Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Saturday, September 30, 2017

TASK FORCE ALPHA @ Portland Comic Expo 2017

Here's the final cover to TASK FORCE ALPHA: FORGED IN FIRE, a superhero graphic novel originally written and drawn in the early 90s - but never published. It is getting a special, convention exclusive premiere at the Portland Comic Expo, Sunday, October 29th, at the Portland Expo Building in Portland, Maine.

I wrote the main story, which was illustrated by the amazing Paul Pelletier. The volume includes a few back-up stories, too, with contributions from many talented creators..

I am proud to be part of this, and want to thank publisher Leni S. Gronros for the opportunity to return to this project and help make it a reality after 25 years.

Hopefully, the book will get a wider release sometime soon after the con.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Step One

I'm currently outlining two comic book miniseries/graphic novels. Hopefully, I'll start writing the script for the first of them before the end of the month. Then, with luck, Rick Burchett will eventually draw them. Fingers crossed (even though it slows down my typing).

And I haven't given up on my novel; I expect to get back to it in the Fall.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Rising from The Ashes: TASK FORCE ALPHA

Back in the early 90s, I wrote my first - and to date, only - traditional superhero comic. I was working on staff as an editor and production manager for Maine-based indy comics publisher Alpha Productions (check out the Facebook Page for more info & pix) and, after a few years of steady B&W comics production, we were planning to move up into full-color publishing with our own, extensive superhero universe. We had big plans. Multitudes of characters and an elaborate backstory to set up our "Terra Alpha" universe. Ultimately, only the first two-issue Task Force Alpha miniseries was completed...

The pencils were by Paul Pelletier, who many of you might know from his past couple of decades' DC and Marvel work on titles like Nova, Guardians Of The Galaxy, Aquaman, etc. He was clearly a major talent even then. Back-up stories were created, designed to flesh-out and add to our new "universe," showcasing the writing and drawing talents of a number of then-young talents, including Mitch Byrd and Alpha Productions jack-of-all-trades, Bob Cram, Jr.

Sadly, it was never published.

Around that time, there was a major upheaval in the way that comic books were distributed to retailers. After a failed attempt by Marvel Comics to control their own distribution, the major publishers were obliged to sign exclusive deals with the big distribution companies, forcing all the other smaller, regional distributors out of business. They disappeared virtually overnight, owing vast quantities of money to dozens of publishers... including Alpha Productions. The financial blow was devastating. Not only did Alpha Productions have to cancel the Task Force Alpha title and related projects, but it was forced to shut down operations completely.

The Alpha Productions crew scattered to the winds, and aside from a few brief intersections over the decades, I didn't see any of my Alpha Productions colleagues for around 22 years or so. In February, publisher Leni Gronros, Bob, Paul and I had dinner at a local diner, and five hours later, we'd agreed that the unpublished Task Force Alpha: Forged In Fire miniseries needed to be completed and released.

Fortunately, Paul still had all of his original artwork for the main story, and between the rest of us, we were able to dig up the back-up stories that were intended to accompany the main feature. Honestly, after almost a quarter-century, I didn't remember half of this stuff - even the stuff I wrote or created! Fortunately, after reading the story this past weekend for the first time since '94-'95, I'm pleased to say that I think it holds up.

It's a product of its time, no question. The designs, the dated pop culture references, the "edgy" dialogue with scattered nuggets of mild profanity, all speak of its origins in the Nineties. But it's solid work. I think that, creatively, it stands on equal footing with the other superhero launches of the era, from publishers like Dark Horse and Malibu, even if we didn't have "name" creators.

We're shooting to have the book available by late October. Right now, the only sticking point is paying to have it colored, and we're exploring our options on that. It was, after all, intended to be in color, and it would be nice to pull that off.

Right now we're in the process of scanning and cleaning up all of the artwork, finishing a few pages that were abandoned back in the day, and collating material. The plan is to include all of the story pages that were completed, and fill out the book with stuff like some equally-unseen pin-ups, character designs, and the like, along with an essay or two to put the project in its proper historical context.

As it comes together, I'll post updates here. If this sounds like something you'd like to buy and read, sound off in the comments!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

This Weekend: Bar Harbor Comic Con

This Saturday, I'll be downeast at the Bar Harbor Comic Con. It's a one-day show to benefit a local charity, the Park Street Playground Project. It will be held at the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel & Event Center, in Bar Harbor, Maine.

I'm looking forward to it because it's turned into a reunion of sorts for the core creators of Alpha Productions, a small, independent comic book publisher that I worked for between 1990 and 1995. Publisher/owner Leni Gronros will be there with his replica KITT automobile from Knight Rider. Art Director Paul Pelletier, who has since gone on to a prolific career drawing comics for both Marvel & DC, will be there. Editor Bob Cram will be there with his novel The Monster War. and our Marketing guy, Rick Lowell, will be there as a dealer, Casablanca Comics. 

Other guests include Gigi Edgley, the Australian actress who portrayed Chiana on the terrific space opera TV series, Farscape, and science fiction author Barry B. Longyear, whose short story, Enemy Mine, was adapted into a fun movie back in the 80s. There will also be  many other authors, comics creators, cosplayers and musicians.

It's a first-time show and a bit off the beaten track, so I don't know how it's going to go; I'm just looking forward to a fun afternoon with some old friends and new. If you happen to be in the area, come on over. It's for a good cause.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

John Wick Reloaded

I'm not a Keanu fan. But I loved John Wick and the surreal, ultraviolent comic book-like world the filmmakers created. I can't wait to see the sequel. By the way, this is a hell of a cool poster, ain't it?