Black History Month 2011: Carol Burrell

February 22nd, 2011 Posted by david brothers

Carol Burrell
Selected Works: SPQR Blues (first strip)

I didn’t know about Carol Burrell before Cheryl pointed her out to me a while back. I don’t even remember how far back–a year, two? Regardless, Burrell has been pumping out installments of SPQR Blues since 2005, all on her own. It’s about the citizens of Herculaneum, and is heading directly toward the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. It’s essentially a soap opera or a drama, if those are different things. People live, things happen, and you tune in to check it out.

What made Burrell’s work finally click with me wasn’t SPQR Blues (which is good), but her work ethic. I happened across two strips she drew while checking out her web presence. Read “Not-Drawn-to-Scale Me Explains It All In 25 Panels” and “Closer-to-Scale Me Explains It All In 4 Panels”. To make a short story (seriously, it’s 25 panels and then four panels, go and read the thing) shorter, Burrell had been drawing all her life until a repetitive stress injury screwed up her hand. She ended up needing therapy and not being able to draw. Nothing worked, nothing doing, and then she took some advice that Donna Barr, a cartoonist, gave her: draw 10,000 drawings and then you’ll find drawing a comic easy.

Burrell’s response was a great one. She went from scoffing to being a believer, and that second strip shows that she understood the truth in Barr’s statement. Doing ten thousand drawings (in this case a drawing is defined as a panel) forces you to get over yourself and just do the job. Doing it properly also teaches you your own weaknesses, which results in you getting better.

I can respect that. It takes a lot to be willing to focus on bettering yourself, and to be public about it takes even more. Very cool.

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Black History Month 2011: Spike

February 17th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

Selected Works: Templar, AZ (chapter guide)

I didn’t intend for all of these entries to be about how every single one of these people are trailblazers or inspirations or represent some facet of black life, and make this all, or partially, about me. Really, I just wanted to talk about some black creators I dig and just sort of point out the fact that they exist. But that isn’t really possible, because everything I like holds some special significance when examined, and who I am is part of why I like what I like. So I’m gonna roll with it. Case in point:

I only really dabble in webcomics. I read a handful, probably somewhere between 10 and 15, but my ear isn’t to the ground with webcomics like it is with print comics. Despite that, one name I hear on a regular basis is “Spike.” She writes and draws Templar, Arizona, and has been doing it since ’05. She’s done well enough at it that she keeps coming up as an exemplar of the format amongst my friends and the writers I follow. She lives off it, which is something to be applauded every single time it happens.

But a big part of the appeal for me is that Spike did it her way. Templar, AZ is her comic, and hers alone. She writes it, she draws it, she letters it, she hosts it, and she gets money for it. That’s basically the American dream, isn’t it? Being beholden to no one but yourself, doing what you want to do, carving out a new lane for yourself, being able to survive doing it, and having the complete freedom that we all deserve. She’s doing what all of us wish we could do.

So, hats off for Spike and Templar, AZ. Much respect due.

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Down with the king.

April 23rd, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Julian Lytle’s Ants has a special guest star this week. You should click through and check it out. Open this youtube video and have it playing in the background while you read. Props to Julian.

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Art Imitating Life

March 27th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Yesterday’s Dinosaur Comics is pretty much how every podcast pre-recording session goes between me and Esther:

In this situation, I am T-Rex and she is Utahraptor.

True story.

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Three Webcomics You Should Be Reading

January 7th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

-I usually say “I don’t really read autobio comics,” but that’s pretty much a lie, I’ve realized. Erika Moen’s DAR: A Super Girly Top Secret Comic Diary is fascinating to me. She ended it yesterweek, and I’ve had it open in a tab ever since, hopping around from strip to strip. It’s really strong and very entertaining. It’s also a little baffling to me, as well. Moen is able to share things on a level I’m completely incapable of duplicating. It’s not that I’m emotionally cold (hey lay-deez, how YOU dooooooin’), it’s just that she’s open in a way that’s both foreign and appealing. It’s good reading, and her farewell strip is a beast. Plus, the series of strips about the guy who pooped on her bathroom floor was funny.

-Emi Lenox’s Emitown is also must-reading, for both similar and different reasons. What I like is that it’s almost like a highlight reel, or skimming someone’s diary. You never know if you’re gonna get a post about one subject or six. It’s a fifty-fifty draw- you’re getting either a single round or buckshot. The only surety is that you’re gonna get shot. Pardon the tortured gun metaphor, what I’m really trying to say is that the strip is entertaining and her art is great. Great emotional work and it never feels cluttered. Look at the faces in this one. I particularly like the bit where the cat laughs at her. Dope sense of humor at work there. She updates throughout the week.

-Julian Lytle’s Ants is more of a sitcom than a serial gag comedy strip. You dip in and out of watching these guys interact with (or talk about) current events, video games, music, whatever whatever. The slanguage is on point, and each strip is just a glimpse into the life of these guys. The latest is part of a series where the ants are riding on Asgard because they’re out of Eggos. Lemme tell you this: I can relate, because if EL Fudges end up shorted? I’m going out masked up, eyebrows down, and a whole bunch of guns on the backseat of the car. Julian updates on Thursdays.

D-pi‘s Gratuitous Ninja has a few episodes out right now, and it’s shaping up to be pretty cool. It’s fresh, working in that same kind of cultural fusion lane as Jet Set Radio Future (sorry kids, I copped that on Xbox and missed it on Dreamcast) ran in. There’s a strong influence from video games, music, Japanese culture, and something I can’t quite put my finger on. I think Ron and I grew up on a lot of the same things, and it’s dope to see that on the page. Check it out on Wednesdays.

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Six Months of Ants!

October 1st, 2009 Posted by david brothers


Julian Lytle’s Ants has been going on for six months as of today. Click the picture above to read that strip, go to his site and read the latest strip, and subscribe. He’s a good dude with a good strip.

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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.

Read the rest of this entry �

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Just Another Post-Apocalypse Story

August 4th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Top Shelf has another goodie with Just Another Post-Apocalypse Story. It’s just 22 pages, and free, so you should definitely go and read it.

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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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Ants on Swine Flu

June 1st, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Click through, this is basically the best swine flu joke out there.

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