Saturday, 12 December 2015

One More Down, Lots More To Go!

Today I wrote the script for the six page preview of Daughters of Darkness, a series that I'm looking forward to writing in 2016. It features five female protagonists, all of whom possess supernatural abilities, and their stories- which I'm not going to give away just yet. 

Why not? 

Well part of it is that I do not have an artist as of yet and I don't want to get you all excited for something that is most likely a year off from seeing print. So why bring it up at all, you ask? 

The script I just finished marks the twenty-third completed script (LEGACY #9 and New Guard #4 are 2/3 done so they don't count) for the S17 Universe. Nearly two dozen stories written with, to date, only half seeing print. The rest are coming, it'll just take some time for the art to catch up. 

When you work (regularly) for one of the larger comic book companies, you can expect to release a dozen or more books per year. Indie? Well that's all about budget- both dollars and time. Most indie folks have a couple releases per year at the most.  

So why write so far out? 

Why not? One of the things I like best about the world I'm creating for S17 is that i can tell any type of story. Horror, sci-fi, historical, whetever. All of that and more has a place within the pages of S17 comics and novels. 

LEGACY was always viewed as a weekly drama/action show, The Sentries as a big blockbuster movie, Troubleshooters as something akin to The X-Files or Fringe meets The Authority. While those titles are mainly science-based, titles such as Daughters of Darkness, Arcane and Magistrate deal with the magic side of things- each in their own way. 

Metal Monk scratches any sort of marital arts or post-apocalyptic itch you might have while Auroraman, in conjunction with Jeff Burton, is the perfect call-back to the Silver Age zany adventures of comic books past. 

So why bring up Daughters of Darkness? Because I just like throwing it out that there that while you may THINK you know all the cool stuff we're doing at S17, that we've only just begun to show you what we have lined up. There is much, much more to come. 


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Cool Canadian Creators Part 1: My Local Scene

So the other day I posted on my Facebook that S17 has had a crazy amount of support from other Canadian creators and that I wanted to take some time to recognize them and their efforts to promote our books. 

As I sat down and started making a list it became very apparent that there were too many people to cover in one post and that breaking it down to my local scene (Winnipeg and surrounding area), Western and Eastern Canada was the only way to keep it short enough but still give everyone a fair shake at hearing about how great they are and why they are. 

Of course I cannot just stick to Canada, as there have been a number of American creators that have been just as great and that will be the fourth such post. 

It's only fitting that we start with the guy who showed me that a local guy could actually make his own superhero stuff and get it published and out there for folks to read, Mr. AP Fuchs. His Axiom-man series was one of the (as I've mentioned before in several posts) influences on me going the whole self-publishing route and still remains one of the books I look forward to with each new volume. AP has been extremely encouraging as S17 has grown and not only have I been lucky enough to have his support, but also to count him among my friends. On my first Free Comic Book Day as a "pro" I was seated next to AP and he was cool enough to sketch out Paragon (from LEGACY) and write a little blurb to "keep the stories coming", something I fully intend to do. That sketch is now framed and hanging on my office wall. Find out more about AP Fuchs here:

 Rod Salm was a guy who's book I came across when he ran a Kickstarter for it and was drawn in by the title, Death At Your Door. The quick pitch on it is Death decides to... Well, here, check out the very first strip for yourself: 

 Anyhow, I was intrigued and I finally got to meet the man behind it at one of the single day comic cons we have in Winnipeg. Right away I could tell Rod was a great guy- friendly, out-going, quick to show an interest in what I was doing... Just a really cool dude. I was able to get to know Rod a bit more and, when I knew I was going to need a letterer for Canadian Corps, he was my first and only choice; I wanted to find some way to work with him and luckily he agreed. Because Rod is such an awesome fellow, not only did he join as letterer, he took it upon himself to put together a new, fancier website for S17, and it's going to be SO COOL when we go live. Who puts together a wicked website for someone else without even being asked? Rod does because Rod rocks. 

Donovan Yaciuk was introduced to me by Canadian Corps penciller/inker Justin Shauf as someone that he had worked with and said was a "good guy" who might be the solution for our search for a colourist for the book. I was hesitant at first because I'd had a few people in mind for the job already but once I met Donovan... One of the best things ever to happen to S17. His enthusiasm for creating comic books in incredibly infectious and I've always believed passion sells people on projects- with him I expect C.Corps to hit the New York Times Best-Sellers List. Whether it's him chatting up people on the digital colouring process or saying far too kind things about me, Donovan is really one of the good ones. Much like Rod, Donovan has gone above and beyond the call of duty several times as a member of the S17 creative team and when he's not rocking the pages of C.Corps or The Sentries, he's busy being a great dad (a common them among the C.Corps crew) and doing his own fantastic book, Spacepig Hamadeus.  

Speaking of people that I met at conventions, GMB Chomichuk was a gentleman that I met at the same show as Donovan, when he came around to my table and introduced himself. He was very friendly and asked about my books and, while not in the same vein as what he created, he seemed quite happy to listen as I stumbled over my "elevator pitch" about the books. While we were talking, a local podcast interviewer came up and asked him if he'd be able to be on their show- without missing a beat, this man who had just met me, who had plenty of his own works to promote, turned to them and said "It's new local creators like Andrew here who you should be interviewing". I was floored. This guy had literally JUST met me and was pushing my books? But that's what GMB is about. He lives for the community of it all. When the Canadian Corps Kickstarter happened he quickly volunteered some of his art to be used in any way I saw fit. Like I said, he is a true gentleman and I appreciate the things he has done when he has not had to. His website has a ton of cool stuff on it- you can find it here: 
As James D. Miles said, "You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who cannot do anything for him". Mr. Chomichuk is a pretty classy guy, indeed. 

Lytwyn Studios is a local comic studio that, once again, I met at that very same comic con (hint, those are a GREAT place to meet cool people) and since that time I've gotten to hang out with a few of them and talk comics and such. Matt Lytwyn, the head honcho there, has been a very vocal supporter of S17 and he and I have developed a sort of one-upmanship that I quite enjoy as I think it's pushed us both to do more and be better. Jake, one of their artists, was the guy who first came up to the S17 table at the con, and besides having a beard of epic nature, is a super friendly guy with whom I love talking comics. I'm excited to see their books when they are ready to launch them- once again, very different from what I do, but they still sound pretty cool. And, as per Matt's repeated demands (it's not even requests anymore, he's sending goons to my door) I will be working on a few projects with them in the next year. It's very exciting and flattering when people dig your stuff enough that they ask to work with you. Their website is still under construction but they are on the Twitters, as the kids say.

Now for a couple folks that I "met" while doing the Canadian Corps Kickstarter and have since met 2/3 of in person- Chadwick Ginther (author of the FANTASTIC Thunder Road trilogy- if you dig urban fantasy or Norse mythology you HAVE to check it out), Sean Trinder (also an author, his book The Guy Who Pumps Your Gas Hates You is a must read for anyone who has ever worked in that, or any, customer service industry- it's easily one of the best standalone books I've read) and Greg Waller (creator of the comic book Magnitude, a cool book that came out from Ape Entertainment in the mid 2000s). 

All three of the aforementioned gentleman were names that were familiar to me before I launched the Kickstarter but their support and kind words for a fellow local creator was very very cool. They had no reason to invest in the book (beyond all being comic book fans themselves) but they did and I appreciate that. Mr. Ginther even took it another step and interviewed the C.Corps team about the book during the Kickstarter. Greg and I spoke on Facebook about his time and some of his experiences creating Magnitude and I'm looking forward to meeting him in person at the C4 Comic Con later this month. Sean and I got to speak at (because it IS a small world after all) Chadwick's recent book launch and I am pleased to report that he is a super nice guy. How nice? He went straight home and read Canadian Corps after the signing and tweeted about his love of the book. That's pretty nice, I'd say. You can find out more about Mr.Trinder on his Facebook page and Mr. Ginther on his website here:  I strongly encourage you to buy their books- both guys tell great stories and I am a fan of whatever they do next. Greg has sworn me to secrecy but I would say you will hear more from him in the future. 

I'm going to lump two more people together because, well I'm the one writing this damn it, and that's what I'm going to do. Besides those reasons, I'm doing it because they are both Young Adult authors who are, to my knowledge, some of the sharpest ladies you'll meet. Seriously they are both a hoot (ya, I said it) to talk to and while I've only met one face to face, the other and I have engaged in many a conversation online and found her to be quite fun.  

Melinda Friesen and I first met when she (along with AP Fuchs and S17 editor Christine Steendam and myself) embarked on a writer's retreat this past June. Here's a fact you need to know about her: she is a writing machine. Not only did she beat the rest of us word count-wise, she DESTROYED us, cranking out a ridiculous amount of words. Another fact: she is FUNNY. You know that friend you have, that quiet one that just seems to pick their moments to give a friendly shot or wry observation? Ya, that's her. She's always quick to support a fellow creator though- and has always been good enough to share all my posts and tweets and stuff, as well as that of many other local talents. Her novel, Enslavement, is sitting on my bookshelf waiting for me to have some free time to read it (I've read the first 40 pages but haven't had a chance to continue yet) and you can find out more about her on her website: 

The other lady is Jessica Gollub, author of the Hummingbird series, of which I have read the first of the trilogy, The Mark of the Hummingbird. If you like post-apocalyptic style stories this will be up your alley- but it's not like anything you've read before in that sub-genre, or at least nothing I had read. Check it out and you'll see what I mean. What you WON'T see, at least not just yet, is Jessica at a launch or book-signing. Despite being a hilarious and fun person to talk to online, she informs me that is where she prefers to interact (or maybe she's just worried I'll show up and start literally singing her praises in public) but we're working on that. Signing or not, Jessica has become part of this little writer's collective that I am fortunate enough to be part of as well and every one of them is talented and supportive of each other. Even if that support sometimes reaches harassment levels in the vein of DO A SIGNING ALREADY, JESSICA!

Last, but certainly never least, is Christine Steendam. Christine and I have only known each other a few short years but have quickly become close friends and I admire her talent and knowledge to the degree that I hired her as editor for S17. Don't hold it against her for agreeing to such a terrible task; she's very generous that way. As I mentioned, Christine and I are good friends, and because of that friendship (one based on brutal honesty and lots of jokes at each other's expense) she has always been one of my biggest supporters and I hers- with each book she turns out I can see her writing getting better and better (I hope the same can be said of mine!) and I am excited to see where she will be five or ten years from now. Here's a hint: get to know her name- I fully expect it to be gracing the Best-Sellers lists for some time. I always have said that the S17 books are good because of the artists I work with and that rings true of Christine as well as editor and, for the first time ever for me, co-writer, as she joined me on New Guard #2. There's no one else I'd rather work with to make the stories better in S17's books. 

Christine's website is What's with these writers having such unoriginal sounding websites? Get CREATIVE, people! 

Seriously though this is but a fraction of the talented and supportive people that I have met since starting out on this comic book writing journey. Tune in next time to find out about all the cool Canadian creators West of Winnipeg! 




Saturday, 26 September 2015

Kickstarter Tips

Ever since I first backed a Kickstarter, I've been a fan of the crowd-source funding site. Not only is a great way for us indie guys to fund a project, it's even better as a fan, for discovering all sorts of cool things that you might not have ever heard of otherwise. 

To date, I have created one project on Kickstarter (Canadian Corps- 173% funded) and backed 45 projects (unfortunately having had to pass up at least another 15 or 20 that I wanted to back). 

Let me get this out of the way first: I am by no means an expert on running a Kickstarter. I have run exactly ONE. It was successful, yes, but that doesn't make me an expert. What it does mean, is that I have at least a SENSE of what does and does not work. 

Since running the Kickstarter for Canadian Corps, for some reason I've taken to reading through all of the other comics projects that hop up in there- sometimes to make sure I'm not missing out on something cool, sometimes to make sure I pay forward the success that we had with ours, and sometimes because... well, just because. 

While reading through them, I started taking them apart- seeing what I like and didn't like about them. What works and what doesn't. And sometimes getting a little outraged over the stuff that people put out there thinking that it is ready or should be on there. 

Things that drew my ire included a supposed novelist who wanted to raise $30,000+ for his book (which is a LOT of money to produce a novel) and did not capitalize the "i" when referring to himself; among at least two dozen other errors in spelling and grammar. Now in this day and age of texting and messaging, I can understand a slip or two- we're all guilty of that. I can handle that. But when you are asking people for money to help fund you for a WRITING project and you do that? Really? REALLY?? I just can't deal with that kind of thing. 

Running a Kickstarter is asking people to invest in you and your idea. Not to hand over money because you are poor or cheap and don't want to do it and you're going to take it and forget about them. Some treat it like that, unfortunately, but they should not. You are asking your backers to take part in this journey and, whether you like it or not, that means you are beholden to them for a few things. Like proper spelling. A clear message of what you are trying to achieve and what they will get in return for helping you reach your goal. Kickstarter is a business venture and should be treated as such. 

Part of any business venture is doing research- knowing who your audience will be, what you can offer them, and how you will go about doing that. If you cannot answer those things, you are not ready to launch your Kickstarter. 

For the Canadian Corps KS I looked at the levels that people pledged at on other Kickstarters- what sort of things they wanted and were willing to pay for them. Easy enough, right? A quick look at what's on Kickstarter right now will tell you that there are many who have not done that. When in doubt approach your reward levels as a fan- would YOU be willing to pay $10 for that PDF copy of a 20 page comic book? I know I wouldn't. $5 and we're talking. It's about value to your backers. Make it worth their time. And still worth yours- after all you are trying to raise money, not give things away. It's tricky but it can be done. 

Research everything that you can think of that you might need to tackle- production/printing costs, shipping costs (which is where a LOT of projects run into problems), how long it'll take to finish the project (and it's always safe to assume it'll be longer by a month than what you think it will) and then ask friends and family for any questions that they might have. Get all your stuff lined up before you launch- if you don't, it'll fall apart fast. 

Once you are set up and running the campaign, make sure when people back you that you thank them. When I ran the CC one I made sure to send every backer a personal thank you message- if you're able to do that, do it. It takes literally a minute to do so and that's the least you can do for something throwing $40 at you to make your dream come true. People work hard for their money and they want to know that their pledges are appreciated. And if they take it upon themselves to tell others about it, you HAVE to thank them. That's above and beyond and should be recognized and appreciated as such. 

The real key to running a Kickstarter that performs well is to do all the little things right that you would want to see as a fan- interact with backers on social media, be polite and friendly to those that show an interest in it (I mean you should be those things as a default but...) and show that you've done some work on your project. 

I understand that sometimes the cost of a project is so insurmountable that the only way to do it is to seek outside funding, but do SOMETHING to show people that you've at least STARTED working on it. If you're funding an album- have a song for people to hear (even if it's just you in your bedroom and an acoustic guitar). If it's a comic book, have some pages for people to look at. A board game? Samples or mock-ups of what it might look like. This should be common sense stuff, but so many people drop the ball on this. If you're not willing to invest a little time and money into getting your project ready, you can sure as hell bet no one else is going to be willing to either. 

Use common sense, think like a fan, be polite and engage those who show an interest. It's not hard stuff, though it does involve a lot of hard work. If you're willing to do it however, you'll succeed. 

Or you can hire me for cheap and I'll look it over for you- odds are that I'll be checking out anyhow if it's a comic book, and be ripping it apart. For a small fee, I'll tell you how to fix it. ;)  

Best of luck!


The Challenge of Creating Indie Comic Books In Canada

Wow, that sure sounds like a fancy title for one of my blog posts, eh? Usually it's things like "Why I Like Cheeseburgers" or "Neat Things You Should Read".

Either way, it's accurate and what this post is about. 

This is not a knock against indie comics creators anywhere else- I know for a fact many of them face quite a few of the same challenges that we here in the Great White North have, but that's for them to write about, and this is what I am doing. I can say one thing- no matter what country you make indie comics in, you work your ass off to do so and you have my respect for that. As you should everyone else's that has ever made anything- the effort and time required to create is not something that you can quantify as anything more than "a lot". Even when things come easily, there' the journey that took you to that point. Alas, I digress. 

Creating comic books in Canada is full of many challenges that are unique to living here. First and foremost is that for independent creators, there are very few places where you can get your work actually printed. True, there are many quality printing companies throughout the country, but very few of them offer traditional comic book printing and those that do expect BASE print runs of 10,000+. Even at $1 each, that is far more money than most indie creators have. You're going to sit on most of that, even if the book sells well, for awhile and that is a ton of money to invest. 

Solutions to that come in one of three ways: don't print and stay strictly digital, find a different format (usually fancier and costing more) to print in, or go with a printer from either China (takes forever and quality is inconsistent) or the United States. Which brings us to the next challenge: paying in US dollars. 

Anytime you source out of Canada, whether for printing or for talent (aka artists), you pay in US money. Three years ago when I started making comics, it wasn't so bad- $1 Canadian was equal to $0.92 American. This has changed considerably since then, with the Canadian dollar averaging only 70 CENTS over the last year. 

What does that mean? It means when you pay an artist $300US you are actually putting out nearly $400 Canadian. 25-30% above the actual "cost" of what you are paying. If you average an indie comic's cost at $4000US (it's quite often higher), that means that, for a Canadian publisher, that book is setting them back over $5200. BEFORE it goes to print. 

Following that math, let's say we print with a US company, 200 copies of said book. Not a lot, but good enough for a decent selling convention. The average price for printing a 24 page comic book is $2.75 per book. US dollars. Two hundred books at $2.75 each, after exchange, comes to roughly $715 Canadian. Plus shipping. 

In the past three years, shipping from the US to Canada (and vice versa) has tripled in cost as fuel prices have gone up. Paying close to a dollar per book for shipping is not unheard of- and that's just regular no-frills shipping. With shipping thrown in, this single book has cost roughly $6000 for 200 copies. 

Unless you're able to sell those 200 copies for $30 each (good luck on that!), you clearly will not make money back this go around on it, and will have to continue to print books to start making a dent in the costs. Indie comics typically sell between $5-$10/copy, so assuming a price of $8 each means you will need to sell 1600+ copies to break even. 

Why so many? Why, that brings us to challenge number three! Getting the books out there. 

Many comic stores are run by awesome people who want nothing more than to help comics creators get out there and show off their stuff. Those same awesome people unfortunately work on very tight budgets with even more limited room to showcase their goods. What does that mean? It means that if you are lucky and have a great shop to work with, you may get a small space for your books and will sell them on consignment. If you are unlucky, you'll have to find somewhere else to sell your books. The most popular place to do so, of course being comic book conventions. 

Conventions are a great place to get your books out for people to see. Often folks are there looking for that kind of thing when they go there, though in recent years I, personally, have seen less and less people buying and more just checking stuff out as the emphasis has shifted away from comics and more to pop culture celebrations. I have a blast either way, but as a publisher, I want to see people spending money. Preferably on my books. 

There are always costs that are incurred in doing conventions- the tables, hotel rooms if applicable, travel to and from, and of course food and drinks. None of that comes cheap. Even if it's a local con, you can expect it to run you hundreds of dollars. Luckily these days we seem to have more and more conventions across Canada. I just got back from the fantastic SaskExpo last weekend and am very much looking forward to doing the C4 Comic Con in Winnipeg at the end of next month.   

The only problem with doing conventions in Canada, and it's also the same problem as generally getting your books out, is the distance. Canada is not a small country and getting across this great nation is time-consuming and expensive. It's also what you have to do if you want to build a following for your books. You might be able to get great digital sales (and more power to you if you can) but nothing sells a book like the creators getting to talk to the fans and general public about it. I've said it time and again, passion sells projects. Even more so than talent. 

So, so far we've covered the actual costs of making a book, the printing and shipping the book and the getting it out there. All of this is true of any indie comic book, all made a little harder due to the Canadian dollar these days, and I'm going to touch on one more; being a CANADIAN creator. 

As I said, I attended SaskExpo this past weekend, and one of the things I was able to do was take part in a Canadian Comics Creator panel alongside Justin and Donovan (my Canadian Corps creative partners) as well as Kurtis Wiebe (Rat Queens- great book, buy it) and Ed Brisson. One of the things that came up during the panel was about identifying as Canadian comic book creators and how, yes even though we're living in a global community now, that many creators don't make it a point that they are from here. 

In fact, many of them seem embarrassed to admit where they are from (nothing that is unique to comics, many entertainment industries seem like that) and yet some of the biggest names in the field are from Canada- David Finch, Marcus To, Jason Fabok, Ty Templeton, Fiona Staples, and many more. Jeff Lemire too, but he's from Toronto and well all know Toronto doesn't count itself with the rest of the nation. (I kid, sort of.)

Being a Canadian creator has a variety of challenges because people have certain expectations of what you should do or be- they want you to acknowledge your routes/where you are from but not in a way that is TOO Canadian (no Tim Horton's jokes apparently) but at the same time they want all the bombastic action and adventure one might find in an American production. It's a fine line to straddle. American enough for commercial success but Canadian enough that you aren't too American. Crazy, right? It's tough but it can be done. If you're willing to put the work in and if the audience is willing to give it a chance. 

A quick little story about that- at SaskExpo I broke one of the rules of selling as an indie comics guy. I had a guy come up and tell me how great it was that we were putting out this Canadian Corps book and how we were all-Canadian creators doing a book about all-Canadian heroes. He went on and on for about five minutes about how him and his friends are always saying that "this is exactly what we want and need more of" (I remember it very clearly) and I thanked him for his interest. 

This is where I made a mistake, however. It was clear that despite his supposed interest, he wasn't going to buy, and I made a comment along the lines that "lots of people say that they want more Canadian content but aren't willing to help support it". Without a doubt part of it was due to frustration, but part of it was merely stating a fact- there will be TONS of people who SAY that they want to support indie comics, but not actually DO it. 

Was I wrong to say what I did? Maybe. It was the truth, though I suppose I didn't have to say it. At the end of the day, all of these are challenges that any creator will face- be it comics, novels, music or art; only you can decide if it is worth it to you to do so. 

I know my answer and I look forward to seeing you at a convention sometime down the road. Maybe you'll buy something, maybe you won't, but maybe you'll have a greater appreciation for the hard work people put in to their projects. It's not easy but we think it's cool and fun and hopefully you will too. On behalf of all my fellow Canadian indie comics creators, thank you for your support.  


Saturday, 12 September 2015

S17 Series Profile: LEGACY

This is the first of a series of profiles that I'll be doing about each of the September17 Productions comic books that will go into the origins of the book as well as the direction of each title going ahead. 

To date six issues of LEGACY have been published and with a seventh on the way in-production, we're only just scratching the surface of the story. For those not familiar with the book, LEGACY is the story of the city of the same name, and its citizens, among them the costumed hero known as Paragon. 

The ideas for LEGACY came to me in 1993 and evolved over the years, but the base concept of the exploration of the city's people as much as the city's hero, stayed the same. This was well before I'd even hear of Kurt Busiek's Astro City (first published in 1995) or read James Robinson's Starman which became a huge influence for the book, not that I'd in any way ever compare LEGACY to either book... Yet. Here's hoping one day, right?

Anyhow, the ideas sat there and I picked away at them over the years, many of the characters and storylines stayed the same, until I began finally writing the scripts back in the end of 2011. 

The first LEGACY script was completed January 6th, 2012. I know this because Cass made me an awesome little congratulations certificate. For close to ten years I hadn't written a story and finishing it was a huge accomplishment and mark the first step to founding S17.

In the first issue I introduced the star-chested hero (who at the time was not given a name- I knew it but I didn't want the readers to- I wanted them to discover him as though they were part of the citizens of Legacy, slowly learning about him and the other characters) and a small number of the supporting cast. The idea was to use the first issue as a trailer of sorts, a hint at what you would find going forth in the series and introduce some of the "cast" as it were. 

As we moved on into the next few books, we got to meet some of the cast- the members of the District Attorney's office whom Paragon (our aforementioned star-adorned superhero) works with in his secret identity, as well as some of the other players of the city. Going ahead, we'll learn more about the other characters that populate Legacy and more about the city itself- its history and its future. 

I've always been a fan of generational stories- ones that take place over decades, if not centuries, and LEGACY (and the city the book is named after) is my take on that sort of story. We'll jump to the far past, the near future, and perhaps the far future, all the while exploring and getting to know the characters of the "present". 

Some issues will be large action-adventure types, with sprawling super battles that affect the entire city, and some will be "quiet" stories that dig into the history and lives of the citizens of Legacy- and not just our main cast, but smaller characters who play roles that affect the larger stories- because after all, each and every life matters and impacts the world around it, whether we realize it or not. 

LEGACY #4 was the first issue to really delve into Paragon's past; we saw some of the reasons he does what he does and who he was before gaining his powers and donning a costume to protect the city. We'll revisit his past again in future issues and see why Alex was chosen to be the man who would lead Legacy back to the shining example it once was. 

I've often compared LEGACY to that of a weekly TV show- each "episode"/issue adding to an overall story, building the world that the characters inhabit. As with TV shows, LEGACY is broken down into "seasons"- in total 10 such seasons are planned- for a total of 120 issues. Ambitious, for sure, but with enough support (and some time to tell them all) there's no reason we can't get through them all. Not all seasons will be 12 issues long though- the first season, in fact, is 15 issues. 

New characters will be introduced along the way and over the course of the series we'll see the different neighborhoods of the city- from the Art Deco buildings of the Robinson area, to the seedy streets of Parker Hill and the struggles of the reigning high school football champions from Delsante Heights. Each character has their own story that will add to the overall depth of the stories and, if all goes as planned, they'll become people whose lives draw you in and maybe that you can even relate to. 

Though hopefully not in the way that a supervillain blew up your car with an energy blast while attempting to take over the city.  ;) 

Legacy is about the life you lead and what you leave behind- who you were to the people in your life and what stories they remember of you. This is the story of the people of this city, this is their LEGACY.


Sunday, 16 August 2015

Names Names Names!

Without a doubt, the thing I hate most about writing is coming up with names for characters. I'm terrible at it. Not codenames- for the superhero stuff, etc., that's easy. I see a word and go "oh that'd be a cool villain name"; no I'm talking about real every day name-names. 

There's a whole bunch of schools on this (not real schools but schools of philosophy- writing philosophy) on how to come up with names- I even have a book called the Character-Naming Sourcebook that goes into each of those different ideas and provides a great list of names and their meanings. It's author, Sherilyn Kenyon, is a fan of that kind of stuff. Lucky her. 

I say that because damn near every character will have a name when you write. Sometimes you can get away with a single name (for throwaway one appearance characters or for truly bad-ass folks- I'm looking at you, Hawk) or a descriptor of the character (example, Robin Hood's Little John) but for most of the folks that populate your fictional world; they're going to have a first and last name. Jerks. 

Sometimes I find a name that I really like and run with it (example Steven Kincaid) other times I find a neat looking name of a real person and change it- which is where I got the name of the Armenetti crime family that controls the Mob in Legacy. Often I think about who the character is and try to find a name that I think suits them as a result. Some names just bring to mind certain characteristics for whatever reasons, and I try to incorporate that. 

One thing I've started doing (it was always the plan in some parts but not as prevalent as it's becoming) is naming after friends or family members. According to that book I mentioned, it's called Tuckerisms, after science fiction, Bob Tucker. I've always enjoyed small inside jokes/nods to things and, what I've also taken to using it in LEGACY is as a way of remembering/honoring loved ones that are no longer around. 

LEGACY especially seemed an appropriate place to do it- that way they still live on in some form- their name and some of the traits that I associated with them. Their legacy lives on in a book called just that. Pretty meta of me, eh? But really it comes down to it being the only way I really know how to honor those that matter/are close to me- with my writing. 

There's a character who you'll first see in LEGACY #8, that is based off of my grandfather, who passed away some years ago, and in fact whose birthday would be tomorrow, the 17th. I have a space station named after my good buddy, Charlie McElvy and a publishing company named after my good friend and editor, Christine Steendam, Steendam Press. 

Even with all that though, I still find names to be the trickiest part of writing. Hopefully one day I'll get the hang of it. 


Where All My Posts At?

I had said awhile back that I wanted to get more consistent with my blog posts- my goal going into 2015 was to do one per week. That fell apart pretty quickly. It's been a busy year and I haven't made writing the priority that I had planned on. Which is ok. 

I know, right? A writer saying that it's ok that they AREN'T writing? Craziness. 

The fact is I've had a lot of things happening away from the keyboard and, as awesome and fun as it is to live in these imaginary worlds I come up with, the real world matters more. Real people are more important than the citizens of Legacy or Grenfell or wherever else I'm writing about. So because of stuff like that and a general inclination to spend my time on other things, it slipped. 

More and more however, things have gotten back to a normal pace (well, they haven't but I'm doing better with my time management) so my aim is to get back to what I'd said back at the end of 2014- a blog entry per week. Or more. 

To hit that goal, a fair bit of this may dive into journal-like stuff instead of whatever format I've done until now. Ok, so there hasn't been a set format- I find that way too restrictive and quite frankly, boring. If I'm going to do this, I want to have some fun. 

Sometimes I'll talk about what I'm currently reading, what's going on in my writing life, music, movies, sports, whatever. And you're welcome to read or not as you please. If you could care less about hockey; skip that one. If you're dying to know my thoughts on the Big Two versus the rest of the comics industry- tune in. 

I'll give on quick warning/disclaimer. Since this isn't a formal sort of thing, expect there to be rambling. I will literally be sitting at a keyboard and typing out whatever the blog is about and posting it- I don't do second drafts on here. Spellcheck, sure, but that's it. 

The series profiles that I had mentioned doing awhile back ARE still coming. I'd wanted to do them sooner but, again, it hasn't worked out yet. More interviews are also coming- since I did the original batch I've met a TON of awesome writers, artists and whatnot- people whom you really should get to know. They're cool as can be and super talented as well. Who doesn't want to get to know people like that?

If there's anything that YOU want to see me write about in here- drop me a line! I am more than happy tackle pretty much anything you can think of. And if I don't know anything about the topic, I'll research it! It's good practice and always fun to learn new stuff. 

Well, that'll be it for today. I'm not going to have a set day (I don't think, anyhow) that I'll be posting new entries, so we'll see you next time. 

Oh and I still plan on knocking out those 52 posts this year. 4 down, 48 more to go. Luckily it's only halfway through August, huh?  ;)  


Monday, 6 July 2015

Writing Schedule For the Second Half of 2015

I've always found I get my best writing results when I throw them out there for everyone to see what I'll be doing so that's what I'm doing here. This way if I don't get things done (don't worry, I will) then you can all call me out on it. So here's what the rest of this year's writing schedule looks like.  



New Guard #3

Troubleshooters #2

8 page pitch for Sci-Fi project


Canadian Corps #3

New Guard #4

Metal Monk: Kung Fu Heavy Metal chapter 2


Canadian Corps #4





TBD (short comic script- 8-12 pages)


NaNoWriMo novel
(toss-up between something from the Grenfell trilogy or the Kincaid series)


TBD (comic script, possibly Bystander)

September is a little light because LEGACY #12 is slated to be 36-48 pages (still haven't decided how much room I'll need for everything) and for November, NaNoWriMo is going to be a marathon of writing- you need to average 1670 words per day to finish a 50,000 word novel in a month. Since I lose the first day being at the C4 Comic Con in Winnipeg, I'll have to average over 2000 words per day to stay in line for completion in time. I've tried to do NaNo a few times now but it's an incredibly busy time of year at the day job and I've never managed to pull it off. This year, however, I will finish, and on time. 

December will be a bit of a "cool down" month as I recover from writing the NaNo novel and get prepared for the new year- I like to have the plan for the year ahead (in terms of what books are being done and who's doing them and when) well in-place before Jan.1 hits. 

In theory I could do it sooner but due to everyone's schedules that's not always possible. It's good to have a plan in place but I find planning too far out gets you in as much trouble as not planning at all. I have a 5 year plan in place and so far, so good. A few bumps along the way but that's to be expected. 

Anyhow, that's what you can expect to see me tweeting/talking about online and in-person over the rest of the year! 

FYI: LEGACY #6 is set for release the last week of this month. 


Sunday, 1 March 2015


Often I write these blog entries about things I'm working on or experiences that I've had since undertaking this comic book making journey. Sometimes I throw in an interview or two (and if you haven't read them, please go back in the archives and check them out, there's quite a few cool people that I've had the chance to talk to) to shake things up or just rant about something that I feel I should talk about for whatever reason. 

This is one of those.  

One of the most over-looked aspects of any creative endeavour is the support that the creative person (in this case we're talking me, the writer) has as they toil away at their craft. 

Man, that sounded fancy, didn't it? 

The fact is, while I've got my head buried in research books, online doing an interview, prepping files for the books or staring at my laptop's blank screen for hours on end (aka writing), someone needs to make sure that I'm not neglecting the basic day to day things (such as eating or going to bed at a decent time) because it's incredibly easy to get lost in what you're doing. 

Writing, to me anyhow, is a drug and when I get really into it, I don't want to do anything BUT write. I fall into my fictional world and everything in the "real" world is an unwanted distraction from the story that I'm trying to tell.

Now this isn't true of ALL creative people, I should make that clear. For most that I know of though, it has at least a kernel of truth. 

So what happens while we're lost in these worlds? Who takes care of things like making sure the household bills are paid on time as we're trying to figure out the history of our fictional world? Or reminds us that we're awesome and WILL finally figure out a way to get our protagonist out of the corner that we've written them into?

Well if you're one of those lucky people, like myself, you have a Cassandra. 

This is essentially my long-winded way (surprise! whoever thought I'd be like that?) of saying that without my wonderful lady, there is no way ANY of this would exist. No, I'm not saying she actually writes the stuff and I just slap my name on it (boy would that save some late nights fretting over scripts!) but without her I wouldn't be able to get this done. Or even would have started writing again.

I first met Cassandra back when I had picked up a part time gas jockey job to help out my buddy David who was running the place. He hadn't been able to find anyone reliable and had asked me to work even just two shifts a week. Begrudgingly I accepted. I didn't need the money, nor did I really want to do the job, but he gave me my pick of shifts and, at the end of the day, I was helping out a friend. 

I took the closing shifts on Sunday and Monday nights, spending the weekends with my kids was more important and during the middle of the week was hardly ideal considering I had an early starting day job. It was on those shifts that I first met Cass.

We hit it off right away and found that one thing we had in common was a love of comic books, the 90s X-Men cartoon being her introduction to her two favorite characters- Gambit and Rogue. To this day they are still her favorite characters, as the many statues, pieces of art and t-shirts will attest to. 

Another co-worker of ours, Mike, had discovered that I used to write/work on my own comic book universe and between the two of them, they convinced me that I should start it up again. I had never published anything with my comic universe, despite having begun work on it over ten years before taking that job. I used those shifts to get back into it and, what started off as picking away at ideas, quickly turned into an avalanche of characters and ideas, all fueled and pushed ahead by the people I worked with, particularly my own personal cheerleader, Cassandra. 

Several times over she would deal with a customer and tell me to just keep writing when I was in the midst of an idea- essentially doing the job I was paid to be doing so that I could work on something that, at the time, I never thought would exist beyond the walls of the gas bar and my own brain. Having completed my eighth comic book story (with 6 officially out there and published) I can happily say that I was wrong. I never believed in it, or really, myself, but SHE did. 

Perhaps if she had known what the odds were of finding artists to work with, the money involved in hiring them and printing a book, and having any sort of success as an independently published writer... She might have encouraged me to get that next customer instead. Or to buy a lottery ticket. 

Knowing her, however, she would have told me to do it anyhow- her belief in myself and my stories borders on... Well let's just say she's my number one fan. Which in itself would be enough of a reason to thank her, but that's just where it starts. 

Along the way we started dating, and nearly five years later, things are still going strong and we've finally moved in together just a few months ago. I can only imagine what she thought living with me would have been like... I'm sure that she never realized that being a self-published comic book creator, that I'd be on-call/working more or less 24-7. That my phone would be going off with emails and messages all day and night and that the financial cost of producing as many books as S17 is would have an impact on vacations together and the like. Vacation time is another thing, as the two weeks I get from my day job are centered around comic cons and other writing events. 

Speaking of cons... Last year at the C4 Comic Con, Cass was an invaluable asset for not only myself, but writing friend AP Fuchs and Canadian Corps artist, Justin Shauf. She watched the tables when we needed to take a bathroom break or just to get away. She made regular food runs so that we didn't have to starve or eat the over-priced and less than stellar convention food. She chatted up customers and made the entire process a thousand times easier than it could have been. Without getting paid a dime. Though, to be fair, I did buy her a few things as a way of saying thank you. Hardly sufficient to make up for everything she did though. She checked us in to the hotel so that I could get a jump on setting up the table even.

And that kind of support happens every day. When I get home from the day job the first thing I do is fire up my laptop and address any emails that I wasn't able to get to during the day, and unusually as I'm doing that, she starts making supper. More often than not, by the time I'm done going through them, checking over art that's come in, etc., supper is ready and we eat together (usually while watching hockey- we ARE Canadian after all) and then sometime later I'll duck in the office to or fire up the laptop again to poke away at this story or that or to talk with a fellow writer about what we're working on (which is a always a great motivator). 

The other night I got together and did a Google Hangout with some writing friends until after midnight- even though she was home from the time I got there, and only a room away, I saw her for maybe five minutes the whole evening. A less understanding and supportive person would have been miffed by being ignored for that long but, great supporter and person that she is, her first thought was to ask if I had as much fun as I thought I was going to have. 

Of course I did.  

Those are just some of the examples of how fantastic and invaluable Cassandra is to me and, if I were to list them all, I'd be writing this every day, 24-7, for the next few months. In other words, anytime you pick up an S17 book, keep in mind that there's no way you'd be reading it if it wasn't for her and everything she does. 

My cheerleader, my friend, my love. Thank you for everything, Cass.

Thursday, 1 January 2015



That's something you're going to see of a fair bit in 2015 from me.

What's it all about? 

So often we hear people talking about how "if only" they had the time to do something they'd have it done. Or "why isn't" such and such a thing better? We all at one point or another just wait for good things to happen to us instead of going out there and making them happen. Or we wait for someone else to make the changes we want to see. Or pick a random date (example New Years) to enact resolutions that really we could have done at any point. 

#BringTheAwesome is a reminder to stop sitting around wishing and saying "if only" or whatever other excuse you can come up with to tell yourself, and to get your butt in gear and start DOING. Bring that awesomeness to life. Be that agent of change. Do that project you've been putting off. Show the world, and more importantly, yourself, that you CAN do it. 

That's it, that's all. There is no magic behind the words, it still means you have to do the work- just reading it won't make it happen. Now get out there and #BringTheAwesome. Can't wait to see what great things we'll all accomplish this year.