Jared Cullum brings gorgeous watercolors to his graphic novel ‘Kodi’

Jared Cullum became fascinated by comic books because of comics like Blankets, but he also got really into watercolor painting. 

“I got totally absorbed in art history and painting, and then it just sort of became an obsession,” Cullum said. 

As he delved more and more into studying and practicing watercolor painting, he pursued how he could “explore that stuff and really get lost in it and discover something,” he said, “or find something I can bring back to comics that might be a bit different.” 

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Hot off an anthology of his ‘J&K’ comics, John Pham is nearing completion of a new issue of Epoxy

In his 20s, John Pham used to have a Fantagraphics promotional poster on his wall featuring artwork from classic cartoonists like Robert Crumb. He’d stare at it every day. 

When Pham originally started creating his one-man anthology comic series Epoxy in 1999, he didn’t have the confidence to submit it to publishers, but worked on it anyway, helped a great deal by a grant he received from the Xeric Foundation. He dreamed of Fantagraphics publishing his work. 

Earlier this year, Fantagraphics published an anthology of his current flagship comic strip J&K, one of the ongoing comics featured in Epoxy

“It was definitely a full-circle moment for me,” Pham said. 

Though he works a full-time animation gig while raising two young children with his wife in Los Angeles, Pham still finds time to continue his comics work through Epoxy

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Gabrielle Bell and her uncomfortable, cathartic process of making auto-biographical comics

Gabrielle Bell makes comics mainly about her life, and she doesn’t pick the most flattering or positive anecdotes. 

“Sometimes I’ve done some comics where I’m like, ‘this is going to totally make everyone appalled at me and just disgusted,’” Bell said. “And then it turned out people loved it and felt seen and recognized, and it brought people and myself together, and that’s encouraged me to explore it even more.” 

Bell has found success in illustrating comics about embarrassing or unpleasant moments of her life, combining honesty with anthropomorphic animals and other silly bits of fantasy to keep things light.  Continue reading

‘30 Rock’ and ‘Modern Family’ writer creating a comic with France-based artist about conspiracies and genius animals

Vali Chandrasekaran has made a name for himself as a writer on popular comedy television shows like 30 Rock and Modern Family. He’s wanted to write a comic for much of his life partly because of the intense freedom comic book creators have compared to other mediums.

“You just put your comic out into the world. It’s just what you want to make,” Chandrasekaran said. “You don’t need to convince other people… to raise the money to shoot a $500,000 or million dollar independent movie. I like how when you go to a comic store how weird it is.”

With France-based artist Jun-Pierre Shiozawa, Chandrasekaran decided to self-publish a comic called Genius Animals?, a comedy about a woman who gets wrapped up in a massive, genius-animals-related conspiracy after her boyfriend mysteriously disappears.

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Pat Grant, ‘The Grot,’ and the difficult, demanding task of creating a graphic novel

About eight years ago, Australian cartoonist Pat Grant started writing his graphic novel The Grot. He started the comic primarily channeling a fascination in con-artistry, but ended up finding himself interested in so many more aspects of the comic and its story. 

“As it happens when you’re telling stories, you become interested in it on its own terms and each of the individual characters on their own terms and it becomes something very human,” Grant said. “If you’re doing your job right.” 

The Grot, released in the United States by published Top Shelf Productions in June this year, is a 200-page graphic novel about two brothers navigating a world of con-artists in a dystopia brought about by a plague. Continue reading

Australian cartoonist Chris Gooch and his upcoming graphic novel ‘Under-Earth’

Chris Gooch loves the thick spine on his upcoming, nearly 600 page graphic novel Under-Earth

“That was a fantasy,” Gooch said. “I wanted to have a book that if you threw it at somebody and you hit them with it, it would really hurt.”

This upcoming book, slated for release in October, marks the third book published by Top Shelf Productions from Gooch, an Australia-based indie cartoonist who has done a wide variety of both short and long form comics that run the gamut on style, format and subject matter.  Continue reading

Max Clotfelter and his journey becoming a respected, talented cartoonist

As an adolescent, Max Clotfelter would make crude, extreme and offensive comics that alarmed the adults around him. 

“I had a hard time making friends at school, so making these filthy, transgressive comics was a cheap way to get attention,” Clotfelter said in an interview with Sequential Stories

As he grew older, he stopped making dark and weird comics that were crude and offended for the sake of offending, but he didn’t stop making dark and weird comics. 

Today, Clotfelter dips in autobiographical, dystopian and psychedelic storytelling styles to create his cool, funny and bizarre comics.

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Keiler Roberts and her autobiographical comic series ‘Powdered Milk’

Keiler Roberts doesn’t like to keep secrets. 

“To me, if I have a personal secret, like when I was pregnant… for a while, it’s a secret, and nobody knows, but there’s this huge thing about you that you can’t stop thinking about,” Roberts said. “Everything feels like that to me. It just destroys me not to tell people.” 

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Through the medium of comics, Roberts tells funny, melancholy autobiographical stories about her life, exploring her relationship with her family, mental illness and a lot more. 

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Allison Conway’s bleak, wordless debut graphic novel ‘The Lab’

Allison Conway studied illustration in college. Her college offered illustration and comics classes in the same building, and she didn’t decide to try a comics class until her final semester. 

“I just kind of had this moment where I was like: ‘What am I doing? I’m about to graduate, and I didn’t even try comics,’” Conway said. 

With the help of that class, she came up with the pitch for The Lab, her haunting, wordless debut graphic novel about exploitation, which was released this year and published by Top Shelf Productions.

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Alex Graham makes weird, personal and spiritual comics

8D88E2EB-664E-4214-972F-2F87E5382865Early on, Alex Graham made comics by accident. 

“I didn’t know it at the time, but when I was a kid, I was kind of making comics without knowing they were comics,” Graham said. “I would draw a picture of my day and then narrate it underneath. So I always had an urge to tell stories and to illustrate them.” 

Today, the 32-year-old, Seattle-based artist paints and creates independent comics like Angloid, which follows a painter with some experiences strikingly similar to Graham’s – along with some cosmic alien encounters.

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