Category Archives: Interviews

Those Two Geeks Episode 183: Matthew Klein Joins us to talk about Crashing and Wrestling

The two geeks talk with Matthew Klein once again in advance of his debut comic from IDW Crashing (due September 21st). The last time Matthew joined us, we mostly ignored the comic and his journey in comics to talk about wrestling. We didn’t do that this time – instead we almost entirely ignored the comic to talk about wrestling.

Matthew can be found on Twitter @matthewklein316, and his signing schedule is below.

As always, Alex and Joe can be found on Twitter respectively @karcossa and @FirstRonin4 if you feel the need to tell them they’re wrong individually, or @those2geeks if you want to yell at them together on Twitter, or by email at ItsThose2Geeks@gmail.com.

Music by AlexGrohl from Pixabay

Radical: My Year With a Socialist Senator– Graphic Novelist Sofia Warren

NY’s 1st Socialist State Senator in 100 years, get’s the graphic novel treatment in Sofia Warren‘s new graphic memoir — Radical: My Year With a Socialist Senator

New York, Socialism, community organizing and COMICS are near the top of my list of interests so I’m excited to have cartoonist Sofia Warren on the show to talk about her book. Reading this graphic memoir might make you feel a little more hopeful and inspired and certainly a lot more well informed about how political organizing can win change for the better at the local level — no matter where you are.

Here’s Sofia’s instagram.

And here’s the Opertation Save Abortion online event July 17 I promotes in my intro.

Emmett Hobbes : Comics Writer/Artist makes the heist comic you need in your life

“A diagnosis should set somebody free. It should be a descriptor, not a definition” – Emmett Hobbes.

Royale: The Prussian Blue is a Lupin III-meets-Pan’s Labyrinth caper. A renowned white-hat burglar stumbles into London’s supernatural underbelly to win his target back from an untouchable (and mysterious) art collector. It’s a very queer and extremely well crafted heist comic that truly stands out and you can read it on the Webtoons app

Writer and artist Emmett Hobbes joins me to talk about his work, neurodiversity, queerness and also the comics classic Preacher. Of course!

Follow him here: https://twitter.com/emmettcomix

Or his website; https://www.emmettcomix.art/

Royale credits: Story and ink: Emmett Hobbes | Color: Hank Jones | Costume design: Erik Ojo and Seth Smith | Edited: Ethan Leblanc and Spencer Gooding | Technical assist: Traceton Randolph | Published exclusively by Webtoon Originals

Eric Orner talks Smahtguy and the making of a graphic memoir

Smahtguy takes us through the life of former Congressman Barney Frank from his humble beginnings to his eventual retirement from Congress. It’s full of ups and downs, warts and all, and a fascinating look at such an influential politician.

I got a chance to talk to Eric Orner about the graphic novel and what it’s like to make a graphic memoir of your former boss.

Get your copy in comic shops! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
Kindle
Bookshop


Metropolitan Books provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
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It’s Sword-and-Sorcery Infused with The Terminator. David Pepose Talks Savage Avengers

Savage Avengers #1

Announced in February, Savage Avengers returns this May with a whole new lineup and a whole new creative team.

Writer David Pepose guides Conan the Barbarian, Daredevil (Elektra), Anti-Venom, Black Knight, Cloak & Dagger, and Weapon H along with Carlos Magno in a whole new adventure. They’ll fight their way through the Hyborian Age with an evil Deathlok hot on their trail!

We got to talk to David about what we can expect from his Marvel ongoing series debut as well as his upcoming take on Moon Knight.

Graphic Policy: David, for the people out there that haven’t met you yet, please introduce yourself and tell them about your various minis and Ringo Award-winning exploits.

DP: Sure thing! I’m David Pepose, and I’m the writer of books like Scout’s Honor at AfterShock Comics, Spencer & Locke and Going to the Chapel at Action Lab, and my Ringo Award-winning Kickstarter series The O.Z. I’ve been reading comics my entire life, and it’s been a real honor to work in the independent comics scene — and a tremendous privilege to now be making my Big Two debut at Marvel.

GP: And now you’re on Savage Avengers. You’ve commented before that a few particular team books were favorites and influential in your approach. Let’s talk about when you first encountered those books and the particular elements that affect how you yourself write a team.

DP: For sure — some of the big influences behind Savage Avengers were Al Ewing’s work in Mighty Avengers, Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force, and of course Grant Morrison’s seminal JLAJLA was probably the earliest book I’d encountered, and I really enjoyed the way Grant found creative ways to utilize their cast’s powers, but while still distilling their voices and establishing really fun character dynamics amongst their roster. 

I think Al Ewing did a similar thing in Mighty Avengers, which was a book that I nearly passed over — but I’m so glad I gave it a shot, because he did such an incredible job at taking characters I didn’t have any knowledge or affection for (especially newer legacy heroes like White Tiger and Power Man) and made them into a cohesive unit that you really cared about. Al’s work is probably the biggest influence on Savage Avengers, and it’s always a comfort to know you’re being inspired by the best.

Rick Remender’s work in Uncanny X-Force, meanwhile, has always influenced me in terms of rhythm — his voice is so singular because of the pacing and intensity of his writing, and that’s something I’ve tried to incorporate into Savage Avengers as well. But there’s also that throughline in his Marvel work of dysfunctional groups having to hash it out and learn to cooperate, and that plays a big role here, too.

GP: You had a hand in picking most of the team members you’re using in Savage Avengers. Can you describe how you approached that process, and what kind of give-and-take goes into (forgive me) assembling a team for Marvel?

DP: When my editor Tom Brevoort first reached out to me about potential ideas for Savage Avengers, my first instinct was to see if we could establish a permanent roster for the book, since Gerry Duggan’s spectacular run had more of a rotating cast of characters that would cross paths with Conan during his wild adventures in the Marvel Universe. So I approached this roster with two directives: how do I speak to Gerry’s iconic original roster of Conan, Punisher, Elektra, Wolverine, Venom and Doctor Voodoo, but how do I do that in a way that lets me put my own stamp on the book?

With that in mind, I figured I could have my cake and eat it, too — on the one hand, we’ve got legacies of the core original Savage Avengers, with Conan, Elektra, Anti-Venom, and Weapon H. On the other hand, we’re building up this really cool sword-and-sorcery element to the team with Black Knight, Cloak and Dagger. But ultimately, they all share a similar throughline — these are all characters struggling with their dark side, and they’re going to wind up having to help each other navigate through that darkness.

Back-and-forth is a great way to describe how a roster like this comes together. Especially when you’re a new writer taking a swing this big, you’ve got to be flexible — that doesn’t mean you need to settle, but it means you need to come up with backup plans that have just as much love and affection as the number-one thing you’re pitching. There are very, very few characters that I’d consider “bad” — there’s always a way to make someone everyone else is overlooking and polish them into a show-stopping, A-list-quality character. And maybe that’s the real throughline for this entire roster, y’know?

But the thing is, there’s a ton of other books going on, and when you’re just starting out like I was, you’re never going to be privy to everything — so you wind up putting together a massive list of characters that you think could be a potential fit, and you work your way down. Is Flash Thompson busy? What about Elektra as Daredevil — is there a way to fit her in that doesn’t mess with Chip Zdarsky’s plans? There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes coordination, but I was honestly pretty fortunate in getting just about everything I wanted on the first pass. The only characters I told Tom that I’d go to the mat begging for were Cloak and Dagger, and thankfully I didn’t get any pushback on them. (Laughs)

Savage Avengers

GP: You’ve developed a reputation for both being really good with a pastiche, weaving in satire, and punctuating things with dark humor. In what way does the “Pepose brand” manifest itself in the book?

DP: The “Pepose Brand” for Savage Avengers is really in the high concept, since this series feels almost like a sword-and-sorcery-infused version of The Terminator. As a warrior hailing from the Hyborian Age, Conan the Barbarian is now a man out of time in the modern Marvel Universe… and that puts him head-to-head with Deathlok, who has charged Conan with crimes against the timestream.

So we’re able to take elements that you might be familiar with, but subvert them in some really cool and exciting ways — Conan is a natural-born warrior, but he’s going to find himself pushed to his limits against this soldier from the future. Meanwhile, the rest of the Savage Avengers are going to find themselves way out of their depths as the Deathlok’s rampage takes some surprising turns. Mashups are something that really interests me as a writer, as it lets me cover a pretty wide spread narratively and can make some really unexpected and fun sparks start to fly.

GP: Conan the Barbarian has a mammoth cultural history. Was it intimidating to take on that character? What are the elements that you believe must be in a Conan story, and what are the challenges and/or exciting parts of bumping him against the members of your cast?

DP: Hugely intimidating. (Laughs) But I think having Conan in the mix is part of the reason why I was so excited to tackle this book in the first place — it’s the mashup ethos, it’s having a team of scrappy Marvel superheroes alongside one of the biggest icons in sword-and-sorcery! But my favorite Conan stories are both dramatic and just purely fun escapism — like, living in the Hyborian Age is hard… but it’s also kind of fun to vicariously live through Conan’s adventures as a sword-swinging badass, y’know? So figuring out Conan’s unique voice was a really cool experience for me — sometimes he’s got this amazing bravado in the heat of combat, other times he can be hostile and even selfish. He’s complex, but he’s also larger-than-life, and that makes him a perfect leading man for this series.

That quality also makes him the perfect foil for the rest of our roster. Conan’s closest with Elektra, having interacted with her throughout Gerry Duggan’s run on the series, and he’s also teamed up with Black Knight briefly in the tail end of that run — but Conan is unapologetically himself, and as the target for Deathlok, the rest of the cast is going to be inherently curious as to what kind of man is worth all this hassle. Conan’s also very good at cutting through B.S., and his bluntness is a great way to either strip our Savage Avengers of their self-deceptions, or to make them rise to the challenge and defend their beliefs.

GP: The villain, at least initially according to advance information, is a version of Deathlok. Why Deathlok, and what makes him different than other versions of the character that have played a villain’s role?

DP: Deathlok, in a lot of ways, is the elemental opposite of Conan as a character — whereas Conan is this mountain of muscle from the distant past, Deathlok is this hard-edged metal machine from the far future. They’re both men out of time, and Deathlok has this laser-focused mad-on for Conan that is going to put every bit of the Cimmerian’s strength and strategy to the test. But since this is also a team book, I needed to find ways to stack the deck, to make sure this Deathlok could conceivably take down a whole roster of superheroes — and I’m really happy with the various ways we’ve done it.

But I’ve always appreciated the inner duality of Deathlok as a character — I thought Dwayne McDuffie did such an amazing job with the Michael Collins incarnation of Deathlok, which was the version of the character that I grew up with. So to me, there’s always been this question of morality at the heart of Deathlok as a concept — he’s ultimately someone committed to doing the right thing, but what does that look like? How do his circumstances as a cyborg zombie dictate what the right thing even is? And what about the vaguely sinister implications of conscripting corpses as a multiversal peacekeeping force? Without spoilers, Deathlok’s mission in Savage Avengers is perhaps more complicated than even he knows, and his growth as an antagonist is one of my favorite elements of the entire series.

GP: Your partner in savagery is Carlos Magno, who has done KangAvengers Forever, and Fantastic Four, among others. The preview art looks fantastic; what does Carlos bring to the book, and how does his art affect the way that you write?

DP: I couldn’t be more fortunate or grateful to be working with somebody as incredible as Carlos Magno. He is as gracious as he is talented, and the thing I like most about working with him is he’s clearly as hungry for this book to succeed as I am. He’s a diehard Conan fan, and it’s been a real treat watching him crush every page that our legendary Cimmerian is on — but boy, seeing the way he’s translated the rest of our cast has been so inspiring. In particular, the way he draws Cloak is an absolute show-stopper, and I downright adore the way that he draws Anti-Venom, especially in Flash’s feral state. It’s a really fun way to take John Romita, Jr.’s unique visual iconography, but in a way that makes it his own, y’know?

But Carlos’ work evokes bits of Phil Jimenez and Bryan Hitch, which honestly has just inspired me to keep thinking of more larger-than-life scenarios to really play to Carlos’ style. The craziest part of all this, though? He keeps raising the bar for himself — like, seeing the jump just from Issue #1 to Issue #2 blew my mind. So I hope that readers recognize just how much effort Carlos is putting into these pages, and I really hope to keep working with Carlos as long as he’ll have me. He’s absolutely the Real Deal.

Savage Avengers

GP: I know that you interned at the Distinguished Competition years ago, but this is your first time working for Marvel and your first time writing for the Big Two. Your work for smaller companies and Kickstarted books have all been creator-owned. What’s the adjustment of being the captain and commander of the story to being the custodian of major players like Conan and Elektra? And what’s it like working with an editor like Tom Brevoort, who knows a thing or two-hundred about the process?

DP: The thing is, I’m approaching this series as not just a fan of Marvel, but as a fan of these particular characters — I’d hand-picked this entire roster, because I want the comics-reading populace to love them as much as I do. There’s so much potential to this roster, and because I know these characters and their voices, Savage Avengers as a whole has been this really fun dance between reclaiming cool personality traits and dynamics, while simultaneously finding new angles to build on all these characters in some really additive ways. Sometimes that’s figuring out new ways to exercise their powers, sometimes it’s finding surprising commonalities or massive conflicts in their personalities — but it’s been a fairly straightforward process for me because I know in my heart of hearts, none of these characters are broken. There’s just pure potential, and I’m excited to be part of the team showing it off.

Beyond that, really the biggest learning curve is figuring out the traffic grid of it all — especially when you’re starting out like I am, you have to really trust your editors to be able to tell you if something works within everything else going on in the general Marvel constellation, or if you need to think of a different angle because it’s bumping up against something else that’s already in the works. 

But that’s where I’ve been really fortunate to be working with my editors Tom Brevoort, Martin Biro and Annalise Bissa, who have honestly made this as painless of an experience as I could have imagined. Tom in particular is… honestly, the best way I can describe Tom is he’s an editorial Jedi master. (Laughs) And that’s a good thing! I tend to overthink a lot of my story elements, and while that’s led to what I think is a career of pretty good writing, that means I tend to have a lot of questions, backup plans, alternate options to agonize over… and he gives me such well-considered responses to all of it. It’s been such a great experience working with someone who’s given me an immense amount of latitude, while also nudging me in the right direction if the story isn’t adding up. So yeah, I’m very grateful — there’s a lot of moving parts to navigate working at Marvel, so I’m really lucky that I’m in good hands with all of it.

GP: I’d be remiss if I didn’t also ask about your forthcoming Moon Knight story.

DP: Our Moon Knight story is so much fun. I’m teaming up with Leonardo Romero on a story that’s a day in the life of Marc Spector — as well as his other personalities, which makes it a little bit of a mystery as well. With a 10-page real estate, you either get into a short and punchy adventure, or you dive deep into a character study — but with a character as rich and layered as Moon Knight as well as an artist as insanely talented as Leo, I got to do both. That story will in Moon Knight: Black, White & Blood #2, which is currently scheduled to hit stores the same day as Savage Avengers #1!

GP: What separates Savage Avengers from every other book on the stands, and why, in your estimation, is it something that readers shouldn’t miss?

DP: There’s a sense of scale to our adventure that I think is really engaging, and I think one that’s accessible for anyone, whether or not they’ve read any previous Conan adventures or even any adventures with the rest of our cast. And there’s a real intensity to it all that I hope stands out amongst the pack, tempered with a real sense of heart that I think people might not expect from a book called Savage Avengers. But ultimately, I think the big draw for this series has to be the unexpected dynamics that we’re building amongst our roster, and Carlos Magno’s exceptional artwork — I think we’re really firing on all cylinders for this series, and if you want a superhero adventure that tackles both sci-fi and fantasy, and you’re definitely going to want to check out the genre-crossing jam band that is Savage Avengers

GP: Last thing: tell the good people what else is coming up and where they can find you and your work online.

DP: For sure — I’m working on a lot of different stuff right now that I can’t talk about quite yet, including my ongoing work on Savage Avengers, a few more hush-hush projects, as well as a brand-new original series that’s scheduled for later this year, as well as the return of The O.Z. to Kickstarter closer to the end of 2022. I’ve also got my new short story The Master of Kung Fthulhu in Russell Nohelty’s Cthulhu Is Hard To Spell: Battle Royale Kickstarter, which you can order today at cthulhuishardtospell.com. As for me, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram at @Peposed, as well as on Facebook at @DavidPeposeComics, on my personal website at davidpepose.com, and you can subscribe to my newsletter PEP TALKS. But no matter what, I’m just so grateful for this opportunity, and I’m excited for people to see what else we’ve got coming down the pike in 2022!

Alex Segura: Secret Identity, Noir Comics and Archie

Anthony Award-winning writer Alex Segura talks about his new book Secret Identity, a rollicking literary mystery set in the world of comics. The book combines comics and prose for a vivid1975 NYC featuring new protagonist, writer Carmen Valdez. We discuss our shared love of the noir genre and his time writing Archie meeting The Ramones and Blondie and other delights. 

Check out the book https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250801753/secretidentity

And follow Alex online: https://twitter.com/alex_segura

Exclusive: Executive Editor Rob Levin Discusses Archer & Armstrong’s Triumphant Return!

Archer & Armstrong Forever #1 Bernard Chang cover
cover by Bernard Chang

It’s the triumphant return of Valiant‘s best friends, Archer and Armstrong! When the hard-drinking immortal Armstrong seemingly loses his ability to heal, the young and optimistic Archer refuses to let his best buddy go gentle into that good night. But when you live for millennia, you rack up plenty of enemies who’ll be thrilled to find out you’re no longer indestructible…

Archer & Armstrong Forever is out May 4 written by Steve Fox, art by Marcio Fiorito, colors by Alex Guimarães, and lettering by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. Covers for the first issue are by Bernard Chang, David Talaski, Dan Hipp, Ro Stein and Ted Brandt, a black variant, and special 1:250 Burnt Wood variant that is yet to be revealed!

For longtime fans, this is a continuation of the duo’s adventures. For new fans, this is a perfect jumping-on point – no previous knowledge required!

Even better, the series will feature two brand-new villains!

We got a chance to take to the series’ executive Rob Levin about what we can look forward to.

Graphic Policy: Hi Rob, how’re you doing?

ROB LEVIN: I believe it was the poet, Pitbull, who said, “Every day above ground is a great day.” Happy to be talking with you today.

Archer & Armstrong Forever #1 cover by David Talakski
cover by David Talaski

GP: What can you tell us about the series that hasn’t been teased?

RL: I feel like there’s a habit, and depending on your perspective, a problem, of people trying to book various books in very specific boxes. And I think ARCHER & ARMSTRONG FOREVER is a book that a lot of people might think of in recent years as a comedy book, and assume they’re not getting anything other than jokes. But for me, A&AF has always been a book about this fantastic and unexpected friendship first, an action-adventure series second, and then a fun (and often funny) book third. I think what Steve Foxe, Marcio Fiorito, Alex Guimarães, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou are doing really emphasizes of all of the title’s strengths and even pushes in some new, hopefully unexpected directions.

And if you think you have the book figured out after issue #1, the end of the first arc is going to pull the rug right out from under you.

GP: When it comes to editing books, what does your process look like? Can you take us through a day in the life?

RL: Editing is a mixture of herding cats, scheduling wizardry, moral supportive, and creative prodding to get the right mix of elements to come out the right way, and make sure it happens on times. There isn’t a day that goes by where something isn’t on fire or there aren’t 19 things you wanted to get to but didn’t have the chance because the moving of comics never stops.

My days are both similar and widely divergent, but between each book’s unique identity, books, calls, meetings, development, and more, it’s hard to really break down a single day. I live in my inbox and my calendar, and I’m always trying to be as available and responsive as I can to people inside and outside the company. Which is a struggle because some of the best parts of the job — like reading scripts and reviewing art — require a degree of focus that you can’t deliver if you’re constantly looking at emails or responding to messages. I couldn’t live without my to-do list app (I’ve been using Things since 2008), and that and some nimble email management are the only ways I can stay on top of things.

Archer & Armstrong Forever #1 cover by Dan Hipp
cover by Dan Hipp

GP: What do you feel sets Archer and Armstrong apart from other buddy comics?

RL: It’s the odd couple pairing taken to the extreme. One is a guy who’s been around for millennia and either encountered or inspired so many myths from our past, and the other is a sheltered, naïve young man — who just happens to be one of the well-trained, highly skilled, and dangerous people in the Valiant Universe — with a giant heart. I love a Riggs & Murtaugh (or a March & Healy if you’re looking for a more recent) pairing as much as the next guy, but what I think sets A&A apart is that they really do care about each other. They’re the best of friends, and no matter how different they are, the core of their relationship is that they care about each other, not that they’re oil and water together. My love for them comes from their love for each other.

Steve’s pitch for the series had that front and center, and it tests, bends, and maybe breaks that bond, and I can’t wait for readers to experience it. If you’ve never read the book, I think you’ll find a lot to like. If you’ve read every issue, I’m confident we’re going to cover some new ground and remind you why they’re such a fantastic pairing.

GP: Archer & Armstrong has featured crazy cults and conspiracy theories, usually with a lot of humor about it all since it’s so exaggerated. Considering our reality, how can you pull that off today? Do you even try?

RL: We’re always cognizant of real-world events and how that changes how our content is viewed, but that wasn’t really something that entered into my thinking when developing this book. It’s always been like comfort food for me, a book I can read when I’m feeling down and just want to lose myself in an adventure. But while I love an exciting adventure, I don’t usually find myself reminiscing about the big set pieces or over the top action when I think back on a story. I go back to how it made me feel, and what the characters did, learned, or overcame. And that’s what draws me to A&A in the first place. I want to see how they react to the situations they end up in, but the situations aren’t what get me in the door. It’s their relationship, their interplay, and what we learn about them as a result. So while I’m super happy with the story here, I’m very invested in seeing these specific characters go through these specific events.

Archer & Armstrong Forever #1 preorder cover by Ro Stein and Ted Brandt
cover by Ro Stein and Ted Brandt

GP: Part of the magic about Archer and Armstrong is the vast difference in age between the two; we often see Armstrong at least half drunk – do you think this was a way for him to cope with the knowledge that his friends will all leave him eventually?

RL: Almost certainly. When you’ve lived as long as Armstrong has and the only people that seem to be there century after century are your brother and a number of enemies you’ve made along the way, that has to take a toll. Armstrong has the soul of a poet, and that means he’s very much in touch with his feelings and emotions. But I don’t recall ever seeing Armstrong talk about those emotions with a therapist, so I imagine he’s spent more time hiding from those emotions than processing them in a healthy way. All I’m going to say for the moment is that the Forever in the title has a number of meanings in the series, so you’ll see plenty of drinking and plenty of emotions.

GP: Armstrong’s lack of healing is bound to shift the dynamic between the duo; did you help guide [writer] Steve Foxe with the new status quo?

RL: I’d love to take more credit for this, but Steve’s pitch came in extremely well-formed. The status quo shift provided the inciting incident and a story engine for where things go from there. Having those very general things were likely part of our initial discussions, but the rest came from his brain and his love of the characters.

To bring it back to something I said earlier, the status quo shift is just the high-concept. Everything else that supported the pitch came from character and choosing the right things to explore that shift and see how that affects their relationship.

GP: Valiant has had some interesting marketing ploys over the years; the Eternal Warrior axe, Dr. Tomorrow’s Baseball, the odd beer… if you had a choice, what would you do for this series?

RL: One man’s ploy is another man’s must-have collectible. Valiant has definitely been at the forefront of innovative marketing and promotions — from chromium covers to Valiant Vision and beyond — and that’s something that remains part of the company’s DNA to this day. We’ve got some very cool promotional items planned for the series, including a 1:250 Burnt Wood variant by Marcio that might be a not-so-subtle nod to something you just mentioned… I hope we have your ear as more gets revealed.

GP: If you had to pick just one, Archer or Armstrong, which would it be?

RL: I should probably hem and haw over this, but I did an earlier interview where I tipped my hand. I’m happiest when these two are together, because like chocolate and peanut butter, it’s a perfect combo. They really do play so well off each other, and they provide such different energies and experiences. But…

I have to go with Archer. There’s something about his perspective on the world, his gentle nature, and his ability to, you know, hurt people… There’s a lot to like, with or without Armstrong. But given my druthers, I’m choosing them as a duo.

GP: Are there other characters in the Valiant pantheon you’d like to get your hands on?

RL: I think the better question is whether there are any characters I don’t want to explore at some point. I think it was our Publisher, Fred Pierce, who once referred to the Universe as “a wonderful forest,” and I think it’s an apt metaphor. You can go for a walk in the woods and take in all kinds of different scenery, plants, etc. And that’s one of the benefits of the Valiant Universe, we have so many different characters that are either built around different genres or tones, or can easily fit into them.

So yes, there are a couple dozen characters I want to tell new stories with, from heavy hitters like X-O Manowar (who I’d like to do more with) and Bloodshot to characters whose potential has yet to be fully tapped including Doctor Mirage, Divinity, and more. I also want to see us create new characters and let them explore this forest and play off the characters people already know and love. 2022 is The Year of Valiant, and so I think it’s safe to say you’ll see a number of things we’re itching to do, and we definitely have plans well beyond that.

SFSX (Safe Sex) author Tina Horn: Our Sexbots, Ourselves Vol. 2

“I’m thrilled that the book got you laid” – Tina Horn author of SFSX (Safe Sex).

Tina Horn returns to talk about her sci-fi sex rebel comic book series. Writer TINA HORN and artist G Romero-Johnson’s SFSX (SAFE SEX) Terms of Service is a cyberpunk thriller graphic novel. “After their previous adventures in sex, love, and torture left them separated and traumatized, the Dirty Mind heroes must face the totalitarian Party’s latest “social program” ― one involving uncanny sexpots and a twisted men’s rights movement.”

Tina Horn is the host of Why Are People Into That?! podcast and writes and lectures on sexual subcultures and politics.

CW: bi queers discussing biphobia, whorephobia, transphobia. Vague mentions of fictional characters’ sexual interests.

Listen to Tina’s badass playlists featured in the series- https://open.spotify.com/user/icsf1csd2stfbfepckfsu6yip

And listen to our first conversation here https://www.blogtalkradio.com/graphicpolicy/2020/07/29/comics-writer-tina-horn-on-sfsx-freedom-safety-in-the-scifi-sex-dystopia

Lysa Hawkins Prepares us for the Deadside War as Shadowman Returns in January

Shadowman #5 Cover A Jon Davis-Hunt
Cover A Jon Davis-Hunt

Shadowman returned in 2021 with a four issue arc that brought the character back in a buzzed about series. On January 19th, the series next arc kicks off with Shadowman #5, the start of the “Deadside War“. The new arc is a jumping on point written by Cullen Bunn, with art by Pedro Andrea, color by Jordie Bellaire, and lettering by Clayton Cowles.

But, the story goes beyond the pages of Shadowman as 2022 also sees the Valiant: Fight for Deadside tabletop game coming to Kickstarter!

We got to talk to senior editor Lysa Hawkins about the series return and what we can expect for the tabletop game tie-in.

Graphic Policy: Shadowman #5 kicks off the “Deadside War”; is there going to be any effect of this felt in other Valiant titles? If so, how much coordination needs to go into something like that?

Lysa Hawkins: While the “Deadside War” takes place within the pages of Shadowman that doesn’t mean that you won’t see how it affects the various heroes of the Valiant Universe.

GP: Can you tell us if we’ll see other Valiant heroes showing up within the pages of Shadowman during the Deadside War?

LH: See previous response… :) Yes! Yes! Yes!

GP: We see Shadowman take a different approach to the burgeoning war by attempting to broker a peace; where did that idea come from?

LH: Clearly from the brilliant mind of Cullen Bunn… Jack is doing some soul searching and tries something new. You know what they say about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? Shadowman may not win…but he’s not crazy!

Shadowman #5 Cover B (Horror Movie Homage Variant) Jonathan Marks Barravecchia
Cover B (Horror Movie Homage Variant) Jonathan Marks Barravecchia

GP: What coordination is going on between the comic and the tabletop game Valiant: Fight for Deadside? Are the two connected?

LH: We are in contact regarding the game storylines and character depictions. From what I’ve seen, it looks amazing!

GP: Not to disparage Jordie Bellaire’s work, but are there any plans on releasing a few pages of the uncoloured art as a bonus feature in the comic or trade?

LH: Nothing can disparage Jordie…She rocks too hard, but yes, I believe the first previews you’ll see of Shadowman #5 will be Pedro’s pencils and inks…and boy are they good!

GP: Shadowman #5 is a jumping on point for the series and continues the series. How hard is it to balance that?

LH: That can be tricky, but not with someone like Cullen at the helm. While Shadowman #5 does continue the story Cullen started in the first arc. You don’t need to have read that arc to pick up issue #5 and start fresh. Hopefully, in the case of the new reader, you’d want to go back and pick up the first arc, but you won’t need to. 

GP: The comic has had a fantastic reception. Does that add any pressure for the new arc?

LH: Yes! But in the best of ways. Cullen’s spinning a great horror tale, Pedro’s art is on fire it’s so hot. I’m super excited to see it come out and see if that fantastic reception doesn’t just grow. I’m so thankful to our fans!

Exclusive: Torunn Grønbekk Discusses Faith and Sisterhood in Warhammer 40,000: Sisters of Battle. Plus a Preview of Issue 4

Warhammer 40,000: Sisters of Battle #4

The world of Games Workshop‘s Warhammer 40,000 has come to Marvel Comics! The second series, written by Torunn Grønbekk with art by Edgar Salazar, finds a squad of Adepta Sororitas, aka Sisters of Battle, on a mission and surrounded by the corruption of Chaos.

I got to ask Torunn about her own history with Warhammer 40,000 and what it’s like to work with Games Workshop and write for the Sisters of Battle.

Graphic Policy: What was your experience with Games Workshop before working on Warhammer 40,000: Sisters of Battle? Have you played any of their games?

Torunn Grønbekk: I got into Warhammer back in the Fantasy days (…20 years ago!) It took me a while to discover the glory of Warhammer 40,000, but after reading up on the lore before painting some Warhammer 40,000 minis for a friend, I was hooked.

– Nowadays, I tend to paint more than I play, but I’ve still got my Sisters of Battle army.

GP: The first edition rulebook of Warhammer 40,000 is almost 35 years old, and there’s so much rich history of the world. Is it overwhelming diving into a project like this?

TG: I’d say it’s more inspirational than overwhelming. There’s, of course, a massive amount of lore to get lost in, but I had a fairly good understanding of the universe when I came on board this project. More often than not, taking a deep dive into researching very specific details would spark new ideas, so I wouldn’t have wanted to be without those side quests for sure.

GP: What type of research goes into a project like this?

TG: The extensive kind. Once I had the general idea in place, I needed to make sure if and how what I had in mind would work. Even the smallest detail needed to be researched and considered. For example, one of the characters is a Sister Dialogus who is on the mission specifically to record and translate ancient symbols carved into the walls of the underground city. Now, I knew they have pict-recorders, but are they readily available? Would they actually be used for something like this? Would it perhaps be built into a cherub that silently and creepily followed the squad, recording everything? (The latter being my favorite option, but it would also mean explaining it, drawing more attention to this specific plot point than was necessary — and of course, it would be one more element for Edgar to draw on almost every page) In the end, and after a ton of research, I opted to equip Sister Heda with plenty of war gear, haughty righteousness, and a notebook instead.

Another important thing was to verify the things I thought I knew to make sure my subjective understanding of the universe was both objectively correct and up-to-date. Like for most people, my knowledge of the lore comes from a mishmash of sources: what I read and play, my friends, the codexes, Black Library books etc. An excellent foundation, but not all sources are created equal, and I needed to make sure I got everything right. That meant a lot of re-reading of the codexes, checking sources online, and if all else failed: asking Games Workshop directly.

GP: What has stood out to you about this force and their history?

TG: Pipe organ tank!!! (I joke, but not really.)

Despite being a staunch atheist, it was this idea of faith I first found truly fascinating about the Sisterhood. And, let’s face it, they are just so damn cool. They are well-considered in every possible way, and I find the miniatures utterly delightful. The first time I saw an Exorcist, I squealed.

GP: Something that has stood out to me is the focus of the squad with this series. The previous series was very much about Marneus and his history. Canoness Veridyan is part of the story, but it comes off as she’s a part of a squad, not the center of attention. Was the shift to pulling the focus away from an individual on purpose?

TG: Very much so. I wanted to write a story that rang true to people familiar with The Sisters and the lore, but also one that works as an introduction to The Sisters for those who aren’t. Focusing on the sisterhood, following one squad, and how they worked together seemed more appropriate than singling out one specific Sister. Canoness Veridyan is a great character in her own right, but she is first and foremost a commander in The Order Militant. If you want to get to know her, I believe the best approach is to see how she leads and puts her trust in her squad.

GP: There’s also a very interesting change in that the previous series was very open in its settings while this is very claustrophobic in tunnels underground. Was that intentional?

TG: Absolutely! The tunnels serve a practical function, too: I wanted the squad cut off from the rest of the army, which meant sending them somewhere the Sister’s Vox just couldn’t reach.

It also lends itself well to worldbuilding. Civilian life in Warhammer 40,000 is always interesting (if, y’know, dire), and though we focus mostly on the Sisters and the cult, my goal was to make the underground city a place that felt lived in. I spent a lot of time figuring out how the population would spend its days, what kind of work they do, what they eat, how they worship, and it all began with the architecture of the underground city. (Not all of that makes it into the comic, of course, but some things do, like the giant mirror relay system that transports light from the surface down throughout the city. The idea was that this population that rarely, if ever, sees daylight would find the blinding Emperor’s light transporting – much more a religious experience than, say, a sermon. That fact that we could use it to blind some heretics before killing them was just the icing on the cake.)

GP: Chaos has corrupted the planet Siscia. Was there ever a discussion about another enemy or was it always Chaos? Genestealer Cults feel like they’d work well with this story as well.

TG: Certainly! Genestealer cults were actually very much on the table (so to speak), but as I worked through how I wanted things to play out, how much space we had available to tell the story etc, Chaos ended up as a better choice.

GP: There’s been a lot about the Sister’s faith in the Emperor. It’s absolutely something that makes them stand out from other forces of the Imperium. Was that something you really wanted to highlight through the story?

TG: Definitely. The Sister’s faith is such an integral part of their characters and history, it wouldn’t have been possible to do a story focused around them without prominently featuring their faith. There are no doubting sisters, no agnostics, no “I’m more spiritual than religious” sisters. Their faith is their most prized possession. This fanaticism is partly what I think makes them great, and in some ways, believable. I’ve tried to lean into it as much as possible, as it explains both their tactics and their behavior on the battlefield. I’ve also tried to feature and touch on things like The Repentia, faith healing, and other of the more quirky yet powerful sides of their faith.

GP: What’s it like working with the Games Workshop team? What’s their input on the comic series?

TG: It’s been great! They’ve been extremely helpful during the entire process, from finding correct references to going over the scripts and pages to make sure everything holds up. 

GP: What has surprised you the most while working on this series?

TG: I’m not sure surprised is the correct word, but more… continually amazed by the wealth and depth of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. I’ve always been struck by the imagination and delight that’s gone into the miniatures and the level of detail you find in both the characters and the lore. (It’s one of my favorite things about painting minis – figuring out what all the little details are, who the character is and what that mean-looking weapon does.) I quickly found that same attention to detail in all the other aspects of the universe, too. Nothing is easy or straightforward in Warhammer 40,000, but that’s in part what makes it work so well. Take something like time; it would be impossible to make a universal time system that would work for all the star systems and worlds across the universe and still feel authentic, so they didn’t. Instead, we get the opportunity to make a time system that would make sense locally, which, though difficult, adds to the worldbuilding.

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