- The Electric Playground gives us a quick interview with Chumble Spuzz creator Ethan Nicolle. It's the first story after the intro:
- Michael May reviews Captain Blood #1 by Matthew Shepherd and Michael Shoyket at Robot 6*. He's not a fan of the in medias res approach the adaption takes, but still writes, "Having read the first issue now, I’m anxious for the second and that’s a great indicator of a successful series." He also warns that our trailer spoils the ending of the first issue, but I'm not sure that revealing that a character named Peter Blood in a series called Captain Blood becomes a sea captain is much of a spoiler. Oh, crap, I did it, too. Well, now you have no reason not to watch the trailer:
*Disclaimer: I do freelance work for Robot 6.
The main character in Stitch looks like you. How is Stitch a personal story for you? What is the significance of him not knowing his name?
I try not to analyze what I'm doing while I'm doing it, but it seems like the whole quest for identity is obviously my own journey in defining myself as a creator. Whether I intend to or not, I always wear my heart on my sleeve. I wish I knew how not to do that! But there it is. At the time I was securing the deal with SLG, I was also in the process of letting all my friends and family know I'm gay, and trying to figure out how that related to my creative work. I even seriously debated using a pseudonym, but ultimately decided to just be myself. It seemed natural that Stitch would of course be gay, but I didn't want that to be the central point of the story. I wanted to tell a creepy little tale about magic and loneliness, and have the sexual orientation be incidental.
What kind of reflections do you have on this work after nearly ten years since the first issue was published? You added an epilogue -- why did you feel the story needed additional closure?
And how do I feel about this story I did ten years ago...? I'm highly critical of the first ten pages of it, but overall I still feel good about it. You can totally see what a beginner I was to the comic book format and how I develop during the course of the four issues. I can even tell when I experimented with one type of pen, ditched it, and started using another, until I found one I was comfortable with. Looking at Stitch is almost like finding an old junior high diary. Sometimes embarrassing, sometimes, re-affirming.
They've most recently interviewed Derf about his new graphic novel Punk Rock and Trailer Parks and about his career and creative process. Here he is on how he draws a graphic novel:
For comic books, it’s a totally different process. I write out the narrative in a small, very rough thumbnail. Mostly I see it in my head, so I don’t require a lot of sketch phases, like some creators do. After thumbnails, I go directly to pencils and these are pretty tight. I pencil straight through, page after page, all the way to the end. Then I’ll go back and make alterations and corrections, additions or subtractions, and make sure everything is consistent, faces, clothes, that sort of thing. Then I start inking. I use the old pro trick of hopping around all over the book, inking page 5 then page 57 then page 123, so the inking is consistent throughout and doesn’t change from front to back.
I like the "old pro trick" for the inking! There's much more at the link -- the interview is long and there is a lot of interesting and useful stuff there.
Part one is here and part two is here.
Jamie has just finished up issue four of Ubu Bubu and you can expect it in stores in March 2009!
Johanna Draper Carlson recommends it at Comics Worth Reading and reviews it with some nice analysis of the characters:
Rachelle Gougan at Living Between Wednesdays has a review: "...this is one of the best books I've seen for teen girls in awhile, at least as good as Hope Larson's Chiggers, or Mike Carey's Re-Gifters. If all is right in the world, then this book should secure Hicks' spot among the top indie comic creators." There's also an interview with Faith in which the Ellsmere creator talks about the development process:
The art in this book, while not at all photorealistic interprets what life often really looks like. It's got pimples and hairy legs, and most people aren't shaped perfectly. Most of real life is stained and maybe a little bit greasy. So when I'm reading a story about what real life can feel like, I learned to appreciate an art style that doesn't dress things up more than they need to be. The art tells the story, and does it perfectly, and you can't ask more of a comic book artist.The review at Northern Express makes note of Derf's style as well: "As a stylist, few graphic artists match his ability to capture the 'no future' slouch and despair of the underclass."
Finally, (for this post, anyway) there is an interview with Derf at Comics Waiting Room, in which he asks rhetorically, "Did I even have a life before punk?" He adds, "Music speaks to you at age 20 more than any other point in your life. I don't know why that is, but it's just a fact of life."
That's something I always found fascinating -- my father-in-law says pretty much the same thing, though he puts the time frame at your senior year of high school. You might find new music that you love, but what you listened to then will always have a certain constant relevance to you. Derf includes a play list of his essentials in Punk Rock and Trailer Parks.
What would be on your play list? I'd have to go with the entirety of The Smiths' Louder Than Bombs. I was seven when it was released, but I listened to it incessantly throughout my senior year of high school
It's a very interesting interview, with Derf touching on the socio-economic background behind the story and setting of Punk Rock and Trailer Parks, which is set in Akron, Ohio in the early 1980s, and "the egomanical geek," and the music that goes with the book.
"It's the end, the end of seventies, it's the end, the end of the century," indeed!
There's a review of Punk Rock and Trailer Parks at Rack Raids by Graig Kent. He writes of Derf's protagonist Otto, "Too often in underground comics, the writer/artist hates their character (or themselves) and puts them through shame after shame in attempts to break them. With Otto, Derf doesn’t. He admires his character and has him triumph even when he fails, which seems to be another punk philosophy (where getting arrested is a good thing)."
And of the book? "It’s funny, smart, and insightful, and presents something different but not so different as to be off-putting (except that there is punk rock, sex, nudity and language, which obviously may not agree with all audiences)."
As part of his work at Hallmark, Callen occasionally ghosts the work of other cartoonists; sometimes the original creator has simply never drawn the pose or costume needed for a card. ... He has also formed close relationships with current and former Hallmark staff artists who moonlight in the comic book business including Chris Grine of Dark Horse’s Chickenhare and Anna-Maria Cool of Claypool’s Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.It's always important to me to show that artists, more often than not, have and need day jobs, and that those day jobs aren't necessarily the kind that they get all angsty about in autobiographical comics.
I also like interviews that asks artists about their creative process. Kerry describes how he writes Halo and Sprocket, a method I am familiar with and has led to many a missed exit: "The writing part is easy because I have a 45 minute commute to work, so I have all that time to think about stories. They usually get pretty refined during the drive."
I like when some good "get off your duff" advice pops up in interviews. Here, Faith is talking about the art available to view at her website:
Although be prepared for some genuinely bad art here and there. I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. But at least I DID it. I hear a lot from people about how they’re intimidated by starting a comic project, and how they don’t think they’ll have the skills … y’know, you waste a lot of time doing that. Just start the bloody thing, and you’ll learn as you go.The War at Ellsmere is available for pre-order now, both at comic book stores and the SLG website.