Tag Archives: shelly bond

Around the Tubes

House of X #5

It’s new comic book day tomorrow! What’s everyone excited for? what do you plan on getting? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Newsarama – Shelly Bond’s Black Crown Imprint at IDW Closes – From the chatter we’ve heard, this isn’t surprising.

The Beat – A Year of Free Comics: A new psychic and a pumpkinhead team up in Webtoons’ thriller Third Shift Society – Free comics!

Reviews

The Beat – The Avant Guard Vol. 1
Talking Comics –
House of X #5
Comic Attack –
Spider-Man #1
The Beat –
The Way of the Househusband

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.

 

Black Crown Announces Two New Series Euthanauts and House Amok

The Ruling Class of creator-driven titles continues its reign this summer as Shelly Bond’s band of miscreants continues to grow in numbers and talent. The Editor of Black Crown has set her sights on the imprint’s next two series and they are as original as the first wave of titles currently out in the wild.

Writer Tini Howard is taking no prisoners with her current run on Assassinistas (with artist Gilbert Hernandez) and will be diving into the great beyond with Euthanauts, her second Black Crown title. She’ll be joined by artist Nick Robles to answer the ultimate question: What happens to us after we die?

Two women aim to find out in this series which combines classically intrepid explorers with our anxieties about death and the beyond — with psychonautic mindspaces to match. The first arc will kick off this July.

As if that weren’t enough to entice you, Black Crown dares invites you to enter House Amok. From the creative powerhouse team of Christopher Sebela and Shawn McManus, this 5-issue miniseries is equal parts bloody reality, dark conspiracy, and magical fantasy. Delve into a character-driven study of a damaged nuclear family as we follow twin sisters in a claustrophobic, high-speed American road trip from Portland to the east coast.

 

Review: Punks Not Dead #1

Swap out rock stars or punk gods or whatever honorific name we’re calling long dead, yet still revered musicians these days with superheroes, and you’ve got Punks Not Dead #1. Writer David Barnett and artist Martin Simmonds steep the story in the occult and espionage more so than punching and heat vision so fans of British pop culture icons (The highly overrated) Harry Potter and James Bond might find something to love in the new release from Shelly Bond’s Black Crown imprint.

Punks Not Dead is Ultimate Spider-Man only ruder and with more safety pins and leather jackets. The protagonist, Fergie, comes off as your typical white male everyman YA character with a perverse 2018 twist that he and his mom make their money by having fake arguments on the British equivalent of Maury Povich and Jerry Springer’s daytime shows, which gets them splashed all over the tabloids. In reality, Fergie is a thoughtful, withdrawn teen, who wants to know who is dad is. His fairly flat personality is just waiting to filled by the ghost Sid Vicious, who is a kind of archetype for punk rock itself and gets all the funny lines beginning when he plays a kind of supernatural corner man to Fergie in the beginning in the comic as he fights a school bully, Peter Parker vs Flash Thompson style. Simmonds colors Sid in jet black, and he is a shock of life to Fergie’s mundane meets modern reality star life. His most pivotal role in Punks Not Dead #1 is providing comic relief and playing music critic to Fergie’s mom’s record collection, but he also is an inspirational figure and is kind of sort of a Ghostbusters antagonist.

Technically, Simmonds’ art isn’t bad. He draws detailed character likenesses and makes strong storytelling decisions like zooming into Fergie’s face when he’s about to get popped by a bully or playing with panel layout angles when Fergie begins to realize that he’s talking to a ghost. However, his art is more early-1990s John Bolton Vertigo polished than dirty rotten punk rock with the exception of a red tinged flashback to a Sex Pistols gig in Preston, UK. The presentation is more 2018 remaster than raw live tracks. There could be story reasons for this as some say the Sex Pistols weren’t real punks, but a ruder, cruder boy band with Malcolm McLaren acting as a predecessor to Lou Pearlman. But, from what I’ve gathered from Punks Not Dead #1 (Especially the Barnett penned backmatter.), the book is about punk as an attitude and isn’t a thesis on authenticity or the genre or anything. It’s about the spirit of the movement, not the letter of the movement. There’s no quiz at the end: enjoy the ride and a big helping of underdog hero comfort food.

With this in mind, Punks Not Dead is a fairly funny mashup of the slice of life, urban fantasy, and espionage genres. I know I mentioned James Bond earlier, but the book is more like Ghostbusters with a drier British sense of humor and the paranormal bits playing backing bad to Fergie, this book’s real star and whose thoughts and fears are broadcast loudly through David Barnett’s narration. Martin Simmonds’ art is a bit too pretty for a punk book, but he joins the ranks of comic book artists who prove that painted art can work in both sequentials and covers.

Yeah, Punks Not Dead #1 is yet another white boy Hero’s Journey story, but David Barnett and Martin Simmond’s sense of humor, (obvious) punk sensibilities, and paranormal investigation/espionage elements spice up the usual recipe and make it a dish worth sampling even if you’re more of a post punk listener like me.

Story: David Barnett Art: Martin Simmonds
Story: 8.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

IDW/Black Crown provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Femme Magnifique Gets a New Print Through IDW’s Black Crown

Femme Magnifique, the wildly successful Kickstarter comic book anthology, is headed back to print for a beautiful softcover edition this September. It is a celebration of 50 iconic women who shattered glass ceilings and changed the course of history in the process.

Told by over 100 of the most talented creators in comics from around the world, Femme Magnifique features 3-page short stories about women from the world of music, art, politics, and science. Explored from a personal angle, the subjects of these mini-biopics include Kate BushOctavia ButlerRumiko TakahashiAda LovelaceMisty CopelandMargaret SangerMichelle ObamaUrsula K. Le GuinSally RideHarriet Tubman and more!

Femme Magnifique was conceived and co-curated by Shelly Bond and Kristy Miller & Brian Miller of Hi-Fi Colour Design. It features contributions from such comic book luminaries as Cecil Castellucci, Marguerite BennettBill SienkiewiczJen BartelMike CareyKelly Sue DeConnickTini HowardElsa CharretierTess FowlerRafael AlbuquerqueTee FranklinGilbert HernandezMing DoyleMatt WagnerJim RuggGail SimoneMags VisaggioMarguerite SauvageGerard WayPhilip BondHope NicholsonSanford GreeneSonny LiewJen HickmanMark BuckinghamPeter GrossTyler CrookDan Parent, and Kieron Gillen, among many others.

Maxing out at nearly $100,000 raised for the Kickstarter edition, earning over 240% of its initial goal, Femme Magnifique found its audience swiftly. Now, those who missed out on the first go-round can add this collection to their library packed with new bonus material including a foreword, behind-the-scenes process pages, and more.

The new paperback edition of Femme Magnifique will become available on September 4, 2018 and can now be pre-ordered using ISBN: 978-1684053209

IDW Publishing Announces More Black Crown Series

Situated at the cross street of Great Yarn and Canon, the Black Crown Pub anchors a peculiar street where characters commingle and corrupt. As previously announced by IDW Publishing, legendary editor Shelly Bond has opened up shop at the publisher and is hurtling towards the launch of her creator-owned imprint, Black Crown. Peter Milligan and Tess Fowler, whose Kid Lobotomy will be Black Crown’s debut title in October, now welcome some rambunctious new residents to the neighborhood.

Come December, writer Tini Howard and Gilbert Hernandez will combine their talents on a 6-issue miniseries with more attitude than you can shake a sword or a game controller at in Assassinistas. Octavia is an ex-hitwoman who comes out of retirement to pay for her son’s college tuition — and, with any luck, rescue the kidnapped child of one of her former bounty-hunting partners. Octavia recruits her reluctant son Dominic and his boyfriend Taylor to become the next generation of Assassinistas.

Then in January, the British invasion is back in full force with Punks Not Dead, co-created by novelist David Barnett and artist Martin Simmonds. Fergie is a lonely, bullied teenager raised by a single mom who unexpectedly finds himself in search of the dad he never knew.  But Fergie won’t be traveling alone.  For some reason a strange branch of MI5 is hot on Fergie’s trail. Could it be the ghost of Sex Pistol Sid Vicious who becomes Fergie’s ethereal companion and unlikely father figure? Bound to Fergie for reasons unknown, is Sid in search of redemption himself or out to prove that punk is alive and well 40 years later?

Right on the heels of Kid Lobotomy is the Black Crown Quarterly, a 48-page compendium of all things comics, culture, and cool. It features a wraparound cover and a regular 10-page lead story set in the Black Crown Pub by Rob Davis. Other features include a two-sided pull-out poster with a view of the street and Frank Quitely‘s Kid Lobotomy #1 B-cover, music connections via CUD: Rich and Strange and Swell Maps, Canonball Comics, an exquisite corpse, and much more.

Black Crown Reveals its Debut Titles and Creators

Earlier this month, Shelly Bond made headlines when she announced Black Crown, her new creator-owned imprint during IDW’s ECCC panel. She’s back at it again, this time at WonderCon, with juicy details to divulge about how Black Crown is taking shape, and she’s invited Peter Milligan and Tess Fowler to headline the imprint’s debut.

Milligan and Fowler will team on Kid Lobotomy, which will not only kick off Black Crown in face-melting fashion, but also set the tone of the buzz-worthy and hotly anticipated new line (no pressure, guys)!

Kid, as he’s affectionately referred to, is the youngest descendant of a strange, overbearing hotelier. While he sports rock star good looks, Kid Lobotomy has more in common with Hannibal than Morrissey in his prime. Unsuspecting hotel guests who check in to “The Suites” are in danger of losing more than their luggage. Living up to his name, Kid has shed a few brain cells in his day, which naturally makes him qualified to perform a lobotomy or two. And why let those brain bits go to waste when he can use them to help — or unwittingly harm — his subjects? Ultimately, Kid hopes to restore some of his sanity. But can he survive the truth about his cursed lineage and face what runs rampant throughout the torturous hotel hallways? Simply put, you’ve never read anything like this.

Kid Lobotomy is a sub-cranial gothic scream of obsession, love, and the perennial dream of an upgrade to the executive suite and will be extensively previewed at July’s Comic-Con International and launch in October 2017.

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.

Shelly Bond, Kristy Miller, and Brian Miller talk Femme Magnifique

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Femme Magnifique is a recent  successful Kickstarter campaign that raised $97,447 to publish an anthology of comics about inspirational women from history and the contemporary world. The Kickstarter was run by Kristy Miller, the VP of Development at Hi-Fi Colour Design; Brian Miller, a comic book colorist and the founder of Hi-Fi Colour Design; and Shelly Bond, the former executive editor at Vertigo and the current editor of the Black Crown imprint at IDW. Hi-Fi has colored many bestselling comic books, like Harley Quinn, Batman: The Dark Knight, and various Doctor Who comics for Titan ,and Bond has been the editor or assistant editor on such comics classics as SandmanLucifer, Fables, and iZombie.

A couple big reasons for Femme Magnifique’s appeal as a KickStarter is the all-star lineup of comic book creators, like Marguerite Bennett, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Gerard Way, Kieron Gillen, Annie Wu, Mags Visaggio, and many more. There is also the variety of women featured in the book from historical figures, like Harriet Tubman, Ada Lovelace, and Hatshepsut to more modern women, like Broad City‘s Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, Michelle Obama, and Bjork. Actors, musicians, scientists, politicians, writers, astronauts, and even cartoonists are represented in the pages of Femme Magnifique. A few I personally am looking forward to are Gail Simone and Marguerite Sauvage‘s Kate Bush story, Gerard Way and Marley Zarcone‘s (Shade the Changing Girl) Joan of Arc comic, Chynna Clugston Flores‘ (Blue Monday) story about Rumiko Takahashi, the creator of the manga Inuyasha, and Tini Howard (Skeptics) and Ming Doyle‘s comic about the Beat poet and artist Diane di Prima.

I had the opportunity to chat with Kristy MillerBrian Miller, and Shelly Bond via email about the inspiration for the Femme Magnifique Kickstarter, switching from creating fiction to non-fiction comics, the role of the anthology in the current American political climate, and most of all, about the amazing women whose stories will be told in this anthology.

First, I asked Shelly Bond about the inception of the Femme Magnifique project.

Shelly Bond: The idea for Femme Magnifique was simmering for a while, but crystallized in early November thanks to two quite disparate events that occurred back-to-back.

Of course, the first one is obvious: discovering the outcome of the US presidential election.  I had just returned from a convention in the U.K. We sleep with the TV on so while I was enjoying (?) a fitful slumber I was rudely awaken from my jet-lagged haze by what I thought was a Black Mirror version of the news. I couldn’t believe my eyes or ears. Clearly, it was a devastating, missed opportunity for women.

The second event occurred on the following night.  I had a ticket to finally see Roisin Murphy, my favorite female frontwoman, perform live — at LA’s legendary El Rey Theatre no less. There’s no magic quite like a seeing a singer/performance artist whose lyrics are clever and insightful, replete with poetry and bombast. Bowie would have applauded her seamless, onstage costume changes, with resplendent masks that would look at home on a  Dave McKean comic-book cover. The show was at once mesmerizing, decadent, discordant — but it was the crush of the enraptured dance crowd that ultimately sold me on bringing Femme Magnifique to life: A group of people coming together in art and appreciation.

I couldn’t wait to put out a call-to-arms within the comic book community, to turn the onslaught of anger about the Trump election results into positivity. So, we could become a fortress of knowledge. And change.

The following day I reached out to fellow comics pros Brian and Kristy Miller of Hi-Fi Colour Design, and we agreed to put our skills to good use and turn this social and political firecracker into Femme Magnifique, which is nothing but a celebration of women. Dreamers, achievers, glass ceiling crackers, fearless innovators of our history.

Next, I asked Kristy Miller and Brian Miller several questions about the role they played in Femme Magnifique.

Graphic Policy: How did you all get involved in the Femme Magnifique Kickstarter, and what day to day role do you play in the project?

Brian Miller: The election result came as a shock. I didn’t know what it would mean for my friends in the LGBT community and for women’s rights, but like many I was concerned. Frustration and anger weren’t the answer, and I was wondering how I could use my talents to effect change in a positive way. When Kristy and I spoke with Shelly, we knew Femme Magnifique could be the voice of positivity for women, who are feeling threatened or oppressed by the incoming administration.

In addition to coloring some of the stories in Femme Magnifique, I’m also helping with the layout and design of the book and much of the behind the scenes work on the Kickstarter campaign. When you are crowdfunding a graphic novel anthology, like Femme Magnifique, the Kickstarter campaign can become a second full time job. I’m so thankful for the fans and contributing creators who have helped get the message out about the campaign. If it were not for their tweets, Facebook posts, and helping to keep Femme Magnifique at the forefront, I don’t think we would be as far along as we are today. It’s been thrilling to see the outpouring of support so far.

Kristy Miller: Shelly was the driving force of starting this project.  She came to Brian and me with the idea, and we immediately jumped on board.

I joke that my role is the voice of reason. Shelly and Brian are visionaries and artists, who want to do as much as they possibly can creatively.  I want to know how much is it going to cost, what are the deadlines, is that even possible? I am handling the back-end business aspects and things like contracts, money, trafficking the art etc.  The not-so-glamourous-but-keep-eveything-in-order side of things.

GP: Why should comic book fans pick up Femme Magnifique, and what can they expect from the book?

BM:I hope many comic books fans will take a look at Femme Magnifique. There are incredible stories in the book written and drawn by fan favorite creators. I believe if you enjoy Michael and Laura Allred on Batman ’66 and Art Ops, you will love their story about Jane Fonda in Femme Magnifique. Fan favorite writers, like Kelly Sue DeConnick, Alisa Kwitney, Matt Wagner, Gerard Way, and others, are each contributing unique stories about women, who inspired their lives and enhanced their journeys.

Anyone who is a fan of Gail Simone’s writing for Red Sonja, Deadpool, and Batgirl will be delighted with her story about Kate Bush in the book.  Bringing the visuals to these stories is a roster of artists including Brian Stelfreeze, Marley Zarcone, Tess Fowler, Elsa Charretier, and Sanford Greene just to name a few. There are so many talented creators contributing to this graphic novel anthology, and I believe all comic book fans will be thrilled to own a copy.

GP: Kristy, how did your background as an archaeologist and anthropologist inform your work on Femme Magnifique?

KM: I have taught a variety of college classes on women in history and women in other cultures. I am always amazed when my students have never heard of women I think of as household names. Women, like Hatshepsut (Egyptian Pharaoh,) Pauline Cushman (American Civil War spy), and Margaret Mead (Cultural anthropologist), should be role models for everyone, yet many have not heard of them.

I ask my students to compile a list of their favorite/most inspirational woman in politics, music, science, history, the women’s movement, their family etc. There are a lot of blank lists. Why can you think of 20 men in those roles, but are hard-pressed to think of one woman?  I am also a PhD candidate in Education, and I created the Teacher’s Packet reward level for the Kickstarter. I will be writing curriculum based on Femme Magnifique that can be used in a variety of classes and for a variety of ages.

Femme Magnifique will showcase women as the role models they have always been. Hopefully, we will share the lives of some women that you may not have known about before. Not only are we spreading the stories of these women, but we are also sharing the medium of comics. Comics can be a hard sell, not fine art, not literature, but in Femme Magnifique, we will show you that comics are indeed both.

GP: Brian, how did your background as a comic book colorist inform your work on Femme Magnifique?

BM: Shelly, Kristy, and I all agreed color should be an important aspect of Femme Magnifique. Part of that meant inviting a handful of other colorists to join Hi-Fi on this project. While Hi-Fi is comprised of female and male flatters and colorists, we wanted to be inclusive and bring in some talented people who we had not had the opportunity to work with one-on-one previously. I’m proud to say colorists Tamra Bonvillain, Kelly Fitzpatrick, and Rick Taylor will be joining Femme Magnifique along with Hi-Fi to color these inspiring stories based on real women.

When it comes to coloring the individual stories, our goal is always to serve the story the writer has crafted and complement the artwork. In my mind, the color should never distract from the story or overwhelm the art. When we get it right, the color is good, but also subtle. It doesn’t shout unless needed, for a special moment in the story, or perhaps an effect like a flashback. I also believe it will be key for each story to have a color palette that suits the subject of the story and the time period. The color choices for the story of Brenda Starr creator Dale Messick set in the 1940s will be unique when compared with the color selections for Joan of Arc. When the book is complete, the stories should flow from one to another naturally, without shocking the reader, yet each have their own distinct flavor. This is the challenge we attempt to answer when coloring a large graphic novel anthology like Femme Magnifique.

GP: For the most part, Hi-Fi Colour Design works on superhero comics. What have been some of the challenges and rewards of switching from telling the stories of masked heroes and Timelords to depicting real people?

BM: Hi-Fi has been fortunate to color a variety of super-hero, independent, and alternative comics over the years. We love coloring the Justice League, The Flash, or Spider-Man, just as much as we enjoy working on Doctor Who, The X-Files, and G.I. Joe. At the end of the day, our focus is on great visual storytelling, and being able to apply those storytelling skills to stories based on real people is incredibly rewarding.

SallyRide

As an example, while I was reading Cecil Castellucci’s script for “The Right Stuff”, featuring real-life astronaut Sally Ride, I was inspired to research more about NASA’s space shuttle missions than I ever knew before. Artist Philip Bond shared information about various women astronauts and the different space suits they wore in flight. This motivated me to dive deeper and look through hundreds of reference photos to see the colors and materials used in the space suits and read more about women astronauts. All of this information informs the storytelling in the colors for the story. It also allows me to better complement the words written by Cecil and the artwork drawn by Philip. Plus I discovered more about space exploration than I knew before.

This sense of discovery and being inspired to learn more about the amazing women in Femme Magnifique is one of the reasons I enjoy this graphic novel anthology so much. Coloring one story changed my life and inspired me to get outside my comfort zone and learn something new. I can only imagine how I’ll feel after I’ve colored 20 or more of these stories.

GP: Since Femme Magnifique is all about shining a light on inspirational women, what are some women that have personally inspired you in your own lives?

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An example of Adrienne Roy’s colors.

BM: I did not grow up with very many strong female role models in my life, but fortunately I have met many in the comic book industry, who have inspired me and and led by example. First is comic book colorist Adrienne Roy, who passed away in 2010. Her coloring work inspired me as a child and continues to influence me to this day. Her use of warm and cool colors for visual storytelling remains the gold standard for all colorists.

Cartoonist Paige Braddock inspires me with her strength and vision. She works in a corporate environment by day and creates amazing comics like Jane’s World and Stinky Cecil after hours. She’s a true role model for our industry. I had the pleasure to work with writer Gail Simone on Birds of Prey for several years at DC, and she set the bar for putting female heroes at the forefront in comic books. She showed readers the characters could be strong, smart, and sexy without being sexualized. Gail broke down barriers and opened a lot of doors in the industry. Readers and creators owe her a debt of gratitude for dragging the comic book industry kicking and screaming into this century.

Shelly Bond is more than a super-editor, she is a visionary. When you look back on her body of work, you see brilliance at every turn. I’m so grateful she has shared this with me on projects like Bite Club, My Faith in Frankie, American Virgin, and New Romancer. Read one of these stories, and you will understand how she sees the world, why she makes the creative decisions she makes, and why she keeps pushing for greatness and never stops. When you see the big name comic creators associated with Femme Magnifique, that’s all Shelly. She doesn’t have to convince, cajole, or beg anyone to be here creating this graphic novel anthology… We all want to do this, we all want to work with her again and again!

This list would not be complete without including my partner in Hi-Fi, and in life, Kristy Miller. She commands respect in our industry. Everyone in the industry wants to work with Hi-Fi because they know, with Kristy in charge, their comic will exceed expectations and meet the deadline.

KM: I’m lucky to have had many strong women in my life.  My grandmother was a librarian and my mother was a teacher, both went to college and always told me I could be anything and do anything I wanted in life.  I knew at an early age I wanted to be an archaeologist, but most people didn’t even know what that meant.  The only role models they could come up with were Indiana Jones, and that guy who found King Tut.  When I went to college, one of my advisors told me I should probably switch majors to history or mythology so I could stay home and maybe teach.  That just made me try harder to become an archaeologist. I was on my first dig in the Middle East by age 22.  There were a few mentions of women in my textbooks, but nothing substantial.

I will never forget, in 1994, a book came out called Women in Archaeology. It covered women working in various parts of the world and even the pitfalls of being a female archaeologist.  I read that book cover to cover and wondered why no one ever told me about these women before. I want Femme Magnifique to be a book that girls and women can turn to and say , “See, I can do that.” or even better find that their career path isn’t mentioned in one of our stories but still be inspired enough by other women to know she can make it on her own.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this interview featuring some of the creators of Femme Magnifique!

Listen to Shelly Bond Discuss Femme Magnifique on Demand

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

Comic-book stories celebrate women who crack ceilings, take names, and change the game. That’s Femme Magnifique, the comic anthology that salutes 30 female trailblazers of yesterday and today currently being Kickstarted featuring a who’s who of comic creators. That’s at least 30 stories from over 50 creators.

From astronauts and abolitionists to computer coders and crack journalists, these fearless women have paved the way for equal rights in science, politics and the arts. What better way to celebrate their achievements than in Femme Magnifique, a book that can live on in teenage bedrooms, corporate boardrooms and libraries around the world?

Joining Graphic Policy Radio to discuss this comic project is the legendary Shelly Bond who will be editing the stories featured.

Shelly Bond has been driven to edit, crush deadlines and innovate since 1988. To date she has edited 950+ comic books and graphic novels by international superstars and novices. One of the most respected and admired editors among her peers, Bond previously served as VP-Executive Editor of DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint. She wields red pens and tap shoes with equal aplomb.

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