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INDIE SPOTLIGHT #016 – THE BOSTON METAPHYSICAL SOCIETY

By Robin Jones

Indie Spotlight Header
Welcome back to the Inter-Comics Indie Spotlight, this column aims to make you, the readers, aware of cool indie/crowd funded comic book creators and projects!

Following the trend of having writer/artist duos, this time around we have the writer and artist of the steampunk, paranormal comic The Boston Metaphysical Society, Madeleine Holly-Rosing and Emily Hu. Recently nominated for a Geekie Award, the series follows Hunter and O’Sullivan, paranormal investigators for the BMS, a group created by some of the Victorian era’s greatest minds to investigate the strange, ghostly and ghastly goings on in Boston, Mass. This series is a must read for fans of the X-Files!

Boston Metaphysical 1
Me: Where did the inspiration for the Boston Metaphysical Society come from?

Madeleine: It was a combination of my love of history and the scifi, supernatural and fantasy genres. I didn’t realize that by combining them I would get steampunk. J

Me: How fun is it to take established historical characters such as Tesla, Edison and Houdini, and drop them into this world of paranormal investigation and time and space monsters?

Madeleine: It’s been a lot of fun. Obviously since this is fiction none of the characters are probably anywhere close to who they were in real life, but I do try to keep their relationships thematically accurate. Like the fact that Tesla and Edison were in constant conflict and that Edison tried to steal some of Granville’s patents. In case you didn’t know, Granville Woods existed during that same time period and knew Bell and Edison. (He was an engineer whose most famous invention was the Synchronous Multiplex Railway Telegraph.) It’s a blast to be able to see how these characters react in the world I’ve created.

Emily: I love it! It’s always fun to have actual historical characters to reference off of, as well as look into their actual lives, and then see how Madeleine has worked them seamlessly into this world.

Me: What sets BMS apart from other supernatural ensemble comics like BRDP?

Madeleine: Quite a bit, actually. First BMS is not a government organization. It’s just Samuel, Granville and Caitlin. And though Caitlin has some supernatural abilities, no else does. Samuel lives by his wits and instincts while Granville is a man of science though not the “hide in the lab” kind of guy. They see “The Shifter” as a threat to Boston and not the world as a whole…at least not yet. There is a reason “The Shifter” is in Boston which will not be revealed until the 6th issue.

Emily: I’ll be honest- I have not read BRDP. However I have read The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which is another supernatural ensemble comic and I love both very much. For BMS I think one of the most interesting things is that the main character has nothing to lose–he has already lost. So we are following his journey to redemption, which may or may not be morally sound.

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Me: If you could sell BMS in a single sentence, what would you say?

Madeleine: The story is about an ex-Pinkerton detective and his spirit photographer partner who battle supernatural forces in late 1800’s Boston.

Me: Which artists/writers have most influenced you in bringing BMS to life?

Madeleine: I have been a big reader all my life, but I came to comics late. My brother was a big superhero fan so I thought that’s all there was growing up. It wasn’t until I started adapting BMS from the TV pilot I wrote while at UCLA MFA Program in Screenwriting that I discovered that there was so much more out there. Which means my main influences were SciFi novel writers such as Lois McMaster Bujold, John Scalzi, C.J. Cherryh, Anne McCaffrey, Arthur C. Clarke, etc. and not comic book writers.

Emily: Eduardo Risso has always been a huge influence on me in everything artistically. I always look to his books for guidance and inspiration. Other such artists are Tomer Hanuka and Josh Middleton.

Me: Do you have time to still read comics? If so, which comics regularly appear on your pull list?

Madeleine: Yes. I review comics for Fanboy Comics (and the occasional novel). I usually review indies, but I’ve been having fun reviewing the TERMINATOR SALVATION: THE FINAL BATTLE series. I love to read so I try get some pages in before I go to bed every night.

Emily: I do! But far less than I used to in regards to American comics, because I was a huge fan of DC pre-new 52. Right now the only comic I regularly read is All New Ghost Rider by Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore.

Me: What can we expect from your future issues of BMS? Are you planning to further expand the story past the initial 6 issue run?

Madeleine: I hope to. I have a short comic series mapped out that focuses on Granville and another on Caitlin. But due to the financial burden of producing a comic, I’ll be writing BMS novels first.

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Me: You have a kickstarter running at the moment for Issue 5, what’s been the draw and greatest aspect of using crowd funding like kickstarter?

Madeleine: Running a Kickstarter is a time sucker and since it’s only me running it I barely have time to eat let alone do any writing. It’s very hard unless you are a famous person so you have to try and prepare as much as possible before you launch to make it a little easier on yourself. But even then you can make mistakes and it doesn’t work out. This is the third Kickstarter I’ve run. The first failed, but I learned a lot from it. The second one was fully funded in under 48 hours, but this one has been tough. I have a feeling that I launched it at a bad time of year, i.e. end of summer. So we’ll see how it goes. I’m still hopeful though.

Me: What’s your favorite aspect of making comics?

Madeleine: Writing them then seeing Emily making my vision come to life. She’s awesome.

Emily: I love setting pacing, especially in big impact moment scenes, when the reader is about to find out something shocking. It’s very rewarding to finally get to the “pay off” of the page, so to speak.

Me: Hypothetical question now… Mulder and Scully are tasked with tracking down “the Stalker”, would they beat Hunter and O’Sullivan to the punch?

Madeleine: I would think so. They would have better technology at their disposal and probably better investigative skills just because of the advances made in criminology.

The kickstarter finishes on September 12th and you can donate to it here. You can check out all the previous issues and entries to the series at the BMS website here. you can also follow Madeleine on twitter here. Finally, Madeleine is appearing at the following conventions: Rose City (Portland) (Sept. 20-21), Long Beach Comic and Horror Con( Sept. 27 and 28), APE (Oct. 4 and 5) and the San Diego Comic Fest (Oct. 17-19)

Until next time

Rob Jones is an honourary Yorkie, but for the life of him, he can’t understand why. He writes articles, is attempting to write comics and his life ambition is to own a solid gold Donkey… For more comic news, reviews and the odd bit of sense, follow Robin on twitter @Hulksmash1985

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Posted on September 11th, 2014
Category: INDIE SPOTLIGHT, PREVIEWS & UPCOMING RELEASES
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INDIE SPOTLIGHT #015 – TART

By Robin Jones

Indie Spotlight Header
Welcome back to the Inter-Comics Indie Spotlight, this column aims to make you, the readers, aware of cool indie/crowd funded comic book creators and projects!

We have another double whammy of creators for you this time, with Kevin Joseph and Ludovic Salle co-creators of Tart. Within the lusciously drawn pages of Tart we meet Tart Acid and the world she inhabits, the world of The Toxic Fruit. From investigating the disappearance of a boy in 1950s New York, visiting a demon dimension and arriving at the coldest moment in the history of our planet, Tart is a time twisting adventure for fans of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and quirky, kick ass women led comics everywhere!

Initially starting off life as a webcomic, Tart has been successfully crowd funded through Kickstarter and is now available in trade paperback format.

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Me: Where did the idea/inspiration for Tart come from?

Kevin: From our Co Creator Ludovic Salle’. I’ll let him go into it more specifically as he was playing around with the Toxic Universe long before we were introduced. I simply dove into his toybox and played with the toys I understood best.

Ludo: Tart comes from the universe that I created for my first series Hell Strawberry. Hell Strawberry is inspired by a multitude of references. From comic books to the cinema and television. The list would be too long because it is only a brewing ideas that swirl in my brain. But the most important for me is the Time Travel.

Me: As indie creators, how have you found getting Tart out there to potential readers? Do you guys have any advice for other upcoming creators?

Kevin: It’s absolutely the toughest part of the endeavor. Without a marketing budget (well, without any budget), without industry connections and without a name, what do you have? For us, we have a book we believe in passionately. So we try to turn every stone we can in building a readership.

I’ve found the most success getting the word out on Twitter. And this is where I have to mention a guy well known to Inter-Comics, Jay B. Webb. He was gracious enough to agree to read Tart before almost any other reviewer out there. Through his positive response we’ve been able to get our story in front of many podcasters, reviewers and/or other creators. So I see it all branching out from Jay being nice enough to open our pdf.

There really is an amazing group of indie comic lovers (writers, artists and readers) on twitter. Get into the conversation. They’ll lift you up like you’d never believe possible.

We also try to do as many appearances as we possibly can just to get the cover of the book into people’s minds. Small cons, local comic shops, Gallery shows (ok, this one’s Ludo only). If it’s affordable and we can make it, we go. As far as advice for these shows – don’t go in with the goal of making money. Go in with the goal of meeting comic enthusiasts and letting them know your book exists. You’re playing the long game here. Readers are what you need. If you set out to make money, you’ll quit before you reach the midpoint of the journey, much less the end.

Ludo: We make several conventions each year, allowing us to show our creations to a wider audience, which would not come to us. So it’s always a nice surprise and wonderful when we see the enthusiasm of new readers. But social networks do a big part of the work. Twitter and Facebook can target more widely. But there is nothing better than meeting people and talking with them, face to face.

Me: What sets Tart apart from other female led, demon/hell spawn comics like Buffyor JMS’s recent Apocalypse Al?

Kevin: Well I can answer the Apocalypse Al part of the question with an unequivocal, “I have no idea?” I am completely ignorant of that book. But Buffy… I’ve never shied from the fact that Buffy is, was and always will be a major influence on me as a writer. Whedon and his writing team crafted a show that made me laugh, worry, cry and exalt in The Scooby Gang’s adventures. If we can create any such an experience for Tart readers, I’ll consider the book an enormous success.

What sets us apart? Well I think a major theme of Buffy was being forced to accept the fact that you’ve been chosen for a life you didn’t want. Good, bad or hellish, Tart chose to be doing the job she’s doing.

Ludo I do not know Apocalypse Al, either. Regarding Buffy, I will not lie, it’s one of my biggest reference for this project. But I want to say that there is no marketing ploy from me to choose a female hero. It has always been obvious. I always did female characters. I’m always surprised that we still have to explain when a main character is a woman. We rarely ask a writer why his/her hero is a man, but it’s still a debate for a woman.

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Me: If you could sell Tart in one sentence, what would you say?

Kevin: The time-traveling, demon-hunting girl next door.

Me: Who has most influenced yourselves in your work and how?

Kevin: I’ve already mention Joss Whedon, so I’ll reiterate that and throw in Neil Gaiman. Both of these writers are masters at leading the audience into an expectation and then turning the story onto its side. I love stories that surprise me and nobody does that better than the pair of Whedon and Gaiman.

Ludo: Like I said, many references. But like Kevin, Gaiman and Whedon are my favorites. Not only because they are great writers, but mainly because their sci-fi and fantasy universes are often an excuse to develop great characters. With the touch of magic that I like.

As an artist, I am influenced by a lot of painters and illustrators. I like Art Nouveau (Mucha, Klimt), fairy tale illustrations (Gustave Doré, Arthur Rackham). But also the contemporary artwork, the design. I like the works of James Jean (the covers of Fables), he has a perfect proficiency to mix traditional drawings and graphic elements. The art of J.H.Williams III on Batwoman is incredible, too. I try to work in this way.

Me: Do you guys still get time to read comics and if so, which titles are regular appearances on your pull lists?

Kevin: Little by little, I’ve run out of time. I still try, but I’ve honestly fallen off the wagon a bit. I’ve tended to start using my comic budget to support indie kickstarters lately. It’s still $25 to $75 a month on comics, but it makes me feel good in lots of ways. 1) There are some real gems out there. 2) I’m helping a creator put out a book that they probably couldn’t get out there any other way. And 3) With two books Kickstarted, it makes me feel a ton less hypocritical backing other projects I believe in.

Ludo: I try. I read some books of Marvel and DC but I’m lost with all the references that I don’t get. I keep to read Fables, Buffy, Hellboy.

I started Invincible, Empowered, Wizard of Oz.

Me: You’ve mentioned crowd funding as a way and means of getting Tart out there, what was the best aspect of that?

Kevin: Absolutely, positively the relationships it’s created. The goal of Kickstarter is raising money, and then producing and delivering your product. That’s great, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not the best part.

I never, ever assumed I’d make friends out of the process. We had backers raise their pledge at the last second just so we could pass a numeric milestone (even though it didn’t affect us being funded or a stretch goal). Backers from our first project apologize because they were funding us at a lower level in the second campaign. Think of that for a second. They’re giving US money to fund OUR dream, and THEY’RE apologizing for it.

The Kickstarter community as a whole is an amazingly supportive, friendly, fun and engaging group.

Me: What can readers expect in the future for Tart, as you say you have 3 – 4 years worth of story ready for her!?!

Kevin I can hear Ludo’s breath quicken an entire ocean away. Our skeleton of the series runs approximately 40 issues. But with Ludo supplying every bit of art, at the same time that he’s paying the bills with freelance graphic design, we doubt we’ll get those forty issues finished in 3-4 years.

But whenever we finish, our goal is to create a series that engages and surprises our readers throughout our run. When Tart’s story is done, we hope our readers are left with a satisfying and defined ending. We also hope they’ll be able to go back through and reread it finding more in the series than they might have on the first go around.

We won’t know that we’ve accomplished that for a good while, but it’s definitely the goal.

Ludo: Unfortunately, I can not project myself too far in the future, I do not know how fast I could work on the next issues of Tart.

The French way of work is about 48 pages a year (knowing that the artist is both the artist, inker, colorist, and sometimes letterer). I try to do better and provide more but it’s hard.

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Me: What’s your favourite aspect of making comics?

Kevin: I’d normally mention the friendships I’ve made doing it, but I’ve already touched on that with the Kickstarter question. So instead I’ll say that right now, comics are the best way to get your work out and into the audience’s hands. I have two screenplays that I worked my tail off on sitting on my hard drive. I know people with novels written, that they can’t get anyone to read.

Comics on the other hand. You can photocopy and hand out a comic for free. You can self-publish a webcomic. You can print 20 or 30 copies through a digital printer and try your hand at selling them at Cons or LCS’s. You can Kickstart a large run of beautiful books. Or you can submit to the big boys and hope the right editor grabs your book.

The options aren’t limitless, but having your work experienced by an audience is easier in comics than in most any other media.

Ludo: That can be really hard, and headlock, and exhausting. But at the end, it’s always satisfying. I can’t live without making comics. It’s in my veins.

Me: Hypothetical now… Tart vs Buffy in a bounty hunting situation… Who’d get the demon first?

Kevin: Oh, God. You can’t do this. You’re asking me to pit my creation against one of my favourite characters ever created. Unfair. UNFAIR!

I can’t do it man. Everything I type seems unfair to one character or the other. I’ll say this. Mano e mano Buffy would beat the tar out of Tart. But Tart would persevere and figure out a way to survive. Buffy’s a fighter. Tart Acid is a survivor.

Ludo: Hmm… I guess Tart has to kill Buffy. Sorry. There can be only one. Oh sorry, It’s Highlander, right?

You can get Tart from Comixology here, check out Kevin and Ludo’s website here and like Tart on Facebook here. Kevin and Ludo are on twitter, so stalk and follow Kevin right here and Ludo here.

Until next time.

Rob Jones is an honourary Yorkie, but for the life of him, he can’t understand why. He writes articles, is attempting to write comics and his life ambition is to own a solid gold Donkey… For more comic news, reviews and the odd bit of sense, follow Robin on twitter @Hulksmash1985

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Posted on September 1st, 2014
Category: INDIE SPOTLIGHT, REVIEWS
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INDIE SPOTLIGHT #014 – AND THE EMILY WAS GONE

By Robin Jones

Indie Spotlight Header
Welcome back to the Inter-Comics Indie Spotlight, this column aims to make you, the readers, aware of cool indie/crowd funded comic book creators and projects!

This time around we have the brilliant duo of John Lees and Iain Laurie, the talented creative team behind Comix Tribe’s new psychological thriller And Then Emily Was Gone. The story  is a dark horror-mystery that tells the story of Greg Hellinger, a man who sees monsters. A former detective driven to the brink of madness by terrifying apparitions, he is tasked with finding a missing girl called Emily. Hellinger’s search takes him to a remote community in the Orkney Islands, where strange and terrible things are happening…

The book itself had been making large waves at conventions throughout the country and is now available worldwide, and has been receiving rave reviews!

Emily Was Gone 2B Pitarra
Me: Where did the idea/inspiration for And Then Emily Was Gone come from?

JOHN: I’d say that And Then Emily Was Gone is very much borne out of Iain Laurie and I getting together and thinking about what kind of comic we’d love to read.  I think that was very much the starting point: coming up with this idea we were sure no one but us would want to read, but to hell with it, we would love it!  And so it is a hodgepodge of influences taken from our shared loves: Twin Peaks and the work of David Lynch, Kill List, The League of Gentlemen, Hammer Horror, M.R. James, a bunch of other stuff.  And on my end, I was consciously writing what I hoped would be the ultimate Iain Laurie comic, with lots of riffs on some of the classic motifs that recur in his body of work.

Me: Where you both prepared for the level of critical acclaim the book has received, as every review I have read doesn’t drop below 9/10? Did you realise you were onto something special?

JOHN: I realised we were onto something special pretty early, pretty much as soon as Iain Laurie’s pages started popping up in my inbox.  And so, based just on the visuals, I felt the comic certainly deserved the kind of acclaim it’s getting now.  But even so, you never know if a book is going to connect with a wider audience, no matter how much you love it or how proud you are of it, so to see it being so highly praised and for that praise to be so widely circulated… yeah, it’s absolutely breathtaking, and incredibly gratifying.  It means a lot.

IAIN: I’m pretty blown away by it. I’ll be honest, I did this hoping we’d sell 50-60 copies to pals and maybe at some cons so all of this has been unexpected and really appreciated.

Me: Which artists/writers have influenced your creative styles the most and have any particular creators influenced the style/story of ATEWG?

JOHN: When thinking of the writers that have influenced me, the aforementioned David Lynch  and M.R. James immediately jump to mind.  Lynch’s films have this dream-like quality that I hoped to capture with And Then Emily Was Gone, and the ghost stories of M.R. James have this splendid knack for taking the horrific and melding it into the everyday that I hoped to emulate.  Other horror masters Edgar Allen Poe and Stephen King certainly loom large too.  Thinking about comics in particular, Grant Morrison is a continued inspiration in how he pushes the boundaries of what comics as a storytelling medium can do.  And I’ll also give a nod to Scott Snyder for being a real maestro when it comes to generating blood-curdling dread on the comics page.

IAIN: So many for me..from comics Frank Quitely, Nick Pitarra, Rafael Grampa, Alan Davis, Ian Bertram, Paul Pope, Shaky Kane, Ken Reid and from other media people like Peter Howson, John Byrne, Edward Gorey, Ralph Steadman, Chris Morris, early Tim Burton. But the number one influence on everything I do is David Lynch. He’s my hero and everything I do is informed by his work.

Me: Just what is that sets And then Emily was gone apart from other psychological thrillers like Bedlam?

IAIN: I think the fact that it’s me and John. Our tastes and influences and way of thinking is what sets it apart I think.

JOHN: Yeah, there’s certainly a lot of me and Iain in this book.  On a similar note, I also feel the Scottish setting, and the fact we’re both Scottish creators, helps give it more of a unique vibe.  But more than that, we wanted to create something that felt different and somehow “off” from your average comic book, not just in the subject matter, but in the very way the book is put together: the aesthetic, the panel layouts, the choice of shots and the scene transitions.

Me: If you had to sum up ATEWG in one sentence, firstly could you and secondly, what would you say?

JOHN: I’ll take this one, since thankfully I’ve had a bit of practice at attempting this on the convention circuit.  Okay, here goes.  And Then Emily Was Gone is the story of a haunted police detective, plagued with horrific visions of monsters wherever he goes, whose search for a missing girl takes him to the Scottish Orkney Islands, where strange and terrifying things are happening!

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Me: ATEWG is being released by up and coming publication house Comix Tribe, how did you come about working with them? Do you both have any advice for up and coming creators out there trying to get noticed?

JOHN: I already had a good relationship with ComixTribe through working with them on The Standard, so it felt like a natural choice to approach them with And Then Emily Was Gone.  As for what advice I’d give, like I touched on in the first question, I’d say  make the comics that you’d want to read.  Don’t make something that you think other people might like in hopes that you’ll one day get to tell the story you really want to tell.  That day may never come!  And you’ll have to spend a lot of time at conventions pitching this comic over and over, and if you’re trying to get noticed, you’ll have to sell this to publisher after publisher and editor after editor.  You better love that story.  Because if you don’t love it, and believe in it 100%, how can you expect anyone else to?  Tell the stories that you want to tell, now.

IAIN: The advice I’ll give is something Frank Quitely once said that I stand by- do your own thing that you’re driven to do and if you’re lucky and good, people will be drawn to it. And also be influenced by other people but try and find your own ways of doing things.

Me: What is your favourite aspect about making comics? Why comics over prose or gallery work?

IAIN: I’m really not sure..I was exposed to comics and films at a young age and i was pretty drawn to the idea of both of them, creatively. But film was a far away world whereas comics were accessible and you could make your own with felt pens and a drawing pad so I think that’s what got me started and stayed with me.

JOHN: I really enjoy the structure of writing for comics.  Thinking of how you’re going to shape your narrative into a limited number of panels on a limited number of pages, how you’re going to pace the story, play to the page turns.  I also love the collaborative process of working with an artist.  Where my words are filtered through an artist’s visuals, and the end result is this symbiotic combination of our two creative voices… then the colourist and the letterer bring a part of themselves into the mix as well.

Me: Things must be getting pretty hectic now following the release of #01, do you still get time to read comics and if so, which titles regularly appear on your pull list?

JOHN: I read so many comics.  Image Comics seems to occupy the bulk of my pull list at the moment: The Manhattan Projects, East of West, Saga, Sex Criminals, Chew, The Walking Dead, Five Ghosts, Drumhellar, Stray Bullets, Deadly Class, Southern Bastards, probably some other comics I’m forgetting.  Marvel is also really on a tear right now: Thor: God of Thunder by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic is shaping up to be possibly the greatest Thor saga ever told, while Loki: Agent of Asgard fills out the Asgardian end of the Marvel Universe nicely, and I’m really digging Marvel Cosmic at the moment, Guardians of the Galaxy, Legendary Star-Lord, and Rocket Raccoon by Skottie Young.  I’m still reading and enjoying Batman and Swamp Thing from DC, and Boom Studios are currently putting out some really interesting horror titles like The Woods and The Empty Man.

IAIN: My comic reading habits are the same as they were in my childhood so i tend to pick up stuff like Batman and The Avengers. Just comfort food comics. I read pretty much anything Jonathan Hickman or Grant Morrison do so I do love The Manhattan Projects and East Of West. I really like Jason Aaron’s Thor a lot.  Ghosted is good fun. Mostly I wait until stuff is recommended to me. I’m more proactive with films and TV than I am with comics.

Me: Can you let on as to what is still in store for Greg Hellinger and his search for Emily in future issues, and do the pair of you have plans to work on any other titles?

IAIN: Greg’s got some weird stuff coming up. He’s my favourite character so I’ve been concerned by what John’s been putting him through. Poor guy:) After Emily we’ve got quite a few half formed ideas and two really solid ones. But we’ll wait ’til we’re done with this before getting into them.

JOHN: I would happily work with Iain until the end of time, or until Iain gets sick of me!  As Iain says, we’ve talked over a few possible future projects, though there’s one in particular that I’m excited about and have already found myself thinking about quite a bit lately.  As for what lies in store for Hellinger, all I’ll say is that things are going to get a lot darker… and a whole lot weirder!

Me: Finally, a hypothetical question now. Hellinger is called in to investigate the mysterious goings on in Summerisle, as in the Wicker Man film. Would he end up like Edward Woodward or would he manage to escape that fate?

JOHN: I like this question!  Hellinger would fare a lot better than Edward Woodward, I think, as his unusual investigative insight would quickly alert him to the fact that something was up on Summerisle.

IAIN: That’s a great question. I think he’d survive it and I can’t tell you why because it would spoil stuff, but let’s say Greg’s got something up his sleeve that Edward Woodward didn’t. Stay tuned!

Emily 1A Laurie
You can pick up Issue #1 of And Then Emily was Gone from Comixology here, delve into the minds of Iain and John on their Twitter accounts (Just click their names) and the comic’s own Facebook page here and finally, the guys have their own website for all things Emily here. This book is causing a stir and I highly recommend picking it up, especially if you are a fan of psychological horror stories!

Until Next time…

Rob Jones is an honourary Yorkie, but for the life of him, he can’t understand why. He writes articles, is attempting to write comics and his life ambition is to own a solid gold Donkey… For more comic news, reviews and the odd bit of sense, follow Robin on twitter @Hulksmash1985

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Posted on August 21st, 2014
Category: INDIE SPOTLIGHT, REVIEWS
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INDIE SPOTLIGHT #013 – ZAK SIMMONDS-HURN

By Robin Jones

Indie Spotlight Header
Welcome back to the Inter-Comics Indie Spotlight, this column aims to make you, the readers, aware of cool indie/crowd funded comic book creators and projects!

We have writer/artist Zak Simmonds-Hurn in the spotlight this week, he is the sole creator of his own series Monstrosity, which has issues #1 & #2 out already and he is a regular contributor to The Phoenix, an all ages comic which was recently featured in a Guardian article entitled ‘The Phoenix: The best kids’ comic in ages’, where it was proclaimed as “a phenomenon: a beautiful, enjoyably silly story magazine for girls and boys”. Zak does work on the Simon Swift and Sky Drifters segments!

Monstrosity #1 Cover
Me: Where did the idea/inspiration for Monstrosity come from?

Zak: To begin with it was inspired by a strong love of action manga and Videogames and wanting to create a really dynamic, action-packed comic full of cool monsters and fighting- something that had the same impact as the battles in God of War or Bayonetta.

It evolved a lot though- Monstrosity still has plenty of action, but the focus in the finished comic is definitely mostly on the characters and story; if you don’t care about what happens to the character then even a great action scene is ultimately meaningless.

Me: What sets Monstrosity apart from other Anime style comics?

Zak: I think that despite there being some design elements that may be familiar to anime and manga fans, my approach to storytelling in Monstrosity is probably more westernised. I grew up reading British and American comics from a very young age, and although I was first exposed to manga when I was about seven I didn’t start reading any myself until Viz released Dragonball in English eight years later.

Monstrosity is a hybrid of many influences from around the world, but I’d like to think that when people read it it just feels like its own unique thing, rather than a weird amalgam.

Me: If you could sell Monstrosity in one sentence, what would it be?

Zak: Monstrosity is an action-adventure comic about a man who is given demonic powers which he will be slain for possessing, unless he can learn to master them for himself.

Me: Which artists and writers have most influenced you in bringing Monstrosity to life?

Zak: For me it all started with Sonic The Comic in the early 90′s. The creators really gave their all to produce a fantastic comic and, aged 7, it made me want to be able to do what they did for a living one day! So that would be Nigel Kitching, Richard Elson, Nigel Dobbyn and Lew Stringer to name just a few.

Since then, other influences include Mike Parobeck and Rick Burchett’s Batman Adventures work, Joe Mad’s Battle Chasers stuff, Juanjo Guarnido, Eiichiro Oda, classic Disney animation and anything by Katsuhiro Otomo!

There are loads more but it would take forever to list them all!

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Me: One of your stories, Simon Swift, appears in The Phoenix, a comic which The Guardian recently did a great piece about, calling it the best kids comic around. How did that come about?

Zak: I worked on The Phoenix’s predecessor, The DFC, quite a few years back.

Robin Etherington and I did a series of short tales for it titled The Strange, Strange World of Weird! It was sort of like a kids version of the Twilight Zone, but with a very wacky sense of humour!

When The Phoenix started up they got in touch and asked me if I had any ideas I’d like to pitch to them. After a couple of rejected pitches they accepted my idea ‘Sky Drifters’, a story about a Puffin called Tod who pilots a flying cloud and gets separated from his people. After that, the Editor Will put me in touch with Tom Fickling who had written a fantasy adventure tale called Simon Swift, they asked if it sounded like something I’d be keen on drawing and it absolutely was!

Me: Do you still have time to read comics? And what comics regularly appear on your pull list?

Zak: Whilst time can be pretty tight sometimes, I just can’t resist reading comics.

First off, I’m obsessed with One Piece; when it’s at its best I think it’s the best comic around. I’m also really glad that Berserk seems to have started up again, that is an unbelievably great series, it’s just a shame it comes out so slowly!

Obviously The Phoenix has loads of amazing work every week; I’ve really been enjoying Neill Cameron and Kate Brown’s Tamsin and the Deep.

I started reading Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman run recently and have been blown away- also Tradd Moore on All New Ghost Rider and Stuart Immonen on All New X-Men are ridiculously impressive too.

Image are releasing tons of amazing books at the moment, Saga, Lazarus, Walking Dead- there are so many great series out right now. In fact I think the comics scene is the most vibrant it’s ever been!

Me: What can we expect in the future from Monstrosity and from yourself?

Zak: Well, in issue 3, Daigo will have to find a way out of his current, very tricky, situation; but soon enough he’s going to have to come face to face with the Demon Trolle Vengus, who for some reason believes he has history with Daigo. We’ll also learn much more about the Ninja clan and the history of the city, all things which will change how Daigo sees the world forever!

I’m currently working on both Monstrosity issue 3 and a brand new Sky Drifters tale for The Phoenix- I think it’s Tod’s most exciting adventure yet- lots of twists and turns to look forward to! Also Tom is writing the next series of Simon Swift at the moment, so expect more of that in several months’ time.

I’m also working on sketches for something else that it’s probably too early to talk about at the moment, but I think it’ll be really exciting- watch this space!

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Me: What’s your favourite aspect of making comics?

Zak: It always used to be drawing, but now it’s harder to pin down for me. It sounds a bit vague but I think it’s the thrill of creating something.

Inventing characters and worlds and weaving a story that brings them to life on the page is a very potent thrill and I feel incredibly lucky that I get to do it every day.

Me: Hypothetical now, who would win in a seaside boxing machine contest: Goku or Daigo Bezalel?

Zak: I think they would both break the machine!

If it came down to an arm-wrestle then Goku would have to win though. Daigo’s demon-powered form is tough, but Goku makes even Superman look weak, so I think there’s no shame conceding defeat to him!

You can catch Zak on twitter here, he has his own website packed chockablock with goodies here and he’ll be selling Monstrosity at the following conventions this year: Comica Comiket (16th August), N.I.C.E. (13th-14th September) and Thought Bubble (15th-16th November), so make sure to head out and say hi!

Until next time…

Rob Jones is an honourary Yorkie, but for the life of him, he can’t understand why. He writes articles, is attempting to write comics and his life ambition is to own a solid gold Donkey… For more comic news, reviews and the odd bit of sense, follow Robin on twitter @Hulksmash1985

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Posted on August 16th, 2014
Category: INDIE SPOTLIGHT, NEWS & VIEWS, REVIEWS
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INDIE SPOTLIGHT #012 – DUNGEON FUN

By Robin Jones

Indie Spotlight Header
Welcome back to the Inter-Comics Indie Spotlight, this column aims to make you, the readers, aware of cool indie/crowd funded comic book creators and projects!

This time around we have the double pronged attack of Slorance and Bell or Slorabell! It’s everyone’s favourite Dungeoneers Neil Slorance and Colin Bell, co-creators of the magnificent all ages comic Dungeon Fun, not a self help guide to creating a BDSM lair, but an action/adventure comic in the vein of Zelda! Voted 61st best comic of 2013 by CBR and recently sweeping the board at the Scottish Independent Comic Book Awards, it is a genuinely funny piece of work that everyone can enjoy and should be thrust in front of every school child in the UK!

Neil and Colin’s Dungeon Fun #1 was launched at Thoughtbubble 2013 and #2 is out now! So let’s get down to the nitty gritty!

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ME:  First off, congratulations on winning all the SICBA awards (as I am aware you guys wiped the slate!) Also, congratulations on being named the 61st best comic of 2013 and ALL the other accolades you’ve both been garnering! How have things been for the pair of you?

Neil: Great, the attention’s been a bit unbelievable. It’s still sinking in that we won 4 SICBAs and the response from Dungeon Fun 2′s been great.

Colin: Thanks! Things are pretty, pretty good.

Me: So, Dungeon Fun #2 is now out! For new readers, can you explain what sets Dungeon Fun apart from comics like Adventure Time, Regular Show and other all ages comics?

Neil: It’s a different sense of humour for sure. It definitely has a more british feel to it a bit like Monty Python and it’s also one big story as opposed to a one-story-per-episode kind of thing.

Colin: It’s the only comic with that trademark “Slorabell Feeling”, and it comes out far less often.

Me: If you were asked to sell Dungeon Fun in one sentence, what would that sentence be?

Neil: It’s all ages fantasy fun and I think it’s great so you should read it.

Colin: BUY THIS COMIC OR NEIL CAN’T EAT *points to Neil making hungry face*

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Me: Where did the inspiration for Dungeon Fun come from, both in writing and art style, and who were the biggest influences on your styles?

Colin: The inspiration really came from the intitial sketch Neil drew, and then it all just spilled from there. Influence wise, I’m going to say Billy the Fish, Bone, Comedy Bang Bang… I’ve been listening to a lot of Welcome To Night Vale lately so I’m keen to see if that affects issue three at all.

Neil: From the art side of things I’ve always been influenced by adventure games like Zelda, anything to do with dungeon crawling, swords and chests is right up my street. Fun’s design was influenced a lot by Wind Waker.

Me: What with all the awards, conventions, interviews and of course making comics, do the pair of you still get time to read comics and if you do, which comics are a regular appearer on your pull lists?

Colin: I’m still hanging in there, barely. Locke and Key’s finished, but it was amazing. I pick up Daredevil because I’ve been picking up Daredevil forever – luckily it’s been pretty great for the past few years now. I’m still getting Invincible because Ryan Ottley, and when it’s in its prime there’s nothing close to it. Also Michel Fiffe’s incredible COPRA. True story: The first print of Dungeon Fun Book One were all hand numbered because I saw Michel Fiffe do it on the first issue of COPRA. It is to date the stupidest and most time-consuming decision I ever made.

Neil: I’ve fallen back a bit with the weekly wednesday comics, the last I got was the new Amazing-Spiderman about 2 weeks ago and I still haven’t read it. I do buy a lot of indie and small press though, it’s a lot easier to keep up with since it’s mostly all self contained and I tend to enjoy the stories more.

Me:  What’s your favourite aspect of making comics? What drives you to keep doing it?

Neil: I just love seeing a page come together, especially at the final stages when the colours are going in it almost feels like it’s coming to life. I also love hearing from kids and stuff, the other day I saw a girl dressed up as Fun and it just made my day to see my work had an impact like that.

Colin: It’s just the little things, you know? Once every so often I get to see a book I made sit on the new release shelf of the comic shop I’ve been going to since I was a lad. Or when the boxes of comics arrive and you take one out, and it’s yours – an idea once in your head has taken form in this tangible wee book. Or any time a kid asks “when’s the next one coming out?”. That’s just the best.

Me:  What do you in store for readers for future issues of Dungeon Fun? Do the pair of you have plans to work on any other projects together? Also, Neil, do you have any plans for sequels to The Amateur Astronomers Journal or any new travelogues in the works?

Neil: We’re going to keep on with Dungeon Fun for sure and hopefully have a pop at more all ages comics. I’m going to finish my 3rd travelogue in the next month or so which will wrap up the whole story then after that I have a few ideas for what I can do next year. A lot of these ideas involve tortoises.

Colin: Yep, plenty more Dungeon Fun. What do we have in store? DUNGEONHAM. I’ve said too much! I think we’d definitely like to do some more comics together, I’ve got a couple of pitches for some other stuff in the works as well.

Me: Tell us about your publishing house Dogooder Comics! What can we expect to see being released in the future?

Colin: Dogooder Comics is a boutique small-press publisher dedicated to bringing entertaining and interesting comics to the wooooooorld! Right now we’re concentrating on Dungeon Fun and Owen Michael Johnson’s fantastic REEL LOVE, but I would be surprised if we didn’t have a couple of new books ready for Thought Bubble. Stay tuned!

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Me: Finally, Hypothetical question now. If Finn & Jake from Adventure, the My Little Pony gang, Mordecal & Rigby and Fun had a mudman making contest… who would win?

Neil: Well Jake has those wacky stretchy arms, I think he’d be the best but I’d guess Fun would chop it down just cos.

Colin: The fans! The fans would win. Always the fans.

For all your Dungeon Fun needs, check out dogoodercomics.co.uk to order both issues and also to check out Reel Love. You can follow Colin’s twitter exploits here and Neil’s dungeon crawling adventures here. They also have a Dogooder facebook page which you can check out here and Neil has his own here.

Until next time.

Rob Jones is an honourary Yorkie, but for the life of him, he can’t understand why. He writes articles, is attempting to write comics and his life ambition is to own a solid gold Donkey… For more comic news, reviews and the odd bit of sense, follow Robin on twitter @Hulksmash1985

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Posted on August 4th, 2014
Category: INDIE SPOTLIGHT, PREVIEWS & UPCOMING RELEASES, REVIEWS
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INDIE SPOTLIGHT #011 – THE FITZROY

By Robin Jones

Indie Spotlight Header
Welcome back to the Inter-Comics Indie Spotlight, this column aims to make you, the readers, aware of cool indie/crowd funded comic book creators and projects!

This time around we have James J Heath, producer of Indie film The Fitzroy talking about it’s tie in anthology comic! With odd ball characters and the finest tea, six different writers and artists bring us  an alternative 1950’s Britain, with the world is covered in a poisonous gas, but society, fueled by tea and a stiff upper lip, is continuing to struggle on through these short and darkly funny stories.

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Me: Where did the idea/inspiration for The Fitzroy come from?

James: Lots of different places really. Andrew wanted to write a film that we would want to see and would really enjoy, so everything we love is thrown in there: rundown seaside resorts, British sitcoms, strange characters and of course tea.

One of the things Andrew wanted to do with the film is compress society down and see how it might cope after the end of the world. How would people interact with each other? How would society continue? Could it?

A hotel submarine seemed a perfect location for that. It forces all these different characters, who wouldn’t normally interact, to live on top of each other. Hopefully that’s where a lot of the humour in the film comes from.

The comic has allowed us to expand the world out beyond the submarine. Doing six short stories lets us see how other aspects of society are coping… or not, in many cases.

Me: What sets this apart from other end of the world comic series?

James: In many ways, this isn’t an end of the world story. Yes the world has been destroyed by ‘the event’ and is now covered in a poisonous gas. There’s very, very few survivors left, but those still alive are just trying to continue on with life as normal. There are still holidays to go on, tax to be collected, neighbours to keep up with and tea to be drunk. The end of the world is actually very mundane. As the Hotel Inspector in the film would say, ‘society doesn’t end just because the world is destroyed – there are rules.’

Me: If you could sell The Fitzroy in one sentence, what would it be?

James: The world might be destroyed and covered in poisonous gas but that’s no reason to panic, have a cup of tea.

Me: Which artists and writers have influenced you the most in creating The Fitzroy?

James: Because the comic is six short stories by six different artists that’s very hard to answer. As they are based on the world of the film we very much said to the artists and writers ‘this is the world, interpret it as you like.’ It’s been fascinating to see how the stories work individually and as a collection and they really do. I guess each artist and writer has been inspired by a multitude of different stories.

For the film my big influences are the work of Terry Gilliam, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Emir Kusturica. The other major influence I guess is classic British sitcoms – stuff like Dads Army, Fawlty Towers and Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em.

Me: Do you read/have time to read comics, and if so what comics are regular appearances on your pull list?

James: Sadly not as much as we would like. As a kid Andrew used to read a lot of stuff like the Beano and Dandy, but haven’t recently. James read a lot of the Frank Miller material and Watchmen – though Liam has a lot of classic comics and original prints.

Producing the comic with Dead Canary Comics has really opened our eyes to all the wonderful stuff out there and we’ve got a feeling a new addiction might be brewing. At the moment we’re loving ‘Sex Criminals’ – it’s as awesome as the name implies – and of course the other Dead Canary Comics like Frogman and Trained Medic are brilliant – one of the main reasons we wanted to work with them.

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Me: What made you want to use a crowd funding platform like Kickstarter?

James: Well we raised the budget for the film through Kickstarter – it’s quite a niche film and as first time filmmakers we stood very little chance of getting it funded through traditional methods. People really seemed to take to the concept on Kickstarter – the support has been amazing. We’ve really enjoyed having that direct connection to an audience and sharing all the ups and downs with them.

When we came to producing funding for the comic, it seemed natural to use Kickstarter. It’s how we became acquainted through Dead Canary Comics too, as Matt backed The Fitzroy and James backed both their Frogman comics. That allowed us to see what was possible with a comic on the platform. That’s also one of the other thing we love about Kickstarter – it allows you to connect with other creative people and team up to create something entirely new. We would never have been able to create this comic without them. It really is an exciting time for both creators and the audience.

Me:  What can we expect in future issues of The Fitzroy?

James: Ohhh you’ll just have to wait and see. Characters popping up from the film? Longer stories? Serialised stories? Different types of stories – horrors, thrillers? The possibilities really are endless in this world. We definitely want to see how a milkman and possibly a postman coping with his rounds.

Me: What’s your favourite aspect of making comics?

James: This is our first one, and it’s been a real eye opener. Making films, especially at this budget, you’re constantly thinking ‘can we do that?’. The answer is usually ‘no we can’t afford it’ and then you have to rework the story to fit in to what you can do, in the time, and with the money. There’s so many practical restrictions to making a film but with a comic literally anything is possible. It’s incredibly liberating and exciting.

There have been so many great stories that we developed for this comic due to the free nature of being able to do what we couldn’t in the film. Hopefully we’ll get to explore them in future editions. In many ways we’re quite lucky that we had The Fitzroy film first, as one of the things we found working with DCC was the film had already set the rules and the world this takes place in – when you have the rules that can be ironically quite liberating as you’re not constantly questioning what’s possible once something is established.

One of our favourite things is seeing the artwork come through from the different artists and see how they are interpreting the world we created.

Me: Hypothetical now, who would be the worst comic book characters to have aboard The Fitzroy sub and why?

James: Ha ha, great question, love it.

Hmmmm. Well the Hulk wouldn’t be a great guest – tight metal space and once he sees the quality of the service I can’t see him staying calm for very long.

But probably the worst guest to have would be a Banshee – that’s just going to echo something awful and really mess up the sonar. Not to mention, stopping us from hearing the tunes of our onboard band!

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You can check out the comic’s kickstarter campaign here and get all the latest info from The Fitzroy comic and film at the official twitter and facebook pages. The comic recently smashed through it’s £5K stretch goal, so it’s going strong!

Until next time.

Rob Jones is an honourary Yorkie, but for the life of him, he can’t understand why. He writes articles, is attempting to write comics and his life ambition is to own a solid gold Donkey… For more comic news, reviews and the odd bit of sense, follow Robin on twitter @Hulksmash1985

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Posted on July 29th, 2014
Category: INDIE SPOTLIGHT, PREVIEWS & UPCOMING RELEASES, REVIEWS
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INDIE SPOTLIGHT #010 – UNDER THE FLESH

By Robin Jones

Indie Spotlight HeaderWelcome back to the Inter-Comics Indie Spotlight, this column aims to make you, the readers, aware of cool indie/crowd funded comic book creators and projects!

This time around we are talking to Gilbert Deltres, writer and creator of zombie horror comic Under The Flesh, a gritty blast of sex, horror, sci-fi, and dabbling in various sub-themes like evolution, spirituality, and transhumanism. A zombie apocalypse comic that strays away from the traditional viral story by accentuating a premeditated reason behind the virus, as opposed to leaving the origin of the outbreak as a common question mark.

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Me: Where did the idea/inspiration for Under The Flesh come from?

Gilbert: The inspiration for Under The Flesh simply stems from my passionate love of zombie culture. I’ve always been fascinated with the undead genre as a kid growing up. I strongly felt there was still a lot of wiggle-room left for something fresh in the zombie genre, and as my desire to write and create stories grew, I knew I’d eventually want to write a virus story that paid homage to the genre I love, and thus, Under the Flesh was born.

Me: What sets this apart from series like The Walking Dead and Crossed?

Gilbert: Right off the bat, Under The Flesh deals with an unknown virus which ONLY infects males, degenerating them into savage cannibals instead of undead zombies. Plus the hero of UTF isn’t your average human, but a genetically enhanced soldier clueless on the extent of his abilities, since the pathogen struck at the same time he was being experimented on. Although these dynamics instantly separate it from TWD, and Crossed, what truly makes UTF unique, is that there’s a definite reason why the virus is male-specific, and it’s integral to the development of the narrative, and will ultimately be revealed to the readership, as opposed to leaving the origin of the virus as a common question mark.

Me: If you could sell Under The Flesh in one sentence, what would it be?

Gilbert: Under The Flesh is a Grindhouse mashup of The Walking Dead, Y: The Last man, & Captain America!

Me: Which artists and writers have influenced you the most in creating Under The Flesh?

Gilbert: Writers that have influenced me the most in creating Under The Flesh: George Romero, Shinji Mikami, Quentin Tarantino, and Robert Krikman. One of my favorite comic-book artists was the original artist of The Walking Dead, Tony Moore. Absolutely loved his work, one of the best things of The Walking Dead was also his cover work.

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Me: Do you read/have time to read comics, and if so what comics are regular appearers on your pull list?

Gilbert: I love reading comics, and although my schedule is hectic, I still make time to visit my local comic shop. Some notable comics on my pull list are Saga, Spread, Ghosted, Manifest Destiny, Southern Bastards, and Sex Criminals.

Me: What made you want to use a crowd funding platform like kickstarter?

Gilbert: Financing comics is a costly process. The crowdfunding approach opens up new avenues which weren’t available years ago, for indie creators like J.L. and I, and Kickstarter might be a great way to find much needed support, as well as bring UTF some exposure, as we introduce our brand to new readers while cementing a credibility in our dedication to fund the comic.

Me: What can we expect in future issues of under The Flesh?

Gilbert: You can expect a bizarre world within familiar territory. An outlandishly bold survival horror comic that pays homage to the zombie genre, while still making it distinctively unique in its own right. A post-apocalyptic story written for zombie lovers by zombie lovers, who still believe there’s tons of mileage left in the zombie tank.

Me: What’s your favourite aspect of making comics?

Gilbert: The brainstorming. What goes into the percolative imagination before plots materialize and characters flesh their skin. To then finally see ideas, themes, and characters, born from my mind and brought to a sensible reality through the artistic beauty of illustration and art. It is truly sublime.

Me: Finally, a hypothetical question now, the survivors of The Walking Dead stumble into your world. How long would you give them to survive?

Gilbert: In the ravaged world of UTF, the women outlast men and develop a thicker skin in the process. Even though the infected of UTF aren’t snail-paced zombies that are killed by single head-shots, but rather savage, predatory cannibals, that are best slowed down by bodily dismemberment, survivors of TWD will bode fairly well as long as samurai-sword swinging, Michonne, is with them.

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You can check out the Under The Flesh kickstarter here ,follow the comic on twitter here and facebook here, finally you can take a look at the webcomic right here

Until next time.

Rob Jones is an honourary Yorkie, but for the life of him, he can’t understand why. He writes articles, is attempting to write comics and his life ambition is to own a solid gold Donkey… For more comic news, reviews and the odd bit of sense, follow Robin on twitter @Hulksmash1985

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Posted on July 21st, 2014
Category: INDIE SPOTLIGHT, PREVIEWS & UPCOMING RELEASES, REVIEWS
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INDIE SPOTLIGHT #009 – EXIT GENERATION

By Robin Jones

Indie Spotlight Header
Watch out…cos here we come…it’s been a while but…we’re back in style!

The Inter-Comics indie Spotlight returns, after a brief hiatus involving marriage, honeymoons, metal music, drinking exclusively beer for a weekend and bin jousting! So, welcome back to the Inter-Comics Indie Spotlight, this column aims to make you, the readers, aware of cool indie/crowd funded comic book creators and projects!

This time around we have British comic writer and all round awesome bloke, Sam Read talking about his series, Exit Generation, with issue #2 just being released. Sam spoke to me back when Issue #1 was unveiled to the world prior to Thoughtbubble 2013 and he’s back to talk all things Sci-Fi, Aliens and a dystopian future! Hold onto your butts!

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Me:  Exit Generation #2 is here! You did an interview with me for IC a while back, what’s changed?

Sam: Not much, other than we’ve welcomed a new member to the team, with the marvellous Marissa Louise joining on colours.  Marissa currently works on the RoboCop ongoing series for BOOM Studios, and Headspace for Monkeybrain, both of which are great and show off what a talent she is.  I’m really chuffed Marissa was happy to work with us all on the book, and I think people will be blown away by her contribution.

Me:  For new readers, what sets this apart from other sci-fi series?

Sam: While I’m a big, big fan of dystopian and ‘hard’ science fiction, with Exit Generation I wanted to focus to be on the characters and their relationships, as well as the central adventure of course!  The setting is there to provide a foundation for that, and what I hope is that between us, the team have made something lively and accessible, with a sense of fun to go alongside the heavier elements.

Me:  If you could sell Exit Generation in one sentence, what would it be?

Sam: I’d still go with the old tag line, and while it may not be a sentence, it’s pretty brief; ‘Big Guns!  Space Aliens!  Punk Rock!’

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Me:  Which artists and writers have influenced you the most in creating Exit Generation?

Sam: I’m a big fan of many, many comic creators, and one current writer who’s work I really love is Justin Jordan.  The energy in his stories, usually married with tremendous artists like Tradd Moore on the Luther Strode books, is inspiring, and I hope people get a similar sense of excitement from the team and I’s work on Exit Generation.

Art-wise, I actually find Caio’s work a big influence on me; ever since we started collaborating I’ve certainly fed back ideas and the ‘feel’ of his art into Exit Generation’s art more and more, issue-to-issue.  He’s an absolutely brilliant talent, and deserves to be more widely known.

Me:  Do you read/have time to read comics, and if so what comics are regular appearers on your pull list?

Sam: Hell yes I read comics; working in a comic store (OK Comics in Leeds) it kinda comes with the day-job!  Stuff I’m absolutely loving just now includes B.P.R.D., Stray Bullets: Killers, X-Force and Sex Criminals, but my favourite monthly right now hands-down is Deadly Class, which is as close to comic perfection as I can imagine, for me at least.

But that is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what I read regularly; a customer asked how many books I read per week the other day, and including collections and graphic novels, I worked it out to be an average of about 50 to 75 comics (averaging 22 pages) per weeks, so… yeah; a fair few!

Me: How has the convention scene been for you?

Sam: Last year, other than Though Bubble where I launched Exit Generation, I was still attending conventions as a ‘punter’, and had some awesome times meeting loads of awesome folks.  In 2014 so far I’ve only made it to London Super Comic Con, but that was super productive, as well as being really fun.

However, in the second half of the year I’ll be exhibiting at the International Comic Expo (ICE) in Birmingham, Thought Bubble in Leeds, and hopefully at Dublin International Comic Expo too.  Really excited to be hitting those events with more of the issues of Exit Generation and, fingers-crossed, the full four part series will be available at both DICE and Thought Bubble.

Me:  What can we expect in future issues of Exit Generation?

Sam: That would be telling!  But, seriously; I hope that we’ve got a few surprising revelations, shocking twists and lots of fun action for readers to enjoy.  And I gotta say; the whole team have pulled out ALL the stops, with the Caio’s art and Marissa’s colours hitting another level, and Ramon’s covers and Colin’s production looking uber-slick, so hope folks will come along with us for the ride.

Me: What’s your favourite aspect of making comics?

Sam: That’s a tricky one, as I get really engaged by the whole process, from the writing to the distribution.  I absolutely love seeing the way that Caio, Marissa, Colin and Ramon take my crazy little ideas and make them look beautiful, and the whole collaborative element of making comics, and the ways that makes you want to work harder and be better is certainly one of the more unique and rewarding aspects.

The other day I saw C.B. Cebulski of Marvel say on Twitter that sometimes the right writer can help turn a good artist into a great artist, and I think (and hope) that relationship works the other way too, because I know I’m getting better, thanks to the work of all those on the Exit Generation team.

Me: Finally, a hypothetical question now, the aliens of Mars Attacks vs Your Aliens. Who’d win in a set of fisticuffs?

Sam: Ha, I like it!  Well… if you are being literal, those Mars Attacks fellas seem pretty reliant on their ray guns, while the Ruleians prefer things a little more up close and personal, because you can eat a snack at ten paces!

But I actually think they’d have a lot in common; the Ruleian’s are into their cuisine, while the Mars Attacks folks like to experiment, so I could see some kind of horrifying Heston Blumenthal-style fusion going on between the two.  The stuff that nightmares are made of!

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If you want more information about Exit Generation and fancy stalking the creative team, then here’s their details, along with links to their sites/other work;

Writer: Sam Read (samreadwrites.com, https://twitter.com/bronzetrex)
Artist: Caio Oliveira (facebook.com/caioscorner) – Other work; ‘Super-Ego’ (Magnetic Press)
Colourist: Marissa Louise (marissalouise.com, https://twitter.com/marissadraws) – Other work; ‘RoboCop’ (BOOM Studios)
Letters and production: Colin Bell (dogoodercomics.co.uk, https://twitter.com/colinbell) – Other work; ‘Dungeon Fun’ (Dogooder Comics)
Cover: Ramon Villalobos (newcoolmeat.com, https://twitter.com/RamonVillalobos) – Other work; ‘Original Sins’ (Marvel)
Editor: Adam P. Knave (adampknave.com, https://twitter.com/adampknave) – Other work; ‘Never Ending’ (Dark Horse)

A preview of issue #1 is at http://samreadwrites.com/exitgen/, and digital and physical copies can be purchased at http://www.readfrenchcomics.bigcartel.com/

See you all next time.

Rob Jones is an honourary Yorkie, but for the life of him, he can’t understand why. He writes articles, is attempting to write comics and his life ambition is to own a solid gold Donkey… For more comic news, reviews and the odd bit of sense, follow Robin on twitter @Hulksmash1985

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Posted on July 12th, 2014
Category: INDIE SPOTLIGHT, PREVIEWS & UPCOMING RELEASES, REVIEWS
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PAPERCUTS AND INKSTAINS VOL. 2 #14 – ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, MAD MAN LOST HIS DAMN MIND IN THE WEST…

By Robin Jones

PAPERCUTS AND INKSTAINS VOL. 2 #14 Header
“Once upon a time, in a land of glass, steel and concrete, lived a displaced and homesick people wandering the sidewalks, hidden from the wider world. Fabled characters of lore and stories, they co-exist with us, the mundys, whilst dreaming of reclaiming their stolen lands. In the shadows however, lurked an ancient evil. An evil of many forms and shapes. Wampir, Striga, Peuchen, Kasha…Vampire. Different breeds and legacies inhabit the night, but in this modern world of steel and glass, a new breed lurks. Different. Feral. Wild. The American Vampire. In this land of fables and monsters, only one will inherit our world…let the battle commence…THE COMIC BATTLE!”

Rather than have two books of the same nature facing off against one another in the latest comic battle, I wanted to see what would happen if I chose two beloved series and threw them head to head at one another; snarling, gnashing, clawing at each other until one stands victorious over the other, it’s ink leaking all over the pavement, pages torn and ripped and it’s spine tattered and broken. Step forward, the challengers: Scott Snyder, Stephen King and Rafael Albuquerque’s American Vampire and Bill Willingham and Lan Medina’s Fables: Legends In Exile. Two unique books from two very talented creative teams. They were unleashed upon each other all over my twitter feed and during the course of the day the poll swung in both books favour. However, only one could stand victorious…and that one was…

Fables Vs American Vampire
Fables.

New York. Home of immigrants, the hot dog, the Empire State building, community spirit, yellow taxi cabs and the displaced refugees of the fairy tale worlds. Our once upon a times are their worlds and existences. A world and existence that was ripped from them by the omnipotent and malevolent Adversary.Those who survived the invasion and onslaught fled into our world, the one world the Adversary had no interest in, the one world without magic, the Mundane world. Fables: Legends in Exile collects the first five issues of Bill Willingham’s sprawling epic, introducing us to the world the fables inhabit and several key figures. Snow White, deputy mayor/director of Fable affairs, and Bigby Wolf (formerly the big bad wolf, in a human form) are tasked with investigating the suspicious death of Snow’s sister Rose Red. Effectively a prologue, the volume suffers slightly due to it acting as an introduction. The pacing is slow to start with, but as you follow Bigby’s investigation, it picks up, the writing starts to shine through and the detective story really picks the pace up.

What Fables: Legends in Exile does, is provide us with a great deal of characterisation, despite the (at the time) ludicrous idea of fairy tale characters existing in the “real” world. The murder mystery feel of this first volume concentrates more on the reactions to Rose Red’s apparent death rather than the procedure, which adds a nice touch of charm to things, instead of focusing on the procedure behind the investigation, and it helps us to get our bearings in Willingham’s world through the eyes of the reformed Bigby and Snow. Snow is a strong character, albeit a slightly stereotypically 90’s woman, however her dialogue is snappy, her emotive scenes work well and she is an excellent companion to Bigby’s grizzled, noir-ish detective and his unrequited affection for Snow offers us laughs. The side characters are also intriguing, and it’s obvious that they are being setup for future issues/arcs. There’s Jack the fabled giant killer, an inept tricksters and schemer and his girlfriend Rose Red, Snow White’s estranged sister, socialite, party animal and the assumed missing. Then there’s Bluebeard and Prince Charming, the former a posturing, wealthy villain, the later a slick, womanizing conman with a list of conquests who haunt him.

Fables #2
Lan Medina’s artwork, unfortunately, can feel very dated. However his style is evocative and the detail he puts into each panel is beautiful. The character designs are fantastic, with Bigby’s gruff detective reflecting his wolfish nature, the other animal fables shining through with personality and charm and each fable has a modern element added to them. to keep a fairy tale theme, there are scroll designs throughout the artwork, playing on the comics roots and the colours and shading, whilst dating the comic, do also lend to its charm. Each of the cover’s are a standalone work of art, with cover artist James Jean creating masterpieces.

Fables Covers
Whilst there can ultimately be parallels drawn between Fables and the TV shows Once upon a Time and Grimm, it was Willingham’s idea that came first and this first volume sets the scene for the long running story, chock full of characters with an unexpected amount of complexity and tantalizing storylines. From what I understand, it only gets better from here.

Inter-Comics currently has Fables and the Comic Battle loser American Vampire on sale at the moment, where you can pick up single issues starting at 99p! Just follow the LINK!

Until Next Time…

Rob Jones is an honourary Yorkie, but for the life of him, he can’t understand why. He writes articles, is attempting to write comics and his life ambition is to own a solid gold Donkey… For more comic news, reviews and the odd bit of sense, follow Robin on twitter @Hulksmash1985

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Posted on May 30th, 2014
Category: PAPERCUTS AND INKSTAINS VOL. 2, REVIEWS
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PAPERCUTS AND INKSTAINS VOL. 2 #13 – “IT AIN’T ME, I AIN’T NO FORTUNATE SON”

By Robin Jones

PAPERCUTS AND INKSTAINS VOL 2 #13 Header
HAIL HYDRA!

I had to get in on it eventually, even if it is two months late… Hello again, it’s back, my almost annual column of rubbish, twaddle and occasional news!

In a throwback to how I initially started this column, I’ve decided to switch up how I write Papercuts and Inkstains. It’s been a long time since I last wrote one, and that’s unfortunately down to working more, wedding planning and actually writing my own comics. So, in old school Papercuts style, I’ve been asking you guys to pick which book I should read over on my twitter! Since the first story you all picked for me was the fantastic All Star Superman from Morrison and Quietly. This time around,  I’ve done my usual lazy ass thing and decided I’ve wanted you to pick between Mark Millar, Dave Johnson and Kilian Plunkett’s Red Son and Geoff Johns’, Richard Donner’s and Adam Kubert’s Last Son. Therefore I took to twitter with #RedSonvsLastSon and you voted!

Red Son vs Last Son
Just like Highlander, there can be only one, and it was clear that the winner of the quickening here was Millar et all’s modern classic Red Son! A wonderful twist on the classic origins and mythology of Superman, Millar presents to us a world where the infant Kal-El landed not in Kansas with Ma and Pa Kent, but in the Ukraine on a collective farm in the heart of Soviet led Russia. Within this world, Superman is brought up with farm workers whose values of truth, justice and world view is wholly different to the American as apple-pie upbringing he had in his traditional origins. How does the arrival of a superhuman being become utilised by the Soviets and how would a communist Superman differ to our “normal” Superman, brought up with the values and beliefs of the beating heart of capitalism? What effects would this have on the Cold War and just how would America, devoid of a Superpowered being of her, act in defense and retaliation at the news? These are just some of the questions Millar decided to raise and answer within Red Son.

Millar’s writing is, more often than not, highly provocative, and the themes he explores within Red Son are equally so. Within this 3 part inverted geopolitical tale we see an America divided, an economy crushed, an ideology shattered and a monstrous alternative to truth, justice and the American way! The fate of the capitalist west is left in the hands of the brilliant yet morally skewed Lex Luthor, whose own private ambitions and drive to defeat Superman at any cost threaten the world at large. The status quo is also shaken up by having Lois be the estranged wife of Luthor, hiding an obsession with the Man of Steel but never acting upon it. Luthor, with his brutal cunning, must stop the expansionism of the Soviet Union, under guidance of both Stalin and Superman himself, and save the West from an almost inevitable twilight. What Millar does is present us with a character study, albeit a skewed one. By reversing and restructuring the political background and warping the familiar origin tale, we get a piece that examines the concept of nature vs nurture, gone are the comforting and reassuring constants of Kal-El’s past, what we have is an alien…alien.

Batman_Superman-Red-Son
Millar also sharply brings into question, the geo-political and religious structures of our world. Moving within the zeitgeist, Millar takes a concept which is widely questioned, the argument of theoretical assumptions of ideology vs their implementation and practice, and helps show the discrepancies on both sides. Capitalism isn’t the be all and end all, it’s a social and ideological construct which can be heavily flawed, as is the socialism and communism. Millar also highlights the fact that even the best intentions, whether political or otherwise, can have unexpected, almost devastating consequences. These subtle arguments within his writing parallels the political situation today, with countries acting with the best intentions, but ultimately causing more harm than good. It’s a clever way to mix up things within the medium and enhances the impact of Red Son greatly. There’s also the argument surrounding THAT ending, a controversy which sees many claim it ruins the story. I disagree. I felt that the ending was a suitably Alan Moore-esque way of neatly tying things together. It’s an Ouroboros situation, a never ending cycle with a gnostic influence, perhaps Millar is playing on the Godless ideals of a communist society, where Superman must continue this cycle, learning through his own self reflection that he can do more good for the world by letting it flourish on its own two feet, with the memory of his work being the catalyst?

Superman Red Son
It would be criminal of me not to mention the artwork within Red Son, from the 50s influenced style, the sci-fi beauty of the later pages, right through to Bamankopf and his fantastic Russian fur hat. The whole artwork from Dave Johnson and Kilian Plunkett compliments Millar’s writing wonderfully. The way the art evolves over time, moving from the golden age style in part one through to a grittier, more modern style for book three helps to show the passage of time and Superman’s loss of innocence. By evoking Soviet-era propaganda posters, it helps plant the story in world which seems very real, and conjures up the fear and uncertainty of the Cold War era.

I implore you all to read this story.

Now, in another returning theme, I am asking you all related questions to the stories you all pick for me! This time around, I wanted to ask you all what Superman meant to you, with Red Son twitsting the Man of Steel’s ideals and emotions, I felt it only pertinent to see what you all felt about the big blue boy scout?

So readers… Here what you all felt #SupermanMeans to you

Superman means
William Gordon

#SupermanMeans to me: Hope. If an Alien can love earth more than its inhabitants, it gives us something to look up to!

Michael Moor

What #SupermanMeans to me? Based on what I’ve read in the New 52 nothing but confusing stuff lol!

Reece Morris-Jones

#SupermanMeans Well the thing is, Superman is really a US Farmboy. Hes the ultimate immigration story, especially since the 80s as they’ve moved away from Super Science Superman.

James M Clark

#SupermanMeans Though at times admirable, [He] has the mental capacity of a gnat. I prefer Batman, hardened by life’s cruelties. Superman just seems oblivious to them

Mikael

#SupermanMeans Though I don’t really have a personal connection with Superman,he’s the ideal, not just for heroes but for people. He’ll make the effort to improve things for people. With powers or without he’ll stand up for what he believes in & he’s usually nice while doing it.He’s for everyone. When u need it; an inspiration, protector & friendly face.

WhatAboutTheTwinkie

#SupermanMeans: he’s an idea, a sign that we can all be better and do better.

Scott Stamper ⚡️

#SupermanMeans Superman is the story of who we should be. Not who we are. He says no matter how different you are you’re still capable of doing great things, even in the face of something seemingly impossible. That’s Superman.

Adam Snape

#SupermanMeans Superman represents the golden age of comics… That time is over.

Shaun Balliah

He represents, honour and respect. He is the type of person we should all strive to be like.#Supermanmeans

マーティン

#SupermanMeans wearing tight red pants on top of a blue gimp suit.

Graham Day

#SupermanMeans Superman is everything I’d hope to be. A timeless icon.

Brandon J. White

#SupermanMeans moral heroism aligned with a chiseled conscious. Epitome of a comic book archetype.

Kieran

#SupermanMeans seeing as I’ve just written a thesis about aspects of the character, he has become the bane of my life :)

Nerdo McNerdy

Superman means a happy childhood spent watching Lois & Clark and fancying the shit out of Teri Hatcher!

Alexander Adrock

#SupermanMeans Do the right thing as much as you possibly can

Michael Patrick Kane

Superman means an icon that stands for the things we as humans are incapable of doing. That level of truth, justice, honour, and respect etc….it takes an alien to lead us  He also shows how power can corrupt, might take a little kryptonite but it happens.

Ephrain Silva

#SupermanMeans He is my idol, the one person I always look up to. I love his morals and personality. They’re inspiring.

Jeff Norton

#SupermanMeans that trying to make the world a better place starts with just one person. (Please have a read of Jeff’s blog about why he wears the S right here, he puts forward a compelling argument for how we should all view the world)

mighty and the moon

#SupermanMeans he is the constant benchmark for all superheroes , in my opinion

Keep your eyes peeled to twitter guys and girls, as I’ll be asking you to choose my next book soon!

Until next time….

Rob Jones is an honourary Yorkie, but for the life of him, he can’t understand why. He writes articles, is attempting to write comics and his life ambition is to own a solid gold Donkey… For more comic news, reviews and the odd bit of sense, follow Robin on twitter @Hulksmash1985

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Posted on May 22nd, 2014
Category: Blog, PAPERCUTS AND INKSTAINS VOL. 2, REVIEWS
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INDIE SPOTLIGHT #008 – STRONGHOLD!

By Robin Jones

Indie Spotlight Header
Welcome back to the Inter-Comics Indie Spotlight, this column aims to make you, the readers, aware of cool indie/crowd funded comic book creators and projects!

This time around we are speaking to the creative team behind Stronghold, a new, independent comic from creators Kevin Roberts and Brian Visaggio. It’s a science fiction action-adventure story rooted in the “super-sentai” genre, which you might familiar with from shows such as Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Voltron and Gatchaman/G-Force. Kevin and Brian also take strong influences from manga and anime like Dragon Ball,  western comics like Kingdom Come and Sandman, and shows like Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek Deep Space 9 to combine these elements to craft something familiar for science fiction fans In concept but fresh and truly unique in its execution.

I spoke with Brian and Kevin about Stonghold:

Me: Where did the inspiration and idea come from for Stronghold?

KR: I had wanted to do something Super-Sentai (re: Power Rangers/Kamen Rider/etc) inspired for years, I was always drawing up character designs that didn’t have a real story behind them, but I developed them all the same. Then Brian approached me about doing a book like that. A darker, grimmer version of Power Rangers, a show that we liked but we know is still kids’ stuff. So this basically started as our love letter, our homage to that genre of kids shows we grew up on. We wanted something with teams transforming into chitinous armor and piloting giant mecha, while giving it enough of a spin to make it our own, to make it distinct.

BV: Power Rangers. It’s sort of that simple. Kevin and I, along with our friend Martin Krause who helped us to develop the plot the book initially, discovered we all shared a sustained, mutual love for Power Rangers, but knew damn well how poorly the show held up. I initially discussed the idea with Martin, and as Kevin and I had been trying to work out a project to do together, I approached him about the art. I said “Let’s do Power Rangers for grown-ups.” He said “I’ve been waiting for this moment my entire life,” or something to that effect.

We really wanted to do a mature story about kung-fu space superheroes who fight aliens, and I daresay we’ve successfully done that.

Me: Which artists and writers have most heavily influenced you both in your work on Stronghold, and in the style and tone of the comic?

KR: I do have a bit of comic background from my adolescent days. Whenever I went with my dad to the pharmacy or the convenience store he’d buy me some comic books (which were only $1.25-1.50) to take home. I was big into Archie Comics’ Sonic The Hedgehog and TMNT series, and I’d grab any X-Men and Amazing Spider-Man I could get my hands on. I was too young to realize how bad the clone saga was (haha) but I loved 90s Spider-Man however I could get my hands on it. But around the time the PlayStation came out (1995 in NA) I stopped reading a lot of comics, I’d pick up a few here and there but I didn’t get into them seriously until college. Most of my influences were from tv and video games. Genndy Tartokovski’s Dexter’s Laboratory and Samurai Jack remain near and dear to my heart. Akira Toriyama; Dragon Ball Z (there weren’t any American cartoons with that level of action.  It blew me away at the tender age of 11), Ronin Warriors, Voltron reruns, Gundam Wing, Big O, Katsuhiro Otomo: Akira, Hayao Miyazaki; Princess Mononoke, Ninja Scroll. I was smack in the middle of the mid-90s early-2000s anime boom and I was taking in as much as I could. I mean who hasn’t been affected by Cowboy Bebop (Shinichiro Watanabe)? Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid came out when I was 13 and changed my life forever. I mean that series is a part of my identity. Yoji Shinkawa’s art has been a big influence on me, respectively. Japanese cartoons and video games shaped my tweens and teens in a big way, and anythiing Bruce Timm had his fingers in, as far as American cartoons went; Batman, Justice League, etc. There’s one manga I’ve been faithful to since I was 18 and that’s Takehiko Inoue’s Vagabond. If you don’t know it, you need it in your life. Inoue’s draftsmanship simultaneously inspires me and depresses me to no end, and it’s a great story about Miyamoto Musashi.

BV: It’s always a fight to figure out who my influences are. I keep wanting to bring some Gaiman in there but it’s never tonally appropriate. I’d say my biggest influences are Mark Waid, Alan Moore, yeah probably Gaiman, Brian Azzarrello, and Brian S. Wood. Wood’s DMZ has been a huge influence, and I’ve always tried to emulate Mark Waid’s remarkable sense of tragedy.

Stronghold Hallocon

Me: Do you still read/have time to read comics and if so, which comics do you like reading?

KR: Not a whole lot to be honest. Gaming’s my primary hobby and I barely have time for that between working part time and drawing Stronghold. I make time when a game really gets its hooks in but I spend less time gaming or reading comics these days than say, in college. Going to the gym has actually helped; I read comics and graphic novels while doing the treadmill portion of my work out. I’m catching up on Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. Incredible stuff. I do make a point of it though so I don’t stagnate. It’s good to look at other’s work and study what they did and why they did it. Composition, panel layouts, and I’m currently also doing the lettering so I try to study that too. So comics for me are like 40% hobby and 60% research.

BV: My monthly books right now are Starlight, Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, Amazing Spider-Man, and Wonder Woman. I keep wanting to get back into X-Men but I haven’t read it regularly for over a decade now. When I was a kid, I mostly read Uncanny X-Men, Amazing Spider-Man, and Tom DeFalco’s Spider-Girl, which I dearly, dearly love, although I sometimes wonder if I learned all the wrong lessons from DeFalco.

I spend a lot of time in trades. I love classic 1930′s and 40′s Superman. It may not be evident from my reading choices but I’m sort of obsessed with Superman; I’ve just never been interested in the main continuity. Red Son, Superman for All Season, Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, Kingdom Come, All-Star Superman…these are books I come back to again and again and again.

Sandman, Powers, DMZ, Scott Pilgrim (which is truly, truly remarkable). Lots of stuff. Less than I’d like.

Me: Can you describe Stronghold in a single sentence?

KR: Power Rangers, Battlestar Galactica, and Dragonball Z had a baby and we don’t know who the father is.

BV: People making horrible choices in a terrible situation are surprisingly unsuspicious when a space alien offers to give them superpowers so they can overthrow the government.

Me: What can readers expect to see in the future for Stronghold with issue 4 & 5?

KR: More plot, more character development, some new characters, even, awesome fight choreography, grim but hopeful science fiction that doesn’t abuse the color brown.

BV: Issue 4 and 5 are going to be wrapping up the story’s act 1, dealing with the fallout from the events of The Chains parts 1-3. It’s going to launch the book into the second act where the bulk of the story will be spent. Bodies will be buried. Villains will be introduced. And we get to see what’s outside the cities.

stronghold 2

Me: You’ve currently got a kickstarter going for Stonghold, what is the best part of using crowd funding for your projects?

KR: If we get funded I’ll let you know (hahaha) but I guess it’s forced me to network more than have been. Or at least attempt to. And it’s nice seeing people I don’t know giving us some attention, taking a chance on us.

BV: Not going broke funding things yourself. I make pretty much no money, and my wife and I work hard to keep ourselves afloat. We could never do this without help.

Me:  Do the pair of you have any plans for future comics/stories together?

KR: We have more ideas that we have time or hands to commit them to paper or computer, honestly. I wish I had a clone who just did all the things I didn’t have time for, but had all my skills and interests.

BV: We have a few different projects on the backburner waiting for Stronghold to end, all of which we’re really excited about. One of them may be the best thing I’ve ever written.

Me: What’s your favourite part about creating comics?

KR: I love to draw, I always have. Comics require a lot of drawing. It’s labor intensive, but as long as you’re not lazy, you can see yourself improving with each book you make. And after I’m done I get a real sense of accomplishment from what I’ve finished. There’s a profound sense of growth and learning that is almost inevitable in making comics.

BV: I honestly don’t know how to answer that. There’s really never been a time in my life where they hasn’t been the impulse to make comics. Never ever. So it’s like asking what your favorite part of breathing is; it’s completely natural and I never really give it a thought as to what about it appeals to me or what part of it I like. It’s just something that I do.

Me: Hypothetical question now, if the character’s of Stronghold came up against the characters from Super Sentai?

KR:Stronghold. No contest. But then they’d team up and become BFFs.

BV: They’d lose due to being vastly, vastly outnumbered.


Stronghold 1
What you have there is a comprehensive reason to back Stonghold! Brian and Kevin are fantastic gents and fully deserve your support! You can check out the Stonghold website here, donate to their kickstarter fund here, (Which I strongly suggest you do!) also if Twitter is your thing and you wish to stalk the pair of them, then hit Brian up here and Kevin here! Kevin also has his own tumblr, which showcases his art, which can be accessed here!

See you all next time.

Rob Jones is an honourary Yorkie, but for the life of him, he can’t understand why. He writes articles, is attempting to write comics and his life ambition is to own a solid gold Donkey… For more comic news, reviews and the odd bit of sense, follow Robin on twitter @Hulksmash1985

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Posted on May 10th, 2014
Category: INDIE SPOTLIGHT, PREVIEWS & UPCOMING RELEASES, REVIEWS
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INDIE SPOTLIGHT #007 – STU PERRINS!

By Robin Jones

Indie Spotlight Header
Welcome back to the Inter-Comics Indie Spotlight, this column aims to make you, the readers, aware of cool indie/crowd funded comic book creators and projects!

This time around we have British comic writer Stu Perrins. Stu has written many different comics over the years, with titles including Mercury, Harvey Spig, Tales from a Lonely Planet, Imperials and others.

Tales From a Lonely Planet
Rob:
 Can you give us an overview of the work you’ve been doing?

Stu: I created my first comic when i was about 9, which was a blatant Transformers rip-off called ‘Droid Squad’. I can’t remember much about it other than the big reveal at the end was that America had been secretly ruled by a series of cyborg presidents, and there was a time travel sub plot in there somewhere too. I used to get my Mum to photocopy it for me at work and then I’d give it out to the kids on my street.

But if you’re talking about things I’ve written that have been read by people other than the kids on my estate, then the first thing I wrote that anyone really took any notice of was a sci-fi / superhero tale called ‘Mercury’ which I self published with the artist Matt White. We launched that at MCM a few years ago and got some nice reviews and some very encouraging feedback. Since then I’ve had stories published in ‘Boredom Relief’, ‘Ashcan Oddities.’, ‘Hallowscream’ and ‘SPOD!: Oddities from Space’. I’ve also written ‘Avalon’ for ‘Red Leaf Comics’ amongst other stuff and of course there’s the ongoing ‘Harvey Spig’ saga.

Me:  Where did the ideas for Harvey Spig come from?

Stu: Since i was a kid I’ve loved two things. 1) that typically British stuff upper lip hero and 2) OTT monster stories. So Harvey Spig is my open love letter to those two genres. I’m also incredibly lucky to have Mr Nick Gonzo as my Spig co-creator, not only does he like the bat shit crazy ideas I come with but he also actively encourages me to push things in as many insane directions as possible, so that sort of support and creative belief is invaluable. Every comic writer needs a Nick Gonzo in their life.

Stu Perrins artwork

Me: What comics did you read growing up?

Stu: Like pretty much everyone my age the first comic I read obsessively was The Beano, but that all changed one day when on the way home from school my Mum brought the nine year old me a copy of 2000AD and the rest, as the cliche goes is history.

Me:  Which creator has most influenced your work?

Stu: That’s an impossible question to answer really, there are so many creators I admire including the likes of Robert Kirkman, Mark Millar and Grant Morrison so you could say they have influenced me greatly. Having said that Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and Terry Gilliam are huge inspirations to me, especially Terry Gilliam, that man is a genius as afar as I’m concerned.

Me: Where can we find your comics?

Stu: I’ve got a bunch of stuff available on drivethrucomics.com and comicsy. Check out my twitter, I can barely go 5 minutes without pimping something I’ve written or that I’m working on. A good starting point is either one of both of these frankly awesome FREE comics – Harvey Spig in “The Dead of Night and Stories from beyond sleep

Me: What projects/comics do you have lined up for the future?

Stu: Loads of stuff! Amongst other projects I’m currently writing the last part of  ’Prime’ which is a 4 part story capes and capers epic which I’m working on with Israel Huretas. The stuff that Israel is coming up with is jaw droppingly awesome- just wait ’till you see it – one day that guy will be working for the big two, you mark my words. There’s also a something called ‘The Dark Shadow Apocalypse’ with I’m working on with  Saad Azim that I can’t really say too much about because i don’t really want to give too much away but its probably one of the most ambitious things I’ve ever written. I’m also currently co-writing a horror/sci-fi one shot called ‘Infected’ with I  A Austin, which I’m really enjoying doing having never co-written with anyone before, and Mr Austin is such an awesome writer that I’m really enjoying collaborating with him on this. I’m also in the process of putting together what I hope will become an ongoing anthology called ‘Clockwork Goat Presents’ , which contains all sorts of awesome. And as well as all that I’ve got strips in forthcoming issues of FutureQuake and The Psychedelic Journal of Time Travel and of course there’s more Harvey Spig – including an all new adventure for FCB day called ‘Happy Birthday Harvey Spig.’

Me: What’s the best part of crow funding your projects?

Stu: It’s a great feeling having a group of people pushing forward and supporting a common cause.

Prime #1 Cover

Me: Do you have regular artists you use or do you prefer using different artists to achieve a different perspective on your writing?

Stu: I’m very lucky to have worked with a bunch of awesome artists. Working with the likes of Israel Huertas, Nick Gonzo, Vince Hunt, Brian Burke and others is a genuine joy. Each artist I’ve worked with has brought something new and exciting to the table.

Me: Do you have any more crowd funding campaigns starting soon?

Stu: Not at the moment, but anything can happen. Watch this space!

So please, check out Stu’s work on DriveThruComics right here and you can catch him on twitter right here!

See you all next time!

For more comic views and reviews follow Robin on Twitter at @Hulksmash1985

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Posted on May 10th, 2014
Category: Blog, INDIE SPOTLIGHT, REVIEWS
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INTER-COMICS DESIGN-A CONTEST 2014 ANTI-HERO!

By Robin Jones

DesignaContest 2014
It’s that time of year again! It’s time for the Inter-Comics Design-A contest! Last year we asked you to design a Hero for us, and we had some great entries! Eventually the contest was won by Shane Cane’s “Nu-Clea”, an ultra stylistic, nuclear powered badass!

Last years winner
Instead of a hero, this time around we want you to design us an Anti-Hero. Everyone loves themselves a bastard, therefore we want you to design the next kickass character in comic bookdom! So, think of your best Bryonic character, a non typical hero and then draw, paint, pencil, digitally ink or even wax crayon your entry and get them to us! We also want you guys to come up with a cool origin story, revealing what makes them tick! You could do the piece as a pin up, an action shot, or a mocked up cover! Let your imagination go wild! This is a creative contest, so the more creative, the better!

This year, instead of splitting the prizes into first, second and third prizes, the prize pot will all go to one lucky winner. The prizes we have are as follows:

  • A script and copy of Crossed Badlands issue 14 signed by the wonderful David Hine
  • A copy of Toxic Storm Vol 1 signed by writer Adam Cheal
  • A copy of Saltire: Invasion and promo poster
  • A copy of SPOD! A collection of Space Oddities signed by contributor Stu Perrins
  • An original inked piece by David Golding, a British comic book illustrator who has worked extensively in films
  • A sketchcard of Lobo from artist Peter Simeti, artist and writer of The Chair (Please note at time of photo Peter’s work was on it’s way across the Atlantic!)
  • A one of a kind bust of Venom, created by my comic creating cohort Brad Holman, exclusively for this contest!
  • A guest spot on the Inter-Comics podcast to talk about your piece
  • A cameo appearance in my upcoming first comic Average Joe

Prize bundle
There’s a good chance we may be adding to this prize pot before time is up, but still, that’s a hefty prize package!

Send your entries along with your name and their origin stories to robtheyorkie@hotmail.co.uk with the subject heading Inter-Comics Design-A Contest.

The contest closes on July 31st, so plenty of time to get creating!

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Posted on May 5th, 2014
Category: COMPETITIONS
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INDIE SPOTLIGHT #006 – VANGUARD BY DAN BUTCHER

By Robin Jones

Indie Spotlight Header
Written by Dan Butcher
Art by Dan Butcher

Welcome back to the Inter-Comics Indie Spotlight, this column aims to make you, the readers, aware of cool indie/crowd funded comic book creators and projects!

We have an awesome, pulse pounding, British action/adventure webcomic for you this time around in the shape of Vanguard from writer/artist Dan Butcher! The Vanguard team are a group of meta-humans, working for the British Government in covert ops around the globe, the art is punchy, gritty and realistic and the story is engaging and full of depth! This is for fans of superhero team ups, like JLA, the Avengers or the Unity team! I was lucky enough to speak to Dan about his work!

Me: What was the inspiration behind Vanguard? Where did the idea come from?

Dan: The idea for Vanguard came to me when I was working on something completely different. I found as I worked up a back story to that tale, it became apparent that it wasn’t something I wanted to skip over, but actually explore further.

Me: Vanguard is a classic superhero/meta human team up, did you want to add your own twists to this flavour by having them as a military response team rather than an independent group?

Dan: Well, I wanted the Vanguard to be endorsed by and work for the Government. That being the case, in reality they’d operate with and alongside the Military. You’d have several departments handling their publicity, media image, and their deployment in the field. In the comic, these roles are filled by several characters (McPhaidon, John Hatcher, General Phelps). In regards to the chosen candidates for ‘super powers’, if the Government were going to pick out half a dozen people to give these abilities to, I’d imagine they’d pick people from Law Enforcement/Military or someone with a proven record of following orders. I’ve done my best to research elements within the story, to the point where I was asked if I’d ever served in the Military. Nope, just read a lot of books, watched documentaries… and 80’s action films. Littered through the first two issues are numerous references to ‘Predator’. See if you can spot them all.

Vanguard Billboard Banner
Me: Which comics do you read yourself and which creators have had the most influence on your work?

Dan: Comics I read at the moment? I have a standing order for just one, which is ‘Invincible’, by Robert Kirkman, Corey Walker and Ryan Ottley. The writing on this comic is excellent. Constantly moving forward, always changing with twists and turns every issue. As much as I love the classic superheroes, Batman, Spider-Man, etc., the idea that they never change/grow bugged me more as I grew older and my tastes changed. In regards to the art, Ryan’s work is amazing. Detailed, explosive and dynamic. His style has influenced me greatly, these past few years. I’m sure some of his influence can be seen in my work.

Comics that have influenced me? I’ll mention some of the ones that had particular influence on me as a younger reader: Marshall Law, Judge Dredd/2000AD, Dragon’s Claws and Action Force/G.I.Joe. These titles either focus on a team of characters or are set in a dystopian future, similar to Vanguard.

Certainly a lot of the elements/ideas within Vanguard have their roots within some of the aforementioned titles. Public Spirit from Marshall Law, for instance. He’s the World’s number one superhero, who behind closed doors, is a drug fuelled ego-manic and murder. He certainly went some way to inspire MaXtreme in Vanguard.

Me: If you could describe Vanguard using one sentence, what would you say?

Dan: That, is a hard one. Maybe – ‘In a bleak, dystopian future, a team of disparate government endorsed superheroes battle to foil a Machiavellian scheme bent on Global domination’?

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Me: So, why a webcomic?

Dan: It was/is the best medium to tell the story. The comic is free to read and anyone with a web connection can get at it. Webcomics are a bit of a double edged sword. Anyone can make one, but with no quality control, anything can and does get posted up. Fortunately, I receive great editorial input from Gary Cohen, a chap I met on Twitter, who writes the excellent Mallville Rules. He has tempered and harnessed the content and storytelling, making the overall read feel ‘tighter’ and more focused.

Me: Do you have any other projects lined up for the future?

Dan: I have several. It’s getting harder and harder to not to add another project to what I’m already doing. I often over work myself and burn out. I’ve tried to limit the amount of projects I commit to because of it. That said, I often provide artwork to webcomics and/or creators that I like/admire.

Me: Has the idea of crowd funding a printed edition of Vanguard ever crossed your mind? I understand Vol 1 is available to buy?

Dan: Yep, the trade paperback of Vanguard, which includes issues one-five can be bought online HERE

I’ve not considered doing a crowd funding edition. One of my problems is that I’m a creative, not a business man. I’m more at home punching out the artwork than selling it. A situation that I need to address, because the bills can’t be paid otherwise!

Me: Hypopthetical now, if the Vanguard team had to take on the Unity team from Valliant Comics, who would win?

Dan: Ha ha! I can’t say I’m not familiar with the Unity team. Readers will be able to tell that the Vanguard can pack a punch, but put them up against heavy hitters like the JLA or the Avengers and they’d struggle!

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So, to read Dan’s Vanguard web series, just follow this link and it’ll take you to the start of the series! You can follow Dan’s exploits on twitter right here and there’s also a facebook page here for all your Vanguard needs!

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Posted on April 26th, 2014
Category: INDIE SPOTLIGHT, PREVIEWS & UPCOMING RELEASES
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INDIE SPOTLIGHT #005 – SPLIT BY JOHN RODRIGUEZ & MIRA MORTAL!

By Robin Jones

Indie Spotlight Header
Welcome back to the Inter-Comics Indie Spotlight, this column aims to make you, the readers, aware of cool indie/crowd funded comic book creators and projects!

Stepping up to the plate this time around, we have a Graphic Novella, Split from John Rodriguez or JAR and Mira Mortal. What Mira and JAR do is evoke  a dark, tense, psychological story which sends a shiver along your spine and leaves a dark mark against your soul. A horrifying story of tragedy and coping, Split is currently up on Kickstarter and needs your backing! We were lucky enough to speak to JAR and Mira about Split.

Split Cover
Me: Where did the idea and the inspiration for Split come from?

JAR: I can speak of what inspired me for the art. When Mira and I where first talking about what kind of story we wanted to work on, my first reaction was “dark.” I had just finished an 8 page comic for a Catholic publication at the time and wanted something very different to work on. I tried to make the art a bit claustrophobic, like the weight of the world is getting to the mother.

Mira: The story itself is a couple of years old, so I’m removed a bit from the exact moment of inspiration, but I can still talk about the general thinking behind it. I worked under an assumption that we are a product of our own situations, but how our lives progress beyond that depends on our ability to deny, accept, change, or transcend these situations–and failing all of these, there’s the point where everything becomes too much. SPLIT supposes that not all the horrible things that people do in reaction to their situations are motivated by being bad or evil. It’s kind of become this popular thing to recognize that nobody sees themselves as the villain in their own story, and SPLIT is an extension of that. I wish I could speak more specifically about the book, but it isn’t out yet!

Me:  Does the book carry a message? There’s a clear Mental Health awareness vibe running through it, was that something you wanted to raise awareness of?

JAR: I didn’t have a message, but I felt a big responsibility to make sure that I delivered the story to the reader as best I could. I want the reader to feel sympathy for the characters and then conflicted toward the end. If it brings more awareness to mental health issues, even better.

Mira:  Messages are a funny thing. Readers might find a message that wasn’t intended, or miss the one that was supposed to be there, so I don’t write to preach or to convey messages, necessarily, but to serve a story. Hopefully. That being said, I do think mental illness is a serious issue. It carries a social stigma that is difficult to overcome, and the mental health community could always use more resources to give aid and raise awareness.

Split Page 19.1
Me: Can you describe Split in a single sentence?

Mira: ”How much can a heart break before the mind decides to follow?” We used this line in our trailer, but although it’s a question, I think it sums up what this story answers for the characters.

JAR: Normal people breaking under the consequences of good intentions.

Me: Which artists have most influenced the art, style and tone of the book?

JAR:  I’ve always liked the heavy blacks and high-contrast approach of Mike Mignola, and the sketchy look that Sam Keith uses. I used a combination of these approaches with SPLIT. I’m also a huge fan of work by Ben Templesmith and Menton3.

Mira: For writing it, I suppose my long history with the work of Stephen King and David Lynch made me feel okay going to a pretty dark place.

Me: Which comics do you read yourself?

JAR: Currently I’m reading Abe Sapien, Superior Spider-Man, a few X-men titles, and Jupiter’s Legacy. I’ve also always been a Green Lantern fan.

Mira: I’m all over the map, but I’m rather loyal to Top Cow: Think Tank, Artifacts, Aphrodite IX, Wanted, a bit of Witchblade. Older favorites like Sin City, a lot of Alan Moore’s work, Transmetropolitan. Loved Locke & Key. Wormwood. Chew, The Walking Dead (though I’m far from caught up), The Wake, Kevin Mellon’s work. And there’s really good dark material like Abattoir, Bedlam, Killing Pickman, and Wolves of Summer. On the flip side, I read the Adventure Time comic pretty regularly. I’m fairly obsessed with that property because it strikes exactly the right balance of weird, creative, and hilarious. I’m going to stop, because I could go on for awhile.

Split Page 19.2
Me: You have a kickstarter running for Split, what do you feel is the best element of Crowd Funding a project like this?

JAR:  I think that, especially a book like this, would be a hard sell for a publisher. Crowd-sourcing gives creators like us a chance to make books we love, and not feel like we have to tone something down, or change the ending to appeal to a larger audience. Drawing for me is a labor of love and, whether it’s printed or just available digitally, it makes me happy to have the opportunity to tell stories to an audience who wants to read them. No matter how small the audience is.

Mira: This one would probably be a hard publishing sell based on the format alone. I love the idea that we can produce something specifically for those that are interested in it, and that it doesn’t necessarily require a publisher to get a book printed. It does, in fact, take a village to make a comic. ;)

Me: What projects do you have lined up for the future, could we expect the story laid down in Split to be expanded upon, or maybe some more background revealed in the future?

Mira: I see SPLIT as done, but we have talked about putting some extras in the book like backstory notes and some early sketches if the book gets funded.

JAR: I also see SPLIT as a completed book. We have quite a bit of stories that are currently in their infancy stage. I’m currently working on a mini-series with Action Lab comics which will hopefully be completed by the end of 2014. Then Mira and I plan to be full steam on a new project.

Split Page 7
You can check out the Split kickstarter page right HERE and check JAR and Mira out on Twitter by clicking on their names. If you want to check out more of their work, then head to Mira’s website HERE and JAR’s website HERE. The kickstarter for Split runs until May 3rd, so plenty of time to make some pledges!

See you all next time.

For more comic views and reviews follow Robin on Twitter at @Hulksmash1985

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Posted on April 16th, 2014
Category: INDIE SPOTLIGHT, PREVIEWS & UPCOMING RELEASES, REVIEWS
Tags: , , , , , ,