Tuesday, December 29, 2009

above the fold



If you happen to browse the front page to today's Uniontown Herald-Standard newspaper, you will find the following topics highlighted: death, terrorism, death again, disease, natural disasters, more death, and Teddy and the Yeti.  Oh, and weather.

I mentioned a little while ago that I had been interviewed for a newspaper article - it made its way into the December 29th edition on the first page of the entertainment section.  What really stands out, though, is the almost three-dimensional picture of me in a Steelers sweatshirt popping up to obscure part of the paper's masthead, as if someone slapped a sticker of me on each and every edition as part of some concentrated joke.

Regardless of how unnerving it is to see yourself staring back at you from the newsstand, this is a great bit of publicity for the book, especially since it mentions tomorrow's book signing event at Evil Genius Comics in nearby California, PA (it's almost as if they planned it that way!!).  The quote selection ranges from spot on to curious (there's no way I ever said that Duane pencils 20 pages a month), but overall I'm very happy with how things turned out.  You can read the article here, while it's available - I think they take their articles down after a while, so get it while the getting's good!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The haul.


I hope that everyone had a great Christmas.  Getting stuff isn't the reason for the holiday, but it's ultimately what everyone asks you at one point or the other, and why yes, I did quite well for myself in that department, thanks for asking.

Some of the comic book related items I was lucky enough to get this year:
- The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
- Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud (I'm ashamed that I've never read this before)
- Saga of the Swamp Thing volume 2 (HEY-OOOOO!)
- Fantastic Four/Spider-Man Classics collection
- a kick-butt Thing painting from my buddy Mike

The giant Bender head isn't necessarily comic book related, as it's more of a television show, but they DO have a Futurama comic, so what the heck.  Futurama: The Complete Collection 1999-2009 DVD set is awesome.  And I HAVE the individual DVD sets already...which is ridiculous.  But I'm enjoying it just the same.

And here's a list of things that didn't make the list because they have nothing to do with comics but I'm telling you because they are great:
- Wonderfalls on DVD
- an Elroy Face (part of the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirate world champion team) autographed baseball
- a few Weird Al things - "Weird Al" Yankovic: Live DVD, the Jurassic Park single CD, and a Like a Surgeon picture disc 45.

So, yeah...I did alright.  I'd be interested in hearing what other people got, so go ahead and make me feel jealous, if you can.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Teddy and the Yeti signing at Evil Genius!




As issue #2 chugs along toward completion (promise), there's some more news regarding ye olde issue #1 - I dropped a few copies at Evil Genius Comics, located in California, PA (about 45 minutes south of Pittsburgh).  They were all great sports - speaking of sports, they have some great Steelers merchandise on sale - and asked that I come back and do a signing next week.

Things aren't 100% solidified, but it looks like I'll be there next week, on Wednesday, December 30th, from 4:00-6:00.  I'll be signing books, dancing, and fighting anyone who comes by with a challenge.  So even if you don't like comics, it sure will be a great time for all in attendance.


Evil Genius is located right across the street from California University of Pennsylvania, so if you're in town, stop on by and pick up a book!  Or...come and take a swing.  The info!

Evil Genius Comics, Cards and More
340 3rd St.
California, PA 15419

724-938-3535

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Casting the Teddy and the Yeti movie




There's no Teddy and the Yeti movie in the works, but who's to say there never will be?  Comics as movies are a hot property now and Teddy and the Yeti could be great on the big screen.  ARE YOU LISTENING, HOLLYWOOD?!?

Anyway, if I were to cast the primary roles for this fictional movie, there would be no other actor who could play the role of Ted than Jamie Bamber, perhaps best known for his role as Lee "Apollo" Adama from the recent Battlestar Galactica remake (which was fantastic, by the way).  Let's run down the list of his qualifications:

- He's a good actor
- He's British
- He's the right age

Hmm...am I missing anything?  Oh, right - he looks so close to how Ted is drawn in the comic that it's like Duane modeled the character after him.  He didn't - Duane actually used one of his friends as a model for Ted's basic look - but wow, what a resemblance.  This book needs to take off fast, if nothing else than because this might be the character Jamie Bamber was born to play.  Or at least look like.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Why does everything old have to be new again?



I realize that nostalgia plays a big part in comic book readers' reading habits.  Someone grows up reading about certain characters, that person falls in love with them, and he or she expects them to be around for life.  We grow attached to characters and no matter how long it's been since they were created, we want them to retain that essence that made us love them in the first place.

I will also point out my own hypocrisy in this matter.  If Marvel decided to permanently change the structure of the Fantastic Four, I would be bitter for just about ever.  If one or more of the characters died...ignoring all of the times one of them did and were resurrected a number of issues later...I would be inconsolable.

There's a big part of me, though, that likes to see progress in the characters I follow, which is one of my biggest hangups about many mainstream books.  The Flash (the Barry Allen version) is a high profile example of a restoration of the status quo within comics, though this one is fairly unique in that the character was "dead" since the mid 1980s.  To bring a character back to prominence after 25 years isn't unheard of (just look at Marvel's decision to bring back Bucky after he died at the end of World War II, though this was revealed in the 1960s), but it's not commonplace, and it makes me wonder just who under 50 years old was clamoring for the Flash's return.


Most of the exasperation on my part comes from the fact that Barry Allen's return is largely at Wally West's expense.  Wally West has been the Flash since Barry Allen died in heroic fashion in DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths #8, and I suppose that this is where my hypocrisy shows its true form: I hate seeing MY Flash get pushed to the back burner for a character that is probably my dad's favorite version of the character.

I was hoping that the miniseries Flash: Rebirth, which welcomes Barry Allen back into the DC land of the living, would be a red herring of sorts; I think it'd be quite the shock if, at the end of the series, Allen realizes that (for some reason) he CAN'T come back, that the world has passed the fastest man alive by, and he gracefully rides into the sunset, but that doesn't appear to be the case, especially with Wally West's new costume change.

All of this makes me wonder if, in 15 or 20 years, Wally and other 90s heroes like Kyle Rayner (who is always getting the short end of the stick as a Green Lantern) will be making a big comeback...and if I'll be part of the problem that I'm railing about now.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Another ad


I mentioned a while ago that I worked out an ad swap with Digital Webbing.  Fist of Justice has an ad in Teddy and the Yeti #1 for its fifth issue, and T&Y has the reciprocal - an ad for issue #1 in their issue #5.  The book came out a few months ago, and Teddy and the Yeti had an ad on the back cover, which was great placement.

The image to the left here is the ad I threw together for the Fist of Justice book, and as you can see, I sure am getting my money's worth from issue one's Phil Hester cover...as you'll recall, the Diamond ad and the mailer each used parts of this particular cover as well.

I chose the phrase "against all odds!" not because it reflected any story element or theme, but because I thought it sounded cool.  And it does!  What can you do?  Also, I obviously didn't know where to stop when putting names of contributors on the ad.  I'm so proud of the book and all of the talent working on it, I just couldn't help it.  I honestly almost left my name off of the ad (since I'm guessing no one really knows who I am and thus it wouldn't convince anyone to buy the book), but I figured that, hell, I wrote the damn thing, I'm gonna self advertise.  It wouldn't be the first time!

In case there is some crazy person who wants to collect EVERYTHING Teddy and the Yeti have appeared on - stranger things have happened, I'm sure, but I doubt anyone other than me does this - Fist of Justice #5 can be ordered here.  You might also want to order the book...because it's a fun book.  The E-Man variant edition of issue five does not have the Teddy and the Yeti ad, in case you were curious.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Become a fan of Teddy and the Yeti on Facebook!



As if the Internet(s) didn't give you enough to do with your time, now you have another task to cross off your list: you must become a fan of Teddy and the Yeti on Facebook.  YOU MUST.

I was fairly shocked when I saw the site, because - and I know this is hard to believe - I had nothing to do with creating the fan page.  Nothing!  I just found it.  At first I was terrified, because I naturally assume the worst and figured that someone was trying to use the characters for themselves, but that's not the case.  It seems that someone from the UK-based Working Class Heroes, a shop that sells bikes, clothes, and, apparently, Teddy and the Yeti #1, decided to create the page, and I couldn't be happier.

You'll remember that T&Y artist Duane Redhead is from Ulverston, a town in England, as is Working Class Heroes, which is what I assume the connection is here.

I immediately because a fan, which is a bit weird, because...I'm the co-creator.  But I'm still a fan.  So it works.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It's nice to know that someone else REALLY likes yetis...



I came across a blog on Tuesday with a rather specific theme...apparently, if this is any indication, the yeti (in the general cryptozoology sense, not to be confused with Teddy and the Yeti's yeti) has itself quite the following, and quite the (pop) cultural history.

Once I found the blog, I mentioned Teddy and the Yeti to the site's main author, and look!  He's already mentioned the comic...and the Yeti doll that I have such high hopes for.  Check out the site if you've got the chance at http://ilovetheyeti.blogspot.com/, and you'll find tons of references to yetis, including the snow yeti that you see below.

In a not-so-unrelated story, I would totally do an interview with the author of that site if he asked.  Ah hem.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Someone apparently finds it worthwhile to Twitter about Teddy and the Yeti



I will start off by saying that I don't really get Twitter.  However, I never really got blogging either, and look at me now - I guess I like to talk about myself in a round about fashion, so I guess you never say never.

At any rate, my good friend Larry sent me a link to ComicList's news bulletin from December 5th that Twittered...uh, Twotted...Tweeted...whatever - linked here and posted here, complete with the Teddy and the Yeti logo!  The actual article is two sentences long (the English teacher in me says it would work better as one), and the rest is just a big long quote from this very blog discussing Teddy and the Yeti's move from Diamond to Haven Distributors.  Other sites have picked up on this news as well, so T&Y's distribution change is dominating the Google search right now.

This is interesting for a few reasons.  First and foremost, the fact that someone actually reads this blog is strange and terrific.  Furthermore, the fact that someone thought that the snag with distributing the book qualified as actual comic book news enough to report on it makes me stare blankly at my computer screen.  It's actually quite validating in its own way, to think that someone is out there quoting me...on this blog.  Weird.

Monday, December 14, 2009

More random updates


Time for more random junk more or less relating to Teddy and the Yeti!

- As I mentioned a few days ago, another big online retailer is carrying Teddy and the Yeti in its...okay, it's a physical warehouse, but it's fun to think that the book will somehow take up a certain amount of space in some electronic database.  Mile High Comics ordered a handful of books, and I sent out the package today...so I'd imagine they'll have it up for sale in the next week or so.

This is the second big retailer to pick up the book after Midtown Comics got their big order in earlier last week.

Please insert your favorite John Denver song here.

- New Dimension Comics' exclusive edition of Teddy and the Yeti #1 is set to go to the printer tomorrow.  It's...basically the same as the regular Teddy and the Yeti #1.  BUT IT'S GOT A NEW COVER!  So that means it's cool.  There will be 50 of these comics on sale on the NDC website, which doesn't seem like a lot, but for a small market book like T&Y, if you want one...you'll be able to find it.  I imagine I'll get the books back within a few weeks.


- My plans on exhibiting at Comic Con International in 2010 have hit a snag...for about four years.  Apparently (and now that I think about it, obviously) there's a three-to-four year waiting period to even get a chance to make an appearance at the San Diego show, so the chances to see Wagon Wheel Comics at the show (at least behind a booth) are pretty nonexistant.

I made it in 2006 with Mr. Massive #1 (as a small press exhibitor), and perhaps that was just luck of the draw.  We'll see what happens with the New York con, where I'll be applying for a small press booth.  I hope that I can make it to at least one major convention...before 2014, anway.

- Perhaps I should be more judicious with the tags that I give these postings, because dammit!  Look at that monster of a list over on the right side of the page.  So many key words.  In a year, it'll be down to the bottom of the page.  Perhaps it will need another entire page just to list all of the tags.  Oh well.


- This has nothing to do with Teddy and the Yeti.  Well, I am involved, so I suppose it tangentially does.  Also, Larry (big fan of the blog) is as well, so that counts for something.

Anyway, Larry and I will be performing our Franks and Beans sketch comedy...thing as part of "Laughrica", a night of stand up and sketch comedy to benefit a humanitarian mission to Africa.  The event takes place at the Oakland Center for the Arts in Youngstown, Ohio on Friday the 18th of this month at 8:00 pm.  You should come...and see me either do a great job or a terrible one.  There really won't be any middle ground...it'll be one or the other.  The anticipation is palpable!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Pretend it's Friday, then go here.



Brian Michael Bendis, along with being a prolific and popular comic book writer, has also developed a pretty strong Internet following on his website, www.jinxworld.com.  From this site you can go over to his message board, which is teeming with the usual message board stuff - good and bad.  I can't say that I've been an active member of any message board community for years now (I guess they just lost their appeal after a while), but I still manage to head over there once a week for a posting titled "Weird images I found while surfing this week".



I don't know the person who tirelessly scours the Internet(s) every week for the dozens of strange and funny pictures found within this posting, but I want to shake his hand.  He's continued to bring me something to look forward to, week after week, for years now.



There's a lot of comic book related jokes, but there's plenty of stuff there even if you've never read a comic in your life.  Not all of the pictures are as PG-rated as the examples I'm posting here (uploaded of my own right, not hotlinked...which would be a jerk thing to do), so please don't go there with the wrong impression - some of the pictures aren't for everyone (it's mostly language that some might find offensive).  But if you need a laugh every Friday, hop over to that site, click on the "search" function, and type in the aforementioned "Weird images I found while surfing this week".



If your sense of humor is anywhere close to mine, you'll be glad you did.






Saturday, December 12, 2009

What I'm reading right now

There are few unequivocal truths in the universe, but here are two of them:

1) I will never be as good a writer as Alan Moore

2) I will never have a beard as scary as Alan Moore's

I hesitate not in the slightest at either one of these statements.  In all seriousness, I think of Alan Moore as the greatest comic book writer in the medium's history.  I am an absolute captive to Neil Gaiman's writing, and it can't be denied what Will Eisner has done for the industry, but Moore is the writer who, for me, sits at the top of the field.  I think he has the body of work to back up such a claim, as well, with Watchmen, V for Vendetta and From Hell on his resume.  So when DC Comics (through their Vertigo imprint) released the first volume of Moore's Saga of the Swamp Thing collection, I bought it right away, and it has not disappointed.

The Swamp Thing might best be remembered for the live action television series that lasted three seasons in the early 1990s, but the book with Moore at the helm is the definitive take on the character.  I mean, think about it - the character is called "The Swamp Thing".  Literally, "the thing from the swamp."  A guy gets blown to hell and lands in a swamp...and becomes a super hero.  With all due respect to Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, creators of the character, what?!  This is the origin tale?  Not that there aren't tons of unbelievable creation stories out there (nearly every Marvel character from the 1960s should have died of radiation poisoning), but this one just seems silly.  Moore took that concept and made it work.  Swamp Thing wasn't Alec Holland, it was just "a plant that was trying its level best to be Alec Holland."

Horror comics usually are simply filled with gore or just have some ironic twist to them; Swamp Thing is genuinely frightening.  Super hero books are sometimes vapid and shallow; Swamp Thing is layered and meaningful.  Comics from the 1980s are often lackluster; Swamp Thing is fulfilling.  From Moore's first issue, you can tell that he has a plan, and he sticks to it throughout.  Supporting characters add meaning to the overall story.  Guest stars, including the Demon and the Justice League, are used appropriately and respectfully.  But through it all, you know that this is the Swamp Thing's book, even when he/it doesn't appear much in some issues.  All in all, it's a breathtaking piece of work.

If you couldn't tell, I am in love with this book.  I can't recommend it highly enough.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Teddy and the Yeti at Midtown Comics


Midtown Comics is a comic shop with one of its locations in Times Square.  This, for many reasons, is awesome.  What is also awesome is how Midtown Comics will soon be carrying copies of Teddy and the Yeti.

Ever since the debacle with Diamond dropping the book from their distribution plans, I've been working to get Teddy and the Yeti #1 into as many stores as possible.  It's one thing to drive around to comic shops in my general area, and it's another to reach out to shops that have a sizable online presence as well.  Midtown Comics is one of those companies that also has a great, popular online store for people all over the world to venture into...from an electronic standpoint.

Yes, I do sell copies of T&Y on my own website, and (hey!) I have made some sales there.  But from my own perspective, I see why someone would rather shop at one of these online sites with a large selection.  If you want to buy a copy of the book directly from me, that's basically all you're getting - until the second issue comes out, you can get that first issue...and that's it.  Order seventeen if you'd like, but I know that I'm much more likely to take advantage of some of the shipping deals that some sites offer and order some other books along with Teddy and the Yeti #1...so for this reason, if nothing else, I'm really excited.


I'm currently talking with at least one other big online retailer about carrying Teddy and the Yeti, and they seem pretty receptive to it - as in, they've said they will carry the book - but I don't want to announce anything else until it is finalized.  In the meantime, I shipped off a sizable box to Long Island City, New York today, and I eagerly await seeing it listed on their online site.  It gives this book such a broader reach than it previously had.  Look for it soon!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cover preview, part 5 - New Dimension Comics exclusive



After the release of Teddy and the Yeti #1 a week and a half ago, I've gotten some really nice compliments on the book, but perhaps none as encouraging as from the folks at New Dimension Comics, who have been gracious enough to not only let me premier the book at their store, but have now agreed to sponsor a exclusive, low-run print of a future Teddy and the Yeti issue.  New Dimension Comics has done similar things in the past, offering exclusive covers to books like the Transformers and Witchblade, and I'm obviously thrilled to be a part of this.

The above artwork is from Alan Gallo, who has a great take on the characters.  I'm designing this cover similarly to recent variant "white" covers that Marvel has put out as of late, in that there will be the characters and a simple white background.  It brings the characters into focus and, hey, I think it looks cool.  Karin Rindevall will be coloring this, as she has done with all of T&Y's covers.

The exclusive copy will be for sale at the store and on their website...whenever it gets done.  Which should be soon.  I hope.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Merchandise.


Let it never be said that I am not self aggrandizing an opportunistic bastard an unconscionable miser entrepreneurial when it comes to Teddy and the Yeti.  Let it also never be said that I'm not thrilled with the idea of having more physical products relating to the characters - it makes it all feel more "real".

For this reason, I contacted Jennifer Sorensen of MonkeyCat Productions on the strangely alluring website, Etsy.  Jennifer worked with reference from the comic to create the Yeti doll you see to your right.  It turned out pretty well, if I do say so.

The question you are all asking is surely "can I buy ten of these immediately and give them out as Christmas presents?"  The answer to that is a resounding "NO!"  Well, okay...perhaps it's not as forceful.  But still, no.  I'm not saying that more of these dolls will never be reproduced, but we're not at that stage right now - I look at this as a prototype from anything to come in the future.  But it would be nice to think that I could possibly have more than one thing to directly buy on the website.

The doll is roughly 15 inches in height (about 38 centimeters to our metric friends) and has white fur and a deep purple textured fabric for the hands, feet and face.

Like I said, this makes for a good prototype/template.  If I were to try my own hand at making one (that is...ask my mom to help), I might look at other materials, etc., but right now I'm more than happy with this one sitting on my shelf right now.  And hey, there's my euphorbia plant and record stack in the background!  YES!!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Garmin's Yeti...with a Teddy


Garmin, the GPS company with the "Carol of the Bells" parody, is back this year with another version of the annual Christmastime commercial.  This one, which you can view (if you like to watch commercials for some reason) here, is probably the strangest one I've seen yet.  What caught my attention, of course, was its inclusion of a Yeti and his Teddy.  See?  It's on the cusp of pop culture stardom!  I knew I was on to something.  Or maybe it just rhymes.  Whatever.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The things I do for free publicity.


I recently conducted an interview with a reporter from the Uniontown, PA Herald-Standard, a paper from back home, about Teddy and the Yeti and comics in general.  I will say that the interviewer was knowledgeable and didn't ask questions like "they still make comics?" or "is Superman in your book?", which right away means that things went well.  I will post a link when the article sees print, and then we can all marvel at my thrilling answers.

Articles like the one that will be based around my interview are always one part information to two parts promotion, and as such I tried to make all my answers sound important; overall, I tried to sound like I knew what I was talking about.  The danger is that I came off sounding like I was full of myself, and I worry about that - I don't want the heading to be "pompous windbag makes a comic".  We'll see.

At the end of the interview, I asked the reporter if I could e-mail a scan of the book's cover - what better way to showcase the book than with a picture of it! - to which she agreed, and then said "and send a picture with you holding the book, too!"

I was afraid of this.  It's not that I don't want my picture in the paper or that I don't like to have my picture taken.  Let's face it, I'm extremely good looking.  I just imagine people I went to high school with picking up the newspaper and seeing me plastered on page one of the arts and entertainment section.  I imagine they'd look at it for a moment, read the caption, and think "Jeff always was pretty weird."  It's just awkward, is all.  Oh well.  I suppose that a newspaper could put a picture of me on every page if it means they're promoting the book in a roundabout fashion.

The above picture is what I sent to the paper, sans mustache.  I drew the mustache for our purposes here, because as we all know, mustaches are funny.  And look!  Rusty's in the background, too.  Hey, fella!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Lost callings


It's a fairly well-known fact, in my estimation, anyway, that nearly every comic book writer wishes he or she was also a comic book artist, at least to the point where one could draw a book if that's what was necessary.  To this point, these feelings of inequity are only exacerbated when convention season springs up, as anyone who wanders over and peeks at your book will inevitably ask you the question: "did you draw this?"

The next few moments are filled with awkward apologies for lack of desirable skill with a pencil and brush.  After all, artists seem to become writers at a pretty standard clip, and even if their stories aren't necessarily all that great, hey - at least the art is nice.  Writers don't have such luck - comics are a visual medium and as such, the art is what first strikes the onlooker.  Comments that usually follow are of this variety: "uh, I'm sure the story is good, too"; "never mind, then"; or my favorite, "oh, I'm sorry."  It's just something that comic writers have had to deal with, and I'm happy to do so to get to work with individuals who are, after all, so talented at what they do.

I encountered a few good-natured folk while selling Teddy and the Yeti #1 at New Dimension Comics a week ago who asked the aformentioned question - was I the one who drew the book?  Naturally, I wasn't going to lie to them, as that would be a disservice to Duane and his many hours of hard work, but I made the shop-goers a deal: if they bought a copy of the issue, I'd try my damnedest and draw them a sketch of one of the characters on the backing board that came with the comic.  After a while, I stopped asking and just drew them something, and most of them seemed pleased.  The above is an example of what I churned out; I will mention that I was looking at a page of the book while drawing, and it wouldn't be too difficult to find the particular panel in question if curiosity really gets ya.

Overall, I'm happy with the result - I just scribbled some lines and what do you know?  It kind of looks like the Yeti.  What I really find funny is that I know some people will be more excited about something that took me two minutes to draw than they will be about my entire scripting process.  Such is life, my friends, such is life.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Someone please caption this.


I hope that everyone had a nice Thanksgiving - even those of you who are not American, don't celebrate American Thanksgiving, and are probably Communist as a result.  I had a great break complete with turkey, pumpkin pie, football (AMERICAN football) and on the following day, a book signing at New Dimension Comics.

As you can tell from the picture above, the signing went extremely well and people lined up to get the first issue of Teddy and the Yeti (so well I had to put the book in three separate places!).

In all honesty, the three hour event did go over pretty well.  I got to sell a few books, but even more exciting was the opportunity to meet with people and talk to them about the characters, the book, and random comics. I even drew sketches of Teddy and the Yeti for anyone who bought a copy, and they didn't all look like crap!  As long as expectations were kept low, anyway.

In any case, I had a great time, and much of that is due to the generosity of those at New Dimension Comics for giving me the space to set up and sell the book.  Also, Larry was there to keep me company and to point out the Franks and Beans advertisement that somehow made it into issue #1.  It's his favorite page in the whole book.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Teddy and the Yeti changes distributors; world does not explode



I'm sure there are plenty of quotes out there from others infinitely more famous than I am dealing with the subject of adversity and perseverance and persistence, so I'd like you, the reader, to take the time and find one, read it, reflect on it, and then come back to this posting.  It doesn't have to be from some stodgy reference manual like Bartlett's Familiar Quotations (though that is a good source, and I've got the 17th edition sitting on my bookshelf right now) - Google works just fine.  Anyway, let's take a few minutes, find a good, uplifting/conciliatory quote, and meet back here in a few minutes, okay?  Okay.

...

Are you finishe-oop, sorry, I'll wait a bit longer.

...

Ready?  Okay, good.

As the title suggests, Teddy and the Yeti has switched distributors from Diamond to Haven.  This is because Diamond has decided not to carry the title; the preorders were not to their liking and thus they went ahead and cancelled all orders placed, modest as they were.

Obviously, this creates a few issues, few of them good.  Diamond does not explain why titles are cancelled from their distribution list; retail shops simply get a letter or e-mail with a notice that the book will not ship.  When dealing with a brand new book from a brand new publishing company, such as Teddy and the Yeti, the invariable assumption is that the book was not completed or was egregiously different from the solicitation information.  Neither is true regarding Teddy and the Yeti #1, but in that regard, the damage has been done.

Additionally, those individual customers who did place orders will most likely just assume that the book was never completed, which discourages them from trying out not just Teddy and the Yeti but small press books in general, and that's a shame.  You've certainly got to be picky with books from small publishers, because the quality varies tremendously, but there are some great books out there to be read if you look for them.

Make no mistake, these are discouraging signals from Diamond, but it in no way means that you can't still get a copy of Teddy and the Yeti #1 (and subsequent issues, for that matter) if you want it - you may just have to search a little harder for it, and I hope that you, the comic book reader, will do that.

First, a few hours after being dropped by Diamond, I was contacted by the fine folks at Haven Distributors.  Haven, frankly, does not have the market share that Diamond does, but they are a solid #2 and a lot of successful companies have their books shipped by Haven, such as Top Shelf, Bongo (they publish the Simpsons and Futurama comics) and Viper (publisher of Teddy and the Yeti's first appearance in Josh Howard Presents: Sasquatch).  If your comic shop orders from Haven - and there's no reason it can't - you can get Teddy and the Yeti shipped to your pull folder just as you had before.  The order code is TEDYWAG001, and it should be listed on their online catalogue as I type this.

Second, I've done my best to create an actual online store where you can order the book directly from me...the guy who currently has nearly all of the books stored in his spare bedroom (let me tell you - that comic book ink smell, I'm convinced, will kill you if you stay in that room too long.  It's overwhelming).

I just ran a rudimentary test and everything is working fine, so you can order directly and save yourself some hassle.  I've lowered the price to $2.99, though shipping comes into play.  I tried to be as fair as possible when it comes to shipping, and I decided on $1.50 for up to five books, which is a total that probably won't be reached until there's at least the second issue up and ready to purchase.  It's still cheaper for you to buy the book from your local comic shop, but if there's no other way for you to get the comic, you can find it on the official website.

Third, I'll be contacting comic book stores directly, and I will be leaving copies of the book personally at whatever stores I can.  This increases the chance that I'll be doing more signings like the one I'm doing at the Century III New Dimension Comics in West Mifflin, PA, which in turn increases YOUR chance at meeting and, perhaps, assaulting me at your hometown comic shop.  Stores with big online shipping sections like Mile High Comics and Lone Star Comics are also on my hit list, so to speak, which should make things easier for everyone involved.

Fourth and lastly, I will be stepping up my convention schedule.  Originally I had planned on reserving a booth at 2010's New York Comic-Con to show off the book.  Now I'm trying to add Pittsburgh and the big show in San Diego to that list.  None of these shows are confirmed yet, but I'm going to give it the ol' McClelland try and see what happens.

I'd like to apologize to anyone who preordered Teddy and the Yeti #1 from Diamond.  I can sympathize with your frustration, to be sure.  I hope that you can see that I'm doing everything I can to make sure that the book is available to as wide an audience as possible, and if it comes down to it, dammit, send me and e-mail and I'll do what I can do mail you the book myself.  The book is complete, printed, and sitting in my house right now.  I will do my best to make sure it gets in stores so you can plunk down some cash for 32 pages of comic book goodness.

We'll see how that works out.

Friday, November 20, 2009

When will people realize you can't just lift up a manhole cover?








One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from famed director Alfred Hitchcock, who noted that you can make an audience believe the impossible, but not the implausible.  I try to keep this in mind while writing, and it's a tool that I wish more writers - in comics and other mediums - would follow.

In comics, for instance, I have no trouble believing that Superman, as a character, can exist.  Alien from a doomed planet, just happens to look human, gets powers from the Sun being a different color than his...I'm fine with that.  Bruce Banner gets bombarded with Gamma radiation, and instead of, I don't know, dying of cancer, he turns into the Hulk.  Beyond where he gets all that extra mass he's lugging around (and how his pants stay on), I'm fine with it.  Absolutely!  That's integral to the plot, and I can suspend my disbelief for things like that with no problem.

However, I have to draw the line when it comes to events that are just too implausible, even in a world where the Flash can run near the speed of light and not catch on fire from the friction or suffocate from the lack of oxygen (I know, I know...he's got his "protective aura".  Whatever that is.)  I absolutely cannot stand when a character, perhaps one fleeing some imminent danger, decides to take to the sewers as a means of refuge or escape.  This character spots a nearby manhole and makes a break for it.  He or she slyly LIFTS THE MANHOLE COVER out of place, takes the ladder down into the hole, then slides the cover back into place, slipping out of sight.

Don't people realize that manhole covers weigh, like, 300 pounds (136 kg to our international readers)?  Seriously, go outside now, locate the nearest manhole, and try to move it.  Give it a try!  Unless you have something that gives you a decent amount of leverage, it's not going to budge.  If manhole covers were really as easy to move as you'd see in a movie or in a comic book, people would steal them all the time.  College students would take them and hang them up on their walls like they do with street signs.  People would have fun and toss them around like an oversized Frisbee.  Ever wonder why this doesn't happen?  Because it's near impossible to move them.  When work crews come and need to remove a manhole cover, they have tools to facilitate this.  They don't just bend down and grab it.

The above pictures are all from comics I purchased in the last month (though one is, admittedly, a reprint).  None of the characters so nonchalantly grabbing the manhole covers in question is imbued with super strength.  I suppose you could make the case for the Ninja Turtles being stronger than people, but even that's a stretch.  My point is, these writers are all talented.  They work on popular books and characters.  Why, then, do they write such ridiculous, implausible scenarios into their books?

I want to write a scene in a book one day where a character tries to go into the sewer by lifting a manhole cover, and instead of gaining instant access, he gets a hernia from the effort.  Also, I want to write a character who shouts "people only use ten percent of their brains!", and immediately have that character get hit by a bus.  That's one of the most unbelievable phrases I continue to hear and see in various forms of media.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Teddy and the Yeti gets its (Google) due


My good friend Larry sent me this picture on Monday - it appears that Teddy and the Yeti has become so (Internet) famous that search engine benchmark Google has added it to its auto-complete function.  I'm really not sure how this comes to pass - perhaps enough people have to search for a term for it to be included, or perhaps it's the number of online references.  Regardless, it's nice to see Teddy and the Yeti getting its due in this manner, if for no other reason than it was frustrating to type in "Teddy and the Yet" and STILL get no Google suggestion.

Now it's time to sneak up on stalwarts such as 60s rock group Teddy and the Pandas, teddy and the bear mechanical bank - a coin bank featuring the US President KILLING A BEAR - and Teddy and the Frat Girls, named after mass murderer Ted Bundy.  It's a tough road to the top.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The dreaded swine flu strikes again.


I just got word that Teddy and the Yeti artist (and he of the adjectival last name) Duane Redhead is laid up with H1N1 - better known as the swine flu, which, I think, would make a great "catch" for a comic book villain.  Or, better yet, they should put out an issue of a book where various super heroes hunt down all of the pig-themed villains in the name of worldwide sanitation.

Of course, this is a serious matter, but as Duane has still been e-mailing me, I can only expect a full recovery for him and his wife, who, as a school teacher, is probably to blame for this whole mess (I'd like to point out my facetious nature in regards to that last statement, lest someone takes my jocular comments in the wrong context).

About a month ago I was put out of commission by something very similar - it was the flu for sure, and while it certainly could have been the swine flu, I never went to the doctor to check, so...  I can attest that being sick in this manner is absolutely no fun at all - when I was down and out, my days consisted of sleeping for 14 hours, waking up in a semi-functional state for 30 minutes, feeling terrible, and then going back to bed again, waking up only to cough up various fluids from time to time.

My thoughts and prayers are with Duane.  I hope that he recovers soon enough for me to cajole him into drawing more Teddy and the Yeti, selfish bastard that I am.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Colors by Carol J.!


Above is a page from Teddy and the Yeti's second issue, which, now that I think about it, is fast approaching being shipped off to the printer (meaning I have to get moving on lettering, dammit).  Karin Rindevall was a little behind with this issues, so I found Caroline Jamhour ready and waiting.  I hope you'll agree that we haven't lost a step - Karin is a tough act to follow, but I think that Caroline keeps the quality of the book very high.  I'm thrilled to be working with her.

Caroline is an artist located in Brazil, which also means that Teddy and the Yeti has become even more multicultural.  We've now had people from four different continents work on the book: North America (United States and Canada), Europe (England, Sweden, Germany), Asia (Philippines) and South America (Brazil).  Africa, Australia and Antarctica need to start picking up the slack!  Seriously.

You can see more of Caroline's work here, and marvel at juuuust how girly it truly is.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Reviews...kind of.


I've been lucky enough to have some of my work published in the past.  Other than one issue of Mr. Massive (and a preview "zero" issue of Teddy and the Yeti), other companies have handled the printing and publishing chores, for which I've been even luckier.  For whatever reason, though, everything else I've done has been quite short on reviews.

It's not that I expect to be a household name or to have my work read by lots of people.  But writing in any form is a lonely business, and it's nice when people leave their comments, professional or otherwise, and so far those comments have been few and far between.

I wonder if it's just because I rarely write anything very controversial.  In Josh Howard Presents: Sasquatch, Teddy and the Yeti went up against one story where Bigfoot joined the US Army and mutilated Osama Bin Laden; in Strip Search, there was a story about lesbian robots (I'm exaggerating...and it actually was a pretty decent tale).  Still, these are both books that had a fairly wide release and are still available to this day, and you'd figure someone would talk about my entries at some point.

The same can be said for the Amazing Transforming Superhero, an academic collection of essays on how certain characters have been revised as times have changed.  My entry on the Thing (of course...what else?) perhaps got lost in the shuffle as there were some fairly brilliant pieces surrounding it, and I haven't heard much reaction, good or bad, until I did a bit of searching a while ago, and finally found some words about my contribution.  Sort of.

In 2007 (the year the book was released), the SF Site reviewed the book to find that The Amazing Transforming Superhero wasn't for everyone, which, as a collection of conference essays, would figure. The reviewer then goes on to mention that "Nevertheless, there are several points of minor interest to the comics fanatic.  Some of which, I was pleased to find as an occasional comic book reader of long standing, were new to me.  Among them are; Ben Grimm's religious heritage..."

JACKPOT!  Four words, not bad.

The online journal Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture also reviewed the book, this one in their fourth issue of 2008.  Reviewer Christian Pyle had this to say: "A wide variety of other topics complete this anthology.  Jeff McClelland looks at how the Thing of the Fantastic Four has developed over time from a Yancy Street everyman to a devout Jew."

That isn't necessarily the point of my essay, but HEY!  What the heck...I'm even mentioned by name!

Sigh.  I'm sure there'll come a point, if I keep at it, where someone will either love or hate something I write enough to espouse or deride it in more than just a few sentences.  I await that day with baited breath.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

sketch cards


A few months ago, I bought a sketch card featuring the Thing by the legendary Fred Hembeck; it currently adorns my bookshelf, leaning back near C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters.  Sometimes I find that I have to stop myself from heading over to eBay and spending a crapload of money on all of the other great cards they have up for auction, because let's face it - I already spend too much on comics every month to justify TOO many more hobbies.

Sketch cards seem to be pretty popular right now - they're small enough that an artist can churn a good number of them out and make some quick cash, while others can afford to buy them as opposed to full pages of original comic book artwork, which can go for several hundred or even thousands of dollars, depending on the artist and characters involved (every once in a while I see early Fantastic Four artwork from Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott, and I just about die).

It goes without saying that I hope Teddy and the Yeti one day garner enough fame to warrant sketch cards of their own - though that's not too far of a stretch as I've seen some rather obscure characters on cards.  If there are any artists reading this post, know that if you'd draw one of those two characters on a card and place it up on eBay, it'd be almost the same thing as reaching into my pocket and taking my wallet...because I think I'd pay stupid amounts of money to make sure I got it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Black Friday at New Dimension Comics: Teddy and the Yeti #1



I recently spoke to the good folks at New Dimension Comics, which is a chain of stores around the Pittsburgh area, and they've asked me to launch Teddy and the Yeti at their Century III store the Friday after Thanksgiving - or, as we like to call it, Black Friday.  As it's easily the busiest shopping day of the year, I naturally agreed and we're working on the smaller details right now.  It's a great opportunity to get the book in front of people who otherwise wouldn't know of it, and I'm always looking to scare random strangers, so it seemed like a natural fit.

I'll post some of the finer details at a later point (like when I'll be there), but for now I'm just happy to have this set up.  If you're in the Pittsburgh area and would like to get a copy of Teddy and the Yeti #1 before it goes on sale anywhere else, stop by and say hello.  Well, I mean, you have to buy a copy if you want it, but say hello regardless, because that's just good manners.

The address:

New Dimension Comics
Century III Mall
3075 Clairton Rd. #940
West Mifflin, PA 15213

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thank goodness for YouTube.



My good friend Larry (yes, he of Franks and Beans fame) recently added to my Thing collection (there are weirder things to collect...I think) when he found the object in the center of the above picture at a used toy shop somewhere in the magical land of Pittsburgh.  The bottom is made from a hard plastic, but from the waist up it's built from a flexible, hollow rubbery substance, and to top it off, there's a medium sized straw-like protrusion sticking out of its back.  This was, of course, rather perplexing to both of us, but a little bit of research shed some light on this strange figure.

This Thing was made in 1978 by the Funstuf company, and it seems I have an incomplete version of the toy (though, obviously, I have the most important piece).  The complete version comes with a pump, clasps to hold the arms down, and a...well, a box to put it in.  Check out this 1970s commercial to get a better idea of the hours and hours of fun you can have with this toy:



Just think!  If I had the pump and the box, I could do things like put the thing in the box, pump twice, and see him break out!  Then I could...uh...put him in the box again, pump a couple more times, and...see him break out.  After that, I could...well...put it back on the shelf.

What a bizarre figure.  As Larry pointed out, though, you'd be hard pressed to get a toy that did ANYTHING back in 1978, so perhaps I'm being too critical.  I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that this is the ugliest Thing in my collection - but I love it for just that reason.  Now to look for that box...

To think, if this were twenty years ago (and I was just a wee lad at eight years old), I would probably be beating my head against a wall trying to figure out what in the world this toy was and what its purpose could possibly be.  But thanks to the wonder that is the Internets, all it took was the copyright information on the bottom of the Thing's foot, about ten minutes and a Google link to YouTube to come to this satisfactory conclusion.  Thank goodness for it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The books are in.










...and they look absolutely fantastic.  I couldn't be happier with the overall quality.  It's like...well, it's like reading an actual comic book, which I guess IS THE POINT!, but it's a different feeling when you're holding the book in your hands.  For those of you that ordered a copy, please know that it is safe and sound, residing in my house, waiting to be shipped off to your place, wherever that might be.  If it makes it any more enticing, I will personally kiss each issue that goes out.  If that makes you uncomfortable, forget all about what I just said.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Requiem for Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four

From a fan's perspective, it's comforting to know that some books will NEVER be cancelled - as long as there's a DC Comics, there'll be Action Comics, and as long as the courts stay on their side, it'll star Superman more often than not.  As long as there's a Marvel Comics, there'll be Amazing Spider-Man, Captain America and Fantastic Four titles - their flagship books.  While this may lead to a lull in creativity or a stagnation of character traits, the part of me that views these creations as old friends (in a very loose sense) can find solace in knowing that month after month, I can still pick up these titles if I so choose.  If I'd quit collecting comics for 20 years, chances are I could walk into a future comic shop (or perhaps I'd just think my way inside) and grab the latest issue of Fantastic Four.  I'd probably have a pretty good idea about what was going on, too.  This doesn't always extend to satellite books, though.

A few months ago, Fantastic Four Giant Size Adventures came out as a one-shot issue.  I was a little curious as to why Marvel would put out this book when Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four was an ongoing title, though I soon surmised that this was because MA:FF had been cancelled.  This is a shame because the book was consistently solid, and more often than a few times it was the best Fantastic Four book on the shelves.

Much of my praise goes out to writer Paul Tobin, who took this book - aimed at a younger audience as are all the titles under the Marvel Adventures banner - and told good, self contained stories without dumbing down the characters to make them more accessible.  Though every story had to be finished in 22-or-so pages, the characters still retained their spark, the essence of who they were and what made them such likable fictional characters.

It was obvious, at least in my opinion, that Tobin's favorite character in the book (perhaps in the entire Marvel Universe) was the Thing, which was right up my alley.  Often the books would read as "Marvel Adventures Thing and his pals the Fantastic Four", and don't let anyone tell you that was a bad thing - having Ben Grimm get all the best lines and the most scenes gave me a pretty good idea of how I'D write the book if I had the chance.

The last issue of the series, #48, ranks right up there with some of my favorite Fantastic Four stories of all time.  Galactus transports the team to the end of time, where the world-eater awaits the end of the current universe and the beginning of the next - an event that he and only he will survive.  As he prepares for the inevitable, Galactus employs the FF to fend off various iterations of contemporary super villains, as they could disrupt his plans.

As the team holds off the desperate schemes of the villains and returns to their own time, they are confused as to why a being as powerful as Galactus would have needed their help in the first place.  Reed Richards realizes that this was Galactus's way of saying goodbye, of getting to see the closest thing he's had to friends one last time before the end.  Mr. Fantastic looks Galactus straight in the eyes, shakes his hand, and says, "I'll miss you, too."

It's stuff like that that most writers miss, and it's stuff like that that I appreciate the most.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Random updates

...get it? The image is of the character "Random" from X-Force...or X-Factor...one of those X-Men spinoff teams. Whatever. Anyway, a few updates to pass along, none big enough to warrant a long rant:

- I've updated this blog site just a bit by adding a few widgets to the side bar over on the right. Now you can search all posts (just like you've always wanted!), and wander through the maze that is the largest, most incomprehensible tag cloud with all the many, many labels I've used in the past.

You want to know how many times I've used "The Thing" as a tag? Four! (well, now it's five.) How about "Pittsburgh"? Take a peek on the right...and you just might find out! I've even tagged Sarah Palin once, for who knows what reason.

- Todd Nauck has agreed to do an interview for Teddy and the Yeti issue #2. As you'll recall (YOU WILL!), Todd drew the Mr. Massive cover to the same issue. Phil Hester was kind enough to do the same for issue #1 - a cover and an interview. I wasn't sure if I could get a hold of Todd, but I was able to a few days ago.

- They're having a ridiculous sale over at Toyrocket.com, the place I preorder most of my Futurama toys from. I'm not sure how long the sale - 50-90% off their entire stock - will last, but I moved on it as soon as I got the e-mail: among a few other things, I got the Marvel Legends 1st Appearance Thing figure for five bucks!

- I got an e-mail from Pat Olliffe on Thursday saying that his Teddy and the Yeti cover is done. He both penciled and inked it, and I'll be getting it in the mail in a few days. This is theoretically the cover to issue #4, though Duane and I may take some time off after #3...so we'll see what eventually happens.

- Teddy and the Yeti #1 is officially on its way from Brenner Printing to my house. I should get all 2,000 issues by Tuesday, at which time I'll have to figure out where to put them between now and when I ship the orders off to Diamond's various warehouses.

- Teddy and the Yeti #1 is currently number 40 on Exclamation Comics' top 100 best selling comic books of the day, outranking Dark Reign: Hawkeye #5, Haunt #1 and Deadpool Team-Up #899. I have no idea what this means in any real context.

- Artist Nick Acs has a new blog with art from a backup story that will be featured in a future issue of Teddy and the Yeti. It was posted on October 25th, and as of now it's very much the only post on the site. Which is awesome.

That's all I've got! And a great time was had by all.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fate Magazine


As has been mentioned before, I do the "occasional" Google search for mentions of Teddy and the Yeti. Many times the results point right back to this blog, while others come from the standard Previews issue description online retailers have picked up on. In all, there aren't a whole lot of surprises, save for one curious result from Fate Magazine. Their online preview of the January-February issue includes a table of contents listing for "Presidential Bigfoot: Teddy and the Yeti" by Gary W. Hemphill, which, upon making this discovery, scared me right to high hell.

I'm sure a listing like this might make a lot of people worry. For one, the magazine is using the EXACT NAME I've chosen for the book, but beyond that, Teddy and the Yeti's first appearance in 2007's Josh Howard Presents: Sasquatch anthology dealt with the duo taking on robotic doppelgangers of historical figures, prominently including US Presidents, making the "Presidential Bigfoot" title all the more troublesome.

I didn't want to jump to conclusions, but I also didn't want to turn a blind eye to something that could end up being a serious case of copyright violation and cause me problems in the future, so I went ahead and plunked down $10.95 ($5.95 for the magazine, $5.00 shipping!!) to get a copy of the issue in question, which arrived in my mailbox today.

To my relief, there's no connection between Teddy and the Yeti the comic and Teddy and the Yeti the Fate Magazine article. The article in the magazine deals with Teddy Roosevelt and his experiences with a man who at one time MIGHT have encountered Bigfoot, and nothing more. Apparently Gary Hemphill also finds "Teddy and the Yeti" to be a clever title...but the similarities end there, much to my overwhelming solace.

I now have to deal with the fact that there is a searchable record of me purchasing a conspiracy theory magazine. This issue of Fate Magazine came with the can't-miss offer to purchase "Species Link: The Journal of Interspecies Telepathic Communication", which I can't imagine is an actual journal of academic repute.

The magazine itself had a section on psychic predictions for 2009 (remember, this was the January-February issue), which included one that stood above the rest: "Our government", predicts noted medium Jennie Easterling, "will obtain a device that will break a hurricane when it is several hundred miles out, so when it reaches land, it will be broken up into several tropical storms scattered along the shoreline." Well, I guess they still have almost two months to reveal this secret hurricane buster, but...I'm a bit skeptical.

Finally, if you look at the scan of the cover I took, this issue of Fate Magazine also offers tips on how to sell a haunted house, which, during a recession, is quite topical...so kudos on whoever thought to put that on the cover.

In 20 years or so, I'm sure there will be some congressional hearing not unlike the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s in which this purchase will come back and damn me. And I'll have no recourse but to admit I bought it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween 2009

I'm not usually one to get dressed up for Halloween - I'm not really sure why, it just seems that I never think about it until it's too late. This year, however, I made the decision to make a costume with a few hours to spare, otherwise known as enough time to run down to Goodwill and frantically try and throw something together (which, as it turns out, is a thought that many many other people have, as the store I went to was teeming with dozens of other Halloween costume procrastinators).

As this is a comic book related blog, I will let you figure out who I decided to go as. Some incorrect answers I heard ALL NIGHT are as follows: guy who was in a plane crash, guy who needed to go to the dry cleaners (??), and the most popular of the three, "The Castaway." Apparently I had a Tom Hanks vibe going on that day. I HAVE PURPLE PANTS, PEOPLE! COME ON!!

Also, two dogs managed to sneak into this picture. One is real.