Sunday, September 29, 2013

Into the Void - Page 5

So, here's the final preview page from issue #1 of "Into the Void". What do you think so far, people?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Into the Void - Page 2

I hope you liked page 1. If you did, here's page 2.

If you didn't, you're probably not reading this post...

Monday, September 23, 2013

Page 1 - Complete

Now that you've had a chance to simmer in the goodness of the sketches and rough inks of page one, here's the final page. Enjoy!

- Joe

"Into the Void" Page 1 - Rough

And the adventure is officially underway. Full script for the first issue is done and now the pages are starting to come fast and furious. 

Here are the rough pencil/inks for the first page. Over the next couple of weeks, we'll be showcasing the first five pages of the comic as a "sneak preview" of the full book. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Next up: I'll post the finished page so that you can get a good look at the look of "Into the Void".

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Ship Design - The Infinite Salamander

I thought this might be interesting. Here's a look behind the curtain at the nuts-and-bolts of Jim's process designing the ship for "Into the Void". 

Q: So, Jim. In your original webcomic, the design of the ship was a bit different. Take us back to the original design. What was your inspiration for the ship?

A: I always thought of the ship as a bulk/hull ship or a freighter...I think it is still a huge lunky ship, but I modified it to be a cross between a Drag Racer a Tank and a Mac Truck..though I still hear the song 'Convoy' when I was creating it.

Q: The name has changed, too. Originally, the ship was the "Angry Beaver", but you wanted a name more like the "Millennium Falcon". How do you like the vessel's name now?

A: I think I originally saw the crew as hard working, blue collar garbage men in space, now they're a bit more refined and more explorers and the ship reflects that

Q: After we finished the first script, you made some pretty major modifications to the ship's design. Can you describe the big changes you made and why?

A: I still wanted the freighter aspect, but from a design perspective, since it is the Infinite Salmander I wanted a look that would be more recognizable, you look at it and go, "Oh cool...that's The Infinite Salamander."

Q: Down to brass tacks here... You explained to me the tools you used to build out the ship for the comic. Being a writer with no talent for the visual arts, it was like you were talking a foreign language. For illustrators, can you describe the tools you used?

A: I used 3 graphic programs Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop and Google Sketchup. I built the ship in the 3D program Sketchup, then from there took it into illustrator and "auto traced" the different views, from there, I brought it into Photoshop for some image prep and shading work

Q: What advantages did you find using that method provided?

A: All the ships for this series will be built in Google Sketchup which is a lightweight 3D program, which is great for getting the different angles with essentially a virtual camera.
Q: What's the downright coolest thing about the Infinite Salamander? 

A: It's either the fact that it's a giant drag racer or the fact that it's haunted!

So there you have it. The Infinite Salamander is locked, loaded, and ready to voyage... into the VOID!

- Joe

Monday, September 16, 2013

Work in Progress - Sneak Peek

We're finally ready to show off the first few pages of the sure-to-be-a-hit comic book, "Into the Void".

First, though, I thought it might be interesting to give you all a peek behind the scenes at the creation of "Into the Void". There's been a lot more coffee (Venti Decaf Americano, thank you) involved than I would've thought possible. 

In the beginning were Jim's webcomics and character sketches

Then, we fleshed out the characters and universe. You can get a taste of that if you page back thorough the bios on this blog. We wanted to be sure that there was enough history and world-building to sustain a regular series. The fun has really come in the execution. 

I scripted out the entire first issue and passed the whole thing to Jim. It was an extremely complicated scripting software program that I found. Any aspiring writers might want to check it out. The learning curve is steep, but it's worth it. It's called Microsoft Word.

Jim can fill you in on the details of the software he uses (post any questions to the comments section). But, he lays out the script side-by-side with the page and sketches out the action.

So that's how the magic happens.

Later this week, I'll post the completed page, along with several other completed pages from the first issue of "Into the Void".

- Joe

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Character Bio - MDK 3030

Here's another character designed by Jim that just jumped off the page when I started writing up the backgrounds and stories for "Into the Void". The visual style just suggested such a rich history and ripe storytelling options.

MDK was created to dominate any battlefield through superior firepower. Only one of the MDK 3030 series ever rolled off the production lines at SuperBattleTech, Inc. That wasn't the intention, but immediately after his microporcessors powered on, MDK 3030 utterly obliterated the manufacturing facility along with every security battle bot in a 7.5 mile radius. 

Fueled by both a nuclear reactor and a white hot robotic desire to smash, MDK menaced the outer planets of the Reiser system for three months until an full compliment of 10,000 army bots could be gathered for an all-out assault on the rogue bot. Nearly the entire planet was scorched in the battle, but MDK's rampage was finally stopped on Domidro. 

And, of course, that's exactly where Speedy and Toad found their "super-cool" space droid. Domidro had been "off-limits" for centuries after the battle. It was so long, in fact, that no one knew why the planet was quarantined. Which is why Speedy just had to take his ship down to the planet to investigate.

When they found MDK, his central processing system was burned out, which was surprisingly easy to fix. Speedy simply repurposed the processors from his favorite robotic toy bunny, including the ears, and - voila - almost as good as new.

MDK doesn't speak, as such, but he is now a loyal security chief for the Infinite Salamander. His newly-minted dual processing system is a source of great internal conflict as the cuddle routines clash against the murder routines that still course through his digital brain. However, his menagerie of pet bunnies helps him keep it all in check.

I can't wait until you see him in action.

- Joe

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Character Bio - Wonk

His eyes say "No!", but his counter-programmed voice says, "Hey! What an Unspectacular Idea, Captain!"
This is Wonk.

Wonk makes me laugh.

Wonk was the very last character I was introduced to in the “Into the Void” universe. When Jim sent me the link to his old web series, this robot barely registered, but Jim loved him. After several meetings where I conveniently “forgot” to weave Wonk into the story arc, Jim talked to me about the character and his importance to the series.

And now that I get it, our story wouldn’t be complete without our metal pal, Wonk.

Wonk is a know-it-all and a worrywart. His internal processors are hyperlinked to the DUKK (Database Universal of Known Knowledge). Hurtling into the void with the crew of the Infinite Salamander, Wonk is the sole member of the crew able to instantly process the exact level of danger and odds of survival in each situation. It’s no wonder that the day-to-day adventures make him a bit nervous.

And, while Han Solo may bark out quips like, “Never tell me the odds”, Speedball tends to be a bit more hands-on as a tinkerer.

So, when Toad and Speedy first found, rebuilt, and activated Wonk, Speedy dubbed the ‘bot, “A bit of a wet blanket”. They shut him down and made a few adjustments. First, Wonk’s numerical functions were bypassed. Numbers are invisible to Wonk. That certainly has a lot of downsides, but it does stop him from quoting odds to the captain.

In addition, he his personality was completely overhauled. Wonk can only speak in a super-cheerful and optimistic manner.  So, even when there’s bad news, hey, it sounds like fun.
I hope when you read the first story arc, you’ll get to love this guy as much as I do.

-     - Joe

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Captain in Action

Captain Speedball, ready for action!

Here's another character sketch of your Captain. 

When I posted Captain Speedball's bio, we talked a lot about his optimism and "never-say-die" attitude. That doesn't mean Speedy's above dishing out some two-fisted justice when needed. And when the laser-bolts are flying, Speedball's the guy diving headlong into the fray. 

You'll see a lot of action and adventure in the first issue of "Into the Void" along with the with the humor. I think this piece from Jim gives you all a great peek into what to expect from the title. 

- Joe

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

More Characters - Crash and Dash

Crash and Dash are the engineers on board the Infinite Salamander. In fact, the ship would still be grounded if it weren't for the ingenuity of these two. Cobbling together two different technologies from the drives of two grounded warships, "The Soul of Darkness" and "The Empress' Universe", Crash and Dash invented the one-of-a-kind "Blink Drive" that allows the Infinite Salamander to travel farther and faster than ever speculated.

Working below decks most of the time, this pair stays out of the spotlight unless things are blowing up on board their vessel - which happens way more often than one would hope. 

They are obsessed with three things: Cool technology, video games, and a data stream they have accessed from an alternate dimension called "YouTube".

When backed into a tough spot, Crash's IntelliDrill and Dash's AmpliWrench are put to good use in order to keep the voyages of the Infinite Salamander on course.

- Joe

Friday, July 26, 2013


So, we've got a space captain and his right-hand man. Let's check in on the rest of the crew.

Why, here's Janice. If she looks familiar, it's the family resemblance. Janice is Speedy's older sister. If she looks skeptical, it's because she's been hearing Speedy's "brilliant ideas" for most of her life.

50% skeptic, 50% enthusiast, and 100% exhausted is about the mix for Speedy's big sister. When you're dealing with a "jump in and ask questions later guy", like Speedy, there needs to be someone to keep him in check.

Some might think that she's a wet blanket, but when the chips are down, Speedy knows Janice is there for him.

- Joe

Monday, July 22, 2013


Introducing the funnest space captain in the Mid-Mesobary System

Say hello to your Captain.

His friends call him "Speedy", and almost everyone he meets is a friend eventually.

From the tender age of six, when he watched his first episode of "Captain Spacetime and the Adventurers of Tomorrow", Speedy felt the call of adventure. 

He may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he's certainly got the imagination, heart, and gusto to more than make up for it. 

The wise J.K. Rowling once said, "If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals." In that sense, Speedy is a king among men. Never one to pass by anyone in trouble, Speedy is helpful to a fault.

His childlike sense of wonder can get the crew of the Infinite Salamander into quite the pickle, but his energy and spirit always get them out of that same pickle in style.

In the coming week, you'll get a full bio on Speedy and a background on how he came to captain the nicest wreck in space, The Infinite Salamander.

- Joe


When I think about Toad, I think back to my fourth year of Latin in high school. Back then, we read "The Aeneid" in the original Latin. The bottom of each page was filled with dictionary definitions for less-frequently used terms. It also included all proper nouns, since they wanted to be sure the student would be able to keep the characters straight.

The hero of "The Aeneid" is, of course, Aeneas (for whom the book is named). In that story, there is a character named Achates. At the bottom of every page where he is mentioned, the dictionary listing said, "Achates: Faithful companion to Aeneas".

Toad is the Achates of our story. I'll bet you didn't know we got all classical-lit up in this here comic.

Kirk and Spock, The Doctor (name one) and his Companion, Han Solo and Chewie, Dr. Sam Beckett and Al... the list goes on and on. For every great hero, there's a main man (or gal) he relies on for support.

When the fur starts flying, Speedball can always count on Toad for backup.

- Joe

PS - I also wanted to name this character Arcadies in a nod to the classics. If you agree, bug Jim. He totally is in love with the name Toad. :)

Main Characters

L to R: Toad, MDK 3030, Captain Speedball, and Wonk

Introducing (some of) the main cast of the upcoming comic series, "Into the Void". This all-ages action-adventure series follows the crew of the Infinite Salamander as they voyage through space and... well... into the void, as it were.

Some background on the comic

These character designs from Jim Mehsling are a couple of years old. 

Jim and I met at Krytpon Comics on "Free Comic Book" day. He was knocking out some beautiful artwork for the crowd, and we struck up a conversation.

Jim had an "Into the Void" webcomic that he had abandoned in late 2011 due to an overload of other projects. I took one look at the character designs and some of the old stories and was immediately impressed. Visually, it was easy for me to uncover the heart of each of these characters.

I offered to take over the writing duties and asked Jim if I could send him over some character bios. Luckily for me he agreed to take a look. Once he read over the bios and backgrounders, Jim jumped at the chance to work together, re-imagining and re-building the world of "Into the Void".

This blog will keep you all abreast of the latest developments as we march towards issue #1.

Questions and commentary are welcome as Jim and I march "Into the Void" with our first comic series!

- Joe