Category: Interviews

Spotlight Squadcast Interview with Comics Writer David Pepose

Spotlight Squadcast Interview with Comics Writer David Pepose

In our latest Squadcast interview we caught up with comics creator and writer David Pepose.

David is known for his creator-owned titles Spencer & Locke, Going to the Chapel, Scout’s Honor, and The O.Z.

His work has been nominated for multiple industry awards and his catalogue of work is continuing to grow into new publishing venues.

His latest work, The O.Z., is a book that he is publishing through Kickstarter. The first double-sized issue was funded last year and currently the campaign for the second installment is underway. Backers have until September 15th to get behind this excellent comic.

Since David and I spoke for this Squadcast, the first issue of The O.Z. has been nominated for best single issue for the 2021 Ringo Awards.

David has grown as a writer and creator over the years that Pop Culture Squad has been around and he continues to be one of our favorite interviewees.

Check out the interview and the Kickstarter campaign below.


THE O.Z. #1-2 – A Fantasy Classic Reimagined for Comics

What is the O.Z?

What if The Hurt Locker took place in The Wizard of Oz? Find out in The O.Z., an action-packed fantasy comic series from Ringo Award-nominated writer David Pepose (Spencer & Locke, Going to the Chapel, Scout’s Honor) and superstar artist Ruben Rojas (Proton) that transforms a childhood classic into a war story for the ages. Returning to Kickstarter with our double-sized, 44-page second chapter, this campaign is dedicated to bringing this adrenaline-fueled twist on L. Frank Baum’s iconic Oz novels to life. Fans of Mad Max: Fury RoadThe Old Guard, and Fables will not want to miss out on The O.Z.

THE HUNT FOR THE SILVER SLIPPERS

Continue reading “Spotlight Squadcast Interview with Comics Writer David Pepose”

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comics Writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comics Writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson

In our latest episode of the Pop Culture SquadCast, we spoke to comic book writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson. Phillip’s catalog of published comic work has increased significantly in recent years. He created and wrote the hit DC Comics Black Label series The Last God and currently is writing for both DC and Marvel comics. He is penning Action Comics for DC and the newly launched Alien book for Marvel, among others.

Phillip has an amazing “day job” as a member of the United States Army and has come to comic book writing later than others. His roots in comic publishing come from the creator owned space with books like Last Sons of America that was published by Boom! Studios,  and his collaboration with Steve Orlando on the AfterShock Comics book Kill A Man was a significant topic in our conversation.

Phillip is often found to be thoughtful and excited about telling stories in the comic medium. It is always a joy to spend some time talking comics with him. Our conversation touched on a bunch of different topics including his current projects.

We delved into the world building that Phillip does in his storytelling and how from The Last God to Superman and Alien you can see the care that he takes in making the setting authentic. The topic of alien languages came up and people interested in how to make that work will be very interested in that conversation.

As a reader of comics, I often wonder how the dynamic of two writers works in the practice of writing the story. Phillip went into detail about how the project Kill A Man was proposed to him and about how he and Steve Orlando traded off on scenes and then came back to collaborate and create a fluid single voice to the book.

The concepts and plans that are coming in the second arc of Alien from Marvel were discussed, and Phillip has taken great care to tell interesting stories in the world of Alien that respect the fan base but also push the boundaries. He laid out the premise for “Alien: Sanctuary” which begins in September.

We hope you enjoy the conversation and it inspires you to seek out Phillips work. You won’t be disappointed.

 

You can find Phillip on Twitter at @PhillipKJohnson and also on his website phillipkennedyjohnson.com.

With Further Ado #158: Comic-Con Begins: Five-and-a-Half Questions with Mathew Klickstein

With Further Ado #158: Comic-Con Begins: Five-and-a-Half Questions with Mathew Klickstein

The latest comic from Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragones, Groo Meets Tarzan, is brilliant.  Tom Yeates is also along for the ride, and if you, like me, are ravenous for more of his artwork beyond the weekly Prince Valiant Sunday strip, his contributions to this one won’t disappoint you.  The first issue kicks off with a double page spread showcasing the main floor of San Diego Comic-Con and it had me laughing out loud and missing it all -both at the same time.

To be sure, San Diego Comic-Con, or Comic-Con International, has grown to become a sprawling, wonderous event. It will be fantastic when things ‘get back to normal’ for this annual celebration.  So… while we’re waiting for that, maybe now is the perfect time to learn a little about the origins of this event?

The new podcast Comic-Con Begins, is informative, illuminating and just plain fun.  I had the pleasure of catching up with Mathew Klickstein to get the lowdown on it all.

Question 1:

Ed Catto: Why do you think there is such an interest in comic cons and specifically in the history of comic cons?

Mathew Klickstein: One of the many reasons we thought a history of “the” Comic-Con would be something worth investing massive amounts of blood-sweat-n-tears into is that there really hadn’t been a history like this put together before, at least not in such an extensive, extremely deep-dive investigative/exploratory way. Certainly not involving the entire force of folks who made it all happen back in the day.

There’ve been some great books – mostly academic/scholarly or personal memoir – about cons and fandom over the years, along with a handful of well-crafted documentaries and the like. But we just hadn’t seen too much in the way of such a long-form history, which again, was a principal motivator for us to plunge into the project with such breakneck insane passion, and certainly a major factor in why we wanted to do all we could to get it done “right.”

We wanted to fill in that lacuna, the gap in our shared cultural history. We aspired throughout the process to achieve that with Comic-Con Begins.

As for interest in the conventions themselves? I’m hoping too that that interest has been, if anything, bolstered by this past year+ of the lack of their happening in-person (or, in many cases, at all).

That this last year+, I hope and believe, has reminded people why a true in-person, “I’m there with the rest of the fans all together in a finite space” singular experience of being at a con is something we truly need as fans, as geeks, as “misfits” or whatnot who connect with members of their “tribe” through certain pop culture and creative/artistic entities and that going to conventions to see old friends and enjoy these experiences together, in person, is not simply a luxury. It’s something we desperately require as a social species. (Fan or otherwise!)

Question 2:

EC: And even though it’s not the biggest comic convention, many would argue that San Diego Comic-Con is still the most important. Do you think that’s true? Why or why not? Continue reading “With Further Ado #158: Comic-Con Begins: Five-and-a-Half Questions with Mathew Klickstein”

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comics Editor Shelly Bond

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comics Editor Shelly Bond

Welcome to another Interview Edition of the Pop Culture Squadcast. In this episode, we spoke with comics editor extraordinaire Shelly Bond.

Anyone who has been paying attention to comics over the past thirty years knows that Shelly has shepherded some of the most fantastic comic stories to ever come along. Her decades long tenure at Vertigo brought us books like Fables, Lucifer, American Virgin, Clean Room, Euthanauts, and so many more.

Over the past few years Shelly has been curating and publishing comics through Kickstarter. Her anthologies include Femme Magnifique, Insider Art, Heavy Rotation, and Hey Amateur!

Her latest offering which is still available to back is called Filth and Grammar, The Comic Book Editor’s Secret Handbook. It is written by Shelly as part memoire and part instruction manual.

We had the fantastic opportunity to sit down (virtually) with Shelly and talk about what has gone into the creation of this book and her stellar career in general.

This has been one of the most entertaining and productive interviews that I have ever conducted.

We hope that you enjoy the conversation.


Pop Culture Squad: Let’s talk about the newest project. Filth and Grammar. This is a departure from what we are used to getting from Shelly Bond. It seems very personal. What made you decide on this project?

Shelly Bond: Thirty-three years of blood sweat and red ink on my fingers. This is my magnum opus. You do this once in a lifetime and I have been chipping away at it for many many years. I started writing it officially in 2016, and I just wasn’t sure which way I was going to go with it but I was always sure that the title was going to be Filth and Grammar.

“Superstar Artist Trio” for Filth and Grammar.

I didn’t know if was going to err on the side of more grammar and some filth or ninety percent filth and ten percent grammar. But I think I finally struck a good balance when I found my superstar artist trio. When you find the right team, most things fall into place.

I cannot wait to continue working on this book and bringing it to life. Really, for anyone who wants to make comics, anyone who wants to make comics better than they’ve ever made them before, and actually for people who want to become more discerning readers, it’s the kind of book for everybody.


What is in the SquadCast?

There is plenty more in podcast, but some of the topics that we covered include:

These are some of the pros who offer “Pro Tips” in Filth and Grammar, and I bet a few of them came up in the SquadCast conversation with Shelly Bond.

What she enjoys about and some of the challenges of running a self publishing business through Kickstarter.

Her history as young comic editor at Comico to being Senior Editor at Vertigo, to running her own imprint at IDW, to the present. It is enlightening, and she has so much to offer in terms of her experience.

We spent some time talking about the process of making comics, and lettering nerds will find some fun points in the podcast.

Her work on Fables is a great topic of the conversation.

If you are into comics and want to know more about how they get made, this is a great conversation for you.

Also the Kickstarter campaign for  Filth and Grammar, The Comic Book Editor’s Secret Handbook ends this week. You still have a few days to back it.

As a reminder, this was one of the campaigns that we highlighted earlier this month as a Kickstarter You Should Be Backing.


Where Do You Find Shelly Bond?

You can follow Shelly and get all the latest on her projects on Twitter and Instagram.

You can also find her projects at offregister.press.

With Further Ado #146: Five and a Half Questions with Adam Philips

With Further Ado #146: Five and a Half Questions with Adam Philips

You’ve read Adam Philips work for many years, but you may have not known it. He’s one of those hard-working, behind-the-scenes guys.  But now he’s embarking on a new stage of his career and it all seems fascinating. So, let’s catch up with Adam Philips in 5 and ½ questions!

Question 1:

Ed Catto: We’ve known each other a long time, Adam, but for this column, can you please give us a little background on who you are and how you came to be?

Adam Philips: Sure! I’m a lifelong comics fan – I was a Marvel zombie in the 1970s and an early proponent of the Indie comics scene. I got started in the field in the 1980s when I wrote articles for Marvel Age magazine, which led to me being hired as the assistant editor on Marvel Age, as well as the Doctor Who reprints, a Howard the Duck one-shot, and a few other Marvel projects. I also did freelance work for Archie, Eclipse, Topps, and Fantagraphics, and I even wrote about comics for Entertainment Weekly in an early issue.

After a few years in magazines, I joined Welsh Publishing Group as an editor, where I worked on titles for young readers starring Superman and Batman, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Real Ghostbusters, DuckTales, Garfield, the Simpsons, and more. I was hired by DC Comics in 1994 as their first-ever copywriter, where I conceived and wrote ads and posters. I then moved into marketing, where I ran DC’s solicitation process, created their retailer emails, and created and presented content at retailer events, and lots more. I left DC this past February.

Even after all that, I’m still a comics fan at heart! I’m currently blogging the entire run of Marvel Age at MakeMineMarvelAge, and I’m working on two comics-related podcasts that will debut soon.

Question 2:

EC:  Your new venture, Untold Stories Marketing sounds fascinating. What’s the idea behind this agency? Did you see an unmet need in the marketplace?

AP: A few months ago, I was having conversations with some comics companies about what my post-DC life might look like, and over the course of those chats we identified certain areas where they thought they could use some marketing help. That, aligned with something I’ve heard from retailers so many times, which is, “If I knew more about it, I would have ordered more.” What clicked for me was the idea of an agency that would provide information on new series to retailers so they can order with confidence and tell their customers what those titles are all about.

I’ve worked closely with publishers, writers and artists, distributors, and retailers, which makes me uniquely qualified to take a publishers’ direction, get information direct from the creative team, and use the distributors’ platforms to communicate to retailers in language they respond to.

Question 3:

EC: 3. Love the logo. What can you tell us about it?

AP: It’s orange! I worked with a friend who’s a logo designer and gave him some direction. I wanted it to have the vibe of a “Hello, my name is…” sticker, and the name itself is a play on the old “imaginary stories” and the concept of “untold stories of your favorite hero.” And I want to help creators tell their untold stories.

Question 4:

EC: Do you think it’s mandatory that an agency like Untold Stories Marketing is run by a long-time comic fan/enthusiast? Could the firm still succeed if that wasn’t the case?

AP: You probably don’t have to be a comics fan, but it helps. This is a quirky industry like no other, and while there are marketing concepts that can apply to just about anything, knowing the players and the institutions is important. There’s no substitute for familiarity with the history of the field, or with having actual relationships with retailers.

Question 5:

EC: 5. You’ve been in thick of it for a long time. What’s the most interesting thing, or the most challenging thing, about the industry today?

AP: The most interesting thing to me is the breadth of product out there. A lot of smaller publishers have come along in the past few years with some great titles – publishers like Aftershock, Ahoy, Vault, or Scout, to name just a few. That said, retailers are stretched thin in trying to keep up with it all. Helping publishers sharpen their messaging so retailers can take away what they need to know and order with confidence…well, that’s what Untold Stories Marketing is all about.

Question 5 1/2:

EC: How will your experiences at comic conventions – when they start up again – be different, Adam?

AP: I can’t wait to get back to conventions so I can run into folks like you, Ed! In the past, my convention experience tended to mostly be me running back and forth between panels, where I would run the A/V for a PowerPoint I created for DC. That let up a bit in the past couple of years, which gave me the opportunity to focus on my work as a retailer liaison. I anticipate a lot of meetings with publishers and retailers, and I’ll probably spend more time than I have in the past walking and talking in artists’ alley. And picking up some comics here and there!


You can find Untold Stories Marketing on their website or on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Steve Conley and His Astounding Space Thrills

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Steve Conley and His Astounding Space Thrills

We got the chance to catch up with cartoonist Steve Conley recently. This is an interview we have been wanting to do for some time and the timing worked out great as Steve is in the middle of a fantastic Kickstarter campaign.

Steve is best known for his multi-award nominated webcomic The Middle Age, but this time around he is collecting and printing his turn of the century webcomic Astounding Space Thrills. The campaign is doing excellent and is something you definitely want to get in on.

Please enjoy this conversation where we talk about the Kickstarter for Astounding Space Thrills, Steve’s career, the history and future of The Middle Age, and we throw in a little pop culture etymology for good measure.


Check out the trailer for the Kickstarter campaign below:

 

What is Astounding Space Thrills about?

According to Steve:

Astounding Space Thrills is a fun, retro-futuristic, sci-fi adventure following hero Argosy Smith as he solves cosmic mysteries. Think of Argosy as 1/3 The Doctor, 1/3 Buckaroo Banzaii, and 1/3 every kid who grew up playing RPGs and video games.

There are very accessible backer reward tiers and so far the campaign is blowing by the stretch goals.

It is an amazing effort that Steve is undertaking by resurrecting and remastering a webcomic that was designed to be viewed on a monitor that used a VGA cable and a computer that required a hard wired cable to a dial-up modem to get to the internet. This is definitely a labor of love and we are looking forward to seeing the final results.

In our conversation, Steve mentioned that he is willing and excited to go back to the world of Argosy Smith if the people want more of it.  I say that sounds like a great idea.

What are the important things to know?

The campaign ends on May 26, 2021.

You can find the campaign page here.

Steve’s website is steveconley.com.

You can follow Steve on Twitter at thesteveconley.

Don’t forget to check out The Middle Age as well. You can find it at Webtoon, GoComics, Tapas, or even in Kindle or Print formats on Amazon.

Steve also has a Patreon page that we highly recommend.

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comic Book Editor Heather Antos

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comic Book Editor Heather Antos

We are proud to bring you the next installment of the Pop Culture SquadCast: Interview Edition.

This episode we caught up with comics editor Heather Antos.

She  began her career as an assistant editor at Marvel Comics and is currently a Senior Editor at Valiant Entertainment. Heather’s secret origin story was recently chronicled by Kat Calamia at Newsarama.

We talked to her about a bunch of different topics including: assembling talent, editing covers, diversity in comics, the Fabulous Flo Steinberg, and much more.

We transcribed a good portion of the interview below, but there is plenty more in podcast.

You can find the audio recording of our discussion below. We hope you enjoy the conversation.


Pop Culture Squad: Let’s dive in to your work with Valiant these days.  As a comic book consumer, I have enjoyed the fresh takes on the classic Valiant characters that you have been producing over the last few years. How does the process of putting together a creative team with a direction work nowadays in that shared universe?

Heather Antos: A great example to start off with would be that when I came in I was handed Livewire. That wasn’t a story that I helped put together. I think Vita (Ayala) and Joe Illidge (the previous editor) did a great job, but that was something where I was finishing it out. I just want to respect the previous work that is done. A lot of what I did there was asking if things made sense and fit in canonically.

Quantum & Woody #1 (art by David Nakayama)

The first Valiant book that I launched was Quantum and Woody that came out in January 2020. When I joined Valiant, there were really two books that I knew I wanted, and they were Quantum and Woody and then Shadowman (which is going to be on sale in April finally). Quantum and Woody is whacky odd couple-esque type humor. Coming off of Deadpool for three years at Marvel. That is the kind of book that I excel at, and I knew exactly the creative team to go for.

Shadowman #1 (art by Jon Davis-Hunt)

For me, as an editor, I always like to give the creative teams as much freedom as possible. I am hiring Chris Hastings and Ryan Browne for a reason on Quantum and Woody. The same for Cullen Bunn and Jon Davis-Hunt on Shadowman. I want them to feel as free as possible to tell the story that they want to.

The only time that I will put the gavel down and steer the ship is in the case of something majorly universally oriented. If Quantum and Woody somehow go down to New Orleans in Shadowman’s territory, then we have to play by Shadowman’s rules and whatever is going on in that Shadowman book at that time.

Note: I tried to see if we could get some secrets about the plans for the Valiant universe out of Heather. Listen to the podcast to see if I was successful. (Ouch that is the most shameless plug I have ever written.)

PCS: One of the things that we like to do is get into the process of how comics get made and demystify it a bit. As an editor, what do you do in relation to direction and/or assignment for regular and variant covers?

HA: Every editor has a different philosophy in this regard. There are artists like Mike Del Mundo, and the way they conceptualize and think about things are just so beyond what the average human can do; so, whenever I worked with Mike on a cover I would just say, “Hey Mike? This character. You interested? Go nuts!”  He might as  a story element or two to work in, but there are absolutely artists who just do their own thing. With them, I trust that it will be good, because they have a track record.

Valiant typically has three or four covers on every issue. The main “A cover”, two variants, and a pre-order. My personal philosophy is to have the main cover have some sort of a story element in it. For example in X-O Manowar #4, we debut his new suit, and so, on that cover, you can see a new suit morphing on him but you can’t quite make it all the way out. Continue reading “Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comic Book Editor Heather Antos”

Join Host Bob Harrison for a Creator Owned Comic Panel Now

Join Host Bob Harrison for a Creator Owned Comic Panel Now

Our own Bob Harrison will be hosting a virtual panel from the Gem City Comic Con virtual event on Sunday 3/21/2021 at 2:15. Guests include comic creators: Thom Zahler, Christy Blanch, Paul Storrie, Tony Fleecs, and Emily Whitten.

The panel is being broadcast live on Facebook and YouTube.

You can find the Facebook page for the Con here:

https://www.facebook.com/GCCCON

The YouTube broadcast is below:

 

With Further Ado #137: Catching Up with Thom Zahler

With Further Ado #137: Catching Up with Thom Zahler

One of the many nice things about attending conventions was seeing familiar faces. For fans and industry professionals alike, it’s a great way to catch up with, and be inspired by, the many creative entrepreneurs of Geek Culture.

One guy that was always working hard, and doing it with his natural, movie-star smile, was Thom Zahler. Since I can’t walk up to his cool booth at San Diego Comic-Con this summer, I just had to catch up with him ..via this column!


Ed Catto: How have you been managing during the pandemic?

Thom Zahler: I’m not gonna lie. It’s been rough and interesting and everything in between.

When the lockdown first happened, I was kind of designed to be fine through the summer. I was working on season two of Cupid’s Arrows for WEBTOON and that wasn’t affected by anything. I converted the last convention-exclusive issues of Love and Capes: The Family Way into a shop-exclusive version that I was able to put out when Diamond shut down. And, when it comes to how I work at home, quarantine isn’t a lot different than normal times. I couldn’t go to the gym anymore, and everything had an extra layer of complexity, but it wasn’t a big change. I was fortunate to be close enough to my parents that I could take care of them, do their shopping, things like that. And I live in a small town where you could still go out and take walks and not run into anyone.

Losing conventions certainly hurt, as much from the emotional hit as anything else. Conventions kind of recharge me. I can see the people who read my comics and that helps fuel me to make more. The loss of the revenue stream wasn’t great. But it was manageable.

Then the summer rolled on and nothing changed, and it got a lot tighter. I’m glad I bore down and prepared for the worst, squirreling money away and preparing for the long game. It still wasn’t awesome, but it was better than the alternative. Continue reading “With Further Ado #137: Catching Up with Thom Zahler”