Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
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[KRISTY] VALENTI: I think there is a wolf cycle going on right now in indy comics; there was that werewolf anthology they put out at CCS.
[TOM] NEELY: I haven’t seen it.
VALENTI: I don’t know if it was the whole vampire-werewolf-zombie cycle or —
NEELY: I have no idea. I have specifically avoided reading most comics while working on The Wolf. Except for a few exceptions from friends, but I didn’t want to be influenced by anything contemporary or any external ideas. But I was very conscious of Twilight and all that stuff happening around me. And my mom was always like, “Oh, I think your book is gonna do really well, because everybody’s into werewolves and scary stuff.” And I’m like, “Mom …” And she’s like, “You should market this to the Twilight…” And I was like, “I’m not marketing my semi-pornographic book to teenage girls.”
[Valenti laughs.] That will get me arrested [chuckles].
It’s just a coincidence. It wasn’t any specific attempt to tap into that market, I was just off doing my own werewolf thing in my cave. And apparently there’s other stuff going on too — I didn’t even realize Jason did a werewolf story until somebody told me that the other day. So I haven’t really kept up with anybody [chuckles]. That’s what’s nice about finishing it, is now I’m getting to read all these books that I’ve avoided for the last five years. And someone else brought up that there’s a lot more sex in indy comics right now too. And I was unaware of that as well. Maybe there’s just something in the collective unconscious that’s leading us down that path. But it wasn’t any conscious attempt at being a part of that. I’m largely unaware; I guess there is a lot of it.
—Cartoonist and painter Tom Neely on pop culture and alternative comics’ mutual season of the wolf, in conversation with The Comics Journal‘s Kristy Valenti. He’s right — altcomix really are having a bit of a sexy time right now, and horror has gone hand in hand with that, for whatever reason. It’s interesting to think that even some of the artists responsible for this don’t realize it until they emerge from the trees enough to get a good look at the forest.
Valenti’s life- and career-spanning interview with Neely is a must-read, and not just because of insights like these into Neely’s wordless psycho-sexual-surreal-semiautobiographical graphic novel The Wolf, one of the year’s best comics. It paints a compelling portrait of how a restless and idiosyncratic artist can maintain a balance between pursuing his vision and the need to work with others — peers, publishers, day-job providers — to do so. His revelations about his failure to come to terms with Top Shelf for publishing his breakout book The Blot, the pros and cons of working as an animator for Disney, and his interaction with the alternative-comics scenes in Los Angeles and Portland all make for reading that’s both depressing and instructive. Check it out.
Following up on the interview I posted today, we’re happy to bring you a preview of Torn, the graphic novel by Andrew Constant, Nicola Scott (Birds of Prey, Secret Six) and Joh James (I.C.E., RPM). The pages include the prologue drawn by Scott (who also drew the cover), followed by a sequence of pages drawn by James.
The book is published by Gestalt Comics, who can be found in San Diego at booth #4500-4501. Check out the preview after the jump …
After years of attending the San Diego Comic-Con as a fan and budding comic writer, Andrew Constant will spend the 2011 show on the other side of the table, selling his debut graphic novel, Torn. Constant teamed with artists Joh James and Nicola Scott to tell a werewolf tale with a bit of a twist, catching the eyes of Greg Rucka, who called it “a wonderfully subtle story from a decidedly deft hand” and Gail Simone, who said “it reads like it’s written on the side of a silver bullet.”
The book is published by Gestalt Comics, an Australian publisher exhibiting at the show this week in booth #4500-4501 (you can find their signing schedule here). Constant took the time to answer some of my questions about the book both before and after his transcontinental flight from Australia.
JK: Torn is your debut graphic novel, correct? How did the project come together?
Andrew: Torn is my debut graphic novel. It came about due to my love of the werewolf and my boredom at their current interpretations as seen across a variety of mediums. This is not to say I’m a genius writer (far from it, actually), I just thought that there was room for a different type of story, one which may challenge the reader, rather than play to preconceived notions of what a werewolf story should be.
Nicola has been a friend for ages, and she had some time many moons ago (moons, get it? sigh…), so drew the prologue for me. From there, I shopped the concept around. There were many expressions of interest, but it wasn’t until I came across Gestalt Comics that I found the best publishing home for the work.
JK: What is Torn about?
Andrew: The big picture concept is that it is the story of a wolf who is transformed into a man, in a brutal and tragic fashion. We then follow his difficult and violent journey as he tries to come to terms with his new identity in the alien landscape of a harsh and unforgiving city.
Today marks the third anniversary of our werewolf western series HIGH MOON. To celebrate, Steve Ellis and I thought we’d take the time to share with you our top list of werewolves that have influenced, entertained, and inspired us over the years.
Starting with this classic:
6. The Wolf Man
SE: You can’t go wrong with this classic tale of innocent Larry Talbot, a poor bastard of a man, who gets caught up in circumstances that are out of his control. I saw this when I was younger – so I’m not sure how much it would still hold up though.
DG: This is a simple yet effective atmospheric masterpiece of horror. Lon Chaney Jr. plays his role to perfection. This is the foundation that all great werewolf movies should be built upon.
Dirk Tiede’s Paradigm Shift lives up to its name: What starts as a buddy-cop story evolves, in the course of the first act, into a dark tale of werewolves and angst. What remains constant is the relationship between the main characters, Kate and Mike, who stay loyal to one another despite the many twists Tiede puts them through.
Tiede recently wrapped up the first act with volume 3 of the print edition, so it seemed like a good time to check in and ask some questions.
Brigid: What was your initial inspiration for Paradigm Shift?
Dirk: It wasn’t so much a single point of inspiration, but a rolling series of them ranging from superheroes, role-playing games, cop shows, ’80s action movies, horror novels, and eventually, anime and manga, too. The characters originally came from a tabletop superhero role-playing game I played at a time when I was reading X-Men and The New Mutants and watched way too much Law & Order. And while I was also a big fan of Stephen King’s earlier works like Carrie and Firestarter, I also ate up films like Robocop and Lethal Weapon. Later on I discovered works like Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira and Masamune Shirow’s Appleseed, which played a big role in rekindling my interest in drawing comics. I was really into The X-Files when I finally started writing Paradigm Shift, but I also took more than a few cues from movies like Running Scared (the one from the ’80’s with Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines) for the action/comedy elements.
By Dirk Tiede
Paradigm Shift starts out like any other buddy-cop story, with donuts, wisecracks, and corpses turning up in the bushes, but halfway through, it lives up to its name and crosses over into darker territory.
In the beginning, the detectives in question, Kate McAllister and Mike Stuart, are as smooth as they come. They have their differences—Kate’s a bit tougher, Mike’s a bit cooler—but their relationship runs on easy patter and unspoken coordination. Tiede is subtle, introducing Kate’s demons a little at a time—a sudden flash of dizziness, a wound that heals too quickly—but as the story goes on, we see her unravel more and more until it’s hard to say what is nightmare and what is real. Mike, on the other hand, starts out as an understated character, but his quietness conceals his strength. Again, there is a slow build; his offhand mentions of martial arts and Zen Buddhism foreshadow his full development as a character later in the story.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
This weekend marks the coming of the Harvest Moon, the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox.
In two years out of three, the Harvest Moon comes in September, but this year it occurs in October just before hunting season.
This ominous moon also signals the debut the long-awaited fourth season of the werewolf epic – HIGH MOON!
Written by myself, illustrated by Steve Ellis, and lettered by Scott O. Brown, this season brings Macgregor to the streets of London where he must unravel a hidden family curse before it claims its next victim.
After this weekend’s update, you see new pages every Monday by sundown.
While the actual recognition ceremony for the first recipient of “The Ringo”: The Mike Wieringo Scholarship Award was on Saturday night (prior to the HeroesCon Annual Art Auction), Matt Wieringo posted the full scoop on his personal blog on Tuesday. The recipient of the $1,100 award is Katelyn Rae Rochelle, a Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) student who hopes to pursue a career in comic books after graduation. To quote Matt from his announcement: “Remember that name. I think you’ll be hearing it a lot in a couple years.”
Rochelle attended HeroesCon on Saturday and spent some time with one of her instructors, Tom Lyle, at the SCAD booth. She also hung out with Matt and his wife Suzanne. When asked about her genre preference, Rochelle expressed an interest in working in horror–potentially something with werewolves. According to Matt: “We took her around to meet a few of Mike’s friends who offered her some free, friendly advice. Todd Dezago, being Todd Dezago, teased her at every opportunity.”
When reached for comment, Dezago denied Matt’s vicious allegations. In all seriousness, Dezago said of Rochelle: “She was a good sport and is a very talented young artist. I loved the work that she sent in as samples and think that, as Matt says, we’ll be seeing more of her in the future.”