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Steampunk Comics: 8 A Steampunk Anthology

September 16th, 2011 by Theresa

Steampunk Comics: 8 A Steampunk Anthology

An Interview with Samuel E. Kirkman Jr.

By Theresa Breaux, Chief Canadian Correspondent

My name is Theresa.  I am a graphic novel junkie.  There, I said it and I’m not ashamed.  When my editor asked me to interview Samuel E. Kirkman Jr., a collaborator for “8 A Steampunk Anthology,” I jumped up and down and did my happy dance. Thankfully, my editor was spared the full sight of it.

So I loaded up the trailer, right?  Oh my gears and garters, was it awesome! As I watched the pages go by, I had a great deal more questions than “What is Steampunk” for Samuel. Looking at what he helped to create gave me an idea. There was more than a display of graphic talent at stake here, and I had to know the full story.

Doctor Fantastique’s: What were the challenges you faced with getting the artists on board?

At left: From Carsten Bradley’s” Tamerlane Waller.” Detective Waller’s last victory over his enemy Galbraith was easy – too easy… Photo courtesy Samuel E. Kirkman Jr.

Samuel E. Kirkman Jr.: Finding them for one. This was from the inception an Illopond project. At the end of our Kids anthology (Editor’s Note: 8 A Kid’s Book Anthology) we were batting around ideas for another. I knew that I could get some who were on that first anthology to participate and three of us did. We put calls out on twitter about it. Got several interested parties to respond, and in the end we had five new contributing members to the Illopond on this book. A few didn’t get what we were about. I think they misconstrued our efforts as a sort of spec work. It is in a sense speculative, speculative on finding work in the creative field for ourselves, not for profit really. The new mantra these days in creative circles has been “The new portfolio is a finished project.” and so we as a group have takes this to heart and run with it. But finding talented people with the time to devote to such a project is very challenging.

DF: Did working with Illopond Creative Collective make things easier?

SK: The Illopond was indispensable. It would never have come into being without the pond. Ben Powis, (http://benpowis.net), a contributing member on the first Anthology project 8 A Kids Book Anthology is our beloved host. He has provided the site and maintains the forums so we can continue to do this crazy thing we’re doing. We owe Ben so much. HUGE thank you to Ben and “We love you man!”

DF: Why the number 8?

SK: 8 ended up being the number of contributors on the first anthology. Originally Chris Tupa (http://Ctupa.com), who headed up that book, had envisioned around 12 participating artists. Out of I believe 50 that he originally contacted, 8 ended up being on the team. 8 author/artists, 8 pages each, that was to be our brand. We continued with that in the Steampunk anthology.

 

Images at right from “The Public Good” by Samuel E. Kirkman Jr.  Many things are done “for the public good” without looking deeper. Photos courtesy Samuel E. Kirkman Jr.

DF: How long did it take you to put together the anthology?

SK: We got started in late summer to fall of 2010 with a deadline for mid February, premiering the book at Wondercon in April. Life got in the way of a few of our contributors and so we extended the deadline. All worked out, and the books arrived from the printer the very day I left for San Francisco. Talk about a close one! So our original goal of a Wondercon premiere actually happened.

DF:  Can you give us a bit of history for each of your artists?

SK: As I mentioned, three of us, Lee Wiley (http://wileyillustration.com), Mark Harmon (http://markharmon.com), and myself (http://samkirkman.blogspot.com), had contributed to the first Illopond project. Joining us for the SP anthology were Warren Belfield (http://warrenbelfield.com), Carsten Bradley (http://slumberground.com), Clint Sutton (http://clintsuttonart.com), Paul Caggegi (http://pandeia.com), and Zach Bosteel
(http://zachbosteel.com). One of the things that blows me away still about what we are doing is the international, worldwide locals of our contributing creators. Paul hails from Sydney Australia, Clint is from South Africa, Ben is from Edinburgh, Scotland, the rest of us are from coast to coast with points in between. It is simply amazing how the internet allows for such a far flung collaboration. In spite of the various time zones we were able to record and post a couple of podcast chit chats. Paul Caggegi is the host of The Process Diary, (http://processdiary.com) and was so gracious to us. Chris Oatley, host of Chris Oatley’s Artcast podcast, featured the group with regards to our first effort. So there is a lot about all of us out there.

At left:  From Paul Caggegi’s “Data Point.” A novel of the future that is more lonely  and hopeful than you can imagine. Photo courtesy Samuel E. Kirkman Jr.

 

DF: You say that in this book there is something for everyone. Do you feel the same for the graphic novel fan who isn’t in to Steampunk?

SK: If you love Comics of any sort, you’ll love our anthologies. It was important to me that each author/artist brings their own interpretation to the Steampunk theme. I became enamored with it at my first Convention experience at Wondercon 2009. I had never heard of Steampunk until then. While some Steampunk purists might find some of our stories a bit reaching on the subject, I think most would agree that a welcoming spirit to such interpretations to be far better than an exclusivist mentality.

At any rate, our anthology runs from deep and brooding to light hearted and comic. So yes! I think there is something in it for everyone, with no prior knowledge of Steampunk needed to enjoy.

DF:  What feedback have you gotten so far?

SK: John Lees of John Lees Comics (Johnleescomics.wordpress.com) gave us some wonderful feed back in his review, and some very appreciated praise. And the esteemed Dr Q of the Steampunk Chronicle (http://steampunkchronicle.com) posted a welcomed review. The book sold well at Wondercon and we have seen a few sales through indyplanet.com. We posted a PDF version at The Illustrated Section (http://www.theillustratedsection.com) for sale in digital format. So far we have received mostly favorable feedback. All of which is greatly appreciated. Even the thoughts that sting a little for us give us much needed impetus to improve as a group and as individual artists.

DF: How has the feedback you’ve gotten changed your perspective on the work you’ve done?

SK: With every creative endeavor, you’re not sure how it will be viewed once it’s out there. You’re kind of in the dark. As the creator it’s your baby. You want it to grow up and be successful. You have to think it is good in order to make it so. When confirmation comes from people who have taken the time to read it and they have enjoyed it, it makes it all worthwhile. Each of us have become involved with these projects with the thought of growing personally as artists, as well as professionally. None of us really expected it to be a money making venture, although it would be wonderful if it could become a self sustaining endeavor. I think the audience gets something really special in an independently produced property like our anthologies. This is work that comes straight from the heart of its creators. There is no bottom line anywhere that is worried about so as to have our visions diluted by some non creative entity. Our work stands on its own or it doesn’t. It is made successful by the folks who enjoy it, or it disappears into the aether. Either way, we are going to keep on doing it.

 

At right: Cover of  Warren Belfield’s “Decisive Moments” where a young man learns the true way of war. Photo courtesy Samuel E. Kirman Jr.

 

DF:  Is there another volume in the works? Any other projects?

SK: As a matter of fact there is! We are planning to release a second Steampunk themed anthology for APE this year in October. Currently another group on the Illopond headed by Denver Wagner (http://denverwagner.com) is working on a second kids anthology entitled BOO! A Spooky Anthology to be premiered at APE as well. you can sneak a peek at what’s going on on both by checking out the project threads over at illopond.com.

DF: What author/artist could you have put in if you had the space?

SK: I got really excited when a big name in the Comics industry expressed interest in joining us. An Eisner award winning cover artist, but I’m afraid I must have gotten a bit too fanboyish. I think it ran him off, but I would love to see some from the mainstream break loose and come swim with us over at the pond. I’ve got someone in mind now that I hope to entice. I really don’t want to give too much away, so keep on the lookout. I hope to have some big news soon.

DF:  Anything you would have done differently?

At left:  From Mark Harmon’s “Pest Control.” The first day of a new job never goes easy! Photo courtesy Samuel E. Kirkman Jr.

 

SK: I think the most important thing that we learned as a group from the reviews that we have received is the benefit we gain by sharing our processes and progress over at the pond. Those who posted their work for critique, and posted often, fared much better than those who disappeared from the forum and went at it on their own. We all as individual artists have much to share and much to learn. The Illopond is a place where we can do just that! By the way, we need others to get involved. There is a standing welcome to all creative types, and to anyone with an interest in the process to become a member of the Illopond and share in this creative experience. Come on! Jump in! The water’s fine!

I was right. This anthology is more than just a graphic novel collection. It is more than a creative project for greatly talented artists from all over the world. In addition to giving a wondrous show if Steampunk through the artist’s eyes, the anthology is a call to all creative types. The means are there for you to get out there and create. Join in on a splendid adventure!


Originally appeared on  Doctor Fantastique’s Show of Wonders

Enter Title Here ( editor’s note: rewrite title )

September 2nd, 2011 by Theresa

This is it. This is the big blog post where I quote one of the greatest writers in the world. The one! The Only!

No.. Hmmm that’s not it. Let’s try that again.

This is it. This is the big blog post where I quote one of the greatest writers in the world. The one! The Only!

This is it. This is where I vowed not to sully name of  the super fantastic writer and best selling author….

Nah. The flow is off there. Hmm… Let me take another stab at it…

This is it. This is where I vowed not to sully name of  the super fantastic writer and best selling author….

Christina Dodd, one of the many authors I look up to, said something interesting on her Facebook account back in April.

How do I get my ideas?

 

As a budding author, I’m sure most of you can see why this one stuck with me. I know that I’m in Ira Glass’s Gap right now.  I’ve got great ideas… but right now I’m not doing so well in getting them on the page. Add in the great words of Christina and I’ve got the winning combination: Strip my ideas, synopsis, outlines, and horrible horrible first drafts down to the basics. Write it again, ahem, correctly. Above all? Keep going.

It’s gonna get better folks.

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