Category: Interviews

NextChapter Debuts with Sean Chen’s 24-Hour Only Wingman
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NextChapter Debuts with Sean Chen’s 24-Hour Only Wingman

It takes a lot for a new publisher to get noticed these days and the challenge is to offer up something that hasn’t been seen before. New heroes? Check. New shared universe? Check. Variant covers? Check.

So, NextChapter—a graphic media publisher and distributor formed by and launching from The Great Company, arrives today with something unique. Veteran artist Sean Chen offers up their inaugural title, Wingman: Compendium of an Artist’s First Writing Experience, which showcases his artwork in addition to his first writing. The 9.5” x 12” 64-page softcover comes complete with Chen’s story and commentary on its creation and evolution.

One of the most interesting aspects is that the title will only be available on NextChapter’s website for 24-hours only, starting earlier today at 10:00 a.m. PDT. The storybook offers readers a look into Chen’s creative process, while random fans who purchase the book will also receive an autographed sketch from Chen, best known for his work at Valiant Comics and Marvel Comics.

In addition to the $28 softcover, 15 1-of-1 original drawings will be up for auction. The gallery will be powered by crypto vexels and hosted by crypto art community Machi X DAO, a member-directed organization where members pool resources and create proposals.

It’s an interesting gamble for the tyro writer but one he feels ready for. “I have never written for the majors, or anything really,” he told ComicMix in an exclusive interview. “I have an abiding love for great stories and always wanted to dabble in the process.  Regardless of having never formally written anything, as I matured, my sensibilities and knowledge of what makes good writing developed, so I did feel ready and confident that I could write on a level that had a decent chance of going over well.  If not, the project can function as art content for my Instagram, which needed to be fed almost daily.  I would know soon enough if the writing was connecting with people.  If it did, then I would entertain the possibility of bringing it out of Instagram to a larger audience in print.”

Interestingly, Chen, known for Iron Man and X*O Man of War, went back in time to feature the story of an old Knight from the Crusades, dying and reflecting on a full life.

“Before I ever wrote anything, the one thing I was sure of was that the genre would be a science fiction thriller. That had always been my genre of choice because it was very visual, action-packed, but also engaged the heavy thought-provoking literary aspects that you usually don’t find in superhero stories.  The biggest surprise for me was that it was not that at all.  Instead, it went toward iconic characters from vintage foreign films.

“Another aspect that was a shock for me was that it had so much comedy in it.  In fact, the story seems to defy all attempts to classify which I think is great because it’s a rare thing to get that feeling of being totally engrossed in a story and invested in the fate of the characters and not having a clue of what’s going to happen next.

“Also surprising was the revelation that as episodes of the comic were being released on my Instagram, readers were commenting very positively about the story.  They wanted to know how the story would end, while also not wanting it to end.  That was when I found out that I can actually bring something to the table as a writer!

“I think the genre I ended up exploring in Wingman was a reaction to drawing decades of superhero work from Marvel and DC.  Normally, super-hero or Sci-Fi would be the genre I would work in, but this first project I wanted to take a breather from the capes and spandex.  I think people who are familiar with my Marvel/DC work would see that Wingman has a completely different style.  I came across the iconic image of The Seventh Seal opening movie scene where The Knight and The Grim Reaper play a game of chess on a desolate craggy beach.  Because of the imagination of Ingmar Bergman and the cinematography that image hit me like a lightning bolt, and I felt compelled to draw it.  The dialogue was equally iconic, so I added a word balloon repeating what I had heard in the clip.  It all began from there and became a reimagined story set in modern time.”

Chen began the story for himself, posting it on his Instagram account in small batches. In time, that allowed me to gauge reader’s reactions in the comments section and mine it for vital feedback. I used my followers as an important focus group.  The most important feedback I was looking for was whether the story was engaging and if the jokes were landing with the proper effect. Other factors such as pointing out plot holes, and lesser things like grammar and spelling.  Many changes and corrections were made based on this feedback on both writing and art.  So I did dedicate the book to ‘My Fine Followers on Instagram’ whom I consider to be Editor/Art Director.”

He partnered with NextChapter because he knew the startup’s publisher, Carl Choi, from Chen’s work in the advertising field. “When he approached me about releasing a print version of Wingman what sold me on his new company was that he envisioned an educational and outreach component.  His vision was to build a community that connected readers to creators that had the goal of showcasing what was possible in the medium of comics and to teach people how they can express themselves using the medium.  He required of me to create even more content in the form of commentary and educational matter that demystified how a comic is drawn, written and produced.  The first prong of his publishing plan was to use Instagram to debut the comic.  This allows readers to connect directly to the creator with feedback or questions. Then in the printed release, the creator commentary and process discussion is another great way to give readers insight into the creative process.”

The other challenge for him as a creator having the work presented in landscape rather than the traditional waterfall page orientation. He explained this was NextChapter’s creative decision, which he wholeheartedly supported.  “This was because it allowed for the large amount of commentary and educational text that was added in sidebars which gives readers insight into the creative process.  The biggest challenge to the format was that because the comic was meant for Instagram, it had to be readable on a mobile phone interface.  Lettering needed to be larger, so dialogue had to be succinct while still feeling natural.  The art also had to be readable at a small size while still allowing me to indulge in my usual meticulous inking style.,” he said.

As this release heralds a new chapter in Chen’s growth as a creator, he remains the monthly artist on DC’s Batman Beyond and he’s excited for its future, noting, “I am about to embark on the massively important issue #50!  Beyond that, I plan to do more writing and drawing stories.  Probably that Sci-Fi thriller that has always been brewing in the back of my mind.  Or really anything that strikes my fancy.  It’s a great time to create now as self-publishing is easier than ever, and outlets for comics material are plentiful.  It’s a powerful feeling to be able to draw and write my own stories at a time where fans will respond to individual creators passion instead of habitually looking to the big 2 for their typical comics fix.

The nine year old Great Company, found by Carl Choi and based in Los Angeles, promotes itself as providing “Event Marketing · Brand Marketing, Content Strategy, Content Marketing, and Marketing Consulting”.

Matt Miner and Eric Palicki Bring “All We Ever Wanted” to Kickstarter

Earlier today A Wave Blue World, a graphic novel, anthology, and art book publisher run and operated by Tyler and Wendy Chin-Tanner, launched their latest Kickstarter. Organized and edited by Matt Miner and Eric Palicki who both previously published This Nightmare Kills Fascists through AWBW, this comics anthology moves away from horror and into optimistic speculative fiction; more Star Trek than Mad Max. This latest anthology, All We Ever Wanted: Stories of a Better World, has nearly reached 20% of it’s goal in just a few hours.

I got the chance to chat with Matt and Eric about this exciting new anthology, which you can read below as well as seeing an exclusive preview page from Maria Frohlich’s story “It Looked Like Our Dreams.”

After the success of This Nightmare Kills Fascists, what made you both decide to tell such a different kind of story with your new anthology?

Matt: Eric and I felt that we’re already living in the beginning stages of the nightmare dystopian future promised to us by movies and books, and we wanted to do something uplifting, inspiring.  The stories are all filled with conflict and problems, but told against the backdrop of a better future. So, think more “San Junipero” Black Mirror and less “Shut up and Dance” Black Mirror.

Eric: While there are some positive, cathartic moments in TNKF, most of the stories –often without subtlety — hone in on what has become a depressing reality. It has gotten difficult to outdo the horror on the nightly news, so it felt appropriate to redirect our attention away from grounding ourselves in the moment and toward a better future.

It’s also nice to undermine readers’ expectations. Matt is primarily known as a horror writer, thanks to Toe Tag Riot, Critical Hit, Poser, and GWAR, and my last book, No Angel, also had a strong horror element. It’s nice to step out of our respective comfort zones.    

Matt: It’s nice I’m known as a horror writer now instead of the guy who writes political stuff.  You start your career with a series about animal liberationists and you’re branded that way for a long time.


Outside a few people including yourselves there are no repeat contributors in this volume. Why is that?

Matt: We simply have too many friends and colleagues we wanted to ask to be part of these anthology projects so we wanted to give more people a chance to contribute.  Our next anthology, presumably in 2019, might have some repeating creators.

Eric: The number of creators who approached me about joining TNKF during the campaign or, later, about appearing in the follow-up has been heartening. After filling two books with people whose work I admire, I still haven’t managed to fit everyone in. As with This Nightmare Kills Fascists, a few of the spaces are going to brand new voices, which is one of the most rewarding parts of this gig, and most of the TNKF creators I’ve spoken to have been really cool about ceding their place in the new book to give unsung or underappreciated talent a platform.


Is there anything you learned from doing This Nightmare Kills Fascists that you’ll be repeating or not repeating here?

Matt: I learned to keep a better eye on organization.  Putting together a huge book with dozens of creators is a massive undertaking and my spreadsheets tracking contacts, deadlines, money, etc are much more detailed this time around.  

This book has also helped Eric and I further hone our editorial skills and better do what it takes to help people tell their best story.

Eric: Editing TNKF opened my eyes to those moments when it’s good to provide firm editorial guidance and when it’s better to step out of the way and let the creators do their own thing. I’d like to think I’ve developed a more targeted approach to editing the stories in this new book.

I also think the division of labor between us is better this time around, or at least more logical. Matt is much better at the organizational aspects of planning and tracking, for example, so I’m happy to leave that to him rather than stepping in and ultimately making a mess.

Check out the Kickstarter campaign here to learn more. Backing at the $20 level gets you the physical copy of the anthology. Ends .

Ed Catto: The Retail Mavericks Who Gave Us a New Geek Culture

I’ve loved comic shops ever since I rode my bike past Kim’s Collectible Comics and Records in the mid-70s. Kim Draheim, the owner, was one day away from opening the store.  He told me to come back the next day. I did and I am proud to say I was his very first customer.

I get that same thrill every time I visit a new comic shop. I’ve been to quite a few since then. I am always impressed the way each one seems to be on the bleeding edge of Geek Culture, combining entrepreneurial courage with personal passion.

So I was so eager to start reading Comic Shop: The Retail Mavericks Who Gave Us a New Geek Culture.  There’s a lot of great stuff in this book, and I wanted to learn more. I reached out to Dan Gearino, the author and he had a lot to say.

Ed Catto: Can you tell us a little about your comics background and business/writing? What makes you the right person to write this book?

Dan Gearino: I’ve read comics for as long as I can remember. Like many children of the 80s, my gateways were the G.I. Joe and Transformers from Marvel. I soon became a DC kid, though. I think I was hooked for life by 1985, with DC’s Who’s Who, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and my discovery of the Legion of Super-Heroes. In high school and college, I read the Vertigo books. Shade the Changing Man was my favorite, and I don’t want to reread it for fear that it may not hold up. Late in college, I found my way to DreamHaven Books in Minneapolis, and that’s when I started to read Palookaville, Eightball, Artbabe and a lot of the other great stuff that was coming out in the late-1990s.

As for my reporting background, I was an editor at my college newspaper in Minnesota. My first job at a daily newspaper was in Keene, New Hampshire, where I covered a little bit of everything, including the presidential primary. From there, I went back to my home state, Iowa, and covered the statehouse and politics. Since 2008, I’ve been a business reporter for The Columbus Dispatch in Ohio, covering manufacturing and energy.

Because of my experience writing about businesses, I could see what an odd duck comic shops are in terms of the model, and I could see that the shops have an unusually high degree of difficulty. That, along with a great cast of characters, made me want to take a close look. Also — and this is a significant point — there were no books out there about the business of comic shops, and I thought that there must be people out there like me who wanted to know more about the subject.

EC: The early days of the direct comics market is getting to be “a long time ago”. How did you go about researching it all?

DG: Much of my research was through interviews, largely because there is not a reliable written record of a lot of this stuff. Unlike the things I cover in my day job, comics were not a large enough business to attract much market research or professional media coverage. The fan press was fun for me to read, especially for the ads from early dealers, but was no substitute for a good trade journal. This changed later on when the Comics Journal began in earnest, and other publications, but that wasn’t until years after the dawn of the modern version of the business. Luckily, many of the people from the early days are still around. I was thrilled to find and interview Robert Bell, an early retailer in New York, and Jonni Levas, who was co-owner of Sea Gate, the first direct distributor of mainstream comics, just to name two people.

EC: How many comic shops have you visited? What are your personal favorites and did you come across any surprises?

DG: I visited at lot of shops. It would be a project to trace my steps and count them. Suffice it to say that there are many shops I visited that informed the reporting but are not mentioned in the book. As for favorites and surprises, I have a real fondness for Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan; Legend Comics in Omaha, Nebraska; and Aw Yeah Comics in Muncie, Indiana, to name a few that I was unaware of before this project. There were several others that are well-known for being great, and were indeed great, such as The Beguiling in Toronto, Chicago Comics and Flying Colors Comics in California.

EC: What comic shops are next on your list for a visit?

DG: My list is long. There are a few stores I profiled that have moved or expanded since I last was there, plus many that I heard about for the first time after the book went to press.

EC: How would do you respond when someone says, “I’d like to open up a comic shop?”

DG: My advice would be that a new shop owner needs to be well-capitalized to be able to afford the kind of diverse inventory to have a strong start, and to weather the potential of a slow start. The amounts are different depending on the region, but $100,000 is a number I’ve heard more than once as a rule of thumb. This is very different from the 1970s, when someone could start a shop with their own collection and first month’s rent.

If you have the financing make a go go of it, my next advice would be to visit lots of stores and see what they do well. Many retailers will be eager to give advice, as long as that new shop isn’t in the same market. The best stores have a lot in common in terms of attitude and merchandising choices. Also, find a bad store or two, with disorganized stock and an indifferent staff, so that you can see how not to be.

EC: What comics are on your nightstand and from which comic shop did you buy them?

DG: My local shop is The Laughing Ogre in Columbus, which is a prominent part of the book. I have a big stack of comics and books, including recent issues of Saga and Paper Girls, a few of DC’s Young Animal titles. I also have lots of back issues that I’ve picked up all over the place, part of a seemingly unending to-read list. Lately, I’ve gotten a lot of old Jonah Hex, which I started to buy because of Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez’s art, and then continued to get for the clever stories and the other great artists such as Tony DeZuniga. There’s a lot of Garcia-Lopez on my nightstand now, including some old Batman and DC Comics Presents. As for books, I’ve been reading Charlier and Moebius’ Blueberry, thanks to a great find at a used-book store. I also got some great new stuff at Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, a show here in town that everyone should check out. One of the guests was Tillie Walden and I got a signed copy of her new book, Spinning, which is ridiculously good.

EC: Who can argue with someone who’s reading Paper Girls and Jonah Hex? Thanks for your time, Dan.


Comic Shop: The Retail Mavericks Who Gave Us a New Geek Culture is available at comic shops and bookstores everywhere.

Emily S. Whitten: TMNT Season 5 & Rise of the TMNT – There & Back Again?

The current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated TV series is now in its fifth and final season, scheduled to wrap on November 12, 2017. It makes me saaaaaad, because I love not only TMNT (original flavor to present) and this current show but every member of this series’ cast and crew that I’ve met while covering the show (and thanks to Nickelodeon for inviting me to continually cover each season of this freaking awesome TV show). The folks who make this show are amazing, and I feel privileged to have been able to follow their journey through the seasons to its end.

Despite the impending finish of the series, however, there’s a lot of awesomeness that’s been going on this season, and I expect (particularly given what Ciro Nieli said in our most recent interview, and my knowledge of his, Brandon Auman’s, and other crew members’ dedication to respecting this property and getting the stories right) that it will end as perfectly as the rest of the series has developed. As part of that, this season we’ve already gotten an extra-cool addition to the series cast, Miyamoto Usagi of Usagi Yojimbo, the anthropomorphic rabbit rōnin whom creator Stan Sakai based partially on the famous swordsman Miyamoto Musashi.

Thanks (as always) to Nickelodeon, I got to sit down to talk about this season with Executive Producer Ciro Nieli, Rob Paulsen (voice actor, Donatello), Stan Sakai (creator, Usagi Yojimbo), and Yuki Matsuzaki (voice actor, Miyamoto Usagi). We chatted about Usagi’s appearance in this TMNT series and about the end of the current show.

In particular, we discussed the history of intersections between TMNT and Usagi Yojimbo; how Usagi’s appearance came about in this series; Yuki’s casting and how he prepared for his first animation/voice acting role; Yuki’s reverence for Stan’s work and concern about getting the voice right in Stan’s eyes; Ciro’s focus on casting a Japanese actor for Usagi and general approach to casting; and everyone’s respect for this beloved intellectual property. We also talked about Ciro’s emotional preparation to move on from the series (which I could sense when I toured the Nickelodeon studio earlier this year and visited with him – his love of TMNT and being a part of it are so palpable any time you talk with him) and the determination he and everyone involved have to end the show right.

It was great to talk with everyone about this final season, and as always, I’m glad to share that chat with you here. Check out the video below for the full interview:

Despite my sadness at the End of an Era, I’m looking forward to enjoying a proper finish to the amazing execution of TMNT in the current show. And although I can’t say how any new interpretation of the show will grab me (particularly given, let’s be honest, how much I love the current era of TMNT, and how watching any new version will thus be bittersweet), it is noteworthy that Nickelodeon has announced 26 episodes of a reboot of TMNT called Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Details are scarce, although we do know that Andy Suriano (character designer for Samurai Jack) and Ant Ward (supervising producer on the current TMNT series) are producing the series; but obviously I’ll at least have to give it a chance and see how it goes.

But before then, I’ll be wrapping Season 5 of the current series with y’all and feeling the same pangs of sadness I assume are creeping up on all TMNT fans. Hang in there, fellow Turtles fans. At least we’ll always have these five seasons of awesomeness to console us.

So until this season ends, BOOYAKASHA! And also, Servo Lectio!

Tweeks: iZombie Cast Interview

As you know, iZombie was renewed for a 4th season, but as you also know it’s a midseason show, so we won’t get to enjoy it until early 2018. Boo!

But as Halloween approaches, if you are in the mood to find out what your favorite morgue-working zombie and her brain-eating squad will be up in New Seattle, Maddy had a little press room chat with show runner Diane Ruggiero-Wright and the cast including Malcom Goodwin, Rahul Kohli, Robert Buckley, Rose McIver and Aly Michalka.

Check it out.

Tweeks: Supernatural SDCC 2017 Interview Part 2

Here’s Part 2 of our Supernatural interview from San Diego Comic Con — and it’s a good one! We talk to show runners Robert Singer & Andrew Dabb about what to expect in Season 13 (which starts NEXT WEEK! October 12th on The CW)! They tells us what they can’t wait for us to see, talk about Charlie’s potential return, John Winchester’s hopeful eventual return, an animated Sam & Dean working with the Scooby Gang, how an Arrow cross-over might work, Wayward Sisters, and more!

Don’t start Season 13 without watching this interview (& if you haven’t seen part one with Jared, Jensen & Misha — go watch that too!)

Tweeks Supernatural Interview Pt 1

Supernatural will begin it’s 13th Season on October 12 on The CW. That is only three weeks away! So to catch you up to speed, here is our interview with Jensen Ackles (Dean), Jared Padalecki (Sam), and Misha Collins (Castiel)!

The possible spin off that was announced at SDCC, Wayward Sisters, is mentioned briefly. We’ll bring you more info on that when we have it, but so far we know it will be an episode during this season of Supernatural that will serve as the pilot. It will star Kim Rhodes as Sheriff Jody Mills, Briana Buckmaster as Sheriff Donna Hanscum, Kathryn Newton as Claire Novak, Clark Back as Patience Turner, and Katherine Ramdeen as Alex Jones.

The Tweeks interview Bryan Lee O’Malley!

OMG, we are huge fans of the Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series, so we were totally excited to talk with the series creator, Bryan Lee O’Malley — who you might also know from Seconds or Snot Girl or Lost at Sea.

Also, before we forget, if you are Scott Pilgrim fans too, you won’t want to miss the newly released Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Card Game put out by Renegade Game Studios and Oni Press. It’s a deck-building game by Keith Baker that has double sided cards with video-game-style combo moves unique to each character and life choices you’ll have to make about if you’ll solve your problems with hard work and empathy or video game violence. Such a tough choice.

So anyway, watch our interview with Bryan to find out who has influenced him, why he’s so funny, and what he has in store for us next. If you haven’t read his books, definitely get on that. We can’t recommend them enough!

In this Corner of the World Opens Aug. 18

Based on the award-winning manga by Fumiyo Kouno, In This Corner of the World, bolstered by emotionally resonant storytelling and exquisite hand-drawn animation, is an empowering coming-of-age tale set against the backdrop of WWII and captures the resilience and triumph of the human spirit.

The award-winning story of In This Corner of the World follows a young lady named Suzu Urano, who in 1944 moves to the small town of Kure in Hiroshima to live with her husband’s family. Suzu’s life is thrown into chaos when her town is bombed during World War II. Her perseverance and courage underpin this heart-warming and inspirational tale of the everyday challenges faced by the Japanese in the midst of a violent, war-torn country. This beautiful yet poignant tale shows that even in the face of adversity and loss, people can come together and rebuild their lives.

In This Corner of the World in cinemas (NY, LA and SF) opens this weekend, and the film’s director Sunao Katabuchi briefly discusses various kinds of historical research since the movie shows a part of Hiroshima that was completely destroyed.

Much of the Kure and Hiroshima landscape of the 1940s was tragically lost to air raids and the atomic bomb. Not many survivors with first-hand experience of the war are still with us.  Director Sunao Katabuchi spent six years thoroughly researching the details before animation work began. He gathered accounts from people about those days and collected more than 4,000 photographs to recreate the cityscape of the 1930s and 40s.

On August 18, this movie is expanding to more screens in Los Angeles, SF Bay Area and is set to open in major cities in the U.S. and Canada.

Animated feature In This Corner of the World opens this August. The film is rated PG-13 and has a run time of 129 minutes.

IN THIS CORNER OF THE WORLD

Shout! Factory Films and Funimation Films
Director: Sunao Katabuchi
Voice Cast: Non, Yoshimasa Hosoya, Natsuki Inaba, Minori Omi, Daisuke Ono
Written by:  Sunao Katabuchi
Based on the award-winning manga by Fumiyo Kouno
Produced by: Taro Maki and Masao Maruyama
Genre: Animated Feature
*Japanese with English subtitles

Tweeks: SDCC 2017 Voltron Interview

This week, I talk to Lauren Montgomery and Joaquim Dos Santos, the producers of Voltron: Legendary Defender, as well as, Bex Taylor-Klaus and Tyler Labine, the voices of Pidge and Hunk, about the recently released Season 3 of the hit Netflix Original. And if you are a fan of voice acting, Bex & Tyler have some great things to say about that too!

Without spoilers, let me say that Season 3 was so amazing! The characters were really explored more in this season, in regards to what makes them tick and the motives behind what they do. We also had some light shined on the lives of the original Paladins and their relationships, notably King Alfor, Haggar, and Zarkon. The season was only 7 episodes (ughhhh) but it’s worth it because Season 4 releases in October!

Let me know how you feel about Season 3 in the comments!

– Maddy