Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Eldritch: Lessons 006

If folks are interested, I've started a werewolf audioblog, that updates every Full Moon.  This Wolf Moon's show topic is How to Become a Werewolf over at  The Moonlit Pathway .

Posting a tad early for the website people~

So, as I do this comic, I try to do my best to inform you guys about my influences, be they folkloric references like the beast of Gevaudan, or be they the works of one or two people, such as ElfQuest mentioned last week.  Today I’m going to discuss something a little different.  You see, there’s one guy you all have likely never heard of, who, if it weren’t for him, you may not be reading this comic right now.

When I was little, I was acquainted with a family friend, named Steven Bates. A family man first and a comic book enthusiast second, he ran the local comic shop, and my first “Job” was sorting out packs of Power Rangers Trading Cards into full sets for the shop, with the promise of a set for myself as payment.  He saw me grow up, and you know, somehow he never changed.  When I was in high school, he approached my dad about possibly doing some comics, and wondered if my sister or I would be interested in doing the art for them.  The ideas he pitched ranged from space adventures, to stories of young Davey Crocket, to the story of a kid who could turn into a dragon.

I bet you all know what I jumped on. 

Pretty soon I was cranking out doodles and sketches, and bouncing emails back and forth. Steve and I worked out a lot together… he spent his time hashing out plot and developing the characters, while I spent a lot of time working out particulars for the dragons and making rules for the world Steve set up.  All the dragons were shapeshifters, and the main character’s mom was an Asiatic dragon, meanwhile, his dad, while not a dragon, was a human with European dragon lineage (In fact, some of the rules for the world that I worked out with my oh-so-swell high school understanding of genetics are the base for some of the rules in Eldritch today)  Thus, the main character could shapeshift into a dragon whenever he snapped his fingers. Snap. Dragon. Get it?  In fact, SnapDragon was what the comic was called.  But boy, did that man write stories.  I only had outlines and general ideas of where he was going… but man, it was gonna be great.

Eventually, in 2003, Steve gave me a script for an eight-page comic.  I’d never seen a script for a comic before, so it was a new kind of experience for me.  Then he gave me my first Scott McCloud book, Understanding Comics.  And we got rolling.  I drew the pages, inked them, and cell-shaded (black and white) them in Adobe Business Class. I was so new at the program that I had NO idea that layers even existed, let alone what they were used for.  Needless to say, the overall work was fair, but not bad, and I was flattered all to pieces when he told me to list myself as co-creator for the comic in the opening page credits. It was our book, but I couldn’t have done it without him.  That year at Free Comic Book Day, I sat next to another comicer, (who is still far better than I) named Justin Wasson, and we gave out staples printout copies of our amateur books to those arriving for the event.  It was my first serious attempt at a comic, and the basic techniques I learned illustrating that book and from reading and working with a script is the foundation for how I do comics still today. 

*Chuckles* You know, in the comic, while the main character, as a dragon he was called Snap, but his human name was Dylan Drake.  Guess where Dylan got his name from in Eldritch?  Yep.  It’s a Tip-of-The-Hat to Steve, the guy who showed me I could make a comic book. 


Shortly after the completion of that comic, I graduated hichschool and started gearing up for college.  As I was studying Fine Art, Steve got a job with Diamond and moved away. Life kept us both very busy, and Snap fell to the wayside.  Eventually, we pretty much lost touch with one another, popping an email or two back and forth around Christmas and that was about it.  What I never knew though, was that Steve was sick.  He never let on that he had cancer… and, recently, it killed him.  He was only forty-eight.

I’d always figured I’d post the pre-buzzkill part of this story later on in this book, because Snap is going to be a cameo in the background of the Layline, and that was how I was going to introduce Eldritch to Steve, to show him I was still comicing, and could keep it going, rather than just telling him I was working on it in an email.  And… I missed my chance.  It’s been almost two months, and I still feel so blindsided. 

I’m not saying this because I want condolences. Like I said, it's been two months... I've taken my time to deal.  I’m saying this because Steve was an amazing guy, and I want people know about and remember him, and what he did for me, and my comics. 

Here’s to you, Steve.  Thanks for everything, man.


  1. Starting with the comic; yes that would be awesome and full of fun. Art looks great, can't wait for the next page. I want to know where they're going.

    Moving on... All I can say about Steve is, good for him. He most definitely will not be forgotten, maybe a few tears are shed but the way I look at it he did something good for somebody else.

    Even if he died at a young age, some people live to 100 and never do anything as wonderful as Steve has done for us. He gave us your skills, your commitment, and a kick ass comic to boot.

    I guess my point is, goodbye and thanks for all of this. We'll laugh and be happy in Steve's name. Because who wants to ultimately end up making people sad?

    Come on everybody, raise a glass to Steve!


  2. Thank you so much for all the kind things you've said... I'm not sure even what to say in return. Thank you...

    *raises a glass*