From the mind of Tom Beland

Creator of True Story Swear to God

Saturday, December 29, 2007

THE BIGGEST SIGNING EVENT OF MY LIFE. AWESOME.

(special thanks to Emilio Torres Garcia for taking these photos!)

Saturday afternoon, FANTASTIC FOUR: ISLE DE LA MUERTA hit the shelves here in Puerto Rico and I have to say, it was mind-blowing how many people showed up for the signing event. This was the line that awaited us before the doors even opened. There were people stretching out down the mall and it seemed to go on forever.



Meanwhile, upstairs, artist Juan Doe (left) and editor Alejandro Arbona (right) joined me for a quick cup of coffee before the store opened for business. We've waited a long time for this day and it has finally arrived.


As the doors opened, people began the journey into the store. I cannot tell you how patient these people were today. The lines were long and it's a small store. There wasn't a bad word from anyone in line the entire day. And this line never seemed to go down.


Univision sent a camera crew to cover the event. You can see the cameraman in this shot. It was incredible how the media jumped on this story. We didn't know until today that this is the first time in comics history that a bilingual book had been published and released on the same day. The fact that me, Juan and Alenjandro really love this little book made that historic moment all the more special.

We've had coverage from El Nuevo Dia, El Vocero, Metro Magazine, Hoy Magazine, Caras Magazine, USA Today, New York Times, New York Post, Orlando Sentinel, MSNBC, Associated Press and San Juan Star. We did a slew of interviews for internet sites such as Comic Book Resources, Newsarama and many, many more. Thanks to everyone who was interested in this project!


Me, Juan and Alejandro share a quick laugh during the mayhem. We sold a shitload of comics today. Every customer who came in bought six issues of each version each. We signed so many books that I couldn't tell you what time it was. The greatest thing was hearing folks say "thanks for making the island proud." We signed comics non-stop (we took a half-hour lunch break upstairs) from 10am until 7pm. The line never stopped and the register never stopped ringing.

It was such a great experience making this book. Really. It was a goofy idea, one I thought Marvel would never go for in a billion years. It was an artist who's never made a comic book in his life. And it was an editor who steered me clear of repeating myself and helping me add as much about Puerto Rico as possible, without hurting the story. And it snowballed into this fantastic experience. I feel so blessed to have worked with these two guys.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

FANTASTIC FOUR SIGNING IN PUERTO RICO DEC. 29TH!



On Saturday, December 29, for the entire day, Metro Comics at the San Patricia Plaza will be holding a huge signing party for the big FANTASTIC FOUR: ISLA DE LA MUERTA special!

You can meet me, artist Juan Doe and editor Alejandro Arbona and we'll be signing books throughout the day. I'll be bringing my sketch tools and I'll be doing some sketches! We'll talk about how the book came together and just share in the love of this very special book.

To say that Juan, Alejandro and I are proud of this book is quite possibly the greatest understatement of all time. We feel that we made a book that we'd personally buy ourselves. As a matter of fact, part of what I love the most about writing for Marvel is walking into the store and buying the book right there at the store.

I haven't seen the comic yet, the comps haven't arrived.... but I know some retailers that got advanced copies who love the issue. Really man.... I cannot say enough of what Juan brought to the page. Infuckingcredible.

Anyhoo... come on by Saturday and meet the crew and pick up a great book. And remember... there's an English version and a Puerto Rican Espanol version as well. This is the first time Marvel has released two languages of a book the same day.

Monday, December 17, 2007

HOLY... I GOT A BOOK OUT THIS WEEK!


Jeeze, I completely forgot that I have a Spidey story out this week!

SPIDER-MAN: FAMILY #6... has an incredibly adorable story by the uber-talented Chris Eliopoulos and there's a story I wrote featuring Spidey and Kazar's pet tiger ZABU!! David Hahn handled the art chores and it was a blast to write! Enjoy!

I.... AM... IRON CHEF!!!


I’m a cooking junkie.

I love cooking over a stove, over a range and over charcoal briquettes… I love cooking. I love the sound of meat hitting a hot surface, that wondrous hisssss is music to my ears.

I love slicing and dicing veggies on the cutting board. There’s an almost Zen-like trance I fall into as I take a group of carrots, peel them, slice them into sticks and then to a fine dice. The same with the celery and the onions.

The other night we had a huge party for our cousin Mario and his wife, Sila… who are moving to Tampa in a few days. Close to thirty people, all under one roof gathered to bid these two adieus. Mario is one of my closest friends I have, even though we don’t get together much. He’s a brilliant lawyer and he’s one of the smartest people I know.

He also has a huge comic book collection that I was going to pry away from him… until my wife cut me off at the pass and told Sila to ship the books out before I could wrangle them away from Mario.

Cousin Paul and I held court in the kitchen, getting the huge salad ready to be served with the various meat, chicken and vegetarian lasagnas. I had loaves of fabulous chabatta bread to be grilled and slathered in garlic butter and Parmesan cheese.

My nephew Jeanpi (short for Jean Paul) was with us, hoping for the chance to cook with the big boys. We regulated the poor boy to such mundane duties as peeling the skins off the onions and trash monitoring. He did his duty, with a sad little smile on his face.

As the Patriots were date-raping the Pittsburgh Steelers, I was slicing celery on the cutting board with great speed. I’m not going to deny the fact that I’m very good with a knife. I got Martin Yan speed-skills, motherfucker, and I’m very confident. As my machine-gun dicing reduced the stalks to even slices, I could hear some of the women talking about how good my abilities were with a knife. One of them owns an Italian restaurant and this woman loves to watch me work a blade.

I took Jeanpi out to the patio where my grill is. I opened the lid, cranked-up the burners and slammed it shut with one of those Bobby Flay “grill… you are my bitch” moves. I then took young Jeanpi back to the kitchen and handed.

I sliced the loaves in half and then… to his surprise, handed the loaves to Jeanpi.

“You’re the bread man tonight.” I told him. He got his wish this evening. He was now a member of the kitchen brigade. A sly smile came over the young lad’s face. This was the big leagues… this was a crucial part of the menu and I warned him.

“You fuck this up… you’re on your own.”

He followed me out to the grill and we slammed the loaves facedown onto the grates. I took the first two, he took rest. I then slammed the lid down and told they boy that if he left this spot, for any reason, this grill will destroy his bread. And if he destroyed the bread, he would have to face the wrath of demons from the seventh level of Hades, formerly known as the family.

Don’t ever fuck up the bread. Nothing is more unforgivable than burning the bread and seeing empty bread baskets, never to see a crumb. You don’t want to be the cause of that nightmare. I’ll be the first to kill you.

I get back to the kitchen and begin smashing the garlic and ginger for the dressing, when I look to my side and see Jeanpi standing there, watching me work. Apparently, he didn’t understand the importance of his post.

“GET BACK THERE AND WATCH THE FUCKING BREAD!!”

Then he came back to the kitchen and told us that everyone thinks the bread is burning because they can smell it. What they smelled, I told him, was the bread being charred, which gives it that crunch. I told him he was in charge and to not pussy out to the Gangs of New York eaters, waiting to chow-down.

We went back to the grill, popped it open and flipped over the first loaf.

Beautiful, baby. Absolutely beautiful.

Golden brown with the slightest char sprinkled across the surface. The other three were just as gorgeous. Now we just turn down the heat and roast the backsides to add to the crunch. I then gave Jeanpi a brush and a huge jug of garlic butter and told him to slather them down like a Kentucky Derby racehorse in the winner’s circle.

It was a magical feeling passing the bread duties to Jeanpi. The boy-who-would-be-Bourdain was one of us now. Holiday cooks, bitching about all the people walking through the kitchen, kids letting us know that they’re not going to touch the cherry tomatoes and hungry partiers begging us to serve our culinary concoctions.

The kitchen is where the action is, where ingredients are flying from cutting board to mixing bowl at a furious pace. It’s me yelling to my wife to get that buffet table ready, because I’m serving it when it’s ready and I’m not going to be waiting for someone to find the fucking table draping. It’s high-stress and it’s a frantic energy and it’s the greatest place in the house to be during the holidays.

Paul and I rarely eat at the table. Not when we’ve been tasting everything and slamming down wine and Smirnoff lemon-thingamabobs while we were preparing the feast. We always serve the food, retreat back to the kitchen, pour two full glasses of wine and listen to the sounds of everyone diggin’ our food. It’s a great feeling. It’s quite a shit-eating grin when you cause that type of reaction.

And now… there’s a new musketeer. Jean Paul has officially joined the ranks of the Kitchen Brigade. The Warriors Three, covered in water, oil and vinegar, our shirts dotted with carrots, celery, onion, garlic, ginger and lettuce. We wear every scrap with pride.

And we don’t do the dishes.

Ahhhhh… it's good to be the cook.

Monday, December 10, 2007

TUESDAY NIGHT, I'LL BE SEEING...


THE POLICE!!!!

Lily got us ticets about two months ago and this is my Christmas gift. Cannot WAIT to see this show. I've never seen them live and they've been on my concert wish list forever.

Envy me. Now.

Monday, December 3, 2007

FANTASTIC FOUR SKETCHES FROM JUAN DOE!


Marvel Comics is running a fun, four-day event on their website celebrating FANTASTIC FOUR: ISLA DE LA MUERTE, shipping Christmas week. Go to their website and check out our takes on the characters in the book. Today's feature was Ben Grimm, the ever lovin' blue-eyed THING!

MARVEL.COM

I've gotta say... I'm a bit bummed that all the work is over on this. It was such a fun project to work on and Juan really did an incredible job on the art. Alejandro was one of the nicest people I've worked with in comics and I hope to do more work with him in the future.

Somewhere in my office are MY sketch pages I used while I was writing the script. I'm going to find them and post them and you can see how close Juan's vision was with mine.


Friday, November 9, 2007

VALENTINE'S DAY GIFTS 2008!!

Lordy, Lordy, LORDAYYY... THIS is the book I've been waiting to see in PREVIEWS and it's going to be in the December Previews. It's big, it's affordable and it's a LOT of fun and romance.

This is the big TSSTG Omnibus from Image Comics. It's titled "YOU CAN'T LOVE TOO MUCH ONE PART OF IT" (from a great John Mayer tune called "Wheel") and it collects ALL SEVENTEEN ISSUES of my self-published Clib's Boy Comics run. It's 560+ pages that tells the entire story from how Lily and I met at the bus stop in Disneyworld, to me moving to Puerto Rico, to my first convention and so on.

Many people out there have the TSSTG trades from AiT/PlanetLar and, while they were great books, were never able to print a trade that featured the final six issues of my self-published run. This Image book will catch readers up on those mysterious final six issues before I moved to Image.

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about this book. Some of the fun things we're going to feature as a bonus inside will be:

• A yearbook-style photo section, featuring all the characters real-life photos and small quotes about being in a comic book.

• Recipes! I talk a lot about how much I love to cook and I'm going to add some of my favorite recipes.

• Lots of love... lots of laughs... lots of emotion.

If you have a partner who's not too much into comics, or if you have someone who's read the trades but hasn't read those lost six issues... this book will make a GREAT VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT!!


This is the other biggie issue. It's been twenty-six issues in the making and now it's time for the long-awaited ENGAGEMENT ISSUE.

Everyone has been telling me that this issue is going to be a lovely read, since it's such a romantic story. But I can assure you... this was one of the most difficult periods of my life. This issue centers around 911 and the struggle of living in a place where the stars and stripes aren't always the most popular thing to hang outside your home. It was our biggest fight, I was a HUGE ass.... but we still managed to get engaged.

This will also be solicited in the Decembers PREVIEWS for February shipping.

When I signed on with Image, they wanted me to go monthly and, although I really wanted to be able to do this... it's been a tough learning experience. I fell wayyyy behind on the deadlines and I felt we needed some space to catch up on everything.

The main feeling on this was I didn't want to get a book out every month just to meet a deadline. This particular book is more than a comic to me and Lily and I didn't want to compromise on level of writing I want for this book. So, I'm now caught up and I needed some space to get more books in the can before submitting.

Anyhoo... I hope you're as excited about these books as I am and I know you'll enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them.

SPIDER-MAN/ZABU STORY FOR MARVEL ADVENTURES!


A couple of DAVID HAHN pages today from our upcoming MARVEL ADVENTURES: SPIDER-MAN story for Marvel. Spidey's asked to babysit KAZAR's pet sabertooth tiger, ZABU for the night. The only problem is... Zabu has been in a grumpy mood, not the type of thing you want to hear when you're babysitting a giant sabertooth.

I'll be writing a few more stories for MASM in 2008. It's been a great book to write for, taking me back to those LEE/DITKO feelings where you take some goofy stuff here and add some fun art there and you end up with a fun time for all.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The best fucking blog on the internet.

It's called "Occassional Superheroine and it's one of the greatest, funniest blogs in the universe.

Here's the link or use the one listed on the side.
http://occasionalsuperheroine.blogspot.com/

Thursday, October 25, 2007

NEW YORK GROOVE

Lily and I got tickets to see the new Mel Brooks musical, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and I wasn't sure what to expect from this 20 milliion dollar event.

First of all... I'm a HUGE fan of the film, as is everyone who walks into the theatre, so to say this show has a LOT to live up to is no small statement.

It lived up to it.

It was fun, the songs were fantastic and Andrea Martin... good lord, this woman is just so fucking good. Her creepy housekeeper, Frau Blucher, steals every scene and her big number "He Vas My Boyfriend" will have you screaming.

Megan Mullaly got top billing for this show, but she's not IN that much of the musical. She's in one scene in the opening act and then disappears until the end of the first half. But in that second half, she's hilarious.

Sutton Foster as Inga, Shuler Hensley as the Monster and Christopher Fitzgerald as Igor all do wonderful justice to the monumental performances in the movie by Terri Garr, Peter Boyle and Marty Feldman.

Fun time. REALLY fun time.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

START SPREADING THE NEWS...

Lily and I will be in New York this week to attend a friend's wedding and enjoy the big city.

I'm ALSO going to be doing a signing party at JIM HANLEY'S UNIVERSE in Manhattan store, Friday, October 26th from 6-7pm. The address is:

JHU- MANHATTAN
4 WEST 33RD STREET
NEW YORK
(off 5th Avenue... opposite the Empire State Building)
tel: 212-268-7088

I'll be signing books and I'll do as many sketches as I can during that hour. Looking forward to meeting you all!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

WELL, WHADDYA KNOW...?

I get a phone call today from a microsoft person to tell me that my xbox360 has already been fixed and shipped back to me. Not only that... when I checked the tracking number on the ups site, I discovered that my little xbox was being shipped to me 2 day air.

Now, it's a shame that Supervisor Amy couldn't have said "let me see what I can do" instead of "I can't do anything." That would've made this all the more nicer to discover this morning. But I couldn't believe how hard I had to fight to get someone to do a job that should've only taken two weeks to fix.

Anyhoo... it's on its way home where it belongs. I'm hoping to be online by the end of the week and I'm praying this will work like it should.

Gamertag is tombelandtsstg. Look me up.

Monday, October 15, 2007

MY XBOX 360 EXPERIENCE


Never owned an Xbox.

I've always been a PS2 gamer. But, since I've heard how great XBOX 360 is... and since there aren't too many games for PS3 for me to invest in, I thought I'd try a 360.

Paid for the system (it was actually a $460 birthday gift from Lily) and a day after the in-store warrantee expires and after, say four days of gaming, the machine quits working. It kept taking me to the Xbox Live menu and wouldn't read discs anymore. FOUR days of gameplay.

So my in-store quarantee was gone and I couldn't just replace the system. I, instead, have to mail my system in for repairs... but it shouldn't take longer than two weeks to fix. They (microsoft) even sends in a repair request to get a jump on the work. I still have a warrantee with Microsoft for the machine, I'm told... so it'll be free to have this done.

Except... guess what..? They don't ship from Puerto Rico for free. I had to pay, which was about $50.

I call after ten days and, yep, my system has arrived, I'm told. Not to worry, all will be well and my machine will be sent back to me and I'll get an email with a tracking number for it. Great.

Except when I contact them ten days later, for an update and y'know what..? Nobody seems to be able to find my little xbox anywhere. I'm on hold for 20 minutes and I'm told "Ahhhh here it is. It hasn't been repaired yet, but we'll put a rush on it for you."

Except when I contacted them again, a week later, darned if these people couldn't AGAIN find my xbox 360. I'm on hold for 45 minutes and told "thank you for your patience" about eighty times while I'm on hold.

"Oh, here it is... it seems that it hasn't been repaired yet," Mary tells me. "I'll send an email to the service center and make sure they get right to it. I'll tell you what, I'll make sure they add some stuff to it to balance everything out for your inconvenience."

I sigh.... "yeah, okay, whatever. Look... WHEN will I be holding this Xbox in my hands..?"

"Should be about five days and then shipped out." She replies.

Which brings us to tonight. Because tonight I contacted them for an update and SON OF A FUCKING BITCH they cannot find my system... AGAIN. I'm on hold for 35 minutes and then I hear... wait, everyone say it together:

"Okay, not to worry... here it is. It's waiting to be fixed at the service center."

So I'm obviously not happy at this point. I ask for a supervisor and Amy tells me now that she's PERSONALLY sending an email to the service center, so there won't be a delay." When I told Supervisor Amy that I've been told three times my problem would be fixed right away, she tells me not to worry. I'd only have to wait a bit for it.

I then asked how long this would take. Five to eight days, according to Amy. So then I ask her, how will this be sent to me? UPS ground.

UPS ground.

So, I tell her... "so that'll take up to ten working days to get here.."

"Yes."

"After hoping the service center does what's been guaranteed to do three times now... which will take five to eight days."

"Ummmm.." she says.

"Which now means I'll be waiting EIGHTEEN working days, which is three weeks. After having my system for over a month."

"I'm very sorry about the inconvenience, Mr. Beland" I hear her say as she tries to get back on the corporate unicycle.

"So then why not have the system sent to me via air mail?" I ask her. I mean, I already had to pay for the shipping there, which should've been covered in my warrantee.

"I... can't do that." she says.

"Couple of free games..?" I ask.

"I.... can't do that either."

"ahhhh..." I say. "So what you'd really appreciate here is me just saying 'thank you' and hanging up. Because, other than that... I really don't feel much appreciation coming from you guys."

I can see why everyone loves Xbox. Fuck.

Friday, October 12, 2007

NEXT ISSUE GOING TO PRINT!!!

It comes out later this month and it was one of THE hardest issues I've ever worked on. Writing on the events in this issue, combined with the loss of Mike Wieringo made this a very difficult issue to finish. I hope enjoy the results.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

IT'S CRUDE, LEWD AND SOOOO DELICIOUS

I'm talking, of course, about the insanely-hilarious DRAWN TOGETHER. And there's one more reason to love this series....

My good friend since, what... JUNIOR high school, Peter Avanzino, is a director on this show. Peter's worked on other great shows like, FUTURAMA, THE SIMPSONS, DUCKMAN and REN & STIMPY.

Am I JEALOUS of Pete's famed career in animation? Of his being able to call Matt Groening a personal buddy?

Nope.

I'm not jealous, because I ALSO know that Pete's a HUGE Spider-Man fan... and I've had the chance to WRITE one of the Spidey books!!! BWAH-HA-HA-HA-HAAAAAAA!!!

I AM a little jealous of that fat paycheck he collects though.

FROM THE SKETCH FILES...

One of the things I do for my readers is this. When someone buys a trade paperback at a convention, or book signing, I'll include a free sketch in the book. I'll be honest... I've done so many of these sketches, I've forgotten most of them in my time.

In this case, however, I did a bit more. A reader named Bill was getting married to his financee, Erin. They loved the TSSTG series and wanted to give their wedding party copies of CHANCES ARE, my first trade... as gifts. They asked me if I'd sign the copies and I thought, "Damned... if they're giving them away as WEDDING gifts, that's pretty special."

So I busted out the colored pencils and did a colored sketch in every book.... and included one for the bride and groom. This took a lot time, but it was worth it.

Bill recently featured the sketch I did for them on his blog and it was nice to see it again. It's sort of like getting a photo of one of your kids in a way. Thanks Bill!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

MY FAVORITE SHOW IS BACK ON THE AIR

Funniest, most immature show on the air and I. Love. It.

It's also the greatest theme song. Evah.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

THE SKETCHES ARE BACK!!




The commissions are back and ready for business. If you'd like a sketch, let me know who you'd like drawn, black n white or color and an theme, if you have one in mind.

My sketches are on bristol board 8.5" x 11" and the colors are PRISMACOLOR pencils. These were very popular last year and the list filled up quickly, so be sure to act quickly if you're interested.

You can see more of the sketches at my website, tombeland.com. Go to the SKETCHES category (duh) and see what there is there.

Now... I also do caricatures, but I'm not the greatest at that. Also, I'm going to need at least four photos... one front view, two side views and a good three-quarter view. Also... spell their name for me. You have NO IDEA how many men spell "TOM", T-H-O-M nowadays. Nothing worse than getting a portrait with the person's name spelled wrong.

Pricing varies, depending on number of characters and difficulty of the piece. Minimum charge is $40 + shipping/handling and I use PAYPAL.

IMPORTANT!!: USE MY EMAIL TO PLACE AN ORDER (tom@tombeland.com)... it'll let me know who was first and keep better track of orders.


My kind of people (long post, sorry)


Retailers. For as many friends I've made in readers and editors of comic books, I keep finding myself emotionally invested in the retailers.

I think it's because it takes me back to my mini-comics days and having to take my books to Christine, owner of Metro Comics here in Puerto Rico. A store owner is not only the person who decides what gets sold in the store, but they're also the person who's job I've wished to have, if only for a day. She was the first to take anything printed by me and to this day remains my biggest supporter.

Yeah, there's no money, or little money in owning a comics shop. There's the nightmare of dealing with Diamond and shipping freight costs and returns and all that hell. I've even learned recently that some customers actually pee on the floor (I've seen video clips of the event... it's happened!!).

But with all of that, there's something very magical about the job to me. There's the coolness of being in the middle of the comics storm every Wednesday afteroon. There's opening those boxes and seeing the books for the first time. And there's the fact that you don't have to wear a tie to work and say "yes sir" and you get to enjoy an art form that takes everyone back to a golden time in their lives.

My good friend, Frankie, is a saxophonist for some very prominent singers and musicians here on the island, was visiting here last night to watch the baseball playoff games. Me, Lily, her cousing Marian and Frankie are going to be in New York to attend our nephew's wedding. While we're there, we have some time to go off on our own and Frankie and I were talking about what to do in New York during that week.

Frankie mentioned hitting some retro clothing stores and a music store to look at some saxaphones. Then he also mentioned hitting some of the old record stores. Ahhhhh record stores. Man, I LOVES me an old-time record store. Gotta be old, somewhat dirty and be playing nothing older than 1979. Record covers, big and artsy, I could stare at them for hours.

I then told him that I had to go to some comic shops and Frankie's eyes lit up. Give me two hours in a comic shop and I'll go clothes shopping with Lily anywhere. With a big smile and a "take your time, dear" at ever place we visit.

When I was a kid, my mother worked at a drug store named LEVINSON'S on Freeway Drive. This was in the early 70's and this drug store had a HEY KIDS, COMICS! rack filled with books. There was an old woman there named Ruth, who was in charge of changing the magazines and this woman HATED dealing with the comics.

So, one day I was watching Ruth cut the plastic strap on the comics bundle and I said "Man.. you have the GREATEST job on earth." Ruth looked at me, rolled her eyes and in her smoky-raspy voice said "Y'think THIS is great??? Honey, you can have this job ANY time." I looked at her in shock and said "REALLY?? I'LL DO IT!!!"

She said, "okay kid.." and told me how it worked. I had to go to the comics rack and take down all the blue-tipped books. Back then, comic books would have a swab of ink on the top of the pages, so if you looked at the top of the book, you'd see a strip of blue, magenta, yellow or green. This showed what week the book came out. So, I'd take out all the blue tips and replace them with the magenta tips. It took me maybe an hour to do this and Ruth was thrilled to not have to deal with the comics.

When I was finished, she told me "hey, I'll tell you what. For doing this for me, you can have five dollars worth of comics." That's right FIVE. FUCKING. DOLLARS.

Now, before you call Ruth a cheapscape, understand that comics back then were 12¢ per book. This meant I could have 40 comics and some candy for my work and I was freaking OUT while picking out my books. I walked home with this HUGE paper bag of books and when my dad saw them, he asked where I got the comics and when I told him, he wasn't too cool with it. "Don't take advantage of Ruth... take those books back" I was in tears as my father drove me back to the store.

But Ruth refused to take the books back. She told my father that it was her idea and her's alone and that I was really helping her out. My dad stared at my red-stained little eyes and said "You promise to do this every week?"

PROMISE?? This was my life's mission!!! He agreed and took me back with my bag... so long as I promised to bring home the new Mad Magazine.

When I had to bring my mini-comics to Comic Relief, I was terrified. Tyler was working the counter and he had spikey bleach-blonde hair, tattoos and a nose-ring. The ULTIMATE cool comics shop employee. I brought my book to the counter and said "ummm these are my mini comics, take a look." And as he read them, I ran over to my brothers Joe and Bob (yeah, we don't have the most colorful names in my family) and I was a nervous wreck as Tyler looked at my work.

"You've got a great line in your art," he said and I nervously stammered a "thanks" and then he asked me how many copies I had with me. I told him I had twenty of each book (there were four at the time) and Tyler said "Yeah, okay... we'll take 'em all."

Get the fuck out of town, I thought. Comic Relief.... the place I considered Comic Mecca in the coolest city in the free world, was taking MY mini comics!!!??? I nearly peed myself. They were put on the racks and I took a photo of Bob trying to steal a copy by sliding it in his jacket. I was so fucking high that day and they knew it. Whenver I see Rory at a convention, I want to hug the man. Every. Time.

There's Joe Ferrara, the man who is in issue #16 of TSSTG... the WonderCon issue. He never had to invite a mini-comic dude to come hang-out with his group of proffessional friends, but he did. And in doing so, he gave me my very first moment where I felt like I was one of the big guys. Joe and my father would've hit if off so damned good. At times, when I'm haning with Joe, I have the urge to cry a bit. Because I know my father would spend all day with him.

There's Joe Fields who is just plain good. He's a good guy and I sometimes think it would be impossible to be that good and have that good of a wife and that great of kids. When I need a pick-me-up fix, I visit Flying Colors. Joe, to me, is that big brother who loved comics and he gives me a great feeling whenever I see him. And... look, I have to say this about Joe. His daughter, Jenny, is hot. I don't mean "she's so cute" hot. I mean she is fire-warning hot. And she loves my book. And she PUSHES my book. Sooooo... there is an incredibly awesome moment where I'll walk in the store, unannounced and see this uber-hot girl wearing my TSSTG t-shirt and she's talking some fanboy, who's deeply in love with Jenny as she's speaking... and she's talking him into buying my book. This has happened three times and every time it has made me feel like a rock star. BONO U2 rock star.

There's Jim Hanley's Universe, where I did a signing for TSSTG and this guy walked in, telling me he liked the way I wrote couples. I said thanks and signed an issue for him and he gave me his business card and told me "You should write a Mary Jane/Peter Parker story sometime." As he left, I looked at the card and there was his name... TOM BREEVORT alongside a big Spider-Man in color with MARVEL COMICS written there. I stared at this card for what seemed like an eternity and showed it to Lily and I nearly cried right there in the store. Jim Hanley's reminds me of dreams coming true. It's why I love to sign there.

There was Bill Liebowitz, the owner of Golden Apple in Los Angeles. I first met Bill at the annual San Diego dinner Joe Ferrara holds every year at the con. It was my first dinner and I was a nervous wreck and it all became wonderful when Bill, a giant lumberjack of a man, mentioned to me that he knew my work and loved the series. He also told me that, while getting TSSTG out on a monthy rate would mean more money for me, I shouldn't let the book out unless it was something I truly felt good about. I've always felt this way, but when it came from Bill's lips, it solidified that rule in my book. When he passed away, I was at a loss to explain my sorrow. I only hung with Bill only a few times, but damned if he didn't always know who I was and tell me that the book was great. His wife, Sharon, is a joy to sit with for those dinners since. My only regret with Bill is that I never got to see him YO.

I remember meeting John Carter, owner of Waterfront Comics in Suisun, California when he opened his store. It was part of a hair salon, half hair salon/half comics shop. He had this little space and put his books on the wall by the counter. I gave him a sketch page to sell to help the cause. The hair salon went out of business and John took the entire space and now he's got a kick-ass store, with old brick interior walls that are bitching. John is such a great guy and we both love talking about our start in the comics biz.

I had my first rock-star feeling when I did a signing at James Sime's Isotope Comics Lounge. James set up a drawing table for me to work on in front of the window and then I got to sign one of his toilet seats he has on display! My toilet set hangs alonside some of the biggest names in comics and it was a very fun experience.

My newest retailer is John Munn, owner of the uber-cool COMIC BOOK INK in Tacoma. Not only is his store great looking (I've only seen photos), but he's also very good to indie-creators, which is huge. But the COOLEST thing about Munn's store are those BITCHING, RIGHTOUS BLACK BOWLING SHIRTS he gives to creators who sign at his store. I cannot tell you how bad I want one of those shirts (XX Large, John ;)) and if John was a dickhead in person, I'd STILL want one of those shirts. However, when you add to the fact that he's one of the nicest guys in comics, the shirt is just the hot fudge topping on the John Munn sundae of goodness.

Every year there's a new retailer I meet who I feel a kinship to in some way. It's a deeper bond than the readers or the publishers, because these are the people who invest their money in their stock and I've never met a bad retailer. Never. I know that sounds like bullshit, but it's just a fact. And, thankfully, if I ever DO meet up with one, the number of good ones will always outweigh the bad.

Monday, October 1, 2007

A FANTASTIC SWELL OF EXCITEMENT BEGINS


Check out the great coverage the largest newspaper in Puerto Rico, EL NUEVO DIA gave the Fantastic Four story on Sunday!!

They gave us the cover to their arts section, "FLASH" and a two-page color spread featuring the artwork and interviews with me, Juan Doe and editor Alejandro Arbona. They were great to us and I've been receiving emails all day about this book.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

TOMBELAND.COM is open for business!!!

After what seems like FOREVER... my website, tombeland.com is up and running.

You'll find a number of things on this site including:

BACK ISSUES!! We've installed a cover gallery covering the entire CLIB'S BOY COMICS self-published line... but another page displaying the Image series too! There's also back-ordering information for both series.


PAPERBACK BOOKS! Anthologies and trade paperback books that are currently available at comic shops everywhere.


SKETCH PAGES! The commission sketches I've done over the past two years. Commissions are now available by emailing me... depending on schedules.


EVENTS PAGE! These are photos taken at conventions and vacation visits.


WRITING GIGS!! These are comics I've written for Marvel, Bongo and others.

Soooooo... take a looksee, enjoy the view and link me!

Huge thanks for Luis Salichs for his untiring help with the design of the site and creating it for me!!!

AND A BIG THANKS TO BENDIS BOARD BUDDY TIM DANIEL FOR MAKING THOSE KILLER WEB BANNERS!!!

Monday, September 24, 2007

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? 45???

Tonight at midnight, I will turn 45 years old.

I know, I know... I don't look a day over 57. I mean, LOOK at that photo!!

I've always looked older than I was. I was getting into dance clubs at the age of 17, when the age was 21. I also got hit on by a lot of older women (good looking older women, I'm proud to say). It may have been the thinning hairline or who knows whaaaaat.

Y'know what? I'm so diggin' my forties. My 20's were spent on chasing women, drinking, smoking weed, dropping acid, taking mushrooms and, well... chasing women. I also had one loser of a marriage that lasted six months. It was truly my brainless era of my life.

My thirties... that's when the light began to go off in my head. I was working at a bank (one of the MANY jobs I had) and all us tellers had to decorate our stations because the fair was in town. Some tellers put hay near their window, some dressed in overalls... me? I created some stand-up paper dolls that were based on the freak show. I had the stretching lady, the bearded woman, the vampire boy and the strong man.

A guy came by my station to deposit his paycheck and he chuckled at my artwork and asked where I got them. I told them I made them and he said they were cool and he left. Not what I'd call a monumental moment. But an hour later, I got a call at the bank and it turned out that guy was the sales manager for the local newspaper. He wanted to know if I'd like a job as an ad builder for the paper.

As much as I hated working at a bank, I freakin' LOVED my boss. Kathy was a great woman to work for and she was someone I could always talk to about my life and what I wanted to do. She also read whatever comics I recommended. But I was also a HORRIBLE bank teller. She only had me there because I kept moral up and I made her laugh.

So, when I told her about the offer, she told me to go for it. Not after an hour, or a couple of minutes... she said it the moment I finished my sentence. "You're a horrible bank teller, Tom." she laughed. "This could be the start of something big." So, I went to work for the paper, building ads and adding cartoon elements when needed.

From there, I moved to the editorial department and from there to another newspaper and from there to Puerto Rico and from there... well... here. My thirties were a time of self-discovery... in myself and in my abilities as an artist.

My forties have been a time where the wheels have left the runway and I'm airborne. It's not always the most comfortable feeling, because now I'm no longer a fanboy who can blast anything on the message boards. My name is known or somewhat known, so when I say one thing... it gets spread over the net. Weird.

One thing I did when I turned 40, was build bridges I personally napalmed on online message boards. I looked at the stupid, stupid things I wrote out of jealousy, or stress caused by something outside the issue, or just plain stupidity of wanting to be part of the mob. I then wrote emails to every person affected by those online postings and I apologized. I told them how stupid it was to do that shit and that I was embarrassed by my actions. Because, although I don't think I'm an old man... I HAVE grown up.

Things still cause me to react online. A bad review that seems more personal than objectionable... a decision to change a character I'm passionate about... someone who might see me as I was back in my 30's, rather than the person I am now. I can't hold back my opinions.

But I have learned to take a step back... breathe deep and think before I type. I also always use my real name, rather than some made-up name. That helps a ton.

Don't be afraid of getting older. Be afraid of that number holding you back on what you really want to do. Never say "I can't do that now... I'm 35, 39 or 45 for God's sake." I didn't begin my career in comics until I was 34.

And I didn't find true love until I was 36. There's no timeline for life acheivements. They happen when they happen.

And they DO happen.

So... 45 at midnight. It's one of those numbers that cause you to look back and reflect on your life. I did it today.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

BELAND. DOE. FANTASTIC FOUR IN DECEMBER

There's a 38-page FANTASTIC FOUR special hitting stores in December and in this story, they travel to PUERTO RICO to battle the Chupacabras and a mystery villain. This was a very special issue to write, because I think it really shows off the island in a great way. Juan Doe is the artist and... man... the dude just plain BROUGHT IT to the page.

If you live on the island, or are from the island, you're sooo going to dig this book. There are scenes of Old San Juan, El Morro, El Yunque, the Camuy caves and other things you'll instantly recognize. Alejandro Arbona is the editor and he was a HUGE help. This book is so Puerto Rican... it should smell like rice and beans when you open it up.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

GOREiffic

Frank Gore and my beloved San Francisco 49ers are 2-0 this year. They've been tough games so far, but a win's a win.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Diggin' the Atkins, Lovin' the Cap

My latest musical fave, Nicole Atkins. Great voice, great music.

"The Party's Over" is such a great song. Had it on my iPod for the past few days and I'm loving it.

–––––––––------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I did some artwork for a friend of mine who once owned a comic shop. As part of the payment, he agreed to let me go through his collection... one box at a time.

First box is his collection of Captain America. From Jack Kirby, to Gene Colan, to my favorite Jazzy John Romita, to Sal Buscema. It's a huge box and they're all in great condition.

There's something about the smell of an old comic that makes it a time machine to me. I can remember where I was when each book came out and, well, it's been a great day of reading. When comics were fun.

I miss those days.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Mom and Dad

I found an old photograph today, featuring my mother and father enjoying a night out on the town. The photo is black and white, with creases along the edges and the corners are bent a bit.

They look happy.

A sting begins to burn under my lower eyelids. I can only look at the photo for a few seconds at a time at first. Almost as if I'm stepping into a pool of memories, slowly at first.

Then I'm hit by hundreds of memories at once. What made them laugh... the big blackberry bush in the backyard... the smell of mom's meatloaf in the oven... her familiar "nneeEEllo" when she'd answer the phone... the town fair, at the art exhibition where my father would look at the art haning on the wall and he'd look at me and say "you could do better than that."

My breathing quickens... as I try to surpress something that can't be surpressed. It's not just a name you lose when someone like that passes... they're all the senses.

God they were golden. Both of them.

I've been dealing with loss for the past few weeks. I've also been working on two scenes in the new issue where I see someone die in front of me.

All of this takes me back instantly to the memories of mom and dad passing. Cold memories.

Most all of my friends have at least one parent, if not both today. They're getting older, sure... but they're there.

I miss them both terribly. I've never gotten over it. 25 years have gone by and here my eyes are burning just as bad as day one.

When people talk to me... I hear the usual stuff. "They're in a better place" or "they're always near you." The thing is, most every person who tells me this is someone who still has their parents. A mother and father, still walking and talking.

I'm sorry folks, that's not how it is.

A better place would be here with their children. Seeing them grow... seeing their grandchildren... watching one of their sons make comics. My parents aren't in a better place at all. My parents... well, they're gone. And they've been gone forever.

I had a friend of mine lose his father a few years ago. A year after, he called me to tell me that it still hurt and asked me when that hurt would stop.

I didn't try to bullshit him. I told him that after 20 years, it still hurt. It will always hurt. It SHOULD hurt.

You never get over that pain. You learn to manage it. You recognize that emotion and you can do two things. You can surpress it (I'm not sure if I'm spelling that word right) or you can let it flow over you like a wave and let it run its course.

I'm not sure why I'm going on about this. It's just that.... sometimes... it just hurts.

And those of you who read my book know what that does to me. And it actually helps to say when it does hurt. Believe it or not... I consider all you readers my friend.

Jeeze... this post should be on LIFETIME. Or a very special episode of FULL HOUSE.

Anyhoo... I'm better now that I let all that shit out. Thanks for listening.

I can look at that photo now.

Cute couple.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

AAAhhhhhh Rincon...

Spending a few days working at our beach apartment in Rincon.

I'm not a huge beach person (I burn quicker than Johnny Storm can yell "FLAME ON!!), but it DOES mean that I'll enjoy eating my favorite meal on the island... CHILLO FRITO Y ARANITAS. They take a whole red snapper and deep-fry it. Then they take green plantains and shred them... then they make small balls out of the shredded plantains and deep-fry those.

It's orgasmic.

Tomorrow we're going to see our friend Tony. He used to own a huge comic shop on the island, but now he owns a surf shop. I did a t-shirt design for his store and for payment, he's letting me take whatever I want from his collection... dating back to the early sixties.

It's going to be orgasmic.

Lily rolled her eyes when we made the deal. Hey, she married a comic geek!

IT'S WONDERFUL.... IT'S MARVEL-OUS...

I've got a Marvel book coming out in December.

I can't tell you what it is... quite yet.

But I CAN tell you this. It features one of Marvel's core groups. I can also tell you all that this comic won't feature anything AMAZING.. or UNCANNY... or even MIGHTY. I can only say that, if it all comes together the way it's been coming together, it could be THE WORLD'S GREATEST COMICS MAGAZINE.

More details to come.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

FANBOY RADIO WEDNESDAY!!

I'm appearing with Jamar Nicholas! Tune in and call in at 2pm eastern.

FANBOY RADIO

Some nice words from Comic Book Noise

It's always nice to wake up and find some nice comments on the work! It's about halfway through the podcast.. THANKS DEREK!

Comic Book Noise

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

AND YES... I GOT WORK DONE TOO

So, Lily was invited to the island of Vieques, about a twenty-minute flight from San Juan and I have to say, if there's a more relaxing, more beautiful spot on this planet.... it's tough to find. They put us up in a great hotel called THE BLUE LOTUS, which has only ten rooms and a breathtaking view of the beach.

So we had a great weekend and we just relaxed. Great times.

I also got ripping drunk two of those nights. So did she.




This was my office for three days. Not bad at all.

photos from san diego!

Here are some shots from Comiccon in San Diego

I got the chance to meet Jeff Smith, the creator of BONE and one of my influences. What a great guy. I admit, I had a fanboy geek-out experience here.

Jeff's linework... man, where do I begin? It's the smoothest linework in the business. BONE was an amazing experience to read in black and white and when it was announced that the series would be reprinted in color, I think we all thought "NOOOOO!!" I think we were all afraid it would come off as one of those Turner Classics colorizations.

Wrong. Big time wrong.

Steve Hamaker's coloring on BONE has brought what was already an awesome series to new wonderful heights. Ugh. I could go on forever on how lovely those pages look in color. He's my new hero.

Anyhoo... Jeff was more than kind in person and he signed the hardcover ART OF BONE book I picked up and even drew a nice Phone Bone too! We shared a few laughs and then he had to go. I was a happy, happy cartoonist for the rest of the day.

My friend, Tom Fuller went to his first San Diego Con last year and had the time of his life. This year he brought his family with him and they got to experience it too. His wife, Kellie, who's never read a comic book in her life, wants the family to dress up in costume next year.

This is Wayne Beamer. Every now and then, you get a reader who you connect with and become wonderful friends with. Wayne is one of those readers. He's a great guy and we have wayyyyy too much in common. A fellow NFL fan, we often email each other during the season.

Stephen Notely of BOB THE ANGRY FLOWER fame. Love him. Ask him some time about his wrestling match with a homeless guy.

Keith Knight (K. CHRONICLES) and I slapped on the mighty Bob petals and tried to be angry flowers. Keith just recently won a Harvey Award and, really... it couldn't have gone to a nicer and more deserving guy. Very proud.

This is Erik Larsen. He runs Image Comics and he's a big-time comics pro.

To say I was terrified sitting next to him is an understatement. It's very difficult for me to feel relaxed around Erik. I can't seem to drop the "I'm a huge fan" part of me and be a part of the party. I'm hoping that will change in time, because I think he's amazing to hang with. When I talk to him, I feel more like I'm taking up his time and it never feels natural. This isn't an Erik thing... it's a Tom Beland thing.

I think I'm very intimidated by the creators, in general, at Image. I still see myself as this mini-comic dude who got invited to a party with these people. They have all these amazing books and these far-out ideas and, at times, I feel somewhat tiny with my little romance book. I'm still learning to be comfortable there.

To his credit, Erik will always talk about technical stuff with me. Whether it's tools to use or coloring critiques, the man genuinely cares about the people at Image.


Scott Kurtz, creator of PVP. He knows so much about the business and I know squat. He's someone else I'd love to sit back and hang with, but I'm far too intimidated to relax. I'd love to be able to pick his brain and crack him up.

His speech at the Eisners last year was very emotional. I know he doesn't like hearing about how emotional he was, but it was probably the most moving Eisner speech I can remember hearing. His podcast with Kris is perfection. His debates with Kris are when the show is at its best. Scott's willingness to broadcast those arguements, while not always being the one who is right... says alot about Scott as a person. It's also great when his wife calls in. Golden stuff.