An Interview Wherein I Try to Prove That I Will Not Someday be Played by Kathy Bates

April 5th, 2010 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

The trick with interviewing comics creators is not coming off like that kind of fan.  You know the one: the fan that takes things personally, gets overly involved in every story arc and character moment, and generally makes life miserable for anyone unlucky enough to get their attention. 

This is particularly hard when you most definitely are that kind of fan, especially when it comes to – oh, I don’t know, let me pick a character out of a hat – Batgirl.  I admit, when I came up to Bryan Q Miller, the current writer of Batgirl, I was bouncing on my heels a little.  Despite everything, though, he agreed to an interview.

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Inside Wednesday Comics: Mark Chiarello Interview

September 4th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Ahhh, there is nothing like a press pass and a big pile of business cards to make a socially awkward nerd feel bold.  This year at San Diego I stalked creators like a panther, if a panther were near-sighted, walked on two legs, and kept nervously grabbing at its own chest to make sure its press badge hadn’t been stolen.

Despite all of this, many creators seemed happy to speak with me.  One such kind soul is Mark Chiarello, who I spoke to briefly and who agreed to an email interview about Wednesday Comics.

Find out about the future of Wednesday Comics and the possibilities for Wednesday webcomics below the cut.

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The Rocky Road to Publication: An Interview with the Creators of ‘Pray For Death’

August 4th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

I first met Nicholas Doan, the writer of Pray for Death, from Zuda, DC’s webcomic division at Wonder-Con.  When I ran into him in San Diego, with the comic’s artist Daniele Serra, they very kindly agreed to tell me about how their journey to publication.

Detective Abigail Jenkins is the inverse of the typical pop-culture cop; the one who is labelled a ‘loose canon’ by the press while the guys at the station indignantly talk about how he ‘gets things done’.  She’s lauded by the press after an early success, but condemned by her peers.  When she starts to investigate a serial killer with a religion fascination who thrills at the thought of getting caught, it seems everyone around her is setting her up to fail.

I ask Doan what inspired him.

“I think serial killers are society’s most complex, interesting and disturbed monsters,” he says.  The idea flowed from there.

How did he come to work with Serra?

At first, Doan was in contact with Septagon Studios about Pray for Death.  They put him in touch with Serra.

“I thank them every day for introducing us,” Doan tells me.  “I came up with the concept and he made it look pretty.”

‘Pretty’ isn’t the word I would use, either for the concept or the art.  The people in this comic aren’t glamourous.  They have weathered faces and preoccupied expressions.  The background is hazy.  The pages themselves look muddy and grim, with dark splatters of pigment splashed over them in places.  This style amplifies the noir tone of the book, as well as our sense of forboding as we look through it.  There is a feeling that the killer could very well jump from the shadowy panels.  And there’s the blood.

“The blood,” Doan says, “is perfectly used.”

He tells me that Serra used coffee to get the right pigment and texture.  When I ask Serra where he go the idea, he shrugs and says, “My breakfast.”

Septagon asked them for five pages and two covers, which they supplied.  Then they waited, for days, weeks, and finally months.  Two months in total, which as any creator can tell you, is grueling.

Finally, they went to Zuda.  I ask how their experience was there.

“They took care of us.  It was a good opportunity to be placed in a big company.”

And so, outside of Pray for Death, at least, there is a happy ending.  Inside?

Check it out.

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Cooke x Spurgeon

May 10th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Today’s Sunday interview is Tom Spurgeon versus Darwyn Cooke, with tag team assists from Scott Dunbier and Ed Brubaker. This is an interview that’s essentially custom built for me, as Brubaker and Cooke have, together and separately, created some of my favorite comics. Selina’s Big Score and their work on Catwoman are some of the best crime comics via superheroes ever, hands down.

It’s a conversation about Cooke’s Parker books, at least to begin with. However, it soon spirals off into a discussion of Donald Westlake’s body of work, what makes a good crime tale, and other must-read topics.

COOKE: It wasn’t news, but he wrote me the one time that the whole point of the series was an exercise at the beginning to see if he could write a character who’s completely internal. Where all the emotional content is internalized to the point where the only indication you get of how they might be feeling is how they act physically. I guess the book 361, which has the Westlake name on it, not the Stark name, is the first book where he first experimented with that approach. And then he rolled right into The Hunter. I’d say by the time you get to The Outfit, the third book in the series, he’s caught lightning in a bottle.

It’s another long and excellent read, like the rest of Spurgeon’s interviews.

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Newsarama’s Interview With Dan Didio

April 17th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

In this interview, Matt Brady asks Dan Didio about, among other things, Jason Todd’s recent killing spree.  Didio responds with this:

Let’s take this one from the very beginning. When a story is going to be told where we feel that a character crosses a moral line, we just don’t put that in arbitrarily. We think through how that affects everyone around him, and what the long-term ramifications of that action will be.

The perfect example of that was when Wonder Woman killed Max Lord. We thought that all the way through – we saw how that affected the relationship between Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. We saw what happens when that relationship breaks down, and how that affected the entire DC Universe, as well as how it was ultimately resolved. We saw those causes and effects all the way through. Or another case – Identity Crisis – we saw those events, the effects of those events, and how they played through the DC Universe. Every time that we try to do a major story where we feel a moral line has been crossed, there are always ramifications because of it. Things that you’re mentioning with Jason – of seeing him kill – are all potential stories for the future. Unless he doesn’t make it out of Battle for the Cowl, these are all story beats that we’d like to see play out throughout the DCU, and they’re all fodder for future storytelling.

Although I can see the point that he is trying to make, and although I recently wrote about this very issue as it pertains to Jason Todd, Didio’s response rings false to me.

In the first place, can’t any development become a set up for future stories?  If Jason Todd were to unexpectedly come into his own and become the hero of Gotham City, wouldn’t that be a good set-up for future stories?  It could be a call-back to the earliest version of Batman, a man who carried a gun and who regularly killed criminals while still being a respected hero.  If Jason Todd were, instead, to be captured, it would also be a set-up for future stories.  The Batfamily would have to band together to get him out.  If Jason Todd were turned into a frog, it would be a set-up for future stories.  (Best.  Zatanna story.  Ever.)  Since this justification can be given for any story at all, it becomes meaningless.  It doesn’t matter that an action can cause interesting events in the future if there is no reason for that action happening now.

Secondly, Gotham has been rather heavy on set-up lately, while being light on story.  Remember War Games?  It was a multi-title, multi-month event that set up Black Mask as the ruler of the city.  Then he didn’t do much.  Then he was killed.  Now he’s back.  And he’ll have, I suppose, a lot of competition for supremacy, since Face The Face was a long story that set up White Shark as the crime boss of Gotham City.  Where has he been lately?  Maybe he was bumped off by whoever it was who came out on top in Gotham Underground.  The name escapes me, since I’m pretty sure there have been no stories told about them, either.  Or maybe he’ll fight the Al Ghul family, headed by Ras, Nissa, Talia, Ras, Talia?  It’s not that DC hasn’t published some great ongoing stories.  It’s just that I’ve been hearing a lot about a set-up for future stories and comparatively little about the stories themselves.

Finally, there is Didio’s line, “Unless he doesn’t make it out of Battle for the Cowl, these are all story beats that we’d like to see play out throughout the DCU.”  Didio has a tongue-in-cheek interview style that doesn’t always come through in writing, so perhaps he’s making a joke.  If he isn’t, the entire paragraph falls down.

I don’t want to descend into angry fanism, but I’m growing a bit tired of hearing that no decision is arbitrary, that there haven’t been any mistakes in characterization, that there will be a justification for a certain character’s actions in a year, another book, an unannounced-and-unplanned-yet-possible storyline.  There should be a reason why a character acts a certain way.  That reason should have something to do with the character’s actions, attitudes, or immediate wants.  “We can write about it later,” is not that reason.

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Sons of DKR: Frank Miller x TCJ

April 6th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

This is an interview in The Comics Journal Library: Frank Miller, a book I bought a few years back on a whim. It’s a fascinating read, both in terms of Frank Miller’s career and opinions and comics history since he got started. It’s currently out of print, I believe, but if you find a used copy somewhere, snap it up. I don’t know that I’ve ever read an entire issue of The Comics Journal, but there are some great interviews in this book.

I transcribed this interview on a lazy Sunday a few weeks back. It isn’t the full interview, but it is probably a little over half. I left out the bits that were not relevant to Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, partly because they weren’t relevant and partly because I didn’t want to retype the entire interview.

This interview is a beast and a half. It’s almost 5000 words, but well worth reading. I do not have any commentary for it or pithy remarks. It can stand on its own. I’m posting it here because it deserves to be read, and because I’m going to be using it as reference and context for a couple of posts on Wednesday and Friday this week. I want to talk about a couple of books that owe a lot to Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, so maybe this will help me illustrate a few points.

I tried to go through and insert relevant links and images where needed, just to help with context and clarify a few points. Pardon the scan quality, as these aren’t my scans. Any errors are my own, though this should be pretty accurate.
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A Few Questions With Ian Sattler

March 20th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

During the panels of a Con, there is often a tug-of-war going on between panelists and attendees. The attendees ask question after question, trying to pull any possible information out of comics publishers, while the publishers bob and weave, trying to – all right, I’ve gotten a dodge ball metaphor in my tug-of-war metaphor, but the point is, the panelists try to keep as much information to themselves as possible.


And this year no one had to work as hard to duck the fast-flying continuity questions as Ian Sattler, the senior story editor at DC. Even at the sparsely attended Sunday Conversation panel, trying to get fans to stop asking continuity questions was like trying to pry a British Bulldog off a burglar’s ankle. Read the rest of this entry �

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RZA: Interview

July 29th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

RZA: Interview

I always thought the story of Bobby Digital would make a wicked comic book. Are you seriously considering it?

That’s what we’re doing now. We got a comic book coming. When you get the new album, you get a little taste of the artwork and the villains that I’ve created around the character. The Birds of Prey are after him, the main villain being the Raven. You also got the Hawk, the Vulture, the Eagle and the Crane. We have them incorporated inside the artwork of the album, as well. They’re also mentioned in the music, but you gotta listen closely.

In true RZA fashion, he peppers the interview with plenty of smart dumb quotes.

“You Can’t Stop Us Now” is pretty hot, though.

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Wrestlecomics Interview: Gavok Battles Shayne Hawke at Snarkfest ’08!

June 12th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

Yep. It’s already time for another interview, this time with an honest-to-Gog comic fan. First, I should point out that it’s been a while since I’ve done any articles that compare the CHIKARA DVD covers to their comic book counterparts, but I should be getting around to that next week. I hope.

In the meantime, check out this awesome cover of Café Culture, featuring Claudio Castagnoli.

Obviously, that’s based on the comic cover where… uh… Despero was… er… enjoying a cup of coffee. Yeah.


So! This time I get to interview Shayne Hawke, a charismatic youngster in the CHIKARA ranks with a lot going for him. He’s entered in this weekend’s Young Lions Cup 6 tournament, convinced he’s going to make it to the end and acquire the championship trophy. Meanwhile, he and his raspy mentor Mitch Ryder have won three tag matches in a row, thereby earning them a title shot against the tag champs Delirious and Hallowicked.

Shayne Hawke agreed to meet me up on the 4th Letter Helicarrier for an interview, mainly as an excuse to keep his pale hide out of the sun for a few minutes. I mean, that’s not what he told me, but I got that vibe just from looking at him. Anyway, the interview.

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Wrestlecomics Interview: Gavok Talks to Tim Donst… Sort of. Kind of. Not Really.

May 17th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

CHIKARA is getting set for another group of shows, so once again I’m capitalizing by badgering one of their wrestlers. This time, it’s Tim Donst, an American icon who mixes the best traits of Rick Steiner, Rocky Balboa and Dan Hibiki into one red-blooded grappling machine.

As coincidence would have it, my very first CHIKARA show was also young Donst’s first match. Being my first experience with the wacky fed, I was more enamored with the antics of the masked cultists calling themselves the Order of the Neo-Solar Temple, his opponents in a six-man tag match, and paid Tim little mind. Months later, I watched his performance as a singles wrestler at Young Lions Cup V and saw potential in his unique amateur/pro wrestling hybrid style. He just needed an extra, undefined something.

Then came the infamous match against that big bully Eddie Kingston, where the outclassed and overly punished Tim Donst stood up against Kingston’s never-ending in-ring torment and fought back, winning the hearts of the fans in attendance. With his newfound gusto, Tim gained respect in his following matches, no matter whether he won or lost. He even got the last laugh against Kingston by pinning him in a tag match.

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