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Pop Star Assassin Kickstarter

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Pop Star Assassin Kickstarter

I interviewed Ed Lavallee, a little over a year ago, for Comics Beat, about his unique take on an Elvis impersonator who has issues, or does he? I  recently ran into him again at Planet Comicon. He now has issue 2 of Pop Star Assassin out and he’s running a Kickstarter to fund the rest of the mini-series. I talked to him about everything he has going on right now for The GR1ND.

PSA KS main image copy

On the Kickstarter page it says, “Pop Star Assassin is a lysergic trip to the heart of American CONSPIRANOIA.” Where did that idea come from?

Ed Lavallee- The idea for Pop Star came about as a culmination of all of the pop cultural influences I loved growing up as a child in the 70’s. I loved all types of genre films sci-fi, horror, action/adventure, but the pinnacle for me was watching Black Belt theater on Saturdays. This was usually a double feature with crazy, over-the-top characters, and even crazier Kung Fu action, but at the same time it was juxtaposed by the hilarity of the badly dubbed English.


What is Pop Star About? Well Pop Star is set in the 70’s and starts out in Vegas, without giving away too much this first mini series sets events in motion that will change the face of the planet resulting in a very Blade Runner-esque – the only difference it will be brought with 1970’s low-fi gadgetry and tech. Big, bulky, and unreliable. Ray guns, EMPs, orbital weapons platforms, massive rooms full of giant super computers.


What does Elvis mean to you? Elvis did play a big part of my childhood. He was larger than life – The King of Rock n Roll. His fame was otherworldly, legendary. Part of that plays into the story in the fact that when Elvis died there was so much speculation, an unanswered questions…then the Elvis sightings started popping up and that just added to the mystery and elevated him to god-like stature in the eyes of the world – not just Americans. The tabloids are still running stories about Elvis to this day. Makes for a great story though, huh?;) Ultimately though, Bruce Lee is my ultimate inspiration and almighty idol!


Check out the Kickstarter here.

A Profile on Ink and Drink Comics

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Ink and Drink Comics started as a sketch meet up group in 2008 for a bunch of local comic book creators and artists that worked at the magazine/website Playback:STL. They would get together once a month on a Thursday to sketch, talk comics, and collaborate. Carlos Gabriel Ruiz pitched the idea of putting together an anthology book for the first Project Comic-Con, but the group needed a theme to unite it. Since the con was going to be shortly before Halloween, they decided on making it a horror book, and six months later their first genre anthology, Spirits of St. Louis, made its debut in October 2010. They ended up selling out of their first print run, which blew their minds. The Ink and Drink crew enjoyed it so much that they decided to do it again, and their second book, the crime anthology Shots in the Dark, made its debut at C2E2 in 2011. The rest is drunk history as the collaborative is still meeting once a month today and cranking out graphic novel anthologies. The GR1ND sat down with creative director, Carlos Gabriel Ruiz, editor in chief Jason Green and deputy editor Steve Higgins to chat about comics, their newest releases and where you can find Ink and Drink comics.

What’s up with the new release Spirits of St. Louis II – Hair of the Dog?

Carlos Gabriel Ruiz-Spirits of St. Louis II – Hair of the Dog, our newest book, just made its debut on April 20th. Having cycled through all of the genres we could think of, Spirits II is the first time returning back to a genre we’ve covered before. It’s a great mishmash of stories in the fine Ink and Drink tradition, and the book features a few ghost stories, some demon hauntings, a coven of vampires, monsters, zombies, and a few psychological horror stories. We’ve had a month-long slate of release parties, signings, and events to help celebrate the release and it seems like the party train will soon be coming to a stop. But the good thing is that Spirits II is now available in finer comic book shops around the St. Louis area and also online at the Ink and Drink Comics Store.

Who is featured in the book?

Carlos– The book features 16 tales of horror to delight and scare our viewers. The regular edition features a cover by Adam Davenport and a back cover by Kyle Morton. The Wizard World St. Louis edition featured a cover by Bryan Ward and a back cover by Jim Mosley. It has an introduction by Bryan A. Hollerbach. There’s a long list of contributors to the book.

What roles do you each play at Ink and Drink?

Jason Green- My upfront role as an editor is whatever people want it to be. Some contributors work in a vacuum and just turn in their submission when it’s done, while others like feedback along the way and I’m always game to read advance scripts and offer advice. I also tend to take a pretty active role at pestering people to contribute and coax work out of them as the deadline approaches. On the tail end, it’s reviewing and copyediting the submissions to hunt out grammar mistakes and misspelled words and gathering together the ancillary stuff like copyright information and contributor biographies. And in addition to writing my own stories, I’ll also frequently pitch in on lettering other people’s stories to help get them across the finish line.

Steve Higgins- I’m pretty much on the same page as Jason, looking over people’s scripts beforehand to give them pointers on how to proceed and checking out the finished art afterward to proofread for errors. I also tend to do a lot of the promotional work for our books. Of the three of us I think I’m probably the most active with our social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. I wrangle people together at the meetings themselves and tend to run the “business” portion of those meetings. I coordinate a lot of the events we attend, like the signings we’ve recently done and our convention appearances, to figure out who in our extensive crew might be available to participate. And of course I write my own contributions to each anthology we do. I’m actually one of a handful of people who has contributed to every book we’ve done (sometimes multiple pieces), which is something the other editors can’t say and that I like to rub in as frequently as possible.

Carlos- I’m responsible for putting the book together from a creative and design perspective. I work with the artists who create the covers and title page illustrations, pitching them ideas on what we’re looking for and vetting their ideas with the rest of the group. From there, I’m responsible for producing the book, from creating the logos, to designing the layout of the book, to getting all of  the story files production ready for our printer. The three of us basically pick the theme for each book and then curate it, reviewing all of the submissions, editing the work, and giving any feedback or notes for each submission. We hold the work to a pretty high standard. Unfortunately, that means from time to time we have to reject some contributions, but that is usually a pretty rare occurrence.

How was Wizard World St. Louis?

Carlos– Wizard World St. Louis was great this year! We had our best con ever, partially because we had a limited edition Wizard World exclusive of our new book Spirits of St. Louis II – Hair of the Dog that featured a St. Louis-centric front cover and back cover. Plus, we now have 13 books available and have developed a pretty strong local following. It’s great to get repeat customers who keep coming back for the newest books because we couldn’t do it without their support. We’re excited to continue putting out a new book every six months.


What other books does Ink and Drink have out?

Carlos- When we started, we had the idea of doing a book for every genre, in the hopes of having something for every reader. Six years later we now have a book for every genre, plus a book that we put together for St. Louis’ 250th anniversary and a collection of the first three mini-comics we put out for Free Comic Book Day. Also, each book has a drinking pun as a title.

What is the St Louis comic scene like?

Carlos– Thriving! There is a tremendous amount of talent coming out of St. Louis these days. We’re lucky to live in such a great comics town, with a rich history of artists and writers and a flourishing community of newcomers. Plus, everyone is very supportive of one another.  It also helps that there are a ton of great shops in and around St. Louis and lot of public support for comics (as seen by the Comics University put on by the St. Louis Public Library and their recent forays into hosting a comic convention). It’s funny because there was always a good indie comics scene in St. Louis, but we had a hard time finding it until we started Ink and Drink Comics in 2009/2010. Suddenly we went to our first local con and discovered that there were a few other collectives putting out books and meeting together to collaborate. It was eye-opening to see so many people coming together to make comics.

What do you have in the works now?

Carlos– We had our 5th Free Comic Book Day mini-comic that came out on May 7th for FCBD 2016 called On the House – 5th Round: Knights in White Satin. Our next anthology is a book called Hungover – Stories from the Bottom of the Barrel. It is a slight departure from most of our books in that it is not a genre anthology but instead serves as a catch-all for all genres. In each of our previous books, we’ve had people who had a story they wanted to contribute but were unable to because either time ran out or they had prior commitments. This book is their chance to give life to that story. We have a feeling that it may be our largest book yet, in terms of pages, and we hope that it serves as a great sampler to all of the fine genre work that we do. That book is set to debut at Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MD, in September.


As an indie comics publishers what have you learned?

Carlos– Deadlines matter. Each of our books is based around a convention release, so it is important that we hit our deadlines in order to deliver the books to the printer in enough time to make the conventions. The simple truth is that if you put out product on a regular basis, people will keep coming back for it because they come to expect a new release on a regular basis. So many indies shoot themselves in the foot by publishing infrequently and sporadically. We’re really proud to have kept up the two-books-a-year pace for over five years now, plus the Free Comic Book Day minicomics.

Stories matters. While our anthologies are centered around genre, they are built up around stories that offer a wide range in art styles, tone, and subject matter. We don’t require slavish devotion to a format; we just require they be good stories well told. If a story doesn’t go anywhere interesting or if the artwork can’t tell a story, we wouldn’t include it in our anthology. We set a pretty high bar for our books, and if the submissions don’t meet that bar, they’ll be left on the cutting room floor.

Quality matters. It’s becoming much easier to self-publish, which means that there are a lot of comic books being made out there and a lot of good books being put out. If you factor in the somewhat declining market, the competition for someone’s hard-earned dollar is getting tougher and tougher each day. People are willing to support indie comics if they feel they’re getting their money’s worth. It’s important for us to put out a great looking book that is nicely designed, has good production value, and contains great content. We’ve all been to a convention and seen someone’s crudely drawn 10 page mini-comic that they’re selling for $5, and for us, that seems like a pretty tough sale. While someone may pick it up, it’s a hard expense to justify when you can get a full-color 24 page comic for $3.99 and 100+ page full-color Ink and Drink book for $10.

Variety matters. Selling a book to someone who has never heard of you can be pretty tough, especially if you have only one or two of something. The great thing about anthologies is the variety of the art styles and the stories that are contained within each book. We like to say that we have something for everyone, which is especially true now that we have over 13 books in print that cover every genre, including two books that are specifically kid-friendly.

What will the rest of 2016 hold for Ink and Drink?
More cons, more events, more books, and more beer! We have a pretty full slate of future conventions that we’re attending, including Planet Comic Con 2016 in Kansas City, Central Con at the St. Louis Library, Small Press Expo (SPX) 2016 in Maryland, and many, many more. We’ll continue meeting on the 3rd Tuesday of every month and we’ll keep making new books every six months. We may also have a few beers for good measure.

To check out Ink and Drink comics go here.

Artist Profile: Nathan Gooden

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CME Comics new book Deadeye Begun in Blood hits stores Wednesday April 6th. Set in the American frontier Deadeye, a bounty hunter tracks those responsible for his nightmarish past. But as he hunts his own prey he finds something far worse. Like a Spaghetti Western this graphic novel vividly depicts the old west, its denizens and its landscape. The GR1ND got with the man who illustrated the book, Nathan Gooden, to ask him about his art.


How long have you been using watercolors as an artistic form?

I’ve been experimenting with watercolors since high school. It was one of the first mediums that I took serious interest in, and I’ve learned to love the technical challenges it poses. To work effectively in this medium, you have to learn to map out a whole composition, brush stroke by brush stroke, before you touch brush to paper. And then you have to learn to adapt to paper, paint, and brush, when things don’t go as planned.

How did doing the backgrounds in this western landscape differ?

I try to keep the emphasis on characters and action. My backgrounds are fairly washed out and low contrast, with little variation in tone, and minimal detail. On the other hand, I paint the characters or action at the focal point of a composition in brighter, more varied colors. There you’ll find the darkest shadows and brightest highlights. This helps to separate the focal point from the background and create a sense of depth.

What type of research went into the artwork?

Research is vital to my process. I can’t draw what I don’t know. But the Internet is a sort-of magic tool for an artist. With it I can seek inspiration for style and tone: here I draw a lot from the great Westerns of the late 1950s and early 1960s, in particular the work of Sergio Leone. And it also lets me familiarize myself with almost any subject. If I need to see what a saguaro cactus looks like at sunset, or figure out what a Civil War-ear Colt revolver looks like when you’re staring down the barrel, the images are somewhere to be found online.

What was it like working with the writer on this graphic novel?

Good work in comics and graphic novels requires close collaboration between the artist and the writer. It’s a marriage of sorts. Like any successful marriage, it requires compromise, but perhaps even more significantly, it requires commitment to your individual values. On this particular project, I’ve known Adrian (the writer) for decades, and we have a level of trust you can’t achieve any other way. So, for the most part, he trusts me to compose the story visually, and I trust him to assemble its narrative elements. Even so, every project has its small skirmishes between artist and writer. Often, these result in the best moments in the book.


Were you inspired by the Spaghetti Westerns?

I was hoping to give the book a solarized, cinematic feel that evoked Sergio Leone’s best work. I wanted to capture the vastness, and desolation of the setting. As the title suggests, this story begins in blood, and the world just goes on bleeding everywhere Deadeye wanders. By painting the blood in such sharp contrast to the backgrounds, you can see the vein of violence Deadeye carves through the narrative.

I absolutely love working in watercolors and brushed ink, and I can really open up in this medium. But as I said above, it also requires a level of planning, forethought, and planning over and above some other media. While I can put down my Micron pens and take a lunch break whenever I want, if I walk away in the middle of a watercolor painting I’ve just thrown away a sheet of bristol board. The fantastical or mystical tone and visual style of the book was a well-considered choice. Adrian and I planned this from day one. I owe a tremendous creative debt to Sergio Leone, whose work was a touchstone throughout this project.

Check out today to learn more.

Getting Weird with DISKORDIA creator Rivenis

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Barbados comic creator Rivenis is making waves around the world with his dark fantasy comic, Diskordia. In the book, Rivenis channels Lovecraft and Leary to conjure a surreal world painted in electric Kool-Aid. The cast of characters is colorful as a social misfit named Jackal Black is lead through a dreamscape by his personal guide and bodyguard, Squidgirl.  Diskordia is wonderfully literary while still bringing plenty of action and humor as Jackal navigates Dreamtime and the dark manifestations lurking there in.

Rivenis steadily supplies his growing fan base with fourteen issues and more to come. While working on issue fifteen, he’s finishing a Kickstarter campaign for a printed collection. The GR1ND caught up with him to talk about his work.

Diskordia creator, Rivenis
Diskordia creator, Rivenis

What’s your origin story? How long have you been reading comics and what made you make the jump into creating comics?

I’ve been reading comics since my dad bequeathed his enormous collection of classics to me in the 90’s. My inheritance so to speak. I had been drawing comics as a hobby pretty much all my life. I didn’t think of it as an actual career path until much later however, when I realized that it was the medium that suited me best as an artist and writer.

Are there any particular comics or creators that you enjoy or have inspired your work?

I love very offbeat and experimental work. Some examples that directly inspired me are The Sandman, Tank Girl, The Maxx, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Lucifer, Transmetropolitan and Groo

What’s Barbados like for comic creators? Is there an active scene?

Comics have  been a thing in Barbados for as long as I’ve lived here however it has been very much an underground pursuit. Now keep in mind I’m only referring to being a fan of comics. The creating of comics as a serious commercial pursuit is quite new. Besides myself there is a comic collective known as Beyond Publishing which is making headway with Caribbean themed works. I feel quite positive that the industry will grow very rapidly here as creators like myself are beginning to prove its viability.

A few of the colorful cast of characters found in Diskordia.
A few of the colorful cast of characters found in Diskordia.

What’s the backstory for Diskordia? It reads as pretty stream of conscious. Do you have a long term plan or are you just letting inspiration lead you? Somewhere in between?

I’d say it’s somewhere in between. I take alot of inspiration from surrealist film makers like David Lynch. However there is a definite method to this madness. My goal with Diskordia is to perfectly straddle the line between surreality and narrative. There’s a strong, coherent story running through the book but it requires a little bit of extra effort and hindsight to follow.

In an early issue of Diskordia  you mix in some extended prose. As a storyteller, is there a reason for this?

The prose was very much experimental on my part, and only happens in the second issue. With the first section I was going for the air of a magazine interview though I’m not sure it worked. The second section is story book prose which I think works much better and may use again in the future.

With fourteen issues of Diskordia out already (even before a print edition) how do you manage to stay motivated as a one-man-show with writing and illustrating?

Mainly because I feel compelled to tell this story. I’ve been crafting worlds for as long as I can remember and watching it come together is immensely satisfying for me. Positive feedback also helps to pick up the slack whenever I get disheartened. Ultimately though it’s a self fueling system: the more issues I put out the more I feel motivated to continue.

You also wrote a novel called the Dreamless. As a writer, is penning a graphic novel different than a prose novel?

Creatively it’s two paths to the same goal; to tell an engrossing story. Writing a novel is more efficient as creating artwork is a very lengthy process. My main reason for doing comics instead is a selfish one. I wanted to exercise both of my passions at once.

Your Kickstarter for the first print collection has easily surpassed the original goal and is now tearing into stretch goals. Has the enthusiastic response been a surprise?

Actually, yes. Diskordia is a very niche work. I created it as artistic expression, rather than with commercial appeal in mind. The fact that so many people identify with my weird little story is very gratifying. Also as an independent creative I tend to be a little pessimistic. This whole campaign has caused me to re-evaluate that stance.

Rockstars of the Dreamtime - Jackal Black and Squid Girl
Rockstars of the Dreamtime – Jackal Black and Squid Girl

Which character is more similar to you, Jackal or Squidgirl?

It’s hard to choose between them as they both embody alot of elements of my personality. Whether it be Jackal’s calm cynical nihilism of Squidgirl’s Manic psychopathy. I’d say it’s an even split hah!

Where can I get an octopus hat? Shit’s dope.

Squidgirl knows, but she ain’t telling.

You can get in on the madness by reading Diskordia on Comixology or directly from the creator. Speaking of Rivenis, be sure to follow the “lord of Diskord” on Twitter. With only eight days to go on the Kickstarter campaign, be sure to preorder the printed edition while you can.

The Birdlander

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Aaron Walther is all about comics. If he’s not writing one of the numerous comics he publishes than he is hosting his Comic DNA podcast. He is big on the local scene and big on helping out his fellow indie creators. Aaron has a brand-new comic out too. Its called The Birdlander and we had a chat with Aaron so that he could tell us about it and all the other stuff he gets up to in his busy life.

What is The Birdlander comic about?

After cataclysmic changes in the distant past, Earth has been repopulated by dinosaurs. Humanity struggles to rebuild it’s once great society, and through the turmoil and chaos, people tell stories of a man known only as The Birdlander. The story follows a young woman named Sumi, who is searching for the eponymous Birdlander for personal reasons. The main theme of the book is “perspective” and how we view ourselves compared to other people. Sumi is attempting to learn everything she can about The Birdlander, and there is no shortage of people who have a story to share about him. The Birdlander, himself, is only shown in flashback stories told by other characters and is depicted differently depending on how the character views him, whether they think he’s a hero, a villain, or just a myth.

What is your role on the book?

I am the writer, letter and co-creator along with my artistic partner, Ed Bickford, who does all of the illustration.


What other stuff have you done?

For the last five years or so, I’ve been publishing comics at The main series I wrote was a superhero comedy called Zero’s Heroes, which ran as a webcomic from 2010-2015. I also did a science-fiction anthology book called Science Hero, which contained different sci-fi themed comics I wrote. All of these have since been put on hold, as I am retooling my website format and also focusing more of my efforts on The Birdlander.

Tell us about your podcast?

I host a podcast called Comic DNA (which can be found at and is also on iTunes) in which I and a comic creating guest talk about comics that we like. The intent is not to do reviews because I’m not really interested in telling people what they should or shouldn’t read, nor am I interested in giving out bad reviews, but more to just have a conversation about a comic and discuss it. I try to get multiple guests on each episode, both artists and writers, and not just talk about books that we like, but also books that influence us as creators and give a perspective that’s a little bit more than fun gushing, though I’ll admit there is plenty of that. We will talk about any comic, regardless of genre, age, or country of origin. I like to read all different types of comics, whether they be mainstream, superhero, indie self published comix with an “x”, European comics, manga, or New York Times art snob comics, etc. (though a cursory glance at our episodes will reveal my childhood Marvel bias…) I wish I could do the podcast weekly, but right now it’s on an irregular schedule. I have different guests on each episode, and it can be hard juggling everybody’s schedules.

What do comics mean to you?

That’s an interesting question. I’ve been reading comics my whole life, and from an early age they were the fuel for my overly active imagination. I suppose, in a very melodramatic way, comics mean freedom. Comics are a weird little medium that can often times feel overlooked or ignored, and as a result it has a very passionate set of fans and creators. Compared to other visual mediums, such as movies or video games, the production costs are very small and in many cases can be covered by a single person. Comics have always been kind of anti-social (for lots of different reasons) and they can be really subversive. There’s a bit of a punk rock attitude at the very root of comic creation, which I like.


What comics did you like growing up?

The single most important comic I read growing up was Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson. I used to cut out all the Sunday strips and hang them on my bedroom walls. I loved that comic because it was very accessible, with a deceptively clever wit. It was visually stimulating on a simple level, but as a kid, I always felt like it was smarter than me (because it was) and it challenged me. Watterson inadvertently introduced me to many philosophical and scientific concepts that I would not have had the patience for had I been learning about them in school. Apart from that, I was a big reader of Spider-man and the X-men. I was a big Marvel Comics fan throughout most of my childhood. When I hit High School I ditched the “kids comics” and started reading lots of manga. Of course, looking back, most manga is just as juvenile as any of the American superhero stuff, but it was different so it grabbed my attention.

How did they influence your work?

As an adult, I enjoy looking at the craft that goes into creating a comic story and analyzing how different cultures or genres approach it. The one thing I try to instil in most the comics I write (not all, but most) is to create a story that can be as entertaining to younger readers as it is intellectually stimulating to adult readers. That is a lot harder than you’d think! I read lots of comics as a kid, and though they didn’t all hold up, the ones that did (such as the aforementioned Calvin and Hobbes or pretty much anything by Barry Winsor-Smith) mean more to me than anything else in the world.

What do you think about the st. louis comic con scene?

The St. Louis con scene has really grown in the last few years. I’m glad that there is a Wizard World for fans that are into that kind of a show, though personally I am not. I think the best thing to happen in recent years is the St. Louis Small Press Expo. It’s a great little show put on by some really passionate people dedicated to highlighting small press and self published material. It’s not strictly a comics show, but there are a lot of comics there. I was very disappointed I had to skip it last year due to a conflicting schedule, but I look forward to the 2016 show.

What can people expect from you in the future?

I am pushing to have the first Birdlander graphic novel finished by the end of the year. We are serializing it as a webcomic at I am also writing a Zero’s Heroes spin off with artist, Kevin Bandt, called The Amoral Stingray, which is sort of an inversion of the Peter Parker style superhero comic. The main character is a teenager who gains superpowers, but instead of becoming a superhero, he decides to become a supervillain. You can read a preview at my personal website, The first issue will be finished soon, but we haven’t decided how we’re going to put it out, yet. In addition to that, I am also working on finishing a graphic novel called Dogtown, which was started in Science Hero. Then, of course, at some point I’m working on getting another Zero’s Heroes book done and about a million other projects that aren’t worth mentioning because there’s no telling when they’ll see the light of day.


Tell us a little bit about your background?

I probably have the most uninteresting background ever. I grew up in southern Illinois, right outside of St. Louis and I spent all my time reading comics and playing guitar in small time bands (though I definitely did more comics reading than guitar playing). At some point, I thought that writing and creating comics was a worthwhile endeavor and have refused to look back ever since

If you like this profile then read about this review on Supreme Team.

A Chat with Headliners creator Kevin Strieter

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Kevin Strieter is the creator, artist and writer of Headliners, a comic that introduces readers to a new universe. Headliners is just the first of many series Kevin has planned. You can check out his work at THE GR1ND just sat down with him for an interview about his comic book and all that he has in the works. Plus you can check out some images form the book in this piece. But don’t let us tell it, here’s Kevin in an exclusive with THE GR1ND-


Describe what Headliners is all about?

The Headliners series is a kick off of the Headliners Universe that features many different types of Heroes, and Villains.  The setting is much like that of the big 2 comic book companies, but because of the events of the Headliners series it will change immensely setting up a vastly different universe that’s ever been in comics before.

What role do you play on this comic?

I’m the creator, writer, artist, letterer, and in many cases the inker and colorist.

What other work have you put out or been involved with?

My only experiences have been involved with the Headliners universe.  Before I started I spent a lot of time studying the literature available about comic books.  Much of the information I studied related to comic book art, but the other stuff included writing, and the overall process of how comics are made.  In some cases admittedly I’m still learning.


Why should a comic fan check out Headliners?

Headliners is everything that you want the big 2 to be as a unified universe.  You don’t have to strain your eyes to connect my books together, the fit is easy and in some cases necessary to give you that broad unified story your looking for in a unified universe.  The characters are unique in their own way, but you can see some similarities between the comic book legendary characters and the Headliners characters.  I’ve tried to keep the similarities to a minimum to make sure what your reading is a new character and not a rip off of something already out there.

By the end of the Headliners series you will see a complete transformation of the world in a way that has never been done before in comics.  You won’t have to look for danger, because it will be everywhere.  Which is really the point of having superheroes.  Unless there is some catastrophe that requires the help of special individuals, then the local governments and police can handle it.


Who are the main characters int he book and what powers do they have?

The Headliners series has many different heroes, and in some cases there are some being created.  Here are a few of the main heroes of the Headliners Universe.

Sam “The Samaritan” North, who has a metal alloy that has infected his body.  It provides him resistance to harm in most cases, and makes him stronger than humans.

Calderan, who is a alien,trapped in our Solar system.  He’s able to generate an alien green fire that allows him to fly.

The controller (Amanda).  Alpha Team is a government organization.  Amanda has no powers, but is in charge of managing the superheroes on this team.

Primus – Calls on immortal essence and magic to give him the super abilities he needs to defeat his foes.

Sandstorm – A speedster who got his name from delivering mail across the desert.

Kronos – The legendary Titan immortal who uses magic to defeat his enemies.

Halfmoon (Villain) – A super powered zombie that comes back every month on the crescent moon to only disappear again on the halfmoon.

The Professor (Villain) – A human with magical abilities.


This is not your typical superhero book or is it? Explain.

Well I think the word typical and superhero are complete opposites when it comes to superhero books, because in superhero books anything goes.  So in that regard, yes it’s a typical superhero book.  In regards to how the Headliners looks and feels, it’s much different.  The settings, and how the characters inter react are much different than the typical superhero book.  In life there are consequences, and unlike other superhero books, the Headliners characters have consequences to all their actions.  That ranges from paying rent to trying to save the world.

What is the process of bringing your characters to life?

Many of the characters mirror me in my life.  Others come from problems I foresee in the Headliners Universe.  Typically I start with an idea, then a sketch.  If I like it, I run it by some people to see what their reaction is before developing a story plot around the character.

What do you have planned next is Headliners a series? a graphic novel? or what?

Headliners is a series, but it’s also a universe.  The Headliners series is planned for 5 books.  The first 2 books are on the Headliners website already (  You can read them now for free. The third book in the series will be posted on the Headliners website mid December 2015.  The best part, it will be posted Netflix style.  The whole book all at once.  Many comic book websites only give you one or two pages a week.  Starting with Headliners #3, I will be posting Headliners books to the website complete.  After the fifth book is complete, the Headliners series will be available as a graphic novel.

In the future there will be Headliners Universe books such as, Primus, Kronos Chronicles, Reapers, and Calderan to start.  Obviously I wont be drawing all of them, but I will be making sure that all stories interlock seamlessly into the Headliners Universe.

Where can people get the comic or check you out?

The best place to get the Headliners comic book is at to read it online for free.  After the series is complete there will be a physical copy of the graphic novel available.

If you liked this article check out our preview of Once Our Land.

Once Our Land Graphic Novel

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Peter Ricq is a multitalented renaissance man. Besides releasing music and playing in a band, he also is directing a feature film and putting out Once Our Land, his first graphic novel. He is a man of many talents. I was attracted to the art displayed in his graphic novel and the contradictions between the two main characters, Fritz and Ingrid. The comic is a sort of fantasy/sci-fi hybrid and has a kind of Battle Chasers flair. Peter just completed a successful Kickstarter campaign and the full graphic novel will be coming out in 2016. Until then check out this exclusive interview that he did with The GR1ND-

Describe the two main characters in your graphic novel Once out Land?

The novel focusses on two characters, one named Fritz and the other Ingrid. Fritz is a 62 year old man, a  warrior who carries a big heart. Unlike most warriors, Fritz likes being in the company of others, sadly enough, there aren’t many people left.


Weapon of choice: A huge stick/spear.

Ingrid is an 11 year old survivor who never gives up no matter the outcome. Ingrid likes to keep to herself although everything changed once she met Fritz. She also has a big appetite, too bad portions are scarce. I based Ingrid off my mother who carries the same name.


Weapon of choice: Slingshot.

Why did you decide to set the story in 1830s Germany?

I decided to have the story take place in Germany because I’ve always enjoyed old German tales, they are kind of creepy yet still engaging. My mother had a couple classic German books around the house like Struwwelpeter. Struwwelpeter is a children’s book that comprises several short stories with the outcome of misbehavior demonstrated in disastrous consequences in a dark exaggerated way. It was made in 1845.

I also went to see my mother’s side of the family in a town called Rothenburg aub der Taube that is situated in southern west Germany. I went there numerous times growing up and it’s such a beautiful town that I wanted to tell a story with that as it’s setting.

My parents also had a book by the artist Carl Spitzweg, a legendary German painter from the 19th century. I based a lot of things off of his paintings for things such as what people wore in that century and what people had as home appliances and decorations.

You said the monsters were inspired by HP Lovecraft and the Simpsons, care to elaborate?

The monsters are definitely inspired by HP lovecraft, I’ve always been intrigued by Lovecraft creature stories. The tentacles, the creatures, demon from another world, pure evil, it”s good stuff.

As for the Simpsons’ alien’s inspiration, it was more of a joke, I just thought they look like them but totally wasn’t intentional when designing them.

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Your kickstarter was successful describe the feeling?

It feels good when you try hard to do something right and it actually turns out being successful, that doesn’t happen often. I’m very grateful to be living in a time where it’s easier for artists to be independent thanks to the internet and crowd funding networks like Kickstarter.

How long has this graphic novel been in development?

Been a long time, the first chapter was made when I was around 19 years old while I was attending a comic book school back in Montreal in 2000. When I completed it, my brother didn’t believe that I had written it which I guess is a good thing. In 2012, I sent the comic to a french publisher and they loved it but they wanted me to add 40 more pages. The deal they offered me was very poor and they kept a lot of the rights so I decided to do it on my own. I hired my friend Sunny Shah to do most of the second chapter but I later took over because I had more free time. If it were done full time It wouldn’t have taken that long.

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What type of story line do you put Fritz and Ingrid through?

It’s an adventure, action tale. They run, hide, jump, sleigh creatures. It’s a fun story I think, I hope.

You wore a lot of hats on this project, explain?

When doing comics, you don’t need a big production team, it can be a one man job kind of thing. I like having full control and I’ve been doing comics and animation for over a decade so it’s just something I’m comfortable doing.

When is the graphic novel going to be available and where?

It will be available at, as soon as the Kickstarter is over, you can pre-order the book through there. I’m also planning on doing a book Launch tour, in April (book will be ready by then). I’ll be hitting up Vancouver, Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto. I’m also planning on doing New York, Portland and LA. The book Launch show will also have some of the art from the art show I had on Dec 4th here in Vancouver.

Is their any significance behind the title? Please explain?

Creatures have surfaced and taken over the land that Ingrid and Fritz used to call theirs. It isn’t theirs anymore but was at one time. That’s it.

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What other work have you done and where can people find out more info about you?

I’ve co-created, art directed and directed several animated television series. That’s my main source of income. I direct music videos for my bands HUMANS, Gang Signs and Ladyfrnd. I just finished co-directing and editing a documentary feature that is called “Come Together”. We are submitting it to festivals now. I show art on a regular basis and am getting ready to shoot my first dark comedy/Horror feature film next fall.

You can find out more about me and all my work through my website

I’m hoping this book does well because I would love to write a sequel to Once Our Land. I’ve gotten to know and develop the world and it’s characters deeper and there is a bigger story waiting to be shared.

If you liked this check out the profile on Comics and Bullets. 

Headmetal Comics

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COVER whole

Original Character Sketch

The Gr1nd recently talked to Chris Orndoff, the publisher at Headmetal Comics. He broke down what his graphic novel, The Headmetal Racket is about and let us know the players involved. Check out the interview and check out Headmetal Comics too.

What is Headmetal Comics?

Headmetal Comics started one night at band practice. I told my friends about a short story I had written for a freshman english class; the project was to draw an original character and create that character’s origin story. I hadn’t drawn a friggin’ thing in over ten years, but in my mind’s eye… there he was… Blueseph J. Headmetal: the boy born with a guitar head.

My friends loved the character and the story. One of them said, “lets make a mini-comic about this character and use it as the cd insert for our first album.” We still haven’t finished the album (we are still jamming though), but as for the the comic… We have since collaborated internationally with an AMAZING Italian artist to create an 88 page graphic novel starring Blueseph J. Headmetal .

So, Headmetal Comics is nothing more than a group of energetic people making things.

What is your graphic novel about?

The quick pitch for The Headmetal Racket goes like this: Born by way of an amplified vibrator… the guitar headed boy must fight the forces of media consolidation and save our freedom of speech. And that’s the main theme: Freedom of Speech vs Media Consolidation.

The mainstream media is a shill for something toxic. At some point you have to turn down the outside influence and create a real life, which supports your original thoughts and feelings.


How do you mix music and comics?

We created what we call a “Comic with *Crescendo.” A crescendo is an Italian word, which means a gradual increase in loudness or intensity The Headmetal Racket starts off in black & white with very limited use of color throughout the first 4 chapters. Gradually, a monochrome color scheme rolls through chapters 5-9. The story then explodes into full color for chapters 10-13.

As I mentioned before, our comic is 88 pages long — there are also 88 keys on a piano — this is not a coincidence. There are thirteen chapters to represent the full chromatic scale, and the octave. There are also direct references to my favorite Rock & Roll icons as well as my favorite songs.

Here is great review I received from a talented St. Louis writer that really speaks to how we mix comics and music: “You’re narrative is very lyrical in the way it bounces forward over long stretches of time, stopping only briefly to highlight a key character moment or interaction, hitting you with exactly enough information you need for the scene.  In a standard comic, I probably wouldn’t like the stilted narrative so much, but I think it works for your book because it’s so musical not only in theme but also in structure.” – Aaron Walther



What is the role you play on the book?

In case my long-windedness hasn’t given it away already, I’m the writer. I’m also the lyricist in our band. Sometimes I enjoy complete silence; other times it seems like I won’t shut the fuck up.

Shouts out to: Ryan McCann – Artist and Chef de cuisine, Aaren Vaz – Artist, Musician, Photographer/Videographer, Suicidella (Valentina Sylvie Greco) – Italian Renaissance Master, Leah Lederman – Editor and Grammar Star

What other projects have you worked on?

This is my first creative venture. Ever. It took us three years and some rocky roads to complete this project, but it was an amazing experience. I loved it. I’m ready for more.

What other plans do yo have comic wise?

I currently have two (possibly three) artists working on single page anti-littering comic PSAs. Have you ever been on a float trip? They are awesome! Except when drunks get too drunk and litter, that is. My goal is to have the one page comic PSAs hanging on the backs of the seats on float trip busses across the beautiful state of Missouri. This project is 100% for charity, and I have a LONG way to go to make it a reality, but I’ve already got a good start.

My next passion project is a children’s book. The quick pitch goes like this:  A young girl’s life is upended after a school project opens her eyes to the true  nature of man kind. Are humans the only species who kill for the sake of making art? I’m in talks with another AMAZING artist right now and things are looking good! If we can seal the deal this book will go into production in January 2016.

I’ve got a lot of ideas I want to make into realities.

How was project comic con?

Fucking dope. Fucking loved it. Arguably the best Con in St. Louis.

Check them out on the Internet here and on Facebook here.

If you liked this article then check out this interview with Corey Fryia. 




Masks- Creator Profile

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Indie comics is a wide open field. All you have to have is an idea, an ability to write and an artist willing to draw your comic. New comics are coming out all the time. With the way technology is now any writer serious about their craft can compete with the big boys. We got with rookie comic creator Danny Warner to talk about his new project, Masks. This is an exclusive with The Gr1nd.

What is your comic book Masks about?

Masks is a sci-fi western set in 2066, a hundred years after some failed scientific experiment divided the society in two groups (Masks and Masksless), which resulted in the fall of civilization, basically sending the world back to XVIII century. The story follows a Bookkeeper who’s after some book that supposedly says how to restore order. He’ll fight bandits and meet all sort of cool and scary characters along the way to recovering what the hell happened to the world exactly and how to put it back.

What role do you play on this comic?

I’m the writer and creator behind Masks.

What other comics do you have out or have you worked on?

This is the first one. Hopefully, more are to come.

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What comics do you like to read?

Honestly, I don’t like classic comic. Not my thing. Nor do I like the 28-page issues that contains 6 pages of ads. Alright, ranting aside. I like standalone stories in trade paperbacks. Watchmen and Nemesis got to be my favorite, but I’m trying out the new Star Wars that come out. But I actually prefer books.

What made you decide to do Masks?

Masks started out as a novel, but after about 40k words I thought what the hell, let’s draw it. I initially intended it as a graphic novel, but decided to do 12 45-page issues instead.

When is it coming out?

Masks Issue #1 will be available digitally mid-November.

PAGE 44- COLOR copy

Is it a series or graphic novel? What is the storyline?

Like I mentioned, currently we are doing a 12-issue run, 45 pages each, Later assembling in into two volumes in hardcover. The story follows the Bookkeeper, who seeks out a book that will supposedly say how to restore order in the world. Along the way he’ll assemble a small team of companions to help him fight his way towards uncovering the secret of what has happened to the world and how to make it all well again.

Who do you work with on this book and what is his role?

I work with Matias Zeballos, who is a masterful artist behind Masks.

To learn more about the creators check out-

Danny Warner –

Matias Zeballos –

Disunity #1 Preview

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POV Comics is helmed by Rem Fields and he has been working overtime to get his indie comic publishing company the success it deserves. His latest release Disunity is a sci-fi thriller the combines awesome artistic sensibilities and scientific notions of what the world is and what it can be. To get the real deal we sat down with Rem find out whats up with the comic.


Explain what Disunity is about?

Disunity is about good intentions and bad outcomes. John Connati, our protagonist, failed to save humanity after trying to open a wormhole in order to lead us to greener pastures. His experiment backfired, leaving the Earth surrounded by an unstable singularity – chaos has been pouring out of it ever since.

Over the course of the series we intend to explore the complexity of this situation, as John begins to learn more and more about himself as well as the inter-dimensional energies he failed to control. One part scientist, two parts noir detective, disunity is a mystery rooted in mad science.

The main character seems very conflicted. Explain.

John suffers from a dangerous combination of aptitude and conscience. It is a vicious cycle: the more he helps, the more he tends to hinder. Then, in turn, he puts it upon himself to correct his previous blunder, which typically leads to additional complications. So it goes.

Because of his scientific acumen, he genuinely believes he is in a position to make positive changes. His altruistic intentions beget a false sense of confidence – John’s used to taking big risks, “playing with fire,” if you will, and yet he never really plans for being burnt. He is betrayed by his own intellect. While he’s smart enough to realize this (hence the guilt), he is too stubborn to admit defeat.

The world seems very Blade Runner like was that your intention?

Blade Runner definitely helped set a standard for the immersive portrayal of a broken world. Elements of this blueprint are very much in-play within Disunity. I should emphasize that the conceptual origins for our book stem from Ron, the series’ illustrator and co-writer. He had a story he wanted to tell, and brought me on to flesh out the voice of his narrative. I’m cooking in Ron’s kitchen, which I’ve found to be a refreshing change of pace. Usually I’m the one inviting guests over to cook.

We are very much depicting a world where the definition of humanity should be called into question. John, like Deckard, thinks he has a grasp on the situation. Again like Deckard, he will quickly learn otherwise as his preconceived notions begin to implode. Aesthetically, there are a lot of dystopian elements in play. It goes hand-in-hand with the chaos inherent to a world being perpetually torn asunder by the inter-dimensional “Phases” that merge John’s world with countless others.

You seem to have a super hero/science thing going with aliens too. Explain.

I like to think of it as sci-fi noir. Though John does emerge from his accident with what is pretty much a healing factor, he remains a scientist first and foremost. The fact that he’s now able to survive an immense amount of punishment really just gives us room to plague him with even more guilt. He might not have to worry about his own well-being anymore, but that just means he needs to be all the more careful as he enlists help to remedy the situation he unleashed. (Spoiler: He often isn’t.)

The aliens and monsters who now inhabit John’s world are trapped there, having been transported from other realms. Some are a bit more surly about it than others. No matter their disposition, though, they are victims. Refugees, if you will. Part of John’s struggle is him trying to figure out if there is even a “greater good” worth pursuing anymore. With other worlds being torn asunder by the wormhole he created, he begins to realize that saving his planet and saving countless others might be mutually exclusive.

Where does the story go form the first issue?

At the end of Disunity #1, our protagonist is given a trail to follow (albeit a cold one). Our second issue starts off with introducing the supporting cast in John’s life. Like Stump, most of these characters come from alternate realities and are stuck here thanks to the Phase. As they investigate the rumors discovered in our first issue, things fall apart – as they often do – and John is faced with an enemy who might very well know him better than he knows himself.

The whole story will likely run ten issues or so. We’re going to distribute digitally at first, via comiXology, with plans for a printed graphic novel once we conclude. To leave things on an ambiguous note, John doesn’t know as much about the Phase as he thinks he does.

Whats your role in the book and who is the artist?

Ron Batchelor is both Disunity’s artist and originator. He started out pursuing the idea on his own, but it quickly became evident that his effort might be better spent focusing on its visual elements. He posted a sample of an early draft to a forum I frequent, asking for feedback. Right away I was drawn to his work. Once we started chatting, our conversation naturally drifted toward collaboration.

A lot of the drawings for the first two issues were already complete by the time I began writing. This proved to be an interesting challenge for me, since typically my work in comics starts with a full script. Instead of having to visualize panel descriptions in order to arrive at narration and dialogue, the scenes were already on the page. From there I did my best to “eavesdrop” on the conversations and inner monologues that would drive the narrative. As we move forward into issue #3, I think Ron and I are going to attempt a “Marvel-style” scripting process. It is a lot looser, where pages are given informal summaries more so than panel-by-panel beats, something that can only work when both creators are 100% invested in the story being told.

Tell us about your comic book company?

POV Comics was founded in September of 2014. The goal is to form a creative imprint through which aspiring storytellers can hone their skills. It is a venture I’ve embarked upon with a lifelong friend of mine, Noah Graham. He and I grew up together, somehow managing to gravitate toward separate niches of comic-book creativity – Noah being an illustrator, while I call myself POV’s wordier half. Our first title is currently in-production, and will be released next year.

Ron and I approached disunity as a collaboration between POV Comics and his own personal brand, Blotch Comics. As creators relatively new to the indie-comics scene, we are both blessed and cursed by the relatively low barriers to entry when publishing digital comic books. As it stands, I’d rather be a drop in the bucket than a damp spot on the sidewalk. Whether or not we manage to quench readers’ thirst for fiction is up to us. Ron is best reached via social media @Blotch_Comics, and you’ll find me chirping away @POVComics.

Learn more about Rem here.


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