Friday, May 9

The Subterranean: The Movie

The Subterranean was written to be a two hour movie (see trailer below). Dialog is pithy if not sparse and the images do most of the talking. I divided the story into five 30 page segments and have the first three comics completed. The last two episodes are as catastrophic and unexpected as those who enjoyed Cypher would demand (see the Cypher blog here). SubT is a different world than Cypher but I fused the same bizarre sensibility with the superhero genre. Here is the logline for a SubT movie (spoiler alert):

A scientist forced underground by the murder of his wife battles to avenge her and save New York City as former colleagues launch the world's largest bank robbery under the guise of a terrorist attack.

Episode One is an origin story and a few readers complained they see the hero in full battle regalia in only one frame. Such critique is accurate but I felt compelled to flesh out the origin in a vintage style rather than abbreviating the story according to modern convention.

Episode Two introduces Max Jeffries who is an amalgamation of many hero archetypes. Readers suspected he was going to be a sidekick to The Subterranean. But he transcends such a narrow role and his character is fully developed in issues 4 and 5 with some surprising twists.

Episode Three heats up the action to a pre-climax boil. The villains are introduced–twins cast in the light of vintage comics and B Action Movies. I plead guilty to using apparent stereotypes on occasion but only to give more contrast to relationships in the final crescendo of the story. It's an unconventional approach but provides a harmonious, familiar world to overturn.

Regarding the motivation of the Thanatos Brothers I can only say that it isn't what you're thinking. And yes, in the tradition of Cypher, thanatos is Greek for death.

Stay tuned.

Brad Teare–May 2012

Saturday, August 31

Subterranean Posters!!!

Subterranean posterA friend of a friend is having a table at the Salt Lake City Comicon and he wants to sell Subterranean Posters. They'll be going for $20 a piece and I have one of each cover of #1 to #3. He will also be giving out SubT cards so you can have easy access to either the free iTunes editions (for iPhone or iPad) or the free comics on Amazon (for Kindle and Kindle Fire). A display copy of The Subterranean #1 will also be there for you to thumb through. Hope you enjoy it.

The Subterranean Poster #1 is $15 plus $5 shipping and is printed on quality canvas. Very cool!

I only printed up a very limited supply so first come, first serve. The SLC Comicon is shaping up to be a first class event with over 25,000 participants already registered. I'm going to try to be there Friday around noon. See you then!

Brad Teare August 2013

Tuesday, August 6

Paper vs. digital

IN a recent conversation with a friend and fellow comics enthusiast I realized that the digital revolution has its limitations. As much as I'm enamored with digital publishers such as Graphicly, which posts digital comics on sites such as Amazon and Kobo, after a year of selling digitally I feel that more than ever comic collectors love paper comics.

Recently I've been reading the collected works of Iron Man Vol.1 by Stan Lee and Don Heck. If you are interested in taking a trip down memory lane I can't recommend a better volume. The stories are to the point, often humorously cheesy, and fun as heck (in the tradition of Stan Lee, pun intended).

The stories are delightful but more importantly they reminded me what I love about comics. The stories are succinct but take the time necessary to develop the characters. There are the usual abbreviations, some call them cliches, that move the stories along at a crisp pace. There are no predictable fight scenes nor over-the-top imagery for the sake of visual pyrotechnics. In fact most panels are quite sparse. Whether the characters are off model or not seems relatively unimportant. Upon finishing the volume I wondered if I would have enjoyed it as much in a digital format.

Ultimately it's hard to imagine a true comics aficionado choosing a digital format over paper. Would hardcore fine art collectors find a digital image of paintings by Da Vinci and Van Gogh satisfying? Or would they prefer original art hanging on their walls even if by lesser talents? Just as paintings are best appreciated as tactile, physical objects so too are comics best enjoyed as tangible, collectible books. The more an entertainment is appreciated for its graphic quality the less people will be willing to only consume such entertainment as a digital product. Digital comics seems severed from too many aspects of the aesthetic experience.

When this light bulb went on I realized why The Subterranean project might be stumbling. According to downloads readers are undoubtedly enjoying it but until it is offered as a physical comic I feel SubT will not enjoy maximum success.

The ideal expression of the Subterranean would be a traditional comics format, sometimes referred to as floppies. Each of the five stories are 30 pages and I would want them printed on acid-free newsprint in harmony with the stylistic theme of the project. Such editions would be an ideal vehicle to take to Comicon, or similar venues, in order to attract maximum attention.

If any of you have alternative opinions, sources for printers, or other relevant ideas I hope you will add them to the comments. Many thanks.

Brad Teare August 2013

Sunday, January 20

Comics on Blurb

I WAS ENTHUSED TO DISCOVER that Blurb Books, the on-demand book publisher, created a new category of on-demand products; the magazine. I thought this would be a good way to try on-demand publishing without breaking the bank. I downloaded the plug-in for InDesign and quickly reformatted my comic for Blurb. The Subterranean was originally formatted for Amazon and is slightly taller and had no bleeds from what Blurb required so I reconfigured the faded paper texture (to give that vintage look). The gutter is also wider than is traditional but I thought the positioning on the page was a good compromise and provided an optimized image. It might seem oversized but I won't really know until I get my hard copy. I can then re-upload the file with revisions to get the scaling right.

I thought the price of $12 was ridiculous for a 30 page comic. Even if every aspect of the publication is premium the price makes the effort of publishing nothing more than an experiment. When I went to buy it and check out I discovered that in addition to the high price I had to pay $8 for shipping! In my estimation absolutely no one will pay that kind of shipping for so few pages.

So what good is Blurb? It is of no use as an actual publisher unless they can get their prices down. The only other use is as a portfolio publisher. In other words, if you were going to a comic convention it might be handy to have an actual hardcopy of your comic to show potential publishers. I am planning on making a book of my fine art paintings to send to my galleries as a promotional piece. I can envision a few hardcore collectors wanting to purchase the book, but again, the price will be so high it will prohibit any large scale sales.

Until Blurb can get their prices down they will only exist as a vanity publishing house. But hey, I fell for it. When I went to check out I was informed I could buy an additional copy for $5. The price seemed relatively cheap so I jumped on it. It was only later that I remembered I had never paid $5 for a comic in my life. I had been successfully upsold on my own comic.

Although I am glad to see this business in the early stages of its evolution on-demand publishing has a long way to go before I will be impressed with either their sales techniques or their business model.

Brad Teare

Monday, January 14

Books for Illustrators

OVER THE YEARS I've accumulated quite a few books about illustration. I thought I would list some of the best and the reasons why you may want to acquire them, too.

A book I bought early in my career that helped me a lot with construction of the figure was How to Draw the Marvel Way. It was my touchstone during my years animating The Incredible Hulk (I worked on it in 1982) and The Amazing Spiderman. Get this book if you need more information and inspiration on how to construct the human form. Don't be put off if you are not interested in drawing comics, the construction principles are sound no matter what kind of drawing style you practice  You can get this book used for $4.75 which is a pretty good deal considering the amount of information you get.

Another book if you need more information about human anatomy is Burne Hogarth's Dynamic Anatomy. This is a great book if you're looking for a systematic way to render the human form especially the feet and hands (which were always a problem for me). Aesthetically, I'm not a huge fan of Burne Hogarth's more illustrative style in these books but don't let that get in the way of learning from this well thought out book.

Drawing wrinkles on constructed figures was a difficult problem for me in my early days. I once had the opportunity to ask Burne Hogarth how he drew wrinkles when I drove him to the airport during a Dallas-Fort Worth science-fiction fantasy convention. He replied that if you knew the figure well enough wrinkles were a no-brainer. This was not a very satisfying answer and I assumed I didn't know the figure well enough. However, a few years later he published his book Dynamic Wrinkles and Drapery. I flatter myself to think I planted the seed that led to this great book. Again, I'm not a huge fan of Burne's style but once you understand his theory on how to render wrinkles you won't have any problems with them again. If you draw from imagination and are struggling with wrinkles this book is a must have. Thank you Burne for your amazing contribution to comics! I do love Burne's Tarzan series. His comics have a fluidity and grace that his more didactic anatomy drawings lacked.

If you are searching for an overview of the basics of illustration there is no better book than James Gurney's Imaginative Realism. Not only is James one of America's great illustrators he knows how to articulate artistic principles in a manner that is easily understood. I used his methods when I was creating the previsualization drawings and maquettes for The Subterranean.

If you find yourself wanting to delve deeper into aspects of form, light, and shadow a great book is James Gurney's sequel Color and Light. One reviewer said this is the book that will teach you what you should have learned in art school. It's filled with fascinating theory and technique you won't find elsewhere. Gurney's keen intellect and roving curiosity have served artists well. If you need a daily dose of Gurney's insights be sure to visit his always fascinating blog Gurney Journey. Use the search feature to ferret out the information you need. Jim has written about almost every artistic subject imaginable.

I will add more to this list as more books come to mind.

Brad Teare 14 January 2013

Wednesday, November 14

The therapeutic value of comics

DUE TO A RECENT operation on my knee I haven't been blogging much. I did mention that creativity and energy levels are intertwined. My surgery tends to prove that to be true.

While recovering I indulged myself and purchased several comic book collections. One of my favorites was the Batman collection, volume 1, by Neal Adams. Not only is Adams an amazing draftsman but his sense of staging is highly entertaining. I got a lot of great ideas for the upcoming Subterranean comic. Adams really pushes perspective and camera angles and has a very cinematic approach.  In the upcoming Subterranean you'll see a panel inspired by Adams that is a silhouette in which you only see the glow of The Subterranean's goggles. Adams really expanded comics' visual syntax. I highly recommend studying his work.

Another great volume was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Gary Gianni. It has a subtle steampunk vibe and is rendered in a beautiful woodcut-like technique somewhat akin to Franklin Booth or Bernie Wrightson. Gianni's staging is a bit more conventional, as you might expect, and yet he keeps the pages lively with a strong sense of design. The main thing I learned from Gianni is just simply to go for it and have fun with drawing. Scratchboard technique can be time-consuming but it is also very powerful.

Another inspiration was Paul Chadwick's Concrete, volume 1, entitled Depths. Chadwick has a unique visual style using lots of black to lead the eye through each page. His storytelling style is unique as well and I really enjoyed the rich narrative. You can read most comics in a matter of minutes, generally under an hour. Not so with this volume. Chadwick packs in a lot of storytelling entertainment. I picked up some ideas from Chadwick as well. You will see in the upcoming Subterranean #4 a series of very small panels depicting the seismic oscillators placed around New York City. I got the idea from one of Chadwick's pages that had 30 small pantomime panels. I found the sequence quite intriguing. I highly recommend studying Concrete for it's excellent story telling as well its fascinating fusion of art and the written word.

I was introduced to comics as a young child when my father brought home a large volume of classic comics, mostly Superman and Batman, while I was recovering from the mumps. Having a few volumes of comics on my nightstand while I recovered from surgery was a nostalgic experience for me. My doctor says I'm making a rapid recovery. Perhaps comics have therapeutic value.

Brad Teare 14 November 2012

Tuesday, October 23

SubT # 2 now FREE!!!

For a limited time the Subterranean # 2 is available free on (was formerly $1.00). Get it here:

Tuesday, October 2

Fixing typos in a digital comic

MAKING CORRECTIONS with a digital comic is remarkably easy with the Graphicly interface. Several readers emailed me informing me of a typo I had on page 18 of The Subterranean #3 (see corrected image below). I made the correction on my original InDesign document and exported it as a PDF file. I then went to my dashboard at Graphicly and uploaded the new PDF file. I then re-directed the panels. By direction I mean how the panel-by-panel views will read in the final application. For example, on an iPhone the screen is quite small so I have the panel-by-panel view display only half a page of each comic page. On one page where I had a small round inset I directed the page so there were three panel-by-panel views.

Generally, I feel it is best to keep the panel-by-panel views as simple as possible and two views per page seems to do the trick. If you had a different experience with panel-by-panel views, or have insights into artistic ways to use this feature, please let me know.

Currently The Subterranean #3 is ranked 3,156 on Amazon comics (an excellent rating for a new title). Thanks for making that happen!

Thursday, September 6

The Subterranean: the screenplay

I RECENTLY PURCHASED a copy of the screenplay writing software Storyist. The software, combined with the voice recognition capability of my Mac, makes an awesome screenplay writing machine. With the help of The Screenwriter's Bible, which gives me additional formatting info (like how to format a flashback) my screenplay project will get done with less hassle.

Tonight I opened The Subterranean #1 on my iPhone and dictated the dialog directly from the comic into Storyist. I dictated the scene headings and other information and got the first four pages of the screenplay which you can read below (this represents four minutes of screen time!) I don't consider this a finished version, it's going to take a lot of adaptation to get it to work as a film, but it's a fantastic start.
As with most writing the hard part is getting the first draft. Subsequent revisions seem easy by comparison. My only complaint about Storyist was that when I cut and pasted the screenplay into this blog some of the tags came in as upper and lowercase when they should have been all caps. Other formatting is off as well. If anyone knows how to cut-and-paste from Storyist without these flaws please let me know.

In the center of the lab we see a bed upon which a man is fitfully sleeping. The sheets are in complete disarray from his night of torment. He startles awake as if from a terrifying dream. His eyes, now wide in horror, are strangely white as if covered with thick cataracts.
My eyes! My eyes! I can't see!

The city from afar.
(Driving and shouting into a cell phone)
We're almost there!
In the back of the van another thug prepares a rocket launcher. He is prepping a strange devise by pushing a series of buttons and turning dials.
Approaching mark!
The second thug attaches the devise onto the launcher as they shout at each other with military precision.
Weapon armed!
Standby to execute!
Ready to launch!
The door of the van flies open and the 2nd thug braces himself against the doorjamb and pulls the trigger. We see the strange weapon fly toward a second-story bay window of a posh brownstone.
(Shouting into a cell phone)
Target acquired!
The van races towards us as the bay window explodes and a huge fireball spews glass and debris onto the street.
Target destroyed!
We see a skyscraper in the heart of Manhattan with a large sign proclaiming "HyperLabs".
Several men huddle together in the middle of a cavernous laboratory. They are surrounded by six gigantic high-tech machines that look like a cross between a generator and alien hyperdrives. In a small amphitheater overlooking the lab we see several dozen scientists, military, and other officials jockeying for a vantage point. A weird thrum fills the air. One of the scientists in the center of the lab steps forward.
The experiment you are about to witness will revolutionize the creation and delivery of power!

Two men in lab coats stand several feet behind Dr. Ferryl Maughn. One is feverishly typing commands into a laptop computer.

It's impact will dwarf the splitting of the atom!

Maughn makes a sweeping gesture towards the six devices.

I present the century's greatest invention, the seismic oscillator!
We see the crowd. Some are rapt with anticipation, others have dubious expressions on their faces.

Power extracted from the earth's magnetic field is transmitted through concrete, lead, human beings! Virtually any object imaginable. Yet it is completely safe and undetectable at any point along its path.
The two men in lab coats behind Ferryl Maughn are twin brothers, Drs. Hugo and Theo Thanatos.
Maughn's powers of observation are working against us now, so try to stay calm!
I was going to offer you the same suggestion!
Towards the back of the laboratory we see a large concrete monolith. Theo Thanatos pushes a key on the computer. The thrum grows louder and begins to pulse. A blue magnetic field envelops the concrete pillar. The pillar begins to vibrate, then crack, then shatter. The large generators begin smoking, then burst into fireballs of flame. The group of observers reacts in horror and begins to run.
(Under his breath)
This is impossible! It's all going wrong!

Wednesday, September 5

Write a great logline

Brad Teare, comics, the subterraneanA LOGLINE IS A BRIEF explanation used in the movie business to describe the entire story. It's not easy to boil down a complex plot into one sentence but it's necessary if you're going to pitch your idea to a Hollywood executive you meet on an elevator. In anticipation of such a meeting many people memorize their loglines.

Loglines get their name from the short titles producers write on the spines of screenplays. They can then identify which screenplays have potential by quickly browsing the spines. Here's a checklist to use when formulating your logline. You probably won't be able to get all of these elements into one logline. Remember; if the logline gets too long it loses its effectiveness:

CHECKLIST (squeeze in as many as you can)
Reveal the star's SITUATION
Reveal the important COMPLICATIONS
Describe the ACTION the star takes
Describe the star's CRISIS decision
Hint at the CLIMAX
Hint at the star's potential TRANSFORMATION
Identify GENRE
Keep it to THREE SENTENCES or less

Here's the logline for The Subterranean (If you haven't read issues #1,#2, and #3 , all free. Isuggest reading them first as the tagline contains a spoiler):

A scientist forced underground by the murder of his wife battles to avenge her and save New York City as former colleagues launch the world's largest bank robbery under the guise of a terrorist attack.

Is this the best logline I could write for The Subterranean? Haven't I neglected many of the exciting elements of the story? Due to the nature of loglines, yes, but until it ends up on the spine of a screenplay it's a work in progress.