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”
The Harvey-nominated superhero romantic comedy Love and Capes is taking on an unlikely foe: the coronavirus. In the recently-released free online comic, the heroes and their families take a light-hearted look at lockdown, masks, social distancing and all the other hardships of the last year.
“I was living through the lockdown like everyone else and have been keeping it out of the comics I was writing hoping it’d be over before it was an issue,” says series creator Thom Zahler. “Obviously, that didn’t happen. And then I got to thinking about how my Love and Capes characters would deal with the world today… and before I knew it, I had twenty pages of ideas.”
Zahler used this latest chapter of Love and Capes to launch a Patreon campaign. It quickly found an audience, and a new page appears every Thursday. For the New Year, Zahler has decided to make the older pages available for free on his website. Each Monday, a new page will be released to the public.
“Writing and drawing this story has helped me deal with the way things are right now. I think, even separated, we have a lot of shared experiences and there’s a lot of humor to be found in them. I hope it becomes a little moment of respite for everyone who reads it.”
The Patreon continues to provide members-only content, too, including weekly sketches voted on by Patrons, “Lost Tales” of pitches than never became comics, and more.
This is not the first pandemic-related Love and Capes venture. In the early days of March when comic companies and distribution centers were shut down, Zahler created a direct-to-shops version of the six-issue series Love and Capes: The Family Way and got those to local stores, even including local store branding on each cover. The books were printed with the assistance of Jones Printing in Eastlake, Ohio.
Thom Zahler lives in Northeast Ohio and has been creating comics for over fifteen years. Love and Capes launched as a hybrid print and web comic in 2005. Since then, the series has been self-published by Zahler’s imprint, Maerkle Press, and by IDW who also publishes the collections. The latest, Love and Capes: The Family Way, came out in November of last year. He also created the Webtoon series Warning Label and Cupid’s Arrows, and writes for IDW’s My Little Pony series.
Link to Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/thomzahler
Well, we made it to the end of 2020. I am sure that it didn’t turn out like any of us expected. There have been plenty of low lights, and there are too many people who have been irrevocably harmed by the local and global tragedies that happened this year. That is awful.
However, someone told me something recently that stuck with me. Despite the horrible dumpster fire that 2020 has brought, your mental health can benefit from the activity of looking at the good things that happened in this past year. So, that is what this final post of 2020 will be about.
This year I finally got off my tush and started presenting the interviews that I do with comic book professionals in a podcast format. In the past, I had merely transcribed the interview, but I found that there was more interesting content in the discussions that people would enjoy that didn’t quite fit in a text post.
So, I went to Buzzsprout and created a hosting site for the Pop Culture SquadCast: Interview Edition. I learned enough of Audacity to edit the interviews and splice some sound together, and here we are.
I need to say thanks to our artistic genius Marc Allan Fishman for the logo and episode art. Also Space In Time is the band that we use for the intro and closing music. You can check there music out at Bandcamp.
And of course, thanks to the pros who to took the time to talk to me about their work.
While all of you Pop Culture Squad Members know about our digital presence here on the site and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, there is now physical printed evidence that Pop Culture Squad exists. On the back covers of two trade paperback collections, I have blurb quotes for reviews.
I cannot tell you how awesome it is to see my name on a comic book. I could not even have ever imagined that five years ago.
Both of these books are special to me. Hyperbreed from Louise Simonson and Guy Dorian is a fun YA space story from Storm King Comics. Did you notice that? My name is on a book written by THE Louise Simonson!!!!
I have been following the Love and Capes stories that Thomas Zahler creates for years, and when he told me last year that he would be coming back to that universe, I was stoked. He totally made it work, and I am grateful for his putting my review blurb on the back of the book in some seriously impressive company.
The Comics Industry Adapts and Supports Itself
This year has hit the comics industry hard. Publishers and retailers had to deal with a nearly two month shutdown of new comics distribution. But through it all, people worked hard to support each other and save the industry that relies a lot on in-person contact.
So many great new comics were made and you can check out our list of the years best here.
Fundraisers and charity auctions popped up all over the place. We detailed some of those as they occurred.
Give Comics Hope is one of the charities that we highlighted through the year and will continue to do so.
There were plenty of Kickstarter campaigns launched to find different ways to publish and create comic book content. You better believe that we covered them.
Conventions Happened… Sort of
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit America hard in March, comic conventions were scrapped as we all needed to isolate to stop the spread of the dangerously contagious disease. But plenty of talented people scrambled to turn the experience of seeing pop culture personalities and comic creators in virtual cons.
Some were better than others, and none truly replaced the experience of strolling down artists alley and chatting with creators and friends. However, they were good enough to be a decent placeholder for the time that we will be able to be vaccinated and able to go out and see each other in person.
Geek Culture TV
There was a massive amount of quality television programming that was produced and broadcast this year. There are more outlets, streaming and otherwise that are now committed to delivering high quality shows. Here is a list of some of our favorites in no particular order:
- SCHITT’S CREEK: SEASON 6 – AMC
- WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS: SEASON 2 – FFX
- HARLEY QUINN: SEASON 2 – HBOMax
- THE BOYS: SEASON 2 – Amazon Prime Video
- THE MANDALORIAN: SEASON 2 – Disney+
- LOVECRAFT COUNTRY: SEASON 1 – HBOMax
- THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY: SEASON 2 – Netflix
- STARGIRL: SEASON 1 – CW
- I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS: SEASON 1 – Neflix
- STAR TREK: PICARD: SEASON 1 – CBS All Access
- KILLING EVE: SEASON 3 – BBC
- PERRY MASON: SEASON 1 – HBOMax
And don’t forget there were some other shows like Tiger King (Netflix) and The Vow (HBO) that left us captivated, or horrified, or both.
Based on the announcements from Disney, Warner Bros, and others, it looks like this trend of high quality serialized episodic programming with continue.
Pop Culture Squad Thrived
Even before the pandemic shut down a lot of the world, we worried that this would be a slow year for PCS. However, we persevered and continued to bring you content as best you can.
If you are not a regular reader of Mike Gold‘s two columns here, you are missing witty and entertaining stories and opinion.
Ed Catto’s regular With Further Ado column finds new ways to look at comics, books, film and other cool stuff.
While we have bigger dreams for what is to come, it was a pretty good year for Pop Culture Squad and we are excited for making them happen in the next year.
Thanks for being here, and READ MORE COMICS!
With the mass chaos and uncertainty that the physical comic book industry is in as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis, comic book writers and artists are finding unique ways to try to help comic shops. As we have detailed earlier, comic professionals are also affected by this pandemic in real financial terms. As their income streams dry up and “pencils down” orders are given, the community searches for ways to survive.
We are confident that the medium of sequential art will not go away, but it may emerge from this crisis altered. Will it be for the better? It is impossible to tell. In the meantime, the community is trying to support each other.
Today, we want to highlight some of the innovative efforts to support both creative talent and comic shops.
Love and Capes Returns
We told you in an interview earlier that cartoonist Thom Zahler has been working on the new Love and Capes: The Family Way series, and selling small print run single-issues at conventions. IDW will be collecting and printing a Trade Paperback this summer, but with all conventions on hold, Thom came up with an inventive way to get the story and get new inventory into the hands of comic shops that are still open in whatever form.
He is offering a way for comic shops to order the individual issues directly from him, and is, even, offering a way for the issue covers to be customized. Comic Shops can get all the details and links to the order forms on Zahler’s website. Orders are being taken until Friday 4/17 at Noon!!
Fans can reach out to their Local Comic Shops and encourage them to order the new content.
An event is going over in the Twitterverse. Over a hundred comic creatives are auctioning off artwork, books, and experiences through the #Creators4Comics. The auctions will end on Monday 4/20. The funds raised will be donated to The Book Industry Charitable Foundation, an organization that supports independent booksellers, including comic shops. Continue reading “Creators are Caring for Comic Shops”
What happens with super heroes when they are not fighting crime. Do they date? What are their private live like? Who are the people they interact with out of uniform? This are the questions that writer/artist Thom Zahler wanted to explore and decided to make a story about the personal lives of superheroes.
The first volume of Love and Capes was published by IDW in 2008. Three subsequent trade paperback volumes were published culminating in Volume 4 “What to Expect” which was published in 2013. Since then, Zahler has worked on a bunch of excellent different creator owned properties and licensed material. All the while, he has been peppered with questions of when the will be more Love and Capes.
Recently, he has returned to Chronopolis and the world of the Crusader. Volume 5 of Love and Capes, titled “The Family Way”, will be published by IDW in February 2020, just in time for Valentine’s Day. We sat down and talked with Thom about what it was like to come back to the story after so much time and what has changed.
Check out our SquadCast interview on this page and a part of the interview that we transcribed below: Continue reading “Spotlight Interview with Love and Capes Creator, Thom Zahler”
Welcome to the Video SquadCast! This is the recording of the panel we hosted at Baltimore Comic-Con on October 20, 2019. The panelists are Steve Conley, Katie Cook, Dean Haspiel and Thom Zahler. The video is hosted on our YouTube Channel and the audio version of the SquadCast can be found at the bottom of this post.
Be sure to check out this great conversation about webcomics and how these professionals work their craft. The will tell you the techniques they use for developing story and rendering it into art.
If you are not familiar with his work, Thom, a graduate of The Kubert School, has had a successful career in comics as a writer, artist, letterer and cartoonist. He has also written for television, including the Ultimate Spider-Man show on Disney XD. He has published a lot of his creator owned comics through IDW Enterprises, including Love and Capes, Long Distance, and Time and Vine. Thom has also worked on comics for other licensed properties, notably My Little Pony from IDW. You can find some links to Thom’s work at the end of this interview.
Beginning in 2017, Thom published a weekly episodic comic strip on Line Webtoons, called Warning Label. He then collected that story in a printed edition that was funded through Kickstarter last year.
We wanted to catch up with him about his latest project, Cupid’s Arrows, which is set to premiere on Line Webtoons next week.
About Cupid’s Arrows:
Pop Culture Squad: Can you tell us what Cupid’s Arrows is about?
Thom Zahler: It re-imagines Cupids as two-person hitman teams. The idea is that both Cupids on the team have to shoot their targets to get a couple to fall in love, and the story follows a particular team of Cupids named Rick and Lora, who we see go on a number of missions. We also see that they may have a budding relationship with each other, which is not permitted among Cupids.
PCS: What is the inspiration behind this project? Continue reading “Spotlight Interview: Talking about Cupid’s Arrows with Thom Zahler”