Monday, 13 April 2009

Interview! 'Popgun' Editors and Creators...

Not only did I get to review 'Popgun Vol 3' but I also got the chance to run a few questions past the editors and some of the creators behind the stories that I really enjoyed. This is the biggest interview I've done yet! Here's what they all had to say for themselves...

For the editors (D.J. Kirkbride & asst. ed. Adam P. Knave):

Why should everyone stop reading this interview right now, go to their local comic store and buy themselves a copy of ‘Popgun Volume 3’?

DJ: Anyone who likes cool art, crazy stories, lots of good times, and has around 30 bucks owes it to themselves to pick up POPGUN volume 3! It is a delight of storytelling with so many unique and talented creators. But, before they do this, they should bookmark this article and read it when they get back from the shop!

APK: I don't think there is a better bang-for-your-buck book on the market right now, honestly. When you consider you get almost 500 pages of comics by amazing creators for only 30 bucks it becomes something well worth your money. That the comics are all great just makes it mouth wateringly awesome.

How did the concept of ‘Popgun’ first arise?

DJ: Mark Andrew Smith and Joe Keatinge wanted to do an anthology that featured some of the best up and coming creators around along with more established pros.

APK: As I understand it, Mark and Joe had a long talk about comics, and music, and anthologies and decided to create a book that would showcase new talents as well as well known creators, putting them all in one massive book together. Mark came up with the core concept and then called Joe in to talk about what he had planned and the two went off from there!

DJ: Yep. That simple: No theme or major story restrictions or guidelines – just great art and exciting stories. I assisted them on volumes 1 and 2. With volume 3, Joe has stepped aside from the day-to-day of the book, bumping me up to co-editor with Mark. It’s really fun, and we’re just continuing the tradition.

I couldn’t see a common theme that links all the stories together (other than that they’re all good) and I think that’s probably the idea! What are the criteria for getting something published in Popgun?

DJ: Yep, per the original idea, this book is a smorgasbord of comic storytelling goodness. Our only criteria are great storytelling and art and any other random stuff that pops up as we're editing (nice and noncommittal there). For volume 3, we did do a vague sort of grouping sometimes per Mark's suggestion. So we have some crime stories all in a row and an amusing food trilogy -- stuff like that, but it's nothing official -- no chapters or anything like that. Part of the fun of POPGUN is not knowing what to expect. It makes for some weird story juxtapositions sometimes, which always amuses me.

I know that at least one of the stories in Popgun 3 is about to become a monthly comic, are there any others that we should keep an eye open for (either as a monthly series or graphic novel)?

DJ: Are you talking about OLYMPUS? Yeah, the fellas behind that (writer Nathan Edmundson, artist Christian Ward, and letter Jeff Powell) contributed a cool story called "They Say..." It's a nice primer for their upcoming series that can also be read and enjoyed on its own. That's the only one I know of that's officially happening, though Adam P. Knave and I co-wrote a story called "Agents of the WTF" (illustrated by Matteo Scalera, colored by Antonio Campo, and lettered by Thomas Mauer) that we'd love to expand upon and continue as its own series. There are probably other examples of that in the book, too, but no one tells me anything. (JK, LOL… kind of.)

APK: I don't think there are others, which means we are forgetting someone, so we're sorry! We're just tired and … forgetful sometimes. We still love you! Oh wait! I've heard rumors of “Bastard Road” looking at the idea of doing a book of their own. Also, of course, NEW BRIGHTON ARCHEOLOGICAL SOCIETY was born in POPGUN 1 and is out as an OGN now, written by Mark Andrew Smith and drawn by Matt Weldon.

Finally, while we’re all off out buying ‘Popgun 3’ what else should we be putting in our shopping basket? (I’m a comics ‘newbie’ and need some recommendations!)

DJ: This is such a great time for comics! So many amazing ones out there right now. I'm finally reading this book called INVINCIBLE that I've been hearing about for so long, and it's just knocking my socks off. Great and accessible take on superheroes by Robert Kirkman and original artist Cory Walker and current artist Ryan Ottley. Our own Mark Smith and Dan Hipp have a great collection of their series THE AMAZING JOY BUZZARDS out right now that I wholeheartedly recommend - crazy rock 'n roll band solving mysteries and saving the world stuff that is just so fun. Ah, there's so much great stuff out there, and I feel like I'm blanking! THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY, CRIMINAL, SCOTT PILGRIM, MADMAN ATOMIC COMICS, ATOMIC ROBO... so much goodness out there right now!

APK: DJ is finally reading INVINCIBLE, which means I don't have to go beat him up now. Also, please note that his taste in comics is impeccable, those are all fantastic books that are on my shelf as well, though I am a recent reader of ATOMIC ROBO and damn is that series fun. But if you are new to comics I would toss in some stuff that has been out for a while but is no less deserving of a close look. Greg Rucka's QUEEN & COUNTRY is the best spy book around, and now collected in great big editions. ALL-STAR SUPERMAN by Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly might be the only Superman comic you ever need. I also wouldn't be me if I didn't suggest everyone pick up a copy of SHOWCASE PRESENTS: LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES vol 1.

For the creators:

If you’re a writer, tell me a little bit about how you came by the original inspiration for your story...

DEREK MCCULLOUGH: This isn't typical for me, but "Cuffs" came to me in a dream. It wasn't a nightmare exactly, and I don't remember much of the context, but there was a moment where somebody was going to use C4 to take handcuffs off somebody else. I remembered it in the morning and thought it was a creepy enough idea to build a story around. I think I had the initial draft of the script done within 24 hours.

Strangely, the basic premise of the story I have in for POPGUN 4 also came from a dream, but a different kind. Those two are the only based-on-dreams stories I can remember finishing in the last ten years, and they both went to POPGUN.

GUILLAUME SINGELIN: For my story, my inspirations come from a lot thing like old cartoons (Tex Avery or the first Mickey Mouse), Japanese animation like "Lupin the Third" (by Hayao Myazaki) and a comic named "Mutafukaz" from a fellow Frenchman named Run.

BRIAN WINKELER: “Bastard Road: Cockfighter Blues” is the second comic book adventure of our post-apocalyptic pals Bastard & Farel (the first “Bastard Road” tale appeared in Popgun 2). Dave (Curd) and I have been developing “Bastard Road” as an animated series over the last couple of years – we’ve brainstormed a few dozen story concepts and “Cockfighter Blues” happened to be something we fleshed out as a potential early episode. As we started working on what story to tell in Popgun 3, it became a no-brainer to do this story in comic form. Also, it allowed me to essentially write 12 pages of “cock” jokes. I have a strong appreciation (and interest) in adolescent double-entendre – I still have to stifle a giggle when someone uses a word like “tool,” “package” or “shaft” – so the story practically wrote itself.

If you’re an artist, tell me about the process that ends up with artwork that complements the story... How do the two end up fitting together?

DAVE CURD: As Bastard Road is my (and I believe, Brian's) first real effort, our work flow emerged organically. We have a really great give and take, where we are both allowed to push things around and reiterate to get the funny where it needs to be. So sometimes I'm working with specific direction, and others I'm just intuitively putting together a fight scene and leaving blank bubbles, confident that Brian and I can find the joke that fits.

PETER KRAUSE: Well, it's not easy. Sometimes, there's a bit of push and pull between the artist and writer.

On the "Cuffs" story, there was one page that Derek wrote that called for quite a few panels. The idea was great, but I thought the story would be lost with so many small panels.

We compromised by spreading the scenes over two pages. That was the only real point of contention, but it was a big one. I think I just wore Derek down!

As far as how I work on a story, I generally make very small thumbnails (roughly 2" x 3") first, then I do a second thumbnail that is the size of the printed comic. I scan that into my computer, blow it up to 10" x 15" size, and then print a copy which I lightbox onto Bristol board.

I have an example from the "Cuffs" story in the archives of my blog (

GUILLAUME SINGELIN: For a short story like "Carjacking" I want a nervous and simply story. I want a big impact so I do dynamic point of view, colors contrast, dynamic move. All of these things catch the reader I think... I hope so.

(For Everyone) Whose work are you really looking forward to seeing in ‘Popgun 3’? This could be either art or story or both!

DAVE CURD: I'm intrigued by anything Derek Yu does- just a great, fun artist!

GUILLAUME SINGELIN: I really want to see the stories by Sam Bosma and Ralph Neise. I love their beautiful and original styles. I really like the POPGUN 3 story “Found in the Attic” from Olaf Brill and Ralph Neise.

BRIAN WINKELER: I think Josh Parpan has a gorgeous, fun style and I’d love to see more from him. What I’ve seen of “Agents of the W.T.F.” by D.J. Kirkbride, Adam P. Knave and Matteo Scalera looks like big fun as well. I’m a big fan of Paul Grist and his stuff’s never looked better. And Gary Fields’ “Hairballs” is too short at just 2 pages of funny animal violence (as you can guess, “fun” is big for me these days).

Now your work here is done, what can we expect to see from you in the next few months?

DEREK MCCULLOUGH: My book PUG, drawn by Greg Espinoza, will be coming out in June, as will a kids' book I did with Jimmie Robinson, T. RUNT!. I also have a story with Jimmie in the Spearmint anthology, THIS IS A SOUVENIR. All those books are published by Image. Someday - I'm no longer trying to predict when - the book that was meant to be my second GN, DISPLACED PERSONS, will come out through Image. Not too much longer, knock wood. In the more distant future, I'm about halfway done writing the script of GONE TO AMERIKAY, an OGN to be drawn by Colleen Doran. And just today I started work on another Image project that I'd love to talk about but can't.

DAVE CURD: We've got a whopping 24 pages of Bastard lined up for Popgun 4, if that's not too big a spoiler, and after that, we would love to work on a longer narrative in the Bastardverse.

PETER KRAUSE: I'm currently working on the series IRREDEEMABLE for BOOM! Studios. The first issue just came out, and I'll be doing the art chores for the first twelve issues.

GUILLAUME SINGELIN: I’m working on two others comics, one’s called "Pills" and is about young people and weird drugs. The other one, "Lupus," stars a biker and a werewolf. Both will be published in France, but I hope one day they’ll make their way to America and others countries.

BRIAN WINKELER: We’re producing two interlocking “Bastard Road” tales for Popgun 4 – Dave’s working on one, while our pal Eric Sandhop is illustrating the second one. We’ll be introducing a lot more characters into our “Bastardverse,” including sexy lumberjack Elle Natural and cold-blooded lizard bounty hunter ‘Good Baby’ Scales, and we can’t wait to share ‘em with the world. Otherwise, Dave and I are developing “Bastard Road” and some other projects and the only barrier we have is the need to eat and sleep.

And finally, if you could be any one character from the anthology which one would you be...?

DAVE CURD: Easy, the giant black, one-eyed cock! I too, am most sensitive under the head.

BRIAN WINKELER: Not to be too self-promotional, but I’d love to be Bastard for a day. A big, bad asskicker who always gets the gal. And I’m cursed with perpetually weak upper-body strength, so I’d kill for guns like his.

Cheers guys!

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