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First off I have to give the credit and thanks to the calling of this book "The World's Greatest Comics" to Titan Comic's publisher Nick Landau. I'm one of those people who find waving my own flag very hard to do but I do think this book is a collection of exceptional talents both old and new.

It is also the sister series to MONSTER MASSACRE. You'll find two different yet complimentary flavors in both books.  So here is a selection of one page from each story in the book.

A1 page002 by DeevElliottA1 page001 by DeevElliott
A1 page003 by DeevElliott
A1 page004 by DeevElliott
A1 page006 by DeevElliottA1 page009 by DeevElliott
A1 page005 by DeevElliott
A1 page007 by DeevElliott
A1 page008 by DeevElliott
A1 page015 by DeevElliottA1 page020 by DeevElliott
A1 page013 by DeevElliott
A1 page014 by DeevElliott
A1 page016 by DeevElliott
A1 page017 by DeevElliottA1 page018 by DeevElliott
A1 page019 by DeevElliott
A1 page012 by DeevElliott

A1 Volume 1 goes on sale this October. The book will be over sized, 8 x 11 inches, 176 pages and full color (except for the black and white bits) and will retail for $22.99.

Next up: A1 - WEIRDING WILLOWS chapter 1

All stories and artwork © their respective creators.
A1, Monster Massacre and Atomeka is © Dave Elliott and Garry Leach.
I thought it might be interesting to talk about the thought process behind putting a cover together.  As an example I'm going to use the October on sale A1 Annual.

A1 has always been an anthology book so with the talent shaping up for the book I wanted to do something that highlighted all the talent involved not just a single talent or strip.  Having said that we are having an exclusive cover just for the comics direct sales market through Diamond Comics Distributors of a piece by JIM STERANKO and STANLEY ARTGERM LAU that considering the combination of the two talents makes for an impressive exception.

My first thought was to go directly to the old DC Comics 80 page giants cover designs.  These covers usually had a single vertical image in the middle third of the cover and were flanked either side by two to three smaller images all reflective of the issues contents, so my first designs looked like this;

A1 cover 0 by DeevElliottA1 cover 1 by DeevElliott

As you can see on the version on the right I added gutters to the cover to give it a more comic book page feel and also let the images breathe a little bit.

As the book is being published by Titan Comics (a division of Titan Books) I had access to a design department to help me.  After some discussion with the managing editor on the book, Andrew James, we started to tweak it.  Louise Brigenshaw came up with the first suggestions and gave us some different logo options;

A1 cover 3 by DeevElliottA1 cover 2 by DeevElliott

A1 cover 5 by DeevElliottA1 cover 4 by DeevElliott

I like it when other people present me on ideas for something I already had ideas for because they make me challenge both their ideas and my own.  There is nothing wrong with reconsidering something or taking a second look even when you think you have something nailed.

Each of these ideas had their appeal and drew attention to a couple of flaws in my own concept.

I like the first design where the "1" is inside the "A" but it looked too graphic and not clear enough.  Having said that about this one it made me realize that the one I was already working with wasn't going to be so easy to read either.

Remember the most important thing to remember is to make it readable to the person that is casually browsing or seeing it small on a digital device as an icon.  You only get one chance to make an impression.

I also liked the third version with the black gutters and white type.  I'm also a black t-shirt over a white t-shirt kinda guy as well, but I'm also aware that white makes more of an impact with the general public and more white t-shirts are sold over black ones. Most people are used to reading type as black against white so to grab their attention in the quickest possible time, black type is more effective, especially when you're looking at the first volume of a series.

So my thoughts were moving towards the last design with the A1 logo more at the top but I thought the emphasis on the 'Volume 1' was also too much.  Especially as this was the first book I eventually decided to take that off the cover and it will just be on the spine and back cover.  But there was still something missing.

One of the design elements I have in the book is a series of story dividers of coffee latte art.  This is a coffee table book after all and I don't want to limit A1 to just comic art, so there should be a little of that on the cover.  Keeping in theme with the Alice in Wonderland story inside one of the barista artists, Jefferson, did me a 'Drink Me' in my coffee.  Perfect.  The idea that this book should be drunk and affect the senses like caffeine wasn't lost on me.

So now working with designer Tom Hunt we moved to this;

A1 cover 6 by DeevElliott


Or so I thought...

After a late entry from Jim Steranko and wanting to incorporate an image on the cover, the publisher, Nick Landau took a look at the cover and the contents and suggested we make a bolder statement on the cover...

A1 cover 7 by DeevElliott

Sometimes it needs that outside eye to state the obvious.

When you have a book with work by Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Jim Steranko, Alan Moore, Michael T. Gilbert, James Robinson, Scott Hampton, Sandy Plunkett, Bill Sienkiewicz and many more, I think you can boast a little.

Next up: A full look at A1 Volume 1 and its contents.


- Dave
San Diego Comic-con gets wilder and wilder as I get older and older.

It's a non-stop roller coaster of meetings, panels, signings and talking to fans at the booth.  Somewhere in there you try to get dinner with friends and catch up on things.  As much as I'd prefer to stay home sometimes it is the event that everyone makes their way to.  I get to see friends from all over the world, not just the US there.  The downside is we're usually all too tired and need to be up very early in the morning to do this all again so no one is risking getting wasted.

Last year the organizers officially opened the show half an hour earlier than before, they'd be unofficially doing it for a few years as a way of easing the crowds outside, so this year they started doing the same thing again, letting people in before you had a chance to get to your booth.  It's a grueling show where you have to be at your table for 10 hours a day with breaks for peeing, panels and signings.

My show got off to a great start.  I flew in on Tuesday, a day early and spent the evening discussing a project I am doing with dashing Dave Wilkins called FENRIS.  When you're doing creator owned material you got to make sure you're on the same page as your co-creator.  These projects can often be works that you do just for the love of it so you'd better both be loving it.  That's not a problem here as we both love the influences for the project and the possibilities for it.

Wednesday kicked off with the morning spent with a producer who I have been helping develop a project with.  It isn't mine and I came on late in the day but it's such a cool project I'm happy to help out.  I'll be co-writing the graphic novels for it as well as working with him on developing a project of mine for TV.  Had a blast hanging with one of the actors that may be part of the series if we get it launched.  Super nice guy and yes, you've definitely heard of him. ;-)

Went out for dinner with some great artist friends of mine after preview night.  Took the opportunity because the rest of the con can disappear without another chance to get together.  Glad I did because I only saw them fleetingly after that.

Thursday I got to spend mostly at my booth.  I won't lie, it is the biggest high in the world to have so many people come by loving what you're doing and telling them where it goes from here.

Friday I got to do a panel with a truly veteran creator, JACK KATZ.  We both have projects coming out from Titan Comics, his is called FIRST KINGDOM.  It is finally getting collected in hardback form after being started in the 1980's.  But when he started to talk I realized he was farther ahead than all of us.  He was talking about GMO foods and the way governments are treating their people as the inspiration for it 30 years ago.  I could see from the looks on the faces of the moderators that he was going to talk more than his allotted time, but I had that feeling in my stomach of being guilty for cutting him short.  Sure I wanted to discuss my project, but Jack should have had a panel to himself and I'd have been in the front row.

Saturday's panel was easier and more relaxed.  It was a deviantART panel where I got to share the stage with Yuumei, Brian Kesinger, Hal Hefner and moderator Ron Martino (Techgnotic).  Bless Ron, he always puts me on awesome panels with fantastic creators. The only shame was it only lasted an hour and we all had to run back to our booths or signings.

I did then get to have dinner with Stanley Artgerm Lau and Dave Wilkins!!!

I've skipped a lot of things I can't talk about yet, frankly because a lot of convention projects don't happen and you feel an ass afterwards for mentioning it.  When I can you'll see them here.

Monday morning was spent leisurely relaxing and talking with my friends Dave Wilkins and the master of the brush, Alex Horley!!  Great way to end the show.  I've been promising myself this would be my last, at least for a few years.  Now I'm torn.  I'll go next year if I can afford to take my daughters.

One last thing.

San Diego Comic-con is a huge show and a mountain of people are involved in organizing it.  Over the years the artists that were the main focus of the show have been marginalized more and more.  The leader of their mainline of defense is Clydene Nee.  Without her there would be no artists and more t-shirt towers.  Three years ago DeviantART came to comic-con to offer support and to make the artist's experience a better one.  Together they're succeeded.  So next time you get the chance please go and thank Ron Martino, Josh Wattles and especially Angelo Sotira. 

Thanks guys!

- Dave
Sleepy Hollow, NY
It's Sunday night as I do the last of my packing for the show.  It's a 3000 mile trek to San Diego from New York and I've been doing it almost every year since 1988.  The show has changed a lot in that time as have I.

For the first time since I started going to the show I am going to be there purely as my capacity as a creator.  I'll still be doing some editing and packaging but this will only be on projects that I am creatively involved on.

It'll be fun to get first hand feedback on Weirding Willows and Odyssey.  The first issue of A1 sold out and 2 seems to have gone the same way.  I'll have my personal copies to sell at the show and then they'll be gone, until the trades next year.

A1 1 Final Design by DeevElliott

I'll also be launching SHARKY at the show.  It was published by Image Comics several years ago but I've only just decided to do trades of the material.  The first trade will collect the first four issue mini-series as well as all the variant covers and character designs for the project.  My friend and artist on the series, Alex Horley, will also be on hand!

SHARKY page001 by DeevElliott

My previous journal focused on the next big release that will be at the show and that is MONSTER MASSACRE.  Alex was a part of that too, as were Dave Wilkins, Andy Kuhn, Dave Dorman, Mark A. Nelson, Jack Kirby, Tom Raney, Ron Marz and more.  You can see more here;…

USA Today page001 by DeevElliott

As many of the creators will be there we will be doing a couple of signings, one on Friday and the other on Saturday.  For those who couldn't get passes for the show but will be there any way you can catch us at TRICKSTER across the road from the convention center where we will also be joined by Stanley Artgerm Lau.  Stanley has collaborated on the A1 volume 1 cover with Jim Steranko and will also be doing the MONSTER MASSACRE volume 2 cover.

I'll be doing three panels during the show.  The first on Friday will be the TITAN COMICS panel right before the first signing.  The second panel will be at 12:15 on Saturday which will be a DeviantART panel which I'll be on with Yuumei, Hal Hefner and Brian Kesinger, hosted by Techgnotic.

SDCC Titan MM by DeevElliottSDCC Trickster MM by DeevElliott

On Sunday I'll be wrapping up the show talking to a couple hundred librarians who have traveled from all over the country to the show to see what projects are coming up that they can use to engage young people with in libraries and schools.

Any one who comes by the booth can also receive a limited series of postcard 'Field Guides' so some of the first characters that will be appearing in Weirding Willows.

Most of these you will have seen here on my page at one point or other, these just have updated information that I've added now that the series is underway and it has been evolving in my head.





If any one has any trouble getting hold of the comics, let me know.  I wasn't intending to do mail-order but if any of you really want the comics and books let me know and I'll see what I can do.

If you are at the show, I'll be in Artists Alley table EE3.  Please come by and say hello.


- Dave
When creating the anthology 'A1', Garry Leach and myself wanted a title that spoke to nothing about its contents other than the level of quality its creators were striving for.  You can't get any more non-generic than A1.

We didn't strive to be highbrow with A1, but many creators took it that way and so did its audience.

Time to bring everyone down a bit then. The next anthology I launched was MONSTER MASSACRE.  Just as A1's title said all we wanted it to, Monster Massacre laid this one out too.  It was kind of a warning for lovers of purple prose beware, you probably won't find it here.


I loved Heavy Metal magazine from the first issue and I loved the artistic sensibilities of British and European comics growing up, so when the chance came around to do another anthology I wanted to do something a lot more pulpier. Despite the title, creators didn't have to actually include monsters being massacred or massacring (say those two together after a few shots), but they got the idea.

So, 20 years later and I'm getting around to doing another book.  Why so long?  I have no reasonable answer other than "shit happens." However, I do intend to make up for lost time.  This next Monster Massacre book will be nearly 3 times the page count of the previous version, over-sized (8 x 11 inches) and hardback.  And if that's not enough for you, I am already at work on volumes 2 & 3 of the series!

Now sit back and take a look through a preview of MONSTER MASSACRE volume 1...

USA Today page001 by DeevElliott
USA Today page002 by DeevElliott
USA Today page003 by DeevElliott
USA Today page004 by DeevElliott
USA Today page005 by DeevElliott
USA Today page006 by DeevElliott
USA Today page007 by DeevElliott
USA Today page008 by DeevElliott
USA Today page009 by DeevElliott
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USA Today page011 by DeevElliott

I personally think that comics often take themselves too seriously.  That a statement must be made or an epic told.  Nothing wrong with that, but not all the time and not grim and gritty all the time either.  Comics should be both fun to read AND to produce.  Not a single story in this book was by a person who didn't want to tell that particular story and not a single creator had anyone telling them what to do.

MONSTER MASSACRE volume 1 is 160 pages, hard back, 8 x 11 inches and retails for $22.99 US/ $25.95 Canada/ £17.99 UK published by Titan Comics

All the material in the book is copyright their respective creators. ATOMEKA and MONSTER MASSACRE are copyrights of Dave Elliott and Garry Leach.

Make Mine Monster Massacre!!

I'm 3 weeks away from launching A1, my first title through my deal with Titan Comics/Books.  It's a journey that started in 1986 when Garry Leach and myself first started kicking around the idea of doing our own comic.  We'd be able to do what we wanted, when we wanted and how we wanted.  Bonus was owning it.  Back then the thrill was not about owning the rights so you could make your own film deal, just doing something where you called the shots yourself was good enough and worth the effort of doing it yourself.

Only there was a hiccup.  We shared our dream with others.  Our little 32 page baby grew and grew.  Not with our material but the material from our friends who all asked if they could do something for it.  Often you say yes, because you're 90% certain that the other person won't deliver, that they'll back out at the last minute and leave you hanging.

That didn't happen very often.

32 pages became 48, then 64, 80 pages (like those old styled DC specials), but no.  We finally capped the first issue at 96 pages (100 if you include the covers).  Garry and myself had about 8 pages each of that. Issue 2 went up to 120 pages.  We got even less of that.  Issues 3-6? Forget about it.  We were publishers, editors, designers, marketers, anything but creators. 

And it's been that lopsided ratio since.

Well no more goddamn it! It took a while, but I finally feel the time is right to bring back A1.  There will be two versions.  First up, the mini-series.  6 32 page comics.  Each issue with three strips.  Two created and written by myself, the other one by my friends at Stellar Labs, an incredibly creative art studio based in Jakarta.  They in turn were originally a satellite studio for the design, concept powerhouse, Imaginary Friends Studios.  Both those companies are good friends of mine and we've been through a couple of tough times together.  Sharing this opportunity with them is a pleasure.

So here are all 18 covers to the six issue series that kicks off in June, 2013.

If you're new to my page, those three strips are;

CARPEDIEM - The worlds greatest assassins on a single team.  7 agents only known but their code names given for the days of the week.  Strange how no one likes Monday.

ODYSSEY - A major event happened one hundred years ago that sparked the beginnings of a war.  The sides are building their armies and the battlefield is earth.  How can one lone hero stop it when he doesn't even know what's happening?  He just knows his country isn't the same place it was when he fought for it in World War 2.  John Wilson hasn't aged a day since he died in 1942.

WEIRDING WILLOWS - Alice was once a little girl who went to Wonderland.  She traveled back and forth several times.  Then she discovered another doorway.  A wonderous world called OZ.  Then another that led to Mag Mell, home of the Great God Pan and Neverland.  There are more that haven't been discovered yet, but nothing can prepare you for what else lies in the Wild Wood of the Weir.

A1 1 page001 by DeevElliott

A1 1 page002 by DeevElliott

A1 1 page003 by DeevElliott

A1 1 page004 by DeevElliott

A1 1 page005 by DeevElliott

A1 1 page006 by DeevElliott

A1 1 page007 by DeevElliott

A1 1 page008 by DeevElliott

A1 1 page009 by DeevElliott

A1 1 page010 by DeevElliott

A1 1 page011 by DeevElliott

A1 1 page012 by DeevElliott

A1 1 page013 by DeevElliott

A1 1 page014 by DeevElliott

A1 1 page015 by DeevElliott

A1 1 page016 by DeevElliott

A1 1 page017 by DeevElliott

A1 1 page018 by DeevElliott

In part 2 I'll tell you about the other A1...

Let me know if your LCS (Local Comic Shop) hasn't ordered them and we'll figure out a way to get you copies.



Ps. You can also find me through Facebook here:

Carpediem is © Stellar Labs
Odyssey and Weirding Willows is © Dave Elliott
What follows is an interview I did recently for a new project called DRAVN that is launching in this month's HEAVY METAL magazine (issue 262).  The interview was conducted by Richard Caldwell and ran first on his website The Lottery Party…

Dave Elliott is a veteran writer, artist, editor and art director. Along with revitalizing his ATOMEKA label elsewhere, he is also co-writing and packaging DRAVN, a new thing from filmmaker Jesse Negron debuting RIGHT NOW in the pages of Heavy Metal Magazine.

DRAVN Heavy Metal issue 262 cover by KENDRICK LIM by DeevElliott

How did you first come to learn of the DRAVN project? What was your very first impression of the premise?

Having done two issues of Heavy Metal back to back I was recommended by Kevin [Eastman] to Jesse Negron, the creator of DRAVN, as someone who could help them put together their special issue of the magazine. Then as they started to send me some of the materials they were working on and I got to know the property I became that guy who had the fresh set of eyes to the project and started helping them on the development of the project directly. It's a big, rich and creative universe they've created so I couldn't help but start having ideas. In the end I co-wrote three of the stories and edited the dialogue on the other stories.  As only half the magazine had been assigned to artists at this point I brought on board Stellar Labs to produce the art for the other half of the issue.

What, in your opinion, makes DRAVN so spectacular? Science-fantasy spins on history and mythology are not entirely new, but what really sparked your own delectable interest and sets DRAVN apart and makes it unique?

Dravn isn't so much a 'spin' as it is a whose been interfering with human evolution and timeline and why. There is a power at play with an agenda that isn't necessarily in our best interests although they are seeding technology that is far ahead of our time, and we have to try to build it with what we have at hand.
For my own part I really like seeing a world being built that isn't just for one single story but can spin-off and survive in many directions at different time periods as you can possibly think of. And unlike Star Wars there is a much bigger story behind everything else.

DRAVN Heavy Metal issue 262 cover by KENDRICK LIM by DeevElliottDRAVN - Britney by Stanley Artgerm Lau by DeevElliott

Jesse is the creator and lead writer, and he actually is new to comics, although he does have a notable Hollywood background, and teaches at the college level. The main character designer I know is Keith Thompson, who I was shocked to learn also provided character designs for the big bad Pacific Rim feature film. Major pedigrees right there, and you mentioned Stellar Labs being in the mix as well, but who exactly are some of the other artists bringing this monster to life? Was it a task finding just the right artisan visionaries for just the right artistic vision?

Jesse is new to comics but certainly not new to storytelling. My contribution was to bring on Stanley Lau, Kendrick Lim, Garrie Gastonny, Sami Basri, Erfan Fajar, Sakti Yuwono and Jessica Kholinne to the project. Both Imaginary Friends Studios and Stellar Labs have a pedigree outside of comics for concept and design artwork. Most of that was already done by Jesse and Keith when we started so we helped refine some of it.
Including work from the amazing Camilla d'Errico, the issue feels like a regular issue of Heavy Metal in that it has several different stories, set in different time periods, each of which can be read separately but when viewed as a whole you can really appreciate where it is going and the potential these stories are just scratching the surface of.

GWEN P2 Color 130124 by DeevElliottGwen P13 Lne Hrf by DeevElliott

So as the DRAVN premise is debuting in Heavy Metal Magazine, will it eventually spin out into its own collected thing, or is Heavy Metal just gentlemanly opening the door? And as it should appeal to those discerning Heavy Metal readers, does this mean there will be the sort of content to make One Million Moms cringe in secret joy?

Hahaha! I don't know about the Million Moms but we did want to make sure it would be a good fit for Heavy Metal even though Jesse's plan is to extend its life way beyond the pages of the magazine. Right now we are working on another 40 pages of material to add to this for a book version that will have more designs and back story to it. The bigger plan is to have 3 large graphic novels that tells one story while threading through several others. This will lay the main foundation for the DRAVN universe and then there are a hundred different other stories to tell.

The story touches upon many different familiar names, but which character is your favorite?

That's a difficult one. I came late to the game as so much of this was written and developed by Jesse, but as I started to expand some of the stories I think I gravitated towards the stories of Vlad Tepes and Gwen and Arthur's stories. Especially Gwen's story as this deviates more than the others from what we have come to know. Arthur's character is someone who I associate with Barack Obama. He thinks he's doing the right thing but is also willing to do the wrong thing if it gets the results he wants. The ends justifies the means. I love characters that aren't clear cut and that can't be pigeon holed easily.

HM Vlaad Color LRF Page#01 130217 by DeevElliottHM Vlaad Color LRF Page#11 130217 by DeevElliott

With DRAVN in mind then, do you feel that fiction is most effective as metaphor, or as escape?

First and foremost I have always felt fiction is escape. Anything that takes you from where you are to someplace else is by definition escape. I think the metaphor is the most effective way of achieving that escape. By creating something that feels familiar and resonates with you it's easier to believe in and therefore a more immersive experience can be achieved. With DRAVN we're taking you to places that you've heard of and are familiar with and subverting them. Not much different from doing an "Else Worlds" or a "What If" story but with history and myth.

In addition to DRAVN and your work with Heavy Metal, you are also spearheading the return of ATOMEKA, the comics label you co-founded with artist Garry Leach way back when, now to be published through Titan Publishing's new comics imprint. How important is this return to form for you- is it like finally scratching an old itch?

In relaunching Atomeka I'm going back to why I got into publishing in the first place, to do my own creator-owned material, only I got lost along the way.
For a few years in the early 1990s it looked as though comics were going to break back through to the mainstream. A1 had launched very successfully for an independently produced anthology. We sold 25,000 copies of a $10 black and white comic. I took a few opportunities to work on both newsstand and direct sale market initiatives to expand comics readership. Unfortunately that readership proved too attractive to both DC and a lesser extent Marvel. Their comics started to age with their audience. The same happened in the UK with 2000AD. It's okay to do that provided that you replace it with something else that can serve as a new entry point for new readers. There wasn't that replacement so comics have been circling the event horizon ever since.
Fortunately comics have been growing in other areas such as young adult graphic novels like Amulet, Bone and Diary of a Wimpy Kid and we're finally finding there is a new audience for the medium. How many of them want to find us is a different matter.
With A1 and Monster Massacre, as well as the Heavy Metal issues I have been packaging, I am viewing it as co-operative publishing. Creators coming together to create their own ideas and concepts in a platform they can all get behind and benefit from. 10-15 creators promoting a single book is better than those artists doing so individually, and by virtue of both books being series the work and ideas within will have a much longer shelf life than the average graphic novel. The big difference for myself is that I am putting myself into the mix as a creator again and I gotta say, I'm enjoying it.

HM Skull Color LRF Page#02 130220 by DeevElliottHM Skull Color LRF Page#07 130224 by DeevElliott

You mentioned how the more mainstream publishers have been ill-equipped and slow to respond to the need of maintaining readerships as readers age, but could it not be argued that properties like Heavy Metal, and DRAVN today, exist purposefully for the adult readers of sequential arts? And if such is the case, might it be construed that if adult fans of fantasy fiction require an escape from these illustrious times, that such a comic as DRAVN exists to not insult their intelligence?

First off I think it was a conscious decision for some publishers to move away from the all-ages fare they were producing to the more mature material they're publishing now. There was a thriving older reader with more disposable income who could afford a pricier publication by going to glossier stock and better binding.
As far as Heavy Metal is concerned, it was created for those who loved the comic medium and wanted something a little more mature than the Marvel and DC Comics offered in the 70s. I don't think of Heavy Metal as 'Adult' but mature in the same sense that Harry Potter isn't for young kids. It gets labelled as Adult because prose can get away with talking about things that can be for a young adult audience but when you start adding imagery to that it suddenly becomes more mature or adult.
Now DRAVN is an example of that. I would put DRAVN right next to Harry Potter or Hunger Games in terms of audience. I would be comfortable giving a well read 12-14 year old this copy of Heavy Metal to read and the series itself could be a readership from 12 to 80. When you find yourself asking "how can I write this for a 12/16/21/35/42/65 year old?" you're in danger of insulting your reader's intelligence. But let's also not forget that many an author have done very well out of insulting their readers intelligence.

Excellent. And what, in closing, do you think will surprise readers the most about DRAVN?

If I told you it wouldn't be a surprise.
I will say that the blend of genres and ideas, pulling from folklore and religion gives it a rich grounding. Buy this issue of Heavy Metal and you'll get a taste of what is to come. Like all creators, our work lays ourselves bare. We are at your mercy.

For more DRAVN, hit the official website. For more Heavy Metal, hit their official website. For more Dave, love up his DeviantART.

DRAVN is on dA!! Hit them up and Watch them here:

I have been wondering where to start with a series of pieces about the reality of working in comics.  It's hard because I kept thinking of more warnings to offer than positive signs of encouragement.  Many creators are at that stage when asked how best to enter the comics industry they simply reply "Don't!"

Yesterday a creator called Jerry Ordway wrote a journal spotlighting his plight.  He'd been working in comics for 30 years when the work started drying up.  He's an incredibly talented artist who is just over 50 years old yet the publishers he worked for now want something new.  As Jerry had thought he'd carry right on working until he retired this came as quite the shock.

Here is his piece;


I've copied the piece below;

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Life over fifty

"I want to address a few things that have  been bothering me a lot lately. Bear with me, if you're a fan of my work or not. This comes from my perspective, with over 33 years in the comic book industry, and my experiences are common to many of your favorite seasoned comic books creators.

"First off, I want you all to understand that I welcome , nourish and encourage new blood in the comic book world.  I think it's healthy for any industry, to be welcoming to new talent. When I started in comics, in 1980, many of my artistic heroes were in the same age group I myself am in now. I was thrilled to be in the same club as Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, Gene Colan, Joe Kubert, Curt Swan, John and Sal Buscema, John Romita, Don Heck, Gray Morrow and many many others. They were all valued for their skills, and their experience, and most if not all all worked steadily into their 70's, or until they passed away. 

"In my own experience, I have worked most of my years for DC Comics, and that was by choice. The people who worked there were good people, and I still call many of them friend. Like any young artist, I had offers to work elsewhere, and occassionally dipped my toe into other company's ponds, but always came back to DC. At DC, I have had many successes, and opportunities. I was thrilled to help establish the All Star Squadron and Infinity Inc with Roy Thomas. I was thrilled to be part of the original "Crisis" as well as "Zero Hour" and "Infinite Crisis," all major DC character event comics. I was thrilled to help DC share in the success of the 1989 blockbuster "Batman" movie by drawing one of the best selling comic book movie adaptations ever.

"I poured my heart and soul into reviving the character of Superman, working alongside John Byrne and Marv Wolfman at first, later graduating to writing Superman's adventures alongside people who became my best friends. I left the Superman universe at a time when our successes paved the way for a TV series, "Lois and Clark" as well as an unsuccessful attempt to bring the Death of Superman to the big screen with Tim Burton and Nic Cage. Superman as a property was revived, and led to a ton of Death of Superman merchandise, a higher profile in the public eye, and renewed interest among kids.  A cartoon series did make it on the air, and was terrific. Smallville the tv series owes a lot to what happened when I was involved in the comics.

 "I moved on to pouring my soul into reviving Captain Marvel, and it was a wonderful experience that lasted through an original graphic novel, and 48 regular issues of the monthly comic plus an annual. After that, I seemed to suffer from the cancellation of Shazam, and a firing from the Superman books I had been invited back to, before I even started. Bad feelings ensued, and I stopped working for DC.

"I went to work at Marvel for a few years, and enjoyed my work on the Avengers, Captain America, Thor, as well as drawing the company wide crossover "Maximum Security: and the spin off USAgent mini-series. When my opportunities dried up at Marvel, I went to work on a smattering of Wildstorm books, on comics such as Tom Strong, Top Ten, Planetary and a mini-series with Hollywood writers Danny Bilson and Paul Demeo, "Red Menace."

"I returned to DC as well, drawing Wonder Woman with Walt Simonson writing, and then fell into the situation of being a "fill-in" artist, jumping from title to title, sometimes drawing a whole issue or two, sometimes drawing only a partial issue, when the regular artists were either in deadline trouble, or unavailable. I was offered, and accepted an exclusive DC contract in hopes that this would somehow help me to land a regular assignment, and steady work. After 9 years of being the guy who was thrown at late deadline material, I was still not any closer to getting regular work, nor was I being treated by the company as a valued employee. In my last year on exclusive contract, I was starved of work. Kind of hard to believe, but there it was.The contract had no clause to require DC to give me a minimum amount of work, as this problem never happened in the past, and could have happen, or so I thought at the time.  I drew the last two issues of JSA so that the regular artist could jump onto one of the new "52" comic launches. After that, I spent the summer trying to use whatever connections I had to get work-- any work. I was finally given a short Batman themed story to draw, a story that was never published. Dan Didio kindly invited me to join him on a new Challengers story, and Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Grey asked for me on their Freedom Fighters re-launch. That manifest itself as the now concluding Human Bomb four issue series, done after my contract expired, but promised while the contract was still in effect.

"I am thrilled to be well remembered, and respected in the comic book community, and to have fans willing to pay me to draw commissions, but I got into comics in order to tell stories, not to draw custom art. I still feel vital, and still want to be at that table. Do I think DC comics owes me anything? Yes and no. I understand that no company owes anything that isn't contractually stipulated, but in my heart, I think I deserve better than being marginalized over the last 10 years. I'm not retired, I'm not financially independent. I'm a working guy with a family, working for a flat page rate that hasn't changed substantially since 1995. I may have opportunities at smaller companies, companies that pay less per page than I made in 1988, with no royalties or ownership of any kind. I'm not at all looking down at that, but it is hard to reconcile, as I can't work faster, and refuse to hack my work out to match the rate. I have pride in what I do, and always have. As to my part in the history of dc for the past 33 years, I was a highly visible and successful part of it, not a minor footnote.

"Getting back to the beginning of this essay, and to the artists I loved as a kid, all I ask is for some of the same consideration my generation of creators and editors gave to the older guard in the 1980's. My work is still sharp, my mind is still full of stories to tell, and I'm still willing to work all hours of my day to meet my deadlines. Why am I out of work from the publishers? Why are my friends, people who turned in great work, worthy of hardcover and trade paperback reprints, not able to get work? 

"As a comic reader and customer, the publishers use our older work in collected editions, for what they call first copy royalties, no reprint fees. They publish the All Star Squadron trade, for example and you buy it for whatever the cost. My royalty is maybe a couple hundred dollars, if I'm lucky, for 11 issues worth of work. On a recent Absolute Infinite Crisis hardcover, I had 30-odd pages reprinted in there, a book that retailed for over a hundred dollars-- a book that DC never even gave me a copy of, and the royalty amounted to a few dollars, I couldn't buy a pizza on that windfall. I want to work, I don't want to be a nostalgia act, remembered only for what I did 20, 30 years ago.

"Older fans need to voice their opinions, and ask the various companies why (fill in the blank) person isn't drawing or writing comics for them anymore. If you like the Superman books enough to spend a hundred dollars on a volume, I don't understand why your buying power can't wake the companies up to the fact that they have a willing and able talent pool idling. 

"Oh and put in a good word or two for me as well, why don't you:)"

- Jerry Ordway

Jerry is an incredibly well liked creator whose work is incredible, so should he take the route of doing a Kickstarter he should do very well. ; But what Jerry is going through isn't something new.  Artists have always had this happen to them.  Even the most talented and dedicated of artists face the day that editors want a new face.  Unfortunately that period of turn over is getting faster.  Comics are becoming like Hollywood these days, you may get the chance to draw a comic for a big company but if it doesn't sell and it may well not be because of the art, you may have a tough time getting a second chance.  Dedication, loyalty and adhering to tight deadlines aren't rewarded.  It is what is expected of you. 

Don't paint your career into a corner.  Learn how to promote yourself.  If you're an artist learn how to write and create your own material.

For those you see in the industry, getting in to the industry is the easy part.  Staying there and making a living is the hard part.  Marvel and DC while paying the best rates, those rates haven't gone up with inflation or in line with the cost of the comics.  If you work at one of the smaller companies and you're penciling 20 pages a month you could be looking at a pay check of less than $2000 dollars.  20 pages of pencils is a LOT of work.  That means living in a city like New York or Los Angeles is impossible and if you have to raise a family on that?  Forget it.  It is a long hard road but creating your own ideas and strips have a better chance of paying off in the long run.

The sales of comic books through traditional outlets are still dropping.  Sure there are the exceptions to the rule like The Walking Dead that amounts to two thirds of the sales of Image Comics, but the industry is producing more titles than ever for diminishing returns and something has got to give soon.  Comic companies are burning through creators who are just working for backend deals that aren't realized.

Now more than ever you need to think not only do you REALLY want to do this but you need to start thinking about doing it all yourself or reaching out to others here on DeviantART to work with to build something of your own.  Give it away for free on a website and then charge for a paper collection using Kickstarter.  Still draw Marvel and DC characters to bring people to your page here but show them YOUR ideas and concepts.  Then sell them a copy of it.


- Dave
Getting the party started.

Okay, well it might not be a party exactly.  I'm just having a little artistic license.


ATOMEKA logo by Garry Leach by DeevElliott

ATOMEKA PRESS was a small boutique publishing company founded in 1987 by Garry Leach and myself with help later from Mike Lake and Titan Distributors.

The initial concept was for a small regular anthology that Garry and myself could split.  At that time the concept of doing work and having it published while retaining ownership of it was still very new and opportunities were rare.  So Garry and myself set out to do our own thing.  The first title was "Skit City" which just didn't gel but was the working title for a few months.

During that time and while attending several comic conventions with other creators we started mentioning what we were planning to do down the pub afterwards.  All of a sudden we had several creators wanting to do short stories that we could put in the back of each issue.  When we started realizing that the list of would be contributors was getting way too long, we thought about expanding the page count from 32 to 48.  Then it became 64 pages. Then 80 and finally we capped the first issue at 96 pages (issue 2 would be 120 pages).  It was as we hit the 48 page mark that we settled on "A1" as a title.  It spoke more about the quality we were striving for rather than subject matter.  It also didn't suggest anything to creators when it came to producing their art.

At that time we could pay a small page rate but it would be just for one printing.  Now to my knowledge there was no company then or now that would pay anything if they didn't retain control over the material in someway or other.  This was before people started thinking about media rights which really only became a consideration when Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird launched TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES on an unsuspecting world.

We started out to do six and actually did seven books.  When we started we hoped it would be the beginning of something big but when we were done we realized the drain on our time had pulled us away from being creators.

For myself I had created a name for myself as someone who could build or rebuild things and they sold.  Everyone wanted the Editor/Packager me and less the Creator me.  Most would promise if I turned XX around I could then do my own thing.

Next thing you know you're married with kids and have to follow where the most money is (or so you hope...).

Well finally I have one daughter in college and the other about to go. Now I can back to creating again.  Creating things and retaining ownership as well.


Over the years I've been asked if I had plans to relaunch A1.  I didn't because I felt the first series achieved it's purpose and any follow up would put pressure on anyone doing anything now.  I mean the pressure of comparing yourself to Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison, Dave Gibbons, Ted McKeever, Brian Bolland, Garry Leach, Jamie Hewlett, Moebius etc... would make anyone nervous.

But then I had an idea.  I would relaunch it but as a brand.  A1 will relaunch next June as a full color monthly comic.  It will be more in line of that dream of 1987.  It will be a new home to many of my ideas and I'll still be able to include friends concepts in the mix.

HM A1 ad by DeevElliott

Then two months later the first A1 annual launches.  144 pages of stories and art from creators around the world.  This will not be a collection of the monthly book, this will be completely different material in a completely different format.  The monthly book will be a 32 pages American sized comic.  The annual will be an 8 x 11 over-sized hardback book.  There will be a second annual called MONSTER MASSACRE that will emphasize more fun, sex, blood and action (not always in that order) and will be in the same over-sized hardback format.

HM MM ad by DeevElliott

Like its predecessor the A1 annual will contain stories and art from both established and new creators.  It's not always about trying to tell mini 'Watchmen' caliber stories, A1 is about being creative, experimenting and having fun.  It's also about taking your first steps into a Creator Owned World.

We've set up a publishing deal with TITAN BOOKS in the UK for worldwide distribution and they'll also be handling digital and foreign rights for the editions.

Atomeka will continue packaging at least one issue of HEAVY METAL each year.  This will serve to promote what we are doing to their audience so much of the material in those issues of Heavy Metal will appear in the Monster Massacre and A1 annuals.

HEAVY METAL September Cover - KUNKKA by DeevElliott

Heavy Metal issue 260 covers by DeevElliott

I am writing this all out so it should answer any questions from any one wanting to submit their stories or work to appear in either of these books or anything Atomeka is doing.

1/ The most IMPORTANT FACT that you need to know now.  I am not paying page rates and everyone who is on board is there to primarily have fun and maybe try out a new idea or concept.  All monies are royalty based and while there will be a few comp copies further copies of the books are available for sale at wholesale rates.

2/ It is 100% CREATOR OWNED.  What you do stays yours.  The only thing we require is your understanding on is that we aim to keep these editions in print for as long as possible.  Same goes for hopefully foreign editions of these books as well.  Your material will stay in the book until the editions and series are discontinued.  However you are free to use the same story/materials in any other collection you wish.  It is YOURS.

3/ As they are annuals we will be paying royalties once a year.  If successful we'll make that twice a year.  But do not bank on this as a money earner.  We're doing this to get our ideas out, have fun and buying a few beers at the end of it is a bonus, although if you attend a lot of conventions and can sell a lot of copies yourself, it can be a nice bonus.

4/ If the material you submit goes into Heavy Metal there will be a payment made to you of $75 per page (that is the Heavy Metal page rate now).  That covers the entire creative team. 

5/ Remember, this gives you a platform to show your ideas and property to a publisher if the world you're creating has a life bigger than the 5-15 pages that we can allot.  Titan Books themselves are always looking for projects so this can be a way to get it to their attention.

For myself I am putting my creative efforts into WEIRDING WILLOWS with Barnaby Bagenda and ODYSSEY with Garrie Gastonny, both colored by Sakti Yuwono and all from the Jakarta art house STELLAR LABS run by Sunny Gho.

WEIRDING WILLOWS Cheshire the Cat by DeevElliott

STELLAR LABS are doing their own creator owned strip call CARPE DIEM, and take it from me it's one of the best strips ever about assassins.


While many creators I know have signed up for regular spots I do want to give the opportunity to some the Deviant's on here whose work I think is terrific and deserving of seeing print.  I'm also planning on doing some DeviantART exclusives like variant covers and T shirts, but that'll be down the way a little.

Any questions or queries let me know by either posting below or sending me a message.

I'm hoping the next few years will be both fun and exciting.

If you pick up a copy of HEAVY METAL issues 259 or 260 you'll get a little taste of what's in store.


- Dave
Well I was hoping to post some cool new artwork this week along with a couple of journals, but my dear little sweetheart Hurricane Sandy had other ideas.

As I sit here in my local library using their power and internet, two things my house doesn't have, I'm scrabbling to stay on deadline with 3 different and unrelated to each other projects.  I'll be posting art for all 3 here soon.

In the meantime, anyone with any spare cash, there are victims around the coast that need help.  The Red Cross actually seem to not be needing much so take a look where else you can donate or just buy creators books who have been affected by the damage.

For instance, the new issue of Heavy Metal (number 259) just went on sale and it would most definitely help me if you brought a copy.

Hopefully we shouldn't be without power for much longer and I'll give you an update and the journals I've been promising.

You can follow me on Twitter: DeevElliott
Instagram: DeevElliott
Facebook at:
And please "Like" Atomeka at:

See you all shortly.

In the meantime, here's a piece of art I did inking over Brendan McCarthy 20 years ago in an attempt to get some work inking him.

BMParadox by DeevElliott


- Dave
Yes folks another behemoth of a convention is upon us.  Hoards of fans will descend upon the Javits Center in Manhattan starting tomorrow night.

This year I'll once more be in Artists Alley.  My table is C6 if you want to track me down.

This year my friends IMAGINARY FRIENDS STUDIOS will be in town.  Stanley Artgerm Lau, Kendrick Lim and Kai Lim will be a couple of aisles down in U10 & 11.  They'll have exclusive prints and art for sale.  If you missed it you'll be able to also pick up the issue of HEAVY METAL they did last year.

DeviantArt Heavy Metal cover 2011 by ARTGERM by DeevElliott

At my table I'll have both this issue and the new issue just released this week.  The cover below is by Kendrick.
HEAVY METAL September Cover - KUNKKA by DeevElliott

Beneath the silky satin cover lies stories from Dave Wilkins, Alex Horley, Sami Basri, Ron Marz, Tom Raney, Toby Cypress, Mark A Nelson, Garrie Gastonny, Jessica Kholinne, Sunny Gho, Sakti Yuwono, Garry Leach, Andy Kuhn, Nam Kim and myself.

Many of you have seen pages teased here on my page over the last 6 months or so.  It'll be the first published stories of my WEIRDING WILLOWS series;

WEIRDING WILLOWS the Gang by DeevElliott

As well as my other series ODYSSEY;

ODYSSEY Pin-up Color GARRIE and SAKTI by DeevElliott

If any of you can't get HEAVY METAL where you are let me know and I should be able to sell them directly to you.  Contact me at if interested in either of these two issues.

For anyone that comes to the show I'll be able to show them the first issue of A1.  The series will be monthly starting in May and will feature WEIRDING WILLOWS, ODYSSEY and CARPE DIEM by Stellar Labs (a great studio of artists and creators in Jakarta). 


If you want to keep up with more of we're doing check us out on Facebook here;
I don’t know if everyone is aware of it but DeviantART have been petitioning ICANN so they can manage the domain dotART.  This journal isn’t about that but it was something that inspired me to finally put some of my thoughts down about something that is happening to the Arts whose consequences are far greater.

Spyed’s journals on the subject along with a link to sign the petition are below;…

I signed and endorsed their application not because someone should control the domain but more because it is going to be assigned to some group or other and if that’s so then DeviantART seem the best candidate for the job.  Last thing we need is some company like News Corp or Microsoft in control of it.

But I digress…

This isn’t what I wanted to talk about today. Everyone on dA knows what art is good for.  It’s integral to the way we live our lives.  I wanted to look at something going on in western society that is a threat to what we love and how there is some (mad) reasoning behind that threat.


If you are an art teacher or work within the education system at all you will notice something about the Arts… There is only one time in which the Arts come up in discussions about education first…  The Arts are the first thing put on the table when it comes to discuss budget cuts in education.  No department gets the level of cuts art does.

It seems that the government feels that the Arts are something to be ‘sponsored’ or left as some After School Program that the local PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association) can pay for off the charitable donations of kids and parents for homemade baked goods.

The Arts is treated by the education system in the west like the geeky kid at the school dance, ignored, sometimes humored, often maligned.  Not fully integrating the Arts into a full and well rounded school curriculum is like taking milk away from kids and giving them sweet sugar drinks that could cause diabetes.  Oh, wait!! They HAVE done that.  How about if the food you were allowed to eat only went to the left side of your body leaving the right side to atrophy?  That’s what is happening with student’s heads. 

The left side of the brain is stuffed with pure information, no context, words, numbers and facts. 

The right side is left to get information only from TV and video games.  Doing to the brain what the sweet, sugary drinks are doing to the body.



When a school announces that they’re cutting budgets most parents sigh with relief when they hear that Art is being cut back from 2 periods a year throughout the entire year to 2 periods a week for just one semester.  That French is being cut from 6 periods a week to 4.  And maybe they can get away with a few cuts to sports (there’s other things they can do to work off those sugary drinks right?).  Just as long as those precious subjects Math, English and Science don’t get touched.

And why are the cuts even necessary in the first place?

Oh yeah, that’s right… Tax cuts for the people who are so wealthy they’re already sending their kids to private school where the rote learning and the standardized testing doesn’t take place. 

We know from the Reagan era that trickle down economics doesn’t work - it just makes the “1%” even more wealthy.

The public school system gets cut back time and time again.  So why is the “Rote System” pushed so much?

Test Scores.

You see if a school gets good or great test score averages it makes the school more popular and eligible for more grants.  More importantly, if the town’s schools are doing very well it attracts people who want to live there to raise their kids.  The more that people want to live in an area the greater the property prices are and the greater the taxes are.  I’ve seen this happen first hand in my own kids school system, one of the top public schools in the country, but I could never afford to buy a house there let a lone pay the taxes. 

Our school gets its fair share of cutbacks to the arts but as there are a lot of wealthy individuals who like the arts they are willing to pay for art classes for their kids.  After School Programs can be big business in areas like this.  I’ve taught a couple of these myself where you get paid nearly $100 an hour to teach kids how to draw.  But it shouldn’t be this way.  Art should be taught in school and given the same level of attention that Math and English gets.




Look around at where the world is heading right now.  More people wanting more money and not caring what they do and who gets hurt to get it.

In this current world all the hard fought for freedoms of the past 100 years are being eaten away.  The Middle Class is facing a death from a hundred cuts.  How many still have a ‘normal’ 5 day working week consisting of no more than 35-40 hours?  Medical and financial benefits are being eaten away.  How long will you keep your sick days, maternity leave, the right for your children to have a full rounded education, pensions, medical care when you’re older or have an accident?  All fought for and won by unions, those same unions that are being systematically dismantled and neutered around the country. Regardless of political ideologies, when business interests enter the realms of the political sphere, then the rights of the individuals are always pushed back.

Here in America that thin curtain that certain individuals tried to hide their greed behind has finally been pulled away.  The Wizard stands revealed as a group of high net worth individuals who do not care what happens to others.  They don’t care if you die of cancer or because you can’t afford an operation or an education beyond school.  They are so wealthy they cannot imagine what it is like to go without anything.  They cannot see, and worse do not care, what happens to others.  Some are even worse.  They know exactly what they are doing.  They are trying to protect their families so they get richer and everyone else gets poorer.  They need a slave class.

The Arts are now becoming the leisure pastime of the wealthy. 

How can you possibly train the next generation to become an artist or writer or photographer if you’re holding down three jobs just to survive and pay down the interest on your student loans? 

How many of the successful novelists and writers today are where they are because their parents were wealthy enough to support their interests?  They didn’t need to work for a living so they could try their hand at writing novels and then have them passed on to family friends who owned or held influence with publishing companies.

But still, why penalize the Arts?

The Arts require people to think as individuals.  They’re about ideas and beliefs.  How many of the worlds technological advances would have been made without artists?  I personally feel that the world’s major innovators have been artists.  These writers, painters, musicians and filmmakers who inspired scientists and inventors to make real things others imagined. 

We’ve already surpassed much of the technology of things like STAR TREK.  We look back and see how quaint Captain Kirk’s communicator looked.  If only he could see how much we can do with an iPhone that his communicator can’t and they’re the same size.  When Star Trek was created a computer the size of a city block would have been needed to do what an iPhone is capable of. Man went to the Moon on less technology than a Commodore 64 bit game console.  An even better example is by Fantastic Four and Avengers creator Jack Kirby.  For his DC Comics series The NEW GODS he gave each of these "gods" a 'Mother Box.'  A little black shiny box through which they could communicate and get information from.

Everyone on DeviantART is an artist of one description or other.  We have ideas and we freely share them with others in the community.  We also give critiques and advice in return.  Just that alone makes us alien to the 1% who would see us do no more than serve them their dinner, lunch or coffee.  Clean their houses, fix their cars, mow their lawns, look after their children. 

Yet if they could only feel what it is like to create something… See ideas come together in their head, on canvas, on screen, on paper… Would that change them?  Inspire them to be better people?

Unfortunately not, for like many now they think that their iPhone with Instagram makes everyone a photographer, a filter in photoshop turns everyone into a painter and a writing software with prompts turns everyone in to a screenplay writer.  All these things they use as weapons to make us give up.

These people are not to be trusted.  They will steal your ideas and crush your inspirations while smiling at you and telling you jokes.  They will sweet-talk you with promises they cannot keep.  Some will offer you $1 for every million they make and with their false smiles will have you believe it’s a great deal.

But the real thing they want is to stop free thinking.  Stop imagining a better world.  Accept the one they give you.  Know your place.  Don’t question.  Be a cog in the machine.  Another brick in the wall.

In the past there have always been those who corrupted what artists do.  Our stories and art begat religions used to control us.  Our ideas and philosophies became the culture everything was built upon, so now that culture is moving into a gated community that the majority of us cannot afford.  Or so they think.  For we will always create new ideas and stories.  Culture isn’t something that can be locked down even though aspects of it may be moved beyond our reach.

And their next move?  To take our dreams and if they can’t steal them then they will stifle them.  They are in their castles and have kicked away the ladders.  The moats are filled with oil ready to be lit should we storm their castle.

And still they may tease us into giving up our ideas in return for a ladder to join them.  But those ladders will always be a few rungs short of the top.

We must resist.  We must unite against them and learn to see them for who they are.  They are looking to establish a Brave New World where only they get to see the light of day. 

We are creating the world that is to come but we won’t settle for having it taken from us and made to believe we are worthless or less than others. Our ideas today will build tomorrow.



A quote from Terence McKenna-

“Progress of human civilization in the area of defining human freedom is not made from the top down. No king, no parliament, no government ever extended to the people more rights than the people insisted upon…WE are not going away. We are not slack-jawed, dazed, glazed, unemployable psychotic creeps. We are pillars of society. You can’t run your computers, your fashion houses, your publishing houses, your damn magazines, you can’t do anything in culture without psychedelic people in key positions. And this is the great unspoken of American Creativity. ”

Special thanks to Richard Caldwell…

I hadn’t planned doing a second part to my journal on Editors but in light of what you may have read recently I thought I’d mention it.  Besides, some of you had asked for an idea about the darker side of the industry.

There are many things an editor must be good at; spelling, grammar, art direction, but by far the most important is diplomacy.

Every good editor is also a good diplomat.  If every good editor moved into politics I’m sure most of the world’s problems would just disappear.

Recently a well-known comic creator resigned from a series of titles he was working on, but instead of walking away gracefully he dropped every bomb he could and then dropped a nuke.  The biggest target of his ire was his editor.  He thanked the publisher for the opportunity to work together and hoped they could again in the future but he public blasted the company and his editor, then followed up by saying many others felt like he did.

The Editor did not reply to any of his accusations.  Why?  Because it is against corporate policy and the disgruntled creator knew it.  What he didn’t realize was that so many would come to his defense.

See, as an editor for a corporation you have to please several people.  First and foremost your direct boss, but that usually entails pleasing however many bosses he or she has above them.  This is mostly done by producing a book they like, while in turn keeps on its schedule and one that hopefully the fans love.

After that it’s making the creators on the book as comfortable as possible.  Sometimes a creator feels like they’re in first class while others feel they’re in the cargo hold.  Success does bring rewards, mainly money and freedom.  You get to push back against editorial a little if you disagree, as long as your book is selling enough and you are popular enough, you get that satisfaction of getting your way more often than not. 

A good editor will also fight for what he believes in and his creative team.  Many editors have put their jobs at risk by making a stand with the creators.  Creators remember which editors do that and which don’t. 

Creators that get into a position where they can call some of the shots often request certain editors to work with, which in turn increases the profile and success of the editor.  The more success an editor has, the more likely the projects he’d like the company to do, will be accepted.  

Throughout all this the editor is in the middle making sure the book comes out on time and everyone is as happy as they can be.

Editors are usually invisible. 

The creators and publisher take the credit when things go well (I've had publishers take full credit for my work), but they usually get the blame when it doesn’t (publicly they may take the blame but you'll most likely get it in the office).  Then there is the creator who doesn’t want to accept that his books aren’t selling. 

Your job is to make everyone look good.

Fans will also blame editors are while some deserve it many don’t.  We’re in an age when at least 80% of the comics you read are produced by corporations to keep their copyrights and trademarks active while promoting their various Film/TV/video game tie-ins they have. 

Creators must keep the stories going for each character on an endless loop.  There’s no end to these stories just the illusion of change and the presence of the grim specter of death, that never arrives and if it does seems too often to change his mind allowing them to come back to life.

Editors are a vital part of the publishing a machine, a part just as important as the writers and artists of what is printed on the page.  Unfortunately the role of editor has been diluted over the years.  Many have been relegated to the position of glorified traffic managers.  The creative decisions made by publishers and creators.

Is it any wonder that editors too often move into the role of creator themselves?

One last thing... The only time I've seen Reagan economics work in action (trickle down theory) was not with money (that's a proven fact that doesn't work) but with sh!t. Sh!t always travels down and if you're an editor you know what I'm talking about.

It's been a while coming but working with my good friends at STELLAR Labs half a world away I can now bring you the exclusive first look at my new book, a relaunch of the anthology A1.

A1 cover 0 by DeevElliott

I can't upload the book to the Premium Content Platform because I'm giving it away for free, so click on this link to download the 60 page issue ZERO.  Then please let me know what you think.

A1 will launch in October as a monthly ongoing title and DeviantART will get it before anyone else.

Click on the links in the comments below if you want to download it ...

You can view the file here before you decide to download a copy;…

You can download via Issuu as well.

Please let me know what you think.

- Dave
In answer to the questions posed, and most of you seem to ask about the same thing, I'm going to tackle the most popular subject first.  The questions boil down to the following...


Depending on the circumstances it might almost be easier to tell you what an editor doesn't do.

If you're at a larger company an editor's role will be different to a small company.  In the Big Boy Network you have Publishers and Editor-in-Chiefs dealing mostly with the overall direction the titles are going in and deciding which creative talent does which book, so the Editor has to be the one to make it all run smoothly once those creative teams have been put in place.  You become the diplomat, the best friend they never had and often you have to convince everyone to make compromises based on what promises each creator has been promised.  Was the interior artist promised he could do his own covers but you've been told by the publisher to find another artist? Was the artist promised that he would be co-plotting the stories or at least getting 'meaningful' consultation with the writer and editorial on them?

You are the guy that has to make sure the creative teams deliver something they are happy with, the publisher is happy with, the fans are happy with and it all has to be delivered on time.  Remember, you are usually the guy who is working 9-5 (ish) and gets weekends off.  Your artists usually need a full month to do the interiors of a book with very little time off, if any.  So when you ask for changes or need something early you need to be able to understand what they've been going through.

If you can't spell and have no ear for when a writer is writing dialogue-using accents (something spell check has the automatic need to want to change), this isn't a career for you.  Understand also that you will be reading the same comic several times before it gets printed.  There are outlines to read, first drafts, artists draft, lettering draft (always offer the writer the chance to rework dialogue once the art is complete as it may change slightly), the actual lettering, production proofs to make sure the most current files were compiled in production and that the Illustrator files didn't change when merged with Photoshop files, making sure that the artist has drawn all the costumes and that everything has been colored correctly, day is day and night is night, and of course that all the pages are in the right order.  I have seen comics where the same lettering file was used twice in the same comic by mistake or a balloon was forgotten making things a little confusing.

I should point out now that you won't be just editing one comic.  Chances are you'll be editing anywhere from 4-12 titles depending where you work.  Just because Marvel make so much money on their movies don't think for a second that money trickles down.  Marvel editors are probably the most hardworking and have the longest days in the industry.

Depending on the creator you are working with your control over their work will vary. Back in the 1960's Marvel's EIC Stan Lee had a reasonable degree of control, but his co-creators had a lot more control.  Stan would call Jack Kirby to discuss the next issue of the Fantastic Four where Stan's only input might be "use Doctor Doom again"; Jack Kirby would then create the story including a lot of dialogue suggestions.  When the art came back Stan would just have to make the story work and dialogue it the way he felt was best.  Not ideal, but it created some of the best comics in America over the last 60 years.  Sure he was working with Jack Kirby who almost single handedly built the Marvel universe, but that way of working can be very creative and yield great results IF you have the right team.  It's a way that DC comics are using very much now and allows the editor and publisher to have more input before the final product is complete while not making the writer redo full drafts of the scripts.

At smaller companies you may also be doubling as a production manager, designer, copywriter, and dealing with more titles that have much lower budgets.  Trying to get creators to turn in work every month for very little money is incredibly difficult and challenging.  Especially when you might not be getting much money either.

Remember that most people are in the industry are in it because they LOVE it.  Your main task is to not break their hearts and make that change.

I was originally a comic artist and inker so I have a better understanding of what it is I am asking an artist to do.  Knowing as much about the process as possible will help you and it's also probably why so many editors go on to become writers.


Write, call, email, and check out message boards looking for internships.  Many companies use them, the smaller the company the more they'll probably use and the chances of getting some real experience.  These when you can get them are solid ways of getting experience and for the publisher to get to know you.  I would estimate that most positions are filled with people that have worked for the company doing internships.  You won't instantly become an editor either; there are many stages along the way including proof reading, being an assistant, helping with mailing submissions and artwork back (although most artists email their work now).

But before thinking about becoming an editor, think about why you want to become one.  Many see it as a way into the industry so they can eventually become a writer. The job is not glamorous and can often be thankless.  At the end of the day the credit will fall on the creative team, the publisher and the title itself.  You'll probably get the credit if something goes wrong.  A good editor is one that, like a letterer, no one notices because you're doing your job.  


This is a question you have to ask yourself.  Why would you want to become a comic book editor?  Do you want to be a publisher and editor is just a step along the way?

First off, you HAVE to love what you do and the industry.  If you've never read Batman don't go looking to DC for a job editing the character.  It just isn't going to happen.

Do you know what?  If you have to ask yourself this question it isn't for you.


While I do know a few editors that can get away with a 40-hour week, they seem to be the very lucky ones and they're corporate workers.

If you're like me and freelance working on corporate, private as well as your own projects, there is no time off.  You're available 24/7 and loving it.  I'm very fortunate to have family that understands that and we're adaptable to one another.

The comics industry is run by people who mostly love it.  It is not for the fair of heart.  Hours are long and rewards can be few.  If you can live on mostly the satisfaction of a job well done and comics, then this MIGHT suit you.


Good habits are listening to what everyone wants and striving to make everyone happy while not letting the quality of the work suffer.


Never point out a mistake or something that doesn't work without coming prepared with several alternatives.  Seeing something is wrong is easy, but a good fix that will make everyone happy? Priceless.

If you are asking your creators to go the extra mile support them that extra mile.  They will often rely on you to stand up to your superiors.  Be prepared to argue your points.  Don't give in easily because creators talk to each other and if you're a good editor other creators will know.  That will make it easier for you later on in your career when you reach out to these creators to work with you.

Also remember to treat every creator equally as much as possible anyway.  Just because the creator you are working with today isn't a huge name doesn't mean they won't be tomorrow.  Creators are like elephants.  They never forget.  Especially if you were a dick.

But the most important thing you can do as an editor is make sure your freelance talent is paid on time.  Make sure you get those invoices in ASAP and don't sit on them.

Bad habits?  Being lazy, not listening, trying to steer other people's projects in the direction you think they should go in, trying to get writing assignments from other editors by offering them assignments in return, relying on spell check, leaving freelancers hanging over the weekend... Just don't try and be that person.


Well I never trained for it.  I trained at college doing printmaking and illustration.  I always loved comics and hoped that the illustration training would help, which it did, kind of.  I always did well in English, particularly creative writing.

After a couple of years in the industry I quickly realized that my dream of writing and drawing my own strip was only going to happen if I did it myself.  I also realized that self-publishing is like going to the gym, the pain and the gain is better when you do it with someone else.

My friend and brilliant artist Garry Leach was interested in doing something with me.  We came up with a title (Skit City) and set about developing our own ideas.  When in the pub at comic conventions talking to others we were quickly met with the same response, "Publishing your own comics? Creator owned? Can I do something?"  Our 32-page comic suddenly became a 100-page behemoth that needed to be designed, printed, marketed, solicited and, of course, edited.

The title changed from Skit City to A1. We felt that an anthologies title shouldn't give people any preconceived notions other than quality, so "A1" fulfilled that very well.

As A1 continued and gained momentum, I was increasing sort after to do something similar for other publishers.  I took over and increased the circulation ten fold on the UK art and music magazine Deadline.  I launched another UK magazine Blast! that was the home of Warren Ellis' first creator owned strip with the artist D'Isreali called Lazarus Churchyard. Edited the first Heavy Metal special for its new owner Kevin Eastman. Monster Massacre, Ammo Armageddon, Carnosaur Carnage, Penthouse Comix, Men's Adventure Comix, co-founded Radical Publishing/studios, etc.

And now I have come full circle and back on Heavy Metal specials and preparing for the relaunch of A1. But this time I'm back as a creator.

Btw: not official yet, but who reads my page anyway, A1 will be launched first on deviantART in October and won't be available in print until 2013, but you will be able to pre-order through me with exclusive covers.  We'll also be offering a Malaysian language edition at the same time.

Other Sources;

And here are a couple of very good columns written by Mark Waid on the subject.  Mark started as an editor before moving into writing and often wears both hats, though not always at the same time. I've avoiding going into too much detail as Mark's already done it, but every editor will have different perspectives based on their different experiences.……

A lot of you have said how informative some of my journals have been particularly about the industry and how things work (or don't).

So let me know anything specific you'd like to know more about and I'll do some journals to cover as much of it as I can.

Post any suggestions below and I'll do what I can to answer them all.


- Dave
That's a pretty much a rhetorical question.  I know what I NEED to do now, but what to actually do…

I ask become I’ve come off finishing a deadline and I’m feeling a little drained.  I deal with deadlines every month, but not one that is so close to what I really want to do.

I’ve cleaned, I’ve moved furniture around, done the food shopping, been to the comic shop, watched JOHN CARTER again, but now I need to throw myself back into work again.

I have two deadlines coming up, finishing an issue of VOODOO for DC (I oversee the art production of the issue as agent for Sami Basri and Jessica Kholinne of STELLAR Labs for DC Comics) and there is getting everything sorted for San Diego Comicon.

At San Diego I’ll be unveiling a lot more art and details for the new anthology title I am doing with Stellar Labs and my own company, ATOMEKA PRESS, called “A1”.  This is going to be a monthly comic with three strips in, CARPE DIEM, ODYSSEY and WEIRDING WILLOWS.  All strips will be ongoing and appearing most months.  When any of the strips takes a break we’re thinking about letting someone from DeviantART do a short story for those issues.  I’ll let you know how that shapes up as we get closer to the release date.

I’ll also be appearing on a couple of DEVIANTART panels during the show and a HEAVY METAL panel.  I’ll post details as soon as I have them.

Between those and meetings I’ll be down in Artists Alley.  Anyone have questions or thoughts about the industry that you want to discuss come and find me.  Happy to look through portfolios when I can.  Looking forward to meeting the 6 winners of the DeviantART scholarship program I judged.

But now, RIGHT NOW, I’m in belly button gazing mode.  Oh look, a piece of lint… Must pluck it out.

Truth is, this is the first time in a long, long time, I’ve actually been able to focus on this much of my own ideas and concepts.  I’m so used to working on other peoples projects that spending this much time on my own kinda makes me feel guilty.  Like I should be doing something else. 

I’m getting over it though.  I managed to do some good at the same time.  Picked three great artists from DA to appear on the back of Heavy Metal and helped another creator do his first ever creator owned work.  Hopefully he’ll turn his back on X-Men and Hulk to do more creator owned work in the future.

I know, I’ll write a journal and post that.  That’s almost work, right?

Okay Chaps and Chapettes!

Time for a Heavy Metal competition only for DeviantART.

For those of you who check in here regularly you may know I'm in the middle of putting together a special issue of HEAVY METAL that will go on sale at San Diego Comic-con.  This will be the second year in a row I've put that particular issue together, last year with Stanley Lau Artgerm and the whole Imaginary Friends Studio team of creators.

This year with many more DA's like Dave Wilkins Tom Raney Sami Basri Barnaby Bagus Jessica Kholinne Dave Dorman Toby Cypress Garrie Gastonny Sakti Yuwono and we'll have three different covers.

Cover 1 by Kendrick Lim of Imaginary Friends Studios

HEAVY METAL September Cover - KUNKKA by DeevElliott

Cover 2 by Sami Basri and Jessica Kholinne


And cover 3 will be a surprise collaboration between Artgerm and Jim Steranko!


That leaves us with a problem...  We have 3 FRONT covers to these three editions but we need 3 BACK covers.

Know anyone that could help?


Yeah, I'm looking at you!

We need three pieces of artwork from three different artists one for each of the three different editions that are going to press at the end of May.

This is a real chance to show off those mad skills you got.  For those of you familiar with Heavy Metal you should have a good idea of what would go down well with that audience.  For those that don't, it's monsters with babes, robots with babes, babes with babes, good babes, bad babes, get the idea?  Open to see cosplay photography as well as artwork submissions.

Unfortunately Heavy Metal magazine is an adult/mature readers magazine so I will have to limit contributions to those of you over the age of 18.  Don't worry I have a competition for everyone coming soon.

The printed size of the magazine is 8 inches by 11.  The winning files will need to have an extra quarter inch all around and be at least 300 DPI (450 DPI would be preferable).  Winners get 50 copies each of the magazine with their artwork on to give (or sell) to family and friends.  The magazine will be heavily promoted and sold at San Diego Comic-con.

The artwork will remain your copyright and we'll also have your DA url on it so people can find you.

I know it's short notice but I need to see the artwork by May 18th and then the winners will be chosen by Artgerm , Kevin Eastman and myself then announced May 25th.

This competition is only open to artists on DeviantART and links to entries must be posted in the comment thread below, no emails, no private notes, all here baby!

This will be a blast!
So convention season has begun!

Mine kicks off this weekend at Penn College for a new convention called WildCat.

The details are here;

I'll be there Friday through to Sunday so anyone want to drop by and say hello there will be a couple of Deviants present;


Who has been throwing some mean lightning rods into the community, getting some real conversations going.

And one of the true artistic stars of the community;


Her stories and artwork have been enchanting people for years now.

If you live in the area come and check us out.  Then next weekend I'll be at Boston Comic-con, details are here;

Following up on Techgnotic's latest journal that references TMNT, their co-creator and Deviant Kevin Eastman will also be at the show.

Kevin Eastman:

Then in May I'll in in the United Kingdom first for Ka-Pow! in London;

And then for me the better show in Derry, Northern Island, called 2D;

This should be a great show.  I'll actually be doing two talks on DeviantART while there and how you can get help from the community to improve yourself.

As with any of these if you want to meet up, chat or show your portfolio just leave a message either below or leave me a note.

Hope you see you there.


- Dave
"What?" you ask, is this idiot talking about...  George Lucas killed Santa?

Let me put this in perspective for you, we have all at one time been told about Santa Claus.  As little kids we're told to be good if not Santa won't leave us any presents.

Later on, as we get older, we are told Santa's origins, history, friends, introduced to all his reindeer and elves.  Then somewhere between 6 and 10, depending on how gullible you are or how good at lying your parents are, you find out that Santa doesn't exist. And neither does the Easter Bunny.  You weren't born under a gooseberry bush. Etc...

Devastating right?  But then we go and do it to our own kids and the endless cycle continues.

So, that George Lucas fellow...

I was 16 when the original STAR WARS came out.  I actually won a competition on the radio and got to see it several months before anyone else, before all the massive hype started.  I remember seeing the Biggs sequences that wouldn't make it to the final cut, but more than anything, I came out of that showing wanting to be a Jedi Knight.  At 16, I still got sucked in and loved every minute of it. 

To this day I haven't seen a film as many times as I have that first STAR WARS movie.

A couple of years later we got THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

Wow!  He'd upped himself.  Best written, better directed... He'd actually been man enough to step aside and let people better than him take the reins and that built upon a solid foundation, giving us something spectacular.  Having been raised on Star Trek... Bye, bye, Kirk & Spock, hello Luke & Han.

When RETURN OF THE JEDI opened I saw all three in a special showing that had satellite link ups around the world to similar events.  We had Anthony Daniels live in the movie theater with us counting down to the opening of the third installment.

While the Ewoks did kinda spoil it for me, I still felt that there was two thirds of a great movie there.  All good.

So time goes by and I now have a family of my own.

After much too do over the years George releases his original movies again, all dusted off with enhanced effects and minor tweaks.  Even Han shooting second didn't bother me then, I got to see the movies on the big screen once more with my daughter who loved them as much as me.

The following year the first prequel was released.

I knew I was going to take my kids to see it at the weekend but in Manhattan it was playing at the Ziegfeld theater!  Had to see it there right?  Didn't matter I was going to see it the following day.  It was Star Wars.  I was going to see it a hundred times.  Right?

I only made it through the showing because like most other people in the packed theater we thought he was going to pull a rabbit out the hat at the end.  Darth Maul was clearly the cool villain who was going to keep us hooked for three movies.  Right?

I walked out of the theater and down to Grand Central train station with only one thought in my head...

How was I going to hide my disappointment from my kids until we saw it the following day?

Then it was "how am I going to make it through a second showing?"  When we saw it my kids had dozens of questions, the sort of questions they didn't have with the first movies.  Questions pertaining to story logic.  Questions pertaining to lack of story logic.  We were saved by 30 minutes of coming up with painful ways to kill Jar Jar Binks.

Over the next few years George rolled out toy catalog after toy catalog under the guise of being a film.

There was a time when I had a set of Star Wars comics, most of the toys, the original 3 films in several different formats.

Now? Nothing.  (Well I have one Happy Meals toy that's a trick box where you can see Darth Vader and Yoda's head floating in the air thanks to a mirror).

Now you've probably seen or heard several different people take apart the original movies, some have even tried re-editing them.

What I want to say is this... George Lucas relegated Star Wars to that pile of lost childhood dreams, like the Easter Bunny, the Bogeyman, Jack Frost and Santa Claus.  He sold out any last creativity he had to make more money than God just so he could.  Maybe he's secretly building a giant space ark and is going to leave us for the Dagobah system.

Point is, even after destroying my second childhood, I realize that as its creator it was his right.  It was his and like a spoilt kid with his toys who only wants to play his way or get out of his sandbox, he did with them what he wanted.

He gave us a choice.

Consume or don't.

Enough of us did but in doing so it killed the dream of what came before.  We had trained our kids to like Star Wars... What were we going to do now, deprive them of this bright shiny thing with lots of explosions?  Not buy them the light sabers or Darth Maul action figures?

George had created his own Santa Claus.  It came with a history, an origin, friends and aliens...  Then he did what most creators fear of most when dealing with big corporations and selling their ideas, he corrupted it.  He creatively gutted his own creations.

I'm wondering if he did it so that no one else could or would want to play with them later.  If someone was going to ruin his own characters it would be himself.

I've been told by several people that the animated show is very good, but it just doesn't mean anything to me any more.  I invested several years of my dreams and my kids dreams in Star Wars.

I only hope I get to be even half as successful or at the very least, manage to retain control of my stories and ideas.  I've lost control of a few and have seen what can happen when someone makes one of your creations do something it wasn't intended for.  It's heartrending.

It was just as heartrending seeing Star Wars original inspiration JOHN CARTER look so good and do so badly, but ERB left his creations behind a long time ago so that others may play with them.

Maybe one day someone will get their hands on Star Wars and make me care again.

But I doubt it will be George.