INTERVIEW: NSFW and Spoilers – Eisner Nominated Jason Shiga Talks About “Demon”

INTERVIEW: NSFW and Spoilers – Eisner Nominated Jason Shiga Talks About “Demon”

DEMONvol1RGBHilarious in execution, serious in subject matter, irreverent to human life, and an homage to various science fiction tropes; This only scratches the surface of what comprises Demon. Broken up into four books, this lengthy comic by writer and artist Jason Shiga and published by First Second touches on everything from scientific imaginings to questions of morality, all with a pinch of “Quentin Tarantino-esque” violence. The violent work that is Demon has been nominated for an Eisner award at next week’s San Diego Comic-Con. In a recent interview with Jason Shiga, who just last year moved from the states to France, I couldn’t hold back my plethora of questions regarding his work. Warning for all you readers, mature subject matter and spoilers ahead!

I just binged on all four of the Demon books. My first thought after my brain finished processing what I had just read were, “…Wow…”, followed by, “How did the author get anyone to publish this comic-insanity?” I guess my first real question is, what was it like, this journey from conception, to comic, to book?

Shiga: I assumed out of the gate that Demon would likely never be published. But instead of trying to make it “more-friendly” to publishers, I wanted to double down and make something even more unpublishable in both form and content. This includes varying issue sizes, from 4 pages to 60 pages, having an all-black issue and of course the depraved content which we’ll talk about later. The plan was that I’d release it as a series of self-printed minicomics over the course of 2 years, then call it a day.

How long did it take until all four books were finally out?

Shiga: It took 5 years all together to write pencil and draw but I don’t like keeping folks waiting for too long. I always think about that time between Eightball 19 and 20 when that bullet was just floating in the air for a year. The minicomics were monthly over a two-year period. The First Second collections come out every 4 months so it’s literally just a year to get all 4 volumes.

How did it come about that First Second would publish Demon? Did they have specific stipulations regarding the comic?

Shiga: None! Everyone at First Second was eager to follow me down this dark path. It’s still hard for me to believe that Demon is being put out by the publishers of Zita Space Girl. But it happened.

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Jason Shiga: Artist and Author of “Demon”

In what was basically the forward of the first book, you warned readers of the craziness that they would soon find. What was your motivation for the insane amounts of bloodshed and dark humor, sprinkled with “cum-knives” and camel sex.

Shiga: I like to think it isn’t all just shock for shock sake. I really did want to suggest a serious a philosophical theory about what makes for a meaningful life. It just so happened that I felt the hedonic treadmill was best represented visually by camel sex.

Did you find yourself going nearly as crazy as your main character during this project?

Shiga: I don’t think Jimmy is crazy in the story. I think everything he does is based on bedrock priors followed by airtight logical deductions. Even the cum knife.

I would really love to know what some of your influences have been, on this project and your other work.

Shiga: I’m a bit of a pop culture junkie, especially when it comes to sci-fi paperbacks. The observant reader will notice everything from Rudy Rucker to HF Saint’s “Memoirs of an Invisible Man” worked its way into the story. Of course, in terms of comics the biggest influence would be Death Note.

The art style definitely helped to remind that none of the book was to be taken seriously. Was it a choice made particularly for the comic or just your style in general?

Shiga: I’d like to say it was intentional, but that’s just the way I draw.

Last year you moved to France. How has the transition been for you and your family?

Shiga: It’s been wonderful! I was invited by the “Maison Des Auteurs” for a yearlong residency to work on whatever I wanted with complete freedom!!! It was very liberating to just forget about what publishers or even readers would want and work on a complete moonshot comic. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me.

What prompted you to write about issues like suicide, mass homicide, demon possession, and mathematics?

Shiga: Well they say write what you know.
What reactions have you gotten over Demon?

Shiga: I’ve been abroad for the year so I’ve really only talked with my French readers. If France is any indication though, I think the reaction has been good so far.

How does it feel to be nominated for an Eisner Award at San Diego Comic-Con?

Shiga: It’s a great honor! I’m sad I won’t be able to attend the awards this year mostly because I would have loved to meet the other cartoonists in my category such as Charles Burns, Dame Darcey, Dylan Horrocks and Tom Hart who were some of my biggest influences when I was starting out.

What can you possible do next to top Demon?

Shiga: I’m working on a 600-page interactive comic with an automated memory system that unfolds into a cube.

Any regrets over things you wished you included or didn’t include in the comic?

Shiga: I wish there was some way to include all the crazy letters pages from the mini comics (like the one from a guy who said he tried to create his own cum knife but it didn’t work), but I guess that’s part of the ephemeral beauty of reading the story in minicomic form.

It’s too bad you weren’t able to attend Comic-Con this year, but good luck at the Eisners!

Shiga: Thanks! I’m returning to the States July 23, literally the final day of Comic-Con! Rotten timing but happy to have the extra time in France.

 

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SDCC ’17: This Year’s Exclusive Collectibles and Merchandise to Watch Out For

SDCC ’17: This Year’s Exclusive Collectibles and Merchandise to Watch Out For

Forget about all that there is to see at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, what about all that there is to buy? Prepare to shout at unsuspecting vendors “Shut up and take my money” (which The Beat doesn’t condone) after you see some of these standouts among the piles of convention exclusives.

Rick
Gold Variant Rick Figure

Just about everyone is still foaming at the mouth over Rick and Morty, who are returning to the airwaves with fresh content soon. Marking season 3’s July 30th premiere, Loot Crate will be a releasing a gold variant Rick and Morty figure, exclusively manufactured for them. You won’t have to worry about getting this golden “bad-grandpa” with purchase of a crate, selling for $20 by itself, but make sure you visit the Loot Crate booth at #3635 as supplies will be limited.

X-Men
POP! Marvel: Wolverine – X-23

Toys-R-Us, the company that had us as kids collectively telling ourselves “I’m a Toys-R-Us kid”, will feature a full-list of convention exclusives available at the Entertainment Earth booth, #2343. Of them, this Funko Pop! vinyl of the “X-23”, stands out as a must for collectors. The cloned daughter of X-Men’s Wolverine comes garbed in his classic yellow and blue jumpsuit, reminiscent of the classic 90’s cartoon.

Optimus Prime
Transformers Masterpiece Optimus Prime

Yet another must have collectible from Toys-R-Us and Entertainment Earth will be the Transformers “Masterpiece Optimus Prime.” It’s a MP10 variant, taking its color from the original Transformers: Generation 1 animated series, that any Transformers enthusiast would love to call their own. Produced by Hasbro, this highly detailed figure comes with poseable fingers, stands at 9.5 inches in robot mode, transformers to truck mode in 24 steps, and comes with accessories such as: Orange Energy Axe, Spike Witwicky figure, Ion Blaster Rifle, Roller Unit, trailer that converts into a battle station and repair bay, and a mostly die cast Matrix of Leadership with a gem-like center that can be carried in the Optimus’ chest.

It wouldn’t be a collectibles list if the Funko booth weren’t on it. Before I get into some of my favorite Funko exclusives for this year’s SCDD, I must warn all you eager buyers that they will be handling the sales of their product differently this year. All who wish to purchase at their booth must line up first thing in the morning at the “Badged Member entry line,” attendee and professional badges allowed only, to enter in a raffle for a CHANCE to get one (1) wrist band per person that gives permission to purchase for that day. The line might even start as early as 6 AM! If you’re still with me here, then continue reading.

Starwars
POP! Star Wars: Holographic Princess Leia & R2-D2

Star Wars is definitely dominating the collectibles sales for San Diego Comic-Con this year. A throw-back to the original movie, or fourth for some of you, this double-pack “POP! Star Wars: Holographic Princess Leia & R2-D2” will be an awesome purchase. It also is a wonderful nod to Carrie Fisher, who will have a tribute panel in her honor at this year’s convention as well.

Joke Batman
POP! Movies: Suicide Squad – Joker Batman

What do you get when you put Jared Leto’s Jocker into a blender with Batman? You get “POP! Movies: Suicide Squad – Joker Batman” of course! This POP! character uses the standard Batman design, covered in variant green and purple colors, complete with graffiti and the Joker’s iconic smile.

Blue Batman
POP! Heroes: Blue Chrome Batman (Toy Tokyo)

As we can’t get enough of variant colors and anything shiny, this “POP! Heroes: Blue Chrome Batman (Toy Tokyo)” will have you feeling like you’ve just pimped out your car. Instead, it was Funko that pimped out Batman. Why they didn’t have this look in the WONDERFUL Batman & Robin movie, we will never know.

Megazord
POP! Power Rangers – 6” Megazord

Undoubtedly one of the most wanted POP! figures at Comic-Con this year is this “POP! Power Rangers – 6” Megazord.” This “6-inch Supersized POP” figure is the original Power Rangers’ season 1 megazord, the one that was stuck prominently in our minds as kids and has followed us into adulthood. The oversized POP head isn’t to scale of course, but it oddly works. Whether you’re a Power Rangers fan, POP fan or just a collector, this is the one to look out for this year.

Twin Peaks
POP! Television: Twin Peaks – Black Lodge Cooper and Laura 2-pack

Lastly for my Funko highlights, I offer up this “POP! Television: Twin Peaks – Black Lodge Cooper and Laura 2-pack.” More as a reference to the end of the original series instead of the returned version of Twin Peaks, this couple deliver in nostalgia, chills, and of course confusing storyline.

Powdered Toast Man
Kidrobot Exclusive Powdered Toast Man, ‘Wheat’ Edition

 

The return of iconic 90’s cartoon shows such as Rocko’s Modern Life and Hey Arnold! in movie form is but a testament to how those who were kids in that era had it made. Those same shows that filled our Saturday mornings or school day evenings forever live in our minds to this day. For some of us, they also live on our collector’s shelves. Nickelodeon, the network that collectively controlled our watching habits at one point is banking on this. An example is this “Kidrobot Exclusive Powdered Toast Man, ‘Wheat’ Edition,” originating from the outrageous animation that was The Ren & Stimpy Show. Standing at 8” tall, this super hero that is both man and toast is priced at $50 and located at the Nickelodeon booth #4113.

Avatar Aang
Zwyer Exclusive Avatar Aang Chibified Character

As we will never get enough of the original Avatar series, Nickelodeon will be offering this “Zwyer Exclusive Avatar Aang Chibified Character” in ultra-retro “Sephia” tone, a means to pay homage to past SDCC exclusive Avatar prints. This little guy will cost you $25.

Hey Arnold
Just Play Hey Arnold! Bean Plush Friends

If you’re going to be one of those to see the Hey Arnold! movie, then you’ll for sure want to snag these plushies of Arnold, Gerald and Helga. The “Just Play Hey Arnold! Bean Plush Friends” can also be found at the Nickelodeon booth, priced at $10 per plush.

God Woke
Stan Lee’s God Woke Signature Edition Graphic Novel

Toys are not the only merchandise to look out for at Comic-Con. Factory Entertainment is currently taking pre-orders of it’s Comic-Con exclusive “Stan Lee’s God Woke Signature Edition Graphic Novel.” The 120-page full color book is hand signed by Fabian Nicieza, Mariano Nicieza, John Herbert, and of course Stan Lee. The book follows both humanity’s and God’s search for meaning, all of which told using insightful understanding of character that was synonymous with the “Silver Age” of comics. Of the 100 limited copies that don’t get sold during the convention, they will be available for purchase at FactoryEnt.com.

It’s impossible to list all the exclusives that San Diego Comic-Con has to offer. That said, be sure to check out the official Comic-Con.org website for a list of all the vendors and highlighted merchandise, and stay tuned to The Beat’s Twitter and Instagram feeds as we’ll be posting live from the convention and sales floor.

 

SDCC ’17: No Parking? Try These Alternate Modes of Transportations for the Convention and Downtown

SDCC ’17: No Parking? Try These Alternate Modes of Transportations for the Convention and Downtown

If you have a vehicle, my first suggestion would be to either: A) Make sure your hotel comes with complementary parking, or B) Don’t bring your vehicle at all. Not to say that there isn’t parking to be had near San Diego Comic-Con, as every couple of blocks through downtown you’ll run across the likes of ABM, LAZ or Ace parking lots, but for a low cost or no cost at all, *polite chuckling*, good luck there. Even if you are willing to pay the price much like the amount of shekels you’ve already dropped on convention tickets and a hotel room, the lots typically fill up fast. Ultimately, unless you’ve booked your parking ahead of time in the same sort of lottery fashion that SDCC tickets do, you’ll be sans car during your convention experience.

The likes of Uber, Lyft and various cab companies are always available, but again you’ll  have to be prepared to pay up as you’ll definitely see an increase in fare during SDCC. Pedicabs can be a fun way to get around, but they too can suffer from SDCC increases, not to mention becoming inducers for cardiac arrest as they weave through streets and sidewalks. So, what are you to do instead? I’m glad you asked. Here are five alternative modes of transportation that not too many consider or know about, even locals.

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This year’s Conan Advertisement for Comic-Con one of the MTS Trolleys
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Discount Comic-Con Trolley Passes (Courtesy of the MTS website)

Trolley: San Diego’s Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) services anywhere from downtown, to Lemon Grove, to Santee, and even to San Ysidro near the Mexican border. This is perfect if you’re staying somewhere in downtown or in a neighboring area, complete with a stop just across the street from the Convention Center. Pickup times are typically every fifteen-minutes and vehicles are ADA compliant. True, this one does get a lot of use, but it is only in recent years that the idea of using them caught on. Special Comic-Con themed discount passes are also available at the MTS Store or at select Trolley stations during the convention. Just be prepared for crowding with every stop up to the Convention Center.

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Shuttle Buses: A staple for many years of the convention, shuttle buses operate for all five-days of the convention (which includes preview night). Depending on time of day, their frequency of pickup alternates between fifteen to thirty-minutes. They drop off right in front of the Convention Center, which is both convenient and inconvenient, as it adds to the already congested scene outside. For a full schedule of times and pickup locations, visit www.comic-con.org/sites/default/files/forms/cci2017_shuttlesched.pdf.

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DecoBikes: Unlike the pedicabs that look like rickshaws pulled by thick-thighed men and women, DecoBikes are a service that allow individuals to rent their own bicycles all throughout downtown San Diego. In partnership with the City of San Diego, standalone DecoBike stations are located just about everywhere downtown, offering bike rentals by the hour or more through their automated self-service station. When done, they can be returned to any other station. Though most people won’t be looking for this type of transportation to and from the convention, it offers a fun escape from SDCC and an alternative when wanting to explore more of what downtown offers. Prices can range from $5 for half-an-hour, $7 for one-hour, and $12 dollars for two-hours. For a map of their many locations and more information on their pricing, visit www.decobike.com/sandiego.

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FRED: No, I’m not suggesting you play horsey with an unfortunate gentleman named Fred. The Free Ride (nick named “FRED”) is a small, electric-powered shuttle that you request in the same way you would an Uber or Lyft. It will pick you up and drop you off anywhere along its pre-determined route. What’s the cost? It’s FREE! The catch is you’ll have to bear with a few extra pickups along at the way and sit in a tram covered in advertisements, but the cost and convenience greatly makes up for it. Hours slightly vary per day, with them taking pickups on Fridays and Saturdays up until 12 PM and 9 PM on every other day. This is definitely a downtown secret that not even too many locals know about. Download their app for your smartphone through their website and check out their map of pickup locations at www.thefreeride.com/san-diego.php.

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Harbor Drive Shuttle: Operating for a sixth season, the Harbor Drive Shuttle is a promotional service held on behalf of the Port of San Diego and managed by Ace Parking that runs seven days a week, 10 AM to 10 PM on Fridays and Saturdays, and 10 AM to 8 PM on Sundays through Thursdays. Those using the service who have parked at the San Diego Convention Center or Hilton Bayfront Ace Parking garages can get a discounted ticket costing $1 if they show their parking receipt. Up to four people per receipt can get this discounted price. For those who haven’t parked in those lots, the regular rate is $3 per person for unlimited, all-day rides. Pickup times run about every twenty minutes and stops include: Sheraton Hotel and Marina, Maritime Museum, Marriott Springhill Suites/Residence Inn Bayfront, USS Midway Museum, Seaport Village, Manchester Grand Hyatt, Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge, and the San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina located right next to the Convention Center. Tickets can be purchased from six out of the eight pickup locations listed or from the shuttle drivers themselves.

If you’re one of those who still insist on driving themselves to and from the convention, websites like http://www.parkingpanda.com or sandiego.bestparking.com can lend a helping hand with finding nearby, available parking, leaving more free time to worry about San Diego Comic-Con itself.

“San Diego Comic-Con Staying Until 2021” Says Mayor Kevin Faulconer

“San Diego Comic-Con Staying Until 2021” Says Mayor Kevin Faulconer

 

Yesterday morning, outside of legendary Hall H of the San Diego Convention Center, Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced that the San Diego Comic-Con will be staying in the city through 2021. The San Diego mayor was accompanied by Tourism Authority CEO Joe Terzi, Convention Center CEO Clifford “Rip” Rippetoe, Comic-Con International’s Chief Communications and Strategy Officer David Glanzer and others as he broke the news in a press conference. He thanked Glanzer and his group for coming to this agreement, as well as reminding the collected press of Comic-Con’s importance for San Diego. “San Diego has always been the proud home of Comic-Con and we are extremely pleased that we can carry on that tradition of being the destination for the world’s premier celebration of the popular arts,” said Mayor Faulconer. “San Diegans can be excited to know that Comic-Con will continue to pump millions of dollars into our economy to support local jobs, street repair and neighborhood services.”

Three-years longer than the originally slated 2018 date, this news comes as both a cause for celebration and a source of prolonged aggravation for fans and convention goers. As the mayor of San Diego went on further to say, “It is more important than ever that we continue to push the [expansion on] the convention center so we can ensure Comic-Con and other large conventions continue to stay in San Diego for years to come.” It has been common knowledge for a great while that Comic-Con International has outgrown the confines of the San Diego Convention Center, pushing big names such as Nintendo and Marvel to use banquet space in the surrounding hotels. Not only that, but Comic-Con must turn away droves of potential vendors, as they don’t have the space to accommodate them either.

The “simple” solution of expanding the Convention Center has been in talks for many years now, ranging from the logistics of the expansion, to lawsuits, and to how it will be paid for. One example of such expansion struggles is when ballot measures in November of last year calling for increased hotel taxes to fund the expansion failed to pass. There seems to be no end in sight yet to the struggle.

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David Glanzer, Chief Communications and Strategy Officer for Comic-Con International

With the difficulties of reaching a convention solution, Comic-Con International has opened their minds to the idea of moving to other cities. Hearkening back to a small press gathering of this last April’s Anaheim Wondercon, CCI’s David Glanzer said that, “Home base is San Diego, but that doesn’t lock us in… An expansion [of the Convention Center] for just Comic-Con doesn’t seem plausible.” Cities such as Anaheim and Los Angeles have thrown their hats into the ring, trying to lure Comic-Con their way. Due to scheduling conflict last year, Wondercon had to temporarily relocate to Los Angeles, away from the Anaheim Convention Center which played host for the three previous years. As Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a press conference at the start of that convention: “L.A. was the hub of creativity and deserved such an event as this.” Most likely, Mayor Garcetti was using Wondercon as a proving point that they can handle Comic-Con in the future.

For now, the new 2021 date gives more time for San Diegans to enjoy everything that the convention brings to the city, as well as gives more time for city officials to hopefully figure out a viable solution surrounding the Convention Center and its expansion. As for us Comic-Con fans, it’s not hard to feel however that the extension is more like a reprieve from a scheduled execution.