The Writer's, artist's & reader's Guild

Archive for September, 2014

Squarespace

Changes are being made here at The Guild, I (C. Marry Hultman) have decided to move my fiction writing to another site. This in order to separate my fiction with the other work that is done here. This site will now be used exclusively to promote popular culture the way we have with editorials, interviews, reviews and highlights. We will also add texts from other authors like we have been doing and The Guild is still supposed to work as a gathering place for aspiring artists of all kinds. I will still post every time a new story or a new chapter is written and put up on my personal site.

So surf to https://christopher-marryhultman.squarespace.com/ and check things out there.

 

C.M. Marry Hultman

C.M. Marry Hultman

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Review: Gotham Premier

Gotham-TV-Show-Fox-Logo

Genre:  Crime

Network: Fox

Cast: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, Jada Pinkett Smith, Erin Richards et al.

It is no big surprise that Gotham has been one of the most highly anticipated shows for the coming fall. From the Casual Dark Knight fan to the most fanatic DC follower, the internet has blown up with discussions and speculations. With the success of Arrow and the coming of The Flash some have had cause for rejoice, while those remembering the previous Flash series and Birds of Prey don’t know how to feel. It has been clear from the get go that Gotham is not a Batman story, but more focuses on Jim Gordon (McKenzie) and his first year in his new city. Like Arrow the first episode hints at several origin stories of some the biggest villains in the world of Batman as well as of things that might possibly come.

The first episode opens on the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, a scene most Batman fans are well acquainted with, there is one slight difference though, that the robber kills the couple on purpose. This of course sets the stage for a storyline that will carry on throughout the series, as the investigation continues to stay open at the end of the episode, at least in Gordon’s mind. The story of an assassin of the Waynes may seem novel to some, but has already been explored by Andrew Vachss in his book Batman: The Ultimate Evil from 1995.

The storyline of Gotham and the events that occur in the premier episode are all well and good. Most of it feels like it fits in the DC universe as well as certain characters and their traits. The big issue is the use of the Batman cast of characters. We see Oswald Cobbelpot (The Penguin), Edward Nigma (The Riddler) and Ivy (supposedly Poison Ivy) in various roles that clash with their comic book version. Nigma for instance works with the police as a crime scene investigator, which deviates from the fact that he doesn’t appear in Gotham until after Batman has been created. Poison Ivy is in reality named Pamela Isley and not Ivy which also clashes with the comic book version. These are things that may seem trivial to the casual fan, but the figures are undoubtedly added to the series as Easter eggs for fans. One would think that if these things were added for the fans’ sake then they should at least be accurate so as not to offend easily upset fanboys.

That being said Gotham might prove to be a hit yet. There is an interesting story behind it and there is a lot to pick and choose from. The real downside to the show is the acting. Ben McKenzie is way too wooden in his performance and his dialogue is delivered with little to no conviction. The same goes for Donal Logue, Harvey Bullock in the show, who drops the ball on the brutish character and is unconvincing as the larger than life crooked detective. Jada Pinkett Smith also leaves more to be wished for with a performance that is no more than one dimensional. Hopefully these actors can grow with the role, but as a starting point this is not acceptable for a show of this caliber.

As of the first episode one may very well feel as if Gotham has not lived up to the hype and if there is something a show needs it is to hit the ground running. Maybe they can pick up speed and momentum in the coming episodes.

 

C.M. Marry Hultman

C.M. Marry Hultman

 

 

 

 


Review: Z Nation Premier

znation

Genre: Horror (Zombie)

Network: SyFy

Cast: Tom Everett Scott, DJ Qualls, Pisay Pao

It is easy to go into Z nation with critical eyes. Firstly, it is produced by The SyFy channel and secondly the actors in it are either unknown or have been away from the limelight for some time. These two things might not be enough to deter an avid zombie fan it may do so for the average viewer who has been burned more than once by the poor production and acting ability. That being said, SyFy has been able to score hits all these things considered, like Warehouse 13 or Defiance, both benefiting from good storytelling. Those shows live in their own realm of possibility and therefore can get away with not being quite accurate, a zombie show does not have that luxury, its setting and style demands believability to be scary.

Z nation is set three years after a zombie break out has caused civilization to collapse, which might seem quite a slow process. At a military base a doctor is experimenting on prisoners to find an antidote for the zombie virus. Before they are overrun they are successful, but one soldier (Harold Perrineau) and the immune inmate (Keith Allen) escape and head for California to take advantage of the antibodies. On their way they come in contact with an army reserves’ camp, lead by Tom Everett Scott, and enlist their aide. The plot in itself is pretty standard for any apocalyptic series and there are hardly any surprises. There are some good points in the show’s back story that might surface later, but for the most part the dialogue is quite standard and contrite. It even has an archetypical radio jockey (DJ Qualls) calling himself Citizen Z who most likely will be commenting throughout the show, not very unique either. Qualls, whose character is also a soldier does not seem to have the physique to pass boot camp.

When it comes to the production of Z nation it is actually better than most SyFy shows, mostly due to the fact that they use inventive camera angles and quick clips, probably in order to hide any bad quality effects. The zombies themselves look well made and scary enough, though they seem to have more in common with the infected in 28 Days Later than walkers from Walking Dead. It also tries to out gore the latter with blood and chunks blowing off of heads.

The real downside here though are the giant holes that fill the narrative. Certain things are not explained and several completely illogical things occur without reason, as well as people jumping from one room to another without walking there.

All in all Z nation might not meet the expectations of a truly terrible knock off show, but in some areas it comes close. This could just be the result of trying to put out something too quick and that it suffers from some early hiccups, it might just turn around, or it will keep it up and become a hilarious cult classic.


Not Complaining, Just Evolving – an interview with Ray ‘Chopper’ Cooper

ray_cooper_press2_bw

After a successful career in the folk group The Oysterband Ray Cooper, better known as Chopper, decided to venture out on his own as a solo act. Now on the eve of a new tour and with a second album in the back he spoke to us about touring, the new album and how important it is to embrace change within music.

When I call him up Ray ‘Chopper’ Cooper has just released his second album Palace of Tears and takes a break from packing and rehearsal for a tour that will keep him on the road until November.

‘I don’t like being away for more than a couple of weeks, so I come home for a bit. I’m going to Denmark, then eastern Germany and then to England’ he explains.

The tour comes to an end on the 16th of November in Brighton, where Cooper went to art collage and a place that holds a lot of memories for him.

‘They were my formative years and I lived in a succession of crappy flats over the course of four years’ he comments on the Brighton days.

Not from a particularly musical background Cooper’s early influence was mostly American music of the seventies and not purely folk as one might think.

Photo Chris Puddephat

Photo Chris Puddephat

‘I’ve always straddled both rock and folk and in the beginning I listened to a lot of artists and bands who meld folk and rock; like Neil Young, Johnny Cash and the British band Fairport Convention. The way folk has inspired those artists is how folk has worked for me as well.’

To Cooper folk has always been a source of really strong melodies and this may very well be why his new album Palace of Tears isn’t inherently folky as one might expect.

In the beginning of the eighties Cooper became one of the founding members of the band 3 Mustaphas 3, a world music cabaret band that played mostly in London, but was the reason for his first visit to Eastern Germany, a place he would return to several times and would influence his latest release.

‘It was a lot of fun’ Cooper says as he thinks back on those days. ‘It was formed in the beginning of the world music scene. I was there for the first two albums and after I left they became more jazzy and better. When you tackle folk music from another country you can do it very seriously or just have fun.’ Cooper is quick to say that 3 Mustaphas 3 did take the music seriously, but it was with the act itself they had fun.

After leaving the band, in 1986, he tried to do a solo project, but nothing came of it and he joined The Oysterband in 1988 as bassist and cello player. He moved to Sweden after meeting his wife and has been living there for the past fourteen years. In 2012 he announced that he was leaving the band and left after their Ragged Kingdom tour in 2013.

‘The main reason I went solo was to sing and do my own material’ he explains. ‘When you’re the singer in a band you’re already there as a singer in a band, to be a singer I had to leave the Oysterband. I was happy to be a band member for two decades, but when I released my first album I realized it could work and that I needed a new kind of challenge. I wanted to write more of my own material and develop myself as a singer and it’s more convenient for me to organize my own tours in Sweden, I drive myself to Denmark and Germany.’

Already in 2010 he released his first solo album Tales of Love, War and Death by Hanging and was well received. In May of this year he released his second album Palace of Tears and has been seen as a very different album from the first.

‘They are very different,’ Cooper explains. The first album was quite a strong statement and some of the songs deal with war, quite heavy topics. Even though it was acoustic I tried to make it fairly hard hitting, whereas with the second album the historical content is much more recent and a much more personal history. I tried to go for more emotional depth.’

When listening to Palace of Tears as an album there is a kind of general tone of darkness and most of the songs are observations of the world around and there may be a lot of things the listeners might recognize. The album in itself might be able to be summarized in the title song.

Photo Judith Burrows

Photo Judith Burrows

‘I’ve been an observer for the past 25 years living and working in Northern Europe, witnessing, observing and experiencing things. That’s what the new album is about. I played East Germany quite a bit during the cold war era with the Oysterband and we got to know a lot of people and we became observers as their lives changed when the Soviet Union vanished in a puff of smoke and it was very disorientating. There were losers and winner at that time, especially in the short term and I’ve got many strong feelings from that time. I’ve played in Western Germany and people say they recognize the feelings from the songs. I’ve been an expat for the past fourteen years, it is really all about my experiences, old photographs and places I’ve been’

It’s not only the subject matter that is different between the albums; musically there is quite a change from the dramatic folky to the more melancholy, a Swedish tone perhaps.

‘I have always been drawn to the blue side of things’ Cooper comments as the subject of the Swedish vemod comes up. ‘And it was what drew me to Sweden.’

This tone might have come from the formation of his new band; The Swedish Kitchen Orchestra and has already played two shows, in Sweden, with them. The band adds two violin players and a piano/organ player to the mix. Unfortunately his adopted country isn’t his main focus when it comes to touring.

‘I’ve done a couple of shows in Sweden this summer, but I would like to do more shows next year. Nearly all my stuff is outside Sweden and I do most of my touring in Germany and I have three tours in three regions booked there in the coming year. It is easier to tour in Germany and together with Denmark they are some of the best countries to tour in. They really like music and want to understand the words; they aren’t so affected by fashion.’

Part of the reason for touring in Germany is also because they have a romantic view of Sweden, just like the Danes have one of Scotland, which works well for Cooper since he has is roots in Scotland.

Cooper’s music is readily available on streaming sites like Spotify and to download from iTunes, but has he felt any effects of illegal downloading or is it more difficult for artists to survive today in general?

‘I don’t like to complain about musicians’ situations’ he replies. ‘It’s never been easy; I just like to get on with it. Music changes all the time like going from Dancehall venues to rock clubs. You have to change with it. I do a lot of house concerts at the moment, it feels like something new. I play in someone’s living room and hopefully they get thirty or so people together to come see it. Other things are crowd funding and crowd sourcing, it’s a way to get in touch with the grassroots and that’s really important and people feel a part of it.’

On September 21st he is playing a house concert that will be live through the website concertwindow.com. It’s a matinée show at three p.m. and people pay whatever they think it’s worth.

So, apart from touring, what does the future hold for Ray Cooper?

‘I need to start thinking about what kind of album I would like to do next. I write very slowly so I need to get to work on it early. I finished my latest album in May, but I have played the songs all last year so to me it’s not that new. I will be living with the next album for several years as well, writing, touring and then recording it. I might tour round my hometown as well as a show in Stockholm in December.’

If you are interested to learn more about Ray ‘Chopper Cooper’ you can visit his homepage:

raycooper.org

or follow him on facebook

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ray-Cooper-aka-Chopper/144958372234493

or find his music on Spotify as well as his work with Oysterband and 3 Mustaphas 3

Read this in PDF: ray cooper

C.M. Marry Hultman

C.M. Marry Hultman


Basil Wolverton’s Spacehawk Collectible Coming

Spacehawk sculpt

Spacehawk sculpt

We have previously highlighted Jared Zichek and his company Golden Age Figurines and in that article Jared discussed future endeavors and today he has announced that the sculpt of Spacehawk is done.

What does this mean? It means that the customers can go to http://goldenagefigurines.storenvy.com/discounts-and-surveys complete the survey and get a 5% discount that is good until the end of the year. Due to inconsistencies in the coloring of the Spacehawk comic there are a few different color variants one can choose from, as well as a choice of size. You may also choose between Spacehawk’s enemy Gorvak the space pirate and his henchmen, not yet sculpted, but coming soon. So get in on the ground floor for these intriguing collectibles.

Spacehawk was created by the extraordinary artist Basil Wolverton, mostly famous for his bizarre work for Mad Magazine, and made his first appearance in June of 1940, in the fifth edition of Target Comics. Spacehawk is more closely related to Fletcher Hank’s Stardust then other space adventurers like Buck Rodgers or Flash Gordon or your garden variety super hero. He was kind of a mix between an alien and a super hero with one goal only, to protect our galaxy from the evil around us. He has been described as a darker version of the earlier mentioned classic space adventurers.

In late 1942 the series was cancelled and it had then already gone through a shift in focus, leaving outer space and come down to earth in order to fight Nazis. Like Stardust and Fantomah Spacehawk is a testament to the uniquely bizarre world that is The Golden Age of comics where seemingly anything goes.

SpaceHawk2

If you are interested to know more about Spacehawk you can buy the Fantagraphics collection Spacehawk from your local comic book store or through Comixology


Retro Review: The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie

Heroes_1680x1050

The Heroes is the second free standing book following the First Law trilogy, it take us to the north and allows us to know more about some of the characters we were introduced to in that series. Eight years have passed since Logen Ninefingers, here only referred to as the Bloody Nine, was betrayed by Black Dow and presumed dead. This has caused a rift between the King of the Union and the North and war has erupted, centered around a hill with some old stones on it, known as The Heroes. As the chess pieces are placed on the board the first of the magi, Bayaz, returns to oversee the coming battles.

The Heroes is a book that is mainly based on conflicts and intrigue, both physical and psychological. There are many characters pulling in different directions and every person has his or her own agenda. Some of them putting themselves first and others trying to do what’s right.
This is one of the main differences from the original First Law trilogy where there seemed to be one main structure and the psychological conflict wasn’t evident until the end.

In this book the underlying psychological warfare is more apparent from the get go. It exists both on a macro and micro level. On the macro there is the main conflict; the war between the Union and the North, born from Black Dow’s power grab eight years earlier and this serves as the back drop. On the micro level are the conflicts between people.

Beginning with Craw, a grizzled warrior whose conflict is a constant; his age and his duty. He is war weary and sees his friends die all around him, but struggles with the weight of being labeled a straight edge.
Prince Calder, the youngest son of the former King Bethod, schemes towards grabbing power while protecting his pregnant wife. He is also very much the cause of conflict between other North men.
Amongst the Union there is Bremmer dan Gorst, a disgraced colonel dreaming of death and glory and the love of a beautiful woman.

There is a plethora of other characters all with their own conflict and it would be difficult to list them all, and above them is the first of the magi Bayaz, playing them like a puppet master.

In the end Joe Abercrombie is a very good author when it comes to the psychological drama. He brings a depth and dimension to his fantasy world. The Heroes only covers three days of a conflict, but relates a legion of ideas, conflicts and events. He is truly a master and innovator of the genre, building upon the Sword and Sorcery style of both David Gemell and Robert Howard and bringing it into our century. He creates a reality, however harsh it may be, that feels believable, something that at times may be lacking in the genre.

At times one might feel like Abercrombie ends up in the shadow of authors like Geroge R.R. Martin, but undeservedly so. His stories are free from the repetitiveness and bloating that a long series of 600+ books contain.

The Heroes are truly a testament to what good fantasy writing is and where the genre is heading or must move towards to survive.

 

C.M. Marry Hultman

C.M. Marry Hultman


A Futuristic Journey Through Culture: Review of Monica Byrne’s The Girl in the Road

When looking for the book The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne one can hardly miss the glowing words from Neil Gaiman himself about it. To some this might come as a great boon to be so connected to a famous author and to some it might end up being a curse. It is quite obvious that the blurbs from Gaiman are supposed entice people who enjoy his books to pick this one up as well, but depending on what in Gaiman’s writing one enjoys the reaction to Byrne’s writing might be very different.

The Girl in the Road begins by telling two quite different stories, parallel tales that at first seem to have very little to do with one another, but as it develops so does the relationship between the main characters.

At first there is Meena, a free spirit and student who gets caught in a terrorist attack and finds snake bites on her chest. As she flees through the city she also has visions of a bare foot girl who somehow seems to follow her. Convinced she is being hunted by someone she decides to flee India and cross the Arabian Sea. In an unconventional manner she travels across The Trail an energy harvesting bridge floating on the surface of the water, of which she learns while attending a kind of energy convention. Meena is a woman with a dark past, now and again the reader is treated to memories of a partner named Mohini who at times acts as her conscience as these memories are played back. She also has a complicated relationship to her parents as well as an adventurous sexual past that gets her into trouble time and again on her journey.

The second main character is Mariama, a young girl, who also is on the run through Africa. She is taken in by an eclectic group of travelers as well as the beautiful Yemaya, whom she falls in love with. Like Meena Mariama has a sore on her chest that constantly makes its presence known. Through the journey towards Addis Abba the caravan of travelers encounter bandits visit special places and Mariama is taught how to read in several different languages.

There is a lot to pay attention to in The Girl in the Street and a lot to be missed if one doesn’t. The setting is in a not too distant future and this is gradually revealed through the technology used by Meena, but als her social commentary when it comes to the times in which she lives. The east has become the center of industrialized world, yet there is trouble brewing as well as the caste system very much alive. So the tale becomes one of juxtapositions, on one side the advances in environmental technology, the pozit, a tiny computor (most likely the next step in mobile technology), the glotti, a universal translator and a life pod allowing Meena to live and breathe under water and on the other side the old world values, religion and rigid systems.

Meena represents the new values and ideas in the east, influenced by the west, as is evident by her free acceptance of the technology and her free sexual spirit, while she is always being tugged at by her memories of her parents and the ever present Mohini and the bare foot girl. Mariama is the naive child who experiences the orld world first hand and is amazed by the rules and separation of people and cultures she is told about.

Meena and Mariama’s destinies are slowly intervowen and in the end there are more similarities between them than their journeys and matching chest bites. This is all brilliantly done by Byrne in the end who is excellent and giving the reader just enough information to make them want to turn the page, but never more than that.

In the end though The Girl in the Road is more interesting because of what it has to tell us today than the plot itself. It isn’t the strength of the story that intrigues, but the way it is told. The description of a somewhat bleak future and the struggle between old values and progression is beautifully told and the language is what keeps the interest of the reader. It can be difficult to not turn the page, but when the book has been put down it may be difficult to the finger on what has happened.Byrne’s work is also very much a product of its time. It will most likely not become an instant classic, but viewed as a time capsule of today and what Byrne felt the future might hold. This is not an unlikely scenario and Byrne is well within the realm of possibility when she tries to describe what may lie ahead of us.

All in all The Girl in the Road is a good read due to the beautiful language and thoughts of the future.

 

This review made possible through

This review made possible through

 

C.M. Marry Hultman

C.M. Marry Hultman


Bringing the Golden Age to Collectors

Cover of Action Comics #45 with The Black Terror

Cover of Action Comics #45 with The Black Terror

It seems like, in the past few years, the Golden Age superheroes have become more and more popular. It might be because of their public domain status that more independent creators can use them and bring them to a wider audience. For some this might be the time when the iron is hottest and the striking is just right.
‘I think nostalgia goes in cycles’ says Jared Zichek, entrepreneur and sole driving force behind Golden Age Figurines. ‘I believe the first major revival of interest in the Golden Age of Comics occurred with Jules Feiffer’s The Great Comic Book Heroes, published in 1965. It has waxed and waned ever since, though I think there is less interest now than there was back in the 1960s, as the Golden Age is becoming ever more distant. I mean, it is 58 years ago, assuming the final year of the period was 1956. Then again, dinosaurs are still popular, and they died out 65 million years ago! So, there will probably always be a dedicated subculture that appreciates this period of comics history.’
Jared, a 38 year old freelance 3D artist living in La Jolla, California became interested in creating a second stream of income back in 2012. It was around this time that 3D printing came onto his radar screen and he started to develop his first product. Inspired by his collection of Eaglemoss figurines, he believed there to be a niche for Golden Age superheroes, even though the collectibles market had taken a hit during the 2008 financial crisis. ‘There are currently a lot of nice collectibles out there chasing a diminished number of dollars, at least at the low end,’ Jared explains.
This may be true of the States in general, but there has been significant interest in his figurines in Scandinavia, maybe because places like Sweden, Denmark and Norway have not been hit by the recession and collecting figures has just now begun to be popular.

Choice of Source
Jared was introduced to Golden Age heroes in the early 2000s while chatting in various Yahoo groups, as was the custom at the time, where people were actively sharing scans of old comics. ‘It was very exciting, as I had never seen any of this material before.’ He also discovered a site called Golden Age Heroes and Zeroes by Copper, which has an incredible array of illustrations of these colorful, forgotten characters. In addition he cites the books I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! and You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation! as the inspiration for his two first figurines, Fletcher Hanks’ Stardust and Fantomah. Jared would like to sculpt more characters from Hanks’ catalogue, since he is a personal favorite amongst Golden Age creators. ‘Hanks had an amazing imagination, even if he wasn’t the most technically accomplished artist.’
Even so, super heroes aren’t Jared’s first love, as he actually prefers vintage science-fiction over superheroes, though he asserts that the latter has always been more popular in American comics. So when it came time to produce his own line of figurines, Golden Age superheroes were an obvious choice, a niche largely untapped by other companies despite its small but devoted following. ‘There is a lot of top notch art and interesting character designs scattered throughout the vast amount of comics produced in this period (the Golden Age),’ Jared explains, ‘though you have to separate the wheat from the chaff.’

Fantomah in the 3D sculpting phase

Fantomah in the 3D sculpting phase

The Process
In his article How to get a Figurine Produced in China and Not Lose Your Shirt, published 25th August 2014, he reiterates this notion: ‘Like any pop culture product, there is a lot of dross in the old comics hosted on such sites as DigitalComicMuseum.com; however, there are also a few weird gems that may deserve commemoration in plastic.’ The upside is that these characters don’t come with any expensive licensing costs attached to them. With this established, it was time for sculpting and production. Jared explains the process he currently goes through like this:

‘First I do a survey of my existing customers, giving them a variety of characters to choose from. I then pick the most popular one, and start collecting a lot of reference images, eventually narrowing it down to a particular story a character has appeared in. There are often noticeable inconsistencies in the way a character is portrayed from story to story, sometimes within a single story; the most common inconsistency is with the coloring. So, you have to decide which version of the character you want to portray, if you want to produce color variations, etc. I then sculpt the character digitally using an old version of Softimage XSI and Sculptris, a free sculpting app. I do my best to try to capture the artist’s original style, though it can be hard to translate a 2D design to 3D; what looks good in the former doesn’t necessarily look good in the latter. A classic example of this is Mickey Mouse’s ears. Once finished, the digital file is sent to a 3D printing company where a prototype is made. The finished prototype is sent to a factory in China where it is molded and produced in quantity, usually between 150-300 pieces. I determine the production runs based on the survey and gut instinct.

When dealing with the factory, you have to provide a production guide with everything clearly explained, especially the paint application. You also have to provide artwork for the packaging. There is a lot of email back and forth with the factory, which I do mostly in the evenings due to the time difference. After 4-6 weeks, I receive the finished figurines by airmail. I inspect them for damage or errors, setting aside any problematic figures, then send the rest out to my customers. It can take a good week to get all the pre-orders out, even with help from my family. The shipping aspect is the least enjoyable part of the business but it’s critical that it’s done carefully and promptly, as customers are often anxious to receive their figurines ASAP.’

Black Terror in model phase

Black Terror in model phase

Keeping at it
It took some time for Jared to acquire the skills and experience to get to this point, and one of the hurdles he overcame was a failed 2012 Kickstarter campaign to produce Stardust, his first figure. Today, Jared regards his Kickstarter campaign as a cautionary tale and invites people to study it as example of what not to do. ‘While it is humbling to fail publicly, it is also one of the most effective ways of learning. Fail fast, fail early and fail often is the motto of many technology startups, and I think it applies to my field as well,’ he states. He recognized the errors he made and had the intestinal fortitude to bounce back from it. ‘I decided to resculpt the figure and have it produced in resin instead of lead, reducing the cost.’ With unwavering confidence in the customer base for his figurine, he soldiered on: ‘I scraped together money from illustration jobs and my savings; I’ve only started to eke out a profit on the Stardust figure quite recently.’

After tirelessly moving on and combing the internet, researching various 3D printing companies and factories, the production today stands at three releases: Stardust the Super Wizard, Fantomah, and The Black Terror vs. Killer Robot, all from the Golden Age of Comics. While Stardust and The Black Terror are still available in limited numbers, Fantomah is sold out, much to Jared’s surprise.

‘I actually cut the production run of that one (Fantomah) because my pre-orders were somewhat anemic; I regret it now, as I think I could have sold at least 50 more. You never know how a figurine will be received until it actually makes it to market.’

If anyone is interested in a second edition of Fantomah one can sign up here; it will be in a flying pose to set it apart from the first one.

Initially the plans were to produce a new figurine bi-monthly, but Jared now feels this was overly optimistic. ‘I seriously underestimated the amount of time and effort it takes just to bring one figurine to market, let alone releasing one every other month. The time it took to move the original Stardust inventory was also surprising, though sales have recently picked up and it is almost sold out.’

Future Plans
This is of course only the beginning for Jared and his one man company. There are various plans and ideas on the horizon, chiefly Spacehawk [a science fiction hero created by Basil Wolverton], which is being sculpted as you are reading this article. ‘I want him to be accompanied by Gorvak the Space Pirate, one of the first villains he faced’ Jared explains. Wolverton’s monsters are next on the list, such as the Brain Bat of Venus and the creature from his famous Nightmare World story. These will be followed by a female character, since Fantomah did so well. With these figures being in the immediate future and getting Spacehawk and Gorvak done the top priority, what are Jared’s long term plans?

‘I will be releasing a survey once the Spacehawk sculpt is finalized to gauge how many collectors are interested in a secondary line of figures in a larger scale, like 1/12, 1/10 or even 1/6 scale. I’ve had several customers ask me about this, so we’ll see if there is a market for it. My guess is that these would be limited edition, perhaps around 50, and would of course be more expensive than the current 1/21 scale figures.

I’m also contemplating the release of even more exclusive limited edition sculptures, in quantities of ten or less; these would depict very obscure characters or variations of more popular ones. The scale would probably be 1/6 or 1/10. The enabling technology for this is the Formlabs Form1+, which is the only available 3D printer I’m aware of with the right mix of quality and affordability to do this sort of thing. I would probably personally assemble, finish, and paint these by hand. Prices would reflect the scarcity and personal craftsmanship that went into the sculptures.

There are other semi-affordable high resolution 3D printers coming on the market like the Titan 1 and the XFAB, which could be game changers for niche artisans like me; I’m waiting to see how good they are before investing, however. I think leasing this equipment makes more sense than buying, given how rapidly the technology is evolving.’

Another personal favorite of Jared’s is The Blazing Skull by Timely Comics, the forerunner of Marvel Comics. Producing him would require the purchase of a license though, which is probably cost prohibitive for such an obscure character. Jared also would like to transform some of the classic pulp sci-fi covers of Frank R. Paul into miniature, as he has a soft spot for vintage sci-fi and fantasy art generally. When asked, Jared has also said that he wouldn’t mind partnering with someone who holds the license for a particular character.

‘I’m definitely interested in producing figures for others, whether it be creating the prototype or facilitating the entire production process. You can get a rough idea of the market size by conducting an online survey; the factory I currently work with requires a minimum order of 150 for a small figurine. If you can reach that, then you can get something made. However, you will have to sell the figures direct, as you will not be able to provide the 50-60% discount demanded by a distributor. Ideally, you will find something popular enough to warrant production of 500 units or more; then you can look at getting a distributor or having an online order fulfillment service pack and ship your products for you.’

Stardust and Fantomah

Stardust and Fantomah

As this article was being written, Bill Murphy of Fresh Monkey Fiction just had his Kickstarter project successfully funded, bringing even more Golden Age heroes to the toy market. There is also CKRTLAB Toys, which makes vinyl action figures of The American Crusader and Black Terror, as well as Dynamite Entertainment, which is famous for bringing old timey heroes back to the comic books —where they belong. There seems to be a movement among these companies to work together to inform and promote the heroes of yore. Jared says that there is an informal cross-promotion between certain creators, though a more official cooperation might eventually develop.

Whatever the future holds for Jared and his contemporaries, they are only hindered by their own creativity and drive. There is much to be said for his spirit and the excellent work that he does is proof enough; in speaking with him, he does have a lot of ideas, though he is quick to comment on this:
‘I should emphasize that just because I like something doesn’t mean I’ll be able to make a figurine/model of it anytime soon; I always underestimate how long these things take. I don’t want to come off as some sort of mythomaniac making impossible promises; I’m just saying that I like certain things and there is the possibility of them being made someday. The likelihood increases as the quality of 3D printing technology continues to improve and the cost continues to drop.

There will come a day when the price of a smooth, high resolution 3D printed model will match that of a resin cast garage kit; when that day comes, many creators like myself will be popping open the champagne. In the distant future, 3D printing may come to match the price and quality of mass produced injection molded items; one can scarcely imagine the near limitless diversity of products this will enable. Even the most utterly obscure pop cultural footnote will be capable of being turned into a physical object at an affordable price.’

C.M. Marry Hultman

C.M. Marry Hultman

If one is interested in ordering any of Jared’s figurines, please go to:

http://goldenagefigurines.storenvy.com/

Or follow him on facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/goldenagefigurines

Read his article on how to produce figurines:

http://boingboing.net/2014/08/25/how-to-get-a-figurine-produced.html

and if you are interested in learning more about Golden Age heroes or Fletcher Hanks in particular check out:

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2014/08/21/amazing-heroes-daredevil/
or
http://www.fletcherhanks.com/HOME.html

14805778436_81439456e7_oToe read this article as a PDF: GAF.1