Saturday, August 31, 2013

MAINELINING @ Baltimore Comic-Con

I've managed to get a few stories published this past year, and I'll have them at Baltimore Comic-Con next weekend. 

First, I had a short supernatural story included in the inaugural issue of Indie Comics Horror, from Aazurn publishing. 

Then, this spring, I placed my first short prose story in a print publication - "You Gotta Give Good" was my first attempt at a steampunk story, with some voudou thrown in for good measure, and was part of the anthology, New Orleans by Gaslight.

Coming this fall, I have another short comic story, drawn by Gary Fitzgerald, that will be part of Red Stylo's Unfashioned Creatures anthology, based on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.  I'm very excited for this to be published and I will have a preview at the table along with including it in my Mainelining "portfolio" edition for editors and prospective artistic collaborators. 

And there are some other exciting things happening that I'd rather not jinx.  But hopefully in a month or so I'll have something else, very exciting, to announce. 

Hope to see you in Baltimore.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Baltimore Comic-Con: Here's where we'll be.

In a little over 10 days, Dan, Matt, Brad, and I will be in Artist's Alley at the Baltimore Comic-con.

Table A301.  Click the map for a larger image.

Hope to see you there.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Baltimore Comic-Con Preparation - the first part

So, now that the anticipation's out of the way, it's time to start thinking seriously about exhibiting at next month's Baltimore comic convention (less than two weeks away as I write this).  And that means getting your table ready.  Over at In the Mouth of Dorkness, I wax rhapsodic (though it may be more of a dueling banjo thing than a rhapsody) about getting your presentation "up to snuff."  Some topics of interest:

-  displaying your books
-  extras like pins and prints
-  artists' advice
-  color schemes
-  wire racks
-  banners
-  tablecloths (yes, tablecloths!)

Go check it out, HERE, and then roam around the place.  Matt & Brad are legitimate dorks and the wide range of geek topics on the site is kind of impressive.  And then come back in a few days for the next part, where I delve into getting your books ready for the show.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Baltimore Comic Con anticipation

So, I wrote the first of 5 (maybe more) pieces for the upcoming Baltimore Comic Con over at the "Mouth of Dorkness" blog, run by friends and compatriots, Brad & Matt.  In this first installment I talk about:

-  going to Baltimore 10 years ago
-  pretentious authors
-  Harlan Ellison (not to be confused with the previous segment in this list)
-  Who I hope to meet at the show
-  The separation between fan and "professional"
-  and other stuff.

Check it out, here.  And I'll be back soon enough to talk about preparing to exhibit at a comic convention.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

New Comic Story coming, with art by Gary Fitzgerald

The first of this year I answered an open call for submissions to Red Stylo's Unfashioned Creatures anthology, asking for stories revolving around the characters and themes of Mary Shelley's classic novel, Frankenstein.  And, with the help of the editor, Enrica Jang, I crafted an 8-page story that I am very happy with and something that I feel is the best comic story I've written, to date.  Getting Gary Fitzgerald, who worked with Caryn Tate on her western series, Red Plains, was a proverbial "cherry on the top."

The book will be available this fall, but leading up to the publication of the anthology, Red Stylo will be rolling out the short stories for digital download at their main site - 3 stories plus bonus material every two weeks from August 28 - October 31 (here's the schedule).  And it looks like the story I did with Gary will be available on September 11.  I'm very excited for this, and to whet your appetite, here is a detail from the first page of "Big Man," with art, letters, and colors all by Fitzgerald.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

GENIUS by Steven T. Seagle & Teddy Kristiansen

I’ve raved about this book on Twitter, tumblr, and facebook, since reading it a few days ago.  But I still felt too constrained within those venues to properly get across what I feel should be one of the front-runners for next year’s Eisner awards for best graphic novel – and let’s not forget Steven T. Seagle for best writer and Teddy Kristiansen for best artist, okay?  GENIUS, published by First Second books and created by the duo that also brought us It’s a Bird…, which I finally read last year and was equally impressed with, is a great, great book.


This book doesn’t necessarily break new ground within the medium or the broader storytelling milieu.  Seagle & Kristiansen are not playing with the structural aspects of comics (or graphic storytelling, if you must) in the manner that Moore & Gibbons did with Watchmen; they aren’t crafting stories within an emerging genre of the comic field as Will Eisner successfully managed with his original graphic novels (success predicated on his skill and those failed attempts of giants before him who tried to break from the confines of the superhero genre); they aren’t breaking away from “accepted” stylistic choices in the way Michael DeForge or Chuck Forsman currently are doing; and there isn’t necessarily the experimentation that can be found in their Vertigo graphic novel, It’s a Bird…, where Kristiansen incorporated a different artistic approach with every chapter.  What they do pull off, though, is a masterfully told story that engages, surprises, offers important truths, and sticks the ending in as successful a manner as I have experienced in a long, long time.

The main protagonist of this narrative, Ted Halker, is a brilliant physicist, a genius who works for an elite research and development lab.  Ted has always been smart, jumping multiple grades in elementary school because he was so far ahead of the rest of his classmates.  His life has always revolved around science, around learning, around pushing toward a better understanding of the universe and how our lives impact, and are impacted, by the universe and its secrets – secrets that are Ted’s livelihood. 

But, ultimately, Ted’s life has revolved around Einstein, though it might be more appropriate to say his life has lived within the shadow of Einstein, as have the lives of every other physicist to follow this giant of the field.

Ted is older, as the story begins, with two children, a loving wife who offsets his typically aloof approach to relationships with a cynically enjoyable worldview, and a good job.  But it has been far too long since Ted has had any “great ideas,” which is a problem for him.  Younger associates are making the important discoveries that earn them a dinner with the boss, while Ted continues to hit dead-end after dead-end, following paths that never pan out.  He can feel his age weighing him down.  Ted needs something, some insight or workable theory, to keep his place within the lab, and this tension only adds to his emotional distance at home, despite his best efforts.

And things at home are complicated as well.  There’s the awakening sexuality of his teenaged son, Aron, his wife’s emotional needs, and the father-in-law, Francis Christmas, who hates him and wishes his daughter had never married him.  But Ted also discovers that his father-in-law was once a bodyguard for Einstein, for a few weeks back in 1933.  And Francis claims to have been given a secret by the famed physicist, a secret that was never shared with anyone else.  This is something that, if true (and Ted is suspect of the claim’s veracity), could change things for him at work. 

And then a tumor is discovered behind his wife’s eye. 

All these stresses intertwine, wrapping tightly about Ted as he struggles to see the way forward.  He becomes irrational in his desire to learn the secret from his father-in-law, anxious to keep the paycheck and the insurance that his family, and his wife, need so badly.  It’s ugly, and a bit scary, how urgently he pursues this secret, emotion burning in him like he’s never experienced. 

It all races toward a climax that cannot succeed.  Everything hinges on this secret of Einstein’s – a fragile thread that could easily snap under the weight of life and the obstacles being thrown at Ted and his family.  It’s breath taking.   What will happen?  How will their lives be altered?  Will this family succumb to the struggles of life, or will they be able to persevere – a possibility that appears far too distant and unlikely, as the pages flash forward toward the end.

How can Seagle and Kristiansen possibly manage to pull this ending off?   It seems insurmountable, as one fast approaches the climax.  And then…

…these two artists pull it off perfectly, with an ending that makes sense, does not feel like a cheat, and is satisfying on every level.

I should also note that, from an artistic point of view, Kristiansen has once more created a beautiful book that should be seriously considered for an Eisner next year.  His palette is subdued, befitting the themes of the book, and his storytelling is clear and expressive and inventive when needed, with overlapping images and splashes of color that add so much to the overall feel of the book.  He’s a master artist, and I love how singular and distinctive his art feels on the comic page.  And when he gets to work with material that’s as good as this (and, if you haven’t yet, check out other books from him, especially those done in collaboration with Seagle), it’s something truly special.

I’ve been unable to stop thinking about this book since I turned the final page a few days back.  I write, and when something is as good as this I want to know how it works.  I want to pull it apart and see what the creator(s) did to craft something that is so damn good.  And I think, in my final analysis, the brilliance of this book comes from the fact that the creators convince their audience, through the first 100+ pages, that GENIUS is about one thing – with ancillary scenes seemingly included to add verisimilitude and emotional weight – but once one reaches the end, it becomes evident that, all along, this book was about something else entirely.  And all of those small, “insignificant” scenes peppered throughout the book – all the “little things,” which is a recurring piece of dialogue – retroactively become the foundation upon which Seagle and Kristiansen built this narrative.  It’s amazing.

Seek this book out.  Buy it.  Read it.  Savor it.  And then read it again.  It’s that damn good.