Category Archives: Interviews

Daniel Kibblesmith: writing Loki, Colbert & being funny on the Internet

Daniel Kibblesmith is an Emmy-Nominated writer for The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, and the writer of comics like Marvel’s “Loki” (2019), “Black Panther Vs. Deadpool” (2018) and others. He’s also the author of picture books like “Santa’s Husband” (2017) and the upcoming, “Princess Dinosaur” (2020). He was one of the founding editors of ClickHole (2014) and his humor writing can be seen in places like The New Yorker and McSweeney’s.

We talk about the differences between writing humor in comics, TV, movies, and Twitter.


  • The universal appeal of a High School AU
  • Loki as a 60 year redemption project
  • Is Loki immune to woobification?
  • “Like you’re all playing MST3K together but with the entire world”
  • That Low Key t-shirt
  • A hierarchy of 4th wall breaking

Follow @Elana_Brooklyn on Twitter.

Matt Miner and Christopher Peterson Talk Haunted Muscle Cars and Death Trap!

Kickstarter chase variant cover, art and color by Darren Lo (@DLo168)
Kickstarter chase variant cover, art, and color by Darren Lo (@DLo168)

From the Death Trap Press Release:

A haunted muscle car, a circus crime family, a dancing bear, bearded women, methed out carnies, crab twins, and a young woman teamed up with the ghost of her dead father on a mission of vengeance: just some of the utter insanity that awaits you in the hot new comic Death Trap, now launched on Kickstarter!

The 4-issue mini-series is the high-octane brainchild of creators Matt Miner (Toe Tag Riot, All We Ever Wanted) and Christopher Peterson (Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight). Josh Jensen and  Matt Krotzer are the colorist and letterer on the book.

Recently, Matt and Chris took the time to answer a few questions for Graphic Policy about Death Trap and its inspiration.

Adam Cadmon: So the obvious question, why a Mercury Cougar? Does that model have personal significance?

Matt Miner: I mean, it’s a badass muscle car that doesn’t see enough love in pop culture.  Look at those hidden headlights – just makes that front grill so sexy.  It’s also the car I’m looking to buy, you know, when I can afford it, and find one with a manual transmission that’s in good running shape, because I’m a comic writing dog rescuer, not a mechanic.

Christopher Peterson: I think Matt decided to find a car that no one has any extensive reference for me to draw … so I hope he likes 1968 Ford Mustangs in half his panels. But seriously, it’s cool to have something different instead of the usual muscle cars.

AC: The book’s press release states that Death Trap is a “love letter to carsploitation and revenge flicks of the 1970s and 1980s…” What made you want to explore this type of book now?

MM:  Most of my previous work has more of a political edge, but I think right now in the world of 2019, we need fun escapes more and more.  I’ve been a huge fan of B-movies my whole life, and am stoked to partner up with Chris, who has experience bringing the exploitation film feeling to comics.  This comic is an enormous amount of wild and bloody fun.

CP: I like this era/style/genre because it’s got a lot of clunk to it. I enjoy the grounded foundation where there’s no magic or anything, just people in a rural area without all this slick technology and style … and then we dump the wacky onto it. I love realism, but with a slight kick to it – everything has just a bit of an aberrant or bizarre quality to it that makes it fun

AC: You’ve done some socially conscious stuff in the past, Matt, will Death Trap address current events or is this a more localized story as regards Ollie and her family?

MM: Death Trap steers clear of real-life politics in an overt sense.  At least for me, it’s nice to get a break from that stuff that hangs over our heads every day, and dive into a world of circus freaks and vendettas and dancing bears.  My fingerprints are all over this thing, though – it’s not like we kicked our progressive sensibilities to the curb when creating the book.

And our albino dancing bear’s name is Wojtek (pronounced Voy-tek) after the World War 2 Polish bear who carried artillery shells and smashed Nazis. 

CP: I think the main thread going through all this is that we treat these characters like people, including backstories. We’re not here to make fun of people with differences or laugh at their situation – we hope we’re empowering them – and that hopefully comes across.

AC: This book crosses into several genres, that said, what overall tone are you going for?

MM: F’n bananas fun.

CP: Finding peace in chaos.

Check out the Kickstarter for Death Trap here!

Adam is a writer, an explorer of consciousness, a dog owner (times 2) and a decent fellow if you ask him. He currently lives in a suburb about 20 minutes from downtown Atlanta.

Fernando Dagnino Talks bringing out his inner Killers for the New Valiant Series

Killers #1

With art by Fernando Dagnino, five deadly assassins are recruited into a game of cat and mouse by their former sensei, the mysterious Jonin!

But what does the Jonin want from them, and what do they gain out of helping him?

Each of these assassins can channel their ki—the spiritual energy within all beings—in different ways, granting them incredible powers, essentially making them “superninjas”!

Coming July 31st is Killers from writer B. Clay Moore, art by Fernando Dagnino, colors by José Villarrubia, and letters by Jeff Powell.

We got a chance to talk to Fernando about the new series and letting the art tell the story.

GP: Killers follows a cast of characters who haven’t really been seen too much, if at all, before. How much creative input did you have with their design?

Fernando Dagnino: I took the concept art done by AJ Jothikumar for the Ninjas as an initial reference, but then I was given freedom to adapt the designs while maintaining the idiosyncrasy of the characters. My reference was the sort of underworld portrayed in such films as John Wick or Atomic Blonde

Fernando Dagnino Killers #1

GP: I’ve never been to Italy, despite having grown up in Europe, but the backgrounds of those scenes were immediately recognizable to me as a Mediterranean setting. How much time do you spend researching the locations in the series?

FD: In fact when I first read the script of #1, one of the things that shocked me most were the settings, in particular, the Italian scene because I had traveled to Burano two years ago. So I knew perfectly well how it looked like and how to render the scene. Burano is a beautiful island near Venice, Italy, where all the houses are painted in beautiful saturated colors and of course it´s crossed by channels just like Venice. I found it to be really original and daring to set a crime scene in such a colorful scenery.

But the constant change from one gorgeous scenery to the next one is an essential part of story and describes perfectly well the lifestyle of these sophisticated killers. In that sense building up well documented settings provides a greater realism to the story.

Fernando Dagnino Killers #1

GP: The first issue features quite a few moments where the narration allows the art to tell the story, especially within the opening sequences. As an artist, how do you approach these pages when you see the script?

FD: I’ve felt really comfortable working with B.Clay Moore´s script from the beginning because it allows space for the art to tell the story. I personally prefer to work like that. It makes me feel like I´m part of the storytelling too and I really get more passionate and excited about the story.

GP: Do you know roughly what you want to do for each page before you start the thumbnails and rough layouts, or does it take you a few different tries to find the best choice for each page?

Fernando Dagnino Killers #1

FD: When I first read the script I make some illegible thumbnail layouts on the paper on which I have printed the script. I got stuck in the ’90s, I still print and read!

Then, taking those cryptic thumbnails as a reference, I begin drawing on the Ipad an initial layout that would be halfway between a layout and a pencil.

In these layouts I also mark the grey scales so I get a better idea of the composition and the atmosphere of the page. That´s what I send the editors for approval and then I go on to the final art.

Some pages really come out easy whereas others I tend to resolve not so gracefully or rather using mechanical resources, in those cases I like to give a second or third try in order to step out of the way so that something simpler and more direct comes up.

GP: How much freedom do you have with the layouts and page construction with this series? Do you prefer working from a full script, or do you prefer the “Marvel Way”? 

FD: I really must thank the editors Karl Bollers and David Menchel because they have placed total trust on my narrative skills and I have felt part of the storytelling from the beginning.

Fernando Dagnino Killers #1

As you´ve mentioned some scenes are left open for a looser interpretation of the narrative, and personally not only do I feel much more comfortable from a creative point of view, but it also helps me get more involved in the story and with the characters. B.Clay Moore is to thank here for understanding the nature of the process in comic books so well. 

GP: You’ve also worked with the Walt Disney Company Imagineers. How does that experience influence your approach to comics, if at all?

FD: That was back in 1998 I was really young when I worked for the imagineers.  It was a wonderful experience being in L.A. (Glendale and Burbank). I had the chance to visit the old studios in Flower street and they even sent me to Disneyland one whole day to conduct research!

It has influenced me a lot professionally as it was my first contact with high level artistic professionals and with a working process full of talent and excellence.

Fernando Dagnino Killers #1

But I was already a comic addict by then so my main influence has always been comic book artists and writers.

GP: Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the final question; which is better? Ninjas, cowboys, aliens or zombies, and why?

FD: That´s a tricky question. To be honest, the idea of brainless hordes of undead trying to eat the remaining freethinkers of the world resonates to me now more than ever. So I go for zombies.

GP: Thanks for chatting and excited to check out the series!

The Zahra The Shadow Flame Team Talks Indie Comics and the Need for Representation

I recently had a chance to interview the creative team behind Zahra The Shadow Flame, who just finished their Kickstarter on 06/04/2019 for issues 3 & 4 ( It was unsuccessful, but the team pushes on!) As their book provides quite a different take on gender roles, superheroes, villains, and family dynamics and I wanted to know the genesis of it all and how they made such a great book outside of the Big 2 publishers

Rakan Sindi(Creator/Writer)

Kali Baker-Johnson(Creator/Artist)

Graphic Policy: What were your favorite books/cartoons/ comics growing up?

Rakan Sindi (Creator/Writer): My all-time favorite media franchise is Dragonball Z. Where I’m from, Saudi Arabia, we were not exposed to that kind of entertainment in our youth. My older brother, who was studying in the USA, would buy VHS tapes of Dragonball and bring them back to Saudi during his vacations and that’s how I was exposed to it. 

Kali Baker-Johnson (Creator/Writer): I was a big X-Men and Spider-Man reader, a big Marvel guy in general. I learned to read from my Dad’s old Spider-Man comics from the 60’s, which I still have. And then I watched all the related Saturday Morning cartoon shows. As far as books, I read all the serialized genre stuff for kids, Goosebumps, The Boxcar Children, the My Teacher is an Alien series. And I really, really, loved A Wrinkle in Time

GP: Is there some specific creators that influenced you?

RS: Geoff Johns has been a true influence when it comes to comic books. His work on Aquaman and Justice League from the New 52 is beautiful. 

KBJ: For comics: Alan Moore, David Mack, Brian Michael Bendis. When I got back into comics in high school they were the ones I was really drawn to. Moore’s Watchmen is the best comic I’ve ever read. Bendis’ Alias is the most fun I’ve ever had reading a comic, and David Mack’s Kabuki actually changed my life.

GP: What are your primary influences which you draw upon in your work?

RS: My primary influences are Christopher Nolan, Geoff Johns, Akira Toriyama and Jim Lee. 

KBJ: For Zahra specifically, I think one of the biggest influences is the cartoon show Gargoyles. I love that show and don’t think it gets the credit it deserves. The way it seamlessly melds all these disparate genres and elements into a cohesive world, and keeps it all thematically related to a social message, that’s a big thing we’re trying to do with Zahra.

GP: I see a lot of David Mack and Art Spiegelman in your work, are they influences and if so, how big were they?

KBJ: Wow, yeah. As I said earlier Kabuki changed my life, and Maus was the book that made me get back into comics in high school in the first place. I was actually assigned Maus in English class and the idea that a comic could be taken seriously as literature really excited me. Honestly, I’m very flattered, but I’m not sure how you picked up on that. I think some of the painted backgrounds in the comic are Mack-esque, but I can’t take credit for those. That was all our colorist Michelle’s idea.

GP: What influence do your parents have on your work? What was their reaction, when you told what you wanted to do for a living?

RS: My parents are very influential in everything that I do in life. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do every day. I grew up in a very conservative country and, at the time, cinema, comic books, and entertainment in general were banned, and my parents were very supportive when I told them about my dreams to become a filmmaker despite all of that. My country has changed since then and cinemas are finally open. 

KBJ: I think my parents seep into whatever I do, along with the rest of my upbringing. And they’re great. They’re incredibly supportive. I think they realize filmmaking and comic creating are not the safest fields, but they’re proud of the tenacity I’m approaching them with. 

GP: Do you all have any film influences?

RS: Of course! Film has been a big part of my childhood. I learned English from watching movies as kid with subtitles.  My favorite film is The Dark Knight. I am always amazed at how movies can bring the characters written in books to life. 

KBJ: Oh yeah. Filmmaking is still my main focus, comic creating has kind of been a vacation from that. It’s been like fulfilling a dream I didn’t know I had. But yeah: Steven Soderbergh, Alfonso Cuaron, Michael Haneke, David Simon, Richard Linklater, Steve McQueen, Lynne Ramsay, Jim Jarmusch, Satoshi Kon, all big influences. And I like how good Michael Bay is at blowing stuff up.

GP: What was the inspiration behind Zahra The Shadow Flame?

RS: My main inspiration comes from my personal experiences and things I witnessed back home in Saudi Arabia. For instance, there was a school fire in 2002 that killed many innocent people. The main reason for it was a misunderstanding between the conservative police and the firefighters. The conservatives deemed it important that the firefighters not enter the school and rescue the girls due to the girls being indecent. We wanted to tell a story about hope, courage and the will to change the kind of idealistic thinking that can have these tragic consequences. Change them into something greater, something better, in the hopes that it could inspire generations to come. 

GP: How did you all come together? What drew each of you to the initial idea?

RS: I met Kali at Chapman University. We were both pursuing a master’s degree in Film Production. We co-wrote a short film that I directed for my thesis. We decided to turn that short film into a feature screenplay, but we realized it wasn’t realistic for that movie to be made so we decided that the best way to continue telling the story was to publish a comic book. And so we started Adam Comics in 2017. 

KBJ: Yeah. Rakan asked me to help him with the idea for his thesis film, initially it was more of a straightforward family drama. I suggested he bring some of his love for action movies into the story and he came back with this superheroic tale. And then we developed it together from there. I loved the idea of a young girl deciding to live out loud, and coming into her own within a society that wants her silenced. And that could apply to pretty much any society on Earth. And I also loved being able to dive into Middle Eastern mythology, which I am still learning about.

GP: How important was the setting to this book?

RS: For me personally, the story of Zahra is grounded in the setting that we created. A lot of the cultural relevance comes from that setting. Different cultures have different rules. We wanted to tell the story that relates to the Middle East. And to shed light on the good, the bad and the ugly of that part of the world. 

GP: How was the research? Anything you were more than surprised to find out about?

RS: One of the biggest surprises that we encountered was the law change that allowed women to drive in Saudi Arabia. Our initial story revolved around the idea that because women couldn’t drive, Zahra had to make the hard choice of driving the car to save the school. But just a month before we began production of Issue #1, Saudi changed the law. So we had to restructure the story to adhere to the new reality. Fun fact, before that rule took effect, Saudi was the only country in the world that did not allow women to drive a car. 

KBJ: I found out that a lot of Islamic cultures don’t have much of a history of representational art, which I found fascinating. We wanted to try and follow the culture’s lead on the art for the comic, but because of how images are looked at religiously there wasn’t a lot to draw from. That’s a huge difference from a lot of other cultures that I wasn’t expecting to find.

GP: How important was it to have a young female protagonist?

RS: I think it is very important. A lot of young girls feel unheard in that part of the world. We wanted to tell a story from that perspective and to influence young women to look up to Zahra, in the hopes that someday they could be the heroes that they were born to be. 

GP: What misconceptions of living in the Middle East you were eager to set straight?

RS: There are many, but for me the biggest misconception is that wearing the hijab is not a sign of weakness. Women who choose to wear it are just as strong as women who don’t, and it’s not something that anyone should be ashamed of. For those who wear it, it stands for something greater.  

GP: I see that you have taken some ancient history from Saudi Arabia and even Jordan, do you feel the world doesn’t know enough about the history? Do you feel your work is a reclamation? Will we see the book explore more legends from this part of the world in future issues?

RS: Absolutely, there are many wonderful stories that should be explored. Many of which are being forgotten. We hope that we can bring those back and make them exciting again so that they can live forever in our comics. 

KBJ: Yeah, that’s just been a lot of fun for me, researching the mythology. There’s definitely a lot more coming.  

GP: Rakan and Kali, what do you think you took from film school which has helped with your storytelling abilities?

RS: Writing for comics is very different from writing a screenplay. As a filmmaker, I had to learn how to translate words into something more visual to explain what is intended to create the film. For example, creating storyboards. That helped me in the way I wrote the panels for the comic books. I had to explain every panel as visually as possible, just like a storyboard. 

KBJ: Yeah, writing screenplays are more like stageplays, in that you avoid getting too specific about the visuals. Writing a comic script is more like sitting down with a storyboard artist. But yeah, comics, novels, films, plays, they’re all very different, even though they’re all about stories. But I think the more you learn about the specifics of one medium, the more you can appreciate the specifics of the others. One big adjustment from writing screenplays to comics is dealing with the page count per issue, and where your double page spreads fall. A lot of your pacing is determined by the pages. It’s kind of like writing for TV and having to hit your commercial breaks. 

GP: Should readers perceive Suliman as an antagonist or how the world would see these Zahra and her mother’s powers in real life? Or both?

RS: To me, the best antagonist is a character that the reader can relate to and understand where they come from. Suliman is a very complex character. He is torn between the two most important things in his life. His love of God/civic duty and his family. Two of which go hand in hand. But under the circumstances he is presented with, he is forced to choose a path that he never thought was possible. Yes, he is the antagonist of the story. 

KBJ: Yeah, but he’s definitely the bad guy.

GP: Do you think Suliman’s beliefs outweigh his love for his family? Is his thinking already outdated in the Middle East, or is it still common?

RS: I think it’s still common in many cultures, not only the Middle East. Like I said, because of the circumstances that Suliman is presented with, he is forced to act the way he does. 

KBJ: Yeah, I think there are clear analogs for Suliman and the Tidesmen here in the US. I’m hoping people don’t read the issue and only see what’s presented as some sort of foreign problem, I think this whole story could take place in the states. As far as Suliman’s beliefs, I think of it kind of like a pendulum swing. Some days his beliefs win out, some days it’s family, and like Rakan is saying a lot of it’s circumstantial. I think that’s how most people are. But I think the thing that really motivates Suliman more than either of those things is ego. He’s a bit of a narcissist. He claims to want piety from his family, but what he really wants is deference to himself.

GP: The importance of this book underscores the imbalance of gender politics, even in our part of the world, do you consider yourselves feminists?

RS: I must admit that I learned the term feminism here in the US. Growing up in Saudi the word was never used, but you didn’t need to know the term to see that women were being treated unfairly. It’s still strange to me how much emphasis is put on the label in the US. With Zahra, we certainly have always strived to write a story about women’s equality with the hope that it empowers and informs the next generation, so it would be an honor for me to be called a feminist, but I wonder if I have done enough to be deserving of the title. 

KBJ: Yeah, I would consider myself a feminist, but I feel like feminism means a thousand different things to a thousand different people nowadays. To me, it means knowing that women are equal to men, while also recognizing that we live in a society that doesn’t treat women as equals. But believing that doesn’t mean that I don’t succumb to my own privilege at times.

GP: How has the reception been to the book?

RS: It has been generally great so far. We just want more people to read our books. 

KBJ: Yeah, and we have pretty good ratings on the places we’ve made it available. But we still don’t feel like we’ve done a good job of hitting our target audience.

GP: I read that you translated to Arabic, how has the reception been there?

RS: One of my friends has read it and it moved her to tears. 

KBJ: Yeah. She is a young woman from Saudi who reached out to us and said that we captured her home with complexity and nuance. That meant a lot to me, especially because I’m very aware that I’m an outsider looking in and I want to be as respectful of the culture as possible. I defer to Rakan a lot in the writing because he knows the region in ways that I don’t.

GP: Do you have any favorite comics /books you are reading right now? 

RS: I am currently reading My Hero Academia and it is really great.

KBJ: I’m behind on monthlies, but I’ve been reading Coates’ Black Panther, Pearl and Cover from Jinxworld, and Cain’s Man-Eaters.

GP: What do you think is most important when capturing a moment in time to render in a panel for the reader to take in?

KBJ: Hmmm… I kinda feel like that’s a trick question. I think I might be referencing Scott McCloud when I say the magic of comics is in between the panels, not within them. Time passes in the margins. So it’s not really about capturing a moment in time, it’s about suggesting a moment before and a moment after. So that the panels can interact with each other. 

GP: When was the first time, you identified with a character on TV/in the movies/ or between the pages of a book?

KBJ: Wow. I honestly couldn’t tell you. I just know it was early, it might have been with Grover on Sesame Street or something like that. I feel like I’ve always gravitated towards characters and stories, and not just ones with people who looked like me or lived lives similar to my own. I will say I remember reading my Dad’s Spider-Man comics as a kid and being introduced to the Prowler, and loving that character, and at least part of my love for the character being that he was black like me, in addition to him being brilliant. I still love the Prowler.

GP: How important is representation in comics to you as creators and to your target audience?

RS: It is very important. I think that if you misrepresent the characters you will lose the readers interest. A lot of research goes into making sure the characters are real and authentic. 

KBJ: Yeah, I think it’s immensely important, but I’m wary of tokenism and of people using diversity as simply a fad or marketing tool. I think then it’s like what Rakan is saying, it’s a slippery slope to misrepresentation and inauthenticity. But I think what Milestone Comics did in the 90’s was amazing. Like that is the goal in my mind. You took people that had a genuine, personal interest in telling stories with people from underrepresented backgrounds, and they came up with original characters and stories around that idea. And they owned it. That’s what we’re trying to do, we’re writing about who we are and what we’re genuinely interested in, and we own it and we want people who relate to it to feel some ownership of it too. That’s a big reason why it was important to publish in Arabic as well, we wanted the book to feel as homegrown as possible. 

GP: What are the pros and cons of publishing a book like this independently?

RS: Pros – you are in control of what you write and create. Cons – it is very expensive and very hard to reach your audience. 

KBJ: Yeah we had the chance to work with a publisher early on and we walked away from the deal. We still think it was a good decision, but we also didn’t anticipate how much of an uphill battle marketing the book would be when we decided to take it all on ourselves. That’s been the biggest struggle with publishing independently. But we did get to make the book exactly the way we wanted it. 

GP: Are there any current artists/writers out there you admire and would like to work with?

RS: Geoff Johns.

KBJ: Oh man. Tons. Humberto Ramos, Sara Pichelli, David Marquez, Bryan Hitch, Ronald Wimberley, David Finch, Michael Gaydos, Alex Maleev, Josh Middleton, Sanya Anwar, Ashley A. Woods, Jae Lee, Chris Bachalo, Kaare Andrews, Damion Scott, Travis Charest… I could keep going. And that’s just pencilers. I also did an ashcan with another great artist, Marcelo Salaza, that I’m very proud of. It’s called “L.A. Burning” and it’s very different from Zahra.

GP: Any advice for aspiring writers/artists?

RS: Don’t be afraid to do what you love. If you have a passion for it, just go for it. 

KBJ: Yeah. Just find a way to start, and then start. And don’t be afraid to fail, that’s the only way you grow. 

GP: What do you want readers to take away from your books?

RS: Inspire, entertain and inform. We also want to bridge the gap between the US and the Middle East. 

KBJ: Yeah, all that stuff. But at the end of the day, the most important thing to me is that people have fun reading it. You can have all kinds of world-changing ideas for the betterment of society, but if your story is bad and your book is boring, you failed. It’s that simple… but, of course, boring is in the eye of the beholder. 

GP: Anything you want our readers to know about Zahra The Shadow Flame?

RS: You can download the first issue for free, in English and Arabic, on our website: And Issue #2 is available for purchase as well. 

GP: What are you working on next?

RS: We are currently working on starting production of Issue #3 and #4 to complete the first story arc. We have outlined Story Arc 2 and 3. And we will be writing those issues soon. 

KBJ: Yeah man. And we’re both working on film projects as well, I’ll actually begin shooting mine in a couple weeks. Stay tuned!

Return of the Toe Tag Riot! A chat with series creators Matt Miner and Sean Von Gorman

Return of the Toe Tag Riot

Toe Tag Riot, the comic book series that the infamous hate group Westboro Baptist Church claimed would “split Hell wide open” is back for round 2 and on Kickstarter, with the Return of the Toe Tag Riot.

Guest contributor Adam Cadmon got to talk to writer Matt Miner and penciler/inker Sean Von Gorman about the series which features colors by Gab Contreras and letters by Taylor Esposito.

ADAM CADMON: So, where did the concept for a zombie punk rock band originate?

MATT MINER: I grew up in the punk scene, and never really left, so all my work has a punk rock vibe to it because that’s the world I know and love – some books, like this one, are just a pure love letter to punk rock and the accepting and cool people I’ve known through my life.

SEAN VON GORMAN: I remember at some point at a convention we started talking about what if Matt was a vegan zombie, and what he would eat? Obviously he would have to eat people because zombies can’t survive on grains. And being an ethical punk if he HAD to eat people he would pick the worst people to eat. I think there is a sketch somewhere of a zombie Matt eating a little tofu person.

MM: Oh, yeah!  I think I have that sketch around here somewhere, actually.

Return of Toe Tag Riot

AC: Why did you go with the “thinking” zombie angle opposed to the mindless eater?

MM: The undead-zombie comic has been done to death, pun intended.  With Toe Tag Riot it was kind of like “What if you weren’t always a zombie?  If you knew what you were doing, who would you choose to eat?”  I mean, everyone’s gotta eat, but they can choose a more ethical course.

SVG: I feel no epic kill is ever complete without a snarky comment like an ’80s action movie star. For example, right before a zombie punk bites into a bad dude he says something like “It was nice to EAT you!”  Wait, that was pretty good. Matt, write that one down.

Return of the Toe Tag Riot

AC: Let me springboard a little; the choice to have the band cursed instead of turned always interested me…where’d that idea come from?

MM: I don’t remember how that came about, really, but what really appealed to me about the idea was this way you see both sides of the character – the ravenous zombie and the human toll it takes on them when they eat the wrong skinhead and have diarrhea for hours.

SVG: I remember part of the initial conversation on this was that the group’s bodies would start to physically breakdown as they rotted. A punk band in a tour bus smells bad enough when they aren’t zombies.

AC: You’ve had several guest stars in the past, can you give us anything–anything at all–in terms of who we should expect as either allies or foes in volume 2?

MM: Sean and I have some rock star pals, and we like to drop them in here and there.  Andy Hurley, from Fall Out Boy, is a returning regular and the band’s number one roadie, and I sure would like to sneak GWAR into the pages at some point since they’re such a huge inspiration for this book.

AC: Are there any plans to expand the Toe Tag universe, i.e., web series, movies, etc.?

MM: Sure, why not?  Would love to see a B-movie a’la Troma Films, but, you know, money and all.

SVG: I would love to see a big screen Toe Tag Riot!  I want toys of Toe Tag Riot!  We had considered the idea of doing a series of comic shorts. There are so many horrible people out there that it’s hard to keep up with in print.

AC: Are there any upcoming projects that you’d like to talk about?

MM: I have Lab Raider out currently from Black Mask Studios – it’s the story of these 2 women who take on dog fighters and animal abusers.  These are characters I’ve written in a few series now, and this particular volume gets really weird.  Also, the new GWAR graphic novel is in production and you can pre-order that at right now!

SVG: I have School Lab Raider, basically Lab Raider but for they are kids. Which may possibly come out as a back up in an upcoming issue of Lab Raider. I also have a story in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Freshman Force from Devils Due that is going into its 2nd printing.

MM: I think that Lab Raider backup is scheduled for issue 3, as long as we get it in time.  Issue 1 is on stands now – get it! HEY! The Kickstarter for Return of the Toe Tag Riot is live! Click the link to learn more!

Adam is a writer, an explorer of consciousness, a dog owner (times 2) and a decent fellow if you ask him. He currently lives in a suburb about 20 minutes from downtown Atlanta.

Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn Talk Taking Archie to War in Archie 1941

Archie 1941

Archie has been around for decades and while we might know the Riverdale kids for their high school hijinks they’ve also seen unique and interesting takes.

Archie 1941, recently released in trade, is a tale set in Riverdale during World War II. It finds Riverdale dealing with the impact of the impending conflict on the small town and in the personal lives of Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, and Reggie.

We got a chance to talk to writers Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn about the research that went into the series and its honest look at the homefront during that time.

Graphic Policy: Where’d the concept for Archie: 1941 come from? Was that something you pitched to Archie or did they come to you?

Mark Waid: That was cooked up by the home office and was a great idea.

Brian Augustyn: The front office at Archie came up with that, 1941 being the year Archie made his debut in Pep Comics. Great inspiration.

Archie 1941

GP: What type of research did you do for it? There seems to be an eye for the design and detail of the time.

MW: Both Brian and I dug in deep. We wanted to get it all right — the language, the homefront shortages, the hints of an isolationist, “keep us out of this” movement — we hit every internet resource we could.

BA: We lived on the internet, of course, and a trip or two to libraries. Movies from the time helped, too. Also, my parents and grandparents lived through that time and I, fortunately, remembered a lot. Alas, they’re gone now, so I hope Diamond ships to the great beyond.

GP: Some of the scenes, especially in the fourth issue are very cinematic. Were there any influences in the war sequences as far as the visuals and pacing?

BA: Pete brought his dedication and talent to capture the period and the combat scenes brilliantly.

Archie 1941

GP: The series really stands out in the beginning as it doesn’t have everyone completely on board with the war. You could easily have fallen into a jingoistic trap but you didn’t. Why was it necessary to show this side of history?

MW: Again, accuracy. In today’s era of instant global information, where worldwide news is delivered to us 24/7, we forget that in 1941 most people got their news from the local daily newspaper or occasionally from radio, neither of which was in a position to really, truly convey the drama happening in Europe.

BA: I don’t think either Mark or I are jingoists anyway, but especially when working with history, there’s no need to impose opinions over the true drama. Also, that period and the war presented us with great real-life stories. We found some really awesome true events and personal stories.

Archie 1941

GP: Is there anything particular about Archie and his friends that makes it a bit easier to explore history with them?

MW: They’re elastic characters, as proven by the fact that they’ve been around, vital, and a recognized part of pop culture for 80 years. They can adapt to any circumstance, any era.

BA: We all know them so well after all these eras, and because they’re such everypeople they are perfect in any kind of story.

GP: There’s a death of a well-known character in this. How freeing is it for you as writers to be able to do that sort of thing?

MW: Tremendously. The flip side to the characters having been around and vital for 80 years is that it’s dangerous to shake up the status quo too much — you never know what you might accidentally break.

BA: It was driven by the story, and layered the last chapter with tragedy over the layers of joy and relief. It was a fitting turn of events.

Archie 1941

GP: Visually for that sequence, and the battles as a whole, you all shied away from blood and gore when you could have easily gone that route. What went in to the thinking about going that way?

BA: We don’t need gore, and anyway, the combat played out to be mostly seen from a distance, with planes buzz bombing the scattering troops.

GP: So many stories surrounding the war focus on the battles themselves. In Archie: 1941 there’s also a focus on the impact at home. Did you have a more war focused take at one point? Why was it important to show the impact on the home front?

BA: Not at all; it was always going to be Riverdale-centric. The war’s effect on the families at home was ultimately our favorite part.

Archie 1941

MW: It was always largely — at first, exclusively — about the homefront. Riverdale is as much a “character” in the Archieverse as are the kids. It was Brian who suggested we follow Archie overseas, and it was a good call.

GP: On the home front aspect, you also dive into topics like profiteering and cooperation with Germany and Nazis by some Americans. This is a pretty brutally honest and truthful take on the war you don’t hear in school. Thoughts on that?

BA: Those were realities of the period and added texture to our historical tale.

MW: Again, historical accuracy. That, second only to telling a good story, was of great importance to us. Getting back to what I said earlier, not every average American had a true perspective on what was really happening overseas. Veronica’s father, Mr. Lodge, would certainly have been doing business with the Germans prior to Hitler’s declaration of war — he was wealthy because he was a globalist when many millionaires were nationalists.

Archie 1941

GP: It’s interesting to explore history through comics. Is there anything to the medium that benefits those sort of lessons?

BA: Any entertainment that uses history as the spine of the narrative both gains depth and is made palatable to a consumer who might not want a “history lesson.”

MW: It’s a vital storytelling medium. By that, I mean it’s more visceral than simply words on the page of a history book. And unlike a TV documentary, comics allows the reader to take his or her time reading the story, absorbing it at their own pace and being given the luxury to dwell on — and really think about — the parts that move them.

GP: Thanks so much and look forward to seeing what you do with the next decade in Archie 1955!

Tyler Chin-Tanner Discusses Shaking Up Comics with A Wave Blue World

A Wave Blue World

A Wave Blue World announced this week they would be changing their release model in hopes to better serve the market. Instead of the monthly floppy release we’ve come to expect, the publisher will be releasing a “premium” first issue followed by digital releases of the subsequent issues and then a trade collection. The entire release schedule for a series/story has been compacted into a two-month window.

Things kick off this October with two series. Mezo is “a daring Mesoamerican-inspired Game of Thrones-type epic.” Dead Legends is a “martial arts throwback series” that’s described as “Kill Bill meets Enter the Dragon.”

We got a chance to talk to A Wave Blue World’s co-founder Tyler Chin-Tanner about this bold initiative, his view as to where the industry stands, and why this direction is the right one.

Graphic Policy: Before we get to the big announcement, there are lots of conversations about the “state” of the comics industry and how to move forward. What are the challenges facing the industry and what opportunities do you see in the future?

Tyler Chin-Tanner: That depends on what part of the industry we’re talking about. If we’re talking single issues, not very well. There are way too many comics released every week by companies whose main objective is to dominate the market share while making their money through other forms of media.

But if we’re talking graphic novels and tpb collections, it’s doing really well. New readers are picking up comics in book form everyday. Many of them are young readers, a demographic that this industry has ignored for too long. They’re starting to read with comics and sticking with it. 

It’s become almost two entirely separate markets. The direct marketing competing against the book market. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Our new Premier Program aims to integrate the two. By releasing only a single issue in comic form, there’s never a question of which issue number the reader will find on the shelves. This issue will provide the perfect introduction to the series and if they want to read more, they can order the trade paperback right there in that same store.

GP: Your announcement is a shift in how comics are sold. You’re selling a “premier” first issue and then subsequent issues digitally every two weeks or the collected edition within two months. What brought you to the conclusion that this was the direction to go?

TCT: Well, the Premier Program is a shift in how our comics are produced, but it’s actually based on how comics are currently purchased. Looking at the market, there’s generally a lot of interest in the first issue but then there’s a drop in sales from there. This is the result of a growing number of readers waiting on the trade or a loss of interest during the month-long gap (if not longer) between each subsequent issue. We’ve eliminated the wait. 


GP: Was there something special about the two-week release schedule for the digital releases?

TCT: We’re reducing the wait time from the typical monthly issue to better fit with how people consume media. The monthly comic schedule is an old model established by companies who would put out an issue of the same title every month and the creative team needed at least that much time to pump out another story. But now, we’re all about the story arc. We put out 4 to 6 issues and then it gets collected into a trade paperback. Issues are like chapters and who wants to wait a full month to read the next chapter?

GP: There are a few other publishers who have moved to this model or adding more material to print issues. Is there anything in particular that you’re seeing as success when it comes to this or feedback from readers that makes this approach stand out as the right way to go?

TCT: Our Premier Edition is more than a #1. Sure, it includes the full first issue, but there’s also a lot of content not found anywhere else that provides a full introduction to the concept and characters. It’s a peek inside the mind of the creators and the world they’ve built. We’re inviting you to the Premier and we want it to be a special experience. 

GP: It feels like marketing this approach would be a big shift, especially the digital aspect. Do you have particular plans regarding that?

TCT: Our plan is to make it all work seamlessly. Readers have their individual preferences, but there’s no reason to put up walls between digital and print or single issues and trades. We want to amplify the strength of each format.

GP: When it comes to the digital, where will the issues be available? Is the first issue going to be available digitally as well and have the premier material? Are you going to advertise that in the physical first issue?

TCT: The digital issue will be readily available on a number of platforms including Comixology and our new partner, Spinwhiz. We also plan on making downloads available directly from our website,

Each digital issue will have its own unique cover that’s different from the one on the Premier Edition. Anyone will be able to read the full story through the digital issues, but they won’t contain the same back matter as the print issue. That’s exclusive content for the Premier Edition.

GP: There also seems like there’s a tighter time frame to market the comics, which can be good. It’d allow you all to focus a bit more on a few releases in a short time period as opposed to numerous releases spread out over months.

TCT: That’s exactly right. It’s a singular story arc so why spread it out any longer than it needs to be? Readers prefer a shorter timeframe and to know exactly when they’ll be able to get the full story.

Dead Legends

GP: From the outsider, it seems like there’s both more and less risk involved with this. More in that you’re not having single issues to possibly make a bit of a profit off of and you’re basically funding a full graphic novel but there’s a bit more opportunity with the digital aspect.

TCT: There’s really not much risk here. We’re putting together some really great stories and we’re going to have them ready to go so that readers can find them easily and read them in whatever format they prefer.

GP: One of the things that stands out from the announcement is that the full series will be done. Some high profile series has been plagued with delays. Are you going to be emphasizing that this is a guaranteed release?

TCT: Yes, and this is really the strength of the Premier Program. We’ve built up the material in advance so the trade is ready, but we’re just also going to have a little fun first for those who like first issues or prefer to read each chapter bi-weekly online. 

GP: It sounds like this is partially driven by retailers. Did you receive feedback from them?

TCT: We spoke to retailers and they want publishers who are driving readers to their stores. Retailers want #1 issues that appeal to their customers with beautiful cover art that collectors find appealing and the ability to sample stories at a reasonable price before purchasing the entire story in trade paperback form. This is why our Premium issues will have high-quality cover stock and exclusive extra content while keeping to a price point of $3.99. 

GP: One thing that does stand out is that comics need to be ordered in advance but there’s a two-month gap between the premier first issue and then the collected edition. How are you approaching that challenge?

TCT: The Premier Editions come out right when the collected edition becomes available for preorder, so anyone who likes what they see from that first issue can go order the full book or go straight to the digital issues where the story immediately continues.

GP: What’s the feedback from creators been like? This is definitely different for them.

TCT: The creators are very excited about the Premier Program. All it comes down to is that they want the chance to tell some really amazing and unique stories and have them reach an audience that will appreciate them. It’s a win-win situation all around.

GP: This all sounds really interesting. Thanks so much for chatting!

B. Clay Moore Talks Valiant’s Killers with an Exclusive Look at Killers #2’s Covers

With the August comic solicits being revealed, we’ve got an exclusive look at the covers for Killers #2! Writer B. Clay Moore drops some insight as to what we can expect from this new series!

But, what is Valiant’s new series Killers?

Killers spins out of the world of Ninjak! Five deadly assassins are recruited into a game of cat and mouse by the mysterious Jonin! But what does the Jonin want from them, and what do they gain out of helping him? Each of these assassins can channel their ki in different ways, granting them incredible abilities!

Killers #1 is out July 31 from Moore, artist Fernando Dagnino, colorist José Villarrubia, and letterer Jeff Powell.

We got a chance to ask Moore some questions about the new series. After that is the reveal of Killers #2‘s covers!

Graphic Policy: Based upon the early solicits, Killers clearly takes its cues from Ninja-K. Does a reader need to be familiar with that series in order to enjoy Killers?

B. Clay Moore: No, not at all. While readers of Ninja-K will be glad to see an element of that book expanded upon, this is, for all intents and purposes, ground zero for a new group of characters.

GP: There are so many possibilities and stories to tell when it comes to MI6’s Ninja Programme. What can readers expect from Killers

BCM: An expansion on the nature of those MI6 ninjas who were trained by the Jonin, for starters. Mainly, though, Killers is an example of picking up seeds from previous stories about the Ninja Programme, and watching them grow into a related but wholly separate concept. That’s a testament to the work previous creative teams have put into fleshing out a three-dimensional world for us to plunder.

GP: Killers expands upon and delves a little deeper into some former Ninja Progamme operatives; what made you decide to go with the letters you did? What makes them stand out from each other?

BCM: Editor Karl Bollers and I sort of kicked around the eras in which we figured the various Ninjas had operated, and then examined how much information had been previously revealed about each operative. In most cases, there was a lot of room to build almost from scratch, so we took that opportunity to do so. We then constructed separate sets of abilities for each character, and then mapped out what they’ve been doing since leaving the Programme. In essence, once they’ve left the Programme behind, any similarities—beyond their killer natures—are left behind, as well. 

GP: With a cast of characters to focus on, what were you looking for as far as a gateway character?

BCM: Ninja-G, who has been fleshed out the most in the Ninja-K book, was our natural choice as a gateway character. Enough had been established to give us a solid base upon which to build, and the fact that she was a seventies-era badass was also appealing. And a relationship that had been hinted at previously became the springboard with which to launch her into the story. 

GP: Other than the operatives, will we also get a little more insight into the Ninja Programme, and the lengths they went to train their operatives?

BCM: Very much so. New revelations about the nature of that training is sort of at the heart of the book, and defines not just the characters, but also their motivation for coming together.

GP: Are there any other Ninjas you would like to explore a little more in the future?

BCM: Oh, sure. Now that we’ve established some new dynamics regarding former Programme operatives, I’d love to play a part in actively inserting other Ninjas from the past into the present. There’s still a lot of unearthed potential there. 

GP: Valiant does an excellent job of balancing the individual series and their bigger picture storyline. You can enjoy a single series or the richer story of everything. How does it work as a writer thinking about those two things?

BCM: As with the last Valiant book I wrote, Savage, I try to focus on creating something new and self-contained that still slots in logically with what we already know about the Valiant Universe. And, of course, everything is written with an eye toward how the characters we’re creating might interact with other Valiant characters in the future. With that said, I think Killers will definitely provide fodder for future stories beyond this initial title. The characters introduced here could logically find themselves tangling with any of Valiant’s heavy hitters somewhere down the road.

Check out the covers for Killers #2!

Killers #2 Cover A by JONBOY MEYERS
Killers #2 Cover A by JONBOY MEYERS
Killers #2 Cover B by SANFORD GREENE
Killers #2 Cover B by SANFORD GREENE
Killers #2 Cover C by FERNANDO DAGNINO
Killers #2 Cover C by FERNANDO DAGNINO
Killers #2 Cover D by JOHN K. SNYDER
Killers #2 Cover D by JOHN K. SNYDER III
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