Definitely Out Of Print: Old Comic Book Projects

An overview of my first twenty-odd years of comic book-making (1990-2012): eighteen-odd attempts to entertain you! You know the old saying – If you can’t beat ’em, drown ’em.

Broken Lines (1995-2012)

Years before 2018’s Broken Lines became a renowned and beloved illustrated novel, it was like, ten other things? It began in the mid-’90s as a handful of one-page photocopied comics I hung up on telephone poles around my hometown. In the early aughts, I conceived of it as a large comic/text story divided into four parts, featuring guest artists (tan cover). I scrapped that and decided to do a square-format comic book. Between 2008 and 2011, I self-published seven 48-page issues comprising eight chapters of story. Then, before the story was complete, I went back and re-edited chapters 1-6 and released them as a squarebound graphic novel (green cover). Then, in a stroke of savvy genius, I scrapped it all again and rebooted the project as a true prose-centered illustrated novel, which took another four years to complete. This project sucked up much more of my life than it should have: I just couldn’t stop jamming more ideas into it.

★ Hundreds of pages, out of print
★ Read reviews of different incarnations of Broken Lines

Famous Fighters (2006)

From the inside cover: Welcome to the amazingly adventurous multiverse of FAMOUS FIGHTERS – hardy heroes of unknown origins who clash in the eternal quest for ultimate superiority in the fighting arena! Watch these brave brothers of battle bruise their nasty nemeses! Read tremendous tales of incredible confrontations of eternal foes! Bear witness to their berserking bloodbaths as they tear across the killing fields of their own mutilated destruction! FIGHT! FIGHT!

Throughout mankind’s battle-scarred history, the great and fearsome FAMOUS FIGHTERS have longed to fill the Halls of the Dead with the damned souls of their enigmatic enemies! Barbarians! Robots! Demons! Headbangers! Zombies! Recapitated heroes with penultimate powers beyond imagination! At mortal odds under the blood-soaked banner of world domination, these valiant warriors of dark demonic destruction shall never yield! They are FAMOUS! They are FIGHTERS! They are FAMOUS FIGHTERS!

A collection of vaguely superheroish comics written and illustrated by Matt Smith and me. Un-notable: All the stuff I drew. Notable: The first appearances of the poet-warrior Barbarian Lord.

★ 54 pages, out of print
★ Read reviews of Famous Fighters

Failure, Incompetence (2006)

Aborted Jokes & Abandoned Stories
Failure, Incompetence was a dense pile of idea-making, showcasing several attempts at full stories, a selection of 1-panel comic strips, and previously-published material from zines. I released a green cover version in 2006 and an updated orange cover version in 2010. A small selection of this material made it into Everything You Didn’t Ask For but I decided to let it fade out of print.

“…gags by the pound…” – QUIMBY’S

★ 48 pages, out of print
★ See all Failure reviews

Watch the Failure book trailer, featuring my Keanu Reeves remix:

Even Lions Will Fear You, OPT10, & OPT11 (2009, 2010, 2011)

Annual collections of my two comic strips, Whiskey! Tango! Foxtrot! and The Optimist. Short run comics I made for events. They were eventually superseded by Everything You Didn’t Ask For. And really, no one asked for any of this.

Through The Wood, Beneath The Moon (1998) & Alec Dear (1996)

The blurb: Find out what Alec Dear, the mischievous gasmask-wearing dead guy does when he finds himself in the burn victim unit of a secluded children’s hospital!

Zowie fun times! I wrote Alec Dear while sitting behind the cash register at an All For A Dollar store in a mall in the early ’90s (a perfect setting to write grotesque horror, if you ask me). I tried drawing it, but knew my good buddy Matt Smith had more talent and vision than I did, so he took on the art side of things. We somehow received a Xeric grant for the project, and independently released it in 1996.

In 1998, after we revised the art and writing and made it super-awesomer, Caliber Comics released it as Through The Wood, Beneath The Moon. I failed to request a proof copy, and it was published with several completely avoidable typos. Lesson learned.

We both loved the Alec Dear character. I wrote and Matt half-illustrated a pretty fantastic story about Alec going to Hell and becoming the new Satan, but the project was never completed. Here is a 15-page excerpt: Midnight At The Crossroads. Alec also appeared in The Edification Of Young Chet, an eight-page story in Aftertaste magazine in 1998. OUT OF PRINT

★ 1996/1998, out of print
★ Read reviews of AD & TTWBNM

La Luna es Negra (1996)

Another 30-odd page comic issue I completed and then never showed anyone. A precursor to Broken Lines – featuring Cowboy, a full-sized Spaceman, and… a drunk guy named Frank? As a reaction against the poor ballpoint pen art of Bughaus, I went in the other direction and got caught up in a convoluted overstylized art approach. Just couldn’t win. Someday I will take some photos of this.

BUGHAUS (1994-5)

In college, I had a comic called Bughouse. It was a goofy sci-fi thing featuring a character named Dexter. I got to a point where I liked all the side characters more than the main character, so I rebooted it as BUGHAUS, a comic about a stoic knight named Dick who was canvassing the galaxy in search of an ancient powerful sword. In a very Star Wars-ian turn of events, he had to hire a ship. That ship was piloted by idiots. In another George Lucas-ish twist, the issue one plot was to be a part of a larger convoluted garbled saga.

Overall, it was an pretty good idea. But I was a newly minted college drop-out, I wasn’t a technically skilled artist, and I was impatient with my own limitations. So what did I do? I decided to draw the whole comic with ballpoint pen. Why? Because I was sick of making a mess with dip pens and bottles of India ink, and I was too lazy to keep my technical pens clean. I wanted to sit anywhere and draw quickly. The result? A really crappy looking comic book. It was sorta funny and had bad guys with toasters for heads and whatever, but it looked pretty bad. I completed it in 1995. I made a couple proof copies at the local copy shop. I showed it to two or three friends and then I shelved it.

Bughouse (comic, 1991-1994)

Bughouse was a serialized ‘funny’ science fiction comic that ran in the MassArt comic anthology (first in Jef Taylor’s Don’t Shoot! It’s Only Comics, and later under my editorial fist at FORTY-3). It featured some terrible, somewhat embarrassing artwork, some great side characters, and a relatively uninteresting main character. I have all the original bristols (yeah, that’s right… pen and ink on bristol board! What a waste of, uh, pens and ink and bristol) in the back of my closet, so maybe someday when I am under house arrest or beset with some sort of sickness, I will scan in a few pages and post ’em here.

Nifty Aztecs (1990)

My first comic/zine/photocopy mess, a self-produced high-school anthology featuring the sci-fi epic Flytrap by Matt Smith, a collage by Tim Page, and an illustration by Mark Reusch. My story was called Satellites, and featured a bunch of smiley-faced bad guys. A precursor to Bughouse.