I once again worked the polls earlier this week, which was a bit more intense than the primary — but very rewarding. Now it’s back to the keyboard. I’m now 75% through the first draft of my next Big Historical Comics project, which has a publisher attached — I expect this one to see print in Fall 2020 or Spring 2021. So, it’ll be a ways yet, but I’m super excited for it. Hoping to have a few li’l projects in the meantime…
Yesterday, I served as an election inspector in Michigan's primary. It's a fascinating experience and I'm still processing everything, but I wanted to share a few initial thoughts.
It's a long day -- you show up at 6am, we finished at 10:45 PM -- but it's never boring. The precinct I worked saw about 20% in-person turnout, and I know there were a lot of absentee ballots. 20% isn't great in absolute terms, but it's not at all bad for a primary and is high for a precinct with a significant number of graduate students who may still be out of town for the summer.
My team was short staffed, as two people who had signed up to work didn't show -- apparently this is a misdemeanor! Other than the precinct chair, the other two of us were doing this for the first time. Yet everything (or nearly everything) went smoothly. We had a great team.
There was one voter whom workers from the other precinct voting in the same room had accidentally sent to an entirely different location. He eventually made his way back, still all smiles, determined to vote. "I'm young, I'm healthy," he said, "I just had to make sure I voted."
If you write in, say, "Batman," you are creating a surprising amount of work for people trying to go home at the end of a 17-hour workday.
I am not the only person who is offended by Michigan's "Application to Vote" paperwork. But I could not say much of anything about this to people who were upset by it because, as it turns out, voting regs constitute "political discussion." I was very careful about this.
If you think you'd be interested in working the polls -- this is a paid position, but it doesn't pay a ton -- let me know if you have any questions, I'm happy to be a resource. They need good people, especially if you are a registered Republican in a heavily Democratic area, or vice versa.
TL;DR thank you Michigan for not voting for Shri
San Diego Comic-Con is less than two weeks away! I'll be at Artist Alley table AA-19 with copies of Macbeth: The Red King, Star Wars Adventures, Interesting Drug, Hell, Nebraska, and maybe a few other things. I'll also be doing a few Star Wars Adventures signings at the IDW Publishing booth, which should be rad.
I love SDCC, I really do. It's just such a spectacle. And I love getting to see industry friends -- and pretty much everyone is there -- and meeting new folks. After a number of years reporting on the show for Comic Book Resources, this is my first year with a table. It's thrilling and terrifying.
If you're at the con, come say hi!
In addition to SDCC, I've been busy with a couple more projects. One is a Superhero Thing with artist Ross Taylor, which we're hoping to debut next year. The other is Another History Thing, set a few hundred years after Macbeth and not in any way a sequel. But it's super fun. I'm pretty deep into research mode now, even trying to read a couple books in French. It's going... actually much better than I thought it would. Thanks, Duolingo!
This weekend I'll be exhibiting at Ann Arbor Comic Arts Festival, my most local convention and one that I really enjoyed last year. It's a very kid- and youth-focused show (it was previously called Kids Read Comics Festival), and this year I actually have kid-friendly comics to sell! Thanks, Star Wars Adventures!
I'll also have copies of my previous books Hell, Nebraska, Interesting Drug, and the IF: Crime anthology -- no Macbeth for now, sadly, as our the demise of our intended printer has led to delays. Aiming to have copies for San Diego Comic-Con next month and get books out to Kickstarter backers around that time, as well.
Hope to see you round the cons!
Thanks to everyone who supported Macbeth: The Red King on Kickstarter! Because of you, we'll be able to bring this book to life in style, with both an oversized paperback and exclusive hardcover edition. If you missed the Kickstarter but would still like a copy, you can catch me round conventions this summer, pre-order through this very website, or stay tuned for announcements on retail distribution. We expect copies to go out to backers in June, wider release schedule will depend on the particulars of our distribution partner.
Currently working on another thing I hope to be able to announce soon. Follow me on Twitter and sign up for email updates to stay in the know. ;-) Thanks!
Chicago's C2E2 was a ton of fun, met a lot of great people and it was really heartening to see all the interest in Macbeth: The Red King. There are ten days left in the Kickstarter campaign, and our goal is well within reach!
I'll be honest, it was a bit weird trying to talk up a thing that lives online while surrounded by so many creators with great books you could take home right now. But the sample copy of Macbeth I had on hand I think gave folks a good idea of what we're trying to accomplish with this project. And I so appreciate that people are still responding to my earlier books with Anna, Interesting Drug and Hell, Nebraska.
My big purchase at the con was the Source Point Press/Comics Experience bundle. I've been a member of the CE workshop forums for ages, and took the in-person classes in New York before operations moved online. Andy Schmidt, who was an editor for Marvel and IDW before founding Comics Experience, is a fantastic resource for creators who want to improve their craft and develop their comicking careers. I'm pretty excited by the new publishing initiative, and after meeting and hanging out with Frank Gogol at C2E2, I'm especially looking forward to reading his short story collection Grief.
Looking forward to my next convention, the Ann Arbor Comic Arts Festival in June. Thanks to everyone who stopped by, and to all of you supporting Macbeth: The Red King on Kickstarter!
My first convention appearance of the year will be at C2E2 this weekend, where I'll be exhibiting at Artist Alley table D9 with Spencer and Locke creator David Pepose. C2E2 is one of my favorite shows, big but not too big, with a ton of support for Artist Alley. And of course, as a former Chicago resident, it's always nice to get a chance to knock about town. (Yes, I miss it!)
After that, I'll be attending but not exhibiting at Motor City Comic Con in May, then I'll have a table at Ann Arbor Comic Arts Festival June 16-17 and will be a guest of Lansing's Get Geek'd Entertainment Expo July 28-29. Also working on plans for San Diego Comic-Con -- stay tuned!
The Macbeth: The Red King Kickstarter is going strong! We've got a ways to go until meeting goal, but we've got plans in place to finish strong. Thanks so much to everyone who's supported the campaign so far -- if you think the book looks rad, tell your friends!
I'll have Macbeth pins (also known as badges) at C2E2 for Kickstarter backers -- stop by and say hi!
At long last, the Kickstarter campaign for Macbeth: The Red King is live! I've had copies available at conventions for a little while now, but this will allow for a wider release -- and we're also offering a nice Kickstarter-exclusive hardcover edition, bound together with Shakespeare's play! Check out the campaign at:
I hope you'll consider supporting the project! Thanks so much!
The name “Macbeth” has been cursed for hundreds of years, synonymous with tyranny and over-vaulting ambition. But what if the true Macbeth was something other than the villain Shakespeare portrayed?
Macbeth: the Red King tells an entirely new story of the real-life Scottish monarch, revealing a benevolent ruler who seized on his legitimate claim to the throne. Drawing from historical sources, this engaging graphic novel by Shaun Manning and Anna Wieszczyk is visually stunning companion to Shakespeare’s legendary drama. See Macbeth vanquish the incompetent Duncan, nurture a difficult relationship with his stepson Lulach, and make pilgrimage to Rome while his noble wife minds the restless kingdom — and witness his last stand against the insurgent prince Malcolm.
Macbeth: The Red King is not a re-telling of the Shakespeare classic, but rather a new history of the famous Scottish king. This book is not only for comic fans, but can be a great tool to help educators and students create a visual introduction to some of the greatest literature in our history.
As if there wasn't enough joy simply in seeing my name on Star Wars comic and reading it in print, this issue has received some very nice praise. Coffee with Kenobi was out with the first review:
And today, over at Newsarama, we get a 9/10 score:
Oh, and we're a pick of the week at LA's Meltdown Comics:
I reckon it doesn't hurt that the lead story stars The Last Jedi debutante Rose Tico in her first comic book appearance, written by NYT bestselling author Delilah S. Dawson and illustrated by Eisner Award winner Derek Charm. It's also been a delight to get to know the team behind "Podracer's Rescue" a bit via Twitter, really hoping we get to meet along the convention circuit this year.
January's Star Wars Adventures #6 features a six-page "Tales from Wild Space" backup story by me, artist Chad Thomas, and colorist Charlie Kirchoff. You can imagine how thrilling this is. "Podracer's Rescue" sees young Anakin Skywalker saving the day shortly before the events of The Phantom Menace. The main cover highlights the lead story, featuring new character Rose from The Last Jedi (also a treat!), while the B cover shows Anakin and Sebulba facing off.
Check in with your local comic shop or pre-order on Comixology!
I've added a new outlet to my portfolio: the amazing literary community of Book Riot! I've been reading the site for some time and they do some really fun, insightful articles (and a lot of silly bookish things that are also of interest). My first two pieces are up now, more to come shortly.
I am fascinated by religions and the effects they have on people's lives -- not from a critical perspective, but just as a window on our humanity. So Reza Aslan's forthcoming book God: A Human History was a must-read.
I don't follow sports, but I do follow cultural events. The ongoing firestorm over #TakeTheKnee reveals more about America than it does about football, so I thought I'd round up some books on other notable athlete protests.
Next up: Dragon Con! This will be my first time attending or exhibiting at Atlanta's infamous convention -- I've heard so many amazing things, it's one I've always wanted to do. I'll have copies of Macbeth: The Red King, Hell, Nebraska, and Interesting Drug.
Going to the con? Pre-order your copy of Macbeth to pick up at the show and get a free print of the final showdown between Macbeth and Malcolm!
Click the link below to pre-order and I'll be sure to save a copy for you. See you at Dragon Con!
Hoo man, this is the first time I've done conventions on back-to-back weekends, but both of these are quite exciting.
First, I'll be at Ann Arbor Comic Arts Festival June 17-18, my first time exhibiting at my hometown library's con. This will also be the Michigan debut of Macbeth: The Red King, after gaining a good deal of interest at C2E2 in Chicago.
Then! I'll be in Artist Alley at the American Library Association's annual conference. I'm thrilled for the opportunity to talk about my Macbeth project with librarians, as I think there are so many excellent educational opportunities for a book like this, that takes a universally known character from history and shows a completely different side to the story.
Looking forward to seeing old friends, meeting fans, and talking comics in A2 and Chicago! Stop by if you're 'round.
My first con of the year! Always an exciting time. I'll be in Chicago this weekend for C2E2, hanging out in Artist Alley booth D3 with "Spencer and Locke" creator (and Newsarama editor) David Pepose. I'll be debuting "Macbeth: The Red King," and if you know how long I've been talking about this book, you can imagine how excited I am to have copies in my hands and to be able to share it with the world.
I also just got word that I've been approved to exhibit at the American Library Association conference in June. This isn't part of my regular con circuit, but for a project like "Macbeth" it's an exciting opportunity. And of course, as someone who works for a library, it's exciting in its own way.
After a good run at Kansas City Comic Con, I'm nearly sold out of the Kickstarter-funded print edition of Hell, Nebraska volume 1. That book was oversized; for the new one, I'm going the other way, with a 5x8" manga-sized volume. The thought right now is to go through Amazon's Createspace to assist in fulfillment, though that will depend on what the proof looks like and how the costs break down (cautiously optimistic).
The question is, should it be color or black and white?
I get frustrated. I do.
I'm always pitching, and most of those pitches are rejected. I've got a ton of stories I'm really excited about, things I think would be awesome comics, novels, short plays, and so on. It bums me out.
But man, it would never even occur to me to publicly lash out out the people that said no. There's self-preservation, for one. And then there's basic human decency.
Look, there's always a reason behind rejection. It may be a story is a poor fit for an agent or publisher, it may be they're already working with something similar. It could be that it just doesn't fit with their schedule.
It might just not be very good.
They might just not like you.
You might never know the reason for sure. If you know it, you might not agree. That's fine. Folks have different tastes.
Personal attacks are never ok. What does an agent's appearance or age matter in a prospective professional relationship? Or why mention that dance means something different to her? And what could you possibly hope to gain by complaining about standard industry and conference practices (which are very, very reasonable if you take even a second to consider the world through the agent's point of view) when trying make a good impression?
It comes down to power, of course. The writer of the original post has been made to feel weak, so he's going to reclaim his strength. He's older and wiser (and better dressed?) than these puny agents, he's not only gonna deliver the next Booker Prize-winning opus but by damn he's gonna restore some common sense to the whole publishing system.
He's above it, he wants you to know. He's a published author, he knows how the game is played. Or should be played, and it's not the way these Millennials are doing it.
Which is rubbish, of course.
Nobody owes you a publishing deal. You do not have a right to an agent's representation, or any more of her time than she feels your pitch has earned you.
Yeah, I get bummed out when things don't go my way, and that happens a lot. A LOT. Sometimes I wonder if I could have pitched it a different way, sometimes I wonder if my timing was off, or if I came off as annoying. Sometimes, yeah, I think the decision makes no goddamn sense.
But I've been fortunate enough to work with some stellar editors, and to be on very good terms with others whom I haven't yet had the pleasure of working with. I have an agent for certain projects, and have been very happy both with our initial introductions and ongoing communications, as well as, of course, the work they're doing for me. I hope I give these good people reason to enjoy working with me, beyond my masterful control of imagination and language.
The O/P lays out a few "rules" for those who might be faced with so tawdry a task as meeting face to face with an agent or editor at a conference, but he misses out the most important:
Rule #1: Don't be a jackass.
There's been quite a lot of talk in the last week or so about William Shakespeare, marking the 400th anniversary of his death. Today is also his 452 birthday -- so HBD, Will! To celebrate, Cambridge University Press has asked folks to write short plays inspired by the man and his works, which I did over a series of lunch breaks:
It's not my most polished work, but it makes me smile. Thought I'd share.
More to the point! This summer will see publication of my next graphic novel with Anna Wieszczyk. It's called Macbeth: The Red King and has nothing to do with Shakespeare. (Ok, maybe a few things. But it's entirely different story.) It's about a noble warrior reclaiming his birthright, ably leading a war-torn country through both grace and force, and how the love of his royal wife gave him the strength to rule but the bitterness of his stepson threatened to unmake everything. It's not the "real" story of Macbeth, but neither was Shakespeare's; instead, it's a story of Macbeth, and I'm quite proud of it.
I'll have early copies at Ann Arbor Comic Fest in June, the book will see a wider release in August through indie publisher Lucha Comics. Sign up for my email newsletter to hear about how to order or where I'll be signing, and/or follow me on Twitter for very regular updates -- I'm gonna be insufferable on Twitter when this comes out.
Like a lot of writers, I expect, I've got a ton of projects in various stages of completion -- concepts, scripts, a few things with artists attached, and a very select few with publishers/publication plans. Most sit for a good long while before I can find an artist and get the real #makecomics process going.
Except this time.
I met Fernando Pinto at New York Comic Con, both of us hanging out at Fred Van Lente's table. I had a look at his portfolio. We exchanged business cards. I knew I wanted to work with him -- his samples were eye-catching and displayed a range of style -- but I didn't know what I had for him.
A day or so after getting back to Ann Arbor, a phrase popped into my head in shower. It was a pretty dumb phrase, but it made me smile. I had an idea for the tone and style of what this thing might look like as a comic, but no story as yet.
I threw it out to Fernando anyway as something we might work on together. He liked it, so then I had to write it. And I kind of love it.
AND! He's already got sketches!
All of this in the span of a couple weeks. There have been a few other developments on this since, as well. So excited at how quickly this weird little project is moving, and I hope to have more to share soon.
Wow, it's been a while since I had a table! But I'll be exhibiting as a guest of the Comikaze comic con in Los Angeles Oct. 30-Nov. 1. Come by to chat at Artist Alley table N09, where I'll have copies of Interesting Drug; Hell, Nebraska; Garbage Pail Kids; and the brand-new hardcover 27: A Comics Anthology, featuring tales of rock stars who left us too young. There will probably be free bananas. I'll also be on a panel Sunday at 1:00 pm talking about Geek Love, so check that out.