Tag Archives: grayhaven

Matchett’s Musings: Working For GrayHaven Part IV

Working At GrayHaven Part 4:  And the rest

During my tenure at GrayHaven there was a lot of evolution and expansion, especially considering the fact that we were smaller than small press.  Our publisher and leader, Andrew Goletz was a fearless man who wanted to make comics that in some way would not only help build the companies profile but also create the comics he thought should be made.

These is why GrayHaven released books that were outside the Gathering, books that we wanted to make and could make because there was no one around to tell us we couldn’t.  Isn’t that the main appeal after all of indie comics?  It may not work out of course but there was no one to tell us we couldn’t try.

These are the tales of those volumes that I penned stories for.  I’m not sure if there as chronologically correct as my previous GrayHaven related articles but I’ll do my best.

Once again this only deals with volumes I was involved with as a writer and is from my own perspective.  Other versions of events may vary, I can only tell you what happened from my perspective

The Dark Vol. 1

The line of comics that would eventually become known collectively under the banner of ‘Limitless’ was, the brainchild of Andrew and one of GrayHaven’s founding editors, James O’Callaghan.  It was basically going to be GrayHaven’s answer to DC’s ‘Vertigo’ line of books where creators could craft ‘darker’, more adult stories.  We very much wanted to keep the Gathering as ‘all ages’ as possible so it was logical for us to create a line of books specifically targeted towards an older audience.

My story in this volume was adapted from a short story I had submitted on a contest the Bendis Board ran back in 2006 or so.  I believe the contest was called ‘the horror story meltdown’ or something like that.  The interest in the contest was low and there were only 3 submissions (including mine) so it was basically declared a 3 way draw.  The story was called ‘In Treatment’ and featured a physiatrist having a session with a seemingly very violent and homicidal patient.  When I was writing it, I took inspiration from ‘horror tales with a twist’ that were frequent staples of shows like ‘The Twilight Zone’ and such.  Basically, at the end of the story it is revealed the psychiatrist is in fact the murderer and she has kidnapped her therapist and is sedating him while torturing him with sessions like the story outlines.

When I wrote my previous article, I talked a lot about how comics can be used like no other medium to ‘mislead’ the reader.  I tried to do that here but I don’t feel I quite pulled it off with the same success I did in ‘The Saloon’.  In truth, I believe that this story was the worst one I produced during my time at GrayHaven (opinions on that one may vary).

The main problem the story had was the amount of words in it.  I just CRAMMED the story full of words that didn’t allow the art to do its job.  Keeping dialogue under control has never been my strong suit (I have gotten noticeably better, I think.  Still working on it.)  I wish I could take a second shot at the story sometime, I think with all I’ve learned in the time since I wrote it, that it would come out significantly better.

I worked on this story with Arcadio Bolanos who was an early GrayHaven workhorse.  Sometimes, Arcadio would illustrate 2 or 3 stories per anthology in the early volumes and was a big help to the company. I actually think his work on ‘In Treatment’ was among his strongest but the story overall is among my worst.  I’m not sure what he’s up to these days, knowing Arcadio I’m sure he is drawing something somewhere.

The Archives

After a period of time, the Limitless line was overhauled and driven by fellow GrayHaven editors, James O’Callaghan and Erica J. Heflin.  One of the main things they wanted to do with this line of GrayHaven books was produce prestige anthologies that had darker themes and fancy things like colour.

The first that Erica wanted to do was ‘The Archives’ which was based on history (either famous history or personal history) and she invited the GrayHaven editorial staff at the time to participate.  I believe at the time her logic was reaching out to people she knew would deliver while we tested out to see if this format would work for us or not.

With all of history available to me, I felt a bit spoiled for choice.  My first instinct was to do a story relating to the Kennedy Assassination (a subject I am fascinated endlessly by).  I then became torn because I also felt like I should do a story involving the Titanic.  Being from Belfast, where the Titanic was constructed and given that it was the 100 year anniversary since the ships doomed voyage, I felt obliged to do a story on it.

The concept stuck with me, so I wrote a story about the Titanic leaving Belfast and its final night, using Thomas Andrews (also from Belfast) as my central focus of the story.  I think I crafted a great story which was wonderfully illustrated by Fabio Jansen.  The story included a jaw dropping double page splash page of the ship in dock that may be some of the best art in any story I’ve ever written.  I believe that Fabio is currently working on a new Inverse project as of this typing.

This was a story I was very proud of and the volume overall was very strong.  I still perhaps need to get around to tell that Kennedy story that was kicking around in my head however…

The Dunes

This was another attempt from GrayHaven to produce a comic that had told one story featuring various different writers and artists.  In many ways, I believe you could almost count it among one of GrayHaven’s first one shots.  It was a murder mystery with a quirky twist that was primarily the brainchild of one of GrayHaven’s earlier unconventional writers in Sasha Makarewicz. 

The story featured a killer that used his victims to make ‘sand angels’ and featuring a protagonist in the style of Dale Cooper by way of Neil Gaiman.  The other writers (including me) were given the first few pages of the story, the overall outline of the story and a specific scene to write.  I was tasked with writing a scene where the protagonist (whose name escapes me) would be questioning the parents of the victim.

I felt I wrote a decent scene and it had some cool stuff I decided to throw in like making a splash page featuring dozens of pictures of the victim formed like mini panels.  I like trying to come up with unusual panel layouts or unconventional ways of telling the story because that takes (to me) as much skill as forming the words on the page.

The segment of the story I wrote also featured a line of dialogue I was particularly proud of.  Essentially the protagonist felt that because he was exploring the latest victims death and absorbing every aspect of her life, he felt he knew her better than even her parents.  The story overall was very non-linear and I felt had an ending that I’m still trying to fathom but was an interesting experiment I was happy to partake in.

The artist who worked on my segment was Gary O’Donnell who is a fellow Irishman.  I didn’t have much direct contact with him on the story and he did a few other projects with GrayHaven.  Last I spoke to him, I believe he was still on the small press scene looking for work.

Hey Kids: Fairy Tales

At GrayHaven it was felt that there aren’t a lot of comics for a younger market.  By and large, comics are usually for older readers with little to no effort put towards getting kids to pick up books.  So we decided to do it ourselves, with a mix of success.  There was a lot of debate during the short lived (as of this typing) ‘Hey Kids’ line about what was or was not appropriate for kids.  For the volumes I contributed to, I very much tried to go along the lines of Disney or Pixar.  I wasn’t looking to talk down to any of my potential readers, I wanted to write stories that not only younger readers could enjoy, but anyone could.

The first ‘Hey Kids’ volume was a follow up to the Gathering’s Fairy Tale issue which had been met with some success.  For this volume, I crafted a traditional fairy tale with a twist that I was very proud of.  In ‘My Darling Hero’, I told a story of a girl who was told by her mother since a young age that the only good way to meet a man was to get herself kidnapped by a brutish monster!

It was very much a tongue-in-cheek tale that sort of turned traditional fairy tale stereotypes on their head, much like Disney’s ‘Enchanted’ or ‘Frozen’ did.  It relied a lot on visual gags that I felt were effectively pulled off by artist, Devon Taylor.

Since his debut in the first fairy tale volume, I fell in love with Devon’s work.  He had a magnificent, highly professional style that I was desperate to apply to a story I wrote.  Poor Devon was likely tortured by my over eagerness but I honestly couldn’t help myself.  As I suspected he would, he knocked it out of the park on the story.  It’s one of my favorites I ever did for GrayHaven.

I think Devon only did a handful of GrayHaven stories, so I was very lucky to have him.  He was long appointed as the artist of a comic the company was released called ‘Tomorrow’ (the status of which I am unsure of) but I hope someone has snatched him up.  If not, I would honestly work with him again any day of the week.

Hey Kids: Superheroes

Another superhero volume after our non-superhero book that everyone thought was a superhero book didn’t perform well in Vol. 3 was always a puzzling decision to me.  Still, at this point I wasn’t involved much in any decision making and since I love superheroes, I looked to contribute a story.

Going again with a slightly unconventional slant, I introduced a rather ineffective group of super villains who look to induct their leaders son into the way of all things evil and such.  The majority of my GrayHaven stories had taken on a darker tone and I loved writing humour so this story (along with ‘My Darling Hero’) let me do just that.

I think this is another story that was restricted by the space I had and was probably too big an idea to cram in to so few pages.  Still, I heard quite a few positive things regarding this story and a lot of people said it made them laugh so…who am I to argue?  I would love to bring these villains back in some fashion (there’s me not wanting to let go of characters again).  Who knows what the future might bring for these characters and all the other ones who I’d like to see more of.

Longtime GrayHaven artist, Nick Francis was my partner on this tale and he did a lot of fun character designs for my cast of villains.  Although a relative latecomer to GrayHaven, Nick did a lot of stories with us and was the penciler for one of the many ill fated ‘Phase 2’ books ’11.59’ which was written by publisher, Andrew Goletz and was bloody good.  I can’t be accused of sucking up either because I left like 5 months ago or so, it really was bloody good.

I believe Nick found himself paying work with another publisher so keep an eye out for his name!

Hey Kids: Sunday Funnies

The idea of this book was to do one page, ‘newspaper’ strip style tales in the style of such classics as ‘Peanuts’ and ‘Calvin & Hobbes’.  This book had a lot of production issues sadly and a lot of drop offs that led me to having not one story but two.

The first was ‘Coltard The Conqueror’, which was a one page light hearted story starring a Dark Vaderish evil space lord in a day in his life.  I basically went ‘Saturday morning cartoon villain’ and went all the way to the end goal with this one.  I had a lot of fun writing it and it all came from when I met someone called ‘Colton’ and called them ‘Coltard’ by mistake.  I thought ‘Coltard’ sounded like the name of an angry villain and the rest, as they say, is history.

I have yet to see this story or recall who drew it sadly.  I’m waiting on my copy of ‘Sunday Funnies’ and let you all know how this one turned out, if anyone out there read it and enjoyed it, let me know!

The second story, featured a meta tale bringing back my haphazard hero from ‘Vol. 3’ of the Gathering, Commander Cosmo.  I was luckily enough to be teamed again with Nathan Lee James on this story and I had a blast bringing the character back with him.  I was even more pleased (and pleasantly amazed) to find that Cosmo featured on the cover which I really was touched to see.

At this stage, I was starting to see the ‘exit’ sign burn brighter and brighter with ‘GrayHaven’ and I wrote this story with that in mind.  I told a story that I felt was funny and ignored nearly every rule that had been drilled into me by various GrayHaven editors over recent times.  I thought the story turned out pretty good (Nathan was kind enough to send it to me) and I hope that somehow, somewhere that Cosmo will live again.

I had some good stories over these volumes.  Largely they were quick hits to keep my writing muscles going while editing was becoming more and more of a priority.

Still, I haven’t even begun to mention the two GrayHaven volumes that would represent my best and worst experiences with the company.

Next:  You Are Not Alone In The Abyss (Except you kind of are)

Got any comments, suggestions or questions? Let me know! Also follow me on Twitter @glenn_matchett

Matchett’s Musings: Creating Sparks Part 3

Creating Sparks Part 3: Do you hear that?

Those that know me will probably be familiar with the fact that if you meet me and talk to me for a significant length of time, you’ll discover my passion for Doctor Who. I could write an entire article on that show itself but for now I want to use it for an analogy.

In the show, one of the Doctor’s foes ‘The Master’ was recently revealed to have a constant drumming in his mind. This noise was the explanation for his villainous ways by and large, I mention it because I too have a similar sound in my mind. It’s not a drum though, it’s more like this.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

Patience has never been one of my attributes. In an infamous issue of classic X-Factor, Peter David wrote a rather famous bit of dialogue from Quicksilver about how he constantly feels pissed off because compared to him, everyone moves so slow. I’m a little like that but I don’t have super speed to blame, I can sometimes just be an impatient jerk.

I’ve always done things fast in terms of deadlines. In University and in comics I heard people jest that I would have the assignment done before there was even an assignment due. I just liked to be early which was a trait I picked up from my mother who at times liked to be 5 hours early for a flight at the airport.

This expediency can be a blessing, I’ve never missed a deadline and people tell me I’m dependable. Of course it can also be a curse because I work at such a rapid rate, I expect everyone else to as well. I need everything done yesterday and in the world of comics, things tend to move at a general glacial pace. I’ve written scripts for volumes that have seen a year (or more) from me finishing my part to it being in my hands. There are still scripts I wrote back in 2012 that I’m still waiting to see published.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

My impatience has led me to make bad decisions, cost me friends and more negative things than I care to remember. It has also allowed me to be an editor at GrayHaven that has more output than any of my peers with regards to completed volumes.

It was this double edged sword of a trait that led to Sparks artist A leaving the book, or rather me asking them to leave. I think they worked on the book for 6-8 months (maybe more, maybe less) and produced 2 character sketches in that time. I tried to be patient with them (or as I could be) contacting them every 2 months or so for a progress update. Eventually I decided to tell them that due to the delay the project had been cancelled.

I did this so I could find someone else. The project of course wasn’t cancelled but I felt this was a decision that was best for the book. I wanted someone who could really dedicate their time and focus to Sparks.  As talented as artist A was, that wasn’t them.

Over this time things had expanded quite a bit at GrayHaven. When I went to Andrew to ask about a replacement artist, he told me that I had to look outside the group of artists working for the company. This made sense to me because since GrayHaven doesn’t pay its contributors, we had to make sure the artists we had were put towards putting out the volumes.

Also by this time, the money I had saved to perhaps pay an artist had been used on another project. I thought back pay was my best option.

The right and wrong of back pay vs. payment is something I will maybe talk about in future. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it here, I just know] what I’ve spent trying to break into comics I have never really gotten back. I’ve even had people steal from me and heard many stories from people who were stolen from. Sometimes making comics isn’t all its cracked up to be.

Along came artist B who said they had a day job, loved the project and back pay wasn’t a problem. A number of months later artist B then contacted me saying they had received an offer for a paying gig and would return ‘if they found the time’.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

Being frank, I found that artist B’s work wasn’t suitable to what I was looking for so for a change it seemed that things were in my favour. I needed someone who would care about the project, whose work I liked and someone I could trust. By this time GrayHaven had progressed on with more ambitious projects than my little British set one shot and it seemed to had been largely quietly forgotten. I don’t blame the company because you have to keep going forwards. If you spend your time on each problem project you’ll drive yourself insane.  I was largely left to my own devices and because of that, I went to the artist who I had wanted from the start, just like it was some sort of odd destiny.

I first became familiar with Kell Smith’s work when she did a cover for us for our 8th anthology that centered around the theme ‘myth’. It was a beautiful cover harkening back to the classic sword in the stone tale that featured King Arthur’s discovery of the mythical sword Excalibur. When I first saw the cover my question was ‘Who is this Kell Smith person?’

I was treated to more lovely covers, prints, pencils and colors by Kell who seemed to be a Swiss army knife of talent. I even had the fortune of working with her on the third volume of GrayHaven’s premier horror title ‘Tales From The Abyss’.

I contacted Kell with the story of my (at that time) over 2 years of headache’s and proposed she join me.  Given my misfortune to this date I didn’t expect a yes. I think Kell is immensely talented and GrayHaven was very fortunate to have someone like her, I didn’t think she would be interested in working with me.

It turns out I was wrong. Kell loved the idea and it seemed that fate had led me all the way back to her. She delivered in my view, beautiful work and brought Mel Sparks, Kathy Ericson and Barry Patterson to life. I was left speechless the first time she showed me the cover because I was brought back to that classroom where it had all been conceived and all the pain, disappointment and broken promises were suddenly worth it.

However getting a product in comics is one thing, getting people to buy it is another.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

Next: Release, Reviews and Marketing

Got any comments, suggestions or questions? Let me know! Also follow me on Twitter @glenn_matchett

Interview: We Talk with Drew Goletz About You Are Not Alone and Kickstarter

6c29c43d7495d0ba84539ef748da40ac_largeYou Are Not Alone was GrayHaven Comics‘ most ambitious project to date, bringing together an overwhelming amount of creators to take on issues like homophobia, racism and violence and tell people everywhere they were not alone.

Launched on Kickstarter, the project met its goal and them some, recently being released and making its way to various organizations dealing with those issues as well as its backers.

GrayHaven has recently launched You Are Not Alone 2, the follow up volume. What good is having the ability to reach people with our stories if we can’t put that to use in a beneficial way? There were so many stories that needed to be told and wouldn’t fit into the first volume.

We got to chat with one of the people behind the project Drew Goletz, the Publisher, Editor in Chief and President of GrayHaven Comics

Graphic Policy: Can you walk us through how You Are Not Alone came together?

Drew Goletz: When the tragedy at Sandy Hook occurred I was glued to the television. So many reports were coming out from social media and the news and as a father…as a human being, it was difficult to watch but I couldn’t turn away. All the reports. The personal stories. It all stayed with me. I was depressed and couldn’t stop thinking about it. Talking about it with some of the other editors was therapeutic in a way and I wanted to do something to honor the memory of the victims. Initially I thought of doing some sort of tribute book or a comic to raise money for families but after thinking about it for a few days it felt like it’d be trying to piggy bank a horrible, tragic event for a creative endeavor. No matter what the intent it rang as opportunistic for me to associate a project with Sandy Hook that soon.

But we still wanted to do something. We had put out a lot of comics and had a lot of talent on board. We decided to do something that could benefit people, particularly younger people before it was too late. Focus on bullying and racism and violence and depression and things that affect kids every day and give them stories with a positive message along with maybe some public service information on where people could go to get the help they need.

I also wanted it to be available for free to those that needed it. Economically, as the project got bigger and bigger that became less of a reality. Though a successful Kickstart we were able to raise enough money where I could offset a lot of costs and make the book available to those schools or youth organizations that wanted it and once the rewards were given away and run through we would make the book for sale for anyone else interested in getting a copy, which is where we are now.

GP: Over 60 creators participated in the release, how many submissions from folks interested to help out did you receive?

DG: Probably twice as many if not more. I was expecting it to touch a nerve but I wasn’t prepared for that type of interest. We are used to ‘open submission’ time being just crazy but this was a book that had soooo much interest early on and the hard part was that most of them were just wonderful. We didn’t want to cut them and the Kickstarter helped us expand from what was initially a 40-50 page comic to a 180 page volume. Unfortunately we still couldn’t accept every story.

GP: Part of the project was to get the book not just too comic fans and backers, but also schools, libraries or youth organizations. Have there been any that have taken you up on that yet?

DG: It was slow going on that front but yes finally there has been some movement there. In the middle of the actual campaign and immediately after there was interest, particularly from schools wanting us to come and speak about the project but I wanted to wait for the book to come out. Now it’s a matter of getting back in touch with people and arranging things. But we have heard from a number of places including non profits and schools who are interested and some libraries and we continue to spread the word and encourage those organizations to contact me to get a copy of the book.

GP: Have you looked at partnering with non-profits that deal with these issues?

DG: We have tried to put the word out to places, particularly anti bullying organizations that just envelop everything the book was about. There have been some stumbling blocks. I’ve been publishing for awhile but I’m less familiar with the ins and outs of non profits and organizations like that so making connections is starting from square one. Some places outright told me that they do their own thing and weren’t interested. Others were a wait and see. The best resource so far has been from readers who’ve gotten their copies and have spoken to people on my behalf and now connections are starting to be made.

GP: The topics covered in this include bullying, depression, homophobia, racism, and violence. What can we as comic fans do to help with these issues?

DG: I think it can start easily in how we treat one another online. We’ve given up hanging around the comic shop to talk about whether Superman could beat the Hulk to posting on Message Boards and Social Media to routinely call creators and fans names, threaten them, call them stupid or just generally bully them from behind the safety of a keyboard. If you see it happening, call people out on it. If you’re at a comic convention, and are a fan of a certain cosplayer or character maybe ask them politely for a picture and be respectful instead of wolf whistling at them or calling them names. Most of us got into comic books because we were fans of these wonderful super hero characters with awesome powers and costumes doing great things. Ask yourself before you post or run your mouth off to make someone feel less than human, ‘what would Superman do?’.

GP: There’s lots of call for more diversity when it comes to creators and characters in the comic industry. What do you think publishers can do, to help foster that beyond just hiring or creating characters?

DG: I think they’re getting better. I believe indie and small press offer more diversity because a lot of times these are creator owned passion projects that come from the heart. They aren’t necessarily trying to meet a bottom line and aren’t as afraid to take chances. DC’s Batwoman and Batwing and Marvel’s X-Men and Ms. Marvel and Mighty Avengers are good examples of them trying to shake up the status quo a bit but maybe offer those books at a lower price point to sway the readers who only buy Batman, Wolverine and Avengers titles to give something new a shot.

I think it’s a shame that the newsstand market has been basically ignored. I get the reasons why but a lot of comic fans discovered this industry through impulse buys at the grocery store or corner market. It’s up to comic companies to get a bit more aggressive in finding an audience. Do something with schools and show off this diverse array of characters that they have outside of Spider-Man, Wolverine, Batman and Superman.

And of course a lot of the responsibility also falls on the fans. For all the complaining that is done about too many Avengers or Batman or ‘Event’ books those are always selling and the titles that go outside the box a little tend to launch soft and quickly slide off the sales chart. You can’t say you want more diversity and then ignore books that come out that offer something different.

GP: The project was funded through a Kickstarter campaign. What lessons did you learn from running it? Any advice for folks looking to start their own?

DG: You have to have a project that interests people and this certainly had that and you need to be able to deliver on that project. We’ve run a few Kickstarts to varying degrees of success. I think this one was our best yet not just in terms of the amount of people involved but how I handled things on my end, lessons learned from previous mistakes. The size of the book forced us into delays and we were off target by about 4 months but I was constantly communicating with backers as to progress so they weren’t in the dark and when the books finally came in I took time off of my day job to ensure that those books went out immediately. I didn’t want anyone who pledged to not get their books or PDFs or whatever. I can still do things better but I think really it comes down to communication. Let people know what’s going on.

GP: To you personally, how does it feel getting this project out there? What has been the response so far?

DG: It feels so good. I’ve said from day one it’s the most important project we’ve ever done. Last Fall I was awarded ‘Comic Book Creator of the Year’ by the Philly Geek Awards for the work on You Are Not Alone.  We missed our deadline by a few months but as soon as the PDF was ready and we posted it for backers it was great to hear the response from people. It was such a great feeling to see this ridiculous amount of boxes arrive and hold the hard copy in my hands, the culmination of over a year of work from so many people. It was even better than the first time I ever saw my name in the credits of a comic.

The response has been amazing. I showed some emails to my other editors and told them that these things are so personal that even though it’d probably help ‘sell’ the book I don’t feel right posting them. People telling me how this book and even working on the project helped their lives in a profound way. I know all the hard work was worth it, now.

GP: You’ve mentioned working on a “working on a follow up book” as “demand warrants.” Are you planning on doing more focused releases on one topic, or keep it mixed like this?

DG: We’re in the process of doing You Are Not Alone 2. It’s a similar anthology covering many of the same themes but a bit smaller. We also have included some of the stories that didn’t make it into the first book.  I think even if there was no overwhelming demand for it we’d still all be on board for doing the project just because of what it is. I think there is a need for these types of stories to be out there and available.

And yeah we have discussed doing more focused themes in the same subject as we think it may be more beneficial to individual needs. If an upcoming Kickstart we’re doing proves to be successful we may actually announce and launch those in the midst of it. Stay tuned!

GP: What can we expect from you and GrayHaven Comics next?

DG: We’ve fine-tuned things internally. We all love putting out great comics and offering opportunities to indie talent but we need the resources to make it happen so we’ve rearranged some stuff and gotten more help so we can keep up with demand. More importantly I’ve fine tuned the ordering. There were some issues where people were waiting way too long for orders and that’s unacceptable so I’ve changed some things in the process and now the turnaround time has been less than a week since December.

The big news is we’ve announced the new themes for our Gathering anthology and Limitless books which coincides with Open Submission time for new writers. It’s always an exciting and busy time and we love seeing the new people submit ideas for the first time as well as returning favorites. Themes this time around will include Kaiju, Redemption, Time Travel, Terrible Jobs, High Seas (On the Water) and Magic.

We’ve also launched a new Kickstarter to help with the You Are Not Alone 2 project and other books in the works.

We’re hoping that this year will finally see the debut of Titanium Star, a sci fi western mini from Victor Gischler and Sam Tung. The first issue is completely done but we want to get a little ahead on the book so there are no delays once it starts rolling.

We also have something planned for our big 5th anniversary extravaganza. The project won’t be released until 2015 but we’ll announce what it’s all about at the end of this year and it’s big. A game changer for GrayHaven.

Get Comics and Help a Charity With Groupees.com

Groupees.com is a website where they organize comic, game, and/or music and bundle them up to benefit charities. Similar to the video game focused Humble Bundle. They’ve launched a Indie Comic bundle with some killer titles including, !, American Terrorist, Evil Diva, Grimm Crew Presents: Dead Future, Grimm Crew Presents: Winter’s Eye, Myth, Smoke & Mirror, Spies, Swipe, The Deadbeat, and The Lexian Chronicles. That’s a whole lot of comics and you get to help a charity!

The platform is aimed at turning the digital download experience into a fun, social event. This campaign includes titles from Alterna, Markosia, Raven Warren, GrayHaven, Angry Viking, and A Wave Blue World. When people buy the bundle they can choose for part of their contribution to be donated to one of 3 wildlife charities, Wolf Haven International, Animal Welfare Institute, and Farm Sanctuary.

Having read a few of these comics, it’s well worth the money, even if it’s just a dollar (we encourage you to give more though). When certain goals are met, new comics unlock as well, this is a great idea and we encourage everyone to pitch in! The event runs until March 6.

Kickstarter Spotlight – You Are Not Alone, The Anti-Bullying Graphic Novel

yanabuttonWhat good is having the ability to publish and reach people with our stories if we can’t put it to use in a more beneficial way?

Raven Gregory, Dirk Manning, Gail Simone and nearly 50 small press writers have come together to create the first original graphic novel from GrayHaven Comics: You Are Not Alone.

We originally covered this story in late December.

To those who have suffered in silence facing abuse because of the color of your skin, sexual orientation, weight or interests. To those who are depressed and feel there is no place left to turn…You are not Alone.

In an effort to get this project into as many hands as possible, as easily as possible, GrayHaven Comics has launched a Kickstarter to help raise funds for printing this 150 plus page book with the goal being to give them away at schools and youth organizations for Free.

Best Pledge: Give as much as you can, this is for a good cause.

Risk: LOW – The GrayHaven team has run numerous Kickstarter projects and come through as promised. Very professional in how they use it and keep folks updated.

YANA_Amaru (1) YANA_Martins (1)

Preview – Chronographer #1

Chronographer #1

Story: Erica J. Heflin
Art: Edson Alves, Fabio Pio, Carlos Paul
Cover: Fabio Pio
Logo Design: Jim MacQuarrie

What if you awoke in the body of a stranger? What if you awoke in another time? Wake up and discover the truth about yourself. Solve the mystery of your past and your future. Join PROJECT CHRONOGRAPHER. Written and lettered by Erica J Heflin (FLESH OF WHITE, THE GATHERING, MOTHER AND SON) Cover by Fabio Pio, Interiors by Edson Alves, Fabio Pio, and Carlos Paul. Logo Design by Jim MacQuarrie.

CHRONOGRAPHER #1 (of 5) launches the ambitious new Phase Two line of self contained projects from GrayHaven and it’s on sale now!

February- Chronographer
March- 11:59 by Andrew Goletz and Nick Francis
April- Titanium Star by Victor Gischler and Sam Tung
May- Run Like Hell by Elena Andrews and George Amaru
June- Living With Death by Glenn Matchett and Alan Anguiano
July- Tomorrow by John Coker, Jason Hissong and Devin Taylor


GrayHaven Comics Looks to Help Those in Need

“You are not alone.” That’s the message that the GrayHaven Comics team is getting out to the world in response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook. As a response to those tragic events in Newtown, CT the comic book team is producing a FREE COMIC BOOK that can be used to help those in need. Topics will cover dangers that many children unfortunately face every day in their lives, racism, homophobia to body issues and so on.

The tragic events of December 14, when 26 innocent people, including 20 children, lost their lives, affected the GrayHaven team. This lead to a discussion between the editors as to what they could do. What could be done?

What good is having the ability to reach people with our stories if we can’t put that to use in a beneficial way?

It goes beyond the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School. It goes beyond the victims of Aurora. This is not about gun violence or gun control. This is not a political statement. This is a statement of being good to your fellow man.

The GrayHaven team thought about Brandon Elizares, a 14 year old boy who took his own life after being bullied for coming out to his friends and classmates.

It’s about Victoria Gray’s African American son who was tied to a locker at his High School as classmates taunted him with cheers of ‘slave for sale’

This is about the 11 year old developmentally challenged child who was held down on a kitchen table by four adults who took turns beating him.

This is about the victims of Jerry Sandusky’s abuse and others like him.

This is about the children who are ridiculed or worse because of the color of their skin. Their sexual orientation. Their mental capacity. Their weight. Their interests.

This is about the children who no longer feel safe going to the movies or to school.

This is about the millions of kids who suffer abuse and suffer in silence thinking that no one cares.

The project is designed to reinforce that these children that are abused, and the many more we don’t know about know they are not alone. The GrayHaven team cares. Those involved in this project care. People care and want to help.

GrayHaven Comics will be publishing You Are Not Alone a very special anthology one shot featuring stories inspired but not based on real life events like the ones mentioned above. With this book they hope to give people the means to get help and know what to do should they ever witness or face such situations themselves. The book will be produced by their editors and distributed for FREE in order to get the message out to as many people who could benefit from it as possible. Along with print volumes they will also offer a free digital version of the book for those that prefer their reading on handhelds. A donation button will be placed on the site for anyone who wants to contribute any amount (be it a dollar or ten) and those funds will go to the charities established for the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

GrayHaven will be taking open submissions for these topics and full details will be released soon. Room will be limited and stories will be capped at 4 pages in length and editorial will guide writers and artists to make sure the material fits the criteria and is suitable for younger readers who they hope to reach with these stories. Interested writers and artists can contact them directly at gatheringanthology@hotmail.com


10 Questions: The Gathering Edition – Sterling Gates

We continue our interview series with members of The Gathering and GrayHaven Comics. We’ve put out the same questions to numerous individuals and can compare their responses. A hopefully intriguing interview series.

Check out our previous interviews.

George Amaru Victor Gischler Cassandra James James O’Callaghan
Elena Andrews Ray Goldfield Nathan Lee James Chris Page
Arcadio Bolaños Andrew Goletz Sean Leonard Amanda Rachels
John M. Coker Doug Hahner William Levert Jason Snyder
Marc Deschamps Erica J. Heflin Marc Lombardi Sam Tung
Donal DeLay Gary Hogan Glenn Matchett Leigh Walls
Nick Francis Travis M. Holyfield Brad Nelson

Up next is writer Sterling Gates.

Graphic Policy: How did you get started in the comic book industry?

Sterling Gates: It’s an extremely long story. The short version is that I spent a few years working as Geoff Johns’ assistant, and through that connection I met DC Comics editor Eddie Berganza. Through Geoff’s help, I was able to sell my first story to DC in 2007, “Fear is a Baby’s Cry.”

GP: Were you a fan of comic books before?

SG: Absolutely. My parents owned a comic book store in Tulsa when I was a kid, so comics have been a part of my life for, well, as long as I can remember. My Dad was a huge Silver Age Marvel collector, so I’d spend hours looking at the covers of his runs of Amazing Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, and the Fantastic Four. I didn’t take ‘em out of the bags, though. Just read the reprints! [laughs]

GP: Do you read comics now? If so, what are some of your current picks?

SG: A lot of DC books, Avengers Academy, Daredevil, Saga, Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor, Batman, Aquaman. And that’s just looking at what’s on my desk right now. I’m a huge fan of what Mark Waid is doing on Daredevil, though. It’s no mistake that book won so many Eisner awards this year. It’s fun, exciting, pitch-perfect superheroism. Marks’s got such a nice handle on Matt’s voice, it’s…well, I’d think Mark were a blind lawyer if I didn’t know any better. Aquaman has a quality to it that I can’t describe. Geoff has made Aquaman cooler than cool (Editor’s note: that’s ice cold!), and for the first time in my life, I consider myself an Aquaman fan.

GP:  How did you get involved with The Gathering?

SG: It was all Gail Simone’s fault. Gail was talking about the anthology on Twitter, and I asked how she got involved and she put me in contact with Drew.

GP: Each issue of The Gathering has a theme, how did that factor into the comic creation?

SG: Well, I’m focusing mostly on horror genre work with The Gathering. I cowrote a story for the Western issue with my friend Cody Cundiff, but I’ve mostly been working on horror stories for the anthology. Usually, I write a lot of superhero fiction, so I’m thankful that Drew has let me go outside my usual zones to play in genre I really love. If you’ve ever spent any time reading my Twitter feed, you’ll know that the horror genre is one of my personal favorites, and it’s nice to get to tell some stories with a horror bent.

GP: What advice would you give to independent creators just breaking into the business?

SG: Read a lot, write a lot, draw a lot.

GP: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned through your experiences?

SG: That I don’t read enough, I don’t write enough, and I don’t draw enough.

GP: Do you think it’s easier today for creators to get published?

SG: Yes. And there are some huge success stories in the self-publishing world, too. Look at 50 Shades of Grey, for example. It was a self-published ebook series, and now book one is the fastest selling novel of all time. Of all time! Incredible.

GP: How do you think technology like social networking or crowdfunding sites like IndieGoGo or Kickstarter are impacting comic book publishing?

SG: It’s diversifying the comic landscape, which is wonderful. We need new stories, new types of stories out there. The other day, I wondered out loud to my friends if a romance-style comic book could find an audience online, or be published through someone’s Kickstarter efforts. Romance and Western comics were huge from the 1940s through the 60s, but publishers discovered they could make more money with the superhero books and those genres died out. With crowdfunding around, could you do modern soap opera-style romance comics? Would people want to read those kinda stories?

GP: What can we expect from you next?

SG: Besides my ongoing horror stories in The Gathering: Tales From The Abyss? I have a couple projects in the works right now (including one outside of comics), but unfortunately I can’t really talk about them until they’re formally announced. Sorry!

10 Questions: The Gathering Edition – Cassandra James

We continue our interview series with members of The Gathering and GrayHaven Comics. We’ve put out the same questions to numerous individuals and can compare their responses. A hopefully intriguing interview series.

Check out our previous interviews.

George Amaru Victor Gischler Nathan Lee James James O’Callaghan
Elena Andrews Ray Goldfield Sean Leonard Chris Page
Arcadio Bolaños Andrew Goletz William Levert Amanda Rachels
John M. Coker Doug Hahner Marc Lombardi Jason Snyder
Marc Deschamps Erica J. Heflin Glenn Matchett Sam Tung
Donal DeLay Gary Hogan Brad Nelson Leigh Walls
Nick Francis Travis M. Holyfield

Up next is artist Cassandra James.

Graphic Policy: How did you get started in the comic book industry?

Cassandra James: I mostly got started through places online like DeviantART and Digital Webbing. By talking with people and learning about the behind-the-scenes production of comics I was able to not only network but really become serious about getting a career penciling comics.

Despite wanting to be a penciller my first professional gig was a small coloring job for Devil’s Due Publishing that I got through a friend on DeviantART, Tim Seeley.

GP: Were you a fan of comic books before?

CJ: Yes! When I was little I used to read the Disney and Sonic the Hedgehog comics and as I got older I became obsessed with the X-Men and Justice League cartoons. It was natural for me to then move onto cape comics as I got older. Characters like Wonder Woman and Professor X have been with me all my life.

GP: Do you read comics now? If so, what are some of your current picks?

CJ: Sadly I don’t have as much time to read comics as I used to but I have a stack of trade paperbacks next to my bed and am constantly buying things on ComiXology. I’m currently really enjoying Dark Horse’s new Conan the Barbarian series, DC’s Ame Comi line, Image Comics’ reboot of Glory and the new Captain Marvel from Marvel comics.

GP: How did you get involved with The Gathering?

CJ: I love this story. One morning I woke up, sit down at my desk with a cup of tea to start my morning email checking and what-not and see that I had a private message over on the Bendis boards, it was from Gail Simone. I opened it and burst into tears; my husband (who’s sitting next to me) panics and asks me what is wrong. I can only smile and point at my screen; Gail was asking if I’d like to illustrate a story she’s written for the next Gathering anthology.

At this stage I haven’t had much comic work and was still very green, so to be asked by one of my favorite writers to draw one of their stories was a pretty big deal. Since then I’ve been able to work with some amazing creators on various Gathering anthologies, it’s been so much fun and I’m so honored!

GP: Each issue of The Gathering has a theme, how did that factor into the comic creation?

CJ: For me it doesn’t factor in too much, mostly because the writer already has the story written by the time it reaches my hands. Although obviously I try and match the style the writer is going for with my art.

GP: What advice would you give to independent creators just breaking into the business?

CJ: Network, network, network! Every gig I’ve gotten has been from posting on a forum or through a friend or creator I’ve previously worked with. People in the industry are very cautious about working with people they don’t know, but one glowing recommendation from someone already in the business will go a long way. (This is why it’s also not a good idea to burn bridges and be a total jerk to an industry pro. The comic business is small and word travels fast, don’t cost yourself a career by acting like a jerk.)

Even if you’re an artist there is a lot you can learn from an editor or a writer and vice versa. Posting your work online is a great way to not only get it seen but to get feedback you may not get anywhere else.

GP: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned through your experiences?

CJ: Deadlines are important. You may look at a comic and think, ‘I can draw better than this, why did this artist get hired?’ The answer to that is usually because said artist could deliver the work in a timely manner. You may produce work that looks like Da Vinci but if it takes you a week to draw a comic page, you’ll never be hired because companies don’t want late books.

The hardest thing for me as a professional was upping my page rate, but with practice and hard work it did happen. I went from one page a month to being able to knock out 6 rough penciled pages a day for my latest Image book.

GP: Do you think it’s easier today for creators to get published?

CJ: I think so. With websites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo it’s been possible for independent creators to self-publish their own books. Not to mention the success of web comics as a publishing medium.

GP:  How do you think technology like social networking or crowdfunding sites like IndieGoGo or Kickstarter are impacting comic book publishing?

CJ: I think they’re a great way of getting books that may not be looked at by the bigger publishing houses out there printed. I was also a part of the successfully funded Womanthology Kickstarter campaign, we had no idea when we started that we’d end up raising over $100,000 in a month.

I think Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are great places to garner support not just from a monetary standpoint but from a market research standpoint. I can only hope that places like Marvel and DC are taking notice of the comics that not only do well, but outstanding well and try and emulate that success for themselves. I feel that many of the bigger comic publishers like the Big Two don’t really take risks with their books, they pander to the same 18 – 30 year old male demographic and I think that successfully funded projects on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo prove that comics are for everyone and can be sold to anyone if you do it right. Comic fans have a lot of money that they’re willing to hand over if you’re willing to produce top quality, original books.

GP: What can we expect from you next?

CJ: I have two more Gathering issues to do (one is an erotic issue, reowr!), the Valentine TPB from Image is coming out in September and the Sparks one-shot written by Glenn Matchett sometime next year.

But besides that no big plans, fingers crossed that I’ll have some big works to lead me into the New Year!

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