Daily Archives: June 7, 2011

Brian Clevinger speaks

The Firestorm Fan blog sat down with Brian Clevinger recently. Among things talked about were Clevinger’s webcomic that put him on the map…

FF: One of your best known creations is the webcomic 8-Bit Theater. What spawned your humorous take on Final Fantasy, and how did the popularity of 8-Bit Theater shape your career?

BC: I never played the original Final Fantasy until something like 1998. So, it was this weird and dated experience with characters who never spoke on a world-spanning quest that is hardly defined but appears to involve saving the world and maybe time travel.

So, y’know, as I’m playing the game I’ve got this on-going narrative about it in my head. Y’know, the faceless characters with no lines of dialog that you play, you can’t help but project personalities on them based on their performances, abilities, etc. It was just this weird personal story that stuck with me.

Then in 2001 I took an independent study course at the University of Florida. The basic idea was to make a comic book to test a variety of academic analyses of comics pages. The basic idea being: what was the thought process behind different elements of the page. Was it for “art” or was it to meet the practical realities of the page? Was it both? That kind of thing.

Only problem: I can’t draw. Like, you know how little kids can’t draw? I’m worse.

But then I remembered I just happened to have downloaded most of the images from Final Fantasy. I’d found them online somewhere or another over the years. So, what the hell, right? Just use those images. I only needed stand-ins so you’d know the difference between Character #1 and Character #2, etc.

… his current projects …

FF: Looking back at the work you’ve amassed, what are you most proud of? What do you consider a high point both personally and creatively?

BC: Atomic Robo, without question. It’s everything I love about comics and storytelling wrapped up into one package.

… and, of course, the Fire Storm.

FF: How did you get the Firestorm assignment?

BC: DC called me up one day and offered it to me! They said they were looking for “a voice from outside of DC” to launch “a fun and accessible Firestorm book.” If Atomic Robo is anything, it’s wall-to-wall fun and accessible. Lots of banter, lots of sci-fi, lots of action. Sounds like a pretty good mix for Firestorm!

FF: What aspects of Firestorm did you enjoy writing the most? What aspects did you find the most challenging to write?

BC: Even though I lobbied hard against it, I came to really enjoy the merging dynamic. It’s so weird and comic booky and it allowed for a lot fun interaction between the guys. The most challenging part has been giving it up. I got really attached to the guys and the idea of helping to bring them new fans.

FF: Can you tell us why you won’t be writing Firestorm?

BC: I honestly don’t know.

Despite Clevinger’s obvious disappointment at losing the Firestorm assignment, his spirits are high throughout. It’s a great interview that’s well worth reading.

(h/t Robot 6)

The Webcomic Overlook 2011 Eisner round-up

Another year, another Eisner award ceremony.

Last year, I commented that the nominees up for the Best Digital Comic Award were a pretty strong bunch. I’m very happy to say that this year’s selections continue the tradition. The nominees come from far flung fields, stretching from political commentary to kid-friendly shenanigans, from a big hairy monster to little hairy gangsters to a humble high fantasy hero straight out of the Campbellian tradition.

You know what I find incredibly surprising, by the way? Almost all of the nominees can be defined as a black-and-white comic. In fact, two of them show up in the Best Black and White nominations of the Webcomic List Awards. Yes, I am totally patting myself in the back for being of the judging panel for the category that — like the Original/Adapted Screenplay awards at the Oscars — may be one of the boldest predictors to this year’s Eisner winner.

But who wins the Eisner? It’s time to dust off the SugarShock-o-meter and find out. It’s running 66% now. It correctly predicted a win for Joss Whedon in 2008 and a win for Cameron Stewart in 2010. It flubbed the 2009 pick though, selecting Vs. by Joe Infurnari over Finder by Carla Speed MacNeil. The Webcomic Overlook blames poor maintenance and crossed wires for that one. Several staff of Webcomic Overlook Central had to endure hours of re-education and savage beatings to ensure such an egregious mistake would never happen again.

How will the SugarShock-o-meter fare this year against the democratic vote of “comics creators, editors, publishers, and retailers”? Who takes home the award this July?

The Bean (reviewed here)

The webcomic in brief: the Chosen One, as predicted by prophecy and legend, goes on an epic quest to save the world… without the help of chocobos.

Pros: The beasties are original, the character interactions are well written, and there’s a very good chance that voters might confuse this with Larry Marder’s Beanworld.

Cons: The art is the least polished of the five nominees, and there’s little indication that is going to be any different from the standard Tolkien template … which has been imitated a thousand times already.

Sugarshock-o-meter: 73/100. An uphill battle, to be sure. The Bean was the one title that people were shocked to see on the ballot in the first place. It’s not a bad comic, but it does lack that extra oomph that you envision for an award winner. It’s in the same spot that Master and Commander: The Far Side of The World was at the Academy Awards: it’s a decent enough genre piece, but there’s little chance it’s winning the award.

Max Overacts (reviewed here)

The webcomic in brief: what happens if you cross Dennis the Menace with Niles Crane?

Pros: It’s a very sweet, very fun, and very cute comic. Having Max overact like a prissy theater major was pretty inspired.

Cons: Calvin & Hobbes did it!

Sugarshock-o-meter: 85/100. Caanan Grall is sort of not unknown among voters who follow the output of the print publishers only, as his Celadore did come out of DC’s Zuda imprint. But, then again, Bayou came from there too, and it failed to snag the big award last year. The obvious Academy Award comparison, by the way: Toy Story 3.

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