Tag Archives: featured

Unboxing: Loot Crate DX March “Primal”

Loot Crate DX is the next level of Loot Crate. Similar to the basic Loot Crate each box follows a theme each month but instead has over $100 value in every crate.

This month’s theme was “Primal” with items from Godzilla, King Kong, Predator, and DC Comics.

We open up to show off the box with some interesting items inside.

You can order the next Loot Crate DX now!

 

 

 

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.

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Review: Gamora #4

Laura Perlman serves up peak Gamora in the latest issue of her namesake comic. Things come to a head in this issue of the arc, we are treated to all manner of chaos and action as the Ubilex gets more and more unstable with interactions and the environment itself. Gamora finds a family of sorts and the princess finds her own way but, as expected nothing is as it seems. Perlman goes deep into Gamora’s back story, explores her motivations and, weaves an amazing tale of not only Gamora but all of the main characters occupying her storyline.

If the story itself wasn’t enough to get you hooked, Marco Checcetto delivers some beautiful artwork that is stylized and pop art like, which goes well with the futuristic, otherworldly story that Perlman is telling. Andres Mossa gives Checcetto’s artwork the perfect color palette to convey the bleakness of the Ubilex’s fate and the dire straits of the people inhabiting the planet. The lines are solid and the muted colors add a richness that syncs up well with the sad story being told.

Perlman gives Gamora agency and puts her front and center in her story, showing her weakness & strength and, the way that she interacts with those around her. The story showcases how everything is connected and how every decision has consequences. There are no wasted words or panels and you can foresee the path that is coming through all of the chaos and you find yourself waiting with baited breath to see how it all shakes out. The arc is getting close to reaching its completion and you can see that the moments that will define the hero that Gamora will become are coming.

Overall, Gamora #4 is a solid character story but, it’s not all exposition and character development. There’s a whole lot of action going on and, a sense of realness and urgency. All of the central characters that have appeared in the previous 3 issues make an appearance, alliances are made and destroyed and, there’s a very strong reason to check out the next issue. Perlman tells a compelling story filled with genuine nuance and feeling causing any reader, fan or newcomer to the series, to get caught up in the balanced chaos. The looming destruction of Ubilex provides the perfect parallel and backdrop to the story being told and everything comes together with perfect symmetry making this issue more than worth a read.

Story: Laura Perlman Art: Marco Checcetto Color: Andres Mossa
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.2 Overall: 9.1 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Interview: Mike Carey, Rori!, and Robin Furth of Femme Magnifique

After interviewing Shelly Bond, Brian Miller, and Kristy Miller about the big picture aspects of the Femme Magnifique Kickstarter, I had the opportunity to talk with several of the anthology’s creators about the specifics of their stories. I chatted with writer Mike Carey, writer/artist Rori!, and writer Robin Furth via email about their comics featuring Rosalind Franklin, Shirley Chisholm, and Ursula K. Le Guin respectively.

Mike Carey is a British comic book writer and novelist, who is best known for his work on Vertigo’s Lucifer, Unwritten, and Hellblazer, which he wrote for 40 issues taking over from Brian Azzarello. Carey has also written Marvel comics, like X-Men Legacy and Ultimate Fantastic Four, and a film adaptation of his novel The Girl with All the Gifts starring Gemma Arterton was recently released in February 2017.

Rosalind Franklin

Carey is writing a story about the British chemist Rosalind Franklin, who was involved in the discovery of the DNA double helix. James Watson and Francis Crick received the Nobel Prize after her death in 1958 and were “informed by some of Franklin’s work which they had obtained without her permission”. He says that Franklin’s life “illustrates very poignantly how the scientific establishment of that time was saturated with institutional biases and unacknowledged power politics” and basically “operated like a boys’ club”. Carey and Eugenia Komaki’s Femme Magnifique comic will “present a vignette from this sad story – and reflect on the Nobel Prize’s history in the process.”

Carey is collaborating on the comic with Eugenia Koumaki (Womanthology) with whom he says he has never worked with before. He “met her at a comics convention in Athens… and admired her art-especially her wonderful figure work”, which he describes as “simple, but immensively expressive”. Carey was also her sponsor when Koumaki applied for DC Comics’ New Talent Program.

The next creator I talked to was the writer/artist Rori! She is the creator of the autobiographical, slice of life webcomic Tiny Pink Robots, and one of her most recent projects was #100days100women where she drew a portrait of a great woman from history every day and posted it on Twitter. Rori! is co-writing (with her husband Gibston Twist) and drawing a story about Shirley Chisholm, who was the first African-American woman to be elected to Congress in 1968 and be a major party U.S. presidential candidate in 1972.

Graphic Policy: Why did you decide to write and draw about Shirley Chisholm for Femme Magnifique, and how has she inspired you?

Rori!: I think some of it was admiring her personality, she was very caring, but also no-nonsense, she didn’t let people push her around, and she had guts, lots of guts. She didn’t “wait her turn” for opportunities people were trying to keep from her, she confronted that head-on. She was a dynamo! I also loved her politics, she saw and thought deeply about the world around her, about the systems of oppression, and how to disrupt those. She cared so much for the disenfranchised, the voiceless. She was a champion of the people, and in the 1970s, she was well-known as this. That her story has faded is a true shame, you read her speeches and she was so ahead of her time that she was ahead of ours.

GP: What have been some of the challenges and/or reward from doing a comic in an anthology format versus a webcomic, like Tiny Pink Robots?

R!: Well, it’s a delight having a professional editor, for one (and Shelly is amazing!). Which is good, because it’s been a huge challenge to distill Shirley Chisholm’s story into three pages! Of course on a strip-style webcomic, your storyline is generally completely open-ended, especially on an autobiographical one like mine. I like that, though it’s also nice to create something finite. More long-form, story-style comics are my first love (I’m currently working on an adaptation of the Snow Queen). I do enjoy anthologies, though, the opportunity to share a book with other amazing creators is fantastic.

GP: Shirley Chisholm is best known as the first African-American woman to be a major party U.S. presidential candidate. What do you think has to change in the United States for us to have our first female president?

R!: Ah! This took me a bit. Short answer: the Electoral College. Straight-up, Hillary received significantly more votes than her opponent. Millions more, tens of millions of Americans WERE ready for a female president, but the system in place denied that. In many ways, the Electoral College, a relic created by landed white men to placate slave-owning landed white men, is an embodiment of the systems that are made to keep disenfranchised people out of power, and a small, homogeneous minority IN power. Those systems must be recognized, resisted and dismantled so that we see not just the first female president, but the SECOND, and so on, as well as more women and marginalized people in all positions of authority. In addition, we have to continue to work on the hearts and minds of Americans, to dispel bigoted notions. (And that includes ourselves.)

I think there are more Americans that are on their way to accepting diverse leaders, especially when it comes to women and some people of color. (We still have a long way to go as far as different religions, recent immigrants, and trans/non-binary people go among other things.) But it’s not enough to educate toward openness and acceptance. It’s not enough to dismantle the exclusionary systems. We have to do both. That’s what we need. And we need to internalize that getting that milestone of “first” is amazing, but it’s just the beginning. Unless we create a system where the “first” can truly unleash a flood of diversity, they just becomes a token, or trivia, and their influence is diminished. It’s like Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s quote about the Supreme Court having “enough” women when there are nine on it. There’s a lot of history to catch up to; a lot of lost time and talent to make up for.

Finally, I got to interview Robin Furth and discuss about her comic about legendary science fiction and fantasy writer Ursula K. Le Guin that she is doing with artist Devaki Neogi (Skeptics) for Femme Magnifique. Furth was a research assistant for Stephen King and wrote The Dark Tower: A Complete Concordance (2006) that was nominated for a Locus Award for Non-Fiction. As far as comics, she has worked as a co-writer on Marvel’s Dark Tower adaptations, wrote the one-shot Legion of Monsters: Satana, and has been published in anthologies, like Girl ComicsWomanthology, and Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu.

Graphic Policy: How does Ursula LeGuin inspire you, and why did you decide to write about her for Femme Magnifique?

Robin Furth: Ursula Le Guin has been a hero of mine since I read The Wizard of Earthsea when I was thirteen years old. I’d always been an obsessive reader, especially of fantasy (The Chronicles of Narnia were my favorite books when I was a child.), but the profound themes of the Earthsea novels were a revelation. I identified with Ged, the protagonist of the story, and the tale of him summoning a shadow from the netherworld, and then being relentlessly pursued by it, chilled me to the bone.

In the years since that initial reading, I’ve returned to the Earthsea books many times and have sought out all of Le Guin’s other work. In my opinion, Le Guin is one of the finest living American authors.  Few people can pen novels, criticism, and poetry with an equally masterful hand, but Le Guin accomplishes this with fluidity and grace. Many of Le Guin’s books are classed as young adult fiction, but the ideas explored within her novels are very mature. She writes about alienation, the search for self-knowledge, power abuse, inequality, and environmental destruction.

Another reason that Le Guin’s writing is so perfect for Femme Magnifique is that gender is such an important topic in her work. Le Guin was born in 1929, and over the course of her life, she has witnessed tremendous social upheaval, both good and bad. But one of the subjects she returns to over and over is what it means to be a human being, whether male or female. When she published the first Earthsea book in the late 1960s, the women’s movement was just getting underway. The hero of that novel was a magically talented young man from a world where women’s enchantment was considered base. To learn his craft, Ged journeyed to the island of Roke and to the wizard’s school, where the mages were celibate, and women were forbidden from becoming students.  However, in one of the short stories recounted in Tales from Earthsea, we learn that Roke’s original mages were both male and female, and that their powers were equal.  The division of the sexes and repression of women’s magic came later.

The acclaimed novel The Left Hand of Darkness is an even more stunning examination of gender. In that book, the inhabitants of the planet Gethen are androgynous, and only become male or female during the short fertile period of kemmer.  To make matters more intriguing, a Gethenian never knows whether he will play the female or the male role, and so any Gethenian can father a child or become pregnant.

GP: How did your background as Stephen King’s research assistant and the author of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: A Complete Concordance influence your work on Femme Magnifique?

RF: My Dark Tower Concordance has had an indirect but important influence on everything I’ve written since then. It was such an intensive training ground in the art of fiction and world building, and I had the honor of traversing that landscape with Stephen King himself. I learned a tremendous amount. It was because of my work in Mid-World that I became a consultant and a co-writer for Marvel’s Dark Tower comics. (I’m now a consultant for the upcoming Dark Tower film as well.)

Before the Concordance appeared in print, I was publishing mainly poetry.  But when Dark Tower moved to comics, I had the chance to explore another medium I loved. So, I suppose that my Concordance was my way into comics and ultimately into Femme Magnifique.

GP: What role do you think fantasy stories with a diverse cast of characters, like the Earthsea books, play in the sad, xenophobic political reality of 2017?

RF: Le Guin’s vision is unique in its poetry and its breadth, and she constantly makes us question what it means to be human and what it means to be humane. The protagonists of her novels are from many different races, and she constantly examines issues of gender equality (or inequality) and the horrors of power abuse. By writing about alternate societies and cultures, Le Guin creates mirrors in which we can examine our own world with a more critical eye. In The Word for World is Forest, she explores the utter destruction wreaked upon indigenous peoples and natural environments by so-called “advanced” cultures. In The Left Hand of Darkness, she asks what it would be like to live in a world where there is no gender. In the Annals of the Western Shore, she explores the injustice of slavery. Ursula Le Guin makes us think, and that is something we desperately need to do.

GP: And just for fun, what is your favorite Ursula Le Guin novel or short story, and why?

If you’d asked me this question ten years ago I would have said the Earthsea books, but now I must say that it is Le Guin’s vision that I love. If you stranded me on a desert island but gave me a library of Le Guin’s work to keep me company, I’d be happy.

The Femme Magnifique anthology is estimated to be released in September 2017, and you can find more information about it here. You can also follow it on Twitter.

POC-Friendly Comic Book Conventions

(originally posted at theblerdgurl)

I get asked so often about conventions that are run by people of color, or are POC-friendly, that I decided to make this list to keep folks informed. I have either attended one of the cons myself of I know someone who has. I will be updating this list from time to time on my site, so feel free to check it out there as well.  Thanks! Read more

My Mighty Morphin Interview With Jason David Frank

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With the new Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie coming out nationwide today, I thought now would be a good time to write my interview with the most well know of all the Power Rangers Jason David Frank.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason at Rhode Island Comic Con in November. I have been a huge fan of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers since it first aired in August of 1993 and have been a huge fan of Tommy Oliver and the Green Ranger since he made his Power Rangers debut in October of 1993.

Graphic Policy: Thank you for granting me this interview.

Jason David Frank: Thank You

GP: As you are one of my childhood heroes I am incredibly honored to be doing this. I don’t want to spend a whole lot of time talking about the Rangers, because I am sure everyone asks about your time with the Power Rangers, however, you have been doing this for 21 years as a ranger with Super Power Beat Down and Bat in the Sun Productions.

JDF: I think it is a little longer than that, I think 23 years about a year before the show started. Pretty much 23 years

GP: Ok so did you think that back in 1993 that you would still be doing this for 23 years?

JDF: You know man I just look at life as what I look at it today. I like to put as much energy time and focus into your day so you can have a future. Like for me, I don’t look at what tomorrow is going to bring. I look at how much I can do today in order to have a successful tomorrow. Like the most challenging things about the shows (cons) for me is that I try to hold myself in a high standard where I want the last person, thousandth person to come in line and be treated like the first. And that’s something you have to work and strive to be the best you can. So, I think putting 110% energy into the day actually got me a future. You know because I don’t think anyone wants to see me 20 years down the road and I look now and oh my gosh I’m going to be 63 or whatever. But I am happy and blessed to be who I am and what I do and you know I obviously embrace it.

GP: Well that’s awesome and you know, I have to say I follow all your social media’s YouTube channel and everything and I read the comments on you and you are true to form man, and I have to say you care about us and thank you we appreciate that.

JDF: Thank you, I try to uphold to high standards for myself. Only you can set your standards and I believe the fans make me and I really truly believe and I count my blessings, that’s the only way I can get through this stuff. Is that I am making people smile, doing interviews do whatever else that makes people happy and that makes me happy.

GP: That’s great. So now you have this new role for Valiant with Ninjak vs the Valiant Universe. How did this project come about, did they reach out to them or did they reach out to you?

JDF: So, with the new role as Bloodshot for Valiant. They have a series called Ninjak vs the Valiant Universe and it’s produced by Bat in the Sun. And Aaron called one day and said you would be perfect for Bloodshot. I didn’t know much about Bloodshot, so I read every single book and I am actually a big fan of Valiant and a big fan of Bloodshot it’s kind of the independent comic cons you know the independent comic label that like has all these cool superhero characters under it.

GP: Alright, awesome. Now you’re a busy man between My Morphin Life, Bat in the Sun Productions, The Rising Sun Karate School, all the conventions you do. Man, when do you get time for yourself?

JDF: Well don’t forget the My Morphin Vlog I just started.

GP: Yes, and the My Morphin Vlog (on YouTube)

JDF: I have to balance it a little bit. I really enjoy what I am doing. So, I mean it’s an outlet for me, so obviously, I am working all the time, but it’s like for me it’s an outlet. Like you know it’s a healthy outlet for me. Instead of doing other stuff, I don’t drink I don’t do all that stuff so there are a lot of unhealthy outlets out there, and I kinda just keep this as an outlet. So, the more you see me, the healthier I am I guess.

GP: OK, alright that is always good. Lastly, and to be honest with you I don’t know too much about it myself, but the one thing a lot of fans don’t know about is Jesus Didn’t Tap. So, what is it about and why is it so important to you?

JDF: Jesus Didn’t Tap, Jesus didn’t give up, you know Jesus didn’t just quit on us.  Like, you know he got crucified for all of his sins for us. And I am a believer in a relationship with God and Jesus and I don’t push that or force that on anyone. I think that’s what people appreciate about me is that I feel that people have their own rights to what they believe in and stuff. But I just have a personal relationship God and I’ll testify that I am blessed. As you can see today (I have) the biggest line out of everyone the most loyal fans because people want to be, you know, you can just feel it, you can feel the love I have. And I try every time I come in here, I try to be like my Pastor, I have a Pastor Keenan, when I shake his hand he never makes you feel like he’s in a rush. He gives you eye contact, he makes you feel love and that’s the only way to get through this. Is that I have to think of my Pastor. When someone comes up I shake their hand, give them a hug, look them in their eyes and I think a lot of people don’t do that. So, Jesus Didn’t Tap to me is important, because it means that he never quit, never gave up for us to actually be here on Earth

GP: That’s awesome man, that’s awesome! That’s all I got for you man. Thank you so much for your time

JDF: I appreciate it, buddy.

GP: It’s been a pleasure and definitely an experience I will always remember, thank you.


I waited in line for 3 hours just to shake his hand and speak with him and I can attest that everything Jason David Frank said in our interview is 100% accurate. He cares deeply for his fans and he really is humble about it and even when he is in between fans he is entertaining the crowd waiting for him. It was really amazing to see. I would like to sincerely thank Jason and his team for being amazing people. If you haven’t had the opportunity to meet him at a convention and you are a fan of the Power Rangers or Bloodshot for that matter, then I would highly suggest you do. You will not be disappointed.

Exclusive Preview: Clean Room #17

Clean Room #17

Written by: Gail Simone
Art by: Walter Geovani
Cover by: Jenny Frison
U.S. Price: $3.99
On Sale Date: March 29, 2017

The barrier between the known world and what lurks beneath crumbles as the Entities’ true malevolence is unleashed on the world, and the moment Astrid Mueller has been preparing for comes with a wave of fire from above. The death that reaches for you may be coming from the mirror!

Unboxing: Loot Crate’s March 2017 Box “Primal”

Loot Crate‘s March 2017 release has arrived and here’s what you can find inside. The theme for this month is “Primal” so check out what’s inside including items from Jurassic World, Predator, Overwatch, and Logan.

There’s a decent amount of items in the box and some cool properties, but how do they stack up?! Find out!

You can get your Loot Crate now!

 

 

Loot Crate provided a FREE box 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.

Review: Bloodshot Reborn #0

brs0.jpgPerhaps the most important issue in Jeff Lemire’s continuing Bloodshot epic. Don’t miss this very special story…as we unveil a shocking new revelation in the Bloodshot saga. The next chapter of Bloodshot starts here!

This zero issue of Bloodshot Reborn serves as a bridge between Bloodshot USA and the next chapter in the Bloodshot saga, Bloodshot Salvation which makes it pretty essential reading for fans of the character as it sets the direction for what comes next for our favorite red-eyed killing machine. But as much as the issue sets the scene for Bloodshot’s future, it also serves as a fantastic epilogue to the previously mentioned series, tying a bow on a couple of plot points left somewhat unresolved from that miniseries.

There’s a multitude of reasons for you to pick this up – whether you’re a new or returning reader looking for a jumping on point, or you’re already invested in the series, then you’ll find a solid comic book here. It’s not great, and honestly, it suffers a little from serving as the bridge between two series. After reading the issue it doesn’t feel like the comic has anything new to say – and yet what it does say, and this is almost contrary to my last sentence, it is said in a very complete manner.

Although there’s nothing here that fans won’t be expecting, especially if you’re aware of the premise of the upcoming Bloodshot upcoming Bloodshot Salvation series, it’s still a very good comic.

It’s just not required reading if you’re already invested in the series.

Story: Jeff Lemire Art: Renato Guedes
Story: 7.75 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Read

Valiant provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Creators Corner: Running a Successful Kickstarter Part 1: Getting Started

A product with no backer…yet

Congratulations! You–like me–are the proud producer of independent content, either because you didn’t produce something that interested Big Pubs, you’re too new as a producer of content (and need experience before you can get experience), or because you could get big publishers’ interest but prefer having complete creative control instead of having an editor murder your darlings, as they say.

And, by the way, no judgement on whatever your reasons are for producing independent content: in my case, my self-published comic Rebirth of the Gangster sparked some interest from publishers but not enough to get them interested in backing my project, partly because I was so new. In fact, if I’d trimmed Rebirth of the Gangster from a proposed 500ish page series to a 150ish page graphic novel, Dark Horse would’ve been interested. Because I have a day job (teaching, sometimes teaching comics in the classroom, as I’ve written about), I refused to neuter my story that way. My influences refused to compromise, so dammit, why would I? So, again, no judgement, because–like me–you probably have many reasons for entering the self-publishing game.

I’ll say it again: congratulations! But you still have a long way to go to get your product made and distributed on a larger level.

Now that you’ve decided to rely on yourself to publish this content, you need to figure out how to finance the whole thing, how to crowdfund something to get it out to an even bigger crowd. Having run a successful Kickstarter campaign myself a little under a year ago, I know the stresses of this process, along with the joys when someone donates even $1 to your cause. Throughout that journey, I had a lot of hills and valleys, but I learned a lot and could avoid some of those deep depressions if I were to run another Kickstarter.

And maybe more importantly, by sharing my reflections on that journey, I can help you create a Kickstarter that’s even more successful than mine was. After all, I was so successful, because I relied on the advice of others, so it only seems fair to pay it forward, a style of thinking heavily encouraged by all crowdfunding sites.

cropped kickstarter successful project graph

Research

And that advice of others was the first place I started. Because as any writer will tell you, research is the fun part of the job and the real reason we do this! In all seriousness, though, it’s indispensable, even if it’s occasionally boring. The first step in research was to look at Kickstarter’s requirements, including what is not OK to post on the site or offer as rewards (like a % stake of the profits on your projects–Kickstarter isn’t Wall Street people). One of the most important things to look at, though, are Kickstarter’s fees, both their general fee and their payment processing fee. Don’t ask me how those two things are separate, or why they don’t bundle them together, because I’m a writer, not a mathematician darnit! However, even if you don’t understand the logic behind some of these fees, you need to take them into account. Otherwise, you might set a goal without considering those fees, have the Kickstarter tax man come and skim a little off the top, and be left with not enough money to publish your comic, produce your movie, record songs, etc… Here’s a quick breakdown of how fees affected my total earnings once the campaign was complete.

cropped kickstarter fees and made money

cropped kickstarter suggestions for rewards

The next step in your research: sift through the many campaigns to look at the successful ones, especially focusing on the most successful ones. You want to mine 24 karat gold, not 2 karat gold. Yeah, they’re both gold, but one is definitely going to attract more eyes. When looking at other campaigns, I looked at

  • How a campaign presented the project, the creator(s), costs in a transparent way, and the timeline. Trust and sympathy are key in Kickstarter campaigns, so if they don’t find a hook to latch onto your product, if they don’t like you, if they don’t know how you’re going to use their money, or if they don’t see an end date in sight for this project, they’ll do the Kickstarter equivalent of swiping left.
  • How a campaign used a video to present their product in a clear, concise and engaging way. We live in a visual culture, so if you don’t have a strong video, many people won’t even read your gold standard writing mentioned in the first bullet point.
  • Most popular rewards, along with the best breakdown of reward price (How many rewards should you have? How much do you jump prices between rewards? How many limited offer rewards do you have?)
  • How others advertised their Kickstarter. One of the best pieces of advice: build a fanbase before running your campaign. I had about 500 Twitter followers, along with support of family and friends, which was a good start, but if I could go back in time, I’d focus a little more on connecting with fans earlier and finding fans earlier.

Congrats again!  You’ve finished the research, and now you just have to create your campaign, cajole others into supporting it, create the thing, and deliver those rewards!  That should be a breeze, right?  Well, don’t worry, because I’ll cover those steps in upcoming segments.

Daniel Kibblesmith and Derek Charm talk the comiXology original Valiant High

At New York Comic Con last year, comiXology announced a line of original digital comics from various publishers and featuring various genres. One collaboration was Valiant High, a new take on Valiant Entertainment‘s impressive line of characters.

Valiant High is a hilarious reimagining of Valiant’s award-winning superhero universe by writer Daniel Kibblesmith and artist Derek! Before they became the world’s most formidable heroes, they were roaming the halls at a super-powered preparatory academy where Aric “X-O Manowar” Dacia is a record-setting running back, Colin “Ninjak” King is a debonair foreign exchange student, and Coach Bloodshot is way too into dodgeball! Now… Faith “Zephyr” Herbert is about to discover it all for the first time as the newest girl in school!

The first issue was an original fun take on the characters and second issue out this week! We got a chance to talk to Daniel Kibblesmith and Derek Charm about the series and some of its influences.

Graphic Policy: How did you come on board Valiant High?

Daniel Kibblesmith: I had done some miscellaneous work for Valiant, mostly humor shorts in anthology issues, like the amazing Unity #25. Then-Valiant editor Tom Brennan sent me an e-mail asking if I’d be interested in pitching on a “teen soap opera,” without yet revealing what the idea was. It turns out Valiant and comiXology had both been circling the idea of doing Valiant High, and were looking for people to pitch on the concept.

Derek Charm: I was actually initially just brought on to do character designs and help visualize what High School versions of the Valiant heroes might look like. Originally I wasn’t sure I’d be able to draw the book, since I’ve already got a monthly deadline with Jughead, but the designs and back and forth process was so much fun it became something I really wanted to make time for.

GP: How much of it was fleshed out at that point as far as the characters and world?

DK: They had a few preliminary suggestions, all of which I ended up keeping, I think — Harada as the Principal, obviously. Bloodshot as the shouty dodgeball-obsessed gym coach. I also got to see some of Derek’s designs early enough in the process that I could get inspired by the choices he was making, and it helped me flesh out the backstories of characters like Ninjak, or Gilad, based on their look and attitude.

DC: I was sent Daniel’s original pitch document, but was left pretty much on my own to come up with everyone’s looks and how their super suits might transfer to something more casual while still retaining something of their iconic elements. I went back and forth a lot with Daniel and the editors to make sure every character was close to what they were envisioning.

GP: A thing that sticks out to me is that the characters are reduced to their basic self and they really fit the archetypes of teen high school movies. That wasn’t something I really thought about before reading this. Was that something that you noticed before this?

DK: Not until it was part of my job to think of the Valiant cast in terms of archetypes, and then map those archetypes onto OTHER archetypes of high school stories. But that was definitely the goal, same as any alternate universe story, to boil them down into their core character, so you could drop them in a new setting and it would still feel like “them.” Then the fun of it was seeing how all the jigsaw puzzle pieces fit together, like making the armored XO Manowar an “armored” football star, or figuring out Dr. Mirage would be a science teacher and not one of the students, hence being a “Dr.”

GP: The comic really plays for comedy, not just in the story, but the art as well. It could have easily been a teenage drama. Was there thought about approaching it as a drama?

DK: The key phrase for me was always “soap opera” — which means a variety of tones and feelings are in play. I think the most satisfying stories play a variety of notes, and obviously, I love writing the jokes. But I wanted all the emotions to feel real, and the stakes to seem as high as they are when you’re that age. Plus, I tried to put at least one fight in every issue, because at the end of the day, these are still Valiant superheroes. I think the premise is so inherently heightened that it has to be on the baseline of comedy, but I hope it’ll dredge up people’s actual teen angst as well.

DC: It’s pretty light for the most part, but there are definitely some dramatic and action-oriented moments that come up later on in the story that were a lot of fun to draw.

GP: It being a digital series, how does that impact you as a writer and artist. Is there any difference than a physical comic?

DK: I’m new enough to scripting comics in general that I don’t play with the medium too much, but I definitely had a few rules in mind for a digital-exclusive release. For one thing, there’s no double-page spreads, just single-page splashes. Part of that was needing the real estate for telling a story with so many characters, but I was also aware that it affects my reading experience when I have to turn the device sideways and adjust to new dimensions.

DC: It was something we talked about. For the most part, I’m treating them as regular comic pages, but definitely keeping comiXology’s Guided View in mind as I go.

GP: Have either of you thought about taking advantage of some of the things you can do with digital like panel flow?

DK: I didn’t write in anything in particular, but as a commuter, I was really excited to read it in Guided View on my phone for the first time.

DC: For sure, I’ve found jokes work really well with the Guided View pacing. There’s a lot of repeated panels and held expressions that underline punchlines when you can’t see what’s coming. It’s like every panel is a page-turn.

GP: Were there any Valiant characters you wanted to include but didn’t get a chance to?

DK: It’s such a huge cast that a few got cut for time, or were reduced to background extras. I don’t want to reveal who, because I’d love to do a follow-up where we get to expand the world a little. For now, we packed in as many heroes as we could fit, and there’s still more coming in the next few issues that haven’t been revealed yet. Stay tuned.

GP: Do you have any favorite teen movies or stories? Any influence this series?

DK: My major influences were other High School Alternate Universes, of course, like the X-Men: Evolution cartoon show, or the weird, self-contained world that is the Avengers Academy App. Other big ones, oddly enough, were Power Rangers, or even Saved By The Bell, in the way they had such a limited cast of characters outside of the heroes and kept the action more or less confined to one location. I came to it late, but Archie and The Riverdale universe was obviously an influence. The big difference being that for our first glimpse of Valiant High, it felt early to expand the world to include the kids’ parents, pets, bedrooms, etc. But the biggest influence, and not-at-all high school related, was Marvel’s 1602, which is another AU that turns everyone into archetypes and then looks for the way they click in another time and place (in this case, the Elizabethan era).

DC: Daria and Strangers With Candy are probably my top High School-comedy influences, not just for this series but for everything. A lot of accidental Daria References worked their way in to this series.

GP: What other projects do you have up this year?

DK: Reading everything drawn by Derek. And some things not yet confirmed, so the best way to keep up would be to follow me on Twitter at @Kibblesmith. And watch The Late Show With Stephen Colbert at 11:35 ET on CBS (after your local news).

DC: I’m still on Jughead through the rest of Ryan North’s run, and then the beginning of the next one with the new team. It’s been fun jumping between the sci-fi/super hero aspects of Valiant High and the more down to earth world of Riverdale.

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