Sunday, August 29, 2010

New Preview Page, Moving Forward

It's been a long summer. And not just for the obvious, stressful/frustrating/contentious reasons involving the Insomnia battle. It's also been a good--and busy--one in a lot of ways as well.

For starters, the Reading With Pictures anthology was released just two weeks ago. After a great Kickstarter campaign, we were able to see the physical token of all our work, and it's been a great feeling. The book itself is incredible, and I know I have to say that (I'm the Media Director for RWP, and a contributor to the book), but it's truly a special collection. There are plenty of copies left, many of which in my possession, so if you'd like a copy, get in touch with me. We've managed to distribute a lot--A LOT--so far; just yesterday, in fact, RWP Executive Director Josh Elder and I took a massive load to the post office--about 500 copies were mailed out (so if you're looking for your copy, the wait is almost over!).

Also, I began my own Kickstarter drive to get funding for The Sleepless Phoenix anthology, an artist collective that formed out of the Insomnia debacle. With 19 days to go, we already have over 80% of the needed funds pledged, and (counting contributor copies) have pre-sold over 100 books. Not too bad, if I don't say so myself. I'll actually be talking live about the anthology and general comic book/sci-fi stuff over at Sci-Fi Saturday Night, this Saturday, at 700-800pm CST/800-900pm EST. Tune in!

And...I also have a new preview page to show, from a forthcoming FutureQuake strip. The comic won't print until March of 2011, but Andy Scordellis has already gotten a head start on the project--Andy and I previously contributed on the Reading With Pictures anthology, and we are continuing the adventures of "The Replacement Heroes" in this short. Oddly enough, I wrote this script before the one that appeared in the RWP anthology, but deadlines shuffled things around. Andy and I have plans to continue the adventures of Butch and Talbot, possibly in webcomic format; I'll have news on that as it becomes solidified. I can say that another short is already written, and a new one is about to get underway.

So, enough of my rambling. Here's a look at the pencils for page 2 of "The Replacement Heroes: It Came From...Somewhere!"

NOTE: Okay, Blogger is being difficult today. I can't get the image to go anywhere but the top of the page, so that's where it'll stay.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

And That, As They Say, Is That

With a simple email, four short paragraphs that maybe took 20 minutes to write, the entire Insomnia Publications stable was released from their contracts this past Friday. No explanation, no parting gift, no love lost. Just some vagaries about the economy and an open door to speculate and create as many theories as the mind can fathom.

For me, the reasons aren't as compelling as they once were. I guess I'm interested to a degree--after all, though it's hard to remember, Insomnia was once an innovative publisher with so much going for it, whose rise can only be described as meteoric. Then some form of virus set hold, and consumed the company down to the bone. So, yeah, what happened in between is a curiosity, but if I never hear the words Insomnia Publications again, I won't mind. Right now, I'm just enjoying being released from the anvil that has been tied around my neck these past months.

While tangled in this mess, the story behind Insomnia's meltdown nearly consumed me. I didn't get what happened, why it couldn't be made right, and what the deep dark secrets that Crawford refused to tell anyone were. More importantly, I wanted to know why Crawford did what he did--why he filed for non-trading without telling anyone, why he was holding our books hostage, why he was rubbing his heel into our hope, our work, and our ambition.

I'm not going to lie--I did not take this situation well. I doubted myself, the industry, and all the reasons why I had even bothered trying to create comics. And I'm certain many Insomnia creators had a similar experience.

But now, that's done and over with. And despite all that, I'm still lucky. I've had the good fortune to work with some amazing and talented people over the past 18 months. The Quarantined team--Monty Borror, Lauren Anne Sharp, and Jim Campbell...what can I even say? They have put in so much great work, and I can't wait for it to be shared with everyone. I don't know how I can praise their talent and dedication any further. The same goes for Keith Burns, cover artist and regular on this site--he's humble, but I know he's going to make it big in comics (I just hope my name is attached to his breakout project).

So to all the creators involved in Insomnia, best of luck. It's been a pleasure.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

How I Knew I'd Made It as a Comics Writer

Where to begin. It's funny, you look at a situation that you're involved in--nay, consumed by--and from the inside, it all makes so much sense. But try to explain it, and it becomes so difficult to convey not only the sentiments involved, but the basic logistics of what, exactly, is going on. Many of you know that I'm the writer of a Quarantined, a graphic novel that was slated to be released with Insomnia Publications in the fall. I mean, this entire site has all but been defined by that work. Adding to that, many know the situation I'm tangled up in with Insomnia. Nonetheless, I'll give a brief primer:

A little over a month ago, Insomnia decided that they would file to cease trading with the UK Companies House. This meant, essentially, that they we no longer publishing (and I use the word "they" loosely--Insomnia is one man, Crawford Coutts). When I heard the news, truthfully, I was all right with it. I've been in publishing, in one form or another, for 10 years now, and when it came to Insomnia, I didn't have to study the tea leaves too hard to recognize they were in bad shape. Really, their end was a long time coming.

Granted, I was disappointed. When I signed Quarantined, the company was great--exciting, up-and-coming, full of potential. Then things went wrong. What these things were, I only have a hearsay account; ultimately, it doesn't matter. Not at this point.

With this non-trading declaration, I expected my rights to revert back to me and I'd either publish Quarantined myself, or seek out a new publisher. This is where things having gotten contentious. Because of legal entanglements, I can't get into many details. The short of it is this: Crawford, for reasons unknown, has decided to hold onto all the contracts in the Insomnia stable, even though it doesn't seem that he has the means or the intention to publish any books. And I see reasons unknown because, since the unannounced filing, no one anywhere near Insomnia has heard so much as a word from the man.

So right know, myself and all the creators are essentially waiting for Godot as all work remains in limbo.

But not ALL our work. There was an anthology Insomnia was set to release in October, one that didn't bound any creators by contract. Soon after the fallout, the creators got together and formed a collective called The Sleepless Phoenix--and we've taken it upon ourselves to see the book released.

In order to do so, we need to raise some funds. We are currently running a Kickstarter drive to pay for the printing and shipping of the 192 page black-and-white book. You can visit the site here (and view the widget below), which goes into more detail on our background (and has a pretty nifty video!). On the right, you can check out an unlettered preview page of my own contribution, PrivaCops, with art from Monty Borror.

Any and all support is appreciated--and support comes in myriad packages. We can use all the help we can get spreading the word on the book. Tweet about it, blog, facebook, anything. Keep in mind, the collective that formed to put this book together is not a publishing outfit--we're creators with day jobs, regular work schedules, etc. We're doing what we can, but we can't do it all alone.

Publishing is rough, let me tell you. And like I said, I've seen it work from many different angles. But what distinguishes comics from other mediums is the fraternity of writers, editors, artists, journalists, and (most) publishers. It's really been inspiring to see how people have rallied around the Insomnia creators, even before the Kickstarter launch. We've gotten so much support, and it's been a great help. We may not talk about it much, but this has been really tough on all the Insomnia creators, to see our work get used and us get punished for a situation we had no hand in creating. That's why I can confidently say, in spite of all everything, that this is a good industry to be in, and am grateful to have the friends and creative partners that I do.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

San Diego Comic Con

I made it. Seriously--it was in question whether I was going or not. For the longest time, I wasn't. I put off buying tickets, delayed pro registration, didn't do any of the things I very well should have done--just in case. See, the idea was that I was going to Birmingham in October to promote the release of Quarantined at BICS. That was my travel budget. But, as some of you know, that release isn't happening. In fact, it isn't happening with Insomnia at all. (For those of who you don't know the reasons why, I can't get into for possible legal reasons, and I just don't feel like it). So...

On Tuesday night before SDCC, Tim Seeley said "you should go." He gave good reasons, and I'm pretty easily swayed, especially when it comes to things I want to do anyway. So I went. And the truth is, Tim was right. For starters, I had an amazing time with friends and truly geeked out to the extreme. (Big thanks to The Comic Vault's Matt Sardo and Chris Burnham; if not for them, I would've ended up sleeping beneath an overpass.) And, professionally, it gave my career a boost, which I really needed.

As for's hard to pin any particulars down. I landed Friday morning and was gone by Sunday afternoon. To say the experience was a whirlwind is underestimating things, to say the least. The best part was just absorbing it all; SDCC is like nothing else on Earth. It's so manic and full and hyper, but in good ways.

If I had to pick, though, I'd start with the Nerd City party. Ruled, plain and simple. On the right, you'll see a picture of Ben Templesmith putting some touches on a live art painting. Max, Ben, and Joey know how to throw comic parties, even on the other side of the country.

I saw Grant Morrison, which is good enough for me. My mind would likely melt if we actually spoke. I met Claudio from Coheed and Cambria (and writer of Amory Wars, which has art from Burnham). I spotted some actors from LOST. And, hey, here's a picture of me and Papa Smurf. So there's that.

Now, it's back to work. Keith Burns--the patient and crazy talented Keith Burns--has just finished pages on our soon-to-be-pitched 4-issue series, Reincar(Nate). I've got another mini in the works, then it's on to sketching out the broad overview of an ongoing series. And a few prose shorts, if time allows. I plan on being busy--just like I plan on being on hand at SDCC in 2011, on the other side of the table, signing copies of my comics.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

RWP Anthology Release!

After a successful Kickstarter campaign (which I was paritally behind as RWP Media Director--enter pat on back here), the Reading With Pictures anthology is set for release! The wide release won't be until August 18, but this Saturday, Challengers is hosting a pre-release event. Not to fear though--there will be copies on hand. And, if that doesn't draw you in (pun kind of intended), Challengers will also be barbecuing, hence the event title "Eating With Pictures." So, if nothing else, free food!

I'll be there signing books from 100-500PM, alongside RWP Executive Diretor Josh Elder, Jeffrey Brown, Gabe Bautista, and more. So stop by and pick up the anthology, which includes my own contribution "The Replacement Heroes In: Civic Service!" Here's a preview (art by Andy Scordellis, letters by Jim Campbell, colors by Chris Beckett):