Indie Cover of the Day: Justice Machine Annual #1

Since discovering Justice Machine (as recounted here), I’ve had a warm spot for it in my heart, and have gone back and tracked down its various and sundry back issues over the years. Here’s the wraparound cover for Justice Machine Annual #1:

From Texas Comics, 1983. Pencils by Michael Golden, inks by Mike Gustovich.

As you can see, this thing also featured the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, and The Elementals. I wasn’t familiar with the former team, but by the time I tracked down this comics many years after it’s publication date, I was already a big Elementals fan.

I think Justice Machine probably holds the record as the comic with the most number of publishers: Noble Comics, Texas Comics, Comico, Innovation, and Millenium.

Flash Fiction – “The Facebook Excuse”

350 words, on the dot (if you don’t count my byline). Inspired by true events, as the kids say. Enjoy.

The Facebook Excuse – by Dara Naraghi

“How the hell does this guy ever get any work done?”

I felt compelled to elaborate on my outburst when she put her book down and looked over at me, her beautiful face framed by her reading glasses.

“It’s this writer I’m friends with on Facebook. Well, not really friends. I don’t even know him. He friended me and I accepted. I don’t even know why, I probably just–”

She cut me off with a simple raised eyebrow, as if to say ‘your point?

“So this guy posts stuff all the time. And not clever stuff. Not ‘writerly’ stuff. No, it’s the same stupid shit everyone else posts on Facebook: pictures of his cat, or what he’s watching on TV.” I turned my laptop to face her, in a desperate attempt to justify my outrage. “Look at his wall: posted 12 minutes ago, 30 minutes ago, 1 hour ago. It’s nonstop.”

Her reply was terse, but sincere. “So? Why do you care?”

I suddenly felt defensive, like a child called out on his misbehavior, trying to save face.

“I don’t,” I replied. “I’m just saying…it’s just that this guy self-publishes books and short story collections, on top of having a day job, and I don’t understand how he gets any work done when he’s on Facebook 24/7.”

She let me finish my rant, patient yet unmoved.

“Weren’t you working on your script?”

“I was. I mean, I am. I just took a little break and saw this asshole was at it again.”

“OK, I understand it’s frustrating,” she offered. “But we both know the answer’s simple: unfriend him, and direct your energy back to your own work.”

I felt my lips part, as if to argue, but instead they curled into an appreciative smile. She responded with one of her own, accented with a wink, before returning to her book.

As I went back to my writing, I tried not to think about all the time I’d wasted obsessing needlessly over some stranger.

Instead, I thought about how damn cute she looked with her reading glasses.

Indie Cover of the Day: Aliens #1

Following through with the Alien theme from yesterday, today the spotlight is on Aliens #1, art by Mark A. Nelson:

Published by Dark Horse Comics, 1988. Even though this mini-series was in black & white, it sold amazingly well and started that company’s long line of licensed movie tie-ins, including Predator, Terminator, and of course, Star Wars.

By the way, Mark Nelson was a fantastic artist, but I think he dropped out of comics soon after this series.

Indie Cover of the Day: Zombies! Hunters #1

OK, I went a whole week without any self-serving posts in this feature, but what the heck, it’s my blog after all. So today’s featured cover(s) are for a limited series I wrote for IDW Publishing back in 2008, when my professional career was just starting out:

Both the regular cover (left) and variant cover (right) were by the interior artist Don Figueroa.

Here’s the official solicitation for the 5 issue limited series:

“On a remote Caribbean island, four wealthy thrill-seekers come to stalk the most dangerous game on the planet: the living dead. But with an ex-CIA commander as the showrunner and a Haitian voodoo priest providing the prey, things on this outlaw safari are bound to go wrong. Very wrong! Don Figueroa (Transformers) steps away from robots and gets his hands dirty by handling full art chores on this new series penned by Dara Naraghi (Lifelike, Igor Movie Prequel).”

Unfortunately, due to a confluence of events, the series was cancelled after issue #1. Too bad. I was actually having a lot of fun writing it, despite the fact that I’m not a big horror/zombie fan. Oh well, so it goes.

Indie Cover of the Day: The Replacement God #1

From the awesomely talented Zander Cannon:

I loved his work with Gene Ha on Alan Moore’s Top 10 series, and the spinoff mini-series Smax. But I haven’t seen his name attached to too many projects lately, which is a shame.

Anyway, this clever and humorous fantasy series was written and drawn by Cannon, and published by Amaze Ink (an imprint of Slave Labor Graphics, used mainly to get the publisher’s books listed closer to the front of the Diamond catalog) in 1995. It follows the adventures of a slave boy named Knute, his many attempts at escape from a dungeon, and an epic story involving finding a replacement for the God of Death. I loved the quirky and charming characters, and Cannon’s fluid, pleasing artwork on this book.

The series went for 8 issues. There was a second series called The Replacement God and Other Stories that came out through Image in 1997, with the final issue (#6) self-published by Cannon under his Handcraft Guild banner. There’s also a trade collection of the first series that’s well worth tracking down.

Indie Cover of the Day: Last of the Viking Heroes #1

Created and drawn by Michael Thibedeaux, with a first issue cover by Jack “The King” Kirby and Michael Thibedeaux:

This series was published by Genesis West, starting in March, 1987. As the cover would indicate, it’s a colorful, fun, and often tongue-in-cheek fantasy adventure story starring a motley crew of vikings, magicians, and barbarians. What the cover doesn’t show you, which future installment will, is the high cheesecake/good girl art factor of the series.

Indie Cover of the Day: Nemesis the Warlock, vol. 1

A book like this could only come from the mind and pen of a couple of Brits:

Written by Pat Mills, and drawn by Kevin O’Neill. This is the cover of the collected volume 1, from Titan Books. I believe the original Nemesis shorts ran in the 2000 A.D. anthology. The duo would go on to create the mind-blowing and mean spirited superhero parody, Marshal Law, which I’ll feature here at some point.

Kieron Gillen on comic book economics

Six years ago, writer Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie broke onto the comics scene with their well-reviewed Image mini-series, Phonogram. Since then, they have both moved on to better paying gigs at Marvel. But despite all the critical acclaim the series brought them, it’s depressing to hear the actual details of how little money they made off of it. Here’s Gillen, from a Comics Alliance interview a couple of years ago:

I feel frustrated. Enormously lucky, sure, but frustrated. We’ve done this wonderful thing we’re crazy-proud about. But if the whole economic system was just a couple of degrees to the left, everything would have been different. I mean, just to give you an idea about narrow the margins are between what we are and what we could be, if we were selling 6K instead of 4K, we could have done those 44 issues. The difference between breaking even and actually being able to do it in comics is insane. It’s like being kept under ice, clawing.

And this, from earlier in the piece:

There’s a difference between making only a little money and starving. We’re very much in the latter. Jamie’s lucky to get a couple of hundred dollars from an issue. While he didn’t tell me about this until after it was all done, there were three occasions when Jamie was seriously considering throwing in the towel. The problem is that Image’s deal is a back-end one. Will we make some money off the trade? Maybe. And that’s a big maybe.

That was in response to the “why not wait for the trade paperback income?” question. Since all profits from creator-owned Image comics are on the back-end, that means the creative team has to wait about three months or more from when they actually write/draw the book to see it get published, and get paid. If there’s any payment (remember, with the Image deal, they get to recoup their $2500 fee from the book’s profits first, then the creators get paid…or in many cases, are actually in the hole). Waiting for the TPB of your first arc to come out means a good 6-9 month wait before seeing any payment from that.

And this is for a series that had quite a lot of buzz, and was selling in the 4K range. One look at Diamond’s sales figures will show you that most Image books don’t even do those numbers.

Depressed yet?

The take away: you’d best be in this for the love, not the money.

Indie Cover of the Day: Darkewood #1

Darkewood #1 of 5, cover art by Adrian Kleinbergen.

Young Dara was a voracious fantasy novel reader, and would try any and all fantasy comics he could find as well. Unfortunately, there were (and sill are) very few good ones. Nevertheless, although I don’t remember a thing about this series by writer Gordon (Warlock 5) Derry, I do remember the very colorful, stylized airbrushed artwork by Kleinbergen.

Published by Aircel comics, 1987.

Indie Cover of the Day: Airboy #1

Chuck Dixon, Tim Truman, and company brought back the Golden Age comic book character Airboy for adventures set firmly in the present day of 1986.

This cover is by Stan Woch & Tim Truman, and the series was published by Eclipse Comics. It went on to last 50 issues, which is a very healthy run. Moonstone Comics is currently publishing some black-and-white Airboy anthologies, but they’re nowhere near the quality and scope of this color series. Anyway, I’ll be visiting Airboy many more times in this feature, as it always had some great, action-packed covers.

Indie Cover of the Day: Border Worlds #1

I was aware of Donald Simpson and his humor/parody title Megaton Man, but this series was the first of his works that I read.

Border Worlds was published in 1986 by Kitchen Sink press. It was a very complex, mature science fiction tale, illustrated in a dark, gritty manner by Simpson. I remember really digging it, and would like to re-read it one of these days, if I ever find the time.