The photo collage above includes pictures from Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) where Steven (writer) and I (artist) introduced readers to our first printed volume of Ancient Futures and we’re happy to report it was warmly received, including enthusiastic response to the visuals as well as the catchy tagline for the book “Afropunk Assassins at the end of SpaceTime!” Other creative individuals (photographers, sculptors, actors, tarot readers, cosplayers) are getting involved in the project and we’re very excited to witness its development in ways that we couldn’t have imagined when Ancient Futures started about 2 and half years ago.
Absent-mindedly, I don’t think I’ve shown photos of the first printed Volume 1 on this blog, so here are some long overdue images to give you an idea of what the 40 page printed book looks like. For those who missed Volume 1, there is a reward tier that offers both this issue and Vol. 2. and the print edition of the first issue is running low, so get it while you can.
There are still 2 rewards for original art available in the Sketch Cover tier. You can expect those one-of-a-kind originals to look something like this:
Our status for the Kickstarter is currently under water with 8 days remaining. Not sure if we’ll be able to make this, so please consider spreading the word to anyone you can think of who might be interested in this project. The cost of a 40-page graphic novel is rather high these days and since we’re self-publishing this series to retain the rights we need to find people who believe in and are willing to invest in the project to make the printed book a reality. Thank you for your time and consideration.
I was flying back from Chicago last night and the flight had The Whale (2022 movie) available. I didn’t catch many of the “award movies” this year, so I ended up watching it and I liked what it had to offer. I had just spent the weekend promoting my Ancient Futures graphic novel series at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) with my collaborator author Steven White and his circle of creative friends who care about this project enough to be involved in its growth. The Kickstarter we launched for the continuation of the series (Part 2) is far from meeting its goal unfortunately, but oddly I’m not feeling depressed about it. Perhaps it could surprise us and turn around in a week or two, but it seems that we needed to build up the promotion earlier than we did to gain the momentum to make it a success.
The character Charlie in “The Whale” (played by Brendan Fraser in the movie) is an English professor who teaches online courses and keeps his zoom camera off, ashamed of his obesity. At a climactic moment in the story, he feverishly emails his students a desperate plea to write him “something honest.” The image I clipped above is from a stage version of the same story from at least 9 years ago and you can watch it here if you like. It made me realize how hungry I was for some honesty, as well (… I realize that sounds like a terrible pun, but no pun intended.) I made a decision about 8 years ago to work on fiction comics after working in nonfiction for a number of years. I also decided to make an effort to avoid fanart for the most part to avoid siphoning away time and energy that didn’t fuel my priority to world build new stories.
It’s safe to say that this has been a great challenge. In some ways the pandemic ended up presenting opportunities that fell in line with my career goals, but I would say mostly it has made it a challenge to get such endeavors off the ground. I’m fortunate to be working projects with creators and independent publishers who have the fire and resilience to take on such projects. Apart from my Ancient Futures people, I’m also working with the new comic publisher Battle Quest Comics, another driven and positive group of people. Additionally, I’m working on cover illustrations for a good author friend who bravely pursued his own book series years ago and has since found great success; check out Mage Errant by John Bierce.
My blog has fallen by the wayside, but I’m thinking of attempting some honest writing here again. I’ve become fatigued thinking about my work in a comparative way to other comic creators who have had a more traditional path to success when I really should be celebrating the alternative path of my own. I get to start each day with the feeling that I have work to do that I enjoy with people I admire and enjoy working with. That’s a very good feeling and something I want to stay focused on. I’m trusting that I’ll be able to continue my work on current projects one way or another. If you are interested in any of these projects, and have the means, please consider supporting them.
Here are some photos from my weekend at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo @C2E2 with the Ancient Futures Team. The party continued on and off the show floor as you can see. I’m going to be riding the positive energy we generated there for some time.
Steven and I were honored to be on the comic and pop culture podcast Blue Tiger Revenge last night. It was a fun conversation that reveals how Steven and I started working together on Ancient Futures and includes some of Steven’s recitation of the lines from the book. Very entertaining stuff, if I do say so myself. Host Tadd Galusha has been working in comics about as long as I have and we know each other from years back, so he had very specific and relevant questions about the drawing process and working in comics. Check it out here: https://bluetigerrevenge.substack.com/p/18-aaron-mcconnell-and-steven-white
The Ancient Futures Kickstarter is counting down its final hours as I type this, so please hop aboard ASAP if you’d like to support it. We are so grateful to our backers and look forward to fulfilling the rewards in the coming months.
There are still 2 Original Art rewards available to purchase, Ancient Futures artworks drawn by Adam Benet Shaw and Dustin Weaver. This is a unique opportunity and I’m selfishly hoping that someone purchases these so that I can see their artistic interpretations of the characters from the book.
I’m excited to announce the launch of a passion project I’ve been working on for over a year with a writer in Chicago Steven White, aka Seven, on this Valentine’s Day, 2022. What started as weekly zoom meetings to exchange story ideas and concept drawings organically grew into a compelling narrative as characters began to form and ideas bubbled to the surface brought about by the challenging and perplexing times we were experiencing in our collective lives. This story feels very “of the moment” and Seven and I wanted to find a way to bring an audience along with us as it forms rather than keep it hidden away until the entire story has been written and drawn. The hope is to keep it alive and growing in dialogue with reader interaction. Kickstarter seemed like an appropriate choice and so today marks the christening of our ship Ancient Futures as we embark into the great unknown. I hope you’ll check it out and consider joining us on the journey. We have a 40-page Part One that is scheduled to print this spring and ship this summer if the Kickstarter is successful, and we hope it captures your imagination as much as the creation of it has for Seven and myself. Thank you! http://kck.st/3oLKLgi
Lee Moyer reworked one of my drawings from 13 True Ways and turned it into something entirely unique for the cover of the first issue of 13th Age Monthly. Click on the image to be redirected to Pelgrane Press for subscription information. Also, for your consideration, a kickstarter for a novel set in the 13th Age universe written by Greg Stolze. Find out how to contribute to The Forgotten Monk.
Today is the final countdown for backing Of Dust and Blood by Jim Berry and Val Mayerik. The original graphic novel is funded, so backers are guaranteed a book, but the Kickstarter has a stretchgoal for getting the book in full watercolor by Val! I did the drawing below to support the cause and the original is currently available as one of the pledge goals. India Ink on Bristol paper, 22″ x 13.5″. Please consider contributing to the project. Thank you!
Stepping Out: I left Portland a couple weekends ago to meet my dad in San Diego for the Reuben Award weekend, and the days have just been ticking away since then. I think meeting and just sharing the room with so many legends in cartooning set my brain on fire and it’s still smoldering. I “talked shop” with Sergio Aragonés and Russ Heath, shook hands with Mel Lazarus and Rick Geary, just to name a few. Here’s a picture of my dad with some of the cartoonists at our table during the award ceremony. Can you spot a Dan Piraro or a Matthew Diffee? I’d like to do a thorough report of my experience. It really was a remarkable weekend, but I’m going to have to put that on the back burner for the time being.
Kicking In: I would like to direct the attention of anyone in the industry to the National Cartoonists Society because they are looking to expand the roster of qualifying members. There are new perks for being a member that are in the works. That’s right, “Perks in the Werks!” You can find out everything you need to know about joining at the newly renovated website HERE.
Kicking In: I recently contributed to a Kickstarter that my friend, photographer, comic book collector, and comic book writer Jim Berry is running to fund the production of a thrilling graphic novel about The Battle Of The Little Big Horn (Greasy Grass) featuring art by legendary illustrator, Val Mayerik. Please take a look at the Of Dust and Blood Kickstarter and consider pitching in to make this book a reality.
Stepping Out…to the comic shop, I encountered a number of excellent books coming out right now. Probably at the top pf my list for entertainment is Starlight written by Mark Millar with art by Goran Parlov that is just riddled with nods and homages galore to the late, great Moebius. I’ll sign off with this piece of Starlight fan art that was created in everyone’s favorite new graphic software, Manga Studio 5. Stepping out of my comfort zone to learn this new tool, after kicking in some cash to buy it;-)