|Pereira and Butler |
The web is a vast resource for comics, and you can't pick up a magazine or newspaper without seeing an interview with an on-the-rise comics artist or a brainy review of the latest graphic novel. But where do you go to find comics stuff on the vast wastelands of TV? Try G4TV, a cable channel broadcast out of Los Angeles that focuses on videogames, cool technology and, increasingly, comics and the people who create them.
Founded in 2002 and available to about 50 million cable and satellite subscribers nationally, G4TV is aimed at an audience of young consumers--technology/gaming geeks and fringe-cult hipsters aged 18-34--very much into videogames and virtually anything else connected with pop culture. More than ever, comics turn up, in one way or another, on many of the network's shows.
This is especially true on Attack of the Show, G4TV's flagship, five-day-a-week, live variety show. Attack of the Show, or AOTS, offers an hour of live reports on the latest news in gaming and technology, but there's also much about movies, animation and popular fan culture in general--all delivered in a breezy, self-consciously goofy entertainment-show format that's hosted by three genially entertaining, tech-smart hosts.
Of course the three co-hosts--Sarah Lane, Kevin Pereira and Brendan Moran--are a perfect reflection of the show's audience--and that's where comics come in. The show's supervising producer, Gavin Purcell, says the AOTS staff of hosts, writers and segment producers is aged 22 to 35, a very useful match for programming.
"We've been very interested in broadening the show's appeal beyond strictly technology to pop culture in general," says Purcell. "Our staff came of age in the 1980s, so we want to do stuff we're interested in, like comic books." As a result AOTS is a hotbed of topical stuff on comics of all kinds--from superhero and art comics to the movies and games based on them. "We cover comics people the same as movie or TV stars," says Purcell. "AOTS is like E!--it's a media show for people like us."
Over the last six months they've had Bone creator Jeff Smith in the studio; this past summer the show taped four consecutive days of AOTS co-host Kevin Pereira roaming the floor at the San Diego Comic-Con; they've interviewed John Martz from the illustration blog Drawn! about hot comics artists and spoke with Lindsay Cibos and Jared Hodges, creators of the Tokyopop OEL series Peach Fuzz, about their new how-to-draw-manga book coming from HarperCollins. AOTS also features a segment called "Fresh Ink," which offers opinionated commentary on the latest comics in the market by Blair Butler, the show's in-house "comics guru." Butler, a witty blonde and total comics nerd, also happens to be a stand-up comedian when she isn't writing for X-Play, G4TV's popular videogame review show.
Purcell grew up a Marvel and Dark Horse fan, but eventually stopped reading comics. "But the staff here got me back into it. I became fascinated with how comics had evolved since Watchmen came out. Comics just resonate with our audience, and they've become integral to our show. At our morning meetings, we always encourage our segment producers to pitch comics-related guests. We take comics very seriously"
Purcell says the AOTS co-hosts are all also interested in comics--he singles out Pereira in particular-- "but they have so much stuff to do, we knew we needed an expert and Blair just knows everything."
It's no surprise, says Butler, that AOTS turned to her. "I regularly nerd out everyone around here about comics." In recent "Fresh Ink" segments, she's raved about Alan Moore's Top Ten, singled out the Luna Brothers' Ultra and heaped praise on Desolation Jones and the zombie comic Walking Dead. She loves Brian K. Vaughan, Warren Ellis and Brian Michael Bendis's Daredevil. She praises Marvel's Ultimates and DC's All-Star Batman and expresses a certain weariness with Infinite Crisis. Oh, and she digs She-Hulk--"it's like Betty Page on 'roids.' "
Butler says she's also a fan of Optic Nerve, Blankets and "a lot of indie stuff." A fan as a kid, she also dropped comics for a while. The Authority and Planetary--"they were so dark"--brought her back. And she admits, "I'm not that much into manga, but we'll try to pick it up."
And listen -up, publishers: Purcell says he'd love to have you pitch artists to him for AOTS. "They have to be able to do live TV," he says, "but we'd love to see comics companies come to us with their artists."
He admits that manga coverage could be better--he wasn't aware of the growing OEL trend--but he says he plans even more comics coverage on AOTS in the coming year. "We're going to do even more at the San Diego Comic-con next year. It spans everything that we do. It's all the stuff we love."
"The book format has really changed everything," says Purcell, pointing to the ease of going to a bookstore to get his comics. "It's awesome. When it comes to comics, it's become a cool new world for everyone."