Profiles: Henry Kuttner

If you didn’t know, Ray Bradbury passed away a few weeks ago; Bradbury was one of the greatest science fiction authors, and in fact, was just one of the greatest writers period. There’s quite a lot of people that are familiar with his work, but not too many people know about his writing teacher, Henry Kuttner.

Read More

Real Talk: The Comic Release Format

This week Nerdcenaries sat down in Google Hangout, turned on the mustaches and talked about the state of comics this week. This is Real Talk.

Luke: I am sitting down with Jon Hex and Jordan Neves of Nerdcenaries for the first ever Real Talk where we talk about comic issues of the day.

Jordan: See, I’m not exactly an expert here. I hardly buy monthly books as it is; I stick to a trade here and there and monthly books as they pique my interest. But I have opinions! who doesn’t have opinions on things that barely affect them, right?

Jon: Okay. Well, I’m like the opposite of Jordan since I buy every week.

Luke: Now Jordan, if you do buy trades would you prefer more trades were released in trade only format as opposed to just monthly issues? Jon feel free to respond as well. I mean monthly comics can be a limiting format.

Jon: I mainly buy trades when I come late to a series. I had to buy the first 2 trades of Chew and The Sixth Gun when I decided to read them. I am kind of used to monthly reading and would kind of miss not having something to read on a regular basis.

Jordan: See, I’m more a fan of creators than stories. I haven’t really kept up with what events transpire in the DC or Marvel universe so long as there’s solid art and writing behind what’s happening.

Jon: As much as I loved Scott Pilgrim, I couldn’t wait that long between every series.

Luke: But do you buy trades of what you bought as monthlies?

Jon: Nope.

Luke: But with Scott Pilgrim, wouldn’t it be limited in storytelling capacity by being a monthly?

Jon: I like it as is. I just couldn’t see every comic as a once a year thing. I like it both ways I guess.

Jordan: I’m not opposed to monthlies on principle. Doling out story bit by bit a little at a time is as legitimate as getting all of it between long breaks. It’s not a routine I’m a part of but I don’t think it should be redone from the ground up. At the same time, you’ve gotta fit a satisfying story in 22 pages especially if you’re charging 3 bucks. Even if it’s not a whole story, it should be a satisfying part of a story, at least, you know?

Luke: I’d argue though that not enough stories are satisfying. Some of these mini arcs would waste issues in my opinion.

Jon: That’s anything though.

Luke: But do they make filler-ish stuff naturally or is it due to the schedule?

Jon: They don’t really do filler anymore.

Jordan: Filler is all basically down to the changing mode of pop comics storytelling in the past ten years.

Luke: Unless they stop Superman from saving cats.

Jon: That Superman walking tour was an exception since it had like three fillers in one arc.

Luke: But a lot of stories are overly decompressed in my opinion. Couldn’t more compression cause better issues?

Jon: Not necessarily.

Jordan: I think what guys like Stan and Jack did back when stories were at their densest is admirable but it would be a total style shift for so many modern writers/artists to emulate. Decompression is just what happens after the decades of influence from Movies and Manga and eurocomics.

Jon: I think the acceptance of trades makes it, I don’t know, more pleasing to editors to get arcs. But even if you get one issue self contained stories, it’s not a guarantee that story will be good.

Luke: Let me change things then – Thor the Mighty Avenger – do you think it would have lasted longer if it were released as a series of trades?

Jon: No. It died because it was stamped All-Ages and under promoted.

Jordan: I loved the series and it was remarkable but it was suffering from abysmal advertising and was fumbled as an inbetweener as it was.

Luke: But isn’t it easier to promote singular books instead of a new monthly? Do it as one “BAM” story in a book, advertise one thing.

Jon: I think a singular book would be overlooked more than a series, which has months to build an audience. Then again the level of promotion for Superman:Earth One kind of makes me wrong.

Jordan: To be honest, Marvel mishandled the marketing of the book so much I don’t think it really would have mattered either way, really.

Luke: Are you guys familiar with the magazine Shonen Jump?

Jon: Yeah.

Jordan: Yes. I’ve always seen it available at grocery stores.

Luke: It’s a collection of a variety of manga series. Disregard the fact that the comics are simply translated and reprinted – would you buy a giant monthly book with 200 pages of new comics in black and white on cheaper paper for let’s say $8?

Jordan: I think they would have to be in a non-superhero genre.

Jon: Depends on the books. And I really like color. The Fourth World would be 45% weaker without color.

Jordan: Color is such an integral part of superhero comics and western comics as we know them, really.

Luke: Well, we could have color for trade formats then that come out after.

Jon: Which is kind of bringing it back to what we have now.

Jordan: Maybe we should look at the publication of Bone over the last couple of decades. It was solidly successful as a non-color book and it’s still remarkably relevant with young readers.
Sent at 2:04 AM on Tuesday

Luke: As well as The Walking Dead, TMNT and Sin City.

Jon: There is a market for graphic novel series, but I don’t think it should take the place of monthly comics.

Jordan: Yeah. I think a Shonen Jump book that’s as widely available as it is with varied genre stories could be pretty successful, but that might be wishful thinking. It could hardly replace the comics industry as we know it.

Luke: Oh I’m not saying it would but to produce a larger production with a large variety of content – I think it would be huge.

Jon: I think Marvel and DC could try to diverse the types of books they sell. Not everything has to be about superheros or some weird Vertigo thing.

Jordan: My biggest gripe with the comics market as it stands is that it’s available mainly at comic shops.

Luke: I’ll agree with that Jordan – I think that is what keeps part of the comics are for kids mentality.

Jordan: I don’t think the “comics are for kids” mentality has existed for years.

Jon: But where would you try to sell them? They’re already in bookstores.

Luke: They’re hidden in most bookstores or mistreated.

Jordan: Floppy stands are great to have in grocery/department stores.

Luke: If anything stick them in supermarkets where you put the trading cards at the end – Pick up a $3 splurge.

Jon: Starbucks.

Luke: Yeah, Starbucks has the Free Marvel Digital thing.

Jon: The huh now?

Luke: At Starbucks on their internet you have free access to the Marvel Digital Comics Library. Our enemies at LBFA did a comic about it.

Jordan: Digital is a whole other bag. I think it’s a pretty big deal that all the companies should be throwing all their dice into, but I’m probably a little wrong in thinking that.

Luke: No, I mean look at Warren Ellis who has enough of a following to print trades of his webcomic. As well as Scott Kurtz living off of PVP better than most comic artists. And even Chris Hastings of Doctor McNinja who is now publishing with Dark Horse and who did a miniseries with Deadpool.

Jon: But they built that following by putting out regular comics.

Luke: Only Ellis did. Kurtz and Hasting go solely digital. Or well, Kurtz had the PVP comic book but that was a fiasco.

Jordan: Webcomics are such an individually fueled effort, and yet they’ve got it tackled. I think more people read PVP in a given month than buy the average comic published by either of the big 2.

Luke: Oh easily. I know Penny Arcade has millions of readers. And even newer things like Hark! A Vagrant or MS Paint Adventures.

Jordan: It’s a hierarchy, I think. There are less people that read comics than there are people who read webcomics than there are people who claim to be fans of comics than people who claim to be fans of superheroes. Though there is a ton of overlap.

Jon: If comics were free, they’d all be bestsellers.

Luke: I’d not say that. I’d say there are more people who are fans of superhero comics and characters than there are people who actually read comics. Thanks to shows like the Justice League or Avengers or X-men Evolution.

Jon: I didn’t have as many superhero cartoons growing up. They were all over by the time I was born or started up when I was 12.

Jordan: Yeah, that’s kind of what I mean, really. More kids know about superheroes watching any of those shows than reading any of the comics. Justice League Unlimited alone is probably responsible for hundreds more fans of comics than anything DC published in the past 10 years. And I can’t think of anyone in my generation who doesn’t know at least a little about the X-men after watching the cartoon as a kid.

Luke: More so than Flashpoint?

Jordan: A little, yeah.

Luke: So then why not make a free property you publish online, use ad revenue and like a small library subscription fee and then sell books as well?

Jon: Wasn’t that what Zuba or whatever was for?

Luke: Zuba had no real rights to the DC Properties and limited support

Jordan: To be honest I think maybe this is something we should be asking the people up top. It’s pretty likely they’ve thought of all of this and had to give it all up. With movies and shows and stuff it seems pretty clear to me now that Superhero Comics are not the way superheroes are known. They’ve made the migration to moving pictures, possibly permanently. You guys are thinking of Zuda, by the way.

Luke: I think that the people at the top of Warner Brothers and Disney don’t really care about the comics as much as they care about the properties.

Jon: I really believe that comics have to keep the interest up when the series end and the movies don’t quite pull it off.

Luke: That’s why when a movie is released you return the status quo. To try and get the people who might buy a comic.

Jordan: And that’s kind of the thing. The movies are what’s known. They’re now what really matters. I don’t think superhero comics matter anymore. At least, in the large cultural sense.

Luke: Well, until the copyrights run out and then Whooooo Boy.

Jon: They never will. They’re owned by corporations now.

At this point the discussion turned into a debate about copyright law but obviously this is not an easy topic to talk with and the state of the comics industry is not something that we can solve easily.

Real Interviews: Dave Shabet

Nerdcenaries: Greetings Dave Shabet of Dead Winter. How is it going?
Dave Shabet: Hello Lucas Herr! It is going well.
N: For the people who have unfortunately not heard of Dead Winter, how would you describe it without mentioning zombies?
DS: When I pitch the book at cons I describe it as “a tongue-in-cheek action-adventure comic set in a post-apocalyptic city that has no name,” and I think that about covers it without dropping the Z-word.
N: Well the reason I wanted to describe it without mentioning zombies is that your comic does a really good job of not focusing on the zombies andmore on the characters. Now are you a big fan of zombies in entertainment?
DS: Why thank you! Honestly I think it’s interesting but I’m not an expert on the subject. I’ve seen one or two of the _ of the Dead movies and played the first part of Dead Rising. So I guess I’m interested in “zombie entertainment,” but not because of the zombies in entertainment.
N: What got you into the undead?
DS: My friends, mostly. I think it was probably old World of Darkness pen-and-paper games, if I had to pinpoint it. I’m not afraid to admit that.
N: You mean the classic Whitewolf D10 RPG?
DS: yeah, that’s the one. I was a big tradgamer before I was into zombie stuff. I’ve played Munchkin with the White Wolf writing staff. True story!!
N: What did you play in the World of Darkness?
DS: We ran a couple campaigns. First character was an Innocent Hunter, then I did an Obrimos Mage later. But that’s a little beside the point.
N: Haha. Was there ever any consideration to put in other supernatural elements into the comic?
DS: A couple thoughts, but I want to play more to the human element without adding anything really extra-human to bend the rules. Humans are capable of lots of cool stuff, so at least for this comic I want to stay within that realm.
N: Now, you are more of a webcomics person but do you read a lot of print comics?
DS: I used to borrow a couple from my friends, but I don’t read a whole lot myself, sadly. I spend all my time drawing. The last book I bought was Aaron Renier’s Spiral-Bound, though. That’s a really good one.
N: How long do you spend on a page on average?
DS: When I started it was about six hours a page. Nowadays they take between 30 and 40 each from start to finish. It’s about 12 hours a day six days a week.
N: And then you are also working on your second print collection of the comic correct?
DS: Yeah, I am currently raising money for the print bill for that one.
N: Are you going to be adding any bonus material in the next book?
DS: Absolutely. I’ve got lots of bonus material I couldn’t put in Book 1 because it didn’t fit within the timespan of the book, so it’ll be in Book 2
N: Since you are more of a webcomic person, are there any smaller series that you’d like to advertise?
DS: Hmm. I’ve gotta mention Jenny and The Zombie Hunters since we’re a genre of two on the web.
N: Oh yeah, I’d interviewed her back on my old site. She is a pretty great person and does a wonderful comics as well.
DS: Kate, the author of the now-finished Darken actually just started a new series, Widdershins. And I’d also have to recommend Ryan and Three Word Phrase and Tom’s Non-Canon to round out the bill. There’s plenty to read there.
N: Now you mentioned Darken as a comic that finished. What is your view on comics with a more limited storyline like that?
DS: Story-comics?
N: Well, as opposed to comics that just continually go like PvP as opposed to limited series such as Darken or other comics.
DS: I find there’s a yin and yang to gag and story comics. Gag comics are easier to get into, since you read one strip and you’re satisfied, vs. needing to read a whole archive; but a long-form story can hook readers and more deeply invest them. Gag comics draw in a larger crowd, but storys comic fans are a bit more loyal.
N: I was referring to story comics that have a limited story as opposed to ones where the creators keep them going. I think story comics can still advance stories while having gags. Like a miniseries of a comic as opposed to a continuing series.
DS: Well, if you’re writing a story comic you ought to have an end. An end means your plot points are leading somewhere.
N: So there is going to be an ending to Dead Winter then?
DS: And that’s what hooks a reader. Yeah, there’s going to be an end to Dead Winter.
N: Are you thinking at all about anything post Dead Winter? or is that so far off in the future that it isn’t even a blip?
DS: I have another comic idea I want to work with, either after Dead Winter or if I find the time, alongside it.
N: Well, as we start to wrap up is there anything you’d like to “pimp”?
DS: Yes! Kory Bing’s Skin Deep and Magnolia Porter’s new comic Monster Pulse They’re good people and they make good comics, like the four I mentioned earlier! All of them, excellent.
N: Awesome. Well thank you for your time Dave.
DS: Thank you for having me!

The Gray Area Reborn: Thor The Mighty Avenger And Deadpool Max

Originally The Gray Area ran on Socialfist and was written by Tribe One aka Niles Gray aka The Evil Villain Demonos aka Devil Rhymeosaur. While Niles is currently signing up to test the super-soldier serum he has given us the permission to rerun the old articles.
Originally published online May 24, 2011 at Socialfist as “On Continuity: Deadpool and Thor Remembered.”

I am a bitter and grizzled old man. I’m set in my ways and stubborn and I want things the way I want them and the way they’ve always been. Change doesn’t just scare me; change enrages me and causes me to post nasty comments in forums and cancel subscriptions to comics I’ve bought for years. Or worse: change makes me completely ignore a really really good comic book that I might enjoy, causing it to languish in poor-sales-purgatory until it is eventually cancelled. Can you guess my name? My name is…… ALL OF US!!!!!


(Thunder crashes and lightning casts ominous shadows!)

Seriously, guys. What’s the deal? Why do we uniformly ignore new takes on our favorite characters even when they’re really really good? I’m seriously asking you this question because I don’t know the answer. Is it because they’re “out of continuity?” Is continuity that important? Does the idea that things that happen in comic books “matter” to future issues mean anything? At all? Really?

It’s become cliche to talk about now, but let’s take a moment to consider that there is a thing called “event fatigue.” There is a coined phrase currently in use in popular culture that describes how sick and tired we all are of comic books that exist solely to affect the continuity of a shared universe of comic book titles. And when a comic book comes out that does the exact opposite they are straight up ignored. Yes. I am still bitter about Thor: The Mighty Avenger being cancelled. And now Deadpool Max is ending at issue 12 instead of being an ongoing series. Are you kidding me, guys?! I’m so mad at us right now.

Deadpool Max is seriously one of the most inventive takes on the Marvel Universe that I’ve ever seen. It basically takes the idea of the superhero and turns it into Spy vs Spy and if that doesn’t sound awesome to you then we can never be friends. It’s ingenious and the world will be a worse place when they stop publishing it. And Thor: The Mighty Avenger is my favorite comic book of 2009 and 2010. I gave my 8 year old brother both trades and my 26 year old brother all the single issues for Christmas last year and they both loved it. It is the perfect comic book. Except that it doesn’t exist anymore.

It’s crazy to me that the reason these books and books like them fail is because they exist outside of the established canon. They “aren’t real.” That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard ever. “This story about a Viking god who comes to Earth to hit things with a hammer isn’t as real as this other story about a Viking god who comes to Earth to hit things with a hammer.” Do you hear that? That’s the sound of every cell in my body facepalming.

I even saw comments in some forums that said Kyle Baker’s art in Deadpool Max is what kept them from enjoying the book. One comment said Kyle Baker’s Deadpool doesn’t look like Deadpool. That’s the second stupidest thing I’ve ever heard ever. The only logical explanation I can muster is Rob Liefeld himself is covertly infiltrating message boards to sully the reputations of every other Deadpool artist. Kyle Baker is an angel from heaven and has never done art that was not objectively amazing and if you disagree with me you are wrong. This is not a matter of opinion. You cannot argue this point and if you try I will push you down the nearest set of stairs. Not really. But seriously, find me an example of Kyle Baker art that isn’t amazing and I’ll give you five dollars. Straight up. I’m not joking.

The exception that proves the rule is, of course, Ultimate Spider-Man. But keep in mind, Ultimate Spider-Man came fully packaged with a whole other universe of continuity and crossovers and has had several event comic tie-ins over the course of its undeniably great and successful run. Also keep in mind that the absolute worst issues of that series (while not even remotely approaching “bad”) were the ones that were bogged down with continuity and event tie-ins.

Look, I think we can all agree that none of us wants to buy a bad comic book (unless it’s hilariously bad, a la Batman: Odyssey or The Rise of Arsenal #3) but can we also agree that we’ll give chances to good ones? Even if they have absolutely no bearing on the larger picture of the universes the main books occupy? Because even though they may not affect the picture, they still benefit from ALL of the history and remain free to tell stories that matter to us.

The Gray Area Reborn: Ultimate Spider-man

Originally The Gray Area ran on Socialfist and was written by Tribe One aka Niles Gray aka The Evil Villain Demonos aka Devil Rhymeosaur. While Niles is currently on tour with Adam WarRock, MC Lars and MC Chris he has given us the permission to rerun the old articles.
Originally published online May 20, 2011 at Socialfist as “Ultimate Spider Man: A Brief Retrospective.”

I have read every page of every comic of the series Ultimate Spider Man. I have read every word in every word balloon. And Brian Bendis wrote every issue, so the savvy among you know that means a whole lot of word balloons. So, what am I getting at? Am I trying to impress you? Only kind of. What I really want to get across is that it is totally possible–and entirely worthwhile–to read every issue of Ultimate Spider Man.

I read the first 110 issues in trade (I think that’s volumes 1-18 or 19) for free at my local library. Every library with a halfway decent collection of comics will have it, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find without dropping the $1000+ 25 volumes of trades would cost. I happened to catch up to the series just as the original artist, Mark Bagley, was ending his record-breaking run on the series and Stuart Immonen was just beginning his run with issue 111, an issue they both drew. I’ve been buying the single issues since then.

Looking back on the series, the thing that strikes me most is just how good all of it is. It’s pretty astonishing to think that after 160 issues you can consider the whole and not find a single weak point. There’s arcs that are better than others, of course, but there wasn’t a single issue that I wasn’t completely engaged in. I have to believe that is one hundred percent a result of giving one man (Bendis) the series and the freedom to tell 160 issues’ worth of comics stories.

Another interesting thing about this series is that despite beginning in the early 2000’s and it now being 2011, only about a year has passed in-story. It makes perfect sense, but it’s weird to think about. It also shows just how skillfully paced the series is, with entire six issue arcs taking place all within a couple of hours or so in the story. What it boils down to, ultimately, is that Bendis has figured out the perfect formula for storytelling. Make no mistake, this series is formulaic as hell, but it’s so natural to the Spider Man mythos (I feel like such an asshole having typed that seriously) that it works to the utmost benefit of the story. Here is the formula: for every five bad things that happen to Peter Parker one good thing happens.

It’s genius. That one good thing makes all the difference in the world. It’s what makes Peter Parker not Matt Murdock.

Also, the series is more about Peter Parker than Spider Man. Yeah, Peter Parker is Spider Man, but you know what I mean. The most interesting parts of the story are the ones where Peter is interacting with the people around him out of costume and trying to live a normal life. He never can, which goes back to the five bad things, but it’s the attempt that makes the character seem real. He wants the same things we want. He does what we would do in his situation. No, that’s not quite right. He does what we hope we would do in his situation. That’s what makes Peter Parker the perfect comic book character.

And Brian Bendis does such a great job over these 160 issues of retelling classic stories or mashing up new ones and old ones or just completely creating new situations that this version of Spider Man, for me, is the definitive one. Of course, it’s not the real Spider Man. But if someone were to ask me what my favorite Spider Man story is, I guarantee it’s going to be something from out of Ultimate Spider Man.

The Gray Area Reborn: Scalped

Originally The Gray Area ran on Socialfist and was written by Tribe One aka Niles Gray aka The Evil Villain Demonos aka Devil Rhymeosaur. While Niles is currently on tour with Adam WarRock, MC Lars and MC Chris he has given us the permission to rerun the old articles.
Originally published online May 3, 2011 at Socialfist as “It’s Late and I’m Tired and You Should Read Scalped. Ignore the Rest of This. It Doesn’t Make Any Sense.”

So, my main man Luke asked me to write up some comics reviews for his site to post today (Monday). Instead I’m going to be talking a bit about the nature of fiction and sequential storytelling and it probably won’t be going up until Monday night at the very earliest (Sorry, Luke). I guess this could be considered a review of the latest issue of Jason Aaron’s Scalped, issue number 48, but if I’m being completely honest “review” is going to be a bit of a stretch.
Comic books really are a unique form of fiction, not only because of the fanaticism they inspire in their fans (although other genres like SF and fantasy fiction do as well) but because the progressive nature inherent in serialized storytelling. Only recently, it seems, have other genres really begun to take advantage of the idea of telling a whole story in multiple pieces. There have been notable multivolume books (Lord of the Rings, Dune, etc) but in recent years it seems as though every fantasy/SF book is part of a trilogy. Even so, this still does not put them on the same scale as comic books, in which stories evolve and adapt and take place over decades and multiple creative teams and visions. Man, this is sounding really pretentious. Sorry, guys. I’m a librarian who was an English major.

Anyways, I read the latest issue of Scalped, which came out this week and it raised a couple of questions in my mind about character progression, story progression and how they interact both because of and in spite of each other. Specifically, it made me think about what the reader wants to happen and what actually happens in a story.

Scalped, for those unwashed non-readers among you, is a comic book series that follows the lives of certain residents of the Prairie Rose Native American Reservation. There are no happy endings–nor beginnings or middles, for that matter–to be read here. It’s a story of unhappy people finding new and more complicated and ingenious ways to make each other even more unhappy. And sometimes dead.

It is amazing and you should be reading it.

Scalped’s main character (maybe protagonist, though the series seems to only have antagonists) is Dashiell Bad Horse of the Prairie Rose Lakota Tribe Native American Reservation in South Dakota. He is a bad person. He kills people. He does hard drugs. He is in the process of betraying the people who believe in him. What makes this book both fascinating and frustrating is that Dash is supposed to be becoming a better person. He’s back on the reservation under some false pretenses after several years away and since he’s been back he’s seen and done some things that should have changed him. I thought he had changed until the moment he was given a choice in this latest issue and he made the choice he would have made on page one, panel one of the first issue.

I was heartbroken.

Looking back, however, I realize that it couldn’t have gone any other way. Dash’s defining characteristic is that he is incapable of choosing the right thing to do. Because the narrative is so agile in moving from perspective to perspective and character to character, as readers, we are privy to things to which none of the characters in the story have access. So we already know what the consequences of each of Dash’s choices will be. That’s a testament to Aaron’s ability to weave this story. As such, we know what Dash is supposed to choose. But we also know what he is going to choose, as much as it hurts us to watch him make that choice.

It’s almost like sleight of hand, the way Aaron is able to make us believe that Dash has undergone these profound, life-changing experiences only to lift the veil and show that he hasn’t changed at all. He’s been undercover the whole time, putting on a front as much to us as to Red Crow.

And here is where I make the case that this is only something comics can achieve. Is it possible for a well written book to pull the rug out from under us? Of course. Now that I think about it, Scalped is more of an argument for comics as literature than anything else. Scalped and books like The Walking Dead (which also had a new issue this week) are books that eschew the mainstream (read: big two) comics convention called “the status quo.”

The status quo is the bane of comics’ existence. It is, it could be argued, the dividing line between acceptance into the annals of American Literature and the junkyard of disposable pop art; pulp. Fuck Literature, I say. If Literature is too good to be associated with Norse gods smashing the shit out of impossibly advanced robotics in the name of American Freedom, then I want no part of it. No thank you, sir.

There are only two examples of Big Two comic books I can think of that ignore the idea of a status quo and are currently being published. These are Captain America and Batman. And Captain America is in the process of reestablishing its status quo (just in time for the movie! *gasp*). That leaves only Batman. Already a symbol of the one-man pursuit of change, Batman is one of the oldest superheroes in existence. How funny that Captain America is nearly as old and also currently in the midst undergoing a major upheaval. Things that make you go “hmmmm” (or not).

Let’s look at the major factor shared by the four titles named thus far: Batman, Captain America, Scalped, The Walking Dead. They are all written by one person over a years-long stretch. Captain America: Ed Brubaker, issues 1-50, 600-617. Scalped: Jason Aaron, issues 1-48. The Walking Dead: Robert Kirkman, issues 1-84. Batman: Grant Morrison: A whole bunch over several titles. We all know that Steve Rogers is going to be taking up the mantle of Captain America again and James Buchanan is going to be Bucky again (just look at the solicits for the title’s name change to Captain America & Bucky), but Batman is another story altogether.

The recent change in Batman’s status quo seems like it’s going to stick. No take backs. From now on there’s going to be a whole lot of guys called Batman. That’s just how it’s going to be. Of course, there can only be one Bruce Wayne, but the management at DC would have to be really dense and pretty goddamn stubborn to take the cape and cowl away from Dick Grayson. That’s a huge goddamn deal, you guys. It’s something that only “indie” comics have been able to get away with since pretty much ever. This is a real change in a comic that’s been the exact same since the 1930’s. This is the first ever Batman story ever told that couldn’t have been told by Bob Kane and Bill Finger.

I’m going to go ahead and wrap this thing up now since it’s become something I never intended it to be and also because it’s now past midnight and this was supposed to be up on Monday. Basically, what I’m trying to say is this: Think of a comic book that has changed significantly since you first started reading it. You can probably count the number of titles on one hand. That’s totally ok though because comics about men who dress up like robots don’t have to change. They’re already awesome. They’ve already outlived their creators and they’ll outlive this generation of creators as well.

The real revolution in comics is happening on the other side of the mainstream. It’s happening despite Captain America getting shot and Superman renouncing his American citizenship. It’s happening whether you’re reading it or not, and more often than not, you’re totally missing it. I don’t even know if I’m making sense anymore. I know I’ve lost track of my original point. Oh well. See you next week. Good night.

Know The Staff: Dominic Griffin and Jim Bizon

Since we are still a new magazine with a mostly brand new crew we feel it is our responsibility to introduce ourselves to you, the new readers, so that we can be boiled down to archetypal characters and then placed into your FF7 fanfictions because you can only read about Cloud and Sephiroth banging for so many times.

[Since new contributors Dominic Griffin & Jim Bizon live in the same house, separated only by a wall, not unlike Run DMC and Aerosmith, we decided to let them interview each other.]

Jim: What’s up? Have you seen this new AFLAC Commercial?
Dominic: Is it awesome?
J Eh. It isnt Gilbert Gottfried. [long silence] So, who exactly is Dom Griffin?
D: He’s a sort of writer person. Pop culture junkie. Movie nerd. Professional wrestling mark. Likes: Batman, Grant Morrison’s impossibly shiny dome, tacos. Dislikes: Pants, oligarchy, tiny buttons. Why do people call you “The Jimma?”
J: Funny enough, It all started as a typo sometime around 2001 on an ancient Social site called, I just kinda ran with it, Y’know…Like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
D: Same thing happened to The Rock. Someone was trying to write a fan letter to Charles S. Dutton, star of television’s ROC, and it ended up in Dwayne’s mailbox. True facts.
J: Not suprising, He strikes me more as a Clancy. So, Comics?
D: They’re great? I learned how to read from old Claremont/Byrne X-Men issues, so comics hold a special place in my heart, nestled carefully between cookies and freedom. You’re an artist. Who are your biggest influences?
J: Jeez. That’s a toughy. I’d honestly say Bruce Timm’s Work on “Batman: The Animated Series” is pretty high on my list, and of Course Jack Kirby, for he is King. But in all honestly, alot of internet artists: Chris Haley, Jay King, Joe Hunter, Deanne Trippe, Olly Moss, Ming Doyle, Jess Fink and Mike Mitchel…they got the fire going under my ass again.
D: I concur, in that I maintain giant crushes on all those you named.
J: So you mentioned Grant Morrison earlier. You’re good with the words, who are some of your revered scribes?
D: The aforementioned bald one. Mark Waid. Warren Ellis. Outside of comics, David Mamet, Charlie Kaufman, Noel Coward, Paul Schrader. Um, Shakespeare. I’m a big fan of anything Chuck Klosterman writes anywhere. SEX, DRUGS, AND COCOA PUFFS changed my twentysomething life. It was like the toilet paper letter from the “prisoner” in V FOR VENDETTA. Like, wow, I am not alone in this depth of geekery.
J: So, I’d say we’ve known each other for a minute?
D: …15 years?
J: Give or take a day or two in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber.
D: …do you want to pimp stuff?
J: Shameless plugs?
D: Yes. That’s what I meant. Not, like, prostitution.
J: It’s not like I need to tell people to follow you or I on Twitter.
D: Yeah, it’s not like people need to know that you and me are on Tumblr.
J: Also, they probably already like Xaiados Studios on the facebooks.
D: …I still have a Friendster*.

*Editor’s note: NO ONE still has a Friendster.**

*Now get me pictures of Spider-Man. – Actual Editor.

Know The Staff: Flynn Nicholls

Since we are still a new magazine with a mostly brand new crew we feel it is our responsibility to introduce ourselves to you, the new readers, so that we can be boiled down to archetypal characters and then placed into your FF7 fanfictions because you can only read about Cloud and Sephiroth banging for so many times.

Nerdcenaries: Greetings Flynn Nicholls of the Internet!
Flynn Nicholls: Hello!
N: Tell the readers of Nerdcenaries who you are!
FN: Oh geez. My name is Flynn Nicholls and I am an illustrator and comics person. I went to college for animation, which is another thing I do. I live in Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America.
N: When you call yourself a comics person, what do you mean by that?
FN: I am a person who writes and draws comics.
N: Are any of your comics online and if so, where are they at?
FN: I have a sketchblog at where I post sketches and comics. Right now I’m posting a fantasy comic that I’m basically improvising as I go. It’s called Treasure Robbers.
N: And is there any official update schedule for that comic?
FN: It’s pretty loose. I mostly post things Monday through Friday but there’s no set days.
N: So what got you into drawing comic?
FN: I’ve basically been drawing my whole life. I was fueled by a lot of Saturday morning cartoons. My favorites were usually based on comics (TMNT, X-Men, Spider-Man) and a lot of my friends read superhero comics so I got into that pretty early on. I also read a lot of Tintin growing up.
N: So what got you into posting comics online?
FN: My friends had been telling me to do a webcomic for years before I actually did one. I’d actually tried to do one in high school with a friend of mine. He would do a stick figure layout with the writing, which I think he got from American Splendor, and would send it to me to draw. That comic did not last very long. Then in 2007 I started finding cartoonists who posted their comics on Livejournal, one of them being my friend Jamie Baldwin, who encouraged me to start one. So I started doing that in early 2008, just to see if I could maintain a regular schedule of drawing and posting material.
N: So if you had the option to draw for any writer, who would you want to?
FN: That’s a pretty tough question! Grant Morrison? I’m going to shoot for the moon and say Grant Morrison.
N: Who are your stylistic inspirations?
FN: This is kind of hard because I have a habit of switching art styles depending on what I’m doing. I don’t know if that’s a good thing to do or not. I know Art Spiegelman has a tendency to do that so there’s one. Jack Kirby, Mike Mignola Jamie Hewlett, Hayao Miyazaki, Moebius, Geoff Darrow, José Luis García-López and Fil Barlow are all people I like. I think that’s my pool of artists that inform me when I’m doing sci-fi and fantasy stuff. I also like Winsor McCay’s and Herge’s draftsmanship. I’ve been getting into Akira Toriyama more recently. Sam Bosma is another one, his work is amazing. There are a bazillion webcomics and general illustration work that I’m constantly taking in so it’s hard to give a coherent list.
N: If you had to compare yourself to a superhero, who would you pick?
FN: Hm. I guess Spider-Man? Is that dumb? I find Peter Parker pretty relatable but I think a lot of people do.
N: Does Bruce Banner find Peter Parker relatable. Does he?
FN: They’re both science nerds, right? Who got into accidents that gave them superpowers? So probably on some level?
N: Haha. Well, before you go is there anything you want to pimp?
FN: I suppose I could pimp Reissues. It’s been on hiatus for a little while but I’m looking to get it up and running again. It’s a project wherein people are free to submit their own renderings of album covers.
N: Awesome. Well thank you for your time and I look forward to seeing more of your work on Nerdcenaries in the future.
FN: Thanks!

Know The Staff: Luke “Koltreg” Herr

Since we are still a new magazine with a mostly brand new crew we feel it is our responsibility to introduce ourselves to you, the new readers, so that we can be boiled down to archetypal characters and then placed into your FF7 fanfictions because you can only read about Cloud and Sephiroth banging for so many times.

Nerdcenaries: So Luke, what is it that you do?

Luke Herr: Well. Shit. I am interviewing myself right now.

N: Yes but what do you do when you aren’t doing that?

LH: Ah. Well I am a recent web design graduate from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh currently looking for work and I decided to start a comic news and humor website.

N: And was there any impetus behind that decision?

LH: Not really, I had a few ideas I was kicking around for various blog posts. I decided I needed to start a site to host them and then I wanted to kick it up a notch.

N: But from what I know about your plans, this is going to be more than a one man operation, isn’t it?

LH: Yeah. The other thing that I wanted to do is sort of make a new launching point where friends and people who need a chance to do something new can be like “I worked and was published at this site that wasn’t just mine.” Also I didn’t want to write something every day and I figured more writers means more groups of friends which means wider exposure.

N: So basically you hooked in a bunch of people to try anf get famous while doing less work?

LH:Yes. I am surprised how candid I am being about this.

N: So why do you think people should read what you write?

LH:Well, I like to think I am fun. If I’m not though I can try and find people who are. I like to connect people for that purpose.

N: Interesting. So do you have any writing experience?

LH:Oh yeah, previously I was a competitive creative writer in The Power of the Pen back in junior high. In high school I started the Nerding Review Blog and I’ve been doing a series of comics and other writing bits since then.

N: Is there anything else you are doing now as a writer?

LH:I am currently writing Changeling, a sort-of mystery webcomic as well as a bunch of articles here on Nerdcenaries. I also am planning on writing the scripts for the rest of my webcomic Socialfist that was cancelled due to financial issues. Sociafist is about communist superheroes taking over America.

N: As a closing question, who is your favorite superhero?

LH:I really like Moon Knight. He’s like Batman but crazy and magical. I was disappointed by that last series that came out about him. Moon Knight is a totally fun idea but I found that most people tend to make him violent. I want to see the Moon Knight that Adam West would have played in the 60’s – campy Moon Knight. Moonmobile, Moonarang, Moonshoes…. Actually Moonknight in Moonshoes would be amazing.

N: Well is there anything else you want to plug right now?

LH:Not that I can really think of right now. I mean I’ll link it all right on this site.

N: Thanks for your time.

LH:No problem.

Real Interviews: Chris Sims

Luke Herr: How are you doing Chris Sims of The ISB, the twice Eisner-nominated comic news website Comics Alliance, host of the Comics Alliance flagship podcast War Rocket Ajax and creator of several webcomics including Awesome Hospital and the upcoming Dracula the Unconquered?

Chris Sims: I’m doing well! Two cups of coffee’ll do that.

LH: So your upcoming work that you are releasing on Halloween is called Dracula the Unconquered. What can you tell me about that?

CS: It’s an ongoing digital comic book series about that takes place roughly ten years after the events of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1901. I’ve described the high concept before as Indiana Jones starring Dracula, a big adventure story that has this grand villain and his human sidekick, Thalia, traveling around the world and battling against ghosts, monsters, and other vampires.

LH: And is your goal going to be a sort of redeeming of the Lord of the Night or will it be more of a character piece on this Vampire Lord?

CS: There’s definitely an aspect to it that’s about redemption. One of the things that I wanted to do was give people a version of Dracula that they hadn’t seen before — or at least, that you don’t see often — and with so many different takes on him in pop culture, the idea of Drac as an adventure hero is what I came up with. It’s actually directly inspired by the Carl Barks Uncle Scrooge stories, and while it’s definitely a different sort of structure, that’s the kind of feeling I want to get, the big anything-can-happen adventure. But if you’re going to have Dracula as a hero, you definitely have to address the fact that he’s a pretty bad guy. I mean, he literally eats people. So part of it is about showing a different side of him, and part of it is about explaining how this monstrous figure that everyone knows as a villain is in a ruined castle at the opening of the novel, rather than as the grand end-boss we always think of him.

LH: So this is sort of Dracula Getting His Groove Back then? Rebuilding his fortune like Uncle Scrooge in a way?

CS: Ha! Kind of. There’s definitely a structure to it where he’s rebuilding himself, and going around the world to gather various artifacts and confront former allies and enemies.

LH: So this is Dracula/Sandman/Scrooge. It sounds pretty awesome.

CS: Well, I certainly like it!

LH: Now would you consider yourself a vampire expert?

CS: Not really? I mean, I went through that phase that I think a lot of people go through when they’re kids where they have a year where they just love horror and monsters, and I remember checking out these books from my elementary school library that were like picture book explanations of vampires and werewolves using stills from the Universal Movies. I guess I know as much as anyone else does. Mainly, I’m just a fan of Dracula — specifically Dracula in pop culture. The Hammer movies, the Castlevania games, Marvel’s Tomb of Dracula is a huge influence. I hadn’t actually read the original novel until I decided I wanted to do a Dracula comic, and it really shaped the way I think of him, since that original portrayal is so different from the pop culture notion that we all sort of get from how he is in other media.

LH: So I shouldn’t ask you mathematical questions about the limits of blood that Dracula would be able to imbibe because I mathed up that stuff.

CS: Ha! Don’t try to apply math to magic, Luke. If Dracula wants to drink eight pints of blood in one sitting, he will!

LH: Actually a healthy living hu-man can drink 31 pints every day and process it which is about 2-3 humans. I will bring the math down on Dracula. Dracu-Math!

CS: Sounds like I’ve got a new competitor.

LH: So one thing I’ve wondered is where do vampires come from? Not like a cultural origin about them being inspired by Vlad the Impaler but who was like “Gonna make some dead guys drink blood?

CS: That’s a good question, but not one that I’ve really thought about answering in the series. I know where Dracula comes from — my version actually isn’t Vlad the Impaler, that’s an aspect of the character I’ve never liked, so I just did away with it — but as for where they started in general? I’m not sure. I think the example the roleplaying game Vampire: The Masquerade gave was that they were all descended from Cain, who had been cursed by God to eat naught but ashes and drink naught but blood, or something along those lines. But I got that information secondhand from my time working in a comic and game shop, so I might be misattributing it. It’s a neat idea, though! I think I’m just going to go with “Magic.” It’s a nice catch-all answer.

LH: What about Devil Magic? All the fun of Magic with the bonus of the Devil?

CS: Definitely a possibility.

LH: Now are we ever going to get a CS Universe Crossover comic?

CS: Ha, Chad and I talked about doing a big Action Age crossover with Monster Plus, Solomon Stone, Awesome Hospital and so on, but we never got around to it. I think the closest we came was Matt Digges putting Atnas the Anti-Santa from my Solomon Stone Christmas Special into his Awesome Hospital Christmas special, thus establishing that those two comics exist in the same universe. Maybe I should have Atnas show up to ruin Dracula’s holidays.

LH: Now you also write for Comics Alliance every week day as well as doing the podcast War Rocket Ajax which is now in it’s third year. Anything big coming up for those?

CS: You mean bigger than being the #1 Comic Book Website in America? (Shameless, I know, but I had to say it.)

LH: Chris. You are wrong. CA is the #1 Comic Book Website in the World.

CS: It’s certainly #1… in our hearts.

LH: Is there anything else that you want to plug or recommend to our readers?

CS: Awesome Hospital is usually updated every Tuesday and Thursday, although this week we ran into some unfortunate events that have delayed us for a little bit. Beyond that, I’d just like to point out that Drac drops on Halloween, and it’s $1 for 24 pages of full-color story.

LH: Thanks for being our first interviewee Chris.

CS: Thank you!