I’m back. Been busy with some stuff.
I ran a kickstarter for Speculative Relationships: Volume 2 with my pal Scott Kroll. We got funded! Here’s what it looks like:
We have some super awesome contributors in this one. Each artist is on their way to having amazing careers making comics and they all turned in mind-blowing stories. I’m so proud of the team and proud to say we have an amazing diverse group of creators telling unique heart-felt stories. There is a lot of scifi out there right now, which is great. But… A lot of it tends to fall into some of the same old tropes. Even the best stuff tends to focus on dudes fighting bad aliens or robots. Don’t get me wrong, that stuff is fine (I mean, Predator is one of my all-time favorite movies). But I feel pretty strongly that when a genre is en vogue, it’s important to take advantage of that to showcase ideas and creators that are under-represented within it. To that point, Isabella Rotman and I talked about diversity in comics a bit in this interview for Speculative Relationships:
I also really loved this thing that Ben Passmore (one of our contributors) posted:
I’m not a huge reader of Sci-fi or speculative fiction, in part because much of what I’ve come across is a thinly veiled narrative supporting some of the oldest oppressive ideas (colonialism, magic white dudes, ect.). Chunky young brown Ben wasn’t super into that, not because of some deep political analysis, but because I felt expected to be a magical white guy and that stressed me out. The comics in this anthology stray from this, sometimes a little and sometimes a lot, and it’s totally worth it for there to be narratives that are different in the word so that little chunky brown kids are less stressed.
We also did a bunch of interviews to promote the book. You can check them out here:
I feel really good about the results in the book and I can’t wait to get it into more hands once we finalize the printing.
I’ve done a few different things for some things. Here’s the line art for a pinup I did for Image Comics Dark Engine:
Which should be out soon-ish? And the final is in color.
And here’s a sneak peek at a secret thing I did for a new Dark Horse book by Donny Cates & Eliot Rahal:
I’m in another show at Third Coast Comics in Chicago this weekend. The show is themed ‘bad guys’ so I had to do an Apocalypse for that:
Here’s a logo I designed for the title page of Aaron Pittman’s cool scifi webcomic Grimfish (which you should read):
Somewhere in the last couple months I also did some Luther Strode fan art for fun:
VICTUS & KINSHIP
I haven’t forgotten about Victus and I assure you, the 4th issue is coming. Here’s some early sketching for the cover design:
I am posting 1 page from the series per week on my tumblr, to lead up to the release of #4. So if you haven’t read it yet, you can check it out there. Issues 1-3 are still for sale in my store as well.
Kinship is a project I haven’t talked about much yet. It’s a comic I’m writing with my brother Logan, and the incredibly talented Drew Alderfer is drawing it. We are putting together samples for a pitch. The series follows a group of native americans in the early 1600’s, who have to defend their village from a group of foreign bandits. We are taking a lot of queues from Seven Samurai and it’s really shaping up to be something special. Here’s a couple of Drew’s designs for the main good and bad guys:
I couldn’t be happier with the work Drew is doing and working with my brother on the script has been amazing. We really hope we can find a home for the series! It’s about time we see some native american heroes in comics.
Here’s some stuff that’s inspired me lately:
Tradd Moore is KILLING it on Legacy of Luther Strode
My friend Landis has been working on this book. His hatching is next level.
This Guillaume Singelin Metal Gear thing is drooooollll…
I really liked this new John Vestevich story.
There is a really cool show of woodblock prints from different religions at the Art Institute right now.
The clouds have been perfect in Chicago lately. So I’ve been taking a lot of pics.
I’ll try to get back on the wordpress horse. Thanks for reading!
Wow. I must admit, I was nervous about this whole Kickstarter thing. But we came, we saw, we GOT FUNDED! Seriously, I couldn’t be happier and more humbled by the amazing support from family, friends, and fans. We even overshot our goal by a bit, so I can actually pay the artists! Thanks to everyone who contributed!
If you missed it, we had tons of podcasts and video interviews we posted throughout the campaign. Now would be a great time to catch up on those if you missed them. I’m really proud of the artist interviews in particular:
I’ll probably do a longer post at some point about the whole process. But right now I just think I need a nap.
Man o’ man… so many conventions! I just finished my last show for the season this last weekend. It was a blast! I picked up so much great work at both TCAF & CAKE. Here is the lowdown:
1. Very Crowded!
2. Awesome excited attendees
4. Easily accessible after-parties
People whose comics rocked me:
1. Now officially my favorite show
3. Best Exhibitor List EVARRRRR!!!
4. EVEN MORE accessible afterparty! SO WELL PLANNED!
5. So many good conversations with other artists I love!
People whose comics rocked me:
It was awesome to get to meet new people and talk to some of my heroes. All in all, a great time!
Been posting stuff up in the twitters and tumblrs. Here’s a snapshot of some things…
And that’s all for now folks!
Woooo! Things have been busy. They still are, so I’ll just get right to it!
I was tagged in a blog tour recently by the amazing Beth Hetland and tasked with doing a post for the “My Writing Process blog tour”, answering 4 questions. Beth had been tagged by the talented Cara Bean before that. Here we go!
1) What am I working on?
Oh man… Ok…
– Victus # 3: This is the newest issue of my sci-fi, metaphysical, religious, relationship comic. It’s almost all pencilled!
– Speculative Relationships: The sci-fi romance comics anthology featuring some of my good pals that we are trying to get funded on Kickstarter (see more on this below). I am doing 2 stories for this, which I just finished yesterday! Oh and I’m co-editor with Scott Kroll.
– Upgrade Soul: I’m inking this amazing sci-fi iPad comic for Ezra Clayton Daniels. It’s a blast!
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I’d like to think that my work is different in that it’s not tied to the conventions of any one genre. With Victus, I’m attempting to create my own genre, which takes influence from theology, psychology, and philosophy, but also reflects aspects of sci-fi, action, and romance. I also try to bring in experimental elements which will hopefully expand the restrictions of any genre I work within. I hope that makes sense?
3) Why do I write what I do?
When I start any new project, it is usually because I need a vehicle to explore thoughts, ideas, and feelings I’m having. I usually say that I make comics so that I can understand something better. With my comic Gary, I wanted to gain more insight into how and why a serial killer exists and how that relates to my own experience and place in society. With Victus, I want to explore communication and connections to a larger universal nature. I rarely start writing something with an answer in mind. I write because I have questions.
4) How does your writing process work?
I can’t write scripts. I just can’t do it. I feel that if you’re making comics, you really shouldn’t start with just words or just pictures. So I find the process of writing a script counter-intuitive and out of place when making comics. Generally, I start a comic with random notes and drawings. These will be in sketchbooks, on my phone, on meeting agendas at work, etc. After I have a pretty large log of these ideas, I try to organize them in a google spreadsheet (words/ideas) and folders (drawings). I also start a project specific sketchbook at this point, where I will put all future content related to said project. Then I start zero-ing in on key scenes/images/dialogue and organizing them into some kind of order.
Once I have a vague big-picture of the project, I’ll start the first issue/book. I put together 8.5×11 sheets of paper folded in half and staple them, making a little blank book. Then I start thumb-nailing. As I thumb-nail, I write any words that I have figured out and plug in images from the sketchbook. Once I have maybe… 80% of the book thumb-nailed/written, I’ll start in on the “big”/”final” drawings. I guess what I’m trying to point out here is that I’ll start drawing the final comic with pretty significant gaps in the ‘story’. Since I think of my process as a meditation on an idea, I like to leave room for certain questions to be answered as I work and bring about new content. So I may not have certain lines of dialogue written until I’ve already drawn most of the first issue. I think this helps in cutting down on unnecessary dialogue or images, and figuring out what’s actually important. My writing process really doesn’t stop until I’ve filled in that final word balloon or inked that last line.
SPECULATIVE RELATIONSHIPS KICKSTARTER UPDATE
We have about two weeks left in the Kickstarter campaign for Speculative Relationships! In promotion of the project, we’ve been doing artist interviews and podcast spots. Here’s some o’that:
Scott Kroll Interview
Isabella Rotman Interview
And we’ll have interviews with me, Daniel Warren Johnson, and Mike Manomivibul up next week!
Scott and I were both featured on a couple podcasts too:
We are a little over 60% now, so we still need your help to get this thing funded. Check it OUT!
THINGS FROM MY DRAWING TABLE:
– that’s all for now!
WHOA! What a whirlwind of a couple weeks! So many awesome things to cover, so here we go:
CAKE was… awesome. I had a fantastic time talking to everyone who stopped by the table and meeting the other amazing artists that were tabling. Here’s what it looked like:
My table, in all its glory.
Table buddies! (with Beth Hetland).
It was great to finally get Victus out into people’s hands. If you picked up a copy, I’d love to hear what you thought of it! There were some new and old faces, and everyone was showcasing some great comics. There are so many and I’m sure I’ll forget some, so please forgive me. I’ll start with a snapshot of the books I picked up:
Here’s what’s up there:
Upgrade Soul: Ezra Clayton Daniels (check out the paper version of this digital comic. The story is phenomenal sci-fi)
Last Mountain: Dakota MacFadzean (table pal! gorgeous inks!)
Titus and the Cyber Sun: Lale Westvind (will melt your mind)
The Reverie #2: Malachi Ward (Malachi pretty much rocks it again)
Dear Dear & Sorry Sheets: Eroyn Franklin (‘slow core’ comics with no equal)
Tiger Beat Exclusive: Gina Wynbrandt (mega funny follow up to her first love affair with Justin Beiber)
King Crow Comics (and others): Scott Kroll (new to the scene, but super funny books)
Next World Over & Equilibristics: Ian McDuffie (these book are bonkers. I love it)
Roots: Mita Mahato (beautifully hand0crafted book)
Glamera & Werewolf anthology: Penina Gal & Betsy Swardlick (table pals!)
Dumb #1: Georgia Webber (amazing book about losing her voice)
Copulate & The Excorcist: Lyra Hill (of brain frame fame!)
Library: Marnie Galloway (Marnie told me this was a true story)
Depictions #2: R. Hendricks (of Stranger to Stranger!)
Dig: Isabella Rotman (I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: keep an eye on this creator!)
Hasty Pastry: Ali Cantarella (adventures in customer service)
1-800-Kravlox: Isabel Reidy (oh my oh my. silliness abound! 🙂
Fire Messenger: Penina Gal (the other side of having super powers)
Drag Bandits: Betsy Swardlick & Colleen Frakes
Whew… Lots of great stuff, as you can see! I also was able to see some other old pals: Sean Dove, Beth Hetland (table-mate!), Kyle O’Connell, Kenan Rubenstein, Emi Gennis, and many more! What cool comics did you get at the show?
The show was a success! The gallery was filled with some amazing artists and appreciators of art! Here’s a couple snap shots:
I pretend to know what I’m talking about as Marnie Galloway’s beautiful work can be seen adjacent to mine.
If you haven’t checked out the show yet, you still have some time. Head on over to Ugly Step Sister Gallery: http://www.uglystepsisterartgallery.com/
GARY: BOOK ONE on COMIXOLOGY!
Some folks have been asking, and it finally happened: Gary is available for digital download via the Comixology app! Click the link to download:
For now, only Book One is available. But Books Two and Three should be coming in the next few months. If you go download it, please take an extra moment to give it a rating, as that helps the book’s visibility on the site. And actually it’s worth mentioning, this is currently the only place you can get Gary: Book One, as I have sold out of the paper copies. The fine folks over and IGN gave the book a “B”, which ain’t bad either: IGN Comixology Reviews
So head over and check it out!
Justin and I did another episode of the Back Issues Podcast. We discuss the incredible All Star Superman, by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely. Just in time for the new Superman Movie, Man of Steel! Listen to us ramble & then subscribe:
I assure you, I’m plugging away on Victus #2. But don’t hold your breath. I’ll have some process pics soonish. In the meantime, Victus #1 is available at these fine retailers:
Graham Cracker Comics, Chicago (downtown)
Challengers Comics & Conversation, Chicago
Star Clipper, St. Louis
Thanks for reading all! And now your moment of Zen…
So, before I tell you how collaboration has saved my butt on multiple occasions, a couple announcements:
1. I’ll be speaking at the best comic book store in the country, Quimby’s, on May 30th at 7pm! I’m speaking as part of the Laydeez Do Comics series (I know I know, I’m not a lady). I’ll share the proverbial stage with Sarah Morton. These talks are always a lot of fun, so if you are in the Chicago area, I hope you can attend. I promise to share some juicy secrets! Here is the info:
2. As this post is about collaboration, I think it fitting to announce that I’ve had the privilege to collaborate on a podcast with the amazing Justin Fah of In This Issue Podcast. It’s called Back Issues. On the show we analyze older comics that we’ve always wanted to read, or always loved, or know to be essential. First we did Green Lantern: Willworld. Our lastest episode is focused on the classic X-men storyline ‘Days of Future Past’. You should subscribe to the show In This Issue Podcast on itunes or listen directly on their website:
Now, on to the meat!
So… I always wish I could do everything myself. That’s cuz I’m dumb. One of the areas I struggle with the most is graphic design. It’s an area that folks that who self-publish often under-utilize or ignore. It’s unfortunate, because I think it keeps their (my) work out of a large number of consumers hands. We live in a world saturated by design. As Steve Jobs said, ‘design matters’. Very true. No matter how much your comic rocks, if you can’t put it in a package that communicates that the work is professional, you’ll have a hard time selling it.
Since I struggle so much in this area, I often lean on my friends for help. In particular, I know this dude named Gerald Proctor. Gerald is a college buddy that has quite a talent for graphic design and all things digital art related. I got to know him through many a long night of Halo death matches in the dorms (yes I’m a nerd). The first time we collaborated was in college on a poster for my comic Simon. I gave no specific direction, so Gerald brought his own style to the piece:
It was really exciting for me to see someone take a concept like Simon, that up to that point only I had done, and explore it in their medium. Years later, Gerald helped design the cover for my Simon 10 year collection:
I’m fairly sure this cover has helped in me selling out of the first printing of the Simon Collection. Now, to the untrained eye, this cover might not look too complicated. Which, honestly, is the beauty of it. It just works and you see it as another piece of fitting design. The same way you see a book on the stands of any bookshop and just ‘get it’ at first glance. Now, without Gerald’s help, the cover would have turned out much different. To give you an idea of how bad this cover would have been if I had created it solo, here are some of my cover designs before Gerald joined the project:
Pretty bad, right? That’s because DESIGN IS HARD. Gerald used texture and subtle color to accentuate the feeling the black and white line art had. This was much more effective than just simply coloring the cover in a traditional style. Not only that, but this design adds to the feeling that this book is a collection of work over time. You get a sense of history when seeing the cover, which is exactly what a collection of 10 years of comics should feel like.
Gerald also helped give cohesion to my Gary series:
When looking at the series as a whole, it becomes even more obvious how consistent and direct design helps in catching the eye of potential buyers. Gerald also created the interior layouts for the Gary series. Picking font families, alignment, and page placement is not as intuitive as it might seem to the layperson. It requires a keen eye for detail, and a knowledge of the language of graphic design.
Collaboration is not always easy. Gerald and I tend to disagree about almost everything when working on a project. But I’m a firm believer in “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” The disagreements lead to discussion and honest critiquing of what’s working or not working within the piece. Hopefully, after the dust settles, you have a great piece of design in your hands.
Gerald continues to be a monster of a digital artist. I highly recommend you check out his gallery of work on Society 6:
I particularly like “If I walk to you”.
I plan to do another post about collaboration soon, delving into some other working relationships. I’ve had the chance to work with some amazingly talented people. Most recently, my brother Logan and I collaborated on a new Simon comic. It went so well, we are already working on another. And of course, John Wright and I are still working on our epic cage fighting comic NUMB:
I’ll leave you with a sneak peek at 6 pages of Victus #1:
Holy cow, folks! What a weekend! Stumptown Comics Fest was fantastic! Thank you to everyone who came by to show support or purchase some books from the amazing artists exhibiting. Before I launch into Stumptown details, a couple quick announcements:
I have started a (hopefully) ongoing podcast with Justin Fah of In This Issue Podcast, where we analyze older comics that we find interesting or declare “must read’s”. The first one was released this week. Check it out as we discuss Green Lantern: Willworld, drawn by one of my favorite artists, Seth Fisher. Click below or subscribe to In This Issue podcast on iTunes:
REVIEWS & SUCH
Those fine folks over at Spandexless saw fit to finish up the Gary series with another kind review:
They also took the time to explore one of my older Simon comics, “Mercy”
Now on to the wacky exploits at STUMPTOWN…
Manning the table with me was my trusty sidekick (and younger brother) Logan.
He also helped create the newest Simon comic, which we had available at the show.
I did a few throughout the weekend, including this Simon piece.
I’d like to think this is just our first collaboration.
Speaking of Brandon Graham, I geeked out at how he one-upped Simon Roy’s signature on my
Prophet TPB. Farel Dalrymple also added his own touch. Dirty fellows.
including Mr. Jack Bracken, who did this wonderfully racy poem for me.
Reid Psaltis took a time out to show me around Portland’s very own IPRC. Cool joint!
And of course, there was much food and drink to be had. From left to right/top to bottom:
Broder, Pacific Pie (x2), Little Big Burger, Biwa, Blue Star Donuts, Lardo’s, Teardrop, more Blue Star.
Not pictured: Bunk, Luc Lac, Pine State Biscuits, Wurst
I’m not great about taking pictures, so you’ll have to look through the Stumptown Tumblr to find more shots of me and other exhibitors.
In the 11th hour, I was invited to participate in the famous Art Battle at the Stumptown afterparty, hosted by Ezra Clayton Daniels! My team was doomed to lose as we were the ‘away team’ vs. the Portland home team. But we gave it our best shot, fighting through language barriers (I’ve never had to explain auto-erotic asphyxiation to a frenchman before), shake-weights, and insults. Really, I thought including Robocop in our G.I. Joe team drawing would ensure our win. But hey, it was all in good fun.
I had an awesome trip. Special shout out to The Con Crew: Josh Shalek, Neil Brideau, Reid Psaltis, Kenan Rubenstein, & Jack Bracken. Finally all of us in one place! Couldn’t ask for a better group of creators to share a convention with. Also it was great to see the incorrigible Beth Hetland, the lovely Nomi Kane, and the edgy Ezra Clayton Daniels.
I have some BIG announcements coming in my next post. So stayed tuned next week for the details!