Nate Wunderman's Brief Bio:
I was born in a suburb of Brussels, Belgium and immigrated with parents to Los Angeles just before my 6th birthday. As a kid, I read both American & Franco-Belgian comics; my faves were Tintin, Batman, Asterix, X-Men, Lucky Luke, & Captain Marvel / Shazam. I discovered Manga as a teenager (Lone Wolf & Cub, and Akira are particular favorites), as well as starting my comic book collection (which I still have). I majored in Anthropology at USC, then went to work in the family business (including a stint in Switzerland, which allowed me to rediscover some of the bande-dessinee classics, like Gaston LeGaffe, that I used to read in my late father's house as a kid). For a time, I covered the Los Angeles Galaxy as a beat writer for a series of soccer specific web sites.
What was the first comic book you read?
Tintin, it is pretty much required reading for any Belgian.
What inspired you to create comics for a living?
I discovered my talent for storytelling as child, but my drawing skills were not up to what my brain conjured up. Comics are a great medium with which to tell stories. Comics creators are amongst some of the most famous people to come from Belgium: Herge, Peyo (creator of the Smurfs), etc., and are accorded great respect as artists of worth. I consider my comics as my art and derive the same sort of satisfaction any artist gets doing his creative work. Whether the marketplace gets it or not is another matter. At this particular moment, my comics do not pay my bills.
What inspired you to create E.I.?
The first germ of what became a fairly complex story started as I was walking a former roommate's dog (whom the Chopper character is modeled after physically) along the Venice Beach canals at sunset. I would fantasize that the dog & I were on patrol against an alien invasion. Later on, I recalled from my Anthropology course work about how bootleg loggers in the Amazon basin would go into Yanamamo villages and machine gun them if they tried to interfere with their commercial plunder. That sparked this thought: what if that happened to the planet Earth writ large?
Pretty soon, the basic concept came into shape: Doctor Doolittle with a military application versus a pirate commercial plunder operation run by a mafia that comes from the civilization, the Kazoops, whom are the dominant power of the center of the Milky Way galaxy. The Kazoops are a race of highly advanced insects who bio-engineer themselves and can re-form entire worlds to suit their needs, and consider mammals to be an inferior species. Things are looking pretty bad for the Earth until a Home Guard unit comes across, almost by accident, a shanghaied technical bug named Grzzt, who agrees to help as a means of revenge and to prevent the criminals that kidnapped him from succeeding. Grzzt does this by providing the technological advance that facilitated the Kazoops rise to power, a universal communications chip. The story is centered on the first unit of combined human / higher order mammals as they desperately fight to survive.
Can you tell us about Wunderman Comics?
Wunderman Comics began as a dba. From then on, the fairly long process of turning E.I. from a day dream to a fully realized comic took eight years. In Fall of 2006, I self published the first version of E.I. #1 and began to sell it any way I could (including having a table in the indy comic section of Comic-Con 2007), merchandise included. Technology soon mitigated that online was the way to go in terms of distribution. Thanks to the USC Law Small Business Clinic, I incorporated Wunderman Comics in April of 2009. I intend for Wunderman Comics to be what I term as "World comics," combining the best elements of American, Franco-Belgian, & Japanese comics into a globalized hybrid style. I have recently branched into graphic novelization services, adapting screenplays into comics. Feel free to check out my first such project, Indestructible Will.
What’s your all-time favorite comic issue or series
Batman, as he is an example of what an ordinary man can do when motivated.
Who are your favorite artists working today?
Alan Moore, Jim Lee, Adam and Andy Kubert, and the recently deceased Jacques Martin (who is virtually unknown this side of the Atlantic). Martin is a particular favorite for his mastery of Ligne claire technique combined with historically accurate series' such as Alix, Jhen, Lefranc, Arno, Keos, Orion, & Lois.
Looking forward, what would be your “dream project”?
Taking my favorite Jacques Martin character, Alix, to Han dynasty China with Mike Grell drawing. Grzzt returning to the Kazoop home world as drawn by Jim Starlin is a close second.
How have you been promoting your webcomics?
Hitting up the various comic boards, viral e-mail marketing, submitting my comics for review by media outlets, word of mouth.
What advice would you have for aspiring artists looking to break into the business?
Never give up. Don't take constructive criticism personally, but do consider the source. Be enough of a ham that you're not afraid to show your work in public. Not everyone is going to like everything about your work... and it is not the end of the world if that is so. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Pay attention to financial issues, but don't be penny-wise, dollar foolish. Always work at your craft.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you'd like to mention?
I also created and write another web comic, Time Corps. It is an ensemble piece focusing on the adventures of the Venice Beach Time Corps sub-station, who must battle an adversary who does not care about the law of unintended consequences. I also offer graphic novelization services, and Indestructible Will is an online multi-media graphic novel that I adapted for comics from Nate Noggle's original screenplay.
Anything else that you would like to share?
Don't be afraid to assert that comics are as legitimate an art form as any other, as I have done to no less a person than David Simon (creator of Homicide: Life on the Street, The Wire, & Generation Kill).
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