Rhymes N’ Updates

Hey guys!

Soooo…how’s it going?

I know, I keep pulling vanishing acts. New things on my plate, and hopefully with them, new opportunities. But I’m not here to make excuses. I’ve been bad, and I love you guys, so I don’t want us to break up…figuratively speaking.

Right now, I’m planning on restructuring how my blog is updated. To be honest, when a lot of things hit me at once, I’m the worst at staying organized. But I’m working on it.

Anyway, it’s important to me to keep this blog updated, especially where the artist interviews are concerned. There’s too much unknown talent out there, and it’s still my mission to bring you fresh doses of new talent on a regular basis. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to update those interviews weekly anymore, but I think doing one featured artist a month is more feasible. It gives the artists lots of time to get back to me, and gives me more time to write up the articles. I’ve met and interviewed some awesome artists in the past few months, and I want that to continue.

So while I work this out on my end, here’s something I recently did for Yvonne Nicolas, a writer of erotic stories and fiction. These are two of her characters – magic wielding priestesses named Indigo and Dominique from The Dragon Queen Series. It was colored by the awesome Kyle Chaney, and you can see him throwing down the colors in the video below. We’ve been working together on a few commissions for her, and I’m loving it so far.

And that’s not all. I have some ear candy for you too. Few people know that I actually write poetry and rhymes, and even fewer have actually heard it. So I promised a friend that I would write and record two things and put it out there for the world to hear. I called this one “Just To Be Rhymin” because…well…I just wanted to rhyme. No big story there.  Anyway, one down, one to go. I’ll post the next one on here too. Later folks.

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Meet Julius Dean Abrera

Since I started this blog, I’ve interviewed artists from all different walks of life, each with their own individual styles and unique experiences. Now, as much as I would love to take total credit for finding some of those artists, I have to give it up to my good friend, Kyle Chaney, Jr. Usually, when I want to break things up a little bit and diversify the artists that are featured here, I’ll email Kyle and say, “Hey , I’m looking for more artists to interview. Any suggestions?” I’m expecting he’ll respond with maybe one or two, if that. This guy comes back with like ten to twelve dope artists, drops them at my feet, and says, “Take your pick.” Then I imagine he walks off into the sunset, back to whatever lair he operates Plan B Comics out of, and continues to push out awesome artwork and stories while saving orphans from burning buildings in his spare time.

Am I exaggerating a little? Nope. Not at all.

So it was by Kyle’s recommendation that I was able to interview today’s amazing artist, Julius Dean Abrera. Growing up in Malaybalay Bukidnon, a small town in the Philippines, Julius was inspired by the 90’s X-Men and Spiderman animated series.

Krossfire Pinup. Krossfire is ©Florentino Santibanez. Art by Julius Dean Abrera

“I fell in love with the characters right away, they were the reason why I picked up a pencil and started to draw. I have been drawing since I was eight,” he says as he reflects back on his younger days. Ever since, drawing became a long time passion for Julius. “Growing up in a small town, I never thought it would be possible to pursue comic books as a career,” he says. “It wasn’t until I knew that a very good friend of mine made it to Marvel and into the mainstream that I decided to take things more seriously.”

This friend was Harvey Tolibao, an incredible artist who has worked on Ultimate X-Men, among other Marvel titles, and Star Wars: Knights of the Republic published by Dark Horse. Julius openly admits that Harvey’s mentor-ship directly influenced and changed the way he approached art. “I’ve known Harvey for like 17 years now. Hes more than a mentor, more like a brother actually. Before Harvey took me under his wings, I had no idea on how the comic biz would be,” Julius says. Before Harvey began working with him, Julius believed what any budding young artist believes – that drawing well is the only key to being a great comic book artist.

“Comics have a lot that goes into it. Harvey taught me the basics of anatomy, especially on women, the importance of layouts on your work, and making dynamic poses. Even if it means bending and damaging some of his most prized comic/book collections just for me to learn, that’s how generous this guy is. He’s currently teaching me how to make cool ‘story telling’ and ‘ how the flow works’ when doing sequential art.”

A Marvel cover commission with art by Julius Dean Abrera

Julius was falling more and more in love with comics, but he had already developed a prior relationship with school, where he was studying architecture – a four year relationship that wasn’t going to be easy to break off. “I pursued architecture because it was the only course, which is related to drawing, that I could find close and near enough in my hometown, “ Julius says. “I remember the time when we were told to do research about building designs and structures in the library, but instead of doing what I was told, I was researching on human anatomy and books on how to draw heads and hands.”

Things were getting heated. If I could put it one way, architecture was Julius’ wife, and comic books were his much more entertaining mistress. If I could put it another way, comic books are just awesome. Julius had already been seduced by those energetic panels, and lush story-telling, and there was no turning back. “It was really tough working on school projects and at the same time drawing superheroes and comic characters. It felt like I was torn between doing what I love to do and doing what I have to do,” Julius says.

In the end, he changed his major after four years and left architecture to pursue his love of comics. It wasn’t an easy change, however.

Z: The Dream Warrior page 4 with art by Julius Dean Abrera

“Lets just say it was hard and easy at the same time,” Julius states as he thinks back to that moment. “Hard, because, my family was greatly affected by the decision I made. It wasn’t easy for me to make them understand the comic world. Easy because, drawing comic characters and comics has been a long time part of me. And finally I’m able to do something with my heart and talent in it.”

Julius eventually moved on to become a freelance artist, working on commissions and sequential art for independent labels, including Plan B Comics. His ultimate goal, however, is to work for the Big Two.

“I think every young and new comic artist like me wants their name published and wants to be known as having worked on mainstream comic industry titles from Marvel and DC publishers. For me, as of now, that’s the current goal, to be able to work with the big names on comics.” I’m personally confident that Julius is not that far off from having his name on a major title from DC or Marvel, and I say that with the utmost sincerity. Ever since reading Frank Miller’s Daredevil: The Man Without Fear, it has been Julius’ dream to work with the man himself on another Daredevil title. “Frank Miller is such a great writer that he captivates the character not as a super hero, but a living, breathing normal human being, who like us, has problems that needs to be dealt with in our daily lives,” Julius says.

A Daredevil Marvel cover commission with art by Julius Dean Abrera

Like many artists, he has faced a great deal of challenges and obstacles as he continues to grow and improve in his creative endeavors. “The greatest challenge for me as an artist, especially as a new artist, are the adjustments. You have to be able to work much faster to reach the deadline of a book,” he says as he reflects on some of his personal experiences. “I have this latest experience where I was pulled out as an artist of a book because I wasn’t able to produce the required number of pages, and I didn’t reach the deadline. It was an awful feeling and experience for me, but as an artist, it is all part of the deal. Because of this situation and what happened, I have pushed myself even more to work faster without risking the quality of my artwork.”

Julius is clearly a hardworking person who is dedicated to his craft, and is even able to flip a difficult situation into a learning experience and thus, something positive. He has his own personal rewards, as well, which might not be as extravagant as one might think. “The most rewarding experience for me as an artist is when I receive messages from fellow starting/new artists that they have been greatly inspired by my works. Its always an honor when you can share a couple of tips and tutorials on how you draw,” he says.

Julius is obviously well on his way to achieving his goals, both as an artist and as a person. Not only does he have passion, and some amazing skills with a pencil, but he has a fortitude to continue improving in his craft that one could argue is the most important aspect of success. I look forward to seeing his title on the shelves someday. I’d pick up a copy of that book in a heart beat.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Until next time!

-Kia

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Julius Dean Abrera hails from the Philippines and is currently a freelance artist who has done everything from small commissions, to cover art, to sequential work. You can find some of his work on Plan B Comics’  Z: The Dream Warrior, as well as on his Deviant Art page below.

julsabrera@yahoo.com
julsabrera@gmail.com
juliusdean.deviantart.com

Kyle Chaney Jr.

Kyle Chaney, Jr. and Plan B Comics  

It’s like Plan A…except…you know, it’s not.

Kyle Chaney Jr.

You know how Myspace has become this dark void, somewhere between dial-up internet and the non-existent privacy of Facebook? Well, somewhere in that dark void, in a time when Myspace was kicking all kinds of social media ass, I met a bunch of people that unwittingly formed a subtle online comic-book artist clique. Among these artists was a humble yet confident guy from Dallas, Texas named Kyle Chaney. I never really talked to Kyle as much back in those days, but he did always strike me as a quietly ambitious guy who, simply put, loved comics. I never knew that I would have the opportunity to see, years later, how Kyle’s passion and dedication would lead him to form his own comic book label and face the uncertain challenges that came with being the head of your own business.

Art by Roman Morales III, Inks by Greg Harms, Colors by Kyle Chaney, Lettering by Keith Braun

They say that you find your life’s calling through happy accidents. Actually, “they” don’t say that. I just made that up.

Randomly invented quotes aside, that statement does hold some truth to it. Kyle is proof that your life’s passion can come totally by accident – in this case, your dad accidentally buying an issue of Amazing Spiderman and simply deciding to give it to you instead of returning it. “When I first saw it, I was in love,” says Kyle joyously as he reminisces about that issue of Amazing Spidey, part of an annual entitled The Wedding. “Those days I was drawing Ninja Turtles on paper, walls, propane tanks, etc. This was a new genre for me and it opened up the possibility of being creative.” From there, Kyle did what any young, budding comic book artist does: he spent valuable learning time in school making up his own universe and characters. And it was all for the better.

Art by Julius Dean Abrera with colors by Kyle Chaney

Years later in January of 2010, Kyle formed his own comic book label, Plan B Comics. After trying titles like Kick Komics or Kyle’s Komics, Plan B Comics seemed to be the one that stuck. Tired of seeing old, repetitive, and watered down material in mainstream comics, he decided to use a no-nonsense, slightly cocky slogan to go along with the name: We are Plan B Comics. Better than your first choice. “We need something that makes sense. We need something with substance, depth, and honesty. We need a better choice,” Kyle says of his decision on the label’s tag-line. “I felt that if people were in the same boat that I was, with comics today and the way they are going, then a Plan B contingency plan was in dire need.”

After having a debate between fellow artist and friend, Florentino Santibanez of Kreative House Studios, both decided that Kyle’s property, Plan B Comics, should be the parent label. They set off on a quest to find more talent to add to their contingency plan, and as it stands, Plan B Comics is the umbrella label of six smaller studios. “I love the idea that we feed off of each other and it doesn’t cost a penny. Loyalty is more important than money. However, I sure do wish loyalty paid my bills!”

He laughs off that last part, but Kyle has been completely honest that things have not always been easy in the money department and, with the added responsibility of running a business and taking care of two children alongside his wife, the challenges of making a living and running his own label have become two different monsters. “I make a living mostly by doing commissions with my digital color work and murals. I paint on the side, when my car is not acting up, and it brings a decent living along with it. My commissions on coloring sequential work is time consuming, yet can be very rewarding if the gig has a great rate attached to it,” says Kyle. He also maintains the business standard that you have to spend money to make money. “I think that I hate the guy that came up with that slogan,” he jokes. “I would like to lie and say, ‘Kia, I’m rolling in the doe. I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner.’ However, this is not the case.” In an economy that sucks, then comes back to suck harder, Kyle is still positive, straight-forward and honest when it comes to business. “I think that the one thing that is mandatory for promising the preservation of the company, is to be honest, upfront, considerate, and good to your word.” 

Art by Roman Morales III and Julius Dean Abrera

Oh, and making sure your wife is happy is pretty important too.

“Keeping the kids happy is easy,” he says. “I move on to the wife and keep her happy by doing dishes. My life is way better now that I do the dishes. No joke! And, and, and…get this….my hands are silky smooth! Who knew?”

(I can vouch for this, fellas. Your life is so much sweeter when you do the dishes.)

Kyle might spread himself shoe-string-thin sometimes, but he still believes in the integrity of his label. “The one thing you have to remember is that I am no-one’s boss. I am just the guy who tries to solve any issues we may have. If I succeed, the guys involved succeed. If they do, we all do.” He believes in just allowing his artists to get in there and let their creative juices flow while letting them maintain the rights to their own creative properties. “If you create it, you own it,” he says. “I don’t go to the grocery store and say ‘Hey, I know I don’t work here, but can I have a check anyway?’ Same rules apply with these guys. I don’t need a piece of your pie.” Each person from the label gets to keep %100 of their profits. “I don’t want it,” says Kyle. “I’ll make my fortune the honest way, thank you very much.”

Kyle might be on to something here. Actually letting your artists tell the stories that they want to tell? Hmmm. Maybe, in many ways, they are better than your first choice.

Art by Julius Dean Abrera with colors by Kyle Chaney

Plan B Comics is an independent studio consisting of: 

Florentino Santibanez: Kreative House Studios

Sam Hill Jr.: My Way Comics

Sean V. Harley: Harley Comics

(recently changed to Plan B Comics)

Rick Tyndall: Tyndall’s Quest Comics

Keith Braun: Psyence Books

(recently changed to Plan B Comics)

Kyle Chaney Jr: Plan B Comics

Ocie and Anthony Taylor: Skribblboy Comixart

Plan B Comics can be found online at:

Web: www.planbcomics.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001992471558

Facebook Fan Page:https://www.facebook.com/pages/PLAN-B-COMICS/194282180585875?sk=info#!/pages/Plan-B-Comics-Fan-Page/178396372205367

Dead Zone Review

Dead Zone #1 – More Is Better


Story and Letters: Keith Braun

Pencils: Roman Morales III

Inks: Greg Harms

Colors: Kyle Chaney Jr.

Label: Plan B Comics

Dead Zone is pretty much a comic packed to the brim with action, like The Expendables in comic book form, except with one guy and less cameos. The book is a fairly short read and doesn’t give much in the way of story, except to set up the plot in which our hero, Dead Zone, hands out copious amounts of ass kicking.

I read the Plan B Black and White Limited Edition which premiered at ComicCONN in Connecticut. The art style lends itself nicely to the overall action-packed theme of the book. Roman Morales III has a laser eye for detail, which is only complimented by Greg Harm’s inks, bringing the hero Dead Zone to life in a way that makes him pop off the page. His armor is my personal fave; intricate, right down to the tiniest of scratches, bolts and dents. There are times, however, when Dead Zone seems to be the most interesting subject on the page, where the less important characters (the goons who have the unfortunate role of simply getting a bullet put through their brain) are not as rendered and seem to be an after thought. For the most part, though, the art is nicely done and the level of contrast that the inks bring to the book make it a juicy visual product.

I also had a chance to see the full-color version of the book with colors by Kyle Chaney Jr., who does a great job of enhancing the visual appeal of the comic while making the action-packed panels that much sweeter. Everything pops off the page that much more  because of Kyle’s colors, bringing the gritty atmosphere to life in a way that makes for some sexy eye candy.

Don’t expect something that is going to put you on an emotional journey of self-discovery here, but if you’re looking to be entertained and you want to feast your eyes on nicely rendered artwork, then Dead Zone is the book for you.

I give Dead Zone a 7 out of 10.

Dead Zone is currently available through Plan B Comics in both a printed format and as a digital download.

www.planbcomics.com

Check out the other positive reviews that Dead Zone has been getting here:

http://www.comicvine.com/myvine/alexhasek/reviews/

http://investcomics.com/reviews/investcomics-comic-book-reviews-9-19-11

Dead Zone is © 2011 Keith Allen Braun. All rights reserved.