Monday, June 18, 2018

A Brief Q&A with the Authors of The Comic Signal's AUTHOR ALLEY Volume 1

I asked the three authors who will be attending the first AUTHOR ALLEY at THE COMIC SIGNAL, July 14th, when did they start writing and why, back then, why did they feel the need to write stories, tales, fictional wonders. Here are their answers...


My mom still remembers me telling stories about my imaginary friends before I could read. I’ve just always told stories, written stories, even game-mastered stories for role-playing games. Stories are in my blood.

But when did I get serious about it? I dabbled in my teens, got rejections, and gave up. I dabbled in my twenties, got rejections, and gave up. In my thirties, I gave up the dream, pouring myself into my programming career. But the dream wouldn’t stay down. At age 47, I tried again; and this time I didn’t let rejection stop me. I kept going.

Nine months later, I was a Finalist in Writers of the Future. Three months after that, I made my first sale.

So my advice to young writers: don’t be like me. Don’t give up.

As to why... We need to understand the universe. And some of us, if we can’t find explanations, we make them up. I love getting an idea and trying to make sense of it, to make it fit in the world — even if it’s an imaginary world.


When did I start writing fiction? Probably when I could hold a pencil and actually write words. LOL It started in grade school/elementary school for me. Don't why, just that I liked writing little adventure stories of either just me as the main character, or me with friends having some form of crazy adventure either around school or in the neighborhood I grew up within. (Grand Rapids West Side YES!)

Why did I feel the need to craft fictional tales? I'm not sure. I simply had a vivid imagination. Books and movies of the time inspired me. Heston's Planet of the Apes. Eastwood's Kelley's Heroes. I know real-life news of the day worried me and I probably wrote as a way of therapy. (I grew up during the high heat of the Cold War, massive war between USA and Russia always on my mind). I think also writing was just a natural outlet for me, to discuss life, to discuss dreams. Plus reading has always been a acceptable escape and pasttime to venture into another place, time, world, character.


Hello? Bryan? My gosh! Where'd he go?

We'll get back to Bryan after we peel him from his keyboard and all his other activities.

UPDATE 6/19/2018...found Bryan! :)

As far back as elementary school I've been dreaming up and telling stories. I started (and stopped) many stories as a high school student. I was also a gamer - pencil and paper RPG's before consoles. I never took it seriously until I wrote my first book (ironically, it was a non-fiction title about church security). At that point, I thought I'd go ahead and actually finish a story that I started. 


I wrote stories as a way to escape. i was bored with reading about other heroes, about other places, about other times. I wanted to tell my own stories. Now? Once I cracked open that floodgate, I have to let it out. I have a world in my head that needs to be explored.


Come visit Martin, Bryan and little ole me at THE COMIC SIGNAL July 14th and talk to us about why we do what we do. We'll even have evidence of our literary insanity.

Friday, May 25, 2018

You need to save the World


We need you to create on. We need your talents, your artistic skills, your ideas, your imagination.

We need to be entertained. We need to be enlightened. We need to read something that may inspire something great within us.

Create on, I say. Create on.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Artist CARLOS VILLAS Interview

Hello folks. I "met" Carlos Villas while searching for potential illustrators to do some artwork for my self-pubbed Fantasy line of publications/books. I reached out to him, and he graciously responded quickly and the rest is history. I commissioned him to do a rendering of my Braccus Straun character, and also another upcoming Fantasy yarn featuring a badass Bull-man (the results you can view further down the page...the one with the "Minotaur" dude holding the severed head of, well, another fellow beast gentleman.)


CREATIVES HELP BOARD: When did you first realize you wanted to be an illustrator?

CARLOS VILLAS: I`ve been painting since I was a little kid, so I actually never had a doubt I`d pursue art as a career. I worked a couple of years as a freelance artist in Mèxico City, and then tried the fine art road. I did get a couple of prizes and shows, but nothing that really filled my expectations because I love to do creatures and monsters, and you can imagine not a lot of people would hang one of those bad boys in his or her house. I abandoned art for many years (professional art) and focused on my business. Around 4 years ago I saw what people were doing with digital art so I bought a tablet, and Photoshop and started teaching myself.... and haven`t looked back. I have no doubt I want to create in this digital format, not exactly illustration, but illustration, concept and creature/character design, that`s the goal.

CHB: Have you ever had times feeling like "why in the hell am I doing this? What am I even doing this for?" And what do you do to pull yourself away from that negative path and way of thinking?

CV: I`m pretty sure I must have had those times, but usually I`ve always been pretty straight forward on staying on this road, specially the last year, I decided to go for it. Just outwork them (negative thinking or attitude) and keep going for it and trying to get better every single day.

CHB: What do you draw your inspiration and ideas from? Books you've read? Other artists you've seen? Besides the act of creating, do you think it is important to study and/or read what others are doing or have done?

CV: I think ideas and inspiration have always been there. I just love to take a blank canvas and start working on it without knowing exactly where am I going with it (personal projects). Usually when I do commissions, as soon as the client tells me what they need, I get a pretty good picture of it in my head and then it`s just a matter of playing with that idea on the canvas. Books and movies are amazing inspiration resources as well as looking at other artist`s work online. I do think it`s really important to see what other`s are doing, not to copy it, but to incorporate what might work into your art/workflow. I keep watching tutorials almost everyday, and enjoy them as much as if I was watching a cool horror movie.

CHB: What are some other Creatives...writers and/or illustrators...that have inspired you and you think would be good inspiration for others?

CV: There are so many amazing artists! The one that truly amazed me was Frazzetta, then Vallejo... while I started working as a freelance artist I loved Mark Fredrickson (amazing airbrush illustrator), and then I got more into Fantasy and concept art, 2 and 3 D, following artists like Berni Wrightson, Bisley, Maciej Kuciara, Ben Mauro, Maxim Verehin, Caleb Nefzen, Piotr Jablonski, Ken Barthelmey.... man, I could keep going...

CHB: Besides plugging into some heavy metal rock-n-roll goodness, what does the Carlos Villas Cave of Creativity start with each time you visit it to create your magic? Favorite hours to create? Other "rituals?" What disciplines do you provide yourself when starting or continuing to work on a project to make sure you complete it?

CV: I always start working at 9 or 10am, just after I take my son to school, have breakfast. I start working until they tell me it`s time to eat LOL, then I keep working until 6pm. I spend some time with the family and, as soon as my wife falls asleep (around 10-11), I go back to work until 2 or 4 in the morning. Sometimes I do take a couple of hours off for family reasons, pick up my kid, take him to his swimming or painting classes, or going to the movies, but I try to always hit it again late at night. Night seems always the best time. Less distractions. As for the mood....always music, all kinds of music, and my Coca-Cola with a lot of ice.... THAT does the trick.

CHB: Why do you enjoy rendering/illustrating/creating creatures and monsters versus sweeping mountain vistas and dazzling orange sunsets?

CV: I have no idea! LOL I have always enjoyed rendering/creating organic things. I find the variations on them (skin, colors, texture) just amazing. Lately, I have found joy in rendering/painting backgrounds, but my first love will always be the creature itself.

CHB: What's your favorite type of creature to render? Something known, like a Frankenstein monster, or unknown and original?

CV: I would always prefer to create my own creature/characters, but I also love the challenge to give an existing character my own twist.

CHB: And do you lean more towards Fantasy or SciFi...or enjoy them both equally?

CV: I lean more towards Fantasy, specially Horror. SciFi has some pretty amazing opportunities, and it usually includes hard surfaces (which I`m trying to learn and become better at), but Horror and Fantasy bring the best out of me.

CHB: What kind of advice would you give beginner imaginators/creatives?

CV: I would advise them to just keep painting, there`s no substitute to practice, just keep painting and painting, learn new programs and ways to do your work better and faster. There`s no magic formula, but this one will eventually get you there. Become so good that they (art appreciators) will have to notice you.


CARLOS VILLAS is a freelance illustrator currently working almost exclusively in digital art utilizing Photoshop. However, he has also worked in all traditional media and mediums.

For inquiries:

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Author/Actor ANTHONY MONDAL talks about the Creative Spirit

First off, I want to say I apologize for the long, looong time between Creative's posts. Was a busy year last year, and simply didn't get around to posting interviews and information on some great Creatives I met last year. So...without further adieu...

I met Mr. Mondal at a B&N Michigan Author event about a year ago. He was a great pleasure to talk to. Friendly. Enthusiastic about his craft and what the rest of us crazed writers/creators were doing.


A BURST OF SUNSHINE is his second book of a collection of poems. He dedicated the book to his late parents and says: "They are long gone, but, somehow, life goes on and their beautiful memories are still scattered all over, like flower petals as blessings showering over my head."

The book is also dedicated to sensitive, kind and intelligent people: women, men, boys and girls from all walks of life. Anthony continues: "For in them lies the dreams, hopes and futures of a better tomorrow. Let Light prevail and Darkness be gone."


CREATIVES HELP BOARD: Welcome Anthony. What do you do from a Creative standpoint and why?

ANTHONY: I am basically a poet, novelist and actor, and sometimes I also write song lyrics, which to me is very similar to poetry. If you had mentioned to me in high school, that I would pick up writing and acting (mostly as out of work actor!) as a profession. I would stare at you in disbelief. I love to write and act…I almost feel compelled to do so, it is hard to explain. Anyway the academic life was always a struggle for me and I found it dull and boring. Using Imagination makes me come Alive! That is why I am probably still at it.

CRB: How do you keep this Creative passion alive?

ANTHONY: To keep Creative passion alive, on the long run is truly a challenge.  Individually it was a no brainer for me to drop out from 9-5 cubicle mentality and be a full time artist. But that necessarily did not mean the writing and acting world embraced me with open arms. My journey so far has been one full of struggles (financial, emotional) many sacrifices and dealing with rejections on a daily basis.  When I did get a bit of break …it would raise my spirits and hopes, but only to be disappointed down the road. At the end, all you hold onto is your body of work.

CRB: Is it important for us Creatives, us imaginators, to continue to pursue our passion in this day and age?

ANTHONY: Even more so than ever, Creatives and Imaginators are needed to Rethink and Reshape our world. To provide different perspectives and viewpoints, to engage in Arts that encourages dialogues and conversations that goes beyond national borders and our obvious human differences. Man does not live by bread alone (even if there are cakes of many varieties!) Let Artists re-imagine a world closer to our hearts desires.

CRB: What would you say to someone who hasn’t stepped out into the world, who wants to share their creativity like you do?

ANTHONY: I welcome them with open arms as they become a part of this creative tribe. Do not be discouraged. Let well established artists even help the younger ones, to reach their goals and destinations. More than taking classes and courses, jump into Life, say a resounding YES! to Experiences. If you want it bad enough……Go all the Way.

CRB: What is your greatest challenge in your creative endeavors and how do you overcome this?

ANTHONY: To be financially independent as an artist. Sadly we live in a financial world and I as an artist am not exempt from the basic survival necessities of life, like food, shelter and clothing. I have been working all sorts of blue collar jobs, since my graduation from Calvin College since 1995, to keep my body and soul intact. Honestly I am beyond tired. I guess I am living on hopes and prayers.



Anthony Mondal is a modern poet, novelist and actor. He considers himself simply as an artist beyond the confines of nationality and religion. He published his first book of poems under a different name. The collection of poems was titled Dialogues With My Self (ISBN 1-58915- 022-8). His most recent book of poems was titled A Burst of Sunshine which is his second published book (Nov 2012). He lived in New York City for over ten years pursuing writing, acting and song writing. He received his BA from Calvin College in 1995. He currently resides in Michigan, USA. He also has worked upon a number of poetry videos while living in London, UK (The Blessed Rain, Who will Fix it Who will Mend? and Wake up Call ) which are currently on YouTube. At present he is working on an existential novel tentatively named "In Search Of...." and a memoir and other writings. Anthony Mondal’s book is available on Amazon as well as on Rose Dog Books (his publisher). A Burst of Sunshine is also available in Great Lakes Commonwealth Of Letters (GLCL) Library in Grand Rapids, in Clarksville Public Library, and North Muskegon Walker Branch Public Library.