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Matchett’s Musings: Working For GrayHaven Part II

Hey everyone!  Sorry about the delay, had some personal issues both comic and non-comic to deal with.  I’m back and will be posting from my regular Thursday (ish) from next week.  

Working At GrayHaven Part 2:  Bigger and Better (Part 1)

Welcome back to my memories of the stories I published with GrayHaven during my tenure with them both as writer and editor.  Last time we spoke about some of the early volumes I was involved with and some of the early lessons I learned as a creator and some lessons the company learned too.

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.

I won’t waste much time and take you right to where we left off last time with Vol. 7, which I actually wasn’t in…but I was meant to be.

Note:  This section is a lot larger than I anticipated so I have decided to split in half.

Hope you enjoy!

Vol. 7:  Dreams and Nightmares

I don’t really remember much of the submission criteria for this volume but I do remember the story I put forward.   The entire volume was themed with ‘Myth’, which again was a genre I hadn’t played in much and was eager to explore.  I remember really taking a long time coming up with the story that became ‘Until The End’.

The story featured two wizards named Garth and Rex (short for Rexmus) who represented the light and dark side of magic respectfully.  Starting off in modern times the six page story told a tale of them essentially fighting each other since medieval times.  It was a story I was really looking forward to seeing published and I was paired with a new artist to GrayHaven.  I don’t remember this artist’s full name now but I believe his first name was Robert, who upon initial communication was very eager to bring my warring wizard’s to life.

After the initial communication though, he stopped answering e-mails from me and the editor on the book.  He vanished from the face of the earth and by the time we realized he wasn’t going to draw the story, it was too late to find a replacement.  This was my first experience with an artist who had let me down and flash forwarding to today it is something I have come across far too often.

There was nothing that could be done.  There was some talk of turning the story into a webcomic but that never really came to fruition.  The story likely needs a lot of polishing from what I’ve learned in subsequent years (this story was written in 2011 and I would say I’ve grown quite significantly as a writer) but I would still like to see it come to life at some point.

It is true what they say, there is no such thing as a wasted idea and some of this story may even appear as apart of something else entirely down the road, who knows.

My disappointed was short lived however as I was about to begin my most prolific period as a writer for GrayHaven.  The company as a whole was getting bigger and better and it seemed that I was going to face the challenge to do the same creatively

Vol. 9:  Once Upon A Time

Like I’ve said many times before, growing up my biggest influences to me for the rest of my life were likely ‘Batman The Animated Series’ and a complete collection of Arthur Conan Doyle ‘Sherlock Holmes’ stories.  I can likely link everything I have liked or been passionate about back to those two things in some fashion.  Another big influence growing up that I don’t talk about very often is the steady diet of Disney movies I enjoyed in my youth…and even until today.

I’m a big fan of animated films and it all started with Disney films like ‘Aladdin’, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘The Lion King’.  I was really eager to participate in a volume based around Fairy Tales such as Vol. 9 of the Gathering was.  The only stipulation this time was that all stories had to have some moral undertone or ‘lesson’ for readers, just like all good fairy tales do.

I quickly came up with a story where the moral would be ‘always listen to your elders’ and would feature a cast of talking dragons.  I found it hard at the time to think of many fairy tales to feature dragons as protagonists and thought it would be something a really talented artist could sink their teeth into.  Essentially the story revolves around an older dragon telling a younger generation about a volcano where the most dangerous dragon of them all resides.  The young dragons are told to stay away but of course, one of them decides to check out the legend for himself and comes across the dangerous creature first hand.

Upon reflection it’s a pretty simple, straightforward story that really benefits from the art of Paula Cob who I worked with on this story and a few subsequent others.  Paula is a very talented artist whose work I adored when I first saw it in ‘Vol. 3: Heroes’.  She had worked primarily to date with a writer who also happened to be her husband in Ignacio Segura but I was eager to see if she would lend her manga style art to my little fairy tale.

Fortunately for me, she said yes and I’ve had the pleasure of working with Paula on a number of occasions.  I’m still a big fan of her work and find it sad that she doesn’t participate in GrayHaven stories as much as she used to due to her and Ignacio working on a personal project.  Her art style gave my story the scale it needed and I think added a lot to my fairly straightforward tale of doing what you’re told.

I also edited the book but don’t have many memories of it.  This likely means it all ran fairly smoothly which is always something to be celebrated.

Vol. 10:  The Unbelievable Arthur Richmond Is One Smart Cookie

Previously known as ‘the adventure’ volume I believe Vol. 10 is something that to this day sends editor James O’Callaghan into traumatic flashbacks.

A little background about Vol. 10, which began like any other Gathering volume and had people submit stories with a different take on the ‘adventure’ theme.  The trouble was that the amounts of submissions were low so it was decided that the interested parties would take their individual stories and combine them.

The new main story would feature a character called ‘Arthur Richmond’ who would serve as our Indiana Jones style protagonist.  It was up to our editor to figure out how all our individual stories would figure into a larger hole.  For that task, I cannot give but the highest praise to James who took several different stories (including one that had talking birds) and somehow made it work.  I would say he made it work more than any of the rest of us on the editorial staff would have in any case.

My section basically served at the books epilogue where we would discover that the entire tale was one told by an aged Arthur to a pair of young men in an adventurers club.  Of course they don’t believe his story of talking birds and magical cookies (you had to be there) so Arthur goes home, clearly dejected.  The closing scene has him go down in his home to a sizable trophy room, where indeed we discover his stories were all true.

It wasn’t conventional but it somehow did work.  I was proud to be a part of it and thought my epilogue gave it a suitable note to end on.  On this story I was fortunate to work with artist Sam Tung, who was an early GrayHaven fan favorite.   He only worked on a handful of GrayHaven projects before going on to do some production work for Iron Man 3 and GI Joe 2.  Apart from my misfortune regarding my Vol. 7 story, my extremely good fortune with artists seemed to continue.

Volume 11: Silver Age

This volume was a big passion project for GrayHaven publisher, Andrew Goletz.  He wanted to do a volume that would harken back to the classic ‘silver age’ of comics where Marvel where just coming into the eye of the public and comic took themselves a little less seriously.

I was initially tempted to bring back my inept hero from Vol. 3 ‘Commander Cosmo’ when submitting for this volume but it wasn’t an idea Andrew was in favour of.  He wanted to avoid stories that connected to each other as he did not want customers to feel pressured into buying several volumes in order to get a complete story.

Understanding and agreeing with his logic, I decided to do a story revolving around time travel.  I love time travel as a storytelling device and if you meet me for more than five minutes, I would say you’ll soon learn that.  I also decided that I would have a female protagonist as that was something I had yet to do in any of my stories to date.  Regular readers of these articles will know that I feel very passionate about the portrayal of female characters and having more of them in comics, so with that in mind I created Lucy Letwood.

Having stole a time band that her father invented, Lucy was a young woman who finally found herself LOST IN TIME!!!!  I basically wrote this story with a big stupid grin on my face and tried to have as many silver age callbacks as I could cram in.  I was especially proud of having the classic Stan Lee moment where a character would point out that something was crashing through a wall even though we could clearly see it.

It was drawn by an artist named George Amaru who has become something of a GrayHaven staple and is one of my favorite artists to work with.  Not only is George a really nice guy but he is extremely talented.  He gave the story the exact tone it needed and made my silver age multi panel pages work flawlessly.  I’ve worked with George a couple of times since, even tasking him with a Living With Death short ‘The Reporter’ which I released on the comics Facebook fanpage a number of months ago.  I’ve been wanting to work with George on something long term for years but at that time, it wasn’t possible.  These days he is a very busy guy working for GrayHaven, Bluewater and Inverse press on a variety of projects.  When his schedule clears up, I hope to work with George on something long term.

I brought Lucy back in a future volume and would love to tell more of her story at some point.  It was really with this story that I started to get more attached to the characters I was creating.  I didn’t just want them to be there and then gone forever, I saw life in them beyond the stories.

This was when I really wanted to creating larger stories starring some of the Gathering featured characters.  I knew that would have its own problems however.

Next:  More characters I didn’t want to say goodbye to, ghosts that aren’t ghosts and the final Gathering stories.

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

GrayHaven Comics Goes Digital

GrayHaven Comics has announced that they are partnering with Barnes & Noble to offer their library of titles digitally for the Nook. This is the latest announcement regarding digital comics that have included new Android apps from BOOM! and Dark Horse and DC Comics digital comic expansion.

For three years GrayHaven has dedicated itself to providing up and coming creators an opportunity to have their work published, often for the first time through The Gathering anthology while also have star creators like Sterling Gates, Victor Gischler, John Jackson Miller and Gail Simone lend their talents to the books.

In the latter half of 2012 GrayHaven launched the self-contained mini-series Mother and Son and Of Wolf and Woman and will spinoff a new full color horror anthology Tales From the Abyss and in 2013 Phase Two of GrayHaven begins with the release of more self-contained series:

Chronographer by Erica Heflin, Fabio Pio, Edson Alves and Carlos Paul and Run Like Hell by Elena Andrews and George Amaru adapted from the thriller with the same name, 11:59 by Andrew Goletz and Nick Francis, Titanium Star by Victor Gischler and Sam Tung and Tomorrow by John Coker, Jason Hissong and Devin Taylor.

The publisher will be making all their comics available in both print and digital and are actually having a “more aggressive schedule lined up in 2013 and 2014 than ever before.”

10 Questions: The Gathering Edition – Sam Tung

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 AmaruDoug HahnerJames O’Callaghan
Elena AndrewsErica J. HeflinChris Page
Arcadio BolañosTravis M. HolyfieldAmanda Rachels
Marc DeschampsMarc LombardiJason Snyder
Andrew GoletzGlenn Matchett

Up next is artist Sam Tung.

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

Sam Tung: My first published comics work was actually in the first issue of The Gathering!  I’d done some self-published comics in college, and some other freelance illustration and poster work before that.  They’re floating around online if anyone is curious.

GP: Were you a fan of comic books before?

ST: Absolutely — I grew up on a healthy diet of Calvin and Hobbes and Amazing Spider-Man and never stopped.

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

ST: I do, as much as I can find the time.  I don’t read much cape stuff any more, though I really like Bendis and Pichelli’s Ultimate Comics Spider-Man.  I really love Blacksad, and I’ve been really into Claire Wendling’s art lately.  Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples is rocking my world.

GP: How did you get involved with The Gathering?

ST: I was a member on the Jinxworld boards, and I guess at some point I posted some art there.  Andrew saw it and reached out to me when they were putting together their first anthology.  I was fresh out of college and eager for any opportunity to draw, and it sounded like a really cool project.  I’m so glad I jumped on board and have been fortunate enough to work on a number of projects with them.

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

ST: I think I give a higher degree of fidelity to the script, and hope that it all fits in with the overall theme.  I seem to get put on the “horror” stories — I’m not sure what that says about my art!  But I try to tell the story in the script as clearly as possible, and put a lot of thought into concept design.  In my second story, with Evan Valentine, we told a story about the monotony of working in Hell.  I tried to play up the dreadful, unending conveyor belts of work the demons had to do, and the Devil’s creepily cheery, used car salesman-type attitude.

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

ST: My advice would be two-prong: one, draw until your fingers bleed.  To get your art up to professional quality, you’ve got to not only know your anatomy, perspective, and form drawing, but also design, composition and acting.  There are a lot of great resources out there, both print and online, for aspiring artists.  I would recommend picking up The Five C’s of Cinemetography to learn about storytelling and composition, and The Skillful Huntsman to get your design gears turning.  Sketching: The Basics by Steur and Eisen is great if you’re a beginning artist.  James Gurney’s Color and Light for the Realist Painter is also really informative.  A number of DreamWorks storyboard artists have blogs and they’re fantastic resources for visual storytelling.

Second, you’ve got to network.  If you’re the world’s greatest comic book artist but your pages are all in a desk drawer, you’re doing it wrong.  Hustling isn’t always fun but it’s absolutely necessary.  Fortunately, it’s easier now than ever, between Jinxworld and Deviantart and other online places to show off your work.  However, if you want to not only work in comics, but animation or concept art, I would really recommend moving to Los Angeles or New York so you can meet people and get in on “the scene.”

tl;dr work hard, be nice to people and things will happen..

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

ST: Wow, just one lesson?  I feel like I’m still learning so much about drawing, storytelling, and the industry!  I think my best advice is to go out and make something.  This means finishing a project — even if it’s only a five or ten page story that you write and draw entirely on your own.  Finishing a project, small or large, is satisfying and invaluably educational for the next, larger project.

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

ST: Definitely — the last ten to fifteen years have seen an explosion in independent comics.  It was really only very recently that comics stopped being such a superhero-driven medium.  Now, Scott Pilgrim from Oni Press gets a huge movie deal and Walking Dead is a smash hit on AMC.  There’s a lot of great stuff being done online, too — the guys at Penny Arcade seem to do pretty well for themselves.  There are a lot more ways to get noticed, and niche comics to find a fanbase.

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

ST: To an extent, I think this remains to be seen.  People are definitely getting money to produce their own comics projects, but I’m not sure what the larger result is.  Are any of these smaller, self-published books leading to larger visibility for the creator?  Or do they print their 400 copies, send them to the Kickstarter investors and go back to square zero?  I honestly haven’t looked into the “where are they now” aspect of this method of production.  Are publishers or executives in positions to produce future projects ending up with these books?  I’d be curious to learn.

GP: What can we expect from you next?

ST: Well, I work in visual effects so there will be some Hollywood movies with my name in the credits next spring and summer.  I’ll be working on a graphic novel with comedy writer Josie Campbell and colored by my cousin Anita Tung for Committed Comics called Monstersitter which we’re really excited about..  And, of course, I’m working on some projects for The Gathering — I’ll have a seven-page, full-color story in the new, regular Horror anthology and I’ll be working on a larger project as well, but it’s super top secret.

Sorry!  Lots of great new things, all of them hush-hush for the time being!  Stay tuned!!

GrayHaven Phase Two Announcements

GrayHaven Comics has been hinting about their Phase Two for a while now and we got the first of their announcements last week.  Over the weekend they announced more projects, further diversifying their projects and showing why they’re an independent publisher to keep our eyes on.

GrayHaven Comics will be aggressively expanding their publishing line. New One Shots, Mini Series and Ongoings will begin to roll out over the next few months through New York Comic Con and into 2013

In addition to print collections of several of their popular web-comics there’s also the one-shot Sparks, a hard boiled detective drama by Glenn Matchett and Cassandra James and My Geek Family, a heartwarming slice of life tale by Doug Hahner and Dober-Man, a love letter to the Silver Age of comics by Travis Holyfield and Ed Whatley.

They’re also releasing 5 major projects in the first quarter of 2013:

Mini-series:

Chronographer– a time travel mystery by Erica HeflinFabio Pio, Edson Alves and Carlos Paul
Tomorrow sci-fi superheroic epic mini-series by Jason Hissong, John Coker and Devin Taylor
Run Like Hell – the comic adaptation of the hit YA Thriller by Elena Andrews and George Amaru

Ongoing Series:

11:59 – a post-apocalyptic horror series by Andrew Goletz and Nick Francis
Titanium Star a Sci Fi/Western series of mini series by Victor Gischler and Sam Tung

Victor Gischler Launches New Series at GrayHaven Comics

GrayHaven has been teasing it and it’s been brought up numerous times in our running interview series with members of their team, but GrayHaven Comics has announced one of the first books of their “Phase Two” plan.

Victor Gischler, author of the Edgar nominated novel Gun Monkeys as well as numerous other novels and comic book work including Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth, X-Men and The Shadow is joining longtime GrayHaven artist, Sam Tung for the epic Sci Fi/Western Titanium Star.

Titanium Star will launch with it’s first issue in February of 2013.

Almost American