Tag Archives: featured

Universal FanCon CoFounder Tweets Out His Thoughts About the Convention Postponement

This morning news broke that the anticipated first year convention Universal FanCon had been postponed. The convention was to take place in Baltimore, MD the weekend of April 27-29. The announcement caught many by surprise and the reactions ranged from sadness to anger.

While we may never get a full accounting of what happened to derail the convention, convention co-founder Robert, who is also the Managing Editor and Creator of The Black Geeks, Tweeted out his thoughts about the change of events.

We’ll of course continue to cover this turn of events as more becomes clear.

Review: Secret Coders Vol. 5 Potions & Parameters

Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes is a fantastic all-ages graphic novel series that not just entertains but also educates. Blending fun story as well as lessons to teach computer coding, the graphic novels are a perfect way to learn!

This fifth volume is out in comic and book stores now. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology or TFAW (Hardcover) or TFAW (Softcover)

 

 

First Second provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Creators Corner: Creating Rebirth of the Gangster, Part 9– Self-Publishing and Distribution

Over the summer, I wrote a few parts in a series detailing the creation of my comic Rebirth of the Gangster (on sale now!)

In case you missed it, check out these links to the first three parts-

Part 1: The Birth of the Idea

Part 2: Brainstorming and Outlining the Plot

Part 3: Outline, Synopsis and Chapter Breakdown

Part 4: Scripting the Action

Part 5: Finding the Right Artist

Part 6: Pages in Progress and the Artist/Writer Collaboration

Part 7: Submitting the Comic and Cover Letters

Part 8: Filtering through Publisher Feedback

And now, for Part 9: The final installment in my series about creating and publishing Rebirth of the Gangster!

After being rejected by all the publishers I sent my comic too (it wasn’t completely worthless, though, since I received some good advice, as I covered in Part 8), I decided to self-publish Rebirth of the Gangster.  Self-publishing does come with a taboo, of course, but the revenue and respect given to self-publishers has been growing in recent years (The Martian was a self-published book at first, for one example of self-publishing being worth money and industry cred).

the martian

While much of self-publishing deals with the details of print and distribution, I decided to release individual issues digitally and distribute graphic novel collections of each six-issue story arc.  After I made that choice, the next step for any self publisher is to figure out how to get your comic in the hands and hearts of fans. While I would like to get printed copies to fans, frankly Diamond Distributor isn’t very friendly to independent comics–they will only guarantee payments if enough copies have been sold to stores in their ordering phase.  And I wasn’t–and still am not–in a financial position to take on that kind of risk. So, I started exploring the largely uncharted waters of digital sales.

I did some research–looking online and then sending questions to companies to get some answers about their reach, their payout structure, their editorial requirements and more.  Not only did this help me understand my options better, I was able to distill these findings into a Slant article for others: giving them a map and compass to navigate digital terrain.   That article is no longer available, since Slant went under and the domain was lost, but here’s what I wrote:

In recent years, the comic industry has been adapting to new demand for digital versions of their comics (although print is still a viable option), which has led to companies creating numerous platforms with some key differences in pricing for customer, payout to creators, editing and submission process, philosophy, and degree of involvement.  

Platforms like Selz, Pulp Free Publishing, Gumroad, and Sellfy all responded to interview requests; other platforms of note (Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Nook, Comixology, Scribd, and Tapastic) didn’t respond to interview requests but were researched for the following information.  A huge thanks to Zeno Telos Press and Publishers Weekly for some of the research that supplements the interviews.

 

The Basics for Each Site

Platform Customer Cost Creator Payout and Platform Cut of Profits Editing and Submitting Process
Comixology Varies by comic–there is a section titled “Free Comics” though 50% (after credit card fees and cost from Apple, Google, Kindle) Can submit once an account has been created with company information and payment information. Get started here.
Amazon Kindle Varies by comic, but you can also join Kindle Unlimited, their Netflix-esque program.  It costs $9.99 a month and gives access to as many books as the customer wants. If the sale price  is less than $2.99, the creator gets 35%
If the sale price is greater than $2.99 and less than $9.99, the creator gets 70%*
If the sale price is more than this, the creator gets 35%
Submission information here.
Barnes and Noble Nook Varies by comic Barnes and Noble didn’t have this easily available, but a source says that as of Oct-2013, this is the payout structure:

Prices from $ 0.99 to $ 2.98 = 40%

Prices from $ 2.99 to $ 9.99 = 65%

Prices from $ 10.00 to $ 199.99 = 40%

Submit here.
iBookstore Varies by comic. 70% They didn’t list any specific requirements, but they posted this set of steps here.
Pulp Free Publishing Kevin Bricklin, founder of Pulp Free Publishing states:

“After Apple’s 30% fee, we share 70/30 with creators.  70% for the Creator and 30% for PFP (that equates to 49% of the sales price to the creator)”
There is a Premium Package–a one-time payment of $99 lets creators keep 100% of sales.

Although they don’t have editorial requirements, they do say they have the standard “ page specifications (which are required so that the comics can look good on retina devices)”, according to Bricklin.
Comics Fix
(website is offline while they relaunch their service)
8.99 a month, Netflix style–this was their pricing plan before they took their site down to reboot and relaunch it 50%

This was also what was listed before.

No information available.
Selz Varies by comic Melissa Whidjay, Selz community manager says, “All we keep is a small transaction fee on each sale, which is usually under 5% of your sale price. You get to keep the rest!” They don’t have editing requirements, but Whidjay did give this advice for file format:

It’s totally up to you! We let you sell pretty much all file types, but your best bet is to publish in PDF as it’s the most widely accepted file type for reading comics. “

Sellfy Varies by comic 95% No editing process–they’re only interested in running “ a third party [that]  manage[s] the sales and download link delivery”, according to customer service manager Matthew.
Gumroad Varies by comic 95%. The only requirement Sahil Lavingia, founder and CEO of Gumroad, gave was “the standard NSFW stuff (though since we’re not a marketplace, we can sway more freely).”

Details on how to submit here.

Scribd Netlix style subscription for unlimited comics, books, audiobooks and sheet music: $8.99 a month; there are individual texts for sale too, with varying prices There are a few different creator payout guidelines:
For an individual sale: 80% after $0.25 processing fee.
There are a few different payout options for subscription readers, depending on publishing service used by creator:
Smashwords:If books are read past the 30% mark: 60% of sales. 10 reads between 15-30% will also count as an individual sale.
Draft2Digital:

If books are read past the 30% mark: 60% of sales.

BookBaby:

55% of sales
INscribe Digital:

This is another option but the royalty structure wasn’t outlined.

Submission information here (broken down by categories like publishers, self-publishers, etc…).
Tapastic Some are free, but some have varying costs Monthly Support: 85%

Ad Revenue: 70%

Storefront: 50%

Submission information here.

 

More Detailed Descriptions of Each Site

Comixology You Tube Channel

While Comixology didn’t respond to interview requests, there is some further information available about their platform. Comixology was acquired by Amazon in April of 2014.

Most people buy individual titles and issues, but Comixology does have a subscription option, although there isn’t any discount for subscribing to an issue.  They currently have thousands of titles available (7500 individual issues, 700 of which are free) and thousands of individual submit titles available (creator-owned and self published titles, not ones published by big companies like Marvel and DC).

John D. Roberts, cofounder of ComiXology and director of Submit, describes their submit program this way: “Submit has the broadest range of comics and graphic novels possible, and that’s what customers really enjoy about it.  From superhero to queer comics, slice-of-life graphic novels, all-ages manga, and beyond, the readership of Submit titles is as varied as the books submitted.”

If you’re a creator looking to submit your comic to Comixology, it has to meet their quality standards (not outlined on their website).  They say the process should take 3 months minimum, but it can sometimes be longer (6 months or longer) depending on whether the creator meets Comixology’s specifications right away, needs to make changes, or other issues.

The big specifications problem, according to Roberts, is creators producing poor digital quality when converting their files to PDF.  He says that these PDF files often “suffer from artifacting and pixilation, primarily due to excessive compression. Some of the more popular PDF tools have compression defaults that are hard to find and change, and thus we get a ton of files that we can’t use”.  He also reminds creators that they’ll be competing–on Comixology and in general–with big companies that have strong formatting for their digital content.

 

Kindle You Tube Channel

Amazon Kindle also did not respond to interview requests.  

Similar to Comixology, Amazon has content requirements, mainly formatting, that a comic needs to reach to be accepted.

Creators make less for individual issues on Amazon than they do on Comixology, so some people suggest releasing individual issues elsewhere, and then submitting graphic novels to Amazon.  They do admit that submitting individual issues to Amazon is good exposure and increases marketability.

 

Nook You Tube Channel

Barnes and Noble also did not return requests for an interview.  The most current information available is already described above.

 

iBooks Video

iBooks also did not return requests for an interview.

When submitting to iBooks consider this following information about file format, given in the Q and A here: You can submit your work for publication in the iBooks Store as an .ibooks file, where you can sell it or offer it as a free download. You can also export your book from iBooks Author as a PDF, text file, or .ibooks file which you can distribute outside the iBooks Store or through iTunes U.

 

Pulp Free Publishing You Tube Video

 

Tapastic You Tube Video

 

Sellfy Vimeo Video

 

About Scribd Video–interview with CEO and CTO

 

Intro to Gumroad on Vimeo

 

Video Tutorials for Selz

 

 

That’s it!  After 9 detailed parts, my behind-the-scenes look at the making of Rebirth of the Gangster is over!

I hope you enjoyed them all (and if you missed any, click on the links at the beginning of this article): for future news and behind-the-scenes looks, check my website out: cjstandalproductions.com.

The Inaugural Universal FanCon is Postponed (Updatedx7)

Conventions can be a tough business and while the past decade has seen an explosion of conventions focused on geekdom the quality and success rate has been all over. While some new shows shine, others have been utter disasters. One new upstart convention, Universal FanCon, was to take place the weekend of April 27-29 at the Baltimore Convention Center. An ambitious three day start at a rather large convention space that also houses Baltimore Comic Con and until recently Otakon.

Focused on inclusion, highlighting women, LGBTQ, the disabled, and persons of color, Universal FanCon was to be part of the burgeoning focus on inclusive conventions that wear that inclusiveness on their sleeves and geared towards the broader fandom space.

After a Kickstarter that raised $56,498 from 1,187 individuals, the convention is “postponed” with confusion from attendees, guests, and vendors. An email is believed to have been sent to backers, but no word has been sent to other attendees, guests, and vendors, yet.

We talked to guests who said their flights had not been booked and details such as hotel were not available. Just yesterday the convention had posted the schedule of events so that’s one hell of a change in not even 24 hours. While we’re not sure exactly what’s going on, there’s reports of resignations, we’ve asked for updates directly from the convention and will have more as this develops.

Update 1: The convention is currently not listed on the Baltimore Convention Center website. We followed up with the convention center for clarification and the person we spoke to said the convention was removed as to not create confusion that it was still occurring on the original date but they have also not received an official notice of cancellation.

Update 2: The email sent to what we believe are Kickstarter backers (and based on grumblings the email was a cc, not a bcc so sharing addresses around).

Update 3: Executive Board Member Melanie Dione resigned from Universal FanCon this morning.

Update 4: Universal FanCon’s full statement from Twitter.

We see your tweets, messages & concerns. We will have a full update later today on the status of the convention. We realize the immense severity of the situation and our teams will be working to address everything as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

It is with a heavy heart that we must announce that FanCon has been postponed until further notice. We deeply apologize for the disappointment, anger and feelings of lost trust due to this decision. We are taking the steps to reschedule the convention & will provide an update/

We know there are lots of questions regarding what happened and how it happened and why this happened at this stage–all of this will be addressed in full detail later today and will be posted on our site and our social media accounts.

We recognize that people have poured time, effort and money into making this convention a success and many are in precarious positions as to their plans for the next weekend. We will do all we can to help establish some resolutions.

We are devastated to make this postponement decision–but most importantly we recognize and take on any pain we’ve caused to our guests, our backers, our affiliates, the attendees and anyone even remotely involved.

What happens next: 1. Again we will provide full insight into the situation later today 2. We have a contingency plan for people who still will be in Baltimore/can’t change their travel plans; to be shared later today.

3. We will address all questions about ticketing, booths, & any other involvement in our communication to be posted across our sites/social later today. We will also be addressing concerns on the individual level as efficiently as possible. Please email: info@universalfancon.com

Update 5: The Hollywood Reporter has picked up the story and said there is a “financial deficit” according to their source which is what we believed the issue to be and explains some things like lack of booking flights and hotels for talent and guests.

Update 6: One of the cofounders Tweeted is thoughts about the situation.

Update 7: The convention has released a longer statement and a FAQ on their website. Below is the text which can be found on their website.

FanCon Has Been Postponed Until Further Notice

TL;DR: There is an FAQ section at the bottom of this statement that provides answers to many of your questions.

As many of you may have heard, Universal FanCon has been postponed until further notice. It will not be held as previously scheduled on April 27-29 at the Baltimore Convention Center. This is an incredibly heartbreaking decision. Based on an evaluation of all the information available, it was decided that it would be irresponsible to move forward with our plans. Although we worked diligently to preserve the vision of an event that fosters true inclusion, diversity, and safety for all of our guests, exhibitors, and attendees; despite working tirelessly for close to two years, we fell short in delivering the event we envisioned.

To provide further context, FanCon began as a dream held by a few and grew in size as we spoke with like-minded people in the pop and geek culture space. Our members encompass many intersections of marginalized groups and we wanted to do what other cons would not — give us a true voice and platform on which to build an incredible event that catered to all of us. To facilitate that, we launched a Kickstarter in late 2016, to which we received overwhelming support. We built up our internal teams, comprised mostly of volunteers who still held full time jobs while supporting families. We spoke with various experts to gain insight into how to produce a convention and better understand the activities that needed to take place in order to execute this event.

As we built out our floorplan, invited guests, figured out lodging/travel arrangements, and confirmed activities, our costs started to grow exponentially. Unfortunately, the support we were anticipating in terms of ticket sales and sponsorships did not materialize. Accordingly, the organizers of FanCon made significant personal investments in order to ensure FanCon’s success. In addition to these investments, we worked to scale back the number of guests and limit the convention space to create a leaner and more efficient show. Sadly, this was not enough. If we were to have moved forward, the event would have been significantly diminished.

The strength of the chorus of unique voices that represents FanCon is of great value and we are devastated we couldn’t keep the convention on as planned. Further, we’ve made mistakes in the process of trying to inform all of our stakeholders (guests, exhibitors, panelists, attendees, kickstarter backers, etc.) and have caused significant inconvenience to many who trusted us. The announcement that originally notified everyone of the “cancellation” of the convention was due to a miscommunication from one of our partner hotels and was in no way supposed to be communicated in that manner. We are deeply sorry that the public did not receive information regarding what was happening with the convention from us first.

To help address the specific concerns that have been proposed, we’ve created an FAQ. This tool should help provide more answers and direction as to what happens going forward.

We are still incredibly dedicated to our communities, this space, and hope to come out stronger and wiser than before. We are here for you and we are available to answer any questions you may have that are not listed below at info[at]universalfancon[dot]com.

 

FAQs

Why are you postponing FanCon?

Currently we are in a financial deficit that will not allow us to operate the convention within budget. Accordingly, we have made the decision to postpone and reschedule FanCon so we can put forward the type of event our fans deserve.

Why did you wait so long to postpone the event?

The FanCon team worked really hard up to the last minute to put forward an amazing event. However, it became clear in our last team meeting that we would not be able to deliver the event the fans deserved without more time.

How long will the event be postponed?

Once we are able to fully assess our options, we will make an announcement.

Does this mean FanCon is canceled?

Not at all! FanCon and our mission remains the same! We plan to ensure that fans have a safe space to feel included and our goal is to make that a reality. We worked really hard to preserve the vision and experience that  our fans deserve. We wanted to be absolutely certain that we wouldn’t be able to live up to our shared vision before we made this decision. We looked at all options up to the minute we decided that it would be better for fans that we postpone FanCon and ensure a great experience than to move forward and not be able to. We are currently postponing as opposed to canceling.

Why didn’t you tell us sooner? I found out through Twitter/ my hotel / a friend / etc.?

Once we fully understood that we could not move forward, we immediately went into action in building proper communications, building our statement, and this FAQ so all of our guests, affiliates, backers, and attendees could be notified first. Unfortunately room cancellation emails went out to attendees in the FanCon room bloc before we could properly inform everyone. We had no warning that the partner hotel would share their cancellation notice in this manner, and resulted in us having to scramble to get something out to everyone as quickly as possible.

When you have an event of this size, there are a lot of moving parts. There is a protocol and process that has to be followed in order to get the word out to everyone that is even remotely affected. Unfortunately we were forced to share basic detail as opposed to our full explanation as quickly as possible due to the abrupt nature of the hotel cancellations.

On the day of the postponement, why was I still seeing ads for new guests, panels, and/or posts to buy tickets?

Unfortunately, we had scheduled posts that were not stopped in time, across our social media accounts.

I just paid for a flight. What happens now?

We sincerely apologize for the efforts and resources that went into your travel arrangements when you had an expectation to be at this convention. If you will still be coming to Baltimore next weekend, feel free to join us for the Infinity War movie screening. We would love the opportunity to sit down and meet with many of you face-to-face and talk through your thoughts about FanCon.

You may also have an option to recoup some costs–please contact your airliners directly as some will allow you to cancel your flight without penalty and/or use the ticket as credit towards future travel.

What happens to my hotel reservation?

If you booked with one of our partner hotels, your reservation may have already been cancelled. If you did not receive a cancellation notice or are unsure, please contact the partner hotel directly. If you booked with a different hotel or lodging service, please review your booking info and contact them directly.

Many hotels will allow for cancellations in advance of stay.

I took vacations days off of work already. What happens now?

We’re incredibly sorry that you have set time aside to take off for FanCon. If you decide to keep your plans to come to Baltimore, we are happy to still meet and connect with you.

What happened to the Kickstarter funds?

The initial funding received from our Kickstarter was allocated towards securing space at the Baltimore Convention Center, initial marketing, and convention operations. Additional investments were made by the organizers.

What happens to the FanCon ticket I purchased?
As indicated on our ticketing site, all sales are final. However, we will honor your tickets for the next FanCon event.

What happens to the movie ticket I purchased for the Infinity War screening?
That ticket is still valid and we are still holding the screening.

I purchased a gift ticket, how do I get a refund?
Your ticket will be donated and redeemable at the next FanCon event.

What happens to the guests? Will they be back?
While we cannot guarantee that the same guests will attend FanCon in the future, we will extend the invitation to everyone.

It’s too late to change my plans so I’m still coming to Baltimore. Where should I go?

We’re currently working with multiple organizations to see what alternate plans can be created for that weekend. We will have an answer for you by April 25th. In addition, we are still hosting our Infinity War movie screening on Thursday, April 26th, so if you already purchased a ticket, we encourage you to still attend.

I shipped stuff to my hotel/convention center how do I get it back?

Please email us at info[at]universalfancon[dot]com and share the exact details of (a) your name (b) provide full description of what you shipped and the number of items/boxes (c) confirm if you shipped your items to a hotel(please provide full name of the hotel) or the convention center (d) your carrier and tracking information

We will assist in getting your items shipped back to you.

Where will the next FanCon be held?

We will provide an update on venue once we have a better understanding of our options.

I’m a panelist–what happens to my panel now?

We believe our program schedule was an amazing reflection of our values and those of our fans. If you’re a panelist and still would like to host your panel at our rescheduled FanCon event, we will welcome you.

I am a Kickstarter backer, can I still attend at a later date?

Yes

I was a scheduled guest, what happens now?

Guests and management team have been contacted directly regarding the next steps. If there are still questions, please contact: info[at]universalfancon[dot]com

I was a vendor/exhibitor, what do I do?

Vendors/exhibitors have been contacted directly with further instructions. Similar to ticket holders, vendors/exhibitors have a guaranteed space at the rescheduled FanCon. If there are any remaining questions, please contact: info[at]universalfancon[dot]com.

I still have questions, who can speak to?

Please contact us at: info[at]universalfancon[dot]com

 

Exclusive Preview: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #19

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #19

Story: Kieron Gillen, Si Spurrier
Art: Emilio Laiso
Color: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Ashley Witter
Editors: Jordan D. White, Mark Paniccia
Assistant Editors: Heather Antos, Emily Newcomen
Rated T
In Shops: Apr 25, 2018
SRP: $3.99

“REMASTERED” CONTINUES!
• Evil droid mastermind Triple-Zero has been blackmailing Doctor Aphra into stealing his old memories…
• …which also has included sneaking onto Rebel training grounds run by General Hera Syndulla.
• Now hunted by both Hera of the Rebellion and Tolvan of the Empire, Aphra’s got a lot on her mind…
• But if there’s anything to know about the Doctor, it’s that she’s always got tricks up her electro-sleeve!

C2E2 2018: Writer Tini Howard Talks Assassinistas, Euthanauts, and More

Tini Howard is one of comics’ most exciting new writers. She has worked on licensed properties like Rick and Morty: Pocket Like You Stole It and a series of Barbie graphic novels and has breathed new life into classic Image characters like Cassie Hack in Hack/Slash Resurrection and Magdalena in Magdalena Reformation. However, the main subject of this interview was Howard’s creator owned work for IDW’s Black Crown imprint where legendary editor Shelly Bond has kept the spirit of 1990s Vertigo alive in 2018.

Graphic Policy: So, you currently have two series at Black Crown. You’re sort of their flagship writer. Why has that imprint been such a good place for your recent projects?

Tini Howard: I’m a big fan of Shelly Bond’s work. I’m a huge fan of her sensibilities and taste. I’m a huge fan of Philip Bond. I was at a place in my career where I wasn’t sure what I was going to do next. Skeptics was my first creator owned work, and it was a gauntlet making that book so I learned a lot about making comics. I was like, “Man, when I do my next creator owned series, I wish someone would call me up on the phone that has experience and say, ‘I want to help you make this book.'”

Shelly Bond was that person. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that she found my work independently of me begging her to like it. She reached out to me, and Black Crown is great. They have lot of support from IDW because the company very much trusts in Shelly’s sensibilities. So, I get to work with two of the all time greats in comics [with Bond] and Gilbert Hernandez as well.

One of the Black Crown sayings is that “We have an old guard and a new guard” so with Euthanauts, I’m part of the old guard so I get to bring someone new in with Nick [Robles].

GP: I love the philosophy that they have. Another thing I like about Black Crown is its intersection between music and comics. What have you been listening to while writing Assassinistas and Euthanauts?

TH: The Assassinistas playlist is a lot of grrrl punk. A lot of X-Ray Spex, a lot of The Go-Go’s, all the way up to Paramore and Natalia Kills. It’s angry girl music throughout the ages is the background of Assassinistas along with some little things. Like I’ve got some Pansy Division on there because Taylor’s super into queer punk.

Then, Euthanauts is Bowie, Bjork, Massive Attack. It’s dream pop, it’s weird, and death-y. Some VNV Nation going back to my Wax Trax! Goth kid days. It’s also got some weird meditative music on there, and then I’ve got “Rocket Man” by Elton John on there. That’s a song I connect a lot to Euthanauts. 

GP: When you’re writing Assassinistas, how do you find the balance and pacing between these super stylized action sequences (Especially the flashbacks.) and the tender mom/son, boyfriend/boyfriend kind of scenes?

TH: For me, everyone is multitudes. Even when I’m “on” at a con, I’m still internally feeling the things I have to deal with. As a writer, you’re like “A character is doing one thing”, but no one is ever really just doing one thing. We’re all doing one thing on the outside and feeling other things on the inside. For me, it’s remembering these people have experienced pain and are trying their best to connect while also doing really stressful things.

As anyone who’s ever done a comic convention, anyone who’s ever planned a wedding, anyone’s who done a move, stress heightens all your familial tensions. Moving is one of the most stressful things for a family. I think they only say that because most families aren’t assassins. Maybe doing an assassin job is one of the most stressful things. It’s also interesting because despite these women being contract killers, what they’re there to do isn’t murder. It’s not a bloody book full of people dying. That’s their past. This is their future.

GP: My personal favorite part of Assassinistas is this budding romance between Dominic and Taylor.  What do you have in store for them going into the second half of the miniseries?

TH: The thing I love about Dominic and Taylor is that Taylor, in a lot of ways, is like the audience character because Taylor was not raised in this world. He’s kind of curiously looking at it the same way that we as the audience are. So, Taylor’s really important to me. He’s got the heart of someone who was raised in a supportive, normal environment, and that’s part of why Dominic loves him. It’s like “Look at you. Look at how normal we can be.”

Dominic craves normalcy, and to a lot of people, dating a boy with a pink mohawk is not normal, but it is his normal. It’s who he is. He loves this kid, and when Dominic looks at Taylor, he sees a white picket fence and them having 2.5 kids together. He gets a business degree, and Taylor has his awesome gender studies degree. He gets a job teaching and is a professor like his parents. When Dominic sees Taylor, he sees normalcy and sees something that’s not like his life.

Having a person that is the normal oasis from crazy family life being brought into his crazy family life, and having that person think it’s really cool is a nightmare for Dominic.

GP: The fights in Assassinistas are really, I guess, funky is the best way to describe them. What is your process like plotting out the fights with Gilbert Hernandez?

TH: The Hernandez Bros can draw anything because they’re great, but they’re not exactly known for these superhero style action scenes. Frankly, I don’t love writing long fight scenes without a purpose. I’m not the person who gets off on writing 18 pages of gory punches. For me, a fight is a reason to do something else. It’s a way to get a character somewhere. It’s a way to start a conversation. I love the way that Beto and Rob Davis on colors are doing the art for these pages. They almost remind me of old Batman ’66 fights. Bam, pow, yeah! We’re there for the kinetic moment, and what it draws.

Beto really understands it. Neither of us are people that love violence and want to make a hyperviolent book. Beto is in Vegas. That’s a place that has seen a lot of trauma. We’ve had moments where we’ve talked about it before. We have these people walking around with automatic weapons and have had that talk. Neither of us are fans of violence for violence’s sake. That’s a big touchpoint.

GP: Moving on to Euthanauts, which I’m really excited for. So, I grew up a Protestant with Heaven, Hell, the afterlife being a big part of my upbringing. What is your vision of the afterlife in Euthanauts, and how does that connect to your own beliefs about death and the afterlife?

TH: I’ve always been scared of space. I’ve also always been scared of death. I think it’s for the same reason. There’s nothing out there. It’s formless and unfriendly. I grew up watching the same VHS copy of Apollo 13 a thousand times, and it terrified me every time because you have duct tape and Saran wrap, you’re in space, and you have to get home.

So, I kind of started of contextualizing it and asking, “What if there’s an afterlife, and it’s not heaven, it’s not hell, it’s not even populated.” When most of us die, we just die. You die, and your spirit goes to that unwelcoming cold place and just fizzes out. Back before we knew what happened to you in space, we used to think people would explode in space or something. We didn’t know what happened to you out there.

That’s what I’m working with in Euthanauts. That’s a frontier. These people are pioneers. But death only goes one way for most of us. It gets into that Egyptian, or in some ways that Christian idea, of living life for the afterlife. Living your whole life just to prepare for the afterlife. For a Euthanaut, that’s what it takes. It takes a massive amount of preparation.

The three main characters we have all view the afterlife in different ways. [There’s] Natalia, our main character, who works in a funeral home. The way I describe her, if you’re a Six Feet Under fan, is she’s a Fisher. She’s very normal. She doesn’t talk about her feelings. She works at a funeral home. She’s a recovering Goth girl. She’s got a lot of anxiety about death and the afterlife, but she buries it deep down and has a very American view of the funeral. When death happens, we shunt it out of our vision and look at someone who’s made up and put them in a box in the ground.

Then, we have Mercy, who is kind of her foil and the lead Euthanaut. Mercy is very scientific. It’s true that in the beginning of the 20th century, you can look at college grants to study the afterlife. Because to this day, we don’t have understanding of if something is there. Mercy is a researcher of that. She’s very much [into] the 21 grams of the soul, moment of death, and trying to understand consciousness and maintain that consciousness into the beyond. That’s really what the core is about.

Then, we have Indi, or Indigo Hanover, who is Nick’s favorite, and was supposed to be a tertiary character, but then became our third protagonist because we loved him so much. Indi is a radical fairy. He was raised by two lesbian witches. He grew up in that whole world. The book opens on him preparing his mother for her funeral, which is a beautiful, joyous event. He believes in reincarnation and the cycle of life and death. Indi doesn’t like the idea of going somewhere else and breaking that cycle. To him, that’s a little upsetting. He kind of gets conscripted into the Euthanauts.

GP: How did you end up working with Nick Robles on Euthanauts, and how does his vision of the afterlife mesh with yours?

TH: Nick is an artist that everyone in comics has their eyes on right now. He did Alien Bounty Hunter at Vault and is so talented. His first Black Crown work was that he drew a piece of Kid Lobotomy fan art, and Tess Fowler saw it was good that she gave up a cover so he could do a cover. (They already had a variant cover.) So, Nick’s fan art of the titular character from Kid Lobotomy became the cover for issue 6. From that, he was just on our radar hardcore. Shelly suggested him, and I said, “Absolutely”. I’m just a big fan of Nick’s work.

Nick loves pretty boys and loves drawing them. A lot of reason for Indi as a character is because of Nick’s instant affection for him. Nick draws him so beautifully and all the characters so beautifully, which is great too because we have some characters, like Mercy, who are not conventionally beautiful. Mercy is sick. Her appearance is that sh’es clearly dying in public. We first see her because she looks so unnerving and scary. But everything is beautifully rendered for Nick even the scary stuff.

GP: Yeah, I saw the first preview, and there were all these blood and guts and viscera going around.

TH: He’s very talented with that. He’s coloring the first issue too. Every time I post art, everyone is like, “Who is the colorist?” And I’m like, “It’s Nick.” He’s a legend in the making.

GP: I actually have a quick Rick and Morty question. How does the fandom missing the whole point of the show with the whole Szechuan sauce debacle affect your writing and working on it as a licensed property?

TH: I was very lucky to engage with the show before I was aware of the fandom at all. I have a really personal connection with the show. It touched me in a lot of ways. I grew up reading hard sci-fi so a lot of tropes they use are ones I’ve thought about. Humor aside, Rick and Morty is some of the best sci-fi around because it takes those tropes and makes them personal. That was good sci-fi does.

Rick and Morty does that while at the same time being gut bustingly hilarious. I always try and engage and touch what I like about the show rather than trying to please any part of the fanbase. I’ve been really pleased with how people respond.

GP: I have one last question, and it has to do with death. What does the Tarot card, Death, mean to you?

TH: That is such a good question, but I can’t really tell you why yet… Death is about change, death is a transference of energy. That is something I say in Euthanauts again and again. Death is not just a transference energy, it’s a state change. So, to the Euthanauts, death is the equivalent of boiling water and making steam. The only difference is that they haven’t figured out how to put the steam back in the water.

With death, it’s one way. And the whole thing about the Euthanauts is let’s say you die, and there’s something you want to write home about, how do you write home from the afterlife. And that’s where our tethers, Natalia, Mercy, and Indi, come up, and that’s their importance in the story.

 

Assassinistas #4 is currently out, and you can buy it here. Rick and Morty: Pocket Like You Stole It is available here. Euthanauts #1 is set to be released in July 2018

Follow Tini Howard on Twitter.

 

Unboxing: April 2018’s Comic of the Month Club

Comic of the Month Club is a monthly comic subscription box for comic book fans everywhere. Subscribers receive 11 personally curated comics every month and fill out a preference form as to what they’re interested in.

You can subscribe now. Please include “Graphic Policy” in the referral space. You as a subscriber receive an extra bonus and we do get something in return.

Find out what’s in this month’s box!

 

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The Ultimate Guide to (Not) Watching the MCU Before Avengers: Infinity War

Over the past several weeks, so many friends have come to me and said, “So, which of the Marvel movies do I need to have seen before watching Avengers: Infinity War?” (which comes out April 24) My answer, invariably, has been “Uhm. . . all of them?”

I then realize most of my friends are nowhere near as obsessive as I am and haven’t been planning this for months. That’s completely fair. And, as was said quite well on Twitter by film writer Jason Bailey:

Well, the root word of “fan” is “fanatic,” right? So, forgive some of us our ridiculous indulgences. I’m the guy who, in preparation for The Last Jedi watched not only all of the Star Wars movies in chronological order, but also almost all of The Clone Wars and Rebels cartoon shows. I started before Thanksgiving.

But this is for everyone else, written with what you should watch, in what order, and what you need to know in Cliff’s Notes form to get ready.  Speaking of, here’s what you need to know, even if you don’t watch any of the movies: The Avengers, “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes,” are in shambles after a devastating difference of opinion split it into two factions led by Iron Man and Captain America. Meanwhile, an alien of phenomenal power named Thanos has been trying to collect six “Infinity Stones” to place into a gauntlet which would give him, basically, unlimited power. Each stone grants power over an element or concept: space, time, reality, power, mind, and soul. So far over the last decade and eighteen movies, five of the six have shown up.

So, first, figure out exactly how many movies you want to watch, and I’ll give you the right order to watch them in. I’ll start with the fewest movies, and end with two different ways to watch all of them.

NOTE: These are NOT judgments on the quality of the individual films. Indeed, the BEST film of the MCU (Captain America: The Winter Soldier — fight me) is only on the list of watching all or almost all of the films, while some of the lesser quality films (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor: The Dark World) are featured frequently only because they explain the background of the Infinity Stones.

If you only watch ONE movie

  1. Captain America: Civil War

Wha? But that movie has, like nothing to do with Thanos and the Infinity Stones? Right?

Yes, but the MCU’s saving grace is that it has always been more about characters and less about the other trappings. And in a movie like Infinity War that aims to balance the stories of two dozen protagonists, it’s best that we know where the majority of them ended up. And it’s worth knowing the personal stakes for everyone. It doesn’t hurt that this is one of the best films of the series (I rated it my #1 film of 2015)

So that’s all fine and good, but what else do I need to know?

Remember that Thanos is trying to collect all six of these stones, so we can assume that is central to the plot. At the end of the 18 films, here are the last known confirmed locations of the Infinity Stones (and their colors):
The Space Stone – Blue – “The Tesseract” was in Odin’s Treasure Room, but presumably Loki nicked it before Asgard was destroyed in Thor: Ragnarok
The Reality Stone – Red – “The Aether” was last seen being delivered to Taneleer Tevan aka The Collector at the end of Thor: The Dark World
The Power Stone – Purple – “The Orb” was put in the Nova Corps’ vault on Xandar at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy
The Mind Stone – Yellow – Previously housed in Loki’s Scepter, the Mind Stone is now firmly set in the middle of Vision’s forehead, as last seen in Captain America: Civil War
The Time Stone – Green – Housed in “The Eye of Agamato,” this is presumably either in Stephen Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum in Greenich Village, New York City or around his neck, as seen in the end of Doctor Strange 
The Soul Stone 
– Orange – ???

Other characters? There are lots of people who weren’t involved in the Avengers Civil War. Where are they?
The Hulk, Thor, and Loki – Asgard got blowed up in Thor: Ragnarok. Last we saw the surviving Asgardian refugees, they were escaping in a spaceship, and in an after credits scene were confronted by Thanos’s ship. Eep.
The Guardians of the Galaxy – Gamora and Nebula were raised by Thanos. It was an abusive relationship, and they now oppose him. Starlord aka Peter Quill was raised on Earth but his father was an ancient celestial being that tried to murder all of them. This, however, gave him power to (briefly) wield the Power Stone. Drax the Destroyer’s main goal is now to kill Thanos, who ordered the death of his wife and daughter.

 

If you only watch THREE movies

It’s not unreasonable to watch a trilogy of movies. For people with limited time and attention, here are three to watch and why:

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy – This film gives the best explanation of the Infinity Stones, shows us Thanos actively trying to collect them, and introduced the Guardians.
  2. Avengers: Age of Ultron – We see the power of the Mind Stone, and Thor explains more about them
  3. Captain America: Civil Warsee above

So what else do I need to know?
Three other Infinity Stones have shown up in various places: The Space Stone (in The Avengers and elsewhere), The Time Stone (in Doctor Strange), and The Reality Stone (in Thor: The Dark World). Also, Thor, Loki, and the Hulk were last seen in a spaceship that had just encountered Thanos’s ship. Eep. Also, in Guardians 2, Nebula and Gamora make up after bonding over the fact that Thanos would make them fight in mortal combat for his amusement and to make them better weapons.

 

If you only watch SIX movies

This is, in my opinion, the sweet spot. It gives you the locations of all of the Infinity Stones and sets up most of what’s going to happen next. Six movies may seem like a lot, but is it really any different than binge watching a favorite show? You may notice #6 is Black Panther rather than Thor: Ragnarok 

  1. The Avengers – The Space Stone, The Mind Stone, The Avengers first assemble, and a post credit teaser of Thanos
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy – The Power Stone, The Guardians. See above for more info
  3. Avengers: Age of Ultron – not the best movie, but the most about the Infinity Stones
  4. Captain America: Civil War – the best movie, but no Infinity Stones.
  5. Doctor Strange The Time Stone makes an appearance
  6. Black Panther – YES, go see Black Panther, again if you haven’t seen it yet. With a large portion of the action likely happening in Wakanda, you’d do yourself a big favor to check it out. Why see this instead of Thor: Ragnarok? For the same reason Cap: Civil War is on this list. Character over plot, and because Okoye, Shuri, and Wakanda’s fighting prowess isn’t in any other movie. We have several other movies with Thor and Hulk.

What are you missing? “The Aether” aka The Reality Stone was in Thor: The Dark World, and at the end of that movie, Odin decided it wasn’t smart to keep two Infinity Stones in the same place, so he gave it to Taneleer Tevan, The Collector, who you meet in Guardians of the Galaxy. He’s still holding on the Reality Stone as far as we know. Also, Hulk, Thor and Loki (and presumably the Space Stone) and what’s left of Asgard encounter Thanos at the end of Thor: Ragnarok. 

If you only watch ELEVEN movies

This is the most essentially complete you can get without watching all of the movies. This gives us the final locations of all of the Infinity Stones, all of our major characters, all appearances of Thanos, plus adds back in the best movie of the MCU, Captain America: The Winter Soldier (fight me).

  1. Captain America: The First Avenger
  2. The Avengers
  3. Thor: The Dark World
  4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy
  6. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  7. Captain America: Civil War
  8. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
  9. Doctor Strange
  10. Thor: Ragnarok
  11. Black Panther

What am I missing? Iron Man, Spider-Man, Ant Man, Ed Norton as The Hulk. I recognize for a lot of people these are their favorite parts. If so, sprinkle in your favorite bits where they fit, as a commitment to watch 11 movies, welp, you may as well make it a baker’s dozen, amirite? But watching all of these you will know everything you (likely) need before watching Avengers: Infinity War.

If you watch ALL of the MCU

There’s two ways to do this: chronological order by release date, or chronological order by where the majority of the events of the film happen (majority, as in, not counting opening flashbacks like in Ant Man or Guardians of the Galaxy). I prefer release date, just because I think the way things play out is a little more even. Chronologically, you get both of your Guardians of the Galaxy movies and the first two Iron Man movies back to back. A little separation is not a bad thing.

Release date order:

  1. Iron Man (2008)
  2. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  3. Iron Man 2 (2010)
  4. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – First appearance of “The Tesseract” aka The Space Stone
  5. Thor (2011)
  6. The Avengers (2012) – Second appearance of The Tesseract, First appearance of The Mind Stone in Loki’s scepter, First appearance of Thanos
  7. Iron Man 3 (2013)
  8. Thor: The Dark World (2013) – First appearance of The Aether aka The Reality Stone, first appearance of Taneleer Tevan aka The Collector, who takes The Aether in an aftercredits scene and remarks “One down.”
  9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
  10. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – First appearance of “The Orb” aka The Power Stone, explanation of the origin of The Infinity Stones by Taneleer Tevan, second appearance of Thanos
  11. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – Second appearance of The Mind Stone in Loki’s scepter, which provided the powers for Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, spawns Ultron and then ends up in Vision’s head, and Thor takes a bath and sees a vision about the Infinity Stones and the destruction of Asgard. Third appearance of Thanos, who, in an after credits scene, announces, “Fine, I’ll do it myself.”
  12. Ant Man (2015)
  13. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  14. Doctor Strange (2016) – First appearance of The Eye of Agamato, which contains The Time Stone.
  15. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 (2017)
  16. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  17. Thor: Ragnarok (2017) – Third appearance of The Tesseract, which it is implied Loki steals before Asgard is destroyed. Fourth appearance of Thanos, or at least his ship, as it encounters the refugee Asgardian ship in the after credits scene.
  18. Black Panther (2018)

Chronological order:

  1. Captain America: The First Avenger  – First appearance of “The Tesseract” aka The Space Stone
  2. Iron Man
  3. Iron Man 2 
  4. The Incredible Hulk
  5. Thor 
  6. The Avengers – Second appearance of The Tesseract, First appearance of The Mind Stone in Loki’s scepter, First appearance of Thanos
  7. Iron Man 3 
  8. Thor: The Dark World  – First appearance of The Aether aka The Reality Stone, first appearance of Taneleer Tevan aka The Collector, who takes The Aether in an aftercredits scene and remarks “One down.”
  9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier 
  10. Guardians of the Galaxy – First appearance of “The Orb” aka The Power Stone, explanation of the origin of The Infinity Stones by Taneleer Tevan, second appearance of Thanos
  11. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 
  12. Avengers: Age of Ultron – Second appearance of The Mind Stone in Loki’s scepter, which provided the powers for Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, spawns Ultron and then ends up in Vision’s head, and Thor takes a bath and sees a vision about the Infinity Stones and the destruction of Asgard. Third appearance of Thanos, who, in an after credits scene, announces, “Fine, I’ll do it myself.”
  13. Ant Man 
  14. Captain America: Civil War
  15. Doctor Strange – First appearance of The Eye of Agamato, which contains The Time Stone.
  16. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  17. Thor: Ragnarok – Third appearance of The Tesseract, which it is implied Loki steals before Asgard is destroyed. Fourth appearance of Thanos, or at least his ship, as it encounters the refugee Asgardian ship in the after credits scene.
  18. Black Panther

Review: Quantum And Woody! #5

QW2017_005_COVER-B-(ULTRA-FOIL)_SHAW“After three decades and 10,000 miles, the moment of truth has finally arrived: Our heroes are about to come face-to-face with Woody’s long-lost father! In Australia! Will Woody abandon his adoptive brother and trusted partner-in-crime-fighting to embrace a hard-partying scoundrel with no sense of decency? Or…is the world’s worst superhero team about to become a terrible trio?

Plus: Back in America, DC’s super-science crime cabal is about to get an energizing new addition!”

Disclosure: I read this comic after another comic that made my mind hurt.

The final issue (for now) of Daniel Kibblesmith‘s stint in the writing chair, Quantum And Woody #5 concludes a with a suitably zany comic that refuses to take itself seriously but never has you rolling your eyes in exasperation. Kibblesmith uses his talent as a comedy writer to accentuate an already good story and elevate the reader’s enjoyment of a comic that’s very self aware. Quantum and Woody are seen as jokes within the Valiant universe, and their series acknowledges that in some pretty great ways.

There’s a great exploration of the relationship between brothers amidst the chaos of a potentially world ending event at the hands of a twelve year old boy. When the premise behind the comic sounds as oddly stupid as that you can’t help but fall in love with it. I suppose it  doesn’t hurt that Kano‘s art is an assault on your eyes in all the right ways.

Quantum And Woody #5‘s layouts are inventive, exciting and make brilliant use of the page, with Kano showing an artistic ability in sequential art that exceeds expectations. The comic is made all the stronger thanks to the lettering of Dave Sharpe who delivers an additional level of intricacy to the visual aesthetic of the comic.

I didn’t honestly expect to enjoy this issue as much as I did, but it is remarkably easy to leave this comic with a nice warm feeling in your stomach and a smile on your face. If you want a series to take your mind away from the real world then you can’t go wrong with Quantum And Woody.

Story: Daniel Kibblesmith Art: Kano Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.3 Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Exclusive Preview: The Demon: Hell is Earth #6

The Demon: Hell is Earth #6

Written by: Andrew Constant
Pencils by: Bradley Walker
Ink by: Andrew Hennessy
Color by: Chris Sotomayor
Lettering by: Tom Napolitano
Cover by: Andrew Hennessy, Bradley Walker, Chris Sotomayor
Group Editor: Marie Javins
Assistant Editor: Diego Lopez
U.S. Price: $2.99
On Sale Date: April 25, 2018

Humanity is on the ropes! Belial’s plan has almost taken full effect, with the Hell dome rapidly expanding and consuming all of the Earth! With Etrigan, Jason Blood and the rest of the team down, one will have to make the ultimate sacrifice to give humanity a chance to destroy Belial! Is Earth doomed—along with the entire universe—or is there still a chance to save humanity? All is answered in the cataclysmic conclusion to THE DEMON: HELL IS EARTH!

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