We’ve interviewed a lot of people from the world of comics, but with all due respect to our many talented guests, we’ve got nothing on Phil Amara. As a college radio show host, Phil interviewed the likes of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Moebius and many more, which further fueled his passion to break into comics. He ultimately did break in: as a writer, co-creating titles such as The Nevermen and Sky Ape, and also as an editor for Tundra, Kitchen Sink Comics and Dark Horse Comics, where he worked on such titles as Star Wars, Aliens, Planet of the Apes, Terminator, Madman and Predator: Kindred (Shameless Plug, Pt. 1).
In more recent days, Phil’s work has been geared toward a younger audience: not only is he the author of the books So You Want to be a Comic Book Artist? and The Treehouse Heroes and the Forgotten Beast (illustrated by Alina Chau), but he is also now a teacher in the Boston area.
We talked with Phil about the influence of comics on his boyhood in Boston, what comic book editors can learn from and teach to creators and why creating heroes kids can relate to was so important him.
Phil also attempts to help Jason put his “career” as a comic book writer into simple and plain perspective. Key word: “attempts”.
You can find Phil on Facebook and his books on Amazon. And if you wanted to, you can find Predator: Kindred on Amazon as well (Shameless Plug, Pt. 2).
When it comes to people that dig monkeys, there’s Jane Goodall, Fay Wray, Tarzan… and right up there among them is writer Chris Roberson, as we learned this episode. Chris’ work includes the novels Here, There & Everywhere, Set the Seas on Fire, The Dragon’s Nine Sons, and his work in comics includes his run on Superman, Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love, and iZombie, which he co-created with artist Mike Allred and has been adapted into a TV series debuting on the CW Network next year. In 2012, he and his wife Alison Baker co-founded Monkeybrain Comics, a digital comic publisher that is now home to over fifty titles, including the Eisner Award-winning Bandette (created by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover), the multiple Eisner Award-nominated High Crimes (created by Christopher Sebela and Ibrahim Moustafa) and his own title Edison Rex (illustrated by Dennis Culver).
Chris joined us to talk about how he grew up speaking “the native language of comics”, what’s great about Superman, not so great about DC and what inspired he and Alison to take comics to the next level with Monkeybrain.
Chris also shared with us how iZombie pulled his comics career off the ropes and vaulted him in the network TV arena.
As we’ve said before, our show affords us the pleasure of speaking with impressive people who create great art out of nothing… and in some cases, they create whole careers out of nothing. Just such a person is Randy Bowen, founder of Bowen Designs, a company that’s become the gold standard in the industry of collectible sculpture. For 30 years, Bowen Designs has created classic statues and busts based on characters from Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Disney, Star Wars, Aliens, Predator and more.
Randy joined us, along with his daughter Veronica, to talk about the influence comics, sci-fi and monster movies had on him as a kid, how he went from creating sculptures out of “garage kits” to become the best in his business, the collectible market and his interactions with famous folks such as Frank Frazetta and the cast of Seinfeld.
And to hear how Randy’s perspective on his achievements as an artist differs from Veronica’s was pretty cool. We’re also joined for a mercifully brief time by two other creepy kids that aren’t Randy’s.
The internet age has become plagued by negativity, snark and anger, but for rapper Adam WarRock, it’s all about the love. Using brilliantly crafted rhyme schemes as a vessel, Adam prosthelytizes about his love of comics, TV, movies, video games, and pop culture in some of the most energetic and fun hip-hop to be found on the independent music scene.
The wide range of topics Adam has created music about includes the X-Men, the Avengers, the Infinity Gauntlet, Game of Thrones, Downtown Abbey, Battlestar Galactica, Arrested Development, Frozen, Parks & Recreation, Booster Gold, Ira Glass, and much, much more. He’s garnered attention from outlets such as io9, WIRED, AV Club, Time, SPIN, among others, and he’s performed at giant events such as SXSW, PAX Prime and C2E2.
We talked with Adam (a long-ass time ago) about how hip-hop helped bring him out of his shell of nerdy insecurity, why he quit practicing law to pursue a music career, binge-watching, being labeled nerdcore and why it’s a great time in history to be a geek.
We also spoke with Adam about the nearly-impossible-to-resolve topic of rap and social responsibility.
Our previous attempt to talk with Emmy-nominated animator Vinton Heuck was wracked with so many technical difficulties, we actually had to bail in the middle of it. But Vinton is such a talented and all-around good guy, we knew had to give it another go. Fortunately for us, he agreed to oblige.
Vinton has worked on such animated series as Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, The Batman, Transformers Prime, Justice League: The New Frontier, King of the Hill, Ben 10, Young Justice, Planet Hulk and Ultimate Spider-Man. He’s also worked in comics, writing the Deadman story featured in DC’s Wednesday’s Comics (illustrated by Dave Bullock) and writing his own webcomic, the very difficult for Jason to pronounce Mabigon. (illustrated by Byron Penarand).
We talked with Vinton about his childhood growing up near the swamps of SE Portland, how he broke into comics, how he got the opportunity to direct animation and how cartoons are put together from start to finish.
(Please take a look at the evidence for yourself here.)
Karl and Jason should’ve known better than to slap together an episode at the last minute (for reasons you’ll soon hear), but it was extremely important to get writer Alison Hallett and artist Benjamin Dewey on the show ASAP to talk about why they decided to end it all. OK, “all” might be a bit of an exaggeration. In addition to being the arts editor of The Portland Mercury (as well as a writer for The Stranger, Wired, Slate, and The Magazine) Alison is co-founder of Comics Underground, the popular quarterly event that features some of Portland’s finest comic book creators performing live readings and telling the stories behind their work. After three years, Comics Underground is sadly coming to end.
Ben Dewey is also literally drawing to a close his beloved webcomic Tragedy upon reaching #500 in the run. Tragedy is a series of single-panel cartoons depicting the losses and hard lessons learned by people, animals and everyday objects from the Victorian era. Whether you find the captions hilarious or heartbreaking, witty or woeful, you will almost certainly agree that each entry in the Tragedy series a beautifully rendered piece of art.
Alison and Ben suffered through a devastatingly uncool number of technical difficulties long enough to tell us what inspired Comics Underground, what it takes to put the show together and Ben’s rules and process for creating Tragedy out of nothing.
We also talked with Alison and Ben about what they think makes Portland such a draw for creative people.
If you’re reading this on Thursday, June 12th, get your comic book-lovin’ ass down to the Jack London Bar (in the basement of the Rialto – 529 SW 4th Ave. in downtown Portland) before 8pm and listen to Ben, as well as Matt Fraction, Paul Tobin, Cat Farris and our former guests Joelle Jones and Jeff Parker tell their stories.
If you missed the show, and you’d like to learn more about Alison’s work, check out her website and follow her on Twitter @alisonhallett. To learn about the Tragedy series and more of Ben’s work, check out Tragedy tumblr and follow Ben on Twitter @benjamindewey.
It’s been pretty cool to watch Shane Torres’ star rise in recent days and the reason that’s happening are pretty clear; he’s one of the funniest and most unique voices in the Portland comedy scene. In fact, he was voted Portland’s Funniest Person in 2013.
Fresh off his appearances on NBC’s Last Comic Standing and the various iterations of Comedy Bang Bang (the IFC television show, the podcast and the live show here in Portland), Shane joined the program to talk about growing up in Texas, his travels with an epileptic dog, the comedy community in Portland and how his Twitter identity got straight gaffled.
There’s no Jason on this episode, but the co-hosting role is more than ably filled by Karl Show! favorite Raishawn Wickwire of the Black by Popular Demand podcast, with whom Shane appears to enjoy a complex friendship.
If you’re in Portland, you can and should see Shane perform at a number of venues around town, including the Hollywood Theatre where he co-hosts the Funny Over Everything show every month with former Karl Show! guest Sean Jordan, and at Helium Comedy Club this summer hosting the Portland’s Funniest Person contest.
Shane’s upcoming non-Portland dates include the Comedy Club on State in Madison, WI July 9th – 11th, Chicago’s Comedy Exposition Festival July 12th and Laughs in Kirkland, WA Labor Day Weekend.
Poor Julia Wertz. Not only did she have to suffer through the multitude of technical difficulties stemming from our first Google Hangout interview, she also had to stare at Jason’s ugly mug the whole time. In addition to being an extremely tolerant person, Julia is the creator of the autobiographical cartoon strip The Fart Party and the graphic memoirs Drinking at the Movies and The Infinite Wait and Other Stories.
Julia joined us to talk about her struggles with systemic lupus and alcoholism, her time with the Pizza Island cartoonist collective, what notoriety means and doesn’t mean to her and why she doesn’t have any regrets about giving Hollywood the stiff-arm.
Julia also shared why she took a sabbatical from comics to pursue her pastime of exploring abandoned buildings, which she writes about on her blog Adventure Bible School.
And he’s absolutely right; despite all the talk in this episode of kids’ early exposure to violence, mall shootings, colony collapse disorder and the U.S. government perpetuating war as a solution across the globe, Aron and his autobiographical comic strips Mr. Wolf and Big Plans are hysterical.
Not only is Aron a talented cartoonist (a Xeric grant recipient, in fact) and author of the children’s books The Super Crazy Cat Dance, The Super-Duper Dog Park and The Zoo Box (written by his wife Ariel Cohn), but he’s a teacher as well, and we’re certain he joined us to talk about some stuff that’s not depressing, like his background in animation, the inspiration he literally draws from his classroom and the effectiveness of comics as an educational tool. Unfortunately for him, Karl and Jason don’t play that, but Aron made the best of it, bless his heart.
For more on Aron and his work, check out his tumblr page, where he frequently posts new, and very, very funny Mr. Wolf strips.
We thought we understood going into this episode the reasons why writer/artist Donna Barr’s career in comics has lasted for nearly 30 years: her distinctive drawing style, her wholly original story concepts, her legion of loyal fans… But we wanted to hear it from her.
Donna is creator of the long-running series The Desert Peach, which chronicles the adventures Pfirsich Rommel, the fictional gay younger brother of Erwin “the Desert Fox” Rommel and Stinz, the taleof a society of centaur-like people in pre-industrial Germany (kind of). Her other works include Afterdead, Hader and the Colonel and Bosom Enemies.
Donna joined us to talk about why the musical version of The Desert Peach met and exceeded her measure of success, how women have blazed their own trail in the comic industry and why anybody can become an artist or writer if they really want to.
We knew writer/artist Mike Russell as a multi-talented and much respected member of Portland’s creative community, but we were pleased to discover something else about him in this episode: he’s one funky mother!
Mike is the creator of the cartoon strips Sabertooth Vampire, Mr. Do & Mr. Don’t and Culture Pulp, and is also a longtime journalist and film critic whose work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Willamette Week, Portland Mercury, The Oregonian and Ain’t It Cool News.
Mike joined us to talk about the influence of Charles Schulz and Chuck Jones on his work, his approach to interviewing celebrities, the concept of cluster economic theory and why Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut is a deeply misunderstood gem.
Mike also talked with us about his search for his birth parents and why he didn’t have to look very far from home to find them.
And you’re gonna want to see the video of Stevie Wonder performing “Superstition” on Sesame Street that Mike mentions during the show (unless, of course, you don’t enjoy things that are awesome) and because it didn’t originally play properly during the show, check out Bobby Roberts’ Geek Remixed track Fistful of Rupees here.