All the tears I've cried But I wouldn't change a thing No, I wouldn't change a thing All the times we've tried But I wouldn't change a thing No, I wouldn't change a thing
So, yeah, I still suck at keeping up with this mailing list.
My name is Eric Trautmann.
I live in the Pacific Northwest. Since the last update here, this state has been on fire, then underwater. I expect the locust swarm any minute now.
I am a graphic designer.
I design logos and trade dress for business and entertainment publishing (notably comics). Ongoing projects include book design and various and sundry tasks for the Image Comics series LAZARUS and BLACK MAGICK, and THE OLD GUARD, and have become a free-range art and design guy for ADAMANT ENTERTAINMENT, making roleplaying game stuff. I am the book designer for the hardcover (and occasional IDW softcover) collections for ATOMIC ROBO.
I can do stuff for you, too, for reasonable rates.
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. I co-wrote four of the six issues in the LAZARUS spin-off miniseries, LAZARUS: X +66.
And if you enjoy this newsletter, please share the info around, so I'm not just screaming into a void. Currently, this list is very tiny (though, oddly, after not posting anything for, like, a year, the list size has doubled, so maybe you're signing up in hopes I just shut up) but hopefully it entertains you.
WHERE I'M AT TODAY
Hello, to any of you still here, to the latest in the series of newsletters that continues to prove I am the literal worst at writing newsletters.
I'm writing this the day before Thanksgiving 2019. I'm including the year because the last one of these was … a couple of years ago. Yikes. Last time, I mentioned:
Like a lot of fellow creative types, output has been generally sluggish this year.
Turns out, as a friend put it, living in a constant fight-or-flight condition is actively detrimental to health and productivity. Who knew?
It didn't get much better. Mea culpa.
I’ve been fighting with my depression for a long time and the last couple years have been extra difficult and left me a little…creatively moribund, as well as pushing me toward isolating myself. Hence the slowdown/stoppage/Jesus where the fuck did he go did he die? stuff here.
I’m trying to feel better. I’m trying to do better.
So, here we go. I’ve dusted off the keyboard, realigned the satellites, and resumed transmissions.
My thanks to those of you who stuck around.
PROGRESS REPORTS AND NEW STUFF UPDATES AND LIKE THAT
TESLADYNE: The second of the TPBs I put together for Team Robo was for REAL SCIENCE ADVENTURES: THE NICODEMUS JOB, which turned out to be a caper tale about the first supercomputer, set in 11th Century Constantinople. It was a terrific story, and it was illustrated by the amazing Meredith McClaren. It is still available, and I recommend it highly.
Also coming soon for Team Robo: RSA: The Nicodemus Job hardcover and Dr. Dinosaur wrote a terrible book about time travel. Tesladyne does the Robo HCs as Kickstarters; details here. As with the "field manual" for Robo's foe, the black ops group called ULTRA, the challenge here was to make a thing that is by definition ugly as hell into an attractive physical artifact. The hardcover edition of Dr. Dinosaur's Time Travel Through The Front Door includes a dust jacket that looks like it was folded and taped from a shopping bag. The softcover version looks like a school composition book, complete with doodles and stickers.
It was really fun.
IMAGE COMICS: First, Lazarus has returned, this time in a new quarterly release schedule and a new format which features longer story installments, short prose fiction, additional “artifacts” (about which, more later), support for The World of Lazarus roleplaying game from Green Ronin Publishing, and expanded letter column and essay material.
Lazarus: Risen #3 hit store shelves the day I’m writing this, 27 November 2019, which means we’ve hit our ship deadlines consistently since the launch of the new format.
I’ve also just completed the final edits to the design pages for the next Lazarus trade paperback, volume 6, which will collect all three of those issues. Michael Lark’s cover is so gorgeous.
Also released into the wild semi-recently: Lazarus: The Third Collection hardcover, which includes Lazarus issues #22–26, and the Lazarus: X +66 miniseries, (which I co-wrote several issues of). The volume also includes tons of the bonus material you can expect from a Lazarus hardcover. It’s a hefty tome.
Going back almost to the beginning of the series, I started doing the “fake ads” and “artifacts” featured on the back cover of each issue. The idea was, given the long histories of each of the Lazarus Families, I could develop ephemera from various eras: a 1960s advert for D’Souza’s South American meat production company; an ersatz invite to a 1930s New Years party for Bittner’s Empire State Building offices in NYC; a ca. 1990s recruitment ad for Nkosi’s mercenary company, Steelpoint Solutions; and so on.
I tried to seed tiny bits of story into this material. The New Year’s Eve party is partially burned because in actual history, an aircraft struck the Empire State Building. But here, in our poisoned little secret history of the impending Lazarus dystopia, was it an accident? A late 1980s commercial for the fictional “Rivet” video game series shows ties between the Armitage Family and Inamura and their FUN!GO!FUN entertainment electronics operation.
There’s a lot of hidden details in this material, and it was a ton of fun. But after five years and a couple dozen issues, I was concerned that I was getting a little stale.
The X +66 miniseries, running in sort of “real time” between arcs of the main series, allowed me to experiment with this kind of “in-universe” material that was contemporaneous with the content of the issue and not a callback to a past era.
Enter Richard Howe. Richard is a talented graphic designer who works for a well-respected design firm in Los Angeles. You’ve seen his work on numerous blockbuster movie posters in the multiplex. We became pals when he let me know he’d used one of my pieces of stock vector art for the DVD packaging of the first season of Legends of Tomorrow, and I was thrilled.
Turned out, he’s also a big comic fan and a fan of Lazarus as well as being hell on wheels as a poster designer.
I still design some of the material, and guide the artwork towards compliance with established “brand styles” for the relevant Families, and generally “art direct” (“Art Suggest” is more accurate). I think the look of this stuff has improved tremendously with Richard’s arrival.
And this has provided some more opportunities for behind-the-scenes stories for various ancillary characters. Richard and I are somewhat obsessed with the news and entertainment media landscape of Lazarus’ dystopian future to the point of developing elaborate backstories for various established programming. And now, with Lazarus: Risen, we’re able to sneak in more each issue—many of them little tidbits about the career of one Con Casperbeck, who escaped Hock territory as a toddler and became one of the most beloved comedic celebrities in Carlyle’s media sphere.
Greg Rucka’s and Leandro Fernández’s The Old Guard is returning soon! Issue 1 of the new chapter, “Force Multiplied,” is turned in and on press now for a January 2020 release. (I’m once again tackling the book design.) It’s also about to be a motion picture from Skydance and Netflix and stars this up-and-comer you might’ve heard of, Charlize Theron. So, there’s a thing that’s happened.
VECTOR ART: Development work on another vector art set — two, actually — is almost complete. I don’t know why I enjoy making them so much, but these sci-fi reticles/gunsights are tons of fun for me.
I’m hoping to release both sets before Christmas. In the meantime, if you are in need of stock art and like this kind of stuff, you may enjoy a visit to my vector store.
(Sneak peek at a upcoming vector sets.)
2019 was, as mentioned, an oddly dormant year for me, but I’ve also been quietly working on a handful of comics projects to pitch in 2020-21.
PROJECT SPOOKY is a steampunk-esque Victorian supernatural adventure that involves, among other things: tentacular horrors from beyond time and space; a lost toddler; the theft of the Marie Celeste; a mission into the Bermuda Triangle (where the walls between Here and There are thin), spectral leviathans speared by electric harpoons; jars filled with ghosts; and other strangeness. Waiting for the artist’s schedule to free up.
PROJECT DRY GULCH. A weird western, and a prequel to a DIFFERENT unpublished project. To be co-written with my friend Gareth-Michael Skarka. Maybe 2% done, just idle notes and concepts right now. Moving into tightening up the conceptual work in early 2020. Artist TBD.
PROJECT NUKE. A love letter to dystopian 1980s VHS low-budget sci-fi. To be co-written with Jarrod Feliciano, artist TBD. Outlined, first issue script underway.
A long dormant RPG project may FINALLY be nearing completion—it’s a year late, and that’s entirely on me. Like I said, 2019 has been…difficult.
THINGS I’M LISTENING TO:
I have fully plunged down the rabbit hole of synthwave/retrowave music—sort of a reinvention, throwback, and homage to 1980s synthesizer pop. FM-84, Timecop1980, VHS Glitch, Waverider, Futurecop!, Lazerhawk, Miami Nights 1984, Timecop1983, and Com Truise have all seen heavy rotation in my listening this year.
I’ve been a fan of Tycho for several years, and the new album “Weather” features vocals by Saint Sinner…and it is SUPERB. Highly recommended.
THINGS I’M READING:
I recently burned through the latest Stephen King, The Institute, and while it isn’t one of his greatest works, it was certainly engaging. The character work is always good, but I feel like there was a missed opportunity for a callback to "The Shop," his EvilWorks™ agency from Firestarter, among others.
Started the most recent Robert Crais novel, an Elvis Cole/Joe Pike mystery, A Dangerous Man. As is common with the later Cole/Pike stories, I’m far more interested in Elvis Cole than Crais seems to be, and I’m WAAAAY less interested in Joe Pike. But I’m only a third of the way in, so it may get better. As is, I’m engaged enough to keep going, but definitely not my favorite of the series.
Oyinkan Braithwaite’s novel, My Sister, The Serial Killer, is a ton of fun. Sly, smart, and ridiculously deadpan. It’s short, but packs a lot into the pages. Korede is a young Nigerian woman. Her little sister has a bad habit of murdering her boyfriends. Good thing Korede — a crime-scene clean up specialist — knows how to scrub away evidence. Highly recommended for fans of the good episodes of Dexter.
Thank you for reading. Have a happy holiday (if you partake).