We’re coming up on New York Comicon, the very first New York Comicon since New York Comicon happened last year.  Much has changed for me since the last New York Comicon last year. (I’m just going to keep typing New York Comicon as many times as I can.)

At NYCC (couldn’t do it) last year, I was a guy a few of you had heard of, but most of you hadn’t.  I had a well-received Image series called 27 in 2010-2011, and prior to that I had a book come out through SLG called Strongman.  While I had deals for two other creator-owned projects (Strange Attractors and Letter 44), neither had arrived yet.  I knew a lot of creators (which remains one of the best things about being a comic book guy, and I suspect always will be), but I didn’t have much of a foothold in the mainstream comics world.  That was fine.  I figured Strange Attractors and Letter 44 would come out, and maybe the next thing after that, and maybe by then my profile would be high enough that I would start having conversations about Big 2 work.  No rush.

And then I was introduced to a DC editor who asked me to pitch on Swamp Thing.  I ended up getting that job – it all locked into place around the beginning of December last year.  Still, it feels to me like NYCC 2012 was where what I’ve been calling the “crazy year” started.  As of the announcement yesterday that I’ll be working on a relaunch of She-Hulk for Marvel with the incredibly talented Javier Pulido, I have six ongoing titles, five with the Big 2 and one creator-owned. SIX.  I say that not in a “holy shit, look how awesome I am” sort of way but more of a “holy shit what is happening???” way.  They are, listed in the order I began to work on them:

Letter 44 (Oni)

Swamp Thing (DC)

Red Lanterns (DC)

Thunderbolts (Marvel)

Superman / Wonder Woman (DC)

She-Hulk (Marvel)

That is a wide spread of material. Realistic sci-fi/political thriller; supernatural weirdness with strong horror overtones; aggressive space opera; street-level antihero super gang; superhero epic with a romantically involved lead couple; and a superhero legal drama.

None of those are like any of the others, and that is, frankly, one of the only reasons I am able to handle this workload. My Red Lanterns mindset doesn’t take up the same headspace as my Superman / Wonder Woman mindset. So, ideas don’t really bleed across books, and I can snap myself into whichever one I need to focus on at the time.  I’ve also become a pretty lean, clean, writing machine. Not a lot of fat in my schedule right now.  Part of that is, of course, my increasingly-mentioned day job, which I discuss in more detail here.  In the abstract, it might sound a little intense and focused and miserable, but in truth it is only the first two things.  Who wouldn’t want to spend as much time as possible doing something they love?

It all seemed to happen very organically.  I could draw you a road map on the way one gig led to the next, which you might find a little bit surprising.  I can tell you that there’s a LOT that goes on behind the scenes that never gets out there, which is as it should be.  Still, the tricks to doing well in mainstream comics seem to be the same as doing well in life in general – be cool, do your best, do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it, and help people out when you can.

Another tip – work with great people. The artists, editors, colorists, letterers I get to work with… holy goddamn.  They are magicians, and yet they are mostly humble about their incredible powers. It’s awe-inspiring.

Now I find myself in a strange position.  I have the storytelling platform I have always wanted.  It’s not necessarily about going higher for me right now. It’s about going deeper.  Seeing if I can get better, seeing if I can find new angles.  Navigating the weird waters of having a wide audience – especially one that feels very free to comment on my work to me directly (follow me on Twitter!) Figuring out how much of myself to put out in the world (or in the stories), and how much to hold back (you don’t get to have everything!!)  Thinking about things like the creative impulse, and where it comes from, and how in the world to sustain high-level work over a career.  Thinking about the next round of stories I want to tell.

Strange Attractors came out in May, Letter 44 hits next month (and people seem pretty excited about it, which is awesome), and so I’ve been thinking a lot about the next stories of my own I’d like to tell.  Here’s what I’m mulling over right now:

–A battle of wits

–A common cause

–A story in the water, that will be very hard to draw

–The circus

–A terrifying Thanksgiving

Who knows if any of that will come together, but it’s nice to think that it could.

So that’s where things are these days. Amazing what a year can do. My next post will be all about New York Comicon (got one more New York Comicon in after all – no, two!), which is just a few weeks away.  See you there!




As many of you heard this past weekend at NYCC (or in other spots if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook), a new 27 short story is coming very soon!  We’ll start running it on the Shadowline website before Halloween – at some point – and then it should run something like a page a day until the BEST NIGHT OF THE YEAR (or one of ’em, anyway.)

I gave you a little preview of some of Renzo Podesta’s layouts for the story a few posts back.  Now I’ll give you a preview of some of his pencils – this is 4 panels, all in a row.  In context in the story, ooooh… shiver.

Pencils from the 27 Halloween story, by Renzo Podesta.

New York Comic Con starts tomorrow, Thursday, October 11.  Last year I started con-related events with a signing on Wednesday, which had me three-quarters dead by the time Sunday evening rolled around.  I live in New York, and there were things going on (not everyone from out of town leaves on Sunday – many people stick around for a few days to hang out in town or just take a flight the next day), but the idea of doing ANYTHING other than heading home to sleep for as many hours as I could pull off seemed completely impossible.  Even with skipping Sunday night I still ended up with a nasty case of con flu.  At that point, I made a bunch of resolutions about NYCC 2012 – no Wednesday night activities, don’t go out every night, pace yourself, etc.

It’s Wednesday, so I’ll see you tonight at the awesome panel I’m a part of, preceded by drinks with comic book folks before and after!  And then I’m raging like a maniac all weekend!  Screw you, healthy choices!

Truth is, NYCC’s my hometown con, and if I’m going to do it up anywhere, might as well be here.  Here’s my schedule for the weekend – I hope to see thousands of you over the next few days:

Wednesday, October 10 – Pop Music in Comics Panel at Jim Hanley’s Universe, 7-9 PM.  This one should be awesome.  I’m on a panel with some real grade-A luminaries in the world of music-related comics, like Kieron Gillen, Sina Grace and Jamal Igle.  Plus, there will be free beer and eats – I suspect this will be more of a kickoff party for the con than a panel, but you know we’ll chat comics too.  All the details here.

Thursday, October 11 – the con officially begins at 3 PM, for pros, press and people with 4-day passes.  I’ll be set up in Artist’s Alley at table R6.  This is the place you’ll be able to find me for most of the daylight hours during the weekend.  Keep in mind that AA is in its own area this year, off the main show floor, upstairs.  There should be signs for it all over the place, and really make the effort to get up there – some of the most amazing work at the show will be in the Alley, as always.

7-8 PM – I’ll be signing at the Archaia booth, #1520.  I’ll have some exclusive autograph cards and a VERY LIMITED SUPPLY of the Strange Attractors aschan, which you’ll also be able to get at my table over the course of the weekend.  You can see the cover for the ashcan here – ain’t it pretty?

Friday, October 12 – Again, table R6 for most of the day, starting at 10 AM.

3-4 PM – I have a signing for this cool new story I haven’t talked much about yet.  I wrote a piece for the second volume of the History Channel’s “Mankind” series of graphic novels, which will work as companion pieces to their epic miniseries airing this fall.  I haven’t seen the completed story yet, and I don’t know exactly what I’ll be signing, but it should be interesting.  The art and stories I’ve seen for this so far are fantastic.  Booth #1657

5:15-6:15 PM – The famous Writers Unite panel!  This is the fifth time I’ve done the panel, which always includes a real rogue’s gallery of hot indie writers.  This time it’s me, Cullen Bunn, Ray Fawkes, Justin Jordan and our illustrious moderator/kingpin, Jim Zub.  Our focus is on pitching creator-owned comics, and we usually spitball for 45 minutes, comparing notes on our own techniques, and then open the floor to questions.  It’s always a funny, lively panel CRAMMED with useful tips and tricks.  If you feel like putting out your own comics, or breaking in, it’s a must-attend.  Room 1A14, and more info here.

Saturday, October 13 – at table R6 all day, and signing at Archaia from 10:30-11:30 AM.  I will be joined for that signing, and for the morning in Artist’s Alley, by Robert Saywitz, the creator of the incredible complexity maps for Strange Attractors.  He never comes out to signings, even though he’s local, so if you want your SA ashcan signed by him, this is the signing to hit.

Sunday, October 14 – I’ll only be at the show until about 1.  Signing at Archaia from 10:30-11:30, and otherwise at table R6.

What will I have at the show?  How about THIS STUFF:

The exclusive Strange Attractors 26-page ashcan.  This is the first time any SA material has been made available, and the last time until the book is published next spring.  We only have a small number of copies, so if you want one, this is your chance.

27, both First and Second Sets

Strongman, both Volume 1 and the elusive Volume 2 (again, very limited copies – I believe I’m bringing 27 of them (ha!))

Skullkickers #18, which features a short story by me as part of the third Tavern Tales antho.  Again, just a few, and if you want to go on a treasure hunt to get your copy signed by all the amazing writers and artists who contributed work (Justin Jordan, Tradd Moore, John Layman, Rob Guillory and many more), well, there are worse ways to spend your time at the con.  I may even have a very few copies of the sketch variant cover for this, which I literally think exists only in low double digit numbers.

The 27 T-shirt!

Should be a nice, full table, and a nice, full weekend.  See you at the show!



As I’ve mentioned here and there, Renzo Podesta and I are doing a brand new 27 story that should be out by the end of the month. (I hope so, anyway, because it’s Halloween-related.)

A few teases of Renzo’s layouts are below.  No real spoilers here, but they should be enough to get your curiosity piqued a bit.  More info on when and where you can read the story soon!




Ask me nicely at NYCC (I’ll be at table R6 in Artist’s Alley), and maybe I’ll tell you a bit more about it!

At the beginning of the year, I wrote two posts talking about a variety of projects I was working on at the time.  I thought it might be fun to catch up on where all of those things went, and provide a similar set of obscure notices about things in the mix right now.  Some of the stuff developed, some of it didn’t, sometimes I got paid, sometimes I didn’t.  Before I run down the list, here’s the first post and here’s the second one.

Let’s start with the active list from that first post.  I’ll put my update below each one:

1. Strange Attractors – OGN about a guy who turns NYC into a sort of engine, and what happens when he turns the key.  Due Q3/Q4 from Archaia.

***Well, Q3/Q4 turned out to be a little ambitious.  We’re now looking at a Spring 2013 release, just because the book is incredibly complex (in a good way) and everyone involved wants it to be as stupendous as possible.  I expect the actual book to be finished by the end of October, at which point we’ll nail down the exact release date.  I have some really fun ideas for getting the word out about it, and I am THRILLED with how it’s all coming together.  You can see some art and other bits and bobs from the book if you search the blog under the ‘Strange Attractors’ tab.

2. Letter 44 – limited series about the research items I mentioned above.  Coming Q4 from[_________]

***The details on this are going to be announced very soon, I think at NYCC.  I CANNOT WAIT for people to hear about this one.  The artist is assigned and wonderful, and (fingers crossed) it’ll be something people really connect to, especially with some real-world stuff going on that the plot connects to somewhat.  Also, it’ll be ongoing, not limited… although that will, as always, depend on you guys. Obviously not Q4 2012, though.  I think probably Q1 or early Q2 2013?

3. [Project Jazzhands] – 6-issue series being drawn by [____________]. My first foray into superheroes, sort of.  Inspired by old Stephen King books.

***This is still in progress.  It’s mostly written, and the artist is drawing it sort of on the side as he works on other projects.  I haven’t lined it up anywhere yet, but it’s turning out to be a very personal story, so I’m in no rush.

4. [Detroit book] – 5-issue limited series about bringing Detroit back from the brink.  Probably out Q2/Q3 2012.

***Nope! This was a work-for-hire thing, described in more detail in the second post linked up there.  After I turned in my outline, which everyone dug, the client decided they no longer were quite as sure about spending what they’d have to spend to make the book.  I love the story, and I still own it (they didn’t pay), so I suppose there’s a chance this could see the light of day somehow.  The longer I do this, the deeper my drawer of “maybes” gets, but that’s okay – it means I have a deeper bench of fleshed-out ideas I can draw on if I need to down the road.

5. [Untitled Edie Sedgwick project.]  Basically what it sounds like.  Due later this year, I think?

***See (4).  I believe the client still wants to do it, but he has a lot going on.  The story’s a lot of fun, and my pal JK Woodward’s on board to do the art if we get a greenlight.  I spent a lot of time reading about Ms. Sedgwick, and I think it would be fascinating to tell the story we came up with, but what are you gonna do?

6. [AR] – sci-fi action adventure.  Just about to start scripting, probably 6 issues.  Release date unclear.

***This was actually the project referred to in the second post linked above, which I ended up bailing on.  Subsequent to that, the friend of mine at that production company left as well, and it seems as if I may have dodged a bullet.  Still no regrets.  I’ve been told that you take any gig you can when you’re getting started, and I see the logic in that, but time is an irreplaceable resource, and there are certainly projects that aren’t worth taking – as long as you spend that time on something that is worth doing, like one of your own stories or a higher-profile work for hire job.

And now, some new stuff…

A. [Revival of once incredibly popular, now somewhat obscure property] – VERY VERY excited about this one, but there’s not much I can say about it yet.  I’m on board as the writer, based on several rounds of pitching and a super detailed outline that was well-received.  There are some outside factors that need to come through before it gets the full greenlight to be produced to series (or an OGN), but I’m hopeful.  Even though I’m being vague, cross your fingers for me.  It would be a very high-profile, name-making gig for me, so I’m holding my breath on it a bit.

B. [Original crime thriller sort of thing] – working on this with my friend Palle Schmidt, a very talented Danish artist.  The story’s a bit of a departure for me, but I think it’s important to stretch new muscles writing-wise.  We’ll have this out as a pitch at NYCC, and I’m hopeful that it will get some traction.  Kind of an intense story, but that’s what will make it fun.

C. [YA Adventure series] – in the works, with an artist I’ve worked with before (hmm…) and really admire.  I have a feeling that the pitch for this won’t be ready for another few months – he’s busy – but hopefully it’ll something I can talk more about in 2013.

D. Short story for the History Channel’s MANKIND series of graphic novels – THC is doing a three-volume series of big graphic novels to accompany the release of their MANKIND miniseries this fall.  The series will cover the history of humanity from a man-on-the-street perspective.  Instead of telling the story of Washington crossing the Delaware, it might be the story of one of the guys pulling an oar (for example.)  I did a story for Volume 2 related to the invention of firearms in China.  It was a blast to use my China background for a story, and what I’ve seen of the art is sweet.  The editor on the series is Joan Hilty, who’s been absolutely lovely to work with.  I’m not sure when this actually appears in the world, but I think it might be before year-end, possibly.

E. Other stuff… there’s another big work-for-hire thing I have lined up for the fall, a new 27 short story that should hit before Thanksgiving, a short film based on the 27 story “Crossroads Blues” that will hopefully go, more Strongman and more.  I’ve got more to write than I know what to do with, which is the way it should be.
Next post, NYCC!



As I mentioned in my last post, I taped a show for Comic Book Club Live on May 15, 2012, down at Piano’s, a cool bar and performance space on the Lower East Side in NYC.  The show has a loose talk-show format, with several hosts/comic-book types as well as two guests.  I was one, and the other was H. Jon Benjamin, comedian and very prominent voice actor.  My favorite of his roles is the title character on Archer, but he’s also currently on Bob’s Burgers, and he had a great (although unfortunately short-lived) live-action program called Jon Benjamin Has  A Van, plus roles on Home Movies, Dr. Katz and more.  In other words, he’s funny for a living.

I showed up for the taping and met the hosts and Jon – he’s a super nice guy, by the way.  We chatted about comics (a little – he hasn’t been a reader for a long time), the Avengers movie, what he does, what I do, what have you.

After a bit, it was time for the show to start and we headed up on stage.  House was packed, which was really cool.  I got to talk about 27: Second Set and Strange Attractors, a bit about my career so far, rock stars (dead and otherwise) and just riff a little.  All good so far, got a few laughs.  Then, they shifted focus to Jon Benjamin, who, again, does this stuff for a living, and… well.  I like to think I’m kind of quick on my feet, but the dude is a master.  It was really impressive to watch.  So, from that point I just sort of floundered, trying to keep up with the other folks on stage – at least one of whom (the guy in the vest, who you’ll see below) was also a comedian by trade – he’s a performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater, one of NYC’s premiere comedy workshops.

If you watch the show (and I’m going to embed it below, so you’ll be able to if you like), note that every time the hosts gear up a question to be answered by the guests, they discuss it first.  My thinking is that they did that to give us time to think up a funny or clever response (or at least that’s what I was trying to use it for.)  Did it work?  Well, you tell me.  Sometimes, maybe, a little.  I felt like I was riding a tricycle in a bike race where the next slowest dude still had a ten-speed (and Jon Benjamin was straddling a Ducati.)

But was it fun? Oh my god, yes.  Not to mention that the video’s only been out for two days and as of this writing it’s gotten about 3,500 views.  Not the worst promotional avenue to have taken.

Here’s the embed, as promised:

More soon!

Aww, I feel bad for this poor little blog – all neglected for the last month, and the two posts before this one were just placeholder “here’s where I’ll be signing in Seattle and Chicago!” deals.  Very little of substance, and that’s just totally unfair to the many people who come here looking for answers to the big questions.  I’ll try to do a little better in this one.

Tonight, this very night, I am appearing on Comic Book Live, the super cool live video podcast taped at Piano’s down on the Lower East Side in NYC.  Should be a bunch of fun.  I’m appearing to promote the upcoming release of 27: Second Set on May 23, as well as talk about the comics issues of the day (literally and figuratively, I think) and probably tease some upcoming projects.  The other guest on the show is H. Jon Benjamin, the brilliant comedian who voices one of my favorite animated characters of all time: Archer, from TV’s Archer.  So, I’m expecting that to just go swimmingly.  My main trick in interviews is to try to be a little bit funny – throw out the occasional line and hope I get a tiny laugh.  Tonight, the other dude on stage (either before, after or with me – I’m not sure about how they do it) is literally one of the funniest guys around.  The only strategy I can see is to hope for the audience’s pity.

But I’m sure it’ll be awesome.  It’s only an hour.  (An hour that will live forever and ever on the internet!)

Have you been reading 27 for free on Keenspot?  If not, it’s there.  We’re running all of First and Second Sets, with a new page every weekday.  I’m intending to start adding commentary to the pages soon, but it seems to require some HTML wizardry that I’m not quite capable of yet.  It’s on my list, though.  I’d like it to be like an entirely new way of experiencing the story.  And if it goes well, I’d like to debut NEW 27 stories on the site as well – but that’s still in the works.

The other big news recently was the official announcement of Strange Attractors at C2E2.  The book is coming along beautifully, and the response at the con was incredibly promising.  I’ve learned not to get too excited about books before they’re done, and before they’re actually read by anyone, but… I’m optimistic.  You can get a bit of a recap on the announcement panel here.  We also did up an amazing teaser poster that we’ve been giving away at cons, but in case you haven’t seen me at one recently and want to print up your own, here you go:

Design by Robert Saywitz. Purty, no?

As cool as that map is, it’s just a fragment of the incredible work the art team is doing on the book.  I’m always in awe of my artistic collaborators on any project, but this one… well, you’ll see.

I think I’m going to head out to get myself psyched up for this show tonight (and if you see this in time, feel free to come out and support), but there will be plenty more to talk about in the next few weeks.  Tons going on.  My 2012 so far = happy exhaustion.

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