Category: Interviews

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  • Violent Love Mixes Romance and Crime

    Interview with Violent Love creators Frank J Barbiere and Victor Santos

    Daisy Jane and Rock Bradley were two of the most notorious bank robbers in the American Southwest. And then they fell in love. Sometimes you read a description of a new comic book and know a book is going to be something special. In less than 25 words, I was immediately hooked on the premise behind Violent Love, the newest pulp-infused criminal romance series by Frank J. Barbiere (Five Ghosts, The Revisionist) and Victor Santos (The Mice Templar, Polar).

    We had the chance to chat with the Barbiere and Santos in an exclusive interview, and we think that you’ll fall in love with this series too — both creators are throwing their all at Violent Love and their passion comes through in the preview pages that are included below.

    TFAW: Victor, what’s it like going from a series you wrote and drew in Polar to just drawing this series?

    Victor Santos: Even though my career in Spain and France was as a complete author, I’ve worked mainly as artist in the USA. Polar books (and a little collaboration in the Boom! Regular Show series) have been my chance to write again, but they feel a little restricted because my native language is Spanish. I don’t think working with writers is an imposition, it’s a marvelous school for me. I’ve learned from Azzarello, Glass, Oeming, Van Lente, and all the people I’ve collaborated with. There isn’t a rulebook for this, so every writer has their method. I enjoy it. And most important: having another writer forces you to surpass your safe place and improve.

    And there’s something more readers don’t notice. Working with Frank is easy, the story is great and this is important, of course. But the world is full of talented writers, and in the day-by-day you mostly need an effective and generous collaborator. Frank’s vision of the story is so clear and direct, he really quickly evokes great images in my mind…I usually forget I’m reading in another language and believe me: this is an unusual talent!

    Violent Love Comics by Frank J. Barbiere & Victor SantosTFAW: People have likened this series to a Bonnie & Clyde or True Romace comic, would you say that’s a good comparison?

    Frank J. Barbiere: Both of those stories are extremely influential, but while this certainly is a “criminal romance” our story focuses a lot more on our female lead, Daisy Jane. There’s also a pretty unique frame story in play — the story of Daisy and Rock is being told to a young girl many years after it happened — and I think it gives the story a bit of a American folk tale vibe. It also leans into our “inspired by true events” tag line — we know we’re not going to see anything totally out of genre like aliens, monsters, etc., so the whole thing feels very authentic and like the reader is part of something bigger.

    Santos: Of course, this is a noir tradition! I could name Gun Crazy (1950) and Badlands (1973). Romance and crime have been linked often. We love to match the highest and the lowest feelings: true love vs. violence, generosity vs. greed. I’ve read a lot of good noir in comics in the latest years, the genre has been revitalized, but I always missed more romantic elements on it. Maybe all the characters were too amoral, darkly moody (in my own books too, even in the last Polar there is a romance subplot). So I really felt we need to recover these tales of “we’re together against the world, babe.”

    Violent Love is meant to really evoke a feeling of nostalgia and Americana.

    TFAW: You mentioned the tagline. Can you elaborate a bit on this story being inspired by true events?

    Santos: Well, I think I used the “Criminal Romance” title in some “concept art image” because I loved how it sounds…I’ll leave this mystery of true events to Frank (ha, ha).

    Barbiere: When Victor and I began developing Violent Love we both decided we’d love for it to have a “true crime” feel to it — to be a story that you could imagine happening in the real world, despite having exciting genre elements. By telling our readers upfront the story is inspired by true events we offer them an idea that the story has a feel of authenticity and that everything you’re seeing is being recalled — it gives it a very unique and fresh feel that also works in tandem with our frame story. Violent Love is meant to really evoke a feeling of nostalgia and Americana, and our “inspired by true events” tagline is another tool to help. In terms of the specifics…our readers will just have to do some thinking on their own to figure that out.

    Violent Love Preview Page 1TFAW: Can you tell us a little more about the inspiration for Violent Love?

    Santos: The movies we’ve discussed, pulp novels…I love the ambiance of Jim Thompson’s stuff, the spirit of the Wild West. Some ’60 and ’70s comics — I love the ’70s Marvel comics, with people like Gene Colan or Paul Gulacy, with more noir, blaxploitation and kung-fu. And classic romance magazines, with people like Alex Toth or Dan DeCarlo charming the female readers. There is something maybe is not so apparent: I love classic comics but at the same time, I belong to the manga and anime generation, so they have a big influence on my work. I find the expression of the emotions crucial, I put a big part of my efforts on it, and Japanese books play this game terrifically.

    Barbiere: Victor is one of my favorite artists working and I knew I wanted to dive into something with him when we wrapped Black Market at BOOM! Studios. Violent Love is the culmination of all of our interests and genre loves — it really is a dream project, and a very pure vision from us. We wanted to challenge ourselves to tell a love story within the genre as well, to grow and do something new. This book is a labor of love on our end and we’re extremely proud of it — we hope to keep readers on board for a very long time and constantly surprise them.

    Violent Love Preview Page 1TFAW: Victor, I loved the style you put into your Polar series, but it was different than your work on Mice Templar. Violent Love seems to be somehwere between, can you speak a little on that decision?

    Santos: I try to transform myself into the artist that every unique project I work on requires. Maybe it’s not the best decision for my career, maybe I should have a line/style totally unique and never change it…but it’s so boring! I love to change and experiment. Polar is pure styling, high contrasts of black and white, a world where almost superhuman hitmen live. Its storytelling is a exciting artifice and every page is like a jigsaw. Violent Love is more “on the ground,” it’s not completely realistic, but it plays in real places, real starting points, a real age. It needs more texture and a different color approach, with grain and sand.

    TFAW: Anything new on the horzion that we should be keeping an eye out for?

    This book is a labor of love on our end and we’re extremely proud of it.

    Barbiere: Violent Love is going to be a long haul for us so we’ll be promoting it for many months to come! It’s really become my focus — we’re both committed to telling the absolute best story we can, and I’m glad I’ve been able to hunker down and focus on it. I’m also working on a book called The Revisionist at Aftershock Comics that I’d love more people to check out — it’s the story of a time traveling assassin and does a lot of fun stuff with the genre.

    Santos: I just finished the third Polar: No Mercy for Sister Maria, and my plan is to close the trilogy there. Right now I’m also working with Dark Horse on the US edition of one of my Spanish noir graphic novels, Rashomon: A Case of Heigo Kobayashi. As you easily deduce, it’s a noir story set in the Feudal Japan, and it’s inspired by the tales of classical writer Ryonosuke Akutagawa (with a touch of James Ellroy). It will be published next year.

    Violent Love Preview Page 1TFAW: What are you most excited about with Violent Love?

    Barbiere: The chance to tell a story with Victor that we are both extremely passionate about with Image Comics. Image gives us 100% control of the material down to the type of paper we print it on, so this is a completely authentic vision from Victor and I. We really hope readers connect with it and care for these characters — this book encompasses everything we love about comics and genre, so we hope people follow us for many issues to come.

    Santos: I think this is a kind of story you would love if you are a classic noir fan, but at the same time a new reader will enjoy a lot. We have been working on a daring storytelling but accessible. That’s the kind of comics I love because even with the movie references I told you, it has that artisan and care level a movie never will have. This story is told with the resources, technique and heart make comics so fun.

    TFAW: What comics are you enjoying right now?

    Barbiere: I try to keep extremely current with the comic book industry, as well as always diving back and checking out things I’ve missed. I’m really enjoying Steve Orlando’s new Supergirl title and on the creator owned front I’ve been absolutely floored by Kill or be Killed and Black Monday Murders. In terms of prose, I’ve been reading The Fireman by Joe Hill.

    Santos: I love all the stuff from writers like Brian Azzarello, Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, and Warren Ellis. A lot of creator-owned from publishers like Dark Horse, Image, and Boom.

    I’m not totally connected with what all the big publishers are doing, but I buy all the stuff that artists like Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Javier Rodriguez, Declan Shalvey, Chris Samnee or David Aja are doing in the US mainstream books. I’m superfan of the Panel Syndicate online, too. Outside the U.S., I’m reading books by Osamu Tezuka, Koike/Kojima reprints, or the French hit Lastman — they are some of my favorite books right now, too.

    We want to thank Frank and Victor for taking the time out of their busy schedules to chat with us about this exciting new series!

    ORDER VIOLENT LOVE COMICS NOW

    Have you checked out other books by Barbiere or Santos? Are you as excited about this new series as we are? Join the conversation by posting your thoughts below and use the buttons below to share this article.

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  • Pathfinder Worldscape: A Who’s Who of Fantasy Characters

    Exclusive Intervie With Pathfinder Worldscape Writer Erik Mona

    Pathfinder fans, you’re in for a real treat in Dynamite’s upcoming six-issue Pathfinder Worldscape miniseries written by Erik Mona (Pathfinder: Hollow Mountain) and art by Jonathan Lau (Red Sonja and Cub, Miss Fury).

    We had the chance to chat with series writer Erik Mona about his favorite part of writing this series and where he hopes to the story. Read on for insights into the series and see how you can win a copy of Pathfinder Worldscape #1 signed by Mona and series artist Jonathan Lau!

    TFAW: You have plenty of awesome Pathfinder comics under your belt–dozens of adventures. Each one leads us on a new journey. What is different about this one?

    Erik Mona: Pathfinder comics to date have taken us into dark and deadly dungeons, into the winding streets of treacherous cities, and even into the unknown corners of our heroes’ pasts, but things really jump to the next level with Pathfinder Worldscape, which transports our heroes to an entirely different dimension — the Worldscape. The Worldscape is an ancient trap created by a long-dead wizard to gather the greatest warriors from three worlds — Pathfinder’s Golarion, John Carter’s Barsoom, and Earth, including its remote history during Red Sonja’s Hyborian Age.

    In the course of the 6-issue series, the Pathfinder heroes cross swords with the likes of Red Sonja, John Carter of Mars, Tars Tarkas, Tarzan, and the jungle heroes Thun’da and Fantomah, among many others. The character interactions are a huge highlight for me.

    Crossing over Pathfinder characters with heroes created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, and Frank Frazetta — artists who inspired the fantasy roleplaying hobby that ultimately inspired Pathfinder itself — definitely counts as new and different!

    “I’ve been tinkering with the Pathfinder Worldscape idea for years…”

    Pathfinder Worldscape Preview Page 1TFAW: With this huge cast of characters, did you find this story more difficult to manage or does it just come at ease at this point?

    Mona: The enormous cast of Pathfinder Worldscape presents some challenges, to be sure. You want to give everybody a chance to shine and do their thing while still having pages left over to tell an actual story. When you’re mashing together multiple properties in a dimension informed by the cultures of three different worlds (and at any time during the history of those worlds), there’s a strong temptation to over-indulge in world-building and wheel spinning about how this or that minor detail works into the overall character of the Worldscape dimension itself.

    My background in writing for tabletop RPGs has me thinking about all kinds of details that will never really play into the story. I’ve spent a significant amount of time thinking about the role of bullets in the Worldscape, as an example. While most of the Worldscape’s inhabitants come from eras or lands that fit well with traditional sword & sorcery themes, it’s perfectly likely someone trapped in the Worldscape will encounter a World War II soldier, a pistol-toting hero of America’s high plains, or a musket-wielding, fanatical street-fighter of Revolutionary France. Assuming they appear in the Worldscape with only the ammunition they bring with them, that makes their bullets a very rare and valuable commodity.

    I imagined a whole barter economy based around warriors seeking out the appropriate bullets for their chosen weapons, but after spending a considerable amount of time thinking about this, I snapped back to reality and realized that details like this — while perhaps quite interesting, useful, and even necessary to support a Pathfinder RPG campaign set in the Worldscape, probably weren’t going to enter into the comic book story too much.

    Happily, I’m fairly certain all that world-building will come into play in Worldscape-oriented Pathfinder RPG products down the line, but right now I’m putting my full effort into the comic book.

    TFAW: What exciting lands/places might we see on this adventure?

    Mona: The Worldscape itself is as exciting as you can get, with elements literally ripped out of the worlds in conjunction with it.

    Frank Frazetta’s jungle hero Thun’da, for example, lives in a place called the “Dawn Land,” a sort of time-lost valley filled with cave men, dinosaurs, amazons, and weird monsters. I always thought it strange that the subtitle of Thun’da’s comic was “King of the Congo,” when so many of his adventures took place in a much more interesting (and, from today’s standards, a much less politically fraught) location.

    I’m far more interested in struggles against pterosaurs and shaggy cave men than I am in fights against stereotypically primitive African witch doctors, and during a thorough review of fantasy-oriented stories and characters from the jungle comics of the ’40s and ’50s, Thun’da’s stories stood out as exceptional because of the weird monsters and lost cities.

    Naturally, when I started constructing the Worldscape plan, I drew in not just Thun’da and his savage girlfriend Pha, but also the entirety of his Dawn Land refuge, ruined cities and all. The central location of the Worldscape series, the brutal city of Shareen, is in fact drawn from Thun’da’s early adventures.

    Beyond that we’ve got misty valleys stuffed with Barsoomian white apes and a cadre of trained killers, another ruined city inhabited by the simian scum of three worlds, and the jungle itself, nominally ruled by the Council of Jungle Kings and their enigmatic and elusive First King, Tarzan of the Apes. Whether traveling by foot, by thoat, or by airship, the lands of the Worldscape promise death and danger at nearly every turn.

    “The character I’m enjoying the most and the one who has become weirdly central to the plot of the whole thing is Fantomah.”

    Pathfinder Worldscape Preview Page 2TFAW: Was this an idea that you had brewing for a while? How did this all come together?

    Mona: I’ve been tinkering with the Pathfinder Worldscape idea for years, since shortly after signing on to Dynamite and becoming more familiar with their roster of amazing licensed characters.

    So many of their heroes are based on the same fiction and characters that inspired tabletop gaming back in the early ’70s, and in particular Pathfinder has always been a gaming brand firmly in touch with its “pulp” roots.

    Working with characters created by Burroughs, Howard, and Frazetta…it’s just too tempting to try to put it all together and do something cool. Add to that that each issue of Pathfinder Worldscape contains a Pathfinder RPG rules appendix that provides official RPG statistics for these legendary heroes — in some cases heroes people have wanted game adaptations of literally for decades — and I had to try to put something together.

    At the time Dynamite had already teamed up many of their modern-day pulp heroes in their Masks comic, and Bill Willingham had just mashed a bunch of them together in a steampunk-inspired series called Legenderry. It seemed obvious to me that crossing over their awesome fantasy characters was the next logical step. In the meantime, Dynamite also launched the Swords of Sorrow series, which teamed up nearly all of their female characters, and Worldscape is the next logical progression.

    At a certain point I’d put so much work and thought into how to make it all happen that Dynamite offered me the chance to write the series myself, which is a huge, humbling opportunity!

    “Jonathan [Lau] has a fantastic attention to detail and an inventive spirit…”

    Pathfinder Worldscape Preview Page 4TFAW: How did the artist, Jonathan Lau, become involved with this epic adventure?

    Mona: Jonathan was my favorite of several artists Dynamite suggested for the project. I was familiar with his work on former Pathfinder writer Jim Zub’s Red Sonja and Cub from a few years back, so I was already familiar with his visual sensibility and his strong action compositions.

    What I didn’t know at the time was that Jonathan has a fantastic attention to detail and an inventive spirit that fills every nook and cranny of the book with interesting things to look at.

    His Tars Tarkas is probably my favorite version of the character I’ve seen in comics to date, and it’s fascinating to see him adapt characters like Thun’da, Fantomah, and the immortal empress Camilla, who haven’t really been in active production since the ’40s or ’50s (barring a limited series or guest appearance here and there).

    I’m thrilled to be working with him on the series, and each page I get from him on the earlier issues inspires me to put even crazier characters and scenes into the later issues I’m writing now.

    TFAW: With such a large roster of characters, have you found that you favor one more than others?

    Mona: I’m honored to work on all of them, especially Red Sonja and John Carter, two titans of fantasy publishing.

    Oddly, the character I’m enjoying the most and the one who has become weirdly central to the plot of the whole thing is Fantomah, the beautiful, nigh-omnipotent skull-faced woman introduced by literal madman Fletcher Hanks way back in ’40’s Jungle Comics #2. I’ve been mystified by this character (and by Fletcher Hanks) ever since reading about her in the incomparable “I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets” collection/biography by Paul Karasik from a few years back.

    When Dynamite challenged me to add some public domain fantasy heroes to their already impressive roster, I immediately leapt to Fantomah, and I’ve never really looked back. Hanks portrayed Fantomah as this unstoppable force of nature capable of just about anything. Unlike staid jungle heroes of the era, it was never really clear whether Fantomah was a hero or a villain, just that you never wanted to cross her, lest she rip the skin from your flesh, turn you into some crazy plant creature, or dispatch you in whatever weird way Fletcher Hanks could concoct between bottles of whiskey. In Pathfinder RPG terms, she’s basically a god, which opened up another interesting element of philosophy for the series.

    Each of the three worlds involved — Earth, Barsoom, and Golarion — have very different relationships with religion, and what it means to be a god. For most of the people of Earth — certainly the more or less modern ones like Thun’da and John Carter, “God” is something to be inferred as a matter of faith.

    Pathfinder Worldscape Preview Page 3On Barsoom, religion is a fraud designed to deliver the dying to a valley where they are drained of blood by bizarre plant creatures so that their bloodless corpses can be eaten by a cannibal priesthood of Holy Therns (also, by the way, in Worldscape). Burroughs’ “The Gods of Mars,” the second of his John Carter books, is largely about that religion.

    Then you’ve got the Pathfinder world of Golarion, where gods are literally, indisputably present and real and divine. It’s not so much a matter of belief as it is acknowledgement of existing supernatural forces, and that gives me a lot to play with in terms of how my characters interact with the world and their predicament as captives of the Worldscape.

    John Carter and the cleric Kyra get a nice juicy conversation about this, but Fantomah plays an important role in this aspect of the story as well, and I’m thrilled to be able to use her!

    “I’m still hard at work crafting cool Pathfinder RPG rules appendices for each issue…”

    TFAW: Do you have any other projects coming up that we should know about?

    Mona: In addition to running Paizo’s day-to-day publishing operations, managing the creative staff, and making diabolical plans for the future of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, most of my focus these days is soundly on Pathfinder Worldscape.

    Most of the scripting is out of the way at this point, but I’m still hard at work crafting cool Pathfinder RPG rules appendices for each issue. I just finished official game statistics for Red Sonja, for example, and now I’m noodling around with Tars Tarkas, who will appear in the second issue. After that we’ve got Tarzan, Thun’da, and a whole host of others. How much damage does a radium pistol do? What’s the Strength bonus for a green Martian? I dunno, but I will know soon, and it’s really exciting to map the game designer part of my brain over the story I’ve been composing using my comics writing circuits.

    You can keep up with my projects and get some insight into the Pathfinder RPG adaptation process behind Worldscape by checking out my blog at erikmona.com or following me on Twitter @erikmona.

    TFAW: What comics are you enjoying right now?

    Mona: Oh, man, there are so many! I went in way deep on DC’s New 52 a few years back and am working my way through a longbox of backissues of Snyder’s Batman, which has been fantastic, of course. I’m always keen to follow former Pathfinder comics writer Jim Zub on whatever he’s doing, and I really like what he’s been rolling out with Wayward, as well as his new title Glitterbomb, from Image. I’m highly intrigued by DC’s Young Animal imprint. The first issue of the new Doom Patrol was fantastic, and I can’t wait to break out a copy of Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye. As far as comic titles go, that’s probably the best I’ve heard in a long time!

    We want to thank Erik for taking the time out of his busy schedule to chat with us! Make sure to order your copies of Pathfinder Worldscape.

    ORDER PATHFINDER WORLDSCAPE ISSUES

    Are you looking forward to Pathfinder Worldscape? Tell us which character you’re looking forward to seeing in the Worldscape in the comments below and you’ll be in the running to get a copy of Pathfinder Worldscape #1 signed by Erik Mona and Jonathan Lau!

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  • Interview: Adam Markiewicz and Ben Fisher, “The Great Divide”

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    the great divideIt’s the future and it’s a pretty miserable place: there’s a plague that makes physical touch lethal. Much of the world’s population has died, and the few survivors left have come up with a variety of adaptations to avoid contact. Is there a cure? Two young thieves think they’ve found a way back to the old world, but not everyone’s enthused about how things were before the plague…

    Learn a lot more abut the story in our exclusive (and funny!) interview with the creators of The Great Divide: writer Ben Fisher and artist Adam Markiewicz.

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

    Adam Markiewicz: When I was 9 years old, my dad bought me a copy of The Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #11 and it was loads of fun. The main feature guest starred Iron Man and Black Panther. The back-up story featured Rhino. I immediately went out and bought every Spider-Man comic on the stands. The adjective-less one was my favorite because of the art (this was when Todd McFarlane was drawing it). But I also read X-Men, Superman, Batman, and FF.

    Ben Fisher: I definitely lived and breathed Claremont’s X-Men and I loved Giffen’s run on Justice League Europe. Both of those books were really just different spins on the “outside, looking in” motif, and like so many adolescents, I strongly identified with that.

    TFAW: Can you tell us a little on how you first got into comics and your road to this new series?

    Markiewicz: My first legitimate job in comics was actually with Ben, as the letterer on Smuggling Spirits. From there, I did a bit of freelance but focused mainly on self publishing, including a my webcomic Trench Coat Samurai.

    Fisher: I “broke in” to the industry with Mike Henderson (Nailbiter, Illuminati) when we were lucky enough to win a back-up story competition at Viper Comics. Mike and I followed that up with the Smuggling Spirits graphic novel, which is how I met Adam. Flash forward a few years and a few books, and I pitched my Grumpy Cat editor at Dynamite a very, very different style of comic . . . and here we are!

    Running away from the tab, detail from "The Great Divide"
    Detail #1 from “The Great Divide”

    TFAW: The premise of The Great Divide is that there’s a highly contagious pandemic transmitted by physical touch. Where did you come up with the idea for this particular pandemic?

    Fisher: The concept is that one day, without warning, every human on the planet is simultaneously afflicted with “dermadik” — a condition that results in instant death when any two people make skin contact. I got the idea on a crowded bus, actually. I started wondering how many fundamental aspects of society would change if being in close quarters became a potential death sentence and the story sort of grew from there. It’s probably also a bit related to my own introversion.

    TFAW: There’s no explanation of what happened or why, we’re just dropped into the middle, very similar to The Walking Dead. Are you going to give us backstory as things unfold, or is that another story arc entirely?

    Fisher: Oh, absolutely. The first arc finds our protagonists stumbling onto the possible cause of the Divide, but then forces them to confront the difficult question of what to do with that information. And, of course, solving one puzzle often leads to a whole series of new, even stranger, mysteries …

    TFAW: Love the Roadkill Saloon as a setting for this portion of the story! Any fun back story on that one?

    Fisher: I wish there was — I feel like I should make one up! It’s really just an amalgam of various seedy midwestern biker bars, with a name that would be remembered by the reader (since it’s used to bridge the time between pre- and post-Divide). And I knew from the very first draft that the story needed to open with a “guy goes into a bar” joke.

    TFAW: Adam, I really enjoy your style. What other artists influenced and continue to influence you and your style?

    Markiewicz: Thank you! My biggest influences have been Walt Simonson, Howard Chaykin, Jaime Hernandez, Mike Mignola, Frank Miller, Chris Ware, and Shirow Masamune. I still look at their work constantly. When I was a teenager, I was actually more interested in film than comics, so I also take a lot of inspiration from John Carpenter (especially for this series), Stanley Kubrick, The Coen Brothers, David Cronenberg, and Sam Raimi. Recently, I’d say the two artists I look at the most are Mike Henderson (and not just because he’s a friend, but because his work is awesome) and Amy Reeder.

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

    Markiewicz: I started the series old school, but I recently made the switch to a Cintiq. In fact, I went from real old school — with ink pens and brushes — to using markers and brush pens while drawing issue 1, and now I’m entirely digital. I also do the lettering, which was all digital from the beginning.

    TFAW: Right now, the series is planned for a 6-issue run. Do you have ideas for future arcs?

    Fisher: Without question. Adam and I truly love this broken, strange world and the people who inhabit it. We’ve outlined plots for a long stretch, with an opportunity to really expand the scope and stakes — so if readers are interested, there’s plenty of story to tell and more arcs will be coming.

    Detail #2 from The Great Divide
    Detail #2 from “The Great Divide”

    TFAW: What has it been like working with the folks over at Dynamite?

    Markiewicz: Any publisher that allows the amount of freedom we’ve had is top notch in my book. Especially when you consider that it’s a bit of a risk, backing a story with such unusual subject matter. It’s been great.

    Fisher: Dynamite has been an absolutely fantastic teammate throughout the process. Rich Young really championed the book early on in the pitch process and we will always be grateful for that — and to Nick Barrucci for having faith in the type of story we wanted to tell. Keith Davidsen and Anthony Marques have been invaluable keeping everything on track for the big launch in September (I know it’s not easy to corral us). And finally, although he doesn’t work at Dynamite, I’d be remiss to not give a shout out to my story editor, Jon Stark, who has made every script he’s touched better.

    TFAW: Who do you think is going to enjoy this series the most?

    Fisher: Certainly, anyone who enjoys dystopian subject matter like Walking Dead, Mad Max, or Y: The Last Man should have a good time in this world. But the series also focuses on our common fears of intimacy, human connection, and dysfunctional relationships in general, so fans of books like Sex Criminals and Pretty Deadly will also find our story touches on familiar themes in new ways.

    TFAW: What comics are you enjoying right now?

    Markiewicz: Hands down, my favorite comic right now is Rocket Girl. Ben also turned me on to Vision, which is an excellent read. I’d feel bad if I didn’t mention Nailbiter, but Lord knows Mike and Josh don’t need me to tell the world. I’ve been enjoying DKIII quite a bit, and Phil Noto‘s doing excellent work on the Poe Dameron book. Honestly, though, I just don’t get enough time to read comics. I’m too busy making them.

    Fisher: It’s truly a golden age for comics right now — there are so many great books on the shelf. I know I’m going to get in trouble for leaving brilliant titles off the list. But in addition to Adam’s recommendations, I can’t say enough nice things about Goddamned, East of West, Squirrel Girl, Monstress, and Injection. And I’m genuinely mad that I’m not writing Army of Darkness: Furious Road. It just oozes fun.

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  • Interview with Joelle Jones and Preview of Lady Killer 2 #1

    Interview with Joelle Jones

    lady killer 2, #1 coverWhat can be more all-American than a housewife who hosts Tupperware parties, has a hot meal on the table for her busy husband when he comes home, and is always ready with a kind word and plate of hot cookies for her children after a tough day of school? Well, if you’re Josie Schuller, you’ve got one more thing to juggle, because she’s also a killer, running a successful assassination business on the side. I mean, a girl’s gotta have something to break up the monotony, right?

    We first met Josie and the whole Schuller family in writer Joëlle Jones’ Eisner award-nominated Lady Killer series, but for the new storyline, they’ve just moved into a picture-perfect Cocoa Beach, Florida during the early years of the Space Race (the 1960s). Like Desperate Housewives, all the women in Cocoa Beach have lives completely independent of their worker-bee husbands, and while Josie is clearly trying to fit in with her Tupperware party, it’s a catty community of insecure, snotty women and she’s not really someone you want to piss off.

    The bigger problem is that someone else in the family actually knows her side job and doesn’t like it much at all. But would you want to confront the stone-cold killer in your family, or would you try your very best to stay on their good side? Yeah, me too.

    There’s a breezy fun about Jones’ story, a sort of Stepford Wives meets The Long Kiss Goodnight that is eminently readable — I’m definitely ready for the next installment as this first issue ends in a huge cliffhanger! — enhanced by the wonderful artwork of Michelle Madsen. Indeed, Madsen could easily be straight out of a time machine from an ad agency in the 1960’s, so faithfully does she capture technicolor shades of the era and enhances Jones’ art.

    Lady Killer 2 #1 Preview

    We were lucky to catch up with Joëlle to ask her a few questions about the Lady Killer 2 series. Here’s what she shared with us:

    TFAW: What was your original inspiration for the Lady Killer series? I loved the first series, where will you be taking Josie this time around?

    Joëlle Jones: The Schuller family has moved to Cocoa Beach, Florida, where life carries on as usual. Josie continues to juggle Tupperware parties, her kids, and a few human heads. However, when someone from her past tails her on a hit, she may be in for more than she bargained for.

    lady killer tpbTFAW: You chose a female protagonist with a decidedly dark side, then set it in ’60s America. What appeals to you about the tensions and duality of that era and her “side” job?

    Jones: I’ve always been drawn to stories about people with dual natures…and I thought setting the series in this particular time in American history really highlights that duality.

    TFAW: From the artwork, we figure that Lady Killer 2 takes place concurrent with the Space Race that was such a prominent part of Florida in the ’60s. Is that going to be woven into the story?

    Jones: Yes! Josie and her family move to Cocoa Beach because of her husband’s job. He works for a company that is connected to the aerospace industry..

    TFAW: Really love your style of art in this story too. How do you stay true to the ’60s artistic sensibility while still offering the visual pizazz that modern readers demand?

    Lady Killer 2 #1 PreviewJones: I’m constantly looking at the great illustrators from that mid-century period. I also try to keep up with current comics. So, I suppose those to things merge in my mind and translate to the page.

    TFAW: A family where Mom has a secret identity. Any chance Dad or the rather witchy mother-in-law might have something up their proverbial sleeve?

    Jones: Probably! But I’m not going to tell you about that here. I guess you’ll just have to read and find out!

    TFAW: You’ve brought Michelle Madsen in for the fun this time around. How did she become involved with Lady Killer 2?

    Jones: We only had Laura Allred for the first series and filling her shoes was a daunting task. I’ve always loved Michelle’s work and when we got the opportunity to bring her on to the team I was pleased as punch! She’s a perfect fit for the book. Amazing work!

    TFAW: For those who haven’t discovered Lady Killer yet, what’s your elevator pitch for the series?

    Jones: Ha! I get asked this a lot. “Donna Reed meets Dexter.”

    TFAW: What other projects are you working on right now?

    Jones: I’m going to be very busy for the next two years but I really can’t talk about it. Lots of exciting stuff!

    TFAW: What comic books are you enjoying right now?

    Jones: I just finished reading Harrow County and I loved it! Thought it was fantastic. I’ve been digging some of the DC Rebirth books and I’ve also been going back to some 90’s Punisher books. All great stuff!

    Lady Killer 2, #1, written by Joëlle Jones, art by Jones and Michelle Madsen. he first issue will arrive August 3, 2016, and the first two issues are available for pre-order – and you’ll want to pre-order this one, gang!

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  • Christopher Sebela Gives Us a Sneak Peek Inside the Newest Image Horror Series, “Demonic”

    Interview with Christopher Sebela

    demonic #1 coverNot only did I get a chance to read the first few issues of the upcoming Demonic series, but I also had a chance to hit up writer Christopher Sebela (High Crimes, We(l)come Back) with some questions about the series. And you’re going to love it!

    Demonic starts out as a classic cop drama, but there’s a weird undertone of demonic possession and a palpable presence of evil in the urban setting. The main characters are Scott and Dani, plainclothes beat cops who’ve been partners on the street for years. When a murder suspect bars herself in her apartment and drops the name Novo, Scott forces his way in for a private conversation, risking his life. But the murderer might be possessed or, worse, she might be evil itself, as she tells the cop “You’re already dead, just no one bothered to tell you.”

    Things then spin out of control for family man Scott, with the beautiful Aeshma showing up and offering a devil’s bargain of a life for a soul, and the story takes a decidedly dark twist as we learn about Scott’s background and his childhood. A childhood spent partially with the cult-like Novo clergy. A childhood that broke him, however much he seeks to heal or deny his past…

    TFAW: What’s the inspiration for the Demonic series? It’s a powerful storyline!

    Christopher Sebela: Thanks! Well, Demonic originally happened long before I showed up. Robert Kirkman and Marc Silvestri did the original #1 issue way back in 2009 as part of Top Cow’s Pilot Season. When I got asked to come on board and write the whole story, there was a lot of back and forth between myself, my editor Sean Mackiewicz and Robert. While we all liked that original #1 issue, we eventually came to the decision to take the foundation and rebuild it from the ground up.

    So, for me, the inspiration was very much about someone who appears to the world as a paragon of sorts and all the ugly things that everyone hides away under their exterior. Scott Graves is a cop, a husband, a father, he seemingly has it all, but he’s barely holding on to all of it. He’s had a lot of rough patches and is trying to be a better person, and the demons inside him become a bit more literal.

    TFAW: You chose a male protagonist to have a dark side as manipulated by Aeshma. Why male?

    Sebela: Scott Graves was already in place as the protagonist when I came on board, so I didn’t have a lot of choice there, but I thought it was an interesting dynamic to play with. Scott is, at first glance, very much the clean-cut, all-american generic hero-type dude role. And there’s nothing I love more than scraping away at that and showing how messed up people like that actually are when no one is looking. With Scott, it became about how he kind of deflects all the bad stuff he’s done onto other people in his life.

    demonic #1 sample artwork

    His partner, Dani, he pushes her away because of their past together. His wife and his daughter, he loves them, but he did wrong by them and maybe he kind of blames them for how hard he has to work at being a good person now. And Aeshma is the woman in his life of kind of exemplifies how he sees it all, a demon on his back who won’t let him forget who he is and what he did. It’s not a book that’s a huge screed about all this, but as tiny little subtle signifiers, I think it allows a couple of different ways to read into everything.

    TFAW: What city do you have in mind as the setting? New York, perhaps?

    Sebela: Yeah. At first I was going to sort of set it in “Anycity, USA” but the more I dug into Scott’s background and all the secrets that make up his life, it felt like a good match to put him in a city that gives off its own vibe of “greatest city in the world” but has a lot of corruption hidden away under the things we usually see in postcards and movies. NYC is a city that tears its past down and builds over it constantly, always trying to improve, always projecting a certain image, but it can never wipe away all those things that plagued it for so long. And still plague it. It’s very much is who Scott is, a guy who gives off one impression to everyone around him, but has a lot of ugliness tucked away under the surface.

    TFAW: Really love Niko Walter’s art in this story too. How did you connect with him?

    Sebela: That’s all due to my editor, Sean. He ran across Niko as we were working on the story and had that magic editorial eye that saw how his pages and my pages could come together to form something new and better. Collaboration is a weird alchemy and you can never tell exactly how it’s going to work out until you both get your hands dirty and start making the thing. Once I saw Niko’s initial pages, I was pretty excited about the kind of book Demonic was about to become.

    TFAW: Scott’s blade hand seems very Wolverine-like. An inspiration?

    Sebela: My head was a lot more in the horror sphere when working on Demonic, so I’d say Freddy Kreuger was a much more potent inspiration for me. The blades Scott wields as Demonic aren’t a part of him. They could just as easily have been bought at a flea market and shaped into the weapons he uses. I think there’s something infinitely more frightening about that, about knives as a whole, how they can be used, all the damage they can inflict while still leaving the victim alive. I think Wolverine would be way less likely to cut off pieces of a person with his claws than Scott is when he puts on his weapons.

    demonic #1 sample artwork 2

    TFAW: Who do you think is going to fall in love with this new series?

    Sebela: Definitely horror fans. And not just slasher enthusiasts, but the kind of slow burn horror in movies like The Babadook or The Witch, where you feel unsettled from the get-go but it’s no so much about the jump scare and the screaming as it is about the squirmy feelings and kind of mumbling “oh no” to themselves. People who like dramas like Breaking Bad or The Americans or Mr. Robot — anything that really gets in up to its waist in characters that feel real and slightly broken and seeing how they react when thrown into situations that are well beyond anything they’ve had to deal with before. I wouldn’t have signed on if there wasn’t the opportunity to really dig in to Scott and his family and his job and pick at the threads of these things to see what kind of corruption I can find.

    TFAW: What other books are you working on right now?

    Sebela: Right now I’ve got Heartthrob with Robert Wilson IV and Nick Filardi coming out from Oni Press, a sort of lighthearted romance/crime book about heart transplants and semi-imaginary boyfriends. Jonathan Brandon Sawyer and I have joined forces again after our book We(l)come Back. We’re doing a book at Stela that’s a grindhouse version of Thelma & Louise. I’m also working on a two-issue Killer Croc story for DC’s Suicide Squad: Most Wanted that I’m really excited for people to see. Lastly, I’ll be putting out a non-fiction book about the time I lived in Tonopah, Nevada’s Clown Motel for a whole month. And I have secret stuff I cannot talk about or someone will hurt me.

    TFAW: What comic books are you enjoying right now?

    Sebela: Right now I’m really digging Shawn Aldridge and Scott Godlewski’s The Dark and Bloody. Easily one of the best horror books being put out. Ed Brisson and Adam Gorham’s The Violent as I’m a big crime geek and Ed is a master of that. Kate Leth and Brittany Williams’ Hellcat is never not completely fun and a nice change of pace from my usual doom and gloom. Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s Lazarus is great and has been great through its whole run. Josh Williamson and Andrei Bressan’s Birthright is a fantasy book and I don’t normally like fantasy stuff, but it’s so well done I have no choice. Pretty Deadly and Bitch Planet from Kelly Sue are both masterpieces. Wicked + Divine. Sex Criminals. Harrow County. I have so many books on my list that are so good that they make me mad they’re that good. And they make me want to be better. But mostly mad.

    Thanks for the informative interview, Christopher! And readers, grab a pre-order of Demonic #1 now, while you can. We think they’re going to go fast!

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  • Exclusive Interview with Comic Artist Monte M. Moore

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

    I read comics from grade school through high school then my focus shifted to art, but then got reintroduced to comics in college in the early 90’s. My mom preferred we read comics that were not superhero/violent comics, so it was a real treat to borrow your friends X-Men and get to read them. Our own titles were more along the lines of Archie comics and Richie Rich when we would buy them at the supermarket. In high school a few of my favorite titles were Longshot (limited series) and the Eradicators which I think was drawn by Ron Lim. My best friend Steve Oatney whom I met in college frequented the local comics store in Ft. Collins Colorado where we became friends with the store manager. Through conversation the manager learned that I airbrushed and was an art major. He introduced me to some friends who were working on their first title, which leads me to your second question…

    Q: First published work?

    My first international published work was in high school, doing fashion illustrations for the Australian Outback Collection when another artist dropped the ball on some art, and I was hired to finish the project, I was only 17 at the time. That really gave me a confidence boost, and also paid for an entire semester of college. My first industry published work was a title to be called Lords of Light which was a self-published project that I was the colorist for, but this was before computers. The title was released under the title of just Lords due to another novel having a similar title, and we went to San Diego Comic-Con in 1993 to promote it. From then on, I knew I wanted to work in the comics, fantasy, gaming and sci-fi genres as an illustrator.

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

    I was always drawn towards the realists and very ‘tight’ illustrators, especially those who used the airbrush which I had been using since the late 80’s. Some of my biggest influences then were Sorayama, Olivia, Vargas, Elmore, Easley, Parkinson, Caldwell, Royo, Jusko, Vallejo, Bell and many others. In recent years I’ve gravitated towards learning more oil painting techniques and studied with mentor and master painter Frank Covino for almost two decades. Those influences include Renaissance artists like DaVinci and Michelangelo to more modern painters up through Adolphe Bouguereau and Beirstadt and now to modern painters like Patrick J. Jones and others.

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

    I believe you should use the best tool for the job. Ninety five or more percent of my work is ‘old school’ using oils, acrylics, pens, pencils and brushes, and most of that has to do with the personal satisfaction of holding a creation in your hands you can be proud of. The second and equally important reason is I have an original piece of art to sell to collectors, which is well over half my total income. I feel today’s new/young artists are doing themselves a giant disservice by not learning traditional media and focusing on only digital. Yes it’s very fast, yes it’s very handy but with no original, no sale of the original art other than mere reproductions. Honestly I think the traditional artist will always find more success in the industry than the strictly digital ones. I do own a Cintiq tablet and portable Wacom, I use them every day for compositing images, retouching and scanning of art. It’s a great tool, but should be one of only many in an artist’s arsenal and not be the sole tool.

    Monte M. Moore sample illustration page

    Q: What are you reading nowadays?

    The last few years almost all the books I read are books on screenwriting and film making. I’m all about learning new things and that is one of my focuses. I’ve written 10 screenplays and sold 8 screen options with 2 feature films already having been made. So when I have free time (which isn’t often) I prefer to use that to better myself as a writer/filmmaker rather than pure escapism. I probably have an overdeveloped work ethic, which keeps me from sitting down and reading a ‘good book’.

    Q: Favorite comic book -> movie adaptation?

    My favorite book to film adaptation is the Lord of the Rings trilogy which I absolutely love, and is my favorite book series of all time. I think my favorite two comic book to movie adaptations both come from Frank Miller books, and are 300 and Sin City. There are many other quality ones out there, and I actively watch shows like Arrow, Jessica Jones, Gotham and Daredevil on TV which I think have stellar writing and production.

    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 personally believe in being well-rounded as an artist and fashion myself a bit of a Renaissance Man. Even though I can’t ‘do it all, all the time’ I often do so. On my current project Blood N’ Bullets I’ve hired Brazilian artist Leonardo Gondim to do the pencils and will be working with he and Jeff Moy on my Loco Hero project. On Blood N’Bullets I’m actually doing the writing, coloring and lettering and working digitally. On a single one-shot title from two decades ago called Bloodlines, I was the illustrator and letterer and went with a multi-media approach using 6-8 different media that included pens, pencils, acrylics, torn paper, ballpoint pen, airbrush and pastel pencil. The story was written by friend Steve Oatney and was published by Moonstone comics who publish Kolchak: The Night Stalker, the Phantom and other titles. One of the pages from Bloodlines is just above, notice how the original text is on the page itself, and not added in later, you don’t see that much anymore either.

    Also included is a cover illustration with both black and white prelim drawing, as well as the finished Cavewoman cover:

    monte m moore 'cavewoman' sketch and paint
    Monte M. Moore, “Cavewoman”

    Q: What’s next for your career?

    For nearly a decade I mostly worked in the table top gaming field, and now the last few years almost exclusively in comics as a cover artist, so now I am seeking a bit of a balance. My goal is to take on fewer projects, and be able to spend more time on them, and add in more fine art projects that will be for sale. I’m interested in doing some Western Art in oils and other mediums, and have cut back on some comics clients. My focus will still be on cover art for my clients, but I also have two comics projects of my own that are based on screenplays I have written called Blood N’Bullets which is under option, and an episodic TV pilot script called Loco Hero that is of the superhero/comics genre. I’d like to get those off the ground and land a literary agent in Hollywood to represent my screenwriting interests.

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

    I think my most recent Cavewoman cover is a great representation of my fully painted style, which includes a combination of colored pencils, gouache and airbrushed/hand painted acrylics. You don’t see many fully painted covers in the industry as much as you used to, which is kinda sad.

    Q: Oh, where were you born, what did you study in college — if you went! — and what are the names of your pets, if you have any?

    Born in Phoenix, raised in Idaho with summers spent on a cattle ranch, then moved to Colorado my senior year of high school. I went to Colorado State University and have Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. No pets at the moment, used to have a large oscar fish named Luca Brasi cause he ‘slept with the fishes’. I also had a horse as a kid and since I was a huge fantasy fan and D&D player, my horse’s name was Pegasus from Clash of the Titans…of course.

    Q: What do you think the benefits are to going to school and getting an art education if you want to be a pro artist?

    Many think they can just practice on their own and will find success, and many have. But you have to remember all the other stuff you learn and are exposed to that the artist at home won’t be, such as weekly live figure drawing, learning to work on team projects, hitting deadlines, how to take a public critique from teacher and classmates, 4 years of art history, classes in design, pottery, color theory and the list goes on. There are some very successful artists who learn a certain style, and may find success in it, but I think the well rounded artists who are versatile, professional and timely will always find much more success and opportunities.

    To get in touch with Monte, please check out his site Mavarts.com, or find him on Facebook.

    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.

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  • Exclusive Interview with Comic Artist Karl Christian Krumpholz

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

    Like a lot of people, my first exposure as a child to comics were the ones in the newspaper: Bloom County, The Far Side, Calvin and Hobbes, etc. That pretty much lit the fire under me even if I was too young to understand all the political jokes happening in Bloom County. After that, I started finding comics in the local shops. It was the mid-80s so the X-Men were all over the place, so I easily fell into that hole. As I got older, I quickly drifted toward the alternative comics: Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children, Milk & Cheese, Raw, Hate, Eightball, etc.

    Q: First published work?

    I started doing crudely made ‘zine’ comics in the late 90s and kinda went from there, learning how to lay out a page and so forth. The my first published comic was Byron by SLG Publishing. That was around 2009. Since then, I’ve been self publishing most of my work.

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

    Looking back, Evan Dorkin’s work probably had the biggest influence on me. His comics like ‘Pirate Corps/Hectic Planet’ caused me to start thinking about smaller stories about characters and relationships.

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

    Pretty much a mix of both. I create everything with pencils, crowquils, and bristol, scan it into my Mac, and add greyscale electronically to the finished work. I recently started hand lettering my comics and annoyed with myself that I didn’t start doing that sooner. Same with hand coloring my work.

    Q: What are you reading nowadays?

    I just picked up Chester Brown and Noah Van Sciver’s new books the other day. Other than that, I’ve been reading a lot of comic reprints of older comics lately: Little Nemo, Krazy Kat, and the reprints of old EC horror comics from the 50s.

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

    Comic: Maakies by Tony Millionaire

    Movie adaption: Bukowski’s Barfly film? Does that count? Aside from Tom Waits, Bukowski’s work probably had the most affect upon what I’m doing in my comics.

    TV Show: Doctor Who. Hands down. Peter Capaldi has been knocking it out of the park. I’ve been watching the show since was young. Yes like many people, my first Doctor was Tom Baker, though I do have a soft spot for Sylvester McCoy.

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

    Sure. Here is an illustration I recently did that will likely be the cover of my next 30 Miles collection. With this piece, everything was hand done aside from the final coloring. The original for this piece is about 7” x 33”. I knew I wanted a large panoramic illustration of one of my favorite sections of Colfax Ave (here in Denver… Once called “The Longest Wickedest Street in America” by Playboy magazine.) I got the size of the piece from taping two pieces of bristol lengthwise together.

    East Colfax sketch by Karl Christian Krumpholz. Pencils.
    East Colfax sketch by Karl Christian Krumpholz. Pencils.
    East Colfax sketch by Karl Christian Krumpholz. Black & White
    East Colfax sketch by Karl Christian Krumpholz. Black & White.
    East Colfax sketch by Karl Christian Krumpholz. Grey.
    East Colfax sketch by Karl Christian Krumpholz. Grey.
    East Colfax sketch by Karl Christian Krumpholz. Duotone.
    East Colfax sketch by Karl Christian Krumpholz. Duotone.

    Q: What’s next for your career?

    Continuing to do more 30 Miles of Crazy! (which comes out weekly) and publishing the third collection in the next couple months, more Bootleg comics for the Westword (which is also weekly), getting started on the WW1 story that’s been in my head for a couple years, and likely getting some sort of cocktail later. Probably bourbon.

    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’m originally from Philadelphia, PA, went to school at Temple University, studied photography and history (with art on the side), moved to Boston for several years, and suddenly found myself in Denver, CO for the last couple years. I have have two cats: Cattywhompus and Uisce Beatha. They stalk me for food.

    You can find me at Karl Christian Krumpholz.com or on Facebook.

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  • Exclusive Interview: Artist Mark Wheatley

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    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.

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  • Exclusive Interview: Artist Matt Haley

    22073

    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!

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  • Exclusive Interview with writer Scott Davis

    22036

    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.

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  • Exclusive Interview with Cover Artist Adam Riches

    22010

    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.

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  • Interview with Comic Artist Mike Baron

    21978

    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.

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