…but most of all, I’d like to thank the Lord of Darkness.

Artwork © Mark Masztal

Late last year I interviewed Glenn Danzig.  Yes, THE Glenn Danzig.  THE punk rock legend.  THE metal god.  THE comic publisher.  And the latter is exactly what we talked about.  We talked about comics.  His comics, and other people’s comics.

I’ll admit, he was a bit intimidating at first.  But once we got rolling, he really seemed to enjoy talking about words and pictures, and really seemed to be in his comfort zone.  He has lots of opinions, and he’s not afraid to share them, and that’s exactly why it was so much fun to talk with him.

After the interview was completed, I’d posted on the Panel to Panel facebook page that I was looking for a Danzig fan who could draw, because I needed an image to go alongside the interview.  Well I received a couple of responses, but among those responses was one which would end up making a much bigger impact on P2P than I could have ever initially imagined.  A gentleman by the name of Mark Masztal responded, and mentioned that he would love to come up with an image.  Now I knew Mark by way of mutual friends, and I was familiar with his small-press work in the mid 1990’s, and I’d even met him back in ’95 when he’d attended the Alternative Comics Expo (ACE) which was part of the Spirits of Independence Tour stop, which I’d helped organize.  So all that said, I told him what it was I was looking for, and waited patiently for the results.  Well the result was the image you see above, at the beginning of this post, and I was blown away!!

Now why was Mark’s response more important than I’d ever imagined?  Well, after he and inker Bill Anderson completed the Danzig image, Mark kindly offered his services in the way of lay out and design for P2P.  Now this all happened right as I was realizing that any plans I’d already had for a designer were disappearing quickly.  So I told Mark that I would love a little help, and any contribution would be appreciated.  Well that little turned into a lot, and his contribution to the look and feel to Panel to Panel has been astronomical!  Without Mark, there would be no Panel to Panel, and in the end I guess I have Glenn Danzig to thank for that.  Just another example of “everything happens for a reason”; which is quickly becoming Panel to Panel‘s mantra.

So enjoy a sneak preview of my conversation with Glenn.  And enjoy the sneak preview of Mark Masztal’s fabulous image for the article.  (If you think this is cool, wait until you see the inked and colored version!)

John Rovnak: Comics have a long history of struggling to be taken seriously and fighting for notoriety and acceptance.  Many people nowadays would say that with all the huge Hollywood blockbusters based on comics, and comics having cracked the book market, that comics now have achieved in a lot of ways what’s it’s been fighting for.  I disagree. I see comics becoming more of a “gateway drug” to Hollywood; a vehicle that exists solely to sell concepts to film producers, and the original comic gets pushed aside. What are your thoughts about this?

Glenn Danzig: I know that there are comics that are only put together to attract a movie or TV or video game deal.  Obviously that’s the wrong reason to do a comic.  But from a businessperson’s standpoint, it’s the right reason.  A lot of these companies, at the end of the day, are businesses.  So somebody like Paramount or 20th Century Fox, they don’t care about comics, they care about making money.  If that studio doesn’t make money, everybody is out on the street and everybody is fired.  The doors shut…  They have a bottom line that they have to think about, so I can’t fault them for that.  But on the same token, that’s not what Verotik does.  It is what it is, man.  You choose your bed, and then you gotta lie in it.  If nobody takes you seriously, then it’s your own fault.  Nobody else’s…

Cover Story

See that beautiful image in the top, right corner of this blog?  That’s the cover of the upcoming book created by the multi-talented Mark Martin.  You may know Mark’s work best from Gnatrat, 20 Nude Dancers 20, Montgomery Wart, Teeny Weeny, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and so much more.  Well Mark’s been a busy guy lately…  Besides his amazing work on Panel to Panel, which other than this cover also includes a five page (full color) Buddy Cops story entitled, Robocop and Dodocop, Mark will be bringing back his fan-favorite creation Gnatrat in Gnatrat Lives! Now as I write this, there are only four hours remaining on Mark’s Kickstarter.com pledge drive, which is set up to help fund Gnatrat’s glorious return to the printed page.  I’m happy to report that Mark has met and exceeded his goal, and thanks to all the generous supporters, Gnatrat WILL live again!

So since we’re on the subject of Mark Martin, let’s take a closer look at his work on the cover to Panel to Panel.  Mark has been with Panel to Panel.Net since the very beginning.  He’s assisted me in creating the original look for the online store.  He’s had a regular online feature on the site itself called, EVERYTHING!, which in it’s first incarnation was a visual bibliography of all of his various works in comics; then in it’s second incarnation became a gallery of his “Martinized” interpretations  of famous characters and celebrities of pop culture.  (Some of which can be viewed HERE) And he’s also partnered up with P2P to create Runaway Comics #2.1, which was an exclusive mini comic available only to folks who purchased copies of his Fantagraphics series, Runaway Comics on Panel to Panel.  Needless to say, I LOVE MARK MARTIN!!  He’s always been so kind and so generous when it’s come to Panel to Panel, and I’m really proud to have his work be on the cover of this first book.

So enjoy these images that tell the story behind the cover.  Take a peek into Mark’s brain, and see how really ticks.  You won’t be sorry…

All artwork © Mark Martin

More Kev Kovers

Wolverine © Marvel Comics Artwork © Kevin Eastman
Wolverine © Marvel Comics Artwork © Kevin Eastman

Here are some more images of the “Blank Variant” covers created by, TMNT co-creator, Kevin Eastman.

On the left, we have the “concept doodle”, and on the right, we have the finished product.

Thanks again to Kevin for taking time from his busy schedule to make these happen.  But Kevin wasn’t the only friend of Panel to Panel to complete a blank variant cover.  Stay tuned for more great, one-of-a-kind interpretations of Marvel characters done to help support Panel to Panel.

X-Force and Psylocke © Marvel Comics Artwork © Kevin Eastman
X-Force and Psylocke © Marvel Comics Artwork © Kevin Eastman

Murphy Sings the Blues

Here’s another short excerpt from Panel to Panel, this time from my interview with Steve Murphy.  The article is entitled, Steve Murphy Comes Out Of His Shell, and covers a little bit of everything, from the Puma Blues to the Turtles to V-Mag to Umbra and beyond.  Enjoy.

John Rovnak: The Puma Blues went through its share of ups and downs, including the well-documented battle between Dave Sim and Diamond Comics, which you were caught in the middle of.  It seemed to be a battle well fought.  The book’s writing and art seemed stronger than ever, the Creator’s Bill of Rights (which you and Zulli played an integral part in) came out of this mess with Diamond, and overall seemed like a great “David vs. Goliath” story.  Why after such an upward battle to keep the book alive and well, did The Puma Blues end so abruptly soon after?

Steve Murphy: I’ve voiced various answers to that question over the years but now I think I finally know the real reason: Puma was too autobiographical for me to continue. You see, when I started writing it, I was living the life of a somewhat pathetic loner. It was easy to get into the mind of Puma’s main character, Gavia Immer, because we were the same being (Gavia Immer, by the way, is Latin for the common Loon; oh so clever). After becoming a “studio mate” at Mirage, I started to change; becoming more outgoing and confident, thanks, primarily, to my roommate and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) collaborator at the time, the very talented and often overlooked Ryan Brown. Simply put, it became harder and harder for me to both be and write Gavia. Finally, I just couldn’t do it anymore. Strange as it sounds, at this point in my life I think that I could. One of the pluses to being old: emotional distance, professionalism.

A Big Thanks!

Spider-Man © Marvel Comics Artwork © Kevin Eastman

I’d like to send a HUGE thanks out to Kevin Eastman!  Kevin was kind enough to create five illustrations on some “blank variant” covers from Marvel Comics, and allow me to auction them off in hopes of raising some cash to help cut a few productions costs for the book.  Not only did Kevin complete these amazing covers, but he also included his “concept doodles” which he’d sketched out on some backing boards.  These books, minus one, have all found happy homes via eBay, and I can not thank Kevin enough.

Spider-Man © Marvel Comics Artwork © Kevin Eastman

It’s a real treat for me to have had Kevin be involved, not only because I’m a fan of his work, but also because in a lot of ways he was one of the original inspirations for this book.  Did you know that the Panel to Panel book, in it’s original incarnation, was to include an all-new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles story illustrated by Kevin?  It’s true!  But circumstances beyond our control had put a stop to that concept moving forward.  A story for another post, perhaps

Angel © Marvel Comics Artwork © Kevin Eastman

For now, please enjoy these images of Kevin’s “concept doodles” and completed covers.  I plan on posting more in the near future…

X-Men and Angel © Marvel Comics, Artwork © Kevin Eastman

A Bit of Magic.

Here’s a short excerpt, one question actually, from Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe’s interview with Alan Moore.  The article is entitled, The Magical Adventures of an Extraordinary Gentlemen; and you’ll be able to read the interview in its entirety in a few short weeks.  Enjoy.

photo © Mitch Jenkins

Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe: Someone sharing the same spirituality and mysticism as you is Alejandro Jodorowsky, were you at all influenced by him?

Alan Moore: Jodorowsky was somebody who I had heard of when I was younger, but I’m ashamed to say that while cinema is an interest of mine, it is not one of my greatest. In fact, I hadn’t actually seen Jodorowsky’s work until relatively recently. I’d heard of it and I respected it by reputation, but having discovered Jodorowsky, I think that he is wonderful. I think that his film work is tremendous, and I even very much enjoyed an article that he did that was reprinted in Arthur Magazine that was talking about how he had gone to Mexico and had met Leonora Carrington, the former wife of Max Ernst and the last of the Surrealists. She is still alive, living in Mexico, and she’s the last of the original Surrealists and she is probably one of the best as well. Jodorowsky wrote a wonderful piece about her. Yes, I believe, it’s safe to say we know each other’s work. A friend of mine, who is a film director actually met Jodorowsky and had mentioned my name and Jodorowsky had given a thumbs-up sign. To which I would give at least two thumbs up to Jodorowsky. He’s a remarkable artist and a remarkable human being.

Crystal Sigil

artwork © Charles Glaubitz

I’m extremely happy to announce a new addition to the Panel to Panel line-up.  The Panel to Panel publication will now include a complete 35 page graphic novel, which now brings the total page count for this project up to nearly 300 pages!

Crystal Sigil by Charles Glaubitz is one of the wildest, most beautiful comics I’ve seen in recent memory; and I’m really excited that it will be part of this project.  Charles was introduced to me by a mutual friend about a year ago, and after my first viewing of Crystal Sigil, I knew I wanted to help any way that I could to expose this extremely unique story to a wider audience.  Finally after lots of editing, planning and number crunching, I feel confident enough that Panel to Panel is the perfect format to premier Charles’ work.

Adding this very large piece to the P2P puzzle has added a bit more time on the production end of things, but I know it’ll be worth it!

artwork © Charles Glaubitz

Evolve or Die!

Welcome to the next step, in a long line of steps, for Panel to Panel.  Gone are the pages and pages of products and product descriptions.  Gone are the discounts and the shopping carts and the checkouts.  Welcome to what I like to think of as the new and improved Panel to Panel.

So why all the changes?  What now?  Well those are complicated questions, with complicated answers.  But the short and sweet answer is, change is good.  When Panel to Panel first opened it’s virtual doors on the worldwide web, comics were a very different market.  It wasn’t that long ago that traditional bookstores didn’t have large sections devoted to graphic novels and manga.  But now we live in a world where you can easily find comics and graphic novels almost anywhere.  And with the major online retailers offering deeper discounts than many comic retailers receive from their own wholesalers, competition is fierce.  So while Panel to Panel made a good long run at competing, offering things the others couldn’t such as excellent customer service and exclusive items, keeping up had become too exhausting.

But I’d learned a couple things along the way.  I’d learned that the line of exclusive signed bookplates that Panel to Panel created and offered were, for the most part, a hit.  The fans and readers really seemed to appreciate the time and energy that went into them, and I really enjoyed coordinating and executing them.  This spoke volumes to me.  I had created an item with the Panel to Panel name, and customers both reacted and responded to it.  Creators were excited to be part of them, and they sold books!  But all my passion, all my time and energy was going into these bookplates.  I had a website to run, and a store to manage, and I was just one person; how could I possibly do it all?  Well I decided I couldn’t.  I decided this shortly after a customer had emailed me and suggested that I compile all the bookplate images into one single book or calendar.  What a cool idea, I thought.  But then I started to think, how could I make it cooler?  Maybe I’d collect all of the interviews and reviews that were posted on Panel to Panel too.  Before I knew it, I was dreaming up another project, another venture.  But how in the world would I manage this while still trying to keep the retail end of Panel to Panel afloat?  (Did I mention the fact that I have a day job, a wife and two children which come first?)  Well something had to give.  And since selling comics at prices that weren’t competitive, to an audience that would rather buy from their local shop than to buy online wasn’t working out, Panel to Panel as an e-commerce site would have to end.

But what about that book idea?  Could something like this really work?  I did have a lot of great images, and a lot of great word of mouth building.  Panel to Panel may not be cheaper than amazon or Barnes & Noble, but it’s name and reputation were good.  Panel to Panel could release a book of collected images, interviews and reviews, and it would sell.  But would that be it?  Just some rehashed text and images from the website?  It needed something else…

Well needless to say it got something else.  And for the last year, myself and a small group of other like-minded comic readers, have been hard at work on assembling and creating something we are all very proud of.  So to finally answer the questions posed at the beginning of this rant, So why all the changes?  What now? This book is why, and this book is what.  Panel to Panel.Net now exists to help spread the word and promote Panel to Panel (the book).

I’ll be using this blog to discuss the evolution of the project, give some behind the scenes accounts, and share previews and outtakes.  It’ll also serve as your source to purchase the book (more details to follow, of course).  Before I end this first entry, let me first say a huge thanks to all of you who did support and shop at Panel to Panel over the years, and thanks in advance for supporting this new venture.

In closing I leave you with this, a listing of the books contents and credits:

Edited by John Rovnak

Featuring New Interviews With…

*MARK BODE: A 21st Century Renaissance Man by John Rovnak.

*GLENN DANZIG: Damn, It’s Danzig by John Rovnak.

*JIMMY GOWNLEY: Normal Guy to the Naked Eye by Rachael M Rollson.

*ALAN MOORE: The Magical Adventures of an Extraordinary Gentlemen by Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe.

*STEVE MURPHY: Comes Out of his Shell by John Rovnak.

*DAVE SIM: The General in His Labyrinth by Jon Mathewson.

*JIM WOODRING: A Touch of Madness by Daniel Barlow.

*BY JINGO: A Personal Meditation on the Comics of Jack Kirby by Rob Walton.

*MARVEL 14: The Incredible History of France’s Censorship of Marvel Comics by Jean–Emmanuel Deluxe.

*KEEP YOUR PANTS ON! The Rock Art of James Kochalka.

*BUDDY COPS in Full-Color by Mark Martin.

*BEAT PANELS: OR; IS THERE MONEY IN POETRY COMICS? by Stephen R. Bissette featuring the graphic poetry of Peter Money and Rick Veitch.

*ORGANIZING COMICS: How Comics Created a Community in Rural New England by Daniel Barlow.

*EUROPE’S KRIMINAL HISTORY: featuring MR. KRIME by Mort Todd with Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe.

*EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN: Re-Imagined Interpretations of Forgotten Characters of the Public Domain.

*MY SKETCHY SUMMER, or 5 Days Hard Labor at the Center For Cartoon Studies by Philip Charles Crawford.

*CLOVER FIELDS ON FIRE: The Intellectual Architecture of Robert Crumb and the Tyranny of the Masses by Experience Kring.

*Organic Comix presents JIM SIMON’S SHIELDMASTER.

*DEFT MASTERY: The Genius of Early 1960’s Archie Comics by Philip Charles Crawford, featuring Teenage Wildlife: an interview with Craig Yoe by John Rovnak.

*MEET JOE PRIEST: A Personal Reflection on Where Faith and Comics Meet by Fr. Chris Kulig, O.Carm.

*An archive of past interviews, from paneltopanel.net, featuring DAVID MACK, LARRY MARDER, LARRY HAMA, JAIME HERNANDEZ, JAMES STURM and STAN SAKAI.

* and more….