Monday, 29 October 2018

HAPPY HALLOWEEN with a new title, new cover, new everything! THE UNCANNY DEADSIDERS


This year I'm celebrating All Hallows Eve with a new direction for my comic - now called "THE UNCANNY DEADSIDERS" TM Glen Specter!

I had a small existential crisis after receiving my first rejection from a comic book publisher a couple weeks ago and decided to re-evaluate the strength of my title and artwork. "Deadkind" was very close to what I wanted, but the word was weird and had no real meaning so it had to go.

"Deadsiders" is stronger I think, describing these strange beings who are on the 'dead side' but not quite undead. It's also a play on 'Outsiders', which reflects the band of misfits that make up Jack superhero group.

I also thought that Jack didn't 'pop' enough on the cover and had to fiddle with his colours a bit. So there ya go!

Have a Happy Halloween, dear reader! I will continue to keep you posted on my progress as I prepare to pitch "the Uncanny Deadsiders" to the next batch of publishing houses!

Trick, treat, and be merry!
G.S.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

"Heroes of the Dead" is now "The Uncanny Deadkind"


Yep, you heard right: "Heroes of the Dead" is now called "The Uncanny Deadkind" TM Glen Specter.

Why the change? "Heroes of the Dead" just never felt strong enough to me. It had a nice ring to it but somehow sounded too general or generic. I came up with the word "Deadkind" to describe what our heroes have become, which I liked better than "Unnaturals" (which again sounded too generic). I threw in "Uncanny" as a little homage to the superhero genre, and there you have it. My team of weird halloween superheros are now called "the Uncanny Deadkind"!

I wanted a strong title and a strong brand going in to my new strategy for publishing: I've decided to forego self-publishing on Comixology and instead I'll be pitching my book to a number of publishers with open submissions. I'm hoping that partnering with an established publisher will help prevent "Deadkind" from getting buried beneath the Internet's overwhelming mountain of comic book content.

That said, I've also been working on the website for my own publishing brand, spectercomics.com! Stay tuned for more details!

G.S.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Last week of summer artwork post - Ms. Specter

Hello dear readers, I have news!
This artwork of Ms. Specter marks the last page of interior art for issue #1 complete! That means I am very close to submitting Heroes of the Dead to Comixology for digital publication! I anticipate putting the final pdf file together in the next few days. It would be a fantastic end to the summer to get issue #1 off my plate and on to Comixology for public consumption!
Stay tuned, my faithful readers: you will be the first to know when it's up!
G.S.

Monday, 21 May 2018

New Heroes of the Dead art for the long weekend - Poe, Mags and Warlock


Some new "Heroes of the Dead" artwork for this Victoria Day weekend. Here we have Poe (of the raven wings), Warlock (deep frying zombies) and Maggie (an endearing little prophet with creepy eyes). These panels are the result of my continued progress on removing the color from "Heroes of the Dead" issue #1. Enjoy!

P.S. Today could be the day I actually finish this thing! Work has been completely shut down this weekend for a server migration, so I'm actually being forced not to work! Joy! :P Thank you Victoria, my favorite dead monarch!

G.S.



Monday, 9 April 2018

Black and White is the new Black – Why I just said no to color in “Heroes of the Dead”



While I admit I have been quiet on the Inter-webs of late (not having blogged since last August!) that doesn’t mean these old hands have been idle. No sir! In fact, in the last months I have taken the art of “Heroes of the Dead” in a completely new direction, one I hope you’ll find pleasing and terrifying: I ditched the colour and went black and white. Yep! I couldn’t take it anymore. My agonizing over hues and colour theory is done! I’ve gone tonal baby! And I couldn’t be happier!

It wasn’t an easy decision. I’ve colored the damn thing twice now, so the thought of trashing all that work was daunting. I remembered how the first time I barely faked my way through it, emulating the art of “Afterlife with Archie” as best I could. The second time through I felt more confident, inspired by Elizabeth Breitweiser’s “Outcast” and finally figuring out how to use Clip Studio Paint’s layers to my advantage. But as I finished the second pass I realized I would never really be happy with it. It all just seemed slapped together and faked. What to do? What to do?

In the end, I knew ditching the color was the only solution. A black and white zombie comic just felt right. Obviously the countless times I watched Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” as a kid made a deep impression on me, associating the noir-ish quality of black and white film with the horror of walking corpses in my young mind. And of course there’s “The Walking Dead” comic series, a huge influence on me and yet another black and white masterpiece. The more I thought about it, the more losing the color made sense. Tone and shadow I can deal with, perhaps because of the years I’ve eked out an existence in this dark crypt of mine; playing with shadows comes second nature. But I digress.

Once I realized I wanted to go black and white, I let out a heavy sign and flipped back to page one to start the arduous process of eliminating the colour from each panel and punching up the tones and contrast. But in all honesty, it was liberating in so many ways. And the best part was along the way I felt like I was really finding my own voice in my artwork, and that was super exciting.




textured shadows

I started fooling around with texture, and I came up with this texture-y shadowing that I love! It made everything so grainy and grimy, just how a post-apocalyptic world should feel. I’ve been searching for this loose, grungy style for many years, and it’s great because it feels second-nature to me. I need to have a loose line for my drawings to stay alive; too clean and everything gets flat. And the grimy shadows seem to compliment my crappy line in a strange way that makes it all come together.

As of today I have eliminated the color from fifteen pages, so only nine more to go. Here are a couple of finished pages with the new look!




On another topic, I’ve also settled on a new design for Monsterus. As you know I’ve struggled and struggled with this design (here and here) mainly because I wanted him to be a recognizable character for the series, and that pressure to create something original and iconic seemed overwhelming at times. But all things seem to come full circle, and I’ve settled on a werewolf type design that, while not terribly original, I’m happy with. I think any kid would love to be able to turn into a giant demon dog-thing, right?

So fear not friends, old Specter still has some life in him, and these cracked, moldering hands will continue to labor on “Heroes of the Dead” until its completion or until death finds me. And who knows? Perhaps even that grim fate won’t stop me! Stranger things have happened!

As always, yours in horrific distraction,
G.S.

Monday, 28 August 2017

How TV’s “The Mist” Missed – No Monsters? Really?!!



The Mist has always been one of my favorite Stephen King stories. For me it tapped into a fear of civilized society being overtaken by a sudden disaster, and how an every day trip to the supermarket could turn into a frightening fight for survival. But what made it stand out was the way it presented this fear in a totally unique, visceral, and visual way by engulfing the town in a physical manifestation of the unknown – a maddening, mysterious mist, filled with unseen monsters bent on tearing apart the town’s inhabitants. What could possibly be more frightening?

In the post-new-millennium era where our fascination with ‘end times’ fiction shows no signs of slowing, The Mist, published in the early 80’s, stands out as a frightful premonition of pop culture’s present obsession with the end of the world. So you would think The Mist’s TV adaptation would not only be timely, but considering the quality of the source material, a total slam-dunk in today’s apocalypse-obsessed age. The Frank Darabont movie adaptation has become a horror classic, so The Mist more than proved itself capable of being translated from novel to film. What could go wrong?


[Yep - spoiler alert!]

Well, as I watched the first episode of The Mist TV series, my excitement turned to complete disappointment soon after the mist rolled into town. As the mist claimed its first victim (a clueless cop taking a selfie in the mist no less! I really can’t stand the idiot victim trope! g.s.) I suddenly realized the mist had no monsters in it. Not one friggin’ monster! The TV Mist had totally missed the point of the mist! The heart of the mist’s terror – a mysterious fog harboring a host of other-worldly creatures, unseen until it was far too late – had been lost.

The writers instead turned the mist into some sort of reactive supernatural force that probes your deepest fears and then tears you apart with its physical manifestation. While interesting, the execution never proved remotely terrifying, just occasionally gross. Why they chose to tool around with this fundamental concept is beyond me. The monsters were the coolest part of the entire story, and discarding them for some sort of vengeful fog was the biggest mistake of the new series.

The next misstep the TV Mist took was not having a suspenseful, tense, or even coherent narrative. In the novel, I was fascinated to watch the characters devolve from a group of civilized townsfolk into a desperate, murderous mob as the horror of their situation sunk in. The TV Mist tried to follow suit, setting up tons of potential tension amongst the town’s inhabitants: Alex’s alleged rape by Jay, Jonah’s memory loss and his connection to Arrowhead, and Mia’s drug addiction and criminal past. Frustratingly, none of these scenarios played out in a coherent or interesting way, and all just ended up feeling pointless. Jay is exonerated but then randomly killed; Jonah is captured by an Arrowhead soldier only to be inexplicably released (because of Jonah’s higher rank? What?); Mia’s betrayal of the group to grab some dope and cash goes nowhere and falls flat.

Perhaps the most disappointing scene was when Eve confessed to the angry mob that Conner was Alex’s dad. None of the actors had the chops to pull off the emotional weight of that scene, and the crowds’ reaction to the news seemed random and non-sensical. Eve wasn’t set up properly as the pariah she needed to be for the town to turn on her and Alex. The whole situation inside the mall seemed forced as the writers pushed the plot forward with cardboard characters and weak motives, instead of really digging into the characters and letting their development allow the story to unfold.

And perhaps most frustrating to watch was Adrian’s transformation from victim to villain. Did it really have to be the one LBGT character who turns out to be the evil psycho, while the pretty boy quarterback gets exonerated as the hero? It made me sigh internally that the series was brave enough to introduce a gay character but backward enough to then turn around and make him the bad guy.

The one shining light in the mist (sorry) was Frances Conroy as Natalie Raven. Her subtle transformation from docile garden-loving hippie to calculating instrument of the mist was fantastic to watch. But once again, the writers set up something interesting and then let it fall totally flat. Natalie’s arrival at the mall should have been her momentous ascension to messiah of the mist, but instead the writers just randomly killed her off. (What?!) Why did the mist suddenly turn on its chosen disciple after sparing her when she faced off against Father Romanov? It was the final random kick in the teeth that made me totally not care to watch season two (if there is one.)

Considering the source material was quite short, the challenges of transcribing The Mist into a 10-hour series are obvious. But in trying to take the story in a different direction, the writers totally lost what made the original novella so cool – the fear of unseen, otherworldly predators; the fear of neighbors turning on each other in the face of a local disaster; the fear of the unknown. When I saw The Mist pop up on my Netflix feed, I was super excited and thrilled to watch it. Despite excellent production values, and the creepiest mist effects you’d ever see, after slogging through 10 hours of disappointing writing and acting, I think this new Mist totally missed. Don’t pass Go. Don’t collect $200. And don’t watch this pile of garbage.

G.S.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Winner of the Creators For Creators 2017 Grant Announced




It’s official – At the Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle WA. on Sunday, the Creators For Creators fund announced the 2017 Grant Recipient. Quoting the website:

Creators for Creators is proud to announce that M. Dean’s project “I Am Young” is the first recipient of the Creators for Creators grant!”

Details about the winner and their project can be found at creatorsforcreators.org

As you know, gentle reader, I’ve always viewed my submission to the C4C grant as a long shot. So while I’ve been wringing my hands for months desperately hoping “Heroes of the Dead” might somehow pull off a win, I wasn’t terribly surprised by the outcome.

So what does this mean for ol’ Glen Specter, for Heroes of the Dead, and for Specter Comics? Why, it means great things! Terrible, fantastic, horrifying things!!

As you might have seen from my little teaser for “Rotting Hills”, I’ve got lots of plans for Specter Comics. I’ve decided to officially make Specter Comics my platform for self-publishing. So along with “Heroes of the Dead”, I’ve been tooling around with another zombie idea geared towards kids called “Rotting Hills”. I mean, can you think of one successful zombie comic for kids? Me neither! So there’s definitely a niche to fill.

“Rotting Hills” began life (sorry :P) as a cartoon idea I successfully pitched, produced and directed over a decade ago (god I'm old!). While the animated cartoon died when the production company ultimately passed on the idea, I thought it high time to resurrect Rotting Hills in comic book form! If you’re curious, the cartoon looked like this. My plans for the comic book are a little different, as I have no right to the stories or artwork of the original production, but I’m really excited by some of the ideas I’ve come up for it!

Thus, whilst old man Specter had been beaten down and had his old withering heart crushed by the above news, I also feel liberated. For the months I was waiting on news about the grant, I felt trapped in limbo as I didn’t want to proceed with anything until the grant was settled. Now I’m free to go whole hog into self-publishing and see where it leads me.

My plan is to get a “Specter Comics” website up and running to serve as a portal to Comixology, Amazon’s big giant online comic book store. comixology.com

From there I’ll be publishing “Heroes of the Dead” #1 very shortly and see how it does! And the good news is I’ve already finished the scripts for issues #2 and #3, so work on the art will begin forthwith!

As for Rotting Hills, I’ve been working away at a script for the first issue. I’ll be posting progress for that project here on Dying to Draw as well so stay tuned!

G.S.