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Shaun Manning Goes Medieval in Macbeth: The Red King Kickstarter!

Creators Workshop member Shaun Manning partners with artist Anna Wieszczyk once more for a haunting (pun intended) new look at a Shakespeare classic. Macbeth: The Red King, now up on Kickstarter, provides an alternative view of what sort of man Macbeth really was

Comics Experience: The campaign mentions The Red King’s potential as a valuable educational material. What are some of the ways you recommend teachers, parents, librarians, and students engage with the narrative to get the most out of it? What is the educational potential of comics in general?

Shaun Manning: For one, I can imagine this would be an engaging way to get reluctant students interested in Shakespeare. I’ve really enjoyed Shakespeare for as long as I can remember, especially as someone who’s really interested in language and the way it works. But I know that’s also a hurdle for a lot of folks, the unfamiliarity tripping them up. Macbeth: The Red King is in modern English, and is a bit more action-focused that Shakespeare’s tragedy. I’ve also got a good deal of family and political drama, but it’s all different from what’s in the play.

What I think could be really valuable, though, especially in our current age, is the opportunity to contrast the story Shakespeare tells about Macbeth to what Anna and I have done, to demonstrate that writing history is all about choosing what story to tell. Teachers might mention that Old Billy wrote the play to please the new King James, but they might not get into as much who the “real” Macbeth actually was. Here, you can see that it’s very possible to portray him as the hero. Macbeth: The Red King is still fiction, and there are a few episodes that are entirely my invention, but I actually think it tracks a bit better to what we know of the historical Macbeth’s acts and deeds than does Shakespeare’s play. Someone who could reign for 15 years, who could make a long pilgrimage to Rome and come back to find that he hadn’t been overthrown, was probably a pretty strong ruler. He and his wife built monasteries, and his name — Mac Bethad, which is his first name rather than his surname — can be read as “Son of Life,” an overtly Christian name. So there was at least some aspiration to holiness, whatever that might have meant for an 11th-century Scottish king.

So yes, I think there’s a media literacy lesson here. I’m not telling the whole truth, but neither was Shakespeare.

Comics in general can be used a lot of ways. My daughter really enjoys Reading with Pictures, which was designed as a textbook that uses comics stories, but she’s also deep into the Babysitter’s Club graphic novels. On the most basic level, comics get kids reading when there are a million things competing for their attention, and that’s valuable in itself. And then there’s things like Brad Meltzer and Chris Giarusso’s I am… biographies, which can teach about history in an accessible way. It’s been encouraging to see how folks are coming round to the potential of comics.

CE: What is your working relationship like with Anna Wieszczyk?

SM: Anna and I started working together nearly ten years ago on Interesting Drug. I had a first issue script from the Comics Experience Advanced Writers Workshop, and was casting about for an artist. I put out an ad, thinking I knew what I wanted, then Anna’s work came through and blew me away. And that sold the book. When I showed a sample to an editor at Archaia, he literally said out loud, “holy shit!”

Since then, we’ve also done Hell, Nebraska and now Macbeth: The Red King. She’s done stellar work, and keeps getting better. I think we have a good shorthand going now, where if I describe a panel a certain way I know she’ll give me something better than if I gave her paragraphs of description.

CE: What aspects of the Macbeth story do you find most compelling? Why the decision to deepdive into his backstory?

SM: I love the dark, obscure corners of history, and I was fascinated by the idea that we’ve been getting this infamous villain wrong for more than 400 years because the Greatest Writer in the English Language cast him as a tyrant. I mean, the vilification of Macbeth was already complete by Shakespeare’s era, 500 years after the events in question, but without Shakespeare he’d probably be a footnote in history. There’s no reason to look at this blip in Scottish history if Shakespeare hadn’t written the play. But when you look at what’s there, it’s fascinating. A life takes shape. And then there’s the bit about his stepson Lulach — whose epithet is “The Stupid!” — and how that family came together. There’s nothing about him in the play, except for Lady Macbeth’s line about caring for infants and then dashing their brains out.

CE: How did you work with Comics Experience and the Creator’s Workshop help shape this project?

SM: I’d workshopped the first issue way, way back, so that was very helpful in getting early comments about the shape and tone of the story. Workshop discussions and live sessions were also a big help in sorting out how and where to pitch the book. I’ve always found the group’s comments and critiques incredibly valuable to the revision process — so thanks!

You can support the Macbeth: The Red King Kickstarter here.

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If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!

Posted by Meredith Nudo


EPISODE #149 OF THE COMICS EXPERIENCE “MAKE COMICS” PODCAST POSTED!

CE_podcast_logoA new episode of the Comics Experience Make Comics podcast has been posted! Each episode provides ~15 minutes of advice on all aspects of creating comics and breaking in to the industry.

Join Comics Experience founder and former Marvel and IDW Editor Andy Schmidt and his co-host Joey Groah as they discuss making comics!

Subscribe to our podcast via iTunes! Or check out the latest episode below or on our Podcast page!

Episode #149 – What’s Next: Continuing Your Education
Andy and Joey talk about ways to continue learning about making comics and your creative growth.

List of All Episodes

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If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!

Posted by Nicole Boose
nicole@ComicsExperience.com


COMICS SHORT STORY COLLECTION GRIEF EXPLORES LOSS

Trade paperback from Comics Experience and Source Point Press to debut at C2E2

Comics Experience and Source Point Press are excited to announce the publication of Grief, a comic book short story collection written by Frank Gogol, with art by Nenad Cvitcanin, Kim Holm, Ryan Foust, Bethany Varni, Jey Soliva, colored by Luca Bulgheroni, Esther P. Gil-Munilla, Emily Elmer, lettered by Sean Reinhart, and with a cover by Dani Martins. The Grief trade paperback will debut at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, known as C2E2, on April 6 through 8.

Gogol’s Kickstarter campaign to bring in pre-orders for Grief reached its funding goal in just ten hours. The anthology explores the various ways in which people experience and express grief, using Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’ outline of the five stages as a framework. Grief, an intensely personal work for Gogol, began as a direct result of Gogol taking Comics Experience founder Andy Schmidt‘s Introduction to Comic Book Writing course.

“Creating Grief was cathartic in a lot of ways and sharing it was meant to be my small contribution to help others who are grieving. And I channeled those things into the book and into the campaign and it resonated with people,” Gogol said in an interview on the Comics Experience website.

Beyond the introductory writing course, Gogol also found the Comics Experience Creators Workshop community a pivotal source of support and growth as he worked on Grief and other projects. The connections he forged during his time guided the story to Kickstarter, and then on to Source Point Press.

“Top-to-bottom, the Comics Experience community, especially the Creators Workshop, is a place designed to help members succeed,” Gogol said. “The CE community is a place full of people, who just like me, want to make comics. It’s pros and amateurs and everything in between as peers.”

Grief will debut at the Source Point Press booth at C2E2, taking place on April 6 through 8. It will then be available through retailers who carry Source Point Press publications, at Source Point’s convention appearances and their online store, as well as digitally on comiXology.

The publishing partnership between Comics Experience and Source Point Press gives alumni from Comics Experience’s Creators Workshop, education courses, and mentorships the opportunity to have their comics published and distributed. The publishing program was announced in January 2018 and four titles will be released in April: the miniseries Achilles Inc. and The Family Graves, and the trade paperbacks Grief and Wretched Things.

Click through to read previews of some of the stories in Grief!

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THE VERMIN EMERGE FROM THE SHADOWS IN WRETCHED THINGS

New trade paperback of comic book mini-series from Comics Experience and Source Point Press to debut at C2E2

Comics Experience and Source Point Press are excited to announce the release of the trade paperback edition of Wretched Things by Devon Wong, Ken Perry, and John Hunt at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, known as C2E2, on April 6 through 8. Wretched Things reveals the secret lives of vermin — those scurrying creatures who live in the shadows that humans regard with disgust — as being complex, with rich experiences and legends all their own. A young mouse named Bran, guided by a six-legged spider named Impatience, must come face-to-face with a new destiny — a world where vermin no longer skulk in the darkness.

Wretched Things was first published by Comics Experience in 2016 as a digital-only comic available on comiXology. With this new print collection of all four issues, the creators are eagerly anticipating seeing their story reach new audiences.

“There are still many people for whom comics is a print medium first and want to read a real, physical book, to hold the art in their hands,” said the series’ writer, Devon Wong, in an interview posted on Comics Experience’s website. “That’s when it becomes truly real. I’m one of those people. While I do read some digital content, I prefer the book as object, both in terms of comics and prose, because even though I look young, I’m really a shriveled old man inside.”

The series artist, Ken Perry, lauded Comics Experience’s and Source Point Press’ publishing partnership and distribution in the same interview. “The team-up of Comics Experience and Source Point Press looks to be a game-changer for independent creators looking to get their work distributed to a wide audience,” Ken said. “SPP already has a proven business model in place with advertising and marketing along with a great presence at conventions. I think they are already slated to be at 60 cons in 2018. That’s 60 places where creators are having their books actively brought to potential customers.”

The collected print edition of Wretched Things will debut at the Source Point Press booth at Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, known as C2E2, taking place on April 6 through 8. It will then be available through retailers who carry Source Point Press publications, at Source Point’s convention appearances and their online store, as well as digitally on comiXology.

The publishing partnership between Comics Experience and Source Point Press gives alumni from Comics Experience’s Creators Workshop, education courses, and mentorships the opportunity to have their comics published and distributed. The publishing program was announced in January 2018 and four titles will be released in April: the miniseries Achilles, Inc. and The Family Graves, and the trade paperbacks Grief and Wretched Things.

Click through for a preview of Wretched Things! (more…)


SUPERPOWERS, BUT NO SUPERHEROES IN THE WORLD OF ACHILLES, INC.

New comic book mini-series from Comics Experience and Source Point Press to debut at C2E2

Comics Experience and Source Point Press are excited to announce that their new four-issue comic book miniseries, Achilles, Inc., will debut at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, known as C2E2, on April 6 through 8. Achilles, Inc. explores what happens when the people who get superpowers are the ones who aren’t going to put them to any good use. With writing by Andy Schmidt and art by Daniel Maine, Francesca Zambon, and Marco Della Verde, Achilles, Inc. delves into a world where superpowered people have used their abilities to exploit humanity and destroy the world economy.

In the midst of this crisis, Ransom Yeong, an ex-cop steps right into the middle of a class-war between the “Boosters” and the “Duds.” But he’s not alone in his crusade as he finds Kyra, a talented attorney determined to help, Mishy, his sharp-tongued administrative assistant and  Dani, a booster with electricity-control abilities, all of whom feel powerless in the new world order. Together, they craft a plan to take advantage of their oppressors’ weaknesses and restore freedom to the world.

“I was wrestling with ideals and ideas about society when I wrote this series. We were fostering a young girl and a little boy at the time and I was confronted with a system that’s both helpful but also makes things more difficult for certain types of people, through no fault of their own,” said the series’ writer Andy Schmidt, who is also the founder of Comics Experience. “Achilles Inc. is a metaphor for many of those ideas, but ultimately, I hope it’s just a lot of fun for people to read, whether any of the social stuff comes through or not. If it doesn’t entertain, it’s missed the mark.”

‘Working on Achilles, Inc. was really fun, and learning experience for me,” said Daniel Maine, the artist on the series. “It was my first step in doing a full miniseries as the main artist and also gave me the opportunity to develop my creative process and design characters and costumes. Also, I really think the idea of this world, with the Boosters and our heroes,  is really interesting, with a lot of possibilities! I cannot wait for people to enjoy our work.”

All four issues of Achilles, Inc. will be available at the Source Point Press booth at C2E2, taking place on April 6 through 8. It will then be available through retailers who carry Source Point Press publications, at Source Point’s convention appearances and their online store, as well as digitally on comiXology.

The publishing partnership between Comics Experience and Source Point Press gives alumni from Comics Experience’s Creators Workshop, education courses, and mentorships the opportunity to have their comics published and distributed. The publishing program was announced in January 2018 and four titles will be released in April: the miniseries Achilles Inc. and The Family Graves, and the trade paperbacks Grief and Wretched Things.

Click through to read a preview of Achilles, Inc. #1!

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SAVING REALITY IS THE FAMILY BUSINESS IN THE FAMILY GRAVES

New comic book mini-series from Comics Experience and Source Point Press to debut at C2E2

Comics Experience and Source Point Press are excited to announce the upcoming release of The Family Graves, a new comic that Phil Hester calls “a satisfying combination of The Incredibles and classic Universal monster films.” In this four-issue mini-series, Tim Bach, Brian Atkins, Dijjo Lima, and Marco Della Verde blend science fiction, family drama, heart racing-adventure, and monsters!

Phil Graves is an alchemical engineer who has recently turned into an unpredictably shifting werewolf. He and his dysfunctional, mismatched family of monsters must race across dimensions to collect a set of magical mirrors in order to stop a chronal vampire from devouring the space-time continuum and destroying reality. But can the family hold together even as reality falls apart?

“At its heart, The Family Graves is a family drama—primarily about fathers and sons—dressed up in the teeth and claws of a monster adventure story,” said writer Tim Bach. “There’s yelling and hugging, tears and laughs, but also monsters and grand adventure. The Family Graves is a book for anyone who loves monsters, sci-fi/fantasy, family drama, and unabashedly fun comics.”

Bach and the letterer Marco Della Verde spoke more about the creative process behind The Family Graves and how their membership in Comics Experience’s Creators Workshop helped develop their concept in an interview on the CE website.

All four issues of The Family Graves will debut at the Source Point Press booth at Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, known as C2E2, taking place on April 6 through 8. It will then be available through retailers who carry Source Point Press publications, at Source Point’s convention appearances and their online store, as well as digitally on comiXology.

The publishing partnership between Comics Experience and Source Point Press gives alumni from Comics Experience’s Creators Workshop, education courses, and mentorships the opportunity to have their comics published and distributed. The publishing program was announced in January 2018 and four titles will be released in April: the miniseries Achilles Inc. and The Family Graves, and the trade paperbacks Grief and Wretched Things.

Praise for The Family Graves

“How you made me like a family as crazed as this is a mystery to me — but I love them!”
-Mark Waid (Avengers, Captain America)

“One of those ideas you will beat yourself up for not coming up with yourself, told with humor and heart without falling into cliche. The Family Graves is a satisfying combination of The Incredibles and classic Universal monster films.”
-Phil Hester (Mythic, Mother Panic)

“A sci-fi twist of Munsters style proportions with a Fantastic Four vibe! The Family Graves made me feel like having an adventure with a little monster of my own! AW YEAH!
-Art Baltazar (Tiny Titans, Itty Bitty Hellboy)

“Chock-full of weird science and even weirder monsters, The Family Graves deftly balances horror, heroics, humor, and heart. If you’ve currently got a vacant spot in your read pile for a fantastic family of adventurers, this series is a perfect fit. Trust me, this is one clan you’ll be dying to join!”
-Marc Sumerak (The Art of Harry Potter, Guardians of the Galaxy: Rocket’s Guide)

Click through for a preview of The Family Graves #1!

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