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Anthony Cleveland’s Mini Review Roundup!



Sometimes you just don’t have time to read a bunch of reviews and choose which great Indie Comics you’ll get into next, and when that happens, Anthony Cleveland has got your back and some great picks! It’s Mini Review time!


1. EELMAN CHRONICLES

I fucking love Eelman Chronicles.  There it is; Out of the way. 

There’s just so much heart and thought into this low-fi DIY comic. Eelman Chronicles is Chris Spalton’s (writer & illustrator) retellings of his father’s stories from being..well..an Eelman– someone who catches eels for a living. The stories are about his father’s bizarre run-ins on the job and about his town as a whole. Each story is fun and usually pretty absurd at times–and they stick with you! 

Chris is in the process of putting together a collected volume now, so follow him on social and keep an eye out for updates!

Rating

5/5


2. GUNPOWDER WITCH

What drives me crazy the most about the superhero genre in comics is its lack of originality. If I crack open a superhero book it’s usually because there’s some new ideas that were able to pull me in– for example: Gunpowder Witch’s original pitch. 

Gunpowder Witch ( great title, by the way ) has a very simple question: “What if the accused in the witch trials in the early American colonial era were actually superhumans with powers?” It’s X-Men meets the Crucible in this alternate timeline and it’s a blast! 

There’s a very simple art style here that matches well with the story and the characters are impossible not to connect with. At about 150 pages, it’s a great ride that is well worth your time. Pick this one up!

Rating

5/5


3. TALES FROM DREAMSPACE

While perusing CXC’s horror comics I came across Tales From Dreamspace. The $0.00 price tag made it an easy pick up and I was in the mood for an anthology.

 The horror anthologies I liked as a kid were the ones that were a bit more grudgier and left you feeling that icky horror feeling long after you set the book down

 Several of the stories in Tales from Dreamspace this hit that mark. There’s also few that have classic horror reveals and reversals that feel familiar with the EC horror comics. I was impressed with some stories that committed to challenges like: “How to make a bathroom rug scary?”

 Sprinkled throughout are mini-stories, quotes, and short narratives. It has a feel closer to a digital horror zine than to a classic horror comic you’d find in the backroom of a comic shop. –By no means am taking away points for it being a digital horror zine, but some of the stories didn’t hit the ball as hard as the others and the payoffs didn’t match the stronger narratives.

 Regardless, the stronger stories make it well worth a full read, especially if you’re a horror fan looking for a free and fun fix.

Rating

3/5


Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe to “the Pulse” for indie Comics new, CXC Updates and more great articles and reviews from Anthony Cleveland.


After decades of lurking the backroom of his beloved comic shop, Anthony Cleveland released his first comic Silver Skin issue #0 in 2017. He spends most of his time tweaking his upcoming projects, reading an unhealthy amount of horror shorts, and slaving away at his day jobs.

Twitter & IG @ant_cleveland







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Canada Bear #’s 1 & 2 [Review]


Canada Bear #’s 1 & 2

S & P Comics
Creator and Penciller: Paul Farris
Writer and Letterer: Sean Wilson
Inker: Carlos Azevedo
Reviewer: Rob Wrecks


After reading this, I am so, so, SO glad I saw ComixCentral on Twitter promoting this comic.

I’m even gladder I reached out about potentially reviewing it as well cause this was highly enjoyable for me. To the point it had me laughing over the goofy silliness that’s contained within the pages of these two comics. And any team that can get you laughing more than once over their comic’s events is a team that deserves an award in my humble view. I’m curious if Paul Harris and Sean Wilson have any Canadian roots or if this is just something they chose to do for the heck of it. Or perhaps out of a love for Canadian culture and admittedly, I found more amusement then I should have in the use of the word ‘Eh’ that are found throughout these first two issues. Now Canada Bear is something I probably coulda passed on to Derrick considering his love for stuff involving animals that talk and the like, but then that would have meant I wouldn’t have found so much joy within Canada Bear’s pages. Who is a legit bear who ended up changed thanks to the Canadian Government.

Even if it wasn’t something they were intending on during their (to me anyway) oddball war with the Swiss! Our furry hero can talk, fly, be super strong, and is invulnerable. Kinda like Superman but, you know, furrier and a bear! Canada Bear would be perfect as a cartoon for kids, teenagers, and adults to enjoy together as it’s not something that’s meant to be taken seriously. No, its just meant to be taken as something to enjoy. Or at least that’s how I view what Paul and Sean are doing here. The art and the coloring definitely help sell the idea of this being something for all ages to enjoy. I’m curious just how aware the Canadian Government is of what happened with our furry hero and just what exactly was in that bomb of theirs to change him like it did! Fairly certain though they now know to thoroughly check the land below them for any flight paths they take! Whoever Blue Jaw is talking too at the end of issue one is something I hope we don’t have to wait too long to find out about. Though it’s bound to be amusing either way when the mystery person and Canada Bear tie into it.

Unless of course, Paul and Sean choose to make the whole thing quite seriously. And in issue two, we get to see our furry hero take on a trio of bank robbers. Whom you wouldn’t think would be able to accomplish much considering what two of them are wearing for masks! It’s amusing however with what the leader thinks of Canada Bear, amusing but also an understandable thing given his line of thinking where the big furball is concerned! I’m not necessarily sure you would see this kind of silliness in a Marvel or DC book these days, especially the lengths we would be the leader of bank robberies goes too in order to get what he thinks is a mask from a certain furball. I would love to go on and on about this title from S & P comics, but that would ultimately spoil things for you readers and that’s the last thing I want to do. As this is something that should be enjoyed by many as much as possible due to the highly amusing fun things that go on in these first two issues. Which makes me curious as to how Paul and Sean are gonna top it with the third issue!

Will the ‘Salmon’ prevail where others have tried and failed? I have no idea but I can’t wait to find out!

You can buy Canada Bear issues in the SP ComicShop right here.


Known as Rob Wrecks, and due to a love for Independent titles that was born from an earlier start of reviewing comics for InvestComics. IndieComiX came into life from that love in 2012 and has been a-rockin’ ever since! Can reach him here and read more of his reviews and more on indiecomix.net


 




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RAGS: Prologue [Review]

RAGS: Prologue [Review]

Written by: Brian Ball, Trent Luther, and Liz Finnegan  |  Art by: Luigi Tereul  |  Reviewer: Rob Wrecks


The RAGS Prologue (Preview?) is something I’ve been meaning to share my thoughts on awhile now but haven’t done so.

RAGS is; if you haven’t seen previews and the like from the Twitter page, along with anything ComixCentral (Love that bunch!) has shared about the title, a fun-filled Zombie genre comic. Now in this preview, we don’t know what caused the dead to start being a huge problem and that’s okay as that’s probably explored in the full-on comic and its follow up issues. Unless Brian Ball, Trent Luther, and Liz Finnegan choose to keep that a mystery.

I like that there’s little color to be found in this comic, aside from the main character’s Redhair (Gotta love a Redhead!) her tattoos, and a couple of other areas – I won’t mention here. Our Redhead, one Regina Ragowski, who’s also a Marine Veteran, seems to be in something of a pickle. Then again, most would be when on their own and trying to avoid being Zombie dinner!

Now what baffles me about this preview is the fact that the lovely Regina is running around for dear life in nothing but her underwear. Why that is, isn’t exactly touched on, but in a way adds a nice touch of realism as one isn’t always gonna be dressed during a bad situation. Much like a certain couple once found out back in the day in Predator 2.  I could have done without the censorship once she loses her top, however. Now I’m not saying this cause I want to perv on a fictional character, but if you’re gonna already have cussing and violence in your comic, you might as well not even bother with the censors. As it’s pointless to do unless you are purposely doing it in order to draw in an audience.

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 Hell, when I first read this, I honestly thought I was seeing tattoos until I realized what those images actually were. That’s my only real problem with this preview, well, that and the fact this is a 14-page preview that leaves me wanting to know what happens to the lovely Regina! Especially as she ends up going from one pickle to another with some disgruntled folks who’d been doing their best not to become Zombie Chow!

Whether or not Brian, Trent, and Liz will have something that’s a break out hit in the Zombie genre remains to be seen, as most are more than likely tired of Zombies. Only time will tell for RAGS; and will Regina find herself a pair of pants?! Only our intrepid trio, plus the artist himself, Luigi Tereul knows for certain! At least then Regina will have some form of dignity if she ends up dead or worse while wearing some pants!


Known as Rob Wrecks, and due to a love for Independent titles that was born from an earlier start of reviewing comics for InvestComics. IndieComiX came into life from that love in 2012 and has been a rockin’ ever since! Can reach him here and read more of his reviews and more on indiecomix.net






 

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The Maroon[Review]

 

Reviewed by Anthony Cleveland

Writer/illustrator: Derek W. Lipscomb

Derek W. Lipscomb (writer/illustrator) approached ComixCentral to discuss his comic book series: The Maroon. We gave it a crack and discovered a fantastic series with genre combinations that have yet to be explored in other comics. The Maroon combines Leone’s Man with No Name trilogy with the fantastic mythology of American legends and history, all while never once pulling a single punch or tomahawk throw.




“The world I have The Maroon inhabit is a crazy mix of folklore fantasy with horror-inspired from Le Pacte de Loups (Brotherhood of the Wolf),Derek began. I love how that film blends lore from history and fabricates it’s own clever take on the legend of The Beast of Gévaudan. I liked the idea that in the nooks and crannies of 1850 American history, there were mythical creatures and supernatural dealings that permeated the fringes of a growing civilization.”

Derek pitched his comic to me as a simmering campfire cauldron mixed with western films, anime features, & spiced generously with Native American mythology. If I could add to Derek’s pitch, I would say this is very much like a Conan the Barbarian story taking place in the 1800s south. Like many of the classic Conan stories, they begin grounded in a somewhat familiar and historical setting and later introduce the more fantastical elements. What remains constant throughout is how we are reminded that this is a savage world these characters inhabit.

The stand out issues were #1 and #3. In each of these issues, the strengths of the series are on full display. With issue #1, we are introduced to a father and son, who we are led to believe will be the main focus of the arc. A few pages later we meet The Maroon (real name unknown), who is on the run and is being pursued by a posse. As the issue comes to a close, the three are confronted by the posse and #1 concludes with a tragic climax that sets the tone for the rest of the series.

“ While The Maroon is a blending of history with the fantastic,  what I really hope comes from this experience, is the further exposure of a pocket an American-created people often blindsided by ‘grander events that pushed American History forward,’ ” Derek added.

Derek’s research into his settings must be applauded as well. Throughout he uses specific historical events as backdrops to his character’s stories. He also goes on to describe specific Native American tribe culture and incorporates their mythology into his story arcs. This shows through best in Issue #3.

By this issue, Derek fully immerses the reader with the fantasy elements of his story. #3 also sheds more light on our main character’s backstory through a brutal hallucinatory dream sequence that bleeds into reality when he comes face to face with a half-owl, half-woman beast. The fight between the two is raw, bloody, and intense. These 10 pages were the highlight of the series for me.

Another high point of the issue was when tidbits of The Maroon’s backstory is revealed and he’s forced to meet his past face to face. We learn that he was once in love with a woman above his social class and was tricked by a witch to drink a potion that was promised to make her fall in love with him. The potion instead curses him for life. This was the first time we are offered a look back at who The Maroon is.

My only real critique of the book would be to have more moments like this where we can explore that character’s history. Additional issues are on the rise and I’m sure Derek does have more in store for that.


Thank you for checking out this ComixCentral Review by Contributing Author Anthony Cleveland

Click here to find more articles and reviews from Anthony Cleveland  and don’t miss Anthony’s own Comic now available on ComixCentral, Silver Skin







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Epic Misadventures of Deathbag Issue #3 “Deathbag Goes To Comic Con” [Preview]

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Now Available!

The Epic Misadventures of Deathbag Issue 3 “Deathbag Goes To Comic-Con”deathbag 3 - comixcentral

The newest issue in the Epic Misadventures of Deathbag is coming soon! What is Deathbag you say? You’re in for a treat! Deathbag deals with everyday human life such as going to a metal concert and dealing with people at the movies, but in the most hilarious way. Get a good laugh, enjoy some most excellent artwork and have a deadly good time!

Catch up on all the Deathbag fun in issues #1 & 2 (with bonus Nerd life!)


Now here’s your exclusive sneak peek!

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First Annual Comics of the Year Award | Winner’s Spotlights

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Indie Comic fans with a finger on the pulse… (deliberate plug to our new newsletter you can sign up to here) … won’t fail to have missed the recent ComixCentral Awards for the best Indie Comics of 2017.

Readers of all things ComixCentral will know this was a tough one! We’re still in our first year but it’s been an amazing ride and the quality and creativity coming out of our creators is truly an inspiration. We’d genuinely love to have given everyone awards but that’s not how these things work (plus these books were already Comic of the Week winners so yay everyone’s a winner anyway!).

One of the hardest things as identifying the categories and then which comics would fit into each one. This is the great thing about indie is that it refuses to be put in a box. So many comics had more than one chance as they were put into every category they could qualify for. We’re not people to limit opportunities for our creators.

We thought we couldn’t just let this moment pass without taking a more detailed look at our winners and give a little bit of insight into why they came away with the big prize in their category. We know you guys don’t do this for the prizes and awards but hey we’re one big community so we’re happy to share the reasons that we love these comics.

So we’re going to go through the categories one by one over the coming days and weeks before getting to the overall winner.


Best Sci-Fi – Folklore Issue 1

“A band of survivors travels across North America after a biological weapon turns the world’s greatest superheroes into horrifying abominations. “

Folklore was created by Random Encounter Comics made up of writer Adam Ma and Illustrator Colin Tan.


In the Sci-fi category, the votes for Folklore were pretty unanimous. The art alone was enough for us to fall in love with this book with its. The rich painterly renditions create an extra dynamic in this story and something often mimicked but rarely mastered.

Turning the superhero format on its head Folklore images and a post-apocalyptic world where superhumans aren’t all we believed they would be.

This story very efficiently sets this scene setting up how the population reacts to a self-imposed cleansing armageddon.

This introductory issue does a fantastic job of setting up the premise for the story. Folklore uses big visuals to create a sense of scale and drama which isn’t overcooked in dialogue or captions. The creators have struck a great balance here and ending this part of the story with a great hook luring you into issue 2.

Sci-fi and ‘Superhero’s are two genre’s where it’s pretty tough to say anything new and at risk of trolling an entire industry does the comic world really need more superhumans? In Folklore, we get a novel take on both and an interesting response to superhero fatigue.

Most of our prizes were awarded to single issues and in this case for issue one but you can read all the way to issue 4 on ComixCentral right now.





Best Thriller – Daughters of Knights

Next up we have the winner of “best thriller” comic.

Daughters of Knights is entirely the work of Steven Rosia and as both writer and artist, he’s been able to bring his vision for this story to life exactly how he imagined it.


Seraphine, accused of witchcraft, recalls the demon who slaughtered her companions and framed her. Daughters of Knights is a medieval horror story about a disfigured girl, slaying monsters, and an uncomfortable, unconventional attraction…

Like many of our winners, this book is a fantastic testament to Indie. Entirely creator produced and couldn’t be further from the tired formats of the big publishers. How many of them would support a strong female character driven medieval horror story?

In this first installment, Steven has managed to set the scene for things to come and build to what looks to be a thrilling series.

Issue One is a masterclass in creating a believable world, characters, and a story arc within this first 24 pages. Something many creators fail to do without getting the balance of overuse of exposition or leaving too much for the reader to fill in between the lines.

And something else specific to stronger indie creators Daughters of Knights makes no attempts to ‘borrow’ from popular tropes to gain an audience or copy particular artists. If you’ve met Steven in real life you’ll know he’s not one just to go with the crowd and that pays testament in his work. Steven has cultivated his own illustration style here which works perfectly with the tone of this story. And this is matched in his writing which perfectly captures the medieval tone without resorting to stereotyped shortcuts.

The judges enjoyed this introduction to the story and can’t wait to discover what happens to Seraphine next. Like all the others this was a particularly tough category but the strong unique story and Steven’s efforts to produce this work single-handedly, definitely gave him the edge here.





Best MysteryThe White Room of the Asylum

 ‘Best Mystery’ awarded to The White Room of the Asylum

Written By Luke Melia, Art by David Anderson, Bobby Penafiel, Kat Fajardo, Omaik Neiv, Zev Zimmerman and Vinny Smith


The White Room could have fit a number of categories as it’s a story that transcends many traditional genres but it’s a mystery that it really shines. The tale of focuses on the tape-recorded memoirs of an old man named Steve who recently committed suicide. The tapes tell of the last period of his stay at the Soraberg Asylum and his discovery of what he came to call ‘The White Room.’ The White Room is an infinite space of pure white in which the residents can create anything they can think up. Over time more residents gain access to this mysterious place. Thus begins a series of events that stretches Steve’s sanity to its limits.

This book is very much more in the realms of graphic novel stretching to over 150 pages. But Luke Melia’s story rattles along at some pace, drawing you further and further into this twisted world and the events leading up to Steve’s eventual demise (that’s not a spoiler, by the way, you know from the start what’s happened, the story still engages you in discovering what secrets the White Room holds).

What the judges liked about this book, beyond the captivating story, was the use of multiple artists, one for each chapter if the book. It’s common to have to switch artists particularly in the world of Indie when sometimes that’s enforced, but here it’s done in a way to make a truly collaborative work in a really interesting way. And with 6 different illustration styles to content with this story does a great job in managing some visual continuity across the chapters.

One thing that really works well and, a great example of the constraints of self-published indie being turned into a strength, is the use and restriction of colour. By using just black and white art to represent the white Room this book turns what could be a constraint into a really bold way to create some strong visual storytelling. The White Room itself and the view from inside the minds of the residents give an opportunity for the writer and artists alike to really go to town with some imaginative narratives.

This book represents so much of what we love about indie at ComixCentral. Things like a real freedom to tell a story without censorship (it does include some pretty adult content), a truly collaborative effort on the part of the creators, all expertly coordinated by the writer, and some really creative approaches to working within the limitations of self-publishing. And all that’s on top of an incredibly novel and creative story arc which really draws you into the life of these characters.

We asked Luke for a comment on the White Room and this is what he said,

“Creating “The White Room of the Asylum” was an interesting challenge. We’d just spent over 2 years putting together our first book, Oculus, and the goal for producing the white room was to do it quicker. Whilst the illustrators were working on Oculus, I wrote the scripts for The White Room of the Asylum, a story that I’d been wanted to write for many years.

The book was split into 6 chapters, and the idea was to have a different illustrator working on each part at the exact same time. To achieve this, we had to make sure the concept art, including every character and the various different colouring styles, was finalised and communicated to everyone involved. David Anderson, Vinny Smith, and Bobby Peñafiel did a fantastic job at getting the concept work spot on. They were then joined by Ephraim Zimmerman, Kat Fajardo and Omaik Neiv in illustrating the book.

The result is a book I am immensely proud of. I didn’t really know how well this idea would work until it all started coming together. Luckily not only did it work, but the shift in styles complemented the shifts in the story with each new chapter. We are incredibly grateful to win this award. To have our work recognised in this way goes far beyond any of the expectations we had when starting the project.”

One thing we were excited to hear as we write this is that Luke is already working on a partner story to this book. And we can’t wait to read it.


Stay tuned for more Winner’s Spotlight profiles to come!

 





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The Owl Tribe [Review]

 

Reviewed by Anthony Cleveland

the-owl-tribe-comic-book-review_-comixcentral

Writer: Lukasz Wnuczek
Illustrator:  Lukasz Wnuczek


Quick Overview: The Owl Tribe is a comic that revolves around a hunt for a beast straight out of the Native American (and Norse!) legends. It is set in the time of Viking exploration of pre-Columbian America and features fantastic characters borrowed from the lore of Native American tribes while also drawing from Norse tales.


Story

This 56-page comic is so rich and dense with world building and characterization that it feels like a sweeping epic graphic novel with a thick page count. What Lukasz Wnuczek (writer & illustrator) has done with this book is really something unique that lacks from other comics that commit to this particular length. Every panel matters and every panel sets up a pay off for our characters down the line.the-owl-tribe-comic-book-review_-comixcentral-2

The book follows several characters that are on both sides of the conflict and treats them both accordingly. It’s tough to say who is the bad guy or good guy throughout the comic. Our characters commit some pretty brutal acts, but we are shown their backstories so we can see their motivations and more often than not, give them our sympathy. This works the best in this comic when we see the motivations AFTER we think a character might be our villain.

It repeatedly makes the reader ask: Does this character’s emotional history justify their violent actions?

It’s engaging to the reader. Not only do you have an interesting conflict on the page to read, but you also have an internal conflict going on inside the reader. It’s difficult to accomplish and this Lukasz pulls it off seamlessly.

The best example of this is on the final page. It’s such a great gut punch that I will not spoil.  


Art-

There’s an earthy texture in the art that is very appropriate for this book. It feels organic and genuine. Lukasz puts this on display the strongest with his backgrounds and landscape panels. It’s an immersive feel that puts you right in the forest.

From my first glance at this book, the most eye-catching detail was in the character designs. The book’s cover features one of the more supernatural characters of the comic. This character is wearing a leather stitched mask with tribal-like paint across it. He stands with his staff and stares off into the mist. This is an eye-catching cover that makes you want to pick up the comic just to see who this guy is and what this book is about.


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RATING

This is a really unique book that shares an overlooked part of history. The comic doesn’t take sides in this conflict and instead allows the story unfold naturally by giving the right amount of information to the reader without spelling the whole saga.

The combination of earthy art and empathetic characters get this book a 5 out of 5.


Amazon: available as Kindle/paperback / extended paperback (with artbook section)


Thank you for checking out this ComixCentral Review by Contributing Author Anthony Cleveland

 






 

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BOB: Non-Union Psychic Issue #2 [Preview]

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Coming February 23, 2018 Now Available!

The Award Winning BOB: Non-Union Psychic continues with the upcoming release of BOB: Non-Union Psychic Issue #2.

First off, if you haven’t had a chance to dig into the world of BOB: Non-Union Psychic, do yourself an enjoyable and humorous favor by grabbing Issues #0 TRUE TALENT& #1“The Legend of Legros” whenever you get a minute.

BOB: Non-Union Psychic is the exciting tale of an unwilling but incredibly talented psychic, Bob Holbreck. All Bob wants is to be left alone to hone his one true love and passion for Hair Styling, but to his everlasting annoyance, his inherited psychic gifts continue to intrude themselves into his life with hilarious outcomes.

BOB: Non-Union Psychic Issue #1

I won’t give away any spoilers for issue #2, but I can tell you that the renegade psychic known as Bob Holbreck is back and appears to be falling into all kinds of trouble with a little help from his not-so-alive friends and family.

This delightful cast of characters is brought to life by the expert storytelling of Lance Lucero, his partner in crime & Comics, Adam Volle and of course the illustration stylings of Francisco Resendiz and phenomenal lettering of Kurt Hathaway. This incredible Indie Series is brought to you by Warehouse 9 Productions, Ltd.

Now here’s your exclusive sneak peek!

https://youtu.be/BmQgx72nAgI



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Subscribe to our newsletter “The Pulse” to be notified as soon as BOB issue #2 is available on ComixCentral.com

Be sure to catch up on all the excitement and laughs from Warehouse9 Productions ltd. before the new issue drops on February 23, 2018.

 


 


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2017 Comics Of The Year Awards

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The First Annual Comics of the Year Awards – 2017 Edition

2017 was an astounding year of firsts here at ComixCentral. When we opened the doors in March of 2017, we could have never imagined that so many incredible Comics of exceptional quality would be added to our marketplace in such a short time. We are overwhelmed with gratitude that the community we love so much has embraced us and chosen to sell their work on ComixCentral. We thank you all for joining us on this amazing journey, and we look forward to growing together for many years to come.

With that said, this year’s nominations were excruciating to choose. We love each and every comic on our site, and the competition was fierce! We’d like to thank all of you talented creators, and I hope you know how hard it was for our team to vote this year. But, as my 10th-grade gym coach once told me, “A little competition is good for the soul!” and we’ll add, great for our industry!

 We can’t wait to see what you have in store for 2018! And with that… here are this year’s winners!


“Best Fantasy” 

Comic”Skylin 001: Old Remnants

Long ago, the six nations fell victim to the ruthless tyranny of the Demon King and his Serpen. He burned all who opposed him and spared few. With little hope for liberation, nobles from each nation journeyed to an ancient floating city where they pleaded to the Spirits for help. Six warriors, one from each nation, were granted a powerful Serpen of their own, which they used to defeat the Demon King.

Buy Now »

 “Best Mystery”

The White Room of the Asylum

The White Room of the Asylum focuses on the tape-recorded memoirs of an old man named Steve who recently committed suicide. The tapes tell of the last period of his stay at the Soraberg Asylum and his discovery of what he came to call ‘The White Room.’ The White Room is an infinite space of pure white in which the residents can create anything they can think up. Over time more residents gain access to this mysterious place- Thus beginning a series of events that stretches Steve’s sanity to its limits, offers a chance at redemption, and leaves a man too broken to fix.

Buy Now »

 “Best Action”

Smart Bomb!! Level 1-2

Imagine an alternative gamingverse. One where TV games you’ve never heard of (yet, somehow, find oh-so familiar) are the norm. If only there was an awesome mix of comics and video games magazines to let you in on what’s going on? Thank Mr.Jump!’s ghost, it’s SMART BOMB!!

Buy Now »

  “Best Thriller”

Daughters of Knights – Chapter 1

Seraphine, accused of witchcraft, recalls the demon who slaughtered her companions and framed her. Daughters of knights is a medieval horror story about a disfigured girl, slaying monsters, and an uncomfortable, unconventional attraction.

Buy Now »

  “Best Superhero”

Humalien #1

In a future where humans are extinct. One was engineered in a lab to be a living biological weapon

Buy Now »

 “Best Horror

Bastard Son: Murderborn

Busted Knuckle Press presents: ‘Bastard Son: Murderborn’, a horror graphic novel. ORIGINS OF A SLASHER – 120+ PAGES OF BLOOD AND MADNESS! Created by Frank T. Allen & Marco “Sbrillo” Fontanili. Lettering by Taylor Esposito of Ghost Glyph Studios. Chapter One cover by Jacen Burrows.

Buy Now »

 “Best Sci-Fi”

Folklore Issue 1

A band of survivors travel across North America after a biological weapon turns the world’s greatest superheroes into horrifying abominations. The first issue of Folklore’s ongoing story, collected in this easy to enjoy PDF! Purchased issues help support the ongoing creation of Folklore, but you can find all our pages for free at http://folklorecomic.com/ or support Folklore directly by visiting our Patreon at patreon.com/Folklore

Buy Now »

  “Best Mature”

Dildo Boy Origins

Dildo Boy Origins is an XXX rated short comic which satirises the chauvinistic, adolescent male power fantasies of the superhero canon. Written, coloured, and lettered by Doktor Geraldo. Illustrated by Stefani Magician’s House. @DoktorGeraldo @MagiciansHouse In association with Digital Pastiche.

Buy Now »

 “Best Manga”

Samurai Shin Issue #1

Samurai Shin is highly influenced by anime such as Afro Samurai, Samurai Champloo, and Sword Of The Stranger

Buy Now »

 “Best Comedy

BOB: NON-UNION PSYCHIC #0 TRUE TALENT

Renegade Psychic. Professional Hairstylist. This is not your usual paranormal adventure. This is about the rise of a new kind of hero. Or, rather, the reluctant rise of a hero. Meet Bob Holbreck, a talented guy who has mad hairstyling skills. He owns and operates a nice little shop in the trendy part of town. His clientele is building with loyal customers. Bob truly knows what looks good on a customer before they do. How does he do it? How does he know what to do with a head of hair? Well, Bob has other talents. There are those who may consider it a gift. Like his great-grandfather, who is at odds about Bob’s future career choice. Bob just wants to be a hairstylist and make people feel good about themselves; Gramps wants him to cash in on his psychic abilities.

Buy Now »

  “Best LGBTQ+”

Alex Priest #1

In a world where vampires and demon ilk are very, very real, two agencies work to keep the world safe from the forces of darkness. Demon Eradication And Denial (DEAD LLC) is a corporate entity that charges itself with the training and employment of demon slayers – specialists in combating magical beings. Living Corpses that Bite (LC & B) is a tax exempt public entity that relies on time proven traditions to keep humanity safe from vampires. When hunting evil evolved into blue collar work, the evil had to evolve.

Buy Now »


 “Best Story Arc”

Project Shadow Breed #1

In the new millennia, SinTech, a private government contract corporation began developing a serum to turn ordinary soldiers into werewolves. With the backing of the US military, SinTech perfected the serum. In 2014, they created the first “wolf pack” of soldiers. What they didn’t expect to create was Marrok.

Buy Now »

 “Best Series”

WOLF HANDS: Season 1

Vaughn Miller is a mild-mannered cellphone plan salesman who was bitten by a dying werewolf. Now, whenever trouble rears its ugly head, he transforms into a werewolf….IN HIS HANDS! Pursued by the evil Professor Orchid and his army of Frankensteins, Vaughn turns to his far-more-capable girlfriend Jenny Rose to get him out of this increasingly sticky situation. Madcap adventures and cartooney ultra-violence ensue! Written by Justin Heggs with art by Nick Johnson.

Buy Now »

 “Best Overall” 

RAGS: PROLOGUE

Marine Corps Veteran Regina Ragowski is trapped naked and alone in the town of Paso Robles during the Zombie Outbreak. In order to survive she’ll need to avoid the zombies and find food, shelter and weapons…but most importantly….a clean pair of pants.

Buy Now »

Congratulations to all our first annual Comic of the Year Award Winners!

You can check out all the Nominated Comics here:

Get your Comics uploaded and available for sale on ComixCentral.com to enter the 2018 Comic of the Year Awards! 

 





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Joe Francis Totti | Creator Spotlight

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Welcome to our first ever “Inktober Winner Edition” of CXC Creator Spotlight.

Today we are joined by the 2017 CXC Inktober Winner, Joe Francis Totti!

During this year’s Inktober, Joe took the road less traveled and created an entire Comic over the 31 day period. Slow rolling a terrifyingly good mini-horror, delighting his Instagram followers with every gruesome panel. It’s for this reason our selection team chose Joe as our winner and we thought you’d all enjoy getting to know this talented writer, illustrator and graphic designer as much as we did.

Let’s get to the interview!


Hello Joe! First off, congratulations on winning our first ever CXC Inktober Contest! The hundreds of entries we received from incredible artists made choosing very difficult, but your work came out on top as the clear winner this year. A truly exceptional execution of Inktober, we tip our hats sir!

Now, please tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your work.

Joe: My name is Joe Francis Totti, I’m 29 years of age and based in Liverpool in the Uk, My profession is Freelance Graphic Designer, but my love, life, and passion are reserved for comics (and my wife haha). I have worked in the creative industry for the past 7 years. Only in the past few years did I puck up the courage to jump into indie comics and social media and try to find my footing in the industry. That is something I am still working on daily to find haha.

What kind of comics do you create?

Joe: So far they all seem to have a dark tone, I find myself working on Horror or Science fiction, but I like to make sure there is humour in everything I work on. It brings you out of the misery and grimness.

When did you get your start?

Joe: I like to think I’m still waiting for it haha!

What made you decide to start making comics, how did you get into it?

Joe: I have one of those personalities, I cant just enjoy something I have to be involved in the things I love, so naturally, I found myself craving the idea of making my own stories up and drawing them.


How about your graphic design career? Did you attend art school, or are you self-taught?

Joe: I studied under two amazing teachers, Alan Baker and Paul C, but even they would say University sets you deadlines and it’s your job to teach yourself.

How do the two occupations complement/ clash with each other? Do you have a favourite?

Joe: It really helps me with compositional work and understanding programs like photoshop & illustrator. So this helps with the colouring and lettering of my work and understanding the print process, but I love comics, they wipe the floor with design hahaha!

What do you see as the biggest obstacle to your success?

Joe: I like to feel like I’m yet to be successful to help me keep pushing haha (ever the pessimist haha) but I would say allowing people to work with me and not being a control freak and doing all the work myself.

What’s the one thing (tool, process, etc) that you absolutely could not live without during the creative process?

Joe: My Mac (computer not jacket) haha.

What resources do you rely on for illustration?

Joe: I love to use my little notebook and fine liners (when traditional) and my Yiynova graphics tablet when working digitally.

Who are your biggest inspirations in the comic realm?

Joe: I would have to say, Tony More, Rick Remender, Daniel Warren Johnson, James Harren, and Mike Spicer all masters of there craft!

Where do you get your inspiration and ideas from?

Joe: Usually, a situation sparks a weird idea then I jot it down and develop it from there. Conversations are really important to the process as well, tell people about your ideas it really helps.

What does your workspace look like?


Tell us a funny story JOE!

Joe: Aha! Last year at thought bubble festival I had an opportunity to meet one of my heroes in comics, Jeff Lemire, creator of one of my favourite books Sweet tooth.  We had a conversation at my table and he said come over and say hey and I’ll draw you a quick doodle of Gus.  So I head to his table I stood there like a deer in headlights and he said: “what’s your name again so I can sign this?”  I said, Joe. The room was loud so he said “Jon?” (I thought) so I said, “With an N?” And he said “Joe with an N?” I said “I’m not sure” ….. he then said “do you know how to spell your name?” haha so I went red-cheeked and slumped away from the table embarrassed, but he gave me the drawing below. He was a great guy, gave me multiple prints and books.

Where do you hope to be in 5 years creatively?

Joe: Like most creators, I have dreams of releasing a book with image comics, but I will be happy as long as I’m still making comic books.

What do you think the big publishers could learn from the Indie scene and vice versa?

Joe: I like both for different reasons, I would say they both serve a purpose as well, but there is a real sense of levity with characters in indie comics I would love to see in the big two but, would that be destroying what I love about them? Haha tricky question.

That just about wraps it up Joe, any final thoughts?

Joe: I would love to share my projects I’ve recently been involved with. They are: The Landings, being published through Markosia. It’s a sci-fi horror, super hammy like the old cinema, a bit like (it came from beneath the sea) this is with writer Elijah James. Also a project with Matt fitch and Dead Canary Comics called “Eye in the sky”. This is part of an anthology called “Adventures in science” out next week through the Dead Canary Comics website, http://www.deadcanarycomics.com/product/adventures-in-science/  Another is Self-made hero’s The Corbyn Comic. I worked on a 3-page story in this anthology called – Lethal Corbyn III – with Chris Baker also of Dead Canary Comics. I realize I’m rambling now, but look out for my social media for news on the printing of mine and Matt Fitches Inktober comic that we will be printing in the next few months! 🙂

Lethal Corbyn III
Eye in the Sky

Awesome! This has been such a pleasure Joe! How can people find out more about you and the work you do?

Joe: You can find me @thelifeoftotti on both Instagram and Twitter thank you for all the support through Inktober.


Well, that’s it for this Creator Spotlight! Thanks so much for joining us. Make sure you follow Joe on all his social platforms, you’re gonna’ want to keep an eye on this talented guy! I think we’ll see great things from Mr. Totti! Who knows, maybe one day he’ll misspell your name at Comic-con!

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Review: Project Shadow Breed #4

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Project Shadow Breed #4
Different Breed Comics/Dim Throat Comics
Written by: Justin Bartz
Art and Colors by Stefani Magicianshouse
Lettered by: Justin Birch
Story by: Josh Schneider and Justin Bartz
Reviewer: Rob Wrecks


Project Shadow Breed has been an interesting read for me so far. As one of the main things I really like about this is the fact that the main character Marrok is a Werewolf! And not necessarily a traditional kind either. But more man-made for one of those black ops type military projects. You know how it is, man playing God and all that just to get themselves a good ol’ fashioned weapon to better fight their enemies with! Yes, I’m talking about you, SinTech! You naughty fellas! I’m curious though, does Marrok get affected by the Full Moon? Making him stronger during it? Maybe a bit more feral? Or is he completely unaffected by it since this was basically a Science Experiment by folks who shouldn’t have been mucking about with things greater than them? Answers that perhaps one day, we’ll get from Justin Bartz when the time is right!

And while I enjoyed Stefani Magicianhouse’s art and colors, there were points in her art that were a little off. For example, I’ll go into the early pages of #1 where a mother is holding her (dead?) mixed little girl after a shootout occurs. I don’t know if this was done intentionally, but instead of holding the little girl in her arms, she’s holding the little girl in a way one would probably do so in a sacrificial way. And looking very stiff as well instead of actually looking like a body. Its possible this was done on purpose because the panel’s not exactly a big one but still, the whole thing looks really weird.



It’s also clear to see that the city of Seattle has a big problem. One that Marrok and his partner/mentor/friend Leroy are trying to do something about. Even if one’s a lot younger then the other but they don’t necessarily let that affect them too much! I love the friendship between these two and you nearly wanna’ climb into the pages yourself to help Marrok put a hurting on some folks after Ol’ Leroy ends up in the hospital. Ol’ Leroy’s the reason Marrok himself didn’t end up becoming anything more than a Government Black Ops pawn that probably woulda been seen as expendable at some point in the future. PSB is also a lesson in why the Government should NOT be doing business with Businessmen. Especially those who aren’t good people and will use a place like Seattle for anything they please.

The trucker villain who’s got a Van Dyke look going on (which is weird considering he’s a trucker and a villain for Marrok) is someone who is unapologetic about what he does. And you wanna just hate him for it, especially once you see what he’s got in his trailer! I honestly had expected him to be a one time character after his first appearance but was surprised he wasn’t. Which makes me look forward to seeing how much of more a pain in the ass he can be for Marrok and Leroy in the future. I’m also a little curious about if whether or not Justin and Stefani are Rick and Morty fans since in the 4th issue there’s a Scientist who has a resemblance to one of those characters. Or close to it at least! Issue 4 also gives the lovely Goddess known as ‘Red Hyena’ and she’s certainly a handful! Not to mention a bit sneaky!

I honestly hope she’s around for future issues, and armed with more armpit gas as that’s not necessarily something you see someone use a whole lot of! Has me curious about what got Justin to go for an idea like that! Near the end of the 4th issue, however, is a little jarring. I don’t know if this was intentional or what, but seeing Marrok talk with Leroy and practically pleading with him to wake up from his coma-like state and then a panel away discussing some bad business the two’s been looking into it (like I said before) pretty jarring. Though I’m curious if any more of Leroy’s old friends are gonna show up with intent to be a problem for him and Marrok. Then again, that nurse of his might cause him more trouble than any other old friends of his!

Andrews and his cohorts clearly have some bad intentions in mind and I can’t wait to see what those are. If only to see Marrok and Leroy stop them but good! As Andrews and his bunch definitely need to be stopped before they can do any kinda real serious damage!

So Justin? Bring on #5 so we can all have a howlin’ good time!


Find more great Indie Comic reviews from Rob Wrecks on indiecomix.net


 

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Champions of Hara: Chapters 1 and 2 | Comicbook Review

Champions of Hara: Chapters 1 and 2

Reviewed by Rod Jenkins


Creators: Walter Barber
Ian Vannest
Andrew Zimmerman

Writer: Walter Barber

Art, Colors, Lettering: Jason Piperberg

Cover Art: Chapter 1 – Hannah Kennedy
Chapter 2 – M. Misztal


Quick hit: Champions of Hara is a mix between Fate Stay Night Anime and Eternal Champions.

Champions of Hara is a tale of a world created from chaotic energies, that is also being destroyed by those same energies. In order to keep the lifeforms of Hara viable, the Kensei (guardians of Hara) reach out to other worlds, perhaps other dimensions, to find beings who may be able to control and harness the chaotic energies of Hara and stabilize the realm, only one can claim the right to these energies, thus from what I gather, an ‘unofficial’ competition begins to see who is worthy of possessing Hara’s energy, and as a side perk, the winner gets to have the greatest desire granted.


This reviewer quickly thought. if these guardians have that kind of power, why can’t they control Hara’s energy on their own? Perhaps as the tale is told, more of Hara’s secrets will be revealed. The ‘chapters’ of Champions of Hara are quick, with timely wording and elegance provided by writer Walter Barber. These first two novellas introduce readers to the first 2 participants in the competition. It must be pointed out, that so far there has not been an actual number of participants listed, so from here, no one can be certain if there are any more beings participating.

The expertise of artist Jason Piperberg is clearly shown throughout both books, from knowledge of time settings of Earth to fantasy flora and fauna.

champions_of_hara_review_comixcentral_1

Piperberg’s use of shades and colors deftly, and subtly set the emotion and pace of Barber’s writing. I give full marks to Jason for his use of digital coloring, as this reviewer is not a huge fan of the technique, Piperberg touch is not overblown, nor lacking to the lineart, instead, it’s a perfect harmonious balance.

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The only flaws of these fine books are: a page wasted for indicia, perhaps the creative team was looking for ways to stretch out the stories (each book is just 12-14 pages) This reader would’ve preferred if the legalese was placed along with the credits, the give Piperberg a page to really show off his artistic skill (perhaps with character design sketches).

The other flaw is the second page is too dark, where, readers skip by the pencil art that is on the page, you don’t see it because of the darkness of the page, a lighter gradient will fix this oversight.

Champions of Hara is all too quick of a ride, however, the substance that Baber and Piperberg give readers, is a complete joy, that has this reader and many more, eagerly waiting to see what is upcoming.

Rating 4 out 5 eyes ( Worth the price of Admission)





 

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RAGS: Creator Spotlight a Fireside Chat with Brian and Trent

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Hello readers! Today we have 2 badasses for the price of 1 Creator Spotlight!

We are delighted to have the opportunity to pick the brains of the creative team behind the jaw-dropping, action-packed, delightfully comedic and beautifully illustrated, RAGS: Prologue. If you haven’t read the first issue of this comic, stop right now, (well read this spotlight first) then, go get a copy, immediately.

“RAGS is a comic involving two military veterans and their quest for a sense of normalcy during a zombie plague that has wrecked the liberal state of California. But this isn’t a tale about Zombies. This is a tale about pants. A tale about PTSD. A tale about finding a purpose. About setting aside your own prejudice. About overcoming guilt and insanity. Things that most other authors are too afraid to tackle. Hold onto to your poopers and get your tactical onesies ready.”

So without further ado, may we present A Fireside Chat with Brian Ball and Trent Luther. Let’s do this! Oohrah!


To start, tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Brian: Well my is Brian Ball, I’m a 14year Active Duty Army Veteran, currently in the San Diego National Guard. I’m the writer of RAGS, and my partner in crime in this is Trent Luther. He and I came up with the basic premise. My friend Rudy help us polish it up with the Unicorn Onesie. I’m withholding the name of my artist for the time being as I’m unsure of how he wishes to be credited.

Trent: My names Trent, I’m from Fargo North Dakota. I work at an auto salvage yard. I don’t think I really known for much.

What kind of comics do you guys like to create?

Brian: I’m actually unsure of how to answer this one, as RAGS is the first Comic I’ve actually created, from concept to what it is now. I’m not quite sure what I’d call the genre. Maybe Black Humor is the most accurate as I subtly make take jabs at lots of things.

Trent: Zombie comics I guess. Though I used to draw some dope stick figure comics that had to do with the civil war and the supernatural (Ethan Allen was my main protagonist.).


What made you decide to start making comics and get into the business?

Brian: So what got me to create? I would have to say that I’ve always enjoyed writing. That’s been my passion since I was 8years old. The military came a very close second when I was 10. But what really pushed me is that Comics now, Marvel in particular, no longer speak to me as an Individual. I see a lot of push towards inclusivity and diversity but I’m not really seeing any characters with personality. I’m half-black, ¾’s Latino and there has yet to be a character that I could really get behind. So I figured, rather than complain about it, I’d just go out there and make my own.

Trent: Brian’s ambition. He’s been a rock that waves break themselves upon this whole time.

What do you see as the biggest obstacle to your success?

Brian: Right now, the biggest obstacle to success is marketing. Marketing, marketing, marketing. Some early feedback I’ve seen is that ‘Oh, it seems like another by the numbers zombie story.’ It’s not. In many ways, the zombies are a bonus.

Trent: Marketing. Marketing has been rough. Mainly lack time and funds to do so. I try to make an enticing post on Imgur and Reddit. But getting them rolling can be tough

Coffee or Tea?

Brian: Coffee. Definitely Coffee. There’s this saying amongst me and my battle buddies; “If it wasn’t for caffeine and hate I would have no reason to wake up in the morning.”. But honestly, I need about three cups of coffee just to get the old brain synapsis plodding along.

Trent: If you ain’t down with Alwazah tea you can get outta my life.

Who are your biggest inspirations in the comic realm?

Brian: My biggest inspirations are Adam Warren, the old crew from Antartic Press. Eric Johnson, if you’ve ever seen his work, he’s drawing the book for Vikings. Masamune Shiro, Kentaro Muira, Hajime Kanzaki, I read a lot of manga. Akira Toriyama for his pun-based naming structure. John Kantz and Christopher Reid for their EXCELLENT book: Legends from DarkWood. I was really sad they didn’t continue this, it was great series!

Trent: For me Todd McFarlane, Frank Miller and R.A Salvatore (I know he doesn’t do comics, fight me.) But I grew up with Spawn comics and toys and everything Drizzt.

Where the inspiration for RAGS come from? Tactical onesies? WHERE?! We love!

Brian: So the inspiration from RAGS initially grew out of a drunken night of Left4Dead2 with Trent. The initial plot we came up with was just some chick running from store to store trying to find a pair of pants while fighting off a zombie horde. And each time she found pants, she’d lose them somehow or some way and have to go find some new ones. It was funny in our heads, but after initially writing the whole thing, I knew I could tell a better story if I just changed some things, so that story evolved into what RAGS is now. The idea for the tactical onesie though, that grew out of me, being absolutely sick and tired of seeing the skin-tight spandex suits that you saw in all these female superheroes run around in. I’m sorry, but Black Widow, in that lycra she runs around in, would constantly be splitting her the backside of her pants. Also, I dislike the idea of a woman in 5-16”inch heels being able to beat up 210lb guys with just her fists. So while trying to come up with a suit that would be practical, my buddy Rudy simply suggested ‘Why not a unicorn onesie…like they have at Wal-mart.’ Then it just grew from there.

Trent: The inspiration for RAGS. That’s tough. Brian came to me one day with a small idea of a story and it just kinda evolved. Tactical onesies…It seemed like a joke at the end of our story. However, it just worked so well. Then when we got a few illustrations and it was so damn amazing seeing it on paper.

comixcentral rags regina

You clearly love zombies. What made you decide to throw your talents into the zombie storytelling world?

Brian: I’m a HUGE Resident Evil Fan. I have the S.T.A.R.S logo and two of Rebecca Chambers tattooed on my arms. Since the inspiration for the story came from Left4Dead2 it was only practical that the zombies followed. But there’s a slight twist to mine, that make them much different….much more lethal than what we’re used to seeing. Creating a new plague was tough because I’m just a soldier and not much of a scientist. But I have figured out something that is very realistic and COULD come about if the right minds got together and were able to put two and two together.

Trent: To me… a Left for Dead 2. We talked a lot about it while playing an impossible to beat player made campaign. Also, Zombies fit perfectly for Regina’s main struggle in the story.

Your choice of coloring for RAGS is very unique. Could you tell us how you guys decided on this approach?

Brian: The coloring for RAGS is done that way, because I wanted people to focus on what the was important to the character, Regina. Her freckles are important, and obviously her tattoo’s, (which is a story arc I hope to explore much later.) I wanted to add to the tension by tricking the reader into focusing on things that I wanted them to focus on. I hope that makes sense. Color is going to come into play much later, I hope the audience appreciates what I have in store.

Trent: Brian’s call on that. I yes-manned cause it was a wonderful choice.

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What would you say is your ultimate goal in comics? Where do you both hope to be in 5 years creatively?

Brian: My ULTIMATE GOAL is for everyone to be Cosplaying Tactical Onesies at all the cons. If that happens, I’ve met my goal. In five years I hope to have the entire story of RAGS completed and on the shelves of bookstores. Maybe a movie deal, or a t.v. series if it gets popular enough.

Trent: Super cheesy Syfy Movie with a dank cult following.

How far are you wanting to take RAGS? What do you guys see as the “Big Picture?”

Brian: I’d really like to get RAGS into the hands of a publisher. I have a story that’s actually inclusive, diverse (being set in California gives me a wide array of characters to choose from and topics to tackle) and I KNOW with the right backing would be a huge hit. Also, having someone else handle the marketing (you’ll see me spam twitter almost daily) would be nice.

Trent: All the way. I’d like to see our idea flower into a whole series of comics.

What do you find to be the most difficult part of creating a comic?

Brian: The most difficult part I would say is getting feedback. Especially when something is good and you personally know it. Sometimes I’ll hand over a copy for a friend to read and I won’t hear back from them for months….and when I see them again I ask about it and they’ll say “Oh, it was good.” Yeah, but how good? What did you like best? What worked? What didn’t? Finding the right people help steer you in the right direction. That’s pretty tough. Thankfully I had a few people give me honest reviews and critiques, so moving forward I know exactly what how to handle things.

Trent: Picking a genre. There is a lot of criticism jumping into any kind of genre when there is so much of it all readily available. Really have to make an impression right off the bat.

Are you for sale? I say that as a joke, but not really. Would you sell RAGS to a large publisher? And on that note, would either of you consider working for the Big guys?

Brian: I would SELL RAGS ONLY to the publisher that would handle it properly. I’m tackling lots of issues in ways that I have seen or experienced that are relevant to me and so I’d like to find a publisher that would appreciate the nuances that are baked into the story. I would LOVE to work for Marvel and write Spider-Man. I kinda feel old Peter could use some fresh blood. But IDW is actually my second pick if I had a choice.

Trent: Hmm. Definitely to Image comics. Spawn and RAGS mashups all day baby. Honestly tho though that’s a tough question. IDK?

How has the response to RAGS been? And what do you think you’ve learned for your next issues?

Brian: So far (for everyone that’s taken a chance on it.) the response has been positive. Usually, my pitch is what gets people raising eyebrows. “Naked chick running around town trying to find pants during a zombie plague!” I get it, it sounds perverted. I would be a skeptic too. But usually, after I show off the script and artwork…people get it. I’m getting a lot of requests for physical copies, which I’m only sending off to those who’ve supported me on Patreon as a reward, and it sucks to say ‘I can’t right now.’ But it’s also great to know that there are people out there that want to see this on shelves!

Trent: The response has been great but I feel pretty localized. Hard to get my old, gearhead co-workers into comics. I get called a nerd a lot. Marketing. Definitely, marketing is a must. It’s hard let me tell ya.

Trent: The Patreon and Facebook. I try to post teaser albums on Imgur and Reddit under the username Niehlis. I’m normally fairly busy with the daily grind so Brian tends to knock out this stuff.

It’s been awesome getting to know you guys and learn more about the stories behind RAGS. Is there anything else we can tell the reader about you?

Brian: Anything else I wish to add? Oh yes! I’m not sure if anyone noticed, but there are a TON of Easter eggs hidden within the prologue. One might be a little obscure and I have no problem giving this one away but Regina, the main character, her face is modeled after Liz Finnegan. If you do not follow her on twitter…you’re failing at life. There are some other things that are hidden too! Most of the other tidbits we probably won’t see until we’re further along. But this comic…it’s my magnum opus and I hope those that are tired of the big two right now, give this a chance. Trust me, if you think this is JUST another Zombie story you’ve barely scratched the surface. Even though I play up tropes, like say Regina quickly getting surrounded by zombies. Well, there’s a legitimate reason for that, but again, only someone with a very discerning eye will catch on.

The other thing I’d like to say, really quick, is that I really have to give a shout out to my friend: Balam, who taught me how to write scripts. And Jim, my old Army buddy from my first unit. Joshua Foster has been helping me maintain the website/blog. Rudy Vallejo and Heaven Perez have been my local support as has Deanne Vicedo. Everyone that supports me on Patreon. Morgan Marino, Candy Dax, Grace Harney (for the edits she did for my revision.) and Elizabeth Stryker. And my biggest cheerleader Samantha Johnson. All the boys in the Quality Control Discord. Captain Frugal the youtuber for his honest review. And Zetha202, one of my favorite Deviant Art Artists who let me borrow a character of his (check him out here: https://zetha202.deviantart.com/). There are so many people to shout out too, but I know that alone is going to be about 4 pages long.


Well, that’s it for this Creator Spotlight! Thanks so much for joining us. If you’d like to learn more about Brian and Trent, connect with them, buy their products or support RAGS directly, you can find the links to all that and more below! 

ragszombie.com  |   twitter   |  teepublic.rags  |  CXC Profile  |   Patreon Rags

 Trent also posts teaser albums on Imgur and Reddit under the username Niehlis.





 

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Welcome to the Magician’s House

CXC – Hello Magician’s House! We are so excited to have this opportunity to get to know you a little better. We’ve been big fans of your work around here for some time! Thank you so much for joining us today.

MH – I’m super stoked to get to talk to you guys and gush about what an important platform ComixCentral actually is.  I don’t know of anywhere else that actually gets indie comics the way that you guys do.  

You’re 100% about the freedoms of the creators, you bend over backward to support what they’re doing and you have categorically come down harshly against all manner of censorship issues which have cropped up since you’ve opened your doors.  

ComixCentral has really shown me everything that I need to see in order to recommend them to people who might be unsure about where to shop their product.  At a different time it may have been Kitchen Sink Press, Fantagraphics Books or something like that, but now, in this age, I have no doubt that the place to be is ComixCentral.  

Since you guys came along, it’s like indie publishing excuses don’t exist anymore.  You’ve thrown down the gauntlet and said, “Oh you have an idea that you want to express in comic book form but it doesn’t fit the mainstream market?  It’s too rough, too short, too experimental, too controversial?  Well, we’ve got you.”  You’ve put the all-talk people on notice. It’s sort of like, “Ok big girl who says she’s out to make comics… now what’s your excuse?”

But those excuses, they’re plentiful, aren’t they?  “Oh, I want to succeed at comics but something’s stopping me; my finances aren’t straight, I have family duties which eat into my creative time, I don’t want to work at it too much and neglect my self-care.”  Dude, if you’re an artist, making art is the only self-care. It should tear you down.  Art should destroy you.  Every time you approach a page you should be a bomb exploding. Afterward, worry about picking up whatever’s left of you from the floor and reshaping it up to do it again. 



CXC – So you don’t have much patience for those not taking their own destiny in their hands it seems.

MH – Yeah, a theme comes up immediately with me that I completely dismiss complainers and excuse-makers.  If you’re not willing to literally give your soul for whatever it is that you’re after then we’ve got nothing to talk about.  We’re operating on different levels.  I came into comics from a delinquency background so my frame of reference for artists was skewed toward the self destructive edge of the spectrum.  It was amazing to find out just how soft the people in comics actually were.  Doughy tykes who wouldn’t last five minutes in a real world situation building stories off some TV that they’ve seen and still complaining about the process and their personal despondencies.  Meanwhile I’m looking at them like, “Are you for real?”  If your dream is to make comics and you’re finding excuses why you can’t squiggle lines down on paper, go ahead and freaking kill yourself.  Life isn’t going to get any easier for you at this point.  I mean, I never find reasons to quit.  I never have things about which to complain.  I only find more and more motivation to push harder and burn hotter.  I just want to crush my enemies, humiliate my critics and die on my feet while moving forward.

Magicians House Cover work – Project Shadow Breed

CXC – Do you feel like that point of view separates you from the “Comicbook” crowd?

Now, haha yeah, I feel like that alienates me from the herd, certainly.  When you add on that I’m not big into fandom, I hate manga, never seen Star Wars, have no clue about video games or Dungeons & Dragons… it all starts to add up that a big chunk of the standard experience is going to zoom past me, you know?  That’s just the palette I’ve been dealt.  All those aspects of comics just get lost on me but there is something else at work in them which I’m very much interested in exploiting.  It’s the subliminal danger that they pose.

Comics used to be a dirty word.  Comics were smut.  They were at the very least a brush with some subversively-motivated minds. They were hurried, and in that quickness the damaged brains of the creative team shown through the cracks.  Like a game where you blurt out the first thing on your mind and you’re horrified at what you unconsciously said.  That’s comics for me.  And for others, too.  Game recognizes game.

Take Doktor Geraldo.  You talk to that guy for five minutes and you realize that he’s a madman.  You’ve met this guy, he’s a menace, isn’t he?  His every idea is so loaded in ways that will completely unbalance you.  He let me creep up into his world for a minute and he told me that he liked my drawings a little bit. Well I, naturally, was crazy about his throwback unidentifiable concepts and writing.  He offered that we should collaborate on a completely original concept at some point and I agreed but my drawing schedule was slammed for the foreseeable future.  He didn’t skip a beat.  He said, “Ok then I’ll draw it and you write it”.

This is the world in which Geraldo lives, haha.  I’d never written anything so he had nothing on which to base this gamble.  He’s well known to illustrate in a very primitive artistic style, so this whole suicidal concept was simply going to be an exercise at baring our necks to the critics.  Each of us taking the things at which we excel and instead doing the opposite.  It was a jarringly original proposition.  He had no idea what kind of story I’d be asking him to illustrate.  He’s a guy who dives in first and looks for water on the way down.  It certainly got my attention, so I messaged him back immediately.

Let Geraldo’s enthusiasm be known.  No roadblock can be built which will hold this guy back.  Never is he anything other than exuberant about the potential of comics.  Here I was intentionally making the story as self-damning and radioactive as I could conceive.  And yet he had no problems with the two of us using our weakest skills to create the unsaleable. 

CXC – What do you mean by unsaleable?

MH- Unsaleable because the comics community is famously strident in that they take themselves far too seriously.  They love to climb up onto their cross and yell out to the crowd about how they’ve been given such a raw deal.  Victimhood is very much the fashion of the day.  It might be completely lost on them that Kirby obviously occupies a great deal of my constant brain power if his 100th birthday was something rolling around in my head back in March.  I knew to count on the predictable reactionary tantrum for a besmirching title like Fuck Kirby piggybacking the occasion, no matter its content.

I told Geraldo that nobody was going to publish this.  Nobody was going to get near it for fear of the galled backlash from all the shriekers who themselves only know that it’s Kirby’s birthday because Marvel told them a day before in order to sell them their own comic books. So props to ComixCentral, again. We did Fuck Kirby before we did Dildo Boy Origins so I wasn’t yet convinced at just how truly committed you guys were to staying consistent on your position that everyone must retain the power to sink or swim under their own merit.  Personally, if I could turn this interview around on you for a minute, I’d love to know how this concept of creative freedom became so important to you in the first place such that you’d take it to extremes like this to stay in step.

CXC – Haha! Yes. We believe strongly in freedom of expression and have put our “money where our mouths are” so to speak. If you’re going to stand on a soap box and take a stand for free speech, you better be willing to back that up with action. We are very proud of our no-censorship stance.. which is probably why we love your work so much! 

Cover “Fuck Kirby” written by Magician’s House

But, back to you. Tell us a bit about your personal website magicianshouse.com and the blog, “Comix Voodoo Hayride”. How did that come about?

Like I said, game recognizes game.  I’m always here to sing you guy’s praises not because of things that you’ve said but rather the things that you’ve done. I regret that I’ve had to turn down a few of your creator spotlight segments but I got banned from Facebook and couldn’t participate.  That’s one of the reasons I ended up launching my own website.  It became apparent to me that if I was going to continue popping off with inflammatory views then I was going to need a place where they couldn’t throw me out.  Comix Voodoo Hayride” is now my own little corner of the universe where I get to talk to whomever I want and say whatever I think.  I like highlighting the extreme personalities, whether or not I agree with them.  I’m drawn to bad apples.  I gravitate to the self taught and the self made.  I don’t care if you’re a good witch or a bad witch just so long as you’re indomitable.  It’s just the taste I developed due to my background. 

CXC – Now that you bring it up, would you mind telling us a bit of your origin story? We’ve heard from Doktor Geraldo it’s very unique.

MH – I haven’t clued you into any of that yet, have I?  Well, let me give you the nickel tour of the last thirty years. 

My mom was a runaway rambunctious beauty queen, my father a convicted mad bomber who’s doing life without parole.  Growing up I was familiar with comics but they weren’t the center of my world, magic was.  When my mother remarried an African Obeah man it gave me pretty much the keys to the kingdom; anything I wanted to know, I had access.

I was painting a lot of freight trains at the time and eventually started riding them.  One day I just never rode back.  I was fourteen.

If you’ve never ridden a freight train before, they’re sooty and everything about them is designed, from what I can tell, to hurt you.  And they’re loud.  So loud that conversation is useless and you’re left to your own interpretations of what the hand-etched symbols on the interior of all the cars mean.  The symbols were always there.  You could see them in the dark.  I could see them with my eyes closed.  With my background I was quick to assume them to be an unknown magic inscription and I fancied the trains were crisscrossing America, clandestinely feeding the country like a circulatory system with these sigils.  They influenced me to no end.  A whole lot later I found out that they were what people call Hobo Signs. 

Excerpt from “Fuck Kirby”

I met other kids painting trains.  I’d stay at their houses.  If they were into comics I would eat up their collection but the issues were always fragmented, diverse and sporadic, like channel surfing.  I found work in haunted houses, that led to some modeling, I worked a cash register at an all-night sex store.  Comics were germinating in my head all this time but I had far too much ground yet to cover.  Too many walls to bomb.  I got locked up a lot.  And I escaped a lot.  I cut off every ankle monitor ever put on me, got back up on my feet and hit the road again.

I was eventually institutionalized and finally remanded to some unknown extended family deep, deep in an undeveloped swallowing forest in Georgia.  It was like no place I’d hitherto been.  It was a real detour for me.  I found out that my grandfather had been this legendary Hitori Hanzo type character; a mountain man living in cryptic hermitage while hand-forging these widely-sought blades with components he gathered from the forest, skeletons and antlers.

Excerpt from “Fuck Kirby”

Having nothing to paint on and nothing to paint with while being isolated in the forest really dialed me into the history of the soil. Haha, the frequency of all those ghosts in the ground.  So I started drawing and found that comics were calling distantly to me out there from the future like a time-traveling dog whistle.  Now I’ve been drawing for three years.

CXC – Wow. Just wow is all we can say! You really must write an autobiography at some point!

Now, you say you’ve been drawing comics for 3 years. Can you tell us a bit about some of the projects you’ve worked on?

MH – I’ve gotten to work on a lot of books that you can conveniently find right here on ComixCentral like Project Shadow Breed and Dildo Boy Origins.  You can catch me at magicianshouse.com which I update several times a week.  I would invite you to see the pernicious ten page mini-comic Fuck Kirby for yourself and stamp your size eight shoes around angrily if need be.  

CXC – Wonderful. Thank you so much for this candid and fascinating look into your work and the woman behind the art! We’ve enjoyed your story immensely and look forward to all your future endeavors. We have a feeling you’re going to be making some huge splashes and waves in the coming years!

Alright, it’s been great talking to you and we’ll do it again soon.

Corsair is illustrated by Magician’s House

And with that, we’d like to thank Magician’s House again for joining us. You can find out more on her website, connect through twitter or right here on ComixCentral. 

Twitter   |   magicicanshouse.com   |  CXC profile





 

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Review: The Legend Of Pinky #1

comixcentral_comicbook-review_the-legend-of-pinky
Review  |   The Legend Of Pinky #1   |   Carbon Age Comics  |   Written and Illustrated by: Craig Johnson II |  Reviewer: Rob Wrecks  |

Summary: Follow the exploits of a cocky young hoodlum, “Pinky” Horwitz, as he navigates race, nightlife and a shaky criminal career in 1928 New York City!

When ComiXCentral sent this my way and I saw the title, I legit thought this was a continuation of the ‘Pinky’s’ films. As we seriously need a comic of them movies! Naturally, I ended up being wrong on that count but I found myself not being too disappointed by that. And come on! Who doesn’t love a comic set in gangster eras like the 20’s and higher? Crazy people, that’s who!

Craig Johnson III certainly does a great job in capturing the era he’s writing in and I can only imagine how much time he spent to research in order to make it look like a genuine 20’s era story. Although, judging by a few unnecessary spaces in certain areas, it does seem like he could use an editor to prevent that kind of thing from happening in the future. Now, because of the setting here, you may not want to read this if you’re easily triggered by the social norms this comic clearly has. I like how Craig uses only a few colors for his art in this. Making it easy in its own way to tell who is who as otherwise it might be somewhat difficult to tell who anyone is if it was only done in black and white.

Pinky himself, while a gangster, is definitely the type who loves to party it up and doesn’t care who it is he’s partying with. And I can only imagine that doesn’t settle well with some considering the time period and all. Gotta wonder how much of his personality comes from his ma? As she seems quite the character herself and I kinda wouldn’t mind seeing more of her! And considering a few of Pinky’s actions, I can see why she’s worried about losing her boy.



I will say you’ll want to read and check out each face carefully as you might get confused at certain points. As Pinky and Sam kinda look alike at one point and when we get a scene shift from the past and back to the present, we get no warning and it’s a little jarring at first. Trouble is definitely a brewin’ in all corners as we get to the last page of this first issue and it seems like Pinky is definitely at the center of it all in one way or another.

How this will all play out is anyone’s guess aside from Craig’s and I can’t wait to see how it all goes down. Especially a certain view of Lump’s about Pinky that will probably come back to bite him in the butt!

So if Gangster era comics is your jam, don’t sleep on this one!

Editor’s Note: Both Print and Digital versions of ‘The Legend of Pinky’ can be found right here!


Find more great Indie Comic review from Rob Wrecks on indiecomix.net





 

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Making Comics; An Interview with Spencer & Locke Creator, David Pepose

making comics blog david pepose

Many of us who read comics would love to write them.

We’ve studied the art of them for years, perhaps decades, and often assure ourselves, if, given the chance, we could create something kickass. Still, there are some things you need to know before embarking upon this path of comic greatness. Having a story is definitely part of it but there’s much more involved than that. In fact, having a manuscript of a finished comic, completed even, won’t be enough to even get your submission looked at by most publishers, if not all. So, to help navigate these troublesome waters I contacted David Pepose, writer, and creator of the new critically acclaimed Spencer & Locke series published by Action Lab comics. Pepose spent several years writing and immersed in the culture of comics, working both at DC Comics and Newsarama before landing his gig as an official, badge-toting member of the highly selective Comic Book Writers Club. (Which isn’t really a thing but sounds pretty cool so maybe it should be.) And while Pepose had plenty of sage tips and advice to offer, there’s one he proposes as the most important. “At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how well you write, although that’s important, it’s all about relationships. It’s about reaching out to people and making that human connection.” ‘Nuff said, right?

1. Study the structure.

Comic books are infamous for having insane plots but unlike other mediums they generally all have the same basic structure to them; 20-22 pages of words and pictures, text boxes, dialogue balloons, etc. Pepose spent a lot of time with the format writing reviews for comic sites like Newsarama, where he spent the better part of eight years before embarking on Spencer & Locke “writing reviews and breaking down the stories every single day.” Even a long-time comic fan can have trouble navigating the confinement of a comic book; having exactly the same amount of room to tell a particular slice of a larger story, being able to choose only the material that is relevant and moves the story. You don’t have to write reviews for eight years but you do need a solid grasp on the basic mechanics of comic book style story-telling. Publishers and the titles they publish follow, essentially, the same format. Of course, that shouldn’t discourage creativity within the form but this is one instance where you really do have to know the rules before you can break them.

2. Have your entire story completed before reaching out to artists.

At some point, you’re going to have to start lining up an art team. And when you do, you need to have your act together, Bub. Whether they’re working pro bono or you’re paying them a rate, illustrators (and inkers and colorists and letterers) probably have better things to do than waiting for the possibility of work from someone who hasn’t gotten past the initial concept of their comic book idea. With his own series, Pepose waited until he knew exactly where he was taking Spencer & Locke. “I didn’t approach an artist until I had a script and a treatment for all the issues already done,” Pepose recounts, then adds, “I can’t just expect somebody to take a leap of faith on my story.” As the writer and the creative force behind the comic, you’re the leader. And no one wants to follow the lead of someone who doesn’t know where they’re going.


3. Don’t worry about writing in order.

Pepose always keeps Joss Whedon’s sage advice in mind when writing: “Nobody said you can’t have dessert first.” In the course of plotting out your comic’s story, there will certainly be moments and scenes that stand out more than others, ones you’re dying to get out. So, if you’ve hit a wall in your writing, skip ahead to those scenes and write those. That’s exactly what Pepose did. He knew from the very beginning that he wanted a car chase in Spencer & Locke which was one the very first things he wrote. And while writing out of order isn’t for everyone it can definitely help to spur creative momentum if you feel yourself floundering.

4. Finding an artist/art team is the hardest and most crucial part.

Comic books without art would just be short plays so it should go without saying that you can’t get a comic book published without it. Unlike most other writing outlets publishers, from behemoths Marvel and DC to indies such as Spencer & Locke’s Action Labs will accept submissions only as a finished/semi-finished product. “All you need is six pages and a cover,” according to Pepose, but that finished six pages and a cover is harder work than you might imagine. You’re going to need someone for the pencils. An inker. (Pepose suggestion, as difficult as it may be: to find a penciller that can ink.) You’re going to need a colorist, unless you’re going for a black and white aesthetic, although there’s a reason the overwhelming majority of comic books are in color. Oh, yeah, you’re going to need someone to do the lettering. To cut some expenses and time looking for your perfect band of merry comic creators, Pepose advocates learning some things yourself. Online classes, YouTube videos, etc. If nothing else, Pepose says, it will help you better communicate with your art team if you understand some basics behind the elements of creating the finished comic.

5. Be prepared to spend some money.

It’s very possible to assemble an art team that will work for future fortune and glory, or at least a penciller, but it’s more common to pay upfront costs to illustrators, inkers and letterers. Which is fair. It’s work being done with no concrete promise of that future fortune and glory. But even if you do somehow manage to enlist a dedicated, completely pro bono art team, you’re still going to have to spring for submission copies. And while there are publishers who accept online submissions, we still live in a comic book world where paper is still king. It’s something very unique to comics; that relationship the reader has with the physical book, and prospective publishers are no different.

6. Comics are best when stories and characters are relatable.

Marvel comics took off in a big way when Stan “The Man” Lee and Jack “The King” Kirby began introducing characters much more akin to the true nature of our human psyche. The Fantastic Four was a family who bickered but still loved each other; Spider-Man was a shy, bullied high schooler who had failed to use his great powers responsibly and inadvertently got his uncle killed; the X-Men were mutant freaks shunned by the rest of the world. Take away the optic eye blasts, telekinesis, and web-shooters and you’ve got a mess of humanity that anyone can relate to at some point in their lives, and that holds as true today as ever.

7. Keep your stories small.

In a world of cosmic distances spanning unfathomable light-years and men and women who can fly around the world in minutes, this rule seems counterintuitive. Why not go all out? Pepose advises against this, at least for newcomers. “Don’t try and convince people you can run a marathon when no one’s even seen you walk,” warns Pepose. Spencer & Locke revolves around a detective and his partner, a stuffed, one eyed panther and is proof you don’t have to confine yourself to average every day subjects for a powerful, focused story. But he keeps the cast small, the story streamlined. That’s the walk before the run. A sprawling space opera featuring dozens of characters and locations are the bread and butter of many publishers, but when you’re trying to break in you should be able to elevator pitch the summation of your story, Pepose says. Publishers want to see how well you can handle something small before giving you a 24 issue deal.”

8. Finish It!

Repeat after Pepose: “Finish it!” No, really. Finish it. It’s the only way you’re going to see your name in the funny pages.

Connect with David and Buy Spencer & Locke at the links below:

Twitter   |  actionlabcomics.com





 

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Stephen Gammell: A Friendship Forged in the Dark

stephen gammell

 Greetings, fellow fear followers. Tis’ another frenzied frightfest filled with eerie exploration.

Grab your torches and pitchforks. Let us mob-march together across yet another murderous moor. Tonight we brave the mist in search of the ultimate bearer of bedtime burdens. He’s the drawer of dark art that gifted us our first ghoul-gasm. He’s the herald of horror headaches, and he put the chill in children illustrations. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m speaking, of course, about the juicy genius of Mr. Stephen Gammell.

He’s one of those mystery magicians who has a reputation for macabre magic among the youth of the 80’s and 90’s. You may not know his name, but trust me, you know his work. He’s been doing his thing as a paid professional since the 70’s, but he’s particularly fear-famous for the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series. Like many currently-early-30’s children, I was introduced by this dude (along with writer Alvin Schwartz) to terror tales in the best way. You see, fear is a tricky thing. Often times, it keeps us from moving forward. However, true morbid masters of the netherrealm find a way to give darkness a sort of awkward gravitational pull. Fear is supposed to be something you run from, but Gammell turned darkness into a siren’s song that many adolescents are still singing along to today. Gammell didn’t always do horror, but he was always brilliant. Like all kings and queens of creativity, his brilliance had to start somewhere.


From a very young age, Gammell’s parents put a perfectly good sheet of paper in front of him to ruin. Those are paraphrased words from Gammell himself. It’s easy to see how a young son might get “drawn in” by illustration when his dad is the art editor for a major magazine. Encouragement from your parents is one thing, but I think growing up in Iowa must have been an even bigger influence. I mean seriously, what’s in Iowa? I’m pleading ignorance here. Will someone please message me and tell me what exciting thing existed in Iowa as a kid 50 years ago or something? Oh, my bad. I forgot. You guys have Albert, the world’s largest bull. My life is made. Thanks, Iowa. Anyway, sorry for my lack of Iowa knowledge. I’m sure Stephen probably appreciates it a lot more. If you are reading this Mr. Gammell, please accept my sincerest apologies. Des Moines is much more interesting to me now than ever, thanks to your existence.

In my limited experience, I find that art is not something you chase.

It seems to be something that always chases you. I read that, from a very young age, Stephen Gammell found pencils much more interesting than toys. I also read that he credits drawing as the thing that “got him through” school. I don’t know about you fellow creators out there, but I definitely credit curiously cultivated fantasy as the ultimate cure to the soul-sucking scholastic disease we adult children now call boredom. For the record, it’s not the fault of your teachers, my friends. It is the system’s fault. If you don’t believe me, just check out one of the old school houses circa 1876. I hear they have one in Iowa. You’ll find that it looks strikingly similar to our modern day desk dilemma. Alas, my ADD has appeared again, and this is a topic for another time. For now, back to Stephen. P.S. This article does not reflect the opinions of ComixCentral, nor does it belittle the value of education for the youth. P.P.S. Yes it does. P.P.P.S. Go to school anyway. Stephen did. He did not, however, go to school for art.

Like many unique geniuses, Gammell didn’t have any formal artistic training. There’s nothing wrong with going either way necessarily, but those who don’t follow formulas are bound to find something special. I would venture to guess that they find their own way a bit faster, but everyone has influences. Gammell was first influenced by the periodical illustrations his father would bring home from the office. As a songwriter/musician by trade, I was first influenced by Brian Wilson and my mom’s old THK tapes of The Beach Boys Greatest Hits. What can I say? We’re all a product of our surroundings.

Once Gammell came into his own, his first published illustrations came in the form of squirrels declaring war on a farmer. The book: A Nutty Business written by Ida Chittum. Since then he’s illustrated/written over 50 stories and poems. Other illustrated works include: Old Black Fly, Mudkin, and, one of my personal favorites, The Relatives Came (written by Cynthia Rylant). Incidentally, this one came out the year I was born. While these were not especially creepy, you can see Gammell’s style in each picture book. His illustrations have a way of both complementing the writer and maintaining a unique, very memorable signature all its own. He was a runner-up for The Caldecott Medal in 1982 for Where the Buffaloes Begin (written by Olaf Baker) and finally nabbed the award in 1982 for Song and Dance Man (written by Karen Ackerman). The Caldecott Medal is a pretty major award in the league of little kid literary gentleman. Unlike the sexy leg lamp in A Christmas Story, this award actually means something.

Now that some back story has been taken care of, let us return to why we are here together.

While some of Gammell’s literary partnerships may have won awards over the years, no partnership has created more buzz, or more controversial excitement, than his literary marriage of imagination with the flesh fevered folklore king, writer Alvin Schwartz. Both creative wizards remembered something that so many “adults” often forget. There’s this phrase around storytelling and self-esteem every kid grows up getting sick of, thanks to every kindergarten teacher ever. Say it with me, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” It’s a childishly delicious sentiment with a gushy cliche’ center, but the inside truth is that pictures mean so much more than “a thousand words” when you’re somewhere between 9 years old and a “hormonecidal” maniac. As a youth pictures mean everything. There’s no better tapestry of that understanding than the covers on the front of any ORIGINAL Scary Stories tale. We’ll talk about why I capitalized original in a moment. For now, let’s take a ride back ‘round a crooked carousel of magnificently mangled memories full of creaky stairs, angry shutters, haunted whispers, and cat-eye shadows. What was your favorite story, and perhaps more importantly (since Gammell is our focus today), what was your favorite image? I honestly can’t decide. Let’s you and I go through some of them briefly, and maybe you can help me remember the best of the best.

There’s something about “The Red Spot” that sticks with you. I scratch my cheek just thinking about it. The illustration for “Oh Susannah” doesn’t really connect with the story, but it sure reaches into the imagination. If you need immersion therapy into the depths of dying female desperation, definitely check out the images from “The Bride” and “The Haunted House.” Last, but not least, the image (and story) that never left me to this day has to be “Harold.” I can’t really explain it. Maybe it’s because I have a farmhand’s soul. Maybe it’s because the story addresses bullying in the best way, and I was sort of going through some of that stuff in my own life at the time. Either way, trust me on this, don’t torture things you don’t fully understand, even if it’s something as simple as a scarecrow named Harold.

As I examined some of these stories from my past, my girlfriend remarked, “I can’t believe they thought these stories and pictures were okay for kids!” THAT, my friends, is exactly my point. The reason why these stories are so beloved is because both Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell approached their passion with bravery. Even more so, they had faith– faith in their audience regardless of age. Nightmares were not to be shied away from, but exposed for what they were and are still today.  It seems to me that both the artist in question (Gammell) and the writer (Schwartz) understood the difference between “childish” and children, “youth” and young adult. It’s an important distinction. Any artist with an ounce of courage puts passion in front of controversy. They put joy ahead of concern. They value charisma beyond critique. You get it. If you take one thing from this piece, I hope it’s this: push boundaries in order to get pushed back. Otherwise, you’ll always be one step behind the artist you were meant to be. With that said, every artist has their own mental paint brush. The same story project could be given to ten different illustrators, and they would have ten different takes. So let’s take a quick look at the Scary Stories 30th Anniversary blunder and my thoughts around the new illustrations.

Brett Helquist is a brilliant illustrator. Do you hear me people? For real though, he’s really good. He can’t stand up to Gammell, but that’s not really his fault (kind of). Before I start to ramble, let me back up a bit. For those of you who didn’t know, Harper Collins decided to accidentally ruin lives when they had Stephen Gammell’s illustrations redone for the 30th Anniversary release of the Scary Stories series. If you don’t believe me, check out some of the Amazon reviews. All the one-star writeups come from surprised angry readers expecting a night scream and getting a whimper at best. I’d break down how I feel with words here, but again, pictures are worth so much more in this scenario.

Bottom line: Brett’s great. He’s best known for his work with Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler) and A Series of Unfortunate Events. The fact is, his stuff would probably work with just about anything else. I did some research, arguably limited, and found all these people hating on Brett for his part in destroying memories of our childhood. Look, stop hating on this guy. He’s awesome. He was hired to do a job, and he did it as he saw fit. It’s not like he stood in a candlelit room cackling while dismantling the dreams of Stephen Gammell after he got the call from the publisher. If you’re gonna hate on anyone, you should probably hate on Harper Collins. They’re the ones who finally caved in to all the helicopter parents and book ban lists. If you’re one out of a million people who actually like the new illustrations, good for you. I know what you might be thinking– something along the lines of, “Brett’s illustrations are more directly connected to the story.” Guess what? You’re right. However, you are once again missing the point.

Scare-reaction is much more about what you CAN’T see.

I don’t know Gammell personally, so I’m not sure whether his vision was a happy accident or a well-thought out gallery of gore. However, it’s obvious that Stephen understood that the one thing more important to a kid than pictures is imagination. Of all the things an adult world can stop, imagination isn’t one of them. Parents can’t protect their kids from an imagination anymore than they can stop them from growing up. A message to all the parents who hate on Gammell’s illustrations: go away. No one likes you. Fear builds strength and character, and as a hopeful father myself, I’d much rather that fear come from Scholastic than some street corner. If fear is learned under the covers, within the confines of a book, in a happy home, then it can be slowly absorbed, explored, and, on some level, appreciated. If it is thrust upon you in some dark alley, then all you’ve got is fight or flight, and that, I’m afraid, is barely human. If anything, Gammell’s art reminds us that we aren’t just animals fleeing from life. We are people. We are people with hearts that beat for the sake of adventure, even if that adventure is so frightening that our hearts seem to leap ahead of our chest. As a kid, Gammell (and Schwartz) taught me that I could handle more than I bargained for, and I felt stronger for it. If you’re still haunted by these images, then good; they did their job. Besides, that’s what therapy is for. There are limits to fear, but they are only as limited as the human experience itself. You might say that bravery is at the heart of storytelling. It’s not something you’re born with. It’s something you find. His gritty imagery helped me smile in the face of darkness. We still don’t always get along, but thanks to Stephen Gammell, the dark and I will always be good friends.





 

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Review: Arkade – Can the vikings of Arkade survive the nothingness?

comic book review arkade

Art

Elaine is always great (read “Look Straight Ahead” if you haven’t done this already)!  The layouts, the character designs, the colouring, the lettering, she does it all folks!  The pixilation effect Elaine created is fresh and adds a lot to the tone and setting of Arkade.

Story

Mark crafted a solid story here.  There is a world within a world, life outside the cartridge impacts the story within.  The characters are all searching for something; for the game dwellers it is a way to survive and stay relevant, for the video game stoners it is nostalgia.

I felt there is an existentialist aspect to this story.  The cartridge folk face an absurdist threat of nothingness (“The Never Ending Story”).  The bored stoners roam through a video game store, looking for a distraction.  It is people trying to come to terms with their situation, and find meaning in what they are choosing.

ComixCentral is selling “Arkade” in PDF format: https://www.comixcentral.com/product/arkade/

You can learn more about Mark and Elaine’s projects on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CuckoosNestPress/




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The Eyrie: Midnight Walk on the Beach  

the eyrie comic book review

Trick or treat, indie idolaters. No, it isn’t Halloween, but it might as well be. You know how I get truly, madly, deeply giddy over spooky, ghastly, creepy storytelling. Now that I’ve reminded you of my bias, we can begin.

I don’t know if I would really call my loveable lament a review as much as the electronically written equivalent of my joygasm. That last word is in the urban dictionary, by the way. Don’t like it? Don’t read my stuff. No one loves the angry nun living inside of you who constantly regrets her vow of celibacy. If you care about that word, then your definition of terror lies in a classroom on the end of a ruler. It’s archaic, and that nun is most likely dead. The Eyrie by Mr. Thom Burgess, on the other hand, is much more frightening and very much alive. Mostly alive. Maybe just sort of alive. It depends on your medical opinion of certain longfellows.  



First of all, Illustrator Barney Bodoano’s style is the PERFECT dark cloak to cast over Thom’s tightly knit words. Notice I said cloak here, not cloud. That’s because the art of The Eyrie feels more like a fabric than a storm.

It’s the kind of creepshow you feel just attop your skin with plenty of room for goosebumps.

His work reminds me of my first favorite illustrator Stephen Gammell, who brought horror to life in the “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” series of Alvin Schwartz fame. I’ve always enjoyed the challenging maze of haunting illustrations because the creator has to draw a fine line between frightening and fascinating. In my view, the art is a slightly matured shade of Gammells mastery. Nothing can replace my first childhood horror gem, but as far as one-shots go, I’m made both small and fragile by Bodoano’s vision. The world is unfamiliar, unsettling, and still somehow nostalgic. I couldn’t have drawn a better picture myself. Well done.

If any of you readers out there are actually writing out your own panic-filled panels, I strongly recommend you take note of how Thom Burgess handles exposition and tension. Our protagonist Rebecca is introduced in the midst of a tense moment right off the bat. The basic details of our story are sprinkled on an icing of frustration and sarcasm that allows for both familiarity and sympathy. You feel connected to the character, and despite her clearly eerie road trip, we’re all ready for a ride along.   

I found the whole read to be a wonderful descent. We begin by slipping into something mildly uncomfortable. The greasy history of our English backdrop adds a barbarous fog to the mix. In the case of Rebecca, I suppose it’s really a “be careful what you didn’t wish for” situation. Disconnection, isolation, and “generally pissed off” are all wonderful ingredients for madness. Still, our girl seems to keep it together for the most part, considering the noises in the shadows.

This story has plenty of the classic tropes we’ve all come to expect. Still it’s clear that Thom has cut his teeth on fright-night noir and the criminal creep themes in order to find his own voice of darkness. Most importantly, he understands what it takes to craft a scare. That is to say, the build up is everything. It’s not about the moment itself, but the vision you paint around it. While torture and sacrifice are a must in Sussex, happily, no one falls victim to your typical jump scare. I’m afraid that’s just too Hollywood, and every flesh food fan I know is over it. I think I speak for most monster maniacs when I say thanks for racking your brain for the sake of our genre.

I do not wish to take you round the final turn or through the last dark tunnel. It would be cruel of me to do so. However, Thom has earned his dance among the ghosts. He stepped onto the floor with Malevolents, and the creative choreography within The Eyrie’s pages will pull you in just long enough to stop your heart. With a well-deserved introduction from Reece Shearsmith (The League of Gentlemen, Shaun of the Dead) to get you started, you know you’re in for an interesting nightmare. Lastly, never mind a knock or two on the cottage door, but do be mindful of Mr. Owl wearing a hat. He may not be as welcoming as your childhood tootsie-pop dreams made him out to be.

You can learn more about The Eyrie here. And buy it too!





 

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Evian Rising: A Lesson in Love

evian rising comic review

What’s up manga misfits? Today we examine the architectural odyssey of Evian Rising. I do not use the word “odyssey” lightly.

As it stands, if Stephen King’s Pennywise is considered “the eater of worlds,” then Latravious Calloway may very well be the clown’s antithesis. A kind, meticulous designer whose love and devotion for his wife and daughters created a universe. That’s a pretty strong monument to unity and family compared to your last-minute-no-thought-sad-sack-cuz-girls-like-singing-things-sometimes purchase of Pitch Perfect 2 from Walmart ‘ay Jim.

Evian Rising’s creator seems to have the corner market on lavish love letters in the form of a martial arts fantasy/anime mashup.

His journey is crafted upon a sculpture of feminism that is both timeless and modern, broken from the mold of diversity, mythology and vengeance. The magnetism of the main character comes from her decisive nature. It’s up to you as the reader to decide whether the ends justify the means, but I can appreciate the story’s attempt to demonstrate the power human charisma can have over blind faith. The protagonist is both blunt and empathetic, similar to the likes of Salt or Lara Croft, and she’s just as mysterious.

With only one issue thus far, backed up by an unfinished 60 plus wikia page chalked full of backstory, character descriptions, and skill trees, it’s clear this arc is going to be a very long trip. Thankfully, we could all use a new heroine addiction. It feels a little bit like Dungeons and Dragons grew lady parts and flew into space. I’m down with that.
Since Latravious uses the graphic novel medium as a means to redefine the term “passion project,” I thought it might be best to express the creative process of Evian in the form of a sonnet, one love letter for another, if you will. A bit strange perhaps, but more than appropriate considering our topic is a little out of this world.

Evian Rising: A Sonnet

When stars could not keep locked the heaven’s lore

And humans learned the truth from stranger things

The beings with new faith were slaves no more

God’s idle hands were tricked by freedom’s ring

But while her ring burst forth with good intent

Her voice broke through the masters lazy rest

His morning fury came without consent

And stole the light the new believer’s blessed

But though the night brings monsters in his wake

The light gave birth a wish upon her death

A star with mother’s skin and daughters strength

Who would return the power that hope left

A warrior countess born without a past

Will fight to give the cosmos truth at last

~

While I’m not as familiar with our story as Latravious must be, the vast nature of its lore along with our author’s attention to detail must be nothing short of poetry.

Though it might be easy to label this tale as 2 years in the making, there’s something about the venture that is honestly timeless. While love may be the most widely worded topic in the land of art and literature, that’s only because it reminds each of us why we tell stories in the first place. That is, to tell the truth.

While I wish Evian’s rise to be a successful one, she can rest easy above the clouds knowing she’s supported via a rare and devoted romeo who really wanted to put a new spin on those three little words we all know in a big way. While we all want our creativity to shine far and wide, we often forget the value of genuine depth under all that noisy expectation. It’s all pretty wild considering a universe this big can exist around a single focal point.


This is the kind of creative journey we can always feel more than anything else.

It reminds us that “I love you” is never boring and always matters. Don’t take my word for it. You don’t need a class in Shakespeare or a course in etiquette to tell a good story. You simply need to place your heart in the hands of someone you love and let her do the talking. I have a feeling she’ll have a lot more to say than you think.


For more information about Evian Rising check out her home on the web: https://www.evianrising.com/





 

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Faithfully Human – J.M Bryan

jm bryan

 Greetings everyone. Today I’m honored to connect with the very prolific, and very honest, J. M. Bryan.

While I would normally put together some color-coded, alliteration-obsessed introduction to focus your attention, this artist is far too personal for heavy-handed words. It doesn’t take much Internet stalking to become attached to J’s style. It’s near impossible to not get pulled underneath the “criminally” emotional riptide that is Closer, and his collection of shorts, Stuff, seems to be the perfect marriage between a childish heart and an old soul. Whether you’re healed by the young vulnerability of “Broken,” or choose to breakdown reality itself with the abstract storytelling in “Galaxia Apparatus” (soaked in just the right amount of fear mind you), the journey always seems to end in quiet reflection.

Without giving away too much, Ted is my new favorite member of the undead community. J’s humorous take on humility and relationships makes being undead seem very life-like. Lastly, his colorful take on a bad dream just might leave you looking forward to your next nightmare. Take a deep breath, my friends. Let’s find out what’s it’s like inside the open heart of an artist just crazy enough to be himself.

 

Chris: Good to have you with us, J. I understand you have a comic writer in the family. Did that inspire/influence your storytelling? How long have you been writing, and what was it like shifting from poetry to short stories to novels to comics?

J: I have a cousin, Rich Woodall, who has been writing and illustrating comics for as long as I can remember. I remember being a kid looking at his comic collections and at his books thinking, “I want to make something like this someday.” So I guess it inspired in that I knew that I could do it if I put my mind to it and actually did it. My adventure in writing comics has just begun, but I’ve been writing prose and poetry since I could write. I actually have an old notebook full of “ghost stories” I wrote in first grade. They are terrible, truly terrible, but I suppose the positive side is that I was putting something down on paper. When I finally started writing comic scripts, the first few drafts were incredibly rough, but thankfully there are a lot of resources on the internet that help you learn to write in any kind of medium. So the transition really wasn’t that bad.




Chris: Kickstarter is a typical avenue for many indie comic creators, BUT I understand you managed to get it 250% funded via mostly strangers without much connection in the community or strategy. How do you explain your success?

J: Dumb luck, mostly. I was fortunate to have a lot of people share the project and, if I can take any credit (which I don’t want to), I would say that my low goal amount and low pledge levels really helped me meet my goal. I think people are a lot more likely to help any kind of crowdfunding effort when they feel like they are going to get their money’s worth or more. I tried my best to offer a lot for a little. My goal with Closer was not to make money but to make something people would want to read, so I really just wanted to get it into people’s hands.

Chris: Closer is a wonderful story. I’m curious. It’s in Black and White, and yet, Nathaniel’s love Marie has scars. The simple choice seems to pull emphasis away from the injury, but Marie is very self-conscious about them. Is that symbolic of how we as humans tend to focus on “imperfections” more than we should, or is it simply coincidence? I have many scars myself and would love your take on things.

J: I’m going to try and keep this answer as short as I can, but I could spend all day talking about this aspect of Closer because, at the core, it’s what the comic is about. I’m a believer, mostly by experience, that everyone has something that they would give up everything for. It’s that old cliché that “everyone has a price.” When I was a teenager and the story for Closer began forming in my mind, that something was love. I would have done anything to find that one person I could be with forever. Now, as a married man with kids, I think that family is that thing I would give up everything for. I would do anything to make sure they are safe and taken care of. Now those are pretty standard answers, but I wanted to explore the darker side of all this in Marie’s self-consciousness about her scars. If someone were to come along and offer to take those away, to give her the relief from the stares and the whispers of people she walked by, what would she do to get it? If there truly is something that haunts us all, something that we suffer with every day, what would we give up to have that taken away and finally be at peace? That’s really where the focus on the scars comes from.

Chris: Did you always want Closer to be a 2-Issue story? Where does your love of the short story form come from? Do you prefer a quick knockout punch to longer bouts of exploration? I understand it was initially meant to be a novel.

J: Yeah, I originally planned it to be a novel, but I found that I needed some sort of visual to go with it in order to fully tell the story that I wanted to tell faithfully. That was really frustrating to me and bothered me for a long time until I decided to put it into comic form. I fully intended to release it as a one-shot comic, but after talking with some people about it, I decided to release it in two parts to really raise the tension and have that cliff hanger that I really wanted in there. While I love a good ongoing comic, I feel it’s easier for me at this point in my writing career to write shorter stories to ensure that I can really write a full beginning, middle, and end to a story. I suppose that means that right now I write shorter stories for convenience, but I don’t want to bring myself into a situation this early on where I wouldn’t be able to finish something that I started. I must also add that some of my favorite books growing up were the collections of short stories of any genre, especially scary stories. Those have always meant a lot to me because I spent so much time getting into them.

Chris: I love to read. I tend to dive into non-fiction, though I agree with you in terms of it being dry at times. Stephen King taught me to love the more imaginative form, but why do you feel reading fiction is important for people in general?

J: I think that any kind of reading is beneficial. For instance, I noted recently to someone that while I might not enjoy a book like Twilight (just an example, no one needs to jump on me), I know that I can learn something from the writing, whether it is what to do or what not to do, when writing a book. Reading fiction allows me to explore worlds I never imagined and can really open my mind to new possibilities with my own creations. Even if you aren’t looking that deeply into the work, there are many classic works of fiction that challenge us in many ways or just entertain us. Some fall into both those categories, being both entertaining and challenging, but either way I believe they can be beneficial to anyone. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse taught me to challenge my faith. Harry Potter was a ton of fun and taught me a lot about right and wrong. We can always learn, whether it’s a biography about a president or an outer space adventure.

Chris: My love of comics has been a tremendous learning experience. I’m still trying to understand the importance of lettering. Can you tell me where your passion for it comes from, and why it’s more important than new readers might realize?

J: Someone told me that good lettering is pretty much invisible, but bad lettering can be a flashing light on the page. I think this is incredibly true. If the lettering is bad it can make a page confusing, difficult to read, or ruin what could be a great comic by making it feel like a jumbled mess. Good lettering, on the other hand, makes a comic flow in such a way that you barely even know it’s there. I think the good lettering is the reason why lettering has gone unnoticed, which is a good thing.  I have a bit of history with graphic design and typography, which led me to look into learning lettering as another form of comics to explore. I like to make things look clean, and taking a comic and trying to make it readable is exciting to me. I’m a bit of a design nerd.

Chris: I read that you believe the Internet tends to “frame” a creator’s vision. Can you tell me more about that, and why it might be something worth avoiding as a creator?

J: Absolutely. We live in this “social media era” where what’s trending seems to be monitored more than real world issues. In that world, our ideas and opinions literally change with the time of day because we are constantly looking around to see what’s popular and what people want. Unfortunately, this sometimes can cause people to limit their vision and their minds to just that scope of view. Sometimes in comic-making you have to make the stuff that no one wants to read just because you want to make it. We need to be alright with not being the popular comic. If we are constantly chasing trends, we betray the creative spirit within us all. I truly believe that. We need to make what we want to, not what the internet wants. On the positive side, though, if you hit the right side of one of those trends it can really boost careers and help spread your work. Retweets and shares can boost exposure exponentially. There are two sides to everything, I think.

Chris: You know more than anyone that the Internet also allows for collaboration. It’s one of my favorite things about creativity. Tell us about what that has been like for you, and how other people have helped bring your vision to life.

J: This has been the coolest thing for me. Because of the connectivity of social media and sites like Reddit, I’ve been able to work with people from all over the globe. Only in 2017 can a guy from the US work with a Serbian artists and a British letterist. Only in 2017 can I talk to people from 4 different time zones on 4 different continents. We may take this for granted a lot, but I had to take a step back in awe at the fact that this was the reason my comic could be made. While I have met and made friends with an artist from the area in which I live, when I started making comics my “creative circle” was more of a dot, me. Closer came to be because I put out ads on social media and met the right people.

Chris: Stuff was a really interesting collection of shorts. It’s very clear that you have a mind of exploration and vulnerability. I think everyone has their own answer to this, but why is it important to make storytelling so personal?

J: To be honest, I don’t think a comic is worth reading if it’s not personal in some way to the creator. The reason I think that is because I feel like we are more invested in the things we create if there’s a piece of us in it, not just something we did for kicks with no thought. What makes any comic unique is that it is written/illustrated/colored/lettered by different people with varying experiences and feelings. If they put those into their work, readers get a very personal, yet different story. It makes our books special. It makes them part of us and that’s something to cherish and be proud of.

Chris: It’s clear to me that faith and family are very important to you. Since you’ve had the courage to be so personal with your audience in your storytelling, may I be so bold as to ask about your own love story? How did you meet your other half, and how has family been an asset to your own creativity?

J: My wife really saved my life. I met her at a time in my life where I was pretty sure I was going to die alone and didn’t really know what my purpose was. We met when one of my exes told me about this site she met her husband on, Christian Mingle (yes, the one with the terrible commercials). I didn’t really know what to expect, but, to make a long story short, I ended up meeting my wife. It turned out that she went to highschool with one of my best friends and knew a lot of the same people that I did. I think that’s what made her decide to actually meet me. Since then, our life together has been a whirlwind. We dated for just over 2 years before we got married, and we now have two beautiful baby girls. They really are my whole world, and it absolutely frames my writing. As I watch my girls grow, I’m leaning toward more all-ages comics because I want to make things that they can enjoy. At the same time, though, I now understand the heroes in the books that sacrifice it all to save someone because that’s what I would do for them. They have made me a better writer, and I’m even more determined to succeed in what I do because I want them to be proud of me.

Chris: Thank you J. It’s been a joy to learn from you.


As much as I value words on a page as conduits for learning, my true love for individual creativity comes from those moments that transcend skill, methodology, or practice– something that can’t be read in a book or absorbed from a computer screen.

The truth is, we do not find creativity. Creativity finds us when we are ready. J. M. Bryan is more than ready. His love story alone is proof that honesty and art can come together to form an endearing and trustworthy spirit I can only describe as family. His pages feel like one-on-one conversations. His body of work feels like bandages anyone would love to wear. He’s the new medicine man of the indie comic world with plenty of scar tissue to go around. Don’t worry. There’s nothing to hide. With someone like J. M. Bryant around, you might just give those battle lines you’ve drawn over the years a much closer look.

To learn more about what J.M is up to, buy his work or just connect, check out the links below:

jmbryanwrites.myportfolio.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jmbryanwrites/

CXC: @jmbwrites

ComixShop: Little Monster Comics





 

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Gilbert Deltrez: Demons, Dreams, and Determination

Hello again, my fellow spawn of supernatural storytelling.

Today, I’m tempting the pentagram in an effort to understand the tortured tenacity of Gilbert Deltrez. Let us join him on a foray of flesh flying fanaticism. We’ll delve into various dark projects, crush some Kickstarter, and learn about the inspiration monster within. If you’ve got the courage, let’s do some dimension hopping with a devilishly kind comic chameleon. If we’re lucky, we’ll get back here in one piece, covered in a new shade of red of course.


Chris: Hey Gil, thanks for joining us man! First off, how long have you been dreaming up demons? Sometimes people use art to release the nightmares they have in their heads. Is your process more cathartic, or do you simply love the macabre? For me, it’s a little bit of both I’m afraid.

Gil: As an 80’s child I kinda grew up with a deep infatuation to horror. Movies like The Pit, Child’s Play, Nightmare on Elm Street, and The Exorcist ruined me in all the right ways. As much as I love a good ghost story, they don’t do anything for me. Ghosts can’t hurt you. Demons can. Their effectiveness stems from the morality of one’s spirit. For me, the demonic subject alone has compelled me to flesh out narratives that evoke people to search within themselves. 

Gilbert Deltrez

Chris: Did your parents have any influence on your artistic choices, or even your vision to pursue art as a career? Sometimes it’s harder for parents to get behind a young artist’s obsession, especially if it has darker themes. As an artist myself, I’d love your take on things.

Gil: My artistic endeavor came after much soul-searching, and coming to the realization that a career in the arts wasn’t something that’s inherently viewed as attainable in my cultural circle as a Latin American. But in a general sense, my parents were behind me. Realistically, they didn’t view comic book writing as a career worth pursuing, or investing money in, but for me, obviously it goes way beyond a means to make money. It’s a way of life. It’s sharing a distinct viewpoint that only I am capable of. It’s a voice. Although the darker themes may spurn some, my message is ultimately one that brings light. 



Chris: Tell me about “Under the Flesh.” Is that the story that got you started with indie comic dreams, or were there prior attempts? Why did you have to tell that particular story?

Gil: “Under The Flesh” is very special to me. It was my first jump into the world of comic book creation. I learned by making tough mistakes. What started as my personal love letter to the zombie genre evolved into a psycho-spiritual apocalypse story. We’ve already completed three issues of a six-issue arc.

Chris: My understanding is that LAIR is a 60- or so page, one shot graphic novel, as opposed to broken down issues of UTF. As a writer, what freedom do you experience in a one-and-done scenario like LAIR? What challenges do you experience that didn’t apply to UTF?

Gil: LAIR is all about closure. As an avid comic reader, it gets hard to keep up with all the glorious comic book fodder available for our optic spams. So many Issues. Volumes. Trades. Because of that, I wanted to write a complete story. Something with a beginning, middle, and end, where readers can gauge my work. Like a mini movie in comic book form.

Chris: What’s your process like? I love storytelling but I struggle with outlines. I tend to start with a situation and let my brain figure out the story from there. Do you feel outlines are necessary? What’s your best advice for new writers?

Gil: Everyone has his or her own method. Style. Routine. Mantra. I don’t mind outlines. I’ve written stories which started from a cool title that just popped in my head or a scene that manifests subconsciously from something else. I’ve even created a project that sparked from a bizarre dream. Usually, once key pieces are in place, I figure out the cast, plot, overall direction, and then start handwriting before I type it out. But outlines are pivotal. And in other cases, not so much.

Chris: How does the off-duty cop in LAIR differ from the super-soldier in UTF? They both seem like gritty individuals with their own personal struggles, but I’d love to gain an understanding of the character depth.

Gil: In UTF, our super-soldier is eager to channel his untapped power in an apocalyptic world. He’s unaware what he’s capable of and wants to push his limits, even if it puts himself in immediate danger. He’s a man of faith. He’s not utterly hopeless. In LAIR, our off-duty cop is a brash, irreligious man who’s tired of being typecast by society, even though he’s a cop. His pride is so strong that he’s willing to walk away from the woman he loves because he can’t stand her elitist father.

Chris: You seem like a Kickstarter veteran. As an indie creator who has learned a lot in a relatively short period of time, what is the most important piece of advice you can provide?

Gil: DON’T GIVE UP. If you’re determined, you’ll tough it out. I’m as marginalized as they come, and my path to publication is double the uphill with triple the battle. My goal is to finish what I start. As a comic book writer, there are many things out of my scope of control, so I like to focus on what I have power over.

Chris: Speaking of which, you’ve got a lot of faith and courage attached to the 10k goal for LAIR. Where does that kind of courage come from, and how can we help get it out there (besides just telling our friends, of course)?

Gil: Faith is what gives me my courage. I believe in LAIR. I financed the finished cover and first page out of pocket because I’m confident in the strength of the project. Sadly, since I don’t have a disposable income, I need to rely on crowdfunding to shoulder the burden. Anyone that knows comics can see that the creative team behind LAIR is of the highest order. We’re all self-taught artists, respectively, and we all suffer from delusions of grandeur. We’re unknown, which makes getting word of our project all the harder. We’re banking on word of mouth because my voice doesn’t hold much weight in the comic world right now. Hopefully that will change slightly with LAIR.

Chris: I see various influences in your work. I like the “Walking Dead” vibes, and with all these demons, The Exorcist has got to be in there somewhere. Based on a limited understanding of our heroes, I’m gonna guess… Frank Castle is hidden in the shadows as well? Who’s your biggest influence as a storyteller?

Gil: Frank Castle is one of my favorite superheroes after Batman and Spiderman. As far as influences? I’ve got many. Romero, Fulci, Tarantino, Stephen King, Koontz, Joe Hill, Kirkman, Snyder, James Wan, and Jordan Peele. But my biggest storytelling influence comes from a prophetic humble man who rode a donkey while claiming to be king for his people.

Chris: Finally my friend, what’s the most exciting thing in your life outside of LAIR at the moment?

Gil: The most exciting things outside of my life are the underprivileged third grade students I serve five days out of the week. I hope to inspire them as if I was clad in spandex with a gust of wind winnowing beneath my cape.


There you have it, admirers of the underworld.

My expectations were exceeded yet again. Gil is not only a well-read dreamer, but as humble as they come. He’s brave enough to explore a harsher side of humanity, and I, for one, am brave enough to follow him into the depths. We’ve not only managed to survive a stroll in the gorgeous midnight gardens of good and evil, but also somehow managed to come out brighter on the other side. Gil’s work is indeed a worthy search of the soul. Like the best storytellers, he entertains us in the most “graphic” sense of the word while also telling us the truth in secret. It seems we must grab hold of the darkness tightly if we are to find the light within.

To contribute to Gil’s Kickstarter, learn more about his work or just connect, you’ll find all those links below:

Kickstarter – Lair

twitter: @GilbertDeltrez

Website: http://www.undertheflesh.com/





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J Adam Farster: The New Blue Bomber

j adam farster

What’s up, super seekers? It’s time for another life dive dance, and I’m happy to cut in.

For today’s episode, I get to slice through the mental majesty of J Adam Farster and his 4 piece 80’s arc explosion, Humalien. It’s wild whack-attack, GotG meets Family Ties vibes sound like the Happy Days, all-ages, oddball orchestra everyone hears coming from the pit of their soul. It’s accidental humor meets an electric slide surprise. By the way, he does all the illustration and storytelling himself. Enough jib-jab. Let’s explode onto the scene.

J. Adam Farster / Humalien

Chris: Hey Adam. Thanks for joining us. First off, where do you fit into Humalien? Why was it so important for you to tell THIS story?

Adam: Well, in the 1900’s (’99) I had the idea and self-published a book called Y4K.  It is essentially the same as Humalien, just not as polished.  I hit some cons and showed my work around with overwhelming rejection.  I had a lot of negativity at cons, too.  It was extremely defeating.  In reality the work wasn’t great.  So I backed away and was working as a graphic artist.  I drew little comics here and there.  There were a lot of starts and stops, all the while still loving the story I had created in Y4K.  

It was almost 3 years ago talking with a friend, and then with my wife, and them both telling me to “just make the thing.”  So I re-branded, put together a Kickstarter, and made the thing.  

It was nice to make it through the project and have some extremely positive responses to the book.  It had to be time, and what I put into it, this time it feels different to be making comics.  I think it was important to complete the first 4-issue arc. There were ups and downs along the way, but ultimately having a completed project was rewarding.



Chris: Did you always intend on being the illlustrator and the storyteller? In my experience, collaboration makes it easier to market because you have more than one person pushing the content. What was it like being the lone genius? 

Adam: I like being a storyteller.  I like illustrating, but writing and coming up with ideas and figuring it all out is part of the fun.  I also have control issues; I like to be the one making the creative decisions.   Making an independent book is also a lifestyle.  You get back what you put in.  I can’t blame anyone for my failures/successes.  It all falls on me.  Not to say I don’t and won’t collaborate in the near future (foreshadowing). It just wasn’t my goal starting out.  

J. Adam Farster

Chris: Speaking of that, I read that one your most challenging things was building a brand. What was your process like? Do you have any specific MUSTS for fellow creators out there? Did Midday Monster sketches come out of that process? 

Adam: It was really just finding an audience, which I’m still looking for.  Exposure is tough in a crowded market.  I’m really just figuring it out as I go.  

As far as a MUST, I think creators need to be ok with failure. You are going to do it a ton.  Working out of that and learning is a big part of being a creator. Also, find a group of creator friends.  Start a group. Go to local drink & draw events.  Having people to bounce ideas off of is a great resource.  Plus it makes you become more social.  Sometimes you can create with them.  The group I am part of released an anthology book earlier this year called Lush.  

Midday Monsters was a plan I had that hasn’t really happened…YET.  I would like to do more live streaming and teaching/tutorials.  I just need to make time. 

My process is this:  have an idea, write a rough outline, then sketch, thumbnail, and get to work.  I have an idea and try and hit all the beats I want.  I work 100% digital with Sketchbook and Photoshop using a Cintiq, so it all goes fairly smoothly. 

J. Adam Farster

I’m working on a couple ideas right now, and I draw a lot in a sketchbook to understand the feels of characters before I can commit 100% to doing an entire book with them.  It needs to feel organic.

Chris: I checked your review on Roast.com. That must have felt pretty good. How do you handle criticism of your work? What was the most constructive advice you’ve been given as a creator? 

Adam: There have been some kind things said about Humalien and a few pretty terrible things.  When someone GETS the book, they get it and it makes me happy for days.  Some people are turned off by the art or the limitations of the story.  I’m just trying to make something fun. Everything doesn’t have to be for everyone.  I make stuff I would like to have read or would like to read and see.  You don’t see me doing a lot of superhero art because everyone does it.  How many versions of Deadpool or Batman are there out there?  They are great characters and have amazing talents working on the books.  It just isn’t what I set out to make.

The most constructive advice I’ve ever gotten was to keep making comics.  You don’t need a major publisher or anything. Anyone can make comics.

I tell this same thing to people when they ask how to get into it.  Just make your thing, put it out there.  Rinse.  Repeat. 

Chris: As far as the Humalien heroes: Ed and Plato seem brave and reckless, whereas Kuhl and Kyrja look before they leap. Which pair is more like your life style? 

Adam: I’m totally Kuhl.  He is the one who has to overthink and be the one hiding rather than right in the mix.  Ultimately I’m Ed though, even though he is all action, he is an outsider with a bunch of weirdos around him.  However, I’m sure I am the weirdo surrounded by normal people.

Chris: Speaking of reckless. I love the humorous dynamic between the characters. The dialogue seems natural. Was it easier to write the dialogue than the big picture details of the story, or was it the other way around? 

Adam: I write all the dialogue last.  I have all the art done and go in and make it flow the way I feel that is natural. Dialogue is tough to get the beats, and most of the humor is accidental.   

As long as the art hits all the story beats, then it seems to work. I have completely scrapped pages because they didn’t work sometimes 2 days before printing.

Chris:  I definitely see the 80’s vibe in the comic. You’re also clearly a Star Wars fan (Me too– WHO ISN’T?!). I also read that you were much more influenced by film and cartoons than comics themselves, at least initially. Is that true, and how has that impacted your animation style? 

Adam: I still am.  I think that film and animation are great.  There are some great comics that inspired me to take a shot.  Ultimately, it’s 80’s action/toy cartoons and movies that made me want to be a storyteller.  

Chris: I saw a sketch of Jason in your collection. I loved it. Do you have an appreciation for the hack-and-slash horror genre, and has that impacted your story telling in any way? 

Adam: I have a huge affinity for the Halloween, the first few Friday the 13th’s, and Nightmare on Elm Street movies.  I don’t think it has impacted me at all other than I love creating monsters and menacing villains.

J. Adam Farster
J. Adam Farster

Chris: Where did the idea of spontaneous combustion come from as a superpower? That’s really unique to me. Is that where the Chuck Jones/Looney Tunes influence comes into play? 

Adam: I read something about spontaneous combustion in high school, and it always fascinated me.  I thought about it a lot.  I thought of it like an electrical fire, and how cool it would be to harness the electrical power from your body and be part alien. 

Chris: I saw you went to animation school. What did you love about it? What was challenging about it? Was there a lot of critique involved (like a typical art school), or did you experience a lot of freedom? 

Adam: I did.  I went to Columbia College in Chicago.  It was great. I wanted to be Chuck Jones or Bob Clampett.  I really loved Ren & Stimpy and what John K was doing, too. While we had projects to do, we were allowed to do what we wanted with them. Critique was more on technical skills, rather, so you had a lot of room to experiment creatively.   I still love 2D and stop motion animation more than a lot of what we have going on right now.  

Chris: What’s the most exciting thing happening in your life right now outside of comics/creativity? 

Adam: I have a 3-year-old daughter, and she is the most exciting thing ever.  Everything is new, and seeing something through her eyes is so much fun.  

Adam really embodies everything representative of the indie spirit.

His grace while walking the tightrope of encouragement and criticism has provided space for a master class in independent artistry. His storytelling abilities have been crafted into a reliable catharsis of sorts. I’m excited for the next arc. If you want charming lessons in sibling rivalry, action and loyalty than look no further than Humalien. If you need a wise friend to help you navigate the oddities of life, look no further than Adam himself. He may not be a blue robot from the future, but I’d hop on the Ed express if I were you. There’s something truly “mega” in store for the man who’s just alien enough to sketch a new shade of the human experience.

J. Adam Farster

To learn more about what Adam is up to, buy his work or just connect, check out the links below:

AdamFarster.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/adamfarster

CXC: @farster13

ComixShop: Floor 13 Studios 





 

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Masks: An Apocalypse Worth Dying For

indie comic masks

Let’s start with Stanley Ipkiss. Remember? The 1994 comedy smash hit you loved when you were 7 years old because, well, Jim Carrey? ALLRIGHTY THEN!

Take his mischievous nature, and turn the psycho factor up really high.

After that’s done, move him from Eagle City to Los Angeles (because let’s be honest, it’s L.A. anyway). Easy right? Now, start lots of riots; blow up everything; kill almost everyone; fast forward about 70 years or so, while somehow feeling stuck in the past; find a way to act creepy and nonchalant at the same time; and become oddly obsessed with finding the one comic that’s really a book, that’s really a bible (maybe, I think). Congratulations! You’ve now sort of skimmed the surface of Masks #1, a new indie comic from story magician Daniel Warner and illustrator extraordinaire Matias Zeballos.


Wow! What a war-torn western celebration of mysterious sadness!

It’s like Stephen King and Quentin Tarantino made sweet dude love in a cave, and a whole population of identity-crisis-covered children came marching out the other side.

Our dark, quiet world sugarcoated in mystery and death is divided into two types of people.

The Maskless (straight shooters with well-revealed intention) and yes, you guessed it, The Masks. It seems that these shady types are the bread and butter of our massacre meal. Thankfully, though, the basic concept is merely an appetizer.

The story gnaws at a basic, enduring, and natural question of identity; however, our main protagonist does a brilliant job of walking the line between a likeable mystery man and a time bomb whose ticking pulls our eyes toward an explosion we can only hope to get caught up in.

The pacing might be overwhelming given that it’s a little over twice as long as your average indie comic, but I implore you, as the reader, to have patience. The burden is shouldered well with Zeballos’ seasoned and gritty horror-color choreography keeping you company. Think Breaking Bad with masks instead of meth.

I’d argue that there’s a little more time dedicated to backstory than Stephen King might prefer (even for Volume 1), but the influence of his Dark Tower hiding inside the panels is much appreciated. I’m also a little biased, because there’s a nice nod to my favorite indie comic—and favorite indie comic film—early on in Issue 1. It would be rather vicious of me to give it away.

All in all, it’s a slow burn worth the read.

The absence of the overall population strengthens the deafening knock of doom that overwhelms the reader. My somewhat limited understanding is that Warner and Zeballos wish for this series to expand 12 volumes, perhaps more. I certainly hope so. I want to meet the Masker. I want to get to know the Bookkeeper. I’m excited to see where the violence takes us. Most of all, I’d love to see where Warner takes such a relatable theme. Can we exist as solely deceptive or open? Do we need both worlds to coexist? Will human identity survive the apocalypse? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do hope that the story continues to take its time. There’s a bloodbath just waiting to occur, and the dark wanderer in all of us is dying to go for a swim.

A solid 4.5 out of 5 stars! 





 

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Jared Muralt: The 2-Dimensional Illusion of a 3D Life

jared muralt

Welcome weird wunderkinder!

How’s your creative genius treating you this morning? Mine has gone into hiding, thanks to the mental magnificence of Swiss illustrator, Jared Muralt. I had the pleasure of interviewing this tremendous talent and it was clear to me that the content of his character is as colorful, multifaceted and exceptional as his body of work.




Whether he’s doing freelance work or running the business rails of his Blackyard Studios, a co-founded Swiss design collective, he really has a people-first approach to his craft. It’s so interesting how microcosm moments, like a young 5-year-old mind crashing headfirst into a sci-fi adventure comic book, can create a relationship with life that no one would’ve seen coming. I’ll let him give you the gritty details, but Jared dispels the illusion of easy art with joy and grace. His tone is playful, yet serious. Much like his style, his insights come alive with a sense of innocence, vulnerability and an undeniable respect for the craft. Join me as we jump off the page and share in Jared’s love of Moebius, Star Wars, nature, and Indiana Jones (except Crystal Skull of course).

 


Chris: Hey Jared, I understand you’re from Bern.  Did that community have an influence on your style?  Did you find art or did art find you?

Jared: No, I wouldn’t really say that the community had an influence on my style, but when art found me was when I found art. When I was five years old, I found a comic book by Moebius, “Le Garage Hermétique,“ that belonged to my mother in our living room. It must have been around our house for much longer, but this is when I found it and when it found me. I was instantly mesmerized!

Chris: I understand you started with sci-fi drawings, did any early sci-fi stories influence your developing style? FYI: I came across Grand Moff Tarkin on your Instagram – AMAZING!

Jared: Again, sci-fi stories by Moebius. Of course, my early fascination and affixation with Star Wars is undeniable and prevails to this day, but I know I am not alone with this!

Chris: Tell me about your year in art school. I’ve been told it’s nothing but criticism.  You either grow from its constructive nature, learn to create despite judgment, or maybe both.  Was that your experience?

Jared: What I really took from art school was the realization that I was too young back then, too young to take life and my education and my career seriously. The following year, I worked as a cashier in a supermarket and that was much more valuable life experience than my year at art school – in that it showed me what I don’t want to do. And that I really, really have to accomplish myself and work on my skills and career unless I want to end up in a job I don’t want to do for the rest of my life. After years of school and then art school, it was this very real work experience that showed me the responsibilities that come with being an adult. It made me thing seriously about a career and how to get one.

Chris: I also understand you have a preference towards the stippling technique.  Can you share a little about what that is?  Do you find creative power in the world of dots?

Jared: To me, it did indeed start with stippling and this helped me to convey surface and structures in a black-and-white drawing. It doesn’t really need to be points – it could be cross hatching for example, but it is a good technique to successfully create the illusion of three-dimensionality in a black and white illustration.

Chris: I understand your mom gave you your first sketchbook.  How did your parents influence your art?

Jared: My father didn’t, he ran out my mom the second he found out she was pregnant, so I never knew him. My mother is herself a creative person and her creativity influenced me and I was raised in a creative household/environment. My mother supported me in living my creative impulses as best and as fully as she was capable. She once called herself my lab assistant because she was always supplying me with everything I needed to follow my creative instincts.

Chris: Do you have a favorite story or comic that has stuck with you or influenced you over the years?

Jared: “Le Garage Hermétique” by Moebius as I mentioned before. The whole Star Wars franchise as well of course. The Adventures of Tintin by Hergé. And let’s not forget Steven Spielberg’s original Indiana Jones trilogy (let’s forget “Crystal Skull“, please), just to name a few.

Chris: I also understand that you work with some graphic designer and art friends as part of your team now.  How has collaboration played a role in your success?

Jared: It very much the key point in my career. Since they are not only graphic designers but also illustrators, the creative exchange with my friends/colleges/coworkers brought me to the point where I am now.

Chris: What are your passions outside of illustration?

Jared: Walking and trekking and working in the garden and swimming in our beloved river are, though I only swim in it during the summer. Generally being outside and in nature is what I love to do.

Chris: What accomplishments are you most proud of up to this point?

Jared: Generally, that I can make a living as an illustrator – and whenever someone lets me know that my works inspire them, that makes me very proud.

Chris: Do you have any exciting upcoming projects and what is the most exciting thing in your life right now (even if it doesn’t have anything to do with art)?

Jared: The most exciting thing in my life would be my impending fatherhood – my girlfriend and I are expecting twin boys next month! And my other, (hopefully) soon to arrive offspring, my upcoming comic book series “The Fall“ should be mentioned as well.


Jared, I’m so appreciative of our time together. Thank you for your honesty. Your love of this profession gives us permission to use our imaginative energy without fear of losing our sense of responsibility. You are living proof that art is both a fountain of youth and a pool of wisdom that prepares us for life, freedom and family.

For more of Jared’s awesomesauce, check him out on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jaredmuralt.

Here’s a link to his design collective: https://shop.blackyard.ch and be on the look out for his new post-apocalyptic comic series, “The Fall,” to be released soon.





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CXC Conversations with Creators: Featuring Michael Lent

michael lent

We are over the moon today, having scored an interview with professional Comicbook creator Michael Lent.

Most of you will know him as the writer behind the Marvel series “Prey”, and more recently, “i, HOLMES”, but his experience stretches across many entertainment genres from non-fiction literature to film and TV.

Michael shares with us a wellspring of information, advice and even imparts a few star studded stories to brighten your day. Whether you’re a Comicbook creator looking for insight or a big ol’ Lent fan, curious about this hugely talented guy, we’ve got the goods – so get comfy.



And with that, ComixCentral proudly presents… “An Evening with Michael Lent!” (Well, an interview. You’ll need to supply your own wine and easy listening tunes).


Hi Michael! Thank you so much for taking the time to share some of your amazing experiences in making Comics and other media with us! Could you tell our readers a little about your comics.

ML: Anyone who admits to knowing me might refer to me as that @!*% writer of the Prey series (Marvel), co-writer of Brimstone (Zenescope), writer of The Machine Stops (Alterna) and most recently the i, HOLMES, also for Alterna. I co-wrote four graphic bios of Keith Richards, JRR Tolkien, Stephen King, Stephen Hawking (this was during my “bios of guys named Stephen who don’t like to be called ‘Steve’” period). Incidentally, the Stephen King bio was cool because I actually got to interview him and was able to confirm some things that had only been rumors before then. The project also led to me adapting one of King’s short stories, The Reaper’s Image.

Presently, we’re wrapping i, HOLMES a gritty urban detective drama set in 2009. The story is about a brilliant loner, a streetwise 17-year old girl fresh out of juvie who knows very little about her past except that someone wants to kill her and is willing to take out most of New York. Who she is, in fact, is pretty special, as is the identity of her would-be killer. Art is by Marc Rene, who I most recently worked with on The Machine Stops series. Publisher is Peter Simeti at Alterna, which also published The Machine Stops.

Recently, television producer David Rambo picked up i, HOLMES to develop as a television series and has been instrumental in helping to shape the story. David has worked on EMPIRE, REVOLUTION and CSI, as well as the upcoming series on TNT, WILL. He’s one of the most creative people I know, so we are pretty excited and hopeful.

Outside of comics, I write and produce independent movies in Los Angeles. I was executive producer on IF YOU’RE SERIOUS, shot in China in 2012. The film won several awards and was nominated for a sound design award by the National Academy of Sound Editors in 2014 and I was able to meet presenter George Lucas.

In 2009/2010, I followed the Arctic ice road truckers made famous on the History Channel in order to write the non-fiction book On Thin Ice for Disney Hyperion. The main staging area was out of Yellowknife, Canada and I experienced temperatures as cold as 45 below zero (F). It was awesome.

Wow. Just wow! So what kind of comics would you say you like to create?

ML: Well, first and foremost, what I do is write sort of architectural blueprints, and any ”creating” doesn’t happen until I team up with an artist who knows how to turn my brain scribble blueprints into a house. Without an artist like Marc Rene who I’ve worked with on three, soon to be four series, I would be reduced to stick figures.

As far as subjects, I’ve only done one super-hero book on assignment that has yet to be released. Mainly, I do sci-fi, horror, action-suspense crime dramas, and non-fiction bios. I can do comedy, too.

When did you get your start?

ML: I’m a trained screenwriter and had come to Hollywood to work on the Hellraiser series for Dimension, the film production company that made Scream, the Halloween movies, From Dusk ‘til Dawn and many more, including The Road, which is one of my favorite books and films.

Coming from the world of movies gives me a certain recognizable style and pacing. I’d like to think that my stories are well-structured. These days, I create some stories that are best served as comics or vice versa.

What made you decide to start making comics and get into that side of the entertainment industry?

ML: In 2006, I wrote a screenplay called Prey, a sort of Jaws/Aliens story that was set off the coast of Southern California. My agent at the time thought it was some of my best writing to-date but as a live-action film, the budget was something like $120 million and there are a finite number of companies able to make a film of that scale. However, films that come from comics can have a stylized look that’s a lot cheaper to shoot. Films like Sin City and 300 had come out and my agent encouraged me to think about my story in that context. As a kid, I had been into the X-Men and Marvel universe so I went back to those roots.

The result attracted interest from Dabel Brothers Publishing in Atlanta. They wanted to publish Prey as a six or seven book arc. At the time, the Dabels were working with George R.R. Martin, Orson Scott Card and Laurel K. Hamilton among many others, so it was a pretty exciting time to be there. My first signing at Comic-Con San Diego was with George R.R. Martin just as Game of Thrones was about to happen. We actually had downtime between signings and chance to talk about craft and business. It’s nice to meet some like Mr. Martin as a fan, but even better as a fellow creator.

By the time we finished creating Prey, Dabel Brothers had become a [short-lived] imprint of the Marvel Universe. My mentor in comic script writing was Mike Raicht who was an editor at Marvel, and is a very good writer in his own right. Mike worked on a lot of series including X-Men, Spider-man and the Hulk, and he taught me a variation of the full script method. Lance Laspina was my first art director. Through him, I came to understand how an artist sees a project, as well as how writers and artists should communicate.

Everyone has moments that they’d like to throw in the towel, how do you get and then keep momentum on your projects during those times?

ML: I know, it’s tough. The whole time we have been making i, HOLMES, artist Marc Rene and I have lived this question in the most gut-personal way possible. Just as I started to write out the initial story, my sister Shelly passed away unexpectedly. It was a difficult period. I thought I was handling it okay but the morning of the funeral my hair was coming out in my hands from all the stress. Luckily, I had my family and friends who supported me.

I soon realized that the only thing I could do to honor my sister’s memory was to finish what I’d started.

Then, early on in production, artist Marc Rene’s father was hospitalized with an invasive cancer. Every other week since August, 2016, he made a 450-mile drive each way from San Jose to Burbank to see his father. In early December, he lost his battle for life. In the aftermath, we continued to lay everything on the line to create this book and keep our dream alive.

In a more general sense, self-doubt is the biggest dragon we have to slay. It helps to realize, that the self-doubt goes hand-in-hand with creative expression. I’ve been on projects that appeared on the cusp of changing my stars but then they didn’t happen for some reason usually beyond my control. It can fill you with doubt and anger. To counter this, I focus on how much I enjoy creating and the community I’ve built. Usually, that causes me to reach out to friends, again for support, and then get back to work writing. Those are things that I enjoy and have some control over.

Also, I try to look at bad news dispassionately. Often, that leads me to ask “Why?” I’ll reach out to, say, a publisher and ask, “Can you tell me a little more about why you passed on the project?” Sometimes they tell you things that you can do something about. In one case, a publisher didn’t like the lettering style, which is an easy fix. I wouldn’t have found out if I didn’t probe for info. But lots of times you’ll find out it had something to do with elements outside of your control. You can’t beat yourself up about those kinds of things.

It helps a lot to have more than one project going at once.

When I’m stumped on one, I just roll over to the next. I also don’t pressure on any single project to be the ONE.

You’ve given some incredible advice here, is there any advice you wish someone had given you when you were first starting out?

ML: If you write, it has to be every day and not when the mood or lightning bolt of inspiration strikes. Same applies if you’re an artist. In school, my writing teacher used to say,

“Good days can come after good OR bad days but they can’t follow no days [days when you don’t write].”

One of the most important lessons Mike Raicht from Marvel imparted was a deferential respect for the medium and the stories. The business side of comics can be and often is brutal but Mike never, ever allowed these challenges to bleed into the creative side. He always made schedules and stuck to deadlines even when it was something just for himself. Especially in the case when you’re making something that doesn’t have a publisher waiting for it or a ready audience. If you don’t start with respect for the process when it’s just you by yourself, no one else will later on. I see creative types who are always chasing the next project as the be-all, end-all. When you do that, you’re less willing to make a project that’s right in front of you all that it can be.

A dozen years later, I still believe cynicism is a currency of dubious worth. I just don’t see much value in thinking success is all about “validation from strangers” or “who you know” and that kind of stuff.

If you’re meant to create, then that’s what you’re going to do.

I’d rather just get to it.

As someone who has worked with big publishers, studios and independently, I believe in DIY because I’ve learned the hard way that if you wait for someone else to pick up your project, you may be sitting around for a long time. Sometimes I’ll run into would-be creators at a con and they show me some great concept work or an ashcan, then a year later, I run into them again and see the same samples. That inertia comes from a lack confidence in either themselves, or the overall concept. You have to believe that what you’re doing matters.

Don’t let your story only exist inside your head.

Really crucial to partner with people with a strong work ethic who you respect and vice versa, too.

Again, what incredible advice! What would you say is one thing that you absolutely could not live without during the creative process?

ML: It would be hard for me to exist as a writer without my MacBook Pro and access to Google. I like to research and photo-reference things as I go so it would be tough to work off of a cave wall.

Here’s a weird question. If you could body snatch someone and take over their life for one day, who would that person be? And why?

ML: Real life person Barack Obama, especially if it was circa 2016.

Fictional person? Hmm. Gandalf… Harry Potter… Sherlock Holmes. Any of these people would be COOL and the bonus would be that I would get some residual value when I returned to my own form. I think it would be depressing to be Superman for one day, see through walls and fly around, etc. and then go back to being a mere mortal who rides the bus and looks bad in tights.

Your writing is so creative. Where do you get your inspiration and ideas from?

ML: I read a lot. 30-40 books/year. Comics, too. A lot of my ideas come from asking “What if…?” Also, I try to live with my writing so that when I’m walking around, everything I see, hear or do seems to pertain to the story I’m writing. Like I’ll see a billboard or my wife or kids will say something and I’ll think, “Wow! That’s exactly what I was trying to figure out!”

For the noisier fans out there, (uh-hum… you know who you are;) What does your workspace look like?

ML: I used to have a great office in our house with a couch and everything, but then our first child, my son was born, and I moved everything into a little bedroom that was barely big enough for my desk and an extra folding chair. The couch, the collectables and all the memorabilia went into the garage. Then our daughter came along and that little room went back to being a bedroom. I started working out of coffee houses around the Valley in Los Angeles. But then our second son arrived and there went the budget for bagels and Sumatra roast. So now most days I’m in a cubicle at one of two public libraries in Burbank, wondering what the hell happened. Seriously, it’s a great resource where I can go Old School and grab real books for reference. And the librarians are nice.

The breadth of your experience is so inspiring. Are there any funny or interesting stories you wouldn’t mind sharing with our readers might enjoy and maybe even learn a little from?

ML:  I don’t know if it’s funny or interesting but one story that jumps out is the time I was asked to be on a panel about writing in Hollywood. I arrived about 10 minutes early and the organizer took me aside and said, “Good, good, good, you made it. So, here’s the thing: we had a change of plans.” “Oh?” says me. “Yes, instead of a panel it’s going to be you and a surprise guest, so just go with it. It’ll be fun!” I immediately felt a tiny, tiny bit of sweat beading up on the back of my neck as I looked over at the stage that was empty except for a mic and two chairs. About thirty seconds later, the door opened and in walks the special guest, actor Michael Madsen, star of The Hateful Eight, Kill Bill, Reservoir Dogs and dozens of other movies. Now, normally, this would be real cool and a thrill but all I can do is look over at the two chairs, then over to Michael Madsen, then at the sweat pooling in my palms, as I realize that I am supposed to conduct a sit-down discussion with Mr. Madsen for which I had done ZERO prep.

Actually, Michael Madsen is a pretty cool guy and he usually pauses to size up and search for just the right words before he answers a question, which kind of gave me time to think of what to talk about next.

Truthfully, he didn’t really need my help, so it all worked out fine. Some audience members even thought me and “Mike” were friends who went way back. Might have worked out better that I didn’t know anything beforehand because I could have over-prepared and would have been more nervous. Afterwards, Michael Madsen and I bro-hugged like we had survived a plane crash.

You’ve already accomplished so much, but as a creator we know you can’t stop now! What would you say is your ultimate goal in making comics?

ML: I’d like to create and work on as many stories as possible. Right now, I have a number of projects stacked up waiting for artists. I’d like to get them moving forward.

It would be nice if some of those projects could stand the test of time, but at the end of the day, it’s a privilege to write anything that finds an audience. A few years ago, I had a signing in Santa Monica late one Saturday morning. It was raining which is a little rare for Los Angeles, so I wasn’t expecting much of a turnout. Still, I brought enough bottled water and candy for a few dozen people just in case. As soon as I set up the little table they gave me, crickets ensued. Some people actually avoided the area so that they wouldn’t have to say “hi.” Then, all of the sudden, this tour van pulled up and all these college-age Japanese cosplay girls got out. Most didn’t speak English, but they had flyers written in Kanji advertising my signing. Turns out I was part of their tour and someone was recording everything for a local broadcast. We took lots of pictures, I signed a couple dozen books and gave away the water and candy. It was surreal and wonderful.

Having had experience in the professional comics industry, do you think there is anything the big publishers can learn from the Indie scene or vise versa?

ML: Big publishers can become risk-adverse. You see the same story arcs over and over barely dressed up. Some of the freshest stories come from the edges and take the biggest chances. Indie books should take chances. Otherwise, they will never stand out from all the white noise. Not long ago, I was searching ComixCentral for something different and discovered the Lance Lucero series Bob: Non-Union Psychic. Such a fun story! Meanwhile, indies can emulate the fit & polish of mainstream pubs.

Editing and logic matters, as does making deadlines. A book riddled with typos undercuts the storytelling. One time I was reading a cool indie book where, on the climactic page, the main character takes a big wind-up swing with a sword but in the next panel, the follow-through was with an ax. I stopped reading and went back through the book looking for clues as to whether there was some sort of sorcery present and if so, to what end. I emailed the creator who responded with an “Argh.” There had been production issues and no one noticed the gaff that couldn’t be corrected now that book was in print.

Super important to fully vet your project before it goes out into the market.

Are you currently involved in any projects our readers might be interested in hearing about? Anything your fans can get excited about?

ML: People might be interested in Malevolent (https://malevolentmovie.com/), an animated horror film currently in post-production slated for completion by the end of this year. Basically, the story is Saw meets Groundhog Day. Cast includes Morena Baccarin, William Shatner, Ray Wise, Bill Moseley. Producers Jim Cirile and Tanya Klein who both love comics asked me to join their team about a year and a half ago. So many talented people are working on the project, I’m excited for the result.

This has been just amazing Michael, we at ComixCentral are so honored and thrilled you’ve taken an interest in what we’re doing here and can’t thank you enough for taking the time to answer our questions. You’ve been so candid with us and given indie creators a peek into your world and an enlightening taste for “how this is done!”.

Before we go, how can people find you and what you’re up to?

ML: Besides Facebook and Twitter, I’m on Quora.com (https://www.quora.com/profile/Michael-Lent), a global community of over 100 million people and a great place to share stories and ideas.

I hope people will check out i, HOLMES, as well as our previous series The Machine Stops, also from Alterna and in collaboration with artist Marc Rene. This series is adapted from early-20th century British novelist E.M. Forster who wrote only one sci-fi story in his entire career. Forster wrote The Machine Stops in 1909 but he was something of a Nostradamus. His 12,000-word story foretells our modern way of information gathering and social interaction through cyberspace, while expressing concern for our dependence on technology at the expense of personal experience and all that makes us human. Instantly, many of the best predictions about the future rely not on an understanding of technology and future industrial trends so much as an understanding of human nature, language and culture. That was Forster. It was a great journey for Marc Rene and the rest of our team to bring this amazing story to a whole new generation of readers.

Thanks, Leigh and everyone at ComixCentral for this wonderful chance to chat. It was big fun.

No thank you Michael! This has been such a pleasure! We look forward to all your future endeavours and can’t wait to see what you create next!

If you’d like to connect with Michael, buy some of his work or even just friend him, you can find those links below.

Now go make some Comics!


Twitter:  @michaellent2

Facebook:  MichaelLent

Quora.com (https://www.quora.com/profile/Michael-Lent)

ComixCentral: @michael_lent





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LEGROS, A MAN OF MYSTERY

legros bob

BOB’s creator Lance was so excited about the upcoming launch, he couldn’t wait until the book was out to start cosplaying as one of its characters.  Come on, what else would you do if you created your own comic book character?!

Sure, it may have creeped out his neighbors, but his enthusiasm has given us some great visual aids with which to introduce you to Legros de Rumigny (pronounced Luh-gro, ‘cuz French).  He’s a major player in BOB: NON-UNION PSYCHIC #1 – though we suppose you might’ve guessed that, since his name is in the title of the of the book.

So who is Monsieur de Rumigny?  A legit historical figure, actually – a former chef who turned into the hairdresser extraordinaire of the 18th-century French court, when fashion was at its peak!  Ol’ Legros primped and preened the coiffures of the likes of Madame de Pompadour, and he’s the author of the famed L’ART DE LA COËFFURES DES DAMES FRANÇOISES, one of the earliest guides dedicated solely to his craft.

He opened and operated the prestigious ACADÉMIE POUR LA COËFFURES DES DAMES, where he taught illustrious hair constructs and helped establish hairdressing as a profession.

Go ahead and scroll through THE WORLD page on the BOB site  http://www.warehouse9pro.com/bobworld.html or Google him!

But remember, what you research won’t be the whole story!  You will have to dive into the pages of BOB: NON-UNION PSYCHIC #1 “The Legend of Legros” in order to find out all of the amazing secrets of the man behind the hair!





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DOKTOR GERALDO

doktor geraldo

For this day of ComixCentral Conversations, we take a bit of an unexpected turn! Today we bring you a newbie to the game.

You see, we’re not just interested in how the experts get things done, but also the journey that all creators must undertake to get to “Level expert”. Indie comics are not about perfect stories and artwork, polished and edited till they loose all their soul. Indie is about sharing your voice however you choose to share it. You’re unique spin on the world, straight from the horse’s mouth… no corporate interference. And we, the indie community, celebrate all creators of our beloved medium, at all levels in the game.

And so we present an underground sensation in the making. A creator you are sure to hear from as he grows his craft and develops into a full fledged tour de force in the indie comic realm. Keep your eye on Doktor Geraldo, we predict great things.


Hello Doktor Geraldo and thank you for talking with us today! Could you first tell us a bit about yourself, and the comic you’re currently creating.

DG: I’m a 46-year-old road worker from the north east of England. I live in Whitley Bay, a fading Edwardian seaside resort. I work night shift, and I’ve got three sons, so my spare time is limited. When I do get time to myself, I enjoy making comics. I find it relaxing. I recently released my debut comic, the first part of a four-part series called Spec Ops Hobo. This first instalment, entitled The Best, introduces the protagonist, Johnny Higgins.

What made you decide to start making comics?

DG:I used to draw single page comics in the late 80s, and give photocopies to my friends. These were pretty much in the style of Viz, the legendary local comic we all grew up reading. I gradually just stopped drawing in the early 90s, and then I recently had my interest piqued by my eldest son, who collects comics. He showed me some indie stuff he’d recently purchased at a con, and I immediately thought “I’ll have a bit of that!”

I came up with a great idea for a science fiction comic called Flangu, about a boy who makes a cardboard robot which helps his family, but which ultimately threatens mankind. Flangu describes the advent of nanocardboard, a revolutionary new packaging material intended to cut down on packaging and shipping times. The robot is inadvertently made using a sheet of nanocardboard, and quickly hooks up to the Wi-Fi and becomes sentient.

 

I spent a long time planning this idea, to the extent that I had creative block before I’d even created anything. I decide to shelve Flangu, and switched to what had originally been intended as an incidental detail, a fictional movie within the framework of the comic. Spec Ops Hobo. I quickly realised I could make this into a series, so I just went with it.

Where do you get your inspiration and ideas from?

DG: Higgins is inspired by a real person who lives in my town. Spec Ops Hobo is, at its core, a study of those marginalised by society due to poverty, homelessness, mental illness, and other similar factors, and it is a celebration of and tribute to those unfortunates who are exploited and condemned by the relentless, unforgiving machinery of global capitalism.

This is all very noble and valid, of course, but it would make for a boring comic. I deliberately avoided making this a dreary pamphlet, and instead opted to cloak these weighty themes in a velvet blanket of tits and killing, adventure, and a few laughs along the way.

Spec Ops Hobo – The Best is set mainly in an unspecified Central American hell hole, in 1985, and pays homage to the machismo and excess of 80s action movies, with a nod to classic boys’ comics like Victor and Warlord.

In general I am inspired by films, music, art, literature, and even things like podcasts.

What’s the one thing that you absolutely could not live without during the creative process?

DG:I’m overlooking the staples here, like pencil and paper, and teabags, and I’m going to go for my phone! I use the camera on my phone to photograph figures, or groups of figures. The resolution on today’s camera phones is superior to most home scanners and printers, and I like the effects that you can achieve.

I also use free apps on my phone to do rough page layouts and scaling, and to superimpose figures and scenery onto watercolour backgrounds. There are apps to create alpha layers and cut out plain backgrounds and so on. It’s good to play around with an old-school drawing and a smart phone.

What resources do you rely on to make your comics?

DG: We live in a golden age of creativity. The digital world allows anyone to create, music, film, animation, and comics using a wide variety of free technology that I couldn’t have dreamed of as a teenager.

You just need a little bit of talent, and some ideas.

I would highlight free apps and software that are widely available. As a new creator, I don’t really want to lay out thousands of pounds on state of the art software and equipment. I’m a firm believer in the adage: “All the gear and no idea!” I think it’s important to learn your craft using basic resources, and then invest in some swanky kit further down the line, when you’ve earned it.

I did treat myself to a small selection of copic markers, which I’d never used before. They are my go to medium for comics, and they’re well worth the price.

I’ve also printed off a prototype A5 fanzine of Spec Ops Hobo – The Best, and I’m thinking of doing a limited run for those who absolutely insist on holding paper in their hands.

 

Who are your biggest inspirations in the comic realm?

DG: The first person to approach me directly on Twitter and express a liking for my work is a comic artist from Alabama, Stefani @magicianshouse. Stefani is the artist on Project Shadow Breed, and she also drew the forthcoming Corsair, written by Nick Gonzo, both of which are outstanding.

Stefani saw my posts on @ComicBookHour, and offered to draw a pinup for Spec Ops Hobo, and as I was still working on part one, I asked her to do the cover. She came back with a fantastic illustration. I was encouraged to receive feedback from someone involved in the indie comics world, and Stefani has just written an experimental short that I am illustrating. This is quite a controversial piece, and it will release in August to coincide with a certain centenary celebration…..

Coincidentally, Nick Gonzo (@nick_gonzo) was the creator of the indie comics my son showed me: Pictures of Spiderman, and 50 Signal 1 and 2. He is part of Madius Comics, the team behind Papercuts and Inkstains, Griff Gristle, Laudanum, and many more. Gonzo has kindly agreed to illustrate the cover for the third part of Spec Ops Hobo.

Another great creator is Olly Cunningham at Black Lines Comics (@black_lines_). His work is very, very funny, and he’s got a unique style.

Lastly, I’m blown away by the astonishing output of an Australian creator called Ryan James Melrose (@RyanJamesMelros). This guy must be the hardest working man in comics.

Where do you hope to be in 5 years creatively?

DG:This year I want to complete the remaining three parts of Spec Ops Hobo and release them on Comix Central. I would also like to release the entire series as a trade paperback, but I think I will print a run of each issue myself for now.

I would like to build up Digital Pastiche, my fledgling production company, perhaps even bringing new creators into the fold. I’m also collaborating with Stefani @magicianshouse on a short, and we’ll hopefully be working together in the future.

Next year I want to focus on Flangu, and I should have more of an idea having cut my teeth on Spec Ops Hobo.

I will continue to network and promote my comics in my inimitable fashion. I adhere to the philosophy of “shy bairns get nowt”, and I’m not afraid of appearing overly forward. This has come back to bite me on the arse a couple of times already, but it’s all part of the learning curve.

In five years, I would like to be releasing comics that I enjoy making. Hopefully, people will enjoy reading them.


And that’s it for this one. So freakin’ inspirational in my book! If this interview doesn’t make you go, damn.. I can do this… I can let my inner comic creator out! Then I don’t know what will!

We want to thank Doktor Geraldo for taking the time to share his journey and inspiring story with us. Thank you for showing everyone that a little bit of passion and a lot of hard work will get your where you want to go. We can’t wait to see what you’re going to do next!

If you’d like to learn more about Doktor Geraldo, buy his books or just connect, we’ve got the links for all that good stuff below.

Now, go make some Comics!


Connect with Doktor Geraldo

comixcentral.com/vendors/doktor-geraldo-store

twitter.com/doktorgeraldo

facebook.com/doktorgeraldo

payhip.com/doktorgeraldo

instagram.com/doktorgeraldo

imgur.com/a/ErIrT

Get Spec ops Hobo


 


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JOHN HOLLAND

john holland

Today we are thrilled to be joined by an inspiring comic creator who’s been making comics for “Longer than he’d like to admit”. But you know what? With great experience comes wise counsel, and awesome stories!

John is the creative mind behind titles like Ayla – Speaker for the Dead, Joe Bushkin, Boxie and many, many others. With a vast library of past work, John has a great deal to be proud of, and it sounds like his creative engine is just getting started. Ambitious? Yes. Driven? You know it! A true creator, John continues to allow the Muses do their work on him and giving his fans what they want. More comics!

So pull up a chair. If you’re under 25, get ready to Google some names and be impressed! John’s been around the Comicbook block and he’s imparting some excellent advice for all you up-and-comers, as well as some fun tales for the comicbook curious.

 


Let’s get to it!


Thanks for joining us John! To start, would you tell our readers a little bit about the comics you make?

JOHN: Right now I’m working on several different comics. I post them online, I try to do one page a week, and then collect and print.


Ayla Speaker for the Dead:
“In Death she seeks the justice they were denied in life.” Set in a future New Orleans life hasn’t changed that much for those on the bottom. No one cares when you’re alive, so when you’re killed they care even less. One less murder to investigate. Except for Ayla. Her voice is the voice of the unwanted dead. She brings justice for them.

Boxie: 14 year old Amanda sees an alien robot fall to earth. What she doesn’t know is she’s been picked to be the next partner for the alien warrior and soon they are protecting earth as Boxie


Life During Wartime: What would our world look like under a Trump presidency that actually lives up to his rhetoric? What happens Roe v Wade is repealed? What happens if he demolishes the 1st amendment? What happens when he destroys the last decade of advancement in gay rights? That’s what this comic looks at.

I was working on The Almighty Project, which I always describe as my Young Adult comic novel, but after problems with a second artist on it, I’m going to put it on the back burner for a bit.

Is there a style or genre you focus on? What kind of comics do you create.

JOHN: Any kind. Science fiction, crime, super hero, young adult, slice of life…there’s no subject matter that can’t make a good comic. I don’t want to limit myself to one genre or style. Whatever the story demands is where I go.

When did you first start making comics?

JOHN: Longer ago than I want to admit, lol. I started getting published by the indie comic scene back in the 90’s. At the time there was an explosion of black and white comics being published and a lot of publishers were springing up trying to cash in on the boom. Still I managed to get published in some of the better publishers, like Fantagraphics, Kitchen Sink and a few others. I took a long break sometime between then and now, getting back into comic writing in the last few years. Instead of trying to break into other publishers right now I’m focusing on publishing my work myself.

How did you get into creating comics?

JOHN: I always wanted to write and I always loved comic books. When I first started writing I tried my hand at the science fiction magazines. I was a big science fiction fan at the time. But even then my goal was always to end up writing comic books.

You are clearly very self motivated considering all the titles you’re publishing at the moment. What advice would you give to those who are struggling to keep momentum and want to give up?

JOHN: Just keep working. It helps if you’re working on more than one thing. If you have all your eggs so to speak in one basket and it doesn’t pan out, it can be hard to keep going. But if you’re working on a project that you start feeling like is not going anywhere and you have another project to jump into, it helps keep things going.  I’m constantly working on so many different projects, that when I start to feel things slowing down for me on one I just move to another for awhile.

But in the end you just have to want it bad enough to keep going.

Even if you don’t sell anything you have to want to write enough that you’ll do it even if no one else sees it.

Where do you get your ideas/inspiration from?

JOHN: Everywhere. Anything and everything can inspire me. Ayla was inspired by the hurricane Katrina and the tv show Homicide and my ex girlfriend. Mix all that together and I came up with Ayla. Move beyond comics to inspire you. If your inspiration is coming strictly from comic books something is wrong.

You should look at everything for inspiration. Movies, books, tv and even more importantly life.

Is there one thing that you absolutely could not live without during your creative process?

JOHN: I guess I would say my pen and paper. I’ve tried to write on the computer, but I find the creative juices flow better when I write the first draft on a notepad with a pen. Then I can take that and put in the computer and revise as I go. But the original writing is done simply with ink and paper.

What was the first comic you published.. Any memorable experiences during the process?

JOHN: A four page backup in Bill Loeb’s JOURNEY comic that was published by Dave Sim, who did CEREBUS. The artist was Sam Kieth (yes, that Sam Kieth that created the MAXX). Bill’s wife Nadine was editing JOURNEY and the backups and the story I originally proposed was going through the editing process.

I guess it was a couple weeks, I’d call and we’d discuss it and then I’d go back and write it. Well, during this I sent Sam this other four page story and he drew it and sent to Bill and Nadine and it ended up in the back of JOURNEY with no editing process, lol.

You’ve had a very interesting career and worked with some pretty iconic people. Are their any stories that come to mind you’d like to share?

JOHN: Perhaps a comic con, publisher, social media, family etc. story Speaking of Sam Kieth, back when Image was forming and he was one of the first artists not part of the founders asked to contribute he was coming up with the idea for the MAXX. Originally he asked Bill Loebs to write it with him, but for whatever reason Bill declined. So Sam came to me, we had been working on a lot of stuff together before he broke in to Marvel, so we got along pretty well.

A few months went along and Sam and I would talk about what he wanted with the MAXX but we never really got very far along. Then Bill decided that he would work on it with Sam. Sam was very nice about it and I couldn’t blame him. Bill was a great writer and we really hadn’t gelled on the comic.

But from this I was able to get Sam to do a cover for my first self published comic DIEBOLD.

What would you say is your ultimate goal working in comics?

JOHN: My ultimate goal would be able to make a living from this, but it’s not a goal that I am counting on. In the meantime I’m happy to be able to write and publish my comics and get out there and meet people and sell comics.

What do you think the big publishers could learn from the Indie scene?

JOHN: I’d like to see them rely less on continuity and more on just telling a good story, but they’re really not set up for that. Their fan base wants each issue to build off the past issues and the characters to be the same all the time.

Just tell a good story.

Are there any interesting projects or books you’ve created you’d like our readers to see? And are their any comics you’re currently working on that your fans can expect?

JOHN: Besides the comics I have a collection of tips on comic book writing called FOR WHAT’S WORTH and will be coming out with a companion book called THE MAKING OF A COMIC BOOK, which details the creation of Ayla Speaker for the Dead from the idea to getting it online and printing. I also have a kid’s book called THE VOODOO BEAR coming out this month also. And by the time this interview is out I’ll probably be coming up with some new idea that I want to do.


Well it’s been a trip. But that’s it for this edition of COMIXCENTRAL CONVERSATIONS!!.. sationssations..*words slowly drifting off.

We want to thank John for taking the time to give us some insight into his extensive career. I hope you learned something, I know I did! Just keep creating what you love, no matter how long the game may be or seem, if you’re making things you love… it’s all worth it. Thanks for that John! Truly inspirational.

If you’d like to learn more about John, buy some of his comics or just connect with him, all the links to do so are below.

Now go make some comics!


Connect with John

http://johnfholland.net/

http://aylathecomicbook.com/

http://lifeduringwartime.us/

http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/BOXIE/

Comixcentral : @john_holland

For all John’s titles:  Shop by Holland 





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CHAD COLPITTS

chad colpitts

Daaamn ComixCentral! Back at it again with a killer Comic Creator interview!

Today we are chatting with the hilarious and delightfully quirky minded Chad Colpitts. Chad is a huge advocate for people looking at butt cheeks as much as possible and we’re inclined to help him out!

You simply can’t miss his iconic, laugh inducing work in “The Streaker” and he’s making us laugh uncomfortably again in “B-Movie Garbage”.


Guys we are honored and tickled that Chad took the time to fill us in on where he’s been, how he got there and how he’ll continue to “go there”.  Enjoy! (FYI- Chad may have been naked while answering these questions.. But we’ll never tell;)


Hi Chad! Thanks for taking the time to answer some of our questions. First off, please tell us a bit about the comics you’re working on right now.

Chad: At the moment I have two comic series on the go. The first series which is now on issue 3, called The Streaker. The Streaker is your average superhero story, except this hero is constantly naked. I know what you’re thinking, but I promise he’s not some weird pervert. He’s just another poor victim of radiation exposure.

After being exposed to radiation, our hero gets radioactive skin that burns everything he touches . . . including his clothing. Since he is forced to be naked he hides out in a nudist centre, and reluctantly fights crime under the guidance of the centre’s janitor. Together they run afoul of some truly bizarre villains, including extremist nudists, and robotic geniuses with phallic shaped acid cannons. This series features the eye poppingly pleasant art of Matt Garbutt (Oh Sh**t Zombies), which is sure to impress (I’m confident on this because it’s great, and my mom really likes it).

The second series is surprisingly and delightfully more inappropriate than The Streaker. It’s an anthology series we like to call B-Movie Garbage, which showcases our own homages to B-Grade cinema. You’ll see campy, disgusting, and slightly disturbing tales that you can never unsee.

The first issue is part 1 in a 3 part tale titled EMOS, where a demonic plague spreads through a highschool turning everyone into the titular fad. In issue 1, witness the possibly accurate origin of the EMO fad, along with some unconventional uses for the human skull. With the inspiredly grotesque art style of Cam Hayden (Futility, Red Flag) to disgust and entertain, we are hoping this will be a must read for B-Movie fans.

What kind of comics do you make? 

Chad: At Tongue in Cheek Comics we create a certain kind of comic . . . the kind you didn’t even know you wanted. Our goal is to bring bizarre unique comics which span a variety of genres, and will hopefully entertain even the angriest of nudist extremists.

When did you get your start?

Chad: I self published and released the first issue of The Streaker in August 2015. I guess that could be considered my start, and hopefully there is no end in sight.

What made you decide to start creating comics?

Chad: I’ve always been a daydreamer with my head in the clouds, full of weird bizarre ideas. I was never really sure what to do with them, until I started reading comics again.

realized comics would be a great format for my ideas, and would give me a chance to bring these stories to life in an exciting, artist, and slightly affordable way.

What motivates you? How do you keep creating through the times when you might feel like giving up?

Chad: Whenever things get tough I rely on the support of my family (like my very supportive mom and sister), friends, and girlfriend Megan Hodgson (brownie point name drop). Plus, I’m always lucky to be working with talented artists who keep things timely and professional. In the end I know I can’t really give up, because the Streaker is way to powerful to piss off. I guess motivation comes easy when your life depends on it.

Your books are wildly creative, where do those ideas come from?

Chad: I’d say my inspiration comes from years of cartoon watching, comic reading, and a devotion to all things movie/ pop culture related. I like to use my comics to satirize or pay homage to the things I love. So basically you could say all the time I’ve spent sitting on the couch in front of the TV was just training for my comic career.

What is the one thing you couldn’t live without?

Chad: My laptop. That is where I awkwardly type (or hen peck) out my comic scripts.

What was the first comic you published.. Any memorable experiences during the process?

Chad: The First comic I published was The Streaker. One of the more memorable/ awkward moments of the process actually came about with the act of payment. When I first started off the artist Matt Garbutt didn’t have paypal, so to pay him I have to go into the bank and wire him money. When I would do this the bank employee I was dealing with would ask me what the money was for and I would respond “for a comic”. Of course they would say “that’s a lot of money for a comic”, then I’d explain it’s actually the art for my own comic. All this would lead to the obvious question, and the awkward answer. “What’s your comic about? Well . . . (I have no choice but to tell them) a naked superhero. Then the look, and the polite response of fake interest. I would blush and show them a picture, all while secretly enjoying every minute of the exchange. I got to experience this a few times, and it’s entertainment level never really diminished.

Is there an interesting story you could share with us about your creation experience?

Chad: People always ask where I found an artist for The Streaker, which is a great question since I live in Canada and he lives in the U.K. The answer is freelance.com. I set up a page saying I had a comic idea and was looking for an artist. I actually had two hits before Matt, both didn’t really fit. The first one was a very nice lady, but after hearing the idea she had to admit it was definitely out of her comfort zone. The second guy said he would do it, but I’d have to change some things in order to make them less offensive and more appropriate. Which of course wasn’t really something I wanted to do. Then Matt heard the idea, and basically said “I love it when can I start”. So it was an obvious choice, and I’m very glad I made it, because his cartoony style works perfectly for The Streaker. Plus he’s a great guy to get along and work with.

Do you prefer to work with a team or alone.

Chad:  Since I don’t have a shred of illustrative talent, I’ll always need a team. However, I’m thrilled by this because it gives me the opportunity to work with extremely talented artists. I also find it very cool to have different ideas brought to life with different styles and visions. It gives us diversity throughout our titles, and gives me a chances to work on my flexibility as a writer and publisher.

Chad, do you have any superstitions, or rituals you can share with us?

Chad: I have a certain pair of socks that I wear to every show or con I attend. They’re lucky socks that I was given as a groomsmens gift at a best friends wedding. The wedding was a success with zero casualties, broken bones, or sullied vows, so they are definitely lucky. Plus, they’re a reminder of the constant support I have from my friends (who are the ones that will always buy my comics no matter how horrible). The only real downside of this superstition, is when I forget to wash them between shows. If I do that things can get stinky and I should apologize in advance to those sharing a table with me.

So, what can one expect when they pick up one of your comics?

Chad: Here are two pages from our comics, to give an idea of what to expect from each series. Also to showcase the fantastic artwork you’ll find inside each book. The first page is from The Streaker #2 and the second is from B-Movie Garbage #1.

How can the good folks of the world find out what you’re up to Chad?

Chad: If you want to know more about Tongue in Cheek Comics and the series we publish, you can find us on Twitter @TiCComics or at www.facebook.com/TongueinCheekComics/ . You can also contact us at tongueincheekcomics@gmail.com , if you want to know where to pick up print copies or if you want some sent to you.


Well, we’ve come to the end of our interview. This is always an emotional time for us. We love digging into how creators get their amazing comics out in the world and we know you guys love reading about it!

We want to thank Chad again, for sitting down with us and letting us into his world for this brief time. If you’d like to learn more about Chad, buy some of his comics or just stalk him a little, you’ll find all the links below.

Now go make some comics!


Connect with Chad and Tongue in Cheek Comics

 tongueincheekcomics@gmail.com

Twitter @TiCComics

facebook.com/TongueinCheekComics

Comixcentral : @tonguecheekcomics

Grab  The Streaker |   B- Movie Garbage





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8 Reasons To Read  the Bob: Non-Union Psychic series

bob non union psychic

In this saturated market, it’s easy to miss the little gems out there.

One diamond you probably haven’t noticed in a vast sea of rough is BOB: NON-UNION PSYCHIC (“Renegade Psychic. Professional Hairstylist.”), a digital-first series published by Colorado-based newcomer Warehouse 9 Productions, Ltd. in 2015.

The ad copy puts the hilarious, high-as-they-come concept as well as anyone could: “Bob Holbreck would rather use his mad hairstyling skills to make the world look a little sexier than use his awesome psychic powers to make it a lot safer.  Too bad his great Gramps won’t take no for an answer…”

Here are eight (illustrated!) reasons why BOB: NON-UNION PSYCHIC is worth your time.

1. BOB’s part of that too-rare gem of a genre, the paranormal-comedy-horror comic CHEW just ended, and there’s only one GHOSTBUSTERS.  BOB: NON-UNION PSYCHIC is serving an under-represented audience right now.  If you’re a member of it and didn’t know about BOB, well, now ya know.

2. Everyone who reads it seems to really like it.  Indie comics don’t make much of a splash – but you can tell a lot from the ripples they do make.  And the series has received unanimously high reviews, averaging no less than 4 stars out of 5.

3. BOB isn’t just an independent comic – it’s a book about independence.  Bob Holbreck’s attempt to join the Psychic Union in BOB: NON-UNION PSYCHIC # 0 is a story his creator Lance Lucero originally thought up as commentary on his fights with the gatekeepers of the entertainment world, but any person whose clear ability has been denied for paper-related reasons will dig the central theme of this book.

4. It’s an indie book, but everything about it is pro.  Yeah, we all like the idea of supporting the little guys in comics, but not to the extent that we’re ready to spend our hard-earned cash on sub-par work.  The production values of BOB are as good as any you’ll find, though, thanks to artist extraordinario Francisco Resendiz and the designer’s eye of Lance Lucero.

5. For a book about a psychic hairstylist, BOB: NON-UNION PSYCHIC is bizarrely well-researched.  Lance Lucero lives in fear of a reader informing him that this or that part of his book makes use of an incorrect fact, so the man does his homework.  For the just-released BOB: NON-UNION PSYCHIC # 1, his writing partner Adam Volle even stopped off in Paris to conduct some primary research.

6. BOB is bilingual!  In BOB: NON-UNION PSYCHIC # 1, Bob finds himself tasked with an important mission by a French ghost.  The problem is, Bob doesn’t speak French.  You don’t need to speak it either in order to follow the story, but if you do, there’s a whole extra layer of fun available.

7. BOB offers new cosplaying options. Just imagine: while all your friends are boring the world with their run-of-the-mill Deadpool costumes, you can be showing off as the 18th-century founding father of hairdressing, Legros de Rumigny!

8. BOB is timely.  Let us level with you on this: when you’re writing a book about a psychic barber, you are always on the hunt for fun and/or relevant hair-related material.  And the ‘do of a certain new president?  It’s like a gift.  It may also be a clue in a case Bob is trying to solve in BOB: NON-UNION PSYCHIC # 1…

You can buy the digital editions of BOB: NON-UNION PSYCHIC # 0 and # 1 on ComixCentral right now – and it’s highly recommended you do!


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RANDOM ENCOUNTER COMICS

random encounter comics

Oh ho ho! Do we have a treat for all you Comicbook lovin’ good people. We managed to corner the gents from Random Encounter Comics and shake them until all their secrets fell out.

These guys are making some shockingly great stories, with some of the most unique art pages we’ve seen.. well.. anywhere! This is what indie comics are all about.

So if you are into making comics and are looking to pick up some tips, dig a behind the scenes peek into creativity or just have major crushes on Adam and Colin… get ready to have all your dreams come true.  We love these guys! Let’s get going!




Hey guys! First of all, could tell our readers a little bit about your book, yourselves and your company?

REC: Folklore is a post apocalyptic horror story set in a world where earth’s mightiest heroes have been warped and twisted into hungry predators. It’s the only series handled

Adam handles the writing and social media, Colin the illustration, and together they try not to be absolutely obnoxious while trying to excitedly show off their work. It’s a two man show and our first foray into the comic industry. They’re so new, they’re not even sure when it’s ok to talk in third person during an interview!

On ComixCentral we showcase our work under Folklore Comics, but our official studio name is Random Encounter Comics!

What kind of comics do you create?

REC: Right now we’re focused 100% telling Folklore’s story from start to finish. Although Folklore’s background is rooted in action-oriented superhero culture the core of our stories lay in exploring the nature of horror — whether it be through terrifying abominations or a more psychological kind of fear.

We want you to grow attached to the people and places you meet in our world, but maybe expect to lose a little something along the way.

When did you start working on Folklore?

REC: Folklore has been a personal project of ours for quite a while now, but we’ve only just begun to share it publically for the past year. Using our spare time between work and other professional projects we came up an initial concept and very rough storyboard. It took a while for us to finalize things like character design and comic layout, but the time spent working on it all really gave us the time to see how expansive the comic world really is.

Where did the idea for Folklore come from and what made you take the plunge into creating it?

REC: The original recommendation to start a comic was inspired by a mutual friend, who recommended we pool our talents to create something memorable! Our friend was British, so he recommended a time travel plot. We decided to go in a very different direction.

In a lot of ways Folklore is a collection of personal fears as much as it is a reflection of the way society builds history and legends over time.

Everybody gets discouraged wants to quit sometimes. How do you guys keep the motivation going?

Adam: What’s great about what we do is that our work is broken down in half, so there’s a lot of motivation between the two of us to make sure we’re both keeping Folklore up to par with our expectations. Not only that, we have an incredible group of readers. I don’t think we ever expected to receive the support we did on Patreon.

Colin: I think we’re both so absolutely excited about getting Folklore out there that when we do feel burnt out or throwing in the towel, we remind each other to keep on going. That kind of encouragement is a great form of motivation, as is support from our Patrons and supporters. It’s a pretty incredible feeling when we come across reviews of our work or when readers express their enjoyment.

Is there any advice you wish someone had given you when you were first starting out?

Adam: Plan ahead, and try to set realistic goals. We’ve overestimated the workload Colin could handle illustrating in the past, and it just adds a lot of unnecessary pressure. Take your time.

Colin: Agreed, the bulk of the work really comes from planning out each issue and we’ve learned it the hard way.

A solid plan can actually speed up the rest of the illustrating work.

Folklore is obviously a very unique and creative story. Where do you get your ideas from?

Colin: Plenty of films and stories, there’s such a rich library out there to be inspired from. I have my favourites like Star Wars and The Witcher novels, Mike Mignola’s work and Akira Kurosawa, as well as drawing from my own personal experiences.

Adam: Anywhere and everywhere. I wish I could say there was a single medium that inspired me, but I jump around a lot. Any good story that focuses on character growth and world building is bound to grab and hold my attention. It just makes me want to create.

What’s the one thing (tool, process, etc) that you absolutely could not live without during the creative process?

Colin: Thumbnailing. Definitely Thumbnailing. There’s nothing harder than jumping straight into a page and just winging it. Working from thumbnails allows me to lay out any ideas we have and to direct the flow of our art and writing.

Who is your favorite writer, illustrator, actor.. Etc. And what do you think you’ve learned from this person.

Adam: It’s hard to say who my favorite writer is, but when it comes to comics I think it was Matt Fraction and David Aja’s run on Hawkeye that really showed me how incredible comics could be. I always try to keep in mind their creative paneling when trying to highlight action. Their humor goes a long way in bringing humanity to each character. Plus, Pizza dog.

Colin: They did a bloody awesome job on Hawkeye and I love the way they treated the visuals and panel work. As for me I’m a big fan of Scott Snyder’s writing for Court of Owls, and Greg Capullo’s art really brings the thrill and mystery of Batman to life. Mike Mignola is up there as well. His use of negative space to direct the flow of his story is a fantastic study.

Are there any funny or interesting tid-bits you could share from your experience working together making comics?

Adam: I guess there was the time I thought we were really cool and progressive for having an elderly woman as a badass sniper. Then Overwatch’s Ana came out.

Colin: I’m still bitter about that, but was just as excited when I saw the reveal.

Adam: It was like a mix of ‘Yes I’m so excited for this character’ and ‘I hope no one thinks we’re copying this hype’. I’ve seen this kind of thing happen to plenty of other artists and storytellers before, so we can’t really feel too bad about it. Them’s the breaks!

What is your ultimate goal in comics?

Adam: I love entertaining others. Growing up I’ve always found myself sucked into stories, whether it be from a book, comic, RPG, or just a really exciting board game.

I’d love to always be in a position where I can help relieve stress through the worlds I help bring to life.

It would be incredible to be well known for creating those kind of immersive experiences. Comics are just one way to do that, and I’ll be writing for as long as there’s someone out there who enjoys my work.

Colin: A part of it is quite practical, I find comics to be a good form of practice for my art. Ultimately though, I think it’s the collective enjoyment of sharing stories. At first the work was quite overwhelming for me, but when readers started feeding back to us how invested they’d had become in these characters’ tales and how much enjoyment they receive. I felt all that work was worth the effort.

If you had a dollar for every comic you have started but not yet finished.. How many dollars would you have?

Adam: Comics, 0. Books? At least 4. I get to live out most of my ideas in my weekly D&D sessions, but some narratives just require a little less interaction from my audience.

Colin: Maybe about three. Usually I axe a lot of ideas before I even get started, haha. I’m definitely going to try to make another two bucks in the next year!

Any parting words for the people out there gentlemen? And how can people find what you’re up to?

Adam: I don’t think we have anything more to add, but we do want everyone to know how exciting it’s been to be a part of this growing community. Not just on ComixCentral, but in terms of indie comics in general. Everyone has been the best. There’s so much creativity out there, and everyone we’ve encountered and have spoken with has been so positive and energetic about their work. It’s been an incredible experience, and we’re so glad we can contribute to the positivity.

If you like the work we do on Folklore then you may want to check out our website, which has a lot of extra background information on our cast of characters, plus a short story we wrote for our fans on Halloween. All of our work is also available for free on Tapastic and Webtoons, but it’s your support that lets us continue to work on Folklore. Every purchase on ComixCentral helps our ongoing development, but if you’re interested in supporting us for a bunch of cool perks we recommend that you check out our Patreon!

In addition to regular weekly updates we have a lot of cool behind-the-scenes details, like WIP pages, monthly raffles, and the opportunity to appear in Folklore as a minor character! (Please note: We reserve all rights to terribly maim or dismember your avatar at our discretion.)

You can find all the cool details at patreon.com/Folklore, or just bug us via tweets anytime you’d like. [links below]


And with that, our time here is over, and we’re not embarrassed to say we’re a little choked up about it. We’ll have to do this again!

We want to thank the boys from Random Encounter Comics for taking the time to answer our questions and letting us dig a big fork into how things get done in their amazing world. I learnt some new things today and LOL’d more than once!

If you’d like to learn more about Random Encounter Comics, buy their books or connect with Adam and Colin, the links to do all that are below.

Now go make some comics!


Connect with Adam, Colin and Random Encounter Comics!

FolkloreComic.com

twitter: @FolkloreComic

twitter: @34thGingerbread (writer)

twitter: @unartifex (illustrator)

comixcentral : Random Encounter Comics

Grab Folklore issue 1  |   Folklore issue 2