Posts tagged: comic books
After a while, most serialized webcomics start to look the same. Just about every series seems to strike a similar balance of influences from anime and western animation. But not Light Years Away, which draws inspiration from European sci-fi comics by artists like Moebius and Tanino Liberatore.
LYA is set in a world where many — perhaps most — people have cybernetic implants. But there’s a growing, violent anti-implant movement called the Puritans. The first story arc, Escape from Prison Planet, tells the story of Milo, a repeat offender doing time on an off-planet penal colony, where he ends up in the middle of a prison gang war between the Puritans and the implantees. Soon, however, he finds out there’s something bigger going on.
I talked with writer Ethan Ede and artist Adam Roselund — the Boise, Idaho based duo behind the series — about webcomics, the future of the series and other projects they have in the hopper.
Left: Ethan Ede Right: Adam Roselund
Klint Finley: First, I’m curious why you guys self-published online. Did you shop it around to publishers first?
Ethan: We self-published this story because we wanted to do it our way. Having control over our product is very important to us, that’s one of the reasons there are no ads on the site, because that is content we can’t control. At the time when we started Light Years Away we were shopping several products around to publishers and we wanted to put something out in the meantime. We actually picked LYA because it is the least like the stories we normally tell.
Adam: As well as the story being built for the format. We were kind of frustrated at the pitch process when we decided on LYA. We just wanted to get some stories out there and read, and at the time, no one was buying science fiction. The market was in contraction, and publishers were reticent to take a chance on what we were selling.
Do you think you’ll ever go to a publisher or will you continue to self-publish?
Ethan: LYA will always be self published on the web, we wouldn’t turn away a publisher that wanted to collect the stories for print though.
Adam: We have a few projects that are built specifically for print as well. We have one that we are currently working on for Dark Horse, but it doesn’t change how we approach LYA.
Anything more you can tell us about the Dark Horse project?
Adam: The story we’re doing for Dark Horse will be in Dark Horse presents. It’s not on the schedule just yet since we’re still putting it together, but probably should be out sometime later this year.
Congrats, that’s a good foot in the door. Have you had any other professional work published?
Ethan: We did a story for an anthology called CTRL.ALT.SHIFT back in 2009 but mostly we have just been working on developing our own stories. We have been offered other gigs which we turned down because they weren’t ours. Creative control is very important to us, we don’t want to do a corporate owned story. We want to make our books our way, and that takes a little more work, than showing off sample pages and getting work on a license.
Adam: I’ve done my fair share of sample pages and inventory stories, but it’s hard to get excited about those, you know? The creation is the thing for us. Breathing life into the things that spring from our imaginations so that we can share them with other people. It’s a harder road than cutting your teeth on a large profile book, but it’s more fulfilling.
I also saw Adam’s name attached to, I think, the original announcement of MonkeyBrain Comics, but I haven’t seen a specific book…
Adam: Yeah, I was originally working on a Monkeybrain story with Brandon Seifert, but both of us got a bit underwater with our respective projects and commitments, so we haven’t created our book yet.
Stepping back a bit, how did Light Years Away come about? I know you guys have also collaborated on Fat Baby — was that before or after you started LYA?
Ethan: Adam and I have been collaborating since late 2004. When we first met it was pretty clear that we basically shared one brain, and we instantly wanted to work together. We started making pitches and approaching publishers blind. Adam’s art was always strong but we didn’t have a name for ourselves and we didn’t have a full book to show off what we could do. So we decided to self publish a story. LYA was one of many scripts I had written and the one we felt best lent itself to the format. We just wanted to make comics, and with the web a publisher wasn’t a gate we necessarily had to get through anymore.
Adam: Fat Baby came about right around the same time as LYA, if I remember correctly. The thing started as an elaborate joke to make ourselves laugh. If you have an hour, we can give you the full rundown of the creation of that project. It’s a real doozy. It’s one big metagag on the comics industry, from international printing rights to creator egoes to the 4-panel gag strip format itself.
In the intro to Escape from Prison Planet, you mention European sci-fi comics being an influence. I think I can see the Tanino Liberatore influence in there. What else influenced the two of you?
Ethan: Moebius Moebius Moebius.
Adam: As a kid, I was gung ho for Jim Lee X-Men. Then when I hit pimples and pubes phase of life, I discovered Jean Giraud and Bilal and fell in love. Intercut that with a healthy love of Katsuhiro Otomo.
The thing I love most about Moebius and Otomo is the sense of place they give their scenes. Everywhere feels lived in. There’s dirt. There’s graffiti. There’s flies and old water and plugged storm drains. Even in natural surroundings, the Earth feels weathered and the surface earned through years of erosion. These elements I really took hold of and try to apply to my work, as well as a sense of motion and momentum to character movement. That I think I learned from overdosing on animation and cartoons at a formative age.
Ethan: Mezieres and Christin’s Valerian series was also a huge inspiration for me in terms of how I want the story to move. Smaller albums that told a larger tale.
The back of the print book you sell at conventions says “Futurism.” Do you do a lot of research on the technology and theory behind implants, or is this mostly imaginative?
Ethan: Most of what Adam and I do together is Hard Science fiction. That is our passion. LYA happens to be one story where we decided to play fast and loose with science and physics. But nearly every other story we have in the workings is Hard SF. We spend a lot of time world building behind the panels, figuring out things work, looking at how technology can be used and misused. Doing a lot of research.
Adam: Yeah, LYA has warp gates and sentient alien life and all kinds of fantastical stuff in it, but even then, our hard science fiction background causes us to think waaaaaaaay too long about how even the most ridiculous piece of tech in Light Years Away functions on a basic level.
Do you have a background in science or are you self-taught?
Ethan: Neither of us have formal backgrounds in science. we are both autodidacts, we both read a lot and read a lot about emerging technology and science. we are both futurists.
It’s been a while since the site has updated — when can we expect new material?
Ethan: At the moment we are working very hard on this project for DHP but after that is wrapped we plan on a website redesign and the launch of book two of LYA. It makes us bad webcomicers, but Adam and I care less about an update schedule and more about the archives, we want the total book to be quality and that sometimes means we are slower and don’t keep as regular a schedule.
Adam: That’s the big bummer of where we’re at. It’s just the two of us. I only have one brain and two arms, and one of the arms is functionally useless in creating art. It’s basically there to hold the t-square steady. So updates are light when we have more pressing projects to work on unfortunately. But going forward, we really don’t want to sacrifice quality for the sake of a steady update. Book 2 is going to be GORGEOUS. Some of the pages in book one make me shake my head and wish I could re do it, so I promised myself that going forward, LYA will be as well drawn as any project we do for a publisher.
Outside of comics, what sort of creative projects are you two involved with? I know Ethan has a band, for example.
Ethan: Yeah we both play music, I’ve been playing in bands since I was 15. I also make auto-bio comics. We have made short films, and Adam does a lot of design work for bands. I’ve also designed T-shirts and things for a few local bands here in Boise. Basically we try to always keep our hands moving.
Adam: Yeah, I wear a lot of hats. I do Illustration work on the side in addition to my day job as a senior graphic designer for a large web company. I’ve done work for Playboy and various papers and magazines around the world.
Too Much To Dream author Peter Bebergal interviews Alan Moore for The Believer:
BLVR: So in writing, whether you’re trying to inhabit a metaphysical being or trying to inhabit someone living in a poor neighborhood, unless you can inhabit them with compassion, and inhabit them with understanding, they’ll never be a believable character otherwise.
AM: Right, the character will be limited, and so will you. When I was doing V for Vendetta years ago, and I started to introduce the Nazi heads of this totalitarian state in the far-flung future of 1997, I’d been marching against the National Front and taking part in the Rock Against Racism marches, and I realized that I can’t just portray Nazis as bad guys, because everybody knows that, and you’re not saying anything. You’re contributing to the myth that they were somehow separate from the rest of humanity, which they weren’t. The Nazis were just ordinary human beings who got caught up in something very bad and, at the time, rather unprecedented. This is not to excuse their behavior, obviously, it’s simply to point out that it doesn’t do you any service to demonize any group of people. It’s much better to try and understand from the inside.
There was a scene in Promethea where the character is confronted by a horde of demons, and the way that she decides to deal with them is by owning them, by identifying each demon’s qualities and saying, “Yes, I’ve done that; yes, I accept responsibility for that,” at which point she actually physically eats the demon that she’s referring to. What a lot of magic is about is coming to your own individual terms with the universe, which is to say yourself, given that the entirety of the universe that is observable to you or me is that which actually exists inside our heads. And coming to an understanding of those things made me a little bit bigger because I had a part of my mind that could look with compassion at a class of people that I had never been able to do that with before. Not to like them any more, but to understand them.
Full Story: The Believer: Alan Moore
Nicolas Winding Refn — who dedicated Drive to Alejandro Jodorowsky — is reportedly adapting Jodo and Moebius’ comic book The Incal:
France Inter also talked with Refn on the Croisette, and while they don’t provide a direct quote, they do report that he’s working on an adaptation of Jodorowsky and Moebius’ comic series “The Incal.” The original six book series launched in 1981 and is set in a dystopian future, detailing the battle over the powerful Incal crystal. The comic series is notable in that it followed the collapse of Jodorowsky’s “Dune,” and utilizes some of the similar designs that Moebius had created while working on the movie. (The forthcoming documentary “Jodorowsky’s Dune” goes into more detail about that, and you can read our report on that flick right here).
Here’s an animated trailer for the comic:
If that looks familiar, it’s because Moebius was also the designer for The Fifth Element. He and Jodorowsky unsuccessfully sued the director Luc Besson for plagiarizing The Incal.
The New York Times has a profile of Karen Berger, the editor of Vertigo Comics. Berger announced earlier this year that she is leaving Vertigo. The Times has no update on what she’s doing next.
For the roster of artists she leaves behind, Ms. Berger’s exit raises questions about the future of Vertigo and where its renegade spirit fits into an industry and a company that seem increasingly focused on superhero characters who can be spun off into movies and TV shows.
“It’s really hard to tell at this stage,” said Mr. Gaiman, a best-selling novelist and fiction writer who was scouted by Ms. Berger in the 1980s. “That was DC Comics, now we have DC Entertainment. It is a different beast, being run by different people.”
Sitting in a DC conference room a few days ago and surrounded by shelves of Vertigo titles that she published, Ms. Berger, a soft-spoken woman of 55, said she quit to pursue new challenges. “It’s time to ply my storytelling skills elsewhere,” she said. […]
Comic sales have fallen off substantially, Mr. Morrison said, and the qualities that defined Vertigo’s titles have become widely imitated. They have “bled into the mainstream in such a way that you almost didn’t need it anymore.”
Mr. Morrison said he could still remember when his Vertigo series “Sebastian O,” about an assassin in Victorian-era England, sold about 90,000 copies of its first issue in 1993 — a modest quantity that would make it a Top 10 best seller in 2013. (DC said it doesn’t provide sales figures.)
There is no one who shaped my tastes more than Berger. I can’t wait to see what she does next.
A Web Comic About Steve Jobs And Steve Wozniak As Young Hippies
Patrick Farley, the artist behind the pioneering web comic E-Sheep, has a series that started today. Steve and Steve follows the adventures of Apple Computer founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak as young, acid tripping hippies in the 70s. The ending of the prologue makes me think this may be an alternate history comic. It also displays the fascination with early hominids found in Farley’s last comic the First Word.
Jeremy Holt column “Strange Love” is a revealing and inspiring look at what it takes to break into the comics industry. Here’s the last bit form part six:
Pitching is very much its own art form, which requires dedicating time and energy to honing the craft. Each time you do it, only helps inform your decision making the next time around. This journey is part of the process and a healthy amount of humility will grease your wheels insuring a smoother ride. Remaining humble and appreciative of any advice you might receive from established talent will foster that eagerness to improve each time you fail. And believe me when I say: You will fail a lot.
If after reading all of this, you feel even more excited to go out and make some comics, I’d say you’re already ahead of the curve. Good luck.
The Life and Strange Death of Seth Fisher
Ben Morse writes:
Tokyo, Japan-the cultural and fiscal hub of one of the world’s most elegant and sophisticated societies. It’s the last place one would expect to find a naked man roaming the streets.
But Seth Fisher is out for a midnight stroll.
‘Seth was trying to overcome his fear of being naked in public,’ relates Langdon Foss, college roommate and longtime friend of the Fantastic Four/Iron Man: Big In Japan artist. ‘He would draw all his scripts and then go out and walk around the neighborhood naked. His wife would lock him out, she was so mad. For somebody to do that in Japan, well, he might as well have eaten a baby or something.’
See also: Meanwhile interview with Seth Fisher
For someone who has supposedly turned his back on the comics industry, Alan Moore sure is doing a lot of comics work. He’s currently doing the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen spin-off Nemo, the next LoEG book and a follow-up to his Neonomicon series called Providence. From an interview for The Beat:
At the moment I am swamped in Lovecraft books about – I’ve got nearly every book of criticism that’s been written, that I’ve accumulated over these last six months, so I’m living and breathing Lovecraft. […]
It’s obviously a completely different animal to anything like Watchmen, but there is that point of similarity. It’s starting from – if Lovecraft’s characters, if Lovecraft’s monsters, if Lovecraft’s locales actually existed in A Real World, then what would they really be like, and what would the world be like? So it’s the same premise, but it’s taken me into some very interesting new directions. […]
Having run on at the mouth relatively recently about the appalling standards of research that exist throughout the rest of the comic book industry… I’ve said some very scornful things about some of the other writers in the industry and how – in my opinion – they are completely lazy, that they obviously do not have the respect for their own work that would lead them to actually put a bit of effort into it, and research some things, you know. Don’t just copy everything from an episode of Deadwood that you’ve seen, actually research the American West, find out how people talked. So, having been incredibly nasty and high-handed about many of the other professionals in the industry, I have kind of left myself wide open. If I don’t get every detail of this completely right, then I deserve to get a taste of my own medicine. But I don’t think that’s going to happen. We have been devilishly thorough in researching this. In the first issue there’s a brief glimpse of a gramophone record, and we’ve got the actual label to paste in, with the record’s serial number on it. I think we briefly see somebody reading a New York Times in the first issue, and it actually is the New York Times for June the 19th, 1919. I’m even – I’ve not actually done this yet, but I’m even trying to check out what the weather was like, which is difficult to establish other than in broad generalities, but I can at least sort out what the sky looked like, and what the phases of the moon were – which is something that Lovecraft used to take pains to do, so I feel that I should as well.
Artist Rian Hughes is putting together a show at Orbital Comics to criticize pop artist Roy Lichtenstein and celebrate his original sources:
“Pop artist Roy Lichtensein currently has a show on at the Tate. While the public is intimately familiar with his work, what they may be unaware of is how closely many of his images were “appropriated” from comic artists like Irv Novick, Russ Heath, Jack Kirby, John Romita and Joe Kubert, who received no fee or credit.
Is this an act of brilliant recontexturalisation? The elevation of commercial “low” art to “high” art? Art world snobbery? Artistic licence? Cultural annexation? Gallery shortsightedness? Or something else?
This show is a chance for real comic-book artists (and other “commercial artists” – illustrators, designers etc) to ask these kinds of questions and share their views, via their work.Every interested comic artist (or illustrator, graphic designer or other “commercial artist”) should “re-reappropriate” one of the comic images Lichtenstein used, and rework it, using some of their ‘commercial art’ drawing skills, to warp and twist it into something interesting and original, and in the process to comment on this type of appropriation.
The IMPORTANT thing to stress is that you’d be going back to the source material and re-reappropriating (sic) Coletta, Novick, Kirby et al – NOT copying Lichtenstein, as we don’t want copyright issues from the Lichtenstein estate …see this as a celebratory, positive show which aims to get the point across that the original artists deserve credit and respect …As suggested by Dave Gibbons, money raised from selling prints or originals will be donated to the Hero Initiative, which helps down-on-their-luck comics veterans: http://www.heroinitiative.org/ Again, a nice way to Give Back the Art.”
The show is accepting submissions.
Full Story (and many more images): Robot 6: Comic artists razz Lichtenstein with the Image Duplicator show
The comic is being serialized at Study Group Comics every Wednesday. There’s a warning that this is not safe for work, but I haven’t noticed anything particular racy — but perhaps the comic will get more explicit as it progresses, so watch out for that.
My interview with Brubaker is here.