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Eltingville Uber Alles
Friday, May 8th, 2015 — 5:34 pm
Today we sent the text pieces for the Eltingville Club collection to editor Daniel Chabon at Dark Horse. I wrote an afterword, a short introduction to the Northwest Comix Collective story from Dork #6 and another for the Welcome to Eltingville pilot. Sarah helped me bang my typing into shape, of course I had problems on figuring out what to say and got worked up over it. It wasn't too bad, but it should've gone more quickly. I never can say goodbye easily. Or hello. Or pass the salt, for that matter.

Sarah also finished assembling the pin-ups of the Club members I did for the book. Some folks at Dark Horse have ruined their eyes and brains proof-reading all the comics (whoa, momma, what a piece of work that was), so it looks like other than writing captions for the art we're including from the animated pilot, all the work's done for the hardcover. Yay.

From what I understand it's going to be 11-12 months before it comes out, owing to having to completely reschedule it. But it's pretty much all over and done with, and I'm pretty much free of Eltingville.

It feels really good.

Eltingville was a difficult comic to work on, if comics can be said to be difficult work. You know what I mean. Always apologizing, that's me in a nut's shell. Sorry!

While writing the text pieces I revisited some old comics and the Comics Journal interview I did with Tom Spurgeon in 2000. Disheartening to read about my problems and issues at the time, because I still write and talk about having the same problems and issues now. The positive in that is that I'm dealing with that stuff a lot better than I was back then. The negative is that I'm still having to deal with it at all. My productivity is a mess, my confidence is on a pendulum, my hand is in worse shape than ever, my career's in worse shape than it was fifteen years ago. I might talk less than I used to, at least I hope so. That interview's an albatross around my neck and always will be.

And yet, I'm happier nowadays. Mostly. Less unhappy? Family, working towards getting my head together and gaining some small measure of self-worth can do things for a person. Slow going, though. I turned 50 a few weeks back, so I figure I'll have my act together and do some great work in about twenty-five years. Stick around!

In the meantime, I'm jumping back on the commissions I've owed a few folks for way too long. Drawing has been tough, to be honest, so has typing. I have to take breaks after a short time working. It sucks. I'm working on setting up some writing gigs, so far with decent results. I'm working on two 10-page licensed stories, then a text piece for a project, and hopefully some of the things we're pitching around will stick. I have two pitches sitting with a publisher, one of which I'm putting on the back burner, the other I'm revising. Sarah's taking her turn on a pitch for a project we're hoping to co-write. I'm discussing other pitches with two other publishers and we're still talking about a non-comics thing with a studio. I have one drawing gig coming up, a cover. Something's gotta shake out of that mess. One hopes.

Besides that, I'm hoping Jill Thompson will be able to get back to Beasts of Burden and finish off the next one shot, she completed about eight pages for it last year. Our last one-shot was nominated for an Eisner, much to my surprise, I think it's the first time I got a nomination in a "mainstream" category. We'll get creamed, but I welcome the free press and it's good to know some readers out there are still thinking about the series. I think about it every day.

I started some gag strips but haven't been able to work on them much, between the schedule, our ongoing house de-cluttering and the stupid hand thing. One of the 10-pagers I'm writing required a ton of research and planning, so that's been taking up time. I'm happy with the concept and hope the actual script does well by it. We'll see how that goes. The house de-cluttering has been good for us but also eats up a lot of time, everything's still two steps forward and one back around here. At least we make some progress. Our de-cluttering schedule is heading to books and toys soon, and that's going to be a tough couple of days. I have too many comic book books and vinyl pop culture widgets and something's gotta give. We've been donating stuff, dumping stuff, recycling stuff, trading stuff, giving stuff away and filling boxes with stuff we'll be putting up on eBay. It's slowly paring things down. It gets easier with every weekly session, and I've been shedding books in batches before we actively hit the category. But it's still going to be hard. Like a lot of people, I'm pretty wrapped up in my stuff, for good reasons and bad. We should all have such probelsm, I guess.

Well, the hand's telling me to log off. Hope everyone's doing okay out there, and had a good Free Comic Book Day and good non-funnybook times as well. Stay tuned for more exciting first world work and home dilemnas, right here, sometime soon-ish.
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This, That and Who Knows What
Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 — 2:24 am
Hey, folks out there in comic book land.

I've been meaning to drop in here to post an update about things but obviously that didn't happen, until now. Obviously. I actually wrote a long and earnest follow-up to my previous post, but it's sitting, unfinished, and I don't think I ever will go back to it and post it. Too long, and too earnest, I think, and also probably way past it's sell-by date. But it was good to get it all out in some form, clarify some thoughts, that sort of thing.

So, yeah, we've been busy. which is good, because for the most part it's been a good kind of busy. Well, for me, at least, Sarah's had to deal with the misery that is working on the Eltingville Club #2 pages so they can go to Dark Horse. This was a massive mess for her to tackle, I felt awful about handing it over to her with so many things needing corrections and cleaning. I won't even get into all the stuff she had to do, some pages were Frankenstein patchworks, scanned, assembled and stitched together. It was a lot of work and I am extremely grateful to her for her time, effort, input and patience (xoxo). And for not killing me (XOXO). Whew.

Speaking of that goddamned comic, Sarah sent the files out today, so, we're finally done with the hands-on work on the last Eltingville Club story. Jeez, what a mess this has been. We have some fairly simple things to do for the collection, but by and large we're done working on Eltingville comics. Thank goodness.

I've been busy with non-Eltingville stuff since I last typed here, most of which I can't say much about. I'm doing a couple of writing gigs while working on a batch of late commissions I still owe folks. Sarah and I are almost done with a comic project pitch, something I wouldn't be drawing if it happened. I sent some gags to MAD, but they didn't go for any of them. There's some other things going on, but they're all still in the discussion stage, some comic book stuff, some non-comic book stuff. Who knows.

Also, we're confirmed for Heroes Con, if I haven't mentioned it here. I'm also supposed to actually get off Staten Island a couple of times this month if all goes well, I'm doing a talk for an SVA class this week and then later in the month I'm getting together with some old comic book cohorts. I'm looking forward to it, I don't socialize much these days, haven't in a while, really.

I don't even know how much subway fare is now. Yeesh.
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R.I.P. The Eltingville Comic Book, Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Horror & Role-Playing Club (1994-2015)
Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 — 6:55 pm
Mood: post project depression
I'm more than a year late on this, and it's far from what I'd hoped it would be, but at long last I'm finished with the principal cartooning on the second and last issue of the Eltingville Club wrap-up. Fingers crossed, we'll find only a few, minor goofs and gaffes to fix as Sarah compiles this mess in Photoshop --  I'm hoping nothing we find will require me to actually have to draw these characters again or re-letter more than a sentence or two. There's some clunky elements and more than a few things in the book I'm unhappy with, but with the sheer number of panels and jokes and bits of business in there, there's got to be something of interest in the mix to justify the comic's price tag, if not the ridiculous amount of time I spent on this mess.

I feel badly for all the work Sarah will have to put into making the second issue come together, there are a lot of disparate elements to be digitally assembled, the comic is a Frankenstein's monster of parts, paste-downs and patches. I have a tremedous urge to burn the pages as soon as they're all scanned. Dressed as a Universal Studios villager, pitchfork and torch. I hope the actual reading experience won't be as messy as the book itself. There's a bunch of good gags and some crazy crowd scenes, and some hopefully good shots at comic book behavior. It's not exactly the ending I'd wanted, I think the first issue works ends the series well enough on its own, but I always wanted to do a "ten years later" story, so, whatever. I can't wait until it's all really over and done with, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.

I can't blame comics for anything that went wrong on this comic -- I can't even blame the tumble I took down the stairs last February which screwed up my already-hurting drawing hand. It's all me, all the time, all the way down the rabbit hole on this one. Scott Allie and Daniel Chabon at Dark Horse certainly gave me enough rope, they were supportive and patient, bless 'em, and Scott's doubts I could turn both issues in on time were well-founded. The more I stressed it, the later it got, the later it got, the more I stressed it and added to it, the more I added to it, the later it got. A real mess, something I have to address on whatever else I end up writing and drawing down the line. I have no idea what that will be, but if I hope to get more comics out there I have to work on changing my habits, my process, my head. I have to make some kind of peace with my artwork, my writing, my limitations and overcompensating for them, my anxieties and lousy self-image and how my work reflects and affects those things. I'm turning 50 next month, I don't have as much time to fuck around with this garbage as I used to. I have notebooks and computer files full of story material and gags I'd like to see through, I know I'll never get to half of it, especially if I keep this "spend a year on a two month comic" bullshit going. And I have to make better money, there's no two ways about that, and I can't do that the way I'm operating. So, some things need to be addressed, unless I want to get a day job and do this as a hobby. Of course, I have no idea what I could even do for an actual day job. All I'm suitable for is human guinea pig or dressing up in a Statue of Liberty costume and standing on the sidewalk with a sign for an income tax joint. Whatever happens, I have to at least pretend to be an adult human being-type person much more often than I do now. Terrifying.

In the short-term, I hope to find some writing work to allow my hand to rest up. I simply can't draw much right now. My hand's a wreck and my arm feels like dead meat hanging from the socket. My shoulder and neck are in constant pain. I'm clenching my jaw again and find myself holding my breath more than usual. I can't sleep from the pain and discomfort. I still have some late commissions to deal with, and I need work, but I'm going to try to avoid doing a lot of finished art for a while. I'll hit MAD up for work, hopefully I'll dig something up there, they've always been good to us and specific, short-term drawings are about all I can handle for the time being. I'm hoping I can push some gag strips and stuff along slowly on the side, but unless I'm given an offer I can't refuse (House of Fun #2 for how much a page? Ha ha ha ha! Thank you, I'll get right on it!) drawing comics is basically on hold for a while.

It's super-weird, I feel sort of like I'm starting all over in this business. I have some pitches out there, but I'm having no luck getting an artist on one project, and so far there isn't much interest in the other. I'm working on another pitch for something Sarah and I have been kicking around a while -- a self-contained story/mini-series, I think it's got a shot -- and I'll likely send a few things out to other publishers soon. But I'm super-worried. My options are limited. I have no contacts at DC or Marvel, even if I was interested in doing anything there. I don't like to work on things I don't feel I'm right for. That's three-fourths of what's out there. I like to do my own stuff, but that's not super-viable for someone with a mid-carder following. The only jobs I've been offered as of late have been for terrible rates. I'm not fast enough or fan enough to take jobs that pay less than I was paid to work in 1991 -- and this new stuff involves work-for-hire with no royalties, to boot. I don't hack material out, my OCD won't let me even if I tried, so, volume isn't a viable option right now. I know I have to approach my work differently, work smarter, with something resembling confidence -- lessen the amount of material I stuff into a project, for one thing. But even then I can't see doing solid work I'm happy with for money I'm not happy with. This industry is a ball of confusion for someone like me, too old and in need of paychecks to do webcomics, someone whose strengths are short stories and humor -- two things nobody is clamoring for these days. I'm not a book guy, I'm an anthology guy. I want to write horror stories, humor stuff. I'm not a crowd-funding type. On top of that I'm someone who has trouble contacting potential collaborators or turning towards editors for help. And I'm even afraid of having a pitch accepted, because that means making decisions and making good. Crazy person! These are all things I'm working on, things I needed to work on decades ago, but back then, I was too busy making comics for it to really affect me. The phone rang, I never had to pitch, there were paying anthologies and opportunities came without my pursuing them. Smaller industry, different times.

In case anyone's wondering, yeah, I'd love to be working on Beasts of Burden scripts, but that project's in suspended animation. I can't write anything until the three sitting scripts are produced, and we've seen no new art since early last year. On top of that, the Reel Fx film appears to be a no-go, which is no great surprise given how those things go, but for a while there it looked possible for some more money to shake out of the deal. The book continues to sell decently, we're at a sixth printing, but it's been five years since it was published, and we're still far away from a second volume. It's a frustrating situation, to say the least. And I can't put together a Dork collection even though Dark Horse is interested, the time it would take would be a schedule and income killer. We already went through that with the Milk and Cheese book. It's definitely worth doing, and something I want to see happen, but we need to free up time to do it. Oy.

Anyway, we'll see how it all goes. I'm feeling down but not out. I'm going to celebrate putting Eltingville down by cleaning my office. Or not cleaning it. I'm pretty tired.


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Bizarro Sketch Cover Commission
Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 — 6:14 am
Mood: me am okay
Bizarro Blank Cover
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Conventions 2015
Monday, February 2nd, 2015 — 8:40 pm
So, the way things were working out last year, we were pretty sure we weren't going to be doing any conventions this year. Anyway, to make a long blog post short, some things changed (for the good), and some folks invited us to some shows, so we're going to be doing a few cons this year after all, including a couple we haven't been to before -- like the Boston Comic Con in July/August.

We're confirmed for another show we haven't been to befoore, and we'll hopefully confirm Heroes for a return visit, and who knows what else will happen.

Anyway, we'll be out there a little bit this year.  Hope to see some of you.
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Two Illos From Mad #531 (on sale now)
Wednesday, December 24th, 2014 — 12:46 am
531 GTA

531 Reality

These aren't the cleaned-up versions, fyi.

I think there were nine illustrations in all for the gig. This was our only appearance in Mad this year, I had to turn down some other stuff because of the Eltingville mess that ate my schedule (and income, and brain) this year. Sheesh. Had fun with the job, though. Put too much stuff in, as usual.

I think 2014 marks our tenth year appearing in the magazine, we're not huge contributors but it's been pretty great to be a part of the Usual Gang of idiots. I keep it in mind whenever the career gets me down, which lately has been pretty often. Fingers crossed 2015 won't be another 50 car pile-up.
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More Art Auctions? Really?
Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014 — 7:20 pm
Yeah, yeah, more art auctions. What can I say, 2014 has been a year of putting band-aids on our financial wounds while Eltingville bleeds us dry. It's almost over (Eltingville, that is), but meantime it's still desperation-ho!

At this point I've probably tapped out the audience for my creator-owned stuff (save for one of our regulars, oh, bless you, you-know-who-you-are-if-you're-reading-this), so I've put up a batch of work-for-hire-type stuff in the hopes of reaching potential new buyers. Meaning, people who like Batman and Superman and Bill and Ted more than Milk and Cheese and Dork, et al. Meaning, most everyone in comics.

So, we'll give this a whack. You can see the latest round of auctions here.

Up on the block is my last (and my favorite) page from the Superman/Batman story from Bizarro Comics (scripted by Ivan Brunetti). Also, two of our remaining Bill and Ted pages, and some sketch cards (starting at $10) I finally finished, and a relist of something that didn't sell last time and a weird M&C thing. Maybe these would make great holiday presents. I dunno. Maybe they wouldn't. Take a look even if you're not looking to buy, you haven't seen some of these drawings and checking them out will eat up precious moments from your work day, which is always a good thing, right? Right.

Speaking of Bill and Ted, some of you may have heard that BOOM! has announced a new comic series based on the characters. For the record, since folks have been asking: I was asked to write the series, and I was definitely interested, but ultimately it came down to the money involved, which wasn't , uh, totally excellent.  BOOM! was cool about some things I asked for regarding how I wanted to handle the stories, but the budget was the budget and that was that. I wasn't insulted and they were totally cool, but I feel I can drum up some writing work once Eltingville's done and it'll either be closer in pay to what I'm used to getting or it'll be creator-owned, in which case I know what to expect. I'd work my ass off to make a Bill and Ted comic that was as solid as the old series, and time = money, and there's a Bill and Ted time travel joke to be made there, but if I'm not getting paid then I ain't writing it.

So, yeah, I normally don't talk about that stuff in that kind of detail but I don't want anyone getting any wrong ideas, that's all there is to it. They did ask, I did want to, there's no animosity and no one should garbage talk them for supposedly shoving me aside when that's not what happened. It was just business. The bummer -- as is often the case when a project doesn't come together --  is that I worked out a storyline that I was really happy with. It would've continued my old run using the entire supporting cast from the movies and the comic (along with some new characters, including one I was really into) and would have had a big ending where Bill and Ted become...


Like, I'm not telling you that. Not for free. No way!

Later, dudes. Be excellent to each other.
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Dark Horse Presents (vol 3) #4 In Stores Today
Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 — 11:21 pm
The title pretty much says it all, except that I have an eight-page stretch of Fun Strips in there.

Here's a preview of the issue, which includes one of my pages.

This appearance means I've been in Dark Horse Presents #4 twice, now, and in all four versions of the anthology (three print, one online). Crazy.

I think I forgot to mention on this here blog that Deadpool Classic vol 10 shipped from Marvel last week. The reprint collection includes the two Agent-X issues I wrote in 2003 (featuring Fight-Man) as well as the Fight-Man One Shot I wrote and penciled in 1993. The former has nifty art by Juan Bobillo and Marcelo Sosa, the latter looked like a purple, pink and green nightmare on newsprint in '93 and unfortunately looks even more garish and awful on glossy paper in 2014. In a happier world that loved me and Fight-Man more, it would have been recolored. But it's all together now, which is a surprise in and of itself, so if that appeals to you as a Fight-Man (and/or or Agent X) fan, then go get a copy or a digital thingie of it or whatever.

While I'm plugging stuff: Later this month the Hellboy: Weird Tales series Sarah and I contributed a story to gets the complete hardcover treatment. We also should be in the next issue of Mad Magazine after a long absence due to Eltingville Club-related business.

Speaking of being given the business, I've got roughly four pages of Eltingville #2 left to finish. Only one has a ridiculous crowd scene so I'm hoping they'll get knocked out fairly easily and somewhat quickly. The comic and the HC collection will be rescheduled sometime after I turn in the pages.

And after that, I will wander off like a whipped dog in search of paying work.

Wotta mess this has been.

You betcha.
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H.O.F. T-Shirts and Crafty Stuff On eBay
Sunday, November 16th, 2014 — 6:55 pm
We've got a last batch of our overstocked shirts and craft items up on eBay (other than whatever Action Girl extras we might still have on hand. Don't want to falsely advertise!), including some Milk & Cheese, Pirate Corp$!/Hectic Planet, Dork and even some Yo Gabba Gabba! shirts and items up for bidding. There's also a few of Sarah's remaining H.O.F. jewelry pieces as well as a pencil case/ bookmark combo made with the lttle sketchbook monsters.

You can see the auctions here.

As always, thanks for any and all clicks, plugs and bids.

PC$! shirt
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