December 31, 2007

The True Story of Ben Avery . . . the PIRATE!

Here's a comic from an old public domain comic book called "PIRATES". Alas, this is issue 4 of the series . . . the last issue.

It's the tale of Long Ben Avery, a pirate who I have taken a liking to. Mostly because he shares my name. He's an historical figures -- an actual pirate that sailed the seas, looting people.

I'm amazed how closely Long Ben Avery's pirating career has mirrored my own career in comics. :)

As usual, click on the image for a larger version that you can read.

It was scanned by someone called "King Faraday", so many thanks to him!

~ Ben

December 29, 2007

Nano Film Review #1 -- Beowolf

Here's my review for the recent screen adaptation of Beowulf:

Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary, you're two of the most creative writers in Hollywood and that's the best ending you guys could come up with? Really? Robert Zemeckis, why was it animated again? Animation works best when it's stylized to serve the film. Flesh and blood characters would have probably elevated this movie from interesting technological achievement to engaging retelling of an age old story.

Maybe I should have seen it in IMAX 3D.

~ Ben

December 21, 2007

A Merry Christmas Comic!!!

Here's a little Christmas story from an old public domain book, Ben-Hur, I happened upon at a comic shop yesterday. Hope you enjoy it!

Click on the pages to make them larger.

~ Ben

December 19, 2007

An Interview

I did an interview last week for a website -- -- which ran a three day series on comics and spirituality.

It's not so much an interview as an essay, I guess. The man in charge asked me a couple questions and then asked me to write about them. Buzz Dixon and Robert Luedke also participated.

The interview/essay starts out talking about my earliest comics experiences and then gets into my motivation for writing comics.

Click here for the interview.

~ Ben

December 18, 2007

Hobbit Film News!!!

Peter Jackson is producing The Hobbit.

Hmmm. He's only producing. So, I guess, I'm not sure if it's good news or not.

I'm leaning toward "good news".

I'm hoping for good news.

It'll be a few years before we know, though.

I have to say, though, that some of the most inspiring books for me as a "artist" (in quites, because my arts are not drawing-based) have been the "Art of" books that came out with the movies.

The Art of The Fellowship of the Ring
The Art of The Two Towers
The Art of The Return of the King

All of them are extremely cool, just to browse, but also if you want to get some in depth glimpses behind the creative process of developing those monstrously huge movies.

But the best of the bunch is:

The Art of Lord of the Rings

The above book is my favorite because it has concept art from all three movies, but the artwork seems to be more eclectic.

Another amazing book, not linked to the movies directly, although the artist was one of the concept designers for the movies, is Alan Lee's Lord of the Rings Sketchbook.

All of these books are "must haves", in my humble opinion, for anyone involved in creating fantasy creatures, worlds, or comics. I find them inspiring, and it's interesting to see how armor evolves in artists minds, or to see abandoned creature concepts, etc.

As long as these guys are involved in The Hobbit I know that the movie will be a visual feast. But the question is, will they find someone who can match the way Peter Jackson tapped into that vision of Middle-Earth. When I watched those movies, I thought to myself, "That may not be the way I envisioned it, but that certainly looks like the way it should be."

Time will tell.

Speaking of getting a peak into how things develop, I'm very curious about this: The History of The Hobbit. It's got an unpublished draft of the book and unpublished maps and illustrations. Seems interesting.

~ Ben

A Really Cool Comic to Check Out

I have a lot of friends who want to Make Comics. And some of them actually are doing it.

It's sad, actually, as I was thinking the other day about the paucity of solid comics by my friends. Not that they can't do it. Just that they don't.

Anyway, here's a guy who's got that "can do" attitude, and he's being rewarded for it. His name is Josh Alves. He's a cool guy, and he's got a cool comic called Araknid Kid.

So cool, I should add, that he was selected to be in the Zuda comics competition. Zuda is, in a nutshell, an American Idol style competition that DC Comics is hosting. The winners of the contest get some sort of deal wherein they get paid to produce more content.

Anyway, check out Josh's comic on Zuda. It's fun, a lot of fun:

And if you like it, give 'im your vote.

~ Ben

EDIT: Also, check out Josh's website where he has some "DVD extras" about Araknid Kid:

December 16, 2007

How to Make It in Comics . . . from Someone Who's Been There

Here is my definitive answer to how to Make It in Comics, in three easy steps:

1. Get a pen, pencil, or computer.

2. Start a story. Use art to tell the story.

2a. If you do not have a story or cannot tell one, find someone to help.

2b. If you cannot draw, find someone to help.

2c. If you cannot find somone to help with either a or b, then go ahead and just do it yourself.

3. Convince someone to read it.

"Wait," I can hear someone saying over the electronic pulses of the internet, "that's how you Make Comics, not how you Make It in Comics."

Ah, gentle reader, I understand the confusion. But see, you will never Make It in Comics if you do not Make Comics. There is a big difference.

Many people want to Make It in Comics. Fewer, though, are those who want to Make Comics.

Have I "made it"?


Wanna see when?

That was the project where I stopped talking about Making It in Comics, and actually made a comic. It was a huge day. A turning point in my life. A complete paradigm shift occurred.

I got off my butt, took stock of what was important to me, and decided telling stories was one of those God-given urges I had been granted. So I made time and did it.

Almost as simple as that.


But I had finally Made It in Comics. And no one can tell me differently. However deluded I might be.

~ Ben

December 10, 2007

The Artistic Paradox

I wrote this as the introduction to an anthology for a local group. It gets into some hows and whys about artists and readers and the relationship between them.

I'm curious what you might think about it. For me, the core is the paragraph that starts, "Artists are an interesting bunch . . ."

"A story unread is a zen conundrum, a shout in an empty universe. Unread, unheard, a writer is a dying thing." Tad Williams, The Writer's Child

I love anthologies.

I know, "traditional wisdom" says that they aren't marketable. They aren't popular. They're too haphazard. Too hit or miss.

But I completely disagree. I love anthologies because of what they represent -- a diverse group of stories by a diverse group of artists. Now, I can understand that if you have no intention of trying to read something other than a select style of story or a select genre, an anthology may not appeal to you. But I enjoy reading all types of stories and hearing different voices.

And that's what makes this collection so cool. This anthology has allowed a number of voices to be heard, some for the first time. The stories are "various and sundry" and this provide a perfect example for why I happen to love anthologies and other people happen to hate them. For in this book, there are examples of historical fiction, fantasy, superheroes, and "indy" comics. With two exceptions, they were created by a team, which added to the challenge, since no team had worked together before this project . . . although a few teams may continue working together. (And a few teams may never speak to each other again.) It was an interesting dynamic, and every person involved learned something new about their art or about the "industry" or about both.

To be honest, if I had been smart I would have brought my camera to some of the meetings and filmed some sort of reality show documentary about the making of the project. There was a lot of human drama -- which was amplified by the fact that you had a bunch of artists getting together and working together.

Artists are an interesting bunch. Many artists are self-effacing, meek, and humble -- unwilling to share their work with the world out of a fear of rejection, coming from the introspective nature that cultivates their artistic tendancies. Other artists are arrogant and egotistical, growing from the recognition of their own talent and the knowledge that, simply put, it's good. But the majority of artists are a strange combination of the two -- living paradoxes -- humble and unassuming, yet confident and assertive. Their introspection is tempered by an arrogance that their story is worth reading, that people will enjoy it and laugh or cry or have some sort of reaction. When you get these strong artistic personalities in a room, sparks fly. There's really no way around it. (Honestly, though, it makes life more fun . . . albeit a little more stressful sometimes.)

And yet, it happened. By some miracle, the stories were completed. The files were finalized. And a fantastic anthology was birthed. The truth is, not every story may be your cup of tea. But in reading this anthology, you will get to hear a new voice you may not have heard before and experience some strong artwork that, while you may not LIKE the style, you will definitely appreciate.


The anthology this introduction appeared in is called Syndication and can be found here, if you're interested in getting it and checking out what I was referring to. There's some fun stuff in it from a diverse group of artists.

~ Ben

The Thieves -- out now!

You'll notice a nice little ad over to the right for The Thieves. It's a link to the comic and it's appearance on

The Thieves is something of an experiment for Community Comics, in that it's the first brand new comic that we're offering on (It has NEVER been published anywhere, in any form, except for me to solicit critique from some friends of mine.) is a website that offers free downloads of books and comics. And each time one of our books is downloaded, we get a small amount of money. What is unique about this model is that the downloads are free, unlike iTunes or the like which you would pay for the downloads.

So we're trying it out to see how it works. Hero TV will go up pretty soon, both the one shot and the mini-series. If this works out, look to see brand new Hero TV stories and such on Wowio.

Community Comic will also be putting up other works by other creators on We'll let you know when they are up. Please support them.

To download DOES mean creating a profile. And be warned: there are some less than savory comics up on Wowio that some may find offensive.

To find The Thieves, go here.

To find Sherwin Schwartzrock's Legends (the comic that caused me to notice Sherwin and which is the direct cause of our friendship), go here.

To find our Salvation Army fund raising project The Tempest, go here.

~ Ben