Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mega Man Dreams

Every so often in our careers, we get to be a part of something nostalgic or special to us that we're proud of. I have friends who have officially written comics based on tv shows they loved, adapted favorite childhood books to comics, or contributed art to trading cards based on a beloved movie franchise. This story isn't quite as encompassing as those, but I'm really proud of it nonetheless.
As a kid in the 80's plugged in to his NES, I loved the Mega Man games. My first exposure was when a babysitter of mine brought over the first game. She explained the rock-scissors-paper mechanics and I was happy to sit and watch her blast through the various Robot Masters (You could battle them in any order you wanted! It was AMAZING!). She was stuck forever battling - and losing to - Ice Man and thought for sure that he would melt under the fire weapon. I remember suggesting that maybe electricity would work instead, and the rest was history.
But the games aren't really what this is about. Just after college, I discovered the existence of Mega Man (or rather, Rockman) manga that existed in Japan. Like most dorks, I'm careless with money and saw it fit to purchase whatever volumes I could find, mostly on eBay. And no, I couldn't read a word of them. But I didn't have to! I knew the stories and the artwork was fun enough for me to follow along and wish like crazy that I had had comics like these when I was a kid. I hated the Captain N and Mega Man cartoon versions of the blue bomber. I always thought they were made by people who didn't know what Mega Man was, or just didn't care. But these comics seemed more true to Rock's roots and I got a thrill out of them. Then I discovered Hitoshi Ariga.
Ariga was creating Rockman manga based on more or less original stories rather than strictly following the plots, thin as they were, outlined in the games. He infused the tiny flashes of light on the screen with personalities and motives and generally expanded the entire world of Mega Man into a wonderful comic universe that even someone unfamiliar with the games could enjoy. I remember being totally jazzed when Ariga embellished the original six Robot Masters. In the first game, the story claims that they were creations of good Dr. Light, stolen and reprogrammed by villainous Dr. Wily. Rather than have Mega Man merely blast them to smithereens, Ariga has Mega Man free his brothers who go on to form a kind of heroic super fighting robot team!
It was at the MoCCA Artfest that I totally by chance happened to meet Jim Zubkavich. Both of us were working on our own mini comics and both of us had some interest in videogame comics. At the time, the first Lifemeter anthology I had helped edit came out. Jim, however, was the project manager at Udon Entertainment. It wasn't long before we were talking Capcom and Mega Man. And in a heartbeat, I was talking about Ariga and his loose, infectious style.
Jim gave me a bit of a hush-hush wink. “It looks like we may be getting the Mega Man license soon.”
“You've got to see these books.” I said. Jim, himself one of the biggest and most genuine fans of games, comics, art and Mega Man I have ever met, was interested and told me to send him the covers and whatever information I had on them. I think it was the first thing I did when I got home.
Weeks, months, YEARS went by! I would often see Jim at other conventions and he would talk about successfully getting the license to Mega Man. Then he would let me in on all the red tape to cut through getting the books and the rights to publish them officially in North America. It was slow going, like most thing in publishing are. But it was exciting knowing that each time we met, I was a little closer to holding the books and being able to read them on my own.
Sure enough, in 2009, the first volume of Mega Man Megamix by Hitoshi Ariga and published by Udon was released. As I understand it, the books have been doing well and the Mega Man fan community is pleased to finally have them official and in English. The lettering, translation and localization are all stellar. This year, I even received this amazing piece of original artwork of my favorite Robot Master sent to me by Jim from the hand of Hitoshi Ariga himself.

And, if you look in the back of each volume of Megamix, there is a list of thank yous. At the bottom of the list, past all of the Japanese names of folks who actually did something, is my name. It's a small thing and yet one that I am really excited by. It makes me proud to have my name attached to something I've loved since boyhood in a small way.

Mega Man Megamix volume 3 was released on November 17, 2010 and would make an amazing holiday gift for any fan of the Blue Bomber!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Con Wisdom #1

Since about 2005, I've been hitting various comic and anime conventions as an exhibitor, and as an attendee for a few years before that. Conventions are something I really enjoy doing. It lets me travel, see friends, and meet all sorts of new people in the industry. Plus, there are worse ways to spend a weekend than making a little cash from selling your work! Con-going has been essential to my career and it will be for yours, too.
Now, I've seen a lot of tables and con-goers and exhibitors while in the trenches. Some of it good, some of it really, really off-putting, all of it from either in front of or behind the table. So, I thought I would throw together a rather ad-hoc list of tips and tricks for your next comic show! It's a really simple bullet-list for exhibiting, and is in no way complete or a primer for such a thing. Although it might be a step in that direction. So, without further ado...

- If you don't talk to them, they won't talk to you. When people come to the table, I usually say hello. Say hi. Acknowledge their presence. For goodness' sake SMILE! It's a big turn-off to visit a table and feel like you're intruding or interrupting or are otherwise not welcome. But-

- Don't make your epic comic sales-pitch unless you are asked or unless it is DAMN SHORT. Really. Going to a table and automatically receiving an impassioned dissertation on why I should read your comic is kind of a red flag. If I want to know, I'll ask. Otherwise, I feel like you're pushing it on me and at best, I will be listening out of politeness, not interest. Now, if you can give me an idea of what your comic's about in a sentence, then go for it. But use your judgment. To that end-

- Avoid cute pitches or calling out to people unless you actually are charming and welcoming and a good people-person. And chances are, you're not. At San Diego Comic-Con, a friend and I were wandering the floor. While idly passing a table, a voice rang out "Hey! You guys like dark comedy?" My friend responded, "Yes, but I hate a hard sell." and we kept walking.

- Remember, there is a direct correlation between the quality of work and how hard someone hustles. I have never bought a comic because a freebie or flier was shoved under my nose.

- Freebies: To sample or Not to sample? A lot of people think logically, that offering a free sample of their comic will draw folks in. And it will. But honestly, 9 times out of 10, that's all they'll take. Postcards, fliers, and bookmarks are all okay for free promotion I think. And people do take them to legitimately remember a comic that they either don't have the time or money to purchase on the spot. But free comics or previews are tougher. First off, that's your main work and it should be of value. In my experience, when someone gets something for free, that is exactly what it is worth to them.

- Don't put out a bowl of candy. It's a lame ploy and disingenuous. I can think of exactly one example where I've seen a bowl of candy that was acceptable and relevant to the rest of the table. Unless you're that person, don't do it.

- Think about your display and placing interesting items out. Figures, cut-outs, relevant objects; they can all be useful in attracting people to the table. This is especially true when 95% of what 95% of the people are selling at these cons are rectangular and flat. But be prudent! Having a lot of junk out will minimize your table's real estate and, worse, will visually overwhelm your visitors. Also, think twice about fragile or precious items. You can put up as many signs as you want, but they WILL be handled.

- Commissions? If you want to do commissions or not, it's your choice. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. But I've found it very helpful to display sizes and prices. 9 out of 10 folks will know they want a drawing, but not in which format. Having predetermined sizes and prices will help both of you out immensely. And, you can always negotiate other types of commissions if the case arises. Also-

- Don't take commissions you can't finish! Granted, this may or may not apply to you based on your schedule or work ethic. But if you're anything like me (and I know I am) a take-home commission will get finished 9 months to a year after the con has ended. Yuck.

Well! That was a decent start! granted, I think this list focused on what NOT to do. But in a future Con Wisdom, I promise to rely more heavily on the great things you SHOULD do! Also, feel free to comment with any thoughts you might have. My list here is based purely on my own experience, which is the only experience I have. Til next time!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Grune #2 is available!

  For those of you who couldn't make it to MoCCA this year, Grune #2 is now available to you, too!

  Grune #2 continues the story started in Grune #1. A comatose monster is taken prisoner by three traveling refugees. But things take an unexpected twist in a massive Monster vs. Monster fight!

Grune #2 is 16 pages and includes a back cover by the great and mighty Miss Monster!
$4, includes shipping.
PS- To those who preordered Grune #2, your books will be shipping out next week!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Varli loves to dress herself in dark, moody attire, but her personality could not be farther away. Varli is an eternal optimist who loves flowers, animals and cloudwatching. She can come off as innocent and naive - unusual traits for those in a time of war.
Varli is originally from the Peryton Clan. She was kidnapped by agents of the Forty Witches for unknown reasons and traded to a battalion of grune warriors in exchange for a different high-profile prisoner. There, she met a captured Dhaledan warrior named Gilda. Thankfully, the two were rescued by Rolan and have been traveling with him ever since.
Varli's past and status in the Peryton Clan is a secret to her friends, but is primarily the reason she was kidnapped in the first place.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Gilda is a spirited (to put it nicely) warrior from the Dhaledan Clan. After a few false starts, she was finally accepted into the Sisterhood - the Dhaledan's caste of women fighters. Tragically, her squad - Hand of the Dusky Maiden - was slaughtered in a grune ambush. She was the only survivor and was taken prisoner. Because of her relatively young age and the loss of her Sisters, she has yet to receive her traditional Dhaledan tattoos. She was rescued, along with the Peryton girl Varli, by Rolan. She is still ashamed of that incident.
Gilda is short and squat, like a miniature tank. She has an abundance of energy which she expends by fighting and working out. She is powerful, sarcastic and has a temper, but is a valuable asset to anyone in a fight. Provided she's on the same side, that is.
You can pick up the first issue of Grune here!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Charlie Dog

I've always been attracted to obscure and lesser-known cartoon characters. I'm not sure what it is. Maybe it's the idea that since a lot of people don't know them, they were made just for me.

One such character is Charlie Dog. Charlie was a homeless hound constantly on the scent of a new home. He was created by Bob Clampett as a sort of Pluto to Porky Pig's Mickey.

In the late 40's - early 50's, Charlie was retooled and revised by Chuck Jones. Something I love about Chuck Jones' designs and animation is that his characters have weight. They feel heavy and feel like they have a structure underneath. Watching Charlie in motion, you can tell that his ears have muscles keeping them up and alert.

Charlie starred in just seven cartoons. As the Fifties rolled on, Chuck Jones became more interested in his own cartoon creations such as Wile E. Coyote and Pepe Le Pew. Charlie was essentially Bugs Bunny without the smarm. Even his voice affected the same sort of Brooklyn accent, although as seen in the cartoon above, he clearly had a gift for mimicry.* The dog was just as self-serving as every other member of the Loony Tunes stable, though it's somehow more forgivable since all he seems to want is a home. It's just too bad that his own zeal is what seems to hamper his chances at success.
I'm not sure exactly what it is about Charlie's design that I like so much. It could be the fact that he seems to embody a sort of "every-dog". He's not a particular breed - he has a long tail, long ears, a big brown nose - traits that might seem awfully basic and boring for a cartoon dog. And yet he feels like a classic mutt, a sort of visceral representation of man's best friend.
I'm not sure if Charlie ever found a home. He might still be out wandering the great U.S. of A. even as we speak, living off his wits until the day he can relax and finally enjoy his tender vittles. Which to me, sounds like a terrific comic story! I'd draw that.

* Mel Blanc claimed to have the ability to do more voices than Wilt Chamberlain had sexual partners. But listening to Charlie versus Bugs... eh, you decide.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Coover and Quenton Pratcho

Hey! Isn't that Coover (from Novasett) and his sister Quenton (from Echidna)? Oh wait. Some of you haven't met Quenton, yet. She gets along well enough with her big brother, but she knows he's a weirdo. And given that he's so smart and went off to the Academy and everything, well... it can be annoying being in someone's shadow.
The sketches above are by Jessica Luong, who will be drawing a story for Novasett #5!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Great Grune #2 Pre-Order!

In a few scant months, con season will be upon us, and that means the April release of GRUNE #2! Since I'm pretty busy these days, I've begun work on the story early to have it in time for back-to-back cons Anime Boston and MoCCA. For the first issue of Grune, I had a very successful fundraiser to cover the printing and shipping costs. This time, I'm going to try a little (similar) experiment with preorders!

Preorders for GRUNE #2 will be $5. This gets you a copy of the issue with a little sketch inside. And, it'll ship ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD! The more preorders I get, the more books I can print. And issue 2 will be nearly double the size of issue 1!

For those who missed it, GRUNE is the story of three wayward travelers who happen upon a near-catatonic beast whom they take prisoner.

Preorder GRUNE #2 below for $5.00 US (includes s&h). It will drop in April.

Grune #2 Pre-Order $5 US

If you missed out on the first issue of GRUNE and would like to preorder #2, now's your chance! And you save money! $7.00 (includes s&h)
Grune #1 and #2 Pre-Order $7US
GRUNE #1 individually is still in stock, along with many other fine comics HERE!

This chance to pre-order and receive a sketch will only be until FEBRUARY 15! Thanks in advance and if you like Grune, tell your friends! Please repost, retweet, re-whatever!

Obligatory Introductory Postery

Hello! My name is Zack Giallongo and I am an artist. I make lots of comics and drawings. Currently, I'm working on my mini-comics series Novasett Island and Grune. I'm also working on a graphic novel called Broxo which will be published by First Second in 2011. In my spare time, I've been lettering some great graphic novels for kids and doing sketch cards for Topps' many card sets, mostly Star Wars. I'm hoping this blog will be a nice place to post my artwork, my upcoming projects, and some general posts about art, design and storytelling. Hope you enjoy it!