Unit 44 Graphic Novel in stores TODAY!

Head to your local comic shop to pick up a copy of the Unit 44 Graphic Novel, which hit stores TODAY from Alterna Comics.

Order Unit 44 @ Amazon.com
Order Unit 44 @ Target.com

SPOILER — this is a pretty big deal for me. This series came to life in 2014 from the germ of an idea that popped to mind after watching an episode of the TV reality show Storage Wars.

“What if Area 51 employees forgot to pay the rent on their storage unit, and the contents were sold at public auction?”

Enter my artist (and now good friend) Ed Jiménez, who came on board to bring the initial five pages of the series to life. From there, we went to Kickstarter, successfully funded the first issue and set about putting it out into the world. When none of the publishers we approached showed interest in a “funny” comic, we figured, “No big deal… we’ll publish this on our own!”

We decided we’d go BACK to Kickstarter, raise another couple thousand dollars and create issues 2-4. It just days before we launched that campaign that Alterna Comics messaged us and was like, “Hey, what are you planning to do with that silly Area 51 comic?”

Alterna offered to publish the issues digitally under their banner (which was awesome because they had a handful of comics that I genuinely loved) and from March – June 2015, we released the series on the ComiXology platform to some acclaim, some confusion, and lots of laughs.

In 2016, Alterna asked us if we’d like to consider releasing Unit 44 as a graphic novel to comic shops.

Sign us up.

Earlier in 2017 we did another Kickstarter, raised a bucket of money and today, the beautiful finished book arrived in comic shops. At least, the comic shops that ORDERED it.

If you go into your local store and you don’t see it, you can ask them to order the book by giving them this code: JUN171148

Give them the code, a thumbs up, and ideally, you’ll have the book next Wednesday. How cool is that?

A big thanks to all of you who supported the Unit 44 (in digital issues, on Kickstarter, at conventions, etc). I’m super proud of how the graphic novel came out. It’s the third collected edition I now have on my shelf (it sits beside the Chambers TPB and The Undoubtables OGN), and let me tell you… the book is BEAUTIFUL. Not only does it have an amazing layout created by Alterna’s head honcho Peter Simeti, but in addition to our 88-page story we’ve included a NEVER BEFORE SEEN 4-page backup comic and pinups from some of amazingly talented artists including Loch Ness (who’s drawing our upcoming comedy/action miniseries Bug Slugger XL), Graeham Jarvis (who’s drawing our upcoming sci-fi/comedy miniseries Awry), Jayson Kretzer (who’s maybe(?) still drawing our one-shot The Rocking Dead), and colorist Andrew Pate, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with on a whole bunch of books including the upcoming historical/comedy/action series, Edison).

So, what’s better than making a comic book with a good friend like Ed Jiménez and then inviting a bunch of your other friends to contribute art, all while putting the finished comic book on the world’s stage?

Today, there’s nothing better.

Order Unit 44 @ Amazon.com
Order Unit 44 @ Target.com

Free read: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

TMNT_Cover_thumbSince it’s always been a goal of mine to one day write licensed comics for various publishing houses, I made a New Year’s resolution for 2016 to write a few in my free time, set in worlds I enjoy, featuring familiar characters I dig.

After previously tackling the Battletoads in a 5-page comic (you know, that Nintendo video game from 1991?) I decided to turn my attention to the property that quite possibly had the biggest impact on me as a youngster.

That’s right… the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Regardless of how you might feel about recent movie interpretations of the classic characters, the bottom line is that the turtles have been on television in some form or fashion since I was three years old.

I watched the shows, bought the toys, loved the original movies (yeah, even the one with Vanilla Ice), and the mutants even served as my gateway to comics. I spent years picking up copies of the Amazing Adventures series at the drugstore from the spinner rack.

Oh, yeah… my parents even took me to meet the creators of the turtles, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. Not only did I meet them, Laird actually drew a sketch of Leonardo in two of the comics I brought along. I should probably track those down, huh?

Not only do the turtles mean a lot to me, but they mean a lot to artist Ed Jimenez, who I teamed up with for this comic. Remember Ed? He’s the crazy talented (crazy and talented?) guy created a little comic called Unit 44 with me. It came out last year. It was awesome. You should read it.

Ed gave me a list of villains he wanted to draw to choose from for the short, and what was intended as a five-page story quickly became six, and finally stabilized at eight as I wrote. It was just too much fun. I couldn’t stop. Ed and I strayed away from tackling a classic villain like Shredder and instead, went for an oddball character that just recently was reintroduced on television.

Not only do the turtles mean a lot to me and Ed, they also mean a lot to colorist Kote Carvajal who volunteered to bring his creativity to the pages. While I thought Ed’s pages and my writing were pretty good, Kote took the short to a whole new level. Wait ’til see it.

And while I’m fully aware that the turtles are well-represented in a licensed comic book right now, I wanted to bring my voice to the awesome foursome. So this is our little stamp. Our half-shelled homage to some of the best characters ever created.

So what are you waiting for? Click here to read my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic, Blood in the Water, for FREE!

If you enjoy it, do Ed, Kote and I a huge favor and share it with a friend! Let’s throw it back and soak in some nostalgia.

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?

FB_3

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!

YIP_Adrift

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.

HvR_prev3

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.

YIP_Temp

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.