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What I Learned From Taking a Year off From Comics (And Why I Wish I Hadn’t)

12 Jan

Which is worse—moving in the wrong direction or not moving at all?

It’s a question that I recently heard on an episode of Scriptnotes, an amazing podcast about screenwriting (and just writing in general) and I’ve been mulling it over in my head ever since. The reason why the question struck such a chord in me is because I feel like I just spent the past year not moving at all, in lieu of accidentally moving in the wrong direction and now that I’m on the other side of it I have to wonder if it did me any good.

Probably not. But at the same time, it wasn’t completely worthless.

It’s not like I went into 2015 thinking “yeah, I deserve a break.” In fact, it was quite the opposite. I remember clearly what my emotional state was last New Year’s Eve. I had big things brewing, big opportunities on the horizon and a lot of lofty ideas about how I wasn’t even going to be the same person in a year’s time. Only one of those things ended up being true and not in the way I was imagining.

So why did I fall off the face of the comic world for a year? The answer is something that I think all comic book creators go through at some point in their careers.

happy-new-year-crappy-old-year

The Little Red Hen Syndrome

As a comic book writer, I often liken myself to the story of The Little Red Hen.  If you’ve never read the story as a kid, the Cliff Notes version is that this little red hen wants to make some bread, so she goes around the farm asking the other animals to help her out. She’s all up in their face like “Who will help me make this bread?” And nobody wants to help her.

So she goes about all of the labor by her own damn self. I mean, this chicken is straight up planting wheat for this bread. She’s harvesting and milling her own grains and shit. And every step of the way she asks the other animals if they want to help her out, but they don’t. In the end, she makes this delicious bread and all the animals want to eat it, but she’s like “Fuck off, this is my bread, I’m the only one who worked for it.”

I always liked this fable because it shows how something as simple and ordinary as a loaf of bread requires time, patience and hard work to create.  Before you can even make the dough a bunch of things have to happen: wheat has to grow, eggs have to be laid, yeast has to—yeast up or whatever it does. And as a comic book writer, I often feel like that little red hen, running around all like “Who will help me make this comic?”

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Find Out Who Mystery Club Meddled With Last Summer in Snack Attack! vol. 2

16 Jun I Know Who You Meddled With Last Summer Mystery Comic
I Know Who You Meddled With Last Summer - art by Jesse Hughes

I Know Who You Meddled With Last Summer – art by Jesse Hughes

 

Mystery Club (and their talking dog) are all about solving mysteries and meddling with folk they ought not meddle with.

 

There’s no way that a lifestyle chasing after unsavory business types

 

Today let’s take a closer look at the second story in Snack Attack vol. 2, a story of betrayal, sabotage and good ol’ fashioned mystery solving- I Know Who You Meddled With Last Summer. This collaboration came together in a different way in that I picked the idea to match the artist and vice versa.

Me and Jesse Hughes of Plummy Press go way back together, we’ve been making Science Girl together for a few years now, but we’ve never had a chance to collaborate on something different. We try to fill Science Girl with as much of the kind of fun cartoony stuff that we grew up with, but it was nice to branch out even further and try something new together. Meddled is based off our shared love of Scooby-Doo and while most of the Snack Attack! stories are influenced by cartoons or kids shows that I grew up with, this is the first story where I just decided to do a straight up parody instead of an homage.

In Meddled we find our heroes, the plucky young gumshoes of Mystery Club, dealing with a mystery that hits close to home. Someone is threatening them, destroying the things they love and leaving behind notes that say “I know who you meddled with last summer.”

But as mystery-loving teens tend to do. Mystery Club has pissed off a lot of shady business people in the past and there’s a long list of potential suspects.

I Know Who You Meddled With Last Summer Rube Goldberg Trap

Mystery Club employs complex Rube Goldberg traps to get things DONE.

When I set out to write the script for Meddled I really wanted to play to Jesse’s cartoonist style, which is something I don’t always get to do when writing Science Girl. So I knew right off the bat that there were two different things I wanted to include in the script. For one, I wanted to include a scene where we see all of the suspects– just so I could have fun coming up with different monster/ghost ideas and that Jesse could have fun coming up with different designs for them.

The other idea I wanted was a Rube Goldberg-esque trap sequence. I always loved those as a kid (with Pee Wee’s breakfast machine being my all-time favorite. ) You might as well call Jesse by the name Kevin McAllistar from now on, cause this dude is a master at setting up traps. He nailed that trap scene– and the rest of the story too. He really brought his cartoonist pencil with him and I’ve always felt Jesse’s a little more of a Disney and Warner Bros. style than a Hanna-Barbara style, so it was cool to see his unique take on a Hanna-Barbara inspired story.

I Know Who You Meddled With Last Summer Mystery Comic

The character of Casey was based off of Shaggy from Scooby Doo and was named after the late Casey Kasem, who voiced Shaggy for many years.

It’s a little strange to be promoting this story now, right after the passing of Casey Kasem, who was the original voice actor for Shaggy, a role he played all the way until 2009. There is a character in Meddled named Casey, who I named as an homage to Casey Kasem. At the time when I wrote the script, I was just doing it to honor a great voice actor that I grew up enjoying (and I always loved it when he showed up on Saved by the Bell, too!)  But now it serves a sort of memorium to the actor.

Will we ever see the likes of Mystery Club again?

Maybe.

I’ve actually considered a sort of weird head-canon that connects the world of Science Girl to Mystery Club, so it’s possible those two worlds could collide sometime in the near future. But for now, you can read all about their exploits in Saturday Morning Snack Attack vol. 2 which is available in the legendary K is for Komics store.  Or of course, you could always read Meddled for free online on the Plummy Press Blog

Abigail Astoundo is Busting-Up Beasties in Snack Attack! vol. 2

4 Jun Abigail Astoundo: Beastie Buster

Abigail Astoundo: Beastie Buster

When there’s an evil beastie messing up your house, who you gonna call?

Nope, not the Ghostbusters. They couldn’t handle this business. Only Abigail Astoundo, 11-year-old Beastie Buster has what it takes to save the day.

Today we’re taking a look at the first story in Saturday Morning Snack Attack! vol. 2, a tale of action, adventure and flying llama creatures– Abigail Astoundo: Beastie Buster.

Despite her young age, Abigail is ready to take on the Astoundo family business of busting evil beasties using her family’s legendary sword, the Beastbane– a mystical blade that has the ability to turn into whatever a monster is weak against. Abigail might be strong, brave and confident when it comes to fighting beasties, but she’s about to find out there are worst things than monsters lurking in the woods– like teenage boys.

Abigail Astoundo just might be the world’s last beastie buster, but it seems her kind is about to be replaced by beastie trainers– people capable of capturing and controlling monsters using magic gauntlets. Only 11-years-old and Abigail’s already finding out that her job skill is becoming obsolete and that the world is moving on without her. But there’s still plenty of work for a beastie buster to do–because sometimes, an evil beastie is really just an innocent creature being manipulated and controlled by a beastie trainer.

 

Concept art of Abigail Astoundo by Rose McClain

Concept art of Abigail Astoundo by Rose McClain

Rose McClain, the artist for Abigail Astoundo: Beastie Buster is an up-and-coming superstar who also works on the educational comic Solution Squad and the webcomic Scoundrels. I met her at Detroit Fanfare when I was premiering Snack Attack! vol. 1 and she was there to promote Solution Squad. She picked up a copy of the book and we got to talking and she said she was an artist who’s always looking for new work. When you’re a writer and you hear those words, you don’t hesitate. I immediately got in touch with Rose for the next volume of Snack Attack! and I knew she’d be the perfect artist for Abigail Astoundo.

I got the idea to write Abigail after watching the Adventure Time episode “Fionna and Cake.” I loved the idea of the gender-swapped Adventure Time characters, but the episode kind of irked me because I wanted to know why the show couldn’t just have a female lead from the start. Abigail Astoundo was created from that frustration. I wanted a high-energy adventure story with a spunky female lead (and of course, her fabulous flying llama friend.)

Rose fell in love with Abigail immediately and I knew it was a match made in heaven. We started to collaborate together on how to bring the story together and we decided to do something new, something I hadn’t yet done as a comic book writer. The designs for the characters were all created by me and then tweaked by Rose to look more appealing.

Original Abigail Astoundo concept by Kris Moore

Original Abigail Astoundo concept by Kris Moore

It took me a long time to get Abigail’s look down right. I knew I wanted her to have some sort of monster skin cape/scarf with a hat to match, but it took me forever to get it right. Eventually I came up with the giant monster paws, which Rose took even further by giving the paws a kind of life of their own. They can hang behind Abigail like a cape, cover her own arms like sleeves or move on their own to express emotion. I’m not going to lie– I wish I had a cape like this in real life. I would wear it all the time and embarrass my family and friends.

You may have noticed that Abigail’s sword, the Beastbane, has a giant bite mark taken out of it. The bite was my idea– I wanted the sword to look old and beat up, since it was passed down in the Astoundo family for generations. I figured at some point, some monster had taken a chomp out of it.

Rose picked up on the idea and took it even further by adding a little bite mark or missing section whenever the Beastbane transforms into another object. When you’re reading the story, try to find all the little hidden bite marks.

Here’s hoping that you’ll see more Abigail Astoundo in the future. Rose and I have already talked about continuing with Abigail’s story. Where does she go from here now that she knows beastie trainers are out there, taking control of monsters and making them do bad things? How do you survive in the world when your profession of choice is dying out? These are the questions we look forward to answering.

But for now, you can find Abigail Astoundo in Saturday Morning Snack Attack! vol. 2 now available for purchase in the K is for Komics store.

 

Saturday Morning Snack Attack! vol. 2 Will Make You Nostalgic for a Big Bowl of Sugary Cereal

3 Jun Snack Attack! vol. 2 cover by Crystal Mielcarek.

N is for New! Snack Attack vol. 2 is now for sale!

If you were a kid growing up in the 90’s you had to face a Sophie’s Choice moment every Saturday morning– either stay in bed and sleep in or wake up early to watch cartoons. Thanks to Saturday Morning Snack Attack! you’ll never have to make that decision again (well, that and the invention of DVR.) After over a year in the making, the second volume of Snack Attack! is ready for your consuming pleasure, so grab a bowl of your favorite cereal and settle in for a sugar rush you won’t soon forget.

Saturday Morning Snack Attack! vol. 2 features four short stories written by yours truly and illustrated by some of the best artists I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. I’ll be giving each of the stories in the anthology an in depth look later this week, but at a glance here’s what you can expect from this next volume.

 

Abigail Astoundo: Beastie BusterAbigail Astoundo: Beastie Buster

Story: Kris Moore

Art: Rose McClain

When Abigail Astoundo takes on the family business of busting evil beasties, she discovers the worst beastie is not a monster at all, but a teenage boy who can control creatures with a magic gauntlet.

 

I Know Who You Meddled With Last SummerI Know Who You Meddled With Last Summer

Story: Kris Moore

Art: Jesse Hughes

These mystery-loving teens and their hungry dog meddled with the wrong criminal last summer– and now he’s back to get his revenge by taking away the things they  love the most: their stuff.

 

GigasbiologyGigasbiology

Story: Kris Moore

Art: Edwin Domingo

Letters: Brandon Williams

Dr. Lacey Harper is a gigasbiologist– a scientist who studies giant monsters– and the proud adoptive mother of a giant monster of her own, a bat creature named B.B.  Through Dr. Harper, B.B. has learned how to communicate with humans, but can she also learn what love is?

 

 

Sugar & Spice vs. Everything NiceSugar and Spice vs. Everything Nice

Story: Kris Moore

Art: Brandon Williams

Special Thanks: Martina Sic

A sneak peek at an upcoming webcomic by Kris Moore and Brandon Williams!

Sugar and Spice thought the Five Fingers of Death had killed someone important to them, but now that they’ve found out he’s alive they’ll do whatever it takes to get him back.  They say girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice, but they’re not– they’re made of guts!

 

Snack Attack! vol. 2 cover by Crystal Mielcarek.

Snack Attack! vol. 2 cover by Crystal Mielcarek.

Of course, what would a comic book be without a cover and the cover for Saturday Morning Snack Attack! vol. 2 has an interesting story behind it.

The cover was created by Crystal Mielcarek of Smushbox.net, a local Michigan artist and a long-lost friend of mine. About a decade ago, Crystal was dating one of my friends and the two of us hit it off well thanks to a shared love of cute things and being weird. Well, as things go when you’re in your 20’s, we lost touch after she broke up with my friend but it seems fate would bring us together once more.

I was shopping for Christmas presents at the Rust Belt Market in Ferndale, purchasing handmade soaps for the ladies in my life and as I was paying for them this adorable painting of Sailor Moon caught my eye. The minute I was done with the soaps, I sidestepped directly over to the adjacent booth to meet the artist who painted my homegirl Usagi and wouldn’t you know it– it was Crystal!

So we not only got to reunite after all these years, we also had the chance to collaborate for this volume of Snack Attack! I knew I wanted to show Mr. Snacktime in a sort of school lunch theme and Crystal’s art was the perfect match for what I had in mind. One of Crystal’s signature series are paintings of food cuties so I knew I was in good hands.

Do yourself a favor and check out Crystal’s artwork. She’s shown me some of the comic projects that she has in the works and I’m certain they will blow your freaking mind. I can’t wait to collaborate with Crystal again, but I’m afraid I’m gonna have to wait in line behind a whole bunch of other people who got there first.

Of course, Crystal is just one of the awesome artists I got to work with this time around on Saturday Morning Snack Attack! and each one of them is going to be getting their moment in the spotlight, so stick around this week and learn more about all the talent that went into making this anthology come to life.

K is for Komics 2.0 – Now with a store and header sass!

2 Jun header sass

So you might have noticed a fresh coat of paint on the place– it was just one of those moments where you look at your blog and go “no, tear it all down.” The new style of K is for Komics is designed to represent my identity as a writer using text as a visual component.

header sass

An example of some of the “header sass” you might randomly encounter on the site.

There’s a new feature for you to play around with, I’m calling it “header sass.” Depending on your web browser, each time you visit a new page, a randomly selected sassy subtitle will appear under the K is for Komics header. There’s 20 in all, so come back often and see if you can catch them all.

But the best feature of all is the fact that the K is for Komics online store is finally open. So now you can buy my comic books and even buttons from the comfort of your own home. You might notice there’s even a new product up in the store– Saturday Morning Snack Attack! vol. 2 is now for sale.  I’ll be spilling the beans all about this new anthology tomorrow, so come back and find out!

Comic Book Wednesday: Flying Solo

12 Sep Flying Solo Page 2
Flying Solo Pin-Up

Lucy the Pink Falcon Sentinel from FLYING SOLO.
Art by Edwin Domingo

Today I’m proud to introduce the final story in the SATURDAY MORNING SNACK ATTACK! anthology– FLYING SOLO with art by Edwin Domingo and story by K-Mo!

FLYING SOLO features a team of multi-colored costumed heroes called Super Sentinel Taskforce, who are an homage to Power Rangers, Super Sentai and Gatchaman.  When the Pink Falcon Sentinel starts to feel like she’s not being used to the best of her abilities, she quits the team to forge her own path– right before a devastating monster attack.

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Comic Book Wednesday: My Demonic Sweet 16

29 Aug My Demonic Sweet 16 Page 1
Bea Texting

Bea from MY DEMONIC SWEET 16 uses her powers for the first time.
Art by Johnny Whaam

If you loved “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” as a kid, but hated that the show never featured any Lovecraftian monsters, then you’re going to be excited to read the third story in the SATURDAY MORNING SNACK ATTACK! anthology– MY DEMONIC SWEET 16 with art by Johnny Whaam and story by yours truly.

Bea is your average teenage girl– meaning she’s kind of a douche sometimes. On her 16th birthday she discovers that all the women in her family are sorceresses and that her powers are awakening.  However, when she goes out of control using her magical abilities to get everything she ever wanted, she draws the attention of an interdimensional magic-eating demon. Continue reading

Comic Book Wednesday: Stake and Scepter

11 Jul Stake And Scepter Page One
Stake and Scepter Ellie and Judy

Two of the stars of STAKE AND SCEPTER — Ellie Nightshade and Judy Daywalker– as they run into the fray.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Buffy the Vampire Slayer had Sailor Moon as one of the Scooby Gang?

If so, you’re probably a lot like me and you would probably enjoy the second story in the SATURDAY MORNING SNACK ATTACK! anthology titled STAKE AND SCEPTER featuring art by John Sowder of Divine Authority Comics!

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Comic Book Wednesday: Introducing Saturday Morning Snack Attack!

27 Jun The Initiation Page 2

K is for K-MoSince Wednesday is the day that new comic books come out, I generally use Wednesday as my go-to day for working on comic books. I figure, since I’ve already got comics on the brain, it’s not hard to work up the gumption to make sure all my comic projects are chugging along nicely.

As part of the weekly process, I’d like to bring Comic Book Wednesday to the blog and document some of the progress I’ve been making in my career. This way, when I make my meteoric rise to the top of the charts, they’ll have plenty of material to use to make my 3-D documentary/live concert movie.

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