Category: Interviews

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.

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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”

With Further Ado #98: The Comics Prisoner with David Miller

With Further Ado #98: The Comics Prisoner with David Miller

Passion is a funny thing. And being passionate about things often leads to sharing and teaching. Sometimes it forces us to become a guide, or a Sherpa, and then we can learn new things and drag other people with us along the way. That’s kind of what this column is all about, when I think of it.

David Miller is a professional with great success in several fields, including inking for comics.  He started out on things like one series in the Teen Titans family of titles at DC Comics, several books at Defiant Comics and went on from there.  But after even the briefest of conversations with Miller, it is very clear he’s a person who just loves the medium.

He’s also very thoughtful. One of the big “Ah-hah’s” that he recently had was that comics, unlike movies, can be experienced in many different ways. To experience a movie, you really must experience it one way: you sit and watch the film as the creators intended.

But comics are different. When you’re young, you might enjoy following the characters. Then you might graduate to understanding long-running and inter-connected stories. Another way to enjoy this medium is to read a comic because you enjoy one particular artist, or writer…or even an inker or a colorist.  With even more understanding, you might enjoy a comic as part of one particular time period.

That’s where Miller’s clever new YouTube show, The Comics Prisoner, comes in. The premise is simple: he’s stuck inside his favorite comics pages …but is allowed to talk about them with us!  It’s a fascinating way to experience, re-experience, ruminate or learn about comics pages. Continue reading “With Further Ado #98: The Comics Prisoner with David Miller”

With Further Ado #97: What is Graham Nolan up to?

With Further Ado #97: What is Graham Nolan up to?

Back in my college days, I dated this intoxicatingly beautiful blonde who went to school at Buffalo State College. One time, when I was visiting her, it was during a vicious snowstorm.  It was nothing new for Buffalo, but I was astounded. There was so much snow.  In fact, I still remember the local kids throwing snowballs at my bus as it rolled into town. The amazing part was that the kids were throwing down at the bus. The snow along the roads was heaped so high that it was higher than the bus!

Comics creator Graham Nolan had a similar cold-weather experience in Buffalo, but the difference is that it sparked his uber-creative mind, and he has created a new comic from his wintery experience.  The Chenoo is his newest project. The backstory is fascinating. Nolan’s approach to business is ambitious, and I’m betting comic itself will be a pretty good read too.

A Hidden Entrepreneur

One of the courses I teach at Ithaca College is called Hidden Entrepreneurs. The basic premise is that not every entrepreneur is like ‘that guy’ who shows up in front of the sharks on TV’s Shark Tank. Continue reading “With Further Ado #97: What is Graham Nolan up to?”

With Further Ado #96: Heavy Metal – Your One Way Ticket To Midnight

With Further Ado #96: Heavy Metal – Your One Way Ticket To Midnight

Way back in the 80s, when I was in college, it wasn’t really cool to read comics. Of course, I didn’t stop reading them. Occasionally, I’d lend my comics to my classmates so they could read them, but for the most parts, Marvel-type superheroes were viewed as silly or childish by many college students.

It’s funny, but I still remember having to scold Brian Winke (he lived down the hallway of dormitory) when he bent back the cover of my copy of Avengers #217.  I gave him a friendly lesson on the tragedy of spine roll and how it destroyed the condition of comic.   Clearly, comics were important to me, cool or not.

The one comic that I was never paused to read ‘in public’ was Heavy Metal. It was filled with strong art and adult themes.  Although, to be fair, “adult themes” often translated simply to excessive violence and topless robot girls.

The story I really enjoyed back then was Jim Steranko’s adaptation of Outland. That was a science fiction movie starring Sean Connery that was essentially High Noon in space.  It was serialized over a few issues, and Steranko was delivering stunning top-of-his-game pages each and every time.

But I inevitably drifted away from Heavy Metal over the years. Somehow, I’d categorize it as something adjacent to comics, but not really include it as part of my core comics purchases.

Now, in 2020, that might all change.  There’s a new sheriff in town.  Matt Medney is the new Chief Executive Officer of Heavy Metal. I caught up with him and he pulled back the curtain to share his vision and his plans for Heavy Metal. Continue reading “With Further Ado #96: Heavy Metal – Your One Way Ticket To Midnight”

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Writer Joe Harris

Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Writer Joe Harris

Welcome back to another spotlight interview. In this session, we spoke with award-winning comics creator and screenwriter Joe Harris.

Joe has a written a new comic, Disaster, Inc., debuting this week from AfterShock Comics. It is drawn and colored by Sebastián Piriz and lettered by Carlos Mangual.

He has written for Marvel, DC, Image, IDW, and Storm King Comics, among others. He is well known for shepherding the return of The X-Files to comics at IDW beginning in 2013. Some of his other titles include: Great Pacific, Snowfall, Rockstars, Slingers, and Surviving Nuclear Attack.

Harris also wrote the screenplay to Sony Pictures’ Darkness Falls. His style is very character centered and his creator owned work tends to cling to the horror or speculative fiction genres.

We were excited to get a chance to talk to him about his writing process and also how he is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic while living in New York City.

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.

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Pop Culture Squad: So, thanks for doing this. Before we get into anything, how are you feeling?

Joe Harris: I feel good. I’m looking into getting an antibody test soon. So, I can know, one way or another, if I have had COVID-19 or not. I was symptomatic a few weeks ago. I think you remember. So, who knows.

PCS: Well, I am pretty confident that you had it based on the symptoms you were describing. You documented the illness while you were in isolation, and then you sort of disappeared for a day. It’s scary, and it is a scary time for everyone. For all those people who are down playing the seriousness of it, people are dying. You live in the center of the worst of it.
What’s that like being in New York right now?

JH: Um, Kind of surreal. I mean, at this point, it’s kind of shocking at how normal everything has become… There are things you’ll probably get angry about this stuff no matter where you go. You probably see somebody not wearing masks. You’ll see people that aren’t keeping adequate distance, but for the most part New York, I think, by and large, considering how big it is, has done a decent job.

I don’t know how that comes out in the wash when you think about the amount of dead and the number of infected, but it seems like at least for a stretch the city was doing what it could. It is a little less desolate now though. I can hear more people out on the street. I don’t hear as many ambulances.

Which makes sense considering, that the emergency rooms aren’t has overrun as they apparently were. I don’t know when we come out of this. It’s been a little surreal. So, it’s hard to imagine how everything goes right back to normal. That much I don’t see; I don’t know what would looks like or what that will feel like. The city just kind of adapts. I haven’t been down in the subway in months, and I expect it will be sometime before I am again.

PCS: Let’s get into some comic stuff. We know that Disaster, Inc. is the first book that Aftershock is going to be shipping through Diamond when the restart happens on May 20th. So, what do you want to tell people about the book? Continue reading “Spotlight SquadCast Interview with Writer Joe Harris”

With Further Ado #092: Down These Mean Streets with MAX ALLAN COLLINS (part 2)

With Further Ado #092: Down These Mean Streets with MAX ALLAN COLLINS (part 2)

Let’s start with a beer. Shall we?

In the old days, Miller Lite TV Commercials presented the world as one big party for adult men. The long-running, phenomenally successful marketing campaign featured retired sports stars laughing, drinking and teasing one another. It was kind of a secret fraternity that wasn’t so secret. Anyone could join, and all you needed was Lite beer. It was fun, playful and good natured.

Among all the sports stars, two decidedly non-sports celebrities stood out – comedian Rodney Dangerfield, enjoying a bombastic second act to his career, and mystery writer Mickey Spillane.

Mystery writer Mickey Spillane? Really? We think of celebrity fiction writers, and it’s hard to conjure up their image.  F. Scott Fitzgerald? James Patterson? What do they look like? I guess most of us know what Stephen King or J.K. Rowling look like. Maybe we all would recognize Hemingway or Truman Capote.  But America was drinking beer and kidding around with one particular writer. Mickey Spillane was in our living rooms –  during every commercial break – when we were watching sitcoms and ball games, for years and years. Continue reading “With Further Ado #092: Down These Mean Streets with MAX ALLAN COLLINS (part 2)”

With Further Ado #091: Down These Mean Streets with MAX ALLAN COLLINS (part 1)

With Further Ado #091: Down These Mean Streets with MAX ALLAN COLLINS (part 1)

I like a lot of detective heroes found in books, movies and TV shows. Part of the fun of an adventure with any of Philip Marlowe, Jim Rockford, Pete Fernandez, Spenser, or Myron Bolitar is that I think it would be fun to hang out with that guy.  Even the heroes who are a bit prickly, like Sherlock Holmes or Stumptown’s Dex Parios, would still be a riot to run around with for an adventure or two. They are all so likeable.

But I never used to like Mike Hammer, the toughest of the tough guy detectives.  I knew he was a big deal and his novels, written by Mickey Spillane, were successful. I would learn later that, at one point, Spillane was the world’s best-selling author, having written seven of the top ten best-selling novels. It turns out that it happened was when he had only written seven novels.

Yes, this guy Spillane was seven for seven. Incredible, right?

I think that, initially, the character Hammer was just too brutal for me. He gave the bad guys what they deserved, however gruesome.  He always “colored outside the lines” of both the legal system and good taste. Unlike that classical 1930s and 1940s detective who would walk down those mean streets like a modern day knight of the round table, adhering to a personal code of honor, Spillane’s Mike Hammer took it way over the edge.

But my perception changed when I started reading the “new” Mike Hammer novels.  After an incredible writing career, and second act in a long-lived Miller Lite advertising campaign, Mickey Spillane left behind a treasure trove of partially-finished stories, and story ideas, that he only trusted one man to finish – Max Allan Collins.

Max Allan Collins has emerged as one of the top mystery writers in his own right. He’s incredibly prolific, and it’s astounding that he never seems let his level quality slip; not in any of his novels (Nate Heller, Quarry), comics (Ms. Tree, Batman), adaptations (CSI, Criminal Minds) and comic strips (Dick Tracy, Batman.) You might also know he was the guy wrote the brilliant graphic novel, The Road To Perdition, which also became a movie starring Tom Hanks. Continue reading “With Further Ado #091: Down These Mean Streets with MAX ALLAN COLLINS (part 1)”

With Further Ado #90 : The Prescience of Comic-Con

With Further Ado #90 : The Prescience of Comic-Con

Sunday’s New York Times had one of those stunning stories that “everyone” already knew about. The print version headline screamed “Despite Timely Alerts, Trump Was Slow to Act” across five columns. (Headlines that stretch over all six columns are deemed the most important news stories).  This article, written by Eric Lipton, Maggie Haberman and other reporters, details how many top officials tried – for two months – to warn the president of the coming pandemic and were, tragically, ignored or told to “stop panicking”.

As usual, Geek Culture was way ahead of the curve.

At last July’s San Diego Comic-Con (officially called Comic-Con International), there was a panel called Art of Infection: Fictional Diseases, Real Life. The intent of this panel was to focus on depictions of infectious diseases in literature, and how the real world would react to such events.

Panelists included Kelley Boston, an epidemiology and infection prevention expert who works for Infection Prevention & Management Associates of Houston, Bobbiejean Garcia, an epidemiologist at Texas State Department of State Health Services, Debesh Das, an infection prevention specialist in the California healthcare system and Tyler Houston, representing arts and culture. Continue reading “With Further Ado #90 : The Prescience of Comic-Con”