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.