La Ciudad Kickstarter and Caustic Soda Production Update

25 Oct

I recently learned that one of my mentors, David Riker, who made a big impression on me when I attended the NYFA program, has recently launched a Kickstarter to support a remastering of his brilliant film, La Ciudad.

Riker taught me about guerilla filmmaking, DIY art and how to work collaboratively.

He worked with Alex Rivera on the sci-fi film, Sleep Dealer, a film about jacked-in migrant humans robo-laboring north of a massive border wall in a dystopic future. Influential in context to the world of Caustic Soda, to be sure.

Riker also co-wrote the Jeremy Scahill film, Dirty Wars, a documentary (on Netflix) that examines the role of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

I remember when I saw La Ciudad and thinking about the possibilities of narrative storytelling and how it functions as a conduit to new possibilities.

About La Ciudad: “La Ciudad tells four stories about the lives of newly uprooted Latin American immigrants in New York City: a group of day laborers hired to clean bricks find themselves abandoned when tragedy strikes; a young man newly arrived from Mexico falls in love with a girl from his home village, only to lose her in the new and alien urban wilderness; a puppeteer, living with his daughter in a station wagon, dreams that she’ll one day learn to read; and a seamstress, desperate to send money home to her sick daughter, is forced to finally confront the injustice in the sweatshop where she labors.”

CHECK IT OUT http://kck.st/1nz1tvY

CAUSTIC SODA PRODUCTION UPDATE

Dan is deep into illustrating issue 2 but the going is slow. I’ve hired two associates to stand over his shoulder and menace him while he works but, obviously, that isn’t conducive to the creative process. Suffice to say he’s working his butt off.

Our plan is to have Issue 2 complete sometime in December, hopefully in time for your virtual stocking.

Issue 3 will be ready by March (digital issues to follow) and we’re on track to have the complete book done and ready to ship by June 2015.

Artist Daniel Obzejta has provided the cover art for Issue 3 and it is ridiculously amazing. Check it out below.

Thanks for your continued support and patience. My gratitude to all of you is unwavering.

Caustic Soda cover test 2 small

Caustic Soda Issue 1 Available at Villainous Lair Comics in San Diego

20 Sep

IMG_6630The limited run, mag-sized version of issue 1, Caustic Soda is now available at Villainous Lair Comics in Normal Heights. Drop by and pick up a copy and support your local comic book shop!

www.villainouslair.com

3220 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116
(619) 281-1600

The Auteur: LIKE A BAKED-OUT BOOGIE DOWN THE (FLUORESCENT) YELLOW BRICK ROAD, STREAKED WITH BLOOD, SWEAT, AND LESS APPROPRIATE BODILY FLUIDS

28 Aug AUTEUR-1-PGS-2-3

AUTEUR-1-PGS-2-3Have you ever taken a chance with a new comic series—one devoid of any hype, one where you were previously unfamiliar with the creators—and instantly felt a disturbing connection with the mad minds behind the creation, as if they might be your long lost brethren birthed from the bowels of a humorous hell? Upon immersion into the first issue of The Auteur, released by Oni Press, I believe I have discovered some sickening soul mates in the forms of Rick Spears and James Callahan.

     The Auteur is an absurd dark comedy mixed with psychedelic horror, set within a desperate story of love, lust, and the quest for artistic perfection at any cost. The main plot thread follows the (mis)adventures of—er—“acclaimed” director Nathan T. Rex on his quest for the perfect film that will breathe new life into his crippled career. Much like Eli Roth ingeniously created the now-legendary Thanksgiving trailer wedged between the theatrical release of Planet Terror and Death Proof, the brilliantly infantile protagonist of The Auteur decides to plunder another holiday that was somehow never utilized for an 80s slasher film: President’s Day. T. Rex is easily one of the most detestable, yet still engaging lead characters I have encountered in recent years; despite loathing nearly every cockamamie choice he makes, I still find myself rooting for him.

     At times, the story reads like a premonition of an acid trip that never actually occurred because the trip turned out to be real life instead. Make sense? Exactly. Spears takes an “anything goes” approach to the plot, yet still attempts to ground it in some sort of pseudo-reality. He somehow succeeds at this near-impossible feat, and the results are enough to give the Tasmanian Devil a case of vertigo. Callahan must find some depraved joy in utilizing outrageous gore and twisting it into beautiful art, like a Saturday Morning Cartoon gone horribly wrong. He pushes the boundaries of “good taste,” choosing to not shy away from expressions of nudity, both the sublime and the grotesque (that’s right, discerning readers, this comic is definitely not for the kiddies). The creative team also makes some innovative panel choices that sometimes even aid in the storytelling—in the first issue alone there is an inside-of-mouth POV and a two page spread of a television plummeting to its doom from atop a tall building (while simultaneously telling us a lot about how T. Rex has ended up right where he is in the present). Even the “normal” panels give the impression of a well-executed cult film. Plot points include— but are not limited to—enlisting a behemoth of a serial killer as a consultant, a hilarious bastardization of the judicial system, disposing of casualties from the set, and an obsessive pursuit of a buxom woman who could have been an extra in a 70s Pam Grier flick (with the attitude to match). I also adore that each issue comes with a centerfold poster of each of T. Rex’s films…it’s a subversive move that pours salt into Hollywood’s wound and it just sucks me further into the mad world of The Auteur.

     Colorists rarely get much glory for their work in comics, certainly not as much as pencillers. Sad as it may be, the only other colorist I can name from memory is Laura Allred (also deserved of endless praise, but let’s leave that for another time), but Luigi Anderson is one who deserves major accolades for his work on this book. He attacks his rainbow world as if the images are negatives from a long lost Dario Argento film, where the colors nearly become a separate, yet crucial, character in the story. The combination of this rebellious abuse of the color spectrum with Callahan’s distinct art is pure eye candy for those of us who delighted in going to the newsstand to peruse the new issues of Gorezone and Fangoria at the tender age of 5 (oh, wait, that was probably just me). In black and white, The Auteur would still be a fantastic book worthy of much praise, but the coloring pushes it over the edge into surreal phenomenality.

     With the “Fin” at the end of issue number 5, I feared that arguably the coolest comic of the last few years was coming to a premature end. I was prepared to sit and pout in my room since I do not work for Oni Press and therefore I have no say in the matter, but an extreme emotional reaction is preferable to indifference, yes? I have since found out the positive scoop from Oni: The Auteur is still alive and well, with more wild tales to come in the second story arc. Sometimes the world is a kind and just place.

     However, sometimes the world is cruel and cold. In a perfect universe, The Auteur would be outselling any men-in-spandex comic on the shelves, and fanatical fiends would be clamoring for the latest issue at their local shop, only to be disappointed that the large order has already sold out. But they’d find it eventually, hidden away in the back issue section of some shop off the beaten path. And it would be well worth the search.

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Chad Stroup received his MFA in Fiction from San Diego State University. His work has recently been featured in the Grey Mater Press anthology Splatterlands, and the inaugural Horror Writers Association Poetry Showcase. His blog, Subvertbia, is a showcase of some of his short fiction and poetry. http://subvertbia.blogspot.com/. https://www.facebook.com/ChadStroupWriter.

 

Denver Comic Con 2014

13 Jun

Caustic Soda Issue 1 will make it’s “Con” debut this weekend during Denver Comic Con. The books illustrator, Dan Crosier and writer Shane Roeschlein will be at Booth 933.

We’ll have prints of the mag-sized, limited run, Caustic Soda – A Year Future Narco Romance Issue 1. This is part 1 in a three part series titled, Hello, the War is Here and will be collected into a 72-page graphic novel, set for release in 2015. The issue features (pictured below) a skate-punk themed cover by artist Joe Triscari of Moonlight Speed.

If you are at DCC this weekend, stop by booth 933 and say hello. We’d love to meet you. We’ll have copies of Caustic Soda issue 1 available along with prints of the limited run, Caustic Soda t shirt.

Or if you can’t make it into the city for DCC, join us Saturday, June 14 at 3 Kings Tavern for a launch party with bands, Blackaciddevil, Throttlebomb and a performance by Show Devils featuring Enigma and Serana Rose.

causticsoda_JUNE14flier

Caustic Soda: Hello the War is Here 1 of 3

7 May

Happy New Comic Book Day!

Late last month, Dan Crosier finished the illustrations through page twenty-four, completing the first issue. Issue one of our three-issue book was then sent to Patrick Brosseau for lettering. I worked with our layout guru and hops-connoisseur, Muana Fanai on layout and print prep. The variant cover by Joe Triscari worked incredibly well, check it out:

CS_Issue_1_cvr_web

Issue 1 will be available in extremely limited quantities and for sale at Denver Comic Con http://denvercomiccon.com/ (June 13-15) and also at the Caustic Soda/Show Devils launch party at Three Kings Tavern, Sat. June 14 (more info on that soon), online at the CS Shop and at San Diego Comic Con.

You can purchase a copy in the CS Store, COMING SOON.

Below you will find a link to a Spotify playlist that captures the scope of Part 1 in sound. Songs by The Stooges, Joy Division, Talking Heads, Wire, Max Richter, Wu Tang, MC5, Baby Huey and more have been part of my ongoing, working soundtrack and inspiration for Caustic Soda.

Rafael Grampá’s “Mesmo Delivery” – A Transportative Debut

12 Feb

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Experiencing the graphic novel, Mesmo Delivery, is a physical challenge on par with a bar fight. You don’t exactly know what to expect. You get hit from all angles and you swing blindly hoping to slam into something concrete that will at least help you collect your bearings again. You can smell the blood. You can smell the bodies. Every time you turn the page you encounter an assault on the senses unlike any other you have experienced before in a comic. And when you finish reading it, you walk away with pride knowing you stood your ground and persevered. You leave the experience with the comic tucked in your arms like some trophy dame that recognized you as the last one standing. You leave exhausted and battered and you rush to find someone else to throw into the rumble.

Mesmo Delivery, by Rafael Grampa and Marcus Penna drags you into the story involving Rufo, an as-big-as-a-semi-truck ex-boxer, and Sangrecco, an Elvis impersonator that is as dirty and greasy as his glistening sideburns. We are introduced to the two characters and the basic plot that they are transporting an 18-wheeler of unknown contents to an anonymous client. And therein lies the beauty of this book, its seeming simplicity. The major conflict of the story is fairly predictable; tough guy walks into a bar full of tough guys and fights break out. But, the story combined with the jaw-dropping (and/or shattering) art by Grampa makes it very clear you’re experiencing something that is far from plain.

Mesmo Delivery is the full-length comic debut from Rafael Grampa and he storms onto the scene like a wide-shouldered trucker in a rest stop urinal. The art is unlike anything you have seen prior to the comic. Everything is grainy, dirty, and you will be shocked your fingers aren’t covered in grime from holding the book with such focus. In lieu of trying to find the proper words to describe Grampa’s artistic style, here is a page for your enjoyment:

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Fine detail seems to be a specialty for Rafael Gramps as you can clearly see in the reflection of the shifter knob, the wrinkles in the clothing, the grains on the hands, etc. Grampa also displays a keen ability to play with choreography on the page. For example, on page 28 when Rufo takes a boot to the noggin’ he releases the understandable, “mmmmf”, but Grampa details the dialogue bubble almost like a snake slithering out from his mouth and curling up the page. Grampa does this often in the comic where you will see something normal being done drastically different and it takes you by surprise.

Mesmo Delivery became my “go to” comic for any friends who said they are, or want to be more immersed in graphic narrative. The story is engaging with a clever twist at the end.

Sacrifice your body, take the beating, read Mesmo Delivery.

By Randall Lahrman

http://litconic.com -Literature Journal. Contributing Editor

Pick up a copy at your local comic store or order direct from Amazon.

Randall Lahrman resides in San Diego where he is completing his MFA in Fiction at San Diego State University. He spends his free time with his beautiful wife, Cayse, and his daughter, Genesee. He frequents the local comic shop every Wednesday in search for the latest adventures from The Batman, The Goon, Deadpool, Wolverine and many others.

Patrick Brosseau Joins Caustic Soda Production Team

28 Jan

We’d like to formerly introduce and welcome veteran comic letterer, Patrick Brosseau to the Caustic Soda team. Patrick Brosseau–pronounced “Brah-sew”–likes beer, doesn’t wear pants and will be lending his considerable talents and expertise to our book. Pat was a senior letterer at DC and has an impressive resume of work including Wolverine, Aliens vs Predator, Hellboy, Batman & Robin and Doom Patrol, to name a few. You can check out his portfolio at http://www.coroflot.com/droog811

We’ve been waiting to share this news (and shared it with our Kickstarter backers late last year) and are proud to have him aboard.

Meanwhile, in between launching Distortions Unlimited 2, Horrorhouse Fest and Mile High Horror Film Fest, Dan is cranking out pages weekly and the book is shaping up nicely.

Below is a preview of one of Pat’s lettered pages.

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