Indie Comics Showcase #42: Special ComicsGate Edition

Welcome back to another installment of Indie Comics Showcase! John Lemus is covered up in, well, life! So I get to post this week’s Indie Comics Showcase, and I hope you approve. I have three projects of decidedly PRO-ComicsGate creators who each have very unique projects they hope you’ll support, and I think you’ll find them all to be excellent choices every week! Now let’s dive in!


The Case of the Littlest Umbrella
by That Umbrella Guy

It’s a tale of Lovecraftian-based mystery, paying homage to the things that go bump in the night! The tale begins with the idea of madness and something more trying to enter our world, and revolves around a certain detective and the cutest unwitting sidekick trying to stop it! The creative team wanted to create something EVERYONE could love and enjoy, and the writer also wanted to be able to give something to his daughter to enjoy as well. Click the image below to check out the campaign page! 

Chris: Before we get into your comic, tell us a bit about yourself. How did you first get into comics?

TUG: I’ve been around comics since I was little. VERY little. My first comic memory comes at around 3, when my grandfather – a veteran of WWII and a man of few words – walks me into a store and picks up a comic, saying “here you go.” It was GI COMBAT. I loved the stories inside looked and felt, the way they connected to the lore my grandfather had told me of his own war experiences. To my father and later memories of him in the military abroad and riding in a tank.

This developed into a love for other titles. Conan. Arak. Heroes. Villains. And a love for the medium that spanned decades. I don’t know if the medium is like this for everyone, but there are some issues I open up and still see the departed there with me, with their images etched into some unspoken fine print immortalized on specific pages. The print beyond print, I suppose. My grandfather and grandmother reside there. My father and other loved ones.

Gone, but immortalized on pages connecting to times we perhaps can’t go back to, but we can remember – and fondly.

Chris: Nice. Love those old war and sword and sandals comics! Now give me the elevator pitch for Littlest Umbrella…

TUG: The pitch is this. All-ages Lovecraftian, meaning for all audiences and especially those with a love for horror, exploring the summoning of something and the team that’s called on to stop it. Now, I make no effort to hide the fact that I am a family man; I livestream with my 5-year-old daughter in segments called storytime, so the connection to all audiences is important to me. As I noted before, I got into comics when I was a kid, but also – my grandfather brought me there. Additionally, I wanted to leave something behind for her, so she can look back and say “my dad and his Comicsgater friends were crazy, but he loved me a lot.” That’s also why we have the ashcan The Goodie Bird attached as well, which is a satirical take on Comicsgate. It pokes a little fun here and goofs off there, but its primarily to say “we were here.”

Chris: What have been some of your influences in this creation?

TUG: As far as influences, I’ve drawn from multiple mediums. Print was my first love for the longest, so I remember those authors and their contributions. Lovecraft. Campbell. Clark Ashton Smith. Laymon. Ketchum. There are decades of novelists, prose writers, comic creators; more.

Chris: Cool. Tell me about your creative team!

TUG: The team members I get to work with are TALENT personified. For Littlest Umbrella, its myself and Keung Lee, and working with him is great. The process has been fun, too, and also eye opening for me. I’m a novice, so guys like him bail me out more than I can count. I also have Kyle Ritter coloring the cover, which is going to be amazing. For Goodie Bird, Peter Gilmore is an absolute beast. Seriously – THAT GUY should be on droves of projects by now.

Chris: And what has the overall production process been like? Digital, pen and ink, smoke signals…?

TUG: Hand painted. The letter. Character details. Humor. Sarcasm. He’s a legend.

Chris: I’m loving the art, but I am also a fan of Keung. Changing topics here, on your long-running Youtube channel, you’ve been a harsh critic of other creators, mainly about their own lack of self-control on social media and it has created a small group of outspoken critics of you for your criticisms. Tell me how you’ve dealt with their anger and antics in response to this project?

TUG: Lol, critics. If that’s what we’re calling that specific subset I’m thinking of, you’re doing them a kindness. As far as critics, though, I don’t mind criticism or insults for that matter. Idiot. Moron. Hack. Loser. That stuff is expected from a lot of people bc that’s how the internet works, but especially that tiny pool of folks. I mean, many of the worst folks brigading again “comicsgate” represent dying commodities and mindsets so many of us bypassed in favor of people that appreciate consumers.

TUG: As for the consumers – they have helped me a LOT with suggestions on things I messed up, should add, and more. That will help me in the future, so that is MUCH appreciated. One more thing about that group of “critics,” though; the thing I do mind is when those sinking with the comic industry ship tries to mass flag projects out of existence, brandish labels like “hate group” to destroy reputations and hopefully tarnish occupational endeavors, or take things to levels I’ve NEVER seen. I mean, I’ve seen it happen to other large creators like Richard Meyer or Ethan Van Sciver, to but actually experience these things; its surreal. The high point in this “criticism” for me, for example, was contacting a lawyer and having an in-depth conversation so he would contact a governmental agency to make sure these folks dont follow through on threats to target my family and child – over a comic book. Its like dealing with threats of swatting, or this is weaponizing a system that can cause trauma and impact live for years. Now, the flip side of that is that people see these “critics” doing it, too, and more and more walk away from them and toward us in that. And we – we creators they move toward can’t let them down.

Chris: Well said. What’s next for that Umbrella Guy? 

TUG: Next; I’m not sure. I have three things in mind; an atmospheric horror tale, something I’m still conceptualizing, and an homage to weebwars/animegate. I really want that last one. That and being good to the folks that put me in the place to do this – from family support to the communities I cherish. 8. I would say to keep demanding more AND keep building alternatives to the mainstream OR indie pros that do not respect you/us as consumers. The mainstream industry forgot and insulted us for years now and make it perfectly clear where they stand. instead of asking politely for them to reconsider, we should walk away from them and do our own thing. That’s what many of us are doing, and many others are supporting.

Chris: Thanks for taking the time to tell us about the project. I know by the time most people read this the campaign will be close to ending. Is there anything you want to share with our readers before we sign off?

TUG: If you’re not there already, join us. Support something better.

Chris: Well said. Check out their crowdfunding campaign hereand follow That Umbrella Guy on Twitter @

Shinobi Sasquatch
by Cal Jameson

Nearly 80 years ago, a chance encounter between a Japanese ninja master fleeing internment camps and a curious young sasquatch would result in a decades-long friendship and the first bigfoot to ever become a ninja. Years later, that same bigfoot would find himself in a fight with an ancient werewolf, leaving him cursed with lycathropy. Now, Shinobi Sasquatch, the Pacific Northwest’s most fearsome protector, must race against time to save the whole region from an evil cult bent on enslaving it. Click the image below to check out their campaign page!

Chris: Before we get into your Shinobi Sasquatch comic, tell us a bit about yourself. How did you first get into comics?

Cal: Well, I’m a husband and father, a conservative and a Christian. I’m a worship director by profession, actually. For the uninitiated, that’s basically the front man of the church band. So, I’m an odd combination, horror fiction writer and minister. I was a late bloomer when you look at a lot of guys my age who started reading Marvel and DC as kids. I was about 20 when I discovered comics, and it was through Image, pretty soon after they started. I was probably at the comic shop to buy D&D or Rifts books. I know I used to browse the comic stands, but nothing ever jumped out at me, I guess. Until I found Spawn.

Chris: Who were your first influences in comics? Who inspired you?

Cal: It was Todd McFarlane and Greg Capullo who drew me into the medium, then Jim Lee with WildC.A.T.s, Marc Silvestri with The Darkness and Witchblade, Stephen Platt and Rob Liefeld on Prophet, J. Scott Campbell on Gen 13, and on and on. Those early Image books really mesmerized me. Pretty soon, I was reading a lot of Marvel too. I was there for the Marvel vs. DC event and the resulting Amalgam Comics. And who didn’t love the Wolverine/Batman amalgam?

Cal:Then Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing run showed me that comics can, in fact, contain genius writing, and Frank Miller captivated me with Dark Knight Returns. So, that’s pretty much my intro into reading and collecting, but it wasn’t long before I was trying to make my own comics, with only raw drawing talent and no writing skill at all. My buddy and I would get press passes to SDCC from a friend and try to get up the courage to show out portfolios. I’m so thankful I never did!

It turned out I didn’t have the drive to hone my drawing talent into a marketable skill, and then I discovered music and thus my career path so far.
It was only about five tears ago I decided to get back into creating comics, this time as a writer, and I’ll tell you what, I’m a lot better at writing than I am drawing. Although, that’s not saying much.

Chris: Great talents all! Now give me the elevator pitch for Shinobi Sasquatch?

Cal: A bigfoot, trained as a ninja and cursed with lycanthropy, hunts evil—both natural and supernatural—and thwarts the schemes of a wicked old-god-worshipping cult, called the aWOKEn Souls Society (A.S.S.).

In book one, Shinobi Sasquatch discovers one of these schemes, concocted by the insidious Wade DeMarco, the head of the A.S.S.’s Portland Branch. DeMarco plans to use an ancient relic called the Broken Jaw of the Lost Soul to steal the minds and souls of everyone in the region and mobilize them as an army to conquer the nation, then the world.

Chris: Sounds unique! What has inspired you to create this? And did any of those creators influence your work on Shinobi Sasquatch?

Cal: I created Shinobi Sasquatch as an experiment. Inspired by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I wanted to create a character with multiple unlikely traits which would work together to create a unique, easily identifiable character. Once I had the concept, I started thinking along the lines of Samurai Jack in terms of tone, and I think some of that remains in the current iteration. My goals were humble at first. I was planning to draw it myself and post it on WEBTOONS for free, but the one promo image I posted, with my bad art, got enough positive attention that I decided to keep the concept and find a real artist. The title was originally, Ninja Werewolf Bigfoot, Demonslayer M.D., but once Rob signed on, we shortened and streamlined the title, and dropped the doctor angle altogether.

Major influences include all the Image guys listed above, as well as a more recent love of mine, Hellboy. I discovered Mike Mignola and Hellboy only about five years ago but have since become a superfan. Also, Scott Snyder, as well as TV shows such as X-Files and Supernatural, and films like Big Trouble in Little China and Payback, have been major influences.

Chris: Can you tell us a bit about your creative team?

Cal: The team is Rob Willis on pencils and inks. It’s a miracle that Rob isn’t already working in comics, but I’m thankful he’s not! Rob turned down several pitches before he read and accepted mine, and now he’s a full partner. If Shinobi Sasquatch gets an animated adaptation, movie deal, toys, whatever, Rob gets half. I am incredibly grateful he chose to work with me.

On colors, we have the amazing Paul Bilick. Paul hails from Ukraine and is another undiscovered gem. Paul saw that we were considering hiring a colorist and sent me a message. We gave him a practice piece, which he colored and impressed the hell out of us, and he quickly got the job.

Cal: Tell me a little about your creative process.

Cal: My writing process is probably a lot more rigid and structured than a lot of comic writers. I learned how to write for screen before getting back into comics, and I’ve written longform prose as well, so I have carried over a lot of that training, which I honestly wish more comics writers would do. We would get more consistently satisfying stories.

Anyway, I usually write character-driven stories rather than plot-driven, so I first create a character, then give him or her a goal or a desire, something to drag them out of their normal lives and into the narrative. Once I have those pieces, I begin outlining. My outlines are very complete, which makes scripting a lot easier and faster. I go into scripting already knowing how many pages each scene will be and the book as a whole will be. I do shift things around in the process, but generally, my scripts adhere pretty closely to my outlines.

My goal is always, first, to tell a great story, and I infuse almost every single thing I write with three elements, I call the Three H’s: Horror, Humor, and Heart. Horror and humor are my favorite genres, and I love seeing them mixed, so I try and always have the right balance for every story. The most important element, though, is heart. Just like a person, a story without a heart is doomed to die.

Lastly, though I am a principled person with strong convictions and beliefs, you’ll never see that in my stories. There will be elements of my worldview, obviously—can’t get away from that—but Story is king. This is escapist entertainment, not a pulpit or podium.

Chris: Thanks for sharing all that, Cal! Is there anything you want to share with our readers before we sign off?

Cal: Yeah! I have a YouTube channel—just search Cal Jameson, I’m the only one, I believe—where I share writing tutorials and the occasional commentary on pop culture. I’m on a short break because the IndieGoGo campaign is eating up a lot of time, but I’ll be back soon with another writing video, as well as some lore videos, going into some of the worldbuilding for Shinobi Sasquatch. I would love for folks to come and check out the content, and subscribe if they see value in doing so.

Chris: Thanks for talking with us, Cal!

Cal: Thank you so much for the interview, and for featuring Shinobi Sasquatch!

Check out their campaign page here!

 

Lonestar: Soul of the Solider

by Mike S. Miller

A fallen soldier is reborn a secret super-agent fighting for the innocent against the darkest evil!

Click the image below to check out the ongoing campaign page!

Chris: Mike, before we get into your comic, tell us a bit about yourself. How did you first get into comics?

Mike: Ah, the old days. I was in third grade, and had started taking Tae Kwan Do at a local studio (West Coast TKD shout out!), and across the street was a 7-11. I would go there on breaks or waiting for my mom to pick me up, and look at the comics on the spinner rack. But I don’t recall actually buying any until I went to the mall across the OTHER street, and walking into Comics and Fantasies… A whole store full of comics. It was life changing. I was always an artist, even then, but comics gave me a whole new interest for my drawing.

Chris: That’s great. Now give me the elevator pitch for Lonestar #2 Soul of a Soldier…

Mike: Lonestar, a reborn super soldier who fights against the things that go bump in the night with his squadron of Unknown Soldiers. Vol. 2: Soul of the Soldier ups the stakes for Lonestar as the Vampire leader he let escape in the first volume creates a new horde, hell bent on revenging the death of his family at the hands of Lonestar’s squad!

Chris: What has inspired you to create this?

Mike: Donald J. Trump. Weirdly, that’s the truth. When Trump was elected, I felt this surge of hope that I hadn’t had for a long time. It felt like it was time to dust off the characters and stories I’d been tooling with for decades, and finally put them to paper. I began working on my own patriotic hero, making him the foil of my greatest villain: The Iron Cross! I always believed that you could judge a hero by their villains, so having already created the worlds greatest super villain, the Nazi ubermensche, creating a hero to combat him would make that hero the greatest hero ever! So along with the Iron Cross story I had written some two decades past, I took my vampire trilogy I had dubbed ‘Bloodborne’ back in 2000, and my ‘James Bond meets G.I.Joe’ story, ‘The Unknown Soldiers’ which I created about 15 years ago after befriending a spec ops veteran, and I threw them all in a blender to make a rich, dense backstory for my ultimate patriotic super hero. And thus was born the story of LONESTAR!

Chris: Haha! That’s great. Do you have further stories planned?

Mike: I do!

Chris: Tell us a bit about your creative team.

Mike: I write. I draw. I ink. But enough about me. I send the book to Roland Mann for edits, he was my editor at Malibu comics back in the early 90’s, and he’s been teaching writing down in Florida for some time. My colorist is J. Nanjan Jamberi, a guy who runs a studio in India, and who I brought on board to color Injustice, Game of Thrones, and Meg. He’s a go-to with incredible modeling skills. Lettering is by my go-to designer, Bill Tortolini, who has been with me on projects like The Hedge Knight and all my Dunk and Egg books, through my Alias titles, and back here today. It’s an all-pro team better than anything the ‘big 2’ can cobble together these days.

Chris: And what has the overall production process been like? Digital, pen and ink, smoke signals…?

Mike: The artwork is done traditionally. Pencil to paper, ink to paper, scanned then colored digitally on the other side of the world. Lettered digitally, which is good for future translations to foreign markets, but it’s sad that I can’t have lettering on the page, that’s such a great look for original art…

Chris: I agree, but it’s a new age. Let’s change gears a bit. You’ve been an outspoken Christian, sometimes an imperfect one your social media platforms for a while now, which has attracted lots of criticism from your detractors. Tell me how you’ve dealt with their anger and antics in response to this project?

Mike: Sometimes imperfect? LOL. Always imperfect! But I try. I just kind of laugh them off now. They can’t get me kicked off of Indiegogo the way they could complain to editors who already disagreed with my stances on religion and politics. They don’t have the power to bully me into silence. So their efforts, no matter how vile or egregious… Sure, they got me twitter jailed for 12 hours once, but I know the rules there, so I’ve been toeing that line. I expect some day Youtube will shut me down for my beliefs, or demonetize my channel the way they do to people they dislike… but that’s why I’m for getting decentralized platforms into the limelight. Even if they’re imperfect now, they can grow. Heck, Youtube started as an online dating site. You never know what the next giant platform will be. It’s the internet age, things change all the time.

Chris: I like your attitude. So what’s next for Mike S. Miller? Comicsgate was predicted by some to be a flash in the pan, a scam, a hate mob, grifters, and a tiny group of trolls. What has Comicsgate become as far as you’re concerned?

Mike: You know, I still agree with Ethan Van Sciver and Edwin Boyette, and all the voices who were saying that Comicsgate is a CONSUMER movement. Well, it’s really more of a consumer market. It’s a group of consumers who want quality entertainment without identity politics gumming up their enjoyment of comics. And I don’t think you can stop that. The Anti-CG people keep trying to paint CG as haters and all you said, but they’re just full of it. They’re full of anger and resentment and rage because they can’t control the medium if we are doing our own thing. They want to shoe-horn identity politics into every comic at Marvel and DC? Go ahead. That ship has sailed and struck the ice burg already. We’re just here on our raft, heading to that island where thousands… tens of thousands of consumers have been waiting for us to arrive. Well, here we come, and nobody can stop us from getting our books into your hands, but us.

And the post office.

Chris: Well put. Is there anything you want to share with our readers before we sign off?

Mike: Just that… I know that the fans have been abused and taken for granted for decades now, and in large part that is why so many have left the hobby. Marvel thinks you can pump out whatever twaddle they want to and push whatever political agenda they want to, and hard core collectors who HAVE TO HAVE every issue of whatever character will still buy. Well, we care, because we are fans. I don’t draw comics because it’s the most money I can make using my skillset. I know how much money I could make in video games, in advertising, in storyboarding… I draw comics because I’m a fan. I love the medium. And I hope that some day I have as many fans as Marvel, because I promise I won’t ever take them for granted.

Chris: Thanks Mike! Looking forward to the new book. Check out his campaign here! You can still get the first book as one of the tiers.

That’s it for this week folks! Do what we do here at Bleeding Fool and SUPPORT INDIE COMICS!

 


Be sure to follow Indie Comics Showcase on Twitter at @Indie_Comics!

Chris Braly

I'm a collector, a speculator, and one opinionated, based geek. My friends call me Braly, but those who know me within the hobby generally refer to me as Bralinator. I can be heard monthly on the Comic Book Page Previews Spotlight podcast with several other comic book nerds. Follow me on Twitter @ChrisBraly