Interview: Ethan Kennett

This week I sat down at Hourglass Brewery in Longwood, Florida to talk to comic creator Ethan Kenneth. Returning to the scene of his comic release party Saturday June 8th.

“The book is called Torlena. I thought I actually created that word.”

As Ethan tells me it is hard to come up with a name because everything you can think of is already taken.

“I come up with this word… Torlena. It’s a woman’s first name.” After doing a little research…”In Hindu it means fractured…it kind of fit what I’m trying to tell.”

Sometimes things fall into place.

This is the story of the man behind Torlena. It starts in a lot of places Megacon 2017, Wheaton College, as a kid having his mom telling him the story of The Incredible Hulk. Like I said in a lot of places. It is a journey as they say.

Drawing since he was a little kid, Ethan just wanted to make comics he didn’t even want to go to Art School. But eventually he did go. He went to Wheaton College in Massachusetts he was so excited but all I want to do is make comics.

“My first drawing class-my teacher was like ‘we have to start you over from the get go, we need life drawing’. That was the last thing I wanted to hear-Dude I want to draw comics.”

By the time he was finished up at Wheaton he was burned out on drawing so he went with his other passion music. He moved down to Florida in 2001 to try to make it as a rock star and he had some success. According to Ethan more people know him as a musician than as an artist right now. I believe that is about to change.

It took a friend practically dragging him to Megacon in 2017 to put that change in motion. (Megacon is Orlando’s premier comic convention. I have spent many a weekend there myself.) Six hours in artist alley changed his path. He met artist Sorah Suhng(who had done covers for Ninjak among other projects) talking to her got the blood flowing. She suggested he speak to Nick Bradshaw then it was Clay Mann and others. Something in the universe touched him. It was time to make some comics.

Fast forward to August 2017. He quit his job, this is going to happen. The next day he was already working on getting his chops back. Looking at anything to do with the art of making comics because that is what he was going to do. By February of 2018 he was starting to work on Torlena, by March he was treating it like a job. Getting trademarks and copyrights and doing all other things we never think about when we pick up the books at our local comic shop.

I met Ethan a new Comic Book Day first Saturday of May. He was drawing in the back of my local comic book store working on Torlena. I talked to him for a few minutes. I already knew I wanted to see the final product. And I was happy for him that he had gotten that ‘zero’ issue published.

Asking about Torlena. The first and second issues are written and he is working on the 3rd. He figures it will go eight issues but then again the zero issue was originally going to be 25 pages and ended up at 28.

Initially he wanted it to be like Spawn and just go on forever. Todd McFarlane is one of his comic heroes after all.

This is the start of something. Hope it is a long, long ride.

Torlena # 0

A team of scientists must save

a little girl before she brings

her bad dreams to life.

You can order Torlena from EthanKennett.com or Torlena.com.

Enjoy.

Solo: Finally

So this week we finally get Solo: A Star Wars Story.

I have been waiting for this movie for a lifetime it seems.
Since before it was announced.
Since before Rogue One, before The Force Awakens.
I have been waiting for this movie since 1977, since I first saw Han Solo kick the Millenium Falcon into hyperspace like a space cowboy.

While some have been enthralled from the start by the mysteries inherit in the Jedi Knights that did not do it for me. Luke was meant to be the great hero of Star Wars but he was always overshadowed by Han.

With each trailer I have gotten more and more psyched. There is always a concern whenever a new actor is put in a role made famous by someone else but I feel Alden Ehrenreich has taken to the role very well. He looks to be every bit the young, cocky scoundrel we have fallen in love with over the last forty years. Add to that the work Donald Glover does as Lando Calrissian you may have something special.

George Lucas gave us all a huge toy box to play with. Too often we barely touch the rest of that galaxy far, far away. That is what I loved about Rogue One-exploring the universe Star Wars has given us.

I do not need Jedi or Sith or the Force. I will gladly take smugglers, criminals, rascals.

Here is to Solo shooting first and hitting the target.

It’s Booster(Gold) Time

It is time. Time for DC comics to give us a Booster Gold ongoing once again.

Actually it is well past time. Michael Jon Carter, that’s Booster, has been on the sidelines for far too long.

I firmly believe a title is on it’s way. Whether a solo book for Booster or every fans dream of a Blue and Gold team-up book(Ted Kord and Booster…is it really that hard). Moves by DC Comics seem to suggest it will happen.

First there was the recent team up with Superman in Action Comics written by Dan Jurgens. Jurgens is the man who created Booster in 1986. Then we have this week’s Batman #45. More a Booster Gold comic than a Batman comic it was weirdly fun. Which is a prerequisite for Mr Gold. Tom King who does excellent work everywhere seems to have Booster’s voice down perfectly.

Booster always tries to do what is right but tends to trip over his own feet getting there. This is the man responsible for making sure history happens the way it should (in between fart jokes and bantering with his robotic pal Skeets). Think of the WB show Legends of Tomorrow if it was one guy and much funnier.

He is the greatest hero the world never knew. It is time that we reminded them of that fact.

Coming Home

Life is a journey

Journeys end. Time comes for a man to find his way back home.

Before I sweep the cobwebs away and dust off my trusty typewriter (laptop) I have a story to tell.

I started The Pulp Chronicles in the summer of 2013. I had been doing some freelance sportswriting and I wanted a venue for some of my other writing endevours.

And write I did. I am still proud of the work I produced under this banner. But it was not easy writing here, doing my sportswriting, not to mention my day job that paid the bills. Something had to give, something needed to change.

So in 2015 I had a bright idea. I would create one site to put all my creative pursuits under. No longer would I have to run multiple sites, just distill it down to one with separate sections. OneTrueGeek.com was born. I could see it: Sports Geek, Comic Geek, Writing Geek, etc…

It simply never became what I envisioned. Life got in the way, writing did not come. One True Geek slowly withered away.

Last year some friends and I started a comic news and opinion site ComicBook-Underground.com (come take a look). I was writing again. I was not on my own anymore. A team of writers and editors talking about the things we love.

Still I found myself longing for more. Sometimes you need a place all your own. A place that feels like home.

So I returned to a place I loved. After I unpack a bit I hope to get right back to work. Talking about movies, writing and yes comics. And not just other people’s stories. I have my own to tell. It may take a while. I feel like I am chipping away at a grand canvas but I am sure that it shall be worthwhile.

And the journey begins…again.

Black Panther: We Are All The Same Tribe

black_panther_2018_4k-3840x2400(Originally published on ComicBook-Underground.com)

A movie is not always just about one thing. There are layers.
On the surface the Black Panther is an excellent superhero film. Well-acted and direct, with some stunning special effects. They brought the fictional nation of Wakanda to life before our eyes.
Chadwick Boseman and Michael B Jordan were perfect as two sides of the same coin. The Black Panther and Killmonger. It was a nice illustration of the sins of the father coming home. But that is not the whole story.
Director Ryan Coogler manages to weave multiple themes into one beautiful tapestry. There are minor missteps. Slight things that as a comic fan stood out to me but the average viewer might not even notice.
They explore some big ideas. And not just the low hanging fruit.
Yes, they explore the treatment of different ethnicities by those that wield power across the planet. Jordan’s character references the plight of slaves taken from Africa during the era of Colonization wanting to die a free man rather than live in a cage.
Beyond that they ask the question: Should those of us that have the means help the rest of the world? Is there a responsibility to care for our neighbors?
Can a world leader simply close their borders and ask everyone else on the planet to fend for themselves?
Yes, there is that temptation. The argument that it is not our problem, that we need to take care of our own house first.
This is a very ‘American’ question. It has come up time and time again and they do a nice job of framing their argument about it.
Ultimately we are all brothers across the world no matter how often we try to blow each other up. Taking care of each other is the only way we can take care of this Earth. Putting aside our own arrogance and selfishness to reach out with basic human compassion can save the world.
We are all the same tribe. We are brothers. We are sisters. We are family.
Time to act like it.

Creators Create

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(Originally published on ComicBook-Underground.com)

Creators create. At least that is how it used to be.
August 28, 2017…Jack Kirby would be 100 on that day. An entire Century old. Yes, I do realize that Kirby did in fact pass away twenty-three years ago. I do not care. He was our King.
In an industry known for creativity and creators. Known for worlds, no universes created out of nothing. He was the King. He was the Alpha and the Omega. He was Jack.
Before this starts sounding like and overdue eulogy for Kirby (I am clearly not qualified for that), let us get to the meat of the matter.
In comics we celebrate creators like no other creative enterprise celebrates them. Jack and Stan, Bob Kane, Bill Finger. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. We celebrate these visionaries who gave us our new world pantheons of gods. They gave us our mythology.
So why are we so more willing to change characters that someone else sculpted out of the ether, than actually create something new for us all?
The new Wally West, Lady Thor, Two Nova’s, Two Blue Beetle’s, Two Hulk’s. Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson have all carried the mantle of Captain America, please don’t get me started with John Walker (US Agent). We even have AzBats coming back. A beloved character will be replaced by an unfamiliar face. Oh there are usually storyline reasons: Thor is unworthy, Captain America got old, Batman had his back broken or let’s kill the hero just for a little while. Other times it is for the sake of diversity, yes I am looking at you Wally West. The fact is the character has changed. Sometimes for a few months, other times for years.
There have been some cases when I have enjoyed these changes. The current Mighty Thor title is excellent. Whether that is because of the novelty of a female Thor or the excellent creative team of Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman is up for debate. Other times I find myself biding my time until they ultimately bring the original back. A good friend does not mind these changes. He looks at it as a way to simply refresh the brand. Maybe I am just yelling at the kids to get off my lawn.
Is it that hard to create something new instead. New heroes, new villains. We are in the business of creating are we not. There are roadblocks to be sure. Building an audience is not easy. Lack of ownership of our creations is a reality that needs to change. But the joy of discovering Gambit. Harley Quinn. Or seeing Deadpool for the very first time. That is not something that can be replaced by putting someone else in another characters suit in their mythology.
Let the creators create. Let the next generation dream of building their own worlds.

Discovering the Artist

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An empty page, a single pencil. That is where it starts. Scratching shapes and forms across the blank canvas until an image forms.

Actually that is not where it starts. It always begins inside, working out the details before you actually start the work.

I usually work in pencils. Comic-style art. At times I step back to look at where I came from. Recently I found an old drawing pad filled with my work. It was like stepping back in time.

Two decades actually. 1994. The work was better than I remember. Reminding me that if I had never stepped away from the pencils I might be a much more accomplished artist than I am now. I also saw my influences jump off the page at me. Jim Lee, Greg Capullo, Dave Johnson…

That brings me to where I am now. What artists have affected my style(which seems to evolve every day)? What is actually mine versus what have I pilfered from others?

Thinking back to the artists I first loved I started with Mike Grell with his work on Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes. That is what I thought comics were supposed to look like. That led to Neal Adams on Batman. And then I found Dave Cockrum. Each bringing a realistic but clearly comic work with their own signature style. Then one day I stumbled across Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. It looked nothing like the comics I had seen before. It was like the first time I heard Eddie Van Halen play the guitar, Jim Steranko was a breath of fresh air(not that I needed one). Infusing graphic design with the sequential art I had fallen in love with.

These are the men who filled my imagination at a young age. As a young artist I often aped my influences. I would sit there trying to recreate what these masters did day in and day out. For a while I did well. Creating credible art…at least I thought it was.

In walked Jim Lee. Lee was brilliant and extraordinary. His work was on another level from many of the other artists I had seen. Pseudo-realistic, clean and frankly intimidating. Simply watching him draw with ease what would take me hours, days to complete was often discouraging.

I knew that a working comic artist had to finish pages a day not over a few days or a week. I could not imagine ever getting to be that fast. I was still young. Going to college. Going to work. My day of slaving over a drawing pad often consisted of an hour or two if I was lucky. For some reason it did not click that this was a full-time job for those artists. They spent hours a day just working on the art while I spent those hours tending bar. Once that did click my development grew by leaps and bounds.

My tastes changed some too. Once I felt like my work needed to look like my heroes or I was somehow failing. I would try to draw what I saw in my head and it never quite matched up. That is when I decided my style was simply the distance between what I saw in my head and what landed on paper. My inspirations were not confined to realistic, yet stylized artists. There was a broad spectrum. From Mike Wieringo and Huberto Ramos manga inspired work to the gritty look of Cary Nord. From the kinetic lines of Russell Dauterman on the Mighty Thor to the incredibly expressive work of Kevin Maguire and Aaron Kuder. Every month I come across some new artist that brings something new to my table. Things that I pilfer for a time until they too are part of my style.

It is constantly evolving. But now it is clearly mine. Whether drawing a cowboy dinosaur riding a mastodon or a simple sketch of Batman. I have a style of my own.

Time to get back to work.

Batman by Michael Tennant.