Wednesday, August 31, 2011


As always, I had meant to post sooner, but then prepping for Fan Expo kicked up to high speed. I was dancing on hot coals until the show finally got rolling. What a rat race though. Here's one of several embarrassing stories I told over the weekend:

A few weeks ago I was creating promotional signs for our booth and I was thinking of ways to hang them to make the most of our table space. I was getting tired of using easels because kids in their manga costumes always knocked into them. It's almost always manga costumes, by the way. Often because of their big, awkward accessories. Anyhow, Fred didn't want to spring for a professionally printed display. They're expensive, and it's his dough, so that's how it is. Suddenly I got it in my head that just buying timber to build an 8'x6' sign would be far easier and more cost effective than paying for large scale printed posters. Was it really? Nope! But like Zaphod Beeblebrox, I plunged head first into a messy situation with blindingly stupid optimism.

I bought all the materials from DeSerres and Home Depot. I designed the text for our sign to read Big Sexy Comics, looking large and mountainous, but had a bitch of a time a time trying to get it on the big wooden boards I bought. I tried rasterbating my image, which was total bullshit. Then I just plain free-handed it: more bullshit. Finally I bought a light projector and was on my way... for about 20 minutes. After setting up the projector, I knelt before one of my 4'x6' boards and began to trace the B when I noticed the projected outline was dipping. The projector itself was stable, so I simply put my pen to where the outline had come to rest... only it sank some more, and was picking up speed. That's when I smelled the fumes of hot plastic and saw ghostly wisps of smoke rise from the lens--only then did I realize that my projector was melting. The bulb was too damned hot! I switched it off and unplugged it, but it was beyond saving. I brought it back to the art store immediately. Staff hovered around me to bear witness to the molten monstrosity I dared exchange for a new projector.

I left the store with a new projector and some nifty spray paint, because I did not intend to paint the thing by hand. With the design traced onto the boards, thanks to the new projector, I masked the letters and broke out a can of blue spray paint. Blue mist hissed, covering bare wood, and I watched with detached amusement in my sealed garage at how the fine blue particles seemed to dance. Their flight was dizzying and I soon felt nauseated, even sick. I put the can down to stretch my tired arms. That's when I noticed the label. My eyes bulged at the very bold, and very clearly printed warnings on the can of spray paint: "Highly Toxic! Use in Ventilated area! Must wear mask!" So I got out of there, having not done any of that shit, and later on painted the letters by hand with acrylic, just the way I tried avoiding. I didn't like the job it did, but I was out of time. I left it to dry and tried to sweat out and shower away all the toxins I had no doubt absorbed.

The next day at the convention, bits of the acrylic paint ripped off my painted sign. You see, I sandwiched the painted sides in my car, and they adhered during the drive. Andre Fernandes, another artist for Big Sexy Comics, did the best he could to cover up the blemishes. Despite having an otherwise fine reception at the show, I couldn't help but notice upward glances followed by brows furrowed with confusion and distaste--but the sign worked! They were caught in their bemusement and in those moments of displacement I sold them a book. Still, it left a lot to be desired. I firmly believe that's what prompted Fred Kennedy, writer and creator of Teuton and Big Sexy Comics, to turn to me and say, "you know, next year I think I'll invest in some printed banners." What a guy!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Quantum Probability is a short sci-fi horror comic I drew some time ago. Written by Phil McClorey, the eight page story can be viewed at Furious Comics. It's a lot of fun and I encourage one and all to check it out along with all the other great horror tales available on the site.

I recall first meeting Phil and how I got to be lucky enough to work on one of his scripts. Allow me to tell you all about it...

The year was 2009 and it was bangin'. Life had grown contemptuous of my "takin'er easy" and decided to kick things up a notch: my lady love and I learned we were having a baby. Meanwhile, I was hard at work on The Vampire Conspiracy and attending comic conventions to seek advice from established artists. It felt vital to be told not just what I was doing right, but what I was doing wrong and how to do those things better.

On my quest I met some swarthy gents, but none so swarthy as Phil McClorey, writer of the horror anthology The Book of Methuselah and founder of the Canadian comic imprint, Furious Comics. I was strolling through Artist Alley when I came upon Phil's table. He very cordially reeled me into his stories and I was impressed by what he had to share. Reading Phil's brand of comics, you are reminded of a time when boys read scary stories under their bed covers; when ordinary shadows seemingly reached for your ankles from the edges of your bed. I had no choice but to purchase his comics.

I asked Phil if he would look at my portfolio and share his opinions. That's when I realized my portfolio wasn't in my hands. It wasn't anywhere--I had left it somewhere in the convention. I don't remember what I said to excuse myself before speed-walking through aisles packed with fanboys slouched under the weight of their satchels. Now, perhaps Phil doubted my return--I can only assume his world grew significantly darker and a might bit smaller after my abrupt departure--but before long I was back at his table, huffing and panting, my portfolio square in his face. When it was all said and done, I thanked him and took his card, and ran to a quiet corner to hug my portfolio like a parent after finding their lost child in a supermarket (only more so).

Meeting my deadline for The Vampire Conspiracy was a lot like a jockey being dragged half-dead by his horse across the finish line. To reach it I had stayed up 36 hours straight and drank copious amounts of coffee while, foolishly, a myriad of Alex Jones "documentaries" played on YouTube just so I could learn what the fuss was about. In other words: I was fried. When I had crossed the finish line I was only happy to be alive. Yet somehow, after a few days crept by, I wanted more. That's when I dug up Phil's card and solicited my services.

Initially, the first project I started with Phil was his take on the Cthulhu mythos. I rather liked his script. It was fun and exciting and gruesome. I immersed myself in designing my own Cthulhu and took the Cloverfield route by studying the features of numerous animals. I felt like such a smart cookie. The project stalled on my end however, as making room for my unborn daughter eclipsed all else. When I finally got back on the horse and sent Phil some rough pages, he had moved on with another artist to create The Mask of Cthulhu. Together they turned out quite a good story.

Still, I had great admiration for Phil's writing and wanted to shake a stick at anything he'd be willing to give me. What he gave me was a script then titled QUORK. Our ill-fated plan was to get it up on Zuda to become superstars and the envy of all message boards. All of them, I say. Unfortunately, Zuda folded* due to an overwhelming number of creators who also wanted to be the envy of all the message boards.

[ * Let that be a lesson to you, kiddies: when things get tough, give up entirely and close your website! ]

Nevertheless, I forged ahead and very gradually worked away on QUORK while juggling the first issue of Teuton, a newborn, and classes at the Toronto Cartoonists Workshop. The fun never stopped! All the while, Phil sat at home with his brandy, stroking his roguish facial hair, patiently waiting the completion of his eight page materpiece:

Truthfully, Phil was hard at work on some more interesting and original material with other fantastic artists, this time focusing on web comics. It looked unsure whether Phil would continue printing single issues in the long run, but I convinced him with some smooth talk and thinly veiled threats that not only should he print at least one more issue of Methuselah, but that he should include QUORK in its publication. He politely agreed, and in that moment of weakness I demanded he let me draw the cover for said issue and asked for a huge sum of money. He had no choice but to pay, what with my threatening demeanor and all. Plus, I had taken the precaution of growing a mustache of my own, in case things got out of hand. When it was all said and done, QUORK was renamed Quantum Probability, Phil had himself one handsome cover, a fun read of a comic, and a bank account so empty it rivaled the vacuum of space after paying my ridiculous fees.

While some of that may be exaggerated just a touch, I did really enjoy working with Phil and expected to carry on with QP, but my commitment to Teuton and generally hectic life made that nigh impossible to do at a reasonable rate. In the meantime, Phil's writing just keeps getting better, as you can plainly see by checking out his Meta-Human Affairs or his thrilling contribution to the WWII zombie anthology, FUBAR.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more updates all month long!

Coming Soon...

The newly printed trade of Teuton should be arriving at my door any day this week (I hope!) and all this waiting is giving me the jimmy legs. I'm pacing through my house, looking out the window constantly, not-so casually standing on my front step to meet a UPS delivery truck that is taking too long to arrive--it's almost too much. Although the book was completed quite some time ago, I won't feel satisfied until I'm holding the finished product. Only then will I feel the reassuring finality those printed pages represent, carrying with them a sense of a job well done, that hard work can and does amount to something.

In a year that so far has brought about many changes, surprises, and adventures, I've felt plagued by uncertainty. Every week I'm introduced to something new, for better or worse, and it is sometimes difficult to get a grip on my shifting reality. However, there are wonderful constants in my life, and for nearly two years one of them has been my work on Teuton. Sometimes my progress is steady and others weeks may elapse between pages, but knowing that after finishing a page there will be another and another helps build structure around things I can't control.

For now I wait with what patience I have until the moment comes where ink smudges my fingertips was I scrutinize the fruits of my labors. In my heart I know it won't end there. There is always the next step I'll be eager to take: the big show, the chance to meet exciting and influential people, and being at my desk with a new script.