There will probably be a few more which I will announce when con season gets closer, but these are the ones confirmed as of now. The only book I have out this year is Bigfoot Boy 3 in the fall, so I’m taking it easy on conventions and concentrating on my work. :)
I've never read Excalibur, but I know both you and Rachel Edidin are fans. What makes it good, and what's a good place to start with it?
Excalibur, at its best, is exactly what I want out of a superhero comic: it’s weird, it’s funny, it’s touching, it’s exciting, it’s suspenseful, it’s beautiful to look at, it makes the world seem like it might just be cooler than it seems. It’s not just a British X-Men; it’s really its own thing altogether, but, again, at its best, it has a very British tenor to it. I mean, I’m not British so maybe someone will correct me, but the really good stuff feels like classic Doctor Who or Hitchhiker’s Guide, but with Nightcrawler in it. Big ideas, big laughs, big action, and interesting, well-defined characters. Plus, when Alan Davis is drawing it, there’s no beating it for beauty.
(Sidenote: here’s something I don’t think Alan Davis gets enough credit for. Look at this cover:
Look at Kitty, Rachel and Meggan on this cover. Yes, all three are drawn as beautiful, superheroic women, but they have three very distinct body types. It’s maybe not as evident from just this cover, but if you read the book, you’ll see, you could identify the three female leads of this book from silhouette alone. Hell, this is true of the men, too.)
Here’s what I would recommend to get the most out of it:
Captain Britain by Alan Moore and Alan Davis: This is actually out of print, but Amazon has new and used copies for reasonable prices. This is very early Alan Moore, busting out big ideas early, with a few concepts that foreshadow some of his later work. There is some Cap stuff before this, but it’s a little harder to get (I don’t have it sadly), and I’m not 100% sure on how worth the effort or expense it would be. But this collection introduces ideas that will be paying off throughout many storylines later, such as the Captain Britain Corps, Saturnyne, the Technet, Mad Jim Jaspers, and the Fury, among others.
Captain Britain by Jamie Delano and Alan Davis:This is WAY out of print, but Amazon’s got some cheap copies in new condition, so I say snap it up. The stories aren’t quite as mind-twisting as in the previous volume, but this picks up where it left off and introduces some important ideas, such as Captain Britain’s brother, Jamie Braddock, and his sister, whom you might have heard of (she is on the X-Men [her name is Psylocke]).
Ugh, it looks like these are basically all out of print, but available for affordable prices, so, uh, still get them.
Excalbur Classic vol 1: This run of trades collects the original Excalbur series by Chris Claremont and Alan Davis. It picks up a lot of elements from the Captain Britain series, but also introduces some X-Men elements, like a hilarious Juggernaut encounter and some weird Inferno shit. This is good Claremont.
Excalbur Classic vol 3: This is the first part of the Cross-Time Caper, which is a story about Excalbur traveling through different dimensions on a train. It kind of goes off the rails (no pun), but kind of in a good way almost?
Excalbur Classic vol 4: This wraps up the Cross-Time Caper. There is another volume of Excalbur Classic after this. Do not get it. Instead, skip to…
~~~ALAN DAVIS EXCALIBUR~~~
Excalibur Visionaries Alan Davis vol 1: This, to me, is Excalbur at its Excaliburiest best. Alan Davis returns to the book on art AND takes over the writing. The book just boils over with charm and wit and swashbucklery in this era. Just so dear to my heart.
Excalibur Visionaries Warren Ellis vol 1: So there was a period of a couple of years where Excalibur got SUPER 90s X-Men-y, unfortunately. So we will skip those years to the point where a young(er) Warren Ellis took over the book. The feel is completely different from Davis’s stuff, but it is still cool and interesting. He introduces Pete Wisdom, who is Ellis’s typical chain-smoking self-insert, but he uses him to tell some pretty exciting sci-fi-tinged stories. This run came out when X-Files was hot, and it shows.
Excalbur Visionaries Warren Ellis vol 2: The art in Ellis’s run can be hit or miss (though there is cool Sienkiewicz stuff here and there throughout), but I think this is the point when Carlos Pacheco takes over as regular artist, and his stuff looks great.
Wisdom MAX mini-series by Paul Cornell and Trevor Hairsine: This fun little series is not Excalibur per se, but it stars Pete Wisdom and does some work to expand the universe of Marvel’s Britain. At times it reads like the first comics work of a person coming from other media (which it is), but the highs outweigh the lows, in my opinion. Also, this series leads in a roundabout way to…
Captain Britain and MI:13 vol 1 by Cornell and Leonard Kirk: This is the spiritual successor to Excalibur, though many of the characters and elements that made that series great are replaced with characters and elements that are cool in different ways. This is probably one of the three or four best stories to come out of Secret Invasion, for what that’s worth.
Captain Britain and MI:13 vol 3: And this one wraps up the series, taken from us too soon. Yes, this is the famous “Dracula on the moon” story. Even though Dr McNinja wore it better, this is still a creative team going, “Fuck you, this is comics, we’re going to have some goddamn fun.”
Anyway, check those out and I guarantee you will have a cool fun time, pip pip cheerio.
ahh sorry if you got this question before but I'm really stoked that you're coming to TCAF! Could I ask which books and stuff you'll be bringing?
I’m not sure exactly, but I will probably have copies of my recent books available. So: Friends with Boys, Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, Superhero Girl, Bigfoot Boy and The Last of Us: American Dreams. I’ll be sharing a table with my boyfriend Tim, who will have his collection of his webcomic Mush a Mush for sale.
Whew, that’s a lot! Kinda debating whether or not to bring original art to sell, but it’s so cumbersome …
Hi there, I'm a Canadian cartoonist interested in applying for some grants to make comics. I've heard that you have received some grants (apart from the now discontinued Xeric) to make comics and I was wondering if you could specify which ones, or talk a little bit about the process? Thanks a whole bunch!
The Canadian government has several grant programs to support the arts within Canada. I’ve gotten grants to make comics at both the provincial and federal level. These allowed me to continue working full time in comics during a very shaky financial period in my life.
The federal grant program in Canada is overseen by the Canada Council for the Arts. They support a variety of work from dance to sculpture to prose to comics. I’m actually not sure of all of the varieties they support, but it’s quite a lot. The grant for Creative Writing includes graphic novels, so if you are a cartoonist, you can apply for a grant to work on a comic. However, there are eligibility criteria to fulfill, so make sure you read that carefully to find out if your work is actually eligible for a grant.
The provincial grant programs vary from province to province. I got one from the Nova Scotia Communities, Cultures & Heritage grant program, to write and draw Friends with Boys. I would suggest googling to see what kind of grants are available to you in your province. I tend to suspect that there are less applicants on a provincial level; the Canada Arts Council is well know, and competition to get a grant is very strong at that level.
As for actually getting a grant, my advice is to make your application as strong as possible. If you are applying to do a graphic novel, include samples of that graphic novel, so the people on the grant jury can see your work and see what you want to achieve. Ask for the maximum amount of money available to your category, as you don’t get points for asking for less. Also, the grant jury changes every year, so if you fail to get a grant with a certain project, you can re-apply with that same project at a later date and it may be successful. But remember to make your application as strong as possible! You are pitching people on the merit of your work, and asking them to invest financially in it.
I see an average amount of people on tumblr go to these things called "sketch-groups" but don't really know what they are or where to find them. What are they, and how do I go about finding them?
It’s just a group of people going out and drawing together. I’m lucky enough to have a few friends who like meeting up on Saturdays to sketch at a local coffeeshop (which doesn’t mind us hanging out there for 3 hours). It’s really fun to do, because it allows me to see my friends on a regular basis (which is especially important for me since I work at home and hardly see other people), and gives me a chance to draw outside of work.
As for finding a sketchgroup, I basically started my own and was fortunate to have friends who wanted to be involved. There is something called Sketchcrawl, but that’s a little too formal for me. I just like sitting around with my artist friends, doodling stuff and eating delicious baked goods. You might want to see if you have friends who are interested in starting a sketchgroup, or maybe google for one in your city. I really enjoy mine.
I'm sure at the moment you're fully investing your time in the Nameless City, but are you still planning on possibly going back to Superhero Girl someday?
I love Superhero Girl and I’d love to do more with her. There should be a short comic with her in the second True Patriot anthology, but other than that, it’s pretty unlikely I’ll draw more of her comics this year. Too much on my plate, sadly.
I’m trying to make sure 2014 won’t be a repeat of 2013, which was a fantastic year but so busy I gave myself into a knee injury by over-exercising due to stress. And let me tell you, physiotherapy is not cheap. :P