Tag: Grimm Fairy Tales

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    SDCC ’11: Raven Gregory Talks Fly, Theater & Dream Eaters Saga

    At this year’s Comic-Con we had the pleasure of sitting down with Zenescope writer and marketing maven Raven Gregory, the writer behind Grimm Fairy Tales, the debut issues of Charmed (with Paul Ruditis), The Waking, and more. He updated us on his upcoming series, Fly and Theater, and told us why he’s not doing another large crossover like the Grimm Fairy Tales Dream Eaters’ Saga anytime soon! Watch below:

    Raven Gregory Comics

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    Are you reading the Grimm Fairy Tales Dream Eaters’ Saga? Are you excited to read Fly? Post your comments below!

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    Comic Book Reviews: Superman Earth One, Beasts of Burden/Hellboy & More

    New Reviews of This Week’s Releases!

    Happy Halloween! In honor of the upcoming holiday, we dressed up for this week’s comic book reviews–you’ll have to watch the video below to see our costumes, however! This week we review Superman: Earth One, Beasts of Burden/Hellboy, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home Ras Al Gul, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home Oracle, Avengers #6, Action Comics #894, Incognito: Bad Influences #1, Fantastic Four #584, Grimm Fairy Tales Halloween Special 2010, Mini Star Wars Monster Mashups, and the Dexter Bust.

    Beasts of Burden Hellboy

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    So, how’d you like our costumes? What are you dressing up as this year? Post your ideas below!

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    TFAW Covers Artist Mike DeBalfo of Zenescope

    Mike DeBalfoFans of dynamic cover art and sexy ladies, you’re going to want to read this interview! We’ve got an exclusive interview with cover artist Mike DeBalfo as part of our epic Zenescope Month. DeBalfo, who counts Eric Basuldua (Ebas) and J. Scott Campbell among his inspirations, actually broke into the comics industry as a cover artist–an almost unheard-of feat today–and has worked on everything from Grimm Fairy Tales to Wonderland.

    Now I, personally, feel a little intimidated interviewing artists, since I’m not one myself and I’m not sure which questions are relevant and which showcase my total n00b status. So I’m really gratified that DeBalfo talked in-depth about his techniques and what he thinks makes a strong cover. Read his often amusing take below:

    TFAW.com: Hi Mike. Thanks for the interview!

    Mike DeBalfo: Thank you for having me, the pleasure is mine. I’d like to apologize for my typos in advance.

    TFAW.com: When did you realize you wanted to be an artist?

    MD: I suppose it was around the age 9 or 10 when it occurred to me that I had potential to do something in the art field. I’ve always liked to draw, but around that time is when I had realized I was pretty good at it compared to the rest of the kids I knew. I was really into the Warner Bros cartoons growing up so early on I wanted to be an animator for their studio for several years, until I discovered comic book art in the late ’80s. I was just memorized by the attention to detail, the gritty look of the dudes, the hot chicks, and the fact that I didn’t have to pause the TV to draw my favorite characters. It was a like discovering a whole new world.

    Mike DeBalfo Wonderland CoverTFAW.com: Were you a comic book fan growing up?

    MD: A bit of a late bloomer but, yes, definitely. It was hard for us to find books when I was a kid, though. The only place we really had to buy comics was a deli located a few miles down the street from where I lived that my friends and I would frequent.

    At the time there wasn’t a single comic book store within 40 miles of our town in New Jersey, so this was literally the only place for us to buy them. They never had a steady selection of books because the owners didn’t know squat about comics, so they just bought what looked cool to them I guess. I suppose they selected the books by their cover content. Haha. It was sometimes tough to collect a consistent run in any series, but I was always more into the artwork so I didn’t mind too much.

    Their inventory was just two short comic boxes placed on a counter in the back of the store next to a Mortal Kombat 2 arcade game, and rarely was there more than three copies of any book in this place, so between the four of us it was sometimes a rat race to get the newest issue of X-Men or Wizard Magazine or anything else that was hot in the early ’90s.

    Our parents worked all day and our town was in serious neglect of establishing any means of public transportation or even sidewalks, so we would ride our bikes toe-to-toe with speeding traffic to get our comics. In the winter we would walk the miles on foot down the same curb-less streets through snow storms to feed the fix . . . I must sound like someone’s grandfather right now. From age 12 to 15 we risked our lives and well being for comics, so it’s nice to know it’s starting to pay off. Haha.

    TFAW.com: Do you have any formal training, or are you just naturally talented?

    Pencils for Grimm Fairy Tales #47 CoverMD: I spent a couple of years at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, so I’ve had formal training, but I wasn’t able to complete the full three-year program. After my second year I just couldn’t afford the third year so I had to leave prematurely, so sometimes I feel that I missed out on a nice learning curve. But even though they broke the mold, taught me a lot, and instilled the basics of the comic book style, I’ve learned a little extra on my own since I’ve left–it’s just taken a lot longer to get to the level I wanted to be at.

    TFAW.com: How did you get connected with Zenescope?

    MD: I had made acquaintance with Raven Gregory several years ago before he was working with Zenescope, and he had taken some interest in what I do back then. When I found out he was writing the Wonderland series for them, I had a friend of mine bring an issue to a convention that Raven was signing at, because I couldn’t make it to do so myself. Long story short, my name was dropped into the conversation and Raven remembered me and passed his current email address through my buddy to me. Before I could even contact Raven, he had sent me an email offering up some cover work, so I jumped on it like a fly on turds and the rest is pretty much history.

    TFAW.com: What made you decide to work for Zenescope exclusively?

    MD: Primarily, their subject matter is right up my alley: hot chicks and cleavage! Also we’d worked together enough that both Zenescope and myself knew what to expect from each other, so it wouldn’t be a tough transition getting “married” to the company. Also, I know my situation is extremely rare and extremely lucky, because no one breaks in as a cover artist–it’s just not how things work. I seriously wanted to make this a career, so when they offered me an exclusive contract that would guarantee steady work I felt it would be worth trying.

    Grimm Fairy Tales Halloween Special 2009 CoverI had created a nice little fan base of a few thousand people through websites like DeviantART.com and other networking websites on my own, so when Zenescope offered to start sending me out to conventions and further spread the word, I figured why the hell not–it won’t hurt any. One of the toughest and most important things to do as a freelance artist is promote your name. It can get real expensive and tiring, and without a history on any consistent story run, it would be even harder for me to do that on my own, so when Zenescope offered to help out I couldn’t pass that up.

    TFAW.com: As you mentioned, it’s really unusual for an artist to break into the industry as a cover artist. How did that happen for you?

    MD: Luck. Haha. That’s really what it was: just right place, right time and right company. In a normal month Zenescope puts out a minimum of two covers for all of their top titles, so there’s a demand for freelance cover artists in the company. Raven had me do some spec/test covers for free to see how I dealt with deadlines and their characters. I submitted a new spec cover every Monday for about two months when finally I scored a cover for Wonderland Annual 2009. Immediately after that, I did another spec cover and they used it for a Tales From Wonderland variant on the Cheshire Cat one-shot. After that, I became the guy who never stopped bugging them for open cover slots and never turned down an offer for work. It took some time, but has led to a steady gig for me now.

    I was told for a while the guys in the office were referring to me as “Ebas-light,” which they thought was hilarious, but I couldn’t help but take that comment as a compliment. Being a rookie and having these guys–who have worked with greats like Al Rio, Campbell, David Finch, Talent Caldwell, etc.–compare me to someone of that stature was kind of cool. It assured me that they were genuinely interested in what I was producing and not just taking me around the block for kicks. Of course, I was real cheap, so I’m sure that helped too. Haha.

    Tales From Wonderland CoverTFAW.com: Do you have any advice for aspiring cover artists?

    MD: If someone offers you a cover, whether you’re in the biz or not, make that cover shine like chrome. I approached my first several covers with “this has to be the best damn picture I’ve ever drawn” looming in the back of my mind, and though I can’t say I succeeded in accomplishing that task all the time, I did give it my all every time. Hype yourself up a bit and know that a lot of people are going to pass or bite on this book based solely on your cover image.

    Study design and composition and learn to make it second nature to yourself. Learn how to place your characters, elements, and props to work together and avoid stiff composition. Again, I don’t always have the best layouts, but every once in while I really knock it out of the park, and sometimes it’s based mostly on the design of the cover. A good layout will make your work look more professional, and of course more appealing to the eye. I like to incorporate a lot of movement in my images, which helps me work things out. Even if the characters are standing still, there’s usually hair moving or leaves blowing by or something to imply drama.

    Most importantly, though, nail down your anatomy. There’s little room for forgiveness of anatomical errors on a cover. With interior pages, you have several pictures throughout 22 pages to convince your audience that you can draw well. With covers, you have one shot.

    TFAW.com: What are the major differences between being a cover artist and an interior artist?

    MD: To me the only real difference is the interior artist’s job is telling the story, and the cover artist’s task is to sell the story. Other than that, our jobs are very similar.

    TFAW.com: Do you ever want to do interiors?

    Grimm Fairy Tales #48 CoverMD: It would be nice. I did several pages on Tales From Wonderland: Red Rose, but I’ve always considered myself more of a pin-up artist, so right now I’m quite happy with where I am at. I honestly feel I’m better at telling a story with a singular image than I am with several images on one page, so I’ve never really had a burning urge to do interiors. Not to say I never will again, but right now I don’t see it in the near future.

    TFAW.com: How do you approach your covers?

    MD: Most of the time I’m pitched a concept and I have to dwell on it for a while to get a feel for a layout. Sometimes I’ll browse through the Internet or various magazines for poses and subject matter similar to what my concept entails to gather ideas. Some times it’s as easy as hearing a particular song that sparks an idea, which is nice, but that happens less often. From there I sketch up some really small and loose figures in the poses I might like to use, and once I get a good vibe going I’ll draw some layouts about 4″ x 6″ in size.

    Almost all of my covers are exclusives or variants, so you’re typically allowed to get away with a little more that you would with a main newsstand cover. More often than not these covers are going to focus on a hot sexy chick, which mean from the start I’m thinking of what is the sexiest pose I can use and how much skin am I going to show? Main covers are a little trickier because they’re usually a bit more reserved and should be more dynamic–but still hot–so I spend a lot more time conceptualizing camera angles rather than sex appeal. Still, that’s a tough combo, trying to make something sexy and in-your-face dynamic.

    TFAW.com: How do you create your art? What tools do you use?

    MD: I always draw on four-ply smooth Bristol. For me, it’s the most comfortable surface to draw on. I like to use a method where you take the original 4″ x 6″ layout and blow it up roughly 200% to fit an 11″ x 17″ art board, and then light box those lines onto the board and flesh it out from there. I find this way is easier to proportion figures and composition than drawing the image full-size from the start.

    Grimm Fairy Tales Swimsuit Special 2010 CoverOnce I get the loose pencil down, I always start with the main figure’s face, because it is usually the most important part of any picture. Sometimes it takes a few tries, but I never proceed further until I get that face where I want it to be. After that things usually start to jive pretty naturally, because I know I’ve got the viewer’s attention at that point and almost everything else is secondary to that single element of the picture.

    I switch up pencils often, though, like right now I like using a 0.5 mechanical pencil I bought at an office supply store. For several months before this I was using a Staedtler lead holder pencil, and before that I was using a regular #2 pencil. But I always like HB lead. I’ve tried 3H and H, but I just find the artwork doesn’t jump off the page with harder leads, and I’m not being inked so I don’t have to worry about someone having a hard time erasing my pencils, either.

    I have a ridiculous collection of erasers, though mostly I use Magik Rubs, kneaded erasers, and eraser sticks, which are awesome because you can draw with them, too.

    TFAW.com: Your covers are usually dominated by gorgeous, sexy women. What do you use for reference?

    MD: Most of it is out of memory now, but once in a while I hit a tough spot so I’ll use women’s fitness [magazines] like Oxygen, or Playboy and Maxim magazines to help with those hard spots. Also hairstyle magazines and the Internet help quite a bit. I’m pretty sure I have the largest assortment of skin magazines on the West Coast. Haha.

    TFAW.com: There are also, of course, strong elements of fantasy. What are your influences?

    MD: It’s funny because I don’t really have a lot of fantasy artist influences other than Frank Frazetta. Aside from my obvious influences like Campbell, Jim Lee, Adam Hughes, and pin-up artists like Vargas and Armando Huerta, I’ve drawn heavy inspiration from animated cartoons like Ren & Stimpy, Looney Toons and, most surprisingly to some, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics, published by Mirage Studios. I’d say that if J. Scott Campbell is the backbone of my style, than the art on the classic TMNT comics, especially the issues drawn by Eric Talbot, are the legs and feet that it stands on.

    Grimm Fairy Tales #43 CoverTFAW.com: What is the most difficult cover you’ve ever done, and why?

    MD: Probably the cover I did for Grimm Fairy Tales #43. I was just unleashed into the comic biz, so my range of content wasn’t exactly to par, and I was asked to draw a character riding on the back of a unicorn. I’ve never drawn many animals prior to this, and I’ve always predicted that horses would be especially hard to draw because, like humans, their anatomy is real prominent and defined, so muscle placement is so important. Horses seem like they would take a lot of study and practice to pin down, which I didn’t necessarily have time for when I was pitched the concept. A lot of other animals are covered in thick coats of hair, so you can sort of fudge and embellish the muscle structure with some believability with fur, or scales, feathers, or whatever. I struggled a lot with that cover, even though it was probably the simplest cover design I’ve ever done, and it’s largely due to that unicorn! :shakes fist in anger:

    TFAW.com: Do you ever have a favorite series to work on, or a series you want to work on but haven’t yet?

    MD: I really enjoy doing Zenescope’s Wonderland covers. Every chance I get I drop hints to my editor about doing one. The characters have so many iconic scenarios to play on, and since they exist in such a nonsensical and impossible reality, even for comics, there is so much fun to be had with them. I am looking forward to hopefully doing some covers for their new Monster Hunter series as well, which looks like a cool book. A while back when Image Comics released Todd McFarlane’s Haunt series, I came extremely close to nabbing an exclusive for issue #1 that a local retailer was going to sponsor, but it fell through and never came to be. I still think that would have been amazing if things had panned out with that, so I’m crossing my fingers for that opportunity again.

    TFAW.com: What do you have coming down the pike?

    MD: I’m not sure what I can reveal, but there’s a lot lined up, including a cover for the indie comic Zombies vs. Cheerleaders which was a lot of fun to work on, and a cover for the next Grimm Fairy Tales hardcover trade, which I had the honor of illustrating. Though most exciting for me is that I’m doing a main cover for the #1 issue of the new series Grimm Myths and Legends, alongside Campbell and Ebas. It’s a bit intimidating going up against those guys, especially because I take them both with such high regard, but it’s an honor just to share a shelf with them, so be sure to keep an eye out for that and much much more very soon.

    I want to personally thank DeBalfo for such an enlightening and entertaining interview–we’ll keep our eyes peeled for Grimm Myths and Legends! Make sure to check out all of our Zenescope interviews, as well as our Zenescope Month page!

    How important are covers when you buy comics? Post your comments below!

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    Comic Book Reviews: Walking Dead, True Blood, Loki, Kick Ass, Hulk

    New Reviews of This Week’s Releases!

    Time for your weekly dose of comic book reviews! We’re about a week and a half from Halloween, but we’re reviewing a few creepy comics, including The Walking Dead #78, True Blood #4, and the DCU Halloween Special. Tune in and you’ll also hear what we think about Brightest Day #12, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home Catwoman, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home Commissioner Gordon, Grimm Fairy Tales TPB Vol. 8, Hulk #26, Stan Lee Soldier Zero #1, Chaos War #2, Kick Ass 2 Balls to the Wall #1, Loki #1, and Daredevil #511.

    Hulk #26

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    We experimented with a new, shorter format for our videos–what do you think? Should we go back to in-depth reviews, or do you prefer quick recaps? Post your opinions below!

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    Raven Gregory Talks Charmed, The Waking, GFT & More

    Raven Gregory Zenescope EntertainmentZenescope Month is in full swing, and we’re starting off the week with an exclusive interview with Raven Gregory, one of Zenescope’s most inventive and productive writers. Here, he gives us the scoop on Charmed, explains the origins behind The Waking, and tells us what’s in store for Grimm Fairy Tales!

    TFAW.com: Hi Raven, thanks for taking some time out of your schedule for us.

    Raven Gregory: Hey guys. Thanks for having me.

    TFAW.com: How did you start writing for comics? What inspired you?

    RG: It’s actually a pretty silly story. Me and some buddies were hanging out drinking and my pal said we should create a comic. I went home that night and began writing The Gift. Ten years later here I am. I had always been a huge fan of comics and had always loved writing, so it was serendipity that the two found each other.

    TFAW.com: When did you start writing for Zenescope? What was your first story?

    Se7en Gluttony Raven GregoryRG: The first book I wrote for them was Se7en: Gluttony sometime back in 2006 or ’07. I had met them at some conventions on the circuit and saw a press release about them publishing Final Destination. I wrote them and with no ego at all told them I was born to write that book. They responded back and told me it was already written but asked if I’d be interested in writing the prequel to the movie Se7en which is one of my favorite movies of all time. That book led to Wonderland and so on and so on.

    TFAW.com: You are definitely one of the most prolific writers Zenescope has, with Charmed, Grimm Fairy Tales, The Waking, and Wonderland on your plate. How do you handle writing so many titles at once?

    RG: It’s actually a little magic trick I’ve managed to pull off. I’m a pretty fast writer, and when I have to get a script done I can get one done in a day or two. I’m very lucky in having the feedback from both Joe and Ralph in keeping me from sucking more than I would, given that I don’t enjoy writing fast unless the story is just flowing. But in most cases, like with The Waking and a few of the other stories, they’ve been done years or months in advance, giving me plenty of time to polish them–but when they actually come out, they all come out at the same time.

    Next year is going to be even more insane, as it’s going to look as if I am writing anywhere between four to nine books per month. I’m not even exaggerating here. Lucky for me most of these stories are already done.

    TFAW.com: The Charmed comics have been hugely successful–there are a lot of happy fans out there. How did you prepare to launch the series?

    Charmed Comics ZenescopeRG: We really tried our best to get the word out to all the Charmed fans out there. The actresses themselves were cool enough to tweet about the series on their Twitters and I think that helped a lot. But mostly it was just getting the word out. The rest was the fact that Charmed fans themselves passionately love the series, so it was a pretty easy sell to get fans to come back and follow the adventures of their favorite witches.

    TFAW.com: Were you a Charmed fan before you signed on as co-writer?

    RG: Of course. But I really didn’t have a choice in the matter. My wife watched the show faithfully, and after a while I had no choice but to watch. I really enjoy that beyond the powers and monsters and demons it really is a story about family, and that’s what gets the writer in me.

    TFAW.com: What can you tell us about Charmed #4?

    RG: HE’S BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    TFAW.com: What has it been like collaborating with first-time comic book writer Paul Ruditis?

    RG: It was a lot of fun. We didn’t always agree on where the story should go, but everything that came out of those discussions led to a better product in the end. Paul’s on his own now, but I still love what he’s doing on the series.

    The Waking Raven GregoryTFAW.com: Do you have a favorite sister or character?

    RG: It’s a toss-up between Phoebe and Prue.

    TFAW.com: Will Prue come back? Tell us!

    RG: Prue? That’s not a name I’m familiar with. 🙂

    TFAW.com: With The Waking, you added a new twist to the zombie genre: the zombies are people who were murdered, back to get revenge on their killers. What prompted that idea?

    RG: I’ve always been a big fan of the old EC horror comics and shows like the Twilight Zone, and it just felt like the original premise of the killer zombie had gotten lost once Romero sunk his teeth into the genre. So it was a mix of my love for the old horror comics, where zombies were a vehicle of revenge, mixed in with my love for CSI . . . another show that my wife watches endlessly that I have also fallen in love with.

    TFAW.com: While this is a horror comic, there’s a huge focus on the power of love–can you elaborate on that?

    RG: For me, I think, my best writing comes from dealing with personal issues. One of those, as a parent, is losing my kids. So taking the idea of a parent who loves their child so much and just can’t let go, to the point where their hatred for the person who has taken their child from them actually becomes the embodiment of death given life was a story that I just had to tell.

    TFAW.com: At the end, not to spoil anything, but you seemed to leave things open for a sequel. Is that in the works?

    Grimm Fairy Tales Halloween Special 2010RG: I was asked this question over and over again and I always said no, that’s it. The story is done and I wrote it in a way that it’s open but still pretty clear cut and closed. But I met a fan at one show who said something that made me realize that maybe the story isn’t over. There’s a germ of something out there but for now it’s not at the forefront of my mind. But . . . you never know.

    TFAW.com: With The Walking Dead and the Zombie Survival Guide, there’s a big focus on zombies right now. What do you think of the genre as a whole?

    RG: It’s in a better place than it’s been in years. No longer is it the same-old same-old. Now it’s all about finding the new twist and raising the bar on what a zombie story can be, and I think that’s just great for creators and readers alike.

    TFAW.com: The Grimm Fairy Tales Halloween Special 2010 is coming out soon, and it looks like it’s going to involve vampires. How do vampires fit in the GFT universe?

    RG: Anything I say here will be a spoiler, but I will say that we have a lot of fun in the story giving cosplayers a shout-out, as well as taking a stand that vampires should not glitter. 🙂

    TFAW.com: Is this a Twilight parody? What do you think of Twilight mania?

    RG: You ever play that game who would win in a fight? Try that with vampires and see where the Twilight vamps end up on the totem pole. But, again, with that said, I get why the story is so popular . . . because my wife made me see them. 🙂

    Wonderland Raven GregoryTFAW.com: The Wonderland series has had some epic stories involving Alice Liddle and her daughter, Calie. Will future stories still center around the Liddles?

    RG: Most of the current stories we’re doing now focus on the origins of the Wonderland characters themselves or victims of the looking-glass mirror, but . . . there may be one or two stories left that tell the story of Calie . . . and her daughter Violet.

    TFAW.com: You’ve taken a lot of childhood favorites and added an adult sensibility with both sex and violence. What’s the reaction been?

    RG: It’s like anything else. Some people love it. Some . . . not so much.

    TFAW.com: What other types of stories would you like to tell?

    RG: I want to tell a kids story. Something I could give my daughter to read. Maybe one day when scheduling isn’t so hectic. Also want to do a straight comedy, as it’s my weakest strength.

    TFAW.com: What upcoming projects are you most excited about?

    RG: Grimm Fairy Tales Myths and Legends is going to be huge. We’re bringing back Red Riding Hood in a big big way, and setting up the GFT universe in a way that I think will have people talking for some time to come.

    Our thanks go out to Raven for a great interview! Make sure to check out all of Raven Gregory’s comics and graphic novels, including The Waking, Charmed, Wonderland, and Grimm Fairy Tales!

    Do you think Prue will be back? What do you think about Zenescope Month thus far? Which comic book publisher should be cover next? Post your comments below!

    READ OUR PAST INTERVIEW WITH RAVEN GREGORY

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    TFAW Interviews Neverland Artist Jean-Paul Deshong

    Grimm Fairy Tales Presents: NeverlandWe’re midway through our epic Zenescope Month, interviewing the many creators that produce sexy, creepy horror comics like Grimm Fairy Tales and The Waking, as well as the very popular Charmed. Today, we interview Jean-Paul Deshong, artist for Grimm Fairy Tales Presents: Neverland, an upside-down take on the classic tale of Peter Pan. Here, Deshong tells us how he broke into the business, what it’s like working for Zenescope, and what he likes drawing the most!

    TFAW.com: What drew you to comics?

    Jean-Paul Deshong: To tell you the truth, That is a very good question. I have been literally been drawing from three years old, I was the action figure type of kid, so I was always into things like superheroes. My mom always (even to this day) encouraged my interest. Comics came into the scene as an extension to that . . . I guess that pointed the direction of my artistic interest.

    TFAW.com: Who were your favorite comic book creators, growing up?

    JP: Oookay!! I guess I’ll begin at the beginning. I’ve had many favorite artists. John Romita Jr., John Byrne, Arthur Adams, Frank Miller, Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane. Manga artist Matasume Shirow was a big influence. I also started to follow anime studios like Mad House and Bones. A lot of people say that they can see an anime influence in my work.

    Neverland #5 Preview PageTFAW.com: How did you start to work for Zenescope?

    JP: I was handing out submissions out at NYCC08. I went to the submissions booth and met Raven Gregory. I told him I had a submission for him. He looked at me kinda of strangely as I passed him my sample. As he looked at the work and his face lightened up. He looked up at me and said, “Never give someone work like this out of a bag like that.”

    NOTE: It was a crushed bag that was handed out at the beginning of the Con. It was pretty beat up by the time I got to Zenescope.

    Getting back on the topic, he looked at the sample, said he liked it, and told me he was going to pass it on to another editor, and they would be in touch. In a couple of weeks later, they were in touch.

    TFAW.com: Grimm Fairy Tales Presents: Neverland deals with fairies and magical places, but overall, it’s a very dark tale. What did you think about when you first approached the material?

    JP: Before I got the actual script, I was given an overview. I was excited about it. Once I received the actual script, and [saw] how it was really Pan turned on its ear, I was even more enthusiastic about the book. So much so that I emailed the new editor and expressed my excitement for the story.

    Neverland #5 Preview PageTFAW.com: Were you a big fan of Peter Pan?

    JP: I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but at my mom’s house I still own the Disney Peter Pan record from the Disney animated movie. I can still probably sing all the songs, but I think that would take a lot of tequila.

    TFAW.com: Did you go to the older stories for inspiration when you designed the characters?

    JP: My designs were based off of the studies I received through Zenescope and from the cartoon.

    TFAW.com: What’s the biggest challenge of working on a book like this?

    JP: If I had to make an assessment, I would say that keeping the emotion intact from the script into the art was my hardest, or I would say interesting, part of drawing the book. Pan was evil, Hook was schizophrenic in our realm, but the hero in Neverland, Tinkerbell was beautiful but deceitful, and so forth. Keeping those emotional woes to define the characters were the biggest challenge.

    TFAW.com: You covered the inks as well as the pencils here. Do you prefer to ink yourself? What’s it like for you when someone else handles the inks?

    JP: That’s tricky. I like to ink my own stuff because I add different textures in my ink that I don’t see until I ink something. But I’ve also had great inkers take my work to another level and do things I wouldn’t have thought of. In the case of Neverland, it was my enthusiasm and excitement for the story. I wanted to do my part in making the book as well as I could. Thankfully Zenescope was receptive.

    Neverland #5 Preview PageNeverland #5 Preview PageNeverland #5 Preview Page

    TFAW.com: What’s your favorite thing to draw in Neverland: the girls, the monsters, or the technology/weapons?

    JP: Not to sound like a politician, but I enjoyed drawing everything in Neverland. Drawing Evil Pan was just as fun as drawing Hook’s hook, or Croc, or the Lost Boys. There are great books out there who do maybe one of these things, but with every issue, of every page turn of the script, I was always finding myself saying, “Oh wow, I can’t wait to draw that.”

    TFAW.com: What’s it like working with Zenescope?

    JP: It’s been a great ride. The people at Zenescope are great. Down to earth, great to talk to about anything from the script to everyday life. If I ever had a problem, it was addressed in a timely manner. Patient and understanding. Everything that a comic company could be.

    TFAW.com: Do you prefer supernatural-horror books? What other genres would you like to play with?

    JP: I’m open to anything and everything. From horror, to sci-fi, it really doesn’t matter.

    TFAW.com: What types of comics are you reading these days?

    JP: It’s funny. Whenever I go to the comic shop (incognito, of course), I always pick up something different, I pretty much dabble in everything, although I tend to pick up trade paperbacks because I want to get the whole story in a sitting. Batman is one of my favorite heroes, so I’m eager to see Batman Inc. Wolvie had babies, so the X-Men books are interesting, I’ve always liked Dark Horse’s manga, and of course Grimm Fairy Tales and The Waking and the Wonderland series. Like I said, Zenescope has a great knack for taking stories we know and giving them a great twist.

    TFAW.com: Do you have any other projects coming up that you’d like to tell us about?

    JP: CLASSIFIED. BLACK OPS. Can’t say. Guess you’ll have to wait and see.

    I guess we will! But you won’t have to wait and see our exclusive 10-page preview of Grimm Fairy Tales Presents: Neverland #5, in stock right here, right now. You can also pre-order future Neverland comics and save 20%.

    Love Neverland? Remember to check out our interview with writer Joe Brusha, who give us additional insight into this evil-tinged tale.

    Are you a fan of Peter Pan? Post your comments below!

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    Joe Brusha Talks Neverland, Sharks & Monster Hunters!

    Zenescope Neverland Joe BrushaWeek two of our epic Zenescope Month is here, and we have an interview with co-founder and writer Joe Brusha! Brusha gives us some insight into his work on Grimm Fairy Tales and Neverland, as well as introduces us to the upcoming Top 10 Deadliest Sharks, his non-fiction comic written in partnership with the Discover Channel. Read on to see what Brusha really thinks of Disney’s Peter Pan, how he likes collaborating with Ralph Tedesco and Raven Gregory, and what’s coming up next:

    TFAW.com: Hi Joe, thanks for chatting with us!

    Joe Brusha: No problem. Thanks for taking the time to interview us.

    TFAW.com: Well, we’ve heard Ralph Tedesco’s version of Zenescope’s birth: what’s your perspective?

    JB: I think we’re still kind of in the birthing process. Even though we’ve been publishing for five years, we’re still a very young company. We’ve learned a lot in our first few years but I think we’ve only just scratched the surface of where we want to go. We’ve made a ton of mistakes since we’ve started and hopefully we’ve learned from them. I don’t think anything has come easy for us but I view that as a good thing. We’ve had a small measure of success and if we can continue to grow and improve on what we’ve already done, I think we can become a very successful company.

    Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Neverland #5TFAW.com: What was your past relationship with comics?

    JB: I was a huge comic book fan growing up in the early ’80s. I read just about everything Marvel published until I was about 14. After that I still read them through my late teens and early twenties, but not as obsessively. But I was always fascinated by the medium and how versatile it could be. And I always thought the stigma it had was really undeserved. It’s such a unique way of storytelling that has never gotten the credit it deserves here in the U.S.

    TFAW.com: As a writer, what sort of ideas pique your interest?

    JB: That’s tough because there’s just so much out there that I find interesting in terms of ideas for stories. I’ve always been drawn to horror. And I like stories about the human condition. A lot of times those two go hand-in-hand, I guess.

    TFAW.com: What was the first book you wrote for Zenescope? What was that like?

    JB: Grimm Fairy Tales #1. Ralph and I wrote it together and it was fun and interesting. We had both been writing screenplays for several years and there are definitely similarities between the two crafts. But I can’t say there wasn’t a learning curve. Sometimes I still wonder if I know what I’m doing.

    Neverland #5 Preview PageTFAW.com: Of all of the books you’ve written over the years–Grimm Fairy Tales, the Wonderland comics, the Adventures of Sinbad, Neverland, and Stingers, to name some of them–which is your favorite, and why?

    JB: The Neverland series is my favorite. It’s hard to say why. Maybe because for some reason it was a lot easier to write than most of the other things I’ve written. I think most writers will tell you writing is not something they really enjoy doing. It’s more like something they have to do. So as a writer, when you’re able to tell a story and it comes out the way you hoped without all the torture and countless rewrites, you feel like you’ve finally done a good job and done it right. That’s kind of how I feel about Neverland.

    TFAW.com: In Grimm Fairy Tales, Sela has had some major revelations about her past and future, and she was forced to kill a friend in issue #50. What’s next for her, as a character?

    JB: Her character is really going to evolve as the series continues. Up to this point Sela has mostly remained in the background of the series. Going forward she will be the main focal point of Grimm Fairy Tales. We’re going to see her grow as a character and learn a lot about her as she travels through the fairy tale realm Myst.

    Neverland #5 Preview PageTFAW.com: What can you tell us about your plans for the book, post-issue #50? Will the tone or direction change?

    JB: The series is definitely going to evolve. We started out doing a lot of one-shots with new characters appearing in almost every issue. Going forward you’re going to see more multi-issue storylines that focus on the re-occurring characters, including Sela. There will still be the occasional one-shot fairy tale stories that started the series, just more infrequently.

    TFAW.com: Returning to to Neverland, what inspired you to tackle the story of Peter Pan?

    JB: I never really liked Peter Pan in the Disney version of the story. He always annoyed me. And I always sympathized with Hook and thought he got a raw deal. So I wanted to flip that dynamic of the story around. That’s were the idea for this version of Neverland started.

    TFAW.com: This is definitely a very different Neverland–and Peter–than the original story. What do you think is at the root of Pan evolving from mischievous to out-and-out evil?

    JB: His inability to grow up and face the responsibilities that come with that. To me it was creepy that he wanted to be a boy forever and keep bringing all these children to Neverland. That made it easy to make his motivations sinister in my version of Neverland.

    Neverland #5 Preview PageTFAW.com: Captain Hook is also very different in your version–someone who escaped Pan’s clutches and is returning as a hero to defeat him. Why the change?

    JB: It goes back to me sympathizing with the Disney version of Hook. I never saw him as a bad guy. He’s just a pirate trying to do his job and he’s got this man-eating crocodile following him around trying to take another bite out of him wherever he goes.

    TFAW.com: The character who seems most similar to the old story is Tinkerbell–she’s still in love with Pan, and she’s still trying to get rid of her “competition,” Wendy. What were your thoughts when you started to flesh out her character?

    JB: Tinkerbell actually plays a big part in the series as it comes to the climax. At the beginning of the story she’s pretty much Pan’s lackey and will do anything to please him. But as the series goes on she realizes that he’s never really cared for her and she’s just another one of his playthings. I don’t want to give to much away, so I’ll just say that hell hath no fury like a fairy scorned.

    TFAW.com: The third volume of Tales of Wonderland will be out soon in trade paperback. How would you explain it to someone who hasn’t read it before? Why should they pick it up?

    Neverland #5 Preview PageJB: Tales from Wonderland expands on the Wonderland universe by taking a closer look at the characters that inhabit the realm. It explores their back stories and usually reveals how they came to be in Wonderland.

    TFAW.com: One really interesting project you have coming up, which seems like a big departure, is Top 10 Deadliest Sharks! Can you introduce this to us?

    JB: This is a book we have partnered with Discover Channel on. It’s a non-fiction comic that examines sharks and what causes them to attack humans. This book is being published under our all-ages imprint, Silver Dragon Books. We have two more books in the works with Discovery Channel, one on dinosaurs and one on the world’s most dangerous animals. Both will be out in early 2011.

    TFAW.com: Have you always been fascinated with sharks?

    JB: Yes. Every since I was a little kid. I saw Jaws when I was about eight. And even though it scared the hell out of me I was instantly hooked on sharks.

    TFAW.com: The description says that this book will refute the idea that sharks are just mindless killing machines. What is it about sharks that you connect with?

    Neverland #5 Preview PageJB: I think it’s a basic fear that all humans have. The fear of being eaten alive by an animal that’s twice your size. Yet compared to the number of sharks in the ocean, there are very few attacks on humans. If sharks wanted to hunt us they could have an easy smorgasbord at our beaches. And yet sharks do occasionally attack humans. So why does that happen? This book tries to provide answers to that question.

    TFAW.com: You’ve collaborated with a couple of different writers during your career, including Ralph and Raven Gregory. What are some of the differences between working with each of them?

    JB: They both give me different kinds of headaches! Raven has a ton of ideas, a lot of which are really good, but there are some that are way out there. There are times when I have to slap him in order to get him to focus. Ralph and I have been writing together and collaborating on projects for a long time, so now it’s an easier process. The funny thing is when we were writing screenplays, they were mostly comedies, and the comics we write together are mainly fantasy and horror. Sometimes we still have a hard time being serious when we’re working on those types of projects.

    TFAW.com: Do you have a dream project you haven’t been able to work on yet?

    JB: Yes. But I can’t talk about it because it’s a licensed project and I’m afraid someone will steal it. I guess I’m a little paranoid.

    Top 10 Deadliest Sharks SCTFAW.com: Where do you see Zenescope Entertainment five or ten years down the line?

    JB: Hopefully we’ll continue to grow and become a major publisher. We really view ourselves as a content creation company, not just strictly a comic book publisher. We want to move into producing other forms of multimedia type products like films and video games.

    TFAW.com: What upcoming projects are you most excited about?

    JB: The Monster Hunters’ Survival Guide, which hits stands at the end of this month. It’s a real unique and entertaining book written by a real-life monster hunter [John Paul Russ]. And the new Grimm spin-off series Myths & Legends, which comes out at the beginning of 2011.

    We want to send our thanks to Joe for the insightful interview–and to Zenescope for our exclusive five-page preview of Grimm Fairy Tales Presents: Neverland #5, which is in stock on our site right now! You can also pre-order upcoming Neverland comics and the graphic novel, as well as Top 10 Deadliest Sharks, and save 20% now! To see all of Zenescope’s great comics and graphic novels, check out our Zenescope Month page.

    Want to make sure you get your monthly fix of all of your favorite Zenescope titles? Start up a subscription now and save 20% each month.

    What do you think of Brusha’s darker take on Peter Pan? Post your comments below!

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    Ralph Tedesco Shares the Past and Future of Zenescope

    Grimm Fairy Tales Ralph TedescoEditor-in-chief Ralph Tedesco kicks off Zenescope Month here at TFAW.com, with an in-depth interview about the evolution of this independent publisher and where they’re planning to go next! Of course, in addition to his editorial duties, Tedesco is also one of Zenescope’s most prolific writers, penning spellbinding stories for Grimm Fairy Tales, Grimm Fairy Tales: Inferno, Tales From Wonderland, Stingers, and more, so we pressed him for the inside scoop.

    Read on to learn about how Tedesco founded Zenescope, where he gets his inspiration for those dark and sexy tales, and what’s coming up next!

    TFAW.com: Hi Ralph, thanks for talking with us about Zenescope!

    Ralph Tedesco: Thanks for having me.

    TFAW.com: What made you decide to co-found a comic book publisher?

    RT: I was living in Los Angeles working as a bartender and I was also an aspiring actor getting some work here and there . . . not cliche at all, right? I also was a screenwriter, but thinking anyone wanted to read my spec screenplay was pretty much a joke. So one night while I was visiting back home in Philly, Joe (my writing partner and now business partner) and I brainstormed some ideas and one of them was to publish our own comic book series. We really had no idea what we were getting ourselves into at the time, but it sort of took on a life of its own and we expanded from there.

    Grimm Fairy Tales #52 Page 3TFAW.com: What were your thoughts on what Zenescope should be, as a company?

    RT: We definitely wanted to be that dark, edgy, provocative company that distinguished itself in a new and refreshing way. We simply didn’t want to be like any other publisher out there at the time. Now we weren’t going out year one to try to compete with Marvel or DC or Dark Horse, but we felt we could nudge into the top 10 indies if we stuck to what we believed and we ran the company using our competitive nature.

    TFAW.com: What do you think makes Zenescope stand out from the other companies–besides the eye-popping covers, of course!

    RT: Definitely our ability to think outside the box and also our willingness to take risks. Joe and I feel we have a pretty good knack for coming up with intriguing storylines and also for good storytelling, but we never want to box ourselves in. We’re not afraid to swing for the fences occasionally, even if it means striking out sometimes too.

    TFAW.com: As Editor-in-Chief, what are your biggest challenges?

    RT: It’s the endless juggling act that is editing and organizing art teams and writers, etc. It’s a more than a full-time job in and of itself, but throw in the writing I do and other responsibilities Joe and I both have and it adds up to a ton of hours in the office each week. But in the end it’s certainly worth it.

    Grimm Fairy Tales #52 Page 4TFAW.com: Grimm Fairy Tales just released its 50th issue! How do you feel the series has evolved over its run?

    RT: It’s night and day in some ways, but then it’s also kept elements of what we loved about it in the beginning. It went from a series of morality tales and stand-alones with Sela, our main character, acting as sort of the “cryptkeeper,” and then it began to evolve into this huge universe with multiple subplots and an ever-expanding laundry list of new and interesting characters, both good and evil.

    We always planned it as an epic series from which we’d spin off into other series, but it definitely took on a life of its own as we went ahead, and the pieces just seemed to fit. We’re proud of how the series has matured and continues to evolve. You need that in order to keep readers on their toes, or otherwise it would get stale.

    TFAW.com: Sela seemed to have a crisis of faith in issue 50, not sure if she wants to be involved in the fight against evil, and now she’s been forced to kill Nissa. Is she going to walk away, or will this make her fight harder?

    RT: My thought is she’ll pack up and take a long vacation in Cabo, but I don’t think Joe would agree . . . hahah. Actually, you need to wait and see, because there will be some very cool twists coming.

    Grimm Fairy Tales #51 Page 10TFAW.com: So many of the stories in Grimm Fairy Tales are morality tales–it reminds me of old Creepy and Eerie stories. Are you a fan of older horror? What are your other inspirations?

    RT: For this series it definitely and without a doubt was the Twilight Zone. That was one of my favorite shows growing up. I would watch the old black-and-white episodes with my mom when I was little and was obssessed with them. I was also hooked on Amazing Stories, which didn’t last that long, and then of course Tales from the Crypt.

    TFAW.com: You’re also writing Grimm Fairy Tales: Inferno, described as “Jacob’s Ladder meets The Long Kiss Goodnight,”–which is a concept I love. It’s a little rougher and has more of a traditional action feel–what made you want to write it?

    RT: The idea of a character who yearns for redemption and gets a second chance by having to literally fight through hell just intrigued me. Add in the fact that she’s a badass, sexy contract killer who is ready to kick demon ass, and I’m all in. I just loved the character and her strength and really wanted to explore her vulnerability and her reason for doing the horrible things she did.

    TFAW.com: A lot of your tales involve good struggling against evil and people getting their just desserts–why do these motifs resonate so strongly with you?

    Grimm Fairy Tales #51 Page 11RT: I really like the idea of karma. I’m not so sure I believe in karma very strongly, but the idea is intriguing to me. People getting what they deserve is a cool premise. But I also do like the idea of people getting second chances as well, so that’s why I like redemption tales so much.

    TFAW.com: Your supernatural-alien adventure series, Stingers, is being collected in November. What was your favorite part about working on this project?

    RT: It was so much fun to create the world. I really loved the idea of this character who despises humanity being thrust into the role of saving the human race before an alien takeover occurs. I simply love anti-heroes, they’re the best characters to write . . . there I go with the redemption stories again.

    TFAW.com: You often collaborate with writer Joe Brusha. What does your working relationship look like?

    RT: He yells alot, then cries, then sulks then lets me write what I want . . .. hahah no, we’ve been friends for 20 years and we’ve been writing together for 15. We have a very symbiotic relationship when it comes to writing, and we know each other’s styles so well that we are able to help each other out, and we both are good at helping the other break through the occasional (or not so occasional) writer’s block.

    Grimm Fairy Tales #51 Page 12TFAW.com: What other types of projects do you want to be working on?

    RT: I definitely want to do some comedy series. It’s what we wrote a lot of when Joe and I were first writing screenplays, and I know we both have a knack for it. Comedy is a tougher sell in comics, so it has to make sense and it needs to be done right, but I know we’ll be doing something comedic in nature in the near future.

    TFAW.com: What’s coming up for Zenescope that you’re most excited about?

    RT: The Monster Hunters’ Survival Guide is something I’m so looking forward to. It’s a four-issue mini-series guide with illustrations teaching people how to survive various monster attacks as well as how to hunt monsters while also debunking some common monster myths. It’s really got everything.

    Working with the writer of the series and self-proclaimed expert monster hunter, JP Russ, has made this project worth doing even prior to its release. Issue #1 is going to hook a lot of people into this series. If you’re into vampires, zombies, werewolves, unnatural beasts, cryptids, or any other type of monsters, then this is the book to read.

    TFAW.com: Where do you see Zenescope in five or ten years?

    RT: A consistent top-five publisher with all of the same loyal fans that started with us from the beginning, and a bunch of new ones that just caught on a little late but who we’ll love unconditionally nonetheless. How’s that?

    Thanks again, Ralph! Like what you read? Make sure to visit our Zenescope Month page and save 10-20% off all Zenescope comics and graphic. We’ll also be running some contests later this month, so stay tuned!

    Are you a fan of Zenescope? What’s your favorite title? Post your comments below!

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    WNR: Avengers Prime, Chew, Terminator, Casanova

    New Reviews of This Week’s Releases!

    So much good stuff this week, and we reviewed them just for you! Check out our thoughts on Green Arrow #4, Chew #14, Machete #0, Namor First Mutant #2, American Vampire HC Vol. 1, the Machete Action Figure, Archie Marries – 70 Years In Making Slipcase HC, Atlas #5, Avengers Prime #3, Casanova Luxuria #3, Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Neverland #5, and The Terminator™: 1984 #1.

    Chew #14

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