Mythfits! (A.K.A. Making Comics With Samantha Beiko)

So I’ve mentioned a few times that Samantha Beiko and I are doing a comic together. Looks like things are official! Mythfits will be debuting at the inaugural Prairie Comics Festival. Very cool to see some press about our first issue!

Pictured below is concept art of Veronica, AKA “Ronnie” who plays the role of axe and artillery. Sam is crushing this book. I can’t wait for folks to read it.

Ronnie

Art: Samantha Beiko

Mythfits grew out of C4 2014 when I shared a table with Samantha in artist’s alley and talked about all the things. So I hope GMB Chomichuk (who kept telling us to “Join the fight, make comics!”) is happy. We sure are.

Write on!

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Tesseracts Nineteen: Superhero Universe!

For me Wednesday is “New Comic Book Day.” Comics are a big reason why I am a reader, and so they’re a big reason why I’m a writer. That’s why I’m super-stoked to have a story in Superhero Universe: Tesseracts Nineteen.

At some point while I was away on book tour, the anthology got a cover. And it is a sweet cover–bristling with energy (and Kirby Krackle!) This is my second time ringing the Tesseracts bell, and second time I’ve landed in one of Claude Lalumière’s anthologies. Always nice to be welcomed back.

“Midnight Man versus Doctor Death,” an ode to pulp heroes like The Shadow, will be called into action Spring 2016. It’s great to share a TOC with Corey Redekop and Alex C. Renwick again. And particularly cool to join A.C. Wise and Michael Matheson, whose writing I admire, in a book at long last. Looking forward to reading everyone’s stories soon!

Write on!


From the Amazon.ca description:

Superhero Universe: Tesseracts Nineteen

Superheroes!
Supervillains!
Superpowered antiheroes.
Mad scientists.
Adventurers into the unknown.
Detectives of the dark night.
Costumed crimefighters.
Steampunk armoured avengers.
Brave and bold supergroups.
Crusading aliens in a strange land.
Secret histories.
Pulp action.

Tesseracts Nineteen features all of these permutations of the superhero genre and many others besides!

Featuring stories by: Patrick T. Goddard, D.K. Latta, Alex C. Renwick, Mary Pletsch & Dylan Blacquiere, Geoff Hart, Marcelle Dubé, Kevin Cockle, John Bell, Evelyn Deshane, A.C. Wise, Jennifer Rahn, Bevan Thoma, Bernard E. Mireault, Sacha A. Howells, Kim Goldberg, Luke Murphy, Corey Redekop, Brent Nichols, Jason Sharp, Arun Jiwa, Chadwick Ginther, Leigh Wallace, David Perlmutter, P.E. Bolivar, Michael Matheson.

The Tesseracts anthology series is Canada’s longest running anthology. It was first edited by the late Judith Merril in 1985, and has published more than 529 original Canadian speculative fiction (Science fiction, fantasy and horror) stories and poems by 315 Canadian authors, editors, translators and special guests. Some of Canada’s best known writers have been published within the pages of these volumes — including Margaret Atwood, William Gibson, Robert J. Sawyer, and Spider Robinson (to name a few).

“A Taste Of The Other Side” Longlisted In Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror Of The Year 7 And A Few Other Things

Lots of cool stuff happened in the last couple days.

After I was finished with fence construction on Sunday, I decided to be a giant dork and run over to my local bookstore to see Too Far Gone for the first time.

dorky chad

The book looks great. It’s as beefy as I hoped and I think the trilogy looks amazing all together on the shelf.

Trilogy

Yesterday I was a guest blogger at GMB Chomichuk’s Comic Alchemy blog, talking about why comics are the reason I became a reader. 

And you can’t be a writer without being a reader.

Speaking of comics: My contributor copy of Canadian Corps #1 showed up yesterday!

Canadian Corps

The comic turned out great. The team at September 17 did a wonderful job putting it together, and I can’t wait to read more. (They’ve hit me right in the Alpha Flight zone, so good job, S17). I know my name is only in the back of the book because I contributed to the Kickstarter campaign, but my name is still in a comic, which is exciting. Next step: to get billing on a comic book cover!

Final bit of news, my story “A Taste of the Other Side” from Beast Within 4: Gears & Growls made Ellen Datlow’s full recommendation list for Year’s Best Horror! There’s lots of great stories on there, and I’m stoked to be sharing a list with so many great writers, and so many friends. The second half of the list is here. Thanks to Gears & Growls editor Jennifer Brozek for buying the story and to Ellen Datlow for reading, this is the second time I’ve made Ellen’s long list (first time was for “First They Came for the Pigs”, my story from Fungi) and it feels great.

Write on!

True North Strong and Free 2: Canadian Corps, An Interview With Rod Salm

There’s four days left in the Canadian Corps Kickstarter, and while they’ve funded, they’re also very close to hitting one more stretch goal. Rod Salm, letterer for Canadian Corps, took a stab at some of my questions too. Here are his replies.

CG: What ís the first comic you remember buying?

RS: Uncanny X-men 141 when it first hit the shelves. That was the first comic in the Days of Future Past series written by Chris Claremont. Comic selection in Churchill, Mb, back then was pretty limited so there was no guarantee the next issue would ever show up or how many (my brother tended to scoop up any cool comics before me, the ratter) and with no comic book stores it was a pretty scattered affair collecting comics back then. It was so different than everything else on the shelves but it was months before another X-Men title came in so I was left hanging on for a very long time to find out what happened next. Epilogue: I was lucky enough to have met Chris Claremont and his wife at a convention and had him sign that very book.

CG: (As an aside, Days of Future Past is one of my favourite X-Men stories, and it introduced one of my favourite characters, Rachel Summers/Rachel Grey! Good choice.)

CG: When did you decide you wanted to make comics?

RS: I’ve always been a creator (art or writing) of some sort, it’s only recently, with Andrew prodding me, to take it to the next step and work on a group project with him and this crew to get into comic storytelling.

CG: What is the appeal of superhero comics for you?

RS: They are epic! All the skills for lettering are needed in graphic design layout  but what’s more exciting: super powered individuals battling an alien invasions or selling a furniture. I’ll let you decide.

CG: What aspect of the book are you most proud of?

RS: Andrew, as well as writing a top notch story, has assembled a team of really talented people to pull it off. We feed off each other and are pushing to make this a book of the highest standard. From lettering, to colour, to the pencils and more, we’re all contributing our best work.

CG: Is Canadian Corps part of a larger, shared universe?

RS: I hope so! I was inspired by the drafts of the script I saw that I wrote a character within it, Tundra, that I hope I can work with Andrew in getting published.

CG: What makes a Canadian superhero different from the superheroes south of the border?

RS: Geography. Canada is really, really big. For a superhero to be effective they have to have a way to transverse this vast expanse. We can’t write one mega-city where all the action takes place because that’s just not Canada. The country has to be taken into consideration in any storyline involving a Canadian superhero. American comics may move locations, but in Canadian comics the location is fundamental to the storytelling aspect.

CG: What’s next for you?

RS: I’ll be getting my webcomic back up and running, www.deathatyourdoor.com, and working on more books with Andrew as well as searching for concept artists for Tundra.

CG: Thanks for stopping by, Rod! Good luck!

True North Strong And Free: The Canadian Corps, An Interview With Andrew Lorenz

I love me a good Kickstarter campaign and the Canadian Corps is one I’ve been following with interest.

I’ve been reading comics as long as I’ve been reading, and have had a soft spot for another group of Canadian heroes named Alpha Flight for a lot of that time. Which meant I am stoked to see what Canadian Corps does with our national archetypes.

Big thanks to Andrew Lorenz, writer of Canadian Corps for agreeing to answer a few questions.

CG: What’s the first comic you remember buying?

AL: The first comic book I remember buying is Web of Spider-Man #4. Picked it up from the campground shop at White Lake in the Whiteshell. I recall it very clearly because I had to make a choice between that or a Batman/Superman Brave and the Bold issue. Spider-Man was always my first choice back then because of the 60s cartoon I used to watch reruns of on TV as a kid. Superman was runner-up.

CG: When did you decide you wanted to make comics?

AL: I think pretty much anyone who’s ever read comics has at one point thought about making them. I remember coming up with stories when I was in elementary school and writing some short stories in junior high that were comic book-like. For so long though it never seemed a viable option- you really only had DC and Marvel until the last 15 years and getting into those companies pretty much required knowing someone or living where they were located.

The Internet changed all that.

Suddenly you were able to talk to other creators from all over the world. You were able to find different avenues to showcase and sell and distribute your work. You could self-publish. That was something I had never even considered until I saw the work done by people like A.P Fuchs, a local writer whose Axiom-man books were a big influence on me. As was Charlie McElvy’s WatchGuard Sourcebook- in him I saw another creator who’d come up with a bunch of characters and stories that finally took the step and did something with them.

But really it was running into some super supportive co-workers when I’d picked up a part time gas jockey job to help out the manager (who’s a friend of mine) that needed some reliable help and a chance at some easy extra money. Somehow or another it came out that I had come up with these characters and had these stories and the three of them- Michael, Mike T. and Cassandra (who is now my lovely lady friend) were ridiculously encouraging and excited about the ideas I had. To the point that they would let me work on developing characters and storylines while on-shift and they’d pick up the bulk of the work if I was “in the zone”. I can’t thank them enough for their support and nagging at me until I did something with it. Michael was actually the one who put us over the funded amount for the Canadian Corps Kickstarter; that’s how awesome they are.

CG: What is the appeal of superhero comics for you?

AL: What ISN’T the appeal? Action, adventure, drama, quiet character moments, cool costumes, evil villains, awesome powers and the fact that you can tell ANY genre of story WITH superheroes! You can tell horror stories, sci fi, set stuff in the 1930s, whenever wherever.

A lot of people have knocked superhero comics over the years but I just point out the success of TV shows like Flash or cartoons like Batman: The Animated Series as proof that you can tell a great superhero story and people will love it.

CG: How’d you assemble the creative team for the book?

AL: Magic.

Hahaha! Sometimes it certainly feels that way, anyhow. I’ve said it several times but I really could not have asked fro a better group to work with on this book. I met Justin at Winnipeg’s C4 Comic Con- I was familiar with his work doing the covers of Axiom-man and when I saw some more of his work I knew I wanted to work with him. The plan had always been to do an all-Canadian superhero book with all-Canadian creators.

There are a TON of talented Canadian comic book creators out there but you never really hear of their citizenship; which is sort of how Canadians are in general- we don’t advertise it unless we’re talking hockey. I wanted something that embraced that. We’re awesome people, we’ve got a cool country- you can go all over the world and find people that think well of us, so why can’t we buy into that ourselves? But I digress.

I’d met Rod the following spring after running across HIS Kickstarter for Death At Your Door, an awesome web-comic and got the chance to meet him at a small con not long after. Rod was a super great guy but at the time I hadn’t thought about working with him on anything- he had his stuff and I had mine.

Donovan was someone who Justin introduced me to- they’d known each other for some time and Justin was convinced he was the guy who should colour the book. It took me probably about 5 minutes of finally sitting down for some one-on-one with Donovan to know he was the guy.

So we had pencils, inks and colour down. Only lettering was left and I KNEW it had to be Rod. I didn’t even know if he’d be interested in doing that kind of work, or even if his services were for hire, but I’d made up my mind. Luckily, Rod, like Justin and Donovan, was too nice to say no.

CG: What’s the secret origin of the Canadian Corps? Why this book, and why now?

AL: I’ve always wanted to do a Canada-based comic book and I’m a big fan of team books as a reader. Also as a writer- it’s much easier having a group of characters to riff of each other than a solo book. I’ve been working on LEGACY for a couple years and last year I introduced a second S17 title, New Guard. My plan when I started was to bring in a new title every year- this is Canadian Corps’ year.

When I did my first Free Comic Book Day tabling, I realized that I really needed to get out something that would appeal to the varied groups that were coming in and checking out the comics. Before it became a bandwagon thing, I really believed that comics should be for everyone- I don’t understand how people DON’T like comics but I can see how it can be hard for everyone to find something they like. Hopefully this will fill that spot for some people.

Originally it wasn’t going to be an all-ages sort of book but with all of the creative team having kids, I understood how much it meant to them to have something they could show and share with them. To that end I tried to tone down the language without dumbing it down- not that my books have a bunch of swearing but I always believed that dialogue should reflect how people really talk. And not dumbing it down was important to me- I’ve never talked down to my kids and I honestly believe that if you talk to kids like they’re just short adults, you get further and they respect that. No one wants to be looked down on. Not to mention I wanted it to be fun for adults to read.

CG: What aspect of the book are you most proud of?

AL: The response from people. From the creative team to the people who have checked out the Facebook page or stopped by our tables at the various cons we’ve previewed stuff at. And we haven’t really showed that much but the response has been hands-down the best I’ve ever had for a book. Justin and Donovan have said the same. People are thrilled about the characters- from Warrant’s mustache to their being a First Nations/Native American member to how cool and powerful Shieldmaiden looks. When I got together with Donovan and Justin a month or so back they all said the same thing I had been thinking- Why didn’t we do this book sooner?

CG: Is Canadian Corps part of a larger, shared universe?

AL: It is indeed. All of the September17 Productions (S17) books take place in a shared universe- LEGACY, New Guard or the up-coming Troubleshooters (with Eryck Webb) or The Sentries (with Andre Siregar of LEGACY #2-4), they’re all in the same world. That being said, you do not NEED to read all the books (but you should! they’re great!) to follow what’s going on but if you DO, they are some neat Easter Eggs that carry through them; guest appearances too! I’ve always enjoyed stuff that was linked together despite separate stories- whether Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series of novels or the shared univereses of DC and Marvel.

CG: What makes a Canadian superhero different from the superheroes south of the border?

AL: They fight cybernetically enhanced polar bears armed with hockey sticks and fueled by double doubles from Tim Hortons?

Traditionally Canadian heroes in comics have been kind of a joke compared to American superheroes, or at least have generally been perceived as such. With Canadian Corps I wanted to change that.

It might sound kind of weird, because I SHOULD say they’re COMPLETELY different but at the end of the day they kind of are NOT. Which was one of things I wanted to go for. Don’t get me wrong- there’s TONS of Canadian flavor in here (because I want to celebrate what makes Canada great) but I wanted to make them just as good as any other heroes from anywhere else. Too often Canadian superheroes end up being the butt of a lot of jokes (What do you fight cyber-polar bears with hockey sticks or something? Seriously I may write this now…) and I wanted to make it clear that Canadians kick ass as much as any other country, if not more.

Having a Canadian flavor was something that was important though- the first book takes us from the streets of Calgary to the far north of Nunavut. Further volumes will have stories involving Canadian cities and ideas that reflect the various cultures and histories that make up our fine country.

CG: What’s next for September17 Productions?

AL: Some days it feels like what ISN’T next for us! Haha!

Canadian Corps #2 (the second half of the collected edition) is up next for the art crew when they wrap up a couple of their own projects. New Guard #2 has been completed for pencils, inks and lettering- colouring is 2/3 done. After that Kenan will be heading straight into LEGACY #7 (#6 comes out at the end of this month!) after he’s done.

The Sentries (#1-3) is my big summer blockbuster story that will really open up the universe of S17 and introduce even more aspects of the world that we are creating through the books. Sentries #1 comes straight out of LEGACY #6 but, as with all the other books, it has a story that is its own thing. The high concept might be something like Avengers meets Pacific Rim meets Star Wars. But different. And better.

Troubleshooters is a book I’m doing with Eryck Webb, an artist I’ve been wanting to work with for a couple years now- I had originally approached HIM to do New Guard but luckily he was too busy at the time and I found Kenan. If he’d been able to do the book I would’ve missed out on working with Kenan and that would’ve sucked because he’s a great collaborator.  That being said, I wasn’t about to give up on doing a book with Eryck and I’m stoked to have him on Troubleshooters. Much like The Sentries, Troubleshooters will open up more aspects of the S17 Universe while still being its own creature. If you liked the TV show Fringe or the comic book series The Authority/Stormwatch, this book will be your kind of thing.

Character handbooks are slowly in the works- I had wanted to do something along the lines of Marvel’s Handbooks but I’ve started leaning towards a complete S17 Universe Encyclopedia, but we’ll see. Still plenty of work to be done there- over 300 characters to write-up. Also we’re looking at turning those write-ups into a role-playing game sourcebook so there will be that to do as well. Luckily I have a gaming expert to help me out there in the form of DT Butchino who regularly releases his own wicked characters in a series called Acts of Villainy for the Mutants and Masterminds system. There are few, if any, systems he isn’t familiar with though- like I said, he’s an expert.

Besides all the comic book stuff I’m also working on a few novels in my spare time and will be looking to put in a bunch of time on those in the new year. My game plan is to write the next year’s worth of S17 comic book scripts by December so I can concentrate on the novels next year. The novels I’m working on are: Return to Grenfell (my first stab at a Fantasy novel), Formerly Known As the Indestructible Kid (about a former teen superhero sidekick turned private detective) and Innocents Lost (planned to be the first of the Steven Kincaid mystery series). At some point I’ll be doing a novel adaptation of the LEGACY #10-12 story arc and that will be called LEGACY: The Storm.

I’ve got a few other things that I’d like to do as well but it’s a matter of fleshing the ideas out a bit more and finding the time.

And that’s that! Thanks again for doing this, sir!

CG: You’re very welcome, good luck with the rest of your Kickstarter!

(I’m In) Tesseracts Nineteen: Superhero Universe!

Very excited to finally be able to announce that my story “Midnight Man versus Doctor Death” will be appearing in Tesseracts Nineteen: Superhero Universe edited by Claude Lalumière & Mark Shainblum. This will be my second time dinging the Tesseracts bell, and my second time in one of Claude’s anthologies. I love selling to the same market again. It helps one feel like the first time wasn’t a fluke.

This sale also means a lot because superhero comics were my gateway to reading way back when. Between wishing I could draw better and playing various superhero roleplaying games, I have created more superheroes and supervillains than I can easily remember, so it’s a thrill to have one out there in the world officially.

I do hope readers will like Midnight Man (obviously), as the story ties into a couple of my other works-in-progress.

Here’s the complete list of contributors:

John Bell ~ P.E. Bolivar ~ Kevin Cockle ~ Evelyn Deshane ~ Marcelle Dubé ~ Chadwick Ginther ~ Patrick T. Goddard ~ Kim Goldberg ~ Geoff Hart ~ Sacha A. Howells ~ Arun Jiwa ~ D.K. Latta ~ Michael Matheson ~ Bernie Mireault ~ Luke Murphy ~ Brent Nichols ~ David Perlmutter ~ Mary Pletsch & Dylan Blacquiere ~ Jennifer Rahn ~ Corey Redekop ~ Alex C. Renwick ~ Jason Sharp ~ Bevan Thomas ~ Leigh Wallace ~ A.C. Wise

Write on!

May Goals

How in the hell are we a third of the way through the year? I’m going to try not to think about that…

Instead, I’ll look back at how I did with April’s goals:

  • Work on my other WiP
  • Revise and submit one of my previously drafted short stories.
  • Get rolling on keeping the rest of my short fiction on submission again (FINALLY)
  • Finish my comic script

Progress on the WiP went very well (okay, there was a lot of swearing). Locked another five chapters, and made preliminary revisions on a few more. I’m at roughly the halfway point of this draft. It’s taking longer than I’d like, but it’s moving again for the first time in forever.

I organized my short fiction and found potential markets for my available short stories. Pretty much everything went out the door, including previously published short stories looking for reprint markets. I only had to hold one thing back, because I ran out of open reprint markets. I spaced the organizational tasks out over the month instead of devoting an entire day to submitting stories, which helped keep the job manageable, but it also highlighted why I need to stay on top of my short stories. Maybe I’ll set aside one day a week to ensure everything is up to date going forward. All told I think it was over ten hours to double check that stories weren’t in fact on submission elsewhere, build a list of available markets for each story, and then make sure those markets were accepting submissions. After that was done, came the tweaking of formatting and submitting. As I was in the middle of doing all that, a couple of rejections for previous submissions rolled in (for a while I thought I’d hit a new record, but 11 months was still a little shy of the longest it’s taken for me to get a response). So the hard part of keeping my short stories on submission is done. I just have to maintain the machine better for the rest of the year and that’s another big goal down.

I got sick again in April, or maybe more accurately, I never got entirely well, which cost me a weekend and lots of energy. I still feel like I’m fighting it. Blergh. That’s all I have to say to this bloody six week and counting cold. The cold definitely did me in on the revising a short story front. Another thing I’ve noticed is that once I hit a good deal of momentum on a novel, I am loathe to set it aside unless I am writing for a contracted deadline.

My comic script required three more drafts before I felt good about turning it in. I probably rewrote every word of that script, even if the bones of the story stayed the same. All of this was done without really imagining who might be drawing the story. But now the editor on this project showed me some sample art by the person they want me paired with, and HOLY SHIT. I really want this to work out. More news when I have news, obviously.

And what’s on the agenda for May:

  • Keycon is on the horizon (10 more days!), so I want to sort out what I’ll be reading during my reading slot. Chances are I will preview some of Too Far Gone, but I have an hour to fill, and will probably read at least one short story in completion (so let me know if there is anything you’ve a hankering to hear) in addition to a TFG teaser.
  • Polish up and practice my presentation for The Writers’ Union of Canada.
  • Keep plugging away at that WiP.

That’s it for May.

Write on!