From the mind of Tom Beland

Creator of True Story Swear to God

Friday, March 28, 2008


TRUE STORY, SWEAR TO GOD #11 is now finished and I'm currently scanning the pages to send to Image. Thanks everyone for being patient.

The new TSSTG OMNIBUS is 99.99% finished. Should be out soon.

AVENGERS CLASSIC #11 features a story by me with outstanding art by KANO!! This was a whirlwind of an issue and I really enjoyed how it all came out. Hope you enjoy it too! Ships in April.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


There's something wrong with the email server. If I haven't responded to you email... this is why. :(

Friday, March 21, 2008


A print we found in Paris.

We just left Sacred Heart and were walking the narrow streets of Paris at night (yep, you're right... it was awesome) when we passed this tiny little gallery. We found this piece and it was perfect for our living room. My favorite character is Spidey and Lily's favorite character is Wonder Woman.


So, my brother-in-law, Tino, told me that he had two passes to the Puerto Rico Open golf event and wanted to know if I wanted to go. We headed Donald Trump's new golf complex and we followed Tom Lehman and Dan Curtis around for nine holes and it was a great time.

Until we got to the clubhouse.

"Man.. you're really red." Tino tells me, pointing at my neck and legs.

I was scorched and never realized it. My legs, arms and neck had become something akin to tandoori chicken. Trust me, you don't want to see the photos.

By the time I got home, I couldn't move my legs or turn my neck. Lily applied some aloe vera on my skin, but, as of today, I'm pretty much confined to sitting on couch with my legs up.

If I stand, the blood rushes to my feet and that comes with a throbbing pain. It makes it impossible to stand. It sucks.

So, it's NCAA tournament viewing and Lily just slipped in a copy of Disney's ENCHANTED.

Man, I really do miss hand-drawn animation.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Nobody comments on my posts.

I wonder if the comments are working, but if I find out they are, then.... sigggghhh.... it proves nobody posts comments on my blog. Depressing. lol.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sketches and photos!

A few more pics from the past. I can't believe I was ever that small. These were very good times and this is how I remember my dad when I visualize him.

Cover concept that never came to being. I'm not sure which issue this was for, but from the date of this sketchbook I'd say it was for my first visit to the island in issue #4. I like the flag interacting with the characters, but I decided to go with something that showed one of the many statues here. Still like this image though.

When I'm faced with two characters having a conversation, I like to have them doing something, to give them a sense of movement. This scene with the snow-dome is one of my favorites. We were in one of the souvenir shops at Disneyworld and I remember her playing with them. It lets the eye enjoy some movement, instead of just two heads speaking back and forth.

And I do a LOT of pages filled with talking heads. I can't rely on having Galactus appearing to give my book action... so those little movements during dialogue are essential for my stories.

On the right page, top panel, right side... those are my parents walking past us. It's one of my favorite sketches of my folks. They would've loved a day at Disney, in my opinion.

Leaving the concert and heading back to our rooms. It really was an amazing night and I remember feeling sad that it had come to an end. We were both counting down the minutes in our heads.

Since I never thought I'd ever have a series from this sketchbook, the heads have sort of a lava-lamp feeling to them. I never worried about working out the proportions and making them look more together, structure-wise. I mean, who knows what the future of a sketch holds. Those little doodles you have in your sketchbook..? Revisit them. Give birth to new ideas, even if you have little faith that there will be an interest in it.

I still can't believe that all this sketching on the plane ride home would lead me to where I am now.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

More pics and sketches!

Hello and hola to everyone! More pics and sketches from yesterday!!
The top photo has always been a weird photo to look at. It's me and my lil' brother, Joe in 1967. It's a cute photo and all, but why in the hell am I wearing a DODGER'S shirt?? I've been a Giants fan my entire life and somehow I got photographed wearing the logo of my most hated enemy!!

The middle photo is my dad, along with my brother Jim (to the left), sister Sue (middle) and Joe (front). I look like the tiny host of Match Game '68. I mean, look at that JACKET!! One of my favorite photos.

Below are my mom and dad in a photo booth. As it says there, my father loved photo booths. He loved a lot of goofy things and I really feel I absorbed his taste in bizarre humor.

Here are a bunch of sketches, some of the first ones of TSSTG. I was reliving the night right there on that page. So many fun moments and personal joy. This stuff just drew itself. Lily has an absolutely zero waist... much to Lily's delight.

Notice the typo in Lily's name there above her head. That very typo stuck in my head the entire time I did the first issue, which she pointed out as she read the pages upon her visit to Napa later. She wouldn't let me change the mistake. When issue three came out, I thought it was fun for the reader to see us talking about that mistake and I could imagine readers taking the first issue out to see if we were kidding. That mistake is kind of endearing and shows how we men pay very little attention to details.

Me in my hotel room. I didn't sleep much that night. It's really amazing how a person can have such an impact on you and that's what Lily did. I had some problems early on in this series with the profiles of the characters. The noses are wayyy off. But there's really an indie look to that art that I love to revisit now and then.

The page on the right never made it to the book. I had problems with all those caption bubbles. There are many times when you dummy a book up, where you're off a page or two. It's really the toughest part of the gig. You have to look over your designs or pages and decide which ones get thrown overboard for the sake of the story. You have to be absolutely critical.

You can't just say "I'll take the ugliest page out" because some of those ugly pages have some of the greatest text in the book. So, the decision is critical. I'll mull over it for days before I decide.

So, this is probably the first moment I pull in the Puerto Rican culture into my series. Lily and I go to the concert and she recognizes one of the musicians, conga master Giovanni Hidalgo. She runs up to him and hugs her. It was one of the first moments I could see what a fierce pride Puerto Ricans have for their culture.

The page on the right contains one of my favorite lines in the book. "well, THIS sucks." It never fails to happen to me at concerts where some huge person will sit directly in front of me. When it happened here, I laughed.

Below: Giovanni Hidalgo.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Mom and Dad... and more sketches!

Well, there they are when the were much younger. Dad was still in the navy and mom was just... wow, she was pretty gorgeous. These were the two greatest people in my life. I draw cartoons because of my father, and I cook because of my mother.

I'm so happy I can look at these photos without falling apart. There was that period of my life where I couldn't look at photos of my parents without breaking down. It still happens now and then, but for the most part, I so love seeing these again.

This was a sketch I did shortly after some salsa lessons Lily and I took. I remember she went shopping in Old San Juan and I was sitting in a coffee shop with my sketchbook, trying to capture it for later use. Coffee shops are like daycare for us. lol. I can sit in a coffee shop for hours on end, so long as I have my sketchbook.

I had fun with this. I love drawing dancers, chefs, musicians and performers in general. Anyone who can't stop doing what they're doing long enough to be self-conscious about being drawn... that's my favorite model. I love to draw movement.

See that panel on the far lower right? That became one of my favorite poses for Lily. Shoulder up, eyes, closed, smiling. That really captures her personality. I use that pose in nearly every issue.

There are moments during a series, when you really nail what's in your head. That panel of us dancing is one of those panels. I smile every time I look at it. I was so worried that I wouldn't be able to transfer that look to the final page, since I tend to tighten-up a bit when I go to the bigger boards. But it came out nice in the book.

I remember seeing an X-Men splash page by Paul Smith, featuring Scott Summers slow dancing in a cabin with Madelyne Pryor and I fell in love with that page. I'd love to someday own it. It was a big influence on who I did this page. So nice.

Which makes up for my fat Stevie Wonder. Oy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

More sketches and kiddie me!

Hey everyone... check this kid out!
Yep. That dumbo-eared heartthrob is none-other than yours truly... me. This was my first-grade class pic and mannnn... are those huge fucking ears or WHAAT?

And I still wear my shirt buttoned to the chin. You wouldn't believe how hot the girls would get from that look. Let me tell you, a nice blue shirt buttoned to the chin... a big-wave, full can of Brek hairspray hairdo... and the hottest smile in town often led to girls' panties exploding as I walked by. I'm talking squirters.

Anyhoo... just thought I'd give the internet even MORE ammo to kill me with, lol.

From TSSTG #1.

We just returned to the hotel and we kiss goodnight. Notice the balloons around the kissing panel all have Mickey ears. The were removed when I drew the page... fearing a phone call from the Disney lawyers. I'm bummed that I took them off when I look back at this.

I had to do lengthly conversations of me and Lily. Long conversations of us sitting in a room.

I needed to make this interesting enough where people would slow down and read the dialogue, otherwise, it's gone to shits. So, one thing I do when I speak is I look here and there. I never just stare at a person during a conversation. Lily can do it... it baffles me.

So, usually what I'll do is, I'll have my characters do the same thing. You can keep the same type of tight shot and, by just having the eyes glance elsewhere, it allows enough movement to keep the reader (especially any reader like me) from flipping the page.

It's also weird to see how much my style has evolved over the years. I always tell new cartoonists to keep their old work and put it in a box and put it away until a year later. Then compare how you are presently to how you were last year. Then you do it again, year after year. You can actually see the progression. I do this every year. It helps me immensely.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I can't believe it's now been ten years since I began TRUE STORY, SWEAR TO GOD. I met Keith Knight and I created a weekly comic strip that was based on my life. Years later, I'd be on a writing assignment/fucking around time at Disneyworld, to celebrate the opening to their Animal Kingdom park... when I met her. From that moment on, the strips became stories about me and this Puerto Rican woman. The strip became a comic book, which was storyboarded the night I was flying back from the night I met Lily. So this week, I'm going to share some of the pages from that sketcbook. Enjoy.

When I decided to make an actual comic book out of the TSSTG strips, I was worried that too many people would see the title and assume it was a religious series. I was a big fan of Paulo Cohelo's THE ALCHEMIST and in that book, he tells you that everyone has their own journey... their own personal legend to experience. So, from that I considered naming my series, PERSONAL LEGENDS.

But I just liked TSSTG better and decided to go ahead and trust my judgement. I'm glad I trusted myself. A comic is such a personal thing. You think that every tiny decision is going to be catastrophic if wrong. Naming the series was the first major decision I made. It may not seem like much, but it is.

Opening title pages... and one of the many times Terry Moore beat me to the punch. I had some music on in my headphones and the song "Stranger in Paradise" came on and I thought "THAT is my title!!"

Then someone pointed out Terry's book to me. I was BUMMMMMMMED. He later beat me out of SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE. I have a great Terry Moore story planned for TSSTG in the near future where he was trapped in a car with me from Santa Cruz to San Francisco. I sort of fan gushed gawed at him.

As I was flying home from that night in Orlando, I took my sketch pad out and drew this page. The entire first issue of TRUE STORY, SWEAR TO GOD was sketched out during that plane ride. That's how inspired I was. Every page was designed high about the ground. Fitting, since that's how she made me feel.

Note that at the bottom of that page, there's the misspelling of Lily's name that worked its way through the entire first issue. In the second issue, Lily points out the fact that I spelled her name wrong. She would not let me fix the typo and it's kind of fun to go back to the first issue and notice this error.

More to come.

Monday, March 10, 2008


So I'm downloading a SHITLOAD of sketch pages and photos to Jonathan over at Image Comics... for that mega-huge collection of my entire self-published run of TSSTG.... when I come across something fun!

I found the sketch pages I used when I wrote the FANTASTIC FOUR: ISLA DE LA MUERTA! I was trying to find these pages ages ago, to send to Juan, to show him how close he came to my own vision of the story. I think he was dead-on. So, for anyone who wants to know my writing process is: here are some pages and some notes.

My take on the FF. Very animated style, way too cartoony for Marvel, but they've let me draw these guys in TSSTG and that was enough coolness for me.

The way I write is, I'll lay out the the pages in sketch form and put the dialogue in some spots and then, I'll go onto my laptop and use the sketch as a springboard. It allows me to just set set the scene and describe everything on the page.

I'll also begin in the middle of the story, then work sideways from there. Weird, I guess. Works for me.

I always figured, if I could create force fields, like Sue Storm, the first thing I'd use them for would be shutting up my younger brother, Joe. I've had that thought for DECADES... and it was AWESOME to live out that fantasy!

The search is on for the El Chupacabra as the FF head into the El Yunque rain forest. I don't think people utilize Reed's ability to alter he face by stretching his skin. John Bynre did it and I loved that about Reed. I love how board Johnny is in the Fantasticar. I also cannot draw mechanical anythings.

I wanted to make these people have the same problems we all do. The way Sue is ignoring Reed was taken directly from the way Lily does that with me.

One of the first pages I sketched. The minute they asked me to write an FF book, this was the first scene that came out. Sue has very few deep friendships in her life. Ben is perhaps the strongest friendship she has, maybe more so than Reed.

Because he's normal. He's just a guy from New York. And he had every reason to become a Doctor Doom or a Hulk or a Namor... but he stayed the same normal guy he'd always been. I love this scene. Juan killed that scene.

They find El Chupacabra, as Johnny comes crashing to the ground. I have to admit, these characters are fun to draw. I like Ben. I felt like this story read like both Johnny Quest and the Incredibles.

Lots of fun stuff on this page. First, we were originally going to have Sue rolling her eyes as Reed "saves" quite possibly the strongest member of the FF. How many times has she had to deal with Reed's overprotectiveness??

Middle panel. Johnny not being able to pronounce "CHUPACABRA" added so much fun to the story. And I've always dug how the FF would bitch at each other in the heat of battle. Very family like.

BOOM. Ben gets handed by the beast.

Ben nails the Chupacabra square as Johnny burns the rain forest down, against Reed's wishes.

Ben saves the day as he rushes the Chupacabra. I wanted to give them a cool factor without explaining it. Chupacabra can squeeze through Sue's force fields. Never had to tell anyone how it happens... it was just THUMP. There you go!

Anyway, hope you enjoy the pages. I'll be posting more sketch pages on here on a regular basis. I'll be posting the sketch pages of the very first issue of TSSTG. A few at a time. It was a blast to revisit those sketchbook.

I've always been self-conscience about explaining how I write. Because I've always thought of writers as brainy, college educated people with a vast and diverse vocabulary at hand. I barely graduated high school and so I've never thought that much of my abilities as a professional writer. I still do, but I'm getting more comfortable.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Well, it was a hell of a week. One of the best trips ever! Here's some photos of what we did, besides pose for pictures:

Photobucket This is me and Jacob Goddard, one of my readers and banished Bendis boarder. We hooked up with Jacob during our 8-hour stop in Philadelphia and Jacob was our tour guide of the city. He even got me my very own Philly cheesesteak! Unfortunately, I could only manage one bite of it, since we'd just had lunch and it was a tasty bite.

Photobucket This was the view of Paris from our room at the Marriott Hotel! Pretty snazzy, eh..? You should have seen it in the evening, the whole city is lit up. The only downside to this hotel..? For a wireless connection, they charged us 124 EUROS per week... and... get this... PER LAPTOP. It was a ridiculous price and we had to share a laptop, which, if you know me, can be a stressful experience.

Photobucket Everyone in Paris is a sex fiend. I've witnessed it, folks. They make out everywhere... in the park, at the museum and, most popular... the Metro train. Perverts... all of 'em. God bless 'em all.

Photobucket Lily's drug of choice was the tasty crepes. And this was one of her many pushers, eager to feed her habit. This dude was cranking crepes out like a freakin' piston.

Photobucket Photobucket Here we are on a nighttime cruise on the Seine River. What an incredible night.

Photobucket We called this shot "The Loneliest Goalie." Everyone was kicking the ball and laughing while this poor kid sat on his ass, waiting for the ball to come to his end. Sad, yet funny.

Photobucket Across the street from the Moulin Rouge amongst the sea of strip joints and porno shops. Took me back to Broadway in San Francisco during the 80's. We also took in the Erotic Museum and saw porn through the ages. Mankind has been sexually warped forEVAH, folks. What a relief to discover!