Memories of Deadlight Studios

 

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Dead Men Tell No Tales #1 Cover by Ben Templesmith

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.

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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.

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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.

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-Dwight

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Kickstarter Success and More Poe-centric Goodness!

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What an incredible end to an epic journey! When our Kickstarter campaign for The Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe Kickstarter-Exclusive print edition #1 launched on July 30th, we could not have dreamed that we would find our project more than 500% funded when all was said and done. While we were quite surprised to find our project fully funded within 30 hours of launch, we had no idea that our awesome supporters would obliterate all of our expectations, pushing us to create new stretch goals to accommodate the overwhelming outpouring of support. It was crazy! I want to thank my dear friends, David Hartman, Juan Ferreyra, and Dave Youkovich, for coming through with such a crazy tight deadline despite being completely swamped with work. I love you guys, and I owe you big time!

And here we are… 528% funded! The next month will see us sending PDFs to our supporters, files to the printer, getting art prints made, and ordering more Poe t-shirts than we ever dreamed we’d sell! And we couldn’t be happier to do it! Seriously, we can’t thank you enough!

But the good news doesn’t stop there! Today on ComiXology and Kindle, the digital-first copy of The Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe #3 drops, and we make a special announcement over on Line Webtoon for our weekly Terra Somnium (the companion book to IVOEAP) update! And we really want to thank all of our subscribers on Line Webtoon as well.  It is going to get a lot crazier in the Land of Dreams, so check it out, subscribe, rate it, and help us spread the word.

Here are the links for the digital-first copy of The Imaginary Voyages of EAP #3:

COMIXOLOGY

KINDLE [Still “Publishing” 46+ hours later. Will update when link goes live.]

And here is the link to Terra Somnium:

READ FROM THE BEGINNING HERE! 

We truly appreciate each and every one of you, and we are so thankful you’ve decided to join us on this incredible journey. It’s only just begun!

Rebecca and Dwight

More Press for Poe (and Me)

Happy Friday, friends! We made it!

Before you start what I hope is an amazing weekend, I have a couple things to share with you…

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Please check out my new interview with Nicole D’Andria of Comic Frontline. Nicole asked some excellent questions and I gave, what I hope, are excellent answers.

READ IT HERE!

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John McGuire of Tessera had some kind words to say about our Little Poe Kickstarter for his “Steampunk Friday” post! You can read that:

RIGHT HERE! 

Have a great weekend, friends! I hope you will be safe and happy, surrounded by the ones you love.

-Dwight

Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe Fan Art!

Hi, Friends!

Our Kickstarter campaign for the exclusive printed edition for The Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe #1 is going strong thanks to you! We met our initial funding goal in the first 30 hours (!), but now we are working towards unlocking the next stretch goal of 3k so we will be able to include Dave Youkovich’s incredible 3-page story. If you have already pledged, we thank you so very much– if not, please consider pledging so we will be able to include this fantastic additional content. I’ll be sharing some art from the story in the coming days and let me tell you…it is magnificent. Definitely something you’ll want to see in the book! Dave illustrated a cover for issue 3, so he’s no stranger to this property. The cover image hasn’t been released yet, but here’s a little teaser just for you…

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One of the most delightful things that can happen to a creator, in my opinion, is to see your beloved characters come to life through fan art. The page I have included here is from talented artist, Pablo Fernandez! I love it!

Something tells me Pablo and I will be collaborating very soon…

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–  Dwight

Elevator Issue 3 Gets Glowing Review!

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We’re going to just let this review speak for itself:

I’ve been very vocal about the first two comic book titles from Hocus Pocus Comics. I expected the new “director’s cut” of Edgar Allan Poo to be great because I thought the book was brilliant when I read it the first time around. I certainly haven’t been disappointed in the relaunch and love not only the changes that have been made to the story but the spectacular new artwork as well. When it comes to their other new book Elevator, it really is an extremely well done horror comic. The first issue was like a Porsche. You opened the book and it went from zero to a hundred pretty quick. But issue two was like taking your Porsche onto the Autobahn, gunning it to two hundred miles per hour, and just enjoying the ride. It really was mind-blowing.

Elevator #3 seems to have taken the poor kids who are stuck in hell and taken their destiny right out of their own hands. With their friend Matt gone, Richard and Edward aren’t so much circumventing hell as following this mystery angel who is guiding them from place to place. It’s kind of like you are at Disney World and get on the It’s A Small World ride. You are there on the boat, you can’t get off, and you’re stuck watching everything around you. At this point it is like that for Richard and Edward except, well, they are in hell.

Now the brothers actually get to learn something big about their past while in hell that I won’t describe in a review as it is way too spoilerish. I will say that what they learn helps them understand their past including things about their treacherous father (who is still roaming around hell looking for his kids). It’s a sad moment for the two boys. I have a feeling that this revelation will factor in greatly to the final issue.

This is coupled with another plot point that I would love to spoil but this reveal is way too big. Back on Earth, at the Helton Inn, that old creepy dude who lured the kids into the elevator to hell is busy making preparations. Basically people will be drawn to the inn, who he’ll put in the elevator, who will then be stuck in hell. Not the best place to spend the weekend…especially if there is a Holiday Inn down the street. We see old creepy dude finalizing his plans and then the big reveal happens on who he really is. Again – too big of a reveal to spoil it in this review. But it really will make you say, “Ooooooohhhhhhh.”

So most of the issue is the characters not really in control of what they are doing with a good bit of exposition here and there. I guess as issue two moved at such an incredible pace writer Dwight MacPherson needed to fit in more of the story somewhere. That somewhere is issue three. As next issue is the last issue of this miniseries I’m sure the explanation needed to come now so we can all fully enjoy the third act.

Because of this Elevator #3 is slightly disappointing. Now that doesn’t take away how amazing this book is. This miniseries has been outstanding. Even this issue is outstanding. It’s only disappointing because it slightly feels that the exposition had to be pushed in before the fourth issue hit. Now you are absolutely glad to know what you know once you read this issue. But my solution? Make the miniseries longer. I don’t know about everyone else but I would have certainly enjoyed reading five issues instead of four.

All in all this miniseries has been fantastic. The writing is just incredible and artist Randy Valiente does a stunning job bringing this book to life. The black and white artwork is particularly haunting so making the decision not to color this book was such the perfect call. Many of the panels have no background. It’s just white. This in no way takes away from hell. Rather it speaks to how bleak hell really is. You don’t need fire and brimstone to make hell scary. The creatures that inhabit it and the grim, desolate landscape really speaks volumes. I truly applaud this decision.

If you aren’t reading Elevator you should immediately jump on. It truly is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I’m fairly certain that the last issue of this book will completely blow everyone away and I truly can’t wait to see where this journey ultimately takes us.

RANK: A-

Click here to read our reviews of Elevator #1 and #2http://2guys1review.com/?s=elevator

Edgar Allan Poe Exclusive Kickstarter Printed Edition is 194% Funded!

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Wow! You guys are knocking it out of the park with your support! We are over the moon about the response to our campaign! As soon as we hit our next stretch goal of $2,000, we will be adding an Irving the Rat solo story that has never been seen before as bonus content! Thank you again so much for your support and if you have not pledged yet, you can HERE

Rebecca and Dwight

Our Edgar Allan Poe Exclusive Kickstarter Campaign Funds in 30 hours!

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Wow! We launched our campaign for the exclusive print edition of The Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe on Monday and today, it is not only fully funded, but it continues to gain support! We can’t thank our supporters enough for believing in us and our story, which we feel is very special!

We are not stopping there–we will be posting stretch goals to keep this journey going. Please continue to spread the word and again, thank you so very much! If you have not pledged yet, you can HERE

Dwight and Rebecca

Lots of Edgar Allan Poe Goodness!

Thumb_Ep_20Good morning, friends! I just wanted to drop a quick note to say hello and let you know that I am up to my eyeballs in awesomeness that I am dying to share with you. As soon as I can, you can rest assured that I won’t hold back!

If you have not already done so, please drop by Line Webtoon and check out the brand-new page of Terra Somnium by myself and artist, Louise Fitzgerald. We are nearing the end of the first chapter, and things have gotten extremely tense!

CLICK HERE TO VIEW

teaser_01In case you missed the big news, we will be launching a campaign for a Kickstarter-exclusive special PRINTED edition of The Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe #1 on July 31st! We are absolutely thrilled! We get asked quite often about print copies of our books, so this will give us the opportunity to get our first printed book into our lovely, intelligent (shall I keep going?), attractive viewers’ hands (good enough?). So please, mark your calendars and plan to pledge. We will need to hit it fast and hard at the jump in order to reach our goal. We’ll also be sharing never-before-seen Poe-related art, videos, and other goodies with those who pledge along the way, so it’s going to be exciting!

As always, I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you how much we appreciate the support and encouragement we receive from you every day. Sometimes it feels like a battle that would be easier to avoid or abandon, but YOU are always there with a word of encouragement, a share, a like, or an e-mail that steels our courage and presses us to redouble our efforts. We truly appreciate it. And to our patrons: you all are the best. We literally could not do this without you. If you have not yet become a patron, you can do that RIGHT HERE. $1 a month or $100, it all helps, and it all goes toward making comics. Patreon is being jerky right now, but as soon as it lets me, I’ll be sharing a top secret peek at the cover for I-Team #1 with our patrons, so now is a wonderful time to join us!

-Dwight

Book Review: Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

meddling_kidsI was pleasantly surprised when I was contacted by Michael Goldsmith of DoubleDay Books requesting a book review of a new Lovecraftian fiction book by author, Edgar Cantero. Oh, I’ve written a few comic book reviews in the past and a book review for International Justice Mission, but that was the extent of my reviewing creds, and, as I said, it was several years ago.  In the end I decided that, hey, why not? I love to read, and I count Lovecraft as one of my biggest writing influences. So much so that I co-wrote the young Howard Lovecraft Trilogy with my good buddy, Bruce Brown, and I have an original Lovecraftian mini-series in the works with brilliant artist, Dave Youkovich.  Not to mention a few Lovecraftian short stories, an adaptation of Lovecraft’s HE for SelfMadeHero, and several unsuccessful pitches I’ve written over the years.

So it was decided.

In the years since Howard Phillips Lovecraft’s life, Lovecraftian fiction has become a popular horror subgenre which stresses cosmic, unknowable terrors and mankind’s hopelessness and helplessness to combat–or even fully comprehend–them. At the core, it is the fear of the unknown that drives the stories in this subgenre, and that is something we can all relate to, whether we are fans of science-fiction, or horror, or neither. It is from this commonality that brilliant screenwriter, Rod Serling (also a big influence on my work), penned some of his most poignant and terrifying episodes of The Twilight Zone. And Serling is only one in a long line of authors who have played upon this instantly relatable theme.

But I digress.

Imagine, if you will, the Scooby-Doo Gang in a Lovecraftian universe. As young people, the gang solved mysteries and unmasked bad guys–they were the heroes–but, during the course of their final caper they inadvertently brushed paths with unspeakable cosmic horror. It is an oppressive evil that haunts their dreams, poisons their lives, and they ultimately became scared, irreparably (?) damaged adults. Ultimately, these fractured adults decide to team up one last time and face the horror head on. This is Meddling Kids.

Does this sound similar to the synopsis of Stephen King‘s It to you? Indeed. Cantero isn’t breaking any new ground here, but what he does is tell an entertaining story that will have you furiously turning pages until you reach the bitter end. And he does so with great panache and skill. Cantero is obviously a master wordsmith who tips his hand every now and then, but never comes off as an exhibitionist. Snappy dialogue, vivid descriptions, quirky characters, and the building sense of dread will keep you enthralled and leave you wanting more. And for fans of Lovecraft’s work, you will find just enough that is familiar, but not so much that it feels overstated or cliché. As I said, this Cantero fellow knows what he is doing.

If this sounds like a fun story to you, you may be a Lovecraft fan. Or, maybe not. I believe that any reader who is merely looking for an entertaining, creepy summer read will find it quite enjoyable as well. Who knows…it may even compel some readers to check out H.P. Lovecraft’s work, and that would be awesome, indeed.

-Dwight

 

An Edgar Allan Poe Double Shot

As the title of this entry states, we have TWO Poe-related updates for you today!

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First, you can check out brand new Terra Somnium by artist, Louise Fitzpatrick, and yours truly, RIGHT HERE! We are now 16 pages into the first chapter of the prequel to The Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe, and things are getting weirder by the second!

And please, when you check it out, like it, subscribe, and share it with your friends. I can’t tell you how invaluable this is to the folks who lovingly produce webcomics.

 

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Cover by Mark Harmon

 

Second, The Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe #2 is now available for purchase HERE ON COMIXOLOGY and HERE ON AMAZON KINDLE!

If you’ve read issue 1, you can see just how different it is from the graphic novel that was published by Image Comics. The reviews we’ve received confirm my long-held opinion that it needed to be revised both script-wise and artistically. The addition of artists, Luis Czerniawski and Andrea Messi, bring so much life and energy to these characters and environs–wouldn’t you agree?

 

In other news, we are wrapping up production on ELEVATOR #3 and we will soon send it to ComiXology and Amazon Kindle. Elevator artist, Randy Valiente, has really knocked this series out of the ballpark. Issue 3 is a real gut punch, so you’ve been warned!

-Dwight