Comics are a big industry, but besides the comic cons that tour around the nation each city has its selection of comic book shops to supply the locals with their favorite titles and newest releases. In St. Louis, Star Clipper is the premier comic book store and has been an institution for comic book buyers in the city for many years. For a long time they were located in U-City on the Delmar Loop, a historical part of town but recently they moved to downtown St. Louis, right on Washington Street, in another trendy and upwardly mobile part of the city. To find out what the deal is with the Star Clipper and its new location The Gr1nd paid the Star Clipper a visit and we spoke to their manager Keya about the store, the move and comics in general.
What is it like to work at Star Clipper?
Every day is fun, but also challenging! I get to work in a store that’s full of all my favorite things every day! Who wouldn’t love that? The challenges come with learning the content of ALL the merchandise we carry, but it’s definitely a challenge where I don’t mind being up to the task.
In St. Louis, Star Clipper is a comics institution, explain the history of the store?
Star Clipper has been a part of Saint Louis for the last 27 years. It started as a shop just West of the Loop, moved into the Loop, and finally after becoming a part of the Fantasy Books Inc family, it’s found a home in downtown STL! We love our new home and we’re thrilled to continue to see some familiar faces, as well as meeting many new ones!
Besides comics what else does Star Clipper offer?
We offer books, toys, collectibles, apparel, and what’s new to our store and we’re very excited about, a whole section dedicated to games!
What kind of regular events do you have at the store?
Every Monday night & Friday night, we have Magic the Gathering events at our store. Thursday nights are dedicated to learning a new game. Saturdays we play Pokemon and Sundays we play Shadowrun and a new card game called Weiss Schwartz! We also do a monthly book club the 2nd Thursday of every month and the library hosts Comics University every Wednesday night. Simply by attending, you can get 15% off of a purchase in our store on that same night!
What is the new location like?
It’s wonderful! We love being located near so many hotels. We get to see people from all over America who share our love of comics!
What are your favorite comics and what are the best sellers at the store?
My personal favorites are Rat Queens, Saga, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Hack/Slash, and Ms. Marvel. The store best seller without a doubt is Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples.
Check the store out at 1319 Washington Street in downtown St. Louis. Also check out their Facebook and other social media pages-
The Secret History of Ben Kenobi Revealed in STAR WARS #7!
This July, experience a very special issue of the blockbuster Star Wars series as special guest artist Simone Bianchi (Thanos Rising, Astonishing X-Men) joins chart-topping writer Jason Aaron for a look back into the past with STAR WARS #7! Luke Skywalker has uncovered the journals of his departed mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi. Now, experience Kenobi’s harrowing accounts of days long gone by! It is a time when injustice reigned on Tattooine. As villainous scum runs rampant over the blistering sands, only a Jedi Master stands any hope of liberating the planet from the grasp of gangs, thieves and thugs. But would Ben risk everything to do what was right? Even if it meant revealing himself to those searching for his whereabouts? Find out this July as Aaron & Bianchi bring you STAR WARS #7!
A lot of people watching the hit documentary, The Seven Five, might not now that its central character spent over a decade in the Bureau of Prisons for the crimes he committed as a corrupt NYPD officer. The Gr1nd got with Michael Dowd and asked him about the time he did in the feds. As a corrupt cop it couldn’t have been easy, but Dowd says he didn’t really have any problem. We also asked him about his time as a corrupt cop and what it was like working with cops who weren’t on the same type of time that he was on. Check out the exclusive-
How much time did you do?
I did 12 years and 5 month in the feds. I was in Mariana Florida all medium and high security. No breaks for the cop, fuck him. Its not like they say. I went to McKean, I went to Devens Mass. I had my little pitstops hear and there. I’m walking the joints like everyone else. 12 years and five months.
You got any prison war stories?
I actually took a rope off a guys neck in prison. I’m in Mariana Florida, I’ve bene there like two or three years and I’m running the fucking drug program down there. Right in front of my cell theres a guy hanging. Over the balcony right in front of my cell. I don’t know he’s hanging I think the guys are beating him up, throwing him up in the air. I don’t know whats going on. Four or fives guys are trying to hit him or whatever. And its a white guy I gotta go out there. Because he’s white and their spanish if I don’t show up then I’m a punk you know. I mean thats prison law so you got to step in not to be a hero but step in to show faith. So I’m gonna get in there, I’m jacked, no one is gonna push me around and I go out there and get in the middle of all and she is hanging from a buffing code from the balcony. And I was like these guys are trying to help him there not trying to fucking beat him up. Now I’m lifting him up because the spanish dudes are short and I’m taller like 6-foot-1. I push him up and take the pressure off his neck. And pull the buffing cord off his neck. We get him down we save his life. The next day I’m on suicide watch and he wakes up and look at me and he doesn’t know anything yet. He doesn’t know whats going on. He tells me yeah some guys saved my life yesterday. He doesn’t know who I am yet. And he was happy they saved his life because he told me I changed my mind on the way down. I said really thank god because I’m one of the guys that saved you.
Any problems in prison since you were an ex-cop?
Its strange to be honest my only problems came from the Italians in jail. Thats the only problems I really had. Some of the black and spanish guys would shun me but they wouldn’t be angry at me. Because they lived the streets and they knew that the cops had relationships with them. It was very odd because I got the most friendships with black guys playing chess. They were great. We got along famously and we played chess five or six hours a day. I would loose half my money but I learned the game. I passed a lot of time with them. The only guys that were really cool with me were the guys that had a snitch jacket but I didn’t care because 80 percent of the guys in there are rats and snitching on someone to lessen their time. I didn’t know that when I stepped in the joint but you learn, you learn.
What was it like being known as a corrupt cop in the NYPD?
Cops wouldn’t work with me anymore when I tried to do the right thing. Not because they’re doing the wrong thing but because they begin to wonder why are you trying to do the right thing now? Like why are you doing the right thing because you are trying to get us in trouble? Now they think you’re working for internal affairs. It became a slippery slope and once you step on that tile with your foot wet you just keep going. Its almost like I doubled down and surrendered if that makes sense.I did wrong I wanted to come out of doing wrong but I was having a difficult time coming back from that. I really want to be a good cop, I really want to. I admired the fact that I could get a pension and retire at 41 and have another life after that being the middle class guys that we are. We’re raised up to have some kind of security blanket for the rest of your life. Those were the goals that I had because I had kids and I wanted that security rather than the fast life I was living but it was so hard to get out of it.
What was it like coming out of prison after all that time?
The worst day of my life was when I came out and I was in my mothers shower. I am fucking 44 years old. Im looking out the window and theres my brothers kids. I went away and my son went to college . I shook his hand on his way to college. They let me go see him graduate from the halfway house. That was my only contact with my son. I see my brother has these two kids. Little boys and I was like I can’t fucking believe this, there like 6 and 8 at the time. And these kids idolize me but he has a pension and a wife and kids and a home. I got nothing. I’m crying like the shower isn’t wetting me and my tears are. I’m crying like I just let it go. Non stop tears balling. And I was like what did I do? I was 21 when I became a cop. Now Im 44 and I have nothing. I wanted to go back. I actually now had to go and learn a living and I didn’t know what I was going to do. It was scary.
Clad in black leather and wearing a cowboy hat emblazoned with a shiny skull, Ken Gerhard looks a bit like a rock-and-roll Indiana Jones. The Texan’s passion is cryptozoology, or the search for rumored animals not yet discovered by mainstream science, called cryptids.
Since childhood, the famed monster hunter has traveled the world searching for mysterious creatures of legend and lore. Along the trek, he’s authored several books and his adventures have appeared on many cable television specials, as well as the popular Coast to Coast AM radio show. The GR1ND caught up with Gerhard at Troy Taylor’s Haunted America conference, where he lectured on the subject of thunderbirds before jetting off for another expedition.
How did you get into cryptozoology?
When I was eight years old I saw a TV special about Bigfoot and I was completely captivated. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. It was fascinating to imagine an eight-foot-tall man-like creature running around the woods of North America. So I went out to the library, read every book I could find on the subject, and immersed myself in it.
My mother was very adventurous and a travel agent, so she took me all over the world, to places like the Amazon jungle, Australia, and Africa. Wherever we went I would investigate the legendary creatures. That was my upbringing. When I was fifteen we vacationed at Loch Ness in Scotland and I attempted my first field research. I had a little 8mm movie camera and I walked around the lake talking to the locals.
I never attempted to make this a career choice. It didn’t seem viable. But later I began going out in the field with Bigfoot researchers in the United States and experienced things I couldn’t explain. It took hold of me and I wrote my first book. Around that time I was discovered by a producer from the Travel channel. He put me on a show and it snowballed from there. I’m one of the luckiest people in the world, I get to travel around and hunt for monsters for a living. It’s pretty unbelievable.
Bigfoot first got you interested in cryptozoology. How likely do you think it is that such a creature exists?
I think Bigfoot will be proven some day. There is so much evidence mounting now. For the most part, it’s circumstantial. There are thousands of eyewitness sightings, tracks that have been cast, the Patterson film, the hair samples — all of that together builds a pretty convincing case that there’s something out there.
The 1967 Patterson film has been considered as both evidence by believers and a hoax by skeptics. What convinces you of its authenticity?
The very first time I ever watched the Patterson film, it struck me as very natural looking. In the hundreds of times I’ve watched it since, my opinion has never changed. The subject displays an inhuman gait that primate biomechanics experts have concluded would be extremely difficult for a human to pull off. In addition, you can actually see its muscles flexing as it moves. Costumes don’t do that … and especially back in 1967 when ape costumes were dreadful.
‘Patty’ also displays pendulous breasts. Why would someone try to fake something like that? There were a number of tracks left behind that were subsequently cast with plaster and they display the diversity of an actual foot, as opposed to a fake, as well as fitting within the paradigm of the Sasquatch foot… different morphologically from a human’s. Finally, I’ve spoken to Bob Gilmlin, who was there with Patterson at the time. He comes off as extremely sincere and credible.
Out of all the legendary creatures out there, which do you think has the most credibility overall?
The most likely one in my mind has kind of been forgotten about over the centuries. That’s the sea serpent. When you think about the oceans and how vast and unexplored they are. The ocean covers 71% of the Earth’s surface, has an average depth of 12,000 feet, with some parts going down 30,000 feet or more. There could be anything down there that we’ve never seen before. There are huge new species being discovered in the ocean all the time.
The description of the sea serpents date back centuries and are very consistent. It’s described as a long thirty foot to sixty foot serpentine animal with a vertical undulating motion. It’s the consistency of the reports and the fact that the ocean provides a lot of area to hide that indicates that they could live in very deep parts of the ocean and we don’t see them that often because they don’t come to the surface.
While you’ve investigated a large variety of cryptids, in your writing you’ve focused quite a bit on exceptionally large birds and other mysterious flying creatures. Is there a reason for this?
When I got into the field I realized that there were excellent Bigfoot and lake monster researchers, but no one was really investigating the Thunderbird reports. This was despite the fact that there were a lot of accounts and corroborating evidence, in terms of anedecdoatal things. Living in South Texas we have a lot of sightings and it was in my back yard, so to speak. And because I’m associated with this particular phenomenon I get the majority of the reports and sightings people have.
Can you share one of the more compelling Thunderbird encounters you’ve come across in your research?
The Illinois’ Lawndale incident where ten year old Marlon Lowe was carried some distance by an enormous bird during July 25th, 1977. There were four adult eyewitnesses to the event. In my large database of Thunderbird accounts, the descriptions are relatively consistent – dark-colored raptors – black, gray or brown with a wingspan from 15′ to 20′ (the best that anyone can estimate). Many of the witnesses are experienced wildlife observers. The areas where the things are seen the most include – Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas and Alaska. Birds with 18′ wingspans did exist in North America until 10,000 years ago – the Teratornis.
One of those experienced wildlife observers was John James Audubon, who reported witnessing an enormous eagle. What do you know about that?
John James Audubon was a great a naturalist in the early history of this country. He named hundreds of bird species, studied, and painted them. To this day they’re all accepted as real, valid species, except for the Washington’s Eagle. Because they haven’t found one since he painted the it, Ornithologists say he must have made a mistake since they haven’t seen another one. But maybe they went extinct, or maybe they aren’t out there in large numbers. But Audubon was a brilliant naturalist who knew his field.
With the fossil record proving the existence of dinosaurs and other large animals, what’s the reluctance of the scientific community to accept the possibility of modern-day super-sized creatures?
It’s politics. Scientists are brought up in a traditional structure and educated a certain way. Their career is based on reputation and credibility. Say you work for a major university and you start looking for Bigfoot, you could be fired, ostracized, and or ridiculed by peers.
That being said, we’ve come to a point where there are scientists willing to stick their neck out. I work with a guy from England who is a PhD in comparative physiology from the University of Birmingham, his name is Dr. Karl Shuker. He’s been writing books about cryptozoology for years and he’s very brilliant. Dr. Jeff Meldrum is a primate locomotion specialist from Idaho State University. He’s in all the Bigfoot shows, now. The University is actually backing him on his Bigfoot research. Dr. Grover Krantz is another hero of mine is a physical anthropologist from Washington State. There are some pioneers in traditional science that are willing to open their minds and step outside the box to consider the evidence and possibility. The Chinese and Russian governments have actually sponsored Bigfoot research. Both have been funding expeditions for years.
Have you personally had any close encounters with legendary animals?
I have never seen anything with my own eyes, but I believe that I have been within 40 yards of a Bigfoot. In 2003, I was at a place in North Texas called Little Cottonwood Lake investigating Bigfoot sightings. It was very remote and took us forever to get into this little backwoods area. Just after the sun went down we were hiking around the lake and we suddenly heard something grunting at us from deep in the brush. We couldn’t see it because it was heavily obscured. It sounded like a primate, an ape, or howler monkey. We all looked at each other and said, “Holy shit was is that?”
Your hunt has taken you all over the globe, is there anywhere you’d like to explore?
New Zealand is pretty high on my bucket list. It’s obviously a very beautiful country, but there are really interesting creatures there. There are these giant flightless birds called the moas that were thought to have been extict since the 1600’s, but there are still a lot of sightings. There is a Bigfoot type creature called the Moehau Man. There are living fossils like the tuatara which is a weird reptile that has three eyes and hasn’t change in 60 million years. It’s a weird place zooligically speaking and has lots of interesting creatures there.
What can your readers expect next from you?
My next book is called A Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts. It will contain a chapter on Bigfoot, big birds, werewolves, giant spiders, giant frogs, all kind of mysterious creatures.
For more information on Ken Gerhard visit his website www.kengerhard.com. He regularly writes for the popular cryptozoology website www.cryptomundo.com. His books can be purchased online at Amazon, and other sellers.
A Murder in the Park is a documentary that examines the twists and turns that life takes. It also looks at our criminal justice system and the way it works. With his execution just 48 hours away, Anthony Porter’s life was saved by a Northwestern University journalism class. Their re-investigation of the crime for which he was convicted—a double homicide in a Chicago park—led to the discovery of the real killer, Alstory Simon, whose confession exonerated Porter. If it all sounds too good to be true, it’s because, as compellingly argued here, Porter actually is guilty, Simon is an innocent man and both are just pawns in a much larger plan. The Gr1nd got with co-director Shawn Rech to discuss the film. Check out the exclusive interview here-
How did you get involved with A Murder in the Park?
My co-director and I produced hundreds of episodes of regional television programs titled, “Crime Stoppers Case Files.” We produced them for CBS in Miami and LA, NBC/Gannett in Cleveland, and FOX in Chicago. Attorney Andy Hale, one of the sponsors of the Chicago program, asked me what was next for our careers, and we said we wanted to create a documentary – hopefully on a wrongful conviction. I believe the system is flawed and innocent people are sitting in prison, and some have been executed. He said, “I have one that will make your head spin. It’s a DOUBLE wrongful conviction.” He explained the Porter/Simon case, and although we had initial reservations (Simon’s “confession”), we dug deeper. It became clear pretty quickly that a horrible injustice had occurred, and no one in print or television was properly telling the story. We then made a commitment to make the film, and Andy Hale joined me as Executive Producer.
How long did it take to do the research, shoot and put the film together?
Much of the research was already done by two retired federal agents, Jim Delorto and john Mazzola, and a retired Pulitzer-winning Tribune columnist named Bill Crawford. They all saw through the 1999 “Porter was innocent” story and performed exhaustive, independent investigations. We had access to their files, as well as records from the Grand jury that dissected this case in 1999, and of course, many news stories quoting Protess, investigator Ciolino, and the students (None of them would participate in the film).
We poured through this material, confirmed it with interviews and supporting documentation, then created a rough cut of this film. The rough cut was nearly an hour longer than the current run time (91 minutes), and would have required the average viewer to take notes. We needed to simplify, so the big challenge was removing all non-essential pieces of the story. We also had to reduce the evidence we included, because though it was damning and made our point, some of it was redundant. We ended up with what i believe is a pretty compelling argument, thoroughly backed up, told in a way that keeps the viewer engaged.
The film took two and a half years from start to finish.
Did you know the ending when you started making the film or did it come out in the process?
No. We were told by everyone, including Simon’s attorneys, that he was out of options. We created the movie as a “call to action” film, hoping to create a groundswell of support for Simon after its release. What actually happened was amazing. When we started contacting players in this case, and those who reported it (who really were players themselves), it reignited interest in the story. We showed Eric Zorn, a Protess friend and supporter, Alstory Simon’s explanation of why he confessed. We sat in his kitchen and played the video for him. The next day in the Chicago Tribune, he called for the case to be re-opened. This emboldened Simon’s attorneys, who decided to try a new angle, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit. This ended up being a pivotal moment, and we feel we were a part of that, despite the movie still being in production at the time.
What did the people in the Northwestern Journalism class think of the film and the whole episode?
I tried to contact all of the students. They are all very successful in law, activism and journalism. Most didn’t reply, but those who did declined. Ciolino declined via email. Protess agreed to meet with me. We had lunch and he told me I would make him look bad no matter what, so he was out. It sucks, because had he participated, even if he told us we were crazy, threw off his mic and stormed off, it would have made for a better movie. Conflict on screen is a good thing. We would have let him defend himself – but he just didn’t believe us. He went on to nuke me in his Huffington Post blog.
Where is Anthony Porter now?
As far as I know, he still lives in Chicago and receives help and guidance from a community activist.
What about Alstory Simon?
Simon lives in Ohio and is now working to free others he believes are wrongfully convicted. He has attorneys and investigators digging into a 45 year old case as I write this.
What were they like as people besides being the subjects of the film?
Porter was friendly enough, but generally mistrustful. He and a friend read our film’s appearance release a couple times through before signing it. He eventually got comfortable during the interview.
Simon is a very like-able guy. I’ve spent a lot of time with him promoting this film and filming it’s follow-up. He’s always smiling, spends as much time with his family as possible, and really enjoys cooking. As I said, he’s troubled by the cases of some of the men he left behind in prison, and feels they have been treated unfairly. I think after his civil suit is decided, he’ll become a vocal advocate for them.
What did making this film teach you?
It taught me that reporting, in general, has gone downhill – maybe because traditional media’s financial struggles are affecting it’s product. I think the retired reporter Bill Crawford said it best. He said in the 1980’s the Tribune would have had a team of reporters working for months getting the real story behind Porter’s release and Northwestern’s investigation. As it turns out, not a single journalist in 1999 reported that six witnesses either saw Porter in the park or saw him pull the trigger. Why? We believe none of them even took the time to pull the original police report. Even the students and Protess didn’t know about the six witnesses when asked by a grand jury. A man was sent to prison for 16 years and this was the depth of their “investigation?” And reporters just appeared to reprint the “facts” they were handed by the professor.
What can someone get from watching your film?
They’ll get an inside look at how an injustice unfolded. Hopefully they’ll leave the theater satisfied with the outcome.
Without giving too much away what is the much larger plan the film alludes to in this case?
Some of our interview subjects believe the plan was to end the death penalty by exposing how flawed the system really is, inasmuch as Porter was 48 hours from being executed and would have been were it not for this Northwestern team. It was a spectacular story and drew so much attention and shock that action was taken. This case initiated the end of Illinois’ death penalty.
The crazy part? I’m glad the death penalty was eliminated. Hale, Kimber (the co-director) and I are all strongly against the death penalty. It just shouldn’t have been at the expense of Alstory Simon sitting in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
What other work have you done?
The Crime Stoppers programs I mentioned. We’re working on several new projects, including a follow-up to this film called “Al’s Story,” “Kickstand,” a movie about cycling in big cities, “The Birthmother,” the story of my search for my natural mother, as well as a couple scripted projects.
How involved are you in the camera, filmmaking and editing process? Explain.
Brandon Kimber, the co-director, makes all the filming decisions (shot composition, setting), I conducted most of the interviews, he edits together the big glob of footage that we start with, and he and I discuss, debate, argue and finally arm-wrestle over what stays in. I handle the business side as well.
Run Like Hell When four friends end up stranded in the small town of Spaulding, one local family offers help. The family’s real motives become terrifyingly obvious, as the couples find themselves fighting for their lives. The Gr1nd got with filmmaker James Thomas for an interview about the film he made with his production company, Two Guys and a Film. Check out the interview-
What is Run Like Hell about?
Run Like Hell is about four friends who end up stranded in a small town. They meet a local family that offers help. The family’s real motives become terrifyingly obvious, as the couples find themselves fighting for their lives.
What was the filming process like?Shooting Run Like Hell was a very unique process because we actually shot two feature films Hard Sun and Run Like Hell back-to-back. When I say back-to-back I mean that we wrapped HS on Friday and started shooting RLH the following Monday. It was a long and grueling process. Some days on set were 125 degrees (F) but I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.
When was it released and where can people find it?We were lucky to find a home with Gravitas Ventures who has treated the film amazingly. In addition, Millennium Entertainment has come on board to handle DVD through a relationship they have with Gravitas.You can currently find the film on almost every platform (iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu) and the DVD is currently available at many retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart and Amazon.
The cast needed to be small. That was a service of the script and story. They crew however, was small because we were mostly gorilla filmmaking and we needed to move quickly. We also were working with a smaller budget and couldn’t afford a full crew. One way that this came back to bite us was in sound. Because we didn’t get great production sound, we spent almost five months at the sound design facility fixing the movie.
Tell us about your production house Two Guys and a Film?Canyon and I met on a music video in 2011. I was gaffing the video and he was directing it. I had directed some small things here and there and we got to talking about features. One of us mentioned that we should just go shoot some movies and then we kind of parted for a bit. In December of that year, over sushi, I pitched the idea of really going and making some movies. That day we decided to shoot them back-to-back and by the end of the month we had shooting scripts and were location scouting.The focus of Two Guys is to produce and distribute gritty, real life films that don’t pull any punches. Regardless of genre, you can always find raw and emotional stories that feel visceral and real. As we move forward as a production company, we will continue to cross genres because while each story is different, the films we produce will always have that Two Guys look and feel to it. We’ve also recently launched our own distribution wing “WM Releasing” (www.wmreleasing.com) to focus on helping other filmmakers get their films out there. If you have any questions for us or a film you’d like to submit you can email email@example.com.
What made you want to start making films?
I was one of those kids trying to film everything he could. I would make fake music videos, commercials for weird things, and little movies with my friends in high school. That passion really started to kick off my sophomore year when I took a “Media Arts” class at the local vocational school. There I learned how to edit on adobe’s first version of premiere. They also had a nicer camera than mine and would let me check it out. That was the beginning of this amazing and crazy journey.
What would you say to get someone to watch Run Like Hell?If you like fun road trip horror movies with some brutal ass kicking action thrown in. This is your movie.What would you compare the movie to?
It’s hard to compare. I can tell you that some of my favorite films and films that influenced me a lot were films like, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Devil’s Rejects. I really like the way those films don’t have monsters or creatures in them, but show people as the villains. I think that’s real because in life – terrifying monsters are the bad guys, terrifying people are.
What movies inspired you to do what you do?
Gritty and violent movies like The Godfather, Gladiator, Braveheart, Chinatown, Jurassic Park, Terminator 2 and Star Wars. Funny movies like Stripes, Airplane (most of the Zuckar Brothers works), Dumb and Dumber, and who couldn’t be inspired by the Back to the Future trilogy. And every fun 80’s and 90’s slasher flick from Halloween to Friday the 13th and even the Gremlin movies. I’ve always had a dynamic range in taste both in music and in film.
What actors did you use for the movie?When shooting your first film, one of the big things you need to do is protect your set. (I think it’s important on every film, but especially your first film.) We went through the normal casting process on the film, but I put in some people I knew. The casting director, without knowing, called all of them to call backs. (I only went to call backs, I almost never go to the initial casting sessions.) When it came down to deciding between actors, I went with people I had great relationships with because I knew they would be down for the grittiness of a low budget set. You can check out our full cast list on our IMBD page – (www.imdb.com/title/tt2951396)
It’s the comic EVERYONE can’t stop talking about! And now you’ll have a second chance to get your hands on this can’t miss issue! Today, Marvel is pleased to announce that STAR WARS #6 has sold out at the distributor level (though copies may still be available at retail level – but we doubt it!) and will immediately return for a second printing! Blockbuster creators Jason Aaron and John Cassaday drop a bombshell on the Star Wars universe with an issue that has to be seen to be believed!
“If you’re a STAR WARS fan, you’ve got to be reading these comics. They are absolutely incredible.”
“…it’s pretty impressive to watch Marvel grab the “Star Wars” canon by the rug and rip it out from under many fans. Bold move.” – Los Angeles Times
Don’t miss out on the series the whole world is talking about! As the first arc closes with a colossal bang, now is the perfect chance to jump onboard the continuing adventures of Luke, Han, Leia, Chewbacca and more! Don’t miss out on STAR WARS #6, when it returns to comic shops this July!
Marvel & Stephen King Announce THE DARK TOWER: THE DRAWING OF THE THREE – THE LADY OF SHADOWS #1!
The ka-tet is assembling. Today, Marvel & Stephen King are proud to announce the next chapter in the bold epic Dark Tower series. Coming this September, Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three – The Lady of Shadows #1 continues the epic story through the eyes of one of the series fan-favorite characters. Perfect for new and old fans alike, the rich and vibrant world of the Dark Tower series comes alive like never before! New York Times Bestselling writers Peter David & Robin Furth alongside rising star artist Jonathan Marks bring the action from Mid-World to our world in this exciting new installment!
The Gunslinger Roland and his companion Eddie Dean, the troubled young man with the ability to open doors to other worlds are now united. Together, they will find the Dark Tower. But first they must locate the 3rd member of their ka-tet, residing in our world. Enter Odetta Holmes, a wealthy, Civil Rights activist living in the South. But Odetta has a dark secret, and a darker side. To uncover that secret, we’ll have to go back to the beginning…
A bold new chapter begins as Odetta Holmes makes her entrance into this landmark series. Don’t miss Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three – The Lady of Shadows #1, when it comes to comic shops and digital devices this September!
Rod Kierkegaard Jr. is an American author and the creator of Rock Opera, a long-running comic strip appearing in Heavy Metal magazine. I spoke to him about his cartooning history while living in Paris, his love of television, and his new serialized fiction work The Vampire Circus.
In the new Amazon serial an old west pinkerton travels to 1920’s Europe to track down a traveling circus of vampires. The hunt leads to dark corners and into the lives of former circus performers and twin-sisters, Coco and Zuzu, now the toast of the Parisian jazz scene.
You’re currently writing fiction, but many people are familiar with you from Rock Opera. How long have you been writing fiction?
Actually, my comics began as illustrations to short stories that I couldn’t get published. Publishers hated the stories but loved the pictures. Rock Opera actually began as the story of a black man from another planet who had his face replaced by a mask after crash-landing on earth. He remained black through his years in an underground newspaper (inspiring the film “Brother From Another Planet”), but my publishers wanted him to turn white when he was picked up by Heavy Metal.
So were comics something you fell into then, or did you have a previous interest in cartooning?
Oh, I was terrifically excited and inspired by Metal Hurlant in the mid-70s. I tried to go to work for them several times — tried at Charlie Hebdo, too, but they didn’t like my style. Luckily other French magazines did.
Were you living in Paris at the time?
When Heavy Metal picked up Rock Opera I had a job that I could do out of suitcase. My wife and I were living on a beach in Key West in 1981. We had to move, so for fun we both made a list of places to move to. Then we gave each a number. Paris scored highest. So we moved there with four suitcases, a cat, and $2,000.
As a cartoonist, what was Paris like in the early 1980’s?
In Paris in the 80’s, being a cartoonist was like being a rock star. Several of my fellow cartoonists at Albin Michel actually had entourages. It was a big thrill for me to meet several of the famous ones; I never got to meet Moebius, but I did become friends with Liberatore.
So did you indulge in the rock and roll lifestyle while in Paris?
Hell no. I was married and the whole time I was cartooning, I was also writing novels. I must have a dozen in the closet from that time. The secret to longevity as a writer or cartoonist is to marry young and stay married. It’s a miserable way of life, and you need someone to look after you. On insurance actuarial tables, writers have the shortest lifespans, followed by stuntmen and rock musicians.
When they hear Heavy Metal magazine, I think many readers may think of fantasy comics with scantily clad barbarian women. Rock Opera has a real literary feeling, especially in its treatment of the popular culture of the day. Was this a conscious decision on your part?
Rock Opera began as post-modern short stories inspired by Calvino and J G Ballard. When it was picked up by HM I was suddenly put under pressure to make it popular–and there was plenty of incentive. I was suddenly making the modern equivalent of $15k a year. So I altered the story to mock social themes and tried to work in homages to PKD and Lem. Heavy Metal wanted to kill it, but it kept MRing at or near the top of their features in popularity. They were paying me a fortune. They could get much cheaper material from Spanish and Filipino artists by then. The French were starting to do the same. Somehow [Rock Opera] lasted seven years or so, but got sillier and sillier.
Did Paris other places you lived inspire your writing?
I’ve lived in a lot of places — Paris, London, Stockholm, New York — and I love putting them in books. But a large percentage of my novels are set in LA, where I’ve never set foot.
Why does Los Angeles appeal to you?
Any American who watches TV feels like he’s spent half his life in LA.
What are your thoughts on television?
Oh, I love TV. To me it’s a distinct art form, like literature. I only watch an hour a night, but I love to sample shows from all over the world. Right now, I’m on an Iceland kick.
What’s the best foreign program I’ve never heard of?
Krøniken. I love it particularly because I spent a lot of time in Copenhagen beginning in 1960. It’s sort of the Mad Men of Denmark.
Your published work has a wide variety of interesting characters and situations, often with a bit of dark or twisted edge. How would you characterize your writing?
Honestly, I don’t know if there are any common themes. To me writing is like speaking in tongues–when I begin a book I usually have no idea what it’s about until a narrative voice seizes me. I don’t do plot outlines or anything. It’s like automatic writing. I guess for me, it’s always automatic; if it isn’t, I can’t do it.
How did your new serial Vampire Circus come to life?
A few years ago, I was feeling burnt out. My publisher was encouraging me to try writing “erotica”, so I spent a couple of months writing a lurid pornographic epic. It sucked, like…hugely. A giant waste of time. But I kept returning to it in my spare time, trying to improve it–and then it occurred to me that it would be far more interesting if it was a vampire story. I also noticed how much it mirrored the lives of Colette and Josephine Baker, so I went back and researched them at great length, then added a character based on Charlie Siringo, the great cowboy detective.
There is no shortage of books with vampires on the market. What sets Vampire Circus apart?
In this series, vampirism is the result of a genetic mutation of syphilis. Bot Colette and Baker had syphilis, incidentally, along with about 40% of 1920s Paris.
Vampire Circus is a serialized work. For readers that enjoy the first installment what are the plans for the future of the series?
I wrote over 600,000 words of it. So there are already about six to eight novels in the can. There was so much of it that my publisher saw it as a fun way to utilize Amazon’s new serializing program. Also, I had written it as a classic serial, basing it a bit on Fantômas [a popular serial killer in French crime fiction in the late 1880’s.]