Wednesday, September 21, 2016

#DareToCompare: Smith vs. Luke Cage







     As the fourth feature from the Marvel/Netflix line up, LUKE 
CAGE may be the most HIGHLY ANTICIPATED installment, yet!  With a focus on urban, street level crime-fighting, it serves as the first Marvel franchise to highlight a non-white superhero -- superseding even Black Panther's solo adventure by more than a year.  But before Luke cracks the internet in half with his combo of super-strength and unbreakable skin, I want to introduce you to another hooded hero who's been elevating the indy comics market 2011...












...MEET SMITH...

The enigmatic protagonist, first appeared in the pages of The Samaritan -- the seven part series that outright launched Vantage:Inhouse Productions.  In The Samaritan, we follow Smith's exploits as he single-handedly fights to clean up a crime-ridden neighborhood.  White he IS the samaritan character from the title, he acts more as a supporting character -- with each issue focusing more on the people he encounters.  But throughout the run, we get a clear example of his sense of compassion and heroism.










...SMITH vs. LUKE CAGE...

I admit, despite his importance as a representative of strong, black characters, I wasn't really a fan of Luke Cage (or his superhero adventures as Power Man).  But somewhere along the creative ether, he impacted the particulars of my vision for Smith.  I contribute the concept of The Samaritan to the Patrick Swayze flick, Road House.  But where Swayze's Dalton character is HIRED to clean up rowdy dive bars, I knew that would draw too many comparisons to "Heroes for Hire" -- not to mention, it would REALLY defeat the idea that this guy was a samaritan to begin with!

In an ironic turn, perhaps The Samaritan has offered some kind of inspiration for the Luke Cage series.  For a character whose most recognizable uniform is a yellow button up and silver tiara, this new iteration is drawing from current events and social climates for it's fashionable cues.

Here are series creator, Cheo Hodari Coker's words on why Cage has put up his hood over the tiara:



The motivations are almost synonymous, in a lot of ways, with how and why our own designs for Smith came to be.  Check out this piece I wrote back in March of 2012:



While the effect the Luke Cage series could have on any media adaptations of The Samaritan is still up in the air, it is immensely cool to dabble in such a similar lane of creative thought.  Would I feel any less excited if I found out that even an inkling of Cage's design was pulled from The Samaritan?  Not in the slightest!  I WOULD however be miffed at not getting an early look or a spot at the premiere though!  Oh well...!

Be sure to grab your copies of The Samaritan, either in print or digital download!

And make sure you tune in on Sept. 30th to get the full season of Luke Cage, exclusively on Netflix!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Waste Not...Want Not.

What happens when a project goes by the wayside before the work sees publication?  It happens from time to time, in both the mainstream and indie worlds, alike.  But rather than fuss and fight over what could've been, I like to be proactive and turn even the least likely of events into a win!

Last week, I was informed that a 7pt mini-series I had written wasn't going to be completed and released.  So, I began releasing the scripts via Twitter, using the opportunity to talk about my writing process.

Check it out:
























As shared over (quite) a few tweets, I was able to showcase some of my thoughts for building this particular story and how I write scripts in general.  There are many ways to do so and I try to work with what feels right to me, but hopefully sharing it helps YOU define how you'd like to structure your scripts and stories.

Follow us @vantageinhouse on Twitter for more follow-ups!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Footage from the Only Sheep Eat Rotten Tomatoes Panel



Originally shot as a Facebook Live video during Wizard World Chicago 2016.

BEHOLD sweet children — you’re being led astray!!  Critics have roasted and lampooned the DC cinematic universe, leaving a ROTTEN taste in the mouths of fans.  But self-publishing comic writer, Victor Dandridge and his team of SUPER-FRIENDS, will reveal how Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad are the foundations of possibly the greatest franchise in cinematic history

Big thanks to Jai Nitz (creator of El Diablo) for joining me on this panel!  A brilliant man with more insight than the lot of us!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

A Sneak Peek: Origins Unknown: WHO vol. 2





It's been almost a year since we announced plans to publish Origins Unknown: WHO vol. 2 and I'm quite happy to announce that (FINALLY) production is almost COMPLETE!  I'm simultaneously finishing the lettering for both "No One Believes Me" and "I Make Her Say", with every intention of premiering the new book at Wizard World Chicago or Richmond.

Our faithful followers, got an early look at our first completed tale from this project, "Pursuit of Happiness", this past winter, through weekly updates on our webcomics site.  And not to leave new readers out, a digest-sized preview has been included with every purchase of Origins Unknown: Who v.1 for most of the year.

As we near wrapping up the rest, I thought I'd give just a bit more of a preview of what's to come! 








Layouts for "Pursuit of Happiness"

Character designs from "No One Believes Me".
Be on the lookout for this cover to the second volume!
Character designs for "I Make Her Say"



Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The BIG Reveal -- (Drumroll, please...!)

Over the last few days, I've shared some behind-the-scenes insights on how the covers for Wonder Care Presents: The Kinder Guardians were conceived and executed.  It was fun to retrace our creative steps and [possibly] reveal the hidden-in-plain-sight inspirations that fueled us.  But I have to be honest...that's NOT why I wanted to share those.

It's because of Justin...and how much I appreciate his talent AND patience.

Gearing up to release our fifth installment next month (premiering at Wizard World Chicago!!!), we started working, in earnest on the cover.  In this issue, The Kinder Guardians will meet a mirror-verse version of themselves, only in this case, these aren't evil dopplegangers...  Instead, this Kinder Guardians Too class are a gender-swapped, female strong, iteration (Justin playfully called them the "Gender Guardians", and I'm TOTALLY hoping that sticks!).  At any rate, knowing we're delving into the multiversal story waters, there were a few options of covers to riff.  Ultimately, we settled on this one:

In this truly CLASSIC Justice League issue, (Justice League of America #21; art by Mike Sekowsky and Murphy Anderson) we see the first meet up between the Justice League and their golden-age counterparts, the Justice Society of America.  As good as the other options were (JLA: Earth 2 was high on that list), I can't think of a more iconic cover to represent what we were after!













And here is Justin's first go at it:





It's gorgeous, I agree!  But there was an immediate reaction, when I saw it...a sense of dreaded familiarity.  No, not to the JLA cover...but to one of our own.  The background color, though almost pulled directly, was a little TOO close to the background of issue 3 (Beware the Kid Napper).  I know...it's silly.  I'm a total narcissist when it comes to the V:IP books, always striving for THE best presentation possible, and that includes when the books are laid out together at shows.  And lining up all the WC books together, there wasn't "enough" of a color separation from the two for my liking.  So, I asked Justin for another take...perhaps something a little more indigo this time.











BOOM!  Justin didn't miss a beat:








But there still was something not quite right.  Luckily, he had also sent me the .PDF so I could play with the colors a bit myself...and this is where Justin's patience TRULY should be commended.












After getting some feedback (from my partner in life, Adri as well as my son, and the youngest V:IP artist to date, Matt) this is the OFFICIAL cover to Wonder Care Presents: The Kinder Guardians #5 -- "The UnBEARable LIKENESS of Beings":




And Justin dug it -- like truly dug it!  IF there was any dismay at all the changes, he never said a peep and again, I can't thank him enough for it!  So there you have it folks -- the upcoming issue's cover!  The book itself WILL be available for sale at Wizard World Chicago (Aug. 18-21) and Justin will be available for signing SAT. ONLY!!!  We'll see you there!


Friday, July 22, 2016

Wonder COVERS...Homages to Some of Comics Most ICONIC Covers pt.4

Conventional wisdom says not to judge a book by its cover, but in the world of comics, covers are our first sales point to the masses!  And the construction of the Wonder Care covers has been FAR from accidental -- quite a bit of thought and consideration goes into each design and you're about to get a first look into that process.  With Wonder Care already being rooted in both childhood and comic book iconography (each of The Kinder Guardians can find its inspiration from fan-favorite characters like SupermanThe FlashBatgirlLex Luthor, and Wolverine), we thought to use that same love to mine ideas for our covers.  So, paying homage to some classics, we created these:






The New Kid: Without a shadow of a doubt, Cub was always meant to be "The Wolverine" of our team.  Coming in with a bit more of a rough and tumble attitude, he offered a bit more of an edge (as much as an all-ages title really allows) to the series and gave us a chance to inadvertently tackle the very hot-button issue of bullying.  Of course, knowing that, there were PLENTY of covers to pull inspiration from...the biggest problem was choosing the right one.  While appearing first in the Hulk, before making his big Giant-Sized X-Men debut, neither of those covers really illustrated the first appearance idea we had in mind for Cub.  So, we expanded our scope, to not only look at Wolverine, but ANY characters first appearance.  With luck, we found Fantastic Four #46 (by Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott)!  In true Marvel form, Black Bolt (who is my FAVORITE Marvel character) made his first appearance in the previous issue, but one featured his first cover spot, giving him ALL the attention, while still highlighting (through floating heads) the other characters of the book.  It was perfect!




But we couldn't miss the opportunity to throw the character inspiration in there, so we took a bead from Uncanny X-Men 207 (John Romita, Jr. and Dan Green), having Cub SLASH down the paper (if you look closely, you can see hints of the first page within the tears.)!














Check out the cover that inspired Issue #3: Beware the Kid Napper

Check out the cover that inspired Issue #1: How Far is Up?!

Wonder COVERS...Homages to Some of Comics Most ICONIC Covers pt.3

Conventional wisdom says not to judge a book by its cover, but in the world of comics, covers are our first sales point to the masses!  And the construction of the Wonder Care covers has been FAR from accidental -- quite a bit of thought and consideration goes into each design and you're about to get a first look into that process.  With Wonder Care already being rooted in both childhood and comic book iconography (each of The Kinder Guardians can find its inspiration from fan-favorite characters like SupermanThe FlashBatgirlLex Luthor, and Wolverine), we thought to use that same love to mine ideas for our covers.  So, paying homage to some classics, we created these:




Beware the Kid Napper: Having already established the idea that we were using classic covers as the inspiration for our own, I absolutely KNEW what I wanted to see with the cover for issue 3 -- Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 (by George Perez)!  To be honest though, that pose/composition is such an iconic piece that I can't guarantee that CoIE was it's first iteration, just one of its most well known.  And to prove it, Justin pulled a similar reference (and ultimately the MOST influential to ours) with Uncanny X-Men #136 (by John Byrne and Terry Austin).  Pulling not only the posed figures, but also the violet-colored scheme in the background, Justin was only getting started with his references with this cover.  Knowing The Kinder Guardians were going up against their first baddie, a sleep monster named Snewz, he went into the archives of cinema, getting more ideas from the movie poster for the 1950's flick, The Monster that Challenged the World!  Marrying elements from the two, formed an amazing piece that Justin readily claims as his favorite!





























Check out the cover that inspired Issue 2: What Can't Your Dad Do? 

Check out the cover that inspired Issue 4: The New Kid