NYCC 2016: Boom and DC Make Weirdest Crossover Yet

By Dustin Cabeal

If you're new to the site, then no that I'm not a fan of Planet of the Apes and I am a fan of Green Lantern. This crossover doesn't excite me in the least bit and really seems like another desperate attempt from BOOM! to get noticed by Diamond so that they'll make them a premiere publisher. "Look, we put that monkey license with the same franchise DC let IDW shit on! Give us premiere status!" This was how I felt upon reading this news and it's the only good thing to come from POTA. The only good thing.

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Get Drunk On Hellboy This Halloween

By Dustin Cabeal

I just wanted to write that headline. I have no real feelings towards this. I don't drink, I don't bother people that do because then they could bother me about... my winning personality or something. Point is, you drink, you like Hellboy, you're curious if this wine is gross? Get some, try it. Tell me and I'll call you a sucker, but even then it's better than a Marvel T-shirt.

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NYCC 2016: Valiant's Got Exclusive Shirts... And SOCKS!

By Dustin Cabeal

If you follow my annoying as fuck Loot Crate unboxing videos and have seen the talented Justin Wood's banner image then you  know I love me some socks! I blame Kevin Beckham for that. Valiant has some pretty cool clothing at the show, I dig their shirts for sure, but those socks... damn I wish I was still going so I could get me a three pack.

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Call Me A Hypocrite, But I'd Still Wear This Josie's Shirt

By Dustin Cabeal

You may recall my not so negative, not so positive review of Archie's rebooted Josie and the Pussycats series yesterday. If you don't, read that here. At NYCC they have exclusives because everyone does and while most are variants and such, this shirt stood out. Becuase this artwork made me want to read the series. I love the art by Audrey Mok and so I would wear the fuck out of this shirt. I do wish it was on say a white, pink, orange  shirt... anything other than black. It doesn't pop on black. If you're at NYCC it's $25 bucks for the Men's pictured above and the Women's V-Neck below.

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NYCC 2016: BOOM! Picks Up A Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins Untitled Project

By Dustin Cabeal

I'm not going to lie, BOOM!'s "Road to NYCC" has been littered with the usual announcements. An ongoing WWE book? Not that different from SDCC. More Jim Henson? To be expected. And I get it, they need to hype books its the nature of the beast. I just haven't particularly gotten excited for any of them until this one. That said, I'm confused sometimes by this industry. I mean, it's Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins... what publisher would pass on a book from these two? None, but then how did BOOM! land them? I'm curious about their creator-owned deals, but I got a feeling I'm not the person they'll discuss that with.

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NYCC 2016: Dark Horse Announces Empowered's Next Villain... Love

By Dustin Cabeal

I'm always excited for more Empowered. I wish it was ongoing, but I'll take it whenever Adam Warren is willing to make it. He's teamed up with Karla Diaz on art and her stuff is fantastic. It's perfect for the series and I am really looking forward to read the hell out of this series. This is probably one of my top announcements from NYCC.

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More Nerd Jackets To Keep You Warm On Those Lonely Winter Nights

By Dustin Cabeal is back with more comic book coats! You may recall this other post I did about their suits and these are in line with that. The big difference being that the "cosplay" snow coats actually work out pretty damn well. I still lean towards the "secret identity" style myself. I absolutely love that Justice League one. Not just the liner, but the style of the coat as well. If you have kids, then let them wear the cosplay stuff since that's the only time it's really cute on someone. For more, check out their page. In the meantime, I'm going to hope for more from because I really like this new trend. It's way better than the shit we talked about on this week's podcast.

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The Only Merch from NYCC 2016 That I Care About... So Far

By Dustin Cabeal

This post has two purposes. The first is to tell you that you'll likely see your last press release on Comic Bastards for a long while. Frankly, I'm tired of posting them. No one cares, and I can't pretend that I have the time or interest in each of them in order to say something thoughtful or witty. Simply put, they take a lot of time and energy that I don't currently have. Maybe one day. You'll see stuff that does interest me, and that's about it. The other purpose is that I've been somewhat paying attention to all the NYCC exclusives, and while I'm not going this year due to a financial drought in my bank account, I would totally kill for these two items from Dark Horse.

The first is a zippo with the B.P.R.D. logo. I don't smoke, but I am a pyro. I used to carry a zippo around just to light the fucker, and I would go back to doing that in a heart beat with this bad boy. Notice that you can only buy five a day. Yeah, Dark Horse knows that's pay dirt.


The second item is a B.P.R.D. flask, and I don't drink. But that fucker is cool. I would just keep water in it and take it out while annoying people were talking and drink from it so that they think I have to be drunk to care about what they're saying... which is probably true, but I won't ever know. Again, five per a person, per a day. If you're crazy and buying a bunch (probably to resell at your shop or eBay store), but have a heart of gold... kick me one. I won't pay you with money, but I make a pretty damn good chicken dinner.


Legendary Comic Book Villains

Legendary comic book villains tend to attract fan followings comparable to those of the legendary comic book heroes. People find the prospect of seeing these villains in action cathartic. Many of the legendary comic book villains have managed to stand out in the public's imagination. It's no surprise that when people go to the All Slots casino, they are interested in playing slot games that have superhero themes. People can also play blackjack at All Slots online casino, of course, and similar traditional games, but slot games with superhero themes at the All Slots casino have almost always managed to stand out in popularity. When many people think of legendary comic book villains, The Joker from the Batman canon is probably the first that comes to mind. What's interesting about the Joker is that his portrayal has actually paralleled the development of comic book narratives in general. The people who are familiar with Heath Ledger's captivating nihilistic Joker might be surprised to know that the character the-jokerwas originally little more than a simple bank robber. The Joker has also been portrayed as a tragic anti-hero in the manner of Magneto from X-Men. However, in most people's minds today, the Joker is always going to be something of a vicious and cruel version of a prankster. He's someone with the impish spirit of a trickster, but with the homicidal rage of any other dark comic book monster. That is how most people know the Joker today.

Magneto of X-Men is different in that people are usually going to associate him with the anti-hero persona that was devised for him in the movies, even though he has been both a darker version of a villain and a less serious version of a villain at different points during his development as well. People tend to think of Magneto as a Holocaust survivor who has been filled with fury as a result of his oppression, and wants to stop further oppression by any means necessary. This is a more interesting motivation than what people will typically see with comic book villains. Many people will say that Magneto is almost the quintessential Marvel comic book villain, epitomizing everything that represents Marvel characters. People will struggle more when it comes to characterizing or naming the quintessential DC villain.

Some people would say that Lex Luthor is the quintessential DC villain and not the Joker, even though many people would at least agree that the Joker has more charisma. Lex Luthor represents the brain to Superman's brawn, even though Superman's intelligence level often varies. He represents the dark and complicated corporate world, in contrast to Superman's pure heroic motives. Lex Luthor is often regarded as being the smartest man in the DC universe, and he uses his intellectual talents for evil and for personal gain. Still, in some ways, people would say that Lex Luthor is one of the more realistic of the legendary comic book villains. He represents a sort of banal evil, especially in comparison to tragic figures like Magneto and charismatic but alien figures like the Joker.

Zeb Larson's Interview with Kim W. Andersson

Kim Andersson’s Alena really took me by surprise. Knowing as little as I do about Swedish comics and the Swedish scene, having this incredibly nuanced and disturbing horror story seemingly burst on the scene really stuck with me. I chatted with Kim Andersson about Alena, making comics in Sweden, and his upcoming book for Dark Horse, Astrid. Kim is going to be at New York Comic-Con. You can view his Facebook group here

AlenaZeb Larson: Tell me a bit about making comics in Sweden. I have to confess that I’m very unfamiliar with the scene.

Kim Andersson: Funny thing about Swedish comic scene is that it is more women than men…dun dun dun (laughs). At least 50/50, but it could be more women than men. The alternative scene in Sweden really exploded, and the feminist comics got really big in Sweden, like outside the comics scene. It got high-brow cultural attention. Some of those creators have made a place for themselves that way. It started out punk, it still looks punk, but the highbrow cultural establishment likes that.

ZL: That’s pretty different from this country.

KA: Yeah it is, isn’t it. What you would consider alternative comics, black and white, a bit more crudely drawn, is the mainstream. What I do, is like genre comics, a lot of horror and now sci-fi, that is the alternative. The superhero comics scene… I don’t think there is one in Sweden. Marvel and DC are just film studios. Swedes all speak English; if you’re a comic book nerd, you read American comics. And superheroes are such an American thing…

ZL: Where did Alena come from?

KA: The book came out of a bunch of comics in a monthly comic book magazine called NEMI and every issue I did like a short comic called Love Hurts. I had done them for a few years, I had mad one collection, one book, and it was time for my new to level up and have a new challenge, a graphic novel. Through that comic book, I had gathered a bit of a following of readers, and they were almost exclusively teenage girls. Goth and emo teenage girls. The best kind of fans you can have: so cool, so dedicated. I’ve always done exactly the kind of comics I want to read, so I guess I’m a goth girl at heart.


31143I wanted to make a graphic novel, and I wanted to make something for my fans. Not that I owed them, but I liked them, and I wanted to give them something more than a dark humor, scary comic, but a proper piece of work. So I worked on it for years, several years, like with my left hand, and finally, I decided to start, and it was published in this magazine called NEMI, serialized in eight episodes. And then it came out as a book, in 2012 I think. I remember the first review I got from it, a Swedish comic blog, and the headline was “Lesbian horror comic.” I mean, I guess it could be about that? I was more into the idea of a queer idea of their sexuality being more fluid.

All of these characters are me, of course. I’ve been asked why I always draw female characters. I have several answers, but one of them is that it’s easy to hide behind. This is a story about young people, and young boys aren’t allowed to show their emotions. If I want to write about feelings, it’s easier to do it as a girl. In my head, I put on a skirt, and I can declare my emotions in another way.

The different characters in Alena… I actually kind of fell in love with the villain. It’s not that uncommon as a writer. Your villain tends to be the more interesting character. I like how she turned out, and I like how she turned out in the movie. I think that’s the hardest part in the movie.

ZL: Your view of adolescence seems to be dark, at best. Were your teenage years' anything like this?

KA: Everyone has some hard experiences growing up. It’s not easy for anyone; you try things, and things happen to you for the first time, and everything is very dramatic and high-stakes. I wasn’t bullied myself, not regularly, but I had some experiences of feeling bullied or being bullied. Everyone can relate to being bullied; it’s very common, unfortunately. It’s inspired by my life, but it’s inspired by my thoughts and ideas of growing more than personal experience.

But actually, there’s one scene in the book and the movie as well, and that’s the shower scene… it’s rapey. I shouldn’t sugarcoat it; it’s rape. And that comes from a personal experience. It wasn’t in the script at first; I just needed it in an otherwise boring chapter of the book. I told my colleague this story about when I was growing up, and we were like a gang, and in my gang, there were these girls who were so fucking mean, and they ruled the school and their class. They invited me and a friend of mine to watch them get dressed after PE, and I guess they were confident and wanted to show off their bodies. All the other girls in that class had to just accept it; they couldn’t do anything. We just sat there like teenage boys thinking this is the coolest, but that experience stuck with me, and as I got older I started thinking about all the other people in that room and how they experienced that situation, and why those girls invited us. The whole rape thing wasn’t there, but it comes from that personal experience. I think that people can find themselves in that situation, but can’t explain it, so that’s why I put it in the comic: to try and understand why they did this, and why I didn't do anything to stop it. Even if the book contains all of this violence, that’s the scene that affects people the most. Your brain starts to run away from you when you read it. I’m not very interested in doing it again, and I felt like, “Wow, this is a really sad person who wrote this book.” It was very important for me to write it, and I worked through a lot of stuff writing, and I’m very happy I did, and now I don’t have to do it again.

alenatpbp1ZL: Let’s talk about the influences of Alena for a built. I picked up overtones of Stephen King pretty strongly, but madness seemed to be at the root of all of this as well. What past stories were important to you as you were writing this book?

KA: Carrie was the big one. I haven’t actually read the book, but I’ve seen the movie a hundred times. It’s almost an embarrassingly big influence on this book. Definitely Stephen King, that one is really big for me. And I was interested in the whole Tyler Durden Fight Club idea way of telling a story. As far as comic books, I’m a huge fan of the Jaime Hernandez; he’s a big influence of mine and got me back into comics. Love and Rockets are absolutely fantastic. It is very film-ic, the storytelling is like a movie. I grew up on horror movies, I’ve seen them all. This one summer when I was 14, we borrowed horror movies from a friend’s older brother, and for one summer, we saw them all. So, I saw them all, well, before 1993, but I guess they all got lodged in my head.

I’ve never thought about this, but I’d done a bunch of horror, and maybe Alena was the one to cap it all off.

ZL: So does all of that exposure to horror sort of explain the tension between insanity as one explanation and the supernatural as another in Alena?

KA: Pretty much, yeah. It was pretty much that mix of horror influences. I tried to cram a lot of stuff into those pages, and I wanted to move through sub-genres of horror, raise questions about whether she was pushed off the bridge or jumped off the bridge.

ZL: I want to talk about the art, which I thought was really strong for this series. The way you frame some of the characters’ faces is powerful because every sneer and grimace seems so exaggerated. How intentional was that?

KA: When I got to France, all the French say “all your comics are very American.” And in a way they are, I grew up on American comics; when I talk to American audiences and creators, they saw that what I do is European. There’s something I find in European comics that I like: they’re very good with expression. Whereas American comics, this might be a bit mean, but they can be very stiff. I think a lot of American comic book art is aiming for realism, and somewhere on the way to realism, they have to stop. It would take forever to draw it otherwise, but I’m not aiming for realism; I’m trying to go in another direction. More expressive than reality.

alenatpbp2There’s always been this discussion around comics; why do they look so ridiculous? Especially the women; they have super-thin waists and big boobs, and the creators says “It’s exaggerated, we want to make the story read more easily.” I agree with that idea, but you should exaggerate everything. If it’s a teenager, you exaggerate the teenage-ness of him or her.

ZL: How closely involved were you in the film adaptation?

KA: I was very close to the production. So these guys that the made the movie, the producer, and the director, they’re friends of mine because we work in the same field. We’re kind of a gang, so there’s me, another comic book artist, a couple of authors, they wrote this trilogy of urban fantasy books, the first one is The Circle, The Fire, and The Key. We’re this group of different creators: artists and writers and creators, and we work in each other’s projects. When they made a movie of the Circle, I got to draw design stuff for that movie.

I got to be involved from day one. I didn’t get paid for it, but I wanted to do it. You’ve read about all of these authors who sell their rights and end up buying a ticket to see what was their story? I instead got to work on costumes and locations and scriptwriting. Me and the director made a lot of changes, or the director made a lot of changes, and I got to okay everything. I don’t think I turned down any ideas, though; I was excited to see this updated version of the story. As soon as they started shooting, I kind of stepped back. I’d done my part; I don’t want to be hanging over Daniel DiGrado’s shoulder. It was up to him to make his vision of the story. I do a little cameo.

Now I’m really hoping it goes to Netflix. Netflix is a really good tool for exposing international media, especially to American audiences. Everything is mixed; Swedish movies aren’t in their own genre, which I think makes it more likely people will check them out.

ZL: Can you tell us at all about Astrid and what it’s going to be like? Is it going to be a point of departure from slasher stories?

alenatpbp3KA: I just finished the book. It took quite a while to make. This is the next challenge; I try to make a new challenge for every book, to create a comic book character I can make several books with. The first book took a long time to make, because I had to write her universe, but then I finally started drawing, color, and inking it, and that was reasonably quick. I started drawing completely digitally for this book, and that was a new challenge as well. You want to work digitally to save time, but you have to learn how to do so, and it takes time. The screen I’m drawing on is just another time.

I sent it off to Dark Horse a couple of weeks ago, and I’m really proud of it. I wanted to make an adventure like Indiana Jones or that kind of adventure, but where things had consequences. When things happen, people in my story, I want them to feel it and not to forget it in the next scene. I wanted to give them a fantastical adventure in space, on different planets and with aliens, but I want it to matter what they go through and not just be random twists of the plot. They take it with them.

It’s a weird thing make these. I’m an author, which takes forever, and that sucks, but it gives you the opportunity to do exactly the way you want to. Sometimes you can’t, and capturing a feeling on paper can be hard, but I have this idea that the blessing of being an author is that as long as everything comes from you, it’s right. It’s what should be in the story. When you make a story with another person, then there has to be a vision that everyone shares. When a director makes a movie, he makes a vision and has to get everyone on board. When I make a comic as an author, the vision doesn’t have to be clear, and as long as I’m true to myself, it’ll work out. I’m a firm believer in this Joseph Campbell a hero with a thousand faces, and that everyone has the legos to create a story inside them. As long as I follow my heart, it’ll be good.

ZL: And when can we expect to see it in America?

KA: Astrid volume one, Cult of the Volcanic Moon, it’s gonna come out the 30th of November. I’m doing a small print run in Sweden as well and doing a Kickstarter for that, but I made the book for Dark Horse. It’s the third book of mine, but the first I wrote specially for them. I’m looking forward to the next one with them, and that’s what I want to do with them going forward with Astrid. It’s sort of a weird blessing that we don’t make any money; as Becky Cloonan put it, everybody who is working in this is here because they love it, not because it’s a way to make a mortgage. Making a comic with pen and paper can make something as big as I want; I could theoretically create Star Wars, and no one could tell me that my Yoda wouldn’t be 200 meters tall.

Zeb Larson's Interview with Becky Cloonan

Becky Cloonan's SOUTHERN CROSS is about to start its second arc on Wednesday, September 14th. Zeb Larson asks Becky some questions about where the series is headed in this new arc as well as a few questions about the new PUNISHER arc she's been working on, and the music that she's been listening to lately. southcross007-letterproof-3ZL: I really enjoyed the sort of “Gothic Horror” angle in the first volume of Southern Cross: the unstable protagonist, the ghostly mystery, even the bizarrely configured ship that is more like a labyrinth. Are we going to see more of that in the second arc?

BC: Thanks! The second arc of Southern Cross takes place on Titan, in the wake of the ship’s disappearance. We’re introduced to a new cast of characters who all work on Romulus, Zemi’s massive oil rig. Romulus is in trouble- conditions are dangerous, the workers are on strike, and with the Southern Cross gone it creates a lot of problems for people who were waiting on supplies. Mystery abounds as we search for the Southern Cross, and the alien artifact that was found on Titan.
ZL: Building off of that, a lot of the tension in the first arc stemmed from the questions about Alex’s mental state, which was compromised at best. Will that take a backseat now that we know something supernatural is out there?
BC: I don’t want to give anything away, but that wasn’t the last we’ll hear from Alex Braith. We learn more about her and her sister Amber through other characters, and we piece together her past. There is a new character on Titan who used to be very close with her, and a returning character from the first arc who smears her name. We are also excited to introduce a bunch of new characters! One of my favorites is Hazel Conroy, a retired detective working on Titan as a personal assistant and chef to the Senior Operations Manager of the rig. She’s in her early 60’s, hard boiled and savvy, and so much fun to write.
ZL: Compromise was another theme in the first volume: everybody was compromised in some way by bad decisions or deals they had made. Can we expect more?
BC: Definitely. Team Southern Cross is all about bad decisions and shit deals! Characters that are not only dealt a bad hand, but pass bad cards in turn. One of the most fun things about this series is dealing with this crazy, deep space, supernatural horror aspect of the story, but then taking a magnifying glass to a few characters lives and looking at how it affects them in very real, human terms. People don’t stop making mistakes just because there’s a ghost haunting the spaceship.
southcross007ZL: The last issue ended with another ship’s crew going looking for the Southern Cross. Are they at all prepared for what they’re going to find?
BC: They are so unprepared! Things got weird in the first arc, and we’re getting even weirder this time around. The supernatural rears it’s bizarre, undulating head once again, but there are very earthly dangers (so to speak) lurking on Romulus as well. Our heroes have a lot to contend with!
ZL: One of the things I liked about the art for this book was the “space trucker” aesthetic, which has a sort of Alien feel to it. Is that going to change at all now that we’ve got a new crew coming in?
BC: Not at all! If anything this arc is even more “Space Trucker” than the first! Andy Belanger is just killing the art on this book, I could look at him drawing greasy space grunts all day. Alien was a huge influence on his visual approach to the book, him and Lee Loughridge are a great team. The visual aesthetic is a huge part of Southern Cross, and that is all Andy and Lee.
ZL: It looks as though the first issue of the new season will take us to Titan, and off of that wonderfully claustrophobic ship. How will that change things? What can we expect to see?
BC: Romulus isn’t much different than the Southern Cross. The rig and the ship were both built by the same company- Zemi. Issue one takes us on a tour through the ship and shows off Andy’s incredible draftsmanship. I’m also excited to get off the rig in a few issues and explore the beautiful Titan landscape!
ZL: Going through older interviews, it sounds as though you and Andy worked extremely closely together on the first arc. Had the production changed at all?
BC: One of the joys of working on this book is that I get to work with my best friend. We constantly talk things over, go back and forth on story ideas, new characters and dialogue. I help out visually doing covers and design work too, so I think the book is a solid mix, and a very close collaboration. We started working on this book right after we broke up (we were a couple for a few years), and this book I think helped us save and enrich our friendship, which was so important to both of us.
ZL: Your run on Punisher has been fun and interesting. The Punisher is one of those characters who is extraordinarily malleable depending on the writer. How did you approach the character?
southcross007-letterproof-4BC: Punisher is one of the most challenging books I’ve ever worked on, precisely for this reason! I didn’t want to do something that’s been done before, but I also didn’t want to reinvent the character. It was a fine line to walk, to make him different enough to stand out, but still a Punisher people recognize, still Frank Castle. In issue 1 he doesn’t say a single word- my run is just as much about the supporting characters (good and bad) as it is about Punisher.
ZL: The Punisher is never a cuddly character, and even on his best days, he’s got a tough set of shoes to step into. Is that difficult as a writer, or fun?
BC: If it’s not challenging, it’s probably not worth doing. I think with every project there is an aspect of banging your head against the wall, but when you finally break through it is so satisfying!
ZL: Apart from the upcoming Southern Cross, are there any other projects that we might see soon?
BC: I’ll be re-releasing a compilation of my mini comics in full color, so for those of you who missed out on my limited release of By Chance or Providence, I got you! I’ve been getting a lot of really cool poster gigs lately too, so it’s nice to focus on my illustration and design. And I have a few big projects on the burner, back to writing and drawing my own stories!! Things that I’ve been sitting on for a few years that I am excited to jump back into.
ZL: On a completely different note, let’s talk music. What are you listening to these days?
BC: Mindkult just released a great EP called “Witch’s Oath” that you can grab on bandcamp, it’s deceptively heavy! Also on the record player are Thou, Roly Porter, Fórn, The Body, Tau Cross, Midnight, and Cough (who I got to do a print for this summer!). All worth checking out, all will crush you under the weight of them. Music is a huge inspiration to me, I think a lot of what I do comes out of what I listen to.

Zeb Larson Interviews Ed Brisson

Ed Brisson's THE VIOLENT is seeing a TPB release on Wednesday, September 14th. Zeb Larson discusses the series with Ed, some of the political and social significance of the book, Ed's work on CLUSTER, and some of Ed's upcoming work.

ZEB LARSON: What first got you interested in writing The Violent?

ED BRISSON: THE VIOLENT is something that’s been percolating for a long time. It’s a continuation of what I’d been doing in MURDER BOOK and something I’ve wanted to do since penning the first MURDER BOOK story.

I’m a huge crime fiction fan and simply wanted to write the type of crime that I wanted to read. Not stories that are simply about heists or the long con, but of people struggling with who they are and the things that they do. I like reluctant criminals. People struggling with their morality.

theviolent02_preview_page_01ZL: Obviously, you live in Vancouver. But is there another reason you picked the city for the setting of this book, beyond your familiarity with it?

EB: Used to. I moved out of Vancouver ten days ago. I’m now living in Kelowna, which is about 400km (250mi) north-east of Vancouver.

I picked Vancouver for several reasons. Firstly, because I live(d) there and always thought that it’d make a great setting.

Being Canadian, you NEVER see stories set where you live. Even when a Canadian writes something that you KNOW is meant to be set in Vancouver, they’ll use Seattle as a proxy instead (or New York for Toronto, etc., ). I was guilty of doing this with COMEBACK.

There’s an idea that American’s won’t read anything that’s not set in the United States -- unless it’s some sort of globetrotting, James Bond-style adventure. Same goes for film. And, I guess, I stubbornly thought: “Fuck that.” I’m going to write stories where I want to see them and hope others will read along.

THE VIOLENT and MURDER BOOK are first-and-foremost, the books that I want to write and what I wanted to see on the racks. I want stories set in Vancouver and no longer give a flying fuck if someone doesn’t want to read something set outside their own country. It’s part of a need to establish ourselves as a viable setting for fiction.Vancouver is an incredibly unique city and the crime we’re going to see there reflects that. This isn’t going to be a New York story transplanted to Vancouver. THE VIOLENT and MURDER BOOK are both very specifically Vancouver stories.

Vancouver is an incredibly unique city and the crime we’re going to see there reflects that. This isn’t going to be a New York story transplanted to Vancouver. THE VIOLENT and MURDER BOOK are both very specifically Vancouver stories.

ZL: The Violent reads like a personal project, especially with the focus on your home city. How has Vancouver shaped your work?

EB: Adding to what I’d mentioned above, Vancouver is where I met a lot of my contemporaries. Before moving there in the late 90s, it was just me and one or two friends in Kelowna trying to do comics without any real connection to a larger creative base. We would connect with some people through the mail and zine/mini-comic trading, but there was no in-person connection.

When I moved to Vancouver, I eventually found myself falling in with a large group of comic creators, and I think that a lot of us fed off one another. For me, and most creatives I’m sure, I’m pushed to do better when I see people around me creating amazing work. I don’t want to be left behind, I guess. I really started pushing myself when I was in Vancouver, which is something that probably wouldn’t have happened if I’d stayed in Kelowna.

theviolent_vol01-1That said; obviously, the internet serves that same purpose for a lot of people. Had I started even just a few years later, then I would have probably found that same support on-line -- and, honestly, have since found it. Every day I talk to other writers and comic creators on-line. Writers who live in Calgary, Toronto, Portland, New York, etc.

Aside from the comic community, Vancouver gave me a lot of angst and frustration. The housing crisis is just one thing that fuels me. I’m a father and my wife, and I want to provide a stable home for our kid, which feels impossible to do in Vancouver, where renovictions seem to be the norm. (A “renoviction” is a Vancouver term for getting booted from your home so it can be renovated into a multi-unit home or torn down to make way for condos. Just one of hundreds of stories you can find on it: Link). In six years, we lost two homes to renovictions. At my daughter’s school, I’ve talked to other parents who’ve faced the same, some on their third or fourth renoviction.That’s the selfish part that keeps me going. The anger for something that hits me directly.

That’s the selfish part that keeps me going. The anger for something that hits me directly.

But, Vancouver is also home to one of the poorest and most drug addled areas in all of Canada. The Downtown Eastside is a stark reminder of how we’re failing those most in need of help. It’s a place where a serial killer worked for YEARS undetected. When most people think of Canada, they don’t picture that. It feels disingenuous to not talk about and to not feature it in a book about Vancouver.

ZL: The first issue of this book focused on the real estate investments by foreign investors in Vancouver and how expensive the city has become. Is this story at least partly about the pressures of capitalism in the 21st century?

EB: In a roundabout way, I guess it is. But, primarily it’s meant to be a snapshot of what life is like while trying to survive in present-day Vancouver. What it’s like when investment and money are placed ahead of the needs of citizens.

ZL: Vancouver is one of many cities that are becoming so expensive that the original inhabitants can no longer live there anymore. Is there any hope for these places?

EB: I don’t know. Right now, in Vancouver, the cost of owning a house would require something close to 140% of the average household income. Theoretically, your mortgage should be about 30% of your household income. It’s pretty dire.

The BC government has just removed the ability for the BC’s real estate industry to self-regulate. It’s something that’s overdue, and I’m not sure what good it will do now that most of the damage has been done. I’m not convinced it’s not all for show, but we’ll see.

theviolent02_preview_page_05The government is also introducing new taxes and regulations regarding empty houses owned by foreign investors. That’s something that I think a lot of people outside of Vancouver don’t understand -- there are apparently hundreds (thousands?) of houses that have been bought by foreign investors that are sitting empty. They’re being treated like stocks. They’ll sit for a year or so and then get flipped again with earnings upwards of 35%.

Because you have that much stock taken out of the market, demand on other houses goes up, as do prices. Because the house (and now condo) prices are out of reach for most, you’re pushing people who wouldn’t be in the rental market into it. That then increases the demand for rentals which, of course, increases the cost of rentals.

ZL: There seems to be a central tension in this book between environment and personal responsibility. Was that intentional?

EB: Absolutely. Bad shit doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There’s a reason that neighbourhoods plagued with poverty are also besieged by crime.

After my parents split, we had a lot of money issues in our home. I’ve lived through that stress. I’ve seen how barely scraping by and getting deeper and deeper into debt can really push a person to the brink. I’ve experienced it.

I knew others growing up who had it even worse. And I saw what it did to them and their families.

ZL: What are the long-term plans for the series? (ZEB: Edited this slightly. Turns out the series WILL be continuing with Image, but we’re not ready to announce that just yet. It’ll be coming out in trades and not single issues).

EB: There are a few conversations happening at the moment, but nothing is solid.

What fairly sure about is that we’re going to Kickstart it, probably in October. We’d look to release as single issues (digital only) and trade (print). The Kickstarter will cover the trade costs, which we’re working to figure out right now. We want to make the campaign as inexpensive as possible while ensuring that Adam, Michael, and Tom get paid.

Ideally, we’ll do a minimum of three more arcs this way, with a goal to Kickstart and release one volume per year.

ZL: What else do you want to explore in The Violent? Will it stay in Vancouver?

EB: The second volume is set to take place in Kelowna in the late 80s. We’d been planning for this second arc and the setting before my family, and I decided to move to Kelowna. Some sort of simpatico, I guess.

THE VIOLENT will always be about family, how families impact our lives and the lasting effect of our actions. The second arc will look back at the life of Jesse McPherson and show us things from his childhood that ultimately lead to him becoming a police officer. It’s set in 1986, which is the year that Vancouver hosted Expo 86, which many believe laid a lot of the groundwork for what would eventually lead to the Vancouver housing crisis.

violent7_01ZL: I want to switch gears to talk to you about Cluster, which I finally got to sit down with a few months ago. Where did the inspiration for that story come from?

EB: That’s an odd one. The original germ of CLUSTER is something that I’ve been batting around with since I was in high school. Originally, it was going to be a story about a group of bad-ass prisoners who escape prison while on an alien planet. Sort of straight action. But, over the years, it changed up quite a bit until it became what you saw.

A lot of the inspiration for it came from 80s schlock and b-cinema. I’m a huge film fan and growing up; I would plunk myself in front of the TV with a stack of VHS rentals and watch 4 or 5 movies a night (long time insomnia sufferer). I wanted CLUSTER to have that same feel… like an 80s b-movie, but… you know… good.

Damian is the one who really killed it on that front. His designs and world building in CLUSTER were incredible. He’s an insanely versatile artist. I really love working with him.

ZL: One of the ways that I read that story was as a retelling of Euroamericans and settler imperialism: people coming in and taking land from somebody else, while creating a narrative that the land never really belonged to anybody, to begin with. Was that intentional? If so, what led you down that path?

EB: You’re 100% right in your assessment. It just seems to me that if we were to inhabit other planets, humans would repeat past behavior, no matter how often we may claim that we’ve evolved past it.

ZL: Cluster is another story that takes a look at an ugly side of capitalism: private prisons and private military contractors. What was the idea behind that?

EB: I live in Canada where we have much less privatization than the US. There’s often a push here to privatize health care and prisons, which most understand is a dangerous thing, but greed will always keep pushing. The former head of the Doctors of BC runs a private surgery centre and sued the BC government last year, claiming that residents of BC have the constitutional right to pay for care in private clinics, if they want to circumvent the public system. The public system may not be perfect, but at least it allows everyone access to health care. Those arguing for privatization claim that it’ll ease the pressure on the public system. However, the answer is in better public funding and NOT corporatization. That’s how, in the US, you pay $20 a tablet for Advil when you’re in the hospital.

violent7_02It’s the same with prisons. When you make it so that investors and shareholders profit from people being IN prison, then you’ve created a system where there’s no incentive to rehabilitate. Your whole model depends on you keeping cells full and profits rolling in. This leads to dialing back on programs for prisoners and even jobs for those tasked with watching prisoners. (Here’s an interesting, though very long, article from the inside of a private prison that I highly recommend: Link).

Anyhow, with CLUSTER, I wanted to focus on a prison system and military that were not only profit driven, but also feeding off of one another. The idea was that with the military feeding from the prisons, the prisons would need a steady supply of warm bodies, which in turn was influencing the court process and the convictions that we’re being handed down for petty crimes. The central idea was largely influenced by the “Kids for Cash” scandal that broke a few years back, where it seemed that a couple of judges in Pennsylvania were getting kickbacks from a private prison for sentencing to harsh, out of step with their crimes, terms in said private prisons.

To be honest, I didn’t really get to delve as deeply into this in CLUSTER as I’d wanted to. I’d planned for the corruption to be revealed and there to be fallout from said corruption. But, we ran out of time.

ZL: The world-building that went into that story was extensive. Will it be continued at any point? If so, what would you like to do with it?

EB: Yeah, I would love to come back and do more CLUSTER.

I think we left it at a good point where we could go back and do more without it feeling like a cash-in. Also helps that I’d had ideas to continue it before we ended it, so already knew where it’d go next.

As to where it’d go and what it would cover, I think I’ll leave that a mystery for now.

ZL: What project comes next?

EB: I’ve got a book brewing at Stela with Damian. It’s a straight crime story called THE BIG IDEA. It’s about a couple roommates who get caught up in a war between two ex-business partner chiropractors. It may sound a little pedestrian, but it’s a lot of fun.

Other than that, I’ve got two projects, one of which is a creator-owned book, that are in the works. I’m also writing BULLSEYE for Marvel, which drops in January of 2017. Pretty excited about that. I really love the idea of telling a story from the villain’s perspective and think that people are really going to dig the direction we’re taking it.

Non-comic related, I’m co-writing two feature film scripts. One is with a director who I’ve worked with in the past and the other with a producer who I’ve known for a long time. Can’t say too much about these either, but can say that both are based on MURDER BOOK stories.

Possible Returns from Suicide Squad vs. Justice League

As most of you might know, DC Comics is doing quite well with their Rebirth line of books. As such, it was only a matter of time before they capitalized on this. That seems to be the case with the upcoming event: Justice League vs. Suicide Squad! However, like most “Versus” stories, the actual story line won’t be ending with a simple conflict to see which team reigns supreme. Instead, the fallout looks to lead to a few reveals about the nature of Rebirth, returning characters, and perhaps even the identity of the roster for the Justice League of America spin-off series. A lot of mysteries will hopefully be solved during the six-issue series. One, in particular, has my interest piqued.

In the given synopsis for the series, one line strikes me as especially juicy.

“…but before the Justice League can shut down the Suicide Squad, a bigger problem looms: another deadly strike team is lurking in the shadows, one that could expose dark secrets throughout the DC Universe, with ties to the hidden truths of REBIRTH.”

The Suicide Squad is the premier wetworks team at DC. They are, however, hardly the only game in town. With Rebirth having opened the door for several older characters and teams to make their returns, the list of teams grows considerably. However, as far as being a threat to The Justice League and Suicide Squad? That’s a tall order to fill.

justice-league-suicide-squad-news-my-geek-actuWith that said, I’ve compiled a list of some of my top picks for just who this “deadly strike team” could be and what they could mean moving forward.

  1. Checkmate

Checkmate recently appeared in the Suicide Squad: Most Wanted story for El Diablo. In this story it appeared as, perhaps, the antithesis to the Suicide Squad, promising freedom without the need for assistance. Uncle Sam, a powerful figure in more ways than one, appeared as a member during the appearance and a new Black Knight of Checkmate was also named during the series. It’s also of note that, despite appearing in the film, El Diablo was indeed absent from both the Rebirth one-shot and first issue of the series, despite the team featured in the movie being used (minus Slipknot.)

It’s possible that Checkmate, having ties to the government, is being sent to quell these hostilities and as a Task Force X substitute, a possible scenario could see Checkmate and Task Force-X joining with members of both teams coming together to form the Justice League of America. This is especially true considering (while having not appeared post-Flashpoint) Maxwell Lord was a member of the organization.

Potential members include:

  • Uncle Sam
  • El Diablo
  • Maxwell Lord
  • Mister Terrific
  • Vixen
  • Phantom Lady
  • Doll Man


  1. The Authority

The Authority are powerhouses, formerly of the Wildstorm universe. Since then, they’ve since Flashpoint, have been merged into a version of Stormwatch from Prime Earth. This is probably the most powerful team you’ll find on my list and likely capable of bringing down the Justice League and Squad if needed. With an interdimensional ship like the Carrier and their own brutal form of justice, it’s easy to see how they might be at odds with more mainstream heroes such as Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman.

Wildstorm has a number of characters and versions of those characters to draw from, so it wouldn’t be difficult to create a team worthy and capable of keeping up with the bigger names of the DCU. Many fans of the Wildstorm characters would also likely be curious to see how their old favorites do as members of the JLA, should the opportunity arrive.

Potential members include:

  • Apollo
  • Midnighter
  • Jenny Quantum
  • Swift
  • Rainmaker
  • Grifter
  • Freefall


  1. N.O.W.H.E.R.E

The same organization that once plagued the teenage heroes of today and tomorrow, could likely still have more left in the tank—I mean, how often do organizations disband before coming back together somehow? There’s also the issue of just who was involved with this organization.

The obviously gifted time-traveler known as Harvest, could very likely reveal himself again in the present and having learned from past mistakes, could prove a threat for more than just the super-powered teenagers of the world, but the adults as well.

The organization that brought us the previous versions of Superboy also spun-off a number of powered teens in other directions. However, when you’re talking about comic books, age really is just a number. Some powerhouses faced off during The Culling and in a contest where only the strong survive to serve, this could be just the type of force and discipline anyone looking to stop the Suicide Squad and Justice League is looking for.

Potential members include:

  • Kon-El
  • Fairchild
  • Terra
  • Thunder
  • Lightning
  • Ravager
  • Jericho

With all this said, I’ll honestly still be surprised by whatever team ends up coming out to face the Squad and the League. Rebirth has been fun, and I do think that this event will be one worth reading about for a number of reasons.

Let me know who you think is going to appear in this story or even who you’d like to see appear in this or the aftermath.

Interview: Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes with David Walker

We all know Planet of the Apes. Or at least we all know its twist ending, we all hate the Tim Burton remake, and we all have mixed feelings about the James Franco one. We also all know Tarzan. Dark Horse Comics in collaboration with Boom! Studios present the first ever crossover between the two franchises in Tarzan on the Planet of Apes. Where the creative team of David Walker (Power Man and Iron Fist), Tim Seeley (Revival) and Fernando Dagnino (Suicide Squad) bring to answer just how you unite the 1960s dystopia science fiction of Planet of the Apes with the colonial pulp fiction origins of Tarzan. David Walker was gracious enough to talk with us about his love for Planet of the Apes and just how you go about presenting Tarzan for a modern age.

ui6ymgxPatrick Larose: You’ve talked in the past about important and influential a series Planet of the Apes was for you, and I know for me, growing up, it was so surprising how malleable and weird the original film series was and how many different kinds of stories they were telling. What was it that made it stick with you for so long?

David Walker: I saw those films when I was very young, which is to say that I saw them back before the original Star Wars came out. Planet of the Apes was my Star Wars – it grabbed hold of my imagination, and never let go. A lot of people don’t realize (or remember), that before the ancillary marketing craze of Star Wars, with the toys and the comics a the trading cards, there was Planet of the Apes. So, here you had these movies that lit the fire of my imagination, and then all this other stuff that fueled the fire. I owned all the POTA comics, I read them over and over again, and it was through this series that I was introduced to the principles of storytelling. This was a huge part of leading me down the path of what I would grow up to be.

PL: Nighthawk is such a phenomenal, poignant take on so many troubling events and topics going on right now like police violence and systematic oppression. Given how strong your commentary was there, for those following your writing here, what part of society are you interested in highlighting with this story?

DW:  Tim Seely and I, along with our editor Scott Allie, really talked about what it was we were trying to say with this series. The original POTA films were all statement movies, and all of them were pretty dark and grim. We knew all of this going in, and we knew that if there was going to be any “truth” or credibility to the Apes side of the story, it had to come from whatever underlying message we put forth. Ultimately, it is a story about defining what it means to have humanity, versus simply being a human. It is about empathy and revenge, and the path we often walk that doesn’t feel like out path, but a path someone has forced us to walk. In the end, we really tried to explore the dangers of “us-versus-them” thinking, and how ideologies can be dangerous if empathy is not present.

PL: Tarzan, as he was created in the early 1900s, is such a character founded in these really problematic tropes like the white savior complex so how do you manage to reinvent him for the modern age? What was your thought process in navigating between the pulp elements that define Tarzan while avoiding those outdated and troubling elements?

DW: I can’t lie, Tarzan was difficult to wrap my head around, and I think it was the same for Tim. Neither of us wanted him to be that white savior trope, wrapped in the tenets of white supremacy, Eurocentric colonialism. For me, I decided to think about how I would write a Tarzan comic that wasn’t a crossover with Planet of the Apes. And like I said, it wasn’t easy. I loved Tarzan as a kid, and there is still a special place in my heart for him, but like James Bond, Tarzan is a hot mess of problematic thinking. Ultimately, the decision was to play around with who and what Tarzan thinks of himself, and how it informs his actions. Our version of Tarzan doesn’t think of himself as human; he is a member of the Mangani tribe of gorillas. He is not the Lord of the jungle here, so much as a confused human who thinks he’s a gorilla. And we play with this because much of this story is about what makes us human, what makes us humane, and what is required to assert and respect humanity.

tarzan-on-the-planet-of-the-apes-1PL: Given that with this comic, Tarzan is going to have a new backstory and story elements incorporating him more with the Planet of the Apes world, do you still have any plans on addressing any of the more troubling elements of past Tarzan stories? How did you and your co-writer and editor go about incorporating or responding to that Tarzan legacy? Things you went out of your way to avoid like will Tarzan still be going off to rescue a kidnapped Jane?

DW: I want to be careful not to get into great detail, to avoid spoilers. But I will say this—we were very specific about what Burroughs elements we needed to use to make the story work, and what we could leave behind. Tarzan exists in what I’d describe as a very pure form – it’s like we used the most basic elements we needed to define the character, and then we placed that bad boy in the Planet of the Apes. One of the good things about Tarzan is that despite what can be viewed as problematic elements tied to his past – which must be viewed contextually – the character himself has a level of recognition that allows him to be stripped out certain baggage. I mean come on – you show a muscular white guy in a loincloth, surrounded by gorillas, and you know who you’re looking at. Tarzan is so old, and so well established, that it is possible to tell a story about him that isn’t overflowing with all of the things that make the gatekeepers of political correctness cringe.

PL: I think one of the both essential yet troubling aspects of Tarzan is the importance of Africa as a setting. He has to be in the jungle, but there’s no way it can still the gross, outdated place with incomprehensible and bug-eyed natives that Burroughs’ wrote about. Is the story still rooting itself here and what was your process in juggling both it being a Tarzan story slash a story with hyper-intelligent apes and it being a real place far flung from the descriptions of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ stories?

DW: The answer to that is fraught with spoilers. But I’ll do my best to explain. First, this is an alternate reality that aspects of the Tarzan mythology with aspects of the Planet of the Apes mythology. Creating these kinds of stories is frequently difficult. At the end of the day, this is more of a Planet of the Apes story that stars a very stripped-down version of Tarzan. Tarzan himself may come with all kinds of baggage, but that baggage isn’t part of this story. Some people might say we are cheating, but honestly, all of these franchise crossovers are something of a cheat. One of the great things about the original Tarzan mythology created by Burroughs is the Mangani apes. The Mangani were a crucial part in bringing these franchises together, and in my mind, one of the few parts of the Tarzan world we needed to keep. Again, some people may hate it, and call it cheating. But Tim and I, as well as Scott and his assistant Katii (who were incredibly active in helping shape this story), have done something that I think is entertaining. And the art is phenomenal.

30475PL: Having grown up with these characters and series, were there any characters here you were really excited to write for and were there any that were off-limits or you couldn’t fit into the story in some way?

DW: Honestly, I had no interest in Jane or anything like that. We were working with a limited amount of space, so there was never any argument about using her. I would have liked to worked a bit more with the Mangani, and character like Kerchak, but they had to limited in who much real estate we gave them. Still, Tim and I both worked really hard to become fluent in Mangani. I was most excited about the Apes characters – which was the main reason I came on board. This project gave me the opportunity to work with characters I absolutely love, and to take them in directions they’ve never gone before, whether it be in film or other comics.

PL: Often in crossover stories there tends to be more about mashing together two identifiable brands in spite of any thematic dissonance. What did you think were some important ideas or themes to preserve from both POTA and Tarzan while exploring new themes in a more 21st-century context?

DW: This the story of two beings raised as brothers – Tarzan and Caesar. One is a human that thinks he’s a gorilla, the other is a chimpanzee trying to lead his tribe to a place of being that defines them as more than mere animals. Tarzan is a human that is more of an animal. Caesar is an animal that is more of a human. That story is playing out every day in our headlines, as various people are robbed of their humanity, and denied various rights. Women are not treated as equals to men. Blacks are not treated as equals to whites. The poor are not treated as equals to the rich. This world, and this society, in particular is engaged in a war of ideology that seeks to define roles of superiority and inferiority, and doing so creates a system of oppression and dehumanization.

PL: Also, just to end this off, what’s your favorite Planet of the Apes movie and what do you think is the Planet of the Apes movie people need to see who have only seen the original?

DW: I love the original 1968 film. My favorites of all the sequels is Conquest. It is the only one of the original films that stands along as a story, and I consider it to be as politically incendiary as Pontecarvo’s anti-colonialist class The Battle of Algier. But more than that, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes is both an excellent science fiction film, political allegory, and one of the best films of the 1970s. It is dismissed as such, because of its genre and because it is a sequel, but it is the only other POTA film you can watch without knowing anything about the others.

Preview: Thin #1 from American Gothic Press

I'm curious about this one. That and I have enjoyed several of American Gothic Press' releases this year. Check out the synopsis and preview below. [su_quote url=""]Doris Greene is a suburban housewife with a weight problem. When she discovers that her husband is having an affair, she desperately books an appointment for a mysterious operation in the hopes that it will make her thin once and for all. But the method proves to be an actual nightmare, and when she wakes up in the middle of the operation, Doris must fight for her life.[/su_quote]

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