Monday, March 28, 2011

An Interview with Jac Taylor, artist of American Dark Age

Artist, Jacqueline Taylor
BENJ: Hi, Jac. Thanks for doing this. You have a lovely home. That’s an interesting coffee table. Where’d you get it?
JAC: Um...This is a phone interview. What are you talking about?
BENJ: Oh, is this your cat? Hey, kitty. You’re a cute little guy, aren’t you.
JAC: Uh...What’s going on?
BENJ:  So, before we get started, do you prefer Jac or Jacqueline?

JAC: Either. Ever since I remember, everyone called me Jac. My best-friend's parents would always sing "Hit the Road Jack" before they'd boot me out the door. Most of my friends admit my name was too long to write, so they always wrote it Jac or Jack.  And in high school, I'd tell my teachers to call me Jac so I wouldn't have to hear them mispronounce my name every time- Or call me Jackie. I absolutely DESPISE that name. (No offense to other Jackies)
BENJ: You went to school for animation. What prompted you to jump in to the sequential world of comic books?

JAC: Before animation- My main objective was to complete and publish my own comic book. It was some silly thing that was inspired by a bunch of old friends, before turning around and making it into something more. Animation was just my opportunity to draw better, and expand my horizons. Also, I love comic books and any kind of graphic novel. So why not pursue something I know and  love?

BENJ:  What are the main differences or challenges of comic book illustration as opposed to animation?

JAC: Comic Books vs Animation? Not much difference. You visualize a world and the people that live in it, and you bring it to life- whether by reading it or watching it, its the same impact. Of course more time and preparation is involved with animation and you're drawing til' your fingers bleed, but Comic Book-wise you set up the important key elements of the shot for telling the story, while in animation you bring those elements to life. It's initially storyboarding- something Animation can't perform without. 
The hardest part of Comic Book illustrating is getting that PERFECT shot. I'm a stickler for detail. It's something I'm always looking for in both what I watch and read. But detail doesn't have to be the accessories to a character's costume, or architectural structures of a background that a character stands on. It's how realistic this world and those characters are to the readers. Between body language and dialogue- How real can it be? No matter how fictional and other-worldly that story is, if you can believe it, then so can everyone else. 
BENJ:  Is it true that coffee has driven you to homicide and harming forest creatures?

JAC: Forest Creatures, no. The unfortunate people who stand within fifty feet of my presence, yes.
BENJ: So, American Dark Age. What exactly compelled you to work on this book?

JAC: The story. The story is brilliant. I can see it's potential for going somewhere BIG- So, obviously I had to make myself a part of it.
But Brody's character was the real winner. I'm a REAL sucker for the ass-kicking heroine type. (The damsel's in distress type just make me want to gag-myself with a spoon.) Brody is a fierce, headstrong, whirling dervish of awesomeness and after reading the American Dark Age script, she made me giggle with uncontained excitement.

BENJ: What do you hope to bring to the book with your art?

JAC: I just want to get OUT there. Out in the comic book world.  Have my name written under the superstar artists, like Jack Kirby, and Stan Lee. You'll never get anywhere, by sitting around and waiting for those opportunities to come. You have to work hard for it. Really hard. And for me, the opportunity to draw American Dark Age was like winning the lottery.
BENJ: Has the experience of creating a comic book soured you at all to the medium as it shoud?

JAC: Absolutely not. It's ALWAYS a challenge. And I love challenges.
BENJ: What’s the comic book scene like up in Canada?

JAC: It could be bigger. But in the last few years it's been increasing in popularity real fast. It's nice to be able to go to the bookstore and find WALLS of comic books to browse through.  I wish we'd get more Comic' Conventions, more in Ottawa anyhow. Montreal and Toronto get most of the spotlight.

BENJ:  Who are your biggest artistic influences?

JAC: That's a hard one, since almost everything I read or watch has an influence some how. My main artistic influence, that got me into the whole comic book shindig in the first place, was when I picked up the Danger Girl Sketch Book by J.Scott Campbell. I was driven to draw as good as he was, and make it out there in comic book world, like he did.

But my biggest inspiration for just creating a story, would have to be Joss Whedon.
BENJ: I know that you’ve been developing your own comic book for some time now. Can you tell us a bit about it?

JAC: Basic good vs evil story type- The world is on the verge of massive apocalyptic war, as demons, monsters, and demi-gods from every myth and lore ever written are out to destroy humanity's very existence. The story is about eight immortal warriors, created by the gods who are each given, an elemental power: Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, Power, Thunder, Light and Dark. 

The main character, Cerridwen is focused on the Element of Fire - like I said before: ass-kicking female. She's hot-headed, has a vile temper, and always resorts to blowing up demons, warehouses, cars etc. And when her temper begins to boil so do objects around her.
She gets nicknamed  the 'Red Sonja' quite frequently for her barbaric nature and flaming red hair.

But because her temper is a literal 'short-fuse' she needs to learn how to keep it cool. Although it's hard doing that, being surrounded by her fellow elemental warriors who are not exactly the warriors they were prophesied to be. They're either: drunk, gay, pranksters, narcissists, have height problems, hate the world, or are perverted.  All this while trying to save humanity from being destroyed by the demon race.

Laughs. Violence. Horror. Action and lots of beautiful curvaceous women. 
BENJ: What do you think of Megabrain Comics so far?

JAC: Love it. Love the people, love their devotion and enthusiasm towards this project. Team Megabrain for the win!
BENJ: And finally, I am going to ask you 10 questions originally asked by French Television's Bernard Pivot and currently asked by American Television's James Lipton.
  1. What is your favorite word?   I guess 'frickin'. I say it enough times...
  2. What is your least favorite word?   lawl- because it's a damn computer lingo- that should STAY as computer lingo, not as a way to verbally express oneself. Also makes you look like an illiterate numfar.
  3. What turns you on?   Dark chocolate. No explanation why.
  4. What turns you off?   Earwigs. They make me cry.
  5. What sound or noise do you love?   My black cat, Boo. He's very vocal, but never sounds like a cat. More like a cross between sheep, dog and duck. Makes me smile everyday.
  6. What sound or noise do you hate?   Squeaky shopping carts. Murdering thoughts usually follow.
  7. What is your favorite curse word?   I don't know if I have a favourite. I just say what comes to mind. I'm terrible around children, especially if I have to give them a dollar every time I curse. (Kid left with thirty-five dollars in one day).... Most common would be 'Shit' I guess. Everything is referred to shit. Even in a nice way.
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?   Anthropologist. I watch too much Bones.
  9. What profession would you not like to do?   Retail...
  10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?    You can wear high heels again.
BENJ: Well, Thank you for doing this Jac. I’ve had a great time and thank you for inviting me in to your home.
JAC: I’m gonna hang up now. -clik-
BENJ: And I thank you, loyal Megafan for joining us here in the chilly great white North of Canada. This is The Benj and I will see you next time, here at THE MEGABLAH! Keep that grey matter flexin'.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What Is An Ashcan, You Ashk?

Well from what I've observed, an ashcan copy of a comic book has many different definitions.

Some may say ashcans are produced for legal purposes in order to secure copyrights.

Others may say that it's a work in progress copy to worry out the last minute bugs, bells and whistles in a publication.

Well, in our case here at Megabrain Comics, we are producing our ashcan copy of American Dark Age in order to buy us more time.
That's right folks. You won't get any minced words from me.
The Convention season is upon us again and we here in the brain pan are crappin' our slacks trying to get everything ready on time, so to keep the wolves at bay and the masses from lighting their torches due to a slow production schedule, the long time tradition of the ashcan has been dusted off for your viewing pleasure.

So, please continue to grace us with your internet presence and take this opportunity to sling your critical arrows at us here on the Megablah! and on Facebook and Twitter, because once this puppy goes to the printer, that fat ladies ash will be singing.

Keep your noses in the pages,
and keep that grey matter flexin!
The Benj

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

An Interview with Jean Michel creator of American Dark Age by his girlfriend who really doesn't care

JESSICA: So, what's this thing about?
JEAN: It's about this girl. Katherine Brody. She grows up on a horse farm with her dad in Oregon. He's a widower and she's unsure of her place in the world. The only way she knows how to express herself is by tearing away at her guitar and singing punk music in a crappy band.

JESSICA: What does that have to do with the Dark Ages?
JEAN: At the beginning of the story, the whole world loses its power and the use of its machinery, so everyone has to go back to living life like they did in the dark ages which includes using swords and stuff, since guns and bombs don't work either.

JESSICA: Why don't guns work and what if a machine doesn't need electricity? It's not magic is it? Just don't say it's magic.
JEAN: All of that gets explained later in the book. It's a mystery for a while...and no, it's not "magic".

JESSICA: Hrhm... And by the title, I'm assuming it takes place in the US?
JEAN: Yeah, I used to watch all these films and read books about knights, samurai and barbarians, but they're always set in Europe, Asia and...I don't know Cimmeria. I loved all that. Still do, but, when I was a kid I always felt kinda stupid with a sword in my hand, because I didn't have a British accent.

JESSICA: What the hell is "Cimmeria"?
JEAN: It's where Conan is from.

JESSICA: He didn't have a British accent. He's German or Austrian.
JEAN: My point was that he's not American and as a child I didn't have anyone to look up to that had a sword AND an American accent.

JESSICA: So, what; you're saying you look up to this girl you created?
JEAN: No. I'm trying to create characters and a story that I wish I had gotten to read when I was a kid. Characters that kids today can look up to that resemble them in some way. Jeez.

JESSICA: Alright, so what's so great about her?
JEAN: Brody's my favorite parts of Red Sonja, Tank Girl, and Wonder Woman at a slumber party with Joan Jett, Donita Sparks and Brody Dalle.

JESSICA: ...I swear to god, if you mention pillow fights or truth or dare, I'm going back upstairs.
JEAN: I'm just trying to say Brody's got a little bit of all those chicks in her. Nothing dirty.

JESSICA: You're a sick person. Anyway, what was with all the music references in the story?
JEAN: I'm a visual artist, but deep down, I've always wanted to be a rock star like Ozzy or Joey Ramone. As a kid, when I wasn't alone in my room, swinging a homemade sword and trying to fake a British accent,... Stop smiling like that. When I wasn't doing that, I was lip-synching to Black Sabbath, The Clash and the Ramones imagining what it might feel like to be them. Even though I never became a musician, music always pushed me to create whatever art I could, so I tried to show my appreciation to my musical heroes by naming certain characters, places, and even story titles after familiar musical landmarks in my life.

JESSICA: Did you name anyone after me in the comic?
JEAN: Maybe.

JEAN: I'm not saying anymore about it. If you wanna find out, then you need to read the book every time it comes out each month, just like everyone else.

JESSICA: Oh, so you think I'm just like everyone else? Did everyone else have your baby?
JEAN: I'm just saying you have to wait to find out. That's all.

JESSICA: ...Y'know what? I don't wanna talk about you anymore. Let's talk about Jac. How'd you find her to do the art?
JEAN: Okay, fine. Jacqueline Taylor is an amazing artist going to school for animation in Ottowa, Canada. I found her Deviant Art gallery through a mutual friend and I was blown away by her stuff. Once she read the script for issue one, she pretty much told me I wasn't aloud to hire anyone else to work on this book. An artistic marriage made in cyber space heaven.

JESSICA: Oh, I see. You'll marry Jac in cyber space, but you won't marry me in real life.
JEAN: Wait, what? 

JESSICA: Nevermind. What About Megabrain? You wanna tell people about Megabrain?
JEAN: Yeah. Megabrain is the brain-child of Mike Vuolo and myself. Get it? Brain-child?

JESSICA: That's why, I'M the funny one in the relationship.
JEAN: Hrhm...Anyway. Mike and I decided it was about time to finally do something with all the stories we've plotted out and we knew that no self respecting publisher would print anything from a couple of schlemiels like us, and with the awesome might of the internet at our disposal, we've taken it upon ourselves to bring our stories to life.

JESSICA: Don't forget it's garbage night.
JEAN: I know it's garbage night! Can we finish this first?

JESSICA: Sorry. So where can everyone read your comic book?
JEAN: American Dark Age will be the first book to debut on the Megabrain site, when it launches on January 17th. It's going to start off digitally, but as soon as we've got the budget, all of our books will be going to print.

JESSICA: Sounds, wonderful. Can we go to the city now?
JEAN: Yes, we can go now.

JEAN: - smooch -

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Welcome, Megafan!

I know, I know. I've been a horrible friend. Haven't been keeping you abreast of anything going on in the lobes of the Megabrain.

Well, fret not. From here on out, it's you an me, chum. You will be the first to know what's going on at Mega-HQ and to show you that I'm on the level, I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. Yeah.

That first issue of American Dark Age. You ain't gonna get to read the rest of it till MoCCA Fest 2011 (April 9th-10th) where the Megabrain will be in attendance selling pre-releases to the masses. 

After that, you'll have to wait till the full print run in October when you can get a copy from us at NY Comic Con from the 13th-16th. 

Yeah, yeah, don't gimme no lip. If you were the type of person who'd be happy with a mediocre book with mediocre art, then sure we'd kick it all out for you in the next day or two, but I know you. 
You want a book that will make your nipples hard and your toenails sweat and that my friend is why we are takin' no shortcuts.

It's all for you. 

Till the next time, keep that grey matter flexin'