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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

GrayHaven Comics sale

One of my favorite indie publishers, GrayHaven Comics, is having a huge sale in their web store and you should totally take advantage of their generosity.

In addition to helping more than 200 writers, artists, colorists and letterers get their start in the comic book biz, they’re practically giving away books and you can pick up some of my published comics work for very cheap!

Check out what they’re offering!

The Gathering: Crime – 32 pages for just $0.99!
Crime was one of the most requested themes for an anthology and GrayHaven heard the call! This volume features my 5-page short, YOU MAY ALREADY BE A WINNER with art by Jacob Warrenfeltz.
Get it here: www.grayhavencomics.com/comics/the-gathering-crime/

The Gathering: Sci-Fi 2 – 38 pages for just $0.99!
This was the follow up to one of the publishers most successful anthologies and features my 3-page comic, TIMELESS, with art by Michael Nigro and letters by Amanda Kent.
Get it here: www.grayhavencomics.com/comics/the-gathering-sci-fi-2/

The Gathering: Spies – 36 pages for just $0.99!
The Spies edition of the long running Gathering anthology covers the quiet to the fanciful and all areas in between in the world of espionage. The volume features my 3-page short COMPROMISED with art by Tomas Witaz.
Get it here: www.grayhavencomics.com/comics/the-gathering-spies/

The Gathering: Public Domain – 32 pages for $1.99!
For years, hundreds of creators have come to The Gathering to tell tales of their original characters but in this volume they put their spin on existing characters in the public domain. The volume features my 4-page Robin Hood story HOODWINKED with art by Kristian Rossi.

In case you weren’t counting, that’s 138 pages of comics (and 15 pages of Wes-written comics) for just $5!

Looking to bulk up your cart a little bit more? You can’t go wrong with any of the books the publisher has to offer, but MOTHER AND SON, SPARKS and LIVING WITH DEATH all get my seal of approval!

Act fast as the sale will only last a little bit longer!

“Hoodwinked” now in print!

I was on the receiving end of a pleasant surprise yesterday when I found out that a 4-page comic I wrote last year had finally been published!

PublicDomain_Cover-thumbIn April of 2013, hot off the completion of my crime-fiction comic book CHAMBERS, artist Kristian Rossi and I teamed up again for the short after I had a pitch accepted for an upcoming anthology from GrayHaven Comics. The theme for this particular collection was Public Domain, allowing writers and artists to tackle preexisting characters, the rights to which were openly available to anyone.

After doing some research on which characters would be available to me, I quickly narrowed my choices to two. Growing up, I was always fascinated by rogues — those charismatic characters who had their own ideals and agendas and marched to the beat of their own drums. At first, I considered doing a Zorro story, but after looking further into him, I found that there were some ongoing legal battles surrounding who actually owned the character. Not wanting to get involved in that mess, I ended up going with my plan B… the rogue known as Robin Hood.

After choosing my character, it was a matter of putting some type of spin on the story that I hadn’t seen before. I’m happy with direction I went and even more thrilled that Kristian liked it enough to put it on paper. We took an age-old story of robbing to the rich and giving it to the poor and slapped a fresh coat of paint over it by bringing the character to modern day New York City.

That idea turned into HOODWINKED.

Hood-snipIf you have any familiarity with the work Kristian and I have collaborated on prior to this, then you’re in for some fun Easter eggs as well.

You can get your hands on the book by clicking here or on the cover image above. You’ll be treated to 32 pages of B&W fun for just $3. I don’t even know what other characters are featured in the book, but based on the talent involved, I have no doubts that it’s going to be amazing. You’ll get a story from the DEADHORSE team of Eric Grissom and Phil Sloan and the volume was expertly edited by Glenn Matchett, who recently released two mystery comics, LIVING WITH DEATH and SPARKS, that I can’t recommend highly enough.

While on the GrayHaven site, consider picking up some of their other wonderful anthologies and ongoing titles. I also have stories featured in the Crime, Sci-Fi 2 and Spies volumes, should you need some recommendations.

A big thanks goes out to the GrayHaven team for their support of both independent comics and up-and-coming creators. I’m happy to report that they’ll publish another short of mine later this year in their Survival-themed anthology as well as three other stories planned for 2015 collections.

Hoodwinked Update #3

I’m happy to report that the finished pages for my public domain story, HOODWINKED, were approved and delivered to the publisher a week or so ago.

It was another awesome experience working with Kristian Rossi and from pitch approval to completed letters we had a one month turnaround on the four-page project. Not bad for a story that won’t even be published until January 2014!

I worked with editors Marc Lombardi and Glenn Matchett over at GrayHaven Comics and they were wonderful with shepherding the submission through the pipeline and providing constructive feedback along the way. I look forward to working with them again in the future!

For now, as we wait patiently for the The Gathering: Public Domain anthology to be released, here’s a final look at some finished and lettered art.

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Hoodwinked Update #2

This week I received the final art for my four page Public Domain short, HOODWINKED.

Artist Kristian Rossi added some amazing inks and gray tones over his pencil work and this comic is primed and ready for the finishing touches. Kristian’s style is perfect for a gritty black and white tale and I’m happy to expose more of his talent with each passing collaboration.

The GrayHaven Comics editorial team as approved the art and I’ll soon dive into lettering the piece and doing print-prep.

This short was also on the receiving end of a name change that I felt better suited the story and its material and is a much more accurate representation of the personality you’ll see from it.

Hoodwinked will be published by GrayHaven Comics in their Public Domain anthology, due out in January of 2014. Good things come to those who wait!

For now, check out a preview of the finished inks!

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