Friday, September 20, 2013

My gallery of one page Poster Comics

I've just published my latest Poster Comic, "Kaiju Kamen". You can read it online at my DeviantArt page.
"Kaiju" is the Japanese word for 'monster', and is often used to refer to the giant monsters such as Godzilla, Gamera and others found in Japanese monster films. "Kamen" translates  as 'mask', so my title refers to the blue masked monster wrestling the giant octopus beast....

This is my 12th Poster Comic I've done since starting these in December 2011. Originally my goal was to do one a month, but in the later half of 2012 my workload became busier, so I suspended the project until May of this year. KAIJU KAMEN is my third one this year, and I've definitely got more planned. 

The original idea behind these 'poster comics' was to have a way to create comics featuring many of the ideas I have for new characters. A full-length comic book (30-50 pages) can take me several months to finish, and with other commitments I have during the year, it seems unlikely that I'd ever be able to get all these done as completed stories. So the relatively limited time it takes me to do one of these provides an outlet for these characters to make it into a story, however brief they are. Another reason I like doing these is that I can print them in color. Printing a one page, full color poster at 11" x 17" is cheaper than printing a full-color book, and it's way faster to color as well.

My first four, shown above, had that excitement you get with a learning curve, as they were my initial attempts. One of the critical things about these one-page comics is the planning and editing. How do you tell the story you want to tell, in a very limited amount of space, and still follow a beginning-middle-end story structure? And without drawing 30 panels per page! At least that was the challenge I made for myself.  

One page comics have a long history in the medium, so I wasn't creating anything new. What I did notice was that often, one-page comics have been used as humor stories, or as brief educational/informative devices. Also, they've been used to great effect to advertise products, such as the famous Hostess Twinkie and Cup Cake ads that appeared in comics from the 1970s and 80s.

One thing that's key to creating these is to not be too precious with the idea. Meaning that not everything I want to say about the character will be in the story, but I try to focus on showing them doing what identifies them, as far as their role as action heroes. 

For example, in the top left comic from the second batch below, the robot sentry, Andromeda X7X, is shown confronting an advance scout in a planned alien invasion. So the story specifically highlights her role as a guardian of Earth. Below that story is a biographic comic on Steve Ditko, the artist who co-created Spider-Man and continues his 60 year career even today. With the Ditko story, it was matter of identifying the key points of his career that I wanted to convey, so from there is was drawing those scenes and then scripting the narrative.

A lot of my character designs revolve around very distinctly identified characters. So if I have a caveman superhero, he's easily identified as such (the comic just below, on the left). Or the newest one, Kaiju Kamen.... A monster with a mask. I love the iconographic nature of comic book characters, so in some ways a lot of the character's identity is perceived upon initial viewing. That helps tremendously in these one-page stories. With an image that's bold and expressive, some of the 'writing' has already begun.

Comics have unique relationship to their reader. A certain amount of collaboration occurs between the creator and the viewer in that the story is read at whatever pace the reader chooses. As the storyteller, I'm providing the roadmap, but the reader brings their own understanding to the experience, perhaps filling in the thin space between the panels with their own mental imagery. So whether it's a 12 panel story or a 48 page comic, I still provide the reader with a reading experience, and hopefully it's a worthwhile one. 

My plans for this Poster Comic series include another round of stories featuring additional new characters as well as a variety of non-fiction stories. A historic political/celebrity event, an adaptation of a public-domain movie, and a couple of biographic pieces (similar to the Ditko comic). Eventually I'd like to collect them all in a book of some type. Perhaps a full-blown 11" x 17" collection? We'll see....

You can read all these Poster Comics online over at my gallery on DeviantArt. Just click the one you want to read and it'll open up to a much larger size. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 08, 2013

"HEY KIDS, COMICS!", plus a few other books I've contributed to recently

I have an essay in the new anthology called HEY KIDS, COMICS!, which has just been published and is available to purchase online. The book features essays by such comic book veterans as J.M. DeMatteis, Steve Skeates, Steve Englehart, Robert Greenberger and others.

The book is compiled and edited by Rob Kelly, an illustrator and writer (winner of the Comic Book Writer of the Year award for the ACE KILROY web comic, Philadelphia Geek Awards). Basically I wrote about my earliest experiences with comics, and how that evolved into a childhood of not only reading comics but watching superhero cartoons and tv show, as well as playing with action figures and collecting anything with superheroes on it. Eventually, all that led to my eventual career as a comic book creator (or so I like to think!). 

For the latest issue of DITKOMANIA, I've contributed a full-color cover. 

Published and edited by Rob Imes, the zine is a quarterly publication dedicated to the work of Steve Ditko, the legendary comic book artist who co-created SPIDER-MAN and DR. STRANGE, as well as creating THE CREEPER, HAWK & DOVER, MR.A and host of other characters. You can order copies directly from Rob. Info at the DITKO-FEVER website.

THE NEW ADVENTURES OF THE HUMAN FLY, the revival of the 1970s Canadian stuntman/superhero (who starred in his own comic book from Marvel Comics from 77-79) was published this summer. 

Edited by Michael Aushenker, the book features an all-star cast of creators, including artists who worked on the original series. I contributed a pin-up, as well as having worked on the production of the book. Currently available online as well.

Published in August, my own LOS COMEX CODEX is available directly from me in my webshop. It's a 138 page collection of 5 of my out-of-print titles, including DEAD DINOSAURIO, THE COMA and WEAPON TEX-MEX Vs EL MUERTO

And coming up on the horizon this Fall is a new book by Frederick Aldama (Arts and Humanities Distinguished Professor of English at Ohio State). The book is called LATINOS AND NARRATIVE MEDIA: PARTICIPATION AND PORTRAYAL.

I not only contributed the artwork for the cover, but I also wrote the forward. The book features essays on the topic of the media and popular culture as created and influenced by Latino authors, artists and other creative professionals.

It turns out that I'm also one of the subjects in the book as well! David William Foster wrote an essay titled "Latino Comics: Javier Hernandez's El Muerto as an Allegory of Chicano Identity". Flattered, to say the least! The book will be published by Palgrave Macmillan and is due November 7.

This is the first time I've had work appearing in such a variety of publications coming out within the same year. In my 15 years of creating comics, in addition to publishing my own work, I've had pinups published in other comics, but the scope of titles I've contributed to this year is a career high for me. I'm glad to warrant the work, and really, it's doing something I love. Hope you enjoy some of these!