the weirdo wor(l)ds of Eric Tolles

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It’s finally here.

Nicolas Caesar and I’s 76 page opus to one of the most loved pieces of literature ever written. We did our very best to stay as true to the source material as possible, but there might be some very slight differences between the two. Featuring cameo appearances from Bill Shafer, Big Tasty, Jimmy Lee Wirt, Britta Bordeaux, Adam Word, Amiko Lester, John Hageman, Lou Rusconi, Bree Hranek, Skid Lo, Aidan Casserly, Colonel Sanders, Gina T. Rabbit, Frank Ready III, Carrie South, Ted Danson, Kit Cameo, David Hasselhoff, Jeremy Cross, Ryan Bray, Dame Darcy, John Lithgow, Rocky Dennis, Cher, Tsim Fuckis, Santa Claus and the creators themselves!

(click the picture to purchase your copy)

Also available from Scary Art Comics are Filthy Cake and The Pit And The Compendium Volumes 1: horror comic anthologies in the vein of old school horror-zines featuring a slew of talented artists and writers including myself.

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Behold, Filthy Cake and The Pit And The Compendium, volume 1.

2 illustrated tomes constructed as macabre love letters to the classic E.C. horror comics of yesterday. APE is this weekend and they will be making their premiere at the Scary Art Comics booth. Due to some scheduling constraints I will not be there-yeah, I’m bummed-but the maestro Nicolas Caesar will be there along with Social Vermyn’s John Hageman hustling all manner of art along with those anthologies. They will also be available to purchase online once APE has wrapped up and Nik gets back from San Francisco. Due to a layout mishap our Mosquito and Spider Christmas Carol will not be available until November, so I’ll keep you interested parties apprised of the release date.

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Almost ready.

Nik parodied Picasso’s Don Quixote illustration for the cover of our first comic book. John Hageman did the coloring and mock leather. It is going to be at APE, premiering alongside the two horror comic anthologies that I’m in-Filthy Cake and The Pit And The Compendium.

October is going to be huge.
It contains 2 of my favorite holy days ever, so why shouldn’t it be?

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Catching up.

I spent yesterday working on Nik and I’s 2nd comic book, Lost on Mosquito and Spider Island. I wrote 3 and a half chapters which leaves about a chapter and a half to go. A 5 chapter format seems to work well for me for these comics. I used 5 chapters in the Mosquito and Spider Christmas Carol because that was the amount of chapters Dickens used in the original. The first chapter which establishes the characters and establishes plot, the 3 chapters which deal which each of the spirits, and the final chapter which resolves the plot. Really, it’s just the sprawl of 3 chapters that I like, plenty of space to fill with different characters and scenes to drive the story instead of just a single chapter (3 total), which was the original idea I was presented with. Originally Nik wanted a 12-20 page comic—it ended up being 70+. Oops. The 3 center chapters in this one will deal with 3 distinct areas of the island that twist the central theme in ludicrous ways but direct the story to its inevitable end…Patrick Swayze was just supposed to be a minor character, but he has kind of taken over. He said something early on in chapter 1 that affected the plot and infected the entirety of the comic. And tiki gods and secret basements and random polar bear attacks and a singing Parker Posey hydra. And we get to find out where Spider comes from. The Christmas Carol comic gave us Mosquito’s back story, so I thought Spider’s history should be explored in this comic.

Last night I took a break from the above and wrote up some synopses for 4 new stories to be included in the second volumes of Filthy Cake and The Pit and the Compendium. Two of the stories inspired by the loss of my pinky. One story will be about a zombie finger terrorizing a hospital’s staff break room. The other will be about a possessed dryer that contains the recycled metal of Guseva’s dagger. The other two stories are about (1) Richard Chase and (2) the great pumpkin.

Rabbit Holes of Horror is a go. We made an announcement yesterday in the Horror Anthology group and we already have 7 artists wanting in, so it’s really just a matter of figuring out who is going to illustrate which story.  And I have to write them, of course. There are a few of these artists—and I don’t want to drop any names—whose work definitely makes me want to write with their style in mind. But I am getting way ahead of schedule. I believe we are shooting for next April for the first issue, which I believe is going to just be one story. Kind of an introductory-type deal. There is no way I will be able to cut Alice down to 12-24 pages. Not without compromising huge pieces of that story, which I am completely unwilling to do. But I do need to figure out a wrap-around story to weave between the beginning, chapter breaks and ending. I thought about using the cat that causes the accident, and that might work. I could even use her for the following issues, but I’m not sure. I would kind of like them to all be different. We’ll see. But Scully definitely needs to be in the first one.

And I just remembered this week’s Danson With Wolves…

Shit.

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Done.

I have never been more nervous. It’s happening. It is being published. I have never written a comic book. I really had no idea what I was the hell I was doing. And I am just barely smart enough to know I still really don’t know what the hell I am doing. And Nik is a madman. I kept trying to keep the reins on structure and coherency lest I lose the tenuous grip I had and Nik kept goading me into letting the fucker loose.

There is some kind of happy medium half lunatic fringe between the pages.

I’ll let you kids know the exact date it will be available, but it is looking like mid to late September.

P.S.
Thanks to a page limit per story in the next horror anthology I am involved in, inspiration struck and Nik and I will be announcing a new project soon…a certain zombie character I dreamed of last year will see the light of day.

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In the home stretch. Writing/editing all day to finish the last 13 pages of the 77 pages of utter lunacy that is the comic Nik and I started working on together a few months ago in June. The publisher is shooting for a mid-September release. We should know in a week or so the exact street date.

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This week isn’t going to leave much space for daydreams, nor those that come at night…though I will find time for them at some point as certain distractions won’t loose their grip even if I wanted them to. Sleep will have to be snatched in increments, though lately I have been taking 2-3 3-4 hour naps, and I feel fine.

I have 3 deadlines to meet.

The edits for A Mosquito and Spider Christmas Carol are due Wednesday. I have a bit of dialogue to polish and to have Nik recaption.

The outline for A Rocky Road needs to be finished by Friday. I am approaching this comic as a serial, as opposed to Danson With Wolves’ self contained weekly format. Ted is rather easy as I tend to just improvise the absurdity on the spot every Sunday night with no real forethought. Rocky is going to span a year as well, but with a very specific direction that definitely needs a map. Nik and I are both quite fond of the mystery of carnival/circus culture and I want to explore various archetypes of that era to drive the story as Rocky experiences new adventures on the road and slowly discovers who he is. Along with a healthy dose of ludicrous, of course. Siamese twins, strongmen, snake charmers, fortune tellers, bearded ladies, etc.

Working on a comic book for Diamond Comics and I want to polish the Dana Plato possessed demon van story I wrote a few months back. I want to have it done by Sunday night. It’ll be another horror anthology that’ll expose me to even more artists. I have a few more ideas for stories cooking as per requests by other artists interested in collaborating.

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Editing, editing, editing.

I am sitting here with 74 pages of absurdity, polishing dialog for Nicolas Caesar and I’s “A Mosquito And Spider Christmas Carol.” I am about halfway through, I should think another week or so and I will be done, then it is off to the publisher. We are shooting for mid-September. It is extremely heavy with Hyaena Gallery/Wordplay Thursday cameos, to the point that at times I felt like the characters were driving the story instead of the other way around. But I think I found the right balance. I think. What do I know about writing a comic book? Not much, but I’m learning.  It is looking like roughly 3-4 months per comic, so I’d hazard a guess of 3-4 Mosquito and Spider comic books a year. The next comic:

A love letter to uncharted regions, unmapped islands, shipwreck and plane crash castaway stories. Tiki gods. And Patrick Swayze. Outline is essentially done, but only 3 things at a time, yeah? The 2 horror comic anthologies are done and are getting laid out by John Hageman, then on to the publisher. They will be released in October at the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco. I’ll be in the LA area as well as Fremont in October, working on other projects with Nik as well as checking out prospective digs.

While doing some research for our 2nd comic book, I discovered that there is a burial ground in Alamogordo, New Mexico, that is home to hundreds of thousands of Atari cartridges. Most notably, the colossal failure that was the E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial  tie-in video game. They actually delivered them by the truckload and then sealed them beneath the earth in concrete tombs! Not only do I find that hilarious, I found it to be fantastic fodder for our 3rd Mosquito and Spider comic. I really love the Poltergeist film aspects of it…but it will have to sit on the back burner until next spring.

The Bubba the Bulldog story that Bree wrote and had me rewrite for her (I wrote it with a rhyming structure), is at a publisher as I type this. I think she sent it to me back in 2010, so it has been a long road. The artwork by Bree and Big Tasty is fantastic and I can’t imagine why it would be appealing to any children’s publisher.

I’ll update as soon as we hear back form the publisher.

It’s been almost a year since Nik and I started our weekly comic, “Danson With Wolves.” My original idea was just a ridiculous version of a nature show, because I have seen what goes on behind the scenes and just how staged they are…and because I had nothing but contempt for Steve Irwin. I think that stingray gave him a dose of his own medicine. Bravo stingray! Anyway, I thought it would be amusing to have a celebrity with no wildlife experience in their resume getting tossed into absurd situations with no apparent sense of self preservation, dying in a gory but hysterical manner week after week, but still imparting some factual information about whatever creature they are encountering. And Ted Danson had the right last name. Sure, he has been on Mars, transformed into an ant, molested by a 7 foot praying mantis and tried to make a zenomorph a pet, but for the most part I think I haven’t strayed too far off the path I set out on….I never claimed I wasn’t inclined to handing the reins over to the unicorn. Hey, I let him live through the entire strip once. It was against a stingray, but I digress.

I have decided to let Ted fend for himself when his year is up, I think 52 weeks is long enough a sentence within the confines of my brain. And I have other ideas I am itching to explore. Nik and I will be starting a new comic on October 9th, chronicling the adventures of Rocky Dennis. After he “died.” If you will recall the end of Mask finds Rusty, Gar and Dozer at Rocky’s grave. Rusty and Gar walk away and Dozer remains at the grave as the camera pulls away. And that is where we will be cutting in to tell you the tale of what happened next. The tale they did not want to tell! This comic will also span a year, but will be presented in serial format, with each week picking up where the preceding week left off.

A teaser:

Till next time…

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Working on new comic shorts for the upcoming Filthy Cake 2 and The Pit And The Compendium 2. The format is going to be the same as the 1st volume: 4 page horror shorts. And therein lays the problem. Some stories I have demanding to be told need far more than 4 pages in order to do so. I can write short stories, but with the weekly comic and the alliterations and the short stories I wrote for FC1 and TPATC1 I am hungry for something substantial to sink my teeth into.

A feast.

I was discussing this with Nik the other night, that the stories I have in mind need to be a least 12 pages to be told without sacrificing content. Unfortunately this won’t work with the format of the anthologies, as they contain 10-12 4 page stories written by and illustrated by a number of writers and artists. If I turned in 2 12 page (at least) scripts it would eat up a ¼ of each book. However, Nik got excited and proposed a series of comics written by me. And yeah, we are going to do it. With his connections and 3 artists already expressing interest, it’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of when. We are going to call it “Rabbit Holes of Horror,” and do 1 to 3 stories per. I haven’t decided yet on how many pages I need, considering I’ve just been given free reign as far a length goes, but we want to keep it around 40 pages per comic.
And “Alice Through The Windshield Glass” is going to be part of the first one, if not the entire first one.
I never would have guessed 3 years ago that I would be writing comics, but here I am. And I’m laughing, because I still have no real sense of storyboarding. I’ve been reading a few books on it, but in my head I always just think about movies. As if I was directing a movie and what angles I would want to see…but that comes after. I am probably doing it the hard way, but I write the entire story out in, well, story format first. Then I pick and pull it apart into scenes, and then add, subtract or edit dialog according to how I see it happening in my head. It’s time consuming, but I think I would miss something if I tried to just write it in script format first.

Anyway.

A sneak peek at the beginning of Alice Through The Windshield Glass:

She had seen the beginning, the black cat that now made her way through the trees. Slinking through the twist of roots like a labyrinth, she solves every one as the giants above her head refuse to acknowledge the ill winds that now blew through their leaves. A bitter sweet melody played with creaking limbs that fell on knowing ears as she slipped to the edge of the forest that lined the interstate.

And the ending, she had seen that too.

She turns her head away from the blur of metal that was in a rush to nowhere. She turns her ears from the swish of rubber against the road and the occasional murmur of laughter or cacophony of music that rose above it. She twists her head back in the direction of the woods she had emerged from, wistful, as if looking back through time; and she was.

She remembers that first scratch. His face leaning down into hers as he was talking to her on the day that they had first met. The pink welts that were raised around the edges of those cuts. The clarity of the blood as it welled up on his cheek. The sound of his laughter as she licked his blood off of her claws and the spell was cast. Destinies defined and fates sealed.

“Yeah,” he said, “this cat is perfect.”

She remembers the other, the woman hair that matched her own fur. Watching the two of them, cloaking themselves in shadow but unhidden to her eyes. The flames, the sweat, the whispers that swept into her ears like divinations shouted in a Pentecostal fervor. Their glossolalia echoing between four walls and swirling around her head. She kept track of teeth offered like claws, and the threat that was carried out as the raven-haired woman bit his mouth without apology. She split his lip and licked his blood off her own. She went back for more and was not met with resistance, but more threats spoken with skin. The cat turned her attention away from the shapes and gave it to the shadows playing across the wall behind them, the candlelight unconcerned with the past, nor the present, as it acted out the future in sweeping waves of black and white.

It told of what was to be, and the cat listened.

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What I wouldn’t do for a pan of lasagna right now.

I suppose I could cook some, that would be the obvious solution. Last time I did that I made 3 pans and I think they went even faster than when I made 2. I realize that I am running the risk of ruining my favorite dish, but it hasn’t happened yet, and I’ve been loving the pasta ricotta meat cake since I was 4. I think I just need to make 4 pans to test that theory. I’m just being scientific about it, of course. Then 5 pans. 6, 7, 8, 11.

I’m going to need a bigger oven.

The Mosquito and Spider Christmas Carol is being printed as I type this. I finished the outline for Lost on Mosquito and Spider Island this past weekend, as well as A Rocky Road, Nicolas Caesar and I’s upcoming new web comic. I am rewriting the opening scene to Death Van: The Ballad of Dana Plato as the producers of Filthy Cake found it to be too graphic. Ha. I guess I took the term “filthy” too literally. Apparently a satanic porno shoot in the back of a speeding van that ends in a fiery crash due to a miss-aimed money shot was too much.

It’s an easy fix.

This go around they are letting us choose what artists we work with, so I am going to try and get Lou Rusconi as his one-man black comedian retrospective exhibit at Hyaena has wrapped up, and the fact that I wrote it with him in mind for illustrating. Though I think that I may just expand that story for inclusion into Rabbit Holes of Horror, as 4 pages is going to cut it short, I think. It really depends on how much time Lou has, and whether or not I want to sacrifice content for a preferred artist. I don’t know. I still need to come up with 3 more stories for those two anthologies anyway…

A few months back I was asked to write a story for Steam Punk Originals, a steam punk anthology comic being put out by Arcana, and at the time I had to decline because of other commitments, but Mike contacted me this past weekend that they are going to be doing another one, and I accepted the invitation. I am going to be writing a 12-page story about rabbits evolving deep underground and staging a rebellion against humanity. They have evolved much as humans did from apes. They are bipedal, intelligent, speaking creatures with their own language. I finished the outline this morning and have been writing all day…but I have to put it aside for now until I finish Nik and I’s next comic book. I just wanted to get as much of the idea down on paper while it was still fresh. I think I could write an entire series out of this story.

Never enough time.

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