The Frustration of Webcomics

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 / Bloggified by Jake Bell / sarcastic remarks (0)

Almost a year and a half ago, Joe Bowen contacted me about writing Model Student. Both of us had surrendered to our "day jobs" and weren't producing anything creative. Joe and some friends from the Kubert School were doing a sketch blog that had him drawing one picture every week or so, but he wasn't consistently putting out material. By that same token, I was writing a blog post every now and again and pecking away at four different writing projects and not making much headway on any of them. After waking up at four in the morning and going to work for twelve hours five or six days a week, I had no energy to switch gears and knock out a few chapters of a book.

Joe suggested picking up his failed Zuda project--no offense intended since Zuda itself turned out to be a failed project--from a few years earlier about a good kid with a bad temper who can't risk getting expelled from school again. When I first read his Zuda pitch for Model Student, I loved it. He handed over the concept to me and asked if I would write him a page a week to draw.

Unfortunately, at a rate of one page a week, we'd barely be putting out two issues a year even if we weren't taking breaks for holidays and conventions and website glitches. We're currently about two-thirds of the way through the second issue of the book, but I've written through the third and have plotted into the sixth. It's frustrating because at this rate, what happens in April of 2014 is gonna blow your socks off! But until someone is willing to pay Joe enough to draw Model Student that he can do it full time, we're stuck plodding along at just one update a week.

Although I may have another solution to more frequent updates.

Given how happy I am with Model Student, I've decided to take two other story ideas I've had in the vaults for several years and turn them into webcomics. I won't announce anything official yet, but I will say I'm working with Emi Yonemura Brown and Joe Ruff. Look for more details after Phoenix Comicon, as well as news about a new book from Actionopolis, and stare at this character sketch from Joe.

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Time to Sign

Sunday, April 01, 2012 / Bloggified by Jake Bell / sarcastic remarks (0)

Six months ago, I told myself I needed to make a point of writing at least one new blog post every week. You can see how well that worked out.

The point is it's been a rough few months writing-wise. I've been working on a few different projects, but haven't been finishing any of them. If you scroll back a few posts you'll see something about how there were a few big announcements pending around nine months ago. At this time, those announcements are still "pending."

However, I am doing at least one cool thing. Tuesday I'll be heading south to Casa Grande and speaking at Desert Willow and Cholla Elementary Schools. I'll be there for a few hours each and should have lots of time to talk to the kids. Plus I have a bunch of books to deliver...... which means I should probably stop typing and pick up a Sharpie to start signing all these.

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Ultraviolet by Steve Epting

Wednesday, March 07, 2012 / Bloggified by Jake Bell / sarcastic remarks (0)

How much do I love Steve Epting's art? I recently got a tattoo of a Two-Face sketch he did for me on my ribs. That is to say I got the tattoo on my ribs, not that he sketched Two-Face there. And, hey, the ribs are about the most painful place you can get a tattoo.

This is one of my favorite takes on Ultraviolet. The art in the books is cartoon-y, but Steve didn't try to mimic that style. Instead, he expressed her in his own style and it turned out beautifully.Also, note that this was drawn at Wizard World Texas in 2006, a little more than three-and-a-half years before SECRET IDENTITY CRISIS was published. At this point, I hadn't even landed my agent, much less found a publisher. So big thanks to Steve for not laughing directly in my face when I tried to explain what I wanted from him.

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BAN THIS BOOK!!!! (please?)

Sunday, March 04, 2012 / Bloggified by Jake Bell / sarcastic remarks (0)

My first professional writing gig was at Cracked, a comedy website. I got that based on a comic book blog I was writing. Both featured vulgar humor and lots of swearing and other things that might be considered offensive to the parents of kids in the 9-12 range.

When my agent started submitting my first book to publishers back in early 2007, I made an effort to separate myself from those works, at least as far as Google was concerned. For a while, I debated using a pen name for the books as I thought that would be easier than eliminating all connections between Children's Author Jake Bell and Comedic Vulgarian Jake Bell anywhere on the internet.

After much effort, I thought I'd removed all traces of my former career, but in January of 2010, a mom emailed Scholastic detailing how her son had purchased SECRET IDENTITY CRISIS through the Scholastic Book Club and she'd, in turn, found a Twitter account where I'd made roughly 3000 off color comments about politics, religion, my ex, fatherhood, bad drivers, grocery store customers, and myriad other topics. I had to change my username and go through another thorough scrubbing of my good name, including deleting the blog that got me my start as a writer.

Now, I stand poised on the precipice of admitting I am a failed writer. SECRET IDENTITY CRISIS has been out for more than two years and I have yet to have sold enough copies of any of my five books to show a profit. I am currently working on two projects that are for slightly older audiences and am debating if it's worth maintaining a squeaky clean image.

In fact, I'm debating cranking up my crude-factor to 11. Being inoffensive and vanilla has done nothing for me. The best thing that could happen right would be for some crazy right-wing religious group to declare me the devil and call for a boycott of everything Nate Banks-related. If there's a school board somewhere in the Midwest that would consider banning RED ALERT for promoting a communist agenda, I'd sure appreciate it.

The ensuing backlash by freedom of speech advocates would mean a certain boost in sales.

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Western Pitch

Thursday, September 01, 2011 / Bloggified by Jake Bell / sarcastic remarks (0)

I was watching Silverado tonight and it's even better than I remember. And I remember it as one of the greatest Westerns ever.

About ten years ago, I wrote a Western that I was happy to find wasn't a rip off off Silverado, unconscious as that ripping off might have been. I put together a four-page comic pitch that I published in an ashcan of my writing samples back in 2006.

Since nothing's come of it, I might as well share. Art here is by Bill Mitchel.

Oh, and go watch Silverado. It's available for streaming on Netflix.


Panel 1:
This shot should take up a third to half of the page. We see a long distance shot of a small farm in with the Rocky Mountains in the background. Think Little House on the Prairie without the prairie.
SFX: (small): BLAM BLAM

Panel 2:
The remaining panels are side-by-side across the bottom half of the page. In this one, CORDELIA, a baby girl, is laying in the dirt crying.
SFX: (extend unbroken over remaining panels) WHAAAAAAA

Panel 3:
Pulling back, we see a dead woman lying near CORDELIA. Fresh blood is oozing from bullet holes in her back.

CAPTION: I don’t know. I don’t think we’re supposed to kill the kid too.

Panel 4:
Pulling back even further, we’re now watching the scene over the shoulders of two gunmen, STACY and ERNEST, who have their guns drawn.

ERNEST: (off panel) Of course we’re supposed to kill the kid too.

Alternatively, you could do this as one large image split into three panels giving CORDELIA, the dead woman, and the outlaws each their own panel.


Panel 1:
Low angle looking up at ERNEST and STACY (CORDELIA’s POV) who have their guns pointed at the baby. STACY is the bigger and younger of the two. ERNEST is thinner and older. Neither seems very happy about pointing a gun at an infant.


ERNEST: You hear those stories about guys who come for revenge because their parents got killed when they were kids. Where do you think those guy come from?

Panel 2:
STACY lifts his gun.

STACY: I… I didn’t sign up to kill any babies.

Panel 2:
ERNEST gestures with his gun.

ERNEST: Remember in MacBeth? He finds out his uncle killed his dad to marry his mom so he kills his uncle.

Panel 3:
ERNEST and STACY argue, ignoring the baby.

STACY: That’s Hamlet.

ERNEST: No, it’s MacBeth.

Panel 4:
STACY looks off into the distance, away from ERNEST but NOT BEHIND THEM! ERNEST looks at STACY, rolling his eyes.

STACY: Where’s Walsh? He’d know.

ERNEST: Walsh never read MacBeth...

Panel 5:
STACY looks back at ERNEST to clarify.

STACY: No, he’d know if we’re supposed to kill the kid.
ERNEST: Of course we’re supposed to kill the kid. We were hired to kill the whole family and the kid’s part of the family.

Panel 6:
STACY aims his gun at CORDELIA again.

Panel 1:
STACY lowers his gun and turns to ERNEST again.

STACY: Then you do it.

Panel 2:
ERNEST and STACY look at the crying baby. ERNEST is hesitantly chewing on his lower lip trying to find an excuse to get out of infanticide.

ERNEST: I… I shot the lady. You shoot the kid. It’s only fair.

Panel 3:
STACY is yelling to the side. ERNEST cringes at the loudness.


Panel 4:
STACY shrugs.

STACY: I just want to make sure before I do thi-

Panel 5:
A bullet bursts through STACY’s chest.


Panel 6:
Two more holes tear through ERNEST’s chest as STACY slumps forward to the ground.



Panel 1:
ERNEST falls in the foreground. Behind him, we see a man holding a pistol with smoke pouring from the barrel. This is TAYLOR. He is a cold, dangerous looking man with a noose dangling from his neck, the end of it frayed. He looks like he’s been roughed up recently.


Panel 2:
Stepping forward, TAYLOR keeps his gun on STACY, making sure the two are really dead.

Panel 3:
STACY and ERNEST lie face down on the ground. TAYLOR turns toward CORDELIA.

Panel 4:
Barreling forward, he sweeps her up in his arms, still holding the pistol in his right hand.

TAYLOR: Shh… shhh… it’s all right. Daddy’s here.

Panel 5:
He holds CORDELIA tightly to his chest as he looks down on his dead wife.

TAYLOR: Stop crying. Daddy’s got you. You’re safe now.

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Ultraviolet by Patrick Scherberger

Saturday, August 06, 2011 / Bloggified by Jake Bell / sarcastic remarks (0)

Here's another sketch from the long lost sketchbook. Patrick Scherberger drew this for me at Atomic Comics during Free Comic Book Day in 2009, about a year before SECRET IDENTITY CRISIS came out. I get the feeling there is little else an artist dreads more than when someone steps up says, "This is a character I made up myself. It's not anything that's published yet, but I want you to draw it and treat it with the same respect you would Batman or Captain America," but Patrick barely rolled his eyes when I showed him Chris's cover on my laptop.

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Dr. Malcontent by Todd Nauck

Saturday, August 06, 2011 / Bloggified by Jake Bell / sarcastic remarks (0)

I'm about to move again. I've only been in this place about seven months and hadn't even bothered to unpack all my boxes. I opened up one of them and found a sketchbook that I hadn't seen in years, and in it were some Nate Banks sketches, including this Todd Nauck take on Dr. Malcontent from Phoenix Comicon 2007.

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