Category Archives: Interviews

We Talk Princeless: The Pirate Princess with Jeremy Whitley, Rosy Higgins, and Ted Brandt

PL_V3_1_SMALLPrincess Adrienne is back! This time Adrienne and Bedelia have found another young princess locked away in a tower and decided to rescue her. But Princess Raven is more than meets the eye and Adrienne may have finally met her match.

After a bit of a break writer Jeremy Whitley returns with a new volume of Princeless adventures, Princeless: The Pirate Princess! Joining Jeremy is a new artistic team, Rosy Higgins and Ted Brandt.

The new adventure is in the latest issue of Previews out this week, so you can make sure to pre-order it for its January release. Until then, we chatted with Jeremy, Rosy, and Ted, about the new series, what we can expect, and the new art team.

Graphic Policy: It’s been a bit since we last saw Princeless. How long has this latest volume been in the works?

Jeremy Whitley: This volume has been in the works in one for or another since May of 2013. I wrote a portion of issue 1 for our Free Comic Book Day issue. Originally that was all I had planned, but when I got to the end of the story I discovered I had a lot more to say about Raven. So we put together this volume, which is all about the adventure Adrienne and Raven have together.

GP: The comic is just hitting Previews now. How long is this volume supposed to go for? How is it broken up?

JW: This volume is another four-issue story, just like the first two volumes of Princeless. It will run in January, February, March, and April. Hopefully the trade will be out shortly after this. Much like the first volume, the first two issue work separately and the last two issue tell one piece of the story together. When you put it all together you get a full story.

GP: In this new volume you introduce Princess Raven bringing our heroines from two to three. Did you have an idea you’d be adding more in the first volumes?

JW: No. Raven wasn’t planned. When we discovered last year that we would be doing a Princeless book for Free Comic Book Day, I didn’t want it to be a reprint. I wanted something fresh that would let new readers know what Princeless was all about. So I wrote what was supposed to be a short story about Adrienne rescuing another princess. As it turned out, I made Raven too interesting to just leave at that. She had her own story that I wanted to tell. And along with the continuation of Adrienne’s story, we get that here.

GP: You also mix in pirates to the fantasy setting mixing things up a bit. Those are two genres that I don’t normally think together historically. How are you bringing the two worlds together?

JW: Really? I remember that after you open up the first bridge to leave you homeland in the first Final Fantasy game you go across a river to a port city. That city is overrun by pirates, whom you have to defeat in order to get a boat so you can get to other lands. It never dawned on me that pirates didn’t fit into fantasy.

Now what I do like is that adding pirates adds a whole separate set of mythologies into the world. As a guy that didn’t learn to swim until I was twenty and has never actually swum in anything deeper than a pool, I find the open ocean mysterious and terrifying. Sea creatures fascinate me. The idea of doing more with the open ocean in Raven’s story gets me really excited.

GP: There’s a new art team in Rosy Higgins and Ted Brandt. How did they come aboard?

JW: We found each other through Tumblr! I had another artist I was planning on working with who had done some work on the FCBD book. Unfortunately, life got in the way and the story kinda got set adrift. I made a little announcement about it on tumblr, letting people know the schedule would have to be rearranged. Then Rosy and Ted hit me up, asking if they could take a crack at it. They whipped up some character designs and I was sold. Their style fits great with the overall style of the Princeless books while having a distinct style and flavor of its own.

GP: Rosy and Ted, obviously you’re coming into an existing series which has had a look, and a look that’s important to its message. How did you approach mixing the existing look with your own style?

Ted Brandt: For me, the most important part of a book’s design is its central messages and themes: the design needs to speak to that at every level. The thing that was motivating me throughout my work on this volume was ComicsAlliance’s quote that Princeless was the book “Disney should have been doing for the last 20 years.” Of course, I wasn’t really the designer here, it was more Rosy’s job, and she hit the nail on the head.

Rosy Higgins: Honestly, when it came to designing our versions of the characters I just read the previous volumes and then drew the characters. There wasn’t a huge amount of mental preparation in that. I think that reading the story so far, and also the scripts for the current volume, gave such a clear depiction of who the characters are that it wasn’t really that difficult to put our version of them onto the page. The most difficult character to translate was Sparky, and as a result, she’s probably the most visually altered aspect in this volume.

GP: The comic is very empowering and positive for women and minorities in both story and look. As artists, is the something you think about while designing the characters and drawing the comic?

RH: When drawing the characters the main thought in my head was that they are people. I know that probably sounds pretty obvious, but I think a lot of people can brush over that when creating stories – particularly when it comes to female characters. I wanted to make everyone as distinct from each other as I could, no cookie-cutter people going on here; different faces, different body types, different ethnicities. The ethnicities were very important to me to get right – so I hope I didn’t do too bad a job at it.

GP: When it comes to comics, especially fantasy comics, you think of large-chested, big muscled, skimp outfit characters. Princeless not only thumbs its nose at it, but has addressed it in previous issues. In a lot of ways, it throws the book out the window. How does that feel as an artist? Do you put your own spin on that in a way with what you design?

RH: Well, I’d never really drawn that sort of stuff to begin with, so really it was a relief that our first job was one where I didn’t have to!

GP: How do you two work as a team? Who handles what part?

TB: I’d love to give you a straight answer, but there isn’t one. When we started, it seemed like our respective strengths gave us a really straightforward system: I would do the layouts, Rosy would pencil, I would ink, she would color and I would letter. It really didn’t work out that way at all, though.

RH: Yeah, one particular job overlap was due to time constraints and so Ted also became my assistant flatter for the colours. He was also very helpful when it came to correcting some of my anatomy mistakes, because sometimes you need someone else who hasn’t been staring at the page to notice when something isn’t looking quite right.

TB: It’s also worth pointing out that Rosy also often fixed layouts for me, and picked up on inking mistakes. It was a pretty fluid process.

GP: Princeless is a pretty important comic, won numerous awards, lots of prestige, how does it feel to step onto a comic like this? Any pressure?

TB: Pressure? Absolutely. The awards weren’t the biggest pressure for me, though, it was more that we were coming onto an established book, with a hardcore fanbase. It’s a lot to think about to make sure you aren’t going to disappoint readers who already love the book, you know?

RH: Oh yeah, disappointing the fans is way more of a concern. Sure, the previous volumes have gained a critical acclaim, but it’s the readers that are the most important part of this whole thing.

GP: Jeremy, with Princeless you were out front of what is a wave of female and minority lead comics. How does it feel to see the market changed so much in the short time Princeless has been around?

JW: It feels so incredibly good. Part of why I chose to write this book is because there were no books like it. While it’s still quite distinct, I now have plenty of books I can read to my daughter. We read Lumberjanes and Ms. Marvel together every month. Personally I love that books like Captain Marvel and Rat Queens have a place in the current market. Even though my daughter is not ready for those books, I’m glad the larger companies realize the need to make these books.

GP: What else can we expect from everyone?

TB: We can’t tell you just yet, unfortunately, but I can say we’ll be working with Jeremy for a little while yet!

RH: It’s gonna be fun!

JW: Well, I have two other books in the November previews – both licensed books from IDW – and I’m hoping there’s a lot more of that in my future. I’m really having a ball playing in someone else’s sandbox for a while. But as soon as this volume of Princeless wraps up, Emily Martin will be returning to art duties for Volume 4, which is our swamp based super-moody goth story involving goblins, vampires, swamp monsters, and maybe even a few zombies!
Other than that, as you know, Heather Nunnelly and I are hard at work on our Kickstarted project “Illegal”. I’m also pitching some more projects that I’d like to see find a home in the next year. It’s going to be a wild 2015!

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We Talk Wonderland with Erica J Heflin

calieAfter a few years working with GreyHaven Comics, Erica J Heflin was given the reins for Zenescope’s ongoing Wonderland series.  Turning the psychotic stories a bit on their side, she is now taking the title in a new direction.  She chatted with us for a bit and told us what it is like to go down the rabbit hole.

Graphic PolicyHow did you cross paths into Zenescope and Wonderland?  Was there a magical looking glass involved?

Erica J Heflin:  No looking glasses! My general history of disliking what I see reflected means that I avoid mirrors handily.

In this case it was the perfect combination of luck and hard work put me behind a table slinging my own books when the delightful Pat Shand happened upon the table. This was several years ago, and while he introduced himself as a writer I didn’t recognize his name. We had a pleasant conversation where I both told him about my books and tried to get him involved in an anthology project that I was working on with GrayHaven Comics. We exchanged some books and continued to share books at different cons. When the opening for Wonderland occurred, I was invited to pitch!

calieGPYou picked up writing duties on the series after Calie had managed to finally conquer Wonderland and take over as its queen.  Do you foresee a change in tone to the overall series now that she has “won”?

EH:  Oh, yes. Her victory and conquering of Wonderland really changes the entire landscape of the book. While it’s still a fantasy-horror series, the madness and claustrophobic lack of control isn’t as pervasive. These were some fundamental motifs in the earlier books and the ongoing, so it’s a pretty substantial change.

But in addition to Wonderland’s changes, Calie changes a lot too. She’s no longer in a position where her survival – and her daughter’s – is threatened in each moment. Though she has enough paranoia and experience to know that Wonderland is still a VERY dangerous place, her own relationship with it has changed. Moreover, Calie’s experiencing a life event that is both very normal and very emotional for a parent. Violet’s grown and is stepping out into the world as her own woman. So at the most basic level the dynamics of Calie’s life are changing.

calieGPThe Grimm Fairy Tales version of Wonderland is a combination of fantasy and wonder with horror and terror.  Which one do you think defines the realm more?

EH:  I’d say that in its natural state Wonderland holds to a combination of fantasy and wonder. Through the last several years it’s leaned heavily away from this whimsical charm and into the dark horror and now Calie is struggling to return the balance to Wonderland. Calie’s life hasn’t made her a particularly whimsical person, so watching her struggle to embrace the fantasy and wonder of the Realm she commands is a lot of fun.

GPMental health has been an ongoing theme in the collected series thus far.  Is that an important aspect to continue with, or do you think that Calie has kind of moved past this?

EH:  It will continue, but manifest in different ways. We’ll see a bit of it with Violet as she struggles with the spirit of the Hatter as well as her own demons. But overall there’s a shift away from featuring these concerns, simply because many of the characters of focus are now either birthed of Wonderland or have been fully absorbed into Wonderland. Though now that the creatures of Wonderland have free will – and free control of their destinies – there’s bound to be a lot more questioning of who and why they exist.

GP Did you read the novel as a youngster or just watch the movie?

calieEH:  I watched the movie when I was very young, but started reading Lewis Caroll in my teen years. It was assigned reading, I believe, but fantastical or horror stories were easy enough for me to get fully engrossed in.

I ended up reading Caroll’s work several more times – on my own, in college, etc. I love the way he built such an immersive universe and still managed a sharp commentary on historical events. I’m also a nerd for linguistics, and Caroll’s works offer such a rich breadth of word play that I love to revisit.

GPDo you have a favorite character?

EH:   I love Calie, but I have to admit that my favorite character to write at the moment is Dark Cheshire. He comes from such a unique background, and is continuing to struggle with the questions of who and why he is. He also has a history of not just doing terrible things, but taking joy from many of them. There’s a gleeful sense of affection for his own history even as he struggles to rise above the horror of what he was. It makes a very interesting dynamic to write.

GPDoes having a favorite affect how you see the series going forward?

EH:   My concept of Wonderland is very Calie-centric, but her relationship with the Dark Cheshire is deeply important. Through Dark Cheshire we get a deeper understanding of Calie and her relationship with Wonderland and its people. He’s a great gateway for both her and the reader. His presence doesn’t change the story’s direction, but allows for a deeper understanding of all the characters involved.

GPAre there any elements of the original Wonderland that you feel that the series has been missing so far that you would like to introduce?

EH:   Because of the nature of the stories, Wonderland has focuses on a tiny corner of the Realm, coupled with a lot of overlay of Earth life. Going forward I’m going to show how vast Wonderland is. This is a land with a long history – history that isn’t interlinked to Earth’s – and I’m very excited to pull away that curtain and reveal the rest of Wonderland.

GPLastly and most importantly, why is a raven like a writing desk?

EH:  You know, I have a strong desire to undermine the nature of this question and ramble about the talented Mr. (Raven) Gregory.

Steve Orlando Discusses his Contribution to Vertigo Quarterly

Vertigo-CMYKIn April, Vertigo launched Vertigo Quarterly: CMYK, their latest anthology series featuring some of today’s hottest, and most talented creators. Each issue references the colors that compromise the four-color printing process: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. So far, the two issues released have kept up the quality I’d expect in any Vertigo comic, two more issues await to hit shelves.

We got to talk to four of the creators involved Rachel Deering, and Jody Houser who had contributions to Vertigo Quarterly: Magenta, and Matt Miner and Steve Orlando who will have contributions in the upcoming Vertigo Quarterly: Yellow.

We decided to ask all four creators the same questions about their experience, and history in comics, allowing you the reader to see how all four answered. A big thanks to Steve Orlando who helped set this up!

We’ve run the first three interviews of this series, our first interview with writer Matt Miner, second with Jody Houser, and third with Rachel Deering. Up next is Steve Orlando!

Graphic Policy: How did you get started in the comic industry?

Steve Orlando: Tyler Niccum! You may have picked up the trade paperback of Undertow, my book from Image that is on the stands right now. WELL if you did then you saw a tripped out, beautiful story by the totally unique artist Tyler Niccum, who has been a friend of mine for years. We have been collaborating on tiny human stories for years, at least since 2006, and in 2008 Tyler asked me to work on him for his story in Outlaw Territory from Image, which ended up being my first widely published worked. THEN we pitched a second story, featuring a Hessian Revolutionary War deserter, and it was so well received they put it in as well! Suddenly Tyler and I had two published stories on our hands. We’ve never looked back, and it was oddly circular that Tyler was able to come back and join Artyom and me for our TPB.

GP: How did you get to be a part of Vertigo Quarterly: Yellow?

SO: I owe my spot on the book to gentlemen and comics lovers Will Dennis and Greg Lockard. The folks at Vertigo were not scared by my previous Mystery in Space short that starred drug-taking, naked centaurs, and offered me a chance to return. SO when I told them my Yellow story would be about 1800s Indian painting and a folktale about cow’s urine, they were similarly unafraid and I was similarly pleased. These are two guys that love comics and have supported me since the beginning.

GP: When you signed up for the project, what were you told as far as what you could do with your entry?

SO: Anything! And that was actually more daunting than having directives for me. I must have spent a cumulative week on the internet researching arcane, nebulous, or esoteric associations with the color yellow. I read everything I could, just to marinate my brain. After my last story, strange is what they expected, and its what I was happy to supply.

GP: Did you talk to any of the other creators at all? Make sure you weren’t going to do similar things?

SO: Interestingly enough this is a question no one has asked yet, and I actually didn’t. In my case my story was done so far ahead that they hadn’t even locked down the rest of the team yet. But with a cow’s urine myth I didn’t think I was treading on anyone.

GP: Did you go and look at the previous Vertigo Quarterly issues before coming up with your entry?

SO: I’ve definitely read every story in CMYK so far, but I turned my story in before Cyan broke, so that I could be free of influence.

GP: What’s it like working with Vertigo? That publishing name has certain panache when it comes to what they produce.

SO: Vertigo is a great place to be. These are people that just want to help you, work with you to make your comics even better. The Vertigo team is smart and respectful– the type of notes you appreciate and know come from the right place. And the best part? They’re never afraid of any story I’ve imagined– no matter how crazy.

GP: Did it being a “Vertigo” comic change the approach to what you put together for the issue?

SO: Not at all! But after the previous anthology I knew what to expect– that being almost absolutely freedom to craft the story I had in my mind. You can’t set out to make one type of comics or another, just a kick ass comic.

GP: It seems anthologies have been a constant in comics, though never at the forefront. What do you think an anthology brings to the table that might be different from other comics? Why do you think we don’t see more of them, especially to highlight new talent?

SO: I think the pros of anthologies echo the cons. They’re a great place for bold, new voices. They’re a great way to chock a bookfull of diverse stories into a smaller package. You get a lot of different ideas in one place. In some ways, they’re just focused, quicker, and more pop. But that’s also what makes them sometimes a hard sell– it’s impermanent, and thus, there’s the idea that they “matter” less. They’re basically collections of flash fiction in an industry (in America at least), based on serials that run for decades at a time. They’re the anti-serial. So I think sometimes people don’t know what to make of them.

GP: What’s the difference between going about creating a short comic like this than a normal full issue?

SO: Economy! You may need to smash that full issue into eight pages, but make it just as satisfying. You have to enter late and leave early, and screenwriters say. It’s concentrate. No, it’s distillation maybe. So you trim an idea to its essential core, the leanest of leans, and you loose it on the world.

It’s fiction bullion.

GP: What advice would you give to those wanting to get started in comic industry?

SO: Make comics! The best, the only way to get better at your craft and to show your strengths is to make comics. It sounds absurd maybe, and yes the Joker says “If you’re good at something never do it for free,” but the truth is you have to show your focus, and your passion, but making comics happen even if no one is telling you to at first.

GP: What else do you have on tap?

SO: 2015 is on tap! Nothing that can be announced now, but much talk is on the gossip. I’ve been researching Slavic fighting styles and Australian film of late, I’ll say that.

We Talk Hot Mess With Black Milk’s Cameron Parker

This past week Black Milk Clothing from a land down under released their newest collection titled Hot Mess.  While it included prints from a lot of different bits of pop culture, a lot of it focused on comics.  We got a chance to talk with Black Milk’s very own Cameron Parker about the new collection.

hot messGraphic Policy: This is the first of your releases without a strong central theme.  How did you choose what was going to be included in this collection?

Black Milk:  Themed releases are actually a very recent thing for us – in the past, very few if any of our collections were consciously themed around one thing! What we normally do, and what we have done for this release, is take a look at the gear we have in the works that we really love (and there’s usually a lot of that!) and figure out which pieces we can have ready in time, and which pieces the community are super keen for right now.

GP Can you talk a little bit about the overall design of the items?

BM:  When we’re looking for images to use in our prints, there are definitely certain things we look out for. The best prints to work with are very high resolution, so we can move them around, zoom in, change them and so on, and they are or can be made to be repetitive. It’s much easier to fit a print to a garment if we can move it and repeat it in ways to ensure the best placement.

the jokerGPThis is not the first collection to include prints of comic book cover or interiors on your clothing.  How do you go about choosing specific images/covers/interiors to be collected and printed?

BM:  It’s a combination of things. The first question we ask is always “is this cool to look at, is it going to resonate with people?”. If we can get a ‘yes’ to that, we move on to more functional criteria like is the image we’ve been provided with high enough resolution, are the colours going to print well, and can the pattern be positioned well onto our garments? Finding the right images to put on our gear is definitely a process.

GP: Harley Quinn is one of the most popular characters in comics that people cosplay as, and your collection includes her as well.  Why do you think that this character is so endearing to so many?  Especially that she is actually a villain in most cases.

BM:  The villains are always the fun ones, though! We love a bit of villainy here at Black Milk – our Joker pieces were very popular too. Harley is a very multi-layered character, especially in some of the newer comics like Injustice, and I think her complex and very over-the-top character really resonates with a lot of people. She’s a lot of fun.

riddler-female

Some feminine Riddlers

GP The Riddler is a little off-the-mark of someone that is considered to be very feminine, yet it influences three of the releases in this collection.  Why did you choose that character?

BM:  The Riddler gear is included because heaps of people in our community asked for it! That’s the great thing about social media, we can ask the people what they want and then, if we can, we’re sometimes able to give it to them.

GP Any more comics related apparel on the way in the future?

BM:  Hopefully! We love working with the iconic images of pop-culture, and would absolutely be interested in creating more comic-book gear.

GPWho plays a better witch – Margaret Hamilton or Emma Watson?

BM:  Personally I think Billie Burke is my kind of witch!

Rachel Deering Discusses her Contribution to Vertigo Quarterly

Vertigo-CMYKIn April, Vertigo launched Vertigo Quarterly: CMYK, their latest anthology series featuring some of today’s hottest, and most talented creators. Each issue references the colors that compromise the four-color printing process: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. So far, the two issues released have kept up the quality I’d expect in any Vertigo comic, two more issues await to hit shelves.

We got to talk to four of the creators involved Rachel Deering, and Jody Houser who had contributions to Vertigo Quarterly: Magenta, and Matt Miner and Steve Orlando who will have contributions in the upcoming Vertigo Quarterly: Yellow.

We decided to ask all four creators the same questions about their experience, and history in comics, allowing you the reader to see how all four answered. We’ll be posting each interview one a day over four days (we’ll skip the weekend). A big thanks to Steve Orlando who helped set this up!

Two days ago was our first interview with writer Matt Miner, and second was yesterday with Jody Houser. Up next is Rachel Deering!

Graphic Policy: How did you get started in the comic industry?

Rachel Deering: I kicked things off with a local rock and roll/horror anthology here in Columbus, OH called Nix Comics Quarterly. I wrote a few stories for them before going on to write, edit, and letter on Womanthology: Heroic and Womanthology: Space. After that, I was off on my own with my creator-owned series, Anathema, and the rest is history.

GP: How did you get to be a part of Vertigo Quarterly: Magneta?

RD: I’m pretty good friends with a fella who works over there at Vertigo. Snappy dresser by the name of Will Dennis. He asked me if I would be interested in pitching to one of the four volumes. I was stoked pretty hard on the idea so I chose to contribute to Magenta, because I figured it was probably the least likely to contain a horror story. I like doing the opposite of what’s expected of me.

GP: When you signed up for the project, what were you told as far as what you could do with your entry?

RD: There were no cages for this songbird, baby. I was told to go crazy and the only limit to my interpretation of the theme was my own imagination. My kinda guidelines.

GP: Did you talk to any of the other creators at all? Make sure you weren’t going to do similar things?

RD: I talked to James Tynion IV about what he was doing for Cyan, but that was more to get an idea for how loosely people were interpreting the theme than to make sure nobody was going to write a story similar to mine. I’m probably too weird for that to happen anyway. I talked to Jody Houser a bit after I had already written my story, but that was just because I was snoopy and I wanted to see what she had written.

GP: Did you go and look at the previous Vertigo Quarterly issues before coming up with your entry?

RD: Nope. I didn’t read Cyan until after I had written my story. I didn’t want the structure and flow of those stories to have an effect on how I approached my own tale. I knew there would have been some kind of subconscious influence going on where I would compare the pacing of my story to what everyone else had written. I don’t dig any kind of gnawing feeling going on in the back of my mind when I’m trying to create.

GP: What’s it like working with Vertigo? That publishing name has certain panache when it comes to what they produce.

RD: Easy peasy. I had known and talked to Will for a while before he asked me to pitch a story, so it was really like working with one of my pals. He let me tell the story I wanted to tell, got stoked when he read it, made a few suggestions, and things went off without a hitch. It was honestly probably the easiest publishing experience I’ve ever had while working in comics.

GP: Did it being a “Vertigo” comic change the approach to what you put together for the issue?

RD: A little bit, yeah. I knew that it being a Vertigo book, I could choose just about any artist I wanted. As soon as I had Matteo attached, I knew that I could let loose and have as much fun as I wanted, and not worry about the artist being able to interpret my ideas in an effective way. I knew Will would make sure that the storytelling was spot on, so I let loose and had a great time.

GP: It seems anthologies have been a constant in comics, though never at the forefront. What do you think an anthology brings to the table that might be different from other comics? Why do you think we don’t see more of them, especially to highlight new talent?

RD: You kiddin’ me?! Horror anthologies were the cool thing in comics for decades! Even the big publishers had multiple horror anthologies hitting the shelves every month during the 60s and 70s. It was the greatest period in comics history. Ever. As for what they bring to the table, I’d say foremost is the incredible storytelling. A writer has to be on top of their game to craft a well-told tale in the span of just a few pages. You know that every story is going to be to the point, hard-hitting, and fun. You don’t have to worry yourself with a bunch of continuity and boring details. It’s straight to the action! I don’t have an answer for why there aren’t more anthologies on the shelves today. Since I don’t have an answer, I will make one up for you. It’s because too many people are on Ritalin, and they have the opposite of ADHD. Their attention spans are freakishly long, and they blow a gasket if a story is anything under 114 issues. How’s that?

GP: What’s the difference between going about creating a short comic like this than a normal full issue?

RD: You don’t have to write as many words. You have to make every single panel count. No throwaways for the sake of making it pretty or giving the crowd an ‘ooo-ahhh’ moment. You get straight to the point, deliver the goods, and get out without much fuss.

GP: What advice would you give to those wanting to get started in comic industry?

RD: Marry into some money. Read a lot (not just comics) to sharpen your mind. Write or draw or color or whatever it is you do every day. Make your own comics with whatever budget you can muster. Get out to conventions to meet people. Grow your social networks. Don’t be a friggin’ a-hole to people. Get good at dealing with rejection. Eat. Sleep. Exercise. If you’re going to sleep around, use protection. Waffles are better than pancakes. Kickstarter is harder than it looks. Veronica is prettier than Betty.

GP: What else do you have on tap?

RD: Right now I’m doing a lot of editing and lettering work to focus my efforts on paying down some debt. Outside of comics, I’m writing a horror novella, to be released in 2015, and a children’s book. Yes, a children’s book.

Jody Houser Discusses her Contribution to Vertigo Quarterly

Vertigo-CMYKIn April, Vertigo launched Vertigo Quarterly: CMYK, their latest anthology series featuring some of today’s hottest, and most talented creators. Each issue references the colors that compromise the four-color printing process: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. So far, the two issues released have kept up the quality I’d expect in any Vertigo comic, two more issues await to hit shelves.

We got to talk to four of the creators involved Rachel Deering, and Jody Houser who had contributions to Vertigo Quarterly: Magenta, and Matt Miner and Steve Orlando who will have contributions in the upcoming Vertigo Quarterly: Yellow.

We decided to ask all four creators the same questions about their experience, and history in comics, allowing you the reader to see how all four answered. We’ll be posting each interview one a day over four days (ish, we might skip the weekend). A big thanks to Steve Orlando who helped set this up!

Yesterday was our first interview with writer Matt Miner. Up next is Jody Houser who had her first work published as part of Womanthology and the awesome job of writing the upcoming Orphan Black comic from IDW.

Graphic Policy: How did you get started in the comic industry?

Jody Houser: I launched my first webcomic in 2007–I was primarily writing spec screenplays and short fiction at the time and wanted to have a visible ongoing project. I found I loved writing for comics and submitted to several comic anthologies when the opportunity came up. My first published work was in Womanthology: Heroic from IDW. I got to work with artists Fiona Staples and Adriana Blake and was pretty much hooked after that.

GP: How did you get to be a part of Vertigo Quarterly: Magneta?

JH: I’d previously met both Will Dennis and Sara Miller at conventions in 2013 and had kept in touch. As soon as news broke about CMYK, I emailed Will to say I’d love to pitch if there was an opportunity. It turned out that Sara was already planning to email me about doing a story for Magenta.

GP: When you signed up for the project, what were you told as far as what you could do with your entry?

JH: Aside from an eight-page story that involved magenta in some way, the sky was pretty much the limit.

GP: Did you talk to any of the other creators at all? Make sure you weren’t going to do similar things?

JH: The one creator I knew ahead of time was Rachel Deering, and we did chat enough to know our stories were almost polar opposite. Which is a good thing because I’d originally wanted to do a horror story before I went in the direction of Adrift.

GP: Did you go and look at the previous Vertigo Quarterly issues before coming up with your entry?

JH: Cyan came out a few months after I submitted my script for Magenta, so I didn’t really have the opportunity to see any issues beforehand. But reading Cyan and seeing the caliber of creators in there made me even more excited about Magenta.

GP: What’s it like working with Vertigo? That publishing name has certain panache when it comes to what they produce.

JH: It was an amazing experience and everyone helped make it far less intimidating than it could have been. Sara was an incredibly enthusiastic editor. She was the one who suggested Nathan Fox, who ended up being the perfect artist for the story. And even the people I didn’t work with directly have been wonderful. I got to meet Shelly Bond at SDCC this year, which was kind of mind-boggling.

GP: Did it being a “Vertigo” comic change the approach to what you put together for the issue?

JH: In one sense it didn’t–I always want to push myself out of my comfort zone and do my very best work with any story. But I think knowing the tone and “voice” of a publisher is always something to keep in the forefront when figuring out what story to tell for a project like this. I love playing with story structure and layered realities, and I knew that was a good path to head down for Vertigo.

GP: It seems anthologies have been a constant in comics, though never at the forefront. What do you think an anthology brings to the table that might be different from other comics? Why do you think we don’t see more of them, especially to highlight new talent?

JH: I’ve written about ten stories for anthologies and speaking from the creator’s side, it’s a great opportunity to really push your storytelling skills and to work with collaborators you might never get to otherwise. I think they can be a hard sell to readers sometimes, but it seems like Kickstarter in particular has helped with a resurgence in comic anthologies.

GP: What’s the difference between going about creating a short comic like this than a normal full issue?

JH: For me, I love the challenge of short comics, making every panel and every word count. It makes you a more efficient storyteller, which I believe in turn makes you more thoughtful when you have more pages to work with. I know it’s made me a better writer.

GP: What advice would you give to those wanting to get started in comic industry?

JH: Create comics! Anthologies are a great way to dip your toe in the water, and the internet means that you don’t have to worry about print expenses being part of the cost of entry. Create a webcomic, find an anthology that’s taking submissions. Just make comics.

GP: What else do you have on tap?

JH: My current big project is writing the Orphan Black comics for IDW. I love the show and I’m having a blast working on the comics. I wrote a story for an anthology called Rise: Comics Against Bullying that’s currently on Kickstarter. Aside from that, I have some creator-owned projects in the works, including two one-shots currently with the artists.

Matt Miner Discusses his Contribution to Vertigo Quarterly

Vertigo-CMYKIn April, Vertigo launched Vertigo Quarterly: CMYK, their latest anthology series featuring some of today’s hottest, and most talented creators. Each issue references the colors that compromise the four-color printing process: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. So far, the two issues released have kept up the quality I’d expect in any Vertigo comic, two more issues await to hit shelves.

We got to talk to four of the creators involved Rachel Deering, and Jody Houser who had contributions to Vertigo Quarterly: Magenta, and Matt Miner and Steve Orlando who will have contributions in the upcoming Vertigo Quarterly: Yellow.

We decided to ask all four creators the same questions about their experience, and history in comics, allowing you the reader to see how all four answered. We’ll be posting each interview one a day over the next four days (ish, we might skip the weekend). A big thanks to Steve Orlando who helped set this up!

Up first is writer Matt Miner, who you might know from Critical Hit, Liberator, both from Black Mask Studios.

Graphic Policy: How did you get started in the comic industry?

Matt Miner: I made my intro to comics about a year and a half ago with the first Liberator series, published by Black Mask Studios. Actually I think that first book came out the same day as the Occupy Comics issue I had a piece in, so I guess my intro was both books. I’ll be forever grateful to Black Mask for taking a chance on an unknown and unproven writer like myself and seeing the potential value in Liberator – a story about animal cruelty vigilante justice. I’m so happy to see their second slate is packed full of so much incredible talent – they’re a publisher to watch.

GP: How did you get to be a part of Vertigo Quarterly: Yellow?

MM: I was introduced to editor Sara Miller and while talking about other things, she asked if I wanted to pitch a story for CMYK. Of course the answer to that was a resounding “yes” and I was super psyched when my pitch was accepted and I was teamed with artist Taylan Kurtulus, whose work took the story to a whole new, beautiful, level.

GP: When you signed up for the project, what were you told as far as what you could do with your entry?

MM: What I really love about this anthology is that it’s really up to the creators to decide what the specific color means to them, and to incorporate that in the way they want. For me I see the color yellow as symbolic of rebirth, renewal, and change. I wasn’t given any directions on what I could or couldn’t write about, but Sara definitely helped me tell my story the best way possible.

GP: Did you talk to any of the other creators at all? Make sure you weren’t going to do similar things?

MM: No, it took awhile before I heard who else who was doing CMYK pieces and it never even occurred to me that someone might have a similar idea to mine – even thinking about it now I find the idea highly unlikely. Seems a lot of my friends and peers got in to this anthology – whenever there’s a new announcement there’s a bunch of familiar names and that makes me really happy.

GP: Did you go and look at the previous Vertigo Quarterly issues before coming up with your entry?

MM: The Cyan book had just come out while I was writing my entry, so I had seen those pieces, so I checked them out for pacing and what layouts really worked, but I didn’t consider their content in coming up with my story. Mostly I find inspiration from real life, and my piece with Taylan has a lot of very personal elements.

GP: What’s it like working with Vertigo? That publishing name has certain panache when it comes to what they produce.

MM: It was awesome! Working with Vertigo was frustration-free and I found the whole thing to be really rewarding. Sara let me tell the story I wanted to tell, and helped me tell it better, if that makes sense. I really enjoyed this experience and I’m honored to be part of such a gorgeous collection.

GP: Did it being a “Vertigo” comic change the approach to what you put together for the issue?

MM: I put my best effort forward with everything I do, and so that’s what I did with Vertigo, too. I’m serious about making comics so if I’m not giving it all I have then what’s the point, you know? Vertigo has a different work flow than my creator-owned projects, sure, but in terms of effort and dedication to putting out the best work I can, I never phone it in and I sure wouldn’t start doing that with a Vertigo story.

GP: It seems anthologies have been a constant in comics, though never at the forefront. What do you think an anthology brings to the table that might be different from other comics? Why do you think we don’t see more of them, especially to highlight new talent?

MM: Anthologies are great for discovering new writers and artists you may have been previously unaware of – it’s a sample-pack of short stories where you don’t need to know any of the character history or catch up on Wikipedia before being able to jump into the story. I think it’s a good intro to comics for new readers and a good intro to new talent for existing comic readers. I’m not sure it’s entirely accurate to say we don’t see a lot of them – just take a look at the slew of anthology projects on Kickstarter on any given day.

GP: What’s the difference between going about creating a short comic like this than a normal full issue?

MM: Short stories use different storytelling muscles. For me it’s about cutting your story down to the nuts and bolts and making full use of every panel, every word of dialogue, every caption, to really flesh out your world and characters and tell a compelling story.

GP: What advice would you give to those wanting to get started in comic industry?

MM: Work super hard and be a good person. Don’t use people to get ahead, and treat folks with respect.

GP: What else do you have on tap?

MM: In stores now is my Critical Hit miniseries with the eye-popping new art team of Jonathan Brandon Sawyer and Doug Garbark. It’s the continuation of my Liberator storyline, but takes the 2 reader-favorite women and thrusts them into a dark horror story when things in their vigilante animal work go terribly awry.

Then November 26 is Toe Tag Riot #1 that I’ve created with series artist Sean Von Gorman. It’s a comedy/horror about a punk rock band that’s cursed to become zombies whenever they play their music. Being ethical sometimes-zombies that they are, they use their new “powers” to rid the world of shitty people like racist hate groups, misogynist dudebros and religious homophobes, culminating in a showdown with the Westboro Baptist Church. Westboro called Sean and me “insincere pervs” and said the book will “SPLIT HELL WIDE OPEN” so you know it’s pretty much gonna rule.

 

Liz Prince talks Tomboy

Tomboy-3Liz Prince is an up and coming comic book artist, Her Latest work, Tomboy, is a graphic memoir of growing up with elements that will ring true for who ever picks it up. The story is smart, funny, and written with an eye for timing and space that only a master story teller could achieve.

Her other works include Will You Still Love Me if I Wet the Bed, Delayed Replays, and has contributed to BOOM! Studios series Marceline and the Scream Queens. Her Latest work, Tomboy, is a graphic memoir of her life growing up. You can see her other works on her art page.

We chatted over email, and Liz revealed herself as a down to earth artist with goals that are to reach as wide of an audience as she can. Liz is just returning from a promotional tour and had time to answer a couple questions for Graphic Policy

Graphic Policy: What do you hope readers will get from reading Tomboy?

Liz Prince: First and foremost, I hope that readers are entertained.  I didn’t want there to be one point to the story: I want people to take what they will from it.  Of course, there are a lot of messages in the book, but I didn’t want it to be a moral tale, or a lecture, or a lesson.  Hopefully if the reader is experiencing their own gender-related bullying or pressure, they will be inspired to stay the course and just be themselves; if the reader has participated in said bullying or pressure, hopefully they will no longer take part in it; and if the reader has never had any issues with bullying or pressure, hopefully they will be more aware of the ways in which we live in a culture that encourages strict gender rules.

It was very important to me, as a straight, white female, not to be speaking for anyone else’s experience.  I hope that comes through, that this is a very personal story, and it’s not supposed to be about ALL Tomboys or everyone who is gender non-conforming.

GP: At the end of the book you come to terms with a lot of the things that were hurtful and confusing to you growing up and turn it into a great story. Were you encouraged to write, or had you been writing since you were young?

LP: My parents always encouraged me to pursue whatever my interests were, and my main interests always centered around art and cartoons.  When I discovered comics in 3rd grade, and decided that I wanted to draw comics for a living, my parents helped me try to find art classes and mentors and stuff like that.  My dad was a music writer and critic, and my mom had taken art classes at Pratt, so they were both interested in those things themselves.  Because of their enthusiasm, I’ve been drawing comics since I was 9 years old!!

GP: Do you think there is anything that could be done that would help the kids that do not quite fit the ‘gender’ bill?

LP: There are many things that can be done, starting with changing the ways that we teach gender to children; a big part of my book is exploring how children are predisposed to want the simplest explanation, and that leads them to be the most strict gender binary enforcers.  Getting rid of the “blue and pink” mentality of gender, and instead teaching kids that it’s not as simple as being a boy and being girl would certainly set kids on a path of greater acceptance and awareness of the gender spectrum.

GP: Your illustration style is simple while still being expressive.Are there certain things that this particular style of illustration allows that other styles do not?

LP: Very much in line with the Scott McCloud theory in Understanding Comics, wherein the simple smiley face is the icon best suited for people to be able to see themselves in, drawing autobio comics in a simple style allows readers to recognize more of themselves in a character, I think it gives it a more universal feel.  If something is too detailed, it becomes more concrete and specific, and there may be less for someone to latch onto. I don’t consider myself to be a very accomplished artist: I use cartooning for it’s most basic purpose, which is to tell a story.

GP: I really liked your approach to narration: Young Liz struggling through situations and having adult Liz occasionally step in and explain things to the reader. It really allowed the reader to feel not only the confusion that surrounded Young Liz, but also allowed for a very accurate portrayal of coming of age.

There was no projecting of an adult understanding onto the past. Were you trying to portray it this way, and if so, how did you manage keep your adult self out of Young Liz‘s experience?

LP: Writing a book about gender, and looking back at my childhood through the lens of what I understand now, it was really important for me to tell the story from the present, but at the same time, I wanted the scenes from my past to play out in real time.

Adult Liz pretty much vanishes from the narration when I reach 6th grade, because that became the part of the story where I was at an age when I started being able to recognize a lot of these societal pressures for myself.

I wanted the story to evolve in an organic way, but I also wanted it to be fast-paced: drawing a book about my ENTIRE childhood could have easily taken me 5,000 pages, so I had to be very selective about what anecdotes I told, and how I weaved them into the story.

In the end, I’m not sure that I really did keep “adult Liz” and “young Liz” separate, because my current voice narrates the story throughout, but I’m glad to hear that I successfully was able to create that illusion!

GP: Did drawing out scenes give any closure or perhaps new understanding to old memories? Were there any that were particularly difficult to revisit?

LP: There were many things that I recalled with new meaning, as I’ve come to have a greater understanding of the ways that American culture divides the gender lines, and the subjugated role that women play within those lines. Tomboy has a lot of themes of internal misogyny, and I was able to see where a lot of that came from, in direct relation to the things that I was watching and participating in as a kid.

A lot of the bullying stuff still elicited an emotional response from me, which was surprising, but also reinforced to me that these behaviors that we endured as kids can really carry a lot of weight: just because it’s buried somewhere in my mind, doesn’t mean it isn’t still having an impact on me.  Very sobering stuff.

Anthony Desiato Discusses By Spoon! The Jay Meisel Story

2014-10-09_1612We previously spoke to filmmaker Anthony Desiato about his previous film My Comic DocumentARy. He has a spin-off coming out soon By Spoon! The Jay Meisel Story following the comic store owner Jay Meisel who we saw in the first film.

We got to speak to Anthony again to get the scoop on another excellent film that peals back the world of comic shops.

Graphic Policy: How did By Spoon! The Jay Meisel Story come about?

Anthony Desiato: I enjoyed telling a shorter version of Jay’s story in My Comic Shop DocumentARy, and his segment played very well at screenings, so I knew I wanted to do more with him.

GP: How long did it take you to film it and edit it to get it to release?

AD: There was an initial round of filming in winter 2013, and then a second round in late summer/early fall. I didn’t really get into the editing until early spring of this year. I finished around May.

GP: During the documentary, it feels like you discovered a story with the closing of the location he was at, and that might not have been what the intent was going in. How did that change the narrative of what you went in to film, and what you ended up making?

AD: That is absolutely what happened, and it’s a perfect example of the beauty of documentary filmmaking: finding a different story than you originally intended during the filmmaking process.

When I began this project, there was no indication that the flea market would close. The documentary was originally intended to be a profile of Jay. I probably would have delved a little bit deeper into his backstory. And it would have ended on the question of, “Is there an end in sight? How much longer will Jay spend his weekends at the Empire State Flea Market?”

Then, months after I thought I was done filming, Jay got word that the market would close. As his friend, it was tremendously sad. As a documentarian, I knew I had to chronicle the end.

Had this film remained a profile, I’m sure it would have been a solid piece. But the closing of the market gave the film weight and an arc. I’m very proud of the finished product.

GP: In the film, you seem to capture the crossroads the comic industry is in. There are the changing entertainment tastes, demographics, and new technology. What is it about the industry that makes them so reluctant to embrace new technology?

AD: It’s funny, because as with my first documentary, I wasn’t necessarily trying to make any sort of statement about the industry. My only intention was to tell one man’s story. That being said, it’s gratifying that the film can have that larger meaning.

As for what makes the industry reluctant to embrace new technology, I suspect it’s a combination of tradition and the collector mentality. Certainly, on the retail side, I think the fear of becoming obsolete is very much a factor.

GP: There was an interesting discussion online about whether the digital experience could ever copy the in person experience from shops. What are your thoughts on that?

AD: Having worked in a shop for many years, and having made two documentaries about comic shops, I’m definitely biased. Still, I think there’s something to be said for those personal, face-to-face interactions.

On the other hand (see, there’s the lawyer in me!), online communication can bring together people who would never otherwise connect, whether due to geography or other factors.

GP: In the years I’ve been going to shops, there’s also this massive divide of shops that are clean, with nice displays, very professional, and others that have the stereotypical set up of being a dingy dungeon. And you’ve shown that in your two documentaries now. What’s your impression on that?

AD: That’s a great observation, and I’d have to agree. I don’t know that I’ve been to many middle-of-the-road shops. Most do seem to fall into either the clean or dingy categories. I’m not exactly sure what would account for that. The only thing I could offer is that maybe it comes down to the reason for opening the store. If the motivation is more of a business-oriented one, perhaps that leads to a more professional appearance, whereas owners who are fans first and businesspeople second may be somewhat less organized.

GP: Jay is quite a personality. What is it about comic shops and attracting larger than life personalities and the types of “characters” that go to them to shop and hang out?

AD: Jay is absolutely larger than life. It’s hard to ask for much more in a documentary subject (except maybe for someone who doesn’t address me so much while filming, but at least I got some good bloopers out of it!).

I don’t know what exactly it is that attracts such characters to comic shops, but I’m honored to be part of that club!

GP: How is Jay doing now with his new set up?

AD: As shown in the film, Jay moved his merchandise to his garage when the market closed. He’s done some garage sales since, and set up a table at a couple of local flea markets, but that’s about it. As shown in the film, it’s not exactly like business was booming to begin with in Port Chester. I think what’s hit Jay harder than anything is not having those interactions with his customers anymore.

GP: What’s next for My Comic Shop DocumentARy and By Spoon! The Jay Meisel Story?

AD: My Comic Shop DocumentARy continues to be discovered on YouTube, and the responses have been tremendously positive. I’m always looking for new ways to spread the word about it.

By Spoon! has its first film festival screening on October 19th at YoFi Fest. I hope to continue to show it at festivals, but more importantly, it is very much my goal to find a true home for it this time around

Mark L. Miller Discusses His New Series Pirouette

pirouette 1 featuredThe circus is the Greatest Show On Earth, unless you’re the attraction. Raised from infancy by duplicitous clowns who entertain by day and menace by night, Pirouette dreams of washing the paint from her face and escaping to a better life far away from her cruel adoptive circus family… because when the spotlights dim and the crowd disperses, the clown princess’ big-top dreams give way to a nightmarish world of monsters with painted smiles.

Black Mask Studios has been on a role with three new series launched in the past two weeks as the company launches its phase two of comics. Out this week is Pirouette from writer Mark L. Miller and artist Carlos Granda, and while it might seem like a horror tale in a circus, you’ll quickly realize there’s much more below all the make-up.

We got a chance to talk to Miller about the new series and some of its deeper themes.

Graphic Policy: Where did the idea for Pirouette come from?

Mark L. Miller: Pirouette comes from my love of circuses and sideshows that go back all the way to my childhood. It was one of the best memories of my life as it was filled with so many strange and amazing things. I really wanted to capture that feel for the book, as if it is some kind of alien place that is so different from the towns the circus tours through. As I was tooling around with ideas to work with artist Carlos Granda on, I mentioned I had an idea about a young clown who wanted to something more than circus life and Granda loved it, so we ran with it. And over the last year we worked hard to develop the whole circus world that you see in the first issue.

GP: When it comes to circuses, stories often have to deal with people running away, and joining one, this seems like it’s the reverse of that.

MLM: Yeah, one of the things I try to do with any property is try to come up with—especially one in such a specific genre, is to go against convention. I didn’t want to tell a typical story. I wanted to highlight the circus itself as both a way of life and its own sort of microcosm that had its own hierarchy and social class levels. I wanted to show the behind the spectacle and bright lights and loud colors, there are real people. And while it is a place where it seems like anything can happen, sometimes bad things can happen there too. It’s fun building a place filled with so many possibilities and tossing a character into that environment.

GP: This also comes at the same time that the television show American Horror Story will take place at a circus and freak show. What is it about that setting that has story tellers keeping come back to it?

MLM: I don’t want to disparage any of the modern circuses, but I think the circuses of the past are a place of complete mystery and there’s a draw to that. It’s a place that lured in many weird and eccentric characters from all across the world and then jammed all of those characters together and sent them on the road across America. That’s some great potential for a lot of story right there. Starting on with Pirouette, I didn’t know that American Horror Story was going to go the Freak Show route. It’s some kind of weird coincidence that the first issue of Pirouette and the premiere of the TV show is happening on the same date.

GP: Why do you think that setting also opens itself up to a horror tale so easily?

MLM: Again, it’s that mystery and wonder that goes hand in hand with the circus. When you go to a circus, it’s a place where you are constantly wondering if what is happening in front of you is real or not. “You won’t believe your eyes!” to quote the sideshow barker. It prompts one to ask questions and plays with the great unknown and that’s what horror is all about too. What’s in that dark closet in the bedroom or the shadowy space between the bed and the floor? So I think circus and horror go together so well since both make the mind wonder; the circus to the dream-like kind of wonder and horror to the darker nightmarish flip side.

GP: How did Carlos Granda come on to the series?

MLM: I met Carlos while working on The Jungle Book a few years ago. He was so amazing that I kept tabs on him and we pinged back and forth on Facebook and email. I was pittering around with a few ideas and thought his style would match the circus theme perfectly, so we reconnected last year at the New York Comic Con and that’s where we started to get the ball rolling with Pirouette. First was the design of the character, which we took a lot of time with. Then on to the rest of the circus.

GP: When it comes to the art, there’s a lot of double page spreads and interesting panel layout. It all adds to the crazy whirlwind that is a circus. Whose decision was it to go with that visually?

MLM: That was me writing to Carlos’ strengths. Knowing how detailed Carlos could go with his imagery, I knew he wouldn’t be intimidated by a detailed description of tons of things going on at once. That’s what the circus is all about. Clowns over here, tigers over there, people twirling on the trapeze above. It’s that immersion into the circus that I wanted to capture and knew Carlos could do. Again, since we worked together before and already had a good rapport, there was less “gettin’ to know you” time that I’ve found in some other books I’ve worked on.   It made the writing process all the easier for me, knowing that Granda would be able to get what I’m talking about right from page one.

GP: There’s also a massive amount of people crammed in to some pages, and even when there’s only a few, the situation is still claustrophobic. Was some of that in the script or was that just natural art decisions?

MLM: We always talked about how the book was going to be filled with all of this excitement and detail, which meant a lot of detail, was necessary. But there are also some nicely done scenes of intimacy where it’s only Pirouette in the panel and Carlos just nails it there too. It was just Carlos doing what he does best, which is draw just about anything with an amazing sense of detail, emotion, and depth.

GP: The coloring also stands out, especially with the clown makeup. What was the thought into that detail?

MLM: The clown makeup in Pirouette was crucial as clowns are no strangers to comics. The only directions I gave Carlos was that we didn’t want anyone looking like the Joker, Harley Quinn, or Spawn’s The Violator. So Carlos just went nuts with the makeup and I sent him a lot of references of old clown photos. Some of them are terrifying. There are a lot of emails back and forth between Carlos and myself that contains tons and tons of scary clown pictures. It would horrify some folks, but we both seem to love the circus so much, it didn’t bother us.

GP: The story has glimpses of a class system, between the audience and performers, the clowns, and acrobats, the folks who clean, and more. Was this something you wanted to address in the story?

MLM: Definitely. I wanted the circus to be a metaphor of the class system we all see in life. There are those who think certain people can only be this way or that way—that someone of this type cannot do this job or achieve this level of status. We want to think we are in a day and age when this doesn’t exist, but we all live in the real world and know that’s not the case. And sometimes we find ourselves in a place where we ask ourselves “Is this all there is?” Pirouette is that spirit in us that keeps on trying and doesn’t give up despite the fact that it may be a shitty situation you find yourself in. It’s a tough and hard journey, but it’s worth fighting for. The circus is just a fantastic backdrop for that type of struggle.

GP: What else can we expect from you?

MLM: Hopefully, more Pirouette! And if you like Pirouette, be sure to tell others about it as this really is a book that will live or die by word of mouth. Tweet it, FaceBlog it, scream it from the highest mountain and from every comic book store! This is a four issue series at the moment, but Carlos and I have tons more Pirouette tales to tell, so it really is up to you!

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