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ECCC 2019 Interview: Tricia Levenseller, Alexandra Christo and Monsters & Sirens Tour

Tricia Levenseller and Alexandra Christo

Fierce Reads

Here are two wonderful writers for young adults from Macmillan’s imprint, Feiwel & Friends, and the Fierce Reads celebration of YA reading. Alexandra Christo, author of To Kill a Kingdom, and Tricia Levenseller, author of Daughter of the Pirate King and Warrior of the Wild, have hit the road together on the Monsters & Sirens Tour. It’s an even bigger deal for Alexandra Christo since she’s come ALL THE WAY from the UK to team up with Tricia Levenseller for this 6-stop tour. I was able to catch with both of these authors during their Seattle stop for Emerald City Comic Con. View the interview by just clicking the link below:

Both authors provide exciting novels which each feature main characters on a quest. And not just any ole quest, each of these adventures could mean life or death. Below I provide a synopsis for both books:

WARRIOR OF THE WILD by Tricia Levenseller

As her father’s chosen heir, eighteen-year-old Rasmira has trained her whole life to become a warrior and lead her village. But when her coming-of-age trial is sabotaged and she fails the test, her father banishes her to the monster-filled wilderness with an impossible quest: To win back her honor, she must kill the oppressive god who claims tribute from the villages each year or die trying.

TO KILL A KINGDOM by Alexandra Christo

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

Sunday, March 17: Emerald City Comic Con (Seattle, WA)
Monday, March 18: Interabang (Dallas, TX)
Tuesday, March 19: Main Street Books (St. Charles, MO)
Wednesday, March 20: Red Balloon Bookshop (St. Paul, MN)
Thursday, March 21: Boswell Books (Milwaukee, WI)
Friday, March 22: C2E2 (Chicago, IL)

Warrior of the Wild is a 336-page hardcover (ages 13-18), published by Macmillan. For more details and how to purchase go right here.

To Kill a Kingdom is a 352-page hardcover (ages 13-18), published by Macmillan. For more details and how to purchase go right here.

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Filed under Books, Booksellers, Bookstores, ECCC, ECCC 2019, Emerald City Comic Con, Feiwel & Friends, Fierce Reads, writers, writing, Young Adult

ECCC Interview and Review: KISS NUMBER 8 by Colleen AF Venable and Ellen T. Crenshaw

KISS NUMBER 8 by Colleen AF Venable and Ellen T Crenshaw

My new favorite graphic novel is Kiss Number 8, written by Colleen AF Venable and illustrated by Ellen T. Crenshaw, published by First Second. This is a book that is about family, self-discovery and gender identity that requires that you  find a nice spot to read because you won’t want to put it down. Our main character is 16-year-old Amanda. Her friends call her, Mads, which is a fitting nickname for an exuberant personality. Mads is mad about life but struggling to find her way. And growing up in a conservative religious family adds to the complications. Conventional wisdom is telling her that she should be pining over boy-next-door Adam. But her heart is telling her that she wants to be kissed by girl-next-door Cat. Our story is set in 2004 which provides a whole set of pop culture references while also giving everything a timeless quality.

Venable has a wonderful way with evoking the trials and tribulations of young souls. She was telling me about her background in playwriting and I can clearly see that ability to lift up characters and events and have them dance upon the page. It’s about knowing how to craft one scene after another and one moment from the next. Consider the opening pages: a steady sequence of panels depict Mads bumping along as she gains experience in how to kiss and, when we reach Kiss Number 8, it’s enigmatic, something we’ll come back to. Then we proceed a few more pages in and we realize there’s a whole other mystery up ahead.

 

 

Page from Kiss Number 8

Ellen T. Crenshaw and Colleen AF Venable

Crenshaw is superbly matched with Venable as her artwork is so in tune with the thoughtful and gentle quality to this work. We chatted about process and the inevitable topic of how time-consuming graphic novels can be was discussed. Well, far be it from me to dissuade Crenshaw from changing anything about her methods. Each page is utterly beautiful. She has a perfect thing going with her use of hand-drawn ink and ink wash. It is a delight to the eyes. We also chatted about how First Second appreciates the beauty of black & white comics and how it is often the best way to convey more mature themes. It certainly works in this case.

Page from Kiss Number 8

No doubt, this is a book working on many levels and is sure to engage readers from teenagers on up. If you’re looking for a good book exploring LGBTQ themes from a teen perspective, this is a wonderful read.

Page from Kiss Number 8

Kiss Number 8 has the depth of a good play and the pace of an immersive work in manga. It is a queer story that will resonate with young readers as well as any reader who loves a good coming-of-age tale. This is a 320-page trade paperback that will reward the reader upon rereading it! Lots to savor in the way of word and image! Available as of March 12th, for more details and how to purchase, go right here.

 

 

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Filed under Comics, ECCC, Emerald City Comic Con, First Second, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Interviews, LGBTQ

Emerald City Comic Con 2019: Dark Horse Comics Announces Schedule

Stranger Things #1 Convention Exclusive cover by Kyle Lambert

And we’re off and running with ECCC News! If you’re in Seattle and love comics, then you’ll be at Emerald City Comic Con, March 14-17, 2019. For all you Dark Horse Comics fans, have you heard….Dark Horse Comics Stranger Things #1 Convention Exclusive cover by Kyle Lambert is debuting at ECCC! Get your hands on one of these at the Dark Horse booth (#2208) or the Official ECCC Store while supplies last! Check out more ECCC Exclusives http://fal.cn/i92Q

And here’s your Dark Horse schedule of ECCC events…

Press Release:

Visit Dark Horse Comics at Booth #2208 during Emerald City Comic Con to meet some of your favorite creators and get your hands on some free swag, such as comics, pins, posters, and more! Get colorin’ on our communal coloring wall! The wall will feature pages from the #DHColors Coloring Book line! Canvases will vary throughout the weekend but include pages from Steven Universe Coloring Book Volume 1, The Legend of Korra Coloring Book, Avatar: The Last Airbender Coloring Book, Jurassic Park Coloring Book, and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Coloring Book.

Dark Horse Direct will have a display with exciting upcoming products in the Dark Horse booth. Check it out after your favorite signing!

Special appearance in the Dark Horse booth from our friends at Happymatic Photo Booth! Come by with your friends or in cosplay and get your picture taken as a souvenir – for FREE!

We’ll also have a variety of Dark Horse comics, graphic novels, art books, and collectibles for sale in our booth.

Check out our signings and panels, too!

DARK HORSE ECCC 2019 SIGNING SCHEDULE

All creators signing in our booth offer their autographs for FREE. FREE prints, comics, or posters are provided for most of our signings (while supplies last). You may purchase or bring items to be signed; however, we may restrict the type or number of items to be signed as necessary.

Lines may also be closed for some signings due to crowding or time restrictions.

All events are subject to change. Some restrictions apply. Please see Dark Horse Comics staff if you have questions.

THURSDAY, MARCH 14

11:00 AM-11:50 AM:

ALIENS VS PREDATOR, PREDATOR: Brian Albert Thies

12:00 PM-12:50 PM:

TOMB RAIDER, TOMB RAIDER: INFERNO: Phillip Sevy

1:00 PM-1:50 PM:

WILLIAM GIBSON’S ALIEN 3, ANGEL CATBIRD: Tamra Bonvillain

STARCRAFT: SOLDIERS: Andrew R. Robinson

2:00 PM-2:50 PM:

LIFEFORMED: CLEO MAKES CONTACT, EXTRAORDINARY: A STORY OF AN ORDINARY PRINCESS: Cassie Anderson

3:00 PM-3:50 PM:

EMPOWERED: Adam Warren

MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: Todd Nauck

4:00 PM-4:50 PM:

PROS AND (COMIC) CONS, SECRET LOVES OF GEEKS, SECRET LOVES OF GEEK GIRLS: Hope Nicholson, Amanda Deibert, Megan Kearney, Tia Vasilou, Vita Ayala, Valentine de Landro

5:00 PM-5:50 PM:

BEASTS OF BURDEN: WISE DOGS AND ELDRITCH MEN: Benjamin Dewey

FRIDAY, MARCH 15

11:00 AM-11:50 AM:

CRIMSON LOTUS: Mindy Lee

JOE GOLEM: OCCULT DETECTIVE: Patric Reynolds

12:00 PM-12:50 PM:

ROCKET ROBINSON AND THE SECRET OF THE SAINT: Sean O’Neill

1:00 PM-1:50 PM:

GOD OF WAR: Tony Parker, Chris Roberson

HELLBOY AND THE B.P.R.D.: 1956: Chris Roberson

2:00 PM-2:50 PM:

CALAMITY KATE: Magdalene Visaggio, Corin Howell

THE GIRL IN THE BAY: Corin Howell

3:00 PM-3:50 PM:

MATA HARI: Ariela Kristantina

LAGUARDIA: Tana Ford

4:00 PM-4:50 PM:

BERSERKER UNBOUND: Mike Deodato

GRENDEL: Matt Wagner

5:00 PM-5:50 PM:

STRANGER THINGS, STARCRAFT, PROJECT TBA: Jody Houser

SATURDAY, MARCH 16

11:00 AM-5:00 PM:

FIGHT CLUB 3, BAIT: Chuck Palahniuk

5:30 PM-6:30 PM:

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY: HOTEL OBLIVION: Nick Filardi

SUNDAY, MARCH 17

11:00 AM-11:50 AM:

BANDETTE: Paul Tobin, Colleen Coover

PLANTS VS. ZOMBIES: Paul Tobin, Ron Chan

THE WITCHER, COLDER: Paul Tobin

12:00 PM-12:50 PM:

MINECRAFT VOLUME ONE: Sarah Graley, Sfé R. Monster

1:00 PM-1:50 PM:

THE ONCE AND FUTURE QUEEN: Adam P. Knave, D.J. Kirkbride

2:00 PM-2:50 PM:

DISNEY RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: CLICK START–A SELECT-YOUR-STORY ADVENTURE: Amy Mebberson

3:00 PM-3:50 PM:

MYSTICONS: Megan Levens

DARK HORSE ECCC 2019 PANEL SCHEDULE

Please join us at the panels below, brought to you by Dark Horse Comics and friends! Please visit this link for more panels featuring Dark Horse creators and guidelines for attending panels.

THURSDAY, MARCH 14

Artists Who Write: The Craft and Creation of Comics
12:15 PM – 1:15 PM
TCC L3-R3
Panelists: Tana Ford, Adam Warren, Matt Wagner, Cassie Anderson

Many comics creators possess a diverse skill set that they’ve used to carefully hone their craft of sequential storytelling. Join Dark Horse and a panel of creators as they discuss turning an idea into a full-fledged story, and how they continue to keep their art and writing fresh.

Marketing Your Own Comics Without Being a Nuisance
1:30 PM – 2:30 PM
TCC L3-R1
Panelists: Melissa Meszaros, Cara O’Neil, D.J. Kirkland, Daniel Barnes, Sarah Graley, Paul Tobin, Greg Smith, Anne Smith

The key to success in comics is knowing you are the direct line to your fans—but how do you shamelessly promote your work without going overboard? Join marketing teams from Oni Press and Dark Horse Comics, with a handful of successful self-made comics creators to learn the best social media and marketing tactics for your self-published comics.

FRIDAY, MARCH 15

Peeling Back the Layers: The Process of Bringing a Comic to Life
11:15 AM – 12:15 PM
TCC L3-R4
Panelists: Tamra Bonvillain, Tony Parker, Magdalene Visaggio

It takes a team of talented individuals to bring a comic book to life. Join Dark Horse and a panel of writers, artists, colorists, and letterers whose creativity and hard work produce the best comics on the shelves. Dark Horse would like to peel back the layers on the work of comics’ unsung heroes and celebrate their contributions to our beloved art form.

SATURDAY, MARCH 16

Stranger Things Publishing
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
WSCC 611
Panelists: Elizabeth Schaefer, Spencer Cushing, Jody Houser, Ibrahim Moustafa

The story of Stranger Things continues in the official books and comics! Join editors from Dark Horse and Del Rey Books, along with author Gwenda Bond (Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds), writer Jody Houser (Stranger Things comics), and artist Ibrahim Moustafa (Stranger Things Free Comic Book Day comic) as they explore the further adventures of our favorite characters from Hawkins, IN.

Dark Horse Manga
1:30 PM – 2:30 PM
TCC L3-R1
Panelist: Carl Horn

Dark Horse’s history with Japanese comics can be traced back to the company’s earliest years, with a legacy that includes such legendary series as Lone Wolf & Cub, Berserk, and many more! Now, Dark Horse continues to publish some of the industry’s best-selling titles, like Mob Psycho 100, Unofficial Hatsune Mix, I Am a Hero, Danganronpa, Blade of the Immortal, Cardcaptor Sakura, and many more! Join Dark Horse Editor Carl Horn for a look at the past, present, and future of manga at Dark Horse!

SUNDAY, MARCH 17

Growing Up With Comics: Introducing Younger Readers to Graphic Storytelling
10:45 AM – 11:45 AM
TCC L3-R1
Panelists: Sean O’Neill, Sfé Monster, Sarah Graley

Comics are a great way to get kids interested in art, reading, and storytelling—and, well, they’re fun! Join Dark Horse comics creators to discover and discuss the ever-growing library of incredible all-ages comics!

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Filed under Comics, Dark Horse Comics, ECCC, Emerald City Comic Con, Netflix, pop culture, Seattle, Stranger Things

RICK AND MORTY PRESENTS: THE VINDICATORS #1 ECCC 2018 EXCLUSIVE VARIANT

RICK AND MORTY PRESENTS: THE VINDICATORS #1

An Emerald City Comic Con 2018 exclusive variant of RICK AND MORTY PRESENTS: THE VINDICATORS #1 by J. Torres and CJ Cannon with Nick Filardi. This convention exclusive is illustrated by Jen Bartel (Storm)! Available at Oni Press booth #216.

Keep up with Oni Press at ECCC on Twitter. Click to enlarge signing schedule below:

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Filed under Comics, ECCC, Emerald City Comic Con, Emerald City Comicon, Oni Press, Seattle

ECCC 2018 Interview: Nilah Magruder and M.F.K. and Diversity in Comics

ECCC 2018: Nilah Magruder

The original webcomic, M.F.K.

Nilah Magruder is a writer and illustrator of children’s books and comics. From her beginnings in the woods of Maryland she developed an eternal love for three things: nature, books, and animation. She is the author of HOW TO FIND A FOX (First Second Books) and M.F.K. (Insight Comics) among other works.

It all began, or a lot of things started to fall into place, with the M.F.K. webcomic. That’s a significant work in Nilah Magruder’s career which includes both the comics and the animation industry. It was a story she had to tell and embarked upon back in 2012. The underlying theme to Magruder’s work is giving voice to those who have not been heard in the past. As she puts it, her stories come back to what she would have wanted to read as a child. “I’m writing the stories that I wish I would have read as a young black girl growing up in a predominantly white community.”

M.F.K.

Nilah Magruder’s postapocalyptic story about a deaf girl crossing the desert to release the ashes of her grandmother would go on to be the first recipient of the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics. In the summer of 2017, Insight Comics would publish the first installment of M.F.K. as its first original graphic novel.

HOW TO FIND A FOX

Magruder is as busy as ever. Among her work, she is the first African American woman to write a story for Marvel Comics. She has just completed storyboard work for the Disney “Tangled” animated television series. She is just as adept at creating children’s books as demonstrated by the adorable HOW TO FIND A FOX. Well, the list goes on. This week, for instance, a new anthology of queer teen stories, including a story by Magruder was released by Harlequin Teen, “All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages.” And looking out to Spring 2019, there is “Creeky Acres,” from Penguin Books, a graphic novel by Magruder and First Second editor Calista Brill.

Take a closer look at her professional journey and it follows an arc of determination to excel. “Comics and animation are highly competitive. It has to be a perfect storm of having the right skills and being at the right place at the right time. You have to have stamina. Success in this business is being the last person standing. What really drives you is the passion.”

It was my pleasure to get a chance to chat with Nilah Magruder and get a sense of her multi-faceted work. I hope you enjoy this video interview!

Be sure to visit Nilah Magruder at her website right here. And, if you’re in Seattle and heading out to Emerald City Comicon, be sure to stop by and visit with her in person! You will find her in Artist Alley at Booth P11 and on some very fun and interesting panels!

Nilah Magruder and ECCC

Nilah Magruder will be at Booth P11 in Artist Alley.

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Filed under Comics, Emerald City Comicon, First Second, Insight Comics, Nilah Magruder, Webcomics

Emerald City Comicon 2018: March 1-4

Emerald City Comicon 2018: March 1-4

Emerald City Comicon is and integral part of the fabric of Seattle. It is a tradition that has grown and developed into an impressive and highly anticipated annual event. ECCC is one of the first, if not the first stop, for many creatives as they embark upon their comics convention tours–and a most welcome one. That has a lot to do with ReedPOP‘s leadership. And, of course, it has a lot to do with so many loyal fans of a uniquely Pacific Northwest celebration of pop culture. Maybe folks are more polite and mellow in this region. We won’t dissect it any further and just be grateful. Now is the time to get ready and to keep an eye out for updates on all things ECCC.

ECCC and SYFY WIRE

JENNIFER MORRISON at ECCC 2018

Whether it is a chance to see two of the legends from “Back to Future,” Christopher Lloyd (Doc Brown) and Tom Wilson (Biff Tannen) or a favorite talent at Artist Alley, there is something for everyone at ECCC.

BACK TO THE FUTURE at ECCC 2018

ECCC Artist Alley 2018

ECCC Artist Alley 2018

As usual, Comics Grinder will venture out and report back from various panels, activity on the showroom floor, and whatever should catch the eye. If you are in Seattle, and love comics and pop culture, then make sure to be part of Emerald City Comicon.

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Filed under Comics, ECCC, Emerald City Comicon, pop culture

Comics Review: BABYTEETH #8

BABYTEETH #8

Donny Cates is a master storyteller. It was a pleasure to interview him last year at Emerald City Comicon. I have been keeping up with BABYTEETH, his co-creation with artist Garry Brown. Issue 8 finds much of the action coming to a head. In the last couple of issues, our main characters have been coping with having been lured into a secret underground hamlet. This secret hamlet was created especially for 16-year-old Sadie’s immaculately conceived baby, Clark, aka the Final Son, the Antichrist. You know, his destiny is to open the gate between the Realm and the Other. Boy howdy, that’s pretty wild and wooly but that’s how Mr. Cates rolls.

I must say, even after getting this deep into the series, I still don’t do so well with any images of little Clark chugging down a bottle of blood. That’s what every growing Antichrist needs if he’s going to bring about the End Times. Formula sure as heck (hell!) just won’t cut it. The little guy goes ballistic when he’s served anything other than Type O Negative, straight from mama. If you even try to pass off, say, Type A Positive, he will shriek so loudly that he could bring down a jetliner.

Clark’s grandmother explains it all to you.

Now, you may be wondering if this comic is more character-driven or more demon-driven. And, rest assured, it is split down the middle. Plenty of demons here including a weird little raccoon-like critter who strayed out of the Red Realm. And there are others like Dancy, a reject in the Antichrist tryouts. But, overall, readers have a lot to invest in with Sadie, her heroic dad, her badass sis, and her estranged mom, who happens to run The Way program overseeing End Times operations. Then there’s this crusty ole rogue agent who blasted his way out of his assignment to work for the Silhouette syndicate. That plot point could prove to be a MacGuffin but it sure is a colorful and action-packed one.

As for this current issue, I am satisfied as the whole shooting match is moved forward with solid new revelations (as in Book of Revelation?) on Sadie’s family history and some new teasing out of End Times machinations. The whole pulpy/classic B-movie horror feel to this comics is addictive. The pacing is pitch perfect. You buckle in for a roller coaster ride and you get it.

I not only look forward to future issues but I know I’ll enjoy taking in the collected trades. This comic earns a rating of 10/10.

Overall, BABYTEETH is a whole lot of fun. You can compare this a bit to the Netflix smash hit, “Stranger Things,” inasmuch as it is a compelling mashup of family themes and some very loopy supernatural elements. You can binge read (and subscribe to) the series at comiXology right here.

BABYTEETH #8 is published by AfterShock Comics and available as of February 14, 2018. I really like what I see coming out of AfterShock. For instance, since we’re on the subject of blood, a new title, BETROTHED, follows a romance between a teenage zombie and a teenage human. Looks quite intriguing. That one kicks off on March 14, 2018–just one month away. For more details, visit AfterShock Comics right here.

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Filed under AfterShock Comics, Comics, Donny Cates, Horror

ECCC 2017 Review: TOUCHING EVIL VOL. 1: THE CURSE ESCAPES

Close-up on panel from TOUCHING EVIL

Dan Dougherty is an award-winning author and illustrator. He is known for his humor comic strip, BEARDO, as well as various genre comic books. TOUCHING EVIL is an ongoing supernatural thriller series. It has an otherworldly quality about it that will compel you to keep reading. Dougherty has recently collected the first seven issues into one volume. Here is a taste of what you can expect in the following review. I also got a chance to chat with Dan for a bit at Emerald City Comicon and we did a quick video interview that you can check out at the end.

Panel excerpt from TOUCHING EVIL

Getting back to TOUCHING EVIL, there is much to say. First off, Dougherty has an uncanny way, both with his writing and his drawing, of calibrating a moment. Let me set this up. Our main character, Ada, is a beautiful and vibrant woman in the prime of life. She has a promising career as an attorney. She has a teenage son. And then, one day, she is assigned a task that results in a tragic outcome of supernatural proportions. When this happens, it seems oddly inevitable.

Essentially, Ada has the power of life or death over anyone with dark intentions. She touches them. They die. Meanwhile, her son has taken to wearing these black leather gloves with skeleton fingers. All this leads up to a pivotal moment: in order to secure she doesn’t accidently kill her own troubled son, Ada manages to slip on her son’s gloves before she hugs him. This is one of those masterful Dougherty moments: a sorrowful mother, her skeletal hands resting on the back of her son.

Page excerpt from TOUCHING EVIL

This is some wild story, if I haven’t made that clear yet. It gets under your skin, burrows its way in. Think The Twilight Zone meets Breaking Bad. It’s a certain vibe that hooks you in. Dougherty revels in well-placed details that later on elaborately blow up. A key aspect to the curse that Ada inherits is that anyone who she ends up executing by touch is a new soul who inhabits her mind. The death count mounts, as you may expect, and it gets crowded in Ada’s head. There’s a play within a play going on. Or you can think of it as a horror version of “Being John Malkovich.” Parts horror, cerebral, and offbeat humor, this is a highly engaging graphic novel.

Page excerpt from TOUCHING EVIL

And I get back to how Dougherty draws. His style is clean and crisp. Dougherty can make you believe you’re in a scary penitentiary and you’re walking down to its scariest section, The Ghost Room. He will make you believe in ghosts, demons, and being trapped in hell. And, without a doubt, you’ll get wrapped up in Ada’s plight.

Page excerpt from TOUCHING EVIL

Dan Dougherty is one of those talents in comics who is doing everything right. Well, that’s certainly an understatement. Whatever Dougherty does, it is going to continue to work out well. Maybe he’ll just follow a Jeff Smith model and keep building up what’s he doing on his own. He is an exciting talent and I highly recommend that you seek out this very intriguing work.

TOUCHING EVIL by Dan Dougherty

TOUCHING EVIL VOL. 1: THE CURSE ESCAPES is a full color 240-page graphic novel written and illustrated by Dan Dougherty.
Colors: Kanila Tripp and Wesley Wong
Cover art: Tom Kelly, with interior covers by Stephen Bryant
Additional inks: Monica Ras

This limited edition 240-page hardcover collects issues 1-7, as well as a never-before-seen bonus story, pinup gallery with art from Ryan Browne, Andrew Dimitt, Tom Kelly, and Doug Klauba! Read “season one” of Touching Evil in its most beautiful presentation!

Visit Dan Dougherty right here.

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Filed under Beardo Comics, Comics, Dan Dougherty, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Horror, Supernatural, Supernatural Horror

ECCC 2017 Panel Recap: Artists Who Write: The Craft and Creation of Comics

Dark Horse Comics panel on Artist/Writers

There is a special hybrid in the comics industry: the artist/writer. This is a combination of skills common enough in some circles (webcomics and indie graphic novels) but not so much in others (ongoing comic book series). That said, an artist/writer is also in a unique position for those projects where the roles of artist and writer are shared. Dark Horse Comics hosted an engaging and informative panel on this subject during Emerald City Comicon this last weekend that featured cartoonists Matt Kindt (Dept. H, Ether), Kristen Gudsnuk (Henchgirl, The Secret Loves of Geek Girls), and Adam Warren (Empowered). It was moderated by Patric Reynolds (Joe Golem).

ETHER by Matt Kindt and David Rubin

ETHER #5 by Matt Kindt and David Rubin. On Sale March 15.

Matt Kindt focused on ETHER, which he writes and David Rubin draws. Kindt is completely in love with all aspects of comics and continually finds ways to push the medium. But he is also quite appreciative when he teams up with an artist that is on a similar wavelength. “I can give David Rubin, say, a page with six panels and he can find a way to turn that into a 12-panel page.”

EMPOWERED by Adam Warren and Karla Diaz

EMPOWERED: Soldier of Love #2 by Adam Warren and Karla Diaz. On Sale March 22.

Adam Warren encouraged any aspiring cartoonists to not worry too much about a formal cartooning education. Warren said that, after he discovered manga, he was ultimately compelled to relearn comics after attending the Joe Kubert School that provided him with a traditional comics education.

HENCHGIRL by Kristen Gudsnuk.

HENCHGIRL TPB by Kristen Gudsnuk. On Sale March 29.

Kristen Gudsnuk stressed that she is self-taught. When she first developed her Henchgirl webcomic, she did not have to consider how to create the same comic for print. But, she did learn that she would not be able to continue drawing her comics on the subway. She redrew the first four issues of her print comic and went from there. A tip from Cliff Chiang really helped. He scans his pencils and prints them in nonphoto blue and uses that to ink on.

Whether the issues are technical or more general, a panel on the creation of comics has something for everyone. It definitely has the potential to inspire. And plenty to relate to. For instance, Matt Kindt admitted that he feels he is no longer qualified for any other job than being a cartoonist. He says he was never really good at being your typical office worker in a cubicle. But there was one bright spot. He worked out his schedule where he did his drawing from home and, while he was at “work” in the office, he would do his writing. For any aspiring cartoonist, finding a job that is so amenable to your dreams is nice work if you can get it.

For more details, visit Dark Horse Comics right here.

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Filed under Adam Warren, Comics, Dark Horse Comics, ECCC, Emerald City Comicon, Kristen Gudsnuk, Matt Kindt, Seattle

ECCC 2017 Interview: Daniel Warren Johnson and EXTREMITY

Daniel Warren Johnson at Emerald City Comicon 2017

Daniel Warren Johnson at Emerald City Comicon 2017

Daniel Warren Johnson is a freelance illustrator based in Chicago. Johnson’s webcomic, SPACE-MULLET, launched in 2012, got people’s attention. It is a quirky sci-fi tale following the adventures of such characters as Jonah, a stranded Space Marine from United Earth, and Alphius, a huge Zozobian who uses too much toilet paper. As Johnson told me, the whole experience of maintaining a webcomic turned out to be the perfect way to demonstrate to publishers how he navigates through a story. This process would lead him to the helm of his own comic book series, EXTREMITY, published by Skybound Entertainment, an imprint of Image Comics.

Daniel Warren Johnson's SPACE-MULLET

Daniel Warren Johnson’s SPACE-MULLET

The world of EXTREMITY, as Johnson states, is “visually stunning in keeping with the characters.” This is a barbaric and futuristic landscape. Think Mad Max. It is a world of extremes. Johnson’s writing process focuses on the characters first and builds out from there. At the forefront, is Thea, from the Roto Clan, who has been horribly wronged by the Paznina. What makes this story different from a typical revenge tale, Johnson told me, is that it is not just one person dealing with what happens next but an entire village.

ECCC variant for EXTREMITY #1

ECCC variant for EXTREMITY #1

Story is everything. Johnson’s method is to write out a script first, let that settle in, and then pursue the artwork. He says he could storyboard the whole thing out but it’s getting that script down that proves to be the most efficient.

Johnson has a very disarming personality. He has an immediate and direct way about him. As I sat in with him for a bit at Emerald City Comicon, he worked on some art while always engaging with visitors. “I invite folks to ask me anything,” he says. One thing that Johnson has become known for are his portraits where he renders his subject as a zombie. So, if you should meet up with Johnson, maybe you should ask him to draw you as a zombie.

Daniel Warren Johnson

Daniel Warren Johnson

Take a closer look at Johnson’s artwork and you’ll find that extra attention to detail. Johnson thanks an extensive art training background starting out when he was a kid and getting private lessons from a kind but determined Italian woman named, Rosetta. “I watch out for the details. If I’m going to draw a car, for instance, it is definitely going to look like a car.” But, for what finally got him where he is today, that he has to thank his wife for.

What Johnson foresees for himself, and hopes for the future of comics in general, is a focus on story, going deeper, beyond a “crafting of cool.” “You know, stories can come to and end too. The standard model is to keep characters going on forever. It can be refreshing to break that model, tell one character’s story from start to finish, and move on.”

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