Recently I had the pleasure of doing this poster for the Better Beer Society, an organization dedicated to the growth and awareness of craft beer through education. They offer several courses for professional certification in beer sales and services. This is the first in a series of posters and I’m excited to be working on with them. Hope you check out their great new website http://betterbeersociety.com/
Usually I start these year in reviews by saying where did the time go? Not this year. 2015 was crammed with just about everything we could possibly handle. A quick recap. Put our house on the market in February, had about five hundred showings but couldn’t sell it till June. Moved into my In-Laws house for a few months until we finally bought a new house. Moved into said new house, which got water damage a week into living in it. Took care of that and a few other problems. Did some traveling out of the country. Came back. Got some kittens. Got into a car accident that totaled a car. Boom, it’s Christmas time.
While all this was going on some crazy life and career stuff was happening with all of us as well. Seemed like everyone we knew had either gotten sick or ill this year. Like seriously bad. My parents, Nicole’s parents. Rough year health wise for so many loved ones. It feels like they are starting to rebound but there’s been too much time in 2015 spent in hospitals. Hopefully that isn’t the case for 2016.
Nicole and the girls are doing well. Nicole is still a Creative Producer at local advertising agency KNOCK. She’s been traveling a lot which can be tough, but it’s part of the gig, much like mine. Josie just turned five and she’s becoming more and more of a little lady every day. Wish the growing would slow down a bit. Millie turns two in April but she decided to hit the terrible twos early. She’s picking up so much from her sister but struggling to communicate. Her mouth can’t keep up with her mind and she’s frustrated. The kid is starting to talk more and more every day and eventually that mouth will be running as fast as her legs.
As for me, work wise this was probably the greatest year of freelance I’ve ever had. I couldn’t really ask for much more. I remember writing the 2014 yearly recap knowing that I had some work for Marvel Comics coming up and some DC Comics work as well. In the past twelve months I had another Batman’66 issue come out, I got to work on The Punisher with my pal, Mitch Gerads, as my first Marvel job. Drew an Ant-Man comic that came out the week of the movie. Did the art on the first issue of a Back to the Future comic series that sold over eighty thousand copies on it’s first print run. And finally, became the monthly artist on a Marvel comic with Howling Commandos of SH.I.E.L.D. Can’t ask for much more than that. I did some other freelance in there as well, but it’s really cool to see that the majority of the work was comics. It tilted that way in 2014 and it was great to keep that rolling this past year. Another professional goal was achieved when I got to travel over to London to attend the Showmasters London Comic and Film Expo as a guest. I’d never been invited to an overseas show before. Nicole and I went to England for about a week. Something we’ve never done before. It was an amazing time and the perfect way to spend our tenth year of being married.
2016 has got it’s work cut out for it. I honestly don’t even know what to expect, or goals to have for it. I feel like a marathon runner collapsing at the finish line. A few thing I do know, I let my health slide this year with everything going on. Not eating well or working out close to what I’d like. That needs to change. One of my goals for last year was to work on a comic project that I wrote. I had a short story published in Dark Horse Presents this past April. I wrote and drew it a while ago but I am still proud of it. Seeing the book on the shelf reminded me that I still have more in that area to do. I am having a blast working for Marvel and I hope it continues. I don’t anticipate being able to relax on the never ending hustle for freelance. Getting in is one thing. Staying in is another. That’s probably a good enough goal for the year.
Thanks for reading and checking out my site. It always means so much to me to have people check out my blog, web store, and portfolio. I truly appreciate it.
If you are looking to get that special someone something special this holiday season, may I suggest a unique t-shirt design? Some original comic book art? Or a poster?
Here’s a few links to some artwork I have for sale that may make a good gift for someone you know.
PACKERS LEGENDS POSTER
If you have a cheesehead in your life and want to get them a cool and unique Packer gift, here’s a Green Bay Legends poster I illustrated that you can purchase over at Cheesehead TV.
Over at CHUX Print, I have a couple shirts for sale that each have a little midwestern flare.
Cadence Comic Art sells my original comic art. You can check them out here.
And finally, if you are reading this you can just click on that SHOP link above to find some exclusive posters and prints that you can only get on this site.
Lots going on over here at Fort Schoonover. Here’s a quick run down.
Both Back to the Future#1 and Howling Commandos #1 are in stores now. I had a blast signing at The Source Comics and Games for their release. Thanks to the awesome crew there for having me.
I’ve been on a few podcasts the past few weeks talking up projects as well as other stuff. John Siuntres over at Word Balloon has me on and it was great to reconnect with him since I was last on a few years back. I was also a returning guest on the Panels and Pizza Podcast. This show is put on locally and it was fun chatting it up with Adam the host and nom noming on the pizza.
Finally, I’ll be in London November 7th and 8th for Showmaster’s Brighton convention. Looking forward to chatting it up with everyone across the pond. Hope you stop by and say hi.
This month sees the release of two comics I have drawn, Back to the Future #1 and Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. #1. They come out a week a part on October 21st and October 28th. Back to the Future is one of my favorite films of all time. The chance to work on that property in any official capacity is a great honor. And to do a story with Bob Gale the creator of the films, surreal. Then there’s Howling Commandos. My first monthly comic project. I’ve been working towards this goal for as long as I can remember. After graduating in the early 2000s from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design I started collaborating on a creator owned project with my fellow art school pal Brandon Terrell on a book called Horrorwood. The project ended up at Ape Entertainment and taught me a lot about how hard this medium works. Pouring your guts into something, traveling to cons only to make fifteen dollars, coming up with any angle you can to help get eyeballs on the book. Drawing hundreds of sketches for people who pre-ordered the trade in hopes to hit sale numbers high enough to justify a printing. Cold calling comic shops only to have them hang up on you because they didn’t care. It was a ton of hard work that was fun as hell.
I ended up having much of the same experience on Astronaut Dad shortly after. We were lucky this time that we had a publisher covering the costs of printing. But still the results were very much the same. Writer David Hopkins and myself did our best to swim in the big pool with all the major publishers but following up your comic debut with a black and white historical comic about the space race was not going to catapult me much farther in the industry. Still, I was having a blast and I really felt like the book we made had some substance with a subject matter that I loved. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
Around this time a crossroads hit me. I still wanted to make comics but freelance work in advertising illustration was really picking up. I had artist representation for the advertising work and I was doing a variety of different things. Storyboards, project illustration, concept design. I was a jack of all trades in style and subject matter and it was paying off. I was covering student loans, rent, and a upcoming wedding to my then girlfriend, Nicole. Within a year we had purchased a house so now there was a mortgage as well. Somehow all these random projects covered it all. It was a whirlwind but I could handle the 16 hour work days and little to no days off.
Over the the next couple years the projects kind of blurred together. I did a lot of comics but nothing on that large of a scale. Single issues here and there, maybe two. I drew a great graphic novel called Mr. Murder is Dead with Archaia right as my first daughter Josie was born. It received great praise but once again, I was still kind of stuck on the cusp of where I wanted to be when it was done. I was still having fun but the wear and tear of balancing the commercial work and comics was starting to beat me down a bit. I knew I couldn’t keep it up forever. But the responsibility of a kid and paying the bills keep it going out of necessity.
Around 2012- 2013 things kind of hit a low point. The comic projects I had were fine but mostly fill in stuff. I was hungry for bigger and better projects. I had friends and colleagues who I had started in the business around the same time or even after me leap frog me in the industry with quality of work and great books. I wasn’t hitting conventions as hard as I could or should and overall just wasn’t doing all I could to get my name out there in comics. Commercial work sucked up a lot of time on top of parenthood. I was stuck in the hamster wheel of taking whatever came to me in comics and advertising work. I was seriously thinking of finding a nine to five gig (Working for a beer distributor as a beer truck delivery driver was and still is kind of a job I’d love to have). It would allow me to come home, and create whatever art I wanted in my free time.
While returning from a comic convention I got an email from an editor at DC Comics. He had seen a Superman drawing I had posted from the con that weekend. He wanted to know if I could do ten pages of a Superman story for Adventures of Superman. I was stoked. This was pretty much a dream gig for any comic artist. It was a much needed kick in the creative pants for me. I was able to take the profile of that project and snowball it into a consistent string of projects that has lead up till now. I also decided that in order to make a good go trying to make comics my only job, I needed to have complete control of my schedule. I left my art rep that was providing me consistent commercial art projects. It was scary but I needed to in order to give this an honest try. I kept a few regular clients and still have some just because it’s a good safety net.
The Superman story rejuvenated me. Not long after that I started to work on characters that I dreamed about drawing since I was a kid picking up my first comic at WALLDRUG, South Dakota. Characters like Batman, The Punisher, and The Phantom. I was having a lot of fun again. Now I just need something bigger to do. Shortly after a trip to C2E2 in Chicago this year, I was asked to do Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. for Marvel.
This may all sound like a victory lap, but trust me it’s not. A good friend of mine, Skottie Young, who’s worked at Marvel for over a decade now, said one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard. “As hard as it is to break into comics, it’s even harder to stay in them”. It’s so true. With all the young talented creators coming out of art schools these days it’s harder than ever to keep relevant. If sales numbers aren’t where Howling Commandos needs to be it’ll be over before it starts. Who knows if there will be another shot at doing a monthly book? So there’s no self congratulating going on. Just have to put the head down, pencil to paper, and get back to work. hopefully we get a good run on this because I think it’s a really fun book. I know that comics are what I was meant to do and it’s been a crazy trip to get to here. But well worth it. Thanks for reading.