For those who interact with me on the internet (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) is common knowledge that I'm the president of a non-profit organization called Comics For Christmas and that we had scheduled an event for this weekend. It was called The Comics For Christmas Free Comic Book Giveaway at The Book and Movie Exchange and we were going to give away at least 2,000 comics and candy to every kid that stopped by the store. But, what ended up happening was far from what we've expected and to be honest, it was quite upsetting to say the least.
The thing is, we do this because we care about kids, we want to encourage kids to read and we put a lot of effort behind this events, we invest our money and time trying to make this events as successful as humanly possible, but we need the support of the people involved with the events as well. We make the flyers, print them and provide the store owners with enough flyers to pass along to their customers and of course, we expect them to pass them along.
But how upsetting it is to stop by on the day of the event, have the store owner pull you aside and tell you: "I went on the website on the flyer and found photos that made me not pass the flyers". The photo in question was the one I posted to the right ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------>
Pretty much every comic book fan knows that the character being portrayed by the model is none other than Sara Pezzini (aka Witchblade) and that Cosplay is in no way, shape or form pornography. I mean, if we want to get technical, there's far more offensive material in a DVD/Blue Ray store than on any Witchblade comic book, but regardless, because of our last Truthful Comics Spotlight the store owner didn't promote our Comics For Christmas event; AT ALL!!! As you might imagine I'm beyond upset and because of this we won't be visiting The Book and Movie Exchange tomorrow or ever again because we feel that it was totally unncesary and rude to have us pay for flyers and then basically throw them in the trash because you didn't bother to either contact me or do your research into who the character is or what the model is doing. This could've easily been avoided by giving us a call, e-mailing us or even massaged us through Facebook but to wait until we arrive at your store, after we've been promoting your store non-stop everywhere we go and we're ready for the event, and then you basically tell me that you don't know how many people will come because you didn't like a picture on my website and it made you not pass the flyers to the parents; that's unforgivable.
Regardless, kids did showed up and we handed out a few hundred books, candy, we had some great interactions with the parents and the kids who attended and we even left a few dozen comic books in case some kids show up tomorrow. I have to admit that I'm so disappointed with this whole situation that if it wasn't for the kids, I'd stop doing it but we have a mission and making kids happy is more important than wasting a few bucks and a few hours because of some people who lack vision.
I hope that we can find other establishments who are willing to open their doors to us and believe in our cause which I believe is so important. Kids need to learn to read, they need to love reading and what better way to instill that love of reading than to provide them with books filled with stories about their favorite characters. They'll follow their favorite superheroes on numerous adventures and hopefully they'll graduate into novels and so on. I want to help light that spark of imagination in their young minds and I'll use comic books to do the trick.
Today was one of those days when I just wanted to take my family out for a long drive without a specific destination and just wing it. Fill up the gas tank, lower the door windows, open the sun roof, turn the volume and just enjoy the ride; so that's what we did! We drove for a while and my wife spotted a dance studio (she's a professional dancer) and asked me if we could stop real quick, to which I replied: "Sure". Of course, I immediately spotted a book store right next to the dance studio and I told her I wanted to check it out afterwards. The books store was independently owned and it looked inviting.
There were tow male clerks who immediately acknowledge me and my family and were very courteous, something that employees from every field are missing more and more these days! I looked around for a few minutes and they asked me if I needed help, but before I could ask them, I noticed that one of the clerks had a pile of at least 50 comics in front of him! All I could say was "Yes you do!" He looked at me funny and I said "Comics, do you guys carry comic books?" And he said "Yes we do!" He showed me three aisles full of comics ranging from Batman to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to The Mighty Thor to Wildcats! It was a beautiful thing!!!
As soon as I turned that corner where the clerk told me to, I was suddenly in front of what can only be described as a comic book hidden treasure! Even more so when it's located in Virginia Beach, so to me it felt like I was a pirate, and I discovered an abandoned treasure chest full of comic book gold! I'm talking about hundreds, if not thousands of comic books, and at great prices too! It's too bad that I had just went to my local comic shop and spent a pretty penny there, because I only had so much extra cash to spare. But rest assure, I'll be stopping by this book store on a more regular basis and I'll be getting a bunch of those comics they had in their store.
So, next time you're in Virginia Beach and get the mood to buy some comic books, visit AFK Books, Music and Movies.
They're located at:
4801 Shore Drive, Suite D
Virginia Beach, VA 23455
By Manuel A. Carmona
After reading this much anticipated Batman #18 book I find myself feeling conflicting emotions; and here's why. I like Batman's reaction to his sons death, I understand what it's like to loose someone who means the world to you and feel like your entire world is crumbling around you. Honestly, all you feel is hate. Hate for the world, hate for humanity, even hate for God because in your mind, he's taking everything from you; or at least everything that's important in your life. I think Scott Snyder portrayed Batman in a very believable way and I really enjoyed it, atleast that aspect of the book. The tone of the book was very dark and you immediately felt Bruce Wayne/Batman's pain and his sense of loss and you almost want him to release that pain onto the scum of the world. The problem with that is that at some point, you start loosing sight of the person you were and the person you've become. I went through exactly that when my grandfather died. That experience, I feel, killed the innocence and joy I felt when I was with him and made me stronger in more ways than one. But... back to the story.
Now, this Harper Row character really bothers me, but not for the reasons you might expect; let me explain. Harper and her brother Cullen's story is a very interesting one, you can tell Snyder thought about their backstory quite bit, but thats where me liking this story ends. For example, here's a list of the things that I find oddly familiar about the character:
1. Harper being inspired by Batman.
2. Practicing martial arts, boxing, etc.
3. Training to be a superhero.
4. Going out at night on patrol.
5. Batman yelling at her because she's not ready.
6. Batman telling her that she will never be his partner.
7. Harper proving herself worthy of being Batman's partner.
8. Batman apologizing for treating her like crap.
This is not Harper Rose's story, this is Stephanie Brown!!!
Scott Snyder took what made Stephanie Brown (a.k.a. The Spoiler, Robin and Batgirl) the cool character she was and adapted it to "his character" and for that reason alone, I could never get behind this Harper Row/Stephanie Brown rip off . It's mind boggling to me how Dan Didio said that they probably wont be bringing Stephanie Brown back because the sales numbers don't justify it, and yet they "green light" a character that is obviously and blatantly a Stephanie Brown rip off!!! This happened simply because the character was pitched by DC Comics' "golden boy" Scott Synder.
//By the way, if I notice this I am sure every Stephanie Brown fan out there will notice this too.//
Besides my obvious issues with the whole "Stephanie Brown rip off" thing, I feel that the character interaction between Bruce Wayne/Batman and Harper Row was executed very well, but I've seen it before, almost word for word. The same arguments, the same problems, and even the fact that Harper and her brother Cullen's father is a scumbag. Wasn't Stephanie Brown's father a scumbag as well? Good Lord!!!
One of the highlights on this book to me was Andy Kubert drawing Batman again, which is something I can always appreciate. Also, Greg Capullo's cover is simply beautiful! Even my wife (who's not a comic book fan AT ALL) loved the cover. Even Alex Maleev's art , even though it wasn't on par with Kubert's or Capullo's artwork, it was still good. All in all, this was a well written book that I absolutely didn't like because of the reasons I mentioned before.
Agree or disagree? Leave your comments below and let us know what you thought of the book.
-Art: Kubert- 5/5 Maleev- 3/5
P.S. I want to thank my wife for helping me with this blog entry by typing all this on the computer ebcause my hands where hurting. Thanks baby!
On days like today I'm reminded of how diverse us comic book fans are and how far we've come in the eyes of society. When I arrived at work this morning, the last thing I expected to see was a newspaper spread across our lunch room table and on the front page a news article titled: "In Virginia's halls of power, some of the powerful indulge in a little comic relief". Even more shocking to me (in a good way) was looking at a photo of Virginia Beach Del. Ron Villanueva, holding a Green Lantern POP! figure on his right hand and gesturing like he has a Green Lantern "power ring" on his left hand, and if that wasn't enough to prove his geek credentials; Del. Villanueva was wearing Batman cuff-links. I don't know about you, but to me, that is extremely cool!
The Virginian-Pilot article is humorous and very interesting, especially if your a comic book geek like me. Del. Villanueva talks about his love of comic books, his Star Wars and G.I.Joe collections (some of which populate his office) and how he even decided which of his House colleagues are doppelgangers for comic book characters. Among them are House Speaker William Howell, whom he compares with Jedi Master Yoda (from the Star Wars Saga) and/or Professor X (from Marvel Comics' X-Men). He makes this comparison because he feels House Speaker Williams is a very wise and convincing individual, much like the aforementioned. There's also Republican Del. Jackson Miller, whom he compares to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's Marvel Comics' creation: The Hulk. He makes this comparison due to Del. Jackson's temper.
Then there's Del. Rich Anderson
. Now, Del. Anderson
isn't much of a comic book guy, but during his 2009 campaign, he picked up the nickname "Captain America
" when a political foe mocked him for his United States Air Force
service. The monicker stuck with the retired Colonel. During that same campaign run, Del. Anderson
fondly remembers when a retired US Marine
presented him with an exact replica of Captain America
' shield. The shield has been displayed on a wall behind his desk ever since.
The article talks about a few other Delegates and I have to admit, as I was reading this, I felt a strange sense of pride, not for me, but for comic book fans across the world. Here are a few "geeks
" who did good and became successful. These Delegates are just one example of how far us comic book "geeks
" have come and how far comic book roots reach into all facets of society as we know it. I hope that these politicians follow the righteous path of those superheroes they're fans of.
If you want to read the full article visit: http://hamptonroads.com/2013/02/virginias-halls-power-little-comic-relief
So in the words of Jedi
across the galaxy and Del. Villanueva
himself: "May The Force Be With You
Hello everybody, Alvaro/Lance here with another page from the Book of Danger. I used to have one of those wallet sized calendars when I was a freshman in college. On the back of it was this image of a flowery path on a mountain. It had a saying in Spanish, that loosely translated said “When your goal is to reach the top of the mountain, do not pay attention to the small rocks on the path”.
What are your “rocks” on your path? Fear? Time? Insecurity? Is it possible to even make it to that top of the mountain in the first place? Fear and doubt is a very powerful thing, especially if you go into your goals with fear and doubt right from the outset. If you go in thinking “I will never accomplish this”, odds are, most likely than not, you won’t. Is it what some call a “self fulfilling prophecy”? Perhaps. Many times it’s much easier to pay attention to those “rocks” that get in our way than keeping your eyes on your goals, whatever they may be. It’s hard to keep your sights high.
I was reminded of this while I was in New York recently with my girlfriend. While she was at work, I wandered around and got reacquainted with my childhood walking around Times Square. As I walked on the street, there was a group of people asking for charity for homeless children. As I go to donate some money, the man noticed me wearing a wrist brace on my right arm. He wished me well and asked if I typed a lot. I reply yes, and that I also draw. He promptly smiles and says to me “keep on working hard. You know what? One day I’ll be standing here, and your work will be displayed on one of these billboards” as he points up to the billboards all around us. I kind of stayed speechless, and just said that it would be kinda cool. Then he looked a bit more seriously after my full of self-doubt reply, and just said “of course. Always remember, aim up there”, as he pointed to the sky again. After we said good bye, once again he says with a smile “remember, always aim up there”.
It reminded me of how I myself am guilty of many times tripping over those rocks and just…stay there, only to try and get up, only to trip over the same rock again. How sometimes it’s so easy to just let your confidence go down and conform. To tell yourself it’s impossible to reach that top, even if sometimes it’s so close you can almost touch it within your grasp.
It’s difficult, yes, that path to the top of the mountain, to the top of your goals, will always be a rocky path. But be strong. Be persistent. Keep your eyes on the top of that mountain. It’s difficult, but not impossible. That’s it for today, thank you for reading, stay safe everyone, and remember, “always aim up there”.
-Alvaro “Lance Danger” Cortes Ortiz Jr
August marks the sixth year anniversary of my webcomic, "Fred Peterson, The Mighty Warlord", and throughout the years many have asked me one question or another about the process of making the webcomic (or any project I'm involved with, really).
So I thought now is the perfect time to answer all these questions in one place. Every Thursday for the time being I will post the different process I go through to produce this comic. This is not a tutorial per se. This is not the "right way" to do your comic, this is simply my way of doing it.
If you have your own way of doing it, or have further questions, by any means share in the comments section below or go to he new community forum and feel free to express yourselves. With that in mind, let me share with you my particular process and resources that are used to make "Fred Peterson, The Mighty Warlord".
Many of you might not know this, but I majored in communications for two years. And much of the process I go through to this day revolves around what I learned. Although even throughout high school, when I made actual comics of Warlord in notebooks, little did I know I was already almost instinctively doing back then what I would eventually learn and refine through college in terms of making a comic. Though some might look at the picture to the right and read this section and may think "what does pre-production for video, film, and multimedia has to do with comics?". Believe me, it has more to do than you think.
What does comics, video, film, and multimedia have in common?
It's a visual medium. And many of the steps followed are very similar. It all comes down to planning and story boarding and laying everything out. And of course, in my case, reading as much possible about the subject at hand.
See those nine notebooks spread out? That's the entire original run of Warlord, done all the way from tenth grade all through sophomore year of college, 1994-2000. As I progressed I became hungrier for knowledge. During that period I found out more about Bruce Lee's life and how he "devoured" all kinds of books to hone his martial arts. Basically anything that would help him engage an opponent fast and win as quick as possible. He would read and mark and take notes on the actual books themselves. So, in high school I bought my first art book.
This book basically became my teacher alongside the tutorials from "Wizard Magazine" throughout the 90s. Many who see my pencil work and the "energy" that comes from it actually came from this book that really helped me in terms of posing characters and having solid pencil linework.
A few years later I bought this How to draw human anatomy book, which taught me the importance of body structure and anatomy of course. That's probably why there's a HUGE difference in my artwork from say... 1997-2000 in relation to my artwork circa 2002-2010. But that's a blog for another day...
This is actually a college book for a class I had as a freshman before I studied communications. I actually majored in computer programming first, but this book , and this class in particular, helped students with big grades coming out of high school to be able to adapt to college life much easier.
What I got out of this book is an important element to comic making: having a schedule and making time to stick with it and how to make a budget. So, much of the discipline I developed was thanks to this book. Thanks to the author!
This book (Art School How to Draw and Paint) was a present. With this book I learned mostly composition and framing since it dealt mostly with portraits and paintings, but it can also be applied for doing comic book covers and pin-ups and/or promo work . It also helped me experiment with digital painting, actually using digital brushstrokes rather than an actual brush. Pretty neat book!
This too was a gift. Given to me at the same time as the previous book mentioned. I learned basically the same things, except for this book it's actually very philosophical in nature, and not only opened my artistic soul, but my mind as well. For those who have read my more philosophical blogs linking comic book work with personal philosophies, this book helped inspire that, even way back then in 2003 I believe.
This Joe Kubert's Comic Book Studio book was a birthday present. It's a very practical guide to making your own comic. What I learned from this is that it's ALWAYS good to remind yourself of the basics. Sometimes (and I am guilty of this from time to time) we tend to over-complicate things, and then it's necessary to simply go back to the basics and remind yourself of this. Sometimes it's best to remember the old saying: "less is more".
I bought this How to Draw Manga book when I did the first set of "webisodes" of The Mighty Warlord. When I decided to inject a more "Japanese style" into my art, instead of merely copying my favorite mangakas, I decided I wanted to know more about that process, so I went and bought this book. This book showed me the importance of backgrounds, motion, and emotional portrayal in characters, somethings that artists seem to neglect nowadays.
When I decided to do Fred Peterson: The Mighty Warlord as a webcomic in 2006, I was just starting to dabble finally in computer coloring. It was very hit and miss until people suddenly noticed a big leap forward in the coloring department. That was the result of this book right here: How to Color For Comics. It shows various techniques (many I have even yet to practice) and the creative process behind them. I still go to this book from time to time despite learning from fellow indie artists and their own way of coloring.
I've also read many online tutorials and video tutorials as well. I highly suggest to do this in terms of writing or artwork. At least for me, this is a continual growth process and with new advances in technology, there's always something new to learn. Hit those books, even if they are ebooks!
The Rule of 70-30-10
After having read and absorbed all that, I always keep coming back to this book. In terms of creativity and planning this book is my bible. And to me it's most important verse is the rule of 70-30-10. That pretty much breaks down three aspect of the creating:
70 percent would go into pre-production. In comics terms, that would be coming up with an idea, doing a draft or synopsis of the story, any research you must do for the story and the reference material for artwork. That also includes to have your tools of the trade up to date. There is nothing more irritating than doing traditional inks and mid-way through the page, you run out, and you realize you don't have another bottle of ink at your disposal!
At least I like to keep tabs on my materials and check list them if need be. Because good planning will save you both time and money.
30 percent would go into post-production. In comic book terms, that would be organizing how and where the book will be printed or uploaded on the web, the promotion behind it to give it exposure, the marketing and administration of it, etc.
And finally, 10 percent goes into the actual production, which is what many of us like to do the most, which is basically writing the actual script and the actual art process and making the comic real. Sometimes you drain more energy in the pre-production and post-production because they are hats we regularly tend to avoid wearing because we just want to do comics, at least in my case, anyway.
So, as this book stresses, I do a lot of planning whenever I go into the world of The Mighty Warlord, especially since I put so much characters in it and especially now that there is six years worth of back story to it, so I have to carefully stage the continuity of this story, which is why story is very important to me.
And the writing aspect is something that is also preached very much in this book. How do you know what you're going to draw without an idea of what you want to do first? That's how I see it, I know there are plenty ways around this, but this is my particular way of doing this.
And there is to me at least, three ways I go around this (some may use more, others less, depends on who or what they want to do). For example, When I used to do Warlord in notebooks through high school, I just wrote the basic plot of an issue, and after writing the basic plot, I would just draw the scenes and wrote the dialogue as I went, actually doing it all almost at the same time (you can click the picture to the left to make it bigger).
The second way I do it (which is what I do 85% of the time when I'm writing and doing the art on my personal projects) is I write scenes in particular, in the order they'll happen, with the majority of the dialogue written, and then I break down the scenes into small thumbnails to organize the pacing and flow of the story, adding or taking away scenes as it's necessary to not drag down the story or make too sudden of a cut to a next scene**.
**Click pic for bigger image**
And my third way of doing it, which is really up to the artist and how comfortable they feel with it, is the full script, where I break everything down, panel-to-panel, page-to-page, full dialogue**.
**Click pic for bigger image**
So in Warlord's case, I like having the story written down first as to know if I have to research something or look up proper reference for artwork. In the picture to the right --------------------------------------> are Books 1-3 of Fred Peterson: The Mighty Warlord completely written out, and the last one to the right is book four, which I have yet to write the final arch of**.
**Click pic for bigger image**
And then, before I begin the actual production on the comic as in the artwork for a page, etc, I thumbnail the entire chapter (or issue) and rearrange as I see fit**. So as you can see, I stress story first.
**Click pic for bigger image**
Because (and this is a very personal state of mind) although yes, comics are a visual medium, it's usually the story that keeps readers coming back for more. A good story, or at the very least a basic, fun, enjoyable story, is what marks the difference between your webcomic being an epic tail or your webcomic simply being an online art gallery.
Well, this has gone long enough, so stay tuned for part two coming soon. I know this is a pretty long read, but if there are enough requests I might make a video version; who knows. Again, this is not "the right way" of doing it, it's simply MY way of doing it. In any case, I hope this helps you out in some way and again, if you have your own ways, please discuss them with us in the forum if you wish. Until next time, be safe, and thanks for reading!
~Alvaro "Lance Danger" Cortes Ortiz Jr
Ok, there's been a lot of controversy around Marvel and DC trying to capitalize on President's Obama's statements on gay marriage and/or relationships and I'd like to give my thoughts on the matter. I believe this has been done in a cheap and forced way that diminish what could've been a move forward in comics, and turned out to be another ploy to make money. My opinions on the matter might be a little polarizing but they come from the heart so here we go.
I believe that what two people do in the bedroom should be their own business as should be who they choose to spend the rest of their lives with. I have nothing against gay people and I honestly don't care who they date or sleep with, that's their personal business and it shouldn't matter to me. I also believe that rational thinking adults have the right to choose right from wrong, whatever that may be to each individual, but when it comes to children being exposed to a gay marriage in a comic book, that's where I draw the line. Now, people might say that Astonishing X-Men is not intended for kids but, if you bring a kid to a comic book shop and they go through the covers and see the cover to Astonishing X-Men #51, there's no telling what effects that might have on them. I know it's up to the parents to teach their kids about the things in life, but there's things a kid shouldn't be exposed to at an early age, no matter what your views may be on the topic at hand, kid's minds are sponges and are gullible, hence showing them that a male superhero loves another man might confuse them into thinking they like little Timmy from down the street, when in reality, they might just be going through a phase or simply be confused by what they just saw at the comic shop/movie/tv show/etc. It's not only gay relationships I feel young kids shouldn't be exposed to at an early age, but also racism, sex, extreme violence and things that may be harmful to a mind that isn't fully developed. If you are an adult and you feel that you love another member of your own sex that's fine, but in my opinion it's not fine to tell a kid that a man falling in love with another man is right, that's crossing the line; but that's just my opinion. Let me be clear, I have a cousin that's gay and I love him dearly, I have two female friends and art colleagues that I greatly respect, but that doesn't mean I'm telling my son that it's ok for him to like our neighbor's boy; I'D NEVER TELL HIM IT'S OK!!!
Another thing I see wrong with the whole "gay superheroes" is that being gay is mainly a selling ploy rather than make it part of what the character's about. That's like putting out a Batman comic and promoting it as "Batman gets married to a sexy woman! He's the straight guy in the country club..." it doesn't feel natural, it feels like what it is; a money grab. Take Alan Scott (a.k.a. The original Green Lantern) for example. He's the latest character to be turned gay and I feel it's DC's way of trying to catch on with Marvel's "gay wedding". Alan Scott is one of the original DC characters being around since the beginning of comics and one with a rich and established history. Married, father of two, a very respected character in the DC Universe and an example of what every man should be. Now, for DC's New 52 and in order for them to ride the "being gay is cool" wave, the "powers that be" decided to erase his whole history and make him a gay man, and not only that, they're marketing the book based on his sexual orientation rather than his qualities and heroism, they're not trying to support gay people, they're trying to make a buck.
Like I said, I have nothing against the gay community and I don't have anything against DC, Marvel or any other company putting out gay characters in comics intended for adults, but please, make it something that's part of who the character is, don't make it WHAT the character is. It's like real life, you don't say "Wow, he/she's gay! Btw, he/she can sing as well", instead we say "Wow! What an incredible voice!!!" and after you get to know the person, you find out that he/she is also gay. Let's hope we keep moving forward as a people and comic publishers try to put more thought into their stories rather than put some stuff together to make a few bucks.
Manuel A. Carmona
Well, last weekend we, meaning most people who love comics, celebrated our annual Free Comic Book Day
event and as always, it was a joyous occasion! Let me explain what FCBD is for those of you who don't know. Free Comic Book Day
is a single day (the first Saturday in May each year
) when participating comic book shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely FREE*
to anyone who comes into their stores. *Check with your local comic book shop for their participation rules.
My family and I went, as we have been for the past three years, to Local Heroes
, our local comic shop and as always, it was awesome! Greg Thompson
and his wife Meredith
go all out trying to give the customers and experience like no other. As if free comics wasn't enough, they had free drinks, pizza, bagels, coffee... the works! all in all, it was a wonderful day and if you havent been to a Free Comic Book Day
event and live around the Norfolk, VA area, I encourage you to visit Local Heroes. Here's their web site: http://localheroescomics.com/
You'll be glad you did!
Now, on top of that, we decided to do our own version of FCBD
in conjunction with The Book Exchange http://www.bookexchangenorfolk.com/
, and so we did! This event will be held tomorrow starting at 10:00 am and we'll be giving away 5 comics to each kid in attendance
This is our first event alongside be good folks at the Book Exchange
and hopefully it won't be the last. If you ever wanted your kids to learn how to read, or maybe to focus on other activities besides watching TV or playing video games, here's your chance to introduce them to the magical world of superheroes!
I hear so often parents who claim that their kids aren't interested in reading, but what if you give them something that's not boring to them? What if you give them an option to read a comic book and enjoy themselves while still learning?
Comics are more than violence and flash, they teach kids and/or teenagers important values that will eventually shape them into productive citizens. Let an important kid in your life know the magic of comics and discover a whole new world of wonder.
Remember that the Comics For Christmas/Book Exchange Free Comic Book Day
will be held tomorrow at 116 E Little Creek Rd, Norfolk, VA 23505 starting at 10:00am and each kid will recieve 5 Free Comics! I hope to see you all there!
Manuel A. Carmona