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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
Let it never be said that I am not self aggrandizingan 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!!!
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.
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!
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.
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.