Archive for October, 2008
Jeff Parker is a damn fine storyteller in my book. Well not my book, because I don’t have a book. But with Halloween fast approaching, Parker and company have put together Giant-Size X-Men: First Class #1 (set to hit your store this Wednesday) with a Halloween theme. As detailed by Marvel: ” Just in time for Halloween, The Beast starts conducting investigations into his own “X” files around the world! Are there aliens among us- or things even weirder? Featuring special guest-star artists and classic material too! And emboldened by the safety net of Nowlan inks, Parker even drew the cover!” As noted by Parker at his fun-lovin’ site, Parkerspace, Comic Book Resources has a preview of the book here. I was able to snag Jeff for a brief email interview recently, which is always fun for me. This blog would not exist were it not for Jeff’s encouragement and support, so I’m always happy to throw back some support his way.
Tim O’Shea: How did the Giant-Size X-Men: First Class with Halloween theme first get developed?
Jeff Parker: Me. I love Halloween specials, as might be obvious from the Monster-Size Hulk with the Frankenstein monster that came out this month. And my cool editors were fine with doing another special.
This Wednesday will see the release of Dynamite’s Army of Darkness #14. To find out what’s going with the series, I caught up with series writer Mike Raicht and artist Scott Cohn. I had the pleasure of meeting the creators at the recent Baltimore Comic-Con and from that meeting we were able to conduct this email interview.
Tim O’Shea: Am I correct in thinking that starting with issue 14, the focus will be a little less humor and little more horror? Or is humor too crucial an ingredient in any AoD story?
Mike Raicht: Starting with issue #14 we will be going a bit “darker”. However, Ash will still be Ash. His humor and outlook on being a Chosen One is crucial to the book and that will always remain. At least I hope. But the situations the book unleashes on Ash will be more horror oriented. The Book of the Dead has basically ruled Ash’s life for a long time now. So much so that Ash has kind of accepted his fate. He is the Chosen One and his job is to protect humanity from the horrors unleashed by the Necronomicon.
Writer Bill Kelter and artist Wayne Shellabarger have brightened this election season with their new book, Veeps: Profiles in Insignificance (set for release in November). In a departure from Top Shelf’s typical publishing material, this non-fiction effort is described by the publishing house as follows:
“It’s a tired but true cliché that every American Vice President is just a heartbeat away from the most powerful job in the world … a job they’ve often never really interviewed for. Who are these people? We all know about the one who shot his hunting partner in the face, but how about the tavern owner who once married one of his slaves and then sold her at auction when she tried to leave him? Or the one whose President went to his death regretting that he hadn’t had his Vice President hanged? Or the one who was too frequently inebriated to serve out the whole of his term? Over more than 200 years, the American voters have sent a platoon of rogues, cowards, drunks, featherweights, doddering geriatrics, bigots, and atrocious spellers to Washington D.C. to sit one bullet, cerebral hemorrhage, or case of pneumonia away from the highest office in the land. VEEPS tells the sordid, head-scratching, perversely-entertaining stories of these men we’ve chosen to ride shotgun in the biggest rig in democracy, without ever seriously considering the possibility that they might have to take the wheel. [296-Page Illustrated Hardcover (Non-Fiction), 5 5/8" x 8 1/2]“
I’m amazed at the efforts connected to the fun book. As Top Shelf co-publisher Brett Warnock wrote in a recent email: “. . . because this story is too big for a book, along with the upcoming release of Veeps: Profiles in Insignificance, Top Shelf Productions and Rufus Pictures are proud to announce a companion film to the book. Road To Insignificance tells the story of Veeps creators, Bill Kelter and Wayne Shellabarger, and their search for a new narrative for themselves along the road to the election and inauguration of America’s 47th Vice President…I actually co-directed this film, and the experience was outstanding, and made me even excited more about the book.”
I recently exchanged emails with Kelter and Shellabarger in a pretty fun exchange of emails about the book and the film. Enjoy. (And yes, in case you were wondering, the name Sarah Palin does come up…) Also, please note I asked a question or two based on galleys of the book, which has since been revised. But the authors’ candor was so amazing and unfiltered (about the creative process and outside struggles) that I felt it was extremely insightful (and hopefully beneficial to others on several fronts).
Tim O’Shea: Both of you are established as long-term fans/supporters (how would you characterize yourselves) of vice presidents. How was it that you decided to tackle the appreciation of VPs in a book?
Bill Kelter: Ah yes, the genesis story. The Veeps Project originated from one very drunk morning at my apartment in the Corbett-Lair Hill neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, in late 1999. It was two years after my girlfriend had moved out, and while she was there, she prodded me into nudging the landlord into letting us retile the bathroom floor. We replaced an old brown-and-white floral linoleum with alternating 10” x 10” tiles of white and British Racing Green. It looked fancy and modern, but aside from that, it did little for me.
When I set out to interview Mike Cavallaro, I knew a little bit about him. But I’ll be the first to admit I was surprised at how much I did not know about him and his career to date. Some folks may recognize the name from various projects he has worked on, but once we got into the email interview questions, it pleasantly surprised me just how deep his industry experience goes. When I contacted him for the interview in the first place, he quickly brought me up to speed on his current projects: He recently put the finishing touches on the Parade (with Fireworks) 72-page trade paperback, due out in November from Shadowline/Image Comics. As noted by Cavallaro: “PARADE originally debuted on ACT-I-VATE, our webcomics site, and was serialized there weekly in 2007. Shadowline picked up on it pretty early in the run, and released it as a two-issue limited series that was later nominated for a 2008 Eisner Award for ‘Best Limited Series’ (Gerard Way’s UMBRELLA ACADEMY won).”
He is currently working on Foiled, a 160-page graphic novel, with author Jane Yolen for First Second Books–a project that he’s penciling, lettering, inking and coloring. “I’m also penciling and inking a co-created six-issue limited series written by J.M. DeMatteis for IDW titled, ‘The Life And Times Of Savior 28′,” said Cavallaro. “My work on LOVIATHAN also continues for ACT-I-VATE. LOV is my superhero-sci-fi-fantasy-romance homage to the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby comics that I love, and is serialized weekly online.” And if that’s not enough for ya, he also has been doing some coloring work at Marvel. And with that substantial ground covered, on with the interview.
Tim O’Shea: Back in February 2008, you wrote at the First Second blog about working in the Deep Six Studio: “I’ve worked off and on at my own desk or at various studios here in NYC for almost 15 years, but this past spring I took a slightly different step. I rented a separate workspace with five other artists and moved my old art table in, along with a pile of the usual art-making stuff.” You touch upon it in the post, but I’m curious how much has your work–and to a larger extent–has your career been boosted by the experience?
Mike Cavallaro: I’m not sure I would currently have a career in comics if not for Deep Six and ACT-I-VATE, the two things being difficult to separate for me.
Paul Sizer can always rely on me to be a major supporter of his work. One of his trade collections for Little White Mouse features a foreword by me. I was a beta tester on his latest book, BPM. The only thing I like more than reading Sizer’s work is when I get to interview him. Before jumping into the interview, though, let’s get the basic info on BPM.
“BPM is a full color 96-page graphic novel written and drawn by Paul Sizer (LITTLE WHITE MOUSE, MOPED ARMY graphic novels). The graphic novel will contain the main story, plus a comprehensive sketchbook section and detailed playlists and notes. Plus, the book will also be linked with iMixes from the Apple iTunes website that provide a ‘soundtrack’ to accompany the book, as well as playlists for each of the main DJ characters, showing each person’s musical tastes.
“‘B.P.M.’ is Paul Sizer’s love letter to the music he loves. In combining the story of a young DJ with the power of computer enhanced artwork, Paul’s goal is to merge his love of comics and his love of music into a moving, dynamic story of passion, motivation and hard choices over following one’s creative dreams. Paul has challenged himself as a writer and artist, using new techniques to tell this story. Combining his art with hundreds of photos he’s taken in New York, Paul has worked to make “B.P.M.” a unique visual experience as well as a thoughtful and engaging story that transmits the raw power and inspiration that music can generate.
“‘Roxy spins records in dark clubs and small bars, hoping to make a name for herself as a DJ in the complex and demanding club culture of New York City. She stumbles across Robie, a burned-out former superstar DJ, who shows her how to rise to the next level of her art. As Robie’s mentoring begins to elevate Roxy’s career, she must choose whether to follow her heart or the beat of the music she loves. Looking for the ‘perfect beat’ is a long and demanding journey. Which path will Roxy choose, and what will she have to leave behind?’”
Once you read the interview, be sure to visit Sizer’s site which takes the concept of multimedia to its fullest extent. He taps into every form of media except reel to reel and HD, I think. The book is listed in October’s Previews (OCT084169) and will be available in stores by November. You can also buy the book via myriad links at Sizer’s site.