Friday, March 26, 2010

Rise of the INDEPENDENTS - Pre-Order Special!!

Hey Everyone!

A.N.A. Comics is proud to offer you a special opportunity to be the first to order a copy of our 2010 Spring Anthology: Rise of the INDEPENDENTS!

This Pre-Order Special is Exclusively available through A.N.A. Comics directly, and is only available through April 25th 2010.

Rise of the INDEPENDENTS – Anthology
Cover by: Anthony ANMPH Hary (lines), Freddy Lopez Jr. (Colors)
Interiors (black and white): Various Independent comic book Creators

50+ pages
Release Date: May 2010

Pre-order Special price: $10.00 >(shipping costs included for USA/Canada Orders)

Only Available through April 25th 2010. *** Every Pre-Order recieves a FREE Sketch from one of the Indy Creators involved with this project!***

To order simply use the link found below the cover image. Thank you in advance for your support!

Friday, March 19, 2010

HC Noel Interviewed!

HC Noel is a dedicated writer and artist whose Tara Normal strip is soon to enjoy its first anniversary, so he was cool enough to sit and chat with our resident Galactus impersonator, Richard Caldwell...

Howie, thanks for speaking and sharing with our readers. To begin, was Mr. Scootles really your first published comic strip work? What was the production and timeframe like?

Thank you for interviewing me! I had a comic strip published once in my local newspaper and I did some cartoons for my college newspaper, but Mr Scootles is my first comic work professionally published. I created the character in 2000 and self-published the first chapter in 2003. It's been a long journey!

As that book is what you're best known for (so far), where did the character come from? Is there some Tex Avery and Chuck Jones influence in there? I know there is a great modern cartoonist named Rich Koslowski who explored some similar themes in his excellent book Three Fingers, but ya know, I think you actually beat him to the punchline by a few years there.

There's definitely some Tex Avery and Chuck Jones in that book. A lot of influence from early black and white Walt Disney films too. I love that stuff! I definitely wanted the look of the book to tribute animation. My other work like Vincent: The Painter of Death and Tara Normal, all have a different stylistic approach to the art side of the storytelling.

Did you take classes for this stuff in school, or were you just a natural doodler? When did you know undeniably that you wanted to be a storyteller?

I've always drawn, since I was young.
My mom is an artist and art teacher and she always encouraged me. Growing up, teachers were also encouraging, so I kept drawing. I went to Pratt Institute and received a BFA in Illustration. A lot of Mr. Scootles is based on my time at Pratt. I've always had stories in my head and when I was younger I had wanted to be a syndicated cartoonist, but switched to long form cartooning as it was more suitable for the larger stories I wanted to tell. For me, my imagination plays like a film in my mind and I'm just trying to capture it on paper to share with my readers.

I think you do pull off that connection. You really do seem to be one of the ones who leave folks divided- either they love your work or they just haven't read it yet.
As sharp-tongued as Mr. Scootles is, your next book, Vincent: The Painter of Death, was a very different creature. Were you actively trying to keep from being pigeon-holed as a "cartoon guy"?

I think I was in, a way. I wanted to show more of my ability. When I draw, you can always tell I've created it but it does change depending on the story.
With Vincent, I wanted a more realistic feel to the characters and I wanted a darkness to the linework. I like to think of that story as a Dr. Seuss murder story because of some of the linework I implemented and the use of only red, black and white as colors.

Experimenting with different styles as you have, has it been at all intimidating? I mean, is it harder to find an audience for your stories, or does the compulsion for creativity itself take precedence, like cause over effect?

I draw for what fits each story so I don't feel any intimidation that way. Once people hear the idea for the boo
k, it's either something they'd like to read or it's not. Mr. Scootles is about a living cartoon character who gets sent to Hell and his journey to get out so I think the art being stylistically cartoony, while also portraying darkness, is a neat combo for the reader. I really want them to enjoy the visuals as much as the text. The experimentation of the art is really natural so it's not a problem. It's fun to expand on my style.

What sort of writers do you like to read? What artists impress you regularly?

My favorite authors are Stephen King, Charles Bukowski, and Edgar Allen Poe.
I love the art of Mort Drucker, J. Scott Campbell, Berkley Breathed, Dr. Seuss and many, many more!

What can you tell us about your new webcomic, Tara Normal? When
did she launch, and what's her story? Have you been satisfied by the reception thus far?

Tara Normal is a female paranormal investigator who solves cases involving the supernatural. She tries to find the truth behind each mystery. She believes in the paranormal but also looks to debunk things as she investigates. It's like X-Files meets Scooby Doo. She hangs around with her friend Shadowman, an inter-dimensional traveler who looks like
a living shadow and is currently being followed by Baby Cthulhu. I started the webcomic last April and will soon be celebrating a year working on it without missing an update on Wednesday. Tara Normal is also published in TAPS Paramagazine, the official magazine from the crew of Ghost Hunters. That's a huge honor for me because I love the show, everyone on it and their philosophy of doing paranormal investigating. I love the reception so far. I started doing the comic because I really enjoy seeing a project grow and gain new readers. I also run a blog on the site pointing out weird things in the world and the usual favorite government conspiracies. I love hearing monster sighting stories and ghost stories so I encourage readers to send me things they want posted.

this a premise that you would like to keep going for awhile, or do you have a distinct end in mind?

I would say I know the middle moreso than the ending. There's a large storyline that everything's leading to but Tara's the kind of character I could write forever. I know where the overall arc leads and each case has an ending. However, she'll always be investigating and there will always be stories to tell.

Have you ever found interest in working outside of comics? For that matter, are you a purist, or would you be open to seeing any of your properties become animated films, games, toys, etc?

I would love to see my work in other mediums. A movie of my
properties would be great. There is an interest in a Tara Normal TV show in Hollywood and I'm very open to that. It's a great fit with the episodic format and I'm big fan of the medium. I would love a video game and toyline, as I'm a collector myself too.

As your work has gone more and more into digital formats, have your tools of choice changed along the way as well? How do you get those crisp ink lines?

I pencil and ink on paper and then scan them into Photoshop for coloring. Thank you for the remark about my linework. I spend a lot of time on the linework to make sure it's varied and crisp. I'm glad you appreciate it!

Before I cut your chains loose, how do you stay so upbeat and focused? If there is a common theme to your stories, it does seem to be humor in the face of darkness. Is that something you especially believe in, in the real world?

I think you nailed it. That's how I strive to be in life. My characters have an easier time living that way than I do sometimes. I think it's important to keep a sense of humor when times are really rough
. It will help you through it.

Look for HC Noel on the web via cafepress, comicspace, facebook, myspace, and twitter.
And follow his Tara Normal on facebook and twitter, too!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

J.K. Woodward Interview!

Phenomenal graphic artist and illustrator J.K. Woodward found the time in his nonstop schedule making IDW look good (like they really need the help) to answer these bothersome questions from our own man hipdeep in the frontlines, Richard Caldwell...

James, thanks for taking some time out to share with us. You've had one of those lives thus far that has pulled you all over the country. Do you think the travel, the exposure to so many different places and people, has sharpened your creative mind's eye?

In all honesty, its hard to say. I've been bouncing around for so long. But, I think so. I remember my first move in 1986 (to Los Angeles) was an almost culture shock experience. I quickly moved back to New England but tried again for L.A. 2 years later. If I hadn't done that I'm not sure I'd be the painter I am today. I had taken myself outside of my environment and found that it was a lot easier to say "why not". It's as if I was giving myself all these restrictions based on peers and surroundings that were completely unnecessary and I wasn't even aware of it until I was separated from it. There are "rules" that govern people's behavior in every location and/or scene within it. When you're new somewhere, you're not aware of it yet and I think that can open you to new things. For me, in L.A., it was art. I had always been penciling comic pages and had dabbled in some acrylic and watercolour painting, but never really explored the art scene outside of comics until I got to L.A. If you had told me in '86, that I'd be experimenting with surrealism, impressionism or even abstract; that I'd be painting in oil on 6 foot canvas instead of brush and ink on 11x17 bristol board, I wouldn't have believed it.
I think this is just part of a person's natural development and growth, but I think by making big and sudden changes in your life, you can accelerate it and even take it to levels you hadn't considered before. So in that sense I would have to say that yes, the exposure to so many different places and people, has sharpened my creative mind's eye, because that kind of exploration is what it takes for me, personally to grow.

In addition, if you're working in
comics, it's always nice to have experiences in different regions and cities because you never know what a script may call for.

So which came first for you, the commercial art or work in comic books? And how did you land that very first comic book gig?

Commercial work.
In the 90's I was doing a lot of freelance album covers for a German record producer. This would later (1999-2000) lead to a move to Frankfurt to do this full time. After moving there I worked full time for this record company for about a year and then it all went to hell. I started getting work for advertising agencies as a freelance illustrator, but found this new career EXTREMELY unrewarding. I started painting a lot more and I was doing a lot of small gallery shows around the Frankfurt area. It kind of took the sting out of working in advertising, but what I really wanted to do was publish something.
Here's where I got back into
comics. At the time I was working on an oil painting series called Flesh Angels and I really wanted to publish all the pieces as an art book. I arranged the pieces and worked out the story with writer and long time friend, M.D.Koffin. She wrote some first person narratives to go with the paintings and the art book was ready. Finding a publisher to take a chance on an unknown was going to be near impossible, so having no patience for that I published it myself as a comic. It had the same dimensions as a comic and a saddle stitched spine, but any similarity to an actual comic ended there. It was basically 32 paintings, though I still consider it my first work in comics.
Flesh Angels got the attention of Phil Smith who was looking to self publish a story himself and needed an artist. We did two and half issues of a book called Gelding, but it never went anywhere. Phil and I went our separate ways professionally, but are still friends today. Phil is now an editor at Top Cow. During and after this time working with him I also did two other very important twelve-page stories. One was for A David
Lewis' Mortal Coils and the other was Michael Colbert's Crazy Mary. Both got a great deal of attention for indie titles, but it was my work on Crazy Mary that got the attention of Chris Ryall over at IDW. He started me on a four issue mini for CSI:NY and while I was still finishing up issue 3 he told me Peter David was bringing Fallen Angel to IDW and had decided on me as the artist. I worked on this series for the next three or more years as well as X-Men Origins:Beast, a few Star Trek books and a myriad of covers for IDW, BOOM! and DDP.
it all started because I hated working in advertising and I couldn't afford to publish a proper art book and I couldn't be happier it worked out the way it did. Comics are a huge part of my life and I kind of turned my back on them in the 90's. I'm glad I got pulled back in.

Why had you turned your back on comics? I know everyone even remotely related to the industry still holds grudges and regrets over the implosion, but were there other reasons for you? Are you passionate about the medium now, beyond it just being your trade of choice?

I didn't really make a choice to consciously abandon comics, life just started to get in the way. The early 90's were a crazy time for me. I was just distracted for a few years and then when I tried to come back on board I was lost. A lot happens in superhero comics in just a few years.

But the 90's weren't a total comic reading void. Because I was so lost in what was going on in the big 2 (and the new and blossoming 3rd), I directed my
attention to stuff I had previously ignored. I would buy the Cerebus phone books because it was something I could just keep by the bed and read some pages every night, or not, whatever. It required very little commitment from me. Reading comics like that was a lot more fun at that time. I had enough on my mind and didn't want to worry about getting to the comic book store on time every week. When I was done with my Cerebus phone book, I would go get or order another one. I could read at my own pace which was crucial at this time in my life.
That all changed in or around 2000-2001. I started reading Jones' Hulk, Grant's X-Men and Arcudi's Doom Patrol. This was also around the time I discovered Alex Robinson's Box Office Poison, so it was a VERY good year for me and comics, be it superhero titles or indie cartoonists. So, yeah, I would definitely say I'm passionate about the medium now! I always have been. I just took a small break for a short while.

Who has influenced what you do, in or out of comic books? And what's your studio space like- are you big on ambiance, beit movies, podcasts, music?

Influences outside of art are just too numerous to name, but if I keep it to just art influences, then the great cubists Braque and Picasso, surrealists from Dali to Giger, contemporary I like Warhol and Hockney and comic artists John Byrne and Bill Sienkiewicz. Byrne for form, Sienkiewicz for style.
My studio? Well I rent a space separate from my home at a place called Juvenal reis studios ( The atmosphere here is different from day to day, depending on things like what I'm working on, when the deadline is, how much sleep I've gotten (or haven't gotten as is generally the case). But most of the time it's music or podcasts, as movies or tv can demand too much visual attention.
Usually for music in the studio, I prefer classic 77 punk or some Kalifornia 80's hardcore. I need that constant energy feed it gives me. When it comes to podcasts, it's usually comics related. I don't have any friends in NYC yet that are into comics, so it doesn't come up much as a topic of
discussion in my social life. In comics it's good to know about stuff even if it is outside your area of interest. That's where podcasts come in.

If you had been unable to pursue art so directly over the years, what do you think that alternate reality you would be doing with himself? What else interests you?

The alternate reality me would be doing life without the possibility of parole.

Seriously though, I'm not sure. I spend every waking moment (literally 16-20 hours a day, 7 days a week) painting. I can't imagine doing anything else. My work IS my life. It IS me. There is no distinction. I can't see how I would exist without art. It's rare that it happens, but if I'm not working and still awake, I'm usually drinking. So I guess without my work, I'd be an alcoholic...or a sex addict...a junkie perhaps. Point is, without art, I'm left with only base, animal-like,
self-indulgent interests. I think without art I'd be this barely human thing scurrying around the city in an effort to satisfy whatever particular craving or lust happens to be rolling around in my primal beast head at that particular moment, with nary a thought of consequence or future. By night I'd be a frontman for an 80's style hardcore band called "Testicular Fortitude".
Either that or I'd probably do something in computers. I actually have an associates degree for it that I'm still paying for.

There is a lot of honesty to that. Not in working with computers, but in the connections between obsession and addiction. So many great writers and artists have danced on that thin grey line, throughout history.
So what do you have to look forward to in the future? What current and upcoming projects are you at liberty to plug away with here for our readers?

Yeah, you're right. There is a lot of truth in that. It's a little frightening (and invigorating) to think about.
Let's see, what am I doing? There's a lot of uncertainty in the future because I'm planning out all these ambitious but secret endeavors. So I'll have to wait to tell you about that stuff. But in the meantime, I'll be plenty busy with freelance work. I just finished a Star Trek: Captain's Log and am currently working on an 11 page guest spot on GI Joe:
Cobra II. I have another Captain's Log after that and a project lined up with Chris Ryall, but it's too early to talk about that one. Somewhere between finishing the next Captain's Log issue and starting the Ryall project, I expect Peter will have the script for the next Fallen Angel mini. I'm anxiously awaiting that one!

How is it, working with Peter David? I've heard he can be the artist's writer, but I know he really has formed some great rapports in the past, like with Larry Stroman on X-Factor and Dale Keown on the Hulk. Do his scripts challenge you, or does he play into your strengths?

Both. When Peter needs something for a scene, it's going in the script. I have no doubt about that and sometimes that means a challenge.The apocalyptic New York battle scene between Fallen Angel and Illyria at the end of Reborn is a good example of that. But he also seems to pay attention and remember when something works with an artist. I hear a lot of artists complain about underwater scenes. And yes, if you're penciling, it can be hard to pull off. You often have to rely a lot on the colourist to make the underwater atmosphere believable. But as a painter these scenes are easier for me and in issue 3 or 4 of Fallen Angel he had written a short underwater scene and it really worked. Underwater scenes came up two more times after that. They were longer and more complex. I think he knew I enjoyed them or at the very least, noticed I could do them well, remembered this, and made a point to accentuate any water scenes that came up. There are many examples of this kind of thing that leads me to believe he pays close attention and knows how to get the best out of me, but that doesn't mean he goes easy on me. In the end the script needs what it needs and we both understand that it's my job to deliver. I really do enjoy working with him. I feel like I have an understanding of what he expects from me and he has a good grasp of what I can do and what I enjoy.

That is fantastic. Now let's end this on a silly note. Your jetpack is soon to crash on an otherwise deserted isle. What tools of the trade could you absolutely not live without? Presuming alcohol and wi-fi are already in the picture, of course.

Brushes, canvas, and oil paint. That would be the absolute minimum. Though since I have wi-fi, I'd probably want a laptop. That way I don't have to worry about which books or music I'd have to bring with me since I'd have access to all of it. Though I think I'd still want a paperback copy of Catcher in the Rye. I always found Holden Caulfield to be good company.
Does it have to be deserted? I was kind of assuming that I crash landed on Themyscira. Yeah, if I crash land on Themyscira, then all I need are brushes, canvas, oil paint, a laptop, and a paperback copy of Catcher in the Rye... and a toothbrush.
Brushes, canvas, oil paint, a laptop, paperback copy of Catcher in the Rye and a toothbrush on Themyscira.

ah paradise island...

read his blog
here and follow his tweets here.

And of course, all images trademark of their respective copyright holders.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A.N.A. Comics Weighs In on its team

After February's set of Featured articles on the main tallent behind A.N.A. Comics the company itself is weighing in on their value and why these men are the type of men you should want to work with.


Nicholas MyersVP of Intellectual Property Development with A.N.A. Comics – What Qualities does Myers bring to the position? Myers is a Storyteller above all else. If anyone in this business is confused or delusional enough to believe we are doing anything else when we create comics they need to reevaluate their understanding on the craft. Story always comes first for Myers. His art does not standout due to a strong application of anatomy or realism. In fact it’s quite the opposite. Myers’ overwhelming need to get his stories out into the hands and minds of readers requires speed and dedication. Often at the sacrifice of a certain level of consistency in his art quality or anatomical structure to his characters, Myers pushes on to deliver an easy to read, well told story. In his other works, Myers has displayed the ability to create life like images. Making the dramatic contrast between those “fine art” pieces and his sequential work seem more like a conscious decision than any lack of skill. Yet in this decision regarding his line work, Myers never stops raising the bar on his character development. All his characters have full personalities, back stories, and motives uniquely their own. Just another example of how he puts the story first. This well rounded view to his own process makes Myers a HUGE asset to A.N.A. Comics as the VP of IP Development. He is the man who heads up working with both internal and external properties of A.N.A. Comics. Helping creators form their worlds and get their pieces lined up so they have as much depth to play with as possible. His enthusiasm is contagious. Any creator that takes the time to work with Myers is putting themselves in good company and will no doubt produce a better product because of it. Myers also understands a position many creative people face, the feeling of unsatisfied in the balance that is required to create and yet care for life’s responsibilities. Working, creating, and having a family to take care off can put a unique kind of weight on a creative person. Myers intimate understanding of this adds to the value of his input and encouragement for other up and coming creators.

Anthony HaryVP of Brand Management & Editor in Chief with A.N.A. Comics – Why is Hary a good choice for EIC/VP of Brand Management? The easy first answer is that he is not afraid to hurt your feelings. Hary’s position is really a compliment to what Myers does at A.N.A. Comics. He is a perfectionist, his work is far more reality driven, and his commitment to a specific level of quality in his storytelling is key to his position at A.N.A. Comics. As Editor in Chief, Hary serves as a kind of “step 2” in the development process that starts with Myers. With the formation of the company there was an agreed standard of quality in the storytelling and content to the properties that would bare the A.N.A. Comics logo. His grasp of story pacing and balance are complimented by his unwavering commitment to moving the company forward. Hary has also spent a lot of time studying and researching storytelling, panel construction and composition. As EIC of A.N.A. Comics he often is called on to look over work, scripts, and pages to make sure that the story is told in the strongest way possible. As VP of Brand Management, Hary is responsible for the overall image and reputation of the company. This is a unique challenge as in essence A.N.A. Comics is the combination of THREE different production studios, and yet also its own entity all together. Hary applies a similar perspective to this task as he does in creating his own creative works. He never starts a project without first having a clear view on how he wants it to look visually, and read as a complete work. Whether this means implementing a detailed style, or a more simplified cartoony style there are certain factors that never change: 1. Everything is based in a realism that can be easily recognized by the reader. Proportions and perspectives are balanced so the art doesn’t take away from the story. 2. No matter what the weight or stress of the situation, the quality of the production cannot change, and does not change. This carries over to his Management responsibilities. Whether it be coordinating with numerous creative teams for the Spring Anthology, or contributing to support forum activities on the website, Hary strives to keep it all as accessible to others and all the while maintaining the established level of quality. Really as the bottle neck of the company there is a lot on his plate, yet you’ll never hear him complain. Even in his brash blunt demeanor he stays positive and forward thinking in his actions. Often maintaining the disposition that we can all come for the journey but it’s on us to keep up.

Adrian WilkinsPresident of A.N.A. Comics – Is it true he writes comics also, or does he just sign checks? If A.N.A. Comics was a comedy group, Wilkins would be the strait man. To this date he is the least publically active member of A.N.A. Comics, yet that is just publically. Overseeing the internal workings of the company is hard work when you have to work with the guys he is stuck with. Overseeing bi-weekly meetings, creative contacts, and the incredibly entertaining legal/business side of A.N.A. Comics keeps Wilkins a relatively busy man. Yet the rumors are true, he is a writer. In that capacity he is overseeing the development of three A.N.A. Comics original properties at the moment. This fact leaves what we have to say about him rather limited as we can’t give away too much of what he is doing. What can be said is that he is a right man for his position at the company. His network connections and ability to cross media connect will soon prove to be invaluable to the future of A.N.A. Comics. His laid back, jovial nature make Wilkins a treat to work with, and the right guy to lead the forces of A.N.A. Comics!

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