A few months back (September 2016), I stopped going to my local comic book store. It was by choice but more out of necessity. My car of 14 years was on it last legs and Julie and I needed to invest in a new one. So, in order to save up, I stopped buying my current titles. That didn’t mean that I stopped reading. It just meant I stop buying. For a little while. Car are expensive! I needed the extra funds to go towards the down payment. If I had been younger, I would have moped and groaned that I couldn’t get my fix of what was going on in my hero’s worlds. However, these days since I am older and theoretically more sophisticated, I knew that I would eventually get back over to Acme (my local store here in the Bloomington/Normal area) and finish completing my collections. I gave it no mind. Let’s jump ahead a few months now…
Two of my closest friends decided to come down and visit us before Christmas. As I was working until early evening, they decided to come down early and visit my local comic book “watering” hole. Upon getting off work and meeting with them later, they informed me that Acme was no longer in business but had been taken over by a company that has a big market in the comic book stores up north in the Chicago area, Graham Crackers. My friend Andy complained that instead of spending hundreds of dollars, he e\was only able to spend $50. A huge downgrade for him. I was shocked! Not at the spending of $50 (or hundreds for that matter) but at the change in the store’s ownership. When did this happen? I had no idea that from the time I took a comic hiatus till Christmas my comic book store world had changed! I remember raising one eyebrow at this news (much like Spock from Star Trek) and thinking I should get over there and check out the changes. The boys (what I affectionately call my two closest friends) commented that all the cool action figures were gone and the merchandise had been greatly reduced. All during dinner, in the back of my mind, I thought I needed to get over there. Fast forward to January 9th, 2017…
I had a Monday off and Julie and I decided to try to go check out the newly acquired comic book store. No dice. They did not open on Monday. My thinking is that the owner must be related to Garfield. They must hate Mondays. We did put our greasy paws and noses up against the store windows to look inside the dark and unoccupied store. It looked like the layout had been changed. There was now a wood floor. That was pretty much all I noticed…
On a Saturday, January 14th, 2017, Julie and I finally made it over to our local comic book store. We first had lunch at the Jimmy Johns (some swell veg sandwiches) before walking half a block over to the newly changed store. I say newly as it is was still new to me even though the ownership could have changed the day after my last visit in September. As this point I will never know or care. We walked in and I felt like I was walking into a wannabe comic book store. Gone were the independents. Gone were the all the cool action figures and unique t-shirts. Gone were comic book companies like Dark Horse, Dynamite, BOOM. Gone were the endless books of back issues going back to the Silver Age of Comics. Gone was the Jim, the store owner who use to have to endure listening to fans ask him stupid questions about his thoughts on the latest movie adaptation or the latest run of some new comic book story line. And gone was my happiness. I can never walk into this store again and find my missing issue(s) of The Shadow. I will never again be able to walk into this store and find a rare hidden gem of something unique! The only comics this store now carried are from DC or Marvel only! BORING! My local comic book has died.
I will no longer be supporting the local economy. All my comic funds will be diverted out of town in either Peoria IL, somewhere up north or online. Graham Crackers. You suck.
It’s Official! Tears of the Prophets by Anthony Feinman will be released November 18, 2016. So, would you like to have a FREE, SIGNED copy? Sure you would! So, from now until November 18, 2016, in order to win your FREE COPY (plus maybe some other goodies as well) become a FAN of Ink and Feathers Comics by “LIKING” the INK & FEATHERS COMICS FACEBOOK PAGE. Then leave a comment on the image your see in this post (the one above) that was posted on 10/16/16. Tell us why you like comic books and why do you keep on reading. THAT’S IT! On November 18th, 2016, we will post the winner and contact them for their mailing address. SIMPLE, HUH?
New and current fans are all welcome to participate. One copy will be awarded to ONE LUCKY WINNER!
Thanks to the advent of digital publishing, The Magic Press can now be seen by a larger audience.
Back in 2009 while Anthony was attending SAIC (School of the Art Institute of Chicago), he put together a short little comic book for one of his class assignments. He was required to come up with some characters and then to do a short comic book story for a final assignment. As Anthony was bogged down with five other classes (all wanting a final project) he decided to cheat. Well, sort of.
He had already been playing with the idea of using some of his toy stuffed animals as a starting point but he wasn’t finding the right voice for them. He still wasn’t too sure what to even call his cast of characters. (Somewhere in the past half decade, he came up with the name THE CRITTERS.) As he struggled to come up a storyline, his mind turned to stories that he remembered from his youth. He had created some fantasy stories for various grammar or high school assignment but none of them seem to fit into THIS particular assignment. Somewhere in his ideal brain, he happened to remember a story that Myke, his father, had once told him, at a young age, when he was home from school due to an illness. Myke had written down the story in a journal many years before but since decades had past, it had been long forgotten. Anthony, remembering where the story was stored, took a trip to his parent’s house and secretly scanned the pages to be transcribed at a later date. Anthony spent a few days trying to dis-cypher his father’s handwriting and finalized a working script. After a few weeks of illustrating, Anthony paginated a 10+ page comic book and turned into one of his final projects. Copies were spread on SAIC’s campus and one copy is now viewable in their artist’s library BUT not many outside of immediate family or SAIC’s community have ever viewed this story. Now finally after five years, this short story is made public.
“I’ve always intended to print this story again when I had the chance.”, states Anthony. “I figured now would good time to get it “out there”. I’ve done several more things since then with THE CRITTERS in hopes of having enough material to put together. A few months ago, I was going through copies of my old original work and there it was. I read over it again and realized that the art wasn’t TOO bad. Especially since I was trying to finish it in a short amount of time. It felt like such a shame that it may never see the light of day again.”
Another issue that Anthony feared was his lettering for the story.
“As I was rushing to reach my deadline of a final project which also required me to print it for circulation, my penmanship, in terms of lettering, started to degrade towards the last few pages. I was rushing. My only excuse was my deadline.”
Anthony decided to re-do the lettering digitally for The Magic Press. It is the only story in this new volume that has digital lettering.
“I wanted to make sure it was readable as the whole story is very important to me. Not only is it a part of my memory as a child/adolescent, but the publication also had special meaning as I made it for my father as a 50th birthday gift. Unfortunately, he got his copy a year late. ”
The gesture was no less dear when Myke finally received a copy much to his surprise.
Anthony added, “Many comic book aficionados may complain that the lettering causes a distraction now as it looks slightly off from the rest of the art. I believe my original lettering would have been more distracting if you couldn’t read what was going on. I tend to favor original hand lettering over digital especially when it comes to indie or my own art. But I think it works. It’s not perfect as my original word balloons are smaller/larger to compensate for my crappy lettering. But if the reader is only focusing on my lettering and that is the only thing that they can comment on and NOT the story after they finish, then why even bother reading? ”
Anthony, after leaving SAIC to pursue freelance work, tried a few comic strips and did to more short stories with the cast of THE CRITTERS. They have been posted on his personal Facebook page as well as an online comic through Comic Fury.com. However, with the release of this version of The Magic Press subtitled And Other Critter Stories, they are all now collected together for the first time.
“I may, at a later date, print a “dead tree” version but for now I want to see if a following forms for these little guys. If so, there may be more adventures on the way.”
The Magic Press is currently available on Amazon.com for digital download to your Kindle or PC/MAC computer/tablet. It features Anthony’s adaptation of Myke Feinman’s short story, The Magic Press plus two other short comic adventures, F.A.S.C. (Free Associated Sequential Comic) and It Happened Halloween Night. It also includes several comic strips , a few one paged two paneled jokes and a couple of pinups. The cover depicts The Magic Press‘s main character of Charlie, an eighty year old newspaper bear who runs his own print shop and newspaper in Depression Era Midwest. It is a children’s comic book/graphic novel and is suitable for all ages. (May have the word “crap” in a few times though.)
Comics are a big deal these days. Everywhere we look, pop culture tees, advertisement, both print, video and digital media, are bombarding the general populace. Plus, 2013 marks the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the best known super hero of all time, Superman. Of course, there have been other large milestones that have gone unnoticed. Characters like The Shadow and Doc Savage and other pulp heroes that spawned the current popular comic stars reached that 75th mark ages ago. But, in their own way, they were celebrated by the fans that cared. Dynamite Entertainment, just a few short years ago, obtained the rights to start printing The Shadow in comic form again which has been a huge success. So much in fact that the character has been guest starring in their other titles (Masks, Noir, The Shadow verses Grendel) and expanded the series into other ongoing books. Hence, the rights to Doc Savage were also obtained with a new series hitting comic book stores in December 2013. Sweet time for comic book fans to be introduced to the original characters! All this and more as the nerds and geeks have come to age to take over ruling the world. Businesses are jumping on the band wagon and commissioning their designers to make “comic book work” related advertising. Pop culture is very flush throughout our world. But how long with this resurgence last?
In the early to mid-nineties, the comic book industry took a big hit due to distribution technicalities. We won’t go into too many details as anything dealing with the history can be easily Googled. The lapse in bad judgement actually caused Marvel (the company that owns The X-Men, Spiderman, Thor, Avengers, ect) to declare bankruptcy and needed a boost from a toy company. Small comic book stores around the county had to close their doors as the bottom began to fall out. Comic book companies soon had to deal with a monopoly of one company, Diamond, handling all the distribution. Magazine companies (Wizard) began buying up pop culture conventions and then raising the prices for vendors to sell their wares as well as fans to enter through their doors with grandiose promises of getting their favorite actors, artists, and writers to attend. A balloon that seemed to have over expanded itself was deflating. Strange how things have changed in the past two decades. Or have they?
Diamond is still the major distributor for comic books and pop culture memorabilia (boosting that sales have been increasing of late, See Diamond Reports), Wizard still holds the market for the largest comic book conventions throughout the country and fans are still being gauged to not only attend but dish out not $1.00 for single issues of their favorites comic books two decades ago but $3.99 or more. Have things really gotten better for the nerds or all we all just deluding ourselves into thinking it’s okay? And to add salt to the wound, digital comics seem to be OUT SELLING their print editions and the comic book companies are making their comic book print editions OBSOLETE by releasing trade paper back editions of a collected series almost IMMEDIATELY after the series hits comic books stands. What’s really going on behind the scenes and why aren’t more people crying “wolf’? Because, it’s all about making the biggest profit. It use to be about producing good work. Don’t get us wrong, there are some great titles coming out with phenomenal art and stories. Of course, these people want to get paid a decent wage for their time and effort. We know that business is business and the whole point of being in business is to make profit. But how far do you need to go so you can edge out the fans that are just starting? (See Who Knew?)
It’s hip to be square in 2013 with comics now available instantaneously via your android phone, tablet, desktop or laptop computer. Sure it seems print sales are picking up, at least according to Diamond with them now allowing comic book stores to return unsold issues. This new news is actually a good thing for small comic book shop owners who are now contending with surplus and overstock of unsold comics. What we here at IF Comics want to know is how long with this new balloon last? Will the sales still see a rise after another ten years or will the fad fade again as it has done in the past. When will the general public be bored with new television series like Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D, Constantine, Gotham Central, Arrow, Flash, ect.? When is the shiny new penny going to wear out it’s shine and become tarnished by the new schmuck who wants it all? We hope the high keeps rising but we also hope that the people behind the scenes don’t pull the wool over their fans eyes and over saturate them too much. We’re already seeing it happen and it’s happening fast. Perhaps a little too fast. All for the love of money, merchandising, and fans?
This past Saturday, Julie and I attended DanCon Fall 2013. Its been a long time since we have attended a show without actually having a table. It’s kind of nice to not have the pressure of waking up at the crack of dawn, getting your merchandise together, cash box counted and settled before commuting to a show’s location. One of the main thing that we both love about attending these shows is spending time talking to the various artists/writers/creators. Even though DanCon is small show (something that IF Comics pushes in relations to starving artists..see post Attending Conventions) it makes it so much easier to visit with almost all the creators in attendance. We were only there for a scant 2+ hours and had a kicking time seeing other people’s work, discussing their ideas, soon to be ideas , as well as where the industry is heading for us all as artists. I wanted to share with everyone some of the work that we got this time around from this small pool of talent.
First up is Greg Hiatt. I am always excited to talk to creators that are really into their projects. Greg pitched his book, Dick Mummy, as Dick Tracy if he was a zombie. For me, I’m not big into the horror comic genre but I’m a fan of mysteries and anything that seems pulp-ish in nature. I have to admit just thumbing through this full color comic is visual eye candy. His work in this story is gorgeous and I look forward to divulging into this world filled with noir settings and dark yet lavish color schemes. Moon Comics has a few more titles in their arsenal and additional info can be found on their website, Moon Comics. I didn’t get a chance to ask Greg too much about his process as I was slightly distracted by his writer who was standing next to him dressed like a giant carrot. I’m sure it was promotion for their book, The Vegetable Wars. Check out their site for some previews.
Juan Gomez is the next artist we visited with and I was surprised to learn that there is a good chance he and I meet when I was in my early teens! I handed him one of IF Comics business cards and he immediately recognized Terry Freedom. A FAN FROM THE OLD DAYS! Sweet! Even though I had purchased this gorgeous rendering of the new DC 52 version of Darkseid, we ended up trading the sketch card for a copy of Blitz Howser. I am stunned to see artists create these fantastic works on canvas’ no bigger than 2.5″ x 3.5″. I myself have illustrated a few artists cards but am nowhere near the level of Juan’s artistic talent. I had to have this piece as it just stands out as extremely powerful. It just great all around. We (Julie and I) conversed with him for some time talking about his current work and his hope to start churning out content as time allows. We hope to be seeing more his work in the future as it is my belief that it needs to be shared at all costs. Check out his work via his blog: Gomez 13
Austin Allen Hamblin is a true example of someone who has been influenced to share his talent with the world through his love of comic book artists through their visual storytelling. This nineteen year old (probably the youngest exhibitor at this functioned) has been recruited to participate is an extremely noble cause, stamping out BULLYING! He was contacted by the organizer, Pam Harrison (her work can be viewed via clicking on the comic cover to the right) to contribute to this publication which is given away to kids and young teens to help them deal with bullying at school. Mainly, to let them know that they are not alone and that this type of behavior should not be tolerated in any form. An extremely noble cause as Pam sends all her contributors free copies of the books for them to distribute or sell to help cover their efforts for their contribution. Austin was even nice enough to share with Julie and I his portfolio of original comic book work from well known comic artists. His portfolio alone could easily pay for ones full semester of credit hours in college. Check out more of Austin’s work at: Hamblin Comics
As anyone knows, I am immediately drawn to anything remotely cartoony in nature. So I couldn’t pass up the chance to check out this comic with writing by Russell Lissau as well as writing and illustration work by Denver Brubaker who were both attending this con. Cats and other small animals dominate this book which will make my tiger, Nerwonduh, extremely happy while Julie’s kitty, Goobers, may sniff it as it’s something new in the house. Goobers mainly tolerates my comic collection more for the fact that I occasionally feed her once in a while. She also seems to think that I have a warm lap.
Christopher Mitten is well known for his work for Dark Horse. Julie and I have seen him at two cons so far. We first got a chance to talk to him at the Kankakee Fantasy Con this year but had to cut our chat short since we had to get back to our table to meet fans. However, since we were not displaying for the Fall show, I finally was able to grab a copy of one of his comic stories. Christopher is awesome each time we have met him, he is always glad to be out and about with humans and not stuck in his office with gallons of coffee at his disposal drawing. He also seems to like to writhe his hands together much like Mr Burns from The Simpsons. I think he needs to get out more. Regardless, he is a great illustrator and I hope to start collecting more his work when I can afford it. The downfall of being a starving artist unfortunately. His work is totally rocking! Check more of his work on his personal website: Christopher Mitten
John Metych has his whole line of comic book creations under his company Beta 3. He is writer, letterer, editor, and publisher of his work. I picked up his crossover story with previous existing characters left over from the old Malibu Comics days. Anyone remember Malibu Comics? They were based out of California and at one time published stories for a big named property called Star Trek via Paramount. Strange that they went under. Anyway, John dug up a copy of his crossover that also had a signature from his illustrator. Why did he go through the trouble? I have an extremely adorable face! Plus it helps to have a booth babe dangling from ones arm dressed like Batgirl!
I would like to include his web page however, as of this time, it’s currently having technical difficulties. In the meantime, do a Google search for Beta 3 Comics.
I saw this card on Facebook way before the show started and wanted this piece. Does it not look exactly like Brian Cranston as Walter White?
I was fortunate that no one had bought it when I found Christopher Brault sitting with his long time old friend, Andrew Winkel writer and creator of Raceboy and Super Qwok. Christopher’s work is, like all the other artists displaying this past Saturday, is fab! Check out his work on his DeviantArt Page. Also make sure to check out Raceboy and Super Qwok Adventures available as a print edition or a digital download from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Itunes. Andrew’s 300+ page is filled with short super hero adventure stories based on his four children. It’s a great read and one that people should check out and recommend for children 12 or under. Also check out Breaking Bad on AMC. Only Two episodes left!
Here are a few more artist that we got a chance to chat with but were unable to purchase as I ran out of funds. Collecting comics is like the worst vice ever!
Cory Amos is currently working on a succubus/ vampire character with an interesting twist. Check out his work at: Cory Amos
Mat Fasta does a variety of fantasy work that can be viewed at: Tiamat’s Garden
Brian Lee Martinez has a number of interesting projects lined up that I hope to see really soon. With a blend of anime and manga to his art style, I’m sure he will soon be an up and coming rising star in the indie scene. Check out his work at: Zanamaru
Thanks to all the creators for taking the time to answer my questions and share their thoughts with me. Hope we get a chance to do it again.