Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Interview with Walking Dead artist Stefano Gaudiano...

If you know me, you know that I'm basically obsessed with the Walking Dead universe. The comics are my current favorite series. I've also been a big fan of Stefano Gaudiano's work for a long time, so when I heard that he got the gig as the inker on the Walking Dead comic series, I couldn't have been happier!

Stefano Gaudiano has worked on books for all the major publishers, most notably a Batman title for DC and Daredevil for Marvel. He was recently a guest at the Bellingham Comicon (of which we did a recap here), and he was gracious enough to take the time for a little Q&A with It was a honor to interview one of my favorite artists. Hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did chatting with Stefano.

Inteview with Stefano Gaudiano, October 18, 2014

The Steve Strout: Right to the point! How did you get the Walking Dead gig? Were you approached by Image or one of the creators?

Sketch cover Stefano did for me!
Stefano Gaudiano: The request to work on the Walking Dead came directly from Robert Kirkman, actually. I think he had been talking with Ed Brubaker, who is an old friend of mine who knew my work from Gotham Central which is a book I did years before with DC Comics. They contacted me because the Walking Dead was coming out every two weeks instead of every month and Charlie (Adlard) needed and inker, and I was one of the few people they thought would be a good fit. I was available and did a test drawing, and it went from there. It was just an email from Robert (Kirkman) asking me if I was interested and if I would be willing todo a few samples, and things just went from there.

TSS: Had you met those guys ( Kirkman and Adlard) in person before?
Stefano and

SG: I had met Charlie. I knew Charlie. I'd met him at a dinner a few years before. I hadn't met Robert yet, but you know, the comic's community is small enough that he was like friends of friend....

The TV show was already out but I wasn't thinking of it in terms of "oh wow! I get to work on the Walking Dead". I hadn't quite hit me what a phenomenon it was. I only realized how great of an opportunity it was until later. At first I just thought, "yeah this is gonna be great", but then it turned out to be beyond great.

Stefano doing sketches for his fans at the Bellingham Comicon

TSS: I know you can't talk too much about the Walking Dead, so We'll change the topic. For the people that aren't as familiar with you, what other notable books/ characters have you worked on?

SG: The stuff that people would've heard of is the stuff I did at Marvel and DC Comics. I did Daredevil with Marvel. I did a little bit of work on Spider-Man. Quite a bit of work on Captain American and The Winter Soldier as an inker mostly. I did a little bit of penciling on Spider-Man which was great because Spider-Man is my favorite character. Mostly I've been an inker at Marvel. At DC I started as a penciler and switched to inking. I penciled a few Batman related books, and I was an inker for most of the run of Gotham Central working with Michael Lark and Spanish artist Kano. That's something else that I'm known for, Gotham Central. It's not hugely popular, but it's a well regarded book and it's a good experience.

Outside of Marvel and DC, I've worked on comics for ages, since 1984. I've done a number of titles. independent books that people probably haven't heard of. Outside of comics, I've done a lot of freelance in work in video games, animation, newspaper illustration. The most high profile thing I've done, as far as that goes, for a few months I was working under contract with Microsoft on the Halo video game, and you know, that's about it as far as things people would have known about.

Courtesy of Stefano Gaudiano and
TSS: You mentioned Spider-Man was your favorite character. Who is/was your favorite character to draw?

SG: My favorite character to draw? Ok, this is kind of a cop out, but I'm gonna go with zombies. I actually love drawing zombies. They're very forgiving. It's fun. A lot of textures to get into. As far as super heroes or primary characters, I really do like drawing Spider-Man. I might really enjoy, I haven't done this yet, but I'd really like to draw the Hulk. Another one is Master Of Kung Fu. Shang-Chi Master of Kung Fu was one of my favorite comic books both as a story and visually from the 1970's. A number of artists worked on it that were really good. Paul Gulacy, Mike Zeck, Gene Day, and I loved all of their stuff and they were a big influence. It would be really fun to draw Shang-Chi Master of Kung Fu sometime.

TSS: You mention all these other great creators. Did you have, and who were your influences when you first got into comics?

SG: Yeah definitely. There are artists who influenced me from childhood. Gene Colan , Jack Kirby, John Romita, and Steve Ditko probably were the big four from the get go, and then people like Barry Smith, Paul Galacy, Jim Starlin, and then Frank Miller was probably the last person I felt I was influenced by in the way that you can be really influenced by somebody when you're young. That kind of changes when your old and you admire other people. There's a lot of great artists, but I think of them more like my colleagues than earlier creators.

Outside of american comic books there was Italian artist Hugo Pratt. He was a big influence. He did Corto Maltese. Then the Argentinian artist Alberto Breccia, who is not well know here, except by pure aficionados. He is just an outstanding, outstanding artist.

TSS: Do you read comics. Are you reading any current comics?

SG: I don't read a lot of comics. I read Lazarus and Velvet (both Image Comics titles) by Michael Lark, Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting. I'm always keeping an eye out for stuff Butch Guice does, I love his work. I love Lee Weeks. I keep an eye out for books that are by people that I admire or that I've maybe worked with. I like Saga. I've been reading Saga ( also an Image title). I can't think of anything else off the top of my head. I don't have a comic book store in my town, so sometimes I'll find books at the library. I've enjoyed a lot of what Brian Bendis has done over at Marvel in the last 15 years. It's been interesting. Stuff by Steve Seagle. Nothing specific that I follow month to month, basically. Oh, and I was a fan of the Walking Dead before I got called to work on it. That's a book that I would wait until a couple trades were out then I would sit and devour them in one setting.
Courtesy of Stefano Gaudiano

TSS: Do you watch the show too?

SG: I watched the first two seasons, and then it got too horrific. It's a little harsher in full color with the music and the acting, but I'm probably gonna catch up with what they've done since.

TSS: You mentioned earlier that you would like to work on the Hulk. I usually like to ask comic creators if there is any character or series they'd like to work on. Would it be the Hulk or any other comic series that you'd like to do?

SG: I feel like I haven't given this enough thought, actually. I'm very comfortable inking, and that's one of the issues. I'm not sitting here thinking of who I want to draw. I'm more interested in who I want to work with, and who are the pencilers I'd like to work with. I mean I love working with Butch Guice and I love working with Michael Lark. There's always new artists. Trevor Hairsine is an incredible artist that I've had the pleasure of working with that I'd like to work with again.There's a lot of artists I'd like to work with, so I think in terms or artists I'd rather work with, rather than characters.

As far as characters, yeah, the Hulk. It might be fun to draw Tarzan. I like characters who aren't heavy on technology where it's the musculature, facial expressions, textures of skin, and settings. I also like drawing cities, so Spider-Man would be fun. Daredevil was fun, because anything set in the city gives me the chance to get in there and draw some interesting city scapes. I always enjoy that.

TSS: It's like the city becomes a character in itself.

SG: Yeah definitely. The landscape, whether it's the city or the woods, I really enjoy the way the landscape can affect the tone of the book.

TSS: I don't want to take up too much more of your time because I know you have to get back to meeting and doing sketches for fans. I do always like ask if there is any advice you would like to give to aspiring or up and coming comic artists?

SG: I was asked this earlier today at this convention. The main advice, is don't lose focus of what your passion is. If your passionate about art, and this applies to just about anything, not specifically talking about art. If you're passionate about art, it's gonna keep you engaged. It's gonna keep you wanting to do it over and over again. Practice is what makes perfect, essentially.

Anybody can be a professional artist if you just take the time to practice. Your not going to take the time to practice if you don't love doing it. So, as long as you retain that kind of focus, and you will maybe keep looking at things that stimulate that interest. Say like, your kinda good at drawing, but maybe your losing interest in whatever it is that you've been drawing the last five years. You could find something else thats exciting to draw, just follow that. Once you get to the point where you can apply yourself professionally, other than just keep working and showing your stuff, keep showing up at conventions or sending stuff to editors because persistence is key. Other than that, if you can, find somebody that you can work alongside that's more experienced than you. Do an apprenticeship of some sort. It can even be just like helping them out in the studio, like maybe running errands for them. Then maybe picking up a few tips from them and maybe picking up a little bit of work assisting them. I had the benefit of working with Rick Hoberg which was an incredible apprenticeship for me. Anything like that where you can get in touch with somebody that does the type of work that your interested in, and maybe they need a little bit of an assistance, jump on that. That's the best way probably to learn, alongside a professional that's done a few things you haven't done yet.

TSS: Thanks a lot for your time, I've had fun chatting and watching you work.
SG: Thank you.

As always, thanks for reading. Keep spreading the word. Don't forget to join our Comic Book Swap Meet group and page on Facebook to keep up on updates, news and other nerdiness!
Steve Strout is the media mastermind behind this site, host of the Comic Book Swap Meet, nerd, terrible artist, gamer, convention goer and comic book reader who spends more time rescuing toys from thrift shops than a normal adult should. He is also known around the northwest for his promotion of live music and stand-up comedy events and is the creator/producer of the Olympic Peninsula Comedy Competition (which will make it's big return in 2015). Follow him on Instagram at, and  He can be reached for comments at on twitter at @thestevestrout

Friday, October 24, 2014

Comic Review: Arkham Manor

Review by Joe David Thompson
The Bat-Universe is cranking out some great new comics over the past few weeks. 

Joining the refreshing new direction for Batgirl in issue #3 and the cool vibes in the new Gotham Academy, we get the first issue of Arkham Manor this week, from the creative team of Gerry Duggan, Shawn Crystal, Dave McCaig, and Travis Lanham.  When I first learned of the premise, I thought the conceit sounded a bit silly, but after the execution, I'm on board enough to come back for the next episode. 

After the quite literal fall of Arkham Asylum, the government of Gotham City is in dire need of a place to house the city's most undesirable criminals and violent head cases.  Using an outdoor stadium as a stop gap measure is a band aid that quickly anger's the public, so the mayor turns his eye to the recently vacated Wayne Manor.  Pulling the strings of imminent domain, Gotham acquires the former Wayne grounds and fills it with these patients, dubbing the project Arkham Manor.  But there's a catch:  the Bat-Cave is still underneath the grounds and fully operational.  When grisly murders strike Arkham in its first few days, the world's greatest detective sets out to find the going undercover.

So, Arkham Asylum is probably as good of a first issue as you could get.  Duggan hits all the right notes, whether he's landing the gruesome tone or tossing out ideas that could be turned into series' of their own.  I especially like the idea of Batman creating his own prison deep in the cave for his most potent foes.  Duggan also picks up on some of the more personal traits of Bruce, both as the man and the Batman, as he reminisces about the history of his home, or the hint of spoiled child when it finally occurs to him that the manor was Alfred's home as well.  It all adds up to some humanizing layers for Bruce's character that often get lost in the bigger action.  This is a great thing, mainly because by the closing page, we get the idea that Arkham Manor might just be a Batman book minus the Batman, or at least, Batman as action hero.  Batman as detective is presented with a classic "locked door" mystery on his home turf.

Shawn Crystal's artwork creates the mystery and gloom of the book's tone wonderfully.  His take on Batman is often one that magnifies his physical side.  We are continuously looking up at him, cut with sharp features and, of course, the muscular physique.  There's plenty of shadows and movement, all of which adds to the building of the world of Gotham, and more importantly, the manor itself, sure to be a claustrophobic setting as the book progresses.

Joe David Thompson has been doing media reviews for websites such as Red Carpet Crash and the 405 Music Blog. For any questions or comments for Joe David Thompson, you can email him at and follow him on twitter @jovid52

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bellingham Comic Con recap...

It's been a really busy last month or so for me between RCCC, Olympic Collectible Expo, Geek Girl Con, and Bellingham Comic Con. Like I mentioned before, we have a date set for the Comic Book Swap Meet too!! My pictorial rundown of the show will follow a couple quick announcements here...

First off, I just wanted to share that I was invited to be a judge for a zombie costume contest. We all know my love for the Zombie genre, so I couldn't help but share that with ya!

I've also spent a lot of time supporting a couple up and coming cosplayer friends and nerd news sites. If you aren't already, go check out Lauderdale Cosplay, John Nutter Cosplay (congrats to John on his awards for his Quailman at Bellingham Comic Con), and The Nerd Truth. I endorse them all the way...

Speaking of cosplayers, I shared a picture in the Geek Girl Post of an awesome Captain America cosplay (among a few others) and asked if anyone knew who the cosplayers are so I can throw them a shoutout. I just happened to run into Captain America at the Bellingham Comic Con this past Saturday. He is James Holliday also known as Seattle's Captain America. That link will send you to his Facebook fan page, go give him a follow anf see where he will be appearing next. He is also known for his work with the 501st Legion. If you don't know about them, they are a Star Wars themed cosplay group that does a ton of charity work and stuff. Awesome organization, with top of the line costumes. We talked about some great ideas, and I look forward to working with these guys and doing some good for the community.

Bellingham Comic Con
The Bellingham Comic Con took place this past Saturday, October 18th. Such a fun show. If at all possible, you should check it out next year!!! Here's the pictures for your enjoyment, and as always, be sure to check out and support all the links scattered throughout the post...

This show is bigger every year. This is the first time I had to stand in line to get in!
One of my personal favorite artists...Stefano Gaudiano
Stefano is the current inker on the Walking Dead comic series. My favorite current comic series.
Stefano working on my sketch cover...

Finished product!
I showed him my bag that Matthew Southworth drew a Spider Man on. Mr. Gaudiano insisted on adding a zombie to my bag.  Such a great guy. He also took the time away from his work to do a Q&A for this site. Watch for that in the coming days.

The kiddos stole the cosplay show at Bellingham, as far as I'm concerned. This young Rogue refused to let me take a photo until she removed her glove to "take Mystique's powers"...Love it!
Lady Deadpool! Correction...Great Lady Deadpool!
My friends from Creator's Edge Press. These guys have some great independently owned comics out. Go check them out, and if you see them at a con, tell em I said hello...
Some beautiful books from Creator's Edge Press. Check out their site: Creator's Edge Press
The great Randy Emberlin and his art! He's drawn practically EVERYONE!
Ben Hansen was another great artist at the show. I didn't know him before, but instantly became a fan of his work. Check out his art at :
I took home a stack of Ben's prints! Might be contacting him soon about a comission.
More Ben Hansen work. Like I said, check him out:

Here are some great cosplays from the show...

                                          Busy Convention floor...
This great vendor has a shop in Bellingham called Finders Keepers. They're at 1840 James St. in Bellingham, WA. If you're ever up that way, check them out.
The dudes from Finders Keepers working hard! I still can't get over how busy the convention was.
Artist James Taylor. Another cool guy I'm looking forward to working with in the future. James was there supporting the Bully's Bully, his well as the Jet City Comic Show, which we will be covering early November.
John +Charles Comics booth stayed busy! They had tons of great books at awesome prices. I hope to have them sell at an upcoming Comic Book Swap Meet.
Comics Comics Comics
BobaKhan Toys 
I see these guys at all of the Northwest cons. BobaKhan Toys' booth stays busy at all the shows, rightfully so, with the great selection they always bring with them.
BobaKhan Toys and Collectibles also have a shop in Everett, Wa. Go check them out at
Just a tip of the iceberg of BobaKhan's selection...
Artist alley stayed busy

Roundup of some of the award winning cosplays...
Little Rocket Raccoon!

Like I said before. The little ones stole the show!
The Dude
Pay attention to the Green Arrow, Spider-Man!!!
That's how it's done, son.
As I mentioned previously, watch for that Stefano Gaudiano interview as well as Kit Cosplay's column along with the great comic book review. Until then...

Steve Strout is the media mastermind behind this site, host of the Comic Book Swap Meet, nerd, terrible artist, gamer, convention goer and comic book reader who spends more time rescuing toys from thrift shops than a normal adult should. He is also known around the northwest for his promotion of live music and stand-up comedy events and is the creator/producer of the Olympic Peninsula Comedy Competition (which will make it's big return in 2015). Follow him on Instagram at, and  He can be reached for comments at on twitter at @thestevestrout