Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tarzan A to Z | Zorro

Kill All Monsters at SpringCon

As I mentioned yesterday, my next convention appearance will be at SpringCon in Saint Paul/Minneapolis. That's always a fun, creator-focused show with lots of opportunity for fans to interact with legendary talent from the Golden Age to today. This year's group includes people like Howard Chaykin, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Phil Hester, Dan Jurgens, Ryan Kelly, Pablo Marcos, Ron Marz, Amy Reeder, and Trina Robbins.

There are also lots of great, not-as-legendary creators from the thriving local scene, which is where I come in. I'll be there with some copies of Kill All Monsters and some great prints that Jason made of the book's wraparound cover. Mark your calendar!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Tarzan A to Z | Yeates

[Make sure to visit the Thomas Yeates gallery at Tarzan.org]

Back from C2E2

C2E2 was amazing. It was great to hang out with Jason in person for the the first time in a few years. It never feels like it's been that long, because a) we talk quite a bit online, and b) that's just the kind of friendship we have. It's a similar deal with artist/RPG-creator Grant Gould. I've been going to conventions and rooming with Grant for almost a decade now and he's as nice as he is talented. It's always great to visit with him and catch up.

Also got caught up with a lot of other folks, met some new friends, and got to put faces to names of some other online pals. I'm fearful of starting a list for fear of leaving anyone out, but C2E2 is always like a big family reunion for me and this year was no different.

Kill All Monsters did extremely well at the show. We almost sold out of our supply, but still have several for SpringCon next month. I'm a little concerned about selling out early at SpringCon, but we'll see how that goes.

To clarify: these were a small run of print-on-demand copies that we printed just to have at conventions a little ahead of the official, retail edition. The official version will be printed on an offset press in large quantities for shipment to stores and Kickstarter backers. In terms of content, the two editions are identical and neither are marked to make one more special than the other. The only difference will be a slight upgrade in print quality on the offset version. The POD version looks great, but the offset version should look even better. The only advantage to the POD is getting to hold it in your hands a little sooner.

Let me know if you have any questions about any of this. We're not trying to pull a fast one on anyone and want everyone to have access to exactly what they want as quickly as we can get it to them.

We talked to a couple of retailers at C2E2 and were pleased to hear that it's not just our local shops that are ordering the book. We also had a lot of readers stop by to tell us that either they'd already backed us on Kickstarter or had heard about KAM online. Even people who didn't buy a copy right then were very complimentary and it was just a really pleasant experience meeting so many comics fans. I'm usually running around covering panels and talking to publishers and creators during C2E2, so it was a change getting to sit still and just meet readers for three days. I enjoyed the heck out of it.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Tarzan A to Z | Weissmuller

I'm at C2E2!

Just a reminder that Jason Copland and I are at table M6 in Artist Alley all weekend at C2E2 with copies of Kill All Monsters. Come say hi!

Multi-taskers hate cephalopods

I feel bad about posting an entire Wondermark strip, so please go enjoy lots more where that came from. Incidentally, my wife will happily tell you that she is the woman this strip is about, so we bought a print of it that's hanging proudly in our foyer.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tarzan A to Z | Van Dien

Tarzan 101 | Tarzan Triumphant

Celebrating Tarzan's 101st anniversary by walking through Scott Tracy Griffin's Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration.

Edgar Rice Burroughs was experimenting in hyperlink stories long before movies like Pulp Fiction, Magnolia, and Love Actually made them popular. In Tarzan the Triumphant (originally titled Tarzan and the Raiders and then The Triumph of Tarzan; no relation to the Weissmuller film Tarzan Triumphs), Burroughs follows several different characters who start out on separate adventures, but ultimately converge in the jungles of Africa. There's an Amelia Earhart-like aviatrix, a young gangster on the run from the Chicago mob, a Soviet assassin seeking revenge on Tarzan for his actions in Tarzan the Invincible, a hapless geologist, a deserter from the Italian army, and a big game hunter from England. All of these stories intersect with a lost tribe descended from a deranged disciple of the apostle Paul.

It's a lot going on, with barely enough room for Tarzan who flits from story to story rescuing the good characters when needed and interfering with the bad ones.

Griffin's supplemental chapter for this story is about tales of lost races, starting with H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines and talking about why the genre became so popular as Western cultures began filling in the blank spots on their maps. Burroughs was obviously in love with the idea and included lost civilizations in all but five of the Tarzan novels. The trend continued into the Tarzan films and even exists in more recent work like Michael Crichton's Congo and the Dinotopia series.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tarzan A to Z | Ungawa!

Tarzan 101 | Tarzan the Invincible

Celebrating Tarzan's 101st anniversary by walking through Scott Tracy Griffin's Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration.

Burroughs went political again (like in the anti-German Tarzan the Untamed) for Tarzan the Invincible. This time the villains are an international gang of communists from the Soviet Union, Mexico, and East India. They're taking advantage of Tarzan's still being away in Pellucidar (from the preceding novel, Tarzan at the Earth's Core) to pillage Opar in order to fund their revolutions. Fortunately, Tarzan doesn't spend the entire novel absent, but the question is whether he'll arrive in time to figure out what's going on and stop the commies.

Burroughs was a devout capitalist anyway, but his feelings on communism were likely also fueled by Soviet disrespect for copyright. Griffin notes that Russian bootlegs of Burroughs' work robbed the author of an estimated million dollars. The story's focus on economic ideology makes it appropriate that starting with this book, the Tarzan series was self-published by Burroughs. They were already wildly popular books by then, but it was still a bit of a gamble and Burroughs was warned that the economy of the early '30s wouldn't support the endeavor. It did though, and - boosted by the release of MGM's Tarzan the Ape Man starring Johnny Weissmuller - the book made a profit. Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. stayed the publisher of Burroughs novels until 1948.

Invincible is the last appearance of Opar and Queen La in Burroughs' novels. A lot has happened since their previous appearance in Tarzan and the Golden Lion, so in addition to saving La from the communists, Tarzan also has to help her regain power from the rival priest and priestess who've overthrown her and taken control of the city.

Griffin's supplemental chapter for Invincible is on Opar, tracing Burroughs' influences for it and its appearances in the novels and on screen. The city owes a lot to H. Rider Haggard, starting with its beautiful and mercurial (and white) Queen La, who's so similar to Ayesha from Haggard's She. The city itself was likely named after the Biblical Ophir, a place of great wealth in Africa that was the source of many of King Solomon's riches (1 Kings 9:28; 10:11, among others). The African origins of Solomon's wealth was of course also the basis for Haggard's most famous novel, King Solomon's Mines.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tarzan A to Z | Tarzan (duh!)

More love for Kill All Monsters

A couple of the biggest supporters of Kill All Monsters are James Biggie and Frankie B. Washington, creators of the amazing, kaiju-themed webcomic Robot God Akamatsu. You may remember the awesome print James created for us (which is one of the Kickstarter reward levels, just sayin') and be forgiven for thinking that he's the artist on RGA. As talented a visual artist as he is though, James actually writes the webcomic and Frankie draws it. And now Frankie's done his own, stunning version of what an RGA/KAM crossover (A-KAM-atsu!) would look like. Check out RGA and also be sure to like their Facebook page, a one-stop shop for keeping up with giant monsters and robots news.

Since I mentioned the Kickstarter, the quick update is that as I'm writing this we just passed $6,000.  That's so far beyond my initial hopes for the campaign that I can't even remember them. A few people have been nice enough to mention the Kickstarter, including Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter, the folks behind the Outré anthology, and Crimson Engine, so thanks to all of those people.

There've also been some more reviews, starting with my Robot 6 compadre Corey Blake talking about KAM in our What Are You Reading? feature. "After the novelty buzz of the concept wears off," he writes, "you're actually left with a world and people that you want to spend time with and learn more about. There's some mystery, some intrigue, some questioned motives, some social commentary, all lightly peppered throughout to keep the story chugging along even while the oversized slugfest takes a break."

My pal Siskoid at the indispensable Siskoid's Blog of Geekery also had an advance look at KAM and praises the team's diversity (something very important to me) as well as Jason's loose style. "The material (robots) might have called for very technical drawings, but Copland's work has a sketchiness to it that trades technical accuracy for energy, which I think is really the way to go." Jason had been wanting to loosen up his style for a while and debated about whether or not Kill All Monsters was the time to do that, but I totally agree with him and Siskoid about its being perfect for this series. It gives everything a grittiness that makes the world real.

The last review was from David Goodman at Geekadelphia. He wasn't familiar with KAM until he heard about it on Twitter, so it's fun to hear from someone who's coming at it totally new. "Yes, a few pages in I had distinct visions of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and wasn’t sure what I had gotten into. But once I really got into the tale May and Copland were telling, you realize that Kill All Monsters is science fiction storytelling at it’s best. You have robots the size of buildings beating the snot out of giant monsters in what’s left of Paris, while at the same time you get to experience a very human story of survival. Add in a conspiracy theory or two, some tensions among the pilots and dynamic art that is just a joy to look at and you have a prime example of why webcomics are so great."

Thanks to Corey, Siskoid, and David for the very nice comments!

Finally, a couple of interviews: Russ Burlingame from ComicBook.Com interviewed Jason about the comic, Kickstarter, Jason's influences...lots of stuff. It's a great, comprehensive interview and I even learned some new things about Jason myself.

And I got to talk to my friend and colleague Tim O'Shea for his "Talking Comics with Tim" column at Robot 6. Everyone at Robot 6 feels weird when we talk about Kill All Monsters - and no one more than me - so it's especially nice of Tim to go for it anyway. Check it out; Tim always asks fun and interesting  questions.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Tarzan A to Z | Sheeta

Kill All Monsters at C2E2

Jason and I will be at C2E2 this year and we'd love it if you'd come see us if you're there too. The table's in Jason's name (M6 in Artist Alley), but I'll be there all weekend too. We'll have some print-on-demand copies of Kill All Monsters, Volume 1: Ruins of Paris to sell and I'm sure some other things for you to look at, but mostly we'd just like to meet you and say "hi."

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