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RAGS: Not just another pair of pants

 

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!!

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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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Episode #30 | Success in Indie Comic Publishing with Peter Simeti

 

Wanna know what it takes to succeed in indie publishing? Wanna know how to really engage with a fan base, get their attention, and keep it? Wanna know how to come at this industry from a place of service and come out on top on the other side? This is the podcast for you.

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It’s my distinct pleasure to interview the one and only Peter Simeti of Alterna Comics. Peter is also famous for his indie horror masterpiece The Chair, which was ultimately turned into a film not too long ago. Bottom line: this guy knows indie comics and we’ve got a front row seat to his mastery.peter-simeti-interview-comixcentral

Peter and I talked about falling in and out of love with comics over the years. Getting into publishing was initially about giving his own stories a voice, but he kept coming across the tremendous talents of others and he just couldn’t keep the magic to himself. We talk about developing a genuine relationship with your followers and friends on social media. We talk about when and how to go for “the ask.” We also talk about what Peter looks for in a story so if you’re interested in pitching your work than this episode is definitely a can’t miss. Last but not least we talk about the cliches of the comic world and how to make your comic just a little different, even if you do insist on writing another superhero story.

Alterna Comics - ComixCentral Podcast

Peter Simeti has already reset the chess board of publishing by bringing back newsprint.

As a marketer and creator, you can learn a lot from Peter in terms of what it means to really disrupt an industry. This is especially inspiring for someone who was on the verge of considering bankruptcy just before having a book get on the New York Times Bestseller List in 2012. It takes a long period of dedicated hard work to build a service that stands above the rest. There’s no question that Peter Simeti is breaking through the surface and I’ve got a feeling that this is still just the beginning for Alterna Comics. We’re proud to support what he’s doing for creators and fans alike and if you want to be a game changer this is the man to emulate for now and years to come.


Website: www.alternacomics.com

Twitter(Peter): https://twitter.com/petersimeti

Twitter(Alterna): https://twitter.com/ALTERNACOMICS

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

Instagram: @alternacomics

 





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2017 Comics Of The Year Awards

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The First Annual Comics of the Year Awards – 2017 Edition

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

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

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


“Best Fantasy” 

Comic”Skylin 001: Old Remnants

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

Buy Now »

 “Best Mystery”

The White Room of the Asylum

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

Buy Now »

 “Best Action”

Smart Bomb!! Level 1-2

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

Buy Now »

  “Best Thriller”

Daughters of Knights – Chapter 1

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

Buy Now »

  “Best Superhero”

Humalien #1

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

Buy Now »

 “Best Horror

Bastard Son: Murderborn

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

Buy Now »

 “Best Sci-Fi”

Folklore Issue 1

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

Buy Now »

  “Best Mature”

Dildo Boy Origins

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

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 “Best Manga”

Samurai Shin Issue #1

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

Buy Now »

 “Best Comedy

BOB: NON-UNION PSYCHIC #0 TRUE TALENT

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

Buy Now »

  “Best LGBTQ+”

Alex Priest #1

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

Buy Now »


 “Best Story Arc”

Project Shadow Breed #1

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

Buy Now »

 “Best Series”

WOLF HANDS: Season 1

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

Buy Now »

 “Best Overall” 

RAGS: PROLOGUE

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

Buy Now »

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

You can check out all the Nominated Comics here:

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

 





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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!
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Connect with Anthony Cleveland 

Twitter  |   Website





 

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Episode #21 | Joey Oliveira

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On this weeks episode of “Adventures in Interviewing” Chris Hendricks interviews Joey Oliveira. Comic book writer, filmmaker and founder of British Comics Publishing house Afterlight Comics.

Come meet Joey Oliveira! A fascinating look what into it takes to be a Comics entrepreneur and the many lessons he’s learned along the way. Find out about his Kickstarter campaign, Comics, how to find an illustrator, the founding and running of a publishing company and so much more.
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Connect with Joey Oliveira

Twitter  |   Website





 

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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.
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Connect with Johnny Craft

Twitter  |  CXC Profile





 

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Episode #17 | Sharon Hackney

Sharon Hackney | Indie Game Developer & 3D Environmental Artist.

On this weeks episode of “Adventures in Interviewing” Chris Hendricks chats with Sharon Hackney, Indie Game Developer & 3D environmental artist extraordinaire!

Sharon shares how video games are scripted and developed. Grab some insights into this fascinating indie world!

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Connect with Sharon using the links below:




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Rick Osowski | Episode #16

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Rick Osowski | Inside the Mind of a Super Fan

On this weeks episode of “Adventures in Interviewing” Chris Hendricks goes deep into the mind of a Comicbook superfan!

Get some insight and perspective into what makes a fan, how to find your audience and how to keep your readers happy. Chris and Rick discuss what makes a story addictive, what causes a reader to lose interest and how to capture a fan for life.

It’s market research 101. Get out your notepads comic creators!

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Rick Osowksi is a self-described Computer Geek, Sports Nut, Magic: The Gathering Nerd, Solution Architect at IBM Cloud and Hobbyist-at-large. Connect with Rick and check out his Podcast using the links below:



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Champions of Hara: Chapters 1 and 2 | Comicbook Review

Champions of Hara: Chapters 1 and 2

Reviewed by Rod Jenkins


Creators: Walter Barber
Ian Vannest
Andrew Zimmerman

Writer: Walter Barber

Art, Colors, Lettering: Jason Piperberg

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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





 

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Comic Shops Open Up About How to Get Your Comics on Their Shelves

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If ever there was a field where independent creators have it rough, it’s the comic book industry.

Completing any project can be a feat in itself but with comics, you have to have it all (as in finished comic book product) and hope that you can recoup your expenses monetarily or at least in the capital of prestige/notoriety.

So, as a way to help guide indie creators to greater heights, I talked to several different comic book stores about their ordering processes, how indie books make it to their shelves, what books seem to sell and ideas on getting indie books in stores. If you don’t already, you should fully understand the juggernaut you’re up against coming out of the gates. Out of the stores contacted the majority reported their independent/non-DC/Marvel titles sales were only 5-20%. Since Image was included in these numbers (which is essentially just a smaller version of the Big Two) it’s safe to assume the percentage for non-Image independent books drops even further. Obviously, as in any competition against established products, the uphill battle is very steep indeed. But not impossible, and this is where the owners have keener sight and advice.


1. Any Insight into why certain titles seem to take off compared to other titles? What seems to misfire?

Dave Michaels of eXpertComics: “I find what works in the indies better than anything is word of mouth. If a book is not doing well, it is probably because the fans and retailers are not spreading the word in the shops and online.

Jim Drucker of NewKadia.com: “Marketers have been trying for about 150 years to figure out what products the public will grab onto. You never know.”

Benn Ray, co-owner of Atomicbooks.com: “I think some non-DC/Marvel titles fail because many are uninspired 3rd rate DC/Marvel/Image/Dark Horse wannabe books. The publishers are simply trying to create what other publishers are already doing better, maybe in the hopes of securing a job with those publishers. Some creators seem to think “indie” is simply a step up the rung. I also think many floundering indie titles could benefit from stronger editors. Overall, crappy art, lame writing, uninspired storytelling. In many cases, you can judge a bad book by its cover.”

John Robinson, co-owner of Graham Crackers Comics: “Indie titles are just like a mainstream book. It’s like Batman except his butler is a girl! Whoa. It’s like Superman only he’s kind of a jerk. It’s like Justice League only they hate each other.”


2. How does the person responsible for ordering make their specific choice of titles and the quantity they order?

Dave Michaels: We specifically have on online subscription service. I believe we order based on what is pre-ordered mostly, and secondly, we try to order based on mainstream exposure and/or ‘hype.’”

Jim Drucker: “Based on past sales of those titles.”

Ryan Liebowitz, owner of Golden Apple: “Diamond Previews is our main catalog but we also look at emails, mailings and get many calls and visits directly from creators and publishers alike. Generally, we will look at the creative team, publisher credibility, story concept and artwork to help determine ordering levels.”

Benn Ray: “I think my filter works something like this: if the book looks like a wannabe DC/Marvel superhero book, I’m not ordering it. If it’s a hokey-looking genre book, sci-fi/ fantasy, I’m not inclined to order it. If I’ve never heard of the publisher, the writer, or the artist, it’s unlikely I’m going to take a chance on that book. If the art looks poorly computer colored, computer-generated or the story concept seems hackneyed, I’m probably not going to order it. If the art looks “manga-inspired” I’m probably going to skip the book. My store focuses on alternative/underground books, so I’m more apt to carry those. If it’s a publisher I recognize as doing quality work, if the book has artists/writers I know I have an audience for, I’m more apt to carry their book. I’d rather miss an issue or two of a new comic and have customers ask me to order it than get stuck with a really crappy book that I”m embarrassed to have on my shelves that I can’t get rid of.”

John Robinson: “Managers base their ordering on their personal tastes, number of pre-orders from customers and the current amount of buzz surrounding the title.”

3. In terms of sales does anything stand out to you as remarkable from the past few years, as far as indie publishing?

Dave Michaels: “I don’t know if this counts but I would say the resurgence of Archie and the whole relaunch of the Archie line of comics shocks me. Whoever decided to reboot the line in that way is absolutely brilliant! I think the indie market should be thinking about tapping into that fan base.

Jim Drucker: “TV shows and movies and other mass media and massive social media all contribute to sales of various titles.”

Ryan Liebowitz: “Image Comics are starting to outsell Marvel and DC titles. We also have seen much success from publishers like Black Mask, Boom!, Valiant and others on select titles.”

Benn Ray: “We’ve seen a big resurgence in interest in self-published mini-comic.”

4. Any advice or suggestions as to how someone with a self-published book would best go about getting it on comic book store shelves?

Dave Michaels: “My best advice for indie creators would be to use the times and social media as much as possible. We live in a big “convention era.” Try to get booths at cons both big and small, do panels, interact with fans. Also, the internet and social media is our best tool today. Get online make Facebook pages, do the Twitter thing, get a Kickstarter going. These are the best avenues we have today. Also, go to local comic shops and ask them to put your stuff on the shelf. There are not many stores that won’t support local content. Make friends and fans and get out there!”

Jim Drucker: “ A, have a ground-breaking idea. There is no substitute for quality and originality. No amount of great marketing can sell AND maintain sales for a lousy product. B, have a strong social media presence. If young musicians can find a worldwide audience from YouTube, aspiring writers and artists and comic book creators can to with the right product. C, have the necessary capital. Starting any new business takes a great product but it is expensive. I have seen HUNDREDS of comic books that published only one issue. Many, deservedly so. But some, I thought had some potential, but for reasons unknown to me, there was never a second or third issue. My guess is that poor early sales sapped their budget. There are countless examples of products in other industries that took YEARS to catch on. If you’re on a shoestring budget, you may not stay in business long enough to catch on.”

Ryan Liebowitz: “Self-published works that are not solicited through Diamond are very difficult to get onto shelves. Their stronghold on the industry is criminal and another distributor needs to form to help all publishers get into the hands of comic book fans.”

Benn Ray: “There is no magic bullet or quick fix or trick to this.”

John Robinson: “The thing I tell anyone that is self-publishing is to take a hard look at their own buying habits. Ask yourself some questions. Do you buy Stray Bullets every month? Are you interested in Zombie Tramp? What indie titles have gotten you to buy them faithfully month after month and what was it that got you to try them? I constantly get people that buy only Marvel/DC type books doing their own self-published book and not understanding why no one buys it. Every item in the store is fighting for your attention–what’s unique about your property? Could be just great art. Could be it fills a niche that is currently not being filled in the marketplace.”


So there you have it, folks, straight from the mouths of those who know and want to see indie, self-publishers and creators succeed.

There are certainly a few key takeaways. Even if you can’t use a hot established property such as Archie, maybe try and tap into the essence of what is attracting so much attention today both in comics and Comic related TV programming. Support other indie/self-published books. Research and explore the market. Be original, don’t clone the big Marvel/DC titles. Or if you do, put a real spin on it that no one has read before. (It’s the Justice League but they’re vampire zombies!) Lastly, and most importantly, network the hell out of yourself and your book. Without that, even the greatest of indie comic books will stay undiscovered.


*A seriously big thanks to all the people and establishments that took the time to answer my questions and help propel, if even only a small amount, the world of indie and self-published comics.

NewKadia.com  |  Atomicbooks.com  |  grahamcrackers.com  |  goldenapplecomics.com expertcomics.com





 

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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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Adam Ma & Colin Tan of Random Encounter Comics | Episode #12

Episode #12 – Interview with Adam Ma & Colin Tan of Random Encounter Comics

On this episode, Chris Hendricks goes behind the scenes with the dynamic duo creating the heroic horror, Folklore.
Learn how this awesome creative team handles long-distance creation, comes up with jaw-dropping new concepts and keeps the fires burning for the passion project, Folklore.

[podbean resource=”episode=t2eig-7e9a39″ type=”audio-rectangle” height=”100″ skin=”1″ btn-skin=”108″ share=”1″ fonts=”Helvetica” auto=”0″ download=”0″ rtl=”0″]

Connect with Adam & Colin using the links below:

Adam Twitter  |   Colin Twitter   |   cxc profile: @folklore_comic   |  Folklore on Twitter


Our sweet intro/outro music is brought to you by Pleasure Pool! Thank you so much guys for letting us use your awesome tracks!

 


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The Ultimate Bromance: Craft Beer and Indie Comics

blog craft comics

How’s it hanging, my handheld hero hooligans? Today, I want to shoot the shiz about a secret bromance between locally brewed liquid courage and indie-pendent ink architects.

It’s been a well-hidden rain-bro connection since the days of the great depression, but still, you might be surprised by the twin territory hidden inside the idealism of craft beer and craft comics. Chances are, if you have the passion for one, you’ll find a love for the other. As long as you weren’t hung over during statistics class, you might remember that correlation doesn’t equal causation; try our Comix Central comparison on for size, and see if it fits. Let’s take a swig of appreciation for art and alcohol as we dare to get drunk on the similar ways both these passion projects have dared to be different.

Here are 5 “pairings” of craft beer and indie comic creativity:

1. The Boiling Process

Like any creation, both indie comics and home brew have a basic formula. However, like the code in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, the “formulae” that apply to both are “more what you call guidelines than actual rules.”

Each craft begins with certain basics. If you’re going to brew your own beer, you start by heating up water in a pot. You then put your choice of grains in a grain bag, tie it off, and let it steep. The idea behind an indie comic isn’t too far off. The thoughts burning in your head usually stew around a theme or a character. Metaphorically speaking (you know how I love those), you might consider this the basic boiling process of indie comics. The grains in a brew represent the character in a story. As these preconceived conjurings sink deeper and deeper into your mind, it’s natural for the ideas to expand beyond basic tropes and become unique. Ideas are really the catalysts in chemical reactions themselves, so you can’t allow yourself the luxury of genuine creativity unless the expansion happens first.

It’s a step-by-step magic trick, and both passions require patience. Eventually, you’ll get the combustion you need to launch the idea into a full fledged reality all your own.



2. Home Away from Home

This is really the love-meets-marriage moment for our creative couple here. Any master craftsman knows we live in an impersonal, desperate-for-banter-outside-of-“how was work” conversation. Once you get beyond the basic formula of homebrew and indie comics, you wander into the realm of personal taste. The variety of locally brewed brilliance is half the reason it’s become more of “a thing” among millennials in particular.

Indie comics possess the same flavors of what I like to call “odd familiarity.” It’s hint of something different sugared beneath a layer of comfort. Allow me to “Pavlov” the situation a bit further, and you’ll see what I mean.

The best-of-the-best uncommercialized lager whets any well-traveled man’s palate with a sense of home while at the same time taking his taste buds somewhere he’s never been. That’s a much different “feeling” than drinking, say, Milwaukee’s Best, called “The Beast” in my dorm-room days. It was five bucks for a 24-pack of sewer-rain sadness. It was also the first time I learned that just because something makes money, doesn’t mean it’s good.

Similarly, indie comics are basically invitations that allow you to be a stranger in a strange land with ease.

The basic formula is designed to intoxicate you, but the really good ones will make you wonder how you got drunk in the first place. What was it about THIS particular story that did it. Commercial drinks and commercial stories are safety blankets that trick you into talk of things seen and done before. Indie comics and local brews, on the other hand, are interesting enough on their own. You don’t need to con your mind into the conversation when you’ve got something interesting to talk about right off the bat.

3. Quality and Quantity

A lot of commercial businesses are built on quality OR quantity. Think about it for a moment. McDonald’s is a quantity company. They make cheap stuff that’s “good enough” to eventually kill people. Hopdoddy’s Burger Bar, on the other hand, uses a breed of Japanese Wagyu cattle known as Akaushi. They were brought over and bred in Texas while being protected by rangers and watched over meticulously for years. They were fed all-natural, high-quality food and treated without any chemicals or hormones. Now Hopdoddy’s is one of the top burger joints in the country and the world. Clearly, these guys are a Quality company. It’s not about high-volume manufacturing; it’s about the wow factor.

Here’s the thing, independent passions worthy of growth have no choice but to “ferment” over time. In turn, they develop an underground culture of fanatics who pride themselves on individual precision and a language of camaraderie that can get lost in the noise of commercialized endeavors. It’s sort of like smartphone zombies versus people that still have the courage to meet face-to-face. There’s a time and place for either, but independent language is something that existed before technology. A lot of corporate entities struggle with evolution. Marvel and DC are often trapped in superhero land when we now know that comics can thrive in any manner of themes and viewpoints. Budweiser seems stuck in the original idea of “the American Dream.” They exist more as a brand and less of a beer. Wicked Weed Brewing out of Asheville, NC, focuses on pushing boundaries with ingredients and recipes. Evolution is even a part of their website branding. For the record, I wrote the evolving part before I checked the Wicked Weed Brewing Company website. The beers themselves have names as alluring as their spectrum of taste. In comparison, commercialized beer just seems lazy. Craft beer and indie comics both thrive on evolution. The bottom line isn’t really quantity, and quality really depends on the individual. Collectively speaking, the goal for both practices is creativity. As a result, you get the best of both worlds, truly something savory to swallow over and over again.

4. Small Soldier Syndrome

How can you have something that’s both wildly out of control and extraordinarily specific? That’s a good question, but somehow craft beer and indie comics both pull it off. They are small soldiers in a war against the temper tantrums of the typical. Carefully created homebrew and hidden-gem comics hang out on the same dirty front lines taking heat for the same obsession. The minds and the tastebuds of the creators are bored beyond a simple trip to Beers ‘R’ Us or Marvel Unlimited. Honestly, thank goodness for boredom. It’s the light that burns on the end of our match made in heaven, and it’s the only thing that really creates artistic change without the onset of instant inspiration. Good relationships have common gravity, and our two warrior hobbies are drawn to each other because they both have to be interesting in order to survive. Indie comics can’t rely on brand alone because brands take a long time to build. Craft beer began popping up because somebody was like, “This stuff tastes like piss,” and someone else was like, “Yeah, I don’t like the taste either, even if it is sterile.”

Frustration can be tremendously effective gunpowder against the mundane canons of mediocrity.

Plus, both indie comics and indie alcohol are basically awkwardly marching to the same freedom song. Both visionaries are sick of the if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it mentality. I’m all for positivity, but it turns out that when the struggle is real, people are much more likely to come together. That’s why all good stories have problems. Drink up, friends; we’re closer than you think.

5. An Audience on the Edge

Indie comics and local brew attract the same kinds of people. Commercial audiences expect safety; our audience expects the unexpected. Commercial audiences trust a brand; our audience trusts the moment. Allow me to elaborate.

If you order a Corona with lime, there’s an expectation that you will be transported (however briefly) away from your problems and thrust onto a beach either alone or with someone who’s not your other half in real life. It’s comfortable, but also depressing. It’s also an expectation that your brain creates before you’ve even had your first sip. Therefore, when the reality doesn’t come true, you wind up disappointed.

Local brew doesn’t have the same side effect. Your mind has to create a reality around the flavor after the first cool sip hits your lips. You have to search for the various delicacies within the drink in order to discover “where you are.” That’s something that takes time. It forces you to be present and actually enjoy every drop.

In the same way, indie-comic enjoyment comes from the turn of the page. You can’t rely on heroes you’re too familiar with, so you have to lean on something you don’t see coming. It’s a little scary, but always worth the thrill. Even if you weren’t wowed, at least your eyes had to linger on the page before you made the decision. Today’s common heroes don’t require an in-depth look, so it’s easier to miss the beautiful devil in the details. For example, if you pick up a Batman comic, you expect the arc to be dark. If you pick up a Deadpool comic, you expect sarcasm. Pick up an indie comic like Errants and you expect… uh…. Post….apocalyptic….. Steampunk…. Wrench…fighting…with ghost-like stuff??? You don’t have to like what I just described, but you should at least have the guts to admit it’s interesting. All of that was strictly based on the cover. Imagine what will happen when you look inside!

Good or bad– interesting always wins.

All things said and done, we’ve really just seen the tip of the iceberg. There’s a need for familiarity that will sustain commercial art and creativity, but these familiar things will only make us ask questions to which we already know the answers. If you already know where you’re going, then are you really taking a trip worth your time? Possibly, but it’s your call. I don’t always like knowing how things are going to end, right-side-up or upside-down. I’m not sure I always like knowing where I’m headed, even if the end result is so foreign it forces me to change. Sometimes it’s good to trust that a certain feeling is going to come up and visit like an old friend, and other times it’s good to see what feelings rise up from an unknown experience. You don’t have to be a thrill-seeker to appreciate new things. You just have to be willing to exist beyond where you are. That’s really what it means to live in the first place. Whether indie comics or indie brew is anyone’s cup of firewater tea, everyone should have the backbone to admit that they are both aliens brave enough to come to earth for the sake of elevating our species beyond what is known and understood.

Cheers to you, indie-pendent pourers of passion. We salute you. Buy indie comics. Buy indie brew. Read like the wind, and please drink responsibly.





 

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CXC PodCast Episode #3 – The Doktor is in!

 INTERVIEW WITH DOKTOR GERALDO

On today’s episode Leigh Jeffery and Steven Rosia are joined by Doktor Geraldo! We meet this digital renaissance man and get the low down on Spec Ops Hobo, Dildo Boy and so much more.

So please join us as we continue to learn the craft of Podcasting and are having a blast doing it!

[podbean resource=”episode=w7ds5-7e9a43″ type=”audio-rectangle” height=”100″ skin=”1″ btn-skin=”108″ share=”1″ fonts=”Helvetica” auto=”0″ download=”0″ rtl=”0″]

Also, stick around to the end to hear Leigh mess up the first intro;P


Our sweet intro music is brought to you by Pleasure Pool! Thank you so much guys for letting us use your awesome tracks! Ps. The Doktor is also behind this amazing band!



 

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Just DO the work.

comic book motivation

A friend of mine had once told me the secret to breaking into the comics biz was to “Just DO the work.”

Without name dropping, this friend, who made quite a name for himself in the indie comics world and was becoming a success in his own right. When he gave me this seed of wisdom, it took some time for the idea to grow. Once I realized what he meant, I was at the drawing table as often as I had the time. Just creating.

I had had brushes with my dream job, make it into the comics biz as a full-time storyteller, a few times in the past. My relationships with other creators always seem to steer me further into the right direction. But somehow, fall short of the intended destination.

I pushed my submissions to many publishers over the years, nearly coming close to drawing my hero for a fledgling company. No matter how close I came to my dream, it seemed not to be. I was chasing the damned Roadrunner. It was exhausting. Coyote or not, I could not continue wasting my time and energy chasing something, seemingly, unattainable. So, what was there to do?



“Just DO the work.” His words kept pinging off the inside of my brain. What had it meant?

To me, four words never held such mysticism and mystery. Doing the work surely had meant keep submitting your work to companies. Over time, that didn’t prove true. So, there had to be another meaning. One I had to discover on my own. Just DO the work. Just create. Just write. Just draw. Just DO it. It began to sound convincing. What had I to lose?

Over the years, technology progressed, social media pages began exploding with all kinds of new apps. I began to think, Fine, If I can’t sell my art, I’ll showcase it. Somebody is bound to take notice. I took my art to Instagram and to Facebook. I stopped trying to sell myself to a faceless company whose only concerns were their bottom line and not the reader’s interest. I want to tell stories and draw them for you as I see in my head. 

Just DO the work. Let THEM decide if they like it. Get your stuff out there. Don’t be afraid of negative feedback.


 

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Motivation

comic book motivation

My mother was born in a small village in Guanajuato Mexico.

Her mother was dirt poor even by 1930’s Mexico standards, which is really saying something. Her father had died before she was born. He was trying to catch a ride on a bus. It was one of those old-fashioned buses with the standing platforms on the corners and handlebars to pull yourself up in case you were running to catch the bus before it drove away. At least that’s the vision of it in my mind. The good news was he caught the bus. The bad news was he couldn’t hold on to his grip on the handlebar. So he was buried a couple of months before he got to meet my mother.

My grandmother already had an older daughter and had no way to support them both. So she immigrated to the United States. But she couldn’t take the girls with her. It was going to be all she could do just to keep herself alive. So my mom and aunt went to live in an orphanage. Grandmother told them she’d be back to get them when she could afford to provide for them. And then she left.

I’ve heard a lot of stories about that orphanage over the years.

About how mean the nuns were. How’d they dispense beatings for trivial slights. About how hard the children had to work every day. About how they barely had anything to eat.  About how my mom had to sneak into the pantry in the middle of the night and eat raw oats because she was so hungry she couldn’t even sleep. It was many, many, many years after she left the orphanage before she could bring herself to eat a bowl of oatmeal again.

But leave she did, along with her sister. Grandmother came back. She had found a job and a home. She could provide for them again, but only in Texas. The problem was getting them across the border. So late one night she took the girls for a ride on a small handmade raft across the Rio Grande. And before she knew it, my mom was in McAllen Texas, living in the first real home she had ever had.

Over the years she watched her sister have two girls of her own and then waste away due to unchecked cancer. My aunt died a couple of years after I was born. My mother managed to have a lot more kids, though. 8 in all (I’m the youngest). She met my father in McAllen. He was a native of Illinois, having come down to Texas to start his career as a journalist. He was working at the McAllen Monitor as a cub reporter. Mom says she knew immediately that he was the one. He took a couple more jobs over the years before settling us all down in Houston, where he got a position as a reporter for the Houston Post, since closed.

We visited grandmother several times over the years in her little house in far south Texas.

She never did learn to speak  English. But she had worked her ass off for decades and paid off that house. She had her daughter, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She always seemed happy to me, even though I couldn’t communicate with her. She passed away while I was serving in the Army in  Germany. I think if I could have asked her, she would have told me she had a good life.

It’s probable that all my memories from those years played a role in my dreams one night. I woke that night to a vision of a young Hispanic woman beating the ever loving hell out of another woman. Why, I thought, am I having THIS dream? The setting of the dream looked exactly like the small towns of south Texas near the Mexico border that I had visited as a youth back in the 70’s and 80’s. But I couldn’t shake the dream. It returned several times over the years. With more characters and developing storylines. I’d be at work, completely unable to focus because I had suddenly thought of a new plot twist to the story. I’d spend all of my time on the treadmill at the gym thinking about ways to advance the story to its next logical step.

So I finally decided I had to write this book.

I thought I could be like my dad and brother. They’re natural born writers. Stories flow from their fingertips. Meanwhile, I stared blankly at the computer screen. Unable to fill a single page much less an entire chapter. The characters didn’t seem real to me if I couldn’t see them. I realized if I was ever going to make this book I was going to have to draw it out. And why not? Illustration was always my greatest talent as a child. Just because I had abandoned it as an adult didn’t mean I no longer had it. But where was I to find the time? I had a full-time job plus a family to support.

That’s when Saudi Arabia stepped in. They decided to kneecap the US oil industry by no longer artificially supporting the high cost of oil. So the oil industry crashed and my job went bye-bye. Hello free time! I spent the last 8 months of 2016 reacquainting myself with how to draw the human form and how to make comics. After a few tries, I finally finished chapter 1 and built a website to host the book online. I had finally, after 45 years, found my true calling in life.

Unfortunately, I had to go back to a regular job.

The money was drying up fast and I knew I was a long way off from making any money as a graphic novelist. So I’m back to working in the oil patch. But now, instead of spending my free time watching Houston teams lose on television, or working on odd jobs around the house, I work on my book. I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to finish these books (oh, did I mention this has turned into a trilogy?), but I know that I will do this. Like my grandmother paying off her house, it may take decades of hard work. But I think about how hard she worked over her life. And my mother too, raising so many kids mostly by herself. In three generations this family has gone from living in absolute poverty in Mexico to living a comfortable middle-class life in the suburbs of America. If I don’t finish these books, what would my grandmother and mother think of me?





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DOKTOR GERALDO

doktor geraldo

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

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

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


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

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

What made you decide to start making comics?

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

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

 

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

Where do you get your inspiration and ideas from?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What resources do you rely on to make your comics?

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

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

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

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

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

 

Who are your biggest inspirations in the comic realm?

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

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

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

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

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

Where do you hope to be in 5 years creatively?

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Now, go make some Comics!


Connect with Doktor Geraldo

comixcentral.com/vendors/doktor-geraldo-store

twitter.com/doktorgeraldo

facebook.com/doktorgeraldo

payhip.com/doktorgeraldo

instagram.com/doktorgeraldo

imgur.com/a/ErIrT

Get Spec ops Hobo


 


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RANDOM ENCOUNTER COMICS

random encounter comics

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

What kind of comics do you create?

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

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

When did you start working on Folklore?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your ultimate goal in comics?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Now go make some comics!


Connect with Adam, Colin and Random Encounter Comics!

FolkloreComic.com

twitter: @FolkloreComic

twitter: @34thGingerbread (writer)

twitter: @unartifex (illustrator)

comixcentral : Random Encounter Comics

Grab Folklore issue 1  |   Folklore issue 2





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RICKY LIMA

ricky lima

Ladies and gentlemen, ComixCentral is proud to present an Interview with the incomparable Ricky Lima!

You heard me right. The one and only. The creator of Comics like, Black Hole Hunter’s Club,  Deep Sea, Happily Ever Aftr and Co-host of Stadium Comic’s Unboxing Wednesday.



Yes. We got him! So sit back, get yourself a cold drink, a crunchy snack and read all about a young chap from Brampton Ontario, making a big splash in the indie comics world. And those who want to learn some stuff, get out your notepad. Ricky’s bringing the advice.

Hi Ricky! To start, tell us a little bit about how you first got started making comics.

RICKY: In highschool I would draw little stupid comics for people. Like real crappy stick figure stuff haha. Most of the stories revolved around how awesome I was because I guess I was a crazy narcissistic kid? But I didn’t really start making actual comics until about 2010. I started writing a comic about a circus and I had no idea what I was doing. I was writing it more like a play and figured the artist would be the one to turn it into panels and stuff. That project never really got off the ground, mainly because I had no idea what I was doing. By the end of 2012 I met David Bishop and that’s when I really started making comics. He had self-published some comics previously so he knew what he was doing, which was good for me. We released Deep Sea in October of that year and from there I just kept meeting artists and writing and working on new comics with people I met.

So what exactly made you take the plunge? Why did you decide to become a writer?

RICKY: I’ve always been telling stories no matter what I was doing. I just love storytelling!! So in high school, I took a creative writing class and had a blast with it. It was probably the first time I’ve ever enjoyed school work haha. So by the time I went to University I I was like “I’M A WRITER!!” and I walk around thinking I was cool and full of powerful insights. I wrote pretentious poetry and short stories in a small cafe on campus that had a portrait of Jackie Chan (and I think Jeff Goldbloom) on the wall. I never bought anything so the staff probably hated me! So that was me until I graduated. When you’re no longer in an environment of learning you realize real quickly that no one really cares about in-depth analysis and literary themes etc. and I started not caring about that stuff too. Eventually, I just wanted to tell bomb ass stories regardless of literary merit.

Also, eventually I realized I wasn’t very good at prose writing. I wanted to focus more on dialogue, but also didn’t want to write screenplays cause everyone was doing that. I had recently gotten back into comics around this time and I didn’t really think about it. I just started making comics!

What kind of comics do you write?

RICKY: Good comics. And weird comics… and hopefully diverse comics… and funny books.

What keeps you moving forward in your career as a creator? What keeps you from throwing the proverbial towel and do you have any advice to help others stay on track?

RICKY: I’m not sure if I do have a solid strategy for this. I think everyday I want to throw in the towel and just not do anything. But if I didn’t do anything what would I do? You know? I’m not sure I’m capable of not doing anything for an extended period of time. Maybe it’s because I’m a millennial but I need the side hustle to keep my life going. It’s kinda crappy to answer this question with a broad statement about a generation I was born into but I think as the world changes our ways of living change too. I’ve grown up with ideas that anything is possible with work, with ideas that you should do what you’re passionate about etc. It’s the only life I know I guess. So what’s stopping me from throwing in the towel? The fact that there is no towel to throw in. It’s this or nothing.

BUT it is important to refresh yourself. So take a break, chill out, don’t think about it for a bit and then come back to your work with fire… hopefully.

What advice do you wish someone gave you when you were starting out?

RICKY: I wish someone told me to take it slow. The first story I did with the circus was like this 12 issues maxi-series with a huge cast and major overarching themes and junk. It was huge! No artist wants to work on a story that so huge with a writer who doesn’t know what’s going on. Every established pro’s probably have a hard time getting artists to commit to huge series. So yeah, take it slow and build things organically. That’ll save some stress for sure.

Where do you get your ideas and inspiration from?

RICKY: I get a lot of my inspiration from really garbage entertainment. Like I’m not talking about bad B-Movies. I’m talking about things that were earnestly made but just didn’t work. That kind of stuff is pure gold because there’s always an interesting idea nugget in there but for whatever reason it’s not coming through. Maybe bad writing, bad acting/ illustrations, time restraints or whatever. So when I watch that kind of stuff I think about how I would do it and then usually ideas begin to form.

Most of the time the ideas become something vastly different than what I’m watching or reading, but it’s still there. I also like to take inspiration from things that are vastly different than what I’m making. So taking elements of theatre and seeing how they would fit into a comic. Like for instance, theatre acting has a certain cadence to it that is unique. So I try to think about that while writing out dialogue for comics. I probably sound like a crazy person, and maybe it’s not even a thing. But that’s the kind of stuff I think about. That thought exercise usually results in really cool things.

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

RICKY: Google Drive. That thing is wicked. I can store all my ideas, pictures etc and have it anywhere I go. It also saves me from buying a word processor haha.

Would you rather be attacked by one horse sized duck or 50 duck sized horses?

RICKY: I saw Alex Jones answer this question once and he said he’d fight the horse sized duck because he didn’t want to get surrounded or something like that. Alex Jones is a damn fool! 50 duck sized horses would be a breeze to stomp! Their legs are so fragile! Also I’m probably a globalist baby killer, so I don’t think Alex Jones and I see eye to eye on most things.

What does your workspace look like? We love to be invasive!

RICKY: I work at a Second Cup near my house. Houses are for living, other places are for working! But if I could have a tiny office it’d have a ton of art in it. I’ve been collecting art ever since I started comics in hopes of one day owning my own space to put them up.

One thing we love about you is your sense of humor. Is there an interesting or funny story you could share with us about your creation experience?

RICKY:I was at a con once and Jeff Lemire was there. This was just as Sweet Tooth came out so he wasn’t the mega comic star he is now. I was a huge fan of Sweet Tooth so I wanted to meet him and shake his hand and get the book signed. I came up to his table, his back was turned to me, and I stuck out my hand. He turned around and was totally startled by me haha. He was like “Oh, ah… um” and I was like “Uh, hi… can I shake your hand?” He’s a great dude and a real pro so things weren’t weird, and he signed my book and thanked me for the support but to this day my friends won’t stop bringing up the story. Over the years it’s kind of evolved into this incredibly traumatic event in Lemire’s life. The time a fan assaulted him at a con.

If you could body snatch one person for one day.. who would it be and what would you do?

RICKY: I’d body snatch you, and just do terrible, terrible things and see how you deal with the aftermath. Muahahaha.

What is your ultimate goal in comics?

RICKY:Ultimate comic goal is to be able to support myself with comics haha. Sounds lame but it’s true! If I’m able to live a life where I don’t have to worry about money and just make comics then I’m totally happy. So whether that’s on my own or with a bigger company then whatever! That being said I think doing things on my own terms as an independent creator is the most delicious way to make a living just so you don’t have to put up with other people’s crap.

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

RICKY: I’d probably have like 10 bucks. Get myself a nice coffee or something. Haha the number isn’t super high because I try to finish things I start, but sometimes factors beyond my control don’t let that happen.

How about some parting advice for all the up-and-comers out there?

RICKY: Have an online presence people!! And don’t be lame online either! I see a lot of dudes and dudettes who don’t have anything online and they’re like “why is nobody buying my stuff!?” Cause no one even knows you exist! You really need to engage people online in order for them to care. Con’s aren’t enough. And in regards to not being lame just be real. The most frustrating thing to see is someone posting a super well-crafted and articulate tweet or Facebook that took them all day to write. I’m not saying don’t be clever, don’t be witty or speak well. I’m just saying be honest. If you’re a smart person who uses the word “indubitably” on the reg. then that’s fine.

People can tell when you’re dishonest and people HATE dishonesty.


Well this has been a blast! As usual Ricky tickles the ol’ funny bone, but also doles out some great and wise advice for anyone creating comics! 

We’d like to thank Ricky for taking the time out of his busy day and shooting the breeze with us! If you’d like to learn more about Ricky’s projects, buy some of his comics or just connect, you can find all his links below.

Now get off your butt and go make some comics!


Connect with Ricky!

Instagram: @king.k.rule

Twitter: @kingkrule

comixcentral: @kingkrule





 

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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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World Building (Ayla Speaker for the Dead)

ayla speaker for the dead

There were two things driving me in the creation of this series at the start.

First, there was the title “Speaker for the Dead.” (And yes I know all about the science fiction series by Orson Scott Card, a series I once loved but would rather not get into reasons for not loving it now. This series has nothing to do with that. And the title has nothing in common with anything from that series.)

And the second, which is what we’re going to talk about a little today, is the comic series Finder by Carla Speed McNeil. This is a science fiction story that is so good I don’t even know how to describe how good it is. She creates a world that is so believable for this series that you have no trouble believing in it. For most of its history, McNeil self published the series herself in black and white. Lately, I’ve been seeing it coming from Dark Horse and one volume even appeared in color. Personally, I prefer the black and white, but I know color is going to help it sell better.

I’m not going to talk about the characters she creates for this series. How true to life they feel, but I want to talk about the world she has created. She has created a world that is believable that you feel like it’s real. A lot of science fiction stories have one point to make and most of their world revolves around that point, so while the story might be enjoyable and the characters real, the entirety of their world never quite feels real. You never completely believe in the world. You can accept it, you have to if you want to enjoy the story, but there’s always something in the back of your mind questioning the whys and hows of this world. You don’t have that in the world of Finder. I get so completely lost in her world. It is evident that she has thought this world out very carefully and built it slowly and carefully from the ground up.

I’ve been wanting to create a world like this for awhile. My world is nothing like hers and I don’t want it to be. I want a world that you can believe in. That’s what I want to take away from her. Now I’m nowhere the talent Ms. McNeil is, so I’m hoping that my world building is at least half as good as hers. Heck, I’d settle for a quarter of good.

Another series, one that is a lot newer and one that I’ve come to after my thoughts on Finder is Lazarus by Greg Rucka, Michael Lark and Eric Trautmann. I’ve been a fan of Mr. Rucka since his first days chronicling the adventures of Atticus Kodiak and truth be told always more a fan of his prose work than his comic book work. But I’ve come around to loving his comic creations just as much as the ones he does without pictures. In this series, the creators create a  world a lot closer to our timeline than the one McNeil does in Finder. But again it is a world you can believe in. He creates a history for his future world and you can understand how it got where it is at that point in time. He’s created characters that live in this world and not just inhabit it. Sometimes a character will read as if they belong to our time and culture but they are set in a future time and place that has nothing to do with our now. Like the characters in Finder the characters in Lazarus belong to their now and then.

What I hope I’ve taken from both of these fine publications is a little truth of their world building. I’m hoping that the world I create for Ayla and her friends will be believable for them and not look like I’ve just plucked characters from now into a setting that is a little different from ours. If my world rings even a tenth of true as theirs I think I will be satisfied.