Monday, July 16, 2012

Earl. Believe it.

Look, it doesn't do much good to go getting pissed off every time someone around you is an idiot.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

And behold, a pale horse! And its rider's name was Earl, and Hell followed him. Also whiskey.

Manuel and I have been banging away on scripts, page layouts, and final page art, all in the service of getting this book out to you wonderful folks, and in the trust that you will absolutely love what we're doing. Seriously, every time we sit down with this stuff we leave more excited about the final product than we've ever been. But it's a labor of love and it's going to take us a whlie to finish, so in the interim here are just a couple of several more teaser tastes we want to show you! Today, we have Earl.

Drop a line and let us know what you think! Who does this guy look like to you?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

In the wake of the Alternative Press Expo

Holy shit.

This weekend Manuel and I took our first real go at a comic convention table, taking the weekend off to peddle our crap and meet a ton of incredible people at the Alternative Press Expo. (We bought a table at last year's APE but didn't have much to give out -- plus, I was at a wedding most of the weekend. This felt more like a real go at it.)

Manuel and I are both reeling from the experience, so while it's still fresh, let's do some decompression:

1. Creative people are awesome. I know that doesn't exactly read as a bold statement, but my God: my favorite thing about this weekend was the richness and diversity and the fucking ballistic enthusiasm of the people with whom we shared the con. I don't mean everybody was running around like Tom Cruise on a couch -- for a lot of people, something like a table at APE with their work sitting on it is a hard-won reward, and some folks were still recovering from the energy burn it took to get there. But almost without exception, the dozens of creators we met were there providing some inspiring proof that it has certainly not all been done before.

2. Everyone doing something awesome is dealing with serious roadblocks. I get this stupid idea sometimes that Manuel and I can get a pass for not working hard enough because we both have Real Lives to Deal With. I feel a little dumb admitting that, today, because pretty much everyone we met who had incredible stuff to sell or trade to us* is working a 9-to-5 just like everyone else in the world. Nobody's running around with a free pass; they all have to work on their art in their own time. And they're all doing it. I love meeting people who kill your excuses.

* Which reminds me...

3. Trading goods with the other exhibitors is insanely fun. I have to give big fat thanks to Josh Shalek, a fine gentleman who prints collections of his webcomic and brought them to the show, for introducing me to this phenomenon. I was walking around meeting people, shaking hands and learning from as many of these people as I could, when Josh noticed my exhibitor badge. "If you're exhibiting, I love to do trades!" he said. My brain told me he meant trade paperbacks and that he was asking if I was a publisher, so I said, "Uh, I'm just a writer in a writer-artist team, trying to scrape a little money together to get by just like y'all." Josh was kind and gave me a little laugh at my weird, inappropriate response (thanks, dude), but then I figured out what he meant and HOLY CRAP THAT WAS FUN. Manuel and I spent a good chunk of the last hour of the show swapping our prints for other people's prints and, in a couple cases, their books! I never knew people did that and I'm totally stoked. To be honest, we were giving them black-and-white cardstock prints and we were getting some pretty stellar stuff in return, so I have to thank everyone for their generosity. I'm proud of what we had -- the prints came out great and sized at 11" x 17" I thought they felt nice and substantial -- but seriously, some of what people gave us in exchange was unbelievable.

4. The show ended with everyone applauding everyone else. Were you there for that moment? How amazing was that?

5. Telling people about your ideas is a lot of fun, and it's also terrifying. Manuel and I each pitched our book to an easy two dozen people or more, and every time I was grateful for their interest and for the chance to tell them about our work. But there was this moment of paralysis that tried to take hold every time -- a jolt of fear that wanted me to shut up, play it down, evade expectations and swallow my words. Each time, I tried to just take a breath, think of a place to start and get moving. The principles of inertia took on a kind of social context; a little forced confidence to get the ball rolling tended to get an encouraging response from the folks we talked to, and their interest (or generosity) helped us grow some more organic confidence. By the end of the pitch, almost every time, I felt like I'd learned a little something and everyone I talked to seemed genuinely interested. That alone was worth the money we spent on the table.

That leads to a second thought. Having gone around the con and heard a ton of pitches, stood to the side and watched several more as a non-involved third party and given my own pitch to so many people in a short time, one element stood out as a crucial one:

6. Spontaneity can make or break a pitch. Just to be clear about my terms, when I say "pitch," I mean it broadly. To me, a pitch is what you're giving any time you're talking with someone in whom you want to encourage interest in your work. It doesn't matter if they're a potential audience, a publisher, a colleague or someone else; y'oughtta treat everyone the same. Why I think spontaneity is important to this is that it lets the other person know and feel you're actually having a conversation with them. I saw one or two people over the weekend who were clearly reciting a planned, rehearsed pitch. The polish may have been what made them feel comfortable putting themselves out there, but each time I watched it I could see their energy falling through, kind of a bucket-with-a-hole-in-it situation. It was also fairly annoying. Knowing that our pitch for the book we're working on is still pretty imperfect, I'd already made the decision to try something new each time, to shoot from the hip as much as possible so I could learn what people respond to and what tends to dull the shine. As a pleasant, unplanned side effect, I had to tailor the pitch each time to the person I in front of me, and that person felt -- I hope -- less like a cash machine and more like a person I was happy to be talking with. Don't get me wrong, it's important to have your ducks in a row and know your shit when someone asks you about your business, but boy, this con was a rewarding lesson on the value of being in the moment with people.

6 and 1/2: It's way more fun to listen to someone being real than someone being clever. Manuel and I have a tendency to force each other into honesty, and it's a big part of how we work together creatively; nobody gets away with anything and eventually nobody tries. Part of what made the con so valuable to us was, as Manuel put it, the opportunity for honest, enthusiastic abandon. We got a ton of it from y'all and we gave our own to everyone we could.

7. That said, I finally stumbled into our one-sentence pitch for the book. As much as I'm all about keeping things fresh and improvised, this is a sentence we will sometimes need and had yet to work out for ourselves. After a weekend full of practice telling people about the book, which I've sometimes been worried was too complex to explain to someone in that short, sharp shock, I did it by accident. A friend told me he'd had some trouble explaining the book to his other friends, and I said: "Tell them it's a black comedy about the afterlife breaking down." Whew, that only took four years to figure out. Thanks for helping us get there, everybody! Next stop: a title!

8. Seriously, everybody at APE is awesome. Covered that in the first item, but I'm closing out for the day and just wanted to throw that out one more time. It was an inspiring weekend and we're grateful for everyone we met. See y'all again soon!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Spitball hits the airwaves!

Recently, Spitball Press was featured on Creepy Kofy Movie Time, in an interview with Balrok and No Name!

We knew we needed to do something special with it, so we worked up a comic in which our hero, Earl, is forced to... well, take a look:

Thanks to our hosts on the show! It was a great scene, with old-time hospitality like you wouldn't believe: kegs to the side, a 200-pound pit bull, goth strippers everywhere and of course, the gentlemen in charge, who made us feel really welcome.

We'd never done anything on camera like that before, and I have to admit I was increidbly nervous. But Balrok sat down, in his amazing blue demonness, and... well, he talks like a regular Joe. It's really funny. And he just calmed us right down. His questions were great and we had a ton of fun!

There's another post on its way soon, too, so check back next week!

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Posse

The first characters to take some life in this impending tale of doom Manuel and I are fixin' to tell were The Posse.

Now, this is what happens when the wait staff at a restaurant gets to bullshitting between plates of food coming out and walk-ins sitting down:

A: "What if people did't die?"

B: "What, like they lived forever?"

A: "Yeah, like what if the aging process just kept going and going but you didn't die from it? Like, what stage would come after the shitting-your-self, drooling idiot stage?"

B: "Your body would have to come up with something new. Like, you'd have to turn into an organism that didn't need coherent thought or the ability to move or digest food."

A: "Oh, man. I wonder that that would look like. OH, what if somebody did it on purpose?"

B: "Found a way to live forever but didn't count on it fucking their shit up? I think they kind of did that in Faust."

A: "No, it's be like a prank someone pulled. Like, whoever's supposed to be out there, God or whatever, all benevolent and loving, what if those guys decided to fuck with us, just to fuck with us and see what happened?"

B: "Ohhh, what if it was like when WE fuck with people? Like, instead of the person in charge, the grunts who do all the hands-on work could start fucking with the system and screwing up the works. Like when you use a fucked up accent at a table or hide shit from the other servers."

A: "Do they know I do that?"

B: "Not yet."

A: "So, what if Heaven, basically, not like Christian Heaven but wherever souls get processed and sent to life or taken back and all that, what if something got fucked up there and people couldn't die and all kinds of fucked up, grotesque shit started happening? How fucking funny would that be?"

B: "What if it was fucked up by some dudes like us, who just needed something to kill the fucking boredom of the work?"

A: "Renegade angels?"

B: "Incompetent renegade angels."

Something very like this conversation led to the invention of The Posse. I'll tell you more about them next time -- we've got some good art coming up we'll be able to show you of each one in his element.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Where we've been.

Okay, so far this blog has been mostly a storytelling exercise, but Spitball Press is also a fledgling publisher – part of what we want to do with these stories is give readers a sense of what Manuel and I do together, a taste of our creative flavor so that when we start asking for your money, you have some idea what you're getting into.

Yes, we're expecting parents, laboring over a book-length comics project we plan to put into print when we finish it, a labor of love now several years in the making. It started the same way the blog stories started -- with Manuel and I hunkering down after a long shift of work, swapping ideas and memories over wooden table tops laced with empty shot glasses and beer bottles, laughing and talking shit and describing the demented, unpredictable cast of characters in our personal histories, in our restaurant and in our imaginations.

The latter collection ended up creating a kind of world for themselves; we'd have one character pinned down when suddenly another character would bang up against him, fiction after fiction picking each other's pockets, slapping each other high fives and gumming up the works.

We ended up with a story. Made up people doing made up things in a time and place where they seemed to all fit together.

Here's an image we stumbled over:


Most of our major characters are in this poster.

The guy at the bottom? He's despicable. He's the biggest loser and the smallest man. He's anonymous. He's the end of the world.

The man with the drink in his hand? He's good at his job. He hates it. He's a straight talker and a crooked walker. He's Earl.

The creature to his right? That's Earl's co-worker.

The lady on his left? Her name's Hailie. She's a housewife, actually. Then later, she's something else.

The guys at the top are the posse. They're responsible for a lot. They're also pretty ignorant about what kind of damage they can do. But they end up giving it a shot anyway.

We'll get more into the actual world of the story in another post, but this should give a good introductory taste. This one and the next several are free. We're lousy drug dealers, Manuel and I.

Aw, hell: here's another one.