Sunday, February 22, 2015

Louisiana Comicon Pain and Gain

We headed out early, or so we thought. On our arrival the line was 2 miles long. The first ever Comicon in Bossier city, Louisiana drew over a thousand people to stand in line. We stood in line because tickets to building capacity sold out in minutes. One person in our group has his ticket and got to in via a different line. We spent a gruesome and painful four hours standing in that line. It rained on us hard, but someone eventually brought  up a tarp. We held it like a tent over our heads for the longest time. For a man with MS, leaning on a cane and a 12 year old high functioning autistic, the day was a massive challenge. I have to give my son props. He made through with minimal complaining. I'm very proud of him.

While that four hours was painful and gives thought to the next con being in a bigger venue, it definitely was not boring. One of the fellows near us brought a didgeridoo and played it from time to time. There were folks in costume everywhere and constantly walking up and down the line. The rains caused a number of folks to give up. Everyone who gave up only served to steel our resolve.

Finally, we got in. You know what? The four hour painful wait was worth it. My feet and knees were screaming at me. I ignored them and had to go on a search for cool con things and people. It's the smallest place I have ever been in for a comicon, but it was still awesome. There were artists, vendors, and celebrities. We were just in time for my wife to make it to a Q and A with actor Nicholas Brendon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Criminal Minds). That made the whole trip for her!

On the way to view the winners of the costume contest I went by his table and said in passing; "You made my wife's whole trip." The man stood up and shook my hand on the spot. It was a very cool moment.

I have to say that all the celebrities there were easily approached and friendly. Mary Kate Smith from King of the Nerds was no exception. She was friendly, witty, and fun to talk to. When she did an autograph for my wife she wrote out a full quote awesome message.

For me, I also went specifically to meet the people of the group Southern Geek (couple of these pics stolen from them- so check out their page for more). I met with the Discount Dark Knight, Rafe and his wife, Shannon. I got to say HI to a couple of our cool geek friends Shane and his lovely fiance Krista. Shane is in his Boba Fett gear that he totally built and he's next to DDK. Shane is with the 501st Legion.

My son got a new stuffed cat and some Minecraft toys. I got some Heroclix and the pic my friend and guest artist Ken Davis did for me. Only two artists have given me their originals (which is by no means a requirement) so that's going in my office! All and all, while today I'm moving like a slug, it was all totally worth it! Big thanks to the awesome lady who put a tarp over our heads and left it with us when she found out she was in the wrong line. Big thanks to all the cool people around us who were friendly and fun to hang out with. Big thanks to the con for all it's efforts and everyone inside.

Next time, we won't fail to get the tickets well ahead of time! I hope! Better yet, maybe I'll be at a table of my own?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Guest Artist: Billy Barnette!

Anubis looking tall and strong
It's been an awesome lineup of guest artists lately and today is no exception. Billy Barnette has actually done three GZ characters; Songcutter, Yxee and Anubis. Billy is man making a breakthrough comeback into art as you wills see from our discussion. To check out more of is astounding work you will need to go to Genesis Studios on Facebook.

GZ: So, Billy, how long have you been doing your art?

BB: Been back at it for 3 years after a 10 year hiatus from drawing altogether.

GZ: Wow. Safe to say your art hasn't suffered from the hiatus. What inspires you the most?

BB: My son. Always has been and always will be.

GZ: I can understand that as I feel the same way about my son. Do you have any upcoming projects?

BB: My buddy, Jeremiah Ciardullo, and I are working on a little something something. We're in the process of getting some pages stacked together and we'll be releasing it later this year.

GZ: Sounds a little mysterious and that makes it cool right there. Are you currently for hire or have commissions open?

BB: Unavailable for hire due to our current project but pretty much always open for a good commission piece.

Yxee with Songcutter in back
GZ: So essentially, long term projects are out, but one shots are a possibility. I know the feeling. I think we're definitely looking forward to what you have coming next. Now, is there any advice you have for budding artists?

BB: It sounds so cliche and I know everyone's heard it all before, but the advice I'd give is  draw, draw, draw. Whatever it might be. And whatever you do, don't go on a ten year hiatus!

Excellent points but, I still stay that hiatus hasn't hurt your work (but we are our own worst critics when it comes to art). Thanks so much for being involved. As the rest of you can see, Billy has his own personal and powerful style that shows in all his work. Captain America here is looking expressive and has a strong jaw profile.

And if that's not solid enough for you, take a look at this. That's some awesome detail and expression if you ask me!  Be sure to add his FB page and check out what's going on for current action.You won't be disappointed. And thanks for tuning in, heroes! See you next time!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Guest Artist: Kevin Woolfork!

I absolutely love showcasing independent artists! The ability to show you the work that you can't see in your mainstream comics or books is an astounding adventure in talent. Today, we take another step in that adventure and bring you Kevin Woolfork. Kevin honored me with a great pic of Major Xeroh from my novel: Chessmen. Check it out!

So I asked him a few questions as I usually do and found his answers detailed and profound.

GZ: So how long have you been doing your art?

Kevin: I have been drawing ever since I can remember. That had to be the most generic answer you get in regards to drawing. I will say that my skill level has always improved exponentially when I am surrounded by other creators creating. It's difficult creating in a vacuum. Without that feedback and constructive criticism, for me, skill and motivation tends to waver.

GZ: I think that's a great answer, actually. Do you have any current projects?

Kevin: Right now I'm working on a project titled ABOUT TIME. It's a slow and steady grind with a very capable young artist, Rafael Gumboc. I found Rafael on one of the Facebook comic forums and he's been knocking it out of the park with every page. It's about a scientific time traveling family. We're bringing trouble, adventure and hopefully dodging cliches. Through my side project FOOLS WORK Designs, I have designed logos, comic covers, T-shirts and banners. That business is very much in its infancy and has a small client base. Hopefully I will have more time to devote to developing that brand in the near future.

GZ: Sounds very cool. Are you otherwise for hire?

Kevin: If anyone saw something in my skill set that they thought could positively impact their project, I AM for hire. I am a self proclaimed writer, but have spent years studying and dissecting comic art and production. I am conversant with, if not proficient in, most aspects of comic production. My independent study includes writing, character design, inking, basic coloring, page laouts, scripting, dialogue, logo design, and graphic design (branding).

GZ: That does sound like you've got some work under your belt. So what inspires you?

Kevin: I gain inspiration from almost everywhere. I try to find something to motivate me to improve my skills no matter what I see. If something doesn't appeal to me but is finished, I am inspired by it being done. If it's great, I'm given a standard to strive towards. I'm motivated by the things I can't do. I want to be able to do ALL aspects of creating so I know what I'm asking of collaborators. Currently I'm frustrated yet inspired by loading brushes for my Wacom tablet so I can ink and color digitally and learning the basics of comic book lettering. I'm also trying to decipher the controls in Manga Studio. I've heard from many creators that is'a a more intuitive program specific to comic production versus Photoshop which is photo manipulation software the comic book industry hijacked.

To see more of Kevin's work you can check out his Deviantart page, contact him at his Facebook page, or just email him at

In visiting his Devaintart page, you will see that Kevin's work is diverse in many ways, just as he describes above. Even in what he calls a quick sketch, his talents shine through. I particularly liked this gender swap Falcon work.

As always, big thank go out to Kevin and all guest artists for all the amazing talents they share. Don't miss out on independent artists, you never know what you'll see!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Guest artist Darren McCay!

I love doing the guest artist spots so I can showcase independent talents from all over. Today we go to Northern Ireland and hear from artist Darren McCay. Just check out the recent work he did on my character, Falconer from my first novel.

Darren's work has a retro feel that can take you back to the golden age of comics but certainly is not limited in any way. Strong lines, colors and proportions tell a story with every pic he does. I sent him some interview questions and his answer was so concise that I don't want to break it up into the question segments. So here's Darren:

Cheers, Dave. I've been drawing superheroes since I was 5 and I'm 44 now. I'm a family man with two teenagers (the daughter, Brogan, is a world champion Irish dancer). 
I'm working on my own story called Icons which is a superhero epic spanning decades from the "birth" of the classic superhero to the near future. I've been reading comics all my life and I think I've come up with something original.

With this story I intend to do the opposite of say, Watchmen and construct the superhero from the ground up and make them relevant in the modern world. The emphasis of my story is on symbolism and iconography . Every hero must wear a unique symbol and keep their identity secret as it is integral to the survival of the heroes. I can't really say much more about the story but I will be doing a stand alone intro story which will lay the foundations and give an overall insight into the Icons universe. So far I've created about 60 heroes though many will just be peripheral characters. I need to fill each decade so there my be more before I'm done. My favourite character is Vanguard, my Superman analogue , although there is far more to him than you would think. My main problem is finding the time to draw as I have a day job but I should get something out in the near future.

I think it sounds like an amazing story line. I certainly wish him all the possible luck! Now check out these works of his.
Strong and expressive here. You can feel the action. Eye expression conveys powerful emotion and posing just makes the whole thing pop.

Be sure to add his Facebook fan page HERE
Nothing says cool like solid pencil work! Follow that link to his page and take a tour. Be on the look out for Icons! It looks to be a heck of a story.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Arting it up for the board game!

Watch out for the reality warp!
I admit, I've been dealing with writer's block for the last two weeks on what to even put here. I've also been super busy. So today, I want to share with you some of the artwork I've been doing for the first GZ board game, based on characters from my novel, Chessmen: Opening Moves. But hold on! There's a little secret you need to know first about this artwork.

It may not be the actual art for the published game. There is someone working in the background and if this works out, you will have your mind blown. So take the images you see with a grain of salt. They are basically what the art will look like, but only basically. Wink wink!

The game is all about completing your goal for you side of the balance (good or evil) and a whole lot of crazy stuff can happen on your way. You'll enlist the help of characters from your side of the balance and set off events that change game play several times over. I think I can show you what's in the game easiest by card types.

CHARACTERS: In a game for up to 6 players you will randomly be assigned a character type. Inventor, Speedster, Soldier, Wizard, Strongman, or Psychic will be who you are for the duration of your game play (or until your character gets killed because yes; that can happen.

GOALS: Also given at random, you will have a goal to complete in order to win the game. They all involve completing a series of tasks like defeating monsters or finding artifacts. I won't get into full detail on all of them, but you get the idea I think.

POWERS: Everyone gets a random power to boost their game play, but don't expect it to be permanent. There are 8 possibilities and they can change.

SPELLS: It's possible to be able to use powerful spells. But their use is also not permanent and they are easy come easy go! Use them while you have the chance!

Then we come to the main deck and I'm going to leave that for now. After all, this is just a sneak peek of what's to come! I will say it's where you find artifacts, items, and trigger amazing events that affect everyone. Now enjoy these artistic bits and click on images for larger view. You can also get the book this is based on by clicking on my Author's page in the links on the right. 99 cents for kindle or kindle app!!

Fire Scroll
Anti-magic grenede

Magic Sword
Laser rifle

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year update 2015!

Plans are big for the new year! I have lots of work to get done and I've even put new deadlines in the works. In this blog you'll see some recently done artwork. Where it's used depends on "other things to come". So consider them mystery sneak peeks.

The novel, Chaos Rising is on delay. I'm hoping to have it available for February.

GZ the Boardgame: Chessmen Edition is in art stage as last reported. Deadline is set for April or early May so manufacturing has time to get it ready. Why? Because we'd like to take the game to Geekonomicon in December! We will likely have a kickstarter between now and then for the manufacturing. That means a chance to get your hands on a copy before it makes it's official debut! So stay tuned this year!

GZ Tales Volume 2 is still slated for this year. Hopefully by Summer!

Chessmen 2 is planned for late Summer or early Fall.

Lots of new artwork is coming as I update old pics and practice with new ones.

Guest Artists! Yep, I'll still do guest artists. Anyone who draws a GZ character will have it posted as the main illustration for the article and then more of their work will be showcased. I may even have the first of this year for next week!

Other books in planning are, The Arconian Chronicles and the yet untitled book that will follow Chaos Rising. So much story history, so little time!

I really am excited about the new year. It looks like there's going to be a lot happening and lots to build towards. With some effort and a bit of luck, we'll be set up for and explosive 2016! Always forward!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Holiday Jamboree 2014!

It's Christmas Eve and all across the GZ universe things are getting pretty festive! Some heroes use their amazing powers to bring even more color and joy to the season. Some give gifts like only they know how! On Earth we find PAC and friends sharing in Christmas spirit!

Sandstorm is the one guy who can BE the tree! He visits disabled children over the holidays and lets them decorate him. Fun for all ages! What does he want for Christmas? Sandstorm has a model car collection that impresses the most hard core collectors. The rarer the car the better, but he'll take anything.

Need someone to power the lights? Electrode powers a full light show at Rockefeller center every year. His favorite gift to give? Rechargeable batteries of course! He's a comic book collector with over 30,000 books. He doesn't care what the story is, he just loves comic books. So comic paraphernalia is at the top of his wish list.

Nyhtwulf wants nothing but cream cheese squares in foil since its his favorite treat; but Blacktide has been getting him into classic movies. Nyhtwulf's favorite holiday activity is shredding wrapping paper.

Anubis and Horus are the tricksters to watch out for because you never know what a gift box from them may contain. They once created a peanut butter bomb for King Falcon. Thank goodness for instant cleaning from cosmic powers!

In the deep south, the Gator decorates his own corner of his swamp for the holidays. He holds on to the festive nature known in the south near New Orleans and might even let a guest or two come to visit. All Gator really wants is peace and about 200 lbs of great Cajun eating. Who are we to say no? Would you?

And don't think for one second that there's no one under the mistletoe! Nightfall and Dreamseer are waiting for their guys to find them! Anubis and Atomizer are in for a holiday surprise of epic proportions! They better not have forgotten gifts this year!

So it really goes without saying that the whole of the GZ universe wishes you and yours a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hannukah, Blessed Kwanza, or just a wonderful time! See you next year with the New Year's update!