Denver Comic Con 2014

Get your best People’s Eyebrow on, because finally, Hush Comics has come back… to Denver. It was just one year ago that we stepped in the Colorado Convention Center for the Second Annual Denver Comic Con and our eyes were open to what Hush could do. After the local convention blew us away, we started venturing to other conventions around the country – well, as much as our budget allows. This year, we were a well-oiled machine. We were handing out cards and stickers (hit us up if you want one because we have a few extras!), mingling with fellow con-goers and doing almost everything there was to be done. We took a bunch of pictures of cosplayers, attended a bunch of panels and even got to interview some of the hottest artists at the convention, all of which you can find at the links below.

In this article, you will find one of the most complete Denver Comic Con 2014 experiences on the web, all of which came from a diverse team (see Special Thanks To at the end of the article) of nerds that we have the pleasure of calling our own.

See also:

Denver Comic Con 2014 Cosplay articles

Denver Comic Con 2014 Panel articles

Denver Comic Con 2014 Interviews

Spotlights on 30 of our favorite DCC 2014 guests

Click on the link to take you to all of our Denver Comic Con 2014 articles

The City

The Mile High City is home to the fastest-growing city of nerds in the country. In only its third year, the estimated attendance of nearly 75,000 people has sky-rocketed it to the fourth-largest comic book convention in the WORLD, right behind San Diego, New York City and Toronto – cities with at least four times the population than that of Denver. Google “Nerdiest cities in America,” and there’s a good chance you’ll find Denver on any given list.

One of the greatest qualities of the nerds here in Denver is how diverse they are, making comic cons here a hotbed for the Mile High community. A hardcore Star Wars fan might know all there is to know about but know nothing of Doctor Who and comic books, or vice versa. This diversity usually leads to tons of pocketed groups, meaning that there is always somebody that you can strike up a conversation with pretty much anybody at any time about anything. Most convention goers I have spoken with are nice enough to tell you about their respective fandoms.

The city of Denver isn’t actually all that big, but several large suburbs make up a fair percentage of the land and population. Thanks to years of construction projects, navigating the city from any particular section is fairly early when taking the RTD Light Rail system. The best part was boarding the train with a ton of cosplayers, decked out in their extravagant costumes, sitting right next to people who had no idea Comic Con was even going on. Also, if you wanted to drive, you don’t have to roll the dice on a spot downtown or settle for an expensive lot; there were plenty of parking spots across the street from the Colorado Convention Center at Metro State University.

If you’re staying downtown, there is plenty to do on the weekends. One of the nerdiest attractions is the 1UP bar, a full-service bar that has a plethora of old-school arcade games like Mortal Kombat IITron and Paperboy – even a real-life giant game of Jenga with 2 x 4 blocks of wood. The Pavilion area on 16th street is also quite the fantastical place, full of street performers, eateries and shops to pass the time. Theater nerds can geek out at the Denver Center of Performing Arts, which hosts a variety of plays and events all year long.

There are multiple comic book stores in the metro area, and additional ones in surrounding suburbs. Each shop offers a different experience and has a specialty of sorts. All C’s Collectibles in Aurora is a great place to find sports cards, coin collections and back issues. The shop has been in business for over 25 years and is the go-to spot when I’m on that side of town. I Want More Comics is an up and coming store in Northglenn (about 10-15 minutes of highway North of downtown) that has a lot of trade paperbacks and unique collectibles. It’s hard to spend less than an hour per visit there. The store we go to for books is Mile High Comics, which has four locations in the metro area. Their Glendale store on Colorado Blvd is pretty much home to me, where Aaron and Jay always hook us up with our weekly books and specialty figures. Mile High’s Jason St. warehouse is just that – a warehouse, and the biggest comic book emporium in the world. Whether it’s a rare back-issue, an out-of-print trade or a toy you didn’t know you needed, you can find just about anything in the world of nerd at that warehouse.

Denver is a city that makes itself very accessible to nerds, and is very accepting of the culture, in general. It’s one of the contributing factors that makes it one of the best cities in the country for young professionals, hipsters, and relocation. The continued diversity of people Denver gets only adds to the attraction of events like Comic Con. The best part is that the event hasn’t even been saturated; there are still thousands of people who either couldn’t go or need to be converted. Denver is a nerd gold mine right now, and it’s great to see how many people are striking big in the Mile High City.

How Denver Comic Con Works:

Let’s be honest; last year’s Denver Comic Con was poorly organized. It wasn’t DCC’s fault, either. There was just no way to prepare for the explosion of attendance that happened between the inaugural year, which saw a modest 28,000 people attend, and 2013, where attendance ballooned to 63,000 people – making it the fifth largest convention in the world after only two years. The problems were more logistical than anything, and this year was a great reaction to the issues that plagued the previous convention. The entire exhibitor’s hall was organized in a much more logical fashion, volunteers were actually informed of what was happening, and people were actually let in the doors when the Con opened.

This year, DCC saw a reported 75,000 attendees flood the convention center. Some were looking for autographs and art sketches, some were looking to go to panels and look at cosplayers, and some were just so absolutely lost in the chaos that they walked the exhibitor’s hall like a group of Amish at Best Buy. I would venture to say that a majority of the attendees knew what they wanted to do and how to get there. Artists and creators were located at the back of the hall, while retail shops and displays took up most of the front. Off to the side was the celebrity signing booths, where various celebs took to signing for large blocks of time. Meanwhile, panel rooms were sprawled out on the first floor. Convention food could be found in multiple places, and aside from the $4 bottles of water, it was reasonably priced and tasted delicious.

Due to the fact that we had a team of BAMFs (Nightcrawler or Pulp Fiction – either analogy works) networking, attending panels, and taking some great cosplay pics, we were free to do so much more than before at a convention. For others, it was a bit more difficult. Due to the small size of the Main Even and Mini Main Event panel rooms, it wasn’t uncommon to wait for an hour just to get a seat in a panel. We noticed the same thing when it came to getting a sketch from an artist or an autograph from a celebrity. At that point, it’s all a matter of prioritization. There were definitely things we didn’t get to do or see over the weekend, but I feel like had they been our top priorities, they would have gotten done.

There is so much cosplay going on at the Denver Comic Con that it punches you right in the face as you walk in the doors. The sheer volume was amazing. I’d guess that I saw more people dressed as Harley Quinn here than I did people dressed up altogether at Houston’s Comicpalooza. From Dragonball Z to Dark Crystal, the diverse crowd really made for a thoroughly entertaining game of Guess Who? People we talked to said they came to DCC specifically for the cosplay, and the hard work put into their costumes proved their validity – especially in the contest winning Mr. Freeze. The dedication didn’t just stop at costumes. Colorado Movie Cars had a fleet of nerd-inspired vehicles for attendees to look at, including the Ghostbusters‘ Ecto-1, Knight Rider‘s K.I.T.T., Bumblebee’s Camaro, Herbie and the TMNT Party Wagon, which it has become my new goal in life to build. There were also two Batmobiles in the house (Burton and West) and the Umbrella Corps Dodge Magnum.

This year also brought in some big name guests. Since the convention was created to promote Comic Book Classroom, a lot of the guests are people that we grew up idolizing as kids, like: Kevin Conroy (the voice of Batman in Batman: The Animated Series), Jim Cummings (the voice of Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and Darkwing Duck), Adam West and LeVar Burton. We were all there to see somebody different, and our varying experiences were all equally cherished. The love didn’t stop there, though, as we were able to get some astonishing artwork and keepsakes from our favorite people in the nerd world.

 

 

Meet the Press!

Hush Comics was lucky enough to receive media passes to DCC, and we felt like we were treated with great respect. Not only were we able to get priority seating for the popular panels, but we were also granted access to the exhibitor’s hall before the doors opened. Both days we snuck in early, we were there to interview artists. We were able to sit down for an extended amount of time and speak with Georges Jeanty, who just ended his run on Serenity: Leaves on the Wind, and Yanick Paquette, who’s currently working on Wonder Woman: Earth One. Both were complete gentlemen, and the formal interview quickly turned into a completely casual back and forth. We were even able to request a commission from each of them of our favorite characters making a hushing gesture and they turned out amazing! Check them out below:

 

Like at Comicpalooza, we were lucky enough to give away a couple of 3-Day passes to a lucky Facebook fan by the name of Jumoke Emery, who is a great guy getting to enjoy his first Comic Con. Here’s his account of the weekend:

So I have a confession to make: This was my very first Comic Con experience. Mostly I spent it wandering around starry-eyed, high-fiving awesome cosplays while not the least bit tipsy off of Brews Wayne. I was most excited for the panels, yet managed to miss every single panel that I stood in line for (P.S. Comic-con lines for panels can be ridiculous, and I’ve decided that the fire marshal and I aren’t friends). However, I still had a blast! Being among my fellow geeks feels like home, now the only debate is whether I’m John Stewart or Power Man for next year’s Con. Shout outs to Hush Comics for helping me have an amazing Father’s Day weekend!

IMG_0699-1

 

Aside from the great interactions we had with people, it was such a joy to be able to tell people what we’ve built over the past year. It’s not the shiniest website on the web, but the hard work and hours of writing feels validated when we get such great feedback from people we randomly meet and strike up conversations with. I can only expect that we will continue to grow, adding more quality writers and covering more ground than we do now. Thanks to everybody that made this a fun and fruitful experience. See you next year!

 

Special Thanks to:

Jacob Robinson: You may have seen him dressed as Ash Bender at DCC, or just noticed his stylish mustache and dreads. Jacob wrote multiple panel articles and

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Jené Conrad: Although Jené had to leave for the weekend to attend a friend’s wedding, she was an integral part of getting set up for the convention, and was not shy at all about networking with others on Hush’s behalf.

Robert Michael: Most of the photography of the convention you see was taken by either Adrian or Robert. He also wrote a few of the big panels, like The Oatmeal and Arrow. Robert was the utmost professional and we are lucky to have him on the team

Robert LOVES reading
Robert LOVES reading

 

Alyssa Mitchell: This girl is a machine! She came to the convention after pulling night shifts, and was an absolute pleasure to be around. She’s Robert’s girlfriend, so it makes sense she was always at work – whether it be pushing the Hush name, taking media duties or helping us plan out the day.

Charlotte Renken: Our newest writer is a straight-up prodigy. We sawn her passion for cosplay inspire others in real time, and we’re lucky her unique voice has found a home at Hush Comics.

charlotte newmar

Lewis Brown: This phenomenal artist is one of our favorites in Denver. Check out his Facebook page. He’s extremely humble and personable, and he spent a lot of his time at the con doing free work for the non-profit Aurora Rise. Definitely make yourself familiar with his work, so that one day, you can tell people you knew who Lewis Brown was before he made it.

Lewis Brown Sketch 1

Scott McCauliffe: Scott has had the most unique experience at DCC among us; he has been an artist at the con, a patron, and this year, a member of the press. He was able to make it for Father’s Day, and his article on his experience is one worth reading.

John Layman

Evan Lowe: Evan couldn’t be here in person this year. He was busy completing a rigorous course to get his Master’s Degree in Social Work! The only thing he requested was a picture of Lou Ferrigno. I’d like to think we delivered. Now that his courseload has slowed down, expect more from him soon.

Lou Ferrigno Evan

Sherif and Adrian: We had to throw a little love our way… mostly so I could post these pictures of us.

 

Tips for Future DCC-ers:

  • Buy your passes early. Even if you end up not going, you can definitely sell the passes on Craigslist or at the door. When we originally bought 3-Day passes a few months in advance, we paid $55/pass. Compare that to the daily rates of $40/day they were charging the week of the con, and you’ll be face-palming yourself for not capitalizing on the situation earlier.
  • Before the convention starts, make a list of things you want to do, and plan it out according to which days things are happening. If you plan things out, there’s a good chance you can get to it all.
  • Cosplaying is amazing, but what’s even better is wearing comfortable shoes. You will spend hours walking, standing, rinsing, repeating. On a similar note, please do shower and wear deodorant. Yes, people will know it’s you, and they will judge you for it. DCC even put on a satirical PSA about “Con Funk” to reiterate the dangers of not valuing personal hygiene.
  • If you get cold often, bring a sweatshirt in the convention center; it might be 90 outside, but it’s likely refrigerated inside.
  • Know where the Guiry’s booth is. Grab any sleeves for prints/pictures you need to avoid getting them all smashed up.
  • Come prepared to buy stuff: artists prints, doo-hickies, collectibles, and of course, comic books. Also know that you will be having to bring or send this stuff back home with you. Some of the best things to prepare are:
    • Comic book portfolio: holds approximately ten issues for signing and collecting.
    • Poster tube or picture hard-sleeve: don’t let those prints/signatures get bent. Trust me, hiding it in a book will not cut it.
    • Know where a nearby FedEx is to ship back the really valuable stuff
  • Take a fair amount of cash with you. A lot of the booths and special events only accept cash – not to mention cash only parking lots in the surrounding area – so avoid getting caught cashless when a good opportunity arises. There are ATMs available around the convention center.
  • If you have time to leave the convention center, there are a lot of great, relatively inexpensive places to chow down nearby. Some of our favorites are: Cheba Hut, Snarf’s and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. (kinda pricey, but worth it if you’ve never been).
  • Over-estimate the time it takes to get anywhere. Denver is largely a commuter city, so plan accordingly.
  • Prior to going to the convention center, make a to-do list of what you want to accomplish and decide what is realistic.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Ever.

Denver Comic Con 2014 – Three Years, Three Experiences

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It’s a week since the third annual Denver Comic Con got underway. From everything that I saw and experience, it was a glorious weekend. This, like many of you, was my third time attending DCC. I have a unique perspective on the DCC experience, you see I’ve attended all three years in three separate capacities . I’ve been an exhibitor, an attendee, and now as press with Hush Comics. So far, every year has yielded different results, and completely different experience.

For the inaugural year, I had a table in Artist Alley and never had I been more excited to be part of a major event. I sold posters and a preview issue for a comic book that I wrote. By Sunday, I actually had attendees – and even fellow artists – coming to my table specifically to see my work. I’d never experienced anything like that before. I got to be on the ground floor of what is the largest growing comic book convention in the country, and that’s pretty damn cool. Now, because I was an exhibitor and wanted to be the face of my work, I spent almost the entire convention at my table. For the short amount of time I wasn’t at my table, I was nabbing some signatures from great creators and artists, and picking up a few souvenirs for myself. In the end, I didn’t get to experience much of what the convention had to offer. On the upside, I scared the crap out of Billy West and got to high-five Colin Ferguson.

John Layman

I almost did not attend DCC year two. My first son was due just a couple of weeks after the scheduled date and, believe it or not, there are things I hold more dear than Denver Comic Con. My son decided that he was going to show up a month early though and my wife and I made the decision to bring the little guy to his first ever convention being only a few weeks old. After the excellent experience I had the year prior I was very excited to be back for the second year. Sadly, it appeared that the DCC crew were not very well prepared for the growth between the first and second year. The convention floor was over-packed with extremely narrow aisles. Attendees were funneled through lines and stopping to look at anything made me feel like an inconvenience to those around me. My family and I did make it out of the exhibitor’s hall to check out some of the other goings on at DCC, most notably the William Shatner Q&A. The second year wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as the first time around but still not bad enough to keep me away for the third year.

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This year, thanks to the fine people here at Hush Comics, I was able to attend as a part of the media. People might not think that attending in the this fashion would be very different than being a regular attendee, but knowing that I was there to properly document the event this time made me look much closer than before at the guests, events, and the thousand of fans all there for a great time. Really paying attention to these details made me appreciate what was going on around me more than ever before.

Now, I only made it for Sunday this year, and traditionally that would mean there would be a little less to see than usual. I was pleasantly surprised to find Sunday was just as good of a day to be there as any. I was in attendance with family and friends and did spend the majority of my time in the Exhibitor’s Hall. This is, of course, where the majority of the con goers can be found, and it was packed. It was great to see that the show runners learned from last years and really expanded the floor space because walking down the aisles in a small group, and pushing strollers was easy and didn’t cause half the headache that it did last year.

Hobbit-orc

One thing that DCC has always done right is how easily accessible the comic book creators and artists are. It’s a magical feeling being able to walk up really meet the people that make us who we are. The growth of DCC has helped pull some really big names, like Fiona Staples and Tim Sale, a couple of my personal favorites. I had the pleasure this year of getting some photos with Tim Sale and John Layman. It’s the people in comics are the reason these conventions even exist, sometimes I’m worried that con goers forget that. The tv and movie celebrities are great, but for me it’s always been about the extraordinarily talented artists and writers that bring us or favorite characters in their best forms.

One of my favorite parts of any convention is the excellent cosplay done by extremely talented fans. My personal favorite was Pyramid Head, whom, it turns out is also the man inside the Humping Robot costume.  Among the other excellent costumes I saw were Jareth from Labyrinth, Kanto from Fooly Cooly, The 10th Doctor and Scorpion from Mortal Kombat. One real show stopper was the Skeksis from Dark Crystal. I hope you had a chance to take your photo with this one, I know I did.

scorpion

A fun attraction that they expanded on from last year was the all LEGO city scape. Like last year, there was an impressively elaborate entire LEGO city with a running LEGO train doing laps. And if that wasn’t enough European-based building toys for you, next to famed artists Fiona Staples was a giant recreation of the Saga #8 cover done in the tiny colorful bricks. I really enjoy these setups because they aren’t what you always expect to see at conventions like these.

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I did watch a future generation of LARPers learn how to handle a themselves in a fight with an assortment of mid-evil weaponry. The Knights Academy was a great weekend long panel for children. It was entertaining to watch these fantasy fights play out before your eyes, and watching a large group of kids being legitimately interested and excited to be a part of something so different even in the realm of nerd. The kids events did really seem to take a major forefront this year, when compared to the two previous years. I mean, Adam West, among other celebrities, held reading sessions in the Kid Corral. I’m sure if you were to have asked him LaVar Burton would have been proud of the focus on literacy this time.

fighting-spectators

From year to year Denver Comic Con has gone through some serious changes. A large part of that is the unexpected speed at which the convention grew. It’s hard to keep up when one year you more than double your capacity. There were definitely growing pains. Luckily, it seems that DCC handled themselves much better and learned from past mistakes. If the convention continues to grow and those running it take the time to actually look back at the previous years and find what they need to do to improve, even just a little, this will be a great convention for years to come.

Denver Comic Con 2014 Interview – Yanick Paquette

We were just walking around Denver Comic Con, minding our own business, when Yanick Paquette decided to be the coolest guy in the world. About a month ago, we decided to spotlight our favorite guests at the convention, and Yanick was quite impressed with our research on his piece. When we met him at the convention, we saw not only his extreme talents, but his charisma at work. After chatting it up for 10-15 minutes at his booth, watching him draw a commission for Jean Grey, he asked us if we would like to interview him the following morning. YES! We tried to play it off cool, but we were really excited to meet him. One day and a full night of research later, we were ready to go. We discussed everything from Swamp Thing and Wonder Woman: Earth One to independent books and colorists. He is a full transcription of what went down when Robert and Sherif sat down to interview Yanick Paquette.

Click on the link to take you to all of our Denver Comic Con 2014 articles

 

Hush Comics: You just got back from an insane touring schedule in Europe. How does the comic book convention scene abroad compare to how it is in America?

Yanick Paquette: Well, a few years ago, in Europe, you would not charge for sketches and it was more about meeting the fans, I guess. The way I see it, the modern convention, the American structure where fans come and pay for sketches and fans interact, is really the model for everybody now. Except maybe France, who will always resist. In the U.K. for instance, the shows are getting bigger, better and longer. This is the case in the United States, too. Here, it is the third year in Denver. It is a pretty decent, huge show. In Montreal, I’m from Montreal, and there were little shows trying to pop up now and then and there were crappy shows and they didn’t last. We have a show in Montreal. I’m not sure how many editions there are, maybe the 5th edition. Now there is some traction.

I am doing a lot of shows, only because my schedule allows it. As I’m not doing a monthly book, I can agree to more. For instance, in August, I am going to Argentina. Eduardo Risso has a small show there. He’s invited just a few people. That is going to be fun. I’m doing Malta. I’m doing a few other shows abroad. [This weekend] it is Charlotte for me. I’m all over the place. It’s good. When I started doing comics, the idea was, ‘Can I get a living out of just drawing? That is good enough if I can get a living out of drawing. Not even a big living, just drawing and get some money.’ That was good enough. But it turned out it’s a way to travel now, so I am traveling all over the place. That was unexpected, but it’s great.

HC: Checking out your Twitter feed, we see that you do as much promoting of other creators as you do for yourself. Is there any work out right now that you feel that the world needs to know more about?

YP: There is Jeremy Bastian, over there. He has a booth here. He is doing something called Cursed Pirate Girl. His stuff is absolutely amazing. He is shy and gentle, and he works his thing. It’s, of course, not Marvel and DC, because it is way too good. He’s been doing his thing forever. Now he is getting some attention in Europe. Obviously that kind of material will work super well in France. I think he is getting there now. Everyone should be aware of this man’s existence because he is just a miracle.

Taken from Jeremy Bastian's Blogspot. Buy Cursed Pirate Girl here.
Taken from Jeremy Bastian’s Blogspot. Buy Cursed Pirate Girl here.

HC: A couple of months ago you expressed the need for DC to start trying to keep their elite colorists in their staple. Can you go into some detail about how much a colorist contributes to the work of the book?

YP: It is a massive contribution. I’m not going to give names, but I’ve been colored by people who have just destroyed my entire month of work. As you open a book, it is the first thing you see. You don’t see the story, because you have to read it. The picture takes some time to acknowledge, but the color is the first thing that is going to punch you in the face. A good colorist can help you with the story telling, can push forward the understanding of the page – the atmosphere and everything. I’m inking myself. I’m penciling and inking, and the only other guy on the team is the colorist. It’s a two-man operation. There’s a lot that I leave for him to do, and it’s truly a team effort. Back in the day, in the 80’s for instance, colorists could do 10 or 20 books a month. It didn’t matter because it was just flat, simple color. But now it is complex stuff. And when it is complex you can really screw it up. [Doing his best colorist impression] ‘I’m going to airbrush everything. I’m going to paint over things.’ Sadly, there are a lot of people in DC and Marvel, mostly at DC, that is part of the problem that will go into not-so-great coloring.

It is obvious that talent is required and talent has to be recognized and paid accordingly. I couldn’t say if DC pays the colorists less than Marvel. I think DC, in general, will pay more. We have overseas royalties. I think they treat the artist better, but the colorist’s stature is still part of the production department more than on the art team, which was the case for both DC and Marvel. Years ago, Marvel did change that structure. DC I’m sure will, sooner or later, follow into that legal structure with their colorists because it won’t make sense. They are always on the same bracket, but it has been a few years that DC hasn’t complied with that new definition of what the colorist should be. When you have your name on the cover and the little on the royalties, it’s not going to be huge money for anyone, but it is a symbol that you are part of team and that you are responsible for the success or the failing of the product. And we recognize that.

On that subject, when I went out and said that [referring to colorists getting paid], Bleeding Cool, spun the story saying that I’m challenging DC to pay. But it isn’t confrontational at all. I have total faith in DC to do it. If anybody needs to take a breath and play ball it is the writer and the artist. That world is a pie. DC allows a piece of the cover price to be split between the art team. I am asking to revisit the pie. Let’s take a bit of my money, of the writer’s money, and the inker’s money, and let’s share that with the colorist so he is part of our team. The challenge might be to get some of the writers and artists to give. It’s more the art team that I challenge to recognize the colorists.

HC: So speaking of colorists, are there any who you specifically love and would really like to work with?

YP: I’m working with Nathan Fairbairn for… He’s my man. We have been working together for a long time. He was working with me, and Chris Burnham, on Batman Inc. We work together because of our friendship, because we have been working together for a long time and because I trust him totally. We have a good working relationship of respect. He brought forward that it’s not so cool [colorists not being paid]. Especially, Wonder Woman: Earth One has a long shelf life. Who knows how much it is going to sell? It wasn’t so fun for him to come aboard on this and not get any piece of it. In part, it was for him that I came forward saying that we should change. I had a hard time to convince him to stay on Wonder Woman. ‘I need you! I don’t want to go onto 120 pages with someone I don’t know.’ It’s very intimate. My artwork is super intimate. I spend so much time and it is very personal. And you are inviting other people in your bed to share this thing with you, you don’t want someone that you don’t trust or that you don’t know who will screw this stuff up. When Nathan was not sure, I had two other options: Dave Stewart, who is absolutely a miracle, probably the best colorist there is, and Laura Martin. Laura is also an absolute magnificent colorist. I’m glad that we ended up working out something with Nathan for this. As I do a page, I feel confident that my man has my back if something goes wrong, and if he is there, the page is going to look good. He boosts my confidence.

HC: Perhaps your most notable signature your crazy panel layouts and how you split up the panels with different elements of the story. What was your inspiration to do this?

YP: It started a little bit before Swamp Thing. I did an issue of Wolverine: Weapon X called “Insane in the Brain” by Jason Aaron. The story goes that Wolverine is trapped in this asylum and he is getting pushed towards madness by this evil guy. Every panel in that book is crooked. It doesn’t look like it if you look at the book, but none of the corners align. Everything is slightly off balance. As you get crazier and crazier, the stuff gets more crooked. There are a few pages where he snaps out of it and he comes to his senses, and then everything is super straight. It is super-subtle. I’m pretty sure nobody really saw that, but they might feel it on the subconscious level.

WOLVERINE DOES THIS LOOK CRAZY

When I do crazy stuff, it is for storytelling purposes. In Swamp Thing, the first script came in from Scott [Snyder], a great script, but pretty down to earth. It was a 10-page script and a guy talking. To me, when I thought about Swamp Thing, I thought of an Alan Moore crazy, wild thing. In my own relationship to Swamp Thing through the years, I discovered, my first artistic love was Berni Wrightson on Swamp Thing. And then I discovered my first love in writing was Alan Moore on Swamp Thing. And then I got to do Swamp Thing. For me it was something personal. It was like coming back home, almost like a full circle. To me, that book had to reflect my past, the past guys who were on Swamp Thing, and my own relationship to comics. I had to put their name in there and also part of their style. The script was very down to earth. So I figured that maybe just the panel layout could be enough to give you a sense that this is not going to be like other comics, it would be pushing forward in trying things in terms of story telling. So I made a code for everything that happened in that story. If the Green is acting on reality, if the Rot is acting on reality, if you are in the Green… When Abigail is there, the panels are not straight. They are more angular because she is more hard edge, now. All sorts of details like that. You can combine, or you can dial down the fact. But they are always aligned with what is happening in the story. It didn’t take that much time that every single thing in Swamp Thing was bizarre, so every single panel was bizarre. You give what you got. It was really freeing.

At first, I did that by doing something different to reflect what Swamp Thing should be. But I wasn’t sure if people would buy it at all. Maybe it was too confusing. There are things that are challenging. But people absolutely loved it. After 2 years, as I am doing my layout for Wonder Woman, I can’t do straight borders. It isn’t the same set of codes, because what I did on Swamp Thing was for Swamp Thing. It is harder to plan with Grant [Morrison] because [Wonder Woman: Earth One] is a long story.  It is hard to see it in its entirety because I don’t have the script for the whole story. It’s hard to plan the element of design. But I try to do other things that I feel are cool.

HC: Your resume is full of work with fantastic writers, even before the New52. Are there any writers who you have worked with at your days with Marvel that you would like to reconnect with?

YP: When I worked with Jason Aaron, that was the absolute best. I’m talking to you Jason! That script was so intelligent. I had fun with Matt Fraction, too. I was lucky enough to do Uncanny X-Men, which was a self-contained story, so I really made that mine. It was very packed with emotion. There were impossibly deep emotional moments. In comics, you can end up having people fighting for 3 or 4 pages. I don’t care for violence; I don’t find it exciting. What I find exciting is these impossible emotions. In that issue of Uncanny X-Men, Dr. Nemesis goes back in the past. He has to meet his mother and father then sees his father dying. His mother is dying, too, but she pregnant, too. So he delivers himself out of his dying mother. He is always pristine white; he is like Mr. Perfect. But the last few pages, he is coming out of his mom’s bedroom with himself in his arms, his coat is full of blood. What are these moments? They are so intense. They give you goose bumps. Swamp Thing was full of those moments, too. There are huge sacrifices. It’s a love story. But it was crazy and weird at the same time with profound moments. I do comics for those moments.

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HC: Let’s talk about Wonder Woman. How does it differ from the monthly series?

YP: First of all, it’s Earth One. So, you know the other Earth One’s, it’s kind of like Marvel’s Ultimates. There are no rules. You can reinvent stuff. Archetypes and elements can come back because they are expected by readers. Because of that, you can play with those. We have free-reign to do whatever we want. Outside of continuity we can do anything. Wonder Woman somehow has a hard time getting a movie for herself or attention beyond the T-shirts and lunch boxes and figurines; to get her to mainstream solo status like she was in the 70’s was very hard. You can do that with Batman or Superman, but not Wonder Woman. People were like, ‘You should do the regular series! She needs help now.’ I love Azzarello’s work. I think it is great. I don’t think she needs that much help in the New52. All the usual revolutions, the big changes for the characters, like Batman for instance, The Dark Knight Returns was not part of the continuity. It was a futuristic story, like an Elseworld. I don’t think Elseworlds existed in the time of Frank Miller. But that thing was so strong, it defined what Batman was. He is now the injured vengeance-ridden kid. Same for Kingdom Come that really rebalanced everything with the DC Universe. If you look at all the films of Marvel, it is not the Thor of the regular series, but it is the Ultimates. It is the Mark Millar work that makes it to the screen. But then again, these alternate stories were so efficient and make so much sense because they have the liberty to redefine what they are in the context of today. Now, even the regular books, which are not the Ultimates, are tainted with the stories of The Avengers, stories of Aaron, and they have all been Ultimate-ized. You almost can’t tell them apart anymore. It is a revolution for a character. Try it outside of the box, and if it is good enough, the box will absorb it.

HC: How does drawing for a script oriented like Scott Snyder on Swamp Thing differ from a writer like Grant Morrison?

YP: It is hard to tell, because I am really proactive as an artist. I’ll take a lot of liberty. I consider my domain to be more than drawing what they ask. I am going to claim some land, for creation purposes. In the case of Scott, at first I had a full script. OK, we are going to do concept drawing – like the panel borders. My job was to tell the story but also push my own graphic agenda. In the case of Grant, Grant will give you a script with very basic dialogue. He will think about the big chunk of concept and all the craziness. Sometimes he locks attention to the little detail. ‘In this scene, these guys need to walk to one place or another,’ just the physicality of the mundane story telling aspect. And you will give this to your artist to make it make sense. You need to trust your artist and to give them some rope. I figure that is why he is always working with the same 5 or 6 guys because he trusts us to bring the kind of script he is giving us to a place where he is satisfied on which he can do the last pass before printing. It is a trusting, touching moment that he gives me so much room. You have to trust him too to bring that ship to the port at the end, because sometimes I’m sending pages and I’m not exactly sure where it is going to land. I trust him the way he trusts me. Because he works with the art finished, he adapts himself to what he gets. In my case, he never asks for redrawing. If I make a decision to fix something that I feel will work better, he doesn’t mind. It is always a work in progress until the last minute. He is always able to react to the art and be creative. As I do a page, I know Grant will make something out of it.

HC: Your first monthly gig was Wonder Woman. The coolest thing I remember about it was the armor with the eagle head.

YP: I did not invent that costume.

HC: I thought I had seen an earlier armor version but not one with the American flag and the eagle helmet.

YP: It’s been a while. I know that in that run of Wonder Woman, I did invent the Fortress of Solitude with the huge flying coliseum with animals in there and armor galleries. It was the new Invisible Plane, because that thing could turn invisible also. I remember designing that. Maybe I updated the armor, but I wonder if it wasn’t Adam Hughes who did it for the cover. Or maybe it’s a spin on an Alex Ross design. It’s funny that today I get to do Wonder Woman again after all these years in probably the most different context possible. Back then, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just trying to learn in front of everyone. A lot of those pages are like [he groans]. The idea was just to get the stuff done on time. That was the challenge of the day. Learning the craft. Getting my stuff done on time. There are a lot of pages in there that I am not proud of. But I was unknown, so that was the deal. Now I have the chance to represent the character, but with no deadline, and prestige format, with a massive writer. Now I know exactly what I am supposed to me. I am fully armed and geared for the process. I am going to redeem myself.

HC: DC Collectibles is releasing a Wonder Woman Art of War statue in the image of your Wonder Woman in October. Did you have a hand in the 3D design for that?

YP: Yeah, I did the design. So, I did the turnaround. Funny thing, though – that costume that I designed for Wonder Woman, not to spoil any of the story itself, but she came to the island with that design from the man’s world. Most of the story is a flashback from before that where she doesn’t wear that. I don’t know how that is going to play out. There are still a few pages to come that I have to draw still. It might very well turn out that the design for the statue is like two pages worth of what is going on in that book. She actually wears another costume. I designed that a long time ago, way before I had a decent chunk of script. If I had to redesign it again, I might have used the version I’m using in the book, which is a little different. But yeah, I did the turnaround. That was my first statue. I had no idea how to do it.

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HC: It’s cool to see that you actually had a hand in designing.

YP: Because it is a statue, they ask the artist ‘Can you figure out a pose? Can you figure out a design?’ Action figures [are different]. They did a huge Swamp Thing with the wings. It is a massive toy. They sent me a box of those that made me pretty happy. But that, I had nothing to do with. All the design is obviously mine. There is a page in Issue #8 when he is coming down at the Rot with the wings. It is a massive toy. It is bigger than everyone. It is part of the New52 set of toys. I don’t know the scale, but Swamp Thing is just a monster so he goes in the massive monster box.

Swamp Thing Wings

HC: I know everyone is asking you when the book is coming out. Can we assume that since the Wonder Woman statue is coming out in October, there might be something around the corner?

YP: No. I haven’t done all the pages. I have good chunks of stuff to do. I feel like October might come a bit too soon. Maybe DC’s promotional department might want to gather a bunch of Earth One’s together for a big event. I know Gary [Frank] has another Batman [Earth One] going and there’s another Superman going. I think it is in their ballpark. They will find a way to sell that thing at an appropriate moment. I have a feeling that it might be at the very beginning of 2015. My goal is to finish it this year. I have been on it too long. I over-think. Working with a flexible deadline, I am doing my best. At the end of the day, the extra perfection that I have managed to put in there is the one that takes the most time. Without it, I would have totally done the book super fast and nobody would recognize there is a little…  If I would just give it up, nobody would care, except for me. I could make that book super fast. That’s the problem with a long deadline, I want to do the best and then it takes even more time.

HC: Working on a non-monthly book, it must allow for a more balanced lifestyle. We were wondering what hobbies you have on the side?

YP: I do travel a lot. I do a lot of conventions. That’s what I do. I used to do a lot of music. I write music and record it. There is some stuff online.

HC: I actually fell asleep to the Swamp Thing soundtrack last night.

YP: The Swamp Thing is a more orchestral film soundtrack. When I write serious stuff it’s mostly string quartets. But I’ve been writing a long time. With convention schedules, you travel and then come home and then I’m exhausted. Then I have to do two or three pages. It’s just a lot. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll say yes to too many people in terms of shows this year. But I will survive and I will take it as a warning.

HC: How did you get into writing music?

YP: It was a hobby when I was a kid, reading and writing music. In my teens I would write stuff. The things I really enjoy, there is no market. Classical or Baroque music – nobody cares for that. I went into Biology first and then I had a reality check and figured it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I considered Music for about an hour and half and then I went into comics instead. I may have ended up doing a movie score or having an orchestra. But there are so many good guys in movie scores; it’s such a huge market. I didn’t want to do jingles for advertising. I figure I will keep my music as pure as I want with no compromise. I’ll do my own thing for myself. I don’t need the public for that. I’ve posted it online because people have said, ‘You should post it online. It’s funny.’ But it’s for me really. And with the comic aspect, I’ll play ball a little bit more. And I did at first. Now I’m pickier with what I want. And maybe because I can do whatever I want in comics, I don’t feel the need to write music anymore.

HC: You have worked on a lot of established franchises. We wanted to know if you had any interest in doing something creator owned for an independent publisher or are you with DC forever?

YP: Honestly, I am looking for a creator owned in a very serious way. As I look at the industry now, DC and Marvel, every book you do, you can rest assured that the next book, even though you do your best the book is going to sell less. They are never going to sell more unless you kill a character or you put Jim Lee in the book. Every book will sell less than the one before. That trend has been going on with every single book of DC and Marvel for the past 5 or 10 years. The only places where I actually see growth is in the independent. Granted they start lower, so they have room to go up, but they do. They offer something different, something fresh. A few years ago when people would come in with a portfolio who were prime for DC, I would push them to try Image or do something independent and then come back to DC with that name. Now I am seeing the opposite. Get to DC or Marvel and make a name for yourself, then go to Image and cash in. Do something you own. From that point of view, if I would do something at Image and sell five times less, but do more money and do whatever I want. I don’t have anything against spandex and superheroes. I’ve done it a lot and enjoyed it as a kid. But it is a limited a genre. After a while you have told the story you wanted to tell. Spandex guy punching another spandex guy. I have done all the angles. I want to tell other kinds of stories. In other media, in movies or books, you get all different stories and they sell to different markets. But comics have been trapped into one mainstream, one little type of fiction. It makes no sense. But now Horror is coming again, I may not want to do pure Horror stuff.  I won’t tell what I am looking into because I am not sure myself. I think the typing is good with miracles like The Walking Dead. Which is a fluke. You can’t say, ‘[In his best American accent] Oh! I’m just gonna do The Walking Dead. That seems like a profitable business plan.’ It’s a fluke! It’s something weird. But what happened is that people in the mainstream, and when I say mainstream, it’s not comic mainstream. This is not mainstream. This is a little bubble of weird geeks. The true world realizes that The Walking Dead came from a book. They enter into a comic book store with no geek preconception about qualities of DC and Marvel and the rest are amateurs. They don’t care for that. They’ll look and maybe by Chew or Saga. The readership has expanded. That is why The Walking Dead and some of these independent books are getting good numbers because it is fresh readership. It is fresh blood. It is people from the outside world coming and seeing that we are doing something that kind of makes sense.

HC: Our wrap up question is, what can fans except to see you in soon and where is the best place to reach you?

YP: I’ll be Charlotte this coming weekend. I’ll probably do New York. I will be in Portland this year, too. I will be in Malta for the Italian people who may read this. I’ll be in Argentina. There is a show in Montreal. I’ll drop by there and say hello. I am fairly easy to reach over Twitter and Facebook. I am pretty well-versed in the Web 2.0. [Also check out his DeviantArt page to see some of his beautiful commissions!]

 

Paquette Interview 1

 

 

 

Denver Comic Con 2014 – Look! It’s Bruce Campbell

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Panel Name: Look! It’s Bruce Campbell

Topic: Bruce Campbell being classic Bruce Campbell, Q&A

Featured GuestsBruce Campbell

 

The set-up of this panel was different from the beginning; the normal table on the stage was gone and only two chairs remained. There was a feeling of unrest in the air, as if the dead has risen. All that went away when Bruce Campbell came out in his classy three-piece suit and cowboy hat. Bruce came out and said this panel was going to be different because he was going to audition audience members to be the moderator for the panel. Campbell looked around and chose one guy, one girl and an odd guy cosplaying as a guy from Duck Dynasty. He had them all recite the opening monologue from Burn Notice. The first guy fails about half way in, the girl does a much better job but need to pause for laughter a couple times and ends up failing a little after the spot the first guy did, and we get to the Duck Dynasty guy and he takes forever to start, but once he does, he gets in done perfectly. This panel has been a crazy ride thus far, so of course he ends up being Jeffrey Donovan – who plays the lead, Michael Westen, in Burn Notice. After fans start calming down from the surprise, we learn this is Donovan’s first convention and that, as a native Coloradoan, he wanted DCC to be his first con experience.

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This all was in the first five minutes of this panel, so once the audience learns of this, we insisted that Jeffrey Donovan walk around the crowd and ask questions instead of the normal walk to the mic fashion most of the other panels had. This added a whole new level to the con experience because instead of waiting in line for hours to meet someone they are the ones coming to you which had some people freaking out a bit. Once the questions start we get right off the bat what we can expect from Bruce Campbell at this panel. I say this because the panel started with a young boy who asked Bruce to say his famous line, “This is my Boomstick!”, Bruce’s response – as to say he is not the kids dancing monkey and moved on. Now, although a lot of people would find this rude, you should expect from Campbell as he is notorious for being very open and unapologetic with his fans. From he we got questions regarding Evil Dead’s future with Ash which was a bleak and quick, “Don’t hold your breath.” from Bruce.  This led to a question of whether Bruce would reprise the role of Ash in Evil Dead the Musical which was answered with a “No,” because Bruce said he could not sing well, which led to him singing a song from The Fantastiks and then forgetting the lyrics.

Another subject that was discussed at this year’s con more was Xena, which of course brings up Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. A couple people asked about what Bruce’s favorite moments within these series were, where he played Autolycus, the self proclaimed King of Thieves. From Xena, Bruce remembered an episode where Xena’s mind was put into Autolycus’s body and he had to go around as Xena but looking like Autolycus. Bruce said the best part was he got to kiss Renée O’Connor and grab her ass, which he quickly replied, “and not having to grab Kevin Sorbo’s tight ass was the best part of Hercules.”

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A rather interesting question was that of what was Bruce’s favorite line to deliver for any film or show. This was mostly interesting for the story because Bruce said it was, “Give me some sugar, baby,” from Army of Darkness. He explained that it was his favorite because he had a fan come up to him and thank him for it, not knowing what he meant. When Bruce asked him to explain, the man said he was overseas with the military and had that saying translated, and because of this, he used it at a bar later on and it got him laid. So Bruce took credit for that and likes that line best because of it.

Then Bruce fixed his Pocket-poof and made sure that you called it a poof and not a square because pocket squares are for squares. After this Bruce got tired of answering questions so he got up and walked around the audience asking people about themselves which usually ended up with Bruce insulting them in some way until they sat back down, usually pulling a strange Colorado town out from nowhere to reference and make fun of. Not much happened with audience question but that until we were told time was up and since the Star Trek: TNG panel was on next Denise Crosby came running out to give Bruce a hug and make a quick reference to her character in Brisco County and to make a couple flirtatious remarks to Bruce to end the panel with another quick surprise.

Denver Comic Con 2014 – Gargoyles 20th Anniversary Reunion

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Panel NameGargoyles 20th Anniversary Reunion

Topic: Q&A with cast, crew and the creator of Gargoyles

Featured Guests: Greg Weisman, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Jim Cummings, Salli Richardon-Whitfield, Greg Guler, and Vic Cook

There are and have been a lot of anniversary events this year and one Denver Comic Con decided to cover was the 20th anniversary of Gargoyles. It worked perfectly since another was the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which goes right with this as the entire Star Trek cast, other than Patrick Stewart, did a voice at some point during this series. This panel only had Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis as they played main villains in the series but the panel also included, Greg Guler, Vic Cook, Jim Cummings, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, and the creator, Greg Weisman. Greg W was supposed to moderate the panel but if anybody knows Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis and most of the Star Trek: TNG crew, you know nobody is in charge when they are in the panel.

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Frakes pretty much took control of the panel and there was not much from anyone else but Marina Sirtis, occasionally Greg Weisman, and little things from everyone else. This aside, It still was very entertaining and gave us all as deep of a look into Gargoyles we could get with Frakes and Sirtis going nuts the whole time. The series itself was made by Disney and although you can see things like The Lion King and Donald Duck displayed on televisions in select episodes, Disney did not have much control over the series itself (that is until Disney destroyed it for the Goliath Chronicles). You can definitely see influences from Disney, as well as how Goliath has similarities from every child’s worst nightmare from Fantasia, the demon Chernabog.

Even with Disney making it and ultimately destroying it with what can honestly be called an entirely different series with Goliath Chronicles since the staff and crew were pretty much entirely different. A lot of the themes and ideas from the great two original seasons the show had such as Shakespearean references are what made the show great and that much more wonderful for children to watch all seemed lost within this supposed “Third” season Disney made. Shakespeare had such a big impact on the show that we had characters of the Weird Sisters, and Macbeth, but many other historical and literal references such as King Arthur, which made this not only a great fantasy series but took so much stuff kids should learn and set things up so that they would actually seek out who these people were furthering their interest in learning and reading, I am looking at you Anansi, or LeVar Burton as he is known outside of Gargoyles.

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Now, the final thing to mention was there was talk of a live action Gargoyles film and Greg Weisman actually told us all it may happen but Disney has a different script of Scottish gargoyles coming to life in New York and working with a female cop and it is not Gargoyles (This type of copying with no credit sickens me). However, after the initial mention Marina Sirtis made sure to mention that if any fans want anything, all you have to do is bombard the studios that own the properties. In a day and age where fans have brought back Family Guy, Futurama, Arrested Development and more because of their constant badgering of the studios has proven useful and ultimately shows that there is always a chance something can come back after death, at least in the world of television. Hopefully, if this film does get made, we can have another Star Trek reunion and maybe Patrick Stewart could finally make his Gargoyles performance which he would do according to Marina Sirtis because as she said, “Patrick is a whore now and he would do just about anything.”

Denver Comic Con 2014- Cosplay…The Lost Photos

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Denver Comic Con 2014 had so many Cosplayers.  So many in fact, we had so many photographs to go through, we missed some!  Here are the best of the rest!

Denver Comic Con 2014 Interview – Georges Jeanty

This weekend at Denver Comic Con 2014, Hush Comics interviewed the wonderful artist Georges Jeanty, famous for his work on Buffy Season 8 and 9, as well as his current stint on Serenity: Leaves on the Wind.  He had a lot to say about his past, present, and future, including his time with Joss, what he really thinks about Buffy hook-ups, and whether or not Wonder Woman is in his future.

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Hush Comics: What was it about comics that sucked you in?

Georges Jeanty: I guess when you’re a kid, you really don’t know anything else.  Maybe now you do with video games and all, but that really didn’t exist.  Maybe Pong existed when I was a kid.  It was just the love of stories, reading, and things like that.  I was a very weird child.  I liked to read when I was younger.  And, comics just grabbed me.  And it grabbed me in a way that it just never let me go.  And then when you get older, you realize, ‘Hey, I can draw!” And then you go, ‘Hey, I’m actually kind of good.  Hey, look I can do this.”  So it was sort of a natural, evolutionary process.

HC: Currently, you are working on the Serenity comic, and I know you were a fan of the show Firefly, when it was on the air, so can you tell me a bit about what made you love the story?

GJ: Love the story that I was doing or the show?

HC: Both.

GJ: Well it’s a show that really had potential and obviously cut down before its prime, type of thing.  So, it’s very sad.  The vindication, of course, is that it got a movie and it goes on from there.  The comics, honestly, it’s all because of Joss Whedon.  I firmly believe that if Joss Whedon didn’t like comics, it would not be a comic book, per se.  Buffy probably would have been, because I believe Buffy is co-owned by FOX, but Joss has Firefly and had he never really been interested in the medium, there probably wouldn’t be a Firefly comic book.  The story is great because it’s the first one that really is post film and it takes place after and you find out what happens to everybody and where they went after the film.  So that’s the really cool part about it.  As a fan, I couldn’t wait to read the scripts when I was getting those.

HC: Awesome!  I am a huge fan, too.  When you were younger, I have heard that you wanted to be an actor.  Who were your inspirations and did you ever act in anything?

GJ: Man, when I was younger, Robin Williams was Mork in Mork and Mindy.  I have always been more attracted to comedy and the people who make you laugh.  It is sort of a philosophical thing.  You never forget the person who makes you laugh.  Somebody can you make you cry, somebody can make you mad, somebody can you give you all those other emotions, but it’s the people, you may not even remember their names, but the people that make you laugh.  I did a little bit in high school, acting, and in college, and church plays here and there, but I quickly realized I was a better artist than I was an actor.   Or that it would probably pay better for me sooner than later.

HC: So at one point you were an artist with a collaborative Gaijin Studios.  What did you do there and how did being with them get you the big gigs that you ended up with?

GJ: Gaijin Studios was primarily just a studio with a bunch of artists. We didn’t necessarily produce anything.  We all worked in the same area as a sort of cohabitation.  We all had our cubicles or rooms as it were.  The great thing about that was a lot of the guys there had been in the business a little longer than I had, and had a reputation that when I was looking for work I could say, ‘Yeah, I’m part of this group called Gaijin,’ and it was part of this swag of being part of that studio that people were like, ‘Oh! Interesting.  I know the studio.  I don’t know you, but if you’re part of that studio, you must pretty good. ‘  So that probably got me Bishop: The Last X-Man years and years ago, and that probably got me that gig.

HC: Speaking of Bishop, Days of Future Past just came out and as a kid I always connected with the animated version of the story.  So how does it feel to have your version of Bishop on the big screen?

GJ: It was the version that I did.  It wasn’t technically my version because that concept was already done when I came to the book.  I evolved in it.  I did about 15 issues of Bishop, so it sort of evolved into whatever version it was.  It was really cool.  I have no criticism, per se, but, of course, you’re looking at something and thinking, ‘Yeah, he would have been a little bit bulkier,’ or ‘He would have been a little more of this.’ But just to see the character that you did, and essentially went into obscurity, its nicely vindicated.  Granted he didn’t have a lot of screen time.  Funny enough, if you didn’t now who he was, you’re going, ‘What? What’s he doing?’  Bishop could absorb power and redirect it. That was his mutant power.  But they never actually explain that in the movie.  So, you’re kind of like, ‘Ok, I guess he can shoot stuff out of his hands. Cool.’

HC: Can you tell me a little bit about how you were able to work with John Ridley on The American Way?

GJ: John Ridley, who has just blown up, totally. Actually coming out next he has got a musical biography of Jimi Hendrix coming later this year.

HC: With Andre 3000?

GJ: With Andre 3000.  Yeah he [John Ridley] was a great guy.  Again, another guy who just loved comics.  He did a couple of things with Wildstorm.  He wrote Authority and then something else, a short story.   And then he pitched this creator owned gig and they brought me on after the fact to say, ‘Hey, he would love to collaborate with you.’  I created the look of the characters with a description that he had done.  He said essentially, ‘You being apart of this, I know there aren’t any big stars or Superman, Batman, any of those characters are not in here, but what I can offer you is a piece of this particular pie should it ever go anywhere.  This was 8 or 9 years ago, where you going, ‘Oh, whatever.  Cool.’  And the story was so good.  I think at the time, I was pegged to do The Flash.  So I was geared towards something that was more established and more known.  After I read his script I was going ‘Oh my God.  This is so good.  If I didn’t draw this, this is something I would want to pick up and read.’  And finally Ben Abernathy, the editor, at Wildstorm at that title at the time was really selling it.  Through Ben’s generosity, I said, ‘Sounds like these would be really cool people to work with.’  When you’re looking at a project like that, originally it was 10 issues and it ended up being 8 issues, but you’re going, ‘I’m going to be with these guys for 8 months.’  That’s a relationship where you’re like, ‘If I don’t like you now, I’m really not going to like you in 8 months.  But if you seem cool, hopefully there is hope that we will really get along.’  John and I got along great.  I mean it was a lot of back and forth.  We called each other a lot and talked about it.  He loved the comic medium.  He really loved the idea that he was saying something about the Civil Rights Movement and all that stuff.  It is probably one of the things I am most proud of in this business.

HC: That says a lot.  After you were done working on The American Way, you were contacted to work on Buffy.  Up that point you hadn’t seen the series yet, but piggybacking off of my Firefly question, what is it about the Buffy story that you love, not only the show, but what you did?

GJ: Uh, that it was Joss Whedon.  I didn’t even read the script.  I didn’t know what the script was, but they said, ‘Well Joss Whedon’s going to be writing the first arc.  Would you be interested?’  I’m like, ‘Yeah.  Sure.’  And I hadn’t really watched Buffy.  I knew Buffy through pop culture, but I had never really absorbed her, and I really quickly caught up when I did get the gig.  Joss was really generous.  I knew who he was, and just the fact that he was giving this to me, this guy who really had no reputation.  I mean, I had done books, but whatever.  He had seen my work, liked it, and wanted me.  I was like ‘Yeah, you’re Joss Whedon.  Cool.’ [Now referring to Joss] ‘No, no, dude, here’s my phone number.  Call me if you need anything, or if you have questions about his or that.’  This was the first time Joss was actually doing a Buffy comic book which was very monumental.   Buffy had been printed up until then for years, but he had never actually done anything.  He did a little something in the Tales of the Vampire and the Tales of the Slayer, but never on Buffy directly.  I quickly realized how much of a big deal this was.  I jumped in on that strength, not really knowing the character.

HC: I know that you didn’t watch it before hand, and I have heard you watched it out of order.  What order did you watch it in?

GJ: I did.  I started with season 6 and then 7.  I liked it so much, because the sent me season 6 and 7 on DVD, I liked it so much, I went back and watched 1-5 on my own.

HC: And did you watch 6 and 7 again so you felt you had the whole series?

GJ: No.  I sort of watched little bits here and there where I needed to get the characters a little more defined.  No, in my mind when I think of Buffy in the end it’s when she actually dies saving Dawn.  That season 6 two-parter was kind of strange because I’m like, ‘She’s dead? So she’s coming back? And who is this biker gang? And now there is this other Slayer thing? What is this?’  And a big thing that I just never understood was her Slayer strength.  I knew she was a Slayer, but to me that did not automatically denote she was more powerful than everybody.  So, a lot of the first few episodes I saw, I felt bad that this girl is getting beaten up and I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is like a masochistic television show. That poor little girl.’  And then when I talked to Joss, because I was doing the comic book… I sort of need details.  You need your stage in order to perform.  You need to know what’s on that stage so you know what you can use.  And with Buffy, I told Joss, ‘Well she’s strong.  Ok. I get that, but how strong?  Is she Superman strong?‘  And he’s like, ‘Well, it’s funny.  We’ve never really tested her limit, but in all honesty, think maybe Spider-Man strong, not Superman strong.  But definitely more than Batman strong.’  So that sort of put things in place to me where as an artist I knew how far I could go.  She could probably turn over a car, but she would have a lot of trouble lifting it over her head.  Those little details, which obviously never came to play in the book, but I knew what she could do.

HC:  I have heard season 6 is your favorite season.  Is that still true?

GJ: Yes.  Totally.  I’m all about change.  I totally get it, the people who were with it all the way from the beginning, people love season 3 when Faith comes in, and no one likes season 4 for some reason.  But there were moments like Oz and Willow, and then Tara coming in.  There are moments in every season.  It’s not that any one season is a blanket of awful or great.  There are moments.  But I thought season 6 just said, ‘This is what it was, and now these guys are growing. ‘  Sometimes, you might have a bad year, or you might get fired.  That year is your lowest year, but that doesn’t mean you are any less of a person, but your life has changed.  That year was such a year of change. A lot of people who didn’t like Spike were like, ‘Well, that’s because they hooked up that season and it was awful.’  I appreciated that change and I loved Andrew, Warren and Jonathon coming in.  Those guys were so funny.  It’s obvious the writers were having a great time writing their dialog.  That felt to me like a cool season.

HC: Do you have a moment from season 6, that you are like, ‘That’s the moment’?

GJ: I’m probably supposed to say The Musical.  It’s been a while now and all of has just morphed in to one big Buffy ball.  I couldn’t tell you the specifics of season 6.  I will tell you though, and since Joss was such a big comic book fan, he modeled Willow’s dissension on Jean Grey and Dark Phoenix.  When you watch it having known that, you see that when Willow brings Buffy back and then Giles has that conversation, like, ‘You incompetent idiot.  How could you have done that?’  And she’s like, ‘Maybe you should be a little nicer to me knowing how much I actually did.’  You can see she wasn’t bad there because she didn’t have the black magic obviously, but you can tell there was that seed that was planted and I love that.  And it’s something if you’re a long time you’re like, ‘Cool, this is going somewhere.’  Oh! Ok, I do have a moment.  Probably the best moment, and Joss loves to do this, is when Dark Willow is doing whatever, he [Joss] recreated it in season 8 in the first arc, where Willow is like ‘Nothing can stop me now.’ And then bam!  She gets hit and Giles is like, ‘I’d like to test that theory.’  And that’s the end of the episode, and it’s like, that is the coolest ending ever.  And when Amy the rat comes back and she does it and Willow does the same thing, it’s ‘Oh my God that is so cool.  And I was a part of it.  Cool!’

HC: That is awesome!  How has working under Joss’ direction influenced the way you tell stories through art?

GJ: His story telling is not so much about the script.  I learned a lot more talking to him.  I’m the kind of artist where I get the script, I read it, absorb it, but of course there will be little nuances and I always tell a writer I work with, ‘Do you mind if I call you because I want to get your thoughts.  When you say this person walks into the room upset… Buffy walks into the room upset, that could mean a lot.  Could be upset that she just had a hangnail, or she didn’t get her nails done, or upset that she got really bad news.’  I would usually talk to my writers and ask, ‘What is the context of this?  How upset?  What is their body language?’  I guess that is the actor in me who is coming in and saying, ‘Well, what are they doing that gets them to that point?’ Obviously, if you’re upset, you’re standing in a different way, or you’re looking in a different way.  Your posture is definitely different.  That was one of the things I would talk to Joss about.  There was one time where he was writing a script and he was a little late and I was like, ‘When do you think it’s going to get done?   The editor is on my back because I have to draw it and it takes a whole lot longer to draw. ‘  And he said, ‘Yeah, the only problem I am having with this script is that I don’t know what I am trying to say.’  And that is when it solidified to me that Joss works on theme.  Like the theme of loss or redemption; anything you can put in a theme.  That’s where he says, ‘This is my theme and I am going to try to structure the episode around that theme.  Everybody is going to be affected in some way by that theme.  They may not be the central focus of that theme, but they are going to be affected.’  That to me makes really good story telling because you’re combining everything. Especially in television, since it is a serialized drama, it keeps going on and on, all you really have are themes because there has to be that arc, and usually for that episode, you know that there is something they went through.  That is the biggest thing he taught me, indirectly, just reading his work and listening to the man talk.

HC: If you could draw any scene from a Whedonverse show, what scene would you draw?

GJ: Well, why would I do that?  I will counter that statement, actually.  I did have a conversation with Joss just about this.  I will tell you there is a scene that I would have loved to have drawn that never made it on television but should have.  When we were doing season 8, I hate to give myself credit for this, but I am the Buffy fans, best friend because I was going to bat. When Buffy slept with another woman, I was like, ‘Nuh-Uh! She’s not going to sleep with another woman.  I’m not going to draw that.  You need to justify that to me before I can do that.’  When Giles died, “Nuh-Uh! Giles isn’t dead because I’m not going to draw it.  You have to justify that to me first.’  So I was really going to bat.  I went to Joss at some point and said, ‘Dude, you’ve got Spike coming in season 8.  That’s great, we are finally getting the gang back together.’  But I was like, ‘Joss, you realize, if you think about it, Buffy doesn’t know Spike is alive.  Because he became alive in Angel obviously and there was never that scene where it’s like, ‘Oh my God’ [referring to Buffy].  He [Joss] was like, ‘Yeah but the fans are really…’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, the fans want to know that stuff.  That’s the stuff that they love.’  He said, ‘No, they can probably assume that Andrew told them’ because of “The Girl in Question” in Angel, they both go and see Andrew. ‘They can just assume Buffy found out from him. ‘  I said, ‘It’s a little bit of a cop out, I gotta tell ya.’  In my mind, over the years, I wonder what that scene would be like.  The writer in me, doing Buffy for so many years at that point, I was creating that scene so I could justify it when they did get together and of course subsequently have all these conversations.  In my mind, that is what I feel happened in continuity, although it never actually showed up.

HC: Do you have time to read comics, and if so which ones are you currently reading?

GJ: Yes.  I hate to say this because it probably makes me a bigger geek than I am, but I’m at the comic shop every Wednesday, looking and seeing what’s out.  I’m reading The Uncanny X-Men that Brian Bendis and Stuart Immomen are doing.  And the Miracleman reprints, the Alan Moore stuff.  Comics today are a very different animal, and very rightly so because of the movies.  Now, limited series is a thing.  A continuity book is virtually non-existent, and reading this has really restored my faith in what comics could do because while Alan Moore isn’t reinventing the wheel with his stories that he did back in the ‘80’s, it’s obvious that he is taking the story telling medium, and these were a bunch of 8 page stories that he did that were collected eventually, and with these 8 pages he is just telling the story as it is progressing, but every 8 pages is doing it in a different way.  It is so entertaining.  Miracleman is sort of a British knockoff of Shazam.  Even in that, he plays with that factor, and it is just so good.  I cannot recommend it enough.  Anyone who wants to be a comic writer ought to be reading those Miracleman comics because he is just doing great storytelling.

HC: You drew Buffy for season 8 and 9, will you be making a return in season 10?

GJ: That is a very interesting question.  Well, I did Serenity, which was sort of always the plan.  Yeah, personally feel that Buffy was the girl I came to dance with.  I certainly don’t want to abandon her.  If they ask me back for something, whatever it is, probably not as long as I did before, but I would come back for something special.

HC: Since Serenity will be ending soon, do you know what your work will be in the future?

GJ: I personally finished Serenity a few months ago, because of course you have to do it ahead so they can print it.  But, I’m working on The Future’s End for DC right now, which is their big 52 book, a whole year, every week.  I am doing what I can; I pretty much do a book a month.  So, I’ve done an issue and I’ve got an issue waiting for me, so I will for the foreseeable future be doing that.  And there is some talk of maybe doing some Wonder Woman stuff down the line.  Who knows?  It’s just hearsay right now.  So, we will see!