Category Archives: Interviews

Dave Chisholm Talks His New Series Canopus

Canopus

Helen wakes up marooned on a lifeless alien planet 300 light years from Earth with no memories beyond a hazy sense of extinction-level urgency to return to Earth. Joined by Arther, her strange robot companion, she explores the planet to find materials necessary to repair her ship. However, circumstances are not as straightforward as they seem. Along the way, Helen’s most painful memories return as monstrous manifestations hell-bent on her destruction. Canopus is Castaway meets Annihilation, with a healthy dose of Phillip K. Dick trown in for good measure! 

–From Previews website

Full disclosure, I am a huge fan of Dave Chisholm‘s. Awhile back, my fellow Graphic Policy writer Madi Butler interviewed Dave about Instrumental about an inspiring jazz trumpet player whose ambition leads him to a mystical horn that may give him masterful skills, but could also result in the end of the world. Ever since reading this masterful book, I’ve been following Dave and eagerly waiting for his next big project.

That last desire has recently come in the form of Canopus, his new sci-fi miniseries from Scout Comics. I had the pleasure of reading Dave’s book beforehand, and I immediately knew this would be on par with Intrsumental and give a medium clouted with many sci-fi stories that just about look the same. I sat down with Dave to discuss Canopus, how sci-fi can be used to funnel personal issues, many of the new bag of tricks he learned along the way during the making of this project.

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

Dave Chisholm: I had a speaking engagement in Boston. I was sitting on the flight toward it, and at that point I had just a basic idea for the main conceit of the story which I’m not going to give away.

GP: No spoilers!

DC: Right, no spoilers. Basically, I was just flying out and ruminating on some big ideas I had. Not the characters yet, but more the bigger sci-fi stuff. The character ideas stemmed from a deeper place from my struggles of learning to let go of resentment and pain from my past. I had tendencies to hold onto grudges. It reached a point where I was like, “Man, that’s not good for me.” I couldn’t really figure out a way to let go of it, so I decided to take that angst and channel it through the story with a character who is going through a similar issue. That character’s Helen. That’s the basic origin story for this book.

GP: I’m familiar with your first book, Instrumental, and Canopus is a totally new idea, which is what I admire about you. You’re not just repeating yourself. You’re going with something fresh. Instrumental was a surreal urban fantasy; Canopus is surreal sci-fi. What made you want to do that kind of story now?

DC: I’m a huge fan of sci-fi media. I love Philip K. Dick, Arthur C. Clark, and writers like that. I wanted to throw my hat in and do that kind of hard sci-fi story. One thing that draws me to Philip K. Dick, in particular, is how he will take a really personal idea and filter it through this completely bananas sci-fi setting. He’s trying to understand his own struggles with hanging onto reality or his other well-documented struggles. He uses a book like his own personal diary, therapy, or exploration of ideas for topics that might be a little more personal for him. I love the ability of sci-fi to explore a big concept, like healing from trauma or love or parenthood. Something like that.

I could’ve told a story about someone living in Rochester, New York in 2019 who’s trying to understand the trauma that they’ve been through, the pain that they’re feeling, and that stuff. I think it would’ve been a good story, but I also had these bigger ideas. Why not merge the two together?

GP: Helen seems like the perfect protagonist for your story because she is the type of protagonist you would expect: an adventurous scientist type, but she’s also working through her personal issues from the past. Not going to spoil that because, again, no spoilers. How did you conceptualize her character?

Helen looking over landscape

DC: It boiled down to essentially writing her life story, figuring out events in her life that led her to point we first meet her, then figuring out which one of those life events would be featured in the book. Specifically, these flashbacks that occur from time to time in the story. From there it was sort of, like, reverse engineering it in a way that made sense to who she was as a character, what she wanted, and how she grows.

When the story starts off, she (Helen) is a pretty intense person. She’s very on edge. She’s not a warm or nurturing person. She is very stern in getting things done.

GP: “You’re gonna do this, and you’re gonna do it NOW!!”

DC: Yeah, that kind of vibe. Hopefully the reader will be wondering why she is that way and get a clear picture of her life.

GP: Sympathize with her.

DC: Yeah. As far as what she wants vs. what she needs, and what her goals are–some of those are plot driven, some of those are character driven. Hopefully there will be a nice marriage between the two.

GP: The only other character that exists along with Helen is her companion Arther. I won’t spoil too much about him because he’s so unique, but I want to know how did you come up with him?

DC: How Arther came into the picture is a fascinating story. A lot of it had to do with workshopping with a cabal of editors. For example, my wife, Elise, is an amazing editor. She has the keenest eye for plot holes. I’ll give her something to read, like “You gotta read this!” She’ll read it and say “I just love it…here’s a plot hole”, and I’ll be like “OH NO!”

GP: Oh no! The ego has been pierced!

Arther

DC: Haha yeah! She was so helpful with this project. Thanks to her help and those of my friends who also workshopped it, Arther evolved over time so much. He started as something that was pretty different from what he ended up being. I hate to say this, but one of the last, big revelations for Arther, when I put the last piece of the puzzle in, was quite late in the process, even as I was pitching this to publishers and had a couple of issues drawn. Probably wasn’t the smartest thing. It’s one of the bits in the story that I’m most proud of, too. So, for people working in comics, publishing, working on art and stuff, you should work on it all as you go, like re-examining plot points or anything really. You’ll figure those things out, you’ll find something.

Anyway, Arther turned out to be a great character. His look didn’t really ever change. His look was based on a character I’ve been doodling for years, and he’’s really fun to draw. I really liked the idea of a robot that was squishy and plushy, not hard and geometric. I struggle with those shapes, so if someone asked me to draw a Transformers, I would have a hard time. I think Arther’s design makes him cute and adds to that child-like quality of who he is. Arther’s always curious, always wondering what’s going on, and everything like that.

GP: What strikes me about Arther’s relationship to Helen is how complicated it is. It starts off with her relying on Arther to act as a guide given that she has lost her memory. As those memories slowly resurface though, it turns their relationship into a parent/child kind of deal, except there’s some serious resentment toward the child. Was figuring out that out part of conceptualizing Arther, and does it tie back to Helen’s issues with letting go of past grievances?

DC: That’s a little bit of a difficult question, mostly because the answer would give away too much. I’m just going to embrace the fact that their relationship does get complicated over time as those memories are revealed, and I’m just happy those story beats fell into place.

GP: I’ll move on to a less sticky question then. Canopus, the star. Up until I read this comic, I was not aware that it actually existed. It’s such a unique choice for a setting. It’s not something generic like Mars or creating a phony-baloney planet. You chose something that actually existed in space. Why did you choose Canopus? What is its significance to the story beyond just the setting?

DC: I knew the comic was going to take place on a star that was far away, and, frankly, I just googled star names thinking “Maybe I’ll find a star with a cool name.” There isn’t a whole lot more to it than that. It does sort of tie thematically into the story, again without spoiling anything. I’ll leave it at that.

GP: I noticed that instead of a full-length graphic novel like Instrumental, you decided to make Canopus a four-issue miniseries. Is this your first time doing single issues?

DC: My first series in single issues was a book I did called Let’s Go To Utah! That was self-published from 2007 to 2009. It was a 9-issue series that was done before Instrumental. I did that back in my 20s. I still sell it when I go to conventions, but let’s just say I look forward to when I have enough books on my table that I don’t have to sell that one anymore.

GP: Haha. I get it. Not all darlings are precious. Some you look forward to killing.

DC: HA!

Monster

GP: Another difference I see is that Canopus is in color. Did you know this was going to be in color? Like did you have a deeper reason for that choice? I feel like Instrumental was purposefully black and white because the visuals you put in that book had to be that way. Canopus seems like a book that works more with color and uses it to tell the story.

DC: Right! It’s cool because the story behind that is I got hired to draw a children’s book a few years ago that I don’t think is out yet. It was a really cute children’s book, independent contractor, and it was a very fun gig. I didn’t realize until after I signed the contract that they expected me to color the art as well. My coloring experience before that was pretty limited in terms of the workflow, meaning that it took me a really long time to color a page or an image or whatever.

Over the course of the 20-some illustration images I did for this children’s book, I really learned how to have a good workflow for coloring and just how to color in general. It was really just a great education for me. I’m a real autodidact. I can mostly teach myself, go at my own pace, find my own approach, and always be critical of my own process. I learned from that experience that I really like working in color. It’s super fun and adds this element of storytelling I had been ignoring as a creator. In that moment I was like, “Oh man. I gotta color the next project I do!”

The first project I wanted to get to was a much larger one than Canopus, but I wasn’t in a place with my comics career to pitch it. I sat on it and decided to pursue Canopus instead. With how the color plays into the story…hoo boy, this is going to be a long-winded answer, but the one thing I’ve really learned in music school, like 10 years of music college, is this idea that sometimes crafting a narrative is about what you don’t put into it, like setting up really rigid boundaries for yourself. That way when you do reveal to the reader that thing that’s been missing all this time, it’s mind-blowing.

Let’s say that you have a song and for the first two minutes there are no bass or drums. The listener thinks they’ve figured out the song. “Oh, it’s just guitars and vocals. There’s a little bit of piano in there.” Then come along the bass and drums into the song. It’s like BAM! It’s loud as hell. Their (the listeners) whole paradigm explodes. With Instrumental, I attempted this with the formal structures of the pages. Remember when Tom blows the trumpet, and all of reality is bent?

With Canopus, I’m taking a similar approach with color. I don’t want to spoil it, but it has to do with what is left out and with a limited, more focused color palette to set up a sense of normal for readers. I’m really happy with the way the colors turned out. With that said, I can’t wait to take all the stuff I learned working on this comic and level up with whatever comes next.

GP: One thing Canopus does share in common with Instrumental is surrealism. Although Canopus is more restrained than how off-the-walls, bonkers Instrumental got, there is still some zany elements. The first that comes to my mind are the panel layouts for Helen’s flashbacks. It shows a sequence in linear format, but there are repeated, multiple images of every panel. To me this symbolizes how she processes memory. I want to know what was your thought process in designing those panels?

DC: The first inspiration behind those particular scenes is from the graphic novel Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli, if you’re familiar with that.

GP: I know the book you’re talking about. I just haven’t read it yet.

DC: Oh my god. I recommend you read that as soon as possible. There’s this beautiful scene where the character gets a blister on his foot…and the story is that we get present day scenes along with flashbacks, so kind of similar to Canopus is, although I would hate to compare my book to this book because it’s the most genius book I’ve ever read. Anyway, the main character has a blister on his foot, and it opens to this whole sequence where it triggers his memory with an ex, then that triggers another memory, and soon it becomes a kaleidoscopic display of all these different memories about his ex, all surrounding this basic narrative of her breaking a Q- tip in her ear and getting scared as he tries to fish it out with a pair of tweezers.

It sounds like such a mundane scene, but it’s profound with how it associates with all these separate memories that are blinking in and out of this single narrative. So, the memory scenes of Canopus were inspired by that and also pages from Chris Ware books where, like, the way a single object will generate a memory field in a person. Like, when you pick up a favorite toy from your childhood, and all of a sudden you have this visceral recall of the most significant memories around that object. Now those memories tend to be non-linear. I didn’t quite have the courage to do so in my comic, but I still wanted to hit that feeling. I hope the way I laid out the panels is a good stand-in from the fuzzy, more grid-like layouts you see in the “present day” story proper.

GP: I get the feeling that, since these scenes are related to Helen, it’s a representation of her trauma and trying to piece back together these memories, where and when they happened and all that. I do know from reading about PTSD that it can affect memory. I know there’s the concept of certain things triggering bad memories, but also I’ve read elsewhere it can cause emotional distance from them. In a way, does Helen’s amnesia symbolize all that, especially now that all those memories are coming back to her?

DC: I think that this idea of how PTSD works in people is definitely some kind of inspiration, although I can’t say it dictated the layouts. The way someone has a PTSD trigger or an anxiety attack has a more physical response, but I don’t know. Honestly, it’s really hard for me to come down strongly in this book. Her (Helen) character is definitely inspired by the idea of someone going through therapy. It’s sci-fi as therapy though. Inspirations for that are stuff like Russian Doll, Maniac, and The OA. These Netflix shows are, from my point of view, really like therapy in a fantastical presentation. All of those are about people learning to change their mind and reconcile their traumas. It’s just so inspiring.

Toys

GP: Another detail of the surrealism I wanted to ask about are the obstacles and enemies Helen faces. They’re all these twisted manifestations of her memories. Remembering those memories seems to be part of her defeating or getting over them. It’s like the whole therapy thing you’re talking about. I just want to know how you came up with them because each are so unique and utterly terrifying.

DC: Thanks, man! I think that, even in Let’s Go To Utah, it follows a thread of thinking where let’s take this really normal-looking thing and give it a charge of weirdness, like capital-W Weirdness. In Let’s Go To Utah!, my goal was to make this ice-scraper an extremely profound thing. In Instrumental, it’s a trumpet. In one of the very first story beats for Canopus, Arthur falls into this hole or crater on this surface, and it’s full of dolls and children’s toys. That imagery was just so creepy, compelling, and weird. It’s taking the normal, mundane and giving it a profound twist by associating it with something 300 light years away from normal, with symbolism and motifs. It’s an attractive idea to me, and I just hope it pays off.

GP: One last thing I wanted to mention was the twist. I have to say, I’ve never seen a twist this crazy in a comic before! When I got to it, my reaction was “Wait, he went that far?!” I’ll say it, your twist tops even Rick Remender’s twists.

DC: Hahaha! Thanks, man.

GP: Seriously! I want to know how your twist ties back to the theme of the story.

DC: The twist is something I’m really proud of. I’m happy the way it turned out, and I hope readers really get something out of it. If I tried to say anything further though, it would give it away. I’m just going to leave it at that and let everyone see for themselves when that issue comes out.

GP: This is just such an audacious series with a fresh sci-fi story and pulls off a lot of great storytelling ideas. It all comes together and has a very important message to people going through a lot of similar issues, me included. Do you hope it engages your readers on an intellectual and emotional level as much as it entertains them? I know you as a creator, and you always go into a story with something to say. You don’t just entertain, but help, if not enlighten, engage readers with new ideas and ways at looking at things.

DC: Absolutely! That’s everything to me. So, my answer is yes. Definitely yes. I have high hopes that it will connect with people and gets into the awareness of people who need it or can empathize and identify with the story. That’s the goal.


Pre-order number: DEC191848
Follow Dave Chisholm
Check out his comics and other projects

Cullen Bunn Talks Going Full John Wick Style in Roku #1

Roku #1 Cover A
Cover A by Dave Johnson

Coming to shelves October 30th, we’ll find out how many lives the lethal assassin Roku must take in her first series! Writer Cullen Bunn and artist Ramón F. Bachs launch the four-issue series that has Roku killing her way around the globe.

We got to ask Cullen Bunn about the brand new series that goes full-on “John Wick style action.”

Graphic Policy: Hi Cullen! How’s it going?

Cullen Bunn: Going great! I just returned home from a couple of trips (to New York and Baltimore), so I’m a little behind, but I’m writing comics during Halloween season! What could be better?

GP: You’ve recently finished a pretty damn good mini-series featuring Punk Mambo; Now that you’re scripting Roku is there a difference in how you approach the two characters?

CB: Oh, yeah. Roku and Punk have such different personalities, different themes, that it is impossible to treat them the same. With Punk, I wanted to spin a fun horror yarn. With Roku, I went for full on John Wick style action. I listened to different music, wrote at a different pace. Everything, down to the pacing of the books, is different… in a good way.

Roku #1 Cover B
Cover B by Viktor Kalvachev

GP: Roku hasn’t really been shown as a protagonist yet in the Valiant universe; what are the challenges, or opportunities, that come from placing her in that position for the first time?

CB: Maybe she’s still the villain!

GP: Touche!

CB: I wanted to approach this as Roku’s first appearance. We’re not seeing any major Valiant heroes here. I didn’t want anyone to steal Roku’s time in the spotlight. Since she hasn’t been the lead before, it was so much fun helping her shine. Of course, she has backstory, and getting that across without slowing this story down, was a bit of a challenge. I think I found a pretty good middle ground, though.

GP: Valiant’s got a reputation of being very new reader friendly with first issues. How familiar does a reader need to be with Roku’s past to enjoy this?

CB: A new reader doesn’t need to know anything about Roku when they pick up this book. As I mentioned, I treated it as her first appearance. We’ll fill you in on anything vital along the way.

Roku #1 Cover C
Cover C by Marc Laming

GP: You’re using Roku to explore a side of the Valiant universe that we haven’t really seen before. Can you tell us any more about that without revealing too much?

CB: As we jump into this book, Roku has been working with a sinister criminal organization—a gathering of faceless movers and shakers. That’s where we start, but we used that as a springboard to introduce a number of criminal groups and (especially) a number of assassins, mercenaries, and killers. Some of these ne’er-do-wells have big roles. Some have brief appearances, but all of them hint at new factions that will be part of Valiant moving forward.

GP: Is there anything different you need to do for your own processes when centering a story around a character that has been seen primarily as villainous?

CB: I’ve made a career out of writing villains and anti-heroes. For this, I was kind of able to do my own thing. I did want this book to feel different, though, and I put a lot of thought into how to make that happen. Here, I wanted to focus on action and violence and the criminal underworld.

GP: Do you think that we’re still going to view her as a villain after this series?

CB: She certainly starts that way! As for how she ends up… it all depends on how that final act plays out.

Roku #1 Cover E
Preorder Cover by Howard Chaykin

GP: You’ve introduced a couple new characters in the first issue; what can you tell us about them without revealing too much about the story?

CB: Elena is Roku’s contact and handler in Russia. I wanted someone who could counterbalance the seriousness and darkness of Roku. She is a talented character, and I really came to love her over the course of the series, even though she seems a bit bumbling.

Ember-1, on the other hand, is every bit as serious and lethal as Roku. She is an enhanced British operative loaded with the very best gear. What makes her really dangerous, though, is that she seems to know more about Roku than Roku knows herself!

GP: Finally, is there any other Valiant character that you’d like to get your hands on?

CB: Oh, yeah. There are some characters I feel like I was born to write. I’m not mentioning them right now, though, because my secrets run deep.

GP: Thanks so much for answering our questions and can’t wait to check out the series!

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.

Also:

  • 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: www.adamcomicsco.com. 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 gwarcomic.com 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!

« Older Entries