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Daddy’s Issues | Chapter 9 | Hot Fun in the Summertime


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. 

Jovelyn Jade & Johnny


Jovelyn is eight months pregnant in July. I already think she’s the most attractive woman I’ve ever seen, but she must be literally hot as fuck!

The temperatures are consistently in the nineties, and she has to go to a doctor’s appointment almost weekly. Given the… chesty nature of my wife-to-be, I can imagine venturing outside becomes quite the sweaty endeavor this late in the pregnancy game.

I’ve even been struggling with the heat, and I’m not growing another human being inside of me. Running baby errands, moving things to get ready for Max, my excessive body hair, and general anxiety have me sweating through a couple of shirts on a daily basis. This is me in my regular, unable-to-become-pregnant mode. I could only imagine the perspiration I would produce, if I had 25-40% extra blood, like my lovely pregnant Jovelyn.

It doesn’t really help matters that Summer decided to rudely barge into our lives, unannounced. I mean, seriously, what happened to Spring of 2018?! We go from Winter Horror Show all the way up to March and then out of nowhere, BAM!, 88 degrees with imposing sun. If global warming (or climate change… or whatever you want to call it, really) is NOT real, then I demand an investigation. I want to file a missing person’s report on Spring, because something happened! Summer may have actually murdered springtime, so it could seize the opportunity to bake us for a few extra months a year.
Taking all these things into consideration, and adding the fact that my apartment is a STEEP two-story walk-up that requires permit parking in a lot a block away from me, you could imagine that Jovelyn hates the heat. She’s even confessed to me that, second to being able to hold our son, she’s looking forward to giving birth so she can stop “always needing a nap and always smelling like tittie sweat”.
We have doctor’s appointments almost weekly, so avoiding the stairs is not something Jovelyn can do completely. I help her waddle down the stairs as much as I can, but I can’t always attend every appointment. My biggest fear was that her water would break, while I was not home, and she would try going down those treacherous fuckers while going into labor. Thankfully the doctor is going to give us an induction date soon, so with any luck, that fear will not become a reality.

The weirdest part about Jovelyn having so much blood running through her veins, and us spending a lot of time indoors during this Mega Hot Summer, I actually find myself getting pretty COLD sometimes. I keep the air conditioner at a much lower temperature than I normally would, and Jovelyn will park herself in front of a fan in addition to the A/C. Cuddling becomes a goose-bumpy endeavor for me. It’s not rare to find me sitting by an open window, so I can feel some of that grossly imposing, yet strangely welcome, summer air to warm my bones.

Like most aspects of this pregnancy, the temperature has become another balancing act for me. Not only do I need to keep myself and the love of my life comfortable, but I also have to slowly transition the baby’s room into a “Safe Sleep Environment” (**to be read in a deep, movie-trailer-guy voice**) and that requires a certain temperature range. I’ve been trying to achieve this by subtly raising the A/C by one degree every day, until the thermometer we keep in the nursery reaches the “Safe Sleep Zone” (**same movie voice**) and I feel like I am one day away from achieving this goal… this very easy to achieve goal, that really required no effort or strenuous thought. Truly, I feel like I should be given a Safe Sleep Zone Award of Excellence.

That’s how, if you use a bit of the ol’ brain power, you can tell that a lot of pregnancy advice you get just may be bullshit. Look, I’m still going to put Max in the “Safe Sleep Zone” because I’m not an asshole, but if we want to talk about HOT then let’s talk about fu-cking hot! Let’s talk sizzling! Let’s talk desert landscape, African third-world, no shade, living in huts, hot! Because they still have babies there and I’m certain the Department of Child Services didn’t provide them with a little thermometer card to keep in their… nursery? They can’t exactly adjust their air conditioning unit a degree a day to find the perfect temperature, and they still manage to grow into adults somehow.

It really is amazing to think about the environments that babies are born in, all over the world, and then reflect on the first-world worries that we have for our children. Babies are born with no running water, in places with no flushing toilets or substantial food to go around, and we in the first-world are buying water jugs with pictures of babies on the fucking things because SURELY that’s more sterile! I mean, look at me, I’m bitching about Jovelyn having to walk down the stairs. At least she isn’t walking down the stairs, all the way down to the lake to collect water, to bring back on top of her head, all while eight months pregnant.
We watched a documentary called “Babies”, all about how people around the world have and raise their babies, and I feel like it’s essential viewing for expecting parents. It puts a lot of those needless worries into perspective. You tend to worry less about what brand of wipes to get, when you see an African woman wiping her son’s ass with her shin bone. Why bother with a baby gate either, when the Mongolians just tie their newborn to a bedpost like a dog?

We really are a lot more fortunate than we realize sometimes. People, that is. Not Jovelyn and I specifically, though it is a good thing to think back on when I’m pissed about not being about to figure out which nipple-flow is best for which bottle type.

We are ready for Summer to be over with. Max gets to join us at the end of it, and along with that comes Awww!-inducing Halloween costumes and some really adorable, tiny winter coats, scarves, mittens, and the cutest of all, little hats.

We just have to get through this imposing heat, first.


Johnny Craft is a comic book writer, who is constantly looking for new talented artists to bring his scripts to life. Johnny’s physical composition is made up of 20% ambition, 30% talent, 40% coffee, and 10% illicit drugs. 


Edited by Joey Sheehan







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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace, Love and Brown Rice,

Ed & Matt

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

 


Connet with Ed & Matt

Twitter: @SBP_Comics  |  Tumblr   |   ComixCentral

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Daddy’s Issues | Chapter 7 | The Gender Reveal


 

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. 

Jovelyn Jade & Johnny


Finally, the twenty-week ultrasound is here! Finally, we have the answer to everyone’s follow-up question, after learning we’re having a baby! Finally, we know if we are having a little Batman or a little Wonder Woman!

We did some light preparation leading up to the day. Jovelyn and I went to Target and picked out Babylove’s first outfit, that we plan on leaving the hospital in. If it’s a little girl, we picked out a tiny Wonder Woman onesie, complete with a little printed-on lasso and everything! If it turned out we were having a boy, then we decided on… surprise, surprise… a Batman onesie.

First, let me start by saying everything looks healthy and right on track! All the measurement line up with our expected due date (August 29th) and Babylove looks healthy and normal. The first sigh of relief was out of the way.

Unlike the last ultrasound, I remembered to eat before we went. The only waiting room hitch I encountered this time was deciding that I had enough time to hit the bathroom before they called us in. Sure enough, I came back from a most-satisfying piss to find that the carrier of my child was ushered off without me.

I had to ask some sweet older lady to let me in the locked door and I quickly found my way into the ultrasound room. I took a seat and positioned myself in front of the screen. Jovelyn looked so beautiful and she even told the nurse that she wasn’t going to cry this time.

That was a lie. We both did. Again.

The image came on the screen of little Babylove in the breech position. Basically, mooning us… just like daddy in his high school days!

“Do you want to know the sex?” the nurse asked. “Because, I can tell already.” “I already know, too,” I said. And I did. It was clear as day. It’s like Babylove KNEW we wanted to know if we were having a boy or girl, by positioning the genitals front and center. I suddenly knew what my very next purchase was going to be. Babylove had their first onesie in their future and the picture for our Baby Registry suddenly became a bit more clear.

It’s a BOY!

Admittedly, we both thought we would do best with a little girl, but this opened up a whole new amazing level of possibilities. I have plenty of Batman comics to hand down and the Halloween costume possibilities are endless! If you attend Cons, get ready to see the cutest little superhero baby to ever grace a convention floor.

Plus, I can teach the little guy how to not be a creep. Hopefully, he won’t have the awkward learning to talk to girls phase that I went through. I’ll make sure he has no trouble finding a prom date.

We had lunch at Red Robin, which seems to be our new ritual after ultrasounds. We were joined by Jovelyn’s (very pregnant) friend, Leslie and her 2-year-old daughter. She is one cute little girl, and you would think that would make me jealous but, the second I learned we were having a boy, it felt like that’s what I wanted all along.

We surprised Jovelyn’s mom at work, to tell her she was having a little grandson and we fully accomplished Jovelyn’s goal of making her mom cry at work. Her mom was really excited and ended up hugging me three separate times. I guess having a family full of girls will really get you emotional when you can finally inject some testosterone into the mix.

My family is a little different. Boys galore, so it was far less emotional for my parents. They were just excited that everything looked healthy.

My seven-year-old niece seemed a little disappointed. I think she wanted a little girl cousin. On the plus side, though, she’s already my little comic book buddy. Now, I have someone I can buy DC Superhero Girls dolls for AND someone to buy all the Batman action figures for. I really just get to experience both sides of the modern childhood comic book fan.

I’m excited for the next part of the journey. Babylove won’t have a nursery, HE will have a Batcave.

And yes, he already has his first Batman suit. We stopped at Target on the way home from the hospital. His war on crime is just beginning…


Johnny Craft is a comic book writer, who is constantly looking for new talented artists to bring his scripts to life. Johnny’s physical composition is made up of 20% ambition, 30% talent, 40% coffee, and 10% illicit drugs. 


Edited by Joey Sheehan







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Fantasy | Comic History Mysteries | Episode #13


Join The Rambling Phoenix and The Voice on this fantastical episode of Comic History Mysteries!

[podbean resource=”episode=528vw-90e92b” type=”audio-rectangle” height=”100″ skin=”1″ btn-skin=”107″ share=”1″ fonts=”Helvetica” auto=”0″ download=”0″ rtl=”0″]

Check out the trailer:

 

Listen, subscribe and join the converstation by leaving a comment below!

 






 

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Daddy’s Issues – Chapter 5: Secret Origins – The Johnny and Jovie Story


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. 

Jovelyn Jade & Johnny

I traveled back in time to 2001. Or, rather, I am going to eventually. I’m just not entirely sure when that will be yet. I guess I’m waiting for them to actually invent the Time Machine. I know this will happen because I remember hanging out with Future Me back in 2001.

Before you ask, yes I probably WAS on drugs, but nothing stronger than the drugs I’m currently under the influence of. Of course, I had to convince my sixteen-year-old self the same thing. See, I went back in time to talk to my teenage version about how, yes that totally-out-of-your-league, super hot, Goth, Punk, Asian chick WILL, in fact, be your wife and the mother of your child.

In school, I always knew Jovelyn as my buddy John’s best friend and (in my opinion) someone so goddamn gorgeous that I shouldn’t even bother hitting on her. Her beauty was intimidating. She was womanly gorgeous in high school and I was an awkward comic book nerd who liked to make fun of everything. I’m pretty sure she could do better for a date to the prom, for fuck’s sake.

Did I want to ask her out? You bet your ass! She’s the most attracted I’ve ever been to a woman. EVER! I couldn’t do it, though. I wouldn’t. I would walk by her in the hallway between classes, interact with her briefly when I talk to John, and we went to the same house party once, but aside from that Jovelyn and I had very minimal interaction in high school.

That’s because Future Me went back in time to sort myself out, so I could actually get the girl of my dreams. Disaster was imminent if I let my teen, stoner, idiot self-try to pick up Jovelyn. I just didn’t have the life experience to keep such an amazing woman.



I remember I was in my blow-off typing class when I faked that I had to go to the bathroom. Probably so I could roam the halls, and see if any of my other degenerate friends were sent out in the hall, that I could bullshit with. That’s when I saw a bright blue, Dr. Manhattan glow coming from the bathroom in the hallway.

Future Me stepped out of the glow, and I was a little freaked out. I (as in teenage-me) felt the need to express my concern.

“Who are you?” I asked.
“Well, buddy,” Future Me said to myself. “I’m you… I’m you, from the future.”
“Oh, dude,” I said. “You’re not here to molest me, are you?”
“No!” Future Me exclaimed. “Why would I molest myself? Couldn’t I just go jerk-off?”
“Just making sure. There’s this new Catch a Predator show that has a lot of people concerned, these days.”
“I’m here to make sure you have an amazing adult life,” Future Me said. “I need to show you something.”

“Dude… You ARE going to molest me!”

After I was told to shut the fuck up and listen, Future Me led me to the end of the hallway, where I usually walked by Jovelyn. We stood and waited for the end-of-class bell to ring, and I totally knew I was going to get a detention for ditching class. Future Me walked alongside me, telling me who I shouldn’t bother talking to. Pointing out who would become junkies, which girls I would end up dating unsuccessfully, and who I would never even hear from again after high school. Then… he pointed her out.

“Jovelyn?” I said, confused. “Yeah, I kind of know her. Is she still hot? Is she still friends with Gay John? Not a judgment, by the way. There’s just too many Johns. Big John, Little John Goofy John, Redhead John. It’s just a descriptor. But hey, you know that. You’ve said it before.” “That’s your wife,” Future Me said, so matter-of-factly. “Bullshit! Now, I know you’re a fucking con artist!” “Believe it, asshole,” Future Me said. “That woman fucking LOVES you, dude. You may not know it yet, but as far as women are concerned, you’re the luckiest man on Earth.”

“How do I know you’re-”

“Her name is Jovelyn Jade Ross,” he interrupted. “She was born October 14th. Two years, one week, and one day before you. She loves black and white patterns, miniature things, and cats. She’s a sucker for horror stories, a master with eye makeup, and, OH, we have a full-on family at this point. You know I’m not lying, because I know my wife, dude. Trust me. You’re going to have the privilege of getting her pregnant.”

“So, then, what’s the point of you coming here?”

“Life is going to be hard. Dating is going to be some rough waters for you to navigate. You’re not going to have the easiest time figuring out what women want in a partner. You’re going to be with women that you’ll think are The One, and others that you can’t wait to get rid of, but I’m here to tell you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Jovelyn and your family is that pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.”

Future Me went on to explain how I should hold onto this thought, anytime I was heartbroken, or felt like I was helpless in the world of romance. He also explained what social media was, and how it’s going to be much easier to reach out to people you knew from school, eventually.

Future Me stepped back into the school’s bathroom, took a piss, didn’t wash his hands (I don’t blame him. That school soap smells awful.), and the Dr. Manhattan glow emitted from the doorway once again. He was gone.

Fast forward to 2012 and I found out Future Me was no con artist. Sure enough, social media put me back in contact with none other than… Jessica! Jovelyn’s sister. Jessica had actually invited me to hang out at her house, one night, after I found out that her husband was a guy I graduated with and worked with at Blockbuster.

I expected a night of cracking jokes, watching movies, and probably getting hammered (I was still drinking, at this point). I actually had no idea that Jessica had a roommate, and I had no idea that roommate would come home from work in the middle of us hanging out, and I especially had no idea that roommate was her sister Jovelyn Jade- the love of my life. We immediately connected, in a BIG way! We had the same twisted sense of humor, and we both embraced our weird sides as a positive, instead of dwelling on the shame that society likes to place on eccentric fuckers like us.

We got along famously! Thick as thieves! Peas in a pod! Cliches in a blog post! Not a problem in the world, except for that whole pesky her-having-a-boyfriend issue. No, we did not reconnect after all those years and fall magically, immediately, in love. I know it’s not romantic, and I know you’ve had a sci-fi story for part of this, but that’s just reality. I’m sure I loved her, but her heart belonged to someone else.

Or so I thought. Turns out, Jovelyn wasn’t in a very happy relationship. I wanted to be with her so badly. I knew that I could make her happy and I could see that, deep down, she knew it too.
There were moments where I thought things would go differently. Plenty of times that I thought Jovelyn had a change of heart and actually wanted to be with me, but nothing ever seemed to fall in my favor.

I moved on. I met someone else, we started a relationship, and even lived together for a short time. I even thought I loved this woman and would probably end up marrying her. Fate has a funny way of stepping in, though.

During the time of my pre-baby-making relationship, Jovelyn actually became single, and started to get pretty annoyed at the whole dating scene in general. She had given up on the idea of being with someone all together.



My relationship ended for reasons that are literally so stupid and childish, that I don’t even care to tell anyone why. Let’s just make an already long story just a bit shorter, and say goodbye and “Best of luck to ya”.

It didn’t take long for me to reach out to Jovelyn. She is the one person I’ve always been able to be myself with. The only person I could open up to, completely honestly, and share all my insecurities without the fear of judgment. Why wouldn’t I turn to her, to help me make sense of a shitty situation?

That’s when it happened. She agreed to come over and it was like that magical, immediate love, that everyone expected from earlier. We have spent all of our free time together, ever since and I’m still not sick of her. I don’t see myself ever being sick of her.

We live together now. We are expecting our first child together. We are engaged. We love each other and we’re very happy. I guess Future Me wasn’t a fucking con artist.
Now… Where is the hell is that time machine? I really have some shit I want to do, well before I go back in time and talk to that little teenage douchebag.

Future Me must have run out of things to see.



Johnny Craft is a comic book writer, who is constantly looking for new talented artists to bring his scripts to life. Johnny’s physical composition is made up of 20% ambition, 30% talent, 40% coffee, and 10% illicit drugs.


 






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The CXC Podcast Episode #36 – Charon Comics | Frederick Packard & Joshua Valliere


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

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

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

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

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

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





 

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Daddy’s Issues – Chapter 4: What’s in a Name?


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. 

Jovelyn Jade & Johnny


Baby names have been a hot topic around The Craft Household, lately. There is, surprisingly, a LOT of thought you have to put into the name your child will be stuck with for the rest of their life.

First, you have to take my last name into consideration. Craft. Arthur, Artemis, Artem, Arturo. OUT! Art Craft? Get the fuck out of here…

No jokey, punny names, either. Space. Air. Mine. Love. That’s a whole lot of NOPE. And, sorry little girl, Laura Craft will get you too much Tomb Raider flack. It’s also important to take childish insults into consideration. Anything that can be turned into a butt, fart, or poop joke can’t even be a contender in the name game. I remember being a total cock to people, over their names, when I was younger. I mean, fuck,

I used to torture a kid named Adam by calling him “Subtract-em” all the time. I will take that into consideration, though, the first time my kid gets in trouble for ball-busting at school. So. Many. Questions. What if it’s a boy? What if it’s a girl? Is it even worth trying to come up with a name, until we know the gender? How unique should we go? Is a family of three J first names too cheesy? Do we want to name him/her after someone (and if so, who)? I never thought naming my kid would be like taking a pop-quiz! I also have to take the size of my family into consideration. Jovelyn’s family is small, but mine is endless. I don’t have a family tree, so much as a family orchard. I suddenly find myself asking “What’s that one cousin that I have, who just had a baby? What did she name that kid? Was it a girl?” on a regular basis. I would have hated to have had another Johnny Craft in my family, growing up. I don’t want to stiff my kid with that problem, and the petty “Nah uh, I was born first, so I’m the real Insert-Name- Here!” arguments that come along with being a child.



Girl names are easy. My only rule is “She can’t share a name with a woman I’ve slept with”, which, YES it HAS created a few awkward moments between Jovelyn and I. There are so many girl names that I like, that I could definitely see my little girl having. Penny, Alice, Juliana, Gloria, Gail. There are a lot of cute little girl names. Plus, I love comics so a little Selina Craft, Kara Zorel Craft or especially (if I could impossibly talk my wife-to-be into it) Big Barda Craft would be amazing!

Boy names are a bit more difficult. Bruce Wayne Craft is way too lame, even for a huge Batman fan like me. Swamp Thing, Solomon Grundy, and Hellboy still aren’t out of the running, though.

Don’t judge.

I hate the current trend of Something-ayson or Something-den. No disrespect to my nephews Mason and Kayden, but it seems like every male baby lately is a Grayson, Brayden, Crayson, or Crayden. At least my homie Valerie cut the bullshit and went with straight-up Rayden. Maybe I’ll take her lead and name the little fella Sub-Zero. In all seriousness, though, I like Max. Classic, strong, even comic hero-ish. Max Craft. Calvin is always a name I’ve felt was under-used, as well. Plus, I’m a sucker for the alliteration, AND it opens up the gates for me to make plenty of Parliament jokes to the kid (“But you’re the capital CC. Gainin’ on ya!”) since that’s exactly what a child growing up in the 2020’s will love; 1970’s funk jokes, that aren’t even very good. I’m killing the dad-jokes already.

The trickiest thing about boys names, to me anyway, is the fact that a lot of names sound good for adults but not necessarily babies. Like, could you really think of a little baby Hank? Or a tiny little Fred? Admittedly, these could be the wacky thoughts of a person who likes to smoke a few blunts while writing about his ol’ Daddy’s Issues, but these are grown man names! My grandfather was Buford, which I actually don’t think is a very bad name, but for… my grandfather! I couldn’t picture a baby having that name. Right now, we are stuck with the gender-ambiguous, temporary name of Babylove.

Jovelyn and I will figure out the rest, at our twenty-week ultrasound. We get to finally know if Babylove is a boy or a girl. Do I buy Batman or Wonder Woman stuff? Time will tell. Boy or girl, I’m sure we will decide the perfect name for our baby. Even if we have a lapse in judgment, I’m sure little Bieber Sampson Craft or Madonna Comet Craft will have an amazing life, even if they hate us forever for their terrible names.


Johnny Craft is a comic book writer, who is constantly looking for new talented artists to bring his scripts to life. Johnny’s physical composition is made up of 20% ambition, 30% talent, 40% coffee, and 10% illicit drugs.






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Crowdfunding Roundup – April 12, 2018

Colossal Chaos from Out of the Blue

I’ve outgrown most of the subgenres that I adored from my childhood. Superheroes bore me. Epic space fantasies just make me shrug and say “meh.” But for whatever reason, the ‘nostalgia tingles’ I get Kaiju genre haven’t faded for me. My nostalgia vibes were on overload with the teaser trailer for Colossal Chaos from Out of the Blue– a Kaiju anthology.

PLOT :

This is the fourth installment of the Out of the Blue anthology series. 57 comic creators from around the world helped put together this kaiju anthology. AmazingTales.net says, “Colossal Chaos is packed with twists on the theme, across a variety of genres. Oversized humans, gigantic space aliens, enormous city devouring monsters, behemoth insects, or just really big robots, every sci-fi trope of towering creatures is turned on its head.”

WHAT THEY NEED :

As I write this they have 20 days to go and a lot more to fund. They’re at $400 right now and have a goal set of $4,400. So there’s still a trek to go.

WHY YOU SHOULD BACK IT :

It’s a thick anthology — at 130 pages! The $50 + art rewards are awesome too. The standard trade paperback features cover art by Diego Galindo (Dynamite, Zenescope). There’s also a Kickstarter exclusive hardcover with wrap-around cover at by Kelly Williams (IDW, Dark Horse).  

Follow this link to learn more and support this campaign »


Chester & Grace: The Adirondack Murder

True crime is one of the most interesting genres I’ve seen done in the graphic novel medium, There’s classics like From Hell, Torso, Green River Killer, and My Friend Dahmer. Chester & Grace: The Adirondack Murder looks like a great addition to any true crime library.

PLOT :

Chester & Grace” is a story of love gone wrong. In the summer of 1906, young Chester Gillette drowned his pregnant girlfriend, Grace Brown, at Big Moose Lake in upper New York State. This is the true case that inspired Theodore Dreiser’s novel An American Tragedy and the later film “A Place in the Sun.

WHAT THEY NEED :

Their initial volume will be published in a small format (6″x9″), softcover, 92 pages, with one or two illustrations per page, and in full color. They’re really close to their goal and they only need a nudge to go over.

WHY YOU SHOULD BACK IT :

Because there needs to be more true crime comics that are done tastefully and with respect. This one looks like it does all that and adds a touch of class that is rarely seen in the genre.

Follow this link to learn more and support this campaign »


The Winter Year

The Winter Year first caught my eye with their cover. I loved the minimalist white outline of an owl with the title overlayed. As I went a little deeper into the pitch,  I was hooked by the description of the desperate tundra that the characters inhabit. This one looks bleak, bloody, and somehow hopeful in the midst of it all.

PLOT :

“Such things were once only whispers, though Garai, this family’s provider, has now proven them to be true – leaving him with little recourse in training with his son, Eshe.

As the arms of  this vicious winter wrap around Garai, he must come face to face with those who wronged him, and seek for dark truths amidst the tundra that he once called home.”

WHAT THEY NEED :

They’re about a grand and 22 days away. The budget for the comic is divided between reward fulfillment, artwork for issue 2, and Kickstarter’s fees.  

WHY YOU SHOULD BACK IT :

The artwork sets the tone for the book. It’s fridged and bleak, but there’s hope. It’s great to see a series where the art perfectly matches the script. If you’re looking for a meditative, brooding winter story — back this book!

Follow this link to learn more and support this campaign »


Thank you for checking out the Crowdfunding Roundup – April 12th 2018  |  by Anthony Cleveland



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

Twitter & IG @ant_cleveland



 




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Comics History Mysteries – Nazis in Comics | Episode #9

 

Comics History Mysteries – Nazis in Comics | Episode #9

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

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

 






 

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So You Want To Be A Hero | Part One: Let’s Get Started

 

When I was six and fresh-faced I realized early the type of person I was.

All it took was a cold November day and a tyrant on the jungle gym. I was minding my own business, slamming Pogs for keepsies like any good 90’s kid when it happened. A little kindergartner screamed out as the earlier mentioned baddie tugged him down from a climbing net. I ran to the scene quickly, well it happened right behind me, so more like a quick turnaround. I didn’t hesitate as I grabbed his shoulder, turning around the greasy bully and unleashing my best Red Ranger impersonation in the form of right hand to the nose. He bled and cried. I told him to get lost or I’d pop him again. I got a weeks detention and had to Bart Simpson “I will not hit other children” a 100 times. If you’re asking if I would do it again the answer is yes. 1000 times over.



I sadly drifted from that young feisty six years old letting the cruel reality of life beat me down into a disenfranchised millennial. I no longer fought the injustices around me and I didn’t care to. It wasn’t my job. I couldn’t even find a real one. Eventually, I managed. I went to college, graduated then went back for something else. This is when it started.

That little six year old inside me (wait, that doesn’t sound right) started to nag. “Your meant to do good. Be better.” I ignored him at first but the little bastard kept at it. “Be better” he kept saying. So I did. Eventually, I finished college and started to try to be better. I got a job working an afterschool program and eventually a night job at a house as a developmental service worker (I get to sleep there, it’s the best job ever). I thought that would make him shut up. It did not.

I have a lot of free time. Not “unemployed” free time but enough to get me in serious trouble thanks to my overactive imagination and a misguided sense of purpose. I try to dull it with various substances (shhhhh, I’ll never tell) and by searching out more employment. So I turned to writing. Maybe creating something for people would help silence this stupid kid.

For a second it did but he’s a persistent little shit. “Be better”. He wouldn’t shut up. So I asked him. Well by that I mean I had a conversation with myself posing as my younger self. It went like this.

“Be better”
“You keep saying that you little punk.”
“Then do it.”
“I’m a good person! What do you want from me.”
“Yea you’re good, but the only thing worse than bad guys are good guys who just stand around while the bad stuff happens.”
“You’re a kid version of me. How are you this smart!?”

He left me to ponder his Obi-Wan like wisdom. I sat there, racking my brain. Eventually, I came to the only conclusion that made sense.

I’d become a superhero.

The first? The last? I have no idea but it got him to shut up. I was going make six-year-old me proud. I was going be the greatest hero this world has ever seen. Wait, I’m an out of shape twenty-eight-year-old with no combat training and the tech resources of a 3rd world nation. I’m doing what now?

So here we are. Your reading this and I’m probably in my basement doing push-ups and punching the wooden support beam until my knuckles bleed. Actually, I’m playing Sea of Thieves but it just came out. Get off my back. I have a long way to go but I’m ready.

So where do we start?

I need a name, a gimmick, maybe some sort of animal sidekick? Do I team up? Where do I go if I only want to tackle world ending events on a cosmic scale or does everyone start punching bad guys for stolen purses? All great questions I’m going to have to figure out on my way to becoming a great hero. I’m finally ready for this, are you?

(I’m going die in a dungy crack house aren’t I? At least six-year-old me will be proud… right?)


Be sure to Like, Subscribe, share and join us next time for- “Who the hell am I? Picking my alter ego.”


By Dan Ball

Dan is Canadian writer whose series, MISTER CROWLEY, is currently in production with Inbeon Studios. In Dan’s other life he has worked an after-school program for the last five years and nights as a developmental service worker.






 

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Daddy’s Issues – Chapter 2: The Pregnancy Gauntlet

 

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. 

Jovelyn Jade & Johnny

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-tothe-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!


 





 

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Daddy’s Issues – Chapter 1: Hit by a Bomb

 

Welcome to a new blog series 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 1: Hit by a Bomb

It was Friday, January 5th. I was at work, sorting out my own plans for the evening, in my head. I knew I was going to be on my own that night, so I needed to do something to keep my brain busy. I could continue working on my comic book script for “SuperLove”, maybe trim down the stack of “to-read” comics that have been piling up for months, watch “Punisher” on Netflix finally, or maybe just actually get around to playing the X-Box One that I bought months ago. Either way, none of my potential plans included… THIS.

Jovelyn sent me a text at work, around 1 pm. I knew she had other things to do for the night, so I actually anticipated NOT seeing my lovely girlfriend until Sunday. The text exchange was as follows:

Jovelyn: “I lied. I do want to see you tonight. If that’s okay. If you have plans then that’s okay! :)”
Me: “I would love to see you tonight. It’s more than okay. :)”
Jovelyn: “It’s been pretty fucked up today.”
Me: “I can’t wait to hear all about it.”

I wasn’t sure what to expect. I just assumed I was going to hear a really entertaining “Can you believe this mother fucker at work?” story. I certainly didn’t expect… THIS.

I took off work early and got home a few hours before Jovelyn got off of work. Had I known the subject of the conversation we were about to have, I probably would have avoided smoking a blunt that I filled with so much weed, it looked like Swamp Thing fucked a cinnamon stick.

She let herself in, as I was in the kitchen making coffee. My apartment layout is such, that I was able to just pivot my body and greet her as she walked into my front door. She looked scared.
“Hey, gorgeous,” I said. “Is everything okay?”

I could tell she was freaking out, with an almost-panic-attack tone in her voice. We walked into the living room together, where Jovelyn dropped to her knees, directly in front of my couch. She looked up at me with her big, beautiful, eyes and I could sense the concern in them. Sadly, (or maybe not “sadly”) the first thing I noticed was how amazing she looked and how much Jovelyn Jade lights up my heart whenever I look at her. She was in a sort of “Slave Leia” position on the floor, looking totally stunning.

“Sooooo….” She said, snapping me out of my love-trance.

As I started to crouch, to meet Jovelyn on the floor, she reached back into her purse to pull out a white plastic shopping bag. “I’m pretty sure this means that I am,” she said.

The white plastic shopping bag was turned over, and spilling at my feet, right in the middle of my living room… was a bagful of positive pregnancy tests. (More on the relationship between Jovelyn and I, in a later chapter.)

The point is, I was just informed that I had put a child inside of the one woman in my life who has always been there for me, always made a point to make me happy, and fuel my confidence as a worthwhile human being. I knew I had to stay strong for her, find the perfect thing to say, and help make this situation easier to digest for her. So, naturally, me being the supremely strong and ever-confident manliest of men that I am… I froze like a bitch.

“Okay…. Uh…. Okay…. Okay. This…. Um… Okay,” probably stumbled it’s way out of my mouth for a solid minute and a half.

Usually, I’m not such a (in the words of Joe Pesci) stutterin’, mutterin’, prick. Even when I just inhaled a healthy dose of smoke from Swamp Thing’s dick, I can still keep my thoughts composed, rationally. It took me a bit to gain my composure and I finally turned to Jovelyn, looked her directly in her concerned eyes and told her honestly… “I don’t know what to say”.

I felt like a total asshole for those few seconds. Literally, like a complete waste of human life. Here I am, enduring the most pivotal moment in any person’s life, with the woman of my dreams looking to me for answers… and I had none. I couldn’t even form words, how could I raise a child?



“Just be completely honest with me,” Jovelyn said.

It took, maybe, two more seconds of silence and self-loathing, but her question snapped me out of it in a big way. I didn’t even need to think anymore. I looked at her with confidence and clarity and told her for the very first time in all the 17 years that I’ve known Jovelyn Jade Ross- “I love you. I know that. I have known that, and there is no doubt in my mind.”

I wasn’t nervous or questioning anything coming out of my mouth. I was giving her the 100% honesty that she wanted, and it felt amazing to finally say it.

“No one understands me like you, and I’ve never understood anyone like I understand you. You are the greatest person I have ever met in my life, and if the decision were up to me… I would certainly want you to keep it. I wouldn’t want to go through this with anyone, other than you, and if anyone can pull this off it’s going to be us. I love you, Jovelyn Jade. I won’t screw this up.”

She took a deep breath. Smiled. Still looked scared shitless, in her amazing eyes. Still stunning.
“I love you, too,” she said. “I definitely love you. I am really glad you said that because I feel the same way. I want to go on this adventure with you.”

It seemed like we got over the first wave of radiation from the Pregnancy Nuke that was just dropped on us. We kissed, cuddled, cried, talked, and joked for another several minutes. I could still tell something was bothering the love of my life, though. I had a feeling I knew what it was, too.

“You know,” I said. “We both know a lot of really dumb mother fuckers that have kids. Look at all the stupid people in Wal-Mart that have like five of them, and those kids survive! Some of them turn out to be really successful in life, despite being raised by complete fucking idiots. If those morons can raise multiple children, we can surely handle one, right?”

She smiled and I continued.

“I’m willing to take every step with you. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m not going to be like some Seth Rogan in Knocked Up kind of character. I know my life is going to change and I know you’re going to deal with a lot of stuff that I won’t be able to understand, but I’m going to learn and I’m going to do everything I can to be there for you in every possible way. You tell me what you need, or what I need to do, and I will do it. You are not alone in this, at all. I’m here and I’m not going anywhere.”

I heard a sigh of relief.

“I am so glad you’re not a fucking idiot,” she said, happily. “You are saying all the right things, and thank you for that. You’re making me feel so much better.”
“I’m just doing what you told me to do,” I said. “I’m being honest with you. I’m not saying what I think is the right thing to say. I’m saying what I want to say and telling you how I feel. This is going to be great for us.”
She told me I would be a great father. I congratulated her and told her she would be a great mother. We are going to be incredible parents.

Jovelyn looked into my eyes, lovingly, smiling her amazing smile, and put the most “Jovelyn” cap on our positive-pregnancy-test drama.

“Now, order us a pizza, Daddy. I’m eating for two, now.”


By Johnny Craft

 





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RAGS: Not just another pair of pants

 

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


The back back way back story:

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

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

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



Beer, Zombies and a nude mod

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

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

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

rags_comixcentral_blog

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

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

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

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

Regina Ragowski: The mama Leopard

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

Needless to say, we think we nailed it there.

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

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

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

Making a Baby:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hail Mary, or rather Hail Liz!

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

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

But.
He.
Did.

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

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

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

Fuck It.Drive On.

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

Liz Finnegan and Brian circa 2018

Written by Brian Ball

 






 

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Episode #26 | Patrick Trahey



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

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

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

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

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

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Urban Fantasy Literature: Where Comics can be Canon

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When I was a kid, my reading genre of choice was High Fantasy: J.R.R. Tolkien, David Eddings, LLoyd Alexander, Terry Goodkind, Robert Jordan etc.

While I still love those books, my current reading genre of choice has become Urban Fantasy: A story set in the modern world but there’s something supernatural afoot. Many of the most popular books of the last 20 years have fallen into this category: Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Twilight, and nearly everything by Neil Gaiman to name far too few examples.

Two of my favorite Urban Fantasy series is The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher and Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs. For both of these authors, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there are comic books based in their universes that were written by the authors themselves. While it is not too uncommon to find a comic book adaptation of popular books (which has also happened for these two authors), it is less common to have original stories added in a different format by the original author and these stories are part of the canon of that universe.

One reason I feel that this works so well in the context of Butcher and Briggs is that they both have written quite a few short stories set in their worlds, and the comic books have the feel of an additional short story but in comic form. Both are avowed comic book fans, and Butcher even wrote a Spider-Man novel.

Both Butcher and Briggs have written multiple comic book stories set in their own literary world, but I am going to focus on 2 stories in particular.


The Dresden Files follow the story of Harry Dresden, a Chicago based private investigator who happens to also be a wizard.

Each story covers one of Harry’s cases. This way of framing the story cleverly allows for the insertion of smaller stories into the overall narrative. The Graphic Novel “Welcome to the Jungle” is set slightly before book one of the series, “Storm Front.”  Yet, while it is technically a prequel to the main series, there have been short stories set earlier.  This story is considered canon and, while unable to find the quote while skimming through the books, I seem to remember a character in one of the novels making a comment about “That incident at the zoo,” which was a reference to this story.

Credit Jim Butcher and Ardian Syaf/Dynamite Entertainment

On the flip side, this comic also highlights one of the series long running gags. Harry, who is ridiculously tall, drives Volkswagen Beetle affectionately known as “The Blue Beetle.”  This car in almost every book gets smashed up in one way or another and has been rebuilt using parts from other beetles, of many different colors.

The Blue Beetle is featured in the comic and is actually blue. At first, I thought this was an inking error, but then realized, this story takes place when the Beetle was actually blue and as a result of this story gets its first replacement part. It may seem like a small thing, but noticing that continuity was fun. It also shows how Butcher as the architect of this world can throw in which is essentially just an easter egg for fans paying attention and more directly connect this story to the novels.

Credit Jim Butcher and Ardian Syaf/Dynamite Entertainment
The Blue Beetle as depicted in the Dresden Files Wiki

Welcome to the Jungle itself begins with a mauling at the Lincoln Park Zoo, which at first seems like an animal attack. But when Harry Dresden looks at the crime scene he knows that this is more than just an animal attack, it is something supernatural and he is given just 24 hours to figure it out.  

The story is 4 issues long and is most easily purchased digitally in single issues, as a graphic novel (digitally or in print) or as a part of the Dresden Files Omnibus Vol. 1 trade paperback.

The story is well worth reading, and as previously mentioned feels like one of the Dresden Files short stories. It is a fun trip into the world of the Dresden Files and works both as a great introduction to the series as well as a fun way for fans to experience this world in a new way.  

There is an ongoing joke about the cover art of The Dresden Files. On the book covers Harry is always depicted as wearing a hat. In the books, it is a point made over and over that Harry hates hats. It is fun to see this character as he is described in the books, and the only way to do that is to read the comic.   

Credit Jim Butcher/Roc

The Mercy Thompson series is about Mercy Thompson, a coyote shapeshifter who was raised by werewolves.

She works as a mechanic and lives in Washington State. In her world, the fey has recently revealed their existence and at the start of book one, “Moon Called,” the werewolves are about to reveal their existence. Mercy, though raised by the werewolves, is an outsider because she is not one. This status as a perpetual outsider lets her create friendships with not only the werewolves, but the fey, and even vampires. She is a fascinating character not because she is the most powerful (She is not.) but because she has so many connections with so many parts of the supernatural world.

Credit Patricia Briggs/Ace

According to the front matter of the graphic novel Hopcross Jilly: “The events of Hopcross Jilly occur between Mercy Thompson novels Frost Burned and Night Broken, and just after the events in Dead Heat (Alpha and Omega #4)”. (Alpha and Omega is another series set in the same world focusing on different characters, with quite a few interconnections.)     

Credit Patricia Briggs, Rik Hoskin, Tom Garcia/Dynamite Entertainment

While the story of Hopcross Jilly can be read and understood without reading the books, book readers will know that due to book events, the Fey have withdrawn into “reservations,” but some fey are either being let out of the reservations or escaping and causing trouble.  A book reader will know this, someone new to the story will discover this as they read.

The story uses its connections to the world very well. In the course of the mystery, Mercy goes to various friends searching for answers, book readers will love these cameos. My favorite is when she gets in touch with the fey Zee. In the books, he is a short potbellied balding man. He is also a fey wearing a glamor. In the course of the entire book series he has only dropped his glamor a couple of times, but in the comic he chooses not to have his glamor on, and he strikes a very impressive figure. It’s a great easter egg for fans.  

Hopcross Jilly begins with Mercy and the Tri-Cities werewolf pack stumbling over the buried bones of dead children. These kids were clearly killed in a ritualistic way that seems to indicate fey. Yet, many want to blame the werewolves as the ones responsible. At the same time, Mercy’s step-daughter Jesse is having a tough time at school due to her father being one of the public faces of the now “out” werewolves, and this new development makes things even worse.

Credit Patricia Briggs, Rik Hoskin, Tom Garcia/Dynamite Entertainment

The story is 6 issues long and is most easily purchased as a trade paperback in either digital or physical form.

This is actually one of my favorite stories set in the Mercy Thompson world (in any format). The story is well told. Mercy and her husband Adam are legitimately interesting characters and Jesse, a character we have seen grow up in the books gets to shine in this story and shows how much she has evolved since the beginning of the series. Also, the stories villain, the Hopcross Jilly, is legitimately disturbing and that sense of creepiness has stuck with me. Needless to say, I highly recommend it!  

There are other comics set in these worlds. All of The Dresden File comics are canon. The Mercy Thompson ones are canon with and Asterix.

Hopcross Jilly is unequivocally canon. However, in the case of the Mercy Thompson graphic novel Homecoming, which serves as a prequel to Moon Called, Briggs has stated that because of the comic book format she has modified some small parts of the story. In Moon Called, we learn from dialog and flashbacks how Mercy came to live in Washington State and how she became a mechanic. Homecoming is that story explicitly being told.  Small details like how Mercy got her cat were modified. Briggs notes how “comic Mercy” and “book mercy” are slightly different, and this extends to the adaptations of the books into graphic novels. She again states that the changes were made to streamline the story and better “show” the story in the comic book format. To me that means aside from these slight changes to help tell the story within the medium, these are the same characters from the books.

Credit Patricia Briggs, David Lawrence, Francis Tsai, Amelia Woo/Dynamite Entertainment

Interestingly, All these comics are published by the same studio, Dynamite Entertainment.

Dynamite seems to specialize in these crossover properties. Currently, on their website, they are advertising a Song of Ice and Fire comic, a Robocop comic, a Xena comic and even a comic based on the Pathfinder tabletop world.  While all these crossover properties are very cool, I am still struck by the fact that Butcher and Briggs wrote their comics and made their comics part of the canon of their literary worlds.  


 


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Episode #25 | Stephen McCoy

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

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

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Connect with Stephen:

twitter  |  cxc profile   |   historicalperceptions.com


 

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Episode #23 – Julio Guerra

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

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

 

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Connect with Julio

Twitter  |  CXC Profile





 

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Episode #22 | Anthony Cleveland

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Comic Creator Anthony Cleveland

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

We’re getting personal and awesome up in the Podcast this week with Comic creator Anthony Cleveland. We chat about Anthony’s creation process and you have to tune to hear how he funded his latest comic book project, Silver Skin. It’ll make you lol!
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Connect with Anthony Cleveland 

Twitter  |   Website





 

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Episode #20 | Thom Burgess

On this weeks episode of “Adventures in Interviewing” Chris Hendricks interviews Thom Burgess. Writer of dark shadowy things, creator of Ghoster, The Eyrie, Malevolents and Hallows Fell.

Let’s get creepy with Thom, find out what makes a great horror story, how to build a ghost and learn more about this terrifying and darkly beautiful comic creator from another realm. Well, the UK. BOO!
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Connect with Thom Burgess

Twitter  |   Website





 

 

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Rick Osowski | Episode #16

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Rick Osowski | Inside the Mind of a Super Fan

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

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

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

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



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Nick Johnson – Comicbook Illustrator and Creator | Episode #13

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.

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Connect with Nick and Buy his stuff using the links below:

Twitter  |  nickj.ca  |  @nicksoup  |  The ComixShop of NICK JOHNSON




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Podcast Episode #11 – Lance Lucero & Adam Volle: Creators of BOB Non-Union Psychic

Episode #11 – Interview with Lance Lucero & Adam Volle

On this episode, Leigh chats with 2 parts of the creative super team creating the Indie Comic masterpiece, BOB: NON-UNION PSYCHIC
We find out how this team found each other, what BOB is about, how it was created and we also learn why you should mess with Lance and Adam! Join us for some laughs and great lessons in comicbook creation and we’re not kidding when we say these two should be teaching master classes. What a pleasure to have them on!

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Connect with Lance and Adam using the links below:

Adam Twitter  | cxc profile:  @warehouse9   |  Warehouse 9 twitter   |   warehouse9pro.com


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



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Podcast Episode #10 – Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave! Let’s Talk to the Godfather of British Comics, Pat Mills.

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.

 

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Connect with Pat and purchase a copy of Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave! with the links below:

twitter  |  millsverse.com


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



 

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Review: The Legend Of Pinky #1

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Review  |   The Legend Of Pinky #1   |   Carbon Age Comics  |   Written and Illustrated by: Craig Johnson II |  Reviewer: Rob Wrecks  |

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


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





 

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Episode #9 – Comicbook Creator Jeff Haas

Episode #9 – Let’s Meet Comicbook Creator Jeff Haas

On this episode, Chris Hendricks interviews Jeff Haas, one-half of the super Father/Son Comic creating duo behind Nighmare Patrol. Listeners might also know Jeff from his writing on Sanctus!

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

 



 

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

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

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

1. Study the structure.

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

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

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


3. Don’t worry about writing in order.

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

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

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

5. Be prepared to spend some money.

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

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

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

7. Keep your stories small.

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

8. Finish It!

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

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

Twitter   |  actionlabcomics.com





 

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Episode #8 – up close and personal with Nick Gonzo

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.


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



 

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When Artists Hire Artists- The Business of Storytelling

gamal hennessey

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.


Your World:

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

Your Shield:

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.

Payment:

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

Indemnification:

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.

Your Reputation:

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.

Have fun.

Gamal

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 gamalhennessy@gmail.com FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.

Judge Dredd Image Credit Magnetic 007 At Deviant Art





 

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CXC PodCast Episode #5 – Creating a Comic Universe and ROAD HOUSE. Let’s Talk to Justin Bartz!

 INTERVIEW WITH JUSTIN BARTZ

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

[podbean resource=”episode=it5zx-7e9a41″ type=”audio-rectangle” height=”100″ skin=”1″ btn-skin=”108″ share=”1″ fonts=”Helvetica” auto=”0″ download=”0″ rtl=”0″]

To find our more and connect with Justin:

Twitter    |   Project Shadow Breed ComixShop  |    DimThroat Comics


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

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

comic book review arkade

Art

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

Story

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

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

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

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




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The Eyrie: Midnight Walk on the Beach  

the eyrie comic book review

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





 

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Just DO the work.

comic book motivation

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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