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|AICN COMICS STM: Special Friday Edition! Q&@'s with Todd Nauck & Shawn Martinbrough! Plus Bug & Sleazy @ Wizard World Chicago!

@@@@ Q&@: Matt Adler & Todd Nauck! @@@@ Q&@: Bug and Shawn Martinbrough! @@@@


Well, AICN COMICS: SHOOT THE MESSENGER is your weekly one stop shop for comic book -EWS. What’s comic book –EWS? Well, it’s our hodge podge of everything not reviews here at AICN Comics. Sure you can find out the @$$Holes’ critical opinions of your favorite books every Wednesday at AICN Comics. But here, you’ll find special reports such as previews, interviews, special features, and occasionally news gathered here from our online brethren at Newsarama, CBR, Wizard, etc. Sure those guys are the best at reporting news as it breaks. Click on the links for the original stories. This column cuts the crap to run down all the vital information for those of you who don’t follow it as it comes in, and serves it all up with that special ingredient of @$$y goodness.
Hey folks, Ambush Bug here with a special Friday Edition of Shoot the Messenger. There’re two reasons we have this column. One is that we’ve got a ton of interviews that are burning a hole in my hard drive and I want to get them out to you in a timely manner (without overwhelming y’all, of course).
The second is to remind everyone that Sleazy G and I will be at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont this weekend for WizardWorld Chicago. That’s right, just as my blisters and bruises have healed from SDCC, I go and do the whole damn thing over again in my hometown. Hope to see some of you there!
And now, check out the pair of cool interviews below from Todd “I draw Spidey & Obama” Nauck and Shawn LUKE CAGE NOIR Martinbrough! Enjoy!

Matt Adler talks THE CLONE SAGA With Artist Todd Nauck!

Hi folks, Matt Adler here. Continuing our CLONE SAGA series, this go round we're talking with series artist Todd Nauck. He was kind enough to speak with me about his role in the new series, and although this interview is shorter than the one with Tom DeFalco, I hope you will find it just as elucidating. So, without further ado...
Matt Adler (MA): Ok Todd, can you tell us who first called you about this project, and what your reaction was?

Todd Nauck (TN): I received an email from Creative Director Chris Allo asking if I’d be interested in drawing a new Spider-man mini-series. After a quick “YES!” I was put in touch with editors Ralph Macchio and Michael Horwitz.

MA: How much of the story have you gotten thus far, and do you know how it ends up?

TN: I know some of the story. The plots are written up through issue #4. So I’ve got some surprises to look forward to!

MA: What’s been the most fun thing that you've gotten to draw so far?

TN: I’m wrapping up issue #1 right now. So I’ve gotten to draw Spider-Man, Mary Jane, Ben Reilly, and some villains…there has been some Spidey action that I’m really happy with in issue #1!

MA: Have you talked about doing any redesigns? Would you be interested in designing your own Spider-Man costume eventually?

TN: No talks of costume redesigns for issues #1-2. But if the opportunity arises, I wouldn’t mind creating a new Spidey costume. But I know even if I get to have fun with that, realistically, the Red and Blues are always going to be the definitive, recognizable, and accepted costume anyway!

MA: Which issues from the original CLONE SAGA have you looked to for reference?

TN: I’ve referenced AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #396-409, SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #216-217, WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #117, SPIDER-MAN #66. Because of this I’ve been looking at a lot of Mark Bagley and John Romita Jr.’s works. They are awesome!

MA: What’s the fan response to the news of the project been like so far?

TN: Overwhelmingly positive! For such a “controversial” story, a lot of people seem excited to read this mini-series. It seems that people who remember the original saga really would like to read the story as it was intended to be without all the problems that Tom Defalco has mentioned. There are also those that liked elements of the Clone Saga and are looking forward to seeing Ben Reilly again. Oddly enough, the idea of the story told the way it was meant to be appeals to those who hated the series, and those who liked the characters and want to see them again. And with Victor Olazaba’s inks and Java Tartaglia colors this is going to be a great looking comic!

MA: Ok, so from what you've seen so far, how do you think this series improves on the original?

TN: The original Saga ran for 3 years through 4 different Spider-Man titles. This mini-series streamlines it down to the way it was originally was intended. I think it’s faster paced and more to the point.

MA: What do you think made Ben Reilly such a popular and enduring character that there's still demand to see him all these years later? Do you think Ben Reilly could work in his own series?

TN: At that time, Ben could provide all the original elements of Peter Parker that the actual Peter had grown out of in some ways. Ben could have girl problems and work problems as a single guy where Peter had moved on to marry Mary Jane. It will be interesting to see how fans react to this mini and see if there is a demand for a Ben Reilly/Scarlet Spider series.

MA: Your first work at Marvel was right after the original Clone Saga ended; you filled in for Mike Wieringo, working with Todd DeZago on SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN. How did that happen, and what was that like?

TN: I did do fill-ins on SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #24 and 26. Todd Dezago was the original writer for the DC series, YOUNG JUSTICE. I was one of the artists being considered for that series at the time. While we were waiting for DC to decide on an artist, Todd asked if he could pass my name on to the Spider-man editors to do fill-ins for Mike. (Once DC saw my Spider-man work I was offered YOUNG JUSTICE). It was fun working with Todd. I was excited to get to draw some of my first Spider-Man comics.

MA: Do you prefer working Marvel-style or full-script? And what's it like working with Tom and Howard on this?

TN: I’ve worked Marvel-style; that is (for those who don’t know) a basic plot broken down over a series of pages with some sample dialogue…with Tom Defalco on the AMERICAN DREAM mini-series and Mr. and Mrs. Spider-Man for AMAZING SPIDER-MAN FAMILY #3-4. I’ve also done a lot of full script work. I don’t think I have a style that I prefer better than the other. I think I like adapting to either style.
Tom and I share a similar interest in creating comics that are fun to read with cool action and character moments. He’s always been open to my suggestions/questions as I work through his plots. We’ll discuss the approach to a scene to make sure it’s handled the best way it can be. And this is my first time working with Howard Mackie. He’s been very encouraging to work with as well.

MA: What are Tom and Howard's strengths as writers?

TN: I really like their pacing. I like the changing of scenes every few pages. The action reads well and opens it up for me to choreograph the way I see fit. They write in the Marvel style, so it really allows me to tell the story visually. I feel as though I have a major hand in how the story is presented.

MA: What was it like working with Tom on AMERICAN DREAM? Do you read Spider-Girl at all? And have you read any of Howard's work?

TN: I was familiar with Spider-Girl and the MC2 universe. So when I was offered AMERICAN DREAM, I knew who that was. I did do some catch up reading of the MC2 universe with the latest mini-series before that project and really re-familiarized myself with Tom’s writing. I really like MC2 and would be happy to work with Tom again whether it be Spider-Girl, Avengers Next, or the Fantastic Five. I did read Howard Mackie’s GHOST RIDER! I am honored to get to work with these writing legends!

MA: In my interview with Tom, he had a lot of nice things to say about you and your work too. Any thoughts on what he said?

TN: Tom is a great guy. We’ve really been enjoying getting to know each other while working together. I was still trying to break into the business when he was EIC of Marvel. So when I first started working with Tom on AMERICAN DREAM, I was a little star struck during our first phone conversation. We got to talk briefly at the past two New York City Comic-Cons. We really got to hang out and joke around (along with Ron Frenz) last May at Detroit’s Motor City Comic Con. It’s nice to get to leave the bubble of my home studio and spend time with other professionals. Tom has always been very encouraging about my art. Howard as well! It means a lot to have friends/co-workers that are so supportive. This is the best job in the world!

MA: You said you're in tune with Tom's sensibilities in terms of comics; how so? Do you ever have a desire to do darker stuff? Would you ever want to write for Marvel?

TN: Tom writes just the kind of stuff I like to draw: superhero comics that are fun, exciting and have some depth without taking themselves so seriously. I started reading Marvel and DC Comics in the mid 1980’s. Most of that stuff would appeal to adults but a kid could read it too. So for me all-ages is ALL ages…unfortunately, that title has a stigma of “little kid comics” which I find unfair and untrue. I like stories that have a serious side to them. It brings a nice contrast to the light-hearted side. It’s just more believable. Like X-Men had to deal with mutant-hating racism and killer robots but could also have a softball game and prank each other. That’s what appeals to me. If a story gets dark, I’m okay with that. I’d be open to writing for Marvel if there was a story I wanted to tell. It would probably be X-Men character/characters like Longshot or the New Mutants.

MA: Any other projects coming up? When will we get more WILDGUARD?

TN: My plate is full with SPIDER-MAN CLONE SAGA. That’s gonna keep me busy into early 2010. So that’s what people can expect from me for now! As for more WildGuard, I have more stories in my head. I really want to touch on stories about other corners of the WildGuard universe that I have been plotting out. I’d like to focus on some characters that didn’t make the team and tell some “non-reality TV” stories. But it’s all just a matter of finding the time and resources to do that!

MA: Many thanks to Todd for agreeing to be a part of this interview saga. Stay tuned for the Howard Mackie interview!

In most places, Matt Adler goes by the name his mother gave him, but occasionally uses the handle "CylverSaber", based on a character he created for the old Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight game (one telling hint of his overweening nerddom). He currently does IT and networking support for the government of Nassau County, NY, but his dream is to write for a living, and is in the process of figuring out how to get publishers to give his stuff a look. In the meantime, he passes the time by writing for AICN, CBR, and a few other places. He has also written for Marvel Spotlight magazine.

Bug Takes to the Shadows & Talks LUKE CAGE NOIR with Shawn Martinbrough!

Hey folks, Ambush Bug again with another Q&@ for you. This time, I talk with an artist who’s work I can’t get enough of, Shawn Martinbrough. This week, LUKE CAGE NOIR #1 hit the stands and Martin had a chance to talk to me about it, noir, and other aspects of this amazing artist’s career.
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): Tell us a little bit about LUKE CAGE NOIR.

SHAWN MARTINBROUGH (SM): LUKE CAGE NOIR is a four part series set in 1930’s Harlem published by Marvel Comics. It’s written by Mike Benson (HBO's "ENTOURAGE") and Adam Glass (A&E's "THE CLEANER") and features the classic African American superhero Luke Cage.
The setup: Luke Cage, a local legend who is believed to be invincible, returns to the mean streets of Prohibition-era Harlem after a ten-year stretch in Riker’s Island. All he wants is to be back in the loving arms of his woman, but certain powerful men have different plans for Cage. Willis Stryker, Cage’s childhood friend turned Godfather of Harlem, wants him on his crew, and under his thumb. A wealthy white socialite Randall Banticoff, whose wife is now very dead, murdered in a Harlem alley, wants Cage to investigate her death. Cage is about to learn that coming home is never easy, and to survive he might just have to kill a whole lot of people.

BUG: How many issues is this miniseries? Will it be in color or follow the noir theme and be only in black and white?

SM: It’s a four part mini series. Unfortunately, the series will not be in black and white but fortunately we have the very talented Nick Filardi coloring it.

BUG: Can you explain "noir" to those who may not know what the term means?

SM: The French word for the color Black is Noir. Over time, noir has come to reflect a mood, a tone and most appropriately, a style.

BUG: Luke Cage's origin has a lot of noir elements such as a man wrongly accused and having his life completely destroyed. How much does this NOIR title stray from the original Cage origin?

SM: Without giving too much away about the plot, this story does follow Cage’s classic origin but focuses a bit more on what happens after Cage is released from prison. The series explores how people and situations have changed in his absence. It’s also interesting how the writers Benson and Glass depict the public’s reaction to this urban legend that seemingly cannot be killed and his return to Harlem.

BUG: What other characters show up in this story? Will there be any Iron Fisting in LUKE CAGE NOIR?

SM: Ha! No, this Noir story is set in 1930’s Harlem so there’s no Iron Fist. I was a huge fan of POWER MAN & IRON FIST back in the day, though. In regards to familiar characters, I did get to reinterpret the albino Marvel Universe villain Tombstone in a very unique way.

BUG: There are definitely two versions of Luke Cage in comics. There's the Bendis version who has settled down with Jessica Jones and despises costumes and barely acknowledges himself as a superhero...and then there's the yellow shirt, tiara wearin', "Sweet Christmas" spoutin' original. Which version do you prefer and which shows up in LUKE CAGE NOIR?

SM: To be honest, I’m not familiar with Bendis’s version. I fell off after those old eighties POWER MAN & IRON FIST issues. As a kid, I bought every copy. However as an adult, I look back at that costume and dialogue and say “WTF?? Who wrote this?”

BUG: You're no stranger to noir books, having written HOW TO DRAW NOIR COMICS: THE ART AND TECHNIQUE OF VISUAL STORYTELLING a while back. So how about a quick tutorial on how to draw noir comics? The basics, if you will...

SM: Jeeezzz… a quick tutorial… Well, I guess it’s all in the approach to storytelling. Whenever I get a script, I read through it and create simple thumbnail layouts of the action. Then I go back and streamline the panels to convey what the author has written in the most effective way. To maximize the dramatic moments, I establish areas of shadow and light. This will be my guide to illustrating the final page. To simplify, it’s all about using black and white to tell the story in the most visually interesting way possible.

BUG: What's your favorite film noir movie?

SM: This is a tough question because there are so many. It’s probably easier to categorize by directors. In no particular order here’s a couple: anything Hitchcock, Coppola, David Fincher, Tony and Ridley Scott, Adrian Lyne, Michael Mann, Spielberg, etc.

BUG: What other projects are you working on at the moment?

SM: I’m currently creating an exhibit for the Studio Museum in Harlem. It’s slated for mid-September and the tentative title is “The Making of a Harlem Hero: Luke Cage”. The exhibit explores the depictions of Luke Cage over the years and culminates with my version. Along with former Batman editor Joseph Phillip Illidge, I will show how graphic novels are created from start to finish. My production company is producing a promotional campaign for the Howard Theater renovation in Washington, DC. You can learn more at our company site at In regards to future art projects, I might be working on something PUNISHER related for Marvel Comics in the near future.

BUG: Last chance: why should everyone go out and buy LUKE CAGE NOIR when it comes out in August?

SM: I think it’s an interesting take on a classic African American superhero. My editor Axel Alonso really spent a lot of time crafting this story with Benson and Glass and it really shows. I was definitely inspired to research and recreate the look of a 1930’s Harlem to capture the spirit of the scripts. As a kid growing up on comics, I loved the experience of being taken away to another world or time. With LUKE CAGE NOIR, I definitely think all of the creative players involved take the reader to another time and place with a fresh take on a familiar character. Plus, it has amazing covers by Tim Bradstreet.
To view more of Shawn’s artwork you can visit,

Thanks, Shawn, for taking the time to answer these questions. You can pick up LUKE CAGE NOIR #1 right now at a comic shop near you!

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, reviewer and co-editor of AICN Comics for over eight years. Check out his short comic book fiction from Cream City Comics’ MUSCLES & FIGHTS VOL.3 and MUSCLES & FRIGHTS VOL.1 on his ComicSpace page. Bug was interviewed here and here at Cream City Comics. Look for more comics from Bug in 2009 from Bluewater Comics, including the sequel to THE TINGLER for their VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS ongoing series in stores September 2009 and VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS WITCHFINDER GENERAL and ROGER CORMAN PRESENTS DEATHSPORT to be released in late 2009/early 2010.

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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Hope to see you @ WIZARD WORLD CHICAGO!

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