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Discussing Puerto Rico Strong, The Comic Anthology to Benefit Puerto Rico. Listen on Demand

On demand: iTunes ¦ Sound Cloud ¦ Stitcher ¦ BlogTalkRadio ¦ Listed on podcastdirectory.com

Puerto Rico Strong is a comics anthology that explores what it means to be Puerto Rican and the diversity that exists within that concept, from today’s most exciting Puerto Rican comics creators. All profits will go to towards Disaster Relief and Recovery Programs to Support Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico Strong is available in comic shops: March 14, 2018 and bookstores March 27th. Pre-orders are still open via Amazon, and the anthology will be available digitally as well as in the UK.

Joining us on Graphic Policy Radio to discuss this exciting comic anthology is two of the individuals behind it, Marco Lopez and Desiree Rodriguez.

Marco Lopez is the creator of the webcomics Massively Effective A Shot of Whiskey and Orion’s Belt. Which lead to his working with Lion Forge Comics and Zenescope Entertainment. He recently returned (briefly) to Lion Forge bringing them Puerto Rico Strong and in the coming months, he will be working with a couple of indie comic publishers on a variety of projects.

Desiree Rodriguez is a pop culture critic who has written for Women Write About Comics, The Nerds of Color, and has covered various topics on race, Latinx identity, and sexuality. In her spare time she is one of the co-hosts for the DC TV Classics podcast. Desiree currently works for Lion Forge Comics as an Editorial Assistant.

Discussing Puerto Rico Strong, The Comic Anthology to Benefit Puerto Rico. Listen on Demand

On demand: iTunes ¦ Sound Cloud ¦ Stitcher ¦ BlogTalkRadio ¦ Listed on podcastdirectory.com

Puerto Rico Strong is a comics anthology that explores what it means to be Puerto Rican and the diversity that exists within that concept, from today’s most exciting Puerto Rican comics creators. All profits will go to towards Disaster Relief and Recovery Programs to Support Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico Strong is available in comic shops: March 14, 2018 and bookstores March 27th. Pre-orders are still open via Amazon, and the anthology will be available digitally as well as in the UK.

Joining us on Graphic Policy Radio to discuss this exciting comic anthology is two of the individuals behind it, Marco Lopez and Desiree Rodriguez.

Marco Lopez is the creator of the webcomics Massively Effective A Shot of Whiskey and Orion’s Belt. Which lead to his working with Lion Forge Comics and Zenescope Entertainment. He recently returned (briefly) to Lion Forge bringing them Puerto Rico Strong and in the coming months, he will be working with a couple of indie comic publishers on a variety of projects.

Desiree Rodriguez is a pop culture critic who has written for Women Write About Comics, The Nerds of Color, and has covered various topics on race, Latinx identity, and sexuality. In her spare time she is one of the co-hosts for the DC TV Classics podcast. Desiree currently works for Lion Forge Comics as an Editorial Assistant.

Discussing Puerto Rico Strong, The Comic Anthology to Benefit Puerto Rico. Listen LIVE this Monday

Puerto Rico Strong is a comics anthology that explores what it means to be Puerto Rican and the diversity that exists within that concept, from today’s most exciting Puerto Rican comics creators. All profits will go to towards Disaster Relief and Recovery Programs to Support Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico Strong is available in comic shops:,March 14, 2018 and bookstores March 27th. Pre-orders are still open via Amazon, and the anthology will be available digitally as well as in the UK.

Joining us on Graphic Policy Radio to discuss this exciting comic anthology is two of the individuals behind it, Marco Lopez and Desiree Rodriguez.

Marco Lopez is the creator of the webcomics Massively Effective A Shot of Whiskey and Orion’s Belt. Which lead to his working with Lion Forge Comics and Zenescope Entertainment. He recently returned (briefly) to Lion Forge bringing them Puerto Rico Strong and in the coming months, he will be working with a couple of indie comic publishers on a variety of projects.

Desiree Rodriguez is a pop culture critic who has written for Women Write About Comics, The Nerds of Color, and has covered various topics on race, Latinx identity, and sexuality. In her spare time she is one of the co-hosts for the DC TV Classics podcast. Desiree currently works for Lion Forge Comics as an Editorial Assistant.

Lion Forge Announces New Editorial Hires

Lion Forge has announced four new hires in its editorial department, including Desiree Rodriguez, Erika Kuster, Hazel Newlevant, and Jasmine Amiri. These four editors join the rapidly growing publisher in advance of New York Comic Con, where the company will unveil multiple new titles and series.

Desiree Rodriguez has been an entertainment and comics journalist for eight years writing for sites such as: The Tempest, The Feminist Wire, Women Write About Comics, and The Nerds of Color. Boricua extraordinaire, Desiree has written and curated various Latinx centric discussion pieces and movements to discuss and educate on the Latinx experience in comics.

Erika Kuster has over twelve years of experience in the publishing industry and was previously Managing Editor for Andrews McMeel Publishing. During her time at AMP, she helped transform the company from a print-only publisher to a fully integrated print and digital publishing house. She has also acted as a children’s book author, editor, production editor, and all-around metadata guru.

Hazel Newlevant is the editor and publisher of the anthologies Comics for Choice and Chainmail Bikini: The Anthology of Women Gamers and her work as a cartoonist has been honored with the Ignatz Award, Xeric Grant, and Prism Comics Queer Press Grant. In addition to her editorial role, Hazel is the author of the graphic novel memoir No Ivy League, which Lion Forge will publish in late 2018.

Jasmine Amiri is a Los Angeles-based editor whose credits include the Eisner and Harvey nominated ​Giant Days​ by John Allison, 2017 GLAAD Award Winner ​The Woods​ by James Tynion IV and Michael Dialynas, and the critically-acclaimed series ​Grass Kings ​by Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins among many others.

 

Comic Creators Coming Together to Help Puerto Rico

As our nation mostly sits on its hands to help our fellow American citizens in Puerto Rico devastated by hurricanes, a group of creators are coming together to create a charitable anthology “highlighting the beauty, culture, and history” of Puerto Rico.

Its been a week since Hurricane Maria’s devastation and the island is still waiting for aid. Millions await the basics of fuel, food, and water with 97% of the US commonwealth’s 3.4 million residents still in the dark as of this Wednesday. All of this has led to rationing as there’s not enough food to go around and individuals are being forced to drink rainwater. Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands have seen fewer personnel since Hurricane Marian hit than Texas and Florida during their recent hurricanes. Lack of supplies are leading to tragic and tough choices everywhere. Hospitals don’t have enough energy to properly care for individuals who rely on ventilators to survive as an example.

Marco Lopez, one of the individuals spearheading the anthology, wrote on Facebook:

Puerto Rico is an island of 3.5 million American citizens with a rich history that goes back hundreds of years. To those Boricua that live on the island and across the U.S. it is not only their home or home away from home it is an essential part of their very being of what makes them and their families who they are. Puerto Rico doesn’t just hold a special place in the hearts of Puerto Ricans, the island, people, and culture hold a very special place in the hearts to other people in the Latinx community and those of non Latinx origin.

When news of Hurricane Maria made airwaves, so soon after Hurricane Irma many of us saw the writing on the wall. Puerto Rico, for all its beauty, life and culture, also has a history of colonization and oppression. Currently suffering in massive debt and due to the Jones Act unable to receive aid from other countries, it is up to us, the public, to offer aid and support.

There are many ways to donate and support the islanders who are currently without water, food, electricity, and supplies. The four of us, Marco Lopez, Derek Ruiz, Desiree Rodriguez, and Neil M Schwartz, have decided to use our collective creativity to organize a charitable anthology that highlights the beauty, culture and history of Puerto Rico told by the voices of Puerto Rican creators along with other Latinx and non-Latinx allies.

All proceeds for this anthology will go directly to aiding the people of Puerto Rican who desperately need all the help they can get. More information will be released in the following weeks. We hope you will support this endeavor and more importantly, support the people of Puerto Rico.

https://www.youcaring.com/peopleaffectedbyhurricanemariainp…

https://hispanicfederation.org/donate

http://unidosporpuertorico.com/en/

#PuertoRicoStrong #share

We’ll have more details when they’re released and of course you can always donate to those organizations to help out now.

Listen to Catalyst Prime & Comics Diversity with Guests Christopher Priest, Joe Illidge, & Desiree Rodriguez on Demand

On demand: iTunes ¦ Sound Cloud ¦ Stitcher ¦ BlogTalkRadio ¦ Listed on podcastdirectory.com

“Diversity” has turned into a marketing buzzword in comics and few deliver that behind and on the page. Lion Forge Comics‘ new Catalyst Prime universe of comics is actually delivering that in every sense with new characters we’ve never seen and a group of creators who bring varied perspectives to the page. Talking about this exciting new universe are guests Christopher Priest, Joe Illidge, and Desiree Rodriguez.

Christopher Priest is the legendary comic writer who has written for Marvel, DC, Valiant, and more. He was part of the group of creators who launched Milestone Media. Along with Illidge, Priest oversees the Catalyst Prime line of comics.

Joseph Phillip Illidge is a public speaker on the subjects of race, comics and the corporate politics of diversity. In addition to his coverage by The New York Times, CNN Money, the BBC and Publishers Weekly, Joseph has been a speaker at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Digital Book World’s forum, Digitize Your Career: Marketing and Editing 2.0, Skidmore College, The School of Visual Arts, Purdue University, on the panel “Diversity in Comics: Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Sexual Orientation in American Comic Books” and at the Soho Gallery for Digital Art in New York City. Illidge is the Senior Editorial Manager for Lion Forge Comics.

Desiree Rodriguez is a pop culture critic who has written for Women Write About Comics, The Nerds of Color, is the co-host for the DC TV Classics podcast, and editorial assistant for Lion Forge’s Catalyst Prime initiative.

NYCC 2016: Talking Lion Forge’s Catalyst Prime with Joe Illidge

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Ever since Lion Forge announced a new line-up of hires, it’s been a company to watch. You don’t bring on that sort of talent without having a bigger plan and something up your sleeve.

I’ve watched intently parsing every word said by staff and every hint dropped to try and figure out what exactly what was being worked on.

At New York Comic Con, we found out what that was.

At their panel Sunday, Lion Forge announced “Catalyst Prime,” a new superhero universe with a killer amount of talent writing, drawing, coloring, and lettering, and diversity on the page and behind the scenes. But, impressively it’s also established and new talent alike working together to create this new world. That’s something that’s important for the company, to bring together old and new voices.

Along with the creative talent it was announced that Desiree Rodriguez is joining the company as an editorial assistant for the new line. Rodriguez is a freelancer for Nerds of Color who wrote this fantastic piece about being Latinx in comics.

Before the panel, I got to speak with Senior Editorial Manager Joe Illidge and got the details as to what we can expect.

Graphic Policy: It’s been months of teasing and hints and I know I’m excited to hear the details. What’s the scoop as to what Lion Forge has announced at New York Comic Con 2016?

Joe Illidge: We’re announcing the creation of a new superhero universe which will be under the title of “Catalyst Prime.” There will be seven monthly books and the line will launch in May of 2017.

GP: Who’s the talent that’ll be involved that you can announce?

JI: For the kick off book it’s going to be mainly written by Christopher Priest, co-written by myself with the art by Marco Turini, letterer Deron Bennett, and colorist Jessica Kholine. For the first ongoing series with a Black male lead, the writer is Brandon Thomas, artist Ken Lashley, letters by Saida Temofonte, and colorist Juan Fernandez. The second main book about an interracial duo, it’s co-written by David Walker and Dr. Sheena Howard, illustrated by Chuck Collins, and colored by Veronica Gandini. The third book is written by Joe Casey, illustrated by Damion Scott, lettered by Janice Chiang, and will be colored by John Rauch. The fourth book will be a team book written by Joe Casey with story consultation by Ramon Govea who created the concept, illustrated by Larry Stroman and Rob Stull, and colored by Snakebite Cortez. For the fifth title with a British male lead which is a science fiction thriller, it’ll be written by Joe Casey, illustrated by Jefte Palo who is well known for illustrating the Black Panther Secret Invasion storyline in which the Wakandans held back the Skrull invasion, it’ll be colored by Chris Sotomayor, and lettered by a legendary letterer. The letterer of the Hugo award winning Sandman Overture graphic novel, Todd Klein. The sixth title with a White male lead will be written by Alex De Campi, illustrated by Pop Mhan, and lettered by Deron Bennett. Deron Bennett is doing a bunch of DC “Rebirth” books. One prominent one is Batgirl. The seventh title with a lesbian lead character will be written by Amy Chu, illustrated by Jan Duursema, colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick, and lettered by Deron Bennett.

GP: That’s impressive you can remember and name all of them. So what can you tell us specifically about the series?

JI: Well basically the whole universe is started from an asteroid heading to Earth and a private corporation called the Foresight Corporation, which produced our teaser memo, they send four astronauts on a suicide mission to stop the asteroid. What happens leads to the emergence of super humans on our world. After that, most of the books will take place one year after that.

GP: As far as the comics, how are they kicking off, a mini-series and then everything launches from there?

JI: It’s going to start with a one-shot co-written by Christopher Priest and myself, coming out the first week of May 2017. And then we’ll be rolling out the books from there, from May through December.

GP: That’s an amazing group of talent working on the comic that’s very diverse, what about the characters?

JI: The characters are diverse. Of the four astronauts, you have two women, one of whom is lesbian, one of whom is Black. The two men, one is Black and one is British. The other three are American. Then there’s also a Chinese woman who is part of mission control who is supervising the mission in space, but was not one of the four astronauts.

GP: That certainly is diverse. When putting the series together, was this a priority and thought through?

JI: It was thought through in the sense that the owner David Steward II, the President Geoff Gerber, and I are really committed to creating a universe that invites everyone. Diversity is a buzzword that has become obsolete because it’s been used for a lot of PR. Diversity should be intrinsic if you have an expanded mindset and worldview so when you’re going to creators they’re not all heterosexual, they’re not all Caucasian males. They might not all be from the United States. They’re from different industries. They have different political backgrounds. Diversity is automatic. But we want to create something new and exciting that doesn’t have a burden of decades of continuity. We want everyone to feel invited to this world and this world will evolve into a world that will more accurately reflect the demographics of the one that we live more than a lot of other fictional superhero comic universes.

GP: When it comes to the writers… there’s a habit lately that writers are pigeonholed into what they write based on the color of their skin or their gender, in November out of 13 female writers for the big two only one was writing a comic with a male lead as an example, are you breaking that mold?

JI: I am breaking that mold. The book that is going to have the latino teenager lead is going to be written by Joe Casey whom is neither Latino nor a teenager. But, Joe Casey has clearly been an advocate for variety in superhero comic books, in creator owned comic books. And frankly he’s the co-creator of America Chavez. To me, that right there, America Chavez is one of the most beloved Latinx characters of our time. So I’m comfortable with him writing a Latinx character considering he created one of the most popular ones right now.

GP: He’s shown he can do it.

JI: Exactly.

GP: One of the things that caught my eye in your teases was a woman writing a male character, so it’s either Dr. Sheena Howard, Amy Chu, or Alex De Campi.

JI: What it is, the book that will be co-written by David Walker and Dr. Sheena Howard is an interracial team book written by a man and a woman featuring a man and a woman. That really came down to whom I feel David and Sheena are as people. Due to their academic backgrounds. Due to their vast social and cultural knowledge. Due to the fact they are both social crusaders, they are expertly qualified to tell this story.

Amy Chu is going to be writing a story about a Caucasian lesbian. Alex De Campi will be writing a story with a white American male lead. So you don’t have to keep these straight lines. Some of them won’t be straight for the sake of being straight. I really tried to see who were the best creators to tell these stories book by book.

GP: With the baggage that comes with continuity and years of stories, are you thinking through that as you put together this universe and series? A perfect example is Valiant that has continuity but you can read just one series, step into a new story arc, there’s clear starting points, or you can enjoy it all.

JI: Absolutely. No two books will be alike aesthetically. We want readers to be able to read a book and not feel like they are trapped or tricked into reading other books. If you read other books and you keep moving forward, you start seeing connected threads, and you get the benefit of the worldview of this entire thing. If you choose just one book, or two books, or four books, you can have individual experiences and as we look forward to the first crossover event, which will probably take place in 2018, that will be a story in of itself. If you choose to keep reading your book, you can do that. It’s very important for us that the reader not feel interrupted in the book, or books, that they like. It’s also important that when we collect these books we really want to engage the book market. We want to create volumes where a new reader can pick up any volume and get into that world. Whether it’s across titles or whether they pick up volume two of any series and we hope that they don’t feel like that have to pick up volume one but instead that they’ll want to pick up and read volume one.

It really comes down to characters. Characters are the underpinning of all stories. We want to create characters that the readers will care about. We want you to come along on the journey with these characters. So, by defining the characters, making them compelling, and making them relatable, is the ultimate way that we can invite readers, old and new, into the universe.

GP: Is the universe set in our world or slightly off? Do we get fake countries or ones that actually exist?

JI: It’s going to be our world geographically, all the identifications will match up to Earth. I look at this as the love child of Darwyn Cooke’s DC New Frontier and Vertigo Year One and the brilliance of Karen Berger in using Animal Man, Doom Patrol, Shade, the Changing Man, Black Orchid, and Kid Eternity as the foundation for a truly imaginative and impressive body of books. These will be super hero genre books, but they’ll also engage in other genres like science fiction, techno thriller, young adult, action adventure, teen adventure, social drama, so that is how I see it. For that to be the case, it had to take place in a world like ours.

GP: Since it is taking place in a world familiar to ours, there’s the debate as to whether comics should just be entertainment or if it should touch upon social justice issues being waged. Will the comics touch upon real world issues? From the characters and what you’ve described it sounds like social issues will be a natural thing for the series, but is it a goal and point?

JI: You know, we don’t see it as a hard agenda. It’s not something we’re going to beat the audience over the head with as far as the stories. When you’re talking about social justice, art has always been a vehicle for social justice.

GP: Comics always have.

JI: Exactly. We’re at a time where we are vulnerable in so many other areas. Our bodies are vulnerable. We’re being told what bathrooms we can use. We have political icons engaging in reprehensible behavior, xenophobia, and sexism. Art may be one of the last frontiers that is bullet proof. If you’re going to do a universe, and you’re going to engage the super hero and what the super hero can do, how can you not engage in social justice?

GP: How long has this been in the works?

JI: It’s funny, there has been different stages. I started working at Lion Forge in June and I really expanded it. The origins of the “Catalyst Prime” super hero universe starts with the owner of Lion Forge, David Steward II. As someone highly influence by Milestone, we are obviously simpatico on that front, myself being a Milestone alumni, Geoff Gerber the President of Lion Forge being an advocate for social justice, the three of us together really wanted this to be something special that would invite everybody. It started with the owner, but when I came in I took the nucleaus and put together a team of writers. We did a writers retreat where we all sat down in a room and spent a day and basically nurtured this universe to life and that kind of creativity, that imaginative osmosis, the results of that are really going to be seen in the books. You’re going to see us subvert some familiar archetypes. You’re going to see some characters of ethnic backgrounds that you never thought you’d equate with roles of power. We’re really looking to give you the kind of familiar things you want with super hero comic books, but we want to return fun and imagination to super hero comic books.

It feels like right now we’ve hit a critical mass in terms of cynicism, in terms of doubt, in terms of dissapointment, for the faith and investment of time we have given. I want this super hero unvierse be a return to fun and imagination and the consumer being rewarded for their time and love of this genre and this medium.

GP: With starting a comic line now, it feels like it’d be different because it’s no longer just print you’re dealing with. There’s digital, there’s mobile, there’s web, the avenues and distribution is so different. Is that in your thoughts in putting it together, looking at the big picture and how different people will interact differently with the material?

JI: Absolutely. It’s very important for us that anyone who wants to get our books will be able to get our books. Whether it is comic book stories in the direct market. Whether it’s book stores and collections in the trade market. Whether it’s digital. We have been looking at a lot of metrics and data in regards to digital comics. Some of those discoveries will impact how we put together and provide these books. And it’s very important to us that if you’re unfortunately living in a place that’s a comic store desert, you can still get the book. It’s important to us that if you feel there’s a local environment that’s not welcoming to you as a consumer that you can still get our book. It’s important to us that we engage in a discussion with retailers and consumers about pre-ordering so that we expand the vocabulary and help consumers get our books.

GP: Any final thoughts?

JI: It’s exciting for us to start this new thing. I think culturally that we are at a high point of the popularity and the agency of the super hero as a genre and so there’s no better time to start a new universe than right now. I firmly believe, and the creators that I’ve assembled, we all firmly believe that ultimately people want good stories. It’s not about what genre it is. It’s about good stories and good characters.