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Forrest Helvie’s “Black Friday” in This Nightmare Kills Fascists!

Creators Workshop member Forrest Helvie is contributing a story to the Kickstarter anthology This Nightmare Kills Fascists! Editors Matt Miner and Eric Palicki have assembled a team of amazing talent, including Vita Ayala, Claire Connelly, Justin Jordan, Tini Howard, Jamel Jones, Katy Rex, Ryan Ferrier, Christopher Sebela, and many more, to blend horror and suspense with strong sociopolitical commentary. The project came together over a discussion on Twitter.

“Given the present climate, people are really looking for ways to express their concern, their frustrations, and anger; This Nightmare Kills Fascists provides one such outlet – not just for the creators involved, but also the readers,” says Forrest.

“There can be a catharsis that comes with encountering art that visualizes the feelings of the audience that they might not have otherwise been able to articulate themselves… We’re certainly looking to get people talking about a host of themes here.

He points out that the book wasn’t initially conceived as an anti-Trumpism manifesto, and continues, “The idea, as I understand it, is for each creative team to craft a story that not only engages the reader through the excitement of horror, but also one that confronts them with some socio-political reality that contains some element of true horror.” Some entries, however, will directly respond to the actions of the current administration.

Forrest’s entry, “Black Friday,” was originally written in 2015, and looks at the consequences faced by a father who does anything he can to ensure his son receives the hottest new holiday toy. With art by Joseba Morales, the story “naturally finds itself removed from the current political drama we’re living in today. Instead, my story looks at an instance of capitalism gone wrong in the form of the ‘Black Friday’ phenomenon — something people seem to be recognizing as they push back against it amidst the ever-growing promotions impinging upon our Thanksgiving Day holiday.”

“[We] completed ‘Black Friday’ … when we began working on a series of short stories of which this was going to be a part. We met on a website called, which is a forum where creators can get together to work on projects. He showed me some samples, and I really liked his portfolio,” he says of their initial meeting.

“He’s also a super guy to work with, as there are plenty of times when he’ll tweak something to really get the story to shine.”

Three of the short stories for the original anthology were completed, but when one spun off into its own series, the other were left without an outlet. “Black Friday” ended up in This Nightmare Kills Fascists. The second will be published later this year in IF Crime Anthology by Alterna Comics.

Regarding the development of the story, Forrest says, “I remember interviewing a popular comic book writer a few years ago, one known for infusing horror in his superhero stories, and asking him how he touched that particular nerve with his readers. He responded by saying that he looked for what he loved most, exposed that person or thing to something terrible, and fleshed that out into the story.”

He concludes, “All I will say is that for someone who typically writes children’s stories with stuffed animals, ‘Black Friday’ takes a dark and twisted turn away from that genre! If you liked Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, I think you’ll like the story Joseba and I put together.”

You can back the This Nightmare Kills Fascists Kickstarter here.

Gutter Magic: Tales from the Gutter Now on Kickstarter!

If you enjoyed Rich Douek, Brett Barkley, Jules Rivera, and Nic Shaw’s original Gutter Magic miniseries, you’ve got another chance to explore the alternate New York City they lushly brought to life! Gutter Magic: Tales from the Gutter recently launched on Kickstarter, with a talented team of new storytellers to expand the world.

Renae De Liz, Ray Dillon, Eryk Donovan, Erica Rose Levine, and Brett Barkley will be contributing tales building on the creators’ foundation, while Doug Hills, Bree Jordan, Stan Chou, and Kelly Williams will have their art featured as pinups.

“When I was creating Gutter Magic, I realized I was creating a world that had a lot more to it than just Cinder’s story,” says Rich.

“In fact, one of the things Brett and I talked about was depicting the city as a place full of interesting characters and stories – we wanted readers to feel like there were a ton of cool things going on in the background, and with this anthology I’m really excited to explore some of that.”

With so many “new factions, new characters, and [the] discover[y of] new things about how the world works,” Rich is excited to showcase the exciting directions Gutter Magic can go while still remaining true to his original vision.

He says, “Consistency is the most important thing to me, because it’s what ensures that the world will feel real and not arbitrary. Things can get as crazy or far-fetched as you like, but there has to be an internal logic guiding it all, or things are going to ring false.”

“As in most things, good communication and a willingness to put aside your ego and do whatever will make the book or story better,” Rich continues. “It’s not so much a case of working around anyone, it’s more like keeping everyone on the same page so that we’re all working together.”

The Comics Experience community stepped up in a big way to make sure Rich’s first Kickstarter campaign proved a success.

“I did do a lot of research and tried to learn as much as I could from the experiences of friends, like CE’s own Joey Groah and Paul Allor, as well as Tyler James, who, between his ComixTribe Kickstarter sand ComixLaunch program with Jeremy Melloul, has his Kickstarter game down,” he says.

But Comics Experience is involved past the point of helping Rich along. We’ve partnered with this campaign to bring different rewards at different tier levels, including Creators Workshop memberships, previous publications from our partnership with IDW, and even script edits from Mark Sumerak and Molly Lazer and a 1-hour mentorship with Comics Experience founder Andy Schmidt!

You can contribute to the campaign here.

Meet a Creator: Kenny Porter

The Comics Experience Creators Workshop is a community of aspiring and professional comic book creators. The Creators Workshop boards are full of discussion about craft and the industry. In addition, there is a lively workshop, where members post scripts and art for critique. If you want to join the conversations, meet new people, and improve your skills, check out details and membership information.

In this new feature on our blog, we’re getting to know some longtime members of the Creators Workshop. First up:

Kenny Porter

Tell us a bit about yourself. What do you do in your day job?

My name’s Kenny Porter and I’m a professional writer living in West Michigan. I work as a Marketing Coordinator and Digital Content Developer while also writing comics.

How did you discover that you want to be involved in creating comics?

I’ve always loved comics, but when I read Natsume Ono’s not simple I realized that I wanted to try and tell stories that moved people with panels and pages the way she does.

What is your area of interest in comics? (Do you write/draw/color, etc.?)

I’m a writer, although I’m always trying to learn every aspect of the process. I’ve taken classes on lettering and editing, and I’m learning more about color and book production.

What do you most enjoy about the Creators Workshop?

It’s a great way for new writers, artists, letterers, and aspiring editors to share their work and grow as creators.

What projects are you working on now?

I just finished a successful Kickstarter for my creator-owned comic Barnstormers!, and now I’m writing a comic adaptation of Yakuza for SEGA.

Art from Barnstormers!

What’s an example of help with your comics creation that you’ve gotten in the Creators Workshop?

One of the best points that were hammered into my skull was how to pace an issue and how to effectively use panels. There are a lot of rookie mistakes that I see even to this day in professional work, but analyzing pages with peers helped me learn how to properly pace out a story.

Who are some of your creative role models? What do you learn from their work?

Some of my creative role models are Darwyn Cooke, Jason Aaron, Alex Toth, and Jeff Lemire. When it comes to Cooke and Toth, no one was better at pacing a story or conveying so much with fewer lines and dynamite cartooning. Aaron and Lemire are two of my favorite writers because they can jump into any genre and bring out true and interesting characters. I use all of their work as inspiration and try to learn how to better tell stories and flesh out characters in my own narratives.

What comics are you enjoying right now?

Right now, I’m reading Southern Bastards, Invincible, Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, Batman/The Shadow, and Extremity.

Do you have a website or any other project you want to tell us about?

My website is and you can find me on Twitter and Instagram under the username @KenBlakePorter.

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 Jennifer de Guzman

Live Workshop Topics Announced for July through September 2017!

ComicsExperience_logoComics Experience founder Andy Schmidt has announced the next topics for upcoming Live Workshop sessions!

Our Live Workshop sessions 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 three Live Workshop sessions are below. We hope you’ll join us!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 at 9:00 pm ET
5 Key Storytelling Mistakes to Look for in Layouts
ANDY SCHMIDT: Comics is all about the story–writers and artists both bringing storytelling skills to the page. That’s why we want COMICS writers and COMICS artists instead of playwrights and illustrators. When we work on projects without an editor, it’s often one person or two people really working closely together. In these scenarios, we often review layouts or thumbnails of a page before the artist goes to full pencils and inks. We do this to look for potential storytelling issues. In this Live Workshop, Andy will go over the top 5 mistakes he sees in layouts and what to do about them to make the story shine on the final page.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017 at 9:00 pm ET
Breaking the Grid: Comic Page Design that breaks out of the traditional grid-like pattern
ANDY SCHMIDT: The grid and the three-tier system are the backbone of clear visual storytelling in comics. But there are underlying rules to them–rules that almost automatically snap into place when a grid is used in the layouts. In this session, Andy analyzes some of those underlying principles to show how to apply them to art that breaks the grid system or pops out of panels. If the principles are applied properly, pages without panel borders can still flow naturally and intuitively for any reader.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017
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 writes 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

Episode #135 of the Comics Experience “Make Comics” Podcast Posted!

CE_podcast_logoA new episode of the Comics Experience Make Comics podcast has been posted! Each episode provides ~15 minutes of advice on all aspects of creating comics and breaking in to the industry.

Join Comics Experience founder and former Marvel and IDW Editor Andy Schmidt and his co-host Joey Groah as they discuss making comics!

Subscribe to our podcast via iTunes! Or check out the latest episode below or on our Podcast page!

Episode #135 – Budgeting: Setting a Personal Project Budget
In the first of three budgeting episodes, Andy and Joey talk setting a personal budget for a creator-owned project.

List of All Episodes

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

Past the Last Mountain Takes Silver!

The Silver Ledger Award held in a handEveryone at Comics Experience congratulates our own Paul Allor, Louie Joyce, and Gannon Beck! The creative team received the Silver Ledger Award for their comic Past the Last Mountain. The awards honor “excellence in Australian comics and publishing.” Artist Louie Joyce accepted the award for Past the Last Mountain‘s creative team at a ceremony in Sydney, Australia on Friday, June 16.

Past the Last Mountain is a tale about a faun, a young troll, and a dragon on the run from the government. The trio learn about themselves and each other as they search for a place to live in peace.

Louie Joyce accepting the Silver Ledger Award

Louie Joyce accepts the Silver Ledger Award

Paul and Louie responded to receiving the award:

This is an incredible honor, and one that would not have been possible without the steadfast support of Comics Experience. We’re also so thankful to layout artist Gannon Beck, to all the amazing artists and colorists we worked with on this project, and of course to the judges of the Ledger Awards. Past the Last Mountain was a project years in the making, and it means so much to us to see it recognized by our peers and the Australian comics community.

Comics Experience brought Past the Last Mountain to readers as part of our publishing program. The published titles represent the best work of some of our workshop members and students . Paul Allor, who began as a workshop member, is now also Content and Operations manager at Comics Experience.

The Ledger Award

The Ledger Award

Founder Andy Schmidt congratulated the team on their win. “We have high expectations for every project we publish. We’ve been fortunate that projects like Past the Last Mountain continue to exceed those expectations and get recognized by outside groups,” he said. “Comics Experience congratulates Paul, Louie, and Gannon on this award and hopes for continued success for them.”Cover of Past the Last Mountain #1

All four issues of Past the Last Mountain are available at comiXology. You can also read an interview with Paul Allor about the series here.

If you want to make comics or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded people in our online workshop and courses. We hope to see you there!

Posted by Jennifer de Guzman