Whenever I’m in need of some inspiration, I just head on over to Derek Langille’s collection of Jack Kirby double page spreads and I am ready to go. Here’s a selection of some of my favorites.
“Joe Keatinge has established himself as the latest new writer I want to undermine and destroy. It’s just top class stuff.”
- Mark Millar (Kick-Ass, Civil War, Wanted, Ultimates)
"I think Joe is definitely one to watch."
- Robert Kirkman (Walking Dead, Invincible)
Whenever I’m in need of some inspiration, I just head on over to Derek Langille’s collection of Jack Kirby double page spreads and I am ready to go. Here’s a selection of some of my favorites.
This comic book is back.
NEW READER FRIENDLY JUMPING ON POINT BLAH H#R372r2r
Written by me. Art by Andre & new inker Fabio Redivo. Letters by COMEBACK’s Ed Brisson. Covers by RICKEN. Colors by Jason Lewis. Edited by Ron Richards. Good times by all.
Also features a letters page, TIGER LAWYER and a new comic written by Chris Sebela. All for $3.50. CHEAP.
”After 2012 took seemingly immortal heroes such as Jean Giraud, Joe Kubert and Ray Bradbury (to name a few) I began feeling like I wasn’t doing enough to appreciate those whose work in comics, film, prose and music (among others) has had such a huge impact on me while they were still among us. I got frustrated with writing obituaries. I wanted to appreciate them now, while they still lived. So I thought I might take a cue and do just that. Write up the individuals and groups who have formed me into who I am today as they still walk on this Earth. Not biographies, necessarily. Just expressing personal gratitude and sharing personal experiences of the many people I’ve come to admire in their respective work. Sometimes they’ll be cartoonists. Sometimes they’ll be directors. Sometimes they’ll be musicians. Sometimes they’ll be who knows.
In my eyes, they’re all giants.
art spiegelman seemed like the obvious choice for me to start with. He was the very first of any type of artist I came to recognize as an individual entity.
As a kid I had this somewhat unconscious idea that all art, music, whatever came from some same ethereal source. I never really differentiated. Heck, It wasn’t until Spawn #10 that I fully grasped the notion that comics came out from separate publishers.
Back when I still had the notion of media’s ethereal origin, my father would take me down to the library with the mandate of taking out at least one book. I soon figured out there was a small shelf integrated with the ending of the humor section that contained a select few comics. As I recall, there was a Charles Addams collection, one Peanuts collection a Calvin & Hobbes collection, a book I’ll get to in a second and a Spider-Man Vs. Venom tradepaperback (back in the days before comics publishers really grasped the idea of doing tradepaperbacks).
I rented out that Spider-Man Vs. Venom collection like my life depended on it. I renewed it whenever possible, until someone inevitable put a hold. In between I’d bounce between Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes. However, I’d always yearned to return to the same six or whatever stories where Spider-Man would punch out Venom.
One day I came to the library to rent it out again, but was disappointed to see it was off the shelf. When I asked the librarian when it would return, she broke my heart with the news it had been stolen. My beloved comic wasn’t coming back. For all intents and purposes, it was library dead.
I returned to the half shelf of comics deciding between either Calvin and Hobbes or Peanuts when I decided to give this other book a chance. It wasn’t like anything I had seen before. Spider-Man, Charlie Brown, Calvin and Hobbes were all characters I was previously familiar with. I had no idea who this mouse in a coat was, much less his friend in the blanket. And that moustachioed cat? And the symbol behind it? No idea.
But, whatever, on a flip through, it was comics enough. I’d give it a shot.
My memory’s pretty horrible for dates, but I would place this somewhere around 1989, maybe 1990. I was around seven or eight years old at the time. Nine at the most. We didn’t get the to the Holocaust in school yet. I had only read comics published by Marvel, DC and Archie. This book, its story and style were pretty much from an alien planet in comparison to everything else I had ever read. Kinda. There’s a minor exception there.
Otherwise, I distinctly remember the opening chapters of Maus being the first time I remember feeling like my mind had been blown.
The minor exception was recognizing the art style had some sort of roots with the classic cartoons and strips I had already fallen in love with. Ever since I was a kid I’ve had a predilection to preferring old cartoons and comic strips. Stuff from 1920-1940. Why? I dunno, it’s just what I dug. The only things I really remember being responsible for that were a VHS tape of old B&W Mickey Mouse cartoons and a compilation one of my father’s patients had given him to give to me of comic strips from the early 20th century. I always drew - and still do - with more inspiration from these old cartoons than anything remotely modern.
Anyway, I noticed that the art style in Maus seemed to have the same type of inspiration I did, even though it went in a very different direction. Regardless, it was enough of a connection point to dive into this otherwise alien territory. And I was enthralled.
I do recall being completely absorbed from the get go until I got to the “Prisoner On The Hell Planet” reprint. That was the very first time a comic actually horrified me. I was so thrown by it I had to stop reading Maus altogether, because I was so shocked by the story of art’s mother’s suicide. I secretly worried about my own mother committing suicide, despite the fact there was absolutely nothing else to make me concerned about her well being. She was - and remains so - a generally happy person.
It took some time for me to re-approach it, but I did and continued past Hell Planet to get to the meat of the story, the relationship between art’s father and his father’s story of surviving the Holocaust. It made me ask a lot of questions to both my parents about just what the Holocaust was. I was shocked to hear it was an actual event. On my first read I thought it was another comic book event, as crass as that is to write now. I was seven. Cut me some slack.
My parents were really supportive of their young kid’s sudden interest in World War II, specifically what was going down in Germany. I remember 7th grade was the year we were officially being taught about the Holocaust, but I had gone in already well educated on the subject.
Mom and Dad (and later Step-Mom) were always really supportive of my comics obsession in general. They seemed to all really get behind me reading one where I was actually learning something. Once Maus II compilation was released my father took me to a reading/signing of art’s at the downtown Los Angeles Public Library. I don’t think he quite knew what to expect.
The talk wasn’t an overview of the Holocaust. It was an overview of art’s career, starting with the undergrounds, all the way through his work on RAW with Francois Mouly, to Maus. I remember an awkward moment between us when art showed a slide of a woman peeing into a glass her fella proceeded to drink. I have to give my dad credit, he didn’t make me leave. He let us sit through the presentation.
Well, most of it. My dad was notorious with hating lines of any sort, so he wanted us to get a jump on the signing. We left a couple of minutes early, which initially disappointed me, but I immediately found out it meant we would be first for when art was signing.
And sign he did.
Since art was the first person I really connected as an individual artist, he was the first person to ever make me starstruck. I remember being extremely timid when he sat down, talked to us and asked who to sign the book out too. The first was my brand new copy of the first volume, along with the second. When he asked who to sign the second book to, he said, “jeeze, this Joe guy again?”
I didn’t realize he was kidding. I thought I had offended him.
But whatever. I had signed, sketched in copies of my then absolute favorite comic, which sat (and still remain) in a glass case at my dad and step-mom’s house. I’ve had a lot of comics signed and sketched in since, but I still treasure that one pretty much above any other. It was my first.
As years passed, I still had a major affinity for Maus and art in general. Since we had similar roots in inspiration, I took even more influence from his work and it began to affect what I was drawing. If there had been a RAW magazine for kids, my stuff would have fit in fairly well. Not so much in quality, but my childlike attempts at weird, experimental comics was the kind of stuff I dug drawing. Probably not what you expect from a guy who’s now more or less known for writing comics about muscular people tearing eachother’s arms off.
But it was what I was into. Huge. For years.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet art a few times since that signing.
The first was at a Book Expo of America when I was working as Image’s PR & Marketing Coordinator. By that point I worked in comics long enough to meet people I admired without completely geeking out. There have been a few exceptions since I was in that position. One was Seth. Another one was all three of the Hernandez Bros. Meeting Moebius was nerve wracking both times I did it.
I was talking to Batton Lash, who’s most famous for his Supernatural Law comics. However, he’s also known as one of the nicest dudes in comics. When he noticed I tensed up when art and Francois walked by my booth, he asked if I was a fan and I gave him a briefing of the above. He encouraged me to say hello. I couldn’t. Batton forced it.
I owe Batton a million times over.
The desire to edit an anthology - PopGun, in specific - was inspired by three in specific: Metal Hurlant, Kurtzman’s run on Mad and especially RAW. The first volume had just come out, so being able to not only talk to art and Francois, but also give them a copy of the anthology… buh. I’m tensed up just thinking about it. It meant a lot.
I’ve been lucky enough to see art a couple times more of the years. In each instance he was incredibly generous with his time, especially since I’ve never able to get completely comfortable.
Afterall, the guy had - and still has - a massive influence on my work and life.
For further reading, I recommend a trifecta of Maus I, II and the recent Making Of, MetaMaus. Those wishing to get into the advance class should check out the reprint of Breakdowns, published by Pantheon. All of it’s great. All of it’s brilliant.
All of it’s something to be grateful for.
The world lost Joe Kubert today.
Well, Joe Kubert the man. Joe Kubert the legacy is something that will live on forever, not just in the countless pages of comics he illustrated (including Tarzan, Sgt. Rock, Hawkman, Tor, Fax from Sarajevo, to name a few), but also the generations of artists trained through his Kubert School. The man was - is - a giant of the field, drawing right to the end, ever on the top of his game.
It’s cruel we’re losing him in the same year as Jean Giraud. The two are very similar - both are responsible for decade after decade of page after page of astonishing work so brilliant they light a fire under anyone to work harder. Both took a direct hand in bettering the generations to follow. Kubert with his school, Giraud building Metal Hurlant and being instrumental in a number of careers, including Geof Darrow.
Neither were satisfied with the status quo. Both strove to build better tomorrows. Just look at where the comics medium and industries were on their respective sides of the Atlantic when they started and where they are now. Look hard enough and you’ll see they were both hugely instrumental in this betterment.
They were immortals. Gods of comics. People you would never think would see at a convention and not even wonder if they would be there again. It felt like they always would be.
In some ways they will. As I said before, those pages they drew last forever. This is truer now more than ever, where we live in a golden age of reprints, where I can get the entire body of works by either man printed in - at the very least - their original languages.
We also live in a golden age of archiving footage from our past. My buddy Ian, the guy who curates the Moebius tumblr Quenched Consciousness, put up this YouTube clip of Kubert, Giraud and fellow comics god (thankfully still among us) Neal Adams on a 1972 episode of Tac au Tac.
Watching this clip made me pretty emotional. Like I said before, these are guys you were convinced would always be there. When a friend told me why Moebius wasn’t at Angouleme this past year, it just seemed absurd at first. How could someone like him possibly get sick?
Yet, they’re gone. Their time on Earth has passed.
Watching the clip really reinforced the importance of appreciating those we care for and admire while they’re still here. The fact Kubert passed the same weekend as Mike Wieringo and Mark Gruenwald did years before drives the point home even further. It also reinforced the absurdity of dwelling in those works you loathe, choosing to snark over things you dislike when the people you love have an expiration date.
There are so many women and men working in comics who have formed my life - creatively, professionally, personally - into what it is today. Some directly, some from afar, some strictly from pages I’ve read and poured over. Some have worked nearly as long as Kubert and Giraud. Some are just getting their start. If anything, this cruel, cruel year reinforces the importance of appreciating the time you have with those you admire.
They may be giants, but no one lives forever.
To those who have had such an impact on me, thank you.
I’m mulling over some way I can express this fully. Some way I can pay homage to all they’ve done. For now, I hope they somehow know they’re appreciated, loved and admired.
I set aside tonight to do a ton of interviews, but I thought I’d share this snippet from one of them where the interviewer was particularly harsh on Image Comics, circa 1992 and kinda sums up my feelings on comics in general:
I also don’t think as harshly as you do about the early Image stuff. Were they revealing truths about the human condition and making me reexamine my life? Not at all, but man, they were fun to read. They got me excited to create comics. I think that counts as ‘mission accomplished.’
I don’t expect every movie to be Wild Strawberries or every book to be Ulysses. Sometimes I want to get insight to the inner working of a soul, but sometimes I just want a couple of robots to beat the shit out of each other. I listen to classical music, I listen to Wu-Tang Clan, I listen to the Dandy Warhols, I listen to The Spookies, I listen to the Drive soundtrack, I listen to Serge Gainsbourg. I’m a dude who likes variety. I don’t want the same thing over and over. I just bought the third hardcover volume of Rob Liefeld’s X-Force in the same week I got Cosey’s new Jonathan tome. There’s a place for it all. I don’t think the early Image books promised something they weren’t.
This week’s iFanboy Letter Column had a letter from Natalie, a 19-year old who was frustrated with her pursuit to break into comics. It reminded me a lot of my own path, so I wrote this massive response, which I’m reprinting here.
I was pretty struck by Natalie’s letter as I remember having exactly the same feeling when I was 19 and feeling my desire to ‘break into comics’ was something that was Never Going To Happen. As a guy who has since had some success with comics and currently makes his living off of them, it turned out there was a lot I had to learn, that there’s a lot I know now that I wish I knew then.
While my time traveling ability is at an all-time low, I hope I can instead help out with Natalie and whoever else is feeling the same way by typing all this out. So, here goes: how I ‘broke into comics’ (a term we’ll destroy in a bit here) and the lessons I learned along the way.
You’ll ‘break in’ another way. Everybody’s path is wildly different. Spoilers: that’s the first lesson I wish I knew.
When I was 19 I left the house and moved up to Portland, OR for college. I had been reading comics my whole life - I’m still not even sure how that started. Since reading Spawn #10 at age 10, I wanted nothing more than to write and draw my own comics. Comics were - and still are - my greatest passion in life. There was no other art form or pursuit that ever interested me more.
However, by the time I was 20 I had given up on comics as a career completely, spending the next year or so with the aim of becoming an English professor. I had heard stories about guys like Jim Shooter or pretty much everybody from the 1940s breaking in during their teens. Guys like Rob Liefeld and the Image founders were largely young when they broke in. I felt my window had closed.
I loathed every minute of college, but it was The Safe Thing To Do. People don’t break into comics. It’s too hard to do. It’s a rarefied air I would never be able to breathe.
As I was nearing turning 21, I grew increasingly depressed. Like, A LOT depressed. So much so I was having a hard time getting anything done, much less school. This wasn’t what I wanted. I hated school, so the idea of being a professor and constantly being in school all the time seemed like some circle of Hell. That said, I had come to grips with the fact my drawing style was, at best, resembling dead cartoonists. It wasn’t marketable. I guess I wasn’t thrilled with my writing either, because the idea of being a writer was something I accepted was never going to happen.
At the time I had a girlfriend who was pursuing becoming a filmmaker and she urged me to try comics. She was moving down to San Francisco, a place with a huge history of people making comics like R Crumb, Erik Larsen, among many others. I thought the idea was stupid. My father, a guy who spent my entire life pushing me to go to college and get a secure job, didn’t. He pushed me to go. So, I did.
The deal was to give myself one year to try to get into comics. If it didn’t work out, I was back to becoming an English professor. As my dad put it, in the worst case scenario I would spend my 20s in one of the greatest cities on the planet, so it wasn’t the worst fate to have.
This was the tough part, because I knew what I wanted, but no idea how to do it. I took a handful of community college classes, mostly focused on writing and film (which I figured was a close cousin of comics. I’d later realize I would be better off studying music, which I now believe to be a lot closer). I wrote and I wrote and I wrote many a script no one in all existence will ever see. I wrote original stuff. I wrote what I guess is fan fiction. I read a lot. I studied a lot. I was just trying to figure out how to crack this code to comics.
Roughly six months in, friend of mine by the name of Mark Englert (whose name you may recognize from Capes with Robert Kirkman or Halocyon with Marc Guggenheim) was illustrating a Freak Force back up to Savage Dragon #115. He mentioned off hand how their color flatter quit and they needed another one. I asked what the hell a ‘color flatter’ did and he explained it’s the person who gets paid pennies to separate out all the different elements of a comics page in either flat color or grayscale for the colorist to fully render. I said I could do that. He asked if I knew anything about Photoshop. I said, Hell, no, but I’d figure it out. So I got a copy of Photoshop and did just that. Within days I was colorflatting on a computer that could barely handle it, using a mouse and a lasso tool. I was getting paid a dollar per hour to separate colors on a page. I dropped the college classes, worked at a video store from 5 PM to midnight then worked from 1 AM to 10 AM color flatting as much as I could. My health worsened for it. My relationship was demolished by it, but I was working in comics in some way, so I was freakin’ stoked. That’s lesson two: figure out the work no one else wants to do and do it well.
The thing is, the color flat work turned me from Random Fan to Guy Who Actually Could Get A Pro Badge At A Convention. Mark came up to visit both me and Erik Larsen (who lived across the bay in Oakland). I went with him to visit one time, since at this point I was color flatting some of Erik’s books. Erik asked me what I wanted to do and I told him. I also mentioned how I had no idea what to do. He said, “I don’t know what to tell you, son.”
From there we became buds. He was the only person in the bay area I knew who made comics as a living. At the same time, I was starting to hang out at a comic shop called Isotope, where I finally made a ton of friends who either shared my passion for reading comics or wanted to make comics on their own. Having these friends made me a lot more jazzed to make comics. It made it seem possible. So, that’s lesson number three: find your community, whether it’s in person or online. I think most people probably go with the latter.
My friendship with Erik led to us hanging out a bit during Wizard World LA, which led to me volunteering to run the Image booth when the guy doing so didn’t want to. That led to me knowing Eric Stephenson, which led to me doing the same thing at that year’s San Diego Comic Con for an up-and-coming writer named Robert Kirkman, who also didn’t want to handle sales at his booth. I did it for Image and Larsen. Apparently it worked out well. I sold a lot of books for Robert. He didn’t have to. Larsen and Stephenson saw how much effort I put into it. Larsen came up to me toward the end of the con and asked what I was doing lately. I mentioned my schedule of working at a video store, working on color flats, then coming home to the new apartment I shared with some friends who smoked so much there was a perpetual cloud in our hallway. ALSO: a kitchen seemingly made entirely out of dirty dishes. He asked how much I liked it. I said I didn’t. Then he said the other phrase I’ll never forget from him:
“Then why don’t you come work for me?”
Erik had become Publisher a few months before. He was in the bay area. So Image was going to be too. He said they needed to largely restaff the office and I seemed pretty enthusiastic and I obviously could get whatever work he had thrown at me done. My mind was blown for the months following, especially since he made it seem like it wasn’t a sure thing. I’m still not sure it was, but lo and behold, in November of 2004 I left Hollywood Video for the last time and went to work the next week at Image Comics.
My initial job there was Inventory Controller, which basically had me as a glorified mailroom boy. I worked from that to Traffic Manager, which I did for years, which basically meant I maintained our scheduling, printing and distribution. Eventually I was the PR & Marketing Coordinator and for a brief time the Sales & Licensing Coordinator. Throughout all these jobs I got a ton of experience and easily the best education one could ever have in the comics field. It showed me how the business actually worked from almost every single angle. Even those angles I didn’t work, like accounting, production or publishing, I was able to work alongside some of the best people in the field who do what they do. To this day I am still mesmerized by how damn amazing the Image Comics Production Staff was and continues to be. They’re the unsung heroes of creator owned comics. So, that’s lesson four: learn the industry. Know your business.
As much as comics is a beautiful art form, it is an industry. Knowing what I know now helped me out a lot. Image will most likely not hire you. So, do your research. Go to websites like iCv2. Go to panels at conventions. Hell, talk to people at conventions. Unless I’m signing or on a panel, I am pretty much always open to answering whatever questions people have. I wouldn’t be where I am now without the help of others. That’s lesson five: pay it forward. People are going to help you break into comics. You need to do the same.
Speaking of paying it forward: at a Wizard World LA in 2005 I met a guy who would become one of my best friends, Mark Andrew Smith. You’ll no doubt recognize him as the dude who’s now writing GLADSTONE’S SCHOOL FOR WORLD CONQUERORS and the upcoming SULLIVAN’S SLUGGERS with artist James Stokoe. We were coming into comics at the same time, so despite the sometime huge physical distance between us (he’s been living in Asia for years), we kept in relatively constant contact. Around the same time I started to get to know other cartoonists, people like Brandon Graham (now of KING CITY fame), that Stokoe guy, Marley Zarcone (she of HOUSE OF MYSTERY), and many others. They were all doing amazing things at smaller publishers or in some cases even just online. I long wished they would get a larger platform, as I was (and still am) convinced they could take over this medium. Concurrent to that I would talk to friends who did more established work say they wish they had a platform to create whatever without the restraints of their own books. About a year or so later Mark gave me a call saying he just inherited a sci-fi anthology. He asked for what I thought we should do. I said ‘something bigger.’
After many more a conversation, the idea for PopGun was formed. Editing an anthology was nothing I ever saw coming. Mark and I split editorial duties and eventually included an assistant who would go on to fully co-edit two volumes, DJ Kirkbride. The long-story short, we edited four volumes altogether and the series has gone to win multiple Harveys and even an Eisner for its efforts. There was no way for me to ever know it would go so freakin’ big back when Mark and I first talked about maybe doing it, but we did. There’s lesson six, be open to every opportunity that comes along. You’ll never know where it will lead. Saying yes will more likely lead you down more interesting paths than saying no.
For instance, editing PopGun led to me editing other books, including ONE MODEL NATION, a book written by one of my all-time favorite musicians, The Dandy Warhols’ Courtney Taylor-Taylor and illustrated by AFRODISAIC’s Jim Rugg. Editing became something of a second job (albeit one that didn’t really pay) for a long time. Again, I never expected it to even happen.
Then there was Angouleme.
After countless times of pushing me to go, my buddy Justin finally convinced me to go to the The Angoulême International Comics Festival in 2010. He knew I wanted to write, but he also knew that I had never been outside of the United States and Canada. I was able to figure out how to get there and for the first time in my life I crossed the Atlantic ocean and went to Paris, France.
This experience is one of those major moments in my life, on par with moving from Portland to San Francisco or being hired at Image Comics. It was there I was exposed to so much both in and out of comics that I had never seen before. It was the life experience I needed to get me writing. Which is lesson seven, possibly the most important: get some life experience. The best writers and artists draw from truth. If all you’ve ever done is stay in the same town, your field of vision is going to be pretty limited. Fall in love. Get your heart broken. Get in a fist fight. Travel abroad. Do something really stupid. Spend too much money. Start a savings account. Wake up with a bad hangover. Learn to cook. Read books without pictures. Go to concerts you don’t want to go. Go to bars alone in foreign lands and see who you meet. Drink Absinthe. Real Absinthe. The stuff you should be arrested for and you’ve got to separate and mix correctly or you’ll die.
Returning from this trip was tough. On the plus side, it really kick started my creative juices in ways I never anticipated. All I wanted to do was write my own comics, but I wasn’t. I was writing press releases about other people’s. Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved my job. Very much. It’s another life experience I am eternally grateful for, but at the same time if there’s something putting people in this existence to do a specific thing it was obvious that wasn’t it for me.
Time passed. Eventually it became obvious it was what I needed to do, in both in my and my employers eyes. They liked me, but they needed someone with their focus in the right place. Made sense. We parted ways.
This, right here, was one of the scariest experiences I ever had. Yeah, I’ve been in some actually, physically threatening situations (I highly recommend those as well for the life experience thing), but this was something where the entire status quo of my life was shifting to something new and different. I didn’t have the secure job. I didn’t have the health insurance. I didn’t have the regular paycheck.
I basically had a drive to create and some money saved up.
Living in San Francisco means you pay to live in San Francisco. When you’ve got a full time job with benefits, you can make ends meet. When you’re trying to start a freelance career, it’s not the best place to be. I travelled around to a few different cities including Seattle, WA, Vancouver, BC and Portland, OR to figure out where to go from there.
Within hours I knew I would move back to Portland. It was there a friend I made working together at Hollywood Video in San Francisco all those years ago, Emi Lenox (yep, same one from Image Comics’ EMITOWN), had been working on establishing her career. It was there one of my previous bosses, Jim Valentino, drove me around and more or less proved why Portland was the place to be. The community of creators there was unparalleled. The low cost of living was absurd. So, the second day there I put in an application for an apartment. I got it the following day. I moved in a month later.
That’s lesson eight: be willing to be scared. Be willing to take a risk. Be willing to do something that’s possibly stupid. I will add the caveat that this step is hard, impossible to take if you have responsibility to others, such as a kid, but I didn’t. So I did it. Taking the safe route never works.
I’ve been living in Portland for almost eighteen months now and being back here is the best decision I’ve ever made. The cost of living made existing on freelance rates very doable. The location and community made finding more work a lot easier. Its accessibility to other parts of the country, like Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, made promoting myself easier. The friends I’ve made here have kept me extremely motivated.
The experiences I had at Image and elsewhere opened up doors to opportunities, but it was only by going through those doors and putting my all into them that I was able to get anywhere. I barely graduated high school. I never graduated college. If I can do this, you can do this, which I guess is lesson nine.
So, yeah. Such opportunities included a lot of freelance editing jobs that weren’t exactly what I wanted to do, but subsidized working on my writing in the meantime. They also opened a lot of doors. Working with Frank Cho and Doug Murray on projects like 50 GIRLS 50 helped me hone my writing craft by editing someone else’s work. Frank was a buddy beforehand, but working together on this led to us deciding to co-write BRUTAL together, which he’s drawing as well. This experience helped me financially and creatively to put together my own ongoing creator-owned series, HELL YEAH, with Andre Szymanowicz, who I met by working on POPGUN.
This pursuit on writing eventually took the notice of another previous boss, Eric Stephenson, who along with another guy I worked with at Image, Rob Liefeld, invited me to pitch for their upcoming Extreme line. They asked if I could put something together, so I did within days. That’s lesson ten, when someone invites you do anything - whether it’s pitching or whatever, do it right away. There’s a billion other people out there who want your job. If you don’t move on it, they will.
Luckily, I did. In February 2012, the goal I’ve been working on this entire time, writing a work-for-hire ongoing series becomes a reality with the release of GLORY. It feels pretty good, but at the same time, it just makes me want to work harder than I ever have before. I may be on the cusp of the beginning of what I’ve been working towards and wanting all these years, but that’s not good enough. I want to do better.
The way I got into comics isn’t the best way. I made a ton of mistakes along the way. I’ll make a ton more in the future, but it is my way. I’m still not satisfied with where I am. The main thing I’m hoping anyone gets out of this is that you never know how you’ll do it or how long it’ll take before you get where you need to go, but the overall most important lesson to this is that there is NO breaking into comics. That’s the final lesson. Comics isn’t a fortress. Comics isn’t a secret club with a password you need to learn. Comics is a medium one person can take on their own. Want to make comics? Make comics. Make them your own way. I can’t guarantee this will bring you success, critically or monetarily, but it will personally and in the end, that’s all that matters.
Good luck in all your pursuits. If you want this, you can do it.
Make it so.
Here’s the last sneak peek before the announcement of the Comic I Would Have Wanted To Read At Age Twelve Even Though My Parents And Teachers Would Have Been Pissed.
Those are the best comics.
Comics should piss people off. Comics have become too safe. We need to shake things up a little.
Erik Larsen, creator of Savage Dragon, from an Image Comics board post.
I feel like I have a larger piece in me on the subject, but will have to get to it another time.
A month ago I previewed a B&W panel from an upcoming unannounced creator-owned series from an unannounced publisher. Tonight I’m putting up a colored/lettered version.
Yeah, Friday night isn’t the ideal time to post things for maximum visibility, but consider it the comics equivalent of a secret show. Seems appropriate, given the material.