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MITCH launches tomorrow – with free books

MITCH HAMMER #1 is launching tomorrow on Kickstarter, and in addition to this brain vs. brawn blowout, we’ve got something mighty special planned for our first day backers.

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How ’bout four free comics that just so happen to be some of my favorite indie books of the last few years? That’s right,  everybody who backs at $5 and higher within the first 24 hours will receive PDFs of the following books:

  • BARNSTORMERS #1 by Kenny Porter and Renny Castellani
  • ANCIENT NOISE #1 by David Crispino and Tony Gregori
  • DUNGEON FUN #1 by Neil Slorance and Colin Bell
  • DOCTOR CROWE #1 by Corey Fryia, Matt Horak, Tony Gregori, and Karim Whalen

MITCH HAMMER #1 is 24 pages of construction worker vs. mutant monster madness. But as tough as Mitch Hammer is, he cannot stand alone. We need your help to make this book a reality, and having a strong opening day is vital to our success. That’s why we wanted to do something extra for you first day backers, and what better way than to share books that represent the fun and enthusiasm that can only be found in the best indie comics? These are the qualities I love as a reader, and it’s what we’ve tried to build into MITCH HAMMER from the ground floor up. So please consider backing on day 1 at the $5 level or higher – $5 will get you the massive 60+ page pdf of MITCH HAMMER #1 when the campaign is over – and you’ll find these books in your inbox on day 2!

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See you tomorrow.

— C

 

 

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MITCH HAMMER

BORN TO BUILD, DESTINED TO DEMOLISH!

I wanted to share with you a book I’ve been working on for the last year. It’s called MITCH HAMMER, and it looks like this:

mitch_cover_v2_nobleed

As you can probably surmise by the cover, it’s about a construction worker who runs afoul of science gone wrong at the local community college. That means big monsters. Oh, and there’s also the militant wing of the National Blood Clot association. It’s silly fun with a splash of NEXTWAVE, flaunting its girth in the manner of SHIRTLESS BEAR FIGHTER.

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The reason it has taken me so long to release this into the wild, is that, while I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve done, and while this creative team deserves EXTREMELY LARGE MOUNDS of praise, I’ve been quite nervous about how it will be received. On the surface it looks like a bigdumbaction comic, and though we do have copious amounts of slugging, there’s an emotional heart waiting to be uncovered. But will people take a chance on a book about construction workers? Blue collar action doesn’t exactly scream out BUY ME!

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But the truth is, I’ve owned a hardhat and steel-toed boots, and once know how to use a jackhammer. (I even put that on my resume, much to the amusement of my girlfriend at the time.)  I’ve worked among and grown up around these people*. I’ve got welders, and sheet rock layers among my immediate family. They are hard-working, beer-guzzling guys and gals who don’t know Cormac McCarthy from a hole in the wall, but for the most part they are down-to-earth heroes who never fail to inspire me and get my creative juices flowing.

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This is my love letter to the men and women who build stuff. It’s also about not letting other people dictate to you how to be happy in life. It’s about the pleasures of having a mullet and a can of chewing tobacco always in reach. But while our hero might have simple tastes, you better believe he’s willing to stand up and fight injustice in the form of PUNCH domestic science-terrorists and multi-story mutants.

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I want to get this book into all the hands because MITCH means something to me. MITCH inspires me. And MITCH isn’t willing to remain hidden any longer. (Cue the rousing string section.)

And why would he with such an amazing creative team?

  • Fernando Pinto is our Chilean wonderman on pencils. His layout and design skills are bursting with energy, and he absolutely kills it on the caterpillars – both the mechanized and mutant-ized versions. He can do humor, he can do emotion, he can do action, all of which we are serving up in manly amounts.
  • K. Michael Russell is one of my favorite colorists, a superstar in the making, and I’m overjoyed we were able to get him on board before he blows up even more. I might not understand the ins and outs of color theory, but I do know the old-school palette he’s using for MITCH is just so much damn fun.
  • Nic J. Shaw has lettered the hell out of this book, somehow finding the time between lettering tons of other indie work and the hit Image title The Fix.
  • Dan Hill has edited all 3 issues, and it’s his insights and dedication to the craft that led me to dig deeper into what could have easily been a meaningless book about punching. Truly the man is Dan.
  • Chris Kosek is a brilliant designer. If anybody’s going to take a chance on this book, it’s probably going to be because of that cover.

With our little sausage fest complete, it’s now almost time to launch this thing on Kickstarter. Right now the plan is to go live on Tuesday, September 5th, and taking some inspiration from the extremely talented Ryan K. Lindsay, we’re only charging $1 for this 24-page issue.

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With that low entry price and some other fantastic reward levels, our goal is to get this into as many hands as possible. Speaking of rewards, here’s a little run-down:

$1 – MITCH HAMMER #1 pdf – 24 pages of construction worker vs. mutant monster madness

$5 – EXTENDED HAMMER pdf – the complete story, including script, special pinup, sketches, and other snazzy bonus material

$10 – DIGITAL HAMMER + PINUP – Extended pdf and one 5 x 7 pinup delivered to your door.

$16 – XXL PRINT VERSION – Issue #1 in super-size 7.5″ x 11″ print format, perfect for crushing your enemies. Includes pinup and extended pdf.

$20 – MIXMANCER BUNDLE – Mitch Hammer #1 plus the Mixmancer one-shot. Includes pinup and extended pdf.

$20 – XXL PRINT VERSION + AUDIO COMMENTARY – you’ll get to hear me talking up the team and discussing the creative choices we made while putting together the book – includes XXL print version, pinup and extended pdf.

$26 – KARMA POLICE BUNDLE – Mitch Hammer #1 plus Karma Police #1-4 (Vault Comics). Includes pinup and extended pdf.

$28 – DRONES BUNDLE – Mitch Hammer #1 plus Drones tpb (IDW). Includes pinup and extended pdf.

$38 – XXL BUNDLE – Mitch Hammer #1 plus print copies of Drones tpb, Mixmancer one-shot, and Karma Police 1-4. Includes pinup and extended pdf.

$50 – XXL PRINT VERSION + HAMMERED SCRIPT – in addition to Mitch Hammer #1, I’ll print out and send you a script that I’ve abused with a variety of power tools  and alcoholic beverages. Includes pinup and extended pdf.

$68 – XXL PRINT VERSION + SCRIPT REVIEW – in addition to Mitch Hammer #1, I’ll provide detailed notes on your comic book script (24-pages or less), followed by a 1-hour run-down on Skype. Includes pinup and extended pdf.

$100 – CONSTRUCTION SKETCH – Series artist Fernando Pinto will pencil and ink an 8.5 x 11 sketch of you as a construction worker – includes XXL print version, pinup and extended pdf.

$125 – CHARACTER SKETCH – Series artist Fernando Pinto will pencil and ink an 8.5 x 11 sketch of the character of your choice – includes XXL print version, pinup and extended pdf.

$150 – STAR IN MITCH HAMMER #2 – You’ll appear (and most likely get horribly disfigured) in Mitch Hammer #2 – includes XXL print version, pinup and extended pdf.

$250 – DELUXE COVER – Fernando will draw a cover and send you the original art, while K. Michael Russell colors the file and makes it purty for your own comic. Includes XXL issue #1, pinup and extended pdf.

That’s it for now, but expect to hear more around launch time, as I’ll be shouting in the bullhorn all over the Facebooks. Please consider sharing this info with your comics-loving friends, and we look forward to building this story with your support.

-chris
@relicswish

*Which in no way shape or form makes me a handyman, as my wife will happily attest.

 

 

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Let’s talk lettering – with Nic J. Shaw

Last week I had the pleasure of talking shop with Karma Police collaborators Tony Gregori and Jasen Smith, and now I’m excited to bring you some more tasty tidbits relating to what went into this karmic sausage we all love. Today’s topic – lettering – something that always fascinates me, even though it’s unfortunately left out of many discussions regarding this whole comics thing. So here goes my second attempt at an interview – this time with Karma Police letterer extraordinaire Nic J. Shaw!

Chris Lewis: What was the most complicated page to letter, and how did you solve it?

Nic Shaw: Page 17 from Issue 3 was a challenging page. While there’s isn’t a tonne of dialogue, there’s a lot of important character placement that leads into the next page. So the reader needs to know where characters are in the scene, which means I couldn’t cover ‘em up. Which doesn’t leave me too much room for balloons. And then on top of that, the first speaker in panel 2 is on the right, which instantly makes a panel harder. This lead to a bit of back and forth with the team, and I think we ended up with 4 or 5 different versions of the first 2 panels. Thankfully we’re a collaborative team, and we found what I think is pretty great solution.

Karma Police issue #3, page 17

CL: I love the letters on page 3 of issue #2. The placement just flows down the center of the page like a waterfall, gently leading the eye from one panel to the next. What was your favorite page to letter?

NS: Pages like Pg03 of Is02 are always complicated. Looking at the page, you’re drawn to the empty space, and that’s where you’re naturally inclined to place a balloon. But as a letterer, first and foremost, your job is to lead the reader’s eye. And while I’ve done that well here, I have broken panel borders in a few odd ways to get that flow correct. But it works here.

Karma Police issue #2 page 3

As for my favourite page, it’s hard to pick just one. My favourite pages are the ones where I need to fit a tonne of dialogue into a small space. It’s a challenging puzzle that only a letterer could work out, and I love that. Page 9 of Issue 1, panel 2 and 3 were stand-outs. Masking Jack’s balloon as she and Dorje walk away from a happy client came out nicely.

Karma Police issue #1, page 9

CL: Issue #2, page 7, panel 4 got some really nice compliments on social media. What went into the creation of the “El Superlativo” balloon?

NS: Originally I just had a regular balloon in there, but it didn’t sell that panel as well as it could’ve. So I built on Toni’s love hearts. I traced the love hearts in Illustrator, and then layered together a fun, bouncy balloon. Then I eye-dropped Jasen’s colours onto the hearts, letters, and balloon stroke; and voila! It’s a nice little throwback to Jack Morelli’s lettering in Archie. Actually not even a throwback, he’s still killing it with Waid and Staples.

Karma Police #2, page 7

CL: You created some beautiful caption boxes that really fit the tone of the book. They resemble torn pages from some kind of ancient religious tome. For somebody who doesn’t have a clue how this is done (not naming names here), can you go into the process of how to make something like this?

NS: Originally I wanted to use scrolls for the lettering, but they were a little too ‘busy’ for Toni’s art, so I cut them down to a torn page look. There’s a few ways to create that look or similar. I created a box in illustrator, then using the pen tool took ‘tears’ out of it, then I used a custom stroke to give the lines some varying weight.

Karma Police issue #1, page 1

CL: One of my favorite things about having you on board is the design sense you bring to the additional material, such as the inner front covers, back matter, bonus material, etc. Let’s start with the “Design Covers” you created to tease the release dates on Comixology – what was your inspiration here?

NS: I find minimalist design really challenging; so to counter-balance Toni’s wonderful and busy art I wanted to see if I could create some minimalist “b” covers for the series. I felt the light and calm design would also go hand in hand with some of the Buddhist teachings that Karma Police touches on.

The “X” on the cover was something that struck late at night. I wanted to use a really simple Buddhist symbol, but they’re all quite detailed, and they just didn’t fall well on the centre of the page. So I broke down each symbol into its simplest form. The Svastika, Buddha with his arms in prayer position and his legs crossed, the intertwined fish, the Dharma Wheel, the Lotus, and the Eternal Knot, broken down have some similar points that create an “X” — It’s one of those things that no one else will ever see except those in the know…

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CL: As we’ve discussed in a few other interviews, we decided to change the coloring approach halfway through issue #1. Did that make you reconsider your how you wanted to letter the book?

NS: Colouring will usually only affect captions and SFX. Toni handles most of the SFX in KP and my captions fit with both color styles. So it didn’t make a difference to my work.

CL: Tony would sometimes draw the sound effects that I included in the scripts. In my experience, this has usually been something the letterer would take on. How do you feel sharing SFX duties with the artist? Would you prefer a different method?

NS: I’m either all or nothing on this point. If the artist is going to handle the SFX, handle ALL the SFX. If I have to try match an artist’s work, my job just get’s harder. Not that I mind it, creating brushes in Manga Studio and Photoshop is fun. But it can get tiresome.

On the other hand, I love building SFX, so let me do ‘em if you got ‘em.

Of course, there are exceptions to this. If you’ve got an explosion, and the writer wants a giant “BOOM!” Across the page, and the artist wants to use a lot of exploding debris, they’re better off doing the SFX I feel. They know the perspective and composition of the page better than I will. And it saves me half an hour of masking little bricks and mortar.

CL: I know I can sometimes be wordy in my scripts, even if I always try to shorten any dialogue to make it fit with the final artwork. What is the number one piece of advice you like to give to writers and artists in order to make your life easier?

NS: “Sometimes” good one.
There’s 2, and used in combination it’s hard to go wrong.
Writers: Maximum 25 words per balloon, Maximum 3 balloons per full page width panel on a 5 panel page. Artists: Leave the top 20 – 25 % of the panel for lettering.

 

Thanks so much to Nic for being such a good guy, even if he called me wordy. And please pick up the brand new Image title The Fix, lettered by Nic, written by Nick Spencer, with art by Steve Lieber. It’s out in two days (April 6), and you should own this.

For all of you attending ECCC in Seattle, Tony and I will be at table T-05 in Artists Alley with copies of Karma Police. Come by, say hi, and don’t be surprised if I’m not entirely wordy in person!

If you can’t attend the show, or if you prefer your comics to be of the digital variety, Karma Police is available right here via Comixology.

Peace,

Chris

 

 

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The Lost Pages

Hey folks,

With the Karma Police Kickstarter in full swing, I want to take you groovy people behind the scenes to show you the sacrifices the creative team was willing to make in order for this book to be as spiritually bad ass as possible.

Sacrifices in the form of beautiful artwork that ended up on the cutting room floor. Let’s take a look at some original pages from issue one, starting here with page 6:

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I loved this introduction of the Karma Grove monastery and our main monks. But something wasn’t working.

Take a look at panel 2. Jack, our main character, is looking off to the side, disinterested in the conversation. This is what I called for in the script, but I ended up changing Jack a bit to make her more accessible. I felt she should be facing the reader while Dorje (the older gentleman monk) explains to the mother the mission of the Karma Grove. The biggest difference between the original page and the final, however, is the reveal of poor little Suzie’s inner demon. Showing the demon here raised the tension, but we buried it on the following page, only to bring it up again on page 8. It  also caused a bit of confusion whether or not the mother could see the demon (she wasn’t supposed to), and if so, why she didn’t react to it. As always, avoiding confusion is a good thing.

KPPG7_ColorsThis page is so good, it hurts me to even look at it. Tony’s layout and panel choices are brilliant – the way that round panel 2 just pops out at the reader – and Jason’s colors are so warm and pleasant. (We ended up going for a completely different coloring scheme, which I’ll get into in a later post.) Here in the last panel you see the ratcheting up of the tension, as we realize that Suzie’s little demon is about to pop out again once Dorje removes her binky. Bad move, monk, but once again I felt we had already lost some of the tension since the reveal on the previous page, and wasn’t too sure that this panel was going to be able to bring it back up to 10. Love the look on her face, though!

 

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And it’s on – monk vs. demon baby – the fight the world has been waiting for! Here Jack was serving tea while pontificating about the peaceful nature of the Karma Grove, while master Dorje was kicking a little girl in the face. It still makes me laugh. The problem was, our main character was still passive. I wanted to get her off of tea duties and into the action.

As difficult as it was, we made the decision to scrap these pages and do something different. Of course it’s better to realize these things before starting production, but sometimes the story develops in ways you hadn’t foreseen. We are extremely happy with the way things turned out, though. Here you go:

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Aren’t these pages lovely? A new pacing, new color scheme, and just as much demon baby. Now with more yak milk.

So it’s a happy ending after all.

Thanks for listening. If you want to receive your own copy of the book in digital or print format, please head over to the Kickstarter page and consider throwing some financial support our way. We appreciate all the help!

Peace

 

 

 

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KARMA POLICE: preview

Here are the first 9 pages of KARMA POLICE, issue 1. Story by Chris Lewis, art by Tony Gregori, colors by Jasen Smith, letters by Nic J. Shaw.

KarmaPolice001_page1 KarmaPolice001_page2 KarmaPolice001_page3 KarmaPolice001_page4 KarmaPolice001_page5 KarmaPolice001_page6 KarmaPolice001_page7 KarmaPolice001_page8 KarmaPolice001_page9Issues 1 and 2 available on Comixology. Kickstarter coming soon!

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Karma Police

New year, new post, new book, that’s all.

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Karma Police #1. Radness with Tony Gregori, Jasen Smith, and Nic J. Shaw. Published by Comics Experience. Available tomorrow on Comixology.

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MIXMANCER now available via Comixology!

For those who missed out on the Kickstarter, MIXMANCER is now on sale at Comixology for the low-low price of $1.99. Get on the mashup comic of the year by clicking here.

BUY NOW!

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JBS MIXMANCER PINUP

Artist Jonathan Brandon Sawyer did a pinup for the MIXMANCER Kickstarter. Here’s a process piece from layout to colors:

I’m in love with this hip-hop hipster chick. So glad he went with her rather than the dude he originally planned on drawing.

We’ve got more MIXMANCER pinups available at all reward levels $5 and higher. You can check ‘em out here. Thanks!

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MIXMANCER Kickstarter LAUNCHES

We are live, ladies and gentlemen. It’s been a long time coming, but the MIXMANCER Kickstarter is finally here!

MM Logo

With the help of my friend and editor Yannick Morin, I finished writing MIXMANCER back in the summer of 2013. Afterwards, my collaborators Carlos Trigo, Andrew Crossley, and Nic Shaw brought it to life just in time for Emerald City Comic Con in March ’14. I ended up doing a very small print run and pitching it around to various publishers. Since then, MIXMANCER has just been hanging around, waiting for me to make a decision on how to bring it to a wider audience. Things finally came together when I saw what an amazing job Ryan K Lindsay did with his Kickstarter campaign for Deer Editor. (A book that is infinitely better than its Kickstarter campaign, as if that weren’t obvious.) And as MIXMANCER deals with themes of digital sampling and remixing, what better way to share it with the world than a (mostly) digital Kickstarter? (The obvious answer here would be to give it away for free online, but that would undermine my entire existence and deprive my comics-making slush-fund of needed duckets, yo!)

So here we are. It’s going to be a fun 30 days as we try to raise $1k for our little hip-hop sci-fi comic book mashup. This is a book that couldn’t be done at a traditional publisher, and in order to spread our devious meme we’re relying on the largess of complete strangers with incredibly good taste. People like you! And just as the book features various pieces of pop-culture spilling out of its innards, so too does the campaign have something for everybody. We’ve got a digital version of the book for just $2, as well as remixed interior pages, print copies, defaced works of art, talking pinups, and superstar commissions. This is the jam!

We do realize, however, that one person’s favorite tune can annoy the hell out of other people. If this doesn’t sound like your kind of thing, no problem. But maybe somebody in your social circle would totally be down with a Kool Keith / Swamp Thing-inspired one-shot. Every mention or share on social media can help us reach those potential readers, and we’re grateful for all the help we can get.

As one last bit of inspiration, I’ll leave you with something I heard long ago in the Parliament of Trees:

All our stories…are subtly…different…yet the underlying…pattern…remains constant

That’s what MIXMANCER is all about.

If you’re interested in the underlying pattern, please check out our subtly different story over on the campaign page.

Thanks!

 

 

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MIXMANCER REMIX PLEDGE LEVELS

 MIXMANCER – a 24-page hip-hop sci-fi one-shot, influenced by your favorite pieces of trivial pop-culture! Written by Chris Lewis. Art by Carlos Trigo. Colors by Andrew Crossley. Letters by Nic Shaw. Edits by Yannick Morin.
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In my last update I talked about the main digital rewards on offer in our Kickstarter, and today I’m going to drop the details on some funky remixes. Let’s get it on!

$50 – DEFACEMENT MIX – limited to 10

I’ll send you a physical copy of the book, remixed with the help of wite-out, glued-on pictures, cut-out ransom note letters, and probably gobs of glitter. Includes the EXTENDED MIX and SCRIPT SELECTOR PDFs.

This is going to be BIG fun! And time consuming. Actually, I’m quite scared about this reward level, as I’m sure I’ll want to spend way more time on these than I possibly have. But the Mix is strong in me, and I’ve already got some ideas for themes and visuals that are going to make these things pop. I’m also open to requests, so if you are dying to see your favorite Hollywood actress duke it out with an Italian soccer star, I will make that happen!

$175 – MIX AND MASHUP

A guest artist will re-imagine one of the interior pages and send you the original art. Includes the EXTENDED MIX and SCRIPT SELECTOR PDFs.

I’ve got a bunch of highly talented artists ready to reinterpret every page of the script. Help get some money in their pockets, and you’ll be the proud owner of a brand new page of original artwork.

And now we’ve come to my big dream. If we can get 24 backers at this level, I’ll get all the pages colored, have Nic Shaw drop some new letters down, and put together a digital remix version of the book for EVERY SINGLE BACKER! It’s Mixmancer Redux, baby!

I wanted to share some info on commissions and original artwork, but the sheer amount of insanely talented people on board is just too big for this post. More to come. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this bit of wisdom:

“Flesh…speaks

Wood…listens”

That’s no joke.

January 19th. The Mix is on.

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