Tag: Todd Herman

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    Todd Herman Shares Exclusive Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf Sketches

    Patricia Briggs Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf ComicsWe’re coming to the end of Dynamite Month, but we still have some excellent interviews up our sleeves. Today we’ve got an in-depth interview with Todd Herman, the artist for Dynamite’s upcoming revamp of the Patricia Briggs’ Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf comics!

    He talked with us about the difficulties of learning wolf anatomy, what advice he’d offer to aspiring artists, and what he used as inspiration for the book. Plus, take an exclusive peek at his Cry Wolf character designs, including his original “Anna,” which he changed dramatically after reading the book!

    TFAW.com: How did you become involved with Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf?

    Todd Herman: I became involved with Cry Wolf because of editor Rich Young. I had been doing pencils for Rich on Warriors: Jailbreak at Dabel Brothers, which I got involved with because Rich and I go way back from his days at Dark Horse. When Dabel acquired the rights to Warriors, Rich had heard me vocalize my interest in doing Warriors material enough times that he approached me (and my collaborators Erik Henriksen and Herb Apon) to make a pitch. Fast forward a few years later when Dynamite Entertainment acquired Dabel’s properties, including Jailbreak, and Rich (who was now editing for Dynamite) said he thought I’d be appropriate for a new book they were doing called Cry Wolf and asked if I would be interested in sending them a few tryout pages. I did, and the author of Cry Wolf [Patricia Briggs] chose me out of the handful of artists they were considering for the book!

    TFAW.com: Have you read the books at all?

    TH: I had not read the books before embarking on the material. I had heard of Patricia Briggs and the character Mercy Thompson, but Cry Wolf and Anna and Charles were new to me. Since I started the book I’ve read Cry Wolf and Hunting Ground, they’re great!

    Todd Herman's Original "Anna Latham" Character Design
    Todd Herman's Original "Anna Latham" Character Design

    TFAW.com: What was the most challenging part of designing the different characters?

     

    TH: Ha! Well . . . designing the characters was a lot of fun, I think the only real incongruity was that the tryout pages I did were based on the covers of the novels, other than that I was going on very little knowledge of the characters. However, once I got the job, read the script, and read the first novel, I realized that Anna was a much more subtle character than the one portrayed on the cover of the books, I love those covers, but she looks like a larger-than-life superhero on them, and that wasn’t really going to work for the very human aspect of the story we were trying to tell inside the book.

    Also, I had to pay special attention to the height and size of the characters. Patty is pretty specific that Charles and Sam are very tall in the books, while Asil, Anna, and Bran are considerably shorter. Dressing them all in Western wear that said more Montana then Texas was a fun challenge! Oh, and also I had to sync up some of my character designs with that of artist Amelia Woo, who is drawing the Mercy Thompson comics. Certain characters cross over, and I had to make sure I was on the same page as she was.

    TFAW.com: Was it difficult to draw all of the wolves? How did you prepare for that?

    TH: Drawing animals is definitely not my forte–it took me a long time just to learn human anatomy–and previously, when I’d had to draw dogs or horses or birds in a comic or animation, it was usually just for a panel, if that, so it was easy to Google an image that I could crib from. But with this book, the wolf counterparts of the characters are a major part of the book, so I had to really break down wolf/dog anatomy, not to mention learn how in the world to draw fur, and make sure it didn’t look like I was just copying a photograph.

    Todd Herman's Revised "Anna Latham" Character Design
    Todd Herman's Revised "Anna Latham" Character Design

    In particular, it made me really admire all over again guys like Arthur Adams who can draw any animal on the planet just as expertly as his best drawings of Batman, She Hulk, or Wolverine. In fact I remember one of the very first conventions I went to when I was trying to break in, I’d shown Arthur a pin-up of the Challengers of the Unknown that I’d drawn, where one of them was riding an elephant. I was really, really proud of that drawing, and the first thing out of his mouth was, “You really don’t know anything about drawing elephants, do you?” Ha! He was right!

     

    TFAW.com: How do you differentiate between all of the wolves, to make them recognizable?

    TH: Mostly it’s through size and color. Most of the wolves are a variation on the same basic structure but have specific markings or eye color, according to Patty’s books. I made up a list of the wolves for my editor to give to the colorist early on, being specific, for instance, that this one has a silver tail, or black paws, or that when they’re using their magic their eyes are blue, or yellow. And then I’ll usually send a diagram of a page for my editor to forward to the colorist, labeling who each wolf on each page is so the colorist can keep track!

    TFAW.com: Did you draw inspiration from any other artists for this?

    TH: Well, I initially looked real carefully at Mike Mignola’s Wolves of St. August, mostly just to see how he drew his werewolves. But Mike’s so iconic and stylized that it’s good to study him and then step away–if I tried to draw like him I’d just make a fool out of myself. After that my inspiration was Alex Toth’s romance stories from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, which I’m fanatical for. This book, despite having werewolves, is primarily a romance, and nobody but nobody did romance like Toth.

    In particular, I looked at the way he drew facial expressions and body language, the way he could draw a look of longing for another on a person’s face, the subtlety when their hands would touch, and of course, the way he drew a kiss. Best kisses in comics, hands down. I love how the man would place his hands on a woman’s face as he kissed them, almost holding her head counterclockwise and upside down. Really, deeply moving stuff. Toth could upstage Klimpt when it came to drawing an embrace, in my opinion.

    Todd Herman's "Charles Cornick" Character Design
    Todd Herman's "Charles Cornick" Character Design

    Oddly enough, my other inspiration was Jim Steranko, who I’m in the process of rediscovering. When Marvel reprinted his graphically innovative Nick Fury books in the ’80s I snapped ’em up, and included among the reprints was a rarely seen gem, a romance story he did with Stan Lee called My Heart Broke in Hollywood, which I’ve always loved. When I got assigned Cry Wolf, I remembered that story, which I hadn’t seen in years, and I dug it out and fell in love all over again. In particular, the flat line approach of the drawing, the graphic design-inspired stylization of the women, and the very dreamy quality of the page layouts . . . Steranko, baby!!! Do yourselves a favor and look him up if you’ve never seen his work, his influence is more pervasive than ever in modern comics. Plus Stan’s dialogue on My Heart Broke in Hollywood is so corny and hilarious even for him, it’s gotta be read to be believed!

     

    TFAW.com: Why do you think people love werewolves so much right now?

    TH: Do people love werewolves right now? I’d assumed the enduring fad was and always will be vampires! Good question, I think that werewolves are a classic. Like Dracula, Godzilla, and Frankenstein, they’re probably the most easily recognized and most enduring of monsters, and can be interpreted any number of ways, and I’m sure that the romantic interpretation of them is always going to be popular, plus if you’re going to have the power to turn into any animal, well . . . a dog is probably too much of a pet, horses are generally too big and limited in an emotional setting, and fish, lizards, and birds have less emotional range.

    I don’t know, wolves are sexy and slightly dangerous, they have an edge! My own view on the enduring human fascination with werewolves is that it boils down to a evolutionary fear of predatory animals, despite being at the top of the food chain, coupled with our own human fear deep down psychologically that we’re animals, too. That’s a concept that in my opinion many humans have trouble coming to grips with, especially considering how we’ve treated animals historically as well as in our everyday lives.

    Todd Herman's "Asil" Character Design
    Todd Herman's "Asil" Character Design

    TFAW.com: You’ve done several horror comics in the past, including The Fog and Cut, but this is more like a horror-romance comic. What changes to your style did that require, if any?

     

    TH: Considering that the bulk of my work so far has been horror, Westerns, fantasy/adventure, or something along those lines, this book wasn’t too much of a stretch, coupled with my aforementioned love of romance comics!

    TFAW.com: What were your favorite comics, growing up?

    TH: All of them. Seriously. Charles Schultz, newspaper comics, Spider-Man, anything by Gil Kane, Curt Swan’s Superman. Anything by Bill Mantlo, his and Michael Golden’s Micronauts were pretty huge. I know everyone likes to cite EC and Warren, but when I was a kid I loved going to the barber shop because they had copies of The Witching Hour, House of Mystery, The Unexpected, Secrets of Sinister House, etc. I have enduring fond memories of discovering Frank Miller’s Daredevil, and Matt Murdoch’s heroism despite his ever-disastrous love life.

    TFAW.com: You’ve been involved with comics and animation for years now. Do you have any advice for fledgling artists?

    TH: Oof. That’s an interview in and of itself. If you show your work to a professional, try to keep your mouth shut and really listen, and take criticism well, which can really be hard, but it’s an essential part of the territory. You don’t have to agree with every bit of advice they give you, but if they’re working and you’re not, then they know something you don’t, therefore you have something to learn from them. Try to develop a simplified, pared-down style for your layouts, so that you can really get the storytelling down and firing on all cylinders before you dig in with the fun dessert part of the drawing. There’s nothing more frustrating than working really hard on a finished drawing that you’re patting yourself on the back for, but then realizing the structure of the storytelling is unsound.

    Todd Herman's "Sam" Character Design
    Todd Herman's "Sam" Character Design

    If you work in mainstream comics, your editor will make you fix it, no matter how pretty your rendering is in any given panel. Beyond that, I’d say learn to draw the figure, you’ll never regret it. Try to be versatile in your style approach: different stories require varied ways of thinking. One aspect of comics that’s super cool and not to be taken for granted is that if there’s a cartoonist out there who inspires you, there’s a good chance they’re accessible, and you’ll get at least a minute or two to meet them at a signing or convention. Use that time to pick their brain, find out how they did what they did and got to be where they are, and read any and all interviews that are available. Experience life, get out of your safety zone both as a person and an artist, learn to at least appreciate the work that is diametrically opposed to yours, and it will only enrich what you are already trying to do. There’s a great Alan Moore quote I once read, “Don’t be cool. Like everything.”

     

    TFAW.com: If you could do a creator-owned book, what would it be?

    TH: Oh gosh! I’d like to do at least one original supernatural horror graphic novel in my lifetime, and one comedy graphic novel as well. My two favorite genres are comedy and horror, and I love that, to a certain extent, you can gauge their success very simply: Is it scary? Did the audience scream? Was it funny? Did the audience laugh? I’d also like to do an anthology of horror short stories, that sounds like a lot of fun. When I was growing up it seemed like superheroes were the only option for paying comics work, now it seems like the field’s more accepting to diversity, which is a dream come true! I remember thinking as a kid, wouldn’t it be cool to just draw horror comics for a living, which seemed about as realistic as flying to the moon with a jet pack that runs on Jell-O! Nowadays the field has changed, and that doesn’t seem so unrealistic. I don’t know, we’ll see!

    TFAW.com: What other projects are you working on?

    Todd Herman's "Bran" Character Design
    Todd Herman's "Bran" Character Design

    TH: Right now, I pretty much only have time for Cry Wolf, and I’ll be doing that book up until the spring, far as I know. I finished Warriors: Jailbreak not long ago, and hopefully that’ll be out soon, that book’s been a dream come true. Beyond that, I’d be up for more Cry Wolf if the opportunity arises. I have no idea what Dynamite’s plans are for further material, but that seems like a natural next step I’d be open to. Looks like I might be squeezing in some commercial stop-action animation work some time after the holidays, but we’ll see. Beyond that, depending on my schedule, I’ve been batting around ideas with one of my oldest partners in crime for an original horror graphic novel, or an adaptation of a very old classic horror story that is now in the public domain, but I don’t want to say any more than that for fear of jinxing it! Stay tuned!

     

    We want to thank Todd Herman for taking a break from drawing to answer all of our questions. Make sure to pre-order Patricia Briggs’ Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf comics here and save 20%!

    READ OUR INTERVIEW WITH CRY WOLF WRITER DAVID LAWRENCE

    PRE-ORDER PATRICIA BRIGGS’ ALPHA & OMEGA: CRY WOLF AND SAVE 20%

    VISIT OUR DYNAMITE MONTH PAGE

    Are Herman’s character designs for Cry Wolf on the nose? Post your comments below!

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    Patricia Briggs’ Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf Returns With David Lawrence

    Patricia Briggs Alpha & Omega Cry Wolf ComicsWe first spoke with writer David Lawrence about Patricia Briggs’ Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf back in 2009. An adaptation of Briggs’ popular werewolf series, the comic book was scheduled to be released by Dabel Brothers, the publisher that had also released adaptations of Briggs’ Mercy Thompson books. Plans hit a snag when Dabel Brothers ceased production, but the project was picked up by Dynamite Entertainment, which released issue #1 back in 2010.

    Since then, fans have been eagerly awaiting the next installment of the adventures of werewolves (and mates) Anna and Charles, and their patience is about to pay off! The revamped series returns with issue #2 (titled, fittingly enough, “Second Chances”) next month, featuring longtime Patricia Briggs collaborator David Lawrence and a brand-new artist, Todd Herman. We interviewed Lawrence as part of Dynamite Month, and he explained why the series went on hiatus, whether new readers will be able to jump right in, and why it’s now better than ever. Plus, we have a five-page preview of Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf #2 to enjoy!

    TFAW.com: It’s been quite awhile since the first issue of Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf was released.

    David Lawrence: It sure has. Long enough to have a baby, I think. And sometimes it seemed like giving birth might have been simpler. But I think it was worth the wait.

    TFAW.com: Will new readers be able to jump right in?

    DL: God, I hope so. I’ve certainly done my best to structure the story that way. It’s a fine line, giving the reader the essential information while not bogging things down with a long recap. I’ve tried to be creative about it. I’d say if you haven’t seen the first issue, don’t be afraid, come on in. And if you have seen the first issue, the extra time and work has resulted in a much better, more entertaining comic.

    Alpha & Omega Cry Wolf #2 Page 1TFAW.com: a specific reason for the long delay?

    DL: Nobody likes to admit this about their work, but that first issue was not very good. More than anybody else I have to take responsibility for that. I can give you a lot of reasons. It was published by Dynamite, but the book was produced in the dying days of Dabel Brothers Publishing, and there was a lot going on. I was spending a lot of time trying to get business matters straightened out, for myself and other creators. I think, unfortunately, the book reflected that.

    I’m grateful that instead of simply killing the project, or continuing down the wrong road, the nice folks at Dynamite chose a different path. They took a lot of time and spent a lot of money to get it right.

    The scripts are 100% better because I got to focus on this instead of the business problems at DBP. The art is really wonderful and really unique. Todd Herman has this kind of Mike Ploog-Mike Mignola type of vibe that is perfect for this book. He wasn’t the safe choice, but he was the right choice, in my opinion. I feel bad for the original artist and I’m not saying the problems with the book were his fault. But this is comics, and part of starting over is inevitably giving the book a different look.

    We’ve even done a new issue #1, by the way, but for a variety of complicated, contractual types of reasons, it will only appear in the graphic novel, not as a single issue.

    Whew! You still awake after that answer?

    TFAW.com: How much input does Patricia Briggs have with these adaptations?

    DL: I hope it doesn’t sound flip if I say “As much as she wants,” but that really is the answer. First, these are Patty’s stories and Patty’s characters. I’m adapting them pretty faithfully and what Patty says goes. She reads everything. She looks at all the artwork. Patty and I have worked together for about three years now. Cry Wolf is our third trip to the park together. She understands very well the difference between telling a story in words and telling it with pictures, and I appreciate and am touched that she has a great deal of trust in me both as a writer and as a person who has the best interests of her characters at heart.

    Alpha & Omega Cry Wolf #2 Page 2If Patty is very busy and everything is good she might not say a word, or she might just send thanks to me or the artist. But if she sees something that needs to be fixed, it gets fixed.

    TFAW.com: One of your previous adaptations, Mercy Thompson: Moon Called has been collected in graphic novel form. What was the most memorable part of working on that project?

    DL: From a selfish point of view, it might have been the moment Patty told me she liked my ending to the story better than hers. Coming from a writer of her ability that’s quite a compliment.

    But in reality I’d say it was working with Amelia and watching her grow as an artist and a storyteller. I always felt that our first Mercy series, Homecoming, wasn’t really a fair reflection of her ability. She jumped on board halfway through with no time to prepare, and the artist switch left her facing just impossible deadlines. I’m glad she got a fair chance to show what she can do.

    And what she can do is just gorgeous. I can give her descriptions like “the wolf looks confused” and she just nails it. What the hell does a confused wolf look like? I have no idea when I write that down. But time and again Amelia figures it out.

    TFAW.com: What resonates with you about her books?

    DL: I’m really a character guy more than a detailed plotter. For me, the story flows from the characters, not vice-versa. So it’s really her characterizations that most appeal to me. I have a reaction to her characters. Some of them I like very much. Mercy, of course. Zee, the metal-working gremlin, is another favorite. But even her villains are real enough to me that I understand them. Usually I pity them more than I hate them.

    Alpha & Omega Cry Wolf #2 Page 3TFAW.com: So many of the characters in Mercy Thompson’s world aren’t quite what they seem: they have hidden sides and personas. Even Mercy herself is a bit of a dichotomy! How do you keep track of these complex characters?

    DL: Part of the answer is that I keep it simple. I don’t look too far ahead. People are surprised when I tell them I read the novels one at a time. At this point Moon Called is the only novel in the Mercy series I’ve read. Cry Wolf is the only novel in the Alpha & Omega series I’ve read, and the opening novella, of course. Characters grow and change over time. If I’ve got the Mercy and Adam of book four in my head it’s tough to go back and write the Mercy of book one.

    But the bigger part of the answer is that Patty creates well-rounded, compelling characters who are easy to keep straight in my head. Even the walk on parts are distinctive enough that you remember them.

    TFAW.com: Patricia’s Alpha & Omega books have a lot more romance than her Mercy Thompson books, which you’ve also adapted for comics. How does that affect your creative process?

    DL: I don’t think my work is affected so much by the presence of a love story at the core as it is by the fact that this is a story with two co-equal lead characters. In Moon Called and the Mercy books, Mercy Thompson is the star. Here I have to give roughly equal weight to two characters and two points of view. That can be tricky. But on the other hand, it’s easier sometimes when you have two characters who can talk to each other instead of one operating alone.

    But even beyond that, I think this is more of an ensemble book than the Mercy series. I’m not saying it’s the Justice Society of Werewolves, but there are several other characters who play very large, key roles in the story.

    TFAW.com: Can you introduce Cry Wolf‘s Anna and Charles?

    Alpha & Omega Cry Wolf #2 Page 4DL: Anna and Charles are really polar opposites. Charles was born a werewolf, which makes him a one-of-a-kind creature in Patty’s world. Werewolves are made, not born. It took a great deal of love and magic to make it happen. Everything about being a wolf comes very naturally to him and he is very good at it all. He’s powerful and dominating, but maybe because of his uniqueness he’s always stood just a bit apart from everybody else.

    Anna was changed to a werewolf against her will, a major no-no among the wolves of Patty’s world. It’s a crime comparable to rape to change someone without their permission. And that was only the beginning of the abuse she faced in a renegade wolf pack. She was rescued by Charles and is just beginning to learn about herself. As a wolf and as a woman.

    TFAW.com: How well do they function as a couple, and how does their relationship affect the flow of the story?

    DL: Not very well at all, at least at first. They’ve kind of been thrown together. Charles is a loner. Anna is scarred and scared. It will take them some time to grow accustomed to each other. Even to the idea of each other. But this being good drama, in the end their fate, and the fates of others, will depend on their ability to do so.

    TFAW.com: What are the differences between an Alpha and an Omega wolf?

    DL: An Alpha is territorial, aggressive if threatened, used to being in command. An Omega is not really the opposite of an Alpha. That would be a submissive. An Omega more, and it seems like I keep coming back to this, stands apart. She doesn’t take orders. She doesn’t give orders. She has strong protective instincts without an appetite for aggression.

    TFAW.com: What makes an Omega wolf so valuable?

    Alpha & Omega Cry Wolf #2 Page 5DL: Omegas are very rare. A werewolf could live centuries without encountering one. They are natural peacemakers. They have a sort of mystical ability to smooth discord. This could be a very valuable gift in the violent world of a wolfpack. Despite being functionally immortal, by human standards, most werewolves don’t live very long because they have the nasty habit of fighting and killing each other. Someone like Anna could bring that to an end.

    TFAW.com: Why do you think no one recognized Anna’s status before Charles?

    DL: Actually, her status was recognized. She was transformed precisely because the Alpha of her first pack had use for her special abilities. But he also found it useful to keep Anna in the dark.

    TFAW.com: Anna is different than a lot of take-charge heroines; she’d been victimized for years by her pack before being rescued by Charles. How do you prepare to write a character like that?

    DL: Anna is no pushover. Just because she’s not spoiling for a fight doesn’t mean she won’t stand up for herself. Or others. She’s been through a lot, but there is a spine of iron in that girl. It’s just going to take her a while to discover it.

    TFAW.com: What are the major differences between writing for Mercy and Anna?

    DL: The biggest difference goes back to something I already mentioned. Mercy is a solo act. For all of the strong supporting cast she is the single star of the show. With Anna and Charles we’ve got two characters sharing the spotlight. Their interaction takes center stage more than either of them as a lone character does.

    TFAW.com: In Cry Wolf, a rogue werewolf is slaughtering humans. Do human know about werewolves in this world? If so, how do they typically relate to each other?

    Patricia Briggs Alpha & Omega Cry Wolf ComicsDL: Humans don’t know about werewolves. Yet. One of the underpinnings of Cry Wolf and Moon Called is that the Alpha of the whole North American continent realizes they can’t keep the secret much longer. He knows he has to go public but it’s a matter of when and how.

    TFAW.com: First vampires had a pop-culture resurgence, thanks to books like Twilight, and now it seems like werewolves are more popular than ever. What do you think people find so appealing about werewolves?

    DL: Seems like in troubled times humans often turn to monsters. Consider that the whole classic Universal cycle of Frankenstein, Wolfman, and Dracula began in some of the darkest days of the Great Depression.

    It’s almost a cliche to say that we are drawn to the monsters not because they are different, but because of what they reveal about ourselves. Werewolves are really sort of a Jekyll and Hyde story on steroids. We all have that stuff that we try to keep bottled up, and we fear that it might explode sometimes. We fear the loss of control. Maybe these stories help us to understand and embrace it.

    Or maybe I just talk too much. Never dismiss that possibility.

    TFAW.com: Are you and Patricia planning to bring the other books in her Alpha & Omega series to comics?

    DL: I have a hard time imagining not working with Patty. She’s a great writer and a better person. I can’t imagine her characters not having a bright future in comic books and I hope to be a part of that for a long time.

    We want to thank David for taking the time to answer all of our questions. You can pre-order Patricia Briggs’ Alpha & Omega: Cry Wolf comics here at TFAW.com and save 20%! Plus, stay tuned to our exclusive interview with Cry Wolf artist Todd Herman this Friday, in which he shares some behind-the-scenes details, including his original character designs!

    PRE-ORDER PATRICIA BRIGGS’ ALPHA & OMEGA: CRY WOLF AND SAVE 20%

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    Are you a Patricia Briggs fan? Are you excited to see Cry Wolf in comic-book form? Post your comments below!

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    Horror Comics Panel at Stumptown Comics Fest

    A very talented group of editors and creators sat down and talked about the past and future of horror comics at Stumptown Comics Fest 2011, including Dark Horse Senior Managing Editor Scott Allie (B.P.R.D. The Dead Remembered), editor Shawna Gore, Eric Powell (The Goon), Patric Reynolds (Let Me In), Todd Herman (Cut), and Brandon Seifert (Witch Doctor). Check it out below:

    Horror Comics

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    Todd Herman Talks About Fall of Cthulhu: Nemesis!

    Exclusive Interview With Artist Todd Herman!

    In honor of Horror Month, artist Todd Herman sat down with us and talked about his upcoming trade paperback, Fall of Cthulhu: Nemesis, out October 28. Herman has been working in comics for years, popping up in high-profile horror projects like Cut, written by Dark Horse Comics’ publisher, Mike Richardson, and The Fog, with his fellow horror aficionado Scott Allie.

    While he’s been a working cartoonist for a long time–with forays into animation at Will Vinton Studios–he has really ramped up this year with several projects with Boom! Studios, including the pirate-western Galveston and the latest chapter of the popular Fall of Cthulhu series. Watch the video below to eavesdrop on our conversation about essential elements of horror and how Herman went from a comics fan to a working artist:

    Fall Of Cthulhu TPB Vol. 06 Nemesis

    Here, Todd talks about his favorite horror movies, including John Carpenter’s The Fog and Spielberg’s Poltergeist, as well as offer tips for aspiring artists:

    Cut

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