2014 in review

Over my last few years in comics, I’ve really come to understand the idea of working ahead. This may come as a shock, but comic books don’t come together overnight. It takes man hours of pecking away at a keyboard for writers, many hours at the drawing board for artists, and many hours in front of Photoshop and Illustrator for colorists and letterers for even 22 meager pages to come together into a complete narrative. Even though everyone is working toward a common goal, it often takes a year (or more) from the day a project begins to when it sees the light of day (sometimes even longer if the project goes to print). What I’ve learned is that each year, you’re essentially working on what you hope and plan to see the light of day the following calendar year.

Though this year was small for me on the release side, 2014 brought several projects to the shelves that I was very proud of. Though they were completed over the course of 2013 (and some even 2012) I couldn’t be happier to watch them come to life as I worked on the comics that will ideally be thrust upon the world in 2015. (More on that later.)

Hoodwinked
Shortly after my crime-fiction miniseries Chambers (released in 2013 by Arcana Studio) was complete, artist Kristian Rossi and I started looking for something else to work on together. Indie publisher GrayHaven Comics, who has made a personal mission to promote up-and-coming creators, accepted my pitch for its The Gathering: Public Domain anthology. While I originally had dreams of writing a Zorro short, I instead went with Robin Hood and put my own twist on the classic tale by bringing the rogue into the present day of New York City, rather than keeping him in Sherwood Forest.

Because the comic would be printed in black and white, I envisioned the finished product as having a dark, gritty overtone and I pitched it to Kristian for consideration since his work on Chambers proved through and through that he was the man for the job. Thankfully, he was on board to draw the comic and we were off to the races. The final 4-page short was published in May. The 32-page anthology is still available in print for just $1.99.

YIR_1_Hoodwinked

The anthology features the talents of many up-and-comers along with Ray Goldfield, Kelly Williams, Eric Grissom and Phil Sloan, all of whom I really admire. You should check this collection out. It’s probably the best anthology I read all year.

The Undoubtables
After an extended gestation period my action/heist series The Undoubtables finally hit physical and digital shelves. The series had been picked up by UK publisher Markosia Enterprises near the beginning of 2012, and co-creator/artist Emre Ozdamarlar and I worked on this book for roughly two years. Emre was in comic art school throughout the process so it was a fascinating process to watch him apply what he learned as he continued through the book and he was able to truly come into his own by the time we reached the end. The project was colored by Kefas Armando, who had colored Chambers the previous year, and Kell Smith provided us with some wonderful colors on the cover.

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Originally pitched and picked up as a miniseries, The Undoubtables read much better as a standalone piece and thus the decision was made to translate it directly to graphic novel format. It wasn’t my call, and I didn’t agree with it at first, but I actually believe it’s better for it. The 88-page adventure about career thief Spencer “Spade” Shelton and his crew robbing banks while dodging deadly mobsters and evading police was published in July and is available not only in a beautiful paperback, but also through just about every digital retailer you can name. It was my love letter to the heist genre with a crew of colorful characters overcoming impossible odds and outsmarting their enemies. The OGN can be picked up ComiXology for just $4. It’s a steal! Pun totally intended.

The series received several really great reviews across the internet and readers really seemed to enjoy how much fun this comic is. From the time the book starts it’s a wild goose chase between cops, robbers and some unpredictable mobsters who aren’t afraid to pull a trigger. I can’t thank Emre enough for the time he spent drawing and inking this book and it’s a project I’ll always look back on fondly.

In the Drink
My final physical publication of the year was a 3-page short in The Gathering: Survival anthology called In the Drink. Yet another project for indie publisher GrayHaven Comics, my pitch was accepted by the book’s editor and I turned this project around super quick with the help of the ever-talented artist Robyn Seale and it was published in September. I enjoy contributing to anthologies because it typically allows me to experiment with ideas and concepts that I may not want to dedicate an entire series to. With Hoodwinked I was able to work with a public domain character while dramatically changing the setting, and I decided that for this tale I would write a comic short that was completely silent.

YIR_3_Drink

When there aren’t any words on the comic page, the artist must shoulder the load of telling the story and I think Robyn did an amazing job with translating my outline to the page. Even though this is one of the shortest comics I’ve ever written we were able to establish a beginning, middle and end and still leave the reader with an emotional gut-punch. My idea for a Survival-themed anthology was simple…what happens when two people involved in a car accident come face to face. And more importantly, what happens if that interaction takes place underwater.

At the time of this writing, I haven’t seen the finished anthology with my own eyes, but it’s available in print from GrayHaven for just $3.50 and contains nearly 40-pages of comics from upcoming creators.

Innovation
After starting my sci-fi web comic in November of 2013, I tried to keep the train rolling and since the project debuted online, myself and a rotating stable of very talented artists have delivered a new short comic each month. Though each installment is drawn by someone different, the narrative keeps going, constantly building upon itself and hopefully setting up quite a mystery for those who are actively reading it.

YIR_4_Inn

This year we published 52 pages of the comic online (that’s a page a week!) with plenty more still to come. I’m thankful that the participating artists have donated their time and talents to keeping the story going and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can finish out the first volume in 2015. A big thanks goes out to contributors Stan ChouDamon Threet, Crisuadi Crasmaru, Jay Hernandez, Paul McCallan, Harpreet Brar and Fludi Stohr for lending their talents, along with my pals Brad Burdick and J. Jacob Barker who contributed one-shots set in the same world.

So how does 2014 stack up in my comics career since I started writing funnybooks in 2011? Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Pages written in 2011: 223 (They weren’t very good)
Pages written in 2012: 473 (These were better!)
Pages written in 2013: 267 (These were publishable!)
Pages written in 2014: 352

And how about pages published?

Pages published in 2011: Zero. Zip. Zilch. None.
Pages published in 2012: 3
Pages published in 2013: 119
Pages published in 2014: 147

What’s that? Who keeps track of stats like that? Not me…that would…uh…that would be uber dorky.

Panama City Creative Con 2014 wrapup

A huge thank you goes out to Jayson Kretzer and the rest of the staff at the 2014 Panama City Creative Con held over the weekend at Gulf Coast State College.

I was fortunate enough to spend the day behind a table meeting area folks who shared a love of creativity of every shape, size and form. For a city without a big comic “scene,” people came out to spend the afternoon immersed in the culture and I appreciate everyone who stopped by my booth to chat or explore the books I had available for purchase.

An extra big thanks goes out to everyone who picked up a copy of Chambers, The Undoubtables, or Unit 44.

The fact that someone would spend their hard-earned money on something I created (along with some talented artists and colorists) means the world to me.

If you missed out on the event, I’ve restocked signed copies of Chambers, The Undoubtables trade paperbacks along with the self-published copies of Unit 44 issue #1 in my web store. Copies are very limited, so get ’em while they last!

Below is a photo of my booth from the event. It was my first chance to fly the banner designed by Unit 44 artist Eduardo Jimenez. Ed offered to draw the amazing image of our characters Gibson and Hatch to help promote our book. It was appreciated by many and I found it to be the perfect segue into telling passersby about our silly comic.

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Unit 44 – Coming this fall from Alterna Comics

Well, folks…we did it.

With the support of 94 amazing people, artist Eduardo Jimenez and I raised $2,800 via the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform to bring our sci-fi/comedy comic UNIT 44 to digital shelves this year from Alterna Comics.

In a campaign designed to provide strictly digital rewards, which helped us keep our asking amount very, very low, comic and humor fans still supported us in the endeavor and personally, I can thank everyone enough.

Art for issue #2 is complete and design on the interiors and back matter has begun. We hope to soon share a release date of when you’ll be able to pick up the book through ComiXology and other fine retailers. We’ll also be releasing a physical trade paperback in early 2015, so if you’re waiting until you can hold the book in your hands, it won’t be too long a wait!

I shared this with our Kickstarter backers, but it bears repeating…I wrote the story and script for UNIT 44 in November/December 2012, and nearly every day I have been thinking about the characters and their zany world. Words can’t describe what it means to finally be able to bring it to life in 2014.

U44_8.17.14

The Undoubtables to be published by Markosia Enterprises

At long last, an exciting announcement that I’ve been waiting on pins and needles to make…

My 4-issue action/heist comic book THE UNDOUBTABLES, co-created with artist Emre Ozdamarlar will be published by UK publisher Markosia Enterprises!

Our book just received a launch announcement over on their website and after more than two years of hard work, we’re excited for you to be able to read it.

The series will be published monthly via ComiXology in 2014 and once all four issues have been released, it’ll be collected into an 88-page physical trade paperback that you’ll be able to order at your local comic shop as well as a digital edition. We’ll announce firm release dates as soon as we have ’em!

What’s The Undoubtables about, you ask?

Spencer “Spade” Shelton and his rag-tag band of thieves, The Undoubtables, must outsmart the police and a crew of deadly mobsters if they hope to shake off the rust and pull off their latest heist.

Get ready to be introduced to Spade, Club, Diamond and Heart, a group of slick thieves who ooze personality. You’ll also meet some cops out to get their moment in the limelight and a handful of gangsters who don’t take kindly to being swindled. Like action, adventure, humor and some fun in your comics? This is a title you won’t want to miss.

The series boasts writing and letters from me, pencils and inks by Emre, interior colors by Kefas Armando and cover colors by Kell Smith. We had a fantastic team working on this book and I’m thankful to the folks over at Markosia for believing in our book and helping us bring it digital shelves.

And finally…at long last…we can show you art from the comic!

Take a gander at the cover below which will eventually find it’s way onto the trade paperback. I mean, c’mon…how awesome is that?

undoubtables-tradecover

 

 

Free Comic Book Day 2014

Each year since 2002, the first Saturday in May is also known as FREE COMIC BOOK DAY!

In an effort to thank current readers and draw in new ones, publishers big and small give out thousands of comics at shops across the world to show what this amazing medium is capable of. Whether readers are into superheroes, cartoons or fun indie books, there’s always something for everyone.

To further support the comic industry, many shops welcome creators, both big and small, to their shops for signings, commissions and meet and greets. I was lucky enough to have been invited to spend Free Comic Book Day with the fine folks at Arena Comics and Gaming in Panama City, FL.

I’ll be joining several other creators to celebrate the event and I’ll be selling copies of the CHAMBERS trade paperback as well as the first issue of UNIT 44! A little something for everyone!

If you’re in the area, come say hello this Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Central Time. Grab some free comics, take advantage of the store specials, and meet some folks who work hard to create the funny books.

FCBD2014