Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

‘Section Zero’ on Kickstarter: Kirby Meets X-Files by Kesel and Grummett

Section Zero cover
The original cover of the first issue. Which I think is the only issue I have from the original run. Spooky cool!

I saw recently on another site that the Image/Gorilla comic Section Zero is being Kickstarted in order to get the series reprinted.  I believe that’s the last Gorilla comic that hasn’t had some sort of reprinting yet, and from what I could recall, I enjoyed the comic.  I wanted to highlight it here and chat with Karl Kesel about the Kickstarter campaign so that you folks knew about it and could consider contributing.  Thanks to our pal John Trumbull for providing me with the initial point of contact for Mr. Kesel!

Section Zero Karl Kesel
How can you not like a dude with a picture of robots in his office and who wears a Star Trek tiki shirt?

Greetings, Karl Kesel, and welcome to the Atomic Junk Shop!  For those who haven’t read Section Zero ever, or people like me who read it years ago, can you give us a quick explanation of the book’s premise?

The elevator pitch is: Jack Kirby does the X-Files. Imagine if Mulder was more like Indiana Jones, Scully was more like Doc Savage, and the Lone Gunmen were a Gray Alien, a sea monster, and a Bug-boy. And instead of walking through dark buildings with flashlights they crash through windows and kick down doors with cool Kirby guns and a mystic samurai sword. Then throw in lost civilizations, the Loch Ness Monster, changelings taking over a daycare… you get the idea.

Section Zero 70s
The Section Zero team from the ’70s.

Can you tell us a bit about how you and Tom developed the series and if you had it in mind before Gorilla Comics started or if the development of that imprint at Image led you to coming up with a book like this?

My two favorite mainstream comics are the Fantastic Four and Challengers of the Unknown— so it’s no surprise SECTION ZERO is a hybrid of the two in many ways. Add to that my life-long fascination with the strange and unknown— there are so many cool, unbelievable things in legend and folklore that would make great comics, yet have not really been explored. So out of all that, SZ was born. Tom was always my first choice as collaborator, and he brought more than just his drawing pencil to the table. He created Sargasso, he added Sam Wildman to the mix— arguably the two most important characters in the first story, as it turns out! But we had the team— in various incarnations— well before Gorilla came into existence. But once they offered us a spot in their line-up, there was no question what book we’d be doing.

Section Zero Tom Grummett
Section Zero’s Tom Grummett

How did everything come together at this point so that you and Tom were able to clear your schedules in order to finish out the stories for this volume?

“Clear our schedules” isn’t how I would put it— we never have clear schedules! We just decided to do it, plain and simple. How it fits into our schedules is something we want to have to worry about! That’s the story of a freelancer’s life…

This is a fairly reasonably priced Kickstarter, with the printed trade a mere 25 bucks.  Even the print from Adam Hughes is only an extra 20 bucks (if I’m reading correctly) when added in to certain pledges.  Obviously that means you need more backers to reach your goal, though.  [not really a question, but if you’d like to comment, I suppose….]

You’re making me thing we priced things too low! And all this time I thought we were fairly competitive…

Well, probably better to not overprice things, and of course people can pledge more if they want to! My point is that there is a lot of cool stuff available for a reasonable price, so people have no reason not to pledge!

Section Zero dummy copy
This is what the book may look like, if YOU contribute!

What led you to decide that getting a tattoo of one of the symbols associated with the book was a good idea 😉 ?

The idea of a tattoo has always appealed to me— for the longest time I joked about getting a heart with the word “Mothra” across it ;-)— I just needed the right image and the right reason. I can’t think of any better way to literally mark our success than to get a commemorative tattoo. Quite frankly, I’m hoping to do more Kickstarters in the future— and get a tattoo for each successful one!

You just want to try to turn into a bug, don’t you? 😉

Section Zero tattoos
One of these images will go on Karl Kesel’s body if this Kickstarter is successful!

Another fun reward is that you guys are going to include the likenesses of certain backers, and one person is actually going to be a full-fledged member of the team.  Was that an idea you’d seen with certain other comics that sounded like a fun way to include the backers more intimately?

I’d heard from other creators that people responded well to that sort of reward— and they’re right! It’s proved to be quite popular. And I think it’s a great, fun idea that really personalizes the whole experience. And if you can’t afford that reward— well, everyone who pledges will be listed on our page of Alleged Section Zero Supporters!

The Gorilla Dossier envelope of mini-prints has artwork by the great Gorilla artists that is inked by you, and even includes one by (the late great) Mike Wieringo.  As I understand it, these aren’t inked yet, so where did the ‘Ringo art come from?  Are the other prints new art by the Gorilla artists?

[There’s a post elsewhere on the net] about the Ringo art.  [Spoiler: it’s a reworked Krypto sketch.] George Perez and Stuart Immomen have both done new art for the Dossier. Barry Kitson will, too— he just needs to find time in his busy, jet-set lifestyle! 😉

The book will include pinups by other fantastic artists, including Walt Simonson, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Kelley Jones, Jerry Ordway, and others.  I know you’ve worked with some of those artists before, were others just fans of Section Zero and wanted to contribute?

Matthew Clark was the only artist to approach us— and I was honored and flattered and accepted instantly. The others I reached out to, cold-calling via email a few (like Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez) whom I’d never met before. I can’t begin to say how thrilled and touched Tom and I are by all these people’s generosity in helping us out. I mean— Ben Caldwell? One of the most talented artists out there today, you ask me. Chris Samnee? Every day of my life I wish I drew like that man. John Paul Leon? A master! Terry Dodson? Well, okay— he owed me, but still… And Dave Gibbons? Can you believe we actually got the guy who drew Watchmen?!? Neither can we!

Well, you and Tom Grummett are no slouches yourselves, but that is a great pinup lineup!

Section Zero pinup artists
Lookit alla them sweet pinup artists!

I see on the Kickstarter page that this is the first planned book from your and Tom Grummett’s Panic Button Press.  Are there any books you can hint about that you’re planning (beyond more Section Zero after this collection), so that people realize what they’ll miss out on if they don’t support this one?

Well, it’s more my Panic Button press than Tom and mine— although Tom is more than welcome to put that name on any creator-owned project he works on. I’m hoping to do any number of creator-owned projects through Panic Button. After SECTION ZERO, I’d probably do a similar project collecting and finishing off some stories I’ve worked on over the years featuring a character of mine named JOHNNY ZOMBIE. And a second SECTION ZERO book— all-new this time— would probably be next in line. After that… Well, I have plans. In fact, lately I’ve felt a lot like Kevin Bacon in that classic movie Tremors— near the end, with him running straight toward a cliff with a home-made bomb in one hand and an angry graboid monster on his heels, shouting out “I’ve got a Goddamn plan!”

Yeah. That’s exactly how I feel lately.

Well, I wish you the best of luck with the Kickstarter, because I’m planning to pledge myself, and I want to see this book, and any and all books you or Mr. Grummett have planned in the future.

Thank you very much for your time, Karl Kesel!

And make sure you guys check out the Kickstarter for Section Zero!  The video is great and includes a lot of cool comics creators in it!  (All images, except for the original cover from the GCD, are screenshot by me from the Kickstarter page, and of course TM and C Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett.)


  1. Jeff Nettleton

    Jeez, I would have never figured Karl Kesel for a Kirby fan (sarcasm meter explodes). After I launch my hostile takeover of DC, I want to see if I can convince him to do a maxi-series with all of Kirby’s kid gang characters. he handled them and the Jimmy Olsen characters beautifully.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.