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Exclusive Interview: Artist Mark Wheatley

mark wheatley self-portraitQ: When did you get interested in comics, and what’s the first comic book series you remember really liking?

I was very young. Maybe 5 or 6 years old. The kids in our little neighborhood would trade stuff – toys and comics. I traded something I had for several coverless comics. In fact, these comics also were missing the first sheet or two, so the first 2 or 4 pages of story and the final 2 or 4 were also missing. I enjoyed reading them – I had to imagine the beginnings and endings of the stories because those parts were missing. And every time I read those stories, I would imagine different beginnings and endings. It was good exercise for the imagination.

It took me many years to figure out that I was reading a couple issues of Walt Disney’s Comics & Stories.

A year or two later I traded for two issues of Spider-Man. These comics really caught my imagination. I loved the quirky art by that Steve Ditko guy. And since the stories were continued, I kept reading them in different order in an attempt to get the story to connect and make sense. Again, my imagination was put to good use connecting the plot points! It was a few years later that some kid explained to me that the numbers on the covers were all about what order to read them. I then learned that I was reading two issues that were quite a few numbers apart. So they really did not connect. But that never stopped me making up my own stories to fill in the blanks. I guess I’m still doing that!

Q: First published work?

My first commercial published work was some poster designs that my school system commissioned me to do while I was still in high school. But I had been publishing my own fanzine about comics and science fiction for a few years at that point. The zine was called NUCLEUS and that’s where I first connected with John Workman, Bob Smith, Howard Chaykin, Marc Hempel and a few other guys who also went on to make professional comics.

doctor who, the 9th doctor adventures, art by Mark WheatleyQ: What other artists influenced and continue to influence you and your style?

I’m influenced by anything that is good and even a good deal that is bad! My personal favorite artists are many. In comics, the list includes Steve Ditko, Roy Crane, Winsor McKay, Will Eisner, and really – the list just goes on and on. I think my visual style is informed a bit by N. C. Wyeth, Nick Cardy, Alex Toth and Alex Nino. But I collect old magazines and books for the classic illustrators who worked from the late 1890s through about 1965. And all of this material exerts an influence on my approach to any of my projects. I know that I aim for a different look on each new project that gets a bit closer to the heart of the subject and mood. I don’t know if that comes through in the final work – it might all look the same to my readers.

I will also say that there are a growing number of amazing artists working today who impress me with their drawing and imagination. I stand willing to learn from anyone!

Q: Do you use computers, tablets and software, or are you old-school with pens and a scanner?

Yes.

I use all of that, and more. But my typical work flow is to draw on the computer in Photoshop, using my Cintiq. At times, I’ll print out that drawing and then pencil and/or ink a version or portions of the image that can then be scanned and brought back into the computer for digital painting. And I even will paint some real media strokes and details that will get scanned and combined with the digital painting. I’ll do whatever I think will give me the look and result I’m aiming for – all within the limits of my deadlines. The hard truth is that there are times when I would like to do the real media elements and instead I have to pull out all the digital chops and get the work done in an hour or two, because digital is faster and allows for easier changes. And since I’ve been doing a great deal of work for TV in the past decade, and TV people ask for many, many, many, many changes, digital is a life and deadline saver!

Q: What are you reading nowadays?

I live in a house full of books. I have read about two thirds of them. And I read constantly. But I never get past the two thirds mark because I keep getting more books to read!

Right now I am reading a history of magazine publishing, THE MAGAZINE IN AMERICA 1741-1990. I am also reading THE ANNOTATED MARX BROTHERS: A FILMGOER’S GUIDE TO IN-JOKES, OBSCURE REFERENCES AND SLY DETAILS by Matthew Coniam, and HAROLD VON SCHMIDT by Walt Reed, I usually am reading a novel, but the long hours I’ve had to work these past few months on a new TV pilot for ABC has interrupted that. Next I’m looking forward to reading THE DRAWING OF THE DARK by Tim Powers. As for comics, I’ve been reading the John Severin edited issues of TWO FISTED TALES.  I also am reading all sorts of magazine articles from the old magazine issues I collect. I enjoy reading about the then current events. It gives an illuminating view of history to read about it while it was happening. Very instructional for seeing how modern events are portrayed in our media and how they might be remembered years from now. Also, it tends to make it very obvious how much of our society is playing out a loop of recurring events for the past 150 years or so.

Q: Favorite comic book -> movie adaptation and TV show?

I was very happy with the first Sam Rami SPIDER-MAN movie. I also thought the first IRON MAN movie was exceptional. I don’t know about TV. Although the 1960s BATMAN TV show is what started me drawing my own comic books. I got all charged up by the BATMAN craze and drew stories that featured a duck version of BATMAN. Probably the best adaptation of anything to TV that I’ve ever seen is THE EXPANSE on SyFy. But that’s from the science fiction novels by James S. A. Corey.

Q: Share some of your work: A first pencil sketch to a finished panel. Do you do all your own inking, coloring, and lettering?

mark wheatley doctor who cover creation

Progression of cover for issue #8 of the 12th Doctor Adventures, Year Two, by Mark Wheatley.

Above is the sequence for The 12th Doctor Adventures, Year Two, Issue #8, left to right, starting with my graphite sketch of Peter Capaldi. It was very simple, but I was mainly going for the likeness that would work with just half the face. Then I scanned the sketch and painted it in Photoshop. Finally, the finished cover from Titan.

FLUFFYPUSS: DOOMSDAY CAT, a new Sunday Comics series by Mark Wheatley.

FLUFFYPUSS: DOOMSDAY CAT, a new Sunday
Comics series by Mark Wheatley.

Q: What’s next for your career?

Right now I am working on a lavishly illustrated YA novel with steampunk master G. D. Falksen. We are two years into the work and should be announcing it in the next few months. I’m also working on the new edition of BREATHTAKER that I did with Marc Hempel. We have fully remastered it and are working on an additional new story together. There will be some major public events tied into the new edition, including a major touring show of the original art to a number of museums. And I just completed work on the SQUARE ROOTS pilot for ABC TV. We will know in May if it will go to series. I’m also continuing to paint covers for DOCTOR WHO at Titan, STARGATE ATLANTIS at American Mythology and THE THREE STOOGES at American Mythology.

Did I mention FLUFFYPUSS: DOOMSDAY CAT? It’s a Sunday Comic I’m launching from Golden Bell Studios and I do it all, from story to art.

And there are even a few more things I’m not yet allowed to announce!

Q: What’s one title you think is a good example of your art / writing here at TFAW?

My current comics work is mostly covers, that I already mentioned.  I think my story, “NIGHTMARE” that I did for the Dark Horse JUNGLE TALES OF TARZAN this past year was nice. But my favorite works are EZ STREET from ComicMix/IDW and BREATHTAKER soon to be out from Titan.

Q: Where were you born, what did you study in college, what are the names of your pets, if you have any, and where do you live now?

I hail from Virginia, where I attended Virginia Commonwealth University. The school trained me to be an art director. And I worked as an AD for three years before I got into comics. I have two beautiful, young kitty cats – Amber & Autumn and they and my lovely wife, Carol live with me here in the wilderness of rural Maryland in our house full of old books.

Q: Do you have any personal appearances coming up?

I do! I hope to see a lot of my fans this summer. I’m preparing for a busy convention season that starts at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, followed by 3 Rivers Comicon, then Awesome Con and the San Diego Comic-Con International and then the Baltimore Comic-Con – oh and FCBD at Redd Skull Comics in Calgary, too!

You can keep track of me and see my latest works at MarkWheatleyGallery.com and on Facebook at @WheatleyMarks.

Are you a creative professional in the comic book or graphic novel industry? We’d like to interview you! Please send an email inquiry to Dave Taylor at TFAW as the first step.


Exclusive Interview: Artist Matt Haley

artist matt haleyQ: When did you get interested in comics, and what’s the first comic book series you remember really liking?

A: Neal Adams’ Batman reprints ruled my little world, loved when he had a thirty-foot long cape and a tiny Bat-sports-coupe. There’s something that hits me viscerally to read them even today.

Q: First published work?

A: “Star Trek: The Next Generation Annual #2”, reprinted in “The Best Of Star Trek:TNG” TPB from DC Comics. Bob Greeneberger got my samples in the mail when I was in college in New Mexico and hired me. I’ve apologized for the ulcer I gave him!

Q: What other artists influenced and continue to influence you and your style?

How much room have we got? Early on in comics, it was Gil Kane and James Sherman. Also Neal Adams and Michael Kaluta. Was a devourer of art books and museums as a kid, lots of representational artists in there. These days, it’s all over the map. Was recently introduced to Kehinde Wylie who is blowing my mind. Lots of inspirational artists I follow on Instagram.

Q: Do you use computers, tablets and software, or are you old-school with pens and a scanner?

Both – for commercial projects like “Gotham Stories” it’s digital, since the art had to be prepped for animation. For covers like Ninjak #13, it’s a combination of old-school art and digital coloring. Lately I pencil in Procreate on an iPad Pro!

Matt Haley panel sketch

Q: What are you reading nowadays?

Right now, “Paper Girls” from Image. Also have enjoyed “Faith” from Valiant, and thankfully NEXUS by Mike Baron and Steve “Dude” Rude is back. Also “The Four Norsemen Of The Apocalypse” from Devil’s Due/First with art by John Lucas, terrifyingly good stuff. it’s a great time to be a comics fan!

Q: Favorite comic book -> movie adaptation and TV show?

It changes – still love the pilot for “The Incredible Hulk”. Bill Bixby’s acting made it such a great updating of the “Jekyll & a Hyde” story. Watch it on Netflix, it’s still scary good.

tangent comics #2Q: What’s next for your career?

Lots more writing and developing my own stories. Have directed a television pilot and am eagerly looking forward to more of that. Have two scripts out and writing has really grabbed me lately!

Q: What’s one title you think is a good example of your art / writing here at TFAW?

The Tangent Comics TPB Volume #2 from DC Comics. Loved and adored creating Tangent: Joker with Karl Kesel and Tom Simmons, would love to revisit her some day. Lots of leaping figures and weird high-tech environments!

Q: Where were you born, what did you study in college, what are the names of your pets, if you have any, and where do you live now?

From Texas, grew up in New Mexico. College was a way for me to escape and while I didn’t study hard, ENMU was a growth experience. My professor emeritus was Jack Williamson, grandmaster of science fiction!

You can learn more about Matt Haley at MattHaley.com or on Instagram as @MattHaleyArt for random art giveaways and new sketches. And check out his art for Fox’s Gotham Stories too!


Exclusive Interview with writer Scott Davis

scott davisQ: When did you get interested in comics, and what’s the first comic book series you remember really liking?

As a child of the 70s, I loved the Justice League–especially stories that focused on anyone but Superman or Batman. I especially liked the space-opera ones featuring the Green Lantern Corps. When I was a kid, all of my allowance went to two things…baseball cards and comic books. I suppose the one comic that really stands out in my memory is the over-sized Marvel/DC crossover featuring Superman and Spiderman. There was also that great super-sized Flash versus Superman race too.

Q: First published work?

I suppose you mean beside my 3rd grade Magnum Opus “Tony the Taxi” which was published in a collection of other kids’ master works and distributed to parents on ditto paper. I worked in newspapers during the mid-late 80s, so there were many long boring articles on Westlake Village, CA zoning board meetings. Also during that time, I had my first short story published in a now-defunct regional magazine. However, in keeping with what I believe you wish to know, my first graphic novel was Orion the Hunter; my take of a demi-god living in modern times yet still haunted by his past. That was 2005.

Q: What other artists influenced and continue to influence you and your style?

As a writer, I am indebted to Rod Serling, Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont. I would like to think Kurt Vonnegut, James Morrow, George Orwell, and Frank Herbert also have been a major influence.

here to there vincent price example storyboard for artists

Q: Do you use computers, tablets and software, or are you old-school with pens and a scanner?

As someone who has trouble drawing stick figures, I will come at this question a bit differently. And rather than “where do you get inspiration for your ideas…” I will tell you a bit about my process. Whereas I do write quite a bit of original fiction, the folks at Bluewater Productions (now Storm Entertainment) thought I was effective at playing in other people’s sandboxes. Hence I have worked with Ray Harryhausen, William Shatner, Bill Nolan, George Clayton Johnson and a few others and created (what I hope was) a new approach to their seminal works. It is nothing like writing fan fiction.

For example, [William] Shatner wanted to do a series based on his Tek War books. I found his original work to be somewhat dated (they were written in the 80s). So I pitched him a redefinition of the Tek War universe. I thought he would get defensive, but I found him to be a great listener and mostly receptive to my ideas. While keeping the bones of the original novel in tact, he gave me free reign to recreate a much grittier universe and put my own stamp on the project. I provided him a general outline of the story arc and had Erich Owen give him character and design sketches. Once he signed off on that, I would write the script complete with character action; it’s like a movie script.

In fact, that is the essence of my process. I imagine the whole thing like a movie and freeze the most relevant parts of each scene.Then I apply dialog, expository captions and sound effects. Erich was a big help here and would offer guidance to maximize the visual impact of each panel. It was here I learned the rule of 8—never script more than 8 panels on a page. To that I also apply the rule of 125—no more than 125 words on a page (so they better be the best ones!) so that the artwork isn’t overly covered by lines of text.. On top of that Bluewater (Productions) always demanded at least 3 full page panels (and if possible,1 double page spread). Once an issue (or chapter) was completed in script form, Shatner would then give me his notes. “I don’t think Jake would hit his superior officer” and the like. I would incorporate his notes and re-write a scene or two. And so on… In the end, I hope I create something unique, fresh, thought-provoking and entertaining. Sometimes I succeed; other times…well 😉.

tekwar storyboard example, scott davis

Q: What are you reading nowadays?

Non-fiction. I am a history junkie, so right now I am reading a book called “Modern Politics” by Lynn Hudson Parsons. It’s about the nasty presidential election of 1828 between Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams. There are certainly a great deal of parallels to what is happening in this election cycle. On the fiction side, I recently finished “The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack” by Mark Hodder.

war of the elementals, cover artQ: Favorite comic book -> movie adaptation and TV show?

This is a golden age for comic book adaptations. Of the ones I do watch, there are elements I like of each. I love Gotham’s reverence for its history. I love the grittiness of Daredevil and Jessica Jones. I enjoy the lightness of Flash–to me, it is the one that truly feels like watching a comic book. However, if I were to select only one as my favorite, it would have to be The Tick with Patrick Warburton from 2001….second place goes to The Walking Dead.

Q: Share some of your work: A first pencil sketch to a finished panel. Do you do all your own inking, coloring, and lettering?

I have worked with a variety of very talented artists, letters, and colorists. Some of the more memorable experiences include working with Juan Carlos Baez (Walter Koenig’s Things to Come) Erich Owen (Tek War Chronicles), Rey Armenteros (Vincent Price Presents) and Nadir Balan (Wrath of the Titans). These were all great partnerships. Each of them were unique in the way they interpreted my words. Most of the time, the artist and I are thousands of miles apart so finding effective ways to communicate is important. I often use a short-hand method in my scripts to specifically convey what is in my head. I will embed pictures of a person, place or item that I want specifically rendered on a panel. For example, I want a futurized version of Union Station in Los Angeles. To someone who doesn’t live in L.A., I have to be very specific with my scripts; so I will take a picture (usually from the web) and place it in the script for the artist to interpret. I do want each artist to feel as much ownership of any project as I do. So I encourage them to also read between the lines and add their own spin to best interpret the script. Most times it works out great and elevates a book to another level.

What’s next for your career?

Next up–Logan’s Run: Black Flower. It’s a sanctioned sequel to the book version of William Nolan and George Clayton Johnson’s original novel—quite different than the 1976 movie with Michael York and Jenny Agutter. I also am waiting on some administrative dealings for a new series that I think features my best work to date. It’s called a Touch of Strange. It’s an inter-connected anthology series that incorporates the work of George Clayton Johnson. George (most known for his work on the original Twilight Zone series) recently passed away. I think the project it is a fitting legacy to his memory.

Q: What’s one title you think is a good example of your writing here at TFAW?

William Shatner Presents Tek War #1 (TFAW Exclusive Variant Cover Edition – Signed)

logan's run black flower inks sketch design layout, scott davisQ: Where were you born, what did you study in college, what are the names of your pets, if you have any, and where do you live now?

I was born and raised in East Meadow, Long Island, NY in the far ago year of 1964. I spent 15 years in Los Angeles and another 20 in San Diego; last year I moved to Hillsboro, Oregon (about 20 miles west of Portland). I have a degree in journalism and have been a marketing consultant in the cyber security space for many years. Marketing is my day job and comic book writer is something I do on the side. I have been married for 27 years to the love of my life and best friend Martha–who has given me two incredible kids; my daughter Emma is an English and History teacher and my son is just finishing up college. Two pets… white terrier Bixby and mini-pini Annie. And, every Tuesday evening you can find me at the Bethany Pub spouting useless knowledge and defending my trivia crown as part of the team RoseMarie’s Jacket!

Q: Much of your bibliography is based on existing brands. Is it easier or more difficult to write within the parameters of an existing universe?

It’s true that I often find myself playing in someone else’s sandbox. When I take on a project, I want to make sure that I can control the narrative; that the story is wholly original and treads some new ground. For example, in the upcoming Logan’s Run sequel, I get to dig a bit deeper into the character flaws of Logan 6. He is not the two-dimensonal shiny hero we see in the movie. I tried to explore how a man conditioned to violence for all his life settles into a placid existence on Sanctuary (if you read the books, you know that Sanctuary is not an idyllic meadow situated outside of Washington DC, but…well, I won’t spoil that). The existing characters and settings are a general backdrop on which to begin, but then, like any other story, it sprouts its own wings and goes to some unexpected places.

When I worked on Wrath of the Titans and 20 Million Miles More with Ray Harryhausen, I got to widen the scope of the established mythologies–so it isn’t simply the further adventures of Perseus or Dorian Gray or Alan Quatermain. So I guess the only difference between these stories and my completely original stories is that I begin with a few unbreakable rules…Logan was a rebel Sandman, Jake Cardigan is a detective involved with a digital drug called Tek, Dorian Grey is a cursed immortal, and so on. Consider how many writers have written for Superman or Thor over the past decades. It is not much different than that. I simply hope I am adding something of value to the mythology–or at least creating enjoyable entertainment.

Q: Of all the project you worked on, do you have a favorite title?

They are all my children, so how do you pick a favorite? However, there are certain issues I felt my writing was stronger and the whole concept and story structure really coalesced. Vincent Price Presents #5 contains an original short story (“Here to There”) I wrote a decade or so ago about a man haunted by his past success and seeking his true purpose. I thought it worked on multiple levels. I am also particularly proud of the upcoming project “Touch of Strange” I created with the guidance and blessing of George Clayton Johnson before he passed. I have always been a huge Twilight Zone fan, and the whole graphic novels is a love letter to those great stories.

Q: People want to get in touch with you! How do they do that?

I can be contacted through Storm Entertainment or directly at zonefish44@yahoo.com.

Are you a creative professional in the comic book or graphic novel industry? We’d like to interview you! Please send an email inquiry to davetaylor@tfaw.com as the first step.


Exclusive Interview with Cover Artist Adam Riches

profile photo, adam richesQ: When did you get interested in comics, and what’s the first comic book series you remember really liking?

Like most kids growing up in the early ‘90s, comics were very accessible due to so many factors: the record-breaking sales of Jim Lee’s X-Men, Rob Liefeld’s X-Force, Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man (and the subsequent Image boom), the X-Men and Batman animated series, the live-action Batman films, plus tons of merchandising and licensed products, so it’s hard to know exactly what it was that first got me hooked, because I loved it all!

The first comic book series that I really liked…I don’t know if I can name just one! As a kid, I would get comics at the grocery store, pharmacy, book store, sometimes as random issues in multi-packs, etc. I mention this because what really made an initial impression on me was the characters and the art, simply because I didn’t have enough of any run to understand the continuity, I couldn’t get invested in the stories. So, I would just look through the same comics over and over, getting lost in the art. To try and answer your question though, some of the first books that I remember getting really excited over…X-Men Adventures (based on the Fox Kids TV series), G.I. Joe A Real American Hero, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Q: First published work?

My first published work was a pin-up page in Tales Of The TMNT #52, titled “A Cowboy, A Cowlick, and A Cowabunga!”.

Q: What other artists influenced and continue to influence you and your style?

I have too many influences to even try to list them all! I admire, and am inspired by, so many artists for so many different reasons; creativity, style, generosity, fearlessness, business acumen, resourcefulness, work ethic, passion, etc. etc. Without writing an essay qualifying each one, my personal artistic Mount Rushmore is: Drew Struzan, Peter Laird, Kevin Eastman, and Todd McFarlane. Though I could easily name hundreds more!

Q: Do you use computers, tablets and software, or are you old-school with pens and a scanner?

I work in a mix of both digital and traditional media, it largely depends on the type of work, the look I want to achieve, the deadline, etc. In a perfect world, it’s always nice to have a tangible piece of original art, so as much as possible I try to work traditional, but these days I’m about 50/50.

gi joe arah 225 grunt action figure cover

For the last few years I’ve been illustrating the packaging art for many of Hasbro’s G.I. Joe action figures. Because of this, IDW asked if I’d interested in doing a series of retro-inspired toy covers for the comic. Each cover was painted traditionally in acrylic, gouache, and Prismacolor pencils. After the painting is finished, I scan it, and draw the bubble digitally (in Photoshop) to help give it a sleek 3D appearance, separate from the art, as well as add all the logos and text.

Q: What are you reading nowadays?

Right now, I’m really digging IDW’s current run of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It’s a fresh take on the TMNT but culls from elements of all their history. Kevin, Tom, and Bobby have consistently written one of the best TMNT books ever in my opinion, and Mateus Santolouco’s art is nothing short of amazing.

X-Men ’92…Chad Bowers and my buddy Chris Sims are currently writing my dream X-Men book, and I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s like getting all the best parts of my childhood version of the X-Men back, but with the perfect blend of new characters, and tongue in cheek humor. I’m so happy it’s back as an ongoing!

IDW’s Back To The Future… generally licensed books can be pretty hit or miss, but with BTTF co-creator Bob Gale co-writing this book (with John Barber), they’ve managed to perfectly capture the tone of the films in comic form.

I could go on and on, so a few others I’m currently or recently enjoyed (in no particular order)…Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, The Fade Out, Bitch Planet, G.I. Joe A Real American Hero, Squarriors, Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl.

back to the future 6 7 8 vault collectibles

Pretty much from the second I’d heard IDW acquired the license to produce BTTF comics, I was dying to work on it, seeing as it’s my favorite movie of all time. So when I got the offer to paint these, I was over the moon! I tried to paint them in a style somewhat reminiscent of Drew Struzan (my favorite illustrator, and the artist who painted the original BTTF movie posters), which meant using all traditional media. In this case mostly airbrushed acrylic paints, and Prismacolor pencils. Because I was hired to paint this as a triptych, it was important that the covers obviously felt connected, but I also wanted to make sure each cover had its own unique look and feel. To achieve that, I did a variety of quick thumbnail sketches before it was ultimately decided on having the cover transition from a cool (#6) to warm palette (#8), creating both an interesting visual transition, but also helping each cover have its own identity. I shot hundreds of photos of a replica DeLorean Time Machine, and cross referenced them with movie stills to get the details as accurate as possible.

Q: Favorite comic book -> movie adaptation and TV show?

My all time favorite comic to film adaptation is probably the 1990 live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, it holds up remarkably well even all these years later. A close second is Batman Returns.

TV show…this is probably going to sound like a really funny answer to some people, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Swamp Thing: The Series (1990-93, USA Network). It’s campy and weird, and has aged horribly, but the theme song still gets me pumped up, and I got to visit the set as a kid at Universal Studios in Orlando (where it was filmed).

Q: Share some of your work: A first pencil sketch to a finished panel. Do you do all your own inking, coloring, and lettering?

As a cover artist, coming from an illustration background, my comics work is usually very rendered, so I do everything myself. Though, I’m certainly open to the idea of the occasional collaboration, especially with artists who’s style is very different to my own. I’m always curious to see what two unique styles can create when put together.

Q: What’s next for your career?

I’ve got several things in the works right now, but of what I can talk about…I’ve got some exclusive Back To The Future covers coming through Vault Collectibles, a cover coming up on ROM I’m really proud of, and I’m currently doing an ongoing cover run on Micronauts. Other than those, hopefully just to keep working on lots of cool projects, and maybe some creator owned stuff in the not-too-distant future!

Back to the Future #6, sketch in progress

Back to the Future #6, sketch in progress

Q: What’s one title you think is a good example of your art here at TFAW?

TFAW currently has most of my G.I. Joe A Real American Hero action figure covers available, and I’ve had a lot of great feedback on those.

Q: Where were you born, what did you study in college, what are the names of your pets, if you have any, and where do you live now?

I was born in Orange Park, FL (though we moved from there when I was still a baby), I graduated from Ringling College of Art and Design and studied illustration there. I’m currently based in the Tampa Bay, FL area.

Q: What was your first-ever comic book?

I’m pretty sure the first comic I ever received was The Spectacular Spider-Man #180 (Sept 1991). Sal Buscema’s striking cover image of Spider-Man and Green Goblin entangled in battle, is forever etched into my memory!

Q: Where can fans can follow your work?

You can get in touch with me, and keep up with all my work at AdamRiches.com or find me on Facebook as AdamRichesArt.

Are you a creative professional in the comic book or graphic novel industry? We’d like to interview you! Please send an email inquiry to davetaylor@tfaw.com as the first step.


Interview with Comic Artist Mike Baron

comic book artist Mike Baron, wearing a hatThis kicks off an interview series where you can get to know the artists, writers, inkers, letterers and other people involved in the creation and publication of your favorite comic book series and graphic novels. And we’re excited to start with Badger and Nexus artist Mike Baron. Here’s how our interview went…

Q: When did you get interested in comics, and what’s the first comic book series you remember really liking?

When I was a kid, growing up in Mitchell, SD, I latched onto Uncle Scrooge comics as the ne plus ultra. It just struck a chord with me. Those Carl Barks-written and drawn adventures were as instructive as they were entertaining. I probably learned more about economics from those early Scrooges as I did in school. I wrote a letter to Mr. Barks c/o Disney asking for a drawing, and he sent me an inked sketch of Uncle Scrooge. I have it somewhere.

Q: First published work?

“I Smoked Dope For the Government,” for The Boston Phoenix in 1972. This was later reprinted in Denis Kitchen’s Weird Tales. I just saw Denis last week at a convention in Denver. He was among my first publishers.

Q: What other artists influenced and continue to influence you and your style?

Steranko and Neal Adams blew me away. And later, Barry Smith and Berni Wrightson. But it was mostly about the art in those days. As for telling stories, my heroes are John D. MacDonald, Carl Barks, and Philip Jose Farmer. I have also learned a great deal from the Western writer Pete Brandvold.

second issue of "badger"

Issue #2 of “Badger”, art by Mike Baron

Q: Do you use computers, tablets and software, or are you old-school with pens and a scanner?

I start with notebook and pad, making notes while I lie in supine splendor gazing out on my vast holdings. Then I work up an outline on my computer. I always have that notebook with me. You never know when you’re going to get an idea. I used to just wing it, but now I plan and scribble, and build that outline. The outline has to be as exciting and entertaining as anything it describes. I need to be able to show that outline to anyone, and for them to get excited about the story.

Q: What are you reading nowadays?

Lots of history preparatory to me writing a historical novel. I just finished Cortes, by Richard Lee Marks. Man, those Aztecs were gruesome! Conn Iggulden’s Genghis Kahn saga is the greatest thing I’ve ever read. I recently read Robert Crais’ The Promise. Meh! I liked Dan Simmons’ Hard Case, but hated his Winter Haunting. Currently reading Paul Bishop’s Lie Catchers. Kevin J. Anderson’s Dan Shamble, Private Eye series, about a zombie detective, is very droll.

Q: Favorite comic book -> movie adaptation and TV show?

I have lots of favorite comic books. Stray Bullets by David Lapham, The Watchmen, Chuck Dixon’s Way of the Rat, Don Rosa’s Uncle Scrooge. I consider Captain America: Winter Soldier the best superhero movie to date. Man, I tried to watch some of those TV superhero shows but they just don’t work for me. I have to believe the story could actually occur. Right now my favorite TV shows are Better Call Saul, Vikings, and Vinyl.

First page of the new Nexus Series by Mike Baron

First page of the new Nexus Series by Mike Baron

Q: Share some of your work: A first pencil sketch to a finished panel. Do you do all your own inking, coloring, and lettering?

I used to write comics by drawing each page out by hand. I’m good enough to get my ideas across, but it hurt my back and now I work full script. I’ll still do convention sketches, but they’re amateurish, believe me. I supply copious photo reference to my artists.

Q: What’s next for your career?

Chicken sexing! Liberty Island Press will release all my Josh Pratt novels beginning with Biker in the fall. Josh Pratt is a reformed motorcycle hoodlum turned PI. These stories are pretty gruesome. I like grim. I’m turning the first Biker into a graphic novel with Val Mayerik, with whom I’ve done Conan, Bruce Lee, Ninjak, and of course Badger, which is coming out right now.

Q: What’s one title you think is a good example of your art here at TFAW?

I think Skorpio is my best novel. It’s about a ghost who only appears under a blazing sun, but I have four novels in the pipeline that are explosive. Wordfire Press is publishing Banshees next month. It’s about a satanic rock band that comes back from the dead. Here at TFAW I like Badger, of course, and my Nexus series.

Q: Where were you born, what did you study in college, what are the names of your pets, if you have any, and where do you live now?

Born Madison, WI, grew up Mitchell, SD, returned to Madison, graduated UW ‘71, moved to Boston, started writing for Boston Phoenix, The Real Paper, Creem, Fusion, Oui, Boston Globe. Moved back to Madison in ‘77, met Steve Rude in ‘81, created Nexus, created Badger in ‘82. Took me a long time to learn how to write novels. I’m a slow learner. But when I get it, I get it. Got some stuff in the hopper that will blow men’s minds! I now live in Fort Collins, CO, with my wife Anne, and my three dogs, Mack, Freddie, and Bob. You can learn more about me at my Web site: Bloody Red Baron.net.

Are you a creative professional in the comic book or graphic novel industry? We’d like to interview you! Please send an email inquiry to davetaylor@tfaw.com as the first step.


Star Trek Manifest Destiny is Coming — buy’ ngop!

Star Trek Manifest Destiny #1 Subscription Variant at TFAW.comThe crew of the Enterprise is about to embark on their five-year mission to explore the unknown, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait until July for follow their exploits! IDW Publishing has been publishing stellar Star Trek comics for years, and the upcoming four-issue Star Trek Manifest Destiny looks amazing.

We had the chance to chat with series writers Mike Johnson and Ryan Parrott, artist Angel Hernandez, and the book’s editor, Sarah Gaydos, about their favorite Star Trek memories, where the idea for Star Trek Manifest Destiny came from, and what kind of action we can expect from the series. Read on!

TFAW: How did the idea of Star Trek: Manifest Destiny come about?

Mike Johnson: We aren’t doing a movie prequel this year, but we wanted to do another event-worthy series to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek. What could be more event-y than a showdown with the Klingons? And this time both sides are out where no one — human OR Klingon — has been before.

Ryan Parrott: The Klingons are seminal but we really haven’t gotten to see a lot of interactions between them and our crew in this particular reality. Since the comics have always been great for filling in the cracks or expanding on moments, it just seemed like there was an appetite for a story that could help justify all the upcoming bad blood.

Star Trek Manifest DestinyTFAW: Can you give us a behind the scenes tour on how you two worked together to write the story?

RP: Our stories always begin differently — one of us has an image we want to see or an idea we want to explore. This one started with — who’s the Klingon “Captain Kirk?” What does their “Enterprise” look like? How does the Empire explore? So we did some research into the Vikings and Mongols, just to establish a base — which helped flesh out our characters — then Mike and I start throwing the story back and forth until we’re both happy . . . or one of us just gives in.

TFAW: None of you is a stranger to the world of Star Trek comics, how does this story relate to or build upon your previous work in the Star Trek universe?

Angel Hernandez: My first contact drawing Star Trek comics was the Star Trek Green Lantern crossover. I felt very comfortable with the universe of that project. I had been drawing several series of superheroes at DC Comics and it was an exciting change. I really wanted to continue working in this universe and this project has given me the opportunity to keep doing it, and I love it.

MJ: We’ve shown the Federation and the Klingons mixing it up before, but this story raises the stakes because both sides are on their own, far from any reinforcements. The Klingon ship is a match for the Enterprise in size and power. This is probably the most intense battle we’ve shown in the comics yet, and the most personal.

RP: Up to this point, I’ve only ever done stories set at Starfleet Academy — so the opportunity to write the real crew on the five-year mission was a dream come true . . . and I finally got to cross “Scotty” off the bucket list.

Star Trek Manifest Destiny #2TFAW: I really dug Angel Hernandez’s art on Star Trek Green Lantern. Can you talk about your collaboration with him on Manifest Destiny?

MJ: I was lucky enough to work with Angel on Trek/Lantern and I quickly learned that he can draw anything a writer can dream up. We’re excited he’s on board for this event, and he’s already producing pages that make our jaws drop.

TFAW: What can you tell us about the new villain, Shotok?

RP: There are some great villains in the original series, but outside of Khan, they’re mostly races — Klingons, Romulans, etc. So our goal was to try and create a worthy adversary for Kirk — someone personal, who thinks and acts like he does. Shotok is an outsider who doesn’t conform to the traditional Klingon code of honor. And because of that, he’s dangerous, unpredictable, and a bit of a wildcard when he first encounters the Enterprise.

TFAW: How much research did you have to do for this story so you felt comfortable that you’d have a viable story set in the canonical Star Trek universe?

MJ: We really want the book to feel like a big summer action movie, so it’s not so much research but we’ve been thinking in terms of what cool epic scenes we want to see, how we want to pace it in a way you don’t always see in comics, things like that.

RP: Like I mentioned before, when we knew we wanted to see how Klingons explore, it was pretty obvious they wouldn’t do it the same way the Federation does. So we looked at examples in real history, aspects from all the different series and even stuff from expanded Klingon mythology — like “The Klingon Art of War.” Then based off all of that — we built the version that made the most sense to us.

TFAW: IDW is also producing Klingon Language Editions for the series? Who came up with that idea, and how can we thank them?

Sarah Gaydos: I can’t claim that we’re the first one to translate a Trek comic into Klingon (see: IDW’s Star Trek: Klingons: Blood Will Tell, and more!) but we just could not resist. We really want to highlight how badass the Klingons are, but also how incredibly deep their culture is — to the point where they have this fully fleshed out language. We’re working with several great folks from the Klingon Language Institute to make this possible!

TFAW: What kind of creative freedom did you have on this book, Angel?

AH: I have had total creative freedom. I had worked with Mike before, therefore I already knew where the lines were, but I have always understood very well what I wanted to convey in every page of script and within those parameters I have been able to move with absolute freedom. To agree with the rest of the team about the visual issues allows you to work more comfortably on the other aspects of the project.

Star Trek Manifest Destiny #2 Subscription Variant

TFAW: What influences did you draw upon for character designs in this series?

AH: Visually, I followed the parameters of the new films (J.J. Abrams) but I have referred to the classic saga in order to capture the essence of some species. And I don’t want to tell more to avoid spoilers.

TFAW: Was there a panel or page that was particularly challenging to draw?

AH: There is not any particular panel that has been more difficult than another, but in this comic there are many action scenes involving a large number of characters. Ensuring that it does not become a mess and that the reader can follow the sequence correctly is always a challenge for an artist. And this comic includes many of those challenges.

TFAW: Artists often sneak Easter Eggs into their work, whether it’s a wink to the fans, or including likenesses of friends/family as background characters. Can you clue us in on any you included?

AH: I do not normally include personal references in the comics I draw, but in this case I have included some environments that surround me, especially in the landscapes that can be seen in some scenes. I come from a volcanic island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean (Canary Islands) and many Hollywood productions come to shoot here. It was logical that I successfully exploited those spaces to include them in the comics I draw and the places visited by the crew of the Enterprise often match with places that I can really visit.

Star Trek Manifest Destiny #2 Variant Cover by J.K. WoodwardTFAW: What is your favorite Star Trek memory?

AH: There are many special moments in the saga as for example, Spock’s death or the destruction of the Enterprise. I also find memorable the death of Spock’s mother and everything that happens around that. I think it is very emotional and, at the same time, a very spectacular moment. But, certainly, the encounter with the Klingons in the film of 2013, the whole scene is a moment that I love.

MJ: My favorite memory is playing with the big Original Series Mego figures when I was a kid. Real cloth uniforms! Giant blue phasers!

RP: For me, it will always be, “There Are Four Lights!” The majority of Star Trek episodes end at the exact same place they started — with everything pretty much back to normal. But that story — what Picard went through and his mental state at the end — it felt like it had resonance. It was such a strong performance (by both Patrick Stewart and David Warner), I just knew I’d never forget it.

TFAW: Who is your favorite Captain?

AH: Chris Pine. For professional reasons I have developed a very close link with him, he is almost like a coworker.

MJ: Can’t lie: Picard.

RP: Picard, 100% — but Pine’s slowly creeping up the ladder.

TFAW: What comics are you reading right now?

AH: Lately I do not have much time to read, but as soon as I have a moment, I’ll start with Saga and Fables. And I have accumulated Blacksad, Magneto, O’Boys, Hellboy on the shelf because I do not have time to read everything I would like, and that it is a lot.

MJ: I just read the new Asterix book. My favorite series growing up, and it’s still going strong.

RP: I can’t get enough East of West and Casanova.

We want to thank Michael, Ryan, Angel, and Sarah for an excellent interview! Make sure to order your copies of Star Trek Manifest Destiny, including the Klingon Language version, today!

PRE-ORDER STAR TREK MANIFEST DESTINY ISSUES

ORDER STAR TREK/GREEN LANTERN BOOKS

*buy’ ngop means “that’s great news” in Klingon, literally translated as “the plates are full.” Gotta love the Klingon Language Institute!

Are you looking forward to Star Trek Manifest Destiny? What’s your favorite Star Trek comic to date? Post your comments below!


Lex Hudson of United by Media Profiles Things From Another World

Written by

Nov 12 2015 at 10:59am

Posted in General News,Interviews

United By Media is a Portland-based non-profit organization that empowers people with developmental disabilities with a media voice and a platform for community involvement. By pairing them up with a camera, media assistant and press pass, United by Media helps people with developmental disabilities become active members of the local media and explore their interests. Since its inception in December of 2010, the organization has talked to Lewis Black, Lyle Lovett, Amy Roloff and Bob Eubanks, among many others. However, their work is about much more than talking to celebrities and covering exciting local events. It is about developing and maintaining meaningful long-term relationships.

Lex Hudson, one of the United by Media reporters, has been enjoying science fiction and comics his entire life. His goal is to open his own comic and card shop, which would also serve coffee to make sure his customers can have a beverage and a snack during the long games of Yu-Gi-Oh! Recently, Lex sat down with Sean Wynn, the manager of our Milwaukie store, to talk about their mutual passion for comics, the keys to running a successful store and much more.

 

Things from Another World is excited to have had the opportunity to host United by Media in one of our stores and to support the important work this organization is doing. We are looking forward to our continued partnership.

You can learn how you can support this organization and see more interviews on their website.


Cullen Bunn Takes Ash & The Army of Darkness to Space

Comic Book Writer Cullen Bunn takes the Army of Darkness, and the heroic Ash to spaceCullen Bunn and Dynamite Entertainment are taking the Army of Darkness and the series’ hero, Ash, into space this winter. Army of Darkness comics have given fans Ash’s ongoing adventures for years, and Bunn’s addition to the family will be an exciting continuation of the Chosen One’s story.

Bunn’s catalog of work is impressive, with titles like Wolverine, Sinestro, The Shadow, and The Sixth Gun under his belt, his latest venture following Ash and the Deadites is sure to be a wild ride. It’s his work on various Deadpool books that has us chomping at the bit to see him take on the Army of Darkness.

You could win sought-after Army of Darkness comics from Bunn’s new series! Keep reading for more info on how to enter.

Comic Book Writer Cullen Bunn takes the Army of Darkness, and the heroic Ash to spaceTFAW: Hi Cullen, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with us. When did you discover Raimi’s Army of Darkness?
Cullen Bunn: I was already a fan of Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 when Army of Darkness came to movie theaters. I saw the flick on opening weekend and was completely taken by surprise. As much of a departure as EVIL DEAD 2 was from the original movie, Army of Darkness was even more of a game-changer in terms of tone and style. I loved it.

TFAW: How did you come to work on Dynamite’s Army of Darkness comic book series?
Bunn: Nick Barrucci and I have been talking about working together for some time, but we wanted to find the perfect projects for me. Last year, at Emerald City Comic Con, Nick and I sat down to discuss several projects. He surprised me by asking, “Are you familiar with Army of Darkness?” I’m pretty sure my ear-to-ear grin answered that question for him.

TFAW: It sounds like Ash is going to be in quite the predicament in this story. How did this idea hit you, and when did it start to look like this was really going to happen?
Bunn: Ash has battled demons and been possessed himself. He’s been thrown through time. It only seemed natural that I throw him into space. When Nick and I started discussing this project, one of his requests was that I do something unexpected with good ol’ Ash. Sending the Chosen One on a deep space adventure seemed to fit the bill. As the story started to come together, I was able to draw inspiration from so many amazing science fiction sources—from 2001: A Space Odyssey to Star Wars to Dune to Lovecraft’s tales to stories of John Carter of Mars!

Now, you might think that space adventures aren’t a good fit for Army of Darkness, but I believe this tale is very true to the spirit of the franchise, but still offers plenty of surprises! I’m not sure any reader will expect where this story will take them!

Comic Book Writer Cullen Bunn takes the Army of Darkness, and the heroic Ash to spaceTFAW: The first issue has multiple variants, is there one that you dig the most?
Bunn: I like them all, but the Jay Shaw ET-inspired variant might be my favorite. I like the starkness of the image. I also like those blank covers, because I can just draw my own images! Stick-figure Ash for the win!

TFAW: How has Larry Watts been to work with as a partner?
Bunn: Larry is a great collaborator. He genuinely loves the material, and he does an amazing job balancing the horror, sci-fi, and humor aspects of the story. He manages to get a lot of “acting” across with Ash, which is vitally important to this book!

TFAW: What’s your favorite part about writing Ash and the Deadites?
Bunn: I love that this project straddles a couple of different worlds and styles. The way I’m approaching this story, Ash provides the humor with his bumbling buffoonery. But the Deadites provide the creepiness and horror.

TFAW: You’ve worked with Dynamite on other projects before. How has it been to work with the folks at Dynamite Entertainment?
Bunn: Team Dynamite is an absolute delight to work with…which is nice because I’m dealing with them so frequently of late!

TFAW: How would you describe this series to someone who’s never seen Army of Darkness or read the comics?
Bunn: You know that crazy uncle of yours…the one who thinks he knows a lot more about everything than he really does…the one who frequently lets his mouth write checks his rear-end can’t cover…the one who has the utmost confidence in himself even when he gets himself into the most unbelievable hot water time and time again? Yeah, that guy. Imagine he’s the savior of humanity, our last line of defense against demons as old as time. And then imagine he has to stow away on the space shuttle in order to stop these demons from conquering the world.

TFAW: What comics are you reading right now?
Bunn: I’ve been reading a few different titles of late. I just read the first couple of issues of Fred Van Lente’s Resurrectionists, which was great. I’m digging Chris Sebela’s Dead Letters and Scott Snyder’s Wytches. My absolute favorite book right now, though is Southern Bastards from Jason Aaron and Jason Latour.

TFAW: Do you have any other projects in the works that you’re excited about?
Bunn: I have several projects that have either been recently announced or will be announced soon. Masks II from Dynamite is in the works, and it is a wildly ambitious story featuring a dozen or more characters in three time periods. Terrible Lizard from Oni Press will be launching in early November. It’s an all-ages story of a girl and her T-Rex. Wolf Moon from Vertigo is a werewolf story with a twist that will hit the stands in December. And I’ve got a couple of more Dynamite projects in the works…but I can’t reveal them just yet!

We want to thank Cullen Bunn for taking the time out of his busy schedule to chat with us! Make sure to pre-order Bunn’s Army of Darkness comics and save 20% off the cover price! Plus, everyone who purchases issues by December 2 will be in the running to win our Army of Darkness Contest and take home some sweet collectible comics.

ORDER ARMY OF DARKNESS COMICS & MORE
ENTER OUR ARMY OF DARKNESS CONTEST
SEE OTHER BOOKS BY CULLEN BUNN

Are you excited for more Bunn’s take on Ash in Army of Darkness? Post your comments below!


Ryan Browne Takes God Hates Astronauts Monthly at Image

God Hates Astronauts by Ryan BrowneRyan Browne’s God Hates Astronauts is almost impossible to describe: a gonzo superhero parody comic that’s visually arresting, hilariously funny, and wildly unpredictable — like Axe Cop for the 18+ crowd. When Browne launched a Kickstarter for his cult hit webcomic in 2013, he exceeded his $15,000 goal by more than 400%, raising $75,770 and publishing the first volume in a deluxe hardcover!

Now he’s bringing back his bickering, battling superhero team — brought together by NASA to stop farmers from launching themselves into space — as a monthly series from Image Comics! We had the chance to interview him about what’s next for GHA and why you should pre-order the new series right now. Plus, Browne threw in a four-page preview for God Hates Astronauts #1 (NOTE: FOR MATURE READERS ONLY), which comes out September 3!

TFAW: The first volume of God Hates Astronauts featured torrid affairs, bank-robbing owls, ghost cow heads, and lots of other fun stuff. What does the new series have in store for us?

Ryan Browne: The new series is more plot driven and intergalactic in nature. I’m really trying to plan ahead and make this new volume epic in scope, while being as totally stupid and fun as ever. Finally all of the negligent, petty, over-reactionary antics of the Power Persons Five will come home to roost! Also, things will get punched a lot and there will be awfully obvious sound effects.

TFAW: What changes have the Power Persons Five been through since we last saw them?

RB: Well Star Grass and Starrior have a daughter named Starlina. Gnarled Winslow has hi-tech robo-arms, and Dr. Professor is starting to lose his mind. I wanted the new series to be a great jumping-on point for new readers, so the first issue starts with a new chapter in the characters’ lives. If you haven’t read the first volume that’s okay, but if you have you will understand more of the back history of the characters.

TFAW: What made you decide to publish through Image as a monthly series, instead of doing another Kickstarter?

RB: The Kickstarter was the best thing I’ve ever coordinated, but it was also the hardest. Months and months of running the Kickstarter and fulfilling packages as a full-time job meant that I drew a lot fewer comics last year than I wanted to. Using a publisher lets me focus more on the comic creation rather than the printing and distribution of the book. I love what Kickstarter provides for self-publishers, but after the experience I wanted to get out of self-publishing.

TFAW: There’s really no other way to describe God Hates Astronauts than completely, flat-out, over-the-top insane. What are some of your influences?

RB: Yeah that’s always been the problem of the book, how do you describe it? My biggest influences are the films of the Coen brothers as well as Die Hard, Robocop, and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. As far as comics go, I draw a lot from The Tick, Scud, and Milk and Cheese. I’ve always got to throw in there the first seven seasons of The Simpsons and the last few seasons of Mystery Science Theater 3000 as being really important for helping me develop my sense of humor.

TFAW: Obviously, God Hates Astronauts fans will be all over the new series. But what are three reasons a new reader should pick it up?

RB: Well, let me see.

1. It features astronaut farmers who ride horses into battle and use laser-shooting pitchforks against cosmic star bears.

2. It has more space crabs in it than any other book that does not have “crab” in its title.

3. The whole series is narrated by “3-D Cowboy,” a ghost cowboy that actually pops off the page in 3-D if you are wearing the proper glasses.

Read the rest of our interview and see a four-page preview (NOTE: FOR MATURE READERS 18+ ONLY) after the jump!

Read the rest of this entry »


Rick Remender Fills Us in on #WHATSNEXT: Black Science

Black Science Comics#WHATSNEXT from Image Comics is Black Science, a new pulp science-fiction series from Rick Remender (Fear Agent, Uncanny Avengers), with art by Matteo Scalera and Dean White.

Described as “The Swiss Family Robinson Meets Quantum Leap,” Black Science focuses on Dr. Grant MacKay, a scientist who breaks all the rules in his attempt at interdimensional travel. Unfortunately, when his device, called the Pillar, is damaged, he finds himself — with his group of colleagues and his two children — being hurled from dimension to dimension at random!

We chatted with Remender about the genesis of Black Science, where his wild ride will take us, and what he’s excited for next! Make sure to pre-order Black Science now to save 20%. Plus, preview the first five pages of issue #1, courtesy of Image Comics.

TFAW: What sparked the idea for Black Science?

Rick Remender: It goes back to an outline that I was working on for a creator-owned book in 2006. I had the very basic concept, but I couldn’t find a way to make it work. It was about dimension traveling, but I couldn’t get the hook down. So I shelved it for a while, but it’s always been there, nagging at me.

When I got up and running on this, I really I think it came from looking at Frank Frazetta Eerie and Creepy magazines. Every single one of those covers feels like it’s in a new world, with a new past, and every single one demands that I know more about it! It got me thinking about the concept of Black Science, about dimension traveling, which sort of gave birth to, “I’ve got to do this.” I want to hit what I feel when I look at those Frazetta paintings, and have the rules somehow work in a way to give me the ability to tell a story that travels to interesting new places every few issues. That was really the impetus, what kind of kicked me in the ass!

TFAW: What is “black science,” exactly?

Black Science #1 Preview Page 1RR: Well, the term is supposed to reflect black magic. In this world, our hero Grant MacKay is an anarchist, he’s an old punker who probably listened to too much Crass in the ’80s. As a strident individualist, he views man-made laws and hierarchical organizations as the wall between humans and discovery.

And so, he has delved into all of the forbidden sciences, and all of the things that are illegal. The kinds of things that government bodies say are off-limits, that’s what he’s been doing in a secret bunker in the south of San Francisco in a hidden laboratory. He and some people who have named themselves the Anarchist League of Scientists — because they’ve read too many comic books — have devised this Pillar, as they call it, which can punch through dimensional boundaries and travel to other dimensions.

In Grant’s eyes, delving into black science is the thing that will lead to utopia. Every time a scientist has revealed some truth to the public — like the world is round, or any truth the general population isn’t ready for — they’re stoned to death or they’re called crazy. And so he sees this as an opportunity to overcome the laws and boundaries between him and true discovery, and by mapping the roads to different dimensions, he’ll be able to pilfer any resource our world needs, in any instance.

For example, you could find a dimension, a parallel universe, where cancer was cured, and he’d go take that. Any resource they may need, they can just find another dimension and they can go pilfer it. It’s like an imagination lockbox, where if you can imagine it, then that parallel dimension likely exists, and then you just have to map the road to go acquire it.

So all of his intentions are good, he’s a good guy — he’s just trying to do it his way. But of course, there are consequences to these things, and that’s where we find them at the beginning of the first issue.

TFAW: It seems like their plan went awry, and there was some sort of sabotage — and also, Grant’s children are with them, which I can’t imagine was part of the original plan.

Black Science #1 Preview Page 2RR: No, and we’ll reveal in upcoming issues how that all came together. Basically, it was the perfect storm of things going wrong, and who it was that sabotaged the Pillar device, and how exactly it’s been damaged, and broken, to where now it’s jumping at random intervals to random dimensions for unspecified periods of time.

So sometimes they’ll end up in a dimension for 30 seconds, and sometimes they’ll end up in a place for 30 hours. And every one of these dimensions has a new set of rules, as well, which adds to the high adventure and makes it exciting.

But at its core, it’s still a character story. Somebody amongst them sabotaged the device, and obviously Grant’s kids are with him. The woman who helped him build the Pillar — the engineer behind half of what they’ve developed here — Rebecca, he began having an affair with her, so obviously he’s hiding that from his kids.

So the ensemble cast drama starts bubbling, and at the same time they’re being hurled to new dimensions every issue or two. As a foundation, I’ve already plotted to issue #35 at this point. The concept lends itself very easily to long-form storytelling.

TFAW: Besides Grant’s relationship with Rebecca, what are some other group dynamics?

RR: I’m going to be playing a lot with the idea that there is no such thing as a hero or a villain. It’s all subjective, it’s all relative: what a human’s motivations are, and what those are colored by. Someone who has a tendency to do something that we would all agree is unsavory or unethical might have a whole sea of other positive characteristics that are not being looked at.

Every one of these characters has that. I’ve made sure to temper them, so they’re all just complex human beings. As the plot grows and the cauldron bubbles and boils, we’ll start to unravel their back stories and see who they are, and that will help us pull a few whammies in terms of subverting expectations.

Black Science #1 Preview Page 3People may expect things to go one way, but we’ll veer the car and go the other. Nobody is really who they seem at this point, because of where we decided to start the story. There’s a lot of interpersonal stuff: Shondra, who is sort of a sycophantic assistant, and Kadir, who is one of Grant’s former colleagues who became upper management, and is able to fund Grant. But of course Grant is anti-authoritarian, so he sees him as the enemy.

Then you’ve got Pia, who is Grant’s daughter, who is 18 and hates him. He hasn’t been home for the last 10 years, he’s been in the laboratory. She sees him as a failure and an obsessive, somebody who’s turned his back on her mother, which he has. And then there’s Nathan, who’s 11 and sort of still loves his dad and doesn’t know any different. His whole life, Grant has only been around for the occasional dinners and maybe a movie here and there.

And then you’ve got Shawn, who’s sort of the adopted son of Grant. He’s somebody who has a high genius-level IQ who Grant took under his wing and brought in on the project.

Working with my editor Sebastian Girner, we’ve spent about seven months writing character sheets and ramping up the drama between the ensemble cast, as well as finding ways to tie it in and reflect it against interesting new worlds.

TFAW: Image is calling Black Science “the spiritual sequel to Fear Agent.” How is Black Science similar to Fear Agent, and how is it different?

RR: It’s mostly different. I think that it’s similar just in that they’re both pulp science-fiction. Fear Agent is more grounded in reality. Obviously we deal with dimension traveling and time traveling as well. But it was really the story of Keith Huston, this lonely alcoholic trying to redeem himself.

With Black Science, the story is really the cast, and while Grant MacKay is definitely the lynchpin for part of it, he’s not the entire focus of the book. When we get to issue #7 through #10, I think people will see where we’re actually building to and going with this. The story really is more about the ensemble cast. I’m trying not to be specific and tell you which of the characters [is the focus], but it’s not the characters that you expect that you’ll be following through the story.

Black Science #1 Preview Page 4TFAW: What do you think is going to be the most exciting thing about this book to readers?

RR: We put in all of our time and energy to make sure that this is a character story at its core. The fun is obviously the high-adventure hijinks as they’re being hurled to different dimensions–each one completely different than the next.

Taking artists like Matteo Scalara and Dean White and unleashing them on new worlds every few issues, where you can basically do anything you want and cook up any sort of “What If?” scenario visually, is the kind of comic book I’d like to see more of, where the artists are unleashed and really allowed to show what they’re made of.

But underneath it all is this hodgepodge group of scientists and this family, and that’s the beating heart of it, while the color and Frazetta science-fiction of it all is the world traveling. It’s a nice middle ground between insane comic books and something that’s a character story with some heart.

TFAW: Black Science seems to be phenomenally well planned out–you said you have about 35 issues plotted out, and you also mentioned that artist Matteo Scalera will stay on the book for the entire run. What spurred that for you?

RR: That’s just the dream! With somebody like Matteo, who is not just incredibly talented and an amazing storyteller, but somehow fast — he’s the most valuable artist in the world, as far as I’m concerned! He’s that rare mix: he can hit his deadlines, and the pages look like he labored on them for six months.

Black Science #1 Preview Page 5I like long-form stories. As a reader, I was with Hellboy from the beginning, and Preacher from the beginning. Those books kept coming out and kept feeding me stories, and had the same artists and the same writers and the same teams putting things together. Even when Mignola pulls in somebody, it’s Duncan Fegredo, somebody amazing. And on Preacher, they managed to keep Steve Dillon for everything.

The consistency is important. On Fear Agent, I think one year we only shipped five issues, and that was a sacrifice that we made in order to keep either Tony Moore or Jerome Opena involved in some capacity in every one of the stories. Now that it’s finished and there are two volumes, and there’s going to be the second hardcover of Fear Agent, I think that that book stands as something I can be proud of, because of that artistic integrity, and because of the consistency of the art.

I know as a fan I like it, and as a creator I definitely am excited by the opportunity to be able to tell a story that really builds this cast, and gets you invested in them with a consistent art team.

TFAW: What comics are you reading right now? Do you even have time for that?

RR: Very little! Right now I’m reading Dungeon Quest by Joe Daly, and I just repurchased Ed the Happy Clown by Chester Brown. Every few years I have to re-read Ed the Happy Clown. I just picked up Lost Cat by Jason. That’s what’s on my pile right now.

Usually, if I have time to read and I’m looking for inspiration for the comic book stuff, I’ll try and go way back and read things like old, old Ray Bradbury. Ray Bradbury edited a series of short stories in the late ’30s and early ’40s, and that was the last thing I was picking away at. Or I’ll just try and tear apart old weird fantasy comic books and sink my head into the ’50s DC guys.

TFAW: What other projects are you excited about right now?

Black Science #3RR: We’ve got some pretty exciting stuff coming up with Uncanny Avengers, showing the consequences of all of the superheroes fighting each other that we’ve seen so much of over the past 10 years–from Civil War, to Schism, to AvX. I wanted to show the consequences for people when they lack the ability to cooperate, and give a consequence to all of the petulant squabbling we’ve seen amongst the superheroing community. So that stuff is coming up — I think issue #14 is when that really starts to come together. And that ships the same day as Black Science [November 27].

Then I have Deadly Class coming up, which is about a high school for assassins set in 1987, so I get to delve into my stories of being a punker back in the mid-’80s, and also mix it in with some blood and murder, with kids. [laughs] Who doesn’t want that?

I’ve recently pitched a lot of big exciting things for Captain America. Things that we haven’t seen before, so we’ll be shaking that title up in a pretty big way. I’m pretty excited. It’s probably not anything that we can announce for another five, six months.

And then, obviously, the Fear Agent [Library Edition] Volume 2 hardcover. For people who read the first one, I think the second is even better. Tons and tons of Jerome Opena and Tony Moore art, and those guys just got better and better every single arc. And then, also, The Last Christmas has an oversized hardcover, a book written by Gerry Duggan and penciled by me, with Hilary Barta on finishes and Michelle Madsen on colors.

Our thanks to Rick Remender and Image Comics for a fantastic interview! Make sure to order Black Science now and enjoy an all-new adventure.

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