A year in Innovation

Milestones are always fun. Today I get to celebrate one!

In November of 2013 I launched my black and white sci-fi webcomic project, INNOVATION and today I’m celebrating the 60+ pages of free comics that myself and a whole slew of talented artists have brought to the internet.

INNOVATION is the story of what happens when scientists at a Google-esque facility begin innovating our world…whether we want them to or not. As technology advances toward flawless operation in the fields of robotics, physics and quantum mechanics, the only thing that can’t be counted on are the humans who created it.

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The project received a shot of adrenaline to the heart in July of 2013 after I had written five short stories. These stories, while all separate, leaned toward the world of sci-fi in genre and each had a fun twist at the end. There was a moment where I decided to tie them all together and create a small universe of my own design. I took these stories, Curiosity, Intelligence, By Design, Compliance and another that, believe it or not, has yet to be drawn by an artist and created the connective tissue of Radical Development Scientific Laboratories, Inc. (R.D.S.L.) to tie them together.

There I was with five stories that stood alone but also interconnected creating a larger mythos in the background. From there I decided, based on those initial comics, which characters would best tell the story and begin writing each of their arcs while they intertwined with one another on occasion. The goal was that each 4-6 page short comic could be its own standalone sci-fi tale, but if someone hunkered down and read them all, they’d get a much larger tale. Because I planned to work with a different artist on each short, I made the decision to run the strips in a non-linear fashion. This forced me to ensure that each story was self-contained and gave me a major “moment” to work toward at the end of each comic. This isn’t rocket science, I know…but simply an interesting gestation process.

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As the shorts were drawn I started creating a reference library so incoming artists would have character and location designs to work with in order for everything to have a consistent look. For artists who hoped to one day work on licensed, pre-existing characters, I figured this was a great place for them to test their chops.

At first glance, the world of INNOVATION can look confusing, but what I’m hoping for (and I know this can be asking a lot) is for readers to begin putting the puzzle pieces into place as they read the comic, figuring out the timelines and identifying where the beginning and ending are. I think of Innovation like this:

We have a handful of characters that we established early on in our series including the robot, Sondra, who is struggling with some serious personality issues, R.D.S.L. CEO Edison Kircher, his right hand man, Mr. Faust, the mischievous android Cygnus, the lowly lab rat Lee and a mysterious guest to the facility that I’m calling The Visitor.

In my brain I think of all the characters in a line, as seen in the scientifically-accurate design below.

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From there, a thread extends from each character that goes backward and forward in time (because our story is non-linear).

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Wherever those threads happen to intersect, that’s where our little sci-fi stories take place.

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I figured that if media-lovers are giving more of themselves to long and drawn out mystery shows, then this webcomic might scratch a similar itch. After all, people watched LOST on TV for, like, six years. (They only liked it for four years, but that’s beside the point.)

What’s INNOVATION about?

Admittedly, at first glance, it might be difficult to pick up on what the series is actually about. That’s kind of a loaded question, really. Every character has a goal (whether those are clear yet or not) and everyone has somewhere they started and somewhere they will end up. Throughout the shorts there are various items that all show up and will all be equally important as we race toward the story’s conclusion.

At it’s heart, Innovation is about technological advancement. In our real world we’ve seen a huge leap forward in the world’s technology in the past 5-10 years. And as we’ve learned throughout history, science can be used for good or bad. A drone aircraft can collect or deliver information and intelligence, and just as easily drop a bomb. It’s all in how we as a world use these breakthroughs and advances.

Ultimately, once the first story arc is complete, I plan to collect it into a PDF where readers can view the entire story in order and then they’ll say, “Oooooh! I get it.”

Is it possible to get it without reading it in order? You better believe it. (I’ve spent hours on maps and diagrams that prove to me this is true.)

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While I planned for the story to run indefinitely, I didn’t want to meander too long, so I’ve chosen an end point for the first arc. While future stories are currently planned, the project requires a steady stream of artistic contributors and those who might be interested in participating with a 4-6 page short to keep the story going are encouraged to get in touch. The first arc will run somewhere between 26-30 chapters, so in our first year, we reached the halfway mark, and I think that’s pretty awesome.

A huge thank you goes out to the artists who have already contributed to the project: Mike Hatfield, Stan ChouDamon Threet, Ken Perry, Crisuadi Crasmaru, Jay Hernandez, Paul McCallan, and Harpreet Brar.

If you’re unfamiliar with this comic and for some reason you’ve read this far, I hope it piques your interest. For a full list of INNOVATION chapters, click here or on the image below. If you have been following along with our scientific exploits, thank you. There’s more to come.

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Unit 44 Update #12

U44_Issue3_CoverBack in August I reported that my sci-fi/comedy comic book UNIT 44, with artist Eduardo Jimenez had been picked up for publication by Alterna Comics. It was an awesome day. I remember it well.

Since then, Ed and I have been hunkered down makings things happen in order to get the book to your eyes sooner rather than later. Ed has been drawing his heart out, penciling, inking and coloring 2-3 pages a week and tossing them back my way so I can letter them up with my snarky dialogue and silly jokes. In short…it’s been awesome.

Thanks to the financial and emotional support of the 94 amazing people who supported our Kickstarter campaign in August/September, we are officially closer to the end of the project than the beginning. Earlier this week we completed work on the third issue of the series and we’ve started work on the final 22 pages.

With just one more installment to go to complete this 4-issue miniseries, we’re eyeballing an early 2015 release, more than likely on a bi-monthly schedule. Issues will be released digitally via ComiXology with a physical and digital trade paperback to follow. More on that as we nail things down!

When I initially thought up the silly idea about inept Area 51 employees who forget to pay the rent on the facility’s off-site storage unit, leaving the secret contents to be sold at public auction, I never dreamed it would become a reality. So that’s pretty cool. I can’t wait for you to read this hilarious and irreverent comic book.

Innovation Update #21

Before October scooted by, I wanted to ensure I posted a new episode of my ongoing sci-fi web comic INNOVATION!

Chapter 14 is now online with five amazing pages drawn by newcomer Harpreet Brar. He takes our mysterious visitor to the R.D.S.L. facility and gives him the what-for! Who is this mystery man? Answers are starting to fall into place.

Click here or on the image below to check out the last comic, Exposure. As always, Innovation is free to read.

Chap14

The Darby Pop Script Contest

So, Darby Pop publishing, home of some oddball comics including 7th Sword, Doberman and Dead Squad are holding a script contest for up-and-coming writers. They’ve challenged those looking to break into the comics biz to to write a complete 22-page one-shot script for their character, Stingray, who appears in the pages of the superhero-comedy comic Indestructible. The winning script will be drawn up and subsequently published by Darby Pop and IDW in 2015.

While this is the first time I’ve mentioned it here on my blog, I now have time to do so because on Wednesday I submitted my finished script for the contest.

Hot off the heels of placing in the recent Titan Comics Undiscovered Talent Competition, I knew this would provide a fun exercise in creativity, deadlines and working with a pre-established intellectual property. One of my goals as a comic writer has always been to tap into the work-for-hire market and “play with another creator’s toys,” if you will, and Darby Pop’s contest was just the thing to get my brain going. I’d always wondered what would happen if I were given the opportunity to write for characters created by someone else and, boy, did I get a crash course in doing so!

First things first…while I’d heard of the comic Indestructible, I hadn’t actually read it, so my first order of business was to cruise over to ComiXology where I picked up the collected edition of the first four issues and proceeded to dive right in. There’s a chance I may have even ignored several real world responsibilities while I devoured that thing. (Let’s keep that between us, okay?)

Indestructible was created and written by Darby Pop President Jeff Kline with art by Bernard Chang, Salvi Garcia, Javi Garron and Chris Johnson, tells the story of Greg Pincus, a slacker who lives in a world, not unlike our own, where superheroes are not only high-powered crime stoppers, but A-list celebrities to boot. After (sort of) stopping a robbery, Greg is mistaken for a superhero and thrust into the spotlight where he must wrestle with enjoying the perks that come with the celebrity status while wanting to come clean with his friends, family and the world over that little detail…he doesn’t really have powers. Before long, Greg is approached by the League of Defenders who attempt to recruit him to their ranks. Much hilarity ensues.

After reading the first volume a few times, I was taken aback by how funny it was. If there’s one thing I love, it’s funny. The characters were three-dimensional, had strong motives, were likeable and the humor was a nice mix of slapstick and the occasional riff on superhero tropes.

Of course, as I read I made notes and collected information on the aqua-powered female character Stingray, for whom I’d be writing a script. A hero-gone-bad, the femme fatale showed a penchant for nefarious deeds, drugs and had loads of strained relationships with the other characters in the book. In an odd turn of events, she didn’t appear in much of the volume, but her scenes were poignant enough to give a sense of who she was as a character, which was all I needed to get my brain doing it’s creative thang.

The contest rules stated that any characters from the book were on the table to play with and the time period in which the story was set was open, so already Darby Pop was providing writers with very few restrictions, something I greatly appreciated. On my next pass through the book I investigated other characters and heroes, ultimately deciding to set my one-shot before the events of the first volume. The germ of the idea was in motion and the thought of getting to write for a brash, younger and more emotionally-charged group of heroes provided limitless potential.

Over the course of a few nights I did my outline, page breakdowns and on a recent Sunday afternoon, drafted my first issue of the script. A tight outline made all the difference and I found myself in the fortunate position of not having to cut or pad a single scene. As a comic book writer, that’s a personal victory right there. After letting the script sit for a few days, giving me a chance to review it with fresh eyes, I made my edits and let it sit again. This week after a final round of polish and dialogue tweaks I was ready to “send the kid off to school.”

This contest was rather brilliant on multiple levels…it not only gave writers a reason to put on their thinking caps and experience life in the work-for-hire trenches, but it also got people reading their book. I was darn impressed not only with what Kline and company did in the first volume, but with what new writer Ken Kristensen did on the subsequent four issues. Good comics are good comics, and I’m glad I found something else to add to my pull list.

The deadline for the contest is October 22, after which I’ll share a deeper look into how the idea came together, perhaps the outline, beat breakdowns, and if it’s determined that I’m not a winner, maybe even the finished script. As I learned more about the Stingray character, the idea of a broken super-powered human who could play the hero or villain, depending on the day, became such an interesting idea to explore and I thank Darby Pop for holding a contest that’s encouraged writers to write and will judge entries based on what they’re bringing to the table as a “solo artist.”

Though, I don’t envy them having to read all those scripts…

I had such a ball with this project and regardless of which talented scribe is chosen as the winner, it gave me the confidence that I could in fact write for a pre-existing property…and perhaps even do it well.

Fingers crossed.

“In the Drink” now in Print!

I’m excited to announce that The Gathering: Survival anthology has hit the stands published by GrayHaven Comics. If you pick it up (for just $3.50) then you’ll be treated to 36 pages of awesomeness, three of which are a short comic comic called In the Drink, written by me and brought to life by the very talented writer/artist, Robyn Seale.

If there’s one thing that this project has reminded me of, it’s that comics are not a race.

Robyn and I started discussion on this piece in March of 2013 and by June had all three pages complete and turned in to the publisher. Then, as happens in comics…we waited. Anthologies require extra patience as the other creative teams finish their contributions and the publisher finds a spot for the book on its schedule. So 1.5 years later… here we are, bringing In the Drink to your eyeballs.

Personally, I’m super excited about this piece because I did something I never had before…the story is completely silent. No dialogue, no captions…just a title, credits and your imagination to see the story along.

After a brutal car crash a man must fight for survival, no matter what the cost and to make matters worse, he must do so underwater.

Being a silent story, it allowed Robyn to showcase her amazing storytelling chops and I’m proud of how the pages came out. She’ll run you through the whole range of emotions, so be prepared for some feels!

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In addition to our short, you’re guaranteed to read fresh stories by some of the best and brightest up-and-coming talent in comics.

While on the GrayHaven site, consider picking up some of the publisher’s other wonderful anthologies and ongoing titles. I also have stories featured in the Crime, Sci-Fi 2 and Spies and Public Domain volumes, should you need some recommendations.

A big thanks goes out to the GrayHaven team for their support of both independent comics and burgeoning creators. I’m happy to report that GrayHaven will publish another short of mine soon in the Lil Kaiju anthology, which is shaping up to be an amazing collection of talent.

Adrift update #3

Let’s hop in the time machine for a moment and go back to July of this year.

I made a few posts on this site about a competition I had entered…a little thing called the Titan Comics Undiscovered Talent Competition (cue loud, boomy music) where UK publisher Titan Comics was accepting original submissions in an effort to give exposure to fresh blood in the comic book industry.

To enter the contest, artist/writer teams had to create a 4-6 page all-ages submissions from scratch based on the theme “lost in space.”

In that same previous post I mentioned that while I wanted to enter the competition, I didn’t have any ideas for a story. Then, as with all good stories, when I least expected it, an idea struck. Over the course of a morning I penned a humorous 4-page comic called ADRIFT and took to Twitter seeking an artist to team up with. Those fateful Tweets led me to Alex Diotto, artist of the comic book Southern Dog at Action Lab Entertainment. He wanted to draw something funny…and as it turned out, I had something funny that needed drawn. It was a match!

One month later after Alex finished the inked pages, I slapped some letters on those bad boys and we fired them over to Titan Comics and said, “Here you go, have fun.” (Not verbatim.)

Alright…we’re all caught up…we’re jumping back to the present.

A week ago Alex and I got an email from the organizers of the The Lakes International Comic Art Festival (being held in October in the UK) who chose finalists for the contest before letting the editorial staff at Titan Comics make the tough decisions, saying that our little comic was named as one of six winners in the competition. Out of 40 entries, our silly tale of aliens and astronauts made quite an impact on the judges.

Adrift, along with five other submitted shorts, will be available this fall in an anthology published by Titan Comics, available exclusively through the ComiXology platform.

So…I ask you…how cool is that?

Answer: It’s pretty darn cool.

An official announcement of the winners will take place next month at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival on Oct. 17. Hopefully we’ll have more info to share at that time about the release date.

As for Alex and I? We’re just getting warmed up.

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Panama City Creative Con 2014 wrapup

A huge thank you goes out to Jayson Kretzer and the rest of the staff at the 2014 Panama City Creative Con held over the weekend at Gulf Coast State College.

I was fortunate enough to spend the day behind a table meeting area folks who shared a love of creativity of every shape, size and form. For a city without a big comic “scene,” people came out to spend the afternoon immersed in the culture and I appreciate everyone who stopped by my booth to chat or explore the books I had available for purchase.

An extra big thanks goes out to everyone who picked up a copy of Chambers, The Undoubtables, or Unit 44.

The fact that someone would spend their hard-earned money on something I created (along with some talented artists and colorists) means the world to me.

If you missed out on the event, I’ve restocked signed copies of Chambers, The Undoubtables trade paperbacks along with the self-published copies of Unit 44 issue #1 in my web store. Copies are very limited, so get ‘em while they last!

Below is a photo of my booth from the event. It was my first chance to fly the banner designed by Unit 44 artist Eduardo Jimenez. Ed offered to draw the amazing image of our characters Gibson and Hatch to help promote our book. It was appreciated by many and I found it to be the perfect segue into telling passersby about our silly comic.

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GrayHaven Comics sale

One of my favorite indie publishers, GrayHaven Comics, is having a huge sale in their web store and you should totally take advantage of their generosity.

In addition to helping more than 200 writers, artists, colorists and letterers get their start in the comic book biz, they’re practically giving away books and you can pick up some of my published comics work for very cheap!

Check out what they’re offering!

The Gathering: Crime – 32 pages for just $0.99!
Crime was one of the most requested themes for an anthology and GrayHaven heard the call! This volume features my 5-page short, YOU MAY ALREADY BE A WINNER with art by Jacob Warrenfeltz.
Get it here: www.grayhavencomics.com/comics/the-gathering-crime/

The Gathering: Sci-Fi 2 – 38 pages for just $0.99!
This was the follow up to one of the publishers most successful anthologies and features my 3-page comic, TIMELESS, with art by Michael Nigro and letters by Amanda Kent.
Get it here: www.grayhavencomics.com/comics/the-gathering-sci-fi-2/

The Gathering: Spies – 36 pages for just $0.99!
The Spies edition of the long running Gathering anthology covers the quiet to the fanciful and all areas in between in the world of espionage. The volume features my 3-page short COMPROMISED with art by Tomas Witaz.
Get it here: www.grayhavencomics.com/comics/the-gathering-spies/

The Gathering: Public Domain – 32 pages for $1.99!
For years, hundreds of creators have come to The Gathering to tell tales of their original characters but in this volume they put their spin on existing characters in the public domain. The volume features my 4-page Robin Hood story HOODWINKED with art by Kristian Rossi.

In case you weren’t counting, that’s 138 pages of comics (and 15 pages of Wes-written comics) for just $5!

Looking to bulk up your cart a little bit more? You can’t go wrong with any of the books the publisher has to offer, but MOTHER AND SON, SPARKS and LIVING WITH DEATH all get my seal of approval!

Act fast as the sale will only last a little bit longer!

The Undoubtables review round-up #1

It’s been a few months since The Undoubtables, my action/heist comic with Emre Ozdamarlar, hit print and roughly 30 days since it went live digitally and a steady stream of reviews are starting to flow in.

I wanted to take a moment to share them with you in case you were still on the fence about purchasing the 96-page comic!

“…Locher has something really neat on his hands. Undoubtedly, this is one you should pay attention to.”
- Cody “The Thorverine” Ferrell @ Comic Book Therapy | Read full review

“If you’re looking for a fast-paced, intriguing crime comic, than look no further than The Undoubtables. Wes Locher keeps the pedal buried and doesn’t let up until you flip that last page.”
-
Brad Gischia @ Bag and Bored | Read full review

“If you are a fan of crime thrillers with an interesting cast of unique characters, look no further than this 96-page, action packed graphic novel.”
-  Daniel Celabu @ FA Comics | Read full review

“Billed as “Ocean’s Elven” meets “Payback” the Undoubtables is an interesting story of crime and revenge.”
- Chuck Suffel @ What’cha Reading? | Read full review

Don’t forget that we have a FREE 7-page preview of the graphic novel that you can check out right here. If you like what you see, do me a solid and pick up the book from Amazon or digitally from ComiXology, for your Kindle, on your Nook, and if you look hard enough, I’m sure there’s a website that will inject the comic directly into your brain. Technology is amazing.

Copies of the trade paperback arrived at my door a few days ago! I’ll be selling them at the 2014 Panama City Creative Con this weekend and they’ll hit my web store shortly thereafter. Publisher Markosia Enterprises did a beautiful job on these!

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Innovation Update #20

Have you found yourself yearning for a new installment of my bizarre, wacky, and slightly confusing web comic INNOVATION?

Well yearn no more, friends, because Chapter 13 is now available for your reading pleasure!

In this edition, we pick up where Chapter 10 left off and as everyone’s favorite android, Sondra, finally meets her maker. Literally.

Previously we watched her undergo emotion testing and watched as she said “no more!” and escaped one prison only to find herself in another. What’s wrong with that demented fella who runs the R.D.S.L. complex? This might help clear up a few things!

Our latest comic, Complexity, is a 6-page short, drawn by regular contributor Stan Chou.

Click here or on the image below to read the comic. As always, Innovation is free to read.

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