Chris Schweizer shares an unfinished ‘Crogan’s Escape’

The Crogan Adventures creator posts a PDF version of the fourth book to his Patreon, saying it’ll never be finished.

Chris Schweizer, creator of the Crogan Adventures series of graphic novels that were published by Oni Press, has shared an unfinished version of a planned fourth volume on his Patreon.

“It’s not finished, and it’s not going to be finished, but I thought that I would put together a digital book sharing what I have: a finished version of an unfinished book,” Schweizer wrote about Crogan’s Escape. “It’s got (almost) finished pages, pencils, roughs and synopses, enough to get a sense of the overall book, as well as a few design bits and an introduction to contextualize the whole thing.”

Crogan’s Escape would have followed Crogan’s Vengeance, Crogan’s March and Crogan’s Loyalty, which were published between 2008 and 2012. Each volume focused on a different member of the Crogan family tree — which is filled with pirates, legionnaires, gunfighters, private eyes, flying aces, lion tamers and more. The first volume starred “Catfoot” Crogan, a sailor turned pirate, while this unfinished fourth volume starred Daniel Crogan and is set in 1920s China.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Chris Schweizer

The ‘Mars Attacks’ and ‘Crogan Adventures’ creator discusses his latest book from First Second on how to fix your car.

Chris Schweizer has been making comics for years and remains best known to some for his series The Crogan Adventures, which was not just three graphic novels but six radio plays as well. He’s made a number of other comics and illustrations over the years including the art book 555 Character Drawings, he made the graphic novel The Creeps, and has worked on other comics projects including the recent Mars Attacks. He’s regularly posting illustrations and short comics on social media and his Patreon. His new book is Maker Comics: Fix a Car.

Part of the new Maker series from First Second books, it’s a departure for Schweizer, which we talked about. Not just an instructional manual, the book is the story of Ms. Gritt who is running a Car Club and teaching a cast of teenagers about car maintenance and repair, about how various parts of cars and trucks operate and offering valuable information. Schweizer is masterful at integrating both these elements together, crafting an ensemble story with large blocks of information, and I was thrilled to get to talk with him about the book, how he works and his many projects.

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Starks + Schweizer conspire to bring back ‘Mars Attacks!’

New series featuring the zany Martians from the 1960s trading card series begins in October at Dynamite.

Dynamite Entertainment and Topps have found a way to make me want to buy a Mars Attacks! comic — and their names are Kyle Starks and Chris Schweizer.

Starting this October, the duo — who are also best friends — will team up to revive the 1960s-trading-card-series-turned-1990s-feature-film, which, as the title implies, features Martians attacking Earth.

Mars Attacks! is coming back to comic stands and I’m thrilled to be a part of it,” said writer Kyle Starks. “I’ll be bringing my two-time Eisner nominated trademark humor and action to this totally awesome and classic franchise.”

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Chris Schweizer walks into Mordor with latest paper figure set

Download and print out Frodo, Gandalf, Sam and the rest of the Fellowship from J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic ‘Lord of the Rings,’ as imagined by Schweizer.

One of our favs, Chris Schweizer, is back with another papercraft set, this time featuring the iconic members of the fellowship who ventured out with Frodo to fight evil jewelry in J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic Lord of the Rings novels.

After a simple download, you can print, cut and then display Frodo, Gandalf, Boromir and the rest on a table or shelf of your choice.

“With this set, I wanted to get away from the iconography created by the Jackson films, as a reminder that any adaptation or illustrations of a book are just interpretations and the only true canonical version is the one in your head,” Schweizer said.

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Fund Me Friday: Zombie cop, gothic romance and more

Check out — and help fund — projects from Felipe Smith, Hope Nicholson, Chris Wisnia and more.

As crowdfunding continues to be a viable method for creators to fund their creative endeavors and connect directly with fans, comic-related projects flourish on sites like Kickstarter, Patreon and IndieGoGo. Here’s a look at a few recent campaigns that caught our eyes.

Death Metal Zombie Cop Issue #1

Creators involved: Felipe Smith
Deadline: Aug. 18
Goal: $22,000

What to know: Smith, who’s previous work includes All-New Ghost Rider for Marvel and Peepo Choo for Kodansha/Vertical, kickstarts his first creator-owned series. He says he’s been working on it for five years. The story revolves around two L.A. police officers, rookie Marco Miranda and his disillusioned training officer, Rhonda Riley. There’s also Death Metal Zombie Cop, “L.A.’s deadliest Urban Legend” who proves to be very real. Smith warns that the book will contain graphic violence and course language.

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Comics Lowdown: Analyzing gender representation of 34,476 comic characters

Plus: Calexit sells out, climate change comics, Adam West as the Dark Knight, Becky Cloonan, Gerald Way, Jay Baruchel’s thoughts on Canadian superheroes and more!

A fascinating study takes a look at the gender representation of 34,476 comic book characters. Journalist Amanda Shendruk asks, “Female characters appear in superhero comics less often than males — but when they are included, how are they depicted?”

Wonder Woman gif by Nicole Dirksen

She examined 34,476 different characters. The study results were published with a plentiful helping of graphs, graphs, and more graphs looking at everything from the types of powers a character has, to the gender make-up of their superhero team, to the naming scheme and frequency of character’s aliases. Some of the findings include:

  • The data suggest that less-physical powers — such as empathy, intellect, and telepathy — tend to be more represented among female characters. Men however, often have highly physical powers, as well as those that involve gadgets.
  • 30% of all teams have no women, and only 12% have more female team members than male. The majority of those 12%, however, are exclusively female teams.
  • A full 30% of male characters with gendered names get ‘man’ in their name. That number is only 6% for ‘woman’. However, ‘girl’ is the third-most common gendered name for a female character (13%). ‘Boy’ only shows up sixth for males (5%).

The study was then topped with very cute pixel art by Vancouver’s Nicole Derksen.

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Hobos punch toward paradise in Starks’ ‘Rock Candy Mountain’

New image series from Kyle Starks to feature hobos, magic, punching and the Literal Devil.

Kyle Starks, creator of the high-octane books Sexcastle, The Legend of Ricky Thunder and Kill Them All, has a new book coming from Image Comics in April — Rock Candy Mountain. Image describes it as an action comedy, filled with “epic stakes, magic, friendships, trains, punching, kicking, joking, a ton of hobo nonsense, and the Literal Devil. Yeah. The Literal Devil.”

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Cats break out the jugs and washboards in Chris Schweizer’s latest papercraft

Chris Schweizer wants your desk to be festive for all holidays, not just Christmas. Following last year’s Paper Nativity set, he’s created a fun, fall-themed Black Cat Jug Band.

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Chris Schweizer’s Paper Nativity Informational Notes: Part 5

Over the next month, Chris Schweizer will be offering thoughts on the Nativity set model (a large papercraft crèche) mentioned last week that you can find and download here:

https://gumroad.com/l/ThkR

Rather than run it everyday Chris has given us permission to run it every few days.

Advent Calendar Day 16: Jeanette, Isabella

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“Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella” is a lovely five hundred year-old French carol in which we see two villagers hurrying to pay their respects to the newborn Christ child.
Aside from shepherds and magi, the canonical gospels (and, really, the majority of the apocryphal ones, too) are absent visitors and homage-givers. Yet in some cultures, especially France, there is a tradition of villagers and laborers spreading the news of the holy birth and flocking to participate.I haven’t had any luck finding the root of this, but it goes back at least as far as the late middle ages, and I suspect that it developed by the late 13th century. Beginning in 1315, Europe suffered a series of crises –the Great Famine, the Black Death, the Little Ice Age, populist revolts, and dynastic wars – that slashed the population by at least half.Before this, though, Europe’s population had drastically increased, health and mortality had seen marked improvement, and a long period of warmth and increased growing seasons coupled with better farming technology and a lack of external raids meant that enough food could be produced to support and encourage this growth. By 1300, Europe was more full of people than it had ever held, and this, I believe, would have put a strain on Nativity organizers.There would not have been many religious ceremonies in which peasants and laypeople could have been officially involved, but a living Nativity would have been such an avenue. If you have a handful of folks eager to participate, then you have your kings, shepherds, and possibly angels. If the greater part of a large high medieval population boom congregation wishes to involve themselves, you have to get creative.It’s also important to note that the Feast of Fools (ostensibly started as a liturgical observance meant to remind clergy of scripturally prescribed humility, but more likely it was an internally hilarious moose-lodge type of endcap to the Christmas season by the subdeacons from whose feast it likely evolved) had cemented itself in France as a public festival in which the lower stations were permitted unprecedented social rights during the feast day. Just as they would with Christmas in the mid-19th century and Halloween in the 21st, the ruling and upper classes took umbrage with these short designated periods of social revolution, and began to try to implement rules curtailing those rights, and over the 13th century you see increased resistance to the Feast of Fools from the Church. Though the feast isn’t officially outlawed until 1431, there’s definitely a movement to see its raucous side diminished if not extinguished, and I believe that the villagers-in-Nativities movement is an attempt on the part of religious and community leaders to shift their population’s energies from the Feast of Fools to Christmas (either that, or the communities themselves shifting their energies from one celebration to the other in order to retain as much of their practices as they were able). There are two points that I think support this assumption:1. Many of the social switcheroos (mayor is beggar/beggar is mayor) that form the heart of the Feast of Fools become standard European and, later, American Christmas traditions (though we don’t have them anymore, with their last remaining vestige a carol about demanding figgie pudding under threat of perpetual occupation).2. The tradition associated with the villagers evokes the Feast of Fools itself. There is a makeshift parade (the carols associated with the villagers nearly always focus on the journey to the manger) to the home of the highest in the region. Only in the nativity, the social subversion of the Feast is itself subverted, and the peasants are willfully going to the highest (who is, by virtue of his humble birth, also the lowest) not to demand food and presents but to instead offer them.That the villagers don’t bother to try and Bible it up so far as dress or naming conventions go gives further credence to the likelihood that the one tradition evolved from the other. The villagers of the French tradition are French villagers, provincials, not ancient Hebrews. Even today, French nativity crèches boast santons, which are depictions of near-modern provincial characters. And Jeanette and Isabella, with their decidedly medieval European names, bolster that tradition.I didn’t want the anachronism of putting turn-of-the-14th-century French girls in this nativity set, so I took their names and matched them to the regions from which those names later sprung – France and Italy, or, at the time of the first Christmas, Gaul and Rome (and dressed them accordingly). Daughters of citizens of Rome in Jerusalem, Jeanette and Isabella are in Bethlehem to get some country air, accompanying their dads who are occupied administering the census. They’re best friends and I reckon that this is one chapter in a childhood filled with many.
Advent Calendar Day 17: Amahl

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When I was a kid, my dad ran an opera company, and every Christmas (at least most of the ones that I remember) he put on a one-act Christmas opera by Gian Carlo Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors.

I know this opera backwards and forwards, having watched it who knows how many times, sat in on many of the rehearsals leading to those performances, and even being in it, one season as Amahl (I think it was only once, but it may have been twice) and another, later, as a camel driver.

Amahl is the story of a crippled boy whose livelihood (goats and shepherding) has been slowly whittled away by economic hardship until his only avenue is begging, which he intends to undertake the next day (though he is an unrepentant liar, so he’s probably just going to lounge on a rock or something).

The Three Kings stop at his house on their way to Bethlehem and seek lodgings. The impudent Amahl pesters them with a series of comic interactions, and the poor mother, with no other means by which to support her sickly child, makes to steal a little of the treasure being taken to some baby who won’t even appreciate it. She’s caught, and the kings forgive her in Christ’s name. Amahl, moved by this show of mercy, decides to give Jesus a present, too: the only thing he has: his crutch. When he reaches out to pass it to the kings, he stumbles, and catches himself on his previously lame leg. Miraculously healed, he dances around and leaves with the kings for Bethlehem.

Oh! And there’s one of those villager parades mentioned in the last essay.

The opera was the first ever commissioned for television, and, airing on Christmas Eve in 1951, had the largest audience ever for a televised opera. It was a yearly tradition on NBC until 1966, when disagreements between the network and composer led him to take the broadcast rights away.

Beverly Easterling Erin Denison Namie Cleamon R. Down

Advent Calendar Day 18: The Cherry Tree

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The cherry tree has come to be associated with Christmas through the Cherry Tree carol, a six hundred year-old ballad set during Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. In it, Mary, passing under a cherry tree, gets a pregnancy craving for one, and asks Joseph to reach up and grab her one. Joseph, either doubting her tale of divine conception or not yet having been told of it (both versions exist), tells her that if she wants a cherry so bad then she ought to have the baby daddy get one for her. At this the cherry tree bends down to allow Mary to pluck a cherry from its branch. Joseph either then repents of his momentary doubt and spitefulness, or an angel appears and tells Joseph of Mary’s miraculous, dadless pregnancy.

This story stems from yet another apocryphal infancy gospel, but doesn’t have a Christmas or pre-Christmas setting. It’s set later, during the flight to Egypt. Mary’s craving isn’t a natal whim, but a nutritional necessity, and Joseph is upset over his inability to provide the family with food or drink in the desert, their supplies of both exhausted. The tree, not cherry but date, is called upon by little Jesus to bend down and give them fruit. Also its roots break the surface and provide plenty of water.

This is one of the many lil’ Jesus miracles.

The drawing here is, like in the carol, a cherry tree intended for a Christmas setting. I like the idea that the tree, its sentience activated, wished to continue it is worship, and followed them, providing food and shade and standing really still when anyone else was looking.

Advent Calendar Day 19: Little Drummer Boy
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The message of the carol “The Little Drummer Boy” is a good one: let each person make gifts of his or her means or talent, however meager.
Its single accolade upheld, I can now dwell on how much I dislike this song. For me, it’s likely a mix of irritation as a listener (it’s SO boring and repetitive and dirgey) and frustration as a singer (as a bass, any choir I was in that performed it saw those of us on the low register relegated to the endless and identical onomatopoeia). In either instance, my time would have been better served doing literally anything else on the planet. Come on, choir, get a drummer. Heck, even beat-box if you really, really need vocal percussion. That pa-rum-pum-pum-pum needn’t double the song’s length.I’m not alone in my contempt for this song. I’ve many a friendship whose bond has strengthened in our mutual dislike. David Bowie’s “Peace on Earth” was written for his duet with Bing Crosby because he famously refused to sing such obnoxious drivel. So why is this song so terrible?Well, it’s NOT terrible when it’s used for its intended purpose: children’s amateur choral performances. It’s a deliberately simple and repetitive song crafted specifically by its composer, the great and prolific music educator Katherine K. Davis, for youngsters whose musical and cognitive abilities don’t yet permit greater strain. And, so far as an elementary-age choir piece goes, it’s fine. But it shouldn’t be sung by adults without drastic alteration to the arrangement (which the song rarely, if ever, sees). It’s the Christmas equivalent of “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.”So despite how much I dislike the song, it’s not the song itself that I dislike, but the purpose to which it’s been turned.A similar song, but far more interesting in its complexity, is “Patapan”, a 300 year-old French carol which also has vocal instrumentation AND the central character of a little drummer boy (his name is Willie).

Listen here: https://youtu.be/s5Tk1n0VbeQ

SO! You’ve been tricked. The little drummer boy in the Nativity set is actually Willie of “Patapan” fame. Bwahahaha! I guess he could still be the kid from the other song, too. Santa has eight gazillion songs about him, drummer Willie can certainly have two.

Advent Calendar Day 20: The Caganer

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The caganer is a staple of Catalonian Nativity scenes, which, traditionally, have a lot of specific characters, including a weaver spinning thread and a woman washing clothes. The caganer, however, isn’t undertaking a professional task like the others; he’s hidden off to the side, pooping.

The figure, which likely began appearing in Nativity scenes in the late 1600s, seems to me a commentary on the pastoral motif that had become very popular during the baroque period. City folks, artists, and the nobility were enamored with the idea of a simple country life, but their romantic depictions rarely reflected its struggling, dirty reality. The caganer could easily be seen as a representation of the “real” within the idealized, tethering the first Christmas to reality in a way that the contrived and emotionally manipulative Nativity arrangements were failing to do.

There is a wonderful modern narrative that not only sweetens (Christmasises?) the idea of the caganer but which ties him to another poop-centric Catalonian Christmas tradition, the Tio’ de Nadal, a smiling log that poops candy on Christmas morning. As there is no earthly way to improve upon this juxtaposition of these two regionally and thematically linked characters, I’ll simply link to it. It’s a short, brilliant read:

http://comicsalliance.com/benito-cereno-and-anthony-clark-bring-you-a-true-christmas-story/