Thursday I exchanged a few emails with Kim Scoulios, creator of Nancy Nebula and other fine works of art that you can find at her website, theksgallery.com. I asked a few questions and she provided me a few answers. . . .
What inspired you to create “Nancy Nebula”?
When I was a teenager I would look out into the sky and imagine the aliens could hear me and I would ask them to take me away with them. I was more cynical at that time, and I honestly thought the aliens might understand me more than humans. When I became older, I found it was easier to make fun of my dark humored habits – then began sketching the idea.
How did you do the artwork? What tools or software did you use?
The drawings are made with graphite and ink on paper. The layout was arranged in Comic Life.
How long did it take you to complete “Nancy Nebula”?
I thought of the idea 15 years ago. The comic book alone took one year. Nancy was this character that would show up repeatedly in my sketchbook. I have been thinking about alien related stories since childhood.
Do you have any upcoming projects?
My art will be on the next DWLB (Donny Who Loved Bowling) album. I am also working on the next Nancy Nebula comic books and projects.
How long have you been making comics?
I have been designing comic characters since I could hold a pen. Nancy Nebula is my first comic book. Before that, I illustrated a cover and 12 black and white illustrations in the sci-fi novel Doris Daring: Star Captain of the Spaceways with Chris Wichtendahl.
Are there any writers, artists, etc. that you’re especially a fan of and that inspire you?
There are so many…Nell Brinkley, Garth Williams, Edward Gory, H.R. Giger, Joann Sfar, and Alphonse Mucha. All of these artists have displayed such a unique style with intricate line-work.
Thanks for your time Kim! Make sure you check out the review of Nancy Nebula, and look for more Q&A with more comics creators in future posts!
So, it’s that time of year again. The time of year when I gripe and grumble about how much I don’t like South By Southwest. For those that don’t know, I am a casual musician. While I’d love to make at least a partial living off music, I have absolutely zero ambition to play any arena tours or judge anyone’s singing ability on TV. In case you’re thinking this is a case of sour grapes because they’ve never selected any band I’ve been in to play their awful festival, let me make it clear that I’ve never submitted to their awful festival, and I have no plans to in the future. I’m also not the type of cynical prick who simply hates anything popular. I mean, well, I am a cynical prick, but I’m not that type of cynical prick.
I’m not saying the festival is 100% pure evil, and I’m not demanding anyone with a conscience boycott it or occupy it or any dumb shit like that. I’m just saying I really, really don’t like it. Also, I know nothing of the film/interactive/comedy/gaming aspects of it. I assume that stuff is just as much of an exploitative corporate behemoth as the music end, but who knows, maybe all that’s great.
It’s only fair to point out that even if this whole thing was just as awesome as everyone says it was back in the late 80′s, I still probably wouldn’t like it. Standing out in the sun all day with thousands of other members of the general public (who I, as a rule, try to avoid whenever possible), drinking shitty beer and listening to so many bands in a week that they all blur together and I don’t even remember which ones were great and which ones sucked with a vigorous fury does not sound like a good time to me. Clearly, there’s an awful goddamn lot of people who disagree, and let’s be honest, they’re probably not the assholes here, but it is what it is.
So, you ask, what then elevates this from something you’d just as soon not engage in to something you feel the need to piss and moan about every year?
HEY, LOOK DOWN HERE IF YOU’D LIKE TO SKIP ME RAMBLING LARGELY ABOUT MYSELF AND GET TO THE MEAT OF THIS.
SXSW makes giant piles of cash off of the independent artist community I love and doesn’t offer much in return. Now, I’m no communist. The people who thought up this idea and put a lot of work into it every year certainly deserve to make some money off of it, and of course it costs a lot to put this thing together, but this has gotten a little out of hand.
For starters, every band that wants to be considered for the festival pays $30-40 to apply. The purpose of this is to discourage the bands who have absolutely no chance of getting in from clogging up the works by submitting for the hell of it, and to pay whatever poor bastard has to sift through all of them. Still, thousands upon thousands of bands submit every year, and those $40 do add up to a lot of money.
There’s also merch. All your SXSW t-shirts and coozies and mouse pads and ball caps and duffel bags and whatever else you can silk screen a logo onto.
Then there are the corporate sponsorships. SXSW is sponsored by companies like Chevy, Monster Energy Drinks, Pepsi, Doritos, American Airlines, Miller Lite, etc. I don’t know how much money they pour into it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Scrooge McDuck could swim around in it.
Actually, none of that would be all that bad if they didn’t then gouge the ever loving fuck out of you for the price of admission. The absolute least you could pay for a badge for just the music portion of the festival was $625. That’s if you planned waaaay ahead and bought it in early September. Today, a music badge will cost you $795, and an all access platinum badge will cost a completely insane $1595.
I can’t find figures on how much of a profit SXSW makes (to be honest, I didn’t really look all that hard.) According to Wikipedia, though, “SXSW is the highest revenue-producing event for the Austin economy, with an estimated economic impact of $167 million in 2011.”
Of course, that money being injected into our economy is good for Austin as a whole, and particularly the music venues who do a huge amount of business during the week in question. They’re not seeing any of that $1600 badge money, though. I suspect Most of that $167 million has to do with people coming in from out of town and spending their money at bars, restaurants, and hotels, and they’d probably make even more money if more people came to town because the badges were actually affordable.
The 2500 or so independent bands who this festival would be absolutely nothing without? They mostly play for free. They have the option to get $250 (really $210, if you consider the $40 you spent to submit) or get wristbands that get them into the official events for free. Being music fans themselves, I suspect a strong majority of them take the wristbands, and I suspect the organizers count on this, as it costs them nothing at all. If you’re an Austin based band, $250 isn’t bad for one gig. If you’re from out of state, or better yet, another country, you’re probably taking a loss, maybe a really big one, to help make these people lots and lots of money. Fuck that.
But what about the enormous exposure opportunity? You can’t put a price on that, right? Yeah, here’s the thing…. In the last 10 years, how many bands who were complete unknowns do you think got signed to a major label because of a SXSW performance? The answer (and even this is probably debatable) is 3. They were Hanson, John Mayer, and James Blunt. Think your quirky, original band is going to get spotted by some record executive? Good luck with that.
Really, if you’re just 3-5 guys in a van booking gigs yourselves, you’re better off booking a bunch of unofficial shows during the week, especially since scoring an official showcase means agreeing not to play any other night time shows all week. Even then, though, you may play to 100 people or 5 at any given gig, and those people just saw 40 bands yesterday, and they’re going to see 200 more in the next few days, probably while pounding beers the whole time. If you don’t light yourself on fire on stage, odds are that they won’t remember you, even if they really liked you at the time. I did mention I’m a cynical prick, right?
Anyway, look, if you think it’s the most fun you have all year, go for it. It’s a good thing for Austin overall, and there’s plenty of stuff to do that doesn’t require a $1600 badge. I just find the idea of a festival that depends entirely on independent artists to make a huge profit, but then doesn’t pay most of those artists anything at all unsavory at best. Plus, I prefer my beloved Red River district sans giant throngs of L.A. douchebags, but that’s just me.
*Note* This is from our friend Frank’s blog who gave us permission to share it. It pretty much explains SXSW from a struggling local artist point of view. Frank plays with the awesome nerd themed punk band The Millipede.
Find them at:
TEFLON BEAST FALL/WINTER NEWS
September 18, 2012 (Austin, TX) – Greetings one and all!
We have some exciting releases to announce that will finish out our 2012 year. Coming first in Oct. (Pre-sale available now) is a funky & freaky split digi-only release featuring the classic “singles” of the Netherverse and new avant-electro compositions by Gary Busdriver.
Netherverse is a mysterious band whose origins date back almost twelve years to the suburbs of Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX. The group held secret meetings to make films, write poetry, and record music at a furious, nearly weekly pace. Over the years Netherverse has had some nineteen members, but largely the group consisted of three or four main collaborators. Their names and biographies are a matter of some conjecture, but in the end creativity was their only unifying rule. They recorded nearly half a dozen complete albums in their time, yet not one is currently in print. We at TBR hope to change that. For now, we are releasing songs considered too groundbreaking to even find a home on an album. These songs are too weird to even be listened to!
Gary Busdriver has had a busy 2012. He’s been trying different recording methods, different instrumentation, and different rooms all over Austin, TX to find his ultimate vision. His latest compositions are constructed around keyboard manipulations making for some very “out-there” electronic soundscapes. Busdriver’s currently recording and album of guitar improvisations…to be released spring 2013.
In November we’re pleased to announce a compilation of recordings by Italian (by way of the UK) artist/musician, Year of the Lips. Titled Cannon Street Road’s Feedback Rituals, YotL’s guitar torture compositions will be a must hear for shrieking GEE-TAR fanatics. We’re excited to unleash this monster.
Finally, in December NYC band Arklight will be releasing their first forays into “pop/rock.” A noisy-art band by trade, Arklight has started writing songs and, appropriately enough, they’ve titled their album The Beginners. The full-length album gathers some of the band’s best new recordings to showcase their interest in exploring the “out-there” aspects of the three-minute song.
Join us as we end 2012 in high-minded low-brow wickedness. What does 2013 hold for us? You’ll just have to stay tuned for trips into the cosmos, ear-bleeding country, and audio-verite.
Thanks for listening!
Teflon Beast Records
What’s in your jambox?
I’ve always been a pretty big fan of Spider-Man. Amazing Spider-Man #341 was the first comic book I ever bought with my own hard earned cash, from the local Circle K store in Shiner, TX (it’s called Bea’s now). They had one of those little spinning racks there that held all the comics, and I’d walked by it a few times and noticed it, but never stopped to look. But that day I did, because the cover of #341 caught my eye: awesome yellow background, big image of Spidey doing this shrug, and a blurb that said “Powerless, Part One!”. So, I flopped down my dollar and took it home. And I’ve been reading comics ever since.
This issue of ASM is the “50thwip anniversary issue”, seeing as how Spider-Man first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 way back in August 1962. The issue is 56 pages of awesome, and is just about worth your $5.99 cover price (my, how times have changed!). Our main story is pretty ok, featuring the origin of a new character called Alpha, who has a lot in common with Spidey: young teenage dude granted amazing powers due to an incident at a research lab (Peter Parker’s lab, in fact. . . . he’s wholly responsible for this guy). However, unlike Spidey, he’s kind of a dick, and knows he’s a badass. He doesn’t get the whole “with great power comes great responsibility” thing just yet. It’s a good part one by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos. Slott does a great job of introducing this kid, and you don’t quite hate him, because his home life sucks, and all that. He’s just a kid, and all of a sudden he goes from nobody to somebody. And the Ramos art suits the story well. He draws a great Spidey, and has become a pretty good storyteller in his own right over the years. It’ll be interesting to see where the story goes from here, and how it leads up to #700.
The rest of the issue is two backup stories, the first one written and drawn by Dean Haspiel. I have no idea who this dude is, but he tells a touching tale of a grandfather forced into crime to provide care for his dying granddaughter. Grandpa finds a Spidey suit in the trash, but soon realizes that the suit doesn’t mean a thing, as his robbery attempts are thwarted just the same. And even though he’s wearing the suit, he still can’t save his granddaughter. But he can choose to do the right thing, and at the end he seems to have left his criminal ways behind. It’s a short, sad little story that kinda gets to you.
After that, we’ve got a fun little story by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Nuno Plati. Turns out even Spider-Man has a really bad day from time to time. The story is a chain of humorous situations that just ruins his day. From being mistaken for the Scarlet Spider, breaking up a domestic argument in which he thinks the guy is the girl and vice versa, catching on fire and being smothered by the largest member of FDNY, and being pooped on by a pigeon, it’s just a bad day for Spidey. But all is set right when he saves a kid from some bullies and realizes it’s not so bad after all. It’s a nice way to end the issue, and kinda lessens the blow from the prior sad little story.
All in all, a good book. It sets up the countdown to #700, and provides a couple of backups that allow some other talents to shine with their own style. I enjoyed it. You probably will too!
Now, I hate to come at you this week with a series I’ve already reviewed once before, but the reasons why are simple:
- this is the only book I bought this week
- it’s really, really, really good
When last we left Peter Parker, he had arrived on the lawn of his Aunt May’s home in New York. He’s not supposed to be there, cause he’s dead.
And most of the issue deals with this meeting. It’s a really touching look at how May and Gwen have dealt with the loss of Peter in the Ultimate universe, and it’s Peter finally dealing with this alternate reality in which he no longer exists (remember, he still doesn’t know if he can get back to his world). In the end, it’s closure for May, because she knows that Peter lives on in some way, whether it’s the Peter she knew or not (these guys became Spider-Man for the same reasons, after all). And Peter gets to hang out with Gwen again (he never tells the Ultimate Gwen that she has been dead for a while, because what good what that do?), and altogether the middle of the book is a really great scene of these characters dealing with these emotions and finally finding some resolution. It’s kinda what the series has been leading up to since it began, and Bendis and Pichelli pulls it off like champs. It’s just beautiful comics, and it’s just so Spider-Man, if that makes any sense whatsoever.
In the end, the Avengers track down where Mysterio must be hiding, and the Spider-Men head off to the final showdown with the villain (because we’ve only got one issue left here, time to start wrapping this up).
And now’s the time to address the only real issue I had with this book. It’s a small issue, but an issue nonetheless. See that cover up there in the upper right? See how it looks like Ultimate Spider-Man got his ass kicked and is in a bad way? None of that happens. Not even close. There’s not even a fight in the entire issue! It’s a good swerve, and kinda catches you off guard for the character driven story found inside, but it’s kinda false advertising. Nicely done false advertising, but come on, I was gonna buy the book anyway. You don’t have to make me think something’s gonna go down that leaves Ultimate Spidey clinging to life just to buy this thing. I’m 3 issues in already, I think I’m all in by now. . . .
But enough of the rant. Don’t believe the cover, but do read the story. It’s a nice reminder of what makes Spidey Spidey, regardless of the dimension.