Welcome to the blog series; Daddy’s Issues, from Indie comic creator, Johnny Craft. Come along chapter by chapter as this comic book writer explores the journey of expecting his first child and all the emotions and creative challenges that come along with it.
Daddy’s Issues – Chapter 2: The Pregnancy Gauntlet
After my appearance on the solidly entertaining ComixCentral Podcast, the idea was tossed around that I would host a Youtube show for them called “The Gauntlet”. It’s meant to be a “brutally honest” review show, for the books featured on ComixCentral, and I was to review them in the style I see fit. I was initially, very, very excited to take part in this project, though not thrilled with the idea of potential bridges that I may burn as a result. I had every intention of producing “The Gauntlet” regularly and hit releases like clockwork. I am normally very good at consistency, work rate, and hitting deadlines. Ever since my lovely Jovelyn Jade got pregnant, though, I have not had much time to be creative on any sort of consistent basis. It is one downside that I am realizing exists in the life of a creative person, who is expecting their first child.
I have the format for “The Gauntlet” set, pretty solidly, I just can’t seem to find the time to record my first episode. With any luck, now that we are into the second trimester, Jovelyn and I will be able to work together to find a nice balance, where I can remain creative but still be there for her in every way she needs me. The format for “The Gauntlet”, however, is intended to be split into four small segments: What is it? Why is it great? Why does it suck? Should you buy it? Since I can’t get around to recording my first episode of the ComixCentral Indie Comics Gauntlet, I thought I would devote this entry into mixing the two major things in my life right now: my life as a creator, and the anticipation of my future family. For your reading pleasure, here is The Pregnancy Gauntlet.
What is it?
The woman of my dreams, and I, are 12 weeks into expecting our first child. We go for our first ultrasound this week, where we get to see Babylove Craft (working title) for the very first time! Both of us are still learning and adjusting to our new circumstances, and things could be coming along a little smoother in that department, but all things considered, I think we are doing very well. I love Jovelyn and I love this baby, more than I ever thought I could love anyone or anything. We are having a baby and it’s going to be my greatest creation yet!
Why is it great?
What could be greater than falling in love with someone you have known for a very long time, whose personality is eerily similar to yours, who is stunningly gorgeous, and then reproducing with that person? What better scenario is there, for having a family? I have been in serious relationships, in the past, with a few different women. Women that I’ve told “I love you” to and actually thought that I meant it. However, since Jovelyn came into the picture, I realized that I have never actually been in love before her. I promise to devote an entire entry to this blog, talking exclusively about Jovelyn and I, but for now, the important information is simple. I am madly in love with this woman and if I’m having a baby with anyone, I couldn’t so much as dream of a better candidate than my lovely Jovelyn Jade Ross.
Why does it suck?
Okay… So… I should be really careful how I answer this question, right? I mean, the word “suck” should be danced around very carefully, in this context. Hormones are running wild and I don’t want Jovelyn to read this and stab me in my sleep. To start, the one thing that most definitely DOES SUCK about expecting your first child is the treatment you receive from those you interact with on a regular basis. I’ve gotten everything from people I haven’t spoken to since I was 12, contact me on social media to ask overly personal questions, to some even thinking I’ve been lying about the entire pregnancy as a way to promote my comic “SuperLove”, that I wrote as a direct inspiration from this situation! It’s very strange how involved people are becoming in my life, suddenly, and how invested they are in a child they will probably never meet.
I’ve also noticed that certain people in my life are treating me like suddenly I’ve just now become an adult. I’m 32 years old. I’ve traveled across the country and various places overseas. I’ve kicked an alcohol and semi-serious drug problem, without even a remote desire to return to that lifestyle. I’ve supported myself for a very long time, and I’ve never had to do anything desperate just to feed myself, or pay my bills. I feel like I’ve had a fairly solid adult experience, up until this point. Babylove is just the next chapter.
As far as the actual pregnancy itself… I would never say it “sucks”. I understand there are adjustments that I need to make, Jovelyn needs to make, and there will be emotional side effects on both ends. I will say, again it does not “suck”, but I certainly don’t find it… enjoyable, when I get made to feel like a total dickhead for certain things. I have a full-time job, a part-time job, and I freelance, so most of my free time needs to be devoted to someone else, in some capacity. With the hormones running high, Jovelyn tends to go for the jugular or drown me with sarcasm and mockery, when she feels like I’m not devoting enough time to her. I understand where she is coming from, and I do feel like I’m punching well above my weight class in the fatherhood department already, so those jabs certainly make me feel like shit.
A lot of my frustrations are self-imposed, and I do forget that from time to time. I chose the life of a comic book writer, and I also have an important management position for a family-owned business. I understand that my time is precious/limited/valued. I also understand that there are plenty of guys that look at pregnancy as a woman’s problem, and a lot of dudes take that selfish road and make their lady deal with most of the stress solo. That was never an option for me, though. I make it a point to go above and beyond, to try to take as much stress off the mother of my child, as humanly possible. My time NEEDS to be devoted to making sure Jovelyn and Babylove are healthy, first and foremost.
Unsolicited advice, hormonal wrath, and physical/mental exhaustion all certainly suck, but the pregnancy itself absolutely does not. Things seem to be going well for us, so far.
Should you buy it?
I think the best way to interpret this question in the context of this blog, would be to translate it to “Would I go back and change this if I could?”. If given the chance to stop Babylove from ever being conceived on that (none of your business) filled night, would I do it? Would I go back to having the freedom and extra money that I used to have, just mere months ago? Would I trade this whole thing, and what could be, for the opportunity to continue living the life of a creative savage with no one to let down?
Hell-to– the-mother– fuckin’ NO! I love this woman! I love this baby! I wouldn’t change a thing, for a thing!
I’m Johnny from ComixCentral and this has been The Pregnancy Gauntlet. Be sure to Like, Subscribe, share and join us next time, when another trimester throws down… The Pregnancy Gauntlet!
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!!
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.
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.
Competition is a beautiful thing. This is such a weird realization to hit a universal lover like myself.
As a person who does his best to appreciate as many people as possible (and fails constantly), I have realized that this truth is a fantastic relief. There’s a massive old-school misconception swimming around in the self-help ocean that is hurting people. The message that everyone can get what they desire out of life is true to a point, I guess, BUT many will not. I don’t make it my goal to hurt anyone’s feelings, but it’s not my job as an encouraging entity to present a Barney-and-Friends reality either. People will get tired. They will get weary. They will get trapped in corners by monsters that only exist in their imagination. It’s because self-help often projects an all-in, one-and-done mentality. Sure, we can talk about how people “learn from failure” and “get up and try again,” but the brain’s primary instinct is to survive. It fears actual death when the only thing really dying is perhaps the current idea of self, only to be resurrected again a moment later. We get unlimited tries until we stop breathing. My point: Life is the most important video game you’ll ever play.
The biggest identity crisis within this type of positivity is this: everyone seems to think that each person is their own celebrity. That’s not the world we live in. Pay close attention though. I’m not saying that everyone doesn’t have value or isn’t important. I’m saying people focus on a celebrity end-game rather than thinking about what they can do to provide genuine value.
Here’s another scary thought for you — I haven’t REALLY figured out how I can provide genuine value yet either, and I’m 32. I’m crazy insecure. I worry about my age and the amount of time I have to make an impact. I worry about something I just posted at least once a day. I wonder if people are actually looking at my content. I’m learning as I go. I’m overwhelmed by the internet world and the flood of information we all have access to. As I’ve said many times before, I’m incredibly human. It’s a tired truth, but a really valuable reminder nonetheless.
Despite all of those concerns, I still love being in the trenches. Why? Because “Everybody wins” is a wonderful lie. Regardless of a person’s situation or environment, the golden truth is that each person gets to define “winning” in his/her own way.
Does the fact that everyone gets to define winning means that everybody wins? Absolutely not — you still have a chance to lose. The best news you could ever get is that life is much more like a video game than a lot of people would like to admit. Unless your body gives out on you, you can always hit the reset button. Each time you hit the reset button, you get to take everything you learned from losing a life and apply it to your brand new journey. In other words, each time you “die” in this life, you come back with upgrades.
The gift of losing exists for the same reason that human beings are mortal. A part of who we are will always love the chase at certain moments. It’s human nature to desire progress. I wish everyone in the world would put a sign on their bathroom mirrors that says, “Get busy living or get busy dying.” Screw up. Fall down. Walk away. Let a business crash. Bomb in front of an intimidating audience. Have the worst day of your life. Wake up covered in mud. Realize you’re still in the game dirty as all hell, and realize that being human is the ONLY reason winning is possible in the first place.
ComixCentral COO and host of the ComixCentral Podcast – Chris has reached over 100,000 people, young and old, from all walks of life throughout the US, Canada, and Europe using his music, spoken word and personal stories of transformation.
The zombie sub-genre is a blast, but it’s a bit saturated with the “same old, same old.” How many zombie outbreak stories do we need? How many wasteland wandering zombie stories are there? …Well, how about a zombie story that deals with the end of the plague. We don’t have very many of those, do we? And that’s just ONE reason to back Zombies’ End!
“A living head in a bucket and his zombie daughter, who are said to hold the key to mankind’s survival, are transported by three brave soldiers through the apocalypse. As the head struggles to maintain sanity and focus, he realizes his disjointed visions are not entirely unreal and must convince mankind that the solution to this zombie horror will be more extraordinary than anyone imagines.”
WHAT THEY NEED :
FUNDRAISING STATUS: URGENT!!! 14 days to go and $6,000 to needed! Funds will go to production, printing, and shipping.
WHY YOU SHOULD BACK IT :
It sounds like a blast! A last stand / final mission type of story with a touch of Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia or Sin City’s The Big Fat Kill thrown in there. Give this unique zombie story a few bucks and see how the plague finally comes to an end!
New Gore Shriek issues could be on the way if this Kickstarter is successful! For those that aren’t familiar with Gore Shriek — This was one of the best horror anthologies of the 80s and featured many creators that are now huge names in the industry. A staple of this series was its no-holds-barred horror with some darkly imaginative artists.
A horror anthology that will produce three 48 page issues in 2018.
WHAT THEY NEED :
Previous Kickstarter and a demand from Gore Shriek fans led to the idea to create subscription plans and new comics. There’s about a month to go and $19,000 to get there. A highlight of this Kickstarter is in the rewards. At just $10 you receive a digital subscription to the books for 2018. That’s a steal. And the rewards only get better and better.
WHY YOU SHOULD BACK IT :
Old school horror anthologies are making a come back ( check out Creeps for example ). Gore Shriek needs to be back too! Who knows what other indie creators this book might launch or inspire!
I’m a sucker for historical stories in comics, especially when they’re stories that don’t get as much attention as they should. We Shall Fight Until We Win is a graphic novel anthology that takes a look at some historical women from the UK over that last 100 years and tells their stories “in colourful, illustrated snapshots – some stories are well known, some less so – all worthy of note. “
The anthology features stories from a few women from each decade: “From suffragettes like Emmeline Pankhurst and Sophia Duleep Singh, through the defining ‘firsts’ in politics like Nancy Astor, the first female member of Parliament, and Diane Abbott, the first black woman to hold a seat in the House of Commons, to many of the women campaigning and heading up politics today, this graphic novel brings together a mix of creators across the UK to illustrate the numerous stories from the last century.”
WHAT THEY NEED :
They’re about a month away from a goal of $11K. Funds will be going mainly to their contributors and to printing. “Both 404 Ink and BHP are publishers with numerous titles in their back catalogue and we’re comfortable with the process of creating publications and shipping worldwide between our two teams, and anticipate no problems.”
WHY YOU SHOULD BACK IT :
I’ll let them explain why-
“We wanted to create a reminder of how far women’s rights have come over a century and, conversely, where we have left to go. We’re looking back to the women who shaped our current climate or trailblazed.”
This is the perfect episode for you. We’ve got the indie Hollywood man who does it all. Kyle Hester is an actor, producer, art director and more. He’s got plenty of credits to his name and all the humility and wisdom that comes with it. He’s a spitfire king of the road mix master who knows how to handle everything from emotional transformation to social media sorcery. He’s a tremendous storyteller with humor for days, and that’s just me getting started.
Kyle and I definitely get into the nature of Hollywood hustle but Kyle’s not your run-of-the-mill camera king. He could have gone full Hollywood like some of his counterparts but he chose to keep it indie and his advice reflects a passion for new projects that deserve to be seen. Of course, we get into his upcoming films like Preacher Six and Zombie with a Shotgun, but we also got to share in the hard times that come along with running on all four cylinders for the sake of success. We talk about everything from crowdfunding to set building. We talk mentorship and creative growth. We talk about Kyle working with his wife on Preacher Six and how it came about and of course we talk about similarities between indie film and indie comics. Hey, we even talk about Peter Simeti of Alterna Comics and Kyle’s work on the film adaptation of his horror graphic novel The Chair.
Other head nods include talk around Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Team America World and our mutual respect for Naomi Grossman of American Horror Story fame. She plays The Blue Nun in Preacher Six so you definitely don’t wanna miss this. He’s the most inspiring man you’ll find in indie this side of the Netherrealm.
Do you struggle with juggling 9 to 5 obligations with your comic creativity? Are you a new writer in need of support? Are you desperate to find inspiration for the first page of your graphic novel?
Check out this new indie comic craftsman originally hailing from Haiti. Have no fear, Newton Lilavois is here! He’s also a genuine indie comic convert who started with our generic superheroes and graduated to the world of indie comics via Walking Dead. Like I always say, need an army? Zombies got yo’ back… unless they’re… hungry…
In addition to being a tremendous supporter of the indie comic movement through Kickstarter, he also happens to be a brilliant writer originally from Haiti. It doesn’t get much more topical than that and we’re grateful to have him on The Comix Central Podcast. He talks about the creative process behind Crescent City monsters. Both the story and the interview focus on the invaluable support that comes from family and what happens when it’s taken away. It’s a zombie twist with a backdrop of Haitien mythological history. Check it out or be left out.
He doesn’t shy away from his support of other indie comics. We talk Cognition, and The Werespider (a reimagining of the African folktale Anansi). He admits drawing inspiration from other mediums like television. He references the online program Master Class as initial support though he doesn’t always take their advice. Most importantly, Newton talks about the love of the process. Storytelling is a long arduous task. As we all know, it’s not for the faint of heart. Simply “liking” your story just isn’t in the cards. Love is the only way to survive in this business. Luckily, most of the time it’s contagious. As the most successful members of the nerd nation will tell you, learn by doing. I’m excited to see Newton’s story develop. Keep up with him at www.Dreamfurycomics.com and remember friends, you can’t finish what you don’t have the courage to start in the first place.
Love the stories you tell, because they’re gonna be with you for a long time. – Newton Lilavois
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.
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.
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.
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)
Episode #13 – Interview with Comicbook Creator and Illustrator Nick Johnson
On this weeks episode of “Adventures in Interviewing” Chris Hendricks gets behind-the-curtain access to illustration wizard Nick Johnson, the artist and co-creator of the comedy-horror series “Wolf Hands.” In a world overrun with social media creators are reminded that success lies hidden within the weeds of personal conversation and the belief that art is much more than ink on a page.
I know you do. Come on, all the cool kids are doing it! Come feast your eyes on our Crowdfunding roundup! We’ve got some of the best, un-cut and primo campaigns from Kickstarter. But you know, if you’re not into being awesome. We understand.
May we present the CXC Crowdfunding Bi-Monthly Roundup, September 1st, 2017 edition.
A funk-fantasy tabletop adventure with both cooperative and versus gameplay.
Champions of Hara is an adventure board game in which 2-4 players (+2 with expansion) race to protect a dying world. Players will contain destructive energy by defeating monsters, closing rifts, and exploring the six different zones within Hara. In order to rise to the challenge, players will need to unlock new abilities and collect powerful items. Each session takes approximately 30 minutes per player.
Breathtakingly beautiful! The art is what first caught our eye with this Kickstarter, but after reading more about the gameplay, characters and of course the Graphic Novel (2 issues are currently available on ComixCentral btw… cough…cough!) which runs parallel to the game, we were hooked! Get your hands on this exciting, self-described, funk fantasy! Your friends and family will thank you when you pull this beauty out on game night!
SPACE COPZ:CEREAL ZOMBIES is an all-ages comic book with cereal, brain bugs, evil spacelords and, of course, zombies!
SPACE COPZ is an all-age science fiction comic series following the journey of Sgt. Alpha Omega and his loyal sidekick Beta Boy, as they traverse outer space, saving it from great evil.
Available as a web-comic series before making it’s way into print copy. Each SPACE COPZstory will be illustrated by a different artist, making for a unique experience for all.
The issues will not be numbered but will instead be titled. This will allow more casual readers the opportunity to pick up the series wherever/whenever they wish.
FUN! That’s the word that kept popping up while we were looking into Space Copz Kickstarter. Seriously, the art looks fun, the storyline is fun, the creators look fun. I think we killed the word fun. Fuuuun. So, you want to have some fun with Zombies, puppies, cereal and spacelords? Of course you do! Come back these guys and get as much fun as humans can pack into a comic into your hands! Also, take a close look at some of the rewards this campaign is offering, some really unique options there. OK. Go have some fun!
A series of comics that will star African American men and women, along with other races considered “minorities” as lead characters.
This is the first book in a three comic series that will tell an amazing story that culminates in the joining of the characters of the 3 books in one grand quest against an invincible foe.
If you haven’t watched the trailer to this campaign, go back and watch it all the way through. Guys, great message, great idea, great comics! We love this project. Let’s help Eric bring these amazing characters to life so kids of every color can see themselves in their heroes! By the way, if you pledge fast enough, you can get your own character in the first issue! Yup, get out your wallets and pledge to a great project! Not to mention, the art looks badass, and you know you want to add it to your collection;)
On the verge of creating an awesome, 64 page comic book hardcover, featuring the Urizen universe.
Urizen is a mesmerizing, compelling, tragic, fun and epic adventure revolving around a medieval, sci-fi world with the same name. In it my good friend Derek Thomas and I tell the story of a great race living at the cold ends of Urizen known as the Ademinians, led by their strong and noble ruler, Draconan and his queen of beauty and magic Arguine. It has been told that a great light will fall from the sky and it is then that a great reign of nobility, and strength will come in the form of an egg, soon to give life to the one to be named Draconan King of Starlight and Might. Soon he would grow alongside the young Arguine, and together they would join to form the Kingdom of the Cold, Ademynia.
So we’re going to admit the art grabbed us by the collar and slapped us around a few times with this campaign. Pinto has found an amazing artist is Fachrul Reza, and it seems that this group of creators is destined to create some mind blowing comics and take the indie world by storm. Pledging support to this project is a no brainer! Show these guys some love and be part of bringing this jaw dropping universe to life. Not to mention with a $100 pledge.. they’ll put YOU on your own cover, how cool is that?!
Episode #10 – Interview with 2000 Ad Creator, Pat Mills
On this episode, CXC’s Jamie Norman sits down with the Godfather of British Comics himself, Pat Mills!
British comics writer and editor who, along with John Wagner, revitalised British boys comics in the 1970s, and has remained a leading light in British comics ever since. His comics are notable for their violence and anti-authoritarianism and he is best known for creating 2000 AD and playing a major part in the development of Judge Dredd.
CXC – Hello Magician’s House! We are so excited to have thisopportunity to get to know you a little better. We’ve been big fans of your work around here for some time! Thank you so much for joining us today.
MH – I’m super stoked to get to talk to you guys and gush about what an important platform ComixCentral actually is.I don’t know of anywhere else that actually gets indie comics the way that you guys do.
You’re 100% about the freedoms of the creators, you bend over backward to support what they’re doing and you have categorically come down harshly against all manner of censorship issues which have cropped up since you’ve opened your doors.
ComixCentral has really shown me everything that I need to see in order to recommend them to people who might be unsure about where to shop their product.At a different time it may have been Kitchen Sink Press, Fantagraphics Books or something like that, but now, in this age, I have no doubt that the place to be is ComixCentral.
Since you guys came along, it’s like indie publishing excuses don’t exist anymore.You’ve thrown down the gauntlet and said, “Oh you have an idea that you want to express in comic book form but it doesn’t fit the mainstream market?It’s too rough, too short, too experimental, too controversial?Well, we’ve got you.”You’ve put the all-talk people on notice. It’s sort of like, “Ok big girl who says she’s out to make comics… now what’s your excuse?”
But those excuses, they’re plentiful, aren’t they?“Oh, I want to succeed at comics but something’s stopping me; my finances aren’t straight, I have family duties which eat into my creative time, I don’t want to work at it too much and neglect my self-care.”Dude, if you’re an artist, making art is the only self-care. It should tear you down.Art should destroy you.Every time you approach a page you should be a bomb exploding. Afterward, worry about picking up whatever’s left of you from the floor and reshaping it up to do it again.
CXC – So you don’t have much patience for those not taking their own destiny in their hands it seems.
MH – Yeah, a theme comes up immediately with me that I completely dismiss complainers and excuse-makers.If you’re not willing to literally give your soul for whatever it is that you’re after then we’ve got nothing to talk about.We’re operating on different levels.I came into comics from a delinquency background so my frame of reference for artists was skewed toward the self destructive edge of the spectrum.It was amazing to find out just how soft the people in comics actually were.Doughy tykes who wouldn’t last five minutes in a real world situation building stories off some TV that they’ve seen and still complaining about the process and their personal despondencies.Meanwhile I’m looking at them like, “Are you for real?”If your dream is to make comics and you’re finding excuses why you can’t squiggle lines down on paper, go ahead and freaking kill yourself.Life isn’t going to get any easier for you at this point.I mean, I never find reasons to quit.I never have things about which to complain.I only find more and more motivation to push harder and burn hotter.I just want to crush my enemies, humiliate my critics and die on my feet while moving forward.
CXC – Do you feel like that point of view separates you from the “Comicbook” crowd?
Now, haha yeah, I feel like that alienates me from the herd, certainly.When you add on that I’m not big into fandom, I hate manga, never seen Star Wars, have no clue about video games or Dungeons & Dragons… it all starts to add up that a big chunk of the standard experience is going to zoom past me, you know?That’s just the palette I’ve been dealt.All those aspects of comics just get lost on me but there is something else at work in them which I’m very much interested in exploiting.It’s the subliminal danger that they pose.
Comics used to be a dirty word.Comics were smut.They were at the very least a brush with some subversively-motivated minds. They were hurried, and in that quickness the damaged brains of the creative team shown through the cracks.Like a game where you blurt out the first thing on your mind and you’re horrified at what you unconsciously said.That’s comics for me.And for others, too.Game recognizes game.
Take Doktor Geraldo.You talk to that guy for five minutes and you realize that he’s a madman.You’ve met this guy, he’s a menace, isn’t he?His every idea is so loaded in ways that will completely unbalance you.He let me creep up into his world for a minute and he told me that he liked my drawings a little bit. Well I, naturally, was crazy about his throwback unidentifiable concepts and writing.He offered that we should collaborate on a completely original concept at some point and I agreed but my drawing schedule was slammed for the foreseeable future.He didn’t skip a beat.He said, “Ok then I’ll draw it and you write it”.
This is the world in which Geraldo lives, haha.I’d never written anything so he had nothing on which to base this gamble.He’s well known to illustrate in a very primitive artistic style, so this whole suicidal concept was simply going to be an exercise at baring our necks to the critics.Each of us taking the things at which we excel and instead doing the opposite.It was a jarringly original proposition.He had no idea what kind of story I’d be asking him to illustrate.He’s a guy who dives in first and looks for water on the way down.It certainly got my attention, so I messaged him back immediately.
Let Geraldo’s enthusiasm be known.No roadblock can be built which will hold this guy back.Never is he anything other than exuberant about the potential of comics.Here I was intentionally making the story as self-damning and radioactive as I could conceive.And yet he had no problems with the two of us using our weakest skills to create the unsaleable.
CXC – What do you mean by unsaleable?
MH- Unsaleable because the comics community is famously strident in that they take themselves far too seriously.They love to climb up onto their cross and yell out to the crowd about how they’ve been given such a raw deal.Victimhood is very much the fashion of the day.It might be completely lost on them that Kirby obviously occupies a great deal of my constant brain power if his 100th birthday was something rolling around in my head back in March.I knew to count on the predictable reactionary tantrum for a besmirching title like Fuck Kirby piggybacking the occasion, no matter its content.
I told Geraldo that nobody was going to publish this.Nobody was going to get near it for fear of the galled backlash from all the shriekers who themselves only know that it’s Kirby’s birthday because Marvel told them a day before in order to sell them their own comic books. So props to ComixCentral, again. We did Fuck Kirby before we did DildoBoy Origins so I wasn’t yet convinced at just how truly committed you guys were to staying consistent on your position that everyone must retain the power to sink or swim under their own merit.Personally, if I could turn this interview around on you for a minute, I’d love to know how this concept of creative freedom became so important to you in the first place such that you’d take it to extremes like this to stay in step.
CXC – Haha! Yes. We believe strongly in freedom of expression and have put our “money where our mouths are” so to speak. If you’re going to stand on a soap box and take a stand for free speech, you better be willing to back that up with action. We are very proud of our no-censorship stance.. which is probably why we love your work so much!
Like I said, game recognizes game.I’m always here to sing you guy’s praises not because of things that you’ve said but rather the things that you’ve done. I regret that I’ve had to turn down a few of your creator spotlight segments but I got banned from Facebook and couldn’t participate.That’s one of the reasons I ended up launching my own website.It became apparent to me that if I was going to continue popping off with inflammatory views then I was going to need a place where they couldn’t throw me out.“Comix Voodoo Hayride” is now my own little corner of the universe where I get to talk to whomever I want and say whatever I think.I like highlighting the extreme personalities, whether or not I agree with them.I’m drawn to bad apples.I gravitate to the self taught and the self made.I don’t care if you’re a good witch or a bad witch just so long as you’re indomitable.It’s just the taste I developed due to my background.
CXC – Now that you bring it up, would you mind telling us a bit of your origin story? We’ve heard from Doktor Geraldo it’s very unique.
MH – I haven’t clued you into any of that yet, have I?Well, let me give you the nickel tour of the last thirty years.
My mom was a runaway rambunctious beauty queen, my father a convicted mad bomber who’s doing life without parole.Growing up I was familiar with comics but they weren’t the center of my world, magic was.When my mother remarried an African Obeah man it gave me pretty much the keys to the kingdom; anything I wanted to know, I had access.
I was painting a lot of freight trains at the time and eventually started riding them.One day I just never rode back.I was fourteen.
If you’ve never ridden a freight train before, they’re sooty and everything about them is designed, from what I can tell, to hurt you.And they’re loud.So loud that conversation is useless and you’re left to your own interpretations of what the hand-etched symbols on the interior of all the cars mean.The symbols were always there.You could see them in the dark.I could see them with my eyes closed.With my background I was quick to assume them to be an unknown magic inscription and I fancied the trains were crisscrossing America, clandestinely feeding the country like a circulatory system with these sigils.They influenced me to no end.A whole lot later I found out that they were what people call Hobo Signs.
I met other kids painting trains.I’d stay at their houses.If they were into comics I would eat up their collection but the issues were always fragmented, diverse and sporadic, like channel surfing.I found work in haunted houses, that led to some modeling, I worked a cash register at an all-night sex store.Comics were germinating in my head all this time but I had far too much ground yet to cover.Too many walls to bomb.I got locked up a lot.And I escaped a lot.I cut off every ankle monitor ever put on me, got back up on my feet and hit the road again.
I was eventually institutionalized and finally remanded to some unknown extended family deep, deep in an undeveloped swallowing forest in Georgia.It was like no place I’d hitherto been.It was a real detour for me.I found out that my grandfather had been this legendary Hitori Hanzo type character; a mountain man living in cryptic hermitage while hand-forging these widely-sought blades with components he gathered from the forest, skeletons and antlers.
Having nothing to paint on and nothing to paint with while being isolated in the forest really dialed me into the history of the soil. Haha, the frequency of all those ghosts in the ground.So I started drawing and found that comics were calling distantly to me out there from the future like a time-traveling dog whistle.Now I’ve been drawing for three years.
CXC – Wow. Just wow is all we can say! You really must write an autobiography at some point!
Now, you say you’ve been drawing comics for 3 years. Can you tell us a bit about some of the projects you’ve worked on?
MH – I’ve gotten to work on a lot of books that you can conveniently find right here on ComixCentral like Project Shadow Breed and Dildo Boy Origins.You can catch me at magicianshouse.com which I update several times a week.I would invite you to see the pernicious ten page mini-comic Fuck Kirby for yourself and stamp your size eight shoes around angrily if need be.
CXC – Wonderful. Thank you so much for this candid and fascinating look into your work and the woman behind the art! We’ve enjoyed your story immensely and look forward to all your future endeavors. We have a feeling you’re going to be making some huge splashes and waves in the coming years!
Alright, it’s been great talking to you and we’ll do it again soon.
And with that, we’d like to thank Magician’s House again for joining us. You can find out more on her website, connect through twitter or right here on ComixCentral.
Summary: Follow the exploits of a cocky young hoodlum, “Pinky” Horwitz, as he navigates race, nightlife and a shaky criminal career in 1928 New York City!
When ComiXCentral sent this my way and I saw the title, I legit thought this was a continuation of the ‘Pinky’s’ films. As we seriously need a comic of them movies! Naturally, I ended up being wrong on that count but I found myself not being too disappointed by that. And come on! Who doesn’t love a comic set in gangster eras like the 20’s and higher? Crazy people, that’s who!
Craig Johnson III certainly does a great job in capturing the era he’s writing in and I can only imagine how much time he spent to research in order to make it look like a genuine 20’s era story. Although, judging by a few unnecessary spaces in certain areas, it does seem like he could use an editor to prevent that kind of thing from happening in the future. Now, because of the setting here, you may not want to read this if you’re easily triggered by the social norms this comic clearly has. I like how Craig uses only a few colors for his art in this. Making it easy in its own way to tell who is who as otherwise it might be somewhat difficult to tell who anyone is if it was only done in black and white.
Pinky himself, while a gangster, is definitely the type who loves to party it up and doesn’t care who it is he’s partying with. And I can only imagine that doesn’t settle well with some considering the time period and all. Gotta wonder how much of his personality comes from his ma? As she seems quite the character herself and I kinda wouldn’t mind seeing more of her! And considering a few of Pinky’s actions, I can see why she’s worried about losing her boy.
I will say you’ll want to read and check out each face carefully as you might get confused at certain points. As Pinky and Sam kinda look alike at one point and when we get a scene shift from the past and back to the present, we get no warning and it’s a little jarring at first. Trouble is definitely a brewin’ in all corners as we get to the last page of this first issue and it seems like Pinky is definitely at the center of it all in one way or another.
How this will all play out is anyone’s guess aside from Craig’s and I can’t wait to see how it all goes down. Especially a certain view of Lump’s about Pinky that will probably come back to bite him in the butt!
So if Gangster era comics is your jam, don’t sleep on this one!
Editor’s Note: Both Print and Digital versions of ‘The Legend of Pinky’ can be found right here!
Many of us who read comics would love to write them.
We’ve studied the art of them for years, perhaps decades, and often assure ourselves, if, given the chance, we could create something kickass. Still, there are some things you need to know before embarking upon this path of comic greatness. Having a story is definitely part of it but there’s much more involved than that. In fact, having a manuscript of a finished comic, completed even, won’t be enough to even get your submission looked at by most publishers, if not all. So, to help navigate these troublesome waters I contacted David Pepose, writer, and creator of the new critically acclaimed Spencer & Locke series published by Action Lab comics. Pepose spent several years writing and immersed in the culture of comics, working both at DC Comics and Newsarama before landing his gig as an official, badge-toting member of the highly selective Comic Book Writers Club. (Which isn’t really a thing but sounds pretty cool so maybe it should be.) And while Pepose had plenty of sage tips and advice to offer, there’s one he proposes as the most important. “At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how well you write, although that’s important, it’s all about relationships. It’s about reaching out to people and making that human connection.” ‘Nuff said, right?
1. Study the structure.
Comic books are infamous for having insane plots but unlike other mediums they generally all have the same basic structure to them; 20-22 pages of words and pictures, text boxes, dialogue balloons, etc. Pepose spent a lot of time with the format writing reviews for comic sites like Newsarama, where he spent the better part of eight years before embarking on Spencer & Locke “writing reviews and breaking down the stories every single day.” Even a long-time comic fan can have trouble navigating the confinement of a comic book; having exactly the same amount of room to tell a particular slice of a larger story, being able to choose only the material that is relevant and moves the story. You don’t have to write reviews for eight years but you do need a solid grasp on the basic mechanics of comic book style story-telling. Publishers and the titles they publish follow, essentially, the same format. Of course, that shouldn’t discourage creativity within the form but this is one instance where you really do have to know the rules before you can break them.
2. Have your entire story completed before reaching out to artists.
At some point, you’re going to have to start lining up an art team. And when you do, you need to have your act together, Bub. Whether they’re working pro bono or you’re paying them a rate, illustrators (and inkers and colorists and letterers) probably have better things to do than waiting for the possibility of work from someone who hasn’t gotten past the initial concept of their comic book idea. With his own series, Pepose waited until he knew exactly where he was taking Spencer & Locke. “I didn’t approach an artist until I had a script and a treatment for all the issues already done,” Pepose recounts, then adds, “I can’t just expect somebody to take a leap of faith on my story.” As the writer and the creative force behind the comic, you’re the leader. And no one wants to follow the lead of someone who doesn’t know where they’re going.
3. Don’t worry about writing in order.
Pepose always keeps Joss Whedon’s sage advice in mind when writing: “Nobody said you can’t have dessert first.” In the course of plotting out your comic’s story, there will certainly be moments and scenes that stand out more than others, ones you’re dying to get out. So, if you’ve hit a wall in your writing, skip ahead to those scenes and write those. That’s exactly what Pepose did. He knew from the very beginning that he wanted a car chase in Spencer & Locke which was one the very first things he wrote. And while writing out of order isn’t for everyone it can definitely help to spur creative momentum if you feel yourself floundering.
4. Finding an artist/art team is the hardest and most crucial part.
Comic books without art would just be short plays so it should go without saying that you can’t get a comic book published without it. Unlike most other writing outlets publishers, from behemoths Marvel and DC to indies such as Spencer & Locke’s Action Labs will accept submissions only as a finished/semi-finished product. “All you need is six pages and a cover,” according to Pepose, but that finished six pages and a cover is harder work than you might imagine. You’re going to need someone for the pencils. An inker. (Pepose suggestion, as difficult as it may be: to find a penciller that can ink.) You’re going to need a colorist, unless you’re going for a black and white aesthetic, although there’s a reason the overwhelming majority of comic books are in color. Oh, yeah, you’re going to need someone to do the lettering. To cut some expenses and time looking for your perfect band of merry comic creators, Pepose advocates learning some things yourself. Online classes, YouTube videos, etc. If nothing else, Pepose says, it will help you better communicate with your art team if you understand some basics behind the elements of creating the finished comic.
5. Be prepared to spend some money.
It’s very possible to assemble an art team that will work for future fortune and glory, or at least a penciller, but it’s more common to pay upfront costs to illustrators, inkers and letterers. Which is fair. It’s work being done with no concrete promise of that future fortune and glory. But even if you do somehow manage to enlist a dedicated, completely pro bono art team, you’re still going to have to spring for submission copies. And while there are publishers who accept online submissions, we still live in a comic book world where paper is still king. It’s something very unique to comics; that relationship the reader has with the physical book, and prospective publishers are no different.
6. Comics are best when stories and characters are relatable.
Marvel comics took off in a big way when Stan “The Man” Lee and Jack “The King” Kirby began introducing characters much more akin to the true nature of our human psyche. The Fantastic Four was a family who bickered but still loved each other; Spider-Man was a shy, bullied high schooler who had failed to use his great powers responsibly and inadvertently got his uncle killed; the X-Men were mutant freaks shunned by the rest of the world. Take away the optic eye blasts, telekinesis, and web-shooters and you’ve got a mess of humanity that anyone can relate to at some point in their lives, and that holds as true today as ever.
7. Keep your stories small.
In a world of cosmic distances spanning unfathomable light-years and men and women who can fly around the world in minutes, this rule seems counterintuitive. Why not go all out? Pepose advises against this, at least for newcomers. “Don’t try and convince people you can run a marathon when no one’s even seen you walk,” warns Pepose. Spencer & Locke revolves around a detective and his partner, a stuffed, one eyed panther and is proof you don’t have to confine yourself to average every day subjects for a powerful, focused story. But he keeps the cast small, the story streamlined. That’s the walk before the run. A sprawling space opera featuring dozens of characters and locations are the bread and butter of many publishers, but when you’re trying to break in you should be able to elevator pitch the summation of your story, Pepose says. Publishers want to see how well you can handle something small before giving you a 24 issue deal.”
8. Finish It!
Repeat after Pepose: “Finish it!” No, really. Finish it. It’s the only way you’re going to see your name in the funny pages.
Connect with David and Buy Spencer & Locke at the links below:
Episode #8 – up close and personal with Nick Gonzo
On this episode, Leigh Jeffery interviews Nick Gonzo, the dynamic and wildly talented creator behind 50 Signal, Funk Soul Samuari and most recently, Corsair! Also the co-founder of Madius Comics and one of the most silver tongued story tellers we’ve host on the ComixCentral podcast. Get ready for a fascinating, charming and sometimes bone chilling good time with Nick Gonzo.
It’s a veritable garden of Eden of Indie Comics Kickstarters right now! We are truly seeing something special happening in the indie world. As more and more incredible Comicbook creators find their voice and pencils, we the fans of indie Comics are enjoying a glut of fabulous, unique and stunningly beautiful Comics to choose from. I tried to be cute with my words this week, but the quality of the Comics I found simply took all the silly words out of my mouth. Enjoy.
With that, may we present the CXC Crowdfunding Bi-Monthly Roundup, August 15, 2017 edition.
First issue of a beautifully illustrated four issue comic book miniseries.
“Princess Zara wants a baby dragon. She finds a robot named Wheeler. Together, they must stop a robot army.”
A fun, action-packed, pop-culture mash up of fairy tale princesses and giant robot anime, ROBOTS VS PRINCESSES is a delightful, all-ages adventure sure to please anyone from age 6 to 76.
ROBOTS VS PRINCESSES is a story about courage, friendship, and accepting others that is appropriate for young readers without talking down to them.
Download a preview here and check out some art below.
Man I loved the trailer for this one. The epic battle between Princesses and Robots! Who will win? I guess you’ll have to support this Kickstarter to find out! (Our money is on Robots. They don’t have any of that pesky empathy to get in the way;) Let’s make it happen people!
Help fund indie sci-fi HORRORS,INC: SQUAD K, a dark yet humorous comic about a squad of mercs hunting monsters for a mega-corporation.
Imagine that every myth, ghost story, and monster were based on something that existed in the modern world. Magic was real. Strange artifacts that can perform miraculous events, including connecting our world to others and the gods that inhabit them, can be found. Or created.
This is the world of Horrors, Inc.
Some dark, creepy fun is waiting for those who pledge support to Horrors, Inc! Pretty sure this story would have Shaggy and Scooby running for cover, the trailer alone gave me the creepy-crawlies! Come back an amazing creative project, get the comic and some sweet add-ons are available too!
Corsair is an episodic Horror comic, part detective tale, part Ghost story, that focuses on the dark side of English Folk history.
Agent Corsair is part of The Order, an ancient fellowship that’s been maintaining the relationship between the two sides of England; The modern world, and the ancient things that live in the shadows.
Assigned by his superiors to a low level missing persons case, Corsair is set to track down a local business man who has been trying his hand at black magic. As he works the case more questions surface, and Corsair is forced to question his place in an increasingly modern world, because as well as having to live through ghosts and flesh eating horrors he has to survive the modernisation and monetisation of his ancient organisation. Expect noir styled mystery, hideous monsters, ancient evil, and a different twist on a haunted house.
Did it just get awesome in here? The answer is yes. This AMAZING creative team, headed up by writer Nick Gonzo, has brought the world an instant classic. With a dark and compelling storyline, rugged handsome detective, ghosts, evil and, oh dear god… modernisation! Corsair is sure to have you glued to the pages and begging for more. Come throw some money at Madius Comics, support indie creators and get your entertainment on!
Ninjas and Robots is a shonen styled Action/Adventure Indie Comic full of mystery, martial arts, and magic. And there’s a talking cat.
Ninjas and Robots tells the Story of Yuki, a Super Ninja, who has lost her memory and does not know the Power she already has within her. In order for her to regain her memory, unlock her potential, and escape ROBOT ISLAND she is going to need some help from her ninja friends. She is also going to have to fight a lot of Robots!!
This Graphic Novel is an introduction into the World Of Ninjas and Robots (WONAR). This is only the beginning.
Ninjas… Robots. There is nothing else to say is there? Come on guys, the art! Oh god.. the art! Support this great creator, Erik Klaus, get the comic, get some stickers, get a shirt! Also, there’s a talking cat.
In this Guest post Gamal Hennessey shares his insights into the things you’ll need to consider to protect yourself when creating comics. For a more detailed look at this either head to Gamal’s own page or listen to him talk to the ComixCentral team on this podcast
The business of storytelling is evolving to take advantage of new technology and business models. It’s creating new opportunities to get stories in front of people by breaking down the old barriers to entry. Self-publishing and independent projects are growing at a record pace, thanks to digital distribution and micro niche marketing.
Creators are now in a better position to publish books on their own without traditional publishing houses to act as gate keepers. Some artists are releasing their own comics to build their reputation in the industry and break into the mainstream. Some writers are self-publishing their books to retain more profit and control. But with great power comes great responsibility (sorry, that was too tempting to leave out).
Artists and writers who used to be forced to sign a publisher’s work for hire agreement are now in a position where they need their own work for hire contracts to protect their rights. But what are the key elements that need to be in this kind of contract? How can you protect yourself in both the short term and the long haul? How can you be the type of creator other artists want to work with? When artists hire artists, they need to take care of their world, their defenses and their reputation.
When you create a story, you have the power to define what happens. When you have your own creative project, you have the power to define your relationship with your artists. The three key factors you need to deal with are:
Defining the project:
Spell out in as much detail as you can what the artist is working on, what kind of work they’ll be doing, when the work is due and how much they’re going to get paid.
Owning the Services:
Make it clear that your relationship with the artist is a work for hire. This means they aren’t going to have any ownership or control over the property itself or the underlying characters or stories they’re going to be working on.
Own the use and distribution:
Reserve the right to use any work the artist does for you in any and every way you can think of. You might only be planning to do a web comic now, but you don’t want to limit your options to do a deal with Netflix or whatever the next hot media turns out to be
Producing your own book opens you up to a certain amount of risk. You could pay for work and never get the finished product. Your artist could deliver artwork done by someone else. There are all sorts of pitfalls in publishing, but certain terms in the contract can help protect you from trouble.
If you tie payment to delivery of work, you are more likely to get the services you commissioned.
Representations and Warranties:
If your artist makes promises to protect you and your work, they’re less likely to screw you over because they’ve been put on notice
If they do break their promises to you, an indemnity (just a fancy word for repayment) gives you the ability to resolve your dispute in a court (which is one place artists don’t want to go).
These protections are not perfect. People breach contracts all the time. But when all the terms and conditions are spelled out, people are more inclined to see you as a professional and treat you in a professional way.
Clear and consistent contract terms will remove most of the confusion and doubt that comes with making a business deal. As more and more people do business with you and get exposure to your business practices, the better your reputation will be in the industry. The creative world of books and comics is a small one if you stay in the game for a while. A professional reputation as both an artist and a publisher can be just as critical to your long term success as your ability to write or draw.
Independent creators need to tailor each work for hire contract to fit each new creative project. Larger publishers work better with form agreements and economies of scale, but until your publishing evolves into that level, a custom agreement is probably your best bet.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE.
IF YOU HAVE A LICENSEING OR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ISSUE, DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR LEGAL ADVISOR OR CONTACT C3 AT email@example.com FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.
Originally intended to be a mini-sode, this week Chris Hendricks and Leigh Jeffery have a little chat about making comics, how much Chris hates expositional dialogue, what expositional dialogue is, taste in comic art and we even venture into the digital vs traditional art argument.
Also, just a little apology. Leigh has terrible allergies and she coughs a lot through this. Geeesh.. Leigh! She does however insist she was muting herself before she coughs, but it didn’t work;P
From an early age, I was exposed to the negative effects of being an artist. I’ll explain.
Most every artist (be it Illustrated, digital, paints, etc.) has been subject to psychological evaluation through their art. This is usually done by anyone who views their art. From the earliest caveman all the way up to present day artists. Art has always been up for interpretation, much that same as the written works of those who contribute to society as civil servants, psychologists, theologians, whathaveyou. There is the problem of judging the artist by his art. The worst culprits of this activity are usually parents, psychologists and art critics. This is to be expected.
My father was my worst critic. Going so far as to admit me to therapy at the age of 13, Puberty-Age, with some of my art as the reason behind the visits. He believed that a few pieces of art, and some erratic behavior of a budding young man, were cause for concern. After several visits for therapy, and a prescription for ADHD meds, I was “better”. The only thing that made it seem as if I were better was the fact that I stopped making art that could be seen as psychotic, or otherwise questionable to the morals of my family’s household. So, a lot of misunderstanding took place between myself and my old man. What were these images that landed me on the therapist’s couch? Mock-up covers for a horror book I was writing, pseudo-posters for “Child’s Play” movies, and a few Beavis and Butthead images with them dressed as Wolverine and Cyclops.
Can I blame him for seeing things that weren’t there? As a 37 year old father myself, probably not. I’m constantly worried about what my son and my twin daughters are posting on Instagram, but tend not to overthink their intentions. My behavior towards my own children was directly influenced by the negativity of my own upbringing. I tend to let them rant and vent and share things, as I see it as important to let them get it out in the open. So, in that respect, I understand what my own father was going through with me. As I said, my father was my worst critic. He was my naysayer. I think he understood that I wanted to be an artist, but misunderstood where I wanted my art to go; Comics. He would constantly tell me that computers were the way to go, as more and more films and other media seemed to migrate with the technology. He hardly understood my intentions, and would become increasingly more vocal about not drawing. I sometimes find myself questioning his motives as a father to not support his son’s wishes and dreams. It seems that I was not allowed to draw anything, as it was a “waste of time” when hand-drawn media seemed to be disappearing. It was like a constant redirect.
My own father would not be alone in trying to dissuade me from chasing my dream of being a comics artist. My first wife was the same way. But from a completely selfish direction. Much as I hate to talk about my ex-wife, I feel it’s relevant. I was a young father, then, and adult responsibilities had to take priority. That’s only natural. But it seemed that she, like my father, saw drawing as a waste of time. Chasing a dream like that will only lead to failure. She and my father would not be the only naysayers in my lifelong dream of pursuing a career in comics. But they are the closest examples of those whom you trust to back you up, fall short and try to shut it down. A dream can fade if the support factor is absent.
Despite my naysayers, close relatives or otherwise, I was determined to make my dreams come true. Eventually, I would distance myself from those naysayers, either through divorce or outright choosing to not be around them. My point is, Fuck those naysayers. DO NOT let someone, who knows nothing of your struggle, try to make your dream seem less important. My own trust in family has been damaged for many years, so this isn’t advice on how to deal with YOUR naysayers. I have since found my family in the friends I keep close to me. Those who support my dream, and try to do anything to help me achieve it.
Surround yourself with supportive people, be it family, friends, your dog, your cat, your pet snake, or even the smelly guy on the bench who drunkily says “Go for it.”Draw
Draw everyday. Practice those challenging areas that give you trouble. Don’t stop drawing, writing, painting, whatever your passion. Don’t give up because it’s a waste of someone ELSE’s time. You have a gift for a reason. A “Super-Power”, and to some, it is a perceived ability that not everyone possesses.
Part 1 of Our Ongoing Series – Marketing Your Comics / Simple, Straightforward Advice for Self Promoting Your Comics & Art.
Today Leigh Jeffery is joined by expert Marketers Kirsten Nelson and Jamie Moran to discuss how to start marketing your comics in a noisy and uninterested world. We also poke fun at how Kristen pronounces Origin 😛 Sorry Kirsten! We love you! <3
Today Leigh Jeffery interviews lead writer and creator of the Project Shadow Breed universe Justin Bartz! Find out how Justin got into creating comics, how he and the Project Shadow Breed team are creating their own Comic universe, and also a little bit about his extra curricular activities… cough cough.. he’s a pretty tough dude:D
On today’s episode Leigh Jeffery, Steven Rosia and Jamie Norman are joined by Attorney Gamal Hennessy of Creative Contract Consulting.
Gamal shares his vast experience in navigating the legal ins and outs of the creative world, gives some free legal advice for Comic creators and tells us about the book he is currently writing to walk creatives through contracts, licensing and protecting their creations.
If you create Comics, books or artwork of any kind, this episode is a must listen! Don’t be the spectator while someone else takes your creative vision and executes it, leaving you in the dust with nothing to show but bitter tears. Let Gamal help you protect your dreams! We are so grateful for the lessons we learnt in this episode and we know you will be too!
Trick or treat, indie idolaters. No, it isn’t Halloween, but it might as well be. You know how I get truly, madly, deeply giddy over spooky, ghastly, creepy storytelling. Now that I’ve reminded you of my bias, we can begin.
I don’t know if I would really call my loveable lament a review as much as the electronically written equivalent of my joygasm. That last word is in the urban dictionary, by the way. Don’t like it? Don’t read my stuff. No one loves the angry nun living inside of you who constantly regrets her vow of celibacy. If you care about that word, then your definition of terror lies in a classroom on the end of a ruler. It’s archaic, and that nun is most likely dead. The Eyrie by Mr. Thom Burgess, on the other hand, is much more frightening and very much alive. Mostly alive. Maybe just sort of alive. It depends on your medical opinion of certain longfellows.
First of all, Illustrator Barney Bodoano’s style is the PERFECT dark cloak to cast over Thom’s tightly knit words. Notice I said cloak here, not cloud. That’s because the art of The Eyrie feels more like a fabric than a storm.
It’s the kind of creepshow you feel just attop your skin with plenty of room for goosebumps.
His work reminds me of my first favorite illustrator Stephen Gammell, who brought horror to life in the “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” series of Alvin Schwartz fame. I’ve always enjoyed the challenging maze of haunting illustrations because the creator has to draw a fine line between frightening and fascinating. In my view, the art is a slightly matured shade of Gammells mastery. Nothing can replace my first childhood horror gem, but as far as one-shots go, I’m made both small and fragile by Bodoano’s vision. The world is unfamiliar, unsettling, and still somehow nostalgic. I couldn’t have drawn a better picture myself. Well done.
If any of you readers out there are actually writing out your own panic-filled panels, I strongly recommend you take note of how Thom Burgess handles exposition and tension. Our protagonist Rebecca is introduced in the midst of a tense moment right off the bat. The basic details of our story are sprinkled on an icing of frustration and sarcasm that allows for both familiarity and sympathy. You feel connected to the character, and despite her clearly eerie road trip, we’re all ready for a ride along.
I found the whole read to be a wonderful descent. We begin by slipping into something mildly uncomfortable. The greasy history of our English backdrop adds a barbarous fog to the mix. In the case of Rebecca, I suppose it’s really a “be careful what you didn’t wish for” situation. Disconnection, isolation, and “generally pissed off” are all wonderful ingredients for madness. Still, our girl seems to keep it together for the most part, considering the noises in the shadows.
This story has plenty of the classic tropes we’ve all come to expect. Still it’s clear that Thom has cut his teeth on fright-night noir and the criminal creep themes in order to find his own voice of darkness. Most importantly, he understands what it takes to craft a scare. That is to say, the build up is everything. It’s not about the moment itself, but the vision you paint around it. While torture and sacrifice are a must in Sussex, happily, no one falls victim to your typical jump scare. I’m afraid that’s just too Hollywood, and every flesh food fan I know is over it. I think I speak for most monster maniacs when I say thanks for racking your brain for the sake of our genre.
I do not wish to take you round the final turn or through the last dark tunnel. It would be cruel of me to do so. However, Thom has earned his dance among the ghosts. He stepped onto the floor with Malevolents, and the creative choreography within The Eyrie’s pages will pull you in just long enough to stop your heart. With a well-deserved introduction from Reece Shearsmith (The League of Gentlemen, Shaun of the Dead) to get you started, you know you’re in for an interesting nightmare. Lastly, never mind a knock or two on the cottage door, but do be mindful of Mr. Owl wearing a hat. He may not be as welcoming as your childhood tootsie-pop dreams made him out to be.
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.
What’s up manga misfits? Today we examine the architectural odyssey of Evian Rising. I do not use the word “odyssey” lightly.
As it stands, if Stephen King’s Pennywise is considered “the eater of worlds,” then Latravious Calloway may very well be the clown’s antithesis. A kind, meticulous designer whose love and devotion for his wife and daughters created a universe. That’s a pretty strong monument to unity and family compared to your last-minute-no-thought-sad-sack-cuz-girls-like-singing-things-sometimes purchase of Pitch Perfect 2 from Walmart ‘ay Jim.
Evian Rising’s creator seems to have the corner market on lavish love letters in the form of a martial arts fantasy/anime mashup.
His journey is crafted upon a sculpture of feminism that is both timeless and modern, broken from the mold of diversity, mythology and vengeance. The magnetism of the main character comes from her decisive nature. It’s up to you as the reader to decide whether the ends justify the means, but I can appreciate the story’s attempt to demonstrate the power human charisma can have over blind faith. The protagonist is both blunt and empathetic, similar to the likes of Salt or Lara Croft, and she’s just as mysterious.
With only one issue thus far, backed up by an unfinished 60 plus wikia page chalked full of backstory, character descriptions, and skill trees, it’s clear this arc is going to be a very long trip. Thankfully, we could all use a new heroine addiction. It feels a little bit like Dungeons and Dragons grew lady parts and flew into space. I’m down with that.
Since Latravious uses the graphic novel medium as a means to redefine the term “passion project,” I thought it might be best to express the creative process of Evian in the form of a sonnet, one love letter for another, if you will. A bit strange perhaps, but more than appropriate considering our topic is a little out of this world.
Evian Rising: A Sonnet
When stars could not keep locked the heaven’s lore
And humans learned the truth from stranger things
The beings with new faith were slaves no more
God’s idle hands were tricked by freedom’s ring
But while her ring burst forth with good intent
Her voice broke through the masters lazy rest
His morning fury came without consent
And stole the light the new believer’s blessed
But though the night brings monsters in his wake
The light gave birth a wish upon her death
A star with mother’s skin and daughters strength
Who would return the power that hope left
A warrior countess born without a past
Will fight to give the cosmos truth at last
While I’m not as familiar with our story as Latravious must be, the vast nature of its lore along with our author’s attention to detail must be nothing short of poetry.
Though it might be easy to label this tale as 2 years in the making, there’s something about the venture that is honestly timeless. While love may be the most widely worded topic in the land of art and literature, that’s only because it reminds each of us why we tell stories in the first place. That is, to tell the truth.
While I wish Evian’s rise to be a successful one, she can rest easy above the clouds knowing she’s supported via a rare and devoted romeo who really wanted to put a new spin on those three little words we all know in a big way. While we all want our creativity to shine far and wide, we often forget the value of genuine depth under all that noisy expectation. It’s all pretty wild considering a universe this big can exist around a single focal point.
This is the kind of creative journey we can always feel more than anything else.
It reminds us that “I love you” is never boring and always matters. Don’t take my word for it. You don’t need a class in Shakespeare or a course in etiquette to tell a good story. You simply need to place your heart in the hands of someone you love and let her do the talking. I have a feeling she’ll have a lot more to say than you think.
I usually work in traditional media, such as pencils, multiliners, copic markers, coloured pencils, watercolour, and gouache. I use apps on my phone to manipulate my drawings, making alpha layers and background layers, and scaling and making panels. Then I transfer to my laptop and use Photoshop to build pages and arrange the lettering. That’s as far as I venture into the digital realm.
I decided to draw a pinup of The Red Hyena, a great character from Project Shadow Breed. I started with a pencil drawing, outlined it, then blocked in the areas with flat layers using copic markers. I would normally render with markers, adding shadows and depth, then highlight areas with coloured pencil or gouache. Instead, I uploaded the drawing to Photoshop and decided to finish it digitally.
I was so absorbed in the process that I forgot to save the separate stages, but the last image in the strip was the final result!
Greetings everyone. Today I’m honored to connect with the very prolific, and very honest, J. M. Bryan.
While I would normally put together some color-coded, alliteration-obsessed introduction to focus your attention, this artist is far too personal for heavy-handed words. It doesn’t take much Internet stalking to become attached to J’s style. It’s near impossible to not get pulled underneath the “criminally” emotional riptide that is Closer, and his collection of shorts, Stuff, seems to be the perfect marriage between a childish heart and an old soul. Whether you’re healed by the young vulnerability of “Broken,” or choose to breakdown reality itself with the abstract storytelling in “Galaxia Apparatus” (soaked in just the right amount of fear mind you), the journey always seems to end in quiet reflection.
Without giving away too much, Ted is my new favorite member of the undead community. J’s humorous take on humility and relationships makes being undead seem very life-like. Lastly, his colorful take on a bad dream just might leave you looking forward to your next nightmare. Take a deep breath, my friends. Let’s find out what’s it’s like inside the open heart of an artist just crazy enough to be himself.
Chris: Good to have you with us, J. I understand you have a comic writer in the family. Did that inspire/influence your storytelling? How long have you been writing, and what was it like shifting from poetry to short stories to novels to comics?
J: I have a cousin, Rich Woodall, who has been writing and illustrating comics for as long as I can remember. I remember being a kid looking at his comic collections and at his books thinking, “I want to make something like this someday.” So I guess it inspired in that I knew that I could do it if I put my mind to it and actually did it. My adventure in writing comics has just begun, but I’ve been writing prose and poetry since I could write. I actually have an old notebook full of “ghost stories” I wrote in first grade. They are terrible, truly terrible, but I suppose the positive side is that I was putting something down on paper. When I finally started writing comic scripts, the first few drafts were incredibly rough, but thankfully there are a lot of resources on the internet that help you learn to write in any kind of medium. So the transition really wasn’t that bad.
Chris: Kickstarter is a typical avenue for many indie comic creators, BUT I understand you managed to get it 250% funded via mostly strangers without much connection in the community or strategy. How do you explain your success?
J: Dumb luck, mostly. I was fortunate to have a lot of people share the project and, if I can take any credit (which I don’t want to), I would say that my low goal amount and low pledge levels really helped me meet my goal. I think people are a lot more likely to help any kind of crowdfunding effort when they feel like they are going to get their money’s worth or more. I tried my best to offer a lot for a little. My goal with Closer was not to make money but to make something people would want to read, so I really just wanted to get it into people’s hands.
Chris:Closeris a wonderful story. I’m curious. It’s in Black and White, and yet, Nathaniel’s love Marie has scars. The simple choice seems to pull emphasis away from the injury, but Marie is very self-conscious about them. Is that symbolic of how we as humans tend to focus on “imperfections” more than we should, or is it simply coincidence? I have many scars myself and would love your take on things.
J: I’m going to try and keep this answer as short as I can, but I could spend all day talking about this aspect of Closer because, at the core, it’s what the comic is about. I’m a believer, mostly by experience, that everyone has something that they would give up everything for. It’s that old cliché that “everyone has a price.” When I was a teenager and the story for Closer began forming in my mind, that something was love. I would have done anything to find that one person I could be with forever. Now, as a married man with kids, I think that family is that thing I would give up everything for. I would do anything to make sure they are safe and taken care of. Now those are pretty standard answers, but I wanted to explore the darker side of all this in Marie’s self-consciousness about her scars. If someone were to come along and offer to take those away, to give her the relief from the stares and the whispers of people she walked by, what would she do to get it? If there truly is something that haunts us all, something that we suffer with every day, what would we give up to have that taken away and finally be at peace? That’s really where the focus on the scars comes from.
Chris: Did you always want Closer to be a 2-Issue story? Where does your love of the short story form come from? Do you prefer a quick knockout punch to longer bouts of exploration? I understand it was initially meant to be a novel.
J:Yeah, I originally planned it to be a novel, but I found that I needed some sort of visual to go with it in order to fully tell the story that I wanted to tell faithfully. That was really frustrating to me and bothered me for a long time until I decided to put it into comic form. I fully intended to release it as a one-shot comic, but after talking with some people about it, I decided to release it in two parts to really raise the tension and have that cliff hanger that I really wanted in there. While I love a good ongoing comic, I feel it’s easier for me at this point in my writing career to write shorter stories to ensure that I can really write a full beginning, middle, and end to a story. I suppose that means that right now I write shorter stories for convenience, but I don’t want to bring myself into a situation this early on where I wouldn’t be able to finish something that I started. I must also add that some of my favorite books growing up were the collections of short stories of any genre, especially scary stories. Those have always meant a lot to me because I spent so much time getting into them.
Chris: I love to read. I tend to dive into non-fiction, though I agree with you in terms of it being dry at times. Stephen King taught me to love the more imaginative form, but why do you feel reading fiction is important for people in general?
J: I think that any kind of reading is beneficial. For instance, I noted recently to someone that while I might not enjoy a book like Twilight (just an example, no one needs to jump on me), I know that I can learn something from the writing, whether it is what to do or what not to do, when writing a book. Reading fiction allows me to explore worlds I never imagined and can really open my mind to new possibilities with my own creations. Even if you aren’t looking that deeply into the work, there are many classic works of fiction that challenge us in many ways or just entertain us. Some fall into both those categories, being both entertaining and challenging, but either way I believe they can be beneficial to anyone. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse taught me to challenge my faith. Harry Potter was a ton of fun and taught me a lot about right and wrong. We can always learn, whether it’s a biography about a president or an outer space adventure.
Chris: My love of comics has been a tremendous learning experience. I’m still trying to understand the importance of lettering. Can you tell me where your passion for it comes from, and why it’s more important than new readers might realize?
J: Someone told me that good lettering is pretty much invisible, but bad lettering can be a flashing light on the page. I think this is incredibly true. If the lettering is bad it can make a page confusing, difficult to read, or ruin what could be a great comic by making it feel like a jumbled mess. Good lettering, on the other hand, makes a comic flow in such a way that you barely even know it’s there. I think the good lettering is the reason why lettering has gone unnoticed, which is a good thing. I have a bit of history with graphic design and typography, which led me to look into learning lettering as another form of comics to explore. I like to make things look clean, and taking a comic and trying to make it readable is exciting to me. I’m a bit of a design nerd.
Chris: I read that you believe the Internet tends to “frame” a creator’s vision. Can you tell me more about that, and why it might be something worth avoiding as a creator?
J: Absolutely. We live in this “social media era” where what’s trending seems to be monitored more than real world issues. In that world, our ideas and opinions literally change with the time of day because we are constantly looking around to see what’s popular and what people want. Unfortunately, this sometimes can cause people to limit their vision and their minds to just that scope of view. Sometimes in comic-making you have to make the stuff that no one wants to read just because you want to make it. We need to be alright with not being the popular comic. If we are constantly chasing trends, we betray the creative spirit within us all. I truly believe that. We need to make what we want to, not what the internet wants. On the positive side, though, if you hit the right side of one of those trends it can really boost careers and help spread your work. Retweets and shares can boost exposure exponentially. There are two sides to everything, I think.
Chris: You know more than anyone that the Internet also allows for collaboration. It’s one of my favorite things about creativity. Tell us about what that has been like for you, and how other people have helped bring your vision to life.
J:This has been the coolest thing for me. Because of the connectivity of social media and sites like Reddit, I’ve been able to work with people from all over the globe. Only in 2017 can a guy from the US work with a Serbian artists and a British letterist. Only in 2017 can I talk to people from 4 different time zones on 4 different continents. We may take this for granted a lot, but I had to take a step back in awe at the fact that this was the reason my comic could be made. While I have met and made friends with an artist from the area in which I live, when I started making comics my “creative circle” was more of a dot, me. Closer came to be because I put out ads on social media and met the right people.
Chris: Stuff was a really interesting collection of shorts. It’s very clear that you have a mind of exploration and vulnerability. I think everyone has their own answer to this, but why is it important to make storytelling so personal?
J: To be honest, I don’t think a comic is worth reading if it’s not personal in some way to the creator. The reason I think that is because I feel like we are more invested in the things we create if there’s a piece of us in it, not just something we did for kicks with no thought. What makes any comic unique is that it is written/illustrated/colored/lettered by different people with varying experiences and feelings. If they put those into their work, readers get a very personal, yet different story. It makes our books special. It makes them part of us and that’s something to cherish and be proud of.
Chris: It’s clear to me that faith and family are very important to you. Since you’ve had the courage to be so personal with your audience in your storytelling, may I be so bold as to ask about your own love story? How did you meet your other half, and how has family been an asset to your own creativity?
J: My wife really saved my life. I met her at a time in my life where I was pretty sure I was going to die alone and didn’t really know what my purpose was. We met when one of my exes told me about this site she met her husband on, Christian Mingle (yes, the one with the terrible commercials). I didn’t really know what to expect, but, to make a long story short, I ended up meeting my wife. It turned out that she went to highschool with one of my best friends and knew a lot of the same people that I did. I think that’s what made her decide to actually meet me. Since then, our life together has been a whirlwind. We dated for just over 2 years before we got married, and we now have two beautiful baby girls. They really are my whole world, and it absolutely frames my writing. As I watch my girls grow, I’m leaning toward more all-ages comics because I want to make things that they can enjoy. At the same time, though, I now understand the heroes in the books that sacrifice it all to save someone because that’s what I would do for them. They have made me a better writer, and I’m even more determined to succeed in what I do because I want them to be proud of me.
Chris: Thank you J. It’s been a joy to learn from you.
As much as I value words on a page as conduits for learning, my true love for individual creativity comes from those moments that transcend skill, methodology, or practice– something that can’t be read in a book or absorbed from a computer screen.
The truth is, we do not find creativity. Creativity finds us when we are ready. J. M. Bryan is more than ready. His love story alone is proof that honesty and art can come together to form an endearing and trustworthy spirit I can only describe as family. His pages feel like one-on-one conversations. His body of work feels like bandages anyone would love to wear. He’s the new medicine man of the indie comic world with plenty of scar tissue to go around. Don’t worry. There’s nothing to hide. With someone like J. M. Bryant around, you might just give those battle lines you’ve drawn over the years a much closer look.
To learn more about what J.M is up to, buy his work or just connect, check out the links below: