It’s the end of an era, but the dawn of a new one. Actually, 3 issues
hardly constitutes an era, but it’s certainly been a large slice of our life for almost a year. Extra Sequential began as a noble ambition to let the world know how truly awesome and surprising comics are. Two guys with full-time jobs means that it has been a labour of love, and time is always more valuable than money, as both Dave and I never have enough of it to devote to ES. Dave’s a family man and anyone else who is knows what a tremendous commitment that it is. I, on the other hand, am a single guy, whose only major commitment is to the keyboard (not the musical kind). Writing 99% of what appears in ES, plus the accompanying website, as well as doing interviews and the occasional review for www.brokenfrontier. com means that the few hours I possess each night are also taken, and very happily so. However the real point of the matter is that ES is ending, but it’s not for the reason you may imagine. As evidenced by my rant above Dave and I are busy, just like everyone else. ES has been a golden opportunity that has catapulted our once dormant creative impulses to the fore and we are bubbling with inspiration. We want to keep being busy, and when we started this mag we gave ourselves a year – 6 issues to get it out there in the world and be content with our achievement, if nothing else. Well, now the next step has come - much sooner than we anticipated, and we are blessed to be reminded that life’s movements can not be guessed. Basically, Extra Sequential is going to print. We’ve been talking with a very gifted publisher since the start of the year. We can’t say too much more than that at the moment, but the first issue of the print version of Extra Sequential should be in the Previews catalogue by November, with the first issue hitting comic shops, and U.S newsstands in January 2010. It will be different than ES, with a different look, and name, but filled with the things that make comics and pop culture engrossing. Thank you so much for reading the fruits of our labour. It’s always great to see such efforts appreciated and enjoyed, and it lifts our spirits high.
Stay tuned at www.comicbookjesus..com for daily hip happenings and happy hippenings in the world of sequential art and for updates and announcements on what’s next for us. It’ll be worth the wait. 4
Collage by Daniel Sihler www.dsihler.blogspot.com
Gestalt is an indie publisher that’s fighting far above its weight class.
Wolfgang Bylsma and Skye Ogden formed the company in 2005 in Perth, Western Australia. It’s not exactly the centre of the sequential art industry, but Gestalt’s unique output has assured their rightful place in “the biz.” Their choice of surprising works combined with both fresh and established voices within comics means they are a company that will continue to be noticed. Gestalt’s latest books are The Example by Tom Taylor and Colin Wilson, which is based on Wilson’s play about two people and a mysterious briefcase at a train station, as well as the anthology Flinch. Flinch is a 120 page black and white “collection of engaging stories by established and emerging creators, all playing on their interpretation of flinch.” It features work by Shaun Tan, Skye Ogden, Justin Randall, Chris Bolton and more, and its stories include a prisoner and his motivations, a serial killer’s confessions and a dying Earth. Bylsma has not only been the Managing Director of Gestalt since its inception, but has also been involved in the weekly Faster Than Light radio show since 1995. Somehow he managed to find the time to talk to us.
Was it a natural progression from community radio to publishing? I was drawn to community radio as a means of reviewing and discussing the material that I was passionate about, with the idea that it would help promote books, comics and graphic novels that seemed otherwise to fall under the radar. Having worked in a comic shop in my teenage years, it was evident that the more artistic/literary end of the comic world went largely unsung in Australia and I was keen to rectify that. The radio show also gave me the opportunity to interview creators I admired which was very inspirational and occasionally eye-opening in terms of the ethics (or sometimes apparent lack thereof) that existed within the industry in the US. Meeting Skye Ogden by chance and viewing the first chapter of his VOWELS graphic novel inspired me to want to create an opportunity for his work to be published, and the rest is history.
How is the business side of things creatively fulfilling for you? Getting the production values ‘just right’ is tremendously satisfying, and we pay a considerable amount of attention to paper stock, decisions as to textual content (eg. Foreword, cover quotes... etc), and the editorial process itself is fulfilling through assisting creators to refine their own approach, often accomplished by simply asking questions. Releasing a book into the US and other markets is also highly satisfying as the orders we receive serve to vindicate our approach and affirm our belief that we’re doing something worthwhile.
Is it difficult running a publishing company in Perth, rather than in the hub of comics activity in America? Operating Gestalt out of Perth, Western Australia does pose a few complications -- namely, we are subject to variations in exchange rates as most of our sales occur within foreign territories. We print in Singapore and distribute via the US, so shifts in exchange rates can dramatically affect p our profitability. For example, the hike in the value of the AUD against the USD in mid-2008 meant
that we were about 30% down on revenue from sales of “Waldo’s Hawaiian Holiday” based on our projections per units sold. This also affected the price we could charge locally as, even though we were faced with the freight costs of bringing books into Australia, the US price of $19.95 meant that people could order it from Amazon.com or other online retailer AND have it delivered for less than our local retail price. We also face difficulty in creating exposure and goodwill within the larger comics community in the US as we’re unable to attend conventions throughout the States, organise book signings in US stores, etc as our creators also mostly reside within Australia. Whilst the internet has served us well in terms of generating exposure, we would do much better with more face-to-face communication with our audience, retailers, wholesales, et al.
What’s the significance of Gestalt as the company name? We derived the ‘Gestalt’ brand from the German word based out of its use in psychoanalysis, but the term itself holds various definitions (although having no direct translation into English). The most widely-known definition is “a wholeness greater than the sum of its parts” -- which we felt was particularly apt for the synthesis of literary and visual arts that are found within the comics form.
What was the reasoning for the sequel to Repo Man? Was that a defining film in your youth? “Waldo’s Hawaiian Holiday”, the graphic novel sequel to “Repo Man” was a project that found us more than anything. We’d been working with Chris Bones on other projects, including a story in our first “Character Sketches” anthology, when he discovered the Waldo script on Alex Cox’s website. Having received permission from Alex to create a graphic novel using that script, Bones then sought a publisher that would do the project justice -- and whilst we were on the shortlist, we were initially unable to provide the financial backing that other US-based publishers were offering. However, after complications with contracts and the like from other publishers, we made another offer based on profit-share that WAS acceptable to Alex, Bones and Justin Randall (who provided the glorious textures and colouring) and we moved on from there. We knew that this would be something of a landmark book for us, and that it would help provide greater exposure into the US. Whilst “Repo Man” had been a cult favourite of mine whilst growing up, the decision to publish the sequel was based more on business and promotional reasoning.
If you had to recommend a few graphic novels for people new to comics, what would you suggest? There are a few recommendations I’d make for people just starting to explore the world of comics; Y The Last Man, Scott Pilgrim, Vowels, Pride of Baghdad, We 3, Blankets, Transmetropolitan and absolutely anything by Will Eisner.
You have a pretty diverse line-up. Is that a deliberate move away from the shadow of the almighty superhero? It’s a deliberate move towards characters and scenarios that we feel speak beyond their own narrative. We’re interested in the poignancy of the story first and foremost, which doesn’t rule out superheroes by any stretch of the imagination. That said, we don’t see any point in being limited by traditional expectations of the comics medium either. We go where great storytelling takes us.
What upcoming books are you most excited to unleash upon the public? There are quite a few on the horizon -- Justin Randall’s “Changing Ways” being the next major project, followed by Christian Read & Michael Maier’s “Eldritch Kid: Whisky & Hate” and Tom Taylor’s “Brief Cases” which will feature many of his stories brought to life by some of the finest Australian illustrators around including Colin Wilson, Skye Ogden and a host of others. There are a few other projects under development as well, but we’re not at liberty to reveal too many details just yet...
For a relatively small publisher, you’ve managed some impressive mainstream exposure. Is that just luck, or hard work? I’d say it’s a combination of a little luck and an almost obscene amount of hard work. Thanks to some careful planning and a very targeted approach we’ve had coverage in Entertainment Weekly, Publishers Weekly, several Australian and US newspapers and a host of comics-related websites. It’s taken years of continual effort, networking and positioning to achieve this kind of coverage -- there is, after all, little point in publishing the fine books that we do if people don’t get the chance to find out about them!
By Mladen Luketin www.myspace.com/purgeaudit In the west, there’s been something of an explosion in the popularity of anime (Japanese animation) in the last decade, and it is in no small part due to Studio Ghibli’s broadly appealing modern fantasy films. Films like “Spirited Away”, “Princess Mononoke” & “Howl’s Moving Castle” have proven that anime has picked up and ran with the ball that Disney awkwardly fumbled sometime in the early nineties. While western feature film animation has taken a somewhat unfortunate turn to celebrity-voiced slick 3D, the Japanese continue to push the possibilities in traditional cel animation combined with subtle use of digital animation, focusing on well-told and engaging stories as well as beautiful and kinetic animation. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was created by Madhouse, the studio that has brought us an incredibly broad range of films and styles, including parts of “The Animatrix”, “Death Note”, “Ninja Scroll” and “Perfect Blue”. The film has the same appeal of many of Studio Ghibli’s, and will definitely appeal to the same audience. At its core, the Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a slice-of-life story of a teen girl’s coming of age, wrapped in an entertaining and often hilarious time-travel story. When we first meet the lead character, Makato, her life is in disarray. Always late to classes, failing her tests, clumsy
and awkward, she’d rather throw the baseball around with her two best friends Chiaki & Kosuke than study or think about her future. When Makato accidentally (and mysteriously) gains the ability to literally ‘leap’ backwards in time, she finds she has the ultimate ‘do-over’ tool. She uses her power to fix the little things that go wrong, switching stations in her home-room class to keep from getting sloshed with tempura, resitting failed pop quizzes, spending as much time as she wants in a rented karaoke room, and avoiding her best friend’s awkward confession of his love for her. The problem comes when her choices, or rather her avoiding the decisions in life, result in distancing her friends and inadvertently causing trouble for others. To make matters worse, she finds out she only has a limited number of ‘leaps’ left and has been recklessly wasting them. She has to learn how to live with her decisions and the hard things in life. The story closes with a twist few will see coming, and although a bit far fetched, is handled surprisingly well in the context of the film. “Girl” successfully blends 3D and traditional cel animation, using digital animation to great eﬀect in the time travel sequences, as well as subtly augmenting the traditionally animated scenes throughout the film, from the soft and barely perceptible shifting of clouds, or the fast paced camera movements in the train-crossing-accident sequences. Although not a huge box-oﬃce success upon cinematic release (eclipsed by the far inferior Ghibli film of the same year, “Tales From Earthsea”), The Girl Who Leapt Through Time has done exceptionally well in international festivals and has garnered numerous awards. The two disc DVD release comes packed with features including commentaries and interviews, and the main feature itself comes both subtitled and dubbed into English. Although I don’t normally like to watch my anime dubbed, I thought the dub here was reasonable and the character voices well chosen. This is a must-buy for fans of whimsical, modern fantasy, drama or slice of life anime. If you would liked “Girl” and want more, you can check out, “Whisper of the Heart” (Ghibli), “Spirited Away” (Ghibli), “5 centimetres per second” (CoMix Wave Inc), or “The Place Promised in our early days” (CoMix Wave Inc).
hole Review cover of every book for Swallow Me W topics they put on the inside
You know those vague ma, s Swallow Me Whole has Family Dra catalogue purposes? Well, Top Shelfâ€™ riguing as categories. It sounded like an int Schizophrenia and Hallucination ted. combo to me, and I wasnâ€™t disappoin ry e a master, knowing when to fill eve Nate Powell commands the page lik e d when to let the emptiness of the pag white space with luscious details, an combines the best of Woody Allen speak volumes. With a clarity that at heâ€™s doing and makes brave choices and David Lynch Powell knows wh en ve choices about page design too. Oft bra kes ma o als He e. tiv rra na ing regard borders the comic book form, such as rigid of s ent elem al ion dit tra of ing pos dis uses everything on the page to reflect and speech balloons, Powell instead and l characters. With flowing graphics the deconstruction of the two centra il, s the sense that amidst inner turmo overlapping speech balloons, he create ries on regardless. there is still a world out there that car
Siblings R uth and P erry atten and talks d Wormwo to them, an od high sc d Perry ha Like Donn hool. Ruth s a rather ie Darko, t collects in vocal wiza he kids kn normal, bu sect rd on the e ow they’re t aren’t su nd of his p s hallucinat re what to Ruth with encil. ing do about it un . Their dyin and that it’s not ex listen to th derstanding, and en act g grandm e voices, fo courages h other inspir ly r she know er confuse becomes a es d grand d st bully targ aughter to et, and ope hey won’t last foreve him to dra ns up to h r. At the sa w for the s is doctor a me time P afety of “t local muse bout the w erry he mission um, which iz ard who or .” Eventua gives her m telepathic d e lly Ru rs uch excitem frog ent, and th th gets a job at the This a slow . e opportun moving bo ity to resc ok, with ev that just s ue a en the tim erves to giv e frame a t e the narra such as gr hing of un tive more w andma’s d certainty, eight and eath, even is a greate but makes the more powe r sense of grounded rful. Towa clarity, no particular events, rds the end t only in t ly Ruth. T of the book he story, b he book’s e and fanta there ut also wit nding is s sy, hin Perry, uitably fil and their q but we are shown ho a n led with po d pe in the p uiet desper ssibly trag air’s desir ation for g surround e d y e to cling t reater purp them o one anot ose among For those w h e r the shaky ho like the happening sketchy st in this boo s that ylings of k is for yo Craig Tho u. For thos hanging in m pson’s Bla e who like the air, thi nkets, the a clear cut s isn’t for showcase o a n a r r a t iv y e ou. Either f what this with no qu rt w estions art form is www.topsh ay, it is a elfcomix.c truly capa grand, me om ble of. andering
SwallowMeWholeDocument.indd .in ndd dd 1 dd
5/4/08 5/4/ 5 5/4 5/ //4 4/08 4 4/ 4/0 /0 08 8
Last year I went to San Diego Comic Con for the first time. As I gear up to go again this year, I thought I’d share my thoughts on my first adventure to fanboy haven......
It was a place of major announcements, long queues and ill-fitting costumes: San Diego Comic-Con. Held in July every year for the past 30 years, it packs in 125 000 fans of pop culture in to San Diego’s cavernous Convention Centre. It’s massive in every way. For the past few years Hollywood has descended upon the city with famous film makers and actors in tow, to promote next year’s films, to generate interest and to listen to the noisy praise and noisier criticisms from pop culture aficionados. Being a part of it makes you feel like a member of a secret club, privy to info months before the general public. It had always been my dream to go to the geek fest that gets mainstream attention, but still retains fanboy cred. With my newly gained status as a novice internet journo I finally had an excuse (not that I needed one). The trip from Perth took 22 hours (via Tokyo and LA) with almost as many hours sitting in airports sipping my Starbucks. But it was all worth it. All the major (and many minor) creators and publishers from the growing comic book world were there, as were a slew of other companies representing the toy, gaming, book, art, TV and film communities. There was something for everyone. Some went merely to meet their long-time idols, some went to promote their wares, and some went to meet a girl who wouldn’t mock their Spider-Man pyjamas.
The beauty of the Con is that you know everyone else is there for the same reason, which makes for a casual vibe and a great ice breaker. You can talk to anyone because you know they’re a fellow fan. However, my meandering diatribe on post modernism’s repercussions on sequential art would often be met with blank stares, a fact which I can only attribute to my indecipherable Aussie accent. Free shuttle buses constantly took the attendees every 10 minutes for 14 hours a day from the Con to the packed hotels around it. People were everywhere and the organisation required was on a military scale. Some of the witty lines overheard included, “Use your super speed to get to the front of the line,” and “How many Stormtroopers have you counted today?” Cute warning signs included, “Please do not touch the Sword of Grayskull,” and “Restrooms are for humans only.” Comic book geeks know how to have a good time. Usually this includes waiting for their parents to leave the house while they organise an underground Dungeons & Dragons party, but here they were in their element. Great costumes abounded, though for some their skill with a sewing machine could not overcome the force of gravity. Anyone over 40 who fears the gym should not be wearing body hugging lycra. The constant panels, exclusive screenings and Q & A sessions meant the events guide was the size of a phonebook. Not one to join lengthy lines however, I opted instead to spend time on the showroom floor speaking to writers, artists and publishers, swapping business cards and getting freebies. It was a fruitful time and I loved every minute of it. The entire city transforms in to nerd haven during Comic-Con and smiles abound; products of great weather, new friends and shopping aplenty. I filled two suitcases with goodies, plus my carry on luggage, and received scrutiny from Perth customs upon my arrival home, but once the growing and curious crowd gathered around my haul and laid eyes upon my exclusive He-Man figure, any further scrutiny was unnecessary.
The highlights were many, including having my photo with the head of DC Comics, experiencing my first earthquake (a measly 5.5) and getting an article published in the Con’s Souvenir Book. With some great photos, enough reading material until next year’s Con and invaluable contacts within the industry it was a trip well worth it.
Brian Cronin is the author of the excellent on-line column over at comicbookresources.com, entitled Comic Book Legends Revealed. Over 200 columns have now been written over the last 5 years and for new and old fans alike his regular look at sorting fact from fiction is an engrossing eye-opener. Cronin’s research is impressive and the number of stories appears to be endless. Now, some of those stories (over 130 in fact) have been collected in a new book. Was Superman A Spy? uncovers a multitude of strange tales from some of pop culture’s greatest characters. If you ever wanted to know which superhero Elvis copied his look from, if Wolverine was supposed to be an actual animal, and just why the Human Torch wasn’t allowed to join the animated Fantastic Four, this 256 page tome will entertain and educate you. What’s the most surprising legend you uncovered? The one you thought must be absolutely false, but discovered was actually factual? Great question. Let me think...as far as the legends in the book, I’d say it’s either the one about Herve Villecheze (don’t want to spoil too much by going more specific than that) or that George Lucas actually DID look to an old Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge comic book for inspiration for the rolling boulder scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. So often, those things “Creator X must have been thinking about Comic Y when he created Book/Movie Z” are total coincidences, but not in this case, which was surprising. As far as all of the six hundred plus legends that I have covered so far, I’d have to say it was that Jim Shooter not only wrote a script for a Dazzler film designed to incorporate the voices of Cher, the Village People, Rodney Dangerfield, KISS, Robin Williams, Donna Summer, and both Michael McKean and David Lander, but he also had sample copies of the script to share with me!!! How did you hook up with Plume as your publisher? My literary agent, Rick Broadhead, shopped the book around to a few publishers, and Plume appeared to be the most interested in the book. Rick did a great job taking the book around the industry. Did you have assistance in choosing what legends would make the cut? Outside of the requirement that it be 50/50 new legends and old legends, no, I had total control over what legends made the cut. Making it so that you not only have an equal amount of old and new AND having a reasonable balance of legends for each major character and company was certainly quite a bit of a challenge. Amusingly enough, the actual balancing was done about as low tech as you can get - I had all the possible legends written on a few pieces of paper that I would carry with me for days as I balanced the list out, crossing legends out here, adding legends here,. Will there be illustrations throughout? The cover certainly looks great. There are about 132 pictures in the book, I’d say it roughly boils down to 1 ever couple of pages. Sometimes, though, a few pages in a row will have multiple images. Sometimes, though, a few pages in a row will have multiple images. And yeah, the cover artist, Mickey Duzyj, did a great job, didn’t he? Very impressive. He was really easy to work with, too, as he let me make sug suggestions vis a vis what legends to feature in the little panels on the cover.
18 Is tthe book broken down in to categories?
Is the book broken down in to categories? Yeah, three parts - DC Comic Legends, Marvel Comic Legends, Other Companies Legends. And those parts are then split into chapters, or categories, I suppose you could call them, for the major characters. Like a chapter for Batman, a chapter for Hulk, a chapter for Superman, etc.
Are you impressed at the vast amount of knowledge, and interest, in these legends? I must say that when I began, I figured I’d get through 12 and then I’d be out of
material (by 12, I don’t mean 12 columns, I mean 12 legends total), but yeah, it’s amazing how much information there is out there. When I began, I figured it would be a popular series (mostly because as soon as I thought of the idea I thought, “Woah, that’s a pretty darn good idea. I would love to read a column like that!”), but yeah, it’s surprising just how much folks have supported the column. I really appreciate all the support from the readers - if it were not for reader suggestions, I don’t know if I’d still be doing the column! www.comicbookresources.com
For an impressive 14 years Robin Parrish was a well-respected music journalist and editor for various Christian music magazines and websites, such as CMCentral.com and CCM Magazine. In 2004 he created the on-line magazine, Infuze; a combination of art and faith with a healthy dose of pop culture appreciation. It was with Infuze that he was also able to showcase his fiction writing talents, which were soon discovered by Bethany House Publishers. This led to an impressive book deal covering a unique supernatural trilogy, with influences from Tolkien to modern comic books. The first novel, Relentless was launched in 2006, while Fearless and Merciless were released in the two years following. Collectively they became known as the Dominion Trilogy and were increasingly praised by a growing fanbase. Since the closing of Infuze’s doors, Parrish has concentrated his considerable skills on his writing career. His latest novel, Offworld is a sci-fi thriller focused on the first manned mission to Mars. Christopher Burke and his crew return to earth, expecting a joyous welcome home, but are shocked to find an empty planet. Now they must discover where humanity has disappeared to, and if they can be brought back. Offworld lands in July. Do you still keep up to date with the Christian music scene? Only peripherally. Anything major that happens, I usually hear about it one way or another. But as far as the daily minutia... Not so much. Christian Music was a major part of my life for a very long time, and it’s not like I decided one day I was going to just drop it or cut it out. I still listen to my favorite CDs and favorite artists. It’s more a matter of time and personal investment than anything else. And these days, I’m just more interested in directing my energies elsewhere. During your years in journalism, did you find yourself battling the dreams of becoming a novelist? I don’t think “battling” is the right word. It was always in the back of my mind. It was always the endgame I hoped to one day get to. But I worked as a journalist for so long that dreams of writing novels kind of faded from my daily thoughts over the years. I never forgot it, I just got focused on other things. Then all of a sudden, the novelist thing started happening, everything fell into place so easily, and it kind of took me by surprise, in that way. I didn’t see it coming at that point in my life -- I thought it would be years, still -- but looking back, God’s timing was of course perfect. Tell me about the two Ls (Lost and Lego) and how they intrigue you. Well, the thing they both have in common is that they’re both triggers for the imagination -- for me, anyway. Watching Lost really fires up the storytelling part of my brain. It’s so original, so different, and it’s absolutely brilliant. I’m convinced that when the ending of Lost comes, we’re going to be able to look back at this incredible saga that totally delivered on all of its potential. Building with LEGO is a great, tactile tool that helps me brainstorm when I need a break from the keyboard. The Lost blog I’m doing, ApproachingLOST.com, is something I’m having a ton of fun with. A lot of my regular readers have been trickling in over there, seeing the in-depth recaps I do after each episode and all the other stuff I post about. I love seeing all of the feedback that comes in from the Comments to each post. That site is really starting to steadily grow now. Book artwork courtesy of Bethany House Publishers
I’m working on some other blogging ideas as well. We’ll see where they go. Your career seems to be frustrating and rewarding at times, which I guess is the case for most writers. What stops you from leaving the keyboard behind and working at Starbucks? Because I would totally suck at Starbucks! I’d get so flustered trying to keep track of all those orders while people are standing there waiting. I’d be the worst barista ever! But I understand what you’re asking, and yes, there are days when I wish I could follow my passions and they would pay off better for me and my family. But it’s a process, a journey, and there are very few “overnight success” stories out there. I’m just trying to do what God wants me to do, and let him take care of the rest. Would you like to write comics full-time one day? DUDE. I’d LOVE to! I’d never give up writing novels, but if I could get a foot into the comics industry too, I’d go in guns blazing. I have so many ideas for graphic novels and comic books, and I feel like it’s a type of writing that I could pull off. It makes me ache that I don’t have the time or energy to pursue that right now. Is Offworld the culmination of ideas and interests you’ve had for a while now? Somewhat. All of my story ideas represent things that are of specific interest to me personally, or at least part of those ideas are. In this case, a lot of it was sparked by a lifelong interest in NASA and manned space flight. Even though this story is set on Earth, my main characters are astronauts, so I was able to bring a lot of those things into the story. I also got to create my own spacecraft from scratch, made for traveling to Mars and back, and I put a ton of research and thought into that. Thematically, the story is about loneliness and what happens to us when we’re isolated from other people. I believe that’s a terribly dangerous thing, but I’ll let the novel speak for itself as to why. Both Relentless and Offworld have fantastic concepts to hook the reader. How vital is an easy to grasp premise?
Photo Credit: Ashley Morgan.
The LEGO blog is mostly a “just for fun” kind of thing. It doesn’t make much money for us (though that potential is there, should it grow), it’s just another outlet for me to play with words and ideas like art and creativity.
Whether your premise is big or small, if you can’t phrase it or reveal it in such a way that it hooks the reader immediately... then it’s probably all for nothing. I write “high concept” fiction. Don’t misinterpret my use of the word “high” to denote something stuffy, like “high art” or “highminded.” I use the term “high concept” here to describe a basic premise that is, in a word, BIG. Simple for the reader to grasp, but huge in its implications and visual perspective. A few days ago, I went back to this notebook I have stuffed full of ideas for stories, and I realized that most of the stories in there -- and most of the stories I’m drawn to in pop culture -- are high concepts. Big, wild ideas. I guess it’s just in my DNA. Being a father has obviously changed your life, but how has it changed the way you approach your craft? Only in the sense that I always write late at night now, after my son has gone to bed! Are you already working on your next book, or books, or do you like to take a breather between each project? I do like to take a breather, but I’ve pretty much jumped right into the next book. A title announcement should be coming soon about Book #5. As much as Offworld is different than the Dominion Trilogy and takes my work into new directions, Offworld’s story hook is still something that my readers will have no trouble recognizing as “a Robin Parrish kind of story.” The next book is about something that’s going to surprise people, in a good way. I guarantee you’ve never seen anything like it in Christian Fiction before. It’s probably my favorite one I’ve ever had, but it’s about a subject that’s going to turn a lot of heads, and I don’t expect everybody will be entirely okay with it. But that’s part of what art does -- it asks uncomfortable questions, it provokes and challenges and makes you think outside of your preconceived, comfortable, safe little box. This is a book that’s going to do that in a big way, about a topic that no one is going to see coming. That said, it will have all of the stuff I do -- big suspense, a high concept, “summer blockbuster” fare, etc. Are there any upcoming books, films, games or comics that have your inner fanboy giddy with anticipation? Most of the summer blockbusters, of course. Star Trek, Transformers 2, Harry Potter. I love all of the big-budget stuff, but I also want to get a good story for my money. www.robinparrish.com www.approachinglost.com www.legonews.today.com
This tidy offering from Blacklist Studios is a pleasant surprise. is in the creator’s own words, “about a skull headed robot who fights giant monsters from Greek Mythology. From a storytelling standpoint, however, it’s somewhat a reworking of Frankenstein meeting Homer’s Odyssey- it’s the story of a thing created by Science who goes on a Hero’s journey of sorts to find out who he really is.” Not that you can tell that from this debut issue, entitled Colossus, but I certainly want to discover more about this steampunk amnesiac. Think of it as Jason Bourne via Hellboy. Now that’s intriguing. Created by writer Thomas Hall and artist Daniel Bradford this is a very accessible comic. It flows well and lets the concept flourish with great vigour. There are a few pages with Robot 13 wrapped in crimson tentacles that are a joy to behold. The use of very little dialogue, or exposition, is a brave one on Hall’s part, but thankfully the hook of a floating skull in an upturned fish bowl fighting creatures with his skinny limbs is enough to satisfy the curious. In future issues more will certainly be revealed about Robot 13 and his mission. Mike Mignola will be the most obvious comparison for most, in regards to the artwork. In his oblique angles, hard edges and generous use of black Bradford recalls the Hellboy creator, but isn’t an exact replica of him. The action is staged extremely well and the expressions of the old sea captain and the members of his crew that become the monster’s victims in the opening pages are also handled ably. What every good first issue does is create a tantalising need for more. This issue does that superbly. We are given just enough hints as to the amnesiac robot’s background as a man-made construct that we, like him, want to discover the mystery of his origin. There’s also some subtle melancholy and drama to make this more than a straightforward adventure yarn. Hall and Bradford have been in creative cahoots for the last 6 years and have also launched the Elvis as monster hunter series KING! and Enlightenment about serial killers during the apocalypse. They work together beautifully with Robot 13, and hopefully they’ll delve deeper into the mythological inspiration behind this series in coming issues. www.blackliststudios.com
Top Cow’s team up series, Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer launches on July 22. It’s written by Mark Waid, with art by Kenneth Rocafort. On the following pages are some of Rocafort’s dazzling character sketches from the hi-tech action series. www.topcow.com
To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the original Alien film, Dark Horse are bringing back the s ries, written by John Arcudi with art by Zach Howard.
slimey creatures. Out now is the first issue of their new
Detective Comics #854 Art and cover by J.H Williams III www.dccomics.com
Our final issue, before we go to glorious print next year is a 40 page farewell (for now). We have interviews with Robin Parrish about his n...