My Desktop 10/30/14

Desktop 10/30/14

It’s early. Ally has packed up her munchkins and headed off to work. Today I don’t have to be in to my day job until 10am, although I usually go in early because I love my job and the folks there.

But this morning I have some sketching to do for a spell. We are between chapters for the next week on God Child, so I use the time to try to learn something new, whether it’s a photoshop setting or feature, or brushing up on the actual craft of drawing.

Like most comic artists I’ve had a lot of aspiring creators ask me “What tools do you use?” so I thought I’d share a photo of my desktop (while it’s clear of clutter!) and what I’m currently using. read more…


Ally says to me… “Hey, I just saw on Facebook that HULK has a beard???” Lo and behold he does indeed have beard and a fantastic mustache to match. But I couldn’t help but think…. what the heck is up with his hand??? I know, I know, the whole “I’M POWERFUL!!!” hand pose…. but to m  It looks like he’s holding something…Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 6.24.38 PM

So I then had to make him holding something…


And then I realized he kinda looks a little like Santa Claus…. SANTA HULK, GO!!!

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 6.39.58 PM

I figured what the heck, I’d actually put the photoshop file together for any fellow artists who want to join in on the fun. There’s a layer you simply pop things into his hand. There is also an optional Santa hat you can turn off and on. You can download the PSD file here. (dropbox link)

If you’re feeling it, go ahead and hashtag it on social media…. #hulkholds or #SantaHulk so everyone can find em on twitter, tumblr or whatever.


Pumpkin Spice

Apologies to Peter David, George Perez and Marvel Comics. You are all amazing. :)

Back in the Hustle


Ally and I take a break after a long comicon weekend.

“We’ve been in this hustle called comics for a long long time.”- Ed Piskor, upon being being introduced to Ally at Pittsburgh Comicon.

It’s been a busy summer and early fall. We’re pretty much done with comic conventions for the year (maybe December show) – Response to the God Child project has been really great and now it’s time for us to hunker down and get back to work on finishing the first big book to deliver to our publisher, which we are really excited about. (more on that at a later date.)

Getting back to shows and meeting fans old and new was really great. There was one fella who said he’s been looking for me for years to get me to sign some Hero By Night books and his FCBD edition. Over and over again I was asked for more Hero By Night and praised for those stories. I always see the collectors coming and stopping with their big carts when they see me and start paging through to find what they need signed. I can’t explain it, but it’s a really cool feeling to know that something I did has been cherished or put away. It really makes me think about my work and the craft differently. I’m of course asked for more, and there are more stories to tell. I may be up for it soon. Lots of things have changed, one important one being that certain entities don’t exist anymore and contracts have expired. I do believe ALL of the rights have reverted back to me. I’ll decide what i’m doing pretty soon, but it most likely will not involve another publisher of any kind. Just me.

Even though we went to the biggest convention in the world, and maybe the smallest, Pittsburgh Comicon really was Ally and I’s first “real” comicon working together. I was asked to host a panel on Saturday for digital comics and creative partnerships and I started off by telling my path to where I was now…. and essentially my “career” began at Pittsburgh Comicon in 1995. I never really thought about it in depth before. It’s been 19 years since I took this stuff as serious as I could. 13 of which were full time freelancing years. Some good, some bad, but I just kept trucking along as I matured. I went from hand stapled minicomics, self published comics, being solicited by indy publishers, freelancing for great indy writers, then crossing over into webcomics land (one of the first young punks to put their comics online when people said it was dumb and crazy) then finally “selling out” and then back to indy comics again.

I took a small detour for a couple years away from “the hustle”, as Ed Piskor calls it, but it feels really great to be back and actually feel like I’m back 100%. All of the good and bad experiences I’ve had over the last decade in comics and my personal life have ultimately made me a better storyteller.

It’s also been great to know my work or past articles are still inspiring and helping others coming up in the hustle. I would really like to start blogging some articles like that again. If you have any suggestions for topics in and around self publishing, comics, drawing or marketing and the business side, drop me a line or comment here.

Our new story is trucking along… you can read and follow along weekly for free at – Thank you!!!

Review: KING KIRBY the play.


Jack drawing…. (photo by me)

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of driving to New York City to see the “KING KIRBY” play at “The Brick” theater in Brooklyn. A few weeks ago my pal Lucky the Painproof Man shared the kickstarter link with me and I told my girlfriend “wow, there’s going to be a play about Jack! I wish I could make it to NYC to see that”– and on Father’s Day she surprised me with the tickets on behalf of my boys. It’s the most thoughtful gift I can ever remember receiving.

The play itself opened while people were being seated and you’re to Jack’s back as he’s drawing away at the drawing board. It gave me chills as I imagined being a fly on the wall watching him work. And then the auctioneer walks in to start auctioning off his work at Sotheby’s as he stands there listening in semi-disgust…. he stops the auctioneer before she can get to saying the price his original art has sold for. The playbill is a mock cover of the Sotheby’s auction that was held in June of 1994, only months after Kirby’s death.

Anyone who knows me or has been around my office knows that Jack is a big inspiration to me.  Not really because of his art, but because of his true character and his amazing work ethic. He knew that the magic was in the work. In the “craft” as Will Eisner called it. I relate to that “spark” that comes. The spark that has molded my life and, like Jack, pulled me out of a rough childhood and the feeling of being able to entertain and help others through with stories told in sequential art.

Jack and Joe.

Jack and Joe. (photo by Hunter Canning)

The play bills itself as The hysterical and heartbreaking true story of artist Jack Kirby, “the King of the Comics.” And it truly was heartbreaking in the most amazing of ways. After the play we were invited out by the co-playwriter, Crystal Skillman and she asked me as kind of a Kirby expert what parts surprised me or was there anything that I had learned. Well, I was familiar with every story told throughout the play, but that didn’t matter. What did impress the hell of of me was how well this play was put together and how much history they packed into 75 minutes.

The actors were outstanding. Steven Rattazzi who plays Kirby really made you feel it. The spark. Or when he would stop to address the audience about what was really important or how the character really felt. Especially Kirby’s thoughts on World War II and the violence he had witnessed and how it changed him as a man but made him understand being human a lot more. Joe Mathers who portrays Joe Simon really did a great job of playing the friend that Kirby had in Joe. I love how this play really captured the friendship and amazing team of “Simon and Kirby” that was the spark that created modern comic book culture all around us.


Jack proposes to Roz. (photo by Hunter Canning)

And then there is the timeless huckster, Stan Lee. Nat Cassidy did a great job in portraying the funky flashman, double talking charlatan. He nailed Stan Lee’s voice. And the over the top dialogue that Stan was known for ranting in normal conversations. I got a great laugh when they introduced his character by having him playing the flute (poorly) in the Timely offices and annoying the fuck out of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon. They did a great job of showing the weird nepotism that went on at Timely/Marvel.

Lastly, King Kirby also has elements of a being a love story. They maybe didn’t focus on this part enough, but with the limited time they had to scrunch down into 75 minutes it’s understandable. The story of Jack and Roz is very endearing. Roz, played by Amy Lee Pearsall, took care of Jack and became his armor over the years. I couldn’t help but get choked up a few times in those scenes. When they met and Jack asked her up to see his “etchings” – and the scene where Jack was going off to war and pulled out a ring and she freaked out, but he was humble and said “Well, don’t be too excited, I’m going to war” – And Roz had him promise to draw and send back all he saw. You see over time Jack was becoming a jaded Yankee and thought he was devolving into an apathetic nazi killing machine, and then a letter from Roz would come and it kept him human. Reminded him of what was important.

I really want this play to be a movie. It sheds a light on something the public doesn’t know. In the play Stan Lee’s character says in a dream sequence that the public doesn’t really care about the real story. That sometimes you just have to “make stuff up”. With the success of all the Marvel movies based on characters that Jack created and Stan took credit for, I really think that story in an of itself deserves to be told and could be even, dare I say it, Oscar worthy. I mean… the story about the guy who really made all the things that blew Hollywood up, but he never got credit for.

The other thing that kept making me tear up was the the thought of Kirby’s family coming to see this play. And what an honor it is to their father and grandfather. I wasn’t the only one in the audience moved to tears. I really hope they get a chance to see this. And if they don’t get to see the play, I hope they get to see a version of this on the big screen one day soon. Bravo to husband and wife team Crystal Skillman and Fred Van Lente for making this happen.

Standing ovation.

(All photos except the first one by Hunter Canning, thank you!)

Ninja on a MotorcycleNinja on a Motorcycle