The best comic-creator site on the net…

…is www.comixtribe.com

Comixtribe was the brainchild of, and is run by, my buddies Tyler James and Steven Forbes, a pair of guys who are more passionate about comics than almost anyone I know.

Comixtribe is a great resource if you create comics in any way, shape, or form. You can submit script samples to The Proving Grounds, where Steven Forbes will edit the hell out of your script, with the toughest of love. Forby will make your script better, guaranteed, but make sure you’ve got a thick skin. You can also read the Bolts n’ Nuts feature by Forby, where you can learn what it takes to make it in the comics world.

Tyler James covers Comix Counsel, where you can get tips of setting the right goals, marketing, networking, and advice from other working creators.

The Creator-Owned Zone is where John Lees reviews independent, creator-owned books. He’s given me some favorable reviews on both Breakneck and Ghost Lines, but that hasn’t colored my opinion at all. John gives some of the most insightful and interesting reviews I’ve ever read.

The Trenches column will expose you to the hard-working comic creators who are doing the work, the guys who walk the walk rather than talking the talk. Another very interesting column to read.

Some direct links to my own Trenches columns: http://www.comixtribe.com/2011/02/10/trenches-1-the-long-gone-story/ and http://www.comixtribe.com/2011/07/13/the-breakneck-story/

If you’re even remotely interested in creating comics, Comixtribe should be your first stop. Get some advice, get to know the players, make some contacts. As the site itself says, go do the damn thing.

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Now I’m big time.

So last year I was lucky enough to be asked to contribute a short story to FUBAR 2: Empire of the Rising Dead. Having been a huge fan of the first FUBAR, I was all over it. Together with artist Carl Yonder and letterer Chris Horan, we put together a 6-page short called Unit 731. I’ve mentioned it in past blog posts.

Well. Check this shit out: http://www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-books/paperback-graphic-books/list.html

That right there is a link that will take you to the January 29th edition of the New York Times bestseller list for graphic novels. See spot #6? Yeah. I am now, along with all my cohorts on the book, a New York Times bestselling author.

Pretty fuckin’ sweet, no? One of the biggest and most exciting things that’s happened to me in comics. It validates all the time and sweat that’s gone into pursuing this hobby-turned-eventual-career.

So big thanks to Carl and Chris for the story, and huge thanks to Mr. Jeff McComsey, who spearheaded FUBAR, and did all the heavy lifting to get us to this point. I’m honored, for real, to be counted among the contributors in this book.

FUBAR was created by the Small Press Commandos. The motto: “No Sleep. No Problem.” Semper fi, boys and girls.

Monday update.

Okay, so I wasn’t as productive today as I wanted to be, but I got some writing done.

I’ve realized part of my problem is that I don’t have deadlines. I think, with a deadline, I’d do better. And, while I’m off work, my goal is to try and treat writing as if it were my job. So I need to impose deadlines upon myself.

Right now, I have three things that really need attention. Two, really. The third is a new idea that I’ve been hammering into shape, but I think I’m trying to rush it when it’s not ready, so I need to leave it and let it stew for a bit.

I have an 8-page story that I need to write for my buddy Tyler James. I got the pitch approved already, and the story itself isn’t due for a while, but I’m going to try to get at least a first draft written by Friday.

The other thing on my plate is an idea that was given to me by my buddy Rolf. It’s a crazy concept, one that only the madman himself could come up with, complete with backstory and a map of this alternate world he created. When Rolf comes up with an idea, and says “wanna write this?” you always answer yes. So I need to put some work into that, start getting some ideas down.

Also, in conjunction with this idea of Rolf’s was another idea, one that was much smaller but equally as interesting, and basically is just coming up with ideas for comics that don’t exist. If that makes any sense.

With that said, I need to get some sleep. Because I have to wake up early to go to work. My real work. Writing comics.

Motivation, or lack thereof.

I am an undisciplined writer. I don’t have a specific time I write, a specific place (any more, more on that in a bit), or a day-to-day schedule of what needs to be done. All of this is bad news if your chosen career is to write.

I was lucky, that my day job (one that I was “downsized” from a week ago) gave me a lot of down time that I used for writing. And I was prolific, man. Extremely productive. I was (essentially) getting paid to write comics, and occasionally do my job. Which was good, because I could never get in the mindset to write from home. With two kids, a long-distance girlfriend, and the 2011-2012 NHL season on, I have a lot of distractions.

But things change. I lose the job. I lose a LOT of motivation. It’s only been a week, and I’m in a good position: 16 weeks paid severance. That’s a helluva lot of time, and I really want to take that time to write. So, after a week of being bummed out about losing the job (which I genuinely liked), and feeling pretty damn sorry for myself, I’ve decided that I want to make a schedule. A writing schedule. I just read a blog post by Chuck (Fight Club) Palahniuk where he says to use an egg timer, or the hour while your laundry dries, and use that time to write. That’s the minimum. (The article is here: http://chuckpalahniuk.net/workshop/essays/chuck-palahniuk)

So this is what I’m planning. I have writing that needs to be done. I have a short story for a good friend over at www.comixtribe.com that I have to work on. I have a new idea that has been churning away in my head for a few days that I’ve written a whole bunch of notes on (in my new Moleskine notebook that Nicole got me for Christmas), but that I really need to buckle down on. And just today I got asked to work on something else for my buddy Rolf (the sci-fi madman from the last blog post.) So it’s not like I’m not going to be busy. An hour a day. I just need to do it. And stop procrastinating.

I’ll start fresh on Monday. I know, I know, procrastinating already, but it makes sense for three reasons: my boys are home tomorrow as of 3:00pm, so I want to make sure the weekend is for them, before they have to go back to their mom’s house. Two: I think I need one more day to mope. I really did like my job, and some of the people I worked with, and I miss it. I never thought I would, but I do. So I get one more day to mope. And three: Rolf is supposed to send me information on this new project over the weekend, so I can start getting thoughts and notes down and have things ready to actually go on Monday.

My plan is to get up (which is around 9:30, and yes, I know that’s late, but fuck it, I don’t have a job), eat breakfast, jump in the shower (because I do a lot of good writing-thinking in the shower), and then start my hour. I do the hour, I get lunch.

I guess I’m rambling, but part of writing all this down is to, you know, do some writing. I figure, even on my worst day, if I can get some writing done HERE, then it’s not a total waste.

But I’m really terribly undisciplined, and need to work on that. Starting Monday.

Some 215 Ink hype

There is a lot to be said for an upstart indie publisher who takes chances on strange, oddball, out-of-place books, and 215 Ink is that and so much more. Based in Philadelphia, and run by Andrew DelQuadro, 215 Ink first came to my attention through Stephen (Jesus Hates Zombies) Lindsay, who I had befriend on Facebook, and was following his indie career fairly closely.

I had paired up with James Boulton and created Breakneck in September of 2010. By the beginning of October, we had the first issue done. I was really proud of it, but didn’t know what to do with it. And I saw more and more information online about this publisher called 215 Ink, so I took a chance and sent the first issue of. I remember getting an email back about an hour or so later saying that the first issue could be solicited in the January 2011 issue of Previews.

After clearing the shit out of my pants, I talked to James, and we were onboard. Now, for those that haven’t read Breakneck, it doesn’t really look like your regular, generic superhero book. It’s the look I specifically wanted for Breakneck, but I knew it would make publishing it a little tougher. And this is where that ‘taking a chance on a strange book’ thing comes in. But Andrew had faith in it, faith in both James and myself, and we were off and running.

There’s nothing quite like seeing your first comic solicited in Diamond’s Previews magazine. Diamond is a necessary evil in the comic industry, and sometimes has large barriers that are almost impossible for indie books to climb, but it’s still a thrill to see your book in there with all the other comics being published in North America that month.

And 215 Ink continues to impress with its wide range of comics, genres, and creators. Some of my favorite indie books are published by 215 Ink, and I’m proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with guys I’m a big fan of. Such as:

Vic Boone by Shawn Aldridge and Geoffo. A 50s-style PI in the middle of a futuristic pulp world. Boone was recently nominated as best indie series of 2011 by IGN.

Jesus Hates Zombies by Stephen Lindsay and a whole slew of top-notch indie artists. Lindsay is one of the main reasons I’m able to publish my comics, whether he realizes it or not, and his imagination is insane. Clearly, as there are a number of shitty ripoffs of JHZ hitting all over the place. But there’s nothing quite like the original.

31 by Andrew Anderson. Andrew and I shared James Boulton as artist. 31 is a crazy, non-linear spy book that has clearly been researched to the nth degree. Andrew asked me to write the intro to the 31 trade paperback, which I was more than happy to do.

The Price is a crazy-good one-shot by fellow Canucks Glenn Arseneau and Allen Byrns (who I work with on my miniseries Broken). Glenn’s crafted an eerie, creepy little tale here, the kind of story that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading it.

Footprints by Joey Esposito and Jonathan Moore is a fantastic mash-up of old-school detective noir and monsters, with Bigfoot on the hunt for his brother Yeti’s murderer. A concept so simple yet engaging that I wonder why I never thought of it. Great stuff.

Fall and Extinct by Fabian Rangel, Jr.. Fall is an original graphic novel beautifully  illustrated by Juan Romera, and Extinct is a 1980s-based werewolf story illustrated by Jethro Morales. Fabian has a thousand new projects on the go this year, and has proven himself as a creator to watch.

Blue Moth is an insane sci-fi romp excavated from the mind of indie comics madman Rolf Lejdegård. One of the craziest first issues I’ve ever read, there is literally no way for me to describe this story here. Simply a must-read, unless you value your sanity.

There are a lot of other 215 Ink titles, like Kurt Belcher’s Winter War, Beware by the Perkins Brothers, Brian and Bobbi by Adam Wilson (who is also editor of the upcoming 215 Ink anthology), and Black River by Ed Brisson. So much good stuff! The easiest way to get to know the 215 Ink titles, all the first issues are free when you download the 215 iPad app, found here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/215-ink/id449585609?mt=8

And you can find info on all the 215 Ink titles at www.215ink.com

Also check out Liber Distro, the official 215 Ink distributor, at http://www.liberdistro.com/

My all-time favorite comics.

I’ve been reading comics all my life. I practically learned to read from comics. I’ve read thousands of comics in my life. Here is a list of the best of the best, in my opinion.

5) Y: The Last Man – by Brian K Vaughan and (mostly) Pia Guerra. Y is the story of Yorick Brown, the last man on Earth, but that’s almost beside the point, as the story is about the people left on Earth, the women, and how Yorick deals with his fate of being the last guy around. And that last issue…damn.

4) Transmetropolitan – by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson. Transmet is the story of deranged outlaw journalist Spider Jerusalem. And if the name Spider Jerusalem isn’t enough to make you want to read this, it covers an incredible range of themes and emotions, and introduces three-headed cats and bowel disruptors. Warren Ellis is a genius.

3) Planetary – by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday. Did I mention that Warren Ellis is a genius? Planetary is about three ‘archeologists of the strange’, three people with superhuman abilities who are anything but superheroes, who dig around the secret history of the world and fight against those who want to keep humanity in the dark. Especially brave is the lack of a consistent cover design. Cassaday created a brand new cover design for every issue. You had to work to pick out the new Planetary issue on the stands. But goddamn, was it worth it.

2) The Invisibles – by Grant Morrison and dozens of artists. The Invisibles is the comic book equivalent of shock therapy. It’s just the huge, expansive, crazy, fucked-up, at-times-nonsensical story. And it’s brilliant. Huge ideas, amazing characters, and a story about fighting back against the oppression of the evil forces of order. I literally cannot even begin to describe it, but for anyone who’s familiar with Grant Morrison’s work can attest, he’s a madman with incredibly whacked out ideas, and this is him amped up to a million.

1) Preacher – by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. Preacher holds a special place in my heart, because it was the book that got me back into reading comics, after I’d drifted away in my early 20s. Preacher was the perfect reintroduction to comics, and it made me realize all that could be done with a comic book. You could tell a smart, adult, scary, engaging, funny story. You didn’t need superheroes. For a very long time, I wanted to draw comic books. That was my goal for so long, but after reading Preacher, and realizing how much range there could be in a comic, I changed my focus to writing. My first scripts were HEAVILY influenced by Preacher and the other Vertigo comics of the day, and this remains my unparalleled, absolute favorite comic of all-time.

More upcoming comic work from me

Because a few projects are never enough. Besides everything mentioned in the previous posts, I have a number of other projects in various stages of completion, from nearly there to ready to pitch.

First up is “Knowledge” with artist Jerome Eyquem and letterer Chris Horan. We’ve been working on this for a while, and I can’t wait for everyone to check it out. This will be a 5-6 issue miniseries once it’s all done.

Next is “Broken” with artist Allen Byrns and letterer Magnus von Tesla. This is a 3-issue miniseries, which is my (twisted) take on the origin of the Batman. It looks spectacular, and I have high hopes for it.

Up next is “Antihero”, with artist David Pentecost and colorist Kurt Russell (NOT Snake Plisken…). Antihero was one of the first actual legit comic ideas I had, and the first issue script was just about the very first script I ever wrote. I’m super excited about this one.

The I have “Old Ghost” with artist Olov Redmalm and letterer Chris McQuaid. Olov is bringing a real old-school European style to this story (which fits the story to a T), which was inspired in part by comic book creator/madman Rolf Lejdegard.

And last up, for now, is “Deep Rest” with artist Fabian Cobos. This is a horror/sci-fi story, very different from what I normally write. However, due to my recent job loss, and my laptop getting stolen a month and a half ago, I’ve lost the third and fourth issue scripts permanently. So some re-writing is coming up.

These are all projects I hope will see print, either physically or digitally, this year.

As mentioned above, I recently (like, yesterday) got downsized at work. I’ve been given 16 weeks severance, which means I’ve got a little bit of time to stay home and figure things out. I’m going to get some comics written, but I’m also going to continue working on my ill-fated, long-suffering novel, “Hexagram”. Let’s see how that goes.