A Christmas present for you

To everyone reading this – it’s Christmas time, and I have an early present for you.

One of the very first original comic ideas I had was for a comic called Antihero. I think most comic writers (or writers in general) remember when they first had that original idea that just made sense, that wasn’t a re-hash of all the other stuff you’ve read, that spoke to you and had a real voice. Antihero was that for me. It was also the first time I had really attempted to write a comic book script.

It sat for a long time as I tried to find an artist to work on it. It went through several different permutations before something solid got locked down. It was when I hooked up with artist David Pentecost that the ball really started rolling. David seemed to really like the idea and thought it was something he could work on. I’d written the first 3 issue scripts, and David penciled and inked the entire first issue. We then joined forces with colorist K. Michael Russell, who colored the first 8 pages. My buddy Magnus von Tesla lettered those pages, and we were off to the races.

But, as things happen in the comics industry, we didn’t get too far. David got busy with other projects, Kurt got busy with other projects, Magnus got busy with other projects. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I’m ALWAYS busy with other projects.

And then Jay Faerber and Monkeybrain released a book called Anti-Hero.

But Antihero is definitely one of the projects I want to get back to in the New Year, if we can arrange it. I love the story, I love what we’ve done already, and what is still to come.

So here’s the present – the first 8 pages of Antihero, free to read right here.

Antihero issue 1Antihero Lettered 01Antihero Lettered 02Antihero Lettered 03Antihero Lettered 04Antihero Lettered 05Antihero Lettered 06Antihero Lettered 07Antihero Lettered 08

 

There you go. The first 8 pages of Antihero. I’m still exceptionally proud of this work. Hopefully it will come back to life soon.

I won’t be posting before Christmas, so have a great one. If you want to listen to a great Christmas-y song that’s not really a Christmas song, check out “Winter on Victoria Street” by the Clientele. Cheers!

2013 – my year in review

2013 was a great year for my comics career. Let’s run down what happened to make it so:

  • At the very end of 2012, I signed a contract to have AAM Markosia publish my 6-issue series Knowledge. Artist Jerome Eyquem is hard at work on issue 5 right now. Issue 1 hit Comixology last month: http://www.comixology.com/Knowledge/comics-series/12527
  • My OGN Ghost Lines with Carl Yonder finally hit Comixology this year, thanks to 215 Ink. My first ever completed series, it still remains a high watermark for me. It’s available here: http://www.comixology.com/Ghost-Lines/comics-series/11361
  • In April 2013, I signed a deal with 215 Ink to publish my 4-issue mini-series Old Ghost, with artist Olov Redmalm. Olov’s finished the first issue, and printed up a run that looks amazing. Soon to be listed as part of the 215 Ink stable.
  • In January, I submitted the first part of Scum of the Earth to Action Lab Comics’ Danger Zone imprint. Rob Croonenborghs and I officially signed the publishing deal for 6 issues at the end of April as part of Action Lab’s “digital first” lineup of books.
  • I attended my first-ever US convention in September, sitting at the 215 Ink table at Baltimore Comicon, where I officially met a number of comic book creating friends. It was a great weekend and Julia and I can’t wait to go back next year.
  • I had a story published in FUBAR: American History Z called “The Legend of Mose the Fireboy” with artist Eric Spohn.
  • I worked on a lot of projects this year that I’m excited about. Hell to Pay with Orlando Baez and Aaron Viel. El Diablo Rojo with Valentin Ramon and Nic J. Shaw. Instinct with Sami Kivelä and Hugo Simoes. NRV with Craig DeBoard. Apes With Uzis: Arc & Chain, Thugs Electro with Kevin Enhart and Rolf Lejdegård. Broken issue 2 with Jim Giar and Tim Switalski. Capacity with Jason Jarava. The Cardinal with Michael Tyler. Diver Down with Carl Yonder and Michael Bielaski. Dog Catcher with Matt Mossman. Earth Shaker with Lord Akira. Fear and Pain with Kevin Enhart. Fisticuffs with Adam Šabić. Funhouse with Conan Momchilov. Jury-Rig with Cem Iroz. Pieces of Hate with Valentin Ramon. Deep Rest with Angel Tovar. The Devil’s Hitman with Matt Battaglia. Breakneck #6 with Kevin Enhart. Demoniac with Jason Jarava. Transient with Orlando Baez and Brad Linder. Old Friends with Michael Tyler. Forest with Michael Tyler and Glenn Fleming. FUBAR: The Leper King with Chris McFann. Apes With Uzis: The History Lesson with Kurt Belcher. Jim with Ken Perry and Levi Walton.

I think that’s the full list of stuff. I might be missing something, I don’t know. I have a massive spreadsheet that keeps all these projects in line for me.

In case I don’t have a chance for another blog update this year, I just want to say that I love making comic books. I will do it for the rest of my life. I’m grateful for my collaborators and partners and to the publishers who take chances on releasing my work. I’m thankful every day for Julia and her love and support of this dream I have that I know she doesn’t fully understand but knows it makes me happy. I’m happy that my boys, all of them, will grow up with a nerdy part in them.

I’m grateful to be part of the small press comics community, to see my friends and peers creating worlds every day. The inspiration you guys give me is limitless. I love all the comics you guys and girls make, and i can’t wait for more.

And I’m thankful for you, the people who spend a few minutes to read my ramblings here, and the people who take time out of their day and money out of their pocket to read the comics I create. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy creating them.

2014…I’m calling it now: 2014 will be the year of Bertolini. Just wait and see.

Some “breaking in” tips?

I just re-read this from several months ago, and thought it was still pretty accurate, or at least still accurately represents my thoughts on the subject of “breaking in” to comics.

I’ve been asked, more than once, about tips on “breaking in” to the comic book industry. And my answer is: “Fuck if I know.” I don’t think I’ve broken in. I don’t know what breaking in looks or feels like. I’m not writing Batman yet, so…(and yes, I have exactly ONE Batman story in me that I’d love to tell.)

But…having several books published and being involved in the industry/comic book community, maybe I have some advice to give. Whether it’s good advice or not, I’ll leave that up to you, but here it is anyway.

1) Don’t be a dick. This is probably the biggest piece of advice I can give. Don’t be the guy no one wants to work with, don’t cultivate a bad reputation, don’t be unreliable.

2) Learn to accept rejection. Yeah, it sucks, but this is comics – there are a thousand other guys in the same position as you that want the EXACT SAME SPOT YOU WANT. You’ll get rejected more than you’ll get accepted. You’ll bust your ass on a pitch only to get told “it’s not for us” over and over. Learn to roll with those punches, or you’ll drown. If you can’t deal with rejection, you can’t deal with making comics.

3) Treat it like a job. For a lot of us, making comics is a hobby and is treated like that. That’s fine, if you want it to be a hobby. But if you want to pursue something more in comics, then treat it that way. You want to have a career in comics? Treat it like a career. Do the work. Put in the hours.

4) Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. You might have the world’s greatest comic book idea…but what happens if that one doesn’t get picked up? What else have you got? What else are you working on? Have you created something else, something new? Making comics is like throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks. Keep creating new shit.

5) Show a commitment to your work. This question gets asked of me a lot: how many pages should my submission be? First off – read the submission guidelines of the company you’re submitting to. They’ll tell you what they want to see. But in my opinion, there’s only one way to do it: you want a company to publish your comic? MAKE YOUR COMIC. Create a full issue. Show you can do it, show you’re reliable, show you have a commitment to your work, that you can be counted on to create a full comic book. This might not be the right advice for everyone. Especially if you’re a writer, because that’s a big commitment to get an artist to agree to. But in my opinion, it’s the only way to go. For example: 3 of my published works had full first issues completed when I pitched the ideas to the publishers.

6) Know your story. This might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s not. Know your beginning, your middle, and your ending. Don’t go off half-cocked on something because you had a great idea for a comic story, or a great piece of dialogue that you just HAVE to get out. I’m as guilty of this as anyone, and the work suffers. Know what you want to do, where you’re going, and how you’re getting there.

7) Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Don’t take on a ton of work if you can’t get it done a) on time or b) at all. Again, I’m as guilty of this as anyone. I try to pride myself on getting scripts written in advance, to stay far ahead of the artists I work with, so that no one is ever waiting on me to finish something. It doesn’t always happen, because I over-extend myself. I need more self-control over saying “Yes, I’ll do that”. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

8) That epic you have? Don’t start there. Start small. Write self-contained stories, 6-8 pages, get them into anthologies, get your work noticed and get your name noticed. You’re not going to land that 100-issue epic story you’ve been cultivating since you were thirteen. It’s just not gonna happen. To be honest, the way the industry is now, you’re probably never going to land that 100-issue series. You probably won’t get 20 issues.. Work on a smaller scale. You’ll have a lot more success that way.

9) Work with an editor. This one’s mostly for the writers. If you don’t work with an editor, find one. It’s of the utmost importance. You want your story, your work, to be as good as it can be, right? Why wouldn’t you want a second pair of eyes on it? I used to be absolutely convinced every word I wrote was pure gold. It didn’t take long for me to realize that was bullshit and I needed help. We all do. Even the big-money-making pros get their work edited and sent back and corrected and re-worked. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re better than that, because chances are? You’re not. I know I’m not.

10) Get involved. Comics is a community. I preach this all day long: get involved in it. Don’t sit in the dark corner and expect things to come to you. Get out there, see what others are doing. Cultivate relationships. Encourage and support your peers. Generate hype for yourself and your collaborators. Make things happen. Be involved, and you’ll be rewarded for it every day.

11) This is a new one: be active on social media. The majority of comic pros are on Twitter. You can interact with them, show off your work, talk to editors who might be in a position to give you work. It’s so easy to be active and involved in this manner. Get your name recognized. Also, don’t use some dipshit fake name or weird handle. Use YOUR name, the one you want people to recognize and want to invest their time in.

That’s it. Those aren’t, by far, the only steps to breaking in. The biggest step? MAKE COMICS. No one needs to tell you it’s okay. No one needs to hold your hand. If you’re not making comics, you’re not making comics. No one owes you anything. If you want to do this, for real, you have to make your own path. You can’t wait for things to be handed to you, because it’s not going to happen.

Go and make comics. Worry about all the other shit later. If you have a story, go tell it. You don’t need anyone’s approval or encouragement. You just need the drive to make it happen.

I’m out for now, because I have comics that need to be made.