I picture you in the sun, wondering what went wrong
My name is Eric Trautmann. I'm a writer and graphic designer.
I live in the Pacific Northwest, and yes, it does rain rather a lot, but not nearly as much as the media would have you believe. I expect it will only rain for most of today, instead of all of today.
I write comic books.
I have written comic books for DC Comics (including Action Comics and Checkmate) and Dynamite Entertainment (including long runs on Red Sonja, Vampirella and Flash Gordon). For a complete list of My Mighty Works™, you could visit my website. Because websites are so very modern and pointing you at one isn't at all like trying to offer you use of my butter churn and spinning jenny.
I am a graphic designer.
I design logos and trade dress for business and entertainment publishing (notably comics).
I can design a business card for you, if you want.
I do book design. I do this every month for the pages of Black Magick and Lazarus, both published by Image Comics.
And if you enjoy this newsletter, please share the info around, so I'm not just screaming into a void. That's what Ello is for.
Where I Am At Today
Today, Cartoon Rich Guy Donald Trump and Wannabe National Hall Monitor Senator Ted Cruz are blustering and bloviating about being asked softball questions in a debate, and I'm wondering if I'm the first guy in Rome who hears Nero fiddling. I need coffee, like, right now.
I used to be much more political, but the current climate has burned a lot of, well, hope from me. They say the holiday season is rough on folks with depression, but for my money, election seasons are way worse.
In neighboring Oregon, several of the "militants" (i.e. criminal whiners) who PATRIOTICALLY and BRAVELY took over an empty bird sanctuary and vandalized it while messing with irreplaceable Native American artifacts, have been arrested. One dead in what is being reported as an exchange of gunfire.
And in Flint, people have been forced to pay for lead-contaminated water for years.
I never expected the Grim Meathook Future to look quite so much like the teevee stations in Robocop.
In happier news, I picked up a design client recently—he's a friend, and I'm doing pro bono work for him, in all honesty—who is running for a Superior Court Judge seat in Thurston County, Washington.
It's been interesting work, of a kind I've never done before, so that's always fun: learning a new idiom to work in. Response to what I've done for him has been quite positive, including some raves from high-ranking state political officials.
It's a weird life.
January 2016 is also, apparently, the Winter Of Venerated Celebrity Deaths.
It is also proof that 2016 didn't get the memo from 2015, in re: MAYBE DON'T SUCK, PLEASE.
David Bowie staging his passing as a massive piece of performance art is a masterpiece. That's some iron will, there, penning arguably one of his best albums in his late career while facing the reaper's scythe. God damn, that's amazing.
Lemmy, Natalie Cole, Angus Scrimm… Not a good January to be an aging celebrity.
Black Magick #5
Black Magick #4: in stores today. Buy early, buy often.
Story By: Greg Rucka
Art By: Nicola Scott
Variant Cover By: Ming Doyle
Published: January 27, 2016
Diamond ID: NOV150592
“AWAKENING,” Part Four: A stranger arrives in Portsmouth.
Image Comics | 32 pg. | Mature Readers | $3.99US
Black Magick #5 "A" cover by NICOLA SCOTT (w / ERIC TRAUTMANN)
Black Magick #5 "B" cover by MING DOYLE
Lazarus Volume 4: Poison TPB
Story By: Greg Rucka
Art By: Michael Lark
Cover By: Owen Freeman
Published: January 27, 2016
Diamond ID: NOV150672
Collecting issues 16-21, “Poison,” the fourth arc in the critically-acclaimed New York Times best-selling series. The world is at war, and Family Carlyle must fight to defend itself. With Malcolm Carlyle hovering at death’s door, the siblings struggle to maintain control. But deception and war go hand in hand, culminating in a final revelation that will truly change everything for Forever Carlyle.
Image Comics | Color | Mature Readers | $14.99US
Lazarus Volume 4: Poison cover by OWEN FREEMAN
In Progress / Coming Soon:
For those keeping score, I mentioned last time that I had started initial work on a Sekrit Projekt.
It's still Sekrit™, so for now, I'll be calling it PROJECT SABRE.
SABRE returns me to dice-and-paper game design, and the products are throwbacks to the work I did at West End Games, lo those many years ago. I'm also wrapped on logo designs for the overall product line, too, and have started work on page and layout design. Initial concept work has been done, and I've started drafting the first manuscript. I set myself a deadline of six–seven weeks, and I seem to be on target, which, HEY LOOK A UNICORN.
Here's a tiny glimpse of some of the trade dress we're working on.
What is it? What does it MEAN?
I just sent Black Magick #5 to bed, which will complete the first arc, "Awakening." The ending is a grabber. Nicola Scott has always been a terrific comics artist, but her work on Black Magick is revelatory. She's doing career defining work here. If you're not reading it, you really should be: a terrific protagonist, amazing art, Rucka's normal I-Wish-I'd-Written-That scripts… It's a lot of fun.
BLACK MAGICK #5 "A" Cover by NICOLA SCOTT (w / Eric Trautmann)
BLACK MAGICK #5 "B" Cover by STEPHANIE HANS
Also in progress: The Lazarus Sourcebook, Vol. 1: Carlyle.
To tide folks over to the May return of the regular Lazarus series, we're putting together a handbook of sorts—lots of text and artifacts and background universe info. It's not a traditional comic, but more akin to the old Marvel universe handbooks. This isn't the final cover—I put this together for the solicits, but I'm rather pleased with how it turned out.
The Lazarus Sourcebook, Volume One: Carlyle solicit cover by ERIC TRAUTMANN (not final cover)
Also in progress: we're starting up work on the second big hardcover collection, too. It's going to be massive, containing two full story arcs ("Conclave" and the aforementioned "Poison" stories), plus the expected giant pile of bonus material. And that cover by Owen Freeman? Whoa.
Lazarus: The Second Collection HC cover by OWEN FREEMAN
Dynamite Trade Dress
The first issue of Dynamite Entertainment's relaunched Red Sonja has hit shelves, and it looks very, very good. I contributed, in a very small way, to the trade dress on that title, as well as the upcoming relaunched Vampirella and Dejah Thoris series, too.
Specifically, I created what we called "sigils" that are hopefully going to find their way to other merch. For more on those sigils, I posted about the designs over on Behance, and you should check 'em out, if you're so inclined. And if you like them, drop Dynamite a line and tell them that you want coffee mugs and t-shirts. Because I want coffee mugs and t-shirts, and I'm not above crass manipulation to get them.
Red Sonja cover "Sigil" design
More (Potentially) Upcoming Stuff
I was recently approached by my friend, novelist and comic writer Matthew Sturges, to do some logo design work for some projects he's pitching. I can't really talk about it, yet, but I would happily point you to his two recent projects, Public Relations and The Four Norsemen of the Apocalypse, both from First Comics. And that logo on Four Norsemen? That was me. I did that.
And both of these are excellent books, and you should check them out.
Continuing on with my "series" of chats with various creative folks, today we have Justin Robinson, aka "Rev En Fuego," who works in Seattle-area broadcasting.
Rev is a good guy—I've been a guest on the show he works on, hosted by B.J. Shea (also a terrific guy, and someone I hope to pin down for one of these, at some point).
Eric: Tell me about yourself: Where are you from? What do you do?
Justin: I was born and raised in Washington, spending most of my time in and around the Tacoma area. I was fortunate enough to be able to intern for a local radio station (100.7 The Buzz) and when that station went through a format change, to continue my internship with (99.9) KISW. I was hired as a producer/on-air talent with KISW, which I have been with since April of 2006! As a producer my jobs have included booking guests, helping to write and create segments (bits) for the show, and a host of other things!
E: You work in broadcasting; what first sparked your interest in working in this field? It’s notorious for being both demanding and competitive and also paying rather poorly, so I’m curious what motivated you to pursue that path?
J: A couple of things helped create the spark, I guess. I have always had an interest in entertaining people. I had done some small things in terms of writing but didn't really like the process of writing all that much. I have been more of an 'in-the-moment' type of person. Having listened to a plethora of radio when I was younger, I was drawn to certain personalities such as Howard Stern, and locally T Man and Andy Savage. I had done some other artistic stuff before that, and even had gone to the Art Institute of Seattle to see if there was something that rang true for me. The Art Institute didn't work out, but I had a chance to go back to school a few years later and radio broadcasting called to me. Figuring it was my 'last' chance to do something with my life, I decided to dedicate my efforts into it and felt I had a huge knack for it.
E: What was your first job in radio?
J: My first paying job is actually the one I am currently with, which is somewhat unheard of in radio. I have been working with BJ Shea (on The Buzz, and now with KISW) my entire career. Fortunately I have been able to work with great bosses (I would consider Steve Migs, BJ Shea & Dave Richards all my bosses) who have been pretty cool in terms of helping me deal with the stress that frequently comes with a job like this.
E: So, I was going to ask you about your worst job in radio, but since you still work for BJ, that seems…impolitic, if nothing else.
J: I can talk about tasks that I feel are the worst. For being a so-called "public figure," I am an introvert. It's much easier to talk in front of a mic and not think about the people listening to you (and just focus on the people in the room). To that end, talking to people face to face has always been hard. I wouldn't call it the worst in terms of hating it, but it was hard for me in the beginning to engage in any people face to face. It's been better as I progress, but there are times where I'd rather just keep quiet and hang back rather than engage in a crowd of people.
E: And the stuff you enjoy the most?
J: Having the chance to talk to people I respect in various industries and engage them in the passions they love. I really adore talking to people who create content. I have always been envious of those who create content through their own means, really anything creator-controlled.
E: Tell me about what you do now. How did you end up working for BJ?
J: At the time, BJ was working afternoons for a talk station. I didn't want to be a "DJ" in the "spin-the-records-play-the-music" way, and I had always been interested in the talk radio aspect. I'd listened to him off and on, but started really paying attention to his show while I was going to radio school. I was set to go to Florida to intern at a rock station, but my contact ended up getting fired. I was trying to figure out where to intern and suggested to my instructor that I go with BJ.
He was very adamant about me not doing this, because BJ had quite the public history of being a pain. He figured that this would be a bad thing, as BJ may not stick around in this town (which is hilarious since he's been in Seattle for 15+ years now). I took this as the instructor not knowing what he was talking about, and when I had the chance to intern for BJ I took it. Seems to have worked out for me.
Eric: There are a lot of unsung creative fields; in comics, graphic designers, letterers, inkers, colorists are sort of nebulous areas of arcane expertise that the average audience member doesn’t pay a lot of attention to, in broad terms. I assume that, in broadcasting, there are a lot of folks who have mastered their particular craft so that the on-air personalities can shine. Tell me about that a bit. Basically, I want you to tell me about the “art” of radio.
Not many radio shows have the benefit of having a lot of people on the show, but BJ understood that in order to run smoothly, the more people who can focus on specific things the less stress each individual will have and they can then focus on being the best that they can be. The art of radio is knowing that time is the biggest currency you have. You have a certain amount of time to create/discuss something, before you just lose out on it. You only have a couple of hours/minutes before something becomes old news, and there's a lot of times where if you want to get notice you need to be the first group to jump on whatever is trending. There's a good amount of time that it takes in order to make a video, a bit, a parody song, or just a funny segment that can capitalize on something that is happening in the news. In those terms, people who can focus on a specific mean that they're not forced to also dedicate times to other endeavors (such as social media, etc), and they can make the best thing possible.
8. What’s the thing you’ve done your most proud of that no one really knows about?
Hands down it has to be when I was on the Doug Loves Movies podcast with Doug Benson. Doug has been a good friend of the show for years, and he loves games. We have a segment on our show called Beat Migs (formerly Beat the Producer), where I act as host on a game show and people try to beat Steve Migs at trivia. In addition to playing the game on our show whenever he is in town, he's invited us to play it on the podcast a couple of times. This turned into him asking if I would be a part of his show, just as myself (Justin Robinson), in front of a rather large crowd at a local theater. I have done some stuff in front of crowds before, but never like this. Having people laugh and interact with you on that level is terrifying, exhilarating, and ultimately my favorite experience. To be able to say that I 'performed' to a large crowd, and have people come up to me and say they were there (or heard it) and really enjoyed what I did, will be the height of my experiences!
9. And, of course, plug your current work, if you like.
I am on BJ & Migs. Mornings. on KISW (99.9 in Seattle or www.kisw.com) weekdays from 6a to 10a. I also am the host and producer of a geek-centric podcast called BJ Shea's Geek Nation (www.bjgeeknation.com), which has been going on for almost 5 years and over 1000 episodes! People can find me online on Facebook (TheRevEnFuego) and on twitter (@RevEnFuego) as well!
Thank you to Justin for agreeing to be interviewed. I urge you to check out his work at any of the above links.
What I'm Watching: With the passing of Abe Vigoda, I've been binge-watching old Barney Miller episodes on YouTube. Also watching Jay Roach's surprisingly good political films, Game Change and Recount.
And by god, go see The Big Short, but not if you're prone to rage or depression. Brilliant and infuriating.
A Thing I Worked On You Might Not Have Seen: Perfect Dark: Janus' Tears. A six-issue comic series that tied in with the then-new Perfect Dark: Zero video game. It also bridges the gap between Greg Rucka's two Perfect Dark novels, Initial Vector and Second Front.
Vector Art: Some crass commerce. I create the occasional vector art set for sale (generally about $5 per set). The sets are themed, and are royalty free for commercial and personal use. You can find that stuff here.