Thursday, July 20, 2017

Graphic Novel Workshop: How to Make Great Comics

Graphic Novel Workshop Kenny Porter

The Graphic Novel Workshop put on by Avenue for the Arts in Grand Rapids was fantastic. I got to talk to people excited about making their own comics while talking to other creators about process, self-publishing and making good comics.

If you missed the workshop, here's a quick rundown of what we talked about.


Graphic Novel Workshop

The workshop was hosted by Avenue for the Arts in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They were kind enough to host the event in their space on Divison Avenue and the seats quickly filled up for the event. We had four panelists including myself, Jim Towe (who was nice enough to Skype in), Cody Flowers, and Lamont Arrington. Jackie Vega acted as the moderator and we answered questions that she prepared, as well as questions from the audience and each other.


Graphic Novel Workshop



It gave me a chance to talk about creating Barnstormers! with an audience and to share my experiences with running the Kickstarter campaign. There were copies of Barnstormers! circulated around the audience so that people could see the finished product and work that was put into the book.


Barnstormers Graphic Novel


I also talked about working on Yakuza for SEGA and what it's like to do licensed work. I talked about the difference between a graphic novel and a comic book (from my perspective it has to do with length and pacing) and how writers, artists, letterers, colorists, and editors are involved.


Yakuza SEGA Kenny Porter Comic
Cover for Chapter #3 of the YAKUZA adaptation for SEGA

Jim talked about working on Youngblood and how being a comic book artist is essentially like being an architect, cinematographer, and fashion designer all rolled into one. He expanded on getting to work with Rob Liefeld on one of his favorite superhero projects, as well as how to maximize your time as an artist struggling to break in or make your first comic or graphic novel.




Cody Flowers discussed his work on The Neighborhood Watch and talked about getting started as a writer/artist on his own work. He sells his comics through both Comixology and the Vault of Midnight store in Grand Rapids, Michigan.



How to Make Great Graphic Novels and Comics

Here are some quick tips and tricks culled from the answers in the panel. They covered tips on making comics for both writers and artists looking to start in the industry. These are very short descriptions about what we discussed on the panel, but you'll get the general idea on how to get started.

Writers


  • Study comic book storytelling by reading scripts, comics, and any and all fiction.
  • Talk to artists about writing for the page and visual storytelling.
  • Join a writer's group to trade scripts and get criticism for your work.
  • Start out by writing shorts (4-8 Pages) to get familiar with comic book storytelling.

Artists


  • Draw as often as possible--participate in fun events like Inktober to keep up and share your work.
  • Read books on anatomy and artwork to help hone your skills.
  • Bring your sample pages to editors at conventions and shows (great for feedback).
  • Talk to other artists to get criticism and improve your storytelling.

Extended Q&A

If you weren't able to attend the workshop--don't worry! You can comment below and I'll answer any questions you have about making comics, graphic novels, or running a Kickstarter campaign for your book.

Feel free to ask any burning questions you have and I'll get to them ASAP!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Barnstormers! The Graphic Novel Kickstarter

Barnstormers Graphic Novel


Barnstormers! is an original graphic novel that I created with artist Renny Castellani and a group of talented creators. With the success of the first volume and the Kickstarter, I wanted to share the journey of this comic with you and inspire others to create their own comics and put them out into the world.

This blog will give a brief story about the story, the Kickstarter, the people who made it all come together, and where you can find copies of Barnstormers! if you missed the campaign.

A Graphic Novel Years in the Making

Creating a graphic novel, comic, or even mini-comic is no easy task. It can take months or years for a talented team to bring a whole project from start to finish.

The story follows the adventures of blue-collar monster hunters Roscoe, Anna, and Clyde. Former pilots in WWI, the gang makes money as pilots that kill monsters for a quick buck. But when money gets tight, Roscoe makes a deal with a mysterious adventurer named Doc Lyon that will put him on easy street.

Barnstormers Graphic Novel Covers


Too bad that street's paved with bloodthirsty cult members, giant monsters, and iron soul-eating dragons.

What's the worst that could happen?

EVERYTHING.

Barnstormers! From Concept to Kickstarter

The story started as a five-page short comic for Comics Experience that just covered the prologue. I had been kicking around the idea of biplane pilots hunting giant monsters for years. Inspired by stories like Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer and the cartoon SWAT Kats, I wanted to make something that was fun and told a personal story.

Barnstormers Graphic Novel Concept 1
The first concept art for Barnstormers!

Once Renny and I met online and discussed the characters, it wasn't long before we decided to jump in and do a much larger story about responsibility and relationships.

But Renny and I didn't do it alone. We had lots of help. The book would have never been finished without Jim Towe (Youngblood), Gale Galligan (Babysitter's Club), Jon Alderink (Citizen Jack), Nic J. Shaw (The Fix), and Shawn Lee (TMNT). Each of them gave their talents to the project and we're eternally grateful.

All three issues of the story were completed over a year and a half and were set to be released. But when the initial publishing deal fell through, Barnstormers! was left completed, but without a way to get into reader's hands.

The Kickstarter Campaign

I decided to do a Kickstarter campaign after my friends urged me to put the book out myself. I wanted to make sure that I wasn't shooting too far in terms of goals or rewards, so I kept it fun and simple with a finished trade paperback and extra digital comics for people willing to support our dream project.



Barnstormers Graphic Novel Pages


The results blew me away.

The book was 100% funded on the second day of the campaign. People started donating left and right and sharing it through social media, comic book review websites, and it even got the attention of some podcasts.

Barnstormers Graphic Novel Kickstarter


Not only that, but Barnstormers! was featured as one of Kickstarter's "Projects We Love" after the first week!

After 30 days we had doubled the amount we were hoping for and were ready to ship the completed graphic novel out into reader's hands.

Shipping out Kickstarter Rewards

Shipping the rewards was something I knew I was going to do myself. I buckled down with some podcasts and a big cup of coffee to ship every book out over the next two weeks. I personally signed and packaged each copy and mailed them out from Grand Rapids into the world.

Barnstormers Graphic Novel


Each envelope I shipped made me step back and realize just how magical it is to take a book from concept to reality. Being able to flip through the pages and turn it over in your hands is a kind of magic that you can't get anywhere else.

Barnstormers Graphic Novel Shipping

Fans With Barnstormers!

No matter how I felt about the finished book, it was the reaction that made me the happiest. Since I've shipped out the book I've gotten pictures of readers with copies of Barnstormers! and messages about how much they enjoyed the story.

Barnstormers Graphic Novel Fan
Christoper Brown with his copy of Barnstormers!

Also, how much their kids enjoyed the story. While there is a bit of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll in the book, it was always intended as an "all readers" story. Meaning that it wasn't for adults, wasn't for kids, but for everyone.

Knowing that there's been such a positive reaction has put me on the fast track to doing another volume as soon as possible.

But what if you missed out on the Kickstarter and still want a copy?

In the words of Professor Farnsworth: Good news, everyone!

Now Available at The Vault of Midnight

The Vault of Midnight, my favorite comic book store, loved the book and agreed to carry it on their shelves. You can find the book at the Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, and Detroit locations across Michigan.

Barnstormers Vault of Midnight


We're working on getting a version created for Amazon, as well as an instant buy DRM-free PDF copy for people who want it for their iPads.

Final Thoughts

I want other creators to take this away from Barnstormers! -- make your comics and share them with the world. Don't wait for permission, don't wait for someone to do it for you, just get them out into the world and into reader's hands.

Barnstormers Complete Graphic Novel


It doesn't matter if it's a full-length graphic novel, a one-shot comic, or a mini-comic or collection, there's someone out there dying to read the comic you haven't created yet.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Boat - Pif Magazine

Stalked by a Speedboat

Photo from Pif Magazine

I woke up this morning to great news--my short story "The Boat" was published by Pif Magazine

This story follows a desperate man named P.J. as he's stalked by a floating speedboat and the realization that he's grown up without any real friends.

You can find the story here on the Pif Magazine website.


I tried a different writing style with this story and I'm happy that it paid off. I went a little bit shorter with my sentences and tried to channel Vonnegut and Hemingway while still adding my own flair to the story.

I hope everyone enjoys "The Boat" and please feel free to share it around!

Keep it Wizard,

Kenny Porter

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Humanity Has Declined - Future Brothers Podcast

A Different Kind of Post-Apocalyptic Story



Post-apocalyptic stories are a dime a dozen these days. Whether it's the zombie trope or the Mad Max kind of warrior scenario, every other piece of science fiction tackles the subgenre in about the same way.

And then there's Humanity Has Declined.

Humanity Has Declined - The Premise

A strange little anime that explores a future where the old humans are slowly declining and going extinct, while the new humans or "fairies" are taking over. Aside from being told out of order, the story goes on weird tangents that explore how humans get into self-destructive fads and behavior through culture, food, and society.

Here's a quick premise from Crunchyroll:

"Our human race has been slowly declining for centuries now. In many ways, the Earth already belongs to the Fairies. Life is relaxed and care... free? Thus begins a story that is a little strange and just a tiny bit absurd."

If you're still a little lost, don't worry, it's a strange and confusing series. But ultimately it's one that we both enjoyed quite a bit. The openning of the show is stronger than the ending, but the sheer absurdity captures a story that feels right at home with Douglas Adams or Kurt Vonnegut.

The Podcast






Thursday, February 9, 2017

My Reading Journal #2 - Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut

Slapstick


The Kurt Vonneguys Podcast is one of my new favorite things in the universe. Going back through one of my favorite writer's catalog makes me realize just how special their work was. I discovered Vonnegut after high school. I bought Slaughterhouse Five on a whim and read it from cover to cover. No book had grabbed me like that since I devoured The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for the first time.

Slapstick isn't a book of Vonnegut's that people talk about as much, but it might be one of my new favorites. It's got all of the absurdity of books like Sirens of Titan or Cat's Cradle with Vonnegut's unique take on family and relationships.

Also, there's a King of Michigan and erections based on gravity wells.

Part of me wonders why I don't write prose more often. Maybe it's because I think so visually that I just default to writing comics. I started a fiction blog last year and haven't been keeping up on it, but now I think I'm going to go back to it and write a little each day, even if it isn't any sort of long term project.

As always, thanks for the inspiration Mr. Vonnegut.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

My Comics Journal #1 - Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 1


I want to start keeping track and reflecting on all the comics that I read this year. I've already read about 40-50 trades in 2017, but I rarely get to talk about them or discuss them with anyone.

That's going to change.

I'm going to keep a record here on my blog of everything that I read. It's not really for anyone but myself, but I think it's important to keep a record of how a book affected me.

Hip Hop Family Tree was a delight to read. Ed Piskor put together a stunning historical comic that captures the essence of the art form and mixes it with one of the other unique American inventions -- comic books.

I'm going to have to sit down and flip through the book again for a refresher. It's really dense, so keeping track of everything that happened and all of the people it tracked was a bit of a task, but it's nothing a quick jaunt between the pages can't fix.

I'm excited to pick up the other volumes and check them out over the course of the year.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Grill Out - Pif Magazine

My short story "The Grill Out" has just been published by Pif Magazine! Read this piece of fiction for free and share your comments with me below.

The Grill Out - Kenny Porter (Pif Magazine).

Having a story published on the first day of 2017 feels great. I'm hoping to use this momentum to get more things published this year and to have more people read my work.

Please feel free to share the story and to comment on the Pif Magazine page as well to let them know if you enjoyed it. The more people who share the story, the more it will help!

Here's a sample image and preview:



Big thanks to my friend and editor Nikki for helping me edit and shape the story. I also have to thank my friends and family who read the piece and gave me critiques. And of course, thank you to the fine people at Pif Magazine for publishing my story.

Thanks for reading!