Saturday, November 12, 2011

FEEDING GROUND _ Back to the Future


Saturday, November 5th was "Flux Capacitor Day," the unofficial (as of yet) annual holiday celebrating Dr. Emmett Brown's innovation of the device that would make time travel possible. Swifty, Chris, and I did a little time traveling of our own recently at New York Comic Con where we had the great fortune of seeing so many old and new friends from our past who came out to support us, sometimes with artistic creations of their own or grown kids we had not yet met.

With the FEEDING GROUND Hardcover out on stores (and on Amazon) and the holidays fast approaching this seemed like a good time to reflect and do a round-up of key links and recent events from our FEEDING GROUND timeline, in reverse. You can see all FG-related blog posts HERE and we'll be detailing a select group below:

OCTOBER 31, 2011

In many ways for me, this event, organized by Chris, was the bow on my FEEDING GROUND experience. I had recently moved to Nashville and, even more so than at NYCC, this was a gathering of my closest friends who came to party. I was floored to have the modern Mexi-Polka band Rana Santacruz perform (they also scored the FG Trailer) and it made for the perfect so-long-for-now to the book and city of New York. You can see more photos and videos at our FG Facebook Page HERE.

OCTOBER 30, 2011

"Moody, tactical, arrogant and downright chilling—Sénor Blackwell is perhaps one of the greatest villains in recent comics history." - The Comic Book Snob

From the start, reviews let us know we existed and provided a constructive mirror to let us know how our craft and ideas were received. But, this pair of Halloween reviews (from Comic and The Comic Book Snob) also included us with distinguished company (SEVERED, THE WALKING DEAD, 30 DAYS OF NIGHT) that suggested that we've earned our space on the shelf alongside them.

OCTOBER 14-16, 2011

Did a fairly comprehensive Top 11 List of the Con HERE. Major highlights included signing all of the floppy issues of FEEDING GROUND for a fan (above) and participating on Archaia's HOW TO MAKE A GREAT GRAPHIC NOVEL PANEL. All five of my clips are up on my Youtube channel and you can watch the segment about Pitching, below:

SEPTEMBER 27, 2011

No fanfare, it was just there one day after over a year of work, and soon so was our first reader review. Even more than a critic's review, this was interpretation of the story that signaled to me that the book was out of my hands and belonged to the world.
Feeding Ground uniquely captures the spirit of "The American Dream". Historically, the crossings to this land have been fraught with both fear and unfairness. The werewolves of Feeding Ground serve as metaphors, and political reminders, of the "unwelcome mat" that has greeted countless groups of immigrants, who sniffed freedom, only to be turned away from our shores. A must read for those who still believe in the Emma Lazarus inscription at the base of Lady Liberty.

SEPTEMBER 21, 2011

Luis literally wrote the book on THE DEVIL'S HIGHWAY and his epic non-fiction prose educated us on the desert border; mind, body, and soul. It was an honor that he agreed to write the foreword to our Hardcover and his comments will always be all the affirmation we'll ever need. Be sure to check out both his novels and non-fiction work and you can read the foreword in my original post HERE.

APRIL, 2011

One person we wanted to give an extra shout out to is our editor Paul Morrissey. On top of the regular proofing and production work of getting the book out the door (along with Archaia house designer Scott Newman) he gave one particular note that changed the trajectory of the final chapter of our book. Basically, a happy ending for at least one of our family members. Even after all of the trials and traps that our family went through, with repercussions resonating across the landscape, Swifty was able a believable note of hope; that our survivors can still step with integrity into an uncertain future.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


One of the great honors in creating FEEDING GROUND has been the reaction we received from author/scholar Luis Alberto Urrea. In "The Devil's Highway: A True Story," Luis literally wrote the book on the too real horrors of the stretch US/Mexico desert that has consumed lives for centuries and continues to serve as a battlefront of modern immigration. He writes non-fiction that reads like epic poetry and presents an even-handed picture of all players in accounts that are harrowing, human, and darkly humorous. The book was a primary source of research in preparing FEEDING GROUND, our myth on the same subject, and it's with pride that we share Luis' Foreword to our Hardcover Collection, below:

by Luis Alberto Urrea

As a writer, I am repeatedly confronted with the same question:  What are the most Influential books in your life? I always want to answer:  Armadillo Comix #2 by Jim Franklin.  You see, I came to writing through drawing. As much as my dad hated it, Batman and Hawkman fueled visions that later remained in my prose; unspeakable visions, spoken.  I’d love to see how many of us in the writing trade owe our “cinematic” styles to early comics and graphic novels.

As huge as the craft has become, comic books retain enough outsider, underground cachet to tackle subjects many of us wouldn’t dare touch -- not in polite company, not at Tea Party rallies.  One shouldn’t approach such vile, filthy subject matter as the worth of a human life, the dignity of a human soul, or the value of, as Bob Dylan once sang, “these children that you spit on.”  I’m talkin’ to you, Mr. Politician.

And, here is a series of books that leaps deep into the brilliant heart of darkness: the damned (in every sense) and glorious border.  The place I write about.  The place where I was born.

Swifty Lang and I share an interest in the exquisite horror and beauty of the wastelands through which the undocumented wanderers must struggle.  It is a formidable region of unforgiving landscape and gods who rule with little mercy.  In my book, THE DEVIL’S HIGHWAY, I stated that we are all aliens in this landscape, what I call “Desolation.”  For fans of the occult, this comes from The Book of Enoch.  Yeah, the lands wherein the fallen Watchers and their earth spawn, The Nephilim, are chained beneath the burning desert mountains.  They wait to return for their revenge.

How stunned and delighted was I when these amazing comics arrived in my mailbox.  As all great graphic novels do, these books create a literary work of searing poetry and awe.  The art allows us to see things we might not be able to—or want to—imagine for ourselves.  That my work has had even a little to do with the genesis of this epic is as cool as it gets.  I laugh out loud in appreciation when I see the smugglers (Coyotes) and The Devil’s Highway itself, the sly gangsters come alive, as if they had jumped out of my book.  But I don’t laugh because it’s funny.  No. I’m whistling past the graveyard, amigos.  This shit’s scary.

What Feeding Ground has envisioned and what Lang, Lapinski and Mangun have captured, is the eldritch nature of this new myth.  The darkness at the heart of the sun-baked killing fields.  There is something…other about it.  There is something from our deep nightmares lurking there.  Yes, there is a relentless toll of suffering and death to go with the realistic adventure and thrills and violent action. That is a given—every border-book ever written deals with it. However, Border Patrol agents know, DEA agents know, the medicine people of those canyons and dunes know that something…other…lurks.

I’m trying to capture this Lovecraftian feeling in my own work.  Yeah, a little pissed that Swifty et al have done it first, and done it so well. This sensation is what the philosophers call “the sublime” in art.  It is beauty, but it is also terror. It’s a higher horror: a sense of the eternal, the dark, the overwhelming.  This epic is so addictive that it will lure you into a deep redrock canyon where the worst dream awaits.  It’s so bad; it’s so pretty.  It’s a festival of wonder that shows you the true awe of awful death.

Luis Alberto Urrea
Chicago, 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

FEEDING GROUND _ Found in Translation-FG Flip Book

CHRIS here:

When we pitched Feeding Ground to Archaia in 2008 at NYCC the first question the CEO & President PJ Bickett had was, “how do you feel about making each of the six issues a flip book, translated into Spanish?”  Right after being asked this question, Micheal Lapinski, who pitched it to PJ, called Swifty Lang and I to share the news that Archaia was interested in publishing our comic and that they wanted to translate it as a flip book (English on one side and Spanish on the other- same story). The uniqueness of the floppy flip book resides in the tactile weight and ease of flipping from cover to cover, and those Spanish speaking readers could read Feeding Ground in their native language. This was both an challenge and an opportunity to capture the nuances of Swifty Lang’s well written English dialogue. Either-way, it would be exciting to see how our story would translate.

The three of us were thrilled by the idea and thought it perfectly mixed with the set of our story on the Arizona/Mexico border.  Mike had one brilliant contingency though, that the flip book be set at the standard $3.95 single issue price point (thought being, no one would pay twice the amount for a floppy, and a new title to-boot). Archaia agreed. Feeding Ground Spanish/English Flip book was going to be an exclusive opportunity and only the single issues would be flip  books (the graphic novel would be stand alone as either English or Spanish books).  

As we eased into the production of our first floppy there were a few issue. For one, between the three of us, none of us spoke fluent Spanish.  Luckily, we found a few translators (translated by Nathalia Murray / Hard Cover being edited by an editor from Mexico) for the 6 issue trade and began a long journey of writing/revising and translating month to month with them.  Second, Diamond at the time was going through major market changes as comic shops across the country were greatly effected by the digital shift brought on by tablets and other incidental printing problems.  And, as we tirelessly worked on our first issue, we watched our published shift interests away from printing single issues to focus on printing only hard cover.  In fact, our property was the final floppy they were to publish. Lastly, to add to the complexity of production, our floppies were being printed in Korea, which at the time stood on the rim of war and had problems with shipping exports on time, making it hard to find our issue in many stores.  Needless to say, we regarded this opportunity as creators on a changing print frontier and cherished the medium we were working in as a once in a life time opportunity.

The first time we held our first issue “One in Ten” in hand in the fall of 2010 at Bergen Street Comics, the first thing we noticed was how heavy it was and others noticed too, like you were getting more than you paid for. The quality of the floppies semi-glossy offset coloring and tones looked outstanding.  We ran out of comics that night at Bergen Street and it introduced us to the scarcity of each issue.  Since, we have had trouble finding a few spare issues to hand to family and friends, which meant collecting each issue, even as creators, reminded us that floppies are a tactile joy, that unlike unlimited digital distribution there are a finite amount of printed floppies. In these fine days of curious curation, cataloguing music and films and comics, somehow that makes the floppy feel special.  After two years and six issues, our Feeding Ground flip book are finished printing (Issue Six is available for a limited time in stores) and we are as proud as we are humbled to find our art and story out there.  Give us a shout, let us know how you found the translation or flip book!

by Chris Mangun

FEEDING GROUND _ Something about the Floppy

SWIFTY here: Issue 6 hits the shelf today and it's certainly bittersweet. This will be the first opportunity I will have to see the issue itself in print.  Walking into stores I've been in countless times and seeing something I helped create on the shelves has been such a joyful experience. While the Hardcover is sure to reach an even wider audience, there has been something amazing about the floppies.

From the onset, and in nearly every review, the bilingual content of the floppy has been the most salient feature of the entire series. Those who have not even read the book know that FEEDING GROUND is "the flipbook". This brilliant publishing decision by Archaia has created an object that is truly memorable.

While I have stated that FEEDING GROUND is something to be read in its Hardcover edition, the floppy itself embodies our learning curve. There are some bits of dialogue that have changed in the Hardcover, panels that have been reworked: we have remastered the story.  But there is something about the imperfections, the mistakes we made along the way that have an earnestness that cannot be reproduced.

When I was a kid collecting baseball cards, it was the error cards that were the most valuable. Former Baltimore Oriole and Hall of Famer Cal Ripken's kid brother, Billy, had a Fleer Card that was rather infamous. He stands with hands clasped, bat handle exposed on which there was written the expletive "Fuck Face". Whether or not this was just a prank by the young second baseman or an honest mistake was certainly something that was hotly contested at the time. The fact that Ripken's questionable demarcation created such a fervor signals not only how long ago this incident occurred, but how far removed we are as  culture from valuing mass produced objects.

What is amazing about comics that is different from all other forms of media right now, is that comics are still collectible. Their digital counterpart transforms something meaningful into something highly disposable. There is still a palpable sense of nostalgia anytime you walk into a comic shop. So if you can, get your hands on Issue 6, the last of the series. We are certainly proud of it. The story is definitely memorable. But the comic itself, the flipbook, is unforgettable.



Thursday, July 7, 2011

CLIFFHANGERS - Floppies vs. The Trade

FG issue 5 is on the stands! We have been hard at work perfecting the Graphic Novel that is slated for release October 2011 at NYCC. One thing that has become clear is that there is a new appreciation for the book now that more of the story is available.

FG is a story to be enjoyed and debated about as a complete series. Though it was released with episodic, cliffhangers in mind, it was conceived of as a complete narrative. One cannot appreciate the nuance or scope of the tale without the ENTIRE story on hand. The question of the narrative value of the floppy vs. the trade is one publishers, artists, and fans have been contemplating for years. Our publisher Archaia has clearly taken a stand as all of their forthcoming titles are stand-alone Trades.

Below are some recent reviews that reflect this observation.

Here is an excellent, very thoughtful review courtesy of the Comic Pull Box. They called FG, "A brilliant thinker worth reading all at once!"

The bible of horror magazines, Fangoria, had a lot of love for FEEDING GROUND. Check out Jorge Solis' review:

Despite weighing in on some of the controversy depicting Michael Lapinski's bold reimagining of the werewolf (we couldn't be prouder of Mike's work), Geeks of Doom gave FEEDING GROUND an excellent write-up:

Consider the floppies a hot collectible because of the bi-lingual flipbook, and the pin-ups that you can't find in any other edition.  Issues 5&6 will be at SDCC (along with the entire FG Team), so make sure to swing by the Archaia booth and snag your copy!!


- Swifty

Monday, April 25, 2011

FEEDING GROUND: Press and Process


I'm in the thick of finishing art on the sixth and final issue of FEEDING GROUND.  Haven't had time for a long process post in a while so I thought I would share links to some in-depth interviews.

After an extremely well-considered review of the first four issues by the guys at The Pullbox, they had us on for a Q&A that breaks down some of the inspiration of the book as well as the steps of our production chain.

Likewise, Chris and I had a fun conversation with horror comic maven Decapitated Dan about FG and horror books in general.  One question we addressed: why do our werewolves kinda look like baboons?  I guess I'm hearing second-hand that some readers weren't so hot on the design.  What about you?

Lastly, we were chosen as the "Sunday Pick" by Kate over at Functional Nerds.

Cool, cool.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

MICHAEL HERE: Swifty, Chris, and I had ourselves a table at our first Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art Festival in NYC this past weekend.  It was a spacious and good-spirited event but I didn't have much of a chance to walk around to see what other creators were bringing to the table.  Really cool though to introduce new readers to FEEDING GROUND and to hear back from fans who have been reading along.  Below are a few other personal highlights from the weekend:

I had contributed art for a 2-page story in the premiere issue of this GrayHaven Comics anthology and Swifty and I are going to have another one in their upcoming Issue #4.  So, it was a sweet surprise to have been situated as neighbors right next to their table.  Led by Andrew Goletz, the anthology started as a forum for pairing first-time artists and writers from the Jinxworld message boards.  Wrapped with covers and art direction by the talented Aaron Bir, the collection is a fresh voice of dedication and enthusiasm. Writer Doug Hahner was also on hand. He wrote one of my favorite stories in Issue 1 and a nicer guy you never did meet.


I devour podcasts as I work and this is the only one that disrupts my inking with laughter.  Ostensibly a comic podcast, the real attraction for me is the banter between friends Mike Dawson and Alex Robinson.  I was a cartoonist in college along with Mike and his professional work is one of the factors that encouraged me to get back into comics.  They've had me on the show in the past and this weekend I got to sub in for a stricken panelist at a live recording of the show at MoCCA, sharing convention stories with cartoonists Daniel Spottswood and John Kerschbaum and regaling the audience with my tale of destroying Capt. Lou Albano's car.  Also check out Mike's Pro T.I.P.S for more in-depth discussions with creators about the work and glamour of being a cartoonist.


-  I didn't get to see much, but the book LIAR'S KISS by Top Shelf was one attractive number that I planned on picking up.  Others agreed and it was sold out before I could grab it.

- I did get to buy GB Tran's VIETNAMERICA an incredible tome of personal journalism executed in a visual language that feels like memory to me.  Bonus - it came with the special convention cover that is a folded copy of a poster design for the book.

- I met one of my comic icons, Bill Sienkiewicz, and didn't embarrass myself all that much. I first discovered his work as a child with the “Badlands” issue of the "Demon Bear" run of THE NEW MUTANTS sandwiched between two other books in a supermarket 3-pack. It was a disturbing, challenging, find that not only opened my eyes to comics as art but the power of art in general. It continues to affect me and my work to this day. Check out this article on CBR to see images of the run and give yourself an idea on what sort of influence he had on the industry at a particular point in time.

- Swifty and I had dinner with our Editor-in-Chief at Archaia, Stephen Christy.  I am proud to be a part of a company that publishes important, attractive, work that is evolving our concept of what a comic book and comic book company can be in 2011.  Their recent Wonder Con announcements have me stoked as a comic fan, none more so than the care and vision that Stephen is putting into the graphic novel adaptation of Jim Henson's unpublished screenplay A TALE OF SAND.  Stephen is a guy who gets it, delivering quality packaging and promotion always in service of Story.