Friday, January 30, 2015

Meka by JD Morvan & Bengal

I thought I would do something a little different today and post a book that was released in North America a few months back. This just happens to be another book by one of my favorite illustrators Bengal. If you've read this blog before at all, you've heard me go on and on about his work. Books like Naja and Luminae live in a world that is very much like how my dreams look.

Meka is a futuristic struggle between a corporal and her superior as they attempt to retreat from civilian territory. They encounter hostility and violence as they try to leave the scene of a massive explosion caused accidentally by their own equipment. The locals are abusive and moved to violence despite the fact that the military's presence is required to defend against alien invaders.

A vast range of emotions are experienced by the two soldiers as they push through the hostile territory of those they are sworn to protect. So many stories focus on soldiers as plot devices and cannon fodder without ever giving you much insight into the individuals themselves. Writer JD Morvan  is gives you an intensely close look at two soldiers. You see how training can alter behavior and opinions of some while others maintain their convictions regardless. I really enjoyed the moral struggles between the two soldiers and this is what ultimately makes the story.

Meka was released by Magnetic Press for distribution September 2014 for the first time in English. It's no secret that Bengal is one of my favorite artists. With sprawling urban settings turned battlefield, Meka shows a side of Bengal's artwork you have not been previously able to experience.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Wolverines #4

I know, why am I reading this?? Even this fourth issue is written by Fawkes who I think we all know I've been pretty unhappy with across all labels. From his vaguely illustrated Intersect on Image which who's impression was made even more vague by the script accompanying it, to his work on DC with Constantine and Futures End, I've been severely unhappy with him. Matter of fact, the only things he's put out in the last year that I even remotely liked was his more independently released book The People Inside. Fawkes aside, lets talk about the appearance of new character Fantomelle.

Fantomelle joins the Wolverines as a fellow escape of Paradise where she was created to be the perfect thief. She is now caught in the fold, with her little psychic fox (yes that's right, psychic fox), to help recover Wolverines' body from Sinister and maybe even save the lives of the rapidly declining Weapon X escapees. There you have it that's the plot. Now I wanted to talk about this Fantomelle character. See, I'm not overly impressed. For one, the fox is super cute but um... why is it a fox? On top of being gimicky, what does the fox say? Well it says a who lot of super intelligent non-fox things but only to Fantomelle. Why the hell would someone telepathically link anyone else to a fox? Why not something a bit more sneaky? Like a rat ? OOo, suddenly I want someone to link me to a giraffe... maybe then I can truly understand what it's like to be tall!

Fantomelle actually showed in the issue #3 while trying to acquire The Punisher's t-shirt for a specific client. It was fairly interesting...mostly because I like The Punisher. It was a quarky issue, better than issue #4 but I guess I'm bias. It's just that, not a whole lot happens in issue #4. It's a lot of set up and of course, Fawkes' usual vague allusions.

I wish Nick Bradshaw was still illustrating this but you know, the world is imperfect.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

They're Not Like Us #2

Man, I still don't know how I feel about this story. On one hand, I love the artwork. It's sooo down to earth, indie-tastic and well timed. The story however seems to rehashed to me. It really does feel like Professor Xavier's School for the criminally gifted rather than just gifted. We are talking some serious vigilante justice and it doesn't appear that their form of justice is even... well it doesn't fall under the category of justice. These people look like low-lives so far and the main character doesn't disagree. Yet, Simon Gane's art is so awesome that I don't want to stop reading it despite how I dislike the whiny main character and I'm not all for the plot. It's kinda boring and pretentious. I also can't tell if the writer is pretentious or if he's just trying to make all the characters appear that way.

One of the only characters I like in the book is a complete ass known as The Voice. Brian K. Vaughan's Saga has a pretty broad reach and appears to have left a little influence here. Characters like The Will and The Stalk have perhaps influenced a new wave of character titles. The Voice, is the dictator of the superhuman group in They're Not Like Us. He's kind of arrogant prick really who believes in retribution and revenge. Lots of other colorful "R" words. He's the actually the one I hate the least because he fully admits he's a jackass. I can sort of respect that... in a way.

I can't decide how far I should take this series. How deep into it should I bother to read? I think I'll give it a full story arc but I just hope it goes somewhere new and exciting. Issue two officially hits the stands today! If you're in London for instance, you may be staring at it on comic book display in store right now...

Exclusive Interview with Ryan Bodenheim on The Dying and The Dead

Image is known for great new series and The Dying and The Dead is no exception. It hits the shelves running today with a whopping 60 page debut issue!  New York Times Best Selling author Jonathan Hickman pulls us into a world of science fiction mystery where a man must make a decision on what he is willing to do to save his dying wife. This issue will take you places you've never been and Ryan Bodenheim is the one leading the way. I got the chance to ask him a few questions for you (and for me of course). 

TFQ: How did this project get started? How does it differ from the stories you've done in the past?

It started at Heroes Con over either dinner or lunch with Jon and we just started talking about what we wanted to do next, and then many, many hours on the phone going over story and characters. This book differs from my past work only in the sense that I feel like I know what I'm doing now. Working on this book has made me look back on books like Red Mass and Secret and I just see them as warm-up swings in comparison to what Jon and I are doing now.

TFQ: What is your process for character design?

Ryan: My process for most of my character designs involve questions, constantly asking questions. Questions about who the characters are, where are they from, who are the people they love, what drives them in life. I just keep asking myself questions and usually the answers provide the design right down to what kind of shoes they wear. I find doing it this way means I can find the look of the character much more efficiently than if I just sat down and started drawing multiple versions of the same character. The nice thing about working with Jon is he will always let me know if I didn't get it right.

TFQ: The vast cityscapes really sucked me into this world. Some of the mountain rages reminded me very much of Moebius. What was your inspiration for the look of the land and the architecture of the city?

I've always looked at backgrounds and settings as another character in the scene and another opportunity to tell more story. Jonathan told me once that out of everyone he ever worked with I ask about settings and locations more than anyone else, even when he describes a setting or scene with a ton of detail I always have more questions. The "City" was really more just a mix of Jon's ideas and then me running with it and trying to make it feel like a real place that people lived in. The city plays a big part in the story and especially in the first issue because it's the moment where the reader will realize what the scope of The Dying & The Dead will be.

TFQ: The first issue is very large, nearly 60 pages. Is there an added challenge to putting out such a large initial issue?

Ryan: It's a challenge in the sense that it's basically 3 issues worth of art and labor, but it's also a very liberating way of making a comic because we can let scenes breath if they need to and not worry about a page count and I think it ends up being much more satisfying for the reader as well.     

The Dying and The Dead is AVAILABLE TODAY at your local comic book retailer!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Exclusive Interview with Nicole Virella on Return of the Living Deadpool

The Return of the Living Deadpool is imminent on February 4th with a new four part limited series written by Cullen Bunn. Marvel welcomes the talent of Nicole Virella as illustrator for this series. I really loved the preview pictures Marvel released in anticipation for this series. I was able to ask Nicole about the series!

TFQ: How did you get involved with Return of the Living Deadpool?

Nicole: Jordan D. White, the current Deadpool editor, contacted me after a colleague of his showed him some samples of my work. That is how I got to work with writer, Cullen Bunn on this amazing series!

TFQ: How does the experience of working on "superhero" titles compare to some of the other illustration work you've done in the past?

Nicole: Well, this is the first comic project I've worked on that involves me penciling, inking, and coloring. It's great having that kind of control over my work, but it also means that I have to adhere to a much tighter schedule. But I don't think working on superhero or adventure titles differ from any other project I work on. I'm a storyteller; everything I do tells a story and I try to communicate that the best way I can.

TFQ: What can we expect from Return of the Living Deadpool? Any show stoppers or hints you can give us about the story?

Nicole: The story sort of picks up from where the last series left off. In the first issue, Deadpool befriends a teenage girl named Liz and they get into and out of all kinds of trouble throughout the four issues. Think The Professional meets The Last of Us. Also there are a ton of really cool looking Deadpools I got to design, which I hope people dig!

TFQ: There's a lot about your character design that reminded me personally of Paul Pope. For instance when I saw your work on Enslaved: Birthright. What artists do you draw inspiration from (if any) ?

Nicole: Thank you, that is extremely kind because Paul's work is amazing. It's funny, everyone seems to be drawn to that particular piece of mine. Those original characters are from Enslaved: Birthright, a fanfic my friend, Em Dash, wrote based on the videogame Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. The game's ending was left open-ended and sadly there won't be a sequel, which is what led us to create our subsequent fan pieces. Personally I'm inspired by a variety of artists, but as far as comics are concerned, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez is my favorite. He is a master storyteller and draftsman with such a keen sense of drama and emotion. I had the pleasure of meeting him two years ago at New York Comic Con and he was so lovely and encouraging, which meant a lot to me.

TFQ: Much of your work looks whimsical and based in fantasy. Truly beautiful. What are some of the kind of projects you would like to work on in the future?

Nicole: In the future, I want to get back into painting, specifically watercolor, which I was doing for a while and of course, work on more comic projects and maybe even do some concept work for a game company.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Colder: Bad Seed #4

OH MY GOD! You know I thought the first two issue had amazing creatures and horrific slaying of fingers... but no. This issue wins. WAY better creatures and superior finger amputation! I love me some creatures. Demons rock my world... well my comic world. Obviously I don't believe in demons... (or at least you can't make me admit that). Many of my all time favorite comics are based around demons and the world that hides behind our own. In the first two issues of Bad Seed, Declan must enter the world of demons and no it's not called Hell here, it's the hungry world. The demons in this world look awesome! It almost fits appropriately in the bodygore category.

Horror in comics is pretty everywhere right now. Darkhorse has always done horror best for me. They always license the best manga, and their books are so damn deluxe. I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't read the first Colder story arc. A mistake I wish to correct asap. 

Paul Tobin, also known for Bandette, is an Eisner Award winner and it really shows because he's crafted such a consuming tale. It'll get your phalanges waving! I am really hoping that this Colder series continues. I want more after this arc. I'll petition for it ! Or maybe just complain loudly if another series isn't produced in the new year. For now, we're in luck, Issue five will be in stores February 25th. However you can grab THIS issue on Wednesday!

When you think of amazing horror, what is that pops into your mind? Comics only. Don't start talking about movies to me :P

Royal Jelly: Jan 28

Colder Badseed #4
Multiversity Guidebook
Arkham Manor #4
Bodies #7
Dying and the Dead #1
Rasputin #4
They're Not Like Us #2
Bitch Planet #2
Spiderman and the X-men #2
Thor #4
Wolverines #4
Uncanny Avengers #1

Eye of Newt Hardcover

Mentionables: Alex and Ada #12

It's a good week! This week there are actually a few DC titles for me. The Multiversity Guide book comes out and I've been pretty pumped for this. I really hope it fills in some holes for me. On top of that we've got the 4th issue of Arkham Manor. I really like this Batman story and illustrator Shawn Crystal! From Vertigo we have Bodies which is nearly coming to a close with only one more issue to follow next month. Will we get to learn whose body is travelling through time and space?

I'm actually going to grab some Marvel this week as well. With the impending ending to the current Marvel Universe  (and Ultimate Universe), I still haven't completely decided if I'm going to be grabbing the new Uncanny Avengers title but if you're a huge Avengers fan it should be on your radar. This picks of from the ashes of AXIS and written by the great Rick Remender, who I actually like. I'm actually kinda happy that Marvel decided not to employ Charles Soule and Ray Fawkes for this one. I was starting to feel like their hands were in every story.

Last year legendary fantasy illustrator Michael Hague released his first graphic novel as a four part mini series from Darkhorse. This week you can get the series collected in a beautiful hard cover edition. Darkhorse really knows how to put out a hardcover. This is really a beautiful fabric bound book.

Of course, this is a great week for Image. I'm a huge fan of Riley Rossmo and his Rasputin series is EPIC. It's dark and beautiful. A very haunting reflection on the life of Rasputin, spun into a fictional story fitting of such legend. I look forward to it's release every month!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Dark God's #3

Justin Jordan is a busy writer. I'm especially fond of his monster laced work. I dunno if I ever actually stated the reason I really like Dark Gods. I love conspiracy theories. Oh don't get me wrong, I don't believe like- any of them. I actually don't think the human race is intelligent enough to pull of a successful conspiracy like the ones floating around online. We're just too stupid and we don't get along. I suspect there would be constant betrayals in all secret societies which would cause them to implode. Maybe the one way it might work is if there's one dude just using everyone. Like the guy behind this time-tripping chaos house in this last issue of Dark Gods. Maybe, this could work. The only conspiracy that I kinda wish were real that I think would explain some shit, are the Reptoid conspiracies. Now that shit, I would get behind is it just wasn't so completely ridiculous.

Have I mentioned that I love murder houses? Not real ones,but ones in books. This one reminds me a bit of that episode in Buffy where they all go to a Halloween party where a fear demon was accidentally unleashed. Time and space have no meaning and everyone is confronting terrible fears. I have a theory that I relate anything to an episode of Buffy. Anyway, I really like this chaos house. Of course telling yourself it's not real, in THIS house isn't going to work and the crew ultimately has to devise a much more interesting plan of shorting-out the lightning imbued home.

Dark Gods is a lot of fun. Monster pretty much float my boat. I was a scoobie fan as a child because I love all the different monsters. So in comics, I'm right there too. Although this cover bears no relevance to the actual story, I guess German has a thing for scaly demon chicks... and most of the comic book world probably does too...

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Exclusive Interview with the Creators of Curb Stomp!

Two weeks ago I released a list of the Most Promising New Series of 2015. On that list was a new series called Curb Stomp which Boom Studios is releasing Feb 25. The story centers around a street punk girl gang made, who have some of the best names ever:  Machete Betty, Derby Girl, Bloody Mary, Daisy Chain, and Violet Volt. They get involved in turf wars and some of the old ultra violence. 

This beautifully illustrated new series welcomes the talent of Devaki Neogi and expertly written by Ryan Ferrier (D4VE). They even brought Tula Lotay on board for the first cover which is gorgeous! Tula is seriously one of my favorite artists right now. Devaki is quickly making that list as well! You will not be disappointed! Both Ryan and Devaki were awesome enough to answer some questions about the series for myself and all my readers!

TFQ: Can you tell me a little in your own words what Curb Stomp is all about and what we can expect from it?

Ryan: Curb Stomp is all about what happens in lawless boroughs when the balance of power is pushed between the gangs that protect their turf. It's about five women that are forced over the edge and must push back. It's about survival and punk rock and standing up for everything you know and love, and saying "no." Curb Stomp is a lot of things with many messages, but at it's core it's a gang war story that takes place across three boroughs, each protected by their own gang. Our main gang, The Fever, find themselves in a real hot mess when an altercation with another gang member sets in motion a plot to consume the boroughs, one that reaches all the way to the big, rich, metropolitan city.

What you can expect from Curb Stomp is a whole lot of violence, a whole lot of style, a whole lot of women bashing some teeth out, a whole lot of justice, and a whole lot of twists and turns and alliances and betrayals and fun and humor and a whole lot of heart.

TFQ: So I'm fairly certain that Machete Betty is who I actually am, and The Frog Queen is just my alter ego. How did you create these characters? Where did they come from?

Ryan: Hello, Betty! I think you're so far 2 for 2 for totally kick-ass alter egos then. The Fever came naturally to us. As we were developing the story, they just kind of fell into place. The names were honestly the easiest part f creating them, as I wanted five bad-ass sounding genre names that really worked well together. From there we began building these characters from that and realizing their motives and where they came from and where they are going; what drives them and pushes their buttons. Each member of The Fever is really very different, but they all compliment each other and they all have their own arcs and goals and flaws and strengths. We're all really proud of these characters and can't wait to tell their stories; whether they're revealed to be tragic or devious or triumphant remains to be seen.

TFQ: Which character is your favorite? Do you have a favorite?

Ryan: I can't pick a favorite! These characters are my kids, my babies, and that would be like asking a real parent to choose their favorite. Which is actually kind of hilarious because I'm so sure every parent has a favorite kid and one that they're like "ehhhh they're okay...". I love all of these characters for many different reasons, they each have their own voice and a part of me in there. I will say that I do have a particular fondness for writing Violet Volt because she rarely has a filter when she speaks, and is outrageous and hilarious. She's a lot of fun to write.

TFQ: Can you tell me how you came to work with Devaki and how this project got started?

Ryan: I remember seeing Devaki's work on twitter I believe, a couple of years ago at least, and was immediately blown away. I then followed her on social media and checked out her work--I think I first saw her work for Mumbai Confidential (Archaia) that was just jaw-dropping. At the time I was planting the seeds for what would become Curb Stomp, and I reached out to Devaki. The rest, as they say, is history, and she's been really involved and excited and just a wonderful collaborator. It was a very simple but very cool partnership, and one that's pretty typical in comics. But it's been awesome working with her.

TFQ: What can you tell me about your process for this project? How do you begin to write this kind of story?

Ryan: I think there's a certain head space one has to get into for this type of story. It's a very delicate balancing act of a few different genres; a few different lenses to look through, without staring too hard through any one in particular. My process was very much getting in touch with a fair amount of perspectives and injustices and issues affecting people, which hasn't always been pleasant. This story has heart and meaning and it's very important but also deals with sensitive issues, so that's something we're always very, very aware of. I've listened to an endless amount of very fast, very hard music, though that's been a part of my life as long as I can remember. I think, as unremarkable as it sounds, we all just dived right in and really worked our hearts out, then from there refined our story, our issues, our arcs, and what these characters are trying to do and say. I can't say enough good about Eric (Harburn) and Jasmine (Amiri), our editorial team, as they have been so amazing to work with and imperative in shaping this story in the best possible way.

TFQ: Devaki, how did you begin to create the appearance of the chatters and what inspirations did you use? 

Devaki: Creating the look for the characters initially came from the story line that Ryan had provided along with the descriptions that he had laid down for each of them. Essentially the very feel of the story gave me the cue to work upon the looks that I eventually build up. The personalities traits as described by Ryan also helped in fleshing them out to what they looked like at the end finally.

TFQ: What influences have impacted your work for this series? 

Devaki: I did not draw any specific influences from anywhere. Its was the script foremost that had driven me to do it the way its shaping up. The story line with its heart in the right place spoke volumes about the real issues we deal with in the series. I build everything by closely trying to understand each of the characters lives and how they got impacted with the events that takes place through the narrative.

TFQ: How does Curb Stomp differ from projects you have done in the past?

Devaki: The very story itself is different from anything I have done before.Also what was different was the team of people I am working with. It is absolutely such a joy to work with them. Besides the treatment that we are giving to the artwork is very different from whats been done in any of my previous projects. I am eagerly waiting for final product to come out in the open!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Valiant #2

As a prelude to the return of Bloodshot, The Valiant comes at us with a four part special mini. Fully illustrated by the amazing Paolo Rivera. The series sets up the relaunch of Ninjak and Bloodshot, each with their own separate series set for release in the coming months.

This issue is even better than the first for me. We get to see what the Geomancer will face!What shape the great evil will take. Ninjak also faces one of his worst fears...

The Valiant exists in our universe, on Earth but full of supernatural action. So supernatural in fact that characters start seeing villains from their childhood stories in the flesh. I think that might be my favorite part of the book. This is a seriously creepy villain who reminded me a lot of the "gentlemen" from the Buffy episode Hush. Man those were creepy!

Seriously creepy right?
This issue is pretty gigantic. Valiant is releasing these as a prestige series and why wouldn't they with iconic Valiant characters like Ninjak and Bloodshot. The commentary at the end of the issue is especially interesting for those who love to see the breakdown of process.

I am really interested to see how the fourth issue is going to end. Where are Ninjak and Bloodshot going to be left in the end. If you haven't already, please check out my interview with artist Paolo Rivera. We chat about The Valiant and more!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Royal Jelly: Jan 21 2015

Dark Gods #3
Burning Fields #1
The Kitchen #3
The October Faction #4
AutumnLands Tooth & Claw #3 (skottie young variant)
Rumble #2
Spread #5
Wolverines #3
Powers #1 (marvel)
Valiant #2
Teen Titans #6 (Michael Allred The Flash 75 Variant Cover)

North 40 (new edition)

Lots of fun stuff this week! It's turned into the week of the crazy monsters! Rumble #2 hits the stands this week. You can read my review just below this article. This is my favorite new series of 2014.
So much red!!

Justin Jordan's titles line up on the same release day with Spread and Dark Gods. Both full of crazy monsters and killer action. In case you're not tired of monsters and demons there's a new series out from Boom Studios! Burning Fields #1 is written by Michael Moreci and Tim Daniel, full illustrated by Colin Lorimer. This series sells itself as a geopolitical drama...but you know, with monsters.

Steve Niles is giving us another dose of  family drama and supernatural battles with The October Faction #4.

Mack Variant
Marvel is still at it with the weekly Wolverines series. In a couple weeks I'll give me thoughts on the series to date. Also from Marvel comes Powers #1 written by the great Bendis. It's actually coming out from the creator owned ICON imprint. Bendis has revamped the series and launched it straight into the land of the on-going. The first issue is double sized! So.. let's see how that one goes shall we?

Phew, less red.
Thought it was trying to take over the page.
If you're looking for your dose of anthropomorphic fantasy, you'll be please because issue 3 of Tooth and Claw is finally out! In case you missed it, the series is now titles AutumnLands Tooth & Claw due to some licensing issues with the original name.

A little side note, if you haven't read North 40, there is going to be a new edition released! If you don't know what North 40 is then allow me to enlighten you. In my opinion, this is one of the best representations of Fiona Staples work. It's truly beautiful and action packed. You also might have guessed, it's got some supernatural craziness happening. Also from Vertigo is another awesome edition of The Kitchen. This might be the only non-monster filled book on my list today! Well, unless you count mobsters in the monster category.

Rumble #2

I, unlike so many, actually waited until the completion of 2014 to release my opinions on the "Best Comics in 2014". For all those who did not wait and feverishly posted their opinions in December (as if putting them out first made you omnipotent or something?), they missed out on naming what has got to be the best first issue of the year. It just happened to come out rather late in December. I actually named Rumble, Best New Series. After reading issue one, I immediately went to the creators with questions.  The talent behind so many great Hellboy and B.P.R.D titles, team up again to bring us something truly exceptional. Check out my interview with James Harren and John Arcudi HERE.

Issue two drops this Wednesday giving us more information on what is really happening in this supernatural tale. Without spoiling it all for you, let me tell you a bit about what really stood out to me: CREATURES! What kind of creatures? Well I'm not going to tell you! NAH NAH!! Fine, so there is a six headed creature and of course, our scarecrow-like demon friend Rathraq. He speaks! We get some answers. 

I'm such a huge Harren fan. His creatures are extremely creative. The overall appearance of Rathraq really gave me shivers initially, although I suspect he's not such a bad guy... for a demon. I'm sorta leaning towards that feeling I get when I really love an artists work. I start saying things like "he/she should illustrate everything!". I mean it, EVERYTHING! I wanna see some creepy ass looking children's books illustrated by Harren. Anyway, I've gone off topic- initial point, you are not going to be the least bit disappointed by this issue. Now if you excuse me, I have to go draw six headed monsters and cats. You'll see why.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Exclusive Interview with Dirk Manning on Tales of Mr. Rhee

Last week marked the release of the third issue in the Tales of Mr.Rhee, a post apocalyptic story like no other! Writer & columnist Dirk Manning was able to tell me about the series and how it all came about! Man does this guy ever know how to answer a question! Here we go:

TFQ: How on EARTH did you give birth to TALES OF MR. RHEE? I actually think it may have been conceived in the some corner of universe where people turn into Reavers.

DIRK: So… you want me to tell you the very earliest of the TALES OF MR. RHEE, eh? [laughs]
Long story short, TALES OF MR. RHEE really came to fruition when, about a decade ago, I was approached by an aspiring all-horror cable channel and asked if I would be willing to create some online horror comic content for them. They had discovered my horror comic series NIGHTMARE WORLD online through the Image Comics/Shadowline website, and wanted something like that, but, in their own words “Even more horror.”

After a few conversations with them I realized what they wanted was not something so-much in the vein of the more cerebral/psychological/Twilight Zone vein of things (like NIGHTMARE WORLD), but something a bit more… extreme.

Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of most extreme horror, but I welcomed the challenge and started to look around in the darkest corners of my mind for something to pitch to them. I stumbled upon a specifically dark corner in which I envisioned a scene with a wizard of some sort trying to control demons by channeling them through the fetus of pregnant women, and then Mr. Rhee sauntered out of the darkness and said, without so much as even an introduction, “You know I ain’t gonna let somethin’ like this happen.”

I was like “Who the Hell are you?” to this character who I didn’t know lived in my brain, and he replied “Mr. Rhee.”

He’s lived there ever since, and I’ve grown quite fond of the guy, flaws and all.
The cable company folded before I was able to formally get anything going with them concerning Mr. Rhee, but myself and artist Josh Ross ended-up publishing 13 eight-pages featuring the character (with the first one featuring a variation of the above-mentioned scene) online alongside – and then surpassing – NIGHTMARE WORLD, and he immediately became a HUGE hit with readers (RHEE-ders?), ever since.

Oh… and, since you brought-up The Reavers, let me just add “Browncoats forever!” [laughs]

TFQ: Can you tell me how TALES OF MR. RHEE: “Karmageddon” got started?

DIRK: After I teamed-up with Devil’s Due to run a very successful Kickstarter for a collected print edition of those first 13 stories titled TALES OF MR. RHEE Volume 1: “Procreation (of the Wicked)”, the next question was, obviously, where to go next.

People were losing their minds after the end of the first series, and were anxious to know how Mr. Rhee – this character who people tend to fall in love with pretty quickly – was going to get out of the mess he found himself in… so I of course responded by announcing TALES OF MR. RHEE Volume 2: “Karmageddon” would largely be a prequel to the events of the first series. [laughs]
In Volume 1 people really got to know who Mr. Rhee was, but I also wanted to explore how he got to be the man he became, you know? The “tortured, cryptic, monster-hunter” trope has been done to death… but as people read TALES OF MR. RHEE Volume 1 they saw that he was this very complex – and flawed – person. Someone at a convention came up to me one time, revealed that he was a psychologist, and asked me if Mr. Rhee had “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” which caused me to high-five him, because he was exactly right. I mean, really, how can you live in a world that denies monsters and demons still exist and function, you know?

I knew for a long time that the second full story I wanted to tell about Mr. Rhee would be a prequel set during the Armageddon/Rapture mentioned a few times in the first book. How did Mr. Rhee survive for the three days the devil held dominion over the Earth?
It ends-up he spent those three demon-filled days trying to protect five orphaned siblings... and that his success in saving them all is limited, at best.

TFQ: What led you to collaborate with artist Seth Damoose for this story?

DIRK: I’d worked with Seth Damoose a few times on NIGHTMARE WORLD, and had been a fan of his work for a long time even before that. Over the course of working on NIGHTMARE WORLD together we began attending some conventions together, too, and became pretty good friends.
Seth has a style that’s very… a don’t want to use the word “cartoony”… but… animated. As such, I thought it would be really cool to work with him on a very dark story, as I don’t think enough horror comics are willing to juxtapose a more animated style of art with really dark subject matter, with Eric Powell of THE GOON being one of the only exceptions. A lot of creators – and, honestly, a lot of editors and readers, too, apparently – think that all horror comics should be cloaked in nothing but blacks or something. It works well for Mike Mignola’s HELLBOY books because that’s the look of the world he created, but with that notable (and fantastic, I might add) exception, I think way too many creators default back to lots of black and shadow when they shouldn’t. I think too many of them mistake their comics for movies or something. [laughs]

Anyway, given that Josh Ross was making his move into full-time tattooing, I knew I needed to work with someone else for TALES OF MR. RHEE: “Karmageddon”, and a few of the artists I worked with on various stories for NIGHTMARE WORLD were all in very serious contention… but then Seth drew a few character sketches that sealed the deal on the spot.

Seth is a very expressive artist, and it became clear to me that no one would be able to illustrate the raw emotional power needed to tell this story as well as he could. Period.

You then add Anthony D. Lee’s colors to the mix – especially his very stark use of reds and a few others (wait until you all see “the blue scene” in Issue #4), and you have a very different-looking – but incredibly powerful – horror comic story that will invest you in these characters and the many trials, tribulations, and horrors that befall them as the four-issue mini-series goes on.

TFQ: This is the second TALES OF MR. RHEE story. How many Rhee stories do you have? What is in his future?

DIRK: Well, in his very last story he… KIDDING! KIDDING! No spoilers here! [laughs]
Despite TALES OF MR. RHEE: “Karmageddon” being primarily a prequel story, it is told in flashback, and we see that Mr. Rhee did indeed survive the terrible situation he finds himself in at the ending of Volume 1… with the help of Charity from The P.R.O.M.I.S.E. Group, of course.
As of this writing I have several of the scripts for TALES OF MR. RHEE Volume 3 already in the hands of the artists, as with Volume 3 we’re going to tell five or six stand-alone stories, each focusing on a different character in the Mr. Rhee universe, in an order to really flesh-out and explore the post-Rapture world he now lives in, including who controls what, who’s after what, and what actions Mr. Rhee is going to take now that he has seen that he’s not alone in his knowledge that, yes, there are demons left, and many of them have begun to covertly integrated themselves more and more into society… for better and for worse. Expect to learn a lot more about Charity and The P.R.O.M.I.S.E. Group (what does it mean to seek the “Permanent Reduction of Monsters in Society Everywhere,” exactly?), Thelma Lushkin and Dumashine Enterprises (who really rules the most powerful cooperation in the world), Mr. Rhee’s old friend Brad Thomson (does a demon posing as a human radio DJ still have a place in Rhee’s new life?), and more.

Each issue in TALES OF MR. RHEE Volume 3 is going to be illustrated by a different artist, and I’m just over the moon about who I have working with me on this one, including some people I’ve worked with before as well as some people I’ve been wanting to work with for quite some time. It’s easily the biggest, and most ambitious, story I’ve told yet, and the pay-offs for fans of the series are going to be huge in each and every issue. I P.R.O.M.I.S.E. Uh… I mean, promise. Heh.

TFQ: Can you tell me a bit about your process?

DIRK: A lot of writers will claim that you have to sit at the keyboard and write every day, but, honestly, my style and schedule don’t allow something like that to be possible.

Like a lot of other comic creators, I work a day job and have other commitments… but that being said, I’m writing all the time in my mind, whether it be plots, scenes, or even laying out how the pages panel by panel on the page. It’s a never-ending process for me, and I’m even doing it in the back-regions of my mind as I type this. No offense! [laughs]

I then tend to block out certain weekday evenings or weekend days when I will do nothing at sit at the keyboard and write… and it works pretty well for me. I’ve never been one to be able to write – to physically sit down and type out the words – bit by bit. I like to wait until the cake is done baking before I take it out of the oven and frost it, and really, that’s what the typing process is for me: The frosting of the already-baked cake.

Music is definitely a necessity for me when I’m tying at the computer, too. All these years later I still don’t have an iPod or a MP3 player or anything like that, so I load different CDs depending on what I’m typing, or turn to YouTube to discover new bands or rediscover old ones.
(And since I know you’re wondering, I’m listening to Metallica’s “Garage Inc.” as I type this. My utter distain for the oversaturation of “Whiskey in the Jar” soured me on this record for about a decade or so, but today felt like a good day to give it a listen again… and man, is their covers of “Loverman” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and “Astronomy” by Blue Oyster Cult may be worth the price of the whole CD set alone! [laughs])

TFQ: What are some of your favorite comics and how have they affected your life? How have they affected your stories?

DIRK: In my book WRITE OR WRONG: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CREATING COMICS (get it on Amazon, yo!) I discuss how three of the first comics I ever read were WATCHMEN, THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, and THE CROW. Combine the elements in those three comics with my life-long love of all things horror, a steady diet of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, and a love for the economy of short stories by writers such as Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, and of course Poe and Lovecraft… and the result is Dirk Manning, horror comic writer. [laughs]
That aside, some of my favorite modern comics include, SCALPED, LOCKE AND KEY (Joe Hill, the son of Stephen King, is quickly proving himself to be one of the best prose and comic writers of our generation), all the Mignola HELLBOY/B.P.R.D. stuff, THE WALKING DEAD and INVINCIBLE, pretty much everything written by Alan Moore (yes, including his most modern stuff), EAST OF WEST and THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS, Erik Larden’s always entertaining SAVAGE DRAGON, Big Dog Ink’s THE LEGEND OF OZ: THE WICKED WEST (which I was fortunate enough to write a story-arc for), the collected works of Garth Ennis, and, perhaps most especially, Eric Powell’s THE GOON.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that there’s also an absolute ton of amazing “indie” comics being produced by many, many great up-and-coming creators, too. I’d encourage everyone reading this who will be going to a comic convention this year to set aside a little pocket money to explore some of the great comics being made by creators who haven’t made it to publishers like Image Comics or Devil’s Due or Marvel or DC yet. Having a major publisher doesn’t automatically make a book good, just as not having one doesn’t automatically make a comic not worth reading.

As for me, along with TALES OF MR. RHEE with Devil’s Due, I have books in print from numerous publishers, and I still hit the convention circuit pretty hard every year in order to set-up in Artist Alleys all across the country and spread the word about what I do. If any of you out there reading this want to know where to find me, you can my full touring schedule at or follow my exploits on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or Twitter @DirkManning.

When I’m not on the road or sequestered away somewhere writing comics (yes, usually of the scary variety), I live on the Internet… [laughs]

Friday, January 16, 2015

Exclusive Interview with Joëlle Jones on Lady Killer

I consider myself lucky often because these amazing people continue to talk to me about their work. Today is another one of those days where I feel nothing but gratitude. The lovely Joëlle Jones spoke with me about Lady Killer, one of the hottest new series of 2015! Issue one has recently been released by Darkhorse and I've been blown away the artwork. You can read my review HERE. Enough about me, let's see what Joëlle  is saying.

TFQ: How did this story get off the ground? How much of the initial story did you contribute?

Joëlle : Well I have always had an interest in vintage ads and illustrations and I really wanted to explore it more and the story came out of that. I had never written anything before and I was nervous about my ability to tell a story that way, so I brought in Jamie who I have collaborated with many times in the past to help me through the process.

TFQ: The artwork is breath taking! I have to say, I haven't seen action panels like this that really got my blood moving in a long time! How did you begin to block these panels?

Joëlle: I rough out the fight scenes on paper before I even write them, causing me to have to cut a lot of the fight scenes in the writing stage. I try to put in a lot of thought into the choreography because I think the best fights have a real physical feel to them and I like fights to have strong opposing emotions behind them.

TFQ: What did you use for references to some of these scenes?

Joëlle: I love films and devouring as much as I can, I still collect and obsess over old illustrators and I try to read comics as much as I can. For the fight scenes I'll make my boyfriend fight them out with me and I use photo reference from those, I try not to use them faithfully (especially when it's two women fighting) but I think it provides a good place to start. The domestic scenes are a lot of research into home decor and fashion but I really enjoy that part!

TFQ: How should we view Josie Schuller? Immediately, I wanted to sympathize with her as soon as we see how protective she is of her family. I take it that her family isn't a front for her line of work as a hired assassin? 

I don't want to give too much away about her beginnings but her family is not a front. I think she really cares about them but the duality of her lifestyle I think brings a lot of tension. I really like Josie but I'm not asking anyone to. She murders people. Part of the fun of the story I think will be in figuring out if you do like her or not.

TFQ: Why do we want to sympathize with killers in these types of stories?

I have no clue. As far as I know everybody has had that moment when they look at someone and they say to themselves I could just loose it right now and kill them, or crash my car or whatever. People have dark thoughts but there is something in place that keeps us from acting on them. People must like a good killer story because of the what if question we all have.

TFQ: How did you come to work with Laura Allred on this?

Joëlle: I worked with her on a madman short story and her color choices just blew me away and I've wanted to work with her again ever since. I feel really lucky to get the chance!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Silver Surfer #8 *SPOILERS*

It's no secret that I love this Silver Surfer series. I bought multiple copies of the first trade as Christmas presents for several people including a couple children. Both my niece and my bf's niece stared at the cover of the book once the wrapper was torn away. They both really enjoy superhero comics but only knew who the Silver Surfer was through crossovers on cartoons etc. 

The response from seeing the cover was immediately ignoring everything else that was going on in the room and reading the book. I'd say that's quite a success and how could they do anything different! A silver man in space on the cover with a girl in charming polka dots being chased by lady bugs? Needless to say, I had to explain that it would be a little wait for the next part of the story. 

I can't help but wonder what they'll think of Galactus! He's going to make an appearance very shortly. Allred & Slott give us a glimpse of his back at the end of the issue looking over the cosmos. We knew this day would come, we just didn't know how far off it was. 

There are some truly adorable moments in issue 8. There is a particularly great exchange between the Surfer and Dawn where the reference to dating and romantic events are replaced with ice cream. Which in it's innocents made me giggle but also said some important thing to me: that Slott is very conscious of his audience and while appealing to adults through witty pokes like this, he also manages to keep children engaged with the story without bringing in outright-adult context. I giggled quite a bit  because 1) Dawn is very serious about ice cream and 2) in any other story they wouldn't have been talking about ice cream in the situation. 

Man she's got great shoes. 
I feel that the artwork does a lot to draw children in with this book. Mike Allred long known for his pop art style and strong lines, while Laura Allred known for her bold coloring, make for a winning combo to draw in the eye. We really got to see Mike flex his fingers in this series quite a bit but there is a particularly lovely panel in this issue where the Surfer and Dawn share opposite sides of the board. 

I feel like I'm always recommending this to people regardless of what they're into. I can't wrap it around my head that anyone would be less than completely happy with Slott & Allred's Silver Surfer. I mean, I can't think of a negative thing to say... and believe me, I am really trying! Nope... nadda. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Lazarus #14

This is one of the better covers in this series.
WHOLEY SHIT! Excuse me, forgive my outburst. No wait... WHOLEY SHIT!!!

I was slightly behind in this series and just caught up. I've had this discussion with my friend Kelly about how we love binge reading Lazarus. So I was going to wait for the entire current story arc to end but ... I couldn't and instead binge read issues 10 to 14. Hence my WHOLEY SHIT. By the way, my WHOLEY is a regional thing.. specifically to this region of Nova Scotia.

If you don't know anything about Lazarus here's the comixology blurb because frankly I'm lazy and kinda tired:

"In a dystopian near-future government is a quaint concept, resources are coveted, and posession is 100% of the law. A handful of Families rule, jealously guarding what they have and exploiting the Waste who struggle to survive in their domains. Forever Carlyle defends her family's holdings through deception and force as their protector, their Lazarus. Shot dead defending the family home, Forever's day goes downhill from there."

So Forever is constantly coming back to life and protecting the family with all her genetically enhanced abilities and implants. She's an amazing character capable of killing all in the name of her family but also gentle and controlled. Rucka really managed to get her demeanor across in this book and I'm led to believe that Forever moves slowly and thoughtfully with intent behind every gesture. That's a difficult thing to pull off in stills. 

Speaking of the artwork, it's not my thing. Anyone who's read this blog even a little would be able to see that this sort of rigid-emotionless computer composite is something that would actually deter me from reading a book. However, I was able to get past the artwork because the story line is so awesome. The characters are so real and believable that I find myself living in their bodies and contemplating how I feel about having to kill people because my family asked me to. I feel like I know the characters intimately. That we were all lovers at one point maybe? I suspect Lazari would be exceptional in bed, what with all the crazy um.. implants....? genetic modifications? hmmm I think I'm getting a little off track here. Just read the damn story. I've got some things to take care of....

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Copperhead #5

Can I just say that I love Boo? I love him. If he were real I'd want a bunch of hugs. SOOO MANY HUGS! Okay well let me get down to the serious business. So Copperhead takes place on a planet colonized by multiple other species. The actual natural inhabitants of the planet are called  "the natives". They are insect-like aliens, think praying mantis.

I was a little perturbed by the direction the story took in the issue. It's the implications that the natives stoop to violence when your chips are down..literally. There are some statements against them, some claims of violence and gambling. There's also some business about a treaty. Does any of this sound familiar? Sigh. It hurts me when these sort of stereotypes make it into modern fiction. I like to think that perhaps things have changed and we no longer associate native with vice. I'd also like to think that this is just a coincidence and not inspired by any old fashioned opinions of people here in North America. I'd be a little naive to think so however. I grew up living close to a reserve, had friends on the reserve and heard lots of shitty, bigoted opinions made against the people who lived there. I take things a littler personally when they paint native Americans & Canadians in a shitty light.

Yet before I start waving my hands in the air and shaking my finger at the author, I need to consider that there were moments in the book leading up to now, where judgement was passed on characters because of their race and social standing. These situations were rectified and later people realized that they were unfairly judging others due to social stigma.

So although I do not like what is implied in this issue about these fictional natives (although come on?!?)  I have faith that the story sees to rectify situations of racial stereotyping within itself like it has with other characters in the issue. So before you go yelling at me for loving Copperhead and wondering how I could let all that pass... there it is.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Royal Jelly: Top Picks for Jan 14 2015

Copperhead #5
Jupier's Legacy #5
Shutter #8
Tales Of Mr Rhee Karmageddon #3 (Of 4)
Walking Dead #136
Avengers 34.2 Bengal Cover
Silver Surfer #8
Wolverines #2

Henshin GN

Mentionables: American Vampire Volume 7 HC, Manifest Destiny Vol 2, Lazarus 14, Star Wars #1

So there's quite a bit going on this week. Namely, we have the amazing fifth installment of Jupiter's Legacy. Frank Quitely blowing your mind away by being him and Millar delivering action with politically charged context. This will end the first story arc in the series.

Also from Image we have Shutter #8. This is one of my favorite series. It completely caught me off guard the first time I read it and continues to sweep me off my feet into action and adventure. I can never guess what's going to happen next in this wild tale.

The Walking Dead continues with Negan locked up under Rick's home as a prisoner and the story has introduced a few new travelers to the settlement. I have a love hate relationship with this series. I got sooooo sick of Negan. I didn't want him around nearly as long as he has been. I continue to read the series, as I have always done out of dedication and hope that Negan will change or die.

Copperhead #5 is out from Image as well. A murder mystery with aliens and a twist of the Old West on a remote planet in a town known as Copperhead. If you haven't taken a look at Copperhead, it's not too late! The first story arc has yet to end!

From Devils Due comes the third installment of the series Tales of Mr Rhee: Karmagheddon which I only just discovered. I advanced copies of the third and fourth installment. This story is wild and twisted. I think we all know how I lean towards twisted. Mr. Rhee travels Earth which is riddled with supernatural happenings but can he save those he swore to protect?

FINALLY, my favorite part of the month! More Silver Surfer! This series makes me smile from issue one to right now! Can you imagine a team more perfect than Slott and Allred? Together they've revamped the series and provided the Surfer with a travelling companion who's actually managed to name his board. Slot provides the action packed and laughs while Allred provides vivid panels! This is one series I hope goes on for eternity.

Also from Marvel, we have the new weekly series Wolverines illustrated by Maritimer Nick Bradshaw and Avengers 34.2 which is on my list PURELY because Bengal drew this issue! There is an issue available with a cover by him as well FTW.

You'll notice a few odd things on my "Mentionables". This is just because either I'm collecting them as trades or I'm collecting them as singles and therefore not buying the trades. I did place Star Wars #1 there purely because I do intend give er a looksee.

Finally, I'm interested in this Henshin OGN from Ken Niimura (I Kill Giants). This is being released by Image and I do intend to give a full review. Stay tuned!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Most Promising New Series of 2015!

These are the most promising new series of the 2015!
(Of what has been currently announced)

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Vanesa Del Rey
Black Mask Comics

The Disciples
Written by Steve Niles
Art by Christopher Mitten
Black Mask Comics

Space Rides
Written by Fabian Rangel Jr
Art by Alexis Ziritt
Black Mask Comics

Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Dustin Nguyen
Image Comics

Written by Mark Miller
Art by Sean Gordon Murphy 
Image Comics

Invisible Republic
Written by Gabriel Hardman & Corinna Bechko
Art by Gabriel Hardman
Image Comics

Paper Girls 
Written by Bryan K. Vaughan
Art by Cliff Chiang

Curb Stomp
Written by Ryan Ferrier
Art by Neogi Devaki
Boom Studios!

Written & Illustrated by Jorge Corona
Archaia/Boom Studios!

Lady Killer
Written by Joelle Jones & Jamie S. Rich
Art by Joelle Jones