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I am cross posting this very important message from GrayHaven Comics publisher Andrew Goletz, on a project that I am very proud to be involved with helping to create:

The events of December 14, when 26 innocent people (including 20 children) lost their lives, have affected many people. I know it’s touched me in a profound way. My fellow editors have felt the same and after much discussion we agreed that something had to be done.

What good is having the ability to reach people with our stories if we can’t put that to use in a beneficial way?

It goes beyond the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School. It goes beyond the victims of Aurora. This is not about gun violence or gun control. This is not a political statement. This is a statement of being good to your fellow man.

This is about Brandon Elizares, a 14 year old boy who took his own life after being bullied for coming out to his friends and classmates.

This is about Victoria Gray’s African American son who was tied to a locker at his High School as classmates taunted him with cheers of ‘slave for sale’

This is about the 11 year old developmentally challenged child who was held down on a kitchen table by four adults who took turns beating him.

This is about the victims of Jerry Sandusky’s abuse and others like him.

This is about the children who are ridiculed or worse because of the color of their skin. Their sexual orientation. Their mental capacity. Their weight. Their interests.

This is about the children who no longer feel safe going to the movies or to school.

This is about the millions of kids who suffer abuse and suffer in silence thinking that no one cares.

This project is designed to show that we hear you. People care. WE CARE. And what they can do to get help.

GrayHaven Comics will be publishing YOU ARE NOT ALONE, a very special anthology one shot featuring stories inspired but not based on real life events like the ones mentioned above. With this book we hope to give people the means to get help and know what to do should they ever witness or face such situations themselves. The book will be produced by our editors and distributed by us for FREE in order to get the message out to as many people who could benefit from it as possible. Along with print volumes we will also offer a free digital version of the book for those that prefer their reading on handhelds. A donation button will be placed on the site for anyone who wants to contribute any amount (be it a dollar or ten) and those funds will go to the charities established for the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

After the post above was made, Andrew followed up with this response and the submission guidelines:

What can I say? Early response to this was overwhelming. My inbox was flooded with amazing personal stories from people who experienced or feared the very topics we talked about in doing the book.

It quickly became apparent that a single 36 page volume wasn’t going to be able to contain the passion and creative energy that people had for this idea. Alternatives were considered but in the end we have decided to make this an oversized book to allow more people the opportunity to tell their stories.

Submission Details-

Whether you’ve witnessed or experienced racism, homophobia, bullying, or violence, YOU ARE NOT ALONE and there are ways to seek help.

Submissions about bullying, suicide, depression, racism, homophobia, violence or anything else that you think would fit within this realm would be considered. The story could be based on an experience that you or a friend may have had or witnessed or it could be a work of fiction grounded in tragic reality.

The stories should center on younger characters from grade school to high school and contain a positive message or hopeful solution. While in reality often times these types of stories don’t always have a happy ending we are looking to inspire those who read.

Email me gatheringanthology@hotmail.com a short (2 paragraphs or less) submission idea about what your story is going to be before January 21st. Please include the story resolution in your submission.

While we hope the stories and information contained in the book will help provide resources and information for people of all ages our main focus is on younger victims and witnesses to these events.

Stories should be 2-4 pages in length. No more, no less. Editorial will guide writers and artists to make sure the material fits the criteria and is suitable for younger readers who we hope to reach with these stories.

If you have an artist that is going to work with you (or if you are an artist) let us know in your pitch. If you need someone to illustrate your story we will provide one, so don’t worry.

If your story is accepted for the volume you will be contacted via email by February 7th and the full script for the story will be due within 5 weeks.

We are currently targeting the book for publication in September when the new school year begins.

We want this book to be a valuable and FREE resource to those in need. We will make use of the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to increase the book’s initial print run, and cover additional shipping and promotional costs.

While the size of the print run will be limited by costs, the digital edition has no overhead, and will be available to all who want it. Moreover, we can increase the size and scope of the digital edition to allow even more stories.

We’ll be selecting stories for the print version that tackle versatile subject matter in order to cover a broad range of topics. The digital version will allow for much more overlap.

Dear Dracula, by Joshua Williamson & Vinny Navarete

One of my many wonderful tasks as the Promotions guys at Shadowline Comics is to help spread the word about new projects related to our published work.

I wanted to take this opportunity to let everyone know that DEAR DRACULA will air tonight (October 16 at 7 p.m. EST/PST) on Cartoon Network as a part of their “Spooky Specials” Halloween programming.

The hour-long feature is based on the scarily sweet story of a young boy named Sam who loves horror films and vampires so much that he writes to Dracula for Christmas instead of Santa Claus, DEAR DRACULA was written by Joshua Williamson and drawn by Vicente “Vinny” Navarrete and the 48-page, full-color hardcover graphic novel from 2008 can still be ordered for $7.99 at sites like Amazon.com.

Jim Valentino is watching you watch Dear Dracula

Giving voice to DEAR DRACULA is a cast of well-known Hollywood veterans as well as breakout young actors:
Ray Liotta as Dracula
Nathan Gamble (Dolphin Tale) as Sam
Ariel Winters (Modern Family) as Emma
Emilio Estevez as Renfield
Marion Ross (Happy Days) as Grandma

The DEAR DRACULA animated feature is produced by Kickstart Productions (Voltron Force, Wolverine and the X-Men, The Amazing Screw-On Head), with a screenplay by Brad Birch (Johnny Test) and can also be purchased on DVD.

 


The article I mentioned yesterday is live thanks to the amazing Andrew Tan at Comics Bulletin who worked his ass off to get this out in time for the New York Comic Con.

Please be awesome and go to their website to read the whole thing at THIS LINK!

And then either let me know here OR in the comments on the Comics Bulletin website what you think. I’d certainly appreciate it.

This week, Comics Bulletin will be running an article that I have written just in time for the New York Comic Con.

Each member of the GrayHaven Comics editorial staff is going to write a column on their experiences in the comic industry to acts as a how-to for new comic creators to see what they should and shouldn’t be doing. My column will be on something near and dear to my heart: NETWORKING AT A CON.

While I don’t want to steal the thunder from the wonderful folks at Comics Bulletin, I am going to give my loyal readers (all seven of you) a sneak peek of what I’ll be instructing in the article.

I have been involved in comics (not just as a fan) since 2007 when I started working with Jim Valentino’s Shadowline corner of the Image Comics universe in a promotions and PR role. Earlier this year I added another role with GrayHaven Comics as an editor and an assistant art director. Part of that assistant art director role means that I am always on the lookout for new talent to grace the pages of our comics. And while promoting Shadowline’s work, I’m always talking to retailers trying to see how we can get our books into their stores and into the hands of the fans. Networking at comic conventions has become something of a requirement.

And for those of you looking to break into the business, or those of you who already have your foot in the door but are looking to find other talented creators to collaborate with, I offer this advice that I have come to rely heavily upon in the past few years. While some of this may seem rather obvious, you would be surprised at how often the simplest faux pas could bring a potential collaboration crashing down before it even has a chance to start.

I present you with the DOs and DO NOTs of Comic Convention Networking:

DO your research and know a company’s policy on accepting writing samples or open
pitches. For artists, it’s quite often that you’ll have an opportunity to have your portfolio reviewed by a comics professional, but you’ll likely find that for writers it’s remarkably difficult to have any of your work looked at in the form of a script. It’s certainly going to be easier to hand a finished comic book to an editor or publisher for review, but many won’t even look at a script. Check before you go to the convention to see which companies will be there and specifically what their policies are in accepting writing samples or pitches. But even then you have to remember …

DO NOT hand in your pitch to someone at a convention. Seriously — even if you’ve done your research and it says that they accept writing samples and pitches in person, don’t do it. Editors and publishers are so busy at a convention that the likelihood of something that you’ve handed to them making it back home with them for review is somewhere between slim and none. And slim just wore a red shirt and beamed down with Captain Kirk’s landing party. You’re much better off just introducing yourself, maybe exchanging business cards or contact information, and letting them know that you will send your pitch to them by email or post.

DO consider how small and tight-knit the community of comics professionals may be. That’s one of the best reasons to network at a convention. It’s a great way to meet people whose work you enjoy, and possibly leave a lasting impact with them. I don’t promise that you’re going to be best buds with Jim Lee after your first meeting, but being genuine goes a long way in a community so small. But with that said …

DO NOT bad mouth a comic creator to another creator, or to another fan while in line in
front of a comics pro. Or in front of anyone, really. Let’s be honest — comic book fans are sometimes known for their negativity above all else. But saying how much you hate so-and- so’s artwork in front of another comics creator is much more likely to end up in an uncomfortable moment rather than something you can bond over. You never know who is good friends with whom, especially in a community as small as comics. Which leads me to …

DO stay positive. If you can’t say something nice about someone in comics, don’t say it at all. No one is trying to stifle your opinions or beliefs, but you have to consider that it’s quite likely that the artist on the hottest X-title doesn’t really care how much you dislike the New 52. What’s he’s probably much more interested in hearing is how much his work means to you. You may also find yourself along the waves of professional talent in Artist’s Alley and standing in front of a table where the book(s) being sold just aren’t your cup of tea. In an instance such as that …

There is going to be plenty more information when the article goes live on Thursday morning so please be on the lookout.

In the meantime, if you will be attending the New York Comic Con, please be sure to look for me as I canvass the convention floor all day on Friday, or come by and say hello while I am stationed at GRAYHAVEN COMICS booth 2457 almost all day Saturday.

Or you could do both!

 

While comic diehards from all over the world usually find a way to make it to what has become the pop culture madness of San Diego ComicCon, those of us on the East Coast are lucky enough to have a convention that — in my mind at least — is even more exciting for comic book geeks, nerds and fans in general.

That convention is the BALTIMORE COMIC CON and it takes place this Saturday and Sunday at the Baltimore Convention Center practically adjacent to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

My convention report will follow sometime next week but in the meantime here’s the scoop courtesy of the Baltimore ComicCon Website.

The Baltimore Comic-Con is celebrating its 13th year.

DATES:
Saturday and Sunday
September 8 & 9, 2012

SHOW HOURS:
Saturday 10-7 (NEW EXTENDED SATURDAY HOURS!)
Sunday 10-5

LOCATION:
The Baltimore Convention Center
One West Pratt Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21201
The Baltimore Comic-Con is proudly presented by Cards, Comics and Collectibles of Reisterstown, Maryland.

Click on the links below for more information:

GUESTS

ARTISTS ALLEY (Be sure to stop by the Inverse Press booth where some GrayHaven Comics will be available!)

RETAILERS

EXHIBITORS

PROGRAMMING

And the Baltimore Comic Con also plays host to THE HARVEY AWARDS!

Tickets are still available and can be purchased at the door.

Originally posted on Graphic Policy:

We continue our interview series with members of The Gathering and GrayHaven Comics. We’ve put out the same questions to numerous individuals and can compare their responses. A hopefully intriguing interview series.

Check out our previous interviews.

Up today is Marc Lombardi, the Editor and Assistant Art Director at GrayHaven Comics.

Graphic Policy: How did you get started in the comic book industry?

Marc Lombardi: In 2007, Jim Valentino’s partner studio at Image Comics, Shadowline, was running a contest to create a promotional street team called the Shadowline Pimpsquad. I was a regular on the Shadowline section of the Image Forums.I ended up winning the contest thanks to coordinating an interview with every single major Shadowline creator at the time and getting the folks at CBR to publish it. Months passed and I started doing more…

View original 1,462 more words

“That…was…AWESOME!!!!”

Wait…Let me wind the clock back a few hours and start from the very beginning.

I set my alarm for 7:30 this morning knowing that I had an 11 am appointment at the airport in Perkasie, PA with Skydive Adventure Philadelphia. Immediately upon waking up I checked online for the weather knowing full well that any rain or windy conditions would scrub the whole thing.

There was a 30% chance of showers at 11am, which continued on to Noon, and then at 1pm until 3pm it turned to a 40% chance of isolated thunderstorms. Things were not looking good.

But I decided that even if Nicole I took the trek to the airport and were turned away we could still make a fun day out of it (and I needed to go to the Army/Navy store in Quakertown to pick up a few more pieces of my Hawkeye cosplay outfit). So we both got washed and dressed and headed out the door at around 9am to get some breakfast at Panera.

Excited and ready to jump

We made it to the airport in amazing time, arriving shortly after 10:10am. Most importantly the skies were merely cloudy but bright and the rain seemed to be a ways off. I know that the girl I spoke with on the phone earlier in the week said not to arrive early but I decided to chance it anyway, knowing that if I waited until my 11am appointment the chance of rain canceling my only shot at this would have increased. I made my way inside, up the stairs to the sign-in office and announced my arrival.

They took me in right away, sat me down with a clipboard and a waiver that basically gave up any rights I had to sue them for injury, death or pooping my pants, and may have even relinquished the rights to my first-born child but HA! Little do they know! I’m not having any kids!!!

I then was instructed to watch a video which was apparently another warning from the company lawyer, who looked suspiciously like a regular lawyer in a ZZ Top beard. In hindsight I’m wondering if he was a representative of the law firm of Fitzpatrick, Lentz & Bubba. My guess is that he was the Bubba part.

Harnessed up and ready to go!

I decided to pay the extra $10 for the “Go Big!” package which extended my freefall time from 25-30 seconds to about a minute. Less time gliding with the chute but more time falling like a 250 pound boulder to Earth, ergo flying time. I also decided to forego the extra $70 for a video package. I was sent downstairs to check in one final time and get weighed.

I stepped on the scale, passed the crucial “not too fat to skydive” test and was told to wait outside until they called my name.

I was on the fence the whole time about the video package and asked if it was too late to add it to my jump. I was told that it would add about 45 minutes to my wait time, and not wanting to end up getting the whole thing scrubbed over the weather I turned it down one last time. Now it was no going back.

Upon making it outside I watched a group of individuals who were already in their harnesses get ready to board the small double-prop plane. They took off and after what seemed to be about five minutes their plane re-appeared way above us overhead. Looking straight up into the sky I witnessed the tiniest little drops fall from the plane and what seemed to be mere moments later those droplets bloomed into parachutes. One by one they made it down to the ground and to a person every single one of them seemed genuinely happy. Most importantly, no one seemed to have peed themselves on the way down.

That had to be plus.

At what must have been close to 11am, the original time I was supposed to show up, I was helped into a harness by my tandem partner, Brian. Brian was an American and because of his long wavy brown surfer haircut and the fact that he was walking back and forth to the plane with various tools that made it look like he was doing some work on it, I nicknamed him Chewie.

With Brian, the instructor.

He gave me some basic instructions on what to do and what not to do. How he would basically provide me with verbal commands on the plane and physical commands once we were diving. At no point did my nerves ever take over. It was an adrenaline rush just thinking about it and from the moment I got there til the moment when I was wearing the harness and Brian asked “are you ready?” I couldn’t stop thinking about how incredible this was going to be.

I gave Nicole a big kiss and made my way to the plane, with Chewie at my side. Brian stepped in before me and I straddled the bench sitting in front of him. I did some calculations and realized that I was basically third in line to jump.

The plane took off and my heart finally started to race — not from nerves but from excitement. It was that feeling you get after you’ve been in line for a big loopty loop roller coaster for 45 minutes and you’ve finally sat in the seat at the front of the very first car and the bar lowers down and locks into place. It was this point that Brian said was the most dangerous part of the trip — takeoff. Another instructor said, “No, actually Kurt [the pilot] has a tougher time landing.”

“That’s OK,” I said. “I wont be here for that part.” And I smiled. A big, stupid grin, because it finally hit me. I was about to fly.

I’ll see you in a few minutes!

For what must have been about five or six minutes the plane made its way up to the 14,000 foot height from which we would jump. The view out of the tiny porthole window near my head was breathtaking and I couldn’t wait to see it without the plexiglass. Brian continued to buckle me into the harness tighter and tighter, clipping me to his harness and then at some point I noticed that the light on my right side, near the clear sliding door. Brian instructed me to put on my goggles. It was almost time.

They lifted the door and a moment later the light went green. Out went the first jumper, an employee who was manning a video-camera. Next went the first tandem jumper. Then the next one, who was sitting in front of me. I felt Brian start to scooch me forward along the bench. Then the next one went. And just like that Brian and I were crouching at the open door to the plane.

…and we’re off!

Time froze. I looked down and saw nothing but practically three miles of air and the ground below. Houses were like those in Monopoly. Smaller even. And then the world started again and in the back of my mind I heard Brian’s voice saying “Here we go…ARCH!” and felt the slightest nudge.

I went out the door of the plane with my arms crossed over my chest and my legs slightly bent. As he told me earlier, I arched my back and thew my legs behind me, as if I was trying to kick Brian in his ass. The air rushed up and the feeling was unexplainable.

Brian tapped my shoulders and, as previously instructed, I lifted my arms as if I was being robbed at gunpoint. I was impressed with myself that I resisted the urge to do the one hand extended out, one arm tucked in pose (like Superman). But it didn’t matter. I truly felt as if I was flying. The wind was remarkable, coming up at me with such relentless force. It was as if it was trying to help me defy gravity and keep me in the air longer.

The view was amazing…beautiful. If it wasn’t so hazy I probably would have been able to look ahead for miles, but at the speed at which I was moving (upwards of 140 mph) I could barely see anything in the distance. There was no real feeling of falling towards the ground. It was more like a sense that the ground was just coming up to meet me instead.

I let out a “WOOOO-HOOOOOO!” but the wind drowned out the sound from my own ears. We spun a bit in a circle and the world barely seemed to move around me.

The chute deployed at 4,000 feet. Excellent timing!

What felt like maybe 30 seconds but was actually an entire minute went by and I felt a subtle tug…and then…FWOOOMPH! The chute was deployed. We had gone from 14,000 feet to 4,000 feet in about 60 seconds.

My descent went from the horizontal to the vertical and the rush of wind suddenly stopped. The world became clearer and the sounds of nature were once again audible. Brian said to me in my ear, “So, how was that?”

“WOOOOO-HOOOOOOOO!”

“I guess I don’t have to ask you to let out a yell, then,” he said.

We talked on the way down. I learned that he had over 8,000 jumps under his belt and that he had only began when he was 34 (which by looking at him couldn’t have been more than five or six years ago at the very most). He had been in the military but didn’t jump back then as he was in the Navy. I let out a few more hoots of joy and just let the beauty sink in.

I noticed that even though I was the fourth one out of the plane we were the first ones to approach the landing zone (besides the videographer). Gravity is a bitch. I stretched my legs out straight ahead in front of me and had a soft landing. We stood up and Brian unhooked me from his harness and then helped me slip out of mine. The first thing I noticed was that I couldn’t stop smiling.

“Whew!”

“That…Was…AWESOME!!!!!” I must have said it a dozen time afterwards. As Brian was gathering the chute behind him I watched the other jumpers come down one by one around me. When all of us had landed we started making our way back to the hanger.

I saw Nicole about 75 yards away snapping photos. It was she who was responsible for this amazing experience. She who helped me make this dream of mine come true. I couldn’t wait to kiss her.

Brian and I made it back to the gate and I walked over to Nicole and gave her a great big kiss. Not one that said “Oh, thank God I’m still alive” but one that said “Thank you SO much.” I handed over the harness, said my goodbyes to Brian and tipped him for being such a great instructor (and it was customary for anyone over 230 lbs to do so anyway since you’re giving them a lot more work to do). We made it to the car at about Noon and the first thing I did was call my mother to let her know what I had just done.

My reward for landing safely.

My mother would have vomited everywhere if I told her about it beforehand and probably already would have planned my funeral by now. But she was fine. Amazed, but fine. Nicole was also very happy for me.

My dream came true. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life and one that I can’t wait to do all over again. And I celebrated it in the exact way that I wanted afterwards, by having a ridiculous banana split. That’s the reward to get for making a dream come true.

And, just as importantly, I do…FINALLY!…believe that a Geek can fly.

(For more photos, please go to the SKYDIVING photo album on my Facebook page)

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