Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Devil in the Details...

There came a point in all the research for Enlightenment: the devil you know that I felt as if a light switch was thrown and everything in the dark room of our story became visible to me at once. It was our original intention to create a cast of characters and put them in a series of strange and horrifying supernatural situations, like some "Mature Readers" version of Scooby Doo except in our book, "old man Jenkins" was going to be a 3000 year old demon with a taste for Human flesh. Then it happened; I found that all the details that we had been building into our plot pointed to something quite interesting. Something that was so odd, so specifically different from any supernatural story I had heard, that I actually took almost a month off to research as to if anyone had put this idea into a story before. When I saw that, as far as I could gather, no one had, I put the last few pieces together and sent my idea off to Daniel.

It was this concept that caused us to create the driving force behind our Graphic Novel series: The Brotherhood of Jonah.

In the world of Enlightenment, it is The Brotherhood which keeps society from being fully controled by the demonic. They are the Spiritual equivalent of the CIA- operating by their own rules, fighting a "Black Ops" battle against the Devil right under the noses of society at large and using every form of intelligence they have to discover the ultimate plan of the forces of Evil. As the devil you know opens, The End of All Things is almost upon us, because the Devil's puzzle is missing just one piece...

What that piece is, I cannot tell you now. But I can say this- everything you'll need to figure it out will be right there in plain sight...

Happy Hunting!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

More about frogs...

Since my last blog entry, I got alot of e-mails saying I was mis-representing the noble frog. If you want to dig a little deeper into the symbolism of frogs, there are some great sites that I looked at in doing my research for Enlightenment that I'd like to pass along. has a great frog site that is a catch all for frog history and images. has a nice overview of Heket, and if you surf the site, cool info abounds about all things Ancient Egyptian.
has actual Heket amulets from antiquity that you can purchase, or you can get cheap knockoff statues here (which aren't really so cheap). has a nice overview of the plagues of Egypt including the frogs.

Minnesota has alot of information about the strange frog deformities of that state(interesting yet creepy).

Foodnetwork tells you how to cook frogs legs.

The BBC ran this story about a phenomina that became part of our opening scene... )And I KNOW a tad is NOT a frog, but it's a comic book for crying out loud!)

And finally- for those of you who need a laugh, i saw this on

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Send in the...Frogs???

The one question that I get asked probably more than anything else about Enlightenment is this: Why Frogs?

Back in the days of the Pharaohs, the Egyptians worshiped gods and goddesses which were represented by animal forms. One of those goddesses was Heket; “She” was the goddess of childbirth and of predicting the future. Although modern scholars consider her a “minor” deity, the frog images that her followers would present as good omens to pregnant women were found in most Egyptian households, from the smallest hut to the royal palace. Some research points to the idea that the Biblical accounts of both the slaughter of Israelite babies by Egyptian midwives and the Plague of Frogs which descended on the inhabitants of the Nile are connected… That the followers of the frog cult had the symbol of their devotion rammed down their throats.

The frog as a symbol of evil runs through the Bible, most notably in John’s Apocalypse. In it’s 16th chapter, he records the following Vision:

The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.

It’s a powerful image, and one that will shape the story of Enlightenment: the devil you know in many ways…

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Vote early, Vote often...

If you haven't gone to Markosia's website yet, you really should. Aside from lots of news and first hand info about their comics, they have a great forum; All of the creators and the company bigwigs frequent the message boards there, mixing it up with the fans in a very cool & honest way. They look for feedback, post the latest about how everything is going, and are very open to anything you have to say.

One such avenue of feedback are the frequent polls they put up. The latest one I've seen asks people to vote for their most anticipated upcoming comic... Of course, that's your cue to go here and vote for Enlightenment: the devil you know....

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Out from the Shadows

Back in May of 2005, I traveled with a few friends to Wizard World in Philly to promote some independant comics that a few of us were doing. I had known many of those guys for a long time through phonecalls and e-mails, but this would be the first time I had ever met most of them face to face. All of us were excited to bring our work in progress and our sketchbooks to show each other what we had been cooking up. That first night of the con, nobody slept; We passed around our stuff, each person giving feedback to the others and everyone who was there will tell you that it was one of the most productive critique sessions in their memory.

My contribution to that night was the first draft of Enlightenment. As I said before- it was a lengthy script which stopped abruptly and was different in a few key ways from the script that Dan and I are working from for the devil you know.

The first major difference is the opening; If you are one of the few who has seen the original comic sized preview, you will note how it started in the middle of action. Characters were thrown out at you, and by the time you had a solid idea as to who everyone was, the plot took an abrupt turn and everything was thrown on it's ear. That first page of the preview was where my first script started. We realized, however, that some back story was going to be needed to make sense of it all. Originally, I was going to explain that back story in a flashback about a third of the way through the book. When we decided to move to a mini series format, however, I re-visited those events and wrote a short scene for the opening to introduce Green and Jim in a more organic way.

The "dream" sequence in the beginning was another scene from later in the book- once I took the flashbacks and a few other scenes out of the mid point of the script, there was no place for it anymore. Rather than scrap it, I edited down to something short and merged it with my new opening. Dan loved it, escpecially since he used it as an opportunity to merge his new color artwork with the inkwash style of the original work he had done.

The other major change was that the story was streamlined quite a bit. In that original script, there were 2 main villains. As I said earlier, the scene that became the preview was written as an excercise- it was never meant to be anything other than a "what if" character study. The "main" villain was yet to be unveiled... The problem was, there wasn't enough time to really answer all the questions raised by the palm reader scene and still have a major story with an even more gruesome villain. What complicated things was, my little "experiment" went over SO well with everyone who saw the pages Dan had done, that I had to scrap the two thirds of the story that dealt with villain #2... along with all the characters and sub-plots that were connected with it.

What I was left with was 4 scenes and the new opening which formed the core of a new direction for Enlightenment, so I spent about 2 months writing new scenes and re-working the existing material into something with a radically different plot, but with the same feel and tone as the original script. I ended up with 6 comic sized issue scripts... but the mini series format was never meant to be...

Today's image is a sneak peak at one of the latest scenes Dan has whipped up... Enjoy!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Out of the Blue (and Orange)

Nothing on the comic book front to report- today belongs to my New York Mets! 2006 National League East Champions Baby!!!

Tomorrow I'll carry on with all the Enlightenment info your eyes can stand. Tonight, I'm too excited to sleep...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Public Service Announcement

Daniel and I will NOT be attending the Mighty Mini Con after all. The people running the convention can't afford to bring Dan there, and since our book doesn't come out until next year, it doesn't make sense for me to be there by myself. Maybe next year...

Saturday, September 16, 2006

"I buy the DVD to see deleted scenes..."

Between the time we sent our "1st chapter preview" to the printers and the point when we realized that we'd be overhauling the whole script for Enlightenment, Dan finished next scene & sent it to me. It took place in a hospital, and was designed to show how serious and life threatening Green's encounter with the Spiritual world had been. I really liked it, because it introduced Aaron to the reader as well as gave a little insight into his relationship with Nadia.

Once everything fell through with Speakeasy, however, Dan and I decided to take a hard look at the whole project. For a brief moment, Dan actually decided to quit doing the book because the script I had provided him was so large and unwieldly and would take him so long to finish that he became discouraged.

In order to salvage the project, I convinced Dan that we should continue working on the book but with a couple of key revisions, in the hopes of pitiching it to another publisher once we had something substantial to show them. These revisions would require 2 major changes: The book would be in color (so all the artwork done to that point would be scrapped) and the script would be re-worked with new scenes and a radically different plotline so that we could tell the story as a 6 issue mini series. One of the first casualties of these changes was cutting the scene; I had to pick up the pace and Green's hospital stay the the scenes that would have followed just weren't in the cards.

The first few people who ordered a copy from our website got lazerprinted copies of the scene. Other than that, nobody has seen this artwork... until now.

Pg1 Pg2 Pg3 Pg4 Pg5 Pg6 Pg7

And as a side note- we never did use Comixpress to print our book. When we knew we were going to San Diego to meet with Speakeasy, we felt we needed our book but Comicxpress had a problem and couldn't get them to us on time. We had to go with another printer, and found out that the old addage "Haste makes Waste" was true.... That guy is hiding in some spider hole with Ben Laden because half the world wants to sue him, so I won't give him 15 minutes more fame by shouting him out here.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Buying the Cow Before the Horse...

In the summer of 2005, alot of events lined up in a very weird ways concerning Enlightenment. Daniel and I had finished our preview book and were sending it to the printers; Because we only wanted to print a small handful of books to use in gaining the interest of publishers, we planned on using Comixpress. By the time I had the files in my posession, I had gotten a series of e-mails from friends of mine concerning comics they were going to press with themselves.

The first e-mail was from The Megazeen; They were planning on putting out a special giveaway issue for the Wizard World con in Philly, and they had some ad space they needed to fill. Dan and I decided this would be a cool idea, since (according to Comicxpress) we should have had copies of our books in our posession by then so it might be a nice way to get people to know about the book. For that ad, Dan did this- it has nothing to do with anything in the book, but it's features a creature that will make it into a later story and its cool as hell...

The second e-mail came from a friend in the UK; He was part of a book called Sam119 and he ALSO had some ad space he needed to fill. We agreed to trade ads with him (and Megazeen as well) and because his book was in full color, Dan wanted to do a special ad for that. Since the book was called the devil you know, Dan did this, which features a very traditional devil image- a motif which will run though all the Enlightenment books...

The third e-mail I got was from Chuck Satterlee; He too was doing a book called Of Bitter Souls for a new company called Speakeasy. Like the other two friends of mine, he wanted to do an ad trade. Since he didn't have an ad prepared and we were ready to go to press, Chuck just agreed to run this ad for us- later I found out from Adam, the companie's owner, that he agreed to let our ad run but he had rejected some other ads from far more established creative teams.

Running that ad set in motion a very rapid series of events- Chuck asked to see more of the book, so I sent him a PDF of the preview. He loved it so much, he called Adam from Speakeasy and told him he should sign Dan and I to do Enlightenment through Speakeasy. Adam liked the art from the ad, and after seeing the PDF, decided if Dan and I could come to San Diego for the con, he'd meet with us to discuss making a deal. This, of course, made Dan and I excited beyond belief and we found a way to get there. I would up flying 9 hours to get there, was on the ground for 21 and took a 11 hour, rain hampered flight home... and all for a meeting that lasted less than 5 minutes!

After the fact, I heard several stories surrounding the events of that day which I can't repeat here... but I will say that although the meeting was very positive, we didn't come away with a Speakeasy contract. All of that was for the best, however, because Adam ended up folding the company less than 6 months later and it caused Dan and I to make 2 major changes to our plans for the book. We decided that Enlightenment would be in color, and that it would be broken up into comic sized issues. To make this work, I wrote a new opening sequence to the story taking an existing scene from late in our original script and fleshing it out with new material. This scene, which is now our Graphic Novel's first chapter, set in motion a variety of sweeping changes to the storyline that forced me to re-work and re-write our script and yielded the story we have now...

Today's image is a cool pin-up from the original preview; It has nothing to do with anything, but it's also a very hot image... Oh- and we did one more ad in automata, announcing a 12 issue min-series that never happened...

On the cover

Once we had enough finished sequentials to do a preview book, it was time to work out a cover. If you've seen a copy of the B&W preview, you'll notice that the printing (ESPECIALLY the cover) is reproduced so inconsistantly that if it were turned in as a project for a High School printing class, it would rate a D- as best. Anyone who's seen a nice scan of the intended cover (here) can attest that it's head and shoulders better than the final result, which I can only assume was printed by half blind, homeless, crack addicted monkeys. It's a shame too, because I have the original watercolor painting of the cover at home and it's stunning...

What most of you probably DON"T know, however, is that we had other cover concepts that were rejected. One of them (here) was based on a detail from the final cover painting. Another (here) was a similar idea, and contains an image that we eventually want to turn into a girls Enlightenment shirt. Still another was more radical (here) but also more crude. (the picture for today is another attempt at the same image that we had hoped to use as a poster at one time...)

Once we got the copies from the printer, however, it became obvious that we wanted very few people to see it because of the poor print quality. I weeded through the copies and picked out 20 of the best examples, such as they were, and we made them a signed & numbered edition which we gave out to a handful of industry people at the San Diego Comic Con. One of those people was Adam, the owner of Speakeasy comics.... But that story will have to wait until tomorrow.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Digging for Bones

We had all of the parameters in place for our "epic" story, but there was one glaring question that had to be answered... Why?

Why were these people looking for demons? Why did they get into these situations again and again? What were they looking to discover?

Searching for answers, I dove into research, looking to build up the details of the world our characters inhabited. I read books on witchcraft, exorcism, forensics, archeology, biology and psychology. I read Biblical accounts, police procedural manuals, crime scene reports and a host of other topics looking for the ideas to build our story from. I ended up with about 300 pages of notes and source material from which I began to write short scenes with our characters to see what I could get out of them. From those scenes, I began putting together a script... A script that quickly became long, complex and almost impossible to complete. The script needed something strong to open it, so I dug through all the "practice" scenes I had done and found one that I thought would work; It was a weird, violent scene where Green and her partner, Jim, visited a palm reader. It was never meant to be used, but I thought it would at least give Dan something he'd enjoy drawing until I could replace it with something better.

Rather than admit derailment, I sent this script (which, among other things, didn't have an ending) to Dan. He loved it and began working on the opening scene... A scene which, on paper, was 2 pages of script which I thought Dan would make into 5. Dan did my hopes one better and turned it into 19 pages. At that rate, we had a 300 page graphic novel in the making and I hadn't even written an ending!

At this point, we had been working on Enlightenment for almost a year; We had decided that it would be B&W (just in case we had to self publish it) and it would be the first in a "series." Because of this, we knew we needed a story title other than just calling it Enlightenment, so we settled on the devil you know... Partially because it was an old Southern saying and I pictured Aaron as a Southern gentleman of sorts, and partially because it was cool sounding. At this point, while dan was finishing the first scene, I finally figured out the BIG Why of the story, and plotted out what would happen to all the main characters should we see the story to completion.

It was also the point we decided to print a preview book to gain interest in the larger work...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Wearin' O' the Green

I mentioned last time that of all the inital ideas I pitched to Daniel, there was only one that made it into the Enlightenment concept; That one idea was the introduction of a character named Miss Nadia Green....

Dan's intial idea, which I really loved and still do, was that Enlightenment would feature a main character who knew the Spiritual aspects of the Universe first hand; He was a person for whom seeing was really believing. One idea that I proposed before I had gotten Dan's e-mail was almost the inverse- I wanted to do a story about a young person who discovered that there was a real Spiritual world all around them, and that the stories about this character would center on discovering what it was all about.

As we communicated more about ideas we would do together, I took Dan's basic idea and proposed that we add this second character, so that readers would have someone to see all these things for the first time with. Someone "Green" to the world of the Spiritual. This person would be a blood relative to Aaron- more of a nephew or niece than a child, because I figured that a guy like Aaron probably was too busy hunting satan to get married. Dan loved the idea... but, for some reason, he thought I was proposing a CHARACTER named Green and he asked if this character was going to be male or female.

I thought a bit about it, and being a huge fan of Horror movies, I thought having a strong but somewhat conflicted female character would turn a few things about the genre on it's ear. Dan agreed, and we began to flesh out who she would be.

For both of us, it was important that Green be somewhat of an "Anti-Glamour" girl; We wanted to avoid the big boobs and revealing outfits that would be both distasteful as well as impractical for a woman who would be plugging demons full of lead. We wanted her to be strong, but to have all the quirks and minor inconsistancies that any real person might. And like any real person, she needed a name. I picked Nadia- partially for personal reasons that I won't go into here, and partly because of it means "One who has Hope."

As for the visual of Nadia- You can all thank Dan's lovely wife for that; She's both the inspiration and the life model for Green when Dan needs to capture a pose for the book. The picture you see today is one of the photo's Dan took of her dressed as Green when he was developing the look of the character...

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Three Stories

Once Daniel and I had made contact, we decided that it would be great to work together; Both of us were looking for a partner to do the kinds of comics we wanted to see made but didn’t really see in the market. Dan was like me, in that while we enjoyed the comics medium, we weren’t big into most superhero books out there. I gave Dan a few very general ideas that I had for comics- most were flexible enough to be incorporated with other story ideas, and honestly, most were mediocre at best. There was one idea that I had which became a part of Enlightenment, but we’ll get into that later…

Dan, on the other hand, had a few ideas which he had worked out to varying degrees. Three ideas, to be exact.

The first idea was the most fleshed out; It wasn’t a bad idea- on the contrary, I kind of liked it. But what got to me was, I didn’t have a clue how to do something with it at the time.

The second idea was somewhat detailed… I really liked it, and in fact, I may bring that idea with some modifications back to Dan at some time in the future because I think we could make it work well.

The third idea was the most sketchy and the most intriguing. Here’s a portion of the e-mail:


Stories surrounding a detective, Aaron Darby,
given the ability to literally see the
spiritual world. A limited series of
short novels that get into supernatural horror.
Stories I have in mind are concerned with
unexplainable events and legends, such as
possession, hauntings, occults and black magic.
More along the lines of
“mature reading”, something that allows those
Christian mature readers
(yes, I believe there is such a thing) to get into
fine art comics that
do not contain fowl language, sex,
or any female degrading whatsoever,
but are not along the lines of superhero books.
Think Vertigo comics…”

Although there is a lot more to the story now than there was in that e-mail, the basic core idea is still there…

Oh- and the picture for today is a pin-up originally done for the B&W preview book but didn’t make the cut…

Friday, September 08, 2006

The road to Enlightenment

When you are deep into any journey, sometimes it pays you strong dividends to reflect on how you got where you are. A good portion of the feedback I’ve gotten about Enlightenment, aside from things like “wow” and “That freaked out my freakin' freaker,” is on the subject of how Dan and I got together and the evolution of the story. It’s not a very linear story, but many times, true stories run through time in creative ways. Like any good story, this will take time to tell…

Back in March of 2003, I was entered into a “competition” of sorts; The goal was to take anything that appeared in the Bible and make as creative a comic as possible from it. The artist I hooked up with and I decided to turn a somewhat boring section of the history of the kings of Israel into a violent space epic, filled with Tiki god robots who ate people and interplanetary destruction, and all without changing one word of text from the Book itself. In my hubris of the moment, I thought to myself that I had co-created the coolest and most original thing in the competition. That was- until I saw the work of one Mr. Daniel Bradford.

Now- and by this I mean no offense to the writer of the piece- it wasn’t some original twist or piece of dialogue which grabbed me; It was the art. From the moment I saw his work, I immediately saw a kindred spirit- someone who I felt I not only understood, but someone who was pushing himself in a direction that was pointing toward amazing things to come. Even though by Dan’s standards today, that story was crude and didn’t live up to Dan’s ideals, there were elements in that work that grabbed me. I figured that Dan MUST be a professional- something that we’d both chuckle over later- so I searched the internet to find out what else he did. My quest was fruitless, except for some comics he did for the Arizona Daily Wildcat. When I contacted him, he was impressed that I did my homework…

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Before and After

I wanted to show you how some things have changed over time with Enlightenment: the devil you know, so I thought I would post a couple of examples of parts of the same sequence. Here is a detail from Chapter 2. Aside from the fact that, at the time we printed the comic sized preview, the scene was going to be Chapter 1, you can see how the scene was planned to be reproduced in B&W and used inkwash and digital effects. You may also note that there was more of a cartooish look to the figures...

The new scene, however, is alot more crisp and moody. The same 2 characters appear, but the blacks are better defined, the mood is stronger and when it is colored, it's going to have alot of impact in a way the original art did not...

The writing changed a bit too. Maybe I'll give you some clues to the how's and why's of that soon. If you are lucky.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Such a thing as glory...

I got some pages from Dan the other day from Enlightenment: the devil you know that haven't been colored or lettered yet... All I can say is I'm getting very excited to see the whole Graphic Novel finished. One thing that caught my eye was a poster in the re-vamped palm reader scene (from our hard to find B&W promo you can buy only here). On the wall behind Green was a huge image of a Hand of Glory.

For those of you who either don't want to follow the link or are just waiting for me to spill the goodies on it, a Hand of Glory is the severed hand of a man condemed to die, usually by hanging, which has been converted into a macabre candelabra.... say that 5 times fast! LOL

The supposed purpose of such an grim "charm" was to render a person invisible while he or she preformed crimes. What could this symbolize? More than you might imagine. Stay tuned...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Little things mean alot

I had a great conversation with Daniel last night. He's been plowing through the artwork for Enlightenment: the devil you know at a pretty strong clip, and the results are gorgous. I literally began to tear up seeing some of the B&W pages- the work is really exceeding any of my expectations in every possible way.

One thing he's doing is working on smaller paper- the change in scale is making a big difference...

More sneek peeks to come...

Friday, September 01, 2006

Tom Hall seems to have all the answers

I was accused on a forum today of having all the answers. Honestly, I do not.

Here, however, is a list of the answers I DO have:

Size 8, Ulysses S. Grant, Green, Chocolate and Black Raspberry, 42, Jesus Christ, What is The Spruce Goose, 7 (because ice cream has no bone), The Scream, Titanic, Romania, nipples, kleptocracy, Your Mama and the New York Mets.

I have forgotten some of the questions, but I assure you that if you had them written out in front of you, those would be the answers.