I met writer Kelly Sue Milano and artist Lisa K Weber at this years Fan Fest sponsored by Phoenix Comic Con. They were nestled in a remote corner of the Arizona Cardinals Stadium in Glendale Arizona, the headquarters for this years event. Their booth was tricked out with framed images of the characters from HEX 11, hanging on a bright backdrop that was exquisitely decorated with shimmering scarves (a focal point in issue #1)…clever marketing. My wife and I were greeted by the books producer/editor/hype woman Lynly Forrest. She was amazing to us and wasted no time telling us what they had created.
In the world of Hex11, humans have just discovered they are capable of Magic. As society moves from the Digital Age into this new Magic Age, the powers that be within the deepest reaches of the government are concealing what they know, seeing an opportunity to assert a new level of control. Those who practice Magic without registration become fugitives of the law and are displaced to The Hex, a borough on the outskirts of Pyrian.
Hex11 follows one young woman, Elanor, as she navigates her life in The Hex and her studies apprenticing Vera, the Hex’s most powerful witch. She is eager to learn all she can in order to help those who flood into The Hex looking for refuge. When an ordinary errand finds her in the midst of a magical firefight, she realizes her powers are much stronger than she thought – and that Magic may not be as novel as they once imagined…
Like a cross between Neo Tokyo and that dystopian Los Angeles from Blade Runner, HEX 11 establishes itself as a Neo-Medeval read. Our leads are strong women, not unlike those you might’ve read about in history books or books of yore.
They have power, which gives them all the edge they need in this ever changing and fantastic landscape. Their spells resembles circuit boards, but with strange symbols embedded throughout, an obvious testament to the time this is taking place. A time when technology and witchcraft are one.
In this issue, Eleanor (our lead), is the new Alice in Wonderland, minus the naivety. She’s a promising heroine/student with a spirit of adventure as she circumvents some of HEX’s more seedier and wondrous alleys in search of a scarf for her teacher (Vera Wyck). Vera is clearly powerful, but is prone to foolery at her students expense. It’s a clever trope, the wise sage with a sense of humor. Yoda, Mr. Miyagi, Pai Mei, are all examples of this, but guess what? All of the aforementioned worked like gangbusters!
Is it too early to tell if this will work for HEX 11? Yes, but I love where their relationship is headed.
It’s on this quest for the scarf that she stumbles upon an exchange that she wasn’t meant to see. Booth, one of the HEX’s black market dealers, is approached by Osrick, a demon from The Verge (a dreamlike dimension between the living world and Oblivion) for an item known as “The Matter”. Eleanor recognizes the demon as someone who may have been involved in the disappearance/death of her sister Clara (now an angry spirit roaming The Verge and hellbent on revenge) and steps in to help.
Let’s just say some spectacular magic ensues.
Without giving away everything this 24 page issue has to offer, I will say HEX11 #1 is a wonderful take on the fantasy genre. It’s characters are solid, the art work is beautiful and full of life and the writing is complete and filled with unique arches and interesting turns.
It’s very refreshing to see the ladies stepping up and not being relegated to writing or drawing for male- driven mainstream comics. Lord knows we have plenty of them already.
The HEX 11 world is honest and free of misogyny and fake female power and is further proof that women have what it takes to write a marketable and positive comic book!
More info on HEX11:
2 years after the release of their debut album Shrines, Purity Ring’s Megan James and Corin Roddick are back with another outstanding track called Push Pull. The track has all the noticeable Purity Ring sounds, but with a tad more pop thrown in for good measure. Chances are this will be the only track on the album that sounds like this, hence the reason they are letting everyone hear it. Then, I imagine, it will take a turn down that hollowed out log leading to Pan’s Labyrinth or..this could be a really poppy album, either way, we are ready! I want to produce tracks like this!! I’m excited about the future!!
The teaser for Jurassic World arrived today with the full trailer promising to hit televisions on Thanksgiving. The teaser looks a bit like the old, but with some new things here and there. It looks as though Hammond has tricked out the park just a bit more, before departing. Not a whole lot to see here, but it promises much.
Jurassic World is directed by Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed), who rewrote the script with Derek Connolly from an earlier draft by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes). No plot details are available yet, but the film has been said to feature a new operational dinosaur theme park, just as John Hammond imagined over 20 years ago. The cast includes Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Nick Robinson, Jake Johnson, Ty Simpkins, Vincent D’Onofrio, Irrfan Khan and B.D. Wong, reprising his original role from Jurassic Park. Universal Pictures releases the film June 12th, 2015.
Late last year there was talks about a live action version of the anime hit Attack On Titan currently in production, well director Shinji Higuchi and producer Yoshihiro Sato, have released these epic character posters for the film and they look amazing!!! I don’t know if you have ever seen the anime AOT, but it’s very interesting and as vast as Game of Thrones. I for one, can’t wait for “this version” to arrive in the states!! Stay tuned cause I smell a trailer in the not-to-distant future!
The cast includes seven characters that are new to the film versions of the story. Sanspo reports that Hasegawa’s character Shikishima holds the key to the film’s story as “humanity’s strongest man.”
On the cast selection, producer Yoshihiro Sato said he did not pay as much attention to whether or not the cast members looked like the original characters. Instead, he had many discussions with Attack on Titan manga creator Hajime Isayama and went with actors who could act out the “characters’ spirits.”
The films’ director Shinji Higuchi confirmed that the project will span two films and stated that, with the supervision of Isayama, the story will be based on the world and characters of the manga, while incorporating new characters and new formidable enemies. Yuusuke Watanabe (Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, live-action Gantz, Gantz II: Perfect Answer, 20th Century Boys, Gatchaman) is writing the script. Film critic Tomohiro Machiyama, who is also friends with Isayama, is working on the scripts together with Isayama and Watanabe.
Artist Sacha Goldberger reimagines fanboy heroes as Elizabethan citizens and the result is astounding
This is an interesting take on the re-imagined. Artist Sacha Goldberger brings the Shakespearean vibe to our most beloved heroes of Star Wars, Marvel and DC lore and the result is breathtaking!!! You’ll notice that most of these are the actual characters from the films/movies. How it was done so seamlessly is beyond me, but it’s what sets this series aside from the usual fan art. Enjoy!
I had the pleasure of meeting Nathan Smith at this years Phoenix Comic Con. Seated humbly at his booth, he had that look. You know the one that reads “give my comic book a shot”? The decision to stop wasn’t a hard one, seeing as how he was easy to talk to and his art work was fascinating, but what struck me was the voice of the book and how it asked questions that so few “mainstream” comics ask. Lightening Dog is more modern art than comic book. Weighing in at fifty two pages, the book is filled with outstanding art, but here’s the catch…no dialog. Albeit he’s not the first to attempt this, having done so, it speaks volumes about his determination to engage his audience on another level and he’s done just that with Lightning Dog.
MITNG: What got you into comics?
NS: To be honest, I wasn’t into comics for a very long time. Growing up, I thought comic books were all about macho superheroes in spandex, and I really couldn’t get into that. I remember, at some point, going to my local Borders and discovering the Flight anthologies, the Hellboy series, and a few other books that showed me comic books didn’t have to be about characters with tight suits and capes, and made it all much more interesting for me. When the time came that I liked my own style enough to illustrate a story of my own, I immediately began drawing a comic, and it turned into my first story: Lightning Dog.
NS: I think the comparison’s appropriate and exciting! I very rarely use text in my stories. Hearing friends and strangers summarize what they see on each page as they’re going through Lightning Dog or any other of my comics is always really fun because everyone sees something different in what I’ve drawn. The coolest thing about cave drawings to me is imagining what a prehistoric person must have been thinking and experiencing while they were drawing the things he or she was drawing. Was it for posterity? Was it just for fun? Was it part of a ceremony? I love how what persists about cave drawings are the feelings of the artist. You don’t need to know the artist’s name or why the piece was made, but you’re able to connect to the past with it. If I even remotely connect to people in that way, I consider myself very fortunate!
MITNG: What prompted you to write Lightning Dog?
NS: It was initially based on a single, incomplete doodle that I made of this insane looking dog just kind of plummeting through space. It didn’t initially mean anything, but I loved the energy of it, and, when I decided to make a test comic to see if I could make something that I thought looked good, I created the first two pages of Lightning Dog, not even knowing that it would become the 50-page story that it is now. I received such positive feedback about how it looked from my friends that I decided to run with it, and, inevitably, my fascination with physics and cosmology helped quantum mechanics become the theme for each character and their interactions.
MITNG: You speak about “entanglement” in the epilogue of Lightning Dog. Are the characters in this book, meant to be, more like atoms and quarks, than actual Gods?
NS: Exactly! I mean, far be it from me to tell anyone what the story is “really about,” because I really like when people interpret it for themselves, but, in my head, the various characters are definitely interacting with each other the same way subatomic particles do. A lot of my comics, secretly, are scientific metaphors.
MITNG: Do you consider yourself a spiritual man?
NS: In a sense, I do. My current employment is working as a research assistant in an astronomy lab at Arizona State University en route to obtaining a graduate degree in systems engineering, so my worldview tends to be fairly scientific. It bothers me, however, when pragmatism replaces imagination, and I think it’s very important to not get caught up with being so “scientific” that you can’t let yourself dream up fantastic, unrealistic things. In that sense, my “spirituality” is an exercise in opening myself up to thinking outside of the box, and I believe this has helped me be a more successful science researcher.
MITNG: What comic books are you currently reading?
NS: Ever since I started self-publishing, I’ve really gotten into the books from smaller publishers like Koyama Press, Breakdown Press, and many more. I love to follow artists like Michael DeForge, Joe Kessler, and others because I really like what they put out regularly. I most recently picked up a science fiction / fantasy themed series of comics called Ovoyyamar by Alan Brown. He also makes wordless stories and has a really cool style!
MITNG: Having looked at Lightning Dog, I can say, with all certainty, that it’s one of the most abstract comic books I’ve ever read and required me to lean on my limited knowledge of mythological tropes to decipher some of it’s meaning. Did you intend for it to be an exercise in transcendentalism?
NS: I wouldn’t say that I try, per se, to make a particular story hard to grasp, but I do attempt to create an interesting looking story that has some hidden depth to it. Each of my comics has some underlying themes, or “truths” in my opinion, that I made them to explore. Because each story is so self-consistent, I think readers can often see that there is something connecting each and every page, and, when they finally put their finger on it, it tends to be something different than another person. In that sense, my comics are an exercise in transcendentalism for me because, even though I tend to want to explain to people what I intended the story to be, I find my interactions with people on the matter to be infinitely more interesting when they tell me what they got out of it and I stay quiet about my intentions. I personally think it’s valuable to realize that what you or I think of as a “truth” is not something that another person thinks of as a “truth,” and a wordless comic is my way of exploring that.
MITNG: What’s next for you?
NS: Well, despite having just explained how interesting I think abstract stories are, my current project is a comic where I’m experimenting with dialogue, written exposition, and some different drawing and framing techniques. I’ve been posting that and my other projects on my website as I complete them. I’m also a game designer and had a great experience publishing my first game this past spring called Animallum, so I’m continuing that type of work as I develop two more table-top games – an RPG and a strategy game. I’ve also been considering different ways to tell stories beyond comics and games, so who knows what I’ll be putting out over the next year!
MITNG: Any films this fall you really interested in seeing?
NS: The new Hobbit movie, The Zero Theorem, Coherence, and Interstellar.
MITNG: What music are you listening to right now?
NS: I’m really hung up on Disasterpiece’s soundtrack to FEZ…so cool! Also, Daikaiju, of Montreal, Good Friends Great Enemies, and B’Kao Caerp have been looping through my headphones.
MITNG would like to thank Nathan Smith for allowing us to pick his brain. If you’d like to know more about Nathan Smith and his wonderful comics, we’ve enclosed several links to his work below.
For all of you who are fans of the Halloween films, and not those God awful Rob Zombie films, you’re gonna love this!. This was a podcast the Rotten Tomatoes team did awhile back with director John Carpenter (Escape From New York, Halloween). In it, he talks about the making of this classic horror film starring Jamie Lee Curtis. Enjoy!
John Carpenter’s Halloween Audio Commentary As a special treat for Halloween, Team Tomato recorded an audio commentary for the 1978 John Carpenter classic Halloween. Matt Atchity, Grae Drake and Kerr Lordygan are joined by Ryan Turek from Shock Till You Drop for this special edition of the podcast. Download this podcast, listen to it while watching Halloween, and it’s almost like having Team Tomato in the comfort of your own home!
Remember kids, this Halloween isn’t about having fun, but about learning all the things that make having an anal retentive parent a pure joy during the holidays. This 1977 PSA does make a lot of good points, cause everyone remembers those sadistic plastic mask that would cut the shit out of you if you cracked it, which we always did.
It’s a crazy world, but when you know how to do it right it can be fun or strange as hell. Enjoy!