Interview with Steve Collier, Founder of Japan Comic Aid

Rob Base sat down with the founder of Japan Comic Aid, Steve Collier.

 

Q. For anyone unfamiliar with Japan Comic Aid, please explain your mission and goal.

A. At Japan Comic Aid, our mission is simple; To create comic books of top quality which will be sold to raise funds for Japan Earthquake relief projects. We are a group of writers, artists, designers, and publishers who have come together from various parts of the world to do this. We take zero profit and put ALL of the profits towards the fund. We don’t want to quickly produce a bunch of comics which aren’t very good though. We want to pay tribute to the creativity of the Japanese creators who have inspired us over the years and turn out genuinely exciting stories that people will truly enjoy. In that sense, it’s not simply about making money but letting people have something they can take away with them and re-read. Maybe it’ll inspire people new to comic books to get in to the medium which has kept us turning pages for years!

Q. When and how did the initial concept come about?

A. I came up with the idea late one night as common with most ideas. I had finished a shift at my day job and wanted to get on with some writing for a screenplay I’d been working on for a while. I had become frustrated with it and slightly downcast at the prospect of a long “buy my script” process which is notoriously hard to begin let alone complete. The script involved an undercover agent investigating a natural disaster which, it turns out was caused by a giant monster, or Kaiju. The influence of Japanese films such as Gojira and Gamera was prevalent but I’d hit a wall. This was at the beginning of April, almost a month after the devastation in Japan on 11/3. Since the Earthquake I had wanted to do something to help relief efforts. I realised I could use my writing to create amazing stories and comic books seemed a more immediate way to do it. I had given up trying to be an artist a long time before so the hunt began for someone who could convey my scripts to the visual standard I was looking for. It took a couple of months to sort out some stories and turn them in to draft scripts. I think it was June when I said to myself “ok, let’s do this” and Japan Comic Aid was born via an email address and Twitter account!

Q. How many different artist and writers are you currently working with?

A. At present, we have five writers (one of them myself) and five artists involved. I have written two comics, Mystery Boys and Kaiju Steel, which will both be turned in to ongoing series, I have another couple in development. Andy Clift draws Mystery Boys, Lee Killeen draws Kaiju Steel. Ken Bastard wrote and drew up Nowhereville. Ryan Schrodt (writer) and Scott Arnold (artist) are working on a very cool sci-fi book which is under wraps at the moment. Tonci Zonjic is involved as a variant cover artist (and trust me the covers are going to be stunning!), Sonia Leong has contributed original artwork and prints for us to auction to raise even more money. Jenny Brundle will be taking up art responsibilities on another project I’m working on…There’s also another artist who I can’t really talk about yet. Actually, I don’t know if I should really include Ken in those figures. He wrote AND drew a comic for us incredibly quickly. It seems unfair to include superhumans… It makes the rest of us feel slow! Haha! All of these creators are unbelievably talented and I was really lucky to get this group together. We are always on the lookout for more artists though so if you’re reading this and you can draw, email us immediately!

Q. On your site and via your Twitter, it mentions that you have comic icon Stan Lee involved. How did this pairing come about? Did you guys approach him or vice versa?

A. The question everyone asks! Haha! I’d love to say he sought us out but no, we approached Stan via his entertainment company, Pow! I was literally emailing everyone to see if they’d like to contribute somehow. I emailed Stan to see if he’d like to write a one shot for us. It was a long shot. Everyone in the comics industry seems to have an aversion to rest and the amount of projects they take on is… well fingers won’t cut it! I knew he’d say no so I took an opportunity to see if he’d like to contribute with a foreword to the books. I know Stan writes manga and has a love of Japan so I thought this could be a possibility but there was a niggling doubt that it would happen. One day, an email from his office pops up saying that the man would love to contribute and to send the comics over to read! About a week went past and I received the foreword. I felt it would be a big boost for us but funnily enough the fact that an unknown creative team from the UK managed to get one of the names in comic books involved seemed to be met with some scepticism! To me this was weird. Stan Lee is no different than your Aunt Hettie. he just happens to be an incredibly gifted story teller and character developer who owns some of the biggest franchises in the world. Everyone has a heart and nobody could ignore the events in Japan. Not even Aunt Hettie! It is an honour though to have a foreword from Stan Lee at the front of every book we publish and we can’t thank him enough for taking the time to read the books. I know the other guys were pretty stoked for that!

Q. How helpful has the internet been in the production and awareness of your books?

A. The internet and social media is the reason these books are being produced. Like I said before, I started the project as an email address and Twitter feed. I then created the Facebook page, the website… Social media isn’t the future of project creation. It’s the now and it’s hugely relevant to what we do. It would have taken a lot longer to get people like Stan Lee, Tonci Zonjic and Sonia Leong involved let alone the guys who are direct creators. And that’s important by the way, all of these comics are completely original. I wanted to find people who would be able to deliver originality and quality. By being able to look at online portfolios, to have chats online with people on the other side of the world, to send scripts and artwork to one another real time is how this came together in such a collaborative way. This is what people in the industry have been able to do for years and years. The only difference is only a couple of us have ever met in real life. To create an organisation like that is an example of how modern technology is really changing the world. I’m a big social media geek anyway and this kind of thing fascinates me. It’s one of many useful tools we have at hand. Marketing is a different story. You really have to place things correctly to get noticed. We don’t have money to hire a company to market our product so we do it ourselves. It involves a lot of emails, tweets, hype, Facebook… It takes up a lot of time and to be honest it can become really exhausting. It’s cool when an RT from someone like Mark Millar results in an 800% rise in the hit rate of the website though! Results like that are the pay off that make us think “You know what, we’re getting somewhere.” Social media or not though, it’s still hard work and you just have to keep going. Then I think it would be a lot worse if it was me in areas affected by the Earthquake and Tsunami and I had nothing at all. After moaning about sending 100 emails and getting 98 rejections or no reply at all, a degree of perspective is in order…

Q. Tell us about the titles you are producing.

A. Nowhereville is the creation of Ken Bastard, an amazing artist who really understands the hard boiled Boston tinged storytelling of all those pulp noir books. It follows Ben Blake, a reporter investigating the mysterious disappearance of children in small town America during the Depression. You really think you’re going in one direction with the story and then it throws a curveball and suddenly you’re in the realms bordering on science fiction. The landscape and depth of story is so well realised that there was a point where I wondered if I should carry on writing myself! It’s an amazing work, and I really hope the character of Ben Blake returns. We’ll see. Maybe one day I’ll convince him!

Mystery Boys is written by me and drawn by Andy Clift. It follows agents Johannes Neumann and Matthias Furore as they unravel cases you might call paranormal. Ancient forest deities, Victorian dabblings in the occult, parallel dimensions. That sort of thing. The big influences for me in writing this were Hellboy, X- Files, Men in Black, Powers and buddy movies like Pineapple Express. I wanted to avoid making something that was a copy of those however and I think we really pulled it off. Indiana Jones was another influence. That serial adventure feel. There’s a lot of humour in the book. There are sections which make me laugh every time I read them and I wrote the damn script! That’s partly due to the awesome artwork of Andy Clift though. We decided on a really cinematic feel to the visuals with some lovely lense focus effects and wide angle shots. Andy is a filmmaker and animator so he really got the aesthetic. The other thing is that his art really open up the script for me. I look at the panels and suddenly another twenty lines of dialogue pop in to my head. It’s been a very collaborative process and the universe we have created around the characters is something I’m really proud of.

Kaiju Steel is written by me and drawn by Lee Killeen. This project was meant to be. I had the script ready and one of the first people to get in touch was Lee. I said I had this project involving epic action and giant monsters. He sent me a link to his portfolio and the first images to pop up were just that sort of thing! The book centres around a 16yr old school kid names Scott who is studying for his GCSE exams and getting really frustrated with being bogged down in such a mundane life. He wants something more and feels destiny calling. Eventually he happens upon a mystical Katana which allows him to communicate with Kaiju. He then becomes involved with defending Earth alongside it’s guardian Kaiju against those other creatures who would take it for their own or destroy it. Secret government agencies get involved as they always seem to and, well you’ll have to wait and see! Lee’s artwork is amazing. He draws these creatures better than anyone I’ve seen and the action will be huge! The first sketch he sent me “Here’s something I threw together last night” blew me away!

I can’t really talk about the other projects at the moment… but I’ll briefly describe them. The collaboration between Ryan Schrodt and Scott Arnold is going to be another unique vision of action and sci-fi with a really cool 50’s US twist which stretches to the modern day. It’s about pride, family, legacy and aliens! It’s one of those scripts that I read and wondered why nobody had done it before! The project I’m starting soon with Jenny Brundle will be our first manga which is really exciting. It’ll be produced like a comic book but visually, the references include Fullmetal Alchemist, Generator Rex and a bunch of other stuff. There’ll be an enormous sense of scale and adventure to it. Can’t wait to get on it. I’m also writing something with Jon Scrivens which will be a really fresh take on the superhero theme. I know that’s been said a thousand times but this extends beyond what has been done before and beyond the comic itself… I started writing it properly today and I know it’ll do something big… All of these projects will be completed. It’s going to be a busy year!

Dead Universe comics are publishing our books. That was another happy coincidence. Same town, right time. They’ve been really generous especially with helping in areas of the business I’m not personally that well versed in. We couldn;t have published these comics without them

Q. In closing, sum up Japan Comic Aid.

A. What we have managed to achieve with creators doing this in their free time and for no payment at all is astounding. I mean the comics we’re putting out genuinely put a number of titles from big name publishers to shame. It does take a lot longer but we know you’ll love the books. The main thing is that this is a charitable project that isn’t just asking for a certain amount of money each month. We actually give comic book fans something which they already enjoy and for no more than you would pay for Spider-man or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (we tried to get Eastman. No luck!) so everyone wins really! Millions of people killed, injured or displaced, whole towns wiped off the map and an estimated decade of restructuring is the result of 11/3. Some people may say “charity begins at home.” Our home is this planet and we are all human. In this time of global networking, it is probably more reasonable than ever to do whatever you can to help wherever you can. The scale of the disaster is too huge to ignore and we must do what we can. And that is what Japan Comic Aid is all about.

Japan Comic Aid website: www.japancomicaid.wordpress.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/comicaid
Facebook: Search for “Japan Comic Aid”
Follows their creators on Twitter: @stevemcollier Steve Collier | @mrpaintyman Lee Killeen | @andywclift Andy Clift | @ryanschrodt Ryan Schrodt | @kenbastard Ken Bastard | @industristudios Scott Arnold | @jennybrundle7 Jenny Brundle | @jonscrivens Jon Scrivens | @tozozozo Tonci Zonjic | @deaduniverse Dead Universe Comics (publisher)

IDW Publishing: Thirteen Years and Stronger Than Ever!

IDW Publishing rings in its teen years with a string of successes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Diego, CA (May 16, 2012) – Buoyed by extraordinary fan response, explosive material, and a dedicated retail market, IDW is spending a lot of year thirteen making repeated trips to the printer!

Going back to press on multiple books, including Popeye #1, Road Rage #1 and #2, TRANSFORMERS: Robots in Disguise #1, TRANSFORMERS: More Than Meets the Eye #1, and multiple printings of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1-5, to name a few, has given IDW a lot of work to do and a lot to think about. That’s to say nothing of the fact that this week brought sell-outs of Frankenstein Alive, Alive! #1 and TRIO #1!

“In all my years in the Direct Market, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen things blow up quite like this,” said Publisher and CEO Ted Adams. “We’ve been overprinting aggressively, and still not meeting demand. The initial orders we’re seeing are huge, and the increases we’re seeing at Final Order Cut-off are substantial.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It should also be clear to fans and retailers alike that this wave of comics awesomeness has far from crested. Extremely strong sales of Mars Attacks, KISS, Godzilla, and the hotly-anticipated Star Trek: The Next Generation and Doctor Who crossover, among others, are just a handful of indicators screaming that IDW does not plan to stop putting out some of the industry’s most popular and prosperous titles.

With more launches on the way later this year, from The Crow to Judge Dredd, clearly the publisher shows no signs of slowing down.

For those intrepid retailers out of stock on the titles mentioned above, here are the second printings now available from Diamond:

  • MAR128262 – POPEYE #1 (OF 4) 2ND PTG
  • DEC118180 – STEPHEN KING JOE HILL ROAD RAGE #1 (OF 4) 2ND PTG
  • DEC118133 – TRANSFORMERS MORE THAN MEETS EYE ONGOING #1 2ND PTG
  • DEC118181 – TRANSFORMERS MORE THAN MEETS EYE ONGOING #2 2ND PTG
  • DEC118134 – TRANSFORMERS ROBOTS IN DISGUISE ONGOING #1 2ND PTG
  • DEC118182 – TRANSFORMERS ROBOTS IN DISGUISE ONGOING #2 2ND PTG
  • OCT118132 – TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES ONGOING #1 GLOBAL CONQUEST ED
  • OCT118133 – TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES ONGOING #2 GLOBAL CONQUEST ED
  • OCT118134 – TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES ONGOING #3 GLOBAL CONQUEST ED
  • OCT118135 – TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES ONGOING #4 GLOBAL CONQUEST ED
  • OCT118136 – TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES ONGOING #5 GLOBAL CONQUEST ED
  • OCT118137 – TMNT MICRO SERIES #1 RAPHAEL GLOBAL CONQUEST ED
  • DEC118132 – TMNT MICRO SERIES #2 MICHELANGELO GLOBAL CONQUEST ED

Visit IDWPublishing.com to learn more about the company and its top-selling books. IDW can also be found at http://www.facebook.com/#!/idwpublishing and http://tumblr.idwpublishing.com/ and on Twitter at @idwpublishing.

TONY PURYEAR’S CONCRETE PARK RETURNS TO DARK HORSE PRESENTS!

TONY PURYEAR’S CONCRETE PARK RETURNS TO DARK HORSE PRESENTS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 16, MILWAUKIE, OR—With overwhelming fan support, Tony Puryear’s Concrete Park is slated for a new story arc in Dark Horse Presents #14–#17!

Concrete Park’s return in Dark Horse Presents #14 brings us dark visions for Isaac and an event that will rock all the inhabitants of Scare City, human and non-human. This ongoing sci-fi series, written and drawn by screenwriter Tony Puryear (Eraser) takes you to a far-off planet where Earth’s poor youth have been exiled, and where they now must make a new world.

“Working with Dark Horse, getting to appear in DHP alongside great new work by Mike Mignola and Neal Adams is a terrific honor,” Puryear says. “I’m gratified that the reviews have been so positive, and more importantly, that the fans are finding and following Concrete Park. And on a personal note—we got the cover!”

Praise for Concrete Park:

“The visuals on Concrete Park are a highly graphic style that is incredibly appealing.”—Comic Book Resources

“[Puryear’s] art . . . instantly grabbed my attention. His thick, heavy inks are striking, forming his characters with a great deal of confidence and force. Through his art, you instantly get a feel for this near-future [city]; the swagger of his characters and their surroundings just bursts off of the page.”—Read About Comics

“Concrete Park is no longer the unexpected surprise of Dark Horse Presents. Now that we are three chapters into the story, I expect it to be good. And it is. Screenwriter Tony Puryear is making his debut in comics with this series, and he is doing damn fine double-duty as writer and artist. Every time I think I know what is going on in Concrete Park, Puryear throws me for a loop.”—Comics Bulletin

Dark Horse Presents #14 is on comic stands July 18, 2012!

Joe Kubert’s Tarzan of the Apes: Artist’s Edition coming in September from IDW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Diego, CA (May 18, 2012) – Joe Kubert is one of the most lauded artists in the history of comics, a true living legend. He has been a vital creative force since the 1940s and remains so to this day. He has had defining runs on Hawkman, Enemy Ace, Tor, Sgt. Rock, and many others. Among his career highlights is Tarzan of the Apes, and Kubert‘s rendition could arguably be called the definitive comic adaptation of the Ape-man.

“To have the Tarzan stories I drew commemorate the 100th anniversary of a strip I fell in love with as a kid is the thrill of a lifetime,” said Joe Kubert, writer and artist of all the stories in this Artist’s Edition.

This Artist’s Edition collects six complete Kubert Tarzan adventures, including the classic four-part origin story. Each page is vividly reproduced from the original art and presented as no comics readers have seen before. For fans of Kubert and Tarzan, this new entry in the Eisner-winning Artist’s Edition line must be seen to be believed!

2012 is the centennial year for Tarzan. Created by master storyteller Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan is instantly recognizable to countless fans around the globe. Other notable creations of Burroughs’ include John Carter of Mars, Korak, Carson of Venus, and At the Earth’s Core.

“I first read these comics when I was 10 years old, and they remain some of my favorite stories ever,” said Editor Scott Dunbier, “this is Joe Kubert at his absolute best.”

What is an Artist’s Edition? Artist’s Editions are printed the same size as the original art. While appearing to be in black & white, each page has been scanned in COLOR to mimic as closely as possible the experience of viewing the actual original art—for example, you are able to clearly see paste-overs, blue pencils in the art, editorial notes, and art corrections. Each page is printed the same size as drawn, and the paper selected is as close as possible to the original art board.

JOE KUBERT’S TARZAN OF THE APE: ARTIST’S EDITION ($100, hardcover, black and white, 156 pages, 12” x 17”) will be available in stores September 2012.

Visit IDWPublishing.com to learn more about the company and its top-selling books. IDW can also be found at http://www.facebook.com/#!/idwpublishing and http://tumblr.idwpublishing.com/ and on Twitter at @idwpublishing.

Boom! Studios Teaser

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About BOOM! Studios
Founded by Ross Richie, 2009 and 2010’s “Best Publisher” BOOM! Studios (www.boom-studios.com) generates a constellation of Eisner and Harvey Award-winning, bestselling comic books and graphic novels with the industry’s top talent, including Mark Waid’s IRREDEEMABLE, new HELLRAISER comics written by Clive Barker, PLANET OF THE APES, 28 DAYS LATER, and Philip K. Dick’s DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP?. BOOM!’s all ages imprint KaBOOM! publishes Charles Schulz’ PEANUTS, Roger Langridge’s SNARKED, Cartoon Network’s ADVENTURE TIME, and GARFIELD. BOOM!’s lit comix-focused imprint, BOOM! Town, recently won the Eisner Award for its first book, Shannon Wheeler’s I THOUGHT YOU WOULD BE FUNNIER.

The Game Bakers’ Casual RPG, SQUIDS, Now Available for PC Download

The Game Bakers’ Casual RPG, SQUIDS, Now Available for PC Download
Colorful characters, a comedic storyline, and creative gameplay make SQUIDS a rare aquatic treat

PARIS – May 16, 2012 – Independent developer The Game Bakers is announcing that their bestselling role-playing game, SQUIDS, can now be downloaded for PC. Originally released for iPhone and iPad, SQUIDS has already been enjoyed by more than one million players worldwide. The new PC download sells for USD$6.99 from a number of online stores, as well as directly from the developers: http://squidspc.thegamebakers.com

Developed by a team with years of experience working on AAA computer and console games, the lighthearted SQUIDS has diverse appeal thanks to its casual (yet very addictive!) gameplay, tactical RPG-inspired elements, whimsical cartoon art style, and humorous adventure storyline. The Squids’ lush underwater world is being threatened by insidious black ooze. Now it’s up to a ragtag team of Squid heroes to fend off the ooze-infected crustaceans and protect their homeland from certain destruction.

By choosing among four classes of Squids, each with unique abilities and equipment, players build a team of Squid heroes to engage in turn-based battles against rival crabs and shrimp. The billiards-like controls are easy to master: simply use the mouse to grab a Squid by the tentacles, take aim, and fling it across the battlefield. But success can be harder to achieve, requiring strategy and skill as players learn to use the environment, their party’s strengths, and the enemies’ weaknesses to the Squids’ advantage. A catchy soundtrack and comical animations complement the casual playing experience.

SQUIDS’ initial release on iOS was met with hundreds of positive reviews from players as well as gaming press. The game has consistently maintained a perfect 5-star player rating since its App Store debut last October. Eurogamer applauded its “gorgeously-drawn graphics” and “superb soundtrack,” calling SQUIDS “a sheer pleasure to play.” Wired’s GeekDad said, “The levels are gorgeous … with a top-down view of the action and tons of lovely details in the backgrounds.” And GameZebo awarded the game a perfect score, concluding: “SQUIDS is a rarer find than an all-natural Tahitian pearl. From the gameplay to the graphics to the sound, everything here is pitch-perfect.”

To purchase SQUIDS directly from The Game Bakers or view a list of online stores that carry the PC download, please visit the game’s official website: http://www.squidsthegame.com

SQUIDS assets, including high-res screenshots, can be found here: http://thegamebakers.com/vip

About The Game Bakers
The Game Bakers is an independent video game studio based in Paris and Montpellier, France. Founded and staffed by industry veterans whose credits include numerous AAA console games, The Game Bakers focuses on creative projects that combine traditional gaming values with the emerging opportunities afforded by digital distribution, touch devices, and the mobile market. Their first game, SQUIDS, is available now for iOS, Android, Mac, and PC. To learn more, visit the company’s website at http://thegamebakers.com. The Game Bakers are also on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/thegamebakers) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/thegamebakers).

CELEBRATE DEADWEEK THIS AUGUST!

Gary Reed’s DEADWORLD returns in a weekly miniseries!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Diego, CA (May 16, 2012) – This August, IDW Publishing is proud to announce the return of original co-creator Gary Reed’s classic zombie series Deadworld! When vicious masses of undead monsters have taken over the planet, desperate humans cling to hope while warring factions of uniquely sinister zombies conspire against each other. Deadworld is a zombie tale unlike any other and a horrific and thrilling world that is decades in the making and unique unto itself.

“It seems like everything with Deadworld over the years is culminating towards this storyline, yet at the same time, it is an opportunity to introduce new readers to the Deadworld saga. That’s why I’m so excited about this series, as it accomplishes both” said co-creator Reed.

Deadworld has seen a number of different formats and volumes over the years, but Reed’s collaboration with artist Sami Makkonen, Deadworld: War of the Dead will be hitting comic shop shelves in a particularly thrilling fashion this August. War of the Dead will be released weekly in every one of August’s five weeks!

Five issues of grim and terrifying zombie action in one month? What could be better?

Oh, that’s right, five issues of Deadworld in horrifying, skull-crushing full-color! For the first time!

As a bonus salvo in IDW’s August Deadworld onslaught, Deadworld Classic Volume 1 and Volume 2 will be offered again; as well as the hit Deadworld: Last Siesta TPB!

Help Us Protect and Maintain Japan Society’s Landmarked Home!

 

 

 

 

Completed in 1971, Japan Society’s 333 East 47th Street building, designed by Junzo Yoshimura and George G. Shimamoto, received an exceptional recognition—a landmark status by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. As a guardian of our historic home, we are responsible for protecting and maintaining this legacy for generations to come.

Help us care for 333 East 47th Street and organize exciting and critical cultural, business, policy and education and family programs with a tax-deductible contribution! In addition, your gift will help us continue to play an important role in the recovery of Japan through the administration of the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund.

DONATE TODAY!

Japan Society is now one of 40 landmarked buildings in New York City competing for restoration grants from Partners in Preservation sponsored by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Help Japan Society win a grant by voting for us once daily from April 26—May 21, 2012!

VOTE NOW!