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2014 WonderCon! Who’s going?!

April 9th, 2014 · Uncategorized

I have a panel with IDW: “Hidden Treasures,” Friday, 4/18/14, 5:30p.m. – 6:30p.m., Room: 213

–and will be signing at the IDW booth–

Signing #1: Friday 3:30pm – 4:30pm
Signing #2 Saturday 11am – Noon

LOTS of freebies and giveaways this year so come and say hey!!

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Crowdfunding? It hurts more than it helps–

December 19th, 2013 · Uncategorized

“Crowdfunding,” by the way, has hurt the independent market for comic creators. I have been told by some publishers, several of which I have worked with multiple times as a creator and work for hire, that my original idea, my new IP project that they really, really liked, was just a “vanity project.” Instead of paying me to do it, they told me to start a Kickstarter. “If it does well, we’ll publish it for you.” I don’t need them to publish it, I can self publish, really, I have an agent that can try and sell it and I have a manager who will promote it. What I need from them is their funds to help me create a book and put it out into the marketplace. That takes money, money they’re no longer willing to put into independent projects unless you’re the writer of a TV show or long-running novel series.

So now, instead of pitching an idea to a comic company and working with them to make a book they’d want to publish, I have to beg and borrow to create something they may just pass on at the end of the day anyway.

If they’re not willing to put and “skin” into the game for the project, then why would they want to help you develop some kind of synonymous relationship to begin with? Their money and access to their team of editors is supposed to be one of the draws of working with a good company, nut just them printing the book and distributing it. Yes, printing and distribution costs money, but this is stupid. If they believe in something, something they really want to publish, why not assume some of that risk? The RISK is what prompts them into doing their jobs: molding the concept, editing it to be what they as a company want to sell, marketing it to the masses, selling it to the stores, and promoting the book to the people.

Without that, you’ll never get the main-stream success you need to survive more than a six-issue mini or OGN. It’s sad, really. It seemed like a good idea at the start for inverters and creators alike, but now that companies see it as a way to get out of paying any up-front costs to creators and artists, it’s become a quickly tightening noose around newcomers and old-times collectively.

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Hey artisits! Don’t work for free!

December 19th, 2013 · Uncategorized

Though many artists need to “get their stuff out there,” I would suggest never working for zero. And by that I don’t mean just money, but I mean anything. “Exposure” is a legitimate concern for many young artists who can’t get their work in front of publishers (and not just the big two), but getting nothing in return for the hours of dedication and hard work it takes to make a comic is pointless and just rude. Especially when the owner of the property has a chance to make a profit.

That being said, artists who have never worked in the industry before shouldn’t expect to make the “Big Two’s” page rates for their work the first time out of the gates. To put it in comics terms, Todd McFarlane was able to up his page rate when he became famous on Spider-Man. See my point? And even some of the known guys are struggling to make real money today. If you ask any penciler what they make when they are working for companies like Dynamite, IDW, or even BOOM!, you might be shocked to see how much it breaks down to hourly (to do this, you take the page rate and divide it by how long it takes you to do a page. Most pencilers can do a page a day – 8 hours straight time, so divide the page rate by 8). This isn’t great, but it’s money. Real money. And being paid “something” is a must. So let’s talk about rights and partnerships and taking percentages over payments…

Many writers/creative people, like myself, aren’t at the penciling standards many publishers need to try and sell a new, unproven product to the public, so we have to rely on hiring an artist. The majority of Writers/Creators out there don’t have gobs of money just laying around, they’re struggling to break in and make end’s meat just like the next guy. This means they have very modest amounts of money they can pay an artist, if any. But what they do have are rights to their property.

Now, I won’t break contractual confidences here, but when I did my first OGN, “SOCOM: SEAL TEAM SEVEN,” I worked with a relative newcomer to comics named Roberto de La Torre (who is now a big cheese at Marvel – good for you Roberto!) and we negotiated a decent page rate we could both live with. It was low, but it was all I could afford and he knew my book already had a publisher attached; he needed the exposure. I’m not a millionaire, but I made a weekly paycheck, and every week I would put money aside to pay him his page rate at the end of the payment cycle. By the time the project was finished, he came out with a check and I got a kick-ass book from Image that had my words in balloons and his art in panels. ‘Nuff said. I struggled to pay him what he wanted because I wanted to keep my rights, those ownership rights.

Why?

Let’s face it; comics have become a springboard medium that comic companies completely understand isn’t about the comic sales. It’s something the industry calls “Transmedia.” Can your idea be translated into different forms of media– like a comic, game, film, TV show, toys, etc. That’s all they really care about because that’s where they make the most money. Telling a good story? Welllll, sometimes, yes, they care, but the real money is in the ancillary products they can make nowadays. And those rights aren’t something to scoff at as an artist partnering up with a writer/creator that doesn’t have a lot of seed money. Every time you see a comic book movie or TV show or game, the creator of that property is being paid (not with Marvel and DC, again – those characters are owned by corporations and not individuals). Those rights ARE worth money.

Work for free? NO. Writer/Creator can’t afford to pay you, then get payment another way. Hell, I paid a guy’s phone bill for three months once so he would work with me. Sometimes you hit the jackpot with a project and it’ll sell to the right people for a lot of money but most times it won’t. Just be happy with the end product, your book, and don’t ever work for “free.”

EDIT: This came to light today–

http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/18/showbiz/walking-dead-lawsuit/index.html?hpt=hp_t4

I rest my case.

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Happy Holidays!

December 9th, 2013 · Uncategorized

Happy Holidays to all of you and yours this amazing winter season. And thank all of you for the continued support!

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

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Aging–

September 13th, 2013 · Uncategorized

As I get older, I find myself reflecting more on the past, my strengths and weaknesses and how to better myself. No, I’m not 100, I’m 40 but that’s a long time to be on this planet in anyone’s book, especially with all the stuff I’ve seen and done. I just watched the trailer to “Grudge Match” and I wanted to throw a very specific “thank you” out there to Sylvester Stallone for doing the one thing Hollywood couldn’t do for years: Make the general public remember why we loved these guys in the first place and proving once and for all we cannot just dump older folks to the side.

Ask anyone who Humphrey Bogart was. Or Errol Flynn and you’re gonna get blank stares. They were the shining stars of their day, but as they aged, Hollywood thew them aside for the younger and shiny newbies. We do it today, certainly. But there are those who fight back and prove that agism is a bunch of shit. I almost shit when I heard girls today think Brad Pitt is old. Ungh.

When I joined the USMC after 9/11 I was wold I was too old to defend my country. I was 28. I told the Gunny to kiss my ass and went around the rules, pushing through waivers and meeting with Colonels to prove to them I was worthy of being a Marine. Now, that’s an extreme, but it fits.

We need to remember older generations built us, made us who we are as a country, and respect them. We as younger people generally fear old people because we can’t imagine ever being them. Well, guess what? Unless you OD, get shot, hit by a truck or end up like Wall-E people, you’re gonna. They have a lot to offer and we should never forget their accomplishments. Especially people like Stallone, De Niro, Pacino, Walken, Keitel and the rest of the Hollywood heroes.

Thanks, Sly. You’re one of a kind and I, for one, never counted you out. An artist to the last, you’ve had an amazing career that’s taken chances, seen its ups and downs and I’m happy to have you back.

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Didn’t get to go to San Diego Comic Con? Look no further!

July 24th, 2013 · Uncategorized

Check out the updates, photos and celeb sightings here with my Facebook postings!

Read them here

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“The Lone Ranger” wasn’t that bad?

July 24th, 2013 · Uncategorized

Last night I had the displeasure of sitting through “The Lone Ranger.” Now, I say displeasure not because it was a bad movie, but because it could have been a fantastic movie. If it knew what kind of film it had wanted to be. Comedy? Buddy action flick? It didn’t know and I don’t think the filmmakers did either…

The problems with the film started right away when I knew the move was going to be “narrated” by Johnny Depp in “old man” make-up (which never looks real, no matter how well it’s designed or constructed). He’s lost his mind (crazy old Indian) or has he? as he tells a youngster the tale of the Lone Ranger and Tonto. These moments, usually designed to give the audience a break from the narrative and action by offering insight into the mindset of a main character did nothing but slow the pacing, provide cheap laughs (more on that in a bit) and interrupt some really well acted and scripted dramatic moments.

The character of the Lone Ranger is what most would think of as a bit of a stiff one in today’s world, trading killing bad guys for bringing them to justice in a court of law. Personally, I like that. As screenwriters, with movies like Death Wish all the way up to Machete, we’ve taught our society that justice only comes from the barrel of a gun. That’s not always the case and this movie does a great job of capturing that core character sentiment in John Reid. But what this movie fails to do with all of the major characters is to place what could be seen as much needed levity by adding jokes and gags that destroys the core fibers of what makes them who they are. Each of the characters is dumbed down with stupid gags, pratfalls and sight jokes, crippling the believability of their later heroic actions and efforts. For instance, when we first meet John Reid on a train coming home after graduating law school, he helps a baby get her dropped dolly back. But instead of showing how caring he is by having him hand it back to her, we see what a buffoon he is when it gets unrealistically sucked out of an open window. Why do we need this? Reid’s all about the Law, not an imbecilic klutz, and to show him as such simplifies the character almost to a point of no return.

And Tonto. Weeeellllll… Let’s forget Tonto’s make-up and bird headdress (Depp is after all, Johnny Depp and must find a quirk in every character he plays. The truth is, the make-up is inspired by a painting of an Indian called “I am Crow” – Google it) but instead focus on the stupidity of the humor that is so obviously misplaced that it’s insulting. He goes from trusted friend (kemosabe in this movie means “wrong brother” not “trusted friend”) to insult slinging sidekick who isn’t even a necessity. Why must buddies all hate one another in these films? When did male bonding and brotherly friendship become bad?

To break up real emotional moments with humor does three things: 1. it shows the filmmakers didn’t believe in the truth they were trying to create with the emotion they were conveying, 2. it shows how stupid Hollywood thinks the general public is. No, you’re not allowed to feel sad, introspective or even pity because those are emotions most people are uncomfortable with so we’ll make you forget about the hundreds of DEAD INDIANS and place Silver on a tree wearing a hat, and 3. it proves Hollywood doesn’t trust the property they’re working with. Humor in films like Avengers comes from the archetypes of the character they’re working with. Tony Start is a smart-mouth who uses sarcastic humor to push people away because he’s afraid to let anyone get close to him because of abandonment issues. But the usually stoic Tonto is a very spiritual and serious character (especially in this film – not to spoil it) so the humor really does come out of left field and is wrong to say the least.

What’s worse is at certain times they even poke fun of the classic Lone Ranger elements, as if to say “Yes, we know these need to be in here, but they’re stupid and dated and so are you if you like them.” And it makes those of us who enjoyed and loved these types of films for just that, those moments, in essence calling us old and stupid. James Bond will never have gadgets again? Really? Hell, Batman STILL HAS a giant penny in the trophy room of the Batcave and that’s from the 50’s (it’s called an “homage”). See, what DC has been able to do with some of their characters (and I thank Geoff Johns for this one) is to look at those times nostalgically and say “yes, we had Batman and Robin in space with bubble helmets and jetpacks, but so what?” We’ve progressed with technology and science, so in certain issues Batman even shakes his head once in a while as if to say, “wow how did we survive those times.” That’s not making fun of it, but acknowledging to an older audience that we know they’re there and appreciate their continued support as we build a new fan-base. The 60’s Batmobile is STILL in the comic today.

It was storytelling for the period and those times are revered by a large number of people, where there was still innocence in the world and people looked up to heroes. But the filmmakers crap all over that here when Reid rears Silver back and shouts “Hi Ho Silver, away!” by saying to the audience that we’re old and stupid because Tonto pipes right up and tells him to “never do that again!” I was so pissed at that moment because it was shot so well and looked really cool, so when Tonto told him to knock it off, I felt as if it was the filmmakers telling everyone in the audience who was waiting for that iconic moment that your old, outdated and an idiot if you ever thought that was cool. It was really, truly insulting.

Technically, the film was shot well and really captured the feeling of the old west. Verbinski does a great job of transporting us back to the days of yesteryear, but is hampered with a great script sabotaged with misplaced comedy. The pallet is perfect, cinematography excellent, the acting solid and the effects flawless (well, for the most part. The exploding bridge was a brilliant practical miniature, but some of the comps were lack-luster and filled with blue-spill).

The humor just ruined it.

Instead of feeling the gravity of a situation and getting the emotional impact of a scene, we are immediately hit with a comedy hammer right across the face to as if to say “snap you out of it.” It’s a waste, as this movie (sans the stupid misplaced humor) is actually a good film and I would LOVE someone to edit the comedy out of the film for the most part – I’d buy that for a dollar!

D – DVD

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Going to San Diego Comic Con? I am!

July 15th, 2013 · Uncategorized

My San Diego Comic Con signing schedule as of right now–

THURSDAY
SIGNING AT IDW BOOTH (#2643) 1:00 – 2:00pm

SATURDAY
SIGNING AT ARCANA BOOTH (#2415) – 1:15-2:00pm

SUNDAY
SIGNING AT IDW BOOTH (#2643) 3:00 – 4:00pm

We’ll have a lot of freebies from America’s Army (exclusive trading cards, comics, and even FREE ARTIST SKETCH CARDS drawn on-site!!) at the IDW booth, so please come on by and meet me as well as Scott R. Brooks, the artist for the series.

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America’s Army comic a huge success!!!

July 15th, 2013 · Uncategorized

Here is a very nice article that mentions my contributions to the comic, as well as discussing the history of the project in whole–

Read it here

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IDW publishing my America’s Army comic!

June 18th, 2013 · Uncategorized

Yep, you read that right! IDW Publishing (Star Trek, Transformers, GI JOE) is now going to be publishing the comic book I’m writing based on the first-person video game AMERICA’S ARMY! It’s a great week! That, closing on a house (thank you, no money down VA loan!), getting the final draft of a novella finished and working towards completing my first major science fiction novel? That’s what I call a great week!

If you’re interested in AA, please check out the free digital version from IDW–

IDW America’s Army

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