Mar 032015
 
I'm pleased to announce that the Femme Noir team - Yours Truly, artist Joe Staton, inker Rick Burchett, and colorist Matt Webb - have begun production of a new Femme Noir miniseries, "Cold, Dead Fingers."  I can't say when it will be finished, but I'm hopeful that it will be completed this year, and probably see print in 2016. No publisher yet, but I have been having some encouraging discussions.

To celebrate this new beginning, I thought you folks might like to take a look at the first page of our forthcoming supernatural crime saga. To make it more special, I'm going to share with you the process that we employ in making our Femme Noir funnybooks.

I. It Begins With The Word: In this case, I wrote a detailed plot, breaking down the storytelling in some detail. No dialogue or captions as yet - I write those after I have Joe's penciled pages in hand; as I am the letterer as well as writer, I basically do both at the same time. Here's how the plot described this first splash page:
PANEL 1. And here we go…. We begin with a movie poster-styled splash page. In the center of the image is a full-length shot of Le Femme, hat pulled down low, guns in hands, trenchcoat whipping in the wind. Behind her is a sketched in Port Nocturne skyline. On the left, there’s a huge, spookily-lit “ghostly” head shot of our brutish killer – in this iteration, he’s called “Crusher” Corrigan – and below him, a full-length image of mad scientist Dr. Karl Boroff. On the right hand side of the page, opposite Corrigan’s scary melon, is an equally spooky “ghost” head of Madame Morella MaCabre. Below her, opposite of Boroff, is a full-length figure of plainclothes dick Lt. Rod Riley, pistol drawn.

Below that, room for the title lettering – ‘COLD, DEAD FINGERS’ - and a breathless introductory caption.
II. Joe's Deadly Pencil: From this florid description, Joe draws the page in pencil, employing his considerable talent and experience, working his magic:

FN_CD_01_01A

Joe then e-mails me a lo-res jpeg to review. Once I've looked it over, and am sure that we're both happy with it, Joe then e-mails the page as a hi-res image file to...

III. Putting The Noir In Femme Noir: ...inker Rick Burchett. Joe and Rick have worked together numerous times before, perhaps most memorably on the 1980s incarnation of E-Man. In this case, Rick is applying his atmospheric blacks digitally, using his Cintique tablet.

FN_CD_01_01B

Once completed, Rick sends jpeg files to both Joe and I to see if we have any notes. If everything's cool, as it is here, the image is then sent on to our last teammate.

IV. Dangerous Hues: Colorist Matt Webb gets his hands on the page next, and with the original script for reference (and having colored several Femme Noir adventures before), Matt digitally - and dramatically - colors the page.

FN_CD_01_01c

Nice, huh? Once again, a lo-resolution copy of the colors is sent out for approval of all and sundry. Then, it all comes back to me.

V. The Final Words With the finished page in my e-mail box, I take it into Photoshop and fit it into the appropriate page template. Having scripted the dialogue - or in this case, caption - when I got the pencils, I then do the lettering in Illustrator. Finally, I drop the text in on the page back in Photoshop...  and voilà!

FNOIR_CDF_01_01

So that's how we do it. Repeat for pages 2, 3, 4 and so on... until the book is complete.

Stay tuned here for future Femme Noir updates, sneak peeks and announcements (which will always appear here first!).
Jan 152015
 
It was just a little over two months ago that the hardboiled crime comic that I created with artist Rick Burchett, Gravedigger, concluded its online serialization. At the time, I speculated that we wouldn't have to wait long for the character's return... and here it is.

Rick and I have just signed with Action Lab Entertainment's "Danger Zone" mature readers imprint, to bring the two existing Gravedigger sagas - "The Scavengers" and "The Predators" - to both print and digital formats in 2015. The stories will be presented in a three-issue comic book miniseries format and as a digital edition on Comixology. Action Lab will be making their own announcement soon, and there will be more details revealed then.

The release dates haven't been set yet, but you can be sure I'll be plugging the hell out of the book when the time comes!
Nov 082012
 
Technically, this is Limited Collector's Edition C35, a "Treasury Sized" collection of Captain Marvel comic book stories reprinted by DC Comics in 1975. This photo cover features actor Jackson Bostwick who portrayed the World's Mightiest Mortal for two seasons of the Filmation Saturday morning Shazam! television series. I've been revisiting the 1974-76 series on DVD this past couple of weeks, and I remembered having this oversized comic when I was a kid. (FYI - I'll be reviewing the newly-released Warner Archive Shazam! DVD set over at my DVD Late Show and Space: 1970 blogs shortly.)
Jul 162012
 
Well, I know absolutely nothing about this new, forthcoming comic book incarnation of Buck Rogers except that writer/artist Howard Chaykin is involved, and that this Chaykin-drawn poster made its debut at Comic-Con this past week.

From the outfits, it looks like the project is going to harken back more to the original 30s comic strip than the recent Dynamite Comics series did -- which is a good thing in my book. It's been a long time since I had much interest in any new comics (even ones based on favorite characters, like Buck), but I used to be quite the Chaykin fan, so.... color me intrigued.

I look forward to hearing/seeing more... hell, I even broke down and bought the first Dynamite Buck Rogers trade, eventually.
Mar 012012
 
And, in celebration of "Creator-Owned Comics Day," here's 5-page Femme Noir sampler by yours truly, Dick Tracy artist Joe Staton, Mark Stegbauer and Michael Watkins, an action-packed, tongue-in-cheek tribute to one of my favorite Poverty Row Bela Lugosi pictures. This short originally appeared in the 2009 Free Comic Book Day special from Ape Entertainment. (I've actually posted this story here on the blog before, back in '09, but the images were hosted elsewhere and have since disappeared...)

And, of course, the trade paperback collection of the first Femme Noir comic book miniseries, The Dark City Diaries, is still available.

Femme Noir: Dark City Diaries
Mar 012012
 
This short comic story was originally created several years ago when the ultra-talented Jon Plante and I were doing the weekly webcomic version of the interplanetary swashbuckler, Perils On Planet X, at the short-lived AdventureStrips website. Steve Conley offered us 4 pages in the back of his terrific Astounding Space Thrills comic book to give his readers a taste of the Planet X strip. Unfortunately, everything kinda collapsed at that point, the webcomic disappeared, and the short story above never saw print.

A couple years later, I teamed up with the equally ultra-talented Gene Gonzales to reinvent
Perils On Planet X as a comic book/graphic novel. That version has also had a tumultuous, start-and-stop history so far, but... I'm hopeful that we will wrap up the first storyline ("Volume 1") this year and finally get it out to the world - probably in both print and digital form. Gene and I have been working out a plan, and I'm optimistic. Stay tuned for announcements in the months to come.

This 4-pager was designed simply to provide a quick intro to the POPX world and characters. It does give the first glimpse of the raknyri - the deadly scorpion-men of the planet Xylos - and if I ever get around to writing the second and third "volumes" of the epic POPX trilogy I have lodged in my head, we'll be seeing a lot more of those critters.


I hope you enjoy it, and Jon's unique artwork.