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Rafael Grampa’s Mesmo Delivery is Bloody, Brutal and a Fun Ride


Review by Richard Serrao

*Editor’s Note* This piece was originally published in our now defunct crime mag Blunt Force Beating and has now been given a new home.

Mesmo Delivery
Writer and Artist: Rafael Grampa
Price tag: 9.99 US
Color
Approx :70 pages

I must admit I had only seen Rafael Grampa’s work on the covers to the last mini-series starring Werewolf By Night for Marvel Max, so I really didn’t know what to expect from this creator. Thank heavens my store had ordered an extra copy of this GN.

Of course as soon as I saw it sitting on the back shelf behind the cash I just had to have a peek at what was inside the pages………!!!?! WTF!!!!!!!! Honestly that was my exact reaction to the insides of what I was holding in my sweaty little palms at that moment in time. This guy’s work looked like a hybrid mix of Geoff Darrow, Paul Pope, Frank Quietly and Basil Wolverton. Very surreal looking artwork and definitely not everyone’s cup of tea BUT if you dig any of the creators I mentioned before you’ll definitely dig this bit of insanity. The colours are very European and suit this GN perfectly.

The book begins with a quick intro of the two main characters as they are driving a big rig. They are hauling an unknown cargo to its destination. One of the two characters is a beaten up wannabe Elvis double (definitely not an impersonator though) whose name is Sangrecco. He’s rambling on comparing himself to the real Elvis via their respective tastes for guns, martial arts and superheroes. At no point early on does it even become apparent which direction the story will take but I was starting to become incredibly curious.

As they pull up to a gas station the other main character Rufo gets out to stretch his legs, pump some gas and get something to drink at the rest stop. Meanwhile our Elvis wannabe crashes out for a little snooze while Rufo is gone. As Rufo enters into the bar we are introduced to some of the local denizens of the place. One of which is talking about a fight he had. We have all seen this kind of blowhard before as well as the other hangers on. It then becomes very clear that this blowhard see’s Rufo (who just happens to be a massive looking bone crusher) as a threat and decides to have some fun with him. The fact that Rufo is also drinking a glass of milk doesn’t help matters. Pretty soon things get ugly and Rufo is challenged to a fist fight out back for some cash.

I gotta say at this point Grampa throws us a major curve ball with what happens next.

The blowhard (Forceps) shows us why he’s won so many fights. Everything soon goes to hell as one of the girls cheering on Forceps gets killed. Things go from bad to worse as one by one the patrons of the truck stop get sliced and diced as the Devil looks on from Hell gleefully awaiting more souls.

People get beheaded, stabbed in the eyes and we’re treated to some very insane POV action. This is in Peter Jackson territory. It gets bloody, brutal and I still couldn’t stop laughing over the way how the first girl got killed.

This book was a lot better than I would have thought and it was just a fun, fun ride. Unfortunately the book ends way too soon as far as I’m concerned.

I really can’t wait to see what Grampa does next.

If you’re in the mood for a very violent, fun, off the beaten path kinds story then definitely check this book out.

Buy Mesmo Delivery

A Few Words with Comics Veteran, Jimmy Palmiotti

*Editor’s Note* This piece was originally published in our now defunct crime mag Blunt Force Beating and has now been given a new home.

Writer, artist, inker, editor . . . Jimmy Palmiotti has done a little bit of everything in the comics world. From working on recognizable Big Two properties like The Punisher, Ghost Rider, Jonah Hex and Power Girl, to creator-owned projects like Painkiller Jane and The Last Resort, Palmiotti has earned all the praise that has come his way as a veteran on the front lines of comics and comics-based properties.

When it comes to crime, the series he did for Image with Garth Ennis and Mihailo Vukelic called Back to Brooklyn is as gritty and brutal as they come. It’s the story of a crime family being torn apart by the actions of one of their own, and how it plays out is not for the squeamish. With a new graphic novel about to be released, a splatter-fest called Random Acts of Violence, Palmiotti was gracious enough to answer a few questions about the books and the processes involved in getting them into the eager hands of rabid fandom.

You have a new graphic novel, written with Justin Gray and art by Giancarlo Caracuzzo, called Random Acts of Violence, coming out soon. When is it supposed to be released, and what can you tell us about it?

Random Acts of Violence has a street date of April 28th and is about a couple of comic creators that go and self publish their first book which is called Slaughterman…an ultimate horror character and then when the book hits big, they go on tour of the country and deal with the fallout of their creation. It’s a mix of con experiences and really horrific murders. I dare say, it’s a blast.

From what I’ve read, Random Acts seems as much a horror book as a crime book. These two genres seem to overlap fairly frequently — what elements do you think comprise a “horror” story versus a particularly brutal “crime” story? I mean, what’s the difference between a mobster whacking some guy with a meat cleaver that makes it “crime” fiction, but if some lurch in a hockey mask does it it’s a “horror” story?

Usually in a crime story the killer has a reason he is doing the act…for vengeance, money or romance…in a horror story, we are dealing with a twisted brain that is fascinated with death and destruction and at times has no other motive other than curiosity or a unquenchable need. They overlap in the actual act of killing, in the details, but the motives are far away from each other.

Did you pitch this book as a standalone graphic novel right out of the gate, or were you shooting for a monthly book and they offered a standalone GN? What makes you decide to pitch a monthly vs. a standalone, or vice versa?

We first were going to do 3 separate issues, then the more we thought about it we did the math and the book would have cost 12 bucks total for only 66 pages of actual story. We figured a graphic novel was the way to go for a low price tag of $6.99 and like Jonah Hex, we were giving the reader a full story, not a continued adventure. Also, with the square binding, the book can now have a longer shelf life…but it is not without the risks. The orders need to come in higher…so if you are reading this, you would make my day and tell your retailer to pre order it…or give it a shot on Amazon soon. For us to do this book…we already know we are out of pocket more than half of the book…but we feel word of mouth might help us. We hope.

You have another collection available of what was originally a monthly book for Image called Back to Brooklyn. That was a straight up, guns-and-blood crime story that you wrote with Garth Ennis, with artwork by Mihailo Vukelic. How did that story come to be?

I had an idea for a story based on smaller stories and things that happened in Brooklyn growing up and took them and sculpted a story I pitched to Garth over a beer and he loved it. He agreed to take it and run with it and that’s how it came to be. I have many crime stories to tell…but the market is limited. I think I have another two “Brooklyn” based stories I would like to tell…but one is going to be a novel and the other a collection of short stories in 2012.

With Back to Brooklyn, the work that Ed Brubaker has done with Criminal and Incognito, Vertigo and Dark Horse coming out with “crime” lines, and stuff like Rick Remender’s Last Days of American Crime, there seems to be a real resurgence of crime stories. Why do you think that is, and what makes you come back to it?

Personally, the audience of superheroes needs something else in their diet. This is a good thing, but again, only a limited number of people are into to the genre…so guys like Ed have an easier time. I love what he does and buy every single thing he writes that’s not superhero. I come back to the genre because I love the idea of raw emotion and driven characters that will do anything to get what they want. It’s a surreal thing for me to write because I am nothing like these people…I have a wall and empathy and all the things that make me a good person. Writing these monsters is a nice release.

Besides Back to Brooklyn, you also collaborated with Garth Ennis on the classic prostitute-cum-superhero book, The Pro. In addition, you’ve collaborated with Justin Gray on Jonah Hex as well as the new story, Random Acts of Violence. What do you like about collaborating with other writers, and can you give a quick insight into how those collaborations play out when it comes to actually putting words on paper and delivering them?

With Garth, you let Garth do what he does best and run with the idea. He isn’t what I call a real collaborator in that sense…which is perfect, because he is a master of his craft and one of the coolest guys in the field. With Back to Brooklyn…we went over the idea…who the characters were and where they were going to go along the way. For me, there were little surprises along the way, but he stuck to what we laid out and I thought it was brilliant. If anyone here didn’t read this book and you like the genre…I think its one of the top 5 crime graphic novels out there now. As far as working with Justin, it’s like working with a best friend that can do no wrong. He is open to ideas, deals with my madness and understands that we sometimes move to a different beat and it makes the books that more interesting. We see the world differently and the same and it helps our work. Anyone that has been following our books understands that we can switch gears with genres and tone and characters in a drop of the hat and together we are well-rounded writers. We talk a few times a day and flush out ideas daily as well. The amount of work we are sitting on, given the chance, would blow people away if we found a sponsor. Yeah…if you have a few million and want to invest it …call me…I will give you better odds than any stock. Lol…

You’ve written for comics, movies, etc. Is there a Jimmy Palmiotti novel anywhere in your future?

Yes. A book of short stories I am working on now…and a novel that I will do once something I am working on pays enough to give me the time to flush it out. Hey, ambitions are good things…lol.

Are there any particular types of stories or genres you haven’t done that you hope to do before they stuff you in a padded room and throw away the key?

Romance…softcore and hardcore. I think I would love to take a group of characters and have a blast with relationship stuff…I know it sounds boring to some…but some of the best written works do this well. I would love a monthly “weird love” title to go crazy on. I know if I did it independently, I wouldn’t sell an issue…but knowing me…I will try. Lol.

Besides your art (and the lovely and talented Amanda Connor, of course), what gets you out of bed in the morning?

My cat Devo is hungry…and usually, I got to pee. Other than that, the idea that today might be the day that something happens…I know, its very optimistic, but I believe you put it out there and it finds you eventually. I also like to update my fan page on Facebook…hahahah. That sounds so high school.

Any crime stuff you’ve read or seen in the movies or on DVD lately that you thought was particularly cool?

Just Ed’s stuff , Darwyn Cooke’s Parker graphic novel and I saw The Counterfeiters and thought it was brilliant. Rent it…it kicks some major ass.

Buy Back To Brooklyn
Pre-Order Random Acts of Violence (originally titled Splatterman)
Visit “Listen to Jimmy” – Jimmy Palmiotti’s Official Blog
And join Jimmy’s Facebook Fanpage

6 Free Comic Fonts for Commercial Use That are Awesome

Hand Lettering Your Comic Was Sometimes Ulcer Inducing

Lettering your comic used to be a nerve-wracking experience. That is when you were talking about dropping in the lettering by hand with a technical pen or a 107 nib. While digital lettering today can still be a frustrating process it’s miles easier than in decades past.

When I was first hunting for free comic fonts to test out in the early 2000′s the pickings were slim. There were only two or three worthy contenders. Since then thousands of free fonts can be found and downloaded online. By sheer numbers this also means more free quality comic fonts has also surfaced.

While I tend to stick with my paid for Comicraft fonts you should definitely play around with some of the free ones first to get a feel for comic lettering.

My goal for you with this post was three fold.

  1. The fonts had to be free.
  2. They had to be able to be used commercially (or at least partially)
  3. They had to at least be “almost” as good as a paid commercial font.

So I first stopped by Font Squirrel.

Font Squirrel is your best resource for FREE, hand-picked, high-quality, commercial-use fonts. Even if that means we send you elsewhere to get them.

The Comic category had 24 fonts but only two really jumped out at me. You can head over there and decide for yourself.

Laffayette Comic Pro

The Laffayette Comic Pro font is credited only to Jaws Laffayette. This one has been floating around the net for a good 10 years and has been downloaded tens of thousands of times just at dafont.com alone.

VTC Letterer Pro

VTC Letterer Pro is brought to us by Vigilante Typeface Corporation aka Larry Yerkes who is a tattoo artist, font designer and freelance Illustrator. This one has been around for a while and I remember downloading it back when I was scouring the net for free fonts.

Year Supply of Fairy Cakes

Sometimes you want something a little edgier or more offbeat in your font. I feel the uniquely named Year Supply of Fairy Cakes font delivers that. I don’t know that I’d want to read an entire comic lettered with it unless the point size was set larger. But I think it’d make a worthy addition to your font library.

Blambot Comic Fonts

My next stop was over to Blambot comic fonts and lettering. Nate Piekos has been at this for over a decade and has lettered comics for Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Oni Press, Dark Horse Comics and many others. Nate’s work has been seen EVERYWHERE.

He’s designed a lot of comic fonts and has made several of them free via a license agreement for independent comic creation.

· Anyone may use these fonts for non-profit projects.

· If you are a comic book self-publisher/small press publisher you may use these fonts for profit or non profit or as part of graphics printed on merchandise to support your independent comic.

· If you are an independent creator, publishing comics through a mainstream company (see above) there is a license fee.

Some of the standouts are:

Crime Fighter

Unmasked

And I dig Evil Genius as well.

While you’re over there be sure to read his post on how to hand letter a comic. It’s worth the trip.

Have fun with this and when you’re ready trust me, you’ll probably start buying fonts off of Blambot and Comicraft. I always check out the online sales in the summer and New Years over Comicraft.

Be sure to add your favorite fonts in the comments below. It’s always nice to grow a bigger list.

-Jay

6 Awesome Places to View Original Comic Art Online

For a comic artist there’s nothing more instructive than getting to hold and study a piece of original artwork by another creator. When you want to further your artistic skills, unlock that secret technique or just plain see how someone else accomplishes a great piece of art nothing beats talking with other artists and getting to see their work close up.

But if you’re not travelling to a lot of conventions or you live in an area that doesn’t have a larger community of comic artists what are your options? I have a few for you.

Back in the 1990′s when I first got on the internet one of the first things I did was hunt down interviews with my favorite artists and try to find their artwork online. It was extremely helpful to see original works before they were photographed, scanned, touched up, colored and prepared for pre-press.

Getting to see artwork in the raw is one of the most helpful steps in your artistic journey. Experimenting with your own art always takes priority but sitting back and observing others is right up there.

Here’s a list of a half-dozen places where you can check out original comic art at your leisure with no pressure to buy. I’ve spent hours at some of these sites and always find myself returning. Just click the larger title next to the number of each site and the link will take you there.

1. Albert Moy

Albert Moy is an original artwork sales representative for some of the greatest comic book artists in the industry today. Albert is entrusted by Jim Lee, Bruce Timm, Sam Kieth, Jae Lee, John Cassaday, Darwyn Cooke, J Bone, Erik Larsen, Peter Snejberg, Ken Lashley, and Sandu Florea to bring their artwork to fans and collectors.

Albert has been in the hobby of collecting and selling comic book artwork since 1984 and his wealth of knowledge is known throughout the hobby to help you acquire that unique piece for your collection.

Batman / Planetary cover by John Cassaday

2. Comic Art Fans

ComicArtFans.com is a free gallery service for Comic Art Collectors and Artists and once signed up you are free to create Gallery Rooms to post your artwork to. As it is user-generated content this is probably the biggest database online for original comic art. From Dan Clowes to Jim Lee and everyone in between, it’s all on there.

A BLAB splash page by Dan Clowes

Batman Robin All Star by Jim Lee

3. Splash Page Art

Mark Hay is an original art representative and dealer who specializes in selling original comic art by modern era artists. Splash Page Art represents over 50 comic artists including Ben Templesmith, Lee Bermejo, Sean Philips and Tim Bradstreet. You can get up close and personal with thousands of pages of original art.

Daredevil 511 variant cover by Jock

4. ebay

ebay is a huge resource of comic art for sale. Just by plugging in “original comic art” into their search box brings up over 4500 results. You’ll be all over the map here in terms of quality but I’ve seen some pretty impressive pieces for sale on the internet’s most popular auction site.

Warlord cover painting by Mike Grell

5. Masters of Ink Interviews

Rich and I have interviewed over 50 artists on this site. Sometimes they send us unpublished images and sketches. Other times we scour the net looking for original works by our guests. Either way you get a peak into the processes, tools and techniques of some of the best artists and illustrators out there.

6. The Beguiling

The Beguiling is a Canadian comic store located in the Toronto area. It Showcases the largest selection of alternative, underground and avant-garde graphic story telling in the country. They also sell original art from around 45 different creators such as Dave Sim, Ho Che Anderson, Paul Pope and Dave Cooper.

Dan and Larry part 1 page 2 by Dave Cooper

Batman Year 100 issue 4 pg. 17 by Paul Pope

Comic Artist, Webcomic and Cartoonist MEETUP Groups Around the World

In late 2009 Sean Fidler and I became aquainted with Meetup.com. A site that allows you to coordinate meet and greets with like-minded folk in your local area. While we weren’t in groups with fellow writers and comic creators we did manage to meet some interesting and colorful characters.

Here’s a good description of what it is they do (taken from their website)

Meetup is the world’s largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face. More than 2,000 groups get together in local communities each day, each one with the goal of improving themselves or their communities.

It can be prohibitively expensive to make it out to a lot of conventions around the country (and planet). This shouldn’t stop you from networking. And while forums and social networks can bridge a lot of those gaps, nothing quite replaces meeting face to face.

Start Your Own Meetup Group if There Isn’t One in Your Area

If there are Meetup groups in your area then I’d highly advise you to check them out. Even if you do want to start one of your own you should probably see how others are run. There can be a lot of groundwork to be done when getting one of these off the ground. Meeting areas have to be sourced out and often they will come with a rental fee for the evening.

But if there is nothing that fits your area of interest and you want to bring like-minded people together you may have to start your own Meetup Group.

I decided to have a look around their site for Meetup groups for comic artists and cartoonists. I found quite a few. A lot of them are concentrated in States like California and Texas and cities such as London, UK. But even Wisconson had two different options.

UNITED STATES Meetup Groups for Comic Artists

ARIZONA
Scottsdale/East Valley Comic Book Fans, Phoenix, AZ

CALIFORNIA
The Los Feliz Lifedrawing Meetup, Los Angeles
Comics Makers Los Angeles, Los Angeles
Prime Cuts: Graphic Novel Book Club for the Rapacious Reader, Los Angeles
Los Angeles Graphic Novel Book Club, Los Angeles
Los Angeles Film, Animation, Music and Entertainment, Pasadena
Semantink’s Comic Savvy, San Diego
Southern California Cartoonists Society Meetup Group, San Diego
Graphic Novels, San Francisco
Metro’s Pop Art Symposium, Santa Barbara

COLORADO
Squid Works Comics Cooperative, Denver

DELAWARE
AD Designers and Creative Thinkers Group, Newark

GEORGIA
Graphic Novel Creatives, Atlanta
The DoActCrazy Group – Augusta, Augusta

INDIANA
Indy Webcomics Group, Indianapolis

ILLINOIS
Kinky Arts, Chicago

MASSACHUSETTS
WiP Boston Figure Drawing, Boston
Artists, Rock Stars & Geeks, Shrewsbury

MINNESOTA
Twin Cities Webcomics Meetup Group, Minneapolis

NEW YORK
Comicbook Artists Guild New York Metro, New York
Capital District Drink And Draw, Schenectady
Staten Island comics group, Staten Island

NEW JERSEY
The New Jersey Drawing Society Group, Glen Ridge

OREGON
Portland Web Comic Group, Portland
portland graphic writers, Portland

PENNSYLVANIA
XION, The Philadelphia Comic Book Group, Philadelphia
The Philadelphia Animation Meetup Group, Philadelphia
The Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, Philadelphia

TENNESSEE
Organized Play Comic Discussion Meetup Group, Knoxville
BB Sketchers Art Club, Knoxville

TEXAS
Austin Life Drawing, Austin
The DFW Sketch Group, Lewisville
North DFW Comic Book Group, McKinney
San Antonio Comic Book Guys (and Gals), San Antonio
A.C.E.S (Anime Culture Enthusiasts Society), San Antonio
First Storm Manga, San Antonio

VIRGINIA
And then there were cupcakes!, Midlothian
Richmond Drink and Draw Sketch Group, Richmond
757 Comic & Cartoon Creators, Virginia Beach

WASHINGTON
Artists for Enlightenment, Langley
The Seattle Web Comics Meetup Group, Seattle

WASHINGTON D.C.
Comic & Graphic Novel Self-Publishing Stalwarts, Washington D.C.

WISCONSON
Mad City Comics Group, Madison
Waukesha Graphic Novel Get Together, Waukesha

INTERNATIONAL Meetup Groups for Comic Artists

I’m surprised that I only found one listed in Canada but I’m sure that will grow this year.

CANADA
Studio Technique-Drawing, Montréal, QC

UNITED KINGDOM
The International London Comics Grid, London, UK
Cartoon figure drawing, London, UK
Manga Artists and Animators Meetup Group, London, UK
the Cartoon Heart Club, London, UK
Manga Artists and Animators Meetup Group, London, UK