INTERVIEW: Gail Simone Guides 'Blockbuster Update' of Red Sonja, Vampirella and Dejah Thoris
Young Bart Simpsons may have trouble sleeping because he’s a afraid clowns will eat him but comic book writer Christopher Sebela has no such issues, and he’s aiming to not only prove it but go one step further and document his one-month stay in the infamous Clown Motel in Tonopah, Neveda, dubbed the “Scariest Motel in America.”
Sebela began a Kickstarter to help fund the experience, which he planned to document through photos and video and other services but mainly as a published e-book. However, Sebela quickly met the $4,500 goal, leading to some interesting stretch goals — including purchasing a clown suit he will wear in the room and maybe sleep in a few times, writing a short comic book about his stay and being joined by Terry Tyson who will conduct a seance at the motel. He surpassed all those goals already and his final $10,000 stretch goal is a documentary about the motel and Tonopah.
The best way to learn how to make comics is to simply make comics, and writer Christopher Sebela found his way in by coloring and lettering.
He’s the first to admit he wasn’t the best, but it helped him to learn the industry while he continued to hone his writing skills. After years of work, and a couple of lucky breaks, Sebela is beginning to make a name for himself as a writer of diverse titles like Ghost, Escape From New York, Aliens vs. Predator: Fire & Stone and his own Dead Letters and High Crimes.
I spoke with Sebela about his entrance into comics, his beginnings as a color flatter, and his various projects. Along the way, he told me how the ability to hide a dead body gave him one of his biggest breaks in his career, and about his dueling passion and fear of Mount Everest.
One upon a time, an entire subcontinent crashed into the largest continent. Tectonic plates collided, sending rocks jutting toward the heavens. Jagged peaks formed formed the Himalayas, and looming higher than any other was Everest. Sir Edmund Hilary famously journeyed to the top of the world, a feat that inspired generations of explorers to believe that no place on Earth is unconquerable. But they’re not always right, for on its icy, windswept cliffs, many an intrepid soul has succumbed to its perils. Everest is a mountain of madness. It’s a mountain … of death.
Christopher Sebela and Ibrahim Moustafa’s Eisner-nominated comic High Crimes (Monkeybrain) follows the thrilling, high-stakes adventure of a lost soul named Suzanne “Zan” Jansen. She was an avid snowboarder until her Olympic dreams were cruelly crushed by an injury. Haunted by failure, her days are spent in an unbreakable cycle of drinking and self-loathing. She ends up involved in a sordid occupation: finding the missing bodies of those who disappeared on climbing expeditions. The dirty work is done by her grizzled, older business partner Haskell, who chops a hand off the dead, then returns to base to have it stored in his freezer. The fingerprints are traced by a corrupt police officer, and the identity lets them know which families to bribe.
One day, Haskell is dealt a bad hand. Literally. It belongs to a decades-old corpse who used to be Sebastian Mars. He’s not just a climber; he’s a person of interest. Inside the severed hand, Zan discovers a capsule containing a rolled-up microfiche of secrets. It turns out that it’s something like the Maltese Falcon: the stuff that dreams are made of, and a thing of extreme value to the wrong kinds of people.
In 2012, Marvel gave Carol Danvers a promotion from “Ms. Marvel” to “Captain Marvel,” along with a new uniform and her own ongoing series. That move swiftly won over a very passionate, dedicated fanbase, and the “Carol Corps” are gathering to celebrate in Seattle on the eve of this year’s Emerald City Comicon. The venue is high-profile, and fitting given Danvers’ background as an Air Force pilot: The Museum of Flight, the world’s largest private air and space museum.
The event, dubbed “Carol Corps Celebration,” will include appearances from Kelly Sue DeConnick (writer of both the original Danvers-as-Captain Marvel solo series and the subsequent relaunch debuting in March), Ms. Marvel writer G. Willow Wilson and Christopher Sebela, who’s co-written several Captain Marvel issues with DeConnick. Tickets are $20, and will include “the opportunity to meet awesome featured guests, mingle with them and each other, socialize and enjoy the main exhibits in the Museum of Flight,” plus light snacks and beverages. (ECCC admission is not included.) All proceeds will be donated to the Girls Leadership Institute, an Oakland-based nonprofit.
The Carol Corps Celebration happens 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday, March 27; Emerald City Comicon takes place March 28-March 30 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.
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.
Kathmandu. It’s a name that conjures images of far-flung locales, ancient civilizations, and maybe even a Bob Seger song if you’re of a certain generation. But it’s a very real place, and a new comic arriving digitally today from Monkeybrain demonstrates it can be deadly.
High Crimes follows an American expat named Zan Jensen who makes a living as a guide for tourists wanting to climb the peaks of the Himalayas. That in itself might be fodder for a series, but writer Christopher Sebela and artist Ibrahim Moustafa have really turned the screws by bringing in a unique sidejob for Jensen: grave-robbing. Jensen, along with his mentor Haskell Price, have carved out a side business scavenging the personal effects off climbers who die on the mountains, and extort money from their grieving families to bring their bodies back for a proper burial. But that all goes sideways when one of the bodies they uncover harbors a secret.
Monkeybrain has released a number of well-regarded digital comics, including Edison Rex and Bandette, but High Crimes looks like a big departure in terms of style and subject matter — and also something that could be a big draw. The first chapter is available now for just 99 cents, with 15 story pages and several pages of backmatter. Squarely aimed at an adult audience, High Crimes is a unique thriller that deserves attention.
Here’s a preview of the first issue, provided by Monkeybrain: