A Wave Blue World or AWBW is an independent comics publisher founded in 2005 with a focus on graphic novels, anthologies and art books. The founders, Tyler & Wendy Chin-Tanner, put an emphasis on publishing culturally relevant works including American Terrorist, Broken Frontier, and last year’s This Nightmare Kills Fascists which was successfully funded on Kickstarter last year and available on Amazon and through Diamond Previews now with order code SEP181563.
The editorial team of Matt Miner and Eric Palicki from TNKF is back, joined by AWBW publisher Tyler Chin-Tanner to bring us All We Ever Wanted. Where TNKF looked at issues facing us from a horror angle, All We Ever Wanted takes on the issues that affect our lives with a more optimistic approach. It’s a collection of 24 stories that present a brighter vision of the future, meant to inspire hope that together we can create a better world. The creators behind this anthology include veterans of comics like Howard Mackie and rising starts like Nadia Shammas and Eryk Donovan with a cover by Ariela Kristantina and a logo by Katrina Tan Kit.
Tyler of AWBW was kind enough to give ComicMix one of the 24 stories from All We Ever Wanted, “The Weight of Time” to premiere in its entirely on our site. This story examines how we view the queer civil rights movement and is written by Jarrett Melendez with art by Danica Brine and lettering by Taylor Esposito. If you like the story, please reach out to your LCS to have them order a copy for you with Diamond order code OCT181514 or send them this link. All We Ever Wanted will be available on December 12th, so get your pre-orders in with your LCS as soon as you can!
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 .
Back in October, an inarguably simpler time, I got the chance to interview writer Matt Miner and editor Brendan Wright on the project they were promoting on Kickstarter, Gwar: Orgasmageddon. Since then, not only did that Kickstarter get fully funded, but it got picked up for distribution by Dynamite Entertainment. The first issue is scheduled for release next month. I got my hands on a review copy, and since I asked you all to support the Kickstarter for this comic I might as well tell you what I think.
Before I jump in there are a lot of credits to this comic, so let me get through that first. The main 18-page story is written by Gwar’s own Matt Maguire and Matt Miner, line art by Jonathan Brandon Sawyer with Matt Maguire, colors by Marissa Louise and Doug Garbark, and letters and designs by Taylor Esposito. The four-page backup, X-Cops/Zipper Pig, was written and drawn by Gwar’s own Bob Gorman with colors by Hank Jones. The two-page backup, Gwar Slave Follies “Pissing Match,” was written by Matt Miner, line art by Scott Wygmans, colors John Bailey and letters by Taylor Esposito. Interior cover by Megan Muir. Covers by Jonathan Brandon Sawyer with Josh Jensen and Scott Wygmans. Edited by Brendan Wright.
Now that I got through that, it’s time to talk about my thoughts on Gwar: Orgasmageddon! Gwar, as you may know, is a band with a lot of theatrics. It’s kind of like if KISS (which is also a comic book at Dynamite) was a Troma production. They’re a group of unapologetically violent and somewhat homoerotic aliens that fight against other unapologetically violent and somewhat homoerotic aliens, except their manager is not an alien. They also travel through time, so throw some Bill & Ted into my analogy earlier. Maybe some Conan too.
Anyway, the story starts out by introducing most of the characters with caption boxes on the first page like a Legion of Super-Heroes comic. Both Matts weave a story with breakneck speed as we start right in the middle of a Gwar show and goes right into murder and mayhem, and that’s before the bad guys get there! Once they do, we’re propelled into a time jumping murder spree in an overtly phallic rocket that’s called exactly what you think it should be called. Hilarity ensues as the bodies pile up.
Jonathan and Matt’s line art is absolutely wonderful. The pages are laid out primarily in four or five panels with most of it being very traditional looking. This makes for a good contrast to the absurdity throughout the story and reinforces some of the parody elements we see in the issue. Their expressive facial expressions really sell the tongue-in-cheek dialogue and the fourth wall breaks that occur sporadically throughout. It sometimes feels like I’m reading an X-treme Marvel type comic from the early 90s.
The best part about this story might be the coloring. The colors throughout this, heavy on greens, blues, and reds, really make this story pop. Honestly, the colors in this story make it feel so fluid that after you put this comic down for a minute you’ll swear that you remember watching a Gwar cartoon. Taylor Esposito’s lettering also sells how Gwar and the other characters talk in such a way that even if you haven’t heard of the band, you’d know their voice.
The shorts at the end are fun too, and really give it a throwback feel. X-Cop/Zipper Pig has a more simple art style and is done as an origin story. “Pissing Match” is a quick two-pager that helps flesh out a couple of characters you already saw in the bigger story, again like something out of a Legion of Super-Heroes comic.
I will say that if you are easily offended, this book is not for you. I don’t mean to say that as a slight to people who would be easily offended; it’s perfectly within your right. I’m just saying you probably won’t like this. The blood gets bloody, the gore gets gory, there may be a joke or two that comes off as culturally insensitive as well as some events that Gwar experiences in the past that they influence in a way that may upset you.
All in all, Gwar: Orgasmaggedon #1 is a fantastic debut filled with the kind of fun you miss in comics. It’s a wild ride that never tells you it’s sorry but does remind you to not take it too seriously. Everyone that wants to do a comic about a band needs to read this and take notes. And whether you read this because you’re a Gwar fan or just because it’s a fun time, you won’t be disappointed.
Now I loves me some catharsis. This past weekend I went down to New York’s lower east side to enjoy a David Bowie tribute night at The Delancey. They played the Cracked Actor documentary, had a cover band play a set exclusively from my favorite Bowie era – Station To Station through Scary Monsters And Super Creeps. It was a good time that I’m still reeling from.
With the impending conservative wave reaching its pinnacle in less than two weeks, I’ve been searching for other means to cope. Luckily I received my Kickstarter reward from backing the Black Mask Studios comic Toe Tag Riot the other day. That reward was the graphic novel collecting every bit of it including the shorts and, boy, could it have not come at a better time.
For those of you that don’t know, Toe Tag Riot is a four issue miniseries by writer Matt Miner and artist Sean Von Gorman. It’s the tale of a punk band in 2004 that gets a curse put on them that turns them into zombies every time they play. This causes the band, made up of singer Dickie Tagz, guitarist Paulie Propylene, bassist Annie Maul, and drummer Evie Vee, to have an unstoppable urge to devour human flesh that even band vegetarian Paulie can’t hold back.
Instead of allowing themselves to give in to the evil of random killings to feed their zombie hunger, the band takes up an arguably more noble stance and only preys on bigots. I don’t want to ruin any surprises, but we get more rock star special appearances than just Fall Out Boy’s Andy Hurley and more bad guys than just Fred Phelps.
Now I know many of you wouldn’t condone the brutal massacres of groups like One Million Moms, The Westboro Baptist Church, or Neo Nazis, but Toe Tag Riot can sure be a good outlet for all that pent up aggression towards bigotry. Matt Miner’s writing on this project was heavily influenced by B horror movies and grindhouse style exploitation films and informs the characters.
Dickie Tagz is written as that kind of blissfully unaware “how homophobic he is in 2004 type” guy who grows as the story progresses. Annie and Evie are written as two kickass lesbian lovers that are very aggressive and in your face about it all which harkens back to those exploitation films. And the language throughout the book is very unforgiving and includes characters using queer slurs. Those characters are the bad guys though as they’re getting killed and/or eaten by our zombie protagonists, so you have to keep those things in perspective.
Sean Von Gorman’s art with watercolor coloring by Savanna Ganucheau give the book an almost cartoonish feel at times that really blends nicely with that grindhouse tone. It helps take some moments that could have been taken more seriously like in some of Matt Miner’s other work and gives it a comedic tone that really makes you feel like you’re watching the best kind of B movie and I really appreciate this book for that reason. I’d also like to take this time to say how Sean is a favorite artist of mine and I’ve gotten enough commissioned pieces from him to open up a small gallery. You can follow in my footsteps and start your Sean Von Gorman art gallery by visiting his website.
That being said, you do have to be in the right mindset to jump into this comic. If you’re in the wrong state of mind you could wind up getting offended despite the liberal leanings of the creative team. And if some language and certain kinds of representation may offend you, which I understand, you may have qualms with this book. Otherwise, you should really pick this up. Revel in bigots getting eaten by punk zombies, because after January 20th, this kind of catharsis it might be one of the only things we have to get us through what’s coming.
Crowd funding has been a great starting ground for many comics projects. One of the latest to hit Kickstarter is GWAR: Orgasmaggedon. Yes, thatGWAR. The heavy metal icons are teaming up with comics professionals to bring us their signature mayhem off the stage and into your comics. Here’s an excerpt from their press release:
“Just launched on Kickstarter – GWAR: Orgasmaggedon, a blasphemous and blood-drenched 4-issue full-color comic book series by shock rock legends GWAR, writer Matt Miner (Toe Tag Riot, Critical Hit), artist Jonathan Brandon Sawyer (Welcome Back, Critical Hit), colorist Marissa Louise (RoboCop, Escape from New York), letterer Taylor Esposito (The Paybacks, Red Hood and the Outlaws) and editor Brendan Wright (Archie vs. Predator, Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight).
“Having already violated the art, music, and film worlds, now infamous scumdogs GWAR are coming for your comic books! Do you need to be a GWAR fan to love this series? Hell no! There’s loads of laughs, violence, fun, and irreverent social satire for everyone to enjoy!”
JC: For over 30 years (on Earth, at least) GWAR has brought us unapologetic metal music that’s rich with story and satire. Your latest story is coming to us in comic book form. Could you tell me about the early days of this project and which came first – wanting to a do a comic and crafting a story around that or having a story and wanting to craft a comic around that?
MATT MINER: Joe, I’ve wanted to make GWAR comics since before I started making comics at all. When I got into writing comics this, what we’re doing with GWAR: Orgasmageddon, was one of my major goals – to get the band onboard and write GWAR stories. Most folks who get into comics want to write Spider-Man or Batman, but I wanted to write GWAR. Really, really, bad. So I had ideas for stories, but once I started collaborating with the band, and Matt Maguire specifically, my ideas were fleshed out, expanded on, and made better.
JC: I understand you don’t need to be a big GWAR fan to pick up this book and enjoy it. How did you balance making an accessible comic while also making it a special experience for long time fans?
MATT MINER: I try and keep in mind “Will my wife understand this comic? Will she enjoy it?” Until a few months ago she thought GWAR was pronounced like G-WAR (“Gee War”), so to say she’s not a big fan already would be an understatement. Me, I’ve been into GWAR for more than half my life – her, not so much. So if I write it to be fun for her but still put loads of nods in there for longtime fans like me, I think we’ve got a hit.
BRENDAN WRIGHT: I’m new to GWAR – though now that I’ve been checking them out, the lore fits right in with my tastes and things I’ve edited like Grindhouse and Archie Vs. Predator – so part of my job is to be the relatively fresh set of eyes that can raise a flag when it feels like I’m missing something. What I’ve brought to GWAR from editing a lot of comics licensed from things I wasn’t previously familiar with is the idea that you include just enough explanation in the comic so that everything is clear, but don’t sweat it too much if a couple details go unexplained. As long as they don’t get in the way of the story, those details actually draw readers into the world, making them curious enough to want to dig into the source material rather than feeling like they have to. It’s not that different from when we all discovered superhero comics, which have tons of previous stories that simply can’t be referenced all the time. But ideally most of that goes by unnoticed for first-timers, who just get an over-the-top, funny story, while giving dedicated fans something extra.
JC: Who are some of the comic creators that inspire you and what are some of the comics and graphic novels that influenced you as creators while working on this project?
MATT MINER: For the GWAR book I’m drawing from a combination of stuff like old underground comics from the 80s, EC horror comics and bonkers amazing graphic novels such as anything Junji Ito does, but GWAR’s such a labor of love for me, that honestly I’m mostly inspired by the music and movies of GWAR, themselves. Speaking more generally, I’m a massive fan of ridiculously violent but full of depth comics like Preacher that cross boundaries and have you going “did they really just fuck a fish?”
BRENDAN WRIGHT: A lot of the stuff I’ve traditionally opened up for inspiration are classic manga like Osamu Tezuka or Takao Saito, 80s Batman, and 90s Vertigo (R.I.P. Steve Dillon), but in recent years the comics I find myself most excited to pick up have been rawer mini comics, stuff like Benjamin Marra, Charles Foresman, Michael DeForge, Katie Skelly, Michel Fiffe, and tons of others. There’s a directness and DIY vibe to these that I love and that speaks to why comics get under my skin – you don’t have to get anyone’s permission to make them, and living in the muck like we do, you can go anywhere with them, content-wise. If you like Marra’s Night Business or Terror Assaulter, GWAR is for you.
JC: What makes Kickstarter the ideal place to take a project like this one?
MATT MINER: I love comics that have cross-market appeal. I love bringing new stories to comics and I love bringing new people to comics with stories that reach outside the “two dudes in tights punching each other” norm. Not that there’s anything wrong with dudes in tights punching each other, of course!
Anyways, Kickstarter gives us the opportunity to run a campaign and target press outside of the world of comics – pop culture, horror, heavy metal and punk rock sites. We can reach a lot of people who might not normally read comics and flip ’em into loyal comic readers. I absolutely love comics, and bringing new people into our world is the only way we’re going to grow and thrive
BRENDAN WRIGHT: Kickstarter is amazing not just for disrupting how creative projects are funded, but also how they’re marketed. As Matt points out, a Kickstarter campaign tends to reach different kinds of press than the traditional PR route for most comics, but it also leads to a different kind of coverage within comics, more focused on the people making the book and the ways in which it’s personal for them. If a GWAR comic comes out from a publisher by the traditional means, there’s no way to know until it’s out if it was really a labor of love for the people who made it or if they were just hired hands. When it’s Kickstarted like this, you know the creative team are truly invested – they care so much they’re willing it into being by themselves.
JC: What makes this comic stand out from everything else on the market?
MATT MINER: The pages are soaked in blood and dinosaur jizz.
BRENDAN WRIGHT: More agony. More ecstasy. More times you’ll say to yourself, “No, they didn’t draw that. Surely there’s a law.”
JC: Favorite GWAR song?
MATT MINER: You’re asking me to “Sophie’s Choice” hundreds of my favorite song babies, Joe. That’s a long list, ranging from Hell-o’s “GWAR Theme” and “Techno’s Song” to Battle Maximus’ “Bloodbath”, with every “Sexecutioner,” “Gor Gor,” “Penguin Attack”, and “Metal Metal Land” in between. I can tell you some of the best videos by far are “Meat Sandwich” where Oderus Urungus dunks a basketball on Jesus, and “Surf of Syn” where a Godzilla-sized baby-eating holy robot trashes the city in an attempt to kill GWAR.
JC: Where can people go to pledge to this campaign and how long do they have?
MATT MINER: Go to GWARkickstarter.com to check out the goods! We’ve got all kinds of limited exclusives for comic fans, signed merchandise from the band, stage used props, original art from both the comic team and from GWAR, exclusive T-shirts and much much more. You’ve got until November 25th to make this happen or (see the Kickstarter video for more on this) Sawborg Destructo is gonna cut open me and Jonathan and play around in our guts.
This week I want to touch on a topic I haven’t addressed yet: crowdfunding. It’s been around for years now and has been a consistently used means to help fund projects and inventions ever since. Shortly after crowdfunding began to gain popularity with sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, many in and around the comics community flocked to crowdfunding as a means to fund creator-owned projects. It mostly started with indie comic creators trying to break in, but as time went on more established creators used crowdfunding as a way to fund passion comic projects and small publishers used it to start funding projects to lower their financial risks. Lowering financial risks for publishers to try putting out new kinds of comics has also been a boon for diversity in comics.
Just to get this out of the way before I dive right in, yes, sometimes crowdfunding goes wrong. The overwhelming majority of projects move along just fine, but there are exceptions. Don’t let reports of those discourage you from considering supporting projects you love that sound feasible. As crowdfunding has become a larger and larger phenomenon, different sites have been requiring projects to provide more information including timelines on when to expect progress on the project in question and risks the project will face. Don’t be discouraged, but don’t not read the fine print either.
I started using Kickstarter in 2012. The first comic project I donated to was Giant Robot Warrior Maintenance Crew. The premise was what if a Voltron type team had pilots that were total divas and the real heroes were their maintenance crew repairing the giant robot warriors during combat. It was a successfully funded and after a while I got my copies of the comic as part of my pledge. Sometime later, Giant Robot Warrior Maintenance Crew would be available through Diamond. Ideas like that would not have gotten much traction prior to crowdfunding, at least enough to print physical copies.
Not only has crowdfunding helped with the diversity of ideas in comics, but with representation on the page and off the page. One of the first projects on Kickstarter I backed like that was Liberator by Matt Miner and Javier Sanchez Aranda, a groundbreaking comic about fighting to end animal cruelty at a high cost. This four issue limited comic series has diversity on the page with both its protagonists and off the page with talent like Javier Sanchez Aranda bringing the story to life with his illustrations. Liberator also broke new ground in comics by having 30% of its profits go to animal rescue efforts, a rare find in comics.
Crowdfunding, particularly Kickstarter in this case, was a crucial part of how Liberator happened. Not only were they able to get the word out in advance of this comic’s release through social media, it helped to get a small publisher, Black Mask Studios, to publish Liberator, making it a flagship title for the fledgling publisher at the time and a cornerstone of its shared universe. Without crowdfunding, we could have been deprived of this original, positive, and powerful comic.
Sites like Kickstarter have been helping women in comics too, both up and comers and established. Smut Peddler is a successful, multi volume series of adult themed comics made largely by women (all stories written and/or drawn by women to get the female perspective), and for women (and the forward thinking gentleman). Books like this often have a difficult time finding a publisher and even a printer because of the content and a place like Kickstarter greatly helps in making a project like Smut Peddler a reality. I would absolutely love to address why often we see publishers and printers having less of a moral dilemma in picking up and publishing a story about hate and extreme violence than they do about a story of love and sex, but I’d hate to derail my own conversation and really that topic is worth dedicating a whole column to.
Queer focused comics have been seeing a new Renaissance with crowdfunding campaigns too. Comics like Beyond, a queer fantasy anthology, have not only been published through Kickstarter funds, but were so successful that a sequel to Beyond is currently in the works. Even Flame Con, NYC’s first LGBTQ focused comic convention, is in part a result of a successful crowdfunding campaign. That’s not to say that the only reason these things happen are because of crowdfunding, but it’s certainly a huge help.
The queer comic on Kickstarter I most recently backed is titled The Other Side. It’s a queer paranormal romance comic anthology. You read that correctly. No, honestly you did. I wouldn’t joke about something like that.
The Other Side is a wonderful example of how far crowdfunding can take us. I could never imagine any large or medium sized publisher taking on a project like this. Even the tiny publishers. It’s such an interesting and unique idea and exactly the kind of idea that the comics industry needs to have coming out to show that in fact not every single idea has been done before. And hey, it’s another chance to get a comic with Fyodor Pavlov’s art in it.
The Kickstarter for The Other Side has been up for a couple of weeks and at the time I’m writing this has already made it to over $20,000 from nearly 700 backers with a goal of $23,000. By the time this column goes up there will be two weeks left to pledge. I strongly urge anyone with an interest in queer comics and seeing them continue to succeed in 2016 or knows someone who does to please pledge if they can or at very least spread the word.