2016 in Preview: Symptoms

Last month I talked a bit about a new series I have in the pipeline, detailing the process which will soon lead to me unleashing the wacky science action/comedy Edison #1 (with Giovanni Capurro and Andrew Pate) on the public. (Read that here.) And while new miniseries are fun and whatnot, I wanted to spotlight a short story which will see release later this year.

I try to be selective with my anthology submissions. There are a ton out there, but you don’t want to over-saturate the market or take up real estate where other creators may be able to shine. I like to pitch or submit to collections that have a cool idea/theme, talented creators involved or are backed by a good publisher. All three? Even better.

2015 saw my work published in two anthologies — the Li’l Kaiju antho from GrayHaven Comics, where my short Monster Day (with Randy Z. Ochoa and Jeremy Treece) was the lead story, and the Lost In Space antho from Titan Comics, where my short Adrift (with artist Alex Diotto) also served as lead.

While both collections were very cool, I wanted to seek out an opportunity to do something that was a little more… how do you say… ballsy.

Enter Symptoms.

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Though I’ve sort of pigeon-holed myself over the past few years as the “funny guy” (which I’m proud of… and is infinitely better than being called the “funny-looking guy”) I like to step outside the box when Mercury is in retrograde and the mood strikes.

Running across a superhero-themed anthology online, I was immediately struck with a vivid idea. Normally I steer as far away from superheroics as possible, as those types of stories seem futile when going up against the established heavyweights that Marvel and DC have to offer. But to build a world, a hero and a different perspective across just a few pages? Irresistible.

It’s like jumping into an icy cold lake, then climbing back out and running inside where it’s warm and there’s hot chocolate waiting. With mini marshmallows. You did it once and survived… so maybe don’t tempt fate.

I had my idea… my take… my view…

I didn’t want to be saving damsels in distress with my story. I didn’t want to pull cats out of trees. I didn’t want a nerdy kid to be emotionally scarred with a distorted definition of responsibility when his uncle dies.

Symptoms is about a hero who finds himself losing his powers.

I wanted to explore what thoughts that might trigger inside the brain of someone who goes from powerful to powerless. From top banana to bottom water chestnut. From extraordinary to ordinary.

I went on an artist hunt, talking with several talented people hungry to collaborate, but the search was over as soon as I met Kansas-dwelling Graeham Jarvis, the artist and author of the popular InstaGram webcomic Wasteland Tales, based on the lore of the Fallout video game series (which I regretfully know nothing about, but I know talent when I see it).

With more than 4,000 readers visiting his feed daily I felt bad asking him to focus his energies elsewhere for a hot minute, but his art was too good and too perfect for what I had in mind. Plus, he was looking for a chance to stretch his wings a bit. How could I say no when he offered to draw the story?

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After jamming out some sketches of giant robots and superhero costumes (necessities), Graeham dove in and delivered a short that punched me in the gut and didn’t apologize afterwards. Since the proposed anthology is black and white, a wash of gray set the tone and we were off to the races. Graeham’s work conveyed the exact vibe I was hoping to present and stuck what I thought could be a tricky ending, leaving the reader to consider the story long after the pages were turned.

We submitted to the anthology several weeks ago and got a rather quick letter of acceptance. I’m pretty sure this is going to be Graeham’s first officially published work. Needless to say, I’m stoked for him. Hopefully we’ll get to high five one day at a comic convention.

I’m jazzed for people to read Symptoms, see Graeham’s art, and I look forward to reading the other shorts chosen for the book. It’s gonna be super.

Stay tuned. This one drops in November.

Monster Day now in print!

Last year I contributed to another anthology from the fine folks over at GrayHaven Comics, and today the book has finally hit the shelves.

LilKaijuCover2Consider picking up the new Li’l Kaiju anthology, an all ages comic, which features the work of some awesome and talented folks. My story is a 4-page short called Monster Day, which features art by Randy Z. Ochoa and colors by Jeremy Treece. The book was edited by James O’Callaghan and the steadfast Erica Heflin, one of the nicest people in indie comics.

Monster Day tells the story of what happens when instead of a snow day, students at an elementary school experience their first monster day. Much hilarity ensues.

Forget for one moment that I have a story in this collection… you’ll also get tales by my pals Chip Reece and Marc Lombardi and a cover by Donal Delay (who contributed a great Unit 44 pinup that appeared in the back of issue #3).

How could you pass this up?

I’ve read a few of the stories and I think this volume will really shine. I’m looking forward to grabbing the finished product.

Get your hands on a print copy of this 33-page collection for just $3.99 over at the GrayHaven Comics webstore.

Grab some other books while you’re there. You can’t go wrong. (If it helps, I also contributed shorts to their Public Domain, Spies, Survival, Crime and Sci-Fi 2 anthologies.)

Comics!!

Monster Day update #3

That’s a wrap on my short, MONSTER DAY, with art by Randy Z. Ochoa and some slick new colors from Jeremy Treece!

The all ages short, which will appear in early 2015 in GrayHaven Comics’ LIL KAIJU anthology, has been approved and begins its process from our screens to print.

Based on the preview art that I’ve seen for this edition, it’s shaping up to be an amazingly awesome volume, spearheaded by Editor-in-Chief Erica J. Heflin. She’s brought on some amazing talent and I hope that any of you comic book readers with kids will consider picking it up for them. I’m proud of the short we contributing and I’m impressed with the creative team for both their timeliness and professionalism. It was my first time working with Randy and Jeremy, and I can’t wait to do so again.

For those writers or artists looking to get some work published, I can’t say enough good things about working with GrayHaven. Artists — send them your portfolios and consider doing a few free shorts for one of their anthologies. Writers — send their pitches their open submission periods (coming again in September). If you truly want to make comics, then even tackling a 3-5 page short will help you understand and respect what goes into the craft. You’ll work with supportive and amazing people and you’ll treasure the print versions you ultimately get to hold in your hands.

Until the LIL KAIJU volume debuts, here’s a final sneak peek at the panel I teased last update…but in color!

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Monster Day update #2

Previously, I teased some of artwork from Randy Z. Ochoa on our 4-page short, MONSTER DAY, for release next year in GrayHaven Comics’ LIL KAIJU anthology.

Though Randy has completed his art for the short and I was able to letter them up, we recently received some great news from the publisher. Due to recent success on a GrayHaven Kickstarter campaign, word came down from on high that this particular issue will be printed in color, so we’re super excited to bring our all-ages adventure to life with a new dimension of flair.

Color wunderkind Jeremy Treece will be lending his talents to the art and we look to have everything submitted by the end of September. Based on some other preview art I’ve seen from this anthology, it’s going to be a ton of fun, and something I would buy even if I wasn’t directly involved. Keep an eye out for it!

Take a sneak peek at a panel from the (currently) black and white short below, and know that next time you see it, it’ll be presented in technicolor!

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We’ve also gotten a sneak peek at the work in progress cover for the anthology with art by Donal DeLay.

Monster Day update #1

I’m excited to announce yet another upcoming project slotted for release in 2015.

The fine folks over at GrayHaven Comics have been good to me. In 2012, I first contributed a 5-pager to the crime edition of THE GATHERING anthology series and since then, I’ve had shorts published in their sci-fi 2, spies, and public domain editions. Additionally, I’ll have a short published later this year in their Survival-themed book and in 2015 I’ll be contributing to their Noir and Terrible Jobs editions.

There’s another book being released next year that I had the opportunity to pitch on that I’m really excited about. The publisher will  release a collection of all-ages stories about Kaiju monsters, appropriately titled, Lil Kaiju. I mean seriously…how cool is that?

Thinking back on my own youth, I really wanted the opportunity to write something for a younger audience and thanks to the grace of editor Erica Heflin (writer of such fine books as Mother and Son from GrayHaven and Wonderland from Zenescope), I was recruited to try my hand. For this 4-page short I teamed up with Randy Z. Ochoa who is doing a phenomenal job bringing the script to life.

You’ve heard of snow days and hurricane days, but what happens when your school announces a monster day?

We’ll be showing you soon!

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