As often as possible here at the blog, I like to cover the creators and projects at ACT-I-VATE. This week, I focus upon Panels for Primates, which is“a charity anthology for the Primate Rescue Center, featuring an eclectic mix of primate stories by both well-known and up-and-coming creators”. While the stories are free (like all of ACT-I-VATE webcomics), readers are encouraged to donate what they can to the Primate Rescue Center, making sure to credit the donations to Panels for Primates. To learn more about the ongoing project, I email interviewed the project’s editor, Troy Wilson. Be sure to visit ACT-I-VATE today, as Panels for Primates is updated every Wednesday. My thanks to Wilson for his time.
Tim O’Shea: You launched the project with a story by writer Stuart Moore and artist Rick Geary. How did you score those two unique creators for the first story?
Troy Wilson: Pretty simple. I just asked. Initially, I had Rick paired with a different creator entirely, but that person had to bow out, due to a) other commitments, and b) the fact that he just didn’t feel he was coming up with anything worthy of Rick. So then I asked Stuart if he wanted to work with Rick, and I asked Rick if he wanted to work with Stuart – and they both jumped at the chance. It’s a bit of an odd pairing, really, but the results are fantastic. They bounce off each other quite nicely.
O’Shea: When former editor John Schlim Jr began this project, it was a very different beast. Has he had chance to see what you’ve developed it into? And if so, what does he think of it?
Wilson: Well, it’s very important to note that without John, this project simply wouldn’t exist. Period. He initiated the whole thing. Way back in 2007, he recruited a number of lesser-known creators, myself included, to contribute to a 20-page pamphlet of monkey comics for kids.
Today, Maria Cabardo–the director of a documentary about artist Jeffrey Catherine Jones, called Better Things–told me about her Kickstarter initiative for the unfinished project.
As described by Cabardo: “The movie is about Jeff’s life and involves other well known comic book artists who serve as the storytellers in the movie. The film covers the period of 60s comics in NYC, and the Studio years in the mid 70s as well (Go to macabfilms.com) … At present, we are editing the film and hope to finish a first rough cut by the 14th of next month.”
Jones has fascinated me since I met her back at a small comic convention in Atlanta in 2004. In the coming weeks, I intend to do an email interview with Cabardo, finding out the scope of the project and her progress on fundraising.
It’s quite likely that you’ve seen the work of Seth Kushner, even if you don’t read CulturePOP, his series for ACT-I-VATE with Photocomix Profiles of Real-Life Characters. As noted in his ACT-I-VATE bio: “Seth Kushner’s photography work has appeared in such magazines as The New York Times Magazine, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, Time, L’Uomo Vogue, and in galleries around the world. His book, The Brooklynites, (powerHouse Books, 2007) was considered ‘a terrific coffee table photo/interview book’ by The New York Times. Aside from living out his dream of writing a graphic novel based on his Schmucky past, he is working on Leaping Tall Buildings, a book profiling NYC cartoonists. Seth also co-created and co-edits the comics journalism website, GRAPHIC NYC and directs videos, including the “promo-mentary” film, (co-directed by Carlos Molina) The ACT-I-VATE Experience. Seth was born, bred and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife Terra, his son, Jackson, and way too many comics.” I love the range of topics/people that Kushner covers in CulturePOP–and I’m glad we got a chance to discuss the project.
Tim O’Shea: How do you go about selecting your subjects for CulturePOP?
A few weeks back, Lilli Carré dropped me a note about Eyeworks, the experimental animation festival that she’s co-directing with Alexander Stewart on this Saturday, November 6 at Chicago’s DePaul CDM Theater. As detailed at the festival’s website: “Eyeworks is a new film festival featuring abstract animation and unconventional character animation. Festival programs showcase outstanding experimental animation of all sorts: classic films, new works, overlooked masterpieces, and quirky footnotes of history.
Coming up November 6 and 7 (plus special events the evenings of November 4 & 5), the Brooklyn Lyceum (located at 227 4th Ave at President) will host the KingCon II, an independent comic, animation and illustration convention. The cost will be $7 day/$10 weekend (kids: $3 day/$5 weekend). To get the scoop on the con, I recently email interviewed the con’s co-director Regan Jay Fishman. Also the Lyceum’s program director Eric Richmond was kind enough to chime in with in-depth details about the special panels on Thursday (November 4). My thanks to Fishman and Richmond for their time.
Tim O’Shea: This is the second year of King Con, expanded from two to four days. As noted in the comments section of the Beat’s coverage of the announcement, the venue will be warmer this year. What other improvements or changes (adding an Artist Alley, for example) have you made based on feedback from last year’s attendees?
Regan Jaye Fishman: We have added an Artist Alley! We have also removed some risers to make for more room downstairs, Made the panels fifty minutes instead of a full hour to allow for changeover time, signings will be in the mezzanine instead of upstairs and the con has been extended by 30 minutes each day so that panels aren’t STARTING the SECOND people walk in the door.
Also, I will not be sporting a constant expression of abject terror.
A few months back, Ira Marcks, a New York-based cartoonist, contacted me about his recent collaboration with Jake Lodwick (the founder of Vimeo) regarding an experimental illustration/animation project featuring music composed by The Few Moments. Before or after you read this email interview with Marcks about the project, I invite you to watch the score (embedded below) as its an ambitious and intriguing concept on many levels. Now on with the interview (and my thanks to Marcks for contacting me in the first place).
Tim O’Shea: Among the three main factions in this project, Jake Lodwick, The Few Moments and yourself–whom approached whom about this project. How did you settle upon the term “illustrative score” for the project?
Ira Marcks: The process began with The Few Moments making a record called “March 3” for Jake Lodwick. At the time (2008) Jake had a record label called Normative through which he would release music by his artists in unconventional ways. The idea for this release was to have the music be accompanied by “one long, scrolling illustration”. Those are Jake’s words. It’s all the direction I was really given on the project. First thing that came to mind was Trajan’s Column in Rome. It’s covered from bottom to top in a bas-relief that scrolls around the column and tells the story of an ancient war. I imagined this project would be something of an automated version of that concept.
And in between, I talked a little bit about what I’m currently reading in terms of sequential art. Fatagraphics’ Blazing Combat features a few stories from the late Alex Toth (as well as many other talented artists). Who is Toth? Well among his many accomplishments, he’s the fellow that designed the look for Hanna Barbera’s Space Ghost and Super Friends.
Cecil Castellucci is a storyteller of many platforms. In a creative sense, she wears a seemingly infinite number of hats–the most apt description of her work can be found at her You Tube channel: “young adult author, Graphic Novel writer, filmmaker, performance artiste and general troublemaker”. Her 2007 Young Adult novel, Beige was released in paperback last month (March) . I caught up with her recently to discuss that novel, as well as the path that has led her to find a new voice as a writer. An interviewer always hopes to get a subject who can be as open and direct as Castellucci, but it happens so rarely, I’m always appreciative.
Tim O’Shea: Beige is partially inspired by your initial move to Los Angeles. While the novel is not your story, of course, I’m wondering if when writing a novel like this do you find you learn a little about yourself in the process?
Cecil Castellucci: While no novel is biography, there are always elements of myself and where I’m at or where I’ve been. Sometimes it’s a look back, sometimes it’s a reflection of now, sometimes an imagined path not taken. So, I think that I learn a little bit about myself from every novel I write. For Beige, I was inspired by moving to my particular neighborhood in Los Angeles, Silverlake, and dealing with all the punk in Los Angeles. Everything was so punk rock here and I felt like an outsider looking in, even though I had moved here to put out my first CD on No Life Records. I was working at Epitaph Records and I was this little indie rock girl who sang Twee music. I suppose in this case I learned about the essential roots of punk, which are pretty much the essential roots of being an artist in the world. Ask questions. Pay attention. Think for yourself. When you do that, it’s all good.
Yesterday I featured the first part of an interview regarding the Lee Weeks installment of TwoMorrows’ Modern Masters series. The first part was with Tom Field. This second part focuses on Eric Nolen-Weathington, the co-author of the Weeks book, as well as the designer and editor behind the entire Modern Masters’ series. It’s always a pleasure to interview Nolen-Weathington, so I was game to also discuss another book that Nolen-Weathington co-authored: Nick Cardy: Behind The Art, a work that goes beyond Cardy’s comics work and into his commercial illustration career.
Tim O’Shea: Do you think you could have been able to do the Weeks book without Tom Field’s involvement? Were you afraid that because Weeks and Field were such old and close friends it might make it harder for Field to ask tough questions in the process? Or due to the nature of these books (which intend to honor modern masters) is there ever a need to ask tough questions, per se? (feel free to tweek this question if need be).
Eric Nolen-Weathington: Yes, I do think I could have gotten Lee without Tom’s involvement, as I know several artists who are friends with Lee. And Lee was already on my list of guys I wanted to cover at some point. What Tom’ pitch really did was move Lee off the “sooner or later” list and onto the actual schedule.
Tom had already done a book for TwoMorrows on Gene Colan, Secrets in the Shadows: The Art and Life of Gene Colan, which I feel is one of the best books TwoMorrows has published. That was all I needed to know that he would do a good job with the interview. And having known Lee since childhood, I think Tom knew exactly where that line was of what he could ask and what he shouldn’t. The result is one of the most honest, open interviews of the series thus far.