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Fan Expo Interviews: Lee Scion

Fan Expo Toronto will be taking place this year between September 3rd and 6th, and Graphic Policy had the opportunity to talk with a few of their featured guests before the beginning of the convention.  We got to talk to Lee Scion, an outstanding cosplayer who is one of the featured cosplayers at the event.  She will be showcasing new costumes as well as conducting seminars on cosplay.

Graphic Policy:  Can you tell us what your first costume was?  And how did it turn out?

lee003Lee Scion:  Though I had made myself Halloween costumes before, my first actual cosplay was Lulu from Final Fantasy X. It was hands down the largest project I had tackled at that point. I wasn’t sure how much time I actually needed, and truthfully I was really bad for procrastinating on actual construction because I grossly underestimated how long I would need.  Because of that some of the details I wanted to include (such as hand embroidered trim) had to be scrapped. I did however manage to completely hand make my wig, get the dress done and make my first corset. All in all I am proud of what I did for that costume with the time and skill set I had back then. However, I would one day like to completely redo the costume.

GP:  What skills do you consider to be most your most useful when creating a costume?

LS:  I am luckily very good with pattern drafting and sewing, so anything that is a fabric garment I am generally very apt at making. This comes in super handy as it is almost impossible to find suitable patterns for most costumes. I love projects that are sewing heavy and very structured pieces such as corsets and properly tailored coats, so having strong sewing skills makes those type of projects a lot easier!

GP:  Does being a cosplayer give you a different perspective on what life would be like for a superhero?

LS:  That is a tough one to answer, I am not sure I would say it does. On some level I can say I understand what it’s like to put on a costume and run around being someone I’m not in everyday life, however when it comes down to it I don’t have superpowers, I don’t change the world, and no one is trying to kill me (that I know of). I’m just me.. in a costume.

lee005GP:  Part of the illusion of cosplay is not only the costume but the setting.  If you could choose any real world setting for a photo shoot, where would you go and which character would you choose?

LS:  The place I think I would be most interested in shooting, could I do a photoshoot anywhere on earth, would be the Five Flower Lake in the Jiuzhaigou Valley nature reserve in Sichuan, China. The lake itself is shallow and perfectly clear with dozens of ancient trees sitting just below the surface. It has a very unearthly feel to it and one of my dream photoshoots would be recreating Aerith’s death scene from Final Fantasy VII in a lake such as Five Flower. Jiuzhaigou Valley is however a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve, so interacting with the lakes and other nature within the park is strictly prohibited. Meaning this is a dream photoshoot I know will never happen.

GP:  One of the biggest developments for comics in recent years is the resurgence of comic book movies.  Does having such lifelike looking characters on the big screen force cosplayers to modify their approach?

LS:  I wouldn’t say movie versions of characters force cosplayers to modify their approach. However, they do offer another version of their favourite characters they can create. Comic book characters in particular tend to have many different outfits giving cosplayers a wide variety of options for exactly what they wish to do. I always appreciate having the option of recreating the very detailed costume designed for comic book movies, but also having the option of creating something much more graphic and closer to the comic artwork.

When you are creating a garment that someone else has actually made you can look and see exactly how it was made: where the seams are, what materials they chose, how pieces attach. When you create something based solely on a drawing however you are often tasked with figuring out how things have to go together, as most comic book artists don’t have to consider how, or even if, their clothes will work in the real world. I find this gives artwork inspired costume a much more personalised feel than those of direct garment recreations.

lee004GP:  Crossplay is catching on quite a bit as well, but it is probably more accepting for the girls than the guys.  Any advice for the guys dressing up as their favorite female character?

LS:  My advice for men who want to crossplay as their favourite female characters is do what makes you happy! Cosplay should never be for anyone but yourself, so you shouldn’t worry about what other people think. There is always going to be someone who dislikes what you are doing, no matter how perfect you are, so just do what makes you happy!

Some crossplayers like to go all out, shave their legs, contour their faces to look more feminine and pad out their bodies to make a more womanly shape. There are many amazing tutorials out there for how to achieve this, and if you delve into the drag community you can find endless information and tips. That being said, I have also seen many amazing male crossplayers who have simply made their favourite characters costume and worn it as they are. One of the best male crossplays I have ever seen was a man dressed as Sailor Moon at Fan Expo who had a full beard and visible chest and leg hair.

GP:  What should we expect to see from you in Toronto?  Any special plans?

LS:  My costume plans are a little up in the air for Fan Expo Canada. However, I will be running six panels over the weekend ranging from wig working to armour making. There are several costumes I would like to make, but my panel prep comes first. The only costume I can say for sure will make an appearance is a classic Jem costume from Jem and the Holograms. It will be truly, truly, truly outrageous!

All photos are copyrighted to Lee Scion

Loot Crate Vs. Nerd Block: August 2015 Edition

Three subscription boxes enter, one leaves the champion. This month it’s a two-way dance as we pit Loot Crate, and Nerd Block against each other to see which had the best premium geek box this month!

You can subscribe to Nerd Block now and get your first box next month. You can also get your Loot Crate now for next month’s release.

 

 

 

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Review: Power Cubed #1

power of cubed #1What if you had a piece of technology that created anything you could possibly want, and all you had to do was imagine it? What would you wish for? For Kenny Logan, his first wish is to survive his eighteenth birthday! His unique matter-reinterpreting device has attracted the attention of a bumbling Nazi scientist with plans for world domination and an elite government agent who is hell bent on acquiring the device to stop an alien invasion at any cost. Aaron Lopresti delivers a comical coming-of-age tale in a fantastic sci-fi universe!

Nazi scientists, alien technology, and a covert government agency. That may seem like a random assortment of things that would go together like fire and water. Well it manages to work in this odd yet  brilliant way. Written by Aaron Lopresti, he manages to mix in all that with slight bits of humor, and a young man with complicated relationship with his genius father gives the story a unique feeling.

The artwork by Lopresit (who does double duty here) has an old Saturday morning cartoon feel to it.

Overall the world is bright, and vibrant. That bolsters the cartoonish feel the world has. Oddly enough that manages to blend with the story extremely well.

Story: Aaron Lopresti Art: Aaron Lopresti
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Kickstarter Spotlight: The Collaborative Development of Schismatic

by Andrew Adams

A few days ago I released my first comic book through Kickstarter. It’s a revenge thriller set in a fantasy world, titled Schismatic, which I wrote the script for. And we’ve been overwhelmed with the positive response that we’ve received in the first few days. We’ve gotten enthusiastic personal messages from readers, over a quarter of our (relatively ambitious) goal in less than 48 hours, and the issue has even wound up in the hands of movie producers considering it for a film option.

01 Schismatic Cover

But it took many failed attempts for me to finally get a full issue of a comic book produced. For several years I developed comic book ideas and wrote scripts on my own. Once they were complete, I would scour the internet for talented artists, send the scripts to artists whose styles I felt matched the tone of my writing, and wait anxiously to see if anybody was willing to make a comic book with me. I felt I had to do have a script in advance to prove to an artist that I could write a high-quality script worthy of their attention.

It failed every time. Most artists would pass completely, and the few who did begin to work with me would inevitably drop off of the project (for very valid reasons). It became very hard for me to find an artist whose passion for my projects matched my own. Which makes sense. After all, I had birthed this project into the world and it was full of my own ideas and not theirs.

There were two downsides to this approach which, in retrospect, seem incredibly obvious. One: it made me too precious with my own work, and less open to new ideas. Two: the incentives for an artist to work with me were weak. An artist would sign up either for financial reasons (except that my page rates were terrible) or to gain exposure in the industry (except that I only wanted to work with talented artists, and the big publishing companies would often scoop them up before we were done).

After my third failed collaboration in a row, I got frustrated. I went back to the Internet in search of a talented artist to work with. And I discovered Rachael Briner’s portfolio on the website for Savannah College of Art and Design’s Sequential Art program.

02 Lihaaj 03 03 Lihaaj 05

I loved her style and could tell she was talented instantly, and a strong visual storyteller. But I didn’t have any story ideas that seemed right for her style.

Which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We were forced to develop the story as a team, and I’m convinced this is why Schismatic has been successful so far.

I wrote her an e-mail which read, “I’m a huge fan of your art, and I’d love to develop something for it. I want to try writing/developing a series for an artist, instead of finding one after the development is done. So I don’t have anything super specific for you yet. I’d want to hear what you’re interested in, pitch you some ideas, and see if anything catches your eye.”

She responded with tentative interest. She wasn’t on board yet. But she told me, “I’m drawn to realism, slice of life, fantastical, and mythological stories. I’m not too picky on mood; I enjoy both uplifting and feel good, as well as dark and intense.”

I went back to her DeviantArt page and noticed that all of my favorite work of hers featured fantasy worlds or creatures. I also saw, listed under her favorite movies, Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds. And it sparked something. What would happen, I thought, if Tarantino wrote a fantasy story?

I pitched several one-sentence ideas to Rachael, including that one. And that’s the one that excited us both, so I pursued it.

I spent several days revisiting all my favorite fantasy stories and all my favorite crime tales, trying to identify which elements most attracted me to each. I brainstormed a variety of possible stories that all involved crime, heists, and revenge, and mapped them onto a few possible fantasy worlds. And when I shared the work with Rachael, she once again got most excited about the idea that I was most excited about. Maybe I pitched it more enthusiastically because I was more into it, or maybe our tastes just magically aligned. Whatever happened, it worked.

That idea, essentially, was: “What if there’s a world with thousand-foot tides, and a cult that worships deep sea creatures? And a pirate kidnaps our hero’s son for the cult, so they have to go get him back?”

04 Initial Concept Art

Rachael responded later that day with concept sketches, which I hadn’t requested.

She wrote: “An idea I played with is that the cult members are humanoids who attempt to make themselves look like their god. You said deep sea creatures, so I referenced those. I imagined that there would be different levels of transformation. Some would paint their skin black and dress up to look like their god with masks, others would ingest chemicals to make their veins and insides glow to look, and some would even surgically alter their selves: removing lower jaws, ears, and adding prosthetic teeth and more.

She also had an idea to make the villainous cult leader female, for smart thematic reasons.

Absolutely none of these ideas were mine, but I loved them. They instantly became a part of the story. And while I fell in love with the image of the woman in the headdress, I didn’t think she was scary enough to be the villain. So I went off and I wrote a two-page document imagining the backstory of this mysterious figure that Rachael had sent me, and what could have happened to make her more intimidating.

Rachael responded to that document, once again, with more concept art.

05 Jarra

And when I saw Figure #6, I felt like I suddenly knew the character.

This is how the entire process happened. I would pitch ideas to Rachael, and she would return with concept art that took it to the next level and introduced new elements I’d never thought of. Which would, in turn, inspire even more ideas in me. The mythology of the world kept getting deeper and denser, because we would share ideas that inspired one another.

We developed a rule, that the best idea goes into the story no matter who comes up with it. It was pure collaboration, where our ideas mixed and blended to a level that I no longer know who came up with what. And soon, we had a script that I loved. But, unlike other projects, I was not possessive of it. Even though it felt entirely like mine. Rachael appeared to be working in the same headspace: passionate about the project on a creative level because she owned it, but open to new input. It has become one of the smoothest collaborations I’ve ever been a part of.

And now that the first issue is released, the comment we hear most often is that our lead villain is terrifying. After incorporating Rachael’s ideas, this is what the “pirate” from my pitch became:

06 Jarra Page

Her name is Jarra, and she does some terrible things.

If you’d like to read Schismatic, the first issue is available for immediate download to anybody who pledges $5 or more to our Kickstarter campaign.

 

 

 

 

 

While we’re no longer picking crowd funding projects to spotlight on our site, we’re allowing project creators to make their case for their project on our platform. We remind individuals, we don’t endorse any of these projects, and that by supporting any crowd funding project, you’re taking any risks associated with doing so. – the Management

Review: Mother Russia TPB

Mother Russia TPBHaving survived the zombie apocalypse that ended World War II, Svetlana Gorshkav, also known as ‘Mother Russia’, risks everything she has built for the life of a small child. Understanding Svetlana’s willingness to sacrifice the safe life she has created for a stranger’s is truly the heart of this story. Mother Russia works with large ideas such as the value of family, the worth of innocent life, and the indoctrination of political ideals, all while creating a highly suspenseful story of one young woman trying to survive the end of the world any way she can.

The story opens with very minimal dialogue, which helps truly show the lonely life that Svetlana now leads. Her only escapes from the monotony of the highest room of a tower overlooking Stalingrad within which she lives, is to read, exercise, and shoot the zombie horde walking below. This all changes when she sees a small child in her scope and decides to run and save him. Her rescue attempt quickly goes awry until she is saved by a dog named Brunhilde and her owner, Major Otto Steiner. From there, the four begin a plan to move from the shelter they find themselves in, where supplies are running low, towards a place where there is enough food and water to survive a bit longer.

The interaction between the four main characters are truly where the larger aforementioned ideas are truly fleshed out. Writer and artist Jeff McComsey does a fantastic job creating a sense of caring between these characters, especially considering the child and dog cannot even speak. In the midst of the apocalypse, Otto has created an unbreakable bond with the only family member he has left, Brunhilde. Their strong bond is evident every moment they are together. To say Svetlana and Otto become family is a stretch but, their bond is built more on their perceived value of life and how little of it is left. Even though Svetlana does not completely trust him because he fought for the Nazi Regime, she begins to understand how those ingrained political ideologies she learned fighting the German enemy means nothing when the true enemy is not even human. These ideas are very well done and help the story, which could have easy fallen into the ‘just another zombie book’ category, into something more; a very intimate look at humans and the lengths they will go to survive.Mother Russia TBP 2

The art only helps to enhance the story. The entire narrative is done in black and white, creating a bleak sense of dread. Each zombie looks unique and hideous. The violence of seeing bullets fly through their rotting flesh is appropriately gory. The action panels are well laid out and create a sense of tension as the zombie hordes continue to close in despite the survivors best efforts. The more intimate moments are equally as impressive. The decaying, and dark buildings are haunting. Each room is well detailed and, in many instances, the remains of former lives from before the apocalypse tell a story all their own and help enhance the use of minimal dialogue in many places.

Following the main story are three backups titled, The Sniper, The Child, and Kindern. These three tales help flesh out the history of what happened during the lead up to the zombie apocalypse. Each story is heartbreaking and insightful in its own way but, does take away a bit from the original story by taking some of the mystery out of who these people are. Although, they do add an extra layer of knowledge for the reader as to how this all occurred, even if the reasoning is nothing groundbreaking or new. The art is as solid as the rest of the book, with the art in The Child by Giles Crawford being especially impressive, creating a dreamlike sensation as we follow the journey of the child which Svetlana eventually discovers.

Overall, this is a fantastic story that explores large ideas but never forgets that when the zombies take over, sometimes you just have to fight to survive.

Story: Jeff McComsey Art: Jeff McComsey, Steve Willhite, and Giles Crawford
Story: 9 Art: 8 Overall 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Alterna Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Coven #2

coven002It is common among the independent publishers that they tend to take more chances and to give more creative control to their writers and artists.  Despite that, Zenescope could be identified as one of the companies that does so less than than others.  After the initial success of Grimm Fairy Tales, it mostly figured out this formula and while there is always room for creativity, it has also not deviated too far from this script too often.  This is perhaps most true in the main Grimm Fairy Tales title, which while it has moved into more of a Young Adult setting, is also one which hasn’t really tried to push its own boundaries since its early days.  There is of course another problem for an independent like Zenescope and that is exposure.  With a much smaller portion of the comic market, they have to make calculated decisions more so than the bigger companies, which can give secondary characters a chance to shine in their own series before letting them fail and pass back into obscurity. This leaves many of the more intriguing characters that Zenescope has at its disposal often unused with the likes of Britney Waters, Liesel Van Helsing and Baba Yaga often reduced to only cameo appearances.

What Zenescope does do well though is give its second tier group of heroines a chance to shine in miniseries, and such is the case with Coven.  As was shown in the first issue, a small coven of witches is attacked with their leader subdued and kidnapped while the others are murdered.  Baba Yaga intervenes in order to find one of her disciples and in this issue enlists the aid of some other powerful witches before launching her rescue mission.

While an occult vs. military concept is not exactly new, it is interesting to see it in this setting for Grimm Fairy Tales.  While a lot of the properties for Grimm Fairy Tales can be fun, they also seem to be in somewhat of a comfort zone, and don’t really move much beyond that.  This series on the other hand seems to be trying a few new things, and while they are not spectacular at least deserve to be recognized as such.  Also worthy of recognition is that the series features Baba Yaga, on the surface a strange choice for a series protagonist but also one that works in this setting.  This might not be an amazing series, but it is fun and worth a look for those that don’t mind a bit of a mix between genres.

Story: Zach Calig Art: Diego Galindo
Story: 8.7 Art: 8.7 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Oz – Reign of the Witch Queen #4

oz001For the most part Grimm Fairy Tales has stayed pretty close to the source material when it has come to interpreting classic works of literature.  There are often times some switches, such as making Pan into the villain, making Mowgli into a girl or turning Wonderland into a world of nightmares, but they mostly still contain the same characteristics of the world that was created by the writers of the classical fiction.  When it comes to Oz though, the script gets changed somewhat.  As the story of Oz is somewhat limited to only Dorothy’s journey along the yellow brick road, it could be said that there is a lot more which could be explored, but also in so doing, a lot more which could take it away from the original story.  Such has been the case with Grimm Fairy Tales’ take on Oz.  It has been related to the Baum’s work, but has deviated from it somewhat, changing Dorothy from simple farmgirl to sorceress in waiting, and changing the majority of the other characters from whimsical companions to scheming agents of their own prosperity.

Such is the setting for the final series of the trilogy of Oz which has gone way off the script, while also going somewhat away from the whimsy of the setting.  Both the Warlord and Dorothy’s forces have decided that they have the advantage and have attacked one another.  Although seemingly outmatched Dorothy also seems oddly at ease with the mismatch as she thinks that she has her own advantage.  This plays out through a few different locales between both Dorothy and the evil witch, although more of the action focuses on Dorothy and the Warlord.

While this might not really feel like Oz, it equally does not mean that it is very bad either.  Going off the script is fine if the creative team has a grasp on where it is going, and although this is not really a natural progression of Baum’s story, it still makes enough sense from a story telling standpoint.  The second series in for Grimm Fairy Tales’ Oz was a lot more off the mark than this series, and while the denizens of Oz have never looked like this or acted like this, it is still an interesting enough tale with a couple of twists to keep things interesting.

Story: Jeff and Kristin Massey  Art: Antonio Bifulco
Story: 7.6  Art: 7.6 Overall: 7.6 Recommendation: Read

 

Fear the Walking Fanboys, our new Podcast. Debuts LIVE this Sunday at 10pm ET.

gp-radio-pic-sundayAfter you’re done watching Fear the Walking Dead, join our virtual roundtable as we discuss each week’s new episode right after it airs! Debuting this Sunday, Fear the Walking Fanboys presented by Graphic Policy Radio. The show airs LIVE at 10pm ET, immediately following Fear the Walking Dead.

What did the world look like as it was transforming into the horrifying apocalypse depicted in “The Walking Dead”? This spin-off set in Los Angeles, following new characters as they face the beginning of the end of the world, will answer that question.

Ron and Brett chat about the hit AMC television series going over each brand new episode with a fine tooth comb and what it all means for The Walking Dead universe. We’ll be chatting each Sunday at 10pm ET right after the episode ends.

We also want to hear what you think. Call in with your thoughts, or Tweet them to us @graphicpolicy.

Listen in LIVE this Sunday at 10pm ET.

Fan Expo Interviews: Ronn Sutton

Fan Expo Toronto will be taking place this year between September 3rd and 6th, and Graphic Policy had the opportunity to talk with a few of their featured guests before the beginning of the convention.  Up first was Ronn Sutton, an accomplished illustrator known for his work in noirish stories and sci-fi.  We got a chance to talk with him about his career.

smPg3printedGraphic Policy:  One of the characters which you have most worked on is Honey West.  What are the main challenges of working in the crime noir genre in terms of the design?

Ronn Sutton:  Honey West was a female detective that appeared in nearly a dozen extremely popular pocketbook novels throughout the 1960s. The concept was that Honey’s father was a Private Investigator who was killed during one of his cases. His daughter solved her father’s murder and then took over the detective agency. So the Honey West books, a short-lived TV series, and the comics are all set in the 1960s. This gave me a wonderful opportunity to recreate the time period in my artwork with the clothing, hair styles, cars, furniture, etc of that era. I love researching and drawing comics that are drawn in a specific time period because it gives you a chance to recreate an authentic world on your pages.

But the character I worked on the longest was Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Over a nine year period I drew nearly 50 Elvira stories for Claypool Comics. That’s about 800 pages I drew for the Elvira, Misstress of the Dark series. Many scripted by my partner Janet L. Hetherington.

GP:  On the same subject what makes for a great femme fatale and how do you give this quality to Honey West?

RS:  I was very concerned with making Honey look like she lived in that era. So I showed off the clothes of the period by having Honey wear as many as six different outfits in one comic, using the styles of the times: pencil skirts, fur pillbox hats, gaucho jackets and lots of leopard prints, etc. I was trying to capture the essence of mid-60s female movie stars like Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe. There’s something indefinable about the way those women stood, walked, and dressed with a real earthiness. I tried to analyze what it was and I think I caught much of it. For the last two HW stories I drew I brought in a model to help me and had her pose.

C5DraculasGuestGP:  Switching subjects, how do you feel about the use of horror in comics?  Some might say that it is not the best medium for the genre as it is harder to capture the same tension.  How can you compensate for it?

RS:  I’ve drawn a couple hundred comics, probably the largest portion of them were horror comics. When it comes to drawing macabre comics, its all about the atmosphere; choosing what to show and what not to show. Drawing in a lot of deep shadows and not revealing more than you have to. I have a 14 page adaptation of Bram Stoker’s short story “Dracula’s Guest” coming out in the next month or two in the 144 page horror anthology called Graphic Classics Volume 26: Vampire Classics. I rendered the artwork in full-colour on the actual artboards using markers, dyes, and colour pencils. It required a very limited palette to set a constant mood through out the strip. For the most part in the story, Dracula isn’t really seen. He’s more of a presence. So I had to concoct clever way to visually have him there and not there at the same time.

GP:  Do you think that horror relies too much on a single concept instead of reinventing itself?  For instance movie horror tends to recycle ideas in numerous sequels while comic book horror tends to be more original?

RS:  I think the only limits to horror comics and illustration rest with the person creating it. Horror can be claustrophobic or it can be otherworldly. It can invoke a single horrible villian or even hordes of demons. Comics have a long history of turning monsters into heroes. Horror comics are wonderful to draw because you can let your imagination run wild with pencil & paper creating vistas and creatures that even could be unconvincing in film, as well as being costly and difficult to manufacture.

GP:  You have also had the opportunity to work on some characters such as Sherlock Homes and the Phantom.  Both of these characters have managed to survive to the modern day with some popularity.  What do you think that it takes for some characters to achieve this same level of notoriety?

RS:  I think a character like Sherlock Holmes has been around for so long, and been adapted, re-invented and parodied so many times that everybody is familiar with the basic character, while few have actually read the original books (I have!). What is neat about The Phantom is the costume has been handed down from father to son for 21 generations creating the illusion that its been one single long-lived person for hundreds of years. Hence the reference to him as “The Ghost Who Walks”. I think part of  the appeal of both characters is they’ve both been around for a very long time; both have distinctive looks, and both are just regular people who rely on superior intellect and physical prowess (without any sort of “super” powers).

ronn001GP:  One of your projects was Lucifer’s Sword which involved a story focused on a motorcyle gang.  How hard is it to draw a convincing motorcycle?

RS:  I think the important thing to know about Lucifers Sword M.C.: Life & Death In An Outlaw Motorcycle Club is that it was scripted by Phil Cross, who has been an active member of the Hells Angels for nearly 50 years. The 96 page graphic novel was a slightly fictionalized autobiography. The Lucifers Sword graphic novel was set in the late 1960s in San Jose, California area, so in my drawings I was striving to accurately portray the clothes, buildings, cars and, obviously, motorcycles of the time.

When it came to drawing all the Harley Davidson motorcycles, my editor was an enormous help in identifying and supplying me with photo-reference of those rigid-frame bikes. As well, each bike had to be drawn unique to its owner since those motorcycles were all chopped and customized. So no two were alike.  So, on top of all this I was watching all the old Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson, etc biker films that were so popular 45 years ago (like Hells Angels On Wheels, Angels Die Hard, etc). I collected up all sorts of biker books and magazines including biker tattoo magazines in an attempt to just get everything right.

I’m VERY happy that the biker community has embraced and praised Lucifers Sword M.C.: Life & Death In An Outlaw Motorcycle Club, and particularly that they cited in their reviews the accuracy in the drawing of the choppers. You can hear a CBC radio interview between Hells Angel Phil Cross and myself discussing our graphic novel here.

smColorSciFiGirlGP:  Are there any genres which you would life to get some more exposure in?

RS:  I LOVE drawing science-fiction strips. As opposed to historical stories I’ve drawn that require so much accurate visual reference research, with sci-fi you get to make up EVERYTHING! Which is both fun and a daunting task. So many of the artists that I admired as I was growing up drew some wonderful sci-fi comics.

I have a “side-project”, that I work on in between more pressing comic assignments, which is a graphic novel adaptation of The Citadel of Lost Ships. It was written by Leigh Brackett and originally published in  Planet Stories, in the 1930s. I work on it at my own pace and while I want it to be a ripping traditional heroic adventure, the designs of the costumes, starships and alien cities range from the type found in old time pulp magazine illustrations to futuristic hi-tech. So its a wild amalgam of styles. It will be a long time yet before I’m done, but it will be enormous fun to read I hope. You can watch for news update about this project, and others, on my website.

Comics Are More Than Just Superheroes And Spandex

We’ve all got those friends who think that comic books are just people running around in their underwear fighting each other. Who think that comic books are for kids, and are great to waste a few minutes on but don’t actually have anything important to say.

We also all know they’re wrong.

captain-america-1Comics are far more than just superheroes an spandex. Comic books can teach you some of the most important lesson’s you’ll ever learn – at any stage in your life. There are studies that claim that reading comics, graphic novels or even Sunday newspaper strips can increase reading comprehension at an early age. Carol L Tilley, from the University of Illinois has said “If reading is to lead to any meaningful knowledge or comprehension, readers must approach a text with an understanding of the relevant social, linguistic and cultural conventions.And if you really consider how the pictures and words work together in consonance to tell a story, you can make the case that comics are just as complex as any other kind of literature.” Another study has shown that people retain information better from graphic novels than they do from traditional text books. I have also read an account where a dyslexic man explain how comics actually taught him to read (which you can read here). Apparently those who read comics tend to have a larger vocabulary than those who don’t read comics at an earlier age – translation: we’re smarter than those who don’t read comics (I apologize that I’m unable to find the link).

Evidence of comics abilities to help people with reading comprehension can easily be found with a quick Google search, but what of the messages within those comics? Most reading recommendations for younger people (rightly) focus on child-friendly comics. While I don’t advocate children reading Watchmen, those who tell us that comics are nothing more than superheroes and spandex will point to those child-friendly books and say “see,told you so.”

Pic-5Well of course we want kids to see the superheroes.

Superheroes can, and frequently do, inspire us to become better people, although very few of us actually put on a mask and go out and fight crime, there are some that do. While most of us also enjoy reading superhero comics because they’re they’re entertaining, they also have something pretty powerful to say.  Right from the very beginning, Captain America has always been a superhero wrapped in patriotic symbolism. When his very first appearance was punching Hitler in the face on the front cover to 1941’s Captain America Comics #1, Timely Comics (later Marvel) were coming out swinging in their support for the war effort – remember this was more than nine months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Couple that with the image of him bleeding to death outside a courthouse where he was being charged for defending the right for us to keep our information private. Something that, for all of us, is a huge concern in today’s world.

250px-MausFor non-superhero fare, take a look at Art Spiegelman‘s Mausa starkly brutal tale of his father’s life before and during the Holocaust. As a biographical tale of one man’s experience as a Polish Jew in the Auschwitz concentration camp, the story is told by way of Art interviewing his father for the book he is writing (the one you are reading), and by using anthromorphic animals to represent the different races (Jews are depicted as mice, Germans as cats, and non-Jewish Poles as pigs) he both distances the reader just enough from the story to enable them to read the book without becoming too shocked, but at the same time enables the reader to readily identify with the characters. Maus is a book that everybody should read at least once; for non comics fans to see just how wonderful a story telling method it is, and for everyone to appreciate the ways in which Spiegelman deconstructs the medium of comics and explores themes of racism, genocide, familial guilt, and hope.

Maus is a Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel that has more to say than most books could ever hope to say.  Considered one of the Big Three graphic novels released circa 1986–1987, (the other two are Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns), that are said to have brought the term “graphic novel” and the idea of comics for adults into public awareness. Maus has been credited with changing the perception of what comics could be during a time when, in the English-speaking world, they strongly associated with superheroes and were considered to be for children, and honestly hasn’t changed as much as we’d like to think.

Comic books are much more than just superheroes and spandex, and anybody who tells you that comic books don’t have anything important to say simply doesn’t read them.


Originally posted on Ramblings Of A Comics Fan

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