Free Comic Book Day 2021

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Comicverse: Subspace Chatter #1

BIANCA: When Steve proposed the idea of doing a Comicverse strip I was all for it! It’s been really fun to have them react to things I love like Star Trek, and modern comics and movie controversies. We’ve also have fun having special callers weigh in, who are friends and fellow comics creators as Lekrus! Plus, aren’t Steve’s chibi-esque versions of the crew so darn’d cute?

STEVE: I wanted to do a new Comicverse strip that was more in line with the original idea for the series—a weekly strip dealing with the latest comic book developments that everyone was talking about, one that could potentially appear in the websites and/or newsletters of comic book shops. It was Bianca’s idea to make it a podcast, which is the perfect venue for talk about nerd culture.

In a phone call with Dave Sim, he gave me the idea to try a new approach, and I eventually found out that he was working on Cerebus in Hell? at the same time, which uses similar methods. The technique I came up with after our conversation is sort of like Colorforms for Photoshop. If you’re not familiar with Colorforms, a Google image search should enlighten you.

The background is the setting, and you place your character overlays on top of it to stage your scenes. I’ve been creating a number of facial expressions and body poses for use in any situation. I’ve been posting examples of these and am talking about the process on my Patreon page.

 In Comicverse: Subspace Chatter #1, the Comicverse characters take a break from their comedic sci-fi adventures to do a nerd culture podcast, transmitted straight from the comic book shop on the Final Frontier. They review old sci-fi shows like Space: 1999 and Star Trek: The Next Generation, tackle the latest comic book controversies (such as Captain America working for Hydra, the woman-only screening of the Wonder Woman movie, and Doctor Who being cast as a woman), and satirize indy comics (such as Max Ink’s Blink and Cerebus In Hell). 60 pages.

Excerpt from a 13-page parody of Cerebus In Hell. I couldn't resist a play on Cerebus' name in the bottom panel!
Excerpt from a 13-page parody of Cerebus In Hell. I couldn’t resist a play on Cerebus’ name in the bottom panel!

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Comicverse: Subspace Chatter #2

GUEST ARTISTS:

THE PROJECT

In 2017, we launched Comicverse: Subspace Chatter, a spinoff of The Comicverse in which Rei and his pal Ying the Dragon, owners of a comic book shop in space, do a podcast (in comic book form) about sci-fi, comics, and pop culture.

In this new, second issue of Subspace Chatter, we somehow ended up with an entire issue made up of stories and reviews about either Star Trek or Star Wars. So for our opening piece, we decided to post that age-old question: Star Trek or Star Wars? Bianca wrote responses for many of the Comicverse characters, but we added to the piece by posing the question to followers of the Comicverse Facebook page. Carrying on the tradition started in the first issue, we turned these readers into Comicverse aliens for this piece.

We also turned to our readers for the next story/”podcast”—the Han Solo movie was about to come out and had yet to be given a title. So we asked our readers to come up with a name for the movie using only quotes from the original Star Wars trilogy, with predictably hilarious results!

“Barclay Day” starts out with Rei and Ying doing a podcast entirely devoted to Star Trek’s cult favorite character, Lieutenant Barclay. Ying soon finds himself in a Groundhog Day-type situation, reliving the day of the podcast over and over. He finally decides to create a hologram of Lt. Barclay in order to ask him for advice on how to get out of his predicament. This is one of the most story-driven entries we have done so far in Subspace Chatter, which up ’til now has mostly been reviews and podcasts in comic book form.

For our last two pieces, we turned to our artist friends mentioned at the top of this page for guest illustrations, and Steve did a number of illustrations in his finely crosshatched style, many of which are available here as rewards. The first one is a review of the classic Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Mirror Universe episode, “Crossover”. As with the Space: 1999 review in Subspace Chatter #1, Ying finds himself experiencing the same events as in the episode—when he sees the normally grouchy Rei with a goatee and in a great mood, he begins to realize he’s been transported to the Mirror Universe! Steve’s longtime pal Anthony Casperite drew 3 panels in his wonderful Bill Sienkewicz/Jim Mahfood-type style, plus we got great contributions from Lee Thacker, Max Ink, and Flor de Canela.

Finally, Rei and Ying do a review of “The Last Jedi”. Much like the fans, they have very mixed feelings about the movie. Dre Grigoropol and Corey Bechelli both kindly delivered several illustrations of various TLJ scenes, plus we got single panels from Lee Thacker, Mike Sgier, Bryan Douglas, and Brian Payne.

If you are a Star Trek and/or Star Wars fan, we think you will enjoy these podcast/reviews and our illustrations of key scenes. Thanks for your support!

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Parallel Comicverses #1

The Comicverse is a sci-fi romantic comedy set in a comic book shop on a space station, written by Bianca Alu-Marr and drawn by me, Steve Peters. In 2013, we started a comic called Comicverse: Behind The Counter, a spinoff that Bianca wrote for other artists to illustrate. At the time, I’d already started Parallel Comicverses, though I didn’t have a name for it yet. I did know it would feature an alien character based on me named Esteban (a comic book artist that had a small role in the Comicverse series), and that it would be written by me and by other guest writers. Of course Bianca ended up writing part of it too, just as I drew parts of Behind The Counter. The final product, Parallel Comicverses #1, is a softcover black and white, digest-size book, with 80 pages of comics and 44 pages of glimpses at the creative process.

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS: Parallel Comicverses #1 focuses on three things I am passionate about: Star Wars, the music of a band called Yes, and comic books, most specifically a comic called Cerebus. However, since the comic’s stories are told through the eyes of a 31st century alien, these three things are familiar yet…different.

The new comic includes an 18-page homage/parody of Star Wars written by Bianca and drawn by myself and a host of guest artists: Samuel Alexander, Corey Bechelli, Dre Grigoropol, Flor de Canela, Max Ink, Brian Payne, Bob Pistilli, Daniel Sponton, Joe Tedesco, Lee Thacker, Raphael Tiberino, Jason Young, and Caitlin Zellers.

Our version has elements similar to Star Wars but uses Comicverse aliens as the main characters, and also recalls the old Flash Gordon comics that were a big influence on Star Wars. Bianca and I had a huge amount of fun creating it and getting our artist friends involved in the project.

 In Esteban’s world, the music of Yes has become a teaching that is passed on, much like Zen Buddhism has been given from master to student over the eons here on Earth. In Parallel Comicverses, the band is called “Yeah”, and look and sound very much like the classic Yes lineup. Max Ink wrote a story for me which shows how Esteban takes refuge in Yes music to get away from the noise and chatter of everyday life. I’ve also done a longer story in which my character has a cosmic religious experience at a “Yeah” concert, which is based on one of my experiences at a Yes show. Here’s a page from Max’s piece:

For the Cerebus portion of the comic, I’ve created a 3-headed aardvark called Cerberus. I decided the best course would be to turn to Cerebus’ creator himself, Dave Sim. Dave has been kind enough to participate in several of my jam comics in the past, but he’s had problems with his hand and had to stop drawing, so I asked him to write a story for me instead. The end result is a 15-page story that is called “Cerberus Conquers The Universe!” and has a lot of in-jokes that I’m sure Cerebus readers will find amusing. It’s been a blast drawing Cerebus characters in their mutated alien forms, and Dave Sim called the finished piece “REMARKABLE” (all caps!) and “Well worth the wait”.

A page from the prologue chapter of Parallel Comicverse featuring Cerberus, the 3-headed aardvark.

The book also opens with a 24-page prologue (which originally began as a 24-hour comic that I ended up finishing later because I got a little too ambitious…but that is another story!) that introduces Esteban and details the three things he loves, and explains how each have their own controversies attached to them, and how this nearly poisons his love for them, because the 31st century version of the internet has trolls that are 10 times worse than our present-day ones. You can read the prologue here.

Image from the prologue chapter of Parallel Comicverses #1

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Comicverse: Subspace Chatter #3

The Subspace Chatter #3 Kickstarter was successfully funded on June 24, 2021. The comic will be available in August.

The Comicverse is a sci-fi comedy about a comic book shop on a space station written by Bianca Alu-Marr and illustrated by Steve Peters for the past 10 years. Comicverse: Subspace Chatter is a spinoff series in which the Comicverse characters do a space podcast about comics, sci fi, and nerd culture.

The cover of the new comic, Comicverse: Subspace Chatter #3!

In the latest issue of Comicverse: Subspace Chatter, The space station has been put under lockdown due to an alien virus making the usually jovial and friendly aliens, the Varials, paranoid and hostile. The germ of the idea for the issue came during our own global pandemic. Artist Steve was listening to NPR and heard that it was important for us to write accounts of our experiences of quarantine for future generations to know what it was like. Steve felt that artists especially need to capture the essence of what it’s like, as this is a singular moment in history—we’ve never had a pandemic happen with the technology we currently have at our disposal.

Rei and Ying the dragon spacecasting from their apartment

In the comic, Rei, Ying the dragon, and friends come up with creative ways to pass the time through their spacecast, Subspace Chatter, which they are recording from their apartment instead of at The Comicverse, which is closed due to the quarantine.

Bianca, being a Star Trek fan (Next Gen and DS9 are her favorites), offered the idea of a spacecast about the viruses of Star Trek, which was dubbed “Trek Goes Viral”. She was curious to go back and see how the show handled outbreaks amongst the crew and other alien species. What she didn’t realize is that there would be so very many viruses to choose from between Star Trek the Animated Series, TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY and ENT! It was very labor intensive to comb through each of the episodes, summarize them and pick out some interesting points of interest from the episodes to discuss. Steve helped with some of that too when Bianca came down with virus episode fatigue! But in the end it was well worth it, as Steve drew some detailed, crosshatched illustrations of some of the episodes, along with other depictions by Max Ink, Corey Bechelli, Anthony Casperite, Flor de Canela, Lee Thacker, and Dre Grigoropol.

“Sig City Social Club” is inspired by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine actor Alexander Siddig’s Sid City Social Club, a twice-weekly Zoom meeting in which Sid talks to his fans one on one. The show was created during the quarantine specifically to give fans the chance to reach out to one another, and to give people something to do! Artist Steve was a guest on the show (you can watch it here; Steve is the first guest), and Steve and Bianca got such a kick out of it that they fictionalized it, having Rei go on the Lekru (a species of Comicverse alien) version of Siddig’s show.

Finally, “Sin Kevitch Challenge” is inspired by the Bill Sienkiewicz challenge (check it out here). For laughs, Sienkiewicz posted an old reference photo of himself he had come across in which he’s in the buff and pointing a gun, with a black box strategically covering his posterior. The internet went wild with the image, as hundreds of artists began to using pose as reference and posting the results. As with “Sig City”, “Sin Kevitch” is the Lekru version of the famous comic book artist. Of the three stories in the book, this one is the most loosely related to the real-life quarantine—it happened during that time, and perhaps many of the artists who contributed did so because they found themselves with lots of extra time on their hands.

Some select images from our “Viruses of Trek” and “Sin Kevitch” stories drawn by our mighty guest artists!

For “Sin Kevitch”, Steve drew a number of versions and got friends to draw some as well. Guest participants in the challenge were James Windsor-Smith, Lee Thacker, David Branstetter, Michael Anthony Carroll, Anthony Casperite, Matt Dow, and Corey Bechelli. Steve did drawings in the styles of other artists like Michael Golden, Shannon Wheeler, Brian Payne, Dave Sim, Jim Woodring, and Moebius.

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The Comicverse #5

THE COMICVERSE #5: LIVE LIKE YOU’RE DYING is the latest issue from Comicverse creators Steve Peters and Bianca Alu-Marr. The Comicverse is a sci-fi comedy about a comic book shop on a space station. At the end of the last issue of The Comicverse, our heroes were returning home after a harrowing ordeal. Issue 5 picks up right where that story left off, with the Comicverse gang arriving and looking for some much needed rest and relaxation.

However, they soon discover that their adventure is far from over. Due to a shocking sci-fi twist, the C-versers discover that it is very likely that they only have 24 hours to live! They set off to live out what could be their final hours to the fullest.

At 72 pages, The Comicverse #5 is the longest issue to date. This new issue is an examination of the fragility of life. We live out our existences never knowing what our appointed hour is, and death can often come unexpectedly. Though this is a poignant tale, it is no somber meditation on mortality. The C-verse characters handle their situation with grace and humor, and they discover new facets of themselves and each other along the way. Ultimately, The Comicverse #5: Live Like You’re Dying is a celebration of life.

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Here’s a review of The Comicverse #5 from one of our readers who backed the new issue ittle feedback. People don’t write letters anymore, so we’ve never had a letters column. It’s reviews like this by people who get it, that come every few years from folks like Adam McGovern and Chris Galvan, that really help keep us going!

MICHAEL HUNT’S NOTES FROM THE TUB

I recently received the latest issue of Steve Peters’ and Bianca Alu-Marr’s Comicverse (#5) and eagerly devoured it this morning

.Comicverse is a romantic-comedy set in a comic shop on a space station. There are two main story threads. The budding romance of Rei, the proprietor of the shop, and Aki, a cargo ship pilot, appears to be the heart of the book, while the unfolding mystery of the origin of Rei’s pet/friend dragon drives the series overarching plot.

For all of its “inside comics” references and science fiction pretensions, this is a comic that celebrates the quiet moments in life, the seemingly inconsequential. Its humor is gentle, warm, and character driven. Simple, clean illustrations belie Peters’ characters’ subtly emotive expressions and body-language. Alu-Marr’s dialogue is natural and she handles the many voices of the diverse cast well.

This issue was surprisingly touching and bittersweet. I was taken somewhat aback by how effective and affecting it was. Comicverse just keeps getting better.

The Comicverse #5, published by Awakening Comics, March 2017.
Black and white, manga-size, 72 pages.

[Read “Live Like You’re Dying” on the Comicverse blog]

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Yes Fanzine #4

This is issue #4 of YES FANZINE, published by me, Steve Peters of Awakening Comics, it is a zine dedicated to celebrating the band YES in all of its incarnations. It contains photos of the band, interviews, and fan art.

Some of the highlights of issue #4 include:

-Exclusive interviews with Tom Brislin and Michael Sherwood.
-Photos from Trevor Rabin’s first gig with YES.
-Billy Sherwood’s YES Tour Diary.
-Pictures from YES’s 50th anniversary show with Patrick Moraz and Trevor Horn.
-Anderson Rabin Wakeman Tour Photos.
-Payne’s Paper Dolls featuring Rick Wakeman.
-Comics about ‘Journey To The Center of the Earth’ by Bryan Douglas.
-A profile of Steve Howe’s Portuguese 12-string written by his guitar technician.

Summer 2018.
52 pages, full color. $10.00

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Yes Fanzine #3

This is issue #3 of YES FANZINE, published by Steve Peters of Awakening Comics, the first of hopefully many zines dedicated to celebrating the band YES in all of its incarnations. It contains photos of the band and fan art.

Photos from the 2014 Heaven And Earth Tour, taken by Steve Peters at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury, NY. Featuring Jon Davison, Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, and Alan White.

Bob Cesca talks about the ideas behind his artwork for the Magnification album.

Payne’s Paper Dolls: A paper doll of Alan White and his drums, drawn by Brian Payne.

Union Tour Rehearsals, taken by Nick Zangari, featuring Chris Squire, with Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Trevor Rabin, and Alan White.

A remembrance of Chris Squire with the thoughts of his friends and bandmates, and photos of Chris with various fans.

Yes Comics by Steve Peters, featuring Eddie Offord, Jon Anderson, and Bill Bruford.

Summer 2015.
36 pages, full color. $9.00

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Yes Fanzine #2

This is issue #2 of YES FANZINE, published by Steve Peters of Awakening Comics, a zine dedicated to celebrating the band YES in all of its incarnations. It contains photos of the band and fan art. It features:

A beautiful wraparound cover featuring Yes on their 35th Anniversary Tour as cartoon animals, with a vast audience of cartoon animals, drawn by illustrator Daniel Sponton.

Photos from the 35th Anniversary Tour taken by John Kuehne, featuring Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman, Chris Squire, and Alan White.

Photos the Summer 2012 Tour, taken by Steve Peters at the Tower Theatre and at the Warner Theatre, featuring Jon Davison, Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, and Alan White

Payne’s Paper Dolls: Paper dolls of Steve Howe and two of his costumes/guitars, drawn by Brian Payne. Second in a series.

A humorous illustration of Rick Wakeman reading ‘Journey To The Center of the Earth’ for the first time by Steve Peters

A 1-Page comic adaptation of ‘Journey To The Center of the Earth’ by Bryan Douglas

Photos from the Drama Tour by Joseph Bucker

32 pages, full color.

Spring 2013.
32 pages, full color. $9.00

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Free Comic Book Day 2020

FCBD

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