ROGUE ELEMENT 103

Rogue Element #103: The Big Move


By Avril Brown

I’ll be moving in a few days, and this one is a doozy. Not the distance, mind you; I’m literally moving across the street and three doors down to a building owned by my current leasing company. I’m moving in with my boyfriend, which is certainly an occasion of note as I’ve never taken such a significant step in a relationship before, but given that we’ve essentially been living together in my smallish studio for the past couple of months the drama of the occasion is diluted by the mutual desire for more space. What is truly big about this little move is the sheer amount of shit there is to be transported.

I am a pack rat. There is no denying this fact, nor is there any hope of exorcising this trait from my personality. I like my stuff, and I believe I keep my cravings for commodities within reasonable limits. I may be alone in that particular belief, but as long A&E’s ‘Hoarders’ withholds their invitation to guest star on their show, I think I’m good.

Siphoning through and throwing out/giving away items is not my strong suit, but I’ve been giving it a concentrated effort and the Brown Elephant resale shop has been the lucky recipient of several bags o’ swag. My comic books, however, are an entirely different creature. The last time I moved was three years ago, and with the help of a couple friends, careful planning and a shit ton of schlepping back and forth I had a successful move. That was then. This is now, and my comic collection has swelled.

Currently in my possession are seven long boxes, four short and a couple bags of comics I picked up from my boyfriend and his brother’s old collection, and almost every single storage container is filled to the gills. What does that mean weight-wise? If I had to guess a number I’d estimate there are two hundred and fifty pounds of comic books in my studio. In other words, if you had a disc in your back that was debating whether or not it wanted to become herniated, moving my comic collection will make up its mind in a jiffy.

Are professional movers involved in this venture, you may ask? In the words of the mighty Thor: I say thee nay! Setting aside the fees included in hiring a service, I honestly think they would laugh a little. “Um, so you want us to load up a truck with your personal belongings…and drive it fifty feet? Sure dumbass-I mean, lady! We’ll take your money!” Therefore it is up to my boyfriend and I, plus a couple of select friends, to tackle this seemingly Sisyphean task.

The tricky thing about collecting comics is there never comes a time when I can purge my stash the way I can with other items, such as knickknacks or old papers. I bought these books because I want to read them, likely re-read them in the future, and keep them in good order so I and my future progeny can enjoy them for years to come. They are a type of investment; not for monetary gain, mind you, as the odds of any of my books becoming “valuable” are astronomically low. I like to think of it as a happiness investment. My books (most of them, at any rate) make me happy. I enjoy the stories and how the art makes the characters come alive, and though it may be years between readings, I like knowing whenever I start jonesing for a cute Rogue and Gambit moment, I can simple mosey on over to my ever-increasing stack of long boxes, pop the lid and find my adventure.

Yes, moving my comics is going to be a pain in my soon-to-be-strained ass, but I will endure. Like getting a tattoo, I accept the temporary pain because the permanent pleasure in the result makes it all worthwhile. Next year, however, as I cast my little eye over my burgeoning collection, I may consider calling the movers. Or at least buy myself a back belt.

NEW IMAGE GNS

NEW IMAGE GNS
Written and Drawn by Various
Published by Image Comics


Reviewed by Marc Mason

Interesting new stuff from Image…

I was highly uninterested when the plans were announced to resurrect the old “Extreme” line of books. To say that I was never a fan of any of them would be understating it a bit. But to my surprise, a couple of these returns have been highly enjoyable. I’ve praised GLORY here previously, but for my money, PROPHET vol.1 represents the one can’t miss book in the line.

Writer/artist Brandon Graham teams with a talented group of other writer artists (Simon Roy, Farel Dalrymple, Giannis Milonogiannis) to produce an absolutely astounding work of science fiction. Putting the old book completely behind it, we move to a far-flung future where John Prophet awakens on a destroyed Earth and must make his way through a bizarre, highly imaginative wasteland in order to send out a signal to revive the Earth Empire from the dead. Trying to describe what happens along the way – and after – would spoil some of the most creative comics done in the sci-fi genre in a very long time. If you’re looking for something completely different than anything else on the shelves, this book is it.

Speaking of highly creative, if you head to the other end of the comics spectrum, you’ll find THE RED DIARY/THE RE[A]D DIARY by artist Teddy Kristiansen and writer Steven T. Seagle. THE RED DIARY was originally published in France, but when it came time to present it to North American audiences, things went in two directions. Before the original was translated into English, Seagle “remixed” the book, taking Kristiansen’s art, picking up a few words here and there that meant the same thing in any language (and names) and made his own story: THE RE[A]D DIARY. Only after that was complete did the original book get translated into English, THE RED DIARY. Thus this oversized hardcover that is also a flipbook: read one, turn the book over and read the other. Same art, different story entirely. It’s certainly unique, and definitely a book that readers with a more refined palate will want to check out. Kristiansen’s art is gorgeous, and the production design here is first rate. What are the stories about? War, sadness, art… these themes pervade both stories. But any more would spoil the treat within.

I’ve been a fan of Jim Mahfood for a long time, and no question, LOS ANGELES INK STAINS Vol.1 is easily the most substantial collection of his work to date. Mahfood has been doing autobio comics for a long time, and he’s always been a compelling protagonist in his own work, but LAIS shows him taking his work to the next level. His storytelling is more complex, his art is more dynamic than ever, and he cements himself as the king of modern underground commix with this book. There’s also a richer sense of character here, as Mahfood himself has matured and mellowed along with the growth that is on display in his output. I appreciated seeing his work printed on larger pages and thicker paper, allowing his strong sense of detail to really come through. Excellent stuff.



SIEGEL-LARSON

NEW HIGH-PROFILE GNs
SAILOR TWAIN written and drawn by Mark Siegel
A WRINKLE IN TIME written by Madeline L’Engle, adapted and drawn by Hope Larson


Reviewed by Marc Mason

Two massive new hardcovers, both high-profile fall events arriving on shelves in early October, have crossed my desk recently. Let’s take a look at them.

SAILOR TWAIN (First Second) takes us back to late 19th century New York, as we explore the life of a steamer captain on the Hudson River. Twain is a good man, if a bit pent up, and he runs a solid ship despite the presence of the ship’s carousing owner, a Frenchman with a taste for the ladies and the works of a controversial author. One day, Twain’s life is turned upside down when he finds an honest-to-God mermaid floating along the water’s surface, and he sneaks her into his cabin and begins nursing her back to health. As their relationship grows, though, life onboard the ship begins to subtly change, and a sense of growing unease builds, leading to a fascinating and unique series of events that will alter the destiny of every single person (and mermaid) in the book.

Mark Siegel’s work here is astonishing. The book is drawn entirely in charcoal, giving the pages a depth and texture that engages the reader’s senses. The characters have a unique look, and there’s a subtle touch to the storytelling that gently carries you through the story. Each person you meet in the story feels fully formed; you can sense their back story, and it builds up your investment in this impressive 400pg beast. This book is a complete winner from start to finish.

But wait, there’s more! A WRINKLE IN TIME (Farrar, Straus Giroux), the classic novel by Madeline L’Engle, gets its first ever illustrated adaptation fifty years after it was originally published. Writer/artist Hope Larson does the duty, and she delivers a grand slam. Using L’Engle’s text faithfully, she creates recognizable characters and keeps to the plot, all the while stimulating the imagination and exciting the reader. The story itself remains the same: young Meg Murry, her brother Charles Wallace, and her friend Calvin O’Keefe all find themselves transported across space and time to a terrible planet named Camazotz in an attempt to rescue Meg’s father who is being held prisoner there. Pain, anguish, and maturing follow.

Pretty much everything here just works: the pacing is terrific; the story is presented in a way that fans or people who have never read the novel will both accept; Larson doesn’t try and overpower the material with her own style. The graphics and the text exist to service the story, period. A slipshod version of this material could have been done, but Larson takes her time and allows the work to breathe. This hardcover runs 400pgs, and Larson has filled every corner of it with fitting tribute to this classic novel. Something tells me this will be a coveted stocking stuffer this holiday season.


NEW NBM

NEW NBM
Written and Drawn by Various
Published by NBM


Reviewed by Marc Mason

Three newbies from my former employer, including one of the more anticipated books of the fall season…

…Which would be LOVERS’ LANE, the latest Treasury of XXth Century Murder by the great writer/artist Rick Geary. This time around, the master of historic mayhem tackles the case of a Reverend and his lover (both married to others) who were shot and sliced in New Brunswick, New Jersey in the autumn of 1922. It was a delicious scandal: cheating spouses, jealous townspeople, crazy relatives, incompetent police, unreliable witnesses… if it happened today, it would still be tabloid fodder for months. Geary takes you through the entire tale in zesty detail, from the building relationship between the two victims, to the cuckolded spouses and their (sort of) alibis, to witnesses looking for fame and fortune of their own, to false arrests… all in weaving a picture of a murder that ninety years later remains unsolved. Still, that’s what makes these books so great. Geary’s impeccable research helps him lay out the facts in ways that police and prosecutors never quite could, and he allows you, the reading jury, to come to conclusions of your own. It makes for gripping reading, and once you start, you can’t put it down. LOVERS’ LANE is another instant classic from a creator who does this better than anyone ever has. Highly recommended.

Writer/artist Margreet de Heer takes one of the world’s most ponderous and tedious subjects – philosophy – and breathes real life into it with PHILOSOPHY: A DISCOVERY IN COMICS. To say I went into this book feeling hesitant would be an understatement; a graphic novel explaining the history of philosophy? Sounded like the perfect cure for insomnia. But I was completely and utterly wrong; this book combines simple and elegant visuals with a linear explanation of the topic to create a work that pumps energy and intrigue into the topic. Whether it’s biographical information about the great philosophers or a comprehensible explanation of their works that conveys what they were about in modern language, everything here just works. I was completely impressed by how good this book is, and it is most definitely a keeper.

The one real problem I had with TAXES, THE TEA PARTY, AND THOSE REVOLTING REBELS is the completely stupid title of the book. By emphasizing those words instead of the subtitle (“A History in Comics of the American Revolution”) it panders to the far-right wing of the modern Republican party and acts as a turnoff to moderates or progressives who might otherwise be interested in the contents of the book. And that’s a damned shame, because the contents of the book are really quite good; writer/artist Stan Mack offers up a terrific, well-researched look at the events that formed this country, and the men who put those events into motion. These days, history is barely presented as more than a soundbyte. Kids might know that Washington crossed the Delaware, but do they know why? Mack explains the circumstances perfectly. This happens quite a bit in the book, making it educational as well as entertaining. Terrific stuff.



ROGUE ELEMENT 102

Rogue Element #102: Choices and Changes

By Avril Brown

Last year around this time I wrote a column discussing Wizard World Chicago 2011 and what a blast I had, as per usual. I’ve been attending Comic Cons for about five years now, and ever since I first walked into the Rosemont Convention Center and breathed deep of comic-centric goodness, I have been back for more every single summer.

Not this year.

August has turned into a decidedly busy month for me, what with a trip to visit my college gal pals out east, plus a family reunion, and a move to a new apartment to top it all off. In the months previous as the chips started to fall, and time off and monies to be spent began to be sorted, I realized certain choices had to be made. With any choice you do not want to make there come sacrifices, and this year I sacrificed Wizard World Chicago.

There were several contributing factors to this decision, including missing the deadline to apply for a press badge which means I would have to pay for tickets, and the fact I always work on Saturdays means I have to utilize vacation time in order to attend more than one day of the three and half day long Con. Since most of my time off currently accrued was spread between friends, family and the upcoming move, there was no feasible way to explain to the Powers That Be at my workplace that I have to be absent almost every single Saturday in August so I can dress up and buy comics.

I feel the absence of my summer Con most acutely, and I wish very much I could have been there. San Diego is almost of legend for me; the one time I was able to attend it was a fortune of circumstance as the sheer expense involved makes the largest Comic Con in the world an elusive beast for a poor peasant such as I. Wizard World Chicago, however, is an El ride away and filled with local flavor and oodles of familiar faces, and has always been a given in my schedule.

I missed the cosplay, of which there was an abundance of new costumes to ooh and aah over judging by the pictures. I missed strolling through Artist’s Alley and shooting the shit with some of my favorite comic people. I missed the jibes exchanged with fellow discount trade hunters, each of us with our own unique shopping lists and recommendations for ‘must read’ series. I missed the freakishly expensive hotel bar, teeming with a blend of characters still in character, out of town talent receiving drinks from adoring fans, and those of us willing to overpay for beer simply to hang with friends and take in the show. I missed it all.

However, the weekend was not spent holed up in my little cave, counting pennies, bemoaning my lack of fortune and wishing for a normal Monday through Friday work week. Instead, I was able to attend events that otherwise would have been lost to me had I been at the Con. My good friend Candice knows I am a comic addict and was surprised when I said I was free to try and catch the Bears first preseason game this past Thursday, knowing it was the first night of the Chicago Con. She surprised me even more by presenting tickets to see the game in person at Soldier Field. I was over the freaking moon. I haven’t been to the Bears stomping ground since I was a wee tot and I barely remember it, but this game will forever be burned into my brain and memory chip. Talk about your overpriced food and drink, but good LORD what an experience! The view was outstanding, the field and stadium are gorgeous, our team sucked balls and my fellow Bears lover and I cheered them on to the bitter end. Truly a once in a lifetime experience.

This past Saturday evening was spent in the company of my boyfriend’s siblings and their respective friends, as August is their birthday month. Now these cats know how to throw a party and they hosted a might fine birthday shindig, complete with plenty of delicious food and drink, a magnificent crew of people and a raucous round of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. You don’t find that kind of gaming in the Hyatt bar.

Sunday morning brought an event I was both looking forward to and dreading. My boyfriend is a physical fitness fiend and has been doing some form of this event every year for thirteen years. Jesse calls it the ‘Temple Burning,’ and it is a grueling, several hour work out that pushes you until you drop. The idea is to see what exactly you have in you; how long and how hard you can burn. Running, hill sprints, kettlebells, push ups, pull ups, core work; you name it, we worked it. There was a large crew this year and though we are all at different levels of fitness, we all dove in and conquered what we could. Every square inch of my body hurts, and though I bitch and moan frequently, I also feel good. I know what I have in me, and she is one badass chick.

Choices lead to changes, and while the later is not always good, neither is it always bad. Sometimes you have to take a hit of each and see where the trip takes you, for one never knows what lies ahead. I chose not to attend Wizard World Chicago 2012 and it led to unexpected changes. While this does not mean I plan on missing out on any more Chicago Cons if I can help it, I’m also comforted by the fact that missing a Con does not mean I’m not doing something just as fun and fantastical. I have found I can be adaptable to change, which gives me more confidence in my choices.

DRAMA

DRAMA
Written and Drawn by Raina Telgemeier
Published by Scholastic


Reviewed by Marc Mason

Anyone who’s ever been involved with the theatre knows that the real drama takes place backstage. Whether it’s love triangles (or quadrangles), personality conflicts, budget issues, or the impacts of self-discovery, it all plays a role in how the finished product looks on the stage, and that’s certainly true in Raina Telgemeier’s DRAMA.

Easily one of the best graphic novels of the year, DRAMA focuses on the trials and tribulations of a young woman named Callie who definitely has theatre in her blood. When her middle school decides to put on a production of Moon Over Mississippi her inability to sing keeps her from performing; however, she makes her presence felt on the stage by handling set design, including an ambitious plan to fire a “cannon” during the show. However, plenty of obstacles stand in her way, not the least of which is a pair of very cute twin boys who share her love of theatre. But Callie is spirited, and no matter how much the pressures of a young life weigh on her, she knows one thing for certain: the show must go on.

I’ve been a fan of Raina Telgemeier’s work for a long time, and the reasons why are on display here in abundance. Her art is eye-catching and her storytelling is smooth and effortless. But most importantly, the characters in DRAMA are real characters; they don’t just exist to serve a plot. You know these kids. You went to school with these kids. You were one of these kids. Their passion, their confusion, their heartbreak… these things are recognizable. DRAMA is cute and charming, but it is also filled with truthful moments, and you’ll spend a lot of time flashing back to your own life during these formative years. This is the essential difference between an excellent work like DRAMA and the television show GLEE, which abdicated any pretension of reality early on. This book is what that show wishes it could be but lacks the writing quality and narrative cohesion that Telgemeier brings to her work.

DRAMA is a book that works for ten-year olds and it works for fifty-year olds, another quality common to the author’s other works. No doubt about it, this book will make my year-end top ten list. It gets my highest possible recommendation.

MADEFIRE

Sometimes the good stuff comes out of nowhere. When I agreed to take a look at a new iPad comics app during my time at SDCC, I expected to get a dull technical explanation and five minutes of p.r. speak from a flack in a suit. Instead, I saw the most amazing comics app I’ve ever seen – MADEFIRE – and was pointed towards a chair… whereupon comics giants Liam Sharp and Dave Gibbons joined me for a conversation about their role in creating and using this amazing “motion book” software. It was an incredibly pleasant surprise all around.


Thanks to Brooke Unverfurth for her invaluable transcription help.

MM: This is Marc Mason and I am here in the Comics Waiting Room with Dave Gibbons and Liam Sharp. Good morning guys.


DG:
Hey.

LS: Good morning.

MM: We are here today to talk about Madefire, which I’ve just had demonstrated to me and I don’t even quite know how I would describe it, because it’s an utterly different application for comics online. How would you guys describe it?


LS:
Well we’re definitely not sort of thinking about it as a comic, particularly. I think, we’ve got it as a “motion book” at the moment, it uses words and it’s a reading experience, so it’s still words, it’s still pictures, but we, I guess, we’re really thinking about doing something that’s native to the platform that we’re using, which is the iPad at the moment, rather than thinking about it in the paper term. So that’s kind of…

DG: I mean, to me, it seems very much a new medium, because you’ve got your roots in comics, but the possibilities are opened up by today’s technology. You can do things you couldn’t do in regular comics while still maintaining what Liam just mentioned as being a reading experience. It isn’t an animation, it isn’t a thing that you expect. It’s still an immersive reading experience that you have to put some work into.

MM: Yeah, you used the term “motion book” and we’ve had the term motion comic before, but this is well above and beyond anything we’ve seen in a motion comic. Where did this come from? Where did this start from?


LS:
It really started with me – the co-founder Ben Wolstenholme, who has got a background in branding and has done some amazing things with technology in that medium space. And I guess, because I’ve done a bit of publishing myself, we had MamTor™ Publishing, I was aware how difficult it is to get new material out there in the print media. Everything is becoming a lot more boutique these days, so it’s like an opportunity with digital space to get material out to as wide an audience as possible. Once we started looking at the digital side, and talking about that, the iPhone started coming out – then then the iPad came out, and everything about possibilities shifted quite a bit, so we started thinking, “Well, what can this do?” We can have live lettering in here. We can have links. We can have stuff that is more like a story cloud and it doesn’t have to be linear in the same way that it was. I started thinking, well, the iPad is smarter than a piece of paper. Let’s see what it’s capable of. Let’s evolve that. We were introduced to Eugene Malden who is the tech founder and he really sort of brought a whole new level to it as well.

DG: I actually have some experience with motion comics because when the Watchmen movie was out, they came up with the idea of turning the Watchmen into a motion comic. And I was a bit reticent about it at first. What really made me think it was a good idea was I showed it to my two, as it were then, teenaged stepdaughters who didn’t read comics or anything, but when they saw the motion comic, they went “Wow! This is really cool!! How can we see more of this?” And it was an interesting experiment to do that motion comic, which was basically taking the original print issues and cutting them up and animating them, to see what worked and what didn’t. And the people who did it were really experts and put a lot of hard work into it, but we could see once it was done what worked and what didn’t. And the thing we’ve learned from that, with the Madefire thing, and we’re actually building on that, because what we’re witnessing, and what we’re a part of as well, is the evolution of a new medium, and that is thrilling to me, you know I’ve always loved comics, but I’ve always loved technology. I’ve been an early adopter of the iPad, the Mac to do artwork on, and it’s really interesting to be at the crossroads of two passions of mine and see how one can inform the other and we can come up with something that I think is new.

MM: I would agree with that. I think one of the things that they showed me was a page in one of the stories where I could do a 360 view of the entire scene. And I’m curious because both of you are very accomplished artists, how you would approach doing this sort of thing from the creative side, because you’re not just doing flat panels anymore, you know, 4/6/9 panel grid, you’re having to adapt your style of art and thinking to what this can do. Is that difficult? How do you do it?


LS:
That’s actually my favorite thing so far. Last year when I came over for a few months, I’ve just moved over four months ago now, but when I came over and we initially got funded, one of the things we were talking about in an early meeting was like, we were sort of going through all the things – the wish list of what could be possible, and I just got a little app on my phone that you could take a 360 degree photograph, and then swipe it and look at everything you’ve just taken. You could go back to England and sort of look at a whole panorama of the scene that you’ve been in America. And it’s a pretty powerful thing. I just said to the guys, what if we could do this with a comic? You could pretty much be inside a comic page, which is… crazy… as a concept. So it seemed like a pipe dream, and then Eugene turned up one day and said, actually guys we can do it, I’ve figured it out. And that was just the real moment. And actually the process isn’t so bad. You have to create a landscape piece of art, the equivalent of four pages of the iPad page. And you drop it into one tool which creates the six sides of the view, as if you are on the inside, and it leaves a hole in the top and the bottom. You take it back and fill those holes in, and then you chop each piece up into a square, and then you drop it into a template with a tool that we’ve made. Which sounds complicated, but it’s actually, once you’ve done it a couple of times, which I have now, it all makes sense and it’s just really exciting. The possibilities of that are really exciting. Steve Niles has got some ideas about doing a story which is all of those, so each page is one of them and might be the inside of a haunted house or something like that, so every time you come back into the room, something’s changed and you have to move it around to find out what’s different.

DG: Yeah, I mean I think from an artistic point of view, and as Liam says, if you describe it, it sounds kind of complicated. It’s nothing like it’s complicated action to do, and of course Madefire also has got a tool which enables artists to assemble these things and it’s a really, nice clean piece of software. Which means if you have a reasonable technical grasp, as I think inevitably most artists nowadays have, because we all use Photoshop and stuff, if you can think of it, it’s really amazing to do to do with this tool. What it actually does, it extends your range. Because before, in comics, if you really wanted to do something that would blow people’s minds, the biggest you could go would be like a double page spread, or if you’re Jim Steranko, six double page spreads. You can cut out the comic, and assemble and put your head inside. You can now do that on this tool. So ok, you can now go beyond the double page spread. And the feeling it gives me, we were talking about this earlier, is what the iPad becomes when you’ve got this tool on there. It’s actually like a window that you can look through, and look through anything you like in a way that the comic relays the panel to the brain, a static picture behind, this is a frame, but there’s a moving world behind, and that’s a tremendous development that anyone could do before.

MM: It’s extraordinary, and I honestly came into this thinking to myself, oh, it’s another app, but I’ve never seen anything like it, and it definitely made me interested in seeing more of it and seeing what it can do, so you guys definitely hooked me in.


LS:
Excellent.

DG: Good.

LS: I mean, one thing that is really key to it is we really care about the works of the pictures and we want it to be a reading experience. We don’t want any of the stuff that it does to be a gimmick. It has to service a story, it has to have a point and a reason for it. Because we’re kind of too old and long in the tooth to be messing around with bells and whistles if it’s not going to service the story, you know? It’s a bit like, to some extent, the silent film era, and then they made talkies. I think we’re in that pioneering stage of things and it seems a shame not to kind of run with it and see what could happen. I think the talent we’ve got is capable of exploiting that.

DG: I think the other thing that I really really like about it, and it’s something I’ve always liked about comics, is an artist can get their idea out there in a very pure form, you don’t have to compromise, it’s not like when you wanna make a movie, there’s only so much money that is going to be invested, so many people involved, it inevitably becomes watered down. With Madefire, you can come up with your story, your pictures, you can get it directly to the reader and potentially to many many many readers. And that, as an artist, it’s the pinnacle of what you want, it’s the ability to get your undiluted vision to as many people as possible.

MM: Absolutely. Gentlemen, thank you for your time today.


LS:
Thank you very much.

DG: Cheers!

JEFFREY KAUFMAN

Want a little controversy? Turn your eyes toward Jeffrey Kaufman. The indy comics writer/publisher who spends his days as an officer of the court has returned to the shelves with a new graphic novel provocatively titled WHORE. Why tempt fate and turning off retailers with the title? I asked him back at SDCC, and here’s what he had to say:


MM: This is Marc Mason in the Comics Waiting Room and I am here today with writer Jeffrey Kaufman. Jeffrey, hello.

JK: How are you doing, Marc?

MM: Good! Provocatively, you are standing in front of a large banner that says, “WHORE.”

JK: Yeah. You know, other than some parents wanting to kick me in the face, I feel pretty good about it. I feel pretty good. And women slapping their husbands. That’s my favorite too.

MM: Understandable. Now the book is actually not about a female who turns to the sex trade, it’s about a dude, correct?

JK: Yes. It’s about Jacob Mars. He’s a guy who does anything for money. He’s downsized from the CIA, owes about $100,000 in alimony and bills and has to take whatever job his handler can get him.

MM: Now what was the decision like to leave the word “Man” off the front of Whore?

JK: I think the idea, you know, when I think of “manwhore”, I think of it, it’s like a joke. One thing Mars isn’t. You know, he’s got to do these things. He might find some amusement in it, but you know, it’s about the check to him.

MM: So the decision was to play it more straight, then?

JK: Everybody wanted me to use a different title. Because half the stores aren’t going to carry this.
I said, but that’s who Mars is. And you know, I can be stuck in my ways in certain things and not care, but Mars is a whore. He knows he’s a whore and that’s the best way to describe him. I’m not going to change it.

MM: Now we were just chatting a second ago and you were talking about how you reached this point with the graphic novel. You started out writing pamphlet floppies and you had an interesting go of it, correct?

JK: Yeah, I did thirty-one single issue books as my own publisher and working with other companies and I just got beaten like a baby seal. I had to walk away for six months and when I finally got the opportunity to come back, I wanted to just write full stories. So I wrote the first story of Terminal Alice where I killed eighty-two people, and they had two sex scenes, one in a coffin. Well the only way to follow that up is with something worse. And the only guy I could think about was Jacob Mars. I mean Mars is a truly, true – I mean, his moral compass hasn’t pointed north since the ‘90s. So… it’s fun to write for a guy who has no accountability.

MM: What interests me about what you just said is you went through those thirty-one issues and you took a beating…how did you not just throw up your hands and quit?

JK: I’m an idiot. I’m a fan boy. I’m an idiot. I don’t…having a dream is a difficult thing. And knowing when to quit is for much smarter people than me. I just couldn’t look at myself until I’d given every little bit that I had and I still have it, so…I keep going forward.

MM: So you’re feeling good these days and you’re still working forward and going for it….are you thinking about what’s next for you?

JK: Well, this book came out. We have two other graphic novels following, Angel Fall and then Wildwood. It feels good. It feels good knowing what you’re doing, you learn from everything. Learning from failure is the key. And when I see something weak in a book, I don’t repeat it. When I used to act a certain way…I also produce these books. So being the art director and forcing things to happen instead of just sitting by, you know, there’s a responsibility. You have to treat this like a business. And if you don’t, you know, your failure is your fault, and your fault alone.

MM: Sound advice indeed. Jeffrey Kaufman, thanks for talking with us today.

JK: Hey, it’s always a pleasure.

Thanks to Brooke Unverfurth for her invaluable transcription assistance!

MUMBAI CONFIDENTIAL

Mumbai Confidential #1-2
Written by Saurav Mohapatra and Illustrated by Vivek Shinde
Published by Archaia Entertainment


Reviewed by Avril Brown

A brand new comic from the company producing MOUSE GUARD and other amazingly unique stories, MUMBAI CONFIDENTIAL makes quite the stunning splash in its introductory issues and should swiftly develop a loyal following. Inspired by actual events, the dark plot is threaded with hope and humor, the art is hauntingly beautiful and the seamless union of the two will ensure MUMBAI deserves the hype it will undoubtedly garner.

At some point in recent history, the city of Mumbai’s organized crime had spiraled out of control and there was little law enforcement and due process could accomplish in terms of stemming the tide, until the cops of Mumbai created a team of officers who were granted lethal sanction. Crime rates dropped dramatically, but soon after this seemingly effective change the cops who were hailed as heroes found themselves under scrutiny as evidence mounted that the reigns of the criminal underworld had simply shifted into their hands. MUMBAI CONFIDENTIAL is a fictional account of what was happening during that tumultuous period, and how it was happening to one man in particular.

Arjun Kadam is a man who has been through hell. Within the first two issues readers are teased with glimpses into the life of this complex character, and he has more than a few stories to tell. As a former cop of Mumbai he was one of the men eliminating the criminal element one bullet at a time, but as far as Kadam was concerned he was a murderer. As a widower he’s left with a gaping hole instead of a heart, and very little to live for. As an addict, he struggles daily with his demons. As a new comic book character, he is gold; the kind of beat-up, weathered, anti-hero readers want to root for every step of the way on out of the hole he’s found himself in, knowing the journey is going to be an unforgettable bitch of a trip.

Mohapatra is writing an intense, powerful story here, and Shinde is painting each panel so perfectly it is almost if they are in each other’s heads. The unforgiving and brutal story material is tempered by Kadam’s smart-ass inner monologue, and the noir-style art has splashes of color and provides snapshots of raw emotion, making it impossible to look away, let alone not be affected by what is unfolding. With a creative team this hot and in sync, MUMBAI CONFIDENTIAL can only keep getting more remarkable from here on out, and with the first two issues being this impressive, that is saying a lot.