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You Like Me Because I’m a Scoundrel

I remember watching Phantom Menace in the movie theater wondering what the movie was missing. There was awesome Jedi action (and way better choreography than the original trilogy). The music was fantastic. Tatooine looked pretty much the same, and pod racing was...

Powerful Words from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Anton Strout

Anton Strout is the author of urban fantasy, including the Simon Canderous paranormal detective series and the Spellmason Chronicles. He’s also the host of the Once and Future Podcast. He’s going to have a story in the fantasy anthology Knaves from Outland...

Only Days Left to Back Knaves: A Blackguards Anthology!

There are only a couple days left to back Knaves: A Blackguards Anthology on Kickstarter! Featuring stories from Cat Rambo, Mercedes Lackey & Dennis Lee, Maurice Broaddus, Anton Strout, Anna Spark Smith, Cullen Bunn, Walidah Imarisha, Sabrina Vourvoulias, Clay Sanger,...

Warlock 5 Author Interview: Cullen Brunn

Last year, some of us discovered the irreverence of Deadpool and are eager to view the sequel. This year, some of us are working with one of the writers from his comics: Cullen Bunn. But we’re not the only ones fangirling/fanboying. Cullen is wearing his fanboy hat...

Kane Gilmour on The Rise of Kaiju Prose

As we cruise into the middle of 2018, it might be difficult, surrounded as we are with great kaiju novels and anthologies, comics, and Pacific Rim Uprising rampaging across theater screens, to recall a time when kaiju fans were at a loss for good material. And while...

What’s In a Character’s Name?

Naming a character is like naming your first-born child. You agonize over very detail, even go so far as to pronounce the name under your breath to test the inflection. Lucky for you, you're more concerned with how it looks on paper rather than how it sounds spoken in...

4 Ways to prep for the Royal Wedding Outland Entertainment style

In addition to wearing the Editor in Chief hat here at Outland Entertainment, I also write about pop culture in enough places that I've found it useful to follow the news. While this is particularly relevant for geek news, there are some headliners you just can't...

Press Release: Blackguards Anthology Gets Facelift

Outland Entertainment is please to announce a new look and edition for the anthology Blackguards, dividing the book into two volumes and including two never-before-seen stories. Blackguards, originally published by Ragnarok Publications, was a massive volume containing stories from some of the best dark fantasy and grim dark authors in the industry…

A Letter to My Past Self

Dear Greg (in 1986), So you’ve just turned fourteen, and you’ve just entered your freshman year of high school.  I wanted to send you...well, not a pep talk, exactly.  You’ve never liked or trusted those; they’re treacherous, and too often they’ve been empty promises,...

Fighting The Voices in My Head

This article by fantasy author Melanie R. Meadors first appeared Geek Mom: Geek Speaks...Fiction! Here, Melanie tells us about how she fought the voices (of the characters) in her head…and lost. When editor Marc Tassin invited me to write for the anthology, Champions...
Rejections: The Building Blocks of Collections by Maurice Broaddus

Rejections: The Building Blocks of Collections by Maurice Broaddus

Short stories are my first love. As much as I enjoy writing novels and novellas, I keep coming back to short stories. That’s why my first collection, The Voices of Martyrs, means so much to me. But as I’ve reflected on the long journey in getting here, I keep coming back to one thought: rejections are a part of a writer’s life.

Number of short stories I have written: 87

Number of times I’ve sent stories out: 594

Number of acceptances: 67

Number of rejections: 527

By my rudimentary calculations, I have about a 13% acceptance rate over the history of my career. I have no idea where this ranks in terms of being typical. I’m no Jim C. Hines or Tobias Buckell or else I’d crunch these numbers to death. I know that if I were to grant my acceptance rate over time, you’d see an ascending curve as the acceptance rate in my first five years is quite different from my most recent five years. When I was first starting, I was sending stories out to every market I could think of. It took a while to get a feel for what kinds of stories particular markets were looking for. So being better at matching stories to potential markets helps.

The other thing that has helped is that I get invitations to submit to projects. While no guarantee of an acceptance, it helps the odds (like an editor already familiar with my work wanting me to write something tailored to them). All that said, that’s still 527 times I’ve received a rejection. Five hundred twenty seven times I’ve had to read “no” and feel that sting that you never get used to.

There can be a difficult learning curve to rejections. It takes a while to emotionally realize that the rejection was of the story, not of you. Different kinds of rejections tell you different things. A lot of quick arriving form rejections may be telling you that the story’s not ready (or tat the market is brutally efficient). I have sold every story that I wrote in college. The last one sold five years ago (well over a decade since I first wrote it). They’ve gone through maybe ten drafts each. I stuck with them because I believed in them and because the rejections went from forms to personal comments. Those stories which never moved past the form rejection stage, after a dozen send outs, I took a hard look at. They simply weren’t good and have been trunked (there are ten short stories that will never see the light of day).

Over the last couple weeks I’ve sent three stories off into the wild. One I’ve already heard back on with a “maybe … if you’re willing to edit.” The other two I’m simply waiting to hear back on (read: I’m working on new stories to distract myself). I’ve also sent out rejections to all but a dozen or so authors for the April issue of Apex Magazine which I’m guest editing. I’ve had to reject some great writers and close friends whose stories simply didn’t work with what I was looking for.

You will be rejected. It’s part of the writing life. It feels personal (especially when you’ve poured your soul into it, bleeding over each page), but it’s not personal. It’s about the work. Not every rejection means the same thing. Before you reach to drown the grief of your baby being rejected, parse it for what it means to you and where you are. Rejection can refine us, letting us know when a story is not ready. But that rejection could just mean “not for us.” Or “we ran out of room.” Or “we just brought a story similar to this.” Rejection can teach us things, but sometimes the biggest lesson is about perseverance. About getting up, dusting yourself off, and sending your story out again. Because, like much of life, a successful writing career is about determination. Those eventual acceptances are how collections get made.

###

About The Voices of Martyrs:

“An outcast in the distant past struggling to survive. A religious captain rationalizing away the evil of the slave ship he commands. A future biomech warrior in a literal culture war. The stories in The Voices of Martyrs again prove why Maurice Broaddus is one of the most exciting writers of today’s genre fiction. His vision spans space and time while staying grounded in the stories–in the very voices–which make us fully and tragically and hopefully human.”

–Nebula Award-nominated author, Jason Sanford

We are a collection of voices, the assembled history of the many voices that have spoken into our lives and shaped us. Voices of the past, voices of the present, and voices of the future. There is an African proverb, “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi,” which translates as “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.” This is why we continue to remember the tales of struggle and tales of perseverance, even as we look to tales of hope. What a people choose to remember about its past, the stories they pass down, informs who they are and sets the boundaries of their identity. We remember the pain of our past to mourn, to heal, and to learn. Only in that way can we ensure the same mistakes are not repeated. The voices make up our stories. The stories make up who we are. A collected voice.

The Voice of Martyrs is available online and wherever books are sold. Order your copy here!

About Maurice Broaddus:

With sixty seven stories published, Maurice Broaddus’ work has appeared in Lightspeed MagazineWeird TalesApex MagazineAsimov’sCemetery Dance,Black Static, and many more. Some of his stories have been collected in The Voices of Martyrs. He is the author of the urban fantasy trilogy, The Knights of Breton Court trilogy. He co-authored the play Finding Home: Indiana at 200. His novellas include Buffalo Soldier, I Can Transform You, Orgy of Souls, Bleed with Me, andDevil’s Marionette. He is the co-editor of Dark Faith, Dark Faith: Invocations, Streets of Shadows, and People of Colo(u)r Destroy Horror. Learn more about him at MauriceBroaddus.com. 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MauriceBroaddus

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mauricebroaddus

You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do by William C. Dietz

You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do by William C. Dietz

You gotta do what you gotta do… And for me, that’s writing science fiction adventure stories.  Why?  The answer has to do with my boyhood.  My mother was an avid reader.  That meant weekly trips to the local library.  And, in a house without television, books were my only source of entertainment other than running free, like latchkey kids could safely do back in those days.  (Well, sort of safely.)

And my mother didn’t believe in limitations where my reading was concerned.  I read three or four books a week.  So, after exhausting the kid’s section, I made a move on adult books.  I remember plopping a stack on the library counter and having the librarian chase my mother down.  “Your son wants to read some very adult books,” she said.  “Is that okay?”

“Absolutely,” mom said.  “Let him read anything he wants.  If he has questions he’ll ask me.”  Now that was freedom!  And I made use of it to sample all sorts of stuff.  Non-fiction (military mostly), mysteries, pirate stories, you name it.  But the section of the library that really captured my attention was science fiction.  That’s where I met Asimov, Heinlein, Norton and all the other greats.

It didn’t take long for me to discover that adventure stories, especially military adventure stories, were what I liked best.  And it was at some point during that time that I made a vague ill-defined commitment to be a writer someday.  A science fiction writer, or so I hoped.

Years passed…  No, decades passed.  By then I was a writer.  A news writer, a television writer, and a marketing communications writer.  Everything except a fiction writer.  All the while promising myself that I would write a book by the time I was 40.

Well, when 39 rolled around and I hadn’t started, I knew it was time to man up.  So I wrote a book called War World, later changed to Galactic Bounty, and sent it off to ACE (now part of Penguin) where, after sitting in the slush pile for a few months, a young editor was kind enough to read it.  The rest is history.  I sold my first book on my first try.  And here’s the connection between that Galactic Bounty first novel and Into The Guns.

Although it is about a futuristic bounty hunter rather than a young female army officer, and the soon-to-be president of the United States, the major themes of Into The Guns are consistent with the content of Galactic Bounty.  Those include the eternal battle between good and evil, the virtues of courage, loyalty, and honor, a man who’s willing to fight for what’s right, a woman with the capacity to lead during a time of tremendous danger, a romance forged within the heat of war, a willingness to make a commitment, and the characters (good and bad) who surround and have an effect on them.  That’s the kind of story I love, and that’s what readers should expect when they read Into The Guns.

Here’s the set up: On May Day, 2018, sixty meteors entered Earth’s atmosphere and exploded around the globe with a force greater than a nuclear blast. Earthquakes and tsunamis followed. Then China attacked Europe, Asia, and the United States in the belief the disaster was an act of war.

After meteor strikes decimate the nation’s leadership, surviving elements of the armed forces are left to try and restore order as American society descends into chaos.  While refugees battle the military over scarce resources–corporate oligarchs seek to restructure the country for their own benefit.

The story centers around a young Cavalry officer named Robin Macintyre, and United States Secretary of Energy Samuel T. Sloan.  Macintyre, better known as “Mac,” must struggle to keep her troops alive during the post impact chaos, even as Sloan makes his way home from Mexico, only to fall into the hands of the oligarchs.  Both characters will meet eventually.  And when they do, it will be in the context of a battle that will presage the coming of a second civil war.  Each volume of the America Rising trilogy will have its own story.  But the overarching plot story will continue with volume 2, Seek and Destroy, and volume 3, Battle Hymn.

Thanks, mom…  And a special shout out to librarians everywhere.

Into the Guns is now available on-line, on audio, and in bookstores in the U.S and the UK.  For more about me and my fiction please visitwilliamcdietz.com. You can find me on Facebook at:www.facebook.com/williamcdietz and you can follow me on Twitter: William C. Dietz @wcdietz.

***

About William C. Dietz:

William C. Dietz is the national bestselling author of more than forty novels, some of which have been translated into German, Russian, and Japanese. His works include the Legion of the Damned novels and the Mutant Files series. He grew up in the Seattle area, served as a medic with the Navy and Marine Corps, graduated from the University of Washington, and has been employed as a surgical technician, college instructor, and television news writer, director, and producer. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Dietz served as director of public relations and marketing for an international telephone company. He and his wife live near Gig Harbor, Washington.

About Into the Guns:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Legion of the Damned® Novels and The Mutant Files comes the first novel in a post-apocalyptic military science fiction series about America rising from the ashes of a global catastrophe…

On May Day, 2018, sixty meteors entered Earth’s atmosphere and exploded around the globe with a force greater than a nuclear blast. Earthquakes and tsunamis followed. Then China attacked Europe, Asia, and the United States in the belief the disaster was an act of war.

Washington D.C. was a casualty of the meteor onslaught that decimated the nation’s leadership and left the surviving elements of the armed forces to try and restore order as American society fell apart.   As refugees across America band together and engage in open warfare with the military over scarce resources, a select group of individuals representing the surviving corporate structure makes a power play to rebuild the country in a free market image as The New Confederacy…

Jeremy Tolbert – Co-writer of Nightfell

Jeremy Tolbert – Co-writer of Nightfell

Writer or scientist: Jeremy Tolbert joined both on his science fiction works. Now venturing into fantasy and time travel, Tolbert is writing for a range of different audiences.

 

Where did you come up with the concept for Nightfell?

The core of this project from the beginning was a handful of concept sketches that Nic had prepared, along with a title.  They had some general ideas about something involving the undead, and Nic had some great sketches of undead warriors.   This was our starting point, and from there, it was up to me to build a larger concept.

For me, the main thing I wanted was to do somewhere where the undead weren’t the bad guys.  Traditionally, bunch of rotting corpses, you think, okay, yeah clearly these are the evil dudes.  This time, I wanted a story where it made sense that the zombies and what-not were fighting for the side you could get behind, at least at first.

But as I thought about that further, I realized I don’t really like the typical black/white morality of the old school epic fantasy.  In the post-Game of Thrones era, you can’t just paint one side all good or evil, so I started thinking about my other side, the berunmen, and from there, a lot of the other concepts of the world, such as the Nightfell itself, developed.

 

How is it to collaborate in the creation of a story? Is there too much compromise?

My ideas are not that precious, and I basically saw my role on this project as a collaborator who brought a certain expertise with story to the table, but beyond that, I was willing to listen to any feedback.  Nic’s made changes here and there to page layouts and so on, but in my opinion, he’s improved the project every single time from whatever my lesser vision was.

Collaboration for me has been a wonderful experience, overall.  I really hope to work with everyone involved more in the future.  As a short story writer, I spend a lot of time in my own head.  I find working with others to be refreshing.

 

Did you always envisioned it as a webcomic?

I wrote it to be structurally flexible.  The 9 panel grid we used lended itself well to the webcomic format, but I also structured it in 10 12 page chapters so that it could either be collected as a single graphic novel or broken into 2-chapter issues.  Our goal was have some flexibility there.

 

There’s a whole debate around comics becoming digital. Do you think webcomics are the gateway for this new digital world?

I’ve been reading webcomics since the early days of Sluggy Freelance back at the dawn of the internet. I think comics don’t care what the medium is; sequential art can tell a story on a cave wall or a digital screen equally well.  The medium might present some interesting challenges here and there, or even some new tools or advantages, but fundamentally, I think comics can survive and thrive on anything.

 

Do you find yourself more driven towards a specific genre(s)? Which one(s)?

I’m more of a science fiction guy than just about anything else.  I’m a pretty logical thinker so even in my more fantasy-ish worlds like Nightfell, I tend to think in very scientific ways about the world-building and so on.

 

What was the first thing you ever wrote?

I wrote a 20 page “book” of the adventures of a elf wizard and his sentient cougar sidekick in the 1st grade.  I’ve wanted to be a writer for about as long as I can remember.  I also wanted to be a scientist.  So science fiction was a natural choice.

 

What was the first book you ever read (or was read to you)?

I honestly can’t recall the first.  It was probably something by Dr. Seuss.  I do know the very first science fiction book I read –Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey.

 

And comics: which were your favorite ones?

I was late getting into comics. Most of my reading growing up was via the library, as we were very poor and didn’t have a lot of money.  So I was in my late 20s before I started actively reading comics.  My gateway drugs were Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis – pretty much anything by that guy floats my boat.  Y: the Last Man was another big deal for me early on.

 

Nowadays, what can we find you reading?

I get a handful of comics every week – I’m the kind of guy who likes to pick up the first issue of just about any series with a concept I find interesting, so a lot of Image books.  I am also reading 365 short stories this year, mostly science fiction and fantasy, so you’re likely to find my nose in the pages of a science fiction magazine.  Figuratively speaking – I read everything that’s not comics in electronic formats these days.

 

Are you a person of idols?

Sure.

Who were your childhood heroes?

Charles Darwin,  Arthur C. Clarke, Anne McCaffrey,  Gary Gygax, and so many others.

And today? Who do you look up to?

Anybody who works for a living, honestly.

 

What made you enter the comic universe of storytelling?

I was fascinated by the opportunity to have an artist interpret the pictures in my head and draw them.  Collaboration between different artists is something I’ve always wanted to do, and I really love the more cinematic storytelling style of comics, as compared to regular prose work like I usually do.

 

Of all the projects you’ve worked on, is there one that stands out from rest? Why?

Well, as my first comics project, Nightfell stands out for sure.  Working with everyone, watching as each new page from Nic has come in, has been a dream come true.  I hope my story work can live up to the amazing artwork!

 

And now a peek into the Future. Can you tell us what project(s) are you most looking forward to?

I’m really looking forward to a young adult time travel novel I’ve been working on for several years.   It’s kind of like Jurassic Park meets Treasure Island.

 

Thanks Jeremy for letting us get to know you a little better!

S.G.

P.S.: If you enjoyed reading this interview take a look at the other ones we have from illustrators to writers, passing through game-designers and authors.

Scott Colby – Co-Writer of N0.1R

Scott Colby – Co-Writer of N0.1R

Finding a creative outlet in writing from a young age, Scott Colby is already releasing his 3rd novel later this Summer. However, N0.1R was his first comic book venture!

 

Where did you come up with the concept for N0.1R?

N0.1R was originally the idea of the book’s artist, Nic Giacondino. He had a heck of a world and an idea and just needed someone to help flesh it out a bit more. That turned out to be my job. His concept left me with a few questions about the world and the characters, so I got to work answering those myself and the final product was born.

How is it to collaborate in the creation of a story? Is there too much compromise?

I really like collaborating on a story. Sure, there’s compromise, but more often than not something really cool comes out of the combination of two disparate ideas about something. It’s rarely one side or the other coming out on top.

Did you always envisioned it as a webcomic?

That was what I was told it would be.  🙂

There’s a whole debate around comics becoming digital. Do you think webcomics are the gateway for this new digital world?

Definitely. The great thing about the internet is it’s a giant, never-ending rabbit hole. You never know what you’re going to find—or who’s going to find what you put there. Combine those traits and you’ve got a great platform for comics moving forward.

Do you find yourself more driven towards a specific genre(s)? Which one(s)?

A lot of what I write is fantasy, but I try not to get stuck on any one genre. I’ve done a little bit of everything.

Why?

I was just thinking about this the other day. I enjoyed the fantasy genre when I was younger, but lately I feel like it’s lacking depth. Working in that particular genre is a great chance to really challenge accepted norms and build something surprising and new—which are things I feel like a lot of fantasy authors just don’t do.

What was the first thing you ever wrote?

I was always that smart kid who finished his work first, so I needed a way to pass the time in school. I couldn’t draw at all, so I started writing. I can’t remember my first story, but I’m pretty sure it happened in third grade.

What was the first book you ever read (or was read to you)?

No idea.

And comics: which were your favorite ones?

I haven’t read a ton of comics, but I was always partial to the X-Men. Such a cool universe with a great cast of diverse characters.

Nowadays, what can we find you reading?

Lately I’ve been on a science fiction kick—Marko Kloos, John Scalzi, Iain M. Banks. And I read nerdy baseball websites like it’s going out of style. Not that it’s ever really been in style.

Are you a person of idols?

Not really.

Who were your childhood heroes?

Optimus Prime and Bret “The Hitman” Hart.

And today? Who do you look up to?

Anyone who can make a living writing his or her own stuff.

What made you enter the comic universe of storytelling?

I wrote some prose for Jeremy Mohler way back when, and he offered me the chance to write some comics, I decided it sounded like fun.

Of all the projects you’ve worked on, is there one that stands out from rest? Why?

Probably my first novel, Shotgun. That thing took forever. My style’s changed and improved (I hope) since then, but you can definitely catch a few glimpses of where I was going.

And now a peek into the Future. Can you tell us what project(s) are you most looking forward to?

I just finished the first draft of my third novel, Diary of a Fairy Princess. It’s the most absurd, ridiculous thing I’ve ever thought of. It’s great. It constantly makes me laugh while I’m revising it. Half of it’s written in a spoiled princess voice I had a ton of fun working with. I suspect readers are either going to love it or hate it with few opinions in between—and I really can’t wait to see which way it goes. Hopefully it’ll be available by the end of the summer.

Thanks Scott for giving us access to your creative universe!

S.G

P.S.: If you enjoyed reading this interview take a look at the other ones we have from illustrators to writers, passing through game-designers and authors.

Nicolás Giacondino – Creator & Artist (Mars2577, Nightfell, N0.1R, …)

Nicolás Giacondino – Creator & Artist (Mars2577, Nightfell, N0.1R, …)

Nicolás Giacondino is a talented Argentinean artist that has taken Outland Entertainment by storm. His unique style fits unseemingly into a vast array of projects without ever losing its authenticity.  

You’re working in several comics here at Outland Entertainment. From being the artist in Mars2577 to co-creator and illustrator of Nightfell and N0.1R.

How is it to collaborate in the creation of a story? Is there too much compromise?

Collaborating with other authors (be it writers, artists, colorists, etc.) has to be an organic and loose experience. You have to be open to the ideas sent your way and offer what you think are valid points to improve the story. And yes, there’s a level of compromise, but always to the work itself; you never have to become too attached to your own conceptions and ideas so much so that they’ll clash with the others’ or create tension. If it’s better for the story, then you have to incorporate it.

Speaking specifically of the projects I have here in OUTLAND, the back and forth between all the parts involved in the creation process has been amazing. Everyone’s extremely professional and at the top of their game in their respective areas, offering great advice and also knowing when to give the other the upper hand if something will work better for the saga. In my case, being the artist, I will provide visual cues and ideas for the writers to interpret and reimagine. They then send me their own takes and I’ll assess the suggestions and improve the material so that we’re all on the same page.

It’s my opinion that collaboration is the best experience when making comics. It forces you out of your comfort zones and exposes you to new and radical ideas, which help you to evolve your artwork.

Does it help or hurt knowing in advance that you’ll be the one giving a concept its visual life?

Definitely helps. I’ve dabbled a bit in writing (I have a published graphic novel penned by myself), but my primary concern has always been the artwork. So, being able to focus and work solely on the visual aspect lets me do my best knowing the other parts of the project are taken care of.

I also love to give the writers or collaborators in all the projects I tackle the utmost respect to their vision. I have a very unique style, but I’m open to it bending to the requirements of the story. You can never get something illustrated 100% as the writer imagined it; but I try to come to at least 99%.

Did you always envisioned these projects as webcomics?

Well, I always envisioned them as comics.With the climax of the digital age all around us, webcomics were the default option to get the project out there in the world. That said my intent is that we may be able to see these stories in print too.

Ours is such a strong medium, so full of possibilities that I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

 

There’s a whole debate around comics becoming digital. Do you think webcomics are the gateway for this new digital world?

Webcomics have taken things a step beyond in that they allow a larger number of artists and writers to express their vision without having to go through the filter of a major publisher or a ‘house style’. For me, personally, that’s been very advantageous and liberating. My style isn’t what you’ll usually find in the cover of the big companies, but published independently it has found a great audience that luckily grows larger every day.And I’ve seen the same happen to other artists and creators, who are able to reach a much more massive audience than they could’ve dreamed of.

Do you find yourself more driven towards a specific genre(s)? Which one(s)?

I’ve always been very passionate about science fiction and have been fortunate to be able to tackle projects related to it through the years.

However, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy working in other genres, such as Fantasy or Steampunk. I’m always curious and willing to try things out and my style is very adaptable to many different kinds of stories. Horror, for example, isn’t something I’d done. But through Outland, I was able to illustrate two tales in that genre that were very exciting!

Why Science Fiction?

Science Fiction, for me, allows you to contemplate very interesting, radical ideas and philosophical issues with more ‘purity’ than in any other genre. The far future or the dystopian near future peels our preconceptions on any given subject so that the message is carried across with more strength, allowing the reader to think about the implications of the narrative devoid of his personal stakes in it. For example, cloning is a very tricky subject in the contemporary world; there’s lots of ethical and moral questions being addressed and everyone has a political, human or religious view. If I transport them into a distant planet or time, cloning then becomes something abstract, an idea that can be dissected within the boundaries of that new world. Yet, the consequences and realizations that you bring back with you when the reading experience is over are carried into our contemporary world, hopefully giving people a new perspective on the matter.

When did you begin to show your artistic capabilities?

As I always say, I started drawing as soon as I was old enough to hold a pencil. And, asking my parents about my passion, they tell me it goes indeed that far back. I had a few other interests during my teenage years, but drawing is what’s always driven me.

What’s your favorite childhood moment related to comics or drawing?

Well, living in Argentina, sometimes we didn’t have access to all the latest material being published in the US. But there was a point in the 90s, when the arrival of comics would be almost instantaneous upon release, which caused me to open up to some major influences.

I remember a day in particular, when I was walking down a street from school and came across a newspaper stand and amongst the magazines and usual comics, there was the first issue of Jim Lee’s run on X-Men. I flipped quickly through the pages and dredged up whatever money I had in my pocket and bought it. Inside, there was an interview with Lee himself, talking about his process and whatnot and that’s when I decided I’d wanted to do this for a living. Up until that point, drawing comics was a hobby, but that issue of X-Men and Jim’s words changed my mind completely and set me on my path to become a professional.

Growing up, did you read a lot of comics or were there other activities that you preferred?

Like I said, there wasn’t a lot of material back when I was growing up. Mostly old DC paperbacks and some indie stuff. Argentina once had a huge comics industry and a lot of amazing talents came from here south into the international market, but after the dreaded dictatorship of ’76, it was all but dismantled. In fact, my hometown only had one comic-book store, which I discovered when I was 18 years old. But I was always interested in whatever I could find, so yes, I did read a lot of what was available.

As for other activities, I also enjoyed music passionately. I played the drums in bands all through high school and considered it a career option at some point, but as I said earlier, drawing always kept me coming back. Whenever I’d have to design a poster or CD cover, I’d remember why I loved it so much.

What about beloved artists? Any childhood idols?

Jim Lee was my absolute hero, as I mentioned before. But I also followed the work of other classic artists that helped me shape my style a lot, including Jack Kirby and Bruce Timm, two of my most important influences.

Later in life and as I found more and more material to read, I found the likes of Frank Miller, Neal Adams, John Romita and so many others. From my country, I also loved the work of Carlos Meglia and Enrique Breccia, both of whom I had the chance to meet personally. The latter became my mentor when I participated in one of his illustration and comics seminars.

Did you always want to work on this creative field?

At first, I didn’t even know that was possible. I’m not sure it is now either, haha!

I always sort of took comics for granted. I mean, I knew they had to be drawn and written by someone, but I never dug deeper into what professionals in the field actually did; I just enjoyed them and figured there were a few lucky fellows who were able to work on these amazing magazines. It wasn’t until the boom of Image Comics and artists making a big splash away from the major publishers that I realized this was something you could do for a living. So, upon that discovery, I started reading and studying more and more, trying to find ways to make it as a professional comic artist.

Going back to your own work: illustrating, coloring, lining,.. Do you have a favorite?

I enjoy the whole process, from pencils to colors. But inking has always been the part that I enjoy the most. In fact, Outland has given me the chance to work a lot in black and white and showcase my artwork as such, which has been a huge pleasure. Line weight, spotted blacks, crosshatching… those basics of inking make me truly happy when I’m doing a page.

 

And projects? Is there one that stands out from the rest?

They all have unique qualities that I think make them amazing, but if I had to choose one in particular I’d say Nightfell is the one that stands out the most.

Why is that one different?

Because it flips a common trope which we all know: that zombies eat the living. In Nightfell, the undead actually protect us and are our last line of defense against darker, more sinister creatures from below. That basic premise brings about uniqueness to the work that I think makes it truly original.

Also, it has deep roots in the Sword and Sorcery genre and it was conceived to be read as either a regular comic-book or a strip (which is how it’s being released in the website). That is also something that hasn’t been seen for quite a while and a format that both Jeremy Tolbert the writer and myself enjoy enormously.

From making the pencil sketch to applying the last smear of color what is your process?

My take on a page usually starts with reading the script and making a mental image of how the composition should work. I visualize the panels and what the writer’s vision is and then I map that out in panels across the page.

Once the panels are laid out, I go in very quickly and sketch out the basic perspective and character interaction and make sure everything works and is where it should be. When I’m satisfied with the storytelling, I tighten up the pencils and send them to the Editor and writer for approval.

If approved, then I move onto the final inks. With Outland, this has been the final stage in many projects and so once it’s done, I send it as a hi-resolution scan for it to be colored and lettered.

If I’m illustrating the whole, then I take special care to not outline certain things I will leave specifically for color to define. I then go in and add the volumes with grayscale and once that’s done I’ll put in the colors and details.

Do you follow a painfully strict plan or is it a more of organic process?

I’m very strict in the process. I found out that it is the best way to meet the deadlines and focus properly on every step.

So… can you tell us what project(s) are you most looking forward in the short run?

I’m very much looking forward to showing audiences the projects we’ve been working on so hard. Especially Nightfell and N0.1R, a crime story set in a world where organic life is nonexistent and robots rule in a mimicry of our 1940s.

There’s always something else in the pipeline, but I can’t really reveal much other than there’s exciting times ahead!

 

Thanks Nicolás for giving us a small peek into your creative world!

Thank you and I hope you enjoy the stories we’re working on!

 

S.G.

Gabe Schmidt – Creator & Writer of “Mars2577”

Gabe Schmidt – Creator & Writer of “Mars2577”

Gabe Schmidt love for Greek gods and science-fiction from an early age may have propelled this talented author into his writing path. Let’s find out a bit more of his history.

Where did you come up with the concept for Mars2577?

10 years ago, I was traveling on a trip with my parents to visit my older sister in Washington, D.C.  It grew off of the fact that there’s a place on Mars called Mount Olympus, and I began to think of a sci-fi setting where Greek gods are simply rulers over different areas of life.  On the long drive, I wrote down in my notebook the different roles that could be played by Zeus, Hades, Poseidon, and Hera.  While I liked the setting idea, when I thought of stories, I wanted them to be about the heroes of Greek mythology living in this world created by the gods.

Did you always envision it as a webcomic?

Definitely not.  It started off as a regular book.  Back then, there were only three other people who read any of it.  One of them, Shamus, suggested it as a comic book instead.  He hooked me up with an artist he knew, but the artist was not consistent enough to get any work done beyond the slightest glimpse of concept arts.  It was for the best anyway; the story has evolved a lot since then, in both my writing ability and the plot itself.  I did keep my eyes open for other ways to tell the story, though, and when the chance to work with Outland Entertainment presented itself, I leapt at the opportunity.

There’s a whole debate around comics becoming digital. Do you think webcomics are the gateway for this new digital world?

I am honestly not familiar with the debate around digital comics.  However, I have been reading webcomics for a very long time.  While the first ones I read were basically daily jokes (Penny Arcade, PVP), some of them were long and developed plots with plenty of jokes so it was easy to transition from the normal webcomic group (Order of the Stick is my favorite of these, Goblins is also good).  While the former had the feel of newspaper comics (with material you would never find in so public a forum), the latter felt more like normal comic books that knew how to crack a joke.  I think it is inevitable that digital comics are a core part of the comic community, whether or not anyone decides to debate it along the way.

Do you find yourself more driven towards a specific genre? Which one?

Why?

Science Fiction has always been my absolute favorite, in both writing and reading, but I try to diversify my interests as much as I can.  Vonnegut has had a lot to do with my love of science fiction, and I was reading a lot of his works when I first started getting back in to writing in high school.  The ability to use science fiction as a vehicle to discuss any topic you want without the restraints of modern-day technology or world situations is something I’ve always found liberating.

What was the first thing you ever wrote?

When I was in elementary school, there was a standardized writing essay for the state or the federal standards.  Don’t remember all of the details for sure, but I remember the topic was “What I Did Over Summer”.  I asked the teacher if it had to be real or if it could be fake, and she said it shouldn’t matter.  I wrote about how I was abducted by aliens and kept in some alien zoo.  (This may explain my later attachment to Vonnegut, as something similar happens in Slaughterhouse Five.)  The essays were sent away and processed by someone or some committee I’ve never met, and I received a low grade, closer to a C or C- in normal standards.  The negative reinforcement discouraged me from writing for years, until I got in to high school, when I restarted my old passion.  Now, of course, I realize that negative criticism is essential for becoming a better writer; when someone reads my work, I’d always rather hear what they didn’t like than just a general, “It was good!” with no further explanation.

What was the first book you ever read (or was read to you)?

I’m sure the very first book ever read to me was something along the lines of Dr. Seuss, and I know Goosebumps was some of my early reading.  However, the first book that I specifically remember reading was Jurassic Park, after seeing the movie many times in theaters, when I was eight.  I didn’t understand a lot of the scientific mumbo-jumbo, but it put me on the path to pursue that understanding, and it also gave me a good introduction to science fiction.

And comics: which were your favorite ones?

I didn’t actually start reading comics by issue until I was 16, and I’ve since gone back to reading comics by the trade instead.  My top five trades, in no particular order, are Green ArrowArcher’s Quest, Maus, Saga Vol. 1, Criminal Vol. 1 and 2, and Habibi.  As far as superhero comics, in addition to Green Arrow, my favorites were the Punisher MAX series and Marvel’s 1602.

Nowadays, what can we find you reading?

My four favorite authors are Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and I inevitably go back to reading a book by one of these four between other books.  Recently I’ve been trying to diversify my reading list across different subjects, from The Elegant Universe to Heart of Darkness, from The Journey to the West to Snow Crash.

Are you a person of idols?

I am.  I love the gods of mythology, the heroes of stories, and the protagonists of real life.  I have a tattoo of Anansi, a god of storytelling and trickery, the very type of idol that sings to my soul.

Who were your childhood heroes?

Definitely Batman, from Batman: Animated Series, and Joker, from the same.  Han Solo of Star Wars and Jack Burton of Big Trouble in Little China.Beast from X-Men and Donatello from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  (There’s a chance I was always destined to be a nerd.)

And today? Who do you look up to?

It may be generic, but my parents.  My dad is the embodiment of a hard worker, and he would do absolutely anything for his family.  My mom was one of the first strong women (of many) that I’ve known, and helped establish that from the beginning of my life, so I’ve never struggled to write female characters with depth who are more than just a Damsel in Distress.  (Or, at least if they start that way, they evolve out of that state.)  My sister, Rachel Schmidt, is also on the list, as she is a successful artist out of Washington, D.C., proof that if you work hard and have an amazing amount of talent, you can go far in the creative world.

What made you enter the comic universe of storytelling?

I practically grew up out of my local comic book shop.  While I didn’t start my own pull list until I was 16, all of my other hobbies (card games, miniature games, roleplaying games) were played at Gatekeeper Hobbies from the age of 10 on up.  I wasn’t the first one to think of putting Mars 2577 in a comic form, but I feel like the medium is both natural for the material as well as something I had been familiar with for years.

Of all the projects you’ve worked on, is there one that stands out from rest? Why?

Mars 2577 is my first big project to get published, so it will always have a special place in my heart.  Hopefully other projects of mine will show up before too long, but we’ll just have to see.

And now a peek into the Future. Can you tell us what project(s) are you most looking forward to?

I always end up working on more than just one project at a time, but there is one I’m trying to channel most of my writing energy in to.  The project that I am focusing on writing the most right now is called Shattered Worldsoul.  It is a post-apocalyptic novel revolving around eight different characters, in a town being harassed and eventually attacked by bandits.  It started as two linked short stories.  The first tells the story of a man waking up in the back of a van, not remembering anything of his life from before that moment, and immediately falling in love with the woman driving the van.  The second tells the story of the woman, who had lived a hard life, and who met the man when he was in love with a different woman half the world away.  When he was having surgery that would cure his amnesia at the cost of triggering it one final time, she broke in and burnt all of his notebooks about the woman he originally loved, so she would be the world for him.  From there it’s evolved a whole cast of characters and outlines for 66 chapters (although significantly less than that is written so far).  Hopefully, when that’s finished, readers familiar with Mars 2577 will have another fun setting from me to read.

Thanks Gabe for letting us get a glimpse of your creative world!

 

S.G.

Time travel: a purely sci-fi element?

Time travel: a purely sci-fi element?

I’ve never been sure of that. I’ve always been attracted to the idea of time travel, even though, going back a few years, I didn’t see myself as a sci-fi fan. It appeared in the books and movies I avidly consumed, but was it science-fiction or fantasy?

How much scientific accuracy there needs to be for a narrative to be considered science-fiction? Is that even at all relevant? Sure you have time travel that is so technical and scientifically structured that you don’t hesitate in calling it sci-fi – in perceiving it as such. Take H.G. WellsThe Time Machine, for example.

But then the lines start to get blurred. And a detective story – the movie Memento – or a love one – the novel & movie adaptation The Time traveler’s Wife – get’s you thinking. You even have a time-turner in Harry Potter, which there is no doubt of being Fantasy through and through.

So what does it take for time travel to be freed from the sci-fi spectrum?

Time travel is more often than not associated with the sci-fi universe, but it surely is not confined to it. Do you find it more often there? Is it more cohesive or realistic (if we can call it that)? Maybe, but it finds place in all kind of narratives.

From fantasy to romance to science-fiction, it can appear in any of these genres. The main difference is perhaps the level of imagination or scientific norms that rule that possibility: the paradoxes, the multiple timelines, what can or cannot be changed.

Through the Doctor in his TARDIS to Dr. Emmett Brown in his DeLorean we’ve been taught a lot about this matter, even if some of it is contradictory. We have seen a myriad of theories and rules, from the unchangeable force of the fixed points in time to the dangerous repercussions of changing the slightest moment in history.

We may question how something takes place, we probably don’t even agree or think that some theories are simply too farfetched.

Nevertheless, I dare you: have you never dreamt of travelling through time?

And that’s it. The universal force that binds us all to this story element, no matter the genre it is wrapped in.

 

S.G.