For anyone in the pacific NW this weekend, we’ll be exhibiting at the Jet City Comic Show at the Tacoma Convention Center this Saturday, Nov 2. It’s a really good show that just made the move from Seattle to Tacoma for this year. There haven’t been a lot of shows in the Tacoma area, so hopefully it’ll bring in a new crowd that don’t always make it up to Seattle. We’ll be in Artist Alley at table C-08. See you there.
Wow, NYCC ’13 was quite a show. Not that I was expecting anything less (I’d exhibited there before), but still, four straight days of being in an absolutely packed convention center with all that stuff going on… well, my head’s still spinning.
And this year’s show meant a little more to me because it marked my first return to New York City since Wendy and I moved our family out to Portland, Oregon in June of 2012. We planned a 2 week trip because my sister was kind enough to have her wedding the weekend before NYCC (just a coincidence). This meant that we had exactly 3 days after the wedding to visit with family and friends before setting up for the convention on Thursday. Thankfully, my good friend and AWBW editor, Justin Zimmerman made the trip out from Portland as well. He was staying with his friend, Jesse, and the two of them helped me unload all of our material (tables, chairs, banners, books) onto the show floor and set up the booth. I don’t know how I would have managed to set it all up without them.
And then the show began! Preview night on Thursday was relatively calm, but the crowds only increased from there and never let up until the end of the day on Sunday. For me, it was a mix of running into people I hadn’t seen in a while and getting to introduce myself to people I hadn’t meet yet. I swung by a few other booths to pick up some new releases as well as grabbing some of the swag from Kickstarter projects I had backed. This included Violator Union by Shawna Mills, Rocket Girl by Amy Reeder, and Molly Danger by Jamal Igle.
Oh, and for some reason, I spent some of my time on Friday taking Justin’s Youngblood hardcover across the entire convention floor, photographing evidence of it along the way before reaching the end of its journey with a signature from Rob Liefeld. Kind of random, but you can check out the photo set here.
The vast majority of time I spent behind the A Wave Blue World booth. This was actually a bit of a relief as the show floor got so packed it was unpleasant to be out there. Even from behind the booth there were times I just had to wait out the crowds of cosplayers and non-comic fans rushing through. We did manage to extract a good amount of genuine comic fans though. Sales were really good and I love the moment when a new reader discovers our work and tells me this was just the type of thing he/she had been looking for, or that they wish there was more stuff like this in comics. I’ll keep working at it, I promise.
I especially enjoy seeing the varied demographic that buys the American Terrorist graphic novel. A number of military and ex-military personnel bought it, as well as the “anti-establishment” and Occupy types. I wonder if they know they’re reading the same graphic novel?
I also got a chance to “pay it forward” when group of Kubert students (Kubies) stopped by the booth to say “hi” and get their portfolios reviewed. This included 2013 A Wave Blue World scholarship winner, Aysegül Sinav, as well as 2012 winner, Ernesto Sin. I was incredibly impressed with their work. They’ve both gotten so much better and can’t wait to see where they take things from here.
This praise goes for their classmates as well. I did my best to give critiques and offer as many pro tips as I could. The quality of artwork from these current students is really high. I’m glad to see my former school doing so well. The instructors there really know what they’re doing and these students are making the most out of their talent and learning the skills they need to make it as a professional artist in this industry.
Some of the students even mentioned that they’d prefer to work on creator-owned projects when they got out of school. I was glad to hear that. It’s a tough road, but I think things are improving and if we can continue to get more talented creators moving in that direction and pulling together, the future will be very bright indeed.
This week we celebrate the release of the Other Worlds anthology by interviewing the uniquely talented Tym Godek about his work on OW, his 35+ foot long comic, and his upcoming comic which is “not a comic.”
TYM: I live in mid Ohio with my wife and two kids. I’ve always drawn comics, but I kind of aggressively maintain an amateur status in “the field’” as it were. I’m especially drawn towards exploring formal properties rather than genre or character or even story driven work. I like to figure out what makes comics tick. I’ve also become increasingly interested in how comics can kind of cross over into other fields, literature, poetry, gallery art, etc… I like to see comics playing in fields that traditionally belong to other “high” arts. If that sounds too dry and pretentious, I also still make fart jokes from time to time.
AWBW: Well, fart jokes aside, one of the more impressive comics you’ve ever made is the 35+ foot long comic strip titles “!”. This has been called the longest commercially available comic strip in the world due to the fact that not only does it extend to longer than 35 feet, but because you design it, it can also be folded up and flipped through like a standard-sized book.
How did you come up with the idea to do a book like this and what was your process in creating it?
With less than a week to go until the digital release of the Other Worlds anthology on ComiXology (Sept 18), we sit down with artist Matt Grisby to talk about his time working on OW and the many exciting projects he has coming up.
MATT: I think from an early age I always knew I wanted to do something artistic. My Dad used to run a construction business and I would always sit in the office and draw on reams of continuous paper with crayons and pencils, so I think the art gene has always been there. As I got older I started realizing how much I wanted to be a Marine Biologist, but that changed quickly when I realized it was mostly just testing PH levels of ocean water and not doing anything super fun or glamorous. In high school, my love of superheroes came rushing back in to my life, and I knew I had to get in to comics again. As a kid you mostly just looked at the drawings, but as I grew up and started maturing the stories became a big deal too. My best friends Stephanie and Jake told me about this comic shop up by Portland Community College (Sylvania) and we used to sneak away on our lunch breaks Junior and Senior year and go buy comics off of the dollar rack. There was a sweet woman who worked there named Karen, and she eventually left to open her own shop, Karen’s Comics, where I worked for 5+ years as the Wednesday morning shipment receiver. It wasn’t necessarily artistic, but Karen gave me the opportunity to study the retail side of comics for many years while I worked on comics projects. It was awesome.
It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to describe Mike Lawrence as the most instrumental artist on the upcoming Other Worlds anthology. Not only did he provided the cover art for the collection, but he drew 3 of the interior stories. With the anthology now complete, Mike sets his sites on his latest project, Muddy Max, a “middle grade” graphic novel due out in Fall 2014 from AMP! Comics. Find out more in this week’s interview.
Mike: I always wanted to be an illustrator of some sort, I studied printmaking in college because I wanted to illustrated books. Turns out, book illustration is REALLY rare these days. So, after rediscovering comics after a Sandman binge I turned to comics to tell stories visually.
AWBW: What were the first comics you ever read and/or which ones were the most influential to you growing up and becoming a creator yourself?
Mike: I can’t remember the first comic I read, but my best guess would be Spidey or the X-Men. I got to buy comics once a year as a kid before we went on our annual camping trip, and I have fond memories of reading & rereading my Marvel comics. As for biggest influence, I’d say I look to Scottie Young, Jeff Smith, and Frank Quitley for art. Gaiman, Moore (Alan and Terry), Ellis, and Snyder for writing that I wish I could do.
Besides providing artwork for the Madrugada story in the upcoming Other Worlds anthology, Terry Blas has created his own webcomic, Briar Hollow, completed a guest run on PVP, drawn a cover for Adventure Time, and produced his own podcast. Find out more in this week’s “in-house” interview.
AWBW: Tell us a little bit about your background? Did you always want to get into comic art, or did you start out in another field?
Terry: I wanted to be an animator when I was a kid. I always loved telling stories and when I realized comics were the best way for me to get across what I wanted it all made sense. Comics became everything for me.
AWBW: What was it like working with Justin Zimmerman on these stories, and did you find it to be different than the other comic projects you’ve worked on?
Terry: I came to Other Worlds after Justin Zimmerman asked me to draw a story. Working with him was fantastic. He came to me with a great story and a clear script and was a collaborative approach.
In this week’s “in-house” interview leading up to the release of the Other Worlds anthology, we speak with artist, Russell Brown.
Russ: I’m a part-time freelance artist working in Emmett, Idaho. I’d been living and working in the Seattle area for ten or eleven years, and had relocated recently to be closer to my two daughters, who live just outside of Boise.
AWBW: And how about your art training? Did you always want to get into comics, or did you start out in another field?
I’d graduated from the Animation Art & Design program from the Art Institute of Seattle in 2003 and had been doing quite a lot of animation pre-production designs and storyboards.
I’d never regularly drawn comics art, but had been watching the emergence of guys like Jim Lee, Mark Silvestri and Jae Lee through the early Image Comics days. Honestly, I’d never really considering doing comics regularly until I was approached by Justin Zimmerman with the possibility of working on The Killing Jar.
In the first of a series of “in-house” interviews leading up to the release of the Other Worlds anthology, A Wave Blue World chats with Justin Zimmerman, creator and writer of the title.
Justin is a nationally recognized writer, filmmaker and professor. He has taught in multiple colleges and programs and his production company, Bricker-Down Productions®, has been the recipient of many grants, film festival honors and awards.
AWBW: Your background is mostly in filmmaking, an area in which you’re still very much involved. Tell us a little bit about how you first started to transition into comics and why?
JZ: My MFA is in Film, and I’ve been heavily invested in filmmaking for as long as I can remember, it’s true. But even that’s been incredibly diverse. From socially-oriented docs to narrative indies, from corporate work like teaching at four colleges and shooting for fortune 500 companies like Getty Images and Cisco Systems to writing a feature-length Stephen King adaptation, I’ve always tried to stay as malleable as possible with my creativity. Basically, I get bored easily…and I love to work. And I’ve always been fascinated by the scope, scale and autonomy of independent comics. So I decided to make some. Fortunately for me, I landed in the independent comic capital of the country, purely by luck, and was able to jump in with both feet. You can see a lot of this stuff on my website, www.brickerdown.com
Other Worlds, the sci-fi/horror/experimental anthology from the mind of award-winning filmmaker and comic writer Justin Zimmerman,Other Worlds features the art of some of comicdom’s most unique up-and-coming talents, like Mike Lawrence, Grace Allison, Tym Godek, Russ Brown and many more. Enter the world of the unknown, with eleven stories filled with giant robot librarians, sentient bugs and even a young girl with a rocket backpack. Other Worlds - which GiantFireBreathingRobot.com calls “Ingenious” – will captivate your imagination and rekindle your sense of wonder.
Poison the Cure, the comic series Pulitzer Prize winning author, Junot Diaz, calls “cruel,” “hilarious,” “stunning,” and “beautiful” is now being released digitally by A Wave Blue World. Issue #1 is now free on the ComiXology platform and here on the AWBW site, with subsequent issues releasing monthly on ComiXology beginning with the issue #2 on May 8. The video trailer for the series can be seen on the AWBW site as well.