All posts by Greg

2021.07.21 – DARTH VADER #14 in stores today!

Darth Vader #14 cover by Aaron Kuder and Richard Isanov

DARTH VADER #14 hits stores today! Ask your local shop to hold a copy for you or buy it digitally at Comixology!

The book was written by Greg Pak with line art by Raffaele Ienco, colors by Jason Keith, letters by Joe Caramagna, cover by Aaron Kuder and Richard Isanov, and editing by Mark Paniccia and Tom Groneman.

The book plunges into the WAR OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS storyline with a deep dive into the mind and machinations of Sly Moore, the mysterious Umbaran in the Emperor’s inner court. Here’s the official solicit:

“THE BLADE BEHIND THE CURTAIN”
• For decades, no figure has stood as close to the EMPEROR with so much mystery surrounding her.
• Who is the UMBARAN? What is her role within the EMPIRE and in the WAR OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS? And what happens when she emerges from the darkness to challenge Darth Vader himself?
• Featuring an unprecedented look at the inner workings of the Emperor’s inner circle – and the return of IG-88!

STRANGER THINGS: TOMB OF YBWEN coming from Pak, Galindo & company in September!

Kyle Lambert's variant cover for STRANGER THINGS: TOMB OF YBWEN #1
Kyle Lambert’s variant cover for STRANGER THINGS: TOMB OF YBWEN #1

Excited to report that starting this September, Dark Horse is publishing a four issue comic book miniseries called STRANGER THINGS: TOMB OF YBWEN, written by yours truly with line art by Diego Galindo, colors by Franceso Segala, letters by Nate Piekos, and covers by Galindo, Marc Aspinall, Kyle Lambert, and Irvin Rodriguez!

Here’s the official blurb:

It’s January 1985. The Hawkins crew survived their battle with the terrible Mind Flayer, but Will is still reeling from the recent death of Bob Newby. Will’s friends have been too busy with their girlfriends to notice how much he is struggling. However, Will finds a way to bring the team back together again when he and Mr. Clarke discover a mysterious map Bob left in a box of old nerdy memorabilia. Will rallies the crew to investigate and they find more than they could have imagined. Stranger Things: Tomb of Ybwen explores grief and friendship all while capturing the Stranger Things’ sense of adventure.

And here’s my quote from the io9 announcement:

“I’m so thrilled to be working with such an amazing team on a story that combines classic ‘80s treasure hunt hijinks with impending natural disaster and a high-stakes emotional story as Will grapples with the aftermath of the death of Bob Newby,” Pak said in a press release. “Diego, Francesco, and Nate are capturing the wonder, danger, and emotion in every page and every panel. And as always, it’s a thrill to be working on a story that fills in key emotional context for our heroes while giving unexpected characters a chance to really shine. I’ll just say if you like Mr. Clarke, you’re gonna LOVE this book!”

Huge high five as always to our Dark Horse editors Spencer Cushing and Konner Knudsen.

Marc Aspinall's cover for STRANGER THINGS: TOMB OF YBWEN.
Marc Aspinall’s cover for STRANGER THINGS: TOMB OF YBWEN.

Please donate to comics artist Jeffrey Veregge’s GoFundMe

Comics artist Jeffrey Veregge has suffered acute renal and respiratory failure. His family has launched a GoFundMe to help with travel to the hospital and living expenses — Jeffrey is the family’s sole provider. Please do consider donating if you have the means.

Jeffrey and I collaborated a few years ago on a short story about the Poston incarceration camp for the New Frontiers: The Man Worlds of George Takei comics anthology book. He’s a tremendous, singular talent and a warm and wonderful person. If you pray, please pray for him and his family.

Donate to the GoFundMe here.

Get a VACCINATED! T-shirt at Threadless – half of profits go to MedShare!

Please go buy yourself cool VACCINATED! T-shirts! Half the proceeds go to MedShare, an organization delivering medical supplies and equipment to communities in need.

A while back I designed a blue heart “Vaccinated!” symbol and made pins to raise money for mutual aid groups. Well, I fancied it up and put it on T-shirts at a merch website called Threadless! There are two designs – a fancier “electric” version that looks best on darker T-shirts and a regular version that’s fine on all colors. Threadless has a great “Causes” function that lets creators dedicate a portion of profits to a charitable organization, so I’m sharing half of the profits with MedShare.

Please do check out the Greg Pak Threadless store and grab your shirts today!

Drawing sheepshead minnows and what that has to do with writing

Sheepshead minnow, drawn by Greg Pak

Originally posted in Greg Pak’s Writing about Writing Comics Patreon.

I’ve been wallowing in nostalgia during the pandemic, which has manifested itself in trying to reproduce the kinds of aquariums I kept as a kid in Dallas. So here I am in New York City at the age of 52 with a tank of sheepshead minnows like the ones I used to catch on family road trips to the salt marshes of South Texas.

I love these little fish. They’re uncommon in the aquarium trade, but very common among scientists (they’re used in water quality/toxicity experiments) and incredibly common in the wild all up and down the East Coast and along the Gulf Coast. They’re called minnows, but they’re technically killifish in the pupfish family (Cyprinodontidae), closely related to the famous, endangered Devils Hole pupfish. They’ve got stocky, sturdy little bodies and they’re little scrappers with tons of personality. They like to chase each other — males in particular get territorial when breeding. But they seldom do any real damage to each other and they’re just fun to watch as they kind of helicopter/hover around, eyeballing me and each other in between bouts of sparring and feeding.

So why am I going on about them on this comics writing Patreon? Because last night I wound down by drawing some sheepshead minnows, and I realized that the act of drawing made me notice things I hadn’t fully figured out before.

Specifically, when it came time to draw the fins, I realized the sheepshead minnow’s pectoral fins (the main fins along the sides of the fish) are much lower on their bodies than those of a molly, for example. And I realized that that’s one of the reasons sheepshead minnows are so adorable to me — because those little pectoral fins look more like feet or paws when they’re situated that way. They woggle them around when they’re hovering in the water, and it’s super cute. 

I also found myself studying the fishes’ eyes and head more. I grew up drawing mollies all the time and feel pretty confident drawing their sleek, sharp, missile-like profiles. But sheepshead minnows have more of a snub-nosed, eye-bulge-y, underbite-y, bulldoggy kind of look. And they have vertical, smudge-like black markings that run over their eyes, with a kind of smeary mascara effect. It’s all incredibly endearing to me.

I often say writing is thinking. I sometimes don’t know quite what I’m thinking until I write it all out.

A corollary of that might be that drawing is seeing. I learned a lot more about what I was seeing in these fish when I sat down to draw them. 

And now I’m better equipped to write about them.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying that any method of closely interacting with a subject can improve our writing. Not everyone draws; I’m not saying that’s the only way to go here. But I’d guess that photography or music or gardening or heck, sometimes just going for a walk can generate direct experience and observation that improves our writing immeasurably.

2021.06.23 – DARTH VADER #13 and FIREFLY #30 hit comic shops!

June 23 looks like a pretty big day for comics written by Greg Pak!

Darth Vader #13 cover by Aaron Kuder and Richard Isanove.
Darth Vader #13 cover by Aaron Kuder and Richard Isanove.

DARTH VADER #13 launches Vader into the thick of the War of the Bounty Hunters crossover – with the Dark Lord taking on IG-88, everyone’s favorite killer Phlutdroid! Written by yours truly with interior art by Raffaele Ienco, colors by Jason Keith, and letters by Joe Caramagna. Preorder it here!

Firefly #30 cover by Bengal.
Firefly #30 cover by Bengal.

FIREFLY #30 continues the epic story on Earth that Was as our heroes learn what exactly it means to be “Infernia.” Interior line art by Simona Di Gianfelice, colors by Francesco Segala, letters by Jim Campbell. Preorder it here!

STAR WARS: DARTH VADER Vol 2, INTO THE FIRE. Cover by InHyuk Lee.
STAR WARS: DARTH VADER Vol 2, INTO THE FIRE. Cover by InHyuk Lee.

But that’s not all! On June 23, you can also pick up the second volume of our hit DARTH VADER series! Interior art by Raffaele Ienco, colors by Neeraj Menon, letters by Joe Caramagna. Order it here!

Aaaaand… another website redesign update!

Yes, I stayed up past 3 am last night working on a website revamp. Yes, that was too late. No, I couldn’t stay away from it today.

But YES, I am very pleased with where I am now!

I thought I was just going to dive in for a few minutes to do a little more customization of the Twenty Twelve WordPress theme I installed yesterday. But instead, I got annoyed with the wasted white space at the top of the page and started poking around looking for a new theme. And after a bit of searching, I installed a theme called Twenty Fourteen — and I kind of love it!

Screenshot of the gregpak.com home page using the Twenty Fourteen WordPress theme.

As you can see from the screenshot above, Twenty Fourteen allows for a header image that’s flush with the top of the page. I understand the use of open space is a big part of giving websites a free, minimalist, airy feel. But it feels like too much if there’s so much open space above and below the header image that you have to scroll to read the first paragraph or two in the first post. So I dig this!

The title and nav bar then live on the same horizontal line, which again saves vertical space. And excitingly, the items in the navigation bar can be turned into nested, green drop down menus! I’m using those to provide handy links to some of my most current or prominent work. There’s a glitch that doesn’t let you keep scrolling those drop down menus if they’re longer than your screen, so I had to keep the number of items in them down. But that’s more manageable anyway.

The theme also provides columns on the left and the right, which gave me enough room to add a widget on the right with covers and links to some of my new work. And I was able to get my branding in by sticking my Pak Man Productions logo onto the top of the left column, where it feels just right.

Everything shifts dynamically to render nicely on any screen — on handheld devices, the line of menu items under the header image becomes a single button with a dropdown menu and full blog entries shrink into clickable headlines. The left column goes away and its contents get added to the bottom of the page when you narrow your screen past a certain point. And when you go even further, the right column goes away and gets added to the bottom as well. It requires a bit of thinking to make sure all the critical info is in a good place to be seen on all devices with these varying ways of displaying things, but it’s great that I’ve now got a site that people on all devices can enjoy without fuss.

The whole thing also inspired me to finally clean up and add some descriptions to the category pages for my most prominent work. So now when you click on “Wave” in the dropdown menu, for example, you get a little description of the character’s origins and where she appears and where you can buy the books.

Finally, I’m much happier with the way this theme displays the categories and date of each post. It’s just cleaner and better designed to differentiate posts from each other and clearly show when they were written. I think I’d still prefer if the date were at the top and the categories were beneath the headline, and I’m not sure I love that the headlines render in all-caps. But those are quibbles. It’s a big improvement over where we were just 24 hours ago.

I’m staying off Twitter as much as possible these days, but if you read this and have thoughts or notice any bugs or glitches, please do feel free to tell me on Twitter!