Tagged: Sailor Moon

Marc Alan Fishman: Danger – Driving While Plotting!

lucha-libre

I often receive puzzled looks when I tell folks that Unshaven Comics makes the trek from the southern burbs of Chicago to the New York Comic Con by car. I reassure them that if we could afford to ship an entire booth setup and merchandise to the Javits, convince ComicMix’s own Glenn Hauman to pick us up from La Guardia (a hell I wouldn’t wish on anyone, let alone our most gracious host), and then be beholden to said Haumans for most of our transportation needs, we would. But, rest assured, we’ve made the trip enough for me to admit I actually look forward to the nearly 14-hour jaunt across Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

In those middle-hours of driving, somewhere between lunch and arriving in New York, we found ourselves unpacking The Samurnauts as a concept. You ever want a first-class ride on the creative-process express? Buckle-up, Sally.

When we finally complete Curse of the Dreadnuts (which by my estimation will occur before it’s 2017), Unshaven Comics decided that the next course of action would be to test each of our mettles to be the best creators we could be – individually. With The Samurnauts, we afforded ourselves an immortal mentor. This allows us to spin off the series into a bevy of period pieces that allow Unshaven to explore literally every genre and art style that tickles our fancy. Cool, no?

Over the course of the car ride, we came to a few conclusions. Matt Wright will plot and draw the entirety of a Samurnaut tale set in a sleepy Mexican village in the 1920s. There, Luchanauts will save humanity from the threat of an inter-dimensional demon with the power of their lucha libre. Kyle Gnepper will pen (and art chores will be a still-undetermined new deputy Unshaven lad) a tale of an early Samurnaut team waging war against Repsimian – the monkey-dinosaur hybrid bent on destruction.

And me? Well… I’m headed for a completely different direction. One that requires a bit of an odd digression. Follow me. It’s worth it.

Every year for the past two years, I’ve lent my artistic hand to my friend Nina Rose and her “Speak To Me: A Pole Event for Autism” fundraiser show. The evening is a raucous blast where hobbyist and professional pole dancers perform marvelous numbers all to raise money and awareness for Autism. I provide the posters, programs, and last year… collectible trading cards. The theme was the 1980s. It was the excuse to let my inner Patrick Nagle freak flag fly. And while sitting in the front row during the performances would render most with a carnal reaction to whoop and holler? I was left slack-jawed. I saw comic book stars in waiting. The spark of an idea for The Samurnauts was born in between twirling loops on a ten-foot pole.

Smash cut back to my Dodge Caravan, midway through Ohio.

My 2017 Samurnauts project? Well, it’ll be an all-female team fighting a Communist-Mutant-Hive-Mind of femme fatales… all set in the 1980s. We make no bones about it: Samurnauts is homage to the tropes we grew up with, recast in a modern light. What better tropes to mine than those directly from our time growing up amidst Sailor Moon, Battle of the Planets, M.A.S.K., and Jem and the Holograms? There are none better, and I won’t listen to you if you try to disagree.

Matt rides shotgun with notebook in hand, and Kyle leans far forward from the middle row of our packed conveyance… I start the ball rolling. As often is the case, I am the most lofty of the Unshavens. I immediately blather about girl power and passing the Bechdel test. Matt – the gear-head of the gang – is immediately drawn to discuss costumes, weapons, and accentuating my clean-line style. Kyle, the stalwart left-brain, cracks the whip on setting up an outline.

Exits whiz past as we bounce ideas from one bearded ne’er-do-well to the next. “We need to have a roller derby fight scene.” “Al (the immortal monkey leader…) needs to have a dojo in need of saving.” “They should all pilot attack ships.” “The Commie-Chics needs to have a spy, a close combat expert, a ballistics expert, and the strategist.” “We absolutely need the bitch on wheels business chick…” And so on.

By the time we needed to gas up the van, a scrawl of pages lay on the Caravan floor. A complete outline spanning two 36-page issues lay amidst character notes, weapon choices, set pieces, and big reveal plot points. And underneath it all, a personal challenge to myself to stretch my boundaries as an artist and a writer. To keep my tongue in cheek with the obvious choices, in lieu of smarter ones. To keep my designs clean and memorable. To ensure that the Samurnauts of this story are heroes, regardless of their gender. That the final book be fun, clever, and full of monkey-fighting. And this time? With way more Hammer pants and day-glo makeup.

And with that, the pages were tossed into the cashbox. Energy drinks were popped open. New fresh sheets were exhumed from the notebook. With five hours left to go, we had plenty more to plan for the future.

Joe Corallo: “It’s Only A Sailor Moon…”

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Recently I’ve been reading through the Sailor Moon manga that my friend David has generously been lending me. I used to watch the anime when I was kid and had been curious about tackling these books for a while. Reading through these books made me reflect on the greater world of comics and an aspect of it that I haven’t addressed here yet: branching out beyond American comics.

I love American/Western comics. It’s certainly the bulk of what I’ve read. Not just the superhero stuff, but comics and graphic novels like Stuck Rubber Baby, Fun Home, March, Blankets, The Sculptor, and many many more. Many of the comics I go out of my way to read are either from women, LGBTQ, or minority creators or they at least tell a unique story from a perspective that makes it stand out. However, I have a big gap in my knowledge and familiarity with materials outside of Western comics.

Over the years I’ve made it a point to try and read comics and graphic novels that have really made an impact on the medium and influenced creators for decades to come. In my preteen years that involved Archie Comics. In my high school and college years I tackled the works of Alan Moore, Frank Miller, and Neil Gaiman. Since then I’ve gone back and read comics predating the Golden Age of comics like Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo strips through to classics like Maus, A Contract With God, and It Rhymes With Lust.

While some of these stories did tackle things outside of my life such as the Jewish experience, I was finding that I wasn’t reading a lot of stories from women, queer, or minority creators. It would take effort on my part to look for those stories. I’ve made myself more aware of comics with more diverse people working behind the pages, and for a little while I thought that might be enough. It’s not.

Diversity in comics isn’t just in the characters on the page and the talent behind the pages. It’s also where the pages come from. Manga is a huge portion of comics’ sales across the globe. One Piece alone has 82 volumes and has sold over 300 million copies. Dragon Ball and Naruto have both sold over 200 million each. Astro Boy has sold 100 million copies. Sailor Moon, which I’m currently working my way through, has sold 35 million copies. All these sales from comics originating in Japan.

uojlg8dsdr0 Art of Charlie ChanThese are huge numbers. This is a portion of the comics world that should not be overlooked by fans of the medium, but it’s something I put off for too long. Sure, I’ve read the occasional manga here and there. If you haven’t read Akira, stop reading this column and go read it right now. That’s still a pathetically small amount of reading in such a large segment of the comics world.

Other countries have big and growing comics markets as well. Singapore based artist Sonny Liew had his graphic novel The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye premiere here in the states earlier this year. I was lucky enough to meet him when he was in town for MoCCA Fest and get a signed copy. It was an absolutely fantastic read blending in the unique history of comics in Singapore with Sonny Liew’s creative narrative supported by his brilliant art which I fell in love with last year as I started reading his work on Doctor Fate at DC Comics written by Paul Levitz.

graphic-india-1-600x338-5246888Another big and growing market for comics is India. Graphic India has been gaining more visibility here in the states as you’re seeing more of their comics on the shelves. They even got talent like Grant Morrison to write for them so more of us will give it a try.

After I finish Sailor Moon I fully intend to start reading comics from Graphic India. I’m going to put more effort into reading comics from outside America and the Western world. There are a whole lot of stories and ideas I’ve been missing out on by not branching out sooner.

Don’t make the same mistake I did.