Category: Interviews

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comic Writer and Artist Andrew Pepoy, Creator of Simone & Ajax

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comic Writer and Artist Andrew Pepoy, Creator of Simone & Ajax

Welcome back to another spotlight interview. In this session, we spoke with comics writer, artist, and inker Andrew Pepoy.

Andrew has been working professionally in comics for over thirty years. He has worked for Marvel, DC, Archie, and Bongo Comics, among others. He is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for his creator owned property Simone & Ajax. Simone and Ajax has been around for over twenty-five years, and Andrew is working on collected edition of four new stories, plus extras and it looks fabulous.

We talked about the series and what Andrew is looking to deliver in this project as well as his history in comics. This interview is a great discussion of what is possible in the comic medium.

You can find the audio recording of our discussion below, and we transcribed a big portion of it for you as well.

We hope you enjoy the conversation.

Pop Culture Squad: Let’s talk about Simone & Ajax. The Kickstarter is live as of the publication of this interview even if we are recording it prior to the campaign launch. How long has this new project been in the works for you and what can we expect in the Kickstarter?

Andrew Pepoy: Well there is a longer answer and a shorter answer. To give you the short answer, I have been planning this for about the last year, and really focused on it for much of this year, 2020.

The long answer is that in some ways, some of the stories in here are stories I have been wanting to tell for twenty-five or thirty years since I first created the characters.

Continue reading “Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comic Writer and Artist Andrew Pepoy, Creator of Simone & Ajax”

With Further Ado #108: Virtually a Comic Con : Catching-Up with John Siuntres

With Further Ado #108: Virtually a Comic Con : Catching-Up with John Siuntres

Right now, the Democrats are working hard to create on online convention that resonates with true believers and motivates anyone still on the fence. And it’s gotta feel like an effort that’s worth it all.

American business, and specifically Geek Culture is doing the same thing. A few weeks back, San Diego Comic-Con. (officially entitled Comic-Con international) pulled together a virtual comic convention. Seem like a lot of folks participated at various levels. From a personal level I was pleasantly surprised; my typical on-location panels can fill a room of 350 fans but this year, online, they drew 5,000+ viewers!

Looking ahead to the weekend, FanDome will celebrate DC Comics, despite the depressing anguish fans felt from the recent corporate “bloodbath”.

And this past weekend, two online comic conventions debuted:

  • Reed Expo’s Metaverse – The pop culture division of Reed Elsevier (full disclosure; I worked there and frequently collaborate with them) created this online event which many thought, at first, to be a dress rehearsal for the virtual New York Comic Con in October.
  • Mainframe Comic Con – This live event virtual comic con from YouTubers Chuck Lindsey from Chuckload of Comics and Chad Ramsden of Comic Corps looked like a lot of fun. I really enjoyed a few panels. And it was all made better by the fact that this con’s Big Ideas is to support that worthwhile charity, The Hero Initiative.

Continue reading “With Further Ado #108: Virtually a Comic Con : Catching-Up with John Siuntres”

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comics Colorist Chris Sotomayor

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comics Colorist Chris Sotomayor

Welcome back to another spotlight interview. In this session, we spoke with comics colorist, artist, and teacher Christopher Sotomayor.

Chris has been part of the comic industry for twenty-five years. He has done a lot of work for Marvel and DC, including long runs on Captain Marvel, Nightwing, The Hulk, and more. You can find him currently doing colors for Deadpool, Batman Beyond, and The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage.

Chris teaches the online comic coloring classes with Comics Experience and has a new session coming up next month.

While we have interviewed Chris before, we reached out to him again to get his perspective on how the pandemic is affecting his work and the current state of the comics industry.

You can find the audio recording of our discussion below, and we transcribed a big portion of it for you as well.

We hope you enjoy the conversation.

Download

Pop Culture Squad: Let’s get started with talking about the books you working on these days.

Chris Sotomayor: I am working on whole range of different things, and I am excited about most of them. I want to say all of them, but if I am being honest, I am excited about most of them.

PCS: That is fine. We had talked about that Batman Beyond is coming to an end. Are you finished with it? Continue reading “Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comics Colorist Chris Sotomayor”

With Further Ado #107: The Marvelous Mister Beard

With Further Ado #107: The Marvelous Mister Beard

I’ve known Jim Beard for a while. He’s a dedicated creative writer with a plethora of passionate interests . He’s got his fingers in many pies, and I’m always excited when he teases new projects. We’ve worked together a few times, and I’m especially a big fan of his Sgt. Janus series.

With all that as background, there’s another writing gig that keeps Jim busy.  He’s been a writer for Marvel.com for years. It’s fascinating stuff, and I had to corral him and find out the story behind these stories.

Ed Catto: How did you get involved with Marvel.com?

Jim Beard: I tried to approach Marvel about writing for the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe series from back in the day, and they replied they didn’t currently have any openings, but did I possibly write press releases? I thought, huh, doesn’t sound too hard, and lied and told them yes. So, for about a year or so I wrote Marvel press releases for a variety of things and eventually they moved me over to the “dot com” to write content for that. Been there ever since.

EC: And how long have you been doing the “Didja Know?’ column for Marvel? 

JB: Every single week for, oh, I believe at least sixteen-seventeen years now? Longest job I’ve ever had, come to think of it now. Continue reading “With Further Ado #107: The Marvelous Mister Beard”

With Further Ado #105: Sharing SDCC’s Secret Traditions

With Further Ado #105: Sharing SDCC’s Secret Traditions

The San Diego Comic-Con is many things to many people.  For the business community, it’s an incredible commerce success story.  For fans and collectors, it’s both a celebration and a validation.   For entrepreneurs, it can be an enjoyable way to drive revenue quickly. For the entertainment community, it’s a fantastic marketing venue. For the entertainment community in Los Angeles and Hollywood, it’s also a great excuse to get outta town.

And for so many folks, professionals and fans alike, it’s an opportunity to spend time with 200,000+ of your closest friends.  It’s an annual journey to a real-life Disney World, mixed with a hefty dose of your best days on a college campus and the most incredible state fair ever, where the main dish on the menu is “all the stuff you love.”

This year, as the nation and the world struggles with Covid-19, the folks behind the convention shifted gears quickly to morph the show into a virtual convention. We’ll all be analyzing that for a while, but one refrain I heard time and time again was not so much how folks missed the big events, but how they missed the little things.

I reached out to a group of fascinating folks and asked them to share some of their more personal stories and traditions from their annual pilgrimage to San Diego Comic-Con and the little things they miss this year.

* * *

Rob Salkowitz is the author of Comic-Con and the Business of Geek Culture  (I use this as a textbook for one of my college classes)  a consultant  and a sayer of things. He wistfully remembers one tradition he and his wife Eunice especially hold dear:

Our oldest and longest running SDCC tradition is the Tuesday night dinner we instituted with Batton Lash and Jackie Estrada back in 2000, maybe earlier. We were fans with no industry connections whatsoever. They befriended us, introduced us to pros, made us formally part of the Eisner Award staff and brought us into the circle of Comic-Con. After we lost Batton a couple of years ago we continued with Jackie. We really miss seeing her in person this year.

Continue reading “With Further Ado #105: Sharing SDCC’s Secret Traditions”

Comic-Con at Home Panel – Denny O’Neil Tribute

Comic-Con at Home Panel – Denny O’Neil Tribute

With this year’s Comic-Con International (#ComicConAtHome)being virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic, all the panels that were intended to be live and onsite are now available to everyone on YouTube.

With that being the case we are proud to share with you the Denny O’Neil retrospective which includes PCS’s own Mike Gold.

 

With Further Ado #104: Johnny Dynamite Is Back

With Further Ado #104: Johnny Dynamite Is Back

Back in the day, I was a big fan of Ms. Tree by Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty. I liked hard-boiled fiction (and still do), but this comic was different.  Somehow Collins and Beatty took everything that private-eye fans liked, jumbled it all up and delivered a new series that seemed fresh as a counterfeit sawbuck and as enticing as a nightclub singer’s over-the-shoulder wink.

Collins and Beatty developed a rapport with the readers, and soon we all began to understand the stuff that influenced their work on Ms. Tree.  Soon it become clear that it all started with the hard-boiled detective author Mickey Spillane, although there was a little Dragnet in there too.  They also revealed they were influenced by a 50s Private Eye comic series, Johnny Dynamite.

Johnny Dynamite was a character who – “ahem” – borrowed many of the attributes of Spillane’s detective, Mike Hammer. Ms. Tree comics reprinted the old Johnny Dynamite  stories, and the character Johnny Dynamite even ended up crossing paths with Ms. Tree. Eventually, Collins and Beatty created a new Johnny Dynamite mini-series (with great Mitch O’Connell covers).

And it’s taken a while, but now, in the summer of 2020, there’s an explosive new Johnny Dynamite collection just published by the good folks at Yoe Books. It’s a stunner.

I reached out to Max Allan Collins to provide some details: Continue reading “With Further Ado #104: Johnny Dynamite Is Back”

With Further Ado #102: Interview with F.J. DeSanto about Bleed Them Dry

With Further Ado #102: Interview with F.J. DeSanto about Bleed Them Dry

Bleed Them Dry is a new comic series created by Hiroshi Koizumi, written by Eliot Rahal and illustrated by Dike Ruan, with colors and letters by Miguel Muerto and AndWorld Design, respectively . It’s published by one of those industrious “upstart” publishers, Vault Comics. This one looks like fun, and I appreciated the new twists and turns the creators brought to the party.

It turns out my old buddy F.J. DeSanto is involved with this one. Recently, as an invited guest speaker (via ZOOM) he enthralled my Ithaca College students  (and me!) with insights into his work developing comics (Vagrant Queen) and big properties (Transformers, Shazam) and bringing them to the screen. After enjoying the first issue of Bleed Them Dry, I was eager to catch-up with him and learn more about it.

Ed Catto:  How do you describe Bleed Them Dry to folks who ask, “What is this is about?”

F.J. DeSanto: I can usually hook someone with two simple words: Ninja Vampire.

EC: What makes Bleed Them Dry different from other vampire or sci-fi, or even cop stories? Continue reading “With Further Ado #102: Interview with F.J. DeSanto about Bleed Them Dry”

Kickstarter You Should Be Backing: Maybe Someday by A Wave Blue World

Kickstarter You Should Be Backing: Maybe Someday by A Wave Blue World

Hey folks. It’s that time again. It’s time to tell you a about a Kickstarter campaign that you should be backing. We search the current Kickstarter campaigns, and when we find one we feels needs a little boost, we let you know about it.

The project we are spotlighting is Maybe Someday: Stories of Promise, Visions of Hope by A Wave Blue World. It is a comic anthology full of inspiring, forward-looking stories for tomorrow.

 

 

The campaign description states:

MAYBE SOMEDAY: STORIES OF PROMISE, VISIONS OF HOPE is a full-color anthology featuring over 25 inspiring stories about a brighter future. It is also the sequel to the New York Times featured and Ringo Award Nominated anthology, ALL WE EVER WANTED.

Like its predecessor, MAYBE SOMEDAY features stories full of hope. Instead of focusing on dystopian fiction, these stories help show the path forward to a better world. It is edited by Matt Miner, Eric Palicki & Tyler Chin-Tanner and published by A Wave Blue World.

As we were already fans of All We Ever Wanted and the publisher’s other anthologies, including Dead Beats, we wanted to do what we could to support this project we reached out to the editors Tyler Chin-Tanner, Eric Palicki, and Matt Miner to get some more info on this book.


Pop Culture Squad: What about the current state of the world makes this the right time for an anthology like this?

Matt:  If I could gesticulate wildly to EVERYTHING, maybe?  For decades we fantasized about the post apocalyptic and authoritarian worlds, because they make for fun stories – but we’re starting to really live in that scary future that used to be the thing of movies, and for some folks it’s never been that great.  I think a little positivity and hope is a much needed thing right now.

Eric: I’m fond of a turn of phrase Matt used to describe the mission statement of our first volume, ALL WE EVER WANTED. Our goal was to tell science fiction stories that were “less Mad Max, more Star Trek.” Now, I look out my front door and I see a world practically on fire, and people not too far removed from Immortan Joe in positions of power. We don’t need to dramatize the dystopia we’re already living in, which makes now the perfect time to start thinking less about what the present is and more about what the future could be. Continue reading “Kickstarter You Should Be Backing: Maybe Someday by A Wave Blue World”

Squadcast Spotlight Interview with No Heroine writer Frank Gogol

Squadcast Spotlight Interview with No Heroine writer Frank Gogol

Welcome back to another spotlight interview. In this session, we talked with comic writer Frank Gogol.

Frank Gogol is a comic writer who if following up the hit series Dead End Kids with his latest creator-owned story, No Heroine. He is an alumnus of the Comic Experience program and also produced the Ringo Award nominated anthology Grief. All three of those books are published by Source Point Press.

No Heroine is a three issue mini-series on which he is working with Chris Madd on art, with colors by Shawna Madd and letters by Sean Rinehart.

We spoke to Frank in May, and below, is the result of that conversation.

You can find the audio recording of our discussion below, and we transcribed a big portion of it for you as well.

We hope you enjoy the conversation.

Download

Pop Culture Squad: Frank! Welcome back to Pop Culture Squad.

Frank Gogol: Good to see you again or to hear you again, I suppose.

PCS: Sure. So, let’s start out with this. We are on the verge of a new “Frank Gogol” story. What do you want people to know about No Heroine, in terms of the story?

FG: That is a big question. I’ve been talking about this book for, what is it the middle of May, for about six months now, and I still don’t really know how to say everything succinctly. I guess, this is my love letter to Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. I grew up on Buffy. I started watching Buffy, the Vampire Slayer way too young. I was eight when it premiered in 1997, and I’ve been watching it pretty religiously ever since.

So, I was a little too young for it, but I watched it and knew sort of immediately, instinctively, it was something different, something special. I always loved the storytelling, and it has definitely informed my storytelling. Joss [Whedon] is a dark guy. He writes these stories, and he really sticks the knife in and twists it. I think that’s the stories I try to tell. It’s definitely the case in No Heroine. It doesn’t pull a lot of punches, it’s a dark book about a young woman dealing with drug recovery, and there are vampires too, I guess. But that isn’t really the point.

PCS: I think that is a good starting point. This book is clearly not the slice-of-life or reality-based books that I have read of yours. How did you find having the shackles of human-only characters being removed? As you said, it’s not necessarily a vampire book. There are vampires in it, but there ARE vampires in it?

FG: When I starting writing four years ago last month, and I remember about that time right before and right after. I was sort of setting down some sort of principles or pillars for myself as a writer, like the kind of stories I want to tell and the things that I would not do and things I would do. One of the things I said I would do, and I think I stuck to this pretty well, was to tell character forward stories and have a genre and action take a back seat in favor of really good character work. Weather its good or not, it’s definitely taken a front seat. Definitely in Dead End Kids and definitely in Grief.

In this book, I wanted to do the same thing. So, the vampires are not an afterthought in the story but an afterthought in the creation of the story. I wanted to tell a story that gave a fair and honest, sort of “gray space”, look at the recovery part of addiction. We have a lot of pop culture that deals with addiction. We see this sort of phase of people’s lives where they are using drugs, and we see the rehabilitation phase quite a bit, but we don’t usually see the part that comes next, which is, for the people who find success in rehab, the recovery phases. Continue reading “Squadcast Spotlight Interview with No Heroine writer Frank Gogol”