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Friday, May 17, 2013

Italy Signing Tour

Announcing our signing tour for artist/writer James O'Barr to celebrate the Italian edition of "The Crow." The tour will take place this June, and features stops in Sicily, Rome, Naples, Bologna and Milan.

For information on the tour, sketch orders, print sales and more, contact Renee at: evaink@aol.com

Big Wow this Weekend! Auction to Feature Michael Golden Inks!

San Jose, CA-- One of the original art friendly conventions is taking place this weekend in San Jose, Ca, May 18-19th, at the San Jose Convention Center. Drop in for the event and be sure to visit the Eva Ink contingent, this time with artist Michael Golden, artist Mark Texeira and writer Renee Witterstaetter. Books, prints original art, and sketches are available during the event.

In addition, Michael Golden have inked three pieces for the auction, which is one of the highlights of the weekend. This years offering include his inks over pieces by Jim Lee, Neal Adams, and Liam Sharp.  

For more information on the show, go to www.bigwowcomicfest.com; For more information on the artists contact: evaink@aol.com 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Working in Comics: Interview with Renee Witterstaetter--Santiago, Chile

My recent travels have taken me to Easter Island and Santiago, Chile. While there, I was asked for an interview on my career in the comic book world. Always happy to oblige. This one seemed to focus on my experiences as a woman in the industry, which I have to say, has over all been positive. 

Even though I know it would make for a  better interview if I could dish some dirt, I really don't have much dirt to dish. 

And besides as Confucius says "Those who dish dirt, only dig holes for themselves." (Okay, Confucius didn't really say that. I made it up.  But still. )

Any who, for my own views, here 'tis.


One of the nice things about working in comics is that sometimes 
the artists you work with draw you. This one by Mike Zeck.


Interview with Renee Wittestaetter by Juan de Dios Dougnac,  Santiago, Chile, April, 2013. 
Juan de Dios Dougnac: The usual perspective about the comic book world and the geeky entertainment industry in general, like video games, and anime conventions and comic books is usually about a world dominated by men, a very masculine, very misogynistic. That’s the idea one gets by reading specialized websites and I wanted to ask you how was it to be a woman in a world mainly dominated by men.

Goofing around in the Marvel office that I shared with fellow editor Marie Javins. aka, The Dungeon,
 but as far as dungeons go, it wasn't so bad.

Renee Witterstaetter: Well, I never had a problem with it, and I actually never even think about being at a disadvantage. I like being a woman. And, I have always tried to go out and make my own opportunities. I grew up with two older brothers, so I was very used to being around men and I was something of a tomboy when I was growing up. I was the kind of girl that would like to go fishing and hiking and camping, and all that - -granted, however, it's true there were not that many women in the comic book industry when I first started. I can probably count with one hand the women that I knew that were working in the industry. But remember, you didn't really have very many women even going to conventions at that time either. 

As far as working in the industry, me personally, although I have heard some bad stories that other women have told, personally I was given mostly opportunities: to be an editor, to learn and to work with some amazing people. If I did have a bad story or two, I probably wouldn't tell it. No need.
All my bosses in comics were men. (Conversely, working in film, most of my bosses were woman.) In comics, Mike Carlin taught me a great deal about putting together comic books when I started at DC comics as a green assistant editor on the "Superman" books. And from there my friend and mentor Jim Salicrup at Marvel comics was a great teacher, he was the "Spider-ma" editor and later my boss at Topps; my immediate boss, Craig Anderson on the "Silver Surfer" books at Marvel was amazing; and another one of the best bosses I ever had was Mark Gruenwald at Marvel, who really took everybody--all the assistants--under his wing and taught us all his passion for putting together comic books. By that time there were a lot more women in the industry.  I never felt like I was ever being discriminated against, and I was also given plenty of opportunities to do female oriented books. I was the editor on She-Hulk for a long time.

 Marvel Bull pen by Rick Parker:
Rick drew this in '92 of co-workers at Marvel at 387 Park Avenue South after they redesigned the offices and moved people around. The multi-talented Eliot R. Brown drew the building.
In this photo: Josh Myers, Ralph Macchio, David Wohl (photos), John Romita, Sr., Tom DeFalco, Bob Harras, Mark Gruenwald, Pat Garrahy, Bob Budiansky, Lisa Patrick, Stan "The Man" Lee, Renee Witterstaetter, Terry Stewart, John N. Mailroom, Eliot R. Brown, Mike Z. Hobson, Hildy Mesnik, Steve Saffel , Don Hudson, Tom Breevort, Kevin Kobasic , Evan Skolnick , Whitey, Mort Todd and Michael Delefemine, Richard Ashford, Joey Cavalieri, Lisa Trusiani , Mike Rockwitz , Glenn Herdling (photos), Paul Becton, Marie Javins , Ed Murr, Don Daley, Tim Touhy, Dawn Geiger, Marcus McLaurin , Steve Bunche , Darren Auck, Danny Fingeroth , Mike Lackey, Rob Tokar , Dan Cuddy, Chris Cooper, Nel Yomtov, Fabian Nicieza , Tom Daning (photos), Rick Parker, Jack Abel, Hector Collazo, Mark Powers

J: Yes, I saw some funny images of you talking to She-hulk about how men deserved to get their money taken away from them if they thought She-hulk would be naked on the comic.

R:Oh, yeah, those were all John’s words. John Byrne, he was the artist and writer on the book. We had a lot of fun working on that series together, and John always had a fantastic sense of humor. A lot of times he would draw me as a character in the book, but he would always give me a much bigger office than I ever had. And shirtless man servants bringing lunch on a silver tray. Believe me, it was not that way. (laughs)

 One of several instances with Renee as a character in the "She-Hulk" comics.

J: You mentioned there were few women working in the comic book industry. Did that change in the recent years?

R: It's always changing. When I first started, like I said, there were very few women, maybe five that I knew of. By the time I was an assistant editor at Marvel, there were many more women on staff. That’s changed even more so now. There are more and more women working in comics now. There are more writers, inkers, pencilers, that are very well known and female editors that have made a big impact on the industry. You also need to look beyond the Big Two, and see what's going on in other types of comic books and sequential art. It's wide open. With wide avenues to explore. We always could use more creative people, though, so I hope more women will continue to be drawn to the genre. It's kind of a trap though, defining people and putting them into categories isn't it....I don’t like defining people... not by their race, or their sexual preference or anything else. I hope that someday we can say, that if you excel at whatever job you want to do, doors will open. Sure, it may not always be smooth. But, I don't think any bumps I had in the road were due to my gender. Although when I first moved to New York from Texas, some folks did make fun of my "flower-print" dresses. It was some time before I adopted the "all black" uniform of the city. (laughs)  But, in short,  I'd love for there to be more women creators in comics. The more talented people that join our industry, the better. We also need to try to find ways to expand our industry.  Trying to create good stories that attract both men and women should be our focus. 

J: So you would say that allegations of sexism in the industry are exaggerations by people that see it from the outside or do you think there is sexism but in other areas of the industry?

R: You can say that about any business I suppose? Of course it exists.  The only thing I find funny sometimes, is that in instances when a women has to be tough, she's sometimes called the "B" word, or something similar. That doesn't really happen if it's a man that says the same thing, in the same way. That I just laugh about. But I'm still a tough negotiator and advocate when I need to be. Doesn't change any thing.

J: The other thing that impressed me was the incredible diversity of working experience you’ve had, you’ve done many different things, like working in many different comics of very different themes. You’ve also worked in films and music videos, as agent, editor, colorist, pretty much all there is to do in comics and film.

 At a recent appearance and book signing in the Middle East.

R: Pretty much except penciling, yes. I also did draw as a kid, like many kids, but didn't continue. Now I'm writing more, and am still involved  in film production, which may take up more of my time in the future.
J: So, how do you not go insane by doing so many different activities? Do you just take it one thing at a time?

R: It’s called being freelance. I was an editor for a long time, as well as an assistant editor. When you’re starting out as staff at DC comics or Marvel the pay was not very good as an assistant editor. So you had to do a lot of freelance work if you want to live in New York city, which is pretty much where you had to live if you wanted to work at one of the comic book companies. So I would be an editor by day and a colorist by night, get a few hours of sleep then turn around and go back to work the next day. So coloring and maybe some of the writing at the time was a necessity, there wasn’t necessarily a choice, it’s something that I had to do, that every assistant editor had to do to make enough money to live in New York. 
You couldn’t live on your assistant editor salary and as far as I know the salary hasn’t gone up by much from when I started, it’s still about the same. Later on, of course I enjoyed coloring, I enjoyed writing. After I stopped working in an office I started my own publishing company called Eva Ink Publishing, and of course when you’re running your own business sometimes you don’t work eight hour days. 
 Page from "She-Hulk." I wish I had a dress like that.

Sometimes you work ten hour days, sometimes you work weekends. I don’t find it to be something that drives me insane, I love what I do. I feel very fortunate to be working in a creative industry where I get to set my own hours, I get to publish the books I want to work on, and it’s the same with film production. I have enjoyed every movie, every commercial, every music video that I’ve worked on because it’s exciting to be creative and create something that millions of people are going to see. So I think I would be bored if I wasn’t so busy. 
J: Have you had the chance to visit other conventions here in Latin America? Are you familiar with the comic book market here? How do you think the comic book industry in Latin America is evolving?

R: It’s different in different parts of Latin America. I’m becoming familiar now with comics in Chile. I think there’s some amazing talent in Chile. I was just looking at the book by Berna on Rapa Nui yesterday. That’s a beautifully done book and something with historical and educational significance. My friend Felipe, who helps run a convention in Chile is writing a book and a friend of his is drawing it and the art work is lovely in that book. There’s just a lot of exciting things going on in Chile. And I hear also in Peru, Argentina, Brazil, etc. The reason I love to go to these conventions I haven’t been to before is to see new talent, to see what’s going on in the rest of the world. I hope to go to a lot more conventions in South America. 
J: I hope so too.

R: Thank you.

J: Chile has had an incredible explosion of creativity on the last few years. There have been a few tabletop games, card games, role playing games, comic books, webcomics, etcetera. There’s probably a lot of people who wants to make something, whether on the comic books industry or in other industries. Focusing on the comic book industry, what do you think someone must do in order to stand out in case his talents aren’t related to art? 
R: Well, it’s harder for a writer, because you have to get someone to actually sit down and read your work, and that is difficult. If I were a writer looking to publish a new book here, I would find an artist to team up with, someone whose work was good, someone who knew storytelling and work with them to develop a story. There are lot of ways to get your work out there: webcomics are a great way to go now because you get your property out there online and your ideas are copyrighted, you don’t have to worry about anyone stealing your ideas because of the copyright notice in there, it establishes your property… So that’s what I would do if I were a writer looking to break in. I would find someone to team up with, someone who would be a good working partner and artist.

"Make good comics or else!" One of the legendary Marvel Christmas parties.

J: Just one last question. What do you think makes people want to come here, to Chile, to South America, to suffer the long travel hours to come to a place where you don’t speak the language? And it’s not just you. There are lots of incredibly talented and famous people here. What do you think it is that makes them choose Chile or South America?

R: For me, I like to travel to different shows that invite me because I like to experience a different culture. I think we learn a lot by going to other places and seeing how other people live, what’s important to them, what their culture is, what their interests are.

We don’t learn anything by staying in our own little place in the world. You only learn and grow by going out and seeing what the rest of the world is like. I love to do cross cultural things. The first day we were here we—James O'Barr, Arthur Suydam and myself-- went to a local school and talked to the school’s children about comics and putting together comics and what we do. I think it’s very important to share, because the more you get to know another place the more you get to understand them.

For example, two weeks ago I was in the middle east, I was in Jordan and the UAE. Some of my friends said “Why are you going to the middle east?” and I said “I’ve never been there before and they invited me”, so I went. And by the way, since we are having a talk about women, I was floored by the amazing young girls (as well as boys) in the UAE interested in drawing and sequential art and trying to find ways to get involved in comics. It's becoming easier for them now, but still something not as widely available as in other parts of the world.  In short, the people were lovely and I had never been to that part of the globe before and it gave me a new understanding of what’s important to them, and their culture, and how they think. 

And it’s the same coming here to Chile, I’ve never been to Chile before and the people here are warm, open and friendly. And, making sequential art that reflects their world view. Now I have a better understanding of what it's like in this part of South America. It’s very important as a writer and someone who works in a creative media like myself to see what it’s like in other places, to learn and to get to know people and their culture. It adds authenticity to anything I work on, the wider my world view. I think we grow as humans the more we know our fellow people. And sequential art is a wonderful tool to use.

Agent/Editor at Large. Hiking in Chile.

NOTE: the translation isn’t 100% verbatim, I had to fill in a few blanks where I couldn’t discern the exact words. Also, in the list of editors Ms. Witterstaetter worked with in the first answer, I took the names from lists of editors on the web, since I wasn’t sure how to spell their last names. Besides, one of the questions asked was due to a misunderstanding on my behalf. It has been edited in order for the interview to be more coherent (“J: You mentioned there were few women working on the comic book industry. Did that change in the recent years or…?”). Other than that, the text hasn’t been altered in any way and has been reproduced to the best of my knowledge.--Juan de Dios Dougnac

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Mike Zeck to Appear at "Wizard New York Experience" in June!

NYC-- This just in. Michael J. Zeck has just been booked for the upcoming show in New York. Should be alot of fun. I know Mike hasn't done a signing in the New York area in a long time. Although he most likely won't be sketching at the event because of limited time, the idea is to have some pieces pre-done for the show, so there probably will be art and other great items for purchase. And of course he'll be signing etc. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. Send me an e-mail at: evaink@aol.com. For other information on the show, check out: www.wizardworld.com In addition to Zeck, I'll also be at the show with legendary artist/creator  Michael Golden and amazing Russian artist/animator Konstantin Komardin. See you there! --Renee :-)


(Artist - Spider-Man; Punisher; Secret Wars; Aquaman; Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight; Green Lantern; Captain America; G.I. Joe; Lobo; Deathstroke, The Terminator)

Mike ZeckMichael J. Zeck, renowned comic book illustrator and storyteller, is making a rare convention appearance at Wizard World NYC Experience.

A heavy-hitter in the comics industry, and influencing generations of artists, one would have to argue which of Mike’s series has been the most influential, or which is embossed most deeply in our pop culture:

Zeck’s epic six part story “Kraven’s Last Hunt,” with J.M. Dematteis and Bob McLeod, springs immediately to mind. This groundbreaking series took the Spider-man character to a whole new level, and has been touted by readers as the “Greatest Spider-man story of all time,” in recent polls.

Considered one of “the” Punisher artists, Zeck’s work with writer Steven Grant on the character--collected as “Circle of Blood”--sets the standard for the look and feel of the Punisher and propelled him to flagship character status at Marvel. In fact, along with air-brush artist Phil Zimmelman, Mike has created some of the most recognizable painted images of the Punisher ever made;

The Limited Series “Secret Wars,” set the comic book readership on their ears, and brought a new black-and-white costume design for Spider-man (designed by Zeck) which is still recognizable and indelible to this day. Spider-man wore the costume temporarily, and it still lives on in the form of the super-villain, Venom.

In short, when you stop and think of the t-shirts sporting Zeck images, the homages to his covers, the lineage of his storytelling, you need a long sheet of paper to start writing them down.

Michael J. Zeck it seems, always knew he would work in the arts. Born in Pennsylvania and growing up in South Florida, he later attended the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida, his eye always on working in the sequential art field. He began that career at Charlton Comics with their animation-related line of comics leading to horror titles, later moving on to Marvel Comics. Some of his first work at Marvel included “Master of Kung Fu” and “Captain America,” with many more titles, at numerous companies, to follow from there.

Zeck’s work has graced the pages and covers of “Aquaman,” “Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight,” “Green Lantern,” “G.I. Joe,” “G.I. Joe: Special Missions,” “Lobo,” “Deathstroke The Terminator,” “The Eliminator” and too many titles to mention here.

As part of the VIP package at the NYC Experience to commemorate this rare appearance, Zeck will be promoting his creator-owned project “Damned” (with writer Steven Grant), with a limited edition poster. A new collected edition of the series “Damned” will be published by BOOM! Studios this fall.

For more information on this appearance and Michael J. Zeck contact Eva Ink Artist Group at: evaink@aol.com