Corey "Roc Bottom" Davis will see you guys in Murrels Inlet this Saturday from 10-5 for the Grand Strand Mini Con!
Alvaro "Lance Danger" Cortes Jr here. Just thought I'd give my thoughts on the indie comics I've read and why I read indie comics.
When I got into comics, I was like four years old. My father barely knew any English, enough to get by which was good enough I guess. My parents really wan't me to have a grasp on both English and Spanish. My father would buy comics and storybooks that were in English, and he'd read them to me. I learned how to read before I started kindergarten because of that.
One time I was exploring our home when I was about 5 and randomly found all these small mini comics in Spanish, translations into Spanish of Little Lulu comics and other hispanic mini comics. They belonged to my mom from when she was young, and turns out she was an Archie fan.
So, I began reading Archie.
I know he's more well known that most comics out there and is basically an American institution, but I still consider them to be "indie", so I was practically raised on indie comics.
When I was a teenager, that's when I started getting interested in Batman, when Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle were the creative team. It also happened to be when Image formed and exploded. My favorite of the bunch at the time was Cyberforce because I LOVED Marc Silvestri's art on that book and thought it was the best art of his career at the time. I also loved Todd McFarlane's Spawn, which to me had the best coloring of the Image titles and the coolest looking art. Shadow Hawk was another huge favorite of mine, of course, followed by WildCATS, Savage Dragon, and Youngblood.
That kind of opened the door for indies to get more attention and acceptance. I started reading stuff like Terry Moore's Strangers in Paradise, Terri S Wood's Wandering Star, Trent Kanugua's Creed, I've always been very open to indie comics because I pretty much started by reading indie comics.
To me, reading indie comics is a personal experience. Sure, there are OUTSTANDING and personal stories that can be done with Batman, Spider-Man, X-Men, but, indie comics it feels like the stakes are higher because the characters are beholden to their creators and not a corporation. It's not the same reading Aquaman losing his hand and getting it replaced by a harpoon than reading Rick Grimes losing his hand in The Walking Dead. With one it's like "well, that happened, cool. Status quo will return later on, but that was something cool." With the other, it's "HOLY S*****!!!!!!???!??!?!?! WHAT THE &^&%**()!!!?!?!? HE JUST LOST HIS HAND IN THE ^*&@*))@&*#^#*^ MIDDLE OF THE ^(@^(@&(@& MIDDLE OF A !&(@^*@^(*@^ ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE!!!!!"
Over the years I've still maintained a healthy dose of indie and mainstream comics reading, because as a creative myself, I draw inspiration and good things from both. I always found it to be short sighted to be a mainstream or an indie zombie. Sometimes to grow and expand your mind, you have to take in both worlds and that way you can build your own.
Also, mainstream comics help give birth to great indie creators and titles, and can take indie creators and elevate them to a new audience. Humberto Ramos is a great example.
Going from DC, Marvel, then one of the most influential comics on a personal level to me, Crimson. Crimson, along with Joe Quesada's Ash, simply formed and shaped my own creations like The Mighty Warlord. Humberto Ramos is in a status right now that he's considered a legendary Spider-Man artist, but can also do the smaller, creator owned comics and be successful as well. And they have fun with it.
And I think in the end, that's what's important to me. To just have fun and be lost in these 20-22 pages worlds for a little bit, and then go on to create my own, and if I can have fun doing that, too, then I know I am creatively fortunate.
With the launch of Truthful Comics latest title the indie publishing world has a potential powerhouse in it's hands. Backed with witty writing and gorgeous artwork, Project: New Wave has what any comic book needs to succeed; but will it be enough? In this exclusive interview we go inside the mind of the true mastermind behind Truthful Comics' Project: New Wave, "Mr. Truthful Comics" himself; Manuel A. Carmona. See what goes on behind the scenes, how he sees the industry, where he sees Truthful Comics in the next ten years and so much more.
So Manuel, when exactly did you came up with the idea for Project: New Wave?
I've been working on this project since the 90's but I finally was able to put my ideas together after joining forces with my brother Alvaro Cortez Ortiz Jr. He's really been a major force behind the development of this project.
Alvaro will be the the main writer on your book from issue...?
He'll be the writer starting on issue #2 and he's already written a one-shot that I've worked on and we intend to fully develop as a graphic novel.
Why did you decide to let Alvaro write your comic?
Simple, he’s a genius when it comes to writing and I’m not. LOL! No in all seriousness, ideas come easy for me and I can elaborate a story with little difficulty, but turning ideas into a full script is damn near impossible for me. My strength is the art so I’ll stick to the art and let the master do his thing. Quick story, when I first posted some Project: New Wave artwork on a forum Alvaro and I used to be a part of way back when, he immediately gravitated towards the characters so... I approached him about needing help with the writing and being who he is; he immediately agreed to give me a hand. He then proceeded to sent me a full script… all I need to say is I cried tears of joy that day. The rest as they say is history.
Cool! And what's the premise behind Project: New Wave?
Project: New Wave is based on a team of orphans who are put together as a military sanctioned team created for the sole purpose of dealing with threats too big even for the NAVY SEALS or the ARMY Rangers. As the story continues you'll soon realize there's a far more sinister plot running in the background hidden from the World, and even from our young heroes themselves and once they eventually find out; all hell is going to break loose. I hope the readers enjoy the ride as much as we are creating it.
Is Project: New Wave going to be a long running series or a mini-series?
To be honest I think I’ll be putting them out as long as I can draw, eventually I’ll do an issue or two a year so I can squeeze other side projects as well. I have so many stories I’d like to tell, and time waits for no one. So far I’ve drawn the first five issues and I’m currently inking the 3rd issue of Project: New Wave so there’s gonna be Project: New Wave coming your way very soon.
Why not? Don’t get me wrong, it must be nice to have a huge corporation pushing your book but the way I see it, self publishing grants you full control of your creations and let's be honest; nobody cares about your project as much as you do anyway.
How do you separate yourself from the thousands who self publish their books every year?
That’s a good question. It’s tough, especially since I’m a bit shy approaching people; I don’t know exactly how conventions are going to work out for me. I do plan on always giving fans a bit extra when they decide to spend their hard earned cash on my books. With each comic book I put out, I’ll be creating new extra content to go along with it, be it information on how I created the characters, character sketches, stickers, interviews just like this one, a personalized letter to the fans; something to show fans I really do care about them putting their trust in me and giving me their money.
Is Project: New Wave set in it’s own Universe or does every Truthful Comics book share the same Universe kinda like Marvel Comics or DC Comics?
When Corey, Alvaro and I created our own comics we didn’t know each other so we all have our own Universe BUT after discussing this topic with them we decided that yes; they all live on the same “Planet Earth” in present day and will indeed cross paths with each other eventually... some sooner than others. ;)
So where can fans get their very own copy of Project: New Wave?
At first, I was trying to get Project: New Wave in as many comic shops as I could but then I realized that what I’m really looking for is a true connection with the audience; and for them to be become true fans. I want to meet them in person, I want them to see who I am face to face and make a connection; there’s something about a face to face that buying online will never replace; you can't replace human interaction. I want to hand them their comic book sign it for them, talk with them, look them in the eye and thank them personally; I choose that over mass distribution.
I like the way you put it. So what’s in store for our brave heroes? What can we expect from the
Project: New Wave crew?
I can guarantee you one thing, you’ll see growth in these characters, you’ll see them evolving and growing as normal human beings would. I see the story ending one day, they aren’t immortal; all good things must come to an end… just not yet. But I want the fans who give them a chance to get familiar with them and see what makes them tick, to know how they’d react in a specific situation; I want people to love these characters like I do!
To Be Continued...
**Stay tuned for PT.2 of this interview coming in August
The Rocbottom Studios production company is official.
Years in the making, Rocbottom Studios has finally expanded beyond the realm of comics. The studio will now add animation and live action shows to the list.
The first being Jet Boy, which a special announcement will be made on its status in August. The next is the Shadowclub Karma Animated Series, based on the comic property of the same name, as well as an animated feature film featuring the characters. Two live-action series are also being developed based on both properties.
The company will continue to develop comics. Two new projects, Bloodbank Inc. And the Jet Boy spin-off, Babcock, will go to print late this year. They will be available in stores and for online order on the studio website.
Stay up to date with all the latest news on Rocbottom Studios at www.rocbottomstudios.com, relaunching today!
Continuing on last week's notes, where we spoke with Truthful Comics cofounder Manuel Carmona, this week we speak with the other cofounder of TC, Alvaro Cortes Jr, aka "Lance Danger".
Lance Danger helms Prospecto Arts, a "studio" he's created since junior high school along with childhood friends. He has various titles under the Prospecto Asrts banner within Truthful Comics, but today we'll focus on his flagship title, Fred Peterson: The Mighty Warlord, the longest running Puerto Rican super hero comic and as far as anyone call tell, the second longest running PR comic ever (just behind legendary Turey El Taino).
1. How did the idea for Fred Peterson: The Mighty Warlord came about?
It came about because of my love of super hero comics. Specifically the "every man" style of super heroes.
The biggest inspirations for Warlord was pretty much the "teen books" of the 90s done by DC Comics, specifically The Ray and Robin (Tim Drake version).
And to a lesser extent, Flash (Wally West), Green Lantern (Kyle Raynor), Nightwing, The Fly (Impact Comics/DC Comics) and Spider-Man.
Originally the world of TMW was set in a fictional city called Cult City, and was like that since his conception when I was in Junior High School.
But after watching the special features of the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man movie on DVD, I was inspired to move the story to Puerto Rico instead, where I was living in at that time.
2. Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person influenced TMW characters?
It's pretty much a tie, really.
Joe Quesada inspired me to draw. From the first time I saw his artwork on The Ray mini series in the 90s, I knew I wanted, I NEEDED to draw comics. His art was unlike anything I had seen at the time. His art eventually introduced me to Mike Mignola and Alphonse Muccha. After The Ray he was on hit title after hit title, Batman: Sword of Azrael, designing "AzBats" for the Knightfall/KnightsQuest/KnightsEnd stories, X-Factor, and Ninjak.
Then he co-creates Event Comics and starts cowriting Ash and that eventually led to the most influential comics in my life, his runs on Daredevil.
his art style is the most predominant in my art and character designs, I always look to his Daredevil and Art of Marvel art book for inspiration.
And to echo my partner in crime, Manuel, Todd McFarlane also is a HUGE influence. When I fist started taking Warlord from "just a character" I created, and realized that I was falling in love with the character and the small world that was starting to form around him, I wanted to become the Puerto Rican Todd McFarlane.
Aside from his spectacular artwork, which I discovered through Spawn at the time, reading his interviews, I saw a new light to creating. Aside form being a great artist and creator, he was a very smart businessman.
I tried to stylize the comic design after Spawn and wanted to model my website after his website and pretty much somehow follow his business model.
To this day I admire his business sense. He made mistakes along the way that cost him, but, he kept at it and came out even stronger than before I believe, so that makes me admire him even more. He's on the verge of breaking the indie comics record in a few months, shattering Cerebus long reign at 300 issues. And I'm not too far in chasing PR's longest running comic, Turey El Taino which had 36 issues, and I'm wrapping up chapter 25 soon.
In terms of writing, Christopher Priest is my all time favorite writer. His run on The Ray, the ongoing series version of the 90s, pretty much modeled my writing style.
If Joe Quesada was the artist that made me need to draw comics, Christopher Priest was the writer that made me need to be a writer. Me made heroes more relatable to an extent I had not read at that time.
My current favorite writer that I feel has been influencing me also is Scott Snyder. His Detective Comics run that was collected into the trade The Black Mirror is my all time favorite Batman story. And his epic run on Batman with Greg Capullo is now my favorite Batman run ever.
3. What tools do you use to create and what makes them the “right tools” for you?
I use anything I can get my hands on, I love to experiment. My go to is Maxon manga paper for webcomics. With mechanical pencils for the layouts and a combination of micron pens, brush pens, and Manga Studio for inking and toning. I color with Photoshop CS2.
For sketching I have a lot of sketch books, pens, art pencils, markers, prismacolor color pencils, Touch markers, crayons, Chinese markers. I have an associates degree in fine arts, so I really like to get my hands dirty with just about any medium I can use. Lately I've been doing more fully digital work after starting my Cartooning degree at SVA.
Using various tools is right for me because I like to keep challenging myself as an artist, I like to get out of my comfort zone, so when I feel I'm getting too comfortable with one way of doing things, I try to change it up to keep challenging myself, and more importantly, to keep things fun and keep myself from burning out.
4. What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?
Making something out of a blank sheet of paper or a blank screen. Making something that putting out on the internet, now means that I can put something out there that, for better or worse, is going to be floating out there forever and eventually outlive me. It's my anchor. I get the personal satisfaction that will all the things that has happened, that's happening, and what will happen, I have this little comic that has stuck with me for half my life now pretty much.
It's that intangible element of feeling I left something behind that makes me feel good about this comic.
5. What has been the most rewarding thing about TMW?
It has opened many doors to collaborate with other great people. Through TMW I met Manuel, eventually Corey, the third pillar of TC.
I've written for other indie studios because of my work on TMW. I've also helped inspire other creators to do their own thing, and at the end of the day, that's what's most rewarding to me. To help inspire others to create their own thing. Whether it was "wow, that's kind of cool, I want to do something like that", or "man, that sucks, I can do WAY better", I want to inspire and motivate people the same way I was inspired by my favorite creators.
6. What is your elevator pitch for TMW?
TMW is about a regular college kid that discovers that he's a hero, and he really doesn't want to be. It turns his life upside down and he starts to grow up not just as a person but as a person that's maturing into adulthood and all the problems, victories, and losses that comes with growing up and on op of that being a time displaced hero destined to save the world.
To answer this question first I need to talk about how I discovered indie comics in the first place. I've always been a superhero fan, be it on TV, movies, action figures, you name it; indie comics weren't even on my radar. Even when I bought my first comic books, I bought Batman, Wolverine and a few other mainstream books. Fast forward to 1992 and a comic book is published and promises to change superhero comics forever, that comic was Spawn! That was my introduction to an indie comic book... and what a ride it was. I collected the series from issue #1 - #100 and a few year later found issues #101 - #200; now I have to find issues #201 - #300. I fell off and I've never gotten back on the train but I feel it's about time to jump in.
After Spawn came Sam Keith's The Maxx, Dale Keown's Pitt, Eric Larsen's Savage Dragon, Rob Liefeld's Youngblood and Supreme, Jim Lee's Wildcats... yeah, I was very much an Image Comics fanboy! Then came the "second coming" of Image Comics... Cliffhanger! Three of the hottest artists in the comic book industry joined forces to create magic as they say. J. Scott Campbell's Danger Girl, Huberto Ramos' Crimson and Joe Madureira's Battle Chasers were completely different in theme, settings and styles yet they had one thing in common; they were the creme of the crop of the comic book world at the time. These kids came out the gate guns blazon' and took the comic book world by storm! Each property could've been made into a blockbuster movie or tv series, they're THAT good. I for one purchased each and every one of those books and even today, all those years later; I still read them at leafs once a year. Even now, I still haven't found many series that compare to these ones in quality and readability; those series are timeless in my humble opinion. If you haven't read them don't hesitate, go to your nearest local comics shop and purchase a TPB of any one of those series; you won't regret it.
After Cliffhanger came one of my all time favorite comic book series, Marc Silvestri's The Darkness! Still can't believe that comic book series hasn't been made into a movie. Then came Silvestri's Witchblade, Michael Turner's Fathom, Jason Pearson's Body Bags, Greg Capullo's The Creech and so many more. My point is the more I bought comics the more I bought Image and the less I bought the "Big 2" (I did follow Wolverine for quite a bit and became a super fan of the Kubert brothers, but that's a topic for another day).
Now to the original question, why do I read indie comics? I read indie comics for many reasons, for example indie comics for the most part focus on the story and characters rather than gimmicks and "events" that lead nowhere except an empty bank account. Another reason is that indie creators that work on their own project work as hard as they humanly can to put out their best, in part because they're representing themselves when they go to a convention; not a corporation. And last but definitely not least, when you buy an indie comic book you're buying into the vision of the creator rather than a marketing team who keep putting out regurgitated ideas and masking them as ALL NEW. When you buy an indie comic book you're supporting someone who's put their everything into this book, someone who's probably in financial debt right now because they used every penny they had to print their books; that alone makes me want to buy a book from indie creators... if the book turns out to be great that's a bonus!
Comics nowadays have become (for the most part) nothing more than useless reboots, gimmicks and pointless events that not only diminish these characters we love so much, but also clutter the market with fluff; making it even harder for indie creators to get noticed by the casual fan. Now granted, publishers do this type of thing because fanboys keep buying but I have hope because more and more I see readers moving away from the "big 2" and into a much larger world of indie comics, I hope this trend continues.
Ok so here's something we think (hope) you'll enjoy, we're going to be doing these type of interviews/rapid fire questions to our crew and post them on the site. We're gonna let you in on who they are, what they think about many topics related and unrelated to comics and you'll et an idea of how their brain operates.
You'll get to know what art supplies they can't live without, what books they read, what sports they follow and the most important question of all... Star Wars or Star Trek! This will be our first installment and Manuel A. Carmona has volunteered to be our guinea pig! :) Let's begin shall we?
How did the idea for NW came about?
The idea came about mostly out of my love for comicbook teams such as the X-Men and Teen Titans. Me wanting to draw Comics when I was clearly not ready for the big leagues gave me time to develop these characters and fall in love with them to the point I feel I know them in real life.
Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career and how has that person influenced Project: New Wave?
Without a shadow of a doubt that person was Todd Mcfarlane. I discovered comics right at the time Image Comics was starting and Spawn caught my attention immediately, then I began reading it (and loved it!) and learning everything I could about Todd; the more I knew about his story and his modem operandi the more I gravitated towards him. Never had the chance to meet him but it's definitely on my bucket list. I also have to give respect to the Kubert family, even more so after I attended their school in Dover, New Jersey. As a student of art I can see subtle changes in their style (Adam and Andy), techniques and tricks they use to work out a problem on the page, their mastery of so many art mediums; true masters of their craft. Their dad Joe Kubert was a legend in the field, an absolute genius storyteller and an inspiration to anyone who wants to make a career out of art. That man doesn't get the respect and/or recognition he deserves. And last but most definitely not least is "The King". Just his imagination, his wok ethic, his humility; he became my comic book idol. Long Live The King.
What tools do you use to create Project: New Wave and what makes them the “right tools”
I learned from Jack "King" Kirby that an artist doesn't need expensive tools to create great art, a great artist can use regular tools and supplies to create a masterpiece; so I took that to heart. With that said I usually buy Strathmore Bristol 11" x 17" 100lb. paper to draw my pages and I use a drafting graphite holder (mechanical pencil) and an eraser that won't smudge, usually those white rectangular ones Strathmore makes. To ink I used to only use MICRON Technical Pens but I recently discovered these Faber Castle markers set and they do the trick. Much cheaper than MICRON pens and work just as good. To color I usually use those cheap acrylic paints you buy at Walmart for like $1.50 EA and use them sort of like watercolor. I like the effect they give, the texture feels great to me. I bought a full set of COPIC Markers and I have to say honestly they were a disappointment. Yes they blend nicely but they drip sometimes ruining your piece and for the price of 5-6 of them I can buy 15-20 acrylic paints and look even better than just paining the piece with markers. So, it's all up to the artist.
To all you young artists who might be reading this interview I have one bit of advice to give you, don't get down on yourself because you can't afford a set of COPICS or a CINTIQ tablet, use the materials you can afford and become a master at using them. Visit MICHAEL'S and get yourself a set of Artist's Loft markers, they're like a knock off version of COPICS and they'll do the trick, or get yourself a Faber Castle set of markers and go nuts. Heck, buy yourself a box of regular ballpoint pens and master them, make ballpoint pen masterpieces. There's an artist Im a fan of, his name is Frank Cho and he just put out a book in which he draws women in ball-point pens; his work is absolutely breathtaking!
What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?
The reaction in people's face when they flip through my book. As an artist I always dread the part of going to conventions and putting myself out there, I never think I'm good enough; so it's nerve-wracking to sit there and see people coming over and start flipping through my portfolio or my books.
What has been the most rewarding thing about Project: New Wave?
Showing my boys what you can do if you put your mind into it, putting all those ideas I've had for so long into paper and seeing the final product delivered at my front door; it's an amazing feeling.
What is your elevator pitch for Project: New Wave?
Imaging being a superhuman teenager with damn near unlimited powers, being raised by the Armed Forces because your parents died tragically when you were a child and then finding out the people who raised you and trained you all your life were responsible for your parents death. How do you proceed? Do you live with it and be a patriot to our Country or take your revenge and become a traitor to the Nation?
Well, convention season is upon us and of course Truthful Comics is being represented to the fullest at various comics conventions throughout the East Coast. This month we have Plastic City Comic Con and in August we'll be attending Buy Indie Comics Day in Norfolk, Virginia and Soda City Comic Con in South Carolina just to name a few.
Manuel A. Carmona will be premiering Project: New Wave #1 at Plastic City Comic Con along with a few freebies that'll enhance the fan experience, bringing you a step closer into this universe we're creating. That's gonna be something the guys will be doing at every convention and with every new book that comes out, we'll be producing new bonus material to bring the fans closer to the characters, to experience these stories in a more inclusive way. We don't want to give away too much because we want it to be a nice surprise but it'll be a little something extra for the fans as a token of our appreciation.
Stay tuned for more announcements! #truthfulcomics