Super Animal Friends

Guin and I love animals. All our convention commissions tend center on our furry friends wearing cute knitwear. But why not capes? Four images showing work on our next book project…

Check out our store to adopt a Super Animal Friend–

Bats Supes Zatanna Cats


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year


San Diego Comic-Con, International.

Five words that scare every professional that I know.

For artists, it means it’s time to get busy working. New stories, new art, new displays… It’s a madcap race to be productive so that we have something new to share every summer.

For Guin and I, it also means experimentation. From long format prints, to wooden toys, Guin and I have been busy!

If you found our site because of the convention, welcome to the show (and tell)!

Jim Alley’s WWI Planes

Our graphic novel Beautiful Scars drew it’s inspiration from many sources.

For me, Jim Alley was a wonderful inspiration. He was my professor and mentor during my undergraduate degree in Illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

We hit it off instantly. He taught me how to use a Macintosh Computer. We were both history nuts with a soft spot for aviation, fantasy/sci fi and jazz music. Ridley Shaw in spirit, was based on the gentleness, humour and warmth of my dear friend Jim.

Jim passed away not to long ago, having lost his battle to cancer.

As we hit the 100 year anniversary of World War I, I scoured the internet for his images of World War I planes. He started his love of early aviation with books he read about the Flying Circus and Eddie Rickenbacker. He then became an accomplished model plane maker. Finally, he wrote articles and essays as an expert on these machines.

To commemorate the Great War, and great man, here are two of his plane illustrations. Created in vector, using Macromedia (Aldus) Freehand.

Two planes of prominence in Beautiful Scars:



To see more of his illustrations, please go to:

Spring Time is Convention Time!

Welcome to Spring, 2015.

The time of the year when the snow gives way to flowers and other missing treasures in the front yard. The time of the year when the weather turns mercurial… warm one hour, freezing the next. Also, the time when comics artists gear up for convention season.

Guin and I are gearing up for Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, WA, March 27th – 29th. You can find us in Artist Alley, B-07. Here’s some of the new stuff you’ll see at the con:

2015 Monsters & Dames illustration: Queen Lily sends the Giants into Battle!

We are creating a series of buttons for our book (a new one for each convention we attend this year). The first button is Princess Lily! We are giving them away free with any purchase (or if you ask nicely!)

2015 Appearances:

Ridley Faces the Dragon

World War I is a complex war. A conflict whose roots are unclear to most people; the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie of Austria is the spark that plunges Great Britain, France, Russia, the United States, Germany, Austria-Hungary and almost 25 other nations into war.

But what are the causes of World War I?

Other conflicts in American history are clearly defined–the Revolutionary War was about independence from Britain, the Civil War was fought over the questions of slavery and state’s rights, World War II was fought to stop the Axis nations from invading other nations, even Vietnam was fought to stop the domino effect of Communism.

The roots of this world war range from imperialism, nationalism, mutual defense alliances and even militarism. But World War I also offered the perfect environment to escalate an arms race between nations who had technology to flex. Airships flew during this war in the shape of dirigibles, balloons and airplanes. However, these wondrous innovations gave way to air combat techniques. Keep in mind, the machine gun, tank, and chemical warfare were also developed and refined during this conflict.

In Beautiful Scars, the Great War serves as one of the backdrops to Ridley Shaw’s life. He, like many Brits, enlisted into service because it was the honourable thing to do. In a war where ideology and patriotism create volunteers, Ridley enlisted because, deep down, he feels the need to protect his family. He is a romantic who feels his sacrifices are for the good of his home.

War is not a good thing, much less great. But sometimes, it is a necessity. There is a wonderful editorial illustration created by Winsor McCay for the New York American, in February 7, 1915 urging the United States to face its fear against the concept of war, represented by a dragon. (It is worth noting, prior to entering the War in 1917, the United States remained neutral.) The illustration’s title is entitled: “We Can Be Free Only By Conquering Fear,” and for nations engulfed in this conflict, they faced the dragon they released… or were devoured by it.

Soldiers were thrown into the crucible or war regardless of station or background and fought because it was demanded of them–but if they met in peacetime, they might have become fast friends. Even though these soldiers wore different uniforms, they had similar backgrounds–they ranged from farmers and mechanics to aristocrats and artists. For 30 million soldiers (nine million killed, 21 million casualties), they stared down the dragon and fought in the trenches and in the air with bullets or poetry. There are many war poets to describe the experience of World War I: Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, and John McCrae among others. “In Flanders Field” helps to clarify the plight of the soldier:

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

– Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

2014 marks the 100th year anniversary of World War I. Guin and I decided to commemorate this milestone with a new cover for Beautiful Scars. In it, Ridley Shaw fearlessly faces Nightshade the Dragon. He is alone in his reconnaissance plane, the Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8; the rear gunner is absent, evoking the missing man formation. However, to his wing, a Fokker Dr.I Dreidecker Triplane flies in tandem. War unleashes the dragon that every nation involved must face.

This Commemorative Edition Cover is available at this upcoming 2014 San Diego Comic Con. We will wrap Beautiful Scars with these new book covers. They will be free, so stop by and pick up this Comic Con exclusive! Guin and I are located in Artist’s Alley, II-21.

Thank you for helping us to honour the World War I Centennial!

Beautiful Scars: Meet the Generous Jaime Anderson!

Jaime Anderson is a quiet person. However, she speaks volumes through her work which is lyrical, precise, decorative, and provocative. She teaches this way as well.

“She broke the surface with the second of the princess’ rings.”

We assigned Jaime a moment of the fairy tale that is capture only in prose… this moment is not in the main graphic novel. However, when thinking about who would be great to illustrate the river mermaiden, Jaime was the perfect fit. The mermaiden, the water, the foliage, and the ring had to be orchestrated through a single composition. Jaime’s combination of art nouveau and the decorative creates a wonderful introduction of a major character for a later story. We couldn’t be more thrilled!

For those who don’t know, Jaime brought surface and decorative illustration to Emily Carr. And though she teaches in Minnesota (MCAD), her presence is still very much felt in Vancouver. As a freelancer, you will be hard pressed to meet anyone who can combine pattern and emotion more creative ways! Visit her website, and wear your comfortable shoes as you’ll explore pyramids, heartbreak, and even story time with future hall of famers.


So normally, Guin and I try to include our reaction shots to our friends. However since the book’s release, we wanted to share reaction shots from other people reading our book. This is Mya, Sage and Guin (whose hair can be pretty epic in the morning). You’re welcome.

Covering Beautiful Scars

Our focus as of late has been sharing with you what lies between the covers of Beautiful Scars. Since our baby’s now a whole week old (goodness!), I think it’s time to take a look at what’s OUTSIDE the book. After all, it’s the face that the world sees first!

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but Durwin and I are both pretty big design/illustration snobs. We have both been known to gravitate towards a book in the store just because of a fantastic font, snappy color palette, or cool spot UV. Once we actually pick it up and look it over, sometimes that pretty face doesn’t have anything underneath it. But, it always makes us look. And when you’re competing for attention in a crowded bookstore, that’s exactly what you want.

Durwin has a lot of experience designing and illustrating some outstanding covers (just take a look at the gallery and see how awesome he can be). His Officer Down series is exceptionally beautiful. (I’m bragging on him because he absolutely would not do it himself!) So, when it came time to illustrate the main image for the cover, Durwin took the lead. We wanted a fairy-tale vibe, in the tradition of the Golden Age illustrators. We’re both hugely influenced by people like Howard Pyle, Jessie Wilcox Smith, Kay Nielsen, and NC Wyeth. We took our inspiration from a fantastic Harper’s Bazaar cover – it perfectly encapsulated what we wanted to reference.

Cover 1 Inspiration

The cover is from 1916, just about the right era for our man Ridley, so it was great material to be inspired by. This piece is incredibly lyrical, with a great sense of scale and playfulness. Just what was needed. And this is what came out!

Scars Mock Up Cover

Of course, we wanted to be inspired, not flat-out copy what was happening, but definitely you can see bits of the original make its way into this version. The cover needed to express a beginning, a sense of advenure about to begin, so cherry blossom branches in the spring are a perfect symbol for that. Ridley and Maddie stand gazing onto both the real world, and Maddie’s imagined world beyond it. It’s hard to tell where one stops and one begins – and that’s just perfect, as one story line flows right into the other as you read through the book.

This version is what many people saw for many years while we were finishing up the book and it was still an ethereal dream. We were lucky to work with phenomenal designers to give us an even better design, which frames the cover and still has that great fairytale feeling that we were hoping to achieve. So, this is what you see when you walk into your local comic book store:


Oh, but one cover was not good enough for us. NOT BY A LONG SHOT. Durwin and I have pretty different styles when it comes to illustration. These two styles merge together to create something pretty great, which you can see in the interior pages. But, we’re both proud of the work we do on our own, as well. So, since the front cover is primarily Durwin, we decided that I should do an image for the back cover in my style, as well. And that’s right here!


I think it makes a great ending to the book, with the fantasy characters flying off to even more adventures. (Although, the image is flipped on the printed cover! It works better, as they’re flying to the right instead.) It’s a good companion piece to the front, which features our real-world characters. Together, they encapsulate what makes our individual styles great, while the interiors show off what teamwork can do. Go team!

Launch Day and the Marvellous Mark Smylie!

It’s out. After long last, Beautiful Scars is no longer ours. It’s yours

It’s been quite the battle to get it out, but to our relief the book has at least made it to Indianapolis, Indiana and Vancouver, British Columbia. It is our hope that the book made it to all the cities in between! So over the next few days, weeks, and months, you can tell us if it made it into a comic book store, book store, or on-line purveyor of graphic novels near you.

Spotted in the wild: the Comic Carnival in Indianapolis, IN, USA

And the Comic Shop in Vancouver, BC, CAN

And we truly can’t wait to hear from you.

So it’s fitting to highlight the man most responsible for this book seeing the light of day. Mark Smylie is an amazing illustrator, writer of just-released “The Barrow,” the creator of complex “Artesia,” a skillful gamer/game designer, the CCO of Boom! Comics, and the founder of Archaia Entertainment.

“Captain Gabriel was the casualty of a lone encounter with Nightshade.”

As you can imagine, Mark is one of the most busy individuals that we know. The fact he took the time out of his schedule to create this illustration speaks volumes. He’ll move mountains for friends. But speaking to the illustration, he chose to illustrate a moment that didn’t involve the main figures in our fairy tale. As a creator, he chose a unique way to illustrate the scene—by celebrating an unknown character.

Guin and I are relative unknowns in comics. Sure, we have worked in the industry, but this is our first graphic novel—and as a collaborative venture, no less. He stood by us and he made sure that our story was never forgotten. According to our editor, the title of our book was on the planning board for quite a long time. And even as Archaia evolved into the powerhouse company it is today, we were always a part of the big picture.

Thanks is not a big enough word… we hope we were worth the effort!

Pay Mark a visit at:

Also, as people have a chance to review Beautiful Scars, we’ll try to share the occasional post:

Tom Murphy, Broken Frontiers:

Melanie Hernandez, Sonoma State Star

And a fun post from Rich Johnston, Bleeding Cool:

Our Emerald City Adventures!

We’ve been going to comic conventions for years (decades even) to set up shop, sell some art and meet and greet. However, there isn’t anything quite like going to a convention when you have a book out.

Emerald City is one of our favourite conventions to go to! It already boasts huge numbers, proximity, and a host city that is a lot of fun to hang out in. Also, it’s a comic-centric convention which means not having to battle video game, movie and toy vendors (and the booth babe armies they employ).

Comics and stories is the name of the day and that’s how we like our conventions!

But what made this convention special was the launch of Beautiful Scars to the world!

The book might be so small, but the box is so heavy!

Boom! and Archaia had a huge presence in the convention, setting shop in skyway, connecting the artists in two rooms. It also meant that we got to hang out with our peeps (and they shipped our heavy books for us!). So good to hang out with Mel, Tay, and Irene!

Our Archaia peeps and family!

Conventions are about connecting with people. We were proud to have our students set up shop and show their wares (Mariya Olyshevska, Amy Clare, Cole Pauls), but a big thanks to Louisa Tsui for holding down the fort while we did the errands that needed to be done.

Too cool for school…

We had a wonderful time hanging out with our art friends! Special shout out to David and Julia Petersen, Mike Yamada, Victoria Ying, Becky Dreistadt, Frank Gibson, Stuart and Steve Ng (let’s grab dinner again soon!), Ryan Hill, Jen Vaughn, Matt Bogart, Scott and Georgia Ball, Royden Lepp and Britney Lee… talking shop, comics, and the value of foam core is always a great time! We also got to meet new artists at the show: Braden Lamb, Shelli Paroline, Brandon Graham, and Cil Cheung. We have the coolest art neighbours!

Day 1

Beyond signing our books, the commission work, and the many Jimmy John’s sub runs, we wanted to thank all of the people we’ve met over the weekend who generally wanted to read our book. One story that stood out came from meeting Ketty, a young gentleman who read our book and felt a special connection to the book on the spot. The book reminded him of his grandfather and we all shared a moment we’ll never forget. Needless to say, I’ve never drawn with that much water in my eyes… Hopefully the drawing has dried out.

Day 2

So thank you all for coming to visit us in our little corner of Artist’s Alley. It was a convention we will never forget. And Ella, we’ll draw you another Superdog next year!

Day 3. See you next year!

Up next… San Diego Comic Con! We can’t wait.


Beautiful Scars Preview Party

Saturday, March 22 is a night that Guin and I won’t soon forget. It was the date that we shared Beautiful Scars with the world (albeit, localised to Vancouver). From 8:30-10:30 at Kafka’s, we sold books and prints, had a slideshow going, and even live painted for an auction. Friends who helped illustrate the Fairy tale section of the book were on hand to sign their prints and make us look cool (thanks to Ola Volo, Robin Carpenter, Nomi Chi and especially our field generals Amanda Visell and Michelle Valigura!).

Kafka’s Coffee  and Tea was packed, noisy, chaotic and absolutely a blast. And before the end of the evening, all the books were sold out.

But this wasn’t what we will take away from the event. What made the evening special is that we got to spend time with our friends and illustration family. From current students to former students, from fellow faculty and deans from Emily Carr to our peers in life–cramming everyone who welcomed us into Vancouver and kept us going on this project was a gift for Guin and I.

We thank everyone who was on this journey with us, and especially for those who had to root from afar because they couldn’t make the festivities. We heard our cheering section all the way to Canada!

If we had this much fun at the preview, imagine how we’ll feel when this book finally launches (and stand by for our Emerald City adventures to boot!). We thank you in advance for your support and cheer!