First Comics News: How did “All New Popular Comics” AKA PopCom come into being?
Jim Ludwig: InDELLible Comics got its start from a Facebook page, called Dell Comics Heroes, that I started in celebration of the oddball characters brought out in the mid-sixties after Batman made camp cool. The Dell Crossword magazines, etc and Gold Key comics went to Penny Press and Random House. I contacted both and neither claimed any ownership to the Dell Comic properties. While the copyright is technically still intact but orphaned, the trademark look and name of the characters expired long ago. Steve Rino suggested making comics with the Dell characters and started the ball rolling. In posting about the possibility, Dave Noe volunteered to be the editor and thus became co-creator of InDELLIBLE comics. Some names were suggested and a poll taken for our first comic and All-New Popular Comics won.
1st: Who are a few of the other talented people working on “All New Popular Comics”?
Jim: Dave made one of the best of decisions when he asked to bring Daerick Gross, Sr on as Visual Editor. Dave and I are both writers so the final product would not have looked anything near as good if Daerick had not added his expertise and his rapport with artists. The credits page of PopCom shines with the names of some fantastic writers and artists. It pays to have been involved in Facebook comic groups with people who just plain love comics. Other than the greats listed in issue 1, I will let Dave give a better rundown of the other talents in upcoming issues so I do not miss anyone. Dave is far more organized than I am. I would like to say that we have a mix of already established talents and new talents. Daerick is a genius at bringing artists along.
1st: What story or stories do you work on in “All-New Popular Comics”?
Jim: All stories ideas and outlines come to me first for approval. This is where I see if the story fits into our attempts to keep things clean and fun. I give input along these lines and may provide some suggestions. So I am involved in each as are Dave for the final edits and Daerick for art approval. The stories that I was more actively involved for issue one were quite a few to get the first issue out as soon as we could. I think the first one I did was the Freddy comic. It came directly from my classroom experience as a teacher. I had played with making bogus covers using a Photoshop clone program called paint.net. I had made a few pages, by pulling images out of public domain comics and manipulating them, to make the first few pages of a Charlton story that I had written. I never finished it because it is a lot of work. I had better luck with just pulling images to make my one page Freddy comic. Ryder Swilling was a member of the Nerd Club I sponsored at school and a very good artist. He took those images and inked them up and added some background and missing pieces. Daerick hopes to use him some more in the future. This leads to the answer of how I got involved in coloring. When inked art started coming in the load for coloring and lettering built up. I started coloring my own stuff. I find in professional terms, what I do is called flatting. Most modern comics go a step further and flats are then rendered to give all the fantastic pictures seen in so many of our other strips. I have found that there are quite a few fans who enjoy the good old fashioned art style of flats mixed in, so PopCom will offer both. In looking at Dell characters I have become a HUGE John Stanley fan. Melvin Monster caught my fancy and I liked the character Millie the Lovable Monster so I put the two together and wrote the story and put it together with swiped images as a breakdown. Keven S. Halter took those and worked magic. Jigger and Mooch was another John Stanley strip that I put together with Deb Perry’s and Dave Noe’s InDELLible mascot Indy and wrote a story and made swipe breakdowns that were turned beautiful by my major collaborator Ken McFarlane. He did the same magic on my Dazey strip and we have more to come together. I was going to send Ben Lazey to Ken but I found images that just fit together so well to tell the story on their own. So the page was allowed to look like it a silver age comic to give a retro appeal. Look for Morty Meekle to appear the same way in a future issue. When I have a gag idea it is really easy to find a Dell character that will fit the gag nearly perfectly. The story NOT THIS TIME came about out of a necessity. We wanted the heroes on the cover. It was decided that it would not be right to have them on the cover if they were not in the issue. So I wrote a full story taking place in only three pages. I was so excited that one of my all time favorite pencil/ink teams, Rock Baker and Jeff Austin, from one of my favorite comics Femforce, to do the story for me.
1st: Can you give us an idea of what type of stories are in PopCom?
Jim: PopCom contains comics that would fit the Dell Comics Pledge, that allowed them to avoid the code, and is extended a little up to seventies code comics. I will answer three of your questions in one. Dell comics and PopCom feature variety. There is something for everyone from humor to horror and everywhere in between. Then we get to one of the comments that I received most from our talents that this project is FUN. We want all of our comics to be fun. Many have abandoned both DC and Marvel and all the new gritty stuff that even Archie tried to do with Dark Circle. The most popular of the revived MLJ heroes was The Fox because he was kept fun. If the people working on the comic are having fun it will translate into the reader having fun.
1st: What does it take to be a good writer?
Jim: I think being a good writer takes having read a lot. Exposure to good writers fosters an idea of what a good story reads like. The story needs to have a beginning and a real end and say something worthwhile in between. I know that most artists are never really satisfied with their own works and that applies to a degree to writers. But I think a writer has to enjoy reading his own story even if he may not think it completely perfect. I think it takes an editor to improve any writer. Dave and I do not just put our stories in without having them critiqued by the other. Yes, we take each other’s constructive criticisms.
1st: Would you or have you ever written a novel?
Jim: I have not written any novels but wrote, and had illustrated, a children’s book about 25 years ago. I shopped it around but got no takers. I have too succinct a writing style for novels. Short stories are more my forte. I always thought that condensing novels for Reader’s Digest would have been something that I would have been great at. I had a Louie Lou and Zaza the Mystic story reject by Charlton Arrow for not enough background/detail.
1st: What do you think of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby?
Jim: DC comic’s LSH in Adventure Comics captured my young mind and roped me in forever from about the age of six or seven. All the oddball characters brought out after the Batman TV show, blew my pre-teen mind. Then came the teen years and Stan and Jack and Steve’s Marvel Comics. Stan Lee kept me interested in comics in my teen years so Roy Thomas and others could go on to take me into adulthood. Of course having the visual dynamics of Kirby and Ditko and others could only intensify my love for the medium.
1st: Which comics besides your own would you recommend?
Jim: I love the Indy comic scene today. I have been getting and enjoying Femforce since the first issue. AC has picked up Big Bang and Charlton Arrow so I would say they are my top company right now. I have recommended Bandette from Monkey Brain since the first issue and the fun within. Reading so much for InDELLible has cut into my comic reading and I am behind on reading some of Dave’s scripts even. I know I will probably miss someone so please forgive me and maybe Dave will give a mention. Dan Reed’s Dimensioneer is a web comic that he has now put in print and everyone knows how good Dan is. The Surprising Universe has just made its very promising debut. Steven Butler has several Amazing Man comics drawn beautifully and fun to read. Super-Mystery has just been revived, ain’t that cool? Beetle Girl is also a fun little fast paced title. There is good stuff coming out from Empire Comics Lab and Silver Phoenix. You can tell I basically like old school.
1st: From the InDellible Universe which characters powers or abilities would you most like to have?
Jim: While I went to Heroes Con as Crispy, it is not his powers that I would most like to have. I do really like that the Fab 4 could transfer their minds into android bodies and remain safe while the super powered androids went out on adventures. I was very disappointed when that gimmick was taken away in the last issue. I would like to be able to transfer my mind into an android body that could fly and read minds and control them.
1st: Any last words for the fans of your work on “All New Popular Comics”?
Jim: InDELLible Comics is going to always be good clean fun. We plan on having a loose continuity. We want to develop a canon but allow stories to take place at differing points in the continuity. The Fab4/Weird Warriors story in issue one takes place before the teens stopped using the android bodies. We have some writers who want to write stories after. I have a new character called the Spectral Mummy that will be joining the InDelliverse and he is introduced during the period of the androids. We believe that our readers are smart enough and discerning enough to figure this out and enjoy good stories from different periods of development. While PopCom will remain multi-genre we do plan on reviving the Four Color Comics title with a more specialized issue. Each issue may contain one story, or one genre or one character. I am also considering working on reviving Dell Movie Classics if I ever find the time. I have actually started on it with the first issue being TEENAGERS FROM OUTER SPACE.