Innovation Update #24

My free sci-fi web comic INNOVATION returns with another installment!

We’re closing loops and opening new ones as Chapter 15: Endeavor continues events set in motion with chapter 12 and even calls back to certain moments that happened way back in chapter 3. Just what is in that briefcase that keeps popping up? I think it’s time to answer that question!

Art for this 5-page short was provided by the talented Fludi Stohr, someone I’ve invited to return to the Innovation world as often as he’d like.

Give Endeavor a read by clicking here or on the image below.

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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.

Innovation Update #23

Welcome to the final installment of my free web comic, INNOVATION, for 2015!

To date, myself and a slew of amazing artists have created and published 14 chapters (more than 60 pages) of a narrative about the R.D.S.L. Corporation, a group bent on pushing the limits of technology.

When we celebrated the one-year anniversary of the comic in November I decided to share with readers some one-shot stories written by friends of mine that were set in the Innovation universe, but acted as self-contained tales. Last month we posted “Infatuated” written by Brad Burdick with art by Djibril Morissette-Phan and to round out the year we’ve welcomed writer J. Jacob Barker and artist Nick Testa to share their 4-page tale “Delivery.”

Read their twisted tale for free by clicking here or on the image below!

If you dig the comic be sure to support both creators by reading their other comic book work. I appreciate both all the contributors so far for taking the time out of their busy schedules to contribute to this super fun project and for those who are regular readers of the web comic, you might just enjoy seeing what types of things are happening outside the walls of R.D.S.L.

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Innovation Update #22

Last month I celebrated a year of my web comic INNOVATION, in which I team up with a new artist for each 4-6 page installment as I weave a tale about R.D.S.L., a mysterious technology corporation who is innovating the world…whether we like it or not.

I’m lucky enough to know quite a few talented writers and artists and I thought it might be fun to invite some other folks to play in the Innovation sandbox and tell some original stories. I asked some pals if they’d be interested in writing a one-shot using the setting of world I’ve created to tell one-and-done stories, and thankfully, the idea was met with much enthusiasm!

To date I’ve posted 14 chapters (more than 60 pages) of the main narrative, but in November I decided to offer our readers a fun one-shot story written by Brad Burdick with art by Djibril Morissette-Phan. Enjoy their contribution to the Innovation-verse by reading their 6-page one-shot “Infatuated.” Click here or on the image below to read it for free!

If you dig the comic be sure to support both creators by reading their other comic book work. I appreciate both Brad and Djibril for taking the time out of their busy schedules to contribute to this super fun project and for those who are regular readers of the web comic, you might just enjoy seeing what types of things are happening outside the walls of R.D.S.L.

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A year in Innovation

Milestones are always fun. Today I get to celebrate one!

In November of 2013 I launched my black and white sci-fi webcomic project, INNOVATION and today I’m celebrating the 60+ pages of free comics that myself and a whole slew of talented artists have brought to the internet.

INNOVATION is the story of what happens when scientists at a Google-esque facility begin innovating our world…whether we want them to or not. As technology advances toward flawless operation in the fields of robotics, physics and quantum mechanics, the only thing that can’t be counted on are the humans who created it.

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The project received a shot of adrenaline to the heart in July of 2013 after I had written five short stories. These stories, while all separate, leaned toward the world of sci-fi in genre and each had a fun twist at the end. There was a moment where I decided to tie them all together and create a small universe of my own design. I took these stories, Curiosity, Intelligence, By Design, Compliance and another that, believe it or not, has yet to be drawn by an artist and created the connective tissue of Radical Development Scientific Laboratories, Inc. (R.D.S.L.) to tie them together.

There I was with five stories that stood alone but also interconnected creating a larger mythos in the background. From there I decided, based on those initial comics, which characters would best tell the story and begin writing each of their arcs while they intertwined with one another on occasion. The goal was that each 4-6 page short comic could be its own standalone sci-fi tale, but if someone hunkered down and read them all, they’d get a much larger tale. Because I planned to work with a different artist on each short, I made the decision to run the strips in a non-linear fashion. This forced me to ensure that each story was self-contained and gave me a major “moment” to work toward at the end of each comic. This isn’t rocket science, I know…but simply an interesting gestation process.

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As the shorts were drawn I started creating a reference library so incoming artists would have character and location designs to work with in order for everything to have a consistent look. For artists who hoped to one day work on licensed, pre-existing characters, I figured this was a great place for them to test their chops.

At first glance, the world of INNOVATION can look confusing, but what I’m hoping for (and I know this can be asking a lot) is for readers to begin putting the puzzle pieces into place as they read the comic, figuring out the timelines and identifying where the beginning and ending are. I think of Innovation like this:

We have a handful of characters that we established early on in our series including the robot, Sondra, who is struggling with some serious personality issues, R.D.S.L. CEO Edison Kircher, his right hand man, Mr. Faust, the mischievous android Cygnus, the lowly lab rat Lee and a mysterious guest to the facility that I’m calling The Visitor.

In my brain I think of all the characters in a line, as seen in the scientifically-accurate design below.

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From there, a thread extends from each character that goes backward and forward in time (because our story is non-linear).

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Wherever those threads happen to intersect, that’s where our little sci-fi stories take place.

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I figured that if media-lovers are giving more of themselves to long and drawn out mystery shows, then this webcomic might scratch a similar itch. After all, people watched LOST on TV for, like, six years. (They only liked it for four years, but that’s beside the point.)

What’s INNOVATION about?

Admittedly, at first glance, it might be difficult to pick up on what the series is actually about. That’s kind of a loaded question, really. Every character has a goal (whether those are clear yet or not) and everyone has somewhere they started and somewhere they will end up. Throughout the shorts there are various items that all show up and will all be equally important as we race toward the story’s conclusion.

At it’s heart, Innovation is about technological advancement. In our real world we’ve seen a huge leap forward in the world’s technology in the past 5-10 years. And as we’ve learned throughout history, science can be used for good or bad. A drone aircraft can collect or deliver information and intelligence, and just as easily drop a bomb. It’s all in how we as a world use these breakthroughs and advances.

Ultimately, once the first story arc is complete, I plan to collect it into a PDF where readers can view the entire story in order and then they’ll say, “Oooooh! I get it.”

Is it possible to get it without reading it in order? You better believe it. (I’ve spent hours on maps and diagrams that prove to me this is true.)

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While I planned for the story to run indefinitely, I didn’t want to meander too long, so I’ve chosen an end point for the first arc. While future stories are currently planned, the project requires a steady stream of artistic contributors and those who might be interested in participating with a 4-6 page short to keep the story going are encouraged to get in touch. The first arc will run somewhere between 26-30 chapters, so in our first year, we reached the halfway mark, and I think that’s pretty awesome.

A huge thank you goes out to the artists who have already contributed to the project: Mike Hatfield, Stan ChouDamon Threet, Ken Perry, Crisuadi Crasmaru, Jay Hernandez, Paul McCallan, and Harpreet Brar.

If you’re unfamiliar with this comic and for some reason you’ve read this far, I hope it piques your interest. For a full list of INNOVATION chapters, click here or on the image below. If you have been following along with our scientific exploits, thank you. There’s more to come.

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