Thursday, July 31, 2014

Q&A with Chris Dingess on Manifest Destiny

Cover of Issue 7
By this point if you follow my blog at all, you must know how much I enjoy Manifest Destiny. It seemed only appropriate to me that I seek out and harrass writer Chris Dingess about this wicked adventure story. Lucky me he talks back and he's a really nice dude.

TFQ: I've been following Manifest Destiny since the first issue and it's been one wild ride. To this day, I still dunno where the story is going. Are they ever going to get out of this wild and crazy place?

CHRIS: Every crazy place will just lead to a weird place, which will lead to a creepy place, which will lead to an unsettling place, with will then lead back to the crazy place.  

TFQ:  What was the inspiration used for the majority of the beasts in the story? I mostly get reminded of D&D beasties but I would like to know how you developed them.

CHRIS: I've never actually played D&D, but my friends who did growing up are trying to get a game started to introduce me.  I'm excited about this idea.  As far as Manifest Destiny goes.  Each character is inspired by many things.  Some from my own regular fears (the giant mosquitoes, the Flora) to movies (the Flora were partially inspired by Creepshow).  

Another inspiration for the Flora was simply nature, which is creepy.  Just listen to Werner Herzog talk about it! Anyways, I saw some trees in a rain forest that, if memory serves, are actually a fungus that has overcome most of the trees.but still stand and look like trees.

Americana is a big influence too.  The Buffalotaurs, or whatever their called, were just going to be Centaurs.  I wanted beautiful, majestic creatures to be the first things the Corps of Discovery to come across and destroy. The team at Skybound suggested that it would be cool to tie them to something American, like a Buffalo.  And the Frog creature is a twist on the bullfrog.

Thems the Buffalotaurs

TFQ: I am often left feeling like the female characters of Manifest Destiny are the only people who have any good intentions in the story despite the fact that are largely outnumbered. What was your motivation behind this? 

CHRIS: I feel that in many cases, people who are overlooked, ignored or pushed down can develop a different type of strength.  I wanted the women in this book to reflect that.  

TFQ: How did you come up with this historic monster hunter story? That's gotta be my big question. I love that they're explorers with a hidden monster hunting agenda. 

CHRIS: I wish I had a great story for this, but really I was sitting around drinking with friends and complaining about things like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  I was saying that all you had to do make a successful story was take real or fictional historical figure and cram monsters into them. I joked that you could just say Lewis and Clark were secretly hunting monsters.  Then I realized I make money of the idea and I whored myself out.
AAAHH!!! Flora infected settlers!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Q&A with Nightworld creators Adam McGovern & Paolo Leandri

Hitting a comic book shop near you on August 6th is the new Image comic series Nightworld. Masterfully written by Adam McGovern and brought to life with a kirby-esq quill by artists Paolo Leandri. The story deals with a hellspawn cast of lost souls. It's hellspawn against evil and of course it's action. Colored by Paul Pope's One Trick Rip Off colorist Dom Regan. I was lucky to get an advanced copy of the series and interview the creators. Here's how it all went down:

TFQ: HOW did you come up with this story?

PAOLO: Nightworld was created a dozen years ago for a very specific purpose: to take me out of anonymity, I tried to think of the much commercial comic book I could conceive. The blend of gothic horror and superheroes was very on-trend in those days but has been demonstrated to hold well today too, since with the help of Adam this book sees the light!
ADAM: When I first saw Paolo’s pages I was enchanted -- in a good and evil way :-). I sensed this could grow into the kind of pop lore that would establish Paolo’s talent in the U.S the way it deserves to be, and our creative process became telepathic…or maybe he just cast a spell!

TFQ: You started a kickstarter fund for this comic. Was this your first experience with Kickstarter? How was that process?

ADAM: It was my first experience, and a satisfying but exhausting one. I didn’t realize that begging was a full-time job :-), but you really do have to call on all your contacts and any communities that might be interested -- in this case, horror fans, admirers of the Kirby legacy, etc. Kickstarter is great for pre-testing what kind of audience is out there, and our cult certainly came together to put us over the line.

TFQ: So many people describe this comic as Kirby-tastic but besides the linework, the character designs reminded me so much more closely of Mignola (accepting of course Kirby's wide range of influence). How do you feel about all this feedback? 

PAOLO: The artwork has been described also as a mix of Kirby and Charles Burns or as Mike Allred under the influence of hallucinogens! I hope it does not come out as something too bizarre for a wide audience.

Mignola is one of my favorites of the Modern Age artists, it may not be so direct an influence on Nightworld but both Mignola and I are fans of classic horror movies so this may explain some affinity in the characters’ design.

I'm not interested in cloning Kirby (it would not be possible anyway!); the first story was done 9 years ago, in the time since I have minimized the use of crackle, squiggle and muscles done with slashed lines. My influence is a blend of Golden and Silver Age (Ditko, Colan, Romita Sr., Everett, Crandall, Maneely). I sure think that the classic style of comics is something to defend but I'm not a revivalist, I try to use it to make stories that fit the modern age and serve as a starting point for future evolution; in fact I came up with the slogan “pure comics for now people”!

TFQ: What were the major influences behind this story?

PAOLO: Both The Demon and Satan’s Six by Kirby, Hellboy, and Universal horrors of the 1930s.
ADAM: The inspirations I myself drew from were Mexican vampire movies of the 1950s and ’60s, and the undersea nature-documentaries of Jacques Cousteau from the 1970s. I would see both on TV as a kid and the monster movies featured a moody, dignified vampire named Nostradamus and often had luchas fighting monsters. Nightworld’s hero Plenilunio looks like a merge of the vampire-lord and the lucha-hero, along with kabuki -- Paolo’s creativity comes from multiple sources that only a genius like him would relate to each other. But the melancholy of those period-piece vampire flicks, and the poetry of Cousteau’s continual voiceover on scenes of the alien world of the sea, were what I mainly had in mind when the “voice” of this comic came to me. Plus a century of pop-culture, occult beliefs and even news on real-life wars and fashion trends (which you’ll see some of in Issue #2), shredded and pasted back together in this surreal saga.

TFQ: How did you come to release through Image Comics? 

ADAM: I had interviewed Erik Larsen for the Jack Kirby Collector magazine, and was joking with a friend about how Erik told me he planned to bring the undeveloped characters Kirby created to Image as new comics -- including my all-time fav Kirby character name (for a kind of sasquatch), “Thunderfoot, Last of the half-Humans!” :-) -- my friend and I were reflecting on this with admiration at a New York Comic Con in the mid-2000s and then Erik, whom I’d never seen at that con, walked passed us as if summoned. So I showed him an early proof of Nightworld #1, and he asked if Paolo and I would like to do a story for The Next Issue Project, his series of retro comic anthologies. We did an “Alias the Spider” story that appeared in “Crack Comics #63,” then two years later we had a chance to work on one of the Kirbyverse characters ourselves. That didn’t work out due to licensing issues, but Erik was all the more eager to make new legends, so he looked again at Nightworld and championed us while we finished the other three issues of the first miniseries. A few more years later and Nightworld is ready -- a fable about characters who are capable of great evil or good to choose between, but a lesson to us ordinary fans and creatives to never give up on what’s possible!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

SDCC and Sexism

There's been a lot of press about the sexism at SDCC. The internet blows up often with sexist comments about how certain female cosplayers should accept that they will be touched, mistreated, cat-called, etc for choosing to dress in their favorite characters attire. Especially if that attire is  is more like that of Wonder Woman's. My question is, why does it take a comic-con for people to realize that women are judged on appearance. I'm shocked that it comes up every year and that people every year react just as badly all over the internet. Here are some quotes from a forum on facebook known as COMIC BOOK COLLECTING. Your's truly was actually kicked from this group a few weeks ago for calling attention to sexist attitudes and comments on the forum and bringing it to the attention of the administration. They verbally bashed me publicly then kicked me. A number of female members of the group protested for my treatment and were met with the same hatred. So my good friend Nevs decided to check out the group. On the subject of the SDCC were the following comments:  (Names are hidden from the quotes to protect these people from the angry backlash they actually deserve. I choose not to harass others simply because they harass me. These comments are from both men and women. It's fairly easy to tell which are which.)

 "Women dress half naked and go to comic con filled with nerds and geeks most who have never kiss a girl and wonder why they get stared at and pictures get taken??? Are you fucking kidding me? I mean don't get me wrong women deserve to get respect but cut me a break.... You know what you're doing ladies stop dressing up like that or don't go or stop complaining...."

"*sighs* It's an old debate, how women are portrayed in comics. Booth babes are hardly limited to only comics (car/boat shows, anyone?) and men can be just as sexualized as women. I dare any straight woman to not stare at a guy who's well built and wearing a skin-tight and/or revealing superhero costume. I would. When it turns to groping or taking pictures of questionable positions, then there's a problem, but cat calling or leering is kinda expected."

"There's no moral behavior for men and women, we are all animals, when it comes to sex, so deal with it.."

"i really dont want to hear about the way females are drawn in comics either. even going back to the complaint about barbie. how she was a figure woman could never hope to have. what was boys playing with at that time? he-man. look at his figure. really? so your saying its ok for boys to think you have to look like he-man? its not really any different."

"How many threads about this do we need? As a WOMAN and a cosplayer I find these woman pushing this annoying. Comic Con has great rules in place. But they protect -everyone- not just people with girl parts. So if you need rules specific to people with girl parts, that is horribly unbalanced and silly."

That's a whole lot of disturbing right there. Do people not realize that this happens to women everywhere on a daily basis? Not just the petite and pretty but to women of all shapes, sizes and ages?? Of all walks of life! What shocks me is that so many people do not know how often it happens in daily life for us ladies. This isn't simply a Comic Con issue. This is a continuing, oppressive tactic used against women to victimize and demonize. Ladies you are judged on how you look and dress. That double edged sword has not disappeared beneath your curves or your fashion. Whether you dress what is deemed conservative or provocative, the way people react (which by the way is out of your control) is blamed on you. How's that for a slice of unfair reality?

As a gal, this sort of sexism affects my daily life. I am a fairly conservative dresser day to day, but that doesn't detract from the negative attention I receive. When I go out in the evening, I get dolled up and dress in what some would call skanky. I get the same attention daily regardless of what I am wearing- Negative attention & comments. Generally from men but there are also the sneers from the other women who have internalized this misogyny. Regardless of the hour, regardless of where I am. (Except for my apartment unless I accidentally change in front of the open window... lol) Yet blame is placed on the lady and responsibility ultimately falls on her rather than the aggressor. Comments have been floating around forums all over the interwebs akin to "well why did she wear that if she didn't expect the attention". Makes me wanna vomit. Serious vomit, not just word vomit.

On top of all this Comic-con sexism, there have been a disturbing amount of tumblr posts. Selfies like the one below with women holding signs proclaiming that they don't need feminism and why. Well some say why...others just kinda piss on the word feminism. They general state silly untruths like the photo below. I've blacked out her head to save her any further embarrassment. I mean, we all do and say stuff that we later regret. This is probably one of those things for her, or at least it should be.

This is what happens without proper education.
I'm use to seeing statements like this which honestly is really sad. Seriously do people not even know what feminism is? It's not about the almighty vagina! It's not about supremacy. It's about equality for all no matter gender, race or sexual orientation. Oh and probably something else in there too I neglected to sum up in that tiny sentence. That's the basics though. There are lots of different groups that will claim the term for themselves while ignoring this basic fundamental sentiment. That's not feminism.  Anyone who tries to tell you that feminism is about having lots of abortions, taking away the rights of others or getting special treatment just for women, doesn't know what feminism is. GUESS WHAT THOUGH?!?! Now you do. So the next time someone you hear someone say that they're not a feminist, you can explain to them why YOU ARE. :D

Monday, July 28, 2014

Supreme Blue Rose #1 by Warren Ellis & Tula Lotay

I've been anticipating the release of this book. I got a sneak peak from Image a little while back. I saw the beautiful cover and the illustrations of the first four pages. Beautiful. Tula Lotay who's previously worked on The Witching Hour and Elephantman brings the elegance to this story with her ethereal pen.

Let me just impress the truth upon you that I would never have picked this is up if it hadn't been for Lotay's amazing contribution. Firstly, I'm not a fan of Warren Ellis. I'm not a fan of his "press" personality and I'm not a fan of his writing. Sure he's had his hay day but I take issue with anyone who self-proclaims to be one of the best comic book writers of all time. He certainly doesn't pop up in my mind when I think of great writers. Sadly, whatever talent he did have to captivate an audience, seems to be slipping away. The first issue of Supreme Blue Rose lacks substance. Ellis appears to be trying so hard to keep what he wants to write about a secret, even he doesn't know where this story is going. Nor can he convey it respectfully. Ellis also told CBR and a number of other comic book review sites that he intended to create "A new floor on top of Alan Moore and Rob Liefeld's house," he goes on to say “And, since I had some time on my hands that year, I emailed Image, and we got my friend Tula Lotay involved—and her work will be a revelation to people."

Not I'm not shocked he wasn't up to anything but I do find it shocking that as usual, he think he can hold a candle to some one like Alan Moore. Thank god Lotay was involved so that this comic wasn't a complete waste of time.

So this is a reboot title. Supreme originally ran on Image in the 90's by Moore and Leifeld, among other artists. It looked like shit but had some following.  I thought I'd share some annonymous comments with you that I found over the interwebs at various locations. I don't normally do this but for Ellis, I'll make an exception. First up is a comment from the Front Towards Gamers site:

"Supreme Blue Rose #1 is bloated & boring with terrible artwork, does anyone actually care?"
Obviously I don't agree with the comment about the artwork but it's a pretty big departure from Leifeld (who I dislike and make the brunt of my jokes on perspective). However if you were a big fan of the original Supreme Blue Rose, this would confuse the fuck out of you. Major Spoilers negative comments were: 

"There is a lot of dense storytelling and plot points that are not explained, which may turns readers off along the way."

A slightly more positive comment from Comic Book City Podcast:

"Even with all the praise I could give Ellis’ writing in the book, it wouldn’t be as memorable without the amazing talent of Tula Lotay."

With the exception of praising Ellis, cause that's kind of impossible here, I mostly agree with that last opinion. God I'm bored just talking about this book. I would really like to see Tula team up with someone like Brian K. Vaughan or someone who is actually an amazing writer like Gaiman. Hell, I'd like to see what comes out of her own head in terms of writing. It seems unfair that she gets stuck with Ellis, who she clearly outshines. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

All-New Doop #4 by Peter Milligan

Look how cute!!! I want one!
I've read some negative comments about this mini-series. People calling it pretentious when I thought the whole book was just plain good fun! Thought it was doing a bit of clever mocking and included some Ingmar Bergman references. I suppose people unfamiliar with Bergam's work may be confused by the book in the same way that people often get confused when reading the Sandman series. If they have no background in mythology or Shakespeare things don't make perfect sense. Among other references, Sandman went on for a while.

Me? I thought the series was brilliantly new and fun. I liked hearing Doop speak broken English. This is sort of a Doop origins story. You get to meet Mama Doop and find out why she dislikes her little squishie so much! She blames him for Papa Doop's disappearance. At the end of this issue though, there is a little hint that X-Statix may be coming back with a new series. Wolverines mentions that it's good to see them again and that maybe they should make a come back. Anarchist replies "Maybe we will, maybe we will". I really hope so and I really hope that Allred comes in to do it again. Thoughts? Opinions? I'm excited for the future!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sin City: The Big Fat Kill

Another oldie but a goodie I chose to write about. I've read this one a couple times but I stumbled on a copy on the cheap at Monster comics. It was a sweaty day and I had to force myself out of the house. Finding cheap comics is my specialty... mostly because I'm cheap.

Sometimes I have a hard time reading Sin City. Mostly because of all the abuse towards women. The Big Fat Kill is one of the books that begins kinda like a domestic abuse revenge story. It can be hard to read. The script that falls out of the mouth of Johnny Boy is textbook classic abuse. It's disturbing how accurately Miller wrote Johnny Boy. He blames his victim for his abuse. It can be difficult to read. Although he is punished for his crimes I've always had a bit of an issue with revenge. However, I choose to see the death of Johnny as defense because let's face it, some people do not know when to stop. That being said this if fiction and I don't believe in murder whether a judge approves it as justice or not.

ANYWAY.... I still really like this book because the ladies of old town. I like the idea of these ladies keeping their own laws away from pimps and corrupt police. This is one of the reason why I still find Sin City as a female friendly book. You may not approve to prostitution but Sin City is a dangerous place. Better to be self sufficient. Guess what? In reality women all over the world feel like that. These women look out for each other in a world that refuses to look out for them. I wish this country would take care of our sex workers. sigh.

Wow I just got depressed. That can happen after reading Frank Miller books. Of course, you can now buy the entire collect edition of Sin City in the Big Damn Sin City book that recently came out to help promote the movie for A Dame To Kill For. I suggest that if you have 70 dollars to throw at it. Of course, you'l have to read it over a desk because you're not holding that thing up in bed.

Saga #21 *SPOILERS*

Every time I get my hands on the latest issue of Saga, I feel like it's been a year since I had my hands on the last one! Always takes me a few minutes to jog my memory on the previous events. Usually the cover lends itself to that task. Do you remember what happened in issue 20? It was an awfully large development! Robot Prince IV's lovely wife was murdered and his new baby boy stolen! However Prince IV doesn't even know it happened, let alone his new baby boy has been born because he's held as a hostage on Sextillion. Well, he doesn't realize he's being held hostage. I guess there is a slight difference there.

Meanwhile in wedded bliss last, Alana is succumbing to the depression of working on the Open Circuit and quickly becoming a drug addict. So far Marko seems to be doing a fairly good job of keeping purple batgirl at bay. She's come on a lot more strong and made her feelings known but Marko has played ignorant of her obvious motives. I wonder when Alana will find out.

What kind of developments do you want to see? We already know from that Marko and Alana are doomed to break up. I think however, that they will get back together. That's kind of Vaughan's style is it now? It's like misdirection... I keep feeling like batgirl is actually some inter galactic spy who is suppose to quietly bring Alana and Marko in. Especially since she asked to meet Alana. Theories?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Eye of Newt #2 by Michael Hague

The story of Newt continues on. Together with Morgan Le Fey, he encounters all kinds of mystical creatures. Of course fantasy stories aren't complete without trolls and goblins.  Although, these trolls are nice and helpful. So are the giant talking frogs. Morgan however, is kinda of well.... annoying. Horribly annoying and negative. She really doesn't have any redeeming qualities but she's really strong and knows what she wants. She's just not a real good conversationalist because she's always insulting people. She's forceful, but she knows what she's after.

66 year old Hague has had a very extensive career. Titles he is credited to have illustrated include The Wind in The Willows, The Hobbit, The Wizard of Oz and about 70 more. This is his first graphic novel ever, to be released as a four part mini series. This beautiful story is suitable for children and I think you should go buy it for your kid... like right now.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blood Blokes #4 by Adam Cadwell

I really liked the first three issues of Blood Blokes. In fact I remember giggling as I turned the pages.. or fingered through the pages, I was reading digitally. I much prefer paper but who am I to be picky? Issue four lets the reader in on a secret. Shall I tell you!? No, no I won't, I shant! Poor Vincent doesn't get to know what's really happening so why should you? Maybe if you read the book and then lend it to him... 

This issue of Blood Blokes is a tad on the more serious side. There is more plot actually happening and not a lot of cadaver tea parties. That's all okay though. We needed some big plot development right about now. This is where it gets thick but I'm only left with more questions. 

I am a big fan of back and white comics. Cadwell's work sucks me right in. I know that when a lot of people talk about great black and white comics, they tend to mention Charles Burns. I'm not a huge fan of Charles Burns personally. I find most of his work rather sexist and difficult to read due to how the female characters are treated. I don't feel that way at all about Cadwell's work. The female characters are just as diverse as the male ones. They don't serve as tits and ass for the male characters either. This is important considering a lot of male-centric comics lately, especially in the indie comic world can be a little on the degrading side. If not just flat out offensive. I'm really happy to say that Cadwell's work does not fit into that category. Not to mention, I just plain prefer his artistic style over Charles Burns. 

Check out that cover by the way! I love it! I need issue 5. I don't want to wait. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Manifest Destiny #8

Remember those settlers from the village over-run by man-eating flora? Remember how some women survived? Well one of them turned rapist. Or rather, I should say, attempted rapist. I'm glad he didn't get away with it is all I'll say. I'm glad that so far, Manifest Destiny creators have allowed the women of the story to be strong, important characters. In fact the more I read this story, the more I realize that the only characters who are just and intelligent are the women folk. The men folk are generally stubborn and arrogant which apparently gets them into a lot of bad situations. Let's consider the times though.

Manifest Destiny has been an exciting, fast paced adventure in danger land. Seriously, it's like they're in fucking Australia because like Australia, everything in the Manifest Destiny world can kill you. At least they were somewhat able to deal with the giant frogs from issue 7. You know, sorta. I guess it's good that there are no children in this story since they'd pretty much be dead or turning into that homicidal kid from The Walking Dead. hmmm actually, I kinda wan to see some creepy kids in this story. Can we make that happen?

Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley

Remember how I said that O'Malley would be at Strange Adventures this summer for signing? I didn't lie. With the release of his new book, Strange Adventures announced that O'Malley will be in Halifax on August 2nd. Purchasing the new book Seconds gets you free access to the signing at Strange Adventures. Of course, I got mine. I also made certain to hold on to my copy of the variant cover he did for the first issue of The Wicked and The Divine. By hold onto, I just mean that I didn't file it away in a box yet.

My experience with Seconds was very positive. I think it's by far one of the most unique books to have come out of Canada in a long time. There really isn't much it has in common with Scott Pilgrim besides O'Malley's trademark sense of humor. There are pop culture references that would appeal to my generation. A smattering of video game symbols and Buffy the Vampire Slayer references among other things.
Main character Kate is just turning 30 so that puts her right around my age. (...she gets to be 2 years younger but ya know, who's counting...)

Kate works as a chef at a restaurant called Seconds. She pines for a restaurant to call her very own, while also pining after her ex boyfriend Max. Things get all crazy and time shifty when Kate discovers a present from a little spirit living in the top drawer of her dresser. The present contains one red capped mushroom and notepad labeled mistakes. Inside contain instructions on how to use the gift. Cleverly, you can see that the title Seconds, has a double meaning. Second helpings of lovely food at a restaurant and second chances. I would LOVE to dissect the whole story more accurately for you all but I really don't wish to spoil it.

This hard covered edition is printed in color! Brian Lee O'Malley credits his team with their assistance with the illustrations and lettering. You know you're awesome when you get a team. Seriously. I'm not being sarcastic. I wish I had a team of illustrators and letterists to help me pull together my work. I would certainly be able to get it done on time for a change. Wow, I'm rambling again in my article. I'll stop. Everything about this book is adorable from the illustrations to the plot. I'm pretty much in love with all the characters, well maybe not Max. You'll see what I mean. I kinda wish they were big plushies that I could pick up and squeeze. Except don't try to hug the book, because it's hard covered. Also, try to remember to put it on your bedside table before falling asleep at night because it doesn't feel great when it's hulk corners end up in your temple in the middle of the night.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Wicked & The Divine #2 by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie

I didn't really like the first issue. We know this. Loved the variant cover of issue 1 but when I read it I was too reminded of the duo's earlier work Phonogram. I don't like the idea of gods being pop stars or pop stars being gods. (or rock stars, or punkers or any sort of musical entertainer & musician). Now I'm a little biased against the idea because I was spent so much time creating music and playing in bands, producing music that I know the bitter truth.

There's no doubt that McKelvie is a talented artist. He's precise and his artwork is refined. His coloring bold and uninhibited.. BUT IT CAN'T SAVE ME! I want to like this comic, I just don't. Not to mention how the main character is absorbed with these gods/musicians and in love with their evil side. I understand that being within the music industry draws you to the darker walks of life, but I never thought that was a good thing! The main character here glorifies the whole uninhibited, and callous behavior of these musical idols.

So far the only point of interest to me is the mystery of who really did blow up that judges head in the first issue. Luci (Lucifer) was taken into custody as being responsible but she swears it wasn't her. Beyond that I suppose I was happy that someone referenced Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I think this may be the last issue I buy of this series.

The Drifting Classroom vol 1 by Kazuo Umezu

You may remember my review of The Cat-Eyed Boy. It consisted of two large volumes printed by Viz and were created by Japanese manga author & artist Kazuo Umezu. The Drifting Classroom was originally published in 1972 and in 1974 won the 20th Shogakukan Manga Award in the general category. It has received much acclaim over the years and even made it as a movie or two. I had never read it but as a lover of horror and psychological thrillers, I knew I had to get my hands on this series. So I ordered it online because let's face it, this wasn't going to be sitting on the shelf of any of my local comic book stores.

This story is about an entire school that appears to have been transported to another location and perhaps another dimension. The students and staff look out their windows to a barren wasteland and not a shred of their town anywhere else to be found. To make matters worse, leaving the school grounds means certain death. None of the people within the school have a concept of what is happening. Their phone lines are dead and the electricity is gone. As far as anyone can tell, the rest of the world has simply, disappeared.

As with Umezu's other work, there is a lot of child abuse. Children are slapped by adults who can't seems to control them in any mature way. There's even a scene where a teacher cuts his own child with a piece of glass. Even though the situation these people are faced with is chilling and their future uncertain, it's the interaction between characters that remains more disturbing. Umezu brings out the worst in human nature. It's as if none of his characters possess the ability to control their emotions in any situation. Although most people can control their mouths in the face of outrage, or worse, Umezu's characters cannot. It's only when they stop for self reflection much after the fact, that the characters become more dimensional and real. At first you just think everyone is nuts, extremely self-centered and unbalanced.

It's safe to say that mystery of The Drifting Classroom has captured me and I must order the rest of the series.... STAT! If you've read everything from Ito and need a replacement, check out Umezu. He's not Ito but he has his own way of pushing your suspense buttons.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cap'N Dinosaur by KEK-W, Shaky Kane and Komikraft

Another fun and colorful throw back from Shaky Kane. WARNING. This comic contains absolute silliness!! The Superhero team consists of Honey Moon and Cap'n Dinosaur! Yeah that really doesn't explain much does it. Well their powers are even more in the realm of the unexplained. Honey Moon's mysterious powers are linked to the lunar cycle.. and you know what else is linked to the lunar cycle... Cap'N Dinosaur has the power to enable his dino brain which apparently craves raw meat. So raw that he just wants to eat people who are walking around alive...

In an interview with Geeks Unleashed, Shaky Kane admits that he took Cap'n Dinosaur from a couple shorts he wrote over 15 years ago.

You'll notice a lot of familiar looking characters from the advertisements that were in comics and magazines you read as a kid. Well I suppose that depends on your age. Remember sending away for sea monkey's in the mail? Remember little do-dads with your favorite monsters on them? The Wolfman, Frankenstein monster, and Sputnik?? lol.

Besides Shaky Kane, you'll find the other credits a bit more difficult to track down. KEK-W is also known as Nigel Long. I really have only been able to find information on him through a page online about 2000AD writers. He is credited in over 70 issues. As for Komikraft I got tired of digging. Yeah I know I get lazy sometimes.

I'm a really big fan of these one-shots from Shaky Kane. His work makes me smile. We all know how much I loved his last one-shot That's Because You're A Robot. I only hope he continues to generate them as regularly as he has. At the back of this issue is a preview to the next comics coming from Shaky. It's called The Beef and I can't wait.

For more awesome information and art from Shaky Kane please visit

Silver Surfer #4 by Dan Slott, Mike Allred & Laura Allred

Look how cute Rocket Raccoon!
Wholey!  They just had to throw the Guardians of the Galaxy in there. Well, what with the new television show and people all a twitter (literally on twitter) about Rocket Raccoon, I'm sure Marvel had it in the contract. However, Slott worked it into the plot in yet another instance of his humorous genius.

There are so many little gems hidden in the panels of this issue. So much that I kept giggling and squinting my eyes at the silliness. I loved it. Slott's humor appeals to me, but we know this already. Allred's silent contributions to the background of certain panels contains the secrets to what will happen in the next issue. Make sure you really look at the backgrounds! Some of it is more obvious than others.

I really liked this issue but I'm already spoiling it. So many cute little jokes from Slott. So much fun and in this issue, Slott references other events from the Marvel Universe so it appears he is staying with traditional cannon.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Killing Joke by Alan Moore & Brian Bolland *SPOILERS*

I have been on a Batman kick as of late. I decided to read and re-read the most famous Batman books of all time. I say re-read because obviously, some of them I have read. This is one of those books I read a long time ago but I wanted to visit it again and well... buy the hardcover edition for my graphic novel collection....

The edition I purchased (published in 2008) had a lovely closing letter from artist Brian Bolland speaking about the books ambiguous ending. It's quite cleverly written and I think you may enjoy reading it yourself so I won't spoil it for you. Suffice it to say that he does not comment on the end of the story at all. You see, the ending leaves a silhouette of Batman and the Joker laughing maniacally in the darkness as headlights blare in the distance behind them with the sounds of sirens. What people have surmised and rumored about since publication, is that Batman is actually killing the Joker at that moment. The more obvious choice and what would keep Batman editors happier, is that Batman is merely sharing a laughing fit with his arch nemesis.

There are more firsts in this book than what may or may not be intended in the ending. Another first for the Batman series is an actual Joker origins story, which for me is kind of annoying. I'd rather do without an origins story especially since Moore writes the Joker as a fairly normal guy turned criminal due to extenuating circumstances and personal failure. We've never seen that before, but do keep in mind that this was originally written in 1988. I do enjoy that Moore makes it apparent that the Joker is not originally a very stable man. He leaves gainful employment as a lab tech to peruse a career as a comedian while his wife is pregnant. Moore also shows that this pre-Joker is very short tempered and shows symptoms of classic abuse when he interacts with his wife. This Joker back story has remained alive and kicking to be referenced several times in the years after within the DC universe.

The 80's was a time when comics became more adult. It was certainly the time that Batman went more adult, for example Frank Miller's Batman books. However The Killing Joke stands out as particularly adult due to the horrific crimes perpetrated by the Joker. Commissioner Gordan's daughter is shot, paralyzed and humiliated. The Joker, after shooting her, strips her down and takes pictures (might have done more, Moore doesn't say) and then tortures a beaten, naked Gordan with the photos of his dying, naked daughter. That's pretty heavy. I don't think you get any more adult than that. I dunno if any villain had ever done something that twisted in a comic until that point. I'll ransack my brain about it but I'm having trouble trying to think of an instance.

Now the real important part of this book which sets it all up is the very beginning. Batman goes to visit the Joker in Arkham Asylum to basically plead with him to change his ways. Batman doesn't want the Joker's death on his hands. This really sets up the ending and lets you read into it even more-so. It would make complete sense that Batman in fact kills the Joker at the end of the book. I know I spoil everything. Am I wrong to assume that you have already read the book???!! If you haven't you MUST.  It truly is one of the best Batman stories ever written despite my own personal grudge against the Joker origin story, which in the grand scheme of things, matters not to Allan Moore. Plenty of people have praised the origins story and plenty of people have craved it. So readers, I leave you with the closing scene of the book. The one that has thrilled, pissed off and caused many an argument in the comic book world: the Joker's death?!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Interview: Q&A with Brandon Graham

Yippiee! I've been lucky to talk to so many of my favorite artists and writers lately! It's truly an honor. This time I got to ask Brandon Graham a few fun questions about his career. Brandon Graham is one of my favorite artists. I got into heavily ever since being introduced to his work by a friend. Check out what he has to say about his work and of course, check out Brandon's work!!

TFQ: I'm a huge fan of Prophet, King City, and Multiple Warheads. How do you feel about writing for Prophet on a full-time basis oppose to writing and illustrating the story completely on your own?

Brandon: Thanks a lot. 

It's a different animal working collaboratively.  I write different kinds of stories when it's for other people. Sometimes it feels more like editing than writing--I often do the scrips for other artists with rough thumbnails of the pages--and even then, how the story reads is mostly in their hands and in the hands of the colorist. That's fun though. I like having an idea of how a scene will go and then getting back something that makes me think about it in a new way--and hopefully be able to compliment it with the text I add.

I can't overstate how happy I am to have been able to work with the amazingly talented people that I've got on Prophet.

On Prophet there's things to consider outside of myself--first that I'm messing with Liefeld's universe and then that I want the stuff to be worth the time of Simon, Giannis,  Farel and the rest of the guys I work with--and then even the lettering being done by Ed is another step. Another thing that changes how it reads.-- When I work alone, it's all just me fucking around lettering it right on the art and then coloring it all myself-- There's also something to be said for how many hours I can think about a page when I'm the one drawing it. 

TFQ: What if any, kind of hurdles did you have to overcome during your career? What are the biggest challenges you face?

Brandon: I guess the main thing early on was finding publishers to back me. I think things are somewhat different now with the internet and all-- but back then for me it was 50 copies at kinko's or a publisher.

Luckily I managed to get my first few books out through Antarctic press and Radio comix.
Radio got me started doing porn comics, which was the only place I'd found that would pay me to write and draw comics. Once I'd moved to NYC with the publisher NBM, then I'd go up to Vertigo or Marvel and they'd be "like what have you been working on" and I only had porn to show. Sooo that wasn't ideal.  That was a frustrating catch 22 up there- where I knew they would let me in if I was a name but I wouldn't be a name if they didn't let me in. Sooo I managed to go other routes and by the time I was invited to the party I had a better party of my own going on anyway. 

I'd always felt like the publishing scene was too much of a two party system with Batman-whatever on one side and Fantagraphics indie on the other-- and as much as I enjoy that stuff, neither of those were really the comics that I was about. Even that is different now. so good. Onward and upward.

I think the main challenges now for me are all in the work, where they should be. I'm also very interested in comics as a scene and helping to make things more like I would like them. I want more ins for all kinds of creators and more challenges in the work-- The work that kills me in comics is still often outside comic shelves-- like Deforge or Emily Carroll or EK Weaver. It's important to me to try and do work on the same level as those guys.

I feel like comics is in a great spot as far as what the readers are looking for now. (especially at Image, where I'm at) The readers seem up for whatever we've got-- and enough of them want to be challenged. Like "what else can you give us--where else have you got to go?" We are in exciting times.
This was my facebook background for a solid year.

TFQ: Your work has such unique coloring. There is a lot of use of pastels giving everything a very playful feel when the subject matter is intended for adults. For instance, Multiple Warheads. How do you chose your pallet?

Brandon: I feel like there's something about the juxtaposition of more cartoony images or colors with more adult subject matter that I think works well. 
My pal Tom Herpich's work is a great example of that. 

I feel like my taste in colors is set 20 years back. Whenever I look at older Moebius or Bode work-- it's like "ohh that's where I got that!" I mean, hopefully what I do is my own thing but I'm often thinking of the work that excited me. 

I like the colors not to over power the lines.  So I think that's what makes me aim to keep it all light and flat. Recently the colors of my significant other Marian, have been influencing me a lot. I used to feel like I was always running out of colors but the way she works is so much more about the tones of things-- so a color page can be mostly all greys or browns but different shades of the same color. Thinking that way has made coloring much more fun for me.

Also, the artists Little Thunder's work is big deal to me as far as color. The way she uses white is amazing. 

TFQ: If you could work with anyone, which artists or writer do you most want to work with?

Brandon: It was a really big deal for me to be able to work with Adam Warren recently. I'd grown up on his comics and was already a huge fan of Empowered. Unfortunately, the issue we did printed a lot darker that I would've liked. I think how in comics the final thing is often a little out of your hands. 

I'd like to work off of something Marian wrote someday and there`s always artists like Patrick McEown or Rebecca Sugar. Finding someway to collaborate with them would be fun.

I'm pretty excited about some of the new dudes I'm working with on Prophet: Ron Ackins, Grim Wilkins, and this time with Matt Sheean and Malachi Ward on colors. 

But yeah, I see myself mostly slowing down working with other people in the future. I love doing it but writing and drawing my own stuff has always been the most fun for me. 

TFQ: Can you tell me what kinda of upcoming projects you have? Do you have any plans to release another series illustrated and written by yourself? 

Brandon: 8house, is the next thing to come out. It`s a series of comics all set in the same universe. I`m working with Marian and Xurxo Penalta on those and then Emma Rios and Hwei Lim and Fil Barlow are all doing other books in the same line. 

Then some other things that haven't been announced yet and yeah, I`ve been working on more Warheads recently.

I`m really looking forward to doing some self contained stories in the near future too. I`ve been looking at a lot of Moebius comics from the 80`s and 70`s and what hits me the hardest are his short comics. I like seeing those slivers of worlds. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Interview: Q&A with Mike Allred

One of my favorite artists in the whole world is Mike Allred and I know I'm not alone. So I jumped at a the chance to pick his brain. His work has been published across the board by Marvel, DC, Vertigo, Darkhorse, Image, etc. He's worked with such writers as Neil Gaiman, Bill Willingham and Peter Milligan. He even had a movie appearance in Kevin Smith's Chasing Amy and responsible for the Bluntman and Chronic artwork in the film. Right now you can check out his latest project, the Silver Surfer. I decided to focus on Allred's career as a whole rather than focus on the latest project despite how much I love it. Here's what Mike Allred had to say: 

TFQ: Your work has been described as "Kirby Kool". How does this make you feel?

Mike: I can't imagine a compliment that would mean more to me personally, simply because Jack "The King" Kirby is my absolute favorite comic book creator. Period.  Of course I realize my work could ever hold a candle to his.  In fact, sometimes I go out of my way NOT to do something how he would do it because of failing by comparison.  But that my work can be even remotely considered mentioned in context to his is very moving and encouraging.

TFQ: What kind of comics were you into as a kid? Why did they appeal to you?

Mike: I pretty much loved everything when I was a kid.  If it was comic book, I dug it.  I became more discerning as I got older.  I was probably 17 before I started realizing that I had favorite artists like Kirby, Ditko, Barry Windsor-Smith, Romita, Bruno Premiani, Kubert, Toth, Buscema, Moebius, etc.  And it was probably their unique qualities that drew me to them.

TFQ: Do you plan to finish the Golden Plates project? Any plans to revive this perhaps through Kickstarter?

Mike: No plans.  I know we did our very best and it was exhausting.  It was also hurtful when Deseret Books didn't distribute the books like we'd believed they would.  I would have to have someone drop a giant chest of money in front of me to even consider it. We had built a nest egg where we jumped into it without worrying about money.  But when I started on the fourth volume, the money was gone as well as the support from Deseret.  So, unless I could do it in that environment where I could immerse myself into it without any other concerns…it's too painful to even consider it otherwise.

TFQ: What happened with Legend? Can you describe the situation from your point of view?
Mike: Legend may have been the absolute best career boost I have had.  I benefited greatly by just being invited to join those guys and be associated with them in any way.  They were the Legends.  I was the unknown upstart who was allowed to step into a giant spotlight.  The natural progression would have been for Legend to form it's own publishing company they way Image moved from an imprint of Malibu Comics to become it's own company.  But everyone was happy with Dark Horse and didn't want to make that leap.  Eventually as everyone became involved in other things, the imprint didn't seem to be a priority and simply dissolved.

TFQ: Something I ask everyone~ what is your favorite project to date?
Mike: It's almost always the one I'm currently working on.  So right now I'd have to say Silver Surfer.  And, of course, MADMAN, since it's the most personal and consistently gratifying mainstay in my career.
Silver Surfer

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Shutter #4

Finally got a chance to read this. A few days late I know but it's hard being a comic book journalist during release work at the software plant. For the record, I'm a technical writer and I don't actually work at a plant, I just like to call my office that.... anyway....

I was so curious to meet our heroine's siblings but that hasn't happened yet in this issue. The anticipation is kind of killing me. We did get a few clues on who or what these siblings may be. I'm starting to get the impression that they are manifestations of Kate's father's adventures. Perhaps he dreamed them into existence. I don't feel as though they are actually REAL siblings.

As with previous issues, Del Duca stretches her art muscles by playing with different styles. The first three pages being particularly macabre and gothic. Quite lovely and my favorite panels in this issue. Also of note would be the platypus character who is homicidal-ly awesome and super cute for a murderer.

I'd like to point out how nice it is to have "story so far" included on the back of the issue. It's so much easier for people like me who read X number of comics all the time and must refresh yourself constantly with the previous issue of this or that. Although it's not so neccessary for me with Shutter because this is a title that always stands out clearly in my memory. It's strikingly different to many of the series out there right now. After my interview with Del Duca last month I have a clearer insight into book.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Magnus, Robot Fighter by Fred Van Lente & Roberto Castro

Back in 1963 there was this Gold Key comic called Magnus, Robot Fighter 4000 A.D. (There was also a Valiant version that picked up where the Gold Key story left off. It debuted in 1991. I could also mention that there was a Darkhorse mini-series of 4 issues also published in 2009 but yeah... I didn't read it.) So that's my brief history lesson. I think I might have left out a few incarnations actually but those are the major ones.  Now it's 2014 and we've got another version of this story this time published through Dynamite. Writer Fred Van Lente best known for his work with the Conan series and artist Roberto Castro have teamed up to breathe new life into this title.

Yup, picking up this one. For the record, I hate it when comic books have nonsensical numbering. Starting a comic book series with the number zero makes me a little crabby. I've got to say, I picked this up and flipped through it in the store. Then I saw that amazing pink picture (the one at the bottom of this article). 

This story is supposed to center largely around robot fighter Leeja, or so has been my understanding. Although she's on the cover, she doesn't really seem to enter into it all that much. We mostly get a look at the life of robot in this world. The story is more of a stage set-up, which I guess means calling it issue zero makes sense....
I still don't like calling it issue zero. Sigh. The artwork really impressed me however. Maybe I'm a sucker for the coloring. What do you think?

Spread #1 by Justin Jordan & Kyle Strahm

written by Justin Jordan
art by Kyle Strahm

Strahm may have made it into my new favorite artists list, not that he's new. He's just more-so newly on my favorite artist list. Heh. Strahm has had various gigs with IDW, Boom and Image. Among the titles you can find Hack/Slash, We Will Bury You and the Coheed and Cambria title Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth. (For those of your less into music and more into just comics, Coheed and Cambria is a progressive alternative band that created comic books to accompany their music; or music to accompany their comic books depending on how you look at it. Their albums tell stories which the comic books also relate.)

So let's talk about Spread. Apparently, this issue has sold out on the distributor level. Always fantastic for a first issue but not unheard of. Image has trend of selling out of debut issues and then not selling any in succession. Here are my thoughts: I love the coloring, love the alien-esq beast known as the spread with all it's red tentacles. The imagery within this comic book is outstanding. Strahm's action panels grab the eye's attention and the minds fear. It's really Jordan's story that troubles me. There is a striking lack of originality and seems a bit rehashing of the typical post-apocalyptic story where one survivor is in charge of a young person's life. I am reminded of Sweet Tooth here among a wide variety of novels and movies. The Road, 28 Weeks Later to name a couple. I even started thinking about the X-Men's Hope who helped bring mutants back into the world and finally, I started thinking about Brian K. Vaughan's Saga. Why Saga you ask? Spread is narrated by this little baby known as Hope, who you get the impression, grows up to save humanity since you know -she's narrating the story.

So while I found the story ultimately entertaining, and the script well-written, I did feel as though this was a little of the same old-same old. When you keep getting that familiar feeling while reading a story you kind of wonder. I am one of those people who can be faulted with constantly seeking something new and exciting. At the same time, I can appreciate a well-told story even if the plot is a re-hashing of stories I've heard before.

I haven't had the pleasure of reading much of Jordan's work although I am familiar with Dead Body Road, Shadowman and of course the Green Latern. If anyone wants to send me review copies, I will of course read them but let's just say, I have a limited budget and his work isn't exactly on my hit list. That being said, I will be picking up the second issue of Spread. I've fallen in love with Strahm's work in this issue and I think Jordan can tell a story well, I just hope that the plot develops more original ideas and events.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Foligatto by Nicolas de Crécy & Alexios Tjoyas

Written by Alexios Tjoyas
Art by Nicolas de Crécy

Foligatto is a grotesque Gothic tale about an Opera singer who's destiny was traded for that of another's. This story begins in the city of Eccenihilo. It is up to the mayor to attempt to decrease the civil unrest by putting on a great carnival where the citizens will not be subjected to law and may let their blood lust run rampant. They even intend to have a festive execution! The great Foligatto comes home to sing and perform for a few nights in his home town. 

I would describe this book as grotesquely beautiful. I feel in absolute lust with with artwork. Crecy's delicate and frail characters are haunting. No one is beautiful in this city and their humanity is terrifying. Most of the town is homicidal without thought. Crecy includes beautiful tapestries throughout his book. The patterns really make the story come alive. He also uses Gothic style of architecture to create his panels which allows the reader to really be sucked into this curious world. 

Crecy actually worked for Disney is France before creating this graphic novel. The reception that surrounded it was astounding. Critics were kissing the cover (okay well not really). Even if you have no interest in the twisted story of this Opera singer, the artwork will blow you away. It's certainly worth picking up if only to admire every panel. 

Humanoid Inc sent me a copy of this digitally for review, but I will be looking to order my own awesome hardcover edition for sure. You should too.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Batman Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by David McKean

Since reading Paul Pope's Year 100 I have decided to read more Batman. So I thought I'd go for the most popular items. I picked up the 15th Anniversary Edition of Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. The book was originally published in 1989. This book gives you the original script at the back so it's all deluxe like. Ya know. Sorry, I feel like speaking all yokle-like on account of watching this terrible video this morning... anyway...

This particular story goes back to the original owner of the asylum. We get a little history but unfortunately so does one of the current doctors and he goes a little mad. You see he released all the inmates. They have taken over the asylum and it's up to Batman to put it all right. He must face all of his most deadly foes, and of course that includes The Joker. Do you write The Joker with a capital T?? I think I will because he's the most important Batman villain. Well the most notable... most famous.

This Arkham Asylum book was ranked number 4 as one of the top 25 Batman stories of all time. Which is actually saying something since you know, there's a whole lot of Batman. One aspect that have been praised, beside the amazing art work and awesome story, is the unique lettering. Gaspar Saladino's lettering style has been praised by critics everywhere for about 40 some odd years. He's the one who gave the joking this wild maniacal red lettering as well as lending specific fonts and type face to specific characters. I might be the only person who loves The Joker's red lettering for how it fits in with the panels and becomes a part of the artwork itself. However, I HATE reading it. It's sooo hard on my eyes. It takes effort to read and that makes me cranky. Saladino however is credited with giving this typeface to The Joker. His extensive career had him working for both DC and Marvel through the 60's, 70's and onward. The reason I know him is mostly due to his work on Hellblazer in the 90's.
If you are not a big Batman fan, this is still a must read for comic book enthusiasts as it has influenced much of the comics that happened in the 90's. The artwork is completely timeless. I still to this day feel that it was ahead of it's time when comparing it to other DC works published in the 80's. I'll just say it one more time.. soooo beautiful. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Northern Highlights: Q&A with Emily Carroll

Thanks for checking out another Northern Highlights article where we talk to Canadian comic book artists and creators. I was lucky to get an advanced copy of Emily Carroll's upcoming book "Through the Woods" which is being release July 15th. I also got to ask her some questions about the book. You can check out my review of the book HERE but first please check out my Q&A with Canadian author and illustrator Emily Carroll. Be warned there are some small spoilers but nothing that will impact your curiosity and wonder in the stories.

TFQ: Through the Woods contains stories inspired by fairy tales. When we  think of fairy tales, many of us tend to think of stories that take place during medieval times. How did these fairy tales affect your childhood and do you think the fairy tale has an important place in modern life?

Emily: The first fairy tales that I heard the most when I was a kid were, to be honest, modern day urban legends. I didn’t realize they were popular folklore of course, I just thought they were terrifying stories from some book I’d never seen -- told to me and my cousins by my dad over, seriously, a roaring fire. Honestly, I didn’t start reading properly scary fairy tales -- as in Grimm’s and the like -- until I was maybe eight or nine. Until then it was all urban legends and folklore masquerading as scary stories for kids (as in the case of Alvin Schwartz’s amazing Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, which I only appreciate more and more as I get older). Those, and myths from Ancient Greece or Egypt, were what I loved reading most.

I think these stories still work because they do away with all the trappings of being overworked and just deliver a pure, primal terror (or wonder, or joke, etc etc). There’s so many different versions that you can choose a favourite to tell, or put your own spin on it without detracting from the original too much. You don't even necessarily need a book to read them from. The characters aren’t laboured, and are largely archetypal -- I think they’re pretty accessible, particularly for children, who have the capacity for accepting the weird logic these sorts of stories tend to have.

TFQ: Your stories each contain a twists on classic folk & fairy tales. They contain indefinite endings which play on the readers fear of the unknown. What really happened to the main characters at the end of each story. In particular the ending of "His Face All Red".  ( I had developed a theory that the dead brother didn't come back and that the main character was driven mad by his actions as he claimed his brothers place in the lime light. But then the ending threw a curve ball at me.)

Emily: Honestly, I generally don’t know what happened to them, because by that point the story’s over and I’ve told all I set out to tell (except for Mabel in The Nesting Place -- I like to think she goes on to become a paranormal investigator and hunts monsters).

I’ve received this question for “His Face All Red” many times though, mostly because it’s been up on the internet for years now and seems to get a new punch of traffic every Halloween. So I will say this about “His Face” -- the story ends in blackness, in a small space, with the two brothers confronting each other at last, and I’ve always liked to think of it as a curtain falling. Whatever those two characters have to work out, it is intensely personal, and must be done alone, without even the light of a lantern intruding. I can’t think of anything scarier that would happen past that moment than the simple visual of the light going out and the protagonist being forced to do nothing else but face his demons alone.

In general though people read that story a number of ways -- including the way you mentioned -- and I think it’s cool and I’ve liked a lot of the interpretations. I wrote the story pretty literally though. Actually, I’ve revisited the same setting again and again -- that specific forest -- in other webcomics such as “Margot’s Room” and “Out of Skin”. I think of it as a haunted place, one which plucks out your deepest, most shameful fear (or hope) and delivers it to you -- after a fashion.

TFQ: In the fairy tales many of us grew up with, central female characters are portrayed as naive and often blamed for their own misfortune despite the acknowledgement of the existence of "evil". When I read the stories in Through the Woods, I don't feel as though your stories have the same cautionary intentions as those fair tales. Was this a conscious effort on your part to create a more positive role for female characters and place more fault on the antagonist?

Emily: I wouldn’t say it was conscious, no -- in general I try to write pretty intuitively, and then examine what I’ve written as I go. I do have a preference for writing women characters though. Actually it wasn’t until I’d written all the stories for the book (excluding “His Face All Red” which was written a year earlier than any of these, for my website) that my wife pointed out all the main characters in the book are women or girls, whether they are the heroes or the villains.

I would also hesitate to call any of the characters I’ve written as positive, necessarily. I think, of any genre, horror is a place to let a hero exhibit less than stellar character traits and yet still -- by virtue of their terrifying situation -- let them be sympathetic somehow.  So I guess in the way that I hope they are human characters, capable of missteps and mistakes just like anyone else, then that is a positive portrayal in and of itself. Yvonne, the narrator in “My Friend Janna”, is supposed to be cowardly, just as the heroine in “A Lady’s Hands Are Cold” is actually intended to be rather naive, and both of their stories are about them brushing up against that truth about themselves and the reckoning that follows.

I will admit though, I think this book is largely informed by those cautionary tales I was told as a kid, and that this is just how it’s come out down the line after being sifted through my subconscious. Especially the final story, with the wolf at the window.

TFQ: For me, the most disturbing and shocking illustrations are in The Nesting Place. What was your inspiration for this story?

Emily: Though the story actually takes place in the early 1930s, Rebecca’s design was inspired by fashion plates from the 1920s. These are the ones that depict very tall, thin, elegant-yet-sporty women as the pinnacle of health and good looks, while at the same time looking extremely stylized and decorative in terms of proportions, eyes, posing etc. By that point I’d already had the idea for a monster that inhabits borrowed skin and stretches it to change appearance in order to infiltrate human society -- and the idea of such a creature inhabiting a body and manipulating it to look like an Erté drawing seemed like a good fit (in large part because I love Erté and it would be fun to drawing a character like that).

I also liked the idea of this creature being able to hide in plain sight because she is able to pull off this strange, almost artistic, ideal beauty, but that it’s just a trick she is capable of, like juggling or any other sleight of hand. I wanted Rebecca to be very knowing and aware of what she is doing. So I think those shocking images you mention -- which are my most wanton gross-outs in the book, I admit it -- are almost representative of Rebecca bragging, showing off for Mabel, who has already seen what she truly looks like.

For more information about Emily's work please visit:
Through the Woods is released on July 15th so be sure you get your copy from your local comic book retailer or pre-order online.