Since today is Flashback Friday, I was reminiscing about my early days as a comic creator. Of course, the first thing that came to mind was Deadlight Studios. It was 2006 and my first creator-owned mini-series, Dead Men Tell No Tales, had been published by Arcana Comics. It was a smash-hit, and I quickly gained a devoted (and awesomely crazy) following.
Around that time I was producing several webcomics, and I had signed one of them, Jim Reaper, to a deal at Silent Devil Productions (remember them?). I was also involved in several anthologies and had many comic pitches in production. I was thrilled to be making comics and I was anxious to reach out and connect with aspiring and established comic creators. But what I really wanted to do was to help newcomers break into the industry. If anyone had been through hell to get there, it was me. Surrounded by naysayers who were the closest to me, and living in a seriously messed up situation, I had done it. And I wanted people to know if they worked hard enough and didn’t give up, they could make it, too. What they needed, I knew, was positive people around them who would encourage and provide a bit of guidance–someone who had seen some success, had a critical eye, and would tell them the truth… even when it hurt.
Enter Deadlight Studios.
What a magical time that was! With my trusty partner in crime, Darrell Mogg, we created a visually stunning website with a lively and thriving community forum. A couple of times I even got my buddies, Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, to drop by and say hello!
My good friend, Amer Kokh, provided the art for the site together with friend and Dead Men Tell No Tales colorist, Michael DeVito. I never could have made it happen by myself. These friends caught my vision and helped me make it happen. It was a magical collaboration and I’ll never forget the experience of bringing it together and giving it life.
During the course of our conversation I brought up the idea of putting together a horror anthology titled Deadlight Theatre. The forums were abuzz and it was really a wonderful time as forum members put together teams and created several short horror stories for the anthology. Everyone was excited.
And then it was gone. People were shocked.
The truth of the matter is that I was being medically separated from the Army and at the same time, I assumed sole responsibility of my three young sons, so Deadlight Studios took a back seat to raising them. I was unable to keep it going and give my sons the care they needed, and as any single dad will tell you, they would have done the same thing. Some people understood, some people didn’t. But no one was more disappointed than I was.
Some people on the outside say it was a noble idea to create a community where comic creators help one other. I mean, there are others who have done something similar, but none of them were headed up by an industry insider. Some might say it was a dumb idea, that I should have concentrated on my own brand rather than worrying about other “schmucks” trying to break into the industry. Whichever camp you fall into is your prerogative. All I know is that I am still close friends with many fine people I met during the “Deadlight Years,” and I gained invaluable experience that I believe will ensure the success of Hocus Pocus Comics. So I will call it a WIN.
Rest in Peace, Deadlight Studios. You are gone but not forgotten.