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Friday, January 20, 2012

SPOTLIGHT: New Interview with RIC MEYERS

New Interview with one of my oldest friends, Ric Meyers. He found me--as fate would have it-- at a Dallas Fantasy Faire when I was around 21 years old, suffering from food poisoning from bad Chinese food, and apparently foaming at the mouth, comatose, in the lobby of the hotel. According to him I was radiant...sitting in a shaft of light.

We've been friends ever since.

In addition to everything else, Ric is an incredibly prolific and insightful creator. He is now being booked by Eva Ink Artist Group for conventions, book signings and speaking engagements. Interview originally appears here: http://forums.jazmaonline.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4052

See Ric at a convention this year-- it's always fun and engaging to hear him discuss a myriad of subjects...just be smarter than me and avoid the all you can eat buffets.


(Writers Ric Meyers and Renee Witterstaetter, circa mid 90's, charity fundraiser for the Beardsley Zoo in CT.)

Ric Meyers
Interviewed by: Richard Vasseur/Jazma VP
Posted: 20/01/2012

Rich: You wrote the first Incredible Hulk novel for Pocket Books. What was the story about, and how much input did you have in the storyline?

Ric: Bruce Banner goes to see the world's leading radiation specialist, only to witness the expert's abduction by agents from the African nation he defected from. Banner hopes the abducted doctor can save him from his Hulky curse, so he chases him, and all manner of mayhem and pathos ensues.
I wrote it some time ago, but, as near as I can recall, I had total freedom in the creation of the book. I believe the project was brought to me as a fait accompli by my literary agent. It was my understanding that Pocket Books wanted a published novelist to write this third book in the "Marvel Novel Series" because they weren't totally satisfied by the ones written just by comic scripters.

My agent thought it was a no-brainer: I had edited and written for Atlas Comics, was friendly with Kenneth Johnson, who ran the Hulk TV show, and had several published books, both fiction and non-fiction, on my resume.

I had a great time with the Hulk, and managed to squeeze in several things I had always wanted to do. All too often, I felt his transformation was initiated by fear or pain, so I wanted to put anger back at the forefront. I always felt that the Hulk was anger personified, not fear or pain personified. I also always wanted his change to be fast -- a veritable explosion of rage. So all that, and more, is in the book.

Rich:Why did you decide to write books about martial arts, and how did your interest in this develop?

Ric: I was hanging out at Larry Hama's office at Marvel Comics in 1978, complaining that producers always made comicbook movies or TV shows campy in some way. I had just come from the set of the Richard Donner/Chris Reeve Superman, which I was reporting on for Starlog magazine (ironically I finished the Hulk novel literally moments before I headed to the airport to start my extended Superman set visit).

Anyway, I wished there was a movie that took superheroes seriously, and Larry just said "Follow me." He brought me down to the now defunct Bleeker Street Cinema, where a matinee of Baby Cart in the Land of Demons, one of the greatest samurai movies of all time, was playing.

I was stunned with delight by that, but Larry said "We're not finished," and brought me immediately down to the now defunct Canal Street Cinema, where Drunken Monkey in a Tiger's Eye (aka Jackie Chan's Drunken Master) was playing.

Well, that astonished me, so I went to every book store and library to find out more about these things called martial art movies. Happily, there was Alain Silver's landmark book, The Samurai Film, to educate me about the Japanese side of the equation, but there was precious little about kung fu films, if anything, on any shelf.

By then I had already written several film books, so I went to one of my publishers -- the great Citadel Press -- and asked if I could write about martial arts movies. They said "sure," gave me the same deal as my previous book for them (The Great Science Fiction Films), and off I went.

Luckily, Ocean Shores Limited wanted someone to educate video stores about the kung fu films they hoped to import into America, and World Northal wanted someone to educate TV stations about the Shaw Brothers Studio movies they wanted to syndicate in the "Black Belt Theater" package they had created.

I was that weird guy at the right time with a book contract in my pocket, so they threw open their doors in both New York and Hong Kong. Much to my amazement and delight I was introduced to Jackie Chan only a few months after I had discovered him.

Rich:How does it feel to be considered an expert on martial arts films, and what unusual jobs has this led to?

Ric: Fine. One of the reasons I got to do things like the Hulk novel, the Dirty Harry book series, and other stuff like that is that I showed myself to be, one, someone who could actually finish the job in a professional (i.e., publishable) manner, and two, I really liked this stuff and could share my love with the reader in a, hopefully, engaging and entertaining way.

To do that, I had to, as much as possible, know what I was talking about, which has led to an on-going martial art education. In the more than thirty years I've been doing this, I've met thousands of martial art teachers, students, movie makers, actors, choreographers, and fans -- some of whom have been inspired by my enthusiasm.
One of the most influential of which was Jonathan Ross, who is occasionally considered the David Letterman, or even the Howard Stern, of England, who I met through one of his researcher's love of my book For One Week Only: The World of Exploitation Films. Although originally engaged to offer insights on the Herschell Gordon Lewis episode of Jonathan's The Incredibly Strange Film Show, I kept telling him about Chan and sending him Jackie movies.

So when it came time for The Son of the Incredibly Strange Film Show in 1988, Jonathan took me back to Hong Kong and made a Jackie Chan episode, which really led to Jackie's true breakout in America after two previous abortive attempts (The Big Brawl and The Protector [not to be confused with Tony Jaa's later film of the same, changed, name]).

Following that was a bunch of other fun stuff, like my column for Inside Kung Fu and Asian Cult Cinema magazines; creating cover copy, liner notes, and interviews for more than 300 international DVDs; teaching at colleges; and even doing kung fu seminars for the first Kung Fu Panda film and the subsequent TV series.

Who have you worked with or interviewed in the world of martial arts?

Ric: Well, geez, so many. Jackie, Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Gordon Liu, Lo Lieh, Wang Lung-wei, Kara Hui Ying-hung, Angela Mao, Sammo Hung, Yuen Baio, Michelle Yeoh, Linda Lee, Brandon Lee, Shannon Lee, Tony Jaa, Chow Yun-fat, Tsui Hark, John Woo, Stephen Chow, Lo Mang, Liu Chia-yung, Conan Lee, Aaron Norris, Michael Jai White, Tan Tao-liang, Cynthia Rothrock, Richard Norton, Ang Lee, Zhang Yimou, Stanley Tong, Simon Yam, Ronny Yu -- and that's just off the top of my head. There are a bunch more stunt people and others involved in the business as well.

Rich:I understand that you run a film program at the SDCC every year, what does this entail?

Ric: It's called the San Diego Comic Con Superhero Kung Fu Extravaganza, which I, and Frank Djeng, an exec at Tai Seng Entertainment, started some time in the late 1990's, and it's been going ever since.

Most of the time it's a three-hour, Thursday night event where I show the best action scenes from the previous year's martial art movies between giveaways (of posters, DVDs, or whatever) and special surprise guests.

Rich:Have you ever done any martial arts training, and if so, what type and what benefit have you seen?

Ric: When I started researching martial art movies, naturally I started researching martial arts as well. If I hadn't, it would be like a Chinese writer coming to the U.S. and doing a book about baseball movies without knowing how the game is played.

A good friend of mine ran the Philadelphia Judo Club, so I started there, but I noticed that no veteran student had full use of at least one major joint, so I continued my search elsewhere before that happened to me. Two more friends taught Jiu-jitsu in New York City, so I carried on with them.

Both techniques were cool and interesting, but nothing was helping me understand the styles in my favorite kung fu films. Also, I ran into the American martial art mentality, which is on full display in films like the original Karate Kid and The Fist Foot Way. It's generally known as McMartialArts, or "nothing is worth having if I can't pay for it" or "it's worthless if I can't look badass, kickass or awesome."

So I just kept independent, casting a skeptical eye on teachers who hurt their students, or said things that didn't add up, or demanded that I learn only from them. Then, in 2002, I literally stumbled across the World Taichi Championships in Taiwan. There I met world heavyweight push-hands champion Stephen Watson, who, incredibly, had a school thirty minutes away from me in America!

"When the student is ready, the teacher will appear," he told me with a smile. Well, he was the greatest teacher I ever met, and before long, he started introducing me to his teachers and peers, like Rick Barrett, Don Ethan Miller, Willem De Thouars, and Avi Schneier. On that same Taiwan trip, I also met Lee Feng-san at the Meiman Qigong Culture Center in Taipei. Google and/or youtube these guys. They are more amazing than you can imagine (how do I know? Easy. They were more amazing than I could imagine until I met, and learned, from them).

Through these gentlemen I learned, and am still learning, loads of helpful things for my body, mind, and ego. As much as Stephe doesn't care about awards, he brought me to a fistful of tournaments where I collected a bunch of gold medals and trophies (the International Chinese Martial Arts Championship, the USA Wushu Kung Fu Federation National Championship, the International Chinese Martial Arts Championship, yada yada yada).
Meanwhile Master Lee taught me Pingshuai, what could be described as a personal form of Feng Shui. In other words, what authentic feng shui can do for the energy in your home, I've found pingshuai seems to be doing that for the energy, the "chi," in my body. When I started doing it in 2002, I was succumbing to many a sedentary writer's curse: bad back, bad knees, low energy, etc. Since I've been doing pingshuai daily, my legs and back have given me little or no problem, and I don't need any coffee or stimulants like that.

It's had some notable effects on other things, too. I used to get colds three times a year like clockwork. When I started playing Santa annually, I'd get sick as many as a half dozen times in six weeks. Now, for whatever magical reason, (but I think it's the pingshuai), I haven't had a full-scale cold in ten years. Go figure.

Rich:Who is The Destroyer and what about his character makes you like writing about him?

Ric: Ah! The Destroyer! The Destroyer was the second biggest selling men's adventure paperback series in the 70's and 80's (the top selling series was Don Pendleton's Executioner, who The Punisher was "borrowed" from).

The Destroyer's creators, Richard Sapir and Warren Murphy, wrote twenty-four amazing satirical thrillers in the series before they got tired. So Warren put an ad in The Westport News which read "Ghost Writer wanted. No glory, lots of money."

My father sent me the ad. By then, my comic and film book mentor, Jeff Rovin, had secured me some non-fiction book contracts, but I was anxious to try my hand at fiction. I answered the ad, and met with Warren, who eventually gave me the go-ahead to write a Destroyer novel (#25: Sweet Dreams).

"Was it because of the great writing sample I gave you?" I asked (a portion of a Sinbad the Sailor novel I was working on). "No," Warren answered. "That was crap. It was your cover letter. That was the best cover letter I ever read." Just goes to show, it pays to sweat the details.

Warren, like Jeff, was an amazing editor, and taught me more than I can remember. When I handed in that first Destroyer manuscript, he read it and said "The difference between you and me, kid, is that I know the names of the problems." I was in writing-student-heaven.

Then, as now, I never wanted anyone to pat me on the head and say my stuff was ok. Nor did I want someone to tear it up and say it sucked. All I wanted was someone who knew the names of the problems and would explain them to me so I could improve. I've been lucky to have several people like that in my life (including doctors and lawyers).

In any case, The Destroyer is Remo Williams, an ex-cop who was framed for murder and electrocuted -- only to wake up and be trained as a secret assassin for CURE, a "nonexistent" three-man agency that goes outside the constitution to protect the constitution. One man was the brains, Harold Smith, one, Remo, was the brawn, and one, Chiun, was Remo's teacher. Chiun, however, was the Korean master of Sinanju, the sun source of martial arts.

Already, what's not to like? Dick and Warren were brilliant writers, but they didn't know martial arts -- yet, they were so knowledgeable about life, that they kind of did (remember, the word "kung fu" actually means "human achievement," not martial arts). Instinctively, they had Remo doing things that seemed incredible to the casual viewer, but were totally in the realm of kung fu possibility.

But what made the series sing was the relationship between the ex-cop and the 100 pound, ninety year old Chiun, who would put a convention of Jewish mothers to shame. That was combined with the team's wonderfully layered plots, which were full of human touches and insight far beyond normal men.

Every book was a joy. I went on to write #27: The Last Temple, and #29: The Final Death (which introduced Chinese Vampires to American fiction) until I broke the unwritten law of ghost-writing. Apparently I wasn't supposed to proudly tell everyone I met I was writing the Destroyer. And I was especially not supposed to find and visit the artist, the great Hector Garrido, who painted the Destroyer book covers and get my own -- especially when Dick and Warren had never received one.

Rich:What was your contribution to the 60th anniversary issue of Detective Comics?

Ric: Actually I got the numbers wrong. In my pop culture travels, I had become friends with Batman writer/editor Denny O'Neill (as well as "discovered" future Batman artist Marshall Rogers, securing him his first professional assignment). Even so, I was gratified and honored when Denny asked me to contribute an essay for the 50th Anniversary Adventure, Blind Justice (Detective Comics issue 598).

In the essay, I differentiated the "superhero" -- a person who gets their powers from outside themselves -- and the "suprahero" -- a person who gets their powers from within themselves -- a delineation that has remained strong in my kung fu education.

Rich:What are your latest books that you have had published, the influences for them, the subject matter?

Ric: Taking a cue from movies, my latest books are reboots of some of my previous books. A publisher contacted me, asking if I wanted to do new versions of my two previous martial art movie books (Martial Arts Movies: From Bruce Lee to the Ninja and Great Martial Arts Movies: From Bruce Lee to Jackie Chan and More) as well as For One Week Only: The World of Exploitation Films. I did, so I did.

F.O.W.O.'s title remains the same, but the exploitation film genre as it once was is no more, so the book went from being a testimonial to a memorial. But, given that I was approached in 2008 to write a documentary about kung fu films, I took the opportunity to write a book on the same subject -- eliminating the samurai, ninja, karate, judo, muy thai, and taekwondo content of the previous works.

The result was Films of Fury: The Kung Fu Movie Movie (presently on Cablevision, Cox, Comcast, and Insight video on demand, and on DVD March 27th, 2012) as well as Films of Fury: The Kung Fu Movie Book, available on Amazon, among other places, as both a book and an e-book.

Rich:What do you have planned for the future, upcoming releases etc?

Ric: Presently, I'm working with Renee Witterstaetter and Little Eva Ink on a book about a certain jolly bearded fellow, using all the actual questions he's been asked over the last ten years. Right now it's called "Santa Confidential" and is illustrated by Chris Browne, the award-winning artist of the Hagar the Horrible comic strip as well a contributor to Playboy, The National Lampoon, and The New Yorker. It should be ready by holiday time.

I also appeared in two movies this year. I did a cameo as a heinous, but weirdly bearded, New York drug lord in a direct-to-DVD thriller called The Suppressor at the request of the great Ara Paiaya, and then, through Ara's arrangement, played a much more heinous, but more understandably bearded, terrorist in Black Day, a feature film made for the Iranian market (?!).

Quite an adventure. We'll see if they need me for any promotions, or even sequels.

Rich:Why have you used pseudonyms when writing books, and what are the benefits and negatives of this?

Ric: Well, I started as a ghost writer for Warren and Dick, but then was asked by Warner Books to try my hand at some Dirty Harry novels. Clint Eastwood had said that he wasn't going to do any more Harry movies, but Warners still thought they could make money off the character. Hence the book series.

Unfortunately, they felt they needed more than one writer to keep the quickly published books on schedule, so a "house name," Dane Hartman (notice the initials?), was created by the Warners editor. It's a long tradition, best exemplified by such pulp magazines/books as Doc Savage and The Shadow, as well as teen adventure series like The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. They also used "house names."

On the one hand, if you're not enthusiastic about the assignment, it's quick, if not easy, money. On the other, if you're honorable, it's annoying when your fellow authors let the seams show (in the first non-me Harrys they didn't even spell his last name right -- until I insisted upon creating a series "bible").

Then the chief editor of the "Men of Action" books, of which Dirty Harry was the crown jewel, knew of my martial art experience and asked me to take over the Ninja Master series, so I became "Wade Barker" for that. Ultimately, Warners gave me that entire series as well, resulting in two epic, solo-penned, tetrologies (Year of the Ninja Master and War of the Ninja Master). Eventually they even bequeathed me the sole ownership of the fake author's name.

Once I started down the "house name" path, my literary agent was happy to sell me to editors looking for someone quick and hopefully good. So I also became Bryan Swift for the Mac Wingate war series. By then I had done around twenty books, and saw the writing on the wall. I had too great a self-worth issue to write under pseudonyms for long.

The actual titles and numbers of the books I did in these series can be found on my website, ricmeyers.com, as are the science-fiction, fantasy, mystery, and horror novels I wrote under varying versions of my own name.

Rich:What is RIC Heavy Industries LLC and what do you do there?

Ric: That's just my limited corporation to serve as an umbrella for all that I do: writing, editing, consulting, and performing.

Rich:Which super-hero would you want to write a book about that you have not, and why, ie. what do you think you'd bring to the table that would be different and uniquely you?

Well, I've always loved Daredevil, because a lot of what Jackie Chan did in his Hong Kong films reminded me of Daredevil come-to-life, and also because Daredevil is blind the way Zatoichi, the legendary blind swordsman of Japanese cinema, is blind.

There's more than twenty-five films in the Zatoichi series, and they're all great. A main reason is because the films are ABOUT blindness. But not just the hero's sightlessness -- the villains are even MORE blind: blinded by hate, blinded by lust, blinded by power. It creates a dynamic that's engrossing and exciting.

If I could bring the same dynamic, content, context, and insight to a Daredevil book or script, along with my knowledge of martial arts, I believe they could be as great as a Jackie and Zatoichi collaboration.

Then there's Wonder Woman-- the female optimum and human embodiment of heterosexual hypocrisy. Or, as I occasionally put it: I'd love to treat you like a human being, but what do I do with these hormones?

I would really enjoy doing a 100% undiluted, both-barrels version of Wonder Woman. I'd have everyone react to her in the way they would actually react to such a goddess in real life. And I'd have her learn about human disingenuousness, desire, perversity, and pride from the way she's treated.

Being a goddess, she would not only be physically powerful, but mentally so as well -- using man's resentment, frustration, anger, and lust against them. Just imagine a seemingly submissive and naive stranger in a strange land who's actually the galaxy's greatest dominatrix with no neuroses, all that strength, an invisible plane, and a lariat of truth.

Rich:For a person as busy as you seem to be, how do you spend any free time you happen to get?

Ric: I've tried to organize my life so I can do for a living what I would do for free. As a writer and performer, human behavior and the world around it are all part of what I need to know to do what I do. Everything is research to me.

Besides, as soon as I find something I like, I find out more until I love it, and then I look for ways to share that love with others. I love eating, sleeping, thinking, writing, editing, acting, driving, swimming, flying, walking, taichi, qigong, shooting, shopping, movies, TV, theater, dance, music, reading, and friends.

So I don't distinguish between work and play, free time and busy time. It's all the same to me. As the great masters say: understand human nature, understand mother nature, understand your own nature, then you will know kung fu.

Rich:How can someone contact you?

ric4kungfu@gmail.com, and you can check out the websites: ricmeyers.com, www.filmsoffury.com, and www.insidekung-fu.com. Also I'll be on the Eva Ink website shortly at: www.evainkartistgroup.com

For booking me into conventions etc., please contact Renee Witterstaetter at: evaink@aol.com

Rich:Do you have any last words for all your fans, advice, directives?

Ric: Fans? I have fans?!

In any case, one of the things I now teach is what I call mental martial arts. After all, who's the one person Bruce Lee never defeated? Himself. So I try to help everyone, martial artists and non-martial artists, to not defeat themselves.

I start with two suggestions.

There may be many people who want to hurt you or hold you back. Don't be one of them.
And, love yourself at least as much as that which you say you love the most.
Then, of course, we get into what love is, and that's another story.

--Richard Vasseur

Monday, January 16, 2012


One of the newest fantastic creative talents to join Eva Ink Artist Group. We could not be happier to have Dennis Calero on board. Be sure to contact us regarding his signings, bookings, commissions and assignments.

Thanks to Richard Vasseur for the great interview!

--Renee Witterstaetter
Eva Ink Artist Group

Original Post Here: http://forums.jazmaonline.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4029


Dennis Calero
Interviewed by: Richard Vasseur/Jazma VP
Posted: 16/01/2012

Rich: You worked on "X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain" which X-Men did you illustrate here, and which were the most enjoyable and why?

On both Xmen Noir (no hyphen) and the sequel, Fred Van Lente and I got the chance to reinvent some of our favorite X heroes as psychopathic criminals and had a lot of fun doing it. Gambit was particularly fun because our version is such a straight up bastard, sort of an extension of what's usually hinted at in the prime universe of books. My personal favorite though was Cyclops because no one caught on that he was using his supposedly glass eye (why he was called Cyclops in our world) to look through his sniper rifle scope!

Would you like to illustrate a X-title now and which one, and why?

Dennis: I seem to occasionally circle back to X-Factor, which is always fun and I have a special affinity with those characters, especially since I modeled all of them on me and my friends. Working with Peter David is always a fun challenge as well. I don't know if he counts in regards to the question, but I would love to do a Deadpool story.

Rich: You have written "Weapon X Noir" would you like to do more writing?

Dennis: Writing is such a distinct pleasure and Weapon X Noir was actually originally for someone else to draw (which is why there was so much detail in the circus scenes, which I was then mad at myself for!). But it was a real pleasure and I've written some material for entertainment and my own comics, and look forward to eventually doing more.

In the "JLA 80-Page Giant" which heroes and villains did you draw and did you have any favorites, and if so, why?

I drew Batman and Plastic man go to Dante's Hell, essentially and it was such a strange and engaging duo of characters in this odd environment so I still don't feel I've really drawn a Batman story, per s�. Batman, to me, is Gotham the way that Kirk is the Enterprise, so to speak, and you can't really tell the story of one without the other.

While working on "Doctor Solar" what characteristics did your art bring out in him?

I'm bummed that circumstances didn't allow me to draw more Solar and work with Jim Shooter more, but what little I did, especially that first alternate cover, was a straight up fan flare for Ivan Reis on Green Lantern and I hoped that with time that Dr. S could become the Dark Horse Green Lantern, but alas it wasn't to be. I've discovered reading about the careers of artists that I admire, as well as my own, there are always disappointments and missteps and things that just aren't to be.

I also wanted to slowly begin to bring out a sense of aloofness that I feel would be inevitable for a character like Solar, who really wasn't human anymore but maybe, for a little while, could fool others, and himself, into thinking he was. A little of Alan Moore's Miracleman there too.

You have worked on the "Darktower" comics based on Stephen King's books what look did you give to the story, and how did you decide on that look?

Dennis: I had the pleasure of drawing the illustrations for Robyn's backmatter, filling in the blanks on a lot of the world of Gilead and its history and thus privy to a lot of cool stuff like that, as a fan of the Dark Tower series, it was a thrill to find out a month ahead of the fans!

Are you a fan of Stephen King's writting, what are your options of the importance of his work, if so?

Dennis: I've read every published word he's written, and got to work on some cool BIG Dark Tower projects that I can't discuss. It was a thrill. I also may have an announcement soon further to this.

King is our Edgar Allen Poe, our mark Twain, and it's fascinating to me how public criticism of his work has evolved from simply dismissive, to aggressively negative to accepting to wildly positive. He is, with Jonathan Irving and others, one of the key voices of American literature right now. I'm reading 11/22/63 right now and really enjoying it. The DOME was also terrific and I highly recommend CELL.

Rich: How and why did you start Atomic Paintbrush?

Dennis: I started it because I was a young artist fresh out of college and needed a job! And computer color was then a new thing, just a few years old. In fact, I was the second person to computer color anything, an ad in my case, at Marvel. It was new and as a trained painter, I think I had an affinity to color. To my advantage, a lot of really talented colorists were poo-pooing the computer as a tool at the time, which opened the door for us young turks and our Mac's installed with Photoshop 3.0. As a (slightly) older artist now, it is a lesson that has stayed with me: always be ready to learn.

What is the "Devil Inside" and what is it about?

Dennis: "Devil Inside" is my webcomic that I created with Todd Stashwick of HEROES and The Riches fame. The short pitch is "The Devil Quits" but of course it's much more than that. Todd and I have worked hard to craft a world that is informed by a supernatural reality that is unlike anything you've ever scene. One part Sandman and one part Kerouac, it is also uniquely American.

Rich: How do you feel about being a comics professional, and why did you choose this profession?

I'm one of those lucky few that wake up every morning and does what he would do if I didn't HAVE to work. I make a nice living illustrating the characters and locales that I grew up with as a fan and get to create NEW worlds for people to explore.

Comics was, put simply, one of the only jobs in which I could draw for a living. It's my vocation and my art, and again, it's what I would do if I didn't HAVE to do anything.

If you could have one super power what would it be and why?

All my favorite heroes have MORE than one power so I don't know why I always have to narrow it down to one! But if I do, then I would want to fly, and fast. I would love the thrill of traveling through the air and also being able to go anywhere, anytime, fast, without the use of a car or plane or whatever.

How can someone contact you?

You can always reach me through my agent at Eva Ink Artist Group, Renee Witterstaetter at evaink@aol.com or through the company website at: www.evainkartistgroup.com; and check her blog for updates about my activities at: http://witterstaetterwrites.blogspot.com/

Any parting words for all your fans?

First, remember this stuff we all love doesn't come out of a machine. It's made by flesh and blood people trying really hard to make cool stuff for you! And I love doing it, so thank you!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Nothin' Like a Bowl of Gumbo, Ya'll! (Except Two Bowls of Gumbo!)

Writing about the upcoming Wizard New Orleans show has made me hungry.

I mean REALLY hungry... my mind goes to Shrimp Etouffee, Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice, breakfast at Cafe du Monde, oyster po-boys... and yes.... GUMBO!

My Aunt Margaret--my Dad's older sister--lived in New Orleans by the time I was born. My Mom and Dad went to visit her shortly after they were married, long before the advent of me.

(Mom and Dad on their Wedding Day.)

My Mom recounts how she was rather shocked by the goings on down on Bourbon Street. But they still went to The Court of Two Sisters, Pat O'Brien's and the same places that are still in the French Quarter today. (And yes, ya gotta check the side streets for the most awesome places! The hole in the wall places frequented by locals.)

Of course, when you were visiting Aunt Margaret, good food was never far away. As soon as you walked in the door, there was a pot of Gumbo in the works, etouffee planned for the next day, huge piles of crayfish on newspaper--bright red and inviting, and the thought of picking up some po-boys on French bread to take on a road trip to see the plantations was never out of mind.

Yes, we went there almost every summer--loaded into my Dad's truck and driving more than 8 hours, on an old 2 lane highway from Texarkana through Louisiana-- and every summer I gained five pounds.

It was worth it.

I have a clear vision of Aunt Margaret in one of her brightly colored dresses, multi-tasking the kitchen into a frenzy, her two little chichuas, waiting patently for their baked chicken breast to be cut up (no canned food for them), the giant Great Dane trying to desperatly get under foot with much lovable success, and my dear Uncle Al--the real Cajun, looking at the whole scene bemused.

(With Aunt Margaret at the New Orleans house.)

I so loved going to their house.

I loved New Orleans.

To Aunt Margaret, much like me, she cooked for the people she loved. I think she must have loved us a bunch...

So, you can bet your boots that when Wizard New Orleans rolls around, you'll find me frequenting my favorite haunts, sampling some fantastic food, and dancing a little Zydeco.

That's the way it's gotta be, ya'll. Aunt Margaret would say so.


Here's a little bit of New Orleans for all of you. A wonderful Gumbo recipe. It takes some time, but soooo worth it.

New Orleans Gumbo

Recipe Yields 10 servings

• 2 tablespoons butter
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 cups chopped onion
• 3/4 cup chopped celery
• 1 pound okra, chopped
• 1/4 cup butter
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 pound cubed beef stew meat (optional, I don't use it)
• 8 cups water
• 1 (16 ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
• 1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
• 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
• 1 sprig fresh thyme
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 pinch salt
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
• 1 pinch ground black pepper
• 1 pound Andouille sausage, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
• 1/2 pound crabmeat, flaked
• 1 pound medium shrimp - peeled and deveined
• 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
• 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
• 1/2 lemon
• file gumbo powder

1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic, onions, celery and okra, stirring constantly until golden brown. Set aside.

2. In a large heavy bottomed stock pot over medium-high heat, combine 1/4 cup of butter and flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until the roux becomes chocolate brown. (Be careful here, I still have the scars on my leg from when I was 10 and the bubbling roux decided to take leap.) Stir in the vegetable mixture, and stew meat. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender, and meat is evenly brown. Stir in water, tomatoes and sugar. Season with parsley, thyme, bay leaves, salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
3. Add shrimp, crabmeat and andouille to stock pot. Stir in hot pepper sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Remove seeds from lemon and squeeze juice into stock pot. Simmer an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaves, sprinkle with file powder, and serve.
4. Serve over rice or alone.

Note: File Gumbo Powder can be added off the heat to thicken the gumbo. If added while the gumbo is still cooking, it may become stringy and unpleasant. File powder is ground sassafras leaves. It is available in many supermarkets, or you can find it on line.

Enjoy! ANDdon't forget the hot sauce, ya'll!

Saturday, January 14, 2012


From Reporter Richard Vasseur. Original post, different Triano artwork, and website here:


Read on! In our Special SPOTLIGHT on Matt Triano.

Matt Triano
Comic Book Artist
Published by: Moonstone, DC, Atomic Press, Zenescope
Interviewed by: Richard Vasseur/Jazma VP
Posted: 14/01/2012

Rich: Action Boy is the backup story in "Captain Action" how do these heroes compare to each other?

Matt: Captain Action has two iterations, the original Cold War hero and the modern adventurer; Sean Barret/Action Boy was partner of the first Captain Action, but the stories we told about him in the CA Second Feature took place before his days as a costumed adventurer. Each character struggles against the unknown: the alien without and the alien within. Sean Barrett's adolescence brought strange powers and painful memories to the fore, exposing secrets of his childhood that would lead him on the path to becoming Action Boy. The characters relate to the reader as a metaphor for accepting change. Fun stuff to work on as an artist.

Rich: What other characters besides Action Boy do you get to draw in the comic?

I drew Sean and his family in flashback, as well as his schoolmates and teachers at the academy, Captain Action among them.

Rich: Would you like to draw an entire issue of "Captain Action"?

Matt: Captain Action is a content-rich character with a strong multimedia following; it would be a lot of fun to contribute to that legacy, and why stop at just one!

Rich: You worked on DC's "Halloween Special '09" did you have fun doing Red Robin, how did you make him stand out?

Matt: At the time that story was published, Bruce Wayne/Batman had been 'killed' by Darkseid in the last issue of Final Crisis. Tim Drake/Red Robin was the only member of the Bat Family to actively search for his mentor and surrogate father, refusing to accept the loss. The Halloween story was a piece about dealing with grief. From a process standpoint, my style and storytelling has changed considerably since I did that work; I wonder what choices I would make differently were i to do it now. I was happy to be part of that project.

Do you like to do non super-hero comics as much as super-hero ones and why?

Matt: I love cogent narratives, regardless of genre. Superhero stories are sometimes devoid of logic, and justifiably dismissed. Form must match function, and world-building is a challenge because once a path of logic has been taken any divergence of that logic becomes commentary on the story, exposing it as farce. For example, I can't say for certain that a baby born under the Red Sun of Krypton would not develop powers beyond mortal men when exposed to the Yellow Sun of Earth; science hasn't enough data to refute that premise, and as a vehicle for drama, I can accept it categorically. Superman's adventures can therefore be fantastic. yet character motivations must be reasonable, psychologically vetted, and logically consistent within the framework of that narrative. Batman is equally as compelling but for different reasons, and demands a different approach, smaller in scope; if he ventures to Outer Space or to another dimension, the story strains under its previously established credibility. Everything is relative, and in any story there must be Truth.

Rich: What mythical characters did you draw in "Grimm Fairy Tales Myths & Legends" and what did you learn from it?

Matt: In my work for Zenescope I've drawn some fairly familiar characters: the little Mermaid in her struggle against the Sea Witch, the Beauty and her Beast. The archetypes are intact, all else is re-imagined; I'm constantly discovering new ways to approach my work, and tell better stories with that ethos in mind.

Rich: Why do you love creating comics so much?

I love to draw, and I love to tell stories; cartooning is a language, the synthesis of word and image. It demands dedication to understand and devotion to master. I'm excited by the infinite potential of the blank page and the myriad decisions that can and will be made in order to tell a specific story; there are no incorrect answers, but there are absolutely effective and ineffective decisions. I love laying out a page, exploring the possibilities within the framework of the script, and actively describing moments in a world that is and isn't mine, and that did not exist before I created it. I seek to be clear, economic, and as entertaining as possible. Comics from a production standpoint are amazingly democratic: nearly anyone can physically make the work and execute it quickly. It's relatively cheap to print and free to put online, with new avenues opening all the time to distribute the material; this makes comics a viable form of expression for the single auteur who's self-publishing minis, as well as the multinational corporation publishing hundreds, even thousands of units per month. As Commercial Artists, comics creators are unique in that they enjoy a direct relationship with the reader through their efforts; what you see is what I've made, and the work is fairly accredited to the authors. For these and other reasons, I love making and reading comic books.

Rich: What super-hero comic would you most like to work on that you have not and why?

Matt: I would love to draw Batman, Daredevil, and Spider-Man among others. I would *love* to work with Neil Gaiman on a Sandman story. Sometime in the future when I'm a better cartoonist, I would love to write and draw a long Superman adventure. He's the hero that speaks to me most, and I would like nothing better in the superhero genre than to tell his stories for a while.

Rich: What creator owned projects do you have?

Matt: . I've begun early work on a few stories that could (if I find the time) become original graphic novels, but they're a long way from seeing print; I'm keeping busy as a freelancer at the moment.

Rich: What do you think of DC's New 52?

I think the DCU is a fascinating experiment that seems to be, if sales are the measure of success, an overwhelmingly fruitful venture. I'm fascinated by the work I've read, and look forward to seeing more.

Rich: What do you have planned next for your career?

Matt: I plan to get better at my job and fulfill certain personal and professional goals; in 2012 I'd like my work to reach more people, and to tell stories that make us all happier. If there's a greater power inherent to the medium, I don't know it.

Rich: Are you a fan of movies and which kind?

Matt: I love movies. Film, which is ephemeral and passive, differs from comics, which are physical objects that demand active participation to experience. Some compare comics directly to film as sister media, but I think this is problematic; comics are inherently devoid of both motion and sound, whereas film is defined by them. It's fascinating to see what decisions are made in film to achieve results that, in comics, would require a different approach. If Superman: The Movie (1978), The Terminator (1984), or Animal House (1979) are on, I have to sit and watch til' the end.

Rich: How can someone contact you?

Matt: Any business-related correspondence should be directed to my agent, Renee Witterstteater, at evaink@aol.com I joined Eva Ink Artist Group last year, and have been working with Renee on projects, commissions and convention appearances. So, I'm up for any of that. Just let her know. Her blog is:
I know she posts all of our press releases there. Eva Ink Artist Group also have a Facebook page that is open to the public.

Rich: Any words for those that enjoy seeing your art?

Matt: Thanks for reading!


Matt Triano has written and drawn comics for collections and anthologies by publishers such as Moonstone, DC Entertainment and Atomic Press. He is also known for his storyboard work, motion comic work, and artwork for various ad agency projects developing custom comics for high profile clients. His art can currently be seen in works for Robin Hood Charities in New York as well as comic projects for Moonstone (Captain Action), Zenescope (Grimm's Myths and Legends), The Discovery Channel and Marvel Trading cards (Marvel Characters).

Gumbo Ya Ya!-- Golden and Texeira Join Wizard World New Orleans!

New Orleans-- If we are to learn a lesson from the art of cooking Gumbo, it's that when you add a bunch of seemingly different, but complimentary, elements together, the melange turns into something extremely wonderful and indescribable. With that in mind, get ready to savor the second annual Wizard World New Orleans convention-- at which we are please to be adding several key ingredients from Eva Ink Artist Group: Michael Golden and Mark Texeira.

What would a New Orleans convention be without a little spice?!

Michael Golden is a legendary comic book creator who is known for his work on "The 'Nam," "G. I. Joe," "Star Wars," "Doctor Strange," and much more. He has worked in toy design, game design and development of intellectual properties for all forms of media. Currently he is the cover artist for "Spawn."

Michael will be teaching his class "Storytelling with Michael Golden: Taking your Ideas to the next level" at Wizard this year on Saturday. This is always a popular event, so don't miss it!

For the duration of the show, Golden will be located in artist alley, signing his books such as "Michael Golden: MORE Heroes and Villains," "Excess: The Art of Michael Golden," "Bucky O'Hare," prints and much more.

Several new Michael Golden Sketchbooks are in the works, fyi, including the softcover "Michael Golden: Alchemy" and "Dangerous Curves."

Illustrator and fine art painter, Mark Texeira is also making a return to New Orleans. Known for his work on "Ghost Rider," "Black Panther," "Wolverine" "Punisher," and numerous Marvel characters, you'll want to get on his sketchiest early. It always fills up!

Mark will have prints at the convention, and his books "Mark Texeira: Nightmares & Daydreams," and "Tex: The Art of Mark Texeira, prints, and other items at his booth in artist alley.

Mark too will have a new softcover sketchbook later this year. FYI, all sketchbooks are limited to just 1,000 copies, so it's always only as supplies last.

And finally with the Eva Ink contingent, Renee Witterstaetter will have her books available, including "Kerry and the Scary Things," "Nick Cardy: The Artist at War," "Joe Jusko: Savage Beauty," and additional items.

Wizard World New Orleans takes place January 28th and 29th. Joining Golden, Texeira and Scott at the show are the likes of: William Shatner, Stan Lee, James Leary, Michael Biehn, Arthur Suydam, Peter Mayhew, Erin Gray, Mary McDonnell, James Marsters, Adam Baldwin… and many more!

Gumbo Ya Ya! Literally translated as everyone talking at once at a big party…. Yup, that about describes it.! So come join the party, and get some Gumbo (both kinds) of your own.

For more information on Michael Golden, Mark Texeira, Steve Scott or Renee Witterstaetter contact: evaink@aol.com; and visit our website at: www.evainkartitgroup.com

For more information on Wizard World New Orleans, and how to become a "Shatner VIP," go to: www.wizardworldcomiccon. com

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Eva Ink Artist Group Announces New Talent Joining the Group in 2012!--Calero, Meyers, Triano

A New Year brings exciting new updates for Eva Ink Artist Group!

In addition to setting up appearances, arranging sketches, and in some cases fielding assignments for:

Michael Golden
Mark Texeira
Rodney Ramos
Liam Sharp
Renee Witterstaetter
Joe Jusko

We have also just signed several established and wonderful talents, joining Eva Ink Artist Group this year:

Dennis Calero
Matt Triano
Ric Meyers

Eva Ink Artist Group specializes in sequential art needs (including penciling, inking, coloring and lettering) for comics and graphic novels, custom comics, script editing for comics and film, voiceovers, game design and other needs, toy design, product development, storyboards, and much more.

Our sister company, Eva Ink Publishing produces low run and collectible art books for various talent, art history retrospectives and bios, and also serves as a packager of sketchbooks for artists in all fields (inquire for details to: evaink@aol.com)

Be sure to check our soon to be updated website at: www.evainkatistgroup.com for more information on all of the above and all the possibilties therein.


Short Bios:

Dennis Calero is the award winning and internationally recognized artist of X-Men: Noir and Legion of Superheroes. He has also leant his talents to CCG Properties such as Magic andLegend of the Five Rings, as well as Dungeons & Dragons. His work includes X-Men Noir : Mark of Cain, X-Factor, 28 Days Later: The Aftermath, Cowboys and Aliens, Dark Tower, Fallen Angel, Hawkgirl, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Supergirl and the Legion of Superheroes, Magic The Gathering, Countdown to Final Crisis, Wolverine: First Class and JSA Classified. During his tenure on X-Factor the title was nominated for the Harvey Award for Best New Series (2006). Calero has also provided illustrations sporadically for role-playing games, beginning in 1996 for White Wolf. He has done interior artwork forDungeons & Dragons books for the Forgotten Realms setting, such as Silver Marches,Faiths and Pantheons, and Races of Faer?n. Calero also co-founded Atomic Paintbrush, one of the first computer-coloring companies working in the comic-book field.

Matt Triano has written and drawn comics for collections and anthologies by publishers such as Moonstone, DC and Atomic Press. He is also known for his storyboard work, motion comic work, and artwork for various ad agency projects developing custom comics for high profile clients. His art can currently be seen in works for Robin Hood Charities in New York, Moonstone (Captain Action), Zenescope (Grimm's Myths and Legends), The Discovery Channel and Marvel Trading cards (Marvel Characters), as well as a Batman story for the "DC Halloween Special."

Ric Meyers: Although declared the “Martial Art Movie Master” by Crash Cinema and “America’s leading Asian action expert” by the Boston Globe, Ric Meyers is a true media maven, having been “Special Media Consultant” for Sony, DreamWorks, Columbia, Tristar, Emperor Movie Group, and Celestial Pictures, as well as ABC, CBS, A&E, Discovery, Bravo, Nickelodeon, and Starz Encore networks. He wrote the first Incredible Hulk novel for Pocket Books, as well as Dirty Harry and Ninja Master novels for Warner Books, two science fiction novels for Questar, three horror novels for Dell Books, and the last Dungeons and Dragons novel for TSR prior to their Wizards of the West Coast buy-out, among others.

His non-fiction include award-winning books on TV detectives, science-fiction and fantasy films, exploitation films, and, of course, his famed volumes on martial art and kung fu films. In addition, he has presented films shows and seminars on breaking into the business, creative writing, living, and thinking to audiences as large as five thousand at conventions and colleges throughout the world.

He is the author of at least two dozen books of both fiction and nonfiction under variations of his name, as well as several pseudonyms, such as Dane Hartman and Wade Barker. His most successful and popular include Doomstar, Fear Itself, Murder in Halruua, TV Detectives, For One Week Only: The World of Exploitation Films, and contributions to The Destroyer, Dirty Harry, and Ninja Master paperback series. Periodicals he has contributed to such publications as Starlog, Famous Monsters of Filmland, The Armchair Detective, and DirectTV The Guide,
as well as contributing to the 60th anniversary issue of Detective Comics.

For more information on booking any of the talent above for assignments, conventions or interviews, please contact Renee at: evaink@aol.com

Friday, January 6, 2012

CBG Fan Awards-- Time to Vote!

Hi Everyone--

It's that time, when the Awards season starts kicking up, and while I'm always just happy to be asked, LOL, I do have some wonderful talent in my life that I feel are wonderfully deserving of an award.

Here's the Link, and it's quick and easy:


So, I encourage you all to vote and Consider the Following folks when you are thinking back on their work in 2011:

*"Nick Cardy: The Artist at War"-- Favorite Graphic Novel

*Michael Golden
-- Favorite Cover Artist (Spawn and more)

*Joe Jusko
and Mark Texeira-- Favorite painted covers

*Mark Texeira
and Steve Scott and Dennis Calero and Matt Triano and Michael Golden
-- Favorite Pencilers

*Michael Watkins-- Favorite Colorist

*Rodney Ramos-- Favorite Inker

*"Kerry and the Scary Things"-- Favorite Book for kids

*Eva Ink Artist Group-- Favorite Publisher (albeit small)

*Jim Salicrup-- Favorite Editor (Hey, he's at another company, but he's the best!)

*Todd Dezago -- Favorite Writer

Thanks all! And Happy Voting!