Monday, August 29, 2011

Only 2 Spots Left in Comic Book Writing Class!

Our next Intro to Comic Book Writing course is still two and a half weeks away, but it's certain to be sold out shortly -- we only have two slots left! If you were thinking about joining this session, beginning September 15, 2011, don't delay!

The course will be taught by former Marvel and IDW Editor and writer, Andy Schmidt. During his time at Marvel, Andy worked on nearly every major character in the Marvel canon, and edited hit titles such as X-Factor, the Annihilation saga, Alias, and more. At IDW, he managed major franchises like GI Joe and Transformers. He is also the author of the Eagle Award-winning book, The Insider's Guide to Creating Comics and Graphic Novels, published by Impact Books.

Not only will you learn comic book writing from a pro, but the course is packed with practical, real-world advice on the industry and "breaking in" to help you pursue your career in comics!

That's why Comics Experience alum, Nick Spencer, recently tweeted:
"For all aspiring comic pros asking for advice on craft/breaking in, I once again highly recommend Andy Schmidt's @ComicExperience courses."
A few years ago, Nick had to move to New York City to take Comics Experience classes (check out his guest blog here to read that tale). But you don't have to move!

Our courses are now offered LIVE, online, and you can attend from wherever you live. You'll be able to see your instructor and his desktop, interact with your classmates, and discuss your classwork in real time. And you'll be able to communicate with your classmates all week long in a special, dedicated online forum for just you and your class.

But only 2 more people will be able to join this session, and it will be months before we can offer another section. If you've been thinking about taking this class, sign up now before we sell out!

Introduction to Comic Book Writing with Andy Schmidt
Begins September 15, 2011!

If you want to make comics, write or draw comics, or improve as a comics creator, you'll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!

Posted by Rob Anderson
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

WORKSHOP GUEST: Jeff Lemire on Sweet Tooth!

The next Comics Experience Creators Workshop live session will feature a guest appearance by Jeff Lemire, the multiple award-winning writer and artist of the Essex County trilogy, The Nobody, Sweet Tooth, Animal Man, and Frankenstein!

This will be a Book Club session, and we'll be having an in-depth discussion on Jeff's Vertigo title, Sweet Tooth. The session will cover both Volume 1 ("Out of the Deep Woods") & Volume 2 ("In Captivity").

In the tradition of The Road and The Stand, Sweet Tooth presents a bold new post-apocalyptic vision of the fate of humankind, and the unexpected friendships that can emerge in the darkest of places.

Our LIVE, online meeting with Jeff Lemire will occur in the regular Workshop timeslot, Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at 8pm ET, one hour earlier than usual, to accommodate Jeff's schedule.

The Comics Experience Creators Workshop sessions take place every month, and give members real-world knowledge that will help them succeed in their comics career.

It's not too late to join us before Jeff Lemire's session, but if you miss it, a recording of the entire discussion will be available to Workshop members for a few weeks.

If you want to make comics, write or draw comics, or improve as a comics creator, you'll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!

Posted by Rob Anderson
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

COMMUNITY NEWS: Comics Experience at Baltimore Comic-Con 2011

The 12th Annual Baltimore Comic-Con took place on August 20-21, 2011, and Comics Experience alums and Creators Workshop members were everywhere!

At one point, Workshop member, Joey Groah, tweeted that the BOOM! Studios panel audience had "@ComicExperience member overload" because we had so many folks there!

Baltimore Comic-Con is a fantastic show for comics creators on both sides of the table, with crowds that seemed record-breaking to us, perhaps due to the appearance of Stan Lee. But the large Artists Alley portion of the convention still allowed for lots of direct interaction with creators.

Saturday night, we held a Comics Experience Meet-Up at Tir Na Nog on the Inner Harbor with alums, workshop members, and friends.

It was great to have a "real world" get-together with friends who we interact with on a daily basis in our online classes and forums, but don't always get to see face-to-face (unless you count webcams)!

As you can imagine, much of the conversation centered around making comics, and it was clear a lot of exciting work is in the pipeline.

Members/alums in attendance included Paul Allor, Rob Anderson, James Babbo, Gannon Beck, Amy Chu, Scott Dubin, Janine Frederick, Ken Frederick, Joey Groah, Elizabeth Amber Love, Dan Rivera, and George O'Connor (who joined us after the picture shown here).

Thanks to everyone who joined us, and we look forward to the next Comics Experience meet-up at New York Comic-Con 2011!

Posted by Rob Anderson
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Monday, August 22, 2011

WORKSHOP GUESTS: Adam Withers & Comfort Love

At the next Comics Experience Creators Workshop live session, our special guests will be the husband and wife comics-creating team of Comfort Love and Adam Withers.

Adam and Comfort are the Harvey Award-nominated creators of the comic book series Rainbow in the Dark and The Uniques, as well as the Harvey Award-nominated anthology, Unique Tales.

They may be known for their creation, The Uniques, but the creators themselves are also quite unique in that they make a full-time living at comic books, completely outside of the traditional Direct Market. Comfort and Adam sell their comics and artwork directly to their fans, at conventions, via print-on-demand, and via digital downloads.

Join us for what's sure to be a fascinating discussion of their work, their collaborative creative process, and their approach to the business of selling comics.

In the meantime, you can check out the free first issue of The Uniques and Rainbow in the Dark here:

The Uniques #1 (free PDF or CBZ)
Rainbow in the Dark #1 (free PDF or CBZ)

The Comics Experience Creators Workshop sessions take place every month, and give members real-world knowledge that will help them succeed in their comics career.

It's not too late to join us before the session at 9pm Eastern Time on August 23, 2011, but if you miss it, a recording of the entire discussion will be available to Workshop members for a few weeks. And there’s still plenty of time to sign up before next month’s session which will feature another very special guest we'll announce shortly.

If you want to make comics, draw comics, or improve as a comics creator, you'll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!

Posted by Rob Anderson
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

COMMUNITY NEWS: Paul Allor Releases Clockwork, Volume 1

Comics Experience Writing alum and Creators Workshop member Paul Allor released his first book this week, a collection of short comics titled Clockwork, Vol. 1.

The book contains twelve stories, written by Paul and drawn by different artists, including Comics Experience art alums and workshop members Ken Frederick and Carl Peterson, alongside well-known artists including JM Ken Niimura (I Kill Giants), Brett Weldele (Surrogates) and Nikki Cook (Memoir).

These stories defy genre lines, taking you on a journey from the Old West to outer space, from death row to a child's home, in a book that combines dynamic storytelling and true heart.

Comics Experience founder Andy Schmidt noted:
"Paul Allor is continually testing boundaries -- both his own as a writer and those of the comics medium. Every story in this impressive debut book contains something new -- something reached for -- and the result is awesomeness obtained."
Paul recently wrote about the lessons learned from Comics Experience in producing his book in a special guest blog.

In addition to those listed above, the book also features artwork by Silvio dB, Ben Dewey, Jesse Hamm, Aaron Houston, Leandro Panganiban, Borch Penya and Juan Romera, with cover colors by Matt Wilson.

You can read Clockwork, Vol. 1 online for a limited time at, and can order the print version in the Clock Shop.

Posted by Rob Anderson
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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

GUEST BLOG: Shaun Manning on Hell, Nebraska & Comics Experience

A guest blog by Comics Experience alum and Creators Workshop member, Shaun Manning, discussing his new comic book, Hell, Nebraska.

So, the comic I created for my Comics Experience Advanced Writing Class will be published as a hardcover original next year from one of the major indie publishers...

But that's not what I'd like to talk about for right now.

Today, I'll be talking mostly about Hell, Nebraska, a born-digital series that's now available on Graphicly and soon on iVerse, as well as the role Comics Experience has played in putting this book together.

Hell, Nebraska and the forthcoming, earlier-written comic aren't wholly unrelated—they share an artist, the phenomenal Anna Wieszczyk, and HN as it currently exists was somewhat born out of my impatience with the print publishing process.

More directly, though, Hell, Nebraska was born out of food poisoning and a bad Spectre comic during my last night in New York.

New York was great for a lot of reasons. I got to meet a lot of awesome people, in and outside of comics, cover some amazing events for Comic Book Resources, and take Comics Experience's Intro and Advanced writing classes live before Andy Schmidt packed up for the West Coast.

Several of my classmates from the Advanced class put together an anthology comic for New York Comic-Con, and my story from that, Stop POTUS, has also appeared on Top Shelf 2.0. Andy wrote the intro for our anthology. So New York was a terribly useful experience, but soon my wife and I found ourselves heading back to Chicago.

My last night in town was spent in a largely empty apartment—my wife and our furniture had arrived in Chicago some weeks prior—with a small stack of the week's comics and an unfortunate parcel of fast food. At some point after I'd begun sweating, but before I'd slumped incapacitated on the floor, I read a comic featuring DC's latest stab at the Spectre—it may have been Crispus Allen, it might have been post-Infinite Crisis, I don't recall exactly.

What I do remember is that the high concept was that the Spectre wanted to be a Spirit of Redemption rather than the Spirit of Vengeance—and that this was not the first time DC had tried this. Because the first time, it was interesting—"oh, what does it mean for this primal force to turn over a new leaf?" That was part of the Hal Jordan Spectre's schtick, and kind of cool. But this time, my immediate thought was, "well, if the Spectre isn't going to be the Spirit of Vengeance, who is?"

In the real world, there are all sorts of complexities and shades of grey about crime and criminals. In the real world, I believe in innocent until proven guilty, I'm against the death penalty, I favor rehabilitation wherever possible, and so forth. But comics, man, if Batman punches out a thug, you know he deserved it.

It's not novel to say that comics, among other things, serve something of a wish fulfillment fantasy. I also don't think it's a secret that we—even the most liberal among us, and I consider myself to be pretty far to the left side of that spectrum—believe the truly wicked deserve punishment. Not the petty criminals, not those driven to desperation, or people who grew up in conditions that left them little other choice, but the absolute worst that humanity has to offer.

In the real world, many of these people escape punishment—Slobodan Milosevic died while on trial for crimes against humanity, and many others are able to evade the law entirely, sometimes because their destructive acts are not even illegal. In the real world, bad guys sometimes win. That shouldn't be the case in comics. At very least, if Doctor Light gets up to some nasty business on the JLA Watchtower, the Spectre should be right there ready to melt him into a candle.

Which happened a bit later, in, I think, Blackest Night. I didn't know that during my last night in New York.

So, writhing around on the filthy hardwood floor trying to hold my guts in, I wrote the first five pages of Hell, Nebraska in my head, and followed that swirling fever dream through the outline of a larger story.

Abaddon, the Devil/Spectre character, is not the good guy, however. He serves that purpose that I, in my fevered state, found so necessary, but from a very human—and thus flawed—perspective. Make no mistake, the people he targets deserve retribution—but of what kind? To what degree? He knows their crimes, infallibly, but the judgment is his own, which creates some problems, or at least tension. His opposite number—who happens to be Abaddon's student in his human guise—is faced with the same problem; a divine power tempered by human judgment. They will influence each other in significant ways, and despite the teacher/student power dynamic, this will be far from a lopsided exchange.

Putting this together as a comic came a bit later. I found Anna by posting on one of the forums I'd heard about from Comics Experience—I forget which—and we started working on the script I'd produced for the Advanced class. I'd actually intended an entirely different style, but as soon as I saw her work, I knew that she was right for the project. This would prove to be the case with several of our collaborations.

Soon, I'd had one project with Anna accepted, we were pitching another, but either of these would take quite a bit of time before anyone would read them. I wanted to get something out into the world now. Or now-ish. After having a friend from the Advanced writing class give me some notes on the first issue (now I'm in the Creators Workshop, I'll post future issues to that forum for critique), I sent it off to Anna to see if she'd be interested in it and what she thought about doing it as a web comic serial. She said, "I like this. A lot." Which is a terribly encouraging thing to hear from an artist.

Format-wise, I decided that, because this was being offered online, I need not stick to 22 pages per issue. But, if this were to be collected, it should still be manageable in 22-page chunks. In an effort to post content at more regular intervals (despite the fact that I work another job, as does Anna), I decided to put up 11-page issues, which also creates twice as many cliffhangers for the full-length story. So Hell, Nebraska will run eight 11-page issues, rounding out to the size of a standard four-issue mini. That's volume one, anyway.

Issue #1 went up first on Graphicly mainly because I like their interface and because Micah Baldwin is so readily accessible. They're also doing some inventive things with embedding comics and were the first out of the gate with an Android app, which was big for me. iVerse has also been great to work with and I'm hoping to get distribution on some of the other distributors soon.

Comics Experience provided a good deal of the background knowledge necessary to see this project through—and, perhaps more importantly, gave me a community to critique my work and allow me to critique others.

It's difficult to overstate the value of having several people whose opinions you trust look at your work: if one person doesn't like what you've written, well, he's an ay-hole; if there are nine people poking holes in your story, it probably needs work. The other side is also true: one person praising a story doesn't necessarily mean it's good, but if a roomful of writers likes it, there's a chance you might really have something. The Creators Workshop is thus incredibly useful for sharing regular feedback, and provides a continuing value for writers and artists at any level.

Hell, Nebraska is available right now on

Posted by Rob Anderson
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Monday, August 15, 2011

Comics Experience Community News 8/15/2011

More exciting news from Comics Experience alumni and Creators Workshop members!

Artist and Comics Experience alum Joe Lalich had a story published just last week in DC Comics' Batman 80-Page Giant 2011 #1!

"One Lock, Many Keys" is a ten-page story telling the tale of a child with developmental disabilities and his encounter with Batman and Solomon Grundy.

The story was written by Joe Caramagna, with pencils by Joe Lalich, inks by Jack Purcell, and colors by Will Quintana.

Batman 80-Page Giant 2011 is still on the stands right now at your local comic shop!

Comics Experience alums from last fall's Introduction to Comic Book Writing class have published an anthology of their stories from the class entitled, Out of our Minds: Tales from the Comics Experience.

The 76-page trade paperback contains 12 stories, covering a wide range of genres and styles -- from tales of the heart's longing, heroism, and high adventure to stories of emerging madness, darkness, and apocalypse.

The stories were written by Comics Experience alums Paul Allor, Alexander Bagnara, Luke Barnett, Kevin Byrne, Blake Campbell, Matt Dursin, Janine Frederick, Ian Hewlett, Don McMillan, Dwain C. Pruitt, Steve Schultz, and Timothy Shanahan, many of whom are also members of the Comic Creators Workshop.

The book features artwork by Monica Combs, Silvio dB, Ian Dorian, Bec Eakett, J.C. Grande, HdE, John Hunt, Leandro Panganiban, Borch Penya, Mark Louie Vuycankiat, and Comics Experience art alum and workshop member Ken Frederick.

Out of our Minds is available now via Indy Planet!

Comics Experience writing alum and Creators Workshop member, Marta Tanrikulu, has had her second comic story published in the Poe Twisted anthology being put out by Red Stylo Media.

The anthology contains 13 tales of horror inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's stories and poetry.

In "Zombie Cruise," a bio-medical thriller written by Marta Tanrikulu with art by Mark Mullaney, trouble and plague break out on a Hawaii-bound cruise ship. The story is based on the Poe tale, "The Oblong Box."

The digital version, which includes exclusive content, is available now via several sites and the printed trade paperback will release on August 21, 2011.

Congrats to all our or alums and workshop members!

If you have community news, drop a line to

Posted by Rob Anderson
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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

GUEST BLOG: Robert Atkins on the Intro to Art course

In this guest blog, Robert Atkins, artist on Snake Eyes, GI JOE, and Heroes for Hire, and Instructor of the Comics Experience Introduction to Comic Book Art class, shares his thoughts on the course. Classes will be held live, online, beginning August 30, 2011.

The Intro to Comic Art class provides a great opportunity for me to teach both new and experienced artists about the foundational rules of drawing comics. Within six weeks, you’ll create a portfolio-ready sample story from scratch. We take a professional script and get right to work applying the compositional and storytelling rules gleaned from the lectures each week.

I’ve been teaching this course for over a year now and have had the chance to see many of my students grow throughout the course. Some even come back a second time to put it all into practice again. With each lecture, I’ll lead you through the process of penciling a comic book from start to finish. We’ll also go over cover design and help you create a cover image appropriate to your portfolio sample.

I’ve had the experience of going through the graduate program at the Savannah College of Art and Design’s Sequential Art Department, followed by seven years of work experience drawing monthly comics in the industry. Throughout that time, I’ve found some pretty standard rules that will help you achieve clear storytelling and a finished style that editors are looking for.

Also, during that time, I’ve actively attended many of the comic book conventions across the country and can help advise each student on how to make the most of their convention experience, leading to everyone’s end goal -- getting that job in comics!

I think the class is at its best when supplemented with the Creator’s Workshop offered by Comics Experience. With the Intro to Comic Art class, you’ll get a free month’s access to the Workshop, and I would encourage all the students to make the most of it and explore the site to find how it best suits them. There you can post your work regularly and have industry professionals and other artists comment and critique your work to help you improve.

The Workshop has become a community of like-minded storytellers that are able to encourage and support each other as we all work towards becoming better in our desired fields. If you enjoy the comics art class, the Workshop is the best way to keep that going, as I’m available there to continue working with you as you go on your way.

So, come prepared to do the work! Like most things in life, you’ll get out of the course as much as you put into it. Bring to the class your excitement for comics, and your creativity and ideas, and I'll give you the foundation and tools you’ll need to put your passion into story.

The next session of the live, online Introduction to Comic Book Art class begins August 30, 2011. Enrollment is still open, but seats are limited, so sign up now!

Posted by Rob Anderson
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Sunday, August 7, 2011

GUEST BLOG: Paul Allor uses lessons learned to produce Clockwork

A guest blog by Paul Allor discussing his new anthology, Clockwork, Volume 1

In less than a week, my first comic book will come off the printers, and begin a 1,000-mile journey to my home. A few days after that, I’ll hold a copy in my hands for the first time.

This is, to put it mildly, a pretty awesome feeling. Clockwork, Volume 1 contains twelve stories, each drawn by a different artist, including JM Ken Niimura (I Kill Giants), Brett Weldele (The Surrogates) and Nikki Cook (Memoir).

A year ago, a project of this scope, with this artistic talent on board, this early in my career, would have seemed impossible. But the knowledge, skills and support I’ve gained through Comics Experience made the impossible possible.

My Comics Experience involvement began in Andy Schmidt’s Intro to Writing class, where each student completes a script for a five-page comic. Andy taught us that writing a five-page story is more difficult than a longer work, and that if you can tell a complete and compelling story in five pages, you can also do it in twenty-two.

After the class ended, I decided to put those lessons to use. I figured that if writing short comics is more difficult than longer works, then I should continue to hone my craft on five-page stand-alone stories. Fast forward to less than a year later, and I’ve written twenty-four of them. The first twelve appear in Clockwork, Volume 1.

The stories are all over the genre map, from wacky sci-fi action to quiet slice-of-life, and everything in between. But they have one thing in common: every one of them incorporates the lessons I learned from Andy Schmidt. Every one of them is a call back to my writing class, where, step by step, Andy took us through the process of developing, plotting and scripting a comic story.

Andy taught us the basics of story and the importance of character. He taught us about conflict and turning points and the rules of good dialogue. Whether I’m writing about space pirates, Old West cowboys or monster hunters, those same building blocks apply.

But my Comics Experience involvement didn’t end there. I also took the Lettering and Production class, taught by veteran letterer Dave Sharpe. This class gave me a newfound respect for letterers, and allowed me to letter nearly every story in my book.

I also recently completed the Introduction to Comic Art class, taught by Robert Atkins. I’ll never be a great artist (or even a good artist!), but I took the class to learn about the fundamentals of sequential storytelling, and Robert provided exactly that. I believe the insight I gained in that class will make me a better writer, and a better collaborator.

Finally, I’m also a member of the Comics Experience Creators Workshop. The workshop is a true community, where writers and artists come together to critique each other’s work, trade industry news, and discuss collaborations.

I met two of the artists in Clockwork, Ken Frederick and Carl Peterson, through the workshop. Additionally, several of the stories in Clockwork were put through the workshop, and I’m continually amazed by the depth and quality of the critiques I’ve received there.

If you want to be a comics creator, Comics Experience is the place to start. Trust me, I know.

If you’d like to check out Clockwork, you can read it for free in Web comics form at, and purchase the hardcopy at Drop Paul a line at to let him know what you think!

Posted by Rob Anderson
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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Andy Schmidt on Pitching: Get Comfortable!

In last week’s Creators Workshop live session, Comics Experience founder Andy Schmidt provided tips and answered questions about pitching projects to editors and publishers.

Andy’s presentation was filled with information gleaned from Andy’s career as a comic book editor and a freelance comics writer.

And one piece of advice stood out: Before pitching a story, be comfortable and confident enough to answer any questions that come your way. If an editor asks any questions about your character, your story and your world, you should be prepared to answer them, without scrambling to fill in the blanks.

Andy noted that different writers can reach this comfort level in different ways. At the beginning of his time as a freelance comics writer, Andy would write out an “extremely tight outline” for the entire mini-series or story arc.

“It would be a scene-by-scene, and even a page-by-page breakdown,” Andy said. “Sometimes, I would even write the first script.”

The pitch itself included only the bare-bones plot and character elements. But by preparing so much extra material, Andy was confident that if editors had questions, he would have the answers.

Eventually, Andy said, he became comfortable working from a shorter outline, or notes focused on character motivation and turning points.

However, this comfort level isn’t only for writers. Andy noted that artists should also be extremely familiar with the characters and the world. Adding storytelling through character design, while creating appealing, appropriate artwork, can help a pitch stand out, Andy said. And when someone asks a question about the character designs, or the world, the artist can quickly provide an answer, sometimes with the help of a sketch.

This was just one small part of Andy’s presentation on pitching. Andy also discusses pitching in the Comics Experience Intro to Writing class. Additionally, members of the Creators Workshop often share their pitches with the workshop, to receive critiques and gain advice on making them stronger.

A recording of the entire discussion will be available to Workshop members for a few weeks, so it's not too late to check out the full session.

Comics Experience Creators Workshop live session, Adam and Comfort Love will be discussing how they make a living on the convention circuit -- attending conventions nearly year-round -- as well as answering questions about their Harvey Award-nominated comics work.

Comics Experience live sessions take place every month, giving members real-world knowledge that will help them succeed in their comics career. There’s still plenty of time to sign up before next month’s session. We hope to see you there.

-- Posted by Paul Allor

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lettering Class Delayed to 8/8/11 -- Still open spots!

Forces of Nature (i.e., severe lightning storms in instructor Dave Sharpe's neck of the woods) required delaying the start of our next Comic Book Lettering and Production course one week to Monday, August 8, 2011.

We still have a few spots open, so if you were thinking about joining, but procrastinated a bit too long, this lightning storm is clearly a sign from above that now is the time to sign up!

If you need additional reasons, just check out our previous post about saving money, making your work look professional, and improving your storytelling!

We hope to see you there.

Posted by Rob Anderson
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