Monday, July 20, 2015

August 19th, The New MOTHER's Day

I mean, technically it's still the first Sunday in May, BUT this August 19th is just as much cause for celebration because my new book is going to be hitting shelves. It's called The MOTHER Principle and it's been one of the coolest projects I've been involved in over the past few years. And I know I tend to get really excited about every project I do (with just cause), but this one in particular is something special for a lot of reasons.

It's the first volume in a series. For those of you who have been keeping count, this is actually my first ongoing series. Up until this point I've been doing stand alone graphic novels and one-shots. So the idea of getting to really dive into these characters and build the world they live in is going to be so much fun.

It's my first writing collaboration. As a comic writer with no artistic talents, everything I do is a collaboration, sometimes with just one artist, sometimes with an entire team, but this is the first time ever I've gotten to work with another writer on a project and it's been great seeing the amazing ideas they have, getting to bounce potential plot points off each other, working with someone whose writing style is SO drastically different from mine. The whole process has actually made me grow a lot as a writer.

Who I'm co-writing the book with. Truth be told, I can't take much credit for the series. It was all the brainchild of my wonderful co-writer - S. Atzeni. She came to the table with this great concept and these amazing characters and I was just lucky to help her shape into a graphic novel. S. Atzeni is an amazing writer whose work I've respected for a long time. Ever since I got to hear her doing a reading of one of her short stories when she was a grad student. She also incredibly intelligent and well read. Along with being a writer, she's also a professor at my old college where she teaches a couple incredibly popular courses examining comic's place in literature and popular culture. And she's my wife, but that doesn't sway my professional opinions of her at all. Those were already well established before we even started dating. But still, it made the whole collaborative process all the more enjoyable getting to work with someone I'm already so fond of.

The Artwork. I consider myself incredibly lucky in this respect. Of all the books I've ever done, I've never felt as though I had to settle for whatever artist was available. I feel as though I've always managed to get just the right person for every project. And in this case, that couldn't be any more true. Alicia Padron, the artist who did the pencils, inks, and color for The MOTHER Principle is just out of college when we tapped her to work on the book. It was her first major comic project, but she got over that learning curve faster than anyone I've ever seen. And she brought with her a sort of energy that flies off the page and pulls you into the story like you wouldn't believe.

The Story...Working with S. Atzeni, the writing is incredibly smart and fun. There's gore and violence and some pretty intense stuff. I won't say too much (as to not give it away), but this first volume really hits the ground running and sets up a ton of stuff that is going to be so cool to explore.

The response so far. Usually all I can do when a new book's coming out is post the occasional teaser or Work In Progress photo, but this time around, our publisher gave us approval to start The MOTHER Principle off as a webcomic to let people preview the beginning of the book. We ended up posting about 30 pages, and it's been so cool seeing how much people have enjoyed it so far. S. Atzeni has even run into fans in the bathroom at last year's New York Comic Con telling her how much they enjoy the series. And knowing people are that excited about the book before it's even come out just makes me look forward to the release even more. And the preview is still available for those who want to read it.

The Publisher. Once again I get to work with Read Furiously. They were the ones who published my digital works Helium and What About Tuesday. And this time around they've made arrangements so that The MOTHER Principle will actually be available to bookstores all over the world. So all those people in the past who have missed out because they don't have local comic shops can now just stop by their local bookstore, Barnes & Noble, or even order it online from Amazon to get a copy of The MOTHER Principle!

I could keep going, but I'll scale it back for now. But just remember, the first volume of The MOTHER Principle is hitting shelves August 19th, and you don't want to miss it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Sound of Helium (Kinda possible spoilers)

So a few weeks ago I got to announce that my new book Helium has been published by Read Furiously.

Now like always, one of the first things I do when starting a project is try to put together a couple songs that help set the tone for the story I want to tell. Usually, it's a pretty predictable mix of titles I'm listening to at the time, but as I started laying out the tracks for Helium I ended up kind of surprising myself.

The first song that ended up on the list was We Found Love by Rihanna. It didn't even stay on the list that long, since I didn't think it would have that much of an impact on the story as a whole. Rihana's an artist I don't listen to that often, more of an occasional guilty pleasure. But there was something about this song that kinda hit me. The way the chorus repeats itself over that driving club beat - "We found love in a hopeless place" over and over again, the way you can't really tell if it's a good thing or a bad thing.  In a way, that line ended up setting the tone for the world where Helium would take place. It's the kind of pop music I've always secretly been a fan of - the subversively depressing, "dance to the beat of your broken heart" appeal that when done right works really well.

Once I started actually writing Helium though, I lost interest in Rihanna. Instead I ended up going back and forth between two different songs. Four Night Rider by The Alberta Rural Advantage and Arron the Afterthought Astronaut by Fishboy.



In fact, I must have had these two songs on repeat through most of the first two drafts of the script. For obvious reasons they both embody the kind of "let's throw caution to the wind and take this crazy risk to be together" sentiment that Helium revolves around. But more than that, there's something carefree, almost single minded about them. They don't consider any consequence or complications, and that was really the mindset I wanted the two main characters to have. At the beginning of the story, they're very much young and stupid and empowered by the sense of invulnerably that only comes with youth.

Of course even in a fictional story, that kind of blind optimism can't last long. Reality eventually has to catch up to our protagonists. That's when songs like Broken Ships by the Immaculate Machines and As it Seems by Lily Kershaw snuck onto the playlist.
 


These are the songs where reality set in, the ones where our protagonists suddenly realize the gravity of the situation, that it isn't always as simple as just wanting it. These are the songs about the uncertainty, insecurity, and doubt that comes with realizing you may suddenly be in way over your head. Even if the optimism is still there, it's a much more somber one, no longer oblivious to the world around it.

But those aren't the last songs that made it onto the playlist either, because that isn't where the story stopped. And while it may be a little spoil-y, the final song ended up being the same indie battle cry the Mountain Goats gave us that followed me through my college years, my early twenties, and I'll probably be referencing when my grandchildren finally decide to check me into a home cause can't deal with my antics anymore.


The sense of optimism that falters and finds the confidence to stand on its own.

So that's about it, the music of Helium. Hope you like it.

For anyone interested in checking it out, Helium now available on pretty much every digital platform you can name. And while I'm not one for playing favorites when it comes to your e-reader of choice, I do want to mention that Barnes and Noble is offering a special deal from now till March 30th. New users who download the Nook app get a $5.00 credit on their account. And since Helium is just $1.99, you can get it for free and still have money left over.

 Just throwing that out there.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Breathing in Helium

Well, we're only a month into 2015, and my first book of the year has just been released. It's one I'm really excited about too.

Helium is a comic one-shot I did with Jeff Chin (who you may remember from the book we did together, In the Fallout), and it's published by Read Furiously.

It's a story about the chemical properties of Helium, but also it's the story of a young couple trying to make a long distance relationship work from opposite sides of a planet that's pretty much hell bent on blowing itself up. Surprisingly, the two have a lot more in common than you'd think.

And despite the science-fictiony/science-nonfictiony backdrop, this is actually one of the more personal stories I've written.

See, for the first year and a half me and my wife dated we were long distance. We were both poor college graduates, working full time jobs to support ourselves, and trying to figure out what we were doing with our lives (in my wife's case she was also in grad school to get her Master's degree). We only got to see each other on weekends when I'd drive down Friday after work so we could spend the next two days trying to cram in as much time together as possible.

Now despite that, I know we had it pretty good for a long distance relationship, and some couples don't have the luxury of getting to spend weekends together like we did. So looking back on it, I'm able to romanticize some aspects of it because everything worked out for us.

In reality though, things weren't always easy. As great as those two days together always were, they just made you miss the person even more for the other five days you spent apart. And sometimes making the right decision within the little bubble you exist in for those two days, only makes things in the real world harder.

So while I may have set Helium as far from reality as possible, there's a lot that's still grounded in those early days of our relationship. And all of it is really just a way to remind myself how lucky I am that my wife and I ended up where we did.

Anyway, enough of my ramblings. Next time I'll share the soundtrack I put together for Helium so you can see some of the musical influences in the book.

Till then, hope you guys enjoy Helium.