Friday, April 11, 2014

Bissette to Demonstrate "How To Make A Monster" at Billy Ireland Museum

As I reported last month, on the original Gutter Talk blog (hereafter to be referred to as "Gutter Talk Prime"), the Ohio State University's Wexner Center for the Arts, in co-operation with the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, has invited Stephen R. Bissette, renowned artist for much of Alan Moore's historic run on Swamp Thing and creator of the short-lived independent comic Tyrant in the mid-90s, to give a presentation entitled Swamp Thing and the Birth, Life and Death of the Comics Code Authority in the Wex's Film/Video theater on Tuesday, April 29 at 7 p.m.  The event is free and open to the public, and there's a Facebook event page where you can RSVP if you're planning to attend.
In addition, the Billy Ireland Museum announced on its blog on Wednesday, the evening prior to his Comics Code seminar, Monday, April 28, Bissette will present "How To Make A Monster: Cartooning Master Class with Stephen R. Bissette" in which he will demonstrate his method for rendering dinosaurs, zombies and monsters, in the museum's Will Eisner Seminar Room.  Seating for the event is limited, with only thirty slots available.  Cost of admission is $15 for the general public and $10 for OSU students with BuckID.  Interested parties can register at

SPACE Weekend Events

The fifteenth annual Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo, a.k.a. SPACE, takes place this weekend.  In addition to the main event, there are the traditional pre- and post- show parties tonight and tomorrow. 
The weekend kicks off this evening at 7:30 with a gathering at The Laughing Ogre comics shop at 4258 N. High Street in Clintonville.   There'll be free food and drink and many of the SPACE exhibitors will be there, giving you an opportunity to meet and get to know them without them trying to sell you something.
Saturday night, the action moves South down High Street to Kafe Kerouac at 2250 N. High for the After SPACE Comics Reading and Karoake Party, which, we can assume, is exactly what it says on the tin.  We're to be treated to some of the cartoonists exhibiting at the show reading from their work and then perhaps going on to publicly embarass themselves with their drunken rendition of "MacArthur Park." 
The show itself runs Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Ramada Plaza Hotel & Conference Center located at 4900 Sinclair Road.  Admission is $5.00 for one day and 8 bucks for the whole weekend.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

"The Outbreak" Breaks Out

Artwork by Micheal Neno
JL (Jen) Smither is a local writer making her first foray into the world of sequential storytelling with the new web comic The Outbreak, which went live on the Wild, Wild Web earlier today.  Her artistic collaborator on this project is Michael Neno, a name that should be well known to Columbus comics cognoscenti as the creator of The Signifiers, as well as many other titles in his more than two decades of writing, drawing and self-publishing comics.
I'm going to rely heavily on Jen's own words for the rest of this post, as she speaks quite eloquently for herself and her work.   On her blog, she describes the basic premise of the strip thusly:
"While still recovering from the trauma of World War II, England endures an outbreak of ravenous, wolf-like carnivores called lupanoids. The beasts take over the countryside, dramatically altering the landscape and culture. No one seems to understand where they came from or why. All that is known for sure is that the lupanoids aren’t wolves and aren’t humans, and they appear to never have been either. Popular opinion is divided on whether they should (or can) be exterminated or whether humankind should learn to live alongside the lupanoids. Two main groups make up either side of this debate. The Institute for Co-Existence, which is just a refurbished version of the war-time Institute for Peace, is a government-funded research institute that employs chemists, biologists, mathematicians, sociologists, and other scientists all working toward a common goal: to establish a new normal society in which humans and the lupanoids co-exist without fear. On the other hand, The Confrontation is a military-style group that eliminates lupanoids wherever the soliders find them.
After surviving the Blitz and other stresses of the war, many English citizens found the lupanoid Outbreak too much to bear. Many have left the country, fleeing to America and other countries where they believe they’ll be free of the lupanoid threat. Those who remain live mostly barricaded in rooms with bricked-over windows, dependent on The Confrontation for transportation, and with little opportunity to venture outside without fear of attack.
But they make do, those who remain in England. Because that’s their duty to their country and families: to make do."
 In a later post, describing the genesis of the project, she says:
"These stories that make up The Outbreak, including the story in “Monster at the Institute,” began as short stories that I wrote to take a break from my novel. I thought there was a slim chance I’d ever get “Monster” and the other stories in a literary journal (which does take some of the pressure off, allowing me to write a little more freely than I might otherwise). But then my husband mentioned that they might make good comics…"
When I asked her in an e-mail how she came to work with Michael Neno, she responded:
"After I got a script together with the significant help of my comics writing group (which was Max Ink, Travis Horseman, and Ken Eppstein at the time), the group also helped me put together a call for artists. Actually, the call for artists for was a different, shorter script that I intended to launch first. I distributed to call to the Sunday Comix group and to some people I'd met at previous SPACEs and to friends of friends. I got a lot of great responses, but Michael's really impressed me. He seemed to get exactly what I was going for, so I was pretty sure we'd be able to communicate well. Instead of the original, shorter script, I asked Michael if he'd be interested in doing this longer one instead--I first thought I might use different artists for every story, and I wanted to take advantage of his skill for a longer piece. He agreed, and produced some great artwork. He's so easy to work with, and I'm so happy with the way this turned out, that I already have him working on that original shorter script now! "
The first story of The Outbreak, "Monster At The Institute", runs six issues, and future chapters will appear each Thursday for the next five weeks.  "Michael and I are already working on the next story," Jen told me in her e-mailed response, "...but there's no ETA on that yet. But people should follow my blog for updates on that kind of stuff."
To read the first installment of "Monster At The Institute, point your browser here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Introducing Gutter Talk: Columbus

Columbus: The city that I have called home for the past two and one-tenth decades.  Capital of the State of Ohio. Birthplace of James Thurber and Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers.  Setting for the TV series Family Ties (although its readily apparent to anyone who lives here that nobody connected with the series had ever bothered to visit the city or do even cursory research). Home of THE Ohio State University, the National Hockey League's Blue Jackets, Major League Soccer's Crew, and frequent David Letterman guest Jack Hanna. 
The city is also home to a vibrant, diverse and ever expanding community of comics artists, writers, and readers.
It is that last item which we are gathered here to confront today.
For nearly five years now, I have been writing a somewhat sporadically updated blog about comics called Gutter Talk.  I've been thinking recently about getting more in depth into coverage of the local comics scene and decided that it might be best if I spin off a new blog devoted solely to that topic.
So that is what I did and that is what you are now reading.
This is pretty much the perfect week to launch a blog about comics in Columbus.  This weekend will see the fifteenth annual occurrence of the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo, known to its close friends as SPACE.  The show will be, as always, accompanied by the inevitable debuts of several new comics by a variety of local talent.
Now, if this blog is to be a success, I'm going to need stuff to write about.  Thus, I am asking all comics writers, artists and other interested parties to forward to me any news, rumors, gossip, tips or tidbits, either about their own projects or others.   You can send them to me at and please put "Gutter Talk Columbus" in the subject line, if you would be so kind.
See you at SPACE this weekend.