September 29, 2017

, , , , , , , , ,   |  

Won't You Take Me Down (Weekend Pattering for September 29th, 2017)

Panel

Al Williamson (Secret Agent Corrigan)

Previously on Panel Patter

Cover of the Next Week

Honestly, this cover has two things going for it.
  1. Mike Allred
  2. It's a homage to this classic cover, one of my all-time favorite Avenger covers.

Interviews


*** INTERVIEW: BLACK co-creator Kwanza Osayjefo talks the comic’s creative past, spin-off present, and movie future (The Beat)
Osayjefo:Though a majority of the creative team is black, we experience this in different ways, and that influenced the content–from Khary [Randolph]’s approach to covers to Derwin [Roberson]’s tones. Our editor Sarah [Litt] was a great sounding board and provided perspective on aspects of the story where we had blinders on. All of these people collectively made BLACK a much richer story than if it were singularly my voice, top to bottom.


SH: I’m just wondering where the line is. Have you found, when you’ve tried more experimental stuff, that you really couldn’t do that?

JM: No, you’re sort of aware of your limitations and what’s going to work.
KG: Nothing that we do is outside of our aesthetic. Even at WicDiv’s weirdest, there’s still a beat to it.
There was this line about the Pet Shop Boys – “They’re the Smiths you can dance to” – and we’re a bit like that: the Watchmen you can dance to.

*** Gods Among Us: Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie Talk The Wicked + The Divine (B&N Sci Fi & Fantasy)
Gillen: We love the Marvel and DC stuff, but there’s a problem there—one has roots in the 1930s and the other one, the 1960s. Social mores have changed since then, but the problem with these characters is they’re already filling niches. You can’t create a queer PoC character in the DC universe and have them be the most powerful person everyone looks up to, because that job is already taken by Superman. You have to look for spaces that aren’t filled, which almost always marginalizes newly created, already marginalized characters. I tend to describe the major superheroes like Baby Boomers—they’ve got all the cultural power, and they’re never going to retire.
 

This and That


*** Banned Books Week: Why are illustrated books being challenged more than ever? (Comic Riffs)
“Of the top 10 books challenged in libraries, the top five were challenged for having LGBTQ content, which seems pretty significant,” Mariko Tamaki told The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. “In the case of ‘This One Summer,’ it means the existence of queer characters is enough to label a book ‘inappropriate’ for young people, which further labels the feelings and lives of young queer people ‘inappropriate.’ And they are not. 
“I stand by my assertion that any person who wants a book removed from a library for having queer content should have to make their case to a panel of LGBTQ readers as to why their lives shouldn’t be represented in the library.”

Current Mood



September 28, 2017

, , ,   |  

Understanding Kirby #1 - Young Romance #13 "Sailor's Girl"

For Jack Kirby's Centennial year, I will be taking a dive into his comics and trying to figure out what a Jack Kirby comic really is.  We'll start this monthly series with a look at a Joe Simon & Jack Kirby romance comic.  "Sailor's Girl" can be found in Young Romance: The Best of Simon and Kirby's Romance Comics from Fantagraphics.


September 26, 2017

, , , , , , , , ,   |  

Catch it at the Comic Shop September 27th, 2017

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to three single issues and one trade for your consideration, with a little bit about why we like it.

Scott' Picks:
Annual 2017 by Joe Casey, Jim Rugg, Luke Parker, Nathan Fox, Wilfredo Torres, Published by Image Comics
Joe Casey is doing an anthology where he writes everything and has some great artists joining him.  With a great cover that oddly pays homage to both the Teletubbies but more importantly Trevor Von Eeden, the stories in Annual are all Casey playing with the superhero genre with his own pop-sensibilities added to them.  I have a feeling that Casey's writing is either a flavor of superhero storytelling that you like or you don't but it's always worth checking out for the artists that he gets to work with.

September 25, 2017

, , , , , , ,   |  

Genre-Busters: Realm #1

I heard something recently in a podcast interview with writer Simon Spurrier, where he was discussing the artificial restrictions placed on only telling a story within a specific genre, and rejecting the notion of genre itself, suggesting more that creators should simply tell the stories they want to tell and bring together the elements they want to include, without worrying about whether this fits within a particular genre. I bring this up to say that I really approve of this trend, and some of my favorite comics of recent years (books like God Country, Birthright, East of West, Saga and Lazarus) succeed because they are fundamentally great stories, and they reach a next level of greatness because they bring together many different ideas and conventions from different genres. So, I'm hoping to periodically highlight stories that play with multiple genres in fun ways (i.e., genre-busters).


Realm #1
Created by Jeremy Haun and Seth Peck
Colors by Nick Filardi
Letters by Thomas Mauer 
Edited by Joel Enos
Published by Image Comics

I'm not necessarily the natural audience for a post-apocalyptic "survival in the world of monsters/zombies" story. But I will always read an interesting story, and after 1 issue, Realm is off to a promising start. Realm is a ground-level story that drops you into the middle of the world, and hooks you with tense moments, terrifically choreographed action, a detailed, decaying cityscape - oh, also, there are orcs and what appear to be dragons. Realm (from creators Jeremy Haun and Seth Peck*, colorist Nick Filardi and letterer Thomas Mauer) is worth a look. 

At some indeterminate point in the future, it appears that our modern world was invaded by magical fantasy beasts and creatures. Organized society has collapsed, and what's left of humanity seems to be living in fear and hiding, and carving themselves out little fiefdoms, struggling for the scraps of what's left of the world. Will Nolan is a man who knows how to navigate this treacherous world. At the beginning of the story he's bringing a woman (Sasha) to someone who's paid for her transit. This circumstance turns out not to be what Nolan was originally told, and is a real indicator of the dark turn that what's left of society has taken. Nolan makes his way back to his handler who lets him know about another job. As the issue progresses, we meet the people he'll be escorting, along with seeing a number of different hints at the weird and dark turn this world has taken. For Nolan in particular, it's clear that he's got a complicated story and is dealing with all sorts of demons.

My introduction (at the top) was meant to provide the context in which I read Realm. I already knew that this story was marketed as post-apocalypse meets high fantasy, so I was intrigued. But mixing genres is no guarantee that a story is going to be good. However, I'm happy to say that I was absolutely hooked by this first issue, and by the end I was immediately ready for more. This is a world that I absolutely don't want to live in, but I really want to explore. This is accomplished from the first few pages of the story as the creators use a very effective technique that goes back to Jaws (and way further back I'm sure) which is not actually showing the monster. Nolan and Sasha are trying to make their way to their destination and Nolan stops and hides them. We don't see what they're seeing up in the sky, we don't even see the word "dragon" uttered, but from their reaction and expressions it's clear that this is something fearsome.

By the time we get to their destination, which is an old Costco that's been turned into the home of the "King" of this area, we have something of a sense of the world these characters live in. As the story moves to Nolan's home in what was downtown Chicago, we see what was the city and also see the devastation wrought by the giant, inhuman monolith that now resides in the city. The art here is detailed and haunting. They've captured the sense of what was Chicago in great detail, which makes the scenes of the city abandoned and broken carry real emotional heft. They also offer hints of the goings on inside the monolith, and the creative team hear brings that to life in creepy, disgusting, vivid detail. It's clear that the supernatural has descended on earth, and earth was in no way ready for it.

We meet a number of characters in this story but Nolan is clearly the story's focus. There are elements of the story that feel like in other hands they could be cliche, but I found him compelling and interesting as a character. He's a "rogue with a past" who's good at his job; he's sort of like a cross between Aragorn from Lord of the Rings and Han Solo, if that makes sense. He's clearly good at what he does, hes focused on his business and survival, he's got a tortured past (and some weird issues), and he's absolutely someone not to be messed with. But there's something in his characterization that works for me; he's terse without being a jerk, and he's highly skilled without being smug, and he has a clear friendship with his handler (who's name we don't learn). 

Nolan is brought to vivid life in this issue by Haun and the rest of the creative team, as are all of the characters. The art style from Haun is falls squarely in the realm of gritty realism, with tremendous attention focused on distinguishing each character carefully through design and expression. No two characters here look the same, and I appreciate that sort of attention to detail. In fact, each character is highly distinguishable; there's great attention here paid to Nolan's pragmatic look, the ridiculousness of the "King", and the weird cross between drab post-apocalypse and high fantasy fetish wear that seems to have become more common in this world.  The art reminded me of a cross between Tony Harris and a less-stylized Sean Murphy, as there's real grit and grime in this world, but the people here are presented as realistically recognizable people. Even the monsters that we see seem to fit well within the defined look and aesthetic of this world. 

That sense of realism, of this being an instantly recognizable world, extends well beyond the character design to the bombed-out city scenes. The creative team provides a big double-page spread in the middle of the comic to really established what has happened to the City of Chicago. And this really feels like Chicago, not just like "generic city" that I've seen in plenty of other comics. Haun and Filardi (on colors) have really put a lot of care into these pages and it shows. I can't say enough about the great work that Filardi does on bringing this story to life through color. It really feels like a burnt-out, washed-out world, and the browns and grays throughout the city scenes bring that to life.

When the story turns to the enormous alien monolith floating in the middle of Chicago, the colors turn weirder and more ominous - the inside of the alien/monster ship has a darker, more shadowy feel to it with what feel like interesting and unusual coloring. It's clear that this is a strange and alien place. The muted tone of that place makes the inevitable splattering of blood all the more striking. There's some gruesome, ominous and very effective color work in these pages. Elsewhere, there are some scenes involving monstrous transformations that are effectively frightening, thanks to some wonderfully detailed and weird illustration, and incongruously vivid coloring (with great use of contrasting blacks and reds and weird glowing eyes).  The detail and care extends to the lettering in Realm (from the always-excellent Thomas Mauer), as I was really impressed with the fantastic sound effects lettering throughout the story (which always enhances a good action scene). There was also some scenes of screaming characters where the font took on a monstrous look and extended out of the dialogue bubble, which was a really nice, fun touch and really conveys the guttural inhumanity of these screams. There's also some great storytelling (through lettering) in the scene where we see some sort of demonic character talking, and the dialogue bubble has an inverse color scheme (weirdly bright green letters and black background) along with jagged edges, which add to the otherworldly scene inside the monolith.

Realm absolutely does what a successful first issue does, which is that it makes me want to read issue 2. I'm really looking forward to taking more of a dive into this weird, magical and scary world.

September 23, 2017

, , , , ,   |  

Thought Bubble 2017 Interview - Michael Doig and India Swift

Thought Bubble is the premiere indie comic book festival in the UK. It runs annually from the thriving city of Leeds, bringing together people from all walks of life to celebrate the one thing that so many other conventions tend to forget: the comics.

Check out all of our Thought Bubble 2017 content here

Michael Doig and India Swift are a powerhouse artistic duo who have previously collaborated on the gorgeous minicomics NorthRaven & Swift and Frostblight, but have stormed onto the indie comics scene this year with their full-length debut The Girl and the Glim. With script support from the refined J.P. Jordan and lovingly hand-crafted lettering from Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, this stunning story is one that you truly cannot miss out on.



Mark Dickson: Who is the "girl" and what is a "glim"?

India Swift: The "girl" is Bridgette. She’s a nervous young kid who is always trying to push past her fears to be the person she thinks she could or should be. The "glim" is a mysterious little sprite that appears into her life one day, bringing adventure but also a whole heap of trouble.

How did the two of you meet? What makes you enjoy working with one another?

India Swift: It was actually on Facebook! We had seen each other's work on there and added one another as friends but hadn't actually spoken. The first time we messaged one another was because I was trying to hire him to work with me on a small indie game me and some friends were making. We ended up chatting and punning back and forth, and it just went from there!

Michael Doig: India is pretty good at pitching challenges or gauntlets to help push our art forward, so later that year after she realised that I'd been struggling to make my own comics she suggested we attempt to make one together but added a crazy time limit into the mix.

We ended up making a 24 part comic over 24 days and uploading our results each day.

India Swift: That was Frostblight - our first project together. Since then we've also made North, which is an 8 page mini comic we pulled together over a month. 

I think we compliment each other’s work really well because we can each round out the other's skill-set. Mike is amazing with colours and composition whereas I enjoy working with line and character expression. We're also not afraid to critique one another's work or suggest edits. Mike's ideas have made The Girl and the Glim better than it would have been if I'd attempted it alone. Having a second set of eyes and another brain to mull over the problems makes a big difference.



Where did the series' core theme of social anxiety originate?

India Swift: Well, I'm a pretty socially anxious person! I think that stems from secondary school, where I dealt with a lot of bullying and I have a lot of friends who have had the same experience too. Glim isn't about bullying specifically, more the fear of feeling rejected by others; this is just my specific lens I'm looking at the problem through. 

Setting it in a school means I can throw all kinds of different characters into the mix, so it's a good environment to tell that kind of story. I want Glim to be an affirming tale about the power of being loved and accepted for just being you.

Michael Doig: I couldn't relate to this at all. I was incredibly well liked at school…

Your book is so rich with emotion and most of that comes from the expressiveness of your protagonist. What is your favourite mode to draw Bridgette in?

India Swift: I think shocked and scared? My friends keep telling me off for torturing Bridgette, but it's somehow comforting to draw someone else feeling the way I feel, like, 99% of the time!

Michael Doig: If I can pitch in, I like those moments where she's being quietly determined or showing an inner force of will. 

I mean Bridgette, although I can see a little spark of India in Bridgette sometimes.


There's a lot happening in the background of panels. What's the most ancillary detail in the first issue that you're most happy with?

India Swift: In one of the pages where Bridgette is unpacking, you can spot her Agent Bird comics collection. The character belongs to our good friend Ethan Yazel (@ethanburnsides) who is currently directing and animating a short, but hilarious, Agent Bird animation. This is our homage and thanks to him and his support in our work. Plus, I think Bridgette would be a massive Agent Bird fan.

To me, the details are important as they flesh out the world. Having a consistency to the locations and layouts makes the town more believable, and means that changes to the environment feel more deliberate and meaningful. That way you can deliver story through the scenery itself as well as the characters.

One of my biggest struggles was just making sure that each door opened in the same direction from panel to panel!

Michael Doig: One of my favourite pages is where Bridgette finds herself alone in her new house, and shows how she interacts with that environment. A lot of the framing India used involved showing the emptiness of the rooms and the smallness of Bridgette within that space.

Colouring is used to great effect in this book to represent the tone and the structure. What was your thought process when you tackled each page?

Michael Doig: While I worked on Glim, I would keep an overview document which showed the whole comic at a glance, and it updated when the working files of pages were saved. I found page turns super important for dramatic changes in colour shifts or scenes and it helped ground the reader in new environments or give an overwhelming sense of what was to come when their peripheral vision took in the double page spreads.

I tried my best to link the overall palette or dominant colour of a page to Bridgette’s emotional state at that point in the story. I associated some particular colours and hues to sources of fear, using a lot of yellowish greens to represent places where she felt more afraid or where the things which made her scared could come from. It’s pretty noticeable throughout the majority of the school interiors and things like the doors into the Library.

I enjoyed giving whole panels a singular background colour in more intense moments, often orange to accent the expression in the panel. Sometimes I let all the colour fall away from the background so the characters read against white, which became striking and removed any distractions from the characters in those crucial moments.


Sequencing is often cited as one of the most important parts of visual storytelling. What's your process for planning out a page?

India Swift: I found thumbnailing the fastest way to explore multiple layouts for a page and get an idea if they were working or not. I would have spent months and months just exploring thumbs if I could have, as I think the pages that work the best are the ones where I had several different versions to choose from. 

I feel like I still have a lot to learn about pacing and sequencing - I often use more panels than I need to. 

Just looking at the work of artists who you admire can be a big help, though and I am often inspired by artists who can use movement and stillness well within a page. Head Lopper is a great example of a comic which uses both to great effect! As with most things, practice is the best way to improve, and I’m looking forward to continuing to learn and improve on Glim #2.

Michael Doig: We write a lot about our process and struggles on our Patreon blog, which is free to read and follow!

The speech feels remarkably natural, creating some immediately distinct voices. How much of the characterisation is you and how much is the efforts of JP Jordan?

Michael Doig: India worked fairly visually first - since she comes from an animation and storyboarding background we didn’t have a script to work from initially. Since we wanted to bring Hassan onboard for the lettering, we needed a solid script for him to work from.

India Swift: With the speech we made an effort not to use it unless we absolutely had to. I would thumb the pages first and we would put in speech if it felt unnatural without it or if the page felt like it needed it to communicate the story beat.

JP really helped with making the calls on this - which parts were better with speech and which parts were better without, as well as refining the character voices to feel more natural and conversational. 

I really liked the way that he approached SFX, too. Rather than use ‘drip drip’ for a dripping tap, he might choose ‘plok plok’, avoiding the verb and instead going for a more naturalistic reproduction of what the drip actually sounds like. When you spend half an hour trying to figure out how the creaking of a door could be written, it gives you more of an appreciation for that kind of attention to detail.

The colours used in the lettering are absolutely exquisite. What drew Hassan's work to your attention?

India Swift: We were recommended by JP and Elle Power to look into Strip Panel Naked when we began our comics making journey and we had been following his work and series since then. His understanding and analytical approach to the use of space, colour and storytelling were a great advantage.

Michael Doig: I think he really captured the feel of Bridgette’s voice visually to convey her hesitancy land at times meek delivery of speech. A lot of our back and forth discussions about the book happened via text so I was delighted at how quickly he locked into her character.

His hand drawn bubbles really added a texture to how characters were interacting with one another.

India Swift: I loved the SFX he used. ‘BOOM!’ is probably my favourite example, but I also love ‘ZOOM!’ And ‘KRSSSSSSSH’. You’ll have to look out for them!


Where are you going to be at Thought Bubble this year?

India Swift: We’ll be at Table #59 in the Leeds Town Hall Marquee if people want to come and say hi! We’ve got copies of The Girl and the Glim with us along with North, an 8 page minicomic about finding your way when you’re lost as well as some printed sketchbooks featuring character art. 

We also have art prints, postcards, Glim pins and bookmarks!

Everyone's got the story of the comic that got them hooked on the medium. What's yours?

Michael Doig: I remember reading my dad’s collection of Calvin and Hobbes as a kid. I really loved Watterson’s sense of adventure and humour. My dad and I played video games though and t wasn’t til later in life I rediscovered my love for comics and visual storytelling.

India Swift: Ummm…. Sonic The Comic was really the thing that I was obsessed with! I still have all of my issues stored away somewhere so I can look back through them whenever I’m feeling nostalgic. I remember writing a letter to the StC staff when I was eight asking for a job drawing comics for them. My parents helped me pull together a portfolio to send off and everything! 

I still have the letter they sent back, essentially saying that they had no vacancies at the moment but that I should keep drawing! They were really encouraging and nice about it and it lit a fire under me to carry on practicing. My dream of drawing Sonic comics came true in a way - every now and then I’ll get to do a story in Sonic The Comic Online, which is the fan-run continuation of the series!

I also loved X-Men growing up, and had a big collection of Tin Tin books that I would re read over and over. I loved how animated and communicative all of the character posing was in Tin Tin. Hergé really knew how to get expression out of just a few lines.

If you're exhibiting at Thought Bubble 2017 and want to flail enthusiastically about it with me, drop me an email (mcdickson101@gmail.com). Even if you're just attending, let me know what you're looking forward to this year on Twitter.

September 22, 2017

, , , , , , , , ,   |  

You're Yul Brenner Westworld, Reporting from the field. (Weekend Pattering for Friday, September 22nd, 2017)

, , ,   |  

Thought Bubble 2017 Interview - Rebecca Burgess

Thought Bubble is the premiere indie comic book festival in the UK. It runs annually from the thriving city of Leeds, bringing together people from all walks of life to celebrate the one thing that so many other conventions tend to forget: the comics.

Check out all of our Thought Bubble 2017 content here

Rebecca Burgess has taken a difficult subject matter and, as all great storytellers do, wrapped it within the confines of something disparate in order to emphasise the effect of both. With a tale of mistrust and racial bigotry intertwined with British and Indian folklore, Strangers and Friends tells the story of the naive paranormal investigator Hemu as he gets carried away by an adventure far greater than him.

Mark Dickson: When did the story of Strangers and Friends begin?

I started writing it in late 2010, after watching a documentary about the history of horror movies and I became really inspired by Victorian-style horror. I like how it isn’t especially gory, but instead uses a lot of exaggerated situations as metaphors for social issues, so I wanted to try that out for myself.

The story deals remarkably well with the expression of racial bigotry and how quickly supposedly well-meaning people can jump to conclusions. What made you want to tell this story and why did you choose to contextualise that with the theme of mythical succession?

I wanted to talk about this specifically because at the time, the small town of Wootton Bassett where I grew up (incidentally where the comic is set) had recently become famous in the news - soldiers who died in the Afghanistan war were being flown back and got driven through our town; everyone would stand out in the streets to pay their respects. I noticed after this sudden fame that a lot of people I knew suddenly become more patriotic, but at the same time more hostile towards Asian people.

At the time my family were good friends with a guy who owned a restaurant down the road from us and, as he was Muslim, he was the victim of a lot of severe racism. In the end he was even told that he wasn’t welcome in our local pub and my family was told that we shouldn’t be friends with him.

The comic ended up being pretty much directly about that experience: the mythical theme tied in with the horror inspiration as I wanted to use it to exaggerate some of the themes.



You begin the story in with textured colours transition into black and white for the next chunk of the story and then intersperse the colours back in.  What significance do you assign to colour and how do you choose to make that transition?

In all honesty, I just wanted to get the comic done more quickly, but by the second chapter I decided it would be nice to add colour to help separate the fantasy aspects, which ended up helping to emphasise Hemu’s secret identity.

Your little coloured stories have roots in at Hindu and Welsh mythology and legend (as well as many others). What makes you want to draw from these cultures?

Hemu deals quite a lot with a clash of two cultures that he identifies with, so the stories were purposefully a mix of Hindu and British themed stories (and the personal story introducing his family that mixes both). I specifically went to mythology style stories to link in with Hemu’s geeky interests in folklore.


One of the strongest relationships that we see is between Hemu and his grandfather. How has this relationship shaped Hemu before the story begins?

Because of their job, Hemu and his Gramps are always moving around, so there's never any chance for Hemu for root down and make friends. So with Grandpa being the only stability in Hemu's life, they’re really close!

Unfortunately, this has definitely made Hemu more shy/awkward around people, and lacking in confidence to tackle things without his Grandpa around.

As you've already mentioned, there’s a strong undercurrent of Hemu’s social anxiety that prevents him from fully connecting with any of his new neighbours. What are you drawing from for this component of the story?

Definitely personal experience!

I was a lot like Hemu when I was a bit younger - not really used to talking to people and really shy. The only time I could talk was when it was about whatever obscure thing I was intensely interested in at the time, so I put a lot of real life experiences into Hemu.

There are little notes and annotations that imply some kind of British comic influence. What comics (both contemporary and classic) do you draw influence from?

I’m not influenced by Beano or Dandy, even though I’ve worked for both of those comics. My cartoony style is mostly influenced by Osamu Tezuka. I really enjoy fusing exaggerated expressions with more serious stories.

I’m also very influenced by Posy Simmonds and Craig Thompson - especially their nice balance between inventive and cinematic panel layouts.


Do you see Strangers and Friends as complete in its current format? Where can people go to read it?

Yes! It was intended to be a self contained story, so I’m happy that its all finished!

I’m currently updating it online on Tapastic, so people can read it for free at: https://tapas.io/series/SnFOr they can buy the books, which are split into two volumes! I’m currently only selling the books at conventions, but they’ll be online for sale soon!

Everyone has the story of the comic that got them hooked on the medium? What’s yours?

Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball! I’m from that generation of people who got into comics via the boom in Japanese comics.

At the time, there weren't many Western comics that had an appeal for me as a teenage girl, so Japanese comics were great at offering stories with female main characters and a wider range of art styles. Akira Toriyama specifically is amazing with panel layouts! Everything is so spacious and quick/easy to read! This style of storytelling really got me hooked, then as time went by I discovered more and more comics from all over the world doing similar things :)

You can find Rebecca (a.k.a. Theorah) in the Comixology Marquee at Table #127.

If you're exhibiting at Thought Bubble 2017 and want to flail enthusiastically about it with me, drop me an email (mcdickson101@gmail.com). Even if you're just attending, let me know what you're looking forward to this year on Twitter.

September 21, 2017

, , , ,   |  

Thought Bubble 2017 Interview - Robert Luckett

Thought Bubble is the premiere indie comic book festival in the UK. It runs annually from the thriving city of Leeds, bringing together people from all walks of life to celebrate the one thing that so many other conventions tend to forget: the comics.

Check out all of our Thought Bubble 2017 content here

Robert Luckett is a name that you might know from his extended work on BOOM! Studios' series of graphic novels based in the world of the much-loved Cartoon Network series Regular Show. His creator-owned series BUMSTORM follows the story of the young boy, Guff, in a world where weaponised farting is the norm. Quickly forming a tag-team with the competitive eater, Chu, the duo head off into this world that proves that any project that you dream is not only possible, but can be a absolute riot from start to finish. 



Mark Dickson: What have you done to make this series truly all-ages?

Robert Luckett: Working on the Regular Show graphic novels and through the fine editors at Boom!, I sort of learned what level of jokes would and wouldn’t be acceptable for an all-ages audience. Its inspirations, such as Dragon Ball and Pokémon, also straddle that space of appealing to kids and adults alike.

Kids seem to get absolutely hyped up about the superhero side of this farting adventure while parents and other adult readers seem to still, like me, find fart humour eternal.

What makes this story about a Farting Warrior deserving of your creative energies?

Luckett: It is my stupidest idea - and that is why it won’t let go of my mind! 

I’d been out of the drawing game for a very long time, but I found the resurgence in UK Small Press comics so utterly inspiring that I wanted to get back on the horse. I pushed myself to make a mini-comic to self-pub at Thought Bubble 2015 with the lowest stakes, and so it was BUMSTORM’s time to shine. 

I have a tendency to overdevelop projects and now I have enough story material noted down for Guff and Chu’s adventures that there’d be 300 issues if I only had the time! Probably going to be letting another of my comic ideas out of the cage next year so I don’t solely get known as “that fart guy”.


What have been some of the most memorable reactions to the series been?

Luckett: When I first told some of the local Leeds comic book shop owners about what I was working on, they were incredibly surprised it came out as this elaborate adventure comic and not just pages of bad fart puns.

Last year I was away from my table at Thought Bubble and my partner, Rachel Connor, was manning the stall. While I was stuck in a pitch panel that ran out of time and I didn’t even get to pitch at, upon seeing BUMSTORM a young boy unleashed the most hype that she’d ever seen a human being express for a comic book. 

I am sorry to this day I wasn’t there to meet this kid! Won’t be making that mistake twice.

How do you see the relationship between Chu and Guff evolving over time?

Luckett: Chu is Guff’s ticket to the globetrotting adventure he’s always dreamed of but at some point he’s going to have to come clean about him previously having a home at an orphanage. There’s a little moment of that in issue #3 (A Snake Amongst The Wind Farm) where he’s a bit overwhelmed over everything Chu has done for him.

In turn, Chu is hoping that being in such close proximity to the stinkiest creature on Earth is going to automatically help her over her smell sensitivity that plays havoc with her appetite. A competitor in the Hot Dog Eating World Championship is known to use dirty tricks to win, and she wants to steel herself completely against them.


Outside of the cartoons that you contribute to (i.e. Regular Show), which inspire you?

Luckett: Every week, everything that’s in Shonen Jump amazes me. What the creators in that magazine push themselves to create is awe inspiring but also a little bit terrifying? 

One Piece is the absolute gold standard of long running comics in my opinion. 20 years on and a boy with rubber limb powers story has continually spiralled out into this world of intrigue, suspense, and unparalleled creativity that goes from strength to strength. 

Right now My Hero Academia is scratching the X-Men itch for me and then some. I particularly like that its anime is on a season model, getting around the pacing issues that a weekly all-year-long cartoon has to face. 

I think what I look for most in comics and cartoons these days is their world building and continuity.  

What makes you want to bring Issue #3 to launch at Thought Bubble?

Luckett: Leeds is where I live so I am hugely proud and thankful that the UK’s greatest comic convention takes place here every year. When the comic community descends upon the city I lurk within all year round anyway, it is this electric feeling that I can’t quite describe. The hype pushes me to create and I’ll never forget the feeling I had tabling for the first time in 2015 and selling my comics directly to other people. 

If I won the lottery, luxury yachts can shove it. It’d all just go back into making cool stuff.

What else will you be offering to entice potential patrons?

Luckett: I’ve got three of these here BUMSTORM comics now, so it was well past time for a super special looking bundle pack. The BUMSTORM MEGA PACK will include issues #1, #2, & #3 as well as some original art and all wrapped up nice like. 

I wrote BUMSTORM: A Snake Amongst The Wind Farm to be more of a standalone adventure too so anyone wanting to jump on board for a one-off experience can enjoy it by itself. My partner and I, Rachel Connor, will also have some limited stock of the Regular Show graphic novels we co-wrote. 

The ol’ licensed property, original property pitch one two punch. (No actual punching involved).


Is there an upcoming combat-usage of farting that you’re most excited to show?

Luckett: Every issue has a double spread where I go out of my way to impress with one of Guff’s big new techniques. The tournament he’s seeking to enter has strict rules about no punching or kicking, so all of his techniques rely upon his wind power. There’s also a medical reason he’s able to generate such explosive farts as well that’s yet to be revealed. However, he’s going to need to meet one of the great Flatulords and study under them to upgrade all of his techniques.

Beaney, a boy who can conjure burp-beasts depending on animals he’s eaten before, is also a whole new creative avenue to explore later on in the story.

I’ve also sketched these demon like creatures that live underground with butts on their heads called Sulfurians that’ll turn up at some point.

It’s probably about time someone diagnosed me really isn’t it.

Everyone has the story of the comic that got them hooked on the medium? What’s yours?

Luckett: Sonic the Comic (UK Version). I guess in a way that primed me for the Shonen Jump format years later as every fortnight it wasn’t just the blue hedgehog’s adventures inside but Streets of Rage, Wonder Boy, Sparkster, and more. I’m a big videogame nut as well, so the faithful adaptations the comic did of the Sonic games were some truly incredible stuff. Every Saturday morning I’d pour through that comic, draw my own panels, the works.

I got into the American comics side years later just as Spider-Man was going through the Clone Saga in the UK collections, so I have a strangely special place in my heart for the Scarlet Spider and all that madness. The first X-Men comic I picked up was a UK republish of Uncanny X-Men 275. These crazy colourful cosmic adventures pencilled by Jim Lee. What a time to be alive!


Robert Luckett and his vapourific volumes can be found in the Leeds Town Hall Marquee at Table #36. Head on down and tell him your best fart stories - he's looking for inspiration for his next issues of BUMSTORM (not actually, but you should do it anyway).

If you're exhibiting at Thought Bubble 2017 and want to flail enthusiastically about it with me, drop me an email (mcdickson101@gmail.com). Even if you're just attending, let me know what you're looking forward to this year on Twitter.

September 20, 2017

, , , , , ,   |  

Catch It at the Comic Shop September 20th, 2017

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to three single issues and one trade for your consideration, with a little bit about why we like it.

James' Picks:

Black Hammer #13 by Jeff Lemire and David Rubin, Published by Dark Horse.
Black Hammer is simply one of the very best comics I'm reading these days. It's a riff on classic superhero types, but it's so much more than that. It's sad and lovely and weird and emotionally haunting, and each issue is a real treat. The art from David Rubin is just wonderful and dynamic and engaging.


Dept. H #18 by Matt and Sharlene Kindt, Published by Dark Horse.
Matt and Sharlene Kindt have succeeded in telling a terrific and very different follow-up to Matt's amazing Mind MGMT.  Dept. H is claustrophobic and weird and really dives (pun intended) into the lives of the group of characters that are stranded in an undersea base that turns into something of a deathtrap. The Kindts really convey the alien nature of the world down there, and the alienation that all of the characters are feeling for various reasons.

Angelic #1 by Simon Spurrier and Casper Wijngaard, Published by Image Comics.
This one is exciting and really out-there. This is a future world where there are no more people and the animals have evolved in some unusual ways. This is one of the more original, interesting comics I've read in a while. I'm not 100% sure what to make of it yet, and that's a good thing. Spurrier's story and the terrific art from Casper Wijngaard make this unlike most other books you might read this week.

Generation Gone #3 by Ales Kot and Andre Araujo, Published by Image Comics.
I'd drifted away from Ales Kot comics for a while, but I've been drawn back with Generation Gone, which is a compelling take on the story of millennial hackers getting super powers, and where the story goes from there. It's got great art and a compelling hook, and Kot remains a talented writer and storyteller.

[Editor's note: Welcome to Mike, one of our new writers, making his debut with this entry!]

Mike’s Picks:
Amazing Age #3 (of 5) by Matthew David Smith and Jeremy Massie, published by Alterna Comics.
I have loved everything I’ve read in the Alterna Comics family since they launched their “bringing back newsprint” campaign roughly six months ago. Amazing Age is my favorite. It bleeds just enough nostalgia, and reminds us of the simpler days when we imagined we were the superheroes in our favorite books. And, it’s only $1.50. Right?
Bug: The Adventures of Forager by The Allreds, published by DC Comics/Young Animal
The Allred Family Kirby homage is easily the zaniest book on the stands. I’ve been re-reading the set of published issues the day each new book arrives in stories because of the cavernous narrative Lee Allred has built. This series has been heavy on reference, and certainly stands as a testament to the forgotten creations of Kirby’s Silver Age DC runs. More than anything else, though, it exists as a meditation on the nature of creation and the afterlife, the revolving door of death, and most notably, the ability to construct one’s own reality.

Super Sons # 8 by Peter Tomasi and Jorge Jiminez, published by DC Comics
Grant Morrison may have created Damian Wayne, but Peter Tomasi has defined the character for years. Super Sons has been one of my favorite reads since it debuted. Tomasi knows how to strike a balance in tone that is absolutely crucial to a serious book starring somewhat goofy kids. Jiminez also possesses a somewhat more intricate take on “cartoon” style art that allows the reader to slide into the proper visual setup. Tomasi is ultimately a character writer, and this series has been wonderful for the development of both Damian and Jonathan.

DC Meets Hanna Barbara TPB, by Marc AndreykoSteve LieberAriel Olivetti, et. al., published by DC Comics

My recommendations this week are as heavy on the DC side as they are on overt nostalgia. While Rebirth has been a remarkable success, DC’s reimagined series and crossover work with other Warner properties has shown that the company all too synonymous with dark, gritty storylines (many of those absolute classics) has discovered the benefits of a more lighthearted approach. This collection brings together such charming mash ups as The Suicide Squad/Banana Splits, and my personal favorite, James Tynion and Ariel Olivetti’s Space Ghost/Green Lantern story that should have already served as a launching pad for an ongoing series or at least a mini-series by now I mean come on DC are you listening to the people or not?! Whew – things got weird there for a minute.

September 17, 2017

, , , , , ,   |  

Thought Bubble 2017 Interview - Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou

Thought Bubble is the premiere indie comic book festival in the UK. It runs annually from the thriving city of Leeds, bringing together people from all walks of life to celebrate the one thing that so many other conventions tend to forget: the comics.

Check out all of our Thought Bubble 2017 content here

Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou is attending the festival primarily as an attendee, but has a very special live version of his beloved YouTube video series Strip Panel Naked. With a star-studded line-up of guests, Hassan is bringing his unique and in-demand analytical eye to tell you exactly what to buy at the country's premiere comic festival.



Mark Dickson: Where might people know you online?

Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou: If people know me at all it’s probably through my YouTube channel, Strip Panel Naked. I used to write under that title for the now-defunct ComicsAlliance website, too. Oh, and maybe through PanelxPanel magazine! 

Or just spouting off about comics on Twitter, I guess.

With a background in filmmaking, what made you want to make the jump to comic analysis?

Otsmane-Elhaou: I’ve always been a big fan of comics, in between bouts of taking time off from reading them when life got busy, but I always gravitated back towards them. Analysing comics in the way I do through the magazine and YouTube show is something I’ve always done, ever since I started doing it with films, but I just never had a good outlet for it before! I find the process of storytelling through this medium absolutely fascinating, and it was something where I was really struggling to find anyone who was writing about it in the way that really interested me., so I figured I may as well do it.

I do think there are a lot of translatable elements between storytelling in film and comics, both of them being predominantly visual mediums, so a lot of the education I got through filmmaking ends up informing a lot of what I talk about with comics. The jump wasn’t too difficult, but the challenge of adapting what I’d learned for film and seeing how that actually works with comics, and what works differently, was a really fun challenge.

Beyond comic criticism, do you have any creator-owned projects that you’re working on?

I have an all-ages book called The Unlikely Story of Felix and Macabber that we’re probably going to be announcing something about soon. I was in touch with an artist called Juni Ba, and the moment I saw his work I just needed to work with him on something, so we came up with this idea about monsters and wrestling and masculinity, and that’s our book. Sometimes you just see some greatness and want to be involved in it somehow, and that was me with Juni!


What can people expect from you at this year’s Thought Bubble?

Awkward conversation, a bald head, bright shirts? 

Beyond that, I’m doing a live version of Strip Panel Naked on the Sunday morning at 11am, on the Victoria Hall stage. As part of the show on YouTube, I often get creators on there and we break down some of the visual storytelling in their work. So at Thought Bubble I’ve got Jordie Bellaire, Christian Ward, Declan Shalvey and Aditya Bidikar doing the same. 

We’re going to be bouncing around through some of their pages, and talking individually how they attacked certain moments, and how that contrasts or correlates with what the others did. Hopefully it’s going to be a fun deep-dive into some craft.

Really chuffed that I could get some of my favourite people in comics today to be on the panel, too, and it means we can cover all aspects from writing, art, colouring and lettering. Aditya even travelled all the way from India to be on the panel (that was definitely his only reason).

I’ve also got a small amount of print copies of PanelxPanel magazine with me that I’ll be flogging after the panel, or just around if you see me, so there’s a bit of a rareity there.

What perspective do you hope each of the creators on your Thought Bubble panel will bring?

Well I wanted to make sure we can talk a little about everything. 

With Shalvey and Bellaire you’ve got two people who just had writing credits on new Image books and Bellaire is just one of the best colourists in the game, with Shalvey also being a fantastic artist. Chirstian Ward is doing some of my favourite superhero work in Black Bolt every month, and Bidikar is one of the best letterers you’ll find in comics. 

So between the four of them, we can cover most bases of creating a comic, and talk about how each part adds, changes, or improves the storytelling in some way.

Interior page for The Unlikely Story of Felix
and Macabber
by Juni Ba
What’s one comic that you’ve been waiting for the opportunity to talk about, but haven’t quite found the angle yet?

Well I really want to cover Chris Ware’s Building Stories

I know what I want to say about it (mostly) but for that it’s more about figuring out the way I need to go about filming it! It’s so much about the physical experience that I don’t think I could do it in the way I traditionally present episodes of Strip Panel Naked, so that’s one to figure out...

Is there one “Must Read” graphic novel/comic series that people won’t believe that you haven’t read?
Most manga series! I’m pretty behind with a lot of those, but it’s the kind of thing I get requested most often so there's not much that I haven’t read at least a little of. 

Beyond that, I haven’t read a whole tonnes of classic superhero stuff generally, so there’s so many runs I’m way, way behind on. The classic X-Men Chris Claremont run came up earlier this week for the new issue of PanelxPanel, and that’s one I don’t think I’ve read any issues of at all that is now on my Marvel Unlimited queue!

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Thought Bubble?
I’m really looking forward to meeting Chris Brunner. I’m in awe of the work he did on Loose Ends, and his guest issue from Southern Bastards, but he’s a guy that really knows what he’s doing. So I hope he’s got a spare few minutes for me to get excited near him. 

Chris Ward is a guy I’ve chatted to a bunch but have yet to meet in person, so that’s always good/weird to do that. Of course Alex Paknadel gives a wonderful hug, so that’s always a highlight.

Everyone’s got the story of the comic that got them hooked on the medium. What’s yours?

It’s a boring one to say, but Watchmen was the book that cemented comics were brilliant. I’d read very few comics before that, a small handful really, but it was Watchmen that told me comics could be something really, really great. 

That was cemented reading things afterwards like Maus and Blankets and Essex County Trilogy, but Watchmen was the one.

If you're exhibiting at Thought Bubble 2017 and want to flail enthusiastically about it with me, drop me an email (mcdickson101@gmail.com). Even if you're just attending, let me know what you're looking forward to this year on Twitter.

September 16, 2017

, , ,   |  

SPX Spotlight 2017: The Nib Lines Up as Great Comics

It's another entry in Panel Patter's not Patented SPX Spotlight feature! We're ready to provide you with some great pre-show coverage for one of the best comic shows in the United States! In a show with nearly 700 exhibitors, we'll help you find some of the best! You can read all our SPX Spotlights from 2017 and prior shows here.



Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be in this political hell we live in without The Nib, and I shudder. Sure, there are plenty of places to help me learn about politics, but The Nib is one of the best out there, because it blends facts with figures--drawn figures that is.

, ,   |  

SPX Spotlight 2017: Fantagraphics Set the Pace, As Usual

It's another entry in Panel Patter's not Patented SPX Spotlight feature! We're ready to provide you with some great pre-show coverage for one of the best comic shows in the United States! In a show with nearly 700 exhibitors, we'll help you find some of the best! You can read all our SPX Spotlights from 2017 and prior shows here.


As usual, Fantagraphics, one of the oldest publishers of small press comics, will have a huge presence at SPX this year. We've written extensively about Fantagraphics over the years, and it's no surprise, given the wide variety of diverse, quality books they put out on a yearly basis. They're one of the best at reprinting classics, like Steve Ditko's horror work, Charles Schulz's complete Peanuts run, or spotlights on specific EC creators. You'll also find them as the primary home of such noted creators as the Hernandez Brothers and Dan Clowes. They've published histories of comics by Trina Robbins. Newer stars like Noah Van Sciver, Richard Sala, Simon Hanselmann, and so many others also call Fantagraphics home for a good portion of their work. It's basically one-stop shopping for great comics, and no trip to SPX is complete without stopping there and spending money.

Fanta has a great set of new books out for the fall, such as:

September 15, 2017

, , , , , , ,   |  

Thought Bubble 2017 Interview - Michael Sambrook, Rosie Packwood

Thought Bubble is the premiere indie comic book festival in the UK. It runs annually from the thriving city of Leeds, bringing together people from all walks of life to celebrate the one thing that so many other conventions tend to forget: the comics.

Check out all of our Thought Bubble 2017 content here

Mike Sambrook is attending the festival with his cohorts from Madius Comics, overflowing from their two tables with their shimmering sweet-potato line of comics. Teaming up with artist Rosie Packwood (a.k.a. PocketM0use) to compound the energy with her bright and bubbly art, their new all-ages series Bun has a hell of a lot to offer the world.


Mark Dickson: Tell me the origin story of Bun and his world.

Rosie Packwood: Bun started life as an answer to the question ‘what if a bunny was big enough to fight?’. Expecting some kind of energetic kickboxer, the big paws and chunky eyebrows of Bun was a pleasant surprise. From that moment on, the purpose of Bun and his world was to flip as many expectations on their head as possible.

, , ,   |  

SPX Spotlight 2017: An Interview with Rachel Dukes

It's another entry in Panel Patter's not Patented SPX Spotlight feature! We're ready to provide you with some great pre-show coverage for one of the best comic shows in the United States! In a show with nearly 700 exhibitors, we'll help you find some of the best! You can read all our SPX Spotlights from 2017 and prior shows here.

We at Panel Patter love Rachel Dukes, the prolific anthology contributor and creator of Frankie Comics. Rachel's style works great for telling the story of Frankie, her stray cat, with its ability to capture emotion in a few lines. At the same time, she can use that same emotion to explain the dangers of the American health system or a loving couple tied to a space program that's using them both. She's graciously agreed to many an interview over the past few years, and I had a chance to ask her a few questions in advance of the Small Press Expo about re-starting Frankie Comics, her varying comics projects, and why politics and comics are so intricately linked.

Rachel Dukes and Fankie, in her own lines.