Tag Archives: Skybound Entertainment

Interview and Review: Donny Cates and REDNECK

Donny Cates

Donny Cates (GOD COUNTRY) is a writer to watch. His new comic book series, REDNECK, comes out this Wednesday, April 19th, and it is a highly imaginative mashup of vampires and good ole boy Texan tall tale storytelling. There’s a lot going on here that raises this comic to the level of exceptional work. And that certainly includes the masterful inks by Lisandro Estherren and colors by Dee Cunniffe. You can find it at Skybound, an imprint of Image Comics.

Cates comes across as a natural born storyteller. He’s got a passion for bringing the reader into his world. In this case, it’s a motley crew of vampires holed up in a little patch of Texas hill country. These are good folk. Don’t mean no harm. Just want to live out their endless lives in peace, you see what I’m saying here, pardner?

It ain’t easy bein’ a vampire.

First off, you need to know that this is a real tasty twist on vampires. Cates suggests that this is a reverse image of The Walking Dead where it’s humans surrounded by monsters. In the case of Redneck, it’s monsters surrounded by humans–which can be a lot more dangerous as humans can get organized about their violence. The Bowman vampire clan would much rather be left alone to run the local barbecue joint while surviving all these years on just plain old cow’s blood.

Inks by Lisandro Estherren; Colors by Dee Cunniffe

Our main character is Bartlett. He’s a lanky old fella who is constantly being spooked by Perry, his young niece who reads his thoughts. We begin with Uncle Bartlett reminiscing over his time in the Civil War. Perry insists on knowing which side he was on. Bartlett gives a gruff but worldly response: Live long enough, and you learn not to take sides. But that level of tolerance is lost on the boys in the family who are restless and want to stir up a little trouble. Mind you, “the boys” are in their sixties. But it’s all relative when you’re talking vampire years.

What Cates envisions for this comic book series is an exploration of Southern culture through an entertaining story. You get to know these vampires on a deep generational level. There’s the boys, and Uncle Bartlett and his niece, Perry. Then there’s the patriarch, J.V., leading the pack. And there’s also Granpa who is God only knows how old. Best to keep him locked up in the attic. He makes a brief and cryptic appearance in this first issue.

I asked Cates about a moment in the story when J.V. complains about these “pincheways” the young people use. What the heck is that? Cates did not miss a beat and provides a window into the authentic flavor to this story. Pincheways are a name an old Texan friend of Cates’s uses for cell phones. Seeing a new generation and their rapid-fire texting sort of disgusts him. That’s one of the many quirky cultural gaps you’ll find in this first issue. The combination of quirky script and art definitely makes this a welcome twist to the vampire genre.

REDNECK #1 is available as of April 19, 2017. For more details, visit Image Comics right here.

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Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Horror, Image Comics, Interviews, Skybound Entertainment, Texas, Vampires

Review: ‘Witch Doctor, Vol. 1: Under the Knife’

Penny Must Be Fed!

I am still doing a bit of catching up since Emerald City Comicon. It was a privilege to get to interview some of the folks connected with Skybound Entertainment, one of the imprints at Image Comics. While I was browsing through the tables at Artist Alley, I got to chat with Lukas Ketner and he has the distinction of being attached, with writer Brandon Seifert, to Witch Doctor, the first Skybound Original published by Skybound, beginning in June 2011. Lukas was fun to talk to and encouraged me to give Witch Doctor a try if I hadn’t already. Too often, it takes me a while to warm up to horror titles. But, if the title is good, I am liable to become one of its biggest fans. So is the case with the quirky, unpredictable, and totally entertaining Witch Doctor.

Dr. Morrow and Absinthe O’Riley, curator of the Museum of Supernatural History.

What both Seifert and Ketner have set out to do is marry the best of gothic horror with a contemporary CSI vibe. Vampires, for example, are always an interesting topic for discussion. Plenty of theories out there on what makes these strange critters tick. For Brandon Seifert, a former medical student turned comic book writer, he has his own choice contributions…and they can get pretty bloody disgusting. But that’s part of the fun, right?

This is one dazzling work of comics.

Back to Lukas Ketner, the awesome illustrator on this series, he has gone above and beyond in giving us quite a look and feel to our proceedings. I think one of his crowing achievements is the good doctor’s patient/helper, one hauntingly beautiful yet thoroughly hideous Penelope “Penny” Dreadful. She was once a cute young art student with nothing more dire to consider than the state of contemporary art. Then one day, Penelope is infected by a most diabolical parasite that burrows its way into her. It seems that she just barely still exists, if at all. But Penny struck a bargain with our main character, Dr. Vincent, “the Witch Doctor” Morrow. Given Penny’s tremendous ability to slice and dice monsters, she helps the doctor on his special assignments while he keeps her/it fed and attempts to cure her. Penny Dreadful brings to mind Christina Ricci, as channeled by Mark Ryden, while still retaining its own peculiar vibe.

As for the good doctor, you can think of Dr. Vincent Morrow as something of a horror version of Doctor Who. This is a very dapper and clever fellow. And, just like the Doctor Who on the telly, you always have that odd sensation that anything can happen. This comic book series is stylish, clever, and often hilarious horror! One of the biggest mistakes a horror writer and/or fan can make is to just follow the blood. Fixating on the blood alone is, well, just bloody. Ultimately, that is a dead end. Thankfully, Seifert and Ketner create horror with a true heart pumping all along the way. This is one dazzling work of comics.

WITCH DOCTOR by Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner

Skybound Entertainment is an American entertainment company founded by Robert Kirkman and David Alpert in 2010. It produces content for comic books, film, television, and other media. For more details on Witch Doctor, if you have not already, proceed to the first volume collection, “Witch Doctor, Vol. 1: Under the Knife,” and use caution or sheer abandon–whatever works for you.

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Filed under Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Image Comics, Robert Kirkman, Skybound Entertainment

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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Filed under Comics, Daniel Warren Johnson, ECCC, Emerald City Comicon, Image Comics, Sci-Fi, science fiction, Seattle, Skybound Entertainment, Webcomics

ECCC 2017: Skybound Entertainment Overview with Editorial Director Sean Mackiewicz

Image Comics/Skybound Entertainment at Emerald City Comicon 2017

Image Comics/Skybound Entertainment at Emerald City Comicon 2017

Sean Mackiewicz is the Editorial Director of Skybound Entertaiment who oversees all comics titles, which include the upcoming EXTREMITY and REDNECK and Robert Kirkman titles THE WALKING DEAD, OUTCAST, and INVINCIBLE. I got a chance to chat with him for bit. He is the perfect person to provide a quick tour of Skybound Entertainment.

So, what is Skybound Entertainment? Well, most of you out there are familiar with THE WALKING DEAD, right? Robert Kirkman had a dream of bringing back, in a whole new way, the old black & white horror movies, especially zombie movies, he loved watching on Saturday morning television as a kid. His unique slant on zombies was thinking of a way to keep the story going, turning it into a ongoing saga. One thing led to another and THE WALKING DEAD, pardon the pun, came to life!

THE WALKING DEAD comic book series was created by writers Robert Kirkman and Harry Schofield and artist Tony Moore. In 2003, Image Comics began publishing it. By 2008, Kirkman was a partner with Image Comics. By 2010, Kirkman was heading up his own Image Comics imprint, Skybound Entertainment.

ECCC variant for EXTREMITY #1

ECCC variant for EXTREMITY #1

Skybound Entertainment is a place to showcase a wide spectrum of titles by Robert Kirkman as well as like-minded creators. It’s a unique place for creator-owned work to be shown to the world and to grow to its fullest potential. At Skybound, you have an assortment of comic book titles with character-driven, horror, and dark fantasy themes. Among the roster of Skybound titles: EXTREMITY (first issue out March 1at), by writer and artist Daniel Warren Johnson; and REDNECK, a horror comic written by Donny Cates and drawn by Lisandro Estherren, that will hit stores on April 19th.

To round out the picture a little more on Skybound Entertainment, I asked Mackiewicz if he could describe a typical day in his role as Editorial Director. He said that no day was typical but each day could see him overseeing comic book titles, developing new titles, and developing merchandise that uniquely fit a creator’s vision.

Regarding EXTREMITY, Mackiewicz expressed his deep admiration for the talent of creator Daniel Warren Johnson. “It’s not that often you find someone so good at both writing and drawing. Daniel is a unique talent,” said Mackiewicz. Daniel Warren Johnson proved to be one of those singular talents that started creating buzz with his online work as well as his drawing portraits of people as zombies.

Now that you have a better picture of what’s going on at Skybound, consider Robert Kirkman’s OUTCAST. This is one of the titles that seems to be on a similar path as THE WALKING DEAD with a successful comic resulting in a successful television show. This Southern Gothic may hook you if it hasn’t already. A loyal fan base awaits Season Two this April on Cinemax in the U.S. and on Fox in the U.K.

For more details, visit Skybound Entertainment right here. And, if you are going to Emerald City Comicon, there are a number of Image Comics panels to attend including a rare gathering of all the original Image Comics founders on Friday. This is at 1pm at Main Stage – WSCC 4A. Regarding Skybound in particular, on Saturday, starting at 12:30pm, there will be two panels taking place on Twitch’s ECCC Live stage. If you can’t attend ECCC, you will be able to view them on Twitch. For more details, visit Emerald City Comicon right here.

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Filed under Comics, ECCC, Emerald City Comicon, Horror, Image Comics, Robert Kirkman, Seattle, Skybound Entertainment, The Walking Dead

Review: MANIFEST DESTINY #1

Manifest-Destiny-01-Image-Comics

“Manifest Destiny” is a great name for a comic and now we have this gem, published by Image Comics, in connection with Skybound, which you can visit here. This is created and written by Chris Dingess. He admits to a passion for the weird so he’s just the right guy to mashup the Lewis and Clark expedition with a healthy dose of horror.

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Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Image Comics, Skybound Entertainment