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.
ROBOT 6′s Corey Blake wrote a great piece last month on the evolution of digital comics and the innovations that make them more than just electronic copies of print comics. Without repeating what he said, those innovations raise a couple of questions that are also worth talking about: What are we going to call this new format and does it even need a separate name?
Gabriel Hardman (Star Wars: Legacy, Kinski) recently asked on Twitter, “Is there an accepted name for the Thrillbent/Infinite style of digital comics?” Even filtering out all the joke responses (my favorite is Dennis Culver’s ”Labor Intensive”), the answer seems to be no.
A couple of folks note that Scott McCloud’s Infinite Canvas (or, alternatively, Expanded Canvas) is a common term, but Hardman observes that it could be seen as pretentious, which might keep it from catching on. I like the idea of letting McCloud name it — he more or less came up with the idea — but it does remind me of how it sounded when comics fans all started referring to the medium as “sequential art.” It’s a great term for talking about comics academically, but not so good for popular use.
Several weeks ago when I interviewed Edison Rex co-creator Chris Roberson, we had hoped to include co-creator Dennis Culver in the discussion. Schedules didn’t work out at the time, but happily, on the eve of the deadline to pre-order the Edison Rex trade paperback (Diamond Code APR130377), Culver’s schedule freed up for an interview about his co-creation.
As if collecting the Edison Rex issues 1-6 isn’t enough to interest you in this IDW Publishing release, Roberson and Culver have scored an introduction by the great Kurt Busiek. The collection will hit shelves June 12.
Tim O’Shea: How did the IDW publishing deal come together?
Dennis Culver: That was all [Monkeybrain Comics co-publishers] Chris [Roberson] and Allison [Baker]. From what I understand, IDW had expressed an interest in print collections fairly early in the Monkeybrain launch, and I was on board as soon as I heard. They gave us a fair deal and they put out great looking books. I’m very happy to publish Rex through them!
Last week was a banner one for Monkeybrain Comics, as plans were revealed to “bring its digital titles to print beginning in June in collected editions released through IDW Publishing and Shadowline/Image.” But before this deal was announced I caught up with Chris Roberson, the writer of Edison Rex and co-publisher of Monkeybrain.
This interview was conducted before the IDW and Shadowline/Image agreements were announced, which is why they’re not discussed. Edison Rex #6 will be released March 13. Roberson is great to chat with about the creative process, as he relishes revealing how the narrative hot dogs are made almost as much as creating the stories themselves. The world that Roberson and co-creator/artist Dennis Culver had built for the series fascinates me, and it was a pleasure to chat with the writer about it.
Tim O’Shea: As much as this series is about a villain becoming a hero, there’s a great undercurrent of humor. Is that the core appeal of the series from a creative standpoint?
Chris Roberson: I always like a little levity in the stories I read or the shows I watch. When stories maintain a consistently grim tone, it can be a little wearying. Adding in a joke here and there not only serves to lighten the mood from time to time, but also makes the more serious moments stand out by contrast.
Monkeybrain Comics will bring its digital titles to print beginning in June in collected editions released through IDW Publishing and Shadowline/Image. Launched in July 2012 by Monkeybrain founders Chris Roberson and Allison Barker, the digital imprint has so far distributed its creator-owned comics exclusively through comiXology.
The print editions will kick off with the IDW collection of Edison Rex, Roberson and Dennis Culver’s story about the world’s greatest villain who must figure out what to do with his life after he defeats his arch-nemesis. That will be followed in July by the Shadowline/Image collection of Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson’s superhero-noir anthology Masks & Mobsters. The initial wave of collections will conclude in August with the IDW release of Amelia Cole and the Unknown World, the fantasy from Adam P. Knave, D.J. Kirkbride and Nick Brokeshire. More collections announcements are promised in coming months.
“Print collections have been a main goal from the beginning and it’s really exciting to see such a major piece of the plan fall into place,” Baker said in a statement, “especially since it means even more people get to discover the amazing work of our creators!”
Dennis Culver, who’s long been a Robot 6 favorite for illustrations like Community‘s Dean Pelton in all 34 of his outfits from the first three seasons of the NBC comedy, has now made his widely praised gallery of the 52 most memorable characters from HBO’s The Wire — inarguably one of the best shows in television history — available for purchase as a poster.
Appropriately titled “All in the Game,” the 24-inch by 36-inch poster costs just $25. Maybe if we’re lucky, and act quickly, Omar & Co. will be comin’ in the mail in time for Christmas. You can check out details of the poster below, and visit Culver’s website to see a super-sized version of the entire image.
Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at the comics, books and other things we’ve been perusing of late. Our guest today is Tyler James (@tylerjamescomic), the publisher of ComixTribe, which is both an online resources for comic creators and a new creator-owned imprint. Tyler is also the writer of the superhero murder mystery The Red Ten, which goes on sale Dec. 19, and the organizer of the annual 30 Characters Challenge, in which writers and artists attempt to create 30 characters in just 30 days, one for every day in November (it’s under way now at 30characters.com).
Here’s what Tyler and the Robot 6 crew are reading this week:
If you only checked Twitter today for your news, you know that, among other fun facts, Anderson Cooper is gay, Big Sean gave Justin Bieber a pinkie ring and Chris Roberson announced the new digital comics initiative Monkeybrain Comics is coming July 4.
Make that was coming, actually–due to the attention they received today, Monkeybrain and comiXology decided to launch the line early.
“With “#Monkeybrain” trending worldwide on Twitter most of the day, Monkeybrain Comics and comiXology have taken the unprecedented step of releasing the entire launch line of Monkeybrain Comics two days early. Available now at this link, fans worldwide can stop tweeting about “#Monkeybrain” and start experiencing this great new line of comics. (But seriously, don’t stop tweeting about it either! – Chris and Allison.),” read the press release from comiXology.
Available now from comiXology are:
- Aesop’s Ark by J. Torres and Jennifer L. Meyer
- Amelia Cole and the Unknown World by Adam P. Knave, DJ Kirkbride and Nick Brokenshire
- Bandette by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover
- Edison Rex by Chris Roberson and Dennis Culver
- October Girl by Matthew Dow Smith
I’m downloading Bandette as I type this, soon to be followed by the rest. The comics are 13-16 pages each for 99 cents except for Amelia Cole and the Unknown World, which is $1.99 for 31 pages. I mean, seriously; 99 cents for a Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover comic? I’m all over that. You can check out artwork from each of them over on CBR.
For the fan of NBC’s Community who has almost everything — seasons five and six and a movie are on backorder — cartoonist Dennis Culver has unveiled a poster depicting Dean Craig Pelton in all 34 of his outfits from the comedy’s three seasons to date. In chronological order, no less.
The piece will be part of PixelDrip Gallery’s “Six Seasons and a Movie” art show, to be held June 23-24 at Monk Space in Los Angeles, but you can preorder a 36-inch by 24-inch print for $40 through Culver’s online store. Posters will ship the week of June 18. See the full image below.
I’ve got to give artist Dennis Culver a hand. Last time we checked in with him, he was painstakingly drawing Batman’s rogues gallery — some 38 impeccable portraits of villainy in all. This time around he’s taking Grant Morrison’s Batman, Inc. ball and running with it, tackling 45 members of Batman’s crime-fighting franchise. But wait! you say. Does Batman, Inc. even have 45 members! Ah, that’s where the fun begins, Bat-fans. Not only does Culver draw the existing B-Inc. characters, as well as affiliated groups like the Birds of Prey, the Outsiders, and the Club of Heroes — he also puts new Bat-spins on existing characters from across the DC Universe. Those are Batmanified versions of Steel, Aztek, Wally West, Big Barda, and Zauriel above, just for example; I also kinda dig the idea of Cassandra Cain as a new Nightwing, which I take it has some major fan backing. Anyway, go check out the whole line-up. (And don’t miss his drawing of the cast of The Wire, too!)
No, it’s not CBS’s latest comedy sensation — it’s the culmination of artist Dennis Culver’s deeply awesome “draw one Batman villain per day” project on flickr. Last time we checked in he was a little over halfway through; today he posted the final line-up, and the Bat-nerd inside me did a little Batdance in Bat-celebration. Of particular interest is Culver’s bro-tastic take on the Joker. (Bros killing bros?) Given the depth of Batman’s rogues-gallery bench, Culver easily could have kept this up for another month — and honestly, I kinda hope he will. (Maxie Zeus! Amygdala! Anarky! Doctor Hurt! The Mutant Leader! Heck, Superman!) Till then, click, browse, enjoy.
Bat-villains ahoy! Artist Dennis Culver has been posting a sketch a day to his Flickr stream, and lately his subject has been Batman bad guys, and lots of ‘em. To date, he’s drawn (deep breath) Hush, Killer Croc, the Ventriloquist and Scarface, the Terrible Trio, Doctor Phosphorous, Mister Freeze, Poison Ivy, Lady Shiva, the Scarecrow, Egghead, Harley Quinn, Black Mask, Bane, Calendar Girl, Professor Hugo Strange, the Mad Monk, the Penguin, Jeremiah Arkham, Firefly, Solomon Grundy, and Clayface (phew) for the series, and given many of them sartorially stylish makeovers to boot. (Dig that Terrible Trio up top!) Plus, if you dig deeper into his archives, you can check out his takes on even more — Catwoman, Man-Bat, the Riddler, the Gentleman Ghost, the Mutant Leader, different versions of Grundy and the Penguin, (of course) the Joker, and even Billy Dee Williams as Two-Face. (Haha, remember that bit of casting from the first Tim Burton Batmovie?) There are even some Bat-allies, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Obviously, there are plenty more second-stringers and big guns alike left for Culver to tackle in his new series. And given the gorgeousness of his efforts so far, I’ll be tuning in to see ‘em — same Bat-stream, same Bat-Flickr!
(Via Andy Khouri)