Category Archives: News

Housekeeping!

I imagine that as a housekeeper in a hotel, my day would be utterly ruined by walking inside a room to tidy up, only to find a decaying body inside.

It always bums me out when I surf onto my own blog and see that it’s been weeks since my last update, or in this case, nearly a month. I don’t want to be that decaying body that people check in to look for. I want to prove that I’m alive and well, so I’m taking that opportunity now.

At times I find myself doing so much writing and reading that the last thing I want to do is write or read about myself. However, comics is an arena in which presence equals productivity, so I thought I’d fill in the gaps on what’s been happening throughout the radio silence that has occurred over the past few months. Thankfully, it’s all amazing things.

For whatever reason, September, October and November were months filled with crashing waves of inspiration and motivation and I found myself churning out more writing then had come in the prior six months. Needless to say, it was awesome.

  • I wrote three issues of of a 5-part comic books miniseries I hope to put into production this year.
  • I wrote a complete 96-page comic series that I’ve found an amazing artist for, and look forward to self-publishing in the coming year.
  • I wrote 50 pages of another series and presented it to a dream artist who has agreed to come along for the ride.
  • I wrote a 24-page one-shot about zombies.
  • I wrote a 24-page one-shot about hipsters.
  • I wrote half of an action/comedy video game that is currently being built for release on the PlayStation platform within the next year (I will also write the other half of it).
  • I wrote a 3-part script for a choose-your-own-adventure style game that will be released for iPhone and Android smartphones within a month.
  • I’ve written more than 40 pages of a sequel to one of my published comics.
  • I’ve read some amazing comic books and non-fiction books.

I don’t know what’s in the water, but it tastes amazing. My eyes and fingers have been busy, so forgive me for not paying more attention to my blog, but I trust we’re all glad that I’m not rotting on the floor.

I feel like I could have come up with something better than the “rotting on the floor” analogy, but I’ve also come to remember that they can’t all be winners.

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.

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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Upcoming Appearance: Panama City Creative Con

In just three weeks I’ll be a guest at the 2014 Panama City Creative Con, to be held at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, Florida.

The event will be held on Saturday, September 13 and the one-day show will run from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Central Time.

If you’re in the area, come out and celebrate comics with creators that include, but are not limited to, Jayson Kretzer, writer/artist of WANNABE HEROES, one of the funnest comics I’ve ever read, Chris Arrant, who has written backup material for countless Marvel trade paperbacks, Erica Heflin, Editor-in-Chief of GrayHaven Comics, and writer of Zenescope’s WONDERLAND series (among other and numerous awesome books), K. Michael Russel, colorist of HACK/SLASH, Amanda Rachels and Kevin LaPorte of Inverse Press, and countless others. Check out the full lineup by clicking here.

And of course, I’ll be there with the remaining copies of the self-published run of UNIT 44 issue #1, the collected edition of CHAMBERS, and maybe…just maybe…something else! That all depends on the speed at which the U.S. Postal System works.

For those in the Florida panhandle, I encourage you to come out and say hello. Tickets for the event are available for just $8.50!

See you there.

Wes Locher kapows his way into world of comics

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.

TDRcomics

Free Comic Book Day 2014 in review

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?

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Free Comic Book Day 2014

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.

FCBD2014

A Beginner’s Guide to Self-Publishing Panel

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.

Gratitude.

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.

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If you ever have the chance to speak at a college, do it. Share some knowledge and hopefully change some lives.

Happy Birthday, Scud.

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.

Scud1

Um… How could you NOT want to read this?

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.
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