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Ian McGinty Discusses Welcome to Showside

Welcome to Showside CoverFollowing his stint as artist on the Bravest Warriors comic book, Ian McGinty will publish his creator owned debut as a writer/artist with Z2 Comics. Welcome to Showside is an all-ages series featuring the adventures of Kit, a lovable kid with a monstrous secret: his dad is the Great Shadow King and he wants Kit to take over the family business of destroying the world. Out October 28, orders close on August 20 and you can us diamond order code AUG151857 for issue one and SEP151765 for issue two.

We got a chance to talk to Ian about the series, it’s influences, and a certain pilot.

Graphic Policy: Where did the idea for Welcome to Showside come from?

Ian McGinty: For two years or so, I had been “playing with the big kids,” so to speak, working on popular licensed properties in various mediums. Comics and books for Adventure Time, Steven Universe, Hello Kitty, you get the idea… and in my spare time just trying to survive the constant onslaught of life. I wanted to have my own series and my own characters, and to give people some fun stories and comics they could really enjoy and maybe grow to love, but it’s way easier to say that than to do it and I continued to plug away, happy, but constantly hungry to get something out there.

I finally got a three-day break, and I spent that time, ha, drawing. I don’t get much time to doodle original stuff, most of my time had been working on set characters so I could avoid using style guides and spin, say, Catbug from Bravest Warriors, into something that at least vaguely has my stamp on it. But I had a choice: I could play video games all three days which was super tempting (I had finally gotten my hands on The Last of Us), or I could draw. After some serious deliberation, I sat down and drew some monsters, as usual, and this little fish looking dude stood out to me. He was standing in line with all these other huge scary monsters, waiting to get “checked in” to this portal that would take them to the real world. Basically this was proto-Kit, the main protagonist of Welcome to Showside.

I forgot about him for 5 months.

6 months later, Josh Frankel (founder of Zip Comics, which would become Z2, whom I had met at San Diego Comic Con 2013 thanks to Allison Strejlau, then series artist for the Regular Show comic), hit me up and asked if I had anything to pitch. I, and he is gonna kill me when he reads this, literally made something up on the spot. I happened to be scrolling through images and hit on that drawing of Kit and that’s when I started spinning things off the top of my head about this monster kid, his friends, the world, the themes, etc. It all came eerily fast and natural to me, which I took as a good sign.

From there things just happened super fast and, after a year, here we are! I can’t wait for people to read Welcome to Showside!

Ian McGintyGP: For your first creator owned series, why did you do an all-ages comic?

IM: All-ages comics, to me, take the most risks and have the most loyal, amazing fans. It isn’t every person who would pick up a brand new series not starring a well known superhero or team, but time and time again I’m floored by the supportive community of fans who pick up all-ages stuff. These are the kids, the teenagers, the adults, who get their entire family into a series and grow up with you and genuinely love your work. And, ironically, all-ages comics have the most diversity and take the most chances with introducing new concepts and characters, believing that the audience will be open to anything. All-ages means for everybody. I couldn’t have my very first creator owned series be exclusive to anyone, especially when the characters have grown so very close to my heart. I want everyone to enjoy Welcome to Showside, and that’s why all-ages comics mean so much to me, and why I chose to go that route with the comic.

GP: How long have you been working on the series?

IM: The concept took a year to mold and shape into what it was, and Welcome to Showside went through a lot of evolutions. Kit, originally, was this skinny, older sort of Shaggy from Scooby Doo looking guy, but over time got younger and cuter and more fun and finally become the Kit he is today. Moon and Belle came easier, as I love kick-ass women (I was raised by many) and I wanted to create my own pair of rockin’, fightin’ girls who can hold their own against crazy demons and monsters, no problem.

Welcome to Showside was going to be a graphic novel, but Z2 felt the property was strong enough to become a series, and I thought that was just so rad. Daunting, but rad. As I’ve continued to work on it, I’ve realized that, wow, these characters just have so much potential and I’m excited to explore every aspect of the world they live in.

GP: You’ve worked on a lot of licensed comics, what’s the difference between working on those and doing your own thing?

IM: Aesthetically, nothing. I try to adhere to the same standards of deadlines, style guides and fairly strict “rules” that have applied to varying degrees on the licensed comics, book, video games, animated shows, etc. I’ve worked on. I enjoy doing licensed stuff, thankfully, it’s sort of a challenge to me and I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to test myself a lot.

These are the guidelines I inflict on myself, mind you, I love seeing other artists interpretations of my characters and world (for example, Carey Pietsch’s backup story in issue #1 is SO amazing). And that’s really the big difference between working on other people’s properties compared to my own. I have a degree of control since I’m doing literally everything, concept, design, drawing, writing, all that, which is also extremely intimidating BUT really freakin’ awesome. Not many artists get the opportunity to completely head their own series and handpick artists to do covers and backups, but Z2 has put an incredible amount of trust in me and it’s something that’s allowed me to really try and be unique and stand out, hopefully.

GP: What were some of the influences for Welcome to Showside? It feels so original, but really familiar at the same time.

IM: I’m a huge Hellboy fan, and the pitch for Welcome to Showside has always been “Hellboy meets Steven Universe,” another series I enjoy. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to make horror, the comics I really read a lot, accessible to an all-ages crowd. It ain’t easy, but I think the comic has managed to hit this area between horror and all-ages content, something I’m actually very proud of. There aren’t many comics in that realm. It’s also an issue of trusting your audience. I think kids are capable of handling and understanding much more than we give them credit for, and I wanted Welcome to Showside to have scary elements instead of being ALL rainbows and bubblegum. So I think the familiarity is from taking what I know about successful all-ages licensed properties, like Adventure Time or Bravest Warriors, and combining it with elements from horror comics like Hellboy and Alien and all that cool stuff.

GP: There’s lots of diversity in the characters, how important was that to you when creating the series?

IM: Extremely. But it wasn’t something I set out to do. I did not go into the comic saying, “Hm, okay I need a gay character and an African-American character and this and that.” People are not baseball cards. Welcome to Showside’s diversity came naturally; the characters are the people I meet every day and interact with. They are people who EXIST where I live and where I’ve traveled. I took the best and worst elements of my friends and put them on paper and i hope reader love my friends as much as I do.

GP: There’s also a pilot for this that you voice a character along with Henry Rollins. Where does the series stand right now?

IM: Right now we are completing the animation for the pilot episode of Welcome to Showside, which should be out towards the end of September. It’s been amazing seeing the weird stuff from my head put on screen and animated, and I have to say it does look really good and is super fun. Henry Rollins absolutely killed it on his part, he IS Frank the Giant Flaming Skull Demon, and I like to think I did Kit justice.

GP: How’d the pilot come about?

IM: Z2’s confidence in the elasticity of the property is what made it happen. One day, Josh and Sridhar Reddy (also Z2 and Modern Prometheus) asked me how I would feel about making an animated pilot for a series, and I was definitely into it. It was a pretty straight forward thing and I was amazed at the confidence place in me to not only design the world and characters, but to direct the cast, including Henry Rollins, and to voice Kit. We all went to Los Angeles and recorded everyone and I’ve been working with the animators to get this thing looking as great as possible and I am not disappointed in any regard. Thankfully, we’ve had interest in the pilot for a series and I’m just so proud of the team behind Welcome to Showside.

GP: How much of the series do you have planned out?

IM: As it stands, I have the first season planned out. I’m also acting as showrunner right now, and I like to think my ideas and concepts for the show are good, but it’s my confidence in the team of people involved that really highlight the animation. I enjoy working with other artists and writers and all that, I love the input. I love the arguments. I love the laughing and the fighting and just having a lot of people involved in something I created on any level. It’s amazing.

GP: What else do you have on tap this year?

IM: I’m the series lead on Boom Studios’ Munchkin comic book line right now, and I’m designing a brand new set of Munchkin cards for SJ Games with my own art. I also just did an Adventure Time FLUXX card set coming out this month, and I have my own graphic novel with Top Shelf, CHOMP!, releasing soon. I just completed a Steven Universe music activity book from Penguin/Random House that will be out soon, and I’m designing some concept stuff for an independent video game. I’m all over the place right now and I couldn’t be happier, but the thing I’m most excited about is Welcome to Showside, for sure. I think people will like it, maybe love it, and I hope I can do justice to all-ages comics.

GP: Thanks Ian! Check out the cover and a preview of the series below.

There’s also an exclusive cover by Erin Hunting of the first issue for Books a Million, which you can preoder now.

Showside BAM exclusive Erin Hunting 1

Z2 Comics Announces Fall Graphic Novels including Ashes, Pawn Shop, The Abaddon, and Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland

ASHESZ2 Comics announced today their fall 2015 graphic novel slate, including a reprint of one of Harvey Pekar’s final graphic novels and three graphic novels. The biggest surprise of the bunch is a new printing of Pekar’s Cleveland, one of his last graphic novels, and a love letter to his home town. It was originally published by Top Shelf in April 2012.

Check out below for the full slate of graphic novels being released.

Ashes: A Firefighter’s Tale written by Mario Candelaria with art by Karl Slominski.

(September 22, 2015; $19.99; 120 pages; black and white)

Matt always had an easygoing life. Girls liked him, his friends were more like family, and being a firefighter came naturally. Then the accident happened. Now, after the loss of his leg, Matt struggles to cope with his new handicap as he attempts to rebuild his shattered family and once budding career. A riveting tale about perseverance, hard work, and overcoming the odds, Ashes is a gripping tale told in stunning black and white.

PAWN SHOPPawn Shop written by Joey Esposito with art by Sean Von Gorman

(September 22, 2015; $19.99; 120 pages; full color)

A widower. A nurse. A punk. A Long Island Railroad employee. New York City is an ecosystem where everybody is connected, if only by the streets they walk on. This original graphic novel is the story of four people, in a city of eight million, whose lives unknowingly intersect through a Manhattan pawn shop.

Written by Joey Esposito (Footprints) and illustrated with a gorgeous mixture of watercolor and digital elements by Sean Von Gorman (Toe Tag Riot), Pawn Shop explores the big things that separate us and the little moments that inexplicably unite us.

The Abaddon written and illustrated by Koren Shadmi

(November 10, 2015; $24.99; 240 pages; full color)

cover_updatedLoosely based on Jean-Paul Sartre’s play No Exit, The Abaddon is the story of a young man who finds himself trapped in a bizarre apartment with a group of ill-matched roommates. He discovers that his new home doesn’t adhere to any rational laws of nature and comes to realize that everyone living in the apartment is missing crucial parts of their memories and identities.

Cleveland by Harvey Pekar and Joseph Remnant

(November DATE TK; Price TK; 128; black and white)

A lifelong resident of Cleveland, Ohio, Harvey Pekar (1939-2010) pioneered autobiographical comics, mining the mundane for magic since 1976 in his critically acclaimed series American Splendor. Legendary comic book writer Harvey Pekar’s collaboration with artist Joseph Remnant, titled Cleveland, was originally published by Top Shelf Shelf Comics and Zip Comics in 2012 and includes an introduction by Alan Moore. The book presents key moments and characters from the city’s history, intertwined with Harvey’s own ups and downs, as relayed to us by Our Man and meticulously researched and rendered by artist Joseph Remnant. At once a history of Cleveland and a portrait of Harvey, it’s a tribute to the ordinary greatness of both.

Z2 Comics Announces New Creator Owned Line

z2logoblueZ2 Comics, the boutique graphic novel publisher, announced today a new line of creator owned periodical comic books. The New York-based company will launch its periodical line in the fall of 2015 with three dynamic titles: the first creator owned comic book by Bravest Warriors comic book artist Ian McGinty, an international adventure caper by Paul Pope’s protege Chris Hunt, and the comic book debut by Last Week Tonight with John Oliver writer Will Tracy and co-writer Gabe Koplowitz. All Z2 Comics standard periodicals will be 32 pages and priced at $3.99; they will be distributed at comic book stores nationwide via Diamond and will be available digitally via ComiXology.

Welcome to Showside

by Ian McGinty
October, 2015

Following his stint as artist on the BRAVEST WARRIORS comic book, Ian McGinty will publish his creator owned debut as a writer/artist with Z2 Comics. WELCOME TO SHOWSIDE features the adventures of Kit, a lovable kid with a monstrous secret: his dad is the Great Shadow King and he wants Kit to take over the family business of destroying the world.


by Chris Hunt
November, 2015

After an absence of five years, globe trotting and notorious gentleman of fortune Francis Carver returns to Paris in 1923. He has come back to aid Catherine Ayers, the wife of a wealthy Parisian socialite and the only woman he has ever loved. Her daughter has been kidnapped by the leader of a crazed anarchist gang, a man named Stacker Lee. In order to bring the girl home, Francis will have to crawl through the underbelly of the city while confronting the demons of his past, before being faced with a final choice: succumb to the man he has become, or take that mask off and be the hero he always wanted to be.

Allen: Son of Hellcock

by Will Tracy, Gabe Koplowitz, Miguel Porto
December, 2015

Allen is cowardly, directionless, and less physically menacing than a daffodil. He’s also the only son of the mightiest hero ever to plunge his sword hilt-deep into the dark heart of evil… the mighty HELLCOCK! Enjoy the ride as Allen is thrust sword-first into a not-so-classic fantasy quest that, frankly, he would rather just sit out. ALLEN: SON OF HELLCOCK is the comic book debut of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver writer Will Tracy, co-writer Gabe Koplowitz and artist Miguel Porto.


Interview: Miss Lasko-Gross Discusses Henni

HenniWith Henni, Miss Lasko-Gross has put together a graphic novel that’s both beautiful to read, and timely. In a fantastical world where old traditions and religion dominate every aspect of life, lives a girl named Henni. Unlike most in her village, Henni questions and wonders what the world is like as she comes of age. Striking out on her own, Henni goes out in search of truth, adventure, and more! Henni is a commentary on, religion, coming of age, and being yourself.

The graphic novel struck me as not afraid to dive in to discuss faith and rebellion. Gross has created a thought-provoking graphic novel with a wide appeal acting as a coming of age story, as well as one that’ll challenge your beliefs.

We got a chance to talk to her about the graphic novel, religion, and experiences as a woman in the comic industry.

Graphic Policy: How would you describe Henni?

Miss Laslow-Gross: I would say it’s primarily an adventure story but in a fractured fairy tale like Alice in Wonderland. It’s about a young girl who is too curious for her own good and is cast out of the world in exile. I should have a better elevator pitch.

GP: I have trouble really nailing what type of genre it is. It fits so many.

MLG: Some one described it as Post modern fantasy. I think you invented the genre

GP: What’s the graphic novel’s influences?

MLG: Alice in Wonderland and Maurice Sendak is what I’d compare it to. But the books and movies I read don’t really show in the product I create. Sendak, I read it when I was little, so it had an influence. I like anything that you can come back to, and that’s what I try to create. A graphic novel takes years to create, so I’d liek for that to happen.

For Henni in particular, any kind of adventure story. I grew up on Greek mythology, anything with a person on a journey and how they deal with obstacles. The idea that around a corner could be anything appealed to me. When you have a naive character, the prospect of anything is exciting.

GP: How did the graphic novel come about and get published by Z2?

MLG: It started as a side project. I was working on a dark and serious graphic novel that I was 50 pages in to about a friend that was injured in an explosion. It was heavy. I started doing a story on the side for comixology that was proto-Henni. I was making it up as I went along and amusing myself. I wanted to do something that I’d like to read. Something that wasn’t boring, I wanted ll fun, all adventure. The idea kept expanding until there was enough story for three books. I know the full journey, the full story. Then it became my main project. It became the thing that was enjoyable. Graphic novels take so long to create, so if you’re not enjoying it, it makes no sense to continue

I had been with Fantagraphics, and it was a great relationship, Z2 is a young company and a boutique publisher, and I thought it was a good fit. An exciting new adventure for an exciting new adventure.

GP: How long were you working on the graphic novel?

MLG: Because I started, and it was a different project, I had to redraw earlier parts of the book. I started it about 4 years ago, but in that 4 years, I’m done with nearly two books. So I guess a couple for the first book, and a couple for the second book.

GP: The graphic novel talks about religion and a patriarchal society, what drove you to take on those two subjects?

MLG: I think it wasn’t a conscious choice. I think it’s just, when you’re talking about the world, and making a commentary on reality, that was a natural topic of discussion. When you look at fundamentalist society, Henni is a collection of fundamentalist villages in a religion that’s unforgiving and unreasonable, you think of what that’d be like, to keep control over a group, the laws and rules would be restrictive and that usually affects women. The last thing I want this to be seen as is a didactic work, I’m not trying to teach a lesson.

GP: It also doesn’t have some simple solution or ending, and is pretty open. Was it a Sorpanos ending in you wanted the reader to interpret what happened?

MLG: I didn’t see that, I didn’t want to screw the audience, but I heard. If there is ambiguity and openness about the end, I’m not playing with anyone. She makes her choice, without spoilers, she makes a choice which isn’t the only logical choice. The reader has information she doesn’t. She makes the only correct choice for her, what will keep her alive, though she doesn’t know that. You can interpret if its right or wrong or foolhardy endeavor. I don’t think it’s so open to be aggravating, if you read the first book you won’t be cheated.

There’ll be a second volume, but it’ll be a while, and a third that’s long stretch in the future.

GP: You started making zines as a teenager, what got you into creating comics?

MLG: I think I loved to read them so much, I was always an artist, it was the next step. I wanted to create things, like the things I love. The first works I did were derivative, rip offs of things I loved, but that was part of the process. I started doing strips in elementary school. 1992-93 is when I consider I was doing professional work. I was creating comics in high school and distributing it locally and to zines, and putting work out there that I enjoyed.

GP: Where you a comics fan before hand?

MLG: I think so. I didn’t have a way of getting them regularly. I would get them from an older cousin, so I got old Fantastic Four. I’d get them on my own if I was in a shop with comics. I’d load up with a big stack that’d last a long time, and read them to they were shreds.

My local shop became Comicopia, and I’d put everything on hold when it came out, and then save up the allowance and birthday money. I always loved them. But, I don’t remember reading them in Kindergarten or first grade.

GP: What did you read?

MLG: Of superheroes, Fantastic Four, I liked the characters. Most superheroes didn’t speak to me. I had an affinity for Ben Grimm. When I got older, anything counter-culture, subversive. I read a lot of English comics, Tank Girl. There was a British humor magazine called Viz. Anything I felt I wasn’t supposed to have. Akira was a big early book. And then it was over after I read Love & Rockets. That series is perfection, still. That’s what comics are supposed to be like.

GP: When I think of comics in the 90s, I don’t really remember it being the most welcoming to women. How has that changed over the years?

MLG: Well… anecdotally… I’ve never gone into a shop and made to feel like I don’t know what I’m talking about. I found people supportive of what I was doing. I wasn’t doing samples for Marvel or DC, because I had a realistic sense of that not being an outlet, and instead focused on where I’d be receptive.

I personally don’t feel that way, but I’ve heard enough stories, to realize it’s an issue. I was lucky and always found a place that was always accepting to me. I felt very welcomed by the comic world.

Of the shows I went to, I went to SDCC in ’96 and felt it was too commercial, I started going to SPX in the 90s and always found it welcoming. SPX is about the art, not the corporate tie-in. It’s very independent level.

GP: Henni has a female lead, and there seems to be more comics with female leads hitting shelves now. What do you think is driving that?

MLG: I think it depends on the company and the publisher. If you’re talking about corporate comics, they might have just realized half the readership is female and they’re tired about the testosterone tropes. For indie, they’ve been telling the stories they have been, and it’s finally being noticed.

GP: What else do you have on tap that folks can check out?

MLG: I’d recommend folks can go to comiXology with two graphic novels and compilation book. My first two books, Fantagraphics offers digitally. Through Dyclops I put out a collection of short stories from the past 20 years. From 1994-2014. It’s not for kids though, it’s the raw, raunchy, stuff I did earlier. Definitely not all ages.


Around the Tubes

The weekend is almost here and I’ll be spending it at the Small Press Expo which takes place in Rockville, Maryland just outside of Washington DC. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend it.

Around the Tubes

Gizmodo – The Only Thing These Superman Coins Will Rescue Is Canada’s Economy – Want…. eh?

Calgary Herald – New musical explores comic code – Interesting.

CBLDF – Tokyo Olympics Emboldens Censors – Boooo!

The Beat – Z2 Comics relaunches with Pope and Haspiel – Congrats!


Around the Tubes Reviews

Comic Vine – Action Comics #23.2

Kotaku – Cyborg 009

Comic Vine – Deadpool #16

Comic Vine – Earth 2 #15.2

Talking Comics – Ghosted #3

Comic Vine – Green Lantern #23.2

Comic Vine – Indestructible Hulk #13

Comic Vine – Infinity: The Hunt #1

Comic Vine  – Justice League #23.2

CBR – Justice League #23.2

Comic Vine – Liberator #3

The Beat – Liberator #3

Comic Vine – The Manhattan Projects #14

Talking Comics – Mighty Avengers #1

ICv2 – Orchid Vol. 3 TP

Comic Vine – Red Sonja #3

Comic Vine – Uncanny X-Force #11

Comic Vine – X-Men #5