Showing posts with label autobiography. Show all posts
Showing posts with label autobiography. Show all posts

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Meet a Localish Cartoonist: A Chat with Rose Turner

 by Mike Rhode

 A friend of mine saw Rose Turner this February at a local event when that was still possible. 

Scott Stewart told me, "I attended an event in Round Hill, VA titled, 'Where Art Meets Hiking' focused on art based on the Appalachian Trail.  The speaker at the event was Rose “Comics” Turner who talked about “the importance of overlap between my worlds of art and hiking and how I managed to make art while I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail.”

"It was a good talk and a very interesting comics project. Speaking with her, I learned, among other things, that she lives in Front Royal, VA, will be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in the west coast as her next adventure, and is leaving for an Ireland jaunt."

"She recently started a podcast Journeys Through Art where she and co-host Melanie "Doodles" Cichocki 'interview artist adventurers from around the world to dive a little deeper into humanity.'  For example, Episode 2 features Kerstin A. La Cross, ;an Adventure Cartoonist and illustrator based in the Pacific Northwest. While not gallivanting in the mountains, they make comics about hiking, wilderness safety, and mental health. Their current comic project is ‘BASHers’, a memoir webcomic chronicling their first long-distance backpacking trip, where they hiked 100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail and learned the difference between strength and stubbornness, and what it’s like to have your first asthma attack in the middle of nowhere.'”

I'd like to thank Scott for introducing me to Rose's work, and now she answers our usual questions and the new, inevitable, COVID-19 question.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

I primarily focus on autobiographical comics. Within that, a lot of my recent and upcoming work is specifically about the adventures I go on, especially long-distance hikes.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

Right now I primarily use watercolor, ink, and pencil, though I am slowly beginning to incorporate more digital work. It feels like there's a bigger buy-in for embarking into digital work, so I've been slow to get into that.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

I'm a 90's kid from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.

Why are you in now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

I'm still based in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley for now, though I'm hoping to move out west at some point, hopefully within a year or so after this pandemic really starts to subside.

How has the COVID-19 outbreak affected you, personally and professionally? 

I was out on an adventure in Ireland when things really started shifting due to the virus. I had just changed my flight to come home a few days early when the travel ban was put in place. But even before that, I was starting to try not to use public transportation or hang out in bigger cities. I'm, uh, broke right now to begin with, and had actually just lost my day job (the business closed) the day that I left for Ireland. I had been planning to get one or two jobs when I returned, like at one of the wineries nearby, and just work a bunch and save up. But now it looks like I'll be working a bunch and, well, not really saving, since most of my work (art) goes unpaid, unfortunately. At the same time, I have been able to focus on my art a little bit more during this time, so I'm kind of just doing what I can to build up my skills and profession. I'm also really trying to use my art as a resource and a gift for folks, including offering a recent art giveaway to help cheer people up.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

I've been an artist my whole life. I took a few classes here and there during my schooling, mostly just related to drawing in general. My degree is unrelated (International Studies), but I did do a study abroad that focused on incorporating art with travel. That was incredibly nourishing! My dad and my sister are both artists as well, and gave me some of my first lessons in the world of art when I was a kid.

Who are your influences?

Oof. So many. Bill Watterson, M.C. Escher, Alison Bechdel, Lucy Bellwood. Seth Pitt is probably my favorite these days; though our styles are completely different, I feel like our hearts are pretty similar, and in that way I resonate with his work very deeply. I'm fortunate to have a few extremely kind and talented mentors in my life who have inspired me immeasurably, including Ben Hatke, Zack Giallongo, and Kerstin A. La Cross.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change? 

Eh, not much really. I've been pretty happy with my path overall. I only wish I had started practicing my craft more consistently sooner. There are a couple projects I sort of wish I had printed as soon as they were finished and then actually taken them to cons and such, but I've always been so busy that I don't think it was ever really an option. I am planning to do more of that in the near future, however. 

What work are you best-known for?

"Miles of Comics", a collection of comics depicting my thru-hike on the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail. Still working on these!

What work are you most proud of?

I'm really proud of those trail comics. It's the longest art project I've ever done, and I'm so glad that I've stuck with it. I think the work I'm most proud of though is anytime that my art has made people feel more understood and less alone in their experiences as a human - most of that comes from my March Madness Comics series, which are a bunch of 1-4 page, usually very vulnerable but sometimes funny autobiographical comics I've made. 

What would you like to do  or work on in the future?

I'd love to do more adventure art. For upcoming adventures, I'll be expanding my focus so that my art quite so exclusive to comics, but includes more portraits and landscapes and journal-style art. I'd also love to do more work with cartography, combining my love of maps and making art. 

What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Awesome Con, or others? Any comments about attending them?

While I've visited a few small cons, I only just have my first proper vendor gig coming up. I'll be set up at the Round Hill Appalachian Trail Festival, which has been postponed to September. Lots of great people involved with that event!

Turner in Feb 2020 by Scott Stewart
What's your favorite thing about the Shenandoah Valley?

The mountains and the hugs. When I was away at college, I started referring to Front Royal as "Hugsville", and nearby spots like Strasburg and Winchester are part of "The Greater Hugsville Area". It has certainly been strange being in Hugsville without all the hugs (due to social distancing). My housemates are getting extra hugs to make up for it. 

Least favorite?

It feels pretty segregated even today. I want to look into what I can do to address that and change it. 

What monument or museum do you like to take visitors to?

Does the library count? I worked there for a few years. I know I'm a little biased, but I've seen dozens of libraries around the country, and Samuel's Public Library is truly exceptional in its design (beautiful murals inside!), collection, technology, and above all its stellar staff and programming. It's one of the main places I like to make sure visitors go to.

Turner in Feb 2020 by Scott Stewart
How about a favorite local restaurant?

Happy Creek Coffee & Tea for lighter fair, but if you want a full meal I'd say Truss'd. 

Do you have a website or blog? 

My Patreon is active though! I'm in the midst of getting a little more of an online store available, but for now, Patreon is best.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Bob Batchelor on the birth of Spider-Man echoed in local 'King Kirby' play currently running

Coincidentally, a press release from Bob Batchelor came through today that ties in strongly with the play King Kirby which is currently running in Greenbelt. The paragraph where Goodman asks for more Westerns (or whatever is selling) is a recurring episode in the play, as is this characterization of Stan Lee. In his upcoming biography of Stan Lee, Batchelor writes about the creation of Marvel's first superhero character, and Jack Kirby's role in it. With his permission, here's info on his book and the excerpt (which, if you think it gives Lee too much credit, bring it up with Bob please).

Fifty-five years ago the Amazing Spider-Man debuted in a comic book series that faced cancellation for low sales. If it weren’t for a stream of fan letters and readers gobbling up the book, one of the world’s most iconic superheroes would have died an untimely death.

T​he story behind Spider-Man’s creation and appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 is a tale filled with intrigue, and more importantly, Stan Lee’s calculated risk. The famed editor and writer deliberately ignored his boss – publisher Martin Goodman – who rejected the character, because “people hate spiders.” Unable to get Spider-Man out of his head, Lee had an origin story printed in AF #15. The overwhelming response and extraordinary sales would transform Marvel from a publishing also-ran to the hippest, hottest publisher on the planet.

Below is a 1,500-word excerpt on Spider-Man’s creation by noted biographer and cultural historian Bob Batchelor, which is excerpted from his new book Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel (published September 15, 2017).

Batchelor, who teaches at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, is the author of more than 25 books, including Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel (Rowman & Littlefield, September 2017, adult trade, retail $22.95). Amazon:

A lifelong comic book fan and noted media resource, he has been an editorial consultant for numerous outlets and been quoted in or on BBC Radio World Service,, Columbus Dispatch,, The Miami Herald, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Dallas Morning News, Taiwan News, Associated Press, The Guardian, and The Washington Post.

Spidey Saves the Day!
By Bob Batchelor

All lean muscles and tautness, a new superhero bursts from the page. Swinging right into the reader’s lap, the hero is masked, only alien-like curved eyes reveal human features, no mouth or nose is visible. His power is alarming: casually holding a ghoulish-looking criminal in one hand, while simultaneously swinging from a hair-thin cord high above the city streets. In the background, tiny figures stand on rooftops, looking on and pointing in what can only be considered outright astonishment.

The superhero is off-center, frozen in a moment, as if a panicked photographer snapped a series of frames. The image captures the speed, almost like flight, with the wind at his back. The hero’s deltoid ripples and leg muscles flex. Some mysterious webbing extends from his elbow to waist. Is this a man or creature from another world?

The answer is actually neither. Looking at the bright yellow dialogue boxes running down the left side of the page, the reader learns the shocking truth. This isn’t a grown man, older and hardened, like Batman or Superman, one an existential nightmare and the other a do-gooder alien. No, this hero is just a self-professed “timid teenager” named Peter Parker. The world, he exclaims, mocks the teen under the mask, but will “marvel” at his newfound “awesome might.”

It is August 1962. Spider-Man is born.

Spider-Man’s debut in a dying comic book called Amazing Fantasy happened because Stan Lee took a calculated risk. He trusted his instincts. Rolling the dice on a new character meant potentially wasting precious hours writing, penciling, and inking a title that might not sell. The business side of the industry constantly clashed with the creative, forcing fast scripting and artwork to go hand-in-hand.

In more than two decades toiling as a writer and editor, Lee watched genres spring to life, and then almost as quickly, readers would turn to something else. War stories gave way to romance titles, which might then ride a wave until monster comics became popular. In an era when a small group of publishers controlled the industry, they kept close watch over each other’s products in hopes of mimicking sales of hot titles or genres.

Lee calls Marvel’s publisher Martin Goodman, “One of the great imitators of all time.” Goodman dictated what Lee wrote after ferreting out tips and leads from golf matches and long lunches with other publishers. If he heard that westerns were selling for a competitor, Goodman would visit Lee, bellowing, “Stan, come up with some Westerns.”[1​] 

This versatility had been Lee’s strength, swiftly writing and plotting many different titles. He often used gimmicks and wordplay, like recycling the gunslinger Rawhide Kid in 1960 and making him into an outlaw or using alliteration, as in Millie the Model.

A conservative executive, Goodman rarely wanted change, which irked Lee. The writer bristled at his boss’s belittling beliefs, explaining, “He felt comics were really only read by very, very young children or stupid adults,” which meant “he didn’t want me to use words of more than two syllables if I could help it…Don’t play up characterization, don’t have too much dialogue, just have a lot of action.” Given the precarious state of publishing companies, which frequently went belly-up, and his long history with Goodman, Lee admits, “It was a job; I had to do what he told me.”[​2​]

Despite being distant relatives and longtime coworkers, the publisher and editor maintained a cool relationship. From Lee’s perspective, “Martin was good at what he did and made a lot of money, but he wasn’t ambitious. He wanted things to stay the way they were.”

Riding the wave of critical success and extraordinary sales of The Fantastic Four, Goodman gave Lee a simple directive: “Come up with some other superheroes.”[3​] The Fantastic Four, however, subtly shifted the relationship. Lee wielded greater authority. He used some of the profit to pay writers and editors more money, which then offloaded some of the pressure.

Launching Spider-Man, however, Lee did more than divert the energy of his staff. He actually defied Goodman.

For months, Lee grappled with the idea of a new superhero with realistic challenges that someone with superpowers would face living in the modern world. The new character would be “a teenager, with all the problems, hang-ups, and angst of any teenager.” Lee came up with the colorful “Spider-Man” name and envisioned a “hard-luck kid” both blessed and cursed by acquiring superhuman strength and the ability to cling to walls, just like a real-life spider.[4​]

Lee recalls pitching Goodman, embellishing the story of Spider-Man’s origin by claiming that he got the idea “watching a fly on the wall while I had been typing.”[​5​] He laid the character out in full: teen, orphan, angst, poor, intelligent, and other traits. Lee thought Spider-Man was a no-brainer, but to his surprise, Goodman hated it and forbade him from offering it as a standalone book.[6​]

The publisher had three complaints: “people hate spiders, so you can’t call a hero ‘Spider-Man’”; no teenager could be a hero “but only be a sidekick”; and a hero had to be heroic, not a pimply, unpopular kid. Irritated, Goodman asked Lee, “Didn’t [he] realize that people hate spiders?”[​7​] Given the litany of criticisms, Lee recalled, “Martin just wouldn’t let me do the book.”[8]

Realizing that he could not completely circumvent his boss, Lee made the executive decision to put Spider-Man on the cover of a series that had previously bombed, called Amazing Fantasy. Readers didn’t like AF, which featured thriller/fantasy stories by Lee and surreal art by Steve Ditko, Marvel’s go-to artist for styling the macabre, surreal, or Dali-esque. It seemed as if there were already two strikes against the teen wonder.

Despite these odds and his boss’s directive, Lee says that he couldn’t let the nerdy superhero go: “I couldn’t get Spider-Man out of my mind.”[9] He worked up a Spider-Man plot and handed it over to Marvel’s top artist, Jack Kirby. Lee figured that no one would care (or maybe even notice) a new character in the last issue of a series that would soon be discontinued.

With Spider-Man, however, Kirby missed the mark. His early sketches turned the teen bookworm into a mini-Superman with all-American good looks, like a budding astronaut or football star. Lee put Ditko on the title. His style was more suited for drawing an offbeat hero.

Ditko nailed Spider-Man, but not the cover art, forcing Lee to commission Kirby for the task, with Ditko inking. Lee could not have been happier with Ditko. He explained: “Steve did a totally brilliant job of bringing my new little arachnid hero to life.”[10] They finished the two-part story and ran it as the lead in AF #15. Revealing both the busy, all-hands state of the company and their low expectations, Lee recalled, “Then, we more or less forgot about him.”[11] As happy as Lee and Ditko were with the collaboration and outcome, there is no way they could have imagined that they were about to spin the comic book world onto a different axis.

The fateful day sales figures finally arrived. Goodman stormed into Lee’s office, as always awash in art boards, drawings, mockups, yellow legal pads, and memos littering the desk.

Goodman beamed, “Stan, remember that Spider-Man idea of yours that I liked so much? Why don’t we turn it into a series?”[​12]

If that wasn’t enough to knock Lee off-kilter, then came the real kicker: Spider-Man was not just a hit, the issue was in fact the fastest-selling comic book of the year, and maybe that decade. Lee recalls that AF skyrocketed to number one.[13]

The new character would be the keystone of Marvel’s superhero-based lineup. More importantly, the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man transformed Marvel from a company run by imitating trends into a hot commodity. In March 1963, The Amazing Spider-Man #1 burst onto newsstands.

Fans could not get enough of the teen hero, so Lee and Marvel pushed the limits. Spider-Man appeared in Strange Tales Annual #2 (September 1963), a 72-page crossover between him and the Human Torch. And in Tales to Astonish, which had moved from odd, macabre stories to superheroes, Spidey guest-starred in #57 (July 1964), which focused on Giant-Man and Wasp. When The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 appeared in 1964, with Lee dubbing himself and Ditko “the most talked about team in comics today,” it featured appearances by every Marvel hero, including Thor, Dr. Strange, Captain America, and the X-Men.

Spider-Man now stood at the center of a comic book empire. Stan Lee could not have written a better outcome, even if given the chance.

All this from a risky run in a dying comic book!


] Mark Lacter, “Stan Lee Marvel Comics Always Searching for a New Story,” Inc., November 2009, 96.
] Don Thrasher, “Stan Lee’s Secret to Success: A Marvel-ous Imagination,” Dayton Daily News, January 21, 2006, sec. E.
] Quoted in ibid.
] Stan Lee and George Mair, Excelsior! The Amazing Life of Stan Lee (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2002), 126–27.
] Ibid., 126.
] Roy Thomas, “Stan the Man and Roy the Boy: A Conversation between Stan Lee and Roy Thomas,” in Stan Lee Conversations, ed. Jeff McLaughlin (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2007), 141.
] Lee and Mair, Excelsior!, 127.
] Thomas, “Stan the Man,” 141.
] Lee and Mair, Excelsior!, 127.
] Ibid., 128.
] Ibid., 128.
] Ibid., 128.
] Stan Lee, Peter David, and Colleen Doran, Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir (New York: Touchstone, 2015), n.p.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Jasmine Pinales

by Mike Rhode

Jasmine Pinales exhibited at the DC Zinefest and agreed to answer our usual questions afterward. She will be at SPX this fall if you'd like to meet her, and her comics are for sale now on her website. (All images are taken from her website).

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

I write and draw fiction and autobio comics.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

My work is all traditional. I pencil, ink and letter on paper. I've used ink, markers and watercolor for my final pages depending on what best fits a project. I have produced some digital art but it never feels as strong as my traditional art, I don't think it's the best representation of my art. I lay out my comics on computer and do corrections and clean up.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?


Why are you in Washington now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

I live outside of DC in Fairfax County. We moved here when I was 3 and I've been here most of my life. I went to Norfolk for college then returned.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

Most of my comics work is self taught. I spent my childhood reading the WashPo comics section, collected Garfield, Calvin & Hobbes and other strips. In late elementary school I got interested in anime and manga and started copying that while still be interested in  American cartoons and the eventual rise of webcomics on the internet. I've never taken a comics class, I've learned by example and reading all of the backmatter in comics about how pages are made. I've got Eisner's books on comics, and McCloud's which gave me more concrete ideas on how to make better comics. I have a BFA in Studio Art where I focused on comics for my Senior Show, so I have art training.

Who are your influences?

Everything. I really got into Will Eisner's work between The Spirit and his more personal projects after he was done with that. Piet Mondrian is one of my favorite painters, I love Dali and Caravaggio. Yuko Ota and Meredith Gran have some of the best comic timing and gorgeously clean art. Takako Shimura has comics fill of emotional characters and art that has a nice weight to it. So many cartoons, I loved The Weekenders and Recess as a kid. I've pulled visual cues I like from Jen Wang, I really like the was she draws eyes. Craig Thompson's work is gorgeous and made me want to try harder with brushes/brush pens. Internet discussions have made me more confident and inspired to try a broader variety in body types and more diversity, even though plenty of my early characters had variety.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

 All of my past experiences have brought me to where I am now and things would be different if I changed anything. That said, it'd be interesting to see how things could be different if I had gone into college focusing on comics and art and not transferring to comics after a few years in science.

What work are you best-known for?

I don't think I'm known for anything at this moment.

What work are you most proud of?

"How to Make Friends and Captivate People", it's my longest comic to date at 28 pages or so, the printed book has 40 because of an extra story. It was a struggle to produce as I had never tried such a long narrative and I misjudged how long it would take.

What would you like to do  or work on in the future?

 I'd like to continue working on my various stories and characters. I have a female knight and prince story; a group of theater nerd kids; a depressed robot and a myriad of others that I'm sketching out and thinking over slowly. I have a lot of ideas and just need the money and time to focus on them.

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

I'll step away from a project and create differently. Changing media or tools helps to reinvigorate me to focus on the main projects I'm working toward. This year I got into Hamilton and drew a mess of art, sketches and comics and in the past few weeks I've been listening to the audiobook of Jurassic Park and have had a wealth of ideas for mini comics about the first book that have relatively little to do with the movie. Sometimes indulging and receiving media is necessary to get a new spark, you'll see the right turn of phrase and everything starts turning again and you can keep creating. Another thing I've done, in 2013 after college I stopped drawing just to take a break and I felt awful not drawing anything after a few months so I forced myself to do a little sketch before bed.

 Those sketches turned into a sketchbook I have a shows for sale as I worked through being burnt out and getting back into the groove of production. In 2014 I did a daily sketchbook where I tried different ideas in the small spaces I had. These were for me but sharing them was a great experience too as I became more comfortable with what I could do in the space provided and looked up new topics.

What do you think will be the future of your field? 

More independent creators and creator owned work becoming popular and bigger powerhouses in comics shops. Image does an amazing job putting creators first and Fantom Comics in Dupont Circle works so hard to promote creator own material even as they stock DC and Marvel. They're still big in supporting local DMV creators.

What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?

I've attended SPX since 2012 and this is my first year tabling it, I'm excited. It's a lovely show to attend, a large crowd but there's so much positivity and love for comics in everyone attending and tabling it's great. I'll have at least one new book there that weekend that I'm working on. I'm at L7.

BMore Into Comics in Baltimore is a fun little day show. It's tiny -- in a bar -- but as an attendee you would have plenty of time to talk to the local artists who are tabling. An upside to small shows over big shows and some great local creators go there.

The DC Zinefest - I've shown there since 2015, the audience is very enthusiastic. It's great seeing how many female creators there are.

The Richmond Zinefest, I've tabled there two times now, and it's been in different venues both years, but has been going on for a while in its previous venue. The way it was set up in the library felt confusing as a tabler, maybe it was better for someone who knows that library better, but I heard from many people as they stumbled to the room I was in they were surprised there was another room.

Locus Moon in Philly, I showed there in 2015, it was a ton of fun. Great creators and audience. Everyone there was super enthusiastic. I've heard they're focusing more on publishing and I'd like to go to the show again, not sure if it's happening anymore.

Comics Arts Brooklyn - a small show in a church in Brooklyn, NY. Like smaller shows you get a great change to meet and talk to a creator for a while. Attendance has been enthusiastic and it's at a pretty good time of year in November, chilly but not too cold.

What's your favorite thing about DC?

The variety of people and things to do.

Least favorite?

Metro. Also driving around here is a hassle, not always a direct way someplace. I can drive from where I am to Maryland in 30 minutes or to the middle of the city in 45.

What monument or museum do like to take visitors to?

I don't have many visitors, I'd want to show them the [National Gallery of Art's] East and West Galleries though; I'm a big fan of art history.

How about a favorite local restaurant?

Daikaya in Chinatown. Both the upstairs Izakaya and the downstairs ramen bar.

Do you have a website or blog? also

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hang Dai Studios at Baltimore Comic-Con: Dean Haspiel speaks (UPDATED!)

by Mike Rhode

Baltimore Comic-Con is one of the best and friendliest of the mid-size superhero focused cons. Under the leadership of Marc Nathan and Brad Tree, it's grown quite a bit in a decade and a half, but still remains enjoyable for all ages and interests. Hang Dai Studios is based in Brooklyn, but as usual will have a big presence at Baltimore. My friend Dean Haspiel (and Hang Dai Studios founder) will be there with the whole studio, a week after he, Christa Cassano and Gregory Benton attended the Small Press Expo. We hope to have interviews with everyone in the studio throughout the week. Our fifth interview is with Dean Haspiel.

Where did "Hang Dai" come from? 

 "Hang Dai" was derived from HBO's "Deadwood." Whenever Al Swearengen and Mr. Wu would curse their way through a private deal and come to an agreement, Wu would cross his fingers and say "Hang Dai." Or, something that sounded like that and which meant "Brotherhood." Or, as my studio mate Christa Cassano likes to say, "Sisterhood."

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

I hopscotch between superhero and memoir and psychedelic romance comix. My recent effort is called Beef With Tomato, co-published by Alternative Comics and Hang Dai Editions. It's about my escape from Manhattan to Brooklyn.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

Blue pencil, occasional brush pen and Micron pens + digital shading/coloring.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

1967. New York Hospital.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

The comic book rack on the newsstand at the corner of 79th street and Broadway in NYC was my comix kindergarten. Later on I discovered a steady flow of pop art pulp treasures at West Side Comics, opened a weekly account at Funny Business, and discovered American Splendor and Yummy Fur at Soho Zat. After that, any inklings of pursuing a normal life went out the window when dreams of drawing comix for a living took over and held my sway. I never learned how to draw comix in school because school didn't teach comix. School shunned comix. Comix taught me how to make comix. And, I'm still learning how, one panel at a time.

Who are your influences?

Ron Wilson, Jim Aparo, Jack Kirby, C.C. Beck, John Byrne, Steve Ditko, Alex Toth, Will Eisner, Frank Robbins, Jim Starlin, Michael Golden, Howard Chaykin, Walter Simonson, Bill Sienkiewicz, Mike Zeck, Frank Miller, Katsuhiro Otomo, John Romita Jr., Frank Quitely, Goran Parlov, Darwyn Cooke, Marcos Martin, Chris Samnee, Gregory Benton, Josh Bayer, Stan Lee, Warren Ellis, Jason Aaron, Brian K Vaughan, Joe R. Lansdale, Jonathan Ames, Mickey Spillane, and Richard S. Prather.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

The Thing: Night Falls On Yancy Street. I wasn't ready. I would ask to change the dark ending, too, so me and Evan Dorkin could make it Marvel canon rather than Marvel folklore.

What work are you best-known for?

I believe I'm best known for my collaboration with Harvey Pekar on The Quitter. Possibly, the ten-issues of The Fox I recently co-wrote and drew for Archie Comics. Maybe, some Billy Dogma.

What work are you most proud of?

Billy Dogma in Fear, My Dear. And, Heart-Shaped Hole.

What would you like to do or work on in the future?

I aim to focus on creator-owned comix but, given the opportunity, I'd like to write and draw The Fantastic Four, Captain Marvel (Shazam), O.M.A.C., Deathlok, and bring back Marvel Two-In-One, featuring The Thing. I also have a great Batman & Superman story that features cameos of the JLA, done in the spirit of a cross between Sullivan's Travels and On The Road.

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

Wash dishes. Work on something wholly different. Mix it up. Your mind is always working. Let it work by letting it relax and think different.

What do you think will be the future of your field? 

Patronized digital comix produced one panel at a time; published one per day, delivered directly to your phone, and story arcs get collected into print (if necessary).\

Why are you at the Baltimore Comic-Con this year?

Baltimore Comic-Con is my favorite show, bar none. A perfect combo of rookie and veteran cartoonists among old and new comic books and just the right amount of cosplay. I've also been a regular guest for almost 15 years.

What other cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, or others? Any comments about attending them?

Besides BCC, I usually attend SPX, NYCC, MoCCA, CAB, and Locust Moon Comics Festival. I was a guest of Wizard World six times this year. They treat me very well.

What's your favorite thing about Baltimore?

Marc Nathan and Brad Tree.

Least favorite?

I've yet to encounter anything in Baltimore to make me dislike its innate charm.

What monument or museum do like to take visitors to?


One day I plan to stay an extra day or two so I can personally visit Baltimore's culture.

How about a favorite local restaurant?


Out of pure proximity and laziness, I tend to grab dinner at the M&S Grill on E Pratt Street and soak in the Inner Harbor sights.

Do you have a website or blog?

Monday, June 10, 2013

PR: Congressman John Lewis wows BookExpo crowds with MARCH: BOOK ONE!

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Congressman John Lewis wows BookExpo crowds with MARCH: BOOK ONE!

BookExpo America, held a week ago in New York, is the American book industry's biggest
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March: Book One! And judging from the reaction, we're off to a fantastic start.

Rep. Lewis and Andrew Aydin first turned heads with an "early bird" booth appearance on
Friday, welcoming a continuous line of fans to get their free 24-page MARCH excerpt
booklets signed, before rushing off to the Huffington Post studio for a live interview on HuffPost Live! This feature, hosted by rising star Alicia Menendez, featured insightful questions from
both Menendez and viewers at home, as Lewis and Aydin expressed their hope that MARCH
could pass on the lessons and tools of the 1960s to young activists fighting for equality today.
 Watch it now!

Then came the big day: Saturday! It began with perhaps BEA's flagship event, the Author Breakfast, featuring host Chris Matthews together with Helen Fielding (Bridget Jones), Congressman Lewis, and Diana Gabaldon (Outlander).  Rep. Lewis kept the crowd of 1,000
 industry pros spellbound, alternating between stories of his rural childhood, memories of the
 civil rights movement, and passionate calls to action. After another short video interview, we were off to another stage for the "Road to a Bestseller" panel featuring Rep. Lewis and acclaimed debut novelist Jason Mott (The Returned) -- two generations of African-American authors
with huge books this year.

At last, we came to the official signing -- this one with a line stretching "down the block"! (P.S. Did we mention a camera crew from Bill Moyers & Company had been following us since breakfast?) After two straight hours (and a few drained markers), it was time to call it a day.
Andrew and Rep. Lewis said goodbye to BEA, exhausted but energized... Just in time to see the starred review in Booklist, the official review journal of the American Library Association,
calling March "a grand work," and see it featured in the Washington Post's "Summer Reading 
List: Eight Books to Make You Smarter"!

Thanks to everyone who came out to see us, to the BEA staff for making it happen, and to the March co-authors for their generosity and stamina... See you next time (ALA in Chicago June 29, Comic-Con in San Diego July 20-21, and beyond)!

March (Book One), a deluxe softcover graphic novel with french flaps and black & white interiors, 6.5" x 9.5", 128 pages
-- ISBN 978-1-60309-300-2
-- $14.95 US
-- Release Date: August 13, 2013.
For more information and a 14-page preview, visit
Top Shelf Products
Your friend thru comics,
Chris Staros
Top Shelf Productions
PO Box 1282
Marietta GA 30061-1282

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

May 4: Alison Bechdel at Politics and Prose

Alison Bechdel - Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama

May 4 2012 7:00 pm

In her acclaimed graphic memoir, Fun Home, Bechdel focused on her father, his secret life, and his death. Now she turns to her talented, emotionally repressed mother, exploring the family psychology and the tentative mother-daughter truce the two achieved via D.W. Winnicott , Dr. Seuss, and Bechdel’s own vivid memories.

5015 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, District Of Columbia
I'm planning on being there - Fun Home was a great book.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Meet a Local Cartoonist: Monica H. or "MonMon"

101_1978 Monica HI met Monica Horn, who draws as Monica H. or "MonMon" at last fall's Intervention con. Here’s her interview:

Mike Rhode: What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

Monica H: I run a webcomic called Ocean Tides which is on It is a ghostly romance drama about a girl name Lily who Lily meets a spirit named Alex. She has to help Alex realize what’s happening around him and wonder why he hasn't crossed over yet. I update every Friday unless stated otherwise.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?
It is a combination of both. Along with my laptop, the materials and programs I use are computer paper, cardstock, Black Faber-Castell ink pens (SX, S, M, B, and F), Prismacolor markers, lightbox, HP scanner, my tablet and Photoshop. I start out sketching a thumbnail based off of the script I wrote for the chapter. Then a larger sketch, I ink using my lightbox. Scan, clean it up and tone in Photoshop.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

I was born 1986 in Monterey, California.

Why are you in Washington now? What neighborhood or area do you live in?

I moved out here because of my job as a graphic/web designer. I currently reside in Northern Virginia.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

I majored in graphic design and minored in illustration. I have been drawing every since I was little, and inspired by many different Artists. I am a graphic/web designer by day and a webcomic artist by night.

Who are your influences?

Walking in the artist alleys at conventions sure does inspire me at times but I have to say many other webcomic artists, Illustrators, my friends, my family and of course my fans of my comic.

If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

I wouldn't change anything about my career, though I am always willing to learn new things and learn ways to improve my work.

What work are you best-known for?

I guess my webcomic Ocean Tides, or my watercolor paintings. If you asked me this 5 years ago I would say my fan art for different anime shows, but I felt that I need to improve my own work and find my own style.

What work are you most proud of?

Since I only have one webcomic at the moment and I can say that I am proud of Ocean Tides, my style has changed in the past three years. I can say I am proud of trying to find my own style as well with in those three years.

What would you like to do or work on in the future?

I hope to complete Ocean Tides and start working on a new webcomic that I am currently scripting.

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

I sketch or doodle anything, whether it be characters from my webcomic or just characters from a show and book. I just keep at it until something sparks my interest. I also paint -- painting is also a great stress relief.

What do you think will be the future of your field?

I plan on trying to get my work out there for others to enjoy and by the end of day to know that I am placing something out there for others to enjoy, I am happy.

What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?

Intervention Con 2011 was my first con that I attended as a artist and I have to say I have had a lot of fun, I learned a lot from the other artists in the artist alley. As for other cons I do go to Otakon as a attendee, I always enjoy going.

What's your favorite thing about DC?

I enjoy the Cherry Blossom Festival and the 4th of July Fireworks

Least favorite?

The traffic, I can live without it. Haha.

What monument or museum do you like to take visitors to?

I enjoy the National Gallery of Art, but I haven't been to any monuments recently.

How about a favorite local restaurant?

I enjoy the Hamburger Hamlet in Crystal City, they make a great rueben sandwich and the sweet potato fires.

Do you have a website or blog?

My blog is  and my webcomic for Ocean Tides is

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Check out John Kinhart's Sorry Comics

John Kinhart kindly pointed out the State Depts' Gene Yang video, so I followed his link to his webcomics site, Sorry Comics. I've just quickly read his first 4 autobiographical strips and he's got some good work there. Check it out. I'll put up a link on the side for future use.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

OT: David Lozell Martin's new book

My friend David Martin has a new book out, and it's reviewed by the New York Times.

By David Lozell Martin
201 pages. Simon & Schuster. $24.

David's a better writer than the Times reviewer credits him as, but I can't imagine this book was easy to write. I've only read his fiction, and I'm both looking forward to, and dreading this autobiography. I'd recommend David's books, especially Crazy Love and Pelikan, and be sure to search by his middle name as you'll get relevant results.