Sunday, October 28, 2012


Cover by Franchesco!
With all the work I've been doing for DC Digital, it's interesting to note that my first digital work didn't come from them but actually from a smaller independent publisher.

I don't know how I first stumbled across the Digital Webbing website, but it was during its early days a handful of years ago in the early 2000s. A site that's become known for its message boards, helping bring together a lot of creators both new and hungry to the industry. And out of that, they decided to become a publisher too. They created the Digital Webbing Presents anthology gathering stories from all the creators on the message boards. I admired them for their scrappy independent spirit and allowing fresh and new talent to have a showcase. Even though I was just starting to get work at Marvel at the time, I was happy to contribute on their titles, for cover inks as well as sequential inks. And during it's long run putting out the book, it became this great little place for up-and-coming people that passed through. Before Skottie Young became known for all of his work on the Oz books and Marvel baby variant covers, he did some of his earliest work at DWP. Same goes for Ryan Ottley of "Invincible" fame. Before Nick Bradshaw became known for his X-Men work, he was doing covers and interiors for DWP. Even Eric Powell's "The Goon" had one of its earliest stories before it ended up arriving at Dark Horse. And those are just a few of the people off the top of my head whose early work was a part of Digital Webbing.

Many years later, I worked on a short story called "The Hunt", not knowing where it would turn up. A couple of the pages you can see below. It was sort of a sexy sci-fi story in the tradition of something you might find in Heavy Metal Magazine. I had found the work of the artist online, loving the way that Dean Kotz's style had influences of Gene Colan and artists from the past. We finished the short story and ended up pitching it to a new anthology that was just starting at Image called "Popgun". Our story was slated to show up in their first volume, but then things changed.

The way anthologies are put together involves quite the juggling act, and the job of editing and overseeing such an endeavor is probably something I wouldn't wish on anyone. You're trying to manage multiple stories and multiple creative teams (some of which is their first published work), working at different paces and lengths, and then trying to assemble all of them together into one package by a deadline. It's a headache waiting to happen.

We had finished our story ahead of most and then waited for them to find a slot for it. The idea was, in order to arrive at a set page count for the entire anthology collection into a graphic novel, that some stories might have to shuffle around and be in the next volume in order to fit what they could into the first. On the one hand that's understandable, but also lead to my frustration for the entire process. What ended up happening was some stories that were finished early in advance ended up getting pushed off on the next volumes (plural), and each succeeding volume would have an all new editorial team take over and begin the process again. All the talk of guarantees that if your story didn't make it into the first volume and would show up in the next one, turned into a lot of useless talk. And the thing that irked me most, was that our story kept getting dumped off for three times (for three volumes) with no end in sight, when there were other stories in later volumes, finished much later than ours, that were getting in. In other words, there was no preference or privilege of first-come-first-served to the way they were doing things. And to me, that was a slap in the face. Very unprofessional. Each new editor would come onboard, mention that they'd make sure to get the story published in their volume, and then proceed to dump it off on the next volume. All for a story that got greenlit before the first volume ever came out.

After being passed around like a bad joint with no end in sight, I thought enough was enough. I'd take the story elsewhere. And that's where Digital Webbing Presents showed up in the picture. After having a successful print run of their anthology, they were looking at relaunching the title as a digital exclusive. When I found out about it, I contacted them with my finished story, and they immediately gave it a home. It showed up in the second issue of Digital Webbing Presents volume 2 (available through Comixology).

Throughout all of this goes a great deal of thanks for the patience of the people that worked on my story. Dean drew this and then went on to working for BOOM, Ape Entertainment, and Zenescope. Gary Henderson's colors really helped shape and bring Dean's drawings alive, and has since done a range of work for Marvel, Dark Horse, and other publishers. And Thomas Mauer made it all readable with his fantastic lettering.

The road to getting stories published in comics can be crazy. Usually it's a miracle just completing what you've started. But that's only half of the journey. The other is finding a place for it. And I'm happy with where mine finally turned up.


  1. I was a regular member of the Digital Webbing community in 2005-2006. Never did get work from it, though.

  2. Whoa, that was not the ending I saw coming! You definitely pegged it right when you said it was something that would feel at home within the pages of Heavy Metal.