Tag: Evan Dorkin

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    Things That Go Bump in the Night

    Let’s face it, people love to be scared. There is a catharsis in scary stories — they allow us to face our fears but in a safe setting. It’s one of the reasons horror movies are popular and profitable.

    So, it’s no surprise that comics have a long tradition of horror stories. Going back to classic anthology series like Creepy or Eerie, comics readers have always had a fascination with macabre and the terrifying.

    Every medium has its own strengths and weaknesses in regards to telling stories in specific genres. Films tell horror stories use the unique combination of picture and sound to create atmosphere and build scares. Comics obviously lack the ability to create terror aurally or with rapid editing. This in no way makes horror comics less terrifying, it simply means they must rely on a different bag of tools to scare the pants off of readers.

    Comics are a medium built on turning two-dimensional drawings on a page into fully realized characters and worlds. In reading comics we as readers are asked to bring a lot to a story. We dictate the pace of the panels, the speed of the dialogue, and how long we linger on certain images. Our emotional investment must be extremely high to create a willingness to engage with the comic. To be scared we have to give ourselves over to the horror crafted by the creative team of book.

    Horror as the Backdrop for Morality

    walking-dead There’s no way to talk about modern horror comics without bringing up The Walking Dead, written by Robert Kirkman and drawn in its first six issues by Tony Moore and subsequently by Charlie Adlard. The Walking Dead is unquestionably one of the most popular and successful comics of the modern era. While being a horror story, this is a book with mass appeal. Just look at the monster success of the television adaptation. One of the big keys to the book’s success is that the zombie apocalypse is a backdrop for a moving and deeply tragic morality tale. The Walking Dead is about struggling to survive through hopelessness.

    In issue 24 of the comic, our protagonist Rick Grimes ends an epic speech with the line: “We are the Walking Dead.” It’s true, the characters of this book are doomed their only fate appears to be death or becoming part of the mass of flesh eating zombies. While this may seem incredibly grim, it actually allows Kirkman the opportunity to write a book examining the qualities of humanity that individuals and society hold most dear. While there is certainly dread in the frequent death or zombification of beloved characters, the book’s main focus is on the cost of survival. The moral debate at the center of the story is about what’s the point of surviving if we lose our humanity in the process.


    Real Villains and the Potential for a Happy Ending

    The Strain Comics at TFAW.comThe struggle for humanity takes on a much more literal meaning in The Strain. Based on the series of popular novels, writer David Lapham and artist Mike Huddleston bring the story to comics. The Strain is about the apocalyptic spread of a virus that turns people into vampires.

    Unlike the faceless cause of zombies in The Walking Dead, The Strain has a tangible villain at the core of its story. The Master is a centuries-old creature of evil with a plot to take over the world. Our heroes are not doomed. The Strain instead takes on more of a war story vibe. This is about humanity’s struggle against an oppressor and conceivably this battle can be won. There is a potential happy ending possible in this world.

    It’s that hope that can actually be terrifying in The Strain. Instead of a world that’s already ended for all intents and purposes we see our world slipping into darkness and desperately root for our heroes to return things to normal.


    The Setting Amps up the Fear

    harrowWhile The Walking Dead and The Strain are urban nightmares about the dissolution of society, there is also room for more gothic horror in comics. Harrow County by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook is a creepy and wonderfully unsettling piece of Southern Gothic storytelling. Focusing on a small town’s fears of a young girl becoming a witch, there is a streak of paranoia that runs throughout the book. Of course, there’s the classic (and historical) image of a mob of frightened townsfolk trying to burn a witch. But there’s also the paranoia of one’s own destiny. If you’re told you’re going to be evil and do wicked things, does that mean your fate is sealed?

    Playing on the classic horror trope of the fear of the matured woman and the power she can wield, Bunn and Crook also bring in plenty of eerie imagery. Images of a skinless boy and of course, his now sentient skin crossed with fiery ghosts and mulit-eyed monsters will stick with readers long after they put the book down. Especially, when they are presented in Crook’s dreamy hauntingly beautiful watercolor panels.


    Delving into Madness

    Pixu graphic novel at TFAW.comPlaying into it’s own disturbing imagery though in a much more stark manner is Pixu from the Eisner winning team of Gabriel Bá, Becky Cloonan, Fábio Moon, and Vasilis Lolos. Pixu delves deep into a Lovecraftian tale of madness and ever-encroaching darkness. The book bounces around a collection of tenants in an apartment complex. The disparate stories start to intertwine as the madness of the characters grows. This book plays on one’s fear of losing one’s sanity, a potent and always horrific concept especially in the hands of such masters of the medium.


    Humans Aren’t the Only Heroes

    Beasts of Burden at TFAW.comFor those looking for something a little more off the beaten path, there is Beasts of Burden from Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson. It’s your classic paranormal investigation team story, except all the investigators are dogs and cats. While this may sound like a cute and cuddly kids book, it’s straight up horror (with a bit of a wink). These household pets battle with a cannibalistic frog, cat witches, and even team up with Hellboy in one story. For those looking to balance their monsters and supernatural entities with adorable animals here is a book for you.


    So, it’s clear horror is alive and well in the comics world. There are plenty of stories out there to give you creeps, but hopefully now you might have a greater understanding of why they scare you. Monsters and creepy imagery are a hugely necessary part of a horror story, but the sign of a great one is an emotional resonance that sticks with you long after the story is finished.


    What’s your favorite horror comic? Join the conversation by posting your comments below!

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    Exclusive Interview with Comic Artist Karl Christian Krumpholz

    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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    New Comic Book Day — Reviews for Punisher, 4001 A.D., Daredevil/Punisher, Beasts of Burden

    New week, new comics. For this New Comic Book Day we get Punished twice, go into the future with Valiant, a cat gives us a little present, and the Flash goes head strong into issue #51. As always these are only a select set of new releases that stood out from the crowd. Check out our other blog articles so see our thoughts on other books. Be sure to comment or share our post on Facebook or Twitter if you like our articles!

    SPOILER ALERT — We try to keep from posting spoilers, but one may sneak through to our reviews now and again. Read with caution, true believers.

    Punisher #1
    By: Becky Cloonan, Steve Dillon, Declan Shalvey

    It’s finally here the book that you’ve been waiting for! In the midst of all the crazy alien invasions and huge battles going on with the Avengers, there’s still street gangs and drug runners slipping through the cracks. Pushing weapons onto the streets and a new drug that makes anyone an unstoppable killing machine. The police can only do so much without crossing over the line. Who will inflict the justice that is sorely in need? Frank Castle “The Punisher“! He is judge, jury and executioner against all injustice in the streets of New York and will not stop until justice is served. In this breakout issue Frank runs into a ghost from his past that will change the course of things to come.

    Becky Cloonan (Demo and Southern Cross) picks up were Iconic writers Garth Ennis and Jason Aaron left off with Steve Dillon (Preacher, Hellblazer, Punisher Max). This is a perfect Punisher books with a fresh take from an incredible team. [Steve at Milwaukie TFAW]

    4001 A.D. #1
    By: Matt Kindt, Clayton Crain

    New Japan is a group of sectors that hovers in Earth’s orbit, an actual satellite nation, in the future. The A.I. construct who controls the functions and populace of this seeming utopia is called Father, whose champion is known as Rai, who has been jettisoned back down to the Earth. This series jumps right in without requiring any previous investment in the Valiant universe. The artwork is glorious, as you’d expect from Clayton Crain and David Mack, while the tapestry is designed by the phenomenal mind of Matt Kindt.

    Valiant are inclined to keep you wanting more, as their events are typically only 4 issues long, as this is. If you thirst for more, you can read the additional tie-ins (bringing the entire saga to only 12 issues, with checklist printed on the back of the issue) to fill your craving for this futuristic amazement! If that doesn’t wet your appetite, check out Rai , X-O Manowar , and Eternal Warrior , all of whom you will glimpse in 4001 A.D. This series already subtly examines the consequences that are linked to heroic actions, and further develops an interesting and new view of the fallout, from when a hero has already made a noble sacrifice. This one is a trip worth taking! [Casey D. at TFAW.com]

    Daredevil/Punisher #1
    By: Charles Soule, Szymon Kudranski, Reilly Brown

    Netflix’s Daredevil series introduced the MCU, and the world to Frank Castle aka The Punisher. It’s only fitting that we get another taste of that Daredevil vs Punisher story. Taking from Charles Soule’s current series, Daredevil has help from his partner, Blindspot. Let’s be honest here, he’s going to need it.

    As Matt Murdock gets ready for a prisoner transport of a Russian Mobster, Frank does his best to punish. Now Daredevil and Punisher have a score to settle. Pitting them against each other, and the Russian Mob. But how does Blindspot react when he’s introduced to the “hero” that is The Punisher? [Martin M. at TFAW.com]

    Beasts of Burden: What the Cat Dragged In
    By: Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, Jill Thompson

    In this One-Shot issue the newest member to the Beasts of Burden comes under scrutiny for their past. Dymphna a familiar, has kept secrets from her group. They intend to find out what she’s been keeping from them. It’s safe to say, it’s more than they asked for!

    Beast of Burden has been and still is a fantastic series. Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer are fantastic in this series. The fun and creepiness is there, with relatable characters, even though they’re all animals.

    Jill Thompson paints her heart out on every page. It’ beautiful to look at. She does this great job with cat reactions in this issue. I can see my cats doing the exact same movement and jumps as we find out friends going on their adventure.

    If you like supernatural tales or want a series that only involves animals. Than this “Homeward Bound” meets Constantine is the series for you! [Martin M. at TFAW.com]

    What did you think of these books? What should we review next week? Let us know below!

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    Evan Dorkin Reveals What’s Next for Beasts of Burden & Milk and Cheese

    Dark Horse Presents #6What could be better than sweet, furry animals who become friends and allies–so that they can guard their neighborhood against supernatural creatures, ghosts, and other horrific happenings? When Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson’s amazing Beasts of Burden got its own miniseries in 2009, horror fans cheered in delight. Now they’re back again with a series of stories in Dark Horse Presents, including the brand-new #6!

    As part of Dark Horse Month, we interviewed writer Evan Dorkin about the past and future of Beasts of Burden, as well as the Milk and Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad hardcover, collecting “every single stupid Milk and Cheese comic ever made from 1989 to 2010.” Have these toxic dairy products mellowed since their last appearance in MySpace Dark Horse Presents? Read on to learn more, plus enjoy previews of DHP #6 and Milk and Cheese!

    (Psst! Many of the books we talk about in this interview are currently 70% off–and will be 80% off starting 11/25! Sale ends 11/30.)

    TFAW.com: When I first saw Beasts of Burden, it was totally unlike anything I had ever seen–was it a kids book? A horror book? Where did the initial idea come from, and how did it develop?

    Evan Dorkin: Back in 2003 Scott Allie was putting together the Dark Horse Book of Hauntings anthology and asked me to contribute a script to it. After kicking around some haunted house ideas, I came up with an idea for a story called “Stray” about a haunted dog house. The plot fell into place pretty easily and I had Jill’s art in mind while working it out. I love Jill’s work, we’ve known each other for years, and I was very happy that she agreed to work with me on the story. “Stray” was supposed to be a one-off story, there was no plan to continue it any further, but one thing led to another and we ended up doing three follow-up stories with the characters, which led to a miniseries in 2009.

    As far as what Beasts of Burden is, I consider it a horror series first and foremost, but it has fantasy, humor, and romance elements as well. It’s like a dark storybook for kids and adults.

    Beasts of Burden Dark Horse Presents #6 Page 1TFAW.com: In my mind, Pugsly is definitely the breakout star. Do you have a favorite character?

    EV: I’m partial to the Orphan because he’s based on my cat, Crushy, who died earlier this year. And while I love dogs, I’ve never owned one. Pugs is definitely the most fun character to write, and readers have really responded well to him. We have Jill to thank for him being in the book, when we first discussed “Stray” she asked me to have one of the dogs be a pug. He’s turned out to be a really crucial character, he balances the book out, being our cynic and big mouth. I know it sounds corny, but I honestly love all the characters, they mean a lot to me, and it’s hard not to love a bunch of dogs and cats, especially the way Jill paints them.

    TFAW.com: What can fans expect from your Beasts story in DHP #6?

    EV: The story goes into some of the early history of the Wise Dog Society. The bulk of it takes place in medieval England, and I think it’s a nice change of pace for the series. There’s also a story-within-a-story, so we get a lot done in eight pages. I wanted the three DHP stories to be complete, but still give readers more information about the characters and their world that moves the overall narrative forward. It’s something we try to do with every story.

    TFAW.com: Is Beasts going to continue in DHP? Do you have another miniseries in the works?

    EV: We have a third story finished for DHP, which I thought would be scheduled for #8, but it’s not in the book’s solicitation. I assume it’ll run in #9. I hope it will. Beyond that, there will be more Beasts stories as soon as schedules allow. Fingers crossed.

    Beasts of Burden Dark Horse Presents #6 Page 2TFAW.com: The Hellboy/Beasts of Burden one-shot was so fantastic–Hellboy really meshed well with the Wise Dogs Society. What other comic book characters do you wish would “visit” Beasts of Burden?

    EV: I can’t think of anyone. I was originally against the idea of the Hellboy crossover because I didn’t think it would work. Because I’m dumb. That being said, I would have liked to do a story showing what happened when Lobster Johnson was “fetched” by the Wise Dogs in the ’30s, as alluded to in the end of the Hellboy comic. But I was the only one into that idea. These things happen.

    TFAW.com: For fans who know you from Milk and Cheese, this is quite a departure for you. What attracted you to Beasts?

    EV: I’ve always wanted to work on horror comics, my two favorite genres are humor and horror, but I never felt confident enough to pitch any of my horror ideas to anyone. Scott knew I was into horror stuff–I’d done a Hellboy: Weird Tales story for him, and that may be what led to him asking me to contribute to the Book of Hauntings. People who only know my humor work see Beasts as a departure, but I’ve written non-humor material before, I wrote Predator and Mask comics for Dark Horse, I’ve done a few straight superhero jobs for Marvel and DC, and my wife Sarah [Dyer] and I wrote for the Superman and Batman Beyond animated shows. Beasts is the first creator-owned project I’ve done that wasn’t a humor book, and I guess the first non-humor project of mine that anyone’s really supported, so I guess it comes as a surprise to some people that the dogs aren’t drunks who curse at everything.

    TFAW.com: This has been bugging me since DHP #4: is Rex’s owner, who doesn’t seem to be a responsible pet owner, going to get his?

    EV: The subject of Rex’s owner will be returned to at some point down the line.

    Milk and Cheese Dairy Products Gone Bad Page 1TFAW.com: You created stories years ago for the first volume of DHP, with Milk and Cheese and Hectic Planet. What’s it like returning for volume two?

    EV: This is actually the third version of Dark Horse Presents, I did a Milk and Cheese strip for MySpace Dark Horse Presents, the online version. I’m very happy to be in DHP, I’m happy that DHP‘s back, and I’m happy there’s an anthology around that wants me to do stories for them and has a budget of some sort. Anthologies were my meat back in the ’90s. I’m a short-story guy, and there’s been no real paying venue for my stuff for some time, so DHP‘s return has been very welcome.

    TFAW.com: What do you enjoy most about the short-story format? What does it offer that a serialized story doesn’t?

    EV: I like short stories because I feel I can control them–I can figure out what goes where and how it ends, tie it up and move on. I don’t have a lot of confidence in my ability to write longer pieces, I worry I’m going to lose the threads of the narrative and it’ll just be a mess. Or that there isn’t enough material to support a longer piece. That being said, I really do like the short-story format, in prose and comics. I like anthologies, I miss the days when there was more of a market for them.

    TFAW.com: In addition to DHP, you also have the massive Milk and Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad hardcover coming out. How involved were you in putting together this collection?

    Milk and Cheese Dairy Products Gone Bad Page 2EV: Sarah and I were very much involved, Sarah in fact did a tremendous amount of work on the book. It was a very difficult and labor-intensive process, because the bulk of the Milk and Cheese material was pre-digital, and I don’t have a lot of the artwork for the early issues. It was a real haul to find the best sources for some of the strips and pin-ups. Sarah did a lot of corrective work herself, and I re-lettered and drew patches for a number of strips that needed propping up.

    We worked out the page order and the back-up sections, we designed the front cover, and I wrote the solicitation. I’d say Sarah spent a few months on this book working with Scott, and especially Daniel Chabon, at Dark Horse, who in turn worked with Dark Horse’s production department to make this the best book possible. I’m very pleased with the results and we’re all very, very happy we’re done working on it.

    TFAW.com: Did you discover any stories that you had forgotten about?

    EV: The only surprise I had going through the comics was that the early artwork was even worse than I remembered, and there are a few side jokes and bits of business that I repeated more often than I’d remembered. By the way, there are no stories in the book. There’s just stuff that happens.

    TFAW.com: How have Milk and Cheese grown as characters since 1989? Are they kinder, gentler dairy products of destruction?

    Milk and Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad HCEV: They’ve only gotten worse over time. They’re very frustrated that they haven’t become licensed cartoon stars and pissed off about the rising cost of beer and cable.

    TFAW.com: The solicitation copy mentions new Milk and Cheese stories are coming up in DHP–when will they debut?

    EV: I assume they’re running next year. I’ve finished up the first one, which Sarah is coloring. We should have a full announcement on what I’m doing next for DHP sometime soon.

    Our thanks to Evan Dorkin for his speedy response to our interview questions. Make sure to check out DHP and Milk and Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad now!



    Did the Milk and Cheese previews make you flashback to the ’90s, too? Are you excited for more Beasts of Burden? Post your comments below!

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    Exclusive Preview: Beasts of Burden #1

    I admit, when I first heard about Beasts of Burden, I wasn’t too jazzed. A group of pets band together to fight the supernatural forces of evil? Riiigghhht. Then I heard it was written by Evan Dorkin, creator of the savagely subversive (and hilarious) Milk and Cheese series, with painted covers and interiors by Jill Thompson from Invisibles and Hellboy: Weird Tales (and who also gave the funniest acceptance speech at the Eisners this year). Then I read the short stories from the Dark Horse Book of anthology series, as well as Beasts of Burden #1.

    I was pretty much completely won over. Beasts of Burden isn’t a kid’s book–this isn’t Milo and Otis Meet a Ghost. The characters are well developed, by turns funny, brave, sorrowful, cowardly, noble, and wise. The stories are creepy. The artwork is gorgeous, skillfully rendering both the sun-filled front yards of the characters’ neighborhood as well as the spooky, ominous shadows of the nearby forest. And the monsters? Gross!!!! In a nutshell: giant carnivorous toad made of lots of little toads. It was awesome!

    The best way to see what I’m talking about is to view Beasts of Burden for yourself. To that end, we have a First Look of the first three pages, as well as an exclusive preview of pages four through six right here on this blog! You can also read the earlier short stories right here.

    So what do you think? Are you intrigued by a canine/feline-populated horror comic? Have you added Beasts of Burden to your pull list? Post your comments below!

    Beasts of Burden Preview Beasts of Burden Preview Beasts of Burden Preview

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