Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009: The Year In Review

Well, it's been a busy year, and as you can probably tell from my intermittent posting over the last few months, it hasn't let up much as we head into the final days of 2009.

This was my first full year doing nothing but comics since leaving L.A. almost a decade ago. After years of struggling to make ends meet at the start of my career as a comic book artist (which I'm shocked to say began way back in 1993), I've always insisted on keeping a side job to help make up for the empty spots in my art schedule. But this year, I had too much comic book work to manage even a part-time job at the bookstores where I've been working off and on for the last four of five years.

I started the year finishing up the MIRROR'S EDGE mini-series with Rhianna Pratchett for WildStorm (which just came out in trade paperback form). In the midst of the final issues, it was time for another visit to the Borderlands Press Writing Boot Camp, where I previewed the first few chapters of the FADE novel I've been working on.

Not long after wrapping up MIRROR'S EDGE, I was bowled over with the offer to draw four issues of IDW's new DOCTOR WHO ongoing series. Everyone who has read this blog knows how big a deal that was for me, and I leapt at the chance to work with one of my favorite characters. Just got the last issue of my story arc in the mail actually, and I'm still insanely proud of the work we put into it. A truly great script from Tony Lee, and some stunning colors from Charlie Kirchoff, not to mention the masterful editorial prodding for pages by Denton Tipton at IDW.

Almost immediately after DOCTOR WHO, I started developing projects for a couple of my favorite editors, including a few things that I might be writing as well as drawing. Still can't talk about any of those yet, but as soon as I can, I'll post all the news here.

Within a month, I was back at WildStorm to draw an issue of an entirely different secret project, which I've finally finished this week.

And yes, I'm already at work on the next project, and yes, it's a secret.

On the public appearance side of things, I was able to go to both of the Albany Comic-Cons held this year, including the last one, which featured a special WITCHBLADE convention cover variant that finally allowed me to say that I've worked for every major American comic book company. And I made what's become an annual trip to NECON over the summer, where I got to hang out with my writing friends Dan Waters, Tom Monteleone, F. Paul Wilson, and Doug Clegg, among others. Not to mention my old friend Ellen Williams, who for reasons I will never reveal is now known as the Christmas Ninja. Don't ask.

Somewhere in all of this I found time to keep working on the FADE manuscript, write some short stories, and develop a few ideas of my own for my long-delayed Pilot Season project, which I'll be returning to at the start of January.

So that's the year that was, as it were. Not sure what 2010 will hold, but I have a feeling it will include a handful of secret projects, finishing the FADE novel, and a lot of hours at the drawing board.

I hope you all had a good year, and I hope next year will be even better.

(And on a personal note, I got engaged this year, as well. Just saying. Kind of a good year for me.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Upcoming Project News (Sort Of)

Been a busy month or so here in the studio. Between wrapping up my run on IDW's DOCTOR WHO Ongoing series, knocking out some last minute audition pieces, and working on the Evan Fade novel, I haven't had a lot of time to post updates on my upcoming projects. To make matters worse, they're all top secret projects that I have to keep under wraps until deals are signed, approvals are granted, and announcements are made by the various companies involved.

All I can say at this point is that I'm in the middle of drawing something for one company, gearing up to possibly write and draw something for another, and developing another project that I would write for that company with someone else attached to draw. That last one is a particular dream of mine, since it would mean working with an artist I've always wanted to write a story for.

Incredibly specific, I know.

As soon as things become public, I'll make announcements here on the blog. Hopefully I'll be able to post some preview art from the projects, as well.

On Shelves Now: DOCTOR WHO #5

My third issue of IDW Publishing's DOCTOR WHO ongoing series (issue #5) hits shelves today, with a great Paul Grist cover (above), as well as my own variant cover. Here's the blurb from the IDW website:


In Part 3 of the four-part “Fugitive” story arc, the Doctor has been trapped on an alien world with his old enemies now his allies—and his old allies now trying to kill him! He has only one chance to save his life... and possibly an entire galaxy!

Tony Lee (w) • Matthew Dow Smith (a) • Paul Grist, Smith (c)

Price: $3.99

Friday, October 23, 2009

DOCTOR WHO #3 Original Art

I just uploaded all of the available original art from my first issue of IDW's Doctor Who ongoing series to my 'art for sale' blog.

Albany Comic-Con 2009

I'll be appearing at the upcoming Albany Comic-Con on November 1st, along with a lot of great writers and artists, including my old friend Ron Marz. If you're going to be in the area, stop on by. They'll also have the special WITCHBLADE #131 with the Albany Comic-Con variant cover I did for sale at the show.

And while I don't do sketches at shows, I'm always happy to do a quick sketch at home and bring it to the convention for you. I'll also have original art from some of my recent projects for sale.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Journey's End: Doctor Who Ongoing #6

Well, the blog post title might be a little melodramatic, but I did wrap up the last issue of my Doctor Who Ongoing story-arc -- FUGITIVE -- this weekend.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I've been a Doctor Who fan since I was a little kid, so this was a dream come true for me, and I couldn't be more excited to have had a chance to work with the character.

A big thank you to Chris Ryall and Denton Tipton at IDW Publishing, and to Tony Lee and Charlie Kirchoff, for making it all possible.

The last bit of art for the project was a cover for issue 6. That's a little sneak preview of it over to the left.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Here's a quick sneak peek at a variant cover I did for Top Cow's WITCHBLADE comic, written by my long-time friend Ron Marz. It's one of their convention variant covers, this time for the upcoming Albany Comic-Con.

Charlie Kirchoff, who's been doing an amazing job on my pages for the DOCTOR WHO ongoing story arc I'm currently working on, stepped in to do the colors for this.

Can't show you the whole thing. You're just gonna' have to go to the show and pick one up for yourself.

And on a personal note, this is my first piece for Top Cow, which means I have now worked for every major American comic book publisher.

Just saying. Kind of a milestone for me.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Work In Progress: DOCTOR WHO #5 Cover inks

And here's a look at my penciled and inked variant cover for DOCTOR WHO #5. It won't be truly finished until Charlie Kirchoff does his coloring magic with it, which I'll try and post once I see it. I really like what Charlie's been doing with the colors on the book and the reviews for our first issue (#3) have been pretty positive so far -- which I chalk up to Tony Lee's excellent script and Charlie's great coloring -- so hopefully we'll get a chance to do another arc at some point.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Work In Progress: Doctor Who #5 cover design

Here's a sneak peak at the thumbnail design of my cover for Doctor Who #5. The amazing Paul Grist is doing the main covers for all the issues of my story arc, but IDW asked me to do a variant cover for each of them. The hard part is coming up with something that can compete with Paul's covers. Haven't even gotten close yet, but I keep trying.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

On Shelves Now: DOCTOR WHO #3

The first issue of my story arc in the new DOCTOR WHO Ongoing series hits shelves today, with a script by Tony Lee, art by myself, and colors by Charlie Kirchoff. I did a variant cover (see above), and the regular cover is by one of my artistic heroes, Mr. Paul Grist.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

On The Nightstand

by David Morrell

Several years ago, when I first started thinking seriously about learning how to write prose, I tried out for the first of Borderland Press' writing boot camps. At the time, F. Paul Wilson and I were pitching projects to do together (which ended up being his adaptation of THE KEEP for IDW) and I was visiting his website on a fairly regular basis. While digging around in his always entertaining forum, I happened to come across an upcoming appearance thread where FPW mentioned he'd be teaching at a writing workshop, and if anyone wanted to attend, they could try out.

With no idea what I was in for, I wrote the first 30 pages or so of a horror novel that had been kicking around in my head for a while (the first prose I'd ever really written), and sent it off. As anyone who's read this blog before knows, I got in, had an amazing time, met my best friend, and have gone back several more times to learn everything I can about this strange beast called 'writing prose'.

But to be honest, I went that first time to learn everything I could about writing from Paul. He was (and still is) one of my writing heroes, and I thought if I could learn how he did it, then maybe I could do it, too. I'd heard of the other instructors -- Tom Monteleone, Richard Chizmar, and David Morrell -- but I was nowhere near as familiar with their work as I was with FPW's. I was in for a surprise. Not only would I meet Tom -- who has become a kind of writing father figure to me (at least in my head) -- but I also got to hear what David Morrell had to say about writing.

I was more than familiar with David's famous creation, John Rambo (or at least the cultural icon Rambo became once he escaped from the printed page on to the movie screen), but knew nothing about the author or the rest of his work. But on the first night of boot camp, he gave a lecture (which started out with the deceptive question, "Why do want to be a writer?") that knocked my socks off. Much of what he has to say on the subject can be found in his excellent book, LESSONS FROM A LIFETIME OF WRITING. It's one of the few truly useful books on writing that I always recommend, and do so once more. If you want to be writer, go read it. Now.

After the dust settled and I was back home, I went out out and bought as many of David's books as I could find (and quite a few of Tom's, as well). I liked those enough that I've taken to buying his new books as soon as they come out in hardcover. Which brings me to his latest, THE SHIMMER.

As everyone who follows my blog knows, I've been buried under work recently, racing against the clock to get out various issues of the DOCTOR WHO ongoing, and wishing I had more time to read. Still reading a lot. Just not as much as I'd like. But every once and a while, something happens and I either have to step away from the art table to give my brain a rest, or I'm stuck in a brownout or a thunderstorm with nothing to do but twiddle my thumbs, waiting for the lights in my office to come back. On Friday, when the lights dimmed and didn't go back up, I knew I was in for a long, frustrating afternoon.

So, I did what I always do, I grabbed the chance to catch up on some reading, pulled out THE SHIMMER and dove right in. By the time the lights were back, the book was finished, and my socks had been knocked off again.

I'd been expecting one of Morrell's typical thrillers (which aren't really all that typical, but I mean typical for him). Instead I got an interesting mix of genres held together by strong description, well-drawn characters, tight plotting, and his usual smooth prose. It's one part thriller, one part sci-fi mystery, with a dose of technothriller thrown in for good measure. But the best part is the ending. He made a choice about the ending of this book that fits so well with what I like in fiction, but if I told you what it was, and why I like it so much, it would probably ruin the whole story for you. Seriously, though... I loved how he handled the ending.

And again, to be honest, I probably would never have read this book if it hadn't been for that first Borderlands Boot Camp. If I'd come across this book in the store, I probably wouldn't have paid it much attention. At most, I'd have thought, 'hey, isn't that the guy who wrote FIRST BLOOD?' and moved on to something else.

I would have missed out.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

John Ostrander Green Lantern Sketch

At the upcoming Chicago Comic Con, there will be a special auction to help legendary comic book writer John Ostrander raise money to cover some medical bills. My friend and collaborator Ron Marz donated a hardcover Green Lantern collection and asked if I'd be willing to put a quick sketch inside to help out. As a lifelong fan of Ostrander's work on GRIMJACK and a hundred other titles, I was more than willing. Here's a quick peek at the sketch. I hope it helps raise some money for Mr. Ostrander.

(Photos courtesy of Mr. Ron Marz)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Various Bits of Business

A quick update on some of the things going on:

I'll be finishing my story arc on the new DOCTOR WHO ongoing series within the next few months (they have me drawing issues 3-6), and then I'm taking a few months off from the comic book work to finish the Fade novel. I'll blog a bit on that process later, but for those people who have been asking me how work goes on the Fade material, I thought I'd post that little update.

In the meantime, there are a few possible comic book projects floating around for me to work on after the Fade novel is finally finished. Hopefully I'll have some details in the next couple of months, but as soon as I hear anything, I'll announce it here.

I'll also continue work on the Pilot Season project shortly. Just had to get caught up on my DOCTOR WHO work. For those of you who have been following it, I've finally decided on the fourth project I'll be proposing, and it's going to throw a bit of a monkey wrench into the voting so far.

I'm also happy to announce that I'll be doing covers for all three of Whitley Strieber's Vampire Trilogy books that are being re-issued by the fabulous Borderlands Press. The first cover has been online for a little while now, but I encourage everyone to check it out at the Borderlands Press website.

And for anyone who might be interested, I'm also looking into attending this year's World Fantasy Convention in San Jose, CA from October 29th to November 1st. I don't go to a lot of conventions, since I never feel like I can afford the time away from the art table, but I greatly enjoyed the WFC they held here in Saratoga Springs, and I've been waiting for a chance to go to another one.

Now Playing

by Christopher Fowler

Of course as soon as I got back from NECON, I had to get right back to work on my next issue of DOCTOR WHO for IDW. Never an easy transition, especially after Douglas Clegg fills your head with new and interesting ideas to apply to the novel you're working on. The writer side of my brain and the artist side of my brain don't always play well with each other, so some times the switch over is a lot less smooth than I would like.

Luckily, I'd downloaded the audiobook of Chris Fowler's THE VICTORIA VANISHES to my computer to keep me company while I fight with the latest batch of pages. I've said before how much I like Fowler's Bryant & May books, and this one -- the latest out in the States -- is no exception. I'm halfway through now, and enjoying it as much as the earlier books in the series. I've really come to like Tim Goodman, who has been the reader on all the Bryant & May books so far. Usually I prefer the author to read his own work, but Goodman does an excellent job with the various characters, each with their own distinctive voice.

Hopefully they'll have the next book in the series, BRYANT & MAY ON THE LOOSE, online before long. I've really come to rely on listening to these books, along with countless Doctor Who audios, while I'm drawing.

On The Nightstand

by F. Paul Wilson

Still recovering from my trip to Rhode Island last weekend for the annual Northeastern Writer's Conference (more commonly known as NECON). It's three and a half days of hanging out with writers, artists, editors, and a small group of fans, and one of my favorite events to attend.

Every year, the organizers set aside one night for a mass author signing, where everyone can buy books from their favorite authors and get them signed. I usually come back with a huge stack of books, and this year was no exception. One of the highlights of this year's stash was the new paperback edition of F. Paul Wilson's THE TOUCH.

As everyone who reads this blog knows, I'm a huge fan of F. Paul Wilson. His novel THE KEEP more or less sent me down the path of being a Horror/Dark Fantasy reader (and eventually writer) long before I'd ever even heard of Stephen King and Peter Straub, and his Adversary Cycle books remain personal favorites of mine. THE TOUCH is the third book in the cycle (at least in publishing order... it's actually the fourth in chronological order... but I'm an Adversary Cycle nerd and have to point thngs like that out at every possible opportunity) and while I've read my original paperback copy many times, it's been awhile since I've gone back for yet another go.

I started in on it the same night as the mass author signing, and I've only put it down to work, eat, hang out with the family, and occasionally sleep. I'd almost forgotten just how good this novel is. An interesting mix of Medical Thriller and Supernatural Adventure. And as smooth as Paul's writing is, I'm not sure I've ever seen it smoother than in THE TOUCH. His paragraphs flow so naturally, and the dialogue is particularly sharp in this novel.

As soon as I finished THE TOUCH last night, I was sorely tempted to jump straight into the next book in the cycle, REBORN (well... the next book in the publishing order of the cycle), but REBORN is about to be re-issued in a brand new trade edition just like THE TOUCH, so I think I'm going to wait for the new edition since I'll be buying it anyway. Can't help myself. Nothing like a new slick cover on one of your favorite books. It's a sickness, but one I've learned to enjoy.

Still, I might not be able to wait until September for my next dose of Paul's writing, even if it is something I've read many times before. Maybe it's time for me to dig back into THE KEEP once again.

But all the other books I picked up last weekend are begging to be read, as well. Ah, the choices. The choices.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

From The Closet: How To Be a Post-Modern Cartoonist

As many of you now know, I've been working on four issues of the new Doctor Who ongoing series at IDW, which has kept me pretty buried for the last few weeks. Since I haven't had any time to finish and scan the next installment of my Pilot Season project, I thought I'd put up another of the pages I discovered while cleaning out the art in my closet.

As far as I know, this is my first published comic book work, at least the first work that was published without a photocopier. I drew it when I was still in college, 19 or 20 years old, and apparently incredibly cynical, maybe even more so than what I like to think of as my Dark Years (i.e. my time in L.A.). It was published in the college literary annual, the name of which completely escapes me, though I'm pretty sure I still have a copy of it somewhere.

A few years later, I would make my 'professional' debut in the pages of Caliber Comics' NEGATIVE BURN anthology, but I guess you could say this short piece is where I really got my start.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Project News: DOCTOR WHO

For those of you who have been wondering about the secret project I've been talking about for the last few months, I'm very excited to be able to finally tell you that I've been drawing a four-part story in IDW Publishing's new DOCTOR WHO ongoing series.

As anyone who knows me or has read any of my blog entries is surely aware, I'm a huge DOCTOR WHO fan, so the assignment is a real thrill for me. And as excited (and a little terrified) as I am to be working with one of my favorite characters, I'm equally excited by the script I've been given. Tony Lee, who wrote the excellent DOCTOR WHO: THE FORGOTTEN is handling all of the writing for the ongoing series, with rotating art teams coming in to draw each story. My story starts with issue 3, which is in this month's Previews, with a September release date.

And the best part? Paul Grist is providing the covers. I'm a big fan of Paul's work so it's a dream come true to work on a project with him doing the covers. I'll be doing a couple of variant covers for the run (the piece above is the variant cover for #3), but I'd rather have the Grist covers.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

On The Nightstand

by Brian Lumley

I'm on the last leg of this issue of my secret project (which I hope will be public knowledge soon), so I don't have a lot of time to read, but I've still managed to make it through the first two books in Brian Lumley's NECROSCOPE series.

I hadn't really heard of Lumley before I went to work at Borders, but I'd vaguely heard of the first book in the series, NECROSCOPE, probably because there were a couple of NECROSCOPE comic books in the early 90's, including one at the company where I started out -- Caliber Comics.

Truth be told, I probably wouldn't have read any of these books if I hadn't developed a serious interest in learning how to write prose around the same time I started at Borders. I'd always read a lot of Horror, so I was pretty sure that if I was going to write anything it would be in that genre, so I started educating myself by reading as many Horror novels as I could get my hands on.

I read a lot books by authors I'd always loved, studying how the constructed sentences, paying attention to the flow of their plotting and the various ways they kept the narrative moving forward. When I'd finished with those, I started in on many of the classics of the genre, like THE EXORCIST, THE STEPFORD WIVES, ROSEMARY'S BABY, and others. And when I'd read as many of those as I could, I started in on the authors my favorite writers were always talking about, which led me to guys like Richard Matheson, Richard Laymon, Fritz Leiber, and Brian Lumley.

I tried some of Lumley's Cthulhu Mythos stories first, which to be honest, was a bit of a mistake. It's good stuff -- well-written and evocative -- but the NECROSCOPE series is where Lumley really seems to shine. His blend of Vampires and British espionage is original and engaging, written with his usual flair, but tackling old subjects in a new and interesting way. I burned through all of the NECROSCOPE books at the time, skipping over the VAMPIRE WORLD novels (which I thought were going to be more Fantasy than Horror) and the two LOST YEARS novels (since I have a hard time when an author goes back to do a new story stuck in the middle of a long series you've already gotten to the end of).

But with the DARK TOWER books finally read and back on the shelves in my office, I'm now on a mission to read all of the NECROSCOPE books -- including the ones I skipped first time through -- from the start of the series to the end, and I'm pleased to discover that I still enjoy Lumley's writing as much as I did when I first picked them up.

I'm not as interested in the Horror genre as I was when I started figuring out how to write prose, but I learned a lot about writing from reading Lumley. He's a tight plotter, excellent with characterization, and very good at the old pulp rule of "if your hero is in trouble, throw more trouble at them whenever possible". It's an entertaining way to write, and a lot of fun to read, especially when the writer creates a sympathetic and complex main character like Harry Keogh.

And seriously, how can any book with an exclamation point in the title not be entertaining. Pure Pulp fun written by a real master of the craft.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Original Art Requests

I'm going to put another big batch of original art up on my for sale blog to help with my mission to clear out the stacks of art in my office, not to mention the always helpful extra money to help cover the time off I'm going to be taking to finish the Fade novel. Trying to decide whether I should upload the art from my issue of STORMWATCH:PHD, more art from SUPERNATURAL:ORIGINS, the first issue's worth of pages from MIRROR'S EDGE, or random leftover pages from the NIGHTCRAWLER mini-series I drew. Not too mention the various pages I have from other projects that have been gathering dust in my office. There's a lot of original art to chose from, but if there's anything you'd like to see go up, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Original Art Update

Buried under week this weekend, so I still haven't had time to pull together the JOHNNY CHAOS pitch for my Pilot Season project, but I'll jump on it as soon as the issue I'm currently working on is wrapped up. Gonna' be a long week, though. Lots to do before I can put this issue to bed.

In the meantime, I've put all of the art from SUPERNATURAL: ORIGINS #1 up for sale my original art blog. Still hoping to get this stack of art out of my office, but every time I turn around, I find more pages from various projects. I'll post a few of my discoveries after I'm done with this week's work.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pilot Season: JOHNNY CHAOS layout

I've been buried under deadlines all week, but I found a little time to work on the next concept for my Pilot Season project, JOHNNY CHAOS. After looking through the old CHAOS material from my closet, I decided to make a few major changes, including turning Johnny into a teenager as opposed to the slightly cynical twenty-something from this projects earlier incarnations. I also found myself shifting his origin around a bit, since I'd stolen some of my ideas for Johnny and incorporated them into the FADE novel.

Now that I've got all of that sorted, here's a look at my design for the presentation piece I'm working up to go along with the new proposal. Hopefully I can steal a little time this weekend to do the finished piece.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

On The Nightstand

by Stephen King

I remember when the first Dark Tower book came out, and I remember reading in the afterword that King wasn't sure he'd ever finish the entire story, and I remember thinking that he HAD to, and that I HAD to be around to read it.

Well, he DID finish the story, and I AM around to read the rest of the books, but for some reason, I never did.

Don't get me wrong, I bought them all, and in hardcover, no less. But somehow, the burning desire to know how the story ended faded over the years. I got about halfway through the fourth book when it came out, set it down, and never picked it up again.

(Though I DID leaf through to look at all of the illustrations by the brilliant Dave McKean. I might have lost some of my need to finish the stories, but I'm not an idiot.)

The seven Dark Tower books have been sitting on the bookshelves in my office for years, gathering dust and mostly forgotten until a few months ago, when I took the 4th book down for another look at the little pen & ink illustrations McKean had done for the start of each section in the book. And suddenly, I realized that I actually needed to know how it all ended. I already a pretty good idea from the parts of DARK TOWER IV: WIZARD & GLASS I'd read years before, but I really wanted to know for sure.

I started with the beginning of book 4, realized I had no idea what was going on, and decided to start over with book 1. It's been long enough that the storytelling subtleties, not to mention large portions of the actual plot, are long gone from my memory, so it was like reading them for the first time.

To be honest, I stalled again in the middle of book 4, but after a long day of drawing, I was lying in bed, awake and worrying about my deadlines and had to do something with my brain other than thinking. So I picked it up, settled in for a few hours of reading, and finished it in one gulp. When it was done, I went into my office and grabbed the fifth book, WOLVES OF THE CALLA, and got it started before I lost momentum.

I don't have a lot of time for reading these days, but I downed WOLVES in a handful of big gulps. And without giving anything away, I'm pretty sure it's heading in the direction I thought it was, but that need to know how it all ends remains. In a strange way, I think I never really wanted it to end. And maybe that's why I avoided reading the last books when they finally came out.

I'm on book 6 now, SONG OF SUSANNAH, with book 7 still waiting for me. I'm not sure it can live up to the expectations of the teenager who first read THE GUNSLINGER, but one way or another, I'm going to find out.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


And here's the first of the four concepts for my Pilot Season project. For those who don't know, I've decided to take four projects that have been sitting in my closet for years and rework them into new proposals. Each week, I'll be putting a new one here on the blog, and whichever concept gets the best reaction will be turned into a 32-page one-shot.


DESTINY WALKER in "The Horror of Hartley Hall"

For centuries, the women of Destiny Walker's family have protected humanity from the evil forces waiting in the shadows. Armed with ancient magicks and forbidden knowledge, they have single-handedly held back the tide of darkness.

But the power that Destiny's family wields in battle carries its own dangers, and Destiny's mother -- tempted by the promise of even greater power -- turned her back on humanity and joined forces with the darkness.

Now Destiny is forced to assume her mother's place as humanity's guardian. Wary of the magicks that corrupted her mother, Destiny relies more on her wits and twin .45s than her supernatural inheritance.

But her promise to never use magic is put to its greatest test when Destiny investigates the death of Lord Hartley, a collector of rare artifacts. Hidden beneath his ancient manor house is a terrible secret that could turn the tide in the war against the darkness.

A secret somehow connected to Destiny's own mother.

Pilot Season: DESTINY WALKER pencils

Here's a peek at the rough pencils for the DESTINY WALKER presentation piece. Usually, I'll rough in the basic shapes and then add some detail later in another round of pencils before I ink a page. For the Pilot Season pieces, I'm planning on just doing a slightly more detailed rough like this one, and then added any additional detail in the inks. We'll see how well it works out.

Pilot Season: DESTINY WALKER layouts

Started in on laying out a presentation piece for the DESTINY WALKER one-shot I'll be proposing as part of my Pilot Season project. Still playing with some different ideas, but after researching various clothing options from the period, I've at least settled on a basic outfit for her.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pilot Season Preview (UPDATED)

Over the weekend, I finalized three of the four projects I'll be revising for my Pilot Season project. As I mentioned earlier, they're all based on pre-existing concepts from the boxes in my office, including one of my very first original characters, Johnny Chaos.

The first three projects are:

DESTINY WALKER, FREELANCE WITCH in "The Horror of Hartley Hall"

TWILIGHT & FENCHURCH in "The Black Pearl of Askotha"

JOHNNY CHAOS in "Ghost of the Machine"

I'm still debating what the fourth project will be. The 32-page limit is too short for a lot of the concepts I've been developing over the last couple of years, but there are still one or two that might work as short one-off stories.

I'll be posting the first Pilot Season proposal by the end of the week, so keep an eye out. Now I just need to find time to work up a presentation piece.

UPDATE: For the handful of people wondering what the longer projects that have been knocked out of the running were:

THE OCTOBER GIRL, a 90+ page graphic novel. Since I've already folded the main character into the FADE novel, this one will probably stay in the files unless I find a new approach to it that adds to FADE instead of taking away from it. And if I ever did it, I'd really rather have Michael Gaydos draw it.

FADE: SIGNS & WONDERS, a series of inter-connected short stories that began in NEGATIVE BURN. I abandoned this project three stories in when the FADE material started to go in a very different direction, but I still feel guilty that I never completed the story. This one I WILL do someday, but probably not until AFTER the novel is finished. And I'll have to completely redo the stories that have already appeared.

WALK THROUGH OCTOBER, a one-off graphic novella. This was one of my very first projects at Caliber in the early 90's. I put out a version of it that I wasn't entirely happy with (I was working for Disney and drawing an issue of STARMAN while working on it), and I've long been planning to expand it. I started work on a prose version of it that I intended to pitch as a heavily illustrated Middle Grade novel (I was hoping to talk the previously mentioned and disgustingly talented Michael Gaydos into doing the illustrations), but the idea for the FADE novel was coming together at the same time and I decided to focus on the new material instead of 'fixing' the old stuff. Still, I'd really like to do a new version of this story. It ties into FADE in an oblique way, so maybe after I'm done with the novel, I'll pull it out of the files again. I considered including this in the Pilot Season options, but if I did it as a straight-up comic book story, it would run to at least 90 pages, if not more.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


After selling a piece of SUPERNATURAL:ORIGINS art off the new website on the very first day (thanks, Brian!), I've added more pages from the first issue, including two double-page spreads.

Original Art Site (UPDATED)

With so much original art now sitting in piles on the floor of my office, I've set up a basic site where you can purchase some of these pages. Nothing fancy, but if you're looking for some of my art to hang on your wall, that's going to be the place to go until we work out something fancier.

I just added the first pages to the site, including all the black & white art from the MIRROR'S EDGE preview story we did for the 2008 San Diego Comic Con, along with the tryout pinup I drew for the game developers.

UPDATE 1: I've also added a pinup from the SUPERNATURAL: ORIGINS comic book I did for DC/WILDSTORM a while back.

UPDATE 2: And I've already sold my first piece. Cheers to my pal Brian for picking up the SUPERNATURAL: ORIGINS pinup!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

My Favorite Things

I've been following Guy Davis' work since his BAKER STREET days at Caliber Comics. I loved the way he and Gary Reed mixed my childhood hero Sherlock Holmes with a punk/proto-goth aesthetic to create something new and unique. And boy... was it unique. And very, very cool.

After I'd broken into the industry (through the very same Caliber Comics), I found out Guy was doing the SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE series at DC's new Vertigo line. Needless to say, I picked up every issue, with the exception of some that Guy didn't draw, which is ironic considering a few years later, I was one of the artists brought in to draw a fill-in story arc.

Somewhere along the way, Guy launched his own book, THE MARQUIS. It's jumped from publisher to publisher (Caliber to ONI to Dark Horse), but I've been following it from day one. Guy's work on any title is worth picking up and pouring over, but his work on THE MARQUIS is just exceptional. Not to mention the writing, which is as good as it gets. Always nice to find an artist who writes as well as he draws. It's becoming a rare combination these days.

As much as I love Guy's work on BPRD and other HELLBOY tie-ins (and boy do I love it), I wish he could just do THE MARQUIS full-time. Every time I hear a rumour about a new mini-series, I get ridiculously excited, even if I know the other work will take precedence over his creator-owned material. Still, it gives me something to look forward to whenever I go into the local comic book shop. You just never know when you'll come across a random MARQUIS one-shot that will totally make your year.

Now I hear there's a new collected edition of all THE MARQUIS material to date coming soon from Dark Horse. Can't wait. Even if I already have everything in the collection, my old editions are looking pretty threadbare by now. Whenever I run into a storytelling problem, or need a little inspiration, my old copies of THE MARQUIS are one of the places I always turn to for solutions.

On a personal note, I came very, very close to writing a book for Guy to draw at one of the 'Big Two'. Unfortunately, we lost our editor and the project fell apart. It's been almost 9 years since then, and I'm STILL in mourning. And yet, it's probably for the best... it would have been yet another project that kept Guy from working on THE MARQUIS.

Friday, June 5, 2009

My Own Private Pilot Season

So I've been thinking... I've got a bunch of potential work-for-hire projects coming down the pike, with a number of other possibilities floating around out there, but having dug all of this old art from projects that never went anywhere out of the closet, I'm thinking of taking one of them, re-doing it, and putting it out as a one-off special issue.

Whichever one I end up doing, it'll have to be short -- no more that 32 pages -- and relatively self-contained story-wise, which knocks a couple of contenders out of the running right off the bat. But that leaves at least 4 other concepts that I could develop into a one-shot.

The other limitation will be that the project has to lend itself to a quick and loose art style, since there's only so much time in the day and I would like to have a life outside of my job. Not to mention the fact that there are at least 2 people out there who will murder me unless I finish the Fade novel soon (Hi, Dan. Hi, Jim.). Luckily, the concepts I have in mind will all work with that kind of look.

So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to take 4 of the concepts I've got sitting around and work up short pitches for each of them, along with a pinup or sample cover to give an idea of what the main characters would look like, and then post them here on the blog. Whichever idea gets the best response will be the project I end up doing.

Once the project is chosen, I'll start working on it in-between my other projects, posting the progress as I go along, from sketches to final pages. And if it turns out well, I'll see about getting it published through one of the many great small press publishers out there. And if there are any small-press publishers (or even big-press publishers) out there who want in on this, drop me a line and we'll set something up.

I'll post the first project proposal next week, so keep an eye out. I'm going to try and put a new one up every week, and have the final choice by the end of the month. Obviously, feel free to check them out and let me know what you think of the various options. The final decision will be down to you.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

From The Closet: DESTINY WALKER (Updated)

Yet another concept that's been kicking around a while. DESTINY WALKER, FREELANCE WITCH began life back when I was working with Mike Mignola on some HELLBOY stories. I created it as something for Ryan Sook (whose early work on the SPIKE & DRU series had just come out) to draw, but the similarities to HELLBOY were a little too on the nose, and the project never went anywhere. Luckily, Ryan came in to ink me on the first Lobster Johnson short story, KILLER IN MY SKULL, so we did get to work together at least once.

A long while later, an editor friend of mine was exploring the idead of doing manga-style graphic novels from American creators for the American and Japanese market. Never one to turn down a challenge, I dusted off the DESTINY WALKER idea and tried to fit it into the manga format, up to and including some tweaks to my art style at the time. Above is one of the storytelling pages I produced for the proposal. Unfortunately, my editor friend moved on from the company shortly after I sent him the pitch and I never heard back on the idea.

A few years ago, while casting about for something of my own to work on, I dusted DESTINY off once again and reworked it as another of my 1930s supernatural heroes projects, which actually worked much better for me and for the character. I pitched it around to a few people with the high-concept tag line "HELLBOY meets SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE", but again, the fact that it was a period piece was a mark against it and the revised DESTINY WALKER, FREELANCE WITCH ended up back in the files with all the other concepts that I just can't seem to give up on.

UPDATE: And here's a peek at one of the 1930s DESTINY WALKER sketches I did while preparing the new version of her.

From The Closet: THE MAGIC AGE

I'd been pitching an idea to DC for years where we'd take all the magical characters that were running around before the dawn of superheroes and do a story that was their last big adventure before the 'guys in capes' came along. I thought of it as a companion piece to James Robinson and Paul Smith's excellent THE GOLDEN AGE. I of course had to call it THE MAGIC AGE. Since it was a period piece (set in the late 1930s) with a bunch of characters that had mostly migrated over to the Vertigo line, the project never really gained any traction.

At some point, I decided to try and do the same idea but with my own characters, much like Alan Moore had done with the old Charlton characters and WATCHMEN. Needless to say, I'm no Alan Moore, and while the concept still held some interest for me, the story lost some of its emotional punch without Doctor Occult, the Spectre, and all the rest.

I began work on a preview story with my own characters and got so far as actually starting on some of the art before realizing it wasn't quite coming together for me. The above is one of two surviving pages-in-progress. Never inked the backgrounds, but I'd already put a lot of work into the figures.

Years later, I salvaged some of the characters for a book at Crossgen, which would (after Crossgen folded) become the TWILIGHT & FENCHURCH story I've already posted a few pages from.

These ideas just get stuck in my head and never let go. I'll do a 1930s supernatural heroes book at some point. And I suspect whatever form it takes, the basic idea will have originated in this old MAGIC AGE story.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

On The Nightstand

SECRET WINDOWS: Essays and Fiction on the Craft of Writing
by Stephen King

I'd never heard of this book before my friend Dan and I were poking around the dealers room at the last NECon. It's a companion book to King's ON WRITING, which for my money is one of four books about writing that are worth reading.

(I think I've mentioned them before, but for me, the best books on writing are King's ON WRITING, Ray Bradbury's ZEN AND THE ART OF WRITING, Tom Monteleone's COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO WRITING A NOVEL, and David Morrel's LESSONS FROM A LIFETIME OF WRITING. I'd definitely add SECRET WINDOWS to that list.)

Dan snatched up the copy sitting on one of the dealer's tables, but luckily there was another copy in a box somewhere. Otherwise, a fight might have broken out. It's an exceptionally rare book, released by the Book of the Month Club and never reissued in a regular edition. Probably why I'd never heard of it.

Being the kind of guys we are, we both stayed up late that night, drinking beer and reading this book, which (as the sub-title helpfully suggests) is a collection of essays, speeches, and lectures from King about the art and business of writing. I'd read a few of them in other places, particularly the long section on Horror fiction from DANSE MACABRE reprinted here, but there is more than enough new material to make it worth hunting down.

As I prepare to launch back into major work on the FADE novel, I started re-reading SECRET WINDOWS, looking for a little inspiration. Plenty to be found here. King talking about writing is always fascinating, and the introduction by Peter Straub is equally engaging.

From The Closet: Sketch 2

Another sketch from the supernatural book that I wanted to pitch to Wildstorm. Again, I used a photo as the backbone of the piece, but I wasn't happy with the way the face turned out, so I never showed it to my editor as far as I know.

Looking at the sketch now, I kind of like the hand and the overall look of the piece. Maybe I was being too picky about the face.

The smaller a piece is, the harder it is for me to get what I want out of a face. I've worked out a few tricks for drawing small faces over the years, but when I'm working with a new technique -- like using photos -- I have to figure out all new tricks that fit with that technique.

I think the photo reference look works best with more shadows on the faces. Or maybe it's just that more shadows looks cooler with almost any kind of art technique.

From The Closet: Sketch 1

I've been finding a lot of random things in with the pages from my closet. Not sure when I did this particular sketch, but I think it was part of a pitch I'd originally intended for Wildstorm.

It's also an early attempt at using a photograph as the basis for the drawing. I like the way the shadows worked out, so if I ever use photos on a regular basis, I might have to play with this kind of dramatic lighting.

If I remember correctly, I was hoping to pitch a supernatural mini-series to my editor, but it fell more within Old-School Vertigo territory than anything Wildstorm was doing at the time.

Still, I might recycle a couple of the ideas and create something new out of it. I've forgotten most of the plot-points by now, so I'd have to rebuild it from scratch, unless the old pitch is buried in closet, as well.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

From The Closet: Batman

Another piece I found while digging everything out of my closet. Just a photocopy of the pencils, unfortunately. No idea what happened to the original art. I drew it for Mark Chiarello at DC to show him that I could draw traditional, slick, superhero art when I sent my mind to it. At the time, I was still heavily influenced by the work of Mike Mignola, but I wanted to add in some other art approaches I'd picked up from guys like Joe Quesada and Ed McGuinness. It was an interesting mix. Never drew a book in this style, which is probably for the best. It took me days to pencil this one piece. That's about four times as long as I usually take.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Now Playing

by Stephen King

Long week of work. Longer week of work ahead. And my writing muscles are itching for a long stretch of work on FADE. But the writing marathon will have to wait until I get caught up with the art assignments I already have.

In the meantime, I'm trying to immerse myself in more audiobooks to keep the writing part of my brain awake. This weekend it's another one of the Stephen King books I never finished -- LISEY'S STORY. Finally got through the CELL audiobook, which picked up in the last act. I suspect this one won't come together until the last act as well. It's a dense book (even on audio) with a lot of flashbacks, so we'll see where all these little details lead.

Monday, May 25, 2009

From The Closet: JACKSON KING, part 3

And here's the third and final STORMWATCH: PHD pinup from my closet. I found these with the original art from the issue they had me draw -- #5. Still have all the art from that issue. I think I'll pick a couple of the better pages and put them up for sale along with the pinups.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

From The Closet: JACKSON KING, part 2

And here's the second of the three pieces I did while preparing for STORMWATCH: PHD #5. This time, I drew Jackson King in his various incarnations over the course of the Stormwatch books.

From The Closet: JACKSON KING

And here's the first of the pieces I came across while cleaning out my closet. It's a pinup featuring Jackson King from STORMWATCH that I drew as a sample for Wildstorm a couple of years ago. They wanted me draw an issue of the new (at the time) STORMWATCH:PHD series, so I did three pieces with King to show them what I could do.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Spring Cleaning

I've been meaning to go through my old files of original art for a while now, but I didn't get around to it until this afternoon. Probably just the usual Spring cleaning urge, or the fact that the closet in my office is starting to get a little cramped with all the boxes of art and books.

As I started to sort through the boxes, finding old art and comics that I barely remember drawing, I suddenly realized that I've got somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 pages of original art collecting dust there in the closet. I now have four stacks of art sitting on the guest bed. One is old stuff, one is SUPERNATURAL: ORIGINS artwork, one is MIRROR'S EDGE artwork, and one is pinups and other odds and ends.

Yeah, it's definitely time to get rid of all this stuff. Still not sure the best way to start selling off my original art, but for now I think I'll have to set up an 'Original Art For Sale' page on my website. Look for that in the next couple of days. In the meantime, I'll post scans of some of the pieces I've discovered as I go through all of it.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Jim Royal, 1970-2009

Living where I do in Upstate New York, I'm pretty well out of the loop of the comic book world. Most of the news I get comes from my close circle of friends in the industry, and most of that news is about some really great new artist they think I should check out, or a new website for some really great artist from the 40s or 50s.

So, almost four months after it happened, I'm only now learning that one of my oldest friends in the business has died just short of his 39th birthday. You may not have heard of Jim Royal, but he was an inker who worked for almost every company in the business, from Caliber to DC to Marvel. But for me, he was the guy who single-handedly got me in the business.

After college, I was down in Birmingham, AL where my father was running a television station. I hadn't had a stellar college career and I was stuck in a succession of retail jobs while working on my own comics and dreaming of a chance to break in. One night, a lanky guy walks into the record store where I was working and asked to speak with someone - a friend of his who worked for the record chain - that I'd never heard of. Turns out his friend worked at one of our other stores and the lanky guy had shown up at the wrong location.

While we sorted out where his friend was and how to get there, the lanky guy and I got to talking. Turns out he was a comic book inker by the name of Jim Royal. When I told him I was a wannabe comic book artist, he asked if he could see any of my stuff. In those days, I always had something with me, so I showed him zeroxes of my latest pages there on the spot. He loved them.

Before he left, Jim gave me his phone number and invited me down to Montgomery to hang out with him and his studio mate, Andrew Robinson. I went down a couple of times to sit around, drink beers, smoke, and talk about comics. I always brought whatever new pages I was working on and showed them around. One night, Jim asked if he could send some of my pages to a guy he knew at Caliber Comics.

And that's how I got my first comic book work. Jim sent the pages, the guy at Caliber called me, and I got invited to do a story for NEGATIVE BURN.

I haven't talked to Jim in a while, but he's never been far from my mind. Every few years one of us calls the other and we spend a few hours on the phone catching up, talking, and laughing. I've always looked forward to those re-connecting phone calls.

The horrible thing was that in trying to re-connect with him now (last time Jim found ME, so this time was probably my turn), I came across the news that he'd died. I can't even begin to wrap my mind around the fact that he's gone. He was always there with a big grin and a story, and beer or cigarette if you needed one.

I'm not a religious man, but Jim, I hope you're out there, and I hope you know how much I'm going to miss those phone calls. Thanks for everything you did for me, and I hope wherever you are, it's a good, happy place.

From The Files: UNTITLED

And here's another old piece from the files, colors by Ryan Robbins. I did this one as a sample for a 1930s Noir detective book that never got off the ground. Too bad. I'd love to do a crime book one of these days.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

From The Files: FAIRCHILD

On deadline today, racing to finish a chunk of my secret project, and working on some samples for yet another potential secret project. So here's another one of my superhero pinup experiments, once again featuring a character from Gen13 -- Fairchild. I was planning on doing all four of the major characters and blending the pinups together into one larger piece, hence the stone background motif in both the pieces I've posted. Again, the MIRROR'S EDGE project came up and I didn't get a chance to finish. Maybe I'll do the other two characters -- Grunge and Freefall -- the next time the need to draw some superheroes comes over me.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Facebook Fan Page

And my web presence grows...

My friend Ellen Williams has created a Matthew Dow Smith fan page on Facebook. I'll try and put news and updates on it from time to time for anyone interested in following my various projects.

From The Files: BURNOUT

After my run on SUPERNATURAL: ORIGINS, I was really in the mood to do a superhero thing. I go through phases where I get the urge to draw something slick and superhero-y. Doesn't happen often, but it happens. Since I hadn't drawn any superheroes in a while, I tried my hand at a couple of the characters from Gen13 to show my editor at Wildstorm. This one features Burnout, the team's 'fire' character. I had a lot of fun tightening up my lines and playing with more dynamic shapes, but the MIRROR'S EDGE gig came up before I got a chance to ink it. No complaints from me, but I'd still like to try my hand at a straight-up superhero title someday.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Work In Progress: FADE poster

I put this together as a sign for my booth at the last Albany comic book convention. I'm always a little jealous of the guys with big posters and banners advertising themselves. My answer was a possibly too subtle poster featuring the adult version of my Evan Fade character. It was an interesting experiment, a variation of a little piece I did while working on the Fade Young Adult novel. I'm still figuring out how to do useful things in Photoshop, but every time I try, I learn something handy.

There's another Albany convention coming up in November. Hopefully by then I'll be able to work up something a little more adventurous. I've been looking at a lot of Ashley Woods art and the graphic design work of John Honor Jacobs, picking up ideas. We'll see what I come up with.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

From The Files: ZEALOT

One more piece from the photo reference experiments I did while waiting for Mirror's Edge to start up. I was a big fan of Joe Casey and Sean Phillips' run on WILDCATS, so when I started playing with using photos as the basis for a drawing I tried the technique out on a couple of Wildcats characters, including Zealot. It turned out well enough that I posted it in the gallery on my website, along with a Grifter piece done in the same style.

I never did find good photo reference for this background, so I drew it without reference and kept adding shadows until it fit visually with the figure.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

From The Files: Photo Experiment

Over the last year or so, I've been playing around with new approaches to my art. I always like to mix things up, whether it's a different way of laying out a page, or nudging my art style a bit to suit the tone of a story. During the hiatus between SUPERNATURAL: ORIGINS and MIRROR'S EDGE, I tried a few experiments with photo reference. This is the first of those. Not sure it's something I'd want to do for every story, but it was a fun experiment.

These days, having drawn three projects in a row with fairly similar styles, I'm itching to try something even more experimental. Just have to find the right project for the look I have in mind.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

From The Files: MR. HOOD

Been under the weather the last couple of days, but trying to keep up with all the work. I hope to have an announcement about a few projects over the course of the next few weeks. In the meantime, here's an unseen cover from a project called MR. HOOD. Several years ago, NFL football player Darian Barnes approached me about working on a comic with him. It was a great little idea, and Darian's enthusiasm is hard to say 'no' to. We did 2, maybe 3, issues before Darian hurt himself in training camp and we had to put everything on hold. He's better now, and the last I heard he was playing for the New Orleans Saints. Nice guy. Hope we get a chance to finish the project some day.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Had a chance to get caught up with Todd Dezago at last weekend's signing. We've known each other for years, but never gotten a chance to work together. Todd recently moved his creator-owned title THE PERHAPANAUTS over to the Image banner and he gave me a stack of the latest issues. It's a great comic book, everything that I've been missing in comic book these days. It's been a long time since I read a comic that was just out and out FUN and more or less kid-friendly. And the art by Craig Rosseau is really sharp.

Todd and I are now talking about having me draw an 8-page backup story for them. I pretty much jumped at the chance to finally work with him, now we just have to find the time to work on it.

In the meantime, a big thank you to everyone who turned out for our FCBD signing at EXCELLENT ADVENTURES. It was great to see so many kids excited about comics again. And thanks to John and Matt for setting the signing up and running things so smoothly, not to mention all the coffee, soda, and pizza they provided. I had a great time. Thanks, guys.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Now Playing

BBC Radio Collection

Having listened to several audiobooks in a row while I've been wrapping up this issue of my secret project, I needed a break from big, involved stories, so I broke out one of my many audio collections of the classic British radio comedy show, THE GOON SHOW.

I've been a huge GOON fan since high school, which probably explains a lot more about my childhood than I'd care to admit. I was an 'odd' kid. More interested in British science fiction shows and radio comedy than sports and yet somehow I managed not to get beaten up. Still not sure how I avoided that.

If you don't know the GOONs, you certainly know the British comedians they inspired. Without the GOONs, we'd never have gotten MONTY PYTHON, HITCH-HIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, LITTLE BRITAIN, or pretty much any of the British comedy created over the last 40 years. They influenced everyone that came after them, and changed the tone of British comedy forever.

And while you may not have heard of Spike Milligan (though if you know anything about comedy, you probably have... and more than once) or Harry Secombe, you certainly know the third GOON, Peter Sellers of THE PINK PANTHER fame.

I've listened to these old shows over and over again, but they still crack me up every time. Their smart, literate, and zany brand of comedy still holds up well today, and no matter how many times you've heard these shows, the jokes fly so fast there's always some nugget of comedy you've missed.

And just to show you how much of a nerd I was growing up... I had three pictures taped up in my locker: Lalla Ward as Romana from Doctor Who (My first celebrity crush), saxaphonist Sonny Rollins, and an old black & white photo of the GOONS.

Again, I have no idea how I didn't get beaten up on a daily basis.

On The Nightstand

KISS OF LIFE: A Generation Dead Novel
by Daniel Waters

One of the nice things about having so many writers as friends is that sometimes they send you stuff like advance readers copies of their books. It makes you feel just a little cooler than average mortals, and when you've got a friend who is as good a writer as Dan Waters, it also gives you something really cool to read.

As anyone who's ever met me probably knows, I'll talk about how much I love Dan at the drop of a hat. I know a lot of people, am friendly with a fair number of them, but I've got a short list of people I count as true friends. Dan's high on that list. So it should come as a bit of a shock that I sort of hate him. Why?, you might ask. Well, because of books like KISS OF LIFE.

It's good. God help me, it's really good. The guy makes writing look so damn easy. And considering that at least on the surface it's a teenage zombie love story, there's no reason I should love it as much as I do. But like everything Dan writes, it's so much more than just what you see on the surface, which works so perfectly in a book about teenagers on some metaphorical level that it makes my creative brain hurt more than a little.

I was around when Dan came up with the idea for GENERATION DEAD, and the fact that there's a sequel now, and more sequels to come, is just too cool for words. But the fact that the sequel is as good as the first book, if not a little better (there's even a nerdy writing mechanics thing in the first section of the book that would drive me crazy if it wasn't handled as masterfully as Dan does it), is just another reason to hate the guy. And the facial hair. I can't grow a goatee to save my life, and yet Dan has one, proving once and for all that if the two of us are twins separated at birth, he's the evil one.

KISS OF LIFE hits the shelves May 12th in the States. I don't want to give away any of the story, but I really admire the choices Dan makes in this one. There's an easy way to tell a story, and there's a more nuanced, textured way, which usually turns out to be more interesting in the end. Dan always picks the more challenging way, and this book is no exception.

I never hesitate to shill for my friends, but Dan makes it really easy. I really enjoyed this book and its predecessor, GENERATION DEAD. And I can't wait to read the next one. Maybe by then, I'll be able to grow a goatee. I doubt it, but hope springs eternal.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


If you're not following Paul Grist's online comic, do yourself a favor and go check it out. I've been a fan of Paul's since his work with Steven T. Seagle on GRENDEL TALES, and his KANE series is better than any cop show on TV today. Not to mention ST. SWITHIN'S DAY, his collaboration with Grant Morrison, which heavily influenced my early work at Caliber.

And while I don't hang a lot of art up in my office, one of the few things I DO have is a signed KANE poster. No matter how times I move house, I always hang that framed poster right above my art desk where I can see it every time I look up.

I guess you can say I'm a bit of a fan.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Free Comic Book Day 2009

Just a reminder that I'll be appearing at the EXCELLENT ADVENTURES comic book shop this Saturday for FREE COMIC BOOK DAY, along with Todd Dezago and some special costumed guests. Stop on by if you're in the area and support a great local retailer.

From the Files: FRANK 2

Lots of things developing on the comic book project front. Nothing I can talk about, but conversations are being had and fingers are being crossed. With so many things in the pipeline, one of them is bound to come together soon. Meanwhile, here's another glimpse at some of the presentation art from FRANK. I put this piece together as an antidote to the static image I posted yesterday. Nothing says 'publish my book' quite as well as a couple of tank guns, broken windows, and smoke.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

From The Files: FRANK 1

One more post of art from my old files while I ink an issue of my sadly still secret project. This time, I'm putting up a presentation piece for a Young Adult comic book pitch I developed a couple of years ago called FRANK. Yet another project that I put aside when I decided to focus all of my efforts into the FADE novel. I may still revise the FRANK concept at some point, so I don't want to give away the premise, but suffice it to say the name FRANK was not chosen at random.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Twilight, Fenchurch, and Ryan Robbins

More deadline racing, but having posted two pages from the abandoned TWILIGHT & FENCHURCH story, I thought I'd put up those same pages as colored by my friend Ryan Robbins.

I've been watching Ryan develop as an artist over the last few years, and he's gotten a lot better with a computer than I'll ever be.
And he's a good guy, too. Ryan's helped out more than a few times as the unofficial Matthew Dow Smith convention booth crew.

Again, I really need to get those guys t-shirts or something.