Talking Over the Drowning City: An Interview with Christopher Golden, Co-Author of Joe Golem, Occult Detective

Saturday, October 3rd, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Joe Golem Occult Detective-smallI’ve been e-interviewing different comics creators (indie comics guys Mirror Comics and graphic novelist-turned-TV producer Jay Odjick) as well as comic book editors (Xander Jarowey, Heather Antos, Jake Thomas, and Daniel Ketchum, all from Marvel Comics).

This time out, I wanted to chat with Christopher Golden, a best-selling author and one half of the writing team (along with Mike Mignola) on the 5-issue series Joe Golem: Occult Detective, from Dark Horse. Issue #1 comes out in November, but Dark Horse was kind enough to share an advanced view with Black Gate for this interview :)

Click on any of the artwork in this article for bigger versions.

Hey Christopher. Thanks for the chance to chat. I read a review copy of Joe Golem, Occult Detective, and really enjoyed it. I hadn’t seen the world of the Drowning City before, but it was compelling.

Glad you dug it. Mike and I spent a lot of time crafting this world, making sure all the weird pieces fit, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what readers think.

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Conan is My Spirit Guide

Friday, September 25th, 2015 | Posted by M Harold Page


What if Conan were your spirit guide?

What if Conan were your spirit guide?

It’s such a lovely high concept and the implicit conflict — modernity versus barbarity — gives it instant viral appeal for those in the know (a bit like, I hope, Swords Versus Tanks). It also pings that contrast we Blackgate folk all experience: reading heroic fantasy on the way to a desk job, pausing Halo to change a diaper, leaving off writing a fight scene to print off My Little Pony coloring in sheets.

hunk-raSo I clicked the link and found the tumblr (now mostly gone because the comic has been published). I was expecting the hilarity of Doonesbury’s Boopsie channelling Hunk Ra. Instead I got something different. Just as funny, but deeper laughs and some profound thoughts about modernity and why we still need Conan.

Rachel Kahn, the creator of Conan is My Spirit Guide, By Crom! is a real Conan fan and the joke is always on the modern character.

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Blowing the Doors Off the Barn: Expanding the Iron Fist Mythos

Saturday, September 12th, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Immortal Iron Fist-smallMarvel’s Iron Fist has not traditionally been one of those characters that attracted me. I first encountered him in a second-hand Power-Man and Iron Fist I got in my first year of collecting comics in 1981.

I didn’t get the odd-couple humor, nor the 1970s movie aesthetic that drove the creation of these heroes. Maybe I just wasn’t ready to dig a character who wore slippers. In my defense, I didn’t cotton to Karnak of the Inhumans either. So maybe it’s was the karate chops.

Power_Man_and_Iron_Fist_Vol_1_77As a teen, I was briefly and underwhelmingly exposed to the black and white magazine-sized martial arts books Marvel published in the 1970s. The only positive sound I ever made when Iron Fist showed up on my radar was when he was drawn by John Byrne and when he briefly crossed paths with the X-Men.

That all changed for me in a 2006-2009 run of The Immortal Iron Fist written by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, and Duane Swierczynski, and pencilled by Travis Foreman and David Aja. Why?

Before 2006, a few things were clear about Danny Rand, the Iron Fist. He was trained in the mystical city of K’un L’un after the deaths of his parents. He is one of a long line of successive possessors of the Chi force that he got from the Dragon of K’un L’un. His arch-enemy is the Steel Serpent, a bit of a bad apple from K’un L’un. It’s a tight superhero set-up, and to my taste, a bit tepid.

But in “The Last Iron Fist Story” (issues #1-6 of the Immortal Iron Fist), Brubaker and Fraction reveal that Danny is not the only living Iron Fist. His predecessor is still alive and kicking (sorry…); he’s been hiding in an opium haze for decades.

When the enemies of K’un L’un find him, he has to leave opium, in anticipation of something called the Tournament of the Seven Capital Cities.

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Goth Chick News: Crushing On Neil Gibson’s Tortured Life

Thursday, September 10th, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Tortured Life-smallAdmittedly, I’m a sucker for a Brit.

And that goes double when he’s also a comic writer.

If he also happens to write dark, gothy stories…

Well, you get the idea.

We first met Neil Gibson back in early 2014 at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2 for you cool kids). Then he was promoting volume one of Twisted Dark; the illustrated story he had written which had just been published by indy comic house TPub in the UK.

TPub believes it is their mission to change the way people view comics and get more people to read them, and in May last year Twisted Dark had already reached number one on the UK Kindle chart. And though I could not locate current stats, when I was in London’s famous Foyles bookstore last month, Twisted Dark was highlighted as a “staff pick” in the graphic novel section.

So a couple weeks ago when Neil emailed to let me know his newest project with TPub, Tortured Life was complete, I was has happy as a cosplayer in at a 2-for-1 spandex sale to get a look and tell you all about it.

Tortured Life tells the story of Richard Carter and his little “problem.”

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New Treasures: Gotham by Midnight by Ray Fawkes and Ben Templesmith

Friday, September 4th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

gotham by midnight-small Gotham By Midnight-back-small

[Click the images for bigger versions.]

I admit I haven’t paid much attention to DC Comics popular The New 52 line (though I probably should). But I have been playing the superb Batman: Arkham Knight on the Xbox, and it’s sharpened my interest in all things Gotham-related. The tortured city of Gotham, birthplace of so much madness and obsession, is one of the great fictional cities in all of literature, and the perfect locale for a creepy supernatural series.

DC seems to think so too. The new Gotham by Midnight comic, collected in trade paperback for the first time last week, features Detective Jim Corrigan (aka The Spectre) in his own series, tackling the unusual cases that land on the Gotham City PD desk during the night shift. Spinning out of Ray Fawkes’ Batman Eternal comic, Gotham By Midnight sees Corrigan prowling the streets of Gotham, solving the unsolvable supernatural crimes that arise when monsters, ghosts and worse things leave their mark on the city. When two kidnapped girls return home unable to speak English, and changed, Corrigan and his team of supernatural sleuths follow the clues to an ancient school with a very strange curriculum. Volume One: We Do Not Sleep collects the first six issues of the comic.

Gotham by Midnight, Volume One: We Do Not Sleep was written by Ray Fawkes and drawn by Ben Templesmith, and published by DC Comics on August 25, 2015. It is 144 pages, priced at $14.99 in trade paperback and $11.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Ben Templesmith.

The Three Phases of Adam Warlock: Return from the Dead

Saturday, August 29th, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Infinity_Gauntlet_Vol_1_1_001I’ve been taking a look at Adam Warlock, one of my favorite comic characters. In previous posts, I’ve written about his early period as a failed messiah figure on Counter-Earth in the early- and mid-1970s, and then his Jim-Starlin-written tragic middle period as the cosmic champion of life, which led to his heroic death in 1977.

Today, I want to take up the thread of the Adam Warlock saga fourteen years later, when both he and the Champion of Death, Thanos, were resurrected as the core of a massive cross-over event called The Infinity Gauntlet.

This may be timely for some folk who had never read the original or reprinted Warlock runs, because Marvel movies have already teased us with a hero-sized cocoon in a Thor movie and have announced an Infinity War movie for 2018.

So, since the Infinity Gauntlet series is now 24 years old, I’m not going to issue spoiler alerts; I’ll likely just berate you for not having read this already (you can, incidentally, stop reading this post, go pick up the Infinity Gauntlet at, and then come back when you’re done; I don’t own Marvel stock or anything, it’s just that much fun).

To remind readers where we left off, in 1977, Adam Warlock, the lonely, tragic Champion of Life, killed Thanos, the nihilistic, insane cosmic Champion of Death. Fast forward to 1991 to Infinity Gauntlet #1, and we find that quite a bit has happened. Death has been chaffing at the imbalance between Life and Death and has pulled out her greatest admirer and lover, Thanos to rectify things.

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Goth Chick News: Comics, Cosplay and Speed Dating — ComicCon Swings Into Chicago

Thursday, August 27th, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Cosplay at Chicago ComicCon 2015 3-smallFor one glorious weekend each summer, Chicago stops being The Windy City and instead becomes Metropolis. The urban crime rate takes a giddy plunge, not for lack of playing host to some fairly spectacular villains, but likely because the bad guys are too busy comparing breathable fabrics with their super hero arch-enemies.

Yes it’s August – ComicCon time in the city…

Wizard World Chicago, commonly known as the Chicago ComicCon, is the annual bacchanalia of pop culture held at the fairly ginormous Donald E. Stephens Convention Center near O’Hare airport. The four day event is among the largest comic book convention in the United States, in third place for overall attendance behind only the New York ComicCon, and the granddaddy of all entertainment cons; ComicCon International in San Diego.

Chicago ComicCon consumed nearly the entire 840,000 sq/ft facility and though at this time, attendance numbers for the 2015 event have not been officially stated, local media estimates the participants at well over 100,000.

Originally showcasing comic books and related popular arts, the convention has expanded over the years to include a larger range of pop culture elements, such as professional wrestling, science fiction/fantasy, film/television, horror and animation.

In addition to an impressive array of vendors, ComicCon played host to a large, daily offering of programming and events such as, “Advanced Costuming and Armor,” “Costumes + Playing = Cosplay,” and “Legal Basics for Game Developers.”

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Sharing Creative Space: An Interview with Marvel Editor Daniel Ketchum

Saturday, August 15th, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

ketchu 3So far in this series, I’ve interviewed Marvel Associate Editor Jake Thomas, Assistant Editor Xander Jarowey, and Assistant Editor Heather Antos about their roles in the production process and their editorial voices.

Today, I wanted to e-talk about the sharing of creative territory between writer and editor. So, I’m having an e-conversation with Marvel Editor Daniel Ketchum, who edits A-Force, Magneto, Nightcrawler, Storm, X-Force, X-Men and other books.

Daniel, in an interview you mentioned that part of your job is deciding which villain the X-Men fight in the next issue. I suppose I assumed (naively) that the writer got to decide most things. How do you divide creative decision-making roles with your writers?

Haha. Truth be told, that answer I gave is more of an easy-to-grasp oversimplification of what Marvel editors do. Four times out of five, the conversation with a writer at the outset of a story arc starts with them pitching the story they want to tell. (That other one time is when something like AXIS or SECRET WARS comes up and you just shouldn’t avoid addressing it.)

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The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Ramblings on REH

Monday, August 10th, 2015 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Ramblings_KullAxeIn a way, Robert E. Howard’s career is similar to that of Dashiell Hammett. Both men had huge impacts on their genres (Howard wrote many styles, but he’s best known for his sword and sorcery tales). Both were early practitioners in said genres. Both men wrote excellent stories for about a decade. And both men ended their careers on their own.

Hammett, who seemed more interested in a dissolute lifestyle than in writing, effectively walked away from his typewriter. He wrote his last novel in 1934 (The Thin Man) but produced literally nothing for the remaining twenty-five years of his life. He could have gone back to writing the hard-boiled stories that made his career, but he voluntarily ended his writing life.

In 1936, Howard’s mother was failing in a coma. He walked outside to his car, pulled out a gun and killed himself. His writing career was more effectively finished than Hammett’s would be.

Both were supremely skilled writers who chose to deprive the world of their talent and left decades of stories unwritten. But there was a key difference between the two. From the beginning, Hammett was acclaimed and recognized as the leader in his field. Though Carroll John Daly came first (barely), there is no comparison between the two in critical view.

Howard was not critically lauded. His first Conan tale, “The Phoenix on the Sword” (a rewriting of the Kull story, “By This Axe I Rule!”), appeared in Weird Tales in December of 1932. The next two Conan tales were outright rejected!

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Knights of the Dinner Table 220 Now on Sale

Saturday, August 1st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Knights of the Dinner Table 220-smallActually, issue #220 of Knights of the Dinner Table has been on sale for a couple months now, and I missed it. I just found out it was the 25th Anniversary issue, and now I’m doubly embarrassed.

Twenty-five years ago, Jolly Blackburn created the Knights of the Dinner Table comic to fill an unexpected one-page hole at the back of his gaming magazine Shadis. Today, the Knights of the Dinner Table headline one of the longest-running independent comics in history, and they also feature in board games, card games, t-shirts, and even an independently produce live-action series.

But the heart of the KoDT publishing empire remains the monthly comic, dedicated to the misadventures of a group of misfit gamers from Muncie, Indiana. It is written and drawn by my friend Jolly R. Blackburn, with editorial assistance by his talented wife Barbara. Black Gate readers may remember the KoDT spin-off The Java Joint, which appeared in the back of every issue of BG (and was eventually collected in a single volume in 2012).

In addition to Jolly’s hilarious comic strips, Knights of the Dinner Table Magazine is packed with gaming columns of all kinds, keeping you informed on the latest and greatest in the industry. KoDT 220 has no less than 11 full-length strips, plus some short “One-Two Punches.”

Here’s the complete Table of Contents.

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