Creator-Owned Spotlight: No Wonder [EXCLUSIVE] with Jeremy Hauck

Are we too plugged in? People are almost always staring at a screen of some kind, whether it be a phone, a tablet, or even an old fashioned laptop, believe it or not people still use them. Even in this wonderful world of comics, things are trending to the digital age. You can get any book you want and read it on any of your numerous electronic devices. A new creator owned comic, No Wonder, takes us to a world where we are jacked-in 24/7. I recently had the pleasure of asking No Wonder’s creator, Jeremy Hauck, some questions about his new project.

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Hush Comics: When did you start the project? What was the most difficult process you found?

Jeremy Hauck: No Wonder actually started out as a TV script I wrote almost two years ago. The concept has drastically changed since then, but the message has remained the same.

As for the most difficult process, I’d say it was definitely building our world at an early stage. When most of our world’s population essentially knows “everything,” as a writer, you need to consider the repercussions that might have on a working society. There wouldn’t be any school, right? When there is nothing to teach, why would there be? What about the economy? How do you tackle internal conflict? These were difficult questions to answer, but they needed to be addressed if our audience was going to buy the concept.

HC: You have a full team for No Wonder. This isn’t so regular with small creator owned projects, especially picking up an editor and a web designer. What made you want to go all out with this? Was it hard assembling the right team?

JH: I knew that if I was actually going to attempt this and create my first comic book, I wasn’t going to half-ass it at any stage. Sure, the budget increases when more players join the collaboration, but that’s the sacrifice you make if you want to have a professional-looking, polished product. Luckily, I have an amazing team of polishers.

Finding a web designer was easy; he’s my best friend that happens to work in that field and has done an incredible job with our site so far. Finding our editor was easier since, well, she’s also my girlfriend. She has supported me since day one and I couldn’t have done this without her.

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It took a few months to find our tremendously talented illustrator, Ellis Ray III, but he was well worth the wait. I brought Sean Callahan (our colorist) and Jamie Me (our letterer) into the fold after reviewing their extremely professional portfolios and, before I knew it, we had an actual team working on this project.

HC: In No Wonder, humanity is essentially wired together in a collective mind of sorts. Is this a virtual reality they all exist in?

JH: That was actually an idea I tossed around in No Wonder’s infancy, but when it started to feel too much like The Matrix, I decided against it. A.T.O.M isn’t virtual reality nor augmented. Think of it like this: before the user can even question about the dimensions of a table or ask how far Jupiter is from Earth, the answer is just…there; leapfrogging the learning process entirely.

I’ve done some research with how the mind works, and you’ll see that in later issues, but hopefully that answers your question because if I say anymore, we’ll be in Spoilertown.

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HC: In the pages you’ve released we see the city streets being used as farmland. Obviously mankind still has to eat even if it’s plugged in 24/7. Who is planting, managing, and gathering the resources? How are they dispersed and administered to the populous?

JC: *Choo-choo* Next stop, Spoilertown.

I’d love to answer this because it’s such a good question, but I’m going to leave that one alone so the mystery remains. Besides, that’s what this comic is all about, right? Leaving you the opportunity to wonder instead of just giving you the answer?

HC: No Wonder stars Turner Lane, a teenager. What made you decide to have a younger protagonist? As a teenager, how naturally curious were you?

JH: Personally, I was pretty curious and skeptical as a teenager – questioning religion, fate, and what made the world tick on a day-to-day basis – but I don’t think that was unique to just me. Our teen years have always been depicted as the “developing age” of our lives. It’s a terrifying but exciting time for us because, although we’re developing, we don’t exactly know what we’re developing into. Turner’s age just felt like it should be right in the middle of that, especially since he’s being pulled away from a device that essentially fostered him through life.

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There is also so much to wonder about when we were younger, so writing our protagonist as one of the youngest characters in our cast just made sense to me.

HC: Also something not often seen in comics is a Canadian setting. Why Vancouver?

JH: When I first looked into the process of creating a comic book, I was told early on that you should always “write what you know.” Growing up in Seattle, WA, Vancouver always felt like a Canadian cousin, geographically. You have a city near the water, surrounded by evergreen and mountains filling the background.

I also just really dug that town and the people I met when visiting. Vancouver deserves to be put in the spotlight, so I went with it.

HC: Webb looks like he’s been living off the grid for a while now. Has he ever been hooked up to A.T.O.M.?

JH: I love this question as well, but unfortunately, I can’t answer this one either, my friend.

What I can say is that Webb shows signs of being a Luddite in sequential issues.

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HC: The custodians seem like a rather creepy group of people. Are they there to keep everyone in line? They seem like a Warriors-esque gang at first sight.

JH: Okay, I guess I can’t be “too” tight-lipped about everybody in our story, but I just don’t want to give too much away! It ruins the magic of our story as well as the message behind it.

I’ll tell you this about the Custodians: They are a religious group that established themselves in the wake of A.T.O.M going online.

That, and their design originally had no smiles. Ellis threw them in when we were working through our concept art when we first were getting started. When I say it, it just so creepy that I had to write in a reason as to why they have them in our world. Fortunately, I found an awesome one that just made sense to those characters.

HC: What’s your ultimate goal with No Wonder? Are you looking at publishers or just taking the reins on this project yourself?

JH: Right now, my focus is on our Kickstarter and actually funding the book. I’ve worked so hard to make this thing happen and it pretty much all comes down to the Kickstarter.

If our book is funded and we garner a bit of a following, I’ll definitely look into other publishers to help print/distribute more issues. It also helps, in my opinion, to have a finished product in your hand when introducing yourself to publishers. Hopefully Kickstarter will help make that a reality.

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HC: Do you think as a society we’re too plugged in? No Wonder looks like it’s going to be a strong commentary on our digital existence.

JH: Absolutely; we have such a bizarre relationship to our electronic devices and the information consumed from them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a guy who loves technology, its growth, and the gadgets that derive from it. But when those gadgets stifle healthy social behavior, or distract you from an intimate moment you can only have outside of the screens we carry around, it’s definitely a bad habit most people need to kick. No Wonder will amplify that obsession we have with staying-up-to-date, and hopefully tell an entertaining story that people can relate to by doing so.

HC: Your Kickstarter starts November 5th. What are your plans if it’s not successful the first time around?

JH: I’m not sure what will happen with No Wonder if we don’t meet our goal – I just don’t have that mentality right now. I’m probably blinded by the unbelievable support my family and friends have given me through this experience, but I think an optimistic outlook, blinded or not, is the best thing to have when taking on something like this. So for now, let’s just see what happens and hope for the best!

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Exclusive! Here is a preview of some of the goodies you can get your hands on for pledging to the Kickstarter:


No Wonder is sure to make us turn a mirror to ourselves when it comes to our attachment to the digital age. With a younger protagonist I personally think this would be a great new book for a younger crowd, hopefully to inspire some to put down the phone and look at the world around them. No Wonder hits Kickstarter on November 5th. It only makes sense to get this one in paper form. You can check out their website, nowondercomic.com, or their Twitter page for all new updates. Check back for a link to their Kickstarter page once it goes live!

Gaming Unplugged: Gloom

 

Gloom Logo Sketch

Have you ever wanted to kill your family? Well now you can take out the pent up rage out on sad little people on see-through cards. Gloom is a wonderfully sadistic game where the winner has a team full of losers. In Gloom, each player controls the fate of one family of five lovable losers. There are only four families so the game is designed for four players, but it can be played with five by each player giving up one family member to the fifth player.

The game play is really simple. Each player has one family they are trying to cause misery too while making their opponent’s family members happy. Once you have your family members depressed enough to your liking, you want to try to kill them off one by one. Players can also play actions to make things harder or easier. The first player to kill off all of their family members ends the game and then the sadness (points) are tallied up. Then a winner is declared.

 

The families are already very gloomy to start things out. The little gothic portraits are fantastic and fit the theme of the game perfectly. The families are comprised of delightful characters; the circus family has a creepy clown that’s wonderful. There’s a brain in a box and a Frankenstein teddy bear, weird twins, and what is surely an evil butler, the family dog and the red-headed stepchild. There’s a family to murder for everyone.

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Game play is simple enough. Essentially, each player takes turns inflicting unpleasantness to the individuals of their own respective families. These misfortunes give each family member a negative number that represents their mood. For example Grogar, the Frankenstein teddy bear, may have “contracted consumption” giving him a mood of -30. Once your family member has enough gloom to your liking, you can happily kill them. No reason a very sad Grogar can’t be “burnt by a mob”, as the card says, “Fifty people with torches and pitchforks can’t be wrong.” Players also can have good things happen to their opponent’s families. Poor old Balthazar, the unfaithful hound has had a rough life so maybe he deserves to be “the toast of the town”, giving him a +15 to his mood. As you’ve probably picked up by now, you want negative numbers on your family; the worse off they are, the better!

When playing the mood altering cards, modifiers, you do have to pay attention to the actions that come along with them. Cards have effects that can be quick and painless or be continuous. You may have to pass along cards to other players or limit yourself to how many cards you can draw. Many of he modifier cards also have little story icons to go along with them. These icons represent story elements to use in the description of the bad things that happen to the characters. They also come into play in different way with the other cards. The story icons can also be covered up and replaced by playing different modifier cards on top of them. There are event cards that are just quick play for quick strikes against your opponents. The untimely death cards are what finish off your family and they all have their own rules and provide bonuses. If you want to play the “died old and alone” card you can’t play it on anyone with the heart symbol currently visible.

The first player to wipe out their clan ends the game and then the players tally up the negative points on their dead family members. Sorry — the alive ones don’t count. The player with the most negative points wins. It’s a simple game of murdering your family that happens to be a lot of fun. I think the best part of this game is the stories players come up with for the terrible things that happen. You can just play the cards and go about your business but where’s the fun in that? Get creative! PLAY GLOOM!

SDCC 2015 – ‘Star Wars’ Comics to Have Crossover Event with ‘Vader Down’

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We’ve all been reading the unbelievable good Darth Vader and Star Wars comics that Disney/Marvel rebooted to promote The Force Awakens because they’re awesome. Now Kieron Gillen’s Darth Vader and Jason Aaron’s Star Wars are going to collide in a major way. You know you’re excited.

Spoiler Alert: if you haven’t been reading Darth Vader, do not continue.

So Vader has been operating outside of the Emperor’s circle and definitely without his approval. Now he’s going to face off with more rebels than he can really handle, but he can’t exactly call for Imperial backup. Vader’s on the outside and now he has to handle things from there.

Aaron and Gillen describe Vader Down as their Avengers movie. “Let’s put in Marvel Cinematic Universe terms. [Laughs] We’ve been doing Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor and this is The Avengers. Everything that we’ve been doing goes on the screen at the same time and you get watch all of those characters interact for the first time. It’s a mammoth story,” says Jason Aaron. We’ll get to see C-3PO and R2-D2 come face to face with their evil counter parts, I can’t wait for that. This encounter is going to affect the story lines of both series in major ways.

Jason and Kieron will be working together on Vader Down which is a good thing for all of us. Vader Down will be a six-issue miniseries with art by Salvador Larroca & Mike Deodato.

Look for this series in November.

Source: CBR

SDCC 2015 – ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Comic Con 2015 Reel

JJ Abrams

Nothing makes me feel like a giddy child again like Star Wars.

I’m 30 years old which means, if you can do math, that I was not yet born to appreciate the original theatrical release of the original trilogy. I did however grow up watching them thanks to the power of our VCR and some blank tapes.

I remember the digitally enhanced versions being released to theaters and I was excited because I got to experience my favorite films as I was meant to experience them, and I didn’t care about the dumb CG monsters or the extra explodey Death Star.

I remember when they announced the creation of the prequels. I had just finished my 8th grade year when Phantom Menance was released to theaters, and I was blown away. Episode I, II, and III is my, our, generation’s Star Wars films. Whether you like it or not, you and I own Jar Jar Binks, and he’s the single most important character in the Star Wars universe. I know the prequels don’t hold a candle to the original films, but damn it they’re mine and yours!

All that being said, the combination of the most recent trailer and the just released behind the scenes reel from SDCC, I feel like a child again. Watching the actors I grew up on together again to continue the story I love literally makes my heart beat faster and my eyes well up. You can tell that this is a supremely important project to both the original cast and all of the new cast. Seeing just extras as Stormtroopers say that they can die now because they’re in this film warms my heart because it’s how I would feel.

Star Wars is an emotional experience for me.

Star Wars is important.

Probably the most important thing to take away from the SDCC Reel is the return to practical effects. J.J. Abrams understands the value in how things used to be done. Miniatures, animatronics, full-scale structures and freaking film! That’s how you make movies ladies and gentlemen. There is a certain something about watching an actor interact with a physical person or object or an actual something. CG can rob us of some importance of the film. Don’t ask me to explain that. Oh yeah, and Simon Pegg plays an alien! Is it December yet?

SDCC 2015 – ‘Deadpool’ Leaked Trailer Shows All the R-Ratedness We Hoped For

Deadpool#It was bound to happen, it’s Deadpool and it’s awesome.

Yes the video is on a camera phone and it’s shot from like 200 feet away so it’s not great quality but it’s clear enough that you should watch it probably right now.

All of the comedy and all of the R-ratedness you want is there. I could be wrong but someone totally says “Fuck Liefeld” in the trailer, and I don’t mean someone in the audience, I mean it’s a line in the movie.

While we can’t show the preview here, you can link to it through the good people at Dorkly. Take a look!

Source: Dorkly

Creator-Owned Spotlight: 8:15 Comics [EXCLUSIVE]

Denver-based comic book creator Ryan Wise is bringing the zombie apocalypse right to our own back doors with 8:15. The zombie outbreak is global, happening simultaneously around the world. 8:15 focuses on the outbreak in Denver which is not a usual setting for most comics. As Ryan or any good writer will tell you, you have to write what you know. With a good cast of characters leading 8:15, Ryan is looking to make a big splash in a genre that sometimes seems overrun. I had a chance to ask him some questions about 8:15 recently.

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Hush Comics: So the zombie apocalypse comes to Denver? Why did you choose to focus your story in Denver? 
Ryan Wise: One of the key points in 8:15 is the fact that the zombie event occurs around the entire globe at the same time: 8:15pm GMT. This is the the “outbreak getting out of control” scenario we have all become used to. Since the z-day event is global, we had the freedom to choose to set our story pretty much anywhere in the world. It became a matter of writing what you know and loving where you are. We try to source as much of our production process locally and that include the story and setting.

HC: We’ve seen an up-tick in horror comics recently. Why did you want to go with zombies?
RW: I, too, have noticed the increase in horror comic releases, but I do not think it is a bad thing. In fact, I feel like it reflects an increase in the amount of interest and demand for products like that, and that makes me very optimistic for 8:15. I knew that when we decided to write a zombie story we were entering a crowded genre. We felt like we would be able to cut through the noise and create something that zombie fans can really enjoy. With the release of Part 2, we can finally give people a glimpse of how thought-out and deep our zombie scenario is. Zombies provide a perfect medium for complex story telling like that.

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HC: You have a pretty good size cast of characters. Was it always the plan to have a larger group? Why not do a smaller cast?
RW: When 8:15 was first conceptualized, it had a pretty small cast consisting of only the characters necessary to drive the main plot forward. As the idea was developed, more and more characters had to be added in order to allow us to highlight themes. Those newly conceived characters, developed well into the writing process, have ranged from mere zombie fodder to one character, Jordan, that has become a major force in the 8:15 universe.

HC: How difficult was it to get 8:15 up and running? What was it like going from concept to product?
RW: The most difficult part of getting 8:15 up and running was not the logistics or product development; those things can be easily overcome with persistence and effort. The hardest part was learning how to change the way I think and plan. Producing 8:15 was a process that requires many people and months to complete. By the time Part 1 was released on April 17th, 2015, I had learned that planning months and years into the future is something I needed to do to ensure the future and what 8:15 Comics wants to do, tell stories.

HC: It looks like a took a couple of tries to be successfully kickstarted; did you ever get discouraged?
RW: I did have a hard time initially getting funded on Kickstater.com, but I never got discouraged. I knew that in order to be successful anywhere, including Kickstarter.com, you need to have supporters and you need to have a strategy. It took me a few tries to develop both. Plus the experience I gained from those failed attempts was critical to my future success. It taught me to market and reach out to my audience in more effective ways.

Hush Comics' EXCLUSIVE look at how 8:15's Tacocat Plush will look
Hush Comics’ EXCLUSIVE look at how 8:15 Comic’s Tacocat Plush (loosely based off Book 2) will look

HC: How far to plan on taking 8:15? Do you have a stopping point planned out?
RW: I am asked all the time, “Do you have the whole story written out?,” and I absolutely love this question!! Growing up in the 90’s, I was inundated with incomplete stories and season by season writing. Even contemporary programming falls into this trap. 8:15 is written out and an ending is planned! This was always a key principal while developing the story.

HC: What’s your ultimate goal with 8:15?
RW: The ultimate goal of 8:15 is to contribute to the overall success of 8:15 Comics and to help the company develop a fan base to help in the future success of our many forthcoming series and projects.


With zombie and horror books really becoming a mass market thanks to the success of The Walking Dead it’s sometimes hard for anything new to make any headway. 8:15 is a different feel than most zombie stories. With its strong cast of characters and very unique art style 8:15 should be a power voice on a crowded stage. You can check out their website, 815comics.com, or their Facebook page for all new updates including new Kickstarter campaigns as new issues are ready to come out.

Creator-Owned Spotlight: After the Gold Rush [EXCLUSIVE] with Miles Greb

Every collector wants to be on top of the next big book. With the big two quickly becoming the big three, I’m looking at you Image, it’s easy to overlook more independent comics. Every creator cut their teeth somewhere. With the ability for creators to more easily find funding through crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter we’re really starting to see unbelievable expansion into creator owned series that are just as good as any big publisher series on the market. Feeling as if he was part of a group that doesn’t have a voice in comics Miles Greb felt a need to put his voice into culture. His comic After the Gold Rush will be on Kickstarter soon and I highly suggest you give it real consideration.

I recently asked Mr. Greb some questions about his intriguing new series:

So from the description After the Gold Rush is a pro-science, science fiction book. What brought this idea to the forefront of your mind?

I was at ECCC last year, I saw some wonderful and a few worrying trends in comics.

The prior was the focus on perspectives from all manner of sub-cultures. I am a huge fan of Silver Age books; the early Marvel books created the artistic dialect for most the medium. The good of this precedent is the optimistic sci-fi expansionism, heroic deeds, and fantastic ideas. The bad, was that these wonderful stages lack diversity in their actors. This is now changing in Comics. But while I saw this inclusion for so many groups, I did not see a signal book that was openly created by or for atheist, skeptics, and the hard science crowd.

The latter is fear. Science is playing the role of the atom bomb again, instead of the moon-lander. Tomorrow will be dark, there will be zombies, the buildings around you will be empty, you will be scavenging, the robots are coming, there is no help, the future will crush us, technology will twist and defame us – The end is now. Brothers, no! This is not how it’s going to be. I grew up watching Cosmos and Star Trek, and that’s the future I see. That is what I want to bring back.

Could you describe the characters? The main character appears very young. Why go with such a young protagonist?

Scout is the first daughter of Titan, only 18 years old, biologically – though she has been alive longer. I wanted a younger hero because I wanted to show the value of the society she came from. I could do this better by showing a less experienced member of it. Also, there is the benefit of her being more relatable to a group underrepresented in science.

I won’t give too much away about the shape of the bag, least you guess there is a cat in it. So I’ll just say – she is from a culture very different than the one we will be finding on earth in ATGR.

The other major players in our story are the Axman, Guttenberg, and another girl who we have not yet reveled. Our wonderful artist Isaac is still working on her concept art. Plus, I like mystery.

Are you working on the book by yourself? How many roles do you have when it comes to the development of After the Gold Rush?

Luckily, since I can’t draw, I do not. Our main artist is Issac La Rossa. He has done all of our concept art, most of our promotional art, and will be doing the first few issues at the very least.

The story and scripts: that was me. I have a disappointing case of dyslexia, so my dear friends, Ben Rodgers and Andrew Pierce, have been working as my editors.

I am also financing the thing. Mostly by selling all of my Magic cards. But I can’t manage it all alone. That is why we will be doing a Kickstarter this August!

How long has this been in development? If you’re using an artist that is not you how hard was it for you to find the right one?

I have had this story in my head for about 2 years, but I never wrote it down until about a year ago. I wasn’t sure all the logistics of making a comic, but after going to ECCC 2014, I was inspired to figure it out.

Finding an artist was hard, but we rolled a 20 on it. I found Issac on Deviant Art actually. I asked him to do some concept art for Scout – it came out great! So we started our relationship. He has many other projects, so I really appreciate all the time he has given us.

We also have other artists helping us with promotional material and our “scientist of the issues” section. UK illustrator Chris Lewis Lee is doing a poster for us, Backterria is doing some pixel art, and Fanny Hagdahl Sörebo will be doing our “scientist of the issue” page.

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Here we have an exclusive look at the sketch for Page 3 of After the Gold Rush.

 

Is this your first project? Where are you hoping to debut After the Gold Rush?

Pretty much. I was going to school for Journalism, so I have some published stuff in papers. That’s about it though. So, hello everyone, I hope you like my debut story.

We won’t be releasing it digitally until people get a chance to have the real book in their hands. As much as I love technology, I fancy actual books. So I want to see it read as a true-blue comic first. Shortly after, we will distribute it digitally.

Obviously you’ve borrowed the title from the Neil Young album by the same name. How much of an inspiration was that album to you?

Personally, the album is very dear. I grew up listening to it while camping with my dad. Neil Young songs were some of the first I learned to play, and I will never stop listening to his stuff. However, there are no themes in the album that are directly linked to our book. The name was just perfect.

Do you have any plans on trying to sell this to publishers?

Do you know any? I am an outsider right now – I don’t have the contacts. I am not against pitching it, but I am not really sure how all that works.

After the Gold Rush looks like it’s going to be a very different take on science fiction and this could be a wonderful new series. We all like the idea of helping out our fellow comic lovers who decided to take that step to trying to become a creator themselves, but how often do we actually reach out? Other than buying some art at cons of course. After the Gold Rush looks like it will be an excellent opportunity get behind an innovative new creator.

This has been the first in what I hope will be many features on creator owned projects. If you have a new comic series you’d like to get off the ground, please let me know.

Stay tuned for the announcement of when After the Gold Rush will be live on Kickstarter. You can follow the progress on Twitter @Goldrushcomic