Ghoul Scouts Review Roundup, part 1

gs01_all_covsWe’ve gotten some great reviews for Ghoul Scouts already! Here’s what folks are saying:

Susan from The Pullbox says, “While the aim of this series is an all-ages book, it doesn’t pander to the target audience. It’s a good read for comic lovers of any age, because this is just….fun. Enjoy it. I know I did.”  See Susan’s whole review here.

Sharon of I Smell Sheep rates the book 5 out of 5 Sheep, saying, “The fast paced story offers touching moments, as the characters deepen their friendship, and fighting sequences.”  Read Sharon’s complete review here. 

Carl Boehm from Comic Bastards gives Ghoul Scouts 4/5, and says, “The team on this book made something fun and wonderful that readers of any age will enjoy.  In a time where the pre-teen cartoon is nothing more than a nostalgic memory, Ghoul Scouts stands in to provide something fun and crazy for an age group that needs more than the hate-filled chat channels of popular video games.”  The rest of Carl’s review is here. 

Thanks very much to all of these reviewers for taking the time to read and assess our book!

THE SECRET ORIGIN OF THE GHOUL SCOUTS

Action Lab marketing/promotions guru Jamal Igle asked me to write a few words about how Ghoul Scouts happened. The fine folks at SpartanTown, First Comics News, and An Englishman in San Diego have been kind enough to run an excerpt of the essay I sent Jamal.

Here’s the essay in its entirety:

Ghoul Scouts development began back in 2007, in an email exchange with a friend discussing our weekends. She did normal things like spending time with friends and playing video games. For me, any time that wasn’t devoted to having fun with my son, Chance, was focused solely on making comics. As many comics folk will tell you, making comics can be an all-consuming pastime that leaves little room for other interests.

Her: I LOVE that you related being able to play “Dead Rising” to being more “well-rounded.”

 Me: Zombie killing is a skill that creates well-rounded people. Everyone knows that. It’s in Chance’s Cub Scout manual, page 147. He can earn a zombie-killing badge and everything.

And it snowballed from there.

I was most excited about having a comic I made that I could share with my son. He was 7 years old when the above discussion took place. This would be the perfect book to read with him!

The original title of the series was Zomboy Scouts, and it featured a group of boys trying to get home from a scouting campout during a zombie outbreak. At the conclusion of the adventure, the boys would realize that there was something strange about their town and that they were the only line of defense against the weirdness. The second volume would introduce an all-girls rival group called the Ghoul Scouts, and we’d have two companion series: one starring four boys and one starring four girls.

I had so much worked out in my head: a series, a spin-off, a couple of cool titles and a number of plots, but I didn’t have an artist. I write and draw comics, but, as an artist, it’s important to understand when your style is appropriate, and when it is not. I can occasionally work in a cartoony style, but there’s a lot of struggle to get the artwork looking consistent and polished. I needed to find someone who could breathe life into these characters. Finding the right artist for a project can be a time-consuming process. Believe me, I know.

Enter Mark Stegbauer. Mark has spent years inking superhero and adventure comics, and he does it well. However, Mark is a crazy-talented cartoonist, as well. After seeing his creator-owned title Doctor Goyle, which he writes and draws, I knew his style was perfect for Ghoul Scouts.

In 2014—seven years after starting to play with the idea of scouts versus zombies—Mark and I started work together on the Zomboy Scouts pitch. Early in the process, I started sharing pitch text and story beats with Chris Murrin, whose editorial insights have been invaluable to my Athena Voltaire work. Chris loved the premise and characters, but wasn’t crazy about the title.

After living with it for years, I wasn’t about to change the title, just because Chris couldn’t see the brilliance of it. Nope. I was digging my heels in on this one.

The next morning, though, I realized that Chris was right. The title Zomboy Scouts made it seem like our heroes would only be fighting zombies, but our plans for upcoming stories have them encountering all sorts of monsters! Ghoul Scouts worked better, and combining the boys and girls into one group from the outset made for a much stronger story and cast.

Ding ding ding! Both Chris and Mark loved this change, and we were off and running. All we needed now was someone to color the book.

Choosing a color artist for a comic sounds easy, but is an incredibly difficult proposition. Comic book coloring, in effect, marries the sensibilities of two separate artists into a single visual style. We were fortunate that my old friend and collaborator Jason Millet was available and enthusiastic about the project. Better still, the entire team was delighted with how Mark’s and Jason’s approaches meshed. We also lucked out when the indefatigable Drew Browne came aboard as a color assistant/flatter.

Eight-and-a-half years have passed since that initial email. My son is no longer in Cub Scouts—he’s 15! I never got to read Zomboy Scouts to him, but he’s excited to read Ghoul Scouts himself. He knows which elements of the kids are based on him, and he can spot the inside jokes I’ve peppered throughout the series just for him.

I’m even more excited now—excited that kids everywhere will soon be able to meet this team of intrepid scouts and join them on their journey. I’m eager to share all the wonders of the series and its environs with them: from the town of Full Moon Hollow, to the woods outside town throughout Hemlock County, to the mysteries surrounding Wolfsbane Cemetery.

Grab your sleeping bag and come join us, won’t you?

Athena Voltaire unearths high adventure at Action Lab

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PITTSBURGH, PA- Globetrotting aviatrix Athena Voltaire takes on Nazis, occult science, and mythical creatures against the backdrop of the 1930s. Now she’s bringing her knuckle-dusting style of pulp adventure to Action Lab Entertainment.

“I’m proud to add Athena Voltaire to such a diverse line of quality books,” said writer/artist Steve Bryant, whose all-ages series Ghoul Scouts debuts at Action Lab in June. “I’ve known the Action Lab folks for years, and after working with them on Ghoul Scouts, I knew they were the perfect publisher for Athena Voltaire.”

“I’m ecstatic for Steve to join the Action Lab family, and I can’t think of a better home for Athena than Action Lab. We have a proud history of publishing strong female characters, and Athena Voltaire is sure to stand shoulder to shoulder with Princeless, Aero-Girl, Nutmeg and Fight Like a Girl.” said ALE President Dave Dwonch.

Athena Voltaire launched as part of the Modern Tales family of webcomics in 2002 and was nominated for a Best Digital Comic Eisner Award in 2005. The feature was included in St. Martin’s The Year’s Best Graphic Novels, Comics and Manga (2004 edition), and has subsequently garnered Manning and Harvey Award nominations, as well.

A re-release of the hardcover Athena Voltaire Compendium will mark the heroine’s Action Lab debut, followed by Athena Voltaire and the Volcano Goddess, an all-new 3-issue mini-series. Additional planned releases include a one-shot special and a prose collection.

The creative teams are available for interviews and promotional opportunities. For more information retailers can reach Vito Delsante at vdelsante@actionlabcomics.com.
Press and conventions you can reach Jamal Igle at jigle@actionlabcomics.com.

ABOUT ACTION LAB ENTERTAINMENT- Formed in 2010 with the purpose of pooling their collective talents into a single, powerful entity, the members of Action Lab Entertainment have countless years in multimedia publishing, design, and business.  Their first release, Fracture, was successfully funded through Kickstarter and since then they have continued their mission to produce high quality, genre-spanning entertainment.  Since its formation, the accolades for A.L.E continue to build on a daily basis.  Among its more popular titles are all ages material like the Eisner, Glyph, Shel Dorf Award nominated series PRINCELESS, NFL RUSHZONE (based on the Nickelodeon Television series), Jamal Igle’s MOLLY DANGER, Artist/ Writer Jeremy Dale’s hit series SKYWARD, and Gayle Middleton’s (My Little Pony, The Littlest Pet Shop) monstrously adorable VAMPLETS. Action Lab’s Mature Readers imprint ACTION LAB DANGER ZONE continues to push the envelope of comics entertainment with titles as varied as Charles Band’s PUPPET MASTER and Dan Mendoza’s over the top horror-comedy ZOMBIE TRAMP, THE FINAL PLAGUE and BO, PLUSHY GANGSTA.

C2E2 2016

It’s that time again. For me, convention season kicks off with C2E2 in Chicago and this year is no exception. It’s always a great show and I consider it to be my “home” show.

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This year, I’ll have my usual assortment of prints and original art, as well as previews of upcoming projects. And plenty of books and comics. I’ll have stacks of the Athena Voltaire Compendium.  With a purchase of the 240-page hardcover Compendium, you’ll get an exclusive C2E2 bookplate, an Athena Voltaire bookmark, and an Athena Voltaire button (while supplies last)—all for a mere $20!

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I’ll also have a C2E2 exclusive edition of Ghoul Scouts, my new comic from Action Lab (in comic shops June 8, 2016).

You can find me in Artist Alley, at table F2. Below is a map to help you find me. I hope to see you there!

March 18-20 2016
March 18-20 2016

Ghoul Scouts comes to Action Lab!

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Ghoul Scouts, an all-ages coming of age series in the vein of Monster Squad and Goonies, is coming to Action Lab Entertainment!

A coming of age series? Yeah, it’s like Stand by Me or the Sandlot—but with monsters!

Here’s the promo text:

Something stranger than usual haunts Full Moon Hollow, Paranormal Capital of the World. Adults either can’t see it, can’t remember it, or go crazy from it. So when zombies attack during the Hemlock County Jamboree, only a group of misfit scouts can save the Hollow. Be prepared. Be very prepared.

This is a series I’ve wanted to do for years—ever since my son was in Cub Scouts—he’s 15 now!

Ghoul Scouts is written by me, drawn by Mark Stegbauer, and colored by Jason Millet, with Chris Murrin on the edits, and Drew Browne on color assist.

The Harvey Awards

Ulp! I was doing pretty well updating this site, and then fell off the cliff after San Diego Comic-Con. That show really takes a lot out of a guy!

Since my last post, I was fortunate to be nominated for a few Harvey Awards. The ceremony is tomorrow night (September 26) at Baltimore Comic-Con. Given the other creators nominated in the categories I am, I don’t expect to win. But it’s truly an honor to be considered.

San Diego Comic-Con!

I’ll be back at San Diego Comic-Con—or, as it’s become known, Comic-Con International—from Wednesday, July 8 through Sunday, July 12! Here’s where you can find me:

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Zooming in on that map, you’ll see I’m in the Small Press Pavilion, booth M-14. As has been the case for the last 5 or 6 years, I’ll be tabling right next to my pal, writer-artist-publisher Jim Heffron (M-15, Lawdog Comics).  Across the aisle is another friend,  writer-publisher Mike Heffron (L-02, Arch Blue Comics). Shuttling between all three of our booths is our  compadre, writer-editor Chris Murrin.

Of course, I’ll have a bunch of copies of the Athena Voltaire Compendium with me—and plenty of AV bookmarks and buttons to give away with each purchase. Additionally, I’ll have exclusive convention-only ashcans of Undead or Alive with me.

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I’ll be bringing my new Athena Voltaire print, A Quiet Drink with the Archaeology Professor.

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And my usual assortment of prints—$10 each, 3 for $25, and 5 for $40.

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I’ll have three portfolios or original art, priced from $20 and up.

And I’m really hoping to see at least one Athena Voltaire cosplayer!

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