Interview: Aero Zero – Men+Monsters & More

May 17, 2015 in Comic, Interview, Kink, Webcomic, Yaoi

Aero Zero is the writer and artist of some of the most gorgeous and richly coloured fantasy online right now. I was linked to their comic Men+Monsters by a friend, and read the entire thing in one hungry binge – It’s so rare to find an NSFW comic with this much creativity, design and good/realistic kink & poly representation: it’s no wonder their other works share this fantasy world; it’s has far too much potential to squeeze into a single thing.
I jumped at the chance to talk to them about it.

Aero Zero Patreon

The Interview

- So you have a LOT of comics going on at the moment. Men+Monsters, Ace of Beasts, Heart of Gold, plus your part in the Food Porn kickstarter. Just how many comics do you have out right now? And could you tell us a bit out them?

Whew I can hardly keep track myself!
I divide my work into my personal projects, Filthy Figments projects, anthology ones and colorist work.

My personal projects are currently Ace of Beasts and Men+Monsters – two yaoi comics about men and their monster / non-human companions. They’re both action-adventure fantasy romances with lots of smut, AoB being about best-friends-with-benefit in an open relationship and M+M being about a poly trio.

M+M has changed a lot since it started – I originally made it a bit serious, with a melancholy tone and a theme focused more on hurt/comfort. I played it straight until the start of Chapter 2 when I realized all the questions Silas might have (‘does he love me for me?’ etc.) and it made me want to see them answered / worked out.
I realized the characters were self-aware of their own story and maybe the genre as a whole and it fascinated me.
I think at the start of Chapter 2 I really started loving everything about M+M.

As for Ace of Beasts, I consider this one a partial reboot of another one I was doing. Some of the characters remained unused in this story, most of the male characters made the transition to this one, haha.
It’s is about two swordsmen who go on a quest to find the sorcerer who unleashed monsters upon the land to kill him and reverse a curse that turned one of them into a monster himself. It stars Xerxes, a disciplined swordsman who is soft at heart despite his bloodlust; Osric, his vain best friend-turned-monster who is driven by animalistic desires; and Lilavath, their excitable / snooty pet gryphoenix who is just happy to be around them.

Xerxes and Osric are from another comic I used to do, but they are not at all the same people from that story. This one is completely separate, and actually has a bigger story / design tie to my Filthy Figments one-shot, Heart of Gold! If you’ve read that one, you may notice a few similarities here and there.

There are some silly things happening in Ace of Beasts that have a connection to Men+Monsters. Xerxes has a collection of novels from a certain author who writes monster smut for example.
And instead of monster people and robots, there are animal people / demons as the focus of the sexual encounters in AoB ;>

The anthologies I’m in this year are Food Porn for Filthy Figments and Purity.
The Food Porn comic I’m contributing is about a monster king, his lover, and a forest god whom they have stolen Nectar (hence the title, haha) from to rejuvenate the king. He is missing an arm and an eye and has a curse that turns his body to stone. When his lover brings him the nectar and they consume it, not only are they restored to their original forms but are now highly aroused :D And you know where it goes from there. Eventually the forest deity finds them and joins in too!
For Purity, my short story is based on Men+Monsters. It’s a short comic about Lex and Silas, a nice moment that could have taken place during chapter 1, but ends in delicious knight-on-monster smut!
Both stories are in black and white but I’ll be making them in full-color anyway, since that’s how I like to work.

I currently color an ongoing superhero comic for a client. I can’t elaborate on this one too much since the story isn’t out for a while {:>

Patreon aeros comics sample small_zpsphlpqr2m

- Last month your long-running comic Kyria celebrated it’s 2nd anniversary, and declared it’s upcoming reboot. For how long had you been thinking about doing this?

Probably for about a year now. Ever since the end of Chapter 2 of Kyria, I started questioning my enjoyment of it. There are other factors that made me want to end it and ultimately, I think it was the right choice. If something’s not working, change is always a good idea.
Fun fact: Ace of Beasts started on March 17th, which would have been Kyria’s second anniversary. I did not plan this, haha.

I consider Ace of Beasts a partial reboot and a huge improvement over the original, with the other characters not included in the transition waiting for their own story.
Kyria was practice, a time capsule, and taught me how to color and paint trees – It’s more like the comic equivalent of an in-joke so it will not make a lot of sense upon re-read, haha.

 

- Kyria had some brilliant Video Game & RPG parodies in it, (Monsters that eat coins, brilliant! :D), are there any particular games that inspired you in writing it?

Xerxes actually came from the character I made for laughs – Hawke in Dragon Age 2. I love the RPG / JRPG genre in general and there’s probably some little nods to my favorites in their behavior / design.
I would say that Kyria in general was like a love letter to things I liked a long time ago, a comic to have some fun with old characters and ideas.

 

- You describe Ace of Beasts, as “another yaoi Aero always wanted to see out there”, is this because of the recurring tropes of existing Yaoi, that you wanted to read something without, or because of the content of M+M that there isn’t really much with?

The recurring tropes of existing yaoi don’t appeal to me, so I make ones I want to see instead. Lots of smut, an entertaining story, and memorable diverse characters with nice designs :D

AoB came from a desire to see a polished action-fantasy-romance with characters I loved, and lots of smut. Xerxes and Osric, along with Lex and Silas, are my favorite characters I’ve made and I wanted to do them justice. Also, Xerxes is my personal ‘most attractive human character’ and I needed to find an excuse to draw him again, haha.

Ace of Beasts differs from M+M in that the focus of their sexual encounters outside their partnership features a different set of ‘species’, and the setting is different, and the main characters’ personalities / kinks are pretty different from M+M’s.
Xerxes and Osric are a little more disciplined than Lex’s group, but their flaws are definitely just as bad / funny to me, haha.

aero zero avis

- Your art style is so FULL of gorgeous design! With characters like those from the upcoming Filthy Figments comic, Avis, how and when do you start adding the body art – is is tribe or species specific? Or personal to each?

Ah I love markings! It makes the characters sometimes look like masks or animals in the features they accentuate.
It’s specific to each person, but monsters and animal people have markings to make them appear less human. In Avis, as the title suggests, the markings are meant to make them look like birds. Nascha has little dots on her cheeks like parakeet dots, Kiro with hair and face markings that resemble a tree sparrow’s face, and Rok with stylized falcon marks.

In Men+Monsters, the monster people are meant to resemble living ancient masks.

 

- What is your favourite thing to come from your Patreon launching?

The possibility of making certain goals come true – I do this for a living, and Patreon certainly helps!
I really want to print my stories and make little things here and there of the characters, but financial reasons dictate how much extra time and money I can dedicate to my projects which usually isn’t a lot.
With Patreon, hopefully I can finally print my stories someday, and my supporters can enjoy more of my projects coming to life :D

As for actual things coming from the Patreon launch, I love this private little NSFW blog I’m keeping.
They’re naughty sketches of whoever I want to draw at the time and it’s fun to put up that kind of stuff for people to enjoy, haha.

Interview: Cassian Lodge, Poly in Pictures

February 8, 2015 in Comic, Interview, Review, Webcomic

After hungrily blitzing through the delightfully punderful comic Poly In Pictures, I asked creator Cassian Lotte Lodge (twitter/tumblr) if they’d like to chat about art, knitting and LGBTQ representation.
And after much fan-personing over Doctor Who – we eventually did that.

pip interview

How would you describe your comic, Poly in Pictures?
Cassian: I am a very literal person, to warn you in advance!
I would describe it as stick people on photographs talking about polyamory, gender, and sexuality – much of it inspired by my shower thoughts and making myself laugh.

Where do you find or take those photos for the backgrounds?
Cassian: Sometimes I have an idea for a “scene” and I go looking for a suitable background. And sometimes I see an interesting background and it tells me what it wants to have happen in it.

I know they’re stick figures, but your art has developed over the years? Can you see the difference when you look back at older pages?
Cassian: Definitely! I’ve probably changed the pens and paper I use, and the colouring pencils – I’ve found that there are some that work better for me, and so the comics have (I think) improved pre-scanner. And of course four years of doing the exact same comic style in Photoshop means I’ve got better at that, too. And there was a sharp increase in writing quality at some point. There was a phase where I was happy and well and sociable and full of inspiration as a result – so there’s a good run of comics that were (and still are) quite popular.

Do you use other artstyles for other things?
Cassian: I don’t really make other drawing-based arts at the moment, but I would like to one day paint fantasy landscapes. This is very much a long-term dream; I need my spoons for surviving and doing what I’m already doing, for the time being. As disability support improves I hope to be trying more new things.
I also like to draw small things in great detail, which I think is connected to many of the Poly in Pictures “sets” being small things made large – like a windowsill becoming a bus stop, or Dr Love’s couch being an eraser.

Do you have any inspirations for your art, writing and humor?
Cassian: Probably… Hmmmm. I think, just my own musings that happen as a result of blog posts, Reddit posts, talking to friends and family members, etc. I can’t think of anything specific and striking.

Poly in Pictures is turning 5 this year! Are you wanting to celebrate in some way?
Cassian: I am not sure how I would do that, but I am open to ideas. I am particularly excited about setting up the Patreon page, which feels like a celebration and a motivation at the same time. Yesterday the 198th comic came out, and I think I will probably be more excited when I get to comic 200 – I’m terrible with dates and forget all the important ones, but I can count.

2015-01-09-198.-Behavioural-Orientation

Queer Chat

Being Triple A (Asexual, Aromantic, Agender), how aware do you feel about the lack of representation of characters with those traits/identities in mainstream media – and the large amount of independent media? Is it something that bothers you?
Cassian: I feel very aware of it, when I stop to think about it. Everyone on TV is usually a man or a woman, and none of them are like me. It sometimes makes me feel incredibly lonely, and sometimes (because no one says “hi, I’m a man!” on TV) I can imagine that maybe some of them are nonbinary, or asexual, or even aromantic. In my head, Castiel from Supernatural is definitely agender and asexual, for example.

I am more aware of poor representation of autism. Poorly written autistic cliches are much more noticeable to me, but queer misrepresentation is still very grating.

Are there any good comics, media or other things that you’d recommend that do have such representation?
(Mine are 14 Nights and Shades of A ^^)

Cassian: I love Erica Moen’s work, and Shades of A, and for queer and nonbinary representation in porn I love Smut Peddler.

What is your advice for dealing with people who question, don’t understand or disbelieve your being an atypical queer individual? And does this problem happen to you often?
Cassian: Relationshipwise, my queerness doesn’t often come up AFK. The people I’m intimate with are all close friends before they’re anything else, and I tend to be pretty private about my personal life except with people I’m very close with, or with people who need to know. There is one exception, and I’m not sure why she’s an exception, she just is – she feels like my girlfriend to me, and I have tried so often to explain and I can’t, so I just go with it!

Genderwise, I’m a nonbinary person who’s very averse to gendered pronouns and gendered language. I have to explain it a LOT, and to be fair, most people don’t question it. It’s very very unusual for me to meet someone who just goes, “nope, your gender isn’t even real.” People are respectful and try their hardest with the pronouns (they/them) much of the time.

Occasionally I’ll tell someone I’m not a he or a she, and explain that “they” or just using my name are both acceptable, and they’ll just use gendered pronouns anyway and make no excuses. (Usually doctors and medical staff, including gender identity clinic people!)

2013-09-30-188.-Insatiable

Knitting

When did you get into knitting?
Cassian: I learned to knit when I was small, and then dropped it when I was bullied at school for knitting in the playground. I picked it back up in my teens when my then-boyfriend’s grandmother taught me a new stitch, and as soon as the needles were in my hands again it was like they never left. When I got CFS about 7 years ago I had little energy for anything else, and that’s when it got Serious. We are now in full-on autistic obsession territory.

peacock shawlIs there a particular knitting project you’re especially proud of? (Pictures welcome ^^)
Cassian: This peacock shawl was my first ever lace project, and I am very proud of it! I gave it to a friend in the end, because I don’t even wear shawls – I just saw it and had to make it.

And my most recent “big” project is actually pretty small – but significant because it was my first published-in-a-proper-paper-magazine pattern that was in the Collection section rather than the Reader’s Submissions section. That’s Thumbs Crossed.

 

Thumbs Crossed, by Cassian Lotte Lodge, as featured in Knit Now #40 Oct 2014. Shared here under Creative Commons.

Thumbs Crossed, by Cassian Lotte Lodge, as featured in Knit Now #40 Oct 2014.
Shared here under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Have you wanted to experiment in other areas of textiles, like sewing or felting? (Really recommend felting, it’s relaxing and good fun).
Cassian: I do have a beautiful ancient Singer hand-cranked sewing machine, which I use reasonably often. I’ve also got a small bag of rainbow fibre that I intend to felt into something, but it just hasn’t told me what it wants to be yet! One day I would love to learn to weave large-scale; I’ve tried tablet-weaving and that was a lot of fun. Wow, I should do that again! Thanks for the reminder!

——

Many thanks to Cassian for taking the time to chat to me :D

Poly In Pictures turns 5 years old this October, and has over 200 comics for you to enjoy already. If you like puns, cute & warm-fuzzing dialogue, or commentaries on identity and sexual diversity – I strongly recommend checking it out. PolyInPictures.com

And if you really enjoy the comic, consider supporting it through Cassian’s Patreon

Other links:
- Cassian’s Tumblr: cassolotl.tumblr.com
- Cassian’s Twitter: @cassolotl
- Cassian’s Folksy: folksy.com/shops/cassolotl (Buy knitting, zines and postcards)

Podcast 3 – Thought Bubble 2014

December 21, 2014 in Comic, Convention, Podcast, Review, YouTube

I went to Thought Bubble! And I LOOOOOVED IT!
It’s pretty much my favourite con.

Only when I started editing this did I realise how ill I sounded.
That’s no glitch – I STILL have the remnants of this cold going on.

List of links:
- Doctor Geof | islandofdoctorgeof.co.uk | @doctorgeof
- Natasha Allegri | natazilla.tumblr.com | @natazilla
- Babs Tarr | babsbabsbabs.com | @babsdraws
babsbabsbabs.com/post/47438704325/bosozoku-sailor-scouts
- Brendan Fletcher | brendenfletcher.com | @brendenfletcher
- Camron Stewart | cameron-stewart.tumblr.com | @cameronmstewart
- Kate Leth | kateordiecomics.com | @kateleth
villagesoundcast.com
- Danielle Corsetto | girlswithslingshots.com | @dcorsetto
- Hemlock | hemlock.smackjeeves.com | @mildtarantula
- Paul Duffield | paulduffield.co.uk | @paul_duffield
- Imaginary Gumbo | dumpylittlerobot.com | @abbyryder @demontomatodave
- Footloose | footloosecomic.com | @Ally_Nuttall
- Batwoman: Elegy http://www.dccomics.com/graphic-novels/batwoman-elegy-deluxe-edition
- Young Avengers / Wicked + The Divine | @kierongillen @mckelvie
- Chloe C. | GoGetARoomie.com | HeadlessBliss.com | @GoGetARoomie
- BFF | bff.nematodeinspace.com | @bffcomic
- Lucy Bellwood | lucybellwood.com/baggywrinkles | @LuBellWoo
- The Pride | facebook.com/ThePrideComic | @thepridecomic
- Princeless | comixology.co.uk/Princeless-Vol-1/comics-series/6870 | princelesscomic.tumblr.com


Subscribe for new reviews, interviews, vlogs, podcasts, commentaries and let’s plays every week.
And support S+G on Patreon for even more: http://www.patreon.com/mxharrybentley

Interview: O Human Star Kickstarter

October 22, 2014 in Comic, Crowdsource, Kickstarter, Webcomic

I sit down for another cross-continental interview: This time with queer-comics author and artist Blue Delliquanti.

Blue’s comic O Human Star is a clever and beautiful story, following the father of the robot revolution Alistair Sterling, from untimely death to his even more unexpected revival – in a new synthetic body, 16 years later.
In this time his work has been continued and expanded upon by his old partner Brendan Pinsky to the point where cybernetically enhanced people and full-on robots have become commonplace. Despite all this tech and progress though, Brendan says he has no idea who could have successfully revived Al, or why.
And if this wasn’t enough for the out of time dead-man to get his head around, there’s Brendan’s daughter; Sulla. A young girl with a genius’ mind. And face.

O Human Star is a science fiction family drama about this group of scientifically brilliant but socially inexpert people, re-discovering who they are and solving the mystery of Al’s resurrection.

And now: nearly 3 years old and over 200 pages in the making, the Blue is kickstarting the comic’s first ever printed volume: Binding the first 3 chapters of the story in both hard and paperback.

We chat about the comic’s origins, as well as her own, and the various tiers and rewards available to back.
…as well as comics, cons, fans, alternate history, modern robotics, Czech literature, Antonio Banderas and jewellery.
You can watch the video below, or download the audio [Here] to enjoy over an hours worth of gratuitous Sci-Fi fanboy/girl/personing on the go.

Click to Support on Kickstarter!

Interview: Part 1

 

Interview: Part 2

Click to Support on Kickstarter!

O Human Star: Comic Site | Kickstarter | Patreon
Blue Delliquanti: Site | @BlueDelliquanti | Tumblr

Links and Mentions:
- R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), Play by Karel Čapek
- The Left Hand of Darkness, Book by Ursula K. Le Guin
- Concrete, Comic by Paul Chadwick
- Her, Film by Spike Jonze, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson
- Stumptown, Portland Oregon, Comics Convention & Group.
- Thought Bubble, Leeds UK, Comics Convention & Arts Festival.

And because we talk about her a TONNE in this interview, here are the videos of Aimee Mullins amazing TED talks about her many legs.

Aimee Mullins: My 12 Pairs of Legs (Feb 09)

Aimee Mullins: The Opportunity of Adversity (Oct 09)

Reviews & Riffs

October 18, 2014 in Film, Rant, Review, TV

I’ve finally finished moving!
Since I last posted: New Job, New Cat, New a whole lotta things.
Including: New Videos.

If you follow my twitter or instagram – you know I love Drag.
I love genderplay. I love costume and creativity.
And so, with some reservations, I FREAKING ADORE RuPaul’s Drag Race.
As does Mke – so together we’re watching and providing Rifftrax-style commentary for, all of Season 6.

I’ve started sharing my film recommendations for this spoopy season.
Horror recommendations for squeamish people.
First up: Cabin in the Woods.
(Though honestly, if you’ve not seen it – just watch it now, spoiler free, it’s totally worth the number of twists, turns and surprises).

If you like rants, disappointment or just the white noise of someone talking. Yes. I did see TMNT (2014).
No. It was not good. The tldr is; “Mostly As Expected”.
Some creativity though, honestly, just totally lost by the time we got the final product.

And Let‘s Gay: Borderlands 2 continues! – Mike and I are hours in and I’m dying a lot less. Sorta? A little – SURELY SOME?!

Let’s Gay: Borderlands 2

August 20, 2014 in Gaming, YouTube

Sorry about the recent absence – been binging on job-applications.
Huzzah for making ends meet.

At longest last I’ve started “Let’s Gay”, a let’s play series where I play co-op games with my partner Micheal, with comedic, review-esque, and infuriating results.
We’re also wanting to review some films together, and drag race, so look forward to that in the coming months.

Also I’m vlogging again, talking about life and comics. Mostly comics.

Both of these things will be updated more frequently once our internet is finally, FINALLY upgraded, as we paid for over a month ago >_>

Bvad0jeCcAArfy4

Oh, also coming soon – a review of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s new graphic novel: Seconds.
Spoiler: Check my twitterI LOVE IT!

Interview: The Switch, Transgender Sitcom Creator & Cast

July 29, 2014 in Crowdsource, Interview, Kickstarter, TV, YouTube

 
I just cannot get enough of The Switch; the Transgender Comedy that will be hitting American and Canadian television late next year. And while I have plugged it before, when have I been able to resist an interview with some charming and hilarious Canadians?

Amy Fox (Series Creator, actor; Chris) and Chance Odin (actor; Phil) join me for a chat about the show’s origins and development, the Kickstarter’s progression and what we can look forward to in the Season 1 debut.

Not only will The Switch be bringing a transgender lead character to our screens for the first time – Sü will be played by openly trangender actress, vlogger and make-up artist Julie Vu, known on YouTube as Princess Joules.
In fact all the trans characters (it’s hinted that there are quite a few) are being played by trans people.

Whilst the show has already passed it’s Kickstarter goal for funding there are still some great stretch goals to unlock; including featurette episodes voted for by the fans, and a trans guide to undergarment shopping with Juile Vu.

Check it out, spread the word, and donate if you can:
Watch the Pilot – [Here]
Back the Kickstarter – [Here]
Also, you can Like it on [Facebook]

August Digest

July 26, 2014 in Comic, Crowdsource, Kickstarter, Review, Webcomic, YouTube

It’s been a while since I did one of these – and I think a new digest is long overdue: Feast your eyes upon these colossai of creativity!

paul-savage-bookContrived Setups to Niche Pop-Culture References
Paul Savage is an incredibly fun and charming Stand-up Comedian and MC based in the UK – and now, not only can I recommend you check out one of his shows (like his upcoming Edinburgh Fringe run), but also his brand-new comic; Contrived Setups to Niche Pop-Culture References.

The comic medium suits Paul’s style incredibly well – He’s like the bacon of comedy: big, delicious and addictive pieces of wit, in bite-sized strips.
Check it out on Amazon: [Only £4.99]

sam-orchard-comicsFamily Portraits
Sam Orchard’s comic series Family Portraits is now on Gumroad!
After a successful Kickstarter, Rooster Tails comic creator Sam Orchard got the chance to make a series he’s been talking about for a long time – Family Portraits. Stories about who we are and how we love.

I’ve been excited about this project for a very long time – as Sam is one of the most tear-inducingly honest and point-fuelled writers of autobiographical Trans stories and educational comics out there. His latest series looks to broaden our understanding of identity and love by bringing new, true, stories to us from diverse individuals, in comic form.

The Kickstarter also raised money for him to visit the US, do comic conventions, meet up with people and and do talks about his work and experiances. Through September and October he’ll be hitting up Portland Oregon, New York, Chicago Illinois, and San Francisco California.
Keep an eye on the Blog under his main comic for updates, and a full list of where/when he’ll be doing talks and signings.
He’s also open to suggestions of where to do talks if you have anywhere in mind he isn’t already going to.

Family Portraits, #1-3 available now! [Only NZ $5]
(That’s about £2.52!)



The Switch Kickstarter
Speaking of new Trans representation in media!
The Switch is an incredibly fun upcoming sitcom, following the misadventures of Sü, who after coming out at work swiftly finds herself out of a job, apartment, and comfort zone.
Whilst all this sounds negative, the show’s pilot reveals an incredibly positive outlook; with coming out and being herself making Sü incredibly happy, optimistic and resourceful. And the prospect of presenting male for potentially easier employment being painted as so depressing and wrong it just isn’t an option.
The pilot also shows a great use of contrast, with Sü’s problems after ‘The Switch’ being the least crazy, dangerous or fantastical of anyones – job & apartment hunting are pretty ‘normal’ problems that everyone can relate to. The other character’s dabblings into sorcery and crime? Not so much.

And not only will The Switch be bringing a transgender lead character to our screens for the first time – Sü will be played by openly trangender actress, vlogger and make-up artist Julie Vu, known on YouTube as Princess Joules.
This counts the 3rd TV series I’m aware of ever doing this. The others being the famous Netflix original Orange is the New Black, with Laverne Cox as Sophia Burset, and Bethany Black’s upcoming role in Russell T. Davies’ Channel 4 shows Cucumber & Banana.

The show has already passed it’s Kickstarter goal for extra funding, so it’s we’re already set to see it’s Season 1 debut soon, but there are still some great stretch goals to unlock, and a series with this much potential deserves all the funding it can get.

Check it out, spread the word, and donate if you can:
Watch the Pilot – [Here]
Back the Kickstarter – [Here]
Also, you can Like it on [Facebook]

strong-female-protagonist-coverStrong Female Protagonist
There’s a new recommendation on the webcomic’s list – huzzahs!
Strong Female Protagonist is fantastic on so many levels: an incredibly good meta-commentary on superheroes in comics; questioning their usefulness to the world, discussing the damage they cause, and how they’d have to deal with celebrity.

But even without all of it’s clever meta critiques, questions and analysis, this is a very solid comic about a young super-powered girl forced into the limelight, trying to reclaim control of her life.

It’s seriously good and in places incredibly dark and mature – love it! Read it!
The kickstarted book will be out soon, but for now: [Read Online For Free!]

egs-patreon-1El Goonish Shive – Patreon
I adore El Goonish Shive.
It’s well-paced, the plots are built up and seeded incredibly deftly, the art is gorgeous and expressive – it is full-on fantastic.

But I’m always apprehensive about recommending it to people because all of those points are double-sided.
It’s coming up on 2000 pages (a HUGE backlog), you kinda need to read all/most of it because of the running plots, character growth and continuity, and the art is amazing because it’s developed over 12.5 years – the earlier strips have a vastly different style and quality.

However! Two awesome things are currently happening to delight new readers, and long-time fans alike.

1. The current plot arc is somewhat self-contained; it’s very character-focused, hilarious and works pretty well as a starting-off point.
The comic is normally slice-of-life coming of age with magic and occasional fighting antics, as opposed to the current focus of card games, but I really recommend starting [Here] as a great way to see if you’d like to read more.
Current arc features; geek culture social commentary, discussions of non-binary gender, totally not Magic The Gathering, adorable shippable characters, terrible troupes being turned on their heads, and Star Wars. Quite a bit of Star Wars.

egs-patreon-22. EGS:NP, the non-canon random fun-stuff side-comic of EGS is soon to return from hiatus!
Thanks to creator Dan Shive’s very successful Patreon launch, a lot of new content existing outside of the elongated canon, generally just having some fun with the characters during their day-to-day, is gonna start updating.
This means a somewhat fresh start you can enjoy right off the bat!

Now really is probably the best time to check out EGS. There is a rather large backlog to get through if you want to keep up with the best laid plans, but if you have a little taste you may well find it addictively delicious ;)

Read EGS, totally free [Here]
Aaaand, if/when you love it – support Dan on [Patreon]

Interview: Erika Moen, on Oh Joy Sex Toy

June 8, 2014 in Comic, Interview, Kickstarter, Webcomic

ojst-kickstarter-banner

Are you a fan of comics, good sex ed, and body positivity?
Then you are probably already addicted to the humorous, delightful and educational gem that is Erika Moen’s Oh Joy Sex Toy.

Though if through some great injustice you’ve somehow missed OJST – now is the perfect time to check it out on Kickstarter!
The 220+ pages you can read on the comic’s website will soon be collected in a lovely soft-cover book, along with exclusive bonus comics, essays and behind-the-scenes trivia.

And if all that content wasn’t enough; Erika has been kind enough to answer some of my questions about the comic’s creative process and origins – Taking time out from her busy schedule of being totally rad.

1) During Strip Search you got a chance to talk business with Robert Khoo.
How did this help you refine the idea of OJST? Was it an idea that existed before the meeting?

Erika: Oh my gosh, OJST wouldn’t exist without Robert Khoo. But let me back up.
Ever since I met my husband nine years ago, he’d been telling me I should do sex education comics like my first attempt, [GirlFuck]. I’d agree that yeah, that’s a good idea, but I just never felt like it was a good time, so it never happened. Then, after I finished Bucko in 2012, I decided that NOW was the time to make that happen. So I spent the year leading up to Strip Search working on an educational, illustrated/comic guide for teenagers about how to become sexually active safely, but it was an overwhelming task and I wouldn’t have anything to share publicly for another year or two. Which meant I’d basically disappear from the internet while I worked on this and everyone would forget I’d exist and I wouldn’t be earning any income on it unless it got picked up by a publisher some time in the future.

After my elimination on Strip Search, Khoo took me out to dinner at Red Robin and I told him that I didn’t know what to do with my career and that I had this overwhelming magnum opus I was working on but it would take forever to finish and how do I make money in comics. He told me I should be giving my audience what they want right now, which is how I realized that I should be doing bite-size updates about sex that I could update each week. My husband was pretty annoyed that after years of him telling me basically the same thing, I had to hear it from Khoo before I actually got to work ;)

meetmattanderika

2) Regarding the collaborations with Matt on the writing and ‘research’ for OJST, who asked who first about him joining the project?

Erika: Haha, there was no asking, it was just a given! Matt was my co-creator on my previous autobio comic, DAR!, too. We always collaborate on my comics, it’s just part of the process.

3) The masturbateers make OJST one of the most diversely-cast comics out there (ironically, the only 2 recurring characters being yourself and Matt, both real people).
Is it a challenge to draw all these different body types, sizes, genders, abilities, ect? Especially considering the poses you have them in, I imagine references aren’t always easy to find?

Erika: It has been a bit challenging, yes! Because the majority of my work over the last 15 years was autobiographical, I was mainly drawing only myself and people close to me– that is, white, cisgender, and of average weight. When I started working on Bucko with Jeff Parker in 2011, I made the conscious decision to start drawing different body types and races. I’ve read a ton of articles calling for greater diversity representation in comics and as a comics creator I wanted to do my part to help change the landscape.

When I started OJST, I felt like this was the perfect opportunity to get the most bang for my drawing diversity buck since I could show a completely different type of person every single week. I started following a bunch of different Tumblrs devoted to showcasing the fashion and style of different ethnicities, weight, and gender variance and I have a MASSIVE folder to save pictures of people that catch my eye.
Each week, I open up that folder and pick someone at random to be the basis for that week’s Masturbateer. It’s super easy to find reference of skinny, cis-gender people having sex, but any other body types is more of a challenge.
Last year I was also comped a temporary account to queer porn site, The Crash Pad, which has galleries of super diverse porn performers actually having sex and my folder of saved pictures from there has been INVALUABLE for figuring out how to show these bodies interlocking. So yeah! It’s a ton of research but it’s definitely made me a much better artist.

masturbateers

4) You’ve had a LOT of great guest strips so far – do you have any more planned or in the works?
Any spoilers you can share about upcoming guests, or anyone you’d particularly like to work with?

Erika: Yes! I LOVE having guest artists— not only does it give me a break from my punishing schedule of producing 4-6 pages of comics each week, it also brings in more diverse voices to my site. I’ve got already got strips from Isabella Rotman and Terry Blas waiting to go live, plus a bunch of other cartoonists who are working on theirs right now. Subjects that are either covered or may possibly be covered include DIY strap-on harnesses, Sex Lists, Korean Love Hotels, incorporating ASMR into sexy times, animal sex facts, how to give a good hand job… tons of stuff.

5) Finally – If you could have any one cybernetic implant, what would it be?
(Can be as sexy or chaste as you like)

Erika: Something to fix my eye sight!

erika-moen-hitatchi-magic-want

The OJST Book is on Kickstarter until June 20th, has already funded fully, and has tonnes of sexy-awesome swag up for grabs if you help back it – Check it out here: [kickstarter.com/projects/erikamoen/oh-joy-sex-toy-the-book]

Still can’t get enough Erika? – Why not support her on Patreon too! [patreon.com/erikamoen]

X-Men: Days of Future Past

June 2, 2014 in Comic, Film, Review

It would seem that First Class was not a fluke, and that the retconned (not rebooted) X-Men films have a very bright future ahead of them and I could not be more thrilled about it.



Spoiler Corner

One of the strongest parts of this film was it’s ability to stretch it’s characters – to take these established icons and force them into scenarios so alien to them that they become different people.

Seeing Wolverine banned from combat and need to mediate people (far far FAR from his comfort zone of X-Force, the mutant kill-squad) is a brilliant tool to develop him further. Since he’s pretty much only known as the unstoppable slashing machine.

But stealing the show is Professor Xavier; taken down from being the moral paragon and father-leader of the X-Men, to this broken mess of a human being. Because he’s always depicted as a sort of Zordon – larger than life, incredible, impervious, yet mobility impaired, we normally don’t see him loose hope.
But here we got to see it destroy him until he is but a substance-abusing husk of his former self. A brilliant use of irony really, that he gets his legs back but can’t function without assistance – he is more crippled when he is physically speaking ‘normal’, than when he was wheelchair bound.

This combined with watching Magneto slowly take up his mantle as leader and statement-maker of the rebel mutant brotherhood, and Mystique having to question how far she should go to get things done, makes this film the perfect vessel for character development, refinement and empathy.

And that’s not even mentioning the completely brilliant fight scenes and visuals!
X3 (As it demands to be called) had two mutant armies fighting, but pretty much boiled down to a couple of one-on-one rounds of fisticuffs. Here instead we get to see proper teamwork in action, by both the enemies and allies, thanks to the catalytic characters of Blink and Bishop.

The films does have it’s problems, for sure; we never learn or even get hints as to why Shadowcat can send people through time now or how Patrick Stewart’s Professor X is alive again all of a sudden. Almost all of the mutants established in First Class are already dead when the film opens, which is weird and feels kinda rude – if we aren’t going to get to see any of that and get more insight into Peter Dinklage’s character, Trask and how he first discovered mutants and decided to hunt them down, then we could have at least had some kind of flashback of them disappearing in the first place?
I’m hoping for some deleted scenes with these bits in them, as I assume they’d have been scripted but were cut for time or re-casting issues. These flaws are all things we are kindof told to just accept and move on from so we can enjoy the film at hand, which works okay but can still be rather distracting.

Also consider that during the original comic series Days of Future Past many major details are the same, but it was Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat who was sent back to everyone of the Sentinels and stop Mystique. Considering her lack of screen time and the lack of female characters in the 1973 storyline, It’s interesting to consider if the film would have been much different had she been sent instead? Personally I’d have liked to see that. And not just because Ellen Page is awesome. Which she is.

Despite the flaws Days of Future Past is thrilling, gripping and totally recommended.
As is the post-credits teaser scene ;) No spoilers for that one here.