Sunday, February 28, 2010

Interview With Dave Shabet

This week Dave Shabet was kind enough to sit down with me to discuss his webcomic Dead Winter. He is releasing a collection that I'd highly recommend.

Koltreg: How would you describe your webcomic, Dead Winter?

Dave Shabet: You mean thematically? In short it's a character-driven adventure comic set to the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse. In even-shorter short it's a zombie comic for people who don't like zombie stuff.

Koltreg: By zombie stuff do you mean focusing on zombies and gore or something else?

Dave Shabet: I mean the general culture and media-presentation of zombie movies and comics as the same run-scream-die human buffet of the living dead that lots of people either don't care for or have grown tired of.

Koltreg: Is there any zombie media like that, that you enjoy?

Dave Shabet: I like Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead- up to a point- and I've enjoyed the handful of zombie films I've seen, but a lot of the one-shot print comics I've seen come out really haven't been very fulfilling, like they were just dogpiling on a zombie craze. No interesting or sympathetic characters, no real motivation to survive. They were really so bland I couldn't even tell you their names.

Koltreg: Ah yeah. I ended up getting the Walking Dead Compendium. It is a pretty great series, it has me excited for the tv show.

Dave Shabet: I have to get back on reading it. I've seen a little past the part I left off at and it seems to be picking back up

Koltreg: I will probably wait a few years for it to build up as well.

What was the first webcomic that you ever read?

Dave Shabet: The very absolute first webcomic page I ever read was a page of Real Life Comics where techno-prankster Tony changed all the laptop marquis screen savers at a local Fry's to say "All Your Base Are Belong To Us"

Koltreg: And I'd take it that you don't read it anymore?

Dave Shabet: Not for a while, no.

Koltreg: What was the first one that you found that you still enjoy?

Dave Shabet: That's hard to say. After I first found out about webcomics at all I just kinda jumped on reading a whole bunch- at a point I had like 50 bookmarks. Nowadays I try to keep up with the ones I link to- that little linkbox is like my bookmarks, in addition to friends' twitters- but now that I'm making one I don't have the time to keep up that I used to.

Koltreg: What got you to start making Dead Winter?

Dave Shabet: After college I did some freelance work here and there and I didn't really care for the jerky nature of starting out in that business so I decided to build an art business for myself. And I was tired of drawing one-off poses and pictures so I decided to try stringing together a narrative to keep me drawing different stuff. The comic originally started as a sort of artistic laboratory and quickly grew into itself from there

Koltreg: What did you study in college?

Dave Shabet: Illustration. It was a watermedia and oil-heavy curriculum. Lots of classical painting and portraiture.

Koltreg: Your art definitely does have a very digitally painted feel to it and I like that. It is a lot more organic looking that just filling in with the paintbucket tool.

Dave Shabet: I don't use the paint bucket at all. It's probably a waste of time but I paint in all my flat tones with the brush, just to make sure it all gets under the black lines how I like.

Koltreg: You are coming out with a book collecting the first few chapters of your comic. Is there anything else that the book will have in it?

Dave Shabet: Yes. It'll have adjusted artwork from the old pages- anatomy and proportion stuff- in addition to a couple pages of additional concept art and sketches in the back

Koltreg: That sounds pretty awesome. I look forward to getting it.

What is one webcomic you think everybody should read that not enough people are?

Dave Shabet: HMMMMMmmm.... Heliothaumic ( ) is definitely an underrated comic. It is a wonderful comic about a world where magic meets science and the author puts a lot of thought into every little detail building the world.

Koltreg: You hear a moan outside the front door to your house and you look out. A swarm of the undead line the streets. Do you have an escape plan in case of zombies by which I mean the classic slow styled ones?

Dave Shabet: Yes. I have like three ways out of my apartment.

Koltreg: When I interviewed Jenny from The Zombie Hunters I felt silly for having a plan for escape when she did not.

Dave Shabet: Jenny's a good person, don't be pickin' on her or you'll need an escape plan... from me.

Koltreg: Oh she is.

Dave Shabet: (do you have one of those??)

Koltreg: Yes, yes I do.

Dave Shabet: You're a man of great forethought.

Koltreg: Indeed. "Never talk to somebody without picturing them dead." Somebody said that. I just did. I prequoted myself.

Any important things you'd like to say on the record about your comic, grudges against people or anything else like that?

Dave Shabet: Grudges against people are not something one should hold or foster, since they bring everybody down and no one wants that. As for my comic: I am happy people enjoy it.

Koltreg: Well I am glad to hear you are against beefs. I wish you luck with your webcomic and continued success in everything else.

Dave Shabet: Thank you kindly, sir.

Coming up this week, more Socialfist in the Making.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Link: Akira The Don's Guide to Death's Head

Akira the Don, musician mastermind and all around awesome person posted this comic on Death's Head on his website. He is also now working on a weekly comic, a weekly Ustream and a monthly mixtape. Give him some props!

Socialfist In The Making: Origin Harder

Because I need something to write about - I decided to take questions.

"Why make a Russian Super Friends?"

Short Answer: I am unoriginal.

Long Answer: I am a fan of team based superheroes. Having different characters running around with personalities clashing when well balanced has always been enough to get me to watch a show, it protects from characters getting stale. That is probably what caused me to make the Russian Super Friends. In fact I distinctly (not really) remember the conversation going like this:

Me: We need a comic idea.

Adam: Superheroes.

Me: Crappy superheroes.

Adam: Hmmmm.

Me: Communist crappy superheroes. Like the Superfriends or Xmen but crappy.

(Note: Conversation may have not happened like that at all, I did say crappy a lot then though.)

As a kid I really loved the Xmen, I had a Sega Genesis game and I loved the series that were on and I still do. Heck, I rewatched all of Xmen Evolution this month and I currently have the 90's series on my Netflix list. The variety of powers and personalities always seemed cool and more realistic (or at least more so than the Justice League). The characters were flawed, real and mutant. When the movies came out, they only rekindled my love (though re-watching them all as I did Friday, I must confess that I can't stand the third one anymore.) Of course, I never owned any comics of them or any other comics for that matter till I was 17 so that limits my knowledge to the shows, a DC Encyclopedia a friend had and Wikipedia which is probably for the better.

"What time period does Socialfist take place in?"

Socialfist takes place in an alternate 00's, somewhere around 2001 or so though the beginning scene takes place in what is about 15 years earlier.

"Are heroes known or are they kept as national secrets?"

Socialfist will focus on two opposing groups - Socialfist who are the Russian insurgent superheroes who are meant to inspire a return to communism and The American Justice Squad who represent the Americans. Socialfist is not an official government group or even one that needs protection since most of the members don't officially exist so to speak. The American Justice Squad on the other hand are to put it lightly - above the law. Due to political powers held by members of the squad, laws have been passed to protect their identities so that not even members of the American Justice Squad know who each other are. At least in theory.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Socialfist In The Making: Yuri Part 2

Fresh off the color additions!
The current description of Yuri in my Encyclopedia has:

Yuri - Genetically made superman. Blindly follows orders and has several problems when people question what he knows to be true. He really only follows the party because he grew up following them and does not truly understand communism, the economy or leadership. Enjoys wearing military-esqe outfit and the fact that he is trusted with leadership. Tends to abuse leadership abilities. He is currently 30/16 (mentally). He is able to levitate up to 800 lbs (including himself), shoot lasers from his eyes, is super strong (800 lbs) and some other stuff probably. Costume is too big for him.

The idea is rough with enough room where I can insert background ideas and nothing really pins me down. It also helps to establish personality and characteristics. I personally love the sheriff badge on him. The look of mixed confusion and ire with the soldier-esqe pose also makes it work. The outfit follows the military ideal though there is the problem that he is not a military member. He literally works for people who have no authority and he has little authority himself.

Also the Entry is pretty mixed up and random. When I work on the official Wiki for the comic in a few months I can easily use this fact sheet.

Artist is Remus B.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

In Memorium of Lent 09

Last year I tried to post a comic a day with three other people for Lent (the Christian pre-Easter thing). The other two guys quit after a few days. I got pretty close only missing 14 days or so - losing my scanner and coming home killed it for me. Most of the stuff was rushed but it might be interesting.
I wont be continuing this year though - I am giving up soda instead. I will be continuing work on Socialfist right now though and it is awesome.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Socialfist In The Making: Yuri Part 1

Yuri was the simpler character to design, at least at the beginning. At that time the team was all somewhat based off of famous superheroes in the Justice League (which still had a show at the time). Yuri was the Russian Superman. Literally when originally discussing designs with Adam, the first artist, the description was "Superman with a Russian hat." I suggested a beard and a pipe. The pipe would talk to Yuri in times of trouble. Adam suggested furry boots and big shiny teeth. In short: we had no idea how to design the character (or any character for that matter). I kept the design description for the short term artists (i.e. the people who never really did anything). Finally when it came to Iori, I had a plan.I sent Iori the following description:

"Yuri/Kaptain Kremlin - The leader of the group created in a government experiment. Tons of powers. He's essentially the generic superhero built like Superman, red, yellow and black tights with the hammer and sickle. Large beard."

My amount of character design progress and thought was amazing! All that thought about personality. The way I went into the background. You could tell I really thought about the character. Like I could tell his backstory in a second at the drop of a hat and... yeah. Still no idea what I was doing. Iori did a very good job creating the following design . I liked the design at the time, partially because I did not have to give thought to it. (Tangential thought: I would not mind a coffee mug with a picture on him. Thanks Photobucket!) The design was done and I started putting him in wacky situations and . . . actually I didn't. The first version of Socialfist spent a good portion of the time leading up to Robo Stalin before switching to a battle without him (and then forgetting about him). That was one of the reasons I restarted.

I ended up actually writing a bit more about the character the second time around. I never sent the description to Iori though and it was probably good since it added very little. The second description was :

Kaptain Kremlin - Russian super hero created by Sergei Notskalm. Not much else is known.

Known Powers: Flying, Super Strength, Laser Vision, Indestructability.

Real Name: Yuri 23

The second version started with Yuri being the stereotypical psychologist while yet being an idiot. The design didn't fit the idea. Besides the hat, beard and the color scheme Yuri could have been used for any basic superhero. To be honest I was pretty unsure of what to do. I did receive an additional headshot of Yuri for the site though.

When it finally came around to redesigning characters for the current version of the comic, I had a plan. I was going to figure out characters beforehand. I did this actually and the new Yuri design is pretty awesome though I am currently waiting for a color version. When that comes, I will post it separately with the colored photo and the revisions there.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Socialfist In The Making: The History

Way way back three years ago the world of the Internet was very different at least for me. For one, I read some horrible webcomics that I don't care to name. Fanboys also updated regularly. Kate Beaton was not getting discussed in newpapers. I didn't have the blog. I also was pretty naive about the Internet and the cultures that existed inside of it. I still am pretty naive to be honest but I understand enough to function inside of it.

I had recently moved towns across Ohio and was studying graphic design. I made friends with another student and we started making comics for a website called Sketchbattle. After two comics we stopped because I wrote really long scripts and they were not all that funny. When VG Cats had its holiday comic contest, we went and made a comic more complicated than it needed to be - we actually drew everything out when all we needed to do use clip art. We didn't place to our knowledge since Mr. Rasoomair never discussed winners besides the first place which was disappointing.

The contest rekindled and refocused the ideas we had. We'd not go ahead and simply write comics insulting people. We'd not make a video game strip. We would make a comic unlike anything we were aware of. A comic to take the webcomic world by storm.

The plan was to create a sort of parody X-men team. We decided to make the team Russian and to give all of the heroes horrible superpowers or ones that seemed stupid. We called the team Super Feudal Communist Russia Team Squad Now!. To be honest, the title was "somewhat" similiar to another cartoon show we were unaware of at the time called Super Robot Monkey Team Hyper Force Go!. In our defense though, the comic was on ABC Family. We liked the title and I came up with a list of Russian names with superpowers to go with them. The list included the following now-abandoned characters:

Robot-Stalin - Stalin's head on a robot body!

Aria - carries a cornucopia that summons snack food!

Konstiantinova - attacks with onomatopoeias turned into weapons!

Spera - able to smash beer cans!

Zach - able to turn 7up to club soda!


Pankrashka - able to barf acid from his butt! (That was actually what I wrote down.)

Needless to say many of the characters lack class and tact. It was going to be a series where the heroes would have a theme of the week. They would make jokes about Mongolia. The enemies would be characters like The Wiki, Super Hemophiliac and and Carbok the Destroyer. Adam drew an image of Robot Stalin and then stopped drawing the comic (

Since I had done the writing and concepts, I decided to continue with it and I went through a string of artists who did very little work as well. One quit after drawing two facial sketches and a few never kept up.

Eventually I asked a friend and trusted critic if he wanted to draw it and he blatantly told me he did not. He thought the idea was juvenile and it needed work. I was stunned and went to reconcept ideas. I went back and cut out heroes. I decided to plan out ideas. I decided to not write down my ideas at all. It was still a bit of progress.

At this time I finally reached college and posted offering money for illustration and I began the first revision of the comic. The artist, Iori Pic ( was ready to do work so I sent my character ideas and he did the character concepts. I was honestly not sure what I was doing. I didn't want to complain about his work because I figured he knew more about comics than I did. He probably didn't but I never complained. Even when he purposefully put in a character design as a joke. I literally had to be coaxed by him to complain. He started drawing the comics though and I finally had content. Then after 11 pages, I stopped.

I have a lot of confidence in my art. I liked what I wrote when I originally write it. The problem here was the fact that I didn't know if it was good. I eventually linked my dad who I trust. We have similar senses of humor. He had no idea what was going on in the comic. I went back through and all of the "really good ideas" I had were just being strung together. I sent Iori an email to stop production - I had a rewrite to do. This time I planned out chapters and arcs. I looked into symbolism. I tried to be more professional. After 11 pages (done over several months) he was forced to quit due to work obligations.

I decided to revamp more. New character designs. New personalities. I was going for an epic restart. The work was hard and finding an artist was tedious. I finally have one though to consort with. I have a co-writer who will disagree with me. I also have a title now.

Socialfist is going to be amazing because of my failures, because I have matured and because it is a strong idea.

Over the next few weeks I will introduce characters, character designs at various stages and some of the ideas all while getting stories done and progressing more and more in the comic design.

Hopefully the next blog updates will be more frequent, I ended up watching all of Xmen Evolution on Hulu, all 52 episodes in about 24 hours. I think I have "earned" a rest.