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Baltimore Comic Con 2011 – Spotlight on Shannon Wheeler

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Shannon WheelerWhen I go to conventions, I tend to spend my time on the floor talking to publishers, writers, artists or stumbling through Artist Alley.  But, there’s usually an excellent choice of panels to attend too, that I never seem to manage to attend.  At Baltimore Comic Con, I decided to attend the panel hosted by BOOM!‘s  Chip “Cuddles” Mosher spotlighting the talented Shannon Wheeler.

Wheeler is the creator of Too Much Coffee Man, and recently won an Eisner Award for his collection of rejected New Yorker cartoons, I Thought You Would be Funnier.  Shannon also has written an opera and you might see his work in The New Yorker.

Wheeler began cartooning at an early age, taking classes from Michael T. Gilbert during the evenings.  He went on to study architecture at Berkley and started to create cartoons for $10 a pop.  Shannon from there began to recount stories that were beyond entertaining.  In the first he recounted how he and a friend dissected cartoons and how jokes were told.  This lead to a lot of discussion, but not a lot of creating.  The second explaining how he had to defend his cartoons at Berkley as he was lined up with the other cartoonists and would be grilled if his comic met certain criteria in it’s depictions.  The lesson he learned from there was to answer “yes.”  His first major comic at Berkley was Tooth & Justice.

Around 1988 Shannon moved to Austin, Texas where he became a video store clerk and would hang out at The Daily Texan newspaper with other legendary cartoonists such as Chris Ware.

His first real hit was Too Much Coffee Man which saw over 10,000 copies sold for it’s first issue and is in it’s seventh printing.  The series ran for ten issues (sort of).  Wheeler explained how he skipped two issues because he wasn’t having fun creating it, thinking the readers wouldn’t have fun reading it.  He really liked the ending, so decided to skip two issues.  He needed to skip two so that the covers worked the way he wanted.  This lead him the exclaim:

There’s nothing rarer than a non-existent comic book.

The stories flowed from there and here are the highlights, some never having been told before.

  • In 1993, Wheeler and his friends decided to make a bullet hole comic book gimmick.  They’d shoot a comic with a bullet and work the hole into the stories (one person forgot that part).  They debated if it was a good idea, Wheeler said no matter the idea, people will look for excuses not to do it.  They shot the books 3 times with the last time being done in a house garage and music covering up the gun fire.  A 9mm gun and a shotgun has been used and the shotgun was guaranteed “unreadable” selling fort $20.  The lesson, as condition goes down, the value goes up.
  • Japanese bootleg shirt – this was the “big story reveal’ of the show.  Wheeler wanted to do a t-shirt with Kanji writing and a picture or Too Much Coffee Man.  He felt it was a bit pretentious to do.  But, if the t-shirt is already selling in Japan, that’d justify the t-shirt.  So began the story of the bootlegged shirt.  Wheeler explained to people that a friend saw the t-shirt and that he was bootlegging and bootlegged t-shirt.  The translation was even off stating, “Person who drinks coffee often” as you’d expect in a t-shirt of that nature.  Ironically he was later contacted by a Japanese company, who actually licensed the t-shirt.
  • Wheeler was irritated he at one point had never gotten an award, so he had planned on creating a fake award for him to receive.  While this was in the planning stages he then actually received one, scrapping the plan.

The stories went on and on, going over the Too Much Coffee Man opera, his work for The New Yorker and his latest book collecting rejected submissions.  Wheeler throughout was honest and open recounting the good and bad.

The panel was engaging and entertaining, running over it’s hour allotment.  If you head to a convention and have a chance to see him speak, absolutely take advantage, you’ll be entertained and learn a lot.

Comic Con – The Science Of Zombies: How real is a “zombie” virus? Friday July 22 @ 7:30 pm, Room 8

Official Press Release

Comic Con 2011 – Deep Silver Presents the Best Damn Panel Ever: “The Science of Zombies”

Top Neuroscience Professionals Converge with World’s foremost Zombie Authorities to Discuss the Threat of a “Real Zombie Apocalypse” and Examine the Myths and Truths of the Zombified Human Brain

LARKSPUR, Ca. – Hmmmm Brainnnnsss. Today Deep Silver  announced it will host a panel at Comic Con 2011 that promises to blend the pop culture fascination with zombies with realities of medical science titled, “The Science of Zombies.” The panel will take place in room 8 of the San Diego Convention Center on July 22 at 7:30 p.m. and will explore  society’s fascination with the Zombie genre as a whole, and demonstrate how creative talent are harnessing medical science to define and explore horror entertainment in more realistic (and therefore more frightening and engaging) ways.

The panel features the creative talent behind the acclaimed and highly anticipated Dead Island™ (www.deadisland.com) game, the world’s foremost zombie enthusiasts, esteemed interactive entertainment industry journalists and the nation’s leading medical professionals in the field of brain research and brain disease. Scheduled particpants include:

·        Max Brooks, universal zombie expert and author of The Zombie Survival Guide, World War Z and The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks

·        Haris Orkin, writer of the anticipated video game, Dead Island

·        Steve Schlozman, M.D., author of The Zombie Autopsies and assistant professor of psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

·        Bradley Voytek, Ph.D., Post-doctoral Fellow: Neuroscience University of California, San Francisco

·        Andrew Groen, freelance journalist and editor of GamePro Magazine’s “Real Science” column

·        Bruce Geryk, M.D.,  Resident Physician, Department of Neurosurgery, University of North Carolina Hospitals

“We’re excited to bring some of the world’s great medical minds together for what promises to be an intriguing discussion about the human body and its capabilities,” said Deep Silver Chief Operating Officer Geoff Mulligan, quickly hiding a plastic bin filled with suspiciously grey and squishy looking unidentified objects under his desk . “I have an ongoing  belief that brains are a vastly underrated source of vitamin B12 and thus will base my potential intake of human brains on this panel’s ultimate decision on whether or not this is a solid nutritional strategy. I look forward to this discussion at Comic Con 2011.”

Dead Island  is the upcoming gruesome zombie action game with RPG elements developed by renowned developer Techland and combines first-person action with a heavy focus on melee combat, character development and customization of a vast array of weapons. All of these gameplay features are presented in a dark story inspired by classic zombie movies with a gritty and engrossing campaign that can be played with up to four players in co-op mode.

The Dead Island Special Edition is now available as an automatic upgrade to early preorder customers at GameStop stores nationwide for a limited time, while supplies last.

Dead Island launches on September 6, 2011 at retailers across North America.

Official website: www.deadisland.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/deadislandgame
Twitter: http://twitter.com/deadislandgame
About Deep Silver, Inc.
Deep Silver develops and publishes interactive games for all platforms, seeking to deliver top-quality products that provide immersive game experiences driven by the desires of the gaming community.  The company has published more than 100 games worldwide since 2003 and is currently working on the launch of its highly-anticipated zombie action thriller, Dead Island™.  Deep Silver, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Media, GmbH.  For more information, please visit www.deepsilver.com.

About Techland
Techland is a leading Polish developer, publisher and distributor of PC and console games since 1991. Its proprietary Chrome Engine 5 technology is among the world’s most advanced game engines, with full Xbox 360™, PC and PlayStation®3 system compatibility. With a staff of nearly 200 specialists in two development offices in Wroclaw and Warsaw, Techland is committed to delivering top-quality titles for worldwide markets. Currently the company is working on several high-profile titles for consoles and PCs.