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Title Unrelated Webcomic Interview

Creator G. Pike takes the hotseat to talk about their queer fantasy/adventure comic Title Unrelated.

What’s your webcomic: Title Unrelated about?

Title Unrelated is about a family of queer characters who travel to a parallel world to search for their missing sister. In this other world, known to locals as Ambaia, they befriend two teens with psychic abilities and small band of political rebels. Along the way they begin to realize that the history of their family is actually linked to the history of Ambaia.

One feature of the story that bears mentioning is that Ambaian culture does not have binary gender roles.

Does Ambaian culture perceive gender differently? What noticeable differences are there in the ways people are treated?

I would say yes, they perceive it differently. If they could be said to have a concept of gender (as opposed to sex) it’s manifested more as an aspect of personality.

It’s considered very impolite to ask about someone’s biological sex. If anything, Ambaians could probably be considered “Cis-Nonbinary”, as what beauty/appearance standards there are tend to favor androgyny. In fact, physical sex is not seen as binary either, but more of a spectrum of individual variation. Since there’s no cultural mandate to “be fruitful and multiply” (birth control methods also exist), there’s less focus on reproductive function of individuals. They really don’t have any specific roles that are based solely on sex (the exception being jobs like pregnancy surrogates, who are, by necessity, biologically female).

Children are raised together without much differentiation. Baths and restrooms are unisex. What we would call “same-sex” relationships (and marriages) are extremely common. Plural and asexual partnerships are also accepted – in fact, it’s considered ideal for young children to have at least three “parents” of any combination of sexes. There are transsexual people in Ambaia, as aligning the body with one’s mental and spiritual needs is seen as a natural part of all-around health.

What psychic abilities do the characters possess? Is it considered commonplace to have them or are they considered special?

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Moonstone Books Interview

Tim Lasiuta takes the hot seat to talk about Moonstone Books, a successful Small Press publishing company.

Epic Fail: Who are you and what is Moonstone Books?

TIM: My name is Tim Lasiuta, and I work with Joe Gentile, Publisher and all around good guy of Moonstone Books. We have been around since the early 90’s and in that time, have been privileged to publish the Phantom, Kolchak, and Buckaroo Banzai in comic book form. We publish anthologies and some of our favorites include Zorro, the Spider, the Green Hornet, Honey West, the Lone Ranger, Kolchak, the Avenger, Sherlock Holmes, and many other horror projects. We are based in Calumet City, Illinois but our tendrils extend throughout pulp and comic-dom.

To paraphrase the website blurb : “We publish fine & distinct Comic Books, Graphic Novels, and Prose… books that are meant to be read.

Classic & New Heroes in thrilling tales of adventure, mystery, & horror!

Comics and Illustrated fiction from the Dark Side to the light…”

Epic Fail: What’s Moonstone Books’ origin story?

TIM: Moonstone Books rose from the ashes of a Chicago publishing company that never got off the ground. When that company disappeared, we just had so many finished projects with no homes, we didn’t know what to do. After much ado, Dave Ulanksi, Rafael Nieves, and Joe Gentile decided they would go it on our own! Since that time, every project has been a labour of love.

Epic Fail: Is Moonstone Books more of a ‘Hands On’ or ‘Hands Off’ Publisher? Do you have a lot of control over projects or are creators allowed a free-reign?

TIM: Moonstone Books operates with a ‘sand box’ mentality. For anthologies we have invited authors to ‘play’ with our licensed properties. We do provide character bibles, and frequently, writers do use them. When it comes to our creator owned properties, we let ’em go. The Ranger book is an example of how many views of the Masked Man and supporting characters writers had. The resulting book is outstanding from a variety of narrative viewpoints, and themes.

Epic Fail: Describe the typical process of bringing a new book to press.

TIM: Book production is a very defined process, whether it’s DC, Tor-Forge, or Archie, the only differences are how quickly books see the light of day, and what kind of resources the publishers have. In our case, we will use the Captain Midnight Book as an example. We decided to do an anthology, and compiled a list of authors who might be interested in contributing to the book. As Captain Midnight was Public Domain, we did not have to worry about contracts, but with the Honey West book (forthcoming), we had to negotiate a contract. With the Green Hornet, it took around a year to get the contract, and 1 year to do the book. While doing so, we produced a rough character bible, and once potential authors accepted our conditions, sent it out to them. The scribes sent in a rough story plot, and we said nay or yea. If yea, than we gave them a deadline to produce their Midnight Masterpiece. Once the editor, Win-Scott Eckert, received the tales, he edited them and they were re-read and compiled. In the case of this book, we had interior art done which matched the stories and had 2 covers done for the book. The book was designed by the Simian Brothers, and once the stories were formatted and readied for pre-press, another edit was done. Around this time, we solicited the book through Diamond, and it was sent to press. Time from start to finish, was probably a year.

For our comic book properties, the process is slightly different. As an example, if we are going to do a Kolchak story, we approach our Kolchak writer, and get a plot synopsis. After the editor approves it, the writer fleshes it out into a full comic book script (DC method-frame by frame, balloon by balloon). Again, the story is edited, and green lit. The art is done by our assigned artist, pencil/inking. Lettering. Coloring. Digital creation of file. Solicitation by Diamond Distributors, and then publishing.. Of course, we accept the Eisner for both anthology and comic book story….

Epic Fail: What qualities do you look for in writers?

TIM: Grey hair. A revolver in their computer desk. A slouch hat on their hat rack. Cape. Mask optional….As publishers of pulp related materials, licensed properties, and anthologies, we primarily look for writers with great imagination, great writing and editing skills, and enthusiasm, writers who have long dreamt of writing their Spider, Honey West, or Avenger opus. Over many years of publishing anthologies, we have developed a wide and talented pool of writers from legendary scribes like Denny O’Neil, Steve Englehart, Johnny Boggs, Devin Grayson, and newbies who have so much talent it oozes out. Our writers are professionals primarily, or very talented semi-pros who can take a germ of an idea and turn it into a great read. With our licensed characters, following our character bibles is important, but if we can err on the side of dramatic effect without changing the character, we allow that. Unlike another company, we pride ourselves in re-presenting characters the way your fathers remembered them, with slight changes to make them appealing to modern readers.

Epic Fail: What is your stance on the Print versus Digital media argument?

TIM: As publishers, we have entered the digital world with Comixology, Kindle, and eBooks. I think that if we are serious about reaching readers with our products, then we have to be serious about meeting readers where they are. If we are going to NY Comic Con and see fans reading the Spider on their IPad, great. If we see someone fingering a well worn copy of the Phanton Chronicles, that is great too. We love print, and most of our contributors probably have bookshelves overflowing with pulp, art-of, and biographies of comic legends, but as our audience changes, so must we. Recently, we released a couple of books digital first, then have gone to print, and it has been successful. We have also entered the audio novel realm as well, with narrated adventures of some of our favourite books. Digital? Print? As long as readers pick up their favourite books and read until they go blind, we are just happy.

Epic Fail: What do you think it takes for a publishing company to survive in ‘the new’ publishing industry?

TIM: This is a tougher question, as the rules for survival in this day and age keep changing. We have seen DC and Marvel re-invent themselves to great reviews and sales. We have seen comic books invade the big screen with scores of movies being produced with varied successes. The “Walking Dead” keeps trotting along and builds a greater audience each episode. With “Arrow” coming to TV soon, along with the DC comic book cartoon presence, it is vital to keep an eye towards licensing your books and characters to a wider audience. Not every company has a film/TV production in tow. With the greater synergy between film and comics, and more obvious co-operation between studios and the graphic novel industry, every company has its’ efforts to be the next hit. While Moonstone has had interest from film companies, nothing has gelled, but we have created a niche market for our books and comics.

One of my favorite books, Zombies Vs Cheerleaders, is already a media darling, and our book just builds on that reputation. It sells well, and speaks to those fans who appreciate good Cheerleader violence. Our Kolchak book has a loyal following, and attracts great attention from collectors and writers wanting to put Kolchak in the way of another demon. Our Phantom book is the longest running American publication of the Lee Falk creation. All of us at Moonstone were, and still are very proud of our Phantom line. I think what I am trying to say is that success is not just based on market penetration and sales, but rather a dedicated following of a specific book. We have that. Another element is that of being unique. We have the Spider, Honey West, Zombies vs Cheerleaders, the Green Hornet, Avenger, the Phantom, the Lone Ranger (fiction), Kolchak, and so many other one of a kind ‘heroes’. We are indeed unique, and enjoy that distinction.

We also, as previously answered, are not afraid of trying to put our product into different markets, and different formats. We use ‘wide vision’ formats for graphic novels, audio books for our fiction, digital formats for our iPad/Kindle readers, and of course use a variety of print distribution sources to reach readers.

Again, as long as we continue to attract readers, passionate creators, and media attention, like this interview, we will be around for another 25 years.

Epic Fail: What do you look for in comic and graphic artists? Does Moonstone Books have a visual style?

TIM: Moonstone Books do not really have a visual style. With a wide variety of different characters, we have tried to keep our looks unique and distinctive. For Kolchak, we tend to go to a more ‘spooky’ look, kinda like a kirby/simon horror feel, but updated. (perhaps a Phantom Stranger style as executed by Aparo). ZvC, is a cartoony, simplistic style. The focus of that book is not the art…Our Honey West book has ranged from simple to a more detailed look. With our pulp books, we have gone to a noir inspired style for covers and interiors. Some of our artists have gone onto other companies like DC and Marvel and created a niche for themselves. To more directly answer your question, we use a full script method, and expect our artists to be able to execute that. Obviously, good technical and artistic skills are very useful in this industry, whether you work for DC, DE,IDW, or Marvel.

Epic Fail: What’s the future for Moonstone Books?

TIM: We will continue to look for properties ready for the Moonstone touch, and publish comic books, graphic novels, wide-vision novels, and anthologies based on the characters we love to read and write about. We, to paraphrase Star Trek, will continue our 20 year mission to boldly go where no publisher has gone before, to seek out new (and exciting) properties…(cue theme music)

Epic Fail: Okay last question, and it isn’t really a question. This is open mic: Your chance to say anything you want to about Moonstone Books.

TIM: I am constantly amazed at the variety and skill of creators we attract to our products. Having been around for 20 years, and associating with the creators we have so far, this has been fun. We have met the legends, and near legends. We have hired extraordinary talents, have helped creators develop their talents, we have returned characters to the public eye in a respectful way. Most importantly, we have had fun. Have we won every battle? I would like to say yes, but we have had the opportunity to negotiate for more than one character and come 2nd. Through this, we remain passionate, and ready to take on new challenges. For myself, I started out with Moonstone by writing reviews for CBG, and here I am, doing interviews for Moonstone Books. I am thankful that Joe Gentile had faith in me and invited me to come and play in the sandbox. It is very interesting that many of the characters that I enjoyed reading as a kid, we publish. When I first wrote my Tom Gill autobiography (www.lonerangercartoonist.com), I wanted to do a fiction book. A mere 8 years later, here we are. Many of the books we do have a link to our childhoods and early reading years. It is so interesting to look back at my emails and see Philip Jose Farmer refuse to write a Green Hornet tale as he was pretty near written out (at nearly 90)!. Or have Stephen King say no, politely. That said, I think our publishing model is one of opportunity. Opportunity to write about what you like, opportunity to see your work published, and opportunity to develop a creative ‘home’. Fans can find us on facebook, and online at www.moonstonebooks.com

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Callous Comics Interview – Part 2

The Callous Comics Interview with Carlo Jose San Juan (MD) continues…

Click here if you have yet to read the Callous Comics Interview – Part 1

Q6: How did you first get into making Comics?

A6: I used to spend the long, lonely summer days by drawing comics in empty notebooks. I used to read a lot of Archie books and newspaper funnies and those taught me the basic fundamentals of comic-drawing and story flow. Then one day, on a whim, I applied to be an artist for my high school newspaper and drew comic strips there. That was my first taste of having my work published. I also joined my University’s student paper and started Callous comics in 1996. I brought the series with me to my medical school newspaper and continued Callous there, albeit revamped.

Q7: How do you juggle being a Doctor and a Cartoonist?

Q7: It’s all about time management. I collectively put in around 2-4 hours a day working on the comic. But those hours are squeezed into my daily life as a physician, father, and husband at various times of the day. Pretty much a “do whatever I can whenever I can” state as I wouldn’t know ahead of time when I’d be able to work on the comic. So it was important for me to streamline my process as well as to keep my comic production necessities mobile.

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Callous Comics Interview – Part 1

Webcomic creator Carlo Jose San Juan takes the hot seat to answer questions about Callous Comics and his new sci-fi webcomic M.O.U.S.E.

Q1: What is ‘Callous‘ the comic strip about?

A1: Wow, over the years that has become a loaded question! Ha ha!

Callous ComicsPrimarily, “Callous” is about the life and times of Dr. Rianne Nicah, a struggling new physician, who also happens to have a Guardian Duck named Cal Duck. Throughout the years of studying and training to become a Family Practice with Obstetrics specialist, she never really got to discover herself as a person and the world around her. Cal showed up to help guide her to become the best person she could be by opening her eyes to everything she ignored within herself, the medical field, and the world we live in.

That’s all well and good but there is a catch. Cal isn’t invisible. It’s also his first time to become a Guardian Duck so he is often accompanied by his on-the-job mentors, Mallard Duck, Decoy Duck, and Ling Duck, who all have the ability to pop in and out of our world to guide Cal. In the effort to maintain as normal a life as she could, Rianne has requested that the ducks remain within her home to which they reluctantly agreed. Nevertheless, she has gained good friends in her otherworldly housemates.

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Phineus: Magician for Hire Interview – Part 2

The Phineus: Magician for Hire interview with Barry Linck continues…

Click here if you’ve yet to read the Phinius: Magician for Hire Interview – Part 1.

Q6: Has being a Role-play Gamer helped you with creating stories for Phineus: Magician for Hire?

Yes, definitely. As well as my theater and film background.

Role-playing has gotten me to think as a character, act as a character would act. Being a DM, helped me create worlds, tell stories and create conflict in the stories.

In addition, all the monsters, magic, and Myth are right in there. I know most of the stuff in , say, the Monster Manual, is based on mythology. That said, the various gaming manuals itemize and describe the characters so succinctly that they sort of become my go to Beast-encyclopedia.

There have been stories I’ve done directly lifted from advesntures I’ve played with my game versions of Phin and Sara. I’ve even created a RPG around Phineus, with the help of my friend, John Burris. I’m even working on a second edition.

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Phineus: Magician for Hire Interview – Part 1

Barry Linck creator of the webcomic Phineus: Magician for Hire takes the hot seat…

Q1: What is ‘Phineus: Magician For Hire’ about?

A1: Phineus is a fantasy/horror/sci fi comic, published on the web, about a paranormal investigations team.

Phin and Sara Beam make up the Beam Agency. The married couple solve all manners of supernatural problems, from vampires and werewolves, to evil garden gnomes, zombies, Elder Things and evil sentient eyeballs bent on world domination.

Phineus is a wizard. A magic Adept, who can cast spells and do magic. Sara is a gun-toting, butt-kicking archeologist and former superhero. Together they protect the world from all the things that go bump in the night.

Q2: Phineus and Sara may be married but they seem like they’re from different world – How did these two get together?

A2: Well, they are from very different worlds, but the same as well.

In the Phineus universe, certain people are what I call “Freak Magnets”. Certain people are genetically destined to run into the paranormal or supernatural. These two are Freak Magnets.

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Rival Angels Interview – Part 2

The Rival Angels interview with Alan Evans (a.k.a Albone) continues…

Click here if you’ve yet to read The Rival Angels Interview – Part 1.

Q6: Fight scenes require challenging poses – do you use models or other referance material? Are they moves genuine wresting moves?

A6: Yes, they are 100% real and accurate moves and holds. I do also use a ton of reference, both from my own library and google. My own library consists of many years of attending wrestling shows and taking a ton of pictures.

Q7: Who or what has been the biggest influence upon your art style?

A7: The Image guys of the ‘90’s were big in my early drawing style, especially Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane, and Marc Silvestri to a degree. They all drew super powerful poses and some of the very best looking images ever. Recently, I’ve been Lora Innes’s (The Dreamer, Paperwings Podcast, To Appomattox) apprentice and every aspect of my art has improved from drawing to composition. She also puts the ‘fun’ in fundamentals. XD

Q8: What where you doing before you started ‘Rival Angels’?

A8: I was mainly spinning my wheels, trying to figure out what to do next with a comic project. I was finishing up ‘Worldwide Solutions,’ which was Fringe meets Heroes, which was a lot of fun but I was struggling to find an audience. I knew that wasn’t my future and I’m very happy that the inspiration for Rival Angels came to me.

Q9: What is the future of ‘Rival Angels’?

A9: The literal answer is, ‘Season 2,’ which just started 10 pages ago. The first season was 520 pages long so Season 2 could be that long as well and I do have a Season 3 in store. I want to spread the word about Rival Angels so people can see what a fun read it is, whether you like big action or girl drama. I’ve been looking into what a live-action short might entail and I think that would be a lot of fun for everyone.

Q10: Okay this is the last question and it isn’t really a question. This is open mic – Your chance to say anything else you want to say about ‘Rival Angels’.

A10: Rival Angels is the #1 wrestling webcomic but it’s way more than just action in the ring. The series depicts the differences between relationship and friendship and seeing the characters evolve personally, professionally and spiritually. One of the more intense moments in the comic and for the readers was when Sabrina and Sun had a HUGE falling out and was much more severe than just ‘Team Sabrina vs Team Sun.’ The readers went crazy! Of course, that made Sun and Sabrina’s reconciliation that much sweeter. Rival Angels is action-drama with comedy relief, so if that sounds like something for you, we’d love to have you stop by.

You can pick up the books at RivalAngels.com, which I will personally sign and ship. I’ll also be at comic conventions C2E2, Anime Central, Otakon, Wizard World Chicago and Mid-Ohio Con if you feel like stopping by and saying HI.

Thankyou for the interview Albone and good luck with Rival Angels and the many comic conventions you are attending this year!

If you enjoyed this interview why not follow @amuletts on twitter?
Or do you have a webcomic? Interested in being interviewed? Get in touch.
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Rival Angels Interview – Part 2

The Rival Angels interview with Alan Evans (a.k.a Albone) continues…

Click here if you’ve yet to read The Rival Angels Interview – Part 1.

Q6: Fight scenes require challenging poses – do you use models or other referance material? Are they moves genuine wresting moves?

A6: Yes, they are 100% real and accurate moves and holds. I do also use a ton of reference, both from my own library and google. My own library consists of many years of attending wrestling shows and taking a ton of pictures.

Q7: Who or what has been the biggest influence upon your art style?

A7: The Image guys of the ‘90’s were big in my early drawing style, especially Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane, and Marc Silvestri to a degree. They all drew super powerful poses and some of the very best looking images ever. Recently, I’ve been Lora Innes’s (The Dreamer, Paperwings Podcast, To Appomattox) apprentice and every aspect of my art has improved from drawing to composition. She also puts the ‘fun’ in fundamentals. XD

Q8: What where you doing before you started ‘Rival Angels’?

A8: I was mainly spinning my wheels, trying to figure out what to do next with a comic project. I was finishing up ‘Worldwide Solutions,’ which was Fringe meets Heroes, which was a lot of fun but I was struggling to find an audience. I knew that wasn’t my future and I’m very happy that the inspiration for Rival Angels came to me.

Q9: What is the future of ‘Rival Angels’?

A9: The literal answer is, ‘Season 2,’ which just started 10 pages ago. The first season was 520 pages long so Season 2 could be that long as well and I do have a Season 3 in store. I want to spread the word about Rival Angels so people can see what a fun read it is, whether you like big action or girl drama. I’ve been looking into what a live-action short might entail and I think that would be a lot of fun for everyone.

Q10: Okay this is the last question and it isn’t really a question. This is open mic – Your chance to say anything else you want to say about ‘Rival Angels’.

A10: Rival Angels is the #1 wrestling webcomic but it’s way more than just action in the ring. The series depicts the differences between relationship and friendship and seeing the characters evolve personally, professionally and spiritually. One of the more intense moments in the comic and for the readers was when Sabrina and Sun had a HUGE falling out and was much more severe than just ‘Team Sabrina vs Team Sun.’ The readers went crazy! Of course, that made Sun and Sabrina’s reconciliation that much sweeter. Rival Angels is action-drama with comedy relief, so if that sounds like something for you, we’d love to have you stop by.

You can pick up the books at RivalAngels.com, which I will personally sign and ship. I’ll also be at comic conventions C2E2, Anime Central, Otakon, Wizard World Chicago and Mid-Ohio Con if you feel like stopping by and saying HI.

Thankyou for the interview Albone and good luck with Rival Angels and the many comic conventions you are attending this year!

If you enjoyed this interview why not follow @amuletts on twitter?
Or do you have a webcomic? Interested in being interviewed? Get in touch.
Categories
Blog Webcomic Interviews Webcomics

Rival Angels Interview – Part 1

Alan Evans (a.k.a Albone) creator of the webcomic Rival Angels takes the hot seat…

Q1: What is ‘Rival Angels’ about?

A1: Rival Angels is about four girls trying to make it in professional wrestling and find that surviving their battles with each as room-mates is a completely different matter. The four girls in question are Ultragirl Sabrina Mancini, Lil Dragon Sun Wong, The Definition of Technician Krystin Moline, and self-proclaimed Miss Rival Angels, Aphrodite Brooke Lennox.

Q2: What’s so attractive about female wrestling? Besides to obvious!

A2: Female wrestling is niche-y. That niche brings the passionate fans of female wrestling and intrigues those that may not be fans of pro wrestling. Personally for me as a storyteller, I knew it would be much more interesting to tell the story of several female wrestlers than male ones. If you are aware of pro wrestling, you already know that 85% of the exposure is on the male side. This is my chance to explore that under-served segment.

Q3: How realistically does ‘Rival Angels’ reflect the sport of female wrestling?

A3: Rival Angels reflects pro wrestling in that it’s very loud and showy in the wrestling aspects. The over-the-top characters and the larger than life characters. However, one huge difference is that the matches are real, like in Mixed Martial Arts. None of the matches are pre-determined, so obviously that’s a huge difference.

Q4: Strong female role-models or gratuitous T&A? Which is it?

A4: Strong female role-models in the mold of the characters that Joss Whedon tends to write, like in Buffy or Firefly. The girls are very real, with real problems, fears, hopes and desires that readers can identify with and also with such broad appeal that readers of any age can appreciate.

Q5: How do the characters real life challenges compare to their challenges in the ring?

A5: Sometimes the challenges, like living together as room-mates, is the greater challenge! These four young women share a space with 1 bedroom and 2 baths so tensions can get high. Plus, they’re all essentially going for the same job and there’s not guarantee that they’ll all make it into the pro ranks of Rival Angels. As anyone will tell you, supporting friendships and maintaining relationships is a tough act but throw in a combat sport like this and the problems begin to mount up quick.

CLICK HERE TO READ PART 2 of THE RIVAL ANGELS INTERVIEW.

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The Drunken Fools Interview – Part 2

The Drunken Fools interview with Antoine Gagnon continues…

Click here if you haven’t read The Drunken Fools Interview – Part 1

Q6: Do you think ‘The Drunken Fools’ encourages or discourages excessive drinking and alcoholism?

A6: Neither of them. The target audience is obviously adults and I believe each one of us has to make their own minds in life.

Q7: Parlez-vous français? What’s it like having a bilingual webcomic and why isn’t it in other languages?

A7: That’s a great question (the 2nd part I mean) 😛

Oui je parle Français. French is my primary language. I actually speak 3 languages: French, English and Drunk… ok, just kidding for the 3rd one 😛

Having a bilingual comic is actually a pain in the neck at times. You can’t simply translate a script from one language to another, you have to adapt it. There are jokes, expressions, sentences that are very hard to translate/adapt due to the context on the story. And this adds more workload: need to write a script in both language and need to letter two pages instead of one (well, 2 separate Layers since I am lettering with a Digital Font) but still a lot of work.