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Comic Profile- Bullets and Angels

in Comics by
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Master Plot comics is the brainchild of Brian Lee Bryd and has a number of interesting comics either out or in the works with titles like Cocaine Pet Shop, Tokyo Ghost and The Offended. As an independent comic publisher Master Plot Comics specializes in creator owned comic books and indie comic book podcasts. After having run several successful kickstarters for various projects on their label they seem well on their way to success. The Gr1nd set down with Brian Lee Byrd for a chat about the Bullets and Angels series-

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What is Bullets and Angles about?

Bullets & Angels: Rosary is an occult action-horror comic book that follows the trials of demon hunter James “Ace” Hollister as he struggles against what he knows to be real and what he wants to believe. Bullets & Angels is broken into volumes, each of which contains a whole segment of an over-arcing story leading to the book of Revelation, and ultimately, the end of the known world. The Bullets & Angels universe is set up to be ever-expanding all while moving forward to a complete and define end. As the flag-ship book for Master Plot Comics, Bullets & Angels is created by Brian Lee Byrd and Sarah Hollis, and staffed by a team of over ten other artists and writers, always working to improve on the series.

 

What is your role in the comic?

I am the co-creator and co-writer of Bullets & Angels. A few volumes are written solely by myself, while some I have hired other writers to participate on as well. The co-creator, Sarah Hollis, writes the main story with me. I also do the project management, so I make sure that all the artists are on their deadline.

 

Tell us about the new kickstarter?

The new Kickstarter is for Bullets & Angels: Rosary Issue #3, and features a lot of great backer rewards and add-ons. Cory Hamscher did the main cover art, but there are also two separate Kickstarter Variants that are available through different tiers. The first variant cover is by Kamol Noipewnaun, a wonderful Thai artist and graphic designer that works with me on a Bullets & Angels spin-off. There are 75 copies of that particular cover available, with three different tier levels, one unsigned, one signed, and one with a Kickstarter exclusive print. The second Kickstarter Variant is by Saint Yak, and only 25 of those will be available. There are also one of a kind pieces of art available.

 

Who is the artist and what does he bring to the book?

 Saint Yak is our artist for Bullets & Angels. His style is very grungy, and many people have said that it is reminiscent of early Spawn. He brings a great deal of talent to the project, and if any other artist had been assigned to work on Bullets & Angels, I don’t think it would have quite the same appeal that it has. The grungy lines and style bring a lot of emotion and impact to the story.

 

What is up with master plot comics?

Master Plot Comics is an independent comic publishing studio, staffed by myself and ten other wonderful artists and writers. Essentially, we are trying to open up a way for new creators to get into the comic industry, because most publishers, independent or otherwise, will only publish established creators. What that means is that in order to become established, one must self publish for several years in order to become “eligible” for publication through another publishing house. That leaves a big hole in the industry. It makes comics stagnant, because a lot of the new creators don’t have time or resources to self publish their book. Master Plot aims to take that hole and fill it with new, exciting stories from people you’ve never heard of, and make those stories available to readers who want something new.

 

How were issues 1 and 2 received?

Issues #1 and #2 were well received, with Issue #1 being over 200% funded, and Issue #2 being well past fully funded just a few weeks later. Issue #1 was just officially released earlier this month, and the first book signing we had was packed with people looking to talk about comics, publishing, and buy their book. We’ve had great success, and expect to continue with the same level of enthusiasm we’ve received so far.

 

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What direction are you going with this series?

As I mentioned before, Bullets & Angels is an ever-expanding series, but we do have a definite end in sight, at least for the main story-line. We can have unlimited number of spin-offs, tangents, and side-stories, but the main story will always end after Volume Five.

 

Tell us about the two main characters in the comic and what they are fighting against?

 Ace and Alli are an unusual pair, and under normal circumstances, they wouldn’t be working together. They are members of an elite team known as the Circle of Twelve, an underground sect of the Catholic Church meant for the sole purpose of stepping in where normal exorcists have failed. Ace was stationed in Las Vegas, but when things turn sour, he decides to head out toward Boston. His trip is cut short before he even manages to leave by a hellhound attack on what he assumes is a normal girl, but soon finds out is a second member of the Circle, tracking him with the sole purpose of keeping him around. They find that things seem to be heating up in Sin City as missing girls, murdered priests, and a onslaught of Hell’s army closes in around them.

Check out the Kickstarter for more info-

www.kickstarter.com/projects/mpcomics/bullets-and-angels-rosary-issue-3

 

Fear and Loathing in Comics

in Comics by
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Fear and Loathing in Comics

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When it comes to counterculture journalism Hunter S. Thompson, the aptly named Dr. Gonzo takes the cake. As a marauding writer for Rolling Stone magazine in the early 70’s he invented the school of Gonzo Journalism and his cult classic, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, has come to be regarded as a literary masterpiece. Johnny Depp starred in the movie and Hunter S. Thompson came to personify everything Gonzo. Was it art? Was it journalism? Was it just his crazy fucked up life? It was all that and more. And now his epic story is making the transition to comics. Enter Troy Little.

A veteran artist and comic creator who has been nominated for an Eisner Troy took on the monumental task of adapting Fear and Loathing into a graphic novel. Along with Top Shelf Productions and IDW the whole process was a first class affair that sought to capture and enhance the legend of the notorious Dr. Gonzo and the crazy psychodelic escapade that Fear and Loathing is in comic form. Could it be done? Could he take the artwork in a fresh and exciting direction without replicating what the infamous Ralph Steadman had already done? Could he put an imaginative twist on an already infectious and whirlwind of a story? To get the answers we got with Troy Little to get the 411. We also got an excerpt from the comic so that you can decide the answers to these questions yourself. But here’s the interview with Troy Little-

What does Hunter S. Thompson mean to you?

I’m a long time fan of his books, and he was a really interesting person with a unique point of view on life. I tend to enjoy both of those aspects. His writing can be a fireball of hilarious vitriol that seems to mesh with his persona, but when I see footage of him in real life I can almost always tell when he’s putting on a show. He had a lot of bravado that didn’t always cover up his insecurities. For a man with a proven record of being loud and brash, there’s a lot more nuance to him then most people give him credit for. I find he’s just a pretty damn fascinating mess of contradictions, and very, very human.

What was it like getting the opportunity to adapt the book, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas into a graphic novel?

It was a dream come true! Fear & Loathing is one of my all time favorite books; I never ever imagined this would be in the realm of possibility. I was working on The Powerpuff Girls for IDW when I received an email out of the blue that sort of casually inquired if I’d be interested in working up a pitch for the book. Totally out of left field. And it took me a long time to finally get them something to look at. I kept psyching myself out when I tried to come up with a look and feel that would capture the energy of the book. Eventually I was given a deadline – I sent in what I had come up with and spent the rest of the night cursing loudly and pounding my fists against my skull. I was convinced I had blown it. Two days later, I find out I’m the guy who’s adapting the book. My mind was thoroughly blown.

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What was your creative process like as you drew the panels and recreated the book in comic form?

My number one concern was to be true to the spirit of the novel. What I feel when I read Fear and Loathing is a manic energy, wired and running on no sleep. Everything is slightly (or extremely at times) exaggerated, and I tried to make that the core of my visual approach. The trick is, how to choose what’s the best way to interpret a scene into a sequence of images. Given the opportunity, unlimited time and resources I could re-draw that book 5 different ways. The book is rich with visuals that you could interpret in so many ways, but to actually get the book done you have to pick just one and roll on. I listened to a lot of 60’s rock to get in the right vibe and immersed myself in Hunter’s world; reading books by or about him and playing every piece of audio and documentary video I could find over and over. I even built a little model of “The Red Shark” for reference.

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How close to the original did you keep it? Explain.

When I did my first edit of the novel I had added in parts here and there to bridge sequences, or maybe I added a little dialogue to help underscore a bit of narration. Everything I added was flagged, and after talking to my editors we decided that every word in the graphic novel was to be strictly from Hunter’s book. I think this was a really smart move, for as small as my additions were they were unnecessary. It also clears up an issue I personally have with adapted works – I hate when they deviate from the source material. And frankly, you can’t mess with or improve Hunter’s words, so it’s best you don’t even go there.

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What was the process like getting the approvals from Hunter S. Thompson’s estate?

I was kept on the creative sidelines in that respect. My editors Ted and Denton worked with the Estate and I got feedback through them. All I can do is assume they were pleased with my take on the book – my notes and revisions were next to nothing and approval seemed to go really fast. It’s weird to know you’re drawing a book featuring a semi-fictional version of someone’s father or husband and that those people have final approval on my work. I was consciously aware of that and did my best to stick to the content of the book and not impose some outside interpretation on “Raoul Duke”.  My adaptation was made with a deep reverence for Hunter and this novel that means so much to so many people, I’m not trying to trivialize him in any way but turning him into a “cartoon” of sorts.

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Hunter invented Gonzo journalism how do you see your graphic novel in that regard or context?

Not terribly Gonzo, I’m afraid. No seat of your pants, drawing for 78 hours straight, wired on coffee and Benzedrine jags I’m sorry to report. It was a sit down for long hours and work your ass off job. Basically the same thing everyone does who works in comics, and it’s a pretty heavy slog some days. But it’s gratifying to see it all come together in the end. I hope at least it’s a gateway for people who haven’t experience Hunter’s books to discover him and perhaps an interesting interpretation for those who have a longtime love affair with his books.

This book is a classic work of literature and has endured the decades and Johnny Depp even played Hunter in a movie how did that all affect your approach to the graphic novel?

Depp and Bill Murray both nailed certain aspects of Hunter’s persona, just as Steadman’s art is completely synonymous with his books. You can’t deny or escape those things but I tried not to allow all of that to influence my take on the story too much. I hope this graphic novel stands on it’s own in company with them and not derivative of them in anyway. I did drop in a few nods here and there to the sharp-eyed Hunter aficionado’s out of respect for Ralph Steadman because he really set the visual tone that accompanies the Gonzo vibe.

For someone who loves comic but is not familiar with the work of Thompson what would you tell them to get them to check out your graphic novel?

“Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride” is often said in conjunction with this book and there’s a reason for that. The narrative takes off like a shot, and what ensues is chock full of sardonic mayhem and edge of your seat intensity. Man, if only more comics these days were this much fun! It is a manic ride you’d be remiss to not check out.

You are going to be at the New York comic con promoting the book where can people visit you and get an autographed copy and what else are you doing to promote the comic?

I’ll be in Artist Alley at table AA6 Thursday-Saturday at NYCC with special signing events at the IDW / Top Shelf booth (1844). (*I’ve attached a promo flyer listing all my show events while in New York) I’ll be holding a book launch in my hometown on Prince Edward Island (Come on up, everyone!) on October 28th at City Cinema where we’ll also be screening the Gilliam film version of Fear and Loathing. Then I’m off as a guest at Hal-Con in Halifax, NS for the weekend with my wife Brenda (she draws My Little Pony for IDW). IDW and Top Shelf are working on a really amazing promo tour around Southern California in November that is going to be totally Gonzo, so keep you’re eyes out for details on that because it’s going to be amazing!!

Corey Fryia Flies High with Doctor Crowe

in Comics by
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Corey Fryia is a Canadian-born comic book writer who now lives in the southern United States. He’s a community minded creator with past works helping non-profit organizations. He edited Out of the Blue, which gave back to child-literacy organization The Comic Book Project. At the SoKomics Expo he sold prints of his canine comic strip Good Boy to benefit a local Humane Society.

He is now looking for a little help of his own to produce an oversized first issue of his new pulp comic hero Doctor Crowe with a Kickstarter campaign.

So Corey, how did you come to comics?

I have always shared a connection to comic books in some form or fashion throughout my life. As a young kid I was glued to the TV watching Batman the Animated Series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or those amazing Spider-Man and X-Men cartoons from the early 90’s.  While I ended up honing my skills writing in my later years in life, these cartoons actually inspired me to want to be an artist when I grew up. I used to staple paper together and make my own comics when I was a kid. I still have original comic books that I drew from when I was seven or so years old. I wrote and drew a Star Wars book, Spider-Man, Star Trek, James Bond and even Xena Warrior Princess.  I also used to draw these wild recreations of my favorite panels from X-Men and Spider-Man comics. Technically, those were my first attempts at a foray into the world of comic books. However, It wasn’t until much later in life (my early twenties) when I actually started entertaining the idea of creating comics as an actual profession.

Corey Fryia with his faithful companion.
Corey Fryia with a canine companion.

You acted as co-editor on 2014’s Out of the Blue: A Collection of Strange Stories and the upcoming sequel A Collection on Campfire Tales. What’s your involvement in those and what can readers expect from the sequel?

Along with Marta Tanrikulu, I served as a co-editor on both Out of the Blue anthologies. Now before I even begin to talk about my involvement in those books I have to mention that Marta is one of the hardest working and most determined editors that I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. She truly is the lifeforce behind these the books. I feel as if I act as the Robin to her Batman on our little editorial dynamic duo.

Out of the Blue; A Collection of Campfire Tales - TBR Halloween 2015
Out of the Blue; A Collection of Campfire Tales – Release Date Halloween 2015

If you enjoyed the first Out of the Blue book, then you’re going to love the Out of the Blue: A Collection of Campfire Tales. While the first Out of the Blue was more slanted towards strange stories, this second volume is more focused on chilling or scary sort of stories. We have some first volume creators returning as well, but they’re also sharing the spotlight with some new creators that pump a lot of fresh life into the pages of the second volume.

I think I can speak for Marta when I say that we are really excited for everybody to get their hands on this book. Everybody who has worked on this thing has really brought their A game and you will not be disappointed.

You’ve got a current Kickstarter campaign to fund Doctor Crowe, could you tell us a little bit about it?

Doctor Crowe #1 is first issue of a 4-issue mini series. The mini-series follows the story of Dr. Victor Crowe, an infamous adventuring scientist; expert on the occult and an all-around pulp hero who uses advanced technologies to battle gruesome, supernatural terrors across the globe. Issue #1 features is 28 pages long and features four separate, serial anthology-style adventures that pits Dr. Crowe and his allies against unique, otherworldly threats that must be eliminated at all costs.

Cover of Doctor Crowe Issue #1.
Cover of Doctor Crowe Issue #1.

Who did you work with to bring Doctor Crowe to the comic page?

I have been fortunate enough to assemble some of my talented artist, colorist and letterer friends to help bring Doctor Crowe to life. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of folks to work with. Artists Tony Gregori, Karim Whalen and Matt Horak really put their unique spin on the character and their hard work is definitely evident on every page. Their pencils and inks are complimented by a solid group of colorists as well. Doug Garbark, Josh Jensen and Laura Lee are all amazing at what they do. And to cap it all off — Taylor Esposito, Nic Shaw and Micah Myers are some of the finest letterers that comics has to offer. I honestly believe that.

A page from Doctor Crowe short "Wretched"
A page from Doctor Crowe short “Wretched”

Are there any specific influences on Doctor Crowe?

As far as other comic books that have influenced Doctor Crowe, then I have to mention Frank Barbieri and Chris Mooneyham’s Five Ghosts. As far as present day pulp adventure books go there is no series that does it as well as Five Ghosts. It’s just good action and adventure for the sake of entertainment. That’s something that we’ve brought over to Doctor Crowe. I’d like the reader to be able to pick up the book, dive into the adventure and just forget about the real world if even for a split second or two.

A page from Doctor Crowe, issue one.
A page from Doctor Crowe, issue one.

Does living in the south shape your creative works in any way?

Kentucky is certainly a big part of my life. I identify with the kinds of people who live here and I try to let that show in my writing. If you pay attention to anything that I write, there’s usually some character that’s dialogue is written with a southern twang. In the case of Doctor Crowe, that character is Nora, Dr. Crowe’s tomboyish sidekick.

One of your previous works was a comic strip about your faithful dog; does Dr. Crow contain any animal friends?

Of course he does! In fact, I’ve made a pledge to myself to write a canine companion for any lead character that I write going forward. And, no, I’m not joking! Doctor Crowe’s dog is named Ajax. He’s a loyal Weimaraner who’s actually based off of my own Weimaraner named Harvey. Ajax appears in two of the four adventures in the first issue. I supplied Tony Gregori and Karim Whalen with an unhealthy amount of reference photos of Harvey in order to capture his likeness haha.

Doctor Crowe with his dog
Doctor Crowe with Ajax, his faithful companion.

I’m a big dog guy. Take one look at my Instagram or Facebook and you’ll easily find that out. I have two amazing dogs, Sonny and Harvey, and they are literally my best friends in the entire world. I couldn’t imagine life without them and the bond that I share between my dogs and myself is something that I’d like to continue to explore through my writing.  Also, dog sidekicks make everything instantly cooler. I think that’s a proven fact.

Check out Corey Fryia’s new pulp-hero Doctor Crowe on Kickstarter. It hit 100% funding in one day, but there’s still plenty of time to get your copy. You can also connect with the creator on Twitter @CoreyFryia

Comic Creator, Lee Milewski in Focus

in Comics by
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Southwest Florida’s Lee Milewski is heating up indie comics with a slew of successful comic book projects. While the genres are diverse, the stories deal with themes of personal introspection and world exploration. The comics are brought to vivid life with a unique brush art style.

He’s recently released a fantasy graphic novel Hunter’s Lore through Stache Publishing. Now he’s ready to blast off into the stars with Focus Shift. A current Kickstarter campaign is underway to fund production of the sci-fi graphic novella.

In this interview, we get the inside scoop on the artist and his work.

So Lee, how did you get started making comics?

Honestly, I never read many comics as a kid – even now, I don’t read a TON of books frequently, but the first one would probably be a Batman comic at some point growing up. I still dig those. Right around the time I dropped out of film school, due to me wanting to be creatively driven but not having the money or resources to attend. Comics are perfect for the budget-minded creator.  I just always knew I wanted to have a creative job but never knew how to approach one. When I sorta “found’ comics in my early twenties, it took off.

You’ve recently published Hunter’s Lore, a fantasy graphic through Stache. What can you say about that release?

Essentially it’s a story of personal redemption. A knight named Rowan Black is destined to a life of solitude within impenetrable walls. Once he realizes his cause is unworthy and forfeiting of its purposes, he ventures out into the world to take on a quest. Hunter’s Lore is different than a lot of fantasy comics due to it being a smaller scale story – it’s not necessarily “save the world and achieve great things”, but rather a slow trudge through Rowan’s necessity to reclaim his life and pride.

Hunter's Lore by Lee Milewski
Hunter’s Lore by Lee Milewski

Stache seemed like a great place to get ideas out into the world, especially on a broader spectrum than I could personally accomplish. I’ve debated with publishing Hunter’s Lore with a traditional publisher and Stache and the team won me over.

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With Tangled Weeds you took on horror, Hunter’s Lore delved into high-fantasy, now Focus Shift peers through the lens of sci-fi. Do you prefer any particular genre or do you like to work on different ones?

Personally I don’t have a preference with genres so long as there’s an interesting story and character at the heart of things. I like to mess around in genres mainly because they’re so recognized among most readers and it’s easier to create something cool and unique in a recognized framework.
 
From the preview, Focus Shift evokes a similar sense of world exploration as Hunter’s Lore. Would you agree with that?

For sure. Our main character, K, is much less sure of herself than any past characters from my books, and that unsureness is probably what will make her actions stand out. She’s specifically NOT a hero.

Wrap-around cover of Focus Shift
Wrap-around cover of Focus Shift

On the Focus Shift campaign page you mention that you are influenced by Hayao Miyazaki’s works. What most resonates about his films and do you have a favorite? 

I had actually been introduced to Miyazaki films in my early twenties by my wife, Kathleen. She swore by a few of them and now that I’ve seen them, I do to. I think this studios use of small touches is what makes them so unique- a character will trip as they walk up the stairs, get hair blown in their face, etc. It’s stuff that you don’t typically see with animation and these guys have been doing it for years. Nausicca is my favorite!

One of the things that is appealing about your artwork, is your choice of color pallets. Is this something you purposefully consider when approaching a story? 

Yeah and more often than not its just a guessing game until I find what works. I am using a more cut style with the characters and the same painterly style as I used in Hunter’s Lore. Hopefully it works out!

Preview of Lee Milewski's 'Focus Shift'
Preview of Lee Milewski’s ‘Focus Shift’

You’ve funded production of several comic projects through Kickstarter. What does crowdfunding mean for you as independent creator? 

Kickstarter is a job within itself! I wouldn’t wish it on anyone – it’s stressful, extremely time consuming, and I love it. Basically, I see it as the new way of putting out comics, at least for smaller independents like me. Running the Kickstarter is extremely stressful but ultimately super satisfying to see your idea become something out of nothing. I hope [readers] love it and tell their friends, but I also hope that it gives them a reason to pursue their own stories and comics. Independent creators are truly the blood within the comics industry. When newer and upcoming creators receive support, they’re more inclined to stick around and make awesome art and create awesome stories. This is true for ANY independent creator, not just me.

Lee Milewski’s new fantasy graphic novel Hunter’s Lore is available directly from Stache Publishing or through online sellers like Amazon.  To check out and support his current project, visit the Focus Shift campaign page.

Connect with Lee online:

Twitter: @LeeMilewski
Facebook: facebook.com/lee.milewski
Tumblr: leemilewskiart.tumbler.com/

Hard Wyred Creator Erik Bitmanis

in Comics by
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Hard Wyred is the creation of Canadian Erik Bitmanis, who promotes his book as an epic new sci-fie/cyberpunk comic series that features tech coat wielding gunmen, corporate scheming and a giant baby. Its a fantastical tale reminiscent of The Matrix where people hook themselves into machines so that they don’t have to go back to their real lives. The main character Sam refuses to give in and get hooked up to a machine to live a false life and no matter how unpleasant his real life he wants to live. He is a sort of anti-hero who combines a knowledge of the way of the world he lives in with a meaningful grasp of what real life is. Hard Wryed recently completed a successful Kickstarter and will be available soon for those who missed the opportunity when the Kickstarter campaign was live. The Gr1nd got with Erik to talk about his awesome new comic-

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What is Hard Wyred about?

Hard Wyred is about a man who is afraid to let go of his past. The main character, Sam, purposely tries to lag behind the world because he is terrified let go of the past events that have defined him. Hard Wyred also parallels some concepts of the way we use the internet today. We all tend to act as different people online then we would in day-to-day life, and I wanted Hard Wyred to reflect that.

How did you come up with the concept?

The concept came to me over a long period of time, mainly when I really should have been studying in university. Two of my favourite movies growing up as a kid were Die Hard and The Matrix, so it was only fitting to have my first major project be a mash up of some of the things that I really liked within both those movies.

Who did you work with on the project? 

We have had a couple people work on this project. My penciller/inker is a guy named Ross Zucco, who happens to be from my hometown and we also went to the same high school. The original penciller/inker was Joshua Suarez, and he did a great job bringing initial ideas to life, but life can sometimes get in the way so Josh had to leave the project. Our brilliant colours are done by Gwenaelle Daligault, who hails from France. And our letters are done by Jamie Me, from the UK.

How does what goes on in your comic mirror our world today?

A good deal of what I wanted to mirror would be how people want to be perceived online, or how they change their persona to match this idealized version of themselves. I don’t think it’s a problem we have or anything, it’s just a very interesting topic to look at how someone behaves so differently in an online environment compared to an offline one. The biggest example of this right from issue #1 is how different Sam looks in the online world compared to what he really looks like in the real world. While he is skinny, small, and fragile in the real world; he is this behemoth of a man that is muscular and suave in the online world. A little bit like wish fulfillment mixed with a dose of reality.

What is your personal opinion of technology and where it is headed?

I have two school of thought when it comes to technology. One is that, it’s fantastic. We have increased our efficiency to an extreme degree, allowing us to get so much more done in a day. We are all connected to one another, where for instance most of my art team is from other parts of the world that I would never have been able to interact with without the technology we have. On the other hand, more people are spending time inside and interacting with individuals through an electronic device instead of face to face conversation. I think people’s social skills in the long run are going to suffer because of it as interacting in person is entirely different from online or a mobile phone.

In terms of where I see technology heading; more automation, and greater focus on connecting with people. While we already have great platforms to connect to people with, there is still room to increase that. Also automated driving, that will probably be a thing.

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Explain the main character Sam and what he thinks about it all?

Sam hates technology. Period. Despises it, which is really odd for a guy who’s main job is to enter this online world and accomplish whatever menial task is set out by Ms. Teller. As I said above, Sam is a complicated guy who has built his personality  and characteristics to push people away. He’s standoff-ish, abrasive, stubborn, and he is actually a pretty big dick. While he has a rough exterior, he does have some soft spots for certain people in his life, but they are few and far between. I think he really just needs a hug.

What were your influences for this comic?

My biggest influences were The Matrix and Die Hard, but other influencers include Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. Absolutely love that book series, and really transformed my perception of what a fantastical world could be. Also, CHEW by John Layman and Rob Guillroy, as they were the first comic I read that really proved that a comedy series can do well, and continue to provide laughs throughout the series.

What is the over all point or theme you are trying to get across?

The overall theme would be that it’s unhealthy for a person to hold onto past events that they cannot change, and that in order to continue to grow as a person you would have to be able to move past them. Else, you’ll really be robbing some of the joys of life. Underlying themes address some of the wonders and dangers of losing yourself in an online world.

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Will it be a regular series?

I’m really aiming for it to be. I have the entire story set out to be a maxi-series (about 16-18 issues), but my first goal is going to be to complete the first arc (5 issues) and go from there. I really want to tell the whole story, but that comes down to time and money. One day maybe :).

How did the Kickstarter go?

The Kickstarter went great. Seeing the generosity of complete strangers and their belief in your project was truly amazing.

When is the book coming out?

Well we just hit some production delays when Josh had to leave the book, but I’m aiming to be delivering the Kickstarter book sometime this December/early January. After that, I’ll be looking to submit to comixology and sell through my own website while we start working on issue #2.

Will you promote it on the comic con scene? 

For sure. In fact I have already been to both Montreal and Ottawa Comic Con to promote the book and talk to other creators. I went to Fan Expo in Toronto as well, but not as an exhibitor.

Check out these links-

www.hardwyredcomic.com

www.facebook.com/hardwyredcomic

Bounded Issue 2 from Mel Rubi

in Comics by
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Boundead is a new comic from Mel Rubi. Rubi has been working in the comics world for over 20 years illustrating characters and doing covers for Marvel, Darkhorse and Image, among others. He has been around the block as they say but Boundead is a creator owned project that he has put out himself, first though digital issues but now in a printed version. After a successful Kickstarter campaign Rubi is ready to get issue #1 printed up and get it in his supporters hands. He took time out of his busy schedule to chat with The Gr1nd about his new comic, his career, and his video game work. Check out the exclusive interview here-

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How did you come up with the concept for Boundead?

The vision of Boundead came from a variety of scripts that I have read throughout my career as an artist.  You can almost say it created a life of its own. While working on projects, images in my mind started to roll in.  So I would set my work aside for just a brief moment and sketched out the thoughts that popped in my head at that particular time. As if it wanted to be revealed. Then as I created the character(s), subtle things in the process would tell me why he or she possessed that strength and what makes them weak? Of course, these were your typical questions when designing characters. Villains would then come to mind as I continued to sketch. Who is this villain and what does he want? It took some years, like over ten years, to figure out his motives. Then it finally hit me.  It was the children whom are born of the undead. Then the story begins to unfold, but you’ll have to read the entire arc to find out what’s so special about these children. That’s how I came up with the concept. I’m just an instrument who is portraying the story.

Explain the motives of the main character Ayr Slash?

Retaliation is the very motive of every living dead in this dark world including Ayr Slash herself.  During the former life,  Ayr was an abused wife.  A day came when she could not take more of the beatings and planned the killing of her husband.  However, that was only the beginning of her dilemma.  She must face him once more at the afterlife.

Describe the world you have created and what its about?

This is not your ordinary world nor have you ever heard about.  One thousand years after the world ended, corpses have risen back to life raging with hate and aggression.  These are the unfortunate with evil hearts that have died and resurrected.  Similar to zombies they crave for sustenance to keep the pain away only with a normal mind like you and I have.  The undead are not alone.  King Ophidian (the devil) and his conjurers have taken control of the undead by ensnaring them with the addiction of man’s will. Ophidian’s specialties are the Boundead.  Having born pure, these children have abilities that the king desire for so he may conquer his enemy’s kingdom.  However there is one that stands in the way, Ayr Slash.

Who does the art for the series?

I illustrate all the art, lettering and story.  Although when push comes to shove, I have a few talented artists lined up to help this book shine at its finest.

How many issues do you plan in the current story arc?

The first story arc will be a total of six issues. We do have plans to turn it into an on-going series.

How did the kickstarter campaign go?

Having tried with so little knowledge about marketing for the first time did not meet the goal that I had anticipated.  Since then I have learned and understood what the fans wanted and launched Boundead issue #1 for the second time.  It was a success and the book was funded.  Currently we Launched issue number two and also was successful.  We’ve also gained more backers for issue two which means so much to us.  I can’t emphasize enough how thankful I am to all that have supported these books.

What other projects are you currently involved in?

I continue to work on covers for independent comic book companies.  I also contract for game companies doing conceptual design and revisions.

Tell us a little about the past work you have done in comics and video games?

1993 was the year I broke into the comics. My very first project was to help finish some of the art pages for Ron Wagner on Morbius for Marvel.  Simultaneously, I was working on Shadow Man for Valiant.  It wasn’t an easy task for a rookie and it surely burnt me out.  Immediately after helping out with Morbius, Bobbie Chase assigned me to pencil Doctor Strange.  Following after are titles like Punisher War Journal, Uncanny X-men and Excalibur. Also a few title from Image Comics such as Grifter, Backlash and Deathblow.  During the late 90’s with Dark Horse, I’ve worked on Predator titles, Kiss and Angel.  Several years later I worked on Red Sonja for Dynamite.  Around 2010, games were growing through social media and I had the urge to expand my skills and explored it.  I started working for Bioware a division of Electronic Arts. I stayed with the company working on character/ environmental concepts and a few website designs for four years.  I then moved to 5th Planet Games working on more conceptual art and currently contract for the company.

For more info check out-  www.melrubi.com

A Chat with Aporkalypse’s Jordan Williams

in Comics by
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Aporkalypse

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Stache Publishing is bringing all type of awesome material to the comics world- Hunter’s Lore, Supreme Team, Out of the Blue, Gun Powder Witch and more. Their titles are as diverse was they are amazing. With interesting storylines and beautiful artwork Stache Publishing is the next big thing in indie comics. But they are not resting on their laurels. Fresh off a successful Supreme Team Kickstarter they have lunched a new one for Aporkalypse and it has already been accorded the highly sought after rating as Staff Pick on Kickstarter. To find out what is going on with this book we got with artist, writer and creator Jordan Williams, who also happens to be one of the main men behind Stache Publishing. The Gr1nd is happy to give you this exclusive-

What is the comic you have on Kickstarter about?

Aporkalypse is a collection of over 50 comic strips and short stories about the shopkeepers of the strip mall. Early on in Aporkalypse, the Apocolypse happens and destroys everything on earth except for one pig-themed strip mall, it’s store owners, and one British customer. Each story in Aporkalypse is created by a different creative team. Each team brings their own unique flavor to the stories.

Who created it and how did it come about?

Stache Publishing created the story and the characters for a local newspaper strip that was looking to add some local talent into their newspaper. Stache came up with the basic ‘sandbox’ story that we wanted to go with. We decided on a strip-mall and each character, in a generic sense. We didn’t dig too deep into the characters, we would leave that up to the creative teams’ imagination. Our goal for the Aporkalypse comic strip was to use it as a vessel to showcase the great local talent that St. Louis has in it’s own backyard, and personally I think we achieved just that.

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What people are working on it?

I’m personally really excited for some of the talent in this book. On top of contributions from Stache members, past and present, Aporkalypse has really brought in some great talent. I’m not going to list everyone (sorry!), but a few that come to mind are some of my favorite contributions. Of course the first thing you see will be the cover, and we lucked out by getting the crazy talented French artist Vincent Dubourg to do the official artwork for the story. New York Times Best Selling Author Ellie Ann wrote a month’s worth of strips, that I ended up illustrating. Ashely Walker, a UK artist, contributed comic strips and a full on story that is one of my favorites in the book. Local comic creator collective Headmetal Comics contributed a month’s worth of amazing comic strips, where writer Chris Orndoff used his childhood memories of living in Hawaii and channeled them into character development for the Hawaiian character, Randy. Jimmy Grist, the creator of the webcomic Dinosaur Kid, contributed a short story to the book. It was also exciting to get amateur writers who have never written a published comic before like Rick Bloemer and Josh Hunt. Rick had attended one of Stache’s panels at Arcon in Collinsville, IL and ended up writing for us. Josh is a friend of ours that has featured Stache on his podcast in the past. That’s just a small portion of what’s going on in this comic.

How long has this project been in the works?

The project started in the early months of 2014 and has been growing ever since.

What role do you play in this book?

I am serving as a Co-Editor with Anthony Mathenia and Drew Rose on this book. I have contributed a few stories within the book as well.

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Why should someone support it on Kickstarter?

From our point of view, we want as many backers as possible in as many countries as possible to get their hands on this book and see some really great independent comic book creators of the world. Kickstarter reaches millions of people in so many countries. It’s a great product with great talent.

From the pledger’s point of view, this book has some amazing story telling and artwork. There’s a little something for everyone. If you pre-order it, you will enjoy it. It is made to have the ‘Sunday Morning’ cartoon vibe. It’s a great book to sit down with on a lazy weekend day. I’m confident people will really enjoy this collection.

What are the rewards that backers get?

The main reward is the printed book. The book is available in paperback and hardcover for this Kickstarter. The paperback is your standard edition, that will be sold at conventions and online in the future. The hardcover will ONLY be available on Kickstarter, so this is the only chance for someone to get one. As far as other rewards go, for donating ANY amount of money ($1 and up) you will get your name listed in the back of the hardcover book.  We are also offering a digital version of the book for those who prefer that route. We will be sending everyone who donates $5 or more a postcard in the mail. We are offering a knitted pig hat that just looks amazing as well. We also have a reward tier for a bundle of Stache comics that include paperback graphic novels Hunter’s Lore and Out of the Blue, comic floppies Gunpowder Witch #1, Gunpowder Witch #2, Butterfly, and Ginormous, the exclusive Aporkalypse hardcover, the digital copy of Aporkalypse, a post card, and a life size Pickles the pig hand puppet.

What others books have you done?

Aside from my work in Aporkalypse, I have done work in Stache’s first anthology that was debuted on Free Comic Book Day 2013 and Stache’s anthology based on the 7 Deadly Sins. I also have my own comic series, Gunpowder Witch. Which I am collecting as a graphic novel in the next year hopefully.

What other Kickstarter campaigns have you run?

I have successfully run two other Kickstarters, for the first 2 issues of Gunpowder Witch.

Check out this exciting new comp now on Kickstarter-

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1821708802/aporkalypse-an-entertaining-end-of-the-world-antho

Artist Profile- Jeremiah Lambert

in Comics/Uncategorized by
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I was walking into Wizard World St. Louis a couple of months ago on Friday afternoon and I saw this dude hauling in all his stuff by himself on a trolly. I tried to get the door for him but he was going to a different one. In the hallway I struck up a conversation with him as we walked to the entrance. Seems he was an artist. I told him I would visit his table and check out his stuff. When he finally got set up I ventured over and I was very impressed by his artwork. Jeremiah Lambert is a very talented and creative individual. The Gr1nd is happy to show his art on our site and to give you all the exclusive. Here is The Gr1nd interview with Jeremiah Lambert-

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When did you start drawing comics professionally?

Around 2009 I made a hard push after getting laid off of my engineering job to get work. I made a small splash with a few small press publishers to get some work for hire stuff published.

You have done a lot of work on indy comics, what’s next?

Probably just more of the same indie type stuff. I’ve since reacquired another day job so time is limited so it will be mostly small projects unless some kind of big break happens. Which if it did I would go for it.

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How did you hook up with Hasbro?

Val Staples, Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image and more Colorist, posted a post in a help wanted/for hire forum cause he had some work from them and I was lucky enough to see it right away and show him my stuff. He liked it and gave me the gig. It was fun, but only a one time for hire thing. maybe someday again though. We’ll see

You are known for your parody art how did that come about?

Mainly with that “Killer Super Mario” piece. That one went viral and since then I’ve just been doing pieces that amuse me such as throwing a twist on classic cartoon/video game/comic characters. People have responded to that and it has been great.

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What do you like about going to cons?

A chance to meet with people that dig my art. Seeing them smile and laugh at things that I’ve created is an extremely gratifying experience. And i won’t lie, the money is nice too.

Do you find yourself getting a lot of commissions and what do people want you to draw?

I get a moderate amount and the spectrum of subjects is vast. From mash up superheroes (spider-flash) to sexy male superheroes (as opposed to the standard sexy female ones). I’ve done Gagic the Gathering commissions and people’s original characters, xenomorph zombies and anime mixed with video game mash ups. Currently doing original art for a guy’s lyric video featuring a bunch of bikini babes… Rarely is there a commission to say, just draw spider-man or something. Ha! But I love doing it.

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If you could draw any big character who would it be and why?

Spider-man. Spidey’s been my fav character since I realized I like comic books and to work on an official Spidey story would be a dream.

Why did you start drawing in the first place?

Part of my soul for sure and genes I’d imagine. I feel like I just need to draw sometimes. My dad’s a working professional commercial artist too so there is the genes. He both introduced me to comics and art and i just took to it like instinct. I’ll always be grateful to my father for sharing that with me.

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What comics did you read growing up?

Lots of marvel. In the 90’s I branched out with the comic craze and got in with the Image craze and dipped into Dark Horse some and a few others. Marvel is my mainstay though and still is. Don’t get me wrong they piss me off to no end sometimes but I’m hooked like a crack addict. It’s hard to not love these classic characters that I grew up with.

Check out these links-

www.facebook.com/JeremiahLambertArt

www.JeremiahLambertArt.deviantart.com

Black Ship Books Profile on Supreme Team

in Comics by
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Supreme Team

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Vigilantes are but the caped side of a comic-book coin. Supreme Team is a narrative focused on the seedy underbelly of said currency. Inspired by a true story, this book centers around Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff as he establishes himself as a drug dealer in 1980s New York City.

It is a tale to which author Seth Ferranti can very much relate. While he has made a name for himself by writing for publications focused on urban culture — including ViceDon DivaThe Fix, and Slam — he first made headlines, at age 22, after being charged and sentenced as an LSD kingpin in the early 90s.

Seth found his voice behind bars. During his 25-year sentence, he earned his masters degree and began writing for publications as a contributing author. It didn’t take long for his work to get noticed, both by the public and by the prison system. Despite frequently landing himself in solitary confinement, because of the truths he exposed while in prison, he never stopped telling stories of a lifestyle few manage to tastefully articulate.

After his release, Seth knew he wanted to turn Supreme Team into a graphic novel. He had already written a book with Kenneth McGriff’s blessing, after the two had spent years together in the same correctional facility. Adapting it into a visual medium speaks volumes toward Ferranti’s storytelling sensibilities. To bring this book to life, he is working with illustrator Joe Wills and journalist/ producer Anthony Mathenia

There are 11 days left to join the Supreme Team. The trio are 66% funded. As a semi-biographical comic, the team’s proximity to the original source suggests that Supreme Teamstands to be an authentic look into urban crime. Ferranti and company take the zoot suits, tommy guns and booze smuggling of prohibition-era gangster comics and recontextualize it for the 21st Century.

Check out the full article here- http://www.blackshipbooks.com/kickstarter-strobe-light-ii-blink-twice/

 

 

Supreme Team Writer/Creator: Seth Ferranti by Jordan Williams

in Comics/Pop Culture by
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Supreme Team Writer/Creator: Seth Ferranti by Jordan Williams

Starting things can be difficult: a diet, a new job, a company. A lot of hard work, focus, and dedication go into beginning a new chapter of your life. And starting a business from the ground up isn’t exactly easy. Especially if the ground you are building from is behind prison bars.

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“When I wrote my first book, Prison Stories, I got the idea for the publishing company when I saw urban fiction taking off in the late 90’s and it took me five years to get the company together and get the book out,” says Seth Ferranti. “It was hard to do from prison. My wife was the only one to help me, but we figured it out. I got the book out and we went on to publish seven more titles on Gorilla Convict while I was in prison.”

Seth Ferranti is an author that began writing books and articles while serving a 25 sentence for a first time non-violent drug offense for supplying 15 colleges in five states with LSD and marijuana on the East Coast. While in prison, Seth got clean and then got creative. He started up his own publishing company, Gorilla Convict.

“I didn’t really start writing like I do now until I got into prison and started taking college courses on article writing and creative writing. That really showed me that I could pursue something like that while I was in.” Seth remembers. “I was a creative guy, but you find other guys like that to talk to. It’s like any part of society; there are different types of people, but in prison you just keep that hard exterior front and you let dudes know that you aren’t to be trifled with.”

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Seth’s attitude and writing earned him respect, even across prison yard race lines. He was able to watch YO! MTV Raps in the black TV room and became interested in the street legends rappers like Nas and Jay-Z were rapping about. He was particularly intrigued by Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff, a Queens gangster that was both respected and feared.

“I was with Supreme and wrote the Don Diva article about his crew the Supreme Team with his blessing.” Seth says. “I kept getting pictures and doing interviews. Then I had enough material for the book, so I put it together and again had to get Supreme’s blessing. There were some dudes on the team that didn’t want me to put it out, but Supreme said it was cool so I did it.”

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Supreme Team has since become one of Seth’s top selling books and has gotten recognition from within the street community and various reviews. In 2014, Seth got out of prison and started on a multimedia adventure, learning as much as he can, as if making up for lost time. One of these new creative outlets was comic books.

“I always wanted to write comics while I was in, but it was so hard to even get a book published.” Seth admits. “When I got out, I got hooked up with Anthony Mathenia and we started talking and ‘BOOM!’ now we got the Supreme Team comic book coming out.”

Seth had always been into comic books. He started his love affair with comics with Marvel’s Secret Wars and then fell in love with the X-Men comics. After he was arrested, Seth still managed to get comics sent to him on the inside. “I would order them right from a shop. My parents had their credit card on account for me and they would send me the Diamond [Previews] book. I would preorder what I wanted; like 50 a month, easy.” Seth says. “I liked the different stories that were being written in the 90’s when the creators really started breaking out on their own and getting away from DC and Marvel.”

Now Seth is a creator that is breaking out on his own and getting away from what is normally covered in comic books today. “I don’t really see anything like.” Seth says when referring to the racks of comic books at comic shops. Seth points out issues of Scarface and Shaft as similar comics to Supreme Team. “But, they don’t have the cultural impact of hip-hop that my book has. And they are fiction, my book is real life history.”

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Seth had to put together his own ‘supreme team’ to tackle this comic. Stache Publishing’s Anthony Mathenia (Pretty Face, Butterfly) helped guide Seth through the comic making process from the beginning. “Anthony is amazing with color and the book wouldn’t be the same without his edits. He really helped me to hone and focus my vision for the story.” Seth says.

Supreme Team needed an artist that could produce high quality work that was loyal to the time period. Seth found that artist in Joe Wills. “Jordan from Stache introduced me to Joe Wills and basically told me this is your guy. I looked at his art and I was sold.” Seth says. “He is an extremely talented artist and I knew if he took the time to study my characters that he was the one to draw them and give them life. Joe’s work is so professional. Joe’s art is top quality. He is going to be in high demand very soon and probably working with [Marvel and DC]. Once I saw his talent I worked hard to sell him on my project.”

 

 

 

Supreme Team is something new for the comic industry and Seth thinks it has something extremely unique about it. “The Supreme Team, including its colorful cast of characters, is just an iconic group. The infamy and notoriety around them and their presence in the lyrical lore of hip-hop is astounding.” Seth explains.  “I was on the compound with Supreme and the way they talked about him in prison was as if he was a god. Then I met him and he was the most humble dude ever, very courteous and respectful. A complete gentleman. I see why this dude has so many legends surrounding him. [He was] very charismatic and he influenced the guys in the drug and hip-hop world. It’s all really down to him.”

Seth is a go-getter and doesn’t let anything slow him down. After spending some of the prime years of his life behind bars, Seth has resurfaced in society as a creative mind with a strong work ethic. “I just like to complete projects, get them done, and get them out there to the world.” Seth has plans for many more projects including a film version of Supreme’s story. And what is different about Seth is that he doesn’t just have plans for them, he has already started working on them. Seth’s freedom has opened up all the creative channels for him.

“I am glad to be in the world. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.” Seth says. “I am really like the proverbial kid in the candy store. Life is great.”

 

Supreme Team has a campaign running on Kickstarter throughout the month of August. You can preorder your copy of Supreme Team #1, signed copies of Seth’s non-fiction true-crime Supreme Team book, original copies of the hard-to-find Don Diva issue with Seth’s Supreme story in it, original artwork by artist Joe Wills, and the Limited Edition Kickstarter-only Hardcover.

Connect with Seth Ferranti on social media:

Twitter: @SethFerranti

Facebook: facebook.com/seth.ferranti

Website: gorillaconvict.com

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