Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Project Update: Gargoyle By Moonlight Coming in 2012!

Howdy, comics fans! I've been busy working on comics, but I wanted to give you a small update and a little taste of the color art of Gargoyle By Moonlight.

Done in bold, vibrant colors by all-around artist Juan Romera, the full book will be smashing your way in early 2012. Juan is an accomplished artist whose work can be seen in Fall (pencils, inks, and colors) from 214 Ink, Woody and the Noble (pencils, inks) for Arcana, and several Web comics.

Right now, we're closing in on the inks, and about half the book is colored. Here you can see a small sample of the vivid palette and fine textures Juan's adding to make all this art pop.

Soon, I'll have a nifty website ready for prime time and lots more to show you.

Oh, and what's that down below? Why that's something else, something you'll want to get in on the ground floor of. And it'll be charging at you even sooner than Gargoyle!

Pencils and inks for the shocking scene above by Nick Valente. Colors by Sean Burres.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gargoyle By Moonlight: Creative Team Announcement

Figure out your destiny. Defeat a demigod. And do it all before sunrise. That’s the challenge facing Gary Doyle tonight.

Get ready, 2012 is going to rock as Gargoyle By Moonlight, a 36-page full-color monster-punching thrill ride, is set to take the (under)world by storm. An action-packed supernatural urban fantasy, this comic is fun old school storytelling, infused with charming characters and told via stunning visuals. I’ve been teasing about all the terrific stuff we’ve been up to, but now all can be revealed. Allow me to introduce the creative team of the next great supernatural hero comic:

Gargoyle By Moonlight, which made its covert debut last weekend at Mid-Ohio Comic Con, is brought to life by a dynamic set of fresh creators passionate about making great comics.

The book is drawn by an absolutely amazing penciler, Brian Atkins. Brian is a St. Louis-based comic book creator who brought the sweeping story to life with his great character work and brilliant renders. He’s a very good storyteller, capable of choreographing dizzying fight scenes and handling emotional moments in a very true way. But more than his craftsmanship, he brought an incredible energy to our collaboration, researching looks, sketching out great costumes, and adding in extra touches—all of which helped me to define the characters more fully. He was totally invested in the project from the get-go, and it shows in every panel.

Brian has been working as a freelance illustrator for the past few years while also pursuing a degree in design. In addition to comic book work, he's created character and logo designs, produced print ads, and illustrated a children's book.

At Mid-Ohio Con, Brian’s Gargoyle By Moonlight pages were oohed and aahed over. Reception for the art and the concept was great: people loved the fun idea and enjoyed the characters. And Brian even received some fine feedback from pros such as Jason Howard and Ryan Ottley. (Yes, we are on our way!)
Coming in over Brian’s exquisite line work is a self-described jack-of-all-trades, Jeremiah "Miah" Lambert. Inking digitally, Miah’s light touch sharpens the work and brings crisp highlights and contrasts to the pages. This book is going to be colored, but let me tell you, the “plain” ol’ B&W pages are as gorgeous as some color books I’ve seen. In addition to inking Gargoyle By Moonlight, Miah is also lettering the book and handling some production chores. Performing multiple roles, he’s been a wonderful teacher and helper as we bring this book to press.

Working out of Peoria, IL, Miah has already built a nice resume of pro work, inking and lettering floppies and graphic novels for companies like AC Comics and Viper Comics. He's also done inking on Transformers and Tonka Truck art for Hasbro Toys.

I’ll be dribbling out all kinds of exclusives sneak peeks in the coming weeks. So stay tuned. Follow me on Twitter and subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss a single panel!

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Little Preview for You

You've all been so good this week, and what the heck, I'm in a good mood. So here's another little taste of the mind-blowing supernatural experience coming your way this fall.

May and June were a very exciting and productive time for me as I moved forward in my making comics journey. I have three scripts of various lengths with pencilers and inkers: a short story, a full-length story, and a mini-graphic novel.

Making comics is fun--and it's a lot of hard work. I hope to chronicle all that work when I have a chance. You see, although the scripts are written, in many ways, my work is just beginning. Why? Because it takes a team to put a comic together. I work all day, and then I come home and work most nights. Anyway, at a later date, I'll recount what I've been doing, mistakes I've made, and all kinds of details.

For now, here's a little more concept art from a little project we like to call G_____ B_ M________. (Click on the image to see it in big and bold black and white detail!)

Coming soon: the creative team announcement!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Just a Tease

I'm going to have soooo much more on this soon.

Very soon.

But for now, dear reader, just a teaser image.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

More from Jim McCann: Three-Part Media Push

This is the third of a three-part series on the marketing advice former Marvel marketer and now writer Jim McCann (Return of the Dapper Men, numerous Marvel titles) shared with the Creators Workshop over at Comics Experience. Click below to read Parts 1 and 2.

Part 1: Jim McCann Talks Comic Book Marketing: Start the Conversation

Part 2: Six Errors New Creators Make in Comic Marketing: Words of Advice from Jim McCann

I've been recounting the valuable marketing advice writer and former Marvel marketer Jim McCann shared at a recent forum I attended. Jim gave out a lot of valuable information on how the little guy can market like the big guy. And, yes, a lot his tips assume you've been lucky enough to get into Diamond Previews, but the advice still applies to self-published comics.

Whatever your marketing strategy is and however much or little your willing to spend or do to promote your magnum opus, Jim has one big piece of advice: Really hit the need for people to make pre-orders. In every interview and post, or on every press release or promo piece, tell where or how the book is available. If you do have a Diamond order code--that should be all over your marketing efforts.

Let's face it: Most retailers' and readers' ordering habits are set. They order from the big 4 or 5, and don't pay much attention to the back of Previews much at all. Even if you get yourself a glossy half-page ad, it's not likely to be noticed. If retailers don't order copies of your book, the new reader you are trying to reach, won't ever see the book on the shelf.

Okay, so that out of the way, let's focus on his tips for your three-part media push.

1. Books shouldn't break in Previews. You need to get the word about your book out there 3 months before it appears in Previews. It's difficult to get a listing in Previews if you are self-publishing--and if you're lucky enought to get an ad, don't count on the listing itself to get much notice. By the time Previews is in retailers hands, it's probably too late to get their attention. If they've heard something about your book, a listing may jog their memory and spur them to order. But if your ad is the first time they are hearing about your book, it probably won't even register.

If you're a small creator just starting out, it's important to repeatedly tell people how they can get the book: give your Website out whenever you can. Also be sure to tell people where they can get your book if it's for sale somewhere. Tell everyone you can about your book. Early. And often.

2. Hit with a big marketing push around solicit time and again at FOC. Okay, so you've been making the media rounds, hustling at conventions and even finagled a way into Previews. Next, you need to make a big push when the solicits are released by your publisher. Your talking points need to drive home the idea that retailers and readers should pre-order. Make another push around Final Order Cut-off (FOC). This is the last chance the local shop has to change their comics order.

If you're not in Previews, there's still something you can do. Hopefully you've created some sort of marketing plan. Three months before you plan to release the book, launch a big marketing push. Go big with your marketing efforts, whatever they are (tease with some art, maybe a cover preview), etc.). Get the word out. If you're going to debut it at a con, make sure you make that part of the story.

3. Lay low until 1 month before release. Jim suggests you cool it for a bit, but then strike again a month before your book comes out; and go even bigger the week before.

McCann's third point applies whether you're in Previews and bankrolled by a giant PR budget or printing your books at the copy center: make sure you are getting the word out there. And while you're doing that--remember: Set your book apart--make it stand out from what's on the shelves already. Get readers to want your book.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Trailer for Los Malditos

The guys of Ikari did a trailer to promote the first issue of Los Malditos, or "The Damned," which will be published next month in Europe featuring the Spanish version of my short story "The Customer Is Always Right." Read my last post for more info. Take a look, I think it's a gorgeous anthology.

And, of course, you can still buy a copy of the English-version of "Customer" by clicking the link below. You'll get the story I did with Tomás and 8 more great tales from a variety of genres. Just click on the link below the video.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Worldwide Publishing Domination or La dominación de todo el mundo editorial

My relatively short journey to worldwide publishing domination (or, and apologies for the Babelfish/Yahoo translation: La dominación de todo el mundo editorial) is coming to an end. Okay, I'm kidding. I'm nowhere near becoming the next big thing in comics--but I have started my ten years of work to become an overnight sensation, and, in doing so, I at least have a shot, right?

I mentioned a short time back that my partner for "Customer," Tomás Morón, is publishing our story in a Spanish edition in Europe. Part of a collection from Ikari Studio called Los Malditos (translation: The Damned), our story joins a cast of other really awesome-looking tales. You can check out their site here (in Spanish): ikaristudio.blogspot.com or here with a rough English translation.

To the left is one of the promos for the book. I can't wait to see the Spanish edition of El Cliente Siempre Tiene Razon, done as their site says, by Tomás and me in the pure classic terror EC Comics style. And, of course, the North America edition is still available for purchase by clicking the ad below.

Also, Tomás has recently completed a graphic novel (with concept by Chad & Dara Creasey and script by Mark Haven Britt) called Maximum High for Kickstart Comics. Check out his blog, to see pages or go to Kickstart's page.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Six Errors New Creators Make in Comic Marketing: Words of Advice from Jim McCann

This is Part Two of a three-, maybe four-part series on the marketing advice former Marvel marketer and now writer Jim McCann (Return of the Dapper Men, numerous Marvel titles) shared with the Creators Workshop over at Comics Experience. Click here to read Part One.

Jim McCann says there are (at least) six common errors new creators make when marketing their comics.

1. Going out too soon. Don’t announce or promote until you have something to show off. Jim says, “If you don’t have a final cover to go with the project and some finished pages, you are not ready.” He recommends an info packet that includes the first six pages. Wait until you have those items, then create a pdf you can e-mail around (see point 3 below); use as flier or promo materials to give to stores and at cons; and post on the Web.

2. Not knowing your timing. Make sure you have factored in time for pre-publishing promotion: the pre-solicit announcements, solicits, etc. Know those deadlines and be ready to go. Get your info packet together (see number 1 above) and promote before it’s in Diamond Previews. (Waiting until Diamond comes out is way to late.)

3. Not knowing your audience. Who makes up the audience you are trying to pull in? And more importantly, where are they? Don’t try carpet bomb all the comics sites with your product. Or, rather, don’t count on your story announcement rising above the clutter. Take a minute to consider who is likely to like (read: want) your story and where can you connect with them. Don’t ignore the mainstream comics websites and fans, but zero in on your readers and possible avenues for press coverage.

Are you writing a specific genre story, say, a Western? Contact sites that promote Westerns—and not just comics. Moreover, find people who are jazzed about Westerns or zombies or whatever niche your story takes place in and get them onboard. Just like you will want to pitch your Western comic to an editor who does Westerns, you want to find reviewers and reporters who have shown an interest in your topic. They’re most likely to embrace something they have an affinity for.

4. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Make your own opportunities. Once you’ve found your “targets,” send write them. Introduce yourself and your book, ask them if they like to cover it. Be sure to send them the promo materials you’ve created or, hey, a pdf of the whole book if you really want to get them onboard.

5. Don’t get lost in the news. First, Jim recommends keep an eye on con schedules. You don’t want to begin your marketing efforts the week before, during, or even after the major conventions. The big publishers use up all the oxygen in the news cycle, and comic news sites have tons of material to post. Time your announcements to hit at a time when they might get noticed. It’s true that con season has become an almost year-round marathon, but here’s the major shows that will step on your promotion: San Diego, New York, C2E2, Emerald City, Heroes Con, and MegaCon (I mentioned this in a previous post if you want to read more). (As a side note McCann does recommend new creators attend both Heroes Con and MegaCon, which are great for small creators.)

Second, don’t release your news on a Friday—it’s a bad day for news because no one is paying attention.

6. Don’t be obnoxious at conventions. Offer people your product, but outrageous costumes and stunts are only going to piss people off. (That’s not going to sell books.)

Click here to read Part One.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Jim McCann Talks Comic Book Marketing: Start the Conversation

Dapper man Jim McCann gave the Comics Experience Creators Workshop a primer on comic book marketing last night. I was fortunate enough to be in tele-attendance as for more than an hour, the former Marvel marketer and current writer, gave neophyte writers and artists a fantastic overview on how to get noticed and sell their books.

McCann, a writer of who found his niche writing Marvel's Hawkeye and Mockingbird titles while also releasing (with artist Janet Lee) the very inventive OGN Return of the Dapper Men, told the group that marketing is about starting a conversation. He then detailed several great marketing methods used by the big guys but that can also work for the little guys thanks to the power of the Internet. Turns out, in the end, like a lot of things in life, you only get out what you put in.

Comic Experience Creators Workshop Moderator, publisher of Panda Dog Press, and writer of Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit Rob Anderson posted a great article on last night's session. I've cherry-picked a few of the highlights below, but do yourself a favor and go over to Rob's blog and check out the whole thing. (And while you're there, check out ANIMAL CONTROL: SCU "Breeding Stock," a 3-page preview of Rob's awesome comic.)

Marketing Advice from Jim McCann:
•Get the word out before Previews; but not too early (You should have some finished product to show.)
•Know your audience and your reviewers (Find your niche. Just like in pitching your book to an editor, not every book is right for every site or reporter on that site.)
•Social Media is great-this has been discussed ad nauseum because it's true (Network; introduce yourself--but don't be a stalker.)
•Keep one eye on the calendar (Don't get lost in all the convention news.)

Jim also stressed getting retailers excited about ordering your project--in fact, in every interview, post, whatever, he stressed mentioning the Diamond ordering code or where (e.g., the Web site) people can get the book. But more so, he stressed trying to reach out to retailers, locally and nationally if you can.

As I go through my notes, I'm sure I'll be sharing some more details, but check out Rob's blog for more. I'm sure he'll get around to it before I do.

Monday, February 7, 2011

SHAZAM! A Free Comic Book Day in January?!?

A couple of weeks ago, the proprietor of my regular LCS here in St. Louis (Comic Headquarters), held a special free comic book day (note the lowercase letters so as to not infringe on any other similar events). It was a nice little winter warm-up surprise. They had free issues, giveaways, and local comic book artist, Lorenzo Lizana, doing sketches. Presented for your enjoyment are two sketches I picked up at the event. (And whenever Lorenzo is drawing, I pick up some sketches.)

Lorenzo is a very talented local artist. He's done all kinds of comic, cartoon, and toy and other product design work. And he's a great guy to talk about the business. He has a big national deal brewing--which I won't go into here--plus a really cool book in the works that'll be out by the actual FCBD. I always enjoy looking at his pages and this project was no different. He has a really cool concept--one that's beautiful to look at too. Can't wait to see it in print.

Enjoy his Capt. Marvel and Superman.

Now to get these babies colored. . . .

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blizzard Writing Day: Cutting It Down with Costa

As I write this, the frost giants of winter have descended upon St. Louis, covering everything in ice and snow. With promises of lots of ice followed by 10-20 inches of snow, the Blizzard of Oz has set in. The city is shutdown, and my employer closed the office today. (Yay!!) I've taken this rare day off to write.

As many of you know, I'm a member of Comics Experience Creators Workshop, a virtual writers and artists group where comic creators meet to critique and support each other. (You can find out more here.) One of the cooler things about the CE Workshop is that real-live pros like Jason Aaron, Peter David, John Romita Jr., and Nathan Edmondson, join in to do guest critiques on a monthly basis. Recently, a script I wrote, tentatively titled Last Days of the Cowboy, was reviewed by writer Mike Costa (of GI Joe Cobra and Transformers fame).

I'm a big fan of Mike's work, so I was thrilled to have him critique my script. He gave me some great notes. I'd love to post them here, but then I'd be spoiling an awesome story that hasn't even been handed to the artist yet. (Maybe I'll save it for the DVD Bonus Features of some future collection!) What I especially liked was what Mike had to say about cutting down the narration in my story.

Like a lot of writers, I had an elaborate backstory for my character and I wanted to fit that stuff in to this story. So I had him narrating over a series of panels, giving us all kinds of information, when, really, the action, the visuals, were doing the storytelling. And really, as is almost always the case, the background info isn't as important to the main story as the creator thinks. (In fact, it's another story altogether--maybe I'll tell it someday.)

But Mike's comments, as well as some by the group, gave me the confidence to jettison the info-dump I thought I needed to establish the character and to go with the visuals and key lines of dialogue I need to tell this story--and only those. Mike told me to go with the visuals I had already laid out. The end result, after rewriting and retooling, is a sparse, stark script, heavy on visuals and dripping with emotional impact.

While I was in there operating, I also widened some of the action panels to make this a real artist's piece, since it is a very visual story to begin with. If St. Louis stays frozen over tomorrow, I might even start networking with some artists. Let me tell ya, this one is going to blow your mind. I can't wait for you to see it.

By the way, More Tales from The Comics Experience is still available. Get yours by clicking the ad above.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thanks to Letterers; Spanish Edition of Customer

Recently, the letterer who helped me tell the story of The Customer Is Always Right, Haas Kage (FairPlayLettering.net), really did me a solid; one that allowed me to go international and bilingual. How you ask? I’ll save that for later. But in backing me up, he reminded me of the collaborative nature of comics and about one the key roles that often goes unheralded: the comics letterer.

I recently had the priveledge of spending a little time learning the art (and it is an art!) from master letterer Dave Sharpe via the auspices of Comics Experience and the Introduction to Lettering and Production Class. A Kubert school alum and a former Marvel Comics full-timer now freelancer, Dave started his career at Marvel lettering comic books just before the digital age. Today, he now works on dozens of books from a variety of publishers. Recently, he's lettered everything from Iron Man: Legacy to Batman: The Return.

Dave is a true craftsman. He was a great teacher. Funny, patient, and passionate about comics, he opened up a whole new world of comics understanding for me. He taught me all about layered essence of comic book production. Literally.

You see, using Adobe Illustrator to letter your comics, you work with an art layer, a balloon layer, a tails layer, etc. I learned about balloon shape and page composition and the thickness of stroke for emotion--and how do do special effects.

I don't know that I'm ready to step out there and do lettering and production all on my own. That's my goal, but I took the class to get a better understanding of the comics-making process. I learned a great deal, but in some ways the intangible aspects of the class were the most rewarding.

Taking the class was a lot like visting the soundstages on the Warner Bros. lot during filming (which is a much more intimate and real experience, as compared to Universal Studios). You get to see how the magic really happens. Dave showed my class how much work is involved in just lettering a comic. There are all kinds of decisions a letterer makes--making him or her a true artisan. Their work has a huge impact on the final product. In fact, many letterers also act as the production department for a publisher. So the letterer may also be merging the colored final pages with their balloon work and performing the pre-press functions for the publisher.

Anyway, the next time you enjoy reading a comic. Stop and turn to the credits. Look up who the letterer was. They literally made reading the book possible.

So how did Haas do me a solid? Well, my collaborator, Tomás, recently contacted me about doing a Spanish version of our story for a book he and some pals are putitng together. I thought this was a great idea--and it's going to happen--but here's where I got stuck. To save time and money, Tomás needed the art from our story with the balloon layer. You see, they could then just put Spanish words in maintaining the same balloons as the English version. Instant story. Except . . .

Prior to taking the lettering class, I had no idea about this kind of thing. I was so green, I only asked Haas for the final art files needed for printing. And he obliged. But now, months later, I contacted him again and he had the files we needed. What a pro! Then, bim, baam, boom, they cross the Atlantic via the Internet and my story is international.

So the lesson here--besides getting your files in a variety of formats from your collaborators--is that your collaborators are important. They can save your butt. Besides, of course, making your story possible in the first place.

Haas, when my copies come in, I'll be sending you a few.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I Have My Very Own Comic ... Finally

Wow, I just ordered copies of a comic book I helped create. After lots of hard work and months of anticipation, my first story to make it to print is here. I now have a comic book of my very own!

Futuristic gunslingers, wisecrackin' midget cops, daring space adventurers, and monsters where you won't expect them--that's More Tales from the Comics Experience, available now from IndyPlanet!

More Tales from the Comics Experience, is a new anthology featuring 8 awesome stories workshopped under big-time IDW and former Marvel editor Andy Schmidt's guidance in his Comics Experience writing classes.

These solid tales are told in stunning black and white and are well worth your $4.00. That's right, just $4.00 for 52 pages of comic awesomeness! And--wait for it--that's not all. The book also features an interview with legendary writer Chuck Dixon.

When you go to IndyPlanet, be sure to check out the preview images by clicking the "Images" tab. You'll see that this is one beautiful book--not some stick figure Kinko's number we photocopied last night. No, sir, this is the best 4 buck book you're going to read in 2011!

From the book's clever marketing spiel: Eight aspiring comic book writers have come together, under the guidance of IDW Publishing Senior Editor Andy Schmidt, to collect this action packed anthology of 5-page stories not just for the average fanboy, but for other aspiring writers as well. With a foreword from Andy and words of wisdom about what it means to be a comic book writer from legend, Chuck Dixon (Batman, G.I. Joe, Green Arrow, Punisher), this anthology represents the next generation of writers' first step towards breaking into the business.

Drift follows the last humans in the universe as they attempt to escape a deadly attack through the mouth of a black hole!

Meet Fred. He's got a mystical glove and knows how to use it to cause some serious damage in Glove of Fred!

Guns, death, and more guns is the recipe for this apocalyptic Western where no one is safe in You Can Lead a Horse to Water.

The Customer Is Always Right features a hitman getting a very special request. Wait until you find who needs to die and why!

Days of Derring is a tale of espionage that finds our hero getting a little too close to his next assignment!

Savannah is the story of two animals in the African wild trying to buck the food chain!

Midget Cop is here to save the day in his own unique way...which usually involves insults and hijinx!

A man has a unique experience at the strip club in A Star in Sight.

Also included are excerpts from an interview with G.I. Joe and Batman writer Chuck Dixon talking about what it means to be a writer in the comic book business and how to do it the right way.

I want to thank Andy Schmidt for helping to hone my skills as a writer--esp. for giving me great tools for story structure. I also want to thank my fellow writers as well as the artists who helped bring this project to life: Jamie Iracleanos/Brad Green; Matt Merante/Josh C. Lyman; Brian L. Billo/Ian MacLean; Vaughn A. Summers/Krakken; Alex T. Randolph/Maia Kobabe; Jim Moore/Steven Janowicz; Gregory Brown/(A) Branko Jovanovic. Even bigger props go to Jamie and James for working so hard to get this thing together. And finally, thanks also to the great Tomás Morón, my artist on Customer. (I'll be sending those copies to you as soon as they come in!)