Jim Valentino Interview

Originally published July 1998. This is the first of two interviews I did with Jim Valentino. I really enjoyed his Guardians of the Galaxy and his early Shadowhawk at Image. Jim had made an unusual career move of working for Archie Comics. Typically Archie has this weird separate status from the rest of the industry where the writers and artists don’t jump across. It’s only been very recently that this has changed with Mark Waid, Fiona Staples, Chip Zardsky, Adam Hughes and others have done work for Archie. Going the other way Dan Parent has started doing work for non-Archie publishers.

Jim Valentino 2010 HobbyStar Toronto Fan Expo

Jim Valentino 2010 HobbyStar Toronto Fan Expo

An Interview with Jim Valentino

Jim Valentino is always been a daring comic professional. From his autobiographical Valentino, to Guardians of the Galaxy, to Shadowhawk, to a Touch of Silver and now to Sonic the Hedgehog he has one of the most diversified portfolios in the industry. Today he talks to us today about his current work, his past, his opinions and the hows and whys of the industry.

 

Jamie: Why are you doing Sonic the Hedgehog?

Jim Valentino: My 11 year old son, Joel is a big Sonic fan. I started talking to Ken Penders, one thing led to another and here we are. I’m doing it because it’s a lot of fun for me. I’ve never done funny animals before and am having a blast with it.

 

Jamie: What are you doing on Sonic – writing, drawing or both?

Jim Valentino: I’m penciling it. Ken Penders is writing and inking it.

 

Jamie: What will be your first Sonic issue and when will it be out?

Jim Valentino: It’s a Sonic Super-Special (#8, I believe) and it’ll be out in October or November. I have just agreed to pencil a three issue run on Knuckles (#’s 22-24, I believe), also from Ken’s scripts.

 

Jamie: In the past you’ve said you’ve been influenced by Jack Kirby and Robert Crumb. Who’s influence takes over when your doing Sonic?

Jim Valentino: Influences, for me, usually mean a point of inspiration as opposed to emulation. I am influenced by literally hundreds of artists. In the case of Sonic, I have model sheets that I go by. I tend to look at a lot of Spaz’s work–I think he’s absolutely brilliant.

 

Jamie: Do you think you can get typical superhero readers to try Sonic?

Jim Valentino: Hopefully, I think they’d be pleasantly surprised by it. There is a lot of sophistication in the stories and the continuity. But, conversely, I see it as a way to get the younger Sonic reader into super-hero comics.

 

Jamie: For those who’ve never read Sonic before, can you give us a list of the main characters and a little bit about them?

Jim Valentino: I believe this question would be better suited to Ken Penders, he’s the writer and has been for a few years now.

 

Jamie: How long do you think you’ll be doing Sonic?

Jim Valentino: I’m just signed on for this one special. Although Ken and I have had so much fun working on it that we’ve discussed the possibility of doing another.

 

Jamie: Will you be doing any other work besides Sonic?

Jim Valentino: Yes, in all likelihood, although I can’t say what at this time.

 

Jamie: Would you do anything different if you launched The Silverline today?

Jim Valentino: There may have been one or two books that I wouldn’t have signed on (no, I will not say which). Other than that, no, I don’t think so.

 

Jamie: Will you give The Silverline another chance if the industry improves?

Jim Valentino: I hadn’t considered the question before. I tend to look forward rather than behind, but I can’t say at this point. Perhaps.

 

Jamie: If you were in control of the comic industry, how would you get more people reading comic books?

Jim Valentino: Fewer continued stories for one thing. More accessible continuity. You shouldn’t need to be familiar with thirty years of history to understand a character or the situation he’s in. I’d make retail outlets more “family friendly”–that is, get the posters of half naked women and demonic imagery out of the store windows, put in characters that are familiar to the general populace (Garfield, Dilbert, Archie, etc…)

With printing and publication costs being what they are there is no way to lower the unit price, therefore it seems to me that you have to give the reader a full story within the book he’s buying–and you have to give the consumer a friendly atmosphere to purchase it in. We are sorely lacking in both these areas today.

 

Jamie: What kind of pencil(s) do you use and why?

Jim Valentino: I use Col-Erase light blue pencils to do my underdrawing because, as the name implies, they can be erased! And I just use a regular standard #2 pencil to draw with, probably because it’s just familiar and feels right in my hands.

 

Jamie: Do you listen to any music when your drawing? If so what bands?

Jim Valentino: Hardly ever. I usually watch TV when I’m penciling. I never listen to music or TV when I’m writing. If I listen to any music at all when I’m working it’s usually movie soundtracks, the instrumental kind. This is because of the heroic crescendos inherent in them–almost like a Wagner opera–very inspirational. I save the bands for when I’m driving.

 

Jamie: How do you think your art has improved over the years?

Jim Valentino: I think I’ve gotten better, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for an artist to make a self-evaluation like that. I am continually trying to improve my work and I am always studying.

 

Jamie: Out of all the characters you’ve drawn over the years, which were the most fun?

Jim Valentino: Each was fun as I was doing them. I loved doing them all. If I had to choose, I couldn’t. They all satisfied different parts of me.

 

Jamie: You have done both mainstream and “alternative” work. Which of the two do you prefer?

Jim Valentino: Like the answer above, I don’t deal in “favorites”–I tend to enjoy whatever it is I’m working on at the moment. There is a great satisfaction in presenting a more “serious” piece like, A Touch of Silver, but, conversely, it is also fun to play with more iconal creations (such as you’d find at Marvel or DC) again, both fill a niche in the creative process.

 

Jamie: What is the current status of Altered Image?

Jim Valentino: I’m working on the third and final issue right now.

 

Jamie: I hear your a big Avengers fan, what do you think of the Busiek/Perez issues?

Jim Valentino: Absolutely exquisite! I’m a big fan and a personal friend of both George and Kurt’s, so I may be a bit prejudiced in my assessment, but I am greatly enjoying their work on the title.

 

Jamie: Is there any other comic work from you we will be seeing?

Jim Valentino: Save for that mentioned above, there is nothing solid. I have about three or four projects that I’m considering at this point, I am uncertain which of these I’ll actually get to first. The ones we’re sure of at this time are Altered Image, The Sonic Super-Special and Knuckles #22-24. What comes after that only time will tell…and that’s just the way I like it! Every day is an adventure when the future holds so many options and possibilities!

 

Roger Stern Interview

Originally published in June 1998. I was really excited about this interview. The first comic I ever bought was Avengers #276 by written by Roger Stern. The following story line in Avengers (Assault on Olympus) made me a comic fan for life. Back when I first started reading comics I wasn’t paying attention to the credits in them. After I graduated college (and was poor) I couldn’t afford very many new comics, so I did a lot of re-reading of my old ones. That’s when I discovered that I really liked Roger Stern stories and they also held up really well. Roger is one of the creators I’ve not yet met in person, but some friends of mine has (they actually had a sit down lunch with him, his wife Carmela and Kurt Busiek) and they told me he is a great guy.

 

An Interview with Roger Stern

When long time comic readers think of great writers, Roger Stern is a name that always pops up. He has written everything from Avengers to Starman, from Dr. Strange to Legionnaires. This month, we got him to talk about his past, present, and future work. Plus, his life outside the comicbook industry.

 

 

Jamie: Do you remember the first comic book you read? What was it?

Roger Stern: No, I read my first comic over 40 years ago, so I don’t remember which one came first. But it was probably an issue of WALT DISNEY’S COMICS & STORIES.

 

Jamie: Did you always want to become a comic book writer or were you aiming for something else?

Roger Stern: Actually, I set out to be an engineer. But I became disenchanted with engineering school and transferred to Indiana University, where I majored in radio and television. After graduation, I worked at a radio station in Indianapolis for a couple of years, and did a little freelance writing (for little or no pay) on the side. I had actually sold a PHANTOM story to Charlton when the radio gig dried up. (Charlton canceled THE PHANTOM before my story was ever used, but at least I was paid.)

 

Jamie: What kind of formal writing education did you receive?

Roger Stern: Very little. I tested out of the college level composition courses. I did take some journalism courses as part of the radio and television curriculum, but most of my education was on-the-job, writing commercial copy, record reviews, and the like.

 

Jamie: What other jobs did you have before writing comics full time?

Roger Stern: Before the radio job, I worked as a drill-press operator at a couple of small factories and a general worker for a machine shop. And of course, there were all those summers of mowing lawns and painting fences.

 

Jamie: How did you break into the comic industry?

Roger Stern: I got the chance to test for a proofreading position at Marvel in December of 1975. I passed and have been working comics ever since.

 

Jamie: Marvel is going to make your Masters of Evil II / Mansion Under Siege Avengers story into a TPB (Trade Paperback). Do you know if anything else you’ve written is going to be reprinted as a TPB?

Roger Stern: The Avengers story is the latest trade paperback reprinting that I know of. My work has also been reprinted in THE BEST OF MARVEL COMICS, CAPTAIN AMERICA: WAR & REMEMBRANCE, RETURN TO THE AMALGAM AGE OF COMICS: THE MARVEL COMICS COLLECTION, SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN: NOTHING CAN STOP THE JUGGERNAUT, SPIDER- MAN: HOBGOBLIN LIVES, SPIDER-MAN: THE ORIGIN OF THE HOBGOBLIN, SPIDER-MAN: THE SAGA OF THE ALIEN COSTUME, SPIDER-MAN’S GREATEST VILLAINS, THUNDERBOLTS: MARVEL’S MOST WANTED, THE VERY BEST OF SPIDER-MAN, X-MEN VS. THE AVENGERS, X- MEN: DANGER ROOM BATTLE ARCHIVES, and over a dozen Superman Trades.

 

Jamie: Of all your stories, which ones are you proudest of?

Roger Stern: The Avengers Mansion story is up there … along with a half-dozen or so SPIDER-MAN stories, my run on CAPTAIN AMERICA, some DOCTOR STRANGE stories, several Superman stories, and most of my run on STARMAN.

 

Jamie: You wrote the Death and Life of Superman novel, what are the differences between writing a book vs. writing a comic book?

Roger Stern: You have to work harder to sell an action scene in prose. With a comic, you can tell the artist to draw a spectacular explosion, and there it is! Describing that explosion effectively in cold hard type is serious work. On the other hand, I found that long dialogues — which in comics can come off as a series of talking heads (if you’re not careful) — are much easier in prose.

 

Jamie: Are you planning on writing other novels?

Roger Stern: Not at present.

 

Jamie: I hear you and Kurt Busiek are going to change Photon’s name to something else… any winners yet on the new name?

Roger Stern: I’m still lobbying for Captain Marvel, as that is who she was created to be. Unfortunately, someone else is currently using that name.

 

Jamie: What’s up and coming with new Marvel Universe stories and creative teams?

Roger Stern: After the initial Strucker/Invaders arc, there’s a four-issue arc with a quartet of Monster Hunters set in the era of the pre-hero TALES OF SUSPENSE, TALES TO ASTONISH era. After that, we have — in no particular order — a Revolutionary War story (inspired by a subplot from one of Jack Kirby’s Captain America stories), the story of Doctor Strange’s return to America (after his apprenticeship to the Ancient One), maybe a story featuring a pre- FF Reed Richards and Ben Grimm, and eventually (I promise!) the Eternal Brain!! Upcoming artists include Mike Manley, Jason Armstrong, Neil Vokes, and Brent Anderson.

 

Jamie: Other than Marvel Universe and Legionnaires, what else will you be doing?

Roger Stern: I recently co-plotted SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #259-261 with Glenn Greenberg and a CAPTAIN AMERICA/IRON MAN ANNUAL with Kurt Busiek (which Mark Waid will be scripting). I’m about halfway through the scripting of SUPERMAN: A NATION DIVIDED, an Elseworlds one-shot set during the Civil War. And I’m plotting a secret project which I can’t tell you about yet.

 

Jamie: Last year at San Diego Con you said “But there’s just so many of them!” in regards to writing Legionnaires. How do you feel about the big cast of characters now that you have been writing them for an additional year?

Roger Stern: Still too many of them. But we hope to get around this by focusing on subsets of the team … probably to the sounds of wailing and teeth-gnashing from the hardore Legion fans who want to see all the Legionnaires in every issue (and don’t have to write the bloody things).

 

Jamie: How do you feel about the new editorial decision to move Legionnaires to a more action oriented plot lines?

Roger Stern: No problem with that. (Actually, we’ve always tried to put as much action into the stories as we could. It was just hard to see with all of those Legionnaires in the way!)

 

Jamie: I hear you’re a big lover of snakes, can you describe your pets? How many snakes do you have? What kind of snakes are they?

Roger Stern: Carmela and I have a dozen or so … some common Garters, a couple of King Snakes, several Rat Snakes, and a Ball Python. They’re clean, non-demanding creatures who don’t take up a lot of room. They don’t bark and when they shed, it’s all at once. Did I mention that they’re hypoallergenic? If you’re allergic to dog and/or cat dander, you might want to consider a snake. Of course, they won’t fetch …

 

Jamie: Did your love for snakes cause you to change Princess Projectra into a snake? Or was there another purpose for turning her into a snake?

Roger Stern: I -didn’t- change Princess Projectra into a snake. In the new continuity, I introduced a new character with similar powers, a divergent background, and a more serious name. I decided that Sensor would be a snake because — as Carmela has rightfully pointed out — there are too many snake-based villains out there. And, as I was being forced to add some Legionnaires anyway, I wanted to add a non-humanoid to the mix, as well as a member (Umbra) who was -not- white and male.

 

Jamie: Are there any members of the Legionnaires about whom you would like to write a solo series?

Roger Stern: Not off hand, no.

 

Jamie: If you could buy one comic character and do an indy title with him/her, who would that character be?

Roger Stern: I wouldn’t be interested in removing any established characters from their home universe. I don’t see any point in that.

 

Jamie: Do you have any aspirations to become an editor?

Roger Stern: I’ve been an editor. Didn’t like it.

 

Jamie: What did you think of the last episode of Seinfeld?

Roger Stern: I wish that it had been as funny as the rest of the series.

 

Terry Moore Interview

Strangers In Paradise was one of the first non-superhero comics I bought regularly as an adult. It was the first Image Issue, the colour Jim Lee pages interested me and then the rest of it I enjoyed as well. I’ve met Terry (and his wonderful wife Robyn) at several conventions and even got to chat with them outside of a convention in Toronto after a Paradise City Toronto Comic Con convention. This interview was originally published in May 1998. Forgive some of my dumber questions, I still had some growing up to do.

Terry and Robyn Moore Paradise Comics 2007 Toronto Comic Con

Terry and Robyn Moore Paradise Comics 2007 Toronto Comic Con

An Interview with Terry Moore

Strangers in Paradise is a Eisner Award winning book done by Terry Moore. Mainstream comic readers might remember it best when it was at Image Comics, but it is still one of the most successful and well known completely independent comic books around.

 

Jamie: What is your daily schedule like?

Terry Moore: I start work around 10 o’clock and go until about midnight, breaking for lunch and dinner. I do this seven days a week. Most of the work is writing and drawing, some of it is business and email things.

 

Jamie: How much time do you spend writing vs. drawing?

Terry Moore: Most of my waking hours. I go to bed hoping I’ll dream of scenes. I lay in bed in the morning running scenes and setups through my head while it is still uncluttered.

 

Jamie: How many times do you go over your story/script and change it before you begin to draw it?

Terry Moore: Countless. Endlessly. I write and rewrite until I finally draw and ink it and then I change it the next morning. Then I finish the sequence and make changes, then I finish the book and make changes just before I send it to the printer. Then I read the book and think I should make changes and realize I can’t anymore. Then I consider changing it for the tpb.

 

Jamie: Are you completely satisfied with your work when you finished?

Terry Moore: No, never a whole book. But there are panels and scenes and moments that make me very happy.

 

Jamie: What part of the book do you enjoy writing the most? The Poems? Comedy? Drama?

Terry Moore: I love it most when I capture the emotion I was going after, no matter how I did it. The tools don’t really matter. Just, if I can make the reader feel connected to the moment.

 

Jamie: Do you find it easier to write male or female characters?

Terry Moore: They require the same effort, it’s just their perks and mysteries are in different places.

 

Jamie: Will Katchoo ever have a sexual relationship with a female lover?

Terry Moore: She has already had several.

 

Jamie: Since you know women so well, what do us geeks have to do to get laid?

Terry Moore: Well, Bill Gates came up with a good solution. I don’t think he had any trouble getting dates before he got married.

 

Jamie: What’s the latest news about Strangers in Paradise in other media?

Terry Moore: There is no SIP interest or activity outside of the publishing industry. The HBO deal is dead.

 

Jamie: Any chance of a Strangers in Paradise novel?

Terry Moore: Maybe, someday. I certainly have it all outlined.

 

Jamie: Is there an official SIP website?

Terry Moore: Not yet. But we’re building one now.

 

Jamie: I noticed your recent art doesn’t emphasize the more extreme melodrama parts that was in your earlier issues. Are you consciously changing that?

Terry Moore: I think so. I allow the art to morph and evolve freely. I don’t try to conform it to a “SIP look”. I don’t want to be trapped by my own creation.

 

Jamie: What do you have a hardest time drawing?

Terry Moore: Architecture and segway scenes I have no emotional attachment to.

 

Jamie: What advice can you give to struggling indy comic publishers?

Terry Moore: Work under the assumption that all you need to do is make the coolest comic in the world and everything will work out. If sales are low, look at the book and what it has to offer that no other book in the industry has. If you have a genre comic or a new improved version of something that’s already out, you’re going to be disappointed I’m afraid. This industry needs brand new ideas packaged with jaw-dropping gorgeous art.

 

Steve Darnall Interview

This is my interview with Steve Darnall. He’s probably best know for co-writing Uncle Sam, a Vertigo book he did with Alex Ross. It is a fantastic book and I’m surprised Darnall didn’t get a lot more mainstream comic writing work out of it. This interview was originally published in May 1998.

 

An Interview with Steve Darnall
Steve Darnall is best known for teaming up with Alex Ross and writing Uncle Sam, a book published by DC Comics. He also writes a comic called Empty Love Stories and is here to talk to us about comics, politics, his current and upcoming work.

 

Jamie: What is your book Empty Love Stories about?

Steve Darnall: For practicality’s sake, it’s a satire of old romance comics–and more importantly, about the attitudes many of those romance comics espoused. A great number of those stories of the 50s and 60s were written by middle-aged men–often men needing some money before the next superhero or western script came in–and aimed at adolescent girls. Now, if you were to ask a hundred people at random, “Which demographic do you think should be giving young women advice that will shape their lives forever?” I doubt very much if the first answer on their tongues would be, “Middle-aged men.” It’s absurd. So I just decided to be absurd in the extreme.

In the grand, philosophical sense, it’s about the fear of being alone.

 

Jamie: How long have you been doing Empty Love Stories?

Steve Darnall: The first issue came out in late 1994, another in ’96, a third earlier this year, and we’re planning to reprint issue #1 in July of this year–with another new issue scheduled for January–so that makes almost four years of sporadic loving.

 

Jamie: Where did you get your start in the comic industry?

Steve Darnall: The embryonic moment came when my friend Alex Ross came to me with an eight-page story he’d done involving the origin of the Human Torch. He wasn’t feeling very confident with his script and asked me to try my hand at it. I did so, we rammed the two scripts together at high speed and suddenly, I’d helped to write a comic book story. Some years later, the story appeared in Marvels #0.

As far as landing a position that suggested I could be in this business for awhile, that came when I took a editorial position at a trade publication called Hero Illustrated in 1993. I learned an awful lot about the industry, worked with some good people, won an Eisner Award and got to cultivate a lot of friendships–some of which I still maintain.

 

Jamie: Have you ever sent proposals to Marvel and DC? If so what were they?

Steve Darnall: Oh, sure. They were among the many companies that turned down Empty Love Stories–Marvel’s paying the price for that one now! Obviously, Uncle Sam came about in part because of a written proposal. I recently sent something to DC regarding a Batman story, but I hear there’s a long line of folks ahead of me waiting for that character.

 

Jamie: What inspired you to write Uncle Sam and pitch it to DC Comics?

Steve Darnall: The initial inspiration came from an evening spent over at Alex’s where I mentioned that Sam was one of the few unjustly neglected characters in the DC or Marvel Universes. At that point, the light bulbs over our heads went off. Over the next year or two–a period filled with the Persian Gulf War and the Los Angeles riots and the looming Presidential elections–we discussed the idea that there were really two Americas, the flawless giant we were told about and the rather fragile creature we were seeing in the raw. Then, as the years went by and one of us became a hot property–I’ll let your readers guess which one–Karen Berger approached the hot one about the idea of doing something for Vertigo. Alex brought up “U.S.” and the ball was officially rolling.

 

Jamie: I’m sure you got some reaction from conservative readers regarding Uncle Sam, how did you deal with them?

Steve Darnall: I accepted them as part of the diversity of opinions that make this nation great and wished they could have directed some of their indignation towards their elected officials, who are doing a far better job of selling us down the river than I ever could.

Actually, there wasn’t a lot of negative feedback brought to my attention, and most of what I did see came from people who’d only read the first issue. In fairness to them, I only read the first half of their letters.

 

Jamie: I got to ask this.. Who did you vote for in the last election?

Steve Darnall: Let me put it this way: neither Kang nor Kodos.

 

Jamie: What new books will you be writing?

Steve Darnall: The one thing that remains firmly in place is writing and publishing Empty Love Stories–something of a job in itself these days–and I’m working on getting a new issue written this spring so my artists can have it ready for release next January–just in time for Valentine’s Day. Jeff Smith is scheduled to do the cover. I’m keeping busy freelancing for some other media, in case the powers that be sink comics entirely.

Beyond that, I’ve got a couple of things in the pipeline but nothing so final that I want to talk about it now.

 

Jamie: As a writer, who are your influences?

Steve Darnall: Oh God…one that leaps to mind is S.J. Perelman. An absolutely brilliant humorist. John Steinbeck. Graham Greene. Howard Zinn. Willie Dixon. Shakespeare. Woody Guthrie. Hunter S. Thompson. The Beatles.

In terms of comics: Will Eisner, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Los Bros. Hernandez.

 

Jamie: What comics do you recommend to other readers?

Steve Darnall: Of the current crop, my hands-down favorites are Bob Fingerman’s Minimum Wage, and Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting. I’ve never been big on fantasy storytelling but Linda’s work has a great sense of humor and I’m always drawn to that clean, fluid style of art. I thought Ragmop was tremendous; I was really sorry to see it go. Starman has always impressed me: it’s great to see DC publish a book that’s basically about getting along with your father. Let’s see…Palookaville, Manya, Action Girl, Scary Godmother, Bone…I must like Lethargic Lad, since I’m always calling Greg Hyland with story ideas I hope he’ll use…the EC reprints, of course…and of course, anything by Evan Dorkin.

 

Chris Eliopoulos Interview

This is one of my earliest interviews and it’s with Chris Eliopoulos. It was published in April of 1998. This interview focuses on a comic strip / comic book that Chris was working on called Desperate Times which I really enjoyed at the time, but it gets a bit into lettering as well.

 

Chris Eliopoulos Interview

Chris Eliopoulos.. Do you recognize the name somewhere, but not quite sure where? He’s the LETTERER! You’ll find his name inside many big name comic books. Right now he works on Green Lantern and Savage Dragon (hmm.. a Green fetish? whats next, the Hulk and Martain Manhunter?!?). But forget all that. He’s now doing his own funny book called Desperate Times. No that wasn’t a crack, it truly is a funny book. Full of laugh your arse off comic strips that he’s been doing in the back of Savage Dragon. But enough of the introduction.. let Chris tell you about it.

 

Jamie: Why did you start Desperate Times?

Chris Eliopoulos: I’ve always wanted to do a comic strip. I was telling Erik that one day and he suggested I do one in the back of Savage Dragon.

 

Jamie: What is it about?

Chris Eliopoulos: Basically, it’s about two guys recently out of college, living in an apartment. One guy is cynical and the other a nice guy who is too shy. Marty(the cynic) looks down on everything while Toad is just trying to meet a nice girl. There are other characters as well as time goes on.

 

Jamie: Will it be a running story strip like Doonsbury or just one strip gags like Garfield?

Chris Eliopoulos: I like to do a running storyline with humorous endings. So, each strip can be self-contained but can be read on the whole and still, hopefully, get a laugh.

 

Jamie: Be honest, are you the main character?

Chris Eliopoulos: Marty is definitely me. I’ve gotten quite cynical. Toad is based on a friend of mine from college–he looks like him, but he is the more thoughtful me from years ago. I always read interviews with creators saying their characters are other people, but also themselves and now I see what they mean.

 

Jamie: Are all the gags completely made up or did they happen in real life?

Chris Eliopoulos: Most of the storylines are based on things that have happened to me or things I’ve experienced, but it usually just gets my mind working and I play with the ideas until I get something funny.

 

Jamie: Have you ever tried to do comic strips professionally before?

Chris Eliopoulos: I’ve tried sending out samples to Syndicates, but I was always trying to give them a very homogenous, unoffending strips. Now that I’m working on DT, I don’t try to cater to people or not do something because I’m afraid of what people think. I do it for me. I’ve also done cartoons here and there in other comic books.

 

Jamie: What are your favorite comic strips?

Chris Eliopoulos: My all-time favorite is Bloom County. Great characters with an edge. Calvin and Hobbes was great. I try to enjoy Krazy Kat, but it’s kind of like Picasso–you know it’s great, but you have to work at it to enjoy. FoxTrot is good, For better or worse is a very nice strip, but sometimes gets too sickly sweet for me. It’s the cynic in me.

 

Jamie: Now that you have a monthly book full of Desperate Times, will you continue to do strips in the back of Savage Dragon?

Chris Eliopoulos: We’ll see if it’s a regular book. I’m going to put it out every other month if sales are good enough, if not Image will pull the plug. I plan on doing the strips in back of SD as long as Erik will have me. who knows, maybe if the book sells, I can do another strip in the back of Dragon.

 

Jamie: Do you want to do any crossovers with other comic books or strips?

Chris Eliopoulos: I don’t think my stuff lends itself to crossovers with many comic books, but there will be a slight crossover with Savage Dragon’s main story in issue #48. As for other comic strips, I’d like to see Marty bump uglies with Cathy.

 

Jamie: When will Desperate Times come out and how much is it?

Chris Eliopoulos: The first issue will be out in June with a $2.95 cover price.

 

Jamie: Do you think you will try other strips in the future?

Chris Eliopoulos: Like I said earlier, I may if the circumstance presents itself.

 

Jamie: Okay, now on to lettering. We always hear how artists like Jack Kirby and such are inspirations. Who do letterers get their inspiration from?

Chris Eliopoulos: Like everyone else, I never paid much attention to lettering, but I picked up on it later. Jim Novak, Mike Heisler, Ken Lopez, Phil Felix, Tom Orzechowski, Bill Oakley among others I think are great hand-letterers.

 

Jamie: How many books can you letter a month?

Chris Eliopoulos: Depends month-to-month. When Image first started I was doing something like 23 books a month. I’ve cut down a bit over the years to save my sanity. Now I do between 5 to 10 a month.

 

Jamie: Do you letter by hand or are you using computers and special fonts now?

Chris Eliopoulos: Both.

 

Jamie: What do you think of the computer lettering and special fonts?

Chris Eliopoulos: The process is good in that it saves time, but you have to be careful not to overwhelm the art by having every bell and whistle blaring. Lettering should be very subtle and not take away from the stars of the book–the art and writing.

 

Jamie: Do you have to fix spelling mistakes all the time?

Chris Eliopoulos: All the time–it’s a wonder that some writers can be call writers since they can’t spell a word.

 

Jamie: Who gets blamed when spelling mistakes gets through, you or the editor?

Chris Eliopoulos: The editor is ultimately responsible, but they also have proofreaders and others who check the book, but even so mistakes get through.

 

Jamie: Anything else you want to say?

Chris Eliopoulos: I just hope everyone gets a kick out of my stuff!

 

Erik Larsen Interview

This is my very first comic creator interview. I used to hang out on an IRC chat channel called #ComicBooks and one of the other participants was Sheryl Roberts. She said she wanted to put together an online fanzine and was looking for contributions. At the time I was part of a Fin Addicts Online mailing list devoted to Savage Dragon and also on there was Erik Larsen. Through the mailing list we’ve responded back and forth to each other’s messages and thought since we “knew” each other I could do an interview with him. I asked Erik ad he agreed. This interview was published in the very first CollectTimes issue, in April of 1998.

Erik Larsen 2008 San Diego Comic Con

Erik Larsen 2008 San Diego Comic Con

An Interview with Erik Larsen

Erik Larsen once wrote and penciled Spider-man stories for Marvel Comics. In 1992 he left Marvel to help form Image Comics and produced his own comic called the Savage Dragon. While continuing Savage Dragon, he has recently sent proposals to write Marvel and DC titles. Erik will be writing Aquaman starting with issue #50. With this interview, we ask him about his Incredible Hulk proposal, The Savage Dragon, Aquaman and writing in general.

 

Jamie: Erik, Sorry to hear you didn’t get the Incredible Hulk job. How were you told that you didn’t get the job, and how do you feel about it?

Erik Larsen: I got a phone call from Bobbie Chase and she gave me the news. I don’t feel too good about it, as you might expect.

 

Jamie: Can you tell us any details about your Hulk proposal?

Erik Larsen: Yes, but I’m not going to. It was pretty involved–eight pages, single spaced. There’s no point going into it.

 

Jamie: Some people are still suspicious about you proposing for two books that Peter David just left. Why did you propose for these books?

Erik Larsen: Well– I just thought I needed to get out and do something else for SOMEBODY. It’s been six years since I’ve done any work for anybody but myself and I wanted to get my name out there. I was talking to Chris Eliopoulos and frankly, I don’t know anybody up at Marvel or DC anymore. I asked him to let people know I was looking for a book to write and Kevin Dooley at DC called me about Aquaman. Now, I’ve never read the book so I had nothing to go by. Kevin sent me a few issues and I visited an Aquaman website to get up to speed on the basics. I thought about it and put together a proposal.

Later, Peter left the Hulk and since that was the book I always wanted to do–I HAD to do a proposal for that even knowing that it was a long shot since most hiring at Marvel goes to their lunch buddies.

It wasn’t so much of a “Peter David thing” as it was “these are the books that are open.” Had Kevin offered me Green Lantern, I’d be doing a Green Lantern proposal and trying to get caught up on that title.

 

Jamie: Will you be sending proposals for other Marvel and DC comics?

Erik Larsen: Not to Marvel– I’ve had my fill. At this point I’m a little burned out of the whole proposal process. At some point I’ve got to think that perhaps my body of work can speak for me. I really hate to piss away days out of my schedule to have the job be given to whoever shows up at the door. It’s quite frustrating.

 

Jamie: Are you trying for any writing job or are there characters in particular that you want to work with?

Erik Larsen: The Hulk was a character that I was very familiar with and I wanted to write–Aquaman was just the book that was available. I’ll make something out of it and I’m sure I’ll think he’s cool as all hell in a few months but I never thought of it as a book that I desperately wanted to do.

 

Jamie: What Marvel or DC character currently without a title would you like to do a new series with?

Erik Larsen: I’m not so ambitious that I want to do that at this point in my life. I liked Nova at Marvel and some of the Kirby characters that have been folded into Jack Kirby’s Fourth World at DC such as the New Gods and Mister Miracle but those are hard to sell without a strong artist attached to the project. It’s much easier to keep a boat floating than to build or repair a boat. You just look out for rocks and icebergs.

 

Jamie: Writing wise, how many other books can you take on?

Erik Larsen: If I wasn’t drawing–a lot. As it is–maybe four.

 

Jamie: Over the last 5 years with Savage Dragon, you have chosen not to use gimmicks like special covers or major crossovers. Why?

Erik Larsen: I’m more interested in doing cool comics. I’ve tried a few things to get some attention but I keep falling back on doing what I think are cool comics.

 

Jamie: What can you tell us about Savage Dragon #50?

Erik Larsen: It’s the conclusion of the Unfinished Business story where Dragon goes back to Chicago.The Dragon takes on the Vicious Circle in a final desperate battle. Carnage is the order of the day as the S.O.S. comes in to help Dragon against the most vile group of bad guys imaginable. An extra-length dose of Savage Dragon for those diehard Dragon fans! Dragon faces Horde at long last and damn near everybody gets into the action.

It’s a 100 page spectacular! Featuring pinups by the best guys in comics– Todd McFarlane, Greg Capullo and more than a few surprise artists (superstars >all)! Wizard Comics’ much sought after Savage Dragon 1/2 is reprinted for the first time along with Mighty Man stories that detail the past of Dragon’s most despicable bad guy–Horde!

Plus, a never-before seen Freak Force yarn by Larsen, Vic Bridges and Al Gordon tells the story of how that team came together band more Desperate Times from Chris Eliopoulos! Savage Dragon #50 wraps everything up in a nice neat bundle and paves the way for a brand new story in a completely new direction. It’s great jumping on point for new readers! Comes with our Highest Possible Recommendation!! You’ll blow a fat $5.95 on this thing.

 

Jamie: You have created a lot of weird villains in Savage Dragon. Who are your favorites and why?

Erik Larsen: Whoever I’m doing at the time. BrainiApe is a lot of fun to draw as is Octopus and OpenFace.

 

Jamie: Will Savage Dragon ever become a cop again?

Erik Larsen: That would be telling. I don’t like to give away much of anything.

 

Jamie: Are you involved with the Savage Dragon appearance in Big Bang Comics? If so, are you a fan of the Silver Age?

Erik Larsen: I’m involved as a reader. I enjoy the book a lot. I’m a big fan of comics from all ages.

 

Jamie: You have taken books like A Distant Soil by Colleen Doran “under your wing” into Image. Are there any new books coming in under you that we should watch for?

Erik Larsen: Desperate Times by Chris Eliopoulos.

 

Jamie: Will you be giving Aquaman any new powers?

Erik Larsen: No.

 

Jamie: What makes Aquaman an interesting character?

Erik Larsen: He’s underwater–his world is a different world than the one we live in. The fact that he’s a king. There’s a lot of cool stuff and potential.

 

Jamie: Do you plan on creating any new villains or supporting characters for Aquaman? If so can you tell us about them?

Erik Larsen: There will be a LOT of new stuff.

First there’s Noble-who comes from the hidden city that is deep below where Atlantis now sits. It was his understanding that HE ruled the sea and since he’s never run into Aquaman and since his race predated the sinking of Atlantis–se seems to be in the right on this one. Noble is young and handsome–He’s clean shaven, dark haired and has a cleft in his chin–very dashing. Think Lancelot. He sweeps Mera off her feet and forces poor Arthur to fight for her affection.

Lurkers– are Noble’s people. They’ve dug a maze of tunnels through the earth that are like subway tunnels to other oceans. This is all in the darkest depths of the ocean and very appealing to the Atlantians and Aquaman in particular. These tunnels will lead to the discovery of many undersea races and cities all over the globe.

Rock Creatures– are the race of lava men whose path the Lurkers crossed to build theit underground tunnels. They’re stupid and deadly.

Land Lovers. Blubber, Sheeva and Lagoon Boy are three characters who fall in love with and want to explore the surface world. Blubber is an intelligent whale (son of Pakkul: Aquaman’s whale friend while growing up) who’s an inventor. He’s fashioned mechanical legs and arms for himself and a wheel chair for the mermaid Sheeva. Lagoon Boy is a kid version of a Creature from the Black Lagoon type who can puff himself up like a blowfish to frighten off prey. This intrepid trio is earthbound for adventure.

Plus a lot more–especially villains.

 

Jamie: Do you have plans for other DC heroes appearing in Aquaman?

Erik Larsen: Not right away. Okay–some right away but none are there to hang out for long. My first issue Aquaman #50 has his birthday and folks drop by to pay their respects.

Although Aquaman is in the Justice League– I’m not going to dwell on this. In terms of the character and the book–Aquaman should never seek their help. That’s not to say that they wouldn’t ever show up but that he’d feel that asking for their help was a sign of weakness–to Aquaman, they need HIM–not the other way around.

I want to make this a great comic that stands up on its own–not one dependant of guest stars to keep it going. That means I’m going to have to make Atlantis and Aquaman the focus– not dwell on other characters from comics outside of my influence. I can’t plan anything long term with a guest star so why go there when I can do something better that’s internal and can have lasting effects on the book?

 

Jamie: Thanks again for the interview. Any other comments you want to add?

Erik Larsen: Buy lots of my funnybooks so my kids can eat.

 

Update! The Combined Best Graphic Novels of 2016!

Since I posted this I’ve had a couple of people point out some sites I’ve missed. This list has now been updated with those lists and the new totals.

Over the last few months there have been many, many websites with “Best of 2016” lists concerning comic books and graphic novels. If you’ve looked at a few, you may have noticed some of the same books on different lists and seen some unique to only that list.

I went through over 120 different “Best Of” Lists regarding comic books and graphic novels and combined them into a spreadsheet. There are over 2,000 different listings of books from these websites. I should note that I’ve included books that were given honorable mentions. In short, if somebody thought it was a good book that you should check out, it’s on here. Pivot tables have been created to show which books appeared on the number of lists. Here are the books with 5 mentions or more:

Book Title Count Writer Artist Publisher
Paper Girls 42 Brian K. Vaughan Cliff Chiang Image Comics
March: Book Three 41 US Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin Nate Powell Top Shelf
The Vision 40 Tom King Gabriel Hernandez Walta and Michael Walsh Marvel Comics
Patience 35 Daniel Clowes Daniel Clowes Fantagraphics
Rosalie Lightning 29 Tom Hart Tom Hart St. Martin’s
Black Panther 27 Ta-Nehisi Coates Brian Stelfreeze and Chris Sprouse Marvel Comics
Monstress 23 Marjorie Liu Sana Takeda Image Comics
Ghosts 23 Raina Telgemeier Raina Telgemeier Graphix
Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq 20 Sarah Glidden Sarah Glidden Drawn and Quarterly
The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye 18 Sonny Liew Sonny Liew Pantheon
Dark Night: A True Batman Story 18 Paul Dini Eduardo Risso DC/Vertigo
DC Universe: Rebirth 18 Geoff Johns Various DC Comics
The Sheriff of Babylon 17 Tom King Mitch Gerads DC/Vertigo
Mooncop 17 Tom Gauld Tom Gauld Drawn and Quarterly
Saga 15 Brian K. Vaughan Fiona Staples Image Comics
The Wicked + The Divine 15 Kieron Gillen Jamie McKelvie Image Comics
Panther 15 Brecht Evens Brecht Evens Drawn and Quarterly
The Flintstones 14 Mark Russell Steve Pugh and Chris Chuckry DC Comics
Faith 14 Jody Houser Francis Portela and Marguerite Sauvage Valiant Entertainment
Sir Alfred 3 13 Tim Hensley Tim Hensley Pigeon Press
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 13 Ryan North Erica Henderson Marvel Comics
The Legend of Wonder Woman 13 Renae De Liz Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon DC Comics
Tetris: The Games People Play 13 Box Brown Box Brown First Second
Superman 13 Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason Patrick Gleason, Jorge Jimenez and Doug Mahnke DC Comics
Black Hammer 13 Jeff Lemire Dean Ormston Dark Horse Comics
Mockingbird 13 Chelsea Cain Kate Niemczyk and Ibrahim Moustafa Marvel Comics
Midnighter/Midnighter and Apollo 13 Steve Orlando ACO, Fernando Blanco, Various DC Comics
Hot Dog Taste Test 13 Lisa Hanawalt Lisa Hanawalt Drawn and Quarterly
Omega Men: The Complete Series 12 Tom King Barnaby Bagenda DC Comics
Beverly 12 Nick Drnaso Nick Drnaso Drawn and Quarterly
Hellboy In Hell 12 Mike Mignola Mike Mignola Dark Horse Comics
Giant Days 11 John Allison Lissa Treiman and Whitney Cogar BOOM!
Black Widow 11 Mark Waid Chris Samnee Marvel Comics
The One Hundred Nights of Hero: A Graphic Novel 10 Isabel Greenberg Isabel Greenberg Little, Brown
Wonder Woman: The True Amazon 10 Jill Thompson Jill Thompson DC Comics
The Fix 10 Nick Spencer Steve Lieber Image Comics
Big Kids 10 Michael DeForge Michael DeForge Drawn and Quarterly
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super Famous 10 G. Willow Wilson Adrian Alphona Marvel Comics
Peplum 9 Blutch Blutch New York Review Comics
Paul Up North 9 Michel Rabagliati Michel Rabagliati Conundrum Press
Libby’s Dad 9 Eleanor Davis Eleanor Davis Retrofit/Big Planet Comics
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur 9 Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare Natacha Bustos Marvel Comics
Blammo #9 9 Noah Van Sciver Noah Van Sciver Kilgore Books
Demon 9 Jason Shiga Jason Shiga First Second
Megg & Mogg in Amsterdam 9 Simon Hanselmann Simon Hanselmann Fantagraphics
Someone Please Have Sex With Me 8 Gina Wyndbrandt Gina Wyndbrandt 2dCloud
The Arab Of The Future 2: A Childhood In The Middle East, 1984-1985: A Graphic Memoir 8 Riad Sattouf Riad Sattouf Metropolitan Books
Providence 8 Alan Moore Jacen Burrows Avatar Press
Superman: American Alien 8 Max Landis Various DC Comics
Plutona 8 Emi Lenox and Jeff Lemire Emi Lenox Image Comics
Laid Waste 8 Julia Gfrörer Julia Gfrörer Fantagraphics
Moebius Library: The World of Edena 8 Moebius Moebius Dark Horse Comics
Doom Patrol 8 Gerard Way Nick Derington DC/Vertigo
Kill or Be Killed 8 Ed Brubaker Sean Phillips Image Comics
Nod Away 8 Joshua Cotter Joshua Cotter Fantagraphics
Bitch Planet 8 Kelly Sue DeConnick Valentine De Landro and Taki Soma Image Comics
Carpet Sweeper Tales 8 Julie Doucet Julie Doucet Drawn and Quarterly
Goodnight Punpun 8 Inio Asano Inio Asano Viz Media
Goldie Vance 8 Hope Larson Brittany Williams and Sarah Stern BOOM!
Wonder Woman 7 Greg Rucka Liam Sharp and Nicola Scott DC Comics
We All Wish For Deadly Force 7 Leela Corman Leela Corman Retrofit/Big Planet Comics
Soft City 7 Hariton Pushwagner Hariton Pushwagner New York Review Comics
The Nameless City 7 Faith Erin Hicks Faith Erin Hicks and Jordie Bellaire First Second
Future Quest 7 Jeff Parker Various DC Comics
Huck 7 Mark Millar Rafael Albuquerque Image Comics
Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus 7 Chester Brown Chester Brown Drawn and Quarterly
5,000 km Per Second 7 Manuele Fior Manuele Fior Fantagraphics
Frontier #11 7 Eleanor Davis Eleanor Davis Youth In Decline
Adulthood Is a Myth 7 Sarah Andersen Sarah Andersen Andrews McMeel Publishing
Last Look 7 Charles Burns Charles Burns Pantheon
Hilda and the Stone Forest 7 Luke Pearson Luke Pearson Nobrow
Moon Knight 7 Jeff Lemire Greg Smallwood Marvel Comics
Wonder Woman: Earth One 6 Grant Morrison Yanick Paquette DC Comics
Clean Room 6 Gail Simone Jon Davis-Hunt and Quinton Winter DC/Vertigo
Princess Jellyfish 6 Akiko Higashimura Akiko Higashimura Kodansha Comics
Fantasy Sports No. 2 6 Sam Bosma Sam Bosma Nobrow
Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! 6 Kate Leth Brittney L. Williams and Natasha Allegri Marvel Comics
Our Mother 6 Luke Howard Luke Howard Retrofit/Big Planet Comics
4 Kids Walk Into a Bank 6 Matthew Rosenberg Tyler Boss Black Mask Studios
Darth Vader 6 Kieron Gillen Salvador Larroca Marvel Comics
A.D.: After Death 6 Scott Snyder Jeff Lemire Image Comics
Orange 6 Ichigo Takano Ichigo Takano Seven Seas Entertainment
Ganges #5 6 Kevin Huizenga Kevin Huizenga Fantagraphics
Seven to Eternity 5 Rick Remender Jerome Opeña Image Comics
Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride 5 Lucy Knisley Lucy Knisley First Second
The Mighty Thor 5 Jason Aaron Russell Dauterman, Steve Epting and Rafa Garrés Marvel Comics
Shade, the Changing Girl 5 Cecil Castellucci Marley Zarcone DC/Vertigo
Snotgirl 5 Bryan Lee O’Malley Leslie Hung Image Comics
Secret Wars 5 Jonathan Hickman Esad Ribić and Paul Renaud Marvel Comics
Spidey-Zine 5 Hannah Blumenreich Hannah Blumenreich Webcomic – https://gumroad.com/l/aXcO#
I Am A Hero 5 Kengo Hanazawa Kengo Hanazawa Dark Horse Comics
Band for Life 5 Anya Davidson Anya Davidson Fantagraphics
Neil Gaiman’s How to Talk to Girls at Parties 5 Neil Gaiman Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon Dark Horse Comics
A City Inside 5 Tillie Walden Tillie Walden Avery Hill Publishing
How to Survive in the North 5 Luke Healy Luke Healy Nobrow
Black Magick 5 Greg Rucka Nicola Scott Image Comics
Animosity 5 Marguerite Bennett Rafael de Latorre Aftershock Comics
Cheap Novelties: The Pleasures of Urban Decay 5 Ben Katchor Ben Katchor Drawn and Quarterly
On a Sunbeam 5 Tillie Walden Tillie Walden Webcomic – http://www.onasunbeam.com/
Deadly Class 5 Rick Remender Wes Craig and Jordan Boyd Image Comics
Deathstroke 5 Christopher Priest Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz and Jeromy Cox DC Comics
Highbone Theater 5 Joe Daly Joe Daly Fantagraphics

Also of note, a handful of reviewers included a webcomic within it’s best books lists. There was a tie for 1st spot between Spidey-Zine by Hannah Blumenreich and Tilly Walden’s On A Sunbeam (5 picks each). A close 2nd was The Nib (4) as a general site, but also nominated was Nib hosted Bianca Xunise’s work and Melanie Gillman’s Witch Camp.

The full spreadsheet with pivot tables for books, writers, artists, publishers and more is available here.

Regarding Publishers:

Image was the most popular with 73 different titles.

Fantagraphics was 2nd with 62 different titles.

DC has 58 and Vertigo has 16 books.

Marvel has 51 titles.

Dark Horse has 33 titles.

53 Self-Published books made the list too.

 

Caveats:

Where a writer wrote ‘best of’ lists for multiple websites, I’ve cross referenced their lists and removed books that were named twice. I did not think it would be fair if those writers could tip the popularity scale by naming the same book(s) over and over again on multiple websites.

If a writer wrote for multiple sites, but one of those sites picks was a group effort, I did not remove books that are listed twice.

I did not include lists that were a mixed of prose books and graphic novels, with 1 exception (New York Public Library) because they had over 10 Graphic Novels on their list.

I did not use lists where the website was not in English and the books appeared to be translated versions.

I did not use nominations for upcoming awards.

For simplicity sake, if a list named a specific comic book issue or specific volume of a graphic novel, I removed those specifics and just listed the series title, with rare exceptions. Apologies to the reviewers of those books.

Some writers included books that were technically published in 2015 and at least 1 just listed best books they read that year, but the vast majority of those lists were 2016 books. The number of non 2016 books in the spreadsheet is very tiny and insignificant to the overall list.

Most of the lists were general ‘best/favourite books’ of 2016, but I also included lists dedicated to young readers, manga, etc… What type list is noted on column B in the spreadsheet.

A small number of lists also had rankings and those are included in Column C.

Here are the websites I used, including the ones with lists broken up into multiple pages.
A.V. Club – http://www.avclub.com/article/best-comics-2016-247013
Adventures In Poor Taste – http://www.adventuresinpoortaste.com/2017/01/05/the-15-best-manga-series-of-2016/
All The Wonders – http://www.allthewonders.com/books/best-of-2016-comics/
Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=as_li_ss_tl?fst=as:off&rh=n:283155,n:!2334088011,n:!2334119011,n:10207069011,n:10207117011&bbn=10207069011&sort=review-count-rank&ie=UTF8&qid=1479311361&rnid=10207069011&linkCode=sl2&tag=thebeat0b-20&linkId=29e69bcf1db7acc87ad1ccf25f740094
Audiences Everywhere – http://www.audienceseverywhere.net/best-comics-read-2016/
Austin Public Library – http://library.austintexas.gov/list/best-graphic-novels-2016
Autostraddle – https://www.autostraddle.com/drawn-to-comics-the-10-best-comics-of-2016-364541/
Barnes and Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/best-comics-graphic-novels-2016/
Barnes and Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/best-continuing-manga-series-2016/
Barnes and Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/best-new-manga-series-2016/
Benzilla – http://www.benzilla.com/?p=6040
Bleeding Cool – https://www.bleedingcool.com/2016/12/31/bleeding-cools-11-favourite-graphic-novelscollections-2016/
Bleeding Cool – https://www.bleedingcool.com/2016/12/31/bleeding-cools-11-favourite-single-comics-2016/
Book Minx – https://bookminx.net/2017/01/03/2016-in-review/#more-12194
Book Riot – http://bookriot.com/2016/12/14/best-comics-of-2016/
CBR – http://www.cbr.com/cbrs-top-100-comics-of-2016-100-76/
Chicago Public Library – https://chipublib.bibliocommons.com/list/share/200121216_chipublib_teens/684190077_best_teen_graphic_novels_and_manga_of_2016
Comic Alliance – http://comicsalliance.com/comicsalliances-best-of-2016-all-the-winners/
Comic Bastards – https://comicbastards.com/comics/best-of-2016-the-entire-list?rq=Best%202016
Comicosity – http://www.comicosity.com/best-of-2016-graphic-novel/
Comicosity – http://www.comicosity.com/best-of-2016-series/
Comicosity – http://www.comicosity.com/best-of-2016-single-issue/
Comics Alternative – http://comicsalternative.com/episode-220-our-favorite-comics-of-2016/
Comics Bulletin – http://comicsbulletin.com/11-comics-improved-2016/
Comics Bulletin – http://comicsbulletin.com/jams-top-10-2016/
Comics Bulletin – http://comicsbulletin.com/top-15-comics-elkin-reviewed-2016/
ComicsBeat – http://www.comicsbeat.com/the-beats-best-comics-of-2016/
Crave Online – http://www.craveonline.com/entertainment/1189005-10-best-comics-2016
Critical Hit – http://www.criticalhit.net/entertainment/ten-best-comic-books-2016/
Den of Geek – http://www.denofgeek.com/us/books-comics/best-comics-of-2016/261139/the-best-comics-of-2016
Entertainment Weekly – http://ew.com/gallery/best-comic-books-2016/the-best-comic-books-of-2016/
Fantagraphics – http://fantagraphics.com/flog/whats-store-top-ten-2016/
Five Books – http://fivebooks.com/interview/best-comics-2016/
Flying Colors – http://flyingcolorscomics.blogspot.ca/2017/01/flying-colors-retailing-brigade-best-of.html
Forbes – http://www.forbes.com/sites/robsalkowitz/2016/12/08/the-best-graphic-literature-of-2016/#4d66f12114f2
Forbidden Planet – http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2016/best-year-2016-andrew-girdwood/
Forbidden Planet – http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2016/best-year-2016-andy-luke/
Forbidden Planet – http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2016/best-year-2016-andy-oliver/
Forbidden Planet – http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2016/best-year-2016-james-lovegrove/
Forbidden Planet – http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2016/best-year-2016-joe-decie/
Forbidden Planet – http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2016/best-year-2016-julian-hanshaw/
Forbidden Planet – http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2016/best-year-2016-krent-able/
Forbidden Planet – http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2016/best-year-2016-metaphrog/
Forbidden Planet – http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2016/best-year-2016-robin-etherington/
Forbidden Planet – http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2016/best-year-2016-supplemental-sarah-mcintyre/
Forces of Geek – http://www.forcesofgeek.com/2017/01/best-of-2016-part-one.html
Forces of Geek – http://www.forcesofgeek.com/2017/01/best-of-2016-part-three.html
Forces of Geek – http://www.forcesofgeek.com/2017/01/best-of-2016-part-two.html
Forces of Geek – http://www.forcesofgeek.com/2017/01/graphic-breakdown-best-comics-and-graphic-novels-of-2016.html
Game Spot – http://www.gamespot.com/gallery/best-comics-of-2016/2900-1044/
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-graphic-novels-comics-2016
Graphixia – http://www.graphixia.ca/2016/12/260-the-annual-graphixia-year-end-spectacular/
Heroic Girls – http://www.heroicgirls.com/best-comics-2016-kids-teens/
High-Low – http://highlowcomics.blogspot.ca/2017/01/top-thirty-long-form-comics-of-2016.html
Hollywood In Toto – http://www.hollywoodintoto.com/the-years-best-comic-books-and-graphic-novels/
How to Love Comics – http://www.howtolovecomics.com/2016/12/06/10-best-comics-2016/
io9 – http://io9.gizmodo.com/the-20-best-comics-of-2016-1790283155
Just Indie Comics – http://justindiecomics.com/2017/01/16/best-16-comics-2016/
Lazygamer – http://www.lazygamer.net/comics-2/ten-best-comic-books-2016/
Library Journal – http://lj.libraryjournal.com/bestbooks2016/graphicnovels.php
Mental Floss – http://mentalfloss.com/article/89562/30-most-interesting-comics-2016
Multiversity Comics – http://www.multiversitycomics.com/news-columns/2016-yir-anthology/
Multiversity Comics – http://www.multiversitycomics.com/news-columns/2016-yir-digital/
Multiversity Comics – http://www.multiversitycomics.com/news-columns/2016-yir-limited/
Multiversity Comics – http://www.multiversitycomics.com/news-columns/2016-yir-new-series/
Multiversity Comics – http://www.multiversitycomics.com/news-columns/2016-yir-ogn/
Multiversity Comics – http://www.multiversitycomics.com/news-columns/2016-yir-reprint/
Multiversity Comics – http://www.multiversitycomics.com/news-columns/2016-yir-single-issue/
Multiversity Comics – http://www.multiversitycomics.com/news-columns/2016-yir-translation/
Nerdist – http://nerdist.com/the-16-best-comics-of-2016/
New York Times – https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/02/books/review/the-seasons-best-new-graphic-novels.html?_r=1
NPR – http://apps.npr.org/best-books-2016/#/tag/comics-and-graphic-novels
Odyssey – https://www.theodysseyonline.com/top-5-creator-owned-comics-2016
Olathe Downtown & Olathe Indian Creek Libraries – http://www.olathelibrary.org/kids/blog/staff-picks-2016
Omnivoracious – http://www.omnivoracious.com/2016/11/graphic-novel-friday-best-of-2016.html
Panel Platter – http://www.panelpatter.com/2016/12/james-2016-favorites-part-1-favorite.html
Paste Magazine – https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/12/10-amazing-indie-self-published-comics-you-might-h.html
Paste Magazine – https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/12/the-best-comics-of-2016.html?a=1
Print Mag – http://www.printmag.com/comics-and-animation/best-comic-books-year-designer-guide/
Publishers Weekly – http://best-books.publishersweekly.com/pw/best-books/2016/comics
Publishers Weekly – http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/comics/article/72373-march-book-three-tops-10th-annual-pw-graphic-novel-critics-poll.html
Random Thoughts – https://lars.ingebrigtsen.no/2016/12/21/the-best-comics-of-2016/
Richland Library – http://www.richlandlibrary.com/recommend/top-ten-great-graphic-novels-teens-2017
Rob Kirby – http://robkirbycomics.com/RobKirbyComics/Blog/Entries/2016/12/12_Robs_6th_Annual_Top_20_Comics_List__the_2016_Edition.html
Savage Critic – http://www.savagecritic.com/uncategorized/abhay-2016-another-year-that-i-mindlessly-consumed-oh-god-oh-god-make-it-stop-uncle-uncle/
School Library Journal – http://www.slj.com/2016/11/reviews/best-of/top-10-graphic-novels-2016#_
Slate – http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2016/12/top_10_best_comics_and_graphic_novels_of_2016.html
Study Group Comics – http://studygroupcomics.com/main/process-party-episode-12-the-best-of-2016/
TCJ – http://www.tcj.com/the-best-comics-of-2016-according-to-some/
The Comics Reporter – http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/fff_results_post_467_best_of_2017/
The Daily Dot – http://www.dailydot.com/parsec/best-superhero-sci-fi-comics-2016/
The Globe and Mail – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/the-globe-100-the-best-books-of-2016/article33132356/#collection/comicsfive2016/
The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/dec/04/observer-graphic-books-of-year-2016-stan-nan-hundred-nights-hero-lost-time-proust-irmina-mooncop
The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/dec/19/best-comic-books-graphic-novels-2016-hellboy-wonder-woman
The Hollywood Reporter – http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/best-comic-books-2016-series-read-959653
Under the Radar – http://www.undertheradarmag.com/lists/under_the_radars_top_25_comic_books_and_graphic_novels_of_2016/
Unwinnable – http://www.unwinnable.com/2016/12/28/the-best-comics-of-2016/
Uproxx – http://uproxx.com/hitfix/2016-best-comics/
Vox – http://www.vox.com/culture/2016/12/21/13919580/best-new-comics-2016
Vox – http://www.vox.com/culture/2016/12/28/14009216/the-best-comic-books-of-the-year
Vu Weekly – http://www.vueweekly.com/148643-2/
Vulture – http://www.vulture.com/2016/12/best-comic-books-of-2016.html
Washington Post – https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/best-graphic-novels-of-2016/2016/11/17/684ef15c-9dde-11e6-9980-50913d68eacb_story.html
Wired – https://www.wired.com/2016/12/best-comics-2016/
Women Write About Comics – http://womenwriteaboutcomics.com/2016/12/27/wwacs-favorite-big-press-comics-of-2016/?utm_content=bufferc7199&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
Your Chicken Enemy – http://www.danielelkin.com/2016/12/top-15-comics-i-reviewed-in-2016.html (Duplicate List)
Bomb Magazine – http://bombmagazine.org/article/42281213/just-a-few-of-the-best-comics-of-2016
Calgary Public Library – https://calgary.bibliocommons.com/list/share/393989767_calgarylibrary_adults/777209168
CBC – http://www.cbc.ca/books/bestbooks2016/
Guide Live – http://www.guidelive.com/comic-books/2016/12/27/perfect-panels-10-best-comic-books-2016
Everett Public Library – A Reading Life – https://areadinglife.com/2016/11/28/best-of-2016-adult-fiction-graphic-novels/
Flood Magazine – http://floodmagazine.com/42168/flood-presents-the-year-in-arts-and-culture/
The Hundreds – https://thehundreds.com/blog/only-built-4-true-believers-the-best-5-comics-of-2016/
ICPL – http://blog.icpl.org/2016/12/30/icpl-top-staff-picks-for-2016-graphic-novels/
Irish Examiner – https://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/artsfilmtv/truth-is-stranger-than-these-comic-fictions-437019.html
Lafayette Public Library – https://lplbooksandbeyond.com/2016/11/30/dont-miss-list-great-graphic-novels-of-2016/
NewsOK – The Oklahoman – http://newsok.com/article/5532325
Pierce County Library System – http://www.piercecountylibrary.org/books-materials/best-2016.htm
The Herald – http://www.heraldscotland.com/arts_ents/books_and_poetry/14971551.Graphic_Content__The_Best_Graphic_Novels_of_the_Year/
New York Public Library – https://www.nypl.org/books-music-dvds/recommendations/award-winners/ya
San Jose Public Library – https://www.sjpl.org/blog/best-new-graphic-novels-2016

George Perez Interview

George Perez – 2003 HobbyStar Toronto Fan Expo

This was originally published in June 2000.

This interview became a wake up call for me. Normally when somebody got some breaking news other sites would mention it and link to the source. It was seen as ethical, without it being formally defined in that way. George Perez leaving the Avengers (which was a top selling book at that time) was major news and it wasn’t announced anywhere yet. When I told Comic Book Resources I was stunned to see that instead of mentioning it and linking to the interview, they instead contacted George, got confirmation and then announced the news themselves as if they broke it. I learned after that to not give them anymore news. The internet comic community, which used to be very volunteer minded, co-operative place was now commercial. The desire to maximize traffic to make money was now more important.

Anyway, I’ve seen George at many conventions over the years and he’s always been super nice to me. He’s generally known as one of the nicest creators out there.


An Interview With George Perez

George Perez has been working in the comic industry for about 25 years. While some hot pencilers come and go, he’s is one of the very few that remains a fan favorite through the years. He has a long list of very popular works behind him both in DC and in Marvel. Among them, Teen Titans, Wonder Woman, Crisis of the Infinite Earths, and currently Avengers. George answers all sorts of questions and gives us some details about when he is ending his run on Avengers and starting his new work Crimson Plague, coming out through Gorilla Comics.

 

Jamie: We have heard lots from Mark Waid and Kurt Busiek about why they formed Gorilla Comics, but we have yet to hear from you. What is your reason for doing comics through Gorilla?

George Perez: The chance to be in full control over my own work is way too tempting to resist. However since I was on exclusive contract with Marvel, I couldn’t work on any new projects until July 2000 when my Marvel contract expired. Except for CRIMSON PLAGUE, which predated that contract With Event Comics seemingly on hiatus while Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti worked on marvel Knights it seemed the perfect time and place to restart the series. With Joe and Jimmy’s generous blessings, CRIMSON PLAGUE became my contribution to the Gorilla launch.

 

Jamie: Crimson Plague is coming out again through Gorilla Comics (Image). For those that don’t know anything about the series, what is it about?

George Perez: It’s about a genetically engineered woman who was first discovered as an embryo inside a dead woman on a mining colony on one of Jupiter’s moons. As the woman (named DiNA: Simmons) grew to maturity it was discovered that her blood was becoming more and more toxic until it was capable of totally disintegrating any organic or non-organic matter. And since DiNA: is a woman, the scientists learn that her menstrual blood could become an airborne virus capable of destroying an entire planet. She becomes a walking crimson plague– and that plague is on its way to Earth.

The artistic gimmick for this series is that every featured character is modeled and named after a real person. There really is a Dina Simmons (who is now pursuing a modeling career using the DiNA: Simmons spelling of her name). It’s a real artistic challenge.

 

Jamie: After the one shot, will Crimson Plague turn into an ongoing series? If so can you draw both it and Avengers at the same time?

George Perez: CRIMSON PLAGUE is scheduled as a limited series, currently eight bi-monthly issues, although that may change. As for AVENGERS, my contract expires in July and it looks like I won’t be continuing with it as a penciler past Issue #34, another double-sized issue. I just need to take a break from the monthly grind for a while and I’ve been offered a few short-term assignments that I’m looking forward to working on.

 

Jamie: What all happened with that eHeroes.com thing? Fans are still confused.

George Perez: As of now, there are still talks going on and, hopefully, this will all be settled by the end of June. I wish I could be more definite and forthcoming, but I’m just waiting with guarded optimism. Things look promising though and Gorilla Comics will survive regardless.

 

Jamie: Will Gorilla Comics be keeping their TPB’s in print and accessible like DC Comics does?

George Perez: That’s one of the cornerstones of Gorilla policy.

 

Jamie: Avenger fans wonder and worry how long you’ll be on the series. Any definite answer?

George Perez: I think I answered that already. It hasn’t been announced officially, but I see no reason in keeping it mum now. I should explain that this decision has nothing to do with my working relationship with anyone on the AVENGERS team. I love them all. It’s just that, according to my last medical check up, I need to slow down. My blood pressure’s up and my diabetes needs to be controlled better. That means more exercise, among other things, and my current schedule just doesn’t allow that. I’ll still be doing a lot of work; it just won’t be on a monthly title for a year or so.

 

Jamie: If you could add one more character to the Avengers, simply so you can draw them who would it be (excluding the Beast)?

George Perez: Tigra. I love the babes.

 

Jamie: You have done a lot of costume designing for Avengers, do you have a favorite?

George Perez: The Scarlet Witch. I think her costume is a perfect reflection of her character.

 

Jamie: Kurt Busiek is big on creating minority characters and made the amount of them on the Avengers team a major plot line. What is your feeling on minorities and their portrayal in the Marvel Universe?

George Perez: As a member of minority group myself, (I’m Puerto Rican) I must say that the issue never really meant anything to me one way or another. To me a hero transcends racial barriers. It is nice to see different races represented, but I’m more likely to follow a character because he or she or it is written well and drawn well. I do, however, enjoy characters having distinctive personalities and often that is well-served by the character having a unique background that distinguishes him her or it from the other. For example, I always liked what Victor Stone (Cyborg) brought to the Teen Titans dynamic. Ironically, the one Puerto Rican character I am credited for creating, the White Tiger, was actually created by writer Bill Mantlo. I just visualized him, using my childhood as reference. But it was Bill who gave that character his soul.

 

Jamie: There is a rumor floating around that after Avengers you and Kurt are going to do a series for DC featuring their Golden Age characters. Any truth to it?

George Perez: None whatsoever. Besides, I wouldn’t have wanted to compete with the memory of James Robinson’s and Paul Smith’s GOLDEN AGE. I thought that was great.

 

Jamie: You had once penciled a JLA vs. Avengers crossover that never saw print. One side says it didn’t come about because of politics, the other (Jim Shooter) said it was because of bad writing and when the writing got fixed you had found other projects to do. What is your take on that mess?

George Perez: To tell you the truth, this is a very old topic and my position is already well-documented, so I’ll just let it pass. All I can add is that, regardless of statements to the contrary, there was no other project I wouldn’t have dropped if the JLA/AVENGERS project ever had gotten greenlighted.

 

Jamie: Some people had doubts that you could keep a monthly deadline when it was announced that you were penciling Avengers. How do you draw all those details and keep the book coming out regularly?

George Perez: With great force of will and little sleep. Actually, it’s the only way I know how to draw. I love groups and details. I just had to work on my work discipline. Despite my health problems, I’m proud of that achievement.

 

Jamie: Where did you get your art training and how did you develop your popular style?

George Perez: I’m self taught and my style was based on emulating the artists whose work I admired.

 

Jamie: Who are your art influences?

George Perez: This is always a hard one. There are so many. Among the comic artists my first major influences were Curt Swan, Jack Kirby, Neal Adams, Gil Kane, John Buscema, Barry Windsor-Smith, Jim Starlin, Nick Cardy, Mort Drucker, George Woodbridge, Leonard Starr, Murphy Anderson, the list goes on and on, and continues growing. Outside the comics field I’ve been forever inspired by the likes of Norman Rockwell, Alfonse Mucha, N.C. Wyeth, Virgil Finlay, Salvador Dali, M.C. Escher, Bob Peak, Richard Amsel and so many others.

 

Jamie: If you weren’t an artist what would you be doing?

George Perez: Probably interviewing an artist.

 

Jamie: You have been a very popular artist for a long time, while many hot artists turn lukewarm in a few years. To what do you owe your longevity?

George Perez: I haven’t the foggiest idea. I try to maintain a certain level of excitement to my work and never sacrifice storytelling for flashy visuals– although they are not mutually exclusive. I just hope that my love for what I’m doing is evident– and contagious.

 

Jamie: Which of your many projects on are you proudest of?

George Perez: Inking Curt Swan on “Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?” A dream come true.

 

Jamie: Are there any writers you have yet to work with that you’d really like to?

George Perez: Yep. If Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman, Mark Waid, James Robinson, Grant Morrison, Devin Grayson, or Garth Ennis are ever interested in working with me, I’d be proud to be in any of their company.

 

Jamie: As of late we’ve had Siegel’s family, Joe Simon and now Martin Nodell ask for their characters copyrights back. What is your take on these events?

George Perez: I’m all for creators getting all the rights they can and there seems to be little dispute about the validity of the Siegel’s claims. There does appear to be some disagreement with the others, and I’m not familiar enough with those cases to make a valid judgment. Speaking strictly from a moral and artistic standpoint, however, I believe that all these creators were screwed out of just rewards for creating characters that have netted millions for their respective publishers. But then again, business decisions are seldom made by artists and moralists.

 

Jamie: I hear you are involved with a few charities. CBLDF just gave you a DEFENDER OF LIBERTY AWARD for the money you raised for them over the last three years. Can you tell us which charities you work for and what you do for them?

George Perez: I do pretty much the same thing for all of them. I go to conventions and draw like crazy, donating all my commissions to charity. I also boost the amount by printing up some color prints (colored gratis by my friend Tom Smith) of my CRIMSON PLAGUE characters DiNA: Simmons and Shannon Lower and those girls hawk them and pose for photos — all for donations. Among the organized charities I’ve worked for are The Charlotte Firefighter’s Burned Children Fund, The Muscular Dystrophy Association, Make-A-Wish, Florida Hospital Diabetes Association and The Juvenile Diabetes Association. I’ve also raised money to help some friends in dire financial straits and have presided over a few charity auctions as well. Interestingly, the CBLDF is the only charity that I ever have to explain or justify — and that makes it all the more imperative that we never take it for granted.

 

Jamie: I notice you are now posting on the ApeNation.com Message board, but you are very rarely seen elsewhere on the internet. Do you visit any other comic related web sites or gatherings (like Usenet)?

George Perez: No. I browse and lurk from time to time, but I’d never get any work done if I sat and typed answers all day — like I’m doing now. Hmmm.

 

Jamie: Anything else you’d like to say to the readers?

George Perez: Only that I’d better get back to work — or else they’ll have nothing of mine to read next month. Take Care.

Colleen Doran Interview

Colleen Doran – 2008 San Diego Comic Con

This interview was originally published in January 2003.

Colleen Doran is one of many creators I “knew” via online for many years before getting to meet her in real life. In this interview I ask her about the Warren Ellis Form and I think enough years have gone by that I should probably explain what that was and why it was important.

In the 1990’s most “comic book” talk on the internet happened on Usenet, which was a pre-world wide web and pre-web browser message board. You needed a software like FreeAgent and know your ISP’s Usenet server details to access it (like POP3 e-mail). Outside of that there was the CompuServ forums, but you needed to be a CompuServ customer to access them. One of the flaws of Usenet is that it was open to everybody and there wasn’t anybody in charge that could ban trolls. The most you could do was put somebody on ignore, but if they replied to a comment of somebody else, you’d see their comments (and their insulting and or lying about you). There was plenty of abuse, up to and including an asshole making a death threat against Peter David.

Warren Ellis created a Warren Ellis Forum on Delphi and nicknamed himself Stalin. He made it crystal clear that trollish or even bad behaviour would not be tolerated and anybody engaging in it would be banned from the forum. This lead to a popular forum with lots of comic creators and well behaved and often intelligent fans communicating regularly. A number of those fans are well known comic creators today. Other comic creators followed Warren’s lead and went on to create their own message board/forums.

Back to Colleen, she saved my bacon with this interview. CollectorTimes was a monthly web magazine and I needed an interview before the end of the month. I had an interview set up with another creator but because of Christmas stuff getting in the way, they bailed on doing the interview with apologies. Desperate, I took a chance and e-mailed Colleen to see if she would agree to an interview and get it done between Christmas and New Years. She agreed and came through for me. I would later meet Colleen in person at my first San Diego in 2008 and took this picture of her.

 


Colleen Doran Interview

Colleen Doran has been working professionally since the age of 15. Throughout her career she’s worked for all the major publishers as either an artist and/or writer. She has also worked for Lucas Film and Disney, among other companies. These days she is mainly known for doing A Distant Soil through Image Comics, a story she’s been wanting to do since she was a teenager. In this interview Colleen talks to us about A Distant Soil, her success outside of the traditional comic industry and other topics.

 

Jamie: You have been doing A Distant Soil (a.k.a. ADS) for a number of years now. How long do you see yourself going with the series?

Colleen Doran: I started doing this book professionally when I was in high school, which is hard for me to believe now! In fact, some of the pages in the current edition are actually from the original pencils samples I was showing publishers when I was a kid! It is very strange, I suppose, to be doing the same book all these years, but I am determined, if nothing else. I intend to go until the story is told and then it will be over. However long it takes. I imagine another year or so.

 

Jamie: Do you have a definite end for it planned out?

Colleen Doran: Oh, yes. The current storyline has about five issues left. I have two other, much shorter, story arcs, but I know the ultimate ending of every character and plotline. I have it all planned out.

 

Jamie: Among some creators there is a movement to do quick, cheap, thin graphic novels. But when you collect ADS you do more issues than usual, creating thick books. Why?

Colleen Doran: As a reader, I am not satisfied with thin, expensive books. They look cheap and cheesy. I hate them, always have. I want to give the reader real value for their money and a sufficient chunk of story to give them hours of entertainment. That is what I want as a reader, too.

From a purely commercial standpoint, a thin graphic novel disappears on the stands when it is spine out. It doesn’t have a satisfying heft and feel and less perceived value.

 

Jamie: Have you considered going straight to graphic novel with ADS? You’ve mentioned before that you lose money on the single issues and it’s the TPB royalty cheques that keep the series going.

Colleen Doran: The comic books don’t lose money, they just don’t make any. If it takes me two months to do an issue and I only earn $1,000, for all intents and purposes, I have lost all the money it took me to live on for that time.

I am afraid of getting bogged down while working on a huge chunk of story, so I would rather produce it in installments, even if it doesn’t really bring in any income. It is an enormous undertaking to do a 200 page book and to work in a vacuum for all that time with no feedback. I would prefer to just dole it out to those who want to see it. Those who don’t can wait for the trades.

 

Jamie: I recently bought a full color ADS graphic novel published by  StarBlaze Graphics, I also noticed they published some of Matt Wagner’s Mage books as well. What happened to them?

Colleen Doran: Donning was a bit of a mess. They were having financial problems for years before I signed on with them and had been bought out by their printer, so they weren’t an independent publisher like I thought when I went to them. They were very badly managed. There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the books they were publishing. Some of them were very good, but many were downright amateurish. Some of the books like Gate of Ivrel and later volumes of the Thieves World graphic novels had terrible sales, only a couple thousand each, and that was for color original graphic novels at a time when the comic book market was doing very well. Many other companies had GN’s selling tens of thousands of copies.

Eventually, Donning decided to close its trade publishing division. They sold our contracts to another publisher and there was a big class action lawsuit. Many of the authors ended up suing them, including me. It was a nightmare. We all settled out of court, but Donning has disappeared off the radar for good, I think.

It’s not uncommon for small publishers to be badly managed, particularly when they start to get big and expand. They don’t have the expertise to handle it. Donning was yet another example of that. They just weren’t qualified to do the business they were doing and yet wouldn’t go out of their way to get people with real expertise in the market. They had very limited knowledge of the direct market and they weren’t too savvy in the trades, either. In fact, their whole foray into graphic novels was something of a fluke. Before Donning began publishing graphic novels, they were really a kind of vanity press. They did subsidized books, pictorial histories. Cities and towns paid Donning to publish these things. So, when they did get the idea to begin publishing graphic novels and they sort of took off, they weren’t prepared to handle it, and they botched it pretty badly. They lasted as a graphic novels publisher for only about seven or eight years.

Donning had had some mild success doing science fiction books for a few years before they got into graphic novels. The Starblaze line was created by science fiction artist Frank Kelly Freas. They published a few books that did very well and that is how they got their feet wet in trade publishing, but they were complete know-nothings when it came to the direct market. They pretty much ignored it. It was weird.

 

Jamie: I understand you sell a lot of ADS books outside the traditional comic bookstores. Can you give us a rough estimate, percentage wise, of where your books get sold?

Colleen Doran: My orders on the third graphic novel came in and showed that more than 50% of my sales on the new trade were outside the direct market. A big chunk of those go to libraries, too. I wish I had more market penetration in major bookstores, but that is slow in coming. However, libraries love my books!

 

Jamie: You also attend Sci-Fi conventions and sell many books there do you not?

Colleen Doran: Yes, I do a number of them, though I have cut way back in the last couple of years because my work schedule is really brutal and I am just not doing many conventions anymore. I could expect to see much higher numbers at the World Science Fiction Convention than I would at San Diego Comic Con even though Worldcon would have only about 10% the attendance as San Diego. My take would be 100% higher at Worldcon.

 

Jamie: There was a rumor that CrossGen was going to try and “poach” some creators/books from Image Comics in order to grow their own creator owned line. Have you been approached yet?

Colleen Doran: I am committed to Image.

 

Jamie: Once ADS is completed, will you put the whole thing on CD Rom and sell it?

Colleen Doran: I hadn’t even thought about that! Maybe.

 

Jamie: You did a small web comic with Warren Ellis called SUPERIDOL for Artbomb.net. What was it like working with Warren?

Colleen Doran: I love working with Warren. I was thrilled when he chose me to do Super Idol. He has such great ideas and he is an exciting writer. I am working with Warren on a new graphic novel for Vertigo called Orbiter as well. I am penciling and inking it and am painting the cover. I am almost finished. I think I will be finished in a couple of weeks. It is 100 pages! I also worked with Warren on an animated project called Distance. I was the principal conceptual designer. It was optioned by Sony, but they shelved it after Final Fantasy tanked and the option has returned. I don’t know what’s going on with it now.

 

Jamie: Did you do SUPERIDOL on paper or did you work on a computer?

Colleen Doran: Oh, Super Idol is entirely hand painted. Each panel was a separate painting.

 

Jamie: Was getting it scanned in and looking right a big pain?

Colleen Doran: It really wasn’t too much trouble. Looked pretty good to me right off.

 

Jamie: The art and storytelling style in SUPERIDOL was very different from ADS. Had I not seen your name I would not have guessed it was you. What influenced you to draw in that manner?

Colleen Doran: I choose to do every project in a different style. I try to come up with something that suits the book. I believe that a cartoonist’s job is to create a unique look for each book and do what is necessary to tell the story in the manner that is most appropriate to the story, to the best of their ability. I don’t try to twist each project to suit me, I try to suit the project. I approach my work in much the same manner that an actor approaches a role. I want to disappear into the work. I don’t want to leave any stamp on the work except the stamp that gives the reader a feeling of satisfaction that they have thoroughly entered the world of the story. My job is world building. Some artists complain about having to change their style to suit a project, but no one complains if an actor changes his entire personality to fit a role. That is what I think I do best with my work: I change to suit the role, and the role is the story.

 

Jamie: Do you see yourself doing more “freebee” webcomics in the future?

Colleen Doran: Well, I didn’t do it for free! I got paid. But if someone wants to pay me to do another, sure!

 

Jamie: Do you see yourself trying to make a serious go at web comics like some artists do?

Colleen Doran: Not unless there is income to be derived from it, though I may do a couple of comics for A Distant Soil on my own website, just for kicks. Unlike a lot of artists, I am a pro and do this for a living, so the prospect of making my web comic an expensive hobby has little appeal. Some web comics pay, but most do not. If I want to do something for fun, my impulse is to go skydiving, not drawing! I need to get away from the board once in awhile!

 

Jamie: You were a frequent visitor to the Warren Ellis Forum. Has it’s demise affected you the same way it affected other people?

Colleen Doran: I don’t know how it affected other people because I am rarely online anymore. I didn’t really spend much time online before the forum and even before the forum went down, I drastically cut my online time. I am naturally introverted and while I enjoy communicating with other people, my desire to do so has a limit. Too much makes me nervous and upset. I have been very hermetic of late.

 

Jamie: These days it’s popular for some creators to say enough with the work for hire superhero comics! What do you think of them?

Colleen Doran: Well, whatever they want to do. But I don’t have any problem with it. I think about the project first. If it is a project I want to do, I will do it. I like superheroes and would gladly do them again.

 

Jamie: Legion fans tell me you had an Element Lad story done 10 years ago. Today the character is dead. Can you tell us about that story?

Colleen Doran: You know, I was a big Legion fan for many years. Everyone  knew that. But the last Legion editor flatly informed me that anyone who had been part of the previous Legion mythos was not welcome back on the book. In fact, I was slated to write and draw an issue of the Legion with Element Lad as the main character! My script had been approved by then editor KC Carlson, right before he left DC Comics, but when the new editor came along, he refused to go forward with the story and I didn’t get paid for my work. He wouldn’t even return my phone calls. I was very upset by that, so I stopped reading the Legion entirely. I didn’t even know Element Lad was dead until now! I guess I should be really upset! He was my favorite character!

The last time I was up at DC, I did show the Legion editor my new work on Orbiter and he completely changed his mind about me and asked if I might want to do some Legion work again sometime. However, he didn’t last another week at the company.

Anyway, that Legion story I did was written by Keith Giffen. I will never forget it. It was important to me in a lot of ways. It wasn’t my first Legion work, but it was my last. When I was in high school, Keith Giffen had seen my work in a fanzine and called to offer me a job on the Legion! I really wasn’t ready for it, but a few years later, I did get some small Legion jobs. Keith Giffen has always been very important to me. He was one of the first professionals to see my potential and he always treated me with absolute fairness and honesty. So, to get to work with him on a Legion tale with my favorite character Element Lad, was a real treat.

The story concerned Element Lad’s girlfriend Shvaughn Erin, who actually turns out to be a guy who has had a sex change! The fans went wild! Some of them really hated it! Politically correct gays got up in arms about it. Others were cool. I thought it was audacious and I loved it! However, there are about four pages in it that were drawn by Curt Swan. I became so sick with pnuemonia while working on that book I almost died. I’ll never forget it! I couldn’t even hold a pencil or speak. So, Curt finished the job. In a way, it was good, because I got to collaborate with Curt who was always one of my big heroes. Every year for Christmas and my birthday he would draw me a little picture of Element Lad with hearts and flowers or something. My agent would get him to do them for me. I loved Curt and I miss him terribly.

 

Jamie: What are you doing in the future?

Colleen Doran: Well, I am working on Orbiter as I said before. It is a science fiction tale about the space shuttle. The shuttle went on a mission and disappeared. Ten years later, it returns! Mayhem ensues. As a total space program geek, this is a dream project for me and I went gonzo on it. Frank Miller told me I was outdoing Geoff Darrow! The detail is out of control. I am loving it.

Also, I am doing a new series for DC with Keith Giffen. It is called Epoch of Zodiac or Zodiac for short. I am penciling and Bob Wiacek is inking, which is a blessing because I am very hard to ink and Wiacek is one of about three people who can pull it off. Zodiac is an epic fantasy about the warring houses of the Zodiac. It is very dramatic and political and is, in my humble opinion, Keith Giffen’s best work. People are going to go ape over this book. It is one of the most difficult things I have ever drawn in my life because each house of the Zodiac must have distinct looks, styles of architecture, clothing and props. Nothing can look comic-bookish or costumey. It is a monster task. The goal is to have the styles so distinctive that one look will tell you with which house someone is associated. That’s not at all easy. However, I think I am up to it because I am notoriously detail obsessed. Keith says I am the most fun he has ever had working with an obsessive compulsive!

I am also working on future issues of A Distant Soil. A Distant Soil is the story of a young girl who is born the heir to an alien religious dynasty. She is the center of a conflict between rival factions fighting for control of their world. It is extremely complex and highly character oriented. I adore working on this book. It is nearing the end of the principal story arc and we finally get to see who wins. But good guys are not always good guys in this story and things really don’t go in any one direction, so I am keeping people guessing. No one has correctly
pegged the ending.

I have only told one person what happens: Jeff Smith. I was pulling a marathon session on A Distant Soil one night and he was going berserk on Bone and we both just said “I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours!” During this eight hour phone call that went until about 5 AM one day, we both told each other everything about our books and where they were going and he had exactly the kind of reaction every author hopes for when he heard what I was up to, so now I am moving toward the end with confidence. If Jeff says it’s good, I’m okay!

I am also working on The Six Swans for Image. It is an adaptation of the old Brother’s Grimm tale of six brothers who were changed by their wicked stepmother into Swans, and the trials their sister must endure to save them. It is a very straightforward telling, but I have added some elements of my own. It will be a combination of illustration and graphic storytelling, much like Stardust, I imagine.

 

Jamie: Do you have any work lined up outside of the comic industry?

Colleen Doran: Actually, until this year, I have been doing a lot of illustration outside of comics, but this year I have so much comics work, I have cut back. however, I have been speaking to a major film studio for a few weeks about doing conceptual work on a feature film. It is up in the air. I am excited about it, but would have to live out of the country for awhile. I do not know if I will take it or not. It all depends.

 

Jamie: You have told a wide variety of interesting stories about your experiences in the comic industry, with crazy fans, bad publishers and other creators. Have you considered doing an autobiography comic?

Colleen Doran: I have thought about it, but actually, I have been working on an autobiographical screenplay with Keith Giffen. A publisher got buzz about the project and has approached us about doing it as a graphic novel first. We haven’t decided. The buzz on the screenplay is incredibly good. People who have read parts of it have laughed their heads off. Some of my experiences were horrific, but we have turned them into comedy gold. It’s the best revenge, really.

 

Jamie: I know in the past you had problems with crazy fans trying to break your hand and stalking you. Do you still have these problems today?

Colleen Doran: Very rarely. When I went pro, I was a very young girl. I was fifteen. I weighed 95 lbs and looked 12. Every creepy old pervert from coast to coast was chafing my trail. I got older, I got wiser and I learned to fight back. It has slowed down considerably.

Actually, Harlan Ellison took care of the stalker. This guy began creeping around when I was a teen. He used to write me letters saying I looked like a “little English schoolgirl”. He was in his thirties, I think, when he started, and here I was, a teenage girl. He would send me resumes and newspaper articles about him with his age scratched out so I wouldn’t know he was a middle aged perv. The guy was a total creep. This went on for a decade. One day I was boo-hooing to Harlan and he just said “Give me his number. I’ll take care of it.” Apparently, he made a phone call to this freak that scared the bejeezus out of him. We didn’t hear from him for two solid years. Then he started back up again and I went right to the police. Stalking laws have come a long way in the last decade and I think he finally got he message that if he didn’t stop his nonsense, he was going to end up in jail.

 

Jamie: Do you think the comic industry has matured since you began working in it?

Colleen Doran: Hell, yes. To be perfectly frank, I would like to blot out all of my early experiences and pretend they never happened. I am so enjoying my life in comics today, it is hard to believe it is the same business. My life now is the way I always dreamed it would be.

Kevin Nowlan Interview

Kevin Nowlan – 2007 HobbyStar Toronto ComiCON

This interview was originally published in July, 2007.

I have a horrible confession to make. When I was at a convention looking for somebody to interview, I was actually looking for Kevin Maguire. I did not know what he looked like so I was walking through the artists alley looking at names on the tables and saw a Kevin and immediately went over to introduce myself and ask for an interview.

Kevin Nowlan agreed, but said he had just done a long interview about his career that was now out in the TwoMorrows Publishing Modern Masters series. He asked me to pick it up and try to not ask him the same questions. This was a reasonable request and not unusual either. I usually try my best to avoid asking the same questions as I think one of the goals of an interview is to learn something new about the subject so I was glad Kevin made me aware of the Modern Master’s book on him.

Since Kevin agreed to the interview I felt I ought to go through with it. I was able to pick up the Modern Masters book right at the convention itself and took it home to read it. Little did I realize how great of an artist he was and felt dumb for not knowing who he was before. I came up with questions and did the interview via e-mail. Off to the interview.


Interview with Kevin Nowlan

Kevin Nowlan is a jack of all trades when it comes to comics. He’s known for penciling, inking, lettering, coloring and even color separations. He’s also done a bit of writing. Nowlan is probably best known for his work with Alan Moore on the Jack B. Quick stories within the ABC line of books, but he’s been working in the industry since the early 80s. Kevin answers questions about his early experiences in the industry, his art, Alan Moore, recent Witchblade & X-men work, and more.

 

Jamie: I imagine there wasn’t a lot of professional comic artists in Nebraska where you grew up. Who was the first comic professional you met?

Kevin Nowlan: No, Nebraska is pretty much a comic artist free zone. I think Gil Kane was the first professional artist I met. The Fantagraphics guys went out to eat with him when I was visiting them in Connecticut. I was too frightened to speak but I hung on his every word.

Later, I saw him again at conventions and inked a couple of stories that he penciled. For a while, I seemed to be his go-to inker at DC. They kept calling me every time he was scheduled to pencil something.

 

Jamie: I believe you inked both Gil Kane and John Buscema’s last work, which was in the comic Superman: Blood of my Ancestors (what a title, yeech!). Did you feel at all uneasy about inking another artist from the golden/silver age?

Kevin Nowlan: No, but I wasn’t as comfortable inking Buscema’s pencils as I had been with Kane’s. With Buscema, there was less information on the page. The book was in limbo for a year or more after Gil died. He’d penciled the first 24 pages but no one could think of an appropriate replacement penciler. There just aren’t any Gil Kane Juniors out there.

John Buscema seemed to make sense. Their styles couldn’t be more different but the book already resembled a Conan Annual so who better than John Buscema to finish it?

 

Jamie: Early in your career you worked for Fantagraphics. How did you first meet Gary Groth and work for him?

Kevin Nowlan: I sent them some sample drawings and they published them in The Comics Journal and Amazing Heroes. They were just starting to move toward publishing comics so Gary tried to get me involved in one of those projects.

 

Jamie: What projects was he trying to get you to do?

Kevin Nowlan: A Harlan Ellison story, “Eyes of Dust” and an adaptation of E. L. Doctorow’s “Welcome to Hard Times”. Those didn’t work out but “Grimwood’s Daughter” a 5-part back-up story in “Dalgoda” was one of my first assignments. It was written by Jan Strnad. I hope it will be collected one of these days.

 

Jamie: You said Al Milgom gave you some solid advice on your first work for Marvel. What advice did he give you?

Kevin Nowlan: He warned me about trying to draw faster and encouraged me to just work at drawing better. He said that many of the really fast artists who cut a lot of corners have trouble getting work when times get tough. I took it to heart but I’d still like to pick up a little speed. Some of my favorite artists work or worked incredibly fast: Owen Fitzgerald, Kirby, Buscema, Byrne.

 

Jamie: When you draw normal people they end up looking much more ‘real’ than the standard superhero comic artist. Where did you learn to add in those very human looking flaws to the characters and do them well?

Kevin Nowlan: I try to imagine how the characters and settings would look if they were real so that I’m not doing a new version of someone else’s drawing. Then I exaggerate the proportions or gestures or expressions to give the drawing a little punch. But I like to start with reality. For instance, when I was a kid I copied Superman drawings by Curt Swan and put the little parallel lines under Superman’s shoulder even though I didn’t really understand what they were. Later, I tried to draw a shoulder by looking at the way the deltoids connect with the triceps instead of just repeating someone else’s abstraction. But I never like to get too clinical about it. Those things evolve as you work on them until eventually you have your own abstraction.

 

Jamie: Another thing I really admire is your ability to draw detailed facial expressions. Do you have people pose for you and take pictures for reference?

Kevin Nowlan: I’ve done that before but I don’t make a habit of it. It depends upon the requirement of the job. I vacillate between realism and exaggeration. I went through a phase where I was taking lots of photos for reference. Nowadays I’m more likely to make stuff up and if it doesn’t look right at first I’ll keep sketching until it does.

 

Jamie: You mentioned in your Modern Masters interview that you go to the library to get reference material on things. Are you still doing that today or does Google take care of that?

Kevin Nowlan: Yeah, Google is a lot faster. You can find 50 photos of fire hydrants in two minutes. But there are still things that you’re more likely to find at the library.

 

Jamie: You were working when comics were printed on newsprint. Today the printing process is much different and comics are generally printed on much better paper. How did the upgrade in production qualities change the way you work?

Kevin Nowlan: It’s easier to be subtle now. The printing isn’t just better, it’s more consistent. Letterpress ink could look great or it could be run light and you’d lose half the color. The art has to be a little more refined than it did on newsprint. You see everything, whereas newsprint would soften the images up a bit.

 

Jamie: I have to wonder, your work in comics is often short stories, pin ups, inking and so on, all over the place. Do you make your living on comics alone or do you have outside work?

Kevin Nowlan: Mostly comics. I do a few commercial jobs from time to time but nothing steady.

 

Jamie: You spoke to Alan Moore on the telephone over the Jack B. Quick work for the ABC line. What was he like?

Kevin Nowlan: He was terrific. I had a little trouble with his accent but I got most of it. He was also surprisingly open to any of my concerns or preferences.

 

Jamie: You are the co-creator of Jack B. Quick. What did you contribute to the character?

Kevin Nowlan: The visuals. I don’t think Alan had anything specific in mind for the appearance of the main characters. Or if he did, he didn’t share it with me. It wasn’t until the third or fourth story that he described what someone would look like, and that was a secondary character, Mr. Murk from the Dairy.

 

Jamie: Will there be any new stories with the Jack B. Quick character?

Kevin Nowlan: There will if Alan decides to write them. I don’t know what his plans are but I don’t see much point in doing a Jack story without him.

 

Jamie: In X-Men First Class Special, you gave Jean Gray the smallest boobs I’ve seen on female superhero in a very long time. Did that sail through without any uh.. suggestions from editors?

Kevin Nowlan: Yes. The editors, Mark Paniccia and Nate Cosby were as
obliging and supportive as any I’ve worked for, almost to a fault. I think I needed someone to step in and point out that I’d drawn Jean Grey way too thin on the cover. But I was trying to suggest that all the characters were young, barely out of their teens. I think I was more successful with Bobby and Hank on the story inside. For some reason, exaggeration seems to work better when you’re drawing males. But females come in different shapes and sizes. I’m trying to avoid drawing them like they all have the same bodies.

 

Jamie: You’ve been inking Witchblade over different pencilers lately; Matt Haley, Stephen Sadowski, and Rick Leonardi. Are you supposed to keep it all looking similar?

Kevin Nowlan: No. I don’t think that would be possible. They’re three very different artists.

 

Jamie: Are you inking on paper or doing it on computer?

Kevin Nowlan: On paper.

 

Jamie: How many more issues of Witchblade are you doing?

Kevin Nowlan: Three.

 

Jamie: You have also worked with DRAW! magazine showing penciling and inking. Do you have any desire to teach comic art?

Kevin Nowlan: I’ve thought about that a little. In the right situation I think it could work.

 

Jamie: In your Modern Masters interview, you mentioned wanting to do a complete Graphic Novel. Are you any closer to doing that?

Kevin Nowlan: I hope so. The Man-Thing graphic novel is back in my hands now and I’m hoping I can clear my plate and finish the remaining pages later this year.

 

Jamie: Was that supposed to one of those thin 80s Graphic Novels with Steve Gerber?

Kevin Nowlan: Yes.

 

Jamie: How many pages are left to do?

Kevin Nowlan: Twelve — fifteen at the most.

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