Showing posts with label fantasy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fantasy. Show all posts

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Jeffrey Thompson illustrations in a new fantasy novel

I was reading The City of Lost Fortunes by Bryan Camp, a fantasy novel about magicians and luck gods in New Orleans this week, and thinking something looked familiar about the interior illustrations.

It turns out that they're done by Jeffrey Thompson, of Baltimore. For many years, Jeff was the Wednesday staff at Big Planet Comics Bethesda and I've followed his illustration career for years. It was a good feeling to see these illustrations in a brand new book. I didn't photograph them all, but the Tarot Card concept is integral to the plot.

I enjoyed the book quite a bit, and I've seen it compared online to American Gods which seems reasonable. I'd recommend it.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Interview with Greg Pak (Incredible Hulk, Kingsway West, Eternal Warrior)

by Mike Favila (Guest Writer / Senior Editor)

My neighbor (and Editor-In-Chief) Mike Rhode is taking his daughter off to college for the first time, so I'm taking a second away from my duties at to interview writer Greg Pak for ComicsDC.

If you're not familiar with Greg Pak's work,chances are you probably just haven't been reading the credits that tightly.  I've mostly recently read his stuff for the relaunch of Eternal Warrior through Valiant Comics, but he's the man responsible for the awesomely out there World War Hulk storyline.  I didn't know this until I read his Wiki, but he also created Amadeus Cho.  Not too shabby.

Thanks for taking the time to chat.  Here's a few questions to start with:

What was the genesis for Kingsway West?  Obviously there's been different pieces of fiction relating to the Chinese people in a Western setting, but the fantasy elements are way more pronounced than anything I've read before.  

I first started thinking about about telling a story with a Chinese gunslinger in the Old West over twenty years ago. I grew up in Texas and loved Westerns, and when I learned about the real history of Chinese immigrants in the Old West, I just couldn't stop thinking about it. So this was my dream project when I started film school in the '90s. And after I started writing comics, I worked on different comic book versions of the story, doing a couple of short stories for the OUTLAW TERRITORY anthology with artists Ian Kim and Sean Chen. But I always wanted to do a longer version of the story, and eventually started talking with editor Jim Gibbons at Dark Horse. Jim loved the characters and story I pitched, but asked if there was something more I could bring to the story to push it over the top. And I thought about it for a while, and found myself thinking about fantasy and magic. I'd loved Lord of the Rings and Dungeons and Dragons when I was growing up for some of the same reasons I'd loved Westerns -- that kind of big, epic, outdoor adventure is part of both genres. And the more I worked on it, the more it made sense to merge those genres in a story about a Chinese gunslinger searching for his wife in an Old West overrun with magic.

How did you get together with Mirko Colak?

Mirko and I worked together on Marvel's RED SKULL INCARNATE and Dynamite's TUROK, both books that involved realistic, historically based material. I knew he'd absolutely kill on a Western. He's been tremendous. And I should add that colorist Wil Quintana and letterer Simon Bowland are doing amazing work on the book as well. I'm so lucky and happy!

How did you end up publishing at Dark Horse?

If I'm remembering correctly, I think Mirko had met Jim somehow and made the introduction. As soon as I started talking with Jim, I knew I wanted to do the book there. Jim asked all the right questions to push me to make the book better. Jim since left the company to work for Stela, but Spencer Cushing has taken over as editor and Spencer's been fantastic -- just a tremendous sounding board and advocate and hustler to keep the book on time and make it as good as it can be.

How much of the arc do you have planned out?

I've written all four issues of the miniseries. I've got my fingers mightily crossed -- if the numbers are good enough, we may be able to do a second volume. So if anyone reading is interested, please do ask your local comics shop to order the books for you, or go to and pre-order there!

I loved the relaunch of Eternal Warrior, and was impressed with your take on it.  Were you a fan of original Valiant comics?  How did you get involved?

Thanks so much for the kind words! I actually didn't read many of the original Valiant comics -- they came out during a window in time when I wasn't buying a ton of monthlies. But I always loved the concepts. I got pulled on board ETERNAL WARRIOR by editor Warren Simons, with whom I'd done MAGNETO TESTAMENT over at Marvel. I loved working with Warren and was thrilled to have a shot at working with him again. And the Eternal Warrior character was up my alley -- again, as a fan of outdoor adventure and fantasy. I'm particularly proud of the second arc we did on that series, drawn by Robert Gill, in which we jumped a couple of thousand years into the future. Had a huge amount of fun with the worldbuilding there, and I loved the emotional story between Gilad and his granddaughter.

Did you have to coordinate with the other titles launching for Valiant, or did Warren provide a lot of the parameters?

I definitely read the other issues that had referenced Gilad before I started. And Warren definitely kept it on track continuity-wise. He had a great eye on the big picture all the time -- he's just done a tremendous job herding all those books.

As a Filipino, I've always been drawn to the names of the Asian creators (like Whilce Portacio or Frank Cho) that have been on the credits of the comics I read growing up.  It seems like seeing realistic Asian characters portrayed on the page(such as the Amadeus Cho Hulk) is the natural next step.  Do you feel that this is just a reflection of society today, or did that require a concerted effort on the part of comic companies/creators?

I've been writing comics for over twelve years now, and from the beginning, my editors have always supported my working diverse characters into the casts of my books. My very first published comic was the WARLOCK mini in 2004, which starred an Asian American woman named Janie Chin. And artist Takeshi Miyazawa and I created Amadeus Cho eleven years ago, and I was able to write him as a supporting character in the Hulk books and eventually as the co-star of the INCREDIBLE HERCULES series, co-written with Fred Van Lente, for over four years. And over the years I also created S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Jake Oh and used Suzie Endo in the SILVER SURFER book and created a half-Japanese alternative-world Namor in X-TREME X-MEN and used Sharon (played by Grace Park in the television series) as the central character in the second half of my BATTLESTAR GALACTICA series and wrote a bunch of book starring other people of color. So in my experience, working with the awesome editors I've had over the years, the door has always been open -- I just had to walk through it.

But I also think we're living at a time when more and more people are aware that audiences want more diverse casts and more and more creators of different backgrounds are breaking in and blowing up in all kinds of great ways, which is great. Fifteen years ago, when I was speaking at film festivals with my films, I used to say that in fifteen years the changing demographics of the country would make it a no-brainer to make media with diverse casts. We're in the middle of businesses waking up to that right now, and it's very exciting.

Less related, but also curious: How are you involved with Fresh Off The Boat?  I saw something on your Wiki, but I had no clue that you had a hand in the show.

Oh, I love the show, but I'm not at all involved in its creation or production. I was a lucky participant on a panel discussion about it when it premiered. I'm thrilled it's done so well -- it's time, huh?

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

Monday, September 21, 2015

Chatting with Scott Reichert about Indigo Comics

by Mike Rhode

Donna Lewis, the DC-area cartoonist behind the Reply All comic strip who suggested that our readers might be interest in the work of a fledgling company partially-based in nearby Baltimore. Since the Baltimore Comic-Con is coming up in a few days, we chatted with writer Scott Reichert about the company's first comic book which will be available at the show.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?  

My brother, Robert, and I operate a digital publishing studio called Indigo Comics and recently released our first full length book. We do superhero type stuff in the Marvel/DC tradition. Our main book, Zachariah Thorn is a macabre horror/mystery steeped in the occult.

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

We are children of the 80's.

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

 I live on the southwest outskirts of the city in a neighborhood called Violetville.  My brother, Robert, has been based in southern California, near Los Angeles, for the past 8 years.

How do you do your comic?  As the writer, do you do thumbnails, or a full script before passing it along to the artist? And then is the art done in traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?
So the original concept for Zachariah Thorn was to do a story about a teenager who gains magical powers but who's powers change from issue to issue to, hopefully, comedic effect. The more I worked on the idea the more the task of changing the powers from issue to issue became more of a chore in my brain. Then a few years ago, around the time I posted on digital webbing and found our artist, I was feeling down about not having been doing enough work on creative projects so I told myself I need to power through a finish one project all the way to the end.

Zachariah Thorn was the most manageable story idea I had as far as the world and basic mythology were concerned. So, I abandoned the idea of the main character having a revolving door of powers and decided to set the first issue 10 years after he gained his power. That allowed me to just jump in without worrying about going through the origin, and instead pepper in clues about his origin through flashbacks and dream sequences. There are a lot of themes that I hope to explore should we have the opportunity to keep making more books. The main character is constantly at odds with himself and his struggle in dealing with his dark powers would be used as a metaphor for depression and mental illness.

As far as the nuts an bolts of my process, I like to use process flow mapping software like Visio to map the key moments in the story. Once I have those thoughts organized chronologically, I begin filling the spaces in between while scripting. I write my script up just like a film screenplay. I "cast" all of the characters in the story and send the artist pictures of the actors I would use if I were casting a movie or TV version of my book. Lastly, if I have a specific ideas in my head of how something should look, I will do a google image search and paste the image inside the script for the artist to use as reference.

Our artist Bonkz Seriosa then works with pencils and boards. He sends us the hi-res jpegs that my brother, Robert, digitally inks and colors. We have a technique to get an inked look by adjusting the value levels of the pencils, and then retouching the result.

Where did you find Bonkz?

A few years ago, after several kind of starts and stops to the comic making process, I decided I was going to press on with my goal of creating something and seeing it through to fruition. My brother Robert does a lot of work in the industry and suggested I try posting a paid job offer to I received dozens upon dozens of submissions but Bonkz's work really resonated with my tastes. I have been working with him on this project on and off for a few years now and he is a delightful fellow who is always enthusiastic and engage with the work we are doing.
Bonkz is from the Phillipines. His real first name is Jergen, but he likes to be called Bonkz and he signs his artwork that way as well. If you look closely at the last page of our book he cleverly put his name on the tombstone in the foreground as his way of signing the art.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?  

Robert is a graduate of the design program at California State University and has been illustrating since he was a child. I do not have a single artistic bone in my body.

Who are your influences?  

Joss Whedon, Robert Kirkman, and Brian K. Vaughn when it comes to writing. I've also always been a big fan of Terry Dodson, Tony Moore, John Cassaday, Ryan Ottley, and Frank Quitely to name a few artists.

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

I would have pursued a degree is creative writing so I could sound as accomplished as all the wonderful people who have collaborated with me and helped bring this project to life! 
What work are you best-known for?  

Hopefully for Zachariah Thorn!

What work are you most proud of?  

Zachariah Thorn#1 for sure as it is our first full length release and represents several years of work finally coming to fruition. 

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

My dream would be to build enough of an audience to simply offset the costs of creating more original books. Anything beyond that is gravy.

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

When I have writer's block I usually take a step back from what it is I am working on for a day or two and revisit it when I am fresh. I also find it helps to move over to other projects and give them some attention for a bit.

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

Interactive/motion comics. I think if you look at what Madefire is doing you will see the future of comic books (at least in the style that we are creating). They are so immersive. I truly believe something is going to come along like The Walking Dead that is going to be a big hit in popular culture that will launch interactive/motion comics as the new standard.
by Mike Rhode

What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo or others? Any comments about attending them?  
We will presenting at this years Baltimore Comic Con (September 25th, 26th, & 27th), Artist Alley Booth #A53. We are really excited. This is our first time actually presenting so we aren't sure what to expect! We plan to have printed copies of Zachariah Thorn #1, some posters, stickers, wristbands, and postcards. We may have gone a little overboard on the schwag!

What's your favorite thing about Baltimore?  
Seeing a ballgame at Camden Yards and karaoke at the Hippo before it closed.

Least favorite?  
Aside from some of the more painful realities that plague Baltimore (they are way to heavy for someone as dumb as me to speak on) I would have to say the severe lack of parking.

What monument or museum do like to take visitors to? 
The Walters Art Museum for sure and Camden Yards!

How about a favorite local restaurant? 
Los Portales, best Tex Mex in the area!

Do you have a website or blog?  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Meet a Local Cartoonist: Garth Graham

 Garth Graham was at last fall's Intervention con and answered my usual questions.

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

Garth Graham: I'm a webcomic artist. Right now I'm working on an urban fantasy, before that a slice-of-life comedy strip, next up who knows! Something in space maybe.

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

I used to pencil and ink by hand, but these days I do everything digitally. I use a Wacom Cintiq, do my line art in Corel Painter and all of my color work in Photoshop.

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

I was born in '83. I'll leave you to guess which century.

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

Actually I live in Virginia, down in Stafford. I came here when my parents moved here and haven't found a particularly compelling reason to move away yet. The greater DC area is very centrally located to a lot of the conventions I go too, and there's quite the wealth of comic artists in the area.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

I don't have any formal training in cartooning. I went to Virginia Tech to get my degree in Industrial Design, which overlaps a surprising amount with what I do. But the art and the story telling and all the comic-specific skills are things I've worked at and built up on my own over time.

Who are your influences?

Probably too many to list, but chiefly among them reside Mark Silvestri, Phil Foglio, J Scott Campbell, Neil Gaiman, Jim Butcher, Simon R. Green, Douglas Adams, Robert A. Heinlein, Peter F. Hamilton and many many others.

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

That's a hard question. I don't really know if I'd change anything. Hindsight says I might have been better off if I had timed some things differently (launching new titles right as the housing market crumbles for instance), but there isn't really a moment that I wish I could go back to and re-do.

What work are you best-known for?

I am probably best known for my series of twisted faerie tale art prints.

What work are you most proud of?

Whatever is most recent. Every new page, every new print. Each piece I feel is better than the last, and that's what I'm most proud of.

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

In the future I'm hoping to work on some more sci-fi kinds of stuff. Science fiction is what I grew up on, and while a lot of people consider me a steampunk artist, sci-fi is still my go to source for awesome and wonder.

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

I go do something else. Anything else. I boot up the xbox, I go for a jog, or go to the gym to do some rockclimbing. Something that works a different part of my brain, or no part at all. I let my subconscious churn it over for a bit and it always comes back to me with a solution.

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

I think, given time, all comics will be webcomics. They'll be in print too, absolutely, but the first point of distribution will be digital, will be on the web. I think this will allow for a real surge of independent (i.e. not Marvel or DC) comics into the public eye. The Marvel and DC universes won't be the entirety of what make up American comics in the minds of the general populace. It's going to be a wild trip.

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

Local to DC, I attend Intervention and Katsucon regularly. AnimeUSA is another local con I've been to in the past. I'm hoping to get into SPX next year.

What's your favorite thing about DC?

Let's be honest, there's a LOT of cool stuff going on in DC. Not just history and politics and the center of power of what is arguably still the most powerful nation on the planet, but there's enough social life going on that no matter what your interest or inclination you can find it happening somewhere and join in the party.

Least favorite?

The traffic.

What monument or museum do like to take visitors to?

I've a long standing love of the Smithsonian Air and Space museum, both the one in DC and the big one out by Dulles.

How about a favorite local restaurant?
While not technically in DC proper, I'm a big fan of Piratz Tavern in Silver Spring. Great atmosphere, great food, wenches, sea shanties, fire shows, and belly dancing. What more could you want?

Do you have a website or blog?

Several, in fact! My most actively updated website is, of course, my current comic Finder's Keepers which can be found at . My former site is