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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...
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.

Andy Poole – Colorist on N0.1R

Andy Poole – Colorist on N0.1R

Poole is a British artist who enjoys playing with conventions when it comes to coloring comics. Drawing from a young age, music and sports played a big part in this talented artist life.

 

There are a lot of preconceptions, even rules of how a noir work should look. 

How is it to work on such a setting?

Noir was always something I’d evaded in the past, it always seemed so boring to work in black and white or greys. I’m a Colourist, that means I work in colour, the fun stuff. What a naive attitude, I’m sure it stopped me from being involved in some of the most interesting projects I could ever work on.

The truth is, noir is ruled by the story and characters, not the visuals, and I should have realised that earlier on. People focus on film noir when they think of noir as a genre, and that’s just not how it is. Blade Runner is a noir, and that was a visual spectacle, not the black and white cinema people expect. Knowing that, I’ve come to be a lot more open and am able to enjoy noir work. I no longer constrain myself.

With a project like N0.1R, I’m able to take those preconceptions and turn them on their heads. It has that traditional atmosphere from pre 50’s cinema, the black and white visuals, but then when the story hits a climax, I’m going to be injecting colour and light that should change people’s perceptions the way my own were. It’s very exciting.

 

Did that put any different kind of pressure onto you?

I’m not feeling any other pressures outside of the usual, as I’m working with a supportive team who are offering guidance when they can. The line artist, Nicolás, has been especially helpful, the rendering style is somewhat styled after his own work too.

 

What attracts you most about being a colorist?

That’s not a question I can give one answer to. I love the creativity, the collaboration, the story telling and the challenge. I also love seeing black and white art brought to life with colour, under my very hands. It’s unbelievably satisfying.

 

Do you have a genre you look for in your projects? Why?

I’ve not been in the position to pick and choose what projects I work on, that’s an unfortunate reality for many independent artists. Given the choice however, I’d love to tackle some hard science fiction, particularly with a focus on space. I’m a sucker for spaceships with flashy lights and pulsing engines. If I could paint a nebula or render a planet for the characters to explore, I’d take on that book every time.

 

When did you begin to show your artistic capabilities?

In a broad sense, very early on. I loved to draw from as far back as I can remember, I took up music before I hit my teens and started writing not long after. I’d tackled the major artistic forms before there were hairs under my arms. I’d also lost interest in those things only years later. It wasn’t until college that I found my creative feet again. And later still, I hadn’t discovered comic book colouring until my early twenties.

 

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

Comics weren’t the cultural giant in England as they were in the US, my interaction with the medium was with comic strips in the papers and with children’s comedy books like The Beano or The Dandy. I didn’t seek out American comics until later in life when the internet introduced me to them where my friends and family could not, it just wasn’t a part of the culture.

Drawing on the other hand, that was always present. My favourite memory has to be from my school days. All of the classes in my year had gone on a trip abroad that my family couldn’t afford to send me on, so I was left to be handed around other classrooms with a blank pad and the task to create anything I wanted as long as I filled each page. I loved drawing, I loved nature and animals, so I wrote and drew my own nature book. It mainly contained birds of prey, sharks, crocodiles and the occasional poisonous insect, all of the cool animals of course. When my teachers and classmates returned, they really didn’t show much interest in what I’d accomplished, but I was proud enough to hold on to that book well into my adulthood.

 

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

Like I said, comics weren’t big where I grew up. Football (soccer) was the biggest cultural pass time, and still is today I suppose. I hated it, still do. I was able to escape it all with computer games and drawing for the most part. Discovering Japanese animation through bootleg video tapes and terrible televised translations also helped me zone out and find enjoyment outside of a culture I didn’t feel much a part of.

 

Did you always want to work on this creative field?

As a kid, I secretly wanted to be a policeman, then a soldier. In high school I wanted to be a graphic designer or architect. When I was at college age, sixteen to eighteen, I started writing very seriously and wanted to become a novelist or a comic book author. But at the time I was already studying new media and web design, which then led on to digital art and then I kind of just grew into becoming a colourist. I love digital rendering, though I still want to be a novelist… Or an astronaut…

 

Is there one project that stands out from the rest?  Why is that one different?

In my professional career, a short comic book fantasy called King and No King stands out most. It was my first time colouring on a project that would be published by a big publisher, this being Image Comics in their Popgun series of anthologies. I was working on Ryan “Wya” Ottley’s artwork, it was right up my street. It contains my favourite comic book panel that I’ve coloured to date and is a benchmark in my career, bridging the gap between amateur and professional.

Personally, I wrote a short experimental comic called The Last Man, with artwork being a collaboration between me and an artist called John West, who is now a good friend. I took up the major art duties, painting backgrounds and environments, and John produced the design and lines for the lone character of the piece, in his style that I enjoy immensely. It was proof to myself that I could make good looking artwork and collaborate with people without the pressure of finance over my head.

 

From deciding color palettes to applying the last smear of color what is your process? Is it a painfully strict plan or a more organic process?

My very first step is deciding on the rendering style. Am I painting everything on the page? Do I tackle it with cell style shades, or do I go with the anime style that inspires me, fully painted backgrounds with cell shaded characters and objects?

Either way, I flat everything and then render the backgrounds with either my own pre-set colour palettes or new palettes when needed. Character colours come next, and then any lighting and effects that seem to be my hallmark, or so I’m told.

I mostly stick to that process, but lately, working on projects with Outland Entertainment, I’ve had to tackle artwork with rendering and colour styles that I never have before. I’ve had to be much more adaptive and let the process develop organically with these projects.

 

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

Outland’s N0.1R is something I always like to work on, it is both easy and fun, the perfect combination. The project titled Star of Mourning is very exciting for me, it is a challenge, heavy on digital paints that are quite time consuming and requires a lot of experimentation to get the look and feel the creators desire. However, it looks very good and I look forward to each new page that comes my way.

 

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

My pleasure.

 

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 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.

Mat Nastos – Artist & Author Interview

Mat Nastos – Artist & Author Interview

Mat Nastos is a versatile artist who always manages to infuse his unique sense of humor into the countless projects he is involved with. He is known by his work as an artist in the cult-classic independent comic book, “ElfQuest”, and as a writer for film & TV as well as for his own novels. Fan of action packed stories with a sci-fi or steampunk twist, you won’t be surprised that from all the children shows out there, he worked for Disney Channel‘s “Phineas & Ferb”.

 

Mat, the big question: what did you want to be when you grow up?

My goal in life, from as early as I can remember, was to be a comic book artist when I grew up. Comics in general were my life: I read them, collected (read: horded) them, drew them…I started and ran the first comic book conventions in Hawaii in the 80s back when I was 11. Comics were my life and my driving goal had been to draw them. That spurred me to go to comic book school out in the middle of New Jersey when I graduated from High School.

I drew comics for a lot of years before transitioning over to film/TV and, eventually, to writing.

 

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

I remember my mom reading a lot of Dr. Seuss to me as a child, but nothing specific. I still have the very first comic I was given – “The Power of Warlock” #14. The first real book I remember reading was “The Hobbit” when I was about 6 or 7. That really stuck with me and opened the door to fantasy/sci-fi fiction for me. After I read that any the “Lord of the Rings” series, I went nuts and started reading everything I could get my hands on. Luckily, I had an older brother and mom who were also into that material and I’d read a lot of things they were.

Right around the same time, my family discovered the early Dungeons & Dragons game (late 70s) and I’ve been playing ever since.

 

And comics: which were your favorite ones?

I read EVERYTHING as a kid. Pretty quickly my collection of comics bloomed up into the thousands and then tens of thousands (now it rests at somewhere around 150,000 comics). When I was younger, my favorites were Elfquest, X-men, 2000AD, and Legion of Super-Heroes, but I wasn’t picky beyond that.

 

Nowadays, what can we find you reading?

I don’t read much in comics these days, and when I do they are generally trade paperbacks versus singles. The art of writing comics to actually be read as singles has become a bit of a lost art over the past 20 years or so and I find it a waste to attempt to follow series in that format. I pick up a lot of omnibus collections of material I was a fan of as a kid.

Outside of comics, I read an insane amount of things – tons of non-fiction, and at least 3-4 novels a week. Still a lot of sci-fi/fantasy more than anything else, although thrillers and any sort of action stories are finding their way onto my reading list as I begin to write more and more in those genres.

 

Who were your childhood heroes?

Most of my heroes were the men (and women) creating the material I was a fan of: George Lucas, Wendy Pini, John Byrne, George Perez, Stan Lee, Piers Anthony, Jim Kelly, Gary Gygax, Ed Greenwood, Chris Claremont…my dad.

 

And today? Who do you look up to? 

I’ve been lucky enough that I still have a lot of the same heroes I did as a kid. I still have most of that sense of wonder and love I had as a kid.

 

Your first published work was in “The Big Book of Urban Legends” from Paradox Press in 1993. But what was the first thing you ever wrote?

My first published writing was a short fantasy story I wrote back in high school. I had an English teacher who was truly a terrible human being who went out of her way to put me down. Her abuse turned out to be a driving factor for me and I submitted a story I’d written in her class (and been given a “C” on!) to Fantasy Digest Magazine. They bought it and I was on my way!

After that, my writing was for my own comics – things like the Cadre, Elfsong, and Fionn.

My first “real” gig as a writer was the screenplay for the low-budget horror flick, “Stinger,” in 2002. Since then I’ve had 8 films produced.

 

Your writing spans from comic books to novels, video games to film and TV. Do you have a favorite?

Writing, in general, for me is a lot of fun. The most satisfying for me as a creator is probably novels because I have complete control over there. Good or bad, with a novel every aspect of it falls onto my shoulders. If it succeeds or fails, things are all on me.

The rest of the mediums all have their own positives, though, and comics will always be my first love. Working with a fantastic art as a collaborator is an incredibly fulfilling experience.

 

You have done the artwork, including the cover art for all your own books. Why?

I think it all goes back to control. So far, I’ve had very specific ideas of what I wanted on the novel covers and the easiest way to get those ideas out was to do them myself.

Does it ever backfire?

Not yet, knock on wood!

 

Your work in the comic world started with “Elfquest” comics for Warp Graphics, right? What made you enter this new universe of storytelling?

Well, my first comic work was on “The Big Book of Urban Legends,” and I had done quite a bit of indy comic work before Elfquest, including working as an assistant to Joe Orlando at the DC Offices while I was in art school.

Comics were my life-long love. Elfquest specifically was my favorite comics. Funnily enough, my biggest goal in going to art school was to draw Elfquest. I had always figured it would take me years (5, 10, or more!) to get a chance to work with the Pinis on Elfquest – they had never let anyone else draw the comic back when I was reading it, so my goal was a crazy fantasy at the time. It was mind-blowing to get a call from Barry Blair asking me if I wanted to work on Elfquest. I was still at the School of Visual Arts when he contacted me and it was easily one of the best days of my life.

There was never a doubt in my mind that I wasn’t going to work in comics.

 

“The Cestus Concern”, your first novel, was the #1 best selling Cyberpunk & Sci-Fi Adventure novel on Amazon for 7 consecutive months in 2013. How does it feel to have your work on the spotlight?

It was pretty crazy. Novel writing wasn’t something I had ever set out to do…in fact, when I started writing “The Cestus Concern” I’d never written more than a couple of short prose stories. Sure, I had written a bunch of material for TV/film and comics, but prose was so alien to me I wasn’t convinced I could even do it.

My whole goal with the book (and each once that’s followed) was to write something that I wanted to read. To write something fast, fun, and crazy. It’s been a great to see that so many other people have enjoyed the work as much as they have. As a storyteller, nothing is better than connecting with fans the way the Cestus books have.

 

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

I’ve been lucky to work on a huge number of fun projects, so it’s hard to pick. Right now, the thing I’m the most in love with my Donner Grimm books. The first, “Man With The Iron Heart,” came out at the end of 2014 and I am finishing up the sequel, “The Unweaving,” right now. I love the action-adventure/pulp/weird war universe I’ve created for it and the characters are a lot of fun.

In comics, it’s the new Elflord series I’m working on. The artist, Tony Vassallo, is insanely good and the material we’re putting together isn’t like anything else being done in fantasy comics right now. The series is crazy good.

 

You own the license from Barry Blair’s projects. What made you take that leap?

Barry himself was the reason behind me picking up the rights to all of the material. We had been friends since the early 90s when he hired me to work for Warp Graphics on the Elfquest material, and we had very similar sensibilities . We started talking in 2007 about working together again and one of the things that came up was my love for so many of the characters he’d created, especially things like Elflord, Dragonforce, and Samurai. He said he was done telling those stories, but asked if I wanted to carrying on with their tales on my own. He turned over the rights to all the material to me in exchange for my promise to treat them like my own children.

We had been well on our way to doing a ton of new material together when he passed in early 2010. It was a crushing blow for me and it took almost 5 years for me to get back to the point where I felt like I was ready to start again. To be able to put the work out FOR Barry since I couldn’t do it WITH him.

 

Outland Entertainment is working closely with you not only to bring several of Barry Blair’s titles into digital format but to actually reboot some of them.

What are you most excited about this endeavor? 

The most exciting part of working with Outland is having the chance to bring Barry’s work back out into the public eye. Barry was a creative dynamo who generated a ton of fun material in a dizzying array of genres. He worked in every possible genre you can image: sci-fi, fantasy, comedy, horror, satire, action/adventure, erotica…you name it and he produced work in it.

It’s been a shame that his work has disappeared from the comic industry, especially since his work and company (AIRCEL) was such a huge force in the 80s and early 90s.

Having the opportunity to make that work available once more is a thrill and an honor for me because I was a huge fan of Barry’s work, as well as having been his friend for more than two decades.

 

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

I’ve got a lot of work coming out this year. Right now I’m finishing off sequels to both my prose series with “The Cestus Corruption” and “The Unweaving.”

In comics, I’m writing Rob Liefeld’s new “Brigade” series for Image and “Blindside” for Marat Mychaels. For Outland, I’m writing a series based on my Aegisteel fantasy stories with Alan Gallo as the artist; Elflord with Tony Vassallo, and a brand new Dragonforce series that will be drawn by Richard Pace (you heard it here first!).

It’s going to be a fantastic year!

It sure looks like it! Thanks Mat for taking time to let us get a glimpse of your vast creative work!

S.G.