This is the first of what we hope will become a series. An article that introduces you to a project creator that is trying to get funding for a comic, film, or other like creative endeavor that is both independent and interesting.
Here now is Jesse Grillo, comic book writer and the creator of Bleeding Ink Productions on his project, Blackwood.
In 100 words or less, tell us about your project:
Jesse Grillo: Blackwood is an ongoing horror series about Kai Blackwood. A man that has been able to see monsters his whole life and believes he suffers from a mental illness. Turns out, he is one of a handful of people that have the ability to see and possibility stop these creatures that are slowly invading from other dimensions. This Kickstarter is to help us pay for the first 3 issues.
Grillo: It’s one of the thousand roads I’m taking in an attempt to create comics. Crowdfunding has become an amazing thing for comic-book creators of all kinds. It’s still really tough to get funding, but Kickstarter is one of the tools creators can use to help bring their projects to life.
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Comic writer Steve Niles lets us know about utilizing Kickstarter, staying fresh, writing DC and Marvel characters, and merging Criminal Macabre and 30 Days of Night for Criminal Macabre: The Final Night — The 30 Days of Night Crossover.
Your Kickstarter with Ben Templesmith and menton3 for Lust was recently funded. What was the impetus that drove you to funding through Kickstarter? How do you think that funding like this will change – or, maybe, has already started changing – the nature of comics or comics publishing?
Steve Niles: There were a lot of reasons to try Kickstarter. As indie creators we don’t have many publishing options and the weirder the project the harder it is to find a home for.
We knew coming out of the gate that we wanted Lust to be something different, a bit of an experiment. That right there put us at risk in the eyes of most publishers. The other is, also as an indie creator, we have trouble getting our books to fans so Kickstarter offered us a way to go directly to fans. The biggest reason though was a great chance to work with Templesmith and Menton again. I love those guys and I’m hoping this is the first of many “weird” projects.
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An iconic character actor with a flush resume, Lance Henriksen could book work on reputation and his gravelish voice alone, but for the last year and a half, the actor has somehow found a way to continue his hectic career in TV, film, and video games (like Mass Effect 3 and SEGA’s Aliens: Colonial Marines) while also pouring his passions into a new project that he first imagined two decades ago.
That project, To Hell You Ride, is a 5 part comic series from Dark Horse Comics that debuts today (12/12/12). Last week I had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Henriksen about ‘Hell’, how it came to be, and both the chances of a Millennium comic and an update on the potential movie.
What pulled you toward telling this story as a comic? Was it always meant to be a comic or did it start as something else?
Lance Henriksen: It started as a movie that I wrote twenty years ago and the script was lost. I got divorced at one point and the script got thrown away with a lot of the other stuff. You know how that goes… but anyway, when it came up with Mike Richardson down at Comic-Con, he just asked me “would I like to do a comic?” and because [Tom] Mandrake and Sienkiewicz and Eric Powell and all these guys had done drawings for me for my biography, I was aware of comics and I love these guys and I thought “Why not?”
I met Tom Mandrake at one of those conventions and I really liked the guy and he had done a drawing, a pumpkin head, for my biography and it was a great drawing. Then Joe Maddrey and I wrote the book together and worked together before and we all joined forces and Dark Horse agreed that we could work the way that we wanted to, which was staying in real great communication. It wasn’t just us turning in a script and Tom Mandrake drawing it.
What happened was, we decided that we wanted to talk all the time and write from the pencils all the way through to the finished product and we’ve been working on it for a year and a half. We have five issues coming out and three of them are done and we’ve got two more [to do] and by the time the third one comes out and onto the market, the other ones will be finished.
It’s a phenomenal adventure for me, man, because normally films are my thing and the restraint and the drama that has to be so specific in a comic — it’s been a great thing to learn and understand. These guys are talented, Mandrake does such dramatic work, it’s beautiful and it fits perfect with what our mythology is in our story.
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Jeremy Barlow has written Star Wars comics, Mass Effect comics, Deathlok, and more, but this time he’s taking us out west with R.I.P.D.: City of the Damned, a prequel to the R.I.P.D. movie that will star Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds when it debuts this summer.
I spoke to Barlow about picking up where Peter Lenkov left off with R.I.P.D., what he thinks about the future of Star Wars, the possibility of more Deathlok, going freelance, and what it takes to write a comic book. (more…)
Todd McFarlane is one of the true forces in modern comics. A rockstar artist and writer who left Marvel 20 years ago to take his pencil and create a new icon in Spawn and co-create a new company in Image Comics, McFarlane is now taking time to reflect on his career, the industry altering decision to help form Image, and the evolution of his signature style in The Art of Todd McFarlane: The Devil is in the Details.
I had the opportunity to speak with McFarlane a few weeks ago about the inception of Image, his new book, his thoughts on reboots, what Marvel and DC have become, the business side of toys, and Spawn. The result is an in-depth look inside the mind of one of comicdom’s most influential and opinionated individuals. Enjoy. (more…)
Thomas Jane has played the Frank Castle, Mickey Mantle, a member of the Vegan Police, Jonah Hex, a soldier, a gigolo and more, but the thing that is most impressive about the every-man actor is his mind for comics.
More than a fan of the medium, I spoke at length with Jane about pre-code comics, Bruce Jones, and adapting the cult horror film (which and short story Dark Country (which Jane directed) to a wordless graphic novel by Thomas Ott. After that, we spoke about the future of comic book inspired films and I asked him if he’s done with The Punisher. (more…)
If you were born anytime after 1980, chances are that the last thing you saw everynight before you went to bed was the page of an R.L. Stine book. Stine, the master of horror for kids and pre-teens has been at it for 20 years, churning out over 100 “Goosebumps” books, a TV series, and now Hub TV’s R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour.
Last week I had the chance to chat with Mr. Stine, armed with questions crafted by myself and my newfound partner in crime, Anne Sisk, and I got to ask the King of Spookiness what scares him, why we want to be scared, how it is writing children’s books in the internet age, and all about the challenges of writing his adult novel, Red Rain. Here is what Mr. Stine had to say:
This year marks the 60th anniversary of MAD Magazine and editor John Ficarra took a moment to talk to us about Totally MAD, the longevity of a MAD sense of humor and the right artwork to use for wrapping fish.
I’ve heard about this [60th Anniversary book that Ficarra was holding) and I’m excited to take a look at it. Sixty years – can you give me a quick overview of the book?
John Ficarra: We had no plans to do this but Time Home Entertainment came to us and said, “Would you like to do the book for your 60th?” and we said “That’d be great!” I didn’t realize what a heartbreak this book would be. MAD has done over 26 thousand pages of material. This book is 256 pages. So, I had to leave out a ton of great stuff. In fact, I wrote in the back – I wrote an afterword where I spoke about that. And this book, I tried to represent MAD on a lot of different levels. I tried to represent all of the talent that’s been at MAD – going back to Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder to the current staff of Drew Friedman and people like that. I tried to make it a pop culture store – so you could see in every decade what the popular movies were, what the popular TV shows, what the language was like, what the fashion was like. And then I also tried to do it from a political point of view, because MAD does a lot of politics. So, you can pretty much take an American history course – albeit through a funhouse mirror – an American history course if you buy the book.
The other great thing about the book is it’s relatively inexpensive and in the back there are what we call “The Soul of MAD” – prints of 12 of our classic covers that Bill Gaines and I picked out years ago, including the very first Alfred E. Newman and some of the others like Alfred as the Scarecrow and things like that. So, they’re suitable for framing – or wrapping fish, as we like say.
The other thing the book has is, if you go through it, it has every cover we’ve ever done running along the bottom. And the stock is just wonderful. It’s really a great paper so it showcases the art terrifically – much more so than the toilet paper we printed on for so many years. And it’s slightly oversized, so the book is bigger than a MAD page, so you get to see the art even better.
And the last thing is, I hired Frank Jacobs to write a series of essays about the questions we’re most asked: Who is Alfred E. Newman? Have you ever been sued? The MAD trips? Who was Bill Gaines? What is MAD like after Bill Gaines died? So, he wrote terrific essays, he dug up some old photos that many people haven’t seen to accompany the essays – so there’s a lot in the book and you can preorder it now at MadMagazine.com.
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Laura Mennell is no stranger to the sci-fi genre but it’s her role in SyFy’s hit original series Alphas that has gained her an avid fanbase. Mennell plays psychic pusher Nina, a reluctant hero with a complicated past. She took some time to chat with us about her character’s dark side and what it’s like being an actress in the nerd world.
Nina’s complex character allows you to play a lot of layers. What do you find most fascinating about her?
Laura Mennell: I’m fascinated by the repercussions of having that much power and how it affects her personally. It’s interesting, fans will often say they’d love to have Nina’s ability, the freedom and satisfaction of getting everything they desire. Ultimately all of us would love to be able to alter certain situations for our own gain, taking the easy way out, having easy access to finer things in life. But there’s obviously a price to getting everything you want, and it can make one feel empty like it does with Nina. She also runs the risk of compulsively abusing her power, to the point where she becomes more out of control. And because of this, she’s been dangerous to the few people in her life who truly matter to her: It’s made her feel like a monster this season…she knows she’s dangerous and ultimately feels like she can’t be fully trusted. Consequently, she’s burdened with a lot of guilt.
Did anything about Nina (past or present behavior) surprise you when you read the script for this season’s episode “When Push Comes to Shove?
Mennell: I think “Push Comes to Shove” surprised me in general! It was a great episode written by Adam Levy, and there was definitely a lot to explore with Nina. I love the fact that Nina’s a little darker this season: she’s reverted back to her old behavior of overindulging in her ability, making some horrible choices and within those indulgences ultimately hurting those on her team–especially Rachel. I guess the biggest surprise for me in that episode was the make out scene between Nina and Rachel. At first I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but then I embraced the idea when I thought more of the reasoning behind it. Nina knows how sensitive Rachel is to touch and how inexperienced and anxious she is about sharing any type of intimacy. Because Nina knows her so well, manipulating her in that way is pretty unforgivable. But it served its purpose, as the ultimate betrayal in braking ties with Rachel by hurting and humiliating her.
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You can’t believe how active he is, bouncing right in front of you and talking about a litany of projects that make a man 1/3 his age exhausted by the prospective workload.
Stan Lee doesn’t stop, he never has, and you half wonder if he ever will. Right now, the co-creator of some of Marvel’s most well known and beloved characters has set his sights on conquering viral videos, launching Stan Lee’s World of Heroes — a Youtube channel with shows from Lee, fellow comic writer Peter David, reality TV star Adrianne Curry, journalist Jenna Busch, and others.
Lee talked about why he would start a new project, his cameos, his favorite cocktail, and what he thinks of all these comic book reboots during a brief roundtable following the World of Heroes panel at New York Comic Con. Here now is that interview:
On starting a new project after all he has done:
Oh, because it’s fun. It’s not like working. Everything I do is like playing. If you think about it, I’m with glamorous people, and we’re doing things that we hope entertain other people. People seem to love what we’re doing and come over and thanks us for it. Who would ever want to give that up?
On his numerous cameos in the Marvel Movie Universe:
Those cameos, I love them. In fact I was talking to somebody who’s connected to DC and I was saying to him just before: “You’ve got to get me a cameo in a DC movie.”
On his favorite cocktail:
Anything I drink with you on Cocktails with Stan (he says to Jenna Busch). No, my favorite drink, if you mean real drink is a screwdriver, but I ask for half as much vodka as you’d normally put in it because I can go crazy with liquor.
It was at this point in the proceedings that I could see that time was winding down — Stan had a flight to catch, so I quickly asked the Fearless Leader a couple of questions of my own.
Stan, you had a hand in creating so many iconic characters, now we’re in the era of reboots. Is there any character you’d want to go back and change if you could?
Stan Lee: Yeah, there was one character I did called Diablo, a villain, and I liked the name and we were on a fast deadline and we did the story. And I can’t remember to this day what his personality was or what his deal was or what the hell he was all about. Diablo is the only character I don’t think I did a good job on.
Quick follow up: The reboots that have been going on, do you think that they’ve had a negative effect on what you and your contemporaries did?
Stan Lee: No, I think you need those reboots because you can’t keep doing the same things over. If you stop to think, even the books; every month, month after month and so many versions. It’s not just one Spider-Man book there’s I don’t know how many Spider-Man titles that come out and it’s the same thing with all of them.
You can and should check out Stan Lee’s World of Heroes on YouTube by clicking here.