ZEGAS #2 Reviewed & In Comic Shops

Zegas #2 made its debut recently… and it’s been reviewed!

Bleeding Cool
Warren Peace

You can also get a copy of both issues at these fine comic shops:

Bergen Street Comics (Brooklyn, NY)
Desert Island (Brooklyn, NY)
Jim Hanley’s Universe (NY,NY)
Book Court (Brooklyn, NY)
Quimby’s Bookstore (Chicago, IL)
Meltdown Comics (Los Angeles, CA)
Comix Experience (San Francisco,CA)
Flying Colors (Concord,CA)
Star Clipper (St. Louis, MA)
Cosmic Monkey Comics (Portland, OR)

Or you can always get it directly from me if you’d like.

We all had a great time at the Stumptown Comics Fest last week. It was too short a visit in Portland, but we hope to visit sooner than later. Here are a bunch of photos from the Fest via Comics Alliance (thx, Caleb!), and here are a couple more for good measure.

Oh, and Zegas is also available at the Multnomah County Library in Oregon! It’s cool to think of those comics being checked out… do so if you’re in the area!

"ZEGAS" Discussion & Analysis

Panel Über Alles

With Zegas #2 out from the printer and into the world, I wanted to take a closer look at the super panel breakdown, which I use all throughout the issue.

You’ll recognize the trick, it’s simply one larger image broken down into pieces OR one larger image with characters moving within it . I wanted to take advantage of a double page spread to choreograph Emily Zegas’ body language  through her several moods and locales. The tricky part was making sure the eye was led exactly where it should go. Turns out the heavy lifting is done by the words, the conversations, the thought balloons. The flow goes down the panel , then up the next, then back down, etc.

You can call these my “Marcos Martin” pages. I won’t deny it, he’s been an influence for a while and I’m sure sequences like this were around at the time I was originally cooking my pages up:

Marcos has made a career of leaving his peers in the dust. He doesn’t toy with a layout, he commands it, and no one in contemporary adventure comics comes close to achieving what he achieves on a regular basis. The scene up there is just one big room in one panel, also used in a double page spread. We follow Spider-Man, our eyes being led to the right then back to the left, punctuated by inset panels.


Another main influence on this approach is Chris Ware, another storytelling master who occasionally uses the panels to reflect different seasons, eras, or time signatures. This Big Tex page does it all.

It’s no secret that Ware had been influenced by Richard McGuire and his seminal story “Here”, from 1989…

… but the real godfather of the page-as-map is Frank King and his Gasoline Alley strip.

[Matt Seneca wrote a great piece on King over at his recently defunct column Your Wednesday Sequence. Seneca also tackled the same Marcos Martin scene I was talking about.]


Going over the overblown staging in these pages reminds me of the smaller examples, the panels that are broken into  fragments in order to delay time, build tension, or reveal story details. In We3, Frank Quitely took a Grant Morrison story and took it into visually innovative territory. This modest sequence, however, is nicely paced.

Was it a callback to Harvey Kurtzman, that scene? I’d like to think so. Kurtzman was a true virtuoso of all of these narrative tics and bumps, his war comics being prime vehicles for strong and smart material. These three panels are works of beauty, captions be damned.

This batch, courtesy of Jim Steranko, works well enough but isn’t quite necessary. The image’s story does progress, and the gutter breaks do make the eye start and stop. Steranko was more than capable of managing subtlety,  and this scene certainly  tries to build up a sense of weight, but it still feels like a faint attempt.

Same here (Steranko again). As if mid-air speech wasn’t hard enough to swallow, the gutter breaks seem to be used as mere window dressing. Maybe it was to show that more… panels had been drawn? Steranko, after all, was once nearly denied payment for writing a silent page. Either way, the balance of dialogue and movement can make or break a moment; this one’s a dud.

Just one more dud. Actually, the panel break would’ve been useful if the image actually revealed something, maybe the very thing that’s being explained. I gotta admit, this is a pretty funny out of context scene, but that may have something to do with those tears. Deluxe Format tears.

Here’s a pretty simple but effective Frank Miller shot…

… and here’s another one that justifies the breakdown treatment in a different way. The gutters stagger the eyes one panel at a time while the monologue unravels at its own pace. It’s confident work, and in Miller’s pre-Sin City comics, this type of rhythm is dominant.

Oh, and punchlines. They’re good reasons to break up a panel. Julie Doucet knows the score.


Back to the page as a setting, Gianni De Luca did some incredible, jaw dropping sequences in his time. As far as I can tell, his work was serialized in Il Giornalino. This il Commissario SPADA page is from 1979…

… but his most revered work continues to be his adaptation of Hamlet. Here’s a two page spread from Amleto, from 1976 (the entire story is made up of double page spreads, with a usual change in location per page turn). Click on it and bask in its glory.

I can’t help but think of this John Romita Jr. two pager, perhaps his most imaginative and ambitious sequence yet… and it’s only a walking figure. Such simplicity!

So there you go, a few drops of inspiration on how to stretch and maximize the real estate within an image, a panel, or a page or two. I’m not sure whether the reader should be made aware of such mechanisms, but some of these pages are too bombastic to ignore or be taken passively.

I should shut my yap. Let the work speak for itself and all that, right? Case in point, click away:


Buy Zegas #2 online or directly from me this upcoming weekend, in case you find yourself in Portland’s own comic-fest Stumptown!


UPDATE: Criminally Left Out

Thanks to Marc Sobel for reminding me of this great scene by Jaime Hernandez. 

I don’t recall Jaime using this method very often but when he does, it is spot on (from Love & Rockets #29, “Flies on the Ceiling“, 1989). Calling him a master storyteller isn’t enough, so let’s just agree that the guy’s a genius. Thanks for the reminder, Marc!




It’s finally DONE! After 30 days of biting my nails, the results came in. Y’see, for the month of January, I set up a crowd funding campaign via RocketHub to help make ZEGAS #2 happen. Just a few hours ago it was finalized: we raised enough money to help print up more copies than I projected… and YOU are responsible! I knew we’d pull through. I had faith in us.

Major thanks to every single one of you who donated. You absolutely made this thing happen, and your interest in my stuff is not something I take for granted. Seriously, thank you.

Those of you that went out of your way to mention and support the project deserve a shout out. As do the hosts of comics podcast Hideous Energy (as well as Super Cute co-creators), who went above and beyond in reviewing ZEGAS #1 and promoting the funding of #2. Listen to it here. Hell, try it here, too.

Alec Berry ran a conversation he and I typed one afternoon. I went off on a few rants but Alec was kind enough to nix the worst of it. If it doesn’t involve Jim Aparo, I probably shouldn’t talk about it to begin with. File under Interview over at Spandexless.

RocketHub’s own blog featured a brief interview with me as well.

Other nods: MTV Geek mentioned the project early on. ZEGAS #2 news caught fire and spread over to Death To The Universe & The Comics Reporter & The Comics Beat.

I can’t express my gratitude enough to those that linked, liked, poked, retweeted, mentioned, and basically spread the word. It was a fine line for me to dance across for a month, genuinely reaching out to folks while trying not to oversaturate my presence. But you couldn’t play it too cool for school, boy, because the plea had already been put out there. It was all simple, direct, and based on appreciation from both sides of the tin cup and I’m quite glad I did it.

The comic will be off to the printer in a matter of days and I cannot wait for you to see it.

Oh, and here’s the video I helped make for the fundraiser campaign. Moses T. Krikey put it all together into a slickly edited web commercial while Erik Mallo should be held responsible for the music.


This Spring!

Look for it!



Z E G A S #2 – the RocketHub Fundraiser Project

I’ve started a fundraising campaign to get Zegas Number Two printed! The place is RocketHub, and I’m excited to get the ball rolling. I even made a cool video clip/animation for it.

Check out the video and preview art for Zegas Number Two over here at RocketHub!

The funding covers the printing cost, basically. The artwork itself is nearly done, so what you’re paying for is the comic itself (call it a pre-order). I’m also offering some prints, t-shirts, and original art in case you wanna donate a little bit more.

Since I kept the print run to the first Zegas issue really, really small, I mostly promoted it locally while trying to hit up as many comics shops across the country as I could (having it available through Etsy helped a lot, too). I don’t go through a distributor; I package & ship it all myself. Zegas was and IS print only, so no digital distribution for me, either (the comic works better that way). Therefore, its success relies on a grassroots, word-of-mouth approach. I’m trying to make this self publishing thing happen so Zegas could exist. No matter what, it’s still gotta go up against every other book, small press or not, so this is paying for its fighting chance.

Spread the word! Even if you can’t donate at this moment, I’d appreciate the word getting out any way possible!

Z E G A S Number Two… let’s make this happen, friends.


"ZEGAS" Los Press

ZEGAS #1: More Links, Pics, and Reviews

More reviews coming in! L. Nichols over at the Comix Cube gave Zegas #1 a great aesthetic breakdown, as did Beth Scorzato over at the new criticism hub Spandexless. They both approached the comic from their own personal and refreshing standpoints but came to the same conclusion: they liked Zegas. As did comix champ Jeff Newelt, who highly ranked our first issue in Heeb’s Best of 5771. I’m in good company in that there list.

Speaking of good company, Seth Hurley has a nice stack of comics going on here.

Brian Warmoth decided to take it out in public, which is just as flattering.

Being in the middle of creating the next issue right now is pretty darn exciting, I have to admit.

Goal’s to release Zegas #2 early ’12 so I better get back to work, but not before sharing this.

Annalemma gave a nod to Cousin Corrine’s Reminder #3. Amongst the cartoonists featured in its Comix Block section is I, my contribution, shown above.

Okay, now back to work for real.


"ZEGAS" All About Process Los Press

Zegas #1: Process and Props

The response to Zegas #1 has been remarkably positive from all sorts of pockets of the comics world! A reminder: this self-published effort contains all-new material that cannot and will not be seen online in its entirety. I can hardly promise that it will be collected into trade form, either. This comic is specifically designed to be read page to page as a physical object, ideally on an issue-by-issue basis. Izzat cool witchu?

At the moment, it can be purchased from me through Etsy (many thanks to those of you who have done so) or support your local comic book shop by purchasing it through them, most notably Bergen Street Comics, Desert Island, Jim Hanley’s Universe, Big Planet Comics, Time Warp, Floating World, and Quimby’s. You can also find it in book stores such as BookCourt, P.S. Bookstore, and St. Mark’s Bookshop.


Zegas #1 was recently reviewed by Matthew J. Brady for his Warren Peace Sings the Blues blog. It’s always a pleasure to read his comics reviews and a thrill to carry a combative dialogue through message threads with him. Keep in mind that this is not the same Matt from Newsarama; this one likes cats.

Another review was by Matt Seneca for The Comics Journal. I’ve followed Matt’s comic, “Affected”, for a while and have enjoyed its formal boldness. Plus, it’s fun as fuck. Whether it be through Death to the Universe, Your Wednesday Sequence, or his Deathcast, Matt’s critical observations always cut straight to the bone and are worth your time.

Pop Dose just put up this review of Zegas #1 in Johnny Bacardi’s column, Confessions of a Comics Shop Junkie. Mr. Bacardi and I go way back, in that this interview of mine with Trevor Von Eeden wouldn’t have been possible without his help. It was through his Thriller website that I met Johnny, and I’ve been following his blog since. Do the same.


Since I’m a fan of the comics-making process, I thought I’d share a few brief examples of how I worked on certain aspects of Zegas #1. The way I make a comic page changes all the time, but below are the most typical steps I take.

This issue contained a larger cast than I’m used to handling. I’ve gotten used to drawing the main characters, Emily & Boston, but I wasn’t sure how these other folks were gonna look. Thankfully, it didn’t take a slew of study sheets to nail them down.

One panel, three samples: pencil, ink, and color. All by hand.

Another character sketch.

I knew I had to carefully stage this following splash page. Lots going on here, but the main concern was clearly portraying a sense of movement through a specific space. I liked the rough layout and tried to remain faithful to its foundation.

Writing comics has got to be one of the most difficult things I do throughout this entire process. Takes me forever, too. I write and re-write and edit the results while trying not to kill any initial spark they may have had. I’d hate to snuff out the spontaneity of any given scene, so I try not to overwork it.

As far as a “script” goes, I find that scribbling on any ol’ sheet of paper yields better results than typing. I can barely get a sense of how a comic will read any time I read a comic script, by anyone. This is how I’m most comfortable.

Here are a couple of layouts.

“Plum” is the only story that has portions of digital coloring. See those dot patterns down there? No, not the black dots, those are actual sticker sheets of Zip-A-Tone (running low, should scan). I mean the red and orange parts. Those are digital. It was fun to do, but I’d hate to color an entire comic like that. You start getting really hateful towards the end and you wish all color would disappear from the world. Maybe that’s just me.

That’s the word on the first issue. The second issue is coming along and looking great. I’m not even that distracted by the sudden rush of accomplishment and adoration. Actually, I can’t work fast enough to get more Zegas issues out there, and I have all of you to thank.


"ZEGAS" Sometimes I Like Stuff

Bergen St. Signing & Baltimore Comicon

This past Friday night was the official release party for Zegas #1 at Bergen Street Comics and there’s no question as to how it went down. It was a blast.

Tom & Amy Adams, Tucker, Cav, and Matt all helped this night move along beautifully. I owe them a great deal for putting together such a wonderful night and for displaying a lot of my original art. The presentation is top notch, and I’m really flattered that they went all out for this. On my way to the store that night, boxes full of comics in tow, the sky decided to open up over Brooklyn. It poured miserably, but that didn’t stop folks from coming out! Saw some old friends, made some new ones, signed some books, talked some shop. It was fantastic. Photos can be seen here, and to each and every one who attended, I thank you for doing so and hope you like the comic.

We stayed a bit later than usual, but we were looking at making the drive to Baltimore for the convention mere hours after the signing was over.

"ZEGAS" Comics I Make

ZEGAS #1 is coming!

I’m proud to announce that Zegas #1 is making its debut this August! I’ll let the official release date be known as soon as I know myself. I’ve started taking the first few steps toward building a self-publishing empire, y’see, and the first thing out the gate is this limited edition, full color, 32 page, magazine size premiere issue of Zegas with print exclusive new material!

Some of you may be familiar with the Zegas characters, Emily and Boston, from their previous anthology appearances. This time, print is the preferred mode of presentation and, again, it’s all new material that will remain offline. This is the precise direction Zegas was always intended to go in, specifically in the single issue format. Meaning, each issue will feature self contained stories while expanding the overall structure. Other non-related stories will be subsequently added, which will essentially make Zegas a one-man anthology driven by the potential of the comics form and the absolute freedom to execute them. All that through the intimate and unique, yet casual delivery system of a physical, pulpy comic.

In light of all this, a celebration is in order!

To celebrate the occasion, Brooklyn’s own Bergen Street Comics will be hosting the official Zegas #1 release party on Friday, August 19th! They’re one of my favorite shops and I suspect most of you will be back from your Caribbean Cruise by then, so please join the festivities!

The very next day I’ll be at the Baltimore Comic-Con, sitting and signing copies for the remainder of the weekend while suppressing the urge to rifle through back issue bins. It’ll be a packed weekend, for sure, and I look forward to seeing you all!

There’s no other way to put it: I can’t wait for you to see this. I’ve been waiting to release Zegas in this exact format, with this exact approach for quite a long time. Every imaginable step of the way has been exciting and as a result, I’ve never been more proud.


"ZEGAS" Art & Illustration

Zegas Commissions & the Black Terror

These here pieces are a few recent commissions I did of my Zegas characters, Emily & Boston. It’s weird drawing commissions because there’s little room for mistakes. Zero room, actually, and so I was super careful in the inking and hand coloring. Considering how messy I can be sometimes, I’m proud at how clean they turned out!

On the flip side, I’ve been toying around with digital coloring these past few weeks, and who better to practice on than the Black Terror? You may have seen this guy around, he’s one of those public domain Golden Age properties. It’s basically the Punisher with a cape… how could I not draw that? The drawing itself is in ink and his gray/yellow suit is hand colored, the rest is digital. Although it looks like the simplest, most rudimentary set of choices, what you see here is me trying to figure this whole coloring thing out.

It was fun, but I don’t know if I’d like to do an entire comic like that. It would take forever. For now, I’ll try to stick to what I know.

"ZEGAS" Los Press


My comic ZEGAS is being featured over at MTV GEEK! ZEGAS is the first in line of many other Act-i-vate comics to be showcased over there. Additionally, my art adorned the MTV GEEK site for these couple of weeks (art details shown above and below). Anyway, the comic looks really great and is easy to navigate (via Comixology). Forgive my naive geeking out over the fullscreen option, but the pages look nicer than I anticipated so I’m pretty taken with them.

MTV has split the ZEGAS story “Birthday” into three installments: One, Two, and Three.

Also of possible interest, read this accompanying interview I did which is full of laffs and yuk.

On top of all this, yet another ZEGAS story has been posted over at ARTHUR MAGAZINE! The story perfectly fits the “sidescreen” format and I really appreciate them having it aboard. I’ve been a longtime fan of the magazine, so this is a real treat for me!