From the mind of Tom Beland

Creator of True Story Swear to God

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.