Zahra’s Paradise

Zahra's Paradise
Working under assumed names for obvious reasons, writer “Amir” and artist “Khalil” chronicle events in Iran in the wake of the disputed elections of 2009 in an ongoing story called Zahra’s Paradise.

Zahra’s Paradise is a graphic story that is being published as a webcomic in installments every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It just started on February 19, and will continue to include current events as they happen in the context of a fictional story. It follows a young Iranian blogger’s search for his brother, who has disappeared following his participation in the post-election protests.

The author is an Iranian-American human rights activist and the artist is a sculptor, ceramics artist and cartoonist who is taking on his first graphic novel.

The webcomic is being published simultaneously in English, Farsi, Arabic, French, Spanish, Italian and Dutch. First Second Books will publish the story in book form in 2011.

The site conveniently opens on the first page of the story (unlike the majority of webcomics, who open their site with the most recent page on the mistaken assumption that convenience for current readers is more important than orienting new ones.)

The art is clear and straightforward, with enough touches of style to add visual charm without distracting from the storytelling. Simple tones and hatching, along with well spotted blacks, provide depth and visual balance.

The characters are immediately accessible, even to Westerners who might assume they have little connection to people and events in Iran. As we follow along with the search for Mehdi, we may find out more about how similar, and different, our lives are.

[Via BoingBoing]

 
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Kurt Huggins and Zelda Devon

Kurt Huggins and Zelda Devon, Teetering Bulb
Kurt Huggins and Zelda Devon, collectively known as Teetering Bulb, are a an illustrator team living in Brooklyn. Their clients include Realms of Fantasy, Dover Publishing, Wizards of the Coast, Honest Tea and Tor.com.

They are also creators of webcomics; and Tor.com, home of Tor publishing (se my post on Tor.com) is hosting their short story webcomic, The Dreaded Question, as well as a new fantasy story King of an Endless Sky (image above, bottom), which has just started.

The latter, presumably because it only has two episodes, is still lacking page to page navigation. [Addendum: this has been addressed (see this post’s comments), and the complete story is available from this page. As of this writing there are three pages, with new updates every Thursday.]

Their comics approach has a nice painted feeling, while still working within the traditional comics framework of color filled line drawings. Their illustration is more painterly, but still has a graphic, linear quality that gives it a particular visual charm.

Their blog features many of their works in various stages of creation, in addition to sketches, studies, anatomy drawings, and finished illustrations.

Their portfolio is basically a subset of blog posts, as are listings in the right hand column for sketchbooks and prints.

[Via LCSV4]

 
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A.D. – New Orleans After the Deluge

Josh Neufeld, A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge

Though it’s been commonly accepted in Europe and Japan for may years, it’s finally creeping into common knowledge here in the U.S. that the medium of comics, or “graphic stories”, is not limited to — a: an audience of kids, and b: stories about steroid disasters in leotards grimacing and punching each other.

Comics is simply a medium, one that can be used to convey or talk about essentially anything, including reportage.

A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge is a graphic story about the disaster (both natural and political) of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

The story is published by Smith Magazine and written and drawn by Josh Neufeld, a member of the ACT-I-VATE comics collective and author of The Vagabonds, with consulting and editing from Jeff Newlet and Miles VanMeter.

A.D. was initially published as a webcomic, which you can still read online at Smith Magazine, and has now been released in book format.

There is a video interview on the making of the story on YouTube.

[Via Salon]

 
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Langridge Re-imagines Spongebob

Roger Langridge
Roger Langridge, the brilliantly off-kilter UK cartoonist that I wrote about back in 2006, recently posted to his blog some comics that were done for Nickelodeon Magazine, in which he draws on his fondness for the great classics of newspaper comics to re-cast Sponegbob Squarepants in the mold of Winsor McCay’s and Little Nemo in Slumberland (image above, bottom), George Herriman’s The Family Upstairs (above, top) and Krazy Kat, Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates; and others like Peanuts and Buck Rogers.

Don’t miss the chance to lose your day being delighted and diverted by the rest of Langridge’s blog, The Hotel Fred, as well as his website and the assortment of comics therein.

[Link via io9]

 
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The Undersea Adventures of Capt’n Eli (Jay Piscopo)

The Undersea Adventures of Capt'n Eli - Jay PiscopoThe Undersea Adventures of Capt’n Eli is a reminder of the fun and unpretentious adventure comics of the “Silver Age” (1960’s an 70’s) and before, in this case updated with a bit of anime flavor in the way outline and flat color drawings of the characters are set against rendered and 3-D backgrounds.

Drawn and written by Maine artist Jay Piscopo, Capt’n Eli was created as a promotional vehicle for a specialty root beer company. Comics and characters created in that kind of role are often half-hearted, designed-by-committee and drawn by disinterested commercial artists. Capt’t Eli, on the other hand, is a delightful exception to that rule, and surprised me when I first encountered it to the extent that I likened it to finding a classic Fantastic Four comic in your shredded wheat box.

Capt’n Eli carries a bit of that 60’s Marvel flavor, plus some of the wonderful camp feeling of earlier “Golden Age” comics (to which it makes reference with the character of “Commander X”), plus a healthy dose of Johnny Quest, which featured the character design work of Alex Toth. Capt’n Eli is an undersea sci-fi adventure story featuring high-tech submarines, flying mini-subs, time travel, monsters, robots, nefarious villains and lost civilizations; in short, a nice mixture for all-ages adventure comics fun.

The submarines, helicopters, robots and other tech gadgets in the story are rendered out as 3-D models, giving an additional flavor of Popular Science stories on wild designs for future submarines and aircraft. I particularly like the enemy subs that have a feeling of the Nautilus from the classic Disney version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

The combination of the outline and flat color drawings against rendered backgrounds and 3-D objects may seem jarring to some, though anyone whose seen my own webcomic knows I’m completely comfortable with it (grin), and the use of that approach in Japanese animation has made it seem less unusual in recent years.

It was through my webcomic that I encountered Capt’n Eli, when Jay Piscopo wrote me several years ago and asked me to take a look at the strip, which was then available as a webcomic. I did, and wrote a nice review of it on the Zark Comics Links page. Piscopo subsequently asked me if I would like to write a foreword to the new print collection, which I was delighted to do.

It took a little time to reach fruition, but The Undersea Adventures of Capt’n Eli has finally been released as a 104 page trade paperback (“graphic novel” format) containing two Capt’n Eli stories and a “Golden Age” Commander X story, and is available through the Capt’n Eli site for $9.99, on the same ordering page with the company’s root beer and other sodas (read “pop” for those of you in the U.S. and Canadian midwest); along with other Capt’n Eli gear. You can also find it on Amazon.

The volume features a cover by comics artist Steve Rude, and pin-ups by Rude, Herb Trimpe and Howard Chaykin. You can see a few (unfortunately small) sample pages from one of the stories by selecting “The Story Begins” at the bottom of this page. You can also read the full first Capt’n Eli webisode, The Mystery of Me, and some earlier material in the Archives (though, again, the web versions are kind of small).

The Capt’n Eli site also has a gallery of pin-ups and a bio of artist Jay Piscopo, who has a background as an art director at Tom Snyder Productions producing educational CD_ROMs like Fizz and Martina Math Adventures, created the The Scrap City Pack Rats comic for Goodwill Industries, and was an animator for the ABC Saturday morning show Squigglevision. Piscopo teaches classes in cartooning at the Maine College of Art.

The second volume of The Undersea Adventures of Capt’n Eli is slated for release in October of this year and should be available though the web site, Amazon and a number of comic book stores.

Oh, and the root beer’s pretty good too.

 
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Into the Woods

Into the Woods at Gallery Nucleus, Catia Chien, Chris Appelhans, Kazu Kibuishi, Robert Kondo, Yoko Tanaka
Gallery Nucleus is a gallery in Alhambra, California that places a particular emphasis on illustration, commercial art and graphic narrative (e.g. comics). I’ve mentioned them before in the course of posts about artists who were exhibiting there.

The gallery has a new exhibit opening on June 14th called Into the Woods, with a group of artists, two of whom I have written about previously, whose oeuvre includes visual storytelling of one kind or another.

Catia Chien (image above, top left) is a free-lance illustrator who has illustrated a number of children’s books and contributed to the Flight comics anthologies.

Chris Appelhans (above,top right) is a concept artist for the film industry, whose credits include Monster House and a new urban/sci-fi version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland called Underworld. He has also contributed to the Flight anthologies and has a series of short webcomics called Frank and Frank that have recently been published in a wonderfully strange format book. (See my previous post on Chris Appelhans.)

Kazu Kibuishi (image above, center) is the editor of the Flight comics anthologies and creator of one of my favorite webcomics, copper, as well as the new graphic novel Amulet, which has recently been optioned as a feature film by Warner Brothers. (See my previous posts on Kazu Kibuishi, Amulet and Copper.)

Robert Kondo (above, lower right) is a concept artist with Pixar Animation, and has worked on films like Ratatouille. He is a contributor to the afterworks blog and part of E-Ville Press, a cooperative comics publishing enterprise with other Pixar artists.

Yoko Tanaka is an illustrator who has done several children’s books as well as editorial illustrations for clients like the Los Angeles Times. She is also a contributor to Flight.

Into the Woods runs at Gallery Nucleus from June 14 to June 30, 2008. Chien, Appelhans, Kibuishi and Kondo will be at the opening reception on June 14.

 
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