A short Q&A with Charles Glaubitz, creator of the mind-blowing, psychedelic Kirby-meets-Zardoz graphic novel, Starseeds

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I was stoked when Charles Glaubitz reached out to me a few years ago. He asked me about the magazine I used to edit, and my response was that it had run its course but the self-published and signed copy of Crystal Sigil I bought from him at Comic-Con in 2010 was a prized possession that left a lasting impression on me. (Number 8 in an edition of 70!) We kept in touch and, more recently, he asked for my address and proceeded to send me his first release by Fantagraphics.

On the title page he jotted a note thanking me for reviewing his indie comic, adding that it had a role in the brand-new book I was holding. Wow. Sometimes I’ll jokingly say that Giant Robot magazine came and left like a fart in the wind, but a statement like that makes the waft smell pretty special!

I should mention that Starseeds is an incredible read. Cracking it open reminded me of being a teenager and having my mind blown by VHS tapes of psychedelic movies like Eraserhead, Zardoz, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, not to mention surreal Krazy Kat comix or Jack Kirby’s pop-art forays into the Negative Zone. How could I not ask Charles a few questions about it?

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How did you go from self-published comics to Fantagraphics?
My friend Jacob Covey is a designer and art director for them. I sent him my finished book asking him if he would be interested in designing it to self publish, and he forwarded everything to an editor friend who he loved it. I think he called it “a tour de force of visual imagination.” From there we planned of doing a 500-page first volume, but that made the book very expensive so we decided to do smaller books. The whole story is about 1,400 pages in five volumes.

The plot is wild, pitting otherworldly Illuminati against the universe and reality itself. Do you trip yourself out when you read the first published volume?
I have only read parts of it since it has been published, but I do trip out when I read it. I kinda get sucked into the experience of the art and words.

Did you know how the story was going to unfold or did it just flow out if your head and hands?
The story started with ideas I wanted to narrate, a beginning, and an end. From there, I developed the in-between stuff and let the characters and plot develop to reach the end. Starseeds was two separate stories that I blended together–the first being the Crystal Sigil and the second, Secret Societer.

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Are you into weird movies like Heavy Metal, El Topo, and Zardoz? Because I feel like I am in that sort of world when I read your comics.
Yes, absolutely. I love Jodorowsky’s work. It is very enigmatic, mystical, and transcendent. I haven’t watched Heavy Metal or Zardoz in a long time, but I watch a lot anime. I love Kaiba from Masaaki Yuasa as well as Ping Pong. I find them very magical.

Do you listen to music when you draw? I was thinking the Heavy Metal soundtrack, Fucking Champs, or Earthless…
Yeah, I do listen to music when I work: Tommy Guerrero, Daft Punk, Girlpool, Massive attack, Stereolab, Chicano Batman, Ramona and Jardín (Tijuana bands)… Kavinsky Nightcall seems to repeat a lot. When I work late at night, I listen to Coast to Coast AM.

I am gonna check out the bands you mentioned.

Does drawing and storytelling come easily to you? Have you been making comics for fun since you were a little kid or is it an art that you have been torturing yourself with for your entire lifetime?
It is something that is natural. I drew comics as a kid, and I have always told stories in my art work. Each series that I produce is a part of the narrative, may it be painting, drawings, etc., in a gallery setting. I thought that the audience would gravitate toward the narrative as it unfolded in my art and shows, and started making comics in 2010 with all the narrative from my gallery work.

I know a little bit about Tijuana bibles, lucha libre comics, and translated Marvel and D.C. comics in Mexico, but is there an underground, indie, or art school burnout scene too?
Growing up in Rosarito, I was pretty isolated from anything underground and read mainstream superhero comics–mostly Marvel. My mother had a pharmacy and I would read the translated comics from the stand. My father worked in San Diego, so every Friday he would stop by a comic shop and get me a bunch of books every week for years.

So when do we get to read the next volume of Starseed? Is there a schedule for the remaining books?
I am hoping to get the next chapter out around the same time next year, if not early summer. All I gotta do is keep on schedule and we should have a book every year…

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Stalk Charles at mrglaubitz.com and buy Starseeds from your local comic book store or fantagraphics.com.

Three days and a ton of friends, artists, and artist friends at San Diego Comic Con 2015

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Last week, I went to the San Diego Comic Con. My brother and I have only missed one since 1979 when we were little kids who collected comics. Most chatter about the Con entails movie stars, entertainment news, and how hard it is to get tickets. But what about the less popular panels or how you get to see so many rad people from all over the place–longtime friends, badass artists, and personal heroes, too?

I already wrote something about the panels I attended this year, so here’s a rundown of some of the people I saw.

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Lalo Alcarez is the guy behind the La Cucaracha daily strip, which I’m a big fan of. He and Ask a Mexican writer Gustavo Arellano have been working on a new cartoon for Fox called Bordertown. It expands on their celebration of La Raza and underdogs everywhere, and at his panel my brother Greg and I got to see some advance footage that cracked us up and is sure to offend people to the right of us. We went to his signing afterward and he was a real cool guy.

Every year we see Los Bros Hernandez and every year we buy something that at least one of them can sign. This time I got Yeah!, an anthology about an interstellar girl band drawn by Gilbert Hernandez and written by Peter Bagge. Talk about a dream team; how could I have missed it when it first came out? It never gets old meeting and supporting legends of underground/indie/punk comics and it was awesome to see that Beto’s daughter Natalia is making mini comics now, too.

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Later on, we caught Beto on a panel that included Peter Bagge. Of course, we tracked him down afterward, took a picture, and made him sign Yeah! I love Bagge’s comics and totally would have brought Hate and some records for him to sign if I knew he was going to be around.

Above right is our friend Mike Shah, who attended the same second and third grade class as Greg and me. All of us discovered comics together and started going to the Comic Con together, too. We must have been going into fifth or sixth grade at the time, and who knew that Greg would live in San Diego and all of our families would be crashing it his place for the Con more than three decades later? All that’s missing is our long-lost childhood friend Brian Brown, our fellow comic collector and D&D player with the un-Googlable name…

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Can’t not mention Brian Tse, without whom I wouldn’t have been able to get into this particular Con. And this is not the first time he has helped me secure a badge. There have been times during the mad rush to purchase passes online when I’d feel defeated and start getting philosophical, but he’d come back with, “You have to go! You’ve been going since you were a kid and can’t stop now. I’m going to help you get a ticket.” He was a great GR softball teammate and huge mag supporter, too, and I’m glad we actually got to attend the Con on the same day this year.

I was also glad to see David Walker, who I got to know from Giant Robot’s days in Indie Alley. He published and wrote practically all of Badazz Mofo, which featured essays and interviews with just about every living Blaxploitation star. Now he’s writing Cyborg comics for DC. Love it when the good guys (or ladies) win.

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Greg and I were stoked to see Carlos Ezquerra, co-creator of Judge Dredd, at the 2000 AD panel, and then I tracked him down at the booth. One doesn’t cross with creators with such legendary status very often. How could we not buy  anthologies to have him sign?

I was waiting to buy a sketchbook from Geof Darrow when Gaston Dominguez-Letelier from Meltdown walked up to whisk him away to a panel. Gaston was an early supporter of Giant Robot mag and I still enjoy stopping by his shop to buy comics and chat with him, his brother, and all the cool people who work there. What a small, awesome world we live in. Of course they would know each other and of course he allow Geof to pause for a quick photo with him and me.

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I’ve seen Matt Groening at the Drawn & Quarterly booth before, but I swear I don’t go there to stalk him. What a nice guy and what a huge supporter of comics and culture. Always love talking about new comics, new music, and everything else that matters.

I like to hang out by the  Drawn & Quarterly booth because it is run by the nicest people with the best taste, but this time I kept circling back to have my 25th anniversary book signed by the artists and staff that were present. My shoulders were killing me from lugging that awesome brick of a book for three days. Above right, that’s Marc Bell, Julia Pohl-Miranda, and Michael DeForge.

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Talk about the stars aligning. I missed Saturday and our friend Daniel Wu’s panels but returned on Sunday along with my family. My pal from Hong Kong Ryan Hui (a.k.a. The Stay Up) happened to be in town and was able to get a ticket for that day, too. After scoring the toys he was looking for, he let me drag him around to all of my indie comics spots as well as the cute stuff that Wendy and I wanted to share with Eloise.

Of course, we stopped by the Giant Robot booth to say hi to Eric Nakamura. I had a lot of fun working our booth when we made the mag together. Wendy did both graphic design for the publication as well as doing shifts at the booth and Eloise’s babyhood was well-documented in the last two years of the mag. I miss the mag and Eric, but can’t complain about our excellent 16-year ride.

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More legends at the Con. John Lewis was a Civil Rights activist who became a Senator and then a graphic novelist. Impressive resume, and very cool to spot him at the Top Shelf booth and get a quick photo of him with my family as well as my niece. When they get older, Eloise and Saoirse will be blown away to realize that they met Lewis–at Comic Con!

My family has gone on pilgrimages to the Schulz Museum numerous times and we’ve taken photos with the World Famous Super Beagle at the Con before, but Snoopy is still a real big deal to my family. We went to a panel featuring graphic designer Chip Kidd and Creative Associates honcho Paige Braddock, and the Schulz art book they’re working on will be amazing. Missed a photo with Paige, though. Rats!

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So many friends from all over the place. How cool to spot Ashley Mae from Keep Company shoes just one week after seeing her at Anime Expo? Where will we see her next Sunday?

Eloise was a little disappointed by the quantity and level of cosplay compared to Anime Expo, but was pretty excited to see Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask toward the end of the day.

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I used to work with Michelle Kim back in the Giant Robot garage, and now she’s at the Mimoco booth. I’m glad we’re back in touch and she always makes our visits to Comic Con more fun (and fashionable with her Simpsons and Rilakkuma gear). Thanks, Michelle!

The Con was being shut down as we were walking by Super7 at the moment when the founder/my friend Brian Flynn was standing next to Darth Vader! An awesome ending to another awesome Comic Con. Hope we’re all able to get in next year…