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MoA&A Interview #28: Benjamin P. Fisher

Hello, everyone! Welcome to July, and the Month of Artist and Author Interviews here on the website.

It’s only fitting after posting Emily Whitten’s big announcement about her project with Benjamin P. Fisher that I spotlight an interview WITH BENJAMIN P. FISHER, right? And so the universe remains at peace.

Emily turned me on to Ben’s Splitsville with her review on ComicMix — a book about a superhero who is also his own villain? Just about the awesomest case of schizophrenia ever. If you live in Comic Book Land. And you’re not that guy.

Ben’s a pretty awesome guys too…of course, after we met at HeroesCon and I picked up Splitsville, I completely forgot to get a picture of us, for which I’m still kicking myself. But that’s okay. There will be other conventions. And more great projects.

Take it away, Ben!

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Author or Artist?
Author. I’m genuinely the worst artist in the world. My most painstakingly crafted drawings are indistinguishable from hamster droppings.

Who are your professional role models?
Brian Bendis, Warren Ellis, and Peter David are why I started writing comics in the first place. Obviously Gaiman was (and is) brilliant, and anything Hickman writes is automatically added to my pull list.

What’s your favorite writing/sketching weather?
It depends on the book, I suppose. When I’m writing something dark, rain certainly helps set the mood.

Set your current playlist/musical device to “shuffle all” and hit PLAY. What’s the first song that comes up?
“Forever Your Girl” by Paula Abd— I mean, “Stinkfist” by Tool. Yes. Yes, that’s what I meant.

If you could win any award, which would it be?
Is there an award for having the most awesome collection of Masters of the Universe Hot Wheels?

Would you rather have magical powers, or a spaceship?
Spaceship. In my head, everything I say is in the voice of Captain Mal Reynolds anyway.

What was your favorite book as a child?
There was an beautifully illustrated book I adored as a child called The Rainbow Goblins by Ul De Rico. If you haven’t seen it, you really, really, really should.

What thing do you wish you could go back in time and tell your 10-year-old self?
That the statement “Why is Apple making an mp3 player? That’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard.” will come back to haunt you.

What’s your favorite constellation?
Orion. Three stars for the belt, and everything else is up to the imagination. Now THAT I can draw.

What’s your favorite fairy tale?
Red Riding Hood. The sexual tension of that particular story is pretty spectacular.

What thing are you most proud of?
I already mentioned my He-Man Hot Wheels, right? In all seriousness, I’m very, very proud of how Splitsville came out – it was my first attempt to do both a superhero-type story and also a graphic novel-sized comedy book. I’m thrilled with the results. I’m also working on a (top secret!) joint project with another author, Emily Whitten, and the world-building we’ve accomplished thus far has been exponentially more detailed and epic than anything I’ve ever worked on previously. I’m incredibly excited about it.

The Colin Harvey Memorial Question: Name 3 things on your List of Things to Do Before You Die.
Arm wrestle Felicia Day.
See Stephen King’s Dark Tower as an HBO series
Write Deadpool, Moon Knight or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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Ben Fisher is the author of several comics and graphic novels, including “Hexen Hammers” and the Eagle-nominated “Smuggling Spirits.”  The first issue of his three-part series “Splitsville” – following a superhero whose arch-nemesis is his own split-personality — is set to be released in hard cover this fall.

You can find Ben online at: http://www.ben-fisher.com/

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MoA&A Interview #27: Emily Whitten

Hello, everyone! Welcome to July, and the Month of Artist and Author Interviews here on the website.

Today’s interview features he gorgeous and glittery Emily Whitten. (And no, if you read yesterday’s interview with Jeremy Whitley, I am NOT going in Alphabetical order. It just seems that way.)

I met Emily at Nebula Weekend last year, after she accepted the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult SF on behalf of Terry Pratchett. There was this beautiful blonde girl, walking up on stage, and I thought, “Man, it’s a shame I don’t know her. I really probably should.”

Fast forward to a large circular table at a post-Nebula Italian lunch, with a bunch of friends…and I’m suddenly sitting right next to the pretty blonde girl. I think it was awkward for about 3.5 seconds, before we realized we both loved comics and fantasy and Neil Gaiman and music and…and…and I started taking notes.

Emily writes a column for ComicMix and a comic called Ask Deadpool— if you’re into comics at all, you should read her!

But first, read this.

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Author or Artist?
Author; although I do also like to dabble in tiny sculpture, which might count as Art? [Yes! ~A]

Who are your professional role models?
There are a lot of pros I admire in the creative fields, and if I were to list all of them we’d be here all day; but it probably won’t surprise anyone who knows me to know that Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman are high on the list of living authors I admire. Both have an incredible ability to not only write amazing things, but to constantly keep on writing new and different amazing things, all while juggling the demands of being a super-successful writer. I admire Terry’s sharp wit and uncanny knack for seeing into the heart of humanity and conveying his insights to us through his characters. And I’m jealous of the way he looks so amazingly right in the black hat, because I look silly in hats. I admire Neil’s flexibility in producing consistently quality work in numerous creative mediums. And I’m jealous of The Hair, which truly deserves its own capitals. If it ever met Dylan Moran’s hair, I suspect there’d be a hair fight, and I’d pay to see it.

Another author I admire is Gail Simone. She writes great quirkily funny dialogue and interesting stories, and created some awesome comics characters. And as a woman, I certainly admire her for paving the way with the success of her website, columns, and comics writing for other women looking to be successful in comics. For whatever reasons, comics creating is still heavily skewed towards the male demographic, and some people seem to think that women aren’t as good at creating comics. I’d definitely hold Gail Simone and her work up as an example of why that’s just silly. Also I love her red hair.

What’s your favorite writing/sketching weather?
I really like stormy weather if I’m inside. I live 9 stories up with big plate glass windows and a view, and I kind of enjoy being inside writing away while nature’s going crazy just outside. Also the lightning looks amazing from up there.

But I like sunny days too, so I guess I’m not super-particular.

Set your current playlist/musical device to “shuffle all” and hit PLAY. What’s the first song that comes up?
Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s – A Light on a Hill

Hey! Bonus points because most of the band is from Indiana and one of them went to my alma mater.

If you could win any award, which would it be?
One with a giant money prize attached. Hah! Honestly, I’d be thrilled to win anything. Yay, awards!

Would you rather have magical powers, or a spaceship?
Magical powers, for sure. Humanity can and has built spaceships, but as far as I know, you can’t build magical powers. Plus, then I could be cool like Doctor Strange.

What was your favorite book as a child?
OH SO MANY. You are talking to a woman who can walk while texting today because in school, I used to walk the halls with my nose in a book (and I never ran into anyone!). But I’d have to go with Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. It works on several levels, which is something I’m always drawn to. The satire and humor is great, and it also got me interested in King Arthur legends, which led me to other Arthur books by T.H. White, Mary Stewart, Stephen R. Lawhead, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and more. I never get tired of that book.

What thing do you wish you could go back in time and tell your 10-year-old self?
I have to pick one thing?? Huh. I’d probably tell Me about the economy crash, so I could have been better prepared.

Wow, what a downer I am.

What’s your favorite constellation?
I like the Big Dipper because it’s so easy to find, and I can always look up and see it wherever I am. Also you can find Regulus and Arcturus through it (and of course Polaris) and I like those names. I mostly like stars and constellations because of their names. I like Orion because I like the name (and Betelgeuse and Bellatrix, both stars which are part of the constellation). Also it points to Castor & Pollux, which I love from the use of those names in The Once and Future King. And in nerdy things, I also like Orion because of how it was used in the TV show Chuck (Spoiler? Has anyone not seen Chuck? Don’t read this bit.) Orion was the code name Chuck’s dad chose as he tried to help his son and find out what had happened to his wife. It was appropriate because he was technically hunting his wife (but not in a bad way). And also I love Scott Bakula, who played Chuck’s dad, so that makes me even more fond of the name.

What’s your favorite fairy tale?
You ask me all the hard questions. Do I really have to choose?? Fine. The Ugly Duckling.

What thing are you most proud of?
I’m pretty happy that I helped make two Discworld conventions happen in the U.S. I’m sure there’s some other stuff, too.

The Colin Harvey Memorial Question: Name 3 things on your List of Things to Do Before You Die.
1.) Finish drafting the first few issues of the super-fun comics series I’m working on with Ben Fisher, and start getting that published. We’ve already come up with an epically massive and comprehensive backstory, a great cast of adorably awesome characters, and several complex story arcs, and plan to launch a Kickstarter soon so that we can publish without losing the rights to a fantastically fun story. [I, personally, can’t wait for this! ~Alethea]
2.) Have a family. With at least one kiddie, because I love kids; and also a great big Great Pyrenees sheepdog.
3.) Go traveling overseas again, possibly to Italy.

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Emily S. Whitten has written articles and webcomics for MTV Splash Page, Reelzchannel.com, the Tonner Doll Company blog, and other publications. You can read many of her comics here: http://askdeadpool.wordpress.com/comics/ By day, she is an attorney and a freelance writer. By night, she amuses herself by writing and tweeting (unofficially) as Deadpool. She is a member of The National Press Club, and a co-founder and organizer of The North American Discworld Convention for bestselling author Sir Terry Pratchett. She also has a tiny hamster named Izzy (a.k.a. Ysabell Sto Hamsterlet) who is secretly a superheroine.

She is currently working with fellow comics writer Ben Fisher (author of Splitsville, Hexen Hammers, and Smuggling Spirits), on an epically complex new comics series that pairs post-apocalyptic problems and furry cuteness, and hopes to be able to say more about it some day very soon.

Stay tuned for Ben’s interview…here, tomorrow!

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A Match Made in Heaven

I’ve been neck-deep in novel edits these past few weeks, so I missed the day that Comic Buzz posted about Marvel’s new Emma comic, debuting on 3/2/11.

Marvel is pleased to present your first look at Emma #1 from New York Times best-selling writer Nancy Butler (Sense & Sensibility) and rising star artist Janet K. Lee (Return of the Dapper Men)! This March, delve into the world of nineteenth century courtship courtesy of a Rita Award-winning author and the illustrator whose work Newsarama.com calls “truly breathtaking.” Local matchmaker Emma Woodhouse can make anyone the perfect pair – provided she can stop the men folk from falling for her first! Find out how one upstanding young woman comes to find herself stuck in a love triangle as big as an English village, only in Emma #1!

I made a screen shot of one of the images to give you a feel for what’s in store..I think .Janet’s gorgeous artwork totally complements the book and gives a great feel for Austen’s work. I will absolutely be in the comic shop that day to pick up issue number one. I’m glad I don’t have to wait much longer!

Click through to see more luscious artwork from Emma #1:

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Genre Chick Interview: Barry Lyga

FGB and I went to the Baltimore ComicCon this summer. I have to say I was kind of disappointed — it seems that some of my favorite authors and artists, both in hard copy and on the web, were guests last year. This year, the only person I *really* wanted to see was Barry Lyga.

I jokingly sent Barry a Tweet to let him know I’d be around. To my surprise, he replied and told me he’d be wearing a green shirt–feel free to track him down. Well, good thing FGB had met him before to spot him (plus, FGB is Very Tall). I was looking for green as in “Lantern;” the muted olive Barry wore was nothing of the sort. *sigh* Men.

Once I located Barry I hung around politely until he and some pals from the Good Old Days paused for breath, and then I burst in like any good Fangirl does to have a chat. I’m so glad I did. It made the trip completely worthwhile.

Barry’s a great guy — not only did he give me a book to take back for Kassidy and Ariell, he sent me a signed copy to give away for free right here on my website. That’s right, folks, the Genre Chick is back with a bonus! Leave me a comment on this post telling me who your favorite comic superhero or villain is! Post by October 17, and you will be entered to win your very own signed ARC of Archvillain.

Archvillain is a fabulous book, by the way — Kyle Camden’s adventures are a lot of fun, and a quick read. Be sure to give it to your kids…but not before you get dibs on reading it first. That’s what I did. In return, I let Ariell ask Barry a few questions of her own. And given certain requirements and existing parameters, it appears very likely that Barry will be coming to live with us in the near future…

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Princess Alethea: Kyle’s mom is horrible in the kitchen. Are you a good cook?

Barry Lyga: Not at all! The results of my culinary skills are best described as, “Usually edible, won’t kill you (probably).”

Princess: What kind of kid were you in high school? Did you have an archnemesis?

Barry: I was a total and complete geek in high school, with all that entails. My first book — The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl — is pretty close to autobiographical. I didn’t have a single specific archnemesis, but there was a group of three or four guys who just seemed to delight in making my life miserable.

I’m happy to report that — as best I can tell — none of them ever accomplished anything more than making me miserable in high school. 🙂

Princess: What were your favorite comics to read in high school?

Barry: My absolute favorite comic book was LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES, hands down. A veritable army of teenaged superheroes, fighting crime and protecting the universe in the 30th century. What’s there NOT to love about that?

Princess: Who are your top 5 heroes?

Barry: Oh, boy. I assume you mean heroes of the caped variety, not people like Gandhi, right? Let’s see…

1) Superboy (he just seemed a little more relatable than Superman — plus he palled around with the Legion)

2) The Flash (his name is Barry!)

3) Ferro Lad (sacrificed his life to save the solar system — what a mensch)

4) Supergirl (all the powers of Superman, but with a different perspective)

5) Wildfire (dude gets turned into deadly anti-energy and exists only as a cloud of the stuff given form by a special protective suit — power, pathos, tragedy, all in one character)

Princess: Top 5 villains?

Barry:

1) Tharok (half-man, half-machine, all evil!)

2) Nemesis Kid (super-power: He can defeat any single opponent, no matter who it is)

3) Reverse-Flash (awesome variation on the Flash’s costume)

4) Lex Luthor (goes toe-to-toe with Superman, using only his brain)

5) Ultraman (evil Superman from a parallel universe)

Princess: Do you believe that all villains are not evil, just misunderstood?

Barry: God, no. Some of them are just pure evil. That’s actually the fun of writing Kyle for me — he’s completely NOT evil, but he’s the “bad guy” nonetheless. Of course, ALL villains believe that they are misunderstood, but there are some truly evil monsters out there. I don’t think Joker or Darkseid or the Red Skull or Dr. Doom are just “misunderstood,” after all.

Princess: Why do 95% of superheroes have girlfriends with red hair?

Barry: LOL! I’m not sure it’s that high a percentage, but it’s up there, isn’t it? I think it’s because most heroes are brunets or blonds, so the red hair makes the girlfriends stand out on a comic book page.

Either that, or comic book creators are obsessed with Charlie Brown’s little red-headed girl. 🙂

Princess: What’s next for Kyle?

Barry: In Book 2, Kyle meets another supervillain…and this one might be even SMARTER than Kyle! Is the town of Bouring big enough for both of their egos? Probably not…

Princess: What color is your iPod?

Barry: iPod? What is this iPod of which you speak? I have an iPhone. It is, sadly, black. (Where’s the white iPhone 4, Apple????) Oh, and now that I think of it, I do have a silver iPod shuffle, too.

Princess: What are your superpowers?

Barry: I can actually hear carbonation bubbles popping in a can of soda from across the room. Utterly useless, I agree.

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Ariell’s questions:

Ariell: Will you come live with me?

Barry: It depends — do you have awesome Thai food nearby? Is there a place for me to hook up my Xbox?

Ariell: Coke or Pepsi?

Barry: Pepsi, definitely! Especially on the diet side. Diet Pepsi is good stuff; diet Coke is swill.

Ariell: What’s Fanboy’s third thing?

Barry: Oh, that’s easy; it’s —

Hey, wait a second! Nice try. Nope. Not telling. If Fanboy doesn’t want anyone to know, I’m gonna respect his wishes.

Ariell: Will there be another book in the Fanboy & Goth Girl series?

Barry: Well… Maybe. I truly don’t know. I don’t have any plans for one, but then again, I didn’t think I was going to write Goth Girl Rising, either. So you never know. But don’t hold your breath. Even if it does happen, it’ll be a few years away.

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In stores now:
The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl
Goth Girl Rising
Hero-Type
Boy Toy
Wolverine: Worst Day Ever
Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd

Free Fiction:
“Her Decade”

Follow Barry on Twitter

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New Comics

In the last run to the comics shop, I caught up with The Guild (they’re up to issue 3, guilty pleasure) and the run of IDW’s graphic novelization of Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn. You’d think I probably had enough The Last Unicorn stuff (I’d probably own more merchandise if Hot Topic licensed it), but I just enjoyed the film so much as a kid — and I think it’s truly stood the test of time. (Barring the soundtrack by America, which I’ve come to understand you must be grandfathered in to appreciate.)

I am VERY impressed with the artwork for The Last Unicorn, both inside and out. (You know the drill, sometimes they get Alex Ross to do the cover and the rest of the book I could have sketched with my toes…or not.) It’s reminiscent of the Rankin & Bass production…so much so that it even LOOKS like you’re watching an enhanced versions of the film. (Because the comic’s art blows the film’s art away.)  I can hear Mia Farrow’ voice as the unicorn’s soliloquy, because the unicorn LOOKS JUST LIKE the unicorn from the film.

Is that sort of thing allowed? I wonder if they had to get some sort of permission or something to make the images exactly the same. I mean, it must have been on purpose, right? I have to say, I’m actually quite surprised. I would have been fine with — even welcomed – a new, different image of the unicorn. There have been so many over the centuries…what’s one more?

Perhaps Amalthea really is the last. But this Princess refuses to believe it.

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Princess Alethea’s Magical Elixir

Princess Alethea’s new reviews are now up at Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show! This month I discuss:

Title: The Girl Who Chased the Moon
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
EAN: 9780553807219

I fell in love with Sarah Addison Allen over a crotchety old woman and an apple tree. The woman was named Evanelle, and if she knocked on your door to hand you a thimble at 2 a.m. it was because you needed it . . . or would need it in the near future. The apple tree’s fruit showed the eater the best moment of his or her life, regardless of whether or not that moment had already come to pass. The book was called Garden Spells, and I was a fan for life… (read more)

Title: Absolute Death
Author: Neil Gaiman
EAN: 9781401224639

I’m overstepping my bounds a bit on this one and toeing into my friend and fellow sideshow freak Spencer Ellsworth’s demesne, but when a Miracle Pictograph is oversized, slipcased, bound with fancy artwork, and put on sale for just shy of a Ben Franklin to hardcore collectors, it’s slightly more than just your average graphic novel… (read more)

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Lora Innes Interview @ Fantasy Magazine

I got a copy of THE DREAMER graphic novel from IDW and immediately fell in love (Click on the banner above — you can check it all out online!). So much so that I contacted Lora Innes — the comic’s dynamic and fabulously talented writer/illustrator — to see if I could do an interview with her. She said yes.

And then Cat over at Fantasy Magazine mentioned that she’d like to be the one to run it. So I said yes.
We’re all such a bunch of affable people.
Hey — wanna read it?
(You don’t even have to say "yes." Just click right here.)

Happy Friday!

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Reasons I Don’t Date #244

But I do own a big, bright orange tape measure.

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The True Power of my Monkey Underwear

I heart Stephan Pastis.

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A Rat a Day Keeps the Perky People Away

Pearls Before Swine PLUSH FIGURES. SQUEEE!!! I’ve seen them first hand. They look really, really nice.  I am a huge PBS fan. I interviewed creator Stephan Pastis for the Genre Chicks a while back. Completely fell in love with the man.You should too.

You can get Zebra, Croc, Pig, and Rat for only about $6 apiece, and shipping’s pretty decent…especially if you’re getting all four, like me. And Tracy. And Jenny.


Come on. How can you resist that face?

One of my favorite strips (aka: Why Lee is Going To Hell):

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