[Interview] Eric Stephenson – Image of the Future

If you’re a regular passenger of Spaceship OL, you know that we love us some comic books. As a crew of over-caffeinated pop-culture junkies who’ve read, watched, heard, and played all of the standards, what we also love are new ideas. Needless to say, we get especially jazzed up when we come across comic books that’re filled to the brim with the unconventional, the experimental, or even just the atypical.

Unfortunately, if you know anything about comics it’s that most of `em are just re-tellings of the same stories that’ve been around for years. You think the Big Two are primarily concerned with novelty and innovation? Then why did DC just retcon its continuity for the six-billionth time? Why is the current crux of the Marvel universe another battle between its heroes?

Something’s rotten in the state of funnybooks.

However, there are those who’re doing their best to push the limits of the paneled medium. These artists and writers dedicate their livelihoods to creating quality comics that take chances with their characters, settings, themes, compositions, and structures. And in the current comics climate, it seems that Image Comics is a nexus of creativity.

I reached out to Image publisher Eric Stephenson in the hopes of getting his thoughts on a few questions concerning the state of the medium. To my surprise, he responded! Huzzah! Behold the power of the Internet!

Hit the hyperspace button to check out what Stephenson had to say about dwindling readership, adaptations, digital comics, Pepsi-Cola, and more!

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[Interview] Brandon Graham – Crackin’ Comics

Last fall, Caffeine Powered started telling me about a comics creator by the name of Brandon Graham. He told me that he was hooked to this Graham fellow’s blog, as it featured some absolutely mind-bending artwork. Always the petulant younger brother, I scoffed at Caff-Pow’s suggestion that I visit aforementioned blog, and returned to my regularly scheduled activities (which probably consisted of drinking beers, listening to Mastodon, and playing Mario Kart).

At the time, the name Brandon Graham was whisked away to the mental data file I’ve labeled The Zillions of Things Caffeine Powered’s Tried to Foist Onto Me.

But by mid-January, the file was retrieved and brought to the forefront of my mindscape. After all, this is when Prophet #21 dropped. This comic – a relaunch of an early 90s Rob Liefeld series — massaged naughty regions of my nerd-mind that’d gone chaste for years. The panels before me contained images of kooky monster-beasts and bio-technology and gritty action, presenting them with a multicolored urbanity. After mainlining this single issue, I was addicted to John Prophet’s post-cryostasis adventures.

And when I realized Brandon Graham was the scribe of Prophet? Well, I called up Caffeine Powered and told him, “Goddamn dude, you weren’t joking.”

To atone for my sins, I reached out to Brandon Graham to see if he’d be willing to share some thoughts with Omega-Level. In the following interview, Graham reflects on inspirations old and new, teases prospective releases, and reaffirms the adage that the greatest rogues rock eyepatches.

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[Interview] Dragotta Check It Out!

Last week, I described Fantastic Four #588 as one of the emotionally charged comics I’ve ever read, a single issue that pulls on the heartstrings in ways that most superhero books just don’t. Ever. Moreover, I found the book to be an especially affective insight into the loss of a loved one because of its omission of narration, dialogue, and exposition. Instead, the reader must tacitly absorb the death of Johnny Storm through Nick Dragotta’s art.

I was so impressed by Dragotta’s work that I visited his website, hoping to learn more. And while his blog is definitely worth checking out, it just wasn’t enough for me. Ravenous, I decided to ask him for an interview. To my delight, he obliged.

What follows are Nick Dragotta’s incredibly candid, insightful, and entertaining answers to my buffoonish questions. More than just a skilled artist (and he definitely is), Dragotta proves to be a down-to-earth chum and all-around decent human being.

And he’s also a fan of Anderson Silva, which is sure to earn him points in Caffeine Powered’s book. Keep Reading »

[Interview] Entering Magical Mystery Chambers

The year is 2010. Some of the best musicians we’ve got are kids with laptops who consume too many energy drinks. Welcome to the future — I hope you enjoy your stay.

Personally, I love mashups. I find the the concept of combining components of different songs to create a new cohesive whole both intriguing and inspired.

I’m intrigued by the notion that two pieces of music, completely unlike in terms of theme and style, can be rummaged for parts and brought together to make a third entity. How can this be? Could it be that what we perceive as differences are no more than manifestations of our own shortsightedness? Could we all be much more connected than we usually think? Could the universal appeal of art be the answer to bridging social gaps? I fucking hope so.

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[Interview] The Alaya Conscious

There is nothing in this world quite like good music. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of all media, but good music inspires me in a way that television, comic books, and even movies just don’t. I haven’t studied sociology or anthropology or any such shit, but I’m thoroughly convinced that music taps into some sort of primordial, tribal pleasure center of human beings. As though, in a sense, it might be one of the few comment elements that every member of Team Human can enjoy.

Whoa. Looks like I’ve tossed aside the cynic cap and fastened on my hippie helmet.

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[Interview] Barbara Ciardo’s True Colors

If you haven’t been reading DC’s Wednesday Comics then you’re either stupid or crazy. Provided you’re not both, go to your local comic shop right now buy as many of them as you can. Yes, they’re that good.

Those of you who have been picking up this weekly treat have probably already decided which strips are worthwhile and which aren’t. To me, the only real toss-away strips are Metal Men (apparently DiDio writes an interesting story about as well as he edits), Teen Titans, and (until last week, anyways) Caldwell’s Wonder Woman. Other than that, we’re talking straight-up comic-book masterpieces.

One of these masterpieces is Superman. The story is simple enough — Superman is having some sort of existential crisis and he travels about while trying to figure out what it all means. The execution, however, is perfect. Arcudi’s writing and Bermejo’s pencils depict Kal-El as both iconic and humanly relatable. Kudos to them.

But what I find most breathtaking about this comic are the colors. When I fold open the newspaper-style strip, my eyes explode and nearly knock the lenses out of my glasses. I don’t even know what to write…the colors of this Superman strip are just perfect. Vibrant, warm, welcoming, heavenly.

So once I realized that I was in love with the colors, I decided to contact the woman responsible: Barbara Ciardo.

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