Tag Archives: Comics

Interview: Berkeley Breathed (2009)

opusIf you’re crossing the street in Austin at 24th and Guadalupe, tread carefully: You may be stepping on a Pulitzer Prize-winner’s autograph. Back in the 1970s, while cutting his artistic teeth at The Daily Texan with his college-based comic strip Academia Waltz, a young Berkeley Breathed (kinda rhymes with “method”) carved his name into some concrete in front of the United University Methodist Church. Hired straight out of college by The Washington Post, his Bloom County daily strip became an internationally syndicated phenomenon that combined the charm of Walt Kelly’s Pogo with the political edge of Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury. It also gave the world a new Everybird in the sweet-natured and perpetually flustered Opus the penguin. Over the course of nearly three decades, and through successor Sunday strips Outland and Opus, he was a pet, a suspected terrorist, a vice presidential candidate, a fill-in for Santa’s reindeer, and a tuba player with punks Billy and the Boingers.

In 2008, Breathed drew what he has sworn is his final panel containing his most famous creation. (It ended with Opus shown sleeping peacefully in the bed from the beloved children’s book Goodnight Moon.) With his Opus opus now complete, he’s concentrating on his illustrated kids’ books, and this year jumped into the world of young adult literature with Flawed Dogs: The Novel: The Shocking Raid on Westminster. While his name in the Drag’s sidewalk is starting to fade, rubbed away by decades of students’ shoes, comics firm IDW Publishing is preserving Breathed’s complete Bloom County as part of its Library of American Comics imprint (placing him in the esteemed company of Dick Tracy and The Family Circus). The first volume of a planned five-book set takes readers back to the opening days of the 1980s, when America’s idea of an incompetent president was Ronald Reagan and nothing in the world couldn’t be solved with a trip to the dandelion patch.

Continue reading Interview: Berkeley Breathed (2009)

Interview: Claudio Sanchez of Coheed & Cambria (2009)


Half-Hawkwind, half-Warped Tour, when Coheed & Cambria played Austin’s Waterloo Park a few years ago, they added Mother Nature’s own Sturm und Drang , when a massive electrical storm hit during the group’s set in Waterloo Park. Since then, the martial stomp of “Welcome Home” has become ad execs’ favorite guitar track, overdriving promotion for Rock Band and the trailer for the Tim Burton-produced animated apocalypse 9.

The post-prog New York quartet also took to the trend of bands resurrecting a classic album live with the Neverender project: Four-night residencies around the world wherein Coheed & Cambria played its entire back catalog. “It was perfect for us to revisit this massive work, because it will certainly influence what happens next,” recalls vocalist, guitarist, and visionary Claudio Sanchez.

Continue reading Interview: Claudio Sanchez of Coheed & Cambria (2009)

Interview: Mark Millar and John Romita Jr on Kick-Ass (2010)

From page to screen: Kick-Ass, as portrayed on film Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and drawn in the original comic by John Romita Jr.

Every boy dreams of becoming a superhero and fighting crime. Then he wakes up, realizes that’s a dumb idea, and gets on with his life before he gets his dreams and skull crushed. Same thing tends to apply when a comic writer dreams that there will be a faithful movie adaptation of his creation: When it gets to the big screen, he just cringes through the premiere, takes the paycheck, and retreats to his fortress of solitude.

So nobody would have expected a comic like Kick-Ass, in which a nerdy teen decides to become a costumed vigilante, could make it to the screen intact. Yet somehow the tale of powerless and clueless less-than-super heroes has become one of the crudest, lewdest, and wildly entertaining big-budget indie films ever.

While Kick-Ass the comic seems like a poke at mainstream superheroes, it’s actually published by Marvel Comics where …. Hold up; we need a secret origin flashback: In 1993 a young Scottish writer named Mark Millar started working for the British anthology comic 2000 AD. America beckoned, and the Scot crossed the Atlantic to work for DC Comics and then Marvel. There he met artist John Romita Jr., son of industry legend John Romita Sr. and a superstar sketcher with a reputation for down-and-dirty, action-packed panels. The pair collaborated on the superbloody “Enemy of the State” storyline for the firm’s top-selling Wolverine title. Millar said, “After it was finished, we said, ‘Let’s do it again,'”

Marvel, eager to keep Millar writing its big-gun titles, allowed him to self-publish his less mainstream, creator-owned work through its Icon imprint – the perfect home for Kick-Ass. When it came to the gritty, crude, and bloodily realistic tale of a dumb kid in a mask, Millar knew it was time for a team-up. “The honest truth is, I only ever had Johnny in my head doing this, and I told him I would wait a year for him. It’s kind of like when a director has an actor in mind. Anyone with too clean a style, it just wouldn’t have worked. I can’t visualize these characters being drawn by anyone except him.”

Continue reading Interview: Mark Millar and John Romita Jr on Kick-Ass (2010)