Thursday, December 23, 2010

#015 - The Christmas Episode!



Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates Christmas! Here's a special episode, where we talk about Christmas and snakes! Please tell us about yourself on Twitter (hideousenergy), Facebook, and hideousenergy@gmail.com. Visit FanOff.com and talk to us on our forum, or even use your internet to download us on iTunes. We can't stop making the internet do our bidding. We won't.

Episode 15:
• Intro: Harry Potter and awkward naming; easy jokes; we turn into Oprah; and ohhhh boy we sort of lose control, surprising no one.
• Top 5 - People Who Would Be Better Santas Than Santa (We promise we won't just do Top Fives from now on)
• Outro: Hideous Energy gets sued!

David Hopkins and Austin Wilson celebrate Christmas, and so does guest star Caleb Schmreen. This show runs 45:47. Talk about your favorite things on FanOff.com and our forums. Download us on iTunes and put our show on your brand new iPod. We'll be back to normalcy next week, promise.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Webcomics - The Worlds Within the World

Hideous Energy: "We read everything."

That is a direct quote from our interview with Liz Suburbia. She's a comic artist and writer, and does a webcomic called "Sacred Heart." During our interview we asked Liz what comics she reads (both from the shelf and online), and she gave us a huge list and made us realize we don't read anywhere near "everything." That's a good thing though. She gave us a list of things to discover, and we thought we'd share her suggestions. We won't be able to post a review of them, as it would mean we'd have to put the list up a few months from now after we could formulate opinions on them. For right now it's just a list. Maybe there's something new on here you've never heard of. There definitely was for us.

- • -

Achewood - Written and illustrated by Chris Onstad, the site says this: "“Achewood,” like wormwood, was used by antebellum slaves in the production of “achewater,” a long-since outmoded and outlawed Southern beverage. Drinkers of achewater experienced hallucinations and euphoria, but the after-effects of the liquor produced a deep and lasting melancholy (hence its name). Modern science has confirmed that achewood oil, the active ingredient in achewater, is a powerful depressant which causes irreversible neurological damage. Achewater is generally thought to have inspired many Southern folk songs and fables, such as “The Story of Poor John Ritch,” “Sullivan’s Bear and Dried Bird” and “I’m Following a Little Round Lord.”" It looks like a book that can cause pangs of nostalgic melancholy, or force you to laugh at the ridiculousness of everything. It definitely has us intrigued.

Templar, Arizona - Here's what the "Templar, Arizona" site says about the comic, written and illustrated by : "I’m Spike. I’m a lady. I live in Chicago, with a dog and a man. I was born in Washington, D.C. the day that Jim Jones poisoned 900 members of his doomsday cult in Jonestown, Guyana. I’ve been thinking, drawing, and writing about Templar since I was a kid. I started the comic in summer of 2005. I’ll finish it before I die, but probably not soon. It’s pretty long. Templar, Arizona is a story about a town that doesn’t exist, and the people who live there. I alternately describe it as speculative fiction, an alternate timeline, and an alternate history. This isn’t the Arizona you’re probably thinking of. This is a different Arizona. This is a slightly irregular Arizona that fell off the back of a truck somewhere, and now all the power outlets are a weird shape and a couple of wars never happened. Templar’s populated with junkies, fuck-ups, pretty girls, millionaires, hockey teams, weird religions, dumb subcultures, and people in love. So it’s a lot like the cities you might already be familiar with, except the air there gives you Miner’s Lung and nobody has a cell phone." Yep. We are reading this now.

Girls With Slingshots -This comic is written and illustrated by Danielle Corsetto, and she says: "In October of 2004, [I] began Girls With Slingshots, and a couple of years later [I] was doing the strip full-time. It’s now updated 5 times a week at some god-awful hour. In addition to GWS, [I] wrote and drew The New Adventures of Bat Boy for the Weekly World News, taking the reins from Bat Boy’s kind & talented former creator Peter Bagge."

Eat That Toast! - Written and illustrated by Matt Czap. This webcomic has all kinds of great shit happening. I read one about weather and suicide, one about a beauty contest where a lumberjack wins, and one about a bird peeing into a cup for a drug test. Read it? Yes.

Moon Town - This one I accidentally stumbled across while reading "Eat That Toast!" It's written and illustrated by Steve Ogden. Here's his plot synopsis: "The year is 2087. Earth has been mined into a shell, so mankind is mining the moon. But when ore shipments begin vanishing amid rumors of pirates, a new sheriff comes to town in the form of rookie security guard Cassandra Quinn. Can she solve the mystery of the missing ore? Or will she find out too much? Some secrets can get you killed…

Curvy - With art that is somewhat reminiscent of Alex Robinson, "Curvy" is described as: "A sexy sci-fi adventure comic for adults. New pages every Saturday." I read a little of it and saw a girl with her head implanted on a guy's body.

A Softer World - The synopsis of this webcomic is as follows: "A Softer World is a comic that was created by Emily Horne and Joey Comeau so that people would recognize them as important artistic geniuses. Sometimes the "comic" is sad or harsh. It should be noted that this is in the tradition of George Simenon's 'romans durs' (or 'hard novels') and not in the lesser traditions of comics like Peanuts or anything else not French. Comeau is a French name. (Pronounced kuh-moe, by the way. Joey is very important, please say his name correctly. Emily is also very important but her name is easier to pronounce.)"

Sorry there aren't more in-depth reviews of these comics. Maybe it isn't such a bad thing that you'll be going into reading them with no one's opinion other than your own, though. If you check any of them out, let us know what you think. Thanks to Liz Suburbia for the list.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

#014 - Liz Suburbia Hangs Out With Us On the Phone


So what all gets mentioned on this episode? Prison, Harry Potter sex, body counts, more sex, lots of cussing, and a tiny little bit of serious discussion. You can discuss all of these things with us on Twitter (hideousenergy), Facebook, and hideousenergy@gmail.com. Go over to FanOff.com and hop onto our forum. We've already done a Top 5 based on a fan's suggestion, and it accidentally made us go nuts. Who knows, you could do that to us too! Download us on iTunes, too.


Episode 14:
• Intro: Fatboy Slim via Daft Punk; Kanye West; pregnant heads and other gross things; and drunk Tweets!
• Topic Thunder - Thor has a questionable accent, maybe; Jon Favreau has another job, don't worry; and the internet makes people say dumb shit. Obviously.
• Interview: Comic artist/writer Liz Suburbia. We talk to her about her webcomic "Sacred Heart," then all decorum and pretense that we're doing an interview falls away; we end up just hanging out with her over the phone. It was fun as shit.
• Outro: Nikola Tesla. That's how you know it's a normal show.


David Hopkins and Austin Wilson love comics. It's simple. Talking to Liz Suburbia was a ton of fun, and she is awesome all around. Go read "Sacred Heart," and swing by her LiveJournal. Thanks to Liz for her time and rockingness. This show runs 1:36:04, and is mostly dedicated to us just hanging with Liz Suburbia. Check out FanOff.com and our forums, and download us on iTunes. Thanks! NOTE: Art by Liz Suburbia, from her LiveJournal.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Art - The Word and the Concept



This is a - shit, the name for it hasn't really been determined yet. There are plenty of labels one could throw onto it, but the technology that allowed it to come into existence has temporarily stunned language into this still zone where the silence is really the buzz of everyone talking at once.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is an image created on an iPad. It's something that isn't obvious at first, but after you find out the information your brain lurches over into understanding. Upon looking at it closer you can see the wide swathes the digital brush tools left behind as artist Sean Phillips brought this image to life. Did he paint it? Did he draw it? What the hell did he do exactly to make this piece of art exist?

If the biggest problem is the inability to label something, then everything is okay, right? Also, trying to wring some sort of philosophical discussion out of this points toward the obvious answer when someone asks themselves about the future of the world (comic book or otherwise); Will we be okay? This image gives us the answer.

Yes. Yes we will. There are gorgeous iPad - shit, let's call it a painting - paintings that exist which prove everything will be fine. These paintings prove that there are artists working within the comic book industry who elevate the form to a level of majesty and beauty worthy of that one huge word, the one co-opted by anyone with an opinion or a feeling, that sometimes scary word; art.

Whether you embrace or reject technology, or the idea of comics as art, this is a joy to look at. Phillips even posted a time-lapse video of the painting coming into existence. I suggest you go watch it. If it made me react like this, who knows what it'll do to you.

-Austin

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

#013 - Top Fiiiiiiiiiiiives



UPDATE: iTunes is fixed! Go download the shows!

Every day cannot possibly be the same as the one that came before, and the one that has yet to happen, right? Well we are here to try and make sure that we don't get bored...with ourselves. I'd like to say that's the impetus behind why we did this episode, but really, it was basically a casual decision. What does all of this mean? Hoooo boy. Talk to us on Twitter, Facebook, and hideousenergy@gmail.com.


Episode 13:
• Intro: Lots of discussion about Deacon Frost, masochists, and Top 5 lists.

Top 5 - We bring you a show of nothing but Top 5 lists! What are you in store for? Here, look.
      
               1. Baby Names Influenced By Comics (Suggested by a fan!)
               2. Comics That Would Make Amazing Video Games
               3. Characters Who Should Join the UFC
               4. Awesome - But Probably Impossible - Comic Characters Making Cameos In Other Properties
               5. Worst Ways Villains Could Destroy the Planet


• Couch Change: We cut to the chase, directly. Whooooo holy shit this show is long.
• Outro: We'll see you again?


David Hopkins and Austin Wilson are both recovering, still, from recording this show. Caleb Green is too, he guest stars on the insanity here. A show that runs 1:43:06 could maybe kill you. Please visit FanOff.com and click on forums, and talk to us. There's a Top 5 on this show that was suggested by a fan! That could be you! Finally, please be patient with iTunes. We are trying. So hard.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

#012 - In and Out of Sanity


Like all really interesting insane people, you can't always tell if we're completely nuts, or maybe just having a bad day. Here on episode 12, we wander around in auditory format. Follow our digital wandering on Twitter, Facebook, and even hideousenergy@gmail.com.

Episode 12:
• Intro: Lil Wayne proves his love for us; nicknaming, and FanOff.com!
• Read 'Em and Weep: Detective Comics, Batwoman, and Locke and Key. This is mostly where some of the sanity shows up, barely.
• Couch Change: Here we tell you what to buy in order to keep your happiness
• Top 5 - Worst Case Scenarios For Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
• Outro: We never, ever leave without saying goodbye.

David Hopkins and Austin Wilson lose their minds every Tuesday, all for you. We even included a picture of what happens to David after the show ends. Episode 12 guest stars Emergy Peck, who normally comes along for the ride on insanity. There is 1:04:24 of your day to be spent here. And hey, go over to FanOff.com and click on forums. We have a forum there for us all to yell at each other about all kinds of things!




Thursday, November 25, 2010

#011 - More Lies (and arguments about eyebrows)




















There are times where our minds strike back against us, and force us to discuss things like record stores and DVD stores, rather than comics. Follow us on Twitter to get more of this, and be our fan on Facebook, and especially talk to us through hideousenergy@gmail.com. iTunes is now a proud sponsor of Hideous Energy, because they let anyone put a podcast up there!

Episode 11:
• Intro: Bilbo Baggins has a problem.
• Topic Thunder: Pretentious record store quotes; parenting mistakes; Spider-Man (insert groan noise) has a musical; J. Michael Straczynski walks back to his office to nap; Green Lantern? Oh no, Green Lantern; Darren Arranofsky and Wolverine. Holy shit.
• Read 'Em and Weep: Austin talks about army monkeys; David talks about a guy you've never heard of, and won't like!
• Top 5 - Other Dumb Things They Could Do With Superman.
• Outro: Eyebrows.

David Hopkins and Austin Wilson are now conducting polls regarding eyebrow hygiene. They know no shame. What better way to cap off a show of 1:11:02 running time than with a discussion about eyebrows? Please continue to love us. We really can't go on without you.

More Liz Suburbia and "Sacred Heart" - Party!

Recently we posted about a great webcomic called "Sacred Heart," and the writer/artist Liz Suburbia recently updated her blog with new pages. They aren't posted on the official "Sacred Heart" site yet, but you should go check them out on her blog.

The "Sacred Heart" kids are having a party, and so far Suburbia has perfectly captured the mad cacophony that a house party tends to bring into existence. There are odd rhythmic swells in sound, where conversations wax and wane, and this shapeless mass of people accidentally become synced up somehow, talking and moving and all looking for something similar if not exactly the same. She effects this feeling of being there, of having the party buzzing in your ear in such a believable way that you can't help but recall the last house party you survived.

Maybe the only downside to this is the pages fly by so quickly. The pace created by a party scene where a million people are doing a million things pushes your mind to take the information in faster and faster. Not that this is such a bad downside. I've re-read the pages a few times, and every time I end up smiling, remembering shouted conversations and all kinds of fun and boring and annoying and forgettable shit from house parties gone by.

Go read her webcomic.

-Austin

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Webcomics - Liz Suburbia


Webcomics are pretty freaking awesome. If you're not reading any, you should be. The Hideous Energy folk (Austin) read Sailor Twain, FreakAngels, and of course Penny Arcade, which is sort of the linchpin for any good nerd's Enjoying Webcomics portfolio. Since the internet is starting to creep into everything - Blu-Ray players now know where you are at all times - it's probably time for anyone who isn't reading comics on the internet (legally) to start doing so. You don't want to be behind the curve when your Ford Focus starts connecting to the internet and asking "Where do you want to go today?" You might be bored while it takes you to Target or Johnny Rockets. You don't have to be though. You do not have to be bored.

- • -

Liz Suburbia makes a great webcomic called "Sacred Heart." It is a kind of weird teen-drama where dead bodies show up and no one really freaks out too much. This doesn't mean the story is devoid of freak outs, or even appropriate (and definitely inappropriate) emotional reactions, because that stuff is in there too.

It reminds me somewhat of Ross Campbell's "Wet Moon" books, which are set in a small town as well, and contain a few or more "scene kids" just like "Sacred Heart" does. The art styles of both comics is somewhat similar, but only vaguely. Suburbia's lines are clean, and the art is partially cartoonish, without a great focus on photo-realism. A mood is set by the black and white art, especially with the blacks being so thick.

If you want to read about some kids acting like kids, maybe with a spot of adulthood blooming right in the middle of all the madness, then "Sacred Heart" is there for you. The main protagonist is a teenage girl named Bennie. She has a close relationship with her sister Empathy, and the chapters published so far look to be setting up something regarding their relationship, which is a great word to describe the theme or themes of this story. All of the characters within "Sacred Heart" have relationships with people, and Liz Suburbia shows us the gaps and connections that form and deteriorate. It's a pretty sweet deal for something free.

Along with telling an interesting story that could probably fall into the "slice-of-life" category, Liz Suburbia takes the craft and art form of comics and tells her story in an interesting way. There's an amazing sequence where one of the protagonists is getting ready for bed, and the story jumps from character to character, showing what each is doing at that exact moment. There are sad, funny, and uncomfortable moments shown, but Liz Suburbia manages to give a great representation of who these people are with nothing more than a panel.

Speaking of Liz Suburbia: she rocks. She works at a comic shop and produces this freaking good comic at the same time. She's legit. She posts art to her blog, and makes regular updates about being awesome and everything. Go check her stuff out.

* All art copyright Liz Suburbia, and appears here with her permission. (Note: The top image isn't from "Sacred Heart," but was posted on Liz's blog. I liked it too much to not include here.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

#010 - The Totally Creeped Out Fred Chao Episode



When Hideous Energy loves you they show that love by telling you over and over, until they eventually reach the level of creepiness seen only by overbearing movie boyfriends (see: Mark Wahlberg in "Fear"). Ask them to stop, or confuse them even more on Twitter, Facebook, or hideousenergy@gmail.com. Download the show on iTunes, and subscribe so you can get an episode delivered right to you. The guys promise they won't come in without knocking.

Episode 10:
• Intro: Singing and sweating! Yay!
• Topic Thunder: Ben Kingsley? (Jesus, what are we doing?); The Walking Dead's second episode hit TV, and we lose our minds (this means we talk about zombie physiology and gender issues, seriously); and we wax intellectual on Slice-of-Life tales. It is DEEP.
• Interview: Fred Chao! The creator of "Johnny Hiro" stops by and talks about everything, but mostly we make him talk about how much we love him.
• Top 5 - People Who Should Be Paranormal Detectives.
• Outro: We're talking to you, Geek Week.

David Hopkins and Austin Wilson walk the line. This sounds somewhat boring, but when you think about Johnny Cash doing it, that changes. Guest starring Caleb Schmreen! This show runs at a monstrous length of 1:56:12. Maybe go take a nap to conserve your energy for next week's show. It will be on iTunes. And in your head.

Joe Hill Tweets Some News - This Would've Meant Nothing Once


Twitter is a weird place. It is a confluence of opinions and odd notifications that could probably go unsaid for the most part. Its existence isn't pointless by any means, although it is an odd creation of a society that is increasingly relying on technology for absolutely anything it can supply.

We have a twitter account under the name of HideousEnergy, and it falls into the category of Things That Could Go Unsaid, or even Things Liz Lemon Said Once. At first both David and I didn't see too much of a use for Twitter, but as it has existed longer and longer it has forced itself into our minds, and a huge amount of others'.

News is now disseminated through Twitter, arriving in forms from unofficial to official, and the ever-present internet version of absolute bullshit. Twitter has become a huge part of the entertainment industry because celebrities adopted it as a way to have nearly constant contact with their fans. It helps the entertainers maintain a presence, and it helps fans be creepy and stalkery in a whole new setting.

Here recently there was some news revealed on Twitter by Joe Hill, author of two novels ("Heart-Shaped Box," and "Horns"), a book of short stories ("20th Century Ghosts,"), and comic book series ("Locke and Key").

"Just saw the finished proofs of Jason Ciaramella's adaptation of 'The Cape' for IDW. Pretty stunning," Hill said, referring to an upcoming adaptation of his short story "The Cape" from his collection of short stories, "20th Century Ghosts." Hill went on to say, "So stunning we're turning a 1-shot into a mini-series. Howard's art is so, so great & folks are gonna be wowed by Nelson Daniel's coloring."

Now, because of Twitter, we know that there are more awesome comics coming from Joe Hill, albeit through the circuitous route of adaptation. Jason Ciaramella has already co-written a one-shot with Hill, a book called "Kodiak."

If you're looking for a preview for what could possibly be in store for you when "The Cape" hits comic shelves, go read the original short story. Also, keep your eye on Twitter. You never know what you'll find.

- Austin

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

#009 - Normalcy Is a Debate About Cheese Being An Animal


The debate about what animals live where rages on within the confines of Hideous Energy. Drop us a line and let us know what animals you see wherever you live. Tell us about them on Twitter, Facebook, or hideousenergy@gmail.com. We finally defeated iTunes, and our show can now be subscribed to and downloaded through that glorious program. Now you can listen to us while you do things you'll never tell anyone about! Privacy is neat.

Episode 9:
• Intro: Animals, Ghostbuster references, and our friends Geek Week.
• Topic Thunder: Captain America pictures, including Chris Evans shirtless; the Walking Dead premieres as a TV show and even your grandma watched; and Marvel lied? Maybe.
• Gimme' the Goods: Austin talks about "100%" and David talks about "Spider-Man: Brand New Day."
• Normal Words: A brand new segment where we ask David's wife questions about this weird comic book world we live in.
• Couch Change: It is a huge week, with tons of stuff to buy. Please don't rob people in order to get them.
• Outro: We never leave without saying goodbye.

David Hopkins and Austin Wilson could potentially be under extraterrestrial mind-control. They say and do things and then later wonder why they acted that way. This show runs 1:04:24, and it is like a freight train in your brain. Come back next week! And go check us out on iTunes!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

#008 - The Dead Horse and Apple Episode


Welcome to Hideous Energy where we beat the holy living shit out of dead horses. Tell us what you want to hear us yell about by commenting on this blog, and then please do something with Twitter, Facebook, and even hideousenergy@gmail.com. Please be patient with our iTunes war, as it is currently ongoing. Click on the RSS feed link here on this blog to see the RSS feed of the blog, and subscribe through iTunes.

Episode 8:
• Intro: Shmebraska, Geek Week, and Apple.
• Topic Thunder: "Locke and Key" is Austin's master; all of us are still peeing because of "Paranormal Activity 2;" Image takes a gamble with re-releasing "Walking Dead;" and finally, are people still buying comics? Glycon knows we are!
 • Read 'Em and Weep: This week you get three graphic novel and/or collection reviews! Austin talks about "Shortcomings" by Adrian Tomine, David talks about "Swallow Me Whole" by Nate Powell, and Caleb talks about "Beasts of Burden" by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson.
• Couch Change: All three of us love comics. We want to buy them, and we want you to as well.
• Outro: This is obvious.


David Hopkins and Austin Wilson are two-year-olds who do stupid things, then do them forty million times again after you laugh once. This episode features guest star Caleb Green, who fits in perfectly. There is an hour and twenty-one minutes of moments for you to remember forever (1:20:41), maybe using those memories to create experimental art. If so, make sure you let us see your beautiful work.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Art Bomb!

Here's an explosion of art. This shrapnel is to be left in your brain, to infect your likes and dislikes.

"Jonah Hex" by Sean Phillips.
























"Surf" by Fred Chao.





"Deer Winter" by Jen Wang.




"Goblin Knoll" by Marian Churchland.

"Goblin Knoll 2" by Marian Churchland. 
Make sure you check out all of the artists' websites by clicking on the caption beneath the art. There's even more good stuff posted there.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Look At This! You Can't Not!

A little bit ago - maybe a month or so - I started thinking about the superhero books I read currently, and what they mean to me in relation to all the other content I pour into my brain. Even though my realization was slow, almost tentative - like I was somehow scared about its implications - it became clear that the only superhero book I read on a regular basis is "Invincible," by Robert Kirkman and Ryan Ottley.


This is a cover by Ryan Ottley, featuring the character Dinosaurus. It's a perfect demonstration of the book's goofy fun side, which is a large reason I keep coming back. Somehow Kirkman and Ottley are creating a book that works on two levels, though, because it isn't all over-the-top nuttiness. Alongside making me feel and think about superhero comics the way I did when I was younger, it also offers up content that I can relate to now.

Issue 75 is about to come out, and Ottley posts on his blog about how it took two months to draw because it is the length of two books. If you haven't read "Invincible" by now you should start. They have some very awesome over-sized hardcovers that are packed with extra content and awesome stories. Go find them.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

#007 - Suicide Gerbils and Dissected Stories




















Four separate psychics told you your life would change in a major way, and here you are. Use your freshly read palm to leave us comments on this, our seventh episode. Just click on "Comment" or whatever, and if that's too scary then skulk over to Twitter, Facebook, or your nearest email location to send us predictions at hideousenergy@gmail.com. Here's what your future will look like while it's becoming your past.

Episode 7:
• Intro: We babble and tell a weird story about Austin.
• Read 'Em and Weep: "Strange Tales Volume II: #1" and "Locke and Key: Keys To the Kingdom #2" get reviewed. We talk about them a lot.
 • Couch Change: You take our advice and spend your rent money on entertainment. At least you'll have something to read when you're alone forever!

David Hopkins and Austin Wilson transform into mythical creatures and don't even notice a difference in grooming habits. Running a solid 50:06, there is a large amount of talking and only a small amount of questionable feelings related. This world is all about communication.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Paying Too Much Attention: Panel Progression and Design

There are an innumerable amount of reasons that comics are awesome. Some of the reasons are slightly hard to articulate - the obsession with monkeys? - and it can be hard to explain exactly why they rock so thoroughly to someone who doesn't read them.

There's a rule I live by, or attempt to utilize from day to day, and it is this: when asked if I like something, and I in fact do, I will never give the reason as "It's good," or "It's awesome," or "I just do." Yeah, there are comics and movies and novels and music that I would love to sum up with, "It's just sooooo good man," and maybe even some of those works could be summed up that way. It seems lazy to me, though, because I really want to understand exactly why I like or love or loathe something.

So what about comics do I love? I'll tell you. Panel progression and inventive panel design. What's that mean? I'll show you!

- • -

Other than containing great stories that may or may not include monkeys or robots, comics are an art form, while at the same time being a craft. They tell me compelling tales, and they do so with panache, baby, they strut across that floor and make sure they're noticed.

It is entirely possible to write and illustrate a comic book that utilizes a standard and straightforward style, while still telling a both compelling and entertaining story. Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips produced two books - "Criminal" and "Incognito" - that employed straight ahead panel layouts, occasionally relying on a nine-panel grid, which some consider the simplest form of comics (whether they are using simple to mean "easily understood or done" or "of low or abnormally low intelligence" depends on the person, probably). Both of these books contain stories that are rich with character development, but also include plenty of "geeky" moments as well. They are great examples of how writers and artists can grab the reader's attention without getting too fancy. Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell do this in their book "From Hell," each panel either being a square or a rectangle. Another good example is the book "Fell," which is illustrated by Ben Templesmith - and written by Warren Ellis - using the nine-panel grid. All of these showcase how a straight ahead layout can still be used to tell interesting stories. That's what is so great about comics though: they can be anything the artists want them to be.

Someone out there might argue that comics are a genre, and not a medium. I've personally never heard anyone trying to make this argument, but I've read interviews and articles where it's been mentioned. There's no better proof that comics are in fact a medium than the demonstration that so many different techniques can be used to create them. Now, thanks to two amazing writer/artists, we're going to look at exactly how comics can step out into the broader field of creativity.

- • -

First up is artist and writer Alex Robinson, known for books such as "Box Office Poison," "Too Cool To Be Forgotten," and his latest, "A Kidnapped Santa Claus." Mr. Robinson was kind enough to supply Hideous Energy with two pages from his original graphic novel "Too Cool To Be Forgotten," which is the tale of a middle-aged man being put under hypnosis only to wake up back in high school.

This page is a perfect example of interesting panel progression, layout, and an expert use of perspective. All of these things offer comic book artists (and writers) ways to render their stories unique.

Here we see the main character, Andy Wicks, undergoing hypnosis in order to quit smoking. Along with panel progression/layout, another big aspect of comic book writing and art is the layout of dialogue bubbles. The reader's eye travels from right to left, and works its way down the page in this manner until the page is finished being read. That's not really too complex of an idea, and certainly isn't one most regular comic book readers are unfamiliar with. Looking at this page, however, there's another interesting observation to make, which is that Robinson's art was laid out in a way to help lead the reader's eye downward.

Another interesting technique Robinson uses here is evident with the two cutaway panels placed over the larger panel that serves somewhat as a background. They help the reader with a concept that can be notoriously hard to convey within the realm of static images: time. Showcasing time passing - or any form of motion - is somewhat difficult using nothing but still images. Robinson addresses the problem wonderfully though. The first panel shows the reader what Andy Wicks sees, a point of view (POV) shot, allowing their minds to switch perspectives long enough that a feeling of time passing occurs. The second panel, of the eyes narrowing and becoming heavy with sleep, is a great piece of storytelling in that it is there to be compared - whether consciously or subconsciously - with the version of Andy's eyes shown at the top of the page. The difference between them is obvious, and because of this the reader can tell he is becoming sleepy. Again, that's somewhat simple, but it is something that happens so subtly - sometimes - that a reader can be unaware they are even filling in these gaps. Robinson manages to show us Andy Wicks becoming hypnotized with nothing more than three panels and some dialogue.

The next page from "Too Cool To Be Forgotten" is somewhat more experimental than the first example, and is a great example of how comic writers and artists can do fantastic and experimental things.

There really isn't too much that has to be said about this page. Along with creating the art with only words, the story is furthered by the dialogue written. Both of these pages are examples of how page design can influence a story, and how the use of creative techniques offers endless roads for writers and artists to travel within comics.

This page is so wonderful because although there isn't a conventional illustration, there is still story taking place; Robinson has merely shifted the panel progression from the page to your imagination. It's pretty hard to read the words written and not picture anything. This is either a side-effect of reading a comic and the brain balancing between left/right brain function - which is some deep, psychology stuff - or because Alex Robinson is doing his job. Either way, you should do some studying to figure this out.

- • -

These next two pages were supplied by writer/artist Jeff Lemire, known for his books "Essex County," "The Nobody," and his current ongoing title for Vertigo, "Sweet Tooth." Both of the pages are taken from "Sweet Tooth," and showcase examples of how panel progression plays a huge, but subtle role in the creation of comic books.
The first page is taken from "Sweet Tooth" #4, and the second is taken from issue #14. The first observation that can be made is that the pages are very similar, showing the characters posed similarly. If anyone is reading "Sweet Tooth" this helps further an idea Mr. Lemire presented in issue #14, and one that has surely been hinted at leading up to the currently developing storyline.

Other than the story and character implications evident, another notable aspect of both pages is Lemire's use of panel progression. If counting the larger image as a panel, there are six panels total, all static images that perfectly allow the reader to see the characters in action, swinging their respective weapons.

More than any other tool in the artist's bag, panel progression is utilized to show motion. Here it is used in conjunction with sound effects to help the reader understand that each smaller panel represents a separate strike, showing that both characters are repeatedly bashing their enemy. Picture the page with only one sound effect, a single word punctuating the very last panel, and the story changes slightly from an ongoing struggle to a shorter altercation.

Without panel progression it would be difficult for our minds to see the passage of time within static images, and these two pages make sure that's understood.

- • -
All of these pages show what comics are capable of, but they are a small glimpse into the huge variety of examples out there. Check out all of Alex Robinson's books to see more, along with Jeff Lemire's as well.

And the next time someone tells you that comics aren't a medium - if that's ever happened - then point them in the right direction to see about changing their minds. It might not always work, but at least you'll be able to offer up some solid evidence.

Thanks again to Alex Robinson and Jeff Lemire for helping out with this article, and supplying their fantastic artwork.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Eyeballs - They're the E-Readers of the Face

Welcome to Eyeballs, a brand new series of articles on this here blog. Chances are good the next time you see an "Eyeballs" entry it'll be entitled something completely different. That's us though, we are lovably eccentric. On to the words!

- • -



To a certain extent, some books want you to judge them by their covers. There are blurbs, subtitles to main titles, and even sub-subtitles (for which there has to be a better term). Sure, way back when everyone spoke and wrote properly (read: any century before the 19th, mostly) the books couldn't be judged by their covers. They were, for the most part, plain. No blurbs, no elaborate illustrations or pretentious photographs (or even unpretentious photos), they were basically little surprises.

Now though? You can get a good idea what you're going into. A perfect example of this is the book I just started reading, "Alec" by Eddie Campbell. This book is actually a great example of this theory, because "Alec" isn't even the official title. It's technically called "Alec: 'The Years Have Pants' (A life-sized omnibus)." While the subtitle didn't offer me too much insight, the sub-subtitle did. It caught my attention, anyway, so I flipped the book over and read the back.

The synopsis reads as such: "Brilliantly observed and profoundly expressed, the Alec stories present a version of Campbell's own life, filtered through the alter ego of 'Alec MacGarry.' Over many years, we witness Alec's (and Eddie's) progression 'from beer to wine' - wild nights at the pub, existential despair, the hunt for love, the quest for art, becoming a responsible breadwinner, feeling lost at his own movie premiere, and much more! Eddie's outlandish fantasies and metafictional tricks convert life into art, while staying fully grounded in his own absurdity. At every point, the author's uncanny eye for irony and wry self-awareness make even the smallest occasion into an opportunity for wit and wisdom. Quite simply, ALEC is a masterpiece of visual autobiography."

By now any potential reader should have a good idea what they're getting into, but the covers of this big book aren't done yet (it's 640 pages!). There are blurbs from not only Alan Moore, but Neil Gaiman as well, and if the tweedy comic book royalty can't convince you this is something you should be reading, allow me to try.

Blog/podcast partner David read the synopsis and immediately latched onto the word "metafictional," and threw it at me. For some reason our friendship contains this odd mechanism that forces us to take pleasure from the others dislike and nerd-rage, so he was pretty excited to see how I'd react. I'm a staunch disbeliever in breaking the fourth wall, and hate when something gets "metaficitional." I'm beginning to think I have a varying definition of these two storytelling devices than some.

So far - and I'm not 100 pages in yet - "Alec" doesn't fall into the "metafictional" category for me. Eddie Campbell - the writer/artist of the tome, and artist for Alan Moore's "From Hell" graphic novel - wrote and drew autobiographical comics, but changed his name to Alec MacGarry. Although the term "metafictional" does tend to refer to self-referential stories, I'm not sure if that counts when a work is autobiographical. The author is writing about himself, yes, but "metafictional" has a word in there that makes this a round-peg-square-hold kind of deal: "fictional."

While I'm sure there are portions and aspects of the stories Campbell presents that are fictionalized - seriously, who remembers every single world spoken in a conversation? - this is a book about Campbell's life told through the life of another, albeit fictional, person.

Actually, it might be kind of hard to define what exactly "Alec" is, other than good. It delivers on it's promise of brilliant observations. The stories are funny, poignant, and some very sad. So far I've only read one that left me somewhat disappointed - and confused; there were too many character names for my lizard brain to follow - but I have a feeling that will be the rarity here.

If you like interesting stories about how weird and normal we all are, definitely read "Alec."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

#006 - Horrendous Eddie!

 Now the oceans become still, and the air is ignited with the heat from Hideous Energy episode 6. We can only beg you so long to talk to us through our blog (the one you're on right now, so it's easy), on Twitter, Facebook, or within the email world at hideousenergy@gmail.com. What's coming at you? I'm glad you asked.

Episode 6:
• Topic Thunder: New York Comic Con happened, and we talk about it! Then about movies that are based on comics - like always!
 • Interview! Yep, this is the episode featuring our first Hideous Energy interview. Comic book writer/artist Alex Robinson ("Box Office Poison," "Too Cool To Be Forgotten," "Tricked," "A Kidnapped Santa Claus,") allows us to talk with him about all kinds of goofy (and serious) things. He's an angel and we're all in love with him. Buy his things, and support his awesomeness.

David Hopkins and Austin Wilson are so happy to be stuck with you. Guest starring Emery Peck - Huey Lewis impersonator and one-man News cover band. This is an episode for the ages because we bring someone from the outside world into our insane fantasy land. You have an hour and twenty-three minutes of this show to enjoy this week.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

#005 - The Quest for Hall and Oates

Nuclear Man


Episode five is here for you. Maybe you're sick, and need comforting. Allow us to do so. To thank us for this - or to tell us why we're inadequate - come right here, to this blog, or maybe over on Twitter, Facebook, or even send us an email to hideousenergy@gmail.com. Keep reading to find out what you'll be discussing with your therapist.


Episode 5:
• Topic Thunder: Zack Snyder is set to direct the new Superman movie! There's maybe possibly a new Wonder Woman TV show? And Emma Stone is cast in the new Spider-Man movie.
• Couch Change: Hooker coins. Listen for more information on this.
• Gimme the Goods: A new segment where we talk about what we haven't read yet, but really freaking want to. Feel free to tell us the goods you're after.

David Hopkins and Austin Wilson are sophisticated talking robots, only in that they run on Powerade and Taco Bell. Joined by special guest star Emery Peck, this show will probably creep you out, and maybe make you think. This one runs for 49 minutes and 22 seconds. And is of Spanish and German descent.

Monday, October 4, 2010

We Are All Beautiful, Complex Snowflakes

There are probably thousands upon thousands of comics that are out there right now, and I'll probably only get to read maybe less than a quarter of them. Way more than that in my entire lifetime. Who knows, really? Statistics are hard because they are rooted in math, and I know my limitations.

The internet makes it easier to find out about some of these phantoms though, and we all have greater access to underground/indie books that would have went unseen or ran silent through the background previously. Thanks to this whole digital world that runs through our lives, I stumbled across a comic I would NEVER have seen otherwise. It's a story called "Cockbone," which isn't what disqualifies it from appearing on my radar. Where it is published originally does, however; within a publication called "Sleazy Slice," particularly the third issue, which is on sale now.

Written and illustrated by artist Joshua Simmons, "Cockbone" is without a doubt Not Safe For Work (NSFW), and the only reason I mention it is because he has officially posted the entire comic on his website, and that is where this link right here will take you.

My comic reading habits and interests are by no means prudish or close-minded. I don't generally gravitate toward extremely independent books - and yes I will explain what that means - but I'll read something if it seems interesting to me. There isn't any independent book I read on a regular basis, if for no other reason than the area I call home isn't the best place to find indy books. Other than the internet, obviously, I simply don't have a way to get my hands on books that aren't at least published by a mid-level (although still considered indy by some) publisher.

I remember really wanting to read "Let's Go To Utah," by Dave Chisholm, but never getting around to ordering it online. Maybe that's the problem, maybe I'm a passive comic buyer when it comes to the internet, and since extremely indy books - I promise a definition is coming - are generally only available to me through the internet, my situation persists.

There is probably a much more detailed review of "Cockbone" resting in my brain somewhere, but wrenching it out might be impossible. I can easily edit it all down to "disturbing, over the top, shock for shock sake," and that isn't really an interesting review to read. I'm much more interested in the idea of independent books that are capable of printing ANYTHING, and the idea that these books are out there hiding, in a way, from some readers. I say they're hiding because they are, with only a little generalization, books that have to be sought out. Even if you hear of an indy book, finding it might be hard, or more steps than a reader is willing to take, and that could kill the whole process of reading the thing.

Extremely independent books - to me, at least - are publications that don't have the help of a distributor, or publication house which can utilize advertising in even small ways. Maybe this book "Sleazy Slice" utilizes advertising, but from looking at the purchase page, I sincerely doubt it. Part of me wants to classify extremely independent books as those that aren't held to any standards regarding content - either pertaining to quality or decency - but there are plenty of other publications which would render this point both incorrect and asinine, so I'll skip that. Maybe my mind goes there even briefly because books like "Sleazy Slice" exist in the first place. Not that I'm begrudging the publication's existence, or saying any of the readers shouldn't be allowed to read what they want, because I am absolutely against censorship.

The amount of adult content available within comic book form would probably astonish me. Like I said earlier, I'm not a prude or easily offended, but something about seeing a comic written and drawn for no other reason than sexual desires to be sated seems somehow odd to me. There being so much pornography within the world containing living, breathing humans - or whatever - would seem to render the creation of such comics moot, but that is most definitely not the case.

Again, I am absolutely not saying these comics shouldn't exist, or are wrong for being here, I just cannot wrap my head around there being a reason for them. Sure, this could lead to a huge debate about sexual desire, and differing personalities and so on, but that's not what I want. I know why porn exists - it's not that difficult to figure out - so the existence of porn comics isn't a mind-blowing enigma.

"Cockbone" made all of this happen in my head. It's story is almost, but not quite non-existent. I do think great stories can be told which contain mature themes, but the artist has to know the limitations of this, know that like any other story the mechanism of the tale could come crashing down if one part isn't in the right place. "Cockbone" does come crashing down, and exists as a bizarre mini-comic porn. I'm not saying that makes it wrong, or bad, but I am saying it isn't anything more. Not that it is attempting to be anything else. After all, it was originally printed in a book called "Sleazy Slice," with the blurb "The annual comix anthology devoted to debauchery" right there on the cover.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

#004 - The Pirate Journals!


Pirate Journal

There is absolutely no reason for you not to listen to this show. We talk a lot, some of it pretty deep and interesting, some of it, yeah, related to pirate journals. We are freaking begging you to give us comments right here, on this bliggity-blog, or how about on Twitter, Facebook, or even over at our totally professional hideousenergy@gmail.com email address? Let's take a look at the insanity/intrigue you're in store for.


Episode 4:
• Topic Thunder: Oh boy, there's a lot this time around. Here are some brief rundowns - Bob Harras, new E.I.C. of DC, leave the "Harras-ment" jokes at the door; Marvel E.I.C. Joe Quesada ?likes? writing comics?; Bendis wants more journalism, of the investigative and non-pseudo-hip variety; and Skottie Young talks about comics!
• Couch Change: If you can't find any loose change in your couch, just sell the damn couch and buy some comics with it.
• Top 5: Villains Who Probably Just Need a Hug. We really thought about this one deeply. Psychology comes into play. Yes. Yes it does.

David Hopkins and Austin Wilson yakkity-yak at you. Running time is one hour and eleven minutes. That's the length of one'a them flicker shows!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

#003 - David & Austin Vs. The Animals


 We love you so much that we won't stop. Here is Hideous Energy: Episode 3, and it is wildly all over the place, and much shorter than episode 2. Please leave us comments right here, on this shiny freaking blog, or on Twitter, Facebook, or at hideousenergy@gmail.com. What are you going to listen to this time? Here it is!


Episode 3:
• Read 'Em and Weep: We review two books this time around that aren't easily reviewed, but we manage to still get some talking done.
• Couch Change: Save some money, sure, but don't save all of it. Spend some too. You're welcome.
• Top 5: Animals We Would Love To Fight. (There is plenty to apologize for in this segment. We are unsure of all the problems we have. We know some of them, yes, but mostly we're surprised we say things like we do occasionally. And we're sorry.)

Utilizing the voices and talent (?) of David Hopkins and Austin Wilson. Running time is 44 minutes and 33 seconds. You can listen to this while you eat dinner.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

#002 - The Time of Your Life ("It's clever, and ironic.")


Back again for another week of discussion and distracted rambling, Hideous Energy: Episode 2 delivers on its promise of giving you a unique take into news that has been reported elsewhere. This week's episode features special guest Emery Peck. He's only our friend so we can make fun of him! Woo-hoo! If you have anything to say about any of this we can be yelled at here, through the comments, or on Twitter, Facebook, or at hideousenergy@gmail.com. Thanks for listening.

Episode 2:
• Topic Thunder: We discuss a Cincinnati retailer who loves to talk with his head in his ass, and the Spider-Man musical! A thin theme barely ties these together, but maybe we don't even discuss that.
• Read 'Em and Weep: Three books. We talk about what - if any - emotional reaction we had to these. There are tears and cackling and repressed emotions for everyone!
• Couch Change: You should go spend money on comics. Or whatever else we tell you to buy.
• Top 5: Alternate Spider-Man musical titles.

Featuring David Hopkins, Austin Wilson, and special guest star Emergy "Emerald" Peck. Running time is pretty much 1 hour and 23 minutes. You must really love us.

P.S. We are desperately working to get the shows uploaded to iTunes, but it is hard. We promise they will be available for download eventually, so you don't have to chain yourself to your computer in order to listen. Seriously, whoever you are, thank you for caring that we do this.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hideous Energy - Alan Moore

In case you aren't familiar with the reasoning behind "Hideous Energy" and its existence, go check out the first posting. Now that you've read that you can transition nicely into the first ever of "Hideous Energy's Biographical Musings," which is a title that will surely change every single time we do one.

Who could be driven, focused, and downright shit-turds nuts enough to be featured as the very first subject in this featured article? You guessed it. Uncle Beard himself, Alan Moore.

Alan Moore


Western philosophy and existential theory suggests that everyone knows Alan Moore is crazy. This may or may not have to do with the collective unconscious and Carl Jung, or the Roman snake god Glycon.

Moore has been outcrazying the crazy for a while now, but he's done a couple of things lately that I think will land securely on the top of his "Best Of" list, one because it's genuinely crazy, and the other because it's sort of just ironic and quietly laughable.

First, the subtler of the two. Here is what Alan Moore said in an interview with Bleeding Cool, and was later quoted on every site ever: 

"At the end of the day, if they haven’t got any properties that are valuable enough, but they have got these ‘top-flight industry creators’ that are ready to produce these prequels and sequels to WATCHMEN, well this is probably a radical idea, but could they not get one of the ‘top-flight industry creators’ to come up with an idea of their own? Why are DC Comics trying to exploit a comic book that I wrote 25 years ago if they have got anything? Sure they ought to have had an equivalent idea since? I could ask about why Marvel Comics are churning out or planning to bring out my ancient MARVELMAN stories, which are even older, if they had a viable idea of their own in the quarter-century since I wrote those works. I mean, surely that would be a much easier solution than all of this clandestine stuff? Just simply get some of your top-flight talent to put out a book that the wider public outside of the comics field find as interesting or as appealing as the stuff that I wrote 25 years ago. It shouldn’t be too big an ask, should it? I wouldn’t have thought so. And it would solve an awful lot of problems. They must have one creator, surely, in the entire American industry that could do equivalent work to something I did 25 years ago. It would be insulting to think that there weren’t.”

Yep, DC has treated Moore poorly in the past, and Marvel definitely has too. Most recently DC has flirted with the idea of doing sequels/prequels to "Watchmen," which Glycon himself (herself?) handed down to Moore, possibly through earth-bound minion Thulsa Doom. Somehow DC has managed to ratchet up their own level of crazy to rival Moore's, at least in this situation.

Doing anything with "Watchmen" that isn't spilling out of Moore's completely fictional Trepanation hole would be one of, if not THE worst thing they could do. Surely it would make a little money, but it would hurt them more by how many pissed off readers were birthed when they felt wronged by a company they willingly give money to all the time.

Moore's interview managed to rile everyone up, even though the dude has been saying crazy shit forever. The comic creators on Twitter have been particularly vocal about it (Busiek, Diggle, Lapham).

Moore has his defenders and his detractors, but shit, doesn't everyone? The guy has written plenty of classics, some forgettable stuff, and some stuff that is downright unreadable. He isn't afraid of his own opinions though, and in reality, what else should the readers of the world want from those delivering their sought after drug?

What struck me about this whole little verbal pushing match was another quote I read from Moore, taken from an interview/conversation he held with indie comics' Dave Sim. The quote: "...opinion is surely a devalued currency at this juncture of the twentieth century, simply by virtue of the vast amount of it there is flooding the market." Sure, he said it in the '80s, so maybe his opinion of opinion has changed. I doubt it though.

Now, what about that other crazy shit he did? Okay, to be fair it was in 2006, but I think it was crazy enough to last all four years between then and now.

He wrote a pornographic (a word Moore used himself in describing the book) original graphic novel about Alice from "Alice In Wonderland," Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz," and Wendy from "Peter Pan." I haven't read it, and there is a possibility that it's beautiful and a work of art. Imagine hearing that pitch though, even if - maybe especially - it was coming from Alan Moore. Hooo-boy.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

#001 - Numero Uno!

Scarlet2wolverine


So here it is, the very first episode of the Hideous Energy podcast. If there's any feedback we can be reached here, through the comments, Twitter, Facebook, or at hideousenergy@gmail.com. Thanks for listening.

Episode 1:
• Topic Thunder: Discussion about lateness in comics and the effect it has on readership.
• Read 'Em and Weep: book reviews. Actual book reviews. Of those two books right up there!
• Couch Change: We tell you what to buy, even if you have to use spare change from your nasty couch.

Featuring David Hopkins and Austin Wilson. Running time is unknown. You could be here forever.



Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pulp Fiction

Incognito 2 - Variant

Artist Sean Phillips did this variant cover for the first issue of the second volume of he and Ed Brubaker's amazing series "Incognito." I will definitely bay 350 cents to read it.

Dinosaurs and President Lincoln - Evan "Doc" Shaner

NickFury, by Doc Shaner

Waaaay back when, I'm going to say in April, I conducted an interview with the artist Evan "Doc" Shaner. He's completely freaking awesome in every way, a'la Mary Poppins, and you can find his art on his blog, Comic Twart, and his DeviantArt page, and I give you my word that it is all fantastic.


Various things happened between then and now that rendered me mentally incapable of posting this interview, but rather than giving excuses I will just shoulder the blame completely. It's my fault, and Mr. Shaner has been completely understanding and awesome - again - about the whole thing. So here, finally, is his interview, with some brief words from me beforehand.


- • -


Fact: Evan "Doc" Shaner is a good artist. His style exists somewhere along the lines of "cartooning," but putting a label on it detracts from the sheer fun each image evokes. This guy is absolutely someone to watch, and I am confident sooner or later his name will be one of those household varieties. Currently he has it listed on his blog that commissions for September are open, but there's only one spot, so maybe read this interview after you go sign up for a commission. The art featured here was either posted on Comic Twart ("Sandmen") or his blog (everything but the "1990 Gettysburg" banner, which can be found here).Thanks again to Evan.


- • -


Hideous Energy: First up, where'd you get the nickname "Doc?"


Evan Shaner: "Understandably, most folks think it's because of Doc Savage. While I like the character, I didn't even know anything about him until about a year or two ago. My father's a music teacher in the school district I grew up in, and my middle school band director called him "Doctor Shaner" for no real reason. Somewhere along the way he started calling me Doc and it stuck with the other kids."


HE: How long have you been drawing?


ES: "I've been drawing for as long as I can remember. As a kid all I ever wanted to be was a newspaper cartoonist, but when I started getting into music in high school I just stopped drawing as often. Somewhere in college I got the bug again and started thinking about it seriously as a career. I took a couple art classes and lucked into the staff cartoonist job at the university's newspaper and I've been drawing since."


Walking Dead by Shaner

HE: What instrument did you play in high school?


ES: "I played trumpet and piano. I went to college as a music major for the first two years. After two years of it it dawned on me that they didn't have the kind of degree I was looking for and at the same time I was more into cartooning. I still play regularly but I certainly enjoy it a little more now that I don't view it as a job."


HE: What's a normal day like for you?


ES: "I usually get up around 9AM and go to bed somewhere between 12AM and 2. The better part of the morning is spent answering whatever e-mails need immediate attention and then walking our dog. I'll work the rest of the afternoon until my wife gets home around 5, have dinner and hang out a little, and then go back to work. Right now I'm splitting time between commissions and pages."


HE: On your blog you list yourself as a "dinosaur enthusiast." So what's your favorite dinosaur?


ES: "Probably somewhere between the Triceratops and the Stegosaurus. I can't pick just one, they're all interesting. My brother and I had every dinosaur toy we could get our hands on as kids, because seeing that kind of stuff and being told it actually existed is mind blowing to a kid. T-Rex, Brontosaurus (or Apatosaurus, whatever they're supposed to be called), Pterodactyl; those are all cool but I remember seeing pictures of Triceratops and just thinking that was wild because it didn't look like anything else to me."


HE: I remember finding out about dinosaurs, and seeing pictures, and not knowing what to think. At some point I wondered how the artists knew what color the dinosaurs were. What if the T-Rex was actually neon-pink? Stuff like that.

ES: "I used to think about that stuff all the time. For all we know they were all covered in feathers and heads in the middle of their chests."


HE: Your blog has some art from a project called "1990 Gettysburg." What is that exactly?



1990 Gettysburg

ES: "1990 Gettysburg is kind of a joke journal about myself when I was 5 and my imaginary friend Abe Lincoln. When I was a kid everybody had their imaginary friends, and not wanting to be left out I said that mine was Lincoln because I couldn't come up with anything original. I mentioned this one year when I participated in Hourly Comic Day, and liked it so much I kind of put it to the side as something I wanted to revisit later. After getting out of college I stopped doing humor comics for a while and after a year or two of it I was really itching to write some humor stuff. I decided to dig up that concept and called it 1990 Gettysburg because I was 5 years old in 1990 and as a kid I thought the Gettysburg address was where Abe Lincoln lived. So technically "1990 Gettysburg" is a street address. I haven't been able to work on it recently, but I'm dying to do some more when I get the chance."


HE: Okay, I'm going to urge you to immediately begin work on a "1990 Gettysburg" book.


ES: "It's something I really want to get to at some point, no matter what the format. I love doing the comic book stuff, but my heart will always be in newspaper strips. That medium took up a great deal of my childhood and is a large part of the reason I'm doing any of this."


HE: You contribute to a blog called "Comic Twart." What exactly is a "comic twart," and how did you become involved with them?


ES: "The Comic Twart started on Twitter (Twitter + Art = Twart). Declan Shalvey, Mitch Gerads, Chris Samnee, Tom Fowler, Mitch Breitweiser, and myself started using the same themes for daily sketches to the point where we were writing each other on Twitter and deciding the next day's theme. Within a day or two, someone suggested putting a blog together to post everything on the same page, and Chris and his wife Laura were nice enough to set up the whole thing. Then very shortly the group ballooned to 16 guys, all of which are extremely talented artists that I'm very proud to be associated with."



"Sandmen" by Doc Shaner.


HE: That sounds like a great creative exercise. Have you ever used the site to help you get past a creative roadblock?


ES: "It is a great exercise. I'm not sure that I've used it to break mental blocks, but it's definitely helped me stretch creatively. Plus, the best thing about the way we've done it so far is it really pushes all of us to do something new. Francesco's usually the first one out of the gate on any given week, and from there we're all trying to top him and each other."


HE: Aside from your personal blog, Deviant Art page, and the Comic Twart blog, where can someone who likes your art find more?


ES: "As of right now the three you mentioned is about it. I'll occasionally post thumbnails and roughs through Twitter but for the most part there isn't usually a whole lot of finished stuff."


HE: Would you say the internet is a valuable resource for an illustrator now? I saw on your Deviant Art page you had some problems with idiots using your art without your permission; do things like that ever make you want to pull back? Abandon the blog and lessen the online presence?

ES: "The internet is absolutely a valuable resource for an illustrator, but like everything it has its ups and downs. I've made connections in the last two years that would have been impossible without the internet, connections that have allowed me to keep doing this and grow as a professional. The downside is occasionally your work will be taken and used for t-shirts or what have you, and unfortunately that's a risk you take when you post art on the internet. I've only had it happen to me twice now (that I know of) and both times it's been resolved amicably, but I know that it's not always that easy. The best you can do is try and keep on top of those kind of things, as long as it doesn't take up too much time. The problem is obviously I don't own most of these characters so it's tough to come at it from a legal standpoint, but most of the time these guys are ripping off the folks who own the characters too. I'm definitely more careful now about which work I post and how I go about it. It can be a mixed blessing and one of those issues that's still kind of problematic concerning how things are distributed online."


HE: "What's the illustration process like for you? Do you use a lot of digital tools, or are you more old school?

ES: "I try to spend as little time on the computer as possible. It's nothing against technology, my eyes just tend to hurt after staring at a computer screen for too long, so I try to do as much without the computer as possible. It all depends on what's right for the piece in question. Nearly everything is penciled and inked traditionally, then scanned and colored in photoshop. I work in ink wash and watercolor as well, but like I said it depends on what I'm working on at the moment."


HE: Do you have anything in the works that readers can expect on comic shop shelves?


ES: "I'm working on a couple things right now, one of which I'm not sure how much I can talk about. I've also been working on something with the guys at Mysterious Adventure Magazine, who have been very patient with me and my schedule. Things are just starting to ramp up right now so at the moment I'm in the process of figuring what I can get done in the coming months."


HE: Are the pages you're working on Top Secret Stuff?


ES: "The pages I'm working on currently are for a short story in JAM! Tales from the World of Roller Derby. It's not that it's a big deal secret, I'm just not sure how much I'm supposed to be saying about my involvement in it."


HE: Would you say you've already "broken in" to the industry?

ES: "That's a tough thing to quantify. I'm getting work at a couple well-known publishers, but that doesn't necessarily mean I've "broken in". Certainly compared to a couple years ago, or even one year, I feel a lot more rooted in this community. I've met and talked with a lot more folks in the industry, all of which have helped me further my career. So I guess that's my long winded way of saying I'm not sure. It may be a while before I could even begin to know."


HE: Conversely, do you view yourself as an "up-and-comer?


ES: "Again, I'm not sure. That's up to other people. In that I haven't been doing this long I suppose I could be labeled as such, but it's really not up to me. That's for publishers and readers to decide."


HE: What's the most difficult aspect of illustration for you?


ES: "The concept stage. Part of the luxury of getting to draw all day without having a specific gig all the time is I've got the time to work out technical problems. So now it's mostly the design aspect of whatever I'm working on. Not that I've got the technical part down 100%, but I definitely spend more time on the concept."