Signals From Beyond: September

An Impactful Event

A few months back I was asked to produce some art for a local indie film. Hot off the heels of completing his passion project Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, my buddy Brian was gearing up for production on a new film.

“This one was going to be a disaster/survivalist movie”, he told me.
“I have access to some wild sets”, he went on.
“I’ve got commitments from veteran genre actors Vernon Wells and Michael Berryman”, he said.

My response, “You had me at, ‘I’d like to pay you to draw some stuff…'”.

“Oh, one more thing…”, he added. “I might be able to get Grieco too.”

You know that sound, when the needle of a turntable is pulled across a record? Well that sound went off in my brain.

Are you kidding me? Richard freaking Grieco? The star (sorry, Johnny Depp) of 21 Jump Street, my favorite TV show back in junior high? Oh, hell yes!

Sadly, the opportunity to meet one of my tween idols never presented itself. But they do say it’s always better to never meet your heroes. But maybe I’ll score an invite to the premier? Maybe he’ll be there too. Maybe we’ll become best friends. Or maybe he’ll file a restraining order? Who knows?

Well one thing I know, is that I got to do a couple of killer pieces of art for the film including a poster design. You can see the process images below. My line art, followed by Davi Comodo’s colors, culminating with a mock up I did of the finished poster. If you were scrolling through movies on Netflix would this one catch your eye?

Open for Business!

I recently took the leap and opened an online store over at BigCartel.com. If you’ve been enjoying the art I’ve been producing and sharing with you here, you now have an opportunity to own it yourself in the form of original art and limited edition prints!

Also, if you’re interested in commissioning a private piece you can send always email me, kyle.roberts@frombeyondcomics.com.

And as always, thank you for your continued support!

Progress Checks

Interior art on the Ark continues. I’m officially half-way through the penciling and inking stages. My goal is to have the interior art completed and ready for coloring by the end of November, which could see the Ark completed by end of the year!
And speaking of coloring, after lending his talents to the Impact Event poster, Davi Comodo was commissioned to color the cover of the Ark. Take a gander below…

 

…pretty spectacular, yeah?

 

Passion Projects

The creative process, especially in comics, can be a lonely one. But every so often you’re able to connect with a few amazing individuals within the community that provide invaluable support and inspiration. Two such gentlemen, Ryan Kroboth and John Edingfield are both in the process of bringing their passion projects to life via Kickstarter.

If you’re fan of all ages comics, then John’s comic Rancidville is right up your alley. He describes it himself as a comic that “explores the stereotypical roles we play in society, the bonds of family and the beauty of friendship. It is imaginative, funny, and is sure to engage the kid in all of us.”
Sweet!

 

And if you’re a fan of fantasy and adventure, Ryan’s comic Sunmaker is for you!
“When the last remaining fragments of an entire civilization are about to vanish, one man must preserve his legacy, no matter the cost.”
Rad!

The indie comic scene is full of brilliant creators telling imaginative, vibrant and compelling stories. And Kickstarter has become a powerful vehicle for not only bringing these projects to life, but also connecting creators and audiences. If you’re looking to connect with new material or creators may I suggest starting with these two?

 

Next month we’ll talk about the upcoming LA Comic Con and the nuances of the creative collaborative process. Until then, all the best!

– Kyle

 

Signals From Beyond: August

Raff the Sweetling, Ser Ilyn, Ser Meryn…

A few weeks back I was chatting with some friends as they were gearing up to table at the D23 Expo. A few of us were lamenting that our interest in things Disney, especially Star Wars, has all but been extinguished. As the conversation shifted I tried to come up with a list of contemporary shows or franchises that excite me as much as Star Wars and Disney did when I was a kid. I couldn’t come up with a single thing…then 4 days later I found myself anxiously putting my daughter to bed an hour early to watch the season premier of Game of Thrones. As the cellos began their chorus and the map of Westeros came into view I remembered the conversation from earlier in the week – I couldn’t believe GoT didn’t come to mind! For it is, without a doubt, my favorite thing going right now!

As much as I’d love to talk about the most shocking moments (Ned’s beheading is still far more shocking to me than the Red Wedding), my favorite character (The Hound) or where I think things are going (a conversation best reserved for another time) I thought I’d share how I got swept up into the frenzy in the first place.

I first heard of Game of Thrones from my oldest, closest friend James. He told me he had read this amazing book waaaay back in college, but by the time the second book in the series finally came out he couldn’t reconnect with the story. Now, he said, it was coming to HBO and I had to get it on it. I’m not really one for fantasy, but after several months of nagging I binge watched the first season. There was no looking back. Between the end of season one and the start of season two I had read all five novels. It wasn’t just the story that kept me going though…you see, James – my friend since freshman year of high school – had been diagnosed with ALS two years before. At this point the disease had robbed him of his limbs and he was confined to a wheelchair. I’d visit a few times each week and there was never a lack of conversation, but GoT talk would always come up. We loved coming up with new theories and never once did he betray or spoil a plot twist as I worked my way through the text to catch up with him. He’s been gone over four years now, and not to be maudlin, but seldom a day goes by that I don’t think of him – but during GoT season I’m especially reminded of him and how much I miss him…

I’ve begun co-writing a new story, inspired by some real (and not so real) life events from James’ and my teenage years. I’m really excited to share this project with you, as the process not only lets me reflect on my youth and the friendships I made in 1989, but also feels like a good way to work through some of the challenges I’m facing with having a child that is the same age…more on that soon!

Subliminally subliminal…

Back in 1995 I landed my first comics job as a background inker at Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Studios. One of the biggest surprises was how fractured the comic making process was. I had imagined a building full of writers and artists all collaborating in the same space, but what it really looked liked was curled up faxed manuscripts and and a parade of Fed Ex boxes. Even back then creative teams were spread out across the country.

Making comics can, and often is, a solitary endeavor. To break up the monotony artists and writers are known to drop little Easter eggs into their stories. They might write and illustrate a cameo in their own story like Len Wein and Paris Cullins did in an issue of Blue Beetle. Maybe they eviscerate former colleagues like John Byrne did to Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter in an issue of DC’s Legends. Some even take it further and get themselves fired for dropping political and religious imagery into an issue of X-Men.

Me? I like to keep it light and fun and it started on the very first professional page I worked on…the ever popular and highly regarded Avengelyne/Glory!

*crickets*

Anyway…notice the name scrawled on the wall in the bottom left corner of panel 1?

Whenever a page would come in that had a graffiti wall or something similar all of the inkers and colorists in the bullpin would come over and work in personal messages.  Some even made proclomations of love to their future wives…

As I said, I like to keep it light and fun…so when my story calls for an image of a random passenger to be displayed on a monitor I do what any self-respecting artist would do – use Jonah Hill from Superbad as a model. No good reason. There’s no meta commentary. Just amusing myself…now you’re in on the joke too!

Progress Checks

The school year begins on Monday which will put production on The Ark on hold for a few weeks, but I’ve got two new pages to share with you as well as a new fantasy illustration. Let me know what you think!

Next month we’ll compare and contrast Officers Hanson and Booker and I’ll share how I’ve pretty much become Richard Grieco’s new best friend! Until then all the best!

-Kyle

Signals From Beyond: July

Social Media-ocrity

I’ve never considered myself very adept at using social media. I was late to the Facebook party and am a bit too self-aware to do much more than keep up on what everyone else is doing there. I’ve never been able to connect with Twitter or anyone on it. Most tweets, my own included, feel declarative, argumentative or pretentious. If the NSA was forced to release sensitive material to the public, but didn’t want anyone to see it the safest place for them to reveal it would undoubtedly be on my Tumblr page. I love Instagram, a stream of beautiful images from family, friends and artists I admire, but there’s little, if any, interaction beyond “liking”…

But here, in this monthly bulletin, I feel far more comfortable. Comfortable to share my art and process. Comfortable to make and share mistakes.

Here I feel more connected than on any other social media platform. Here reminds me of being in high school (and even a bit in pre-internet college) when I used to write to my friends back east or away at college. As From Beyond Comics celebrates its first birthday, I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for being one of the 350+ subscribers that have joined the ride this past year. I’m looking forward to another year of growth, new art and exciting stories. Speaking of stories…

Baby Stunt Driver

A few years back I landed a gig doing storyboards for a local advertising agency. The art director was an old friend from college, one I hadn’t seen in over a decade. The opportunity was unexpected and exciting. Typically I’d get the scripts late in the evening and have to have sketches drawn, scanned and emailed back by the next morning. I ended up working on four different commercial pitches for Kawasaki, a few of the drawings I did for one of the Mule shoots can be seen below…

A week or so after finishing the jobs I was invited to be a part of the commercial shoot. Not as a production assistant or a boom operator, mind you, but as an actor!

On the first morning of shooting, as we were getting our wardrobe, I met the rest of the “talent”. Really, that was my designation for three whole days…don’t think that didn’t go to my head real fast! The young lady handing out our helmets, steel toed boots and flannel shirts (ideal for the balmy 110 degree heat of Ocatillo in mid August) took my prescription sunglasses and replaced them with the kind you’d get off a spinner rack at a gas station.

The rest of the group was comprised of a professional stunt driver, a family (two brothers and their father) of dune buggy racers, a professional downhill BMX racer and a few grizzled old men that looked like they were plucked from some sort of backwoods militia group. With all of that to choose from, naturally the director walks up and picks the high school art teacher to be one of the drivers for the first scene…

The action was to drive into the shot from about 30 yards away and stop a few feet from the other Mule which was approaching from the other side. Once there I was to turn off the engine, set the parking break, leave the lights on, take off my seat belt, exit the vehicle and begin walking to the abandoned manure factory behind us. Move fast, but do it naturally, he said…

ACTION! The combination of the steel toed boots, uneven terrain and having never driven what is essentially a suped up golf cart led to me shorting my mark by about 10 feet on the first shot. Embarrassed, I backed out and prepared for the second take. One of the Kawasaki big wigs took it upon himself to help me out. He took a brown rock and put it on the brown ground about 20 yards away and told me to hit the mark. Now maybe you remember the part of the story where my prescription glasses were taken from me (they aren’t for reading). I didn’t want anyone to know the “legally blind without his spectacles guy” was behind the wheel so I just nodded and gave a thumbs up and simply aimed for the other Mule. I ended up acquitting myself well and worked in a few other scenes behind the wheel as we moved from the manure factory to a dairy farm and from the dairy farm to a wind farm. From the wind farm we caravaned to a mine in Pala and finished the last day on an oil field in Long Beach. It was a blast and you can see one of the commercials (several were made from all the footage) by clicking on the image below. That’s me behind the wheel of the Mule on the right. I believe the word you’re looking for is “rugged”, thank you very much.

Progress Checks

Summer school has reached the halfway point and progress checks get emailed to parents today. Keeping in the spirit here’s a look at some of the newly competed pages for “The Ark” and the finished pin-ups with colors by Sabrina Del Grosso. Let me know what you think!

Next month we’ll talk hidden imagery in comics and react to the new season of Game of Thrones! Until then all the best!

-Kyle

Signals From Beyond: March

Measuring the thickness of one’s skin…

I started playing football in the fourth grade.  Our second practice saw us divided into position groups as Coach Buckhalter introduced us to the assistant coaches for the first time. It’s been a little over 32 years since that evening and although the assistant coach’s name eludes me I remember exactly how he looked, the layout of the practice fields, how far the run was to circumnavigate the equipment shed and how small and weak that man made me feel during practice.  I almost made it home from that practice before I started crying.  I told my mother that I didn’t want to go back, that I wanted to quit. She sat me down and gave me the single best piece of advice I’ve ever been given. He was yelling at Kyle the football player, not Kyle the 10 year old boy. Her simple explanation to not take criticism personally empowered me then and resonates with me still to this day.  And a few weeks ago I found myself revisiting that lesson…

Just prior to the holidays I sent out review copies of Parent/Guardian to a few websites that had been generous with reviews on a few of my previous projects.  After weeks of no response, not unheard of for indie creators soliciting their own work, I had given up hope on receiving even a mention let alone a review.

But then, out of the blue, I received an email thanking me for submitting my comic with a link to the review. I was pretty psyched, until I clicked the link…

While not entirely damning, I will admit to a bruised ego. I heard my mother’s voice and replied thanking the reviewer for his time and consideration.  I re-read the review and was able to process it more objectively, after all it’s just one person’s opinion. I re-read it again, then one more time for good measure and found myself especially perplexed by one of the comments,

“I don’t know if I have any interest in reading more of the world…”

More?  The story was intended as a one and done. I’ve liken it to an episode of the Twilight Zone, how many of those took place in the same “world”?  What other story would I possibly want to tell in this world–

Then it hit me…it’s still just a rough draft in my head…there are a few other stories lined up in front of it…but I had to get one image on paper and share it with you.

I hope it excites you as much as it does me…and special shout out to ComicBastards for inspiring, albeit inadvertently, what I feel is a bigger and even better story!

The Brokener Beckons…

Quick status update on The Brokener…Juan Manuel Rodriguez has joined the project as colorist!  Juan’s been a professional comic colorist for over 10 years lending his talent to such publishers as Marvel, Image, IDW and Boom Studios.  His colors certainly lend a degree of legitimacy to my line art.

Take a sneak peak at the cover below and keep you eyes peeled for the release in the next few weeks!

March’s CREATIVITY CRUSADERS

Last month I shared with you the mystery photos found amongst the family heirlooms of my late in-laws and invited you all to help solve the mystery of who these people and are and what they’re doing.  We received word back from one of our field agents…

Clay Adams responded with this:
“Your in-laws were clearly spies. This photo was taken at the lair of notorious criminal mastermind Ernst Stavro Blowhard (the old guy in the glasses). You can tell by his famous “white telephone of death” in the final picture — he simply lifts the receiver and is connected to every crime boss in the world. Often he only needs to speak two words into it: “Kill him.” (Presumably the crime bosses know who he is talking about).

The woman was tougher to pin down, but I believe she is the infamous “Snow Bunny”, AKA “Bunny Bunny”, AKA “Fluffer Bunny”, AKA “Praying Mantis”. She, of course, lures you into bed and then decapitates you and eats your head. Use extreme caution around her and, whatever you do, NEVER “come in for a nightcap.”

The gentleman with the experimental photon gun (disguised as a super 8 camera) is of course, Johnny Lazenby, an Australian ne’er-do-well who somehow conned himself into the spy business. If memory serves, this was his only mission.

And that high stakes gin rummy game was a helluva nail-biter.

Boom. Mystery solved.”

…or was it?  If you have intelligence counter to that provided by Clay, we want to read it!  Hit reply and see it published here next month!

 

 

Also, if you’re like me and love Clay’s flare for creativity and story, you can find more of his sharply witted work at FRIED COMICS!

 

Visit www.friedcomics.com/free and get 3 outrageous comics sent to your inbox for free!!!

Until next month, all the best!
Kyle

 

Signals From Beyond: February

An unexpected discovery…

After my mother in law passed away a few years ago, we inherited my wife’s family photos. Thousands of photos and slides spanning well over a century. In the midst of all this history were eight photos that were different from the rest. These weren’t pictures of my wife as a child. They weren’t the pre-WWII photos of her grandfather in New Jersey or the pre-Depression era photos of her father’s farm in Illinois. No, these pictures were dramatically different. They were modern and urbane.  The people within the photos appear debonair, almost glamorous…

But who are they?  Where are they?  How did these pictures end up in the possession of my late in-laws?  Did the PhotoMat some 40 years ago mislabel the prints when developing the roll?  Were my late in-laws compelled to hold onto the photos because they felt the same intrigue and curiosity that I feel when I look at them?

There are no clues left other than the photos themselves.  Four figures (or perhaps five?).  A super 8 camera (in addition to the 35mm taking these images). A game of Gin Rummy? A pool. Palm Springs?

I invite you to help me solve this mystery, or if not solve, at least craft a story from the images. Hit reply and share your story with me, and I in turn, will share it with the rest of the subscribers in a future monthly bulletin and on From Beyond Comics’ Facebook page….and who knows, perhaps your story may even crafted into a future illustrated tale to be published by From Beyond Comics! 

From Beyond Comics’ next project, The Brokener is nearing completion!  I am working on the last page of art as writer Dan Kern is completing his final polish of the text.  If everything keeps to schedule the pages should go out to color later this month and faithful subscribers will be sent download links some time in March!  If you missed October’s bulletin that detailed the genesis of The Brokener you can find the synopsis here!

February’s CREATIVITY CRUSADERS

Friends and subscribers that are cultivating their creativity and finding meaningful work of their own:

In the next 24 hours, James Powell’s comic House of Fear will be closing its successful campaign on KickStarter.  If you or someone you know has children that love the Goosebumps series, or similarly spooky stories, then support a truly great project brought to you by a generous and creative individual!
House of Fear KickStarter Page

If you are cultivating your creativity and/or finding meaningful work in new and exciting ways I want to know! Hit reply and share all the great things with which you are involved and see it showcased here.

Until next month, all the best!
Kyle

Signals From Beyond: January

Introspection…

Happy New Year, Beyonders! I hope the holidays and new year find you and yours happy and healthy.

This time of year, and perhaps especially after this particular year, the holidays bring with it a time of reflection and assessment.
Did we accomplish everything we had set forth for ourselves?  Is our energy focused in the proper direction and on the right things?  Are we getting the results we had hoped for?  Are changes necessary in our lives?
Sometimes the answers to these questions are revealed in unexpected ways, like this email I recently recieved from a former student…

Not exactly the kind of influence I imagined having when I became a teacher 9 years ago…:)
This year’s personal resolution is to limit the technology at home. More time looking into the beautiful faces of my wife and children, less time on Facebook.
This year’s professional resolution is to build the curriculum for an animation class for our department and have it approved for next year.
This year’s artistic goal is to produce and publish at least three more stories under the From Beyond Comics label, and as you’ll read below we’re well on our way…
I couldn’t be more excited for 2017 and can’t wait to share it with you!

Retrospection…

2016 saw the birth of From Beyond Comics and the production of its first comic, Parent/Guardian. Feedback on the comic has been overwhelmingly strong and I am very proud of the work the team put forth. It was truly a global effort with Rafael penciling from the Philippines and Ilaria coloring in Italy. I encourage those of you yet to download a copy to click here. The comic is FREE to all subscribers of Signals From Beyond, our monthly digital newsletter.

Late last year I was part of a creative team that participated in Cloudscape Comics’ anthology, Epic Canadiana, the second in a series of loosely interconnected tales of Caandian superheroes, serving as a tribute to the classic Canadian comics of the 1940s. Numerous modern creators paid tribute to Canada’s classic wartime comics  – a fascinating part of Canada’s popular culture — by producing interpretations of Canadian heroism. The book features French-Canadian Nazi-hunters, immigrant adventurers, gay activists, First Nations vigilantes, autistic champions, and more, showcasing the country’s diversity.
This passion project of editor Bevan Thomas recently was awarded the Gene Day Award at the 2016 Joe       Shuster Awards for best self-published Canadian graphic novel. Our contribution to the anthology, Josephine    the Moose-Rider, was written by D.M. Higgins (publisher of Superdames Comics), colors/values by A.L. Onfroi with art and lettering handled by yours truly.  An excerpt from the story can be seen below.

 

Speculation…

So what can you look forward to from From Beyond Comics in 2017?
Next month will see an extended preview of The Brokener, which was originally highlighted in October’s bulletin with the project likely being completed and released to subscribers in March.
Additionally, production on The Ark has resumed.  This project was initially planned to follow Parent/Guardian, but seeing the trailer for Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence’s film Passengers late last summer brought it to a screeching halt. Thankfully, after seeing the movie, the parallels are minimal…and I like my story way better…more on this soon!

January’s CREATIVITY CRUSADERS

Friends and subscribers that are cultivating their creativity and finding meaningful work of their own:

Eric and Tyler from The Grand Geek Gathering took some time to sit down with myself and mega-artist Dan Fraga to talk about the creative process. Dan shares some really great Stan Lee stories and I”m pretty sure I call comic-industry titan Erik Larson an asshole. Give it a listen here!

 

Ryan Kroboth is a Pennsylvania comic book artist. His work, passionate and engaging, can be found at www.ryankroboth.com.

 

Traci Ellen is pursuing her writing passion by creating her own blog, Say Yes to Champagne. Her posts are dedicated to highlighting the simple and small joys life has to offer. Her DIY infused Vodka gift idea is brilliant! Everyone is getting homemade lemon-cello from the Roberts family next year!

If you are cultivating your creativity and/or finding meaningful work in new and exciting ways I want to know! Hit reply and share all the great things with which you are involved and see it showcased here.

Until next month, a happy 2017 to you all!
Kyle