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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!


LAST CALL on Two Intro Courses!

It’s your last chance to sign up for two of our introductory courses beginning next week. You definitely don’t want to miss your opportunity to work with established industry professionals who want to help you transition your ideas from your brain to your page. Sign up ASAP to make sure you secure your spot; we can’t guarantee one will be available when you go to register!

Introduction to Comic Book Coloring – Starts February 4
Instructor Chris Sotomayor bio

Introduction to Comic Book Writing – Starts February 6
Instructor Andy Schmidt bio and Instructor Paul Allor bio

Check out our full list of course offerings here!

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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!


Rich Douek on Wailing Blade’s Kickstarter Success!

Rich Douek‘s Wailing Blade debuted last October at New York Comic-Con, igniting excitement for its merging of science fiction and fantasy into one bombastic, bloody adventure. And with creative partners like Joe Mulvey on art, Chris Sotomayor on coloring, and Taylor Esposito on letters, fans certainly had plenty to celebrate when issue 1 dropped.

That enthusiasm continued to burn after the launch of the recent Kickstarter campaign. They not only met their initial goal of $5,000 on the day of release, they exceeded it… and now with only a few days left, they’ve more than doubled their original ask.

So yeah. We definitely needed to talk to Rich about his success!

Comics Experience: Your Kickstarter surpassed its goal by over $6,000 in its first day! What strategies did you use to bring in the necessary number of contributors?

Rich Douek: We started with a pretty solid core of people – ones who backed the Gutter Magic Kickstarter I did last year, and those who have backed previous projects from Comixtribe, our publisher. Those were the initial people we reached out to via email before the campaign started, to let them know what was coming, and get them excited to pledge early. We also made sure to spread the word as much as possible on social media, and in our own circle of friends, to get as many people talking about it as we could.

CE: What have you learned from such unprecedented – but clearly earned – success in your campaign? What advice would you pass on to other creators who want to fund their projects via Kickstarter?

RD: I learned that preparation makes a huge, huge difference when it comes to a successful campaign. We did a lot of prep work on this, much more than I did on Gutter Magic, which was my first Kickstarter project, and I really saw a difference. I think my advice would be to learn everything you can as far as preparing for your launch goes – what you need ready, how to prime your audience, things like that. I know that CE is planning a Kickstarter course soon with Heather Antos, and I think that’s a great opportunity to get a lot of that information in one place. I know I spent a lot of time reading, listening to podcasts, etc., which was really informative, but it would have been nice to get a lot of that information in a more digestible format.

CE: Wailing Blade has been praised for its strong worldbuilding. What lessons did you learn from Gutter Magic in how to create a compelling and lived-in world?

RD: A lot of what I talk about when I give worldbuilding advice, is to do everything you can to make it feel like a living place, that exists independently of the story. One big piece of that is taking some time to think about things that don’t revolve around your characters, or only touch them tangentially. You don’t need to explain every last detail in the story, but having a wealth of information you can reference in the text is invaluable. A great example is the famous “Kessel Run” from Star Wars – it was a throwaway line from Han Solo in the first movie, yet the question of what exactly he was talking about led to a whole bunch of information in the expanded universe stories, and then, 41 years later, seeing the actual story on film in the Solo movie. It’s little bits like that, that intrigue people, and can be explored later if need be, that make the place you’re creating feel alive.

CE: What are some of the challenges (and rewards) when building multi-genre worlds such as the one in Wailing Blade?

RD: A big challenge is finding the balance between creating a huge, complex and expansive world, and telling a compact, understandable story. For example, with Wailing Blade, I’ve created an entire empire, where not just one, but seven weapons like the Wailing Blade exist, each with their own wielder. Add to that all the cities, geographic locations, and peripheral characters, and there’s enough there to explore for years – which I definitely want to do! But for this specific part of it, I had to keep it to a cohesive, tight, 4-issue story. And that means a lot of the stuff I wrote in preparation won’t see the light of day here – and depending on the overall success going forward, might never come out. But I don’t see it as wasted work, because it helps create that sense of place that allows me to write in that world so fluidly – and it gives me a map of where I want to take things if we are lucky enough to have the support we need to create future stories in this world.

You can support the Wailing Blade Kickstarter and receive the campaign exclusives! Click here.


Claude Policart’s Amplexus Now on comiXology!

Claude Policart threw himself enthusiastically into Comics Experience courses. With Intro to Comic Book Writing with Andy Schmidt, Intro to Comic Book Coloring with Chris Sotomayor, and Intro to Comic Book Art with Robert Atkins and Phil Sevy all under his belt, he’s ready to share his one-man read Amplexus with readers around the world.

Available now on comiXology, Amplexus blends science fiction and horror in a post-apocalyptic tale of betrayal and biological weaponry.

We spoke with Claude about how Comics Experience courses helped shape his new book, as well as his inspirations.

Comics Experience: You’ve been busy taking so many Comics Experience courses! How have they shaped your approach to comics, and how do they intertwine and interact with one another?

Claude Policart: I don’t think people understand how much work it is to complete a comic. The Comics Experience gave me a realistic overview of how to approach creating a completed book. I had so many set backs, because I didn’t understand how complex each step of the comic making process was. The Comics Experiences courses helped me to refine my vision. Because of the Comics Experience my work left the drawing table and became a sellable commodity. It was worth every penny.

CE: With Amplexus, you take on every duty in the comic’s creation process, from writing to drawing to inking to lettering and every other step. What is your process like?

CP: The first step is the writing. I create the script. Instead of writing a one shot, I created a spinoff for a horror/science fiction novel that I created. The name of the novel is Brigade: The Tears of a Monster. The main character from Amplexus is also the main character from Brigade: The Tears of a Monster.

The next challenging step was penciling the comic. The Art Studio with Rob Atkins and Phillip Sevy helped me a lot. Phillip helped me to think about each panel as something that moves the story. They also showed me how to use perspective and anatomy to make the penciling in each panel more dramatic. Every artist needs direction. Rob and Phil gave me the direction I needed. I learned how to use reference as simply that — a reference. Sketches are always key before the final pencils.

When the pencils are done, I scan them in with my large scale Epson scanner. After the scanning I save them as high res tiffs in Photoshop. I import them into Illustrator for the inks. Illustrator creates nice crisp lines. After I ink the pages, I reimport the panels into Photoshop and I create the flats.

The last step is the coloring. Coloring I learned from Chris Soto. Coloring takes time to wrap your head around. The colors have to remain consistent from page to page. The colors have to help tell the story. Those are the important teachings that I took away from Chris. Then I color the pages, and fix a few of the inks with Photoshop during the process. I look at my coloring now compared to the coloring I did 4 years ago. It is like night and day. I am so much better because I understand how each step works together. If a person wants to learn how to color they must take Chris Soto’s class.

Finally, I’d like to add that the lettering I learned in Pratt during my undergrad. Getting approved by Comixology is very hard, especially when you have to wear all of the hats. It was the Comics Experience that prepared me for success.

CE: Where did you cook up the concept for Amplexus? What other creators – not just in comics – inspire you?

CP: Reptiles. The blue female antagonist in Amplexus was based on the Poison Dart Frog from South America. I used the frog flicking its tongue as a defense strategy (super power) for one of the characters. Tegus also influenced me, as I love lizards. Deep-water sea life like Jelly-fish helped me create the design of the soldiers in Amplexus.

“Amplexus” is the scientific term for the mating position of frogs and toads; the male clasps the female about the back. I like monsters, that is why my comic book inspiration comes from books like Dracula with Gene Colan and writer Roger Stern; The Teen Titans with George Perez and Roger Stern. Doctor Strange with Gene Colan. I loved Jack Kirby’s work with the Fantastic Four; and, John Byrne’s work with the Fantastic Four and Alpha Flight. These stories are really heavy science fiction and they do have monsters in them. Last but not least, Neil Adams for creating the paranormal Deadman. I met Neil Adams at a comic conventions years ago. He liked my work, and he is the one who suggested I become part of the Comics Experience.

You can download Claude’s Amplexus on comiXology here!


Episode #168 of the 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 Joey Groah, Nicole Boose, Heather Antos, and Jim Gibbons as they discuss making comics!

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

Episode #168 – Reilly Brown on Digital Comics and Vertical Scrolling
Reilly Brown (Deadpool, Spider-Man, Lobo) talks about his process and approach on Outrage, his Webtoons webcomic that scrolls vertically, digital comics, print comics, and the business of making comics.

List of All Episodes

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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!


Meet Paul!

Comics Experience faculty member Paul Allor has enjoyed an exciting career in comics so far, with credits including household names like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joe, and Clue and independent titles like Tet, Past the Last Mountain, and Monstro Mechanica. And more, of course! His is a thoughtful and experienced voice in the Workshop and in classes alike; see for yourself in Paul’s next Introduction to Comics course with Andy Schmidt starts up on February 6.

But Paul’s life isn’t wall-to-wall comics, however much fun that may be! We asked him a few questions about his life and times outside the printed page.

Comics Experience: What movies/books (including comics)/music inspire you to create? What media would you say has the biggest impact on your life, and not just regarding comics?

Paul Allor: Oh, gosh, that’s such a big question. I feel like you have to constantly feed the beast, inspiration-wise.

The poetry of C.K. Williams is a huge one. I love the way he makes anger feel gorgeous and righteous, and I think his voice has had a clear impact on my writing. Staying in poetry, Jennifer Michael Hecht’s collection Funny was a watershed book for me. It’s a poetry collection that essentially deconstructs common jokes and then examines their philosophical underpinnings, and has a lot to teach writers about using humor in your work for more than just a quick laugh.

Moving over to prose, Gabriel García Márquez absolutely warped my brain as a teenager, and I’ve never looked back. I think Of Love and Other Demons was the first thing of his I read, and it was so completely unlike anything I had read up until that point. More recently, I absolutely adore Ann Patchett, whose work also leans heavily into magical realism, and who writes so precisely and poignantly about love, friendship, grief, redemption – about being human.

I’m pretty hard on movies, and tend to not enjoy most of them (that’s true for me of media in general, but it seems to be most acute with movies – and comics, ha). But some I find myself visiting over and over again include Jaws, The Conversation, The Apartment, Children of Men. The Coen Brothers’ catalog is famously a bit uneven, but that unevenness is a result of them always taking chances – and when those chances pay off, holy hell. So many of their movies have had a huge influence on my work, especially in the way they lean into ambiguity and provide no easy answers. The final moments of A Serious Man haunt me like few other things in cinema.

Honestly, it’s hard for me to consume great media and not be influenced by it. As a writer – and I’m sure this is very common – I want to do everything. I want to do big blockbuster entertainment, I want to do quietly intense drama, I want to get weird as hell. Basically, I want to write Jaws and Upstream Color, you know? Very few people have careers like that, but that’s no reason not to try – no reason not to open your brain up to as many influences as you can, and use it all to create something uniquely you.

CE: What would you like to be doing with your life if you weren’t writing?

PA: Before getting into comics, I worked as a newspaper reporter (which is also writing, so let’s glide past that) and then spent a decade working in economic development for a municipal government, helping businesses big and small with tax abatement, tax increment financing districts, revolving loan programs, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

I also helped a local comic shop (Comics Cubed, in Kokomo, Indiana!) open by guiding them through the process of applying for a small business loan through one of the programs I oversaw. They paid that loan off years early, and are still in business and doing great things for the Kokomo community.

So, I’d probably still be working for the government, or in economic development for a non-profit. I have a Master’s in Public Administration that I got just as I was getting into comics, when I thought that government would be my career path.

CE: What are some of your passions outside of comics?

PA: My dog, as anyone who follows me on social media can attest. We found him as a stray on January 1, 2018, and he’s made this terrible year noticeably brighter. I also enjoy walking… my dog, which I spend at least an hour or two a day doing. I spend some of my free time playing backgammon and doing crossword puzzles, because I am very old. I’ve also recently started volunteering as a mentor for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Indiana. My Little Brother is an awesome dude, and spending time with him has the added impact of pushing me to do new things, in an incredibly rewarding way.

To sign up for Paul’s upcoming Introduction to Comic Book Writing course (with Andy Schmidt), click here!


Episode #167 of the 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 Joey Groah, Nicole Boose, Heather Antos, and Jim Gibbons as they discuss making comics!

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

Episode #167 – Why Kickstarter for Your Comic
Fresh off her Comics Experience micro course, Heather Antos talks about why Kickstarter could be a fit for your comic, how to think about planning your campaign, and what to think about before you push “go.”

List of All Episodes

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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!