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Two Friends Enter, One Comic Leaves! The Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia Origin Story


Suspicious Behavior Productions is Matt Entin and Ed Kuehnel – two professional game writers who became friends and co-writers, and who created a company to have the creative freedom to put their own stories out into the world, for better or worse.


Ed:
I was a nerd growing up in Portland, Oregon the 70’s and 80’s – into comics, cartoons, video games and especially wrestling. My family was one of the first on our block to get cable, so in addition to watching the WWF on NBC and our local NWA territory, Pacific Northwest Wrestling, I’d watch hours of Georgia Championship Wrestling on Superstation WTBS from Atlanta and the AWA on ESPN. I’d buy several wrestling magazines each week and even buy back issues at used bookstores so I could explore wrestling’s history. One of the walls in my bedroom was overlaid with corkboard, and I covered every square inch with wrestling posters and magazine clippings.

I’ve struggled with my weight all of my life, so it’s amusing to reflect that my favorites – Bobby Jaggers, Dusty Rhodes, “Playboy” Buddy Rose – were all overweight guys that still managed to kick ass and act baller. Those guys were my superheroes, just as much (if not more so) than Spiderman or Batman. I don’t watch much wrestling now, but I still dig it as an art form and look back on it with fondness.

Matt:
I grew up in the 80s and 90s in the north suburbs of Chicago. As a kid, the WWF (as it was known back then) was omnipresent and Hulk Hogan was its most iconic face. We didn’t get cable until I was in junior high, so I only had access to Saturday Night’s Main Event, Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling, and locally syndicated airings of G.L.O.W. Still, my brother and I were captivated. We used to act out our favorite matches (Hulk vs. Andre! Steamboat vs Savage! Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude!) on my parents’ king-size bed, our poorly-executed scoop slams and diving elbow doing untold damage to the box spring. After cable finally came into the Entin household, I had access to a lot more wrestling – that was during the creative lull of the early 90s when the rosters were crowded with gimmicks like Doink, Papa Shango, and Disco Inferno. Wrestling almost lost me then, but the nWo debuted right when I was in high school, and that was it – I was a fan for life.

Ed:
As a kid, I made this promise to myself that one day I would work as a writer in video games or animation. The only things holding me back were depression, a nasty addiction, a total lack of self-esteem, bad grades, zero discipline and no plan whatsoever on how to make it happen. At twenty-eight or so I was walking down the street to my dead-end job and happened to walk past the offices of Bungie, which were in Chicago at that time (this was well before Halo). I was already a fan of their games, so when I looked through the office window to see all these cool creatives with game posters on their walls and toys on their desks I got jealous, then I got inspired. I began to work on myself and made a plan of sorts on how to break into the games industry. A year or so later (this was 2001) I got my foot in the door at a game studio in the suburbs of Chicago. I found myself doing some writing for the games I worked on and a few years later I was sitting next to Matt Entin – a new hire brought on to help us with the dialog for Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude. We’ve been friends and cowriters ever since.

Matt:
I went to college to be a computer animator. I thought I’d probably work for Pixar or ILM. During my senior year, my friend and I made a point-and-click adventure game called Ockers, about a foul-mouthed Australian reprobate. I wrote the story and dialog for it. The first video game studio that hired me brought me on as a writer (not as an animator) based on my work on Ockers. I remember my first meeting with Ed during the interview process. Ed didn’t want to do a formal interview, so we just talked about old LucasArts games for thirty minutes. Little did I know, it was the beginning of an enduring friendship and collaboration that would still be going strong a decade-and-a-half later.

Ed:
So Matt and I had some success together as writers on Magna Cum Laude, but not so with the ill-fated sequel. The studio hit hard times and was forced to lay us off. I was crushed – my wife wasn’t working at the time and we our boys were still rugrats, then. Matt was indomitable – he encouraged me to make the thirty-minute drive into the city during the dead of winter, park eight blocks from his drafty apartment and write screenplays with him while we looked for jobs. We had a blast and it took my mind off of my anxiety. We also came up with some cool ideas for scripts and finished several of them in the years that followed – one of them was Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia.

Matt:
After the lay-off, I left video games to go to advertising school—first in Minneapolis, then in Europe. It was during my six-month European jaunt that Ed and I worked on Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia. If you go back and read that first draft (which is almost a decade old now), so many of the major pieces were in place—including the wrestling bear.

Ed:
In the years after the layoff, I gradually found myself writing for video games full time as a freelancer – several of them with Matt. At this point I’ve worked on almost seventy video games – some big, some not so big, but I’m hugely grateful to have a career in an industry that I love and to be able to work from home to boot. In fact, it was our relative success in video games that caused us to Matt and I to abandon writing spec scripts for Hollywood. The gamble just didn’t seem worth it.

One of our beloved stories stuck with us, however – like a Billy Jack Haynes headlock, we just couldn’t get free of it – Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia.

Matt:
Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia was a story we just had to get out there. While we were both comic book fans, writing comics wasn’t something we’d even considered before. But it slowly dawned on us that Wrestletopia’s colorful characters and over-the-top narrative were perfectly suited for the medium. It was also something we could self-fund… or so we thought. Sure, once we put together a creative team, it cost just a bit– okay a lot more than we’d initially estimated, but just to see Rory and Don and Manifest Destiny finally come alive was priceless.

Ed:
So here we are, a fifteen years later, still writing for games and still committed to publishing Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia (and hopefully many more comics to come). To loosely quote former NWA champion and hardcore legend Terry Funk, “The money isn’t there but the times are good.” For a couple of guys used to work-for-hire gigs, the creative freedom is intoxicating, and we’re thrilled with the reaction to our first two issues (our third is on the way). We’re still looking for a publisher and we’re still hoping it’ll somehow take over the world, but even if it doesn’t, we won’t give up.

Peace, Love and Brown Rice,

Ed & Matt

From left – ED, Weird Al, Matt
Dan “The Body” Schkade and Marisa Louise (AK Col. Von Slamstein) our artist and colorist, respectively.

 


Connet with Ed & Matt

Twitter: @SBP_Comics  |  Tumblr   |   ComixCentral

Buy Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia on ComixCentral!







 

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Crowdfunding Roundup – May, 2018


Kaneesha the Graphic Novel

By Ben Miller

On Free Comic Book day I asked Ben Miller (the writer of Kaneesha) to pitch his book for me. He explained it as a character study of someone dealing with the most challenging decision of their life immediately after witnessing the most traumatic tragedy they’ve ever experienced… I was immediately intrigued.

The comic is about an African American female who’s brother is unjustifiably killed by the police. She now must choose what path to take for justice. Ben said the book is about her journey through grief and anger and what actions she struggles with choosing. Should she violently retaliate or rally her community to stand peacefully against the police department?


PLOT :

 From Ben: “On his way home from work Jerome is killed by the police.  His younger sister doesn’t know how to handle it. At the trial, even though Jerome was unarmed the officers are acquitted.   Enraged, Kaneesha sets upon a journey of Justice. Along the way she must decide if militancy or nonviolence is the correct path to seek equality.   I wrote this graphic novel after seeing multiple abuses visited upon the people of a neighborhood in Gary, Indiana. Kaneesha is a fictional story that is based on the reality of what it is like in places like Gary. “

 WHAT THEY NEED :

 $4,000 which will go entirely to printing the graphic novel.

 WHY YOU SHOULD BACK IT :

This book has been completed but shelved for some time now. I’ve heard him constantly asked at cons, “When’s this coming out?” or “How much longer ‘till we can get a copy?” It’s outstanding to see that it’s finally coming into the light. Ben’s almost halfway there from it finally being on your shelf. Back his book!

Follow this link to learn more and support this campaign »


The Maroon Volume 1: The Cursed Shadow

By Derek W. Lipscomb

I’ve ranted and praised Derek Lipscomb’s The Maroon in two different reviews. Once for CXC and another for Viddy-Well.com. The latter is a filmblog that encouraged me to share the review because of how cinematic Derek’s book was.

 It’s a Southern-fried historical fantasy that has its roots in classic western movies. This is one of my favorite series on CXC. There are equal amounts of imagination and badassness on each page.

 

PLOT :

Drawing from history, mythology, supernatural and high-adventure, The Maroon is a mature graphic novel series set in pre-Civil War America that follows the exploits of a mysterious Black Seminole fugitive, who is accused of a horrid act. Unsure if he has committed this atrocity or not, he must navigate lawmen, bounty hunters and supernatural fiends as he makes his way to refuge.

 WHAT THEY NEED :

 The goal is for $2,000. He’s just about halfway there with a little more than two weeks to go.

 WHY YOU SHOULD BACK IT :

 The $2,000 will go to printing a TBP of all 6 issues of The Maroon. Each issue plays out as a single arcing story that reveals more and more of our main character’s history. Its best read all at once, rather than single issue *in my opinion*!

Follow this link to learn more and support this campaign »


Thank you for checking out the Crowdfunding Roundup – May 2018  |  by 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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The CXC Podcast Episode #36 – Charon Comics | Frederick Packard & Joshua Valliere


[podbean resource=”episode=83c65-8f9483″ type=”audio-rectangle” height=”100″ skin=”1″ btn-skin=”108″ share=”1″ fonts=”Helvetica” auto=”0″ download=”0″ rtl=”0″]

Are you a fan of Charon Comics? Interested in making your own Comics? Publishing and marketing your Comics? Starting a publishing house?

Then take some time and listen to this informative, motivational and fascinating interview with Frederick Packard & Joshua Valliere, the brilliant minds behind Charon Comics.  These two also happen to be 2 parts of the creators behind ComixCentral’s 2017 Fantasy Comic of the Year, “Skylin“! These guys have been there, done that and have some sage advice for your own journey!

“Stories matter. The Wizard did it… isn’t good enough.”

Frederick is the co-author and co-creator to Charon Comic’s first graphic novel series Skylin and Sol Survivor. He is also Charon Comics’ lead marketer and social media guru.
Josh began Charon Comics with Fred after they began collaborating on Skylin, Chrysalis and Sol Survivor series’ asco-authors and creators. Along with writing, he is Charon Comics’ art director and graphic designer.

Connect with Charon Comics and buy their comics using the links below





 

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CXC Podcast Kickstarter Spotlight | Hollowed

 

Welcome to the very first of what we hope will be a regular series on the ComixCentral Podcast, it’s our Kickstarter Spotlight. Today we’re talking to Comic writer Casey Bacon Strips Bowker!

[podbean resource=”episode=3gy75-8f2b76″ type=”audio-rectangle” height=”100″ skin=”1″ btn-skin=”105″ share=”1″ fonts=”Helvetica” auto=”0″ download=”0″ rtl=”0″]

 Casey is currently Kickstarting his Half Comic Book/Half Soundtrack/100% Adrenaline, Hollowed. We follow 2 detectives hunting down a brutal killer that hollows out its victims – A Sci-Fi Horror Comedy & Audio Experience.

Click here to learn more and support Hollowed!

Find out all the interesting details that brought this project to life, including an amazing tale of finding a briefcase full of music in a Route 66 gas station bathroom!

Hurry! This Kickstarter only has a few days left! But, you can always keep up to date with Casey and purchase copies of Hollowed after the campaign is over.

Connect with Casey

Twitter  |  dontforgetatowel.com


 


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Comics History Mysteries – Nazis in Comics | Episode #9

 

Comics History Mysteries – Nazis in Comics | Episode #9

This week on Comic History Mysteries the Voice, Rambling Phoenix and of course the Janitor, have a fascinating conversation about Nazis in Comics.

[podbean resource=”episode=8cise-8f187d” type=”audio-rectangle” height=”100″ skin=”1″ btn-skin=”106″ share=”1″ fonts=”Helvetica” auto=”0″ download=”0″ rtl=”0″]

 






 

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History Mysteries #6 | Libraries and More


 On this week’s Comic History Mysteries, a heartfelt tribute to Stephen Hawking, a discussion on what makes a villain and how some can be lovable in spite of their horrible deeds, Moby Dick, of course Batman makes an appearance and eventually the boys get around to discussing how you can use your local library as a Comic Shop of sorts! Enjoy the madness!

[podbean resource=”episode=cdteu-8da1a1″ type=”audio-rectangle” height=”100″ skin=”1″ btn-skin=”108″ share=”1″ fonts=”Helvetica” auto=”0″ download=”0″ rtl=”0″]


For more history fun with the Ramblin Phoenix’s check out his history blog: www.historicalperceptions.com


 

 





 

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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]

deathbag-preview-comixcentral-blog-header

 

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!

deathbag preview comixcentral






 

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RAGS: Not just another pair of pants

blog-headers.Not-just-another-pair-of-pants_comixcentral-brian-ball_rags

 

Hey everyone! I’m Brian the writer and Co-Creator of RAGS. I have been asked to share my journey from drunken idea to self-publishing our first issue.


The back back way back story:

For those that didn’t know, RAGS has taken almost 3 years from drunken funny concept to release. And like most stories, this wasn’t easy.

A short history of me, I’ve been writing since I was in the fifth grade. Most of my influences were from Japanese animation very early on. Around 1989 my father took a trip to Japan and returned with some Super Nintendo games that perked my interest in everything ANIME. By the time I had reached middle school I had completely watched, on VHS, every episode of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z so when the series finally hit U.S shores, I was ahead of the curve. The importance of this is that I was very heavily inspired by the works of Akira Toriyama. More specifically, his puns. If you pay close attention to his work, you will see that nearly every character he’s created has had some sort of pun-based naming convention. As I inspired myself to write, I attempted to adopt these traits. Early on it did not work out so well, but when you’re a kid everything you do is great right?

Flash forward after graduating High School and 9/11 happens. Being the full bloodied patriot that I am, I rushed to raise my right hand to join up and participate in the war on terror. During my time in the Army, I would continue to write but nothing ever really stuck. I had fans of my writing in my unit, but I was neither fully impressed with my own finished work or I felt I had become too ambitious with the projects I wanted to complete. I attempted to self-publish a full-length novel in 2005, only to find I had been scammed by a Vanity Press and coupled with a few other incidents which we’ll skip, simply stopped writing for a number of years.



Beer, Zombies and a nude mod

On a night that was a-typical of any other night. Trent and I were having a nice fun drunken night of playing Left 4 Dead 2 and attempting to defeat a Map called Yama. This was a difficult map to beat, and on to this day, we have been very unsuccessful at completing it. Anyway, I was using a mod titled: Ravaged Zoey. This mod left one of the female characters in a certain state of undress and to his credit, Trent called me out for utilizing the mod in order to…um…enhance my gameplay. Notably, poor Zoey was left without pants. Trent demanded that I explain myself and, very drunkenly mind you, I came up with an elaborate story about how Zoey was only with the other group of survivors to find clothes and the entire campaign was her quest to locate a comfortable pair of pants. I laughed. Trent laughed. The toaster laughed. I shot the toaster. It was a good time.A few months later I had finally caught the writing bug again and yet, I could not figure out WHAT exactly it was that I should write. So as what most people do in the social media age because it’s the cool thing to do, I decided to let Facebook decide my path for me. I put out a list of old stories I could revisit and possibly give new life to some old characters. Just as the votes were coming in, Trent sent me a message:

Dude! Write a story about that chick looking for pants!

Could I? The concept was stupid, but it was funny. Well at least to us. But after a moment of contemplation, I decided: This is so stupid it just might work!!

rags_comixcentral_blog

Not long after Trent and I began brainstorming. Originally envisioned as an extremely short story the beta version of RAGS started out with an unnamed female protagonist arriving at a Wal-Mart style store, without pants and fully armed to the teeth, but of course minus the pants. She would lose them constantly as she met other survivors or zombies. Always coming out on top, but always bottomless… That had been mulled around a bit but eventually tossed on the floor due to being unable to flesh out the main character, or having a good reason why the loss of pants as a justifiable occurrence. Later, we came up with a working rough draft but decided that instead of novelizing our idea, it would be much more fun if we wrote it as a movie script.

I had never written movie scripts before, and so I went to see the one friend I knew that had. Balam, or Luis as he’s better known as has written many wonderful scripts for movies that will possibly never get made (quite unfortunate but that’s life eh?). I asked him to show how he went about putting his scripts together and after a couple hours of tutelage, I eventually got the hang of things.

Two six packs and three days later I had written the first draft of RAGS: A Zombie Shopping Spree. It was designed to be its own self-contained silly one-shot, however as we shared it around our small network of friends we kept noticing that while initially disgusted with our beginning, people generally enjoyed the story elements and humor overall. Though while the entire concept was outright dumb, they did thoroughly enjoy the journey from beginning to end. Embers underneath the fire if you will.

Next thing we did was shop the story around FB Author groups. This is where we hit out first major roadblock. Immediately the script we share was derided as sexist, misogynistic, and disgustingly vulgar. Just to name a few of the many praises lauded onto us. Our responses got us removed from group after group, until we settled into another group titled Fiction Writing. There we actually met a few authors who saw the gem hidden in the coals of our script and agreed to help us polish things. Eventually, we were kicked out of this group as well. Cie Le Vie.

Regina Ragowski: The mama Leopard

One of the main issues that plagued us, in the beginning, was that our protagonist initially didn’t have a name, personality and they lacked any real depth. We were at a loss as to what to do as we thought our current script was perfect. Nameless heroine on a quest for pants, small town mall, Jill’s Sandwiches, puns galore what was not to love? After some collaboration, we eventually decided to do what any other sane person would do, and dropped the entire thing the trash and start over again. To add depth to the character that we needed, we realized that we needed a character with a name. A name that would kinda stick. So Trent and I got drunk again and went back to L4D2 to brainstorm. Ya know. Science. It was there, as when we’re doing our best to sabotage each other’s efforts at survival that Trent had the epiphany: Dude, we should name her Regina Ragamuffin. To which I responded: Nah man, Ragowski! Like the Big Lebowski but Ragowski!

Needless to say, we think we nailed it there.

Secondly, we needed a personality type. A realistic one. Not a Mary-Sue or a typical tsundere anime girl. We needed legit real personalities to humanize and create a character that you could root for, despite their flaws. While pondering how I should go about this Liz Finnegan had tweeted out: “Get your heads out of your dickholes you WHORE REFS!”

Yeah. It was right then and there I was sold. SOOOO SOLD!

At the time too, I decided to reach out to some female battle buddies of mine from the ARMY to interview them about their input on their unique life experiences and things they had to deal with during their time in the Military. Combining all these things with our character, Regina, finally being given a name, a history and a personality that appropriately matched, all she needed was a face….

Making a Baby:

Movie treatment in hand, polished (4th or 9th time) and ready to rock we came to the conclusion that it was time to start pitching to Netflix and Amazon. Well long story short, we were rejected. Flat out. It seemed as the studio heads there didn’t believe in the subtle nuance a story about a naked woman and her quest for pants could tell and at the same time entertain an audience that wasn’t a bunch of pervs. In that moment of double rejection, we then decided: Fuck it, we’ll make it a comic!

Not knowing how to write comics scripts was another HUGE roadblock. But we took the time to read books on how to write the MARVEL way, studied how IMAGE and DC writers handled their scripts and said: Fuck that noise!

Eventually, we found a style that suited our needs and got right to work. We placed feelers out into the net and reached out to multiple artists before we got our first hit. Recommended to us by a mutual online friend who does short comic work, this artist we reached out to gave us the first real rendition of Regina.

This was great, however, the script and description we gave to them involved a tattoo to be placed on Regina’s left leg. The artist took it upon themselves to change the placement of the tattoos and at first, we were upset…

…however the look ended up growing on us so we just went with it. This same artist was also commissioned to complete 5 pages in a timely manner, however, they went radio silent for long periods of time. So, while they were silent we searched for a second artist that would be able to meet our needs and not just vanish. While we did enjoy their work, the inability to effectively collaborate and the long periods of silence eventually forced us to find another partner.

The second artist we reached out too, this time working with our third drafted script, promised to deliver pages and work on time. However, he quickly showed to us that he did not have the same passion as Trent and I had for our story and script. We fired this artist, and surprisingly they begged for a second chance. We gave it to them, however, they still failed to meet simple deadlines. 6 pages of inks took 6 months or more to receive. And knowing that we would be attempting more pages in a shorter period of time, we found this completely unacceptable and fired this person again. We never got our money or our time back.

All of this would lead us to Sasha. I had worked her before on some small things. And wanted to give her a shot at RAGS. We had the rapport. I knew her work ethic. I wanted to take a chance. So I commissioned a Regina concept from her and it turned out wonderful! Unfortunately, due to personal reasons Sasha had to focus on other things and wasn’t available to work with us. At this time, we honestly were deciding what we should do. We’d already poured in the money to artists. Set up the webpage, domain, set up the Facebook group, the Reddit page. I had just finished setting up our Patreon and T-shirt/ Merchandise store to hopefully help crowdfund our project, but I was curious as to what I could do to get this thing out of the water when there were already multiple gaping holes in our boat. We were lost and dejected and honestly felt as though we had given it a good attempt. To cut our losses and at least be proud that we tried to do something fun while most people would sit back and complain about things.

Hail Mary, or rather Hail Liz!

So as everyone knows by now, that we based Regina around Liz Finnegan’s football tweets and her face. This was initially supposed to be just another one of the many Easter eggs I had planned. As a nod to those that knew and an ‘oh that’s cool’ to those that didn’t. Well, I didn’t have official permission, so with the house around us seemingly burning down at a high rate, I decided to reach out to Liz and inform her of our intentions. The thought was if she said yes, then we’d continue. But a No would let us know that this project wasn’t meant to come to life and to move back to doing other things. I honestly did not believe I would get a response, or rather I didn’t expect to receive such a positive one from her. She enjoyed it. She was a fan. We had a reason to make this shit happen. I passed her blessing onto Trent and we felt renewed. And as if karma was rewarding us for our perseverance that’s also when we found Luigi.

Separately from this RAGS project, I had been working on something of a MARVEL Fan comic. Again, testing the waters and teaching myself the ins and outs and nuances of things of making comics just for knowledge’s sake. I had commissioned an artist, who I felt scammed me out of a potentially fun project and a beaucoup amount of money. As the animosity between us grew Luigi eventually stepped in and finished the work all the while remaining professional the entire time. Even with my demands for compensation being delivered in a cruel manner (I’m really an asshole in real life.), Luigi maintained complete utter professionalism and delivered to me this: Regina-Chan 2.0 as we called it. Everything about it was perfect. The onesie. The eyes. The freckles. The trigger discipline. It was at this time as we were completing my other side project, that I decided to throw another hail mary and put the offer out. If our previous interactions had been contentious I had doubts that he would accept anything additional that I would request.

But.
He.
Did.

Back on track and ready to rock, I felt the need to go back and hand Luigi a script that was worthy of his talents. This script was the first half of issue #1 that Trent and I agreed would be a good test to see how Luigi worked and see if he was a good fit for future works.

Well, needless to say, that what he sent in to us next made our jaws drop. It was at this point. This moment we knew. We immediately went all in and gave Luigi an open deadline to get things done. It was tough, there was a bunch of back and forth and loads of frustration. To this day I still think somewhere he rolls his eyes whenever he sees my email populate in his inbox. But good lord. Without Luigi, RAGS would probably still just be some pipe dream between two drunk guys and a nude mod.

The lesson here to take home is that if you believe in a project, no matter how silly or dumb it may seem. No matter what comments or putdowns that others who don’t know the intricacies of your work. You should just F.I.D.O:

Fuck It.Drive On.

Sure, we will probably never see a full return on the hours and money we’ve spent. But at the end of the day, Trent, Luigi and I will bring to the world our baby. A story about a something near and dear to me, PTSD and overcoming self-guilt. We’re bringing Trent’s great plots, outlines, and story concepts to life in a meaningful way. And hopefully, we’re bringing forward into the spotlight, the amazing talents of a man who deserves to be the lead of animation company. Even if this isn’t a success, it will be all be worth it, because, at the beginning of all this, I did get to meet the amazing person that inspired us and drove us to move onward despite the hurdles and setbacks. And with that, my bucket list is complete.

Liz Finnegan and Brian circa 2018

Written by Brian Ball

 






 

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The Owl Tribe [Review]

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Reviewed by Anthony Cleveland

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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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Crowdfunding Roundup – February 2nd, 2018

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ZOMBIES’ END

The zombie sub-genre is a blast, but it’s a bit saturated with the “same old, same old.” How many zombie outbreak stories do we need? How many wasteland wandering zombie stories are there? …Well, how about a zombie story that deals with the end of the plague. We don’t have very many of those, do we? And that’s just ONE reason to back Zombies’ End!

PLOT :

“A living head in a bucket and his zombie daughter, who are said to hold the key to mankind’s survival, are transported by three brave soldiers through the apocalypse. As the head struggles to maintain sanity and focus, he realizes his disjointed visions are not entirely unreal and must convince mankind that the solution to this zombie horror will be more extraordinary than anyone imagines.”

WHAT THEY NEED :

FUNDRAISING STATUS: URGENT!!! 14 days to go and $6,000 to needed! Funds will go to production, printing, and shipping.

WHY YOU SHOULD BACK IT :

It sounds like a blast! A last stand / final mission type of story with a touch of Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia or Sin City’s The Big Fat Kill thrown in there. Give this unique zombie story a few bucks and see how the plague finally comes to an end!

ZOMBIES’ END- comixcentral

Follow this link to learn more and support this campaign »
twitter @garyscottbeatty  / Fb https://www.facebook.com/garyscottbeatty


GORE SHRIEK

New Gore Shriek issues could be on the way if this Kickstarter is successful! For those that aren’t familiar with Gore Shriek — This was one of the best horror anthologies of the 80s and featured many creators that are now huge names in the industry. A staple of this series was its no-holds-barred horror with some darkly imaginative artists.

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PLOT :

A horror anthology that will produce three 48 page issues in 2018.

WHAT THEY NEED :

Previous Kickstarter and a demand from Gore Shriek fans led to the idea to create subscription plans and new comics. There’s about a month to go and $19,000 to get there.  A highlight of this Kickstarter is in the rewards. At just $10 you receive a digital subscription to the books for 2018. That’s a steal. And the rewards only get better and better.

WHY YOU SHOULD BACK IT :

Old school horror anthologies are making a come back ( check out Creeps for example ). Gore Shriek needs to be back too!  Who knows what other indie creators this book might launch or inspire!  
GORE SHRIEK-comixcentral 3GORE SHRIEK-comixcentral 2

Follow this link to learn more and support this campaign »

twitter: @FantaCoPublish


WE SHALL FIGHT UNTIL WE WIN

I’m a sucker for historical stories in comics, especially when they’re stories that don’t get as much attention as they should. We Shall Fight Until We Win is a graphic novel anthology that takes a look at some historical women from the UK over that last 100 years and tells their stories “in colourful, illustrated snapshots – some stories are well known, some less so – all worthy of note. “

PLOT :

The anthology features stories from a few women from each decade: “From suffragettes like Emmeline Pankhurst and Sophia Duleep Singh, through the defining ‘firsts’ in politics like Nancy Astor, the first female member of Parliament, and Diane Abbott, the first black woman to hold a seat in the House of Commons, to many of the women campaigning and heading up politics today, this graphic novel brings together a mix of creators across the UK to illustrate the numerous stories from the last century.”

WHAT THEY NEED :

They’re about a month away from a goal of $11K. Funds will be going mainly to their contributors and to printing.  “Both 404 Ink and BHP are publishers with numerous titles in their back catalogue and we’re comfortable with the process of creating publications and shipping worldwide between our two teams, and anticipate no problems.”

WHY YOU SHOULD BACK IT :

I’ll let them explain why-

“We wanted to create a reminder of how far women’s rights have come over a century and, conversely, where we have left to go. We’re looking back to the women who shaped our current climate or trailblazed.”

WE SHALL FIGHT UNTIL WE WIN - ComixCentral

Follow this link to learn more and support this campaign »

twitter @404Ink  @BHP_Comics


Thank you for checking out the Crowdfunding Roundup – February 2nd, 2018  |  by Anthony Cleveland

 





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Episode #27 | Ben Miller



Do you know how to handle diversity in your comic? Do you have the courage to get real with the culture clash of your characters? More importantly, do you know how to handle controversial storytelling with grace? If you want to learn, be sure to check out this week’s podcast with culture comic creator Ben Miller.

“Comics belong to everyone!” – Ben Miller

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Hardship makes for great storytelling. Ben Miller’s Judges is a tremendous example in multicultural heroism done just right. In this episode, we learn about character/cultural research and why it’s important in comics. If you take the risk of writing what you don’t fully understand you’d better be meticulous or you run the risk of alienating the very audience you’re trying to reach. Culture goes way beyond the skin we see on the surface and stereotype shortcuts have no place in a well written comic. You don’t have to take my word for it. Read judges, and you’ll see how indie comics is the perfect universe for cultural courage to exist free of red tape and badly filmed afterschool specials. Working in a youth center has obviously had an effect on Ben’s storytelling and it shows in the best way. Having passion is one thing, but contagious passion is something completely different. The best passion and vulnerability give others permission to do the same. It certainly did that for me.

If that’s not enough, we talk some great superhero comics from Dark Horse. We look at the top 3 tips for going to a con as a new creator with your first book. We learn about groups you can join to become a better creator and marketer and even some “how to” books regarding writing and artistry. Above all, we are reminded to temper our expectations, stay humble, and use controversy to our advantage because sometimes causing a stir is the only way to get your message out there.

[podbean resource=”episode=3s93h-83353a” type=”audio-rectangle” height=”100″ skin=”1″ btn-skin=”108″ share=”1″ fonts=”Helvetica” auto=”0″ download=”0″ rtl=”0″]

Connect with Ben

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Episode #26 | Patrick Trahey



Are you struggling to find the right illustrator for your comic? Are you stuck within a crappy collaboration going nowhere fast but you don’t really know how to break it off? Do you maybe just want to suck a little less at writing?

We’ve got that covered and much more on this weeks episode of Adventures in Interviewing with the one and only Patrick Trahey. He’s a soldier of a story like none before him. He’s got 10 years of comic creativity experience to bring to the table. He’s the singular incendiary spirit behind the short stories of Sol comics. He’s the powerhouse behind a new apocalyptic thriller to be released on February 28th, 2018 called The XII. It’s a creepy noir meets grapes of wrath vibes will have you glued to nostalgic graphics page after page, and we’ve got the skinny on the first 5 issue arc before anybody else. When everything is falling apart the only thing that matters is family.

It’s funny what you stumble into once you decide that making video games isn’t all that its cracked up to be, but Patrick has found his stride in the comic world by creating relationships at cons and beyond. He constantly challenges himself as a writer in more ways than one and has mastered “the ask” it takes to share his vision with the masses. It’s no wonder this wunderkind is being picked up by Alterna comics. He has a passion for multiple mediums, but comics just seemed to be the perfect fit. Exposition still sucks but Patrick has a way around it. Above all, we are reminded that when you write the script for a comic book your audience is your illustrator whether you like it or not.

The XII - Episode #26 | Patrick Trahey
The XII – Episode #26 | Patrick Trahey

Come along for the ride and please subscribe to new indie comic knowledge every Friday from now until forever.

[podbean resource=”episode=7fni5-8217ac” type=”audio-rectangle” height=”100″ skin=”1″ btn-skin=”108″ share=”1″ fonts=”Helvetica” auto=”0″ download=”0″ rtl=”0″]


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Episode #25 | Stephen McCoy

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Will we ever run out of stories to tell? Blogger and history junky Stephen McCoy doesn’t seem to think so.

On this weeks episode of “Adventures in Interviewing” Chris Hendricks interviews Stephen McCoy. They tackle the use of tropes in storytelling, how comics represent our modern day mythology and the importance of using Indie comics to shine a spotlight on current social issues as seen in Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez’s “La Borinqueña”; a much-needed highlight on a Puerto Rican superhero giving hope and culture back to the worlds biggest tiny island in their time of need in the wake of hurricane Maria’s devastation.

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Connect with Stephen:

twitter  |  cxc profile   |   historicalperceptions.com


 

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Episode #23 – Julio Guerra

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On this weeks episode of “Adventures in Interviewing” Chris Hendricks interviews Julio Guerra.

In the words of Julio’s profound character Deathbag, “Grumble, grumble, grunt, grumble, grunt.” We couldn’t have said it better. With all seriousness, pop your earphones on, turn up the volume on your bluetooth speaker, tell Alexa to play it loud, however you choose to listen, listen up… we’re joined today by the hilarious and inspiring Indie comic creator, Juilo Guerra. Let’s do this.

 

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Connect with Julio

Twitter  |  CXC Profile





 

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Episode #22 | Anthony Cleveland

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Comic Creator Anthony Cleveland

On this weeks episode of “Adventures in Interviewing” Chris Hendricks interviews Anthony Cleveland. The incredibly fascinating Comic writer of the comic Chris calls, the #1 Horror Comic with Heart, Silver Skin.

We’re getting personal and awesome up in the Podcast this week with Comic creator Anthony Cleveland. We chat about Anthony’s creation process and you have to tune to hear how he funded his latest comic book project, Silver Skin. It’ll make you lol!
 [podbean resource=”episode=a5cxs-7e9a2f” type=”audio-rectangle” height=”100″ skin=”1″ btn-skin=”108″ share=”1″ fonts=”Helvetica” auto=”0″ download=”0″ rtl=”0″]

Connect with Anthony Cleveland 

Twitter  |   Website





 

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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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Episode #19 | Johnny Craft

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On this weeks episode of “Adventures in Interviewing” Chris Hendricks interviews writer of over 100 Comicbook scripts, Johnny Craft!

Wanna’ just bro-down about comics, wrestling, stand up comedy and more? We’ve got your back! Hang out with Chris and Johnny as they discuss navigating the world of working in comics as a professional writer.
 [podbean resource=”episode=7f4cb-7e9a32″ type=”audio-rectangle” height=”100″ skin=”1″ btn-skin=”107″ share=”1″ fonts=”Helvetica” auto=”0″ download=”0″ rtl=”0″]

Connect with Johnny Craft

Twitter  |  CXC Profile





 

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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.

comixcentral rags

 

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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Podcast Episode #13 – WOO! Todd Matthy Talks Robots vs Princesses

Episode #13 – Adventures in Interviewing with Todd Matthy, creator of Robots v Princesses

On this episode, Chris Hendricks gets the lowdown on how indie comic creator Todd Matthy ran a wildly successful Kickstarter Campaign. They destroyed their goal and are now bringing Robots vs Princesses to the world!
They also have a delightful, impression filled conversation about Pro Wrestling and the lessons Todd gained from being a lifelong fan. Do not miss this fantastic and often nerd-nostalgic episode!
robots vs princesses comixcentral
[podbean resource=”episode=rvhu7-7e9a38″ type=”audio-rectangle” height=”100″ skin=”1″ btn-skin=”108″ share=”1″ fonts=”Helvetica” auto=”0″ download=”0″ rtl=”0″]

Connect with Todd and find out where you can grab a copy of Robots vs Princesses below:

robotsvsprincesses.com  |   Twitter


 

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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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LANCE LUCERO

lance lucero

This week we had the distinct honor of landing an interview with a true self-made Indie Comic Entrepreneur, Lance Lucero — owner and founder of Warehouse 9 Productions Ltd.

Lance’s company publishes one of the most original comics we at ComixCentral have ever had the pleasure of reading, BOB: Non-Union Psychic. Not only is the illustration work of Francisco Resendiz a stunning feast for the eyes, Lucero and Volle’s writing keeps you turning the pages, giggling, eyebrow lifting and wanting more of that less than ordinary spunky hair stylist, BOB.



So without further adieu. Here is our interview with Lance Lucero- Non-Union Comicbook creator extraordinaire! Get out your pencils creators-in-the-making, he’s got some great advice you’re not gonna’ want to miss!

Hi Lance! Could you tell our readers a little bit about your company? When did you get your start?

Lance: The late 90’s.  Warehouse 9 Productions, Ltd. was launched for the production of my independent feature film debut HUNTING FOR FISH (in the re-mastering process at present).  https://vimeo.com/user2463860 .   Originally, I considered myself a filmmaker, first and foremost, but then realized that it is important to keep producing projects in many different forms of media.

In 2015 I expanded the company into publishing, testing out the waters with the indie digital comic book BOB: NON-UNION PSYCHIC.  I was a hit!  So the series continues!

What made you decide to start creating Comics?

Lance:I had worked with Adam Volle (co-writer, editor BOB: NON-UNION PSYCHIC) on a screenplay many years ago.  He’s a talented writer and a really big comic book fan.  At the time Adam was about to get a segment that he had written and produced titled THE KLANSMEN IS DEAD published in a SHOOTING STAR Comics Anthology.  That was really exciting to see!  Adam is the real deal, so I knew he would be the person to work with if I ever wanted to dip my toe into the comic book industry.

In 2014, I thought the time was right, so I tapped Adam on the shoulder and pitched BOB: NON-UNION PSYCHIC to him.  The rest is history.

What kind of comics does your company publish?

Lance: Warehouse 9 Productions publishes commercial without being typical, independent, underground, quality renegade stories.  If a comic book fan is tired of the same-old-same-old, look to Warehouse 9 Productions and check out the BOB: NON-UNION PSYCHIC series!  We will entertain.

Could you tell us a little about the team behind BOB:NON-UNION PSYCHIC?

Lance: Lance Lucero – writer, producer, director, editor, graphics designer, and comic book creator.  /  Adam Volle – writer and editor extraordinaire!  A scholar, a teacher, a world traveler. / Francisco Resendiz – brilliant illustrator and colorist.  Destine to be a star! / Cottrel Burks – Master web designer and graphics artist.  Without Cottrel we would have no place to call home on the Internet. http://warehouse9pro.com/

What about Warehouse 9 stands out? What makes you guys unique?

Lance: What’s interesting about the comic book team at Warehouse 9 is the age difference, the cultural diversity, and living location.   We reside in the United States and abroad.  Of course, this is nothing new because of the digital age, but it’s reassuring to know that despite all the differences, there is a love and passion for storytelling and art.  It’s the glue of the team and is helps create fun and exciting entertainment.

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?

Lance: “Throwing in the towel” is not an option.  That would be too easy to do in the independent realm.

They key is NOT to wait to be accepted by the gatekeepers.  It’s the BOB mantra – “Bob Holbreck is not just a character in a comic book – he’s a STATEMENT.  Why let the gatekeepers dictate who gets in?”

We live in a special time where a person can create a product and throw it out into the world without the backing of a major entity.  Oh, sure it would be nice to have some major company knock on the door and offer a deal of some kind, but one has to be realistic and understand that’s probably not likely.  Paying your dues is taking a risk on yourself; creating a quality work; standing on a table and yelling, “Look at me!”

It’s a long-term investment and rewards do not come initially in the way of a big payday, but rather in the way of a budding fan base and positive reviews.

In order for me to keep the momentum alive, it’s all about keeping the team together and creating awesome stories and promoting them any way you can.

Is there any advice you wish someone had given you when you were first starting out in the Comicbook industry?

Lance: I have always been a self-starter.  I wish someone gave me advice, but I have just had to do my research and trust my gut.

What do you think the “big publishers” like Marvel and DC could learn from the Indie scene and vice versa?

Lance: That’s a tough question…  I don’t believe Marvel and DC want to learn anything new, especially from the indie scene.  They (Marvel and DC) are all about “re-inventing” the same materials that have existed for decades.  I don’t think the big two are interested in new content.  Plus – Marvel is owned by Disney and DC is owned by Warner Bros., which means they have nothing to worry about; they will continue to milk their titles to the end of time in all forms of media.

What have I learned from the big two…?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a long time fan and that’s the problem.  I think it’s okay to be different.  I want to create something that does not fit into the usual “standard. Independence is tough, but it’s also very liberating.

Do you cosplay?

Lance: I don’t cosplay, but Halloween is my favorite holiday.  Which means special attention is paid to creating awesome costumes for parties and special events.  Have a look at the amazing seamstress work of my significant other, Lori.

Reed Richards and Susan Storm of the FANTASTIC FOUR.  Constructed out of athletic fabric, not spandex.  We worked out for nine months before we stepped into these form fitting super hero outfits. Hey, if you want to be a super hero, you better get in shape like one!

 

Something more sinister, Alex and Georgie, from A CLOCK WORK ORANGE.  Yeah, we made real codpieces…

 

And our crowning achievement to date, the famous 18th Century hairdresser Legros de Rumigny and doomed Austrian queen of France Marie Antoinette.  Legros is featured in BOB: NON-UNION PSYCHIC #1 “The Legend of Legros.”  There’s nothing cooler than dressing up as one of the characters from your own book!

Those are amazing, you guys are a creative powerhouse! Back to the questions: What is your ultimate goal in comics? What does the future hold for Warehouse 9?

Lance: The ultimate goal is to create more entertaining content and branch out to other forms of media.  Hey, might as well think big, right?

Knowing what you know about the publishing industry and self publishing, what advice would you give an up-and-coming creator looking to get their comic into the hands of readers?

Lance: Incorporate.  Protect yourself legally.  Be prepared for a long-term investment.

Be prepared to run a marathon when it comes to promoting your product.


And with that sage advice kids, we’ll wrap it up!

We want to thank Lance for taking time out of his busy schedule to touch base with us and give the world a look behind the curtains at Warehouse 9.

If you’d like to learn more about Warehouse 9 Productions Ltd, connect with them or get in touch with Lance and his team, you’ll find great links below.

That’s all for now, go make some Comics!


Connect with Lance and Warehouse 9 Productions:

www.warehouse9pro.com

twitter/@Warehouse9Ltd

https://vimeo.com/user2463860

 





 

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Katrina (Ayla Speaker for the Dead)

katrina

I lived through Katrina.

I’m not saying that in a boastful way. I didn’t live in the city, I was across the lake on the Northshore. My home had minimal damage. I didn’t lose any loved ones in the storm. There were a lot of people that had it a lot worse than I did because of that storm. But everyone that was living here during that time will never forget it, no matter how little or how great its impact on their lives.

My roof needed replacing. My BBQ grill was a gone, I had forgotten to bring it inside and a tree limb fell off and pretty much took any idea of cooking on it again away. I cleaned myself out of a bowl for a few weeks, replacing it with bottled water. I used a car battery and solar power charger to run a fan for at least half the night before the charge would die. This was in September, in New Orleans it’s still hot and humid during that time of year, especially without air. We opened the store where I work at to first responders to come in and get sock, shoes, dry clothes, flashlights, whatever they needed. We took notes on what everyone picked up, later to charge whatever part of the government we needed to but ended up throwing the list away. Some of these people were still in the same wet, dirty clothes for days.

During the time of Katrina, I kept a blog, I’m going to reprint some of my posts from that time, just to give everyone a brief glimpse into what was going on at that time.

From that Sunday:

Today started at six. Actually, that was the time I was supposed to be at work, but either I slept through my alarm or it didn’t go off. I woke, rolled over and saw the time was at fifteen till six. Oops. I jumped up, dressed quickly and was on the road within minutes. I made it to the store just a little after six. Steve and Heather were waiting for me outside the building. We were supposed to have about eight associates coming in. We were going to open only till around 11, see if anyone needed to come in for hurricane supplies and to finish getting the building ready for the hurricane. Jessica and Timmy showed up not long after I did. We decided that we weren’t going to open at all, over night they had announced that Katrina was up to cat 5 now and heading right towards us. Slidell south of hwy 12 was under mandatory evacuation, that was only across the street from us. So we figured we’d finish getting the store ready to weather the storm and then head out. First off we got some money from petty cash and sent Timmy to the McDonalds to get us some food. It was open when they passed it on the way to work. We had to finish wrapping the registers and finish putting plywood over the front of the store. I had to do the Sunday fax, which is payroll and sales figures for the week. Need to send that so everyone gets paid for the week. While we were getting things ready Jessica’s parents called, they wanted her home so they could leave, they had decided to leave the city now. We turned on one of those small portable TVs we sell to watch the news. They said the Crescent City Bridge was like a parking lot, they were advising people not to take it. I knew my brother was still on the Westbank, he hadn’t left yet. I called him to tell him he better get on the road. We finished everything by around nine. My brother called me and said he was already in Slidell, I wasn’t expecting to make it until later that day from the way they were talking. He said traffic had not been a problem.

Kenneth went back to my place to help me bring some stuff outside into my house so it wouldn’t get blown away. I also had to pack. I know, I always wait until the last minute to do anything. Then we headed towards my parents. The plan had been to go to Picayune and stay in a hotel there with my parents, but since the night before they had changed their plans. A cat 5 hurricane changes a lot of plans.

We got to Picayune without any trouble. The Highway going out that way was using both lanes to head traffic out of the city. It looked strange seeing traffic on both sides of the highway going the same way.

We were on the road by twelve. Instead of the interstates, we were going to take the small state highways and head to Tennessee where my Mother’s family is. We took hwy 11 to hwy 13 to hwy 35 and then briefly got on I 55 till we got back off and on hwy 7 to Memphis. Actually outside Memphis. We ended up at my Aunt Shirley and Uncle Troys. They took us in without the bat of an eye. I haven’t been back up this way since I graduated high school, so it’s been a few years They were even willing to take in Buffy and Sheba, my parent’s dog.

It took us eight hours to get there, which wasn’t that bad. We never ran into traffic and the way was easy and smooth. We made one stop at Wendy’s to eat and let the dogs out for a walk. Buffy sat in the passenger seat and just watched the scenery pass by without a bark. Every now and then she would try and curl up and sleep, but it never last for long, she would jump up into a sitting position and stare outside the car.

I think we were all in bed by ten that night. It was a long day.

I almost didn’t leave that day. I was going to ride it out. But luckily when I saw how strong the storm was getting I decided retreat was the best option.

Today is the day we decided to leave our safety of Tennessee and head back home to see what our homes look like. From what little we can gather from the news and the internet Picayune where my parents live is not as bad off as a lot of what we’ve seen on tv. The Westbank where my brother lives, from the phone call my sister managed to get through, did not get hit too bad. Now when I say not too bad, this is all relative to what New Orleans and Biloxi went through. From everything we’ve heard about Slidell, where I live, the hurricane hit hard and bad. The storm surge was supposed to be fifteen to twenty feet high.

We left at six in the morning. Shirley wanted to cook us breakfast, but we decided to head out as soon as possible. We were going to try and retrace our path to Tennessee, by traveling the back highways. Again we found little traffic on the roads. As we got further south the terrain began to change. At first, we saw a few branches on the side of the road, as we rode on we found trees broken and lying on their side.

After hitting the center of the state gas became almost nonexsitent. Every time we stopped at a gas station they were either out of gas or they had no electricity and could not operate their pumps. Not far out from Picayune the scenery became even worse. Trees were snapped along the side of the road. Not just one or two, but as we drove down the highway the trees that paralleled the road were snapped like twigs. We passed one gas station and the top that covers the gas pumps was blown over. Fronts of buildings were blown over. Trees that were huge, that looked decades old, were uprooted and lying on the ground. Sometimes they were lying across someone’s home.

On the side of the road, a tree was blown over and was being held up by the electrical wires strung between the poles. The entire thing leaned over towards the street. This was not good, eventually, it was going to come down if it didn’t get fixed soon.

We turned down a road near my parent’s house, one that I’ve traveled a thousand times. Trees on both sides of the roads were snapped in half. The road was almost unpassable. Many times there was just enough room to travel on the road. Then we came onto a pile, at least twenty feet high, of trees uprooted across the road. We were not going up that way. We turned around and went down to another road which we were able to travel over.

I held my breath as we turned up the driveway to my parent’s house. They have a long dirt driveway, about forty feet long before their home. In the middle of the driveway was a tree. We parked the cars and walked the rest of the way. They had two car ports off to the side that was now in the middle of the yard. One of them had literally been lifted up, blown over a fence without touching the fenced and was lying bent in two in the middle of their yard. The roof of their shed was peeled back, part of it had been ripped off and was hanging over their patio cover. The side window on my father’s shop was broken and the door to the shop was blown off. But all his tool were still inside and looked in good shape.

The good news was that their home was fine. Some shingles had been blown off the roof, but besides that, it looked good.

My brother and I went down and cut the tree apart so we could drive all the way up to the house. My father needs a chainsaw. We had to cut the tree apart with an ax and a saw. It took us a little while but we managed.

A few more things and then I decided to head home. My brother was going to stay the night. He was going to have to go the long way around New Orleans to get to the West Bank, so he wanted to make sure he had a full day to try and get home.

My gas tank was getting closer to E, but I didn’t have that long a trip. As bad as it had been so far, Slidell was worse.

I’ve never been in a war zone, but I’ve read how when a bomb goes off it just shatters the land, the shock wave can snap the trees in half. That’s what the land looked like

as I tried to get home. When I turned down the street to get back towards my home all I saw was downed trees. It was a lot of weaving back and forth but I thought I was going to make it, till I got almost to the end and a tree was blocking the street. The good news was there was a backhoe there, looking like he was getting ready to move the tree aside. I decided to drive down to the store and see if anyone had made it there while the moved the tree aside.

Two campers were parked in front of the store when I got there. The door was unlocked. A stranger was at the doorway. He was from loss prevention. He said Loretta, our district manager was in the back of the store. I went back and talked with her for awhile. She had talked to just about all the other managers and everyone was safe. When I mentioned that I was almost out of gas she came to the rescue, she had a gas can in her car with gas in it. At least enough to get me around for another day, I was on E now.

I won’t mention the fact that I locked my keys in my car when I went in, it was that type of day.

I left to try and get back home. This time the tree was gone. I had to dive under a leaning tree that looked like it was leaning too much, but I made it. As I drove back towards my trailer I was getting nervous. I passed one trailer where the entire side was pulled loose. I turned on my street.

I had a wooden fence around my trailer. Not one part of the fence was still standing. It was flattened. Part of the pine tree in my front yard was on my porch. My gas grill was upside down. I stood in shock. The trailer looked good though. Across the street, from me, there was a tree across the front of the trailer. In another yard, a huge tree was on its side. I took some pictures, I’ll post as soon I can get them developed.

I opened the door to my refrigerator and took a step back. Whoah, it smelled. I filled two big garbage bags with the entire contents of the refrigerator, there was no use to try to save anything in it. I brought in all my food and water I got from Memphis and set up as best as I can. I’ve got my little portable tv, some food, something to drink. No water, no electricity. I opened all the windows, some of them barely opened, I don’t think I’ve even opened some of them, I use the air conditioner instead of open windows. But it is still hard in here, sleeping is going to be fun. But at least it’ll be in my own bed.

I’m going to watch a little more news and then probably head to bed. I’m off to work tomorrow at six, we’re going to try and get open where at least people can get some things they may

These next posts are from my first days back. The problems I faced with minuscule compared to what a lot of people were facing and we’re going to face in the future.

The problem with writing these posts is that I tend to do it at the end of the day when I’m tired and not wanting to do anything. My mind has shut down and just want to rest along with the rest of my body.

Today started at five in the a.m. I was supposed to be at work at seven, mainly just a chance to see who was here and figure out what we’re going to do type thing. Sams was supposed to have gas at six this morning. I got up, brushed my teeth and managed to clean myself with a washcloth and bowl of water. Right now two of the most precious commodities we have are water and gas.

I got to Sams at around 5:30 or so. There already was a line. I’d say there were at least sixty cars ahead of me. I parked, turned the car off and waited. I got out and started talking to the people around me. I was parked next to a Sams employee that was directing traffic. He was from out of state, I forget where now. He was part of Sams disaster team, they go in after something like this and help to get the store running. They already had a generator running and the store was opening at seven. That was also the time he told her they were supposed to start selling gas.

By seven the line had to be a couple hundred cars long behind me. He figured they had enough gas to last about four hours. Once they started it went fast. They had a lot of pumps and they had an employee working each pump. Full-service gas, what a concept! He pumped it and took my money. They had it organized very well. They didn’t fool around with the cents, they just took the dollar amount, saved them time with having to deal with a lot of change. The only bad thing, and I didn’t think of it but I should have, was that you had to pay with cash for the gas. I hardly ever carry cash around, I’m so used to being able to use my debit card for anything. Luckily I had some cash from my trip to Houston, my per diem and gas money and etc. By then it was almost eight o’clock.

I zipped over to work. Steve was the only manager there. Darryl (the store director) was not there yet. Loretta (the district manager) was there. Right after I got there Darryl showed up. He actually showed up while I was in the back of the store shopping. I figured there were some things I needed before we opened and they all disappeared.

They were sending in a team of about twenty associates from the Texas stores in campers to actually run the store, they figured the associates had enough to do right now. The associates could work if they wanted to, but this way it enabled us to open and serve the customers. The plan is to only let in around twenty customers at a time, stay with them as they shopped. We had a generator running so we actually had lights and some air conditioning.

One nice thing Loretta told us that the company intended to keep paying the managers no matter what. Now I know that could change later, but I thought that was pretty nice of the company, especially when they’re sending in other people to do our work so we can attend to personal matters.

We decided that we wouldn’t open until Monday. The Texas people wouldn’t be there until then, so we figured there was no way we were going to be able to do much. Steve had to bring his wife to Arkansas, she’s pregnant and he wants her around doctors and a more stable environment. Darryl wanted to get back to his in-laws and help with the cleaning. He figures his house is gone, he lives in Chalmette which is just about all under water. I was getting some stuff from the store for my parents too, so I wanted to drive out there and give it to them and see if I could help them out some. Plus I had a lot of stuff to do at home.

I filled two buggies with stuff. I got two camp stoves, ideal for cooking inside. Darryl showed me this device that connects to a marine battery we sell and then you can plug a light or fan into it. So I got two marine batteries and these devices. I got a cooler, I don’t own a cooler. I ended up getting a bunch of stuff I figured I could use.

I would have got my brother some stuff too, but he was supposed to be going to the Westbank early this morning and I wasn’t sure when I’d see him again with the ways things were around here.

While I was there some police officers and national guardsmen came in for some stuff. We’ve been letting them come in, get whatever they need and just write it down and we’ll worry about the money later. That was what Darryl let me do too.

I went home, dropped the stuff off and headed back to Sams. They would take a check if you were a Sams member, which luckily I was. I wanted to get some ice more than anything and figured I could stock up on some foodstuff. Of course, there was a line. I have an idea that before this is all over with I’m going to stand in a lot of lines. They were only letting about two dozen people in at a time. The line moved fairly quickly and wasn’t that long. It took me about thirty minutes to get in.

I got a lot of canned goods and some other things that I hope will last in this heat. And my ice. I was going to get a fan, I don’t have one at home, but I forgot.

Back home to drop this stuff off, empty the ice in the cooler, which only took about half my ice, so I figured I’d bring the other half to my parents. Then back in the car and over to my parents.

I was surprised when I got there to see my brother there. He had already tried to get into the Westbank and couldn’t. They’ve declared martial law there and are not letting anyone in. They said starting Monday they’ll let people in. I was glad to see him but knew he was upset about not getting in. He just wants to know what condition his house is in. He is pretty sure that there was no flood damage but a tree could have fallen through, or looters or who knows. On the radio, I heard that looters burned Oakwood Shopping Mall down, which is the big mall on the Westbank. It’s one of the busiest malls in New Orleans. The not knowing is driving him crazy.

Then I felt bad cause I didn’t get him anything. I’ll go back tomorrow and try to get him some things, at least the camp stove. The good thing is that he’s there for the next two days to help my parents around the house.

I visited for a little while then jumped back in my car to head home. I had a tree on my porch I wanted to try and get off. I got home, ate some spam, but I was able to cook it on my camping stove! Such small joys make us feel more human.

One of the things I got at work was a saw and ax. The entire top of this pine tree was on my porch. I’m lucky it didn’t fall a little further and go through my roof. It took me about two hours to cut it up and throw off the side, but my porch is now clear. I’m going to put my outdoor furniture back out there, so it’ll clear up my living room. I still am going to have to cut the tree up into smaller pieces to get out of here. I just cut off limbs and chunks so I could move it.

The rest of the night I plan to spend watching tv (I have a little portable tv I’m sure I’ve already mentioned), maybe eat something else and turn on my fan and then probably to bed. Tommorrow I’m sure will be another fun day.

The next day:

Another late morning, I got up at eight this morning. Mornings are the best time of the day. Last night my battery much not have charged completely, the fan went off before I fell asleep. But it was not that hot so I didn’t’ worry too much about it. But at seven or eight in the morning there is a slight chill in the air and it feels so good. Makes you just want to lay there and not move.

Went to Sams today for more ice. It looks like the cooler will hold the ice for about two days and then I’ll have to be getting more ice. I have to get twenty pounds of ice from Sams, they sell everything in bulk. That is more ice than I need so I noticed some more of my neighbors across the street are coming home so I went and gave them a bag of ice. I want more people to come home. There is safety in numbers.

On the way to Sams, I stopped at the store. Darryl was there, talking on the phone to Loretta. I talked to his wife while he was on the phone. The store was boarded back up, all the people from home office had left. After Darryl got off the phone he told me that they decided not to open until Wednesday or Thursday, that most people needed food and things like that more than what we sold. He said Loretta was pretty ragged, she’s been traveling to the stores and seeing all this damage and it has to be getting to her. The store in Gulfport was wiped out. The one in Hariharan has been looted and has standing water.

Afterwards, I went to check on my parents. Today is the last day my brother will be there. He is heading home tomorrow, they are lifting the ban at six a.m. to get into Jerffersion Parish. Yesterday my Dad collapsed, he dehydrated himself. I’m glad my brother was there. He put him in the van and turned the air conditioner on and they gave him a lot of water and soaked him down. He still isn’t feeling all that great today, but maybe it is for the best. It shows him that both he and my mother have to take it slow in this heat. They can’t try and do too much too quickly. Better it to have happened now when my brother was there than later. I don’t know how often I’ll be able to get up there with gas so hard to get hold of.

The WalMart in Picayune was open some, my brother, mother, and sister went. I wanted to get some stuff that I couldn’t find at Sams. I ended up spending close to a hundred dollars. I got some more food, but I also got a rake to try and help clean my yard up and a push broom. I want to sweep the street in front of my home, just to try and make it look better. Right now every little thing that makes things look a little more normal is a help.

They also got a generator. It lasts for about eleven hours. I’m thinking of going to Sams and getting one of the smaller generators. I’m just worried about getting the gas for it. It takes about five to six gallons for twelve hours. I have two five gallon tanks if I can get them filled. I don’t mind spending the money on a generator if I can keep it running, I hate to spend the money on it and then not even be able to get the gas to use it.

I’ve been out in the yard cleaning still. I finally got all the tree from my yard to the front. There is still a lot of pine needles and pine cones in the yard, but that’s what I got the rake for. My brick patio was covered with debris from the tree. I cleaned it and it looks better than it has in awhile, to be honest. I even weeded in between some of the bricks which I haven’t done in too long. I figured that as I clean I just as well get things looking as good as I can.

Ok, that’s it for now, later tonight if this laptop doesn’t die on me. I wasn’t able to charge it last night since the battery didn’t charge completely. Between charging the laptop and having a fan run, the fan wins out.

And the next day:

Today I decided to sleep in. So, of course, I woke up at five a.m. To my surprise, the fan was still running. The power inverter was still working. Actually, the battery was still working, I figured it was going to die sometime during the night. And then it died. Still, it lasted longer than I expected. And now it was cool outside, this time of the morning, so it didn’t feel so bad.

I went back to sleep and woke up around eight. I got up and did my little washing by the sink. I wet a washcloth, soap my body and then run the washcloth over my body again and then dry off. That’s my bath.

I decided to take all my can foods and put them out where I could see them. Why? I don’t know, I just felt better doing it like this. That way I wouldn’t be surprised when I was running low on food, I wouldn’t miss something in the cabinets. I took a small bookcase I had in the hallway and put it on the back side of the bar and filled this up with all the foodstuff I bought from Sams yesterday. Then I went through my cabinets and took what I thought I could use and put them in the bookcase. I found some stuff that I just had to throw away.

Next, I decided to clean out my refrigerator. It was empty so I figured this was a good time to give it a good scrubbing. Afterwards, I put some water and drinks in it to store.

I forgot about my upright freezer. It was full of food. So I had to take a garbage bag and go clean it up too. I emptied everything in the garbage bag. I took everything to the trash dumpster. While there I was talking to a few other people that were from the trailer park. One guy said that someone tried to break into his trailer last night, only to run away when someone shined a flashlight on them.

My neighbors on my left came home. They had gone to Tennessee to ride out the storm. They actually weren’t here to stay, they were just coming to pick up some things and check on their trailer. They had brought a truckload of water back with them and gave me a case of water.

My neighbor across the street, Chris, had stayed in his trailer during the hurricane. He said the wind literally lifted the trailer up and shook it. Luckily it didn’t lift it too hight. During the night someone had stolen his battery out of his truck. He was fed up and wanted to leave. But he had no battery. He had no phone, the phones, the cell phones still weren’t working. He wanted to call his brother to come get him. He thought a phone in Pearl River at this local store was working so I agreed to take him down there to see. We tried three different places before we found a phone that worked. But it only worked with a calling card, money just fell through it.

I brought him back home. He wasn’t that happy, but there wasn’t much more we could do.

I was pulling the tree that I pushed off my porch into the side of my yard to the front of the yard. This was hard work, the limbs all twisted together. My body is covered in scratches and cuts from the pine cones and needles. I got maybe a little over half of the tree moved to the front. What I’m going to do with it here I’m not sure, but I feel better getting it in the front by the side of the road.

Chris found a battery and hooked it up. I had about a gallon of gas in a gas tank that I used for my lawn mower and gave it to him. He had about half a tank.

I was exhausted. I sat in my chair on the porch and just did not want to move. I drank two bottles of water. Actually one bottle, the other bottle I filled from the melted ice in the cooler. I never imagined water could taste so good…I’m sure I’ll be repeating that in the time to come.

It’s dark outside now and I keep hearing cars go up and down the main street, up and down. Now I just heard what is either a car backfiring or a gunshot. To me, it sounded like a gunshot, but I can’t know for sure.

The breach in the levee may be filled tomorrow. Hopefully, it will be. That will make a big difference in New Orleans. I just saw an interview with the Mayor of New Orleans and he looked completely exhausted, mentally and physically. I’m going to watch a little more tv and than probably go to bed.

And the final post from then I’m going to reprint:

It’s been nine days since this started. And probably a multiple of those nine days before we get anywhere close to normalcy.

Today I slept really late, it was after eight before I got out of bed. I woke up with a headache and really did not want to do anything. I got up, washed and brushed my teeth and then tried to figure out what I wanted to do today. Since I had more bananas than I knew what to do with I figured I’d drive over my parents and give them the ones Sams gave me. When I got there no one was home. The front door was open, the dogs were inside. They are terrible about going out and just leaving the door open. They think because they live in a small town that there is no crime. And what’s worse with the hurricane there are looters everywhere.

I went in, walking through their house to see if someone was in the back or maybe out back. As I walked through I heard a motor humming. Then I realized that it was cool inside. I flicked a light switch. The light came on. They had power! Wow, what a difference that makes.

I looked in their refrigerator and found some turkey. I made myself a sandwich. They even had mayonnaise! I felt like I was in heaven. I would kill for a hamburger right now. Even the stores that are selling food at the moment are not selling any frozen stuff or meat. All that was ruined in the hurricane, so they’re cleaning the racks and getting ready to get some in I hope.

I waited around for about an hour and when no one showed up I left. I came home and went to raking the yard. I raked most of the front yard, all the pine needles, pine cones, tree bark and whatever else is in the yard. At least it’s starting to look somewhat normal.

There’s a nice breeze blowing through right now. It’s keeping the place fairly cool. But it has the feel of rain and that’s something we don’t need.

As I was raking I kept looking at my fence. I was thinking the front part I could fix by myself. It was not completely blown down, just leaning forward. If I could push it back, prop it up I could fill concrete around it and it should stand. It sounded like a plan so I went to Home Depot to get the concrete and wood. While there I saw Walmart was open so I decided to go there too. I needed a hoe and shovel and Home Depot’s garden section wasn’t open.

While in Walmart my phone rang. It hasn’t been working since I talked to Heather last night. I was able to get through to Paul Stewart and leave a message that I was alive, but that was it. It was my brother. He had made it back to the Westbank ok. His house had gotten water in it. The bedrooms and part of the den were flooded. A couple inches of water he told me. He had pulled up some of the carpets. He said he was coming back to my parents tonight, the smell of the standing water was too much for him to stay in. He’d go back in the morning. I told him I’d go help him tomorrow if he was going to come back tomorrow night.

I got home and unloaded all the stuff I bought. I went over to push the fence up. It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. The fence did not want to move. I had to wedge one of the boards against it and push the board down, pushing the fence out and back towards what I hoped was more of what a fence was supposed to look like. I went to the lake and filled my bucket up with water and came back. I filled the holes with cement and then water and mixed and kept it up till I had a lot of cement around the fence posts. Hopefully, it will work. If it works there are a few other sections of the fence that blew down like that. I can get them up and cement in place and then the remaining pieces I can attach, like a giant puzzle.

I think I’m going to go spend the night with my parents tonight. I can take a hot shower, sleep in air conditioning and otherwise act like a normal person again. That way I’ll be there when my brother wants to leave too. I’m sure he is going to want to leave early. He said it took him about four hours to get into the Westbank today. Tommorrow will probably be worse, more people will be trying to get back in than.

I’m not going to go into the fact that a few days after this I ended up in the hospital. My appendices had turned gangrene and I almost died. Yea, I’m all about the timing, but that’s a different post and besides the fact that the hospital had one doctor, no roof but was still waiting on as many people as they could, that’s a story for another time.

While there is no hurricane during this story arch for Ayla the history of her time and her city are deeply reflected by the histories of hurricanes. Here’s a post I wrote two years after the storm:

At least they picked up the sign. Driving through New Orleans East, coming in from Slidell, on the right side of the highway, in what had been one of those groupings of stores in one area, there was a sign for Save-A-Lot supermarkets. It had been pushed forward by the winds and snapped in half, so it was laying on its side. Every time I drove that highway I saw that sign. Yes, there were a lot worse things to see, right there on that highway in fact, but for me, that sign became my white whale of Katrina. For over a year it sat there, next to a store that was no longer in use, next to a whole bunch of other stores that were no longer fit to be used. Finally, someone took the sign down and hauled it away.

The Sams store that was near the Save-A-Lot’s has been cleared to the ground. So has the Walmart. The Lake Forest Mall, right across I-1o from all this has also been completed razed to the ground. I remember when I first moved to Louisiana we (we being my parents and brother and sister) drove all the way from the Westbank to Lake Forest out in New Orleans East for the Farrels ice cream parlor. There also was an ice skating rink in the middle of the mall.

There’s a sign on the site where the Mall used to be saying that there is a Lowes coming soon. I’m not sure how they’re going to find people to staff the store. They still don’t have a grocery store open in New Orleans East. There are some people moving back, but they need stores near them that can provide the necessities. These stores need people that can provide work for them. It’s a cruel circle.

My parents would still be living in Mississippi if hadn’t been for Katrina. Or I mean my Mom would now. They only moved after the storm, when they came back to find their car patios in their front yard. I think the storm really scared my Mom, she was in a rush to move. Which has been a blessing and a curse? I miss not having her near here, more so now, since my Dad died. And when he was sick it was hard. But it is also good because that is where all her family saves for me and my brother is. There is a lot more family up there to give her support than either my brother or I could by ourselves.

I do have to admit that Katrina might have saved my life. After coming back from the storm I ended up in the hospital. My appendix had turned gangrene, the doctors told me another day and I would have been dead. I’m not much of a hospital person. I rarely go to doctors. The only reason I think I went then was that everyone was talking about “Katrina flu,” people were getting it from the air and the water. The day before I had been on the Westbank with my brother, helping him pull up the carpet. I thought I might have picked something up in the water from the flood. So I went. I was in a lot of pain, so even without that excuse I’d like to think I would have gone to the doctor, but I don’t know.

People in Lakeview, which was one of the hardest hit areas in the city, are actually making a comeback. They’ve managed to do a lot of it on their own. With their own money, borrowing money, and getting the work done. Which is great and to take nothing from them, but they are also an affluent section of the city, so they had money to start with. Areas like the 9th Ward, which doesn’t have the money to do it on their own are still hurting.

You can still drive down streets and see the big Xs on the side of houses. The X was made when the rescue teams searched the house. They put the date, their unit number and the number of dead found in the house. Driving by a house with an X and a 1 or 2 written in black on the side is still chilling.

The little grocery store next to the fairgrounds where all our early birds for the Jazz Fest would go for breakfast is gone. This last Jazz Fest Larry and I huddled underneath its porch as the rain poured around us, but the doors were closed. The owners are said to have left town and have no plans on coming back.

One of our more honest (or so we thought) politicians, one of the few voices of reason after the storm, that called for us to come together as one, to not let race divide us, was proven to be less than sterling when he admitted to taking a bribe, years before the storm. He did something that few politicians, especially ones from this state, did and apologize to the people and admit that he made a mistake and that he let a lot of people down.

Meanwhile “Dollar Bill” Jefferson continues to stockpile his freezer with cash and get re-elected. The Mayor is fairly quiet the past months, after making a fool of himself almost every time he opened his mouth. When we as a city needed a leader, someone to take charge and command action, get things done, he was hiding in one of the high-rise hotels from the winds of the storm, not even wanting to come out of his room to talk to people.

I know people still living in FEMA trailers. But now FEMA wants their trailers back. They are telling people that they have to leave their trailers. But where can they go? Money to help people rebuild their lives is barely trickling in. The Road Home program has paid money to a very small percentage of the people needing the money.

It’s easy to forget about us down here. It’s been two years. Most people probably think that we’re ok, that most people have rebuilt and moved on with their lives. But we’re still long ways from that goal. It’s easy for the rest of the country to forget about us since our government has pretty much forgotten about us. Bush doesn’t want to be reminded of his ineptness in handling Katrina. He’ll come down here for the anniversary and talk about how things are going so good and that things are on track and that he hasn’t forgotten about us, but then he’ll climb in Air Force One and fly over our lands again and look out the window and think about something else and forget who we are.

We had politicians after the storm saying that we shouldn’t re-open New Orleans. Just write it off as a bad investment. I have friends ask me why I would want to live here, was I crazy? Even today, ten years plus after the storm, we are still cleaning up from Katrina. My brother has been working on repairing his house since then. I was going to post to some of the articles from these politicians about Katrina, but simply don’t have enough left in me to go back and re-read some of those hateful, spiteful words about a city I love.

The ineptness of post-Katrina is pretty much history now and I’m not going to belabor that point any further.

All this goes into the fact that I believe if New Orleans has another Katrina, or one even stronger, than the city may not come back. Or at least not the city as it is. I can see the government trying to make the best of a bad spot and doing something with the city.

This is just background to try to explain why in the future of Ayla the United States government decides to sell the city of New Orleans after two Katrina plus strength hurricanes within five years of each other.




 

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The language of Ayla or Holy #%@!  (Ayla Speaker for the Dead)

ayla speaker dead

I just got back from the Tennessee Comic Con. That’s the second convention I’ve been to since we’ve started posting pages for Ayla. So I think it’s time to talk about the language in Ayla. You know what I’m talking about. The swear words.

A sidebar but important in the scheme of things. Anyone that knows me will be or actually already is if they’ve read any of Ayla with the language. It’s not how I talk. Most people that know me can probably tell you that they’ve never heard me swear. I was talking on the phone to my ex-gf awhile back and a wall of shelves in my utility room collapsed and everything fell to the floor. I was in the other room when this happened and if sounded like a wall have fallen. I ran to the back, still on the phone, and when I saw the disaster I will admit a certain four letter word starting with F escaped my lips. The other side of the phone went silent. So quiet that I momentarily forgot the mess in front of me and asked if everything was ok. She haltingly asked where her bf was because it couldn’t be me, I didn’t talk like that. I shocked her.

When I was much younger, back in high school, I swore. Like all kids that age I was trying out words that I wasn’t supposed to say and seeing what I could get away with. Until one day my Dad heard my swearing. He didn’t say anything to me. But I didn’t like the face that he heard me talking like that. I made a promise to myself that I wasn’t going to use those words. And with a few exceptions here and there I’ve pretty much kept that promise.

Now I don’t say any of this to make myself look all pious and noble. I really don’t think there is anything wrong with swearing. It’s just not me.

So you might ask what are all the swear words doing in Ayla? It wasn’t a light decision I assure you.

Especially after doing both these cons and realizing that I’ve limited the audience I can pitch Ayla to. At Wizard World I had made copies of the first few pages of the comic and put them on my table. I figured as I talked about Ayla I could direct people’s attention to the pages and let them see for themselves what we were doing. Until the first kid started to look at the pages. Ooops, I grabbed them quickly and apologized that he really couldn’t look at the pages. After it happened a few more times I just picked the pages up and put them away. It’s not my decision if a kid should read these words. I’m sure some parents won’t mind. My parents never censored what I was reading as a kid and I came across words as bad or worse all the time.

As I stand out in front of my table handing out postcards for Ayla to anyone that walks by I realize that I have to bypass the younger con goers. And let me tell you there’s a lot of younger comic book readers attending conventions nowadays.

So why would I do something like this? Everything I’ve written before can pretty much be read by any ages. Some of it might be over the heads of some of the younger kids, but I don’t think there was anything that a parent might find reason not to lead their child read the comic. So I’ve intentionally restricted the size of my audience.

Like I said though, this wasn’t a quick or easy decision. When I wrote those first few pages I tried to use language that was tamer for Bolly. It just wasn’t who he was. I wanted this to be an adult story. We start off with prostitutes and later we’re going to feature strippers and other things that some parents might not find suitable for their youngsters. So having Bolly say “Gosh darn” or other milder forms of swearing just didn’t ring true to me. If you’re an adult think about most of your conversations. Not all of them are quite as colorful as Bollys, but how often does a four letter word drop in the middle of a sentence? It’s a fact of life today. Swear words aren’t all that shocking anymore. They’ve become part of our everyday language. You hear a lot of them on TV now.

I wanted the words the characters say to sound like the words you use with your family and friends.


 


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Getting there from here (Ayla Speaker for the Dead)

ayla speaker for the dead

There is an ending.

Ayla is created to be an ongoing serial. But I’m writing the series in stories that stand by themselves. Each story will connect to the next one, much like a novel in an adventure or mystery thriller will feed off the ones before it. So each story will have a beginning and an ending.

I know how the current storyline ends. I don’t write my plots out that far in advance. In fact I’ve been known to start a story without really knowing where I was going. For me the characters are what’s important. Not that plot and story aren’t, but if the characters don’t feel real to me, nothing in the story will work. So for this story I knew where I was starting and I know where I’m going to end up. I have one of the final lines in the story already written.

But getting there from here can be a surprise. Sometimes the characters decide to want to branch out and do things I hadn’t originally thought of. In my first draft of the start of the story Ayla walks off from page eight right into the scene on page 18. There was nothing in between there, but the more I thought about it them the other scenes occurred.

Ayla didn’t live above the strip club Big Mama’s in my first version. I’m not going to say where she lived, but I kept re-thinking my original idea and didn’t like it. In another story that never got off the ground I had the main character live above a strip club. The more I thought about it the more I liked that idea for Ayla. It also introduced me to Big Mama, who is one of Ayla’s best friends.

The scene with Little Wing was to give some background to Ayla and show that she didn’t exist in a vacuum. Also it sets us up for things to happen in the future. So by listening to some other thoughts I added another eight pages to the story and more characters.

Like I said I know where I’m going to end up, but the road might have some detours and turns I wasn’t expecting.