From the mind of Tom Beland

Creator of True Story Swear to God

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

TOMBELAND.COM is open for business!!!

After what seems like FOREVER... my website, 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!!!


Monday, September 24, 2007


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


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


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!


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


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


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


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.


Hi everyone!

This is my first-ever blog and I'm hoping to hell that I know what I'm doing. I'm the writer/artist/creator of the Image autobiographical series, TRUE STORY, SWEAR TO GOD. I also write every now and then for Marvel and Bongo, which has been such a great experience.

I never went to college. I'm someone who barely graduated high school. During those school years, my parents were dying from cancer, so the urge to do well in school sort of disappeared. The fact that I even HAVE a diploma is a miracle. I had teachers who were extremely sympathetic to my issues and a few of them passed me without me taking a final. This was back when teachers were allowed to care more about the students than the budget.

I took a long road to make comics. While I was trying to figure out what to do with my art, I was told that it was a pipe dream. Needless to say, while I was watching all my friends go to college and begin careers, I was feeling lost, with a feeling that what I wanted to do would never materialize.

I bounced around from job to job while drawing on my own time. I worked at a bank, a coffee house, hotels, McDonald's (a great job, actually... great boss), a singing telegram place (worst. job. ever.) and then finally at a newspaper building ads.

At that job, the city editor discovered he had no photos for a front-page story on shark hunting story because someone opened the door to the darkroom and blew-out the negatives. I suggested an illustration, but they said there was no time. I told him I could knock it out in twenty minutes and he looked at me and said "Really? Okay, go for it."

Fifteen minutes later, the art was ready for the page and it went to press. The editor then walked into the publisher's office and told him that he wanted me to move from mindless ad-building, to the editorial department where I'd be a page designer and illustrator. That's where the switch was flipped and my dream took off.

I did page designs, full-page illustrations and even political cartoons during my stint at the paper. I blossomed as an cartoonist and loved everything about that job. At the time I owned the rights to all my work, because they were created at home, but after my editor left for another paper, everything began to turn ugly. The main editor began to tell me how to write my political toons and when I resisted that, he would tell me that the paper owned everything I did.

I left that place for the newspaper in the next town.

From there I got a free trip to Disneyworld to cover the opening of the Animal Kingdom park. While I was there, I met a Puerto Rican woman named Lily Garcia at a bus stop and we exchanged emails. After a year of travelling back and forth between Napa Valley and Puerto Rico, I moved to PR to live with Lily.

She gave me the courage to self-publish my own comic book series. None of this could've happened without her love and support.