday, September 29th. “Likes” don’t count. He’ll choose a random winner.
Digital comics | The Japanese web portal JManga today launched an unlimited-access site JManga7, although it won’t be putting any actual content on it until October. Unlike JManga, which sells digital manga one volume at a time, JManga7 operates on an “all-you-can-eat” model, with single chapters of a variety of titles available for free, and a wider selection with a paid subscription. The site will be updated daily and will include a mix of genres, with some new content that is being published close to its Japanese release date as well as some older series. The idea is for readers to check out the manga at JManga7 and ultimately buy them for keeps at JManga. To encourage readers to pre-register, JManga is raffling off seven Nexus 7 tablets and seven free subscriptions. Plans for the site were unveiled last month at Comic-Con International in an exclusive interview with Comic Book Resources. [JManga]
Since the first time I hung out with Monkeybrain Books founders Allison Baker and Chris Roberson at the Westin hotel bar during HeroesCon a few years back, I have longed to do a joint interview with them. While their publishing house Monkeybrain Books has been in existence since 2001, in July Baker and Roberson launched a creator-owned comiXology-distributed digital imprint, Monkeybrain Comics. While much is known of Roberson, not everyone knows Baker’s background. As detailed at their company website: “Allison Baker has worked in feature film and political media production for more than 13 years, while also managing the day-to-day operations of Chris Roberson and Monkeybrain Books.” Please allow me to apologize in advance for not quizzing Roberson about my new favorite Monkeybrain work of his, Edison Rex. Update: After I finished posting this article, Monkeybrain announced that tomorrow (August 14) would mark the release of a 99-cent autobiographical story by Kurt Busiek, Thoughts on A Winter Morning, drawn by Steve Lieber (a story which was originally appeared in Negative Burn: Winter 2005).
Tim O’Shea: Which came first, the decision to move to Portland or the decision to move Monkeybrain into the digital realm?
Allison Baker: The move to PDX was definitely decided first. Monkeybrain Comics started out as an idea and theory, trying to solve a lot of the problems creators run into when working within a traditional publishing model. The final piece of the puzzle came to us at the end of last year. After that we started actively putting it all together in the beginning of 2012.
Chris Roberson: Yeah, we’d been planning our move to Portland for well over a year, and talking about it for a year or two before that. The germ of the idea that would eventually become Monkeybrain Comics was planted around the same time, but didn’t take its final form as a digital comics imprint until the end of last year.