Comics

New Book: Aspen Mascots Halloween ComicFest 2018!

 Aspen's 2018 Halloween ComicFest  Aspen Mascots  cover, art by yours truly, inked by  Gabe Carrasco , and colored by  Justice !

Aspen's 2018 Halloween ComicFest Aspen Mascots cover, art by yours truly, inked by Gabe Carrasco, and colored by Justice!

Exciting news-- this year's Halloween ComicFest titles have officially been announced, and this year, Aspen will be presenting Aspen Mascots as theirs! I did the cover for it, which was revealed yesterday-- and it's the first cover I've done since Everstar back in 2014. I'm so excited about how it turned out. 

The inside will be coloring-book style as usual, and it'll feature my pages from Aspen Mascots as well as games and puzzles! It'll be available FOR FREE at a participating comic book store near you this October.

A complete listing of all the HCF titles, including the HCF Commemorative T-Shirt by Eisner Award-winning creator Eric Powell, can be found in the July issue of Diamond Comic Distributors’ PREVIEWS catalog, on sale at all local comic shops on June 27th, 2018.
— HalloweenComicFest.com

Check out my posts about previous years' Halloween ComicFests with Aspen!

In Comic Stores Near You - Aspen Mascots

Today I've got some really exciting news... well, news that I probably should've shared two months ago but NEVERTHELESS...

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I've been working with Aspen Comics since late last year on an all-ages title called Mascots! The story is written by Vince Hernandez, penciled and inked by Joie Foster (ME, in case somehow you're lost and don't know whose blog you're on...), colored by Justice, lettered by Micah Myers, and edited by Gabe Carrasco.

What's it about??

 This sums is up rather nicely!

This sums is up rather nicely!

A milipede villain (villipede?) named Wormier must rescue his worm-y village by any means necessary, and builds a time machine to achieve his goals! And of course because it's time travel, nothing works the way he wants it to and he goes off on a zany adventure through time with his gryphon buddy, Griff. Yes, a gryphon named Griff. It's a thing. A ton of the mascots, creatures, and other critters from popular Aspen titles are involved, so be ready to get your cute-and-hilarious on!

 Featuring a sense of humor that is very in tune with my own...

Featuring a sense of humor that is very in tune with my own...

How do I buy the thing??

At your local comic book store in the back of any Aspen title that comes out this year! And... uh... turns out Chapter One came out in February, Chapter two in March, and Chapter Three this month... so I'm a bit late to the game in telling y'all about this. Whoops!

 At least that means you can binge read it?

At least that means you can binge read it?

Luckily, most comic stores have issues from the last several months so if you go, you can probably still find the books that my story is in. Also, here's a handy-dandy list to make your shopping trip easier:

  • Chapter 1 can be found in: Charismagic (vol 3) #1, Shrugged 3 #1 
  • Chapter 2 is in: Charismagic (vol 3) #2, Shrugged 3 #2, Jirni (vol 3) #1
  • Chapter 3 is in: Charismagic (vol 3) #3, Portal Bound #1

And for those of you who are visual:

 A gratuitous shot of my comp copies to make life easier for you... including Portal Bound which you should DEFINITELY check out since my buddy Gabe is a writer on it!

A gratuitous shot of my comp copies to make life easier for you... including Portal Bound which you should DEFINITELY check out since my buddy Gabe is a writer on it!

Buy and then read all the things, and then tell me what you think. Be gentle, us artists are delicate beings.

Chapter 4 comes out soon, so make sure you're ready for it! (Oh... uh. Speaking of, I'M not ready for it, so I better get back to the drawing table like NOW...)

 Typical artist.

Typical artist.

Halloween ComicFest 2017!

Wow, I've been a little absent these last few weeks, haven't I? I have tons of blog posts planned, but have found myself a little, um... busy. I recently started a new in-studio job (the art test I had to do for it was referenced in my work-cation post, details to come later).

So, in the meantime... Halloween has come and gone, and with it-- Halloween ComicFest! I'm super excited because that means not only do I have comp copies in my grubby little hands, but I can also share my pages with you! So without further ado, here they are!

 The Cover! By Simone Di Meo-- and perfection, b/c there's a Stranger Things 2 ad on the back!

The Cover! By Simone Di Meo-- and perfection, b/c there's a Stranger Things 2 ad on the back!

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 Two of the pages in action, with letters!

Two of the pages in action, with letters!

How to Make an Ashcan Comic

Are you a comic artist? Wanting to sell the artwork you create is a pretty natural step, especially if you're signed up to do an Artist Alley at a convention. But how to get your work out there? One fun DIY approach is to create what's known as an ashcan comic!

This guide is by no means exhaustive, but I'm covering the basics and have links for further information at the bottom!

  Guilty Horse , an ashcan I created out of a personal challenge to draw an entire comic in ballpoint pen only.

Guilty Horse, an ashcan I created out of a personal challenge to draw an entire comic in ballpoint pen only.

What's an Ashcan?

According to Wikipedia, the roots of ashcan comics lie in creating quick prints used solely for copyrights that weren't intended for distribution (eg, "goes straight to the incinerator"). Also known as "zines," nowadays they are essentially mini comics, typically measuring 8.5" x 5.5". This is the most useful for doing small print runs, creating a collectible, or especially when an artist doesn't have a ton of printing money.

While I have seen them come in several different sizes, professionally printed, or even full color, traditionally they are black and white and stapled (lovingly) by hand. Their subject matter can vary wildly, up to and including non-comic ashcans with more illustrative or abstract approaches. I've even seen small prose books done this way! Illustrators, this applies to you too-- this method can also be used to create an artist sketchbook.

A fine example of an ashcan, Precipice, by Mom Comics! Check out the rest of her amazing work here!

Basically you can do whatever you want. Don't let anyone tell you how to live your life! I WON'T BE A PART OF YOUR SYSTE--. Ahem. Back to the topic at hand. 

Prep Work: Getting Your Comic Printed

When you're done drawing, scanning, and otherwise creating your artwork, you've got to prep the files for printing. A nice perk of an ashcan is that you can print four pages per US standard 8.5" x 11" paper sheet. This means two comic pages per side, printed on both sides. The less actual pieces of paper you have to print on, the lower your costs! If you have a nice enough printer and paper at home, you can print your book right from your desk... but if that isn't possible for one reason or another, local printers (or places like Staples or Kinkos) tend to only charge around $0.10 per side of B&W printing.

Laying the book out can be the toughest part to get right, since you have to think in terms of a folded book and how those pages stack together. To print Guilty Horse, this is how I laid out my pages:

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So the first two pages "12 & 1 and 2 & 11" are printed on the same sheet of paper flipped on the "short edge." This means that when the printer is finished printing page "12 & 1," it flips the paper over on the short side and prints "2 & 11" on the back. That makes sure that both pages are facing the same way, and that it'll all make sense when stacked together. This entire print job is only four pieces of paper!

Down ' n Dirty Printing Quick Guide:

-Make sure your files are at least 300 DPI, or your linework will be all fuzzy!
-Keep important parts of artwork and text away from the edges of your pages or they might get cut off on accident. A general rule of thumb is to leave at least 1/4" gutters all around (and in the middle where you'll be stapling, too!), and have your text even further in, just in case.

 See you on the "flip side." Haha, printing jokes.

See you on the "flip side." Haha, printing jokes.

If you have the budget, one fun thing I like to do is get my cover printed separately on colored cardstock. Preferably neon, so it stands out! It also gives the ashcan a higher quality and durability.

 I asked the FedEx dude for "the most retina burning cardstock they had."

I asked the FedEx dude for "the most retina burning cardstock they had."

Assembling the Comic

Now that you're all printed up, hopefully your pages make sense when stacked in order. When I want to make sure I've done it right, I pinch it gently in the middle and thumb through it to make sure.

Gently bend the pages in half to "score" the edges-- basically you're marking where you'll put your permanent fold later on. If you want a neater line, or if you have a ton of pages, you can also do a light indent with an x-acto blade.

 Slightly scored papers gives you a good target for where to aim your staples!

Slightly scored papers gives you a good target for where to aim your staples!

You're gonna need a longarm stapler to get all the way to the center of the pages without bending them. If you don't have one, a friend (or your local library) might have one you can borrow. If you think you'll be doing a lot of these, I bought mine for $20 on Amazon (this is an affiliate link, if you buy the thing, I get a kickback. Yay!) Two staples ought to do ya!

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Now we'll make your final fold-- use a flat edge to get it nice and crisp. I'm using a paddle used in applying screen tones, (another affiliate link!) but you could also use a butter knife or ruler. I just like the beveled edges of the tone paddle, as it won't put hard marks on the paper edges.

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If you have lots of pages, you may notice that the edges of your papers begin to jut out. Not to fear though, this is fixable. You can use an X-acto to trim the extra paper off, and it'll boost the craftsmanship and quality of your book. Aren't you glad you didn't put your artwork too close to the edge, now?

Hooray, you've made your book! Now you just have to repeat the folding, stapling, and cutting about 50 more times to stock up. I recommend putting on your favorite music or podcast to help pass the time (cuz uh... this will take awhile...)

So that's that! With a bit of trial and error, soon your artist alley table will have an entire library of your comics. If you have made an ashcan, please feel free to show it to me in the comments below! I'd love to see it.

Additional Resources

More in depth information on creating your own ashcan: http://www.artofdawn.com/blog/how-to-make-an-ashcan-comic/

A guide to printing comics that I can't recommend enough (not an affiliate link)! https://ironcircus.com/shop/ebooks/72-let-s-print-a-comic-pdf-ebook.html

Newsletter!

Hey guys, did you know I release a weekly newsletter? Did you also know that I offer fun and exclusive stuff to my subscribers? Today's newsletter has a link to read and download Guilty Horse, so make sure you sign up so you won't miss more fun stuff like this! I promise I won't spam you... unless you count A+ puns to be spam.

Review of Heavenly Kibble Guardian Corgi from The Grand Geek Gathering Podcast

Don't you love it-- I tell you to start watching my Instagram Stories and them promptly stop updating both them and my blog, too? Fear not, I'm not dead! I went on a scheduled vacation up in rural Oregon where I didn't have much in the way of cell service or internet. Actually, it ended up turning into a roller coaster of a work-cation, but that's a story for another day.

 I may have had to work, but at least this was my surrounding scenery!

I may have had to work, but at least this was my surrounding scenery!

But I'm back. Huzzah! Half a day was spent fighting through my extremely backed up inbox, but I'm now back at work, back at Instagram Stories, and of course, back to the blog.

 These guys are the best. Seriously, they've got a lil' something for everyone!

These guys are the best. Seriously, they've got a lil' something for everyone!

I'm really excited to share both a review and an interview about my comic series Heavenly Kibble Guardian Corgi from the one and only Grand Geek Gathering podcast!

"The Grand Geek Gathering is a multimedia network dedicated to celebrating the geeky things we love that make us who we are. Every Gatherer has different interests, passions, and traditions. We love that. As you get to know us on the Gathering podcast, we do not hesitate to share those passions and interests (or shove it down your throat)."

They also have do videos, livestreams, and a slew of other things. I was really pleased and humbled to be the subject of both episodes 66 and 67 of their show "IndiComix."

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Episode 66 features an interview I did with Tyler, where we chat about Guardian Corgi, its influences, my inspirations, and a closer look at my process behind creating my comics. He's such a blast to talk to, so there's not a boring moment! (Approx 30 min)

Interview with IndiComix about Guardian Corgi


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Episode 67 is a fantastic in-depth, round table review of all three issues of Guardian Corgi! Tyler and Jeff covered their thoughts on my writing, jokes (they lived through the puns, hah!), art style, character design, and the colors.

They had delightfully nice things to say, including that they felt the fun, bright colors, and simplicity of the series made it very accessible and a different voice in the current indie comics industry. I was extremely pleased to hear that, as I aim to make my stories a fun experience for anyone-- comics fans or not!

Roundtable Review of Heavenly Kibble Guardian Corgi

Thank you for all the kind words, GGG!

Aspen's Halloween ComicFest 2017

I am a part of Aspen's Halloween ComicFest's issue again this year!

 Aspen's HWCF 2017 Cover by  Simone Di Meo

Aspen's HWCF 2017 Cover by Simone Di Meo

"Aspen Comics' jam-packed, activity-filled, absolutely free coloring book returns... but, this time with a TWIST, and a whole gang of Aspen Animals ready to usher in a new era of fun! Readers can Choose Your Own Adventure in this time-spanning, fantasy realm-busting and speed-bursting new interactive tale! The Aspen Universe has been split into three and it's up to Aspen readers to help guide our hero creatures to safety and unite these worlds back together, all in one exciting coloring book!" - HalloweenComicFest.com

I did pencils and inks for one of the story branches in this choose your own adventure-style comic, which, I gotta say, is a pretty cool concept. I read a ton of those books as a kid, and loved them. Ah, the 90s. In addition, if you've followed my art for even five minutes you'll probably have figured out that I love drawing animals, so a title featuring just animal characters had me super jazzed.

And what is Halloween ComicFest, you may ask? Well, they made a handy video to explain it so that I don't have to!

This book will be available for FREE at your local comic book shop on October on Saturday, October 28. Make sure you get one for yourself!

Check out the full list of Halloween ComicFest titles here!

Last Minute Show: RoninCon

So a new show popped up this year down in Little Tokyo-- Ronin Expo! I hadn't heard of it before, but they had some last minute table openings for the one day show, and I jumped on it! It was my very first outdoors convention ever, so I'd never had to take wind into consideration with my display before. I didn't have too many problems, but some of my neighbors were just about blown away.

I was also positioned directly in front of the main stage, which had its pros and cons. It made it super loud so I could hardly hear customers when they spoke, but when traffic was slow, at least I had a show to watch-- and there was this really cool cosplay group called The Corps Dance Crew that performed all day! Cosplayers that dance! My college-age-cosplay self was just pleased as punch, since that's basically what I had wanted to once upon a time.

Overall it was a fun, short, and affordable show, and as an added bonus it was well-situated for lots of great food!

WonderCon 2017

WonderCon was a smashing success yet again! This is seriously my favorite show of the whole year: the fans are great, the staff is helpful, and not least at all because I don't have to travel for it!

 Testing a display option

Testing a display option

I of course had Corgi #3 available, and came very close to selling out! I'm also happy to report that I sold out of all of my copies of the MANthology. I also had a few new pins, and finally launched a few food art-related items. Wine-o-clock, naturally, sold the best.

I also finally caved and found a new way to organize my pins. This reduces the headache of digging to find whatever pin a customer is requesting off the display board!

When we first arrived, we were disappointed to discover that we were jammed directly behind a giant pillar. This made traffic around our booth extremely tight and difficult to navigate, and it impact our sales in a huge way. Luckily the WonderCon staff was helpful, and they allowed us to move to another vacant table that faced an aisle.

The fanbase that turned out to support Corgi #3 was extremely heartwarming. The amount of times I was scolded for not having the new issue last year was practically uncountable. Point taken, I will make sure Corgi #4 is on time for WonderCon next year!