INTERVIEW: Konner Knudsen

For this installment of the Geeks OUT Comics LGBTQ spotlight we’re going to switch it up and speak with someone on the editorial side of comics, Konner Knudsen

Chris Allo: What drew you into wanting to work in the comics industry? What was the first comic or OGN that made you really see the power and potential of the medium?

Konner Knudsen: The passion I saw from creators in artist alley is what really drew me in to wanting to work in the industry. My passion is storytelling, and I consider it a privilege to get to help creators tell the stories they want to tell. 

That comic was Hellboy. Mignola’s work made me rethink how I want to tell my own stories.

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CA: So I came across you on Twitter, you’re very open about being queer, and you really want creators in the community to succeed. If at all, how has being queer informed your work, or how you edit a book or work with creators?

KK: This is a tough question. I would say that the treatment of other LGBTQ people in our industry drives me to do the best job I can. I suppose it also makes me more critical of non-LGBTQ creators’ portrayal of LGBTQ people, we exist and deserve strong representation not the slapdash tokenism or outright bigotry we have so often been subjected to in the past. 

CA: As someone who works in mainstream comics, what do you think the future of LGBTQ representation looks like there?

KK: I believe that representation will continue to improve in mainstream comics, where in recent years some of the best-selling work has been driven by or at least featured LGBTQ characters. Ideally, it will continue in the direction where our characters are not treated as props but as people. 

CA: You’ve worked on some really cool projects! Some of which are licensed: Aliens, Stranger Things, etc. What are the challenges of working with licensed content? What are the perks of working with licensed content?

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KK: I love science fiction and horror. I have an acute interest in stories that include elements from mythology and folklore…

All the Stranger Things books, Dragon Age: Blue Wraith (HC coming out August 19th!), and Giants (by the Valderama Bros). In particular, Death Orb by Ryan Ferrier and Alejandro Aragon is still one of my favorite creator- owned books that I have worked on, the team is as energetic and outrageous as their comic. Another is Berserk. I love manga and have really enjoyed getting to work on our new big beautiful deluxe editions!

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Recently I got to work on a fantastic new edition of Andrew MacLean’s ApocalyptiGirl and am absolutely in love with how it came together. Our designers did a killer job. I helped put together the sketchbook section and am abnormally proud of how it turned out.

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ApocalyptiGirl art by Andrew Maclean

There is often a large amount of responsibility attached to creating licensed comics. Fans expect a lot from us but we also need to keep the parent company happy. We are like kids playing at a friend’s house: we get to borrow their action figures and owe it to our friends to not break or scuff those characters in any way. The challenge is taking their toys on a compelling adventure without bringing them back with scars. I would say we do a pretty great job. The main perk of course is having those huge fan bases to make happy and hopefully draw them in to read other comics too.

CA: Aside from the licensed projects that you’ve edited, you’re also continuing the great tradition of supporting and publishing creator owned books that Dark Horse started so many years ago, which is amazing! Can you discuss any type of criteria you guys have for selecting creators or projects that you decide to publish? 

KK: The brilliant thing about Dark Horse editorial (in my experience so far) is that everyone here can pursue any project they want to do. From OGNs, to art books, to video game guidebooks, to reprinting historic anthologies like Creepy and Eerie, to first time creative teams with exciting new mini-series, to wild crossover comics such as Aliens vs. Predator. The criteria is that the editor believes in the project, and I think a lot of wonderfully creative things have come out of this loose format. Without the ability to tell you in detail, I can guarantee there are some more exciting books on the way. 

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CA: It’s promo time! Can you tell us about some of the creator owned projects you’ve worked on that will be coming out in the next year? Are there any particular projects/creators that stand out for you?

KK: Ooh spoilers! Man, I have quite a few books I wish I could tell you about but don’t want to spoil just yet. I am getting to edit some really exciting creator owned books with some amazing teams, and if I could I would shout them all out right now. I can tell you that more than half of the books I am bringing to Dark Horse are from queer creators. The “Expanded” edition of Grafity’s Wall by Ram V, Anand R.K. and Aditya Bidikar comes out in March. It is going to be beautiful and if you haven’t read it yet I highly recommend you check it out. In my humble opinion it is one of the greatest graphic novels of the decade (if not all time).

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CA: What can LGBTQ creators do to maximize our representation in the industry?

KK: Signal boost and reach out to your fellow LGBTQ creators, stay connected, keep relationships positive. Provide constructive feedback and push each other to make the best work you can! I have been honored to work with people who aren’t just excited to work with me but excited to introduce me to their friends and their friends work. Do more of that! Introduce your non-LGBTQ pros and fans to your queer friends’ work so that they are more visible. Those who have found success in this industry need to keep speaking up for fellow LGBTQ creators who are trying to break in. When someone appears to have “made it” keep supporting their work so they can keep kicking butt, and lift others up. 

CA: Is there something the comics publishing industry as a whole can do to get more people interested in reading queer content? If you were in charge of an all inclusive content company, what are some strategies you’d employ?

KK: I think the sales of queer comics and OGN’s have already proven the “Old Guard” (whoever they were) wrong about people not wanting to read queer content.  I think the challenging part of your question is separating “Queer Content” from “Not-Queer Content” The strategy I would employ is to have plenty of books that aren’t explicitly “Queer” make sure they have inclusive rep and that they treat that rep fairly. Queer people and BIPOC (*looks around the town square*) EXIST! They should be present in all forms of media. The other part of that equation is making sure to hire diverse voices and let them tell the stories they want to tell. Don’t pigeonhole them! Asking marginalized creators to only write about characters that share their identity is also bad (and something that happens too often).

CA: You mentioned really loving LGBTQ stories-can you tell us a few titles and creators that you feel do a great job of representing queer voices?

KK: Too many people to mention everyone!

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On A Sunbeam art by Tillie Walden

Tillie Walden: if you love comics and haven’t read any of her amazing OGNs you are missing out. MY favorite so far is On a Sunbeam

Mark Russell: what can I say? I feel that Exit Stage Left is simply one of the best comics DC has ever published.

Contact High by By Josh Eckert & James F. Wright is stunning queer sci-fi.

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Contact High words and art by Josh Eckert and James F. Wright

SO MANY PEOPLE: Terry Blas, David Booher, Joe Carallo, Rosemary V. O., Marie Enger, Bee Kahn, Mags Visagio. I could go on for days.

CA: What lesson or advice would you give to aspiring artists/writers? What is some practical advice you can give to someone pitching a story or submitting a portfolio?

KK: While pitching can be scary and time consuming, don’t stop everything to do it. Don’t wait for someone to give you permission to make comics, make your own. Print your own zines. Try your hand at webcomics. Write scripts and keep drawing and coloring and lettering. Put yourself out there, tell the story that only you can tell. 

Practical advice on pitching and etc:

Aim for Brevity. 

Be organized, confident, and respectful of other people’s time.

Your pitch pages will generally be the most important part. 

We need to see that you and your team know how to make a comic, which is something you have to show. 

CA: What do you wish you knew then that you know now when it comes to being an editor in today’s comic book industry?

KK: That most creators are a lot easier to talk to than I thought and that I shouldn’t be afraid of telling someone I want to work with them. Because sometimes (if you are lucky) they might want to work with you! 

CA: Who is your favorite existing queer character? Why?

KK: This is a super difficult question for me to answer. . . 

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Art by Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson

Lucifer, in so many iterations is painted as queer. DC’s Lucifer is great but my personal favorite is Luci from The Wicked & Divine. Rebellious, confident, too honest, full of answers and secrets. Too eager to be loved. I could go on.

CA: Luci from Wic/Div is one of my favorites as well! Thanks you so much, Konner!

Review: Hellboy never stood a chance in hell

When I finally went to college, I suddenly realized that I could pretty much do whatever I want since my parents weren’t around to tell me otherwise. This mostly translated into eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and as much as I wanted. Two semesters and four pants sizes later, I learned a valuable lesson: Just because I could doesn’t always mean that I should. Much like the end of my freshman year, the team behind Hellboy learned this lesson much too late.

Before I started writing this review, I tried to convince myself not to spend the whole time talking about how far superior Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy run was, but the more I think about it, the less I can keep that promise. The two previous Hellboy films were both PG-13, but even then they didn’t shy away from violence. You really can’t have Hellboy, AKA World Destroyer AKA Beast of the Apocalypse AKA the Right Hand of Doom, without there being some sort of fighting or destruction involved. Del Toro has never shied away from that, but in his films, he focuses on crafting a world full of whimsy and mayhem, and then has the brutality become a part of it. Where this new Hellboy goes wrong is that instead of having the violence and carnage being the result of the plot or story, the film treats it like it’s a character all its own.

Director Neil Marshall, who has brought us forgettable, over-stylized films like Doomsday and Centurion, give the Hellboy universe the same treatment. With it’s new, hard R rating, Marshall goes above and beyond to push the limits, but not in any constructive way. He mainly focuses on copious amounts of blood and more gore than you get from even the messiest slasher film. Where del Toro put an emphasis on the magical nature of the unseen world, Marshall tries to distinguish his film by focusing on the hellish aspect creating scenes of blood and dismemberment that would make even Spawn blush. This darker take would be a problem at all were it not for the seeming pointlessness of it all. For a few scenes, this corporal brutality works perfectly, but for most of them, it is literally overkill.

Perhaps it wouldn’t be such an eyesore if visuals didn’t look like something out of an early 2000’s film. The first Hellboy came out in 2004, and even it had visual effects that still hold up today. Everything from the CGI characters to the horrible animated blood and even the obvious green screen landscapes makes you appreciate the visual opulence of every single Fantastic Four film. Yes, even the unreleased 1994 Fantastic Four film was more appealing than this film. If it weren’t for the previous Hellboy films, we wouldn’t have a standard set for every subsequent film. Guillermo del Toro’s use of practical effects, magnificent creature design and use of make-up and prosthetics over CGI all make for an engaging cinematic experience whose attention to detail shows you just how much the filmmakers care about their film.

Really the only good character design in this new Hellboy is Hellboy himself, and much of that is because actor David Harbour does a good job in bringing him to life. His one-liners and nonchalant attitude embody the character well-enough to almost make up for the nonsense story that ultimately feels like it is filler meant to take you from one battle to the next. The performances are the most enjoyable part of the entire film, but aside from Harbour, the only other two people who breathe life into this film are Ian McShane and Sasha Lane, who play Professor Broom and Alice Monaghan, respectively. Even our main villain (aside from the filmmakers), Milla Jovovich who plays the Blood Queen, feels like she is just rehashing a mix of the other villains she has played in the past.

As a reboot for the Hellboy franchise, this film crashes and burns. With enough wanton gore and guts to drown a small island, it ends up getting lost in a sea of red. Great characters could have been enough to save the ill-conceived, lazy story, but even those were mostly hard to come by. Somewhere, Guillermo del Toro just finished watching this film and thought to himself, “They didn’t let me finish my trilogy for THIS?! To hell with them.” To hell with them, indeed.

Daniel Dae Kim in Hellboy Is Better, but Still Problematic

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Image courtesy of Gizmodo

Daniel Dae Kim will play Ben Daimio in the third Hellboy film, Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen, a role previously offered to obviously white actor Ed Skrein. To Skrein’s credit, he turned down the role, saying, in part, “[R]epresenting this character in a culturally accurate way holds significance for people, and that to neglect this responsibility would continue a worrying tendency to obscure ethnic minority stories…I have decided to step down so the role can be cast appropriately.” While Kim is unquestionably a better choice, he’s still not the best choice or even necessarily a good choice for a simple reason.


Captain Benjamin Daimio is Japanese American (and for anyone who hasn’t read BPRD, he’s also the grandson of the Crimson Lotus). Daniel Dae Kim is a Korean American actor who was born in Busan, South Korea and moved to the United States when he was two years old. He needed to relearn Korean for his breakout role as Jin-Soo Kwon in Lost.


Korea is not Japan. Japan is a large archipelago country that dates to prehistory and has a complicated relationship with the United States. Korea is a smaller peninsular country that has been the homeland from one to three kingdoms in the past, and is currently divided in two. They are geographically separate places with their own vastly different cultures, mythologies, languages, and histories. And the idea that there’s “no difference” must end. Sure, white people in this country might not be offended if they were mistaken for Irish instead of German, but see how that would fly in Europe itself. To act above such necessary acts of intelligence and sensitivity betrays one’s privilege.


In accepting the role, Kim said, “I’m excited to confirm that I’ve officially joined the cast of Hellboy…I applaud the producers and, in particular, Ed Skrein for championing the notion that Asian characters should be played by Asian or Asian American actors.” I don’t fault Kim for accepting the role. He’s a great actor, deserves his share of great parts, and has earned several awards. He has been vocal about the pay disparity between his white costars and himself on Hawaii Five-O.


I fault the Hollywood casting practices that have conflated the entire continent of Asia yet again. This is the casting equivalent of shrugging and asking, “Korean? Japanese? What’s the difference?”


It’s too bad casting directors didn’t think to call Ken Watanabe, Shun Oguri, Takeshi Kitano, Jin Akanishi, Takeshi Kaneshiro, or Toma Ikuta to portray Ben Daimio. If you think I had those names in my back pocket as some sort of “gotcha” tactic, they were simply the first six results of the Google search for “list of Japanese actors,” an action that took me all of two seconds, but was still too much effort for whoever is in charge of casting Hellboy. I would have used the results for “list of Japanese American actors,” but that includes three dead people and two women. As much as I would like to entertain the possibility of a female Ben Daimio, how awesome would it be to see Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Mortal Kombat) in the role?

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Image courtesy of IMDb

The notion of the Asian monolith has proven persistent and is just as harmful as any other racist stereotype plaguing POC actors. The Sanctum Sanctorum of Doctor Strange was supposed to be in Tibet, but the set designer settled on “P.F. Chang’s waiting area” instead of drawing on any particularities of any of the 48 countries that make up a continent larger than North America. I’ll probably still see Hellboy, but Hollywood can’t be congratulated for doing a better job when that “better job” still amounts to racism.