Thursday, October 8, 2015

Interview | Buzzfeed



My good friend and fellow cartoonist, Dan Méth, interviews me for Buzzfeed about TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror) and comics in general. Check it out here: http://www.buzzfeed.com/danmeth/cartoonist-benjamin-marra-has-just-published-the-most-badass#.txYVK0xe2


And check out Dan's epic on-going comic, THE REGOLITH, which delves into the mysteries of human civilization: http://theregolith.tumblr.com/

Sunday, September 13, 2015

SPX 2015

I'll be at table N10 at this year's SPX next weekend, September 19th and 20th. Dave Plunkert is sharing the table with me. I'll have copies of TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror) as well as the BLADES & LAZERS Collection, original artwork, among other things.

I'll also be signing at the Fantagraphics table:
Saturday, 19th - 3:00 PM
Sunday, 20th - 4:30 PM

Signing | Forbidden Planet NYC

I'll be signing copies of TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror) at Forbidden Planet NYC, Wednesday, September 16th. Swing by!

Review | TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror)

J. Caleb Mozzocco, over at Comics Alliance, wrote a deep review of TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror). Check it out here. I think J. Caleb has the best description of the book so far:
If you can imagine Fletcher Hanks collaborating with Larry Hama or Chuck Dixon on a Jack Kirby-inspired, deadpan G.I. Joe parody that was serialized in the back of Playboy in the late 1980s, well, you’d be pretty darn close to what Marra has come up with here. You’d just have to multiply that by a factor of 10 or 20.

Review | TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror)

Comixology reviews TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror). Check it out here. 
[T]here’s something to be said for subtlety, for a kind of liminal intelligence that requires the reader to do the heavy lifting, to read in between the lines, to draw conclusions that may not be obvious ... This is the mode in which Benjamin Marra’s new graphic novel, “Terror Assaulter (O.M.W.O.T.),” operates. On the surface, there is nothing subtle about Marra’s work- this is a comic whose cover features a sunglasses-clad secret agent with a cigarette dangling from his mouth decapitating a chainsaw wielding barbarian with a samurai sword- but it’s this very lack of subtlety where the intelligence of “Terror Assaulter” lies. Marra plays on genre conventions, drawing from 80s and 90s action films and comics, in what is ultimately a profoundly thoughtful post-structuralist decoding of the social constructs of gender, authority and violence, and the ways in which these ideas collide within popular culture

Review | TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror)

Comics Alliance reviews TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror). Check it out here.
Fantagraphics' new version of Terror Assaulter: OMWOT is actually a full-length graphic novel expanding on a 32-page mini-comic that Marra put out last year — and that minicomic might be my favorite thing that he's ever done. Like all of Marra's Traditional Comics, it's an over-the-top tribute to the black-and-white boom of the late '80s, but OMWOT takes it a step further. It's the comic that the weird kid in your class would draw after half-watching an "erotic thriller" on cable in 1992, in the absolute best way, and the single greatest gag in the whole thing is that everyone — everyone — is constantly just bluntly stating what they're doing, as they do it, with no inflection or emphasis."

Review | TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror)

Broken Frontier reviews TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror). Check it out here. 
Nothing is spared in this searing and hilarious indictment of US foreign policy over the last decade, whether it be neocon philosophy, the state of American masculinity and sexuality or the male power fantasy in escapist entertainment.

Review | TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror)

The Onion's AV Club reviews TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror). Check it out here. Here's a quote:
A satirical graphic novel about America’s short-sighted foreign policy and the relationship between sex and violence in American male power fantasies... This preview just scratches the surface of the insanity Marra brings to the pages of this graphic novel, and readers can check out more of this twisted satire when Terror Assaulter (O.M.W.O.T.) hits stands at the end of the month.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror) Pre-Order

You can now pre-order your copy of TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror) from the Fangraphics website. Order it here: http://www.fantagraphics.com/terrorassaulter/

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

BLADES & LAZERS Collected Edition

video
BLADES & LAZERS is BACK!
Ian Harker and Sacred Prism are collecting the first two issues of BLADES & LAZERS into one over-size volume. Click here for the Kickstarter page to back the project.

Here's the details from the Kickstarter:
BLADES & LAZERS will be a collection of the original risograph series by Benjamin Marra published by SACRED PRISM from 2013-2014.
The new book will be 40 pages, 9x12 with an additional story by Benjamin Marra, a back-up story by Lale Westvind, as well as original pin-ups and supplemental material by various rad art-cartoonists.
Most rad of all will be the new printing format which will be 2-Color offset throughout with FLUORESCENT PINK and METALLIC BLUE spot colors!!!
So yeah, if you know about Benjamin Marra, Sacred Prism, etc you know this book will be sick.
The cost breakdowns roughly are:
60% - Printing/Freight
30% - Artist Compensation
10% - Distribution

Risks and challenges

75% of this book is already "in the can" so there is a very low likelyhood for delays, but it's always possible.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

SDCC Signing Schedule

I'll be signing at the Fantagraphics booth, 1718, during SDCC. Here's how it shakes out:
Thurs 7/9, 1-2 pm
Friday 7/10, 5-6 pm
Sat 7/11, 4-5 pm

I'll have copies of various books, plus my graphic novel, TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror).

SDCC SURPRISE | Advance Copies Of TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror)

Advance copies of my graphic novel, TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror), arrived at the Fantagraphics booth just in time for San Diego Comic Con International. I was informed this was a possibility, but didn't hope to dream.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror) In Previews

TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror) is in September Previews, and labeled “Certified Cool.” Place your orders, comic book retailers.

Monday, June 15, 2015

HEROES CON 2015


LOCATION
AA-1008
I'm sharing a table with my long-time Heroes-Con cohort, Matthew D. Smith.


FOR SALE
I'll have copies of TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror) and BLADES & LAZERS 2, plus some other surprises.. I'll also have a ton of original art for sale, including pages from my upcoming TERROR ASSAULTER graphic novel due out this fall from Fantagraphics. As always, I'll be doing commissions and sketches throughout the weekend.

PANELS

Friday
5:30 pm
Room 203A
EXPLOITATION
KEENAN MARSHALL KELLER (The Humans) will grill ED PISKOR (Hip Hop Family Tree), BENJAMIN MARRA (Night Business), JIM RUGG (Street Angel), TOM NEELY (The Humans), RICK SPEARS (The Auteur) and CHARLES FORSMAN (Revenger) about the influence of 70’s exploitation films on their comic art.

12:00 pm
Room 203B
SELF PUBLISHING
JOE MOCHOVE and RUSTY ROWLEY, your friends from the internet sit down with a group of creators who really walk-the-walk and have gone into business for themselves: RICH TOMMASO (Dark Corridor), MATTHEW ALLISON (Cankor), BENJAMIN MARRA (O.M.W.O.T.), JASON GONZALEZ (La Mano Del Destino) and CHARLES FORSMAN (Revenger).

Saturday, May 30, 2015

PANTHER GIRL Optioned by Channing Tatum

THE LEGEND OF PANTHER GIRL, the article written by Jeff Maysh about the life of Ann Casey, the professional wrestler known as Panther Girl in the 70s, and illustrated by myself, was optioned by Channing Tatum's production company 33 and Out.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Kingpin Problem | Thoughts on Marvel's DAREDEVIL on Netflix


The creators of Marvel's DAREDEVIL series, streaming on Netflix, missed an opportunity with the Kingpin character. Specifically with the character's origin.


Spoilers ahead:

During the arc of the show, we are shown glimpses from the childhoods of the hero, Matt "DAREDEVIL" Murdock, and his main opponent, Wilson "KINGPIN" Fisk. There are parallels to their upbringings. Hell's Kitchen is the neighborhood where they both grew up. There is a focus on their relationships with their fathers. Where Matt's relationship with his father is nurturing and loving. Wilson is a victim to his domineering, power-hungry father. Here is where the opportunity is missed.

The young Wilson is portrayed as a wimp. He's the fat, quiet kid. He's meek, a pushover. He's a victim. Wilson's father, Bill Fisk, abuses his wife and son psychologically and physically. Bill wants to become a local politician to gain wealth and power. Bill Fisk is a bully.

What would have been a more interesting choice would have been to swap the victim and bully roles of the son and father. Make young Wilson Fisk the bully and his father, the victim. Make Bill Fisk represent all authority which young Wilson would learn to dominate.
 
Put the moral center in Bill Fisk, making him the one with whom the audience empathizes but also thinks is pathetic. He would be a prisoner, trapped in his own home, living in fear of his child who would destroy him at any moment. Make young Wilson's mother, Marlene, an enabler of her son's evil behavior. Make her a woman, living in denial, who believes her only, precious, angelic son can do know wrong, who defends his worst acts. Make her give young Wilson his power. Make young Wilson into a demon, Adam Lanza, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who grew up and became an organized crime boss.

Why would this have been a better creative choice? For the following reasons:

1. It's less obvious
It's less obvious and more interesting to make young Wilson inherently evil, who feels power over his own parents, who are sniveling weaklings bowing to their child. It's a reverse of the expected family power structure. Also, abusive parents creating villains is incredibly well worn and boring.

2. It's an example of creators trying very hard to make a villain relatable and thinking the audience is dumb
Too often creators, especially in super-hero stories where the delineation between good and evil is absolute, are desperate to make the villain a fully rendered character. In order to achieve this they mistake understanding a character for relating to a character. As the audience, we don't need to relate to a character to understand them. Moreover, we don't need to see ourselves in a villain to understand them. Creators, in an effort to make their villains fully rendered and understood, try to make them relatable. And the way they try to make them relatable is by making them a victim, because we've all felt ourselves to be victims at one point. But we have also been in a position where we felt power, and maybe even held it over another. As the audience, we have the capacity to understand what it's like to be a villain with power. By putting the villain at an early age in a victim role the writers of DAREDEVIL have disrespected the emotional intelligence of the audience.

We don't need the villain to be relatable. We don't need to feel their pain as our own. We just need to understand what they want and why they make decisions to get it.

3. It would define Wilson Fisk's relationship with authority
Being able to instill fear in his own parents would give a basis for the adult Wilson Fisk's power over institutions of authority in society. It would give the character a sense of entitlement. He would feel it is his right to hold sway over government officials, the police, and other criminal organizations. He expects to hold power over those entities of authority.

4. It would define the Wilson Fisk's relationship with Vanessa
Make young Wilson enabled by his mother. An evil young Wilson could use his mother's affections to compete and hold power over his father. This would demonstrate how he sees women as objects to possess for purposes of status within power structures.

When adult Wilson courts Vanessa, we see it as a microcosm representing his ambitions to control the city. Vanessa is an object of beauty, like the city, that he desires to possess and control. We would understand how Wilson views Vanessa from his relationship with his mother.

It would also give motivation for Wilson to take care of his elderly mother. In her old age, she is an artifact from his youth. She was the one who gave him his power, allowed him to wield it, and protected him when it might destroy him.

5. It makes more sense for the villain
I saw Kurt Vonnegut speak when I was in college. In his talk, Vonnegut said something to the effect of, "Don't explain why your villains are evil. Just make them evil." He cited Shakespeare's Iago from OTHELLO. You never question why Iago is evil, he just is. His desire is to take down the king, Othello. He does so through underhanded and subtle means. It's not explained to us that Iago was beaten as a child, or he saw his mother beaten. Iago is Iago. The theory works for other Shakepearean characters. It's not explained what occurred in Macbeth's childhood that drove him to commit murder as an adult. It's his wife and his ambition that drives him. We understand it as an audience.

DAREDEVIL decides to tell the story of the villain as a child to give reasons for the character's decisions as an adult. But as it stands in the series, the young Wilson Fisk doesn't seem capable of the acts and rise to power the adult Wilson Fisk does without thinking. It is inconsistent. It would be more consistent to have young Wilson, a bully, enabled by his mother, beat his father, rather than have his father beat him.

In the show, young Wilson is berated and abused by his father. He finally uses his physical power to brutal effect. He kills his father while protecting his mother from a beating. This signifies Wilson's birth as the Kingpin. It's his only act of violence we're shown from his childhood. But it's done to protect his mother. The killing is justified. In the future, adult Wilson kills out of anger, or for business. It's not consistent with his young self's experience. It would be more consistent with the future, adult Wilson, to have him as a teen, beat his father routinely, until one day, over something inconsequential, he kills his father.
We gather the adult Wilson wants the same thing as his father: power. as a motivation to be better than his father. But it's difficult to reconcile where this desire manifested in his youth. If it was illustrated that he saw how he could manipulate authority in his father, how he could gain power within his family, it would give a basis for his future self's hunger for wealth and power.

UPDATE: Here's a quote from Robert McKee's book, STORY, (which I am a fan of though other might have their problems with it):
    Contemporary attitudes tend to favor mono-explanations for behavior, rather than the complexity of forces that's more likely the case.
    Do not reduce characters to case studies (an episode of child abuse is the cliche in vogue at the moment), for in truth there are no definitive explanations for anyone's behavior. Generally, the more the writer nails motivation to specific causes, the more he diminishes the character in the audience's mind. Rather, think through to a solid understanding of motive, but at the same time leave some mystery around the whys, a touch of the irrational perhaps, room for the audience to use its own life experience to enhance your character in its imagination.
    In King Lear, for example, Shakespeare cast one ofhis most com-plex villains, Edmund. After a scene in which astrological influences, yet another mono-explanation of behavior, are blamed for someone's misfortune, Edmund turns in soliloquy and laughs, "I should have been what I am had the maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardy." Edmund does evil for the pure pleasure of it.

5. It's not Tony Soprano
The Kingpin is kind of similar to Tony Soprano. They're both wealthy crime bosses. They're both big, bald, physically imposing men. They're both ruthless. In THE SOPRANOS, we are given glimpses into Tony's childhood. His father is a gangster, but mostly kind to his kids. His mother is an overbearing, anxiety-filled, toxic menace. Tony and his sister by and large are normal, good-natured, 60s-suburban New Jersey kids.
In DAREDEVIL, there's an opportunity to respond to the character of Tony Soprano. In making young Wilson an inherently evil child, or one who's nurtured into evil by a willing mother, you can set up a differentiation between the two similar characters.



-----------------

Essential scenes to construct the character's arc might include:

1A. Young Wilson demonstrates his power over the neighborhood kids. 
We come across a group of older kids bullying a group of kids for their lunch money. The younger kids are about to give up the money, but one kid shows up and defends the group, standing up to the group of bullies. During the confrontation, a much larger kid shows up (young Wilson). The bullies think he'll help them, but he beats them up and takes all the money the bullies have acquired. The one kid who defended the others is thankful, but young Wilson beats him up, too, then he beats up the other group of kids and takes all their money as well. What is essentially a microcosm of what would occur if Kingpin defeated Daredevil in the future, and the basis of his anger toward defenders of the weak. Establishes the character's dominance of those who would be dominant, as well as his disdain for the defenseless.

Challenge: Show how the weak as unsympathetic, as a worthwhile target, as an opportunity.

1B. A Young Wilson sees his father bullied and sees he can bully him as well.


2. Bill's fear of his son and Marlene's devotion to her son over her husband. 
Young Wilson is brought home after fighting a neighbor's son in school. Bill is afraid of his son, but tries to threaten him. He's quickly quieted by a stern look from young Wilson. Marlene jumps in, justifying her son's violence. The other kids should have been tougher. They started it after all. He was defending himself. Establish the power dynamic within the family: Young Wilson is the bully and center of power; Bill is the victim, dominated; Marlene is the enabler of young Wilson's behavior.

Challenge: Show Bill in the wrong and Marlene in the right.


3. Bill's fear intensifies.
From a window, Bill observes young Wilson, who doesn't know he's being watched, as he kills a neighbor's puppy in the street. It's the same neighbor who's son young Wilson fought in school. Establishes Bill's wariness of his son, the imposing doom of his son's presence and the vindictive nature of young Wilson.


Challenge: Shift Bill from being wrong to being right.

3. Young Wilson dominates his father. 
Too scared to sleep, Bill tries to talk with his wife about their son, but finds resistance from her. She either sees no problem or is in denial. She suggests Bill try to connect with his son.
Bill tries to get young Wilson to help with a household project. But during the work young Wilson become irritable and, when one of the tasks gives him the opportunity, he puts his father in a choke hold, almost killing him. But then young Wilson laughs, and says it was a joke. Ramps up the threat of his son.

Challenge: Show Bill as pathetic, as pitiful, deserving of abuse.

4. Young Wilson kills his father.
Bill gives young Wilson the wrong toy for his birthday. Young Wilson lashes out, berates his father. His father finally shows some tooth and shouts back. But that's all the trigger that's needed for young Wilson to kill his father. And he beats him to death with the toy. He sits down fully composed. Establishes the small, inconsequential things that can set off young Wilson (and the Kingpin). How violence, even against his father, is a solution to the most mundane problem.

Challenge: Make Marlene's choices understandable.

5. His mother protects him.
His mother, horrified, Bill's fear transferring to her, still helps to cover up the crime to protect her son. Establish link between young Wilson and his mother. One that will endure until they are much older. 

Challenge: Make bond understandable.

-----------------

In the end making the young Wilson a demon creates a scarier villain for the hero to face. Sadly, the creators of DAREDEVIL took the more obvious approach.


Monday, May 4, 2015

RBMA YARDCORE: BROOKLYN BASHMENT Poster Art

My poster art is up in the subway now for the RED BULL MUSIC ACADEMY dancehall concert, YARDCORE: BROOKLYN BASHMENT, in Fort Green Park, featuring King Jammy. For more info go here.

Monday, April 27, 2015

TERROR ASSAULTER Action Figures


Shane Wood, over at Eagle Eye Prime Toys, is creating an action figure for my upcoming graphic novel, TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror). Above and below are the different figure 3-D designs. At the bottom is the sculpt of the figures. Each will have the same body, but there will be three different figures, each with a different head. There will be O.M.W.O.T., FREEDOM WARRIOR CHAMPION, and LIZARD OVERLORD.



REVENGER Back Cover

This is my back cover for the first issue of Chuck Forsman's REVENGER. It's a great comic. I love that Chuck is doing some serious genre stuff. You can get digital copies and order print copies of REVENGER on Gumroad here. Chuck just started a Patreon page as well. Check that out here.

Check out the sketch below:

CAPTAIN VICTORY

This is one of the pages I drew for Joe Casey and Nathan Fox's run on Jack Kirby's CAPTAIN VICTORY for Dynamite. I did a flashback sequence of the character Argus Flane. It was a ton of fun to work on. Casey and I were going for a 70s, Steranko feel. The page was colored by awesome Brad Simpson.

Mixtape Cover | Bricc Baby Shitro NASTY DEALER

Here's the art I made for Bricc Baby Shitro's new mixtape, NASTY DEALER. You can listen to the whole album here. It's killer.

Here's the sketch after edits:

Monday, March 16, 2015

Danny Brown Shirt Sketches






Back in 2012 I worked on a shirt design for Danny Brown. It was going to be like an Ozzy Osborn 3/4 sleeve Heavy Metal shirt. Unfortunately it didn't manifest into reality ...

Saturday, January 3, 2015

TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror) and Fantagraphics


ANNOUNCEMENT

TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror) will be published as a graphic novel by Fantagraphics. It will come out in the fall of 2015. Below is the press release:

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Fantagraphics Teams Up With Benjamin Marra To Explode Your Head Off

JANUARY 2, 2015, SEATTLE, WA—Fantagraphics Books is proud to announce the acquisition of Benjamin Marra’s TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror), to be released in the Fall 2015 season. Cartoonist Benjamin Marra brilliantly satirizes America’s obsession with justice — and disinterest in consequences — via a highly stylized, hyper-masculine style that evokes 1980s independent comics and, to a lesser extent, the blissfully ignorant aesthetics of 1990s Image Comics like Todd McFarlane’s Spawn and Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood. Gushing with violence, sex, and international politics, TERROR ASSAULTER batters down the boundaries between psychedelia, political commentary, and aggressive expressionism.

TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror) is a graphic novel about a man on a mission for the greatest nation on earth: America! He must defeat Terror at all costs, as long as it leaves time for steamy dates with hot chicks. The man’s codename is O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror) and he is a walking punching fist, shooting gun, and fucking cock. He is the world’s greatest protector. He is a villain’s worst nightmare.

“Benjamin Marra’s comics have a real visceral energy to them that I find very alluring,” explains Fantagraphics Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds. “I’ve been a fan for a number of years and I’m glad my badgering him to do a book with us finally wore him down. In an era when torture has become a mere policy issue rather than a human rights abuse, sometimes you just need to underscore the absurdity of it all, and Terror Assaulter delivers in spades.”

“I’m beyond thrilled to have my first long-form comic book narrative to find a home with Fantagraphics, a publisher with an unparalleled legacy in the medium,” says cartoonist Benjamin Marra. “With TERROR ASSAULTER: O.M.W.O.T. (One Man War On Terror) I hope to create a story readers will never forget, alter American foreign policy forever and shatter human civilization. But let’s just say...I hope those who take the time to read it are entertained above all else.”

Benjamin Marra is the controversial and influential creator of the comic books  Night Business, Gangsta Rap Posse, The Incredibly Fantastic Adventures of Maureen Dowd (A Work of Satire and Fiction), Lincoln Washington: Free Man!, and Blades & Lazers. Marra has been compared to pulpy comics stylists like Paul Gulacy and Jim Steranko, as well as underground comix legends like R. Crumb and Spain Rodriguez, and even the Beat writers. His art is beyond the cutting edge; his work is in the cut itself.

Marra received a B.F.A. in Illustration from Syracuse University; studied in Florence, Italy; and earned his M.F.A. degree in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts. He currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, where he draws comics and is a designer for the MLB Advanced Media.