Archive for July, 2005



I’ve had a lot of folks asking me lately what I think about the big dust-up over the WIZARD folks wanting to start a WIZARD WORLD show in Atlanta during the same dates as the HEROES CON in Charlotte, NC. I have to be honest and say that I didn’t share the same sense of blistering outrage at their attempt to crush Shelton Drum’s long running and beloved show– because I really wasn’t surprised that they would try to do something like this. As they have been starting WW shows in the many different parts of the country over the past couple of years, I thought it was just a matter of time before Gareb Shamus would get around to trying to take over the South East. Y’see, I don’t think that Gareb Shamus really loves comics– if he ever did. I know that he CLAIMS to love the medium of the comic book and everything about it…. and he may very well HAVE loved comics early on when he started WIZARD MAGAZINE. But now, I’m of the firm opinion that the only thing that Gareb loves about comics anymore is making money from them. He wants to monopolize the ‘collector market’– which is why he’s trying to squeeze out any other decent sized show with his own extravaganzas. If he TRULY loved comics his magazine would cover more than just the same massively over-hyped output from Marvel and DC every single issue. The world of comic books encompasses SO MUCH MORE than Marvel and DC; there’s so many wonderful smaller publishers out there offering amazingly creative work– publishers like ONI, FANTAGRAPHICS, DRAWN AND QUARTERLY, DARK HORSE, IMAGE…. the list goes on and on. But books from those companies are lucky if they ever get a brief mention in the pages of WIZARD. If it’s not X-MEN, SPIDER-MAN, SUPERMAN, BATMAN, AVENGERS or the latest big budget superhero flick, forget it. Even their attempts at covering the indy and small press with WIZARD EDGE concentrated on Jeff Smith and Kevin Smith…. guys who get more than their fair share of press already. And they do this type of coverage in WIZARD to maximize sales.

I will admit to having a personal bias against Gareb Shamus and his magazine. There was a time, when I was working on SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN with Todd Dezago years back that I WANTED to be in their mag. They placed me in their ‘TOP 10 ARTISTS’ list many times during that time. And I would do FREE ARTWORK for them any time they asked me to as prizes for contests they would frequently run. I also did lots of pieces for their articles– and accepted, let’s say, less than fair market payment for those illustrations just to make them happy in hopes of staying in the magazine’s good graces. And they flew me to their big show in Chicago during those years as a guest, it’s true. Unfortunately, they never provided table space for me. They only wanted me to sign at their booth for 1 hour each day of the show and the rest of the time, I had nowhere to be. Honestly, I would have preferred to be home working and earning money. But the fact of the matter is, once I was no longer drawing a SPIDER-MAN title, I was no longer of any use to them. Todd and I tried to get some coverage for our creator-owned TELLOS comic, but were rebuffed. And when we joined with Mark Waid, Kurt Busiek and many other great creators to launch GORILLA COMICS, WIZARD proclaimed that we were dead in the water before we even got out of the gate– which became a self fulfilling prophecy, as fans and retailers read that and decided not to try our books at all. After all, WIZARD magazine said we wouldn’t last, so why waste money on GORILLA…? I still fume over that one. As I have come to learn, if one isn’t working on something that Gareb and Co. deem worthy, one doesn’t exist. And past generosity to the magazine means nothing– there is no reciprocation in that regard. But sure enough– I recently received an invitation from a WIZARD contact through my web site to their November Texas show. Now that I’m drawing SPIDER-MAN again…. lo and behold, I exist again….! Well, I won’t be going.

So I suppose you have to take my opinion on the WIZARD WORLD vs. HEROES CON debate with a grain of salt. But consider this: Shelton Drum truly loves comics and everything they represent. He’s the biggest SPIDER-MAN fan I’ve every encountered…. and he’s also one of the nicest men I’ve ever met. He truly believes that comic books are one of the greatest forms of entertainment ever invented. And his HEROES CONVENTION is a celebration of that form of entertainment– a huge party he throws every year to share that love and excitement with anyone who believes as he does. Shelton certainly doesn’t get rich from these shows, by any means. In fact, I’d wager just the opposite is the case. But he continues to do them every year despite that. He’s always tried to bring the best, most exciting guests he can to the show to share with fans. And HEROES CON for ME, PERSONALLY, is a place that has fostered many wonderful experiences and memories over the 20 years I’ve attended the show as a fan, and later as a professional. I’ve met many wonderful people there, formed lasting friendships and met some of my personal creative heroes (pun firmly intended) as well. It’s the kind of family friendly and comic book-centric show that everyone can be happy and proud to attend. We need MORE shows like Shelton’s HEROES CON– and not a monopolized show circuit by folks only in it for the money and not the enjoyment of the medium we all love so much. We’ve already got a monopoly on the DISTRIBUTION of comics– we don’t need any more of that kind of thing. It only hurts the business.

The fallout of all this has resulted in some very great creators signing up to appear at Shelton’s show next year. Folks like Warren Ellis, Mark Millar, Bryan Hitch and J. Michael Straczynski have all lined up to make the trek to Charlotte. And that’s wonderful. But I know that Shelton has also tried very hard to get others like Brian Michael Bendis, Jim Lee, Michael Turner and J. Scott Campbell to come to the show as well, but to no avail. I’d love to see some or all of those guys make it to Charlotte next year and help spread a little of their creative genius here in the Carolinas. I know they’d be warmly and enthusiastically welcomed and truly appreciated by the great folks who attend Shelton’s show.

This is entry 134.




We are probably going to break a record with the temperature here today. It’s forcast to be 100 degrees– and I’m sure it’ll hit that if not higher. I just checked the outside temp guage on my heating/cooling unit thermostat, and the reading was 106. Now, I’m sure that’s with the humidity and the sun beating directly on the exterior sensor, but that’s just what it would feel like to be outside at this time, I’m sure. I was out running errands yesterday for a few hours– and every time I had to leave the air conditioned sanctuary of my car, it would get a bit difficult to breath. I never knew what the weather forcasters meant by staying indoors when the ‘heat index’ would reach danger levels– especially for old folks and very young children as well as folks with asthma. But I got a little bit of understanding yesterday. The humidity is so high my breathing was a bit labored…. and I’m in pretty good shape. I can’t imagine what it must be like for those folks in the more vulnerable catagories. I’m just very, very grateful that my heat pump is keeping it a wonderful 77 degrees in the house. As much trouble as I’ve had with it over the years, I was terribly afraid that it would choose this time as a perfect opportunity to punk out on me…… but fortunately, it’s holding strong so far.

I hope everyone out there in the path of this temperature beat-down is keeping cool and safe. It’s a perfect day for staying indoors and drawing or reading comics…!

This is Entry 133.




Back in 1998 (or thereabouts… I’m not sure of the exact year), I was sort of in limbo, career-wise. It was a time when Marvel was in upheaval with their bankruptcy problems, and I was in the middle of a dispute with them over an exclusive contract I was on with the company. I wasn’t doing any work for them at this time, and yet no one else could give me work, because I was under that contract. And so Todd Dezago and I began to talk with each other about doing a creator-owned project together. I had been playing with an idea I called DARK SANDS. It was a story set in ancient Persia–about a young man who didn’t know that he was really a prince… the rightful ruler of his country. His father– the former King– had been assassinated when he was a baby, and he had been spirited away by a loyal bodyguard, who over the years, trains the young (unknowing) prince in the arts of combat with a mind toward helping him one day regain his family’s rightful place on the throne. In the meantime, the young prince is somewhat of a free spirit, and is constantly getting himself entangled in all manner of adventures that involve fantastic creatures, magic, treasure and beautiful young maidens. In essence– a sort of Alladin and the Magic Lamp or 1001 Arabian Nights inspired adventure comic. But during the extensive conversations that Todd and I had over the course of a couple of months, DARK SANDS– the idea I initially proposed we do together– turned into something completely different….. something called TELLOS. You can even see some of the threads of similarity running into TELLOS: the young boy who doesn’t know he’s got a hidden secret of great power and importance (the prince/Jarek); the big companion bodyguard (the prince’s companion/Koj); and even the element of a Genie that I wanted to use in DARK SANDS filtered over to TELLOS. It’s funny how one idea will some times morph and bleed into another.

I may, one day, pull DARK SANDS out, dust it off, and actually do something with it. It’s still floating around my synapses, haunting my imagination– whispering “Let us out…”.

This is Entry 132.



Today’s sketch came about from thinking back on my time on FLASH with Mark Waid. It was my first regular, monthly (or as close to monthly as I’ve ever been able to get– that is to say, not very. But I try real hard) assignment– and there couldn’t have been a better way for me to jump into the monthly comics pool than working with Mark on that book. I’ve said this in many interviews I’ve done about FLASH and my career in general– but it bears repeating again here…. the wonderful thing about getting a Mark Waid script for me (especially at that time, being thrown into the crucible of a monthly head first, heart racing and mind screaming “WHAT AM I DOING HERE….??!!?”) was that from the first word, I was drawn into the world that Mark was writing. The characters seemed immediately real to me and therefore, even though my skills were not always up to the task–ESPECIALLY on those first couple of issues– I never balked at anything that Mark asked me to draw. And he asked me to draw a LOT of things that I’d never had to draw before. Things that were immensely difficult to compose and render…. but the stories were always so fresh and the characters so vivid that although I tore out more than ONE hair in frustration at times, I was never resentful of anything Mark was asking for. So, working with Mark was a terrific training ground for everything that was to come later. Drawing those wonderfully crafted, and highly challenging stories on FLASH prepared me for all the work I would be doing from then on. I’ve worked with a great many different writers since that time– and many of the stories they’ve written may have been equally challenging as those early FLASH scripts… but few have been as enjoyable or pushed my limits like they did.


I’ve been getting reports from various comics pro buddies of mine who attended COMICON INTERNATIONAL in San Diego this past weekend. And all of them have told me that they enjoyed themselves totally. I had actually sworn off attending COMICON anymore because of its size and the fact that they seem to be moving so far away from comics and putting a greater emphasis on Hollywood and video games. But after reading Steven Grant’s PERMANENT DAMAGE column over at COMIC BOOK RESOURCES today— as well as hearing how much fun all my friends had at the show, I think I’ve changed my mind. Grant makes some very insightful points about comics and their place in popular culture… especially as they relate to movies and video games. So after all that, I’m thinking I might just have to make the trek to San Diego next year myself. We’ll see.

OK… that’s it for today.

This is Entry 131.


Is it Monday already…?

It’s still (barely) Monday morning…. and I just got up. I was up until 3 a.m. working on a page for FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN. And I spent the entirety of the weekend at the drawing table working on the book. This morning, I’m sleepy, tired and my back and neck both hurt like mad. I’m starting to realize the even though I’m only on the first issue of this book (only 5 pages left…!) I’m already weary of the grind. I’ve heard it said by others in the comics biz before– and now I’m starting to believe it: monthly comics is a young man’s game. It’s such a physical (yes, sitting at a drawing table all day CAN be physically taxing) and mental drain, I’m not sure I can keep it up anymore. We’ll see.

Today’s sketch is just a hodge-podge of images I threw on the page as a warm up this weekend. I’ve really been loving the work that Stuart Immonen has been doing for Marvel lately– and I wanted to play with that thing he does of having a thick, bold line around the images he draws. He’s a brilliant artist, and it was fun to try to emulate his technique, if at least for a sketch or two.



And over the weekend, Marvel released a second cover image I did for the first issue of FN SPIDER-MAN. They decided they wanted to run some trade dress down one side of all the covers for the crossover event that our book kicks off– so they had me work up another cover. They say they might use the first cover I did as a variant– we’ll have to see what they decide. But here’s the image in case you haven’t seen it yet….


OK…. that’s it for today.

This is Entry 130.