Stand and Breathe

A few years ago I learned that I have African blood coursing through my veins. I grew up thinking I was part Native American and Hispanic because that’s what my grandmother told our family. It wasn’t until after she died that I found out the truth. She had kept the black side of our heritage secret. I can’t pretend to know her reasons for hiding our ancestry, but I know for certain this revelation changed something in me. To discover that part of why I’m in this world is because black slaves somehow endured unimaginable hate, torture and oppression 400 years ago was a profoundly humbling and moving moment in my life.

Before I learned all this, I had of course, encountered racism many times as a brown man. I’ve had to sit through family gatherings listening to bigoted comments by people who don’t even realize they’re racist. I’ve been called brown bastard, monkey, spick, terrorist. When I was a kid I was attacked by a gang of 5 boys just for being brown (don’t worry, I beat the shit out of them) and I’ve even been called “nigger” once or twice. Most of the time people have no clue what nationality I am, so the racism I’ve experienced is a pale shade of what my African American family and friends go through on a daily basis just because of their skin color.

The constant profiling. The hate. The loss of breath.

As a human being, I’m outraged every time I hear about a black person being hurt or killed by racists, bad cops, or politicians and lawmakers who don’t care enough to improve this country. But as a man who literally owes my life to the black fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters who persevered through bigotry and torment four centuries ago, the ongoing injustices that African Americans suffer on a daily basis in my country absolutely breaks my heart.

If you’re white and your heart breaks too because you believe in equality, you need to speak out. It’s not about party or politics. This issue transcends that. It’s about people of color being able to walk down the street without having to worry about getting their faces smashed against the pavement. It’s about doing what’s right.

As a white person who cares, you have the power to bring about social change in this world. You are the key to stopping the horrors perpetrated against brown and black people since your ancestors decided that ripping them away from a continent and enslaving them was just.

Please say something. Please do something. Stand for equality and freedom. Stand for love.

#blacklivesmatter

You can connect with these organizations to help make a difference:

NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Black Futures Lab

National Black Justice Coalition

Movement For Black Lives

Center for Policing Equity

Campaign Zero

Art by Steve McNiven

 

ENDINGS

I signed off on the print files for the last issue of VORACIOUS. I’m going to very much miss spending time with all the characters in the series, but I could not be more proud of this final chapter. I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written.

VORACIOUS: Appetite for Destruction #5 hits comic shops on September 18. The Vol. 3 collected edition will be out on October 9.

VORACIOUS TOUR

VORACIOUS: Appetite for Destruction #1 will be in comic shops on WEDNESDAY! To celebrate the release of our new series, VORACIOUS artist Jason Muhr and I will be embarking on an end of spring tour. We’ll be signing issue #1 at three venues in Chicagoland and you can catch me solo at two comic book conventions. The schedule and details are below. Hope to see some of you out there!

Voracious_AFD_TourPoster

Signing at Chimera’s Comics
La Grange, IL
May 29, 11:00 am to 7:00 pm
VORACIOUS: Appetite for Destruction #1 release day signing with series artist, Jason Muhr!

Comic Con Revolution
Donald E. Stevens Convention Center, Rosemont, IL
June 1-2
Brand new show in Chicago! You can find me in Artist Alley, Table A9.

Signing at Homestead Meats
Evanston, IL
June 8, 1:00-3:00 PM
VORACIOUS: Appetite for Destruction #1 signing with Jason! The issue features a recipe by Homestead Meats owner Ehran Ostrreicher, so make sure to have him sign it too! Oh, and I hear there may be some dinosaur snacks for those who stop by…

Heroes Con
Charlotte Convention Center, Charlotte, NC
June 14-16
I’ll be in Artist Alley with my one of my very best friends, Dan Willner, who hand carves superheroes and other pop culture characters out of wood. Check out his amazing work here – Spandex Splinters!

Signing at Challengers Comics + Conversation
Chicago, IL
June 22, 11:00 am to 3:00 pm
Kick off your Summer with us at Challengers! Jason and I will be signing VORACIOUS: Appetite for Destruction #1 and #2. The first 10 people to buy either issue at the signing receive a free enamel pin! Plus, there will be a drawing to win an ultra-limited VORACIOUS cassette featuring an A-side commentary track on creating VAfD #1 and a B-side interview with us about the series.

20 Silk Cut

Until now I’ve successfully resisted the Funko Pops craze, but I was powerless against the magic of this limited edition John Constantine. Thank you, Comix Revolution. Looks dangerously cute on the Hellblazer shelf. 🔥🔥🔥

Goodnight, Gord

Gord

My heart breaks today.

The Tragically Hip has long been a favorite band of mine since the early 90s when my Uncle Michael introduced me to them with the song, “Blow at High Dough.” Ever since that moment I’ve been mystified by the raw, poetic storytelling of Gord Downie. He was one of the very best lyricists in the history of rock ‘n roll, painting gorgeous vistas of remote Canadian towns, emperor penguins, mysterious hockey player disappearances and true nautical disasters with his words. And on stage, he was one of the most engaging, theatrical performers I’ve ever seen, with a voice like no one else.

But Gord also transcended entertainment. He showed the world what courage looks like in the face of adversity when he went on tour after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. And he spent his life spotlighting social injustices, like the long-supressed mistreatment of Indigenous children and families by the residential school system in Canada.

In his home country, Gord occupied a place of honor that doesn’t have a close parallel in the United States. He was and always will be, a philosopher poet-king who represented Canada in ways no one else could, illuminating its triumphs, as well as its dark corners with grace. Growing up in Central NY, just a couple hours from our Northern neighbors, I was lucky to be in the splash zone of Hip adulation. They often played Buffalo and Syracuse, so I got the chance to see them live many times. Every single time I did, I walked away thinking I’d seen the best concert in my life. Watching Gord perform his poetry on stage made me feel connected to music, to community and to life in ways few artists ever have. Fully completely.

Goodnight, Gord. Thank you for activism, your music, your beautiful words. You will be very much missed.

Goodnight Gord

Illustration by Jeff Lemire

FINAL FEEDING

Hi everyone. Been a while since I posted, so I thought I’d give you an update. VORACIOUS: Feeding Time is about to wrap up with issue #5 next week! Very excited for the issue to hit shops for a number of reasons.  If you’re a Maribel fan, issue #5 is going to make you happy. The issue features a pretty huge reveal about her past and details her earliest history with Tony.  The issue also features a limited edition variant cover by me! I dusted off my drawing pens after 20 years and illustrated young Maribel. And skulls! It took me a long time to get it right, but it was something I was really motivated to do. I love the story and the characters so much that I was compelled to do something extra special. Thankfully Andrei’s amazing colors made my art look halfway decent.

STL039278      Print

VORACIOUS: Feeding Time #5 also marks the completion of my second ever comic book miniseries. That’s just weird for me to say.  Being a comic writer still feels like a bit of a dream and I have no idea if that’s ever going to go away.  I hope it never does.

This month you can help us celebrate the completion of miniseries 2 at C2E2 in Chicago, April 21-23. I’ll be there with VORACIOUS artist Jason Muhr and we’ll have lots of great VORACIOUS stuff. We’ll have the Vol. 1 TPB, a limited number of 1-4 sets from the first series, all the Feeding Time issues and variants, prints, shirts, free buttons, Jason’s sketchbook and 5 (and only 5) issues of Cretaceous #1, the very first attempt at VORACIOUS that we used to pitch publishers. You can find us at Table R16 with writer Ben Kahn (Shaman). Hope to see you there!

COMICS ALLIANCE NAMES VORACIOUS ONE OF THE BEST NEW SERIES OF 2016!

So this happened yesterday! The whole team is incredibly honored to make this Best New Series list. VORACIOUS is by far the least known and most indie book selected. It’s an amazing feeling to know that our work and passion on the series is getting noticed. We’re in some truly remarkable company with the other 5 selections. Excited. Humbled. Grateful. Thank you, Comics Alliance!

IT’S FEEDING TIME!

VORACIOUS returns this week (Dec. 7) with VORACIOUS: Feeding Time #1 (of 5)! This arc takes our story in a new direction, following the big twist ending in VORACIOUS #4.

The issue features 2 cover designs. The regular version by my buddy and series artist Jason Muhr, and a limited edition, wraparound Smiths tribute cover by Wuvabale Oaf creator Ed Luce. Ed, Jason and I designed it together to look just like a cassette insert, which I’ve never seen done in comics before.

We’ve already started to receive some amazing reviews for the new issue. Check out these advance critiques:

9.5/10 “A comic with only one, albeit pretty major, downside: the long wait to the second issue.”
-GraphicPolicy.com Review

Incredible story with just as incredible illustration. This latest issue goes to prove we knew a good thing when we saw it.”
-Sci-Clops.com Review

I will be signing copies of VORACIOUS: Feeding Time #1 with Jason at comic shops here in Chicago to celebrate the release. Here’s a rundown of where we’ll be appearing in the next couple weeks:

December 7, 2016
Graham Crackers Comics
77 E Madison St
Chicago, Illinois
Signing 12-2 PM
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December 7, 2016
CHALLENGERS Comics + Conversation
1845 N Western Ave
Chicago, Illinois
Signing 5-7 PM
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December 11, 2016
The Lazarus Pit Comics
47 Highwood Ave
Highwood, Illinois
Signing 1-4 PM
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December 14, 2016
AlleyCat Comics
5304 N Clark St, Rear
Chicago, Illinois
Signing 5-8 PM

In January Jason and I will be hitting the road to sign at shops in surrounding states, and we are also starting to fill our schedule with conventions. Take a look at the FIND section of my website for all the appearances currently scheduled for 2017. I will update the calendar as we solidify events. We’re hitting the West coast in July and hopefully the East coast in the Fall. VORACIOUS can no longer be contained!

Hope you enjoy VORACIOUS: Feeding Time #1. Jason and I could not be more proud of the book.