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APEX Kickstarter Launch Date Revisited

Hello everybody! I know that we announced the hard launch date for the Kickstarter for APEX: Collected Edition yesterday. When we announced that, we felt pretty sure we were ready to roll, but we had a significant amount of feedback on the campaign. Because of how the...

APEX Kickstarter Launch Date!

Okay folks! We finally have news. We're planning to launch the APEX: Collected Edition on Tuesday, December 10th. Here's a preview of the campaign that you can check out before launch!...

Final 20 Hours of The Jötunn War Issue 02 Kickstarter!

The Jötunn War Issue 02 just reached it's primary funding goal on Kickstarter! We're now at the final 20 hours of the campaign and we're hoping to raise funds for issue three! Thank you all so much for your continued support! The Jötunn War is a FOUR ISSUE graphic...

Apex Kickstarter Update

Hello everybody! A quick update on the status of the upcoming Apex Theropod: Deckbuilding Game Collected Edition Kickstarter. We had expected to launch the Kickstarter last week, but it took a little longer than we anticipated to get all the details in from the...

Outland Stock Art on Patreon

Hello folks! We just launched a stock art initiative on Patreon! Outland Entertainment has provided thousands of images to publishers over the years, ranging from black/white quarter page illustration to full color covers, interior artwork, and graphic design. Over...

Outland Entertainment Partners with KickCTRL

Hello folks! I know that things have been a bit quiet most of the last year, but things have been grinding along! We've been looking into ways to correct some of our past mistakes, namely, the extreme mismanagement of our crowdfunding campaigns. We KNOW we have really...

Apex Theropod Collected Edition Kickstarter

Hello everybody! We just wanted to share the news that the Apex Theropod: Deck Building Game will be launching on Kickstarter next week. Right now, we're planning to call this the "Collected Edition." This version of the game includes a new box with all new box...

Ian Stuart Sharpe on the Jotunn War Cover Process

One of the ideas that fascinates me most as an author are the symbols we use throughout history. For example, the cover of the latest issue of the Jötunn War is a pastiche of a well known WWI poster. We have subverted the Army Air Service American Eagle and added in a...

The Santa Myth…

...And Why Pit Such a Cheery Legend Against the Horror of Zombies? by John Mayer Although this very question sounds paradoxical, the horror genre has always been at its best when it injects the shocking, the gruesome, the profane, the unknown, the ugly with the...

Storytime with Ian: Who are the Jötnar?

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”. See, that’s where the Christianity has it all wrong. All good Vikings knew the real story of how it all really began. The same way it will all end. With giants. Ginnungagap was the great emptiness before there...
Ian Stuart Sharpe on the Jotunn War Cover Process

Ian Stuart Sharpe on the Jotunn War Cover Process

One of the ideas that fascinates me most as an author are the symbols we use throughout history.

For example, the cover of the latest issue of the Jötunn War is a pastiche of a well known WWI poster. We have subverted the Army Air Service American Eagle and added in a raven, very much a Norse symbol.

Because the whole premise of the Vikingverse is that the Norse never Christianised – and in my alternate history, even conquered Rome – it is the Raven banner and not the eagle that flutters proudly across the Norse Empire. Same idea, different reality!

You might wonder why artists and propagandists were so keen on the eagles in the first place….

The bald eagle was chosen June 20, 1782 as the emblem of the United States of America, because of its long life, great strength and majestic looks, and also because it was then believed to exist only on the American continent. But the eagle as a heraldic device goes further back. The Reichsadler (German “Imperial Eagle”, also featured in the original) is derived from the Roman eagle standard, used by the Holy Roman Emperors and in modern coats of arms of Germany, including those of the Second German Empire (1871–1918) and the Third Reich (Nazi Germany, 1933–1945).

It was meant to embody the reference to the Roman tradition similar to the double-headed eagle used by the Palaiologi emperors of the Byzantine Empire or the tsars of Russia. It’s all about power and legitimacy.

But we all know history is rewritten by the victors, and in my setting that means Vikings! So, go and tell people to buy up War Bonds/make a Kickstarter pledge.

The Empire needs YOU!

Ian Stuart Sharpe

The Santa Myth…

The Santa Myth…

…And Why Pit Such a Cheery Legend Against the Horror of Zombies?
by John Mayer

Although this very question sounds paradoxical, the horror genre has always been at its best when it injects the shocking, the gruesome, the profane, the unknown, the ugly with the everyday lives of people and when it pits horror against cultural homeostasis. This conflict creates tension in a story and of course anyone who has taken a college creative writing course 101 has been taught that conflict moves a storyline. Frankenstein befriends a little girl, he admires a gentle flower; Dracula enters the peaceful and safe bedroom of sleeping damsels, and Satan started out as an angel and the favorite of God. And, every Stephen King piece starts with some idyllic setting, beautifully detailed before all hell breaks loose.

So, as long as we have had horror stories they have frightened us with evil entering into everyday life. Current horror fads, such as the slasher movies, echo this age-old formula. The happy, good-looking, care-free teenage culture is preyed upon by an evil maniac. Popular horror films of the last two years such as Get Out and Us, by Jordan Peele are set in pleasant everyday life, then the horror comes. The winning formula for fundamental scariness. Peele builds the atmosphere of ‘living the good life’ in both films then, BAM! It all goes horrifically bad. Many theologians posit that this is the most frightening horror of all, when the evil doer has no clear reason why they are choosing these people are their victims.

Recently, the Zombie genre has taken up subjects such as gentile setting of Pride and Prejudice (The film: Pride and Prejudice vs The Zombies) and the iconic Abraham Lincoln (vs Zombies), daring to pit zombies against cultural icons. Santa vs Zombies takes these recent treatments even further into our cultural ethos and challenges us to consider Santa at war with Zombies. Think about it, in our story we have Santa Claus, possibly the one purely joyful (jolly) tradition that is untouchably good and never associated with evil. Even God has enemies, has vengeance, inflicts his wrath on sinners, but Santa is pure joy and giving and kindness. In our story our Santa is all that, but he starts out tired because of the conditions in the world and the disbelief in him that is widespread. Like a Jordan Peele set-up, Santa innocently prepares for ‘one last ride’ on this Christmas night to spread joy and good cheer as always. But, when he arrives at his first stop he plops right into an apocalypse!

With only a limited time left, join the cheerful fray and support Santa Vs. Zombies on Kickstarter here!

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ABOUT SANTA VS ZOMBIES

Meet Santa. He’s having a mid-life crisis. He hates his job and wishes he was doing anything else other than being Santa. He’s just going through the motions and that’s why he doesn’t notice the zombie apocalypse until it’s almost two late. Saved by two kids, he at first tries to get back to the North Pole only to discover that his reindeer have been eaten. On the run and just trying to survive, Santa befriends the kids and falls in love with their recently-divorced mother. Soon Santa rediscovers his Christmas spirit and does everything he can to save Christmas for the kids—even if it means his own death.

ABOUT JOHN MAYER

 John Mayer is a well-published author both in fiction and non-fiction with three previous novels, two screenplays and a performed stage play. With over twenty non-fiction books published. His latest, Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, which was published by Healthy Learning, one of the world’s foremost publishers of instructional materials for health/wellness, fitness, exercise, sports medicine, and camp professionals.

Mayer’s day job as a clinical psychologist specializing in violent behavior has him consulting to law enforcement regularly. His 10,000 Twitter followers (@DrJohnMayer) (@jemayerbooks) look to his daily tweets for advice on psychological issues. He is an associate staff psychologist for Doctor on Demand (doctorondemand.com ) as well as a provider (Telemedicine) on DoctoronDemand.

Mayer is also a writer for a cable TV series, The System, that is currently in production with the pilot episode completed.

ABOUT KOJI STEVEN SAKAI

Koji Steven Sakai is the founder of Little Nalu Pictures LLC and the CEO of CHOPSO (www.CHOPSO.com), the first Asian English streaming video service. He has written five feature films that have been produced, including the indie hit, The People I’ve Slept With. He also produced three feature films, a one-hour comedy special currently on Netflix, and Comedy InvAsian, a live and filmed series featuring the nation’s top Asian American comedians. Koji’s debut novel, Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies, was released in paperback in 2015 and in audiobook in 2016; his graphic novel, 442, came out in 2017. In addition, he is currently an adjunct professor in screenwriting at International Technological University in San Jose.

The Santa Myth…

Santa VS Zombies Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Gwendolyn Nix

gwen@outlandentertainment.com

SANTA VS ZOMBIES, ORIGINAL GRAPHIC NOVEL, LAUNCHES ON KICKSTARTER

 Adventurous world full of Christmas cheer and gore to launch April 9, 2019

 

TOPEKA, KANSAS (April 11, 2019)—A new graphic novel from Koji Steven Sakai and John Mayer called Santa VS Zombies launched on Kickstarter on April 9, 2019. This sixty-page graphic novel follows a burned-out Santa Claus who reluctantly embarks on his last chimney crawl only to find his world turned upside down by a zombie apocalypse. With the help of a crew of children and a single mother, Santa rediscovers his Christmas spirit while saving the world.

“Santa VS Zombies combines two of my favorite things…Santa and zombies,” explained co-creator Koji Steven Sakai. “If every day was a zombie Christmas I’d be happy.” Sakai’s love for zombies is evident in his prose fiction, including his debut novel Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies. Sakai is a comics veteran, and his graphic novel, 442, which follows an entirely Japanese-American regiment during World War II, was released in 2017.

“I was always the rebel as a kid, so I never pictured Santa as all cuddly, warm, and fuzzy,” said co-creator John Mayer, who has previously written novels and nonfiction. “I knew there was a guy under there who could kick some ass—I mean, he lived all those centuries—that had to take some BAD…This is my Santa!”

The Kickstarter will support printing of the graphic novel. Other stretch goals, when met, will increase the quality of the book from cover gloss finish to French fold covers and as well as hardcover editions. The Kickstarter can be supported at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/327474418/santa-vs-zombies

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ABOUT SANTA VS ZOMBIES

Meet Santa. He’s having a mid-life crisis. He hates his job and wishes he was doing anything else other than being Santa. He’s just going through the motions and that’s why he doesn’t notice the zombie apocalypse until it’s almost two late. Saved by two kids, he at first tries to get back to the North Pole only to discover that his reindeer have been eaten. On the run and just trying to survive, Santa befriends the kids and falls in love with their recently-divorced mother. Soon Santa rediscovers his Christmas spirit and does everything he can to save Christmas for the kids—even if it means his own death.

ABOUT KOJI STEVEN SAKAI

Koji Steven Sakai is the founder of Little Nalu Pictures LLC and the CEO of CHOPSO (www.CHOPSO.com), the first Asian English streaming video service. He has written five feature films that have been produced, including the indie hit, The People I’ve Slept With. He also produced three feature films, a one-hour comedy special currently on Netflix, and Comedy InvAsian, a live and filmed series featuring the nation’s top Asian American comedians. Koji’s debut novel, Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies, was released in paperback in 2015 and in audiobook in 2016; his graphic novel, 442, came out in 2017. In addition, he is currently an adjunct professor in screenwriting at International Technological University in San Jose.

ABOUT JOHN MAYER

 John Mayer is a well-published author both in fiction and non-fiction with three previous novels, two screenplays and a performed stage play. With over twenty non-fiction books published. His latest, Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, which was published by Healthy Learning, one of the world’s foremost publishers of instructional materials for health/wellness, fitness, exercise, sports medicine, and camp professionals.

Mayer’s day job as a clinical psychologist specializing in violent behavior has him consulting to law enforcement regularly. His 10,000 Twitter followers (@DrJohnMayer) (@jemayerbooks) look to his daily tweets for advice on psychological issues. He is an associate staff psychologist for Doctor on Demand (doctorondemand.com ) as well as a provider (Telemedicine) on DoctoronDemand.

Mayer is also a writer for a cable TV series, The System, that is currently in production with the pilot episode completed.

ABOUT OUTLAND ENTERTAINMENT

Outland Entertainment was founded as a creative services company in 2008 by Jeremy Mohler. Since then, Outland has worked for a wide variety of clients across the world. Outland specializes in assembling creative teams and managing projects. Contact them via their site form or go to www.outlandentertainment.com. For more information, contact Jeremy Mohler at jeremy@outlandentertainment.com.

 

NEW VIKINGVERSE GRAPHIC NOVEL, THE JÖTUNN WAR, LAUNCHES ON KICKSTARTER

NEW VIKINGVERSE GRAPHIC NOVEL, THE JÖTUNN WAR, LAUNCHES ON KICKSTARTER

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Gwendolyn Nix

gwen@outlandentertainment.com

NEW VIKINGVERSE GRAPHIC NOVEL, THE JÖTUNN WAR, LAUNCHES ON KICKSTARTER

The first of a four-issue graphic novel brings Norse history to life this March

TOPEKA, KANSAS (March 22, 2019)— The Jötunn War, a brand-new addition to the Vikingverse universe created by Ian Stuart Sharpe, launches on Kickstarter on March 22, 2019. The first of a four-issue graphic novel series and a follow up of Sharpe’s debut novel The All Father Paradox, The Jötunn War is an alternate universe where the Norse rule the stars with restless fleets and an iron will. When the thralls rebel, turning to the artifice of Norns to help them escape their bondage, the Natural order is thrown into chaos, causing a war that will rage across the Nine Homeworlds. Will the thrall rebellion change the Norse way of life? Or will the Empire crush them with flame and fury?

“When we first acquired The All Father Paradox, I knew the Vikingverse setting had so much potential for trans-media storytelling,” said Outland Entertainment’s Editor-in-Chief, Alana Joli Abbott. “To see the first comic coming into fruition is truly exciting—and while it stands alone, readers of the novel will get extra insight into some mysterious characters…”

“It’s been a real delight to see the stories we started telling in The All Father Paradox take on a visceral urgency in comic form,” explained Vikingverse creator Ian Stuart Sharpe. “Norse mythology is a fascinating lens through which to take a view of the world. History is full of titanic battles, from David vs. Goliath to the Axis vs. Allies, but The Jötunn War is literally as big as it gets.”

The Kickstarter will support the printing and distribution of the graphic novel’s completed first issue. Other stretch goals include upgrades of printing specs, such as a glossier cover and higher quality paper, and finally the ability to fund the printing and distribution of the second graphic novel set in the Vikingverse.

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ABOUT VIKINGVERSE

The Vikingverse is the alternate universe that results when Odin escapes his doom at Ragnarok; a parallel timeline where Vikings rule seas and stars and the storied heroes of mankind emerge in new and brutal guises drawn from the sagas. Hang on tightly, ’cause the Free World just got thrown to the wolves and the meek shan’t inherit this Earth.

ABOUT IAN STUART SHARPE

Ian Stuart Sharpe was born in London, UK, and now lives in British Columbia, Canada. Having worked for the BBC, IMG, Atari and Electronic Arts, he is now CEO of a tech start up. As a child he discovered his love of books, sci-fi and sagas: devouring the works of Douglas Adams, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Pratchett, and George MacDonald Fraser alongside Snorri Sturluson and Sigvat the Skald. He once won a prize at school for Outstanding Progress and chose a dictionary as his reward, secretly wishing it had been an Old Norse phrasebook. The All Father Paradox is his first novel.

ABOUT OUTLAND ENTERTAINMENT

Outland Entertainment was founded as a creative services company in 2008 by Jeremy Mohler. Since then, Outland has worked for a wide variety of clients across the world. Outland specializes in assembling creative teams and managing projects. Contact them via their site form or go to www.outlandentertainment.com. For more information, contact Jeremy Mohler at jeremy@outlandentertainment.com.

Warlock 5 Author Interview: Cullen Brunn

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 himself as he has love Warlock 5 for more than thirty years.

How did you stumble upon Warlock 5 for the first time?

I discovered Warlock 5 at my local comic book shop (Heroes Are Here in Goldsboro NC) when I was a kid. I picked the first issue up off the shelf.

 Why did it capture you?

Right from the jump, that awesome cover of the first issue, featuring the 5 warlocks, had my attention. Then, reading the issue, I fell in love with the interesting, sort of hard-edged cast of characters, the fusion of horror, science fiction, and fantasy was right up my alley.

Did you have a favorite issue?

I think the first 5 or so issues were all pretty great, but that first issue will always be my favorite in the series. It did such a nice job of introducing all the characters and giving me a feel for the tone of the series.

How about a beloved character?

Savasthar, the shapeshifting dragon, has always been my favorite of the bunch, but I have a soft spot for Zania, too.

Did these change once you picked the books up to work on the project?

Not too much. If anything, I like both Savasthar and Zania a little more. In this project, I get to write Savasthar as sort of a brooding hardboiled detective… who can turn into a dragon… so that’s pretty hard to beat.

The original work must have cast a heavy weight, but what other influences did you have?

As with all my projects, I draw inspiration from many different places. Novels, movies, TV, other comics… It’s hard for me to pinpoint any one source. Those original few issues of the Warlock 5 comic were definitely the most vital influence.

The writing process is a collaboration between you and Jimmy Z Johnston. How is it to collaborate with other artists? Is there too much compromise?

I enjoy collaborating with others. Sometimes, writing comics is too solitary. Working with other creators helps to keep me sane.

This is not the only project you two have partnered up for. Why did you start working together?

I’ve known Jimmy Z for a long time now. Ten years, I guess. And we’ve always talked about writing something together.

Are there any specific scenes or narrative developments you want to include in this continuation of the 80’s comic?

We looked at the weird relationships between the warlocks as they were presented in the original comic, and we wanted to honor the way their interactions were depicted. But we also wanted to expand on what we had seen before and deepen those connections.

What are you most looking forward to work on?

I chuckle to myself every time I think of the interactions between Zania, the punk rock necromancer, and Argon, the Terminator-like robot from the future. But from a “big story” perspective, we’re getting a chance to really explore the idea of defending multiple realities from outside threats. And we’re introducing a really, really big outside threat.

The five main characters are extremely different and layered. What was the biggest challenge bringing them to life?

We have to make sure to give each character plenty of “page time.” This is an ensemble cast, and no one character needs to hog the spotlight. That can be a challenge at times.

Is it turning out the way you’ve envisioned it?

For the most part, yeah. Any time you work on a comic like this, especially with a co-writer, there are changes and new angles that arise as you are working on the project.

 In these shaken times do you try to embed your work with some subliminal criticism or do you keep it detached from the outside world?

I think people will read something more into the book whether or not I try to include something. But my primary objective with these stories is to entertain. Sure, there might be some subliminal ideas that I’m working into a story based on things that I’m thinking about, but I’m not going to try to hit the reader over the head with any of that.

Anything you can tell us without giving out major spoilers?

Well, I always wondered what would happen to the five warlocks if one of them died.

Interview with Warlock 5 Artist, Jeffrey Edwards

Interview with Warlock 5 Artist, Jeffrey Edwards

From Batman to Star Wars, Jeffrey has tackled numerous fandoms. Now, he faces the Warlock 5 Grid!

Did you read Warlock 5 before joining this project? 

No, unfortunately I had never even heard of Warlock 5 before signing on to work on this project. I was given a .pdf containing all the images of all the books after signing, however. So, I’m working my way through them as work on the book. Amazing stuff!

Do you have a favorite character?

Honestly, my favorite character is Zania, full stop. From the very first description of the character, I loved her. Then, when I was told we would be making some small changes to her as well as updating her look, I loved her even more! I grew up loving characters like Wonder Woman, you know? Powerful females, but also beautiful women who could not only beat the snot out of a snarky kryptonian, but could also capture the gaze of every eye at the high-class gala! So when Zania came along, I gravitated towards her.

Did these change once you picked the books up to work on the project?

Not at all. My favorite character is still Zania. Hands down. But what has changed since taking on the project is the amount of distance between my favorite character and the second place finisher. Zania was my fave by a long shot at the beginning, but I have really come to love others! Savashtar and Doomidor are at times the perfect picture of brotherly bickering and banter! Then, you also have the super dry mechanical wit of Argon. He’s not a sarcastic character by nature, but the fact that he takes everything said around him literally lends to a lot of funny interactions. He is super literal, but surrounded by a quartet of smart-mouths. It’s great! Tanith could easily have been a simple character summed up with one word: sexy. Yet, she is so much more than attractive. She has insanely powerful magic and is a natural leader. She’s great. All the other four guardians are and I’m getting to see that more and more as I work on the project. That’s the only change.

The original work must have cast a heavy weight, but what other influences do you have?

The original work cast a shadow the size of a mountain! Those pages are beautiful! I wanted to try and keep the core of the characters alive, but I have a style that is much more linear and graphic. I grew up drawing panels from the books I was reading. I’m talking Todd MacFarlane, Jim Lee, John Romita Jr., Mark Bagley, to name a few. But as I grew older, I started looking at a lot of different artists from the laundry list of ridiculously talked artists working today, and the ones that influence me the most would have to be Ryan Ottley, Ed McGuinnes, Sean Gordon Murphy, and Jim Lee.

Are there any specific scenes that stand out?

Absolutely! I love action scenes, but so often the most impactful images, at least in my opinion, aren’t action-oriented, but drama-oriented. I mentioned Sean Gordon Murphy earlier, and now more specifically, his work on Joe the Barbarian. In that book, the ending is so powerful, it would bring tears to your eyes. I know it did to mine. It wasn’t the usual action scene capped by the shot of the death of a beloved character, for example. I won’t spoil the ending, but take my word for it. Buy the book, read it, and you’ll understand why I love dramatic scenes.

In Warlock 5, there is a great one. It takes place in Tanith’s chambers. She’s searching for something and is visited by Savashtar. They’re both detectives of a sort, and they have a kinship. Nothing tawdry, more of an unspoken connection, but in this scene Cullen wrote the dialogue in such a way as to be uncharacteristically unsnarky for Savashtar, as well as uncharacteristically affectionate for Tanith. It made for a scene that needed some subtlety. So, I arranged the camera angels and the composition to try and imply that they were engaging in a verbal dance. A back-and-forth spinning waltz that grabs you and takes you along with them. The best part is they never take a physical step in any direction in that entire scene! But they do move with each other just like a dancing duo reading the flow of each other’s moves.

I have to say that I’m more inspired by this script than any other I’ve ever worked on and its the depth that Cullen puts into it that makes scenes like this one happen. It happens to be my favorite scene so far!

The story is really diverse, ranging from fantasy settings to hi-tech scifi. How does one keep aesthetic coherence between this blend?

I think the best way to maintain coherence is to boil down the different genres to what’s at their respective cores. Once you do that, the job is to remain true to them. Remain true, but blend them. I think of it in terms of colors of paint. Imagine that Sci-Fi is red. The most intense, vibrant red you’ve ever seen. The same is true for Fantasy, but it’s yellow. Now, they seem like such different genres. Different colors. They both have bodies of works ranging from iconic movies to comics that inspired generations. Each one is a slightly different take on their original respective red and yellow. Perhaps the iconic movie Star Wars is a vermillion. That would make Star Trek: The Next Generation a scarlet. The comic book Conan is a goldenrod, while the movie by the same name is a canary yellow.

Both of the genres are filled with millions of iterations, but when you strip away all the subtle differences, you get back to the core of the genre, the yellow and red. Then, the job is to blend those colors to make orange. It’s understanding the two genres well enough to know what makes them unique and then blending those aspects together.

The five main characters are extremely different and layered. What was the biggest challenge bringing them to life?

The biggest challenge in bringing them to life is to try and constantly do justice to that depth of character you mentioned. We are all affected by our environment and so are the 5 warlocks. In order to do them justice, I must push to show the depths of the worlds that they hail from. When you’re trying to show, at minimum, five different worlds full of living beings, as well as their guardians, it is a super challenging task. You have to know these individual characters both inside and out. And when you can do that, then the real fun part kicks in. If you were from a different planet within a different solar system within a different galaxy, well you might have an entirely different response to a common occurrence/question than I would. Makes sense right? Right. But what is that response? Exactly. What IS that response? You have to know the answer to that question a million times over. And that’s just for one warlock. Now do it 4 more times! Ha! But basically you have to know seriously everything about the 5 guardians! It’s a challenge for sure!

Did the fact that a previous artist had already given them a face help or harm your creative process?

Oh, it absolutely helped! You hear it all the time as artists, ‘we needed somewhere to pull from. We need a starting point. And then we can go from there’. But lucky me, I already had a starting point, and amazing one at that. From there it was just a matter of breaking down the characters to their core, and keeping the most important stuff while playing around with the rest! The push and pull of reshaping these characters was made much, much easier with having already had such an amazing foundation to pull from!

Has it turned out as you’ve envisioned it so far?

Truthfully, it has turned out better than that. I have worked on projects before that got me certain positives but would come at the cost of certain negatives. You know how it is. And one project in particular had supremely tight deadlines. But I did it. I did the work. I even learned to get faster at interior pages. Big positive! But it turned out to be at the cost was the final art. I hated it. I still do. It doesn’t represent my skill set as an artist and it doesn’t feel like I improved at all during the production phase. And most importantly, it doesn’t look cool! So I hate that project.

But Warlock 5? Well this project is a completely different story. I feel like I am constantly learning and improving, I feel like it is easily, far and away the best storytelling I have ever put out and most importantly, it is the coolest looking interior pages I have ever made! And that’s not me bragging, I don’t do that. That’s just the results of me taking a cold, objective look at this project versus my previous ones. It’s the best storytelling I have ever created. And its the most fun I have ever had working on storytelling. It’s just way better than I ever could have hoped for! I truthfully hope this never ends!

Thanks Jeff, for giving us a sneak peek into your work and the future of Warlock 5!

Thank you so so much for talking with me! It was a blast! I hope you all love the book!

Warlock 5 Author Interview: Cullen Brunn

Interview with Warlock 5 Colorist Andy Poole

Andy Poole says that one of the reasons that attracted him about being a colorist is the satisfaction of “seeing black and white art brought to life with color, under your very hands.” In a previous interview, we have also learned he enjoys playing with conventions when it comes to coloring comics. But how did Andy face the Warlock 5 challenge?

Did you read Warlock 5 before joining this project?

I’d never even heard of Warlock 5 before joining the project, as comics were not an interest of mine up until maybe ten years ago, so a Canadian comic from the 1980’s was completely off my radar. I did get myself into gear and do some research on the series however, reading reviews and finding what books I could.

Did you discover a favorite issue?

Not a particular issue, no. The original Warlock 5 had a cliff hanger at the end of issue #3, which I won’t ruin here, but it’s a pretty good one. Unfortunately, it was never resolved in later issues, so despite the writing continuing to be good and fun, I kind of gravitated towards the artwork instead of the story. From that point of view, any issue from #4 onward is a favorite.

While the first three issues had great artwork, the later issues kick it into overdrive with some of the most incredible black and white paints and inks I’ve ever seen. A page in issue five is especially nice, with the Robot Warlock Argon’s ship moving through space in front of a rocky, crater marked planet, with bright sun and ethereal nebula behind it all. The lighting is fantastic and makes the entire scene both dark and mysterious and beautiful too.

How about a beloved character?

Tanith. I find that the other Warlocks know their positions, powers, responsibilities and conspiracies well, but Tanith has had a lot of growth as a messenger of peace and harmony realizing that her standing as one of the Warlock 5 means performing acts that are far from savory. She’s straddling the line between her personal views and philosophy, and the corruption and violence that dealing with The Grid and the other Warlocks is pushing on her. Personal conflict is the most human story, my favorite kind of story, and she fits the bill the most.

Warlock 5 is tied to this 80’s view of a dystopian multiverse. How is it to work on such a setting?

The setting is interesting because it’s not a single setting at all, it’s like being thrust into 80’s Horror, or Urban Fantasy, Cyberpunk and I even get a Masters of the Universe vibe every now and then. These are all different worlds that rather than make the book feel convoluted, they make it work. They’re defined as individual worlds, not a mish-mash of genres. Working on that is interesting, it gives me the opportunity to join in on defining those individual worlds and genres using the colors, which is quite obvious when you see the color theory in practice.

The series has a – quite large and – faithful fanbase. Did that put any different kind of pressure onto you?

Not at all, mostly because I’ve remained blissfully ignorant of the fan base. But now I know… I did put pressures on myself though. When I saw the artwork from after issue #4 of the original run, I assumed that anyone who saw the art would pretty much instantly fall in love with it the way I did. As a Colorist I have to live up to that standard, and that is not easy at all.

The greyscale art is detailed and rendered expertly, and is something I would personally love to see the new series of books rendered as. But I’ve been brought on to modernize the story along with Cullen, Jimmy and Jeff, the writers and artist respectively, so I had to color the thing in a more modern style. I wanted to keep an eighties vibe, so I limited the color palette to suit that, but it’s still obviously a modern take.

Warlock 5 has always stricken me as having these bright colors. There seems to be something nearly violent about that approach. Do you agree with that? Or is it a misconception?

I can certainly agree. The original four issues had a very, I guess you could call it a sharp style of inks. They felt very in place with a violent story. Denis Beauvais, the artist, could reel that style in when the story required a softer touch however. I’ve tried to live up to that myself.

The original work must have cast a heavy weight, but what other influences did you have when tackling this project?

I’ve tried not to be influenced by anything but the original source material and the creative team around me. If I feel I’m capturing the atmosphere of the original, I’m happy. If the Writers, Artist, Letter, Editor, Publisher and Creative Director are happy with it, I’m happy with it.

Are there any specific scenes that stand out?

Tanith using her magic stands out the most. It’s bloody brilliant, in the literal sense. Bright blue and white glowing power, taking the form of butterflies that Jeffrey Edwards must have killed his knuckles drawing. But he pulled it off excellently! I hope that I lived up to his efforts in those scenes, because he deserves nothing but the utmost praise for pulling them off.

Is it turning out the way you’ve envisioned it?

Yes and no. You come into projects like these, with very rich and detailed artwork, with a style in mind, but the work grows and changes all on its own, and you have to flow with it. I’ve found it both to be good and difficult for me to render, and it’s fallen away from my original vision, or perhaps my need to honor the original artwork. That aside, it looks quite nice, I’m pleased with how it’s turning out and can’t wait to see the printed pages. That’s when it all comes together, the experience of reading the finished product and holding those floppies or trades in your hands.

Thanks, Andy, for leading us through the colorful multiverse of Warlock 5!

Interview with Warlock 5 Artist, Jeffrey Edwards

Warlock 5 Interview: Jimmy Z. Johnston

Interview with Warlock 5 Writer Jimmy Z. Johnston

We’re excited to feature Jimmy Z. Johnston, writer for the Kickstarter-funded revival of Warlock 5!

What was your first contact with Warlock 5?

I picked them up new off the shelf in the late 80s. I remember seeing the cover to issue one and thinking it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen.

Why did it capture you?

100% the cover. I bought it because that cover was one of the most incredible I had seen. Issues 2-6 had fully painted covers featuring the face of each Warlock. And they stand the test of time today as being some of the most striking covers of their time.

Did you have a favorite issue?

In many ways, the first issue holds that honor. It did such a wonderful job introducing the world.

How about a beloved character?
 
I have a ton of art I did through high school, and there is one montage I have of dozens of characters I loved from various works. Argon is in that montage, if I find it I will share it.

Did these change once you picked the books up to work on the project?

When I read them years ago, I never thought about the idea of where their story might go if I was writing it. It was a few years later that I began thinking about these things in earnest. But rereading the original series now is a tough thing to do. Because it is very much a product of the time. Storytelling was different back then. In issue 3 (I think) Zania sets off a nuke in Grid City. In issue 4 they don’t even acknowledge it. There is no way a writer could do something like that today, the fans would be all over it. They did resolve that eventually in the trade, but if you only get the issues you don’t see the resolution.

As for characters, when we started writing the series, I spent a lot of my time working on the new character Lycia, so my view of the original characters didn’t change much at all.

The original work must have cast a heavy weight, but what other influences did you have?

Clive Barker is my biggest influence. He tells stories in ways that no other writer I have ever read can compare to. I do find it interesting, having read comics spanning all eras, how storytelling in comics has changed. I worked on Micronauts with Cullen Bunn, a series that originated with Marvel in the 70s. I have talked to fans who wish we were writing stories like the ones Marvel did. But the reality is that nobody could write like that today. Readers wouldn’t be interested in it. There are many readers who seek out the older stories like that, but the nostalgia factor lets them be read without worrying about the storytelling. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series is one that stands the test of time. He did such a fantastic job telling the stories he told, that they will always be relevant examples of how to tell a story.

The writing process is a collaboration between you and Cullen Bunn. How is it to collaborate with other artists? Is there too much compromise?

In spite of what Cullen says, we work really well together.

But seriously, we sit down and talk out the idea. Then we write up a page by page outline. Sometimes that could be one line “FIGHT” or it could be a paragraph with dialogue we want to make sure we use. Through this process we make sure we don’t have too many scenes we are trying to fit in. In this case it was a 60 page script, so when we finished the outline, we talked about scenes we “wanted.” Cullen really wanted the Savashtar investigating scene, so we blocked that out for him. After we do that it is usually pretty close to an even split on the workload.

When we finish our parts, I combine it into one unified script and we both go over it. This part is fun because we get to revel in the genius of our parts and rewrite the stuff the other guy did. I joke about it. Usually it involves tweaking a few things here and there, but not too terribly much.

This is not the only project you two have partnered up for. Why did you start working together?

I met Cullen in 2003. He met me in 2004. There is a story there, but this isn’t the day for that. We were both at a horror convention for writers in New York (in 2004). Found out we lived very close to each other and when we got home started talking and hanging out more. He was working on writing prose, and I had discovered an innate talent for editing. I did an edit for him on a story and he really liked what I did. That was the start of working together.

Are there any specific scenes or narrative developments you want to include in this continuation of the 80’s comic?

We are looking at this as a continuation of the series. 30 years later, these 5 are still defending reality from threats. They have changed, but the dynamics amongst them are still pretty consistent. Zania and Argon are the “bad” pair, while Tanith and Savashtar are the “good” pair, leaving Doomidor in the middle as the balance between them.

The only thing I really pushed for was doing a cover based on the original issue 1. We are technically working on the fourth run of the series. The second run was a short mini series that did a new version of the issue one cover. The third run did not, but it deviated massively from the original concept. I am glad that we got to use a version of the original cover. Jeffrey Edwards did an amazing job on it, and on every page that will be between the covers.

The five main characters are extremely different and layered. What was the biggest challenge bringing them to life?

Anytime you have an ensemble cast it takes time to develop the individuals. It is much easier to write a story with Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman because you don’t need to establish who they are. You see the S, the Bat cowl, the lariat, and you instantly know who they are.

We have 5 main characters we are essentially introducing to readers. Along with a handful of new characters to the series. That takes time to develop. Being able to do a 60 page issue helps massively with the character development aspect.

Is it turning out the way you’ve envisioned it?

I am still pretty fresh in the comic world, so I am loving the process. Seeing thumbnails come in, then pencils, then inks, then colors. . . Seeing my words and scenes turned into comic pages is amazing. It is so much better than I envisioned it. I love it.

In these shaken times do you try to embed your work with some subliminal criticism or do you keep it detached from the outside world?

Oh, I am constantly putting Easter Eggs into things. Many of which go unnoticed. Cullen is always telling me not to worry about things like that because no one will notice. The secret is, I am putting them in for me. I am ok if no one else ever notices!

I am guessing though that your question is leaning more towards the current political and social climate in our country. And that is something I try and avoid. I don’t need to make enemies right now as I get started in writing. Many writers and artists are taking positions publicly about their support or lack of support for our current administration. I will leave that to them for now.

Anything you can tell us without giving out major spoilers?

We start out seeing the Warlock 5 fighting against an incursion into Grid City, but we will be showing them in their own worlds. And a portion of this first volume is going to take place on a new world in crisis. This will be creating a dilemma for them as they have to choose between helping an individual world or pulling back to Grid City and simply protecting the Grid. It goes towards the question of what are you protecting. It is all good standing guard over a forest and making sure it doesn’t succumb to a forest fire, but when you let a lumberjack in to cut down a tree. . . well, it sucks if you are that tree.

Thanks Jimmy for opening up about the future of Warlock 5! 

###

About WARLOCK 5 KICKSTARTER

Five guardians protect the multiverse against the chaos that lurks outside the boundaries of reality. There’s only one problem: they hate each other.

“The Grid.
 
A mystical nexus, a crossroads connecting all times, all realities. Along the ley lines of the Grid, the multiverse clusters. To move along the Grid is to move from one reality to the next. To harness the power of the Grid is to harness the awesome might of creation.Five touchstone realities exist at focal points along the Grid. From each of these realities, a Warlock is chosen to act as one of five Guardians.
 
Savasthar, a shapeshifting dragon-like being.
 
Doomidor, a warlord from the Dark Ages.Argon, an advanced cybernetic organism from a techno-hell.
 
Tanith, an ageless sorceress.
 
Zania, a power-mad, machine gun necromancer.
 
Together, the Warlocks protect the Grid, thereby protecting all of space and time. They are the last line of defense against the awful forces of chaos that lurk in the darkness outside the Grid.There’s only one problem.They hate each other.”
 
Originally created by Gordon Derry and Denis Beauvais, Warlock 5 was published by Barry Blair, a Canadian comic book publisher, artist and writer, known for launching Aircel Comics in the 1980s. A fierce advocate for innovation in the themes, genres, and types of illustrations, Blair helped to bring titles to life that broke the narrative and graphic boundaries at the time — including Warlock 5.
 
The new Warlock 5 Kickstarter funded this continuation of the Aircel Comics classic fantasy masterpiece. This 2017 reboot is written by CULLEN BUNN and JIMMY JOHNSTON, illustrated by JEFFREY EDWARDS with colors by ANDY POOLE, letters by ED DUKESHIRE, and designs by EDWARD LAVALLEE and SHAWN T. KING. This saga of rivalry, betrayal, magic, dragons, and killer robots is aiming for a 60-page full-color (hard cover) original graphic novel.

WARLOCK 5 IS COMING TO KICKSTARTER ON APRIL 26TH

WARLOCK 5 IS COMING TO KICKSTARTER ON APRIL 26TH

KANSAS, UNITED STATES (26th April, 2017) —

On the 26th April, Ragnarok Publications will launch a Kickstarter campaign for a reimagining of Warlock 5. Originally created by Gordon Derry & Denis Beauvais, Warlock 5 was published by Barry Blair, a Canadian comic book publisher, artist and writer, known for launching Aircel Comics in the 1980s. CULLEN BUNN and JIMMY Z JOHNSTON co-write this relaunched fantasy adventure while JEFFREY EDWARDS takes on the artwork with colors by ANDY POOLE.

The campaign seeks to fund the reinvention of this classic fantasy masterpiece, full of rivalry, betrayal, magic, dragons, and killer robots. The goal is to create a 60-page full-color original graphic novel with an entrancing action-packed narrative that will please both newcomers and fans of the early series.

This project is part of The Barry Blair Library, which provides a collection of approximately 300 issues and over 6000 pages of content collected from over a half-dozen publishers that Blair worked on through the 1980s and 90s. Prepare yourself to read works such as Blood N Guts“, “Demon Hunter“, “Dragonring“,  “Elflord” and Gun Fury” for the first time in digital format.

Cullen & Johnston keep the story faithful to Blair’s work, while Edwards illustrates the most exhilarating multiverse scenes, all brought to life by Poole’s colors.

The new Warlock 5 series is something every comic fan will want.

 

# # #

Ragnarok Publications, founded in 2013 by Joseph Martin and Tim Marquitz, publishes genre fiction and has released about 50 titles from dozens of authors. They specialize in genre fiction and can be reached at www.ragnarokpub.com. Outland Entertainment was founded as a creative services company in 2008 by Jeremy Mohler. Since then, Outland has worked for a wide variety of clients across the world. Outland specializes in assembling creative teams and managing projects. Contact them via their site form or go to www.outlandentertainment.com. For more information, contact Gwendolyn Nix at g.nix@ragnarokpub.com or Susana Grilo at s.grilo@ragnarokpub.com

Couture & High Fashion in Comics

Couture & High Fashion in Comics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

S.G.

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