An Interview with the Author of LOOK

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Jon Nielsen is a writer, illustrator, and cartoonist and has been drawing silly pictures and putting them on the internet for about a decade now. His first graphic novel, LOOK, is being released by NBM Publishing on April 1st, 2017. We managed to tear him away from his busy schedule for a bit for a short interview.

Jon Nielsen: Hello, Jon, good to see you. It’s been a while.
Jon Nielsen: It has, Jon! How’re the kids?
JN: Oh, you know. They’re good. Still alive. But let’s get started! Tell me about–
JN: What are we doing again? What is this?
JN: NBM asked us to do an interview, remember? About our book?
JN: Who?
JN: NBM. They’re publishing our first graphic novel.
JN: Oh dang, that’s right! They’re awesome! I seriously love them, and not just because I’m contractually obligated to say so.
JN: …right. So tell me a bit about yourself. How long have you been drawing? Did you always want to draw comics?
JN: I have, yeah! I’ve always loved comics, though strangely enough I didn’t read very many growing up. Newspaper comics, mostly. Garfield and Foxtrot.
JN: Calvin and Hobbes?
JN: No, actually! Our paper didn’t carry it, so I didn’t discover it until much, much later.
JN: Wow. That should be a crime. Someone should be in jail for that.
JN: I know, right? Anyway, I drew comics all the time as a little kid, but I didn’t start drawing seriously until about 2007, when I got into webcomics.
JN: Is that when you started Massive Pwnage?
JN: Right. Massive Pwnage was my nerd-culture comic strip about video games, Doctor Who, Dungeons and Dragons, anything I thought was interesting at the time. It ran from 2007 to early 2016 and, really, it was just a way to get myself to draw. I wanted to be an artist and having to keep a website updated with comics was a great motivator.
JN: And then you went one step further and wrote a book.
JN: That’s right! It just felt like the next logical thing to do.
JN: So tell me about LOOK.
JN: Well, it’s a book.
JN: Right. Covered that. Got it.
JN: Let me finish. It’s a book. And I wrote it. And drew it, too.
JN: All right, smartpants. Can you at least tell us what the book is about?
JN: Nah.
JN: Nah?
JN: You’re asking me all these questions that you already know the answer to, and it’s starting to get weird.
JN: Yeah. That’s what an INTERVIEW is. Come on, there’s only a few more questions. This is for the publisher.
JN: Nah.
JN: Seriously?
JN: I’m feeling some hostility from you and I think I’m done answering your questions.
JN: Fine, switch me. Here, sit here. Ask me the next question.
JN: All right, all right… let’s see. Is that when you started–
JN: No no, we did that one. There. Right there.
JN: What is LOOK about?
JN: That’s a great question, Jon, and I’m glad you asked it.
JN: Ugh.
JN: Is LOOK a story about a small robot, unhappy with his lot in life? Yes, yes it is. Is it about trying to find that one thing, that thing that everyone wants, that thing that gives life purpose? Yes, yes it is also that. It’s also about adventure, friendship, and some little bunnies living in the woods. It’s really a fantastic book, if I do say so myself.
JN: Not that you’re biased, or anything.
JN: No.
JN: Right. Can we switch back? I can’t listen to you anymore.
JN: No, this is fun! Ask me another.
JN: Fine. Where did the idea for LOOK come from?
JN: That’s a great question, Jon, and I’m glad you asked it.
JN: Nope, I’m done.
JN: But–
JN: I’m done! I’m plowing through the rest of these on my own and then I never want to see you again.
JN: But I–
JN: Midlife crisis, pizza, Doctor Who, 28, a child’s first laugh, and no, I haven’t.
JN: You can’t just– you need to read the questions too!
JN: Nope! I’m done! Goodbye forever.
JN: Can… can he do that? Um… thanks for joining us everybody! This has been a talk with Jon Nielsen, author of LOOK, coming to stores April 1st. Tune back in this Friday when Jon will tell us a bit more about LOOK and how it was created. If we can find him, that is.

 

You can find Jon on Twitter where he posts his silly drawings and sometimes brags about his kids, and you can find out more about LOOK here.

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Talking Persia Blues and more on the Comics Alternative podcast

Derek Royal from the The Comics Alternative podcast conducts an insightful and lengthy interview with yours truly and artist Brent Bowman about Persia Blues vol. 2.

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I’ll let Derek tell you a bit about what to expect:

“Dara and Brent discuss the challenges in balancing the two narrative threads and the process they use when creating the comic. The two originally met through the comics collective, PANEL, based out of Columbus, OH — in fact, much of the story in the second volume of Persia Blues takes place at OSU — and, as they discuss with Derek, their close proximity contributes to the book’s development. Along the way, Brent and Dara share their thoughts on writing from woman’s perspective, contemporary representations of Middle-Eastern figures, and the kind of reception Persia Blues has received within the Iranian American community.”

Click the link above to listen to our talk, and be sure to check out all the other great interviews and reviews at The Comics Alternative.

Dara & Brent on PVDcast

Have you ever wondered how the writers and artists of the books you read sound like? Of course not. But that didn’t stop us from sitting down with John Orlando for his PVDcast podcast! Brent Bowman and I talk about Persia Blues vol. 2, our process for collaborating together, sources of inspiration, what took so long on my part to complete the script for the second book, and much more.

Head on over to the home of the PVDcast to hear our episode.

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“I’m joined on this edition of the PVDcast by the creative team behind Persia Blues Vol. 2: Love & War. Dara Naraghi and Brent Bowman are the two guys responsible for this critically acclaimed graphic novel. (You may recall that Dara joined me back on episode 17 to discuss the first installment of Persia Blues). We talk about their creative collaboration, their influences, their relationship with publisher, NBM and many other topics. A must listen for any aspiring creative people!”

And while you’re there, be sure to check out John’s archive of great interviews with creative types of all sorts, from writers and artists to wrestlers and movie critics.

Belt magazine on Persia Blues

Belt Magazine is an online publication with a focus on life and culture in the “rust belt.” Since 2013, they’ve featured essays, longform journalism, op-eds, and reviews of works by creators from the industrial Midwest. And they just ran a nice article on Persia Blues, entitled Graphically Persian in Ohio: Novel Adventures from Columbus Artists. Here’s a snippet of what they had to say about Brent Bowman’s art in the book:

This combination noir and penny-dreadful background is apparent in the pages of Persia Blues, which alternates visual styles: ancient Persia is dark and moody, as if the story is coming to us from a great distance full of smudged shadow and deep recesses of sky; modern Iran is primarily depicted in line drawings with brightly lit, page-white backgrounds, as if we are watching reality TV.

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I like the author’s theory as to the central mystery of the book’s dual settings. I won’t say whether he’s on the right track or not, but give it a read and see if you agree. Or do you have your own theories?

Jesse Lonergan Discusses ALL STAR

All Star, a serialized version of the latest graphic novel from Jesse Lonergan makes its digital debut today, via Comixology.

Lonergan, who previously released Joe & Azat and Flower & Fade through NBM, previously released All Star as a series of mini-comics at conventions.  Those same eight chapters will be released through Comixology before the graphic novel edition is released on March 12, 2014.

All Star is set at the end of the school year in 1998.   A time when Mark McGwire is racing Sammy Sosa to break the home run record, Bill Clinton is being questioned about a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky, Semisonic’s Closing Time is on top of the charts, and Carl Carter is leading the Elizabeth Monarchs of rural Vermont to the state championship in his senior year. A full scholarship to the University of Maine is waiting for him, and everyone says he has a shot at the pros. He’s so good he can do whatever he wants.

Until he makes one very arrogant mistake.

Jesse took some time to discuss the book, its influences and its origins.

Continue reading “Jesse Lonergan Discusses ALL STAR”

Stan Mack in PRINT Magazine

You might not be aware that Stan Mack, author of NBM’s Taxes, the Tea Party, and Those Revolting Rebels, is also considered to be one of the founding fathers of contemporary cartoon reportage.

Stan recently was profiled in Print Magazine focusing on his work in the magazine back in 1996 which predicted the new digital revolution.

Check it out HERE and also check out a previous piece where Stan discusses Taxes and the current political climate.

NBM Review Round-Up!

After a great time at MoCCA, here we are, back again, with some recent reviews of various NBM titles.

Abelard

Has been nominated for “Great Graphic Novel for Teens’ by YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association).  Results will be announced in January 2104 by the ALA.

“At times, both whimsical and melancholy, Abelard transcends the artform as an example of exquisite storytelling.”

Broken Frontier

An Enchantment

“Billed as “A Graphic Poem,” author/artist Durieux’s volume renders a reverie rich with carefully detailed sepia-toned illustrations that incorporate photo reproductions of the museum’s celebrated artwork…Highly recommended.”

Library Journal

“Pure escapism through art.”

Comics Worth Reading

“In an afterword, writer/artist Christian Durieux says his ambition was to create poetry in comics. With this beguiling, bittersweet reverie, I think he has succeeded.”

New Hampshire Telegraph

“The art is lovely, the characters and dialogue are rich, and the book sweeps you up and carries you along with its verve. Each entry in the Louvre series has been unique, and has challenged its readers as a work of art should. This one stands above the others in its power to engage.”

Comics Waiting Room

Philosophy – A Discovery in Comics

“(Philosophy: A Discovery in Comics) is very much a “discovery”, a “first look” at philosophy that warns against subscribing to any particular system of thought too rigidly and instead encourages critical, personal engagement. It’s an important lesson to learn, particularly for young adults who are just beginning to engage with abstract thought.”

Multiversity Comics

Philosophy is organized like a virtual road trip, with de Heer and her husband Yiri (also a cartoonist; he did the coloring for this volume) offering commentary on the issues and philosophers covered, frequently raising the same kinds of questions that we would have, and providing reasonable answers to many of them. The illustrations are cute and colorful, alternating between standard frame-based sequential comics and full-page splashes, and de Heer’s cheerful style keeps even the weightiest questions from seeming too difficult to contemplate.”

Playback:stl

Stargazing Dog

“If you have a heart at all, you will cry reading this book.”

Lost in the Stacks

Lovers’ Lane: The Hall-Mills Mystery

The Morton Report has a fantastic interview with Rick where he discusses A Treasury of Victorian Murder Compendium as well as his true-crime work in general.

“Rick Geary’s distinctively inked style is a perfect match to the tales of bloodshed he favors—they recall both woodcuts and graphical newspaper illustrations of the Police Gazette variety, giving a period flavor to his work. His deadpan style of storytelling, as well as his unerring choice of unusual details to highlight, give the proceedings a touch of humor of the “what fools these mortals be” variety.”

Playback: stl