Saturday, March 31, 2012

FCBD Vic Boone!

The FUBAR/215 Ink Free Comic Book Day books are off to the printer in the next day or two, and I just finished lettering the second 215 story I worked on - a 12-page Vic Boone story.  Above is a few panels from the story, titled "Sea of Trouble", written by Shawn Aldridge with art by Jason Copland and Jeff McComsey.

Vic Boone, if you couldn't tell from the preview above, is a hard-nosed throwback character who...fights monsters and stuff.  This was a fun story to do, and it was fun in general just being involved with these books, which will include the "Apes with Uzis" story I mentioned a few days ago.

The Kickstarter campaign for these books was a complete success.  As I'm writing this, there are seven hours left to go and it's been funded almost three times over.  That's incredible, and it'll give us the opportunity to get these books into that many more shops for one of the biggest yearly events in comics.

This is just one of many projects that is coming to fruition right now.  Working on comics is a strange thing, because there are times of great stagnation, where nothing seems to be happening to any great degree, and there are times like now, where I'm getting art in left and right.  Time to ride the wave, I guess.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Birthday Swag, 2012

Another birthday has come and gone (my...17th...), and there's an annual tradition around these parts - one where I takes pictures of the cool stuff I got and everyone else oohs and aahs because I'm such a lucky guy.  So let's get to it!  Right at the top is a guitar pick with the Thing on it!  Here's a fun fact: there's a company that makes display cases for guitar picks.  Also, I have one.  Also, the Thing is on the  pick.  It's pretty cool.

Some DVDs!  New Adventure Time and the 24/7 Penguins special from 2010/11.

This above shirt is from Larry, and I'm pretty intimidating in it.  It's a Future Foundation shirt...specifically with the symbol the Thing wears.  This is the most obscure Thing shirt I've got, and I love it for that reason.

I stopped and bought another couple Marvel Treasury editions on the way to visit my parents for some birthday dinner.  Look, it's the Thing dressed up as Santa Claus!  Someone at Marvel must have thought that Ben Grimm as Santa was hilarious, because he's been depicted this way quite a few times over the years.

This last image wasn't, well, a birthday gift from anyone other than myself.  It wasn't a birthday gift at all, actually, but I got it in the mail the day before my birthday so it goes up on the blog regardless.  Check out this great print with a retrospective of Al's career so far.

There were a couple other things that didn't get pictures taken of them, so they will remain a mystery perhaps forever, or perhaps until I decide I want to take pictures of them.  All in all a great day.  Next up: an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen with a confusing, obscure quote written in icing.  Can't wait.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Apes with Uzis (plus the yeti crab!)

Free Comic Book Day is just around the corner, and the 215 Ink/FUBAR Press books are well on their way to being a part of it in stores across the country.  I'm in the process of lettering one of the 215 entries, an Apes with Uzis tale: the first part of a story titled "the Package".  The first few panels are above, written by Mark Bertolini and illustrated by Peebo Mondia.

As for the'll just have to wait until the first Saturday in May to pick up the book.  Let this be said, though: it involves monkeys dressed up in clothes and riding motorcycles.  And I'm pretty sure that's a Tick shirt our protagonist is wearing on the first page.  So what's not to like?

Also, Henry at the very enjoyable "I Love the Yeti" blog posted this image yesterday, reminding us all that on March 22nd, 2005, the famed yeti crab was discovered.  The world is a better place for it.  Check out the blog at!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Random blog-lets! FUBAR update; SuperBrackets at the Toonseum; shirtsand more!

Welcome to another fantastic edition of whatever this is!  I've got a lot of subjects and just a little bit to say about each of them.  Let's begin!

- The FUBAR Free Comic Book Day Kickstarter project is in full swing, and THIS JUST IN (I guess)!  It was fully funded within the first 24 hours.  The new goal is to raise $2600 and double the amount of books to be printed.  I myself have pledged $35 for the above reward - it was the shirt that did it for me, honestly.  If you'd like to support the book as well, you can use the above link to do so.

- I also picked up some shirts recently.  These blanks are from Next Level Apparel and will soon host the images of...some things that I'm working on.  We'll see how that works out.  Next Level has any number of styles and I'm sure that I'll try a few of them out eventually, but for now we're sticking with the classic tee.

- Our friends at the Toonseum created this super hero bracket in honor of the NCAA tournament going on right now (perhaps you've heard of it).  It's a Marvel vs. DC showdown with only one winner, and everyone's encouraged to fill out one of their own.  You can take a look at my predictions below:

I can't wait to see who wins!  I hope one of my guys pulls through.

- Continuing the theme, here's a pinup of the Thing by artist (and new best friend) Mario Wytch, who offers a unique yet classic image.  I think this is a sketch card.  I'm hoping to convince Mario to send it to me.  In return I'll do just about anything.  Seriously, I want to own this.

- Please file this next image under the category of "things that embarrass me about comics sometimes".  There's a new Danger Girl series underway at IDW, and, apparently, a new member of the team.  "Who is she?" the copy asks.  This is a reasonable question.  "What are her skills?", it continues.  I guess this can also be considered a question that readers of the book should think about.  Then it goes a little over the edge and asks, "What are her measurements?"

Really?  Come on, comics.  You can do better than that.

- Lastly, here's an image from a recent issue of Dark Horse Presents, a story by 
Dara Naraghi titled "The Protest", which I think was the best of the bunch. It's a personal tale of life in Iran after the Islamic Revolution, and I recommend it to anyone looking to experience just what comics can accomplish as literature.

Mr. Naraghi was kind enough to allow me to use this eight-page story in some English classes I'm teaching this semester, so I'm happy to spread that message to a few others this year. If you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favor and pick up DHP #4. It's well worth your time and the cost.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Support FUBAR on Kickstarter!

While I ruminate on my own Kickstarter musings, here's a worthwhile project that I hope those who read this blog (both of you!!) check out: new FUBAR for Free Comic Book Day!

FUBAR Press is teaming up with another indy outfit, 215 Ink, to put out some great books for this year's FCBD event, happening Saturday, May 5th.  This will be the first FUBAR to appear in comic (as opposed to trade) format in a brand new, 28-page story by Jeff McComsey.  The image below is part of the cover by fellow FUBAR head honcho Steve Becker:

The full image is even more impressive.

A little more exposition from Mr. McComsey:
The Devil’s Dance floor is a 28-page stand alone World War II story about the remnants of the British 6th Army in North Africa’s last stand against zombie Erwin Rommel’s Undead Afrika Korp. Down to the very last bullets, bombs and bayonets these battle hardened Brits are out to prove that he who dares, Wins.
Free Comic Book Day, by its nature, caters to the bigger companies out there, and it looks like there'll be some good output from many involved, from new Justice League and Avengers to what I'm probably looking forward to most, a new Firefly/Serenity story from Dark Horse!  Supporting FUBAR in this drive means that smaller, independent books like ours have a better chance to reach a broader audience.  And the book is smaller in a literal sense as well - it's half the vertical size of a regular comic, at 5 inches by 6.25 inches.  So, hey, if you like oddly sized comics...

The book is being distributed by Liber, and any shop that signs up with Liber can receive both the FUBAR and the 215 Ink books free of charge (and that includes free shipping).  So really, there's no reason that your local shop can't have copies waiting on the first Saturday in May.  Donating to the Kickstarter campaign means that more books can get out to more shops.

I'm fairly sure that I'll be helping out with lettering on the 215 side, so I'll be sure to post some updates on that project if it comes to pass.

Check out the FUBAR/215 Ink FCBD Kickstarter page here:!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Temperature sale swag at Pittsburgh Comics! (and a new Dukes of Hazzard blog!)

Finding great deals is one of the things that makes collecting fun, and a recent "temperature sale" at McMurray, PA's Pittsburgh Comics brought in some hallmark examples that I'm particularly happy with.

Here's how a temperature sale works: the temperature at the time of purchase equals your total discount.  Tuesday was one of those days at the comic shop, and I took full advantage of the unseasonably warm weather to grab a ton of great books.  My discount was a whopping 70% off!

One of the reasons I went to the shop in the first place to was to check out a recently acquired collection of Marvel Treasury Edition, a 1970s oversized that featured mostly reprints.  While grabbing those left and right, I also picked up the two oversized Superman/Spider-Man crossovers, which are just classics. It's interesting to note that Superman gets top billing in both, even though the second book was published as the last issue of Marvel Treasury Edition.

I cleaned up on the Fantastic Four issues of the book, which apparently needed another adjective to show just how great they were.  These pictures don't make it clear just how big these books are.  They're ungainly and I really have no idea how I'm going to go about storing these books...they certainly won't fit in a regular size comic box.  I'm just glad that they came in plastic bags so I didn't have to search for them.  Apparently they're listed as "treasury size bags".

The treasury books alone came to over $130 at the register, but thanks to the sale, I got over $90 off.  This was the only way I was ever going to own a book like the Superman vs. Spider-Man issue, so I'm a lucky guy.

I did all right with regular back issues as well.  I grabbed a number of random Fantastic Four related books (no, that's not the original FF #1 in the top left, but a reprint that came with a Marvel Legends action figure).  Oh, Marvel Team-Up.  The fact that the Human Torch took top billing in a handful of issues is flustering sometimes.

I also got a half dozen issues of the creatively conceived but often poorly executed Tangent Comics that DC put out in the late '90s.  I don't know what it is about self-contained alternate realities in comics, but I usually end up trying to get full runs of these.

Oh!  And I got both issues of the strange Star Trek/X-Men comics put out when Marvel had the license.  The Next Generation crossover was continued in a novel, apparently, which was an odd lead-in.  I remember flipping though the first book when it came out, and chuckling at the Dr. McCoy meets Dr. McCoy moment, and I did the same this time around as well.

Lastly, I picked up two variant editions of the Ultimate Fallout book.  Yes, the only reason I got them was because the Ultimate Fantastic Four is on the front.  It happens.

This blog isn't entirely about the cool comics stuff that I buy, but it's fun to post some of that stuff from time to time.  Our good friend Larry Franks recently started up a blog of his own as a companion to his Dukes of Hazzard website, and you should check it out!  On the blog, Larry discusses all of the great Dukes swag that he has and comes across.  From the perspective of a collector (no matter what it is you collect), this is very cool.  Larry's got some great stuff and he's showing it off a little bit at a time.  Go there now (AND EVERY DAY) by following this link:!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Kickstarter Conundrum

I've struggled with the idea of Kickstarter for a while now.  Kickstarter is a website that brings creative projects to a public forum - if you'd like to work on an artistic project but don't have the funding, you can pitch your idea to the Internet community at large, set a proposed monetary goal, and if enough people like your idea (and are willing to pledge cash money to back it up), your project gets a cash infusion, allowing you to create while having the money to not starve while doing so.

I'm a very large proponent of "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is", but seeing some of the projects that have far exceeded individual goals, it's hard to keep a decent perspective.  I've been involved, in a tangential way, at least, with projects that have fallen into this category, which makes it even more tantalizing.

To give an example, the second volume of FUBAR had a very successful Kickstarter campaign, raising an eye-popping $6015 in efforts to cover publishing and distribution costs.  Several guys involved with FUBAR are working on putting together an animated short for the small press Atomic Robo series, and if you thought the FUBAR numbers were impressive, wait until you read this: as of March 8th, and with 34 days to go, the project has raised over $48,000 and shows no signs of slowing down.

This is, of course, almost fairytale in the sense that I can't really comprehend what just short of 50 grand would mean to any number of projects I would like to take on.

And there are further, even more unbelievable examples to note.  A quick search on the Kickstarter home page reveals that a video game project named "Double Fine Adventure", with five days to go, has raised over two million dollars toward its goal.  Kickstarter is literally making millionaires out of creators.  This is unreal.

These projects owe their success, of course, to high quality pitches and reward structures that give interesting, unique "gifts" to those who fund them, and the above examples are all well conceived and created by talented individuals.  I don't want my astonishment to be misconstrued as resentment.  I'm sure all of the creators involved in these projects deserver their success.

In the field of comics, I stumbled upon a proposed comic titled "Screws Loose", which recently reached its funding goal of $3200.  The comic is set to be published by first-time author and college student Jeremy Melloul from Portland.  While the money certainly pales in comparison to the two million and change the video game proposal received, we're talking about an unknown comic book property by an unknown, unpublished author.  That's impressive in its own right.

This brings me to my current dilemma.  I love making comics.  It's just as rewarding as I always thought it would be, if not more so.  The constant struggle with making comics as a small press guy has nothing to do with the creative aspect of it - it is, of course, money.  It takes a lot of money to pay artists, print and distribute comic books, as it does for anyone in a similar situation.  And now along comes a website that gives daily examples of comic projects being fully funded before the pencil even hits the page.

The question then becomes, "why don't I do this with Teddy and the Yeti?"  Duane Redhead is a hard working sonofagun, and he really puts his heart into every single page, and you are going to be knocked on your butt when you see issue #4, but the fact is that there would be more Teddy and the Yeti to read if Duane could make more than the pittance he's getting from working on this book.  And Kickstarter allows for the possibility that we could not only have fun doing what we're doing, but have enough cash to do it on a regular basis.

It seems like this would be a no-brainer, but I find several stumbling blocks on the way to this proposal.  Perhaps most importantly, I don't want money to come before creativity.  I realize that the two aren't mutually exclusive, and that it's not a perfect analogy, but I don't want be beholden to who pays the bills the way newspapers or network television stations are to advertisers.  I want to create and have that creative process unimpeded by questions of who I have to make happy beyond myself and those I'm working with.  I don't want to "sell out", which I suppose is the rallying cry of plenty of unsuccessful people who try to cling to a sense that what they do is important.

If I'm being honest with myself, I'll admit that I also don't want to fail at a Kickstarter campaign in case it'd burst the illusion that what I do actually does matter.  If I handle everything myself, I can go about things the way I've always done, selling at conventions and book signings and holding out hope that people are actually warming up to the things I'm doing, where a Kickstarter campaign that falls through carries with it a certain mark against not only the project, but the person behind that as well.  I don't want to seek validity through attention or sales, but it is there, one way or the other.

And not all worthy projects are funded.  Jeff Lafferty, friend of the blog and guy who at one time drew Doom 2099 for Marvel (I can't emphasize how awesome I think this is) had a campaign to fund his stop motion movie, Curse of the Wolf's Heart, fall short of its goal.  I realize that what he's doing doesn't appeal to everyone, but how does something like this fall through the cracks when so much else out there is getting thousands and thousands of dollars in pledges?

I suppose that what I'm looking for is some honest feedback from those in the know.  Ultimately, if I do something like this, it's going to be because I have a project that I believe in (Teddy and the Yeti, of course, falls into this category) and I think I can put together a good enough pitch as to not embarrass myself, up there on a virtual stage in front of the world.  What will come of this?  I honestly don't know.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Zombie Shark!

When I was in elementary school, I had a cousin, Randy, who was (and still is) a painter and had done a little work in comics.  Upon learning this, I of course thought that this was the most amazing thing in the universe, and I wrote a letter telling him as much.  This is when I started collecting comics in the first place.

Apparently I now employ the role of older, comic-savvy relative, because I received a letter from my elementary school-age nephew a few days ago with a letter and a hand-drawn comic.  The title: "Zombie Shark: the New Zombie Shark".  The similarities are not lost on me, nor is the fact that when I sit down to write a new FUBAR story, I'm essentially doing the same thing as my eight-year-old nephew.  In any case, I've posted the comic for all the world to see...and I'll say that it has potential.  I especially love the panel where the man watching television (complete with rabbit ear does an eight-year-old know what those are?) breaks the fourth wall, looks at the reader, and says "OMG, sharks!"

There's even a...cover, maybe?  Anyway, it was drawn on the back of the comic, so I'm assuming it's related, even though it includes the letter "N" flying around on a jet pack and a clown getting chainsawed in half.

In the letter, my nephew writes, "Will you make me a comic book using my ideas?  When you are done, please send it back to me."  Demanding little guy.  But hey, you never know.