Friday, July 26, 2013

Life inside the Fish Bowl

The process of getting a comic book of the ground is one that sometimes takes years for the uninitiated (among which I count myself). As a writer, one of the important aspects is keeping my tools sharp by writing when and wherever I can (even if it isn't on the title). In this instance I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to work with Self Publisher Magazine on what I hope will be a regular column called 'The Fish Bowl Chronicles'. One that will maybe shed some light on the process and enlighten those who wonder why it takes so long for things to happen. So if you are curious about what happens behind the scenes or want to read some great articles and interview with industry self publishers, check out the link to the magazine: Self Publisher Magazine #66

Until the next episode, Enjoy!

Monday, April 29, 2013

In Other News.....

In my efforts to see a comic book created, my travels have allowed me to cross paths with various creators and fans alike. Among them are the folks over at Self Publisher Magazine. This publication is by Indie creators who want to share what they are passionate about. It looks like I may soon count myself amongst their ranks. I am in the process of developing what would be a monthly column that chronicles the process of trying to have a title created. It may be funny, it may be sad, it may be a little of both. The point of the exercise will be to shed some light on the whole process for those who might aspire to get into the industry, for fans who have always wondered what went into creating their favorite reads and to open myself up to input from those who have already done it (why re-invent the wheel). So, stay tuned, more is yet to come!

Industry innovator Joseph Illidge shed some light on things.....

As things continue to roll along on the comic book front, I had the opportunity to interview one of the industry innovators, Joseph Illidge. Mr. Illidge was instrumental in helping Milestone Comics become a success and later went on to serve as editor for DC Comics Batman. He really had some great insight to share, Check out his interview!

Jospeh Illidge took time out of a very busy schedule to share some of his thoughts on comic book creation, the digital medium, projects in the pipeline and much more. For those not in the know about this talented creator and visionary, check out his bio. Setting a great example in work ethic, industry knowledge and how to create tales that break barriers of all kinds, Mr. Illidge is a model for aspiring creators and industry insiders alike.
Joseph Illidge started his editorial career at Milestone Media, Inc., the first Black-owned mainstream comic book company and creators of “Static Shock!, the award-winning Warner Bros. cartoon.
Joseph was the first African-American to become an editor of the Batman line of comic books and graphic novels for DC Entertainment, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Joseph was also the editor for the company’s top-selling female action-adventure comic, Birds of Prey.
After his tenure at DC Comics, Joseph became the Comics Editor for the critically-acclaimed independent graphic novel publisher, Archaia Entertainment. Now the Head Writer and Editor for his own production company, Verge Entertainment, Joseph works for various clients on film and graphic novel projects.
Joseph has been a public speaker at Digital Book World’s forum, Digitize Your Career: Marketing and Editing 2.0, Skidmore College, Purdue University, on the panel "Diversity in Comics: Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Sexual Orientation in American Comic Books.", and most recently at the Soho Gallery for Digital Art’s panel on the subject of blacklisting in the comic book industry.
Joseph has written, and been interviewed, on the subjects of race, comics, and politics, and his newest project is a historical graphic novel for a top book publisher (The Ren will be published by First Second Books, a division of New York City-based publisher, Macmillan)

MT: Thank you for taking this time to share with us Mr. Illidge. As a writer, who are some of your influences? How did you get into comics?

JI: Too many influences to mention in one shot. Graphic novelist Warren Ellis. The departed Editor-in-chief of Milestone Media, Inc. and graphic novelist / animation writer Dwayne McDuffie. Novelist Denise Mina. “Breaking Bad” creator / writer Vince Gilligan. All of their work has such a sense of character truth while being succinct, and you never know what’s coming next.
Oh, and novelist Lee Child. The man is a writing machine, and I love the Jack Reacher series. Again, his style is succinct. Lots of short sentences, utilizing active language to create a beat that makes you keep turning the pages.

My entry into comics was through Milestone Media, Inc., the first mainstream Black-owned comic book company. I took the P Diddy approach and started at the bottom as an intern, working my way up to becoming the assistant to the President, and becoming the Editor of the company’s flagship title Hardware a few years later. I wanted to learn how a comic book company worked, across every area of the business structure. The Milestone founders gave me that opportunity, for which I will always be grateful.

The editorial and managerial skills I developed while working at Milestone helped me to excel as an editor at DC Comics on the Batman line of comics and graphic novels. While managing my corner of the Batman universe, I started my own production company, Verge Entertainment.
Co-founded with Shawn Martinbrough, artist for the graphic novel series Thief of Thieves by the creator of AMC’s “The Walking Dead”, and videogame developer Milo Stone, Verge has developed an extensive library of intellectual properties for transmedia development. Live-action and animated television and film, videogames, graphic novels, and web-based entertainment.

MT: What do you think are the most important components that contribute to determining an independent creator’s success?

JI: Talent, consistency, and the ability to self-promote. The absence of any of the three makes it extremely difficult in the comic book industry, because there seem to be more creator-owned comics out than ever before, thus more competition.

Be good at your craft. Have the work come out on a regular schedule. Either learn to get the word out or ally yourself with someone skilled in the marketing / promotion / PR arena. Too many independent creators try to self-promote, but don’t have the savvy for it. It’s best to creators to honestly assess their skills and abilities.
The most important thing is that creators enjoy producing their own projects. If they’re counting on making lots of money and getting their book optioned by Hollywood, it’s an invitation to disappointment and disillusionment.

MT: If you had to recommend a book that you felt would be an invaluable tool for pencilers, what would it be? Writers? Inkers? Colorist?

JI: There is no single book to help creators from any category of artistic labor. Creators should read regularly, practice their art regularly, and learn every day. Be willing to learn and take criticism. If you cannot take criticism and alter your art to the needs of a client, do not go into business as an independent contractor…unless you can get lots of people to pay lots of money for your work without any changes.

Creators also need to be willing to get professional instruction and, or counsel, if their work is not up to a certain level of quality. Not everyone with an idea is a writer. Not everyone who started drawing as a kid is a penciler. Not everyone who can dip a brush in ink is an inker. Not everyone who likes to color with their computer is a colorist. All of those roles require lots of work and learning.

MT: Anything that you would consider to be your favorite read right now? Any creators you think are worth watching? What types of comics do you find yourself gravitating towards as a reader and as a creator?
Right now, my favorite read is The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois, as it’s been an invaluable resource for writing my upcoming graphic novel, The Ren, which takes place during the Harlem Renaissance.

In the comics and graphic novel world, favorite read is probably Valiant Entertainment’s Harbinger, written by Joshua Dysart. I had grown tired of the superhero genre, but Joshua’s work on Harbinger is making me a believer again. I’m also enjoying Voltron, written by Brandon Thomas. He’s performed archaeology on a cartoon-based world and created an intriguing tale of military counter-espionage, intrigue, and romance.

I mostly buy creator-owned comics published by Image Comics. Saga, Thief of Thieves, and Bedlam, to name a few.
All of the above works and more were creative fuel for working on The Ren.

MT: The Ren is currently slated for a 2015 release. Would you care to share a bit about it and anything else that you have on the horizon?

JI: The Ren is the upcoming 200-page graphic novel I’m writing with Shawn Martinbrough, and it will be illustrated by Grey Williamson, artist for DC Comics and Valiant Entertainment. Set in New York City during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920's, two Black teenage artists fall in love and pursue their dreams of fame, amidst the dangerous war between two criminal empires.

I don’t want to say too much too soon, but if you’re a fan of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”, then The Ren will be your kind of book. It will be a graphic novel in the truest sense of the term; a full, meaty, character-driven story told in the illustrated sequential format.
The Ren will be published by First Second Books, a division of New York City-based publisher, Macmillan.

I have a few other projects on deck, but it’s too early to discuss them.

MT: Digital or Print? Which do you prefer and why?

JI: No preference. Both have their virtues, and the two should work hand-in-hand for maximum exposure and reach. I usually buy print. My first e-book purchase was Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.

What is interesting for me with graphic novels is the change of direction in format. Print used to be first, but now more projects are coming out digital first and print second. I think we’re going to see an expansion of that business model as a means to determine consumer-ship. For independent creators with a limited amount of capital, digital first may be a better option.
Provided the material is good, and they promote the site/comic for all it’s worth.

MT: We haven't touched on this yet, but what is your favorite part of the process of writing? Editing?

JI: For writing, my favorite part is that moment where you come up with The Idea. The one that solves a series of problems while, at the same time, serves to propel the character or characters forward in a way that makes sense. The “Ah. Gotcha.” moment.

As an editor, hmmm…there are so many good parts about collaborating with a talented and mature team of creators. I think it’s the moment where the person takes it to the next level. In their script, or pencils, or inks, or colors, or letters. When that creator ups the ante with their skills, and it’s apparent on the page. You know that creator is enjoying the project, and you’ve created a climate to allow that person to excel in their chosen craft.

MT: Given that we are observing the 20th anniversary of Milestone Comics and what it accomplished in the industry, what would you say is the reason we haven’t seen anyone else replicate that model? Why do you think there hasn’t been an organized/unified effort by people of color, LGBT creators and women (with moderate success in the indie scene) to unite together (all together under one banner, much like IMAGE) to become a force in the industry? What would it take for something like this to happen?

JI: I think the answer to all three questions is the same: MONEY, and fear of loss of independence.

Milestone was able to produce an impressive line of comic books and graphic novels for at least four years, in part due to their publishing deal with DC Comics. That was twenty years ago, and the industry does not have half the number of consumers as it did in 1993. Now, both Marvel and DC are heavily influenced by their corporate masters in terms of financial decisions, as they relate to the marketability of the fictional universes. I can’t see either company making such a co-publishing deal and diverting monies to promoting another company’s characters. So an investor or group of investors would be a necessary ingredient.

A bunch of creators of color and sexual orientation could all want to work together, but it would take a certain kind of company and authority structure to help facilitate such a business model. Creators, due to their increased opportunities and resources for putting out their own works, may not want to sacrifice any of that independent time to become part of such a business mechanism. 
Yes, you have Image Comics, but that’s basically an island on which a lot of houses reside. One house is called Saga, another house is called Revival, another one called Morning Glories, and so on.

Milestone was a shared universe created by a group of individuals, and they hired creators to perform work-for-hire duties. For creators to tumble to that, you would need money, lots of it, to start up and sustain such a company. A company that would have to compete with Valiant Entertainment, Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and so on.

So there are a handful of significant obstacles…but don’t give up hope. The next publisher to follow in the footsteps of Milestone may be right around the corner.

MT: Any advice, as an editor, for aspiring creators on how to break into the industry? How important is branding for creators?

JI: Put out your best work by yourself. The time of going to Marvel and DC hat in hand looking for work is dead. They are the gatekeepers, with the ability to cherry-pick the best and most marketable talent. So put your work out, get it published (or self-publish), promote, get a following and fan base, and inevitably, if your work is good, one of The Big Two will come to you.
Also, if you’re breaking into comics to make money, and you manage to succeed, make sure to start a retirement account. Immediately. There are no 401K accounts in the comic book industry unless you’re on staff.

Branding is very important for creators, but it has to be real. Honest. True. You and your story and your art are the brand. Fake can be smelled a mile and a half away, and the competition is fierce. If you do your job right, you won’t have to create the brand because it will be evident…but you will have to get the brand exposure. That will be the continuing mission. Get exposure. Increase exposure. Maintain exposure.

MT:Okay, I have to ask this. Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan?

JI: You’re joking, right? Bruce Lee! The Master.

Thank you Mr. Illidge! Fans, be sure to keep your eyes open for news on The Ren, due out in 2015 from First Second Books.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Industry Encounters

Check out another profile of a great indie creator that I had the opportunity to interview as my education on the creation process continues. Nicholas Da Silva sat down and shared a bit in this interview about his incredible series Dread & Alive over at Examiner So until the next episode, Enjoy!

Dread & Alive creator Nicholas Da Silva talks heroes and history (Photos)

Dread & Alive creator Nicholas Da Silva talks heroes and history. Nicholas Da Silva, award winning creator and writer of ZooLook Comics Dread & Alive took time out of a busy schedule (he recently had a presence at New York Comic Con with much fanfare) to share about what is in the works for the incredibly successful and ground breaking series. For those interested in learning more about the historical backdrop against which this series is set, be sure to check out This site is a goldmine of information on the Maroons and includes an active news section on what is happening in the community. As far as Dread & Alive, check out what Mr. Da Silva had to say about his title, music, the creative process, digital comics vs print and more. Enjoy!
(MT) Hello Nicholas, thank you for joining me, could you tell the readers who the creative team on Dread & Alive?

(NDS) In producing/publishing Dread & Alive as a comic book series, I work with two of the best comic book talents on this planet, Rodney Buchemi and Mike Kelleher. My main role is creator and writer of the series but I also work with Rodney Buchemi to create the storyboard/script for each page to be drawn. Rodney then handles the pencil and inks for
the series. He has a special gift of being able to create stunning pages that can stand alone as black and white or full color art. The final inks are then passed on to Mike Keheller who works his color magic. Rodney and I call him the God of Color. Once the pages are complete, I handle the lettering and then prep the files for print and digital production/distribution. (MT) Well, my compliments, you and your team produce a title that is sure to blow readers away. Can you share what the title is about for those who might not be familar (yet) with it?
(NDS) Dread & Alive is a multicultural fiction series that's a mix of action, adventure, fantasy, horror, mystery and thriller all wrapped up into one story. It's about the never-ending conflict between good and evil; in this case Myal and Obeah magic. It's also a story that meshes cultural fact with fiction. Inspired by the Maroons of Jamaica and the sounds of reggae music, the story of Dread & Alive centers around a precocious Jamaican boy named Drew McIntosh who at the age of seven journeys with his parents to the eerie Cockpit Country of Jamaica at the fervent requests of a great Maroon village chief named Cudjoe. Drew's father, Philip McIntosh, a direct descendant of the Maroons and a devout Rastafarian, has been summoned to investigate a series of unexplained deaths in the mountain village of Accompong. An anthropologist by trade, Philip is also skilled in herbal science. Drew's mother, Maria McIntosh, a Zoologist, has reluctantly agreed to the move and sees it as a way to explore the fauna of the Cockpit

As the McIntosh begin their work, Drew befriends the benevolent village chief and a bond is quickly formed between them. It isn't long before Drew earns Cudjoe's trust and eventually inherits a sacred amulet with untold powers, an amulet once owned by Cudjoe's brother, a
powerful Obeahman named Quaco who was banished from Accompong. By accepting the amulet, Drew's life is forever changed.

Drew soon discovers that the two brothers are not just Maroon men, but powerful spirits or Deities. Cudjoe, possessing the ability to heal mystically by hand as well as drive away evil spirits or duppies and Quaco, possessing the ability to steal a man's shadow (soul) and turn
the living into the walking dead. And when Drew learns that Quaco is plotting his return to power and will attempt to take back the amulet, he must now act as protector of the amulet under the guidance of Cudjoe and defend it from the nefarious Obeahman, a responsibility
that will ultimately bring tragedy to his family and plunged the dreadlocked Islander into a dark world of duppies (malevolent ghosts) and zombies.

(MT) Fascinating! You did an incredible job of using history as a backdrop to this incredible adventure. Now, What would you say is the importance of Dread & Alive and why did you feel the need to create it and what role does series serve in an educational capacity.

(NDS) When I was a kid, my dad would take me to the library to check out books to read which I found fascinating. To me, the library was not only a place where one could come to seek or gain knowledge but also where one could escape into a world of fantasy and fiction. At the time, I was into reading science fiction novels and comic books. The more I read, the more I discovered the lack of stories centered around African-based characters. I set out to create a series of my own, one that introduced a storyline mixing fiction with historical facts but
from an multicultural perspective. Once the dust had settled, Dread & Alive was born!
In writing Dread & Alive, my goal was to create a story that entertains while at the same time educates the reader about the characters in the story; in particular, the Maroons. Because of my
efforts, Dread & Alive has been used in a few college courses that explore mythology in Caribbean literature.

(MT) What are your feelings on digital comics VS print?

(NDS) I'm a fan of both digital and print comics. In publishing Dread & Alive, I want to be able to offer my fans a choice so I've elected to go both routes. My one concern with the digital side of comics is that not all of the available platforms provide some sort of protection (DRM) against piracy which can be detrimental to independent artists trying to earn a living from their work. Because of this and the fact that I am an Apple developer and a diehard Apple User (since 1990),I've elected to release my series only through Apple's App program and
iBooks platform.

(MT) With this project you’ve managed to build up some tremendous support in the music industry (those interested in some of the incredible music associated with this title can find four volumes of music. Volume 1 and 4 on iTunes, 2 and 3 on Kindah Vol. 1, Kindah Vol. 2:South America, Kindah Vol 3, Kindah Vol. 4, all available now. Musical artist interested in contributing music to this incredible project can reach out to Mr. Da Silva here.) Could you share the names of some of the contributing artist and what role the music plays in the series?

(NDS) In publishing Dread & Alive in comic book and novel format, I like to release a soundtrack with every issue. To date, I've had the opportunity to feature music by reggae artists like Anthony B., Lutan Fyah, SOJA, Freddy Locks, Tasha Rozez and Wio K, Buju Banton, Beenie Man, Taddy P, Cocoa Tea and Bunny Rugs to name a few. I've also had the honor to include the works of the dub poet, Mutabaruka. For the release of Dread & Alive #0, I will be working with Bunny Wailer to offer two tracks to go with the release of the comic.

(MT) Dread & Alive possess a level of quality that sets a standard that even some of the bigger publishing companies fall short of. How important do you think it is that independent publishers equate the quality of their finished product to being representative of their

(NDS) It's very important! As an independent publisher, I will not release a title unless I feel that I've put my best work into it and that means in the writing, in the artwork and in the presentation of the story as a comic book. Fans can tell whether or not a story has been well
thought out or if the story or artwork has been rushed just to get something out to the markets.

(MT) Artistically, you are a jack of all trades. What part of the process do you enjoy the most?

(NDS) I really enjoy the conceptual process. There's something about taking an idea, crazy as it may seem, and developing it into a reality. With me, every new idea brings a different creative experience, whether it's sketching a new character, writing a short story for a new series
or composing a rough track for a song.

(MT) What is on the horizon for Zoolook Comics and the Dread & Alive series.

(NDS) I'm currently writing the last of the three books that make up the story of Dread & Alive; Book Two. It follows Drew's life in San Francisco as a teenager trying to fit in and his journey back to Jamaica to fulfill his destiny. I plan to release the three books as a special package entitled, Dread & Alive: A Hero's Journey. The scheduled release date is April 20, 2013. I'll also be working on the graphic novel versions for each book with the first graphic novel tentatively scheduled to release on August 6, 2013. Next month, (Nov15, 2012), I'll begin work on the official soundtrack for the Dread & Alive series, a music project which will be kind of a Roots Reggae Rock Opera. I plan to invite artists to collaborate on this unique music project.

(MT) Here's wishing you and your endeavors much success, we will be sure to check all of it out...and thank you so much Mr. Da Silva for your time and sharing. Before we go, do you have any advice for aspiring creators who feel discouraged in a market place that seems more likely to rehash old concepts than take a chance on fresh new ideas?

(NDS) Don't get discouraged and don't give up on your dreams. If you have an original story to tell, go for it!! Take the independent route!! I promise you, it will be rewarding. I recommend learning the business side of comic books. That includes production, publishing, marketing
and funding (crowdfunding). And take advantage of the social tools that can help push your series to the masses. If you do this, you will start to build a dedicated fan base that will follow you and your work and most importantly, buy directly from you. Being independent is
a beautiful thing… you just have to work at it.
Just Tink Diffran Mon!
The Dread & Alive series can be found on the offical website (check it out, the site is packed chock full of ancillary content that helps pull readers into this wonderful story). Be sure to check out this fantastic tale of a Bay Area superhero that unfolds against a historical backdrop. You will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

To Be Or Not To Be.....

That is always the question when undertaking a creative endeavor that you attempt to build from the ground up (with no funding to boot). After a year of gaining momentum, things have tailed off a bit, but many lessons learned and Sea Wulfe is one step closer to becoming a produced and printed reality. The search for an artistic team to bring the script to life continues, but I wanted to get back to the blog to share with readers a few encounters that I experienced over the course of the past months. During the time spent between a full time job, working on the comic and free lance reporting for, I have had the opportunity to meet some incredibly talented creators. During these meetings I have interviewed some of them and learned a great deal about the creative process, what it takes to breathe life into your dreams and simply been inspired by the sheer force of will to get it done that has made these individuals successful. I will be sharing some of the interviews, originally posted for, from some truly talented indie creators who have inspired me and shown me how important it is to remain true to seeing the stories in my head and heart come to life. So, with that said, sit back relax and check out this interview with Daniel Cooney, creator of the Valentine series and Atomic Yeti:

Daniel Cooney: Man of Many Tales. This is a header Mr. Cooney should consider for his business card, just so those he passes it out to know deep the waters run with this prolific creator. In previous articles Mr. Cooney's work has been reviewed and recently he has taken time out of his packed schedule to talk with a bit about his latest work Atomic Yeti #1, the Valentine series , his creative process and what's on the horizon. Enjoy!

MT: Atomic Yeti seems to echo with shades of the Eerie and Creepy comics of old in terms of art, panel layout and story style. Was this a conscious decision or happy coincident. What influenced this properties creation?

DC: It was a conscious decision inspired by the Eerie and Creepy comics both in layout and in tone for the story. Artist Jeff Himes had already illustrated a crime fiction story in a similar layout and thought he’d be a perfect fit for drawing The Atomic Yeti book.
The inspiration for The Atomic Yeti was based on the true story of The Dyatlov Pass incident resulted in the deaths of nine ski hikers in the northern Ural mountains on the night of February 2, 1959. As I read on, I became engrossed in the mystery of their deaths and was compelled to develop a story from this, marrying fact with fiction obviously throwing in a bit of science fiction and supernatural elements. The premise behind The Atomic Yeti is what if the Russians had their own "Philadelphia Experiment" during the cold war and a post 9-11 discredited journalist tries to uncover the truth with the help of a man claiming to be a part of it.
MT: Is Atomic Yeti an ongoing series, limited series? How often should we expect to see the title hit shelves (monthly/quarterly)?

DC: The story is one complete graphic novel, self-contained with an introductory “teaser” issue released at Comic-Con International. We’ll be launching a Kickstarter project to help fund the book due out in 2013.

MT: The quality of Atomic Yeti possesses a level of crafting that reflects a true love of the medium. Have you and the team that pulled this one together worked together before?

DC: I was first introduced to Jeff’s amazing work as my student for a graphic novel MFA class I was teaching a couple of years ago for The Academy of Art University in San Francisco, CA. I was still in the developmental stages of the story, but immediately thought Jeff has some serious talent that will take him far in the industry. Once Jeff became available, he knocked out act one of the story and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the results.

MT: Aside from Atomic Yeti, can we expect to see this creative teamwork together again?

DC: We’ve discussed working on a few other projects that I have in mind that would fit his narrative style well that we’ll revisit one day, for now, we’re both focused on completing a compelling tale that we look forward to sharing with readers.

MT: Would you consider Atomic Yeti to be a horror story or is it more of a genre bender?

DC: I’d like to think it has moments of horror that may turn your stomach, but at its cold dark heart is a tale of suspense and enough drama between the characters to engulf the reader with a bit of dark humor for good measure.

MT: Being an incredibly talented creator, you are capable of participating in many facets of your titles creation. Which part of the process would you say you enjoy the most (writing, pencils, etc)?

DC: Thank you, you’re too kind. I’ve been doing this for over 15 years now and feel like I have so much to learn as both a writer and artist to be a good storyteller. I think for me, both go hand in hand; writing and drawing a story. My approach with an idea for starting a story is immediately ask myself, “how does it end?” As well as asking if I care enough about the characters to make this a commitment now. For The Atomic Yeti, I wrote the script with certain visuals in mind, but I wanted Jeff to have some creative freedom with the page layouts from the script. This approach was a big change for me as I’m used to doing both the writing and art chores like I do on my crime fiction series Valentine. When I’m writing, I’m thinking about the images. When I’m drawing, I’m thinking about the dialogue. Jeff nailed it with the script he was given and inspired me to re-write some scenes to build on what he presented in the pages for Yeti.

MT: Atomic Yeti is being released in print as well as being available digitally on ComiXology. What are your thoughts on what this option means in terms of independent creators and how they can reach markets that they might not normally have access to?

DC: Digital comics can reach anyone at anytime and that wasn’t always how things used to be a few years ago. The traditional distribution method was restricted to the direct market (comic book retailers) and the non-direct market (bookstores and libraries). The use of portable devices like image tablets and reading hardware like Kindle and the iPad enable a reader to search for a book, buy it and download it. Instant gratification. In addition to Comixology, there is iVerse and Drive-Thru comics that carry my books as well as new platforms that are being developed for comics creators to share their work with readers because new technology eliminates the middle-man of distribution and cost to the creator. It’s not perfect and not as ideal as some creators want it to be, but developments seem to be presenting themselves to creators for new opportunities to self-publish just about every week – it’s a great time to solicit creator-owned work.
New avenues reaching readers such as Kickstarter, a crowd funding website for creators, enables a direct to reader distribution method. It’s a game changer and it’s the wild wild west with digital publishing and print-on-demand with creators. I’m excited on how things are changing to benefit creator-owned books with this ever-changing technology, social media and websites like Kickstarter as providing for comics and graphic novels. Costs are coming down from print-on-demand and the quality has improved comparable to what’s being published by established companies like Marvel, DC Comics and Image.

MT: Valentine: Prelude To A Kill is a bit of a departure from the format that your dynamic character Valentine normally appears in. What made you decide to take the approach of doing something that resembles more of a traditional novel?

DC: I wanted to branch out into the prose book world and see how a Valentine novel would fair beyond the comics world I’ve been accustomed to. I’ve always loved reading pulp paperback books and it feels like I’ve come full circle since I began in the mid-nineties. It was a Modesty Blaise paperback novel that was partially responsible for inspiring the Valentine comic series. The cover illustration by Robert McGinnis and the writing of Peter O'Donnell gave me the itch I needed to scratch to say “This is something I want to do for a living.” It goes without saying that reading comics growing up was inspiration to want to be a part of that world of producing my own stories, but it was the discipline of art school to help me realize what tools are needed to do this professionally as an artist, a writer, and a business man responsible for what I care about, telling stories.

MT: In what way did this experience differ from that of working on the comics/graphic novels?

DC: Unlike comic scripts, I have to provide the visuals, all the emotion through words as well as being responsible for every aspect of storytelling. Writing a novel like this has more words, over 72,000 and typically more pages, 280 as opposed to a single issue comic book script.
I owe much of the development for the novel from the mentoring of literary agent, Kirby Kim of William Morris and Endeavor Entertainment and veteran novelist, Noel Hynd (Ghosts, The Russian Trilogy). Both offered plenty of advice and hand holding as I made my way through my inaugural first attempt writing a prose story. I pitched the original outline intended to be my next graphic novel about the assassin’s origin to Kirby and he suggested doing it first as a prose novel. I was reluctant, but with guidance from Kirby and Noel on board developing the story, I sensed we had something special being created here to share with readers. I felt privileged to be part of this storytelling process. There were a few bumps along the way like with any project you commit to, but at the end of the day, the property is yours to produce. You need to make the necessary decisions that reflect the work that has been published in the past and yet, still strive to build to make it better for the fiction book audience, while remaining true to the original material.

MT: I noticed the great quote from work by Dashiell Hammett, would you say that this is an study in Hardboiled story telling?

DC: Absolutely, the settings range from derelict to exotic with a mix of sophisticated and crude, rough around the edges characters. It’s a story where the protagonist is always in trouble and not always deserving of it with tough, colloquial dialogue and plenty of action and gritty atmosphere.

MT: How did you pair with Noel Hynd to craft this origin story for your character Valentine and why a novel as opposed to a story that utilized sequential art (as we are used to seeing this character featured in)?

DC: Noel and I share the same literary agent, Kirby Kim, who introduced us to one another before committing to the project. Kirby wanted to pair me up with a veteran novelist for my first foray into writing prose work and Noel was a good fit for the book based on his experience with strong female characters featured in his stories. I think part of the decision to produce a novel is my desire to work more as a writer, particularly as I get older and cannot produce comics and graphic novels as fast I used to when I was younger. My body just cannot sit at a drawing table with the same intensity it once had 15 – 18 hours a day drawing comics, whereas writing on a laptop I can be more relaxed and sitting in a reclined position completing far more work hammering the keys to finish a story (unlike drawing a page to a page in half a day). Drawing is my first love to storytelling, without a doubt, but developing my skills as a writer is where I see my contribution to stories as my skill sets as an artist decline with age. Obviously, I’d like to think my artwork hasn’t peaked yet and I still strive to produce the best work I can, the passion is still there, I just have to work smarter and not harder at it to sustain longevity as a storyteller. I can hammer out finished stories faster as a writer than as an artist, which can take up to two years to complete.

MT: Valentine is a strong, capable, and engaging character. How do you craft a woman character that stands out so prominently in an industry notorious for, at times, not investing the depth into female images that are merited?

DC: It’s all about the character, the character is the story. I find when reading or watching a film, if I do not care about the main character(s), I lose interest. It’s the same approach I have with writing, it’s a commitment to care about the characters you write about and what happens to them during the story, because they are the story. I’m aware what the readership of comics has been in the past, but how much it has changed since I started. I don’t write with the reader in mind, what’s the point? To me that’s pandering, I write for what I enjoy about the characters and what I see them get involved with as if they’re real people in sometimes extraordinary circumstances. If a reader likes what I write and draw, great, I made a connection to that reader. However, you’re going to have folks who do not care at all for what I’ve written and that’s okay. Writing and drawing comics is still fun for me and that’s an important part of the process.

MT: Any possibility of this being just the first shot fired in a salvo of Valentine centered novels?

DC: I’d like to see how this novel does first before going forward with the next one, that I can promise you, Mark. Let’s just say there’s a lot of story left to tell between how she started and where she currently is in the comic books.

MT: Anything else big on the horizon for you?

DC: The Complete Guide To Figure Drawing For Comics and Graphic Novels published by Barron's. This is the follow-up book to Writing and Illustrating the Graphic Novel that came out a couple of years ago. I'm pleased how the latest book came out and the editorial team was everything you could ask for in helping me assemble it.

If you want to draw for comic books or graphic novels, this book is the definitive guide to getting your figure drawing absolutely right that works for you as you develop your drawing skills. The book helps aspiring comic artists as well as all skill levels with an understanding and application in drawing the human form. You'll also learn how to pose and photograph models, and then use those photos as reference for your finished drawings. The book is comprised from my lectures and workshops while teaching at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco as well as what I learned from my instructors at SVA and my peers. The book in principle is suitable for all skill levels to learn the foundations of the human figure and apply what works for them as their style develops. Another aspect important to the book's contents was how the figure is drawn for comics and graphic novels; it covers essential elements related to making sequential art, including concept and composition, characters and backgrounds, facial expressions, emotions, atmosphere and action.

There's even a preview of The Atomic Yeti with commentary by me on its development with artist Jeff Himes. The book is now available for pre-order on Amazon or available in your local bookstore or library in September. If they don't have it, ask them to order it!

Thanks for sharing Daniel. Keep up with Daniel Cooney's work and developments on his website as well as pick up his latest works. You will not be disappointed.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

It Sets Sail In Our Slumber

So here we are post Con and still soaking it all in. Some great developments occurring and I met some incredible creators. I will definitely have to do my best to make the event next year as well. This one is short and sweet, but to leave you with a little bit of an idea of where things are with Sea Wulfe (by the incredibly talented Tanna Tucker), here is the cover for issue #0. For those who haven't visited our FB page, be sure to stop by and say hello....maybe become a fan. We are working on developing a few contest if we can get our fanbase to grow a little more. Any thoughts? Til' the next episode, stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

On The Road Again.....

Its warm outside and I can't help but think of what the weather is like in San Diego right now. In less than 24 hrs I'll be on my way to attend my first SDCC (or "KHAAAAAANNNNNHHHHHH!" as many convention goers like to refer to it) There will be meetings, networking, interviews (of other creators for my articles) and sharing the incredible art that Tanna Tucker has produced thus far for Sea Wulfe. The intention of these efforts will be to find a way to bring you, dear reader, the magic that has been brewing behind the scenes on the title as it has grown over the months. Keep your eyes peeled for developments and if you aren't a fan yet, join us over on FB. If all goes as planned we hope to launch a deeper experience on the website . Stay Tuned, the Saga Continues.....