An Interview with Legion M’s Paul Scanlan and Jeff Anison


I had a chance this past weekend at Silicon Valley Comic-Con 2016 to interview the cofounders of Legion M, a new company owned by the fans. Paul Scanlan and Jeff Anison, CEO and President, gave me the lowdown on what their plans are for the company, how they created it, and why fans should get onboard.

After the interview, Paul also noted that content creators could have chances to submit material to the company, so all you future directors/producers/screenwriters/etc. should start polishing your skills.

HyperGeeky: First, can I get an introduction from you two?

PAUL SCANLAN: Hi, I’m Paul Scanlan. I’m cofounder and CEO of Legion M.

JEFF ANISON: I’m Jeff Anison. I’m cofounder and president of Legion M.

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An Interview with John Hageman



At first, The Woodland Welfare Manifesto looks like something you might see in the children’ section of your local comic shop. The colors are vibrant, and most of the characters are … cuddly-ish animals.

And then, the main character urinates on a government document.

The Woodland Welfare Manifesto, narrated by Uncle Stas, details the adventures of Burnt Bear in his quest against the Capitalist Government. The pacing is quick, the characters nutty, and the artwork is brilliant. 

I got an interview with artist John Hageman on the process of creating a comic that will be released June 18 on Comixology. Web comics are getting bigger, and it’s given artists and writers a more level playing field to show off their talents, tell their stories, and to play alongside the big boy. Taking a look at Hageman’s art, there’s a beautiful polish to it that rivals the computer-designed artwork prevalent in many Flash-cartoons.

But, as Hageman warns: The comic isn’t E for Everyone.


Can you tell us about yourself?

Well for starters, I’m 38 years old. Married with 3 kids ages 12, 8, and 5. By day I work for an ad agency, and by night I’m doing my art into the wee hours of the morning sometimes. Kind of like a Batman that doesn’t patrol the streets, doesn’t know how to fight, and stays up watching random documentaries on Netflix streaming.

What’s your background as an artist?

When I was 16, I knew I wanted to be a cartoonist. I used comics strips like Garfield and Mother Goose & Grimm to teach me how to draw. As I got older, TV shows like Ren and Stimpy influenced me in how to use expressions in my characters. When I got to community college, I took as many different art courses as I could from printmaking to painting and even sculpting. My final two years there, I was drawing one panel cartoons and various illustrations for the school paper.  During the last year, I was continuing to do the one panel strips as well as a three-to-four panel strip toward the inside of the paper. I transferred to San Jose State for about a semester and a half then had to drop out. Years passed, and I was trying to develop a comic strip for newspaper syndication. I then discovered the world of Webcomics in early 2006. From 2006 to 2013, I posted a weekly webcomic called Social Vermyn. The story was about being anti-social and the problems that causes in everyday life. From that work, I was able to get attention from others to work on different projects, so my site has been on hold. Aside from the comic I have participated in many art shows selling a few paintings here and there.


How did this project get started? 

I attended a Free Comic Book Day event at the Slave Labor Art Boutiki last year. I met with and sat next to Justin Sane who had already published many books through SLG. We connected on Facebook, and he asked if I wanted to do the illustrations for his script. The rest is history.

From the get-go, it seems like the comic is meant for humor — from the name of the writer to fake record. Is humor something that’s difficult to do, more so than drama or an action comic with superheroes?

For me humor is the easiest. It starts with my art style which allows me to contrast it with darker or more adult humor. It throws people off because they see this very kiddie cartoon style, and they think it’s E for Everyone. I like throwing people off with that. I think it makes for good entertainment.  This particular comic takes its inspiration from the Rankin and Bass Claymation specials you usually see during a holiday. Justin’s dialogue comes from the narrator Uncle Stas who is a Russian that speaks broken English. For me, it added a nice layer of humor that went perfectly with the story and the art.


Can you explain the method to your madness? Did the art come first, or was it more of a direct/indirect collaboration with others? How long did it take from start to finish?

Justin had the entire script written out. He sent it to me, and right away I knew this was something I wanted to work on. I created the character designs and the first four pages to pitch to SLG for publishing. Once they liked what they saw, I began to work on pages. I penciled, inked, then scanned the pages into the computer, then used a Wacom Cintiq tablet to do the coloring. Once all 50 pages were done, I did the lettering. Once I finished all that, Justin would go back and look over the pages to make sure the story flowed, corrected any writing he wanted to tweak, and even added a page here and there to help the overall story along. The process on the whole took a little over a year which wasn’t bad considering it was the largest comic project I’ve done to date.

Your comic will be listed on Comixology. What was the process like working with them?

Luckily, SLG handled that process. What I hear from the editor is that with the advent of comics going digital, there’s a lot of formatting that needs to be done outside of the normal work you would be doing if it just went to print. From what I understand SLG does this process with all their books now as a way to publish digital as well as print. So from my stand point, it’s great when you can pass that task on and just focus on doing the art.


What are some of the challenges you’ve faced from creation to finish? What lessons have you learned?

Mainly the size of it. ‘Til [now], I had only done weekly comics which was like a page a week from drawing to lettering. A 50-page book seemed like a lot at the beginning, but once I got into a rhythm it became much easier. My next challenge was making the pages look dynamic and interesting so the story would flow in way that wouldn’t seem stagnant while you read it. Justin’s writing made this task easy since he didn’t cram too much story/dialogue onto each page. This allowed me to push myself and try things I had never tried before artistically on my own comics. I was proud of the outcome on certain pages in particular, and I think it made me stronger as an artist so that I can use what I learned to push myself further on the next project I get to work on.


An Interview With Random Cushing


There’s very little setup for the main character in the first two episodes of Random Cushing’s comic series Refill. 

What’s present are quickly paced stories filled with action, characters, and unpredictable plot turns. The art doesn’t settle for two dimensions — the layouts feel incredibly alive with movement.

That each episode is a self-contained story that adds something to the whole gives the series a bit of mystery with a compelling draw.

Check out Refill after reading the interview.


Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Random. I was born to a nomadic, scientific family at the start of the 1990s. I’ve always had an imagination for stories and practiced drawing and at a certain point the hand of fate face-palmed me into comicking. I want to adventure and make cool art. I love the work of Bill Watterson, Tatsuyuki Tanaka, Jamie Hewlett, Shinichiro Watanabe, and Ralph Steadman, to name a few; but I am influenced by a wide range of media.

Your comic Refill — what’s the background on the main character? It’s obvious he’s more than just your average errand-boy.

Phil is a grizzled cat from back in the day. He’s seen major changes in the scenes and players and learned to keep it close to the vest. He’s been doing this long enough to be discerning about the jobs he’ll take, so if he’s taking your money it’s either a favor or a worthy cause.

And he can Refill things.

www.hypergeeky.comThere are a lot of twists and turns in the space of a few “pages.” How do you come up with the various stories, and what influences you?

The stories are character driven with the idea being to develop the scope of the world in which Refill takes place. It’s a post-power world. People have had super powers and special abilities for generations, and the society is built around it. It all started with the character Refill and just building his personality and relationships to other groups and individuals. To be natural, it has to be thorough, so there’s a lot to explore before we get to particulars. I like keeping things at a brisk pace. Dynamic scenes are more fun to draw than conversations.

As for the art — there’s a lot of detail and a great sense of setting and movement. How do you go about creating the scenery and panels?

Goodness—I’ve been trying to tone it down for speed. I try to arrange scenes cinematically: character enters here, falls over that, chases that guy there… so the environments are developed around the actions and tone of the scene. I work with rough layouts before I form every scene.
I want Refill to be animated as much as possible using the sense of movement and time generated by paneling. I’m fascinated by movement in static images.


As a writer/artist all-in-one, what’s the process as you create an episode, and what mediums are you using? What made you decide to produce a black and white comic?

I came up with Refill in 2008 and began drawing it — in pencil and Prismacolor fine pens and markers — in 2010, and since then I have co-written the series with Nick Sudar, third-year PhD student in physics at UCLA (he’s the smart one).

Many of our stories start with “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” and then creating a character with that particular power. Then, it’s a matter of fitting them in to Phil’s world in a way that progress the story and world.

A long time back, Negative — one of the last big villains — succeeded in altering the scatter of light through the atmosphere: removing color from the world. The villain purge that followed established super hero dominance. The world’s been black and white since.

How long does it take for you to create an episode, and what are your plans for future stories? When can we expect the next episode?

When I’m really on my game I have done up to four pages a day. But usually it’s a bit harder to get in the zone. The last month we worked out our next script and character designs, and this month I have begun the pages of Episode 2: DP Slid; out at the end of July.

Is Refill something you’d ever want to Kickstart or bring to a major publisher?

That’s the plan. We’ve begun drafting the submission, and after DP Slid that will be our focus.


An Interview with Andrez Bergen

I was first introduced to Andrez Bergen through the Comic Book Community on Google+. A fan of comics, Bergen has worked with artists from around the world for several stories.  He’s also a novelist and a musician — a sort of Renaissance Man.

Corresponding with Andrez, I’ve become acquainted with a humble yet confident author with a range of interests. I’ve had the honor of reading Black + White, an anthology of Bergen comics that share a common thread — a love for the noir genre. With a sharp wit and a handle on the written word, Bergen’s stories come across as multi-dimensional with subtext hidden in between the lines. There are twists and turns that leave you hanging, which only serve to prove that you’ve been noired. Bergen’s passion for the genre is plain to see, and the stories lend themselves to several readthroughs.

Check out Black + White for a mere $1.00 after you read this interview.

IF? Commix

First off, can you tell us about yourself?

Sure — I’m an Australian, born in Melbourne, who’s lived in Tokyo for the past 13 years. I do electronic music (as Little Nobody), I’m a journalist, and I write novels and do comic books. I’m a dad (my daughter is eight), I love sashimi and chocolate, along with beer and saké. I used to run IF? Records for about a decade and now co-run IF? Commix. Reading-wise, I’m right into the older detective-noir of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, and with regard to comic books, I worship at the artistic altar of Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko, Frank Miller, David Aja, Matt Kyme, Barry Windsor-Smith, and Steve Epting.

You’re an Australian living in Tokyo, Japan. Can you tell us about how you ended up there?

I came here basically to pursue my music and journalism careers — since electronic music has so much of its roots in Japan (think Yellow Magic Orchestra, Fumiya Tanaka, and Merzbow), and one of my specialties as a journalist is manga/anime. I also teach English over here to cover the bills, ended up meeting my wife Yoko, love the place, and stayed.

You’re a novel writer. Did you start off doing novels before going to comics or the other way around?

I’ve actually been writing short stories and novels since I could hold a pencil, from early primary school, but I started making my own comics a bit later in high school. The writing has been a continuous thread, whereas comic books have been a haphazard passion. Then again, I was publishing a comic in the TAC Insurance newsletter in Melbourne way before I published my first novel (in 2011).

IF? Commix

Black + White is an anthology that’s aptly titled. Not only is the artwork in black and white, but I’m assuming it’s also a nod to the noir genre. What is it about the genre that makes you want to tell these kinds of stories?

Definitely it’s that nod to noir. I mentioned that, literally speaking, I’m a big fan of Chandler and Hammett, and also Cain. And I love hardboiled cinema, from the old films with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, or by Akira Kurosawa — ‘Nora Inu’ is sensational — to contemporary versions. Noir’s dateless and can be applied to so many genres. Canny dialogue and offbeat characters are essential to good noir yarns, and the finale in no ways needs to be a happy one or even final. It leaves a lot to the imagination and is usually a darker ride. I find it downright energizing, and I know people like Ed Brubaker feel the same way.

The stories end on cliffhangers with a sort of unexpected twist. From inception to finish, how do you approach these stories?

They’re actually intended that way — short riffs that bounce out of my first novel ‘Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat’ but with new characters and intended as standalone tales. All of them began as short stories that ended up in the anthology ‘The Tobacco-Stained Sky’ (2013) either as written or sequential art pieces. I approached artists I liked and asked them if they would be interested in working together — and I was very, very lucky. I thought the stories deserved to be seen at their proper size rather than the much smaller paperback anthology they were originally printed inside. And I love the diversity in visual styles.

Can you describe the process you went through to choose/collaborate with the artists? I know of several writers looking for artists, and you’ve worked with a good number here. I also noticed you did the art for one of the stories. What was it like creating the visuals for your own story?

Basically, I approached artists I already knew for their other work — Drezz [Rodriguez], for example, for his online noir comic ‘El Cuervo’, and Michael Grills has done stunning work with ‘Runnin’ With a Gun’. Nathan I knew through his graphic novel ‘Baja’. Marcos and Andrew I discovered from work on their sites. When I thought about each story, I tried to imagine which artist would be the best work with which scenario. My own story was a great chance to bounce back into doing the visuals, since I’d taken a breather for a long, long time and to test out new digital technology in the process. It was a great warm-up for the ‘Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat’ graphic novel I’m currently assembling and pretty easy to bounce out of my own words.

IF? Commix

What’s your view of comics in general, living in a country that cherishes the artform — an artform that’s vastly different than Europe and North America?

Oh man, I love all comic books — so long as they’re good. I grew up early on British comics, ‘The Phantom’ and Tintin, and discovered Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s Fantastic Four when I was about six or seven years old. That segued into the manga I found in Australia, most of them by Katsuhiro Otomo, Yukito Koshiro, Kazuo Umezu, and Masamune Shirow. I love the storytelling differences that occur between countries, and the people who try to push the perimetres and disregard the “rules” — like Otomo, Umezu, Will Eisner, Kirby, Steranko, and David Aja. It’s all great.


An Interview with Bridgett Spicer

I conducted a live interview with cartoonist Bridgett Spicer last year only to sit on it as she went through major professional changes. After her hometown newspaper, the Monterey County Herald, decided to drop her Squid Row comic strip — a move that prompted an angry response from members in the community — Spicer began work on two major projects in addition to keeping Squid Row on the Internet.

It didn’t feel right to put up an old interview, and seeing as how Bridgett’s weeks away from officially releasing her new compilation Down But Not Out, it seemed like a good idea to talk about what’s happened, what’s going on now, and what’s to be.

You can check out Squid Row at www.squidrowcomics.com.


First off, what’s it like working as an independent cartoonist these days?

It’s challenging. You have to be really creative. If it is your full-time job and livelihood, you need to be tenacious and find ways to gather support.

What methods have you been using to gather support?

I correspond with my readers. I make sure that I respond to their comments online. To me that’s just courtesy, but also it opens up dialogue. I have some great fans that have been super at buying my books, art, and stuff. Another way is I look for ways to cross pollinate. If there is a program I believe in, I write them into the strip, or I donate some art or something. It’s a way to give them a nod and sometimes they nod back, then we hug, and all is groovy.

The past year has been a big one for you in terms of business decisions being made. Can you give us a quick recap and tell us where you’re at now?

Yah. It’s kinda funny. So I’d been in The Monterey Herald for four years. And suddenly, the editor dropped the bomb in the paper that they were no longer going to carry my comic (they were adopting a pre-fab page o’comics that all their papers would share) so as of Jan. 1, no more locally run comic. It was pretty devastating the way it went down, but in a way, it was a blessing. I’d been pondering “What next,” and so this happening sort of took care of that for me. I decided to take the opportunity to 1: Put out a compilation book (WAY overdue) and 2: Start a graphic novel. What this required was me cutting the comic strip back to three days a week from a daily.

Did you cut down in order to work on the other two big projects?

Yes. While The Herald wasn’t the only paper I was running in, it was the only daily (besides online) and so I decided to give my readers something else. Sadly, it meant applying the bunny-hop maneuver.

As for the two projects, where are you at with them now?

I was able to get the compilation book off the ground pretty fast. I hit the ground running on that the finished product “Down But Not Out on Squid Row” literally showed up within this passed week. The graphic novel is a much slower process. So, that I will give myself much more time to work on this will be my first graphic novel and I really want it to sparkle in a big way.

Let’s talk about the compilation. How would you describe the Squid Row title?

Meaning the actual title of the book?

The characters and story.

Ah. Well, Squid Row follows Randie Springlemeyer, a quirky coffee-addicted artist, who with her bohemian pals lives in a touristy seaside community. Randie is often short on cash-flow (but somehow has enough for a cuppa joe), and the comic mostly revolves around her. However, she has these pals who are always helping her out — Ryan, a writer who is her platonic boyfriend who is LIKE a boyfriend but not, and her Art-o-rama Mama pals who are artists, themselves. Throw in some tourists, a mangy cat, and a maladjusted barista and you’ve got some silly going down.

How much of the stories are based on personal experiences? And are the characters based on your own persona and personalities of your friends/associates/acquaintances?

I would say that a good lot of the strip is based on something that either happened to me or is happening or maybe bothering me. I find that most of my inspiration comes from real life which is a bunch of stories waiting to be written. I used to work in an art store, and so Randie, of course, works in an art store. I mine old pain for that. When I go traveling, I will often write something into the strip about it. I’ve written about Portland and Paris. As far as personalities …

I tend to sort of take qualities from a person and work them in to a character. Enid’s cookie-making skills and wise sage-ness is pulled from my partner Judy (who makes excellent cookies and gives really good advice). Enid wants to save the world starting with locally made batches of cookies. She has a good heart but tends to overdo it at times. Randie, as you might guess is a lot like me. But I do throw in a lot of artistic license Randie loves horror films, but I do not. She is also a slob!

There are a few characters that are based on real people. Spill and Fred. Spill is an artist who is a good pal of mine! I should add that Fred is a friend of mine I used to work with in my art supply store days. There’s a reason I made him into a barista in the strip. He used to drink triple espressos at work!

There’s a coffee shop in town that was getting vandalized. You wrote that into your stories, and you also created a positive out of a negative on that one.

Yes. Like I said earlier, I nod at some businesses. One is Rollick’s (my very local — across the street from my office — coffee shop). I call it Rollicker’s Coffee in the strip. Last year, they had their large window broken, then fixed, then broken again. It was becoming a regular thing, so they just left the plywood temporary fix up. Seeing this empty canvas, I and a local Hartnell art teacher offered to do something with the space. So we teamed up, Trish Sullivan’s art students and I, to mural the plywood. It put a positive spin on a bad thing. I used that in the comic. I wanted to bring that story out.

I find that, if anything, the comic has a positive message folded in the story lines. That’s a conscious effort.

It sounds like community is very important to you.

It’s funny. As a cartoonist, I spend a lot of time doing cartooning indoors behind my office door. So sometimes, I feel like I’m not as involved as I would like to be. But yes, it’s important.

Let’s talk about the graphic novel. Why that format, and what should fans of Squid Row expect?

I feel like Squid Row is much deeper than 4 or 5 panels a strip allows it. I think that the dialogue I want to engage in is bigger than a strip every other day. I feel that I can tell a bigger story (within a story) in that format. Also, Randie is an artist. it’s hard to show her art in teeny tiny panels. Squid fans can expect a longer story with issues that are somewhat familiar to Squid Row, and they can expect to see a more art feel to the G-novel. It is my intention to make it a work of art, so to speak.


Can you describe the transition from working on comic strips which are contained in a short set of panels and a graphic novel which is larger in scope?

Well, I’m still in the writing phase. I had a particular story that I wanted to tell. The only problem is, I didn’t know the scope — is this a larger story with maybe three medium-sized books in a series, kind of like a Scott Pilgrim model, or is it one big book like Craig Thompson’s Blankets? It was feeling really overwhelming. So, I just started writing. At first I tried to put the story in some sort of outline but found that it isn’t how I like to write. I tend to write my storylines in the comic strip with sort of an idea, and then the story writes itself. This requires a bit of faith that it’ll work out — kinda like real life, I guess — but so, I just started writing and seeing where it goes. So, that’s not too unlike what I do in the comic strip. My characters are familiar to me, so I know how they’ll interact with one another. But I’m finding that I can write them deeper. But certainly, the G-Novel feels big to me.

Should readers expect the same tone as the strips, or are you going for a more realistic and heavier tone as graphic novels tend to do when they take an existing characters and transport them into larger stories?

I’ve noticed a darker tone to the writing. It’s a lot heavier in its subject matter, but I expect to go back and add an element of lightness. I don’t want to alienate the readers who like the comic’s lightheartedness, and really, I’m not someone who can write darkly. I’ve been told that I’m cheerful in my comic so … but I will be changing up my style for the graphic novel. I plan on loosening up my line and adopting more of a sketchy quality. I don’t want it to read like the comic strip  or really look like the comic strip. I like the idea of changing things up.

Why did you choose to use your existing characters rather than create new ones?

I really feel like there is so much more I want to explore with Squid Row. I don’t feel that the stories are used up or that there isn’t anything left. I really like my characters, and I think that the graphic novel will put them in front of a new audience.

Do you have release dates for the two projects?

I just finished up my pre-orders for the compilation book (Down/Out), and I am lining up some book signings, so while it’s not been officially announced as out, it’s here. I will post something on my site making it official now that the pre-order is done. The graphic novel — well, I’m not sure. It won’t be out in the next year, that’s for sure. It may even be three years, but I hope not.