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Ok. So it’s no news to anyone that the comic book world was something of a novelty for me when I arrived at Outland Entertainment. Yes, I was a comic book fan all along and I didn’t know, but being conscious and actively looking for out of the ordinary titles and cult classics to read was a long way coming.
Here’s the thing: I’m already a Gaiman fan. His collection of short stories Fragile Things grabbed my attention with its lyrically beautiful stories and completely wacky tales. It clearly shows the range of tone and narrative style this author has to offer.
I was enthralled by the radio version of Neverwhere. Yes, it had to do with the talented performances and the whole production value of the piece. However, the metaphorical London I was introduced to, the one where the streets I know and love get a whole new and mysterious meaning was mesmerizing.
But I digress.
With Gaiman, we have an author that writes novels, graphic novels and non-fiction essays. Let’s stick to the fiction so we can try and establish some comparisons.
You can point out how the tone is similar. How Gaiman intertwines complex and bizarre characters and intricately woven narratives the same way, be it in novel or graphic novels.
You get the same satirical incisive critic over the human pettiness. The whole impact is there.
Nonetheless, it’s impossible to deny that the format dominates, I won’t go as far as to say the outcome of the story, but definitely the way it progresses and the freedom you have to imagine those worlds.
Let’s get Sandman’s example back on the table. You can’t avoid the way each character is seared into your brain with each stroke of the artwork that has breathed life into them. The illustrations, the way the panels are laid out on each single page… it all boils down to a specific experience—not too different from, say, watching a movie. You have a visual presence that guides you and influences the way you perceive the story. For better or worse, it has the power to limit your imagination.
When reading a novel, you are forced to construct that unique world on your mind. You devour the descriptions, the actions, the little details about each character or setting and build your own vision of what the narrative is. For even the more detailed and thoroughly descriptive author cannot control the mind of every single reader. The result:
intrinsically unique versions of each narrative.
Graphic novels give you visual inspiration, while novels give you more freedom to reinvent that world written in front of you.
Does that make one better than the other? You decide. For me, they are different experiences. Pure and simple, they’re alternative ways to consume a story.
Maybe there are stories that benefit more or are more adequate to one specific format than others. Even though I think that the potential in both formats is pretty much interchangeable.
Going back to my personal experience of reading Neil Gaiman’s tales, I like to be able to fabricate the look of the characters, the overall settings—maybe even add my personal details into the mix. However, it’s an enriching experience to devour the illustrations with all their colours and characteristic design traits of each artist. Yes, it’s the artist’s vision, not mine. But isn’t it remarkable how you can be deeply moved by the sheer beauty of a simple panel? Having said that, this can also happen with a plain sentence in the midst of a sea of letters.
So as you can see, I have yet to be converted to only one type of format. Better yet, I don’t want to! I do not want to be confined to one way of consuming stories. Give me freedom to create my own visions, yes, but also share your beautifully crafted ones.
We’re talking about sharing, about experiences, about taking the most out of a story. Milk a novel till it’s dry. Create all you can in your head. But don’t forget the pleaser it is to be guided panel after panel by streaks of colour, insightful lettering and overall awe worth layouts.
There. Novels vs. Graphic novels: you can compare them, you can have a favorite format, but you shouldn’t confine yourself to only one.
P.S.: Check out the previous posts of this series: I Was a Comic Book Fan All Along and Didn’t Know, How OE changed my perception of Comic Books, Diversity of Graphic Novel Genres: From Biographies to Philosophical Essays and Couture & High Fashion in Comics.
When you join the words fashion and comics I’m willing to bet that the result that assaults your head is pretty much the one where superheroes dominate the stories. This means a picture full of glaring colors and capes.
And no, not just the men. Zooming into some feminine characters, what we see is tight Lycra, nearly invisible shorts or skirts, curve fitting leather attire, sparkly bralets and the occasional high heel. It looks comfy and practical to go after or actually being one of the bad girls in this garments, doesn’t it?
Women fashion has been always stereotyped, even when it’s not filtered by fantasy or superhero settings. In narratives passed on the real world we jump from the “off-the-rack” bookworms, to the “funny/graphic t-shirts” geeks and the occasional “hot and preppy” cheerleaders. In other words an over simplified typification. That’s the problem: we’re not talking about types of things, we’re talking about characters that represent people with deep, ever evolving personalities.
But I’m not going to get all fussy about the way women are (sometimes brutally) stereotyped on most comic books. After all, we’re not short of examples (mainly from indie publishers, but nonetheless worthy for that!) of strong idiosyncratic female characters! Hurray for that!
No, I’m going to tell you how happily surprise I was when I found out an example not only of fashion in comics, but of couture: delicate, swoon worthy high fashion.
“Girl in Dior”, by Annie Goetzinger , shows us the creative buzz behind the beginnings of the Dior house of fashion, through the story of new chronicler Clara, rapidly turned model. Following this fictional character leads us deep into Dior’s fashion world. Flowing gowns are flaunt on delicate characters and water colored realistic backgrounds.
We are given a front row seat in Christian Dior’s adventure in high fashion, between 1947 and 1957.
This book alone is reason to bring a whole group of fashionistas to the world of comics. The accurate biography with its beautiful illustrations, allows for a healthy voyeuristic peek into the high fashion universe.
I’m not saying this is the best book ever. But if you know someone who loves fashion and might not be into comics yet, get them a copy. I’ve tried and it worked: a fashion blogger has recently been converted into a comic junkie!
Of course that if you yourself are a fashion addict, odds are you’ve already heard about Goetzinger venture through Vogue or a comic review somewhere else.
This shows the importance of the variety of themes, genres and artwork on graphic novels. There’s one for every subject in our life and they’ll be featured on the right news outlet – even if you have to dig a little bit for an over simplified two-liner piece of news, but hey, it’s better than seeing these works being constantly ignored. Sometimes you just haven’t found the right artist or the narrative that will resonate with you and suck you into the rich universe comic books.
P.S.: Check out the previous posts of this series: I Was a Comic Book Fan All Along and Didn’t Know, How OE changed my perception of Comic Books and Diversity of Graphic Novel Genres: From Biographies to Philosophical Essays.
As you might have read either on our “We’ll be at Planet Comicon this weekend!” post or on our newly refurbished newsletter, this weekend we’ll be an awesome time for comic fans and specially for OE’s addicts.
As a way to celebrate #PlanetComicon, Kansas City, we’re giveing stuff away!!
There are two main opportunities to win Outland Entertainment goodies!
1) Enter our online Rafflecopter Giveaway, open worldwide until Monday:
2) If you’re one of the lucky peeps attending Planet Comicon you have an exclusive chance!
Tweet your #selfie at the OE’s booth [#628] with the sketchcover you want to win! Use #OE & #planetcomicon / #PCC to enter the giveaway. The winner will be randomly picked using Random-ize and announced here on the Outland Entertainment website and on our Social Media outlets.
Best of Luck aaaand get cracking those entries!
As I told you on the first article of this new segment, I Was a Comic Book Fan All Along and I Didn’t Know it for quite a while.
Things sort of slowly became clearer during my college days, but it wasn’t until starting to work in the biz that I truly began to dip my toes back in the dynamic comic book waters.
I still remember the moment of opening the folder with all the projects in the pipeline and flying through them all. One of the stories that was more developed at the time was Ithaca. I read it all in one go and was hungry for more.
At Outland Entertainment, I was presented a huge array of creatives each one with a very unique voice, be it as a writer or an illustrator. Mars 2577, Nightfell, Blacklands, Aegisteel, these are all projects that showed me the different facets of comic book creation.
It wasn’t just sci-fi or violence: no, there was room for a multiplicity of genres and visual styles of every kind.
When some of our IPs started coming out as webcomics on a weekly basis, I had to do some market research of what was going on in this field. That led me to multiple webpages like HiveWorks. And there I was baffled by the choice! So many artists, so many genres and styles of writing and artwork.
It was a big turning point: no longer did I had to rely solely on my friends reviews, but I had first-hand overview of so many projects! I got to interview all the creators from O.E., here for the blog. I have always loved the backstage! How someone became who he is professionally? Where did the idea of the story come from? And I was lucky enough to ask all these questions. In return I dare to say that my knowledge of the comic book universe increased exponentially!
And where has that lead me? To a huge appetite for reading more and more comics, of course! It wasn’t instantaneously, but I found myself perusing the comics section of the bookstores not only “out of professional interest” but because I found them inspiring.
This must be obvious for most of you , but before starting at Outland Entertainment, I didn’t know how similar the cinematographic language was to the one used in comics. They remind me of a really fancy and detailed storyboard. I know, I know! They’re much more than that! They’re an artistic medium of their own. But through the eyes of someone who came from an audiovisual production background they really hit home.
I suppose that being a transmedia creative producer also feeds this need. I’m now itching to work up a universe where a comic book will help explore things even further. And if you ever attended a book fair, you’ll see that all of these artistic forms are connected nowadays. Take the London Book Fair, for example. They run the London Book and Screen Week simultaneously. You have professionals from game studios at the actual fair and lots of extra events that join this two worlds, once so further apart, of pages and screens. Comics are finally being increasingly recognized for the dynamic and expressive format they are.
But I’ll talk about these changes further along the line!
Now, take a moment and check out the interviews I mentioned! There are a lot of creatives: authors, illustrators, designers…whose stories will inspire you.
And if you haven’t read the first post of this series give it a go and learn how I Was a Comic Book Fan All Along and Didn’t Know .
Ed Lavallee has opened up about how his career began and the way he manages to balance graphic design and comics. And when he breathes new life into one his lifelong projects we cannot sit tight: we have to know more about Pop Star Assassin! And about “Ed Lavallee, the Creator”.
We’ve briefly talked about PSA before, but we need more info! Where did you come up with the concept?
The idea for Pop Star came about as a culmination of all of the pop cultural influences I loved growing up as a child in the 70’s. I loved all types of genre films sci-fi, horror, action/adventure, but the pinnacle for me was watching Black Belt theater on Saturdays. This was usually a double feature with crazy, over-the-top characters, and even crazier Kung Fu action, but at the same time it was juxtaposed by the hilarity of the badly dubbed English. With that said, my hero then and now will always be THE MASTER, THE DRAGON – BRUCE LEE! His movies and everything about him had a huge influence on me. If you haven’t seen the documentary I AM BRUCE LEE – watch it! You won’t be disappointed.
What can you tell us about this universe you created?
Well, Pop Star is set in the 70’s and starts out in Vegas, without giving away too much this first miniseries sets events in motion that will change the face of the planet resulting in a very Blade Runner-esque – the only difference it will be brought with 1970’s low-fi gadgetry and tech. Big, bulky, and unreliable. Ray guns, EMPs, orbital weapons platforms, massive rooms full of giant super computers.
You’re in a safe place here. You can confess: is Elvis secretly your almighty idol and inspiration?
Elvis did play a big part of my childhood. He was larger than life – THE KING of Rock n Roll. His fame was otherworldly, legendary. Part of that plays into the story in the fact that when Elvis died there was so much speculation, an unanswered questions…then the Elvis sightings started popping up and that just added to the mystery and elevated him to god-like stature in the eyes of the world – not just Americans. The tabloids are still running stories about Elvis to this day. Makes for a great story though, huh? 😉 Ultimately though, Bruce Lee is my ultimate inspiration and almighty idol!
Now, seriously, were there any artists and/or authors who influenced you on this particular project?
Well, like i said previously the majority of the influences for Pop Star were all of the things that influenced me in the formative years growing up in the 1970’s, but I would say it is ultimately influenced by everything. No one specific artist or author comes to mind, but if I had to name names, I would have to say Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorcese, and Francis Ford Coppola.
PSA has a very specific style when we speak about its artwork and storyline. What was your goal?
Really, my goal with the artwork for PSA is the same as my goal with artwork for every comic book project I work on – find the BEST, most talented, and unique artists I can find to bring the story to life. I am very lucky to be working with the brilliant, MARCELO BASILE. A true master of the craft, he is really kicking ass on Pop Star. Each new page of art I receive is better than the previous. He is the visual mastermind behind the look and feel of all things Pop Star Assassin. He is to be applauded. Take a bow, Marcelo!
You work with different artists on this project: Marcelo Basile, as artist, and MattCashel, as co-writer. What did you find more difficult to collaborate in: the artwork or the writing?
I’m a fairly laid back guy when it comes to collaborating with other creatives – I think this comes from working as a production artist/graphic designer as my day job. As part of a team it is all about compromise. I tell all of the artists. I work with that my script is just a loose outline of what I see happened, and to feel free to change things up if there is a better way to something visually. After all they are the experts. I will make points in y script if there is something specific that needs to be seen, but other that I like to leave most of the heavy lifting to the artist. Writing collaboratively, is much the same, but more back and forth with dialogue and moving the story forward in a way that is interesting and makes sense. Compromise is key.
Did you find yourself on the spot, having to make many concessions or was it a smooth ride?
It is a fairly smooth ride. Marcelo is a consummated professional, and is always willing to make edits to art if there is something I need changed. though it is pretty rare that I ever want to change anything. I mean C’MON, have you seen his pages! Perfection!!!
How did it feel to get such positive feedback from Jimmy Palmiotti?
Jimmy P is the hardest working professional in comics today. He is also the coolest, most genuine, and nicest guy you will ever meet at a comic convention! I am truly lucky to have Jimmy’s endorsement. Meant a LOT to me for sure.
Having personally financed the first 2 issues of Pop Star Assassin, you’re now running a Kickstarter campaign to help fund issue #3 and beyond.
What do you think attracts comic book fans to PSA?
Well, I know for one thing the art if out of this world, but I hope that readers see PSA as the total package. After all, what’s not to like about Sex, Drugs, Rock-N-Robots, right? We believe strongly in the story and characters and come hell or high water we will get this first 6 issue miniseries finished!
You offer many variant covers for PSA, from an array of comic book artists. How did you manage to get so many different artists interested in the Pop Star Assassin universe?
All of the artists doing variant covers are either people I have worked with in the past or people who I admire and would like to work with in the future. We truly are lucky to have so many talented artists doing covers for the campaign. Most of them I just asked.
What can we expect from Pop Star Assassin in the future (besides its 3 other issues!)?
Pop Star is a far reaching story and was originally planned as an ongoing series. As we reach the end of issue 6 the world will be turned on its head. We are trying to build a deep universe of characters and sub-plots that can really go in any direction. We will start to see some of that with Norma and a new character that debuts in issue 3. Stay tuned!
Have you ever considered seeing it adapted to an audiovisual format? If so what would you choose: live-action or animation? Movie or TV-series?
The ultimate dream of most comic creators getting that option! While I can honestly see PSA as a full-on, over-the-top, live action blockbuster, I feel that the depth of the story and its characters could only be done justice with a live action TV show on a premium cable channel – HBO, Showtime and Netflix are all doing stellar work. Game of Thrones for me, is my favorite show on televisions right now. Season 2 of Daredevil was pretty kick as also though!
We know you’re hyper focused on PSA right now, but what other projects can we expect from you in the near future?
Well, I currently have a few irons in the fire so to speak. I am working on Backlands with Jeremy Mohler and Erick Marquez – issue 1 is complete with issue 2 in production. I am working with artist Rudy Garcia on Julia Cruz: Evolution Cop. We are putting the finishing touches on issue 3 right now
Fans will be able to find you at Planet Comicon this month! What are you most looking forward to that weekend?
Conventions are always a creative re-charge for me, catching up with old friends, making new ones, and seeing all of the new comics and art is always super inspiring for me. It’s always fun hanging out afterward with everyone, having a few beers and talking shop. But ultimately, I am there for the fans and hope to make a lot of new ones! Without them, we are nothing! Putting a smile on someone’s face is what this is all about. Stop by and see us at the Outland Entertainment booth.
Any surprises planned?…
Thank you, Ed, for killing our curiosity about this “lysergic trip to the heart of American conspiranoia” that is Pop Star Assassin.
P.S.: Don’t forget to check out PSA Kickstarter campaign! (At least have a look at the video and spread the word: Ed’s rock’n’roll look is worth it!!)
If you asked me, I wouldn’t probably say I was a hardcore fan of comic strips or comic books…but I was. No, I wasn’t ashamed of my hobby, I just had the wrong assumption that only the people who read those big famous names like “Superman”, “Spiderman” or “X-Men (the ones I saw as animated cartoons every weekend on the clock!) were worthy of being called “comic book fans”. Only now I hear how ridiculous this sounds.
Although I did not read the mainstream superheroes or indie obscure comic books, I started by devouring one series: “Turma de Mônica” by Brazilian cartoonist Maurício de Sousa. I loved those simple stories about a small group of kids: Mônica with her anger management issues, Cebolinha always trying to take her iconic blue bunny away and failing miserably, Cascão with his fear from water, Magali eating a watermelon with two bites and all the pastries she could, and of course the other characters that came in comics from the same author. Penadinho, a nice ghost not too different from Casper, Bidu the intelligent and slightly sarcastic dog or Chico Bento from the inner state area who was written with the distinct Caipira accent – which means “bush cutter” accent.
Yes, you get it: I was deep in Brazilian kids’ lingo, knowing what their words meant back in Portuguese from Portugal – it might seem all the same too you, but believe me, there’s quite a difference. Think American vs British English.
I then started reading the strips launched online, so I guess one might say that was the first time I dwelled the webcomics world as well.
I also read (even though I wasn’t mad about them) the Disney Adventures: pure Portuguese, pure classical Disney characters from Mickey to Donald Duck, and, of course, Scrooge McDuck and the quests of his three grandnephews Huey, Dewey and Louie.
After a while I upgraded and started reading “Garfield” by Jim Davis . After tons of books about the conundrums of the fatty cat and lasagna in landscape format, square format, A6 format…the stories all started to sound pretty much the same.
So it was time to read about the universal questioning “Mafalda” written and drawn by the Argentinean cartoonist Quino. The comic strips count with the scathing tone of a precocious 6-year-old girl talking to her parents and her friends about Global problems and, why not, the big issue of having to eat soup.
It was only when I got to college and made new friends that I truly saw another side of the comic book universe. “V for Vendetta”, “Cat Woman”, Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman”: a world of adaptations and expansions of TV and film sagas as well as original stories, in such a more dynamic way than a novel. I discovered the shops and little bit of the collector’s culture. You know? The one where each issue is carefully stored in a specially-for-this-purpose-only plastic folder? No sweaty fingers allowed in the vicinity.
And when I got into the Outland Entertainment team THEN it all expanded multiple times. The work our artists had already done, the works (some still under wraps I’m afraid) we were going to be a part of and be involved in their development. The webcomics, the awesome gripping, eccentric, fantastic characters. And, when attending a book fair I’d be more open to hear talking about comics and you know what? I love them! It’s an amazingly dynamic and expressive format for narratives.
So please, do join me in this new path of discovery. I’ll be pouring my “Newbie” views on the comic book Universe right here every fortnight.
How about you? What was the first comic strip/book you read? Is it still your favorite?
P.S.: Featured image from this page.
SHOGUN KNIGHT DYSON V is the next project we’re publishing through OUTLAND.
Anybody who has been following OUTLAND the last year or so will know that we’ve partnered with Mat Nastos on a variety of projects, AEGISTEEL, ELFLORD, and the re-release of The Barry Blair Library. Almost since the beginning of our partnership, Mat has been talking about an idea for a giant robot book. Well, SHOGUN KNIGHT DYSON V is it.
From Mat –
This is one of my favorite pieces of work I’ve ever done, and is based on my love for the giant robot comics and cartoons of the 70s and 80s. If you love Shogun Warriors, Tranzor-Z (or Mazinger Z in other countries), Giant Robo, Big 0, Grendizer, Getter Robo, or any of their cousins, then you will be blown away by SHOGUN KNIGHT DYSON V! Not only is it full color, but it is printed OVERSIZE at 9″x12″!! The book is a beast and simply beautiful.
Here is the official blurb –
With the corrupt Titan, BLACK ODIN, on a rampage, it is up to Lieutenant Jonathan “Hightower” Harmon and his team to awaken the guardian robot, DYSON-V, to stop him. Full color, Super Robot action in the vein of Shogun Warriors, Mazinger Z, Giant Robo, and Grendizer.
You see a preview of the first six pages below –
It will be premiering at the Amazing Houston Comic Con September 4 directly from Mat Nastos, but will be ready for pre-order from OUTLAND soon!
BLACKLANDS is the next in our list of Outland publishing projects coming to print.
This is a book completed almost entirely in-house – roughly based off a dream I had (Jeremy Mohler) some years ago, it’s created by myself and Edward Lavallee (our Director of Design), also written by Ed, penciled and inked by Erick Marquez (who is a LONG time friend and super talented artist), with layouts, designs, and colors by me. Lettered by the super talented Ed Dukeshire (as ever).
It’s pretty exciting to have a project like this come together. As I said, it began life from a dream I had, though the setting was pretty non-specific. But, being a huge fan of westerns, we decided to take it that way. The first attempt at this book was by my wife (Emily Hall) and I. We originally planned it as a submission to the now canceled DC webcomic site, Zuda Comics. Zuda closed it’s doors before we were ready to submit, however. So it got shelved until some years later when I dug it up as a project to pitch to Ed as something to work on together.
We’ll be premiering it out at the Kansas City Comic Con this weekend (August 07-09) in Kansas City. We’ll be at booth 1425. It’ll be an exclusive run of 150 copies with a unique cover you’ll only be able to pick up at KCCC. We’ll also have a few limited run sketch covers as well (only 25 of these).
I’m really excited about this story and the team and I hope you guys like it!
Here’s a bit about the story –
BLACKLANDS is an action/adventure that takes place in the years following the Civil War. Set in the tradition of the classic Sergio Leone westerns, BLACKLANDS has plenty of action, romance, violence, and revenge. Think of it as PALE RIDER meets TREMORS with a splash of TRUE GRIT thrown in for good measure.
When a young girl goes missing from the small town of Bliss, Silas, the town elder calls upon Virgil Kane to bring her home. Silas explains that details of Lorelle’s disappearance are limited, and that discretion in the girls safe return are imperative as to not bring shame upon his family. Virgil accepts the assignment unaware that Lorelle is pregnant and ran away to ensure the safety of her unborn child.
Danger lurks around every corner as Virgil falls neck-deep into the world-altering hellscape known as BEASTFALL – an environmental cataclysm that brings about a second Dark Age where fresh water and edged weapons are the key to survival.
Check out the preview below!
I think it’s safe to say that the holidays have officially crept in.
Whether or not you’re already enjoying the so called “free time”, your thoughts are most likely there.
You might be set on spending it with a bunch of super active, super healthy activities or… Just lounging around the house, your backyard or the beach.
Whatever your summer rest of choice is you’ll always need a good’ol book with you. Really. If you’re traveling or planning a visit to a theme park, there will be lines, there will be times when you can’t take another step and just need to stop (or others need to stop) and you’re forced to be there looking at the empty air around you (yes, yes, there are sights: but you might want to escape them!).
And here comes your savior: the new shiny comic you bought at the airport or maybe the tattered book you picked up from your nightstand on the way out.
This will help you travel even further, while giving a rest of all the craziness…I mean, lovely holiday surroundings you’re experiencing.
In this new genre discussion “summer edition”, we’ll be mentioning a few of the favorite go to options. We won’t dwell on concrete brands, but instead what each genre has to offer in terms of enhancing your summer holiday mindset!