woensdag 25 september 2013

Q & A with Nick Ahlhelm

Nick Ahlhelm has been a comic book fan forever and publishes some pretty cool stuff via Meta-Human Press. Now he has a new Kickstarter project going that sounds just fantastic. I was eager to ask him some questions...

Tell us - what is 'Lightweight' about?
Lightweight is the tale of a young man named Kevin Mathis that learns he has the ability to control the gravity of any non-living object. This quickly leads him into danger against a robot named Titan, sent after him by a mysterious group that does not have best interests at heart. But even as he faces more and more danger, he gains a growing compulsion to wear the costume of Lightweight, even as it threatens to drive a rift between him and his friends.

Why Kickstarter?
 Two reasons. The obvious one is that I’ve hired Brent Sprecher to design work on the series and the covers. An artist the caliber of Brent needs to be paid and much of the money raised will go to pay him. The second reason is proof of concept. Lightweight is the first ever ongoing monthly super powered prose serial. I chose this format because I feel it is the best way to tell Kevin’s continuing tale over the months and years to come. But I also need to know that this is a format that can sustain Kevin and company. If I can raise $900 or more before the concept comes to fruition, I know I have something people will read.

To readers of what comics will it appeal?
 Much of my inspiration comes from favorite comics of the 80s and 90s. Spider-Man fans will certainly find something to love in Kevin, but I would say my main two influences would be Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon and both Roger Stern and James Robinson’s versions of Starman. Larsen’s real time style narrative will be a feature in Lightweight while Stern’s tale of a young awkward hero and Robinson’s intricately plotted build-ups are all part of Lightweight’s DNA. Finally, Robert Kirkman’s Invincible is a major influence on how to make a large scale independent superhero and their universe work for years and years of storytelling.

Where can we find the book?
Right now, the only place to find information about the book is at its Kickstarter page: If the Kickstarter proves successful, the ebook edition will be available through Amazon, Smashwords and my site SuperPoweredFiction.com. The print editions will be available through Createspace and Amazon.

 How do you think superheroes work out in prose, and why did you decide to take a stab at it?
Much like any other genre, moving superheroes into prose offers advantages and disadvantages. Obviously prose cannot be as action drive as comics or film. But it does also allow a depth of plot and character that is almost impossible in either.

Who is your favourite comic book hero, and who's your favourite creator?
 My favorite superhero will probably always be a toss-up between Hawkeye and Firestorm. West Coast Avengers and the John Ostrander Firestorm were two of the first comics I regularly read at Marvel and DC. I’ve always had a fondness for both characters because of them. As to creators, I could list a dozen. Robert Kirkman, Neil Gaiman, Steve Englehart, James Robinson, Erik Larsen, Tom DeFalco, Billy Tucci, Joshua Williamson and on and on. But I always like to specifically mention Mark Gruenwald, perhaps the favorite author of my younger years. Gruenwald told compelling stories without ever contradicting a massive continuity that he seemed to feel a personal quest to keep straight. If I could be half as good as he is at keeping my timeline so perfect, I’ll have a very successful career ahead of me.

 What is it about superheroes that appeals to people so much and why are there so many comic book movies now?
I think as people continue to stretch the boundaries of their own body and technology makes science fiction shows seem terribly out of date, society looks for something larger than life in their heroes. A being with super powers in our modern world is something we can only ever dream about, but the adventures they can have can wow us in ways other forms of fictional narrative just cannot.

Super # 1!

Super! is a new comic book series from Unlikely Heroes Studios funded by Kickstarter. It features a bunch of original superheroes with a funny bend, but lots of action. The most serious character is Blitz, a great superheroine who to me is the female answer to Peter Parker / Barry Allen, that is very easy to relate to and the perfect person to introduce the reader to this crazy new world, Cosmopolis. There's the Lush (based on the Hulk) and Streak (based on the Flash) who are really crazy characters that reminded me of the DC series Hitman and the quirky characters that Garth Ennis invented there. There's also a cool Tony Stark kind of guy stealing the show with his charm. I think one of the most popular characters will be FireAnt, who seems to be a mix of SpiderMan and Blue Beetle. He has a great visual.
We follow this band of heroes during a typical day of fighting powerful villains and trying to come up with a better name for their superteam.
At 52 pages this is a very full experience with a fantastic suprise ending I just don't want to spoil. The art is very good-looking, especially the coloring is amazing.

Check out the Facebookpage here: https://www.facebook.com/#!/UnlikelyHeroesSuper
It will be available at www.comixology.com today!

vrijdag 20 september 2013

Q & A with Andrez Bergen

Andrez Bergen is a talented writer who recently wrote a pretty cool novel, Who's Killing the Great Capes of Heropa,  mixing noir fiction with superheroes. An interesting person to interview of course....
Tell us - what is 'Heropa' about?
Ostensibly? The novel is about escape, in particular from dystopian future Melbourne, Australia — the last city on Earth. It's a place polluted, dangerous and divided; decay, filth and death stain the streets as this city wilts beneath ceaseless acid rainfall.
The escape is to a better place, Heropa, a bustling, lively metropolis with clear skies and a monumental skyline, its architecture early 20th-century art deco and the gleaming boulevards patrolled by superheroes known as Capes, chief among these the group known as the Equalizers.
New recruit Southern Cross — without his mask a spitting image of Jack Kirby's sketches for Steve Rogers (a.k.a. Captain America) in the 1960s — is the latest refugee from Melbourne, looking for a place not only to hang his hat and mask but also to find solace away from a world disfigured.
But as the tides turn, the Capes are assassinated by persons unknown and the body count begins to accrue, Cross we figure out that the novel is far less about escape or tights than standing up to defend what one believes in
To readers of what comics will it appeal?
I think any comic book buff would appreciate this, but in particular fans of the Marvel Bullpen in New York in the 1960s, when Stan Lee and Roy Thomas got to play with artists like Kirby, Steve Ditko, John Buscema, Jim Steranko and Barry Windsor-Smith and brilliant super-group titles were created: Fantastic Four, Avengers, X-Men.
Golden Age comics from the 1940s are also an essential backdrop here, and I was heavily influenced by later writers and artists like Frank Miller, John Byrne, Chris Claremont, so they've had impact as well.
But you know what? International comic books like Tintin, 2000 AD; The Phantom, Barbarella and That Bulletproof Kid also get a tip of the fedora.
This novel comprises 473 pages, and it's a dual homage to (as I say) the 1960s Marvel age of comic books as well as '40s detective noir — decanted into a blend of sci-fi, dystopia, and other ingredients. Plus there are 35 comic book illustrations by an array of international artists.
This makes the package a little pricey in physical form, but it's worth this for the artwork alone.
Where can we find the book?
The official release date for bookshops is 27th September, but the book is currently available in paperback or Kindle versions bright and early from Amazon USA (http://www.amazon.com/Who-Killing-Great-Capes-Heropa/dp/178279235X) and Amazon UK (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Who-Killing-Great-Capes-Heropa/dp/178279235X).
How do you think superheroes work out in prose, and why did you decide to take a stab at it?  I think they work just fine, but this is nothing revolutionary.
Pulp crime fighters like The Shadow and Doc Savage were being pushed through in written text in the 1930s and Zorro wore a mask but first appeared in 1919 thanks to a manual typewriter rather than an easel.
All three were influences on my childhood, particularly Zorro, just as much as the hand-me-down 1960s Marvel Comics I got from my much older half-brother.
But I'm equally influenced by cinema, and I write the way I perceive situations visually — put this down to both comic books and old movies. Since I'm not the best artist myself, I tend to write the scenarios down in groups of words, and have been doing that even for sequential art stories since high school.
And for me, when I do comic books, I think superheroes. This novel was therefore always on the cards. The design for the costume of key character Southern Cross was first put together when I was 16.
Who is your favourite comic book hero, and who's your favourite creator?
I found this a tough question, since at various times I've adored the Beast from the early issues of X-Men, Wolverine as conjured up by John Byrne with Chris Claremont in 1979-80, and the Flash when he was still Barry Allen. I always had a soft spot for Hergé's kid-reporter Tintin and the violent justice dished up by Judge Dredd in 2000 AD. If we include Japanese manga, Major Motoko Kusanagi (Ghost in the Shell) would be right up there as well. I loved what Frank Miller did with Daredevil in 1981 and Batman in the mid '80s.
But there're still two that stand out and tussle for dominance: Captain America, especially how he was visually defined by Jack Kirby and Jim Steranko in the late 1960s, and the Thing from Fantastic Four — again Kirby's vision of the orange rock-hewn hero, in tandem with inker Joe Sinnott.
So I guess that also answers your question about favourite creator. Jack Kirby. The novel is dedicated to the King.
What is it about superheroes that appeals to people so much and why are there so many comic book movies now?
I'll start at the end of the query this time — superhero movies are the flavour of the month, and flavours of any calendar month usually mean big bucks for the studios involved. I say usually, because they still need to make good films. The Avengers was good, as was Captain America. Green Lantern was poor. Then again, I never was into that character. I think the timing's also right as the SFX are at their best in making these costumed people with insane powers look... well... bona fide.
Getting back to the beginning, what is it about superheroes? For me the obvious answer is escapism — these people have the mojo to change lives, worlds, entire galaxies. But the best comic book yarns ground these blessings in the humdrum reality of daily life, explore the bickering side of the relationships these Capes share, and pitch good against bad — punching through the grey area between the two. They're morality tales, hopefully without too much preaching.
And they're fun to explore.

dinsdag 3 september 2013

Q & A with Dan Sehn (Argo 5)

1. Tell us what Argo 5 is about?
Argo 5 is a super-team that handles threats from alien invasions to subterranean menaces but the core of the book is actually the social interactions. The book is a bit more focused on the character's personal lives than just fighting the bad guys. Instead of just the threat of the month or continuous misdirection, Argo Comics strives to tell good entertaining stories that are a bit less convoluted than most mainstream comics.
2. To readers of what comics will it appeal?
It would probably appeal to long time readers of the big 2 that might find ia change of pace refreshing. Coke and Pepsi are great but sometimes you need a Dr. Pepper.
3. Where can we find it?
The books can be found here: http://indyplanet.com/store/index.php?manufacturers_id=4417 and digitally here: http://indyplanet.com/digital/index.php?manufacturers_id=4417
4. Any advice for other people wanting to publish independent superhero stories?
I would say remaining focused is important. Many have their own heroes and get diverted into getting endless commissions of their character and build web sites devoted to their characters but no effort is put towards putting together the actual comic. I'd also say to strive for originality. Publishing a book similar to the ones you enjoy from the larger companies is a mistake in that there are already many of those books with characters people are already fond of. Indie superheroes must strive towards originality to give people a new experience.

5. Who is your favorite comic book hero and who your favorite creator?
My favorite character would have to be the Pre-New 52 Superman. I'm hoping he'll return someday. My favorite creator is a bit tougher. The short list of writers would have to be Will Eisner, The Hernandez Brothers, and Alan Moore. Artists are much tougher as there is no short list. Art Adams, Adam Hughes, George Perez, Rick Mays, Bill Maus, Tom Raney, Mike McKone, Kevin Maguire, Franchesco!, Brad Green, Chris Cross, Terry Dodson, Frank Cho, Steve McNiven, Nick Bradshaw, Paul Pelletier, Brandon Peterson, Fred Perry, Todd McFarlane, Dale Keown and Sarah Pichelli are a few of my favorites that come to mind.

 6. What is it about superheroes that appeals to people so much and why are there so many comic book movies now?
Superheroes probably appeal to many who enjoy the escapism aspect of the genre. Most would like the more extraordinary lives exemplified by the adventures of those with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal man. Those stories have almost a universal appeal and thus the popularity of the movies. Film does not suffer the stigma of being purely juvenile entertainment so they thrive where the comic industry struggles.