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Review: Translucid #1

Translucid_01_coverAThe Horse has been the arch-enemy of The Navigator for years. But The Horse feels The Navigator’s moral compass slipping, and even a villain can’t let that happen. The Horse decides to get a closer look into The Navigator’s past that he’s buried deep in his subconscious and find out what drives a person to make the right choice, and what propels someone to make a selfish one. Thus begins an exploration of why a young man would take the mantle of a superhero.

What is a superhero without their villain(s)? That’s the question the new series Translucid from the writing duo of Chondra Echert and Claudio Sanchez attempts to explore. At leas that’s where I think the series is going. The first issue is but a piece of the bigger puzzle, of which I can’t tell you exactly what the picture is. That I think sums up the first issue. It has a lot of great moments, and some choppy flashbacks, that form the beginning of what potentially will be an interesting narrative. The idea of choice, and how these two characters got where they are is peppered throughout the issue. Seeing the reveal of that will be the highlight, what really drove each of the characters into the direction of good or evil.

In the promotion we’re told the series explores the thin line between heroes and villains, and the space between childhood hope and loss. That’s a topic that’s been tread a few times before, and a new take it always welcome and interesting. The issue has a solid build introducing us to the various players and building to one hell of an ending, one I have no idea where the series goes from here.

I think the gripe I have with the issue is that it is just one issue. Reading it front to back, I’m left feeling that it’s possible the story might read better as a trade or if it were released in one shot as a graphic novel.  There’s a lot in this issue though. The feeling I have stems from the flashbacks, while hinting at things, don’t quite have enough of a pay off, or impact the story of the first issue enough to really make sense, or not feel choppy.

The art is solid, and Daniel Bayliss‘ addition adds a kinetic energy that fits the vibe of the characters and world. The character design is interesting and how The Navigator’s gear works, and how that’s presented, definitely has me intrigued.

Overall, the first issue takes a concept we’ve seen before, and presents it in an interesting way to start. It’s just a sliver of the bigger picture and larger story, and I finished the first issue wishing I could just read it all at once. That being said, Echert and Sanchez have produced some epic series in the past, and I expect no less of this one. Add in Bayliss’ art, and you’ve got an intriguing series that I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

 

Story: Chondra Echert and Claudio Sanchez Art: Daniel Bayliss
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Interview: Cullen Bunn Discusses The Empty Man

BOOM_Empty_Man_001_ACullen Bunn is a popular writer having penned books for what seems like almost every major publisher out there. On top of his current various ongoing gigs, Bunn will soon get you to say “the Empty Man made me do it.” The Empty Man is his new series from BOOM! Studios. The series debuts in June with art provided by Vanesa R. Del Rey.

It’s been one year since the first reported case of the Empty Man disease, and no drug has been able to slow its progress. The cause is unknown, and the symptoms include fits of rage, hideous hallucinations, suicidal dementia, followed by death, or a near lifeless, “empty” state of catatonia. As murder cults rise nationwide, the FBI and CDC enter a joint investigation of the Empty Man, hoping to piece together clues to stop the cult and uncover a cure.

Though the comic doesn’t debut for a few months, we  got a chance to talk to Bunn about how the series came about, and what we can expect!

Graphic Policy: For those who don’t know what the series is, how would you describe it to them?

Cullen Bunn: The Empty Man is a J-Horror police procedural. It’s the story of this terrifying new virus—a kind of contagious insanity—that is sweeping across the world. It is the cause of ghastly hallucinations and terrible acts of violence. There’s no known cause and no cure in sight, and many people have started to view the disease almost as if it were a deity.

GP: Where did the concept of the series come from?

CB: The first inkling of this idea came to me while on a road trip. While my mind was wandering, the phrase, “The Empty Man made me do it” popped into my head. For whatever reason, I couldn’t shake that phrase. It spawned a number of strange ideas, some of which fused together to become the initial story of The Empty Man. The first scene that I wrote for the series was put to paper several years ago. Even though the series has gone through some changes, that first scene still remains pretty much the same.

GP: The series is described as J-Horror and Contagion meets Law & Order. From what I’ve seen so far, it has a bit of an X-Files vibe to it too. What are some of the influences to the story and vibe of the series?

CB: I think all of those influences are valid, for sure. Others might include the old show Millenium or movies like Jacob’s Ladder or The Ring. After the series was announced, I heard a few people compare it to True Detective. I can see the connections, actually, even though I first started developing this series years ago. I have, however, been watching True Detective in the last couple of weeks, and I think there are obvious comparisons, especially in terms of mood and the more surreal moments.

BOOM_Empty_Man_001_BGP: From the little that’s been released, there’s a cult that seems to be helping spread the Empty Man disease. That has a bit of a vibe as far as anti-vaccers and reemergence of some nasty diseases due to that movement. Has that influenced this at all?

CB: I wondered if anyone would pick up on that! Yes, the whole anti-vaccine movement was one of the initial influences on the idea of how illnesses might be viewed. And when I started thinking of The Empty Man as having religious qualities, that opened the floodgates in terms of where I might go with it. Of course, this is all taken to an ultimate extreme. In this world, there are dozens of cults/religious movements that have sprung up in the wake of the virus, all of them with their own take on the disease. Some are strange. Some are very dangerous.

GP: What can you tell us about the main protagonists? In the solicitation, we know one’s a CDC agent and the other FBI.

CB: We experience this story mostly through the eyes of Walter Langford, an agent of the CDC, and Monica Jensen, an agent with the FBI. Because the Empty Man has characteristics of a disease and a dangerous cult, the two organizations have put together a special task force to engage in the investigation. They’re a bit of an old couple, and not just because they work for different governmental branches. Walter is a little disillusioned with his lot in life… and with how the government is handling the Empty Man. He’s a little laid back and plays things a little more loosely. Jensen, on the other hand, is all business. She follows the rules.

GP: How much did you look into as far as how the CDC or FBI might work, and work together, in a situation like this?

CB: I did some research, but at some point I realized this is really a “fantasy” world I’ve created, so that let me break away from that and focus more on the story of these characters. I suppose you might say I did enough research to make me dangerous, but I’d say I did just enough to make the world seem kind of realistic. The rest I made up as I went along.

GP: How much of the story is the team trying to track down patient zero versus finding a cure or vaccine to protect everyone?

CB: The story we’ll be following will actually be a little more immediate. We’re not focusing on finding patient zero or finding the cure. Those are stories I’d like to tell, but for now I was more interested in using that as a backdrop for another story of these characters. We’re picking up at the beginning of the investigation of a new Empty Man incident. This one, though, is a little different than others. What we find is that the disease has started to change (as viruses tend to do) and is becoming more dangerous.

GP: Vanesa R. Del Ray is providing art for the series. How’d she come aboard the project?

CB: A while back, I started searching through comics to find artists that I might want to work with. Vanesa was one of the artists on that list. Still, it was BOOM! that suggested her as an artist for this series. In that way, it was a happy coincidence.

GP: How long have you been working on the project and how much of it do you have planned out?

CB: As I mentioned earlier, this is a series I’ve had in mind for a long while. I have the first six-issue series planned out in what I think will present a satisfying story. But there are many, many more stories I’d like to tell in this world if I’m given the chance.

GP: You’ve got a lot of projects going on this year, what else can folks expect from you in 2014?

CB: Well, I’m writing Magneto for Marvel and Sinestro for DC. I’ll also be continuing the story of The Sixth Gun, which is rapidly approaching its 50th (and final) issue. I’m also writing Brides of Helheim and Hellbreak, both series with lots of action and horror. There are a few other projects in the works, too, but I’m sworn to secrecy!

Kickstarter Spotlight: Utopiates Audio! Haunted Taxis! Dark Tales! Red Ten! And More!

It’s been a while since we’ve done a Kickstarter spotlight, partially because I’ve become rather negative on the site due to delayed projects, vapor ware, and lack of accountability. However, we’ve been hit up to help promoted numerous projects, many from folks I know will come through! So, I feel a bit better about promoting these, as I feel myself, and this site, is responsible for your experience if you decide to pledge due to our post. Check out below to see what might be worthy of your dollar!

utopiatesUtopiates Audio Drama

What it is: Sex, Drugs, and Biotech: Welcome to the future, where the only escape is at the tip of a dream needle. This project takes the solid graphic novel and gives it an audio drama spin courtesy of Audio Comics. The project also features Denise Poirier, who was the voice of Aeon Flux!

Why I like it: So far I’ve been digging the audio comics I’ve heard. It’s a new way to experience the stories we enjoy and expanding out is never a bad thing. I’ve also read the graphic novel being adapted and it’s a fun read. Seeing how it converts into an audio drama will be rather cool.

Best Pledge: $25 gets you a mp3 download of the audio drama, the soundtrack, wallpapers, and avatars, as well as a signed copy of the graphic novel it’s based off of.

Risk: LOW – Audio Comics is a professional company and they’ve done this sort of work before. I don’t expect a lot of issues.

playing cardsThe World of Cassyno – Playing Cards by BENGAL

What it is: A stunning deck of playing cards featuring original character designs and lore by the comic illustrator & founder of CFSL! Far from just another deck of playing cards, this set is as much a gallery of original character art by Bengal, as well as the fantastic setting for numerous stories of magical intrigue, medieval espionage, and dramatic conflict between four unique kingdoms. Each face card, plus the “knight” (the 10 card), features a key character from the world, each of whom possessing both strengths and weaknesses, allies and foes, allowing for unique original gameplay as well as an abundance of exciting stories to tell.  With 20 original characters to draw from, the dramatic combinations are outstanding.

Why I like it: You can never have too many decks of cards, plus the bonus of some games. Plus, you get some stunning artwork to stare out while using it.

Best Pledge: $15 gets you the deck of cards plus a bonus joker card!

Risk: LOW – They’ve got vendors to print and for the materials, and the game design should be pretty simple. I think this out has a nice lead time that’ll give them some padding to make it all happen.

cyrus perkinsCyrus Perkins and the Haunted Taxi Cab

What it is: After a young boy dies in his taxi cab, Cyrus Perkins must solve the boy’s murder… or be haunted by the spirit trapped in his car! Cyrus Perkins and the Haunted Taxi Cab is a four issue supernatural crime noir comic series. When a young boy named Michael dies from a gunshot wound in his taxi cab, Cyrus Perkins is thrust to the role of unlikely hero as Michael’s spirit is trapped in his cab. Cyrus must solve his murder, and give him the peace to pass into the afterlife.

The project brings together some of the Action Lab team. Dave Dwonch has been a comics writer and artist producing indie titles for over a decade. In 2010 he founded Action Lab Entertainment with fellow indie mavericks and as Creative Director for Action Lab helped produce several of their titles including the Eisner nominated series Princeless. Recently he penned several titles, most notably Vamplets (with Gayle “My Little Pony” Middleton), Ghost Town, and CBR’s Top 100 of 2013 series Double Jumpers.

A graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, Anna Lencioni has been working as a sequential artist on such titles as NFL Rush Zone and Miss America. Cyrus Perkins is her first long form project.

Why I like it: The Action Lab team has been putting out quality comics and I expect no less from them when it comes to this!

Best Pledge: $20 gets you a Kickstarter edition of the first issue signed by the series’ creator Dave Dwonch!

Risk: LOW – The team says they’re halfway done with the project, so I don’t expect too many problems. These are comic professionals who have met deadlines before!

the red ten vol 1 hardcoverThe Red Ten – Volume 1 Hardcover

What it is: When the world’s greatest detective is violently murdered, her corporate-backed super team and former sidekick band together to bring her killer to justice. However, the mission goes terribly wrong, and before the night is out, each of the ten “heroes” will pay dearly for past transgressions. This is Agatha Christie’s classic story Ten Little Indians transformed into a story with super heros!

The issues are done, so this is to help raise the bare minimum money needed to print a small run of a premium hardcover version of the series.

Why I like it: I’ve read the issues so far and they’re solid work by a great independent small publisher. This is exactly the type of project Kickstarter was made for.

Best Pledge: $25 gets you the printed hardcover of the book. That’s kind of the point of the project….

Risk: LOW – These guys have done numerous projects before and they’ve gone off without a hitch and the comic is completed, it just needs to be printed!

the dark tales of the brothers harrowThe Dark Tales of the Brothers Harrow

What it is: Two titles. Two worlds. Two epic stories that push the boundaries of the graphic novel medium, all contained in one book. The Dark Tales of the Brothers Harrow Volume 1 collects the first two issues of two sci-fi fantasy titles – The Delta and Avalon: The World Within. It contains over 130 pages of beautifully cinematic comic goodness.

Why I like it: The art looks pretty solid in this book and if it’s printed as shown, that’s a beautiful book to add to any comic collection.

Best Pledge: $40 this gets you the paperback version of volume one and a digital version as well. Also included are wallpapers  and a “special” thank you.

Risk: MEDIUM – This is their first Kickstarter project and I don’t know much about the company as well. The visuals though are solid which is why it’s included here. My guess is the project will be late if anything, but prices seem high enough that the money projects should be covered to produce and ship.

all kings menAll the King’s Men

What it is: A huge dystopic science-fiction anthology of comics and prose that features award-winning contributors, and pays fairly for their work.

All The King’s Men is a science-fiction anthology. It’s planned to run a mammoth 300 pages, a combination of short prose stories and black and white comics, all stories loosely linked together by theme and/or setting.

All proceeds from this Kickstarter campaign will be used to pay those contributors for their work. There will be no working for exposure, no working for royalties that might never materialise; if it’s good enough to get in the book, it’s worth paying for.

Why I like it: The paying the contributors for their work is what stood out to me. The project sounds ambitious, but that part gets it a bump from here.

Best Pledge: $35 AUD gets you a paperback copy as well as a digital copy of the book.

Risk: HIGH – While May 2015 is a hell of a time frame to get this done, I’ve notice anthologies tend to have a lot of issues on Kickstarter. Expect this one to be delayed or the line up of creators to change.

Review: Superior Spider-Man #31

SSMCOV31“I was wrong. For me to even be here–someone had to die.
– Peter Parker (the real one)

Superior Spider-Man has finally come to an end. The thirty-one issue superhero story is one of the best of I have ever read and will definitely be remembered as a very important moment in the timeline of our favorite web-slinger. I was surprised to learn that quite a few people I spoke to about the series were a little confused by what transpired in issue #30 and how Peter took back his body from Doc Ock. Before I summarize and review #31 let’s go back and I’ll explain what exactly happened in the last issue real quick. Dan Slott did a fantastic job with this thirty-one issue Spider-Man story and it would be a shame to not understand the little nuances that made it so…well…superior.

Issue #30 confused a lot of folks and left people wondering if it was Doc Ock who did the valiant thing and gave up his seat of power as the Superior Spider-Man or if it was Peter Parker’s doing and he duped the brilliant scientist Dr. Octopus? Well, in my opinion, it was a harmony of both of those. If you remember back in Amazing Spider-Man #700, Peter/Ock died and Peter’s fans and followers let out a unanimous “gasp” that one of their favorite Avengers finally succumbed to Doc’s evil plan. However, We learn later on that a part of Peter still lived on the brain of Doc/Spidey. Then in the infamous issue #9, it appeared as though the tiny remnant of Peter that we desperately wanted to cling to for hope vanished as Doc went into his brain and defeated Peter for good. I know, this is going to get a little confusing, but it will be worth it.

We all thought Peter was gone for good (most of us, anyway) until he showed up back in Doc/Spidey’s brain, during The Darkest Hours arc, to help take care of Venom because things were getting a little too crazy for Doc as Superior. And the world rejoiced. Which brings us to issue #30 and the part that confused a lot of people. If you look closely Peter’s plan all along was to hold onto the key moments in his life as Spider-Man, the parts that really defined him. Their are actually 31 of those moments, which, is why Slott made Superior 31 issues long. So, what Peter planned to do was go through Doc’s timeline, but, not lose himself by remembering the key moments he held onto as ASM; he’s fighting all the memories that are not his – we can clearly see that. Note that Doc is fighting this from happening, also. When Peter gets to the point on Doc’s timeline where we reach ASM #700 Peter doesn’t fight anymore and lets it all in realizing that those are his memories. This is why I say the FINAL switch was a harmonious result of both Doc and Peter. Doc finally decides that he is not the hero Peter is and Peter does what he planned to get his memories back. It was a perfect resolution by Slott. If this is still a little confusing, please comment below and I would love to clarify any questions you might have

This brings us to the heroic tale of Issue #31 and Peter back in his original body. The final issue of Superior Spider-Man is basically a cleaning up and restart for the much anticipated ASM #1 that will be released in a few weeks. Peter’s first task is to find out how the Goblin became so powerful so quickly. Carlie tells him that he hacked Doc Ock’s Spider-bots to not recognize anything with a Goblin mask or logo on. Peter immediately gets to work to get his city back and save the people he loves and the people that love him. In brilliant fashion, Peter goes to save Miguel O’Hara from the Spider Slayers, so he can have someone like himself fighting with him to take down the Goblin. They take down Menace and Peter injects her with the serum that Doc created to reverse the effects of what makes her a Goblin. Peter attempts the same with the Goblin, who is in fact Norman Osborn, but he admits to changing his face to become unrecognizable. The spider-bots were reprogrammed and fitted with Goblin-serum and attacked Osborn. Just like that there is no more Goblin.

The issue does a great job at setting up the next arc in the franchise and resetting things for Peter to take the reigns once again. It will be nice to have him back, but I will admit that Doc Ock as Spidey will be missed. We will definitely keep an eye out for him in the future as well as Stone, Liz Allan and Norman. I really enjoyed Doc’s time as Spider-Man and I had hoped that there would room enough in this city for both of them. That would have been really neat to see and, who know, maybe Doc Ock will make another superior outfit and challenge Peter once again. One thing is for sure, however, the next time these two meet will be one superior…amazing…awesome issue.

It goes without saying that fine lines and perfect colors are a perfect match for Slott’s unique writing skills. Giuseppe Camuncoli draws the most incredible Spider-Man issues and every issue is a treat to look at. John Dell and Terry Pallot are amazing on ink and, well, everything about this team is awesome. When I find myself staring at each page in awe I tell myself that this has to be one of the best teams in comics today. All of that would be nothing colors by Antonio Fabela and letters by Chir Eliopolous.

And lastly, Anna Maria Marconi does get saved by Peter and her confession of love for Doc/Spider really touches him. He realizes that Doc did a good job even if he couldn’t complete it. Maybe people can change? He understands the sacrifice Doc had to make to save the people he loved and Peter contemplate that someone had to die in order for him to become the Amazing Spider-Man again. That someone was the Superior Spider-Man, but in the end, it’s Peter who was Superior all along. Welcome back Peter. Welcome home.

Thoughts and Discussion

– Where is Doc Ock? Will he be a villain fighting Peter again? Will he be a good guy for now?

– What will happen with the Goblin now? Will he turn back the effects of the serum that Parker injected him with?

– What are J. Jonah Jameson’s plans? Will he hold a grudge against Spidey and be a new antagonist?

– Will Peter put a fail-safe in place so the brain-swap won’t happen again?

Thanks for checking

Story: Dan Slott – Script: Christos Gage – Art/Cover: Giuseppe Camuncoli – Ink: John Dell & Terry Pallot – Color: Antonio Fabela – Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Toy Review: Dillon, you son of a bitch! A review of NECA’s Jungle Disguise Dutch from Predator

I want to welcome Garry who will be taking on the challenge of expanding Graphic Policy’s toy coverage! You can find him regularly blogging at The Tell Tale Mind. Welcome Garry! – Brett

With that line, we were all introduced to one of the greatest bromances in movie history. To honor this relationship, movie, and franchise let’s take a look at NECA’s Jungle Disguise Dutch from the Predator series.

Dutchpack

The packaging on this particular figure had seen better days. It was sitting in back of a storeroom at my local comic store for a while before hitting the shelves. I had seen this in the store before but didn’t have the means to pick It up (*cough* money *cough*). I thought I had missed my chance until I walked in and saw this dinged package calling my name. The front and back feature some nice close-up shots of the figure and the series line-up is also shown. A plot synopsis for the movie is on the reverse but you’ve all seen Predator right? If not, why? Go watch it then come back. This review will still be here.

DutchFB

LOOK AT IT!!!!!!! JUST LOOK AT IT!!!!!!!! This is a 6” scale action figure. This is not a Hot Toys or Sideshow Collectibles release. This isn’t even a NECA Quarter scale figure. This is a 6” INCH action figure that is available at mass market retail. I was blown away when I picked up this figure. I couldn’t believe that NECA was able to produce a sculpt this detailed on such a scale. Even if you ignore the muscle structure and texturing on the torso (which you shouldn’t), LOOK AT HIS FACE! This has got to be one of the absolute best Arnold likeness made in any scale, ever. NECA has some talented sculptors on staff and this figure is a showpiece for that talent. The muscle definition is outstanding. Arnie wasn’t Conan-sized in Predator and this figure captures his veiny, lean, and muscular physique very nicely. The layers of mud present on the torso also help create a sense of depth. The lower torso features a great army pant design that is full of belts, pockets, buckles, stitching, and seams. On a whole, the sculpt is as near perfect as one could ever ask for. Dutch comes loaded with accessories too. You get a bow, arrows, grenade staffs, spear, pouch and torch. The value packed into this figure is leaps and bounds above others in this scale. NECA is one of the few toy makes who haven’t forgotten that accessories are an important part of an action figure.

DutchFrame

Over the years, NECA has improved greatly on the articulation of its figures. Dutch continues that fine endeavour. Human figures are always hard to articulate while maintaining the integrity of the sculpt. Shitless and muscular figures are even more difficult. The lower half has great rocker ankles, hinged and rotating knees, and ball joint hips. Tight joints allow Dutch to be posed very easily and stay standing without any external support. This is something NECA has had issues with in the past. Thankfully, Dutch stays right were you put him. The upper body has waist swivel, rocker ab, socket shoulders, hinge/rotating elbows and rotating wrists with a slight hinge to them. There is no cut bicep on this figure. A joint that I assume was left out in order to preserve the sculpt. The elbow joint may end up looking a little unusual, depending on how the figure is posed. At a right angle, the top half of the arm creates a small lip between the lower half. This may have been unavoidable given the design of figure. I played around with varies poses for Dutch holding his weapons and settled on the one you see in the pictures. All of the possible display options looked great and there is no wrong way to display this figure.

DutchDetail

Dat face! To cap everything off Dutch features a beautiful paint job. The camouflage pants have a great forest/jungle deco on them. Although given the part of the movie this figure is from, some mud paint applications on the pants could have been added. One issue I’ve had with NECA’s other Predator figures is the unpainted hip joints. The ball joints are left in the casting colour and do stand out when posed in such a way as to expose them. Hopefully NECA may start painting these or casting them in a more suitable colour for the figure. The torso and head are outstanding. Just look at the photo! The layering of browns, greys, and coppers create a deep and complex appearance. Re-creating the look of layers upon layers of mud and jungle is achieved without a single sloppy brush stroke or any colour bleeding. How the folks at NECA achieve this is beyond me. All the accessories feature great paint apps as well. The twine used to hold the knife on the spear has a nice metallic look and the pouch is a nice contrasting green. Once you look closely at the face you’ll notice even more incredible paint work. Arnie’s intense eyes were always a prominent feature in the movie and this figure does a great job capturing that intensity. The contrast between the mud on the face and the whites of the eyes really make them pop. The small bit of blood trickling from his lip is a great touch that shows off NECA’s attention to detail.

There really isn’t much more to say. This truly is an incredible action figure. The likeness of the character is near perfect, it comes loaded with accessories, features a rich paint scheme, and solid articulation. What else could you ask for? Jungle Disguise Dutch was released last year and had I picked it up then, it would have been my figure of the year (and I got quite a few great figures last year). As it stands though, it’ll probably be my pick for best figure of this year. There are plenty of great figures coming out but I can’t imagine anything coming together so perfectly as to challenge Dutch here. I have no idea how the artists (and they are artists) at NECA keep making such incredible figures. If I ever get the chance to meet Randy Falk I want to shake his hand and say thank you for everyone’s incredible work. This figure exemplifies all the things I love about this hobby and it is a welcome addition to my collection.

Interview: Women of BOOM! – Nichol Ashworth

Upside-downIt’s Thursday which brings us a new interview and our 25th “Women of BOOM!” feature, spotlighting the many kick-ass women that work at BOOM!, Archaia and KaBOOM! We’re focusing on everyone, editors, designers, writers, artists, you name it! We’re making sure to include the hard-working folks whose contributions are often overlooked in the process.

BOOM! (and KaBOOM! and Archaia) has given us unprecedented access and the chance to ask questions to their staff, and creative teams, to find out why the publisher is so successful in hiring women and their experiences in the comic industry as women.

Nichol Ashworth is a writer and artist who has worked on Fraggle Rock volume 1 and 2 for Archaia.

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

Nichol Ashworth: My degree is actually in animation. Though I LOVE animation, I found it (surprisingly) monotonous to illustrate 24 pictures per second. I turned to comic books as a way to still tell wonderful stories – just without so many in-betweens.

GP: Did you read comics growing up? Do you read them now? 

NA: Not until I was in college, actually. From then on I became addicted! My poor fiancée looks upon our home (that is becoming ever-crowded with more and more bookshelves) with a deepening resolve to read less books to make up for my over abundance.

Fraggle Rock v2 003 Cover AGP: How did you come to work with BOOM!/Archaia? 

NA: I had prior relationships with the magnificent Tim Beedle, who edited the Fraggle Rock title for Archaia. We met each other when I was submitting/doing work for Tokyopop and got along quite famously! He knew that I was a true Fraggle fan, down to my tootsies, so he gave me a shot to pitch for the series. I was able to write for a story of volume one and do artwork for a story in volume 2. I laughed, I cried… and then I danced my cares away. :)

GP: How would you describe your job for people? 

NA: It’s a little like giving birth, a little like being an overachieving successful communicator and a little bit like being lost in self-depreciation. I guess what I mean to say is that, the process of creation comes with highs and lows – and you need to embrace that as a part of the process. It is really fun to tell people what I do, though. It’s not something you hear from people every day… and it may or may not be cooler than being a proctologist.

GP: For people who want to pursue a career in what you do, what advice would you give them? 

NA: Never give up. Your successes may be nil at first, or may come more slowly than you wish… but never stop trying. Also, never stop giving yourself the opportunity to learn from others. Listen. There’s a saying that “God gave you two ears and only one mouth for a reason”… but I think I also like the one that says, “The more you talk, the more you’re re-hearing what you already know. The more you listen to successful people, the more options you’ve now found for new success.”

GP: Did you have a mentor to help you break into the industry? Do you mentor anyone yourself? 

NA: Again, I must bow to the almighty Tim Beedle. More than a mentor, he is also now my very good friend. He helped me break in, helped me stay in and is always there for some good feedback and a swift kick in the ass, when appropriate. While mentorship is a huge word and I wouldn’t be comfortable putting myself in that position of godlike power, I will say that I have paid it forward. I’ve helped people make industry connections, gone back to my high school and college to teach and even currently work together with an aspiring teenage writer to help her stay focused and motivated.

GP: Do you think women have a more difficult time breaking in and making it in the comic industry, if so why? And if yes, how do you think that can be overcome?  

NA: I think that one of the reasons that breaking in/staying in has worked well for me is that I haven’t tried to be a part of the Marvel/DC creator world. Smaller publishers seem more open to creating relationships with women, in my opinion. That being said – I’ve never actually tried for a Marvel or DC job… so perhaps I would get one, if I tried hard enough! :)

GP: We notice that when it comes to women in the comic industry, BOOM!/Archaia has a lot of diversity present. Why do you think have they succeeded when so many other publishers struggle with this? 

NA: My work relationships with these lovely human beings has always been very positive, productive and personable. I’m treated like an equal. In fact, the people I’ve been blessed to work with have all seemed just as excited to work in the industry as I am, so there’s a great energy and synergy that comes from that. Except for reading about other women’s struggles in the industry, I wouldn’t have known there was an issue!

GP: We’ve heard horror stories concerning women in the industry, have you ever seen or been discriminated/harassed and if so, how did you handle it?  

NA: In this particular industry, I’ve personally had no issues… but I also work in the Real Estate Investor industry and the Software Security industry. Both of those can get intense. Discrimination and harassment both abound.

GP: What advice do you have for women looking to break into the comic book industry? 

NA: My advice is the same as the answer to question #5. Plus, an added push to “prove them wrong”. If someone is a misogynist, that’s not your fault – don’t put any added stress or self-hate on yourself. That being said, don’t let it stop you, either. Don’t use it as a crutch that helps you explain away why you’re not getting what you want. Just make your work. If the work is good and you’re a good person to work with, the rest will come. Like anything, it just takes time and also, like any modern business, it’s partly about who you know. So, NETWORK, ladies! Make friends! Be responsive when called on and do your work well / on time. If people like to work with you once, they’ll usually work with you again! (And brag about you to others!)

 

TV Review: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Ep. 18 – Providence

Warning Spoilers Ahead

Agents_of_SHIELD_logoWith the end of last week’s episode still ringing this week’s episode opens with S.H.I.E.L.D. still weakened and battered. Coulson seems to be in charge and is assessing where the organization stands, and what assets they still have. The answer is very few. The organization has also now been branded a “terrorist” organization, on the run, and off fighting Hydra. This drives the team to go underground and on the run, erasing their identities.

With Colonel Glenn Talbot now on their trail, Coulson and his team seek refuge in the last place anyone would look, where they begin to uncover S.H.I.E.L.D.’S most dangerous secrets — secrets that could destroy them all.

What’s also nice is we get to follow up with Grant and Garrett where it’s confirmed that Garrett is indeed the Clairvoyant. Some of the earlier plot lines, and individuals captured, is revisited, now with a fully active and in charge Hydra backing them up. With S.H.I.E.L.D. broke, Garrett decides to not only free some folks, but also go shopping and grab loose weapons and various S.H.I.E.L.D. facilities.

With Coulson’s S.H.I.E.L.D. team on the run, a cryptic message is sent, sending the team to an unknown location. Who sent the coordinates? We’re not quite sure, but Coulson is convinced they’re from Fury himself. This leads them to a snowy location in the middle of nowhere.

Coulson learns the truth about Fury when he meets an isolated S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in the location they stumble upon.

While last week’s episode was an improvement, this week’s writing, acting, everything is leaps and bounds above what’s come before. It’s night and day from what we saw here and what came before. There was more than enough moments to make this episode satisfying, and the highlight of the season so far.

Writer: Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, Brent Fletcher
Overall Score: 8.25

Medikidz Makes Healthcare Understandable Through Comics

type-1-diabetes-2nd-edMedikidz has a unique mission. They’re out to create a global community of young people who are informed, empowered and health-aware. A lofty ambition for sure, but here comes the fun part…they are using comics to do it!

Comic as education is nothing new. However comics as innovative resources for medical professionals, patients, and caretakers around the globe is on a whole different level. To-date, the UK based company has distributed over 3 million copies of their unique comic books worldwide. In 2011, they took on AIDS in Africa reaching over 100,000 young people in clinics across Swaziland, a region plagued with the highest number of HIV patients in the world. In 2012, the company’s two FEMALE CEO’s were celebrated on International Woman’s Day as leader’s in the New Zealand medical field. In 2013, they went digital with MediKidz Explain Type 1 Diabetes available on both iOS and Android platforms, and they brought their team of 5 larger-than-life superheroes to the USA.

Their comics run a range of topics, from ADHD, cancer, depression, allergies and more, the comics take complicated topics and make them easier to understand for individuals. The content is written by and peer reviewed by medical doctors to make sure it’s accurate.

Their recent release,MediKidz Explain Epilepsy is a unique title for the brand. Thanks to the help from The Epilepsy Foundation of New Jersey the company created a comic book around a real-life case study; a 14-year-old patient named Jack. Jack was brought on board to help advise the Medikidz team of medical and comic book professionals about the ins-and-outs of living with epilepsy as a teenager. The 32-page full color comic book has since become another invaluable resource for people of all-ages diagnosed with epilepsy. In fact, thanks to a MediKidz presentation at Jack’s school late last year, a female classmate who read the book realised that she was also experiencing seizures, and is now getting the right treatment for her own epilepsy diagnosis!

You’ve got to like a comic that educates and can help folks out as well! This is a company that takes the idea that the hero “saves the day” literally.

Medikidz_in_action

Review: Flash Gordon #1

Flash01-Cov-ShalveyFlash Gordon never fit in on Earth. But on the bizarre planet Mongo, Flash’s thirst for thrills and daring danger makes him the perfect weapon against world-breaking Ming the Merciless and his awful inter-planetary swarms of terror! Can the cocksure Man From Earth funnel his overconfidence into saving worlds, or will the universe fall to Ming?

I’m a Flash Gordon fan, ever since I read the old pulp comics from back in the day and seeing the campy 80s movie. After all, he did save every one of us…. how could you night like him? Going into this first issue, my expectations were high, as I had hopes we’d see some pulp action fun. The results though, are a bit mixed. There are lots of it I like and some I didn’t.

This isn’t quite a throwback comic. Flash Gordon himself is updated as an extreme sports, death-defying character, which is fine, but in the glimpse we see of him from Earth, it doesn’t quite explain his ability to deftly maneuver a plane. Dale is still a reporter, and Zarkov is still a mad scientist. As far as characters, Flash’s change as far as how he spends his time seems to be about all that’s changed. For long time fans, writer Jeff Parker quickly goes through our three main protagonists on Earth, before throwing them into being chased on Mongo. What happened that they got there? Why are they being chased? What the hell happened!? We’re not really outright told. There’s a break in time and we’re left as readers to imagine and fill in the gaps, and that’s my complaint with the issue. There’s lots of “pulp” action, but by getting us there, the progression of the story is a bit choppy.

But, Parker through all of that action, shows us the various worlds of Mongo and how they fit together in this vision of the Gordon adventure. Portals take you from world to world, which works quite well, and gives our three characters a solid goal, to find or open a portal to Earth and return.

The vision of those worlds, and the beings that inhabit them, is brought to us by Evan Shaner, which gives us a modern pulp feel. Shaner doesn’t attempt to mimic a classic style, instead the comic is given a solid update, but it still fits its pulp roots. Overall, the look is fun so far. The design of the three main characters though are classic and for those who are long time fans, they are instantly recognizable.

Overall, this debut is decent. It didn’t quite blow me away, but as an opening scene before the movie credits, it gives us some fun and excitement. For new readers, I can’t imagine they’ll be hooked, but for those who are fans of classic Flash Gordon tales, it looks like Parker is more than up for the challenge to give us a new spin on an old classic.

Story: Jeff Parker Art: Evan Shaner
Story: 7.25 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.25 Recommendation: Read

Dynamite Entertainment provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Transformers: Windblade #1 (of 4)

TF_Windblade01_cvrADark Cybertron is over, now begins the Dawn of the Autobots! IDW‘s fantastic Transformers event is over, and now we get the explore the aftermath. It’s been six months, and Cybertron is attempting to recover. At the center of it is Metroplex, barely surviving the battle that’s taken place. Taking care of the titan is Windblade, a mysterious female Transformer acting as a “Cityspeaker” the voice of Metroplex, who at this point has none.

But, who is Windblade!? Where did she come from—and what does her secret mean to the future of the Transformers?

Dark Cybertron brought us so much, including three “female” Transformers, of which we know little. This first issue slowly begins to give us the answers to all of those questions we have, at the same time moving the Transformers mythology into the next chapter. There’s something fitting that this chapter begins with the introduction of this new character in her own mini-series. It opens the doors in so many ways.

I can go on how it’s awesome to see the spotlight shone on the character fans voted for. I can say it’s awesome how we get some diversity in gender for this take on the Transformers universe. But, writer Mairghread Scott has made all of that so natural that none of it feels forced. The introduction of Windblade, and her companions, was effortlessly slid into the past mega-event. But, the history presented here in this first issue opens up the possibilities, and gives us hints at even more Transformers history. It all blends in well, and doesn’t come off as a forced ret-con.

Artist Sarah Stone‘s style is a departure from what we’ve seen for quite a while when it comes to IDW’s Transformers comics, and it too is a welcome change. The style, plus the coloring creates beautiful pages I found myself lingering on. It’s reminds me more of what we’ve seen in the Transformers Prime television show, but it works, and works well.

A powerful new chapter in the Transformers saga begins here! This is a comic no Transformers fan should miss!

Story: Mairghread Scott Art: Sarah Stone
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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