Thursday, October 19, 2017

Nov-Dec: Patrick McDonnell's Me Jane at the Kennedy Center

In this brand new musical adaptation, join a young Dr. Jane Goodall and her special toy chimpanzee Jubilee as they learn about the world around them and the importance of protecting all living species. Age 6+

Wuerker talks to Blitt

'Wry Titters' in the Age of Trump

How New Yorker cover artist Barry Blitt became the master of the political moment.

Thom Zahler – An Interview with a BCC mainstay

Zahler at BCC in 2014

by Mike Rhode

Thom Zahler has been one of my favorites working long-term in a  ‘cartoony’ style in comic books. His Love and Capes series in particular used a series of Justice League analogues to tell a long romance story. He’s a regular at Baltimore Comic Con (BCC) and recently answered our usual interview questions.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

I write and draw comics. I letter and color most of my own work, too. Basically, I do it all. (I did have a colorist on my recent Time and Vine series, though.)

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

These days, I’m mostly digital, in Clip Studio Paint, coloring in Photoshop and lettering in Illustrator. I still draw by hand when I can, especially commissions at conventions. And when I work on the right project, like My Little Pony, I do work traditionally so I have art for the resale market.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born? 

Early Seventies.

 What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

I took all the drawing classes I could in high school, as well as creative writing and working on the newspaper comic strip. After that, I went to and graduated from the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in Dover, New Jersey.

Who are your influences?

Curt Swan was the first artist I ever recognized. I wanted to be George PĂ©rez like most people reading in the eighties. But Kurt Schaffenberger and Ty Templeton were big influences as I started finding my wheelhouse. And these days, it’s the late Darwyn Cooke.

You've got a very 'cartoony' style (which I love), but has it worked for or against you in getting jobs? Do you have a more "realistic" style?

I used my realistic style on my Raider book, which went nowhere. I think I can pull it off, but it’s like going uphill. And my realistic style isn’t as magnetic as my cartoon style. I’m a decent serviceable realistic artist but a good cartoon artist. So I’m going with my strengths.

The cartoony stuff has worked fine, but I’m also pitching it where I think it works. I’ve drawn Strawberry Shortcake covers, pitched on other cartoony stuff. I know I’m not the artist to draw monthly Superman books, so I’m not aiming for those.

The only difference it really makes is in the stories I choose to tell. I have a spy book I’d love to do, but I’m not the artist for it. But Warning Label, Love and Capes and even Time and Vine, I’m good for. I mentioned Darwyn Cooke before, and he’s who I follow. His stuff works on almost everything, but he also told very Darwyn Cooke stories.

 If you could, what in your career would you do-over or change?

I would take some art history classes. I wish that I had the opportunity to learn more about classic artists. I might have tried moving out to LA to pursue more writing opportunities.

 What work are you best-known for?

It's a toss-up. Love and Capes is what most comic readers know me from, but my work on My Little Pony is by far the biggest title I’ve had the privilege to work on.

Which came first, the Capes webcomic or the comic book?

The LNC print comic always came first. The four-panel beat thing was done for two reasons. One, back then everyone thought half-pages were the secret to webcomics, so being able to have a format that embraced that meant I could repurpose as a web strip if I liked doing the book but couldn’t afford to publish print editions. And two, four-panel beats is a natural comedic metronome to a guy like me who learned so much of his comedy from Bloom County.
How did you get involved with My Little Pony?

I was trying to impress my girlfriend at the time. She was a fan, and IDW was already publishing Love and Capes. So I asked if I could do a cover, because I knew they’d do a few. Bobby, the editor, knew my work and asked if I wanted to pitch the book. Not being an idiot, I said “Absolutely” and went home and mainlined the show to research it.

 What work are you most proud of?

I'm still very proud of the last arc of Love and Capes. It’s heartfelt and really sticks the landing, and part of why I haven’t ever come back to that. But, I feel like every new project is stretching my artistic muscles in new ways. I’m very happy with Warning Label.

Your new book, Time and Vine, is currently being published by IDW. What's it about? How long is it planned to run? 

It’s about a magical time traveling winery, where when you go into the right tasting room and you drink the right bottle of wine from 1912, you go back to 1912 until you sober up. It’s a four issue miniseries, each issue double-sized so it’s like eight issues total, and the last issue just came out. It’s built to do more when I’m ready, and when I have time.

My copies of #2 and 3 from my comics store had the same cover - I assume there was a mix-up in production?

Yeah, pretty much. Mistakes were made, they won’t happen again. The alternate covers, the 1980’s cover on #2 and the 1860’s cover on #3 did print correctly. So only half the issues of #3 are misprinted.

What would you like to do or work on in the future?

I'd like to write more animation. I’d like to work on some mainstream superhero book at some point. But past that, I am very happy with my personal, creator-owned work.

What do you do when you're in a rut or have writer's block?

I take a lot of walks get over story points. And I’ll try to draw something fun to clear out the cobwebs as well.

What do you think will be the future of your field?

I think that I’m in a good place, but it should never be comfortable. Things have changed so much just in my short time in the field. There’s no way that I could have done Love and Capes ten years earlier. Computer coloring made things possible that I wouldn’t have been able to afford. And now, webcomics are getting my stories known in ways that I never expected.

My feeling is that the game is always changing. The only constant is that I have to learn to adapt to it.

How was your BCC experience? How often have you attended it?

I’ve been going to BCC for over ten years. It’s one of my favorite shows. I just adore it, and I love the fans and the pros and everything about it. My favorite thing about the show is that it’s still a comic book show. They’re surgical about bringing in media guests, and keep the focus on comics.
What's your favorite thing about Baltimore? Least favorite?

As far as Baltimore itself, I do love the inner harbor. The humidity.

What monument or museum do you like?

The Cleveland Art Museum and the Jefferson Memorial.

How about a favorite local restaurant?

My favorite place here in town, Taco Local, just closed. Right now it’s a place called Brim. And when I’m in Baltimore, Miss Shirley’s.

Where is "here in town?"

I live just outside of Cleveland, Ohio, birthplace of Superman.

 Do you have a website or blog?

Warning Label webcomic
 My website is I’m also on Twitter and Instagram @thomzahler

Kramer on sewage and other waste

Local cartoonist Josh Karmer does an online informational comic about waste-to-energy systems for the World Resources Institute. 

Oct 26: Jason Reynolds at Politics and Prose

He also recently wrote a Spider-Man novel which I'm sure he'd be glad to discuss and sign. I saw him at Hooray for Books, and he did a great presentation - Mike

Jason Reynolds - Long Way Down — in the Children & Teens Dept. **FOR TEENS AND ADULTS

Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 7 p.m.

Fifteen-year-old Will stands in his building's elevator, a gun tucked into his waistband, heart thudding with grief and fear. When he reaches the lobby, he knows what he has to do: shoot the man who killed his older brother. But as the elevator descends from the seventh floor to the first, something unbelievable happens that forces Will to question everything he's been taught. The events unfold over the course of a single minute, revealed in verse. Long Way Down will ignite an important conversation about gang violence and the rigid "rules" of masculinity. Ages 14 and up.

This is part of the Can We Talk About This event series


This event is free to attend with no reservation required. Seating is available on a first come, first served basis.
Click here for more information.

5015 Connecticut Ave NW   Washington   DC    20008

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Oct. 20: MASL comics panel

The fall meeting of the Maryland Association of School Librarians on October 20 will include a panel of local cartoonists including Jessica Sheron, Alexis Frederick-Frost and Matt Dembicki. The session, moderated by podcaster Matthew Winner, will “focus on creating graphic novels, storytelling through paneled art, and how to support instruction through the use of graphic novels.” 

Oct. 19: Cohen @ Heurich House Museum

Cartoonist Andrew Cohen on October 19 will sign copies of his comic “The Brewmaster’s Castle” at the Heurich House Museum for an event from 6:30-8:30 p.m. that include local comics-themed brewer Heroic Aleworks and Greg Kitsock, the founding editor of Mid-Atlantic Brewing News and contributing editor of Beer Advocate Magazine. The cost is $30 and includes beer, snacks and a tour of the historic home.

PR: 10,000 Sci-Fi items to be auctioned Saturday Oct 21 in Falls Church VA - The Brammer Collection

FOR INFORMATION: Catherine Payling,  Director Waverly Rare Books at Quinn's Auction Galleries; 703-532-5632 ext. 575







The Brammer Family Collection of more than 10,000 books, comics, ephemera

to be sold at Quinn's Auction Galleries


A treasure trove assemblage of early science fiction will be sold  October 21 when the Fred and Eric Brammer Family Collection  of books, comics and ephemera goes to auction at Quinn's Auction Galleries & Waverly Rare Books in Falls Church, Virginia.


An encapsulation of the collections of father and son duo, Fred and Eric Brammer, of McLean, VA,   the sale represents more than six decades of purposeful collecting starting with items from early science fiction and fantasy conventions in the 1930s. Fred, a member of the First Fandom, a group of lovers of the sci-fi and horror genres, amassed a collection of pulp fiction, comic books, ephemera, classic novels, short stories and cult hits starting before the Second World War As he traveled  the globe attending sci-fi conventions, Fred often purchased the newest works by burgeoning authors. Passing along his love of weird fiction to his son, Eric, the Brammer family eventually became staples at conventions sharing their passion for the genre and supporting then little known authors and ventures such as Star Trek.


After Fred's death Eric, a filmmaker and photographer, decided to bring his father's collection to auction for the purpose of using the proceeds to create a documentary examining the Brammer family story in the world of science fiction. His film will also show the influence and importance the members of the First Fandom had on contemporary science fiction and popular culture fandoms.


Highlights of the Quinn's sale will include a first edition of Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and H. P. Lovecraft's The Outsider and Others. In addition to a series of rare and desirable first editions, the Brammer Family Collection boasts hundreds of golden and silver age comic books including Batman No. 181 with the first appearance of Poison Ivy; Captain America, No. 100, and the first appearance of Captain America in his own series; Fantastic Four No. 48, "The Coming of Galactus," and The Amazing Spider-Man No. 129, the first appearance of the Punisher, among many other important and early comics.


The auction will take place Saturday, October 21 at 11 am at Quinn's Auction Galleries, 360 South Washington Street, Falls Church, Virginia.




FOR INFORMATION: Catherine Payling,  Director Waverly Rare Books at Quinn's Auction Galleries; 703-532-5632 ext. 575 




Ann Telnaes on covering Trump

Comic Riffs talks to Brian Fies about his losses to California fires

Santa Rosa cartoonist draws 'a dispatch from the front' after his house burns down

Washington Post Comic Riffs blog (October 17 2017):
"A Fire Story," by Brian Fies. 2017

Wall Street Journal talks to Tom King about Batman...

... but it's behind a paywall.

Batman Shows His Softer Side

The Dark Knight is evolving, with writer Tom King seeing Batman as 'sort of a machine that turns pain into hope.'

By Michael Rapoport

Updated Oct. 16, 2017

Appeared in the October 17, 2017, print edition as 'batman takes on a more human dimension.'

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Big Planet's Jared Smith on Slate podcast...

...although I can't figure out how to listen to these on a computer...

How Does a Comic Book Store Owner Work?

Jared Smith talks about the weekly grind of bringing comics to readers.

Jared Smith.

Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Jacob Brogan.

Over the past six episodes of Working, we've been talking with writers and artists about how comics get made. In this episode, which you can listen to via the player above, we're looking at how they make their way into readers' hands.

This week, we sat down with Jared Smith, one of the co-owners of Big Planet Comics, a chain of four shops in the Washington area. Smith discusses the ups and downs of a job that finds him reading comics almost every day. Along the way, he leads us through a week in the life of the comics shop, from the labor that goes into unpacking boxes of new books every Tuesday to the daily effort of building relationships with customers. He also talks Big Planet's publishing partnership with Retrofit Comics, a project that finds him serving an editorial role.

Then, in a Slate Plus extra, Smith talks about the comics he eagerly reads every month. If you're a member, enjoy bonus segments and interview transcripts from Working, plus other great podcast exclusives. Start your two-week free trial at

Monday, October 16, 2017

SPX's 2dcloud panel

SPX 2017 Panel - Good Minnesotans and Mirror Mirrors: Ten Years of 2dcloud

Moderator Jared Gardner, publisher Raighne Hogan and an array of 2dcloud artists celebrate and recount the history of this cutting-edge indy publisher and look toward its future. Panelists Xia Gordon (Kindling), Margot Ferrick (Yours), Fifi Martinez (Deep Affection), and Laura Lannes (Mirror Mirror II) all debuted new comics at SPX 2017.

Shannon Gallant talks about leaving G.I. Joe for… G.I. Joe

By Mike Rhode
Shannon “S.L.” Gallant spoke recently on a panel on graphic novels at George Mason University’s Fall for the Book Festival. I last interviewed him in 2010 so it was about time to check in again. After the panel (which will be transcribed here in the future), we sat down for a quick talk.

You have just come off of what is supposed to be the longest run of an artist on the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero comic book. How many issues did you draw?

I didn’t even count. I think the IDW guys said something like 70 or 75. I started on #161, which had a cover-date of November 2010, so that means I started before then timewise, and I just did my last issue three months ago, and that was issue #245. There were some fill-ins of various issues along the way.

You were mainly the penciler and didn’t ink yourself on the book?

Gallant inked by Earskine
The only thing I inked were covers. My first few covers were done by whoever the inker was on the book. Some were by Gary Erskine, and a couple were by Brian Shearer, but the last twenty or thirty or so that I did were inked by myself. That was the only inking that I did.

Larry Hama wrote the entire run that you worked on?

He did.

How did he give you the scripts? Was it thumbnails, or typescript? 

Larry works in the old Marvel style which is a springboard style – a synopsis of the page, rather than broken down on the page into panel-by-panel descriptions. He very rarely included any kind of dialogue, because he would script that later. It was basically just a synopsis of the page and he would say things like, “If I have more than one paragraph, consider the paragraph to be a panel,” but it wasn’t a hard rule. That’s generally how he worked.

So you’re leaving the main G.I. Joe title to do… another G.I. Joe title?
I am. It’s G.I.Joe versus the Six Million Dollar Man [jointly published by IDW and Dynamite]. It’s a period piece and I’m setting it in my head in 1981 so it’ll be between the end of the Six Million Dollar Man tv show and the beginning of the G.I. Joe cartoon. I’m modelling G.I. Joe more on the cartoon characters than on the comic book version. So the costumes are pretty much the same, but the characters backgrounds are slightly different.

Who’s writing it?

Ryan Ferrier. He’s done comics for a lot of companies, IDW and Dynamite included.

What kind of script is he giving you?

It’s more of a full script, panel-by-panel breakdowns with dialogue.

Who made the decision about when this was set it time?

It evolved out of everyone talking and deciding with Steve Austin being so set in the ‘70s because of the tv show and the fashions, and Dynamite has gone back from updating the character, to making it more like the classic character in most of their books. I wanted to do it [that way], and feel those books need to be period pieces. A lot of the G.I. Joe fans had issues when we started at IDW with the updating of characters and making everyone have cell phones, and computers, and laptops and iPads and so forth… so this is my way of doing a period piece. The research is one of the biggest hurdles for me on it.

Plus he’d be a Six Trillion Dollar Man now… You’ve said you do a lot of research. Since you’re setting this 35 years ago, are you doing a lot of research to see what buildings and cars looked like at the time?

I’m trying to. I trying to make sure that it at least feels like it’s set in 1981, as opposed to having people with iPods. You don’t want to make those kinds of mistakes. When I got the first script, there were references to an office building with computers on the tables, so I had a discussion with the editor, saying “Well, people didn’t have computers on their desk in 1981. There was a room you had to go to and use a computer.”

How many issues is it?

From what I understand it’s supposed to be four, depending on sales they may expand it.

You’ve also done work for American Mythology in Baltimore lately?

They do a lot of licensed properties. They do have some creator-owned stuff, but the work I’ve been doing for them is on their cartoon properties. They have the rights to Bullwinkle, Casper, Underdog… they started out with a license for Pink Panther and I did the Free Comic Book Day Pink Panther comic where he turns into Thor. Most of what I’ve done for them has been on their cartoon side, but they also do a Three Stooges comic and a Stargate comic.

Do you find it easy to switch styles between G.I. Joe and Pink Panther?

It’s something I’ve always had to do when I was working in advertising. I had to switch styles up a lot. That’s how I ended up as a staff illustrator which is pretty rare.  If they wanted a New Yorker-type comic style or something more realistic, or traditional advertising – that was something I was used to doing and I still enjoy. It keeps the batteries fresh.

Are you hoping to continue on the Six Million Dollar Man after this miniseries?

I enjoy the character. I wonder if it’s one of those things though. I read an interview with Adam Hughes once, about Star Trek, after he did the big Debt of Honor Star Trek graphic novel. He said, “No, I got that out of my system. I’m done with it.” So we’ll see if at the end of this if I’m over the Six Million Dollar Man.

Is there anything you would like to work on?

Dynamite has announced that they’re going to redo Swords of the Swashbucklers, and that’s a series I would love to get on. It was when I fell in love with Jackson “Butch” Guice’s artwork. I would love to do that because I love those characters. It was steampunky before steampunk was a thing. I was never into pirates until that but it’s got enough of a Star Wars feel to it. It’s a fun book.

Who’s writing that?

Marc Guggenheim, the producer of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow tv show.

Over the years at HeroesCon, you’ve become friendly with Butch?

Shadows drawn and inked by Gallant
He was introduced to me by our mutual friend Chris Sparks, who was friends with Butch for years and years. We email back and forth and are friendly acquaintances. I think he’s phenomenal. One of the things I really enjoy about his work – when I fell in love with it, back he was working on Swords of the Swashbucklers, and the work he’s doing now… if you look at his work then, and his work now, you wouldn’t guess it was the same person. Stylistically he has grown, but a lot of artists, when they hit a certain level, they plateau and they stay at that level and they don’t change. He’s still experimenting and trying different techniques. He’s gotten very obsessed with shadow work. To see his penciled pages and then to see what the final looks like… I still don’t know he makes that leap. I’ve asked him multiple times, “how do you approach your shadows, because what you’re penciling, and what I’m seeing in the final product, makes it almost seem like two different people did the book.”