Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chew production art up at CBR!

Great stuff to whet your appetite as we wait for Chew to be released in Jun.

Take a look, it is tremendous. I am looking forward to this book big time.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Retro Review: PITT #1 (Image comics 1993)

Pitt wow. I forgot how much I loved this comic. I loved Dale Keown, who is probably the best Hulk artist of the late 80's and 90's. I fell in love with his art the first Hulk he was on, and it blew me away month after month. He just expressed Hulk's strength in and power in every panel.

And when Pitt was announced I was genuinely excited. And when I got it, I loved it. in 1993 it had that image magic, combined with Dale's Heavy Metal art style and dynamism. It was raw and powerful stuff.

That was then.

Upon re-reading. Not so much. The story is pretty simple. An alien creature arrives on Earth to save us, naked, and is attacked by bikers. he kills them something awful by the way. But as savage as he is, he has a bigger role to play as our saviour. So that is the set up as the secondary characters are introduced. Cops sent to investigate Pitts appearance and bloody attack on the subway. And the boy who is having visions, who will eventually join Pitt on his savage journey to protect the world from the Creed. Who's agents show up and kill some people at the end of the issue.

The dialogue and plot are very simplistic, and really are only there to serve as an excuse to have Pitt kill and fight. Its even silly at times. But to be honest, no one picked this up for the writing. No way. What people did want they got in spades. Raw, dynamic, visceral action by Dale Keown. It powerful stuff. Pitt is scary. if not a little bit of a cliche, but scary and powerful.

I think this isn't Dale's best work. he embraced the Image style of lines and cross hatching that was super popular at the time. it was messy compared to his work on Hulk, which if I remember correctly was inked by Rubenstein(?). Messy, but full of energy. The figure work and expressions pushed to the cartoony stylistic limit. Pitt himself is awesome to behold, pretty much a simple unremarkable design..but drawn, rendered beautifully. Dale Keown is really heavy Metal in comic form. The action is intense and brutal. The layouts are simple, mostly frontal shots, and the background are more suggestions and often nonexistent. Again, this was a sign of the times. Brutal violent snarling and jumping. Ultra-huge characters with guns and pointless cybernetics or claws..basically roaring through panels for really no other reason then it looked damn cool.

all in all the re-read for the review was satisfying but very dated. Fun yet...well...unfullfilling.

I definately recommend every one who reads comics pick up his Hulk run with Peter David. It was excellent.

6 out of 10.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mondo Marvel by Paul Brain McCoy @

Any one who loves comics should really give this column a read. Basically Paul is going back to the begins of the House that Stan and Kirby built and basically giving us a tour of the history of the Marvel Universe. He plans on reading and offering commentary being with 1961's Fantastic Four #1 up through December 1969.

It's a labor of love..really good stuff for fans of comic history in general.

Good job Paul. Awesome idea and execution.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Aris Asks Todd Gross

Todd Gross is a regular at the Millaworld forums, and all around nice guy. He is known for finding pictures of comic fans on the internet and using them to great comic effect...and he is also an all around good guy.

1. When did you start reading comics?

I think my parents bought me comics when I was maybe around 4 (1972). Growing up, I read Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers, Captain America and Thor. I had a few DC comics but one of my favorite books was Batman: 30s – 70s. I think I wore that book out. Another was Jules Pfeiffer's The Great Comic Book Heroes.

2. Who are your favorite characters?

My favorite character is the Punisher. I own almost every comic book appearance he has ever made. Spider-Man is also a favorite. I have a special place in my heart for Batman.

3. are you a DC guy or Marvel Zombie?

Make Mine Marvel! :D

Seriously, I prefer Marvel because that is what I grew up with but I will read books from any company if project interests me.

4. any aspirations about being a comic creator?

Nah. I prefer reading comics

5. And who are your favorite creators?

My all-time favorite artist is John Romita, Sr. I also like Skottie Young, Sean Phillips, Esad Ribic and Steve McNiven. Carmine Di Giandomenico did some absolutlely brilliant work on Daredevil: Battlin’ Jack Murdock and Magneto: Testament. A very underrated artist.

When it comes to writers, I like Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Millar, Jason Aaron, Jonathan Hickman and Greg Pak. And of course, John Steele Layman.

6. Are the $3.99 comics signaling the end of the floppy?

It is signaling the end of me buying the floppy. I have been cutting back on books because of the higher price and only purchasing select $3.99 titles. As to the future, I think we are reaching a ceiling of what the majority of comic buyers will pay for 32 pages per month.

Given the current economic times and the near future, I can see people dropping floppies due to the high price. Now is the time for the companies to begin transitioning readers to a digital format.

7. Do you think it's inevitable that digital comics replace the floppy?

I think at some point in the not so distant future that digital comics will be the standard form. I think floppies will be used as promotional pieces, marketing giveaways and special prestige projects. Companies can still collect their online issues into trades. That said, I think digital comics still have to get some kinks out before they truly take over.

I think comics will evolve when they go online. Hyperlinks to back issues and character/plot information and animation. In 10+ years, digital comics will be very different beasts from their print ancestors.

8. What are the best comics your reading now?

Scalped, Criminal, Air, Incognito, Northlanders, Glamourpuss and a bunch of Marvel books

9. what do you think about the term "event fatigue"?

I’m tired of it! ;)

I understand why the Big 2 do events regularly but I would like to see a two year gap from the last issue of one event to the first issue of the next. I think it would give books plenty of time to explore changes and lay groundwork for the next one that doesn’t feel rushed.

10. Who would win in a fight John Layman or Archonis?

The viewing public.

11. Your predictions about Chew?

It will be discovered to be the cause of the swine flu outbreak and make cannibalism fashionable again. Everything balances out.

12. You pretty much start off all the new comic threads with a theme or gimmick at Millarworld, always very funny, how do you come up with those?

Sometimes I will see a picture that sets that just screams a particular idea. Other times, a last minute inspiration hits me. It gets harder and harder each week though some weeks, it all comes together in my head days before I post it.

13. Your votes in the MW-SFL (Super hero fantasy league) are horrible and obviously biased against DC characters why is that?

I go with who I think would win the fight. I look at each fight on its own merits. Some are very close and it doesn’t always go the Marvel way. Besides, all the other teams are better than yours! :P

14. Do you think at this point you can justify me ever sharing my home made Eggrolls with you?

I have been horribly abused by Layman. Pity me!

15. Do you frequent other comicbook related forums?

I have accounts at some other boards but I rarely go to them. I like Millarworld because it is not limited to just comics. There are times I think I post more in Current Affairs and the Pub than the Comic forum.

16. Do you use any comic related news sites like Comic Book Resources or Newsarama?

I used to go to Newsarama daily but when they changed their site, it put me off though I still visit it occasionally. I go Comic Book Resources daily.

17. Are you on Facebook just to find compromising pictures of comic fans to use for your comedic pleasure?

No, but I do take advantage of that. At Millarworld, we used to have threads of pictures where we would post pictures of ourselves and I mined the hell out of them. As I friended more Millarworlders on Facebook, the riper the fields became. And for the record, I have only a literal handful of pictures saved of Millarworlders. I get 99% of them from Facebook and Millarworld itself.

18. Barry is back as the Flash(one of many) what are your thoughts on that?

Barry was the Flash I knew growing up. When I got back into comics in the late 80s, Wally was the Flash. While I did pick up some stories with Wally and enjoyed them, he never really clicked with me. He wasn’t my Flash.

That said, I am still not convinced bringing back was the best idea though with Geof Johns behind it, I think it will turn out pretty good.

19. Do you care that the last part of Old Man Logan by Millar and McNiven are coming out after the issue of Wolverine it is supposed to be in front of number wise?

While a bit silly on Marvel’s part, it really doesn’t matter that much to me.

20. Do you think John Voulieris really gets all those girls?

I think when Johnny Vee to the modern Fonzie. All he has to do is walk into a room and the hot ladies run to him to inhale his musk.

21. Do you think Continuity matters any more, or are self contained Start, middle, finish comics are better?

I am not as obsessed about continuity as I used to unless it is something glaringly done with no explanation. As long as the story is good, that is all that should matter.

22. Do you think that American comics could survive mimicking the Manga model?

If Marvel were to make a paradigm shift with their entire line, it might be successful. To me though, it would delay the inevitable move to digital.

23. DC is trying something called Wednesday Comics, kind of like a Sunday comics format, have you heard of it? are you willing to give it a try?

I have heard about it but it doesn’t grab me. I will say I really admire DC for trying this and hope it is successful. I think the companies need to experiment with formats because they could open up great new avenues of storytelling. That is something that may help them to survive in print form as prestige projects once digital comics become the norm.

24. Who do you think has a better chance of becoming a mod at Millarworld forums, you or me?

Me, of course! I’m the better speller.

Todd is all over Facebook and chances are he is pilfering your photos to use when you least expect it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Comics Capsule Reviews 4/22/2009

Trinity #47: A wild ride as the Trinity face off against Krona and his cronies (Morgana and Despero). It's a huge mega fight, with allies coming from adjacent Earth's to help defeat the Dark Trinity. Good dialogue and progression by Busiek and great art by Bagely. The secondary story is interesting. Luthor has the plan that can help the trinity gain the upper hand and actually set things right. Nice Dialogue and narration. Not a big fan of Derenick, the figures are awfully bug and hyper muscled and some what awkward. But the story is very interesting. We are closing on the end game and there are plenty of players in place. Great job by all involved. 7.5 out of 10.

Supergirl #40: someone give Gates and Igle a gold star. Excellent issue. Balls out action and intrigue. Reactron is a mailto:d!@. Great fight between the two as Supergirl unravels the mystery of Superwoman. Twists, turns and drama galore. Next issue is gonna really be tremendous. I hope Supergirl stops Superwoman from running around killing people. The art is great. Igle is really a master of the craft of comic art. Great action and super powered fisticuffs in Metropolis. Great character work. And really nice backgrounds and layouts. Really fantastic storytelling. The coloring not so much. It is amateurish and a digital mess of highlights and fades. The book should be brighter. Its an unnecessary distraction from the great art Igle is presenting. Still the book is a great read every month and the certainly the best Supergirl I have ever read. 8 out of 10

Hulk #11: FUN. Balls out fun. I just decided to go for the ride. The classic Defenders line up snatched out of time by the Elders to take on their opposite the Offenders. And it is awesome fun indeed. Kudos to Loeb for the Coney Island Cyclone comic thrill ride. Great faces offs and turns as Galactus, Dommamu, and the Psycho-Man add a twist to the main event. Great art by the modern master McGinness. Thick, stylized lines and great expression and action. inked perfectly by Vines and colored beautifully by Guru EFX(that's a studio I guess?). Its a beautiful fun flurry of action and big time cartoon drama. A+. 9 out of 10

Amazing Spiderman #592: Wow. McKone is an amazing Spider-artist. I just love it. He was always good but since he joined the Spidey cabal after BND he has been at another level. he nails the costume and movement perfectly. Nice detailed backgrounds, fluid transitions and layouts. Great characterization and expression..which he nails throughout this issue...especially the naughty last page. Shame on you Mark Waid. Waid delivers a tremendous issue full for rich characters and dialogue. I love it. a great issue, kick yourself for staying away from the best Spidey in 15 years. 8.5 out of 10.

Mighty Avengers #25: Way too silly. The writing is down right silly. I think outside of a few moments most of the characters I have been reading for close to 30 years sound nothing like they are supposed to. Pietro like a high school hot head? Pym was completely off. The dialogue was terrible, especially the childish nature of the CABAL's interaction. These are the Earth's power elite of villains? And the thing with Loki/Wanda? Orchestrating things is horrible. It has never been in her nature to lead or plot. Its a complete departure from her characters. Other then that the issue managed to be fun and full of action. The art was definitely an improvement. I actually like Sandoval's version of the Pym "Wasp" outfit, and he really brought some serious dynamic energy to the action. Even the static talking heads stuff was great. I think there are a few tweaks needed. One that's a horrible design for Quicksilver. It sucks. What's with the "darker" green half moon and the awkward silver bolt? Someone needs to fix that ASAP as well as remember what his hair is supposed to look like. Second...the inking. The lines where very week and sometimes incomplete. Thinker outlines would have really made Sandoval's figures pop off the page. The major problem i have with the doesn't feel Mighty any more. 6 out of 10.

New Avengers #52: Ok. Aside from that NOT being the Son-of-Satan...Bendis delivered another kick-ass issue of New avengers. I have to admit the dialogue is wonderful. Fun, character driven..clever. The bit with Clint and Bucky getting Spidey on the Quinjet was brilliant comic banter. You get all that fun and a really solid bit of action as Strange tells of his encounter with the Hood in smalltown New Jersey. Great stuff...and I loved the few pages of the Hood with Madame Masque (she has got to be super hot! LOL). This story is really building for me, a face of with Dormammu...these guys are gonna need some serious fire power. The art was very good, great transition from the powerfully stylized Bachalo to the loose line work of Tan. Both do an amazing job here...although I will say Tan much have been rushed. He can be a little messy, but some of his work here is more messy then usual. Even with that that...the entire issue is dynamic. great job guys. 8.5 out of 10

Incredible Hercules #128: Oh i so enjoy this comic. I will start with the art. Clean, open lined brilliance. This Dietrich Smith is new to me, but he can draw a comic. Great action and expression. Incredible layouts and dynamism. Good detail. This was a wonderful super fight handled like a true pro. Kudos to Marvel for adding this guy to the Herc line up. He is amazing. Pak and Van Lente deliver big. the Olympus group vs the (dark) Avengers vs Herc and friends. Fun and clever. Great dialogue and a hell of a last page. Heh. Very funny. But what i loved is Herc. Tossing around the big yellow pretty boy Sentry like a ragdoll. Awesome. This comic remains one of the pieces of joy in my comic stack every week. I really recommend it. Clever, fun and action packed, I hope it never ends. 9 out of 10

Thor #601: as much as I love it. It lacks something without Coipel on art chores. This is his book. Not that Djurdjevic is bad, his previous issues were excellent...but this is a rough, maybe rushed for him. Things look awkward and off.Still he delivers good storytelling and drama. I certainly like his Doom. JMS brings us another powerful chapter in this mythic version of the Thor series. Its funny Hercules is pure comics with myth thrown in for flavor, and this is mythic storytelling using comic. there is a difference, not sure I am explaining it. But both are great. but different. I love the dialogue between Doom, Baldur and Loki. And Loki going to Blake. the best part...I believe the Executioner will be back. 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Aris Asks Chris Eliopoulos

Chris Eliopoulos is creator of his own web strip Misery Loves Herman, long time professional letter extraordinaire and writer of the the up coming Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers (how awesome is that!) from Marvel in May 2009.

1. Where would the world be without the Greeks?

Without democracy amongst a million other things. :)

2. My last name is Iliopoulos, similar, are we related?

Could be.

3. Lets start out with Pet Avengers (because it's awesome!), how did you come up with the concept?

My editor at Marvel said he wanted me to come up with a book about Lockjaw and a bunch of other animals. I picked out which animals I wanted to use and got to work.

4. When you pitched it, did any one look at you strange?

I think there were a few up at Marvel who wondered if I lost my mind, but enough thought it was fun and an interesting take of the Marvel U.

5. How did you pick your team? Is Lockjaw actually the leader?

Lockjaw sets this book in motion and he and Frog Thor co-lead. I really went through the list of all the Marvel animals and picked out which ones I thought were cool or might play well off each other.

6. Can you tell us anything about the series that haven't been addressed in the solicits?

I can't say too much, but I will say that a character may die.

7. Anything else out there from Marvel that has you doing writing duty?

I just finished writing the framing sequences for the Marvel Assistant Editor's book and I still write and draw Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius 4 times a year.

8. When did you start reading comics?

I mostly read comic strips, never really read comic books except Richie Rich, Casper, etc. as a kid. Never got into the super hero books much.

9. Right now what are some titles you are really enjoying?

Honestly, I have so little time, I don't really keep up on anything.
Usually I'll find stuff at the bookstores and buy collections. Also really enjoying webcomics now.

10. Now that you are writing are there any artists or projects you are dying to get your hands on?

I tend to lean toward non-mainstrean (superhero) books. I like doing these fringe books, so I just keep trying to come up with new things in the Marvel U to play with.

11. How did you get into Lettering?

I got an internship at Marvel in college, was hired when I graduated and one of my friends taught me how to letter. I had studied type and graphic design, so it seemed a natural fit. I moved into the lettering department and a few years later I went freelance and have been ever since.

12. You created the fonts Marvel uses digitally now, can you explain what that means?

All the fonts anyone uses on a computer were created using a font-creation program like Fontographer. I've made a large amount that look like hand lettering and sound effects. Me and the people who work for me use them to letter the Marvel comics you know and love.

13. For a split second, when you were doing that, were you worried you would be out of work?

Well, I created the fonts for myself and my team. Marvel has licensed a few of them, but I've had a very good relation with Marvel and they have always done well by me. So, I don't think I was worried much.

14. With the increased use of digital media for lettering, inking, coloring and effects do you think any of the craft or artistry is being lost in comics?

Nope. I just think they are new tools. It's the people who use them and how they use them that make the difference. Just like computer animation is only as good as the people making the films, some people can do great work in comics on the computer and others can just be bad. It's the people, not the tools.

15. Why do you think Larsen wanted you to letter Dragon so long the traditional way?

He loves the traditional way. It's his right as a creator to do what he wants on his book. Just like on my webcomic, I letter it by hand, draw in brush and ink and do my Marvel work on the computer. On my work, I can do what makes me happy and so does Erik. I think he just happens to really like the organic feel of hand lettering and, personally, I think it goes better with his art.

16. People should really check out Misery Loves Sherman, can you tell us how this strip came about?

I've always wanted to do a daily strip and I've come close to syndication, but I felt that the opportunities in the newspaper market were drying up and I saw a lot of successful creators doing webcomics and felt that this may be the future of cartoons. So, I work on the idea, wrote it, drew it, got a webpage and started posting a strip every weekday. It's great in that the web cuts out the middleman--no syndicate, no editor, no distributor. Just you and your audience. Seems real pure.

17. Greatest comics strip of all time?

Krazy Kat, Barnaby, Pogo, Peanuts, Bloom County and Calvin and Hobbs.

18. With the decline of newspaper circulation, what do you think strip creators like yourself can do to get your projects out there?

Move to the web. I have plans to do my own kids book and instead of going to publishers right away, I'm going to post to the web and when it's done, offer it to publishers. Web strips seems to be growing and improving. The cream is rising to the top and the really professional creators are gathering audiences. It's like being a part of the original astronaut corp. This is the ground floor.

19. You have been doing stories about Franklin Richards for some time now, how did you get that going?

A number of years ago, I pitched the idea to Marvel's publisher and it was rejected. I mentioned it to C.B. Cebulski a year later and they loved it and we got started on it. At first Franklin was a back up feature, but people seemed to like it enough to warrant a full comic and we've been going strong since.

20. Do you think comic strip sensibilities are appreciated by the "capes" comic book audience?

Not really, but the goal of Franklin is not to go after the people who already read comics, but those who don't. It's designed to get children reading and parents having something they can read with them. We, as an industry, have to reach out to new markets to keep growing.

21. What are the greatest influences on your work over all?

Charles Schulz, Walt Kelly, Berkley Breathed, Bill Watterson, Erik Larsen.

22. What are the chances of an all Greek creator comic coming out from DC(Wonder Woman) or Marvel(Hercules)? Don't you think that would be crack the internets in half huge?

It could happen--wait I write, draw and letter Franklin. Does that count?

23. Back to Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers(because it is AWESOME!), is it set in continuity?


24. Chances of a series of events starring the Pet Avengers like Marvel has been doing with their Galactic characters since Annihilation?

Anything is possible. If Marvel feels it's something they want to publish, it will be done.

25. Any parting advice for the guys and girls out there who dream of being a being a comic creator?

Stop trying to break into Marvel or DC and create your own work. Use the web--it's much cheaper than paying for printing. When you're good enough, the Marvel's and DCs will be grabbing you.

Please check out more of Chris' strip at it is constantly hilarious and make sure to pick up Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers9because it's AWESOME! :) out in May from Marvel Comic.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Retro-review Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-man #52 (March 1981)

"the Day of the Hero Killers!'. that was a quite a title. Written by Roger Stern, it's a dense emotional story and the end of the original White Tiger.

Basically a para-military organization run by Gideon Mace (who has a mace for a hand!, really) has declared war on superheroes, and the first casualty left for dead on the steps of the Daily Bugle is amulet enhanced karate powerhouse White Tiger.

Fortunately for White Tiger he is disposed of at the feet of his pal Peter Parker. And after a brief moment on the street and an appearance by J. Jonah Jameson and Robbie, is heralded to the hospital where Peter begins to agonize over the potential loss of his friend, as he reflects on the continuous losses in his life, Gwen, Uncle Ben, etc...

After a brief conversation with gruff insightful Harlem PI Nathanial Alexander Blackbyrd, Pete decides to go hunt down Mace. And he takes down the Mace handed culprit and his military thugs lickity-splitz. It's no contest, except in a fury of gunfire the thugs gun down their own leader.

Spidey can't take it any more and smacks them silly. He gets back to his friend for some more emotional insights about some of the choices and problems with being a hero, and in Tiger's case, the almost drug like addiction to the amulets, which he gives to Blackbyrd to return to the Sons of the Tiger to safe keep. Hector Ayala moves on boards a bus, to a new normal life.

It's a fun story overall and less about the action, seriously, this Gideon Mace can't even be imagined to be a threat to Spidey, who easily disposes of him. But you get some good old school emotional exploration in a very dense script.

The art was handled by Rick Leonardi, and although I read the issue long ago, hadn't realized he was drawing comics way back to the early 80's. But here he is. It's not the trademark Leonardi, who's distinctive style is easily recognizable to long time comic fans. It's a little raw and awkward, some of the poses and choices of PoV are a little odd. And the inks are pretty much a sign of the times, heavy lines and thick dark brush strokes that was common in the 70's and early Eighties. Still you get the story in classic comic book form, but all together really unremarkable.

The cover is a nice graphic by Frank Miller and Wiacek...even here, you can see Miller was drawing in traditional comic style of the time.

All in all it's a good read, and glad I got see the only White Tiger worth mentioning in comics again, I miss him. 7 out of 10.

Aris Asks Jamal Igle

Jamal Igle has been drawing comics for 15 years and is currently artist on Supergirl for DC, he also teaches and lectures on comic art at the Art Students League in NYC.

1. Most people don't realise how long you have been a professional comic artist, when did you start drawing comics professionally?

About 1993, I guess. That's when I got my first regular assignment for a small publisher called Majestic entertainment

2. You graduated from New York's Art and Design High School and teach at the Art Students League, how important is formal art education to drawing comics?

I recommend it actually. I was always told that you have to know the rules first in order to break them and i think that's true. With superhero comics especially, there is such a reliance on knowing anatomy, perspective, and observation. You can learn to draw comics on your own, which is what happened to me. However, learning how to draw properly first was the best thing I could do for myself as an artist.

3. What were the first book you read that really made you a comics fan?

It was an issue of Captain America, I couldn't tell you the number but It was drawn by Paul Neary.

4. Creator's who's work influence your love of comics and art?

Steve Rude and Dave Stevens.

5. The work you are doing on Supergirl is awesome, how long do you see your self continuing on drawing duty?

I'll be on the book for a bit longer, there are some things being discussed but it's too early to discuss.

6. Would you say this is the best work you have put out so far?

Artistically i think Supergirl is the best work I've done so far.

7. On the average how long does it take to do one page?

Depending on the detail anywhere between 4 and 12 hours

8. You have a wonderful family, do you have your studio in your house? What are the challenges of working from home?

Yeah, i actually sectioned of a corner in the living room. With a 1 year old it's better for me to work at home so we have a babysitter during the day until 5 pm, I take over, feed the baby, give her a bath and put her to bed. I cook dinner for my wife and we relax for a bit. when Karine goes to bed I sometimes work during the night for a few hours. I try to spend as much time as possible with Karine and Catherine.

9. What character or title are you dying to get a shot drawing at DC?

You know, until recently I hadn't considered him, but I wove to try and do an Aquaman book.

10. As a professional artist are you ever intimidated by other artists?

I'm in awe of some artists, but never intimidated.

11. Can you give us any idea what's next for Jamal Igle at DC?

Something big but I can't discuss it right now.

12. You have drawn a variety of characters over the last 10 to 15 years, which title has been the most challenging?

G.I.Joe. I realized that sometimes you can be a fan of something as a kid , and not wanting anything to do with it as an adult. It was two of the most painfully awful issues I've ever drawn.

13. When you come on a title, do you actively try to tweak the character design or leave your own creative stamp on the character?

It depends, With Firestorm the changes were already in place when Stuart Moore took over the book, so I was allowed to change the costume. With Nightwing I tried to stick very closely to what was already established for the look of the character.With Supergirl I actively tweaked what I thought didn't work for the character design wise, again with DC's approval and encouragement.

14. Who would win in a fight....Supergirl, Mary Marvel or Powergirl?

Oh that's a tough one, but I'd give the edge to Supergirl.
15. What do you think can really be done editorially to reduce late comics? Can it be helped?

Not really, and I don't think that's the answer most people want to hear. Things happen, people get sick, people quit, some artists just aren't as fast as others.People Jim Lee or John Cassaday are late because they have other things going on outside of comics. It's just the way it is.

16. Do you think digital comics will ever completely replace floppies?

Eventually but not in the time frame some people think they will.In order for it to happen, it would have to be an across the board change to all of the publishing industry. Everyone, magazines, newspapers, prose books would all have to go paperless at the same time and you'd have to have an inexpensive E-reader that people would be satisfied with.
17. Are there any characters at Marvel, that given the chance you would love to draw?

Captain America and Daredevil.

18. Will Blackest Night crossover into Supergirl?

I don't know yet.

19. I have read a recent interview regarding some of your thoughts on creator owned projects, cost aside, you have to some ideas, any chance you will get to those eventually?

I'd like to think so. In some form or another, and It's just about the money.If I had the capital, You'd only see my once a year promoting whatever novel I was working on and then I'd disappeared into the woods like Big Foot

20. Is Supergirl an all ages book?

It's as much of an all ages book as Byrne and Claremont's X-men. it's violent in spots and there is some blood, although I try to keep it to a minimum.

21. If your daughter wanted to be a comic artist you would say?

I'd encourage her but I'd also let her know much work it is and how difficult it is to get into the business. It's doubly hard if you're a "Junior" like John Romita jr., Adam and Andy Kubert, or Leah Moore. She'd be unfairly compared to me or accused of being a recipient of nepotism.
22. Do you have any words of advice for some one reading this that has aspirations of being a comic artist?

Be patient, be open to suggestions and be a professional. Keep your commitments and your promises.
23. If you weren't drawing comics you would be....?

A Chef, maybe open my own restaurant.

24. By your estimation, greatest comic artist of all time?

Alex Raymond was the best, hands down.

Find out more about Jamal at his website and blog

And Make sure to pick up, good, action packed comics.

Aris Asks Oliver Selby

Oliver Selby is a rabid fan of the legendary Walt Simonson and all things Thor. And is actually living his dream running the Walt Simonson Appreciation Society on Facebook.

1. Let's get it out of the way...What is it about Walt Simonson you love so much?

1983, walk into Comic Showcase with my brother, see Thor #337, hair stands on end, read entire run over the next 45 issues, decide Walt is God.

2. At this rate do you think Walt, or his wife might think your a little bit....fanatical?

I only got back into comics as I was banned from riding (and crashing) motobikes, had retired from Kung Fu competitions and was spending all my time looking after my daughter. So far the great Walt and Weezie have yet to tell me to bugger off, so I'm happy.

3. How has been interacting with you favorite creator and have you ever met him?

Met the pair of them in Bristol in May 2008. I decided to go the con the night before after a few beers, and wrote up one of my favourite peices of dialogue, the last 2 pages of Thor #379. Printed it out and got Walt to sign it and have a photo done. Went home a very happy chap.

4. Whats with the picture with the Thor Helmet and Mjolnir?

My brother bought me the helmet (bloody awful re-design job that it is) and a year later I picked up a ridiculously expensive Mjolnir replica. Before my better half could laugh at me, I plonked the hat on, hefted the hammer in one hand and the camera in the other and got a shot. Later I realised I was in front of my daughters pink bedroom, which makes me look like the Norse God of Interior Decorating

5. Is Thor your favorite character?

Have Charlton just been relegated?*


6. When did you start reading comics?

About 9 or ten. Either Asterix or The Beano

7. What books are you reading now?

Crikey, monthly only Thor since the Crunch, but Incredible Hercules in trade, Yotsuba, The Boys.

8. What creators work do you really enjoy?

Matt Fraction deserves a knighthood for his initial Thor trilogy, such was it's utter fun, pomp and headbanging sillyness. Fred Van Lente for both Action Philosophers and Incredible Hercules, Simone Lia for Fluffy (one of the greatest books in history) Millar and Hitch in every thing they do, Garth Ennis, Bendis, Ellis, Joe Sacco, Gaiman and the mad mage of Northampton

9. How did you get involved with the Walt Simonson Appreciation Society?

After I met Walt, I created a Facebook group and a few stalwarts (Youri, Gar Jones, the Peytons, Mr Dodsworth) joined. Less than a year later we have nearly 500 members, including Mr Simonson himself, Fred Van Lente, Dougie Braithwaite, Dan Brereton and so many other creators its like Disneyland for geeks.

10. How much time to you take gathering information and administering that corner of fandom on Facebook?

20 minutes each workday. It's not a big job.

11. Obviously you love Thor. What are some of your favorite Thor stories?

1) Volstagg and Agnar of Vanaheim have a chat (around issue 340) 2) Thor gets the living crap kicked out of him by everybody after Hela curses him with the bones of an old lady (373-378) 3) Thor gives his Henry V type speech, end of #379. IT IS THE SINGLE GREATEST "F&$K YEAH!" MOMENT IN HISTORY 4) Issue 380. Best. Comic. Ever.

12. Have you read any Thor prior to Walt's legendary debut on issue #337?

Yep, and man it was disappointing.

13. JMS and Coipel are having explosive and signature run on Thor, how do you think that stacks up against Walt's incarnation of the character?

I truly love it. Coipel is a giant now after this. And JMS can have a beer any time he wants after the way he humbled Iron Man in issue 3 :)

14. Do you think social networking sites like Facebook , message boards and Myspace has been good for fans, and interacting with creators?

Good grief, of course. In 1984, Art Adams sent a letter to Marvel complaining that Walt drew a skateboarder at a ridiculous angle in issue 337. Now I can read what he does day to day. I am conversing with Gods of the industry and life is good.

15. Do you think the price of comics matters, won't the remaining fans collecting monthly pick the comics anyway?

$3.99 spelt the end of 90% of my pull list. Sorry Marvel.

16. Do you think monthly comics will survive going digital?

I still find it hard to enjoy digital comics. I've got the entire runs of FF, Iron Man, Daredevil, X-Men and Thor on my hard drive but almost never look at them, whereas printed matter is always to hand.

17. Out side of Thor, who is your favorite supporting character from Thor comics?

Thanos, Spider-Man and Piotr Rasputin

18. How do you feel about female Loki?

A bit like watching Laurel and Hardy doing a porn film. It’s wrong but I can’t help watching anyway.

19. Do you own Star Slammers?

No – to my eternal regret and shame.

20. Do you have any aspirations to write or draw comics?

Good lord man, I can barely draw stick figures. In fact, my 5 year old is better than me.Nope, I’m a fan. As John Cleese said, I may not know much about art, but I know what I like.

21. This has been a Thor-centric interview, but lets talk THOR: the Motion Picture anyway....what will it have to be about for people to get it?

Answer from brain:Lord of the Rings duplicate with tender moments between Thor and Sif.

Answer from heart:I don’t care about anybody else. I want to see Thor and Balder fleeing Hel, Skurge knocking out the blonde bombshell with a right hander, nicking 2 M-16’s, telling the lads to have a beer for him later and holding the bridge at Gjallerbru. At that point I will have exploded with joy so will not care a jot about whether Branagh chose the right key grip or whatever.

22. Who would win in a fight Thor or Superman?

Superman would win. The world would stop turning if he didn’t. I am only saying this in case Sarah Horrocks reads this as she knows DC inside out. If I chose Thor she’d crucify me.

23. What games are you playing on the Wii(and you better not be exercising using the Wii fit)?

Wii Sports, Kung Fu Panda and Excite Truck

24. Take a moment to tell us about your blog( (actually a great fun blog))?

Don’t read it, it’s at least 6 months out of date. Give me a few weeks and I’ll get it shipshape.

25. It's been a joy the last few years getting to know you, but I have to break this to you any way, Hercules can kick Thor's a$$. ;)

Hey, if you read Thor: Blood Oath, the Nordic one himself agrees that Hercules would win in a fist fight. “After all, he IS Hercules”. I love Herc and his new series is a perfect blend of Greek mythology and Marvel mythology.

Check out Olver's Blog

And if you roam Facebook check out the Walt Simonson Appreciation Society it's a great fun place full of information and oliver's own Thorific sense of humor.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Comics Capsule Reviews 4/15/2009

Teen Titans #69: was in the store, checked it out, looked like a new start type issue and I decided to give it a shot. unfortunately I won't be back next month. It really isn't even the writing or the art. I just do not care about the characters. Not one bit. There is plenty of dialogue and interaction but some how it was pretty hollow...and the humor was...well not really funny or clever. With all the great things DC seems to be doing I think it's time to start cleaning up the Titansverse. i am not beating up the creative team, it's just plain not interesting. The stuff with the FACE was just plain terrible, as was how they exited candidates from the issue and finally walked away with the new line up. i think there should have been more action..less silliness. the art is good, with pretty utilitarian storytelling. but fell victim to digital coloring. This book needed to be brighter and more vibrant. i would not say it was bad, just nothing that grabbed me enough to pick up the next issue or be interested in following these characters. 5 out of 10.

Amazing Spiderman #591: much more satisfying then I thought. Clever storytelling by Slott to move plot points into position and explanation of the time distortion of the Macroverse. I really enjoyed the discussion and revelation Peter and the FF have. And I found myself enjoying Slott's Thing and definitely the last few pages were a surprise, gonna be very interesting in NYC for Spidey now for certain. The art was very nice, a different cleaner style from Kitson. Which I really liked. And Eaglesham did a terrific job on his portion. I love his Harry Osborne. all in all an Enjoyable story. 7 out of 10.

Trinity #46: another solid piece by Busiek who move the good guy side of the board together in this control for the metaphysical soul of the Earth. I loved the one page sequence in the Batcave, nice touch Busiek. Bagley's art seems a little rushed and raw but still brimming with great storytelling. I also liked pulling together the events on Earth-3 and Dreambound collecting Warhound from frozen wastes. good stuff. 7.5 out of 10.

Secret Six #8: a very nice character driven interlude. Simone is magic all day on this book. I love the exploration of the burgeoning relationships. "wonderfully wicked and hilariously twisted" is an understatement. and the added bonus of Ragdoll's dream from the locked trunk of Deadshot's ride was a nice little addition. Wonderful. I love me some Jeanette. Her toe to toe with Wonder Woman? i think I saw that in Origins and omens...can't wait. The art by Jose Rodrguez is a nice fill in for Nicola Scott. His style is similar yet less refined and nuanced. He does a very nice job conveying the script with gesture and facial expression and even handles the bits of violence very nicely. Kudos for another a plus installment of the Secret six. 8 out of 10.

R.E.B.E.L.S. #3: Bedard is awesome. Vril is pulling his group together and its a joy to read. love the characterization of Vril and finding Strata and Bounder. Great characterization, fun dialogue and developments. Nice moments of acction and explanations and finally a the Omega men come face to face with Starro? well it looks like Starro is in the body of a female Lobo..which means some dead Omega men!! The art is beautiful, clean crisp easy to follow, nice unique designs. Tremendous work by Clarke through out. The coloring also very nice and clean and makes the entire book shine. This is a great new addition to my monthly read list, I highly recommend it. 8 out of 10.

Captain America #49: Wow. What a wonderful exploration of Sharon...what is she dreaming about? I know this isn't a casual fill in...the images in her dream will be revealed. Nice touch with Falcon looking for the 50's era Cap...and where "Steve" winds up. Where is this going? The art is very nice. Luke Ross is an excellent fill in here, and with the color it continues seamlessly fro Epting's established work on the series. And here we up issue #50...can't wait. 7.5 out of 10.

Action Comics #876: Barrow's comes out of nowhere and blows the doors off action in the latest installment of Action comics. intense is an understatement really. I am literally at a loss for words here. Ever panel of this bursting with intensity the fight seen in the Fortress of Solitude is illustrated with intense dynamic power. You get a feeling crisp clear in every panel of whats at stake and power levels here. not to mention it's well rendered, easy to follow and wonderfully illustrated. the emotions are there..gesture..perfect comic art. A definite stylistic melody of the best of Reis and Pacheco. DC do what ever you can to keep this kid. He draws it, I'll buy it. Rucka does just as powerful a job with the narration and dialogue. Emotive and powerful. We hardly know these characters, but the intensity of the interaction and language brings it all together wonderfully. I love what they have done with Christopher, which is crazy, because i hated the idea of the character. Now I love him. Great job, nice ending. The Superman family of books are very strong. Your really missing a good thing if you aren't picking this book up. 9 out of 10.

Green Lantern Corps #35: Month after month Tomasi and Gleason deliver the most visceral, nuanced, character driven stories around. The Jail break on Oa, with Guy LEADING the GL's to stop all hell from breaking loose. and Yat and Arisa descending on Daxam and taking out some sinestro's and trying to inspire and educate the Xenophobic fundamentalists!!! I love Arkillo. and Finally..Sinestro on have a chat with his Daughter. Man this comic has it all. Action, adventure, surprise, fun....and outstanding art by Patrick Gleason. It's just beautiful stuff. Nice thick lines and organic figure work. Varied and interesting aliens. balls out action and raw displays of gore and violence. I love this comic. Another book by DC everyone should be reading. 9 out of 10

The preview of Conway and Batista's Last Days of Animal man in the back of this weeks DC titles look very good. I am definately going to give it a shot.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Aris Asks Miguel Tegler

Miguel is administrator of the Millar's lil' corner of the internets) Forum.

1. When did you start reading comics?

Probably around age 5 or 6, those 60s cartoons that Marvel put out were played in the early morning before school along with Adam West's Batman. That's what got me interested in the characters. I was amazed to find them in printed format at the 7-11 near the church we went too. Graciously my parents bought me 3 books. Fantastic Four, Marvel Team-up and The Avengers. I don't remember the exact issues. I do remember that they didn't make much sense to me. Reading comics wasn't really a habit until I was 12.

2. Do you think comics are as good now as they were then?

I might not have said yes 10 years ago, but the quality is up on modern comics with regards to art, writing and production to a degree that can't be argued. However the books from my childhood were a lot more innovative then they appeared at the time. Think about Starlin's Warlock series, there's half an issue where the main character is contemplating his mortality. That's not something we usually remember when we're kids. Mostly remember the first time the Juggernaut appeared in Amazing Spider-man. Sure Spider-man vs the Juggernaut is cool, but the Warlock book was a lot more thoughtful then I remembered comics being.

3. What comics are your reading now?

All of Mark's books obviously, Kick-Ass, Fantastic Four, Wolverine, and War Heroes. Looking forward to Ultimate Avengers. Besides that Thunderbolts, Guardians of the Galaxy, Nova, Captain America, and Captain Britain.

4. who are your favorite characters?

Hawkeye, no powers, unlucky with love, his first death was an utter embarrassment (NOT LIKE THIS!!!) and still he pushes on. Gotta admire that. The Thing for his gruff demeanor and tortured soul, Marvel's own Cyrano. Thor, because of his speech, I know some readers and writers hate it, but it's great fun. Doctor Doom, every great villain should have an over-inflated sense of self-importance. I've always seen Doom as a member of the Fantastic Four family. Think of him as a crazy uncle.

5. Who are your favorite creators?

No one beats Alan Moore. It's not even close. I may not like everything Moore does, but I would always say it's brilliant. Next would be Alan Davis who is always fantastic. Roy Thomas, Mark Millar (obviously), Mike Mignola, Steve Rude, Kurt Busiek, Frank Miller.
Probably a many more I'm not thinking of.

6. Do you believe that comics will eventually go digital?

Absolutely, it's inevitable. Printing costs. Paper costs will continue to rise. eBook readers like Amazon's Kindle, will continue to get better and better with quality and faster then anyone expects.
Someone did a study last year and discovered the NYTimes could save millions of dollars, if they sent a Kindle to everyone who subscribed rather then actually print the paper daily. The real challenge here is the political/social issue not technological one as someone might expect. Both of Chicago's major newspapers have filed for bankruptcy, the Christian Science Monitor and a few other major newspapers have gone "web-only", this isn't a bump in the road for print media, it's a very clear trend.
I understand the nostalgia and loyalties, anyone who reads comics does, but we all need to get over this.

7. How did you get involved with the Millarworld forum?

I joined up when it was on Xfan originally. Made friends with Jen Hook, who set the site up originally. I became the tech guy for the site after the original guy went AWOL. Jen moved on about a year later and turned over the reigns to me.

8. I been a regular there for a few years, haven't seen many flame wars, why do you think that is?

We try to shut down cliques or anyone that feels a sense of entitlement. Everyone is welcome as long as they welcome everyone.
That or the state-of-the-art sprinkler system.

9. Millar started the site I guess to promote his work, but the content is generally in the comics area isn't always Millar-centric, is that ever an issue?

No. Worse thing we get are people who simply come on the forum to plug whatever thing they're working on and not participate with the rest of the discussions. Even that is pretty infrequent. As far as I know this is always the way Mark wanted the site to evolve, with a few exceptions

10. How do you choose mods?

The process has changed over the years. It used to be very democratic, but we've just picked people in recent years, for a variety of reasons. I'm very happy with the group we have.
Sounds like horse$h!t doesn't it? Real answer, I ask myself: Who would Rip Torn choose? And the rest is easy.

11. What are some of the perks of being the Admin on Millar's message boards(I know you get previews!)?

Previews are the only tangible perks. Or at least the only ones I'm willing talk about. Actually the previews might be a bluff on Millar's part. We might only say we get them in order to rile up the proletariat.

12. What is "Area-51"?

I think you're referring to Xanadu. It's everything Kublai Khan and Olivia Newton John say it is.

13. Seriously, what's the difference between a Mod and an Admin?

Admins have all our own hair. The mods are members of the Hair Club for Men. You forgot the Moderators Supreme, which is okay because no one knows what their deal is.

14. Is there a VIP area for creators on the site?

Just rumors of one. Rumors are easier to clean and maintain.

15. Back to comics. Do you have any aspirations to be a comic creator?

Not anytime soon. If I do it will probably be something along the lines of what Jay Stephens did in the 90s. I love those books.

16. Do you think comic sales even matter any more?

I'm not sure what that means. Like the number of books or the sales are irrelevant compared to the amount of cash comic companies make from other media, like movies and video games? The personal answer is:
They don't matter to me. I expect most books I like will get canceled, just like most TV shows I like get canceled. I'm a walking niche market.

17. Is continuity in a comics universe a bad or good thing?

A shared universe of continuity for characters? Well for the more dedicated reader it seems to be a must. If you didn't like that sort of thing, you wouldn't read Marvel or DC books.

18. What do you think of late comics?

They don't bug me much. I'd rather wait for a great product, then a sub-standard fill in. Goes back to your continuity question. having a different artist and/or writer, ruins the flow of the story. I imagine though, for retailers, it results in a lot of hair pulling.

19. Have you ever met Mark Millar?

I have. Very nice person and much easier to understand in the flesh.

20. Has Millar changed since he's gone all Hollywood now?

Not really, we might lose him to the NY crowd when musical version of the Ultimates comes out. You should see the lyrics for the "DO YOU THINK THIS LETTER ON MY FOREHEAD STANDS FOR FRANCE?!?" song.

21. Chances of Millar doing one of these interviews?

I will ask.

22. Back to the forum, How much actual admin work does into the site?

Backups, upgrades, database optimization, new account approval. Rinse.
Repeat. The other big task is conflict resolution. Usually sorted by setting someone on fire. Which takes us back to the sprinkler system.
Have I mentioned it's state-of-the-art?

23. Are there many complaints of members and subscribers PMing(Private Messaging) creators?

Nope. Let's hope it remains that way.

24. Why do you think people sign on to the forum "anonymously"?

You mean stealth mode members or lurkers? In any case: Fear. Probably the bloodcurdling type.

25. Aside from the volunteers and personal investment, are there any costs associated with running the forum?

It's a Toyota Corolla-type of site. The server, the forum software, the domain registrations, add up to be a bit expensive, but not over top.

26. Do you and the mod/admin staff at Millarword forums ever kick yourselves in the a$$ for not making Aris a mod?

I don't think Rip Torn knows you well enough. You're number may still come up. Keep those fingers crossed.

27. any final words or plugs?

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful and stop using the word "webinar".

Make sure to visit the Millarworld forums @ , it's great community, lots of fun.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Aris Asks Brendan McGinley

Brendan is a comic writer and founder of Bankshot Comics, and is currently working on Heist, Invisible, INC., And Dose. He also produces a webcomic called Hannibal Goes to Rome, which has been featured on Zuda and is currently on Shadowline Web Comics.

1. When did you start reading comics?

According to my family, comics were the first thing I read; someone left a copy of MAD within reach, and I've been committed to satire and sequentials ever since. But as an enthusiast, I guess when I was 10 or so, a friend took me with him to the comic shop. I'm not sure what I ended up buying. I think it was TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES and SAMURAI CAT, which was actually a pretty good book.

2. What were the first books that blew your mind?

GRIMJACK was the first book I ever collected. That insane grin on the eponymous character's face whenever he'd get into a fight was bone-rattling. I remember thinking, "What kind of sicko smiles at these kinds of odds?" Of course, any psychopath would do, but what made GrimJack work was that he'd brood and cry and fight for folks he loved. I think that's an underrated book. It's like The Shadow and Philip Marlowe had a kid.

INFINITY GAUNTLET blew not only my mind, but even my classmates who didn't read comics. We had no idea who Thanos was, but he appeared to have no eyes and he just turned Wolverine's bones to rubber! I think that's a pretty good yardstick for a Marvel event villain; how brutally can he dispatch Wolverine? If the answer doesn't impress a 10-year-old, you don't get to write the summer crossover.

WILDCATS 3.0 and PLANETARY aren't the formative books of my youth, but they muscle their way on here because you can't keep them out. Has anyone else noticed the only superhero books to really advance the genre this millennium all came out of Wildstorm? The former's "corporation as superhero" angle informed INVISIBLE, INC. a lot.

3. Who are your favorite comic characters?

Just about everyone from LOVE & ROCKETS.

I really like Guy Gardner for his contrariness. That's a character who always loses. He's a jerk, nobody likes him, and being a hero costs him more than it gains. And yet he KEEPS ON TRYING. That's much more heroic and interesting to me than Superman, who's got a major stake in Metropolis and Lois Lane and the world at large. That's just a fellow tending his garden.

Now of course, that's not what Superman originally was; the idea behind it was great -- "Gee, if I had superpowers, I'd make everything fair!" But I've never been interested in Superman as a book because it's always about the world around Superman, and I simply do not care about Bibbo or the Newsboy Legion or Jimmy Olsen's acting career. Superman is a wonderful concept: a man who can overcome any obstacle eschews personal glory to improve the lot of others. That's heroism: "I'm Superman. How can I help?" All-Star Superman is great like that. Yeah, Guy Gardner.

The entire Giffen/DeMatteis era of JUSTICE LEAGUE was like a family to me in junior high. Good, clean fun comics.

A friend browbeat me into reading Joe Kelly's DEADPOOL, which is terrific -- extending the character to cartoon genius. The issue where they invaded an actual Stan Lee/Steve Ditko Spider-Man is the funniest comic I've ever read. I mean essentially, Deadpool is Daffy Duck right at that point where Merrie Melodies became Looney Tunes -- sometimes he's a kid on a sugar buzz; sometimes he's a greedy jerk. I like Slapstick for similar reasons; they'd make a good team-up, wouldn't they?

I like the Punisher, who I think has more depth than most folks are willing to recognize. The problem is those damned movies always try to make the attack that killed his family personal and the subsequent vendetta about revenge. They just don't understand that when for a man able to survive anything, random violence IS personal. His gift becomes his curse because he had a picnic in the park. Why has no one let Garth Ennis have his way with a film script?

I like villains; I like Magneto and Venom and Sinestro -- evil twins always make the best foes, because they're instantaneous foils. Sinestro especially. Geoff Johns has done a terrific job building on what Giffen & Jones started.

4. Who are your favorite creators?

Well, I could say Alan Moore and Grant Morrison, but what MORE could I say? They're absolute titans. Warren Ellis and Garth Ennis will show you how to be a better person through perversion; I'd say those two helped me develop as not just a writer but a human being. I marvel at Geoff Johns' ability to turn in 100 scripts a month with no dip in quality.

On that point, Mark Waid, John Ostrander and Peter David never get enough good words written about them. Both are terrific plotters who know how to pin motive and emotion onto their structural points. I know that sounds highly technical, so here's what I'm getting it: they will never cheat you. They know how to make your jaw drop, they can make you care about a D-list character's supporting cast, and they'll mix some tears and laughter into the story.

Brian Azzarello, he's aces -- bloody knuckles, broken noses and bent morality.

Gerard Jones -- when he's on (MOSAIC, AMERICAN SECRETS), there's absolutely nobody better.

I have no idea what artists are out there anymore. I assume they're all great and I continue to wish I could draw like Adam Hughes or Frank Cho.

Evan Dorkin -- I'm jealous of his humor and his art. Man, I love his stuff. Hold on, I have to go read CIRCLING THE DRAIN.

Winsor McCay's been a huge influence on me. That's most evident in a couple stories not yet seen. His grave's not far from my house, and I've visited it a couple of times.

5. What are you currently reading?

Whatever my roommate brings home and stashes in the bathroom. Most of it's garbage.

6. You think $3.99 comics will kill the floppy?

You're asking the wrong Quixote. I designed a $5 indie comic at 56 pages with no ads and I still couldn't get it on the shelf. If Marvel can sell it, bully for them. Otherwise, I think they're looking at trades. Except aren't trades slowing down in bookstores now? That'll happen when you collect everything, whether or not it deserves it. I really can't believe neither company has begun a big push for original online content yet.

7. What is Bangshot Comics?

Bankshot is whatever I'm working on. "Brendan McGinley" is a lot harder search term to spell correctly. I guess you could call it an imprint or a studio or a very expensive hobby

8. What are some of the comics you are currently producing?

HEIST -- The world's greatest supervillain is so good at his job the heroes have no idea he exists. That is, until he's hired to steal an omnipotent artifact from their headquarters. It starts off a James Bond fantasy and goes to grievous places. Andres Ponce draws this, and Rocio Zucchi colors it to look -- oh! So fine. Josh Elder nods at my plots and shakes his head wearily at my dialogue.

INVISIBLE, INC. -- Ever wonder why supervillains don't try to take over the world anymore? A reporter discovers they pulled it off decades ago. This one is probably my favorite to craft, but the toughest to write, because there's so much conspiracy theory that zips so neatly into comic book cliches -- meaning I get to turn over things accepted as true with sinister implication. Tomas Aira handles all the art.

HANNIBAL GOES TO ROME -- The true story of the Carthaginian general who took elephants over the Alps told from start to epic finish. This is is running over at Shadowline, so if you like it, tell them in the message boards you want to see it in print with a big Image logo on it.

DOSE -- A compendium of humor and wit (maybe), featuring special guests and also a 30-foot-tall Dudley Do-Right battling a manga vixen in mecha armor. How now can you refuse? Seriously -- come for the Molly Crabapple guest pages, stay for the Victorian product advertisements.

And a bunch of projects that want artists of one calling or another: SHE'S FAMOUS NOW; REAPING PROFIT; ICONOGRAPHY; CITIZEN X: THE MISSION; STAR-X and a collaboration with Alex de Campi.

9. Are you building a continuous comic universe, or do all the titles exist in their own world?

Continuity is the enemy at this point. Who needs more of it? Comic fans have plenty of it if that's their thing. It's no longer a cool thrill if Thor appears in the Hulk, it's just part of the soap opera.

I wouldn't even be writing superhero comics if I were trying to establish that kind of open-ended, ongoing stuff. I figure there has to be other readers like me, who still love superpowers, but are just weary of the melodrama. I want a beginning, a middle and an end. I want change and development and characterization.

They just did a Spider-Man story called "Brand New Day" in which Peter Parker sells part of his soul to the Devil to preserve his aging aunt and ditch his supermodel wife. I mean, is there a better metaphor for comics and their continuity? Diving proudly into the sand headfirst to preserve the past at all costs, defying the natural order and common sense! SPIDER-MAN's supposed to be about growing up, and part of growing up is accepting that everyone passes in their time.

So no, I'm not dragging any characters back out if I don't think there's something they need to do. There might be a couple of more HEIST stories in Geist, but I don't want to overuse the character.

Now if it fits and if it were a thrill, I'd guest-star a little bit. You could put the case out there for, say, Iron Will from an upcoming project called ICONOGRAPHY to appear at the end of HEIST, and I tinker with the idea. But neither one of those characters could share a universe with INVISIBLE, INC. because they're just very different worlds. No one's controlling the heroes in HEIST and no one's a bastion of wit and style in INVISIBLE, INC.

But don't worry -- everything's self-contained. I'm not asking the reader to stray.

10. Which is the best?

Ha! Probably HEIST. It's the easiest to write. It's fun and breezy till it's not, and then the trap is sprung.

11. Hannibal? How did you come up with this?

Hannibal is inescapable when you're studying Carthage, which I was doing for CITIZEN X. I wanted a world where Carthage won the Second Punic War, and though I was going to dodge Hannibal, the really aggravating thing with fictional histories is it's MORE work than actual history -- it's not enough to just say "Ok, they didn't have saddles at this point in history," you have to figure out "Do they have guns? It's only 400 years later. Have they already made contact with China? Is that feasible? They have glass, they have naval ability, they're traders...what's that lead to first?" You have to figure out what could reasonably happen next by researching the entire world.

I suppose Hannibal was a bid for sanity amid all that. If I don't have the time period down by the end of that story, I don't deserve to finish CITIZEN X.

Besides, try though you might to dodge him, Hannibal is too impressive to ignore! I figured if I didn't slap that epic down with a talented guy like Mauro Vargas drawing it, someone else would, and they wouldn't use nearly as many awful puns -- so it had to be done.

12. Why didn't you do a comic about a Greek historical figure?

Because Frank Miller already did 300 and let's face it, Hipparchia's better off as a stage play. And your story's still being written, my lad.

13. Do you think there is a market for online comics?

I'm betting on it. HANNIBAL got more reads the first hour of Zuda than I've sold copies of DOSE to date.

14. Do you think digital comics will ever replace the floppy?

Yep. At least as a majority.

15. How do you find artists to work with?

I assume you mean "Where?" rather than "What's it like?" but I'll answer the second to give you the first -- a lot easier now that I'm finding guys via word of mouth in the Argentine comics community. They've never let me down: great talent, lots of enthusiasm, rates both parties can live with, and they all support each other. I spent 2003-2007 getting burned by artists from elsewhere who'd produce a few great pages in a flurry of commitment and then vanish -- sometimes with my deposit. But the boys from B.A. (and lady Rocio, whose art is literally unbelievably gorgeous) have never let me down -- not once.

16. Is it difficult to produce a finished comic?

I'd say it's more difficult than you'd expect to get one finished, but as easy as you'd think to get any of the elements done. It's difficult to make a GOOD comic, which I only say with certitude because I've already made some really mediocre ones. You can proofread it a hundred times and you still won't notice certain typos till you have the first print in hand. The web makes it easier to amend that, which I intend to do with some of the purple prose dragging down the middle of INVISIBLE, INC.'s first issue.

17. Some words of advice for the kid out there who wants to write comics?

Start doing it, give yourself extra space, and don't worry about trying to make it great. Worry about making it GOOD. Greatness is the product of inspiration, but goodness is the result of technical prowess. Everybody gets a few great ideas, but how many people learn to write a concise, slickstream-smooth, organic piece of information engineering that truly delivers on its premise within a few short pages?

Don't take it too seriously; even if you're the next Shakespeare, worrying about living up to Shakespeare will only paralyze you. Just get it done first. Shakespeare isn't great because he writes lofty poetry or even clear poetry; Shakespeare's great because he makes people think and feel.

Trust me, you can always revise; I'm still trying to improve and expunge my awful executions of good ideas from college.

Make some smart friends with enough of a mean streak to tell you what doesn't work.

And bear in mind this advice comes from a man with years in and dollars out on double-niche comics for the discerning conspiracy theorist/superhero fan. You should probably ignore everything I said and churn out heartless airport bricks like Michael "ZOMG Sciencebomb!" Crichton. There's a lot more money in that, and then you can buy me drinks.

18. What did you think of Kirkman's challange to comic creators, is it better to go independent?

I think it's better for Kirkman to go independent. I think it's better for a lot of people to have health insurance.

Neither one is actually better; he's just offering some advice on how to maximize your return and not get sheared of your life work's success. Nothing wrong with that. It helps to be a very good and prolific writer like Robert Kirkman. But if you're not at least one of those, why are you trying to get into a brawl for market share like this one?

19. Do you want to work for Marvel or DC?

I have. They paid me in comic books. That was as an intern, but from what I understand, the salaries are worth almost as much. I'll stick with construction.

But yeah, a little. I want to make money writing, I'd like to have health coverage and readership and somebody else doing all the marketing and print work so I can focus on the stories. I keep a file of story ideas that only work for their characters, but I'm not wasting time plotting them out. I'd rather work on second- or third-tier characters where you can really experiment and do something new. But as far as that kid's dream of working for those companies being the ultimate goal of any career, I'd rather be something besides that guy who had a pretty good run on CAPE-MAN.

20. You are working with Andres Ponce on Heist. How long until he gets snatched up by the Big Two?

I'm worried about that myself. I have a knack for getting collaborators swiped out from under me by bigger publishers. Andres, on loan to Mirage, is well overdue, and I know he'll be pushing his potent penciled pages around San Diego.

Here's a funny story -- you know I met Andres through the Millarworld boards. I really liked his art, hit him up for a collaboration, and the poor devil's been working with me ever since. So that was...2004, I think, and I was at Wizard, where they encourage you to read everything that's coming out so you can write knowledgeably about it. So I grab a handful of books that night, and go home to my freezing home in the wilds of Rockland.

And my house is literally freezing. I'm lying in bed under three covers, wearing a winter jacket, but reading comics because they're the only element in this story that keeps it from becoming a Jack London tale, and I DON'T WANT TO DIE.

So Jay Faerber -- he did the brilliant thing with NOBLE CAUSES of keeping the superhero soap opera, but eliminating the brawl side of it, so all you got was like...DYNASTY with lasers and it sounds crazy, but it was sharp and he made it work -- Jay Faerber has this new title called Firebirds. And I really dig the art, especially the costume design. This is great stuff.

So who's the artist? Oh, it's that fellow I just lured into my keyboard clutches during lunch.

And that's how Andres saved me from freezing to death, so I figure the least I can do is stall his career with junk like STAR-X.

21. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Hopefully done with all these beasts I've borne on my back all millennium. It'd be nice to take a vacation at some point between now and then.But as long as I'm eating well and still with this gorgeous, wonderful woman I guess I'm winning.

22. If you weren't doing comics you would be...?


23. Are you a better cook or writer?

Sadly, writer. Anyone who's sampled my writing can pat their stomach protectively. What's even sadder is I've been drawing twice as long as I've been writing, and I'm still a better writer than artist.

That said, I made ras-el-hatoun lamb shanks last week and these "Doom / Tuck" inks I can live with, so maybe one day I'll be a good writer.

24. If you make it big in comics, and Hollywood comes calling do you think you would ditch comics completely?

I don't see the need to split it, but I also don't see Hollywood chucking well-deserved scripting opportunities at any of these decades-deep talents even to adapt their own properties.

25. If you were directing Hannibal: the Movie, who would you cast in the lead?

I'd just want to see someone who can capture that ultimate leader, a guy who slugs it out in the trenches then leaps onto a horse, gives a stirring speech, and really could lead men into the mouth of Hell. And then he has to have a thick foundation of intelligence, craftiness and humor to convey humanity underneath the demands of state.

Idris Elba's good at everything he does. Let him have it.

Interrested in seeing more about Brendan's projects follow the links. Great stuff.

Aris Asks Nicola Scott

Nicola Scott is currently drawing Secret Six for DC Comics. And if you ask me kicking all kinds of a$$!

1. Have you always wanted to draw comics?

Nope! Didn't even know they existed until my late teens. I spent my twenties pursuing an acting career, occasionally considering drawing comics, but I didn't decide until I was thirty.

2. Who were early influences?

George Perez, Kevin McGuire and Adam Hughes.

3. Did you actually watch the Linda Carter Wonder Woman show?

It was the first TV show I remember watching. I remember because I was sitting there with my sisters and all my cousins, all girls and older than me, and they all thought it was boring and I thought I'd discovered religion.

4. The first thing I remember you doing was stuff on Drew's Halloween Man. How did you start working with him?

Hanging in the Millarworld Creative Forum. It was going through a pretty sparky phase, loads of really talented people posting often. During that time I contributed to the Halloween Man Christmas mash, like heaps of others did, and it kinda kept going after that with really nice working relationships and friendships between myself, Drew, Russell, inker Mike Furth and colourist Jesse Farrell.

5. You also did some work at Dark horse and Image, what titles did you do there?

A few issues of Star Wars: Empire and their '05 Free Comic Book Day issue that tied in with
Episode III. At Image I worked with Jai Nitz on his original series "Season of the Witch"

6. How did you get the gig on Birds of Prey?

I had met Gail Simone at Paradise Con in Toronto, in '06, and we got along really well right off the bat. She had seen some of my work on-line previously so when I saw her again at San Diego Comicon a few months later, she let me know that there was a fill-in issue of Birds looking for an artist. I met editor Mike Carlin and he said he'd seen my work and heard of me and said "Let see how this goes". It went pretty good.

7. You are currently blowing the doors off Secret Six, are you enjoying it as much as we are?

Are you kidding me! If you're reading the title you know how much fun the series is AND I GET TO DRAW IT!! Every time a script comes in I'm rolling around on the floor, laughing my ass off. It's a blast!

8. Who is your favorite character from Secret Six to draw?

The great thing about The Six is that they are all so different. Different body types, body language, mannerism and attitude. That makes drawing all of them a pleasure but I really dig drawing Ragdoll 'cause I can do anything with him and, by his very nature, is meant to be completely hilarious and horrendous to look at.

9. Any thing you can tease about up coming story lines?

Wonder Woman might be showing up. HOW EXCITED AM I!!!

10. Who would win in a fight Halloween Man or Junior?

Halloween Man I think. He can't die because he's already dead. Major advantage!

11. How long does it take for you on the average to pencil a page?

I try to aim for a page a day but with a team book, often with a number of characters per panel, it tends to work out to five pages every six days.

12. Do you prefer drawing from panel detailed full scripts or very open plots?

Don't mind really. Heaps of detail gives you heaps to work with.

13. Gail Simone writes Secret Six, she also is writing Wonder Woman, I know that's a book you really want to draw, any chance of that happening?

I'm pretty sure Gail will be on Wonder Woman for a while and I'm sure it'll come up at some stage. I'm actually at a point now where I don't feel the rush to get on it. It'll happen.

14. You and Amanda Conner are the only two female pencilers I can think of, do you think if you had to fight her in a cage match to draw Wonder Woman, could you take her?

Amanda is little and cute and sweet and I'm a big scary bitch. Do the math.

15. Are there any other characters you would like to draw?

I love the whole Bat Family and I love the whole Super family so anything there would be groovy. I like to bring out the personalities of characters so it's really more interesting being paired with a writer that does the same. I could be happy drawing anyone if they're written well, while drawing a badly written Superman would be depressing.

16. Any chance of doing any Marvel work?

Dunno. Maybe one day. If they ask me.

17. Marvel character you would love to draw most?


18. Any advice you can offer to some one who wants to draw comics for a living?

Get serious about pursuing it as a career. You need to think of it as a job, not a hobby. That means finishing what you start, constantly producing and having a fair idea of where you might fit into the biz or what niche you can carve for yourself.

19. Is there ANY difference you can tell being a female artist in the comic industry?


20. Do you have a stalker?

Not at the moment. Offering?

21. Do comic artists need formal training?

Nup! But they do need to be open to learning from others and from their own experiences.

22. If I told you I would kidnap Dan Didio and make him offer you Wonder Woman, you would say?

You're going to need a lot of chloroform.

23. If you weren't drawing comics you would be......?

Drawing superheroes on anything that happened to be in front of me.

24. What are your thoughts on comics shipping late?

Annoying but sometimes unavoidable.

25. Do plan on tackling any creator owned projects?

Eventually. My husband has a OGN coming out later this year. I worked on the teaser for it that he used to shop around for a publisher (this was back before I was working for DC). The teaser will be printed in the final book. It's called "Torn" and it's coming out from Frozen Beach.

If you aren't reading Secret Six, you should really pick it up. Consistently awesome, great characters and scripting and wonderful art by Nicola. There really isn't an excuse not to put it on your pull list.

Aris Asks Rob Guillory

Rob Guillory is the talented artist currently working on Chew with writer John Layman due from Image Comics in June. He is also working in the field of children's book illustration, and on Teddy Scares for Ape Entertainment and Shortbus Superstars!

1. How are the Chew pages coming along?

They're coming along great, man. I've penciled up to Page 14 of Issue 4 and am currently inking Page 5 of Issue 3, so they're rolling.

2. How did you get involved with Chew?

Well, it was either good karma, divine intervention or dumb luck, really. A few weeks before, I'd just wrapped a short project for Tokyopop (that was never published) with writer Brandon Jerwa. Brandon had apparently enjoyed working with me, so when Layman began looking for artists for CHEW, I was the first guy he thought of. Layman cold-emailed me the day before San Diego Comicon 2008, sent me the premise and first script, and I was blown away. I read everything on the flight over, met John the next day and the rest is history. I feel very fortunate to be the guy bringing this to life. The stars aligned, I guess.

3. Can you tell us a little bit about the project?

Sure. Well, the short version is: An avian flu pandemic has killed several million people. As a result, the US Government, in a post-9/11-like panic, institutes a poultry ban and makes the FDA into the most powerful federal agency there is. Our story is seen from the perspective of Tony Chu, a new FDA agent who is also a psychic who has visions depending on what he eats. So if he eats an apple, he'll see all its history, where it came from, the pesticides and processing it was subjected to. Likewise, if he eats something more grotesque, like human flesh, he'll see aspects of the person's past. He uses this ability to solve cold cases.

4. You are handling all the art chores, except lettering, how long does it take you to do an average finished colored Chew page?

Hmm. Well, it kinda varies depending on complexity, but I can knock out 3-4 pages a week if I have no side-projects.
5. Do you actually like the story?

I absolutely love CHEW. I've got to be Layman's #1 fan, I think. But again, I've had the pleasure of reading the first 5 issues worth of script, so I see what's really there. Let me say this: No one knows what this book REALLY is. Sure, they've read internet blurbs about it and whatnot, but that's just the surface. There's more to this than cannibalism. That's just the hook. This story is about the conspiracy behind the deaths of several million people. Think about that, because at it's core, it's about one question, I think: To what lengths would you go to find the truth?

6. How is working with John Layman?

Well, John has this reputation of being this crazy guy, and that's fine. But I think a lotta times that there's a fine line between insanity and brilliance, and this time I think Layman's crossed over to something really original.Working with him's been the best experience I've had working with another creator. He's a pro and an all-around good dude. I consider him a friend. Another thing that I think makes this book special.

7. Don't you think his cat fetish is weird?

My wife and I have 2 house cats, so...

8. Chew sounds and looks great, I believe John's first arc is 5 issues, What are your plans for Chew after that?

We'd like to go as long as we can with it. John's got around 25-30 issues in mind, and I want to be the guy to draw this story from beginning to end. No fill-ins.

9. Have you always wanted to draw comics?

Well, I grew up with comics, always drew them as a kid, but didn't ever think I could make a living doing them until about my second year of college. I made a run for it, and here I am. I think I was born to tell stories in this medium.

10. What was your first art job?

Umm... Well, the first paying gig I had was a 5-year run doing 2 weekly comic strips for my college's newspaper. Didn't pay much, but it was an excuse to keep pushing my comic work on a regular basis. Plus, I learned how to meet deadlines.

11. Is it important for comic artists to take drawing classes?

I think taking drawing classes can be incredibly important, but I also feel it's invaluable to just be as broad and well-rounded as possible. If you draw, try painting. Or sculpting. Or poetry. Whatever. Creativity is creativity, and you'll be amazed at what will inspire new growth. And on top of classes, taking the time to do individual study is crucial. If you can't motivate yourself, no one can.
12. What is Shortbus Superstars?

Shortbus Superstars is a creator-owned comic project that I created with Image writer Mark Andrew Smith (of Amazing Joybuzzards fame). It's a long story, but it's been in flux for a while because of life, basically. One of the downsides to labors of love like Shortbus Superstars is that they don't pay the rent, sometimes. It's on the shelf for now, but it's something I want to return to eventually.

13. What else are you working on?

I have a couple personal projects that I'm scripting. One is a space blaxploitation, another is a horror story. A private goal is to do a modern-day comic translation of the Bible, believe it or not. Picture Jesus wearing Chuck Taylors. Yeah... I went there.

14. Any work on the horizon from the Big Two (Marvel or DC)?

Who knows? I'm just getting warmed up.

15. Have you actually ever made sweet Monkey love?

Hells yeah. I pity anyone who has not.

16. What comics are you currently reading?

I really don't read a lot of comics these days. Honestly, I just don't have the patience for a lot of the crazy uber-continuity in the Big Two anymore, so I just stick to standalone stuff or trades. I just read Walking Dead Vol. 1 the other day, though

17. You have your pic of the litter, what comic books currently published would you love to be working on?

Hmm. I dunno. Something out of continuity. Like a Luke Cage/Iron Fist 80s throwback special. I just want free reign over whatever I do.

18. Influences on your art?

Too many to list them all. In comics, I grew up with John Buscema and John Romita Sr. and Jr. In animation, I was always a huge Warner Bros. cartoon guy, so I think that has some influence on the expressiveness of my art. Jim Mahfood was a huge influence when I first started moving to break in. Guys like Jim, Dave Crosland and Mike Huddleston where like acid to my young, Marvel-bred mind. They opened my eyes to the wealth of possibilities in the story-telling medium. And of course, Mike Mignola, Frank Miller, Steve Ditko and Dave Gibbons were big inspirations.

19. Do you think digital comics are the way to go?

Maybe. For me, they'll never replace the printed page

20. Besides John Layman, is there another creator you would die to work with?

Warren Ellis is the only guy coming to mind, for some reason. Transmetropolitan and Nextwave are personal faves.

21. If you weren't drawing you would be...?

If I was lucky, writing. But realistically, I'd probably be beating my head against a wall somewhere.

22. Advice for the kid who dreams about becoming a comic artist?

mailto:F@$ critics. Do what you love and what completes you.

23. Facebook or MySpace?

Facebook, I guess. MySpace is like this generation's Tower of Babel, man. If I see one more Miley Cyrus MySpace ad, I'm pulling my own plug.

For more of Rob's art work please visit his blog

And make sure to support Chew out in June from Image Comics. Check out the for updates!!!