I’ll put this out there: I love helping out emerging creators and giving advice where I can. I’m by no means an expert in the field, but I certainly have career experience and have been through many parts of the process that newer creators have not. I’m very available — my email is public, my podcast has a voicemail line, I’m active on Twitter and Tumblr; the point is, it’s not hard to throw questions my way, and more often than not, you’ll get an answer in a timely fashion.
I think it’s imperative that we pay it forward as a community and help each other out whenever possible. I was helped — still am — by creator friends that have been down the path before me, and I feel comfortable reaching out to them for advice or to address concerns about something going on in my career (and sometimes: life).
But asking for advice and asking for favors are two very different things. I read friends’ comics all the time. I love it. I love reading things in their early stages and offering my input. And they do it for me. Like most writers (of any medium), I have friends and loved ones that I trust to read shit and give me honest feedback. It’s invaluable and something I recommend for anyone to have.
I’ve also introduced friends and collaborators to people that they should know, and have had the same done for me, but these are actual in-the-flesh friends and people that I have a positive working relationship with. That’s “networking.” That’s how these sorts of things go. Engage in the community, be a part of it, and get to know people on a level deeper than “who can do something for me?”
I’m so pleased to say that Pawn Shop, by me and Sean Von Gorman, is being published by Z2 Comics this fall, as announced by Publishers Weekly earlier today.
The book is currently available for pre-order on Amazon and at your local book and comic stores. If you were a Kickstarter backer or purchased one of the self-published editions from us at some point, your support means the world! If you enjoyed it, we’d love if you could continue spreading the word and get your local shops to order a copy or just tell a friend!
Spoilers for Game of Thrones. And early ’90s Superman comics, I guess.
Death in stories is important. Or at least, it should be.
Coming from comics, we’re used to death being a revolving door. Heroes and villains die frequently and eventually return. It’s part of the tapestry that makes superhero comics what they are. The impact of these deaths, when done well, is a source of great drama and character exploration. Their purpose is to reinvigorate the ongoing stories with a new status quo and open up new paths of storytelling. Likewise when the same characters return.
The most well-known example — and the best, I would argue — would be the death of Superman. By 1992 Superman had become sort of passe, an optimistic character in a pessimistic world. In an era of things like Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, Superman had become almost anachronistic. The public’s wants seemed to be shifting, and this was reflected in Hollywood as much as in comics. 1987 delivered the ill-conceived and repugnant Superman IV: The Quest for Peace — an abysmal flop — while the grittier Dark Knight found smashing success in Tim Burton’s Batman only two years later. The era of the morally upstanding hero was done, it seemed, and the ’90s ushered in the era of the anti-heroes and grim avengers. More brooding, more bullets, more blood.
I’m by no means a financially successful writer that should be giving any sort of contract advice to other comic book creators (though not for lack of trying), but I think it’s important for us all to share our experiences with these things and there’s far too little of it in the community (if you want great legal info on contracts from a creator-POV, check out Charles Soule’s posts on the subject; the man is a talented writer as well as a lawyer).
So, I’ve done a few things here and there: some work-for-hire for publishers I love, some work-for-hire that I wish would disappear forever and burn in Creative Hell, creator-owned books with indie publishers and creator-owned books self-published with the help of Kickstarter. I’ve done work I’m proud of (except for the aforementioned stuff burning in Creative Hell) and have plenty more in the works.
More recently I’ve been collaborating with the amazing Joe Badon on a science-fiction project that I’ve been pitching as CHEERS meets BLADE RUNNER, called SPEAKEASY. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, Joe’s art is stunning and weird, and pretty much every publisher has passed on it. And that’s totally okay. The style is definitely outside of the mainstream wheelhouse, and coming from two no-names, I get it. We did, however, have a long (year-long, in fact) conversation with a smaller publisher about getting it out there, possibly this summer/fall. I’m not going to say who because it really doesn’t matter. They put out books that I really like and I would’ve been happy to work with them.
SPEAKEASY art by Joe Badon
Over two years ago, I posted a piece calling out some severely inappropriate behavior by a comics retailer in my home state of MA. While I can’t say if his behavior has changed at all during this time, I can say that we followed through on the promise I made in that post — that we’d put together an anthology that uses comics to fight the type of bullying that, unfortunately, happens even within our own community of creators, retailers, and readers.
With the help of my co-editors Adam Pruett, Erica Schultz, and Kristopher White, we assembled an elite comic-book-making team ranging from superstar A-listers to exciting up-and-comers that donated their time, effort, and creative juices to create an anthology that we’re proud of with a variety of different styles and a theme that unites. It’s been a long, hard road to make this book a reality, with conversations with nearly every comic publisher you can think of, but we’re blessed to have teamed up with Northwest Press to get this book out the door.
A RISE cover by Sean Von Gorman
NWP launched a Kickstarter last month that ended yesterday — exceeding its goal of $10,000. The money was to cover printing costs to distribute these books to our partner organizations so they can give them away for free at schools and events. Our partners were also instrumental over these past two years of getting this thing together — GLAAD, Stand for the Silent, and PRISM Comics — and we can’t thank them enough.
So to everyone that kicked in or spread the word, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. This project has been a labor of love (and oftentimes a mountain of stress) for everyone involved, but knowing that people supported a project like this — getting it into the hands of kids for free — is amazing.
Head on over to the Kickstarter updates to see some of the stories that we’ve posted for a free sample!
Filed under blog, comics, news
Valiant Comics has been doing these great anniversary spectaculars for the 25th issues of their books, and I’m happy to say that, as announced at NYCC’s Special Edition over the weekend, I’ll be featured in Archer & Armstrong #25 on sale in October.
As you can see, there are a great many names involved, and I’m super excited to be a part of it. Here’s the full press release and solicitation info:
Filed under art, blog, comics, news
Only two days left on the Footprints: Bad Luck Charm Kickstarter, and we’ve already explored the behind-the-scenes of Pages 1, 2, 3, and 4… onto Page 5!
This page is pretty straightforward. The only real deviation from the script is panel 5.3, which originally called for a medium shot or so of ‘Resa placing her bet. Smartly, Jonathan conserved space and changed it to a close-up with an off-panel balloon. It just wasn’t necessary to show that many details, not when the location has already been firmly established and we can infer what she’s doing from the context of the scene and her dialogue. Great example of an artist being economical with space.
We’re only a few days from the end of the Footprints: Bad Luck Charm Kickstarter, so I’ll be posting the remainder of these behind-the-scenes pieces this week! We’ve looked at Page 1, 2, and 3, so onto Page 4!
Jonathan more or less rendered this page as I wrote it aside from two notable changes: he added a panel that helps build the suspense of the gambling and he chose a different angle for that last panel, which definitely works better (and is less complicated) than what I wrote. But the thing I love about this page is something that you can’t see from comparing the script to the final art — you’d have to be privy to our emails back and forth to have any idea about it.
‘Resa’s line in the last panel, “Cash in your winnings and never come back” is a nod to one of the greatest movies of all-time, Casablanca. But it wasn ‘t written in the original script that way; it was originally just “Oh, Devil…” as she tried to grab his attention. Continue reading
Since we’ve looked at pages 1 and 2 so far, I figured we might as well go the rest of the way and check out the remaining four pages of the Footprints: Bad Luck Charm story. Whereas Page 2 takes a lot of liberties from the script in terms of what Jonathan did with the art, Page 3 is a great example of how Adam’s lettering really helped the flow of the story in a significant way.
You’ll notice that Adam shifts the balloons around a bit, most notably Devil and ‘Resa’s lines as scripted in 3.2 to 3.1 and Devil’s line as scripted in 3.6 to 3.5. While the moves might have been related to space issues within the panels, they both help punctuate particular moments that would’ve been lost under dialogue otherwise.