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The Comics Experience Blog

Here you will find all the latest Comics Experience news and events! Check back often, or subscribe via RSS for updates!

Milton Lawson’s “Roger Ebert and Me” at Ghost City Comics

Milton Lawson is one of the Comics Experience alumni and Creators Workshop members earning accolades in the Ghost City Comics Competition. His autobiographical short with artist Rem Broo, “Roger Ebert and Me,” examines the deep relationship between grief and joy. Milton finds himself unable to indulge his cinephilia following a run of bad luck. The spirit of the legendary film critic seeks to guide him back to the love and enthusiasm he once held for movies.

“This story is about processing losses. The narrative was shaped by contrasting a number of those experiences. Juxtaposing losses that seem like your whole world the day it happens but then a year later doesn’t seem so important can be revealing,” says Milton.

“Also, the narrative called for a restoration – much like the motivation behind nostalgia, to bring something back. We managed to tell a story about something that might not be able to be restored per se, but transformed and still with you in some way.”

His training with Comics Experience and the Creators Workshop community allowed him to shape the 10-page narrative into an award winner.

Milton says, “There were layers of discovery in the evolution of this project. The first draft of the story wasn’t as focused on the heavier subjects and the grief. It’s what I was feeling, but it wasn’t coming through in the initial writing. Workshopping the script challenged me to go deeper and confront the story I really wanted to tell.”

Comics provided Milton with a perfect medium to weave his story, given its close relationship to film.

“Like many comic writers who also love film, I’m a big fan of Robert McKee’s book on screenwriting, Story, and somewhere in that book there’s an elegant passage about the intensity of emotion that cinema can ignite in the audience,” he says.

“I’m probably butchering the idea, but his argument goes something like this – when we experience intense moments in real life, we are unable to process them in realtime. But later, upon reflection, when re-experienced through a moviemaker’s rendering on a big screen, those feelings can find a fuller expression.”

And Rem Broo was just the artist to breathe life into Milton’s vivid, emotional script.

He says, “Perhaps my favorite thing about working with Rem is the confidence that I can stretch my imagination as far as it can go – and Rem will not only be able to render that idea, but make it better.”

He mentions that the famous movie cars included in the script started off as captions. It was Rem’s idea to actually show them.

“when Rem sent me the first thumbnails – I was blown away with his approach. There weren’t any notes, any revisions, it just grew organically into existence via his magic.”

You can read the acclaimed “Roger Ebert and Me” here.

Shortly after achieving finalist honors, Milton and his brother were displaced from their home in Houston during Hurricane Harvey. We ask that, if you are able, you please contribute to the GoFundMe helping them rebuild.

Ghost City Finalists Include Multiple CE Community Members!

Finalists in the Ghost City Comics Competition have been announced, and the list includes nine members of the Comics Experience community!

The competition is in its first year, designed to foster opportunities for independent comic creators. Finalists were announced on September 1, 2017, with the winners due for announcement on September 15. Categories include one-page, short, and single-issue comics. (For a full list of finalists, judges, and competition details, visit the Ghost City Comics site.)

We’re proud to see so many of our course alums and Creators Workshop members, past and present, on the finalists list. One is Milton Lawson, whose piece Roger Ebert and Me with artist Rem Broo was originally written as part of a Creators Workshop writing challenge. Stay tuned for an upcoming discussion with Milton here on the blog.

Also among the finalists is Paul Allor, whose Past the Last Mountain — created with Louie Joyce and former staffer Gannon Beck — has also been recognized with a Silver Ledger award and profiled on our blog.

Other finalists from the Comics Experience community include:

Deniz Camp (former Creators Workshop member), Romain Brun, Julien Brun

Rick Quinn (former Creators Workshop member), Dana Obera

Glenn Møane (Creators Workshop member), Tirso Llaneta, Monte Thompson, Sean Rinehart (Creators Workshop member)

Greig Cameron, John Amos, Ryan Otto (alum)

Scott Schmidt, Slobodan Jovanovic, K Michael Russell (alum), HdE

Congratulations to all the competition finalists, and a special shout-out to our community members who made the list!

If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!

Posted by Nicole Boose

Comic Book Law for Creators Open for Enrollment! Class starts October 2, 2017!

Our Comic Book Law for Creators course is back! Taught by attorney and comic creator Joe Sergi, this course offers valuable instruction on a crucial – and crucially overlooked – aspect of the comics industry, and you won’t find it anywhere else.

The Comic Book Law course has been highly praised by alums for its clear-eyed approach to understanding contracts, rights issues, free speech considerations, and more. We make this course available on a very limited basis – we’ve offered it only twice since 2014 – but we’ve partnered with Joe to bring it to you again this year. Sign up now, before the course launches on October 2, 2017!

Class meets for four weekly sessions that take place live online. Registered students will also receive access to recordings of each live course session, as well as a private online course discussion forum.

Joe’s extensive experience in both the comics and legal communities ensure that the content is accessible, valuable, and – yes – even fun! Learn more at the links below, and stay tuned for more coverage on this course as the start date approaches.

To register for Comic Book Law for Creators now, visit our course page here! Class begins on Monday, October 2, 2017.

If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!

Posted by Nicole Boose

CE Staffer Molly Lazer’s First Novel OWL EYES Out Spring 2018!

Molly Lazer bio image

Molly Lazer, a former assistant and associate editor at Marvel who provides professional critiques in the Creators Workshop, will be releasing her debut novel in the spring of 2018! Owl Eyes, from Fire & Ice YA, twists and toys with the standard Cinderella story, asking questions about the role of “goodness,” Cinderella’s father, why she wasn’t recognized at the ball, and other lingering issues. She’s been developing her intriguing new fantasy world for over fourteen years!

“It morphed from a story that mostly just tried to answer these questions into a story that is more about identity, finding your family, and figuring out your place in the world and how to be the person you are separate from where you come from. And magic, of course,” Molly says.

While working for Marvel, Molly worked on editing titles like Spider-Girl, New Avengers, Captain America, Fantastic Four, and Thunderbolts. With Owl Eyes, she returns to her creative prose roots. She recounts some advice given to her by Marvel editor Tom Brevoort regarding the initial adjustment to comics.

“In prose, text is text. But in comics writing, text, specifically dialogue, equals space. Too much dialogue and no one will be able to see the artwork,” she says.

“I think that comics writing is most similar to flash fiction (fiction of 1000 words or fewer) in that you really have to think about pacing and economy of language. In comics, you also have to think about visual storytelling, which I guess was the biggest adjustment for me coming in as a prose writer.”

Spending so much time absorbed in the comics world helped enhance Molly’s approach to prose. As “a fan of compressed stories,” she believes pacing is one of the most significant lessons aspirant novelists can learn from comics.

“I’ve found that thinking of storytelling in terms of arcs or episodes that contribute to a larger whole can be helpful when doing my planning.”

She also touts the virtues of economic storytelling, and believes the strategies used while writing comics translate well to prose.

“In comics, you have only 22 pages in an issue, so determining what information your reader needs in order to understand the characters and the world of the story is essential, especially since you want to do it without it sounding like your characters are obviously spouting exposition,” Molly says.

“In prose writing, you have a bit more leeway, since you can have blocks of descriptive text. Even so, prose writing can easily get bogged down in description. Keeping the reader engaged and keeping the story moving while still providing the reader with the essential information is an important part of prose writing, too.”

Another crucial skill writers need? Listening. Molly attributes self-edits and a strong mentor as major figures in bringing Owl Eyes to readers.

She says, “It’s been a long, long road to both getting a final version that I feel is ready to put out there and to actually finding someone who wanted to publish it. I’ve written so many drafts that I can’t even count them, many of them wholesale rewrites, because I never felt like the book was truly finished.”

“I ‘finished’ it before I submitted it to my advisor at the beginning of the process for my MFA thesis, and she read it, turned around, and told me to write the whole thing again. I was really unhappy at first, but it turns out she was right, because the final rewrite was the best and truest version of the story.”

We’re looking forward to checking out Owl Eyes upon its publication!

Live Workshop Tuesday, September 12: Writing for a Particular Artist!

Our next Live Workshop session is coming soon!

Live Workshops are online, monthly events, and they’re available exclusively to Creators Workshop members.

Each Live Workshop discussion focuses on a unique topic geared toward helping comic creators achieve their personal best. Past sessions have covered subjects like maximizing income, reinventing characters, negotiating collaboration agreements, and many more!

Current Workshop members can find details by logging in here.

For more benefits of Creators Workshop membership, head over to our Top Ten Reasons Why the Creators Workshop Is Awesome post! For additional details or to join, please visit our Creators Workshop page here.

Details about our next Live Workshop session is below. We hope you’ll join us!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at 9:00 pm ET

Writing for a Particular Artist: Identifying and using an artist’s strengths
ANDY SCHMIDT: We’ve seen in interviews when a writer says s/he writers to an artist’s strengths. I’m not sure how true that always is, but it’s a useful skill and one that artists do tend to like. In this live workshop, Andy breaks down how to first identify an artist’s illustrative strengths and weaknesses artistically, and then how to craft a story to highlight the artist’s strengths and minimize the artist’s weaknesses. The result is a project that looks great and serves as an excellent portfolio piece for the artist.

If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!

Posted by Nicole Boose

Advanced Art: Live Studio Experience Now Open for Enrollment!

Our Advanced Art: Live Studio Experience course with artist-instructor Robert Atkins blends the accessibility and flexibility of an online course with the personalized instruction of working directly with a mentor!

Beginning Wednesday, October 25, 2017, Robert will lead a new session of the course. This intensive, eight-week class runs student through a rigorous and lively process of addressing individual needs, practicing new techniques, and nurturing personal artistic strengths.

This course is open to everyone who has completed our prerequisite Introduction to Comic Book Art course. Seats are limited in order to provide more focused assessment and instruction, so we encourage you to sign up early! Registration is available on our course page.

Robert’s credits include extensive work in comics, video games, and toy packaging design. A graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design’s M.F.A. program, Robert was also instrumental in developing the school’s mentorship program. His art courses are a long-standing staple of the Comics Experience curriculum.

To learn more and register, visit the Advanced Art: Live Studio Experience course page here.

If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses.

Posted by Meredith Nudo.