Thursday, December 30, 2010

John Layman on Pitching - CBLDF 12/18/10

Rob Anderson, Panda Dog Press publisher, and writer of Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit, attended John Layman's workshop, The Secrets of Pitching Comics, at the CBLDF offices in New York City on December 18, 2010. Here's his report:

Photo taken by CBLDFSo, what would make me do a *second* road trip from Virginia to New York City just two weeks after the last one? How about John Layman, writer of Chew and former Wildstorm Editor, talking about pitching? Yep, it was time to hit the road once again, so Joe Sergi showed up at my door around 5:00am and we headed north. (Photo at left is from the CBLDF Twitter feed.)

I had already had a "Layman-filled week." (Wow, that sounded weird.) John, along with Rob Guillory, had been a guest at the live, online Comic Creators Workshop Book Club, on Tuesday, December 14th discussing Chew, Volume 1. So I had spent the early part of the week reading Chew and preparing a Powerpoint for the session, and then spent Tuesday night in the discussion. Hearing John and Rob speak Tuesday night cemented that the trip to NYC would be worth it.

The class was held at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund offices, and there were about 15 people attending, which allowed for a lot of interaction. John is a very laid back teacher, checking his outline on his cell phone as he went, and giving us straight talk on how to pitch. He was realistic, open, and clearly had a lot of experience from both the editorial and freelance writer sides of the table. He even shared the actual pitch document he used for Chew, which in itself was invaluable. He also talked mechanics like what should be in the pitch document, where and how to pitch, and even important details about how to structure deals with your collaborators.

What was really inspiring was hearing how he had pursued Chew as a project for six long years. For the most part, it was considered somewhat of a joke amongst his friends and colleagues -- "the bird flu cannibal book." He finally decided he had to publish it himself and everyone thought he would lose his ass on the book (with the possible exception of Image, who agreed to publish it). Considering how successful the quirky and unique book has been, this is definitely one of those stories that any comics creator loves to hear.

It was a great session, and Joe and I once again got a chance to catch up with our Comics Experience colleagues, Dan Rivera, Bill Yurkas, and Janine Frederick in the class. After the workshop, we all had a late lunch (along with Eric Drumm and Christopher Murphy who joined us--all pictured at left), and we even hit Jim Hanley's Universe and did some shopping before starting the long trek home. We made it back by around 11pm; not bad at all.

Bottom line: if you get the chance to attend a workshop like this with John Layman, don't miss it. You'll rarely find anyone who will be more open and honest with you about the business of comics.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Renderwrx/Center of Attention Interview!

Rob Anderson, writer of Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit, was just interviewed by Paul D. Houston of Renderwrx for the new Center of Attention feature.

In the interview, Rob shared the "in progress" cover by DaFu Yu for the new anthology series, Great Zombies in History, coming in the Spring of 2011 from Elevator Pitch Press. Rob is both editing the book and contributing a story.

Rob also talked about the Comic Creators Workshop, the Comic Geek Speak SuperShow, Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit and more.

Check it out here:

Interview with Renderwrx -- Center of Attention

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rob Anderson's Interview with the Washington City Paper

Rob Anderson, writer of Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit was just interviewed by the Washington City Paper.

Rob got to chat about Animal Control SCU, Comics Experience and the Comic Creators Workshop, a new project Rob is editing (and contributing a story to) called Great Zombies in History, and more!

Check it out here:

Interview with the Washington City Paper

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Paul Levitz on Plotting - MoCCA 12/6/10

Rob Anderson, Panda Dog Press publisher, and writer of Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit, attended the Paul Levitz class, The Craft of Comics Writing: The Long and Short of Plotting, at MoCCA in New York City on December 6, 2010. Here's his report:

When I heard that Paul Levitz would be teaching a MoCCA Master Class on plotting, I knew I had to find a way to attend.

Thus was hatched a crazy scheme in which fellow Comics Experience alum, Joe Sergi, and I would make a single day, round-trip, road trip from Virginia up to New York City. Our plan eventually settled around a combination of car, Amtrak, subways, and taxis...and started at around 7am in the morning, and didn't finish up until after 2am the next morning.

It was worth it.

Paul Levitz is the legendary writer of the Legion of Super-Heroes, particularly The Great Darkness Saga. Twenty years after its release, The Great Darkness Saga is sitting at #5 on the New York Times best-seller list for Hardcover Graphic Books (as of December 2010). Paul's also writing the current run on Legion of Super-Heroes, which demonstrates he still has the magic when it comes to plotting, even after a "break" in writing to...y' DC Comics in one capacity or another for many years.

The class ran for two hours on Monday night and was standing room only. Chairs had to be added to the back of the room as Paul got started. Clearly, Joe and I weren't the only ones interested in hearing Paul's thoughts on writing. In fact, almost the entire front row was packed with Comics Experience colleagues who had traveled from Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York to hear Paul speak--including Janine Frederick, Bill Yurkas, and Dan Rivera. (Pictured above, Joe Sergi, in front of Jim Hanley's Universe. It was so cold that even the Silver Surfer in the window had on a coat!)

Paul explained that he'd be providing five tools that we could use to improve and organize our own writing, specifically with regard to plotting, and he delivered! From beat sheets to discussing how he flow charts his multi-issue story arcs, we heard from a master on how to plan out our stories. I walked away with a lot of ideas, and some personal homework, that I'll definitely be applying to my own writing.

Paul was also very gracious (and patient) in answering many questions from the audience, even after class ended. And at least one attendee had brought the 20-pound 75 Years of DC Comics book for Paul to sign; an idea I'd briefly entertained...before thinking about the toll of dragging that monster tome throughout a 19-hour, multi-state trek.

Having seen Paul speak about writing both at a panel at NYCC and at MoCCA, I can highly recommend his class for aspiring comic book writers. Paul is also apparently teaching courses at colleges in the NYC area, so if you live nearby, you should check them out!

On the personal front, my whole time in NYC was a blast. Joe and I had lunch with Bill Yurkas at Island Burgers & Shakes, then we did a geek tour of the city for a couple hours, hitting the new Disney Story, Jim Hanley's Universe, Forbidden Planet, and Strand Bookstore, before meeting the remainder of our Comics Experience crew (including Comics Experience alum and Zenescope artist, DaFu Yu) for dinner. Our initial dinner spot turned out to be closed for a private party, but after a rather frigid trek in search of food, we still had a great time catching up with everyone. I'm already looking forward to the next time I'll be in NYC!

-- Rob Anderson

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Capicons Show - Panda Dog Press

Panda Dog Press and Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit writer/publisher Rob Anderson will be appearing December 5, 2010 at the Capicons Comic Book & Pop Culture Show in Dun Loring, Virginia.

Come by the Panda Dog Press table to check out the Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit Preview available at a special convention price! We hope to see you there!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

NC Comicon 2010 - Panda Dog Press Report

Rob Anderson and Panda Dog Press attended the first-ever two day NC Comicon on November 13-14, and we can't thank everyone enough for the warm reception we received from folks all around the Raleigh-Durham-Morrisville-Chapel Hill area. We had a great time showing off the Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit Preview!

The NC Comicon is held in the Morrisville Outlet Mall, with the dealer room, artists' alley, and the panel rooms each in what was once stores in the mall. In the picture on the right, taken through the glass windows, you can see a bit of artists' alley before it opened one morning.

While we've never done a show inside an outlet mall, it actually turned out great! Folks who entered artists' alley were very focused on meeting creators and trying out new things, and the mall location led to some walkthrough traffic...not to mention there was a food court right around the corner. We've never attended a convention where such a high percentage of folks mentioned it being their first comic convention ever. We enjoyed the location and the crowd, and traffic was steady throughout most of both days.

As always, a big highlight of the show was getting to catch up with old friends and meet fellow comic creators. Over the course of the convention, Rob had the pleasure of catching meals or drinks with a bunch of folks, including: Chris Flick (Capes & Babes); Nathan Edmondson (The Light and Who is Jake Ellis from Image); Scott Wegener and his charming wife (Atomic Robo and Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes); Andy Kuhn (Firebreather, soon to be on the Cartoon Network!); Bridgit Scheide (The Kindle, Brother Nash); John Hartness (author of the cool geeks turned vampire detectives novel, Hard Day's Night); and Gabriel Dunston (creator of the webcomic Pit of Despair). Booth neighbor Gabe gets a special shout-out for actually selling copies of our Animal Control SCU Preview on two occasions when Rob momentarily stepped out of the booth -- thanks, Gabe! You're a natural!

I also had the chance to meet Jameson Lee of The Daily P.O.P., who was nice enough to check out the Preview book, and posted a nice review here. Thanks, Jameson!

Thanks to NC Comicon for putting on a fun show. We definitely plan to return to the convention next year.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NC Comicon 2010 - Panda Dog Press

Panda Dog Press and Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit writer/publisher Rob Anderson will be appearing at the NC Comicon this weekend, November 13-14, 2010.

Rob will have copies of the Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit Preview available at a special convention price. Just come by the Panda Dog Press table!

You can see samples of the Preview book by clicking here. It contains 3 complete stories, introducing you to the Animal Control: SCU universe (including a special back-up story featuring the elusive Panda Dog).

This will be Rob's first time at the NC Comicon--he's really looking forward to it--so please don't be shy! Stop by and chat with Rob about Animal Control: SCU, Comics Experience writing classes, the Comic Creators Workshop (where Rob is on the staff)--or anything else!

We hope to see you there!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Animal Control SCU Reviewed on Secret Identity Podcast!

We're happy to report there's a new audio review of the Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit Preview over on the much loved Secret Identity Podcast! Matt "Matman" Herring was kind enough to give the Preview a rating of "5 out of 5 whizzing Pandas" -- THANK YOU, MATT!

Rob Anderson had the pleasure of hanging out with Matt at the 2010 Baltimore Comic-Con and most recently at New York Comic-Con, where the Secret Identity Podcast was a sponsor of the great Indy After Party hosted at Blaggards Pub. Rob had a great time at the party (thanks, guys!), and was suitably impressed that both Matt and co-host Brian LeTendre have been drawn into a LOT of comics...including Jonah Hex # 34, with art by Mark Sparacio. How cool is that?

If that wasn't enough, the Secret Identity Podcast also did a nice write-up on Comics Experience in their 10/27/2010 news post and then chatted about all the cool things happening--from the Comic Creators Workshop to the new Comics Experience Facebook page--in Episode #279 as well!

Episode #279 of The Secret Identity Podcast discusses Comics Experience at the 19:36 mark, and Animal Control SCU is reviewed at 40:35. Check out the whole episode!

Click here for Secret Identity Podcast, Episode #279!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

NYCC 2010 - Panda Dog Press Report

Rob Anderson, Panda Dog Press publisher, and writer of Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit, attended the New York Comic Con on October 8 - 10, 2010. Here's his report:

I made my first ever trip to the NYCC this past weekend -- what a blast! I had decided after Baltimore Comic-Con that this was a trip I *had* to make, so it was somewhat short notice, and I was only able to pull it off due to willingness of my Comics Experience friends to allow me to join in on the Elevator Pitch Press booth at the last minute.

Pictured below -- all Comics Experience alums -- are (left to right): Jim Moore (with his back turned!), Eric Drumm, Rob Anderson (me!), Joe Sergi, Dan Rivera, George O'Connor, and Richard P. Clark (in front). Other Comics Experience/Creators Workshop folks in attendance (not pictured) included Janine and Ken Frederick, Kevin Byrne, Elizabeth Amber, George Northy, Josh Wigler and Bill Yurkas.

Hanging out in the Elevator Pitch Press booth gave me a home base for the convention to: (1) network with publishers and other creators; (2) hang with my friends from Comics Experience courses and the CE Creators Workshop; and (3) sell some copies of Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit. On all fronts, the convention was a success!

The Exhibit Hall, Artists' Alley, and even the Anime Artists' Alley were as packed as you've heard. Saturday it was as hard to move in the Exhibit Hall as San Diego Comic-Con. Personal highlights for me included meeting Jim Valentino, attending several excellent panels--most I attended were organized by Buddy Scalera, who did a *great* job--and just networking in general with friends new and old.

Also, a huge highlight was doing a video interview with Pete LePage of Newsarama and the popular Tuesday night talk show Comic Book Club. We chatted a bit about Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit -- and then Pete did another interview with Elevator Pitch Press colleague and a pro artist in his own right, Richard P. Clark. I don't have any pictures of my own interview, but at left is a shot of Rich being interviewed by Pete. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Pete!

Yet another highlight was getting to catch up in person with Comics Experience founder and fearless leader, Andy Schmidt, and co-Moderator of the CE Creators Workshop, John Barber. Andy, working his day job as Senior Editor at IDW, was completely *swamped* doing portfolio reviews on Saturday. I walked the line, which wrapped halfway around the massive IDW booth, and there were more than 50+ hopeful artists waiting patiently. Some of those folks need to come check out Andy's CE Creators Workshop!

Like SDCC, NYCC is worth the trip. Nowhere else -- on the East Coast at least -- will you see such a spectacle centered around comic books and popular culture. I plan to return next year, perhaps with a full-blown Panda Dog Press booth!

-- Rob Anderson

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Rob Anderson at New York Comic Con!

Visit Rob Anderson, Panda Dog Press publisher, and writer of Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit, at the New York Comic Con this weekend, October 8th - 10th.

Rob will be in the Elevator Pitch Press booth -- #542 -- hanging out with his friends from Comics Experience. Come by to chat with Rob about Animal Control: SCU, Comics Experience and the CE Creators Workshop, or about making comics in general.

And, of course, Rob will have copies of the Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit Preview on hand for those who haven't yet picked up their copy.

Come on by and say hello!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Exploring the Multiverse (ETM) Podcast Interview

During the 2010 Baltimore Comic-Con, Panda Dog Press Publisher/Writer, Rob Anderson, had the pleasure of being interviewed by Victor from the Exploring the Multiverse (ETM) podcast. This was Rob's first "video" podcast interview, and he had a great time chatting about Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit, the Comics Experience Creators Workshop, mixed martial arts, and important issues such as which way toilet paper should come off the roll! (Over in the front, as if you didn't know.)

Check out Rob's interview at the 14 minute mark, right between the Jeff Parker and Mark Waid interviews.

Thanks, Victor and ETM!

Check out the interview here:
ETM Podcast Episode #36 -- Baltimore Comic Con '10 Part 2

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Baltimore Comic-Con 2010 - Panda Dog Press Report

Baltimore Comic-Con, the second stop for Panda Dog Press in 2010, was an absolute blast. We want to send a huge THANK YOU to everyone who stopped by our table and picked up the Preview issue of Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit. We had so MUCH fun chatting with each and every one of you, and once again we were pleasantly surprised by the wide diversity of our new friends -- men, women, couples, families, and fans of all ages. And we greatly appreciated how many of you Baltimore Comic-Con attendees were willing to try something new. You kept us busy and engaged the whole weekend -- it went by far too fast!

When you're creating a new, self-published comic, you're working in a bit of a vacuum -- and while feedback from fellow creators in places like the Comics Experience Creators Workshop help with your craft -- you really don't know how readers will react until you get your book into their hands. So, we appreciate your smiles and enthusiasm as you checked out the book. We thank those of you who bought the book on Saturday and returned the next day with your thoughts. And we have loved receiving your emails, tweets, etc., since the con ended. Please keep it up -- your feedback (and support) keep us going!

Here are just a few pictures of folks who stopped by:

In hindsight, the convention was a great success, but it got off to a rocky start before we left the driveway on Friday. Fumble-fingers Rob managed to drop his ancient iPhone while packing the car and suddenly it would only take pictures like the one shown below.

This was followed by a drive in traffic that should have been around 3 hours -- but took about 5 hours. Once we arrived at the Hyatt and got out to the beautiful Inner Harbor, though, things were looking up. We had a nice dinner by the water, although it ended with the waitress at the sushi place literally spraying Grace's white blouse with red wine. Yikes. We hit the sack hoping things would go smoother on Saturday.

By the time we got to the convention center the next morning, the line was already building, and set-up went off without a hitch. In fact, the entire convention seemed extremely well-organized. Our compliments to Marc Nathan, Brad Tree, Chris McClelland, and the whole Baltimore Comic-Con crew.

As the doors opened on Saturday, the crowds seemed very strong in Artists Alley. Traffic and sales were great, and we were also excited to catch up with friends new and old.

We had a pretty large contingent of Comics Experience folks in attendance at Baltimore, including Rob Anderson, Joe Sergi, Dan Rivera, Janine and Ken Frederick, Neil Fisher, and Elizabeth Amber. Many of us were able to attend a Comics Experience dinner at P.F. Chang's on Saturday night, before hitting both the Pratt Street Alehouse (where we sadly failed to connect with other friends we were trying to find) and then, later, the Hyatt Bar, at least until the bar was shut down due to "noise issues."

The Comics Experience network has truly become a "family," and the whole weekend convinced Rob that he HAS to attend NYCC this year as part of the contingent manning the Elevator Pitch Press booth. We're looking to have a CROWD of Comics Experience alums in NYC! Here's a pic of the gang from dinner, including "significant others" Catherine and Grace:

In the midst of all the excitement at the con, Rob managed to do two interviews: an audio interview with Matman of the Secret Identity Podcast, as well as Rob's first-ever video interview with Victor of the Exploring the Multiverse (ETM) Podcast on Sunday. Both Matt and Victor could not have been nicer, and Rob really enjoyed these chats on everything from Jonah Hex to which way the toilet paper roll is supposed to dispense according to Jeff Parker. (ha) We'll post separate links to these interviews as soon as they're up!

On the convention floor, our next door neighbor was our good friend, Chris Flick, of Capes and Babes. As always, we enjoyed hanging with Chris and getting to see his hilarious commissions. We were also happy to catch Chris for dinner Sunday night along with fellow Comics Experience alum and exhibitor at the show, Joe Sergi, author of the novel Sky Girl. Below are pictures of Chris and Rob, and Joe Sergi with a reader/fellow comics creator (sorry I didn't get down your name!) who stopped by the Panda Dog Press table:

Another big highlight of the show for us was meeting our neighbors, the hugely talented Chinese artist, Daxiong, as well as the folks assisting him in the booth, Ms. Chen, and his manager, Michael. Daxiong has only been in the United States for about two years after being arrested for his work and beliefs and suffering persecution in China.

Rob enjoyed hearing Grace conversing with our neighbors in Mandarin throughout the weekend. As Daxiong said, it was clearly fate that we were placed next to each other. And it was our great fortune that Daxiong is such a generous man. Check out the stunning "sketch" of a dragon that he did for Grace. We're lucky to have Daxiong here in the United States now and we hope to see him and his crew at future conventions. If you happen to be at a show where he's appearing, you MUST check out his work! You can view a news story on Daxiong and the Baltimore Con (from a Baltimore Fox affiliate) by clicking here: Daxiong at Baltimore Comic-Con. Pictured below is Daxiong's Dragon sketch, as well as a photo of Grace with the gang:

We were also able to catch up with our friend, Tom Hutchinson at Big Dog Ink, whose crew was rocking a booth this year promoting their books Critter, Penny for your Soul, and the new Ned the Chainsaw Guy. We picked up a number of their new books and can't wait to dig in. By all accounts, Big Dog Ink is off to a great start!

And right next door to BDI was our friend from Twitter, Tyler James, also with a booth promoting the launch of his new title Epic. Tyler has been dispensing great advice via his Comic-Related column, appearances on podcasts, and via Twitter and we feel like we've "known" him for a while, so it was great to finally meet him in the real world. Plus, he did a great Panda Dog sketch card for us -- what a guy! Tyler occasionally offers free sketch cards to folks who follow him prior to a convention, so make sure to get him on your Twitter friends list and look for him at his next appearance!

In the end, the Baltimore Comic-Con was a big success for us. And we stuck around a bit to enjoy Baltimore afterwards. Grace and Rob were able to visit the Geppi Entertainment Museum for the first time, visit the historic Basilica church and the National Aquarium, and tour a US Navy LSD ship -- that had a HUGE 25mm gun, named in honor of the Man of Steel.

Thanks for everything, Baltimore! We plan to be back next year!

-- Rob & Grace