Category: Interviews

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”

Spotlight SquadCast Interview: Vito Delsante Has a Kickstarter You Need to See

Spotlight SquadCast Interview: Vito Delsante Has a Kickstarter You Need to See

We have another great interview to bring to you. This one is with comic writer Vito Delsante. He has a current Kickstarter campaign in progress for the long awaited graphic novel World War Mob: La Collezione Completa .

We spent some time discussing the origins of this comic project. It sounds and looks fantastic. We highly recommend backing this project.

The elevator pitch for the book is simple.

“It’s the mob from the 1930’s, they take a hit out on Benito Mussolini and I think it is pretty self explanatory from there. If I am worth any kind of salt as writer, there will be obviously nuance involved, but I will let the audience suss that out as they read it.”

The goal of the campaign is to complete and print the book that had been solicited a few years ago but never made it to print.

Artist Giancarlo Caracuzzo is utilizing a fantastic watercolor style bring a unique look to this book.

The Kickstarter campaign ends in twelve days on January 27, 2021, and this is one that you won’t want to miss. The rewards for this project are reasonably priced and as we discussed in the SquadCast, this is one of the projects that you want to see succeed because it deserves to be in the world.

Take a listen to our conversation for more about the history and content of this interesting comic project.

Of course, Vito and I discussed his creator owned book Stray that he developed with co-creator and artist Sean Izaakse. We talked about the plans for the next volume of Stray that he hope to get going this year with artist Marcelo Mueller.

For more of my feelings about Stray check out the Continued After The Next Page column that I wrote about it.

Fans of ’80s comics will enjoy the last third of the SquadCast as we dive into collecting X-Men comics, and you will find out what Chris Claremont has to do with “Luke and Laura” and “Bo and Hope”.


Here is some more art from the Kickstarter campaign.

World War Two! Five men, all members of different crime families, all US soldiers, undertake a clandestine mission ordered by the heads of the Five Families; for crimes against the Mafia, Benito Mussolini must be killed! They must overcome bad blood and family rivalries, the Nazis and the men loyal to Il Duce, and go behind the Army brass’ backs to do it for “La Cosa Nostra!


 

 

 


You can follow Vito’s work at www.incogvito.com

He is @Incognvito on Twitter and Instagram.

And for updated information on what is going on with Stray follow the Facebook page or the Kickstarter page.

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comic Book Writer Erica Schultz

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comic Book Writer Erica Schultz

We have another great interview to bring to you. A few weeks ago, I had a chance to have a conversation with comic book writer and editor Erica Schultz.

In the past couple of years her writing credits have really started to pile up. She has written for DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Red 5 Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, her own label Vices Press, and more.

Erica also has taught lettering for Comics Experience and is currently an instructor at the Kubert School.

Her creator owned comic series Forgotten Home, with art by Marika Cresta, was published as a Comixology Original, and she is currently writing The Legacy of Mandrake, the Magician for Red 5 Comics.

We talked about her process and her latest projects. It was a fun interview and Erica is a fantastic storyteller.

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.

 


PopCultureSquad: Let’s start off with the newest book that you have released. The Legacy of Mandrake the Magician. You are writing with art by Diego Giribaldi was released on October 28th. It is wonderful. Can you tell us how it came about?

Erica Schultz: Actually Stonebot Comics approached me. In the summer of last year, I was approached by Matias Timarchi, and he wanted to know my availability for a possible project about a “legacy” character. Like with a lot of projects, when people reach out, they don’t give all the details of the projects that they are planning because of NDAs and stuff like that.

He asked if I was familiar with Mandrake, and I said that I was familiar with the character, but I am not like a super-fan or anything, and I would have to do some research. He mentioned that they were going to be updating the character. It wasn’t going to be a reboot of Mandrake. It was going to be a legacy character.

PCS: What type of framework did they give you for that?

ES: They actually had been working with another writer prior, so I was given kind of a story bible. I was told to use it as a guide. So I came up with some stuff. Some of it we used in the final story, and others they pushed back on because I think that there was a specific direction that they wanted to go with.

I had a lot of fun working on the character. I read a bunch of the old strips so that I could get an idea about the world. Also, in the original series, Mandrake’s powers and abilities aren’t really defined. It is almost as if he has whatever ability he needs at that particular time.

PCS: Right, well, back then the didn’t worry about people going on blogs and complaining how things didn’t match.

ES: Exactly, so I wanted to set some parameters and a framework. The fact that the main character Mandy is just learning her abilities, that helps. She is not able to just snap her fingers and everything gets done. She has stops and starts.

I think that having a teenage girl, who is dealing with not just trying to get a handle on these abilities, but also trying to get a handle on life, is fun, and there is a lot of potential there and a lot of different avenues that you can go down.

PCS: What is the publishing plan for Mandrake? Is it a limited series?

ES: Well, there is a #0 issue that is free on Comixology.com. That is the digital only intro. It is a one and done, but it introduces the character. As of right now, this is a mini-series. We have discussed more, but we are not technically doing more at this point. The #0 issue and the four-issue mini-series will be collected in a trade, for now.

PCS: The opening issue is a great set up, and it feels like there will be some serious hurdles for Mandy?

ES: Yes. High School sucks! She and her mom both really love each other, but they are very strong personalities, and that tends to cause conflict. Her mom has very specific things that she wants for Mandy. Mandy is first generation American, and coming from an immigrant family myself, this idea that you have to go to college and be better than I did, is sort of sticking point between Mandy and Mabel, her mom. Mabel has a more traditional tract that she want Mandy to go in. Mandy is wondering if she wants” the normal life.”

Check out the audio for some exploration about how expectations of maturing are changing and what Erica thinks about how it works in Mandrake.

Continue reading “Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comic Book Writer Erica Schultz”

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comics Writer Justin Jordan

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comics Writer Justin Jordan

Today, we bring you a new spotlight interview. In this session, we spoke with comics writer Justin Jordan.

Justin has been a professional comic book writer for over a decade now and is the co-creator of fan favorite indie comics The Strange Talent of Luther Strode, which has recently been optioned as film by Allnighter, and Spread among others. He has worked for DC Comics and Valiant Entertainment as well as other licensed properties while developing his creator owned comics.

In collaboration with artist John Amor and letterer Micah Myers, Justin has been publishing the webcomic Urban Animal on Webtoon.com for a couple of years now. He and John are bringing the webcomic to print through a kickstarter campaign in conjunction with Rocketship Entertainment. The campaign has hit its initial funding goal already and there are over 10 days to go before it ends.

We had a great conversation about the origins of Urban Animal, and his career. We talked about how this year has been different for everyone. 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.


PopCultureSquad: Let’s talk about the kickstarter for Urban Animal. What are you looking to accomplish and how does that work with Webtoon, who publishes the digital comic on their platform?

Justin Jordan: Well John Amor and I do a series called Urban Animal over at Webtoon.com. It’s about Joe Gomez who thinks he’s an ordinary kid until one day he turns into a sabre toothed tiger and finds out his life gets a whole lot weirder from there. Continue reading “Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Comics Writer Justin Jordan”

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with The Steve Orlando of Comics

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with The Steve Orlando of Comics

Welcome back to another spotlight interview. In this session, we spoke with comics writer Steve Orlando.

Steve has recently fulfilled his exclusive contract with DC Comics and is planning his expansion into lots of new types of projects and genres. He is well known for his work on Midnighter and Martian Manhunter, but also wrote Justice League of America, Unexpected, Electric Warriors, Wonder Woman, and others. He has written Crude for Image Comics, and Dead Kings for AfterShock Comics which were well reviewed here at Pop Culture Squad.

His latest bold project is a collaboration with artist Davide Tinto called Commanders in Crisis, and it debuts this week from Image Comics.

We has a wide ranging discussion of his past work, his influences, and how he views himself in society. It was a wild conversation and one that defies the written word. I tried to pull some highlights as you will see in the abridged transcription below, but this is an interview that needs to be heard.

Steve is a fascinating man and incredibly talented writer who knows what he wants to say and has done an excellent job of accomplishing that up to this point.

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


Squadcast Highlights:

Pop Culture Squad: You said that Commanders In Crisis “is a fight for comics as they need to be.” What does that mean?

Steve Orlando: Commanders in Crisis will give you hope. It will talk about the current moment, and it will do so with some wild comic book s#!t that you could never see at DC.

PCS: What was it like working with Philip Kennedy Johnson on To Kill A Man, soon to be released from AfterShock Comics.

SO: I love working with [Philip]. We make each other better. I am very proud of that book. I think it’s one of the best if not THE best thing that I have been part of as a collaboration, and a lot of that is because [Philip] and I aren’t precious about s#!t. We sort of know when to lean in and lean out so that everything feels real and authentic. Continue reading “Spotlight SquadCast Interview with The Steve Orlando of Comics”

With Further Ado #115: Overstreet and the Hero Initiative

With Further Ado #115: Overstreet and the Hero Initiative

I’ve often said that The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide is more than just a much-anticipated book release with a bunch of back issue prices. It’s really an annual book release wrapped up as a pop culture celebration. Every year, collectors look forward to the new edition and opine on which cover – Gemstone Publishing releases many cover options each year – is their favorite.

But there’s another tradition within this tradition- a special charitable tradition that’s been going on for a decade. I caught up with Gemstone’s J.C. Vaughn, Gemstone’s V.P. of Publishing, to get the skinny!


 EC: Can you explain to me exactly what these Hero Initiative Editions are and how they work?

 JCV: Each year, beginning with The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #40 in 2010, we produce a limited, hardcover-only edition of 500 copies of the Guide exclusively for the Hero Initiative, always with covers by top artists. Hero and their affiliates are the only source for these books. Gemstone Publishing does not sell them, and as a matter of fact, we don’t take a penny for them, and neither do our printers. All of the proceeds go to the Hero Initiative. Continue reading “With Further Ado #115: Overstreet and the Hero Initiative”

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”