Category Archives: General

Skullkickers Win The Eisner?

Okay, not exactly…

The Eisner Awards are the comic book industry\’s highest honour.

This year, at the 2010 Eisner\’s, Image comic\’s Popgun V3 won the award for \’Best Anthology\’. Since Popgun 3 included a Skullkickers short story called \’Interlude\’, that inadvertently means the Skullkickers are Eisner Award winners!

or, more accurately…


Exploding from the Eisner Award-winning Popgun anthology in to their own series!

I think it\’s got a nice ring to it. What do you think? 🙂

Skullkickers #2 Solicitation


The Skullkickers are on the hunt for a famous corpse, and the twisted trail they follow is littered with troubles aplenty—grave diggers, patchwork zombies, horse thieves and dark magic. Trust us, skulls will be kicked. If you like D&D or Hellboy, SKULLKICKERS is waiting for you.


Diamond Order Code: AUG100490

Character Designs – Part 5

Who is this guy Edwin sketched up?

Hmm… guess you’ll have to wait and see. 🙂

Character Designs – Part 4

As Edwin came on board the Skullkickers book, he utilized Chris’ designs but gave them his own spin.

These were Edwin’s first attempts at capturing the feel of the dwarf and human, and they were almost dead-on. By the time he got a few pages in to drawing the actual comic he was really cooking and hasn’t looked back since.

Character Designs – Part 3

These two sketch pages by Chris Stevens really hit the mark in terms of character expression and solid form.

Character Designs – Part 2

Two more character design sketch pages by Chris Stevens from when we first started working on the comic series.

Character Designs – Part 1

Here are two pages of Chris Stevens’ original character sketches once we moved past the Popgun stories and headed in to development of the regular comic:

More sketches coming soon.

On Influences

Happy Canada Day to any of you reading from Canadian locales.

I wanted to write a little bit here about the things that inspired the stories in Skullkickers. Hopefully some of these bring a smile to your face or inspire you to seek them out if you haven’t tried them before:

Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser: In my mind, these two were the original fantasy duo. The stories have a wickedly dark sense of humour and loads of personality. If you’ve never read them before, you should move them right to the top of your fantasy reading list.

Dungeons & Dragons: Yup, the grand daddy of tabletop role-playing games is a key player in the adventurous hijinks in Skullkickers. My brother introduced me to the game when I was around 9 years old and it was one of those things that kept us close even as we grew up and changed in high school and college/university. In retrospect a lot of it was ridiculous, but it infused my brain with a love of fantasy and spurred on ideas for telling stories instead of just reading about them.

Conan: The novels, the comics and the original movie all hit certain notes I’d love to echo in Skullkickers. The dwarf has a line in the first issue where he describes his job as “a guard, a thief or a killer if that’s what ye need”. That idea, that the characters are adaptable survivors and absolutely mercenary is very Conan-like.

Army of Darkness: Sam Raimi’s over the top zombie epic rides a fine line between being either an outright slapstick farce or a loving pastiche of fantasy tropes. Ash is despicable and selfish and yet you can’t help but cheer him on as he charges in his own direction and wins through pure sass, grit and stupidity. If I do my job well then Skullkickers should feel a bit like having two Ash-esque characters who banter between themselves.

Hellboy: It won’t be as obvious as the other influences, but Mike Mignola’s balance of atmosphere and humour is a huge influence. I want to create stories where there’s a palpable sense of dread punctuated with snappy banter and big action. I think once I’m more comfortable with the characters and feel like the reader knows them well I’ll be more confident setting up wordless establishing shots and a grander sense of the fantasy world they’re in.

The Initial Popgun Pitch

Thanks to everyone who’s been spreading the word about Skullkickers and pre-ordering the first issue at their comic retailer!

I’ve been getting quite a few e-mails from people asking about how we were able to get our comic published by Image Comics, so I wanted to touch base on that and give a bit of insight in to the pitching process.

Image is the only premiere comic publisher that accepts unsolicited pitches for new projects. What that means is that other large comic publishers (Dark Horse, DC, IDW and Marvel) won’t look at your original ideas unless they’ve specifically asked you to send them.

Image has a pretty extensive section explaining how to submit proposals to them. Keep in mind that hearing back from them can take a while and that they might not give your proposal the thumb’s up, but at least there is an avenue.

So, without giving away surprise story elements to come, how did I pitch Skullkickers to Image?

Here’s the initial outline I sent in to the editors on Popgun explaining the concept. Back then it was called “2 Copper Pieces” instead of Skullkickers:

In a backwater fantasy world filled with all manners of magical beasts, poverty, disease and other horrifying threats, it’s a daily struggle to survive. Most people keep their head low, stay in the village they were born and eke out a life as a farmer or simple trades person. The only people strong enough to have anything else are protected by sorcerous powers or in the employ of the demonic.

Except for our two protagonists – They thrive by being stubborn and tough as Hell.

No one knows where this human and dwarf came from or how they’ve survived so long without using a speck of magic. They travel the land slaying every kind of beast in their path with sheer physical grit and vicious trickery. They’re not heroic or even nice – in fact they might be two of the most irritating and ornery $%&@ to ever heft a blade. No matter how obnoxious they may be, no one can argue with their results and the huge trail of corpses left in their wake. In a world of the weak, they’re fighters.

Some folks despise them, others praise or even worship them – they don’t care.
They’d kill anything for 2 copper pieces.

2 Copper Pieces is a fantasy parody on steroids. It revels in the clichés of sword and sorcery while injecting them with an extra spark of sass and violence. It’s not deep and meaningful by any stretch, instead keeping readers engaged with snappy dialogue and inventive use of monsters. Like Ash from Army of Darkness, our “heroes” are so full of themselves and capable that readers will like them even when they’re being absolute jerks.

That’s it in a nutshell. That little chunk is only 280 words. It doesn’t have to be long and involved, in fact being short and to the point probably helps. Make a solid statement about what you want your concept to feel like and make it clear.

After that overview of what 2 Copper Pieces was all about I had another 100-150 words about the specific story, outlining what would be happening, trying to make it all sound exciting. The editors liked it and I wrote the first short story (which you can read in our free zero issue online) with these characters for Popgun volume 2.

Hulk Homage Cover

If you saw the solicitations for Image comics shipping in September that included Skullkickers #1 you may have noticed a neat alt cover previewed there as well.

Chris Stevens (Skullkickers’ fantastic cover artist) and I were talking about homages, riffing on famous comic covers using our two mercenary boys and when I went looking for classic issue #1’s I came across the iconic Incredible Hulk #1. The fact that it had ‘FANTASY AS YOU LIKE IT’ written on it was too good to be true. Chris and I had a winner.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison:

Original by Jack Kirby, homage by Chris Stevens. The distressed nicks, scratches and discolouration to make it look like an old comic was masterfully done by Steven Finch.

We thought it would be a fun nod to the past and a way to entice the superhero buffs to try out our comic. I hope you like it.