Sunday, February 13, 2011


In continuing my rant from the week prior, I have again gone out in a conscious effort to expose myself to something new and outside of my comfort zone.  This is the simple request I have made of everyone out there, yourself included, and as I am unwilling to ask anyone to do that which I myself am unwilling to do, this is where we find ourselves.

The point with this little exercise is to give something new a chance with the hope that you get off your couch and buy a new CD or pick up a new book.
My complaint is we find ourselves setting our 'tastes' and it takes an act of Congress to get us to deviate from them.  Here's your Act of Congress then.

Just this week, while at work on break sketching out a page from The Portland Express, a coworker approached me to talk comics.  I will never turn away one of these convos if it gives me the dual opportunity of shilling my shit or making a convert to comics in general, so I indulged.  He gave me his story, I listened patiently.  Bought since the 90's...collected burned by the collector war of the same decade...still reads X-Men.
I sat patiently and when he was done I asked my 2 questions. 
1) What was the last comic you bought that you liked?
2) Why did you stop buying comics?
These are questions you need to ask EVERYONE you meet.  The answers will amaze you.
The last one ghe bought was an X-Men title he couldn't even remember details about....and he stopped buying comics because they got too repetitive.  There wasn't anything new out there. I showed him Nails and he liked let's hope I sent another fan down the chute of Creator Owned comics.

On to the goods for the week. 

The Comic
Comfortably Dumb by Loyd Gant
Kind of hard to get a gauge on this but I am talking about it anyway for a very specific reason.  First the points, then the reason.
The comic is only one page so far.  That one page is done in a pop-art inspired cartoonish fashion.  It is also very well done.  The panels are clear, the lettering is readable and there is a point that flows through it from one panel to the next.  I want to see more.  Now the reason I included this one pager as a new comic.  It isn't really a new comic in the biblical sense.  It's only one page.  The artist has nothing more than that up.  Either he ran out of time (which happens) or he got zero support and simply stopped.  I'm leaning on the latter here.  That is in my opinion the worst aspect of this artform.  We hate each otehr.  Well...not hate...that's the wrong word, but it's pretty damn close.  It's probably better to say we're scared to death of each other.  This business has us all climbing up a pole.  The same pole.  And it's covered in grease.  We're so insular in focusing on our technique that we don't make the time to say to someone else, "Hey...nice pole climbing."  Well Lloyd is climbing quite well. 
It really bothers me at times when I look at the dynamics of comic making from the outside and see everyone shoving their way over each other to say "Hey!  Look at my shit, dude!"  There is a fear built into us from jump that someone will steal our idea...or that someone will accuse us of that themselves.  That fear is the driving force, I think, in preventing comics like Lloyd's from getting the feedback it needs.'s the same with MY webcomic.  People seem afraid to say "Well done, man" when they come across something that was indeed, well done.  The fear stops em cold.  Am I worried someone will steal my ideas?  Of course.  It has happened 3 times so far...each time by Marvel.  I look at that as a sign that I was on the right track with that particular idea, but not ready to implement in their eyes.  A backhanded compliment, if you will..  Do I want vengance?  No.  I want us to accept that there are creators who need support and I want us to give it to them.  I do NOT want, however, for us to fall over ourselves calling crap great.  Friends do that all the time.  If you are a friend of a comic artist...spare him the misery of your compliments if all you're doing is being a good friend.  You are NOT helping him.  If he drew crap, you need to tell him.  You are his friend.  It's better he hears it from you than get his head inflated and eventually popped down to earth by someone who actually doesn't care about his feelings.  Those who are being read almost flat-out refuse to look at someone's new work for fear that person will sue.  It's insane.  Without the feedback from working professionals, many talents simply die on the vine.
These are ALL traits we want to be known as having, and they only take a moment of actualy listening to our consciences.
Your friend will thank you in the end.
But read Lloyd's comic when he gets more than one page up.  I think it's gonna be fun.

The Band
This one will seem like  'duhr' moment for anyone who actually has listened to this band.  It's been my brother's favorite for a while now.  But I always said, "Not Interrested." when he said you oughta listen to these guys.  I thought his tastes were garbage and these guys must be as well.  It was this movement that I am pushing here that changed t his.  I am willing now to GIVE something a chance rather than dismiss it out of hand and in this case in particular, I have NO shame admitting I was wrong here.  These guys are good.
This is the song that did it for me.  Help Me I listened to this one about 30 times during a drive home recently.  Stuck in traffic affords you that opportunity.  Everything here made my like button go off.  The 70's retro horn funk...the lyrics
"No, I won't kill you, but I'll watch you die." 
"Cool can only be killed, never absorbed."
If this experiment has shown me anything it is that my last 39 years on this planet have been wasted.  The simple act of deciding I will give that a try paid off.  Is that always going to be the case?  Hell no.  I know I'm going to get my ears raped or my eyes assaulted on this trip of mine.  But the fear of that is gone now.  I KNOW that I was wrong in keeping myself comfortable. And I can only pray you decide to take action here.  Don't read my comic just because I ask you to.  Read it because it's something new and you decide to give it a shot.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


OK Folks. I'm putting my money where my enormous mouth is here.
I have been on a tear since Mssrs Niles and Powell kicked this bear in the balls last week preaching the cause of trying out Creator Owned Comics. It all comes down to one simple thing, really. Before you try something new you have to take yourself out of your comfort zone. We all have one. It guides all aspects of our life, from our daily TV watching habits, to our dining habits to our musical tastes (or lack thereof) and our literary pleasures. Since it's the latter rather than the former I am preaching, I think it only fair that I include a few of the others as well because, and I'll be honest here, if you already READ comics, odds are this isn't meant for you.
It's you. Yes...YOU. The one over by the twizzlers at the checkout line that I am talking to here. You never read a comic, well, there was that one time in detention when Jeff had a copy of X-Men 300 that you borrowed. You read about 10 pages of it before you got bored. Not bad, since comics really aren't your thing right? But here's my point, if I may. You read The DaVinci Code twice. You read and reread ALL 7 Harry Potter books last week during the snow storm. You have read almost every book written by Stephen King. But still, the XMEN wasn't your thing. Fair enough. But the point I want to stress here is you are missing out. You like adventure stories. But Super Heroes bore you. I get it. Try reading MY webcomic The Portland Express. There aren't any superheroes in that at all. If that isn't your bag, try The Walking Dead. You know...that TV show? Yes it was a comic. Or maybe you liked Red? Read THAT comic too. I promise you if you try enough of them you'll find one that speaks to you. It's so simple. The only thing is it'll cost you. That five minutes of your time where you put yourself completely at the mercy of the creators will seem like an eternity if you don't dig what they are selling, but if it strikes your fancy, a 100 page graphic novel will seem like a Super Bowl commercial. Over too fast and leaving you wanting more. The point is you will never HAVE that experience if you don't gamble. And it is a gam,ble, man. Never doubt that. You will get some comics that just aren't for you. I still get those daily. But if you read 20....and hate 19 of those...that 1 will be a doosey. I know this.
But it doesn't mean shit if you just hear me tell you I am going to put it to practice. I'm going to try a new comic that I never saw before and tell you what I think....good or bad. I'll do the same with music. I'll listen to a new band and is I like it...I'll tell you why. If I didn't...then no loss. The point is I am doing what I am asking YOU to do. Get your asses OUT there and SEE what is available. There are some KICKASS comics out there just like there are bands you never heard of that will make you soil your drawers and love it.

The Comic
Fubar (

This is a zombie comic....consisting of over a dozen black and white short comic stories featuring WWII Nazis and Zombies. I haven't bought the actual comic yet. But I plan to. I was able to read one of the short stories though and that sold me. The story is titled "And the crowd goes wild" by Jeff McComsey and it's fairly straightforward. Man with baseball bat tees off on zombies. It's not War and Peace....more like War and Pieces. The art is finished by Steve Becker. I never heard of him, but I dig his style. It mirrors the quirkiness of Will Eisner and makes killing Nazi Zombies look like a load of fun. In Jeff's own words, "Steve Becker and I were sitting around the studio talking about FUBAR, and we came to the conclusion that the first volume needs just a little bit more brains and baseball bats. We decided to do a collaboration for this story. These are my layouts/pencils, inked by Steve. It’s also worth noting that Steve did hand drawn sound effects, which I think really set this short off. Enjoy." The story was a full 4 pages long. Perfect bathroom reading in my opinion. I say Check it out in comic shops all across the world. 15 stories, 184 pages of World War II zombie pulp fiction available for $11.99.

The Band
Mumford and Sons.

This one is simple and if you follow me on teh FaceBook, you probably heard me squee about this band.
It's a brit folk rock band that does songs with footstompin melodies and brain raping lyrics. The Cave  is one such song. It haunts me. I heard their song Little Lion Man and was willing to leave it there with these guys. I was ready to write them off as a one-hit wonder. Then This week happened. I decided to listen to another song by them and see if I liked it. This was that song. It combines heartfelt moments of solitary self-imposed confinement and adds a sprinkle of Ulysses (the Greek, not the Irishman) to make a song that actually hit me with a physicality I haven't felt in a long time. I'm in a dark place right now as those of you who know me can attest. The death of both my parents days before my birthday hit me like a ton of bricks. THIS song told me that was ok. It gave me permission to feel better. I can't suggest this band more strongly....and the sad component to this story is that had Niles and Powell not started this and had I not decided to try new things...I would NEVER have listened to this song.

If THAT isn't reason enough for you to just get off your ass...take yourself out of your comfort zone for 5 minutes and see what is on the next island, I dunno if I can help you, man. Just go on and buy those twizzlers and I'll see you in about a week or so with another try. But I'm not going to give up on you. I think we're sitting in the eye of a strengthening hurricane. It's going to gain momentum but only if WE power it. If we let it fall limp on the's just a rainstorm and the status quo remains. Where is the fun in that?