Tuesday, September 16, 2008

An Open Letter To Hurricane Ike

Dear Hurricane Ike,

Fuck you!

Len N. Wallace

So, we'll just call this an open letter to everyone who runs across it, just to say I'm not dead and haven't abandoned my post. Here's the story as I know it. It appears some off-shoot of Hurricane Ike blew through my home town and has left 200,000 people including myself without power, and it's looking like it could stay that way for up to two more weeks. Lucky for me, the community college library is back up and running, so I'm here to send out a few emails to people I work with, as well as whine about having to sit around in the dark on this here blog.

It's quite pathetic how technologically dependant I am, that I've gotta sit here in the library like some kind of asshole and charge my phone, laptop, and iPod, so I can maybe have something to do tonight. My phone's been out of commission for like, two days now so at least I can get in touch with my family, artists, and editors and let them know the skinny now.

Went for a walk around the neighborhood and on down Bardstown Road earlier today to try and spend a gift certificate I got for my birthday at my local comic shop, to hopefully find something to read and pass the time, and power's back up in some places, but there are still massive pieces of splintered trees and shit in the middle of the road in some places. You'd think a damn tornado blew through here, but no... It was just wind.

It's fucking wind, people! It should never have been this serious!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Another Day Full Of Dread...

About an hour from now, my mother will be going under the knife for a biopsy on something the doctors found in her breast last week. I only found out about this on Saturday, but with the other stressors and developments of the last week, the news hasn't done much to help my already shitty state of mind. She's assured me that the likelyhood of it being cancerous is pretty slim, but I'm the kind of person whose mind will stay affixed to the negative until it gets built up in my mind from a molehill to a mountain. Couple this with my recent weeks struggles to get my tuition for my final semester of school paid off at the very last minute, as well as several seperate frustrations in my writing life that I actually CAN'T talk about, and the recent addition of me having to type this entry from the school library because my electricity got shut off and I can't pay it 'til Friday. The hits have just been coming at a relentless and dizzying pace and they've yet to let up, but optimistic pessimist that I am, I figure something's gotta give sooner than later.

I don't talk much about these things with people, because I'm normally one of those stubborn assholes who likes the machismo of the whole "suffering in silence" thing, and when it comes to a point when the pain gets too unbearable to hold onto, I'll blog about it. People all look at me weird when I do this type of thing, but I mainly do it because the act of talking it out with another person, while it can be theraputic at times, I just always find the better words to express myself when I'm writing them down. Call it weird or call it socially detached. It's just the way I work and have always worked. Believe me, I'd change if I could.

Anyway, if you read me regularly, or just stumble along this entry, feel free to say a prayer, or cast a spell, or sacrifice a small, fluffy critter to whatever deity you worship. The cuter the better.

EDIT: Mom called like, five minutes after my posting this and apparently the doctors don't need to give her the surgery since they "can't find" the growth, so... I guess that's as good a start as any. You can all put away your knives and puppies.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Last Five Google Searches - 7/30/08 w/ mini Art-Bomb!

Meant to start doing these more frequently, but... I fuckt up! Anyway, I have a little free time today before I get back to studying, so here we go with round 2.

Here are my last five Google searches in my web cache...

1 - effects of lead poisoning
2 - baxter avenue theaters
3 - chicago 1871
4 - comic book tattoo
5 - five stages of grief

ADDED BONUS! A couple of the first character sketches from my second book-in-progress, a decidedly darker departure from what everyone will be getting with Love Buzz, in the form of a morality play I'm tentatively calling "Half-Way Home" illustrated by the brilliant Steven Walters.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Missing out on my favorite week of the year...

It's 7:30 in the morning as I write this which means I went to sleep around 4:30 and was forced awake and unable to drift back off. The reason/thing that shook me out of my far too little sleep was a "nightmare" so minor and lame that I feel embarrassed for how hard it rocked me. I'm sitting in my current summer Bio class, as the semester winds to a hault, to find that the Teacher has come in and decided to give us our ridiculously intimidating final exam for the semester a day early. Being the kind of jackass who barely studies until the last day, I'm completely unprepared, but take to my seat and get ready to proceed with this huge on-coming clusterfuck... And then I wake up...

See, lame and embarrassing. I woke up in a sweat and then sat up and got irrationally pissed at myself for letting something like this get to me in such a way and then got up to cook breakfast and watch old Batman cartoons as I write this. I mark this dream as a harbinger of my utterly cruddy week to come.

It's not only Monday and I already can't wait for this damn week to be over. As San Diego Comicon winds to it's conclusion and my friends and colleagues head home to tell me all about what went on as I've been sitting here from the sidelines, reading the news as it comes up on different web outlets, as well as through my plethora of other comic creator friends who were in attendance and had been updating on every cool thing that happened via Twitter. I curse my teachers and my inclinations towards thinking Summer school would be a good idea. (It was though, I'm just bitching for the sake of my current aggrevated diatribe.)

As if having missed out on going to Comicon and fulfill a few promises I had made doesn't suck enough, the rest of this week, in my perfect, alternate time-line world would be spent doing the one thing I pretty much live through the rest of the whole, stinking year for. Yesterday would have been the start of my eleventh consecutive year. Up until now, I've been counseling there every single year since the camp was first created. As much as I love my writing and all of that, doing camp on this week of every year is pretty much the thing I look forward to most out of each year.

Camp Bravehearts was a summer camp that was established back in 1997 for children born with heart conditions, not unlike myself. I got hooked up with a gig as a counselor in training on the first year of camp by my cardiologist, whose partner established the idea for the camp and has been seeing it through ever since. That first year to me was like a revelation. Sitting around a large square of land filled with kids who were growing up in the middle of the kind of stuff that I grew up dealing with and in some cases much worse, but all of them, even the sicker ones are having an absolute blast of it. Kids with heart defects have to take it slow in life. Their activities and physical limits can be a bit easier to break due to the things going on with them. There are so many of these kinds of defects that it often varies though. I myself got lucky that after my second surgury at the age of eight years old, I've never had any more problems and have essentially been able to go on living like any other normal person. Some of these kids get to be that lucky, some of them don't but go on to live happily and well adjusted, and on rare occasions in the middle of the year, I've gotten news passed down to me when one or two of the campers will have passed away. Those have always been rough. One year specifically, the camp director Joyce called me specifically to say that a boy named Josh had an attack on his way home from school and his parents had her invite me specifically to the funeral, because of how Josh had apparently looked up to me at the time and even spent a lot of his time when he came home from camp actually walking around immitating me. My mannerisms, the way I walk, pretty much any of my other weird tics, he picked up on and just kind of... Adopted them for a little while. It was a weird thing to hear, but I went to the funeral and it was as heavy as can be expected, but the reception I got from the boys parents was like I was a member of their family. I've been going to camp ever since and it's seemed like at the age of 15, I'd found something I could have seen myself doing happily for the rest of my life.

I can't explain it, I just love working with kids. I get a huge, rejuvenating charge out of it and it seems like other than writing, to be the only thing that gives me a sense of real joy in my life. The whole thing gives me a drive and makes me feel like I've got a purpose. Writing ain't paying any bills yet, and I've always loved the idea of trying to work with kids on a regular basis. The trouble is, whenever you walk into a place where you'd be able to do something like that and you're a male my age, you get looked at suspiciously like a potential sex offender in waiting.
I've even thought at times of the idea of becoming a teacher, but again, the current social climate in America has people looking cock-eyed at male teachers when they hire them and then the ones that do get hired have to worry about so many laws or complaints from uptight parents that it's hard to even get involved in breaking up a fight between the kids without the possibility of being scrutinized. I've never been able to make more of it than the 10 years of one week volunteering I do for Camp Bravehearts and now this year, I can't even get that. It just... sucks!

But I digress, what should be the focus of my attention right now is not fucking up my summer finals in bio, psych, and algebra. College sucks. It doesn't feel like the right thing for me, but I'm fighting and killing myself to get through it finally just for the sake of my parents and making them proud so they don't have to worry about me in case the writing thing never works out. (It will. I'm too determined not to let it.)

So now, I'm off to class to sit and listen and try to retain and not let my mind get distracted by kittens or shiny things and just try to get this total suck week over with.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Somedays, I Wear Editor Pants!

Felt today like posting a little something from an ongoing pet project of mine that I started a couple years back on my own and more recently evolved into trying to make work as an anthology book. As I've been getting a bunch of really good stories turned in, as well as a few small smatterings of art I'm going to use to pitch the project, I figured I'd show a few assorted panels from several of the stories that have had art turned in for the pitch I've been putting together for my romance comic anthology, Less Than Three!

Obtuse, Written by Brian Dervin, art by Joe Eisma

Brian Dervin and I have been long distance friends for so long, I'm not even sure how we first started talking. Dervin and I bullshit with each other via AIM for probably over five years or more by now. Anyway, Brian's been wanting to get into writing comics over the last couple of years and when I told him about my idea for this anthology, he jumped at the chance to try and crank something out for it. Not being overly familiar with how Brian would fair as a first-time writer, I kinda just figured we'd see what happened. I finally got the script in my email and read it that night. It was short but sweet and surprisingly low key. The whole thing takes place in the confines of a single room and the majority of the story is told between the dialogue of it's two characters. One would think this might make for some boring art notes, but no. Brian had some pretty specific art directions that make the whole thing interesting to look at. Suffice to say, the story was good. Really good for a guy with no real previous experience at writing comics. It was the kind of story who would need an artist really capable of capturing facial expressions and that sort of thing. Joe Eisma's still fairly new to the game, but his art gigs have been moving up a bit in profile as he moves along. From drawing the sequel to Jason Burns' A Dummy's Guide To Danger for Viper Comics this year, as well as his and Burns' second collaboration on Devil's Due's Serpo OGN, Joe has had a nack for capturing emotions (usually used for comedic effect) so I figured he'd be a perfect fit with Brian's story.

Fool Me Twice, written by JAn Napiorkowski, art by Laura Zajacz

In JAn's story, he wanted to have a bit of a punk rock feel to the story of a girl trying to investigate the possibility of her boyfriend cheating on her.
When I read it, I immediately figured out the perfect artist for the occasion. Laura Zajacz has been involved with me on Less Than Three since the project was first concieved as a web comic. She was going to build and host the site for me, but as the plans I had changed into what they are now, I still wanted to give Laura something to do for her commitment in the past. She does her own webcomic called High-Top Chucks & Bubblegum with the same punk-centric feel to it that JAn's story gave me upon initially reading it. Laura was getting geared up to start working on one of the short stories I'd written for the book, but just before she could, I showed her this script and now here we are today.

The Valentine's Day Massacre, written by yours truly, art by Brenda Lopez

This one's one of my favorite short stories I've ever written. Just five pages of pure, silly, outlandish fun from wall to wall. I've flipped on artists for this one a good bit before the story landed at Brenda's feet. First, I wanted to get my Love Buzz accomplice Michelle Silva to draw it, but with working on Love Buzz and several other short stories for different anthologies, Michelle expressed the idea of wanting to write her own story to draw for the book, so I'm letting her work that out in between Love Buzz pages, and the story she's come up with, while I'm not going to talk much about it, sounds pretty cute. Then the story briefly went to Laura Zajaca before I decided to move her over to JAn's punk-centric story, since I figured it'd compliment her art better. This brought me to Brenda, whom I've been watching like a rabid dog through her MySpace and DeviantArt pages for a couple of years. She doesn't post as much art anymore due to her job as a teacher, but I've been persistantly bugging her about wanting to do something, and I figured that her love for children might help me to get her on board with this story. Every pages I see from her is just panel after panel of mad-cap joy and insanity.

Gillian's Heart: Diamonds Are A West African Warlord's Best Friend, written by Dave Baxter & Gillian Horvat, art by Cal Slayton

From the beginning of putting this anthology together, I told myself I would absolutely not include anything to do with superheroes unless it not only fit in with the criteria of what I wanted for the book as a whole, but also brought something different to the whole superhero thing as a whole, so when Dave Baxter and his girlfriend Gillian told me they had a superhero idea they wanted to pitch, I repressed my initial urge to groan and roll my eyes and gave them my warning of what I was looking for and within a few days, they'd turned in their script. Admittedly, it made me cringe at first. Not due to the writing or the style of it, so much as the fact that the format of the script they turned in for an eight page story came out of my printer as 24 pages of paper. That's like one billionth of a tree, right there. After getting over my initial horror with the thing, I read it. Not without its problems, but still, Dave and Gillian gave me everything I asked for in a superhero story. It's different, it's fun and flighty and has some pretty great dialogue to it. It reminds me of some of the best aspects of Dan Slott's She-Hulk run. With some coaching, Dave and Gillian's trimmed the script down considerably and put it in the capable artistic hands of Cal Slayton and so far, it's the first story with fully rendered art, color, and lettering to be completed. Bravo!

Billboard Baby, written by Josh Wagner, art by Josh Boulet

Wagner and Boulet are a pairing that have worked out exceptionally well. I'm really happy about what's come out of my putting them together. Wagner is a writer I met back when we were both still working at Silent Devil, and he was kind enough to let me crash inside his camper last year at SDCC. His first comic effort, Fiction Clemens is currently being published in a three issue prestige format mini-series from Ape Entertainment. Issue Three should be hitting stands this month. Wagner's writing has a constant flair for being pretty far out there in terms of its weirdness. It's really a must read for anyone whose a fan of LSD or Terry Gilliam movies. I knew pretty soon after I'd figured out what I wanted to do with Less Than Three, that I wanted him to write me a story for it. I was surprised when the story he turned in was a bit more sedated and sweet than I was expecting from him. Not to say a story about a homeless man in love with an inanimate object doesn't fill the Wagner weird quota, but even so, there's something a bit more grounded here. To complement Wagner's work, we went through a list of artists we both liked and discussed them until we came down to Josh Boulet. While we've not gotten more than the first couple of pages turned in from him, Boulet has been cranking out some really cool looking stuff. The things he did with the story logo are exceptionally cool, but we'll save that for when people can actually hold and read a copy for themselves.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

I Got A Pony!

Michelle, in honor of our new and now official publisher pick up for Love Buzz, (Stay tuned...) made me my very own magic pony to accompany hers. (It's called Sparkles or Locket or some other girlie non-sense.) Inspired by an episode of It's Always Sunny, I've settled on a name for mine as well.

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Peter Nincompoop!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Last Five Google Searches - 05/27/08

Trying something new to keep the blog updated frequently, even on days or weeks when I don't write much, if anything at all. Figured it'd be a fun measure, and give people an interesting little guessing game to ponder in regards to what I'm researching or even just looking at out of morbid curiosity.

Here are my last five Google searches in my web cache...

5 - grimm's fairy tales
4 - hardcase crime
3 - chuck pyle
2 - kingdom comics
1 - last night in twisted river

None of these things are necessarily connected in any way, and some of them might not even have anything to do with my work or writing. Just a curious mind or whathaveyou. Anyway, I'll try and update the blog with these at very least once every two or three days, unless I have something else to post, just to keep a steady stream of content churning out.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Cool bit of news...

Hadn't checked the Love Buzz MySpace in some time, and got a message from an old designer friend Rammer Martinez, who had a cool little tidbit to share with me tonight...

"Your name, and The Pulse, is blurbed or published (though peripherally) in a logo book from a prestigous graphic design publisher. The book is called "Really Good Logos Explained", and The Pulse's Seven Up logo made the grade. I can't believe it, really. It's a good logo, but I didn't imagine it would end up in a graphic design book."

For those of you uninitiated with some of my past work, Seven Up Sorry, the art in all the Seven Up columns I can find is so old, it's been replaced by red x's. was a column I used to write on a semi-regular basis for my pal Jen Contino at The Pulse, a website dealing in comic promotion and news type things. Seven Up was a pretty simple concept. I get in touch with little known and up-and-coming comic talent, and ask them seven different questions each week, to help them promote their works. I met a lot of great people doing that column, some of them I still talk too to this day, and one of whom I'm currently in the beginning stages of collaborating on a book with. I can't currently find links to all of my columns, but a Google search should turn up a few if not all. (Sorry, the art in all the Seven Up columns I can find is so old, it's been replaced by red x's.) Anyway, Jen told me when I started that the column would probably benefit from having a cool and iconic logo. She hooked me up with Rammer and we started to brainstorm on a logo idea for the column...

Anyway, after that long diatribe, I'll just quit explaining with exposition and post a bit I found from Rammer's blog, which kinda shows the rest of the point of tonight's post.


"For some 'really good' news, the Rammer ambigrammatic logo and the Seven Up logo (not to be confused with 7UP) are published in Rockport Publishers' Really Good Logos Explained, written by Margo Chase, Rian Hughes, Ron Miriello, and Alex W. White. This makes this heap of flesh a happy designer.

Seven Up is a logo for a column by a prominent news site for comicbooks and its ilk, The Pulse. Seven Up was an interview column orchestrated by fellow comicbook writer Len Wallace where he asks seven questions to up-and-coming comicbook artists. I figured I'd do the logo in black & white since most comicbook artists that're starting out print their comics in black & white for the cheaper price. Check out Len's latest endeavor, Love Buzz with Michelle Silva."

Pretty cool, huh? Rammer's entry continues at his own Blogger site, which I've linked too several times in my own, and shows a couple shots of his other featured winning logo design in the book, but I'm selfish and a whore, so I'm only posting about me in here. Still, head on over to Rammer's blog and give him a nod. He's a good guy and it's quite an honor he's had put on him here.

Regrettably and honestly, after a while, I just wasn't able to keep up with doing the column on a regular basis, but I love and try to support and help out Jen in any way I can from time to time. She's been instrumental in helping me to build my name in the biz. I owe both Jen and Rammer a good bit for the things they've helped me out with in my formative days.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

So let it be known!

Just got word the other day that the book has been officially announced at Emerald City Comicon and I can thusly begin blabbing about it in public, so here goes...

Third piece of published work will be appearing in this lovely looking little book of grit, grime, and Western style insanity. It's called Outlaw Territory and it's coming out through Image Comics this September, sporting a twenty dollar price tag and collecting over 30 short stories by various creators. Seriously, I've had a glimpse at some of the art from the other stories in this book. Deadwood ain't got shit on Outlaw Territory. It'll be 100% ol' fashioned, rootin', tootin', grandma-humpin' good time. Other stories written and illustrated by the likes of and an all new stories some of comics finest current working creators including Dean Motter, Greg Pak, Khoi Pham, William Simpson, as well as Scalped creators Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera. This and a peppering of myself and some of my lesser known, but just as talented friends and contemporaries, it's a pretty formidable line up to stand in the same line as.

Here's a glimpse at a page from my own short called Savage Practices as illustrated by the skilled hands and brush strokes of Christopher Mitten. (Illustrator of Wasteland, Past Lies, and Queen & Country: Declassified for Oni Press.)

Chris has turned in all eight pages of the story and they all look just as amazing as this one. Not a single thing I can complain about. This book has been an honor and a treat to work on and watch grow and I hope it sells out three times over when it hits stands in September. In my life, I've never been a Western fan and I never thought ever be asked to write something like this and even have near as much fun doing it as I have. Hell, it even inspired me to write my own Western series that I hope to be pitching around San Diego time with my buddy Marvel and DC inker Jay Leisten co-plotting and drawing. Obviously, I'll speak more of this project in due time, but I'm finished scripting the second issue and it's been the most purely fun writing experience I've worked on in a good while. If all goes as planned, it'll be something pretty epic.

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the real brains and driving force behind Outlaw Territory, Michael Woods. Michael's the editor and creator of this whole project, so without him, I and many others involved would never have had this wonderful opportunity.

Preorder this book and when it comes out feel free to shower me and everyone else involved with praise, gifts, and cash money. It's been a long road in getting made but it's going to turn out beautifully.

Monday, May 12, 2008

No time like today...

So, as of the last three months or so, a lot of my old contacts outside the people I regularly work with have kinda noticed (or more than likely haven't noticed) I've kinda disappeared off the grid and gone into silence.

Cardinal reason to why I disappeared in the first place was kind of a panic mode freak out situation I went into since my last relationship fell through. (Believe me, putting it that way is putting it very lightly) I'm not mad at anybody but myself for it though, because everything that happened was squarely on me. As for the gory details, I'm afraid I'm just going to have to keep it vague for now. I might talk about that here when I'm feeling a bit more honest... Or I may never talk about it here at all. I'm used to disclosing pretty much everything here, but the ways and extent to which I've fucked up my personal life in the last while have been pretty staggering and I'm not ready to go into it yet. Aside from that, we've had a death in the family, working on moving out of our current place and into a new one, transitions with school, trying to find a job, and a few interesting new turns my writing career is beginning to take. Two of them I'll get into right now.

So, with all that out of the way, here's a little update on the few things I'm currently able to show and tell about with my various and numerous creative babies...

"Love Buzz" illustration by Michelle Silva

First off, Love Buzz! (Or as I've begun to call it, The Book That Refused To Die) For a very long time, production and progress of most kinds have been halted on the art production of the book. Close to a year ago, we were informed by our buddies at Silent Devil that they were having to make cutbacks on their publication schedule, and several books, including Love Buzz needed to be dropped. Sad news, but it sometimes happens and with the guys at SD, whom I have and always will adore and respect, I'm glad they felt they could shoot straight with me. There are absolutely no hard feelings in this decision.

Anyway, after that point Michelle and I agreed that since we no longer had a publisher, we'd halt production on finishing the rest, because she's still in school and has a book of her own she wants to produce, so she's been doing her own thing while I've been shopping Love Buzz around to other venues. We've gotten a couple other bites, but they turned out not to be that great of a fit. Then about 4 months back, through an act of complete internet buffoonery, I managed to get a pitch into the hands of a publisher, the name of which I can't yet mention, but I've known, read from, and respected for years. They looked at the pitch for several weeks while keeping me nervous and in the dark before finally telling me they dug it and wanted it. They helped me through writing a final draft of the script and a brand new ending that may have completely rejuvinated my love for this project.

I'll announce who the publisher is as soon as I get the okay...

"Less Than Three" illustration by Chris Moreno

In other news, a little pet project of mine that I concocted back in the days that Love Buzz was still at Silent Devil is on the road to taking flight in a new form. Less Than Three, a little idea I'd briefly toyed with as a webcomic, comprised of bi-weekly short stories written by myself and illustrated by a different artist every week. Spending the last few months getting short stories I've written secured into a couple of upcoming anthology books, and seeing how the comic market has been lately, and the recent surge in interest in anthology books, I've decided to forge ahead and try and find a little niche for a little book of weird, sweet, and eclectic romance stories with me wearing the editor pants. Oh, and I've brought a lot of friends along with me!

Seriously... The talent I've been lining up for the book is pretty staggering, actually. We're talking a few A-list comic writers and artists, as well as a few of my more greenhorned contemporaries, who are by no means slouches themselves. It's exciting and fun to just see random scripts and bits of artwork pop up in my email every now and again.

Anyway, it's getting on to 4 in the morning, and I thought I'd be able to fill in all the rest of the blanks of where I've been here, but... Fuck it. I'm tired.

I'm out.