Wait, What? Ep. 130: Friendly Neighborhood Peaslingers

 photo Batman-Inc-13-8_zpsc5ac8e1b.jpgMmmm, delicious tail... From Batman, Inc. #13, art by Chris Burnham

Hey, we are back! Like, backity-back! Like, two full hours of back! Back like Baby's Got Back! Back, like Back to the Future! Like The Front is back! Like Orange is The New Back! Like Back That Azz Up is back, but with more of a later Outkast-influenced Atlanta sound! Wikipedia!

Posterior! Glutes!  Back!

After the jump: show notes...are back! Back like [etc., etc.]

0:00-22:49: Man, it seems like it's been forever, doesn't it?  After a few minutes of us trying to remember how it works, we finally remember that it seems to include "talking" and "listening" and so I wrest from Graeme the full report on his San Diego Comic-Con experience. Topics covered: Marvel's Hall H presentation; the Agents of SHIELD TV show; interviewing Simon Pegg; meeting Glen Weldon; including the Marvel's press conference adaptation of Waiting for Godot; and more. 22:49-1:02:01:  And then we actually talk about, you know, comics?  We discuss the joys of Lisa Hannawalt's My Dirty Dumb Eyes; the pleasures of current 2000 A.D.; Indestructible Hulk #11 (the first part of the "Agent of Time" arc by Mark Waid and Matteo Scalera); the first 19 issues of Irredeemable by Mark Waid, Peter Krause, Diego and Eduardo Barretto; Batman Annual #2 by well-that's-as-far-as-my-resolve-to-list-everybody-went; The Wake; the first trade of Saucer Country by Paul Connell, Ryan Kelly, Jimmy Broxton, and Goran Suzuka. 1:02:01-1:37:27: "It's crazy that we've been talking for an hour and we haven't even talked about Batman, Inc. #13." We try and quickly cover the rest of the stuff we've read so we can get to that milestone, but pretty much fail impressively.  Discussed along the way--we talk about Lazarus #2 by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark; Satellite Sam #1 by Matt Fraction and Howard Chaykin; the latest issue of Sex by Joe Casey and Piotr Kowalski; Amelia Cole #9 by Adam Knave, D.J. Kirkbride, Nick Brokenshire and Luiz Moreno; Hawkeye Annual #1 story by Matt Fraction, art by Javier Pulido (and we throw in a  shout-out to Jog's stellar TCJ column discussing the early art of Jae Lee; Flash #22; Optic Nerve #13 by Adrian Tomine; Judge Dredd Year One #4 by Matt Smith and Simon Coelby; and Five Ghosts #5 by Frank J. Barbiere and Chris Mooneyham. 1:37:27-1:57:31:  We finally cut to the chase (90 minutes into the two hour podcast) and talk about Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham's Batman Inc. #13.  We mention David Uzimeri's brilliant take on the issue over  at Comics Alliance, as well as Morrison's run on New X-Men, Action Comics, the work of Chris Burnham, and much more. 1:57:31-end:  Almost two hours; a lot of comics talk; some pathetic attempts at beatboxing.  The magic is back! Back like Return to the Planet of the Apes! Back like A la recherche du temps perdu! Back like a thing that was absent for a while but now is present! Back like if you look for this episode on iTunes, chances are good you'll find it! Back like if you look right below you can download and listen!

Wait, What? Ep. 130: Friendly Neighborhood Peaslingers

As always, thanks for listening and we hope you enjoy and that when there is a next episode you are aware of it and listen to it as well.

Wait, What? Ep. 97: How soon is NOW

waitwhat97Just listen.  Trust me.

Episode 97! We are getting very, very close to the triple digits!  And, as you can see with the show notes after the jump, we are still capable of bringing the high weirdness.

(After the jump: Hi, Weirdness!)

So, right.  Show notes.  You are still digging these, I hope?  Because they do add a bit of extra duty to my editing chores...

1:04-2:45: All apologies:  Jeff is late, Graeme is behind.
2:45-13:30: But we are once again quick to start talking comics--more particularly, The Essential Incredible Hulk volumes and the art of Herb Trimpe.  We also talk Hulk and the crucial Harvey character that Jeff can't seem to remember.
13:30-38:39: And since we are talking old comics, Jeff brings up the curious case of Aquaman #56 (1971).  He was able to explode Graeme's mind with this story; hopefully, he can explode yours as well.  (There's also a harbinger of our tech problems to come in the middle of this.)  Also included: words of praise for the mighty Jim Aparo and frustrations about accessing reprints.
38:39-43:30:  On to other comics!  Jeff talks highly of Double Barrel #3 (Master of Feng-Shui!), Amelia Cole #2 (story by Adam Knave!), and Archie #635 (art by Gisele!).
43:30-48:08: Also discussed:  The 64 page 2000 AD sampler (partially read, partially too-completely discussed) and our hopes for their offerings as they leap into the digital marketplace.
48:08-55:34: Unsurprisingly, this leads to talk of Dredd as Graeme has recently read a span of Judge Dredd and tells us about it.  How is Judge Dredd like the silver-age Superman?
55:34-58:33:  And somehow I work in Spider-Man, X-Men, and the near-impossibility of reading every appearance of a superhero character. I assure you it organically flows into our discussion of...
58:33-1:04:34: Miss Thing and the Marvel NOW! announcements.  Graeme makes his picks; Jeff suggests that the Fantastic Four are done with.
1:04:34-1:10:49: And why should that be, exactly?  The answer might lie in a very different area than is typically discussed.  Belated props are given, btw, to Jonathan Hickman and we also mention the Waid and Wieringo run.
1:10:49-1:25:59: Speaking of which, Graeme has been re-reading Waid and Kitson's Legion of Super-Heroes book. Also Waid-related: his recent Four Panels That Never Work  about which we (incorrectly, apparently) assume the worst.  But on the plus side, Jeff hypes vol. 13 of Bakuman which is god-damned delightful and highly recommended.
1:25:59-1:37:58: And then, even though Jeff tries to talk about the new Archer and Armstrong reboot from Valiant, we talk about the second Walking Dead lawsuit between Tony Moore and Robert Kirkman about which...hoo boy.
1:37:58-1:41:13: No, we weren't done talking about the lawsuit, but Skype or Jeff's microphone just up and gave up on us.  It takes a minute or two for us to get back into our groove.
1:41:13-1:49:10: Like, Joss Whedon and his exclusive deal with Marvel? Hell yes, we'll talk about that!
1:49:10-1:52:39: Oh, and Archer and Armstrong?  Jeff does get around to talking about it.  Graeme has some good things to say about other books in the Valiant reboot: the new Harbinger and the new Bloodshot.
1:52:39-1:55:08: Also, Becky Cloonan on Batman #12 is a little bit of all right.
1:55:08-1:58:42: Also, Jeff picked up G0dland, Book Thirty-Six from the other week and found it (and we quote) "Kirby as fuck."  Tom Scioli does tremendous work,Joe Casey ups his game, and Skype (or Jeff's microphone) shits the bed.  (Due to the number of awesome double-page spreads in G0dland, Jeff recommends you do not pick this up in digital.)
1:58:42-end:  Graeme has a closing question!  Also, next week is our skip week...so we will be back two weeks from now.
And, well, there you have it, eh?  I'm a little exhausted at the moment so lemme just point you to  the direct link in case you don't have access to our feed on iTunes:
And, as always, we hope you enjoy!

Wait, What? Ep. 93: Thrill Power Overboard

PhotobucketAbove: The Chocolate Waffle, which is a liege waffle covered in dark chocolate, from The Waffle Window, Portland, OR

Yup, Episode 93.  I would say more but I'm slightly overwhelmed with the amount of shite multitasking I'm currently doing (kinda dashing back and forth between two computers at opposite ends of the room at the moment, which neither makes me feel like a mad scientist or a keyboardist in Journey but just someone who is old, Internet, so terribly old).

On the other hand (and behind the jump):  show notes!

0:00-7:51: Greetings; getting schooled by Graeme on Tharg and the mascots of 2000AD and other British comics, with a half-hearted attempt by Jeff to pitch Mascot Wars [working title] 7:51-11:37:  By contrast, Jeff guiltily admits he's been reading the first volume of the Vampirella Archives 11:37-13:37:  Somehow this leads to a discussion of the fascinating copyright information found in Dynamite Books 13:37-15:51: Bless him, Jeff is not giving up so easily on his Mascot Wars idea 15:51-18:55: Jeff gripes about getting back into the routine after his Portland trip, Graeme gripes a bit about getting back into his routine after the 4th of July holiday 18:55-20:52:And so, finally, we start talking comic news--the announcement of Marvel NOW! and the launch of Monkeybrain comics. 20:52-24:35:  Graeme has a thing about the Uncanny Avengers cover and I really cannot blame him; 24:35-25:57: And since we are on the subject, Graeme has a few things to say about that Marvel NOW! image by Joe Quesada, too. 25:57-38:25: And so we talk about Monkeybrain instead, including Amelia Cole by friend of the podcast Adam Knave, Bandette by Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin, the other launch titles, and what we would like to see from the line in the future; 38:25-41:54:  Speaking of fantastic digital comics, the second issue of Double Barrel is out!  And neither of us have read it. But it is out!  And you should consider getting it.  Because it is also Top Shelf and also coming out in digital, we talk James Kochalka's American Elf. 41:54-49:57: Jeff talks about League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century: 2009. Here there be spoilers! 49:57-1:06:42:Graeme's interesting rebuttal concerns whether bad art can be forgiven if it is suitably ambitious. We have a tussle of sorts and then move on to discuss when does the creator develop that "not so fresh" feeling.  (Bonus: Graeme does a pretty great job of justifying our existence, pretty much). 1:06:42-1:15:37: Incentivizing the singles? Does it work?  Brian Wood's The Massive, Ed Brubaker's Fatale, and more discussion of the Monkeybrain publishing plan and a discussion of what works in the direct market. 1:15:37-1:29:48:  Who is stronger, Watchmen or Walking Dead?  Fight! 1:29:48-1:38:32:The possible Thief of Thieves TV show and the need to keep creating new IP for Hollywood; and when or if the Big Two will come around on that. 1:38:32-1:42:37: Uncanny Avengers.  We are a little fixated. Also, Graeme sings the ballad of Cafe Gratitude (except he doesn't sing and it's not a ballad).  And then some clever Brass Eye jokes that Graeme has to explain to Jeff.  Again. 1:42:37-1:47:36: On the other hand, Jeff did get to the comic store that week so he has that going on for him.  His quickie reviews while Graeme listens on helplessly:  Batman, Inc. #2, Fatale #6, The New Deadwardians #3 and 4; Mind MGMT #2; Prophet #26; Popeye #3 (which is awesome and must-have-ish); Tom Neely's Doppelganger; Flash #10; and Action Comics #11. 1:47:36-2:04:08: San Diego Comic Con! Graeme has two questions about it.  Crazy predictions are made and anxiety dream stories are exchanged. [brrt! brrt! David Brothers alert! brrt! brrt!]  Also, Jeff once again tries to coin the term "Nerd Vietnam" to describe SDCC. 2:04:082:09:20-: Closing comments, and a few reviews of waffles from the Waffle Window.  And then....sign off!

If you are of an iTunesian inclination, you may have already chanced upon us.  But if not, we offer you the chance to give a listen right here and now:

Wait, What?, Episode 93: Thrill Power Overboard

And as always, we hope you enjoy--and thanks for listening!

Every Band Has A Burrito Blade Who Loves Them: Part III of Jeff's Talk with Adam Knave

Part the last of my talk with Adam Knave, covering his webcomic, influences, and the 'speed of ludicrous.'

My thanks to Mr. Knave for taking the time to talk to me, and all of you for taking the time to read it (or suffer through it in silence, depending).

More jibbity-jab after the jump.

JL: So how long have you been doing comics then between this and…I’m assuming you’re pretty new to it between this and Legend of the Burrito Blade and the other webcomic whose name has dodged me [Things Wrong With Me]… AK: I’ve only really been doing this for, good lord, probably less than a year, writing comics?

JL: That is not a very long period of time. Do you see your work changing over the course of the year? AK: Oh, good lord, yes. I have a story which will hopefully be in Volume Four. And you know, I gotta say, I do love Popgun, if only because we don’t get our stories in any easier than anyone else. I’ve had stuff rejected.

JL: Really?

AK: Oh yeah. I have a story idea, I send it off to Anthony and D.J., who are editing Volume Four, and I’ll be their assistant again. And they were just like, ‘No, this doesn’t really work for us.’ Okay, so I tried again. It’s just as tough for us.

Comics is a whole new world. That’s part of why I’m doing things like Burrito Blade, because me and my artist---and I don’t know if you’ve looked at the comic at all—but he has, frighteningly enough, never drawn this many sequential pages of anything in his life. And you can see in the first thirty pages, his art is taking these weird leaps. Every three or four pages, he’s learning new tricks.

We just decided that this is a five year boot camp project, where I’m just writing script every few weeks—and that’s why I have an editor—and he’s just producing three pages a week, come hell or high water. And it forces you to up your game consistently, because there’s no waiting, there’s no second thoughts. It’s just, you write, and you get it back and you see it. And you go, ‘Wow, I could’ve done that better,’ and they you write more and you figure it out.

JL: I do notice that with Burrito Blade, that some of is his storytelling and some of it is your storytelling, but it almost feels like when you get on a ten-speed bicycle, and it’s not quite in the right gear at first, and then as you go in, there’s a sense of things being figured out. It’s good, because it does feel a bit like boot camp, and it’s sort of fun to read because of that, I think. AK: And from where we are, because we’re neurotic, we’re something like four months ahead of publication. Because part of boot camp is, we both want to be in the industry more. I’m kind of edging close to it now, but that’ll only get you so far.

And part of it is not only being able to do the work but being able to hit the deadlines. And, you know, having an artist who is obsessive about deadlines is strange.

JL: Yeah, that right there is like, chain yourself to that guy.

AK: Renato is, hands-down…And, you know, again, I’m sitting here proposing to Matteo on the one hand and then leaving him from Renato over here—I’m a shameless hussy. Renato will do things like send me pages, and go ‘what do you think?’

And I will say to him, ‘this is not…this needs to be flipped, this needs to be here, here’s this old weird comic panel as what we’re trying to do, look at this for reference.’ And he’ll just go, okay, scrap the entire page, and re-draw it.

He’s never balked at anything, because he just wants to get better and hit deadlines and make this all work. So we’re all coming from this place so that, by now, we’re in the middle of doing—he just started actually drawing Chapter Four. Which they went about an issue—between twenty-one and thirty pages a chapter—because we’re making a graphic novel, and we set limits on it to try and hit those marks, for pacing issues and everything else. And by Chapter Four, the writing—just being able to see it when I get it back from my editor—the writing is tighter. There’s less of this, ‘I’ll spend a page when I should be spending two panels.’ And his art is getting better, just knowing how to move a camera.

JL: That actually brings a question for me about ‘Legend of the Burrito Blade,’ and I’m sorry to actually interrupt what I was asking you because I do want to hear about you and Renato, too. But it is very, very goofy for something that sounds so incredibly ambitious on your guys’ end. AK: I can’t not do that. I love being able to go, ‘you know what? Today I want a muffin to explode.’ Just because that makes me laugh right now. I want to make a Real Genius float, just because…who doesn’t love Real Genius?

But at the same time, I want to do this deep, big story that’s very ambitious, and part of me has a little bit of fear there, where if we fail in the big ambitious thing, at least we still have the funny to lean on. Just being perfectly honest, that does exist there.

And the rest of it is, I’ve always personally love stories that are a lot deeper than they seem on the surface. So you’re not hammering the point—you can read Burrito Blade through the five year story we have planned, and never get any of the deeper stuff we’re talking about but hopefully still enjoy it.

[It’s too fine a point to being two things at once], but it’s just that’s kind of how I write, sadly.

JL: It’s funny because it reminds me—I just assume that you’re much, much younger than I am—but it reminds me of some of the weird ‘70s Marvel stuff. Definitely there’s a lot of Steve Gerber— AK: Yes, there is. There is a lot of Steve Gerber in that. I will tell you—and D.J. can not like me for saying this—if we get the second Agents of the WTF story done [for Popgun Vol. 4], there is…people will who know Steve Gerber will just look at me and go, ‘you stole what?’ Because I had to, and sadly D.J. is not as big a Gerber fan as I am.

But I used to have a column, which I should really get back to someday, where I was going through every issue of Dazzler. Because, frankly, I love Dazzler. And looking back at it now, it was twenty years ahead of its time. And Bob Haney invented pop comics—and all that stuff…I have a theory about comics that really only two people have ever really ever nailed, which is that there is a speed of ludicrous.

Not the Mel Brooks’ ‘ludicrous speed,’ perhaps ludicrous is the wrong word to use then. But it’s really Bob Burden and Keith Giffen are the only people I know who nail this thing consistently, where you go just fast enough that all of the crazy just kind of happens, but not so fast that it blurs and you can’t keep up and you get confused, and not so slow that you can see the fact that it’s all crazy and it falls apart. There’s a sweet spot of ‘insane’ that things have to be able to move at.

And a lot of those old things, like, Gerber did it in a completely different way but he was doing the same thing with Howard the Duck and some of his Defenders work, god knows. And Giffen and Bob Burden live there. They kind of built the house.

And so every comic page I ever write is literally written for Giffen to draw. In my head, I write things with fifteen panels, and that’s how I want everything I ever do, drawn by Giffen…who will now take out a restraining order…

But yeah, that’s exactly where I live. That weird ‘70s Marvel, ‘let’s just be crazy and also tell a story’ place.

JL: And I wanted to ask you, actually: one thing that did strike me about the Burrito Blade, was even as I was reading it and I’m like, ‘yeah, these guys are still learning and putting things together,’ I was also like, ‘damned if you didn’t nail down, here’s the end of the page and here’s the event that happens at the page turn.’ AK: When I started writing, I told Lauren, ‘keep an eye on this editing-wise,’ because I had the weirdest job in the universe: three pages a week means that you read a page and the next day there’s nothing there. There’s no reason for you to show up. So every page has to give you a reason to want to come back two days later, every third page has to give the reader a reason to want to come back three days later, but it also has to read as a complete chapter, where all the chapters have to read as a complete volume, and all three volumes have to read as a complete god-damn story. So every single page has to play about four different roles. Those turn-points, there’s always a moment at the end of everything—it’s crucially important in my head because I always want people to come back.

It’s the old page 22 in Waid’s entire Flash run.

JL: Yeah, exactly! But each page definitely has a very strong intention to hit that beat, which I thought was interesting. AK: Well, I’m glad it’s working.


Happiness Is A Warm Popgun: Part II of Jeff's Talk with Adam Knave

Yesterday was the first part of my interview with writer/editor Adam Knave, wherein I did a terrible job of getting him to talk about the third volume of Popgun, out today. Today, I do a slightly better job, and although I'm still meager with the art, it doesn't look quite as tiny.

The interview should conclude tomorrow, with discussion about Knave's webcomic and influences.

Part II is after the jump.

JL: Anything else you want to add about Popgun?

AK: It’s awesome and you should buy it? It’s funny; my mother is mostly an editor and also a writer. My father was a writer first and would occasionally edit. And I grew up self-identifying—I’m not like one of those kids who was fifteen, ‘I’m a writer!’ But in my head, I’m always that guy who writes stuff, and never an editor.

And outside of D.J.’s story and the occasional thing, you know, work on websites and doing columns, I haven’t been an editor…until I got thrown into this. And it’s been an incredible learning curve. D.J. Kirkbride is one of the most amazing proofers I’ve seen in my life. The man has a gift. And the fact that Popgun comes out roughly every eight months? It kills me that anyone gets the book done. Just the amount of work, and how strong the book is. If you look at Book One or Two or Three, there really aren’t bad stories.

Part of why I agreed to the book was I was just a fan of it. Because anthologies traditionally don’t really sell, unless—and again Rantz is a god among men for pulling together Comic Book Tattoo—and let’s face it, he was kind of smart: yeah, put Tori Amos’ name on an anthology, it’ll sell. Yeah, that works.

But Popgun had nothing for it but ‘let’s make this incredibly good.’ And that’s kind of where we all sit when we work on it. It’s—I’ve been involved in publishing too long, I’ve seen too many teams of people who just really work together on a project for the money because they’re there today, and they think they’re supposed to be. But with Popgun, everyone involved in it is honestly just there for the love and are amazingly good professionals. And I think we end up with an amazing book full of people that produce…'Bastard Road.' Every chance I get I mention 'Bastard Road,' let me tell you. I am such a hardcore fan of that strip.

JL: That’s the [Cockfighter Blues]?

AK: Yeah. I actually told Brian I want the panel of “Giant Black Cock!” printed on velvet, and I will hang it framed in my living room. I’m not kidding.

Bastard Road: Cockfighter Blues by Brian Winkeler and Dave Curd

But it’s such a joyous thing. It’s that weird mix of everything comics can do, and a lot of Popgun is about that potential of comics. Don’t we all just keep hearing this, you know, ‘oh, well, comics. Just the superhero stuff is all that actually sells and nobody is really innovating anything…unless your name is Grant Morrison,’ unless you’re attacking Grant Morrison that day, in which case he’s not.

But you hear like three names of people who innovate in comics, and I’m telling you, we have like four hundred and seventy-odd pages of people who innovate in comics, hands down. These are people who are just doing incredibly new things with the medium. And it’s brave, and it’s just interesting to see from a production thing—hey, I get to read this stuff first—al of these stories that don’t always have anything in common, but you look through the book and you can feel this thread. You know, that music sensibility isn’t in every page. People aren’t going, ‘let me write a comic based on a rap song.’ But you do feel that sensibility of—before Top Forty Stations became huge and, you know, I grew up in New York, so I’m going to assume the rest of the world was like New York. You know, what became of Top Forty stations back in the early ‘80s played some really weird stuff. They were playing ‘Mercy Seat’ by Nick Cave on the god-damned radio, not a song you would actually get away with playing today.

But they would take these chances, and you had DJs who didn’t have orders to play these four records over and over, and you had people creating something interesting. Even if you didn’t like it, you had to respect it. And I think that’s really where Popgun lives. Because I don’t like every story in the book. I would be lying if I said I did, let’s face it. There’s too much stuff in there to love every story in the book.

But even the ones where I sit there and go ‘Really? This is--? Uh, okay,’ I consistently respect the craft that went into it, because everyone is at a really, really high level here. You have to respect the creators who push this stuff out, and you can tell they just kind of gave their all for it for, again, an Image anthology that—yeah, Volume One won a Harvey, and that’s awesome and well-deserved, I think. But I think it’s not going to buy these cats a car, you know? Let’s face it.

And I get mail, constantly, from people who are not unknown in the industry, who go, ‘I want to be part of Popgun.’ And that just amazes me. Not because, ‘Wow, they like us.’ But just that word is spreading and we’re becoming this place you go for the experiments, for the fun of it, for ‘let’s see what comics can do for a change,’ instead of being told what comics can do.

Vertex by Juan Doe

We tell people, ‘play. What’s the story you’ve always wanted to tell? Let’s see that one.' We actually just got a list of pitches from somebody whose name I can’t remember at all, who’s going to do a story for us, and he gave us these three choices. Here he is, a nice guy, he’s giving us options, that’s kind of awesome. ‘Which one do you want?’

And me, D.J., and Anthony all took a look at this list and we all universally, without talking to each other, went for the strangest, most experimental one in the batch. We’re just like, ‘we want to see you pull off that.’ Because no one’s done that yet.

And you don’t include that really unique, special weird thing unless it’s the one you really want to do. No one ever includes that in the list unless that’s the one they want. So that’s the one we’re going to go for. We want people to tell those stories that they really are fully invested in, because you can see that investment on the page.


We Like the Guns, The Guns That Go Pop: Part I of Jeff's Talk with Adam Knave.

Adam Knave is an assistant editor for the third volume of Popgun, out this Wednesday. He's also a writer of prose and a webcomic writer, and from what I can tell he works his ass off. Other writers and artists have projects they describe as "boot camp," for example, but Knave, along with artist Renato Pastor and editor Lauren Vogelbaum, are planning their webcomic to be a five year boot camp, one in which they're already significantly ahead of what they have posted.

I'm still learning the interviewer ropes so I apologize for the awkward breaks and pacing in the interview--I tried to keep this first part short then realized it was in fact too short. Part one is behind the jump.

Jeff Lester: Let’s start with Popgun, because that’s in theory the stuff that’s most important to get out on time here. When did you—let’s go for the big picture. How would you describe Popgun for somebody who’s never seen it or read it? Adam Knave: The way it was originally pitched to me, when I first came on board, that it was the graphic mix tape. And that’s been their tag since Day One. And you know, you hear something like graphic mixtape, and you say it to people, and they go, ‘so they have music?’ You know, and then you realize you’re dealing with the slow people.

But it really comes down to, it is a graphic mixtape—they actually pull that off. You know, it has all the weird joys of a great mixtape: there’s a flow to it—we’re actually trying something slightly different with the flow in Volume Three than we have in the past.

JL: Oh, yeah?

AK: Yeah, we get to play with that. Volume Two was very much: here are these cool songs that go together. Volume Three, there’s a thematic flow. There’s more of a grouping of stories going on. Because I’m going to take you from one place to the other.

And there’s always an intermission in the middle of the book which…I don’t know if this is what they were thinking of when Mark and Joe first started the book, but it gives me such fond memories of cassettes and that’s the inset cover of the cassette. And so that’s awesome! Because it’s just like the flip to the cassette map! That just makes me smile. Every time.

I’m easily pleased.

JL: That’s good. Always helpful in this line of work.

AK: You know, everyone—everyone—has made mixtapes—or I suppose at this point, playlists—for friends. And that’s really what it is—trying to find established voices doing new things, as well as brand-new voices who just really should be bigger than they are right now. And just letting them play, and seeing where it all comes to and then finding a way to mix it all together, to get a finished product that reads like it was meant.

JL: So do you guys lay down any sorts of boundaries, as far as page limits or topics, or anything like that? AK: Yes and no? There are some boundaries for content. It is an Image book. There’s never going to be outright porn. Past that? Mmm, not really. If it’s justified in the story, we’re usually fine with it.

Page count? I think the longest thing we’ve ever had is thirty pages. I know we have a thirty pager in Volume Three, and that’s the longest anything’s ever going to go. But we also have at least one one-page story. So we’re fairly free; it’s just we have so many people and so much material that we have to put a cap on it somewhere.

JL: I would think so. It’s a pretty big slice of comics.

AK: The great thing is both—I believe it’s Volume One and Two, actually—every volume so far has had roughly 100 pages of content that gets chopped out and pushed to the next volume.

You know, you’d think we’d already have a hundred pages, we’d stop. We don’t. And in Volume Three we actually hit the physical limit to keep the price point. We hit the physical page limit.

JL: How did the story that you end up co-writing in this volume end up happening?

AK: D.J. and I go way back. I don’t know if you remember—here’s a little slice of comic history for you—Too Much Coffee Man magazine.

JL: Oh, yeah.

AK: My first-ever, like, hard-print published journalism type stuff was in an issue of that. A website I ran, we interviewed Shannon Wheeler, and I kept in touch with him because I’m shameless. It’s how you get somewhere, you know?

And then just every now and then, I’d tell him, you know: if you ever need anything done, let me know. Glad to help out.

And one day he dropped a line and said, ‘I had this guy who was going to interview somebody for it me and then he dropped out. Can you do it?’ I said, ‘Sure.’ This was a Wednesday.

He said, ‘Okay. I need you to find someone who speaks Klingon and interview them.’

And I was reading this going, ‘You want me to—am I reading this correctly?’

And he’s like, ‘Yeah, find someone who speaks Klingon, interview, but we’re going to just present the interview in Klingon with no translation. And it’s going to be really funny.’

And I was like, ‘Okay.’ Again, this is Wednesday. He says, ‘All right. I need it by Friday.’

JL: So you actually had to transcribe—conduct and transcribe—an interview in Klingon in two days. AK: I did it over email. I actually had a friend in Atlanta who knew someone they worked with who spoke Klingon.

God bless people who live near DragonCon. That’s really the secret.

But, no, I had to proof Klingon. Which, you know, I’m sitting with a book, going, ‘You need this extra apostrophe after this q.’ Just sitting there going, ‘what the hell am I doing?’

But I ended up on the staff of that for like the two or three issues before it went under. Which I still say had nothing do with me. And the last issue—which actually never came out—was Kirkbride’s first issue.

It was one of those things where he was now the new kid, and I was now the seasoned vet of like an issue and a half. So we were like, ‘let’s do something together!’ And we just found that we write together really weirdly well.

So when he was doing Popgun, I edited his story in Volume Two. And we said, ‘we should do something together.’ So we started doing all these stories. And finding artists—which, you know exactly the fun of that. Where you go, ‘It’s for Image. There won’t be any money! Because, well, it’s Image. So there’s no pay rate. So there might be money at the back end, but won’t you do this for free for now?’ It’s an eight page story, that’s why we get someone to say yes.

So we had a bunch of stuff in the works that we thought was going to end up in Volume Two. And nothing quite got done in time. We had an artist bail on us, and all the standard things that happen in life. And we ended up finding Matteo, who…I want to ‘art marry’ him.

He’s blindingly fast. And if you look at his work…he turned those pages around in something under a page a day.

JL: Good grief. Really.

AK: He’d sent us these sketches, and they were kind of very airy and all over the place. And we’re like, ‘there’s not going to be enough room! How is this going to work?’ And he says, ‘Oh no, those were just the sketches. I’m re-drawing them!’

And we’re like, “You’re going to…okay?’ You know, what do you say. ‘You go do the thing you do that frightens us, and we’ll be over here, screaming.’ And he just knocks them out of the god-damned park.

JL: That’s really amazing to know, particularly since the storytelling is really energetic—the angles and perspectives are all over the place, and everything’s always moving. You guys have just a few pages so of course it’s got to move, but there’s maybe half a panel where somebody isn’t screaming or running or flying.

AK: And I will admit, this is mostly my fault. I come from prose which, you know, that sentence makes it sound like another planet, and I guess in comics it is. I was at New York Comic Con talking to people, and I’d be like, ‘oh, did you want a copy of my book?’ Because I had my book with me (because I’m a whore, and I don’t mind that) and people were going, ‘It’s just prose? Why would you do that?’

So I hadn’t been writing many comics, because…when you grow up and you love comics, you want to write comics but you don’t know any artists, and after a while, you stop trying. So I hadn’t been really working in comics, so I was very much a wordy bastard. (As you might be noticing from this interview. It’s a curse.)

So the script kind of had these six pages that really should’ve been more like twelve. And it kind of forced ‘Teo to just make everything move that much faster. And when we saw it, we’re like, ‘Oh my god, you actually pulled this off. And we’re so sorry we did this to you!’

You know, we’re doing another one for Volume Four. Same characters. We’re doing a sequel. Not so much a sequel, as another story with these lunatics. We’re taking twelve pages and we’re writing about the same amount of script we did for the first one. Just because we figured we’d actually let him draw.

Tomorrow in Part II: More about Popgun, webcomics, etc.