New Monkey-Guy on the block...comic book creator/writer/artist wants to ask you what would you AMA folks want to ask me..?

blake
Jul 23, 2018

hey there

my name is blake, I make art, images, sounds, and stuff. here's proof.

lately I've primarily been working on bringing this guy to life:

The Saga of Evil Monkey Man! is available at comiXology, monarchcomics.com and starting Monday July 23rd for free as a motion-comic at evilmonkeyman.com

I am the creator, writer, colorist, and letterer of this new comic book.

so...ask me anything...

blake4AMA.jpg

www.evilmonkeyman.com

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Do you have any interests in more mainstream comics, and if so, which characters or properties would you most like to get your hands on?
Jul 24, 2:52PM EDT0

hello Gayane, thanks for asking...

if you scroll through some of the previous questions/answers I think you'll find my interests aren't really that obscure - I like Spider-Man, Wolverine, Batman & Hellboy - I'd like to think that someday we will be able to say that Evil Monkey Man is a mainstream comic!

as a writer I'd be a little intimidated taking on any of those previously mentioned franchises. as a colorist I think I'd have to change my approach quite a bit to fit the art style prevelant in comics today, but yeah I would enjoy working on any of those...mostly Spider-Man I suppose.

Jul 24, 6:45PM EDT0
What other ways do you promote your work and do you have any advice on the subject for any up and comers out there?
Jul 24, 12:18PM EDT0

hi Lea, thank you for your question

first off I myself am an "up and comer" so I'll take advice as much as I'll share...I promote pretty heavily on facebook and as of yesterday on YouTube (I released EMM #1 as a motion comic) 

along with my friends from Monarch Comic and Gary Dufner (who writes and draws "United Forces" a really bad-%&$ zombie comic) I attend conventions up and down the east coast of the US.

for color work I peruse digitalwebbing.com and submit to folks.

Jul 24, 12:39PM EDT0
What other publishers are you working with in terms of comic book material?
Jul 24, 10:44AM EDT0

hello Adri

EMM is self-published digitally and available in print from Monarch Comics. I color some of Monarch's other titles and have worked with/for some other self-publishing creators. a long time ago I got to work on titles from Marvel & Archie (and a few others) as Mike Esposito's assistant.

here's something I colored recently...

Jul 24, 11:59AM EDT0

wow - thanks for all your questions! that made me think more than I thought I would have to - or maybe I just like to talk too much? I hope I addressed your queries well...

Jul 23, 8:02PM EDT0

Okay, so, I'm being watched and don't trust myself as I think that's who's spying on me. I looked and heard the Evil Monkey Man motion comic and...very good! It chilled my downstairs. I'm wondering if there is might be a connection to big doings in the dark on a parallel Earth. You know, bad-time shenanigans whose names and faces have been changed to protect the indigent....like me! Don't answer that! Wait, I wanna know. Whisper it in my ear hole. Hurry.

Jul 23, 6:26PM EDT1

(ssshhh...)

Jul 23, 6:34PM EDT0
How do you hype yourself up for a page? Describe your approach to starting a day’s work.
Jul 23, 3:23PM EDT0

cool question Cieloesteron, thanks

since I wear two (or maybe more hats) on EMM I'll give you two answers...my writing process is pretty reflective of my personality. I seem to have both A.D.D. as well as O.C.D. so in other words, I'm obsessively distracted. I tend to jump around within the process and get writing and research done in sporadic bursts of interest and productivity. this kinda works, since right now I'm essentially working for myself and setting my own deadlines. I imagine a more disciplined approach will be required when I'm answering to someone else's agenda.

as far as coloring goes, I tend to have more of a work routine. (because sometimes I'm coloring someone else's book.) I like to get up fairly early (to avoid the wife & kids) - get a nice cup of coffee - set up with some TOOL, A Perfect Circle or Nine Inch Nails (or maybe a Netflix documentary playing on my iPhone.) that'll keep me coloring for a couple hours (if I don't have anything "real-world" I need to attend to.) sometimes if I have to I'll do another afternoon session but usually won't return to the screen until after dinner when again the wife & kids are absent or occupied. although my music choices tend to be loud & aggressive there is a very zen-like quality to my process. a sort of self-absorbed and very enjoyable time-out from reality.

:)

Last edited @ Jul 23, 9:24PM EDT.
Jul 23, 6:14PM EDT0
What is the hardest part of being an integral comic book artist? Which part is more difficult for you? To write, color, or to letter? What process do yo most enjoy?
Jul 23, 8:59AM EDT0

hello Tinay thanks for your question. I think that the most difficult as well as the most enjoyable part of creating a comic book is the writing.

lettering is kind of tedious so, while not hard per se, I would go with lettering as the least enjoyable.

I do a lot of research while writing, and I enjoy that very much. however, crafting a story is surely a difficult task.  but difficulty doesn't translate into not enjoyable, so, yeah, writing is my favorite part. 

Last edited @ Jul 23, 9:25AM EDT.
Jul 23, 9:22AM EDT0
Have you ever collaborated with anyone on a project? How was that experience? If not, would you like to? Who would be a dream collaboration?
Jul 22, 11:38PM EDT0

hello Jose, thank you for asking. comics tend to be very collaborative and my experiences with collaborating have mostly been fruitful and enjoyable. as you can read in my responses to some other questions here on AMAfeed, EMM itself has been and is a very collaborative effort. I'm always bouncing ideas off my buddy Frank who wrote the song that inspired the comic. Butch Mapa, the artist of EMM has become an invaluable partner to the project. I also have other creative friends look at stuff along the way and have my friend Vincent Ferrante edit each issue. (and when I say edit, that doesn't mean just grammar...Vin is, above-all, a true student of comic books and sci-fi - so he not only keeps me & my dumb ideas in check, but adds an invaluable second set of eyes toward continuity, context and storytelling.)

dream collaboration? as far as which artists I would like to work with as a writer, Bill Sienkiewicz and Mike Mignola will always top my list. 

Last edited @ Jul 23, 9:22PM EDT.
Jul 23, 7:59AM EDT0
Could you tell people a little about your process in making Evil Monkey Man? What was the inspiration behind him?
Jul 22, 6:19PM EDT0

hi Amraly, thank you for your question. I think I touch upon my process a little bit in a couple of answers (and definitely talk about the inspiration behind EMM which was the song "Evil Monkey Man" by FL!NG LO!S.) so I'll describe the mechanics so to speak of my process...

once I decided to take Frank's 3:29 minute song beyond a five-page adaptation of his lyrics, my first step was to design the overall story arc. to again quote the legendary Jim Shooter, I had to figure out/decide "what it was, what changed it, how’d it come out."  I knew I'd be hiding a lot of symbology, philosophy, religion and musical references into the project so these were mapped out in a notebook. then I started breaking down each of the twelve issues/episodes to be stand-alone adventures that also push the bigger story. each episode has hints to further the characters' quest and gets a lot of research because I place these fantastical folks and their exploits into very real places within real history, or at least urban legend. the lab that explodes in episode one, for example, really is a real National Lab and really is in Cold Spring Harbor, NY. the firehouse, harbor, church and high school depicted in the story are genuinely accurate and based on photos I made my mother and her friend go take. (they live on Long Island, I live in Virginia.)

once the issue is fleshed out I go right to the typewriter (well, iMac actually) and essentially write the script from front to back. I have pretty specific visual ideas so I often detail camera angles and such for Butch (the artist of EMM) to work with. I sometimes even go so far as to provide maps and (as you can see above) photo references for panels. then Butch sends me fairly loose layouts. I usually add balloon layouts and sometimes adjust or outright change panels, even whole pages, to make the story flow. Butch also has the freedom to add and change panels to better effect as well. once we agree on all the layouts Butch starts working on the finished pages. after that I color and letter them. here's the layouts of page 20 from EMM #2 which eventually became two pages...

here's the finished (inked) page 20...

and the final colored page 21 (which started as just the bottom x'd-out panel on the layout above...)

for the covers I like to use the "second-act" approach which, in theory, sets up the characters in a moment of rising action or dramatic antagonism. as I mention elsewhere, I'm designing each EMM cover to be an homage to a favorite movie scene or poster, usually directly or thematically connected to the story inside. I also would like to someday have each cover image translated into 3D objects. here's an AMAfeed exclusive look at some early renderings of the EMM #1 cover...

Last edited @ Jul 23, 5:58PM EDT.
Jul 23, 8:43AM EDT0
How did you cultivate your own art style? Did you pattern yourself after anyone?
Jul 22, 3:04PM EDT0

hi Bsharmila, thank you for your question. I don't actually draw EMM, this project is drawn by the amazingly talented Butch Mapa. however, while in pre-production I knew I had a very specific look I wanted and went through almost 200 portfolios, literally from around the world, before choosing to work with Butch (who btw is from the Philippines.)

as far as coloring, I think my "style" (if I have one) is very influenced by the comics I grew up with in the 1980s. so Glynis Wein & Bob Sharen come to mind. Dave Stewart is probably my favorite colorist (perhaps most likely because of his awesome enhancement of Mike Mignola's work.) I learned the basics of coloring comics from K Michael Russell (who colors the EMM covers) but our styles differ dramatically.

as far as my other art - you probably weren't asking so I probably will save my answer for when/if I do another AMAfeed...

Last edited @ Jul 23, 7:58PM EDT.
Jul 23, 8:10AM EDT0
When did you decide you wanted to pursue comics, writing and curating as a career?
Jul 21, 9:53PM EDT0

that happened a couple of times Naveen, thanks for your question.

technically the first time was in 3rd or 4th grade, right about when I started reading comics 'cause of a new kid in class that was reading and collecting all things Marvel. his name was Al - with him and another buddy Nick we started writing and drawing comics. then in high school I decided art in general would be my pathway and there was quite a bit of comic book stuff in my portfolio when I applied to the School of Visual Arts. while in college a lot of my friends were pursuing comics, so I did too (even though I couldn't draw nearly as well and wasn't even in the right classes...) after college I was involved in trying to get a comics/entertainment venture off the ground with Mike Esposito. and finally, about three years ago I started working on comics again. so yeah - off and on over the years I decided to try to make money by making comics. (I do, however, have a "day job.")

Last edited @ Jul 22, 8:18AM EDT.
Jul 22, 6:07AM EDT0
Who are the villain and the hero in this story? How did you decide the role?
Jul 21, 12:59PM EDT0

thanks for asking Dolly

I'm afraid my answer will have to be deliberately vague on this one ,because the question of who is or isn't the hero and villain is more than kinda part of the drama as it unfolds in "The Saga of Evil Monkey Man." in other words...you'll have to read it.

Last edited @ Jul 22, 6:38AM EDT.
Jul 22, 6:16AM EDT0
What tips would you give other artists looking to break into the comics industry?
Jul 21, 9:22AM EDT0

I'm still trying to "break in" myself, Kate, so I'll do my best at answering while remaining humble...

if you want to write and/or draw comics you obviously should have a deep love for the artform. the best creators are themselves usually huge fans and students of comics. read comics, study the art, go to conventions and meet with creators, go to their convention panels and watch any videos/interviews on youtube. make friends of creators, and be willing to take criticism/advice. and then, like I mentioned in another thread, keep doing it. practice practice practice - and never give up.

Last edited @ Jul 23, 6:02PM EDT.
Jul 21, 10:52AM EDT0
What are three things you would advice any indie comic creator to do to position their projects for success?
Jul 21, 5:39AM EDT0

I think the best way to approach an answer to your question, Shreya, is to first define "success" for ourselves.  I will start by reminding us that not all of us will reach the level of "success" of say, Tony Stark. and that's very ok. I believe that this is the first step towards achieving success and contentment. all of us must define success for ourselves and then, if we choose to, strive to achieve it.

however, my advice for three things any creator can do to position their projects (and themselves) for success are as follows:

1. believe you can do it

2. do it.

3. keep doing it / don't give up.

Last edited @ Jul 22, 6:18AM EDT.
Jul 21, 10:42AM EDT0
What first got you interested in comics at the first place? How old were you when you began reading comics?
Jul 20, 11:01PM EDT0

hey Numanyasin, thank you for your question. if memory serves, I was in 3rd or 4th grade when I started reading comics. there was a new kid in our school and he was really big into comics. I thought he was cool, so I started reading comics too. like I mention somewhere else here on AMAfeed I think my first comic was a Spider-Man title, likely "Marvel Team-Up." but I also remember very vividly buying the "Wolverine" limited series from the smokeshop where I used to get my comics.

Last edited @ Jul 22, 6:22AM EDT.
Jul 21, 10:56AM EDT0
As a writer in the comic book industry, what is one thing you feel should be in every superhero comic book or script?
Jul 20, 10:46PM EDT0

wow, Noyon, that's a great question...

I think the one (or three) thing(s) that should be in every superhero (or any other) script should be a beginning, middle and end. a lot of comic books are cliffhangers by necessity but a good story needs to have conflict and resolution in my opinion. or in the more impressive words of the legendary Jim Shooter...a story is "what it was, what changed it, how’d it come out."  check out Mr Shooter's "$1.98 Storytelling Lecture" on his website by clicking his name above.

Last edited @ Jul 22, 6:31AM EDT.
Jul 21, 11:00AM EDT0
What were some comic stories that you loved experiencing while growing up? Do you still enjoy any of these stories as an adult?
Jul 20, 4:25PM EDT0

hi Ivan, thanks for asking...I'm not sure I'm really done growing up so I'll just list some of my favorites from over the years which yes, I still enjoy...

"Wolverine" by Chris Claremont, Frank Miller, Josef Rubinstein & Glynis Wein 

"Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions" by Mark Gruenwald, John Romita Jr & Bob Layton

"Batman: Year One" by Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli & Richmond Lewis

"The Dark Night Returns" by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson & Lynn Varley

"Ronin" by Frank Miller & Lynn Varley

"Electra Assassin" by Frank Miller & Bill Sienkiewicz

"Daredevil: Love & War" by Frank Miller & Bill Sienkiewicz

"Stray Toasters" by Bill Sienkiewicz

"Hellboy" by  Mike Mignola & Dave Stewart (PS anything by Mignola makes my list...ie Fafhrd and the Gray Mauser, Gotham by Gaslight, etc and so on...)

"V for Vendetta" by Alan Moore, David Lloyd & Tony Weare

"Maus" by Art Spiegelman

"A Sailors Story" by Sam Glanzman

"War Stories" by Garth Ennis (& multiple artists)

"The 'Nam" by Doug Murray (& multiple artists including Michael Golden)

hmm, I guess I could really go on and on for a while, but that's like my top fourteen off the top of my head (for right now, until I remember more and more...)

Last edited @ Jul 22, 8:21AM EDT.
Jul 21, 11:06AM EDT0
Do you have any other future projects that you are currently working on, or thinking off starting?
Jul 20, 11:25AM EDT0

well, Teodoraam, thank you for asking. yes, I do.

there are few off-shoot stories from within "The Saga of Evil Monkey Man" that I'd like to tell but didn't fit into the current series. for example I hope to tell the backstory of the character Doc who we meet in an awkward moment in a darkened hotel room. the theme (veteren suicide) is a little too dark for an all-ages comic which EMM is.

and in a later issue EMM helps rescue the victim of a motor vehicle accident. the expanded story is that the rescued teenager later dies and becomes an organ donor. a true story but a theme not really well suited for the all-ages "Saga."

in addition, at least one of the characters, Big Al from episode 4 will have at least a one-shot, maybe more I hope.

oh, and then there's Strobe Warrior. heh, yeah...Strobe Warrior...more on him to come in the future...or past?

I'm also working on fleshing out a completely not-related project called "The Many Adventures of Alejandro Peri." that series will follow the exploits of an immortal superhero-type from the Middle East as he serves in the US Navy from the 18th century to now.

Last edited @ Jul 22, 8:25AM EDT.
Jul 21, 11:16AM EDT0
Who was the first sci-fi, fantasy or comic book character that really sparked your imagination?
Jul 20, 8:20AM EDT0

wow that's a fun question, Mary, thank you for leading me down this path of nostalgia...

when I really think about it, I believe the first character that really sparked my imagination was Captain Marvel/Shazam on the TV series Shazam! for my kindergarten Halloween costume I'm pretty sure I was Shazam! (and Luke Skywalker the next year...)

a couple of years later I remember really loving The Incredible Hulk and The Greatest American Hero.

as far as comic books, Spider-Man was my first - I think it was actually an issue of "Marvel Team-Up."

Last edited @ Jul 23, 9:12PM EDT.
Jul 21, 7:06AM EDT0
Diversity has been such a buzzword lately in comics. What’s your take on it?
Jul 20, 6:07AM EDT0

that could potentially be an awkward question for an old fat white American guy who grew up reading comics about almost exclusively white heroes, Giancastro, but I'll take a shot...

my take, like most folks I hope, is that I'm all for diversity in comics, as long as it's not pandering for the bottom line. it is somewhat ironic to me that diversity is a buzzword lately, because it seems to me (admittedly an old fat white American guy) that comic books (especially indies)  have been quite a bit ahead of the curve when it comes to diversity and inclusiveness. comics have, over the last few decades, become such a wonderfully unique place for self-expression, and, economically speaking, fairly accessible for creators to create and audiences to acquire. of course, there will always be "distribution obstacles" in any commercial business, but the internet has been a game changer for a lot of art/artists. (see an expanded pontification about "distribution difficulties" in the answer to Cekovn's question elsewhere in this thread.)

so yeah - if we look at art (including comics) as an expression of society, the diversity of creators and creations should be (and hopefully is becoming more) reflective of the diversity in society.

Last edited @ Jul 22, 10:50PM EDT.
Jul 22, 9:14AM EDT0
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