Saturday, June 27, 2009

ARTWORK! page 4 of an upcoming pitch

Here's page 4 of an upcoming superheroine pitch I am working up with an amazing artist, Branko Jovanovic. I have no idea why I haven't seen his work before, but I'm happy he agreed to work with me.

It won't necessarily be evident what is going on in the lower three panels - the middle one should have a "light" effect that would be done by a colorist to signify the hero's changeover from her her identity (created by a hologram) to her civilian identity, that of the Asian-American woman in that final panel.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Panel evolution

Jason's got a post up on the evolution of a panel from roughs to pencils to inks to spotting blacks. He used a panel from our UFO story to show the process. It's pretty cool to see how it all comes together from his initial imagery to the final piece. Very nice work. Next it will be sent off for coloring and lettering. Things are coming together.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Lost FYC: Two books by JASON

This was a particular treat for me as Eric Reynolds at Fantagraphics was kind enough to set me up with Jason's email address so that I could do a short interview with him for this piece. Jason's work, if you're unaware, is phenomenal. His spare linework and utilization of anthopomorphic animals as the main characters for his stories adds an intimacy and emotional integrity that can often be missing the "book of the month." You should definitely check his stuff out, it is amazing.

For Your Consideration: 2 Books by Jason from Fantagraphics
By Chris Beckett

FRONT PAGE: Norwegian cartoonist Jason, whose works have been published in America by Fantagraphics, is one of the most exciting cartoonists working today. Not afraid to mix genres and utilize fantastic elements to convey his tales, he evinces a humanity – utilizing animals as main characters – that is sorely lacking in many of the comics being published today. Two of his more recent offerings, and two of his best, are The Last Musketeer and I Killed Adolf Hitler. Click on in to find out about some of the best comics you haven’t read and see what Jason has to say about comics and the creative process

The 411:
The Last Musketeer
Written & Drawn by Jason
48 pages, full-color

I Killed Adolf Hitler
Written & Drawn by Jason
48 pages, full-color
Fantagraphics Books

What It Is (with apologies to Dave the Thune):


In present-day Montpellier, France, Athos, one of the fabled Musketeers, laments the fact that time has passed him by as he falls asleep on a city bench. With night deepening, Athos is startled awake by explosions in the city. Curious, he investigates to find many of the buildings charred husks. The next morning he reads of the invasion from Mars that brought this destruction and runs to see his fellow Musketeer, Aramis, to entreat his help.

But Aramis, the only other survivor of their close-knit group, has long since given up his life of adventure. Wishing only to live quietly with his wife, he sees no need to get involved. Athos is crestfallen and asks whether his friend has forgotten their motto as he leaves in pursuit of the Martians. Coming across two of the invaders, Athos disarms and kills one with his sword, making the other his prisoner, and forces the alien to fly him to Mars where Athos can take the battle to the enemy.

Arriving on the red planet, Athos is soon captured and imprisoned. But, like any good Musketeer, he manages to escape, enlisting some unexpected allies in the process. Fleeing the castle, Athos eventually makes his way back to confront the king and his advisor – someone from the Musketeer’s past. The final battle between these two, four-hundred years after their initial confrontation, brings closure to a chapter in the Musketeers’ tale and elicits a heartfelt response from Aramis, whose thoughts hadn’t strayed as far from the Musketeers’ dictate as Athos had assumed.

Jason’s use of animals within his works makes one think of the mice and cats in Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer-prize winning book, MAUS. Like Spiegelman, Jason’s utilization of anthropomorphism does not detract from the stories he wishes to tell. These are not funny animal tales but serious stories meant to be enjoyed on not only a literary level, but an emotional level as well. Despite the relative simplicity of the drawings, Jason imbues these characters with a deep humanity, and it is the lack of expressionistic detail juxtaposed with the weight of circumstance that lends this humanity to The Last Musketeer. His economy of line also affords readers the chance to inhabit these characters more readily than if they had been overly delineated, giving Jason’s audience the chance to experience his tales in a more personal manner.

It is also interesting to note that Jason does not work from a script or, many times, even from an outline, but chooses to make it up as he goes along. Despite this improvisational approach, Jason weaves a thematic thread of responsibility and honor throughout The Last Musketeer’s forty-eight pages, punctuated by a final page that brings everything full circle in a way that could have felt forced in the hands of a lesser cartoonist but unfolds naturally under the deft storytelling of Jason, providing a satisfying emotional denouement. I heartily recommend The Last Musketeer for any fan of fantastic adventure yarns as well as anyone who enjoys a refreshing character study with a very real emotional tug at one’s heartstrings. Check this book out.


In a Germany where murder-for-hire is legal, one man stands above the rest. His office is overwhelmed with requests to have spouses, friends, co-workers, and neighbors executed. Citizens pay top dollar to have those that would offend them (whether adulterous wives, loud neighbors, or co-workers that received an undeserved promotion) snuffed out. From this, he is able to build a good life for himself. But killing is a serious business, and it can make it difficult on one’s relationship, as readers discover in the onset of this book.

But once the killer-for-hire is single again, he finds little meaning in life until he becomes the target of a would-be assassin. Disposing of his assailant, the next day brings an odd proposition. A scientist wants him to kill Adolf Hitler. The scientist has a time machine that has been charging for fifty years. It will be able to go back and return once on this charge, and then it will need to charge for another half century. The killer takes on this task, with its promise of financial stability, and follows the scientist to his lab. There, the killer enters the sphere that will transport him back to the mid-twentieth century.

Once there, he enters the Fuhrer’s quarters quite easily. But before he can pull the trigger, a Nazi guard surprises the assassin, overpowering the man from the future and leaving him unconscious. Curious, Hitler walks through to where this stranger entered and discovers the time machine. Stepping in, he is transported fifty years into the future where a startled scientist greets him. But before the Fuhrer can do anything, he is shot by the assassin, who waited fifty years to atone for his mistake. But that’s not even the halfway point of this book, and to tell any more would give away some of the best twists and turns I’ve encountered as a reader in any graphic novel of recent memory.

It is terribly difficult to write a convincing time travel tale and make it not only exciting but also give one’s readers a reason to suspend their disbelief. One of the worst instances I can remember experiencing came with Terminator 2, where an original model Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) was sent back eleven years after events in the first film in order to save John Connor from the newer T-1000. The second question on my mind after sitting down in the theater – after asking myself why I’d paid good money for this – was why didn’t they just send the T-1000 back to the Terminator’s initial attempt on Sarah Connor? One of the better treatments came in season three of Babylon 5 in the two-part story “War Without End,” when viewers discovered what had actually happened to the previous Babylon station, Babylon 4. With these two episodes, J. Michael Straczynski was able to seamlessly tie in the season one episode “Babylon Squared,” in which Babylon 4 also returned for a brief time.

Thankfully, Jason creates a time travel story more like Straczynski’s than Cameron’s. As with any story of this nature, he provides a caveat with the time machine (it must charge for fifty years before it can be used) that puts a limitation on this technology. Without that, there is no dramatic tension. Ultimately, the whole story hinges upon this fifty-year necessity, which not only provides for a very tender love story, but is also essential to the narrative twists and turns that Jason utilizes to keep readers thinking. It’s a masterful story that can be read on more than one level, which is always appealing. I Killed Adolf Hitler is unique and tender and will challenge any preconceptions one might have about the book.

An Interview with Jason:

Chris Beckett: Why comics? What was it that attracted you to this storytelling medium?

Jason: Its cheapness, I guess. I started doing comics when I was around 13 years old, and at that age I didn't have a camera, I didn't have a typewriter, but I had paper and a pencil.

Beckett: What was it that inspired you to create your stories with animal characters, and how did you develop your art style?

Jason: I don't think an art style is something you develop. It just happens, based more on your weaknesses as an artist than on your strengths. Originally I drew in a realistic style, but I was never happy with the result. The characters looked stiff. And it took me a long time to draw. So I tried out some other styles, and the animal characters fit, it felt right.

Beckett: Being the writer and the artist, what is the creative process like for you?

Jason: I don't write a full script or sketch out the whole story. It's all improvised. If I have an idea for the beginning of a story I can start drawing and make up the rest as I go along. If the story is mostly visual I work directly on the original. If there is a lot of text I might write it down first and do very simple stick figure thumbnails. I usually work on about 10 pages at the same time, penciling a bit here, inking a bit there.

Beckett: What was the genesis for The Last Musketeer, and what did setting the tale in the future accomplish for you as a storyteller?

Jason: The Last Musketeer started by watching old film serials from the 30s and the 40s, like Undersea Kingdom and Rocketmen on the moon. I wanted to do a story like that, to write dialogue with lines like "Stop the earthman!", "He's getting away, you fools!" in it. I don't remember how the musketeer ended up in there. The similarities in the stories, maybe. I read The Three Musketeers later, to get an idea on how he should talk.
It's not really set in the future. It takes place today, in Montpellier, where I live, and then moving on to Mars, but with a very retro science fiction feeling, I guess. So, of course, flying to Mars seems like it takes an hour, the Martians speak English and the air is breathable.

Beckett: Time travel tales are difficult to do without them coming across as foolish or having the time travel aspect feel like an easy “fix-it” solution within the tale. That said, but I Killed Adolf Hitler utilized time travel particularly well. How much preparation went into the book before you started it?

Jason: Absolutely none. I didn't do any research at all about wormholes and stuff like that. It doesn't try to be realistic; it's more about the idea of time travel, taken from old science fiction stories. You sort of try to embrace the absurdity of it. The part about the machine taking 50 years to charge was mostly for an important story point towards the end.

Beckett: What other projects are you working on that you would like to tell readers about?

Jason: I'm working on a collection of short stories. There will be Low Moon, which is currently running in New York Times Magazine and four other stories.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lost FYC: Casanova

Though on hiatus, Casanova is one of the best series that has been published in recent memory. Exciting storytelling from Matt Fraction, gorgeous art by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba, with deeper levels to the tale for those willing to dig through the jam-packed narrative. And, I would suggest, if you want the "entire package" you should seek out the original issues with Matt Fraction's essays in the back discussing the story, the art, and anything else tangentially connected to Casanova. Great stuff, and very heartfelt. Check it out if you get the chance, and pick it up when it eventually continues at Image.

For Your Consideration: Casanova By Chris Beckett

Following in the footsteps of its sister publication, Warren Ellis’s and Ben Templesmith’s Fell, Matt Fraction and Brazilian twins Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon have created one of the best books of this new century, Casanova. A mash of everything that’s great about comics and anything that interests its authors, this is a book that revels in being a comic and should be on every fan’s shelf. Click on in and check this out!

The 411:
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Gabriel Ba & Fabio Moon
Lettered by Sean Konot
Album 1: Casanova: Luxuria
144 pp. 2-color $12.99
Individual issues 24pp. 2-color orig. $1.99
Image comics

What It Is (with apologies to Dave the Thune):

In the 1980s, in a fanzine interview, Alan Moore discussed what was good about comics – that one could walk into a comic shop with pocket change and leave with “a real slab of culture.” Of course, prices have risen considerably during the intervening years, but Warren Ellis, one of Moore’s heirs apparent, took this thought and ran with it. The result is Fell, his slimline comic from Image with collaborator Ben Templesmith. With a smaller page count (24pp. vs. 32pp.), it offers readers sixteen pages of story with eight pages of back matter – notes, sketches, story inspirations, letters, etc. – for only $1.99. Each issue is self-contained as Ellis and Templesmith create a densely-packed story with beginning, middle, and end that can be enjoyed on its own. But read together, an over-arching story unfolds.

It was an experiment that had no assurances of success – a thinner book at a lower price point in a medium that can often seem chained to its past to the detriment of its future – and it sold. Well. So, with the success of Fell, one would expect a line of copycats waiting in the wings to be thrust upon the comic-buying public. But the only one, thus far, to have picked up the gauntlet and run with the idea is Casanova, born from the fevered brain of Matt Fraction and beautifully rendered by Brazilian twins Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon.

Casanova Quinn is an agent of E.M.P.I.R.E. – Extra-Military Police, Intelligence, Rescue, and Espionage – the secret organization run by his father, Cornelius Quinn. But Quinn’s arch nemesis, Newman Xeno, leader of W.A.S.T.E. - ????? – has the Casanova Quinn from the book’s primary timeline, 919, killed while he abducts the Casanova of timeline 909 to replace him. Xeno wants nothing short of the total elimination of E.M.P.I.R.E. and by replacing its star agent (Cass 919) with one of moral ambiguity (Cass 909), he hopes to infiltrate the super-spy organization and eat away at it from the inside. During the space/time abduction, Xeno also has Cass’s sister, Zephyr, from another timeline killed, so that her father will believe her dead, as the 919 model continues secretly working to bring down her father in this timeline (she’s the bad sibling and Xeno’s girlfriend). Yeah, it’s #*%!ed up convoluted, but damn, it’s fun.

As Casanova is assigned missions by his father, Xeno gives the double-agent counter-missions, working not only to subvert the machinations of E.M.P.I.R.E. but also to prove the boy’s loyalty. In the course of the first seven issues (collected in the album, Casanova: Luxuria) Casanova Quinn discovers Cold Heart Island – an island cut off from humanity that, despite the arcane façade put forth when encroached upon by the “civilized” world, is actually advanced well beyond anything currently theorized – kidnaps David X an escape artist about to finish his twelve years of meditation and awaken as the supersammasambuddha and then replaces him with a robot double, and infiltrates the pop divas, Teen Age Music International (T.A.M.I.) as a fetish photographer in order to uncover a map hidden on their nude bodies that will lead E.M.P.I.R.E. to the final liquid assets of another rival, Sabine Seychelle. And this is only the tip of the iceberg for Casanova Quinn.

Through all the events in Luxuria, the new Casanova Quinn finds himself growing closer to the Casanova that once inhabited timeline 909. Discovering his mother, now unable to relate to the world and hidden away in Big Sur, he rescues her from this reality, asking the inhabitants of Cold Heart Island to watch over her. Cass also manages to end his sister Zephyr’s rampage with diplomacy rather than his fists. And ultimately, Casanova Quinn finds his redemption, double-crossing Newman Xeno in the end while painting a bull’s eye on his back in the process.

With the second album, Gula, it is a couple years later and readers find that Casanova Quinn has gone missing. The mantra for this album: “When is Casanova Quinn?” With Cass off the board, Fraction brings Zephyr Quinn front and center with her newly-christened relationship with Kubark Benday – son of Israel Benday, founder of M.O.T.T., and another enemy of E.M.P.I.R.E. – providing the impetus for the series. Meanwhile, a strange six-armed beauty from the future tries to help Cass’s allies fix the time anomalies that are bending the world around them.

Where the initial album revolved around the violence and brutality that lives around (and within) us all, this second album uses love and lust as the weapons of choice, with a requisite amount of bloodshed. It can be debated which is worse, but when this latest storyline careens to a halt, those taking the brunt of the punishment experience it in their souls. The twists and turns in this album are more riveting and affecting in that they involve characters that the audience has come to know and understand. Fraction blindsides readers with his plot-twists, and yet it all flows naturally from the mayhem he created in the first volume and has continued through this second narrative. (And I use mayhem in the most positive light here. Controlled chaos might be a better description. But I digress.) As involving and mesmeric as the initial album, Casanova: Gula is a great read deserving permanent status on any fan’s shelf.

Matt Fraction is more than ably assisted by the virtuoso duo of Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon. In the first volume of the series, Ba expertly brings forth the entire Quinn family and the over-the-top world in which they and their nemeses live. His flowing linework and accomplished layouts add so much to the story of Casanova Quinn that it’s hard to conceive of this series working without his contribution. That is, until his twin brother joined with the second volume, as Ba drew The Umbrella Academy with writer/singer Gerard Way for Dark Horse Comics. Fabio Moon manages to bring his own take on the Quinns and the super-spy, multiquintessence worldview that permeates this whirlwind comic while keeping everything grounded within the reality that his brother produced in Luxuria. Ba and Moon are two of the most exciting artists to hit the comic scene in a number of years. Their characters erupt with energy and move gracefully across the page while their fully-realized backgrounds serve to give the story context and allow them to accentuate scenes by dropping those backgrounds off the panel in a way that less accomplished artists might not even consider. I enjoy going through the books and soaking up the art after I’ve read these issues, because it is just that good.

Casanova is a mash of everything that makes comics great – super-spies, parallel timelines, larger-than-life villains, kung fu, giant robots, sexy chicks, and catchy acronyms. And this book does something that many comics shy away from – it revels in being a comic book. This is evident not just in the nod to classic comics such as Steranko’s SHIELD series, but also in its use of former executive director and now Image publisher Eric Stephenson to provide pithy interjections from time to time and catch reader’s up with plot points that might have been forgotten from one issue to the next. This point is brought home when the final battle between Cass and his sister begins in issue seven and three captions boxes are crossed out, giving way to the ideal observation, “I love comic books!” A fitting mantra for such a book.

This book is also a dumping ground for Matt Fractions’ brain. Whatever information/entertainment he’s absorbed through the years seems to have made it into the book – or will eventually. The essays in the back of each issue, not available in the collected albums, delve deeper into the motivations and inspirations for a particular issue and for someone who likes to keep his emotional stuff wound tight, Fraction has certainly laid it all on the line with this book. And that’s why Casanova has been successful and why his audience is able to relate to it so well. I empathize with wanting to keep things bottled up and applaud Fraction for being so candid. Could I do that? I don’t know. But for fans of Casanova, they could not ask for more. This is one of the best books to come along in this new century, and anyone that loves comics needs to get these books now.

An Interview with Matt Fraction:

Chris Beckett: Why comics? What was it that attracted you to this storytelling medium?

Fraction: The mixture of words and images. I always wanted to tell stories, and I always wanted to draw. When I was a kid I'd make my own comics and call them movies. I know, I don't know. I was weird. Anyway. Words and pictures and a desire to tell stories. And it's cheaper and less dependent on others than filmmaking, so there's that. I've spent an awful lot of time behind the camera making movies or animated shorts or whatever and I love it but, at the same time, I can't do that in my kitchen with my wife and kid, y'know?

Anyway. Words and pictures. I am addicted to words and pictures and the magical, wonderful, inexplicable thing that happens in the space between them.

Beckett: From reading the back matter of the individual issues of Casanova, it seems as if you were making it all up as you went along. And yet, there is a continuing narrative with multiple subplots wending its way through this first album. Did you have an over-arching story mapped out, and how did you kept it all straight?

Fraction: I wasn't making it up at all. I knew the big landmarks and, with one exception, they remained as in place in the published series as they did in my initial notes. I absolutely have an over-arching story mapped out. There's lots of room to improvise between those landmarks, and I think I can pull it off only because those landmarks are so fixed.

The one major beat I changed-- and without blowing the ending to Luxuria, I won't say it-- became a kind of moral imperative that I change, and I think it's more or less pretty seamless. Would that I could go back in time there would be a few microscopic changes I'd make to accommodate it some but I think I'm the only person in the world that notices.

You know how Stanislavsky said, about acting, that you do a shitload of research, and preparation, and study and analysis and homework and then you throw 90% of it away and just wing it? It's that. All the crap I ramble about at the end of the issues? None of it matters. None of it. I might as well talk about what I had for lunch, you know? It's all just homework.

Beckett: With Casanova, you walk a fine line between the action/adventure and the humor. How do you maintain that balance – does it require a lot of hard editing and revising – and did you have any worries that it might not be well-received?

Fraction: Instinct. I suspect I'm wrong more than right. Eh, the only way I'll get better is to just keep writing, so I dunno. My life is funny. My friends are funny. I spend a lot of time laughing. I don't understand people that somehow think a sense of humor is in opposition to... I dunno, "serious storytelling" or whatever. On the very worst days of my life, I've still laughed. That's life, you know? Highs, lows, ups, downs. I laugh a lot. My friends laugh a lot. Especially when one of us is hanging from the gallows. Which tends to be often.

I don't worry about how anything I write is received-- of course I hope it's well-received but you can't worry about that stuff. Shit, I dunno, maybe you can but I absolutely can not. If I worried about it I'd go totally crazy and turn into one of those douchebag writers on the internet that argues with readers anytime any one of them doesn't care for their work in any capacity and loses entire days to egosurfing themselves on Google for the slightest mention of their name trying to somehow bully a subjective opinion into submission.

I'm happy and amazed and delighted that anybody gives me their time and attention; I hope they don't resent it and they still have my gratitude even if and inevitably when they do.

Beckett: The slimline format. Warren Ellis has written about Fell scripts running longer than some scripts for his traditional 22-page books. How do you break down an individual issue’s script and do you similarly find it more work than a typical comic script as Ellis does?

Fraction: Oh, Casanova is the hardest thing I've ever written. Every issue, every time, no doubt. All that homework doesn't make it move any faster. It's no different than any other script, in terms of how it's written, but it requires like 10,000 times more thought, somehow. The process isn't necessarily any different, it's just more... ornate. I start with the broad story beats written out in paragraphs, then break that out into what happens on each page, and then refine the pages and write it out. Man, it sounds so simple when I write it like that. That's like a brain surgeon saying first you cut the skull cap, then you work on the brain, then you stitch it back up.

Well, I'm pretty proud with it at the end of the day, so it's worth it. But yeah, Christ! It's a lot of work.

Beckett: What other projects are you working on that you would like to tell readers about?

Fraction: I write lots of comics for Marvel, and I love them and I'm very proud of them but it's Marvel and they have a robust ad presence and marketing presence and shelf presence in the direct market, so you'll have no problems finding out about that stuff on your own if it so interests you. I'd much rather talk about projects I have nothing to do with but love. Rick Remender's comics, namely Fear Agent, is fantastic. Jason Aaron's Scalped is maybe the best new book of the last year. Jon Hickman makes comics from Jupiter, I don't even know how to talk about his stuff but it's absolutely otherworldly and insane. My friends Harold Sipe and Hector Casanova have a book called Screamland coming out in a couple months and I wish my first comic was that good.

Yes! Yes. These are books I want to tell readers about. Read them! They are wonderful.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lost FYC: 24Seven

This would have been the final installment of my spotlight on indy anthologies over at the Pulse. Ivan Brandon was gracious enough to answer my questions regarding his robot anthology, 24Seven, while he was traveling South America, and I really appreciated it. So, here, finally, is the spotlight on 24Seven with a little Q&A with Ivan Brandon. Enjoy.

For Your Consideration: 24seven an NYC Mech anthology By Chris Beckett

FRONT PAGE: Robots living in New York City. Ivan Brandon’s concept for his Image series NYC Mech was so full of possibility he invited a wide array of writers and artists to create their own tales of the city that never sleeps. Click on in and discover two of the best science fiction anthologies available today in volumes 1 and 2 of 24seven.
The 411:
Edited by Ivan Brandon
Full color, 200 pp.
Volume 1: $24.99
Volume 2: $19.99
Image comics

What It Is (with apologies to Dave the Thune):

In the city that never sleeps, what if the inhabitants had no need of sleep as well? This is the premise behind Ivan Brandon’s creation for Image comics, NYC Mech. Set in a future where robots inhabit the “world’s greatest city,” it’s a concept rife with possibilities. This being the case, Ivan Brandon decided to invite other creators to play in his sandbox with the two volumes of 24seven now available from Image comics. Revolving around the concept initially put forth in his NYC Mech series, readers have been able to enjoy stories from heavyweights of the medium like Eduardo Risso, Matt Fraction, and Gene Ha, while also experiencing the works of up-and-coming talents such as Paul Maybury, Chris Arrant, and Tom Williams. It’s a good mix of stories and styles, providing something for everyone and giving readers an opportunity to try something new.

Although a staple of the comics medium, science fiction is a genre often given short shrift by many readers. Felt by many to be little more than transplanted westerns with lasers and aliens inserted for six-guns and Indians, science fiction at its best is a lens through which an audience can become enlightened about the present with tales from the future. By distancing the story from our own personal experiences, an author can tackle such subjects as prejudice, hate, and corruption without setting off a powder keg of controversy. Lessons can be learned, societal wrongs brought to light, and in the process readers can also discover what it means to be human.

Like great writers of science fiction prose, the writers and artists in these two volumes of 24seven use the milieu of a New York City populated by robots to create stories of great tragedy and great triumph – stories of great humanity. With these mechanical men and women as ciphers, artists Gabriel Bá, Carla Speed McNeil, Dave Johnson, Jason Aaron, Phil Hester, Michael Avon Oeming, and a host of other talented people provide stories that not only entertain, pulling readers in with wonderful combinations of words and pictures, but also make the audience think. From the paranoia of believing one’s work computer is bugged to the dreams of a lonely robot wishing to be a dancer to a working man’s tale set five miles below sea level in the Marianas Trench, 24seven is a tour-de-force of very human stories veiled in the trappings of a robotic future society.

This very human drama is represented well by the first story of the second volume from creators Ray Fawkes, Fiona Staples, and Frazer Irving. Setting the stage for the rest of the book, a young robot enters an abandoned building looking for an old robot rumored on the street to be giving away all his money. But there’s a twist to the generosity of this old man, one not revealed in the story on the street. The money is hidden beneath the old robot’s skin. Anyone wanting his money needs to pry off his outer shell and take it. The older robot’s dying wish is to share himself – his experiences – with others. But the young robot is taken aback and wants nothing to do with the mutilation of this desperate old robot. Running off, he leaves the elderly robot calling after him as the boy takes his humanity with him.

The two volumes of 24seven contain entertaining comic stories from many of today’s critically-acclaimed artists. The ability to tell a complete and compelling story in the space of a few pages is incredibly challenging, and the creators involved with these books like Antony Johnston, Phil Hester, Paul Azaceta, Kelly Sue Deconnick as well as all the others make it look easy. For anyone who enjoys comics and is searching for a wealth of great stories, these two volumes are for you. Check them out. You won’t be disappointed.

An Interview with Ivan Brandon:

Chris Beckett: Why comics? What was it that attracted you to this storytelling medium?

Brandon: Well, it's not the only medium that's attracted me, but it's a unique way to relay information. It allows you certain advantages over monetary and spatial constraints in telling stories elsewhere... it allows you to build a world from scratch, however you like, and bring a reader to that world near instantaneously, relative to the process in
other media. It's a collaborative medium in a much truer sense than others... but outside of the parameters of collaboration, there's no one to hold your hand. And without sound, it's a medium where you collaborate very specifically with the reader to make their experience match the one you have in your head.
Beckett: With such a diverse variety in style and story for this second volume of _24/7_, I am curious if you had any editorial guidelines for the creators to follow, or did you just let them loose within your sandbox?

Brandon: I had my own guidelines before I got to them, basically. I did my nitpicking when I was choosing the team, so that I could leave them be when they got there. The one thing I tried to impart was that they had that freedom and should use it, that they were able to do things that they're not necessarily allowed to do in their comics day jobs.

Beckett: The market is changing with not only more books vying for rack space in the comic shops, but also with more venues through which one can sell larger books such as _24/7_. I’m curious what your marketing strategy has been in order to capitalize on this new reality and how have you tried to reach those readers outside the typical comic readership?

Brandon: I don't have a real set philosophy on that, I think you can give yourself an ulcer trying to worry about what people like. As a reader/viewer/whatever, I never know what I'm looking for until I see it, you know? So I just try to make something that doesn't look like other comics, so that maybe it'll attract people that don't just look like other comic readers. I end up getting attention in the weirdest places, occasionally from people who don't consider themselves comic readers at all outside of my books.

Beckett: Following up on bookstore distribution, most fans would see the opening of new venues for graphic novels as only a good thing, but, as a creator, have you witnessed any negative consequences of bookstore distribution for comics?

Brandon: I'm not really in a position to be affected by that beyond more potential eyes on my books... I've definitely met a lot of people who'd bought my work while shopping for something else... going back 6-7 years when I was writing for a film franchise, people'd get those books at Blockbuster and I'd let them know where a comic shop was to get more.

Beckett: Any plans for a third volume of 24/7 and what other projects are you working on that you would like to tell readers about?

Brandon: Right now there's no plan for a 3rd volume. It's a tremendous amount of work and I've got a pretty full plate this year, but it's obviously close to my heart so never say never. I can't really talk about much of what I'm working on, but starting in April I have a 5-part run in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS writing MACHINE MAN, which is being drawn by the amazing NIKO HENRICHON.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lost FYC: myspace DHP

This would have been part 6 of my series on indy anthologies, spotlighting the then-fledgling myspace Dark Horse Presents, a return for the premiere black and white anthology from the 1990s. As with the previous post, the information in the Q&A will be slightly outdated, but if you like what you see here, go check out myspace DHP for free at the link in the column.


For Your Consideration: myspace/Dark Horse Presents
By Chris Beckett

FRONT PAGE: Dark Horse’s flagship title, Dark Horse Presents, returns for a new digital age at Myspace. With stories from creators such as Rick Geary, Joss Whedon, Fabio Moon, Kieron Dwyer, as well as newcomers discovered on Myspace, this is a great anthology worth checking out. And it’s FREE! So click on in and welcome back an old favorite in a new format, complete with an interview with Editor Scott Allie.

The 411:
Myspace/DHP (
Edited by Scott Allie
FREE and in color
Dark Horse Comics (

What It Is (with apologies to Dave the Thune):

In 1986, Mike Richardson invested in a new comic publishing venture creating Dark Horse comics. The flagship title for this upstart publisher was the anthology aptly titled Dark Horse Presents. Featured on that first cover was Chris Warner’s Black Cross, but the real star of the issue was a new creation from Paul Chadwick, Concrete. Buoyed by the popularity of this very human drama of a man trapped in an alien body, Dark Horse Presents soon found a loyal following and from there, along with the inclusion of some significant licensed properties such as Aliens and Star Wars, things expanded quickly for Richardson and Dark Horse.

DHP, as the anthology came to be known, soon became the premiere black and white anthology in the comics medium, winning two Eisner awards as best anthology while showcasing the talents of creators like Matt Wagner, John Byrne, Frank Miller, Mark Verheiden, Doug Mahnke, and Bob Burden. For fifteen years, DHP was a book in which comic fans could find high-quality stories spanning a wide range of genres and storytelling styles. Many of the stories published during DHP’s fifteen-year run could be considered traditional in their presentation – which in no way demeans the quality inherent within them – while some creators pushed the envelope, experimenting with form as well as content. It was a fun mix, one always guaranteed to entertain any fan of the medium. But eventually its time passed, and in late 2000 with issue #157, Dark Horse Presents ceased publication.

But it’s hard to keep a good thing down. And with the advent of digital comics and the surge in popularity of social networking websites, the time was right for the return of Dark Horse’s seminal book. Myspace, with its new comic book community, came to an agreement with Dark Horse in order to offerDHP as a free online comic anthology. From a marketing standpoint, this makes complete sense. Dark Horse is able to bring back its flagship title in a form able to reach more people than it ever did as a print comic while Myspace provides its comic site legitimacy by showcasing a premiere comic anthology from a noteworthy publisher. But the big winners in all of this are the readers who get a new batch of free comics every month.

Like its initial iteration, Dark Horse Presents offers readers exciting stories from some of today’s best creators ranging from old-school science fiction tales to sharp, stinging romances. In its twenty-plus year history, Dark Horse has brought many giants of the industry under its publishing umbrella while also cultivating lesser-known talents as well. And with this new digital offering, they are continuing this practice. The first ten issues have included comics from respected creators like Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Gilbert Hernandez (Love & Rockets), and Peter Bagge (Hate), to name just a few. But something Dark Horse has also done is seek out untested creators from the pool of Myspace comickers and offer them a chance to create something new for myspace/DHP. This has afforded these aspiring creators a platform for their work that was previously unavailable while also giving readers a chance to discover something – and someone – new.

There have been many great stories in these first ten issues of myspace/DHP – including short stories featuring characters familiar to fans of Dark Horsesuch as Rick Remender’s and Tony Moore’s Fear Agent or Eric Powell’s the Goon (with one chapter penciled by comic legend Herb Trimpe) – but there are two stories that stand out for me to this point. One is from Ezra Claytan Daniels, one of Dark Horse’s new talent finds, and his story “A Circuit Closed,” which ran in the second issue. In this tale, a young girl is searching for her soulmate. Using a special helmet, she is able to see a tether of light that streams off from her to some indefinite point in the distance. Journeying alone through what appears to be the American Midwest, she eventually comes to a trailer park where the other end of the light, dubbed by her a streamer, is now visible. The person to whom she is attached lives in one of these trailers, and the girl is assured in her mind that when she approaches she will immediately know who it is. This, she believes, will somehow make her life complete. But when the climax arrives it’s not what readers might expect, proving the adage that life is full of surprises.

The second tale comes from Brazilian twins Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon (Casanova, the Umbrella Academy). Though each had work published in the initial issue, it’s their collaboration in issue #7 “Wonder Twins Activate” that really stayed with me. This tale, unlike Sugarshock or the UmbrellaAcademy short from that first issue, is reminiscent of their work in the de:Tales anthology published by Dark Horse. The story opens with the two brothers hovering over their drawing boards as one of them puts brush to paper in order to begin their latest comic story. The final panel of this first page transitions into the fiction they are creating, wherein readers get three pages of a shadowed superhero saving a girl from a man armed with a gun. It’s dramatic and moody and as good as any comic out there, but as readers click to the next page the twins pull their audience back into the studio where the two artists act out the fight scene that would continue the comic story. As a result of the melee, one of the brothers ends up in the hospital, and the other takes a vacation on a beach with a beautiful woman. A quirky tale merging reality with fantasy in a way that only comics can do, this one has to be my favorite myspace/DHPstory to date. But with a new month just around the corner, who’s to say whether something new won’t come along and blow me away.

There’s no reason not to check out the return of Dark Horse Presents over at Myspace. It’s free and it’s great. For pure horror – with no fantastic creatures evident – check out Hayden Blackman’s and Cary Nord’s “The Axeman,” or if you’d rather enjoy a farcical superhero adventure, Adam Warren’s“Empowered: Who Da Ubermensch?” is for you. Regardless, all fans of the comic medium will be able to find something at myspace/DHP, especially with all of the back issues available for perusal as well. And if you need a permanent collection of these stories, check out your comic shops soon for the first collection, bringing together the first six issues of the online anthology.

An Interview with Scott Allie:

Chris Beckett: Why comics? What was it that attracted you to this storytelling medium?

Allie: It's always been the artform that spoke to me the most. There's an untapped potential here, and a unique language, a unique way of conveying ideas in this combination of words and pictures. It always sort of meant more to me than film, or music, or prose. I love those forms, but I didn't feel as much a part of them as I did comics, since about high school.

Beckett: How has the response to Dark Horse Presents on Myspace been, and are there any plans for a print edition?

Allie: We have a print edition of the first six issues coming later this year—September. We're expecting it to be pretty big, because the online comic generated a lot of attention, a real enthusiastic response from readers. It's the best presentation of this sort of comics online—I think there's a whole new genre of webcomics, which play by a different set of rules and appeal to a different sort of readership, but no one's beat us at what we've set out to do with MDHP.

Beckett: How did Dark Horse come to the decision to bring Dark Horse Presents back in a digital form, and what are the benefits and drawbacks of producing DHP digitally rather than for print?

Allie: Last year at New York Comicon, Dark Horse's publicist, Jeremy Atkins introduced me to Sam Humphries, who runs the comics realm on Myspace. The three of us had breakfast one morning in the East Village, and we were talking about comics, specifically books we grew up on and missed, and talking about what Sam wanted for Myspace. Over the course of breakfast, and the cab ride back to my hotel, we were spinning a million ideas, and somewhere in there Dark Horse Presents on Myspace started sounding real. We figured out how to make it work, and decided it would be the main thing we took away from the show.
The benefit of doing it on Myspace is that you reach more people than you could reach doing it anywhere else. One of the reasons for that is that it's free, so the drawback is that we're paying good money for the work, to get it from some of our best creators—but we have no income off it yet. Myspace doesn't pay us; we don't charge anyone to read it, so we pay a lot of money to get these comics out there in this way. I think getting great comics into the hands of so many people is worth it, because maybe you're turning new people onto the artform, or at least our books. But if the accountants were measuring the value, we wouldn't be doing it.

Beckett: How do you see the ascension of the internet as a means of distributing – as well as pirating – comics affecting Dark Horse in the future and is Myspace Dark Horse Presents a way to begin laying the groundwork for the digital evolution that people say is coming to the medium?

Allie: Yeah, I suppose MDHP is laying the groundwork for the next step, but it's not like we're figuring out how to turn this into a money making exercise. No one has really cracked the nut of selling comics online, electronically—like iTunes, rather than Amazon. Everyone's real excited to get their stuff online, but the revenue hasn't been worked out. The guys who do it out of their basements, they can make it work; but the corporate entities who want to do it have not figured it out, how to get the stuff out there and bring in enough money to make it worthwhile. I think that's the nature of comics meeting the nature of the internet. They're both real democratic; they're both by nature meant to be of the people. I imagine MDHP will be part of the future model of success, but it does not gonna be me figuring out how to turn MDHP into a profitable enterprise. I want to see someone work that out, but this is not the first step in some plan, like it would be if Fox had launched it. We're just trying to innovate and get people reading.
As for pirating, distributing, I don't know. We use the internet successfully to sell and ship printed books, but we haven't devoted ourselves to the other part, like I say. I don't pay a lot of attention to the pirating. The quality of what I have seen is so terrible; I can't imagine people wanting it. Maybe the quality has improved. I hope we don't get our asses kicked like the music industry has.

Beckett: The stories thus far on Myspace Dark Horse Presents appear to be formatted so that there would be an easy transition to a print edition. Are there any plans to try and bring content to DHP that might take advantage of the differences between the digital experience of a comic page and a printed page, or will things remain fairly standard for the foreseeable future?

Allie: Things on MDHP will remain fairly standard. I'm old fashioned. I'm not turned off by the limitation of the page. It's part of the form. I am working on an online feature, separate from MDHP, for which we're talking about a more interactive aspect. But the concept with MDHP is simply to make comics, the comics I love, available for free on the internet. If I hand the book off to another editor maybe that person would be more adventurous.

Beckett: What can people look forward to in Myspace Dark Horse Presents in the coming year?

Allie: Some Mignola-related stuff to tie into the movie, and hopefully an all Robert E Howard issue to tie into the relaunch of Conan and some launches of other titles. And come October I want to do a major Halloween event in the book. One of the great things about MDHP not having to go to the printer is that we work pretty close to the bone. So the fact is I don't even know what's gonna be happening in a few months. I kind of like that spontaneity.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Lost FYC: Negative Burn

When FYC was put on hiatus, I was in the middle of a series on independent anthologies. This was part 5 - the fourth anthology to be spotlighted after an introductory piece. I will publish those other ones in the coming week to give this and the following two pieces more context. Also of note, Negative Burn ceased monthly publication in the middle of 2008, but Joe Pruett is currently putting together a large "annual" book, and, if I understand correctly, plans on going forward with this annual iteration of the book, similar to what Fantagraphics has done with Los Bros Hernandez's Love & Rockets. And again, some of the information in the interview may be a bit outdated, but enjoy it for what it is and if you want to check out Negative Burn, just head on over to the Desperado site where they offer back issues of the most recent series as well as many, if not all, of the original 50 issues.

For Your Consideration: Negative Burn from Desperado Publishing
By Chris Beckett

FRONT PAGE: The book that gave superstar creators John Cassaday, Paul Pope, Scott Morse, Brian Michael Bendis, Ande Parks, and Phil Hester some of their earliest exposure within the comics medium, Negative Burn has been a premiere black and white anthology since its inception. Originally running 50 issues from 1993 to 1998, Joe Pruett – editor and creator – took some years off from comic publishing before returning with the Negative Burn Winter Special in 2005. Since then, through his Desperado Publishing imprint, Pruett has released a Summer Special and 18 subsequent issues. If you’re looking for the next comics superstars, there’s a good bet you’ll find them within the pages of Negative Burn. Click inside and discover where this new vanguard of writers and artists can be found.

The 411:
Negative Burn
Edited by Joe Pruett
64pp. b/w
Desperado Publishing

What It Is (with apologies to Dave the Thune):

Since it began its original run in the summer of 1993, Joe Pruett’s black and white comics anthology, Negative Burn, has included work from many of the bigger names in the comics community while also providing opportunities for aspiring creators. Some noteworthy artists whose earliest creations can be found within this anthology include John Cassaday, Phil Hester, Scott Morse, Terry Moore, David Mack, Brian Michael Bendis, and Paul Pope – whose stories in Negative Burn were the first ones to be published outside of his own Horse Press imprint. These new artists often found their names alongside the likes of Warren Ellis, Dave Gibbons, Paul Jenkins, Guy Davis, Jeff Smith, Neil Gaiman, Brian Bolland, and Alan Moore. Pruett has always had an eye for talent, a fact on evidence in any issue of Negative Burn.

Less inclined toward experimentation than Fantagraphics’ MOME, Negative Burn has carved out its own little niche, and with its return in 2005 through Pruett’s new publishing venture, Desperado, the black and white anthology picked up right where it had left off seven years prior. Showcasing the diversity of story and style possible within the medium, Pruett includes a broad variety of stories in each issue – from horror to contemporary fiction, superheroes to a WWII-era flying ace mystery – nothing is off-limits within the pages of Negative Burn.

With this latest iteration of Negative Burn, there have been a number of memorable stories, ones worth reading again and again. Bur for me, the one that has stood out is the final story of issue #9. Written by Jody LeHeup with art from Pablo Peppino, “Hard Road” relates the tale of two contemporary gangsters enlisted to remove a leak within the organization. Driving out of town, the two discuss relationships and how difficult they can be for men in their line of work. This leads to Mikey, the younger one, offering this difficulty as a theory for why Sal, his mentor in the organization, has a cat instead of a girlfriend, to which Sal replies, “at least he doesn’t care that I’m a bastard.”

As they pass the town line, Mikey hears a scratching noise in the trunk, and the reality of the situation is made evident to the younger man when Sal tells him, “It’s Gino. He’s in the trunk. You gotta take care of him.” Arriving at a secluded area in the forest outside town, the two get out. Sal has already done the prep work – digging the grave – and tells Mikey to get the camera from the trunk because the boss wants to see, but he warns, “Careful. He might try to run.” With events quickly converging, the conversation becomes more somber as the audience’s expectations take a drastic left turn. Understanding comes as readers see that the leak is not hidden in the trunk, but is in fact Sal. The killing is quick and clean, one shot, and when Mikey returns the spade to the trunk, Gino is revealed to be Sal’s cat, the pet he wanted Mike to take care of now that he’s gone. “Hard Road” is an excellent example of the first-rate storytelling one can find within Negative Burn, whether veteran artists or lesser-knowns such as LeHeup and Peppino.

Being on a budget, the number of monthly comics I purchase is slim indeed. One of the few that has remained on my must-buy list is Negative Burn. When the book returned in 2005 with its winter and summer specials, Joe Pruett wisely anchored the anthology’s revival with some well-known creators. Including stories from noteworthy contributors like James A. Owen, comedian Patton Oswalt, the Luna Brothers, Kurt Busiek, Steve Lieber, and Danijel Zezelj, the bar was once again set high. Subsequent issues have not disappointed, and the exciting aspect of that is the fact that, for the most part, those now contributing regularly to Negative Burn are relative unknowns – the vanguard of the next generation of cartoonists. The likes of R.G. Taylor, Michel Fiffe, Sami Makkonen, G.B. Tran, Dalabor Talajic, Noel Tuazon, Elizabeth Genco, and Elton Pruitt are lighting the way for what should hopefully be a long and healthy run for this essential and engrossing comic anthology.

An Interview with writer Elton Pruitt:

Chris Beckett: Why comics? What was it that attracted you to this storytelling medium?

Pruitt: I've loved comics from the time I was a wee sprout. I spent many a summer's day in my grandfather's barber shop, reading everything from the Fantastic Four annual where Reed and Sue got married, to the comic adaptation of the original Dark Shadows TV show.

As a “grown-up,” I went through the “I’m too grown-up for comics” phase for a long while. But when I learned in late 2004 that I was going to be a Dad, the strangest thing happened. I became interested in comics again and went on something of a “comics of my childhood” rampage, spending ridiculous amounts of money on eBay to amass Kirby's complete run on Kamandi – which was a comic I always wanted to read as a child, but never actually got to.

From there, it was a short step to deciding I wanted to write comics myself. The idea that I could write something and see it brought to visual life, and that people might actually read it and be in some way moved by it – that was just the coolest thing I could imagine, and seemed somehow like a natural extension of my imminent new identity as a Dad.

Beckett: You mentioned in an email that you hired Kristen Simon of Image’s Shadowline studio to edit a couple of the stories that eventually saw print in Negative Burn. I wonder if you’d be able to recount a specific instance where her editorial guidance helped improve a story.

Pruitt: Oh, yeah! The first time I worked with her, I was trying to get a story accepted in 803 Studios' Sequential Suicide anthology. I'd written one script already – which was the first actual comic book script of my life – but I wasn't sure how I felt about it. So then I got this harebrained notion to write a story inspired by Raymond Carver's “What's In Alaska?” which hinges on a scene in which these two couples are getting high together.

So, I wrote this story about a soldier home on leave from Iraq, who gets high with his girlfriend and while they're both high, learns of her infidelity. Which actually sounds like it might be a good story. But it wasn't – not even close.

When I sent it to Kris to edit, I mentioned that I'd written another story first but then decided to go with this new one. When she emailed me back, she spent a paragraph pointing out probably a half-dozen critical problems with the story I'd sent. And then she closed with, “maybe you should send me the other story!”

And the other one, with her help, became the story that was my first-ever published work, “Fall of the Triumvirate.”

The second story she edited for me, “This Is Where I Am,” had a two-page dream sequence that I was just in love with in an early draft. At her urging, I cut it entirely, and that freed me up to make other changes that ultimately resulted in a much better story.

Beckett: In a more general sense, what lessons did you take away from the experience of working with Ms. Simon?

Pruitt: When you're just starting out, the best possible thing you can do to learn and grow as a writer is to find an editor who'll tell you God's honest truth about your writing. Because friends and family want to be supportive and encouraging, which is great and all, but that's not what you really need. What you need is constructive criticism, and that's what working with Kris provided me.

Beckett:For readers that may be unfamiliar with Negative Burn, why did you submit these short stories to the book, and what does it mean for you to have your work published within this anthology?

Pruitt: At the start of 2007, my goal for the year was to get my first comic book story published. So to get published in three different anthologies last year, and to end the year with stories in three consecutive issues of Negative Burn – that's really more than I could've hoped for.

Why Negative Burn? Simple – it's the premiere anthology in comics. If you check out the Desperado Publishing site and look through the list of creators published in Negative Burn, it's like a who's who of comics: Brian Bolland, Alan Moore, Paul Pope, Kurt Busiek, Dave Gibbons, and a ton of others.

Last summer at the San Diego Comic-Con, my friend and fellow writer Caleb Monroe introduced me to a lot of people he knows in the industry. And having “Elton's got a couple of stories coming out in Negative Burn this fall” as part of that introduction did wonders for my credibility. Because everybody knows Negative Burn, and its reputation is stellar.

Beckett: What is the best piece of advice you can give to other aspiring creators who wish to get their comics published?

Pruitt: First of all, realize you're probably not Jason Aaron. It's more likely that you'll accidentally invent time travel than that you'll land a series at Vertigo right out of the gate. So, set some realistic goals for yourself.

I think you learn and grow a lot more as a writer by actually creating comics and getting them out there for people to read, than by confining yourself to 5-page submissions that never see the light of day. So, the approach I'd recommend is the one I've followed in the last year: write short stories, get great artists to illustrate them, and send them out to Negative Burn and other anthologies.

Lastly, find an editor who'll work with you on a freelance basis – Kris Simon is obviously highly recommended – and listen to what they tell you, and learn from their experience.

Beckett: What other projects are you working on that you would like to tell readers about?

Pruitt: I've got two more short stories in artists' hands right now, so hopefully those will be appearing in Negative Burn in the not-distant future. “By The Southern Grace of God” is a story about an apocryphal Lynyrd Skynyrd song and a young woman's search for the father she never knew. “Frog-Boy” is a weird and touching tale about, well, Frog-Boy!

Later this year, if all goes according to plan, I'll have a story in Postcards II: California Dreaming, the follow-up to last year's Postcards: True Stories That Never Happened, in which all the stories are inspired by actual mailed postcards. And come the Christmas season, I'll have a story (illustrated by the brilliant Marvin Mann) appearing in a collection of true Christmas disasters James W. Powell is putting together.

In the meantime, Elizabeth Genco and I are cooking up a little creator-owned something that's probably the last thing you'd expect to see from either one of us. So, that'll be fun and different and hopefully landing on some fine publisher's doorstep later this year.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

FYC the lost episodes:

I used to write a weekly column for the Pulse, entitled For Your Consideration. It was a review/recommendation column - heavily weighed toward recommendations - for independent, self-published, and web comics. Mostly, it was stuff I really enjoyed and wanted to try and bring to a wider audience.

In the middle of 2008, the Pulse was prepping for a revamp, and the moderator felt it prudent to hold back any columns I had "in the can" because whatever went up before the revamp of the site would ultimately be lost. I agreed, and when the Pulse finally came online with its new look, right around the time we were voting for a new President, I assumed FYC would resume weekly publication.

But that was not to be - the moderator of the site Jen Contino cited the overwhelming task of re-issuing, so to speak, much of the content that had recently been available at the site, but assured me that come the New Year, FYC would be back. And, it was agreed it would then be bi-weekly, alternating with the other "outside" column on the site, "Make With the Funny Comic."

Only one of the columns, which I had sent in almost nine months prior at that point, made it onto the site. From where I sit, it appears the task of keeping the site going took far more of Ms. Contino's time than she expected, though I am unable to verify this as she was not able to reply to my email inquiries. But if you check the site out - here - you'll see that almost every single post, interview, review, commentary, is written by her.

I do not envy her and wish Jen the best as she gave me a great break. But I felt it necessary to cut ties with the site and focus on my fiction. This has been a good thing for me, but I also feel an obligation to those I had contacted regarding doing interviews for the Pulse and FYC. So, through this week you'll be seeing the finished columns that were "in the can" and never got publication, and I hope that someday I will get back to those interviews I never attached to a column and bring them to you here as well. Some of the information may be outdated with regards to the Q&As with the creators, but the books are still great, and I expect you'll be able to find them still whether through ebay or Amazon or your LCS.

Thanks and I hope you all enjoy the next five days of things that never were.


Friday, June 5, 2009

More UFO art

This will be quick. Just wanted to drop a line here that Jason Copland put up a couple of panels from our upcoming UFO tale, "Life is Funny." I've reproduced the panels here, but go check out Jason's blog. He's doing some great stuff