AEGISTEEL is the first wholly original property published by Outland Entertainment, written by Mat Nastos, illustrated by Alan Gallo and myself (Jeremy Mohler), and lettered by Ed Dukeshire.
I can’t begin to express how excited I am to have Outland publishing this beast and to have helped design and bring Mat’s world to life. It’s been a lot of fun having the chance to play in this world and I’m looking forward to sitting down and digging into the actual main series. I’m just now getting started on layouts for the first issue and man, it’s going to be fun!
AEGISTEEL has had something of an interesting course to life. I talk a lot about it over here, actually. I also share a lot of the character designs and concepts that I worked on with the writer, Mat Nastos, so be sure to check out that blog post.
A little bit about the world –
AEGISTEEL is a spellpunk adventure set in the world of the Aegisteel Empire, a society of steel and magic built on the backs of its soldiers and terrible war machines. Think of it as DIRTY DOZEN meets SMOKING ACES set in a war-torn SPELLPUNK world.
When the Theln Empire captures the ancient Aegisteel forges at Nelvynnal, veteran marksman Broderick Longbarrel is released from Blackgate Prison and given one last chance for redemption. Tasked with infiltrating the ancient and impenetrable fortress, Longbarrel ans five former death row inmates must succeed before the Theln can begin production of the giant war-golems that could shift the balance of the war.
Below are the layouts and some additional designs I did for the project –
And below are the first eleven pages, fully colored and lettered!
The book is also now available digitally over here!
You can also purchase the limited edition Amazing Las Vegas Convention cover in print here!
And you can also get a 14″x20″ poster over here!
Hope you like it!
This year, the London Book Fair celebrated Graphic Novels and as such I was gladly presented with a huge array of seminars on the topic.
[Of course, I blistered my feet running through Olympia to get from talk to talk. From Mexican culture, to the progress of VR, AR and digital publishing, passing through matters such as “Publishing for Boys & Men”, the fair managed to cover an range of subjects sure to pick anyone’s interest.]
The speakers were passionate about the discussions, laying bare preconceptions and stereotypes. From the need to establish graphic novels as an artistic medium to the more farfetched possibilities the digital format allows, all of it was thrown towards the audience in an urgent need to stir further debate.
Everyone defended this world and some have as their life goal to make Graphic Novels not frowned upon, like Neil Gibson, founder of T Pub. He currently acts as a sort of ambassador for the medium, stating it is one of the most efficient ways to communicate stories. His mission to get more people reading comics involves advocating how to use them in work and study environments.
Neil Gibson talking about the pacing of Comic books.
With Paul Gravett – renown British comic book critic – we reflected on “What can comics do that other forms can’t”. A lively overview of several international projects: “Pablo” by Julie Birmant & Clément Oubrerie, “Death of the Artist” by Karrie Fransman and “There’s No Time Like the Present” by Paul Rainey. It’s interesting to see extremely different approaches of the medium on a conceptual and visual way. From freely drawn black & white cartoons to photography and full pages reinterpretations of famous works of art, you get but a tiny scope of what the Graphic Novel really allows you to explore.
“What can comics do that other forms can’t” panel.
A final but quite controversial discussion about the digitalization of comic books left everyone still in doubt of what the future holds. Bringing together Sam Arthur from Nobrow, Sam Humphrey from SelfMadeHero, Leah Moore from Eletricomics and Russell Willis from Sequential, moderated by South London Hardcore Podcast’s Steve Walsh.
Does the reader want extra content: interviews, audio commentaries? After the early flop of motion comics it is safe to say everyone is thinking (or at least trying to) go for subtlety instead of bells and whistles.
Everybody agreed that we don’t want to disturb the readers experience. The aim is to create a new way, nearly a new medium which has graphic novels at its very core. A more immersive – but not invasive! – medium to experience stories.
“Graphic Novels go Digital” panel.
Outland Entertainment was part of the innovative addition of the Sequential app at the LBF15. The upcoming graphic novel N0.1R [created by Nicolas Giacondino and Scott Colby. writen by Colby & illustrated by Giacondino]” is an old school whodunnit starring a cast of really cool robots. Artist Nic Giacondino does an amazing job bringing both the characters and the setting to life.” Scott Colby states.
You can get N0.1R‘s preview as well as the whole catalog from #LBF15 exhibit at the Sequential app using the code LBF15 – LBF15 – LBF15.
Attendees browsing N0.1R at the Sequential app corner.
The games panels were also incredible insightful with a special shout-out to the funny and incisive Jo Twist [@doctoe] UKIE CEO and to the creative Rob Morgan [@AboutThisLater], freelance game writer and narrative designer.
Bottom line: the LBF offered insightful seminars on a varied assortment of topics. Three intense days that allow you to get an overview not only of the publishing industry but of what is being done in the whole entertainment sector.
And one cannot forget that it was the 1st London Book & Screen Week! An event that complemented the whole experience by consolidating the idea of this increasingly cross media world.
Mat Nastos is a versatile artist who always manages to infuse his unique sense of humor into the countless projects he is involved with. He is known by his work as an artist in the cult-classic independent comic book, “ElfQuest”, and as a writer for film & TV as well as for his own novels. Fan of action packed stories with a sci-fi or steampunk twist, you won’t be surprised that from all the children shows out there, he worked for Disney Channel‘s “Phineas & Ferb”.
Mat, the big question: what did you want to be when you grow up?
My goal in life, from as early as I can remember, was to be a comic book artist when I grew up. Comics in general were my life: I read them, collected (read: horded) them, drew them…I started and ran the first comic book conventions in Hawaii in the 80s back when I was 11. Comics were my life and my driving goal had been to draw them. That spurred me to go to comic book school out in the middle of New Jersey when I graduated from High School.
I drew comics for a lot of years before transitioning over to film/TV and, eventually, to writing.
What was the first book you ever read (or was read to you)?
I remember my mom reading a lot of Dr. Seuss to me as a child, but nothing specific. I still have the very first comic I was given – “The Power of Warlock” #14. The first real book I remember reading was “The Hobbit” when I was about 6 or 7. That really stuck with me and opened the door to fantasy/sci-fi fiction for me. After I read that any the “Lord of the Rings” series, I went nuts and started reading everything I could get my hands on. Luckily, I had an older brother and mom who were also into that material and I’d read a lot of things they were.
Right around the same time, my family discovered the early Dungeons & Dragons game (late 70s) and I’ve been playing ever since.
And comics: which were your favorite ones?
I read EVERYTHING as a kid. Pretty quickly my collection of comics bloomed up into the thousands and then tens of thousands (now it rests at somewhere around 150,000 comics). When I was younger, my favorites were Elfquest, X-men, 2000AD, and Legion of Super-Heroes, but I wasn’t picky beyond that.
Nowadays, what can we find you reading?
I don’t read much in comics these days, and when I do they are generally trade paperbacks versus singles. The art of writing comics to actually be read as singles has become a bit of a lost art over the past 20 years or so and I find it a waste to attempt to follow series in that format. I pick up a lot of omnibus collections of material I was a fan of as a kid.
Outside of comics, I read an insane amount of things – tons of non-fiction, and at least 3-4 novels a week. Still a lot of sci-fi/fantasy more than anything else, although thrillers and any sort of action stories are finding their way onto my reading list as I begin to write more and more in those genres.
Who were your childhood heroes?
Most of my heroes were the men (and women) creating the material I was a fan of: George Lucas, Wendy Pini, John Byrne, George Perez, Stan Lee, Piers Anthony, Jim Kelly, Gary Gygax, Ed Greenwood, Chris Claremont…my dad.
And today? Who do you look up to?
I’ve been lucky enough that I still have a lot of the same heroes I did as a kid. I still have most of that sense of wonder and love I had as a kid.
Your first published work was in “The Big Book of Urban Legends” from Paradox Press in 1993. But what was the first thing you ever wrote?
My first published writing was a short fantasy story I wrote back in high school. I had an English teacher who was truly a terrible human being who went out of her way to put me down. Her abuse turned out to be a driving factor for me and I submitted a story I’d written in her class (and been given a “C” on!) to Fantasy Digest Magazine. They bought it and I was on my way!
After that, my writing was for my own comics – things like the Cadre, Elfsong, and Fionn.
My first “real” gig as a writer was the screenplay for the low-budget horror flick, “Stinger,” in 2002. Since then I’ve had 8 films produced.
Your writing spans from comic books to novels, video games to film and TV. Do you have a favorite?
Writing, in general, for me is a lot of fun. The most satisfying for me as a creator is probably novels because I have complete control over there. Good or bad, with a novel every aspect of it falls onto my shoulders. If it succeeds or fails, things are all on me.
The rest of the mediums all have their own positives, though, and comics will always be my first love. Working with a fantastic art as a collaborator is an incredibly fulfilling experience.
You have done the artwork, including the cover art for all your own books. Why?
I think it all goes back to control. So far, I’ve had very specific ideas of what I wanted on the novel covers and the easiest way to get those ideas out was to do them myself.
Does it ever backfire?
Not yet, knock on wood!
Your work in the comic world started with “Elfquest” comics for Warp Graphics, right? What made you enter this new universe of storytelling?
Well, my first comic work was on “The Big Book of Urban Legends,” and I had done quite a bit of indy comic work before Elfquest, including working as an assistant to Joe Orlando at the DC Offices while I was in art school.
Comics were my life-long love. Elfquest specifically was my favorite comics. Funnily enough, my biggest goal in going to art school was to draw Elfquest. I had always figured it would take me years (5, 10, or more!) to get a chance to work with the Pinis on Elfquest – they had never let anyone else draw the comic back when I was reading it, so my goal was a crazy fantasy at the time. It was mind-blowing to get a call from Barry Blair asking me if I wanted to work on Elfquest. I was still at the School of Visual Arts when he contacted me and it was easily one of the best days of my life.
There was never a doubt in my mind that I wasn’t going to work in comics.
“The Cestus Concern”, your first novel, was the #1 best selling Cyberpunk & Sci-Fi Adventure novel on Amazon for 7 consecutive months in 2013. How does it feel to have your work on the spotlight?
It was pretty crazy. Novel writing wasn’t something I had ever set out to do…in fact, when I started writing “The Cestus Concern” I’d never written more than a couple of short prose stories. Sure, I had written a bunch of material for TV/film and comics, but prose was so alien to me I wasn’t convinced I could even do it.
My whole goal with the book (and each once that’s followed) was to write something that I wanted to read. To write something fast, fun, and crazy. It’s been a great to see that so many other people have enjoyed the work as much as they have. As a storyteller, nothing is better than connecting with fans the way the Cestus books have.
Of all the projects you’ve worked on, is there one that stands out from rest? Why?
I’ve been lucky to work on a huge number of fun projects, so it’s hard to pick. Right now, the thing I’m the most in love with my Donner Grimm books. The first, “Man With The Iron Heart,” came out at the end of 2014 and I am finishing up the sequel, “The Unweaving,” right now. I love the action-adventure/pulp/weird war universe I’ve created for it and the characters are a lot of fun.
In comics, it’s the new Elflord series I’m working on. The artist, Tony Vassallo, is insanely good and the material we’re putting together isn’t like anything else being done in fantasy comics right now. The series is crazy good.
You own the license from Barry Blair’s projects. What made you take that leap?
Barry himself was the reason behind me picking up the rights to all of the material. We had been friends since the early 90s when he hired me to work for Warp Graphics on the Elfquest material, and we had very similar sensibilities . We started talking in 2007 about working together again and one of the things that came up was my love for so many of the characters he’d created, especially things like Elflord, Dragonforce, and Samurai. He said he was done telling those stories, but asked if I wanted to carrying on with their tales on my own. He turned over the rights to all the material to me in exchange for my promise to treat them like my own children.
We had been well on our way to doing a ton of new material together when he passed in early 2010. It was a crushing blow for me and it took almost 5 years for me to get back to the point where I felt like I was ready to start again. To be able to put the work out FOR Barry since I couldn’t do it WITH him.
Outland Entertainment is working closely with you not only to bring several of Barry Blair’s titles into digital format but to actually reboot some of them.
What are you most excited about this endeavor?
The most exciting part of working with Outland is having the chance to bring Barry’s work back out into the public eye. Barry was a creative dynamo who generated a ton of fun material in a dizzying array of genres. He worked in every possible genre you can image: sci-fi, fantasy, comedy, horror, satire, action/adventure, erotica…you name it and he produced work in it.
It’s been a shame that his work has disappeared from the comic industry, especially since his work and company (AIRCEL) was such a huge force in the 80s and early 90s.
Having the opportunity to make that work available once more is a thrill and an honor for me because I was a huge fan of Barry’s work, as well as having been his friend for more than two decades.
And now a peek into the Future. Can you tell us what project(s) are you most looking forward to?
I’ve got a lot of work coming out this year. Right now I’m finishing off sequels to both my prose series with “The Cestus Corruption” and “The Unweaving.”
In comics, I’m writing Rob Liefeld’s new “Brigade” series for Image and “Blindside” for Marat Mychaels. For Outland, I’m writing a series based on my Aegisteel fantasy stories with Alan Gallo as the artist; Elflord with Tony Vassallo, and a brand new Dragonforce series that will be drawn by Richard Pace (you heard it here first!).
It’s going to be a fantastic year!
It sure looks like it! Thanks Mat for taking time to let us get a glimpse of your vast creative work!
So last October, I came across an ad looking for an art team for a new comic project called Dark & Day: Soldiers & Knights. Little did I know when I reached out just what a really cool project this was.
Here’s the basic premise –
A distant future Earth is now split into permanent Ends of night and day. The night/Dark is a culture of machines, technology, soldiers and logical science (science fiction style). The Day is a culture of magic, mythical creatures, knights and belief in wonder (fantasy style). Both sides fear the other and want to protect their people and their way of life.
Jake Grey, the creator, and I started talking and he began to share some of the concept art for the project he’d already developed and scope of the world started to come into focus. I was really floored. If I hadn’t been sold on the premise alone, seeing it brought to life and getting a sense of where Jake wanted to take the project really brought it all home. I knew that this had to be an Outland project.
You can read more about the project and see more art samples over on the project page.
Jake is also currently running a Kickstarter to help fund the next book of the project. You should go over and check it out and help fund the project!
Check out the project and help fund it!
It’s been a year or two ago at this point, and I don’t recall exactly how we connected. Whether it was through an ad I answered online or if he found us, we’ve now worked on several projects with Martin Smith of Attackosaur Comics.
Martin has not only been a pleasure to work with in both instances, he’s also an extremely talented writer and designer. His stories are pretty fun and tend to be short, self-contained books, which I think is great. He’s not weighed down with trying to stretch a story out over a long period of time and he can release each book all at once. I think that’s a great way to self-publish comics and I love the fact that you can pick up the book and get a full story.
If you would like to read more about the project and see more samples of the artwork we completed, please head over here or check it out on our portfolio page!
I believe it’s been nearly two years now, but I had the good fortune of meeting Bo Hampton down at Wizard World Austin in 2012.
I remember growing up and looking at comics Bo and his brother Scott created (specifically Viking Glory), so it was a real pleasure to meet Bo. I recall that Bo was sitting and drawing by himself, so I immediately ran over and grabbed my portfolio to get a critique! Bo was very gracious – he made some great observations which I’ve tried hard to incorporate them into my work since then. During the critique we got to talking and Bo had some questions for me regarding digital colors, which I admit was a bit of a thrill to be able to talk about the craft and help Bo as well.
Here are a couple promo pieces we worked on together as well as the cover to issue one.
When I got back home from Texas, I had an email in my inbox from Bo and we bounced a couple emails back and forth regarding digital color.
Fast forward a bit and Bo started posting some images for a new project he’d been working on, a supernatural western called 3 Devils. I love westerns, especially when there is a twist like supernatural elements. I immediately reached out to him and asked if he might need a colorist? Initially he declined, but changed his mind later and asked if I was available for some color work? Immediately I said yes.
Below are six pages from the first issue.
We’ve been working together pretty closely on this and Bo has had a lot of really great input in regard to the color. And it’s been a great deal of fun working with him and over his lines – his ability to spot blacks and tell a story visually is just amazing. It’s been a real pleasure to work on this project!
Additionally, the series has been picked up by IDW, the first issue of nine will premiere April of 2015. I can’t wait!
Bleedback is an ambitious comic project that we are working on in conjunction with Scott Nihill and his company Embreate.
Scott was writing an epic sci-fi story and looking for help converting it into a 5-issue comic series. Outland came on in 2012 to manage the project. We handled all of the art including pencils, inks, colors, letters, and design. We’ve since partnered on the project and it’s become a joint venture. In 2013, we successfully funded our Kickstarter to print the first issue. As of July 2014, we are hard at work on issue 2.
So, a little about the project itself:
It’s New York, 2065. Both our dependence on and fear of technology has reached a critical moment. People are playing, fighting, shagging in virtual worlds, robots have become so advanced they might eliminate us. And then comes Bleedback … when activity in the virtual world seeps into the real world with sometimes terrifying consequences. Our central character Andrei, suffers the power of Bleedback firsthand.
The story follows Andrei, brilliant enough to captain any robotics lab but whose criminal record has barred him — on pain of serious prison time — from ever again wielding his gift. So he’s forced to work underground as a Breaker, a specialized hacker able to crack the most sophisticated government mandated robot restraints.
A bike mechanic by day, Andrei moonlights at The Beast, New York’s hottest nightclub, where every desire can be fulfilled … for a price. What free time Andrei has is spent keeping his daughter Angela out of the Global Revolutionary Movement (GRM) and on the right Life Path. Andrei’s comfortable life is turned upside down when a love bot he cracks goes haywire at The Beast. A shadowy military group snatches his daughter and he is hurled into the dark recesses of the global Robo slave trade.
Read more about it and see some of the finished artwork over here! Or read more about our other projects over here!