SDCC 2018 First Full Day

This area is going to be closed to all foot traffic and loaded with people in another 36 hours or so.   Our first full day at San Diego Comic Con and the only day of the show where we were tied up for the whole day as Judges for the Eisner Awards Spirit of Retailing. 

This area is going to be closed to all foot traffic and loaded with people in another 36 hours or so. 

Our first full day at San Diego Comic Con and the only day of the show where we were tied up for the whole day as Judges for the Eisner Awards Spirit of Retailing. 

Back when he was a part of the show, Will Eisner pushed for these awards.   You have to remember there was a time when a comic shop was a Boys Club and they often were dark and grungy and many didn’t even have an actual cash register.

Will recognized that if we don’t evolve the method of selling comics into viable shops that not only a true comic fan can be comfortable in, but a grandmother, then the industry could never grow itself. 

As a former student of Will’s I was honored to be asked to be one of the judges. 

It was SO much harder than I thought it would be.  There were twenty finalists we had to review.  Of the 20 maybe 5 just had a ways to go to get to the guidelines Will had pushed for.  But even dismissing those 5 was difficult because you saw the passion, you saw the love of the medium, you saw that comics meant something to them and for each and every one of these shops they were someone’s favorite, which is how they got nominated. 

Moving onto the other 15 we got into the WOW! Category.  These are comic shops from all over the United States and the World that I want to visit.  A couple of them like nothing I’d ever seen before and we whittled the group down assigning them a numerical point system.  I’m extremely tough to please with retail, I have a lot of retail experience, but I gave three of these stores scores of 95 and better (two of them got 100).  Perfect stores. 

They’ll announce the final five stores sometime today and the winner will be announced on Friday night at the Eisner Awards ceremony. 

Great experience that I would do again in a second, even though it was extremely difficult. 

That night we met up with our Team Leader Joe Ferrara and his lovely wife Dottie and the other judges at a nearby Brazilian steakhouse that was really five stars.  They have a little knocker on your table and you flip it to either red or green to signal you want them to bring the meat over to your table where they slice it right onto your plate. 

At the end of the dinner Joe performed a song for us, and it was a stunner.   Check my Instagram for a photo from the night.

Joe’s story is pretty amazing— his shop, Atlantis Fantasy in Santa Cruz, was the shop they used in THE LOST BOYS (one of my favorite movies of all time) and he’s rubbed shoulders with the true giants of the industry, as Joe and Dottie themselves are giants. 

Birth of a Graphic Novel

I'm trying a different approach to my latest graphic novel...


Since I'm traveling extensively in June I wanted to get a big chunk of my latest book, RAIN, figured out. I first worked up the concept for RAIN about a year ago as just a very vague idea about a traveling sideshow that arrives at a dying town smack dab in the middle of the dust bowl.

On the Cape in May for a week, I worked out some of the concepts of where it might go with my frequent collaborator and #3 son Adam.  We plotted out some ideas all while either walking or running our stated five miles a day goal (some days hitting 13 miles!).   We got some pretty good things on track but there were still holes to be filled, questions to be answered, characters to be combined or eliminated. 

This trip to the Midwest has really helped to gel things. 

My usual method is to type up a plot, and then break that down into chapters and then into pages, from there I thumbnail the whole book in smaller page blocks. 

THIS time I went about it a bit differently, doing everything by hand on scrap paper.  I broke the plot down into three different stories, a failing sideshow, a dying town and a family desperate to be reunited. 

From those three paragraphs I started thumb nailing scenes I needed to show the basic framework of the story-- and after laying the whole thing out I ended up with 51 pages.    Graphic novels have to be a minimum of 4 pages to give them a spine, and then they need to be divisible by four for printing purposes, and since I may release these digitally as stand along chapters I wanted them to be three chapters of 21 pages taking me to 63 pages.  In print It'll be 64 pages, leaving room for sketchbook and notes that meant I have 60 pages of content which gave me 9 more pages to flesh out details of the story.

I go back through the thumbs and see what I can edit, see where I need additional scenes to emphasize character or story points and pretty soon I end up with the required 60 pages.  From here I'll go through it again and do 2nd drafts of all the page layouts.  There are a lot of "talking heads" pages due to the nature of the story so I want to make certain the layouts are interesting and dynamic to hold the readers interest.

Also among the piles you'll see MODEL SHEETS, which is the next step after thumbnailing.  Sort of like doing the casting for a movie, model sheets decide what characters will look like and are essential as I start drawing the pages to make sure the characters look the same from page to page. 

I'll post further progress as this project goes on. 

Heroes Con 2015


day one of the show was very busy. Had fun at the drink and draw afterwards which benefits a Parkinson's charity. Bri g on day two!

New Comics Wednesday! JUMBO COMICS 99! From the Golden Age!

Wednesday is New Comics Day here in the USA and I'm going to start celebrating that each and every Wednesday right here on the ol' Bloggy Blog.  I'll offer up a great vintage comic each week and hopefully even a link to the ones I've already put up.

This week, straight from the golden age of comics comes JUMBO COMICS 99!  Starring Sheena the Queen of the Jungle!  I love this cover-- Sheena don't take no nonsense and she doesn't need a man to save her!



Wonderman was a character who came along in the mid 1940s as superhero comics were at an all time high-- legendary creator Will Eisner had something to do with him, or at least his studio did.  DC Comics thought he was a little too much like Superman and put them out of commission.  But they were great while they lasted.

Check that cover! Wonderman takes on the KKK while jumping out of a casket!  WHEW!  How could you not buy this as a kid?

Today this book will cost you about $700 (I know because I'm looking for it), but you dear readers need pay nothing--because here it is for you to read for FREE!

Your Dysfunctional Family. I'm a part of it too.

Look at this dysfunctional family.
We have a Dad who is trying to control spending in the house, but focused on the personal liberties of things like same sex marriage and a woman's right to choose.  The Mom spends wildly-- want to take a vacation?  Let's do it!  And we'll put it on the credit card and figure out how we're going to pay for it later.

We also do things like pay $70 for a gallon of milk every week because, well, we have a long term contract with this certain milk company and even though we can get a gallon for $5 from another source, we keep on paying the $70.

That ridiculous overspending might not be so bad if we were rolling in dough.  We're not.  In fact, our credit cards are maxed out and we continue to spend MUCH more than we earn.  Worse, we give money to the members of our family who choose not to work, who chose to do poorly in school, who chose a life destined for poverty, we give them money because, hey, that's fair right?

That wouldn't even be so bad except we ALSO send money to cousins and second cousins and third cousins who also either chose not to elevate themselves to a better standard of living.  Many of them because the heads of those households steal all the money we send and give nothing to anyone living in the house, causing rampant poverty and hopelessness among those houses.

Even that wouldn't be so bad but we give money to our neighbors too.  Because we have a nicer house than they do.  We don't have any money but we keep on giving it away.

How about this one?  When there's trouble in the neighborhood we don't call the Police.  We opt to give our sons and daughters rifles and send them in to straighten it out.  Sometimes they call for help and ask us for support, but we can only send them in with limited resources and limited rules of behavior.  Sometimes some of them don't come back, but we continue to do it.

On the outside, our house is one of the nicest on the block, but if you look inside you'd find quite a bit of needed repairs.  Trouble is we can't agree how to repair them, and because we do things like spend $70 on a gallon of milk and give money to non-working relatives and neighbors who are "less fortunate" than us and send our sons and daughters to act as the neighborhood police force AND spend more than we make we can't afford those repairs anyway.

Sure would make more sense to put the money into our own garden then keep sending money to the neighbors down the street wouldn't it?

It would make more sense to stop being the neighborhood police.  It would make more sense for us to work out our internal family troubles and put our own house in order before we try and help someone else wouldn't it?

Be nice to cut off those family members, cousins, neighbors and even people who don't like us and put that money back into our own accounts wouldn't it?

That Dysfunctional family is the United States of America.  It's the Congress, the Senate and the White House.  All of which are currently occupied by no one who acts like a grown up.

Next election, let's try something different.  Let's listen to ideas rather than talking points.  Let's focus on what's REALLY important-- like putting our own house in order, and let's vote based on the QUALIFICATIONS of the candidate rather than how cool they seem, or how much they agree with our crazy religious, social or morale attitudes. 
Let's elect people who are grown ups.


I'm not pushing PIRATES OF MARS, the new ongoing series featuring the adventures of a rogue band of interstellar space pirates, because the incredible art is by my lovely wife Veronica.   I'm not pushing it because it's written by my pal JJ Kahrs.  I'm not even pushing it because I edited the series for them (and believe me it was an easy task) or that I get 10% of the sales.

Even though all of that is true.

I'm pushing it because it's GOOD.  And by Good I mean REALLY good.  I mean Alan Moore Swamp Thing good.  Neil Gaiman Sandman good.  Steve Englehart Batman good.  Scott and Brian Atomic Robo good.  Frank Miller Daredevil good.  I'd even go so far as to say Mike Mignola Hellboy good.

Don't take my word for it-- click the link to order it at Comixology and before you buy it check out the link that says SEE WHAT'S INSIDE under the cover and you can read the first three pages of the book-- and I'm positive you will plunk down your $1.99 to read it on your computer, phone, iPad or any other device.

The book is monthly, and they are already working on the second story arc-- and trust me, it only gets better.

BUY IT now and you can be one of those people who were hip to something that everyone is talking about before anyone else even knew about it.


The End of a Hellish Winter!

Winter 2015 was like a communist alien vampire swooping down on us with our sister's strapped to a flaming hood of the ship.

Okay-- that might be a stretch, but congratulations my fellow New Englanders-- we made it through to the other side.  Although I write this at the end of February I'm confident by the time this runs the snow has receded and there are signs of green.

We've come up with a fool-proof plan to beat winter- we won't be here for Winter 2016-- sorry folks, you're on your own, but this winter was our last one.

I Am A Full Time Comic Book Artist - Or Making a Living Doing What You Love

I am a full time working graphic novelist.  I live in the City of Worcester Massachusetts about 40 miles outside of Boston and about a three hour drive to New York City.

That is how I make my living.  I went to a variety of art schools and taken courses well into adulthood (kind of a funny word), as I feel as an artist you should always be growing, always be pushing yourself.

Look at the work of other artists but do so to get inspired.  If you're feeling a sense of jealousy recognize that they have their career and you'll have yours.

I write all this for a number of reasons, first of which is I get a lot of people who I run into contact with who are certain I must have a "real" job, I assure you I do not.  Let me say this again, I make a living from my art, so if you're a student or wondering if you can make a living as an artist I am here to tell you without hesitancy that you can.

I also get a lot of requests for interviews this time of year from students who need to contact a professional in the field they want to work in.  The VAST majority of these are form letters, and I'm here to tell you that if you want me to bother responding you better not be sending me a letter that looks like it was written with a Mail Chimp program.  I can tell generic bro.

Quote something I've worked on, or something you read about me in an interview, but don't send me the same letter you're sending to twenty other artists hoping one of us responds.

I'm writing this mainly so that if you want to interview an artist working in the profession of your choosing you can get all your info here.  One easy place.  Consider me interviewed.  I would suggest you EMAIL me ( in the oft chance your teacher checks to see if we chatted.

Here are my credentials, just to start:

Quarto Publishing, London

McFarland Publishers, North Carolina

Blue Water Productions

Airship 27

UCF Books

FREEKISH BLUES with Ken Abate ongoing series
GEEKS AND GREEKS with Steve Altes

And there are more, check em out on AMAZON

My convention appearances for 2015; HEROES CON (Charlotte NC), SAN DIEGO COMIC CON (San Diego, CA), WIZARD WORLD CHICAGO,  NYCC (New York, NY)  and possibly Austin Texas Halloween Weekend.

I'll be returning to Japan in late Fall 2015 (my third trip) where I study Manga and techniques of the Japanese masters.


Q-  How long have you been an artist?
A-  As long as I can remember.  Art is not a talent, it's a skill.  You TRAIN yourself to get better.  Think about it.  In kindergarten we all draw, and no one well.  We draw like Kindergarteners.  Some of us stay with it, and some of us give it up.  Like the violin or the guitar if you practice everyday you'll get better until you become proficient.

Imagination is another thing-- I'm not sure you can learn that-- that may be a talent.

If you're asking how long I've been a PROFESSIONAL artist?  Started freelancing in 1997 part time, finally went to full time 2005, do the math kid.

Q-  Have you always wanted to be an artist?
A-  As a kid I wanted to be either a lawyer or a super villain.  Had I not gone to public school maybe my dream could have happened and I would have been a defense attorney for the Boston Bomber-- which is essentially the two put together.

Q-  Is Comic Book Art the only art you do?
A-  No, I do book covers, illustration and some limited design work.  I also have done paintings and gallery shows in the past and I'm still dabbling in both, but comics is my full time gig.

Q-  Do you need a degree to be a comic book artist (or any kind of artist for that matter)?
A-  Nope.  The colleges I teach at won't like to hear that, but it's true.  What you DO need is the knowledge you gain from those classes.  If you can't afford school see if a college in your area allows drop ins for no credit where you can learn techniques but not earn a degree.   There is no publisher or client on Earth that will ask to see your degree-- they will ask to see your portfolio.  Focus on the work.

Having said all that-- that DOES NOT mean you should not study everything you can about the history of the art form you're trying to get into.  I run into young artists all the time who think they know everything and have nothing to learn.  That is the biggest crock of shit I've ever heard.  As a real artist you are always learning.

Impressed with the work of James Jean?  Look at Alphonse Mucha-- that's who inspired him.  Love Mark Schultz?  Look at Frank Frazetta.  Discover the chain of talent and where it leads.  Open your mind.  You don't know anything.

Q-  What's the hardest thing about being an artist?
A-  The same thing that is hardest about being your own boss-- discipline.  There's nobody yelling at you to get to work.  You have to be self motivated otherwise you're going to miss deadlines and stop getting work, which will end your career before it even starts.

Q-  I've heard you can't get published if you've never been published, so how do you break that chain?
A-  Network.  Get a real email address.   i.e. not -- you need an email that is both memorable and easy to spell-- I suggest your own name.  You want to be taken seriously,  commercial art is a business, you're asking someone to risk a lot of money on you.  Do work for a small company to build your resume.

Q-  So are you saying I should do free work when I'm just starting out?
A-  Nope, unless that's your only choice.  If you absolutely can't get hired and you like the project you'll be working on then go ahead and work for free with the idea that you'll generate countless fans from the published work.  Just don't do it a lot.

Q-  What is your favorite project, and what is your dream project?
A-  Usually what I'm working on right now.   I really enjoyed working on Freekish Blues with Ken Abate and Geeks & Greeks with Steve Altes is possibly the funniest best written script I've ever worked on. 
Dream project-- I have an idea for a Batman project that requires DC to trust me with the character.  I'd also love to do a fill in issue of Batman '66 and I have an absolutely GENIUS idea for an Aquaman series if they decide they want the book to sell blockbuster style.

Honestly, I don't like the lack of fun in modern comics, too dark and "edgy".  Hawkeye is great, so is Captain Marvel but so much of what is coming out is like an episode of THE WALKING DEAD which is just depressing sometimes.

Q-  What is your typical day like?
A-  I get up between 7am-9am eat breakfast, walk the dog and then get to work.  I take meal breaks with my wife (who is also an artist) and if I'm on deadline I will likely work late into the evening, go to bed and repeat the following day.

Q-   Do you enjoy doing comic conventions?
A-   Honestly, no.  They are a lot of time away from my studio and I always feel like I could be getting so much more done if I weren't at a show, BUT I do like meeting fans and fellow artists and it's nice to see different cities.  That's why I'm very selective about the shows I do.

Q- Advice for a new artist?
A- Get disciplined.  Set deadlines and meet them. Communicate with your collaborators or clients especially if you're in trouble or behind.  No one likes a surprised missed deadline.