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Billy Martin Unleashes Vitriol: The Hunter, a Superhero Sci-Fi Horror Story

January 23rd, 2013 Comments off
Billy Martin

Artist, writer, and musician Billy Martin.

In a post-apocalyptic future, Basilika City is dominated by the sinister Lord Barthus and his legion of vampires. Humanity’s only hope? Vitriol, a conflicted hero burdened by his family’s own dark past and determined to set things right!

This is the world of Vitriol: The Hunter, a six-issue miniseries written and penciled by Good Charlotte guitarist Billy Martin, with co-writer Brent Allen!

We had the chance to interview Martin about the evolution of Vitriol, what comics he’s loving right now, and the exclusive soundtrack he’s recorded under the name Villain, available as a free download in the comic! Check out his insights below, as well as a five-page preview of Vitriol: The Hunter #1, out February 27 from IDW Publishing.

CONTEST! Enter to win one of five copies of Vitriol: The Hunter #1 signed by Billy Martin. Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for your chances to win!

TFAW: Can you introduce us to Vitriol: The Hunter?

Billy Martin: Sure, Vitriol is the unfortunate victim of his father’s bad choices. The city Vitriol lives in has fallen victim to supernatural beings that were released from a government experiment led by his father. He loses his family and is badly injured due to his father’s negligence, and now at an older age, he is set on clearing his family’s name.

Vitriol The Hunter ComicsTFAW: The premise is really interesting: a gothic horror sci-fi adventure–set in the future! How did it start?

BM: I just was thinking from a fan or a reader’s perspective. I love superhero comics, but I also love horror themes in general. Vampires, zombies, etc. I can’t get enough of that stuff. I also love stories that are set in a post-apocalyptic setting in the future, where things seem hopeless and some of the technology is just rehashed concoctions made of old and new objects. So I really just mixed all the stuff up, and Vitriol was born!

TFAW: What were some of your inspirations?

BM: The movie The Crow was a big influence on me in general. I love James O’Barr’s books as well, but the dark grittiness of the movie has always stuck with me. Batman, of course, because he has that mysterious brooding superhero vibe without having super powers. Crimson is a favorite of mine as well, and Humberto Ramos is hands down my favorite artist drawing comics right now.

TFAW: How did you connect with Brent Allen, and what’s your collaborative process like?

BM: Well Brent is my brother-in-law, and we have been writing stuff together for years. We wrote and produced a cheap zombie film together a few years ago and that really kicked it off. We started writing scripts together and even developed an animated series pitch. I had the idea for Vitriol on tour and started jotting ideas down as a proposed video game.

Vitriol: The Hunter #1 Preview Page #1I love creating characters and worlds and stories, but I’m too impatient and I really wanna just start drawing. Luckily Brent and I work really well together in that sense. We can sit and brainstorm ideas or bounce emails back and forth. He literally can understand all my ramblings and turn it around into a great script the next day. Brent likes more slasher-horror and futuristic sci-fi, whereas I like the more supernatural monster horror and creature-based fantasy stories.

TFAW: What’s the most interesting thing about Vitriol, your hero?

BM: As a writer, Brent is really into giving every character a very believable story. We gave Vitriol some personal demons to battle along with the vampires he’s fighting. He can’t fly, he can’t crawl on walls, and he’s not rich, so he has to rely on his strength and his passion to pull off being a “superhero.”

TFAW: What motivates the villainous Lord Barthus?

BM: Barthus was basically a lab rat for the government. So as much as he is the villain of the series, it’s fairly justified. In this story arc Barthus realizes that the only reason the city is still intact is because he only rules the night. If the vampires could rule the daylight hours, he could achieve his world domination goal.

TFAW: What do you think is going to surprise readers the most about this comic?

BM: I grew up drawing Disney characters, so naturally I have an animated quality to my drawing. Usually, horror-themed books are very serious looking and gritty and realistic, whereas this book has a serious tone in the story, but a very stylized look to it. Storywise, Brent is always looking to add the “twist,” so we have a lot of cool and unexpected turns in the story that will keep the readers excited about what’s next!

Vitriol: The Hunter #1 Preview Page #2TFAW: You’ve jumped into the role of comics creator with both feet–co-writing and drawing the comic on top of touring with Good Charlotte. What’s been your favorite part of the process?

BM: The best part has been watching myself grow as an artist. I’ve had to really learn new techniques and draw things I never imagined drawing before. When you draw for fun, you draw what comes easy and you never think about drawing a character in a boring pose. So often a story calls for two people to be talking and one of them has it’s back to you and I had think how do you draw a back? Haha. Looking through the books I really think you will see the art gradually taking a step up from book to book.

TFAW: What’s been the biggest challenge?

BM: The biggest challenge has been time! I started this project four years ago. Since then I’ve released an album, toured across the world, had two sons, and completed six issues of a comic book! I am very grateful that I can do music and art, because I love both so much. Very quickly IDW realized that I could not make a monthly book deadline. I brought my art supplies with me and I was working every minute I could, backstage, in hotel rooms, on airplanes.

On top of that I wanted to combine my art and my music, and I created a six song instrumental soundtrack to accompany the book. I’ve been remixing and producing for other artists under the name Villain, and this will be my first official release of original music as Villain. The best part is it will be a free download! Luckily my wife has been very patient with me, getting to be a dad and have your dream job is not something everyone gets to do!

Vitriol: The Hunter #1 Preview Page #3Vitriol: The Hunter #1 Preview Page #4Vitriol: The Hunter #1 Preview Page #5

TFAW: What comics are you reading right now?

BM: My favorite ongoing series is Invincible. Ryan Ottley is so good and Kirkman is unstoppable right now. I love the Amazing Spider-Man stuff that Ramos was drawing. Chew is really good, Skottie Young’s Wizard of Oz books are great, too!

TFAW: You’ve drawn a lot of cool sketch cards of DC’s New 52 and the Walking Dead–do you have any interest in drawing for other books?

BM: Absolutely! Even before I picked up a guitar I dreamed of drawing comic books. I’m so thankful that IDW gave me this opportunity, I hope it opens other doors for me in the comic industry to draw more books.

TFAW: What are your post-Vitriol comics plans? What else are you excited about?

BM: I just can’t wait to get it into the reader’s hands. I know anytime someone from another entertainment genre, like acting or music does a book most people will be skeptical. I hope comic fans will give this book a shot and see how passionate Brent and I are about this story. I am excited for people to hear the soundtrack as well, it’s really a big moment for me all around. Hopefully people like it and support it because we have a lot more stories ready to go for Vitriol.

Our thanks to Billy for filling us in on Vitriol. Make sure to pre-order Vitriol: The Hunter here at TFAW and save 20% now!

PRE-ORDER VITRIOL: THE HUNTER AND SAVE 20%

ENTER TO WIN A COPY OF VITRIOL: THE HUNTER #1 SIGNED BY BILLY MARTIN

Are you excited for Vitriol? Post your comments below!

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The Doubleclicks & Molly Lewis Share Tour Details, Play the Portland TFAW

January 7th, 2013 Comments off

Things From Another World is a proud sponsor of The Doubleclicks & Molly Lewis 2013 West Coast Tour, and we were thrilled to host a hometown kickoff at the Portland TFAW last night that was packed with awesome fans! Check out our interview with Angela and Aubrey Webber and Molly Lewis, and see some choice clips from the show:

You can catch The Doubleclicks and Molly Lewis on tour through January 16. Check out specific tour details here — you’ll be glad you did!

VISIT THE DOUBLECLICKS TOUR SITE

SUBSCRIBE TO TFAWVIDEOS ON YOUTUBE

Have you seen The Doubleclicks and Molly Lewis in person? Post your experience in the comments below!

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December Product Review Contest Winners Announced

January 4th, 2013 Comments off

My Little Pony review at TFAW.comHundreds of great product reviews come in every month, and it’s our duty to pour through them and pick three winners as part of our monthly Product Review Contest. Below, you’ll see who won from December’s Product Reviews. We’ll be sending $25 gift certificates to the people who posted them.

Michael from Tucson, AZ is the first of this month’s winners. Here’s what he had to say about My Little Pony Friendship is Magic #1 Box Set:

There comes every once in a generation a publication that changes our very definition of the cultural world for the better. This is one of them. After reading this I got a promotion at work, Won the Jeopardy Championship, and now I’m a hit with the ladies! I could barely lift before, now I can bench 300lbs! Also, when carrying this home, I was caught in the crossfire of a gang shootout, and it deflect 3 bullets saving my life!

Batman review at TFAW.comCasey from Redlands, CA wrote several reviews last month. His review of Batman #14 caught our eye.

I am loving these Batman comics. These have gotten me into comics. Before the ‘Death in the Family’
story arc started, I really didn’t read many comics. This has pushed me into them
in such an awesome way! The Joker is insane and I love the dynamic between him and
Batman.

Colder review at TFAW.comLast but not least, there’s Felicia from Plainsboro, NJ, who’s review for Colder #1 really spoke to us.

The cover was the first thing that caught my eye. I thought this looks awesome wonder
what it’s about? After reading I’m so glad I picked this comic. It’s more than what I expected. With such suspense and mystery along with a strange crazy supernatural creature; I had to look out for the next issue. I had to put #2 on reserve in order to make sure I was able to purchase. I CAN NOT WAIT FOR #3!

Thanks so much to everyone who wrote reviews last month. You’re helping people decide what to get (or what to avoid) next.

So submit your reviews and help your fellow collectors, and us, sort out the “HOT” from the “NOT”! Who knows, you may be one of next month’s winners.

HOW TO SUBMIT A PRODUCT REVIEW:
It’s simple! Just visit any product page and look for this:

Click on it and our product review form will appear in a popup. Just fill out the pertinent information and submit your review, and you’re done! We’ll take a look at your review and get it up on the product page soon thereafter!

There’s also a really easy way for you to call up everything you’ve ever ordered from us and review it. Simply log in to your account and go into the Order History Section. Next to each item, you’ll see a “Review it!” link.

Questions? Comments? Let us know below!

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Emerald City Comicon and Rose City Comic Con Join Forces for 2013

January 3rd, 2013 Comments off

Jim Demonakos, ECCC Director

Jim Demonakos, ECCC Director. Photo: Annie Laurie Malarkey.

Emerald City Comicon has long been the Pacific Northwest’s most prominent comic book convention, growing exponentially larger each year under founder and director Jim Demonakos and hosting top talent like Mike Mignola, Ed Brubaker, Geoff Johns, and Felicia Day. Last year, the show attracted more than 50,000 attendees to Seattle’s Washington Convention Center, as well as a raft of creators and exhibitors.

Portland’s Rose City Comic Con, on the other hand, is the new kid on the block-turned Cinderella story: founded by Ron Brister and Dave Brockway in 2012 and bankrolled with a mere $500 in startup costs, it wildly exceeded all expectations with more than 4,100 attendees — filling the Hilton DoubleTree Portland to capacity four times during the show.

As a longtime exhibitor at ECCC and a founding sponsor of RCCC, TFAW’s ears perked up when we heard these two organizations were teaming up. Fortunately, we were able to chat with Demonakos and Brister and get the inside scoop on what fans can expect from this partnership in 2013!

TFAW: Jim, why don’t you give us a brief overview of Emerald City Comicon?

Jim Demonakos: Emerald City Comicon is the largest comic book and pop culture convention in the Pacific Northwest, and we’re moving into our 11th year. 2013 is going to be our biggest show yet, as we’re doubling the amount of space we’re taking up at the convention center, so as of this year, we’re fully taking up the entire Washington State Convention Center. So we’re really excited. We’re expecting about 65,000 attendees, which is up from 53,000 in 2012.

We cover all aspects of pop culture. Our main focus is comic books and creators, so we have some amazing creators coming out to Emerald City this year. We also have celebrities, along with gaming, and a number of related events at the show, such as sci-fi speed dating, and really fun after-hours events: concerts, costume contests, you name it.

TFAW: Ron, why don’t you talk about founding Rose City Comic Con and your first year in 2012?

Ron Brister, RCCC Director

Ron Brister, RCCC Director. Photo: Deborah Curtis Lipski.

Ron Brister: We wanted to have something that emulated the experience that we were getting at other conventions, and Emerald City was our favorite. We decided to found something and give it a try, and we were pretty successful. In year one, we were hoping for between 800 and 1,100 attendees, and about 4,100 showed up. We’re also offering a variety of different things, but our primary focus is comic books. But there’s also the element of celebrities, sci-fi, and things of that nature.

TFAW: Portland already has at least two annual comic book conventions. Why do you think people responded so strongly to Rose City, especially in its first year?

RB: I think that can be answered in a couple of different ways. Primarily, the different events that have been taking place around town were somewhat narrow in their focus. Rose City appealed to a much broader audience, and I think that the way we marketed the event really was as a weekend-long, family-fun event. We really targeted families by trying reach outside of the normal comic-book culture and advertise directly to people who had residual income — people who would come spend money with our vendors, making them valuable.

TFAW: So how did the two of you connect?

RB: Jim and I emailed on and off — it’s probably been 24 months now. It started with us trying to make sure we weren’t interfering with other people’s dates, and seeking advice. Jim was very friendly, and that’s where the relationship started.

TFAW: Jim, so why did you and Ron decide to join forces?

Emerald City Comicon 2013 PosterJD: I think we have a real mutual love for the medium of comics. That’s one of the things we talking about throughout emerging friendship. But additionally, we see that there is, judging from the success of year one of Rose City, a market for the kind of really fun event that we bring to Seattle, and see about co-producing a show and bringing the same kind of experience to Portland. At the end of the day, what we really care about is that we want people to come through the door and have an absolutely fantastic time.

I can’t tell you how gratifying it is to me to have so many people think of Emerald City as one of the highlights of their year, because they have such a good time. We don’t take that reputation lightly, so we want to take that and bring a version of that down to Portland–bring our expertise and connections, and add them to Ron’s passion and knowledge of the local market. We don’t want this to feel like, Oh, some outsiders are coming and doing this. If you want to talk to someone, talk to Ron. We’re not some national company finding an opportunity to put a show in this market. We’re Northwest people, and we want great shows in the Northwest.

TFAW: So what are some of the concrete changes that are coming to Rose City this year? How is it going to be different from its first year?

RB: We’re definitely going to have a change, because we’re going to have air conditioning! Obviously we’re taking the show and moving to the Oregon Convention Center, and with that, there’s an expansion that’s taking place. I think we’re really expanding on everything that we did well, and a couple of the things we’re going to tweak are going to be minor. But I think our formula worked pretty well, and it’s going to be the same type of show on a grander scale. We’ll have more artists, more guests, more celebrities, possibly bring in more types of talent.

TFAW: So it’s in a new location; I heard it’s going to be 100,000 square feet this year?

RB: Yes, I believe if we total it all up, it will be more like 120,000.

TFAW: How does this compare to last year at the Portland Hilton DoubleTree, just for reference?

Rose City Comic Con 2013 PosterRB: We’re roughly going to be about four times larger this year; we were around 25,000 square feet last year.

TFAW: Jim, going back to Emerald City Comicon being the highlight of the year for many; I feel like it’s unusual for an independently owned and operated convention to grow so large and so popular, without getting out of control. Can you share your philosophy for organizing it every year?

JD: Listen, I am just as surprised as you are (laughs). I’ll be honest, at the end of the day — and this might sound cheesy — we’re fans. So what we’re doing is creating the convention that we want to attend, and then in the deepest irony in the universe, not being able to attend, because we’re too busy working. But that’s our philosophy with this show; whenever we look at something — and this is where I’m more a fan than a business person — when we consider adding something to the show, my first thought isn’t, “Hey, will this make any money?” I think, “Is this fun? Is this something our fans are gonna like?” And then we figure out the logistics.

This is really a convention for fans by fans. We think we’re pretty average fans — we like a little bit of everything. So when we create Emerald City, we bring little bits of everything we like. We like some celebrities, and we love comics. We love gaming — we have weekly tabletop gaming matches — so we thought, Why don’t we bring a cool tabletop and gaming aspect to the show? And that was successful last year, and it’s going to be even bigger this year. So, we try little things, and not everything flies, but that’s okay. As long as at the end of the day, people walk away from their experience at Emerald City and say, “Man, that was a fun time,” we’ve done our job.

TFAW: What were some of your favorite moments or guests over the past 10 years?

Emerald City Comicon 2012

Emerald City Comicon 2012. Photo: Kathy Ann Bugajsky.

JD: From the celebrity angle, I would have to say Leonard Nimoy. I grew up watching the original Star Trek, so it was a real thrill to meet him, and sit down and have a conversation and find that he’s a real jovial, forward man. That was really cool, plus the fans loved him. But that was almost secondary to my personal experience with him.

As for comic creators, at this point we’ve probably had over a thousand, over the past decade. It’s really hard to choose — people have been super cool. Talking specifically about Dark Horse, I will say that Mike Mignola and Eric Powell were absolutely fantastic people, not only in their care and interest in Emerald City, but in their fan interaction, and interactions with us, from an organizational standpoint. Both of them have been awesome, in their support of the show.

TFAW: Ron, what do you think was your biggest surprise for your first year, or your biggest lesson?

RB: The biggest surprise was that there was a line outside the convention hall before I showed up the first morning! Besides that surprise, I think that one of the things we felt like we could do better, going forward, is that if you have a line like that, you’ve got a demand. You don’t want to disappoint fans before they even get in the door. So we want to get people in more quickly, so they can enjoy the event.

We did spot Q&As with a lot of our ticket holders during the event, and then after the event, and got some information back about what people wanted to see tweaked. I think the biggest complaint we got was the lack of air conditioning, and getting in on that first day, so that’s what we’re working on.

Rose City Comic Con 2012

Old-school "Adam West"-style Batman meets the Littlest Bat-Boy at Rose City Comic Con 2012!

TFAW: So what are going to be the biggest advantages for the fans, with the two of you joining forces?

JD: I think the big advantage to us working together is being able to bring another fresh perspective to what we’re doing at Emerald City, and tailor it to an experience for the fans that are in Portland. We can create that with the connections we have and the industry inroads we’ve already established, while at the same time, keep it a Portland-centric show.

RB: Everything Jim has said is 100% of what we want. As the guys who started Rose City, we want it to be Portland-centric. But Jim and his team have learned a lot of lessons along the way, and now, being a part of Emerald City, that fresh perspective will save us time and maybe even money avoiding the kinds of mistakes they’ve already encountered. The experience they bring, there’s no way to summarize what that value is. You know, and I know, that Emerald City is one of the top shows in the nation, definitely my favorite show, so to have them wanting to work with us, and vice versa, and having this relationship maturing the way it is, is really inspiring.

Our thanks to Jim and Ron for chatting with us! Get more details for this year’s Emerald City Comicon and Rose City Comic Con, and make sure to stop by the Things From Another World booth at each to say hi and pick up some awesome deals.

SEE THIS YEAR’S LINEUP FOR EMERALD CITY COMICON

VISIT THE ROSE CITY COMIC CON WEBSITE

Are you planning on going to ECCC or RCCC this year? Post your comments below!

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