Roman Dirge to Cover Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe #2

dirgeI am thrilled to announce that my longtime friend, Roman Dirge, is providing a cover for the Kickstarter-exclusive printed edition of The Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe #2!

I don’t often tell the story of how I became friends with this brilliant creator and artist, but I would like to share it with you here because it is such an uncommon story.  Especially in the comic industry.

jim reaperBack in 2006 my black humor comic, Jim Reaper: Week One, was released by the now-defunct publisher, Silent Devil Productions. Around that same time I discovered the brilliant comic from Slave Labor Graphics called Lenore. Of course, I recognized the title immediately as an homage to Edgar Allan Poe, so I picked it up from my local comic shop. What I found inside was gorgeous art and spot-on comedic genius. I was an instant fan. As I said, Silent Devil had released Jim Reaper–which has a similar tone to Lenore–so I decided to contact Dirge, send a digital copy of Jim Reaper: Week One to him, and ask if there was any possibility that artist Mathieu Benoit and I could make a Lenore meets Jim Reaper strip for a future issue of Lenore. To my surprise, Dirge loved my comic and agreed to it right away. This was at the end of 2006.

Fast forward to early 2007. Dirge was busy in the animation field (including writing Invader ZIM with his buddy, Jhonen Vasquez) and artist Mathieu Benoit I had created the Jim Reaper spin-off, Lil’ Hellions: A Day at the Zoo, which was also published by Silent Devil Productions. In addition, I was embroiled in several comic and webcomic projects, including a little webcomic titled “The Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allan Poo.” In other words, Dirge and I were both extremely busy doing other things. Mathieu and I had completed the Lenore meets Jim Reaper strip several months earlier, but it was just sitting in a folder on my computer. It had basically been forgotten. Or so I thought.

lenore_13In June of 2007, however, I saw Dirge post an update on his Facebook page that basically said, “Hey, who is the guy I promised a strip in the next issue of Lenore? I need the strip ASAP.” Of course, I quickly responded, and Lenore Meets Jim Reaper was published the next month in Lenore #13.

Since then, Dirge and I have both been extremely busy, but we’ve managed to stay in touch. I’ve never told him how much I appreciate him and the fact that he kept his word. Over the course of my decade+ in the comics industry I’ve been promised lots of things by a lot of people and been left holding the bag more times than I’d care to admit. But not by Dirge. And for that, I will always be one of his biggest fans.

So there you have it, folks. My ode to Roman Dirge. That’s why I am absolutely over the moon that he is illustrating the cover for The Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe #2. He’s a super talented guy, yes, but he’s also a man of integrity, and a friend that I value very much.

-Dwight

 

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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