Wednesday, 27 October 2010

One Question Interview #15: Chris & Shane Houghton

Serious business afoot in 'Moon Gloom'

One of the more deplorable things about mainstream comics is the draconian way the pure-and-honest geekery is exploited via trade paperbacks. You spend $3.99/ £3.00 of your hard earned cash a month on an issue of your favourite guilty pleasure only to have Uncle Marvel or Great Aunt DC turn around at the end of screw you with the promise of extra material in the collected edition. We all know the extra material is most likely going to be junk, but we're damned animals and buy it anyway because we have serious emotional issues. Maybe that's just me.

With this in mind, it's great to hear that Chris & Shane Houghton are actually planning to produce something of worth with the collected edition of their cult comic Reed Gunther. Rather than just slapping it all together and calling it a day, they are planning to hire a colourist to bring new life to each and every panel of cowboy-meets-bear wonderment. In order to finance this, they've released the ultra-goofy, ultra-fun all-ages comic Moon Gloom, currently available in digital form for just $0.99 over on the Reed Gunther website

Should some Hollywood bigwigs come along and offer you guys a Reed Gunther film deal where you guys had creative control, what would you alter for the silver screen, and whom would you cast?

Shane: "If we were to see our all-ages comic, Reed Gunther, in movie-licious form, we would definitely change a few things. First off, we'd need way more sex and violence. And probably some drug use.

Chris: I agree. Except for the sex, violence, and drug use part. Jeesh, Shane, this is an all-ages thing! Seriously, it'd be neat to see a Reed Gunther movie rated PG just for the fact that you hardly see any PG movie adaptations of comics.

Shane: I would really like to see an adventurous animated version of Reed. Chris' style has such great life and movement to it that it's practically bred for animation! If it was feature-length, I would love for it to be like Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs or How To Train Your Dragon. I love those flicks!

Chris: Yeah, an animation would be really awesome. I love those films as well and it'd just be a huge personal treat to see our characters moving in a sleek and beautifully-lit 3D environment. Quite the change from my fat, black lines on white paper! If we did a live action film though, I know for sure I would want Nathan Fillion to play Reed Gunther, hands down.

Shane: Oh yeah, Nathan Fillion would be a great Reed! I think he's currently campaigning on Twitter to be the guy from Uncharted. But nobody likes video game movie adaptations, Nathan! Drop that Uncharted crap and start campaigning for Reed Gunther! If Nathan Fillion starts campaigning on Twitter to play Reed Gunther in a live action film, Chris and I will pay him $100,000! *coughinmonoploymoneycough*

Chris: Agreed! If only there was a way to trick him into thinking he was on the set for Uncharted when really he was filming for the Reed Gunther movie... Okay Shane, who would you want to play Starla?

Shane: I'm soft on Anna Kendrick from Up in the Air and Scott Pilgrim. She seems like she's got a feisty, take-no-crap-from-anyone side to her, plus she can be really funny. But I'd have to see how hard she can punch before casting. A real-life Starla has got to be able to knock me out with a single punch. But that's not too hard to do. Like I said, I'm soft. Here's the toughy, Chris... Sterling the grizzly bear doesn't talk, but his facial expressions are everything. Who would you cast as Sterling?

Chris: I'd like to see Sterling handled like Spike Jonze handled the creatures in Where the Wild Things Are. Half puppetry, half CGI. Or if that doesn't work, we'd need to get someone who's big and hairy. How about Alan Moore if we can convince him to gain 200 lbs?

Shane: Sounds good to me! Hey Hollywood! We obviously have put a lot of thought into this and we're ready to cash that check you're holding! To be honest, a lot of folks ask us about movies or other adaptations of Reed Gunther, which is fantastic and must mean that Reed Gunther could easily be envisioned in a different medium. But right now, we're focused on creating the most exciting, adventurous, and goofy bear-riding cowboy comic book we can. So even if Hollywood does come knocking, I would love it if people said, "Yeah, the movie was alright... But did you read the COMIC?!"

Chris: There you have it folks! Thanks for the question!"

These guys are awesome, right? Our thanks go out to the Bros. Houghton for their answer. If you're a Reed Gunther fan, or are even just coming into contact with the Houghtons' work for the first time, we heartily recommend downloading a copy of Moon Gloom today. An ultra-goofy, ultra-fun story of the Moon's adventure to find another planet to orbit following Earth's destruction, you'd be a fool not to grab it whilst it's hot. Also, we defy you not to laugh at the Moon's butt. Consider that a challenge!

Monday, 25 October 2010

Space Available: an Interview with Kevin Huizenga

An unavoidable tragedy awaiting to take flight (or not) in 'The Wild Kingdom'

Even before his recent - and much deserved - Ignatz award win for Outstanding Series with Ganges, Kevin Huizenga was a creator with no shortage of acclaim. Numerous reviewers and commentators have projected the idea that, a few years from now, he will be seen as one of this generation of creators’ finest, and, speaking from a personal perspective, it certainly seems hard to refute. Behind his "stylised, friendly art" (as NPR's Glen Weldon described it) often lies a complex layering of meaning that gives his work a real weight and value, and has won him favourable comparisons with Chris Ware, amongst other equally deific names. 

His latest Glenn Ganges collection, The Wild Kingdom, might initially seem like somewhat of a departure from his best known works. Primarily made up of material found in earlier releases, it still holds all the hallmarks readers may expect from his comics, yet this arrangement of stories takes a slightly more oblique and fractured narrative route. Here, the reader is rewarded with a slow-burning curation of scenes that converge thematically and intensely over time. One of the most enchanting graphic novels this year, you'll understand that it was with some excitement that we approached the creator for an interview.

Filled with his characteristic humour and intelligence, read on for Huizenga's insights into the book; the creation of the comic's non-traditional story structure; his influences; and talks about how he is absolutely, positively not Glenn Ganges for the millionth time. 

Congratulations on your much-deserved Ignatz win! How did you celebrate?

I allowed people to buy me beers. I wish I wasn’t terrified of speaking to a room of people, because it would be nice to have been able to make a real acceptance speech. Someday I’ll be able to do that—speak to a room of people—and I’ll feel like I’ve really accomplished something.

From 'The Wild Kingdom'

Friday, 22 October 2010

One Question Interview #14: Terreur Graphique

One of the potential covers for Terreur Graphique's upcoming book "Rorschach"

Following on from David Ziggy Greene's opinions on the French comic scene as an outsider, today we're very pleased to be able to feature one of our favourite insiders in a One Question Interview, the mighty Terreur Graphique. Currently in the process of gearing up for the release of his latest graphic novel, Rorschach (no relation to that Rorschach, just in case any litigious DC bigwigs are reading this), an internal adventure between one man, his demons and his therapist. As Mr Graphique would put it, it's the "ultimate Freudian Fight", and who can argue with a sales pitch like that?

One of the most idiosyncratic illustrators we know, we wanted to ask him about his relationship with the concept of beauty, and find out a little more about his style which manages somehow to be vulgar, cute, alluring, cartoony and complex all at once.

 Why is "ugly" more interesting than "beautiful"?

"That's maybe because ugly is beautiful. I'm drawing things just like I saw them; I know, it's a little bit weird. I mean, when I go out and look around, at people and things, it doesn't look like fashion week or a Walt Disney scene. People are sweating, spitting, sneezing, offending each other, vomiting, farting, yelling... they've got wrinkles, spots, cold sores; they are ugly, including myself when I wake up and look at myself in the mirror, and finding a new spot or that I have bad breath....

I think that we, as people, with all our defects,  are good material and my blank paper will be filled quicker with the fat rolls of a big woman than with the "beauty" that television and advertising sell us all day long. None my friends or family seem to have gotten out from a soap opera or a blockbuster either - I can only draw what I know.

Maybe I should try to explore the beautiful side of the world, but I really think that I would quickly be bored and frustrated to not find a little piece of myself in my work.

More seriously, I don't ask myself this question when I take my pencil - I just draw, and if it looks like ugly on paper, it happened unconsciously."

Just for good measure, we've included his beyond-awesome "GAGA GAGA HEY" illustration that, without one word of a lie, has probably been the best thing to show up in our Facebook news-feed ever. Due to the wonders of technology, we wholeheartedly recommend readers flip on the old Google Translate and head over to Terreur Graphique's blog now to have their eyeballs blown apart by a cavalcade of cartoon wonders, including some sneak peeks at the upcoming Rorschach. Make sure you check back with us in early 2011 for more coverage of the book nearer its official launch!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

One Question Interview #12: J.T. Yost


Here at ATF, we dig J.T. Yost; that's just a fact. From his acclaimed Xeric-winning mini anthology Old Man Winter and Other Stories, to his half-real half-imagined tales of urban woe, Loosers Weepers, and everything in between (dream journals featuring adventures with Snoop Dogg & Dick Cheney; need we tell you how great they are?), we can't get enough of his work.

Fans of his comics as we may be, today is not the time to talk about them; oh no. Today is the time to talk about his extraordinarily bizarre side-project Peculiar Pet Portraits. Rather that introduce the concept with our boring old words, we thought the above picture would do a much better job of illustrating the concept. That, and of course a selection of much more exciting words from the man himself:

Oh my god, we've just found your Peculiar Pet Portraits website. We demand to know everything about this activity!

"Okay then!

Pet portraits were a natural outgrowth of my admiration/worship of critters. I can confidently state that there is almost nothing funnier than animals wearing suits. I've known this since sixth grade, when a friend and I would use every homeroom period to draw various beasties donning their Sunday best.

Fast forward to the year 2000. I was wracking my brain for a suitable gift for my non-linear dynamic physicist slash banjo playing buddy. On a whim I painted one of his cats, Galois, wearing overalls and strummin' on an old banjo. To tell you the truth, I don't even remember if he liked it or not, but I had fun painting it. And so, I continued to do so for other friends.

Eventually, in an attempt to afford salsa to go with my rice and beans, I started selling these peculiar pet portraits. Some potential customers couldn't handle the raw undiluted hilarity of pet personification, so I also began offering traditional oil portraits and hand-carved block prints.

The rest, as they say, is hiss-tory (couldn't resist)."

Meoaw-oving stuff. As usual, we'd like to take the opportunity to thank J.T. for virtually stopping by; it's our honour! Be sure to come back soon for a more in-depth look at his work. If you're impatient, or even if you aren't, you're advised to head on over to the Birdcage Bottom Books website to order up his fantastic comics. More to the point, you can commission your very own peculiar pet portrait via Yost's Primarily Pet Portraits today!  "Meoaw-oving"? Outpun that, Yost!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

One Question Interview #11: T.J. Kirsch

Back when we interviewed T.J. Kirsch as part of the She Died in Terrebonne team last month, we were all ears as the Oni Press-affiliated artist enthusiastically cited his comic influences. Although, at the time it would have been more than a touch rude to his collaborator, Kevin Church, we could have listened all day. Taking full advantage of the One Question Interview feature, we decided it was the perfect time to corner Kirsch for a more in-depth look at his life as a comics fan.

It's no secret that we're big fans of T.J.'s style here, and marvel at its strange mutant-like ability to evoke both 1990s indie comics and classic American humour comic looks all at once. With this in mind, we decided to ask a question that really tapped into his preferences as a reader as well as a creator.

What's your favourite graphic novel of all time?

"My favorite graphic novel of all time would have to be The Playboy by Chester Brown. It was one of the first books I picked up from the library at SCAD, if I remember correctly, and I'd never seen or read anything like it. It's a really deeply personal story, and very engaging. The artwork felt very honest, but exaggerated, with a certain crudeness to it that made it accessible.

At that point I'd just started school, and I'd sort of chosen my Sequential Art major on sort of a whim, really. It was between that and Illustration. All of my favorite artists were cartoonists, so based on that alone, I chose Sequential Art. So, I was pretty aimless and lost at first, and really getting back into drawing seriously in a long time. When I picked up that book and started to read, it was one of those life-changing moments. I remember feeling the hair on the back of my neck stand up... maybe there was a choir singing behind me, I can't remember. I realized what I was going to do for the rest of my life, and that was ten years ago. It's been really rewarding getting to do something I'm passionate about, and I hope I can continue to do it for a long, long time.

Number two on my list would have to be a tie between Clowes' David Boring and Chester Brown's I Never Liked You." 

Thank you to T.J. coming back for this follow up. A man of good taste and charismatic illustration, you should head over to his blog now, as well as subscribing to his Twitter feed, to hear about his latest projects as they happen. Stay tuned (or should that be "logged on"?) for a full-length solo interview with the man himself some point before the year is through. Also, just how awesome is that header image? Swoon!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

One Question Interview #10: Rui Tenreiro

One of the best things about living outside of France's comic culture is that, even with the internet and our friends in the Franco-Belgian industry, comic shops on the other side of the channel still hold a lot of wonderful surprises for us. To add further international flair to this anecdote, it was in one of Paris' wonderful multitude of comic stores that we first encountered the breathtaking work of Mozambican creator Rui Tenreiro.

Instantly falling in love at first sight with the gorgeous La Pastèque edition of his graphic novel The Celebration, we immediately knew that it was a book we had to have. Luckily, our shallow judging of the book by its cover paid off, and we were rewarded with one of the most delightful books we've had the pleasure of reading this year. A story of adventure, creatures, dreams and reality, its appeal is such that it's already been published in four languages and a little bird tells us that negotiations are underway to release it in English. Seriously people, cross your fingers.

We've heard that your book The Celebration might finally get published in English next Spring. Congratulations! What was the original idea and inspiration behind writing it?

"Thanks! The publication of the book is currently being negotiated. I would very much like it to come out in English. The book is currently published in French, Spanish, Finnish and Norwegian.

The idea for this book was strange because there were elements which I first made up and joined, and later on discovered they really existed and made more sense than I had imagined. For example: the bird-demon character in the book. It happened that this demon existed in Shinto beliefs, and it’s called Tengu. But I didn’t know this when I wrote the story. To a certain extent, the story is a mystery even to me. But I think there’s also an implicit meaning in the choices one makes, so things don’t happen completely at random.

Part of the idea for the story came to me when I was at home listening to music. At about the same time, I had a dream of a celebration happening in a forest, where people celebrated fertility and burned trees which would grow new flowers the following year. There was some emphasis on repetition in the dream. Throughout the book, there’s an emphasis is on ritual and repetition.

The story should probably be just enjoyed rather than overly explained. But I can tell a little about it.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

One Question Interview #9: Lucy Knisley

Today's One Question Interview guest is Lucy Knisley, writer/ artist of French Milk and all-around diarist extraordinaire. One of the most skilled autobiographical cartoonists of this generation, the success of Knisley's work lies in her oh-so-delicate, subtle balance of personal experience, narrative transference, and just enough humour to prevent everything from becoming overly maudlin. In short, she's great.

Recently making her latest comic, Salvaged Parts, available for purchase via her website (traditionally as well as digitally), we invited her to talk a little about it. Foreshadowed in her online strip Stop Paying Attention, the comic focuses on her recent split from her long-term boyfriend, and is perhaps the best example of her abilities as a storyteller and a cartoonist yet.

As a creator interested in self-chronicling, how much are you aware of the narrative of your life as it happens? Is it comforting or terrifying to know that other people view your life as a story?

"I don't think I would do this job if I didn't feel that the filter of narrative on my life wasn't comforting. I love the idea that writing an experience becomes a shared emotion with the reader. This age of "digital life-sharing" is evidence that I'm not alone in that feeling.

That said, it is occasionally a struggle to make the distinction between my self and my character. For example, I think people occasionally expect me to be more gregarious than I turn out to be when they meet me at conventions. I always feel like a big awkward doofus at those things. Maybe because I process a lot of my life through comics, it makes it harder for me to process on the fly...

I want to portray myself truthfully, and allow my flaws to show... But I also want to make comics about strong, self-confident women (and I'm not always one). I want to show my life accurately, but I want to make work that rings familiar for everyone (and I'm not everyone). It's a balance between how I live my life and how I write my comic, and I think I will always be teetering a little.

In the case of Salvaged Parts, which deals with my breakup (the climax of a "storyline" that had been building in my Stop Paying Attention comics), it was a double-sided coin; in part, it was horrific to be faced with the task of publicly sharing my heartbreak, handling the matter maturely, and even just forcing myself to be introspective enough to make comics in the midst of a breakup. On the other hand, it was lovely to have readers who were rooting for me through the whole mess. It really brought to light how my work could effect people, and how great that connection is. The actual making of the comic also forced me to organize my thoughts and emotions in a way that helped me to see my own life more clearly, which is the main reason behind why I make comics. Word and image as the digestive aid for thought and emotion."

A very sincere "thank you" goes to Lucy for graciously accepting our invitation at short notice. We love Salvaged Parts, and if you're not some kind of emotionless robot, we're willing to bet you might too. As previously stated, copies are available now over at her website. You probably don't need us to tell you how much of a damn-fine colourist she is to boot, but we will anyway. Also, if you're feeling generous, you can help heal her broken heart by aiding facilitation of a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Do it now, you miserable misers, you.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

One Question Interview #8: Michael DeForge & Hellen Jo talk Root Rot (Title TBC)

A teaser of Hellen Jo's contribution to the anthology.

O.K., so today we're going to cheat a little. During her recent interview with us, Koyama Press head honcho dropped news that she was co-editing an anthology with ATF-favourite Michael DeForge. Only driven more maddeningly insane with curiosity by the clandestine air around the project, we invited DeForge himself, along with ultra-talented contributor Hellen Jo to spill a few more beans. For the purists out there who fear this may ruin the sanctity of the one question interview, we made sure to only ask them each one question; satisfied?

With the working title of Root Rot, readers can expect contributions from a whole host of weird and wonderful supertalents, including: Angie Wang, Bob Flynn, Chris "Elio" Eliopoulos, Dan Zettwoch, Inés Estrada, Jason Fischer, Jesse Jacobs, Jon Vermilyea, Joe Lambert, Lizz Hickey, T. Edward Bak, and more. Good golly gosh, we're excited. 

First up is Michael DeForge:

What can you tell us about the theme of the collection, and your approach as co-editor?

"The theme is pretty loose. All the art had to be "forest" related in some way, and we ended up with a broad range of responses to that. We just tried to pick artists whose styles and influences would compliment each other. I'm very happy Greg Pizzoli is in the book, for instance. His background is in printmaking whereas a lot of the other contributors are cartoonists first and foremost - but his piece pairs extremely well with the comics content."
Lizz Hickey's contribution

Next up, one of the most intensely talented illustrators involved in the "alternative" comics scene today, Hellen Jo:

What can readers expect to see in your contribution, Making Friends?

"Making Friends is an extremely short comic, clocking in at a paltry two pages, but I attempted to address the coming-of-age experience, the pain of being a lonely teen girl, skateboarding, and flower magic in just 12 panels. And if that's inadequate, the whole dang comic is fully watercolored in my most saturated palette yet. To give you an idea of how much your mind will be blown, my sister is the only person to have read it so far, and after finishing, she asked, "Is that it?" Look forward to Root Rot, coming soon from Koyama Press!"

Whilst you're gnawing the bannisters in manic anticipation, be sure to check out Hellen's crazy awesome blog for more updates on her work, as well as dropping in at Michael's  recently-relocated blog. Due out sometime in 2011 from Koyama Press, you'll have to get behind us, as we're queuing at the front of the line for this one.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

One Question Interview #7: Madéleine Flores

Things are really heating up for British indie publisher Blank Slate Books this year. Fresh from the critical success of Darryl Cunningham's Psychiatric Tales, the London-based company is launching its next wave of "slates",  amongst which is the utterly-charming-looking The Girl and the Gorilla by Madéleine Florès.

Just in case you aren't won over by the picture above (soulless bastards that you may be), we invited Madéleine to talk a little about what readers can expect to find in the book:
Your debut graphic novel, The Girl and the Gorilla is set to be published by Blank Slate Books this Autumn. What can you tell us about the story and its characters?

"Well now, The Girl and the Gorilla centers around Aurelie, a young girl who is struggling with some personal issues that have kept her pretty upset. But her mood is quickly changed when she crosses paths with a large talking Gorilla! She follows him into a magnificent world where she meets historical figures and native residents of this new world who help her change her view on life as she faces the pure evil that lurks in the shadows.

It's a story for everyone who loves books, adventure, and saving the day!"

Magilla Gorilla, eat your banana-filled heart out. The Girl and the Gorilla will be available later this year; if, like us, you can't wait for that, be sure to visit Madéleine's website every single day until the book's release. Whilst you're at it, be sure to a good hard look at the Blank Slate website, before its glorious renovation is complete.

Monday, 11 October 2010

One Question Interview #6: Leigh Walton

Whilst Jonathan Case's entry might not be the most "out there" entry within Leigh Walton's Tintin sketchbook, it's certainly one of our favourites.

For today's One Question Interview, we invited someone a little different to talk. Whilst creators are the heart of the comics industry, without the lungs, liver, stomach, or pancreas they'd just create a bloody mess, right? Helping add structure to this chaos is Top Shelf Productions' PR/ Marketing guy extraordinaire Leigh Walton. More than just an imposing industry "suit", he's a true blue comics fan, and nowhere is this better illustrated (pun intended) than in his Tintin sketchbook project.

For several years, Leigh's been stealing moments with all kinds of comic artists at festivals, getting them to add their spin on Hergé's beloved, sometimes controversial characters. Featuring an impressive cast of contributors including Bryan Lee O'Mally, Jeff Lemire, Raina Telgemeier, James Kochalka and a whole lot more, the project threatens to rival even Chris Pitzer's Alt-Comix Trading Card collection in terms of sheer awesome.

Why Tintin?
"I was inspired to start a themed sketchbook soon after officially joining the comics industry. Inspired by Mike Baehr's Yoda book and Brett Warnock's Kirby's Fourth World book (plus the books that fans would bring up to our artists at shows), I tried to think of a good theme. Eventually I settled on Tintin because it was something I could bring to almost any artist -- popular enough that everyone would be familiar with it (even in dumb ol' America), yet respectable enough that snooty latte-sipping lit-comix artistes would still be interested. Hergé's series is wide-ranging enough to accomodate lots of different settings, characters, and moods, so artists can take the prompt in almost any direction (and they have!). Finally, Tintin was one of my earliest and fondest memories of reading comics -- my brother and I would get Tintin, Asterix, and Elfquest out of the public library.

I've filled almost two full sketchbooks so far and there are plenty more artists that I'd love to have contribute, so I'll probably keep going! Although at SPX this year I got the itch to start up a new one for Fabian Nicieza & Rob Liefeld's Shatterstar (who I maintain is ripe for a revival)..."

Our sincere thanks go out to Leigh for taking time out from spreading the gospel of Top Shelf to answer our question. Just in case you missed the link up top, be sure to head on over to Leigh's Tintin Flickr set to have your eyes squeal with yet more delight.  Roll on Operation Shatterstar!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

One Question Interview #4: Edward Ross

 The Movies meet McCloud in Edward Ross' intelligent and informative series "Filmish"

One of the most overlooked facets of the comic form is its ability to educate. From Scott McCloud all the way to Darryl Cunningham, there are many creators out there who are keen to take advantage of the unique cognitive abilities of words and images in the name of learning. Similarly, Edward Ross' Filmish is a treasure trove for film fans everywhere, uniting movie snobs and slobs alike with his thoughtful, accessible yet academic analysis of the silver screen.

Contrarians that we are, we thought we'd ask the movie-loving creator exactly what he doesn't like about flicks. Oh what wicked devils we thought we were, until he hit us with one of the most illuminating pieces of writing yet to grace a One Question Interview. Read on for Ross' thoughts on movies, and his opinions on the connection - or lack thereof - between comics and celluloid. 

What Are Your Cinematic Pet Peeves?

"Oh man, I actually love to hate films, I really do. I’d say that there’s a sweet-spot a movie can occupy where it’s a pleasure to watch, and then just rip into afterwards and pull apart all its flaws. A great example would be something like the recent Indiana Jones film or the Star Wars prequels. I mean, admit it, you love ripping those films to pieces! It’s such a pleasure to me to explore where these films go wrong and where they might have gone right. Some films are just bad, for sure, but some bring us so much joy by occupying that sweet-spot of frustrating almost-goodness. I think the most common thing you’ll hear out of my mouth on the way home from the cinema is “You know what they should have done…”

I guess as a person who writes and draws about film, my biggest complaint would be a lack of depth in too many films. And I don’t mean that every film needs to have richly drawn characters and intellectually stimulating plots, just that I wish film-makers would look at investing more thought into the worlds they are creating. When you look back on those films that have survived the wear and tear of time, it’s those that bother to have a little more complexity and nuance that really stick with us. It’s that care and attention at every level of production that really shows. I guess that’s what frustrates and fascinates me so much with something like Indiana Jones IV: You can see in that film the opportunity to tell an interesting story about Indy becoming a relic of the past himself, as science and the atomic bomb replace mysticism and the Gods (or whatever your own theory is of how they could have made a better film!). Instead what we get is something that is at times painfully vacuous, and pretty forgettable, lacking any depth beyond obvious spectacle.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

One Question Interview #3: Jarrett Williams

Starring in one of the our most fun interviews this year, Super Pro K.O.! creator Jarrett Williams powerslammed our socks off with talk of everything from turn-buckles to Toriyama in May. Now, the fellow whom we like to call "the most electrifying man in sports cartooning" returns to the Avoid the Future arena for an encore. With the second volume of SPKO in the pipeline, we invited him back for one more wrestling-based question. 

For those of you new to Williams' work, he's somewhat of a Saint amongst comic interviewers, in that he produces original art for every article. Even though he only signed on for a single question this time, he's made no exception, and has donated the awesome piece seen above. What a guy!

If Jarrett Williams was to put down his cartoonist's tools and step into the professional wrestling ring, what would his gimmick, outfit, and signature move be?

"All right, Mean Gene! I’ve got two gimmicks that I’ve actually thought about. In terms of the wrestler role, I’d be the silent assassin with a slight attitude problem. I’m talking Randy Orton “Legend Killer” tendencies mixed with Booker T swagger. I‘d have white boots and gloves. Probably black and white tassels on my arms and boots (because tassels are cool. Ultimate Warrior knew that. And even John Morrison’s boot tassels are a modern take. They remind me of the hats the Buckingham Palace Guards where, that same sort of material). I’d have a HUGE afro and probably a custom jacket I threw into the crowd every night (so I’d probably lose about $300 on a custom jacket each night too). So I’d be dead broke…..hmmmm. Yeah, scrap the jacket for Wristbands. Fans like wristbands! Signature Move: the DDT maybe even a Tornado DDT. It’s classic.

I think I would have alot more fun as a Manager though. I’d totally be the young kid in the back of the locker room “fan-boying” out on all the wrestlers. I’d carry their bags, wear their shirts, say their catch phrases, and even hold signs hyping them to ring.  I’d be in that role for a year and a half or two. All the while, I’d be talking about my “friend” that I’d think would be a great addition to the roster. I ‘d go around trying to hand my “friend’s” demo tape and resume to all of these wrestler’s I’d pretty much followed around all year. And everyone would turn their nose up in the air to me and just ask me to carry their stuff. Then one day, I’d come out during a Championship Match doing my usual thing. Then, when the Match is coming to an end, I’d cost the current “face” Champion his match and become the ultimate heel manager for a new debuting Monster-Heel Heavyweight wrestler. You know, the “friend” I had been trying to break into the company all along. I’d talk mad smack about how I was smarter than everyone in the back and the fans. I’d let them all know that guy I was currently managing was the legitness (and yeah, I know that’s not a word, but it would be perfect in the Wrestling Lexicon) Then, I’d pretty much be doing the same things as before though I’d think I was on some whole other wave length above everyone else. Basically, I’d have the “naïve fanboy to annoying a-hole” gimmick. Signature Move: DDT to an Apple metal laptop case I’d carry everywhere as a heel.

I really should’ve saved that last idea for Super Pro. Damn."

Legitness incarnate, readers' should head over to Jarrett's official website where they can read his currently-on-hiatus Lunar Boy target="_blank" strip, as well as blog posts from the man himself. We absolutely recommend his recent post detailing his process on a piece of mind-blowing custom art, and when you're done with that, feel free to check o target="_blank"ut our review of Super Pro K.O.! Volume One and our aforementioned full-length interview from May. Can you dig it, Sucka?

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

One Question Interview #2: Box Brown

Next up with a one question interview is Box Brown, creator of the recently-concluded Bellen! and the guy behind the print-turned-web religion-focused Everything Dies. 

Since we interviewed him last, he's pushed Everything Dies to the forefront of his work, publishing complete stories on-line as well as the good ol' fashioned way. With the fourth print issue of the comic just released, containing an exclusive full-length story featuring his Heart of Stonework characters, it seemed like the perfect time to ask about the sub-series.

Heart of Stonework stories are slightly different from the rest of Everything Dies, in that you allow yourself to create straight fiction. What do you see as the function of these stories within the series?

"You know, I don't know totally. In many way, Everything Dies wouldn't exist without Heart of Stonework. They started as a newspaper style strip based on Zen Koans and Peanuts and are still available online. When I was drawing those I don't even think I identified as an Atheist yet. I was studying Zen Buddhism and Peanuts and it seemed like a perfect fit. I didn't come back to HOS until a few years later and I thought those characters had some promise. The Heart of Stonework stories in Everything Dies originally were still based on Zen Koans or Buddhist stories but have since become a world of their own. Now I think of the monks as living in their own alternative universe. I can use them as a vessel to express my own ideas on religion in general without having to stay strict to the rigid guidelines of any particular religion. I love those characters though. If there were ever to be an Everything Dies spin-off it would be Heart of Stonework.  I could see them getting their own book one day. "

We certainly hope they do! A big "thank you" goes to Box for returning to speak to us. If you haven't already checked out the highly-popular recently-launched Everything Dies website, we demand that you do so now. Then, whilst you're there, we demand that you buy all the print issues. For the love of God, get to it!

Monday, 4 October 2010

One Question Interview #1: Kolbeinn Karlsson

This month, we'll will be posting one single-question interview a day with some of the best and the brightest from within the comics industry. First up is mighty Scandinavian scribe-artist Kolbeinn Karlsson, creator of The Troll King and many other weird and wonderful comics that will turn your brain inside out. We're big fans of his work here, and invited him back to answer a question that we felt was worthy of such an imaginative, world-building creator.

If time and money were no object, what would your dream project be?

"My dream project would be like a massive Disneyland type enviroment, where every single detail would be designed by yours truly. When doing comics, it always takes time for me, since I always construct an environment where the events taking place would make any sort of sense. After the enviroment is done, the story and events sort of unfold by themselves. Right now, I am working on a small-scale version of a similar thing: I am doing an full-room installation of one of the scenes from The Troll King, complete with actors and props, plus a dance performance. The whole thing is very lovely, but if the Swedish government would offer me a lot of land the size of a small town, no one would be happier than me."

Don't forget to check out our full-length interview with Kolbeinn, from February 2010, and, of course, Kolbeinn's awesome blog.