Archive for the Trade Paperback Category

The PNP Crew Q&A Series, #11: IGGY MICHNIACKI

The PNP Crew Q&A Series, #11: IGGY MICHNIACKI

13483198_745872652182514_8084690759386400589_oOK, so we’re calling the mad Q&A series a wrap (for now), and what better way than to book-end it with a chat with Iggy Michniacki — the brains (and mayhaps brawn!) behind Project-Nerd and PNP, as well as upcoming comic Billie?

[BTW, if you missed #1 with PNP’s Galo Gutierrez you can check that out here, the one with Matt Kyme here, #3 with Graeme Jackson hereAndrez Bergen was #4 here, Ben Gilboa @ #5, Chris Yarbrough, #7 with Bryan Timmins, Brett Jones, Paul Bedford, and lastly Zack Rezendes @ #10.]

 

Who are you?

I am the founder and CEO of Project-Nerd Publishing, along with being a creator and writer.

How did you think up Project-Nerd Publishing?

I have had a dream to make comics since I was 10 years old, so once Project-Nerd had established enough of a reputation and enough partnerships in the community I thought it was time to chase that dream. But I wanted to take some awesome folks on the ride with me.

Why are indie comics so damned important?

I, therefore Project-Nerd, live and breathe by the indie model. In all aspects of it, Project-Nerd is an independent brand; an outsider infiltrating a community of geek blogs being bought up by big corporations. I love reading things from those that get to create and own, it gives the projects more of a sense of passion.

Slide-5DC, Marvel, Image, Dynamite, Dark Horse, all of these — or something else?

I enjoy any publisher, especially smaller and indie ones. It’s not a matter of the publisher name on it, it’s a matter of what’s a great read with some strong art.

What style/genre of comics do you prefer to read?

I prefer anything really, and that’s why there is such variety at Project-Nerd Publishing. I am happy to sit down to a superhero story, or take on a dark, slow paced thriller, or even read a family-friendly book with the kids.

Who is your all-time favorite comic book character — and how did he/she/it achieve this status?

Clearly it’s Batman. As much as superhero comics aren’t my first target when scoping out books, Batman is not only what I grew up on — but he was different than anybody else. Not to mention the cast of villains in Gotham are truly unmatched giving Batman stories more depth.

What are your creative plans for the future?

I just finished writing my first comic book, Billie. Billie takes place back in what some call the Wild, Wild West and follows a woman who lost her family at a young age and was trained by her neighbor to handle her own. Now she’s chasing down the gangs that took her family out. It’s set to debut in September.

1001585_466231273503351_490877967_nIf Netflix or the Syfy channel made a TV series of your latest comic book, which actors would you cast in the key roles?

This one’s fun. But you’ll have to wait until a future ‘Casting Call’ article over on Project-Nerd for me to divulge those answers.

The future of comic books — what’s really going to happen in this industry?

Even though the industry can struggle at times we need to remember that entertainment industries don’t die. Even during the Great Depression people flocked to theatres to see movies and escape life. Comics, like other forms of entertainment, offer us an escape when we need it and an adventure when things are going good.

The PNP Crew Q&A Series, #9: PAUL BEDFORD

The PNP Crew Q&A Series, #9: PAUL BEDFORD

Untitled1Let’s start our wrap of the PNP creators with our latest inductee: Paul Bedford, a name famous around comic book traps around Melbourne and the rest of Australia, for his suave personality as much as the madness that is The List.

[BTW, if you missed #1 with PNP’s Galo Gutierrez you can check that out here, the one with Matt Kyme here, #3 with Graeme Jackson hereAndrez Bergen was #4 here, Ben Gilboa @ #5, Chris Yarbrough, and #7 with Bryan Timmins, and most recently Brett Jones.]

 

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hi! I’m Paul, your friendly neighbourhood psych-horror writer… from Australia. It’s nice to meet you. Mind if I borrow your brain? Why? Well, I’d like to mess with it a little. How? OK, it’s your brain, so I guess you deserve to know. You see, I wrote a 200 page (very) graphic novel called The List (pencilled by Henry Pop and inked by Tom Bonin). It was my first foray into this medium, and has done OK for itself, winning a loyal following of sickos and receiving nice words from critics from all across the globe, as well as having its international film rights optioned. I never expected it to be the next Star Wars, but I’m very happy with the reception it has had.

What’s that, you say? What’s it about? OK, you asked: it’s the tale of a young man, The Son, who tattoos a list of words down his torso, claiming them to be the New Commandments given to him by an Angel in exchange for the life of his mother. He then stalks the streets seeking to fulfil each of the commandments (slicing them off as he does so) and subsequently plunging his city into a state of terror.

Along the way he visits some people from his past who weren’t so pleasant to him, is guided by his dead parents, and speaks with the Angel who chose him for this quest. However, the execution of the story is not so straight forward as it may sound. It comes to you in the form of a waking nightmare; it is surreal and heavy with menace and dread. It taps into your shadow and makes you want to stop reading while compelling you to see more.

And then it will hit you with a revelation throws you back through the story to leave you, like the multitudes of readers before you, questioning the veracity of all you just experienced. Aside from The List, I have written a few minis (life-observation stuff), and contributed stories spanning a variety of genres to several anthologies. When not writing, I’m a warehouse manager, proud dad to a maniac son, loving hubbie and dog owner (the stupidly spoilt Noodle Mcdoodle). Oh, and I’m stupidly addicted to Total War Warhammer.

Untitled2How did you become involved with Project-Nerd Publishing?

I was previously with a publisher that collapsed, falling right onto its underbelly. Galo of Project-Nerd, who is a fan of The List, saw this, and was good enough to welcome me into the PNP family. I am most glad and proud to be here among a passionate and talented bunch. I look forward my book’s particular brand of insanity corrupting many more minds.

Why are indie comics so damned important?

More so than most commercial works, indie comics are unrestricted by corporate mandate, and thus, their stories are free to contain content that challenges us. Being challenged by story is its most vital role.

Who are your favourite three comic book artists, and why?

Bobby N (an Aussie writer/artist): Oxygen. Powerful, subtle, amazing observation on individuality vs. conformity. Shook me to the core. James O’Barr: my primary influence. Those who read The List will see its tip of the hat to The Crow; more with regards to the art and atmosphere than premise. The Crow is such a dark and personal story. Such rage and heartbreak. Incredible. Darren Close: Another Aussie writer/artist who produced one of my favourite comics of all time last year, Struggle — which was, amazingly, a 24-hour comic. A confronting, heart-wrenching, brutally honest account of one man’s battle with his personal demons who, in this telling, take on the form of his creation, Killeroo.

DC, Marvel, Image, Dynamite, Dark Horse, all of these — or something else?

Hmm. Can’t say I have brand loyalty. Never really thought of a publisher I prefer. I tend to go for the story. I will, however, take note of a publisher who is willing to take a risk with the stories they will release.

What style/genre of comics do you prefer to read?

Personal stories. I don’t mind if it is wrapped up in spectacle and plays before a grand backdrop, it just has to be personal; the plot must serve the character’s journey. Get me with your character’s plight, and I’m in.

In terms of your creativity, which styles/genres do you prefer to work with?

I write across a range of genres, and often they are mixed. Going firstly with my main work The List — when I was writing it, despite it having a few spooky moments, it didn’t feel like a horror to me; it felt incredibly personal, though it did bring up so much stuff that I would often feel nauseous while writing it. It was only when people started labelling it as psych-horror that I decided I’d go with it for the sake of convenience. Aside from that, I have written philosophical gear, fantasy, straight drama, and comedy. Of all genres, I’d say that fantasy it the one I enjoy writing most. Because I’m a great big f**king nerd.

13450792_10154248224376449_6531988040936640643_nWhat are your creative plans for the future — what can we expect from you?

In April of this year [2016] Henry, Tom and I were proud to release the first book of The List 2. It’s been great to see the response to it and already be receiving positive feedback. It’s also confirmation that people enjoyed The List. The sequel explores different themes to the first and ultimately reveals the true nature of the story.

The future of comic books — what’s really going to happen in this industry?

I can only see it getting bigger. With publishers and creators learning how to exploit the internet to get their work out there (and make it more readily available), more and more comic to movie adaptations, and geek/pop culture exploding and being accepted with no sign of slowing up, the future looks very good indeed for the medium. To support my contention, you should go and buy The List right now.

The PNP Crew Q&A Series, #5: BEN GILBOA

The PNP Crew Q&A Series, #5: BEN GILBOA

Our next cross-examination is with Israeli writer/artist Ben Gilboa, the man behind the Blue Moon graphic novel via PNP.

[BTW, if you missed #1 with PNP’s Galo Gutierrez you can check that out here, the one with Matt Kyme here, #3 with Graeme Jackson here, and Andrez Bergen was #4 here]

 

CP-BLM-1Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Ben Gilboa. I live in Tel Aviv, Israel. During the day I work in graphic design, while at night I draw comics.

I’ve been writing and drawing comics for the majority of my life, but I’ve started working on serious work (long-form graphic novels and such) in the past 3 years. Blue Moon is my first full-length graphic novel.

How did you become involved with Project-Nerd Publishing?

After completing Blue Moon, I started reaching out to comics sites and blogs, trying to get some feedback and exposure. I submitted it to Project-Nerd for review, and they came back with an offer to publish. Guess they like it!

Why are indie comics so damned important?

Well, I don’t necessarily think indie comics are that damn important in themselves, as much as they can fulfill a vital function for comics lovers. Let’s face it, the vast majority of mainstream comics feature superheroes. The same genre, in literally hundreds of titles.

Reading just one genre can get repetitive, and stale.

So indie comics spice things up. Reads want different stories, different character and genres. And that’s what indie comics bring to the table.

DC, Marvel, Image, Dynamite, Dark Horse, all of these — or something else?

I honestly don’t care that much where something is published. The publishers are just the vehicle for the art, made by the creators. If my favorite writer switches publishers, why would I care?

In terms of your creativity, which styles/genres do you prefer to work with? Why?

I don’t really have a preferred genre to work in, but I do know my limitations as an artist. I’d love to do an action comic, but I just don’t have the drawing chops to pull that off (yet).

So instead I try to aim at my strengths, which means character-based stories, with strong emotional and philosophical overtones. I also tend to favor more genre work, like sci-fi, horror and the like, because it’s comics – I can do literally anything, so why not?

10437680_10153250679162178_6238938492383669897_nWhat are your creative plans for the future — what can we expect from you?

I’m currently working on the biggest project I’ve ever taken. It’s a sci-fi anthology, featuring shorts stories, all taking place in the Free City, an anarcho-capitalist mega-city in a post-apocalyptic far future.

I’m trying to explore the notion of freedom in its many forms, its costs and true meaning. I know, that sounds kind’a heavy, but I think it’s shaping up nicely. I’m at around page 70 out of an estimated 200.

Who’s your favorite non-comic book writer, and why? Which book of his/hers is the best, so far as you’re concerned?

If I had to answer that last year, I would have answered Jonathan Franzen. He’s not a genre guy, but his novels are so real, so layered, I find that a lot of my creative goals is exploring that kind of deep character and psychological work in a genre setting.

However, a few months ago I read A Little Life by Hayna Yanagihara. It’s a beautiful and amazing book, but also one of the most emotionally scarring pieces of art I’ve ever experienced. It shook me to my core, so I feel compelled to acknowledge her next to Franzen. The final answer is currently TBD.

  • Check out Ben’s Blue Moon site here.

 

The PNP Crew Q&A Series, #4: ANDREZ BERGEN

The PNP Crew Q&A Series, #4: ANDREZ BERGEN

TSMG issue 1_COVER ARTRaising the profile of the people we work with — both creators and admin — next cab off the rank is Australian expat writer/artist Andrez Bergen, in Japan. He’s the man behind the Bullet Gal trade collection and Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat via PNP. Bergen also currently works as the writer of Magpie in Australian zine Oi Oi Oi!, did the Trista & Holt series, and is co-scripter on the upcoming Crash Soirée.

[BTW, if you missed #1 with PNP’s Galo Gutierrez you can check that out here, the one with Matt Kyme here, and #3 with Graeme Jackson here.]

 

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Andrez Bergen, from Melbourne (Australia), but based in Tokyo for the past 15 years. I’m a journalist, DJ, author, artist and hack saké connoisseur. I’ve published six novels, wrote and illustrated three graphic novels, and published four comic book series – including Bullet Gal and Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat, which are out in the U.S. via Project-Nerd Publishing.

My fiction and comics have appeared through Crime Factory, Shotgun Honey, Snubnose Press, All Due Respect, Perfect Edge Books, Dirty Rotten Comics, 8th Wonder Press, Alterna Comics, Open Books, Roundfire Fiction, IF? Commix, Project-Nerd, and Another Sky Press.

I occasionally adapt scripts for feature films by the likes of Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell) for Production I.G in Japan, and on the side make music as Little Nobody and Funk Gadget.

BULLET GAL_US_trade comic collection_cover by Graeme JacksonHow did you become involved with Project-Nerd Publishing?

Ahhh, here you can blame Galo Gutierrez, who’s a huge supporter of Australian indie comics. I met him back in 2014 when he supported the Kickstarter for my graphic novel Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat, and we’ve been tight mates since. He introduced me last year to Iggy at PNP, and things have swung beautifully from there.

Why are indie comics so damned important?

A better question might be: Why aren’t they? Independent anything is where the cutting edge in all arts lie, be it music or comics or fashion; whatever. Being indie means you have the space to make your own artistic decisions, to flex muscles heedless of corporate sales needs, and to push the perimetres.

Who are your favorite three comic book artists?

Too hard to limit myself to three… sorry! From the old school, I’m a huge fan of Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, Jim Steranko, Wally Wood, Tarpé Mills, Steve Ditko, Barry Windsor-Smith, Hergé, Francisco Solano López, Stanley Pitt, Joe Kubert, Jean-Claude Forest, Neal Adams, John Buscema, Alex Toth, Akira Hanasaki, and Kazuo Umezu.

In the ’80s I’d opt for Frank Miller, John Byrne, David Lloyd, Jim Starlin, Katsuhiro Otomo and Garry Leach. More recently? David Aja, Steve Epting, Emma Ríos, Sean Phillips, Michael Lark, Gabriel Bá, Sean Gordon Murphy, Butch Guice, Benjamin Dewey, Christian Ward, Mitsuru Adachi, Darwyn Cooke, Fiona Staples and Fábio Moon.

And then there’re the incredible artists I’ve been blessed to work with: Frantz Kantor, Chris Wahl, Stu Campbell (Sutu), Graeme Jackson, Matt Kyme, Gareth Colliton, Marcos Vergara, Dan Watts, Cristian Roux, Tom Tung, and a bunch of others who keep me mesmerized.

Huh. That’s 44 — and only the tip of the sequential iceberg.

TRISTA + HOLT 7_COVERWhat style/genre of comics do you prefer to read?

I’m into anything, so long as it’s well-written and illustrated. I do like my noir, but I’m equally a fan of good fantasy, sci-fi, comedy, gothic horror, and superhero-related stuff.

One moment I’ll immerse myself in baseball manga by Mitsuru Adachi, while leafing separately through a Criminal episide by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips — and re-reading the Captain America run by Brubaker, Steve Epting and Michael Lark. Over food I love dwelling on Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki’s Oishinbo (The Gourmet) series.

In terms of your creativity, which styles/genres do you prefer to work with?

Definitely noir/crime, filtered through a veil of dystopia, when I’m doing the art as well. Otherwise, as writer, I’m up for anything — think superheroes, sci-fi, World War I dogfighting, horror, mirth, samurai, whatever.

What is the most innovative, landmark comic book title (or graphic novel) in history?

I think Matt Kyme nailed it when he mentioned Maus, The Dark Knight Returns, and Watchmen. I’d add other Alan Moore romps V for Vendetta and Miracleman, which meant so much to me and still do. Ditto, Will Eisner’s entire run with The Spirit and Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s initial hundred issues of Fantastic Four.

Frank Miller also pretty much redefined comics for me with his run on Daredevil at the beginning of the 1980s, as did Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira. Ed Brubaker’s work with artists Steve Epting and Michael Lark on the ‘Winter Soldier’ run in Captain America is nothing short of miraculous. More recently, I’d also go with Matt Fraction’s take on Hawkeye — when he was working in tandem with artist David Aja — and I love Darwyn Cooke’s reappraisal of the Parker novels, especially The Hunter.

I’ve changed, I know. As a child I would’ve cited Hergé’s Tintin and the ‘Hook Jaw’ story in 1970s British weekly Action.

Who is your all-time favorite comic book character? How did he/she/it achieve this status?

Picking the greatest comic hero isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially when you’ve grown up with four-color and monochrome feats of derring-do. Worthies like the Batman, Judge Dredd, the Phantom, Wolverine, Captain Haddock and Beast all had their moment in the sunroom of my nostalgia.

Captain America figured more strongly in this personal decision — especially how he was portrayed in the 1960s by (mostly) Jack Kirby and then, briefly, by Jim Steranko, sprouting out words by these artists in collaboration with Stan Lee.

The Captain America they reinvented in the swinging ‘60s swayed me with his personality, not so much his wardrobe. A man displaced, out of his time, looking to fit in — a humble fellow, once weak but now blessed with strength (not too much), who wants to do the right thing but is coming to grips with guilt related to the death of his partner. The world has changed and he doesn’t understand it — reflecting the crisis of confidence in the U.S. at the time. Even though Cap may be old-fashioned, he’s a symbol of hope — for everybody — and maintains that despite all the evil lobbed his way.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Superman never quite rated.

In my novel Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?, central character the Brick also rules out the Kryptonian, probably because I penned his lines: “If Superman falls off of a skyscraper nobody cares, since the bastard’s invulnerable. But if Daredevil takes the same plunge, equal chance he survives or is dead-meat. Human condition, an’ all that.”

Mentioning the Brick also brings me full circle to the Greatest (comic book) Hero I eventually chose.

The Thing, by Dan Watts

The Thing, by Dan Watts

You see, the Brick was heavily influenced by another Kirby/Lee concoction from 55 years ago: The Thing, a.k.a. Benjamin J. Grimm, a former American college football star, test pilot, and founding member of the Fantastic Four in 1961.

This is a superhero who never chose to be one, a pug-ugly slab of rock that lacked the debonair looks of Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne. As my dad would declare (in Aussie spelling), he’s as ugly as a bucketful of arseholes, and is bitter about his transformation — one caused by his best mate Reed Richards’ over-zealous rocket ship mission and the cosmic rays that infiltrated their craft.

This man knows he’s been altered into an orange gargoyle and over the course of the next decade Grimm struggles with inner demons — but that’s just the icing on the melodramatic Danish. Even more important are his physical metamorphosis, under Jack Kirby’s increasingly assured hand, over the next 50 issues (from frog-like blobbiness into one of Marvel’s best-known, coolest icons) and the sense of humor that he displays during fisticuffs — no better so than in a remarkable bout with the Hulk in Fantastic Four #25 (April 1964). We have blue-eyed Benjamin’s best ever one-liners and mesmerizing scrappery that destroys several city blocks, along with a speedboat, a bus, and a bridge.

I never get tired of this one.

 

Andrez; photo by wife Yoko

Andrez; photo by wife Yoko

Undercutting the mirth is the melancholia — the Thing’s search for his lost humanity, self-doubts, and worries about his brute strength harming others. Hallmarks here? For starters Fantastic Four #51 (June 1966), for me one of the best ever issues of the superpowered quartet, subtitled ‘This Man… This Monster!’ A Jack Kirby cover, with the King’s art inside inked by Joe Sinnott, wrapped perfectly around Stan Lee’s (and most likely also Kirby’s) words. And what a yarn of angst and redemption it is.

If Shakespeare did comic books, this is the stuff he would’ve created — with phrases like “Oh, it is excellent to have a giant’s strength, but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant!” in some huge word bubble, rejigged with a tough, Delancey Street twang.

Actually, natch that.

The Thing would simply declare, “It’s clobberin’ time!”

Why is the readership of comics important?

Because it’s fun? Also s’posed to be good for the ol’ brain.

Who’s your favorite non-comic book artist, and why?

A shared award between Terry Gilliam, Marcel Duchamp, and Alice and Martin Provensen — because I love their work, and they changed the way in which I look at art.

Who’s your favorite three comic book writers, and why? Which titles of theirs are the best, so far as you’re concerned?

Easy, if we go with recent cats, and can I opt for four?

I mean, I love past masters like Eisner and Tarpé Mills, and earlier work by Frank Miller and Alan Moore. But over the past decade I’d go with Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Kelly Sue DeConnick, and Kurt Busiek.

Fraction’s done crazily cool stuff with Hawkeye, Casanova, ODY-C, and Sex Criminals. There were some issues of Hawkeye and the recent ‘Acedia’ instalment of Casanova that have blown me away.

He and Brubaker killed it with The Immortal Iron Fist, and I’m a huge Brubaker fan in general. He’s probably my fave comic book writer — think Velvet, The Fade Out, Criminal, the first series of Incognito, and his runs on Captain America and Daredevil. I think The Marvels Project is one of the most underrated things out there. Wow.

DeConnick has rocked it with Pretty Deadly and Bitch Planet, and I’m such an admirer of Busiek’s work with Astro City and The Autumnlands.

Magpie, art by Frantz Kantor

Magpie, art by Frantz Kantor

What are your creative plans for the future — what can we expect from you?

I have a novelization of my comic book Bullet Gal coming out in around September, via Roundfire Fiction in the U.K. I’m also currently working on three serialized comics: Magpie, with artist Frantz Kantor, Crash Soirée with Graeme Jackson, and Onna Bugeisha — where I’m sharing art duties with Gareth Colliton.

Through Project-Nerd Publishing we’re about to publish #2 of Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat, and #1 of Trista & Holt should be happening down the line. The novelized version of Trista & Holt — named Black Sails, Disco Inferno — was in fact just published via Open Books.

I have a one-off short with artist Chris Wahl in the next Alterna Comics IF anthology, another (possible) piece for Dirty Rotten Comics in the U.K., and I just finished a mad sci-fi jaunt with Stu Campbell, a.k.a. artist Sutu for Comicoz in Australia.

Who’s your favorite non-comic book writer, and why? Which book of his/hers is the best, so far as you’re concerned?

Again, too difficult to narrow down to a solo effort. I’m a major-league fan of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Keigo Higashino, Ross Macdonald, Michael Chabon, Patrick deWitt, Neil Gaiman, Gabriel García Márquez, Philip K. Dick, Angela Carter, Joseph Heller, Nicholas Christopher, Isabel Allende, Ray Bradbury, James M. Cain, Richard Matheson, Umberto Eco, Ryū Murakami. Sometimes for one single book. Often (think Hammett, Chandler and Macdonald) for many.

oioioi_page_01The future of comic books — what’s really going to happen in this industry?

I’m with Graeme Jackson on this: check out Sutu‘s work with Augmented Reality — there’s a reason the guy was nominated for an Eisner and cleaned up at Australia’s Ledger Awards. Mind-boggling stuff.

What’s the freshest, greatest comic book title this year?

I actually just got it in the mail this week — Bipp & Trax, which is written and illustrated by fellow Aussie Dan Watts. Think 30 x 11 cm of madcap bliss. The dimensions are cool, the characters beautiful, there’s a great sense of humor throughout. And I adore Dan’s art. Simple as that.

 

 

The PNP Crew Q&A Series, #3: GRAEME JACKSON

The PNP Crew Q&A Series, #3: GRAEME JACKSON

BULLET GAL_US_trade comic collection_cover by Graeme JacksonHaving set ourselves a mission (of sorts) to raise the profile of the people we work with — both creators and admin — our next victim interviewee is Australian artist Graeme Jackson, the creator behind the sensational wraparoud cover for the Bullet Gal trade. He also currently works as artist and co-scripter on the upcoming Crash Soirée.

[BTW, if you missed #1 with PNP’s Galo Gutierrez you can check that out here, and the one with Matt Kyme here]

 

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Graeme Jackson, and I am an illustrator working primarily in Photoshop, utilising what I hope is a realist style.

I currently reside in Australia. To be more specific, I live in a suburb of Bendigo, approximately 180 kilometres north of Melbourne, known as Kangaroo Flat. Really — I kid you not. My partner Lyndall and I have two children, Hannah and Ethan. We also have a dog named Abbey who, on most days, is never more than three feet away from me. Those other days? She’s asleep in the next room. Safe to say, we’re kind’a close.

How did you become involved with Project-Nerd Publishing?                        

I’ve been lucky enough to be collaborating with Aussie expat Andrez Bergen on a comic called Crash Soirée for the past half-year. When Project-Nerd offered to publish his 12-issue Bullet Gal comic as a collected trade paperback, Andrez asked if I would be interested in providing a cover. I was. Bullet Gal’s a cracker.

Junie Bullet Gal article hi-resWhy are indie comics so damned important?

Lack of corporate oversight? [laughs] I’m serious, though. Indie comics, by their very nature, provide access to a range of ideas and styles never to be found in mainstream comics. Work that just wouldn’t fly if governed by the bottom line or any reticence regarding its acceptance by the majority. In indie comics, no one is watching over your shoulder and the gloves are off. Pure artistic vision. Sometimes the vision falls a little short, but it’s mostly propped up by the sincerity and passion of its creators.

Not only that, indie comics are where tomorrow’s talent refine their chops, and learn how to make good comics. Today’s comic superstars were indie not that long ago. Bendis? Rucka? They had stories to tell before the big two came calling.

Who are your favorite three comic book artists, and which titles of theirs are the best, so far as you’re concerned?

Ahh, the desert island question… Too many to narrow down to three. Kirby, Gibbons, Perez, Swan, Steranko, Adams (Arthur and Neal). All wonderful. Gary Chaloner was a revelation to my younger self. Huge fan of Steve Epting and Sean Phillips. I’ll always check out new stuff by Steve McNiven. Love me some Steve Dillon, Mike Mignola and Frank Quietly.

That’s not to mention the legion of talented men and women whose names I just can’t remember at the moment. In terms of personal influence? John Byrne, Bryan Hitch and Alex Ross. My apologies to those artists; it’s not their fault…

DC, Marvel, Image, Dynamite, Dark Horse, all of these — or something else?

A bit of everything really. At my core I’m a DC guy, but I can’t disregard the amazing run Marvel had through the ’60s to the ’80s. Fantastic characters, fantastic stories, and really ballsy work. Marvel, maybe by virtue of youth, showed readers what could happen in comics if characters were allowed to evolve. I wish they still did that.

Right now, I’m an Image reader, which is amazing to me. I was there when they formed and I read a lot of their initial… product. If you told me 20 years ago that one day, I’d hold Image up as the reason why I still read comics, I would have laughed my head off at you. But there it is.

Lazarus, Southern Bastards, Saga, Bitch Planet… Yummy. And so much more. Personally, I think Invincible is the greatest superhero title published in the last decade. It’s that good. I know Robert Kirkman doesn’t need the money, but I still encourage everyone to try it. It will remind you not only of why you love superheroes but, by extension, comics. Every time.

13055714_561659937349344_1635347955138465981_oWhat style/genre of comics do you prefer to read?

I’m generally up for anything. I know that sounds wishy-washy, but it really, I read everything I can, and only judge later. I truly love superheroes, and the heroic ideal, but as time passes I see less and less innovation within that genre. Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s my need to have less dumb in my life (a never-ending battle), or maybe the market just isn’t the same for me any more.

I remember when Grant Morrison started a wee series called Animal Man in 1998. I was only 12, but it forever changed my reading. After that, the usual monthly fare seemed… diminished somehow.

Thank goodness for Karen Berger. She pretty much curated my ’90s library… These days? I’m a huge fan of espionage/spy fiction, so right now, Velvet is ticking all my boxes. I’ll always pick up anything Ed Brubaker thinks worthy of his time, and especially when Phillips or Epting are on board. I need more Criminal. I also love Saga — which, at a glance, wouldn’t normally be on my radar but I’ve learned that genres, by definition, are too divisive. I just want to read good comics, so I do. I’ve already mentioned a few. Invincible is my go-to book for super-heroics. Cracking good fun, and surprisingly poignant at times.

In terms of your creativity, which styles/genres do you prefer to work with?

I tend to work in a fully “painted” (it is digital after all) style. After a few years of working out how to use Photoshop, it’s the style I’m most comfortable with. It also hides a lot of my errors as an illustrator. I’m just not good enough to pencil and ink. I need to use tones and shape, rather than line, to depict what’s in my head. I’m still amazed by artists that can use just two values (black and white) to render an image. Mignola, Nowlan, Chaloner, Austin, Russell… I’m in awe. That confidence I have some doubts I’ll ever achieve. But really, I just love every stage of comic art, from script to colors. One day I hope to get one of them right.

11215727_223443367991665_2494244175411525755_nWhat is the most innovative, landmark comic book title (or graphic novel) in history — and why do you feel this way?

Historically or personally? I’ve read a lot of comics, and while I have to put Watchmen down as the best, it’s not necessarily my best. For myself, I’ll still say Animal Man. I never laughed as much, scratched my head so much, or generally had as good a time reading anything else (maybe Giffen’s Justice League). Really, it was only three years after Crisis and Morrison was already bringing the weight of the newly-jettisoned multiverse to bear on the DC Universe. Take that.

I also need to mention the Man Of Steel mini-series by John Byrne that pretty much cemented my love of not only Superman, but collecting in general. All of a sudden, my favourite hero was international news, and a bad-ass. And only two weeks between issues? Super-sweet.

Who is your all-time favorite comic book character? How did he/she/it achieve this status?

Superman. Can’t help it. The first and the best, at least in term of heroism. As a kid learning to read, watching the George Reeves [TV] series, then finding the comic in the local newsagent was a joy. Superman is just that pure kind of hero. Sure, it’s kind of hokey, but hokey in the best possible way. Even with all that power, he’s a hero, because that’s the best possible thing thing you can be. He actually likes humanity. What a fantastic motivation, unlike say, Batman or Spider-Man, who are motivated by vengeance and guilt. For me, it all boils down to the purpose of the hero, what it is he does at his core. Sure, Batman’ll find your fresh corpse, deduct the method of murder and find who did you in, but Superman don’t play that. With Superman, you don’t die. He saves your butt, winks, and makes everything OK. I like that.

Favorite non-comic book artist?

Drew Struzan, no question. You know the guy — he produced some of the most famous movie posters for the most popular franchises in cinema history. The Muppet movies, Indiana Jones and Star Wars, to mention just a few examples of his magic. I’m a child of the ’80s, which was almost a golden age of film poster illustration, before the industry decided that Photoshopped ones featuring fairly bland compositions were cheaper to produce and therefore preferable. I was exposed to and became a huge fan of his art long before I even knew his name. His work has arguably been seen by more people on the planet than any other artist, and most of it just looks cool as hell.

Why is a colorist important in comic books?

Mood, baby. A good colorist adds that extra layer of atmosphere to a page, while helping to separate the elements of the composition. Color plays a huge part in making that emotional connection with the readership.

Who’re your favorite three comic book writers, and why? Which titles of theirs are the best, so far as you’re concerned?

Alan Moore would probably be my favorite comic writer of all time. His impact in the 1980s is undisputed, and changed the way people thought about writing in comics. Watchmen, of course, is his most famous and acclaimed work, but before that on titles such as Miracleman, he was kicking serious tail. Even his more recent works such as his America’s Best Comics line, were a breath of fresh air. Top 10 made me laugh out loud every time I read it. Galactapuss…[snicker]. Other writers I enjoy immensely are early Grant Morrison (I’ve already mentioned that incredible Animal Man run) and Ed Brubaker. Robert Kirkman also deserves a nod for the always entertaining Invincible.

Self-portrait by the artist

Self-portrait by the artist

What are your creative plans for the future — what can we expect from you?

For now, I’m really enjoying working on Crash Soirée. I can’t wait for people to see it. I also get to fit in the odd cover or poster here and there, so that’s something that I’d like to continue.

If Netflix or the Syfy channel made a TV series of your latest comic book, which actors would you cast in the key roles?

Honestly? If Crash was made into a series, I’d love it to be an animated project, in the vein of Batman: The Animated Series. Not necessarily that style, but that mood and feel it had.

The future of comic books — what’s really going to happen in this industry?

I’ve seen some really interesting things done with Augmented Reality by Australian artist Sutu [Stu Campbell], which absolutely takes my breath away. These aren’t comics you read, rather they are experienced. Ground-breaking stuff, and I urge everybody to check them out.

I sometimes worry that comics are going to price themselves out of existence, and wish that the big publishers were using digital distribution and the inherent cost saving as a means of building readership. Remember the old days when comics were 60 cents? Nowadays, you need a second mortgage to keep up with the big publishers. You can’t tell me that a book you no longer need to print or distribute should cost the same as a physical copy. It’s ludicrous. Unfortunately, they still seem content to grab as much cash as they can from as few people as they can. I don’t get it. I’d rather have 100 people give me a dollar, than 10 people giving me five. Make them cheaper, and get them into the hands of as many people as you can. It also kind of annoys me that the strength of the most powerful man in comics comes not from a pencil, brush or word process, but comes from his trucks. I was kind’a hoping that digital distribution would destroy that existing structure. Alas, no luck so far.

I dunno… I honestly have no idea, but I’m sure that comics will always be around in some form. There’s a certain purity in telling a story in this most direct, undiluted way. Just words and pictures on a page. Magic. And anyone can have a crack at it.

What’s the freshest, greatest comic book title this year?

I’m still enjoying the heck out of Invincible. It has managed to evolve and change over the course of the last decade, without ever feeling the need to return to some stagnant status quo. Unlike nearly everything else on the rack, Invincible still manages to delight and suprise me nearly every issue. To maintain that level of quality for 120-plus issues is a remarkable feat.

Who’s your favorite non-comic book writer, and why? Which book of his/hers is the best, so far as you’re concerned?

Again, far too many to whittle down to a single writer. I enjoy such a range of styles and genres that it’s impossible to pick a favorite. I can easily go from Cormac McCarthy to Lee Child, and on into John Grisham during the course of a week — with a bit of LeCarre and Ludlum thrown in for flavor. Recently, I’ve been reading a bit of Don Westlake’s Parker novels, and enjoying them immensely.