Monday, December 31, 2007

Heavee Underground Update

The newest addition to the Cream City Comics library, Heavee Underground, is awaiting the greenlight for print run.

This book has gone through a lot to finally see the light of day. It's been written and rewritten, it's gone through dialogue, redrawing and art edits. What I am releasing is abbreviated down to a 60 page story and 20 pages of extras, such as; preliminary sketches, a black & white mini-version of the cover image, pin-ups and a special 'remix' section.

I ordered a preview copy last night and, as soon as I'm happy with what I see, you'll be able to purchase your own copy from Lulu.com. If I have my initial order in-hand for the M&F2 release party [in Minneapolis] you'll be able to purchase it from me directly and save on shipping costs.

Oh! And come back soon. Early 2008 will see interviews with Bob Lipski, Justin Cermak and [Muscles & Fights co-creator] Bud Burgy, to name a few.

Be safe tonight, but not so safe you don't have fun.

Happy New Year!

-AR

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Cream City Conversations with Zita

I'm back again. And, as promised, I've got something a little different this time around.

Over the past 5 years or so, there has been a lot of line blurring between comics, graphic design and animation. Hell... we've even seen prose novelist, television writers and film scripters try their hand at funnybooks and it's worked the other way around as well.

I thought it might be a good idea to include someone from one of these loosely related mediums in my interviews. Lucky, for me, I happen to know some people in advertising/graphic design AND one of them happens to be a woman. So we'll be completing this trilogy of female artists with the inclusion of a graphic designer.

Zita is a very talented designer with a heavy, realist point-of-view. Not much, if any, pretension can be found in her words. In the short time I've known her, I've found her to be nothing if not as humble as she is keen on graphics... and England.

I could go on-and-on but she'd just insist I get on with it so I will...

CCC: For those not in the know, your name and location?

Zita, from Budapest, the far far away land of Hungary


CCC: Describe the art 'scene' in your area?

As my college art teacher said, "we're in the 19th century". For further info, maybe check out the book titled Graphicum. It's a collective book of Hungarian typography and graphic design. It describes the scene like nothing else. It's a huge book, with very tiny letters. It's entirely black... tries to look stylish in a fashionable snobbish way. Its first 12 pages are about the whine of the hardness of this business... the pride and the career of the jury who collected those works.


I think it's a devastating book... exactly like the scene. VIP designers, inner circles of people, wine bottles, serif typefaces, black and dark reds everywhere, tiny white letters on huge black background. That's all really.

CCC: What do you think is lacking in your immediate 'scene'?

Freedom, haha. I mean, mental freedom. Sense of humour please. Where has the famous Hungarian wit disappeared? Colours please. Things are taken way too seriously here. It's exhausting. I'm seeking for a new wave of Dadaism... this is what the scene needs here, haha. I want courageous, provoking people here. W-w-wake up, sh-sh-sh sh-shake up! Hehe.

CCC: For the record, you are not a comics creator. But... you are an artist walking the line between underground and mainstream. Can you explain your career path for the readers?

I have absolutely no idea. Sorry, but I can't answer this question. I don't place myself between underground and mainstream... I don't even know what you mean by that. I'm not too fussed about belonging to any scene. See, I want to move to Britain. Their culture and way of thinking is just simply what I think mine is. I don't aim [for] any certain scene to belong to. I just want to move there. Whatever scene I'll find my right place in, it will be good for me... it will turn out later, anyway. Afterall, I'll be known for my works only. So I might end up as a cleaning lady haha!


*Note: You're eyes are not blurry, kind reader. Nor are your eyes deceiving you. Zita is truly this humble... all the time.

CCC: What led you to pursue a career in the arts?

Well, I'm just awful at anything else haha!


Well the truth is that my brain just can't concentrate on anything... I always make up something else instead. I love playing. I love playing with everything, actually. I love maths, 'cause maths is all about playing and I'm studying to be a designer engineer which gives me the absolute possibility to play with everything, really.

CCC: What is it about design, in particular, which attracts you?

It's all about communication I guess. Not of your own thoughts, I mean, design helps people communicating with each other. It's just a channel and you can shape it.


CCC: What are your immediate and ultimate goals in design?

My immediate aim is, of course, to find my own happiness by doing it. I'm on quite a good way to it actually, haha. As for further purposes... No idea. I just want to make things more understandable. I want to add my bit to this huge global communication buzz, 'cause I believe, if we start reading/listening/looking at each other's opinion, that's already halfway to success (Just to tell some wise-sounding cliche as well, haha).

CCC: Do you have a personal philosophy which informs your work? Is this something you intend your audience to notice?

Erm, my personal philosophy? I want my design to be a helping hand for the brains. As I pointed out earlier, I just want to help communicate. I don't want to spread my own words. That's what the authors should do, it's not my job. And thinking is hard, anyway, haha.


I think, a designer's job is to make the words reach the intended audience. It's not my audience. I don't want them to notice 'my philosophy'. It would be wrong.

You don't know who designed the label on the bottle of water you're drinking right now? Do you? I want the audience to like the things they got. I want them to love the touch of the things they are wearing and the sight of the words they are reading. If they understood those words, then I'll know I've done a successful job. (On that note: I'd like to add that it's a two sided business, though).

In Hungary, most procurers forget their own roles and want the designers to just do things they'd already imagined. A designed work communicates to the audience, though, and not to the procurer. It doesn't have to fit the procurer's taste. It has to tell things about them. So, I believe, that the key thing is to trust each other's abilities.

CCC: Share some of your influences, include links if you have them.

James Goggin, Sara Fanelli, Taxi studio, Bark... and so on! All the leading, young British graphic designers.
http://www.barkdesign.net/
http://www.sarafanelli.com/
http://www.taxistudio.co.uk/
http://www.practise.co.uk/

CCC: What is it about these creators you find most inspiring?

Their wit. It's something the Brits are the best at... something the Brits do best. And their amazing ability to create an atmosphere. Any work of them has got an entire atmosphere... very well created to the details.


CCC: Are there particular agencies you'd like most to "lure" with your designs?

Haha yeah. Plenty! From the scene mentioned above. Like, Form, Stylorouge, A2, Draught Associates, Iris, Form, Hort, etc, etc. And, like, 15 hard working years later I might achieve it. Haha.

CCC: In the comics industry there are several creators also working in graphic design... Brian Wood immediately springs to mind. Have you noticed any links between the two mediums?

Well, yeah, both are printed on paper and have typefaces and things. Haha. Seriously? Well... yeah, as I said earlier, design is a hand for the brains. Some hands have got some brains so the graphic designers who have got their own thing to tell just put it in a brilliant comic book. Or backwards, some brains have the skills to draw. Someone who's got some original thought might have the skills to put it into their right visual shape. Either way, it works... very well.

CCC: Do you belong to any online or 'real world' art communities? If so, what are they? Include links, if you have them.

Eeh, just several projects. I wouldn't call it a community 'cause we've got 2 members, me and a friend... in most of them, haha.

They are all about science by the way. We are trying to make actually pointless facts interesting. It's all about pointing out that you can't know enough about the world around you so shut up and discover it before you start forming your opinion on it. Sounds a bit harsh but it's all put with the most amount of irony and sense of humour into it. We are doing it on posters and now in a magazine too. It's called Plant. It's available in pdf only.

CCC: Can you name some designers you feel are shaping the future of the industry?

ME. Haha, joking. But it's hard to guess. All the examples I could say, are already shaping it currently. [The] Future depends on so many things. It's so hard to guess who's going to shape it.

CCC: Do you have any parting advice or final words you'd like to share?

Yeah. Always check the expiry date of the milk, guys. Have a look at those typefaces, someone designed them as well. Thank you very much.


CCC: You can see more of Zita's amazing design work at:

http://zockney.deviantart.com/ or http://www.warmtoastcafe.com/art/zockney

Thanks, Zita!

-AR

That rounds-up the female editions of my interviews... for now. I intend to post as many interviews with women creators as I can. It's a completely different voice... and reading/listening to a bunch of guys and opinions you've already formed yourself is fine. But I dig variety.

Call it graphic design, graphic art, graphic novels... call it what you like. Communication is the keyword and common ground. Whether the communication is happening through books, advertisements or blogs is not what's important... the important thing is communication IS happening. Revisit all these interviews, figure out what's being communicated, pass that information on and come back for the next round of posts.


Peace

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Cream City Conversations with Leith St. John

Hello.

I hope you've had enough time to digest Jennifer's interview 'cos there is a new player at bat. I met this next comics creator about two years ago through a mutual friend. I was pleasantly surprised to learn she had an appetite for comics and had even created some of her own. When the opportunity presented itself to publish some of her work - through the anthology Bud Burgy and I created - I jumped at the chance. I've been keen on female illustrator/writers for years... and now... I had the chance to put my money into promoting one.

Well, if you've picked up the first two volumes of Muscles & Fights, you already know this next lady of funnybooks has a very singular artistic voice. I'm sure some asylum somewhere misses her very much (consider yourselves warned).

So...

CCC: For those who don't know, Name and location?

Leith St. John, otherwise known by friends and co-workers as "Lethal." And a current resident of beautiful Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

CCC: How did you become interested in creating comics?

Do you mean other than the time when I was 5 years old and my mom, thinking she had a child prodigy on her hands, sent in my crayon-colored super-hero drawings to Marvel? The lady had big dreams, I tell ya... I don't think it really struck me that the possibility of doing something on my own existed until, while attending school in Chicago, I came across an issue of "Love & Rockets" [for the first time].

By that time, I was feeling pretty burned out and disinterested in the entire super-hero genre and suddenly here was this whole new world of indy comics waiting to be discovered. That led to some initial attempts at doing autobiographical pieces that brought me to Gary Groth's attention and a subsequent internship at Fantagraphics in Seattle. Then, my own self-published title for a bit. But I had pretty much laid that dream to rest until that fateful night two summers ago when we met and hung out. You pretty much refueled my inspiration and getting involved with the "Muscles & Fights" anthologies has carried it from there.

CCC: What was your first published work? Did you self-publish that work?

I did a series called "The Furies" – put together via a rented copymachine and Kinkos. The main cast featured Lamb of God, a na├»ve Tennessean who could perform any miracle found in the New Testament (and precursor to Mary Margaret Marvel); Venus, a trophy wife who gained super-powers in order to achieve celebrity status; and O.W.A.C., the former WWII One Woman Army Corp and now retired angry lesbian trainer. Other characters included African American Eagle, Black American Eagle, Afro-American Eagle, Negro American Eagle and the Venereal Wart.

*Note: I told you so.

CCC: If you self-publish, what do you gain from that experience?

A rue awakening. Actually, the entire thing was an uphill learning experience – especially since I had subscribers and so despite whatever was going on in my personal life, I couldn't easily brush off deadlines. A lot of the stories would wind up to be depicted via stick figure drawings.

CCC: If you've been published by other publishers, compare the experience to self-publishing.

Working on the "Muscles & Fights" anthologies has been really swell because I only have to concentrate on getting my stories completed and email in the scanned files. Then, I sit back and wait for it to come out... so much less hassle than having to try and put together an entire project from beginning to end all on my own.

CCC: Give us a list of your published works (self-published or otherwise)?

*The Furies

*Muscles & Fights: Volume I, Muscles & Fights: Volume II, I'm currently working on a piece for the final M&F book

*and also a story about a teen-aged boy who suffers from Body Integrity IdentityDisorder attempting to amputate his leg. That one I'll have to put out on my lonesome, I'm sure.

CCC: Describe the art scene where you live. If you've lived elsewhere and were producing art there, compare those scenes.

There's an art scene in Milwaukee? I'm too much of an 'after work recluse' for my own good.

CCC: Do you belong to any online or 'real world' art groups? If so, list them and describe how that/those group/s benefit you.

Does talking to you, Bud Burgy or Alberto (Ponbiki) Rios count as group involvement? Of course, I like to drop by and harass Matt Chicorel (Night Light Comics) once a week or so as well. Which reminds me, how come I never get invited to a Drink & Draw? You're all a bunch of misogynists!

*Note: Not true... I didn't even know there was a Drink & Draw in Milwaukee. I'm sad, now. This means someone has been holding out on me.

CCC: What is your ultimate or immediate goal in creating comics?

My immediate goal is to have a creative outlet at hand. Which some might think a bit odd considering that I'm a writer at an agency for a living. But commercial creativity isn't... well... very creative. And making comics allows me to sit down and really let my juices flow. (Double entendre there? You be the judge...)

My ultimate goal? That would be to actually do this sort of self-expression and make a living at it. Maybe that's more of a dream-goal than an ultimate one...

CCC: What do you think is lacking from the underground art scene? If you had the power, what would you do to address that void?

Lots of hot, single men at conventions would be a good start... What I find most disappointing personally is just the lack of...exposure? The market seems totally saturated with these wretched formula-riddled comics that are ultimately published and controlled by giant multi-media corporations in order to drive further sales via their other owned marketing channels such as movies or games.

Having worked in the advertising industry for nearly 10 years, I can only imagine all the many 'big wigs' that touch upon every project... driving the content and decisions and how frustrating that is for the artists, writers and other folks that actually do the work. But those are the books that get the attention and publicity.

When you're looking for a new indy series to add to your reading list, you really kinda have to dig around and make a conscious effort to find it.

CCC: Do you blog? MySpace? ComicSpace? If so, what kinds of things do you communicate through it and what is your ultimate goal in using that site?

I've considered re-activating a blog again and pushing my work there, but every time I start down that path. It just seems to take up a ton of time and I wind up attracting psychos. Maybe I shouldn't splatter my nude shots all over it, though...

*Note: I warned you quite a few paragraphs ago. Don't blame me.

CCC: Do you read any other creators' blogs? If so, what do you think of them?

I check out Matt's from time to time, mainly in order to sniff out some dirt to tease him about at a later date. And, of course, there's Bud's site (www.musclesandfights.com). But, admittedly, I'm usually just seeing if a reviewer has something to say about me. It's all about me, ya know.

CCC: What kinds of books do you enjoy reading?

Banana Yoshimoto is a favorite author. And, dare I admit this, I'm also a Storm Constantine fan. I've been trying to plow my way through an A.S. Byatt novel lately, but she's just too damn smart for me. I have to keep a dictionary and notepad nearby while reading her stuff.

CCC: What kinds of standards and/or expectations do you place on a comics purchase?

These days I just hope I'm not going to finish reading the damn thing and bitch for an hour that I actually spent money on it. And comics are getting way too expensive to just be throw-aways.

CCC: What is your favorite indie publisher?

Fantagraphics is still at the top of my list. Lately, thanks primarily to the "Wet Moon" series by Ross Campbell, I've been spending time on the Oni Press website.

CCC: What is it about that publisher you find unique?

I like that Fantagraphics offers titles from foreign creators that I probably would never come across otherwise. That's how I discovered Gabriella Giandelli and Gipi.

CCC: Who is your favorite creator/writer/illustrator?

The Hernandez Brothers. Jaime's drawings just totally blow me away, but I find Gilbert's stories to be more compelling. It was a sad day when I found out that they're only going to publish "Love & Rockets" on an annual basis going forward.

I used to be a big Grant Morrison fan, but have been feeling a little on the fence towards him lately. I think he's bought into his own hype and that's really starting to come through in his recent work.

CCC: Give us a short list of indie creators you believe are sort of shaping the future of comics (indie and/or mainstream)?

Hmmmm... That's interesting because I'm not so sure it's actual creators that are shaping the future but, rather, the manner in which the material is delivered. Graphic novels and collections really seem to be attracting a new audience via major booksellers like Barnes & Noble. That's the primary reason why Fantagraphics chose to go with the once-a-year publishing plan for "Love & Rockets." Since they've serialized the series in those small collections, sales have really taken off.

And I have friends who insist that they don't read 'comics,' yet, they buy and collect 'graphic novels.' It's all in the marketing, I suppose.

I'm also intrigued by the new growth of young female readers who have honed in on the genre because of manga. I'm anxious to see how that plays out as they get older.

CCC: If you could change one thing about the modern comics 'industry'what would it be?

No more super-heroes. Anyone who wanted to read a super-hero book would be relegated to searching through the dollar bins.

CCC: Give a shout out to any site and/or underground comic you thinkpeople ought to be checking into.

www.nightlightcomics.com
www.musclesandfights.com
xericfoundation.org
www.fantagraphics.com

Thanks, Leith... erm... Lethal!

-AR

Wow! Lots of great info from Jenn and Leith... believe me... there's more to come. Next up, I've decided to take a slight departure from what you've been reading so far. There's another side to this independent art scene I feel we can only benefit from aligning ourselves with. You'll have to come back to find out what all that 'nothing' actually meant.


Peace

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Cream City Conversations with Jennifer Young

Hello.

I'm gonna start this introduction with two lyric quotes...

"... this is a man's world but it wouldn't be nothing... not one little thing... without a woman or a girl..."

"... the men all pause..."

Why these two lyrical quotes and who are the artists? I'll answer the first bit of that question first. 1) if you don't know the artists without me telling you, you should. And 2) 'Cos the next two interviews I post will be with female comics creators.

With that outta the way, let me just inform you, Jennifer Young truly does make the men all pause when she walks into a room. I'm not sure it's only due to her looks (which are admittedly good) but it's probably more about her vibe. Jennifer's cool... she's collected... she's an artist with vision... those things come across at a moments glance.

I've been a fan for a few years. Jennifer's illustrated diaries read as funny, informed and thought-provoking as any I've read from Kochalka and Thompson. And her's is a new voice in ways which matter... approach and execution.

It's a pleasure to include Miss Young in this series of interviews. So... here we go.

CCC: For those who don't know, Name and location?


Jennifer "Jenny Bunns" Young, Atlanta, GA.

CCC: How did you become interested in creating comics?

My big brother got me into comics when we were kids. I've always liked to draw and write, and I found that I could combine the two loves into one using this medium! Ever since, I was hooked and have been making my own silly little comics since I was 9-10 years old.

CCC: What was your first published work? Did you self-publish that work?

I was involved in a self-publishing collective with two other artists called Cute Girl Demographics. Shortly thereafter, I went off on my own and have been publishing most of my own work through
Lulu.com or my own printing resources.

CCC: If you self-publish, what do you gain from that experience?

I've learned, through trial and error, how the whole process goes from pencil and paper to folding and stapling/and or editing proof copies. I like to self-publish, at least for now, because I have full control over what's going on... how my books look, who's buying, etc. The most challenging part is self-marketing! It's fun because you have to use a whole different part of your creative side to figure out the tipping point of your books sales/recognition. It's a constant (educated) guessing game and it's interesting to hear feedback from fans and potential readers.

I hope to be published by a publisher soon, with my graphic novels, but I think I might stick with self-publishing with my Diary of an Apprentice books (a comic strip diary of my life as a female tattoo artist in the South). But with my tattoo career, freelance work, and teaching piano... I just don't have the time to DIY anymore.

CCC: Give us a list of your published works (self-published or otherwise)?

*Diary of an Apprentice - There are 6 volumes out so far, the 7th is coming out in a couple of months.

*Not My Small Diary 13 - produced by Delaine Derry Green

*Wide Awake Anthology 666 - a horror anthology by Wide Awake Press

I had some works published under *Cute Girl Demographics, but they're being reworked and republished elsewhere. Still in progress!

CCC: Describe the art scene where you live. If you've lived elsewhere and were producing art there, compare those scenes.

There are a lot of small, independent galleries and art collectives in Atlanta. A lot of urban and alternative art is found here as well as a tattoo scene full of talented artists. However, like the city, there is a lot of sprawl. There are a lot of small groups of artists doing their own thing, but it seems spread out. Perhaps it's because of how the city is laid out... or perhaps this is my own skewed view of the scene - geez, I work too much!

I'm originally from Rochester, Minnesota so I still visit and come to the Twin Cities once a year for the FallCon. From my visits, I've noticed that there's a bigger appreciation for sequential art, especially the independent scene. If I lived back up there, I'd probably get hooked up with some awesome printers! I love my visits to the Cities - it puts a different perspective on the indie world as I know it.

CCC: Do you belong to any online or 'real world' art groups? If so, list them and describe how that/those group/s benefit you.

I'm not in any online or "real world" art groups, not really, anyway. I rely on my work (
http://www.skinwerks.com/) and personal work websites (http://www.theapprenticediaries.com/), my blogger site ( www.theapprenticediaries.blogspot.com), myspace, and facebook. I try to keep up with small galleries and other artists, mostly through myspace.

CCC: What is your ultimate or immediate goal in creating comics?

I use Diary of an Apprentice as my personal, public ventilation system. If something silly/funny/stupid/annoying happens, I write it down. If it's something funny that happened, I'll be happy to share it with my friends and fans. If it's something really annoying, I'd feel better about venting about it, because it's turned into something funny. I don't know what I'd do without it, frankly. I want to continue printing them for as long as I can, just a personal desire, I suppose, to record my life and share them with friends, fans, and future generations of my family.

With graphic novels... what is the goal of any writer/artist/creator? To put it out there and to hope people will read them and appreciate the blood, sweat, and tears you put into the work. I suppose that's all I can ask for.

CCC: What do you think is lacking from the underground art scene? If you had the power, what would you do to address that void?

It's a catch-22. The underground scene is underground, because it lacks enough audience/marketing/distribution to become mainstream, yet, the very struggle of the underground scene is to reach that audience.

The essence of the underground art scene is not the goal of reaching that audience but, instead, it is the process. I often hear indie artists complain about how hard it is to be a part of the scene and how they contemplate whether it's worth putting forth the effort... but I think that struggle is the very spirit of the scene and it's something that's fundamentally important to recognize.

CCC: Do you blog? MySpace? ComicSpace? If so, what kinds of things do you communicate through it and what is your ultimate goal in using that site?

I post my almost daily comic strip diary on my blog, myspace, and facebook (my blog is where I mainly post - it includes more fun stuff, like articles, pictures, etc. - as I only sporatically post blogs on myspace and facebook). When I use up a book that's when I publish it and set it to print.

CCC: Do you read any other creators' blogs? If so, what do you think of them?

Yes! I have a links page on my blog site with the blogs that I subscribe to. I also subscribe to other artists' myspace blogs. I love going through blogs. I think it's become that much easier to keep up with other artists - not only with their finished work, but (if they're willing to post it) their processes which I find most interesting. Everyone wants to get an inside look on interesting people's lives and people are beginning to share it with others.

CCC: What kinds of books do you enjoy reading?

Aside from graphic novels, I like reading plain, old fashioned all-word books too. I like books with great a storytelling voice like the works of (but not limited) Neil Gaiman, twisted postmodernist reality narrative such as Brett Easton Ellis. I also like non-fiction works that have to do with biology, pyschology or linguistics. Unfortunately, I haven't had much time for leisure reading since I started my tattoo career so it's mostly come down to reading blogs!

With these advances in communication and networking, people are able to multi-task and take on more and more projects. Of course, because of this, there leaves less free-time for concrete reading materials. It's easier for people to read short, informative works - magazine-style, such as blogs and e-zines.

CCC: What kinds of standards and/or expectations do you place on a comics purchase?

If I go out and buy something at a book/comic/specialty store, it must be something I've already read that I can't live without having it in my collection. The last one I bought was Black Hole by Charles Burns. It was so good, though, that I ended up giving it to a tattoo artist who was doing some work on me, as a tip. I wanted to spread the word about this book to someone who might appreciate it, but doesn't necessarily have a strong comic book background.

I do most of my comics purchases, however, at conventions. I only have time to go to ones I actually participate in, mainly the FallCon in Minnesota. I trade some stuff, buy others, etc. My daily life revolves so much on electronic communication, it's refreshing to interact with the creator in person, at the time of purchase.

CCC: What is your favorite indie publisher?

I like Top Shelf Productions. They're good guys with good taste... and they're local (to me, anyway!).

CCC: What is it about that publisher you find unique?

I haven't had a chance to catch up with them in a few of years so things might've changed. But when I knew them they were a two-man team working, at first, from their own homes and eventually moved into a place of business. I just find it admirable that something that starts so small can become as successful as they are, but still undulate between the mainstream and the margin.

CCC: Who is your favorite creator/writer/illustrator?

I can't play favorites, but I know I'm expected to make a list. I'll forget a whole bunch of people, and some of these aren't even in the comic book industry but they've made an impact on me... Chris Ware, Craig Thompson, Elizabeth Chai Malpass, Charles Burns, the Hernandez Brothers, Neil Gaiman, Jeff Smith, Hiroaki Samura, Jamie Hewlitt, Brett Easton Ellis, Alphonse Mucha, Tamara de Lempicka, Colin Sone, Ian Charo, Jerrell Conner, Bruce Timm, Masami Taraoka...

CCC: Give us a short list of indie creators you believe are sort of shaping the future of comics (indie and/or mainstream)?

I'm sure there are a few out there, but the reader probably knows more about this than I do. I'm pretty in the dark about this secret society that I loiter in the fringes with, and in a way, I like it like that.

CCC: If you could change one thing about the modern comics 'industry' what would it be?

I think it'd be great to give more opportunities to lesser-known, but equally talented creators. Things like the Xeric Grant are a good step toward that direction, but there should also be more local support.

CCC: Give a shout out to any site and/or underground comic you think people ought to be checking into.

My links are on my blog site, check 'em out! :)

Thanks, Jenn!

-AR

And... there you go. The ladies are just as much in the mix as the men. And, it seems, with publishers like IDW, Top Shelf, First Second, Oni, AdHouse, Highwater, Dark Horse, SLG, Image, TokyoPop, Titus, D&Q, W.W. Norton, Fantagraphics, NBM, etc. it's going to continue AND increase. This is good for the underground and mainstream. Hell, in time, people not normally inclined to read comics will be less likely to read mainstream superhero books. They'll be informing the scene on what publishers indie creators should be taking their properties to. And, if we pay attention, we'll also learn what it is we can do/create to connect with and truly effect the lives of our readers.

The future looks bright... and less smelly.


Peace

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Cream City Conversations with Marcus Muller

Like Alberto Rios, Marcus Muller is a creator I have a long list of creative links to. I've watched Marcus grow from a very energetic pin-up artist to a phenom of a sequentials technician.

As if that intro were not enough, Marcus also has a penchant for sweets. If you've got a healthy supply of donuts and other confections, you've got a friend for life.

That is definitely the strangest intro I've written, thusfar. Once you've read through Marcus' interview... this will all make perfect sense.

CCC: For those who don't know, Name and location?

Marcus Muller. Harvard, IL


CCC: How did you become interested in creating comics?

As a kid I loved watching cartoons, that eventually led to a love of comics as some of the same things I liked so much about cartoons could be found in comics.


CCC: What was your first published work? Did you self-publish that work?

I think my first published work was actually that Curse of the Ronin short story that you ran in one of your Cream City Comics volumes. Which reminds me, one of these days I’m going to have to finish up that Curse graphic novel that’s been sitting in my portfolio.


CCC: If you self-publish, what do you gain from that experience? If you've been published by other publishers, compare the experience to self-publishing.

I haven’t self-published anything yet but will most likely do so in the near future. I think the thing about self-publishing is that it really allows you to micro manage every little thing about the process and without the worry of having some other publisher or editor change parts of your story. Also, I think the whole process is a lot more personal not just in the material that’s done but also with the distribution like getting to personally talk to fans at conventions or talking to owner’s of comic shops to get them to carry your comic.


CCC: Give us a list of your published works (self-published or otherwise)?

My list of published work includes the short Curse of the Ronin story in Cream City Comics, artwork in the Element X Atomic artbook, pencils on the Batman Legos comic book and ConEdison Kids Safety book for DC comics’ creative services department, and a short King of the Unknown story in Muscles & Fights Vol.2 and another one coming out in M&F Vol. 3. It’s a short list of work and a lot of it is definitely hard to find but I run a lot of the penciled artwork on my blog (www.marcusmuller.blogspot.com) for anyone interested in checking it out.


CCC: Describe the art scene where you live. If you've lived elsewhere and were producing art there, compare those scenes.

I hardly get out and I only really use the internet to check e-mail so I’m pretty much unaware of the art scene in the area where I live. Also, I live out in the middle of nowhere so I imagine there’s not much of one here.


CCC: Do you belong to any online or 'real world' art groups? If so, list them and describe how that/those group/s benefit you.

I work with Bernie Gonzalez under some Element X Studios projects. The benefit there is working with someone that has a lot of the same artistic influences and digs a lot of the same comics and stories as I do, which helps when working on a story because then you’re both on the same track and don’t have to keep going back and forth explaining stuff. Also, it helps a lot to have someone you can show artwork to and they actually know what they’re talking about and can give you some honest insightful feedback to help you improve.


CCC: What is your ultimate or immediate goal in creating comics?

I think my ultimate goal when creating comics is to just have fun working on them and make something that I’ll enjoy first and hopefully there’s people that will enjoy it also and be entertained.


CCC: What do you think is lacking from the underground art scene? If you had the power, what would you do to address that void?

You mentioned this on your blog before and I think you were dead on when you said it, in the underground art scene there really is this a growing lack of community lately. You’d think there would be more with the internet, but it almost seems like there is less than what there used to be. I’m not sure if it’s because of comics not having that audience that they used to or that whenever an indie artist starts getting recognition they’re usually scooped up right away by the big two, but it just doesn’t seem to be there like it used to.


CCC: Do you blog? MySpace? ComicSpace? If so, what kinds of things do you communicate through it and what is your ultimate goal in using that site?

I have a blog account which I use to post sketches and occasionally ramble on about pointless things. My ultimate goal of the blog is probably just to gain more exposure which is something I’m sorely lacking.


CCC: Do you read any other creators' blogs? If so, what do you think of them?

The blogs I usually read are animator’s blogs because that’s where a lot of my artistic influences come from and I try to see what kinds of tricks and tips I can pick up from them.


CCC: What kinds of books do you enjoy reading?

There’s probably no book in particular I enjoy reading, if something can entertain me I’ll read it. No real bias there, just make an entertaining comic.


CCC: What kinds of standards and/or expectations do you place on a comics purchase?

My expectations and standards I place on a comic I’m buying really depend on what I’m buying it for. If I’m picking it up because I’m a fan of the artist or like the art style, then I expect some really kick ass artwork. If I’m picking something up for the story, then I expect something that’s a great read and I can read it over and over again. Ideally I’d like something that has great artwork and I can read over and over again (like those Akira volumes or that giant Bone collection).


CCC: What is your favorite indie publisher?

My favorite indie publisher is probably Image comics, mostly because they have a nice varied line up of books while at the same time they carry that name recognition of the other two big comic publishers. It’s like the best of both worlds really.


CCC: Who is your favorite creator/writer/illustrator?

Choosing just one favorite artist/creator is difficult so instead I’ll give you a short list: Katsuhiro Otomo, Geoff Darrow, Jason Pearson, Mike Mignola, and lots of cartoons and animators.


CCC: Give us a short list of indie creators you believe are sort of shaping the future of comics (indie and/or mainstream)?

Some of the creators that I think are shaping the future of comics would have to be Bryan Lee O’ Malley because he really seems to be tapping into that new generation of comic readers that grew up in the 80’s and early 90’s on Nintendo and Sega games.


Also, I’d say Dan Hipp is another great artist shaping the future of comics, no reason in particular other than everything he’s done so far has kicked ass. Then there’s Gabriel Ba who even though he has only done a few projects that have not been associated with a big name character, each has gone on to garner the attention that a big name character would get. To me to do something like that is huge.

I’d say the entervoid site is doing a lot to shape the future of comics. It seems to be the breeding ground of a lot of talented up and coming comic creators, and anyone looking to see who the next superstar artist of tomorrow will be should probably be checking that site out.

CCC: If you could change one thing about the modern comics 'industry' what would it be?

If I could change one thing about the modern comics industry I would make it so there’s a 2 book limit to all superheroes (hell let’s make a 1 book limit.) I mean really, who reads eight different X-men titles a month? It’s time to trim the fat and give that shelf space to comics that need it.


CCC: Give a shout out to any site and/or underground comic you think people ought to be checking into.

I don’t go online that often but if I had to give a shout out to some sites and creators people should check out, I’d say check out the entervoid site like I mentioned previously, also check out the muscles and fights website if you like your anthologies tough and manly that take no lip. Then I’d also recommend looking up any creators or comics I mentioned in this Q&A, and lastly pleeaaase check out my blog, I could really use any extra exposure I can get… and if you could send me some cookies that would be awesome too.


Thanks for your time, Marcus!

-AR

Be sure to tune in soon, folks. The ladies of funnybooks are finally getting their time in the CCC limelight!! My next posting will not disappoint.

In the meantime, check out the links to your left. The interviewees sites are up there [provided they have one I'm aware of]. If you'd like to contribute links or be interviewed, contact me via
www.musclesandfights.com

And if I don't see you or post before then, Happy Holidays to you and yours.


Peace

Monday, December 17, 2007

Cream City Conversations with Danno

Hello, again, folks. I survived the snow and cold of the weekend and I'm back with another interview. I'm really happy to be posting this third interview 'cos it rounds-out the three Midwestern cities (Windy City, Cream City, Mill City) I've worked with most in my comics career.

Danno is more of a force of nature than he is a comics guy. He's one of the fastest guys you'll ever encounter on a story. You'd think with all this speed you lose something in the quality but nothing could be further from the truth. Danno is a great writer and a fine artist... and everything he does oozes with his love of the medium. Come to think of it, it's appropriate his interview follows Alberto's... as the same could and should be written/said about Mister Rios. One more thing worth mentioning about Danno... he's a co-founder of The International Cartoonist Conspiracy. If that bit of info doesn't put him in your 'cool book', you're too hip for me. Read a flavor of the month blog instead.

With that, here we go...

CCC: For those who don't know, name and location?


Oh geez... Okay the easy part is I live and work in Minneapolis. The difficulty comes with my name. Most know me as Danno, a nickname I've had for half my life, but I also go by dank! (at least in signature, it's kinda awkward to actually call me that). I use dank! since my first name is Dan and last is Klonowski. I was Danno because my last name USED to be Ochsendorf. I've had work published under Danno, dank!, Danno Klonowski, and Dan (no) Ochsendorf. And in almost EVERY SINGLE CASE where my last name was involved in a review or whatnot, it's been misspelled. This has made it nearly impossible to accurately google me.
CCC: How did you become interested in creating comics?

I was born at what I consider the "beginning" of the superhero era. The HULK and SUPERFRIENDS and BATMAN and SPIDERMAN were on TV. SUPERMAN and STAR WARS were in the theatres. (Nowadays, well... it's outta hand) I was a born geek, basically. As I got older I discovered comics (mostly toy tie-ins like GI JOE and newspaper strips) and was drawing my own comics... constantly. Around age 10, I discovered stores near my house that sold comics and it was pretty much all over then. I knew drawing comics is what I wanted to do with my life.

CCC: What was your first published work? Did you self-publish that work?

My first published stuff was zines my friends and I made. My first ACTUAL published stuff was when I went to St. Cloud State University for one year and was asked to be the staff cartoonist (one of the editors happened to notice all I did in class was doodle). I did a few illustrations they asked for, specifically, but mostly I did a strip called DANNO COMICS twice a week. It actually paid too! A whole ten dollars a cartoon. Sadly, it's the most I've ever made of cartooning. I started self-publishing mini-comics after that in 2000.

CCC: If you self-publish, what do you gain from that experience?

Debt, frustration and a big ass box full of old mini-comics I've done that no one will ever buy. I hang on to them because the day is not too far off that it'll be too expensive to heat my house with gas during the winter, so I'll just burn'em all to keep me and my family warm.

CCC: If you've been published by other publishers, compare the experience to self-publishing.

With the exception of the college newspaper, the publishers I've worked with have always seemed like DIY operations. I've even got something coming out in an anthology from Random House, but it's still all being organized by one mini-comic creator. I don't even think the days of Marvel Bullpens will ever return with all the technology people can have in their own homes. So, basically, it's pretty cool that every venture feels self-published. It makes me feel like I already know what I'm doing.

CCC: Give us a list of your published works (self-published or otherwise).

Seriously? Ok... you asked for it... 1994-1999, Wasted QuarterTales From The Five Burroughs Of Anoka County, Danno Comics (zine and ST CLOUD newpaper strip) 2000-PRESENT, Staplegenius(about 15 issues), Bogus Dead (my first real published work--it's awful), tons of Cartoonist Conspiracy jams (online and minis) 24 HOUR COMICS collection and box sets, Lutefisk Sushi A & B box sets, Brian Food (pin-up), Weird Illustrated, BzzZero, Uptown Girl (Special #3 and Presents #1), thebeanmen.com, soapythechicken.com, citypages.com, ericlappegard.com, Muscles and Fights, Alley Cat anthology, Musclier and Fightier, Manly Tales of Cowardice (issues 1-4 and 2 minis). 2008 (SO FAR) more Manly Tales, Muscliest and Fightiest, Super Fantastica #1, Tommy Chicago vs Manly Tales vs Uptown Girl Special, Lutefisk Sushi C box set, Julia Wertz's MISSED CONNECTIONS anthology, Tommy Chicago (volume 2) and some other stuff, I'm sure...

CCC: Describe the art scene where you live. If you've lived elsewhere and were producing art there, compare those scenes.

THRIVING!!! Especially in Northeast Minneapolis, where I live. There's either a bar, church, or art gallery on ever corner and nothing but houses and studio spaces inbetween. There's even a city-recognized "arts district" that it's irony or something, but I live HALF A BLOCK outside the Arts District. So often while I'm walking my dog I go to the end of the block and act "arty".

CCC: Do you belong to any online or 'real world' art groups? If so, list them and describe how that/those group/s benefit you.

Ummm...I belong to mnartists.org They're super for getting word out about gallery shows and such... I also belong to/co-founded the International Cartoonist Conspiracy.

CCC: What is your ultimate or immediate goal in creating comics?

Ultimately, I'd like to be able to make a living offdrawing comics. But the likelihood of that is so slim that I'd settle for making a decent supplimental income so that I dont feel like such a heel around my family cause I spend so much time in my basement studio after work.

CCC: What do you think is lacking from the underground art scene?

INTEREST! Well, people are interested but often not enough to actually spend money and help support the artists. Whenever I do gallery shows or whatever, I use a "minimum wage art" ethic - I price my stuff in a range where people can actually afford it, thus, encouraging them to actually purchase something. I know every artist wants to feel their stuff is worth thousands of dollars (and it is). But, frankly, anything over fifty bucks is likely to sit unsold for a very long time.

CCC: If you had the power, what would you do to address that void?

Print my own money. DANNO DOLLARS!

CCC: Do you blog? MySpace? ComicSpace? If so, what kinds of things do you communicate through it and what is your ultimate goal in using that site?

I use the "SPACE" sites to promote new work and friends' work. Secretly, I hope Rupert Murdoch will notice me and buy me in a hostile takeover. I will have a blog (staplegenius.com) running "eventually" and I'll post all the stuff I do on there as a way to help garner attention and [hopefully] make Oprah's Book Club List. And, then, Rupert Murdoch will buy me in a hostile takeover.

CCC: Do you read any other creators' blogs? If so, what do you think of them?

I read friends' blogs mostly. I don't have an enormous amount of time to goof around on the internet (in other words, I don't have internet at home and do all my computer stuff at work).

CCC: What kinds of books do you enjoy reading?

I think Kurt Vonnegut is the greatest writer ever. Gore Vidal also spins a good yarn. I just read Alan Weismans "THE WORLD WITHOUT US" which is science book with a "What If" premise that all human life was extinguished tomorrow. It explores how insanely BAD we've fucked up the planet and what the repercussions will be. I found it to be downright biblical and think everyone should read it.


Max Brooks "WORLD WAR Z" was a perfect zombie novel. Perhaps the definitive work on the subject. I also find audiobooks to be great to listen to while inking or painting.... Wait... you meant comics, didn't you? In that case, I get stuff at the library. Whatever is there that I've heard is good. I consider reading all those graphic novels "research".

CCC: What kinds of standards and/or expectations do you place on a comics purchase?

I buy comics so in frequently nowadays. I just can't afford to with a mortgage and a family and all that (See! I'm guilty of my own bitching about people not supporting the arts!). Like, I actually went and bought 5 comics recently and the total was over 20 bucks! It's insane. Like I said, I go to the library. But I am picking up the Joss Whedon Universe of comics off the shelf (BUFFY, ANGEL, SERENITY) cause I am mad for his work.

CCC: What is your favorite indie publisher?

Bob Lipski who does the mini-comic UPTOWN GIRL.

CCC: What is it about that publisher you find unique?

He's been doing a book MONTHLY for almost 5 years! Books from the big name companies can't even claim that kind of consistency anymore. PLUS, he does about 3 or 4 one-shots and stuff a year too.

CCC: Who is your favorite creator/writer/illustrator?

Speaking 100% locally: My favorite writer is BRIAN BASTIAN. He does TOMMY CHICAGO and UPTOWN GIRL and I think with is comedic sensabilities he's destined for great things. I feel honored I get to work with him on MANLY TALES, the upcoming crossover special, and the second series of his TOMMY CHICAGO book.


My favorite creators are all my sisters and brothers of the International Cartoonist Conspiracy. My favorite illustrators? That's tough. I'll tell you who my favorite illustrators are that really have kind of disappeared from the scene lately but are both AMAZING and think deserve wider recognition: SEAN TENHOFF (thebeanmen.com) and QUILLAN ROE.

CCC: Give us a short list of indie creators you believe are sort of shaping the future of comics (indie and/or mainstream)?

I, honestly, have no idea. I don't pay that close of attention. And with all the webcomics and stuff who even knows anymore? I can tell you who influenced me to get my ass moving making mini-comics: ALEX ROBINSON, PETE SICKMAN-GARNER, JOHN PORCELLINO, BRUCE TIMM, MIKE MIGNOLA, and JOHN BYRNE.

CCC: If you could change one thing about the modern comics 'industry' what would it be?

COST!!! It wasn't that long ago (well... 15 years...GEEZ!) that I was buying Superman comics for 75 cents. Last weekend I tried to buy 6 comics and it came to over 30 DOLLARS!!! Now, I'm no math expert but, considering that PAPER quality seems to be a MAJOR difference in the 75 centcomics of yore and the 4 dollar comics of today.


I see no reason not to go back to newsprint. Sure it ain't as pretty but what's gonna save the industry - Quality work that draws in new readers, or CHEAPRELIABLE 'same-old-same-old' that will bring in new readers AND get old geezers like me to start buying again (cause they can finally freaking afford to)??? It's no wonder people buy 20 dollar trade collections more than 4 dollar monthly comics nowadays. You actually GET YOUR MONEYS WORTH waiting a year for a trade.

CCC: Give a shout out to any site and/or underground comic you think people ought to be checking into.

Oh...
cartoonistsconspiracy.com
musclesandfights.com
bewilderedkid.com
ryandow.com
meatfistandgronk.com
... and then follow ever damn link they have!

Thanks, dank!


-AR

Peace

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cream City Conversations with Alberto Rios

As promised, I'm back with another interview.

Alberto 'Ponbiki' Rios is up this time around. I've known this artist for nearly a decade. We've worked together on several different levels. Years ago, we were co-members of two studios... One Milwaukee-based and the other Chicago-based. My reason for interviewing Alberto has little to do with our shared artistic paths, though. Alberto is being courted by major publishers and animators. in short, he's a creator you should know.

Editor's note - In my interview with GALVO, he mentioned being published by a Milwaukee-based studio I co-founded with two other Milwaukee creators. The books containing his works were volumes one and two of my own Cream City Comics. AR

And now...

CCC: For those who don't know, Name and location?


Alberto Rios a/k/a Ponbiki, Milwaukee WI

CCC: How did you become interested in creating comics?

Well... I was young and ill, at age 9 or 10, my mom introduced me to comics from the drugstore. It was a reprint of the Avenger when they found Captain America in the ice... from then on I was hooked.

CCC: What was your first published work? Did you self-publish that work?

Well, I did get published a few years ago by a studio in Milwaukee... which I'm not gonna mention due to a certain owner of the studio... hahahaha.
And, no, I did not self publish at first.

*Note: The last answer was edited down to the essentials.

CCC: If you self-publish, what do you gain from that experience?


Two years ago I self-published a book called Running On Empty. It was my first real solo venture into the world of comics. It's really tough to do the promoting and convention hopping by yourself... especially if you don't drive. You learn self respect and you feel like a real comic artist... also you can say you have a comic you can call your own.

CCC: If you've been published by other publishers, compare the experience to self-publishing.

Being published by others is nice too. All you really do is [produce] the art and story and turn it in... don't have to do so much work. Also, you get more exposure... well... sometimes. So far it has been nice for me so I can't complain.

CCC: Give us a list of your published works (self-published or otherwise).

Self-published... Running on Empty, Pulpo 1 and 3 by Void Studio, Muscles & Fights 1 and 2 by Bud Burgy/Cream City comics, Lo-Fi Punk as F***! and Zudacomics Web comic Ponbiki Z.

CCC: Describe the art scene where you live. If you've lived elsewhere and were producing art there, compare those scenes.

The art scene in Milwaukee is pretty ok. I don't do much art in the terms of , like, fine arts... even though I can. But I just don't have the time and space. I would really love to paint a few masterpieces.

CCC: Do you belong to any online or 'real world' art groups? If so, list them and describe how that/those group/s benefit you.

Yes. I belong to one of the coolest art groups in the world, EnterVoid. Let's just say that being with them is a real learning experience... if you want to draw comics. They run online art battles -- where you face off other artist in sequential art to see who would win. I can honestly say without them I would not have taken comics as seriously as I do now.

CCC: What is your ultimate or immediate goal in creating comics?

My ultimate goal is to become a known name. I don't want fancy cars and lots of money... well money... that could you know pay the rent and, maybe, have a nice dinner. But I don't want to let it get to my head. I really just want to enjoy drawing comics for life. And in creating a comic... well it's hard to create something groundbreaking. But I'll try no matter how many times I fail at it... you have to keep moving forward.

CCC: What do you think is lacking from the underground art scene? If you had the power, what would you do to address that void?

Well, I don't see much lacking from the underground scene except exposure. But, I guess, being underground and not being known is what it's all about. It's cool because it's underground... low key... but, then, if someone starts to get famous or whatnot everyone considers them a sellout. I don't understand this... hyprocrites. Everyone, at one time, started at the bottom and if you want to stay there good for you. But I like to evolve and become something better as bad as that sounds. I don't mean it as better than everyone out but in a manner of living.

CCC: Do you blog? MySpace? ComicSpace? If so, what kinds of things do you communicate through it and what is your ultimate goal in using that site?

Well, I just started working on my blog. I'm not sure what I'm gonna do with it.
here it is if you want to check in from time-to-time.
http://albertorios.blogspot.com/

CCC: Do you read any other creators' blogs? If so, what do you think of them?

Well, it's rare that I read anything on the net. I do read this blog but it's on occassion. I'm usually drawing and not on the computer. I think that blogs are ok.

CCC: What kinds of books do you enjoy reading?

Really... hmmm... I don't read much except for comics. I really need to read books to tell you the truth.

CCC: What kinds of standards and/or expectations do you place on a comics purchase?

First, I used to look for the art. Nowadays, I look for story... to tell you the truth... I look for both because I realized I hate looking at bad art with good stories.

CCC: What is your favorite indie publisher?

Hmm... me, you and bud... and EnterVoid... and, of course, LuLu.

CCC: Who is your favorite creator/writer/illustrator?

Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, Geoff Darrow, Otomo and Jack Kirby.

CCC: Give us a short list of indie creators you believe are sort of shaping the future of comics (indie and/or mainstream)?

To tell you the truth, I don't see that happening anymore... it's been done years ago. The only [new] thing I see happening that indie will become the next mainstream.

*Note: This answer calls to mind Nirvana breaking through from the underground into the mainstream (in the early '90s).

CCC: If you could change one thing about the modern comics 'industry' what would it be?


What I would change would be to give more of the little guys a chance to work on their book and give 'em some life... in writing and in art.

CCC: Give a shout out to any site and/or underground comic you think people ought to be checking into.

Yeah to my boys in entervoid.com to my homies... anywhere else, sorry, I don't know links by memory but you can find their stuff through mine at ponbiki.respark.net.

CCC: Thanks for your time, Alberto!

No. Thank you. Later

And that wraps up interview two. Keep checking in every few days, folks. I'll do my best to keep the new interviews coming your way... info-superhighway style.

-AR


Peace

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Cream City Conversations with Gabriel Bautista

In an effort to keep this blogspot from becoming just another place for a person with fingers and a keyboard to rant, I've decided to use the blogspot as a place to promote other creators while I'm promoting my own works.

Why bother?

Do you ever use Google search?

Do you ever use that search engine to find new comics/creators?

Well, this blog will come up when searching the web for comics and the name of the creators I'm promoting through online interviews.

What I probably won't be doing, here, is posting images. I don't feel it's my place to get involved in online galleries and such. I'm just creating a new 'bookmark' for the work of artists you may not know or have heard little about.

With all that being covered, let's get down to business.

First up is the infamous Gabriel Bautista, co-creator of the online battle site and virtual art school ENTER VOID. Galvo, he's also known as, has been punching in countless hours to provide internet savvy artists with a place to hone their skills. He's also contributed his art skills to several independent/self-published and small press publications. In many respects, he's a growing blip on the force'o'nature radar mainstream comics often monitor for up-and-comers. AND he embodies the kind of creator the underground community so desperately needs.

CCC: For those who don't know, Name and location?


Gabriel Bautista Jr, or GALVO to those who know me artistically via the interweb. My location, the burbs of Chi-town. We are the true wind walkers.

CCC: How did you become interested in creating comics?

Typical Marvel and DC upbringing ya know? What really got me started on those monthlies was that 2099 series that Marvel put out ages ago, I was about 13 or so and I was just FLOORED with how they redesigned Spider-Man, and the fact that he was totally Mexican and from what I remember the first issue involved a lot of talks of Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). I was totally into the whole Marvel game before that, but really... Spidey 2099 was what really got me into drawing comix.

CCC: What was your first published work? Did you self-publish that work?

First published work was through a lil studio out of Wisconsin, STARCROSS STUDIOS. I had a lil 8 pg story in the anthology [Cream City Comics] they put out (it's crazy to think you used to run it Amado! hahaha!) I was really proud of the entry though, it was the most work I had ever put into a comic.

*Note: Star Cross Studio is still around and publishing comics, sans Arex... and Jerod Luening.

CCC: If you self-publish, what do you gain from that experience?


I think self-publishing should be a must for everyone who wants to be a comix king, not only 'cause it shows you how much work goes into it, but it also gives you a real taste of FREEDOM. Real publishers can be nitpicky as hell when it comes down to the most trivial things, as I've seen and experienced personally... and sometimes that kind of kills the dream. On top of that, you get to understand how the whole process of printing your own book. Helps you when you're getting into it with the big boys.

CCC: If you've been published by other publishers, compare the experience to self-publishing.

I'm on the verge of getting published, so right now I'm in the final stages of mainstream publishing and, lemme tell you... it can be a bit nerve-wrecking. From what I've seen among friends, for the most part, editors are really cool cats and they usually bring out the best in your work. But sometimes that means you have to 'X' something you really like or do things that you wouldn't quite agree with or even like.


The nice thing about self-publishing is that you don't really have anyone to breathe down your back, but that can be a bad thing too. Sometimes we as artists don't catch mistakes and/or opportunities that you can take advantage of in your work when self-publishing. So, I think it's always a plus to have SOMEONE around to review your work.

CCC: Give us a list of your published works (self-published or otherwise)?

Most of my published material has been in PULPO PRESS anthologies. I've colored every cover, and had a story in each one. Aside from that, I've published my own works as mini comics every year during con season. Most of which can be found at
http://www.pulpopress.com/

CCC: Describe the art scene where you live. If you've lived elsewhere and were producing art there, compare those scenes.

DEAD. I live in one of the many suburbs of the Chicago land area and even though I attend the Art institute out in this area, there isn't much of an art scene out here. I think sometimes it's not so much the LACK of scene, but the lack of INSPIRATION or even WORK ETHIC.


A lot of the cats at school don't do much but sit around and play the latest and greatest that their next generation gaming system has to offer. It's a bit depressing at times, simply because these cats are my competition of sorts in the future. And... while it's great to think that I won't have MUCH of a competition pool to get an alright job... it also means there isn't anyone around for me to be a rival to. If you ever find yourself a group of people that like to draw all the time, or go out and just draw till their fingers fall off... STICK WITH THEM. It's a gold mine, I tell yah.

CCC: Do you belong to any online or 'real world' art groups? If so, list them and describe how that/those group/s benefit you.

The only real art group I belong to is
entervoid.com. Its a comic battling website I developed many years ago, and now run with a brother from another mother, Senor Toast. The site is really the only thing I keep up with nowadays. It's a great place for people to expand their skill set in the ways of comix and it's free of charge. Why not take advantage of it, right?

It pushes you to become better, and it has [worked] for me for years. The site is full of comic artists that are now breakin' into the game as well, so it's good to have them around critiquing and supporting the younger generation with their growing.

CCC: What is your ultimate or immediate goal in creating comics?

My immediate goal is to put out a book through Oni or Top Shelf or anybody else who can feed me. But at the same time, doing so, I want to produce a book that will make people drop their jaws and shed many tears in joy and fear of how heartfelt of a story they have just read. I want people to remember my stories like they do when watching an award winning film. My ultimate goal in comics is to stay fresh... to be able to continue drawing comics and not dry up like so many others have in the past. I want to draw epic comix for life.

CCC: What do you think is lacking from the underground art scene? If you had the power, what would you do to address that void?

Pride. Pure and simple. The fact that self-publishing or getting published by some dude still living at home or in a studio apartment on the bad side of town, is a "bad thing" really irks me. It seems that sometimes cats just want to get published by the big boys to get the recognition and the green.


If you ask me, some of the best comics out there haven't come out of the big houses, and in fact, have come out of damp basements. If you take all the great stories that indie publishers have put [out] and pit them against the great stories that big publishers have put out, the big boys have nothing. And, sure, you can argue what a "great story" is for weeks, but we all know what a great story is... and we all know that hungry people often produce better work than those that are full.

So, in essence, we need more pride in the underground scene. Be proud of not being a poster boy or girl for the mainstream world. Breathe the sweat scent of underground love rich in what's REALLY hot.

CCC: Do you blog? MySpace? ComicSpace? If so, what kinds of things do you communicate through it and what is your ultimate goal in using that site?

I tell myself I will blog all the time, but it's about as constant as me flossing. I start doing it on a daily basis but then just stop for no damn reason. But, yes, I do blog >>
http://galvomode.blogspot.com/. Blogging is something amazing, lemme tell you. I love to read people's opinions on shit I don't really care about. It's fun to read... and sometimes I get to see some cool sketches I wouldn't otherwise ever get to see.

The myspace deal, (myspace.com/galvo) is just something that you HAVE to do. It's such a powerful networking tool. I'm suprised they don't charge for using it. I don't really peruse the site in search for hotties or the next great band, so I usually just wait for someone to add me and then I run through their top friends list. Comicspace I messed with for about a week and then got bored after tons'n'tons of below average studio type accounts kept adding me. I know this sounds cocky, but man... that gets annoying.

I want to fly as high as the birds I hang with, so why am I going to hang with the lil birds?

CCC: Do you read any other creators' blogs? If so, what do you think of them?

I don't really like to read. I like to look at pretty pictures, and I think that's why I like drawing comics and reading comics that dont have essays attached to several word bubbles on a pin-up every other page of a comic. So, no, I dont read other creators' blogs. The only person I keep up with [are] brothers in art, steve valdez (
http://project450.blogspot.com/ ), ELIO (http://elio.livejournal.com/) and Andre Szymanowicz ( http://astrobrain.blogspot.com/)I really like the whole blog idea, but I really don't get much time to read any. Like I said.. I just like looking at pretty pictures. I think a lot of that lies in the fact that I feel bad because I should be drawing instead of reading people's rants.

CCC: What kinds of books do you enjoy reading?

I'm really vain, so to begin with, I like reading things that look awesome. If the book has a fresh style to it, then I'll buy it. But for the most part I like reading anything in graphic novel format. I love the fact that you can just pick a book up and spend a good hour reading a book and be done with it, just like a movie. I'm not a fan of the "OH MAN WHAT'S GONNA HAPPEN NEXT MONTH? IM SO TORN!" way of comics.

CCC: What kinds of standards and/or expectations do you place on a comics purchase?

I'm starting to stray away from the first and foremost standard that I've held dear for so many years, which is quality of work. I've been reading a few books here and there that aren't so keen on artistic ability and I've realized that what they lack in art skill they make up for in an amazing story. I used to be the type that couldn't handle crap art and a good story. But now I'm starting to value the whole package. My only expectation from a book is that story will inspire me to write and draw my own comix.

CCC: What is your favorite indie publisher?

Hands down it has to be Oni. I don't really read many comix, but all together I've read more Oni books than any other publisher (I don't count the books I read when I was lil kid, or else Marvel would win fo'sho).

CCC: What is it about that publisher you find unique?

AH MAN, the TALENT they have is phenomenal! Not only do you get fresh styles, you get fantastic stories! What else could you look for? And not just fantastic stories... but NEW and FRESH stories.

CCC: Who is your favorite creator/writer/illustrator?

It's a big tie between Scott Morse, Moebius and Brandon Graham. Scott Morse for his ability to wield different types of mediums from watercolor to paint and back to ink. Moebius for his attention to detail and just off the wall ideas. And Brandon Graham for his overall amazing STYLE and just epic thought process. That dude comes up with the wackiest stuff. It's like he has his own lil world that he keeps feeding to us on Ritz crackers.

CCC: Give us a short list of indie creators you believe are sort of shaping the future of comics (indie and/or mainstream)?

James Stokoe (http://spikes.redcarp.com/) Brandon Graham (
http://royal-boiler.deviantart.com/) Marley Zarcone ( http://marley.respark.net/) Sheldon Vella (http://1984custom.respark.net) Corey Lewis (http://reyyy.com/) Elio (http://eliohouse.com/) Evan Dahm (http://rice-boy.com/). All of these cats are mostly indie, with a lil mainstream work on their belts, but they keep it real and that's what really matters.

CCC: If you could change one thing about the modern comics 'industry' what would it be?

I think, in order to change the industry at all, it's the people that follow the modern comics mainstream industry that need to change first. If people were to peel their lips off the ass of mainstream and snuggle up with some indie lovers, I think they'd enjoy themselves thoroughly. The problem is, if the big boys keep putting out the same recycled garbage, people will continue to munch on it as if it was the best steak on earth... when all they really eating is a fattening double whopper from BK. Go out and get you a delicious homemade burger folks!!

CCC: Give a shout out to any site and/or underground comic you think people ought to be checking into.

First off, for all you cats wanting to improve your comix game, make your way to
entervoid.com. Learn, grow.. conquer. Second, EVERYONE has to read rice boy. The story is sooooo insane, you'll wonder how you lived without knowing about it. http://www.rice-boy.com/Third, visit me HA! http://galvomode.com/ (and check out my friends list while yer there too). Fourth - http://respark.net/ lots of the cats on this site are the future of comix.

Thanks for your time, Gabe!

And that's how it works, folks. I hope you enjoyed yourself and found the info Gabe shared helpful. Check back for interviews starring creators you ought to know.

-AR


Peace

Friday, December 7, 2007

Lost In Translation

I know there's art in the community. I see it all the time. Every few years, when one of the BIG two is looking for the next BIG thing, some neighborhood or group of artists loses one of their own to further pad the pockets of Hollywood's next summer blockbuster franchise.

But where's the community in art?

Why is there not a bigger and more powerful voice in the underground art scene?

Now... there are exceptions to the thoughts/feelings you're about to read. But they are just that... exceptions.

1) Jim Mahfood and his posse which includes; Mike Huddleston, Dave Crosland, Jose Garibaldi, Scott Morse and a few other cats whose pin-ups you'll always find in the back pages of some unknown comic are a huge exception. There is no end to what they've given back to the artform.

2) Kazu Kibuishi, Scott McCloud (McLeod) and pretty much everyone you'll ever find inbetween the covers of a Flight comic are other such exceptions.


3) www.entervoid.com

There are even some publishers like; AdHouse, Dark Horse, Top Shelf and Oni pouring money into anthologies I see piling up on comic book shop shelves.

But where is the community?

And why are there any copies of those anthologies left on the shelves?!

Where are the comic book 'news' websites truly dedicated to promoting the indie scene?

Where are the comic book 'news' magazines cutting out a big chunk of their publication to promote the little guys/gals responsible, in large part, for giving them something to write about?

Where are the interviews in which a spotlighted artist points the interviewer in the direction of other artists and books in his/her community?

*If I read another S'Yo interview in which he talks about himself and the 'street' in his work rather than the community responsible for introducing to him to 'street art' and talking him up to the talent scouts who put him on the map, I may put my head through a wall.

**If I see another mainstream comic book cover featuring the art of an ever-morphing art style which morphs with whatever hot new trend is making big noise, I may light fire to my head after putting it through said wall.

***If I see another step in the right direction take 20 steps back for profit, just chop my bruised and charred head off and put me outta my misery.


Are all of the *'s above parts of the community too? Of course they are... but only one small part... although you can't tell, looking at the numbers.

Why isn't James Kochalka one of the most beloved AND celebrated creators in modern comics history?

Why is anthology such a taboo word in the comics field... unless Batman... or Spider-Man... or a famous artist's work is featured on the cover?

Why is self-publishing a last option for so many up-and-coming-and-talented creators?

Why would anyone rather sell their soul for glossy stock than enrich/fortify another human being's spirit with their own blood, sweat and tears?

I'm so happy groups like Drink'n'Draw Social Club, International Cartoonist Conspiracy and the like have been 'arriving' on the scene lately.

I'm glad there are places like AICN/Indie Jones and BadLit out there. And I hope spots like IndiePulp will pick up the pace and really reach for the outer edges of the indie scene.

So... how does it get better?

You wanna change and fortify the community?

Start by changing and supporting the artist and/or fan within.

1) Check out your local comic book shop's shelves for indie titles. They probably have a section ALL THE WAY IN THE BACK OF THE STORE dedicated to indie books.

2) Check out your local comics creators FIRST.

3) Go to places like Lulu.com and scour for comics they print http://www.lulu.com/browse/search.php?search_forum=-1&search_cat=2&show_results=topics&return_chars=200&search_keywords=&keys=&fSearch=comic+books&fSearchFamily=0

4) If you're Google inclined... surf for indie books.

5) Support indie artists in Artist Alley... ALL THE WAY IN THE BACK OF THE CONVENTION. Don't just walk by looking for books with a mainstream look... CHECK OUT THE BOOKS, TALK TO THE CREATORS... SPEND SOME OF THAT ACTION FIGURE MONEY.

6) Post about things/books/creators you find in your pursuit of higher learning. Word-of-mouth is still the most effective act of marketing.

7) Have fun with it. They're comics, afterall.

Happy reading.


-AR