Comics Lowdown: ‘Abadazad,’ ‘Ghost Rider’ artist Mike Ploog to retire

Plus: designing variant covers, Sonny Liew, Tillie Walden, Simon Hanselman, food in San Diego.

Veteran artist Mike Ploog, known to comic fans as the co-creator of Ghost Rider, announced he will be retiring after a 47-year career. His career began with Filmation, as a clean-up artist on Batman and Superman, and eventually was promoted to layouts. He moved onto Hanna-Barbera, continuing his layout work until he became the assistant to Will Eisner.

He made his comic book debut on Werewolf by Night in 1972. Since then, he was credited as a co-creator of Ghost Rider and notable artist on Man-ThingPlanet of the Apes and The Monster of Frankenstein. Later in his career, he did minimal comic work, but teamed with J.M. DeMatteis on Abadazad in 2004.

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Fund Me Friday: Lucy Bellwood’s inner demons, Sistah Shark and more

Plus Amy Chu, Felipe Smith and Nicholas Gurewitch!

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.

Sistah Shark #1 The Hunter and the Hunted

Creators involved: Christopher Caravalho
Deadline: Aug. 1
Goal: $6,000

What to know: Caravalho founded Mana Comics in 2014, and has since published several comics featuring superheroes from Hawaii — including Mana Double Feature, which featured Sistah Shark. Now he’s hoping to bring another solo adventure for her to life.

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Stephan Franck puts a stake in a third volume of his vampire heist series ‘Silver’

The animator returns to Kickstarter to fund a third volume of his graphic novel series that pits conmen versus vampires.

When he’s not helping to make animated hits like The Iron Giant and Despicable Me, Stephan Franck turns to his first love, comics. The son of two comic retailers, Franck started his own company, Dark Planet Comics, to publish Silver, a pulp-inspired heist story involving vampires.

Franck has used Kickstarter to crowd fund two volumes of the series already, and now a new campaign has launched for the third volume. I spoke with Franck about the project, the campaign and the appeal of working on comics.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Elizabeth Beier on ‘Bisexual Trials and Errors’

Elizabeth Beier only started working in comics a few years ago, but the graphic designer has made a name for herself self-publishing two issues of the comic Bisexual Trials and Errors, and comics like We Belong and I Like Your Headband. The winner of the 2016 Queer Press Grant from Prism and a Moth StorySLAM winner, this fall Northwest Press is publishing Beier’s first full length book, The Big Book of Bisexual Trials and Errors.

The spine of the collection is Beier’s own autobiographical story of starting to date after a six year relationship and being intimidated and finding her way through the entertaining confusion. Those comics, along with the flow charts and infographics that Beier enjoys crafting, manage to be funny and relatable in a way that transcends age and orientation. But the book is also much more that. Beier mentioned that she loves to draw faces, but she’s also interested in voice, and that interest in authenticity, in specificity, in capturing individuals and their stories is at the heart of her work. This is a coming of age story about a twenty-something woman, but it’s also about a woman situating herself in and coming to understand her community.

The book will be coming out this fall from Northwest Press, and the book is currently up as part of Kickstarter Gold, which highlights new projects by creators who have used the crowdfunding site in the past “making new works inspired by their past projects, so backers can discover extra-amazing ideas.” In 2013 Northwest published Anything That Loves, a comics anthology of comics story that took place in “the world outside of gay and straight boxes,” as editor and publisher Zan Christensen put it. The book was a critical and commercial success and Northwest will be publishing Beier’s book as a companion to and a continuation of that conversation. The campaign, which can be found here, runs through July 27.

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Fund Me Friday: ‘A Perfect Circle,’ Elizabeth Beier and more

Plus: ‘Blocked: Stories from the World of Online Dating,’ Chris Samnee, Craig Rousseau and the Killer Bees!

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.

A Perfect Circle minicomic

Creators involved: Writer Eric Esquivel and artist Ryan Quackenbush
Deadline: July 22
Goal: $150 (Funded!)

What to know: Esquivel shared where the story idea for this eight-page minicomic came from on Tumblr. “I got dumped at the tail end of October last year. It was, as these things often are, horrible,” he wrote. “To cope with my confusion, I did what I always do: wrote a comic about it. Specifically: a comic book about a guy who–after realizing that the last three decades of his life have been essentially a repeat of the same sad story over, and over, and over again– embarks on an epic journey to find a supernatural means with which to obliterate his personality, and start fresh.”

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Fund Me Friday: ‘Comics for Choice,’ Niobi and more

Help bring comics to life by checking out campaigns for ‘Niobe: She is Life,’ the ‘Comics for Choice’ anthology, ‘As the Crow Flies’ 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.

Niobe: She is Life hardcover & She is Death #1

Creators involved: Sebastian Jones, Amandla Stenberg, Ashley Woods, Sheldon Mitchell and Darrell May, plus a host of cover artists
Deadline: June 25
Goal: $21,500 (Funded!)

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Comics Lowdown: Satire comic gets Warsaw Comics Festival in trouble

Plus: profiles on ‘Black’ creator Kwanza Osajyefo and ‘Top Ten’ artist Gene Ha, the Ledger Awards shortlist, and Montreal’s AstroBooks turns to crowdfunding to pay its tax bills.

The Warsaw (Poland) Comics Festival will lose three years’ worth of city subsidies, totaling $44,500, because a comic ridiculing Polish nationalists was distributed at this year’s event. Tomasz Lesniak and Rafal Skarzycki’s Poland: The Champion of Poland, lampooned nationalists, racists and anti-Semites, and that didn’t sit well with the local nationalists, who complained to the city council. The council released a statement saying, “After reviewing the comic we explicitly declare that we do not accept its content,” and announced it would sanction the festival.

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Michel Fiffe launches Patreon to fund new comic, ‘Negativeland’

For $3 a month, see pages from the comic each week as Fiffe creates them.

After creating 30+ issues of his self-published hit Copra, Michel Fiffe has started a Patreon fundraising campaign to help fund a new comic called Negativeland.

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Get a ringside seat for the ‘Muscle Temple’ comics anthology

Help drop-kickstart a new wrestling-themed comics anthology featuring Box Brown, Zac Gorman and more.

Comics and wrestling have been tag-team partners for years, whether you’re talking about comics starring wrestlers, wrestlers writing comics or even comic heroes fighting super villains in the ring. It’s no surprise that wrestling counts many comic creators among its fans, and several of those creators have come together to create Muscle Temple, an anthology of wrestling comics.

Spearheaded by Frank Gibson, the anthology features enough creators to fill a battle royal, including names from webcomics, alt.comix and animation. Together they will publish a “60ish” page, two-color comic featuring “funny and weird short comics and goofy illustrations about our love and passion … PRO WRESTLING!” The roster includes Box Brown (creator of Andre the Giant: Life and Legend, one of the best wrestling-themed comics in recent memory), Zac Gorman (creator of the wonderful Magical Game Time), Jimmy Chang (whose Secret Item World webcomic I’ve been binge-reading over the last few days), Rosemary Travale (The Champ), Sam Alden, Amanda Meadows and Geoffrey Golden of the now-defunct The Devastator, and many more.

They’re currently looking for funding via Kickstarter, with prizes that include limited edition prints, T-shirts and your very own stop-motion puppet by Rosemary Travale — and of course the book itself, which can be yours for $15 plus postage. Check out some art below, or visit their Tumblr to see more.

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