Monday, October 31, 2011

GUEST BLOG: What George O'Connor Learned from the Convention Circuit

In this guest blog, writer George O'Connor, Comics Experience alum and Creator’s Workshop member, talks about the most important lesson he's learned from the comic book convention circuit this year.

Here’s what I learned from exhibiting at ten conventions this year:
If you dream of making a comic, DO IT!
Please, trust me on this. Get your butt in gear, make your book, go to some shows and DO IT. It’ll be so worth it.

For 20 years now, I’ve been doing DIY projects: CDs, short films, web series -- and doing the comic book Healed has been the most rewarding creative endeavor I’ve had yet. Comic book people just seem to be the nicest people and if you have a book that interests them, they’ll support you.

Maybe it’s the structure of comic conventions? Or that fans of the medium walk in with an open mind and WANT to find something new? Maybe it's because comics aren’t mainstream "cool," so we all band together to support each other. Maybe it’s the low dollar entry point, where people feel comfortable taking a chance for $2-$4? And maybe it just doesn’t matter.

Through Comics Experience, I’ve met dozens and dozens of creative people who have great stories and visions –- many I get to call friends –- and I want them ALL to experience the confidence, excitement, and enthusiasm I got to feel this last year...
  • People buying all four issues of Healed just based off the pitch.
  • People buying two issues and then coming back later and saying, "I read the first two issues and I NEED the next two."
  • People remembering the book from last year and wanting to know what new issues are out.
  • The kid who *ran* up to our booth because he couldn’t wait to buy new issues and his friends saying, "He wouldn’t stop talking about your book the whole drive up here."
I want ALL OF YOU to experience that. There is nothing like it in the world. And there has never been a better time to make your book and get out there.

Print-on-demand services make small print runs possible. You can bypass the whole printing process completely and put your book on the web or available through And if you’re part of the Comics Experience Creators Workshop, you’ve got an incredibly supportive group to fall back on and learn from. (Look, I’m not just shilling Comics Experience; it’s the honest truth).

Do it. Do it. Do it. Use my little wins as the fuel to get out there and make your own victories. Talk to other creators and learn from them and get excited. There’s no reason to wait. You don’t have to get anyone’s permission.

If you have a story to tell, there’s someone out there that wants to read it. And there is no better feeling.

That’s what I learned from going to ten cons this year and I want to see YOU behind the table with me in 2012!

-- George O'Connor

George likes to write. A lot. He’s currently writing the ongoing comic series, "Healed," for Homeless Comics and has contributed stories to several anthologies published by Elevator Pitch Press. He was also the creator behind the webseries "664-The Neighbor of the Beast." And somehow he also juggles playing guitar in his metal and punk rock bands. By day, George is a mild-mannered copywriter in the advertising world. He once put a truck on the moon.

If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color 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, October 26, 2011

WORKSHOP GUESTS: Mark Waid & Jim Zub in November!

We have two exciting guests coming up in November at the Comics Experience Creators Workshop, and there's still time for you to join us at these live, online sessions!

On Tuesday, November 15, 2011, our next guest will be writer Jim Zubkavich (aka Jim Zub), where we'll be having a Book Club discussion of the runaway Image hit Skullkickers, Volume 1!

Skullkickers is a sword & sorcery action-comedy comic about two hard-headed mercenaries killing monsters and causing havoc in their search for money, fame and adventure.

With Skullkickers , Volume 2 arriving in stores the very next day (November 16th), it's a perfect time to check out Volume 1 and discuss it with the writer!

Jim Zub has also kindly agreed to be our guest script critiquer for the upcoming cycle, with Robert Atkins doing a review for artists. Plus, Andy Schmidt will be doing reviews of scripts and art as well.

And, for our next live Workshop session on Tuesday, November 29, 2011, we'll be joined by special guest Mark Waid!

With over twenty years of experience in his field, Mark Waid has written a wider variety of well-known characters than any other American comics author, from Superman to the Justice League to Spider-Man to Archie and hundreds of others.

We'll be discussing a wide range of comics-related topics with Mark, but in particular we'll be discussing his thoughts on the "digital revolution" in comics, as it relates to people creating new works today. Mark has been vocal (and fascinating) on this topic at this year's ICv2 Conference and at SDCC. He pulls no punches, so it should be quite a conversation! (Photo of Mark Waid by Luigi Novi.)

Join us at the Creators Workshop to take part in these sure-to-be great discussions with Jim and Mark!

If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color 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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Monday, October 24, 2011

GUEST BLOG: Gannon Beck on Teaching Talent

In this guest blog, artist Gannon Beck, Comics Experience alum and Creator’s Workshop member, discusses his experience as a student in the recent Introduction to Comic Book Art class. You can check out one of Gannon's pages from the class below.

Who is your favorite teacher?

I’ve never had an answer to this question. Early on I wanted to study illustration, but few opportunities were offered in my academic sphere. I’ve always been able to learn more through books than through the teachers I encountered.

That was before I signed up for Introduction to Comic Book Art at Comics Experience, taught by Robert Atkins. Robert is an amazing illustrator who has worked on titles for Marvel, DC and IDW. Incidentally, his teaching is on par with his art.

The class Robert taught spanned over six sessions. During that time, the students worked to create four pages (one cover and three pages of sequentials). We built the pages up from roughs, then to breakdowns, then to final pencils -- all the while getting critiques on how to make our pages better.

Robert has the uncanny ability to make artists feel good about what they have produced even while covering their art in corrections.

During class time, Robert critiqued artwork in Photoshop (which we could see in our browser) and made corrections to the artwork by flipping panels, enlarging, adding, or deleting parts to improve the art turned in. At the end of a critique, rather than feel bad that I didn’t do the art better, I felt invigorated to have new artistic weapons in my arsenal. As a result of Robert’s instruction, I left every class a better artist.

I improved a great deal during the class and enjoyed it the whole way. The other artists that participated in the class seemed to have had a similar experience. It was great at the end to see everyone’s pages and how much we all improved.

I don’t consider myself a great artist yet, but I feel that I’ve been firmly placed on the path to become one. That’s what a great teacher does. Now, if anyone asks me who my favorite teacher is I can tell them: It’s Robert Atkins.

-- Gannon Beck

If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color 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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New! Comic Book Editing & Project Management Class Open for Enrollment!

Comics Experience is proud to announce we are launching a brand new course on November 10, 2011 -- Comic Book Editing and Project Management! Enrollment is now open!

The new course will be taught by former Marvel and IDW editor, Andy Schmidt.

Andy's techniques and editorial approach have helped craft some of Marvel's biggest events in the last 10 years (Civil War, Annihilation, X-Men: Messiah Complex) as well as brought licensed franchises to new creative heights while at IDW (G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Dungeons & Dragons).

If you want to create great comics, whether self-publishing or working for a comics publisher, this is the course for you!

In this four-week intensive class, you’ll learn how to:
  • find collaborators;
  • manage a budget and time table;
  • bring the best out of your writers and artists;
  • problem solve; and
  • make a professional-looking project that will connect with readers and retailers!

Andy will take a conversational approach to this class that will allow for individualization for every student, while relating a career's worth of experience in a way that will be useful, organized, concise, and fun!

As Andy himself put it on the Creators Workshop forums recently:
"I don't think I've felt this excited for a class in a while (I like new things, so that's not a surprise). But this is going to be very different from my other courses. The structure is different, and the focus is different. This is a real 'behind the scenes' thing that I've never done before."
The class will meet one night a week, starting Thursday, November 10th, 2011, between 9:00 and 11:00 pm EST, for four weeks (11/10, 11/17, 12/1, and 12/8--skipping the week of Thanksgiving).

This is the first time this long requested course has been offered, and we're uncertain when it will be offered again. Spots will go fast, so don't delay if you'd like to enroll!

Enroll Now using PayPal

If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color 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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Sunday, October 23, 2011

COMMUNITY NEWS: Women of Wonder Day 2011!

Women of Wonder Day is an annual event created by best-selling author Andy Mangels, as a benefit for Women and Children's Domestic Violence Shelters.

Elizabeth Amber Love, a Comics Experience alum and Creators Workshop member, is one of the co-founders of the New Jersey version of this event, along with with Comic Fusion owners, Stacy Korn and Bill Meccia.

The New Jersey Women of Wonder Day, part of SuperHero Weekend, will be held at Comic Fusion, October 29th - 30th, 2011, and the centerpiece of the event is a charity auction held to benefit SAFE, a not-for profit agency serving victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.

Last year, the event raised over $16,700, and this year's auction includes artwork by a ton of artists including Charles P. Wilson III, Ethan van Sciver, JK Woodward ("Batwoman," shown above right), Joe Sinnott, Michael Golden, Dave Wachter, David Mack, Terry Moore ("Wonder Woman," shown to the right) and many others!

Check out all the details on this exciting event for a great cause right here: Women of Wonder Day.

And best of luck to Elizabeth Amber Love and Comic Fusion, on another successful event!

If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color 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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Thursday, October 20, 2011

GUEST BLOG: Gerald von Stoddard on Coast City Comicon!

In this guest blog, Gerald von Stoddard, Comics Experience alum and Creator’s Workshop member, talks about the 1st Annual Coast City Comicon (November 12 & 13th), sponsored by the comic shop Gerald founded in Portland, Maine.

This November 12th and 13th, a dream that we had as fledgling comic shop owners is coming to fruition! Finally, after all these years, we will be hosting what we believe to be a real celebration of comics in all their glory: a true comic con!

Our inner nerds can barely contain themselves as the 1st Annual Coast City Comicon finally takes flight at the historic Eastland Hotel in downtown Portland, Maine.

It has always been Coast City Comic’s mission to support not just the mainstream, but the local/indie talent as well. This convention will maintain that same attitude; a real DIY event celebrating comics, pop culture, science fiction and vintage video games.

Comics Experience founder Andy Schmidt--former Marvel and IDW Editor--will be in attendance, discussing Comics Experience and participating in the Breaking Into Comics panel, which includes Womanthology creator, Renae de Liz and her artist-in-arms husband Ray Dillon as well as author Alex Irvine and Top Cow artist Chris Dibari.

There will also be a Self-Publishing 101 panel that was initiated and will be moderated by Comics Experience alum and Workshop member, George O’Connor. Many very talented locals and Comics Experience members will be part of this informative discussion on publishing one’s own work in today’s comic market.

In July, I joined the Comics Experience Creator’s Workshop, mainly due to being so impatient as I waited for the Intro to Writing class to begin. What I did not expect was to be welcomed so openly and warmly. It was here that I began to work out my first creator-owned comic, Deadboy.

Members were brutally honest and helped me give shape to the idea, and as a result, the first issue will be debuting at the Convention. I have also begun work with Workshop member, Ken Frederick, on a project titled AM.NESIAC and hope to be debuting our 6-page pitch as well. His awesome artwork can be seen as part of Workshop member Paul Allor’s creator-owned project, Clockwork.

In response to such support, I wanted to do something to give back what has been so freely given to me, so I have opened up a section for Comics Experience alumni and Workshop members to show off their creator-owned books at my expense. So far, our Comics Experience guests will include: Amy Chu (Meridian), George O'Connor (Healed), Janine Frederick (Awaken), Joshua Dahl (Rapid City), Ken Frederick (AM.NESIAC), and Rich Douek (Gutter Magic), in addition to Comics Experience founder, Andy Schmidt. If you’d like to come and be part of the Comics Experience Workshop tables, feel free to grab your schwag and head up to Maine and join us.

The festivities will be kicked off on November 11th with a special Nerd Rave featuring Portland sensation Waranimal at Space Gallery. There will also be a Drink and Draw at a local pub and all are welcome to attend. It will be a great way to meet some awesome local talent here in Southern Maine.

We’ll also be hosting the premiere of the remastered 35mm cut of Blade Runner in celebration of the release of Exegesis by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and giving away all sorts of Phillip K. Dick books as door prizes! There will also be a PKD panel discussion with writer Alex Irvine, Zack Handlen of the Onion AV Club, Sam Pfeifle from the Phoenix, and others!

I hope to see as many of you as can make it. Just bring your awesome self’s and we will take care of the rest!

More info: Coast City Comicon

Gerald von Stoddard

If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color 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, October 19, 2011

NYCC 2011 Con Report from Comics Experience

New York Comic-Con 2011 is now behind us, and what a great convention it was for the Comics Experience community!

We had more than 30 members in attendance, many of them exhibiting. We thought we'd share some of our highlights, as well as some thoughts from a few of our members!

On the convention panel front, Buddy Scalera's "Comic Book School" panels were a hit with creators, covering just about every aspect of the creative process.

In particular, the Writing: Story Structure panel, moderated by Comics Experience founder, Andy Schmidt, was literally standing room-only, as shown here in Buddy's pictures of the event.

Panelists included Jimmy Palmiotti, Daniel Way, David Hine, and Christos Gage, discussing how they structure, outline, and write their stories.

Meanwhile, on Friday night, Workshop member Brandon Seifert was a panelist on the well-attended Ain't It Cool News Horror panel, dicussing his runaway hit from Image/Skybound, Witch Doctor. We can't wait to see more from you, Brandon!
Speaking of panels, during the Breaking In panel hosted by Scott Allie (Dark Horse) and Matt Gagnon (BOOM!), Comics Experience alum and Workshop member, Paul Allor, got an unexpected shout-out. Scott began discussing how a particular writer had recently gotten his attention by sending his new trade paperback to many editors at Dark Horse. Scott turned to Matt and said, "I bet you know who I'm talking about," and Matt replied "I sure do, everyone got it at BOOM!, too". When they discovered Paul was in the audience, he received a round of applause from the audience, as Paul held up a copy of the trade paperback in question, Clockwork, Volume 1. At which point, Scott Allie said "Paul should be up here teaching this panel." Nice job, Paul!

And on the Convention Exclusive front, NYCC saw the debut of the Hasbro Micronauts Unit:E book, written by Comics Experience founder, Andy Schmidt, with art by Comics Experience art instructor, Robert Atkins and lettering and production by Comics Experience lettering instructor, Dave Sharpe. We hear the book was a huge hit, so we hope you got yours there!

Friday night, Mulligan's, the old Marvel hang-out, was the site of the Comics Experience Meet-Up, attended by many alums, Workshop members, and friends. We took over a good bit of Mulligans into the wee hours, with much food, drink and comics talk. Here's a few pictures, which we'll also be posting to the Comics Experience Facebook page soon.


Those pictured above include: Rob Anderson, Jason Cutcher, Kevin Byrne, Rich Douek, DaFu Yu, Jeff Marsick, Neil Fisher, Richard P. Clark, Blake Campbell, Ken Frederick, Gerald Von Stoddard, Andy Schmidt, James Murray, Janine Frederick, Paul Allor, Joey Groah, Dan Rivera, and Bill Yurkas, plus Joe Sergi who somehow missed all the pictures.

In addition to all the folks mentioned above, the following alums, instructors, and Workshop members were also in attendance at NYCC 2011: Carl Peterson, Chris Beckett, Chris Murphy, color instructor Chris Sotomayor, lettering & production instructor Dave Sharpe, Elizabeth Amber Delaney, Eric Drumm, Gannon Beck, George O'Connor, Joshua Dahl, Kevin Villa, Matt O'Keefe, Monika Smyczek, Paul Littell, Scott Dubin, Sean Flahaven, and Shaun Noel.

But enough from us! Let's hear from some of those Comics Experience alums and members.

Amy Chu:
"NYCC was one of the more surreal experiences I've had (in a good way, of course). I would say we had an outstanding first time convention experience, largely due to meeting a number of Comics Experience people for the first time and getting to hang out with everyone.

"Georgia Lee and me having dinner and drinks with Axel Alonso, Joe Quesada, and CB Cebulski, as part of the "Dinner with Marvel" event, had to be right up there on the list. CB and Joe were also nice enough to invite us to go with them to the iFanboy party Friday night. Also, meeting Mike Marts from DC was a highlight.

"Pretty much all our goals were met, and then some. Reconnected with other creators I met and liked from SDCC and C2E2, got our book, Meridian, into the hands of some key people, and met a lot of other writers."

Paul Allor:
"This was my first major convention, and I had a great time meeting with editors and fellow creators. There are so many extroardinarily talented people in this business, and I left feeling energized to create more comics!"

Rich Douek:
"I had a great convention... I sold about 30 books, and had great conversations with editors from Archaia, Dark Horse and BOOM! Studios. Definitely helped me figure out where to go next with Gutter Magic."

Janine Frederick:
"I made new connections with creators I'd never had the pleasure of meeting before, and discussed my project, Awaken, with people at Oni Press and Avatar Press. I also discussed with Dan Didio the possibility of having him at a future speaking engagement at Monmouth University!

"Having Awaken at the table gave me the ability to assess the reactions of all different people who were curious enough to look at the 5-page preview or ask about the story. The largest positive response came from the female 20-something crowd. The second most "into it" crowd were males in their early to mid 30's. Awesome... I now truly know the demographic for this story and plan to start a Kickstarter campaign."

DaFu Yu:
"I enjoyed meeting fellow Comics Experience alumni and reading each of their unique comic books. They have inspired me to continue to do my best when I create my own comics."

Joshua Dahl:
"I talked to a lot of press people. I put my book in Axel Alonso's Andy Schmidt's hand...and in the hands of one notable comics journalist who knew me already by reputation. I talked to a lot of people and had a great weekend in general."

James Murray:
"My highlights include shaking Stan Lee's hand, talking with Troma's Lloyd Koffman, and with Len Wein, lots of networking, and meeting Andy and CE folk in person for the first time. And, in general, I was happy to be back in NYC for the first time in 5 years. Had a few good nights out seeing great music on Bleeker street, too."

Jason Cutcher:
"Met Daniel Cooney, who was my comics writing teacher at the Academy of Art University. He's a guy who is really making it as a small press publisher, with Valentine and Tommy Gun Dolls. He's been distributed through Diamond for 10 years, and has a movie option. So meeting him and getting some words of encouragement on my projects really went a long way. Also, had fantastic discussions with Archaia regarding two projects, met Lauren Sankovitch of Marvel, and spoke with a Diamond Vendor representative."

Joey Groah:
"Meeting and re-connecting with CE forum members totally made the con. Too many moments of thoughtfulness and camaraderie throughout the weekend to list. The "rising tide" mentality of people in our community is evident.

"And being able to talk business with members too, in terms of how to approach exhibiting at a con and how that could affect your publishing plans and products. I appreciate the chance to hear how people are looking at the business side of comics in addition to the creative work.

"Personally, the feedback on my pitch comic, Dry Seasons, was flattering and encouraging. And now I'm re-writing pitch documents..."

Paul Littell:
It was great to meet several Comics Experience members in person for the first time, and to get to say hello to others again. I met at least a couple of members with whom I look forward to collaborating. I picked up a lot of good stuff at Andy’s panel, and at the other panels run by Buddy Scalera. He runs a great show, pulls great guests (like Andy), and always sends you away a lot more informed and maybe sometimes a little smarter. I also made a point of saying hello/starting a relationship with editors at several publishers. So, all in all, I’d have to call it a big success."

Jeff Marsick:
"I had a fantastic con with record-setting sales on two of my properties, Z-Girl and the 4 Tigers and the series debut of Dead Man's Party, which on Saturday actually outsold all five of my other offerings. It was an ego boost and a validation of my creative teams' talent and quality of product when a marketing exec at a major publisher, a well-known pro like David Mack, and even a Diamond rep stopped by (all unsolicited), checked out the books and said 'Wow. This is really good stuff.'"

George O'Connor:
I was hoping to meet editors at Oni and Archaia and was able to do that fairly early on. Both Charlie Chu (Oni) and Rebecca Taylor (Archaia) were very helpful and easy to talk to about their submission guidelines. As a bonus, I got to meet Stephen Christy from Archaia later in the weekend and again, just a really nice guy. My friend Matman from Secret Identity Podcast introduced me to Sarah deLaine from Image and we had a great conversation about comic book marketing. And I got to catch up with Lauren Sankovitch at Marvel, who not only secretly runs the joint but is a very sweet person, too. Creator-wise, both Jim Zub (Skullkickers) and Justin Jordon (Luther Strode) were incredibly generous with their time as we talked Image, books, and marketing. And, finally, I have to give huge thanks and credit to my fellow Comics Experience members who helped Healed sell out by the end of the Con. All-in-all it was a very successful show.

Joe Sergi:
A few of my favorite things: seeing everyone at the Meet-Up -- it is great to put faces to the Workshop forum; selling out of Great Zombies in History 1 and 2; watching Dan Slott reenact the Marvel movie panel at Jim Hanley's Universe after the show one night; being interviewed by podcasts, vodcasts, and newspapers about our books; having someone who bought books earlier come up to me during lunch to tell me how much they liked my stories, and racing through the streets of DC at 4 am with Rob Anderson as we went home."


Great convention, everyone! See you at the next one!

Posted by Rob Anderson
Twitter / Facebook

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Comics Experience Creators Exhibiting at NYCC 2011!

New York Comic Con starts tomorrow, and Comics Experience alums and Creators Workshop members will be everywhere.

By our last count on the Workshop forums, more than 30 members will be attending! And quite a number of folks will also be exhibiting at the show as well.

Comics Experience alum, Jeff Marsick will be at Booths 2950, 2951 and 2952, showing off his books Z-Girl and the 4 Tigers, Wendover, and Dead Man’s Party. You can check out Jeff's recent Guest Blog right here.

Alum and Workshop member, Shaun Noel, will be showcasing his book, City of Walls, which you can check out at Booth 2546.

Alum and Workshop member, Monika Smyczek, will be at Booth 3047 with Moxie Comics.

And Booth 2939 will have a slew of Comics Experience creators and books, including:

This is just a sampling -- stop by and check out all these booths and ask them about Comics Experience!

If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color 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, October 11, 2011

GUEST BLOG: Robert Atkins on his Recent Cover Homage!

In this guest blog, Robert Atkins shares his thoughts on his recent GI Joe homage cover. Robert is the Instructor of the Comics Experience Introduction to Comic Book Art class, where he recently discussed cover design in more depth with his students.

He's also been generous in sharing his thoughts on that same topic in the "Ask Robert Atkins" thread on the Creator’s Workshop. Robert is a professional comic book artist who has worked on Snake Eyes, GI JOE, and Heroes for Hire, as well as many other titles.

About a month or so ago, IDW asked if I would like to do three covers for their GI JOE line. I agreed immediately, it's always fun to do more GI JOE. Plus, it extends this crazy cover run I've done with them. As of now, I've drawn 47 covers for the GI JOE line at IDW! Four years goes by quick.

Well, this time around, I probably should have asked what they wanted first. They needed them turned around pretty quick, and once I found out what they wanted....I realized quick was not going to be an option.

IDW has run a few homage covers lately, where they take their characters and place them in similar compositions as classic comic covers. i.e. this Transformers/Uncanny X-Men #1 homage:

So they had another classic cover in mind for me. The Crisis on Infinite Earths cover #7 (1985) by none other than George "I can't draw too many lines" Perez!

Now this cover has already be homaged to pun intended....seriously it's been done a lot. (See Crisis Homages on this website.)

This is where I come in. I had just got done talking to someone about how I don't really appreciate homage covers, because I rarely feel like the new version does the original justice. What can be brought to the table that improves on the original? Well I hunkered down and got started anyway.

My initial prelim sketch, this is about three inches wide:

This sketch was approved and I started on the pencils. I quickly realized this was taking forever and I had to submit the unfinished pencils for approval if I was going to get it done in time.

I ended up finishing most of the line art for the cover in the inking stage, going straight to inks for a lot of the background characters. I didn't have time to sketch out the details first. Luckily, I really know these characters and vehicles and it wasn't that difficult.

We brought on Mark Roberts to color this cover for us, as well as the other associated homage covers. If you remember, he colored up the Thundercats images on my Daily Sketch Blog. After running through that gauntlet for me, I knew he was up for the task. This is his first IDW, GI JOE work!

Now before anyone FREAKS out, Scarlett does not die in this issue!! It is just an homage and she was an appropriate female to fit the pose. Please don't send me hate mail for killing Scarlett. I've already gotten emails about this. heh.

After the process, I still feel like I didn't add anything to the original. I mean, seriously, that cover is regarded as one of the best and most influential covers in comics. But I can see the appeal now. Seeing the characters from a property that the fans love, in such a classic composition and/or pose has a fun nostalgic feel.

If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color 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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Sunday, October 9, 2011

GUEST BLOG: Dan Rivera Offers Tips on Editing Anthologies!

In this guest blog, Comics Experience alum and Creators Workshop member, Dan Rivera, discusses his new project, Don't Be Afraid, and offers tips for editors of anthology projects. Dan will be at Booth 2939 at New York Comic Con, in the Small Press Section, so make sure to stop by!

In October 2010, the members of Elevator Pitch Press (comprised of a group of Comics Experience alums from the first online Intro to Comic Book Writing class) were talking about what to do next after our first release: Tales from the Comics Experience.

We decided to do an anthology of zombie stories married with historical events, and that led to the three issues of Great Zombies in History (GZiH) that came out earlier this year.

We also wanted to have another anthology that was tied to a singular theme. Many names were bandied about, and we settled on the theme FEAR. However, our energies were completely invested in the GZiH books, so “FEAR” fell by the wayside. Time passed and some of the EPP members had other commitments and had to pull out.

Last March, I attended C2E2 in Chicago and spent a fair amount of time in the Artist Alley and Small Press areas. After looking at the various books that were being sold (especially after having seen some of the finished GZiH stories), I felt that we at Elevator Pitch Press could put something out that would be just as good as anything being sold at that con.

Emboldened by a newfound confidence, I emailed the group and offered to take the lead. This was the first time that I took charge of anything since my high school yearbook.

Thankfully, working with these guys has been a pleasure. The level of professionalism in this group would impress any editor in the industry. Everyone got their stories to me in time for the book to be ready for New York Comic Con.

The hardest aspect of getting this book together was deciding on a title. After seeing the cover by Darick Robertson (Transmetropolitan, The Boys) and Richard P. Clark, the one thing that came to mind was...Don’t Be Afraid.

While I am no expert on editing, I did take away some important lessons from this experience:
  • When editing an anthology for and with other writers, try not to be a dictator. You must respect that the other creators have invested their time (and in some cases, money) into their stories, so they have as much equity in this project as you do.
  • If there is an aspect to the creative process that you are not completely comfortable with, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Graphic design is not a strength of mine, so I was able to get logo/lettering/design master (and Creators Workshop member) ET Dollman to help me lay out the book and get it to the right printing specs.
  • When developing a set of deadlines, give yourself some wiggle room because more often than not, there will be some hiccups along the way. An artist can flake out, a writer might want to tweak a line of dialogue, or life can just get in the way.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. I can’t stress enough how important this is. In fact, I feel this is an area that I must improve on for future projects. If something is holding things up, let the other creators know. If you think something in a scene doesn't work, let them know. It gives the creators confidence in you, and will result in a better product overall.
  • Find a printer that you are comfortable with. Do not settle for a printer solely because of one person’s recommendation. Make the extra effort to compare prices and turn-around time. Find out if they will provide a proof. You will be surprised at the varying degrees of customer service and overall product quality.
If you are attending NYCC, check out Don’t Be Afraid at the Elevator Pitch Press Booth -- #2939 -- in the Small Press Section.

Dan Rivera is on Twitter as @danriveraprime and can be reached via email at His webcomic, Platinum Falls, will be live in 2012.

If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color 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, October 5, 2011

"Writing for Comics" Panel - CGS Super Show 2011

For those looking forward to NYCC 2011 -- or even for those wishing they were going -- we thought we'd offer up a convention panel from earlier this year!

The "Writing for Comics" panel was presented by Comics Experience at the 2011 Comic Geek Speak Super Show on Saturday, April 30th, in Reading, PA.

The panel was moderated by Comics Experience founder, writer, and former IDW and Marvel editor, Andy Schmidt (5 Days to Die, GI Joe: Future Noir, Challenger Deep) with panelists Rob Anderson (Animal Control SCU, Rex Zombie Killer), Fred Van Lente (Incredible Hercules, Marvel Zombies 3 & 4, Action Philosophers), Drew Gaska (Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes, Critical Millennium), and Bryan J.L. Glass (The Mice Templar, Thor: First Thunder, Valkyrie). The panel is introduced by Comics Experience alum and Creators Workshop member, Joe Sergi (Sky Girl, Great Zombies in History).

Topics included: what is a story, planning/outlining your stories, collaborating with artists, methods for breaking down panels and dialogue, and more!

Special thanks to Creators Workshop member, Joey Groah, of the In Production podcast, for recording and editing the session, as well as creating the cool Comics Experience logo introduction!

View the video here:

Comics Experience - "Writing for Comics" panel, 2011 CGS Super Show from Comics Experience on Vimeo.

If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color 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, October 4, 2011

GUEST BLOG: Jeff Marsick on Becoming a Comics Creator with Comics Experience!

In this guest blog, comic book writer Jeff Marsick discusses his projects and the impact of the Comics Experience Introduction to Comic Book Writing class on his career. Jeff will be at Booths 2950, 2951 and 2952 in the Small Press area of New York Comic Con next week, so stop by and see him!

First there was Z-Girl and the 4 Tigers, a book about a monster-hunting special ops team of ancient Chinese warrior spirits led by a female zombie.

Then came the horror-meets-noir Wendover about private eye and a sheriff discovering a conspiracy of evil at a casino in Wendover, Nevada.

And next week’s New York Comic Con will see the debut of my THIRD self-published comic book, Dead Man’s Party about a hitman who puts a contract out on his own head.

Three completely different stories that I have written, drawn by three completely different artists, with three completely different looks and all existing because of one common denominator:

Andy Schmidt’s Introduction to Comic Book Writing at Comics Experience.

Had I never taken that course three years ago, none of these comics would exist. See, I’ve wanted to write comics ever since I could spell Mxyzptlk, yet always figured that I needed to know someone who knew someone who could teach me the secret handshake just to get in the door. Sure, there’s the legendary Brian Michael Bendis do-it-yourself story of makin’ it, but when you’re marriage-kid-career deep in life, the dream of creating comic books seems like a ship that’s already sailed.

When I’m asked about the Comics Experience course and why I think it’s so important for the fledglings or the merely curious to take it, I focus on two important points that you won’t find in the brochure: camaraderie and confidence.

Yes, former Marvel editor Andy Schmidt as your teacher is the major selling point. Yes, the guest instructors are the Twinkie’s cream-filled center. Yes, learning to write a story confined to five pages of real estate is not only Calculus III kind of difficult, but it is absolutely necessary if you are EVER to understand the mechanics of telling a tale in sequential panels.

But you take the course with other like-minded aspirants who are also hungry to learn the craft, which in itself creates something of a think-tank environment. Our class of strangers came together as the weeks ticked off and we were soon bouncing ideas off each other, poking holes in logic, and offering constructive advice for improving concepts and execution.

(I like to brag that my class had before-he-was-a-superstar Nick Spencer, fresh off the bus into the wilds of New York City. Now, while I wouldn’t OFFICIALLY take credit for being influential in his career, mine WAS one of the critiques on his five-page short story assignment, so…conclusions can be drawn.)

Writing is typically a solitary pursuit, but when you’re learning to write scripts in the comic book way, having a built-in support group is extremely helpful.

The most important takeaway from the class, though, is confidence. We all know that the roads to the halls of DC or Marvel or Dark Horse are paved with land mines and barriers that can’t typically be leaped with a single bound. Yet we’re all filled to bursting with tales we want to tell, stories we want to see in all the glory of multi-paneled pages. If the bigs won’t take a chance on you, well, that means your only option is to do it yourself.

Now, I’ve always been under the impression that Xeroxed ash-cans handed out at conventions to anyone with an opposable thumb was “self-publishing”, so I never really gave it much thought. The Introduction to Comic Book Writing course, however, changed all that, arming me with a rudimentary skill set and girding my conviction with a can-do spirit that I just had to explore.

I found myself an artist and co-creator, and Z-Girl and the 4 Tigers was born. Well now, that wasn’t so bad, so how about I give it a go with another concept and voila: Wendover. Wait. Wait! I have a killer concept. Literally. I’ll call it Dead Man’s Party. And if I can find the right artist, well, I’m enough of an overachiever to give a fourth series a go.

The point is that there is no way I would have gone for a first series had I not taken Andy’s Intro course. But I walked out of it knowing I could create the kind of comics that people would want to read, the kind of comics that fill in the blanks of what’s already out there, that are the adventures and mysteries that I would want to read if someone else was writing them. I have created professional-looking books, can pitch to editors and publishers like an industry veteran, and see my books on store shelves from coast to coast. And I have Andy Schmidt to thank for it.

Have I made mistakes? You betcha (and one of these days I might actually learn from a couple of them). Is self-publishing stressful and sometimes financially hard to justify given the economic environment? Absolutely. If I had a cosmic treadmill, would I go back and undo it all and just remain a bystander and reader of comic books?

No. Way.

If you want to be a comic book creator, the Introduction to Comic Book Writing course at Comics Experience is without a doubt the best money you’ll spend.

Jeff will be at Booths 2950, 2951 and 2952 in the Small Press area of NYCC next week.

If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color 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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Monday, October 3, 2011

Panels for Comic Creators at New York Comic Con 2011

New York Comic Con 2011 (October 13-16) is only ten days away, and if you're interested in making comics or breaking into the industry, then don't miss Buddy Scalera's "Comic Book School" panels, including one panel moderated by Andy Schmidt, Comics Experience founder, and former editor and writer at Marvel and IDW!

Andy will be moderating the Writing: Story Structure panel on Friday, and here's all the details:
Writing: Story Structure
Friday, October 14
3:45 pm - 4:45 pm
Room 1A03

Speakers: Andy Schmidt, Buddy Scalera, Daniel Way, David Hine, Jimmy Palmiotti

Learn how to structure a complete issue from beginning to end. Pace, panel breakdown, and story arc discussed by professional writers who work for mainstream publishers like Marvel, DC, Dark Horse & more. Panelists include: Jimmy Palmiotti – comic book writer, The Pro, Powergirl, Jonah Hex; Daniel Way – comic book writer, Deadpool, Wolverine; David Hine – comic book writer, District X, The Bulletproof Coffin. Plus, a surprise pro writer, not yet announced. Hosted by Buddy Scalera of Comic Book School and moderated by former Marvel and IDW Editor and writer, Andy Schmidt of Comics Experience.
We are also pleased to announce that the surprise pro writer will be Christos Gage, writer of Avengers Academy (Marvel), GI Joe: Cobra (IDW), Area 10 (Vertigo), Absolution (Avatar), and the new hit Angel & Faith series from Dark Horse!

Don't miss what's sure to be an informative (and entertaining) writing panel!

But if you're interested in making comics, there's much more!

Don't miss any of Buddy Scalera's NYCC 2011 panels. If 2010 is any indication, Buddy's line-up of "Comic Book School" panels will be excellent again this year:
Editors on Editing
Fri. Oct. 14
1:15 pm - 2:15 pm

Comics, Hollywood - What Creators Need to Know
Fri. Oct. 14
2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Writing: Story Structure
Fri. Oct. 14
3:45 pm - 4:45 pm

Penciling: Storytelling on the Page
Fri. Oct. 14
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Creator Connection
Fri. Oct. 14
6:15 pm - 7:15 pm

Coloring: Digital Techniques
Fri. Oct. 14
7:30 pm - 8:30 pm
See the full details on the NYCC website, right here, and we hope to see you there!

If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color 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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