Join the Toxic Army

Tart news is a little slow at the moment. Very little concrete I can tell you about, but I can keep you up to date with a few things. Ludo's working on issue 4 at the moment which we hope to have available at some point in October. As I've stated before in this blog we'd prefer to go slowly and keep the art at its highest possible quality, than to rush things.

On most comic books there is a separate artist for each of the following jobs: Penciler (the first drawings which actually are never seen by the reader), Inker (the dark, permanent lines which border the drawing and are seen in the final book), Colorist (I think even you comic newbies can get this one) and Letterer (the person who writes in all of the dialogue and narration). In our guerrilla style production all of those functions are performed by Ludo. And because an Indie Comic doesn't bring in a lot of money (we're not complaining, having a book out is a huge reward to us), he's been picking up as much freelance work as possible in order to do things like, say, eat.

To remind you, we're starting out with the goal of four issues per year at the beginning. Sort of a seasonal approach. So if we get 4 out in October for Fall, we'll shoot for a #5 coming out in January as a Winter issue, April will be #6 for Spring, and July rounds out the year with issue #7. The goal also being to have one Trade Paperback collecting the years work for SuperCon each and every year. Of course, if we go to publishing every other month, this would change.

Now one thing that is in the works could affect that. The people at What the Flux Comics have put together a packet to Diamond Distributors (the company that delivers books to most, if not all, of the Local Comic Shops in America) to have all of their books in the Diamond Catalog. This will make it much easier to get Tart into local shops around the country. If that happens, we'd work our butts off to create a snowball effect and get copies in every store willing to take a shot at us. And if the snowball grew, maybe we could bump up the speed of production, as more money came in, allowing Ludo to say no to some other work.

Two shops that have already said they'd carry Tart are CJ's Comics and Tate's Comics here in South Florida. We are in the midst of small changes to the Trade Paperbacks in order to smooth out the reading experience, and as soon as we're ready to print, we'll get books in both shops for all of our South Florida readers. I'll post here, on Twitter and on Facebook when, where and how to support these shops who are first out of the gates supporting us.

Readers from around the country (world actually, because of our friends in Europe* we've already sold 7 books across the pond) can always order at http://whatthefluxcomics.com/webstore.php .

I can foresee the question, "Where should we buy it to help out the most?" And the answer is yes. Except for stealing it, however you get your hands on our book is the best way. Buying it directly from our website is the best way. Buying it from your local comic shop is the best way (convincing your local comic shop to order it so you can buy it from them is TOTALLY THE BEST WAY). If we can get it into the library system, then borrowing it from them is the best way. If you get a copy and lend it to your friend to read, then they got it the best way.

Or buying it directly from us at conventions like http://www.geekfestflorida.com/ which is a brand new comic convention I am (work willing) planning to attend Sunday, November 18th on FAU's campus. That's the best way, too. But mostly so I can thank you in person for supporting us. EDIT: just saw that GeekFest has an awesome bio page up. Wow! Thanks, guys: http://www.geekfestflorida.com/index.php/guests?id=104

What we need now as creators is readers. We need readers who like what they read tell others. Or preferably to show others. We're not asking anyone to lie. But if you like what you see, please tell others. Write a review.

You know what, forget readers. We need soldiers. So this is a call to join the Toxic Fruit Organization.
To join in on the fun & amplify the message. I can say Tart is a good book all I want. And if I don't the books really in trouble, but people really shouldn't believe me. If you like what you see. Like what you read, please shout it to the rooftops. Tell anyone who shares common interests about Tart, and that they might like it.

You can also directly join in on the conversation by emailing me at tartacid@yahoo.com. Or visit our tartcomic.tumblr.com (very new, and so far I stink at it, but I'm trying to learn). Or hit either of us up on Twitter: I'm @bnokj (a long story) and Ludo is @Hellstrawberry.

Basically we're all at an awesome time in this endeavor. Where we don't have fans of Tart. We have friends of Tart. And there's no way in this life you can have too many friends.

By the way, the tartacid@yahoo.com mailbox currently only has two emails, one of which reads:

Attention: Email Owner,

We are pleased to notify you once again that your email
address have won the SOUTH AFRICA LOTTO JACKPOT 
Promotion program held this Year 2012, You have
therefore been approved to claim the sum of
R 9,000,000.00(Nine Million South African 
Rand) In US Dollars $1,100,648.15(USD)
We are yet to receive your file for Claims.For
Due remittance of funds.Contact Claims Agent for your
claims with Reference numbers and Batch numbers

So now you see why we aren't worried about how you get your hands on our books. We're just one email reply from rolling in the dough anyway.

Have a great week!


* Before Tart was published, I'd had about 5 short stories published in a British fantasy magazine called Ethereal Tales. And had self-published "The Bargain I Made for her Heart" with the French artist Laurence Peguy. With nearly all copies of said books either in Britain or France, my wife and I began to joke, "You know, nobody in America knows who Kevin Joseph is, but he's HUUUUUGGGGEEE in Europe."


Who's that Girl?

Hi it's Ludo!
This week I introduce you to Hell Strawberry.
Who is she?
In fact it's the first character that I created, and I publish the comic book on her adventure (creator owned) for the french audience.
I can't tell you much thing about her for now, but she has a big role in the universe that Kevin and I created. And one day her way will meet the Tart's one.
I just tell you that she works as a Toxic Fruit, but freelancer. She lives on earth, undercover by a waitress job in the Poppy Cherry bakery.
Hell is not alone. She works with Billie, an american girl who come from the 90's L.A., Tom, an english boy who come from the 1940's London, and Fork, a little Devil who can take human teenager form.
All this characters are a mysterious past for now. They travel around time and space with Hell Strawberry in her missions. But they aren't a big help.

The first book I published it's more like an artbook, it has just a 5 pages adventures, and 35 pages of artworks.

The second one, Hell Strawberry factory 2 'From Russia With Love' include a real 45 pages adventures of Hell and introduce a new Toxic, Gloom Tangerine (soon in Tart issue 4! ).
 The action placed in L.A., Russia and Shanghai, in the 1920's.

Well, this week I show you the work in progress for the next adventure, the Hell Strawberry Factory 3, released in France for October/November. An Adventure in the heart of London, 1969.
I just finished the 26 pages but I still a lot of work with color, layout, cover, etc...

I hope one day this work be published in America.
Hell Strawberry wants conquer the world!

(More pics next week.)


The End of Tart

The title of this post is a little underhanded. Ludo and I are barreling forward with our story and have no plans to give up on what we started. But I wanted to talk a little about how my tastes in comics have changed, and how that change relates to the story we're going to tell.

When I began reading comics I was all X-Men, all the time. It was during Claremont's extraordinary run, just after The Fall of the Mutants. My Mom once asked me why I liked comics, and I answered that I liked to read, and comics were a way that the story never ended. Sure Kitty and Wolvie had escaped the Marauders, but all I had to do was wait one month and another chapter would be on its way.

That was then. Now when I think back to the stories that stuck with me, single arcs in ongoing comics don't jump out. The ones I remember are Mage, Watchmen and V for Vendetta. I still have a love for the comics I read as a kid, but the ones that made the strongest impressions on me ended. And they didn't end because they were cancelled, they ended because they were written to end.

In my adult life I've finally read my two favorite comic series of all time, Sandman and Bone. They both end. And they end when they're supposed to. I can not recommend either of them enough.

Seriously. Go read Bone and Sandman if you haven't. Now.

I believe these series resonate better with me than the perpetually ongoing ones because when you're on the 400th issue of a title, what could be your goal? Sure you want to entertain your readers. And yes, you want to invent new and interesting conflicts/scenarios for those characters to live through. But in truth what you're really trying to do is just keep the patient on life support as long as possible.

A very recent example is Fables. From what I understand Fables was envisioned as a 70 or 80 issue series with a definitive end. And when they got there, the writer realized he had more stories to tell. Bill Willingham is an extraordinary writer (and his primary artist on the series, Mark Buckingham, is one of my all-time favorites) so each individual issue after the envisioned ending has been enjoyable. But in my opinion, they aren't memorable. To me the series ends when the war against The Adversary ends. Everything afterwards fades from my mind. Please feel free to disagree in the comments if you've read it.

So what does that have to do with Tart? Ludo and I are (perhaps, naively) ambitious with this project. We want it to be the type of series that resonates. We want it to be one that can be read multiple times. And we want it to be one that sticks with you.

Tart will end. I can't say which issue it will end on (heck, the story to issues 4-7 didn't exist when we mapped our series, and a few of our ideas will not work for various reasons so any total number of issues for this series would be no more than a guess), but it will end. And we know what that ending is.

As my mind wonders to the ending, and I plan on how to make it satisfying for the audience, it also allows me to build toward it. Just yesterday, I sent Ludo an image he'll need for the final issue. An image he may not draw for print for 5 to 10 years, but that he will draw eventually. I hope this will make each issue not a comic in your hands, but an individual chapter in one long novel (I chose not to use the term Graphic Novel here because Tart is a comic, and I'm proud it's a comic. Graphic Novel is a term people outside of comics use to forgive themselves for reading comics. Off soapbox).

Oh, and Hell No, I won't tell you what that ending is.

Have a great week, everybody!


Some pieces of Tart.

Tart issue 04 is in progress!
I can't show you yet the entire colored pages but here a little look on them.
I do my best to offer you beautiful pages very soon in a print edition.
The story of Tart will continue and we hope you will be at the rendez-vous.
In the meantime, enjoy:


Protect Your Fellow Travelers

The past weekend was a ton of fun, and there's very little the people at SuperCon could have done to make it better. But there's one thing I think needs to stop.

By now you've probably seen the Sexy Sax Man on Youtube. If you haven't then go here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaoLU6zKaws It's basically a guy who breaks into a sax rendition of Wham's "Careless Whisper" in any place that he shouldn't break into an sax rendition of Wham's "Careless Whisper."

Well somebody who came to SuperCon has seen it. And he decided to serenade us. 12 thousand times. Which got a bit annoying, but that's not what I think needs to change. The funny thing about Sexy Sax Man is that he's so damn annoying. Annoying I can handle.

What I can't handle is that Sexy Sax Man was not the only person who brought his musical instrument. There was also a guy with a tuba. Now I'm old and I don't watch Family Guy, so for the first three days I didn't know what this strange song I kept hearing was. Until it was explained to me on Monday. Here's the song, and the clip from the show, the person with the tuba was imitating: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KMk1-erNhQ

So what the kid was doing was finding overweight people at the Con and following them around just like Stewie does in the cartoon.

You know the one problem with this: he was following a fat person around the Con playing a song meant to ridicule him for his weight.

There's a word for people who do things like that: bully.

And if there's one place in the world you should be safe from bullies, it's at a Comic Convention (feel free to replace the word comic with sci fi, anime, video game, Star Trek or whatever cult genre you'd like).

Cons are a place where a gay man should be able to dress up like Xena Warrior Princess without being picked on. Where a skinny kid should be able to spike his hair up and hold a crappily made cardboard broadsword and not get picked on. Where a straight guy should be able to have buttons with the My Little Pony characters pinned all over his shirt without being picked on. Where two girlfriends should be able to dress up like Raggedy Ann and Andy and walk holding hands without being picked on. And yes, where an overweight person should be able to walk from one booth to the next without being picked on.

All of us who have an affinity for what the rest of the world likes to call geeky need to stick together. We need to protect our fellow travelers.

In short, we need to demand that our Cons are bully-free zones.


Disney Villains Tee contest.

Hey you!
Do you want a great and maleficent tee-shirt?
Easy, vote for me on this page :
Just click on the number 5!
If I win (5000$) I could do plenty Tart adventures!
No no, it is not a blackmail ...

Thank you!!


SuperCon Has Come and Gone

Holy moly. I don't know how people do this over and over. Maybe it's like a marathon. The first one you do  kills you, but as you do more and more, your body acclimates to the experience. Unfortunately the simile breaks down when you realize there's no way to "jog" in the morning to prepare for a convention.

The strangest, most unexpected thing to happen to me is what I call the "Con Hangover." You're trying your best to strike up conversations with as many people as you can, and inevitably you forget to drink water. I'm a caffeine addict, so once I'd get parched, I'd throw down a Diet Coke and keep talking. Which is fine for an hour or two, but for an entire day, leaves you dehydrated. So every morning, I'd wake up as if I'd had too much to drink the night before. Next time I need to get a hotel room next to the convention center so I don't have to drive home every night. That way I can get tanked each evening. If I'm going to have a hangover anyway, I might as well earn it right?

Overall, my perceptions of a con as a creator was overwhelmingly positive. I've only been to two conventions before (once in New York, and once at MegaCon in Orlando), but both times as just a comic fan/collector. As a creator you have much less time to enjoy the other exhibitions. Sure, you can get up and walk around, but while you do that you have the sneaking suspicion that you're needed back at the booth. You are looking at another cool indie comic (more on those later) and the thought runs through your head, "What if that one person who's willing to check out Tart walks by while I'm not there." So you divide your attention, and find yourself caught in the tractor beam that is your own booth.

The only time I felt negatively was Friday night. The crowd that came Friday was most likely people who had three day passes. I only guess this because they were very standoffish about even speaking to us. I sold two copies of Tart to daring and cool people, but was unable to tell many more people about the project. I found Saturday, when we sold 6 copies, that it wasn't the number of books we sold Friday that got me down, it was that people weren't interested in hearing about it. 6 books is not that many more than 2, but I probably introduced Tart to 100 people Saturday who may someday see it at their comic shops shelf and say "I think I've heard of that."

I'll be honest, that came as a surprise. Before the weekend, if you told me we sold 6 books on Saturday, and I'd be happy, I wouldn't have believed you. But it's all about exposure and getting people to understand the concept. Sunday and Monday were more like Saturday, with the con attendees really interested in hearing about the book, and willing to flip through it.

All in all we had 40 books, and with our presale which I signed for anyone who ordered, went through the entire print run (actually we are one short). So one of the people who gets the Trade Paperback will get it unsigned. Don't worry, I already know who it is, and it's probably not you. If it is you (Jobu), you were chosen because you already have a 1 of a kind painting from Ludo for your help earlier in the series). If you want it signed, I'm sure we'll run into each other soon enough in Tallahassee.

The other thing that made Saturday rock was that our models were there. Viktoria arrived to be the spokesmodel Tart. This is a bit fuzzy (had the camera on the wrong setting), but I wanted to show you the before/after or Clark Kent/Superman transformation:

Viktoria is a beautiful girl. But her strength as a person and as a spokesmodel for something like this is that she's fearless when it comes to talking to new people. And she's enthusiastic and engaging. With her in front of our booth we were able to funnel a much higher percentage of traffic toward the What The Flux Comics line of books.

And Viktoria wasn't the only person we had dressed as our characters. Amy Vitale and Mike Hammonds were both cosplayed up to support their books Red Angel and Sam Savage.

Now unlike Viktoria who was there doing me a tremendous favor, Mike and Amy actually ARE the characters from their books. Which is kind of a cool thing WTFC does.

We lost Viktoria on Sunday through a series of unfortunate events (don't worry her parents are still alive), so I had to trudge on without my ace in the hole. But the ball was rolling and we had a great day that day as well. The coolest part of Sunday was that my Mom was able to watch my daughter for the day, so my wife Janet came down to experience her first Con.

I was too busy to go with her, but she went to see the question and answer from Scott Adsit, who plays Pete  Hornberger on 30 Rock. It's one of our favorite shows, and Scott is certainly an unsung, yet integral part to it's success. After the Q&A, Janet returned to our booth. She had this strange, embarrassed smile on her face.

I asked if she enjoyed it. "Yeah," she said. "Scott paid for me to get his autograph."


"I was in line to get his autograph, and I grabbed one of the pictures in front of him to get it signed, and one of the staffers said, 'You buy the photos over there.' I said, 'Ok,' and was going to get out of the line and Scott reached into his wallet and pulled out a five and gave it to the guy and said, 'It's ok.'

"He what?"

"I know. I had the five dollars ready. I just didn't know where to buy it. I told him it was alright. And he refused my money and told me he felt bad."

"Are you kidding me. HE paid... for YOU... to get... HIS... autograph?"


"Holy crap."

So we walked back over to his table and I tried to give him his five back by saying, "Listen, I know you bought the photo for her, but can we at least buy you a beer or a sandwich with this?"

And he blew us off and smiled. Dude, what a nice guy. And then we got this photo:

I think there's going to be a free copy of Tart sent his way as soon as I can get one. Actors that come to these are there to make money. It's accepted. Treating fans the right way is a testament either to how cool Scott is, or just to the fact that he doesn't yet realize he's supposed to squash us like bugs with his celebrity. Either way two people who were probably fans for life anyway, are cemented firmly in his corner.

Monday had a whole different feel. Half of the booths were empty and we moved into the center of the con which is often called Artist Alley. The artist who'd had the spot was on a plane home, so we got much better convention real estate. Many of the people that were left, were offering good deals on their product. And I was plumb out of energy.

Sure we pushed our books, but we got into a lot more full on conversations with people. There were fewer people to catch passing the booth, so we had more time to actually get to know the people that were there. Three young, very talented, artists came up to the booth and I ended up trading a copy of Tart to them for some of their prints. Check out their Deviant Art pages for some amazing stuff:

http://spikie.deviantart.com/art/ (my favorite of Spikie's is here. I pleaded with her to tell the story of how this character came to be who she is):

I'm only stealing one of their pieces of artwork for our blog, please check out the rest.


All three artists are just out of high school and off to college to pursue dreams in the art world. Meeting people like them was as cool, or even cooler than, actually selling my book to people. Ok, both things are very, very cool.

And another very cool thing that happened was, with our new, better real estate, we were right across from about six of the kids from The Hunger Games. Now I've read the books, but I haven't seen the movie yet, so this isn't that big of a deal to me. But I looked across and one of the young women looks amazingly like Tart. Well film and TV are not necessarily the goal of Tart (That goal is to make a kick ass comic book). But in order to make the comic as good as it can be, Ludo and I have a goal of being able to work on it, and our other creative pursuits full time.

Feeding and sheltering my family, (and for Ludo feeding himself, plus starting a life post-school) isn't cheap. So we both have to divert our attention away from Tart enough to bring in money to live. And if the right situation presented itself - one that allowed us the financial freedom to make art full time, but that also honored the story and character of Tart - we wouldn't be averse to seeing Tart in another medium.

The young actress who looks so much like Tart is Annie Thurman (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4114443/). I figured, it would take a couple years for Tart to turn into a property anyway, so I might as well give her a copy to read. If she likes it, and is still interested in acting when she's Tart's age (a little over 18 if you're wondering), then what the heck. If she doesn't like it, no harm, no foul. She was very nice and accepted it. I then left her alone. I really didn't want to be the weird guy. If it had been Sunday I probably would have sent Janet over to deliver it (and Annie might have paid her for the right to read it)

With a pseudo-introduction to the cast a few of the other actors came over to the table and we ended up talking and showing them Tart and some of the other WTFC comics we had to offer. The two actors I spoke with the most were Ethan Jamieson (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3837100/and Dakota Hood (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3037964/). They simply couldn't have been nicer. If anyone out there wants young actors who are going to be easy to work with on set, get your butts to these kids' agents and sign them now!. 

The only problem is this: I haven't seen the movie yet. Like I said, I've read the book. Now that I know and like these kids, I'm going to have to watch them get killed. I've never had that experience with a movie before. I wonder what it will feel like?

Anyway, I've rambled enough (more than enough probably). The Con was amazing. Tart is out in the world that much more than she was last Thursday. And that's good enough for me.