Why The Stuff of Legend is set in World War 2

January 15th, 2009

Mike Raicht dishes on why the series takes place during WWII.

“One of the most important elements of Stuff of Legend is it’s place in history. Set during World War II, we are really looking at how a boy would respond to a war being fought on the other side of the world by his father. How he would imagine that place and how that same emotion and feeling would permeate into his most precious toys. If, as we are kind of believing in this tale, that the boy creates the life and personalities for these toys, how would this change their lives as well as his as he tries to come to grip with what is happening, his new role as “man of the house” and the fear that his father may not come home.

Not only is that reflected in the toys themselves, which are more classic in nature, but also in the themes and setting throughout our band’s adventure as they attempt to save the boy. Or at least we hope it is.

Originally, we had pictured this as a more modern fairy tale. More modern toys doing battle with other modern toys. But during our initial pitch (which was to an editor nice enough to take a look at our proposal named Brandon Montclaire) we were given a note to try to make the toys more classic in nature while also making it reasonable a boy would actually be playing with toys. Now, while I do believe kids do still play with toys, I understood his point. So we wracked our brains. Brian and I had already spoken about having the book take on an epic feel when in The Dark. We had every intention of building a story structure that gave battles names and dates to make them feel more important. And we realized a lot of the things we were doing were paralleling moments in World War II. So we came back with the idea that this would be a boy with a father away during World War II. While the things wouldn’t completely parallel real life it could definitely be a skewed reflection of it.
So, while the book didn’t end up at that publisher, it definitely gave us a push in the right direction for where we ended up with our tale. “

How The Stuff of Legend came to be

January 7th, 2009

Where do your ideas come from? This is a question people seem to want to know a lot. I really don’t know. If I did I’d have a lot more good ideas.

This particular idea began around the time my son, Austin was born. Becoming a bit of a sap following his birth I really wanted to create something for him. So I created a teddy bear who I ever so imaginatively named Ted. This was going to be an adventure book about a little boy and his teddy bear protector from the dark parts of the world. And honestly Stuff of Legend is really at its heart still about that. Of course, because I’m a bit sick and twisted this tale got a bit too dark for really young kids to hear. But as I kept thinking on it I began to see a world where the Teddy Bear becomes a rampaging Grizzly fighting other now real toys in a war to save his best friend.

From there I came up with the idea of The Dark, a nasty place ruled by the Boogeyman. Not really reinventing the wheel but it gave my hero, Ted, a villain. As I usually do I began to talk the story out with my frequent writing/artist collaborator Brian Smith. He, like he usually does, saved me from the unfortunate name of Ted for my main character and came up with the title of the book itself. And since he is a master of creating cool concepts and characters he started to create a group around our teddy bear, now named Max, who would accompany him into The Dark in their effort to save the Boogeyman. And from there were off, building whole scenarios and worlds for our band of heroes to overcome in their effort to save their one true friend, the boy.

So now, Brian and I were partners in crime on this one. And we started to build a mythology around our bear. But at this point it was still set in modern times when we took our first pass at pitching it… that would change following our first attempt at pitching Stuff to a publisher.

Stuff of Legend print process

December 21st, 2008

Here’s an image of the print I did to help promote the book at the Baltimore Comic Convention in 2008. I wanted to show people what they would be seeing in the book without giving away too much.

Also, we were still in the early stages of making decisions on colors for our characters. Mike Devito and I had been going over possible color schemes for each character for a while and the only character who’s color choice was still up in the air was Harmony, the metallic ballerina. Below are several stages of the process of the print, and you’ll see she had been left without color until almost the very end while we were reviewing possible color choices.

Here is the clean pencil linework, done up in 2H lead and darkened up a bit in photoshop.

Here’s a photo I took with my phone to show Mike how our characters were coming out in color. I gave everyone simple base colors to start off with and gradually rendered them as I went. I knew red was going to be a dominant color in the whole piece, given the sky would be red, and I wanted to emphasize the violence with a color that would say it all, and I splotched red in areas of the characters to help unify them to the whole piece.

Here’s a bigger example of everyone’s color roughed in as well as continued rendering on our main characters. The medium I was using was mostly dyes, with acrylic white mixed with color to help steer the finishes where they had to go.

Here’s the image as I was approaching the finish.

The whole thing was a blast to work on. I’d never colored so many different things on one piece before, and it was a bit of a task figuring out how to tie the variety of colors together without letting anything get away from me. I used everything I knew about rendering tones in grayscale and applied it to color, and used anything I knew about color theory to make all of the color choices as visually interesting as I could.

initial concepts

December 9th, 2008

head art 

The Stuff of Legend.

A while back Mike Devito approached me with a project he thought I might be interested in, something dreamed up by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith, and it turned out to be a project filled with things I’ve wanted to draw for a very long time… I just didn’t know it yet. It also had a pretty hefty title to live up to. How does one come up with the look of the “stuff of legend?” The premise was intriguing, especially to an illustrator such as myself, and my imagination took off as soon as I dived into the story outline and character descriptions. 

Here are the first concept illustrations with descriptions:


The story is about a group of toys who enter another realm through their owner’s closet, and once they enter they transform into more realistic versions of themselves. The duck pull-toy becomes a real duck, the teddy-bear becomes a real bear, etc. One of the first things that hit me was the reader was going to have to be able to connect the two, to really know that the duck was the same duck pull-toy, that the bear was the same teddy-bear, and while I knew color would definitely link them together, I thought I’d try to take a step further and implement patterns into their character designs (like stripes!). I also had to figure out how some things might translate from the toy version to the real version, such as the spring in the jack-in-the-box (Jester). For the jester’s spring, I gave him stripes on his legs.  


The Boogeyman was a bit tough. He’s always been the spook in the closet, under the bed, any area of a darkened room not illuminated by the night-light, so I thought his look should be something made of the dark. A lot of black. I thought I’d give him a bit of texture to his appearance, and after a while I came up with the black, tar-like fire that drips upwards and away from him.  Since we see him in a world of his own creation, I added bits of the goopy fire coming out of the ground around him to help emphasize his connection to the place, as if it’s visibly made of him in some respect, maybe so much that he can pour himself up and out of the ground everywhere and anywhere. Since he would be mostly cloaked I figured a good area of contrast would be his hands and his face, two areas I would be trying to sell his gestures. For his skin’s texture I tried for something porcelain – something that could possible be interpreted as cold and lifeless, and as his face transformed the veinish cracks could pull into wrinkles.

hammy, boogey and princess

Here’s more of the Boogeyman with Hammy, who is a piggy bank in the real world, and the Princess, who is a wooden figurine.

Anyway I hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction into the creative process behind a project I’ve been fortunate enough to work on!

The Stuff of Legend Blogging Begins

December 8th, 2008

For those of your note familiar we have been working on a new book called “The Stuff of Legend” for the better part of 8 months. Our plan is to start using this blog to record our production on what exactly goes into the creative decisions and day to day stuff for an independent book. Feel free to ask any questions you have. We will be as transparent about everything as humanly possible.

2009 also marks our first inclusion into Free Comic Book Day. We will be offering the first 20+ page of “The Stuff of Legend” for retailer and fans to check out. We’re going to need all the help we can get so please be sure to let your local retailers to know about this book, or if you’re a retailer please ORDER THIS BOOK.

We will be trying a number of different strategies to get the word out. We will be offering not only a weekly blog, but bi-weekly art updates, sketches, forum posts, online web comic formatted reading, and hopefully conducting interviews with various news organizations. In the past advertising and marketing for our books has been a mixed bag. We have tried many different strategies and on the whole we have been only what I would classify as mildly successful in converting those numbers. We are hoping or a strong entry for “The Stuff of Legend” (which I will often time refer to as SoL, yes I’m aware of the connotation)

Below I have listed the solicit for the free comic book day entry, let the blogging BEGIN!

“The year is 1944. An allied force advances along a war-torn beach in a strange land, outnumbered and far from home. Together, they fight the greatest evil they have ever known. Never ending waves of exotic enemies come crashing down on them, but they will not rest. Thousands of miles away, the world is on the brink of destruction. But here in a child’s bedroom in Brooklyn, our heroes, a small group of toys loyal to their human master, fight an unseen war to save him from every child’s worst nightmare.

Led by the toy soldier known as the Colonel and the boy’s faithful teddy-bear named Max, the toys enter the realm known as The Dark. There they will face off against the Boogeyman and his army– a legion of the boy’s forgotten, bitter toys. Fighting to survive insurmountable odds, the toys will discover this is a battle not only for the soul of a child, but for their own as well…”

Space Doubles TPB preview @ comicbulletin.com

September 10th, 2008

Click here to get the goods. Featuring the tale “Sympathizers” by Justin Robinson and Nye Wright in its entirety.

Space Doubles TPB review.

September 4th, 2008

Go here and read then run like lightning to your closest LCS and buy buy buy. The time to invest in the future is now! :)

Space Doubles – Set The Controls

August 11th, 2008


Ain’t it Cool News called Th3rd World Studios’ retro sci-fi series”Space Doubles”, “…a treat to read and a must-see for sci-fi/horrorfans.”

Comixtreme dubbed it, “…a good looking, fast reading comic
that’s just a whole lot of fun, and makes me wonder why more people aren’t doing comics like this.”

Comics And…Other Imaginary Tales
hailed it as, “…unique genre that has been missing too long from the comic racks.”

Now collected into one 140 page trade paperback and presented in flip book format just like the original miniseries, “Space Doubles” asks the great sci-fi question–WHAT IS TO COME? With thrilling tales featuring everything from moon landings to zombies in space to existential bug infestations, the answer will shock you.

“The feedback from fans and reviewers has been overwhelming. When Closter brought this project to us I had a feeling the series would have a solid following among the sci-fi faithful, but I was pleasantly surprised to see it break into the top 300 in overall comic sales for the month”, said Jon Conkling, co-publisher of Th3rd World Studios.

“I’ve always been a Science Fiction fan at heart, and at the time I started Space Doubles there wasn’t much presentation of the genre beyond the licensed product. … I wanted to see something out there that could give someone the same sort of feeling that one would get reading a collection of old SF short stories from PKD, Bradbury and the like”, series creator Scott Closter.

Collecting all of the stories from the 3 issue limited series; the “Space Doubles” trade paperback features a host of established writers from the original series including Mike Raicht (“/Exiles/: Days of Then and Now”), Leah Moore and John Reppion (“Witchblade – Shades of Gray”), Jason Hall (/”Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures” and “Hellboy Animated”/), Justin Robinson (“Heavy Metal’s Fluorescent Black”), Mark Andrew Smith (“Amazing Joy Buzzards”) and Scott Closter (“Eskimo Dave”). This collection also features 4 never before seen tales by Mike Baron (“Nexus”), Dwight L. Macpherson (“Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allan Poo”), Ben Raab and Deric Hughs (“Living in Infamy”) and Andrew Dabb (“Atomika”).

Also included are 2 brand new stories of the very popular “Pickles from Pluto” by Brian Smith.
*Space Doubles Collection 1: Set the Controls* hits stands in October. You can pre-order it in the August preview catalog. (Diamond Order #/AUG084292/)

Tall Tale Features!

May 19th, 2008


Debuting today: TALL TALE FEATURES!

I’ve joined what I’m referring to as a “cartoonist collective” called Tall Tale Features. Today is opening day (which makes me a charter member, natch) and I hope you’ll all head on over and check it out.

Tall Tale Features
is a group of professionally minded cartoonists who have banded together to say “Hey, quality webcomics found here!” (Look, I’m gonna level with your guys here. I’m the novice of the group. I don’t know how I got an invite. Everyone else at Tall Tale is either syndicated or making actual money at this thing. Shh! Don’t tell them I slipped by.)

So who’s a part of this illustrious group? Role Call!

• Lucas Turnbloom of Imagine This
• Brian Anderson of Dog Eat Doug
• Dave Reddick of Legend of Bill
• Mike Witmer of Pinkerton
• Scott Metzger of Stewart
• Brock Heasley of The SuperFogeys

Yeah, that’s some serious talent up there. Head on over to TALL TALE FEATURES to find links to each one and check ‘em out. Quality stuff!

What else can Tall Tale offer you? Glad you asked. On the main page you’re going to find a frequently updated blog filled with news about your favorite comics, pop culture musings and whatever else we feel like talking about. It’s also your source for the latest news on all the Tall Tale comics.

Getting into the site a bit more, you’ll find a bios of each of the creators on Tall Tale and a link to “TTF Radio” a podcast that will be starting up shortly, hosted by Tom Racine and featuring the Tall Tale crew on a rotational basis.

But the heart and soul of Tall Tale Features has got the be the FORUM. There you’ll find separate forums for all your favorite Tall Tale webcomics, along with other forums for discussing nonsense, movies, etc….and a place to plug your work.

Like I said, Tall Tale officially kicks off today so now’s a great time to get in there, register on the forums and start being a part of things. We expect big things ahead and hope you’ll be there.


Space Doubles Issue 3

April 24th, 2008

Blip bleep blorp blorp boodle oot.

That’s R2D2 talk for “peddle yo’ butt down to you LCS and pick up the latest issue of Space Doubles.” In case you missed it before, here’s a preview: