Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I SAW IT ON TV: Reality round-up

One of the perks of having a small TV in my office now, is I can have it on while I work, so consequently I've been seeing more reality fare.

THERE AND BACK - MTV - This one has surprised me, it's actually been a decent watch. Of course that it deals with a young man's struggle to balance real life (domestic/financial) and an upstart personal creative endeavor is naturally something I can connect with, but Ashley Parker Angel comes of as genuine even in the face of what must be some staged (or at least production driven) situations. Not bad.

GAUNTLET 2 (REAL WORLD/ROAD RULES) - MTV - This season of the MTV reality show stars head-to-head money grab has been better. Mostly because they finally got rid of some of the "regualars" who'd become infinitely annoying. This week's epsisode exposes the main flaw of the season, when Beth declined to compete in a heated "beach brawl". Clearly the host (and production) frown on this behavior, but it's happened time and again, where contestants simply bow out instead of throw down in the gauntlet. And this after MTV promted the heck out of the cast's growing disdain for Beth. Let down.

FLAVOR OF LOVE - VH1 - I don't generally put this on, even when flipping around for something, but have caught some of this hoochy momma Flavor Flave version of The Bachelor. Basically, the casting is such that most if not all of the girls are questionable, and the last episode, it really pays off with a face spitting and hair-grabbin camera-bustin cat fight...

AMERICAN IDOL - FOX - Yes, I'll admit, I've watched most of this season. It started off, as I said earlier, just putting something on in the office for background, but this season seems to really have some good/interesting talent (which seemed lacking since season 2, the last time I watched) and I now, embarassingly, look forward to it. Curse you Idol!!! That one dude with the chin-strap is pretty good...

SURVIVOR - CBS - Never miss it. This season "Exile Island" has been pretty good. Hasn't stood out yet. Always with new wrinkles though in format to keep things fresh. And where else can you find a woman afraid of leaves, and an obnoxious dude quitting 2 packs a day cold turkey island style?

REAL WORLD - MTV - This one starts tonight. I'd likely give up completely on this if not for the "office tv" factor, but this cast looks like they could be interesting. If not, there's 3 hurricanes pointed at them over the course of the season, so there's that...

IN CASE U MISSED IT: Speakeasy and the industry

A great summary of the Speakeasy situation over at Buzzscope.com, taken from Guy LeCharles Gonzalez article on the publisher's closure:

When Atomika #1 hit the stands and Speakeasy was officially born, almost a year ago to the day, Countdown to Infinite Crisis was still four weeks away, and House of M was just being teased. One year later, the direct market has been dramatically transformed as the return of the corporate mega-crossover has eaten up market share and retailers' budgets, and independent comics have taken a hard hit as order numbers have dropped across the board, with few exceptions. Even Marvel and DC's mid-list titles that weren't fortunate enough to be tied in to the big crossovers have suffered. In some cases, it's been a deathblow.

Much like the creation of the Direct Market back in the early 80s was the beginning of the end for young readers as comics became progressively harder to find, today its continued retraction, focusing primarily on fans of long-established superheroes and licenses, is to the detriment of the kind of variety publishers like Speakeasy have admirably attempted to offer. Any independent publisher with an aggressive plan for growth that's relying solely on the Direct Market for its survival these days is doomed to failure, and to having that failure hammered mercilessly. Too many independent publishers have no clue who their audience is, or how to reach them, so instead, they continue to target that narrow 5-10% slice of the Direct Market that's willing to take a chance on an independent publisher and hope they can somehow stand in the sea of titles that populate the back pages of Previews every month.

And every time a CrossGen, Dreamwave or Speakeasy comes along with a bold plan that fails, it makes it that much harder for the publishers who are left behind as retailers justifiably become less and less willing to take chances on non-returnable inventory. While Speakeasy's failure can primarily be laid at Fortier's feet, the old "buck stops here" maxim in effect, it is but a symptom of a larger and steadily growing illness in the comics industry.

The times are a'changing, and it's only going to get tougher out there. The publishers who find a way to break out of the superhero-driven direct market, to carve their own niches out of the much larger audience of general readers who never step foot into a comic book shop are the ones who will survive. For the rest of them, fighting over Marvel and DC's leftovers, it's only going to get uglier.
As a self-publisher in today's market, I can attest to just how brutal things are. Super Real started off with relatively strong numbers, but is seeing the requisite drop off from the debut issue, it's now in a seriously tenuous state, where it must bridge that gap and start building on the positive critical buzz, and realize the potential the series is built for. Fortunately, everything about the book is designed to appeal to today's direct market, whether they know it or not (and also coincidently, these are the elements I'm passionate about working with). It's just a matter of continuing to communicate that to the market. Which is, regrettably, my main focus.

All of the creative work I can muster would be for not, without an intense, time consuming, and never-ending focus on promotion. It's just a fact of the market right now, but it's a challenge I'm well aware of, and totally committed to. Speakeasy's demise is bad for the industry, but it's also good for those independent publishers left standing. So hopefully some good can come of it.

The key, as I focus TSL, and indeed Super Real, is taking an active part in maintaining the diversity that the US comic industry affords. It's on all of us to do our part to keep diversity part of the industry, and not let it slip away.

SUPER REAL NOTES - This one I'll tell...

This is a little piece, a pin-up I commissioned a while back from Dave Alvarez, creator of the webcomic (and briefly an Alias comic at least) Yenny. Dave is/was an animator, and I just love that animated style...


He did the full piece, lines and color, but I did some color correcting to get it more into line with the book.

You can check out his stuff HERE

The Jim Mahfood cover is still a couple weeks out. Just checked in with Jim, he's a busy busy man. Can't wait!

I also have a couple other mystery covers in the works, 1) is from a friend, that's been a long time in the works, he's finally out from under deadlines and I previewed the "color rough" here the other day 2) is a nasty new artist for Marvel that hopefully can work it into his schedule in the coming weeks and months...

Well, finally got confirmation on the Hong Kong ship date, and it's not good. Books left a week behind schedule, and the US dock date somehow slipped a full 10 days. This puts it into the distribution pipeline a lot closer to the end of the month of March as opposed to the middle.
Sorry folks.
No one is more upset with this fact than yours truly. It's just supremely frustrating to know it was done, printed, and advance copies in hand on 2/14, but I can't get it stateside for a whole month more. The downside to printing overseas. I accept full blame though, cause I took too long to get it finished up in the first place (darn seasonal job from-hell!).
It should still hit within the magic 30 day window from original solicit that Diamond requires before it's officially late.
I REALLY hate that the books even late at all, let alone just under the wire in terms of policy. Makes me really wish I hadn't solicited number three when I did, so I could ensure this didn't happen again. An 8 week turnaround from the printer really bites, I was hoping it'd be closer to 6 weeks, but that's the reality of printing overseas. If I wasn't so hung up on color, black and white would be better for the book in so many ways. Any thoughts on that? (At this point, it's the only way to get the book printed domestically, and it would be much more cost effective too.) I'm seriously considering it... (Well either that, or charging $5 an issue for color!)
It's a tough balancing act, keeping a decent schedule in the face of all the responsibilities. I'm learning. Please bear with me.
I'll just bust my hump double-time on number three...
back to the drawing table for me!

In the meantime can't wait to get issue two on the racks and get everyone's response. That's still really exciting, and coming soon! So hang in there!!
Hopefully I'll still be able to debut it at Wizard World LA on 3/17!!!!

As always, STAY TUNED,

Sunday, February 26, 2006

DeviantArt update

Here we have one I posted a few days back and forgot to put up here...

Page 3 from issue 3

Uh, lotsa boobs on this page hunh?
...but it's all for the story folks, enjoy it while you can.
Actually this issue will have the cast sportin their nano-skin suits for the first time, so you can expect all of them to be decked out in their rubber nano jumpsuits from here out.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

SUPER REAL NOTES - Fun with collation!

Check this out!

At a printing press somewhere in Hong Kong, this photo was taken, as proof that issue two of Super Real is indeed collated in a 1 to 4 ratio. That's one Edward Pun variant to every three standard covers by me.
So why the photo?
And why do I care?
Cuz issue one had two covers that were supposed to be collated by the printer in a 50/50 ratio, but there was a misunderstanding and they simply packed one stack of each cover in each carton. Since Diamond requires collation is taken care of prior to delivery, that meant I had to hand collate all the copies myself. Opening each carton and arranging the covers in an even ratio throughout (then placing them back, and repeating). A rather daunting task, and one I wouldn't like to repeat!
So, the printer, going the extra mile to make things right, offered to send pictures of the collation this time round.

That's the good news.
The bad news, I still don't have confirmation that the books have actually left Hong Kong yet, which was supposed to have happened on 2/20.
Hopefully everything's fine there, because the books are already behind schedule as it is.


IN CASE U MISSED IT: DotD deus previewed...

Buzzscope's got the latest round of Marvel advance look books up, and I spied this little ditty.

Daughters of the Dragon 1 was a killer book, so I'm really looking forward to the rest of the series. And keen TSL observers will know there's even more behind my enthusiasm here...

Those Khari Evans pencils are lookin nice!

Jump on over HERE to see the preview.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

SUPER REAL NOTES - Previews today!

SUPER REAL issue 3 is solicited in the March Previews Catalog in stores today, Wednesday February 22nd, in the Comics & Graphic Novels section, page 321.

Make sure and get those pre-orders in via Diamond Order Code MAR06 3379!!

For full solicit info please see the NEWS section of the website proper!


Look, I'm not a comics reviewer, I'm not going to break down books via some structured formula or what not, and I don't have time to sit around and write crafted responses to them, but I can tell you if I liked them or not... or rather if I recommend them, or not!

BATMAN YEAR 100 #1 - Paul freaking Pope people! Aside from that, this was just great.



THE NEW AVENGERS #16 - McNiven leaves me cold, he's good, but his faces are funny to me mostly...

NEW MANGAVERSE: Rings of Fate #2 - Unfortunately, this is only for the die-hards... Tommy Ohtsuka's artwork, while tasty, could use some more refinement (different inking perhaps).


SUPERMARKET #1 - I heart Wood.


X-STATIX PRESENTS: DEAD GIRL #2 - What a fun romp, and more of the old team appear...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


There’s a crisis going on in comic shops across America, and indeed the world, the big two publishers are releasing infinite spin-offs, crossovers, and variant covers to squeeze every last hard-earned dollar out of the existing fanbase. It’s up to people like me, in our tireless crusade to bring you something different, something independent, something good. This is a list of such items.
Read on, explore, and enjoy…

Folks, it's a light week, what can I say.

Previews - make sure you pick up this catalog every month, not just the months that Super Real is solicited (like the March copy in shops tommorrow)! Pre-order!!

ALIAS - Lullaby Wisdom Seeker TPB - This is a re-offer, I believe of the first run. I recently got around to this and really enjoyed it. (and Hector Sevilla, artist/co-creator, is a Super Real variant cover artist!)

IMAGE - Freshman #6 - I picked up the first few issues, but haven't read them yet. I have heard good things about this one though, so it's worth a look (and I think this is the last issue).

IMAGE - Portent #1 - I didn't sign up for this, but I've seen some solid previews, and may pick one up if it's on the rack (anyone wanna lay odds on that?).

TOKYOPOP - Battle Club Vol.1 - From the same creator as Battle Vixens, a shirt ripping, boob bouncing, fight manga. It is over the top T&A, but it's also a fun read with some amazing art, and plenty of bone crunching throw-downs, so I'd expect nothing less of this series.

Monday, February 20, 2006


A little birdy tol me volume 2 of the massive manga that is MBQ is all finished up, and even pointed out this pic of the final cover...

If you haven't checked out this book yet, do yourself a favor and give it a look.

IN CASE U MISSED IT: Wondercon Video

G4TV's Attack of the Show is television at it's finest for the tech/geek, and better yet, they feature comics once a week in their Fresh Ink segment (still haven't gotten Super Real on there yet!).

The resident AOTS comic guru, Blair Butler, was at Wondercon and you can link to her video from the floor HERE (but alas, again, no love for Super Real to be found... we will woo her yet)

You can also grab her reviews weekly from that link if you're without the digital cable packaging required for television viewing at home.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

IN CASE U MISSED IT: New Challenges In Self-Publishing

Hey all,

Comicon.com/pulse recently posted my panel report from WonderCon!

It's notes from the New Challenges in Self-Publishing panel featuring five prominent self-pubbers discussing the keys to their success, both starting out, and more importantly, in today's volatile direct market!

Go ahead and check that out if you have any interest in publishing, or enjoy a peek behind the curtain of our beloved industry! And be sure and leave some comments!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Super Real Variant contest!!

Hello TSL readers!

Here's the first ever Super Real contest, anyone who reads this fabulous blog can participate!

Up for grabs? How bout an advanced autographed copy of the second issue exclusive variant (the 1 in 10 website exclusive pictured on the left)?
That's right, you can get your hands on the second issue weeks before it hits shops, and it's even the limited exclusive cover version!

What's the catch? Well, you need to guess our next two variant cover artists!
We've got the super cool Josh Howard on issue 1.
Edward Pun contributed an awesome pic of Kityana for issue 2 that will hit shops next month in a 1 in 4 ratio...
and issue 3 will be solicited in the Previews catalog out next week, a fabulous piece by Lullaby's Hector Sevilla!

But what you may not know, is some of the fantastic, jaw dropping, amazing, perfect-for-the-book artists I've got lined up after that!!!

It's a bit early to spill the beans, but I'm so excited, I thought I'd see if anyone could guess who it is.
We'll start off with some harder clues and go from there.
Basically the first person to guess the two future cover artists correctly, scores the swell signed swag mentioned above! Just post your guesses right here as comments (anyone can post comments), and I'll let ya know if you're the winna!

Oh, what's that? The clues?
Okay, like I said, harder at first, and I'll help out if need be...

Artist #1, clue #1 - This artist was recently featured on TV, G4TV to be exact, oh say about 3 weeks ago...
Artist #2, clue #1 - This artist's clue can be found in the Wondercon wrap up report in TSL a couple days back, where I make mention of artist alley...

So there ya go! Fun. My first contest!!
Now kids, keep in mind, these aren't gonna be super-mega-star artists like oh say Joe Mad, or J Campbell, but they are people ya know, or have heard of, and I think really kick ass! So let's hear it!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Self-Publishing Challenges Wondercon Panel hand-out

Here is the hand out received at the self-publishing panel from last weekend's Wondercon.

Click each page to see full size...
It starts out a bit basic, but moves on to some good info for one just starting out...

IN CASE U MISSED IT: Wondercon photos

Over on CBR.com they've got a great photo parade from the con (Jonah always gets some good shots, with fun commentary, but alas, he did not capture Super Real!).
Just click HERE

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Just added a couple new resources to the links list...

First, a new print on demand (POD) service I read about on Brant Fowler's ComicAvalanche.com column, KA-BLAM.com. Looks like their pricing is virtually the same as ComiXpress.com, so I'm not sure how that's too exciting, except that there's now more options for POD comic book services. Wish they would've had better pricing though.

Second, Warren Ellis' TheEngine.com
It's a wealth of knowledge from industry insiders. Meant to link this a while back...


Okay, so just wrapping up from Wondercon, the big San Francisco con hosted by the folks who do San Diego, Comicon International. It was my first time at this event, and man was I impressed. Though it was much smaller than San Diego, they had some solid guests, a decent exhibition floor (up there with the bigger cons I've seen outside of San Diego), and quite an array of local events that tied in with the show in the evenings. To top it off, the weather was unseasonably warm, high 60's to high 70's!

We rode the trolleys, cruised the wharf, shopped, hit the Golden Gate, curved down Lombard, but most of it was like the speed metal version of SF tourism, cuz we only had one day off to take it all in...

We missed out on two smashing parties at the Isotope, the Frank Miller hosted screening of Sin City and after party, the V for Vendetta sneak preview, and the Chinese New Years parade to name a few!

Met lots of great fans, it's neat to have a space with a book out in shops for the first time, and actually get people who've already read and enjoyed the book! Not to mention meeting and converting new fans!

Networking is always key to the cons, and I saw many publishing friends and got to talk shop, meet new great folks like our neighbors Illusive Arts Entertainment (publishers of the very impressive Dorothy), and many more. It's so much fun to peek at aspiring artists portfolios and sketchbooks, and cruise artist alley and see what the pros are up to. I tried to snag a moment from J Scott Campbell at the DC booth, but he had a good sized line and I my wife wasn't around to watch the booth at the time... drats! Didn't realize he was going to be there or I would've planned that one better. However, I did meet one artist I was looking to track down, a certain newcomer with a recent impressive debut over at Marvel, so hopefully something will work out there for maybe a Super Real cover... this guy is perfect for the book folks, and sure to be a rising star!

The 06 sketchbooks came in on time, and they were a hit at the show, with a good percentage of the run of 50 already gone, looks like I may need a new volume before con season is up...

I also attended a panel on self publishing, and hopefully I'll get those notes sent out to ComicCon.com/thepulse soon and will cross link that here for those interested.

I highly recommend this show to anyone in the area, or who can afford to travel to the bay area. It's great! And getting better every year...

UPS stopped by the house yesterday AM and dropped off the advance copies overnighted from the printer in China. The books are printed, and will be hitting the pacific any day now. This leaves the in store date for issue two at either 3/15 or 3/22. A couple weeks late, but the book looks great.

I'll be sending some of the copies out for review shortly, to time with the release!

Portland Comic Book Show 3/5 - Think I'm a guest at this one, and I may be able to debut issue two here, but it will most likely not be available til the following week...
Wizard World LA 3/17-3/19 - Still trying to get confirmation from them regarding my space here... stay tuned.
Emerald City Comicon 4/1-4/2 - Edward Pun, our issue two variant artist/interviewee, will be at the show too (along with a metric TON of guests), so perhaps he'll hang out a moment or two at the booth... but if you're there, it's your chance to get his signature and peep his cool swag!
Eugene Comic Book Show 5/21 - I will be a guest at this show.

We got one!!

As you may or may not know, today at 9AM PST the hotels for this July's big con became available at the con rates, and it took both my wife and I calling and plugging away online to secure the room we wanted before they all booked up within minutes of opening the availability.

We managed to score the Embassy Suites a few blocks down the road. I was tempted to do the Hilton again this year, as we did it last year, and it's about as close as you can get, but Embassy Suites offer complimentery made-to-order breakfast, and Hilton offers nada in the AM food department. So, ya know, at the same price, I'll walk a few blocks for a free meal every day (and not that complimentary day-old danish and muffin crap we had in San Francisco!).

Anyway, I had the reservations all set on our home pc when pop up blocker wiped out the whole shebang upon clicking to enter credit info... luckily my wife was mirroring everything at her work and we were able to book on her pc, because when I went back to re-enter the info myself, the rooms were gone...


Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Crisis in Infinite Shops is a new weekly feature where I highlight a selection of books from each week's shipping list that deserve more attention, but may be eclipsed by the current mega-crossover-stunt-marketing-blitz of from the "big two"!

Supermarket #1 Brian Wood's on a hot streak with books like DMZ and LOCAL, Supermarket may even be more fun!
Bomb Queen #1 Over the top and lovin' it, at least that's how it appears, haven't read it yet...
Girls #10
Invincible #28
Strange Girl #6
Middleman Vol2 #1

Because I care...

Saturday, February 11, 2006

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Cool stuff...

I'm mid con, and I don't have time to write about that yet (gotta head down Powell street about 10 blocks to the Moscone Center stat), but I did see a couple cool cats featured on the web today...

Brandon Graham - awesome artist with a unique underground style, with MAD creativity... has a TPop manga in the works that got the write up on Newsarama.com HERE

Josh Howard - Indy super sensation, did a cover for Super Real, has an interview over on ComicsReview.com HERE

Might try and pick up a pass to the V for Vendetta screening this PM, but I also wanted to make it to the Isotope...
Then there's the Frank Miller hosted Sin City Screening tomorrow night....
Good stuff!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Super Real 2006 WEST COAST TOUR - stop #1

February 10-12
San Francisco CA
Moscone Convention Center West

We're hitting I5 south for a 10 hour tour to the Bay City and the first big con of the year!
The 2006 convention sketchbooks are supposed to meet us at the hotel tomorrow via UPS 3day, but the printer hasn't confirmed with tracking info, so you never know.
We will have all 3 covers of issue 1, and a full preview mock-up of issue 2 (due in shops mid March).

I'll try and blog updates about the show, but may have to wait until our return...
See you there!

2006 WEST COAST TOUR (full schedule)

San Francisco CA 2/10-2/12 WONDERCON
Los Angeles CA 3/17-3/19 WIZARD WORLD LA

Saturday, February 04, 2006

COMICS REVIEW: Scott Pilgrim VS The World

Knives Chau attacks!
Romona Flowers battles for her man!
Scott defeats the second of seven evil ex-boyfriends!
Plus cooking instructions, song lyrics, and an ever expanding web of love!

Scott Pilgrim Volume 2: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World has all that and the trademark quirk, humor, and emotional kick creator Bryan Lee O'Malley brought in spades to the first volume.

If you're not reading Scott Pilgrim, what the hell is wrong with you!?

Now, where is volume 3?
That hasn't come out yet right...


I'm really looking forward to the ULTIMATE AVENGERS DVD movie due out February 21st.

Hopefully it follows THE ULTIMATES as close as it looks, not just because I love THE ULTIMATES, but I really think that is exactly what the industry needs, cartoons that are in direct synergy with the source material, just like manga and anime!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

DeviantArt update

Just put up the latest version of issue 3's main cover...

As you can see, I've changed it around a bit from the initial first pass that was used for solicitation.
Let me know what you think!

IN CASE U MISSED IT: Comics Economics

Over on CBR.com, Steven Grant waxes about the economics of comics, or rather, how an article in Scientific American touching on "stationary state" economics can be applied to the comic book industry.
You may say wha hunh, but it makes sense, as he says, especially in today's market, but you can read all about it HERE
See really it's all pretty straightforward, simple, and logical once you dig into it...

Basically, he surmises that companies with a sustainable economic approach, one of a smaller more controlled focus, are better positioned than those with an economic growth model, such as companies like Alias, Speakeasy, Crossgen, etc.
Anyway, it all made sense to me and is in line with my perceptions about the market, so I thought I'd share...

PIPE DREAM OF THE DAY - If only the bigger companies could adopt a sustainable approach, as opposed to the oversaturation mode they're forced into to maintain corporate performance requirements.

INTERESTING SIDE NOTE - Just realized, if you look at my list above of examples for publishers with a growth model, they all announced plans for penetration outside the direct market, with little to no talk of what they intended to do, or actual results. So at least they were perhaps cognizant of the fact that the direct market couldn't support their approach, but ultimately failed in their attempts (and I realize the jury is still out on that somewhat).

IN CASE U MISSED IT: The Pope does Batman comic

BrokenFrontier.com's current EYECATCHER feature is none other than BATMAN - YEAR ONE HUNDRED. Why is it an eyecatcher? Paul Pope is one of the best artists in the medium, and well Bats is one of the biggest characters, but mainly cuz it's Paul's fast forward version of the caped crusader, a similar formula created one of the greatest comics in history...
But, I'm just glad to have more Paul Pope comics genius in any form (while excited to see what he'll do with a comic landmark)!