Just about ready. #NYCC (Taken with Instagram)
“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)
At New York Comic Con, during Robert Kirkman’s Creator-Owned Comics panel, I announced I’m writing my very first creator-owned ongoing series, HELL YEAH, with illustrator Andre Szymanowicz, coming in 2012.
It looks like this:
This is how it happened:
When I was ten I discovered Image Comics.
I remember exactly where and when too - I was at lunch at the Catholic School I went and a buddy slid copies of most of the number ones in front of me and I was completely hooked. All of our favorite guys were on new books, books that were unlike anything else they’ve done before.
At the time I didn’t even realize they were at different companies. Heck, I didn’t really get there WERE other companies. All I knew was the guys who were doing some of my favorite comics were now doing other comics in which stuff happened that could never happen in the comics they were originally doing. Green Goblin sure never tore Spider-Man’s heart from his chest.
They got my a spark going in my imagination no other comics ever did. I went from someone rabid to read comics to someone rabid to draw comics. It was one rainy day in Mr. R’s class that me and a bunch of my 5th grade brethren sat at different desks and made our own new characters, since our favorite artists made theirs. Mine was a misguided attempt at parody, creating a character based off The Maxx called Faxx.
Yeah, I wasn’t so clever.
This started what’s turned into two gigantic boxes full of home-made comics now sitting in some corner of my mom’s garage.
They’re pretty odd. As I mentioned, Faxx was more my attempt at parody than straight superheroics. Sure, he fought dudes, but I was more interested in making dumb jokes with him. Horrible, horrible dumb jokes. I even drew the Violator in one. That looked like this:
This issue had those three little monsters trying to hire someone to kill Faxx and the dialogue reads:
"Can we hire you?"
"Do you have a heart?"
I drew it shortly after Violator tore out Spawn’s heart in issue #3 (I think)? I guess I just expected him to be a dude who went around eating hearts.
Anyway, yeah, my kid superhero comics were skewed from regular superhero books. I kept it going as it got older, going away from parody to having comics like Eightball, Optic Nerve, Hate, Maus and whatever Crumb I could get my hands on having an increasing influence. They still starred my superheroes, but they got weirder. Mostly focused on their day-to-day lives, their relationships, music they liked, etc. For instance, I had one guy who had a snowglobe for a head and just focused on the anxiety he felt because, well, he had a snowglobe for a head.
While I still drew from time to time, I stopped drawing outright comics for a while. However, I still wrote constantly. When I was in college I returned to a couple of the heroes I wrote about in a one-act play I wrote, directed and co-starred in called Zero Crisis, with Portland’s own Alex Arrowsmith. All the heroes did was talk about their relationships in comparison to the super-adventure stuff they had to deal with.
That looked like this:
God damn, I was a skinny dude back then.
ANYWAY. So that eventually led to me dropping out of college to break into comics, which is a story I’ve told before. At one point that led me to work at Image Comics, in various positions including being their marketing director.
Here’s an example of that, when we were setting up for a San Diego Comic Con one year.
Working at that company for so long (six years!) was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I got to pour a lifetime of passion into the company that gave me the creative spark in the first place. I met people who would become some of my best friends and mentors - and in a couple of instances, people who would be both. I am who I am today in a large part because of this time and I’m thankful for every second of it.
Even still, the creative spark just wouldn’t go out. While I loved the job, I pursued comics to create comics and I wasn’t. I had to create. They could tell I had to create. So we parted ways.
See, as you know, I’ve kept doing a lot of stuff through them, whether it’s one-off shorts like The Next Issue Project and Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies or editing projects like 50 Girls 50. That’s the public stuff. Behind the scenes I’ve been working on getting my own creator owned stuff going, which includes the already announced series-of-mini-series, BRUTAL with co-creator, co-writer and illustrator Frank Cho.
Now it gets kicked up a notch in two ways (I’ll get to the other in the next post) as I launch my very first Image Comics ongoing series… HELL YEAH.
HELL YEAH is the culmination of all this history. It’s what those first comics I drew in fifth grade has been leading up to. It’s a lifetime of dreaming of what kind of comics I wanted to create made real. These are the relentless ideas of how I viewed superheroes as evolved through so many different formats. There was even another attempt to do the book years ago, with another artist, which turned out so horribly I thought the idea was dead until I met Andre and found him to be the only person on Earth I could ever collaberator to make this particular series a reality.
Andre’s amazing. I have full confidence Marvel and DC will be attempting to swoop him up once the series comes up. His talents have jumped leaps and bounds ever since we first published him in POPGUN. Despite dealing with these characters and ideas in one form or another since I was a kid, I am more excited than ever in large part because of having him to create with.
So, there you go.
HELL YEAH is an ongoing series, created and formatted to be read in an series of comic books, printed on paper with staples in the side of it and, if you so desire, bagged and boarded and put in your longbox or spinner rack. Will there be trades? Of course. Will there be digital versions? Absolutely. However, this is our love letter to the comics that inspired us so damn much.
The series is about what it’s like to live in a world where superheroes appeared out of no where twenty years ago and became the pillars of industry and world’s biggest celebrities. I figure celebrity superheroes has been done ad nauseam (popularized in Image’s opening salvo, Youngblood, no less) so we’re not focusing on them at all. We’re focusing on the generation raised in this world and how this effects their daily lives. How it effects music and movies and pop culture and education and war and all the little parts of your life you take for granted.
That said, it’s packed full of ideas and isn’t ashamed to be a superhero-inspired comic. It always drove me nuts how when comics would often focus on the real-world effects of superheroes they would get pretty negative, resulting in a fake giant squid blowing up in New York (spoilers) or people getting cancer, whatever.
The title is our war call. Do I love comics? HELL YEAH I DO. This is a celebration of all things comics. It’s a celebration of everything the medium has to offer all under one title.
I hope you dig it.
I’ll keep you updated.
Oh, and yeah, it is totally the same book as this:
This is the kind of party HELL YEAH is inviting you to, where your new favorite band, THE ALL-NEW ALL-DIFFERENTS plays to an audience filled with robots, luchadores, lizard men and that girl you won’t stop crushing on.
More to come.
UPDATE (OCTOBER 7th): Please note the ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT time for my signing on Saturday! There’s a heightened alert of President Ronnie being kidnapped by ninjas when I was signing before and they have to make sure there’s a bad enough dude ready to save him.
LOOK OUT! My schedule for New York Comic Con (October 13-16th) is finally here!
PLUS: I highly, highly recommend attending CREATOR-OWNED COMICS WITH ROBERT KIRKMAN on Friday at 4:00 - 5:00 PM in the American Airlines Theater, 1A06. Last time they announced Brian K. Vaughn’s return to comics, 50,000 Jonathan Ross titles AND that BRUTAL comic I keep talking about. This time…? LET’S FIND OUT TOGETHER!
P.S.: Big ups to Ross Campbell for DOOMing up that photo. His threat of physical violence is my marketing material gain!
everything copyright 2013 by Joe Keatinge unless it is not.