With the passage of time, pundits/critics frequently reflect upon past era creators (be it Golden, Silver or Bronze Age), quite often finding a newfound appreciation for certain folks. Sometimes I wonder why we have to wait for a creator to be no longer active in order to garner increased respect. For example, artist/inker/writer Karl Kesel is a creator, who while he has definitely received critical praise over his long career (dating back to 1984), I think his body of work warrants even more attention and praise. I was thrilled when I found out that Kesel relaunched Section Zero (his Gorilla Comics 2000 project with artist Tom Grummett that ended after three issues) as a webcomic at Mad Genius Comics. The news got even better with the revelation that Kesel and Grummett intend to develop new Section Zero content. I am a longtime fan of Kesel’s work–particularly his mid-1990s run on Daredevil #353-364 and Fantastic Four #56 (the latter of which we also discuss). My thanks to Kesel’s Periscope Studio studiomate, Jeff Parker, for putting me in contact with Kesel.
Tim O’Shea: How and when did you finally decide to resurrect Section Zero–and as a webcomic?
Karl Kesel: I’ve wanted to do a web comic for some time. The tipping point was when my wife and I decided to adopt a baby (we’re still waiting to get one!) and I knew I wanted some sort of legacy to leave my kid. I put together Mad Genius Comics, and hired the talented David Hahn to pencil a Johnny Zombie story. As that was posting, I thought: what next? I had a ton of ideas, but the one I kept coming back to was Section Zero. Tom Grummett and I had started it in 2000 through Gorilla/Image comics, and due to my getting divorced, it had been put on indefinite hold. It was Unfinished Business, and I thought the time was right to finish it.
Wednesday marks the release of the second issue of writer Chris Roberson and artist Rich Ellis’ IDW miniseries Memorial, which centers on Em, a women recovering from amnesia only to have a magical shop with unique transportation abilities enter her life. The story also features a talking cat, an element that captured my interest (and as I learned, the cat talks like a comics associate of Roberson’s [your guess who it is as good as mine]). Last week I caught up with the Roberson and Ellis via email to explore their collaborative process. In addition to delving into the six-issue miniseries, I briefly learned about the advantage that Ellis finds in being part of Portland’s Periscope Studio. Once you’ve read the interview, avail yourself of IDW’s preview of Issue 1 and Roberson’s November interview with CBR’s Josie Campbell.
Tim O’Shea: In a recent CBR interview, Chris described this project as using “mythological tropes that are somewhat familiar but twisted.” Who had more fun twisting the tropes, Rich (from a visual perspective) or Chris (from a writing perspective)?
Chris Roberson: Rich may claim that he had more fun, but he’s clearly wrong, as I am having a BLAST.
Rich Ellis: If Chris is having more fun, then I am the person who benefits most from his enjoyment. The fun for me has been in the challenge of getting my head into the complex characters and wonderfully intricate world of Memorial.
The good folks at Portland’s Periscope Studios are holding a fundraiser for Sparkplug publisher Dylan Williams, who is dealing with a serious illness. Several of the artists who work out of Periscope, including Jonathan Case (who painted the showdown between Thor and Galactus you see above), Steve Lieber and Colleen Coover, have contributed artwork to an auction to benefit Williams.
You can find all the available pieces on Periscope’s eBay page.
Broadway | Michael Cohl and Jeremiah Harris, producers of the troubled Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, talk candidly about the $70-million musical — or “$65 plus plus,” as Cohl says — as it shuts down for more than three weeks for a sweeping overhaul. Will the production, plagued by delays, technical mishaps, injuries and negative reviews, hurt their reputation? “It might,” Cohl concedes. “It’s a matter of the respect of those whose opinions I care about. Most will recognize that Jere and I stepped in dog poo and are trying to clean it up and pull off a miracle. We might not.”
In related news, Christopher Tierney, the actor who was seriously injured on Dec. 20 after plummeting 30 feet during a performance, will rejoin rehearsals on Monday. [Bloomberg, The Hollywood Reporter]
The artists associated with Periscope Studios regularly post some pretty awesome artwork on their sketch blog, to the point where you kinda have to wonder how they could make it even more awesome. Which they have.
Last week Dylan Meconis, Colleen Coover, Dustin Weaver and several more of their artists created pieces that they’re auctioning off on eBay to benefit Peace Winds Japan, an organization providing emergency relief efforts in the earthquake and tsunami-ravaged country.
“I had pretty much told myself that I wouldn’t be participating in many more Periscope sketch challenges for a while because I need to be focused on work,” Weaver wrote on his LiveJournal. “But when the idea of doing a Japan week was suggested I was immediately on board. There are probably a lot of artists who feel this way, but for me this is a chance to give a little back to a country that has given me so much. Many of my greatest artistic inspirations are Japanese.” Weaver’s piece, above, should look familiar to fans of Akira.
You can find all the pieces up for auction on the studio’s eBay page.
Jeff Parker and Erika Moen had me at “dick and fart”. OK, not really. But recently when writer Parker and artist Moen (both members of Periscope Studio) launched the webcomic Bucko (the plot of which can be summed up in two sentences “A chance case of alcohol-fueled diarrhea at his job interview leaves him [Rich “Bucko” Richardson] desperately running for the bathroom where he discovers a brutally murdered body. Now it’s up to Bucko to solve this case!” [OK there's more than that, but I love short intros with long sentences...]), I immediately wanted to pester the two creators for an interview. They obliged. And Parker even dropped an f-bomb for free. Read the interview, enjoy the webcomic (which updates Tuesdays and Fridays), tell all your friends. That is all.
Tim O’Shea: How the heck did you two decide that the world needed to combine two genres like “dick and fart jokes” and “murder mystery”?
Jeff Parker: That genre heading was created by Erika. It’s not technically accurate, but it gets you in the realm of what BUCKO is. And well, someone may fart at some point I guess.
Erika Moen: Yeah, like Parker says, it’s not a literal description of what happens in the comic (well, aside from the “murder” part), but it more captures the feel of the work. I figured it was more effective than something like “a QUIRKY murder mystery!” or “a RIDICULOUS HIPSTER murder mystery” Although, really, “dick’n'fart joke” may not be that inaccurate, as we do have the promise of threesomes (“dick”), there is the case of diarrhea (“fart”) and the protagonists certainly think they’re solving a “mystery” So, y’know what? I take it back, my tag line is totally accurate.
If you’ve been jonesin’ for Don, Betty and the rest of the Mad Men gang during the long months between seasons– especially after seeing January Jones in the X-Men: First Class trailer — Periscope Studios has your virtual hook up. Last week was Mad Men week on their Tumblr blog, and they shared all sorts of inspired art — including the above piece by Jonathan Case, a faux ad for the infamous Red Rider BB Gun.
Click on over there for more art by Dustin Weaver, Jesse Hamm, Steve Lieber and more.
Oregon Public Broadcasting pays a visit to Portland’s Periscope Studio, home to more than 20 comics creators, including Jeff Parker, Steve Lieber, Colleen Coover, Paul Tobin and Dylan Meconis. The seven-minute segment focuses largely on Erika Moen and Ron Randall, but it also provides a glimpse of other studio members and their work environment.