The Indie Corner:Long Beach Comic Expo 2013

Published on May 16th, 2013

For some fans the thought of a massive weekend long comic convention can be a bit overwhelming for in terms of time, energy and money. Opting for a smaller one day conventions can be a great alternative and a something to hold you over until the next show or give you a fun experience that isn’t as draining. Another thing that I like about these smaller shows is that they provide a great opportunity to up and coming comic creators allowing them to display their works without being overshadowed by huge booths showcasing the latest summer blockbuster. So for today’s Indie Corner I’ll be talking about some indie works from some of my friends DeWayne Feenstra and James Ninness who exhibited at the Long Beach Comic Expo.


DeWayne Feenstra

Last year my friends Dewayne Feenstra and Ray-Anthony Height successfully funded a Kickstarter for a creator owned comic called Midnight Tiger, which is the first title published through Write Height Media. The first issue has been sent to backers and is now available for purchase. I sat down and chatted with DeWayne Feenstra for a bit to talk about Midnight Tiger and his all ages comic The Adventures of Aero-Girl.

midnighttigerkickstarter“Meet Gavin Shaw. A disillusioned teen living in the crime infested city of Apollo Bay. On the verge of losing all faith in the ‘Capes & Tights’ of his world, fate steps in and gives him an opportunity to do the things they want and fight the battles they don’t! Finally having the means to do something and wanting to put his newfound abilities to good use, Gavin becomes the crime-fighter known as Midnight Tiger and begins his assault on the gangs and drug dealers of Apollo Bay. Making a name for himself as the city’s new protector Gavin quickly learns that with a new super-powered life comes new super-powered problems.”

Matt: Dewayne, thanks so much for sitting down with me for this chat. How is the Long Beach Comic Expo going for you so far?

DeWayne: Its been going really well. I love going to smaller conventions, there’s more interaction with the fans.

Matt: Yeah, it’s really nice to be able to showcase your goods without being overshadowed by the Big 2 or the latest Hollywood blockbuster. First off let me congratulate you on successfully funding both kickstarters.

Dewayne: Thanks. It was stressful at times but I wouldn’t change a thing.

Matt: So tell our readers a little about Midnight Tiger, which you worked on with Ray-Anthony Height.

DeWayne: Midnight Tiger is the story of Gavin Shaw. An inner city youth who gains superpowers decides to clean up the streets of Apollo Bay. I describe it as a young Daredevil or early Spider-Man style story. We’re dealing with more real crime than superhero crime. He faces off with drug dealers and gang members more than he fights alien threats. The story is as much about Gavin’s life as it is Midnight Tiger’s adventures.


Matt: It definitely had a Spider-Man influence to the storytelling but I agree and it was a bit darker in tone because you have Gavin face more real life threats such as the gang violence and drugs that Spidey doesn’t typically deal with.

DeWayne: I wouldn’t necessarily call it darker, but grounded more in reality. There are colorful super-powered beings in Gavin’s life but we’re not going to ignore what growing up an intercity would really be like. Gavin makes a conscious decision to focus more on his neighborhood because there are more powerful beings protecting the world.

Matt: A street level hero who knows his limits and does what he can to help those without his boundaries. So in the credits it says that Ray actually came up with the character of Midnight Tiger and then you came along a little bit later. What drew you in to this project?

DeWayne: Ray I have been trying to work together for the last few years but the stars were never aligned. Ray has been trying to get Midnight Tiger off the ground for a while but couldn’t escape writer’s block. He came to me and wanted to know if I had a story arc or two that I wanted to tell. After few emails we decided on a very long-term plan for the book. I think we have outlined the first 30 or so issues.

Matt: So without spoiling too many details what do you have in the works for future issues of Midnight Tiger?

DeWayne: Gavin struggles to keep his identity secret, he unknowingly gets into a love triangle and he is faced with a huge heroic moral decision.


Matt: Unlike most superhero stories you didn’t do an origin story for Midnight Tiger in the first issue. Is there any particular reason for that?

DeWayne: Because it was good enough for Batman. When Batman was still wearing the purple gloves, we didn’t know how he became Batman for a while. I really like the idea of diving into the action and revealing a little bit of his origin as we go on at the beginning of our story even Gavin doesn’t know how he has powers.

Matt: Midnight Tiger really throws you into the middle of things. Not a lot of setting up just a lot of action and showing what our Tiger can really do.

DeWayne: All will be revealed a good time. Where get his powers come from is actually the main driving force of the second arc.

Matt: And not to leave your wonderful collaborator out of this, but overall how have things been working with Ray on this book?

DeWayne: Working with Ray has been a blast. He always surprises me with how he interprets my writing. I write Marvel style so I’ll leave a lot of the design works to him. When I write I picture the scene a certain way, almost like a movie in my head. The pages he sends to me are always better than what I have pictured.

Matt: The sign of a great collaborator. And here at the show you also debuted another work, an all ages title called Aero Girl, can you tell us a little about it?

AeoGirlCoverDeWayne: The Adventures of Aero-Girl is the story of Jacqueline Mackenzie who is being trained to be a superhero by her father Battle Jack. Battle Jack’s powers come from the battle spirit and it is something he is planning on passing on to his daughter. When Battle Jack tragically falls in battle, the powers are transferred to a nearby gorilla. Aero-Girl has to deal with not only losing her father but also filling his shoes, all the while dealing with a superpower gorilla. It’s a lot more fun then how it sounds.

Matt: How has the experience of writing an all ages book been as opposed to slightly more mature book like Midnight Tiger?

DeWayne: I think the biggest challenge for me has been with the tone of each book. With Midnight Tiger things get bleak and it goes into some questionable places. With Aero-Girl out I try to keep things more positive and teach more.

Matt: Always thinking of the kids. Another thing about Aero-Girl that really stands out to me is the absolutely fantastic artwork by Axur Eneas. I’ve never heard of him before this project, where did you find him?

DeWayne: We met through twitter. Nate Cosby was doing one of his “artist hunts” and I was going through the responses and fell in love with his art.

Matt: The issue you’re handing out is a great piece of work, but what I really want to know is when are we going to see more of The Adventures of Aero-Girl?

DeWayne: The full issue will be done by the end of this month and, Lord Xenu willing, production of issue #2 will start in mid June.

Matt: Sounds great, I really look forward to reading the next installment. Thanks for joining me here at the Indie Corner, DeWayne. I really appreciate you taking the time out of your busy con schedule for this.

DeWayne: Anytime, enjoy the rest of the show.

Matt: Good luck at the rest of the con and go get em (Midnight) Tiger.


Be sure to check out DeWayne, his collaborators and his comics online.

James Ninness

dustcoverBack during my tenure at Semantink Publishing/Keyleaf Comics writer James Ninness was the main architect of the majority of our comics. Though Semantink Publishing/Keyleaf Comics is no longer active James has obtained the rights to self-publish his comics and gone on the road to promote his works. I had a chance to chat with James about “Dust” his post-apocalyptic western drawn by John Narcomey.

Matt: So James, thanks for sitting down to talk with me here at the Long Beach Comic Expo. How are you doing this fine day?

James: Good, brother. How are you?

Matt: Just fine and dandy. I’m loving the show it’s small; It’s cozy and great for all of us to snuggle up. But sadly I am not here to snuggle up with you. Much to your dismay.

James: Clearly.

Matt: I have an ulterior motive. And that is to talk about your comics.

James: You’re a sneaky one.

Matt: So you’re here promoting Dust, which is a book that was formerly published by Keyleaf Comics where we both used to work.

James: Yes sir! Just got the rights back and put out a second printing. The only difference is that this one does not have a Keyleaf logo, which is sad.

Matt: Yes, it was such a good logo and Shannon worked so hard on it. But anyway logo aside, tell our lovely audience a little about Dust.

James: DUST is a post-apocalyptic western I put together for my dad. It follows a crazy wanderer, Jim Dust, as he escorts a young botanist from Mexico City to San Diego. The whole thing takes place a couple hundred years after the end of the world. There are lipless mercenaries, Tijuana pirates, monkey-ish mutants, and gentlemen cannibals. It’s loads of fun.

Matt: And you mentioned this as an ode to your dad, what were the main influences for Dust?

James: The goal was to write a book that my father, a man who does not read comic books, would enjoy. He raised me on westerns like Silverado, and anything John Wayne or Clint Eastwood. He also raised me on cheesy science fiction and mythology flicks, pretty much anything that the late Ray Harryhausen contributed to. I wanted to make a book that combined the tropes my father and I enjoyed together. I wanted it to be something he could flip through and, while enjoying the stories, remember specific experiences he had with me while I was growing up.


Matt: Ain’t that the sweetest thing. Though when I was working in the editorial at Keyleaf I distinctly remember that Dust was the first title that we really had to put a mature audience label on. Can you tell us a little about the content included that earned that particular tag?

James: Oh, it’s a dirty book. The violence alone warrants a warning on the cover, but we took it pretty far. My cohort on this book was artist John Narcomey. He brought a particular flavor of deranged to the art. He has a Kirby-esque flavor, if Kirby was the bad guy in Seven. At every opportunity to push the macabre a bit further, or perhaps the nudity, or violence, or any other disturbing element, we took it. John would call me, ask if it was okay, and I, of course, said yes. The thing is, once we knew we were going to get the “mature reader” tab, we felt like we should earn it, like REALLY earn it. We swung for the fences.

Matt: Well deserved with that kind of stuff going on. And how was your experience collaborating with John Narcomey on Dust?


James: We had a blast. John is really great at taking an idea and presenting it with options. We discuss things and he makes the decision that he thinks is best. John had almost complete control on the art. He’s the artist! If I could draw, I wouldn’t need him. So, since I do need him, why would I tell him how to work, ya know? I let him draw. He let me write. And we had fun in the middle, where the two met.

Matt: Sounds like a match made in a post apocalyptic western heaven. Earlier you mentioned that you had regained the rights to Dust can you tell us a bit about self-publishing your work as opposed to having Keyleaf do all the heavy lifting?

James: Sure. It’s a lot harder on your own. I mean, with Keyleaf, I had financial backing, certain networks available to me, and a cadre of talented people pushing my wares. Now, all of that is gone. It’s just me, on my own. When I left Keyleaf I had five properties at one developmental stage or another. When Keyleaf broke up, I could not afford to keep those books going on my own. I had to choose which ones to continue. DUST got lucky because it was the only book that was put together. Re-releasing it was a no brainer. But, on my own, I had to deal with printers and designers, which was, in and of itself, a great deal of work. Next was The Undergrounds, a webcomic I had at Keyleaf, which I collected into a hardcover book.

Matt: Available next week.

James: The Undergrounds is available right now!

Matt: Available right now.

James:And now, I’m writing a MYTHOI novel. MYTHOI was easily the most popular Keyleaf property. I have to put something out there soon or those fans may cut me.

Matt: Well I’m happy to see that you’re still staying active and pushing these books.

James: Just trying to stay afloat. I’ve got some new stuff I’m working on. Hopefully I’ll have more announcements on those projects soon.

Matt: So how has the fan reaction been here today at the Expo? Are the sales decent?

James:Yes. I had heard mixed things from some friends about Long Beach. I’ve attended before, but never had a table. I have had a fantastic day. Great people. Good sales. I can’t complain one bit. I’m loving it.

Matt: That’s great to hear. So is there anything else you would like to tell our readers out there at Comic Impact’s Indie Corner?

James:Check out my site. You can find links to my Twitter and Facebook pages there. I love connecting, chatting, and waxing all things related to comics. Hit me up!

Matt: You heard him people. Hit him up!

James: Thanks for talking to me, Matt.

Matt: Thanks for chatting with me James.

James: Always a pleasure. We should go to Roscoe’s after the show…

Matt: That’s the best thing I’ve heard all day.

James: Peace!

Contact info and products from James Ninness can be found here.

Dust: Withered Earth

The Undergrounds: Everything Exhumed

Thanks so much to DeWayne and James for letting me bug them at their booth and chat them up about all the hard work they put into their comics. They have some really good stuff and I hope that you readers here at the Indie Corner will check out their stuff. For Comic Impact this is Matt Dunford signing off.

– Uncle Dunfy