CIGARETTE CITY: RUDE AWAKENINGS // short comic

CIGARETTE CITY: RUDE AWAKENINGS is an upcoming 12-page short comic written by myself and drawn by Gabriel Fobert (@crypt_crow), one of the artists on Project Gloom. Frank, a mild-mannered fax machine salesman, wakes in a taxi cab and exchanges small talk with the driver through a series of disasters. After each event, FRANK reawakens as if from a dream, until the next disaster hits.

CIGARETTE CITY began as a feature film concept I brainstormed with writer Scot Langland, essentially putting our own spin on the gritty tone that Frank Miller popularized in his works like DARK KNIGHT RETURNS and SIN CITY, as well as a few nods to Alan Moore’s WATCHMEN. This dark noir world of crime and mystery became like something from a 1980s dystopian city where every potential nook and cranny might reveal some insight into humanity’s inner conflict of good versus evil.

I began to explore the far corners of CIGARETTE CITY by writing various short stories set in this universe. RUDE AWAKENINGS was a rewrite of a short story I wrote while studying at UNC Asheville’s Creative Writing program. There was originally another artist onboard this comic, and we developed the idea for a few months, but he dropped out to pursue other opportunities.  I generated the following panel layout scheme to assist in the comic’s construction as the story heavily involves a series of repeating panels to illustrate the character’s looping events.

 Image by Ted Kendrick

CIGARETTE CITY: RUDE AWAKENINGS will be self-published in a limited run and available for purchase later this year. Should it be well received, there is plenty of potential for more stories set in the CIGARETTE CITY universe.

LEGACIES OF THE DCAU // webcomic

A few years ago, artist and filmmaker James Strecker of JTS Entertainment was deliberating on the relaunch of the WATCHTOWER DATABASE, his fan-made tribute to everything regarding the DC Animated Universe (DCAU), a series of interlocking cartoons which began with the Emmy award-winning BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, and continued into SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, BATMAN BEYOND, STATIC SHOCK, and JUSTICE LEAGUE to name a few.

After seeing James’ designs for how characters may have appeared during the time period between JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED and BATMAN BEYOND, I proposed an ongoing webcomic on the lost years of the DCAU. This concept grew into the LEGACIES OF THE DC ANIMATED UNIVERSE webcomic, written by myself, illustrated by James Strecker, and hosted by the WATCHTOWER DATABASE.

Though the tribute website is still in development, the WATCHTOWER DATABASE has since become a hub for all fans of the DC Animated Universe on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. We’ve grown in notoriety from our recent interviews with industry professionals like Matthew Manning and Alan Burnett.

As long as our followers enjoy reminiscing about the DCAU as much as we do, I’m sure the content will keep on flowing. Over the last year, we have released three installments of LEGACIES with more to come. Find the issues linked below:

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ESCAPIST comics by J. Rutland

Over the last few months, I’ve worked with Asheville based artist Jarrett Rutland in the development of his comics brand ESCAPIST, named for the art of escaping into your imagination in order to enrich your perspective on the world. Jarrett is known for his work in kids’ lit and ongoing series ROBOT SAMURAI PENGUINS as well as the upcoming LITTLE PREACHER, seen below with the ESCAPIST logo.

little-preacher-cov-w-escapist-logoImage by @jrutlandart

I assisted in the design of the ESCAPIST name and logo, seen below in a larger format in the shape of a skeleton key, as if to unlock the potential of the mind. The four basic colors on the end of the key represent pure creativity, and the levers on the bottom create the letter ‘E’, occasionally spelled out in full as ESCAPIST.

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Be sure to like ESCAPIST on Facebook to watch the brand continue to grow and evolve, follow Jarrett Rutland on Instagram at @jrutlandart, or visit his website.

S.T.A.R. Labs Confidential

When The CW launched the new seasons of their superhero shows last fall, YouTube channel host Zizzoro aka Brian Day and I reviewed each premiere. First we talked about THE FLASH, which was fun because the first episode was adapted from a familiar comic book storyline called FLASHPOINT, written by one of my favorite writers Geoff Johns. Zizzoro and I dive into the similarities between the episode and its source material and speculate on the future of the current season.

Next we talked about the season 5 premiere of ARROW where we discussed the new villain Prometheus (one of my favorite comic book villains, an Anti-Batman), last season’s death of the Black Canary and her potential return, and whether the temporal tampering of the aforementioned “Flashpoint” will also affect ARROW which we’ve already seen some evidence in regards to John Diggle’s child.

Although I haven’t followed the show in full, in the review on SUPERGIRL’s season 2 premiere, Zizzoro and I discussed the presence of Martian Manhunter and a new Superman, the change in networks from CBS to The CW, Supergirl’s love life in the comics, how her relationship with Jimmy Olsen might evolve, the virtues of Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant, and the possibility of more crossover episodes.

To round out the discussion, Zizzoro and I discussed the season 2 premiere of LEGENDS OF TOMORROW. This show has always had the most potential to explore the vast corners of the DC Universe, and with somewhat obscure characters like Firestorm and Vixen on their team roster, there’s no arguing that they do. This season saw the introduction of the Justice Society, one of my favorite superhero teams from the WWII era, as well as a new incarnation of the Legion of Doom.

I had a great time geeking out about DC TV on S.T.A.R. Labs Confidential and welcome the opportunity to do so again with Zizzoro or another host.  I’ve also been known to conduct interviews, so I’m sure there will be many more to come.

PROJECT GLOOM // concept art update

Project Gloom is the codename to my upcoming horror comic series that has been gestating in my head for a few years, but only in development since August 2016. I’m excited to have an outlet that will allow me to experiment with the boundaries of comics in thirteen separate chapters with almost as many artists.

My team has shifted somewhat recently, first and foremost with the addition of Rome Widenhouse as Editor. He’s already been active in the refinement of the series ending, so I’m happy to have him onboard for the initial issues. Secondly, artist Gabriel Fobert is taking on a more extensive role in the series. Find concept art by Fobert (@crypt_crow) on the Hatman phenomenon below.

#ink #sketch #art #trenchcoat #hatman The hat man cometh! ?

A photo posted by Gabriel Fobert (@crypt_crow) on

My collaborators and I had a production meeting over drinks at Burial Beer Co. just shortly before Halloween, which was both inspirational and rejuvenating. I am currently juggling two scripts on Project Gloom simultaneously, both the first and third issues, with drafts expected for completion within the month.

PROJECT MINUTE PIGEON // intro

Since last April, I’ve been working as an Editor on an independent comic series I’ll call Project Minute Pigeon for now. Minute Pigeon is a high concept, space spaghetti western epic written by Adam Mullen and illustrated by Mike Lombardo.

What is a space spaghetti western epic, you may ask? Just accept such a dusty, noodly description for what it is and let it whet your appetite and expectations. Providing everything goes according to plan, you’ll be able to read issue #1 in print or digital means within a year or so.

Check out concept art below displaying a prominent element of the series.

banner_wmImage by Mike Lombardo

WDb // COMIC RELIEF

Over the last few months, on every Wednesday afternoon, I’ve maintained a column called COMIC RELIEF where I recommend comics and graphic novels I’ve enjoyed over the years. The segment was originally posted to the LEGACIES OF THE DCAU Facebook page of which I was a curator, though the page has now been taken offline due to low traffic.

COMIC RELIEF will instead accompany the WATCHTOWER DATABASE social media outlets starting at the end of November and will post every Wednesday, the same day new comics arrive at local stores. I intend to mix old reviews with the new, sharing all in a more visual aesthetic rather than the plain text I used before.

I’m excited for a continuing platform to share some of my favorite books from an ever expanding medium. Be sure to hit ‘like’ on the WATCHTOWER DATABASE Facebook page so you don’t miss each weekly update of COMIC RELIEF!

TRUMP comic by J. Rutland

In August, I struck a deal with J. Rutland to assist in the promotion and distribution of his one-shot comic book TRUMP: THE ART OF MISDIRECTION AND CAPITALISM’S AMAZIN’ CHAMPYUN. The book has 24 pages, all written and hand water-colored by the artist, on sale for $5.

TRUMP can be found in various comic shops around the Asheville area, including Comic Envy, Haywood Comics, and three shops I landed through my own persistence: Orbit, Hero Hunter, and Downtown Books & News. I expect J. Rutland may upload the PDF to his personal website in the near future for online viewing once the prints have run their course.

The timing couldn’t have been better because Donald J. Trump himself came through Asheville on Monday 9/12 and spoke at the Civic Center. I would have seized the opportunity to distribute additional copies to unsuspecting Trump supporters if I hadn’t been working, though that was probably for the best. No doubt it was a lion’s den.

I agree with documentary director Michael Moore’s statement earlier this summer, “Satire is what will bring Donald Trump down.” I saw it on full display when naked Trump statues appeared in city centers across the country and when John Oliver’s “Donald Drumpf” episode broke HBO viewing records. Proud to support the cause.