Kurt Christenson ** Timothy Mucci ** Johnny Gatts ** Brian Bannen ** Rick Lacy ** YOU!

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Walking Dead: "Fear the Hunters"

by Pete Lenz

I love zombies. I am tired of zombies. It used to be that we had zombie movies. And they were plentiful, and this was good. These days, we're seeing zombies in every aspect of pop culture. They pervade every avenue of entertainment nowadays. Novels, comics, video games; they're everywhere. The zombie archetype has even evolved to the point where they don't even shamble anymore, at least, not all the time. It is 2009 and Zombies have jumped the shark. It is 1979 and Lucio Fulci has shown us, in Zombi 2 (Zombie) a zombie actually fighting a shark. Underwater. A zombie fights a tiger shark. Fulci is a seer, a zombie futurist. We have scoffed at this scene, poked fun at it. What this was, 30 years ago, was an actual, verified, postmodern allegory from the future.

Or, in other words: enjoy this gore while you can, for one day zombies will sprint after you and George Romero will make shitty films.

I continue to enjoy zombie entertainment, but my critical filter for new material featuring zombies is unforgiving. There's just too much garbage out there to do anything other. One thing I often do, when the moment permits, in the midst of any discussion about zombies and my feelings about them, is to let people know about The Walking Dead. Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard's The Walking Dead is one of the few current, and luckily, ongoing pieces of zombie pop culture worth a damn. Robert Kirkman began his series as a familiar ride through a zombie apocalypse; now nearly 70 issues in, he's pushed it into realms that I wasn't aware possible. He is in the midst of writing the masterpiece in the genre of zombie literature.

The group of characters that inhabit the world of Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead have been through a lot. The group has been small, large, and middling in its numbers, and they have all suffered, whether it is physically, emotionally, or otherwise. The rotating casts of characters are never safe, and they do their best to survive the myriad of typical survivor tropes--their relationships within the group (if such a group exists), their connection to their former lives, and their connection with their own minds. As in any apocalyptic fiction the really interesting stuff comes when the characters are forced to acknowledge and confront themselves. Kirkman has given us many zombies, they are ever-present, but he continually shows with each arc and issue, that while zombies are clearly the most obvious antagonist the characters face, the rot not only occurs with the titular walking dead, but has also been systematically taking apart each character since the book's very first issue. Effectively, and I'm not the first to make such a comparison, turning Rick Grimes and his troupe over the course of their travels into a whole other sort of walking dead.

The Walking Dead reads quickly. Month after month, it is the book that I finish in the least amount of time. A few minutes at best. Part of this is due to my enthusiasm for the book, the relief that comes when I get to finally scratch the itch the previous issues' cliffhanger has left (Kirkman writes cliffhangers nearly every issue. And each time, they are wonderful.) part of it is also how Kirkman writes his dialogue - yes, people complain it is wordy and dense, and it can be, but it's also very snappy and real. It's always pertinent to the event, and chugs along with a great pace. It's also a quick read because of how spare and fluid Charlie Adlard's art is. Often, the storytelling done in this book is achieved in panels and sometimes pages of no dialogue and only character action. These moments are always effective and arresting; Adlard draws zombies and gore and fear with such precision. It's one of the greatest books to go back to, after each arc is finished, or when a new trade paperback comes out, and read in succession.

The group of characters that have banded together in this book are no strangers to the ugly face humanity has begun to wear in this new world. They have been in conflict with other living humans before, to staggering degrees of loss and misery, and once again Kirkman has written a story that shows the characters are just as vulnerable to the machinations of other survivors as they are to the zombies that color this book in its often gruesome shades.

I recently went back and re-read the latest story arc, "Fear the Hunters."

It is difficult to talk about The Walking Dead without spoilers. Like any good serial fiction plot threads and character histories weave throughout each new narrative. If you are going to be upset with reading plot details, please do not proceed.

The Walking Dead: "Fear the Hunters," Issues #61- #66.

As the characters take refuge in the church of a priest they've recently met up with, Father Gabriel, who tells them how he had to turn away hundreds of people seeking refuge when the "event" began. Rick Grimes' young son, Carl, is harboring a devastating secret and is being torn apart by the guilt stemming from it. Andrea is getting the distinct feeling that she is being watched; that the group is being stalked by a presence she feels coming from the woods surrounding the church. Dale, the group's one legged eldest member, and Andrea's lover, is bitten by a roamer (what the characters call the zombies) and hides his injury, but is suddenly accosted in the middle of the night and taken away.

The meat of this story revolves primarily around the aforementioned characters, and while several other members of the group’s stories continue here, and are affected by these events, I feel that the focus should be on the above for now.

Andrea panics when she realizes Dale is missing. The group takes action and begins to search the nearby woods, but their search is cut short for fear of attracting more roamers, or leaving the remaining members of the group back at the church vulnerable. To Andrea's dismay, Rick calls an end to the search for the day. Rick shows his concern for Dale, but explains the situation and promises Andrea they will continue to search for him.

Dale wakes up in a strange place, lying down on his back. There are a group of strangers surrounding him. A man who seems to be their leader begins to talk to Dale in a calm, detached, creepy manner. He is explaining to Dale why he's been taken. Dale, groggy from trauma doesn't understand, until it is blatantly spelled out by this man. Here is where Adlard's full page art makes the scene: We see Dale lying down on a picnic table, his good leg missing and the stump bandaged; and here it is, he realizes it as it is spoken; The group that has taken him are cannibals, and they are going to eat him.

To step away from this story for a moment, I would like to share the tag line of Lucio Fulci's Zombi "We Are Going to Eat You"

Zombies eat the living. They sometimes eat brains, but mainly they eat flesh. Any and all of it. Zombies and their affinity for brains, as far as I can remember, began with the horror comedy Return of the Living Dead. Zombies do love brains, but it should be remembered, most specifically in the genre's most brilliant film, Night of the Living Dead, that they also eat flesh. They are cannibalistic in a way. Although no longer living, they are eating what they once were. Trying to siphon life, trying to build back their rot with warm, living flesh. This is what they do. If zombies were able to speak intelligibly, they would tell you: WE ARE GOING TO EAT YOU.

As the group attempts to reconvene and rest at the church, just as everyone is exhausted and frantic, Andrea screams and the group runs outside. In an attempt to break down the characters by scaring them, the cannibals have brought Dale back and thrown him outside the church. The group runs to him, and in the process, one of them, Glenn, is shot in the leg from the woods. Fire is returned, and the group takes shelter back in the church. Rick and Abraham discuss what has happened. It is determined that since they left Dale alive, and only shot Glenn in the leg, they don't want to kill them outright. They want to scare them, they want to pick them apart, and they want to HUNT them. In true grit fashion, Rick, the group's steadfast leader exclaims the simple truth: "They don't know who they're fucking with".

Dale is hurt badly. Now missing both legs, and admits to having been bitten. Andrea and the rest of the group realize what is happening. Dale explains what the hunters are up to, how they're planning on eating everyone. Dale makes Andrea promise to take care of him once the turning begins, and with reluctance she agrees, but makes sure Dale knows just how deeply she loves him. Here is the essence of The Walking Dead: never-ending horror and grief with splashes of beautiful humanity. As Dale recollects his surroundings, Father Gabriel determines that there are only a few neighborhoods in walking distance. A few members set out to set things straight.

The cannibals are discussing their plan of action. They are filled with hubris, and feel that although this new group is larger than what they're used to hunting, they will be able to take them out regardless. Rick shows up and the group's leader allows a dialogue to begin. The leader speaks with confidence, letting Rick know that they will not let them go unharmed, that what they are doing is what they need to do to survive. The leader shares an allegory of how if a bear is starving she will eat her young to survive. If the mother bear dies, the cubs will die, but if she lives, she can always have more cubs. He then tells Rick how there used to be children in their group. And with this, shit pops off.

Rick calls out to the woods "big one, left ear" with a zip and a ping one of the cannibal's ear is shot off. Rick threatens that if anything moves, it will be shot at. Abraham walks out of the woods. The cannibal leader calls Rick's bluff. From the woods, Andrea shoots off his finger. The cannibals are disarmed, and, their leader pleads for their lives. With no reluctance, and in one of the best drawings of Rick's expression, Rick denies him. The group begins to dismember each and every one of the cannibals, making them all watch as it happens. No remorse, no hesitation. Just horror. They are doing what needs to be done in order to survive. An eye for an eye.

Rick and company return to the church. Everyone is assured that the threat is passed, and it is left at that. Dale and Rick make peace with each other, and in the night Dale begins to turn into a zombie. A single shot rings out as Andrea holds true to her promise. Rick, now falling apart emotionally, begins to tell his tale of guilt to Abraham. Of how he is at odds with how easy it was to do what they did, to slaughter the cannibals, even in the face of the danger they presented. He says to Abraham how if his son Carl knew what happened, he wouldn't know what to say, wouldn't know how Carl would be able to process that. Except, Rick hadn't been speaking to Abraham, it was Carl who was behind him the whole time. And with tears in both their eyes, Carl admits to Rick his own dark secret: he is a murderer as well.

So wraps up another horrific and elegant story in the world of The Walking Dead. This arc encompassed nearly all of what makes Kirkman's book such a wonder. Specifically how, in the face of life and death, decisions are made that make everyone compromise their own humanity.

If you're at all interested in what you've read, pick up a collection of The Walking Dead. I am confident you will not find a better piece of zombie related pop culture anywhere today. It is in a league of its own. And, if Kirkman's word holds true, he has no intention of stopping anytime soon. He has said, explicitly, that these stories will go on for years to come. I for one moan and shamble in delight at this prospect.

Write Club Funnies!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Write Club! "King Con Day 2" Pt. 1: Volume 2, Ep. 8

Day two of Write Club at King Con in Brooklyn. Tim & Kurt work out some of the recording kinks from the previous day, and land an impromptu interview with local creator Ben Granoff--who gave WC the skinny on his comic book "We Were the Freedom Federation."

The boys also have a chat with Matt Loux, author and illustrator of "Salt Water Taffy," published by Oni Press.

Intro: "Peaches" The Stranglers
Outro: "Write Club Theme" Scott St. Pierre

flaming babies

King Con: Write Club Promotes You! Pt. II

It's not just creative products people are pimping out at these cons, sometimes the potential clients are the con-goers themselves. In this case we have imPhotoGraphics who print up business cards, banners, table throws and runners--all the good stuff you may need at a convention if you wish to sell your wares. The postcard looks good, the prices seem fair, and once I'm at the point where I need to throw together a huge production, well I'll check this blog post and go there. Plus, he's out of Merrick, Long Island so I gots ta represent.

Another non-creative, but very essential, part of being a comic professional is looking after your funds (when you get to the point where you are an actual PAID freelancer). We spoke with a financial wiz who is looking to work with those of us who are doing something a bit more interesting than the average banker, trader, or whatever it is that people do to make lots of money these days. Joshua Hurni out of Advanced Wealth Solutions Group is this man and he'd like to help. So if you're interested hit us up here and we'll pass along his information.

Straddling the line between creative and informative are sites that provide you with news & reviews (much like ourselves, though we like to stress our creative side more); we had a Brooklyn couple stop by that had just heard of the con last minute, who run a site called SFSCOPE which looks to be a text heavy news/review site of all things SPECULATIVE FICTION not to be confused (aka slumming it) with Science Fiction. There looks to be a good amount of information here, so take a gander why don't ya?

Next in my pile is a postcard for Christopher Irving & Seth Kushner's website NYC GRAPHIC NOVELISTS with some bold photos by Kushner of some of the industry's top creators (I love the shot of Dean Haspiel atop the Studio). They profile some of the coolest creators that live and work in NY, as well as some reviews and articles. "A photo and essay journey into the heart and soul of New York City through the eyes of her cartoonists" as they put it on their postcard. They're both very cool guys themselves and even allowed me to tag along on their interview of Carmine Infantino; seeing as how I'm an insane Flash fan, it was truly an honor. Hopefully we'll have these guys on an upcoming episode as they try to turn this site into a hardcover book. You can read the review of their King Con panel here.

In a future post I'll be talking more indepth about Act-I-Vate covering Seth Kushner's new webcomic SCHMUCK and the documentary he co-directed on the Act-I-Vate creators the Act-I-Vate Experience.

When you don't have a slick psotcard or a business card, what do you do? Steal priority mail stickers from the post office and write your info on them apparently. A Reid Harris Cooper, writer/artist/actor, handed me this after a brief conversation. I checked out his site PopCultureSpectrum and it's a blog with some random info, and something that I think is a must see is the Spider-Man Pedicab Driver post. I gotta keep my eyes peeled for this lunatic on the streets of NYC.

Along with Bree of Sex, Drugs & June Cleaver as mentioned in a previous post, a young lady handed me her business card, with a cute graphic on it, rounded edges, and nice design pointing me to her webcomic THE GLASS URCHIN. It's a nicely organized site with a cutesy auto-biographical comic, where the main characters (and only the main characters) happen to be cutesy animals. From whimsical to philosophical to goofy, the strip covers a full range and there's a nice honesty to the art. Definitely worth a look and a nice companion piece to the aforementioned S,D&JC, seeing as they're both friends and all.

Another webcomic, launching around Thanksgiving-time, is MOONLIGHTING which I'm looking forward to. Ms. Emily Wernet's artwork is cool, the idea (a sleepwalking superheroine) sounds cool, and she fights cryptozoological creatures which is definitely cool. I'll hit this up once it goes live and pimp it out a bit more once I get to give it a read. You can see the promo image and some scratchy short comics on the site above in the meantime.

A promo poster for Kevin Mellon's Suicide Sisters somehow wound up at our table and it looked cool so I snagged it. Bad ass chicks chasing down demons on motorcycles. And it's coming out through APE Entertainment which is awesome as I didn't know they were still around. Check out the sites and look at the artwork which is pretty impressive. I'll keep my eye out for it.

Last, but certainly not least, is one of the funniest mini-comics I've read in awhile. A young cartoonist named Lauren Barnett came by and dropped off a mini-comic "A Story About Fish", which I thought was good, with art ranging from cartoony to realistic(ish) much like the tone of the story. When I got home that night I had looked up her comics on her blog MeLikesYouComics and saw the other book "I'd Sure Like Some F#*%ing Pancakes" and just loved the title, wishing I had that one as well. Sure enough, as we're packing up our stuff Sunday I found a copy lying on the table next to us. I read it on the train on my way to work after the con (yes, I had to work all night long after both days of the con) and I literally laughed out loud on the train the whole time. It's a certain type of humor, for sure, but I get it and love it. Check out her one panel comics up on the site and enjoy. It's really fun stuff that makes me smile. (She also has something coming soon called SECRET WEIRDO which looks cool and I can't deny that title intrigues me.)

That about wraps up my stack of goodies. The one other thing I'd like to throw out there is the Abrams ComicArts Book Club which is hosted by Bergen Street Comics. They had their first meeting this past November 12th, which unfortunately due to the con, a 40 hour workweek, and terrible flu-like symptoms, I had to miss, but they discussed Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics, and our own Tim Mucci was on the scene, so maybe if we ask him nice he'll give us a review of the event. Or maybe we'll see you at the next one.

Til next con kids,


Thursday, November 19, 2009

King Con: Write Club Promotes You! Part I

A fun part of any con are the random goodies people will come up and hand you. I'm going to try and run down some of the business cards, flyers, mini-comics, comics, and stickers I got during the two-day crazy that was KING CON!

First on my stack are a handful of stickers from TheAngryPenguin.com. I've already sticker bombed the West side from 34th Street to 14th along 9th Ave, and I still have a good stack o' stickers here.

I checked out the site and other than a very bizarre webcomic, it mostly seems like a brand character on t-shirts and dolls, and in YouTube videos running amok. He even sponsored a concert over the summer. Weird, but looks like they had a huge expensive booth on the Big Apple Con and Peter Lazarski, the artist of the webcomic, was at King Con. Stickers away!

Next up is a postcard for Astronaut Elementary by Dave Roman. Looks like AstronautElementary is done for now but it's a fun read so far. He's done a lot of Nickelodeon work and even co-created TEEN BOAT! I've always seen this comic floating around various cons and read a funny mini-comic of it way back when. Ooh, and Jax Epoch/Quicken Forbidden which I've read. Cool. He's got a cool style, so check it out kids!

From slick postcards to folded photocopied paper--yet this is no ordinary photocopy paper--this one made me laugh out loud, four times! (half a letter size, folded in half, four comics!) Four comics and the website SexDrugsAndJuneCleaver, that's all! Well, that and pure hilarity! This comic really did make me laugh, and every now and then I think of any of these four and laugh to myself. Looks like Bree (no last name) has been doing it since 2007 and the first ones have got me laughing already. I definitely recommend this one.

Now back to a slick comic, with an ISBN barcode and everything! BAD GRAMMAR by Marie Condenzio. The production of the yellow covered comic is great, the art, although a bit rough, is in the raw American manga style, sort of.
The illustration work on her site is great, and I think this book would definitely be helped by adding some color to it.

The story is: new kid in a new school making friends, and it reads a bit awkward, but I wasn't sure if that was the point--ala the title Bad Grammar. Interesting work nonetheless, I'd like to see how her work develops.

This one was given to Rick Lacy, and I snagged it from him cause I just loved it so. SheSkull Skeleton Warrior! by Sara Antoinette Martin.

I really love her style, very detailed, has sort of an old school tattoo vibe. The story in SheSkull is very reminiscent of Fletcher Hanks. It's the bizarre story of a finned female skeleton warrior (hence the title) with extremely well rendered artwork. I can't wait to see more from Ms. Martin! (And, seriously...skelecore? Rule!)

Sitting next to us were a few guys selling Pug figurines (as well as some very detailed and large Juggernaut, Cable, Wolverine, etc. statue/figures). Dave Cortes sculpts figures for just about everybody (Toy Biz, McFarlane Toys, etc.) it looks like as his site InuArt shows a ton of his designs (including the never released because children could kill other children with it, giant tree man from Lord of the Rings [no I don't know his name as I'm not a Tolkien fan. Deal.) His own personal project is PUGZEE who has his own comic and backstory as a gangster pug on the run from Johnny Law. It looks like there will be a different Pugzee for each neighborhood in Brooklyn. Pretty cool and smart money focusing in on the dog lovers.

I think the Pugzee guys also gave us a card for Alpha Godz Entertainment who I've seen at multiple shows over the past few years, and they even had a story or two in Reflux, the comic anthology that Chris Chua and myself had a few stories in. (Just found this link which mentions our story as one the highlights! Sweet! And here's a link to the story itself: COOKIES!) Anyways, it seems Alpha Godz is an umbrella for the Montalvo Brothers, Christian & Antonio, as well as Jason Claudio.

Didn't mention you yet? Stay tuned for Part 2!


Monday, November 16, 2009

Write Club! Volume 2, Episode 7: "King Con Day 1" Pt. 2

The second part of Write Club at King Con in Brooklyn. Tim, Kurt and Rick are beginning to crack under pressure.

The boys of table #1 are cold, hungry and in need of a secure bathroom situation. Just as things are at their most bleak, con co-coordinator Mike Zagari shows up to lend some words of wisdom.

Intro: "Bone House" The Dead Weather
Outro: "Write Club Theme" Scott St. Pierre

BK's Temple of Doom

Write Club Funnies!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Write Club! Volume 2, Episode 7: "King Con Day 1" Pt. 1

Tim & Kurt hold it down at King Con with a little help from Labor Days/Star Wars Adventures artist Rick Lacy.

Didn't get to attend King Con? Here's your chance to feel like you're in the moment!

This is a short 'cast with much more to come! Keep an eye out for more Write Club madness, and an interview with King Con Co-Coordinator (such alliteration!) Mike Zagari!

Intro: "I Fought the Law" The Dead Kennedys

Outro: "Write Club Theme" Scott St. Pierre

Poppin' B!?

Dethklok vs The Goon One-Shot Review

I just finished Dethklok vs the Goon, a one-shot published by Dark Horse Comics this past July 2009. It pairs up Dark Horse's other horror fighter, Eric Powell's The Goon, with Brendan Small's metal band Dethklok, from the Adult Swim cartoon Metalocalypse.

Now, I need to say I came into this as a Dethklok fan, as I sit in Think Coffee listening to the song The Lost Vikings at 9am in the morning, and before I went to bed last night I watched the season 3 premiere. For those unintiated in the black metal awesomeness, just imagine the Monkees as a metal band and you're close.

I've never read an issue of the Goon, but Powell's art is amazing. Beautifully rendered scenes of horrific violence against mutants and monsters. I love the early 20th century feel of the characters and the world they inhabit. A time when monsters could have very well walked among two-fisted men in cool caps.

This comic is pretty much an episode of Metalocalypse with the Goon making a guest appearance. Brendan Small is listed as assisting with dialogue and plot points, and it shows because this feels very much like Dethklok and I even put their voices in as I read the dialogue.

The basic premise is that Murderface, bassist of Dethklok, is descended from inbred royalty by a secret society looking to create a perfect anti-human whose mere presence would destroy space/time. A warlock tries to control Murderface as a manchurian candidate Dr. Rockso (the rock'n'roll clown) is sent to kill Dethklok by the Illuminati that watch over Dethklok's doings.

All of Mordhaus, Dethklok's castle, is transported to the Goon's reality, and hilarity and antics ensue. The story takes a long time to even get to the Goon's time, and it's really just jokes and carnage from there on out. The Goon seems pretty weak even as his world, which looks interesting and goregeous in its horror filled panels, kind of just lies flat.

The art is crappy and thin lined for the Dethklok bits, and looks just like the cartoon, whereas the Goon bits are so well done that the art alone would make me want to read his own books. But it won't, just as the art I've seen before wowed me time and time again, I don't feel the urge to read more of Powell's stories.

All in all, great episode of Metalocalypse but bad issue of the Goon (not that I really know). But based off the success of this issue, Dethklok will be getting their own Dark Horse series, which I will definitely tune in for... I mean pick up each Wednesday.

Like the Goon? Want to defend Powell's honor? Hate Dethklok? Tell me I'm wrong in the comments below, I dare you!


Write Club: Best of Write Club!

Just before our stint at King Con I thought it would be fun to put together a little clip show featuring some of the funny stuff that has escaped our mouths over the months of Write Club. Here's the result. 5 minutes of tomfoolery and comics. Enjoy!

P.S.: Still working on the actual shows we recored at King Con. Should be up before next week.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Welcome King Con Peeps!

Hello all of you who came and stopped by Write Club!'s table at the fabulous King Con, held this weekend at the Brooklyn Lyceum in Park Slope, and are now checking out our corner of the web. It was a blast and we got some on-site podcasting done with a few creators we know and love and made some new friends along the way.

Firstly, big ups to dashing Rick Lacy & 'mazing Matt Loux who we shared a table with. Rick & Matt both have separate books out from Oni Press and they are awesome.

Rick draws the 'Big Lebowski meets James Bond' comedy/action book Labor Days, of which book 2 has just been released. Labor Days: Book 1 Preview & Labor Days Book 2 Preview.

And if you'd like a commentary to Labor Days Book 1, you can listen here as me & Tim chat with Rick and writer Phil Gelatt about all the behind-the-scenes info that went into Labor Days, and just what that title means.

Matt Loux writes and draws Salt Water Taffy a spiffy, children's adventure book that we had the pleasure of discussing with him on-air, as it were. Stay tuned for the King Con Write Club! podcast where Matt gives us his dream cast for Salt Water Taffy: the Movie! 8 Page preview of book 3 up at Oni Press.

He also mentioned a cool anthology of comics featuring video game characters called LIFEMETER in which he has a Maniac Mansion story. I need to get me a copy of this.

So if you saw two radtastic artists sitting besides us, that was them, or if you saw two weirdos sitting next to them and one of us shoved a business card into your hand, WELCOME TO WRITE CLUB!

We're a comics/writing podcast, but we really cover a wide range of topics, and we're all about promoting, not just ourselves but YOU! Yes, you! With your mini-comics, or comic themed band, or webcomic, anthology, etc., we want to help you build an audience (and maybe take a few readers/listeners for ourselves).

So please, send us an email with a link or information about your project and we'll talk about it here or on our podcast. You can reach us at Write.Club1@gmail.com, or via Twitter TimX13 (Tim) & AgentFenris (Kurt) or Write_Club. We're looking for consistent webcomic content, and as we're both writers trying to draw, well, it's a slow process, so if you have a webcomic and like to have a home for it, we'd be glad to post it up in our webcomics section.

You can listen to the podcast here on our blog, which will feature, articles, reviews, and webcomics, or you can get Write Club! from iTunes. You can also chat with us on our Write Club! official thread up on the TenTonStudios forum, or you can hit us up on our Write Club! Facebook Page.

For those of you who may be interested in my upcoming graphic novel with the talented Chris Chua (as seen in Marvel's Strange Tales #3 out last Wednesday!), you can see the preview of it up at our studio's site TenTonStudios.com. As pages are lettered I will be posting them up at the link below.


You can also get your Chris Chua fix at his Controlled Chaos Caricature Blog and read his original webcomic-graphic novel HYPER DEMENTED TURDLE SHOWDOWN.

As for Tim Mucci, you may have seen his TOM SAWYER from Sterling, but also available soon is THE ODYSSEY and you can pick up STAR WARS CLONE ADVENTURES Vol. 3 in which he has a short story.

So, that's us. Now, you tell us who you are and what it is you do. We'd like to help you in any way we can.

We Are Write Club! (and so are you)


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Write Club! Volume 2, Episode 6: "The Right Club"

Tim and Kurt discuss the upcoming convention season and the drama involved therein. The duo also reveal their first public podcasting foray (debacle) at Brooklyn's King Con, and, as always...talk about comics.

Intro & Outro: "Write Club Theme" Scott St. Pierre

For Your Estrogen!

Write Club Review- Abe Sapien: The Haunted Boy

By Pete Lenz

Tim approached me recently, and asked me to write reviews for Write Club. I agreed, but then began to wonder about how our friendship would suffer after I wrote up my critique of his podcast.

Then I figured out that Tim actually wanted me to write comics or book reviews for the Write Club website. I agreed, and this time I immediately had some ideas about what I would do. Since I now knew that I’d be reviewing comics or books or some other form of media, and not an actual episode of Write Club--although in that brief period of confusion, I did in fact begin to mentally list some flawed past episodes of the Write Club podcast, but that’s for another time.

That night, after getting home, I told my wife that I had work to do. I was commissioned by the co-founder of Write Club to produce a review for content on its website. I sat down with my to-be-read pile of comic books, and began the process of selecting one that I’d read then write about. After narrowing it down to a few books, I proceeded to fall asleep on my carpet.

Abe Sapien: The Haunted Boy

Dark Horse

Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi

Art by Patrick Reynolds

Colors by Dave Stewart

Letters by Clem Robins

Cover art by Dave Johnson


Released 10/28

Abe Sapien might be my favorite character in the entire Hellboy world. He’s intelligent, refined, comedic, and aside from being an Icthyo Sapien, he’s relatively normal. Abe became active in the B.P.R.D in 1981; this particular story is set in 1982 – an old tale of my favorite merman paranormal defender.

Professor Broom calls on Abe to investigate the ghostly manifestation of a boy named Adam who drowned in a lake after falling through broken ice. It’s been slow for the Bureau, so Abe jumps on the chance to get some field work in. Abe visits the deceased boy’s family, who have become shattered in the face of the young boy's death. The boy’s brother, Jacob, who survived the lake incident, has become a withdrawn and troubled child. Abe speaks with him, doesn’t quite learn anything new, and then decides to check out the scene of the drowning. He dives into the lake, and deep within makes contact with the deceased boy’s ghost. In a moment of revelation, Abe races back to the family’s house and demands to see Jacob again. Abe wastes no time and begins to threaten Jacob, claiming he knows what he did and how his brother Adam really died. Pinning Jacob against the wall, Abe grills him on what happened and within a sequence of wonderfully grotesque art, we learn that Jacob is possessed of a creature or demon – the thing that is truly responsible for Adam’s death. The boy’s mother takes a stand which damages the creature, causing it to jump into the lake and perish. We learn through Abe’s field report that the creature was a Nokken (we learn in the back matter that a Nokken or Nix is a Scandinavian water spirit. This is what I love about Mignola - he takes bits from every aspect of myth and fable and makes them work in his comics), and that a number of them may be maintaining a nest in the area. The story wraps up by showing the the family post event, and a meditation on how a haunting can sometimes be something other than paranormal; in this case both a supernatural and humanly emotional event.

The above reads like a shitty book report. If you disagree, I’m your biggest fan. What I would like to say about this book, beyond summarizing its story, is that it was a pretty decent value for a one-shot. Mignola has been able to advance the world of Hellboy in incredible ways over the last few years since he began collaborating with other writers and artists to do some of the heavy lifting. In a lot of cases I would call this ghostwriting, but in Mignola’s case, it’s the farthest from the truth. He’s involved in nearly every aspect of these additional tales, and it shows. He’s been working with like minded writers and artists to create new stories in this world. It’s a delightful thing to have been getting so many Hellboy and B.P.R.D tales over the last few years, especially since they're remaining true to the creator's vision. It’s not clear in this case if Mignola offered a story fragment, and John Arcudi wrote the script, but it’s irrelevant. Arcudi has played in this sandbox before, and the results have been wonderful thus far. Patrick Reynolds’ art fits perfectly. His style, while unlike Mignola’s, maintains many of the qualities you'd expect from the Hellboy brand, but still has its own look. Again – like minded, but offering its own merits in style and substance.

This book is part of Dark Horse’s “One-Shot Wonders” line-up scheduled for the next few weeks and ending out the year. In addition to Hellboy's Abe Sapien, they’re promoting one shots for Star Wars, Buffy, The Goon, and Conan to name a few. I read a few Dark Horse books monthly, but may dip a bit more to see what the rest of these One-Shots will offer. It’s always nice to have a standalone story set apart from continuity, and this one-shot story was just that: a one-shot story. One not mired in back story (although, as always, it’s there for the careful reader) but capable of entertaining the reader with a satisfying and quick tale. I recommend it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"What's the deal with..." Motion Comics

Okay, so we know what Mobile Comics are: sequential art on your phone/eReader; static images of scanned in comic book pages with transitions between panels. Basically still a comic book, just in a digital format.

Motion comics, however, have more in common with cartoons/animation, and in their own way, are more enjoyable to watch, but a lot of creators question whether something that moves, speaks, and has music (thereby requiring no reading) is still a comic book at all.

I'm not going to get into that debate here. No, I just want to evaluate what is out there and available in this new electronic comic format/medium. I'll try and keep it chronological for the sake of witnessing the development of the technology and see who did what first.

I Am Legend. Watchmen. Batman. Obviously with Warner Brothers backing DC Comics (now more than ever as part of DC Entertainment) they were an obvious forerunner to Motion Comics.

I recall first seeing original Motion Comics promoting the movie 'I Am Legend' and upon searching could only find these two: I Am Legend: Isolation & I Am Legend: Awakening. The art is good and it's entertaining, I particularly like the jail story in Isolation, but they didn't do much with it past when the movie premiered. Although I have just learned they are on the DVD as extras, and as one reviewer said, they're good pilots for sequels without Will Smith.

Then the un-makeable, comic book, anti-superhero epic Watchmen was to be released, and Warner Brothers decided to put out the story as Motion Comic Webisodes. The good thing is there's a whole site based around the project, which is available on iTunes, Amazon Video on Demand, as well as a DVD release. I watched the first episode on the Black Freighter/Under the Hood extra DVD that was released after the movie, and it was pretty faithful and well done. The only complaint I can drum up is that it's treated as an audio-book with one guy doing all the voices, even for the ladies.

I watched previews of Batman: Black and White, Batman Adventures: Mad Love, and Batgirl Year One last night on my iPod touch. I've only read the Batgirl Year One in print and I really loved that story, seeing it in action is really amazing. It's available here on Amazon Video on Demand and iTunes. The other Batman stories seem cool as well, but I'm not the biggest Batman fan. Batman: Black and White is available here on iTunes and Amazon Video on Demand.

Here's a link to Time Warner's info on their webcomics/motion comics.

They've also released Superman Red Son on iTunes and I've watched some snippets of the webisodes/chapters of the stories, but I'm hearing some bad things, technical and story editing-wise, about these so it seems that Warner Brothers has some work to do to learn how to properly market and put out their stories. It does show, however, that they know which high profile comics/graphic novels to push (not hard to figure out if you look at sales, I suppose). Here's a little snippet from YouTube.

SyFy Channel has been airing the Street Fighter & Voltron (both originally published in print comic form by Devil's Due Press) Motion Comics as part of their Ani-Monday lineup (Monday night at Midnight) both of which have been released on DVD earlier in 2009 by Eagle One Media.

There isn't a lot of animation here and unless you're a huge fan of either one I don't think you'll be that entertained by it. I enjoy it as I am a huge Ken fan, and the art is really cool (in that post-modern American manga sort of way), the voices, sfx, and music are fine, but in the end it's Street Fighter and Voltron. So there you go.

To buy these on DVD (and many other motion comic DVDs, including CrossGen Comics [whatever happened to them?]) click here Eagle One Media.

Then we come to Stan Lee, who will never give up putting something out there, and so his company POW! Entertainment teamed up with Disney to produce TimeJumper which is available on iTunes. Below is the sneak peek of episode one, and it looks good, but generic-- much like most of what Stan Lee has put out in the past few years (*cough* Striperella *cough*).

And apprently Striperella is its own iPod/iPhone mobile comic, and you really need to watch this video.

This brings me to Marvel. They offered Spider-Woman: Agent of SWORD for $1 for two weeks, before bumping the price up to $2, which is still half of what a print comic costs these days. And in a cool marketing move, they released this comic as a motion comic first, then published in print a month later. The big deal here is that this is an in-continuity story that's released in digital format before it's put into it's regular print format.

The Astonishing X-Men Motion Comic trailer; the art and animation seem really cool, advanced way beyond what's come before it (in some respects), and kind of worth a buck or two. The good thing is they're keeping the releases of their motion comics coming out every two weeks, with Spider-Woman leading up to the launch of Astonishing X-Men, which with Joss Whedon and John Cassaday on the writing and art respectively, and it being the X-Men and all, this is definitely their most mass media/comic fanboy friendly project.

This, to me, looks awesome. I know some other comic fans that disagree with me, but I definitely enjoy the extra level of detail that went into animating this. It may be even closer to animation/cartoons than some of the other motion comics above, but that's what I love. It retains the same art and storytelling as the original comics, and then adds in extra drama with the voices, music, and animated action.

Marvel knew they'd have to go the extra mile to pimp out this badboy, so here's a clip from Marvel.com of the premiere of Astonishing X-Men Motion Comic on October 28, 2009, held in Union Square. I've heard mixed (a little on the bad side) reviews of this event, but I think it was mostly due to the weather. There was a signing with Chris Claremont, Dan Slott, Neal Adams, Frank Tieri, Paolo Rivera, Jacob Chabot, and my boy, Reilly "Big Time" Brown. Watch the merriment upon Reilly's face as he sketches and chats with fans!

They really wanted to sell this to not just comic fans, but also to the video game, music video, anime loving crowd, and so, released this music video on the G4 Channel.

All in all, a pretty decent media push from Marvel and a great digital product to go along with it. Marvel even held an animating contest through a website called Aniboom looking for motion comic animators. They've narrowed the contest down to five finalists which they have posted for your viewing pleasure here.

They seem pretty interesting, and you really get a sense of how motion comics can be directed really well, or really poorly. If you look on Aniboom's website you'll see some of the less than stellar results which I think is just as interesting as the well done ones.

Here's a few more articles on Marvel's Motion Comics and Motion Comics in general:


Marvel's Motion Comic Spider-Woman at Newsarama

Inside Warner Brothers Digital Comics

iPhone Saves Small Press?

Kindle 2, iPods, and Comics Future


Motion Comics: Graphic Novels in the Digital Age

Now, if we follow this trend, imagining that iPod-ish technology will catch on and never go away, digital floppies (or singles, issues, etc.) should be the standard comic book weekly Wednesday and then collected trades, hardcovers, omnibuses to be released regularly in print AND digital. The only problem is that the print weekly comics can never fully go away, as that was always the fun of going to a comic store. Buying these things online is a novelty, but I still hunger for a physical storefront. But maybe tomorrow's generation won't mind a world without stores.

All this makes me wonder one thing: when are we going to see Sam Keith's MTV produced The Maxx series on DVD?! (Which really did this whole thing 13 years ago.)