My dream as a kid was to be a syndicated cartoonist. Calvin and Hobbes, a comic strip some of you may remember, ran via Universal Press Syndicate. Now known by its 21st century name uclick, it’s one of the very few remaining syndicates. They have wisely diversified into both the book publishing world and online.
GoComics is pretty much the best place to read comics on the internet. They have many of the syndicated superstars and they also occasionally take a chance on Kid Nobody from Palookaville. Well I’m here to tell you that this month, I am that Kid!
Kid Shay Comics makes its debut on GoComics this month with the COMPLETE Tomb of the Zombies. I will be posting two pages a week until it is all up. If you haven’t had the chance to read my epic tale of love, redemption, and werewolf manservants, now is the time.
The headline does not lie. This morning I drove to the venerable Portland institution, Brown Printing, and picked up six boxes of the good stuff.
And by “good stuff” I of course mean zombie books:
The order form is up, so please order early and often.
You too can live like the 1% with your very own copy of Tomb of the Zombies:
Who am I, some kind of ad man?
Nah, I only sell books I believe in, like those drawn by me.
Tomb of the Zombies is the funniest story about the living dead since Joyce.
Read it now before it gets made into a major motion picture starring Rashida Jones as Kate and Alan Rickman as Levon the werewolf.
Hello dear readers,
I wanted to let you know I’ve posted Tomb of the Zombies over at my Buy Books page. It’s $12 (plus 3 for shipping) and will ship just as soon as I pick up the books from the printer. Should be later this week! Right now it’s a preorder; soon, though, it will become a regular order. So goes the gestation of a book. Order away, and I will let you know as soon as they’re in the mail!
In an attempt to bring you, dear readers, up to date on all the latest zombie news here at Falling Rock National Blog, I present the cover of my graphic novel Tomb of the Zombies:
This book was at least two years in the making, although in reality it was much longer. I originally got the idea back when I lived in Colorado. Initially, there was going to be a storyline in The Family Monster in which Dee discovers a group of zombies break-dancing in the shadow of a pyramid. They were being forced to dance by a man who hoped to take this novel act to Vegas and make a million bucks. The story was totally solid, no doubt about it, but it was far too long to present in daily installments of four panels. I shelved the idea.
Later, after I finished my pirate comic book Dancing With Jack Ketch, I decided that my next project had to involve zombies. I dug through my old notebooks to find what I had written and promptly started from scratch. You may have noticed, however, that the Ancient Egyptian motif remains intact.
As a teaser, here is a one-sheet I made up while still in the middle of drawing Tomb of the Zombies. I took this around ComicCon in 2010 to try and drum up interest among publishers.
Keep checking back for ordering information! Soon you will have this book in your hot little hands.
My first full-length graphic novel since Dancing with Jack Ketch, Tomb of the Zombies, is going to be released soon. I’m self-publishing at the venerable Portland printing shop Brown Printing. More details, including ordering information, coming in the next week!
After a year of drawing, my new comic novel is finished.
Tomb of the Zombies is 88 pages in beautiful black & white. Kate Crane, while on her summer college break, travels to Egypt to help her mad scientist uncle with his latest project. When Kate discovers that her uncle has been raising zombies, she must decide whether or not to save the undead from a life of slavery.
While Tomb of the Zombies is a stand-alone story, I like to think of it as the second in a thematic trilogy that began with Dancing With Jack Ketch. I don’t yet know how Zombies will be published; I’ll be taking samples to San Diego to drum up interest at Comic Con. If you, dear readers, know of anyone who might be interested in publishing a comic book about Egyptian zombies, please direct them to me. I will love you forever.
While it took me a year to actually draw Tomb of the Zombies, I got the idea many years ago, when I was living alone in a basement studio in Boulder, Colorado. The original story was about a huckster who was raising zombies in the shadow of a pyramid and teaching them to dance. He was going to take his show to Vegas and make a million bucks. I was writing it as part of the comic strip I was drawing at the time, The Family Monster, but the story became so long and involved that it was going to take a month or more to tell the whole thing in strip form. I put it aside but never forgot the idea of zombies who weren’t just intent on eating the brains of the living.
About two years ago, after the runaway success of Jack Ketch,* I was trying to decide what my next big project would be. I found my notes about the dancing zombies and decided to give it a go. After maybe six months of writing I got a draft that made me happy. As I was penciling, I decided to make this doubly challenging by inking with a brush. I’d been wanting to try the brush again after leaving it behind in high school. Bill Watterson inked with a brush, and that turned out pretty good.** Maybe I could achieve good results as well. 88 pages + a cover later, I’m glad I went with a brush. The line is more expressive, and I think it gets closer to the style I have in my mind – the style I’ve been aiming at for all these years.
I hope that you will all get to read this book soon. I’m certainly excited about it.
[Blogger’s Note: Although there were many superstars at Comic Con, one actor was notably missing. Alan Rickman did not, to my knowledge, attend Comic Con. Sadly, my meeting with Sir Rickman has yet to occur.]
I can hardly believe it’s been more than a week since Comic Con. The yearly festival of comics and media geekdom was, my second time around, still just as vital as ever. Comic Con excels at two things, mainly: facilitating fans’ meeting hundreds (possibly thousands) of famous and yet-to-be famous cartoonists, and providing a ground for the exchange of ideas and products related (sometimes tenuously) to sequential art. Uh, and recently it’s become a place where Hollywood previews movies based on comics. If you want to meet the cartoonist who created your favorite strip or book, or if you want to see the starlet who will be starring in the movie based upon your favorite strip or book, Comic Con is the place to be.
This year, as I mentioned before, I was joined by my wife Isis and my good friends Nate McGraw and Alex. It was their first ever trip to California, which was totally crazy to me, but some people just grew up on the wrong side of the country (or continent). The ladies took off almost immediately to stand in line for movie panels. Nate was gracious enough to let me lead the way though pop culture wilderness.
I’m dividing this post up thematically, as giving a blow-by-blow chronological account would bore all of us. As it is, only three readers have gotten this far in the post. Thank you! Read on for the exciting part.
If the convention floor is the meat of Comic Con, the panels are the vegetables. It is the panels where you can hear cartoonists blather on for an hour about their favorite pen nib. True bliss.
Nate and I kicked off Comic Con with the Spotlight panel on Jeff Smith. Jeff created Bone and Rasl, and is a genuinely nice and funny guy. His slide show covered new projects he’s been working on, and in the question and answer section he mentioned the upcoming Bone movie(!).
We also sat in on the Keith Knight Spotlight panel, in which Keith spoke about his weekly comic strip and his new (-ish) daily strip. Keith is a great speaker, a natural entrepreneur, and above all a very funny cartoonist. He brought something up that I found intriguing; his weekly comic, The K Chronicles, was essentially a blog before blogs even existed. When I read it that way, it makes complete sense.
Nicholas Gurewitch, the mad scientist who created Perry Bible Fellowship, is someone either destined to be a Hall of Famer or a delirious bum who dies in a gutter. I’m not sure which. His question and answer section sounded eerily like a Bob Dylan press conference from the 1960’s, in which he would answer the question with a riddle, or he’d answer the question he wanted to be asked. My favorite answer was to the question, “Do you get your ideas directly from life?” He responded, “If we can only write from what we experience, then yes, 100% of my ideas come directly from life.”
We saw about half of a Krazy Kat panel. They showed some home movies of George Herriman with his (then) baby granddaughter. It was pretty cool to see one of my cartoonist heroes come to life, since we are separated by almost a century.
Berkeley Breathed put on a freewheelin’ panel, documented by this post and photographed in this post. I may be the only one, but based on the test footage he showed I’m glad Opus never got made into a movie.
Ray Bradbury is almost 90, but he spoke to hundreds of us and seems entirely lucid, if nearly deaf. Honestly, if it was a choice between ears and brain to go first, I’d choose ears every time. It was a real joy hearing the very first Comic Con guest speak at Comic Con 41. His responses to to questions were in depth and often funny. Not sure why he hates the internet and Obama.
On a panel called Writing Animated Feature Films, four screenwriters discussed the projects they’ve worked on and how they managed to get through them. I say that because apparently, in Hollywood, the writer is almost as low on the totem pole as the caterer (actually, they probably receive less respect than the food dude). Between them, I found both Dean DeBlois and the writer who worked in TV (whose name I could not find in the Programming book, sorry!) to be the most straightforward about their work and what it takes to be creative while working with a group. In all, it was a very informative panel and something that you wouldn’t normally see outside of a writing seminar.
Nate and I found the Nerdiest Guy At Comic Con at the Avatar Press panel. We were there to hear Max Brooks, author of World War Z, talk about how to survive the coming zombie apocalypse. The NGACC asked a dozen questions, and even filmed himself asking one question, as well as Max’s response. Max cut him off after that. We were thrilled to find the NGACC and wanted to ask him out for a drink afterward, to hear him monologue, but thought he might misconstrue our affection as ironic, so we didn’t.
The zombie panel leads me to the next segment of this overly-long post:
Zombies and Vampires
Last year, Twilight brought the vampire lovers to Comic Con en masse. Seriously, there were like 80,000 teenage girls there for one reason (hint: it wasn’t sex). This year, despite the popularity of True Blood – which Isis described to me as softcore porn with vampires – zombies ruled the convention. There was a zombie walk, zombie panels, and two (count ‘em) booths devoted to the comic series Walking Dead. This made me feel good about my book-in-progress, as it is about zombies. I can’t wait to be a millionaire.
Last year I was at Comic Con for two days, while this year I stayed for the whole bloody affair. I got to see more celebrities wandering the convention floor this year, which was pretty cool.
Scott Adsit plays Pete Hornberger on one of my favorite TV shows of all time – OF ALL TIME – 30 Rock. I saw him wandering the convention floor and ran over like a panting doofus. I was smart enough to give him my new Falling Rock collection, but I wasn’t sure how best to convey how awesome I think he is. This was the second time this year I’ve seen Scott – he made an unscheduled appearance at Stumptown. Scott, the next time I see you I promise to be more eloquent.
I saw Seth Green two times: once signing autographs, and once wandering the convention floor with his wife. He would have been swarmed if he got noticed, so I didn’t try to say hello.
Nate and I saw two mega-stars while eating lunch on Thursday. David Hasselhoff was apparently promoting a new reality show. He stood on the roof a double-decker bus, along with a group of dancing girls, shaking his tanned body and singing “Hooked on a Feeling.” His bus was flanked by Knight Rider cars. Kind of the definition of “publicity stunt.” Soon after, our waitress shrieked and ran down the sidewalk. She saw Emilio Estevez. She got her picture taken with him, then came back and told us how bummed she was that she had to work the entire weekend. Despite my description, she was a perfectly good waitress.
Although I didn’t see her personally, Isis and Alex told me that they saw Helen Mirren wearing a Harvey Pekar shirt. Helen Mirren, if you read this blog know this: you are totally awesome. Please visit Falling Rock National Park anytime.
I know. You’re wondering what all this has to do with comics. While Comic Con has become more about pop culture in general, it does manage to retain its comic-centeredness. Most of the convention floor is devoted to booths about comics, either hosted by the creators or the publishers or retailers. I ran into a number of cartoonists either by accident or by visiting their booths. The number of serendipitous meetings leads me to believe there is a great positive energy generated by Comic Con. I won’t try to explain it, but I know it is there.
A partial list, with links to guide you: Greg Means, Stephen Notley, James Sturm, Jeffrey Brown, Nate Powell, Bill Amend, Steve Lieber, Katie Cook, Paul Guinan & Anina Bennett, Raina Telgemeier, Stephen McCranie, Rudy Solis, Dylan Meconis, Dave Kellett.
Although long, this post feels like a snapshot of the full days and nights. A complete write-up would probably feel more like Ulysses and less like a blog. As an event, Comic Con is probably the biggest and best I’ve ever participated in. As a place to meet and spend time with creative and smart people, Comic Con is probably second only to college.