Category Archives: News
I think the moral of this story is, never forget where you came from.
My hometown paper, The Daily Record, based in Wooster, Ohio, has been good to me. Even though I’ve lived in Florida for 11 years, they still like to update the community from time to time on my various ventures. Several years ago they ran a great feature when I published my humor book, Musings on Minutiae, and last month was no different.
My wife and I were visiting family in the area and one morning I was shepherded into the newspaper offices for a conversation with editor Lydia Gehring, who got completely schooled on the world of comic books and still managed to condense it into an easy to digest package for local readers.
I’m grateful for the support of the community, and that they see what I’m doing as fun, exciting and newsworthy. Chances are I’m the first person from my hometown to work in the comic book business, so I can only hope it will show local kids what’s possible when you have a combination of motivation, perseverance and patience.
I live in what most people would call “the middle of nowhere.”
There’s a small town 10 minutes one way, and a big city an hour the other way. Mostly, what I have is beach. Don’t get me wrong, that’s awesome in itself, but it makes a weekly venture to a local comic shop close to impossible.
The first Saturday in May is Free Comic Book Day, and while I was planning to make that hour drive to stock up on some free and non-free comics, the icing on the cake came when Panama City-based writer/artist Jayson Kretzer, creator of the hilarious all ages comic Wannabe Heroes hit me up via email and invited me to table at one of his favorite shops, Arena Comics & Gaming in Panama City during the event.
Rather than spend just a few minutes in a shop collecting free books, I was able to spend four hours meeting and greeting with some of Panama City’s biggest comic fans while I got to tell them about my own projects. On hand I had copies of the CHAMBERS trade paperback and first issue of UNIT 44.
I want to extend a big thanks to everyone who asked about the books and a huge high-five to those who picked them up and added them to their to-read pile. The support for independent comics was amazing and I can only hope that everyone in attendance had as much fun as I did.
I’d also like to thank to Jayson for the invite, the proprietors of the store for allowing us to shuck our wares, the artists who provided sketches and the patrons who make FCBD possible each year.
Pictured below is Jayson (winning the award for best table setup) while I can be found in the background selling a copy of CHAMBERS to a vacationer from Georgia who just happened to come into the shop after Googling the nearest LCS so he could still participate in Free Comic Book Day. How cool is that?
Each year since 2002, the first Saturday in May is also known as FREE COMIC BOOK DAY!
In an effort to thank current readers and draw in new ones, publishers big and small give out thousands of comics at shops across the world to show what this amazing medium is capable of. Whether readers are into superheroes, cartoons or fun indie books, there’s always something for everyone.
To further support the comic industry, many shops welcome creators, both big and small, to their shops for signings, commissions and meet and greets. I was lucky enough to have been invited to spend Free Comic Book Day with the fine folks at Arena Comics and Gaming in Panama City, FL.
I’ll be joining several other creators to celebrate the event and I’ll be selling copies of the CHAMBERS trade paperback as well as the first issue of UNIT 44! A little something for everyone!
If you’re in the area, come say hello this Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Central Time. Grab some free comics, take advantage of the store specials, and meet some folks who work hard to create the funny books.
In a recent post I detailed my recent trip to Orlando where I was invited to speak on the panel, A Beginner’s Guide to the World of Self-Publishing, held in February at Full Sail University as part of their annual Hall of Fame Week events.
Alongside authors Matt Peters, Bill Thompson and Kim Craft we shared our experiences and answered questions for the student body. The panel and experience was a ton of a fun and now it’s available on YouTube!
I spoke mainly on my experiences self-publishing my humor book, Musings on Minutiae, and discussed the advantages to working with indie comic book publishers.
Check out the video below if the topic is of interest to you. Maybe grab a snack first. Runtime is an hour and fifteen minutes.
Last week was best defined by the word “whirlwind.”
About a month ago, a representative from Full Sail University reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in being a guest during their Hall of Fame Week in February. Each year the school honors six graduates who have accomplished much in their respective fields and holds a three-day celebration full of music, speeches and industry panels. Check out more info here. It’s pretty impressive stuff.
The school rep specified that they were putting together a panel on self-publishing and they’d appreciate me sharing my comic experiences with their students. Since I enjoy speaking, of course I said yes, and for three days was treated extremely well by the school and staff.
I spent an hour and a half talking self-publishing to a packed room alongside writers Matt Peters, Bill Thompson and Kim Craft. Students were engaged and asked a ton of great questions and once the panel was over, I found myself mobbed by those who had comic-specific concerns.
The remaining days were full of meet and greets, dinners and parties and I managed to get in some serious hang time with my buddy Daniel Corey, who writes the MORIARTY series for Image Comics. You should seriously read it if you haven’t. It’s a ton of fun. Click here, immediately. I even found some down time to meet with friends living in the area and was able to hand deliver a ton of UNIT 44 Kickstarter rewards.
I just wanted to thank the staff at Full Sail University for the amazing experience and I hope that I’ll be asked to return again next year.
Below is a blurry photo from the session but I’m told that the panel will be posted on their YouTube Channel in the coming weeks, and I’ll be sure to share a link once it’s live.
That’s me below in the blue shirt, moments before the panel started, silently wondering if I actually knew anything about anything.
If you ever have the chance to speak at a college, do it. Share some knowledge and hopefully change some lives.
Thank you, Rob Schrab.
Today I celebrate the 20th birthday of Rob’s crazy, yet loveable yellow robot, Scud: The Disposable Assassin who from 1994-1998 (and then again briefly in 2008) went on a comic book romp through a future full of monsters, technology, mobsters and evil angels, all in the name of love.
For those unfamiliar with Scud, here’s your quick overview, and then I’m getting back to the mushy stuff — In the distant future, citizens are able to purchase robot assassins out of ScudCo vending machines which, after terminating their designated target, self-destruct. During his first mission, one Scud becomes aware of his self-destructing future and rather than kill his target, Jeff, a monstrous mish-mash of objects, he shoots off her arms and legs and then places her on life support at a hospital. To ensure their mutual survival, he becomes an assassin-for-hire to pay for her medical bills. You want more than that? Pick up the omnibus right here. Seriously. Stop messing around and do it already.
Okay, where were we?
One day, in 1995, an 11-year-old Wes stumbled into the Collection Connection in Wooster, Ohio, likely for the 26th time that month. Amongst the normal Marvel and DC titles that I was picking up, something different popped out at me from the racks. I’d never seen anything like it, but I knew right then that it was something special. It was Scud: The Disposable Assassin #12. The cover lacked the typical superhero publisher’s mark was replaced instead by a simple black and white photo of a fireman. It was funky. It was colorful. It was intriguing. I had to have it.
I don’t think I even made it home before I’d read the comic numerous times. Like so many comics in my youth, I was thrust right into the middle of things and even though I had absolutely no idea what was going on (sometimes I miss that feeling), I was treated to an endearing 30 pages of Scud arriving back to Earth via a space traveling locomotive and finding himself accidentally thrust into the middle of the annual Mr. Tough-Guy competition, a global Olympics of sorts to see which race of beings have the most grit. (Yes, I know what you’re thinking, and I agree…they just don’t make plots like that anymore.)
Beyond the silly characters and irreverent story lines, the book exuded creativity on every available page. On the interior credits page, a list of “suggested voice talent” came with each issue to further bring life into the characters. In this issue, one of the characters was suggested to sound like Sean Connery, another like Bob Costas. With every read, the characters came to life in my mind. The icing on the cake was that writer/artist Schrab would also suggest songs for certain scenes and list the page numbers to go with it. Never had Wagner’s Flight of the Valkyries had such an impact on me until juxtaposed with robots feverishly destroying one another. These details, though small helped the world come to life, even on an extrasensory level.
The following week I went back to my comic shop. I needed more. I needed my fix of Scud. Much to my dismay, the store had no back issues and because Fireman Press was a small independent publisher, they weren’t even sure if they’d even be getting subsequent issues.
Time dragged on and I began to worry that I’d never know what happened to Scud. Keep in mind that this was back in the day before the internet was prevalent, so buying issues online was impossible and even it was, I didn’t have a credit card or checkbook to my name.
I went back to my normal programming of Spider-Man and Daredevil when just two months later, I waltzed into the store to be greeted by the cover to Scud #14.
Sure, I’d missed an issue in there, but it was completely inconsequential. I was able to hang out with Scud and his sidekicks Drywall and Oswald for another round of chaos, and again–I had no clue what was happening. All I knew was that Scud had gratuitous violence, adult language and a ton of heart, and at the end of the day, that’s what I was in the market for.
And then it all disappeared.
As quickly as it arrived, Scud was gone from my life. Issue #15 never made it to my comic shop. In fact, no additional issues ever made it to the shop and the clerks seemed perplexed on how to get future issues of the book. I didn’t understand distribution back then, so it was a complete mystery as to how I could get my hands on the book. It was simply something I couldn’t comprehend… like the Loch Ness Monster, or the appeal of Kanye West.
What happened next, I will be forever grateful for… if Scud was off the table, then I was going to have to chase the same feeling of exhilaration I received from the comic by investigating other indie titles that came into the store, and soon I was at least giving a shot to any comic book that didn’t have Marvel or DC’s name on the cover. Black and white interior art? Even better.
Without dropping names (this article is about Scud, after all), each title gave me additional insight into what the comics medium could be… dangerous, challenging, and most importantly, fun. It was right around this time that I knew that comics were something that I wanted to be a part of. My perception had expanded and there was no going back. Of course, as I grew and matured, comics eventually fell off the radar entirely as my mind became preoccupied with things like girls, rock music and surviving high school. Oh yeah, I also stopped buying comics because the local comic shop went out of business. Looking back, in my small town, I was probably one of five people even keeping the store open in the first place.
In 2008 I made a triumphant return to reading comics. Armed with a credit card and a whole lotta back issues to read, the first thing I purchased? Scud: The Whole Shebang, a collection of all 24 issues and several one-shots. I finally learned not only how my favorite robot got his start, but also got to see the tearful ending as Scud moved Heaven and Hell in the name of love. At the ripe old age of 24, Scud blew my mind all over again.
Two years later I got into the comics writing business and Scud has been a constant source of inspiration. Schrab’s seminal work reminds me that nutty characters, mindless action, fantastic worlds and gut-wrenching emotion all have a place in comic books and in an industry that at times, feels doomed to repeat itself, a fresh idea has the potential to change lives. The Whole Shebang collection clocks in at nearly 800 pages and I’ve read it dutifully once a year. When my brain needs a shot of creative adrenaline, Scud is where I go.
When I signed my first comic book publishing contract in 2012, I wrote Mr. Schrab on Twitter to share with him the good news, and thank him for his inspiration. His congratulatory response probably meant more than he realized. Without Scud, none of the comics I’ve published would have ever been written. It’s crazy how things work out.
Thanks, Rob, for sharing your creation with us, and happy birthday, Scud.
* All art in this post is copyright Rob Schrab, posted to help you realize what you (may have) missed out on.
I had spent the majority of 2011 and 2012 making plans. Setting goals.
Crying and rocking back and forth in the shower. And this year, everything began to pay off.
In life, people always seem to come back to their childhood loves, and for me, that meant comic books. In my youth, my friends and I would dream of putting together our own comics and spend countless hours swapping issues in order to save some cash while still enjoying the many events of the Marvel and DC Universes. After my music career (if you could call mostly getting paid in beer a career) started to lose its luster, I knew that I needed somewhere new to focus my creative energies, and comics were it. I was finally going to write the comics I had always dreamed of. It would be a small success for myself and my childhood friends, whether they were aware it was happening or not.
I spent a lot of time at the keyboard writing and talking with potential artists and in 2012 wheels began to turn and ink began to hit paper. Finally, in 2013, all of those crazy ideas started becoming a reality.
You May Already be a Winner – This five-page short, graciously drawn by artist Jacob Warrenfeltz was released in The Gathering: Crime anthology by GrayHaven Comics in July. The anthology was originally slotted to run a five-page short of my character Denise who went on to star in Chambers (more on that later) but I had to pull the pages from production, but luckily editor Douglas Hahner allowed me to re-pitch a story to fill the void.
This book will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the first comic story that someone else paid to print (it’s the little victories). You can pick up a copy of the 32-page anthology here.
Chambers – In September, my four-issue crime-fiction miniseries (is there a theme developing?) Chambers was released by Arcana Studio. The book was part of a digital-first initiative where the publisher would release each issue through the ComiXology platform and then ultimately collect them into a physical trade paperback. This comic has the honor of being the first book signed to Arcana by former VP of Publishing Erik Hendrix.
In a twist of fate, the original artist backed out of the project right as the contract was on the table and I had the daunting task of finding a suitable replacement. Luckily, I was working with collaborator extraordinaire Kristian Rossi on another project at the time. He was interested in taking up the reigns and submitted a test page which ended up coming out better than I ever could have imagined. Erik agreed that he’d be a good fit and contracts were signed and production began. Colors for the book were provided by Kefas Armando who gave a gritty realism to the pages.
For a first miniseries, I’m proud of how this book came out. Reviews have been positive and it will always be a fun shoot-em-up cop story that I enjoyed telling. A big thanks to Erik Hendrix for believing in the project, his wife Amanda Hendrix, for helping me edit and providing an honest and helpful voice of reason, and everyone at Arcana for promoting the project as the issues released. The physical trade will be published in March of 2014, but in the meantime, the digital collection is available on ComiXology here.
Timeless – Also in September, GrayHaven Comics hooked me up again by publishing a three-page short in the anthology The Gathering: Sci-Fi 2, a follow up to their most popular collection to date. For this time travel tale, I collaborated with artist Michael Nigro who brought amazing detail to each panel and drew many awesome historical locations. I wrote a lot of short comics over the last year but each one presented it’s own set of difficulties, obstacles and learning opportunities. I appreciate the GrayHaven crew for all of their constant support in encouraging me to write really crazy things.
Michael has gone on to work on some really awesome wild west-inspired projects so be sure to surf over to his website to see all of the cool things that he has drawn in the past year. You can pick up the Sci-Fi 2 antho, featuring 38 pages of great stories here.
Innovation – Back in July, I came up with this crazy idea to write an ongoing comic book series and utilize a myriad of artists to help tell the tale. Over the course of one weekend I wrote the first five scripts and began mapping out a world, characters, plot points and all sorts of other craziness. Little did I realize that artists would understand what I was doing, think it was cool and want to be part of it. Fast forward to October. I’m headed to the New York Comic Con with printed copies of the first issue of Innovation in tow. It all came together quickly and beautifully. In NYC, I even got some hang time in with one of the issue’s contributors.
In November, we took the project online as a free, albeit non-traditional webcomic and to date more than 100 pages have been written for the series with over a dozen artists signing up to help bring it to life and put their stamp on the universe. A huge thank you goes out to the original team of Ken Perry, Mike Hatfield, Damon Threet and Stan Chou who helped establish the look, feel and tone of the world and who have supplied many a great idea in the process. Reception for the book has been warm with some great reviews, but there’s so much more coming and I’ve only scratched the surface. For anyone who’s reading it and is just completely confused…that’s okay. That feeling is normal. Answers will come soon. Read the first four chapters for free at www.innovationcomic.com.
Compromised – Also in November, GrayHaven Comics continued to treat me kindly with the release of The Gathering: Spies anthology. For this three-page short I teamed up with Tomasz Witas for a dark and gritty tale of an elderly spy confronting his greatest nemesis one more time.
I want to extend an especially large thank you to Tomasz, because after having eight different artists work on the story, he’s the person who came on board and fully brought it to life. I recently got my hands on a copy of the book and I was proud to see that we were the last story featured. It’s always nice to influence how someone feels when they end a book! Grab the 36-page anthology right here.
That was it!
That was my 2013 in comics. Not bad by any stretch of the imagination and it was nice to see some projects that I’d been living with for over a year finally see the light of day and be able to share them with readers.
If you’re a numbers person (I am not), here’s how it all shook out:
Pages published in 2011: (A big, fat whopping) zero.
Pages published in 2012: 3
Pages published in 2013: 119
Now, I’m no mathematician, but this year showed at least a 9,000% increase in published work.
You may be asking yourself, after reading that extremely long block of text that came prior to this line, “What’s next, Wes?”
Hoodwinked – GrayHaven Comics will release a four-page short that I penned for The Gathering: Public Domain anthology. The story features art by Chambers-alum, Kristian Rossi and it was great to work with such a talented fellow for the third time. The anthology is slated for January and once it’s released, I hope you’ll pick it up to see how I handle a classic public domain character that everyone will recognize.
Unit 44 – I also plan to release the first issue of my sci-fi/comedy comic Unit 44 that I successfully funded via Kickstarter in September. Art for book is being completed by Eduardo Jimenez, who has been an absolute joy and pleasure to work with. Because this book doesn’t have a publisher attached, I’m quite excited about the prospect of self-publishing it myself to see what will happen.
The Undoubtables – While my adventure/heist book with Emre Ozdamarlar is still in production, it comes closer to completion with each passing day. This was the first book I ever signed a contract with a publisher for and I’m ecstatic with how this book is shaping up and excited to reveal the publisher who will be bringing it to you. It’s a fun story with some great characters and I anticipate readers being able to pick it up digitally within the first quarter of the year. Colors were handled by Chambers-alum Kefas Armando and it’s a good looking book full of adventurous and explosive fun.
In the Drink – Come April, GrayHaven will drop another short of mine in The Gathering: Survival anthology. This collection will feature a three-page story that I wrote with art by the fun-loving Robyn Seale. I’m really excited about this one because there are no words in the entire story. I didn’t need them because Robyn did an absolutely amazing job at telling the reader everything they needed to know with her art.
Innovation – With more than a dozen artists signed on to help keep the sci-fi story going, I expect to be dropping 20 pages worth of story every few months. The second issue should go online in December 2013 or first thing in January, as well as numerous other times throughout the year. Stay tuned as our first arc continues!
The Temporal – This was the first project that brought me together with Kristian Rossi, and hilariously enough, the last of our collaborations to be released. This 32-page one-shot is a story about a young scientist who discovers the secrets of time travel and all of the crazy stuff that happens in such a scenario. This story has been folded into the world of Innovation and will set the stage for some interesting things across both titles. Stay tuned for some fun news on this one!
New Life – We got a great start on this miniseries, managing to complete the first issue in 2013, but since artist Logan Miller and I are both students, time is not always on our side. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to complete the final three issues in the new year and serve them up to you, piping hot at some point. Stay tuned for more news as it develops!
Did you really read this far? Holy crap…I feel like you deserve a prize.
I hope you have a safe and happy holiday and a prosperous 2014!
I’m happy to report that I survived my trip to New York City and spent several days at the New York Comic Con making friends, meeting collaborators, talking to creators and promoting my books CHAMBERS and INNOVATION.
Without doing a ton of name-dropping and looking like a jerk, I’ll say that the trip was worth its weight in comic book gold and it was great to be able to talk process with fellow writers or in some cases simply chat about a mutual interest. One of the highlights for me was getting to spend some time with Stan Chou, who drew a 6-page story for my Innovation project. What a nice and creative dude!
There are lots of follow up emails to be sent and plans to be made for the coming year. If you ever have the chance to check out NYCC, (or just NYC) it’s highly recommended! The con was well-organized had a great flow and had the best Artist Alley I’ve ever seen at a convention.
I’m definitely looking forward to the next round!
The big week is upon us and on Thursday I’ll be headed to NYC for my first New York Comic Con experience.
If you’ll be at the con, get in touch. I’ll be wandering the show floor giving away copies of the first issue of INNOVATION, my new sci-fi project. I’m excited to meet current and future collaborators and some folks whose work I think is the bee’s knees.
No fancy table for me, just two legs and a bagful of dreams (AKA comic books).
See you on the other side!
I’m coming up on my second year of being “in the comics game.”
Yes. The comics game. That’s what we call it in the industry.
I’m kidding. I don’t think they call it that.
Anywho, one thing I’ve learned over my years of working with collaborators, speaking with artists and sharing tips and processes with fellow writers, is that this industry is all about the connections. Like any industry it’s a gigantic web of helping people who help you back.
Off the top of my head, I can think of nearly two-dozen people who have helped me, shared advice, taken my advice, encouraged me, pushed me, offered input, said the right thing at the right time, took precious moments of their life to view or review things that I had created or spent time at a desk putting pencil to paper or style to tablet bringing ideas of mine to life.
In a time where the internet has made the world so small. It’s incredible how one can also feel so alone. Writing is a solitary profession, but in comics you’re putting together and working alongside a team of human beings to bring a product to life. You have each others’ backs, you encourage each other and tell one another when a better job can be done. At the end, you wish you could high-five them for a job well done.
That sounds like a pretty solid friendship to me.
My collaborators are people who, regardless of where they live in the world, I consider to be friends even though I’ve only ever spoken with them through email or via instant message. These are people who have sent messages just to see how things were going in my world and people who have wished me happy birthday each April. As great as it is to have these friends, it’s completely and utterly bizarre because I’ve never met them face to face.
This is the reason why I’ve decided to attend the New York Comic Con in October.
I want to meet these people, my pals. I also want to make new friends and transition from being a face on a social network profile to being a living, breathing entity. I want to have that same connection with them. I want to hear them laugh instead of say “LOL” on a computer, shake their hands, and give high-fives I haven’t been able to previously.
The convention is one of the largest on the east coast I’m excited to experience a bigger show than central Florida’s MegaCon. I’m anxious to see booths from actual publishers and be able to thank big-name artists and writers for the work that they’ve released that has inspired me and made me want to get into this business in the first place.
I’ve loaded the chamber with comics that will start seeing daylight over the next few months and into next year and it’s time to get these books into some hands.