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Reclaiming Norse Mythology from the Nazis by Ian Stuart Sharpe

It is one of the most iconic scenes in modern cinematic history:  Indiana Jones is in a desperate race against the Nazis, a lone hero battling against the entire German war machine to prevent an ancient artefact of immense power from falling into the wrong hands. Of...

Interview with Ian Stuart Sharpe, Author of The All Father Paradox!

Q: What made you write The All Father Paradox? Ian Stuart Sharpe: I think it was preordained. Not in a crazy way, you understand. You just learn to spot the signs, to realize that something is off-kilter. For example, in the year 793AD, according to the Anglo-Saxon...

Join the Outlanders!

ANNOUNCEMENTS Join Outland's Street Team, The Outlanders! Get sneak peeks at new releases, including fiction, games, and comics! Receive exclusive content, and be eligible to receive advance review copies of upcoming releases! If you like to help spread the word about...

THE ALL FATHER PARADOX Releases in October!

THE ALL FATHER PARADOX by Ian Stuart Sharpe Coming in October! What if an ancient god escaped his fate…and history was thrown to the wolves? Churchwarden Michaels thought it was just a run-of-the-mill crazy old man who stood in the graveyard, hellbent on studying the...

HATH NO FURY Has Hit the Shelves and E-Readers!

Mother. Warrior. Caregiver. Wife. Lover. Survivor. Trickster. Heroine. Leader.   This anthology features 21 stories and six essays about women who defy genre stereotypes. Here, it’s not the hero who acts while the heroine waits to be rescued; Hath No Fury’s women are...

Announcement: VIKINGVERSE COVER ILLUSTRATION RELEASED!

ANNOUNCEMENT Official summary of ALL FATHER PARADOX along with color cover illustration! What if an ancient god escaped his fate…and history was thrown to the wolves? Churchwarden Michaels thought it was just a run-of-the-mill crazy old man who stood in the graveyard,...

Announcement: New Comic Coming from Outland Entertainment!

ANNOUNCEMENT: Announcing Riddle of the Loremaster, an all new original comic series written by Melanie R. Meadors, with art by Nicolás Giacondino! Here is a sneak peek at some of the promo art: Riddle of the Loremaster is a comic for mature readers set in a fantasy...

Women in Dark Fantasy Have Changed by Linda Robertson

In doing a bit of research looking for a dark-fantasy-related topic for this article, I sought something that I knew at least a bit about, something I felt strongly about, and something where I could add meaningfully to the conversation. Many things were considered,...

Alethea Kontis on Imposter Syndrome

Earlier this year, I met the only student Katy Kellgren ever had. He told me he just about had to bully her into being his teacher. This amazing, multiple award-winning voice actress with hundreds of audiobooks under her belt truly didn’t believe she knew anything...

Announcements: HATH NO FURY Has Arrived in the US!

Backers of the paperback and hardcover editions of Hath No Fury will be happy to learn that the books have arrived at the printer's headquarters in Chicago! Now, they just need to be sent to our head honcho Jeremy Mohler, and then they will be sent out to backers...
Novels vs. Graphic novels: Can they even be compared?

Novels vs. Graphic novels: Can they even be compared?

Ok. So it’s no news to anyone that the comic book world was something of a novelty for me when I arrived at Outland Entertainment. Yes, I was a comic book fan all along and I didn’t know, but being conscious and actively looking for out of the ordinary titles and cult classics to read was a long way coming.

Right now, I’ve finally started reading one that was on the top of my list: Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman.

Here’s the thing: I’m already a Gaiman fan. His collection of short stories Fragile Things grabbed my attention with its lyrically beautiful stories and completely wacky tales. It clearly shows the range of tone and narrative style this author has to offer.

I was enthralled by the radio version of Neverwhere. Yes, it had to do with the talented performances and the whole production value of the piece. However, the metaphorical London I was introduced to, the one where the streets I know and love get a whole new and mysterious meaning was mesmerizing.

But I digress.

With Gaiman, we have an author that writes novels, graphic novels and non-fiction essays. Let’s stick to the fiction so we can try and establish some comparisons.

You can point out how the tone is similar. How Gaiman intertwines complex and bizarre characters and intricately woven narratives the same way, be it in novel or graphic novels.

You get the same satirical incisive critic over the human pettiness. The whole impact is there.

Nonetheless, it’s impossible to deny that the format dominates, I won’t go as far as to say the outcome of the story, but definitely the way it progresses and the freedom you have to imagine those worlds.

Let’s get Sandman’s example back on the table. You can’t avoid the way each character is seared into your brain with each stroke of the artwork that has breathed life into them. The illustrations, the way the panels are laid out on each single page… it all boils down to a specific experience—not too different from, say, watching a movie. You have a visual presence that guides you and influences the way you perceive the story. For better or worse, it has the power to limit your imagination.

When reading a novel, you are forced to construct that unique world on your mind. You devour the descriptions, the actions, the little details about each character or setting and build your own vision of what the narrative is. For even the more detailed and thoroughly descriptive author cannot control the mind of every single reader. The result:
intrinsically unique versions of each narrative.

Graphic novels give you visual inspiration, while novels give you more freedom to reinvent that world written in front of you.

Does that make one better than the other? You decide. For me, they are different experiences. Pure and simple, they’re alternative ways to consume a story.

Maybe there are stories that benefit more or are more adequate to one specific format than others. Even though I think that the potential in both formats is pretty much interchangeable.

Going back to my personal experience of reading Neil Gaiman’s tales, I like to be able to fabricate the look of the characters, the overall settings—maybe even add my personal details into the mix. However, it’s an enriching experience to devour the illustrations with all their colours and characteristic design traits of each artist. Yes, it’s the artist’s vision, not mine. But isn’t it remarkable how you can be deeply moved by the sheer beauty of a simple panel? Having said that, this can also happen with a plain sentence in the midst of a sea of letters.

So as you can see, I have yet to be converted to only one type of format. Better yet, I don’t want to! I do not want to be confined to one way of consuming stories. Give me freedom to create my own visions, yes, but also share your beautifully crafted ones.

We’re talking about sharing, about experiences, about taking the most out of a story. Milk a novel till it’s dry. Create all you can in your head. But don’t forget the pleaser it is to be guided panel after panel by streaks of colour, insightful lettering and overall awe worth layouts.

There. Novels vs. Graphic novels: you can compare them, you can have a favorite format, but you shouldn’t confine yourself to only one.

S.G.

P.S.: Check out the previous posts of this series: I Was a Comic Book Fan All Along and Didn’t Know, How OE changed my perception of Comic BooksDiversity of Graphic Novel Genres: From Biographies to Philosophical Essays and Couture & High Fashion in Comics.

SDCC: another year has come and gone!

SDCC: another year has come and gone!

Another SDCC has come and gone. And no, I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to go. Being an ocean away complicates your geek life a little bit. Even though Europe is having a boom of conventions at the moment. But I diverge! Back to San Diego and all the juicy news bits it brought to us.

From brand new comic books to expected TV series’ spoilers passing through highly anticipated movie trailers, there is always something for everyone.

My usual routine of following all the panels, scanning articles and its spoilers carefully, scrutinizing every bit of speculation at the end of each day was not strictly followed this year.
My fandom attention span wasn’t at its best! Too many stuff that I have still to finish watching before sinking my teeth on all the next season details. So this meant, I was more focused on the movies than on TV series this year, for example, and have tried to run away from the panels!
Sure, you can’t miss “Arrow”‘s cast bursting into song Broadway style – Hamilton’s “I’ll be Back”, if I’m not wrong. Or “Sherlock” show runners teasing the poor hungry fans. Nor Eddie Redmayne giving out wands to the crowd.
However I kept my distance from panels and devoured the trailers. I have to confess that I’ve been aloof as for some crucial release dates. Not to worry, though! This trailer overload just seared all the dates onto my brain calendar! Some I was pleasantly surprised to know I was just going to wait till the end of the year while others…well, can’t they launch it already??

The great cosplay, companionship, free goodies and overall geekness overload are key to anyone attending this convention. But there’s also a big camaraderie towards the ones watching from afar!
The cool people who share videos and pics not only from the big panels but also from the general environment. The rich detailed filled Twitter feeds that make you feel like you’re there in the halls. The articles, the friendly debates over the newest info and, you can’t even escape, some annoying bickering. It’s clearly a different (let’s call it…lighter) way to enjoy the con, but it’s still interesting to see how many connections are still forged through all this sharing.

Apart from all this, let’s be honest SDCC is all about meeting your favorite stars (even if it has to be from across a 64,842 square feet hall with thousands of fans inbetween) and building anticipation and hype around some – already – huge projects.

Whatever we may say, SDCC will always have a mystical aura!

SG

Professional Practice: Why Worry About Style?

Professional Practice: Why Worry About Style?

The question of personal art “style” is one that seems to come up really often for artists. Especially if you are a young artist, still learning your fundamentals of drawing. Teaching at the college level, I get questions and concerns about style all the time from my students.

I looked it up and this was this definition I got –
“A particular, distinctive, or characteristic mode or form of construction or execution in any art or work.”

I get it, there are many artists out there working in a myriad of different ways and everybody is looking for a way to differentiate themselves from the next guy. Some styles speak to us more strongly than others and sometimes, a particular style can scream at us so loudly and become so overpowering that it starts to sneak in and overpower our own, natural way of drawing. It’s a real danger for younger artists and it can derail your progress as an artist considerably if you aren’t careful. It can actually hurt you in several very important ways –

  • If you put style above fundamentals, you can get caught up in finish and neglect the construction of your drawing.
  • If you are basing the look of your artwork upon another artists work, you may be picking up the bad habits of that artist. If they aren’t constructing their drawings correctly, if their proportions, anatomy, or perspective is flawed, yours will likely be too.
  • You could be considered a knock-off of a particular artist or style, which could hamper your ability to get work. Why would somebody hire you when they could get the original artist?

In my opinion, you are better served to just forget about style altogether.

You should focus on learning your fundamentals and drawing from life as much as possible. The more figure drawing you can get, the better. Don’t get caught up in style too fast, spend the time to construct your drawing accurately and then worry about style. Knowing your fundamentals will give you a better foundation for developing a style or working in a variety of styles because you’ll already be able to construct a drawing with correct proportion, anatomy, or perspective.

Personally, when I was learning to draw, I found inspiration in many places and from many artists (and as an artist, you should always be looking at other art), but when I needed reference on how to draw something, I looked for real life reference. If I wanted to draw exaggerated muscles, I looked at body builders. If I wanted to draw a mountain landscape, I looked for photos of mountain landscapes. And from there, my style naturally developed to how I work today.

Don’t put the cart in front of the horse in regards to style – your style will come to you as you put in the work to learn how to draw.

Good luck!

JM

Alana Joli Abbott – Author Interview

Alana Joli Abbott – Author Interview

Alana Joli Abbott has recently joined Outland Entertainment‘s as Editor in chief, but you’ve probably heard her name long before this new gig. Be it for her novels, her interactive games or her award winning game writing, Alana continues to amaze us with her talent. Let’s try and find out more from Abbott herself!

Who’s Alana Joli Abbott?

Starting off with an existential question like that? This interview’s going to be a stumper! I guess I’m a writer, editor, mother, wife, martial artist, and lapsed musician. I’m passionate about stories and the way that telling stories—and consuming stories—shapes the world we live in. Being a mom has changed the way I see storytelling happening around me, because I look at what stories I’m feeding my kids, and what stories they’re taking in from the world around them. There’s so much power in the way we tell our truths and our fictions, and I try to make sure I’m always on the side of using that power for good!

 

What was the first thing you ever wrote? Was it a school assignment or something you did on your free time?

The first thing I have a concrete memory of writing was a school assignment in third grade, but it was also fan fiction. It was a short story based on a comic book that my mom had kept from when she was a kid about a group of children and their dog. (Not Peanuts or I’d remember the title!) I inserted myself into their world and wrote a story about playing baseball with them. (I didn’t play baseball. That’s where the fiction comes in.) I think there might have been a rainstorm. Not too long after that I wrote an epic episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, based on the cartoon, because I followed that devotedly, on my father’s electronic typewriter. We didn’t get a computer until the next year or two, and sometime in there I started writing a really long Star Wars piece that’s now long gone. At the time, I was sure that LucasFilm would somehow discover me and publish it in the Expanded Universe. My first “original” novel was a riff on the Indiana Jones pulp style archeologist adventures featuring an Egyptologist with powers she’d gotten from a scarab staff, which I wrote as part of a contest in the old Disney Adventures magazine. As part of a project in for my gifted and talented class, I submitted it out to publishers and learned for the first time how the submission/rejection process goes. It was a definite learning experience!

 

When the moment came, did you need someone else uttering “You are a writer.” or did you know it already?

I don’t think I ever needed that validation, but I also don’t remember a time when I wasn’t receiving it. I was very lucky to have teachers who supported me throughout elementary school, allowing me to put on a play I’d written, starring members of my class, for the grade below us. In high school I had friends who would read my short stories and trade fiction set in the world I’d created back and forth with me. I didn’t realize at the time how exceptional that was, but it definitely established in me that this was something I could do, and would always do, professionally or not.

 

From novels, to comics passing through short fiction, games, interactive novels and numerous articles, we can say you’ve tried nearly every front of the creative and factual side of writing.

Among these different experiences what striking disparities do you notice from the creative point of view? And how about the actual writing approach?

The big question is about interactivity: if other people are involved in the storytelling, you have to leave room for them to tell their own stories, despite the fact that you’re the one writing it. So with the interactive novels and roleplaying games, there’s a lot of leaving doors open and thinking about multiple options for every scenario. I don’t ever get the feeling that I know the main characters of the story very well, because the main characters are the players. The story has to be about them, and I’m just creating the window dressing. Pretty extensive dressing, but dressing nonetheless. The story is a vehicle for their adventure, not my own vision. The writing format reflects that, too, most significantly in the interactive novel apps I write, which are written in a programming language called ChoiceScript. That’s much, much different from writing in straight prose!

By contrast, with my fiction I almost always start from the characters and then figure out what’s going on with them. The characters propel that story forward, so I get to know them very well, and it’s the motivations of my own characters who drive the plot.

Articles, of course, have completely different rules, and usually start from the research, even in (sometimes especially in) the short blog posts I do. If the data or history doesn’t support the article I thought I was going to write, I have to figure out a different angle. I call this kind of work analysis-synthesis writing: take apart the information from other sources and then put it together in a new and different way that’s interesting to my audience.

 

Do you have a favorite project? Why that one in particular?

There’s always some project I’m super excited about, and I’m proud of a lot of the work that I’ve done, but the story I’ve written that’s closest to my heart is “Nomi’s Wish,” which was very loosely based on two true events: one, a trip my sister and I took to the Isle of Man (where neither of us fell into the Chasms), and two, a wish that was given to me by Naomi Lewis, this amazing writer and translator of fairy tales who I worked with when I was an in-house editor in Detroit. Over a phone conversation, she told me she sometimes gave young people she liked a wish, and she gave me one. (I used it, and it came true, though whether that’s to the credit of the wish, I can’t say!)

My second favorite might be “Don’t Let Go,” which was published in the now-out-of-print Ransom: The Anthology. I’d always wanted to tackle the Tam Lin story, and I ended up liking my version quite a bit. It might be part of a larger world in which this sort of fairy thing happens more frequently, but none of those stories have been finished yet.

 

You’ve recently release Choice of the Pirate”, your third interactive novel game for Choice of Games. How did you decide to enter this gamified format of novel?

I was approached by the publisher for Choice of Games, because he knew me, through friends, as a game writer and a fiction writer; having both backgrounds is incredibly helpful for writing interactive novels! On the one hand, the prose has to be really strong; on the other hand, there has to be a lot of room for the player to experience the story the way they want to, which means the story can’t dominate over the player’s choices. The juxtaposition of both skill sets sounded like a lot of fun, and it has been! I don’t mind telling you it’s also the most challenging kind of writing that I do (and probably the format of that the fewest people are familiar with!). But when I phrase it, “Oh, yes, I had an app come out this year,” people get very excited thinking I’m a video game designer. I suppose that technically I am, but it’s very different from what people expect from video games as well! It’s really this niche format that’s wonderful to play with and work in, and I hope that a lot of people keep getting excited about it.

 

This methodology resembles a lot the “Choose your own Adventure” books. Were you a fan of these growing up?

I read so many of them! I think a lot of us who work in gaming came from that background. There was one I remember very specifically about finding a hidden utopia—maybe Shangri-La?—where you couldn’t find the city except by paging through the book. There was no in-story route to get there, and it was only by sheer persistence that I got to it. It was both rewarding and kind of a cheat! But it stuck with me.

 

One might say your fiction work delves mostly on fantasy and sci-fi backgrounds. Do you agree with that?

Oh gosh, yes. I wrote Showdown at Willow Creek for Choice of Games as a non-fantastical interactive novel and didn’t realize how much I relied on fantastical elements to move me through a story and to help design my worlds! A friend of mine who playtested Choice of the Pirate said, on first run-through, “Why does my pirate have magic?” And I said, “Because magic is awesome. Now play.” Storytelling doesn’t need magic or futuristic science to work, but isn’t it more fun if it’s there?

 

Is there a reason why you’re more drawn towards these genres?

I read pretty exhaustively in science fiction and fantasy and always have, and most of my favorite stories (books or films) have either an SFF element or an SFF atmosphere. I realized a few years back that one of my favorite childhood books, The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope technically isn’t SFF; it’s historical, and the faeire court involved in the tale isn’t technically magical, just a dispossessed group of humans. But it’s a Tam Lin story, which gives it the flavor of fantasy, even if it technically doesn’t fit. My other very favorite books that have always stuck with me are A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle and Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith. I think that’s a pretty good window on how my worldview on storytelling got shaped.

 

You’ve done quite an extensive research in Mythology. How did you first enter this world?

Don’t all kids get into Egyptology at some point? That was the entry point for me, and then in high school the drama club at some point assigned Greek gods and goddesses to all the usual suspects. But it wasn’t until college that I realized this was actually a field of study that was valued in an academic sphere. My creative writing prof, Mark Vecchio, taught a course called “Mythic Imagination” that I waited far too long to take. The impact of that course on my outlook and writing cannot be overstated. After I graduated, I went first as a student and then later as a teaching assistant on Mark’s study tours (which he still offers as OCaptain Tours), and through those I studied Arthurian/British, Irish, and Greek mythology in the actual locations where those stories were birthed. Once you start seeing stories in the landscape, you don’t stop. I now live within 20 or so miles of Sleeping Giant mountain and Tuxis Island, both of which have giant legends from the local Quinnipiac people (often much filtered through the Puritan worldview that recorded them). Like many places in England, my area of New England is a land of giants, and though I don’t entirely know the significance of that, it feels significant, deep into the earth around me.

 

Moving to another very relevant theme nowadays, diversity in writing is one of your battles. How do you feel about the efforts that have been made in this area these past few years?

It’s so nice to have someone give me credit for that, when really I feel on the periphery of the people doing the really important work! I care very deeply about representation in fiction, because, for one, it’s boring to read the same old stories about the same old characters retold with different hair colors or different towns but the same basic tropes. (Of course, after having just talked about how much I love Tam Lin retellings, I probably contradict myself a bit!) I don’t think there’s anything wrong with loving stories that fit into the traditional pattern. I love a lot of farmboy-becomes-hero stories. But I think there are so many other possibilities out there for stories that don’t share the same basic assumptions about the world as that farmboy destined for greatness. And that’s just from my own selfish perspective. It’s so much more important to value representation for readers who don’t see themselves reflected on the covers of novels. I was very lucky to come of age when Alanna: The First Adventure was on the bookshelves of my library’s budding YA section. I think I cut my hair to look like the character on the book jacket, and while I didn’t have copper hair or purple eyes, I saw my name (differently spelled) and a face that could have been mine right on the jacket of my favorite book. That’s an experience that a lot of kids don’t have, especially given how miserable the stats are when it comes to children’s books featuring protagonists of color right on the cover. And this is all just tip of the iceberg stuff. I can’t recommend enough good articles on this topic, so I’ll link to just a few.

 

That said, I’m a white female writer and I know I come from a position of privilege. As much as I try to be inclusive and critical of colonialist viewpoints in my fiction, I am sure I mess up. I remember when I was working on Cowboys and Aliens 2 and one of the commenter called me out on using the word “yella” to mean coward, thinking it was a slur against the Asian railroad workers. Having grown up with Western movies, it never even occurred to me that someone could read it that way! I did some research and found out that the term came from a different root—but sometimes, that’s not what’s relevant. The way that people perceive what’s written is what they bring to the story, and it’s important not to create a situation where readers feel alienated by a story they love. I just keep trying to fail better the next time.

 

Do you think we’ve achieved any real progress? Would you say more in terms of gender or race equality?

I want to believe that there’s been progress, but I think that the news lately would tell me that it’s a tough hope to hold onto. And just in games and SFF there’s been this backlash, especially over the Internet, against inclusivity. I want to believe that the reason the backlash is occurring is because there has been progress made that some of the Old Guard don’t like. But the fact that it’s there means that the struggle has to continue, and we’ve all got to keep fighting the good fight so that those undertold stories can reach a wider audience.

 

And how about the backstage: do you agree that the works we get are a reflection of the lack of diversity of the actual writers?

I think less the writers than on the in house side, honestly. There are many, many excellent writers from all walks of life: race, gender, class, sexuality. One of the big problems, as Daniel José Older has written about (in one of my links above) is that the gatekeepers of writing tend to lack diversity. I know that Lee & Low books and Simmons College have a scholarship for further study in children’s literature for “students from diverse backgrounds.” To carry the metaphor, it’s not just the people backstage, but also the people producing the show. I’m not pointing fingers here, because there are a lot of reasons this situation is what it is (and I certainly want to keep my own job!), but I think if we really want diverse books, we have to have diverse agents, editors, publishers, filmmakers, directors, showrunners, Broadway creators… the list goes on and on.

Then I get all bogged down in it and think, let’s just tell each other some stories! I want to hear them all.

Thank you, Alana, for sharing a little bit of your world with us!

SG

 

P.S.: Check out all the other interviews with illustrators, writers, game-designers and other authors!

Couture & High Fashion in Comics

Couture & High Fashion in Comics

When you join the words fashion and comics I’m willing to bet that the result that assaults your head is pretty much the one where superheroes dominate the stories. This means a picture full of glaring colors and capes.

And no, not just the men. Zooming into some feminine characters, what we see is tight Lycra, nearly invisible shorts or skirts, curve fitting leather attire, sparkly bralets and the occasional high heel. It looks comfy and practical to go after or actually being one of the bad girls in this garments, doesn’t it?

Women fashion has been always stereotyped, even when it’s not filtered by fantasy or superhero settings. In narratives passed on the real world we jump from the “off-the-rack” bookworms, to the “funny/graphic t-shirts” geeks and the occasional “hot and preppy” cheerleaders. In other words an over simplified typification. That’s the problem: we’re not talking about types of things, we’re talking about characters that represent people with deep, ever evolving personalities.

But I’m not going to get all fussy about the way women are (sometimes brutally) stereotyped on most comic books. After all, we’re not short of examples (mainly from indie publishers, but nonetheless worthy for that!) of strong idiosyncratic female characters! Hurray for that!

No, I’m going to tell you how happily surprise I was when I found out an example not only of fashion in comics, but of couture: delicate, swoon worthy high fashion.

“Girl in Dior”, by Annie Goetzinger , shows us the creative buzz behind the beginnings of the Dior house of fashion, through the story of new chronicler Clara, rapidly turned model. Following this fictional character leads us deep into Dior’s fashion world. Flowing gowns are flaunt on delicate characters and water colored realistic backgrounds.

We are given a front row seat in Christian Dior’s adventure in high fashion, between 1947 and 1957.

This book alone is reason to bring a whole group of fashionistas to the world of comics. The accurate biography with its beautiful illustrations, allows for a healthy voyeuristic peek into the high fashion universe.

I’m not saying this is the best book ever. But if you know someone who loves fashion and might not be into comics yet, get them a copy. I’ve tried and it worked: a fashion blogger has recently been converted into a comic junkie!

Of course that if you yourself are a fashion addict, odds are you’ve already heard about Goetzinger venture through Vogue or a comic review somewhere else.

This shows the importance of the variety of themes, genres and artwork on graphic novels. There’s one for every subject in our life and they’ll be featured on the right news outlet – even if you have to dig a little bit for an over simplified two-liner piece of news, but hey, it’s better than seeing these works being constantly ignored. Sometimes you just haven’t found the right artist or the narrative that will resonate with you and suck you into the rich universe comic books.

S.G.

P.S.: Check out the previous posts of this series: I Was a Comic Book Fan All Along and Didn’t Know, How OE changed my perception of Comic Books and Diversity of Graphic Novel Genres: From Biographies to Philosophical Essays.

Diversity of Graphic Novel Genres: From Biographies to Philosophical Essays

Diversity of Graphic Novel Genres: From Biographies to Philosophical Essays

Over the past few posts I’ve talked about how surprised I was when I discovered  the wide range of genres addressed within the comic book format.

From deep psychological thrillers to political essays, passing through (auto)biographies, comics have lend themselves to become nearly factual accounts like any novel. However, the plasticity this medium has to offer allows for strong metaphorical approaches. Our world is visually distorted, real people morph into animal creatures, their actions mirrored by funny or weird/odd/outlandish behaviors.

When talking about political comic books, the first title that comes to mind is “Maus: A Survivor’s Tale” by Art Spiegelman. The hard critique enlaced in irony while approaching such a dark and delicate subject is known by its stark crisp visual style and incisive/scathing/sharp narrative. I know it is majorly considered a biographical work, but for me the theme of anti-Semitism prods my bleak political consciousness.

The story sparks a strong emotional response and is an obvious example of the resort to anthropomorphism to highlight the different ethnical groups and how they were treated.

And let’s not forget that Maus was the first graphic novel to be awarded a Pulitzer, in 1992. This achievement is proof of not only the high quality of this specific work but also the powerful reach a graphic novel can have.

Another example that crosses the lines between the political and coming-of-age genres is “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi. As an autobiographical graphic novel, “Persepolis” it has a delves into Satrapi’s childhood and her life as a young adult in Iran. This means dealing with all the political commotion of Iran after the Islamic revolution.

Besides winning multiple awards,  like the Angoulême Coup de Coeur Award, in 2001, this narrative was adapted into a 2D animation film with the same name. Satrapi wrote and directed the film. As a movie, it was recognize in multiple festivals which in turn helped solidify the comics recognition as one of the most well-known stories of its format and genre.

There are also a specific themed series like SelfMadeHero’s “Art Masters series.. So far, you can immerse yourself in Pablo Picasso’s early years with Pablo or explore the creative turmoil of Munch, Rembrandt and Vincent. These graphic biographies use the artists’ unique styles as the visual matrix of each book, so you experience their story not only through the narrative but also by the intrinsic characteristics of the illustrations. Whether you’re an art buff or just curious about one of these characters, these graphic novels are a wonderfully immersive way to delve into these unusual personas’ lives.

Memoirs, (auto)biographies, historic, fiction or in a mix of genres, graphic novels reach us through many different angles. This dynamic format allows us to delve into fantastic superhero filled worlds, but more and more comics offer us the opportunity to explore relevant current subjects of our own very real world.

S.G.

P.S.: Check out the previous posts of this series: I Was a Comic Book Fan All Along and Didn’t Know  and How OE changed my perception of Comic Books

Planet Comicon Giveaways: The Winners!

Planet Comicon Giveaways: The Winners!

Although you were all very shy when it came to take a selfie at our booth on Planet Comicon last week, you did enter our Rafflecopter giveaway.

Nearly a week has passed since you shared, visit our page or tweeted the giveaway. But was that enough to get you the winning entry?

Was it?!?

Well, Ok. We think you’ve suffered enough.

The winners of the Outland Entertainment Planet Comicon Rafflecopter Giveaway are…

*drum roll, please*

For the awesome Outland Entertainment’s Digital Comic Bundle:

!! Becky Budden !!

 

And who got the Discount Code for O.E.’s Online Store?

!! Karrie Millheim !!

 

Congrats! You’ve won!

We will get in touch with you very soon!

If you’re not Becky nor Karrie, we’re sorry for you but don’t despair! There will be other great opportunities to win some free Outland Entertainment goodies.

But if you can’t wait, you’re more than welcome to visit our online store.

OE at Planet Comicon this weekend!

OE at Planet Comicon this weekend!

We’ve attended C2E2 – Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo this past April and are itching to keep this Comicon season going. What better way to continue other than Planet Comicon, Kansas City?!?

PlanetComicon_Program_SMALL

CEO/artist Jeremy Mohler and Design Director/writer Ed Lavallee are going to be at Booth #628 the whole weekend [May 20-22].

Get ready for three days of personalized sketches, signings and one daily giveaway exclusive for PCC attendees PLUS another online giveaway opened worldwide. That’s a lot of opportunities to win O.E. goodies!

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Want to know what you can find at #OE’s booth?

#Comics:

– Blacklands #1;

Elflord #1;

Aegisteel #1;

Pop Star Assassin #1-2;

Bleedback #1-2;

Evolution Cop #1-3;

Archeon;

Revere (hardcover).

 

#Books:

Stories of Survival and Revenge (Inuit Folklore);

–  Jeremy’s Art Book.

PLUS

An array of original art, prints and sketch covers. Don’t hesitate to ask for a signed copy or for a live sketch while you’re there!

 

Do you remember Pop Star Assassin? Ed Lavallee has just tup the volume of the campaign: if you back the PSA Kickstarter campaign at the $10+ level from May 20 to 22 you’ll receive a free comic from the Outland Entertainment lineup.

Besides, all Backers attending the Planet Comicon can also stop by the booth for a FREE Pop Star Assassin print while supplies last.

It’s going to be a great weekend!
See you at Planet Comicon!

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Planet Comicon Giveaways

Planet Comicon Giveaways

As you might have read either on our “We’ll be at Planet Comicon this weekend!” post or on our newly refurbished newsletter, this weekend we’ll be an awesome time for comic fans and specially for OE’s addicts.

As a way to celebrate #PlanetComicon, Kansas City, we’re giveing stuff away!!

There are two main opportunities to win Outland Entertainment goodies!

1) Enter our online Rafflecopter Giveaway, open worldwide until Monday:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2) If you’re one of the lucky peeps attending Planet Comicon you have an exclusive chance!

Tweet your #selfie at the OE’s booth [#628] with the sketchcover you want to win! Use #OE & #planetcomicon / #PCC to enter the giveaway. The winner will be randomly picked using Random-ize and announced here on the Outland Entertainment website and on our Social Media outlets.

 

Best of Luck aaaand get cracking those entries!

How OE changed my perception of Comic Books

How OE changed my perception of Comic Books

As I told you on the first article of this new segment, I Was a Comic Book Fan All Along and I Didn’t Know it for quite a while.

Things sort of slowly became clearer during my college days, but it wasn’t until starting to work in the biz that I truly began to dip my toes back in the dynamic comic book waters.

I still remember the moment of opening the folder with all the projects in the pipeline and flying through them all. One of the stories that was more developed at the time was Ithaca. I read it all in one go and was hungry for more.

At Outland Entertainment, I was presented a huge array of creatives each one with a very unique voice, be it as a writer or an illustrator. Mars 2577, Nightfell, Blacklands, Aegisteel, these are all projects that showed me the different facets of comic book creation.

It wasn’t just sci-fi or violence: no, there was room for a multiplicity of genres and visual styles of every kind.

When some of our IPs started coming out as webcomics on a weekly basis, I had to do some market research of what was going on in this field. That led me to multiple webpages like HiveWorks. And there I was baffled by the choice! So many artists, so many genres and styles of writing and artwork.

It was a big turning point: no longer did I had to rely solely on my friends reviews, but I had first-hand overview of so many projects! I got to interview all the creators from O.E., here for the blog. I have always loved the backstage! How someone became who he is professionally? Where did the idea of the story come from? And I was lucky enough to ask all these questions. In return I dare to say that my knowledge of the comic book universe increased exponentially!

And where has that lead me? To a huge appetite for reading more and more comics, of course! It wasn’t instantaneously, but I found myself perusing the comics section of the bookstores not only “out of professional interest” but because I found them inspiring.

This must be obvious for most of you , but before starting at Outland Entertainment, I didn’t know how similar the cinematographic language was to the one used in comics. They remind me of a really fancy and detailed storyboard. I know, I know! They’re much more than that! They’re an artistic medium of their own. But through the eyes of someone who came from an audiovisual production background they really hit home.

I suppose that being a transmedia creative producer also feeds this need. I’m now itching to work up a universe where a comic book will help explore things even further. And if you ever attended a book fair, you’ll see that all of these artistic forms are connected nowadays. Take the London Book Fair, for example. They run the London Book and Screen Week simultaneously. You have professionals from game studios at the actual fair and lots of extra events that join this two worlds, once so further apart, of pages and screens. Comics are finally being increasingly recognized for the dynamic and expressive format they are.

 

But I’ll talk about these changes further along the line!

Now, take a moment and check out the interviews I mentioned! There are a lot of creatives: authors, illustrators, designers…whose stories will inspire you.

And if you haven’t read the first post of this series give it a go and learn how I Was a Comic Book Fan All Along and Didn’t Know .

S.G.