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Marte Gracia

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Name: Marte Gracia

Website: Here or Here

Marte Gracia is one of the top colorists at Marvel, and we had the chance to sit down and talk a little bit about his career, his love for the medium and much more!

Perhaps this is a question you’ve been asked hundreds of times, but I’d love to ask anyway: Why do you love comic books?
What a nice question! When I was very young, on our way home from the kindergarten –which was within walking distance from our house – we used to pass in front of a newsstand, and my parents bought me any comic book available to keep me entertained, normally three times a week. Spider-Man was a regular, some Batman books, and a Mexican comic book called Karmatron, among many others. I have three older brothers, who loved comic books as well, and as I grew up, I discovered their books, so I read all kinds of comics: from younger reader’s appropriate comics to more “adult” stuff. By the time I was 10 years old, I was already reading Heavy Metal!

There was a breaking point in my life, in which I decided I wanted to make comics as a living. In the late ‘80s – early ‘90s?there was an anthology book in Mexico called Spider-Man Presents, a biweekly book featuring reprints of different American titles, such as Fantastic Four and Avengers, along with additional content like a letters’ page, articles, etc. One day, they started to print two or three pages per issue of the famous “How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way” by Lee and Buscema. I collected every issue, cut out the pages and made my own manual. That was the spark I needed.

How did you break into the world of comic books?
During the ‘90s there was a huge boom for comic books in Monterrey, Mexico – where I still live to this day – that inspired a lot of people to create their own comics. Take Cygnus Studios, for example, and many other fine folks, like Dono Sanchez, Francisco Ruiz Velasco and Edgar Delgado. I started hanging around in a small local publisher, called “Neurona C” along with some of those guys, and later I got a job in a marketing studio, doing commercial illustration. We did storyboards, text books… the works. At some point, the owner ended up owing me a lot of money, and she said: “What would you say if instead of money, I print a comic book for you?” And I said yes, and that way I self-published my first comic called Chuck, which in hindsight was not very good. (Laughs) It had a very dark sense of humor, in the vein of Johnny: The Homicidal Maniac, by Johnen Vazquez.

Once I finished college, around 2002, I started working with Studio F. They were already working for American publishers, I used to hang around with them, and that was when I got intrigued by the work of a colorist, and I decided there and then that that was my thing. I dedicated myself to learn Photoshop like crazy, until one day, Dono Sanchez emailed me saying they’ve got too much work from Marvel and they needed all the help they could get. They sent me four pages from four different artists and said “Well, rock and roll!” I painted all four pages and they liked them because – as I was told later – I tried to paint every page according to each artist’s style. That’s how I got to work with Studio F. One of my first assignments was helping Edgar Delgado coloring some pages for a Venom regular series (penciled by Francisco Herrera). I was not credited in that book, though, but I learned a lot from Edgar. He was my teacher and guide, he led me to the right places using nice and hard words when needed, I owe that guy a lot and I’ll always love him.

What was your first solo work as a colorist?
My first solo book was Hell published by Dark Horse Comics through an imprint called Rocket Comics. That’s curious. I think that’s my only professional work outside of Marvel.

My first Marvel book was Marvel Team-Up, with Robert Kirkman and Scott Collins. I had a lot of fun with that book, but now I look at those pages and I go “jeez!”. (Laughs) I remained in that book until #37. During that run I got the chance of working with people like Paco Medina and Juan Vlasco (RIP).

Which artists do you feel more comfortable to work with?
Aside from Stuart Immonen – one of my all-time favorites – I’m blessed for working with Pepe Larraz and R.B. Silva. It was a blast working with them in House of X / Powers of X. Pepe and I are working on X of Swords and I’m loving it. I also enjoyed coloring Joe Madureira in Inhumans, where we did some really cool visuals. And even though I’ve only done a couple of covers, I feel in awe when I color Ryan Ottley.

In your own words, what does a colorist do in terms of comic books?
That’s a beautiful question. You see, the goal of every cartoonist is to tell a story in the best possible way, without your work being noticed for getting in the way of the story. My job is very similar to that of a Director of Cinematography in movies. I need to tell a story using colors as a baton for feelings and emotions, trying to keep consistency between what’s going on in the page with the colors I choose. For example, If I paint a funeral, I will use colors suited for the mood of the scene, maybe muted or darker. But perhaps the most important thing is to guide the reader to the most important parts of both the panels and the page, by using color values, lights and shadows, to enhance what we want the reader to see. If you look at a page, filled with colors and textures and you don´t get lost, if you are immediately aware of who’s talking or doing something, if your eyes are drawn to where they need to be, then we can say both the artist and the colorist did a good job.

What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the comic industry?
Just one thing: please, don’t deprive the world of what you have inside your head. Make comics. Write if you are a writer. Draw if you are an artist. If you do inks or colors, keep it going. But please, don’t let the world miss on what you have to offer. Share your stuff with the world. There are more comics to make, more stories to tell, because this is the most beautiful thing in life.

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Trunk Bubbles

Eduardo Ancer

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Name: Eduardo Ancer

Website: Here or Here

How did you break into the world of comic books?
My first foray into comic books was an indie comic called La Tierra Que Cubre (The Land Over All) in 2004 that I created with some friends. The idea was to produce a miniseries, but we were kind of young, and we could only deliver the first issue. This book was penciled by a good friend of mine who goes by the nickname “Rampant” and it was colored by Dono Sanchez – colorist for Marvel comics – and Tato Caballero. It was a true labor of love, I had to sell my car in order to pay a top colorist and print it in full color. The book performed pretty well by the standards of the market at that time, but not enough to carry on.

Later on, I met Carlos Gutierrez, from Metacube – an animation studio – where I had the chance to land a full time job. Under the Metacube umbrella, René Cordova and I produced another book, a 4-issue miniseries called Republica de Lucha (“Lucha Republic”).

At Metacube I had the chance of meeting folks like Carlos Villa (currently working for Marvel) and Pablo Polanco – Aztlan´s penciller – while working on an animated film that was released a couple of years back, Dia de Muertos (Day of The Dead). Long story short, while we were discussing the many projects we had, that’s when the idea for Aztlan was born.

Please, tell us about the Aztlan project.
Technically, Aztlan is a sort of sequel in spirit to The Land Over All. The concept was developed between 2010-2013, and we knew Pablo Polanco was just the right guy to pencil it. In 2014, he started working on the first volume, which was released until 2017 at the FIL (International Book Fair) of Guadalajara. The book performed really well, and we started to work on volume two right away.

Since its inception, we knew Aztlan had to be developed as a comic book, but we didn’t want to publish it in floppies. We pushed for the format it was released: A European sized hardcover book, that we could even export to other markets. The first book had a small, but decent print run, and now it is sold out.

How would you describe what Aztlan is about?
Aztlan is a Mesoamerican fantasy, based on the Legend of the Five Suns of the Aztec Calendar. It is said that the world we live in is the Fifth Sun, or the fifth era if you will, and there was four Suns before that, and all of them were destroyed. Aztlan is the story of the Fourth Sun, and the heroes that tried to prevent its cataclysm. I think it is a beautiful story; what the heroes have to face and live through is something very human, and I think everyone, regardless of their culture, could relate to it, especially in this year, in which the end of the world is a constant thought in many people’s minds. Our heroes have to make a choice: do nothing, stay in their comfort zone, or try to do their best to save their world. That’s a very universal theme, something any person in the world could relate to.

The fact that the story is set in a different world allows the story to portrait lots of fantastical things and creatures, it doesn’t have to be historically accurate, right?
Yeah, we even have some megaterium running around, and some people told us “but the megaterium wasn’t alive during the time of the Aztecs”. And of course we are aware of it, and many other historical inaccuracies, but you have to keep in mind that this story is set in a different time and a different world, and above all, that it is a fantasy book. In a way, it is an essay to speculate what a world, in which Mesoamerican cultures thrived, could be like. A Mesoamerican world that went through a cultural, artistic and even technological revolution, unlike the Aztecs from the Fifth Sun, whose development was brutally halted by the Spanish Conquest.

The art looks gorgeous. What can you tell us about Pablo Polanco’s artwork?
We were really lucky to find him. If you’ve ever pictured and artist living in a studio, with the blinds down, painting on a canvas and not even owning a bed –because in Pablo’s words “it makes you feel too comfortable”- that’s Pablo. And the most amazing thing is that he had never, ever penciled a comic book in his life before Aztlan!!! In fact, when he started working on the book, he wasn´t too keen on drawing digitally, he needed to feel the pencil, the paper, the inks and colors, but two weeks after he touched a Cintiq for the first time, he just rocked those pages. He’s a monster in the very best sense of the word.

A funny thing is that he wanted to treat every panel as an individual painting. He draws in a large format and tends to add an insane amount of detail into every panel. We always told him “You don´t have to do it, we are going to scale it down and some parts will be covered with text bubbles. Those houses you spent two days working on? I’m going to put text over them!” But he just didn’t care. And now we are thankful he didn’t listen to us, because the level of detail he puts into every page is breathtaking. He told us he even drew an actual cellphone hidden somewhere in the art just for fun (laughs). I’m trying to convince him to draw a Starbucks cup for the readers to find, just like in that infamous scene in the last season of Game of Thrones. (Laughter)

Please tell us about the Kickstarter campaign for Aztlan Volume 2
This second volume will be released simultaneously with a reprint of the first volume with a new and revised edition that will be available in four languages: Spanish, English, French and even Nahuatl, the language the real Aztecs spoke and that many indigenous people still speak to this day. The Nahuatl edition will only have a limited print run of 500 copies, by the way. The second volume will be available only in Spanish and English, for now, due to print and delivery costs.

Now, the book is done, and we are taking care of every detail in order to have a top notch final product. That’s why we need all the help we can get through this Kickstarter campaign. There are many tiers with different rewards. If you want both books, we are offering a special package price, among other cool perks. And yes, we can deliver worldwide. If you´re anywhere in the US, be sure we are working on offering an affordable delivery option.

The Kickstarter campaign ends on September 20th, so you still have time – but don´t wait until the very end – to reserve your copy!

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Trunk Bubbles

Essential Comics: The All-New, All-Different X-Men Era

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ESSENTIAL COMICS:
THE ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT X-MEN ERA

Mutants. Children of the Atom. Feared and hated by the world they have sworn to protect. They are The X-Men!

Originally created almost 60 years ago by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the strangest superheroes of all have had a long and expanding career not only in comic books, but also in movies, TV and video games. Their popularity has been a roller coaster ride, going from zeroes to heroes, ebbing and flowing over time, on the brink of cancellation one day and expanding to multiple titles the next. The X-Men saga is so vast, full of fascinating characters and stories, that it might be impossible to build a single timeline for all of them. However, in today’s Trunk Bubbles feature, we will recommend an essential X-Men storyline you can find collected in a hefty volume under the title “Uncanny X-Men Volume 1”, or available online in the Marvel or Comixology apps

Although the story of the X-Men formally started in 1963 with the release of X-Men #1, you can ask any mutant’s aficionado and every single one of them will tell you the same thing: The Claremont- Byrne era is exactly what you need, if you´re looking for the essence of the X-Men.

After a few years of reprinting stories in the original X-Men tittle -while some characters’ stories developed somewhere else in the Marvel Universe- Len Wein and Dave Cockrum took one more shot at the concept of the X-Men in the oversized “Giant Size X-Men #1, revamping the title with a radically different and diverse cast, which included a Canadian super weapon (Wolverine), a Russian farm boy (Colossus), an African woman revered as a goddess (Storm), a circus freak that looked like a demon (Nightcrawler), a powerful native American (Thunderbird), an arrogant Japanese super hero (Sunfire), and a cocky Irish man (Banshee). The only familiar characters were field leader Cyclops and the X-Men founder, Professor Charles Xavier, who drafted these new characters for a mission: to find the original missing X-Men. And then, the world would never be the same again.

With the success of Giant Size X-men #1, Marvel resumed publication of the X-Men book, keeping the original numbering, but this time Chris Claremont was the man in charge of telling the stories of this new -and huge- iteration of the X-Men, first with artist Dave Cockrum, and later with John Byrne. During the first 40+ issues of this legendary run, we would witness the death of a newcomer to the team, the love triangle of Cyclops, Jean Grey and Wolverine, the troubles the new members faced while getting used to living in a new country, their battles with classic villains like Magneto and brand-new foes like Protheus, and the cosmic saga that introduced us to the Shi’ar Empire, the Starjammers and the new identity of X-Men founder Jean Grey as Phoenix.

Now, there are some things you should keep in mind when you read this long epic in one sitting: Comic books were very different 50 years ago. These stories are the foundation of what the X-Men became years later, thus, you might find some issues that doesn´t necessarily match with the rest of the bunch, due to the pressure of delivering 22 bimonthly- and then, monthly- pages of story. Although Claremont planned storylines months in advance, it was clear that some issues were more “stand alone” than others, filling the gap with a break from the ever-expanding action.

Additionally, these issues are loaded with text in the bubbles and captions. There was always an omniscient narrator providing information on two fronts: some text allowed the reader to pick into the mind and feelings of the characters, while other captions basically described the action you could already see in the page. This narrative style is frankly outdated for today’s standards, but again, you must be aware of the times and context in which those stories where crafted. The plus side of this narration tool is that you could have a lot of things happening in 22 pages, unlike modern narrative styles, in which, typically, stories are meant to be developed in a 5 or 6 issues arc, in order to be collected soon in a single volume. Yes, back in those days, collected reprints were very rare, and the idea was for the reader to pick up the next chapter each month.

As for the art, Cockrum left the book in issue #107, and John Byrne took over artist duties from #108 to #143. Cockrum and Byrne set the visual style of the X-Men for years to come, disregarding a single uniform for the whole team, and creating a unique identity for those characters, color coding them to be easily recognizable in each shot.

Have you ever read these stories? Or do you want to enjoy them for the first time? Drop us a line in any of our social media outlets and let your voice be heard.

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Trunk Bubbles

Top Five Supermen… Who Are Not Clark Kent

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TOP FIVE SUPERMEN… WHO ARE NOT CLARK KENT

About a week ago, the world was taken by storm with the online event of the summer: The DC Fandome, a celebration of all things DC… well ALMOST all things DC, since a certain blue and red superhero was not exactly in the spotlight during the 8+ hours of the event. Sure, the iconic Superman theme by John Williams was used in the welcome video for anyone entering the Hall of Heroes, and the Big Boy Scout appeared here and there during the panels, but nothing else. Yeap, no news about an upcoming Superman movie or a panel about the importance of the very first superhero in history.

So, for this week’s special feature, we decided to pay homage to the Man of Steel in the same way: By remembering some of the most powerful, weirdest, and sometimes, evil supermen… but without Clark Kent. Let’s take a look!

 

5. SUNSTAR

This is one of the most recent additions to the extended family of Superman analogs. Created by Mark Russell and Richard Pace as part of the starring duo of his Second Coming book, published by Ahoy Comics, Sunstar is his world´s greatest superhero, possessing powers that make him look like a god in the eyes of everyone else, including, well… God himself. However, unlike Clark Kent, Sunstar is far from perfect, but quick to resort to action, which is exactly what God was looking for in order to teach his son, Jesus, how a true god should behave in modern times.

Sunstar is then paired with Jesus Christ to patrol the streets and show him the ropes, while dealing with very human issues, like the ordeal of adopting a baby with his girlfriend, since his alien biology won’t allow him and his “Lois Lane” to have a baby of their own.

4. SAMARITAN

Based in Astro City, Asa Martin protects the world as the greatest superhero of all time: The Samaritan, the most powerful member of the Honor Guard. Created by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson for the Astro City series of miniseries and ongoing titles, Samaritan is not exactly a super powerful alien, but a time traveler from the 35th century, a time in which humanity was at the brink of extinction and decide that the only way to fix their present was sending someone back in time to take care of things. Asa was chosen, and upon his arrival in the 20th century, he discovered that now he possessed superhuman abilities, like flying, super strength, energy projection and even dimensional travel.

The very first Astro City story is a beautiful exploration of what it means to be a Superman, the insane amount of work it involves, the loneliness that comes with the responsibility of saving the world, and, paradoxically, the need of being alone for the simple joy of flying. Also, long before DC Comics dedicated an ongoing title to explore what a romantic relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman would be, Busiek and Anderson answered that question through Winged Victory (Astro City’s Wonder Woman analog) and Samaritan in a single issue.

3. OMNIMAN

For years, Nolan Grayson protected the world under the guise of Omniman, the most powerful member of the Guardians of the Globe. Despite his alien origin as a viltrumite, he was able to marry an earth woman, Debbie, and together they conceived their only child, Mark. Once Mark was old enough to understand the truth about his father, Nolan told him about his alien heritage and that, maybe, someday he could develop powers as well. The day came sooner that Nolan expected, as Mark got into puberty, and that was the day the world would change forever. That was the day Invincible was born.

Robert Kirkman and Corey Walker created Omniman as an obvious Superman knock-off, and during the first few issues of Invincible readers believed that it was a “passing of the torch” type of story, since Omniman dedicated much of his time training Mark in the use of his newfound powers. But everything changed when the Guardians of the Globe were murdered one by one by a mysterious and powerful foe, which turned out to be their friend and longtime ally: Omniman himself!

Then, Omniman revealed the real truth to his son and the readers: the viltrumite race was not a race of protectors but conquerors, and unlike Superman, he was sent to Earth to take over our world in the name of the Viltrumite Empire. Devastated by this shocking revelation, Mark fights his father, but is easily overpowered by a stronger and more seasoned viltrumite warrior. However, when Nolan was about to deliver the finishing blow, some powerful words from the mouth of his son make him change his mind and abandon our planet, leaving a confused and ravaged Mark to ponder if his father ever really loved him.

2. MIRACLEMAN

We are kind of cheating with this one, since Mike Moran is more an analog of another powerful superhero – the World’s Mightiest Mortal formerly known as Captain Marvel – than one of Superman’s, but since the Big Red Cheese himself was in fact a Superman knock off to begin with, we decided to stretch the concept a little bit as well.

Long story short: Captain Marvel was becoming even more popular than Superman back in the day, a fact that started a legal battle that ended up with Fawcet Comics cancelling every Captain Marvel title in the market. The cancellation had a profound impact overseas, particularly in the UK where Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family reprints were some of the top selling titles in the British market. In order to keep sales afloat, the L. Miller & Son publishing company, responsible of said reprints of the Marvel Family books in the UK, commissioned writer/artist Mick Anglo to create a similar superhero and continue the stories as if nothing happened, but under a new name for the character and his extended family: Marvelman, and the Marvelman Family (Kid Marvelman, Young Marvelman, etc.). This stunt lasted almost 10 years, until interest on Marvelman dwindled and all titles were cancelled.

Cue to 1982, when a young Alan Moore revamped the series in the anthology magazine Warrior, picking up the story “in real time” from the date it was originally cancelled. Moore’s vision for the character included a deconstruction of the superhero as a modern myth, riffing on the most ridiculous and whimsical tropes of the genre, like magic words that instead of simply transforming a young man into a grown-up superhero, were then revamped as trigger words for a complicated science fiction, nuclear powered, multidimensional process to grant main character Mick Moran with the powers of a god but the mind of a flawed, but well-intended man. The series was republished in the US by Epic Comics under the name Miracleman in an effort to avoid legal claims from the House of Ideas. Ironically, years and lots of legal battles later, the rights of Miracleman ended up with the very company that pushed Epic to change the name of both the character and title for the US market: Marvel Comics.

1. SUPREME

This is yet another shot at revamping the myth of Superman by Alan Moore, who took over writing duties of this Superman knock off created by Rob Liefield during the most extreme (pun intended) era of superhero comic books with issue #41 of the original series. Under the creative choices of Liefield, Supreme was a very mean, violent and self-righteous version of Superman, but with white hair and a white suit, who even quoted the Bible to justify his actions (make whatever you want out of this).

Moore accepted Liefields’ offer on the condition of having creative freedom to write whatever he wanted, since he considered the title was “not very good”. The result is, perhaps, a collection of some of the best Superman stories without Superman. Since Supreme was not a part of a multimillion dollar franchise, Moore had free reign to craft stories that included a conclave of Supremes from different corners of the multiverse, revisionist continuity to explain the radical change of the book’s tone, science fiction and magical elements that really affected the story’s status quo, commentary on storytelling as a whole and even a heartfelt homage to the King of Comics, Jack Kirby.

Whereas in Miracleman Alan Moore deconstructed the Superman, in Supreme he reconstructed the myth of the Man of Steel and proved that it is possible to tell great stories with the greatest superhero of all.

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Trunk Bubbles

Allan Otero

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Name: Allan Otero

Website: Here or Here

1. Favorite character growing up:
There were actually quite a lot. In animation, I can name adventurers such as Flash Gordon, Thundar the Barbarian or Tarzan. In comics, I liked The Fantastic Four very much, particularly for Kirby’s artwork. At that time, I didn’t pay too much attention to the name of the artists; I only enjoyed good art as I still do today. But my favorite was always Spider-Man.

2. Favorite character now:
The first one that comes to mind is definitely Batman. The problem is that I enjoyed so much the comic books from the ‘80s and 90s (and earlier) that I still miss that flavor. Claremont and Byrne´s X-Men and in general everything done by the latter mentioned artist, made me feel something that I haven’t felt ever again.

3. Your most recent work:
Conspiracy Vol. 2: Area 51, Abductions and all related stuff. As an X-Files fan, I’m tremendously enjoying illustrating this 5-issue mini-series.

4. How would you describe your style?
I could’t tell. I can’t say my artwork qualifies as “realistic” but I do try to respect the correct anatomy as much as possible to the best of my abilities. And I try to pay attention to backgrounds – I think that’s an aspect commonly overlooked in most current books (with some notable exceptions).

5. Is there any particular artist that has inspired you throughout your career?
There’s a line, that in my mind and personal taste, I can trace back to the incomparable Jack Kirby, followed by John Buscema, John Romita, Jim Aparo, Neal Adams, George Perez, Alan Davis… up until John Byrne. I’ve enjoyed his art very much, as I mentioned before, thanks in part to how old I was when I discovered him. All of them have inspired me, which doesn’t mean that my art is in any way as good as theirs.

6. How did you break out in the comic book industry?
Arcana Studio (a Canadian publisher) gave me my first opportunity working on their flagship title: Kade. Later, in the U.S., Zenescope Entertainment opened its doors to me and since that day, I’ve enjoyed and loved all their characters and stories that have come into my hands. I feel at home.

7. Is there any character from any comic book universe that you like to draw while sketching for warm ups?
Spider-Man is the first that comes to mind when I start sketching.

8. Are there any characters or titles you’d like to work on in the future?
Batman and Spider-Man are my favorites, but I think a character like Silver Surfer would be great to illustrate because of the infinite possibilities of worlds to explore.

9. What would you say is your greatest strength as an artist?
Besides procrastinating? The care and attention I put into my finished pages… I tend to be so meticulous that I often spend more time than I should on a single page (in terms of deadlines).

10. What Zenescope title have you enjoyed working the most with?
Satan’s Hollow, a horror story, with supernatural elements and characters. Those themes fascinate me and, since it is a title marketed for mature readers, I felt a lot of freedom when drawing. In general, Zenescope comics are very enjoyable to illustrate.

11. Can you tell us something about your next comic book projects?
I’m still working on the Conspiracy mini-series and after that, only Zenescope will tell.

Every project I’ve ever worked on, aside from being a challenge, has also been really exciting… that’s something of utmost importance to me, because I tend to get bored when a concept or story doesn’t catch my attention and with Zenescope that has never happened.

12. What piece of advice would you give to young aspiring artists out there who are considering to make a career in the comic book industry?
Besides the usual stuff (anatomy, perspective, etc,), to actually enjoy the ride. Make comics/art that you like to read/see yourself. Never stop learning… don’t assume you already know everything. And be grateful if you do what you love to do.

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Trunk Bubbles

Niko Walter

NikeWalterFeatured

Name: Niko Walter

Website: Twitter

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: Spider-Man

Favorite Comic Book Character Now: Hellboy

Latest Work: (Title/Publisher/Release Date) Gasolina/Skybound/Monthly

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
Walter: Heavy. Lots of shadow. Fairly stiff. Male. Somber. Straightforward.

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for drawing?
Walter: I had the great fortune growing up that my parents were protective of what they let into our home. Computers, internet, video games, television and movies came late in life, relative not just to kids today but to most of my peers at the time. As a result, when I got my first issue of Ditko/Lee Spider-Man as a child, it was the most visually exciting thing I’d seen outside Disney animation, only it wasn’t weighed down with lame musical numbers or boring romance. It was great. I read that book until it fell to tatters and then got some more. Drawing came later when I met my buddy Andy in middle school. He was a doodler. Always scribbling in class on the back of tests, notebooks and the like. He was a comics guy too. One afternoon, bored, we got out some “Spawn” trades and tried our best to copy the splash pages. Great memory. There are a hundred small moments like it that pushed me towards comics but that was the moment I realized I enjoyed drawing.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Walter: I went through phases. As a kid it was the character that counted. Spider-Man loomed large. Approaching my teen years the artist started to become priority. I was big on Todd McFarlane and by extension Greg Capullo. Some Jim Lee and the Kubert brothers mixed in as well. In high school I was looking for concept so I was going through guys like Frank Miller, Warren Ellis and Alan Moore. When the “Hellboy” movie was coming out I came across Mike Mignola for the first time – promo poster or something – just a profile of Hellboy’s face. Blew away everything I had seen up to that point. Still my favorite artist. I don’t much talk about comics anymore and it’s rare I think back on reading them as a kid but it certainly strikes me at this moment just how much I enjoyed those comics growing up

TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career in comics? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Walter: Mostly it was just years of grinding away to get to that point where you look down at something you’ve drawn and it isn’t the worst thing you’ve ever seen. Once I got to that point I wanted to find out what other people thought about it. I figured tried and true: take a portfolio to conventions and talk to editors. It worked. There were some premature efforts before that. I mailed in some samples and pitches. Went nowhere. Had a few writers contact me online and did some work with them that resulted in the same thing – though much of that was on me.

TrunkSpace: What was your biggest break in terms of a job that opened more doors for you?
Walter: I went to a convention and showed my portfolio to Sean Mackiewicz. He saw some potential there and shortly after offered me a job. That first job was raw but he stuck by me and after offered me more work. I’m grateful to him for that.

TrunkSpace: A lot of people say that breaking into comics is the hardest part of working in comics. How long did it take you before you started to see your comic book dreams become a reality?
Walter: I decided to draw comics when I was a senior in high school. Got my first real gig at 27. Almost 10 years. Now that I’ve gotten in, the dream has shifted. Now I’m dreaming of doing it well. Could take a lifetime.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular character or universe you always find yourself returning to when you’re sketching or doing warm-ups?
Walter: I vacillate between characters I enjoy drawing and drawing things I suck at and look to improve. Former is mostly characters I know and grew up on and the latter is everything else, but especially women.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Walter: Could be but I’ve got an issue here. Take the Punisher. Great character. Skulls, guns and an opportunity to drape everything in shadows. Great stuff. Would fit with what I would like to do if I could do what I imagined. Trouble is, Parlov has drawn Punisher. And Zaffino for that matter. For me it’s best to avoid hoping for a specific existing title and if I get something, try to do it better than the last thing I did.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your career in comics? Where would you like your path to lead?
Walter: I’ve got an idea for a book of my own. I’ve got a character, the world that surrounds him and the makings of a plot. Filled with things I like and like drawing and very little of what I don’t. That’s the ticket. One of these days I’ll strike out and give it a shot. Other than that, if something comes my way, chances are I’m game.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength as an artist?
Walter: Comic art appealed to me in part because it so often lacks mystery. It’s simple, it pops and everyone can understand it. It’s attainable. I can look at a Caravaggio or Bernini all day long but I can’t make heads or tails of it. I mean how it was accomplished. I know that there were brushes and paint or stone and chisel but the rest might as well be a miracle. With a lot of comics, it’s lines on paper. I can see how it was made… even as a kid. I doubt anyone will be lining up in 400 years to look, awestruck and humbled, at pages from “ROM Spaceknight,” but there were thousands of kids who, for 30 minutes a month, looked wide eyed at that chrome robot and stepped outside their lives. Not bad. Of course, many of those kids are now adults who worship mans mastery of science and have forgotten all about mystery and miracles. Not sure how that balances out.

TrunkSpace: How has technology changed your process of putting ideas/script to page? Do you use the classic paper/pencil approach at all anymore?
Walter: I’m almost always working in Photoshop. Been attempting to get back to doing traditional ink on paper but I have gotten so accustomed to working digitally that it’s rough going. I know how to get the results I want digitally but can’t seem to get the same lines out of a brush. From the other side, it makes no nevermind to me at all. So long as I like the result I don’t care how the artist did it or by what method.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the comic industry?
Walter: Difficult question. Things are moving pretty fast lately but I’ll say this – people today have a great desire for entertainment. If you stick with it and commit you might make it. Be practical. Think about pay, benefits, how much (and for how long) you will have to put in to get something out. Be aware of where you stack up. Plenty of people out there with a dream incapable of seeing their work objectively, people who may avoid heartbreak with honesty. Consider your motives and excise rationalizations if possible. Other than that, keep at it and good luck.

TrunkSpace: Making appearances at conventions: Love it, leave it, or a combination of both?
Walter: I’ve yet to do it. I may attend one to see what it’s like from the other side of the table but I went to a few conventions when I was looking to break in and I found it in no way to my liking.

TrunkSpace: What is the craziest/oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to draw as a commission?
Walter: Nothing yet. So far, fairly straightforward commissions.

TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to in 2019?
Walter: “Gasolina” will still be coming out. I’ll post sketches regularly. If I have the time I might try my hand at something of my own. Other than that, it’s up in the air.

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Zombees

Zombees #1

Zombees_issue_01_Featured

In any given hive, 20,000 to 60,000 bees swarm, going about their daily lives. In this particular hive, there are just as many bees, but the difference is, none of them are alive! ZOMBEES follows the daily antics of a group of undead bees and the hilarious (and gory) comedy that ensues.

RETURN TO THE HIVE NEXT WEEK FOR MORE FROM ZOMBEES!

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Trunk Bubbles

Brett Parson

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Name: Brett Parson

Website: Blitzcadet.deviantart.com

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: Simon Bisley’s Lobo

Favorite Comic Book Character Now: Barney from “Tank Girl”

Latest Work: “World War Tank Girl” published by Titan Comics.

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
Parson: I guess my style is a mix of Cartoon/Animation and old school comics. There’s a little bit of everything I grew up loving… from “He-Man” or Don Bluth to Ren & Stimpy and Jack Davis. And a little dash of a retro 70s vibe in there somewhere.

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for drawing?
Parson: They were definitely one of the biggest parts of my life as a young artist. I think I always wanted to be a cartoonist. My mom used to staple little blank books together for me when I was little, and I’d fill them in with stories… usually Ninja Turtles, Indiana Jones or Ghostbusters. Later, when I discovered underground stuff like R. Crumb, “Tank Girl,” “Love and Rockets,” “Judge Dredd,” and “The Maxx,” I saw that comics didn’t need to have DC or Marvel style art/stories and didn’t need to play it safe for kids. That became what I really wanted to do.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Parson: I was pretty obsessed with Simon Bisley as a kid in middle school. Kevin Eastman used to own a comic book museum near where I live, and I would go there all the time and just study the originals. Bisley, Richard Corben, Frank Miller, Jaimie Hewlett, all kinds of killer artist’s stuff came through there. Looking back I was REALLY lucky to have that place so close. Then in high school when I stumbled on “Danger Girl” by J. Scott Campbell, that really melted my brain!

TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career in comics? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Parson: I spent close to a decade after I graduated just working a day job and doing freelance illustration on the side, self-publishing my own books when I could. I’d basically given up on the idea of “breaking into” the comics industry. Marvel wasn’t accepting portfolios, and I didn’t even know if the big guys would go for my style. My plan was to develop something creator-owned and pitch it around, or do a Kickstarter.

TrunkSpace: What was your biggest break in terms of a job that opened more doors for you?
Parson: A few years ago Alan Martin, the co-creator of “Tank Girl,” came across some of my stuff online. He contacted me about possibly working together on some “Tank Girl” comics, and we’ve basically been working together since. It was really Alan taking a chance and giving me a shot that led to my career in comics.

TrunkSpace: A lot of people say that breaking into comics is the hardest part of working in comics. How long did it take you before you started to see your comic book dreams become a reality?
Parson: Yeah, people always talk about how impossible it is to get into the business, so I really didn’t think too hard about it. I just kept doing my thing, trying to have fun. I started posting all my stuff online… I figured if I was good enough something would eventually come along. I really wasn’t shopping a portfolio around at all, so if it wasn’t for social networking outlets like Instagram, Facebook, and DeviantArt, I doubt that I’d be drawing comics professionally today.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular character or universe you always find yourself returning to when you’re sketching or doing warm-ups?
Parson: Not really. I’ve always been more into making stuff up and drawing from my imagination. I used to draw ugly, weird-looking Batman faces to warm up, but usually I just doodle random stuff to try to get things going.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Parson: Tank Girl has been pretty amazing. It’s been one of my all time favorite books since I was a kid, so getting to work on this title has been like a dream come true. Other than that, I’d love to get a chance to do an old school Lobo book, or maybe Ghost Rider. I feel like those characters and worlds would be a blast to draw.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your career in comics? Where would you like your path to lead?
Parson: At the moment I’m just happy to be doing what I love for a living. If I can keep drawing comics for years to come, and make ends meet… then I’m pretty happy. I get to be home with my daughter, listening to music, and drawing cool stuff!


TrunkSpace
: What would you say is the greatest strength as an artist?
Parson: Not being afraid to have fun, and be yourself.

TrunkSpace: How has technology changed your process of putting ideas/script to page? Do you sue the classic paper/pencil approach at all anymore?
Parson: For a long time I’ve been going probably 95 percent digital. The control and speed it allows has been my best friend when it comes to doing a good job while trying to meet tight deadlines. But I’ve been getting back into doing things traditionally more and more. This series I’m working on now – I’m only using the Cintiq for rough-layouts and coloring. I’m doing all the finished pages with pencil and ink. Nothing really compares to that feeling of a soft pencil on paper. It’s one of the best things in the world.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the comic industry?
Parson: I guess the main thing is, be sure that you LOVE drawing comics. You won’t get rich, so if that’s what you’re looking for go into animation or illustration. And be patient, don’t expect things to always go your way or fall into place immediately… it takes lots of patience and persistence. Messing up. Falling on your face. You really just have to love it.

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Trunk Bubbles

Ed Luce

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Name: Ed Luce

Website: www.wuvableoaf.com

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: Wow…this is a hard one! Difficult to narrow it down. I think I’ll go with Wolverine, as drawn by John Byrne in Uncanny X-Men. He was very… textural… in his rendering. Lots of hair, which was very influential on my own drawing.

Favorite Comic Book Character NowAgh! How do I pick one?! At the moment, I’ll say Jim Rugg’s Street Angel. It’s a series of mini comics about a 12 year old girl who is “a dangerous martial artist… and the world’s greatest homeless skateboarder.” Image Comics has been releasing deluxe hardcover editions of her recent adventures and they are beautiful.

Latest Work: Wuvable Oaf: Blood & Metal from Fantagraphics, released just this past winter. And I just self-published Wuvable Oaf #5, which continues the story from the first Oaf Fantagraphics collection.

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
Luce: I’ve been very influenced by 19th century illustrator Aubrey Beardsley, the Hernandez Brothers and Erik Larsen…so I’d say a combination of all those guys!

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for drawing?
Luce: My folks were largely responsible for my love of drawing. They put a pencil in my hand as soon as I could hold it and kept it there throughout my formative years. Comics entered the picture in a more serious way around puberty. At that age it wasn’t cool to buy toys anymore, so I switched to comics rather than becoming interested in girls. They were there to entertain me as I was figuring out my sexuality.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Luce: Certainly the Chris Claremont/John Byrne Uncanny X-men years. There was so much character diversity in that title and the art was some of Byrne’s best. Those stories got me to love and appreciate continuity, long form storytelling and character arcs.

TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career in comics? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Luce: I really fell ass backwards into comics. I’d moved to San Francisco and suddenly didn’t have a lot of space to make art (I was a fine arts painter at the time). After a few months of living there, I’d met several cartoonists and decided to pursue that medium because I could work small, on a desk top. My paintings had become increasingly cartoony anyway, so making a comic based on one of my art pieces made sense to me.

Beyond that, I always had a multimedia approach to crafting an expanded comics world. Early on, I released shirts, records, scratch & sniff cards… even figures (with the help of Phoenix-based sculptor Erik Erspamer), all spinning out of the main Wuvable Oaf book. This helped demonstrate I had a vision and brand, which definitely attracted the attention of publishers. To this day I think that approach led me to working with Fantagraphics.

TrunkSpace: What was your biggest break in terms of a job that opened more doors for you?
Luce: Releasing the first Oaf collection with Fantagraphics opened the most doors. That book got me illustrating for VICE, Slate, Grant Morrison’s Heavy Metal, a slew of variant covers for Image and Oni Press. Currently I’m in talks to sell the TV rights for Wuvable Oaf. I can directly trace all that back to the Fantagraphics debut.

TrunkSpace: A lot of people say that breaking into comics is the hardest part of working in comics. How long did it take you before you started to see your comic book dreams become a reality?
Luce: I’d been releasing comics for about six years before signing the first book contract with Fantagraphics. Touring hard and publishing several books a year, along with producing the aforementioned merch, was a big part of my business plan during that period. I feel like I paid my dues, even though I was a latecomer to the genre.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular character or universe you always find yourself returning to when you’re sketching or doing warm-ups?
Luce: I rarely sketch or warm up. It takes me a long time to draw, so I usually jump right into work!

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Luce: I’m very committed to working exclusively on Wuvable Oaf for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to do some variant covers or short stories. I tend to have very weird tastes in mainstream comics. Puck (from Marvel’s Alpha Flight) and Flex Mentallo (from DC’s Doom Patrol) are my two favorite superheroes, but I doubt either will be getting their own series any time soon. Maybe that would be the main reason to work on them?!

Image’s new series Shirtless Bear-Fighter would certainly be fun to take on, too.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your career in comics? Where would you like your path to lead?
Luce: Nothing has been finalized on the development side, but if it does and Wuvable Oaf is brought to animated series, that would be the ultimate path. If it’s successful, I could keep releasing comics well into old age, which would be a charmed existence, for sure.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength as an artist?
Luce: I feel like I have a good character design sensibility. It’s always my goal to make memorable, diverse-looking characters. It’s my favorite phase of creation, even if it can be the most challenging.

TrunkSpace: How has technology changed your process of putting ideas/script to page? Do you use the classic paper/pencil approach at all anymore?
Luce: I shifted to a Cintq screen a few years back, to get faster with color. But in the last year, I’ve gone back to paper, coloring it in Photoshop after scanning. I can’t say I have a preference for either process, usually it has more to do with my deadlines than anything.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the comic industry?
Luce: Remember that the world owes you absolutely nothing. You have to work hard, even if you think you’re the most amazing artist around. Don’t fall into a trap of entitlement or narcissism. Be nice to everyone around you, because it’s a very small comics world out there. Getting a publisher won’t solve all your problems… it’ll just create new ones (but definitely still get a publisher, with a good PR person). Don’t read the comments section.

TrunkSpace: Making appearances at conventions: Love it, leave it, or a combination of both?
Luce: I do enjoy conventions quite a bit! I spend so much time alone in a room drawing, it’s often the only interaction I get with the audience and other creators. Internet interaction isn’t particularly satisfying for me, I prefer to see and actually talk with people. Some shows are definitely easier than others (San Diego Comic-Con is the highest level of difficulty) but ultimately all the stress and exhaustion gets washed away after you hit the floor and chatting. Conventions recharge my creative batteries and remind me why I do what I do.

TrunkSpace: What is the craziest/oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to draw as a commission?
Luce: I’m not a big commissions guy, mostly because mainstream characters and portraits are outside my wheelhouse. I did draw Yoda once, in bikini underwear, for Mike Baehr. That might be the oddest…

TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to for the rest of 2017 and into the new year?
Luce: My next show is the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MD, September16-17. All the stuff I’ve been working on for that last few months will be available there, including my variant covers for GI Joe, Redneck and Deadly Class, a story I did for the Judas Priest tribute comic Metal Gods, as well as an uncensored, self-published version of the comic I did for Heavy Metal. Most of that will be available on my site too, wuvableoaf.com.

My new Fantagraphics book, which will focus on the pro wrestling aspects of the Wuvable Oaf comic, will be coming out in summer of 2018. So I’ll be laying pretty low for the rest of the year, trying to get that done!

Feature Image By: Christopher Ferreria

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Imprinted

Imprinted #2

Imprinted_issue_02_Featured

IMPRINTED
ISSUE 2

You’ve read the stories of near death experiences…

Reunions with lost loved ones. Blinding white light. The sensation of the human soul being rocketed back into the body.

These all-too-familiar first person accounts have been told for as long as people have discussed the possibility of an afterlife. But are they legitimate?

Imprinted tells the story of Lillian, a young reverse reaper closed off from humanity, whose entire purpose is to guide those souls not yet destined for the other side back into their bodies. When the balance between life and death is disturbed, Lillian is forced to carry the weight of the entire world on her shoulders and protect every living soul on the planet or else sit by and watch as all of humanity dies.

 

COME BACK SOON FOR MORE OF IMPRINTED!

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