Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Comics Decade

Over at their blog the Cool Kids Table, my friends Ben Morse, Rickey Purdin and Kiel Phegley are doing a series called Our Comics Decade, where they're going year by year through the decade and spotlighting a comic from each year that meant something to them, especially as it related to their life and their journey in comics (which resulted in each of them eventually working at Wizard, and now at Marvel, DC and Comic Book Resources, respectively). It's a great series and well worth checking out.

I'd love to do something similar, but my memory is so crappy I'm not sure I could pinpoint a comic I read each particular year. Suffice it to say that I read a lot of great comics and a lot of not-so-great comics (to put charitably), and I still love reading comics as much as I did in the beginning of the decade, back before I knew how the sausage was made.

But if I could get a little introspective (hey, it's New Year's Eve), my personal journey, both in comics and, you know, life, is simply astounding to me when I think back on this decade. In 2000 I was a college sophomore with a lot of ambitions but barely any actual work done towards fulfilling those ambitions, and I simply wasn't the person who I wanted to be. Now, at the end of the decade I'm married to a wonderful, wonderful woman (shout-out to the most important person in my life - Brooke Price Aclin). I've got two incredible daughters (which still surprises me sometimes when I phrase it like that). I've been working at what's basically my dream job for over seven years, writing one of Year-2000-Justin's favorite comedy comic strips (that would be Twisted ToyFare Theatre, as seen at the top of the page). I wrote and got published an actual comic book (fulfilling my biggest lifelong dream). This has been, without question, the most amazing, most life-changing decade of my life (out of all three of them).

That said, I'm looking forward to my next decade in comics (and, you know, life) even more. For one thing, I can take the lessons I spent a long decade learning and start applying them to my life from the get-go, so I can be the best husband and father I can possibly be. Over in comics, we've got Hero House finally coming out sometime in the early part of 2010 in comic shops (yes, I know I said November. It didn't happen. Not sure why, and I'm not dwelling on it. The point is, it's coming.)

And now it's onto bigger and better. I'm not quite ready to talk about my first post-Hero House comic book project yet, but rest assured - there is a post-Hero House comic book project. If all goes according to plan, it'll be the most exciting thing that's happened in my comics career yet...and with any luck, it'll hopefully be just the beginning.

Of course I'll be talking about it here on AclinCorp, but as we transition out of the Hero House year, I want this blog to be more than just me talking about my comics. So one of my New Years resolutions is to blog more, and to blog about more stuff - pop culture, life, whatever it is that makes me feel like picking up the laptop and writing.

So even if you've grown weary of hearing me talk about Hero House (and lord knows, I'm almost at that point myself), subscribe to AclinCorp. Like everything else in my life, I'm hoping it's going to be waaaaaay better in 2010 than in 2009. Happy New Years, folks.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Countdown Begins...

[Above: Mike's one-and-done design for Langley, one of Nate's fellow freshman pledges]

The big week has finally arrived! Before you stuff your face on Thursday, hit the comic shop on Wednesday to pick up Hero House! Make sure to call first to ensure they have Hero House in stock. If you're unable to find a comic shop that carried it, try Amazon.

Planning on picking up Hero House on release day? Proud as hell about this fact? Why not RSVP to the official Facebook event?

If all goes according to plan, there should be a new interview and hopefully a big preview of the book up online this week, which I'll link here when it happens. Also, the fun doesn't all end on Wednesday - artist Mike Dimayuga and inker Frank E. Stone are planning some West Coast in-store signing, and I'm working on getting one or two going on the East Coast. Again, check back here for details as soon as they're available.

And hey, when you buy your book, tell us about it! Leave a comment here or send an email to herohousecomic [at] gmail [dot] com. Thanks for your support!

Monday, November 9, 2009

'War Rocket' Explodes!

Hero House Month continues with a new appearance on a comic book podcast! This time it's me, Rob Bricken, TJ Dietsch and Jon Gutierrez on War Rocket Ajax, the awesome new-ish podcast from The ISB's Chris Sims and People You Don't Know's Eugene Ahn. We discuss Twisted ToyFare Theatre, toy movies, balloons full of feces and, of course, I take the opportunity to plug Hero House (out in comic shops on November 25th, motherlovers!). Click the awesome Rusty Shackles art above to check it out, or click here. (If you're the impatient type, the Twisted ToyFare segment starts around the 17-minute mark, and continues for well over an hour after that).

If you've clicked over here from WRA, welcome. Start here to find out more about Hero House. If you enjoyed listening to Rob and I get interviewed by Eugene, check out my appearance on The People You Don't Know and Rob's appearance, which also happens to contain the first meeting between WRA co-hosts Eugene and Chris! Oh, and definitely check out the "Is He-Man really a magician?" letter at ToyFare's blog!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

November is Hero House month!

On November 25th, my first graphic novel hits comic shops. As such, I am officially declaring November Hero House month, by the power vested in me by ownership of this domain name. November's such a big month, in fact, that I went ahead and took the entire month of October off from blogging. You know, just to save up energy.

In all seriousness, though, on behalf of myself, Mike, Frank, Brian and Shawn, we couldn't be more excited that our nearly six-year journey is finally nearing an end. I'm going to try to post as much as possible this month leading up to the book's release, both to tell you when we've got promotional stuff going on (check back Monday for a link to a new podcast interview!), and to try to finish up the behind the scenes stuff.

Which brings us to today's post! See that sketch at the top of the page? That was Mike's ninth and final take on the team jacket (you can see the final colored take on Ed's cover, as well as in various places throughout the book). My original direction to Mike was that I wanted the jackets to make the Eps look like superheroes when they needed to, but to look casual enough that they could leave them unzipped and wear them day to day. Plus, I wanted a team insignia that was based on the Greek letter Epsilon and Psi. Not too tall an order, right?


Mike's first take (above) used E and P instead of the Greek letters Epsilon and Psi.

Version 2 used the Greek letters, but it was a little too bulky, a little too ski jacket and not enough motorcycle jacket, in retrospect.


This is a rough design for a more form-fitting shirt that Nate was going to wear, the thought being that the speedster wouldn't wear a bulky jacket. You can see the final design we settled on in the cover, but Nate never actually ended up using it in the book.

Now we're getting closer to the final design. I think it was probably this point where I looked at the shapes of the Epsilon and the Psi and said, "what if we turned it on its side and kind of stuck the Psi in the middle of the Epsilon...?"

...Which is exactly what he did here, the final version before the final version. You can see that between this one and the final jacket we kind of merged the top and bottom layers of the shape, but it's all basically here. It was a tall order, but when you see the guys in the book wearing it over regular clothes with it unzipped, it totally passes for a regular jacket. And when it's zipped up, they look like badass superheroes ready for business.

So check back Monday for the latest interview link, and I'll have at least one more concept art round-up before the book launches. See you then!

Monday, September 28, 2009

New interview (with me!)

Hey, folks. Sorry it's been a while since I've posted. I could say that I wanted to leave the ordering instructions up for a long time to make sure everyone knew how to order, and that's at least part of the story, but I've also been unspeakably busy lately.

One of the things I've been busy doing is giving interviews! Here's an interview with my patrons at Arcana Comics that just went out in their latest email newsletter (hopefully they don't mind me reprinting it). Give them a click and check out all the great books they've got coming out in addition to Hero House.

Now, onto the interview:

This month, Arcana's Vice President of Operations, Mark Poulton interviews Justin Aclin, writer of the upcoming superhero frat graphic novel, Hero House, which is currently in this month's Previews (SEP09 0592).
MP: For those unfamiliar with Hero House, how would you pitch it to them and where did you come up with the idea for such a fun book?

JA: The central concept of Hero House is really easy to explain: it's about a college fraternity for super-powered students, working together to be the heroes of tomorrow. Once you get past the high concept, though, it's really all about the characters. So our entry point into Epsilon Epsilon Psi - the titular frat - is a freshman named Nate Hedges, who was a big-time small-town teen superhero who just feels completely lost and directionless at college. He gets tapped by the university president to pledge the Eps and make sure they're not getting up to super-powered shenanigans, and a lot of the story is about how he interacts with these characters he'd never normally be interacting with. We also learn early on that there's a black sheep ex-member of the frat, Poltergeist, who had some sort of falling out with his fellow founders early on, and that's a bit of a mystery that gets explored. If I've done my job correctly, when someone's done with the book they'll have read a fun, funny superhero action story, but they'll also have met some characters that are either familiar to them or that they've felt like at some point in their lives. I think, even if you've never been in a frat or been a superhero, the feeling of starting out in college or someplace new and not knowing exactly who you're supposed to be in relation to who you used to be is extremely universal.
How I came up with the idea is almost stupid. I remember I was just in my living room one day, probably looking at my DVD collection, when it occurred to me that both super-teams and fraternities, at least as seen in Animal House, are groups of people who band together for a common goal and give each other code names. And that was it. From there I knew I'd write about a frat that was also a super-team, and all I had to do was figure out who they were and what the whole thing would be about. You can read a lot more about the development of Hero House and see pre-production art and that kind of thing at my blog, www.aclincorp.com.
MP: Did you attend college? If so, did you pledge a fraternity? Any wild stories you can share?
JA: I did attend college at Boston University, home of the Terriers, but I did not pledge a frat. Shocking, I know. But even though I don't have that specific experience, almost all the frat stuff in Hero House - what it feels like to pledge a group, coming in as a freshman when there are already established group dynamics - all that stuff was based on real experiences. My freshman year I tried out for a sketch comedy group and performed with them for all four years of college. And just like a frat or a super-team, each member got their own codename. I was Hemlock. So even though I was never in a frat, all of that stuff was drawn from my real life.
I don't think we got to any Animal House-level wildness, though. Most of our parties were right after performances, and consisted of getting drunk and telling each other how awesome we did.
MP: Longtime Arcana fans may remember Hero House from the company's early days. It was one of the earliest titles signed by the company. After years of work, what was it like to finally see the comic in printed form?

JA: Yeah, this book's been cooking for a long, long time. At this point, it's been five years since Arcana even announced they'd be publishing it. I've had my fantastic penciler, Mike Dimayuga, from almost the very beginning, but it's taken us a very long time to get the rest of the art team put together and get the art completed. But it was definitely worth it - Frank E. Stone on inks and Brian Gabrillo on colors are a fantastic addition to the team, and the final product really pops. To finally see it printed and hold in my hands was amazing. It's the culmination of a life-long dream for me.
MP: Your'e also the head writer on Wizard's Twisted Toyfare Theatre, which is hilarious by the way. Who would you say is your favorite Mego figure to write for?

JA: Thanks! Yeah, I've been writing Twisted Toyfare for about seven years and I've been the head writer for the past several, since the Robot Chicken guys left to go work on that show. I was a fan before I started working on it, so I love writing for the classic characters like Doom, Hulk, Thing and especially Spidey. Mego Spidey is the everyman as exasperated jerk and he's very fun to write for. As far as less established characters, I've got a soft spot in my heart for Electro and Mysterio, for some reason. I established this kind of adversarial friendship for them and I love when they appear together. I really need to make that happen more often.
MP: The creative team attended SDCC. How was the fans' reaction to the book?

JA: We did really well at SDCC. Arcana brought a small early print run, but we were completely sold out by the end of the con. Hero House was actually making its debut at the show, so the fans I got to speak to were picking it up for the first time and hadn't actually gotten to read the book yet. A lot of them were Twisted Toyfare fans who were willing to take a chance on the book because I'd written it, and I really appreciate that, or else they were drawn in by the amazing Ed McGuinness cover or Mike's awesome art in the interior. The early reviews we've gotten have been very positive, though.

MP: Before we go, do you have any last words for fans?

JA: If you buy Hero House, first and foremost you're getting a solid, well-crafted superhero story with great characters. It's got a concept that's potentially and I'm certainly known for a more gag-based comic strip, but it was important to me to let either of those overwhelm the story. You'll read it and laugh, but this isn't a collection of jokes. It's a story that, hopefully when you finish it, you'll be eager to read the next chapter. And hopefully the next chapter doesn't take another five years.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Time is Now! Ask your comic retailer to order Hero House

See those Diamond Previews covers? Well within that issue is your opportunity to order Hero House! Here's what you do.

1) Find a comics retailer near you. You can use Diamond's Comic Shop Locator to find one.

2) Go there and tell them you'd like to order a copy of Hero House. It appears on page 192 in the catalogue and its order number (this is the important part) is SEP09 0592. You might also want to mention how you hear it's going to be really good and the writer writes the very popular Twisted ToyFare Theatre and etc etc etc. You don't have to feel bad about saying these things, because they're all true.

3) Head back to the shop in November and pick up your copy!

It's that simple! If you know any comic fans in your life, definitely let them know about it as well. And if you're a retailer or a reviewer and you'd like a PDF copy of the book, just contact me at herohousecomic[at]gmail[dot]com and it's all yours!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

San Diego memories (or...Hero House is actually out!)

(Above: Your humble creators: Mike Dimayuga (left) and Justin Aclin)

Okay, I think I might finally be recovered enough from San Diego Comic-Con to write about it.

I certainly did a lot of interesting stuff at the show to end all shows (you can read about some of it in this interview with me at CBR's Robot 6 blog), but the most exciting thing was seeing the very first physical copies of Hero House, and getting to sell them and sign them for fans! (Or soon-to-be fans, since they hadn't actually read the book yet...)

Here's a pic of me signing:

And here's the sign we had hanging to help bring in ToyFare fans (it worked, too!):

Arcana only brought 40-50 special first-off-the-presses books to the show, but by early afternoon on Sunday they were totally sold out. That means I get to call the book "SMASH HIT SELL-OUT GRAPHIC NOVEL HERO HOUSE!!!!" With four exclamation points like that.

Anyway, here's the latest stuff you need to know about the comic:

ITEM! We've finally got an official Hero House page on the Arcana Comics site!

ITEM! Apparently the book will be available in September on Amazon, but if you REALLY love me you'll wait to buy it in November at your local comic shop, to better help spread the word about it. Either way, I'll have all the details on how to get it here at AclinCorp.

ITEM! Speaking of spreading the word, I'm a guest this week on the exemplary interview podcast The People You Don't Know. The interview touches on my life and career, Dino Riders and, of course, Hero House. Please check it out, and special thanks to Robert Bricken for tagging me to get interviewed!

ITEM! Even though the book has been released (albeit in a very limited manner), the behind-the-scenes antics will not be stopping here at this blog. Keep checking back for more stuff, like a look at the evolution of the Eps team jacket. It's more exiting than it sounds. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

AclinCorp Interview: Shawn DePasquale


(Above: It's complete! Shawn's letters are the final step to completing the page.)

Hey there! I'm ALMOST recovered from San Diego, so expect a full account of our sell-out debut soon. In the meantime, welcome to the fourth and final installment of our "Better Know a Hero House Creative Team Member" series, featuring letterer Shawn DePasquale

1) How did you first become a fan of comics?
The old SuperFriends show got me into super heroes which got me into comics. I had all the first line of the Super Friends toys as well.

2) How did you start getting into writing? How did you start getting into lettering?
Writing started in my Junior year of High School with a focus on movies. A few years after High School a close friend (who was an artist) pitched an idea that i wanted to write for him to draw. When that comic was ready to be published we needed a letterer and I taught myself how to do it. That was almost 10 years ago!

3) What made you decide to take the Hero House assignment?
I'm a whore for money! Just kidding. I really have always loved Twisted Toyfare Theater so I read the script when I found out you were a writer for Toyfare (specifically TTT) and loved what I read.

4) What was your favorite part of working on Hero House?
The last issue was a ton of fun to letter because it had a lot of different font and balloon styles throughout it.

5) Were there any special challenges of working on it?
All of Geist's balloons were a pain in the ass and even though I think they look good I'm sorry I made them so hard to edit (which I found myself doing a lot of). I hope to have them redesigned before we do any more HH books. :)

6) What's next for you?
I have an original graphic novel that is being drawn as we speak and will be available early next 2010 called DETECTIVES IN SPACE. I'm also always lettering books for Arcana.

7) Anything else you'd like to add?
This was a very fun experience and it culminated with me getting a tour of the TTT toy cabinet and getting to hold the Electro doll! There is really no cool job in the world than making comics! I can't wait to work on the next installment of HERO HOUSE or whatever else Justin and Mike work on next. Also special thanks to my family, computer and dual monitors - without those things none of this would be possible for me.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

'Twas the night before San Diego...

Holy crap, people. You can buy Hero House STARTING TOMORROW (if you're in San Diego).

Before this momentous occassion, a few housekeeping notes...

First of all, as you can tell from the image above, I finally was able to do some shirts (and onesies!) in our Zazzle store, thanks to some image help from Brian Gabrillo. Check out zazzle.com/aclincorp to buy the long-awaited Hero House Epsilon Epsilon Psi logo shirt for yourself!

Next, don't forget to come to the Arcana booth, 2415 on Sunday from 12-2 pm for the Hero House signing with me and Mike Dimayuga. Mike will also be sketching for graphic novel purchasers, so you won't want to miss that.

I was going to link to some of our most recent reviews and plugs, but I'm going to be flying across the country soon and I want to spend some time with my wife now. Be back soon!

AclinCorp Interview: Brian Gabrillo


(Above: Almost done! Brian's colors bring the page to the brink of completion. Come back tomorrow to see the final lettered page and read the interview with letterer Shawn.)

Today's interview is with our colorist, Brian Gabrillo.

1) How did you first become a fan of comics?
It all began when a friend lent me the "death of superman" comic book; I was not a comic book fan until then. After rereading it I began searching for books to read and collect. What really got me hooked, though, was getting a hold of Image titles "Wetworks" "WildC.A.T.S" "Cyberforce" and "Pitt." The art and the story was new so I was able to collect all the issues..

2) How did you start getting into art? How did you start coloring specifically?
I was already drawing when I was a kid, my mom says, but never really looked into it as a profession, even took statistics as a course during college. One time, though, my teachers saw my doodles on the notebook and said that I would be better if I was in an art related course, so I shifted. It was the logical thing to do.
After graduating I entered [the workplace] as a graphic artist, doing lay-out and concept work and designing toys for a major fast food restaurant here in the Philippines. When news came that a comic book talent scout was going to visit the Philippines my girlfriend suggested I try applying as a colorist rather than a penciller, since I have not drawn much due to the work I had, and I followed her suggestion.
I applied as a colorist. The talent scout said I was good but not yet great, but hey, that counts as something! So I practiced everyday after work, also taking in some local independent comic coloring jobs to improve, and there I began as a colorist.

3) What made you decide to take the Hero House assignment?
I was looking for additional work and something to boost my portfolio as well as a colorist, and by coincidence the studio I freelance for, "Big Cat Studios" offered me a 4-issue job. After giving me the information, I took the job. I mean, its not everyday I get a chance to color an Ed McGuinness cover, more so color a whole mini-series that was written by Justin Aclin (We have ToyFare magazine in the office when we want to update ourselves what new toys are out). Plus, it would be of great help for my portfolio.

4) What was the hardest thing you had to do for Hero House?
Well, the hardest part for me was coloring the interior pages, since it had a different style than what I usually do, which I used to color the covers. Nevertheless, I was happy because it had me develop an additional style that I could use and improve my skills.

5) What was your favorite part of working on it?
My favorite part was doing the big splash pages and of course getting the book done. It was the graphic novel I had that was coming out, so I was excited getting it done.

6) What's next for you?
Well right now I plan to study 3d softwares (Maya and 3D Studio Max) to learn new stuff that could help me in my advancement in my day job. For the coloring part, I'm beefing up my portfolio right now. I plan to add more stuff on my DA page (ryjalon311.deviantart.com) to show to publishers.

7) Anything else you'd like to add?
Thanks for the opportunity, Justin! I would also like to thank the guys at Big Cat Studios for the job and of course Mike, Frank, Shawn and Ed for letting me be a part of the Hero House Team.

Thank you, Brian!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Radio, Radio

Quick note: The interview with Mike and I on Fanboy Radio is now online! You can download it as a podcast and take my dulcet tones with you wherever you go. We talk Hero House, toys and all sorts of current geek news. Big thanks to Scott Hinze for having us on and for such a fun time!

Also, my buddy Andrew Kardon is finally relaunching his comics blog ComicBookMarks, and he used one of his very first posts since coming back to plug Hero House. Return the favor by adding Andrew's site to your RSS feed - this guy wrote the book on comics. Literally.

Friday, July 17, 2009

JA (and MD) on the Radio!

Want to hear me and Hero House illustrator Mike Dimayuga being interviewed live on the air (in Texas) for an hour this weekend? Then check out Fanboy Radio this Sunday at 7 pm Eastern!

Unlike a lot of other podcasts, FBR actually goes out live on the air, so if you go to the site and click on "Listen to KTCU Live" you'll be able to hear us live! If not, podcasts are usually available on the site the next day. We'll be talking about Hero House, of course, but also probably ToyFare, San Diego, current comics...it should be a blast. Mike and I are definitely looking forward to it.

I've been on FBR once already with the illustrious Zach Oat, but this will be my first time on live. And it is a call-in show, so please listen and give a call in if it sounds like I'm getting boring. Many thanks to Mr. Scott Hinze for having me back on. If you go to the FBR page right now it says that Mark Millar is the guest (he had to reschedule), which is fine with me, because a lot more people will tune in if they think Millar is the guest than my sorry ass. I may or may not start the interview in a Scottish accent, talking about my plans for the Superman movie franchise.

I want to take a moment to thank some of the other folks who've been helping us make the Hero House Insufferable Media Tour 2009 a success. First up my good buddy Casey Schreiner, who plugged the book at the end of his backed-by-a-major-cable network podcast, The MMO Report.

Thanks as well to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog, which mentioned the book's release in a recent San Diego round-up. UPDATE! They also have now posted this interview with me about my plans for San Diego regarding Hero House and ToyFare. Thanks, JK!

Thanks to the folks at the Nerd City podcast, who gave the book a nice plug recently.

And finally, thanks to everyone who's become a fan on Facebook, especially the folks who are clicking the "share" button and spreading the word. As of this writing we're only 13 shy of 100. We can do it!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Okay, I decided to make a couple shirts.

Check out the AclinCorp shop on Zazzle.com. You can get the awesome Hero House San Diego shirt I posted about the other day, as well as the new Hero House cover art shirt you can see above. Unfortunately I can't figure out how to crop the Hero House logo art file to a round shape to get it on a shirt properly. Anyone know how to do that?

Just so you know, we're not earning commission on these. These are purely an opportunity to show your support for Hero House (especially as you walk the floor at San Diego next week).

If you buy one, please tell me how they turn out and take pictures!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

T-shirts, Anyone?

So my multi-talented penciler Mike Dimayuga made me a t-shirt last holiday season, and now he let me know that he's working on a special t-shirt for the creative team to wear to San Diego Comic-Con. And this t-shirt...is awesome.

So what I want to know is, would anybody be interested in ordering the Hero House logo t-shirt, which looks like this:

or would you be interested in ordering the special SDCC shirt, which looks like THIS:
Awesome, right?

And if people would be interested in getting such a thing, does anyone know a good site for getting shirts made? Anyone have any experience with Zazzle or Cafe Press?

Oh, super-important! Hero House now has a fan page on Facebook! Become a fan. It's the cool thing to do!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

AclinCorp Interview: Frank E. Stone


(Above: Above: Hey, Frank sent me the correct page to post! Thanks, Frank! Tune in next time when we see what happens when Brian lays some colors over it.))

A quick note before we get into today's interview with our inker extraordinaire, Frank E. Stone: Now that the San Diego Comic-Con panel schedule has been announced, don't forget to clear some space on SUNDAY from 12-2 PM as Mike and I will be signing copies of the book at the Arcana booth! More details soon! Now, take it away, Frank!

1) How did you first become a fan of comics?

As a kid, I dug newspaper comic strips and paperback reprints of Charles Schulz's PEANUTS. Then the SPIDER-MAN newspaper strip began in the late '70s (yeah, I'm old -- what's your point?), which soon led me to seek out Spidey and his fellow superheroes in comicbooks, and I've been a fan of the artform ever since.

2) How did you start getting into art? How did you start inking specifically?

Like most people, I started drawing at a young age, but never lost interest in it. My earliest subjects were characters from the aforementioned comic strips, as well as my favorite cartoon characters, Popeye the Sailor and Underdog. I'm primarily self-taught, learning mostly through "osmosis" -- observing and practicing, and applying what I've absorbed.

By the early '80s I had started learning about the specific materials and tools used by professional comicbook artists, including bristol board and india ink, so I started practicing with a variety of those items, and developed a fondness for "finishing" my drawings with ink. From there, it was more osmosis to get the hang of the techniques that are unique to the inking discipline.

3) What made you decide to take the Hero House assignment?

Mike offered it! We met in the spring of 2007 when we joined a local artist group (since dubbed the San Joaquin Graphic Arts League), and he liked the inks on the drawings in my sketchbook, so he told me about the HERO HOUSE project and invited me to "try out" by inking one of his drawings. He liked the results, and here we are!

4) What was the hardest thing you had to do for Hero House?

Ink all those brick walls Mike drew! But seriously, folks -- it was probably getting used to the idea of buckling down for a full-length comic art project that wasn't one of my own. Still, I got into the groove pretty quickly -- and by the end of the first chapter, I was really hitting my stride.

5) What was your favorite part of working on it?

The ease with which Mike's drawings lent themselves to inking -- his pencils are pretty tight and clean, so I didn't have to "improvise" much. And this quality was only enhanced by the highly individualistic characters and comprehensive environments. The pages were a real pleasure to work with. And getting to ink (via blueline recreations) Ed McGuinness's cover drawings was a bit of a kick, as well!

6) What's next for you?

Hopefully, figuring out the end of my own graphic novel, THE ASCENDING MAN CHRONICLES, so I can finally finish it. And I'm continuing to collaborate with Mike on commission drawings for one of his regular customers, who pays me an additional fee for inking.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

AclinCorp Interview: Mike Dimayuga

(Above: A page from Chapter 3 of Hero House, pencilled by Mike Dimayuga. As we do these interviews with the creative team, you'll see this page go from pencils to finished product. Neat, huh?)

Things are really moving here at Hero House HQ (HHHQ?), with less than two weeks to go till Comic-Con and the book's physical debut! Tonight I'm kicking off a series of short interviews with the book's creative team, and we start with the man who's the bedrock of the book: Mike Dimayuga! (Forgive the obvious email interview, by the way - we're all busy people!)

1) How did you first become a fan of comics?
As a kid, my friends and cousins would tell me about the adventures of the X-Men or Superman. I was always entertained and the tales intrigued me. When I was old enough to have an allowance, I started buying my own comics. I used to watch a lot of cartoons.

2) How did you start drawing?

In kindergarten class, we would draw and color fruit. I seemed to excel at drawing apples, bananas and oranges. Later, my sisters discovered me copying the Snoopy and Woodstock print on my blanket and doing a good job of it. When i started collecting comics I started copying the art, and as I grew up, I'd fill up my notebooks with doodles and sketches rather than actual notes. It just grew from there.

3) I've already told the story of how I found you, but when I reached out to you, what made you decide to take the Hero House assignment?

Well, shortly before we met, I had just completed a short 8 page story for a small publisher. I felt I was finally ready to do something longer, maybe a 12-pager or even a full 22-page issue. Gradually work my way to the deeper end of the pool, as it were. So when a certain Justin Aclin e-mails me he wants me to do a FOUR ISSUE book, i was flabbergasted. I had just learned to drive a car and already someone wanted to have me compete in the Indy 500. I read the script, and really, really liked the story. and I agreed to do the book shortly after.

4) What was the hardest thing you had to do for Hero House?

Since I was a complete newb when I started the book, I had to learn on the job. Laying out the page, while telling a story, while keeping in mind what you can realistically do was very difficult. Another element I had difficulty were the backgrounds and the props since I wanted to ground the super character and situations in reality.

5) What was your favorite thing to draw?

My favorite to draw was probably the final page. I worked on the book for 3-4 years and I was very satisfying to see it completed. By then i think I'd grown and improved, it was gratifying to see the culmination of all that hard work. Also fun was animale's various animal forms. Ihad fun doing the research.

6) Which of the characters were your favorite to design?

It's a toss up between Nate Hedges and Brutal. Nate because I liked having him "act" and show different kinds of emotions and Brutal brutal because I'm very proud of the design I gave him. I felt it was really close to what Justin had in mind. He has this huge presence that he dominates every panel he's in.

7) What's next for you?

well, the issue of Hack/Slash I did just came out (number 23). Currently, I'm finishing up a 40+ page book with [Hack/Slash creator] Tim Seeley. In July, I'm going to see what projects I can drum up in the San Diego Comic-Con. After that? I don't know, we'll see. I know I want to eventually do my own stuff.

8) Anything else you'd like to add?

I just want to say Hero House was fun to work on. It was a blast designing the characters and the whole HH universe. I learned so much from just doing the book. by the time it ended, I felt I was a better artist than when I started. [Editor's Note: He totally is.]

Thursday, July 2, 2009



Howdy, folks. Now that Hero House has a few reviews under its belt, I figured I'd collect them all in one place! Just a reminder - if you or anyone you know or anyone you don't know wants to review the book or interview me or the rest of the creative team (except Ed, who I am not the boss of), please email me at herohousecomic [at] gmail [dot] com and we'll make it so!

First up this is not a review, but I think it's kind of cool. It's the first interview I've ever done as a comic author, conducted with new-ish site Comic Hero News. Speaking of CHN, here's the link to their review of Hero House.

Next up is a more personal review by Mike Birnbaum, who I knew from college. He gets some of the little Boston University in-jokes I inserted into the book.

Next up is a bit of a mixed review by Snow Glare for website The Fwoosh. Yes, I'm even man enough to link to my mixed reviews.

Website Super Summaries took a break from their usual practice of reviewing Superman comics to do a review of Hero House where they compare it (favorably) to Buffy.

And finally (so far) Kastor's Korner gives us a nice review that some might consider a little too spoilerific for this stage in the game. You've been warned.

Thanks to everyone who's read or reviewed the book so far, and remember: I'm looking for more. We're only three weeks away from Hero House being available at San Diego. Ca-razy!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Can anything stop...the Animale?


So reviews of Hero House are slowly starting to come in (look for a round up of the recent ones soon), but I have not yet even begun to plug. I definitely want to get the word out about the book coming out at San Diego, and I need YOUR help. But that's a topic for another day.

At this point probably less than 20 people have read the book, but a lot of people who do respond to two characters, and for (ironically) totally opposite reasons. People seem to like Poltergeist because he's a complicated character with a lot of layers to him. And people seem to like Animale because he's an uncomplicated character: he is a party animal. Literally.

Hero House is, despite its title and concept, in no way "Animal House" with super powers. In my mind, these people are training to be superheroes, and I certainly love Animal House, but the characters in that aren't exactly heroic...futures as senators or not. So I modeled Epsilon Epsilon Psi more on a "service fraternity" that a traditional frat, only the service they do is super-heroics. But I digress.

But Animale is perhaps my one nod towards people's expectations for that. Animale probably would fit right in at Animal House. Here, this basically tells you all you need to know about Animale:


Animale's certainly got a little bit of Bluto in him, but he's got a practical reason for being, in the words of Homer Simpson, a "big, fat party animal." You see, Animale can change his shape, but not his size. Size-changing, I figure, is a totally different power, and it doesn't seem fair that most shape-shifters are also size-shifters. Right? Anyway, Animale always retains the same mass, so he keeps his mass up so that he can shift into more substantial shapes. It also means that if he turns into a kitten (and he does), he turns into a giant kitten (and he does).


And as you can see, Mike just nailed his design on the first pass.

Speaking of Mike and the creative team, come back in a few days when I'll start posting mini-interviews with Mike, Frank, Brian and Shawn. I'll also post links to some of the new reviews. Oh, and check out the print debut of Hero House in any form: there's a half-page ad in the new Wizard that's on shelves today (#214) for Hero House!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Racing to the Finish


It's done.

Five-and-a-half years after I started writing it originally, Hero House was totally finalized today. The designer uploaded the final high-res files and they'll be on their way to the plant soon, if they aren't already. I almost don't know what to do with myself.

No wait, I do! I'm going to be hard(er) at work on this blog and my brand-new Twitter account, getting the word out about the comic and giving you more behind-the-scenes looks at what went into the making of it. Between now and Hero House's debut at San Diego, look for more posts on Mike's character designs, plus interviews with the entire creative team.

Thanks for everyone's support so far, but stick around - the best is yet to come. And the best is the book. And it's yet to come. But it is. Coming. What was I saying?

Here, in the meantime, check out artist Michael Bencic's take on Hero House's fatale-iest femme fatale, the deadly and sexy Voyd!

Mike's issue of Hack/Slash hits today!

Quick note: Make sure you pick up Mike's issue of Hack/Slash, issue #23, from Devil's Due when you pick up your books today!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

State of the Comic: 6/3


(Above: The official Hero House ad, courtesy of Arcana Comics! We're mass-communicatin'!)

There's been some changes 'round here. First of all you'll notice the snazzy new AclinCorp banner up top, courtesy of my Photoshop hookup, Wizard Universe Message Board user krypkrwly (aka Larry Joe). Then you'll notice that you're currently viewing aclincorp.com - no blogspot in the URL! Yes, I sprang the $10 for the domain. I feel like a genuine businessman.

Finally, and most disarmingly, you'll find all references to the book coming out in September wiped clean, replaced with November. There's a good reason for this: that's when the book's coming out now. My publisher at Arcana Comics assures me that this will help the book make a bigger splash, and I've never put out a comic book before so I tend to bow to experience.

The plan, however, is still for Hero House to make its debut at next month's San Diego Comic-Con (which plans also currently call for me to attend. Stay tuned!). I'll be back soon with more behind-the-scenes kind of stuff, but watch this space - posting will reach a fever pitch leading up to Hero House's debut. That's the plan, at any rate.

And finally, a question. My buddy Ryan Penagos is the prom queen of Twitter (over 500,000 followers) and he's been pressuring me to join up. Do you folks think Twitter's the logical next step for AclinCorp and its relentless Hero House promotion? Would you follow me? Input is appreciated!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Altered States


So as you know, Hero House took a long-ass time to come together. But once, way in the beginning of the process, Mike and I considered an alternate course which would have allowed us to burn through the art in much less time. Mike said to me, "What do you think about doing the book in a manga style?"

Now I'm not much of a manga fan, to be honest. And while I think Mike's manga style looks great (you can see some more of his art in that style on his site ), I always envisioned Hero House in an American comic art style. I don't think you can just take a comic book, do it in manga style and have it work out correctly. Manga's got its own storytelling style, even beyond just the art.


So ultimately Mike ended up doing a couple of tests just to see how the characters would look in the manga style (they're the art you're seeing it this post, a-dur), we decided to stick with the original art style, even though we knew it would take longer (and it did). But sometimes good things are worth the wait.

Next up, I'll try to get into the designs of some of our other characters. Because you haven't lived until you've met Animale.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Art Collector (Me)


So I had a surprise package waiting for me in the mail when I got home today: my share of Mike and Frank's original art from Hero House! Crazy!

What's really crazy about it is seeing artwork that I've been looking at for a loooong time (in the case of page 18, the first page Mike drew, over five years) up close and personal. Because Frank inked directly over Mike's pencils what I've got now are the inks (like the above page, the first page of chapter 2). Looking through them all together, I realized that what I requested as my souvenir was, by and large, not the big splashy action pages (with the exception of one particularly awesome splash page from issue 3, depicting the Year One team in all its glory) - I really seemed to ask for the pages that contained really great character work and great facial acting from Mike and Frank.

It's a real honor to be the owner of some one-of-a-kind art from a book that means so much to me. And I know that when Mike is a big famous artist, this stuff's gonna be worth a ton of dough. But, uh, I won't sell it. Seriously.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Original Recipe


(Above: Detail from Mike's first pass at page 18, the first sequential art done for Hero House. You can get a little glimpse of how the finished art changed here)

Now, I'm not saying that Hero House is the most original idea in the history of ideas. I was going for something with excitement and humor and interesting characters, rather than an experimental work that would announce me as the next Alan Moore. However, back when I first came up with the idea (over five years ago, as I tragically keep reminding you), there really weren't any "superheroes in college" books on the market.

However, as soon as the good people at Arcana agreed to publish the book, they started coming out of the woodwork. Robert Kirkman's Invincible went to college. Marvel launched Gravity. Seth Green (who works with some friends of mine, no less, on Robot Chicken) had The Freshmen at Top Cow. Each time I told myself that the premise was different enough, and that there was still room for Hero House in the market...although I died a little bit each time one got announced.

Strangely, the one that never gave me any pause was the web comic Superfrat. I'd heard of it at some point, but it's basically a gag comic strip, not an action comic book. So even though they're both about super-powered fraternities, I was never worried about them competing for the same audience. Although recently it's come to my attention that a friend of one of our creative crew asked him why he was working on Hero House when it was clearly a rip-off of Superfrat, which has been around for years.

So, with no slight to Superfrat, and just in the interest of setting the record straight:

Here is the first Superfrat strip, dated May 11, 2005.

Here is my first public announcement of Hero House on my old blog (which means it had been picked up by Arcana at that point), dated December 13, 2004.

So, yeah. We're not reinventing the super hero wheel, but we're not a rip-off.

Tell your friends. Tell all your friends. I AM the night.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mike Dimayuga is a HACK!

It's true! The very talented Mike Dimayuga, penciler extraordinaire of Hero House, is a total hack. By which I mean, of course, that Mike will be making his professional comics debut in the soon-to-be-shipping Hack/Slash #23 from Devil's Due Comics! Check out writer Tim Seeley discussing it here.

You can see some of Mike's Hack/Slash art done before (though not his art for the story - this is some of the art he did for his own edification that caught Tim's eye). Please join me in congratulating him!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

State of the Comic 4/9: The Almost Done Edition

Holy Moses, folks (oh, Happy Passover, by the way)...we are SO almost done with the comic. We're so almost done that if we were any more almost done, we'd be all the way done. Think about it.

I downloaded a pretty-much-finished PDF last night of the entire comic...only to find just a few last niggling mistakes that I figured we might as well fix before we shut the door on this thing. But having read the entire book in color, lettered and in one sitting now, I can say with confidence that I'm SUPREMELY proud of how it came out, and of everyone involved with it. I'm going to have a final PDF of the whole shebang no later than next week, so if you're a retailer or blogger who'd like a copy for review, just drop me a note at herohousecomic[little "at" sign]gmail[dot]com.

And now, in keeping with our "almost done" theme, at the top of the post you'll find the almost-done pin-up for the book done by my ludicrously talented brother. (The final version has a slightly less blue Geist...)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Hero House cover: an AclinCorp premiere!

That's the thing about having your own blog - you can have all the world premieres you damn well please.

Anyway, it's not 100% nailed down yet, but I couldn't wait to share with you folks our fantastic looking cover.

(Click to expand)
Here are the credits:
Cover Pencils by Ed McGuinness
Cover Inks by Frank E. Stone
Cover Colors by Brian Gabrillo
Hero House Logo by Jairo Leon and Michael Bencic
Cover Design by Jairo Leon

What does everyone think? Striking? Too plain? Awesome beyond words. Let me know in the comments - it's not too late in the process to see if I can't throw some Chromium on there if you think that's what it needs.

Monday, March 23, 2009

State of the Comic: 3/23


(Above: Mike's layout for Hero House. Thank goodness someone's thinking about this sort of thing...)

So heads up, you guys: posting might slow down over the next month or so as I shift temporarily from promoting the book to going into overdrive to get everything finalized in time to hit our deadline to be at San Diego Comic-Con. (Cross your fingers for us!) On top of that, one of AclinCorp's other projects is about to come to fruition: my wife (and AclinCorp CEO) Brooke might be having our second child literally any second now. So between those two things, I might not be checking in quite so regularly. But keep checking back, because there's still a bunch of cool stuff to share.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Brutal: Crafting the big guy

(Above: Ed McGuinness' tight-as-hell pencils to the Brutal cover, originally intended for issue #1.)

Let's face it: most of the characters in Hero House just look like a bunch of dudes. So I knew that Brutal--the President of Epsilon Epsilon Psi and the only non-human-looking member--would have to be memorable. Which is why he went through more designs than any other member before Mike and I finally hit on one we liked.

First things first, here's Brutal's description from the issue #1 script:

BROTHER BRUTAL stands in the center, a mammoth, strong-looking man at least eight feet tall in a suit with horns growing from his temples.

Here was Mike's first pass:


I wasn't crazy about the demon nose, and the horns weren't quite where I wanted them to be yet - I wanted the horns to basically look like Brutal's big gnarly eyebrows.

The next couple of sketches got a bit closer:


I wasn't quite digging the inhuman eyes, though. Around this time I also came up with the idea of giving Brutal a scar down the middle of his face between his horns, as if his skin had sort of split open when his horns first started growing in. You can see a bit of that in the penultimate sketch, where Brutal is wearing a very sporty vest...


Add slightly broader soldiers and voila! The finalized design sketch:


I think the scar ends up being less pronounced in much of the final art, but I think we accomplished what we set out to do - to create a visually memorable character that when you see him (or even his sillhouette), you'll immediately think of Hero House. It's why Brutal was going to appear on the cover to issue #1, before we decided to release as an OGN. Plus, as a bonus, he looks like he was born to be drawn by Ed McGuinness.

I'd like to take this opportunity to officially apologize to Mike for being such a hardass about Brutal's design all those five years ago, but I'd like to think it paid off.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The state of the comic - 3/9

Well, the finishing line is in sight. It has to be - we've got a firm deadline for getting all files in and completed if we want to have the book at San Diego (and I want to have the book at San Diego). This evening I'm going to be paginating the book - making sure that everything fits and all the cliffhangers come on a left-facing page. Luckily, it's something I'm very used to doing for the day job.

The other thing I need to do is figure out what bonus art to include in the book, out of the five years of material we've amassed. This one's a shoo-in: a pin-up Mike drew for me for a holiday gift a couple years back featuring a couple of super-villains you won't be meeting for a while in the book, so I won't say anything else about them at the moment...


Monday, March 2, 2009

Poltergeist: 13-year-old Justin is vindicated

(Above: Ed McGuinness' Poltergeist art, originally intended for the cover to issue #3)

So like I said, I'm not much of an artist. And before I hooked up with Mike, he was employed as a character designer for a video game company, so he was totally aces on the character designs (you'll see them all eventually on the blog). But I can say with pride that there is one character who I helped design. And I helped design him when I was 13 years old!

Like most other comic book dorks who dream of growing up to become comic book writers, I created a whole universe of superheroes and villains when I was a teenager. Most of them had names that would not have been out of place on Grant Morrison's list of pseudo-Image character names from Doom Force (there was a Hellweb and a Death Claw, and I'm not proud). I also drew all these characters in an art style that's basically exactly like my current art style, which, as you know, sucks.

But there was one character at least who was destined for greater things:


When the time came to add a disgraced former member to the Eps in Hero House, Poltergeist emerged from the depths of my memories. So what you see above is remarkably similar to the character you see in the book: same white skin. Same blue eyes. Same long grey hair. Same long trailing legs effect when he flies. Only, you know, it doesn't look like crap in the book.


Mike's first stab at Geist (the cool kids call him Geist) played up the haggard and drunken aspects of the character just a little too much. Geist's had some hard living when we meet him, but he's still only about 21 years old.


The next sketch was perfect, though. It captured something about the character that I hadn't quite articulated at the time. He's drunk and he's destructive, but he's convinced that he's a real great time to be around, and it totally comes off in Mike's second sketch:


Geist's big entrance is basically the first extended action sequence of the book, and it was the first sequence Mike drew (for our pitch packet, waaaay back when). And as you can see from the color panel above, Geist practically leaps off the page when he first appears. He's simultaneously a tragic character and a fun character, and he's definitely one of my favorite characters in the book. And not just because I drew him sometime around my Bar Mitzvah.