Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Springsteen as the Second Coming: an Interview with Box Brown

With the third issue of Everything Dies being officially released only days ago, we invited writer/ artist Box Brown to answer some questions regarding the series. A serialised look at the world's religions traditions, stories and myths, it's definitely one of the most unique small press comics in production at the moment, and approaches its subjects with an objectivity that equally mystifies and demystifies them, all the while retaining  its creator's understated humour.

Read on for Brown's thoughts on his upcoming stories, the subtle influence of Peanuts within the comics, Kickstarter, the Xeric Foundation, his involvement in Philadelphia-based newsprint anthology Secret Prison, and an anecdote on the Christ-like potential of Bruce Springsteen.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Featured Creator: Brooks M. Williams

One half of Facebrooks #133.

Brooks M. Williams is the writer/artist behind Facebrooks, a three-panel autobiographical webcomic that is pretty much nothing like a three-panel autobiographical webcomic. Refreshingly, the strip often avoids the rigmarole of platitudinous punch-lines entirely, functioning (strangely, considering the hyper-deformed visual style it employs) as an earnest, retrospective journal of early adulthood.

Taking place right at the time that the halcyon immaturity of youth charges head-on into the swinging sledgehammer of the future (read: college), Facebrooks flits between earnest warts-and-all confessionals and psychokinetic action sequences (featuring battles with sleazy, demonic “single-guy” demon alter-egos). In a nut-shell: it’s kind of like Saved by the Bell: The College Years, only a lot dirtier and with a cinematographer who's been dabbling in mescaline.

Summoning another half-baked analogy; if you can imagine some kind of metamorphic stylistic mash-up of Rodney Greenblat and Stephen Hillenburg, you’re halfway to understanding how awesome Williams’ illustrations are. Currently pumping out seven (plus!) comics each week, we’d suspect that he might be some kind of cyborg cartoonist if we didn’t already know that he’s an animation student. Still, it’s one hell of a work-rate, and the strip is worth checking out just to see how inhumanly fast the creator is developing his signature approach. With such intense visual progression in just 143 strips (as of writing this article), we can’t wait to see what level of work he’ll be producing in the future.

You can catch Facebrooks over on the Pow Pow Comics website right now, and Williams tells us that he has a portfolio site on the way in the future. Increasingly prolific, we heartily recommend that you go check out his work ASAP, whilst you still have a chance to catch up. Go!

Friday, 25 June 2010

'Solipsistic Pop' and the Art of Anthology: an Interview with Tom Humberstone

Completing our trilogy of Solipsistic Pop 2 coverage, we invited the book's curator/ editor, Tom Humberstone to talk with us about the UK-centric anthology. An award-winning creator in his own right (winning an Eagle award for How to Date a Girl in 10 Days in 2008), he offers his insight into the creation and process that occurs behind the publication of the collection.

Read on to find out more about the theme of the book, along with his opinions on the anthology format in general, overturning people's age-old negative preconceptions about comics and exciting information on the upcoming third volume.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Review: Important Comics, Dina L. Kelberman (self-published, 2009)

Dina L. Kelberman | Digest, full colour, 54 pages | $12 | Available Now

The most suitable adjective that I can think of when attempting to nail down Dina L. Kelberman’s entertaining collection of doodle-figured strips is “experimental”. Not experimental in the obtuse, supposedly-arty sense,  though, rather in the playful manner in which they explore and bend the traditional form and conventions of gag strips. Deconstructing the framework of the medium with an improvisational yet engaging lo-fi style, it’s a fun little book that anyone who has ever drawn a comic at the back of the class room or in their work notes will be able to identify with.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Review: Swimming with Shoes On, David Ziggy Greene (Samu, 2010)

David Ziggy Green | A5, black and white, 70 pages | £5 | Available Now

In his introduction to Swimming with Shoes on, David Ziggy Greene describes the titular sensation as a process where "The back of your brain is dealing with the issue but the front just won't accept the situation.". It's an almost perfect analogy that sums up the left-field content of this "best of" selection of his mini-comic work. Almost perfect because the reader won't find themselves so much swimming, as being thrust along an often gross, always funny white water ride of tentacles, allegorical boxing matches, geriatric space adventurers, touring bands, and belly button lint. Just as in white water rafting, there’s a chance you might want to vomit, but it was well worth it just for the experience.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Review: Super Pro K.O.!, Jarrett Williams (Oni Press, 2010)

Jarrett Williams | Digest; black and white; 256 pages | Price: $11.99
Released: July 2010

Famed semiotician Roland Barthes once wrote that “The virtue of all-in wrestling is that it is the spectacle of excess”. More than just a pretentious way to start a review, it's also a perfect summation of Jarrett Williams’ upcoming wrestling-based graphic novel, Super Pro K.O!. Combining the two most essential spheres of entertainment today - pro-wrestling and western-tribute to shōnen manga - it’s a veritable nerdgasm of a graphic novel that fans of either (or both) will be chomping at the turnbuckle for. Straight-forward and relentlessly action-packed, it invites the reader to know their role, shut their mouth and sit their candy-ass down to watch  the fun unfold. 

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

'Blammo', Abe Lincoln & Juggalos: an Interview with Noah Van Sciver

 Noah on Noah: Van Sciver's self-portrait for Avoid the Future

A secret: on the clandestine list of goals we have at ATF HQ, interviewing Noah Van Sciver has been listed pretty much since the blog began in January. With the latest issue of his one-man anthology Blammo hitting shelves and mailboxes currently, it seemed like the perfect time to sucker him in ask him to come talk to us. We grilled him on a couple of stories from the new issue as well as his upcoming graphic novel The Hypo, a partial biography of Abe Lincoln.

Read on for his thoughts on such varied individuals as Sarah Jessica Parker, Jim Rugg, a Juggalo and Honest Abe himself. Also, he commits to buying your new indie floppy. No, that wasn't a euphemism.

Without a doubt, my favourite story in Blammo #6 is “Abby’s Road”, a pretty impressive ten-page character study. What was the inspiration behind it?

Thanks a lot! The main character, Anthony, is based on the kinds of people that I would meet when I was a teenager growing up in Arizona. I realized at some point that these characters, weren't ever represented in comics, even though they exist everywhere in America. So, the thought of having this person as sort of an anti-hero was really appealing to me. I based him on a dish washer named Garret that I worked with a few years ago at a deli. He was always listening to ICP while washing dishes.

 Juggalo for life: Insane Clown love takes flight in the latest Blammo.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Interview: Ulli Lust, creator of Electrocomics.com

Launching in 2005, Electrocomics.com now hosts a wide variety of digital comics from creators across Europe. Built around a payment model that's almost unthinkable in the world of mainstream publishing, the site's content is open to all and funded exclusively via voluntary donations. With almost all of the comics available in English, it really is an  treasure trove for anyone interested in the alternative comics scenes outside of the North American comics market.

We invited Ulli Lust, the main brain behind the site, to talk to us a little about her enterprise and the inspiration behind it. Winning two awards in the last week alone (including a Best Independent Comic ICOM award for Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life), and having years of experience in the comics scene, her interview is definitely not to be missed. Read on for her thoughts on the nature of comics, her own work, the difference between print and the screen, the future of digital publishing and even ATF's favourite Viking, Kolbeinn Karlsson.

Please tell us about what led you to begin the Electrocomics project. Why digital?

A few years ago, I was very interested in the potential of the Internet for storytelling. There was a lot of talk about all these new ways of storytelling, new technical features, and, especially, about the concept of interactive narratives and hyperlinks. Firstly, interactive stories are a fascinating idea, because it seems near to our own experience of living, where we can make decisions at every corner, such as: "do I turn right or left?"

Today you can find a large amount of great comics and illustrated storytelling on the Internet. Surprisingly, we can say that the most successful webcomics are akin to classic comic-strips, which are basically not that different from print comics. This is a very interesting fact and confirms my suspicion that readers don't want to have a choice. Rather,  they want to fall into a story and follow the hypnotic voice of a narrator; to be thrown into a story's history with the impression of fate and inevitable successive incidents that create suspense and empathy.

The classic comic, with its combination of pictures and text structured in panels, is a simple but very effective and highly developed way of telling a story. It isn't necessary to add new technical features like sound or movement to take the reader into this magical, imaginary space.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Review: A Rabbit in King Arthur's Food Court, Josh Latta (Wide Awake Press, 2010)

Image swiped from the Lattaland Facebook page

Starring in a title of regal proportions, Josh Latta’s Rashy Rabbit returns for a sixth outing in A Rabbit in King Arthur’s Food Court: A Rashy Rabbit Adventure. Like an even filthier Tex Avery, the Atlanta-based creator leads the titular lagomorph through one hell of a day, with the long-eared protagonist going through the wringer in order to procure an anniversary present for his girlfriend. Starting at his demeaning job cleaning horse poop at the medieval-themed mall food court where he works, poor Rashy continues on to drug deals, encounters with murderous mobsters and a climactic potentially-fatal jousting contest. The things we do for love, eh?

Friday, 4 June 2010

Review: Pneuma, Daniel Locke (self-published, 2010)

Should have gone to Specsavers.

Not many self-published comics can claim to come with a dust jacket, but Daniel Locke’s Pneuma manages to pull it off with panache. Coming dressed to impress, readers will be relieved to hear that there’s plenty of substance to go along with the comic’s svelte, black, bespectacled exterior. 28 pages long, it collects four short vignettes about unexplained phenomena, mysterious circumstance and the horrors of war. Be sure to read on after the jump to have your burning need to know what the title means met.