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Thoughts From the Land of Frost:
Micronauts and Odds & Ends By Alexander Ness
Comic books ought to be fun or inspire thought, make one happy or sympathize with one's pain. MICRONAUTS makes me happy. That is, when I sit and read it there's really not much else going through my mind. It's escapist and while not perfect, it's something I look forward to it very much. Now, however, it's been announced that the book is leaving both its current publisher Image Comics and its studio Devil's Due, with only rumors as to the status of creative teams (maybe replaced by a former artist from the 1980's series, perhaps Mike Golden, although more likely is Pat Broderick) and additional rumors as to just which publisher is the replacement (not Future Comics).
I began a dialogue with Barb Schulz, the talented inker of Micronauts, as she and I knew one another 15 years ago while living in Duluth, Minnesota. I am proud to present a somewhat truncated interview with Barb who I hope lands a great book to work on.
AN: What has being from Minnesota meant with regards to your art (culturally & geographically)? Are you isolated here in the Land of Frost, or has the Internet and express mail meant that you are every bit as in the mix as someone in New York or LA or Chicago?
Barb Schultz: As far as my comic art goes, I do not believe where I live makes a large impact on my work. The Internet and express mail do make a large difference though in my ability to live and work anywhere I can make a connection or drop a package! The one draw back to not living near to where the large comic book companies are is the fact that there is a number of jobs to be had if you can walk into an editors office at the right moment, or they can have you stop by and pick up a job a half hour after they call.
AN: Where did you go for art training, or are you mostly self-taught?
BS: I have a BFA in painting and I am a Masters candidate from the University of Wisconsin. My comic art is self-taught.
AN: Dan Jurgens Peter Gross, Reed Walker, and Kate Worley all work/ed out of Minnesota. Did they represent a sort of role model for your career in comics?
BS: No. They have always been colleagues though.
AN: In a similar vein, which artists or talent would represent your influences?
BS: Role models for my comic career growing up were Mike Grell, Neil Adams, Dick Giordano, and Walt Simonson, to name a few.
AN: Aside from Micronauts, what other works have you been affiliated with?
BS: I worked with Peter Gross' studio for years, working on numerous titles, but primarily the Books of Magic series for DC/Vertigo. I also did my share of a number of to be nameless small press projects, and a Kolchak book for Moonstone comics, and some G.I. Joe work for Devils Due/Image Comics before beginning work on Micronauts.
AN: Did you read the first Micronauts series under Marvel?
BS: I collected the first Micronauts comics by Michael Golden. To this day they remain among my favorite comics.
AN: There has been something of a rotating team on the book with two writers, various pencilers and colorists. Is this a detriment to the book or do you think the most important aspect is that for ten issues it has read well and looked great?
BS: Oh, I think it has been said by all at this point that the new Micronauts got off to a slow start story wise. It was a good story, but not the type that grabs and holds new readers, especially on a bimonthly schedule. I don't think the rotating art team was much of a detriment, as I have seen that occur on a number of other books with no ill effects. Overall though, it is a good read, and it does look great, so I would recommend picking up the trades as they come out!
AN: You work out of Devil's Due Studios as a provider of content for Image, so are you a staffer for DD and a freelancer for Image, or exactly how does that work?
BS: I am a freelancer for Devil's Due; I have no interaction with Image itself. Devils Due is a comic studio that decided to have Image publish their books. DD creates the project, hires the talent, packages the book, and sends it off to Image for print. It is a bit more involved than that, but I would have to call up Josh for the full details on the arrangement.
Q: Is working on a licensed book for Image and Devil's Due a simple process or do you have to submit your work to Hasbro?
BS: I am lucky in that Devil's Due handles all the interaction with the license holders. DD does have to have the story and artwork approved by the property holders, but Micronauts has been a simple book to work on, with almost all of the work being accepted.
AN: Do you have a favorite character thus far?
BS: In this series, Galactic Defender has become my favorite character. Unfortunately she has had very little to do in the latest storyline.
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Now for a bit of news from a great publisher.
Humanoids Publishing has launched a contest in connection with the publication of the most recent issue of the anthology comic book, Metal Hurlant. One sharp-eyed reader of Metal Hurlant #8 will win over $100 worth of Humanoids graphic albums!
Writer Dan Wickline has hidden anagrams of the names of four well-known, modern comic artists and writers in his story, DRAGON OF THE NORTHERN PASS, a fantastic tale of ingenuity and adventure penciled by Scott Benefiel and inked by Jasen Rodriguez. Readers may visit the Humanoids Publishing web site at http://www.humanoids-publishing.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org to enter.
Entrants will send their name, email address, postal address, and a list of the four anagrams and the four unscrambled names. All entries must be received by October 24, 2003. The winner will be chosen at random from all entries containing the four correct anagrams and four correct unscrambled names.
THOUGHTS FROM THE RACK - REVIEWS:
SANCTUM #1 USS NEBRASKA, #2 DISCOVERY Hardcover, color, $15.95.
Creative team: Xavier Dorison, Christopher Bec
In 1945 a Red Army brigade enters the deepest portions of the Nazi Germany Reich. In the bowels of the Reich the Soviet troops discover that the Nazis have been in league with ancient Sumerian rituals and priests. In 1957 a Soviet sub, with deep diving capabilities and very advanced technology torpedoes disappears in a trench that is hidden in the ocean's corners and depths. At present the USS Nebraska is called upon to investigate a beacon and signal that is indecipherable to modern technology. The crew is then drawn in to an alien and ancient labyrinth.
Drawing upon some HP Lovecraftesque images and concepts this is a series that chills the reader and leaves him conscious of turning a page in anticipation of the next page. This work is complicated and is wonderfully moody. The typical reader might not appreciate the horror movie pacing or the exquisite dread drawn from a Lovecraftian environment.
The facts are that I deeply enjoyed these two volumes despite some various issues with some false Americanisms and some unbelievable dialogue. But for a pair of Europeans creating a story with an American cast, it rocks. Write to Humanoids to order it or chase it down at your local store. It deserves your dollars.
ATTENTION ALL PUBLISHERS AND TALENT Send comics for possible review to:
Alexander Ness LAND OF FROST Box 142 Rockford MN 55373-0142