New Year's Resolutions for 2009

The holiday season has it's many hassles. There's the traffic and the travel and the running around from one house to the next to spread "cheer." There's plenty of expenses, the presents, the plane tickets, the dinners, the booze. There's the disappointments. Maybe you didn't get what you asked for or maybe that perfect gift for someone turned out not to be so perfect. Maybe you're not spending the holidays with whom you had hoped. Perhaps your tolerance for Christmas Carols and Holiday Specials is no longer as high as it used to be. Yeah, this time of year isn't perfect.

But, for all its faults, there is a power to this time of year and I think I recognize it more and more. The trinty of holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas (or Hanukkah), and New Years really provide a necessary bookend for the past year and a launching pad into the next. Taking time to appreciate each of these holidays is good for the soul.

Thanksgiving comes first, logically, and is a great time to take reflection on the past year, take account of all that's good in your life, and say that most powerful of two word prayers: "Thank you." I said my thanks in an earlier blog post.

Countless books have been written on the true meaning of Christmas, and I don't intend to make any great contribution to those tomes here. For me, Christmas is about translating that Thanksgiving gratitude into gifts and other tokens of appreciation to those you love. Sometimes the gift is a present. Sometimes the gift is simply your presence.

And finally, the holidays end with New Year's, which when used properly, is a time to spring yourself forward with renewed purpose and direction. (It can be that, and include a night of binge drinking, champagne toasts, and bad decisions as well...I'm a realist.) While there's a lot of skepticism regarding New Year's resolutions, with many people giving them up before even trying, I think establishing goals at the start of the year is still a valuable exercise. Wiser men then I have observed that goals are simple dreams with a time frame put on them, and resolutions are merely steps of action that may lead you to those dreams.

That said, here are my creative and comic related resolutions for 2009.

  • Give back 10%. I've realized that entertaining through story, art, and digital media is one of my purposes in life, one of the reasons I am here on this planet. I also recognize that whatever gifts I possess that allow me to do what I do creatively and do it well are true blessings. I am coming to believe strongly in the power of giving, and that the more you give, the more you receive. I'm blessed in this economy to have a full-time job that I enjoy. The fact that doing what I love (my creative projects) has started to generate a bit of income for me above and beyond my regular salary is phenomenal. While I certainly have bills to pay and debts to reduce, I want to honor the blessing of my creativity by pledging to give 10% of all proceeds generated by my creative works from now on to an appropriate charity or cause I believe in. I plan on sharing those causes with you in future pages of this blog.
  • Don't cricize others and accept criticism with grace. I think I'm well on my way down this path. I've discovered (or rediscovered, as it were) that criticism of others gets you no where. Those receiving criticism inevitably get defensive and become resentful. I'm resolving to only provide encouragement, praise, and when necessary positive critique towards others. On the flip side, I'm also going to try to accept the criticism of others with grace. I have those tendencies of defensiveness and resentfullness when on the receiving end of tough criticism. But I am resolving to listen to the criticism of myself or my work, distill from it the key suggestions that I agree will better myself or my craft, and to thank the person for spending those precious minutes of life that he or she will never have back on me.
  • Network, Network, Network. While talent is crucial for success in any creative industry, I am realizing just how important it is to network and make connections in the industry. In the past, I've been reluctant to approach people I might want to meet who could give me advice or help me out. I've spent the last few months reaching back out to friends I've lost touch with over the years or acquainances I'd like to get to know better. I'm resolving to continue that trend professionally, and extend my network of friends in the industry this year. I truly believe that most people in this world want to give help if asked, and I need to put that belief into practice.
  • Read every day, Write every day, Draw every week. My decision to work with other artists on comic projects has been an eye-opening experience. I love doing this stuff. I love collaborating. Working with others has made me a stronger writer. The better the art they have provided, the better I wanted to be as a writer. It's a great positive relationship to have. So, I'm resolving to become a better writer this year. Writers write every day, and thus, so shall I. And they also read every day, and so shall I. I still have aspirations as an artist, and enjoy drawing, but at present I'm getting more results and enjoyment from writing. However, I am resolving to keep my pencils sharp, and will commit to blocking out at least some time each week to continue to develop my art.

Four creative resolutions. Perhaps I'll revisit these and add more in the months to come. If I can live up to these resolutions, however, I have no doubt 2009 will be a break out year for me.


ICE #8: Cover Sketches

I've asked ICE: Interrogation Control Element artist Damian Couceiro to draw a kick-ass cover image for the series in addition to the ten submission pages he's already knocked out. I gave him a few ideas about what to include in the image, but also encouraged him to try some things out that he thought might work.

This morning, he sent three potential cover images to me and I really liked what I saw. One of the images, with a few slight tweaks, is pretty much exactly what I'm looking for.

Here are the two other cover sketches that weren't quite what I was looking for at this time, but still both a testament to Damian's strong design sense.

This first one strikes me as a very powerful image, and has great symbolism. I may hang onto this idea, because I think it's very strong.


This second cover sketch is actually very similar to what will hopefully be a great finished cover. All of the elements are the same as the cover I'm requesting- the protagonist Trip Higgins looking somber, a terrorist up to no good, a guy getting water boarded, and the American flag waving in the background. The composition on this cover just wasn't quite as fluid as the third design.


Hopefully, I'll be able to share the finished cover soon.


Creator's Toolkit #9: First Drafts Are Sh*t

It's the end of the year, and I'm going to do a little patting of myself on the back. Though I've been preoccupied with the hoopla of the holidays these past few weeks, I've managed to be very productive (although my blog updates have taken a bit of a backseat this month.)

Last week, I finished the first draft of a feature length screenplay. I'm proud of that accomplishment. Writing a complete film story from start to finish is quite the challenge, so the fact that I have a ninety-plus page draft finished and in my body of work is something I feel really good about.

However, I'm more proud of my approach to the question of "what now?" with the script. As I said, I have a first draft. And as Hemingway famously quipped, "The first draft of anything is sh*t." So I've taken what I hope will be some proactive steps to move my script from "sh*t" to something far better.

First, I've let the script sit for a week. I haven't read it, or started combing through it line by line looking for small fixes. Everybody needs a little time away...(so sayeth Chicago.)

Second, I've let a few select friends and family members read the script. I let my sister read it because she's right in the ballpark of my target market, and I couldn't help but sit in the other room and smile as I heard her giggling while reading it. (Good sign. It's a comedy.) I also made copies for two of my friends. One of whom has spent a lot of time studying both screenwriting and story structure, as well as comedy. We were snowed in last weekend and we spent a few very helpful hours workshopping it. He enjoys working on story and will send me back the copy annotated with his thoughts, questions, ideas and crits. I also gave another copy to pretty much the funniest person I know, and a good writer in his own right, though someone less familiar with screenwriting. I'm looking forward to his feedback as well.

Third, my friend loaned me his well-worn copy of Story, by Robert McKee. This has been on my must read list for years now. And in the past four days, I've blown through this exceptional book. While specifically written for screenwriters, this is essential reading for anyone who fashions his- or herself a storyteller. I'm glad I came to this brilliant piece of instructive writing at this point in time, AFTER having finished a screenplay. I'll be able to use Story to help mold and refine my script, putting the principles of story structure McKee espouses directly to use on a work ready for it. Highest possible recommendation.

What's next on my march toward a second draft? My next step is to block out a couple of hours time and work through my draft on my own. For this next draft I'm going to be looking at the work, trying to push the script to be as enjoyable for the audience (not the writer, aka myself) as possible. I'm also going to be working on eliminating all cliches from the screenplay (or as many as possible) and flagging the scenes and sections that need the most work. There are a few characters I need to round out a bit more, but I'm confident all of this can be done. I'll mark up my copy of the script as I work through it.

Then, I'll combine my notes with the notes of those friends of mine I've asked to read it and from that, hopefully churn out a slightly less sh*tty draft number two.


Tears of the Dragon #7: Colored Page Preview

Here's a full colored page of Tears of the Dragon. I'm loving this project!
(Art: Koko Amboro, Colors: Paul Little)



In the Trades #2: The Gift of Comics

Recently my buddies from college, most of whom still live in the Washington, D.C. area, did a really nice thing for me. Knowing I've had an abysmally difficult time the past few weeks on the homefront, they insisted I make a trip down to D.C. on them this past weekend. They took care of my flight, a ticket to the Georgetown Hoya's game against Memphis (a big win), and brought me to a big open bar Christmas party. It was exactly the kind of thing I needed and a hell of an early Christmas present.

Wanting to show my gratitude, I decided to give my boys all the gift of comics this Christmas. Now, not a single one of my friends are big comics readers today, and most probably don't own a single comic. Still I was confident I could find something for each of them. I had a good time picking out a graphic novel appropriate for each of my boys. Here are the books I picked up:

  • Guns- He was the easiest. He actually collected comics for a while, and as long as the art is strong, and the story is decent, he'll give a book a read. I bought him Wanted by Mark Millar, as I know he liked the movie. Of course, the movie and the comic are incredibly different, but that's a whole other post.
  • Suff- Not a comics reader, and not much into fantasy or scifi. He's a cop and our favorite show back in the day was NYPD Blue. So, I picked up Fell Vol1: Feral City by Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith for him. I think he'll dig the interrogation scenes and the messed up cases Det. Richard Fell gets into.
  • Dipps- Probably the most difficult. Super heroes aren't his bag. I took a chance on this pick, (because I hadn't read it, only heard good things) and got him Girls Vol 1: Conception by the Luna Brothers. I've already heard back from him...he says he's hooked.
  • Jimmy Twos- Another difficult one and a wild-card because I hadn't read this book yet either. Twos works in Capital Hill for a U.S. Congressman, so I thought something political would be up his alley. Since I'm a huge fan of his other work, I rolled the dice on Ex Machina Vol 1: The First Hundred Days by Brian K. Vaughn and Tony Harris for him.
  • Repps- Again, Repps isn't a comics reader. But Y: The Last Man Vol 1: Unmanned by Brian K. Vaughn and Pia Guerra is so good, I could have given that to anyone and be confident they'd enjoy it.
  • Longball- The Boys Vol 1: Get Some by Garth Ennis and Darrick Robinson. No question about it. The perfect book for someone who probably hasn't read comics in years and would get a kick out of the shock value style of the envelope pushing Mr. Ennis.
  • Tuna- An easy one. I've been mowing through the Queen & Country series thanks to my local library's wonderful GN collection. Tuna works for the National Security Agency. While he much prefers non-fiction to fiction, I think he'll enjoy Rucka's series that is strongly grounded in the real world. So I grabbed Queen & Country Definitive Edition Vol.1 by Greg Rucka for him.
And there you have it. My comic gifts this Christmas. (And I fully realize my friends all have names like bad mobsters. But what're you gonna do about it?)


December Projects Update

Where does the time go? Seems like just the other day I was typing out the November update, prepping for Thanksgiving, and here we are in December with Christmas just around the bend. Here's just a quick update on my projects.

Super Seed
  • Updates continue at www.superseedcomic.com. I was pleasantly surprised to see (and somewhat shocked) that Project Wonderful adspace on the Super Seed site reached a high bid value of $5 a day recently. Sure, it dropped down to more modest levels shortly thereafter, but it's been enjoyable seeing the site's popularity continue to slowly grow.
  • As I mentioned in November, production on Super Seed is in a holding period as I focus on getting other projects off the ground.
  • I got some good feedback on my Super Seed Movie Treatment and will schedule some time to do a rewrite in the coming months.
  • Fingers still crossed. Last month at this time, I was hoping I'd hear something from publishers in a week or two. This month, I'll be shocked if I don't hear something in a week or two. (Hopefully, next month I'll have big CT news to talk about.)
  • I spent some time working with a good friend of mine and Flash wizard, storyboarding a trailer for CounterTERROR. I'm hoping to debut that bad boy soon as well.
Tears of the Dragon
  • I expect to have all 8 colored pages in hand come mid-January, hopefully earlier. Getting new colored pages from Paul Little in my inbox is one of the highlights of my week.
  • I put some time into doing some character development work, really fleshing out the major characters of the book. Doing so is a great exercise, and really gets the wheels turning and the story ideas flowing.
  • I've asked artist Koko Amboro to do another pin-up for Tears while we're waiting for the colors to get finished and the publisher shopping to commence.

  • By now, you've seen some inked previews of Damian Couceiro's gorgeous ICE pages. If you haven't, check them out here and here.
  • After working with an editor, I came to the conclusion that the first 8 pages did not have enough of a punch storywise to hook the reader. My synopsis and pitch talked a big game, but I really didn't include enough of the story I'm planning on telling in the initial 8. Luckily, there was a relatively painless fix. I decided to slip in a two page sequence of a deadly prison break, which will establish the main antagonist into pages 5-6, pushing the other pages back two. Luckily, Damian was amenable to the change, and was willing to draw the additional two pages. On the whole, I think the story gets off to a much better start because of them.
  • I spent some time on a plane this past weekend working through all of the major beats of the ICE story. Right now, it's probably looking like a 5-6 issue mini-series, but one that certainly could be extended into an ongoing. I've been adjusting my creative process to really see the entire story and have that plotted and planned firmly before writing word one of a script. The now ten pages of work done by Damian actually serve as a great prelude to the main story. I could potentially see those ten pages being hosted on the net as an online preview of sorts, to a main story that would come in floppies.
  • Still no movement on the colorist. Because Damian's inks are so strong (and because of the realities of the great expense associated with color) I may consider just doing this book in black and white. I'm also going to play around a bit with grey tones. So, this is still a question mark.

Original Graphic Novel Project
  • Oh, enthusiasm! What a double-edge sword you are. Last month in the update, I announced I was working on a graphic novel project and was raring to go. I had to pull back the reigns on this one, well, because the story I was planning on telling wasn't much of a story and simply would not work well as a comic. I almost ditched the thing entirely, and for the most part did. But something has started to emerge from the ashes of that original work. Sure, it's inspired by the same theme, but a vastly different (and hopefully much, much better piece.) And by different I mean different characters, first to third person story telling, it's now actually a comedy, the list goes on and on...
  • While I've loaded up on art supplies, I won't draw a single panel until I'm confident the script is very good. If for some reason I'm off the mark (and that's been known to happen a lot recently) and it never becomes very good, well, I'll shelve it. But that's going to entail multiple re-writes, reviews by friends and editors, and a whole lot of work. But what the hell, I got the time on my hands.
Creating Comics Class
  • I'm working now on the syllabus and the materials for my Creating Comics After-School program I'll be kicking off the end of January. I'm looking forward to working with kids on comics. Should be a blast.

And now you're caught up! Fingers crossed for a BIG January.


ICE #7: More Preview Pages

I'll just let these stunning Damian Couceiro pages speak for themselves.




Creating Comics #4: One class ends...

Last Tuesday I had my final Creating Comics! class. As I mentioned previously, I started teaching a 6-week course on comic book script writing. Despite getting off to a rocky start, due largely to confusion regarding the content of the course (comics meaning comic books and strips, not comics meaning comedians) it was a great experience overall. There are some things I'd certainly like to do better next time. I definitely spend more time focusing on story structure, as that's been a big personal focus of mine as of late. But overall, for a pilot course, I'm happy with how it went.

Teaching the class came at a much needed time for me, and getting away from life and just talking comics with an interesting groups was a much needed respite. I'm sad to see the class end. However...

I'm happy to announce that come the last week in January, I'll be able to scratch my comics teaching itch once more. I'll be teaching a class once a week at a local after school program for students grades 6-8. I'm very excited about this, considering that was the age at which I first started making comics myself. So, right now I'm pulling together my syllabus for Creating Comics! Middle School Edition! More on this, sure to follow.



On the Racks #1: Warlock

Surprising to believe I'm in my ninth month of blogging on this site and I've yet to write about or review a mainstream comic. Well, now is a good time to start.

Check out Warlock #1 by Bluewater Comics. It's based on the cult Lionsgate film of the same name. But more importantly, the artist on Warlock is none other than Jacob Bear.

You may remember Jacob as my early collaborator on CounterTERROR. Jacob designed CT's killer logo and many of his layouts made it into the final cut of the finished pages drawn by Stefano Cardoselli. Drawing Warlock was one of the reasons Jacob had to bow out of drawing CT, which is certainly understandable.

Jacob's been trying to break into the industry for a while now, so it's nice to see him on commercial property like Warlock.


Written by Nick Lyons, art by Jacob Bear, covers by Bear and Matt Bellisle.

A new story from the cult film Warlock from Lionsgate. The Warlock is on a mission to destroy a book that contains a spell which imprisoned six other Warlocks. If the book manages to be destroyed, the dangerous Warlocks would be released back into the world free to cause chaos and destruction. It's up to a rag-tag group of people to prevent the Warlock from carrying out his plan.

32 pages, $3.99.


ICE #6: Two-Page Inked Preview

As promised...some freshly inked pages of ICE: Interrogation Control Element by artist extraordinaire, Damian Couceiro. I've developed some MAJOR breakthroughs regarding this story, and what I hoped would be an intriguing psychological/political drama, is turning into a blockbuster of a story. Hope you all will be along for the ride.




Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

Sure, I'm a couple days late, but come on, most of you are still digesting Thursday's meal, finishing off leftover turkey sandwiches, and snacking on that last piece of pumpkin pie. So, I've still got time to address the subject of giving thanks.

Now, I've made a conscious effort to make this blog as non-bloggy as possible, leaving the personal stuff to others. (So if you're coming here just for the pretty pictures or updates on comic projects, check back Monday...I've got some cool ICE stuff to show.) But in honor of this holiday, I'd like to make public an account of the things I'm thankful for.

We'll start with the comics stuff:
  • I'm thankful for awesome collaborators. Several months ago, I made a conscious decision to expand my comic ambitions beyond the scope of Super Seed. While I love writing and drawing Super Seed, my comics time is limited. I decided to make a go at working with some great artists to produce a greater number of quality comics. I couldn't be happier with all the artists and creators I've chosen to work with. Stefano Cardoselli, Damian Couceiro, Koko Amboro, Paul Little, and Steven Forbes have all been consumate professionals and I've learned a ton working with them in just a short time. I look forward to a strong future relationship with them and others in the coming years.

  • I'm thankful for Zuda. It was a blast getting Super Seed into a Zuda competion this past April. Though I came up short and didn't win an ongoing contract, a $500 check from DC Comics has officially made me a professional comic book creator. (Yup, passed the background check and got my free professionals pass to New York Comic Con. Sweet!)

  • I'm thankful for teaching. I missed teaching. Not enough to want to get back into the classroom full time, but certainly enough to be thrilled at the opportunity to teach once a week. The fact that the subject I've been able to teach is comics just makes it all the better.

And now for the personal:

  • I'm thankful for my family. It's been a rough year for my entire family and it's likely to still be rocky for some time to come. But we have each other, and I'm optimistic that overcoming the obstacles in front of us will draw us more closely together.

  • I'm thankful for my friends. I have been blessed to know some of the funniest, smartest, most engaging, capable and compassionate people on the planet. I've been miserable at keeping in touch with them at times, which is something that I've been taking strong steps to remedy. Having people in your life you can lean on is one of the most important things there is, and truly a blessing.

  • I'm thankful for discovering new highs. In the nearly 30 years I've been on this planet, I can honestly say that the happiest I've ever been has been during this past year. That I'm not in that same place at present is difficult, sure. But the fact that a peak of happiness greater than I knew possible exists, gives some hope that I might get back to that place someday, or even surpass it.

  • And finally, I'm thankful for pain. This is a tough one to explain, and depending on the minute of the day, my attitude toward pain could be very different. But it's very true that pain let's you feel you're alive. It's very easy in this fast-paced world to float in and out from one scene to another, to coast, to go into auto-pilot. But when you're in pain...when you hurt to the very bottom of your soul...there's no coasting. You're faced with the stark reality that YES, DAMNIT, YOU DO EXIST! And while it is certainly awful...the truth is, pain is also...good. When you're in pain, you're entire body is on high alert. If you can channel that pain into something positive, redirect your anguish into something productive, good will come from it. This past month, hands down, has been the worst in my entire life. I found the bottom, or at least a new bottom that I didn't know existed. But I've also been more productive creatively this month than I've ever been. I've made major breakthroughs in all of my projects. Things are clicking for me in a way they haven't ever before, and it's something I'm going to hang on to. Yup, the pain is still there, and it is a b-word, but it's brought me a creative clarity that feels like a turning point for me. And for that, I am thankful.

Enough bloggyness.

Back with the funny books next time.

God Bless.


Tears of the Dragon #6: Another Glimpse

Hey, here's another hot panel from my upcoming fantasy comic Tears of the Dragon.

Colorist Paul Little is doing some breathtaking work on colors. The guy is quite the workhorse, juggling multiple projects. Apparently he has to color 16 pages in the next 12 days for an Image book, yet he's still managing to hit his TOTD deadlines. The guy is a total pro.

Hope you like it.


Super Seed #21- Movie Treatment

I just registered a treatment for Super Seed: The Movie, with the Writer's Guild of America.

In April of this year, back when Super Seed was picked up to run in a Zuda competition, I fielded some inquiries about the rights to Super Seed as a motion picture. At the time, I really hadn't given it much thought...Super Seed was a comic, and I didn't have a strong grasp on what a Super Seed feature might look like.

Fast-forward to the present. Rather than recreate the wheel, what I've done is weave together the four major storylines of Super Seed Issues 1-4 into one narrative. The result is a treatment for a film that I hope is exciting, engaging, and provacative. The cool thing is that, at it's very core, the essence and the spirit of the comic is retained. Having had time to revisit the material, I think I found some clever ways to weave things together, and made a few changes that make things work better as a movie.

The initial feedback I've received from the few people I've shared the treatment with has been very positive. Next steps are turning the treatment into a screenplay and testing the waters to try to find some interest in the material. Fingers crossed, of course.


Creator's Toolkit #8- Creating Comic Books Series

Thought I'd bring your attention to a new video series called "Creating Comic Books" featured at Expert Village, a YouTube-esque site featuring short "How To" videos by content area experts. Hosting the series is Mark Poulton, writer and co-creator of Arcana Comics' Koni Waves. In this 16 part series, Mark covers a variety of aspects related to the art of making comics, including assembling your creative team, comic conventions, distributing your comics and much more. He's joined in the videos by series artists Stephen Sistilli and Dexter Weeks, and there's some cool sneek peeks at upcoming Koni art.

I've embedded Part One of the series right here. To get a full list of the topics Mark and company tackle, head here.

Assembling the Creative Comic Book Team -- powered by ExpertVillage.com


Creator's Toolkit #7: Too Many Damned Words!

So, as I mentioned in my last post, I cranked out a massive OGN script in the past two weeks and hired an editor to review and critique it. Well, critique it he did. In fact, I'm pretty sure I drove him to the brink of madness with my script. While there were some major high level flaws...I was taking too long to get to the story, I was showing and telling when I should have been doing one or the other, I wasn't establishing characters effectively enough to have any emotional payoff...there was another serious and infuriating pox on my script- I was using too damned many words!

Now, this is, I admit a weakness of mine. Before I collect Super Seed into a trade, I'll likely take a hatchet to the script, editing it down for better readability. But the script I sent poor Steven was wordy to the extreme. I could practically hear him screaming at me in his comments. At one point he challenged me to show him a 9-panel page that could hold 270 words, as I had written. He demanded I show it to him.

Well, never one to back down from a challenge...here's such a page. (Excuse the awful wacom art.)


The rules Steven gave me were the same rules, legend has it, that DC comics gave to Sir Alan Moore.
  • No more than 210 words on a page.
  • No more than 35 words in a panel.
  • No more than 25 words in a balloon or caption.
I've always known that writing and re-writing were fundamentally different activities, using different parts of the brain. I was falling in love with the sound of my own words and along the way, forgot I was writing a comic book...not a novel. So, I'm actually grateful to have those rules drilled into me now...and I've actually been enjoying hacking into my script and cutting out all the excess.

I've certainly learned a lesson that should serve me well with anything else I write.


November Projects Update!

It's that time again. So here goes!

Creating Comics! Class
  • Class 5 of 6 comes up this Tuesday. Should be a good one, the topic this week is comic book collaborations, a subject that I've become somewhat of an expert on as of late. I look forward to the class every week, as I really missed the energy of teaching. It helps that the class is a good group.
Super Seed

  • M-W-F web updates continue to roll. We're right in the middle of the Blood Thinning storyline, so catch up with Knightfist and the rest of the gang at the world's first super powered fertility clinic right here.
  • I've been happy to see online sales continue to trickle in for the print versions of Super Seed already out there. While Issue # 1 and Issue # 3 sales are good, for some reason Issue #2 continues to be the top seller. Must be that flame-headed kid.
  • I continue to have high hopes for Super Seed as both a concept and a brand that could extend well into other media. To that end, I've been constructing an outline of what a Super Seed motion picture might look like, and expect to start penning a first draft of a screen play in the coming months. That's still a ways off, but the movie in my head is pretty kick ass!
  • Bad news for Super Seed fans however, is that the print version of Super Seed #4- Surrogate, will be delayed for a while. I've had a shake up in project priorities recently, and while I can write multiple titles, there's really only enough time in the day for me to draw one. And another project is going to, wait for it, supersede the concluding chapter of Super Seed for the time being.
  • Hoping to hear some good news from a potential publisher in the next few weeks. Fingers are officially crossed.
  • In the meantime, artist Stefano Cardoselli is doing some additional art work and promotional materials that will soon be featured on the CT Production Blog.
Tears of the Dragon
  • I'm thrilled every time a new page shows up from uber-colorist Paul Little. Paul is juggling several projects, but is still managing to turn in a couple pages a week.
  • I've had some interest in TOTD from a potential publisher and have started engaging in some light talks regarding the book.
ICE: Interrogation Control Element

  • Artist Damian Couceiro has promised to deliver the finished inks on the initial 8 page story I commissioned him to draw one week from today. I'm really thrilled to see how they come out, because his pencils have been amazing.
  • I still have yet to line-up a colorist for ICE, and haven't decided on the perfect style for the book. That might have to wait until after the New Year, depending on whether something big happens with any of my other projects.
NEW! Original Graphic Novel Project
  • As promised, I'm announcing today a brand new project that I'll be throwing myself whole-heartedly into. This will be my first original graphic novel (OGN). I'll be keeping this project very close to the vest for a while, so don't expect a synopsis, title, or preview art for some time now. (I know, I'm no fun at all.)
  • Writing a longer piece is both exciting to me, and a frightening challenge. In there, somewhere, is some of the best stuff I've ever written. However, it's very raw, and as such, I've brought on board Steven Forbes, scribe of Project Fanboy's fabulous Nuts & Bolts column to help me edit it.
  • Since I'll be drawing it, and to be honest, it's been a while since I've been putting in solid work at the art table, I'll be taking the next week to do a whole lot of skills building. I have a stack of tutorials I've been meaning to get to and work through, and I want to spend some time just getting familiar with the pencil again. I'm actually looking forward to it.
Alright, that's all for now.


Creator's Toolkit #6: Xeric Foundation Grants

Boy did I stumble upon something exciting today. The Xeric Foundation, founded by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles creator Peter Laird, is a private charitable organization that "offers financial assistance to committed, self-publishing comic book creators." They provide grants to help comic book artists and writers with some of the costs associated with self-publishing, including printing, copying, solicitation, shipping and advertising.

The grants they offer are not intended to cover all the costs of self-publishing and don't generally exceed $5,000. But man, $5,000 could go a long way to getting your work out there, and make a lot of things possible.

Hearing about this actually comes at an exciting time for me, as I've been working at a feverish pace on a new graphic novel. (Yes, this is yet another project.) I'll be talking a bit more about this project in the coming weeks.

But if you are an independent creator or self-publisher, check out the Xeric Foundation Grants. And if you get one, put in a good word for me. : )


CounterTERROR #10: Get your CT Wallpaper

Hey, just wanted to let you know that I posted some desktop wallpaper over at the CounterTERROR Production Blog.

It comes in three sizes, perfect for desktop displays of any size.

The image was created by me, and one or two other wallpapers are sure to follow.

You can get to the CT Wallpaper page directly here.


ICE #5: New Penciled Page

Damian Couceiro just finished up penciling the entire 8 page ICE story, which serves as the prologue to a much bigger political/action drama. Damian's really done an incredible job on this story and I've been thrilled to see his pages trickle in. Here's a strong page from the series.


In the Trades #1: Fortune and Glory

I just finished Fortune and Glory: A True Hollywood Comic Book Story by Brian Michael Bendis.

I really enjoyed it. While I'm no stranger to Bendis' prolific body of work (Powers is my personal favorite), this was the first time I've read any of his earlier work...you know, before he became huge and started writing half of Marvel's books. I haven't read Goldfish or Jinx, his early crime comics that he wrote and did the art for, but after reading Fortune and Glory, I'm definitely going to dig them up.

I was impressed to find out that besides being a great writer, Bendis is a hell of a visual story teller. His art on Fortune and Glory, isn't mindblowing, but it works to tell the story. It turns out, a lot of the techniques I've seen employed by the top notch artists Bendis partners with these days for his mainstream work were techniques he was using way back then. It's clear Bendis has always approached the comic page from an artist's perspective.

Fortune and Glory is an autobiographical account of Bendis' misadventures in Hollywood, and his often frustrating experience trying to get his early graphic novels made into motion pictures. It's a quick read and very funny. It still holds up a decade or so after publication, and even though you know things end up working out quite well professionally BMB, he's still a compelling underdog character you want to route for.

If you see it at your local comic shop, or like I did in the graphic novel section of my local library (love my library), I definitely recommend giving it a shot.


Events, Appearances, Promotions #5- Boston Comic Con Recap

I had a great time at the Boston Comic Con this past Sunday. I was about 10 minutes into my drive when I realized I forgot my camera, so I don't have any pics of my set up, unfortunately.

I was in a small room with a group of artists, including Dirk I. Tiede (Paradigm Shift) and Charles Shneeflock Snow (Sordid City Blues) and a bunch of others. Despite the rooms small size and off-the-beaten-path location, there was a good energy in the room and it was a lot of fun.

While we didn't get nearly as much traffic as the main showrooms, during the mid-part of the con, there was a steady, consistent stream traffic. I sold better than I thought I would. I managed to SELL OUT of Super Seed #1, and put a big dent in my inventory of Super Seed #2 and Super Seed #3. I also gave out a ton of postcards, so hopefully that will drive some more people to give Super Seed a chance on the web, as well. I really enjoy pitching the concept to people...They always seem to get a kick out of it.

I also sold a bunch of ashcans for the Tears of the Dragon and CounterTERROR. I do still have a few left, so if any readers of this blog want to get their hands on an ashcan, I’ll happily mail them out for the shipping included price of just $1.50 a piece. Of course, it’s first come first serve and while supplies last, but if interested, send me an email at tylerjamescomics@gmail and I’ll hook you up.


Events, Appearances, Promotions #4- Boston Comic Con Merchandise

Just a reminder, I'll be tabling at the Boston Comic Con this Sunday 10 am- 6 pm.

As far as schwag goes, I'll have issues of Super Seed #1-3 for sale, Super Seed Prints, and NEW Tears of the Dragon and CounterTERROR ashcans. I'll also bring along some of my art portfolios and perhaps do some sketching.

I'll try to remember my camera and take some pics of the con as well.

For more details on the Boston Comic Con, check out the website. It should be a good time, so I hope you'll stop by.

Oh and by the way...

Happy Halloween!

Tears of the Dragon #5: Colorist!

Tears of the Dragon has found itself a colorist! Paul Little is coming on board to lend his colors to Koko Amboro's gorgeous line art. Paul has done work for Arcana and Image comics, and has working coming for Shadowline and Jay Faeber.

You can check out more of Paul's work at his comicspace page.

I've also included here just a little sneak peak at Paul's dazzling colors. Obviously, I'm thrilled to have him join the TOTD team.


CounterTERROR #9- Production Blog!

As CounterTERROR gets closer to its debut, I decided to put together a production blog for the comic.

Feel free to check it out here and add it to your RSS feeds.

As always, comments and crits are appreciated, and anything you'd like to see on there or suggestions for improvements are all things I'd love to hear. I'll definitely be adding new stuff over the month of November, so continue to check it out.


Tears of the Dragon #4: Re-remix

Here's another colorist's take on the Tears of the Dragon pin-up. This one is courtesy of Icepick, a member of Rob Liefeld's forum.

I really like the details and lighting on the swords and hilts. Definitely a much darker take on the piece, but I think it works.

Events, Appearances, Promotion #3: Boston Comic Con

Come check me out at the
Boston Comic Con! I got an email last week from Jim Talbot of Bedrock Comics, who is organizing the event. Jim told me a few table spots had opened up and I decided to snag one.

I still have some inventory left over from the Boston Zine Fair, so hopefully I'll move a few more copies of Super Seed. I'm also plan on having some CounterTERROR pages on hand for people to check out.

So, if you're in the Boston area, come check it out. The con is Sunday, November 2 at the Back Bay Events Center. The admission is $10 and children under 10 are free.


October Projects Update!

As promised, here's a rundown of what's what with my projects...

Super Seed
  • The "Blood Thinning" storyline is currently running over at the website. Read it again, or for the first time! www.superseedcomic.com
  • All three issues of Super Seed are still being sold over at IndyPlanet.com. If you haven't picked up print copies yet, check them out. Here are links to Super Seed #1, Super Seed #2 and Super Seed #3.
  • Super Seed continues to resonate with the public! I moved a lot of books at the Boston Zine Fair last month, more than I had hoped. I've got another appearance coming up, so hopefully I'll push a few more.
  • Still not in a position to give any indication about when readers can expect to see the next arc, "Surrogate." I'm afraid I've been awful busy getting my other projects off the ground, and having a ton of fun with them, but I won't be abandoning my baby, not to worry.
  • Not a whole lot new to report, seeing as I've been lacing this board with CT previews lately.
  • What I can say is that I have eight completely finished pages and a pitching document that I'm using to try to find a publisher. I'm optimistic I'll have something secured within the next two months.
  • CT artist Stefano Cardoselli is hard at work on some of his other projects, but I'm hoping to keep him warm with a few other CT art requests in the meantime.
  • I've included another sneak peak image in this update.

Tears of the Dragon
  • I've received this week the initial batch of inked pages from Koko Amboro, who is doing really nice work on this project. Wait till you see page 8!
  • In talks now, trying to nail down a color artist for this project. If any readers are interested, send me an email at superseedcomic@gmail.com.
  • Here's a look at Koko's pencils:

ICE: Interrogation Control Element
  • Damian Couceiro has finished penciling five pages of CT so far, and they're looking great.
  • As you can see from the image posted here, Damian has a strong grasp of facial expressions and is an accomplished draftsman and very strong artist.

Creating Comics! Class
  • Underway and in full swing as of this past Tuesday. It's going to be a good six weeks! I have a small, eclectic group of comic enthusiasts who are all interested in learning more about writing for sequential art. I think we're all going to learn a lot.
  • I've also been approached about adapting the class to a younger audience, and do a six week, one hour class as a part of a local after-school program early next year. While I have yet to commit, given my background (I used to teach elementary school) and the fact that I first started getting into comics as a kid and know I would have loved a class like this, make it a hard offer to refuse. So I'm sure you'll be hearing more about this in the future.
That's pretty much it for an update. One problem I don't have is keeping busy.


ICE #4: Another sneak peak...

While this project is still a ways away from debuting, I couldn't resist sharing another quick glimpse at pencils for my project ICE: Interrogation Control Element. I'm really enjoying working with Argentinian artist Damian Couceiro on this. Hope you like...

I've had a lot going on lately, both personally and professionally, but that's not to say there isn't a ton of stuff going on comics-wise for me. Expect an October Projects Update coming soon.


Creating Comics #3: Class Begins Next Week

I've been busy crossing t's and dotting i's on my syllabus for the class I'm teaching this fall at the Newburyport Adult & Continuing Education Center called Creating Comics! Scriptwriting for Comics and Graphic Novels.

I've planned a six week survey course to cover a number of topics relevant to writing for sequential art. The class will be a mix of mini-lectures, comics and comics literature discussion, short writing exercises, homework readings, and workshopping of student scripts. The culminating project for my students will be to leave class with a finished 8-page comic script ready to be handed to an artist.

Here are the major topics I'll cover over the six-week course:

Week 1

Talking Comics: The Terminology of Visual Storytelling

What Does a Comic Script Look Like?

Week 2

Sequential Storytelling Tips and Tricks:
Smooth Transitions & Word/Image Relationship

Week 3

Creating & Writing Great Characters

Week 4

Genres & Style & Form

Print Vs. Digital

Week 5

Comics Collaborations: Working with artists to achieve your vision

Week 6

Good Writing Means Re-writing: Refining & revising

Comics Marketing: Marketing your comic and yourself

If any readers have suggestions on must-read materials, books, links, etc. on any of those topics I'd love to hear them.

My class begins next
Tuesday, October 14. For more information on the class, go here.


CounterTERROR #8: More Promos

I was an ad creating machine, yesterday. Here's a few more early drafts for CounterTERROR ads...this time around- leaderboard ads.





CounterTERROR #7: Update/Gearing up for Promotion


One more page left to finish for the initial 8 page CounterTERROR teaser! I knocked out the colors on a couple of very cool pages this weekend. It was very important to me that the final page really knock it out of the park, and it took some back and forth with series artist Stefano Cardoselli, exchanging ideas, sketches, and multiple layouts, but we finally arrived at a shared vision. I saw the pencils for page 8 yesterday and they blew me away. He'll get that page inked and in my hands today, and then the ball is back in my court to finish it strong.

In the meantime, I've started doing some concepts for promotion and banner ads and such. Here's an early draft of an ad that soon will be plastered round the net. Comments and crits appreciated.


Social Networking #1: Myspace

It's been a while since I've checked out Myspace. While I don't necessarily need more ways to waste time on the net, there are plenty of good comics groups over there, and it's always good to network. Plus they've made some pretty nice improvements since I was last there.

So if you're on myspace, friend me!


Tears of the Dragon #3: Update!

Just a little update about the status of Tears of the Dragon! Artist Koko Amboro has been churning out pages at a great rate. It's pretty funny. Koko lives in Indonesia and the internet access isn't nearly as ubiquitous there as it is here. So, I'll go a few weeks without hearing from him, and then out of the blue, my inbox will be filled with a bunch of gorgeous pages. It's very cool.

He's really bringing this ambitious story to life, and it's awesome to see. Koko has a strong design sense and a great imagination, and it's definitely translating to the page. The glimpse I've provided above hardly does his work justice. But hope you enjoy the tease.


CounterTERROR #6: More Previews

Got a lot of coloring done this weekend, and I think I'm really hitting my stride. CounterTERROR is coming out nicely, if I do say so myself. Here's another teaser image to back up that statement.

Things are proceeding nicely, and I should have the initial eight pages finished by mid-October. Stefano continues to crank out pages a whole lot faster than I can color them, but I'm holding my own.

More teasers to come.


Super Seed #20: Episode 2 Starts Today

Just letting you all know that my Blood Thinning storyline begins updating today. In this storyline, you'll meet Knightfist- Knightfist is an icon, a legend, a superhero of the first order. He also has a secret that has forced him to seek out the services of IAC, the world's first super powered fertility clinic. Check it out at the website, www.superseedcomic.com.

And if you can't wait to read it in M-W-F update installments, you can always pick up a print copy over at Indyplanet.


ICE #3: Pages Rolling In!

It's so exciting to be working on multiple comic projects with talented artists. Every day, I look forward to checking my inbox as I've been getting a steady stream of art rolling in.

Here are a few penciled preview panels of ICE: Interrogation Control Element, done by artist Damian Couceiro. The guy is a major talent, and he's really blowing me away with the pages he's producing. This comic project doesn't have a lot of the usual "fun" stuff to draw...heroes in tights duking it out, hot chicks bent in impossible positions, etc. What it does have is real human drama and intensity, and I'm thrilled to see Damian knocking it out of the park.


CounterTERROR #5- Preview Images

Check out some exciting preview images from CounterTERROR! As you can see, artist Stefano Cardoselli is definitely on his game. Enjoy!