WRAITH OF GOD: Aaron Lopresti’s new graphic novel

Way back in 1997 I developed a mini-series to re-imagine Marvel’s western Ghost Rider. I couldn’t get anyone at Marvel to even look at it. It might have been that I was a relative new comer to the industry or it could’ve been they had no interest or confidence in producing a western hero comic. Either way, their lack of interest did not deter my confidence in the quality of the project or its potential. I revamped the character and the plot and created my own character, Wraith of God.

As I continued to climb the ladder of the industry and get more and more work, my creator-owned projects got pushed farther and farther back on the shelf. Before I knew, it 25 years had passed and I started looking in my review mirror wondering what I had accomplished in the industry other than collecting paychecks and writing and drawing someone else’s characters.

As the industry main stream seems to be getting more and more unstable, it feels like it is finally time to take chance and start launching my own characters and comics. After a lengthy discussion with myself, a fair amount of prayer and drawing straws, I finally decided Wraith of God was the book to lead with.

Crowd-funding is the only logical way to proceed in this new era of comic book production and distribution. So right now, right this minute, in fact this very second, I have opened a pre-launch page and I am soliciting email sign-ups for patrons that are interested in this new graphic novel project.

So what exactly is Wraith of God? It’s a an all new 72-page graphic novel. In the American old west of 1883, The Wraith is a mysterious hero with a dark past who hunts monsters and delivers the wrath of God on the forces of evil. Along with his associate Esther, a former Salvation Army worker, they hunt a clan of Werewolves across the western states in a race to possess an ancient amulet.

There will be three cover options, two of which I have already completed, the third will be by a superstar artist in the industry but I won’t reveal his name until I get something from him to show. Speaking of showing, here are my two covers and the first 2 pages of the story as a little preview.

cover option A

cover option B the retro cover

Page 1 (still to be colored)

Page 2 (still to be colored)

You might have noticed the Empire Comics logo on the covers. What’s that you ask? Well, even though my company name has always been Cold Crocodile Press, I felt I needed a separate title for my comic banner. Empire seemed simple and apropos to my goals. Build an empire of new comics. With your help, it can be done!

It’s been a long time since I have been this excited about a project. I will be writing, penciling and inking this graphic novel. If I was more proficient, I would be coloring as well. But alas, I am still a painfully slow colorist so I will be farming that chore out.

If you like what you see here and want to support this project please follow the link and sign up right now! If you sign-up before the campaign goes live in mid-August, you get a free limited edition trading card when you order.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/aaron-lopresti-s-wraith-of-god-graphic-novel/coming_soon

Who Cares about Plastic Man? I do!

Right now I should be drawing Amethyst or at least working on the script for my next upcoming DC project (that I can’t mention yet) but instead I am going to blog about Plastic Man.  Yes!

I grew up reading mostly Marvel Comics and was a true Marvel Zombie.  However, if you looked at a stack of books I bought during that time (mid to late 70’s) you would find one odd ball non-Marvel book.  Plastic Man.  DC relaunched Plastic Man in 1976 with issue #11 (it picked up where the first DC series from the 60’s got cancelled) and I was inexplicably drawn to it.  Perhaps it was just the overt goofiness of the character (one of my defining characteristics as well) or the charming artwork of Ramona Fraden or maybe it was just the fact I thought it was a first issue collector’s item but I bought it and read it multiple times.

Every since that time, drawing Plastic Man was one of my dreams. (It’s really sad how frequently I am drawn to characters that don’t sell and no else cares about)  Sometimes dreams do come true.  Around 1999 when I couldn’t pay Marvel or DC enough to hire me (see the debacle known as Takion for the reason) I got a surprise call from old friend Tony Bedard ( I had worked with him at Valiant) or perhaps I called him begging for work.  He offered me a Plastic Man story in the Plastic Man 38 page Special #1 and I was in heaven (not just because it was paying work but because it was also a “dream job”)  Yes, God does work in mysterious ways.

I got to ink the job myself as well which then turned a 10 page story into a 20 page paycheck!  My wife and child were happy and so were my bills.  It was also and still is one of the most enjoyable projects I have ever worked on.  The story allowed me to be silly, irreverent and very imaginative and I guess therein lies the appeal.  Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and others have defined boundaries and are closely watched by their editorial supervisors but Plastic Man is wide open and no one is ever watching all that close.  I will always look back fondly on that job (even though I could do it much better now) and I will continue to look forward to a time when I get to draw Jack Cole’s fantastic creation again.

Check out these two pages from the story and believe it or not the word balloons are on the art! (man, I must be old).

Plasticman1Plasticman2

 

The Lopresti History of Sketchbooks…The Final Chapter

I am still recovering from the the wild weekend that was the Emerald City Comic Con.  One day I will have to write about the best shows I have attended but for now, back to the sketchbooks.  In my last entry I talked about my sketchbooks up to 2009’s Saved From The Trash.  Even though I felt it was one of my strongest sketchbooks the cover image didn’t grab potential buyers so I knew I had to come back with a stronger and different product.

In 2010 I tried something I had yet to explore; full color!  Most smart people go to China to have their color books printed to save money but I didn’t have a connection to do that so I found a printer in the US.  Since the cost of printing a full color book was significantly higher than black and white I had to change to a less expensive format.   Then at the advice of fellow artist, Terry Dodson, I tried to cash in on my success as the artist on Wonder Woman by using a Wonder Woman-esque image on the cover.  Again I kept the print run low at 500 copies and although the book sold better than my previous effort, it still did not move as quickly as I had hoped.  This made me question the value of going color over black and white as well as the higher price tag of $15.

In 2011 I went back to perfect binding and black and white and kept the print run at 500.  I finally developed a female character I could put on the cover that was cute but not sexualized.  Of course, I am speaking of Kit Carter, Galactic Ranger!  The character is really nothing more than an homage to Sci-Fi comics of the 1950’s popularized by Wally Wood.  Maybe with a little retro movie serial thrown in.  I dropped the price on the book back down to $10, went back to creative titling with “Almost Finished”  and found it sold well but again not much different than my color effort.

I took a year off from publishing thinking perhaps I was over-saturating the market and it gave me some time to think and plan a new strategy.   So here in 2013 I have published my 10th art/sketchbook.  This time I did  few things differently.  I made sure I had a really strong cover image that pops, I went back to full color mainly because I found a good affordable printer (Indigo Ink) here in the US and finally I made sure the content of the book was dynamite.   After all, with a small sketchbook the cover and the choice of interior images is everything. I once again kept the print run at 500, which seems to be a good number for me.

I also realized premiering a sketchbook at San Diego was counter productive.  San Diego may be the biggest but it is one of the last shows of the year not the first. So by premiering a book there, it limits your opportunities for exposure through the course of the whole year. This year I published the sketchbook prior to the first major show of the year, ECCC in Seattle, and will have the book available on this website as well as with me at every show I attend this year.   A quality book that is readily available makes the most sense.  Considering I have sold almost 100 copies in less than a week, I would say I may have finally learned something.

2010sketchcoverAlmostfinishedsketchbookcover

 

All three of these books and more are available for sale right here on this website!