Children’s/All-Ages


My continuing tendency to get distracted and work on things not posted online means that I haven’t updated in a spell. Let’s rectify that with some of the better articles I’ve done over the last couple of months.

Kenny Caperton built an exact replica of the famous Michael Myers house from the movie Halloween in Hillsborough.

As I’m posting this on Halloween, here’s an article I wrote about some crazy haunted house events in North Carolina. You can read it here.

PHOTO BY JEREMY M. LANGE

And here’s an article I did on The Little Leviathan, a local oddiites shop that sells odd antiques, custom prop items (they’ve worked on TV’s SLEEPY HOLLOW) and much more you .You can read about their twisted world here.

If you’re enjoying GOTHAM on Fox, I wrote an extensive essay on BRUCE WAYNE, a previous attempt at doing a Batman prequel story for television by the screenwriter of THE IRON GIANT, that actually wound up inspiring a completely different superhero TV show. You can read about it here.

Or if you’re enjoying NBC’s romantic sitcom A TO Z, here’s an interview I did with creator Ben Queen, where he reveals himself to be a major fanboy. You can read it here.

I did a series of interviews counting down to the Small Press Expo (SPX) in September, each an in-depth talk with a different independent creator.

Celine Loup on HONEY

Emily Carroll on THROUGH THE WOODS

Farel Dalrymple on THE WRENCHIES

Jules Feiffer on KILL MY MOTHER

Eleanor Davis on HOW TO BE HAPPY

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This is a piece I did with writer/artist Scott Shaw on Captain Carrot, who appears in the new DC miniseries MULTIVERSITY and has a cult following from his 1980s appearances. You can read it here.

Speaking of the 1980s, here’s an interview I did with Brian Froud, designer of THE DARK CRYSTAL and LABYRINTH, on his new book FAERIES’ TALES. You can read it here.

bs8-final-cover-gzd-900w.jpg

And speaking of SF and fantasy, here’s an interview I did with my friend Samuel Montgomery-Blinn on his magazine BULL SPEC. You can read it here.

I talked to Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, creators of the podcast THE THRILLING ADVENTURE HOUR, about their two new ongoing titles at Image Comics based on the show, SPARKS NEVADA and BEYOND BELIEF. You can read the interview here.

So and So Books makes its mark

Here’s a look I did at local Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill independent bookstores and how they’re doing.  You can read the full piece here.

And finally: I followed up my in-character interview with Cartoon Network’s Lumpy Space Princess with an in-depth talk with REGULAR SHOW star Muscle Man. Read the madness here.

As a psycho ADVENTURE TIME fan, I tend to rewatch episodes and follow behind-the-scenes info heavily.
One cool thing I’ve notices is that sometimes the title cards shown for a split-second at the top of the episode depict events referenced but not seen in the episode, or that take place just before the episode’s actions start.  This is also often done with promotional drawings the show’s artists do for the Adventure Time Tumblr page — I did a trade for one of these pieces.
I thought I’d compile these images, which often provide some good jokes if you know the episodes.
And here’s some examples:
“The Duke:” The Duke of Nuts binges on Princess Bubblegum’s pudding:
“The Other Tarts:” Tart Toter in his prime:
Lady’s parents pic:
Younger Billy, inspired byFrank  Frazetta’s “Death Dealer” painting:
HEAT SIGNATURE billboard:
“Another Way:” Finn and Jake jump off birds, leading to their breaking their legs
“Card Wars:” Why BMO won’t play with Jake:
“All the Little People:” Magic Man crafts the figures:
“Apple Wedding:” Tree Trunks’ ex Wyatt mourns the past:
“We Fixed a Truck:” Finn finding the truck
“The Great Bird Man: ” The wizard who “stole” Xergiok’s eyes:
AT VIdeo Game: Ice King and Gunter steal Finn and Jake’s garbage:
Pre-Show Drawings:
“Dad’s Dungeon:” Joshua watches his holo-message:
“In Your Footsteps:” BMO at soccer practice (designs later used for MOs; “Be More” was initially planned for earlier in series):
“Goliad:” Peppermint Butler burrowing to get to Finn and Jake:
“Sons of Mars:” The death of Magic Man’s girlfriend Margles, which set him on his path of jerkdom:
“The Vault:” Shoko’s parents trading her arm for a computer:
“You Made Me:” The Notorious Pup Gang throws a basketball at Jake’s head:
“Reign of Gunters:” Finn reads Jay T. Doggzone (this is the piece I have)
“Apple Wedding:” The backstories for many guests, including why Cinnamon Bun wasn’t in Fire Kingdom:
“Love Games:” Elder Plops builds the boats for the sing-off:
“Time Sandwich:” Magic Man has a plan:
“We Fixed a Truck:” Banana Man awaits Finn and Jake’s Call:

Going back to old policy of posting links to individual articles I publish this year.  Let’s see how long this lasts…

 

READING / INTERVIEWSAaron Becker takes children on an illustrated Journey

Posted by  @thezacksmith on Wed, Jan 1, 2014 at 10:36 AM

 

Journey Cover

  • Aaron Becker
  • Journey Cover

Aaron Becker has worked on such big-budget CGI-animated films asThe Polar Express and A Christmas Carol. But for his first picture book,Journey (Candlewick Press, $15.99), he turned to a simpler, old-school format. Although he uses computer models of his landscapes to help figure out the look and lighting cues for his dream-like landscapes, the final results are less digital than manual.

“The computer tends to be the beginning of the process, when I’m figuring out compositions, laying out scenes and stuff,” says Becker on the phone from a visit to his family in Chapel Hill. “It sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is.” The end result of his process are simple pen-and-ink drawings painted over in watercolor—though the world he creates is as deep and vivid as anything seen on screen.

Here are the most best things I wrote this past year.  I think this averages out to one great piece per week.  I am pleased by this.

COMIC BOOKS

The Strange History of Marvel Comics’ ULTIMATE ADVENTURES with Hawk-Owl and Woody

Peter Milligan and Brendan McCarthy, Pt.1

Milligan and McCarthy, Pt.2

Jeffrey Brown on VADER’S LITTLE PRINCESS, A MATTER OF LIFE and More

BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES 21st Anniversary

Paul Pope on BATTLING BOY

GRENDEL Retrospective with Matt Wagner, 1

GRENDEL Retrospective, 2

Fantagraphics Reprints Crockett Johnson’s BARNABY

Nick Offerman of PARKS AND RECREATION talks AXE COP, Comics and More

BONE Creator Jeff Smith on Self-Publishing

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD Creator George Romero on EMPIRE OF THE DEAD

Jonathan Hickman and Mike Costa on GOD IS DEAD

Priest and Bright on the Return of QUANTUM AND WOODY

TOYS!

The Many (Toy) Faces of Sylvester Stallone

How to Build Your Dragon: Putting Together Mattel’s MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE Classics Granamyr Toy

Tracking down the ADVENTURE TIME Marshall Lee Plush Toy

Sillof and Patton Owsalt’s FASTER, EMPIRE!  STRIKE!  STRIKE!

Masterpiece Transformers Soundwave

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Caldecott Winner David Wiesner on MR. WUFFLES

Jhn Agee (LITTLE SANTA) and Loren Long (OTIS)

A look at the musical MARY POPPINS and P.L. Travers’ original books (done in Feb., before SAVING MR. BANKS came out)

Jan Brett on CINDERS

Phyllis Rowan’s THE DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY

THE DARK IS RISING Author Susan Cooper

In Memorial: E.L. Konigsburg, Author of FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER

Zilpha Keatley Snyder on BELOW THE ROOT

Weird Picture Books That I Enjoy

More Weird Children’s Books: The Mushroom Planet, Chicken Trek, Suzuki Beane and More

LOCAL NORTH CAROLINA ARTS

Nice Price Books in Carrboro to Close

SERENA Author Ron Rash on NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY

Craig Zobel on Directing COMPLIANCE

Golden Age Bakery Puts Comics on Cookies

Elizabeth Strout on THE BURGESS BOYS

TV Production in NC with HOMELAND, BANSHEE, UNDER THE DOME and More

INSPECTOR LYNLEY Author Elizabeth George Visits

Attempting to understand CATS in a local production

Local Produce Delivery Startups

COMICS I WROTE:

Unseen REGULAR SHOW Script: “Bad Grammar”

My REGULAR SHOW story “Sombrero World”

Interview on “Sombrero World” in USA Today

Another Interview on “SomBrero World” in the News and Observer

My ADVENTURE TIME Story “Grocery Time” (Pt.1)

My ADVENTURE TIME Story “Grocery Time” (Pt.2)

FREE COMIC: “Decaffeinated” with Thomas Boatwright

MISC. TV

Shows You WON’T See This Fall

31 Loose Ends from Season 4 of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT

Dean Norris Talks BREAKING BAD and UNDER THE DOME

Hugh Dancy on HANNIBAL: Season One

Why I Heart Megatron: A Transformers Post

400 or so SIMPSONS Quotes

More than 60 BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD Videos

The anniversary of the end of ST. ELSEWHERE

My Strange Obsession with LAW & ORDER: SVU

MISC. ESSAYS/ORIGINAL COMPILATION POSTS

THE HEARTBREAK KID, SAVE THE DATE and other films for singles on Valentine’s Day

Thunderbirds are Go(ne): A Tribute to Gerry Anderson

Miami Connection: All 230+ Things I Love About this Film

http://zacksmithwriter.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/400-or-so-simpsons-quotes/

 

 

SELF PROMOTION!

The conclusion to my ADVENTURE TIME story with artist Brad McGinty, “Grocery Time,” is out in stores this week in ADVENTURE TIME #22!

AT22coer

 

You can buy an e-copy on ComiXology here.

To answer two possible questions:

1) Yes, Part One ran two months ago in issue #20.  No, I don’t know why it didn’t run on consecutive months.  The story WAS finished when we turned it in, but there are a limited number of pages for backups and it can be very tricky to figure out how to use the space.  I appreciate KaBOOM! letting us do this story and have no ill will over this.

2) No, I probably won’t be doing more AT stories in the future.  KaBOOM! has made it clear they have a large number of writers and artists doing such tales and don’t have room for more material at this time.  I have some more pitches to them being considered by Cartoon Network for approval, but it could be a while before there’s room for any of them.  Again, it was a great opportunity and I have no bad feelings — it’s just how the business works.

Additionally, Brad McGinty ALSO has a story in REGULAR SHOW #6, which is out today.  He is a brilliant, brilliant artist and we’re working on a creator-owned miniseries pitch for another publisher.  At this point, I’m trying to deliver a polished full script for the first issue along with a full miniseries pitch, and Brad’s finishing up a few other projects before doing character designs, so it’s going to be a while before it can even be CONSIDERED for publication.  But I truly hope to get this or another project together, not just for the career boost (no shame in my game), but for the excitement of seeing my weird ideas being brought to con’sid’ra’ble life by Brad’s Brobdingnaggian talents (look it up, I was tired of saying “Herculean”).

A few notes on the story, though this is more of a “What NOT to do” when writing a script.

1) Out of all the pitches I sent KaBOOM!/Cartoon Network, this was the one they took, and once I sat down to write it, I realized I’d hosed myself, as I had to introduce new characters, new settings, a plot with a beginning/middle/end AND an action sequence in a mere seven pages (they gave me eight, bless them).  So is this story rushed, and did I take a few shortcuts?  You bet your bippy I did.

2) So first, it was great fun writing the fight sequence.  Fight/action scenes are just about trying to find unique ways for the characters to act and react, and Brad did a very fun job pitting Billy against the Ham-Pire.  I had fun thinking of things the Ham-Pire could do, but I wish I’d thought of more unique ways for Billy to fight back using the materials of the Grocery Kingdom.

page 6

3) I also feel great, great shame for resorting to the cheapest dues ex machina in the book — the hero finds a MAGICAL REMOTE CONTROL to take over the evil robots.  Now, if you read both parts of the story in one sitting, I did try to establish this back on Pg.3 by introducing the cereal box display, but man, I wish I’d thought of something better to get to the denouement.  I ran this by a number of friends, including a few cartoonist who work on ADVENTURE TIME, and they said to stop worrying, but I NEVER STOP WORRYING.

4) In a random bit, the Royal Tart Toter is a check-out clerk in the Grocery Kingdom, because I keep encountering tragically old, sometimes demented old people as greeters at big-box stores whenever I go there.  Brad wanted a few more clerks for the background, so we went with the Squeez-E-Mart clerk and Choose Goose, who presumably had a slow season in his trading business or needed health insurance.

page 7

5) The last page is PACKED, which is a sure sign of a novice comic book writer.  Kelly Sue DeConnick had a semi-seminar at a comic shop earlier this year where she made a point that you should try to wrap as much as possible up BEFORE the last page, so you have some room.  Given the hole I’d dug myself with this script, there wasn’t a lot of room.  I tried to have a short story type twist for Billy’s quest, but it got MORE cramped by the final-final image…

6) So the story ends with the revelation that it’s a tale being read to Baby Finn and Baby Jake by Joshua the Dog-Dad.  I wanted to do this to give the story a cute moment amidst all the silliness and propose an addition to the show’s mythology — Finn and Jake learned about Billy because Joshua read them stories as kids, and this probably helped inspire them to grow up to be heroes themselves.

page 8

Acknowledging the page was already cramped in the script, I initially wrote this scene as optional, but regular AT comic writer Ryan North said that as the writer, I should  say whether something was in the story or not, and that the scene was good and deserved to be in there.  I still like it, but wish that I’d found a way to give it more room to breathe and sink in.  I did like having a nice, placid moment to end all the craziness of the story.

Brad wanted an extra panel to contain Joshua’s final rant and suggested an exterior shot of the house.  In the episode “Memory of a Memory,” Finn’s childhood home is depicted as a different place, but there’s no exterior shots of it.  We figured that since “Dad’s Dungeon” showed that Joshua had built a dungeon near the Tree Fort and hid a holo-viewer in its attic, perhaps the Dog family had moved there or leased it from previous owner Marceline (that’d be a fun story to tell).  It’s a cheat, but the story does play fast and loose with AT mythology in the interest of including cameos anyway.

So now you know…too much of the story.  Hope you liked it, and hopefully I’ll have a few more comics finished in 2014, with both Brad and others among the Finest Artists Known to Man!

Doing a clean-up and wanted to link some recent work.  I got to talk with some really brilliant people for a couple places.  My ego is inflated!

A chat with BONE Creator Jeff Smith on his work and being a self-publisher in the 1990s

Got to talk with Caldecott Winner David Wiesner on his new book MR. WUFFLES!

Here’s a (very quick) interview I did with George A. Romero on his new EMPIRE OF THE DEAD miniseries.

A talk with Elizabeth George, creator of INSPECTOR LYNLEY

THE DARK IS RISING Author Susan Cooper on her new book and the power of her series

Peter Milligan and Brendan McCarthy on the New Dark Horse Retrospective of their work, Pt.1

Milligan and McCarthy, Pt.2

Richard Kadrey on Sandman Slim and KILL CITY BLUES

A Very Silly Piece with Jonathan Hickman and Mike Costa on GOD IS DEAD.

QUANTUM AND WOODY Creators Christopher Priest and M.D. Bright talk returning to the characters

A recap of a BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES Anniversary Panel from San Diego Comic-Con

As anyone who knows me knows, I’m sort of a sociopathic fan of Cartoon Network’s series ADVENTURE TIME.  It represents something truly imaginative, inventive and spontaneous — not to mention fun!

Having recently gotten to do AN ACTUAL ADVENTURE TIME STORY for issue #20 of the KaBOOM! ADVENTURE TIME comic (order it here!) , I thought I’d share with you some of the best pieces from my collection of ADVENTURE TIME art.  My full collection is online in this gallery.

Here are some of the best pieces, with commentary.

First, I’ve been lucky enough to get some art from many of the talented people who work on the show, including creator Pendleton Ward…

Jake, Finn and Lumpy Space Princess by Pen Ward

,,,Andy Ristaino, who’s done many of the character designs and now writes for the show….

Tart Toter

…and a couple pieces by Jesse Moynihan, who’s written/storyboarded many of the most surreal episodes and does the FORMING webcomic.  Here’s a piece Jesse did of the Ancient Psychic Tandem War Elephant, one of my favorite one-off characters from the show.

War Elephant

I also did a trade with Jesse for one of the most unique pieces in my collection.  With each new episode that airs, the writers/artists on the show do a unique drawing they post on the show’s Tumblr that relates to the events of the episode.  This is from “Reign of Gunters” (originally “Gunthers”) showing Finn reading the pick-up artist book “Mind Games” by “J.T. Dawgzone” (later changed to “Jay T. Doggzone.”  This includes the only known appearance of “Dawgzone” to date, on the book’s back cover.

Reign of Gunters

And here is Marceline the Vampire Queen by Rebecca Sugar, who wrote/storyboarded many of the best Marceline episodes (“It Came From the Nightosphere,” “What was Missing,” “I Remember You,” “Simon and Marcy”) and also wrote many of Marceline’s songs.  Sugar has left the series to do her own show, the upcoming STEVEN UNIVERSE, but it was a great thrill to get a piece from one of the creators who helped define this character and created some of the show’s most emotional moments.  This is also signed by Olivia Olson, the voice of Marceline.

Rebecca Sugar Marceline

Marceline has been one of the characters artists most want to draw from the show.  One of the first pieces I got for my collection was a drawing of her by Kate Beaton, the genius cartoonist behind HARK! A VAGRANT.  It is also signed by Olivia Olson.

Beaton Olson Marceline

Here’s a walnut-ink commission of Marceline by Ethan Nicolle, creator of the webcomic and animated series AXE COP.

Marceline Nicolle

And here’s Marceline by Brandon Graham of Image Comics’ PROPHET and such surreal SF delights as KING CITY and MULTIPLE WARHEADS.

Brandon Graham

A very nice piece of Marceline and Jake by Nathasha Allgeri, who created Fionna and Cake for ADVENTURE TIME and did the amazing short BEE AND PUPPYCAT for Cartoon Hangover on YouTube.

 

Natasha Marceline

And I just got this stunning commission by Robbi Rodriguez, where Marceline rocks out big time.

20130917184952-page-001

In addition, it’s been great fun getting artists with a wide variety of styles to bring those styles to the different characters from the show.

For example, Chester Brown, whose tales often deal with very, very dysfunctional looks at relationships, did a dynamite job with this melancholy Ice King.

Chester Brown Ice King

Brown’s good friend and contemporary Seth, who beautifully captures a wintry sense of melancholy in his work, brought a nice dignity to Ice King’s human alter ego, Simon Petrikov.

Seth

James Harren, who does more horror/fantasy type work, blew me away with this terrifying take on Marceline’s Dad, Hunson Abadeer.

James Harren Marceline's Dad

Ramon Perez did an unforgettably gross variation on Ricardio, the Heart Guy.

Ramon Perez Ricardio

Here’s a wry Ancient Psychic Tandem War Elephant by Jennifer Hayden…

Ancient Psychic Tandem War Elephant by Jennifer Hayden

…and a super-adorable Buff Baby Finn by Katie Cook, who writes the MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC comic.

Buff Baby Finn by Katie Cook

Becky Dreistadt, who does the amazing TINY KITTEN TEETH comic, did this beautiful Fionna and Cake, and has gone on to do a number of stories and covers for the AT comic.

IMG_0031

And Lucy Knisley, who’s done some Fionna and Cake comics, did this very sweet piece.

Lucy Knisley

Jeffrey Brown did this take on BMO “playing with itself”…

Jeffrey Brown Beemo

…while Andy Runton of OWLY did this piece of BMO playing with Jake and Lady Rainicorn’s offspring.  PUPPIES!

Andy Runton BMO

Tom Fowler, who does all sorts of surreal fantasy characters, did a hulking take on Billy the hero.

Tom Fowler Billy

And Jeremy Bastian of CURSED PIRATE GIRL did this nasty Ice Queen, which was colored by Beck Seashols.

Ice Queen

Janet K. Lee of RETURN OF THE DAPPER MEN brought her dapper style to Peppermint Butler, her favorite character from the show.

Dapper Peppermint Butler by Janet Lee

And Pen Ward himself praised this piece of the Earl of Lemongrab by Jeff Lemire, who did a most ACCEPTABLE! job.

Earl of Lemongrab by Jeff Lemire

The Lich (or the Lich King, as originally pitched), is very popular with creators who have a more horror-based style, as his countenance of PURE EVIL really lets them do some nightmarish work.

This is by Charles P. Wilson III of THE STUFF OF LEGEND.

LItch King by Charles Paul Wilson III

This one is by Nathan Fox, and hews closer to the character’s animated design.

Nthan Fox Lich King

Duncan Fegredo, who’s done many of the Hellboy comics with Mike Mignola, combined a few different looks for this grayscale commission.

Fegredo Litch King

And Ted Naifeh of COURTNEY CRUMRIN did one with its roots in classic mythology — there’s sort of a folktale, Middle Ages quality to this one.

Ted Naifeh Lich King

And finally, here’s Finn and Jake themselves by the Spanish cartoonist Liniers.  This just makes me happy!

Liniers

I’ve gotten a lot of great pieces, though I might stop soon — my personal goal is 200 different artists, and I’m already up to about 180! (there’s a few repeat artists and a couple updated/colored pieces in my gallery)

Again, you can check out my full collection of stuff here!

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