Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Lure of Elizabeth Guizzetti's Faminelands of Cookies and Souls

Welcome back to Warrior’s Inn!

It’s been a crazy week here in the desert but I finally got time to deliver the next interview in our fall series to you our loyal readers.

Today we bring you a delightful back and forth with writer/artist Elizabeth Guizette. She is the creative force behind one of my faves, Out for Cookies and Souls as well as the fantasy comics Faminelands and her newest web comic, Lure.

WIC: Hello Beth, and thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for Warrior Inn's, the Inn in Independent comics! Okay, yeah, it's a lame tag line. ;)
So lets start with your origin story; what first attracted you to comic books?

GUIZZETTI: Prior to comics; I was a professional artist/muralist. My own work was not selling well, but I was making money doing baby rooms and churches. Work begot more work, but it was all the same kind of job. It paid well, but I was getting bored of it. I painted so many blue skies with little fluffy clouds... I realized that I was losing my technical skills and even my voice as an artist.
I have always loved horror and fantasy comics. Some of my favorites are the Walking Dead, Dracula vs. King Arthur, [and] The Forgotten Realms/Dritz books. I didn't know anything about how to make a comic and I wanted to stretch myself. So I told my husband that this elf story that I was writing for fun, might make a good graphic novel. It was the beginning of what would become Faminelands.
More than anything, it was a challenge. I had no clue what I was doing and made a ton of mistakes in my first book. Somewhere along the line of writing and illustrating The Carp's Eye, I realized that I didn't want to do murals anymore. This could be my full time job if I threw myself into the way I threw myself into being an artist ten years ago, but I needed help. I cannot self-edit.
I called Maria [Masterson]. She was pregnant with her first child and on maternity leave. I don't think, at that point, either of us knew that it would change our entire relationship. She agreed to proofread, and listen to me hash out my ideas, and a bunch of other stuff. Somehow, she understood that I was serious and became an integral part of the team.
I have written/illustrated two other graphic novels and then the comics. I find each book looks better and better and I am still learning, that more than anything keeps me interested.
PS I thought your tagline was funny.

WIC: Thanks.
Okay, now where we? Oh yes, you mentioned your graphic novels and other comics but before we dig into those I'd like ask about Z Bee. How did Z Bee Publications get its’ start and how did the name come about?

GUIZZETTI: OK, lets see where to start... I sort of did things backwards and I never really thought about my name or the company until I found out I needed to buy an ISBN for FAMINELANDS: THE CARP'S EYE since it was going to be a graphic novel. The only thing businessy I knew at all during that year was that FAMINELANDS: THE CARP'S EYE would be released at 1.ECCC '08 and I would have a good booth...and even a give away.
Yes, all that happened.
Since I had an art studio already the setting up of some of the business stuff was pretty easy, I didn't even need to get a new business license just filled out a DBA (doing business as) form for the state and city.
I wish I had a better story for this one - While I knew I was writing a fantasy adventure in Faminelands, I was also sure that my next book would be something else and I wanted a name that had longevity- so I figured making it as simple and all encompassing as possible. ZBee is a nickname my mom used to call me. I also like bees. They are useful and cute but not cutesy. It seemed appropriate.

WIC: Speaking of your next book (the one after Faminelands) could you tell us how you came up with OUT FOR COOKIES AND SOULS?

GUIZZETTI: After Faminelands #1, I wanted to create something much lighter, much more fun. I like to put things that are different together and I enjoy stories with moral ambiguity. Poodles dressed like demons; elfin mercenaries. Just like how I wrote Faminelands to be a story I would like to read - I write OUT FOR SOULS AND COOKIES primarily because I thought it was funny.
I was originally inspired by my husband. Together, we make up these epic adventures about our dogs as jokes - nearly as long as we’ve been married. (Before Rosie and Tycho - there was Ginger and her Golden Poodle Pelt) Anyway we were joking that once Tycho was the emperor of Rome.
(FYI: Dennis did not wish to be credited as a co-writer or concept editor or anything, because the comic was so removed from the original idea of the story we made up. When I asked him, he said I was being silly.)
The real Rosie and Tycho are litter mates. Rosie is definitely the brains of the pair. We are pretty sure she is going to take over the world. She trained Tycho to do things for her. She wants to eat, he goes into the kitchen, she wants outside, he rings the bell. All I can tell you is that she is hedonistic and too cute to be stopped, but she loves her twin.
Tycho has a kingly bearing and the poodle version of OCD. He takes these stuffed squirrels and lines them up in a row and chews off their ears. He only wants the ears. I would find lines of earless squirrels under my desk. It was like a zombie squirrel army or something. Tycho's obsession is how Lord Fluffcakes became part of the story.
Anyway we live in Seattle, my dogs love cookies and I am pretty sure demons love souls - so there you go.

WIC: I always look forward to your answers. They are never just answers but stories in of themselves. LOL.
Lets see now, that will bring us to LURE. Could you tell us a little about your new web comic?

GUIZZETTI: Lure is a horror story of two Stampeders, Jack and Tom, during the Klondike Gold Rush. They head north expecting to scoop gold from the rivers and instead come face to face with a family of sirens. It is to be released March 1st, 2011 and debut at ECCC '11.
What was fun about this book is I let the setting dictate the characters. Fortunately for me, the Goldrush Museum as well as the Museum of History and Industry are both close by. I asked my husband for a guy's perspective nearly a million times. I spent nearly 6 months researching and in the best possible sense I tried to make Jack and Tom men of their era. For example, when the book opens, Tom is 18. As a member of the working class, he has been a fisherman since he was 13. He is an adult and is treated as such.
I'm about two weeks away from Maria's final edit of the book, well what we think will be the final edit. I am sure she will find something that needs to be added or taken out. Last time, we did a mockup and realized we were missing a page due to a spread. Opps!
I really must learn to draw these things in order.

WIC: LOL. Yes, drawing things in order probably helps. You've been working with Maria for quite a while. Do you two always see eye-to-eye and how valuable to you find having an editor is to the whole creative process?

GUIZZETTI: We have always worked well together. I tend to be intense where she is laid back and vice versa. I don't have many artist friends close by and having someone to flesh out ideas with has been integral. She is a good listener; she knows how to ask questions to help me think of new ideas. I am able to take her criticism.
We have the same goal as a company, which is, to create books that interest us and stretch our skills. That being said, Maria and I do not always see eye-to-eye in every detail of the books.
If I love something and Maria has a negative reaction to the characters or the story lines, ultimately I make the final call. However often her concerns have made a story-line that much stronger, because it often just means I need to do more research or recheck a fact or explain something better.

WIC: Is there anything you'd like to share with our readers about entering the wide world of independent comics?

GUIZZETTI: If someone wants to enter the wide world of indy comics, I say go for it!
However, I will say the juggling of business and writing/drawing can be difficult, so be sure that you actually like to write stories, or draw, or ink etc. Be sure you are ready to pound the pavement for your books, because no one else will.
As an artist you need to grow a thick skin. Just remember, there are a lot of different genres, writing and art styles, not everyone is going to like yours and just because somebody hates it doesn't mean the next person isn't going to love it.
Get to know other artists and writers. We tend to be incredibly supportive; because we know how hard it is to do what we do. We cheer for each other and help each other find good sources for printing, getting bookmarks made, and whatever else...
Especially for independent comics - the profits are so low that more than one of us are on the razor's edge of folding any given year. Ask artists what mistakes they made in the beginning: I probably could list a handful of stupid moves that I made. Ask them why they choose the pencil they use or which paper or how to save money of poster pockets... or whatever you need.
It's great fun.

WIC: Okay Beth, what was the most educational blunder you've had since this adventure began?

I have been trying to come up with the biggest blunder, but I can't. So I'm giving you four.
First off, I have no real regrets; but I do wish I had spoken to more people prior to jumping in. I wish I hadn't been so shy in the beginning, because the following lists are all things others would have shared:
1) Total inventory. My first run was 250. I made bookmarks, stickers, etc thinking I would hand them out to everyone who passed me by when actually only about a quarter of people were interested at a convention and that includes the people who just wanted a freebee. So I had tons of excess inventory in my one bedroom apartment.
2) The amount of inventory to carry to a show. We used to take everything we had in stock to a convention, we lost a lot to damages that way and if we are flying - books are heavy.
3) How to approach stores:
In '08 I did six conventions, but no other type of appearances. I wasn't in any comic book stores. Why? I did not know how to approach them. I emailed and called and rarely got a response, until one day Adam Watson [Darkslinger Comics] said, "hey you guys should go here and see if they want your book."
The idea that I could just walk into the store never occurred to me. Maria and I sold three books that day.
4) Finally this one, I just had to learn on my own:
Not only are Maria and I a great creative team, but we are also a great sales team. Doing non-local events without her has been the cause of more hassles than any other mistake I have made. (Funny I am saying this when I am going to Jet City this Saturday without Maria, but that's a one-day show, two miles from my house.)
When we went to San Diego in '09, we traveled separately. I did the first day alone and the second half of the last day alone. That was a huge mistake. Maria's luggage ended up being over 50 lbs on one side. That was 50 bucks down the tube. I was exhausted and by the time I left on Sunday. I couldn't get everything in my luggage. I ended up giving a display to a local and dumping 20 books of OUT FOR COOKIES & SOULS #1. Just handing them to random people as I walked back to my hotel, because I knew I couldn't afford another $50 overweight luggage fee.
In '08, I did APE in San Francisco. (Originally we had planned that she would go, but Maria could not get a sitter for the whole weekend.) I did the convention with my brother. He was great, but he did not look at this like a business trip. He even wore a badge that said Maria Masterson on it. It felt like I was constantly nagging. I didn't know anyone so I didn't feel comfortable approaching people to ask for help. And once again, I exhausted myself; between a days’ drive each way, a ten hour day, and a seven hour day.
On the other side, Maria can't do a con without me. It's a booth fee wasted. There is no way to say this without coming off as stuck up. One of the reasons, people buy books at conventions is to meet the artist and author, Maria gets a lot of flack from people who don't consider the editor important enough to talk to or feel she doesn't understand the process. (I wish I was making that up.)

WIC: I can see that as being true, editors rarely get the attention they deserve. This has been fun and educational, something I never thought I’d say when I was just a teen in high school. And speaking of editors, Maria was unable to join us for this Q&A due to being a bit to prego right now. I’d like to thank Beth and wish Maria good health!

But it’s time to get this posted up on the net, already a week behind, yikes!

1.Emerald City Comicon hosted in Seattle, Washington every year since 200?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Soaring with Susan Soares into Comic Promotions

Welcome back to Warrior's Inn, a space on myspace and Blogger where creators and small press publishers can go to learn how others are breaking into the sequential art form known as comics!

Today begins this Fall's interview series with creators and indie comic folks like our first interviewee, Susan Soares of SJS Comic Promotions.

WIC: Hello Susan,

Lets get started, shall we?

You are different than others in this interview series, as in, you aren't a creator per say, rather you work for creators as a Promotions Consultant. Can you tell us exactly what that is?

SOARES: Sure. Basically I help creators get their properties noticed by the comic book reading public and beyond. Some of the services I provide include social networking management (ie Facebook), press release writing and distribution, book distribution for media coverage and reviews, as well as convention planning and advertising.

Depending on the needs of the client, I do pretty much anything that's necessary to increase their visibility and popularity.

WIC: It almost sounds like you're kinda like a comic creators agent. Would you consider that a fair assessment? What is the difference between say an agent and a promotions consultant like yourself?

SOARES: The movie industry is vastly different than the comic book industry, in my opinion. No I don't consider myself an agent. Agents represent people and their goal is to get their clients additional work. I am a publicist, to use a more mainstream title. My focus is to get the properties noticed, with the creators going along for the ride.

WIC: Do you consider your clients to be stars in their own right?

SOARES: And as far as my clients being stars, of course they are. My job is to make my clients appear and feel important, as they should be. A lot of sacrifice and hard work goes into the properties they create.

WIC: You are familiar with the sacrifice and hard work that goes into a comic. As the wife of a comic creator can you speak a little about the dedication that goes into creating a property and the sacrifices that come with entering the world of entertainment?

SOARES: My husband has been working on Sky Pirates of Valendor since 2006. He was first published in 2007 and began his miniseries in 2008. Since that time, we have put 1000's of miles on our car, spent 1000's of dollars in talent, printing, conventions and traveling costs. We work really hard because I'm a firm believer that if you do something where you invest money and time, you do it to all the way. We've had bumps in the road but we also just celebrated our debut appearance in Previews. While I know many creators have outside obligations that prevent them from spending the time and money we have, I firmly believe that Sky Pirates of Valendor is proof it can happen for any title. And that's why I created my company. Creators don't always have the time to properly promote their properties. That's what I'm here for.

WIC: It seems Diamond Comic Distributors have made it difficult for indie and small press publishers to keep their comics in Previews with their minimums and their piece of the cover price pie. Many indie creators ask how is it possible to profit, let alone get on the comic shop shelf with Diamond’s policies. What has your experience been with Diamond and when should a creator consider submitting to a distributor?

SOARES: For the indie creator, Diamond is for trade paperbacks. We did not solicit our single issues, nor will we. Under the advice and guidance of Sky Pirates' publishers,Free Lunch Comics, the story was structured in the format of a miniseries that was easily collected to a trade paperback. One continuous storyline that fits into one book is easier to market and the profit margin is greater. And the risk is less for the retailers than committing to a miniseries released in single issue that may not get completed or canceled due to low sales numbers.

WIC: Have you consider distributing with an indie friendly company like Haven Distributors in addition to Diamond?

SOARES: And no we are not considering any other distribution methods at this time. Haven, from what I see, is a very small operation that very few retailers know anything about. I think it's going to be a very slow process to incorporate new distributors into the industry. But for creators who can't afford a Diamond print run, I strongly recommend as it gets your graphic novel listed on a multitude of online bookstores, including Amazon. It's the best alternative for budget-restricted creators.

WIC: I want to get back to your website and what you do for your clients. On your Gallery page you share covers of your clients projects but you also have a couple video previews of those comics you promote. Similar to motion comics, the vids make use of voice acting and sound effects. Did your promotions company produce these?

SOARES: Despite the fact that I went to school for communications and that included video production, I can't do it professionally to save my life. The Sky Pirates trailer was created by the folks at The DarkBrain trailer was created by Andrew Zar, publisher of Two of my other clients have trailers in production that hopefully will be out soon.

WIC: How would one go about getting one of these made for their comic? And have you found them helpful in advertising a comic?

SOARES: If a creator wants a trailer made for their series, I would recommend reaching out to a videographer. There is software out there to do it yourself and I have created a couple ameteur videos for a friend but nothing at the quality you would want to promote a series. And yes I have found these to be very effective tools to promote comics. There are so many outlets to post these videos both on social networking sites and websites, the visibility is outrageous. One of's trailers has received almost 12,000 views on YouTube. Fans love to see the pages come to life with animation and sound, features you don't get from a printed comic book.

WIC: Can you tell us how DarkBrain's 12,000 views translates into sales?

SOARES: DarkBrain is a little bit different because it is a webcomic. All of their content is free to view at a PG-13 level. They offer a membership option for $4.99 a month or $24.95 for a six-month subscription that unlocks the option to choose whether content is viewed at a PG-13 or R-rated level, among other member-only benefits. Since we posted the various trailers and opened up all the content to be free, we've have had over 80,000 pageviews per day and we've sold more memberships than before we changed the model. My role with DarkBrain is slightly more intense than with my other clients. I am responsible for making marketing recommendations that influence and impact the overall success of the site. It has been very challenging as we are working with a model very different than any other webcomic out there, coupled with managing mature content.

WIC: As a web comic publisher I'm intrigued, I may have to talk to you more about this later but as an interviewer I'm going to choose to move on. Since we are talking about clients, you have a page where you post a list of your clients and contact info for them. Is this a list of past or present clients or a mixture of both?

SOARES: The list on my website is a current list. With the exception of Sky Pirates and some pro bono work I did previously, I only started taking on clients in April.

WIC: You also spoke about how busy DarkBrain keeps you, how do you manage all your clients and make room for more?

SOARES: As far as time is concerned, I currently do not have a day job so my clients are doing me a world of good right now. I'm one of those people who if I'm doing something I truly love, I breeze through the work. I'm still learning alot and have my busy days. But there are days where the pace is slower. All depends on what's going on. With New York Comic Con coming up, I expect to be busy in the next few weeks.

My goal is to build a full time career doing this, which is why I am still seeking to take on more clients. A few months ago, this was a stretch goal. As time goes on, it is becoming more of a reality.

WIC: Isn't that everyone's dream? To do the work that makes us happy? I've actually been pondering the idea that this recession we are in is going to turn out to be a blessing in disguise. As more and more of us find ourselves unemployed Americans are having to become more and more creative. We have to ask ourselves, how am I going to pay rent this month? That question turns into what skills do I have, what services can I offer? What can I do to earn a living? And look at us? Look at what Americans are doing? We are pulling up our big boy/girl pants respectively and doing what American’s do best; we are creating, innovating! 100 years ago there was a decade called the Roaring 20's, I have a sneaky suspicion we are on the verge of our own Roar! Don't you?

SOARES: I would agree. I have several friends who lost their jobs right around the time I did and they are pursuing freelance careers. It is nerve wracking because clients do come and go and some contracts are shorter than others. The greatest news I get to hear nowadays is that a client is going to renew their contract with me. But I find myself spending as much time looking for new clients as I do working for my existing ones.

WIC: Well let’s see if we can generate a few more clients for you by telling them what you offer. On your website you have started a blog called Promotionally Speaking. What are the goals you hope to achieve with this blog?

SOARES: Let me clarify that Promotionally Speaking actually started in 2008 on a Canadian-based publisher's website, Septagon Studios. After I lost my job in April of 2009, I lost my focus somewhat and struggled to find a way to rebuild my life. Well, I fell off the wagon with my articles.

With the development of my website, I decided to re-launch the blog. I plan to accomplish a number of things with the blog. One is to offer advice to creators based on the lessons I've learned. I don't claim to know everything but since we have been so aggressive, we've made some good and some not-so-good moves that I want to share with fellow creators.

I also plan to share some of the major press releases that I distribute from SJS Comic Promotions. And, lastly I would love to run an advice column with questions from creators.

WIC: Sounds similar to my goals with this blog. I strongly believe in collaboration of the arts. I've always been part of art forms that share resources and creativity, from playacting to film making to sequential art story telling. It is by far the most enjoyable thing about this career path.

Speaking of sharing I took a gander at the posts you have on your new page thus far and you mention some of the mistakes you've made, could you tell us about your biggest blunder as well as you best success?

SOARES: One of the biggest blunders I made was a very personal one and cost me a great deal. Without going into too much detail, I basically thought I could build my professional reputation and my client base by representing some of my friends who were creators. Going back to how aggressive Everett and I are with Sky Pirates, I tried to impose that aggressiveness with them. It cost me the opportunity to work with them and the aftermath of the situation cost me some friendships. It taught me however that it's ok for me to set standards on who I want to work with and if I feel a client doesn't match my views on comic creation, then it's ok to not work with them. It also taught me I can't change my clients. I can recommend and suggest changes and some will stick, and some won't. And most importantly, for me particularly, I can't represent my friends. I care too much and while I care about all my clients, friends hold a different rank.

My greatest success will always be Sky Pirates. My husband never wrote a comic before and in an instant, he was a

finalist in a competition for comic book creators. Then in another instant, we were picked up by Free Lunch Comics, whom we love dearly. And then in another blink of an eye, we were in Previews. That success and the reputation I built from that success helped build my client base and the courage to keep building my freelance career, despite the huge mistakes I made when I first tried to launch it.

WIC: Going back to your blog you expressed a commitment to finding answers or providing resources to the answers. How many times have you been called upon to go above and beyond to find an answer to a client’s question?

SOARES: With the exception of my work with DarkBrain, so far most of my clients have been the standard formula I'm used to. I most recently had to come up with a solution to a problem that affected a number of my clients, which is New York Comic Con. We all applied for Artist Alley tables and we all were declined. So I proposed to 6 of my clients that we share a Small Press Booth, which they agreed. We split the cost, which alone is lofty. And I will be hosting them under the SJS Comic Promotions name.

WIC: That's great. Thank you. That's all we gots for now. It's been great chatting with you!

SOARES: Thanks Ben.

Thanks for reading everyone. Be sure to stop by next week when we pick the brain of Elizabeth Guizzette as she Lures you Out for Cookies and Souls in the Famine Lands of her dreams. Till we meet again.

Ben K.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Q & A with Publisher Benjamin J. Kreger

Warriors and Innkeepers alike,

Writing comics is an amazing gig! This is surely the best idea I've had in a long, long time. But I'm here to address a few things that have been on my mind as well as yours.
Without further ado, here is a reader inspired Q&A:

Q: Why hasn't The Less Than Historical Adventures of Lil' Lincoln been updated?

A: Well, folks that's cause of a few factors. 1) We here at Warrior Innkeeper Comics are going through some restructuring and some "construction" in preparing for a major marketing campaign. 2) ...Lil' Lincoln is also getting a small overhaul. "What?!" Don't worry, we aren't touching the fundamentals that you have all come to know and love, we are simply working to make it better than ever. The script for issue #2 is done and has been handed over to Paul and issue #3 is nearing completion. We really think you will like the story arc which will be introduced in #2 and come to conclusion in #3. Benny Jack has a few surprises for you and added some new characters to the growing pantheon that is less than historical! Paul, as always is working to bring you the most spectacular art, ever the perfectionist, issue #2 is looking better than ever! Check out our pics to see the newest sketch of Abe, just delivered today! Gotta love it! 3) In the mean time we are bringing on some guest writers who will debut soon with their own interpretation of a few minor characters. We are very excited about these Lil' spin-offs and can't wait to deliver them to our loyal readers!

Q: When will we get to see The Less Than Historical Adventures of Lil' Lincoln in print?

A: The best answer I have for that is, soon. Okay, not good enough? How about February 12th, 2011? Is that good enough? Well I hope it is! This coming year (2011 dummy) we will finally bring our heroes to the printed world! However, as we go through the process of building a better company to serve you our readers, there are many things we have to consider before we share anymore information but right now the plan is to release a printed version of Issue #1 (with of course never before seen bonus stuffs) on the anniversary of the the comics launch.

Q: There have been rumors of an official website, when will it go live?

A: Yes, it is true, we are working on an official website. I'm glad this was brought up. Again, there are things in production so what we can share is limited. I can say there will be a website by the beginning of the year, The Less Than Historical Adventures of Lil' Lincoln webcomic will be moved to the official page with, (with any luck) better load times so it is easier to read on the web. In the mean time smackjeeves will continue to host it and we'd like to thank smackjeeves for giving us a free place to share our work with our great audience!

Q: Does Warrior Innkeeper Comics have any comics other than ...Lil' Lincoln?

A: We do have several comics in development that we hope to have come out next year and we hope you stay tuned to our blogs and facebook for more information on these projects as they become available. But I'll tease you with their titles right now!

The Black Suit of Death - a grim reaper story

Warrior's Inn - a secret project

Super Vampire Bunny - well the title says it all, vampires, bunnies and super stuff! It's going to blow your mind!

Well that's all folks! Remember to check back soon for more updates and more sneak peaks!

Benjamin J. Kreger
Warrior Innkeeper Comics

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Creators Edge: All hype?

Creator’s Edge is going to have to fall off the edge of a cliff and into the ocean if they ever hope to make a splash in the comics world. After all the hype and all the talk I was expecting big things from Chuck Messinger and his crew of creators as I was handed my copy of Creators Edge Preview. The cover alone smashed my preconceived perceptions of what I was expecting.

“Lame,” was the first word which came to mind as I looked down at the newspaper print preview book. But I endeavored to give it a shot, maybe Messinger just didn’t have an eye for covers. These things happen.

I opened it to read Josh Inman’s editor’s note -a lot of self-hype without self-control ending with the sentence, “Now shut up and read.” Yeah, I figure Inman thinks he’s being funny but so missing the mark. He could do from a viewing of Simon Pegg’s movie, “How to Loose Friends and Alienate People.”

I was growing more and more disappointed by the minute. Should I even bother? If it weren’t for Stephen Lindsey and Travis Bundy having work in this book, I can tell ya right now, I would have just thrown this in the recycling bin.

To my pleasure Lindsey’s story was first: The DEVIL's TRAIL. The art was awesome. This guy knows how to choose a penciler! And as far as revolution goes, Lindsey is one of the few, and I mean few, who are actually doing something fresh in the comics world. Now, honestly, from the four page preview here, I can only guess what this book is about. However, a naked zombie chick with boobs down to her knees… that alone fuels my desire to buy this book hot off the press! When Lindsey takes the helm, you know you are in for a ride like none other!

Next up was JEFF by Travis Bundy. I’ve met this guy, nice chap. He drew a pick of Lil’ Lincoln in my sketchbook when the comic was still in development. I like him and wasn’t surprised I’d like his book. JEFF starts out with a 20-something (I’m guessing) waking up and having a nice nutritional corndog breakfast when all of the sudden he is zapped into an alternate realm. Apparently this is a common thing for Jeff and he is more than willing to save a 34-D breasted damsel in distress from a dragon. Bundy’s art is fantastic! His skill as an illustrator is well honed. Being a geek, I’m digging this D&D style story. A must read in my book.

I’m relaxing now. I’m feeling better about this preview book. It seems you can’t judge a book by the cover… or can you? I turn to the next page.

“What the crap!?”


Is that a chick or a dude with “moobs”? I can’t tell but I’m already in this, might as well see it out. A story about killer rain… ugh. Art feels like a Romata Jr. wanna be but, crappy… no, lets just say shitty. (Sorry dude but you gots lots to learns.) It’s a story about killer rain… Next!


Nice concept… very poor execution. I’m not in the mood to detail everything that is wrong with this one, all I’ll say is, everything is wrong with this one!


Here’s the one I’ve been waiting for. The one written by my buddy Chuck… … The art, is …um… interesting? And the story… well, there are a number of captions that should have been left out or rather they should have been instruction to the artist. For instance,

Page 2

Panel 1

Dialogue: What the fuck, Jim?

Caption: She states as she walks into the kitchen entrance, taking a moment to adjust her granny panties before she walks through the swinging door.

This one panel could have made a very amusing and even funny page of panels. Chuck should have had his artist, Thiago Castro draw the waitress pulling her panties out of her butt and going through a swinging door and have something curious on the other side of the door… omg… it hurts.

Look, I could go on but this is turning into a bitchfest and I have no love of tearing dreams down but, facts are facts, this company is off to a crappy, I mean crappy start. With the exception of Lindsey, McMunn and Bundy there is nothing professional here. The writing is weak at best the art sad and amateurish. And what the fuck does, “Indy revolution” mean? Do you all really think you are doing something new? But that is an argument for another time.

My summation of Creators Edge is, avoid it, save your money for quality comics. Don’t buy this garbage. There is nothing such thing as an Indy Revolution… if anything Creators Edge is an Indy Disillusion.

P. S. I must make one amendment, do buy Stephen Lindsey’s, THE DEVIL’S TRAIL and Travis Bundy’s, JEFF. Those two books are going to be worth the money. Chuck Messinger is lucky to have those two amazing talents in his mix.

...and Chuck, if you want your company to be anything, stop the lame hype, can the hacks and seek more talent like Bundy and Lindsey. Then… and only then, will you see a real evolution in comics!

UPDATE: Creators Edge has come a long way since their humble beginnings... visit this blog again in January to see what they've been doing and where they are up to next!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

20 Questions w/ Paul Guinan: Steampunk

I first met Paul Guinan at the Spokane Comic Con '09 and was introduced to his book Heartbreakers Meet Boilerplate. He was working on a new book staring Boilerplate and got me excited about it... though I have yet to buy my copy (sorry Mr. Guinan)
Finding Mr. Guinan to always be of a pleasant disposition, I endevored to interview him for my blog. But schedules as they were after the premiere of Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel, I resolved to shoot him 20 questions via email. Here is the result!

1. In Heartbreakers Meet Boilerplate you use photographs instead of traditional pencil drawings. Could you tell us about this process a photo goes through to become a panel in your comic book? Would you call this a modern form of Rotoscoping?

GUINAN Rotoscoping, an animation technique that involves drawing over footage of live actors, is a good analogy for how I approached the art in Heartbreakers Meet Boilerplate. Nearly every image began as a series of photos, which I then digitally composited and drew/painted over. I call my technique Paintography™! Hopefully it produces an effect that immerses the reader into the reality of the story. I was flattered that a select panel of judges nominated my work for an Eisner Award in the category of "Best Multimedia Artist."

2. Would you encourage others to use this technique, or would you prefer to keep the competition to a minimum?

GUINAN Of course anyone is welcome to give it a whirl, and other artists are already using a wide variety of digital techniques. Some of them are similar to mine, but I don’t think anyone’s doing anything exactly like it. As a photo-based technique, it has limitations—for example, if I were drawing a Western, I’d have to get cowboy outfits and horses.

3. Does this style affect how much action you can put into a panel?

GUINAN It might affect the type of action I can pull off, but not the amount of action, scenery, and characters. The biggest challenge in Heartbreakers Meet Boilerplate was compositing all the clones played by my wife, writer Anina Bennett, who had to change outfits constantly.

4. Are you limited or liberated by this way of making comics?

GUINAN It’s a mixed bag. I mentioned some of the limitations already. On the other hand, I am liberated from having to sweat over rendering details like architectural perspective drawing, or how light falls on the clothing folds of a hunched-over figure—that sort of thing.

5. Your wife (Anina Bennett) is the face behind Queenie and the Heartbreakers. What was her response when you told her she was going to be the basis for the Heartbreakers?

GUINAN She giggled like a schoolgirl. Nah, just kidding. Although I’ve always used Anina as a model in my work, the original model for the Heartbreakers in the late 1980s was actually her stepsister, Tamara Braun. Tamara later went on to become a soap opera star. Anina started modeling for Queenie and company in the mid-1990s, after we moved to Portland. By the time we did the Boilerplate crossover graphic novel, they looked so much like her that the transition to photo-based art was seamless.

6. How did you talk your friends into posing for your comic book?

GUINAN I say, “Wanta play a part in my next graphic novel?” And the response is always “Yeah, that’d be way cool!” It seems everyone loves comics these days.

7. Do your friends get residuals for their modeling work?

GUINAN They get copies of the book and bragging rights to being a comic book character. Plus our eternal gratitude. Our friends know that these kinds of creator-owned graphic novel projects don’t make much in the way of profits. When the Hollywood deal comes through, though, I’ll remember my pals!

8. As you know I'm deploying to the desert soon so I have to ask, may I take Boilerplate with me to Iraq?

GUINAN Boilerplate would want to go instead of you, since its purpose is to replace human soldiers in military conflicts.

9. You’ve said of your new book, “It’s more a history book than about the robot. It’s kinda a sneaky way to get people to read history. I just snuck the robot into parts of history.” I gather you are a history buff. Has this project added to your love of history? What time period do you find most fascinating and why?

GUINAN I’m a huge history buff, with a bent towards military history. The turn of the 19th/20th century was the origin point of our present-day culture and economy. From major inventions or discoveries such as airplanes, electric lighting, and telephones, to rights and protections we take for granted such as child labor laws, national parks, and women’s suffrage—it all began at the dawn of the last century.

10. You were the guest of honor at SteamCon in Seattle, WA last fall. Could you tell us about that experience and will you and Boilerplate be attending the next one?

GUINAN It was an all-around terrific experience! Boilerplate was a huge hit. The author guest of honor, Tim Powers, declared it “the most fascinating history book I’ve ever read”—and he’s read a lot of them. Anina and I did readings from the book, and I MC’d the combination high tea and steampunk fashion show.
Most of the convention attendees were dressed up, in straightforward Victorian outfits as well as elaborate costumes with Jules Verne-like accessories. Best of all, everyone we met was smart, creative, and well-mannered. Steampunks rule. Anina and I plan to go back this year.

11. What has the tour experience for Boilerplate been like? Are you comfortable plugging your own work?

GUINAN Anina based this letter from Boilerplate’s inventor, Archie Campion, on my attitude: “So accustomed had I grown to working day in and day out, utterly absorbed in constructing my mechanical soldier, that upon its completion I felt at first a sense of great relief and accomplishment, followed at once by panic. Having created this marvel, I now face the far more onerous chore of peddling it like a street vendor.”

12. How did Periscope Studios come together?

GUINAN David Hahn organized the studio back in 2002, with nine members. It was originally called Mercury Studio. Today we’re up to two dozen members, and the remaining founders are myself, David Hahn, Steve Lieber, Ron Randall, and Karl Kesel. Studio members do work for all the major comic book publishers as well as commercial clients such as movie studios and ad agencies. We all also do small-press, online, or self-published comics, which generally allow more room for creative freedom.

13. Any chance I could talk you into letting me visit the studio?

GUINAN Well, since you’ve had your inoculations, I think you’ll be safe. Come on down!

14. The website says you’ve all worked for DC at some point in your careers. How did it feel to get your first job from one of the big guys? How did Chronos come about?

GUINAN I started out doing advertising storyboards, then worked as a staff artist at First Comics, then freelanced for First, DC, Marvel, and Dark Horse. Since I came up through the ranks, instead of “breaking in” by sheer persistence, freelancing for DC was just another gig.
As for my stint on Chronos, I blame the greatest comic book editor who ever lived: Archie Goodwin, the namesake of Boilerplate’s inventor. He knew how much I wanted to work with him on some kind of period piece. When he green-lighted a heroic revamp of the time-traveling DC villain Chronos, Archie approached me with the opportunity to redesign the character, co-create, and draw the monthly series.

15. In your autobiography cartoon strip you mention the Heartbreakers. What kind of influence did the 1970’s punk rock band have on you as a bellbottomed youth?

GUINAN I was even more into the Ramones, Buzzcocks, and Clash. All part of my raging-hormone years. It’s nice to see teenagers slouching around in the same clothes and listening to the same music I did—makes me feel relevant in my dotage. The generation gap died sometime in the 1980s, as far as I can tell.

16. Have any of the surviving members of the band contacted you about the homage to their name?

GUINAN Not yet. I’m also still waiting for Jenna Jameson to admit that her broken-heart tattoo is based on our comic book.

17. Do you ever miss working on television? What could bring you back?

GUINAN An 11:30 p.m. time slot on NBC.

18. What was the first comic you ever owned/read?

GUINAN I can’t remember the very first one, but I can tell you that my favorite comic as a kid was Jack Kirby’s Kamandi. When that series came out, I had straight, shoulder-length blond hair; I was totally into Planet of the Apes, gangster movies, and Westworld; and I lived in Chicago. So when the apes vs. Chicago robot gangsters story arc ran in Kamandi, I flipped out—this comic was being created just for ME!

19. What/who is the most important influence on your comic book career?

GUINAN All of the 1970s naturalist comics illustrators: Nick Cardy, Russ Heath, John Severin, Gray Morrow, Curt Swan, etc. When I started drawing professionally, Howard Chaykin’s page layouts were also a huge influence.

20. Who would win in a battle, Mr. Hero or Boilerplate?

GUINAN Hmm, good question. Boilerplate has a super-durable body, tremendous strength, military training, and simple power source. I’d need more detailed specs on Mr. Hero in order to make a proper judgment. But if I had to pick, of course my money’s on Boilerplate! What do you think?...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What is the Beanbag?

Imagine you are 7-years-old, lying in a hospital bed about to go into surgery because you where born with a broken heart, literally. Stephan Lapin doesn’t have to imagine this, it happened to him. He went through two heart transplants one at 7 and another at 15. His second heart became diseased and decided to give up and die, the doctors having barely the time to save young Stephan. How would you react to these circumstances? How would you cope? Would you create a comic book, pull artist from around the world together to work on it and then give the profits away?

That is exactly what Stephan Lapin has done! In 2006, shortly after his second heart transplant, Stephan created Beanbag a 5th Dimensional character that travels through the multi-verses in an adventure that could only be captured by the best in the biz! Dave Gibbons, Neil and Josh Adams, Dave Sim and many, many more have joined in this charitable project to benefit the Boston Children’s Hospital in appreciation of their care for him while a patient there.

The day I found out about this kid I shot an email to him and a week later had him on the phone to pick his brain. Who is he? How did this project come to be? How, seriously, how did he get so many talented and well know artist to work on it? What is a 5th Dimensional being? Well, sit down, take a load off and discover the answers to these and many more questions as I chat with Stephan Lapin:

W/IC: Who is Stephan Lapin?

LAPIN: A cartoonist.

W/IC: How old are you?


W/IC: So, you are still a Senior in High School?

LAPIN: Currently, until I move on to a college.

W/IC: You’ve had two heart transplants; may I ask why you needed them?

LAPIN: When I was about 7, I believe, my real heart, the one I was born with had holes in it so I needed a heart transplant so the one I got eventually got a disease… it was wearing down a lot so I had to get a second one. Bear in mind I was asleep when this happened, when they opened me up my heart died then and there. I was pretty lucky to get a new one that day!

W/IC: Everything good now?

LAPIN: Ya, everything is good with this one. Yeah, it’s fine.

W/IC: What was the draw to comics for you?

LAPIN: I like comics because I found artwork, stories, and ideas that are looked down at. I mean when I was little, I must have liked comics because it's sort of a "boy thing" but now that I am getting older, I enjoy them on a deeper level, like the craft that is put into these comics and characters. It’s also an escape.

W/IC: What was your first comic book?

LAPIN: Before I was really, really into comics I had hand me down comics if you will. My aunt actually went to a comic store near here and bought comics and gave them to me. Comics like, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Archie), The Tick, Spider-man and I really liked Venom and tried to get any books with Venom in it. I think maybe he’s a little over-rated now.

W/IC: What is your favorite comic book?

LAPIN: I wouldn’t know. I’m 18 I haven’t read enough yet. I haven’t been a collector that long. I really like Alan Moore. Have you read his run on Supreme?

WIC: uh… sadly, no or rather, not yet.

LAPIN: The whole concept was really original!

W/IC: What are you reading now?

LAPIN: I really like Kick-Ass. It’s a great comic! Irredeemable is really good but for new comics that is really good. I like to look at stuff from the past. I’m someone who likes Will Eisner, I like the story… those stories are good.

W/IC: You speak highly of Alan Moore, is he the writer who has had the most influence on you?

LAPIN: No, I could never write as good as him. My friend Toby actually, his humor has really influenced [Beanbag]. It’s really off the wall and I have to tame it down. Mine is wittier. A lot of local people have had and inspire me.

W/IC: What about artists, who has had the most influence on your art?

LAPIN: Todd McFarlene…

Influence says you try to emulate and I don’t really do that. I had a friend that pushed me to do a more American style. Everyone at the time was really into Manga and they were really bad at it, including me. The Beanbag, when I first drew him, he was a very Manga looking character. It wasn’t until more recently I tried to make a style of my own.

W/IC: One more inane question before we get back to Beanbag, who is your favorite superhero?

LAPIN: Marvel or DC?

W/IC: Both.

LAPIN: Okay, Marvel: Daredevil. DC: Batman & Superman…um, there are so many characters… I tend to follow the creators. Like I’m reading Daredevil: Visionaries Frank Miller right now cause I love the creator so I love Daredevil.

W/IC: Do you have a favorite creator?

LAPIN: Frank Miller… I have multiple favorites.

W/IC: (Laughs) don’t we all. K, now back to the topic of this blog…

How did Beanbag come to be?

LAPIN: Before I was skilled at drawing I came up with this little character.

I created him about six years ago in a Staples store… Okay, there have been about five or four projects that I have started and then they never get finished… It is because the Beanbag starts getting exciting again so I stop those other projects and move back to Beanbag. (This was all before it became a book for charity.)

W/IC: I’d like to discuss the science behind Beanbag. You said in your blog there is a theory, which states our whole universe is curved and condensed. What did you study to devise your dimensional ideas for the book?

LAPIN: Um… I… my biggest enemy is Mr. Mxyzptlk. I hate that character. I always feel this is going to happen, I think people are going to think [Beanbag] is Mr. Mxyzptlk. So, I’m making everything in Beanbag possible through science. Everything he does is carefully researched. I try to research some of these ideas myself, keep in mind none of this shows in the book but it’s like background details. Like in a movie, all the research they do.

We are friends with a nice Jewish couple, the man is a physicist… he kinda explained the idea of dimensions. He was quite helpful but my two friends from college are very helpful too... If you really get into the character of Beanbag he is omnipotent because he is 5th dimensional, he can take anything anywhere by bending space and time.

W/IC: So he’s kinda dangerous?

LAPIN: I play him up not like a wise deity but a character that is looking at us like we are animals. He is only playing around. The only reason to go through all this research is in order to explain something other than to just say its comics. I want to explain things… It is scientifically mind boggling that sci-fi uses “dimension” instead of “multi-verse.” Apparently sci-fi writers think it’s a place but it’s really not.

W/IC: What is the Beanbag story about?

LAPIN: Beanbag is sent through dimensions, he is very fascinated with 3rddimensional life so he gets sent to study [it].

In the beginning I thought it was best if instead of an artist doing five page mini stories… the artist [could do] one page, which turned out easier to ask an artist for one page. The stories are now like one-shot stories, each kinda on their own.

W/IC: How does the script work then?

LAPIN: When someone agrees to do a page I ask if they have a character Beanbag could meet. Sometimes they say yes but if they don’t, then I have to come up with a script that is funny and witty enough for the book.

W/IC: How many pages will the completed book be?

LAPIN: Forty-four pages.

W/IC: Have all the artists done the pencils and inks?

LAPIN: There is one person who mailed to me the page to ink. Then two others I opted to ink for them. Because of technical difficulties they lost the pages. So they may not be in the book. One artist actually drew it on the computer I asked for 600dpi and he said no, I'd have to redraw it.

W/IC: How many hard copies do you have?

LAPIN: It's like comic law that the artist keeps the original, but I have the originals of 3 pages including Dave Gibbons. They usually just give ‘em a scan.

W/IC: How many are left to finish and will it be in color or B&W?

LAPIN: Black & White. It would be great if we had color but it would be way to expensive… leaving the artwork in B&W is equally cool. Someone drawing really raw, seeing it in B&W before the color is slobbered on… It’s cool to see Dave Gibbons line work untouched.

W/IC: Speaking of Dave Gibbons, how did you get him to work on this book?

LAPIN: I met Mr. Gibbons at the New York Comic Con and talked to him personally about the project. In fact, the whole reason I was at the NYCC was to give out fliers and ask artist to join. What was on the flyer was basic contact info. I gave my schpeal… and left him a flyer.

W/IC: Did he agree on the spot?

LAPIN: I waited for a reply until I sent off a letter to his publisher that was forwarded to him, another month later I got an email. We talked back and forth about the project, he asked for a script and a couple months later he sent the full page, hard copy, to me!

I asked him what his favorite genre was to draw. He told me science fiction. So, I had several friends write up scripts and [I wrote] my own and he choose mine out of all those.

W/IC: What is it like when you get a “yes” from some of these big names?

LAPIN: I usually have to re-assure myself, like, “Wow! They are actually doing this?”

I think it depends on how you communicate it with them. Dave Gibbons, I had to ask him personally and I was a nervous wreck. Meeting with him was very nerve wracking but on the Internet it’s easier. I just say, with a smile, “wow, this is cool.”

I can’t share this with people like my parents or teachers. I can tell my friends and they will say, “that’s awesome,” but then it dies down until more exciting things happen.

W/IC: Have you found a lot of artists cooperative?

LAPIN: David Lloyd illustrated V for Vendetta, I asked him to be a part of the project and he said he was to busy. That happens but there are so many people that have time and interest in this. The whole idea evolved immensely 4 years ago and I find it interesting I was still working on it when I was in the hospital for my second transplant. I could have died and that would be the end of it. The length of time helps with the quality of the project. Like maybe I wouldn’t be talking to you if it had been finished like two years ago.

W/IC: So, what do your parents think about all this?

LAPIN: My parents do care about the Beanbag and are very proud, on the inside; the just don’t talk about it often. I sometimes talk to them about it but they seem un-interested. But they do care about and consider it is a very nice thing for me, at my age, to do.

They kinda have mixed feelings, I don’t think they appreciate it like I do; they are more concerned with school and my social life. I should be drawing the Beanbag but I haven’t because of school. I get scolded about school and nagged to go outside.

They do take me to the hospital and of course the NYCC. But they don’t understand some things. It’s not every day you get to collaborate with Dave Gibbons! Like, I told them I was being interviewed for the Beanbag comic and they just nodded, “Yeah, that’s cool.”

W/IC: Had either of them ever been into comics?

LAPIN: No. They know I really like them and am educated in the field of comics but they wouldn’t know anything unless I broke it down for them.

W/IC: I’d like to touch on a negative rumor you had to address not to long ago. What were the scam rumors about?

LAPIN: Okay, yeah so, I was at the Granite State Comic Con in New Hampshire and I was sort of picking up the cards of the illustrators so when I’d get home I would send off my flyer.

I got a message that said, “I’ve been hearing that this is actually a scam… next time we see you at a comic con we’ll throw you out!”

Someone started this rumor, I don’t know who, so that is why I have the email of the Art Coordinator for references. (

W/IC: Coming back to something you mentioned early in the interview, you said this wasn’t always going to be a charity. Could you elaborate on that?

LAPIN: The reason it wasn’t a charity at first is because it started as just a comic idea I wanted to be grand and original. After about two to three years of getting nothing done, it was brought to my attention I should make it a charity so that the guest artist get something out of contributing one page. I was talking to my uncle about my project, at my grandfather’s birthday; he mentioned he had a friend that ran the NYCC. So, I asked if he could help. To make this short, it occurred to my uncle that no one would join the project unless it was for a charity so my family suggested making it to benefit the children’s hospital.

W/IC: What is the hospital getting?

LAPIN: What the Boston Children’s Hospital is getting is the profits from the book.

Liberty Comics by Neil Gaimen is pretty adult but all the profits go toward the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. That’s sort of like what Beanbag is, I’m not sure if they would get how cool it was that someone like Dave Gibbons was in it but those that read comics will.

W/IC: What are you hopes for the book?

LAPIN: I hope it makes money for the hospital, I hope I grow in recognition, and I hope people like the little fellow himself so they will follow his adventures in books to come.

If the first one is well received

W/IC: What are your plans for printing?

LAPIN: Get a decent sample together and send it out to publishers and see if they will take the book, how can you say no? Worst-case scenario is I self-publish but that will be harder for national distribution.

W/IC: Have you considered putting up a website?

LAPIN: I would be open to that though I'm not sure how a website works.

W/IC: Do you have a guestimate for when Beanbag might see print? late 2010 or sometime in 2011?

LAPIN: Um, late 2010 or middle ground.

W/IC: Well it’s been awesome getting to know you and I wish you all the best, Stephan. Good luck, sir!

Check out some of the artists Lapin has been able to pull together for this project, including names from popular books to indie favorites: Dave Gibbons (Watchmen); Dave Sim (Cerebus); Rob Guillory (Chew); Josh Adams; Neal Adams (Astonishing X-men); Scott Ambruson; Edward Bickford; Bill Chiang; Andrew Fox; Oliver Simonsen; Isaak Lien; Nicholas Repenning; Nicole Davies; Marili Ramirez; Dave North; Brian Lopez; Trisha Cezair; Lewis Killin; Dan Larson!

And to read more about the Beanbag you may follow these links: