2015 in Review

Hello?

Is this thing on?

Things got a bit quiet around these parts following October. It’s interesting how the busier I get, the less time is available to post about the things that are going on. It’s a vicious circle as my time constantly eats its own tail like some sort of insatiable beast.

As end of the year lists start appearing on news sites and fellow creatives look back at what they’ve accomplished over the past 365, I allow myself to join in not only share what I’ve accomplished this year with readers, but also to remind myself to celebrate those accomplishments, no matter how large or small.

Each year, my goals for writing are simple: Produce more and better content than the previous year.

I’m happy to report that I continued doing just that for a third year running.

A huge thank you to YOU if you purchased/read (hopefully both) any of the stories I discuss below. If you haven’t, perhaps you’ll see something that piques your interest. Fear not, I’ve conveniently added links to where you can purchase all comics mentioned in the format (print/digital) of your choosing.

So what did I release this year? Let’s dive back into the year that was 2015.

Unit 44

Published digitally in issues March-June, and as a collected edition in September.

Having successfully released a miniseries or graphic over 2013 (Chambers) and 2014 (The Undoubtables), it was a personal goal to have another series hit shelves in 2015. After a wonderful showing on Kickstarter, co-creator/artist Ed Jimenez and I were able to bring our sci-fi/comedy Unit 44 to completion and we launched the 4-issue series digitally in March backed by indie publisher Alterna Comics.

Unit44_CollectedEdition_Cover_Mid

Our silly tale about inept Area 51 employees who forget to pay the rent of the facility’s off-site storage unit leaving the secret contents to be sold at public auction brought a ton of laughs to readers and the reviews were both plentiful and generous.

Through this comic I explored one of my favorite topics (Area 51) got to employ a ton of deadpan humor, sarcasm and got to write rednecks, which is always a blast. Ensuring the comic was funny while still telling a gripping narrative was a challenge, but one I feel we handled gracefully.

Unit 44 was a joy on so many levels to work on. It connected me with Ed, who has since become a good friend and constant collaborator, had great marketing support from Alterna Comics publisher Peter Simeti and has sold like gangbusters at conventions because, let’s be honest, even the logline for this book makes people chuckle.

I’ve always enjoyed comics infused with comedy and to be able to leave a mark on that genre alone was worth all the hard work that went into creating the series. It was also the first project where two creators handled everything. Ed handled the art and colors while I took charge on the writing and lettering. We made the exact book we wanted to, never compromising. And to top it all off, Unit 44 is actually making money. Ed and I won’t be retiring anytime soon, but it’s nice to get a little kickback here and there and see the fruits of your labor, y’know?

While the current project I’m working on is always my favorite, Unit 44 just might be the first comic I can still read now and not see everything wrong with it. That’s gotta mean something, right?

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We’re still hoping to get this book into print at some point, going through the Diamond Previews catalog and into shops, but the more we sell, the sooner that dream can become a reality. If you read the series and liked it, tell a friend!

Sound like fun? Purchase Unit 44: ComiXology

Monster Day

Published in print and digital formats in June.

A lesson I learned this year is that all ages comics can be fun. Despite Unit 44’s cartoony art style, the humor was more geared toward adults,

but when I found out my pitch had been accepted to GrayHaven ComicsLi’l Kaiju anthology, I was excited to write something for a younger crowd.

Now, I don’t have kids nor do I have any desire to do so, but I was in the third grade when I discovered comic books, so when writing something that would be accessible, fun and cool to kids, one can’t help but think about a story that could be someone’s first.

The 4-page story I concocted for the collection explored what would happen when school was canceled due to a monster day, rather than a snow day (for my friends up north) or a hurricane day (for my readers in the south). What artist Randy Z. Ochoa and colorist Jeremy Treece and I ended up with is a charming little tale about one boy’s unlikely relationship with that monster.

The story looked great both in print and digitally and I was further humbled that the tale was used as the lead story in the anthology. If you have a younger sibling who likes monsters and that you’d like to introduce to comics, this could be the entryway you’re looking for. This volume is packed with cute little stories about some big bad creatures. Big thanks to editor Erica J. Heflin and the art team for bringing this one to life.

YIP_Mons

Do the Monster Mash by purchasing the Li’l Kaiju anthology: Print | ComiXology

Adrift

Published as a free digital download through ComiXology in June.

In 2014 I went out on a limb and entered the Titan Comics Undiscovered Talent Competition. The publisher was seeking short comics, 4-6 pages in length with a science fiction setting. The official prompt was “Lost in Space.” The contest was run by both the UK publisher and the organizers of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival.

LostInSpaceTitan2015Not really expecting anything I wrote my script and put a shout out into the internet void looking for an artist to collaborate with as the competition started gaining some buzz. I found interest from Italian artist Alex Diotto, whose previous works include Southern Dog at Action Lab and Mayday at Black Mask Studios, and over the course of a month we nailed down a 4-page story about astronauts who were…you guessed it…lost in space.

Instead of doing something dramatic we put a humorous spin on the whole thing crafting a comic that not only met the guidelines of the contest, but was appropriate for all ages. Then we forgot about it.

In September of 2014 we were notified that our story was one of the winning entries and that we’d be included in the anthology. I gotta say, that was pretty cool. I’m one of the people who never wins anything, so I guess my universal karma has been settled with this publication (goodbye Publishers Clearing House).

The comic was unleashed for free via ComiXology in 2015, coinciding with the next edition of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. It features six fun space-themed shorts and a wonderful cover by UK art superstar Sean Phillips!

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If you haven’t checked this out, go enjoy it (for free). You may notice that Alex and I even have the lead story! How about that?

Get lost in your space: FREE on ComiXology

Hipsters Vs. Rednecks

HvR_Cover_web_thumbPublished digitally in print/digital in September and via ComiXology in December.

During the beginning part of 2015, artist Tyler Kelting and I were knee-deep in creating the most ridiculous thing either of us had every done. I mean, it seemed like a good idea at the time, and truth be told… we had a lot of fun.

And to me, that’s what my year in 2015 was all about — having fun with comics.

It bears noting that addition to Unit 44 and HvR I actually penned three other comedy-focused miniseries that are either at various stages of production or awaiting the right artist to bring them to life.

I’m not sure if you noticed, but there was a lot of bad stuff happening in the world this year and my comics writing definitely took a turn to the light side. I had enough “gritty,” enough “street level” and enough realism. I wanted to escape through my work. More importantly, I wanted to laugh.

And laugh I did.

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Hipsters Vs. Rednecks is the story of an outsider, Sloane, who, following the apocalypse, finds herself caught in the middle of an ongoing war between the remaining two factions… the hipsters and the rednecks. Taken in by the hipster clan just as they suffer their biggest attack to date, Sloane must take a stand if she hopes to make it out of New Brooklyn alive.

How could you not want to read something so silly and irreverent?

Purchase to see who wins the apocalypse: Print | Digital

The Temporal

tempcovertest - thumbPublished digitally via ComiXology in September.

I went pretty in-depth on this title with a post back in September when the one-shot hit ComiXology. If you’re super curious about it, check that out by clicking here.

This fun 32-page, black and white sci-fi/time travel one-shot (yes, that’s a mouthful) was the first project that brought me together with artist Kristian Rossi, who also provided art for the short Hoodwinked (GrayHaven Comics, 2014) and my crime-fiction miniseries Chambers (Arcana Studios, 2013).

Though we had completed the book and I’d lettered it (several times, in fact, as I learned the craft) I’d always hoped to get the book colored prior to release. I ended up printing a few black and white copies for a convention and they sold really well. Not only did they sell, I got great feedback from readers and people really seemed to be digging the black and white approach to the story.

When you get feedback like that, how can you not want to distribute something to a wider audience? I made the book available on ComiXology for just $0.99 in order to make it super accessible and based on the few royalty payments I’ve seen, people are actually checking it out.

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Plus… who doesn’t love time travel??

Unlike some, this tale of unstable time won’t leave you with a headache. Well, at least I don’t think it will. I could be wrong.

Turn back time by purchasing: Print | ComiXology

Obligatory wrap-up paragraphs

See? It was one heck of a year.

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted.

Now, if I were neurotic or some kind of super-dork (or a neurotic super-dork), I might show you how I tracked not only the number of pages I wrote this year, but also how many were published. Heck, if I were super geeky I might even show you how those numbers stacked up against past years.

Thankfully, I’m not like that.

Hah! Fooled ya!

By the Numbers

Pages written in 2011: 223
Pages written in 2012: 473
Pages written in 2013: 267
Pages written in 2014: 352
Pages written in 2015: 318

And how about pages published?

Pages published in 2011: 0
Pages published in 2012: 3
Pages published in 2013: 119
Pages published in 2014: 147
Pages published in 2015: 157

If I were a numbers person, which I am not, these numbers might indicate a modicum of success over the past year. While the number of pages written is slightly down (I’m stressing quality over quantity) I was able to publish 10 more pages of work in 2015 than I did the previous year. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

If you picked up any of the comics listed above (or any from 2012-2014) please know that I appreciate your support!

For my next post:

2016 in Preview

Stay tuned for what’s on the horizon in the new year.

Hipsters Vs. Rednecks lands on ComiXology!

HvR_Cover_web_thumbAfter debuting in September in print and as a PDF download, Hipsters Vs. Rednecks, my 24-page comedy one-shot co-created with artist Tyler Kelting landed today on the ComiXology platform!

Get it right here for just $1.99: www.comixology.com/Hipsters-Vs-Rednecks-1/digital-comic/313537

If you’re in the mood for some laughs, then this might just be the perfect holiday gift for yourself or a friend.

HvR is the story of an outsider, Sloane, who, following the apocalypse, finds herself caught in the middle of an ongoing war between the remaining two factions… the hipsters and the rednecks. Taken in by the hipster clan just as they suffer their biggest attack to date, Sloane must take a stand if she hopes to make it out of New Brooklyn alive.

Here’s what the reviewers thought of HvR:

“If you don’t absolutely love this comic, you are a fool” – ComicsBastards.com

“Seriously, Hipsters vs Rednecks is Adult Swim at its best. More to the point, Hipsters vs Rednecks is what Adult Swim SHOULD be doing.” – ComicsOnline.com

“Read it now so you can tell everyone you knew about it before it was cool.” – ScreenGonzo.com

“If the idea behind this one shot comic sounds even remotely interesting to you, then you should be thinking about reading this comic; it’s a fun look at what could be a disastrous future should these two factions remain in order to rebuild the human race.” – GraphicPolicy.com

I was worried this might be sort of a one-note joke, which wouldn’t be so bad for a one-shot comic, so I’m glad it was actually a pretty damn funny book.” – TheGravyAge.com

This comic is a quick, irreverent read that’s sure to make anyone who rolls their eyes at hipsters or rednecks laugh until it hurts.

Look at it this way… the more copies we sell, the higher the potential for a sequel, so do Tyler and I a solid and help spread the word!

The Temporal – Now on ComiXology!

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”  – Leonardo da Vinci

Today sees the digital release of my sci-fi comic book The Temporal!

While I’ve been selling this 32-page one-shot at conventions for the past few months, I finally decided to toss it up on ComiXology for just $0.99 and make it accessible to the masses.

The Temporal, with art by Kristian Rossi, is the story of a young scientist who is contracted by the U.S. Military to crack the secrets of time travel. But before he hands the project over to the military, he just needs to make one small adjustment to his past. And of course, that’s where things go bonkers.

This comic book has kind of a neat story behind it and I wanted to share it. Besides, this is my websites, so I have carte blanche to do whatever I want.

Want to hear a secret? The Temporal was actually one of my first comics I made.

Pause for dramatic effect. Cut to reaction shot.

Despite the fact that in our present day it is the year 2015 (I’m serious, check a calendar), this comic book has been complete since 2012.

Temporal_pg01In fact, this is the project that originally brought me together with Argentinian artist Kristian Rossi. I was advertising online for someone to draw my time travel comic and as luck would have it, Kristian was looking to get hired to make a comic book. He was kind enough to read over the script he agreed to come aboard for the one-shot and over the course of several months in 2011 we put the thing together.

Right as we finished The Temporal I got word that my crime-fiction miniseries Chambers had been greenlit for publication by Arcana Studio. In a spin of bad luck, the original artist who had done the pitch pages and was attached to the book dropped out. Don’t you hate it when that happens? It was up to me to find a replacement or put the project on the shelf. Working with Kristian had been such a positive experience–super professional, super nice, super talented–so I pitched him the 4-issue miniseries to see if it would be up his alley.

Kristian already had a great dark, noirish style, which was a perfect match for Chambers and after reading the scripts he did a test page to show the publisher he could handle completing the book from the ground up. Between you, me and the walls, the pages Kristian produced knocked the former artist out of the water. He brought this great cinematic eye to the world and I’m still super proud of the series, which came out in 2013.

As a side note, Kristian also helped me through one of the toughest parts of Chambers… the ending. If you’ve read the comic (and if you haven’t, do us both a solid and check it out) you may be aware that it has a whopper of an ending. It was an ending I worried might not be the right one. When I brought up the idea of changing it, Kristian told me that when he read the original scripts the ending gave him chills. Chills! We kept it. And I’m glad we did.

Temporal_pg02With time, budgets and energies being put into Chambers over the course of 2012/2013, The Temporal had to take a back seat. Kristian had penciled and inked all 32 pages and I had every intention of getting it colored, but the funds to do so constantly went toward other things. Once Chambers had wrapped I dove into The Undoubtables. Once that wrapped I was knee-deep in Unit 44. It was quickly becoming apparent that, must to my dismay, The Temporal was going to stay on the shelf for some time. Other things were cooking and since the stove was hot I had to keep putting on the Jiffy Pop. That’s a weird analogy, right there.

Then something interesting happened… as reviews started to come in for Chambers, a recurring theme from the reviewers bubbled to the surface… many offered that Kristian’s line work was strong and could likely stand on its own without color. Several reviewers said they would have loved to have read the crime series in black and white.

As I thought back on that a few months ago, it hit me… here I was just sitting on The Temporal… a Kristian Rossi goldmine of black and white comic pages. While the story is from early in my career, rather than hold the book hostage in a closet, I should put it out there to let fans of time travel stories enjoy the narrative and allow them to appreciate Kristian’s art.

Temporal_pg03While I would have loved to see the book in color, I think the comic is a great representation of two youthful creators who are made something together while having a whole lot of fun. It’s like with rock music… a band has their entire life to write their first album and only two years to write the second. This is why the first album is always favored in the long run: they don’t know the rules. More importantly, they don’t care about the rules.

So it’s done. The Temporal is out today on ComiXology for anyone who would like to give it a read. I owe a lot to the experience of making it.

Look at it this way… without The Temporal there would be no Chambers. Without Chambers, no Undoubtables. No Unit 44. No Hipsters Vs. Rednecks. It’s the butterfly effect in action.

I spent two years working with Kristian and he’s an awesome friend and collaborator. Go enjoy his talents and hard work then give him an e-high five. The dude’s amazing.

Interview: The Gravy Age Podcast

It was a busy last few weeks!

A few days after stopping by the Vodka O’Clock podcast I also appeared on The Gravy Age Podcast where I chatted with my pal Kris about my silly new comic book Hipsters Vs. Rednecks!

We also got into some discussion about the past, present and future of digital comics, how everyone on the internet is mad about something new each week and writing humor while not potentially offending readers.

I appreciate Kris taking time out of his busy schedule to chat with my about the comic and I hope you’ll give our conversation a listen.

Kris was also kind enough to review the one-shot comic where he said, “For a book I was worried couldn’t sustain itself based on the concept initially, my biggest and only real complaint is, it’s over too soon.”

Listen to the show online by clicking here (interview starts around the halfway mark) or you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher Radio.

http://thegravyage.com/2015/09/21/tga-podcast-episode-0044-wes-locher-interview-and-more/

Interview: Vodka O’Clock Podcast

I recently returned to the Vodka O’Clock podcast to chat with host Amber Love about my comic Hipsters Vs. Rednecks, which she was nice enough to read, enjoy and suggest we talk about. It was my third or fourth visit to the show and as always, a great time was had. Here’s hoping I don’t wear out my welcome!

As happens when I chat with Amber, the conversation took a turn as we explored other nerdery including Star Wars, comic book conventions, cats and the current state off the comic book industry.

Want to take me on your commute? You can listen to the interview online by clicking here, or you can subscribe to the Vodka O’Clock podcast on iTunes or Stitcher Radio. Amber also has a Patreon page to support the production and maintenance of her wonderful show that helps shine the spotlight on writers, artists and creators, so if you don’t mind tossing her a few dollars to keep the show going I know she’d appreciate it (and so would I).

http://www.amberunmasked.com/ep1540-weslocher/