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SODABLOG: Soft Drinks, Comic Books, Barbeuce and Pop Culture [05 Apr 2011|01:06am]

Just started a new tumblr blog devoted to my many addictions: soda pop, comic books, barbecue/grilling and many forms of popular culture.

I'll still be posting here when I can, but most of my social online interaction is going to start talking pace at Sodablog and my Twitter account

See you at Sodablog!

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

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One Year: A Letter to my Mom [17 Mar 2011|12:26am]

One year ago, I found myself racing across the water on the Staten Island Ferry, avoiding St. Patrick's Day celebrations all around me as I hurried to get to Newark Airport and catch a flight home to say goodbye to my mother before she passed.

I never made it - my brother called to tell me the news while I sat, packed amid drunk kids and green hats on a city bus, desperately trying not to fall apart. That was a hard day and a tough week...and it's been a trying year without Mom, especially because she left us before meeting our second boy. I'd written a long eulogy style post at my blog, but later that week had a chance to really out my feelings--a letter to my mother-- and today, on the first anniversary of Mom's passing I wanted to post it for folks to read. The full letter runs below:

Dear, Mom —

I know we just spoke last Sunday, as I sat on the grass, catching you up on our family’s lives, but I felt like it was long past time I sent you a letter. I didn’t often send you letters—two come to mind, the first being a response to a long letter you’d sent me in camp, answering all your questions (“How is your bunk? Are you eating? Are you doing laundry?”) with quick, short answers (“Fine. Yes. My counselor is.”). I was nine at the time.

The second letter, coincidentally, is the one Jill and Esty just found in your purse, sent in my junior year of High School. The letter, a passionate appeal for you to forgive me for getting suspended, was both heart wrenching and dramatic but I gotta admit —pretty funny. At first I was amazed to find that you’ve been carrying it in your purse all this time (nearly TWENTY YEARS, if you can believe that)… but after thinking about it, I realize why. It’s for the same reason my favorite photo of you is the one where you and Dovid are banging pots on your heads with your tongues sticking out. It’s because of the one thing I miss about you, something I’ve been unable to properly express or relate during shiva to anyone who asked about you: your unique and amazing sense of humor.

Most of Detroit had only ever seen your communal side, your administrative side or your serious side. Only a select few heard you crack jokes, make cutting, witty comments that took everyone by surprise. Only very few — usually close friends and family—saw you acting one hundred percent
silly. That side came out on family trips to places like Canada’s Wonderland or picnics. And sure, sometimes when you sipped tequila (yes, you liked tequila. And not enough people know that). But you were funny, and so I’m going to remind you of a few funny things I remember.

Sometimes you were unintentionally funny. Like when you used to cook for the boy's hebrew high school, Yeshiva Gedola, or for Camp Gan Israel —I was in the kitchen both at times during both, and will just relate one story from each. Working at Yeshiva, you were amazed to come in one day to find the lunch you were going to prepare had been taken, cooked and eaten by some boys the night before. Expressing your outrage to the administration, you explained that until the food was replaced you’d be serving nothing more than bread and water. They called your bluff and sure enough, bread and water was what they got—for two days. Finally, after a nice chat with Reb Yudi, the food was replaced and lunch continued as planned. In Gan Israel, you and I prepared meals all summer and we had a great time —do you remember Wonderknife, my amazing little paring knife I claimed could cut through anything, including cans of soda and, unfortunately, my thumb? But for some reason, none of the counselors hanging out in the kitchen assumed you could speak Yiddish or Hebrew and when they started talking “behind your back”, asking each other if you were Jewish and understood the laws of Kashrut, you answered back in Yiddish and Hebrew, making them aware that you were and understood everything they’d been saying.

I saw your silly side a lot more when I was in college — especially when we’d go shopping for clothes. We spent a day at Burlington Coat Factory and while you were looking for shirts for me, I decided to try on the different hats —fedoras, top hats, baseball caps—anything to get a laugh. After a while you started asking me to try on clothes we had no intention of buying: zoot suit jackets that came to my knees with fifteen buttons down the front; ornate grey fedoras with long, flashy feathers; and at one point, I think I was dressed in full skiing uniform—hat, gloves, goggles and overalls—walking around Burlington in the middle of March, saying hello to everyone that passed. You, of course, pretended you didn’t know me.

You laughed when I danced, or tried to, mostly goofing around the house. We did the Twist together at my wedding and seeing that picture always makes me smile. You were a big believer in wedding shtick, making sure that I started thinking about it for Aaron and Esty’s weddings long before the
date. You stepped up at Laurie and mine, bringing out clown costumes with Esty, helping Dovid get us Spider-Man water bottles, making sure we had a great time and were always laughing.

You were always the first to call me on my birthday, loudly singing “Happy Birthday” over the phone. If I wasn’t there, you’d leave a message and your singing always made me smile. Sometimes I’d get a funny gift from you —cartoon ties you knew I liked or goofy little toys you found at the card shop. You always made sure to send two cards—one, serious and the other funny. I’d only send a funny one, maybe because I knew you appreciated that we had that joking relationship. I’m crying a little as I write this, because your birthday’s this week and I can’t send one. Instead, I’ll have to hand deliver it to you at the cemetery..

There are a million little moments, rushing through my head, enough to fill a book. I’ve been so concerned with being sad this last month that sometimes I forget to remember those happy moments. The letter you were carrying really woke me up because here I was, junior high school Neil, writing a partially serious/partially satirical letter to you after a huge argument we’d had on the phone—and as I recall, the letter made you smile. You’d been shouting and angry and threatening me with public school and one little letter (halfway through which, I had the guts to plead for ten bucks!) turned your anger to laughter. I’m sure part of it was because you were amazed at my chutzpah and had to laugh or you’d cry… but I’d like to think it’s also because I knew what made you laugh. And you knew what made me laugh, and I miss you for it. I miss having a laugh on the phone while we’re both at work, I miss sending you silly pictures of my son and having you laugh while listening to him eat dinner. I miss sharing private jokes. I miss hearing you and Dad laughing at a TV show from the kitchen, walking in to find you laughing so hard you’ve fallen out of the chair.I miss writing letters that make you laugh.

I think you’d like this one. Maybe even enough to carry it around for twenty years.

Miss you, Mom.


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Kleid. Haspiel. Perry White. Wildcat. TODAY. [02 Feb 2011|12:49am]
Yes, yes—it's about time.

Today, at finer comic book shops around our great nation (and soon, the world) you can get your hot little hands on a copy of DC Comics' 2011 SUPERMAN 80 PAGE GIANT featuring a short story by Dean Haspiel, Joe Infurnari and I called "Old Men Talking in Bars." The story, a great little bar confessional between Daily Planet editor Perry White and JSA mainstay Ted "Wildcat" Grant, offers booze, brawling, boxing and bravado. Also? It is a comic with my name in it that features "Superman" in the title. There are also amazing stories by other talented folks: Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover with a fun Lois Lane yarn; Steve Horton and Dan McDaid with their take on Bizarro; the hands-down best Jimmy Olsen story I've ever read by Abhay Khosla and Andy MacDonald; and offerings from Joe Caramagna, Beau Tidwell, Aubrey Sitterson and more.

So, yeah. Super.

Here's editor Wil Moss hyping it up on the DCU Source blog.

Here's my original thoughts on how the story came to be,
and how much I think I should be writing a regular Perry White series because he's the unsung hero of the Superman titles; the editorial Nick Fury of the DC Universe, if you will.

Here's the kickass cover you're after:

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My 9/11 Comics Crucible [27 Jan 2011|07:23pm]
So, hopefully the handwriting is clear on this one... This is back when I was doing mini comics around 2001, specifically my short lived "illo/rant" comix published in RANT COMICS #1, and as I was helping coordinate Alternative Comics' 9/11: EMERGENCY RELIEF book. This really consumed me for a bit as the guy in question was helping me out with a few ins inthe industry...and then Dean Haspiel called me on it, telling me how ridiculous the guys argument was...I still kind of felt like an opportunist, though, even though it wasn't my intention to break into comics via this one project. I really just wanted to help. Anyway, here you are:

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Like a Comic Book Writer Should [27 Jan 2011|07:15pm]
Yeah... This one is pretty self explanatory. 2005, midnight at the Godfather bar in Jerusalem. All you need sometime are the right tools and inspiration:

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Lost sketches from the ages [27 Jan 2011|07:07pm]

Digging through the old sketchbooks and folders this weekend i found some old pieces of art I thought some folks might enjoy. Though I'd post them here... The first is a pair of illos I did in 1999 for fun, dreaming of tackling the Avengers revamp. I give you my Avengers/Master of Evil match ups:

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Goodbye, goodbye. I'm glad to say goodbye [31 Dec 2010|09:59am]

Yeah, so that's 2010 for you - and good riddance.

Didnt want to do a big old year in review thing, mostly because - despite bright spots - this year was pretty rough and I'm glad to see it's back.

There were highlights, like finally getting traction in non comics writing, scoring a new OGN deal, and of course, Owen Cooper.

But those were balanced by limited social life, stress and money issues (like most of the world), and more importantly, the passing of my grandmother and mother. That basically defined 2010 for me, coloring my outlook, and I'm hoping the new year allows me to look forward and get awesome.

As we enter 2011, I continue a period of heads down creation, but I do have a collaboration long overdue dropping next month, I'm a large step closer to getting a major project approved and published, wrapping a script polish on what might be my only book of the year, overseeing two creator owned project ideas for down the road and - more importantly - I'm making one, big book my focus for the year, aiming to get it moving forward after a year of starts and stops.

Personally, I plan to rebuild neglected friendships and continue raising the best damn kids in the world wi the best damn wife in the world.

Gonna be an interesting year. Shall we begin?

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Happy Holidays from Neil Kleid and Team Rant Comics [21 Dec 2010|08:39pm]
Wishing you and yours a peaceful holiday and happy new year.

We've abandoned our traditional winter themed card to remind you that 70 percent of plier-related accidents occur in the home. If you must plier this holiday season, please plier responsibly and keep your tools out of the hands of small, mischievous, adorable children.

Stay safe and have a happy holiday.

Neil, Laurie, Jack and Owen

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FROM THE ARCHIVE: Transformers, SECTOR 7 Pitch [16 Dec 2010|02:25am]
So, about a year or so ago I'd been approached by IDW Publishing to pitch for a TRANSFORMERS mini-series.

A bit of history: I'd actually been talking to IDW for a FEW years, having been brought in my pal and then-editor, Dan Taylor, to try for a TRANSFORMERS Spotlight one-shot. Of all the IDW licenses (at the time), TRANSFORMERS has been the only I'd drop anything to write (nowadays, we can add GIJOE to the list). I grew up with the Autobots and Decepticons, collected the toys and comics, thought about them and organized 'bot battles with pals in school. So, yeah, when I had the chance to add my ideas to canon, I bit.

After Dan left editing to freelance again, I got handed to editor after editor and eventually one of my ideas took flight: a Transformers mafia story, based on the infamous Castellamerese Wars that birthed the Five Families, set on old Cybertron and focusing on Scourge, one of my favorite Decepticons. I worked on that pitch for a while, and though editorial circumstances scuttled the project, it got me amped at the possibility of one day writing something set in the many TRANSFORMERS universes. IDW's E-I-C Chris Ryall, a prince of a man, conferred with me on possible ideas and promised to keep me on his radar and then the new TF editors shot me an email out of the blue to see if I might be interested in pitching a mini-series set in the TRANSFORMERS movie universe: a five issue project detailing the history of both Sector Seven, the secret government agency charged with tracking and hunting the Cybertronians, and the Simmons family line, culminating with the character portrayed by John Turturro in the two (now three, I guess) feature films.

Hells yeah.

Unfortunately, IDW decided to go with another writer—the incredibly talented John Barber—but praised the format of my pitch and we remain on excellent terms. I hope to one day do a TF project but for now, I thought you might dig reading my shelved and passed over SECTOR SEVEN pitch. Enjoy!



DATED: Sept 17 02:16:57 1984

Gentlemen —

As requested by Defense Secretary Weinberger (SECDEF), I’ve attached cost breakdowns of all projects and research extracted from NBE-01 in order to bring incoming Field Commander Seymour Simmons to speed. Also enclosed is this second document, detailing my concerns regarding Commander Simmons’ counter-productive policies. As previously discussed, my concerns are grounded in precedent: the Simmons men have commanded S7 as far back as anyone can remember, and though each has acted for the good of our nation, a recurring theme of paranoia, obsession and unusual behavior contributes to a disregard for Sector Seven’s original mission. I implore you to reconsider continuing this legacy and present here a brief history of Sector Seven, detailing specific incidents that explain my fears. I remind you: there was a Sector Seven before the Simmons reign—seven men, all of whom had no connection to the United States military/industrial complex, banded together to protect our world.

::BOOK ONE:: To understand how the Simmons family changed Sector Seven, we must study the shape of the organization ten years prior to NBE-01. Sector Seven began with two men: Alistair Crowther, a member of Scotland’s Yard Special Branch assigned to investigate a series of sensational murders; and Wallace Clairmont, a Pinkerton agent hunting a murderer of his own. Clairmont’s partner, Percy Whitting, was killed by a train near San Francisco—and when I write “by a train”, gentlemen, I mean that a Steam Locomotive classified NBE-00.2 (S7 RefFILE: ASTROTRAIN) deliberately and brutally murdered his party on its way across the West. Distraught, Clairmont chased Whitting’s murderer across the country and out to sea, leading him to England where some claimed Crowther’s Whitechapel killer was no human, but a metal thing. Trading stories with dubious Crowther, Clairmont tracked, and captured his first Non-Biological Entity: NBE-00.1 (S7 RefFILE: RUNAMUCK).

NBE-00.1 claimed to be a “Seeker”, one of seven searching for an item native to its planet. This lost item would grant the Seekers power to save their world and destroy ours. Determined to prevent this, the two men terminated NBE-00.1 and led Scotland Yard away from its existence by fabricating a target for the Whitechapel murders. Armed with NBE-00.1’s knowledge and technology, Clairmont and Crowther sought help from fellow students of the unusual: xenobiologist Edgar Westfield, armorer and inventor Neville Brewster, geologist Stanford Morehouse and military captain Vance Lawson. Crowther proposed a society whose purpose would be to hunt the seekers, find their lost item, and use the technology to protect humanity. They would stick to the shadows, never formally exist or be answerable to any government. They would be seven, like the Seekers (the last spot honoring Whitting’s memory) saving the world from the private sector. Established in 1888, ten years before NBE-01 was discovered in the Arctic wastes, Sector Seven operated nobly and autonomously for the rest of the century until Brewster was killed by NBE-00.3 (S7 RefFILE: RAZORCLAW) on the African plains. Since Brewster was unable to fashion their weapons, the First Seven needed money to buy them and it was money that brought Arthur Simmons to Sector Seven.

::BOOK TWO:: Simmons made his money in trains, overseeing their construction for various countries. His global connections expanded S7’s reach, allowing them to wrest control of NBE-01 from Archibald Witwicky and hush up the find. The acquisition of NBE-01 and construction of the Arctic base accelerated their mission, granting the Seven enough information to trace a path to the Cube. Assuming they’d captured the Seekers’ item, they adopted a defensive strategy, dividing their “eggs” into two “baskets.” Clairmont, Morehouse and Westfield built a second base to house the Cube, while Crowther and Lawson remained with NBE-01. With the Seven staying home to gather information and U.S. military reacting to the existence of privately funded facilities on American soil, Simmons declared they could no longer work apart from government and used political clout to assume the role of Field Commander. Sector Seven was granted military clearance in 1929, working under oversight of the President, SECDEF and Director of the Bureau of Investigation; “Agent” Simmons became their government liaison and that gave him the resolve to retool and arm S7 for the 20th Century.

By 1934, he’d assumed control of all operations. Crowther died in ’31 and J. Edgar Hoover debriefed the others. Only Clairmont remained, holed up in Nevada trying to unlock the Cube’s secrets. Simmons and Clairmont butted heads — the former wanted to go public, hunt and eliminate NBEs, while the latter had long abandoned revenge for Whitting to protect the world. Simmons forced Clairmont into retirement after botching a field operation to re-capture the reconstituted NBE-00.1 and a new entity, NBE-00.4 (S7 RefFILE: RANSACK). Simmons claimed Clairmont’s tinkering with the Cube led to NBE-00.1’s resurrection and had him court-martialed and transferred to civilian life. Simmons understood the Cube had revitalized NBE-00.1 and focused on relocating NBE-01 in order to do the same—specifically to extract the locations of the other NBEs. With Simmons at the helm, working with Hoover, S7 abandoned its defensive, scientific mission and assumed a more ruthless offensive. Arthur Simmons would never see it’s fruits, though— in ‘35, he assigned his son to the Nevada installation and after one last visit, handed control of Sector Seven to its most dangerous and cunning Field Commander: Walter Simmons, AKA “The Old Man.”

::BOOK THREE:: Walter established a new policy regarding all things NBE: Our world. Our war. Alien threats would not be tolerated and instead of plumbing NBE-01’s secrets, Walter locked it and the Cube in their respective bases while he spearheaded a seek-and-destroy hunt for alien subversives. War did come, but not the war Walter predicted, and while humanity’s attention turned to the Axis threat, Sector Seven saw the conflict as an excuse to enter military hot zones and seek out NBEs. In 1942, the government tried to draft Sector Seven into using advanced technology to fight the Axis. Walter wanted as little to do with the military as he needed and didn’t want to answer to Dwight Eisenhower. But when S7 pinpointed an energy source in Africa, Walter changed his mind and provided modified NB-enhanced Willys MB Jeeps (NBE-G.I.: S7 RefFILE: HOUND Units) to Ike’s Tunis invasion and helped engage Rommel’s Afrika Korps. The NBE-G.I.s confronted two Seekers—NBE-00.3 (S7 RefFILE: RAZORCLAW) and NBE-00.5 (S7 RefFILE: BLITZWING). They failed to capture either NBE and the units were responsible for heavy losses on both sides, Axis and Allies alike. Deciding S7 technology was more dangerous than it was worth, the government agreed to let them sit out the fighting and merely supply the Armed Forces with R&D. Simmons returned to his real work and a World War of his own: D-Day was a year away, but both the Allies and Sector Seven were ready to go on the offensive—across the sea and to the stars.

::BOOK FOUR:: Twenty years later, in 1962, Sector Seven no longer remained autonomous. It absorbed recruits from every level of the military and abandoned pretense of searching for the Seekers. Like McCarthy’s crusade, all assets were directed towards a single goal: seek and destroy outsiders before the Communists beat us to them. Securing funds, resources and military sanction, Walter gathered a team at the Arctic base and built a prototype for a series of NBE-derived spacecrafts that would seek and engage the alien world. Once launched, S7 would relocate NBE-01 to Nevada in case their offensive flushed out remaining NBEs. In Nevada, NBE-01 and the Cube would be secure and they could activate the Ice Man so that he could lead them to his fellow aliens. Simmons wanted to accomplish this now because the winds of change had arrived—soon, the government would assume control of Sector Seven, direct endgame of Arthur Simmons’ first major policy change to the organization. Additionally, the Russians were swarming, preparing to attack and take the American advantage in Cold War technology. Walter owed it to his family to be the one who stopped the NBEs, and the way to that was by taking the fight to them, so he rushed construction of the prototype ship. But when the unprepared spacecraft’s test flight flushed out previously identified NBE-00.2 (S7 RefFILE: ASTROTRAIN), mobile units had to defend it using cryo-weapons. The prototype gave chase into low orbit and enacted Percy Whitting’s revenge by obliterating NBE-00.2. Unfortunately, the ship suffered damage and was dismantled. Simmons, paranoid the Soviets would beat him to the NBE world before the government “retired” him, began work on a second ship: Ghost-1.

::BOOK FIVE:: After Ghost-1’s disastrous flight (S7 RefFILE: YESTERDAY) and desperate to retain control of Sector Seven, Walter relocated his son Felix to Nevada from Vietnam. Felix discovered an eroding military force and the last gasps of J. Edgar Hoover’s paranoid legacy as Sector Seven retreated into non-military covert operations. Felix—the first, true Simmons soldier—took command and using a decommissioned military jet, traveled the world to hide alien assets from the public eye. During this time he discovered Crowther’s journals about the NBE Seekers, and I was transferred to Sector Seven under Nixon’s orders. Simmons and I met in New Mexico, 1973, and after he detailed my operational duties we flew to Roswell where I saw the true, dangerous face of the Simmons legacy. Instead of a bunker filled with little green corpses, Roswell was an abandoned test facility—a model town that once gauged the effects of nuclear bombing. Sector Eight—the real Area 51— was where Simmons men kept their secrets from Sector Seven’s rank-and-file, military personnel assigned there by Uncle Sam. There were two rooms: the first contained readouts, photographs and accounts of NBE activity on Earth. Felix outlined the First Seven’s original mission, taught me the classifications of each Seeker and brought me to speed on the item beneath Hoover Dam. According to Felix, one Seeker still remained unclassified but he felt there were more than seven NBEs on Earth. Their race had perfected the art of “sticking to the shadows”, abandoning public attacks for infiltration and sabotage as demonstrated by their involvement with Kennedy’s assassination. Stunned, I asked if S7 had evidence of an NBE in Dealey Plaza, if Zapruder’s camera had captured an NBE on film. Simmons smiled, the first and only time I’d ever see him do so, and said: “Tom… Zapruder’s camera WAS the NBE.”

NBE_00.6 (S7 RefFILE; REFLECTOR) was Walter Simmons’ ace-in-the-hole. Since he was unable to revive the Ice Man, Walter planned to revive NBE_00.6 instead, trying various methods—electrical, nuclear, stellar—but all failed. Felix’s scientists had isolated an isotope from the Cube and he’d brought it with us to see if contact might finally work —here, where his father callously exposed nearby counties to nuclear radiation in order to get what he wanted. Here, where Walter had counter-engineered NBE-G.I.s to target both U.S. and German soldiers in Africa, sacrificing American lives in order to duck the draft. He’d also risked the lives of the spacecraft crew for the “sake of the American people” and familial glory. Arthur Simmons, meanwhile, explained in a journal how he’d taken command by reassigning Morehouse, Westfield and Lawson to WW1 battlefields and then blaming and retiring Clairmont for a failed operation that Simmons deliberately botched. The Simmons men had done terrible things to direct the course of Sector Seven, doing what they had to for the sake of their world. Felix wanted to make up for that by completing the First Seven’s mission and eliminating the final Seeker. Listening to him rant about aliens robots, being asked to cover up horrible crimes in the name of national protection, I was ready to leave, but then Simmons’ jet dropped the roof on our heads. Felix’s jet was the last Seeker (NBE_00.7 S7 RefFILE; JETFIRE), waiting to play his hand. NBE_00.7 took the isotope and revived NBE_00.6, explaining the isotope energy would lead to the actual lost item, one that still remains unclassified. The aliens disagreed about their next move: NBE_00.6 wanted to revive a “Megatron” and NBE_00.7 was determined to seek the item. They clashed, and Felix acquitted his family name by driving them off with cryo-weapons, sacrificing himself in the process. NBE_00.6 vowed to return and NBE_00.7 promised to be here to stop him. In the confusion, I recovered the isotope and returned it to Nevada, helping shutter Sector Eight and preparing the Earth to defend itself in Felix Simmons’ memory.

Eleven years later and another Simmons assumes command. Seymour is a good man, like Felix, but shows signs of Arthur’s obsession, Walter’s paranoia and cowboy bravado. One wrong move could result in more than a Ghost-1 debacle; it could mean the end of our planet. Rethink this decision. Let me assume command and continue the First Seven’s work, started before Arthur Simmons manipulated his way into their midst. With our non-biological eggs now in a single basket, the slightest misstep may finally, horribly, ensure that a Sector Seven actually does not exist to defend our world.

Thomas A. Banachek
Director, Advanced Research Division
United States Armed Forces, Sector Seven


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PREORDER! Neil Kleid & Dean Haspiel in February's SUPERMAN 80 PAGE GIANT [07 Dec 2010|01:49am]
So, the truth, justice and American way are out there: This February, Emmy-winning cartoonist Dean Haspiel and I make our mark in Metropolis as we contribute a ten-page Perry White story to the 2011 SUPERMAN 80-PAGE GIANT (Diamond Order Code DEC100215), covered by an amazing Dustin Nguyen illustration:

This is my first story for the DC Universe, and my first published work with Dean, and both of those are personal milestones long overdue. I've actually been pitching DCU stories for a few years now, and I'm thrilled that my first is for the Superman office in the form of excellent, handsome, debonair editors Matt Idelson and Wil Moss, both who have been great to work with. In fact, I actually pitched them this story one year ago this week (I remember because I attended the pre-holiday taping of the David Letterman show that day, a standby ticket scored between DC meetings). It's a fun story, one that had a bit of character alteration due to some Big Picture Stuff, but all in all has remained exactly as pitched....keeping the tone and character representation of one of the DCU's unsung heroes.

I've always been a fan of good supporting characters and while most visitors to Metropolis gravitate to Jimmy Olsen or Lois Lane, I've always been a Perry White fan. Solid and dependable like the new he prints, Perry provides the structure to Superman's secondary cast and—in my opinion—often allows them the considerable leeway needed in order to do their job, perhaps turning his head for a moment for the sake of the story. How else can we explain why the Daily Planet's roof—and landmark globe—has become a focal gathering point for heroes and reporters, each out to do what they must in service of the truth? How else can we explain why a decorated reporter, a man with years of investigative journalism and observational skills under his considerable belt, doesn't catch on that a star reporter constantly goes missing (sometimes for days or weeks, suddenly calling in vacation time) and conveniently returns when the day is saved? Perry's smarter than we give him credit for, but more importantly—to me, and to this story—the man has Been Around.

We forget that Perry White has been reporting world news since very small, roving with the Newsboy Legion and then traveling to exotic locales like London, Paris, Egypt and Gotham City. He's lived through it, commented on it, reported it—from World War Two to World War Krypton—and though he's given up the walkabout for a desk, chair and staff it doesn't change the fact that at the end of the day, Perry White can tell a goddamn story. And there's nothing he likes talking about more than Metropolis.

If Superman is Metropolis' heart, Lex Luthor it's brains and Jimmy Olsen it's eyes, then Perry White is Metropolis' SOUL. He lives, breathes and bathes in it, knowing it's streets better than he knows his own family. He grew up here—schooled in class and on the street—and when it was time to raise a family, there was no other place he planned to do it. He speaks it's language, understands the kind of hero it needs and paper it deserves and does his best to provide them with both. But his time in the trenches, reporting on the comings and goings, the stories and scandals, the heartbreak and hubris of the DCU has permanently affixed him in my mind as the Nick Fury of DC journalists—he knows where the bodies were hidden because he was there to report about it. And that history, that charming, brilliant, dedicated intelligence is what draws me to tell stories about him. And I'm proud that Wil and Matt have allowed me to do it here.

I'm also thrilled that I was able to recruit Dean Haspiel to partner with me on the story. Dean (or "Dino") has been schooling young, eager cartoonists and storytellers as long as I've known him (ten years now, back to right after 9/11) and might just be the glue that keeps this industry together. He's Mister Connections, particularly in the Brooklyn/Manhattan indie/alt comix circuit, branching out now to all forms of media with his partnerships with Jonathan Ames, Ted Hope and others. His work —most notably his alter-ego, Billy Dogma, but also the full-length graphic novels he's been doing for Vertigo like THE QUITTER, THE ALCOHOLIC and CUBA—has earned him the respect and awe of his peers, and placed him the ranks of comic book/cartoon superstars of the last decade. He helped co-found ACT-I-VATE and has illustrated stories for everyone from Marvel to DC to Image to Dark Horse to Harvey Freaking Pekar.

Dean and I met when I was trying to find a way into the industry—I'd organized a panel forum with the then EICs of Marvel and DC and attended a BIZARRO COMICS signing at Union Square to promote it and hand out flyers. I met Dean there, along with Evan Dorkin, Nick Bertozzi and others, but it was Dean who engaged me as a fan and would-be creator, handing me his information and encouraging me to get in touch. Through Dean, I was able to help organize (with A. David Lewis) the beginnings of Alternative Comics' 9-11 tribute anthology (the lion's share of the work was done by publisher Jeff Mason). I remember being at a meeting for the book and then invited to grab sushi with Dean, Josh Neufeld and some others. It was obvious they just wanted to hang out as pals, shoot the shit, but Dean was so welcoming and made me feel like one of the pals, even though they want back for years and were so damn talented and I was the new untested kid on the block. He really helped establish my comics career and I always hoped I could one day return the favor.

Dean and I started collaborating together a few years later, during Marvel's EPIC initiative. We'd tossed around some ideas—I have a scrapped "Strange Tales/Bizarro Comics" style  MARVEL TWO IN ONE anthology pitch somewhere in my files—and decided on a short, out-of-continuity Jack of Hearts miniseries which was actually greenlit and in the breakdown stages before EPIC hit the skids. From there, Dean and I plotted an end of the world Machine Man joint and talked about other, fleeting ideas along the way. Recently, we'd cooked up an Hourman proposal and I attached his name to some other Marvel pitches (which are still in the air) but one year ago, sitting in the Superman offices with Matt and Wil, the second character in my story had to be switched for editorial purposes and when we landed on Wildcat, I knew the artist had to be Dino

Dean can't hide: he freaking digs on Ted Grant. Perhaps because Ted and Billy Dogma share DNA, that aggro-moxie Dean's always on about? Can't tell. But I know a Wildcat series would be like Chrismukkah Birthday to Dean if he could get it. Boxing. Square jaw. Drawl and swagger. History and wisdom. That freaking amazing costume. How can one man resist? With two like-minded, old school characters in place, and a story that offers history, fisticuffs, hard-knocks and fun, I knew Dean would jump at the chance to draw this thing and am thrilled that we're finally going to get a collaboration out there in the world. Hopeful that it's the first of many, but I'm happy that it's al least the first.

Hopefully, after reading it, you will be too.

The 2011 SUPERMAN 80 PAGE GIANT hits comic book stores in February, but you can preorder it now using its Diamond Order Code (DEC100215) — simply walk in to your local comic book shop and ask the kind, generous retailer to order it NOW.

Here's the solicitation text:


Get ready for seven fresh and exciting stories spotlighting Superman and his friends and foes by some of the industry's most promising talent! In one story, either Twilight-mania has finally hit Smallville, or Superboy has a vampire problem on his hands. Meanwhile, when a lab full of Jimmy Olsen clones escapes and runs amok in Metropolis, it's up to Superman and Jimmy to round 'em all up before things turn even more bizarre! And speaking of bizarre, take a trip to Bizarro World for 'Bizarro Grounded'! Plus, stories of Supergirl, Krypto, Jor-El, and more! On sale FEBRUARY 2 • 80 pg, FC
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"Midnight Oil": Original Kleid Horror Fiction at Mulholland Books [31 Oct 2010|11:46pm]
So, in honor of Halloween, big time NY book publisher Little Brown's suspense imprint, Mulholland Books, hosted a short prison horror story I wrote set during the Hollywood blacklist.

"Midnight Oil" is now live on the Little Brown/Mulholland Books website featuring original illustrations by yours truly and BROWNSVILLE artist Jake Allen. Perfectly creepy for the tone of the day, swing over and have a read. This short is the first of my slow foray into the world of prose/non-sequential fiction and hopefully you'll be reading more from me in the near future.

The brief history behind the story is this: Jake and I pitched a comic book series around the industry awhile back that's a bit X-FILES meets L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, focusing on McCarthy-era G-Men investigating a new kind of underworld subversive—the undead. Eventually, Jake and I dropped the project and I've spent the last few years reviving it as a series of prose novels. The first, THE RED MENACE, is in development and will see the light of day one way or another. Frank Day, the protagonist of "Midnight Oil", has been lifted from the series for this short origin story of sorts, set a few years before the events of RED MENACE.

Anyway, I'm quite proud of this little take on McCarthyist Hollywood as seen through the eyes of the writer, and the unique spin on the idea of what a zombie is and what both mean to me.

I hope you enjoy reading "Midnight Oil" as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Mulholland Books is an imprint of Little, Brown and Company. Little, Brown and Company is a division of Hachette Book Group. Founded in 1837, Little, Brown has long been recognized as a publisher committed to publishing fiction of the highest quality and nonfiction of lasting significance. Hachette Book Group is a leading trade publisher based in New York and a division of Hachette Livre, the second-largest publisher in the world. The goal of Little, Brown’s Mulholland Books is simple: to publish books you can’t stop reading. Whatever their form—crime novels, thrillers, police procedurals, spy stories, even supernatural suspense—the promise of a Mulholland Book is that you’ll read it leaning forward, hungry for the next word. With a focus on online community building, internet marketing and authentic connections between authors, readers and publisher, Mulholland Books will be at the center of a web of suspense.

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With apologies to Robert Kirkman...THE WALKING ED [29 Oct 2010|12:58am]
This Sunday night, I'll be watching AMC's season premiere of THE WALKING DEAD, the zombie drama based on the Image Comic book by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard.

And by the look of this, I won't be alone:

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NEIL'S COMIC ARCHIVE: "I Was a Teenage Sci-Fi Writer" [27 Oct 2010|01:49am]
Thought I'd use this neglected space to post some of my little-seen comic shorts, culled from the pages of early minicomics, anthologies and the like. Many of them are raw and still at a place where I was struggling to become the cartoonist I've grown to be, but I have a soft spot in my heart for those "out of print" tales, and hopefully you will too.

This first piece, "I Was a Teenage Sci-Fi Writer", is a short from the second HOUSE OF TWELVE anthology and created to follow the volume's sci-fi theme. I was going for those pulpy "I was a Teenage Monster" style confessionals with a tongue-in-cheek laugh at the world i was starting to be part of at the time—the indie comix scene, the internet communities—and I quite enjoyed the end result despite some glaring, wincing troublesome moments.

Dare you read? Dare, dare!Collapse )
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The Strangest Bit of Exposure Ever [06 Oct 2010|10:06pm]
So, I've got a twitter feed which I'm sure you follow.

This week, it was announced that director Zack Snyder of 300, WATCHMEN and SUCKER PUNCH fame would be directing the next SUPERMAN flick from the good people at Warner Bros/DC Entertainment. Naturally, this led to some good-natured ribbing. In particular, it led to some Snyder ouevre/Superman mythos mashups all across the internet, including my little contribution.

Which, for reasons that astound me, got picked up by NPR's blog.

Not that I mind, of course, but I'll admit this is the most out of left field bit of promotion I've gotten in a long time.

Only on the comics internet, folks.
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Two Years Old [05 Oct 2010|11:07pm]
Sometimes, while drawing Thomas the Tank Engine on a piece of bristol board, you sit back and think: Holy crap—my son is turning TWO.

Thinking back to before Jack was born (and LONG before my latest little bundle of awesome came along), it seems that I can't relate to a time before strollers and sippy cups, Lego marathons and juice boxes. Hell, in those days I only went to the park to catch a tan or a nap. Now I'm at the park every week, and I'm there for the swings, dude.

Two years. Really? In two years I've gained so much — a house, another son, important comics/OGN projects, forward momentum — and I've also lost a lot. I never thought my son would see two without my mother, and that "Savta" wouldn't be calling him to sing "Happy Birthday" over the phone. Jack, by the by, sings that ONLY when wearing his sippy cup on his head, like a lactic party hat precariously balanced as he hits the "to YOU!"

Two years. Can't believe it. Have I done my job? Jack's hitting the "terrible twos" —or as I call them, "the terrorist twos" — and some days, watching him decimate our family room or scream his little head off until he gets his blanket, there are moments of doubt.

But those moments are easily outweighed by the moments where he kisses Laurie when she's sick, healing the "boo boo"; wanting to touch, hug or lay next to his brother and say "bless you, baby" when the little one sneezes; watching him mount the steps to the aron kodesh at shul (the ark that sits in the front of the synagogue) so he can kiss the Torah; hearing him laugh when he swings sky high, plays Superman, grabs the remote and runs away cackling, and more and more.

Doubt evaporates in the face of such sights.

Two years old.

I just drew a Thomas the Tank Engine card for Jack, turning two this Thursday. I also drew Batman, Spiderman and Aquaman— his favorite heroes. I asked him once, "Jack, what goes in the sky?" and Jack said "Airplane!" I asked Jack "What goes in the farm?" and he said "Horsie!" I asked Jack "What goes in the water?" and Jack said "Aquaman!"

I raise 'em right.

Happy birthday, my little, awesome, bundle of terror.

My world is yours.
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ADJUSTED NYCC signing schedule [05 Oct 2010|10:31pm]
Okay! So here's is my complete, all in one place signing schedule for this weekend's New York Comic Con:

Friday October 8th
10:00 to 11:00AM: NBM Publishing (Booth #2304) with Stefan Petrucha
1:00 to 2:30 PM: Archaia Studios (Booth #2031) with Katie Cook
2:30 to 4:00PM: NBM Publishing (Booth #2304) with Greg Houston

Sunday October 10th
10:00 to 11:30 AM: Archaia Studios (Booth #2031) with Grace Randolph
12:00 to 1:30PM: NBM Publishing (Booth #2304) — I'm playing it SOLO!

Drop by and get some great comics signed, and great sketches... uh, sketched!
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New York Comic-Con 2010 is HERE [04 Oct 2010|10:45pm]
That's right, I'll be attending the annual New York Comic-Con at the Jacob Javits Center next weekend — October 8-10 — where I'll be exhibiting and signing at the NBM Publishing booth and from what I hear, at Archaia Studios (waiting for signing times).  

If you're attending please track me down and say hello (and if you aren't attending, why the hell not? It's an amazing con with all your favorites, including Stan "the Man" Lee, the cast of the new AMC show, "The Walking Dead" based on the Image Comic and, of course, all the alcoholic comic book writers you know and admire). I'll be hunkered down for your love at Booth #2304 (NBM) and possibly Booth #2031 (Archaia) on Friday and Sunday, signing copies of THE BIG KAHN, BROWNSVILLE, FRAGGLE ROCK Volume 1, NINETY CANDLES and any other Kleid-centric titles you'd like graced with my John Hancock. I'll also happily do sketches for the kiddies (this year's generic sketch, inspired by Zack Snyder directing the new Superman movie, is our man Ned Beatty proudly declaring "THIS. IS. OTISBURG." 300-Style), talk about comics (but not my new projects, because, well, my editors will kill me) and accept drinks or candy.

Here's my NBM (Booth #2304) schedule — I'll post a new one when the Archaia times come in, but otherwise check at booth #2031 to find out when I'll be there.

Friday October 8th: 10:00 to 11:00AM and again from 2:30 to 4:00PM

Sunday October 10th: 12:00 to 1:30PM

Looking forward to seeing you there! I've got no announcement this year, but boy do I have a lot to say. Come up, introduce yourself and get some awesome comics!

See you at the show. Here are the books you want:


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Comic Books: Jewish/Goyish? [26 Aug 2010|11:31pm]
So, ten years ago I wrote a piece inspired by comedian Lenny Bruce's classic "Jewish/Goyish" piece. For those unfamiliar, "goyish" refers to something or someone who is not Jewish. Derived from "goy" - a Hebrew word used in the Old Testament that means "nation," it is usually used to refer to the nations of the world.

Anyway, musing on the piece — a favorite of mine— I decided to draft the comic book industry version of the ramble... and after finding it today, quickly updated it. Please understand I did this in fun, and this piece should NOT be taken seriously. Obviously most of the people on this list I dub "Jewish" are not actually Jewish. Don't be offended if you're one, don't take umbrage at what's simply meant to be an homage to a beloved piece of wit and wisdom by a classic comic, revised to focus on the industry I love.

So, without further ado and apologies to the late Mister Bruce...

Dig. I'm Jewish,
Stan Lee¹s Jewish. Kirby was Jewish, but drew goyish.
Bob Kane was Jewish; Siegel and Shuster were both Jews, though they created Superman who¹s essentially goyish.
Spiegelman, Eisner and Kurtzman are all sons of Zion. Pekar was Jewish but Crumb drew him goyish.
Steranko dresses goyish and draws Jewish.

Names like Schwartz, Levitz & Kahn give away the game, while names like Kubert, Gaiman and Gil Kane divert attention away.
Names like Larsen, McFarlane and Portacio are so goyish even if they wanted to be Jewish, they couldn¹t.

Gary Groth has a Jewish attitude.
Mark Evanier is so Jewish that it shows through in his work. John Byrne is a Jew hiding in a world of goyish superheroes.
Miller, Morrison and Moore are goyish, Busiek and Waid are Jewish. Peter David is incredibly Jewish.
Warren Ellis writes goyish but drinks Jewish.
Quesada's goyish. Didio's Jewish. Bendis & Millar: Jewish; James Robinson: Goyish; David Goyer: though his name throws you off, Jewish. Geoff Johns is goyish, but his power rings are Jewish. George Perez is a goyish artist who loves working with Jews.

Heidi MacDonald writes Jewish, but marries goyish. Tom Spurgeon is Jewish.
Rich Johnston is a self-hating Jew.
The Comics Journal is Jewish. Wizard is super goyish, though it's run by Jews.

Hellman is Jewish, while Rall is goyish, but they both sue like Jews.
Chris Ware is goyish. Daniel Clowes is Jewish. Seth dresses Jewish, while Joe Matt is the epitome of Jewish.
Evan Dorkin is Jewish, but are you surprised? Dean Haspiel takes remarkably goyish pictures for such a Jewish writer.

Marvel has been Jewish from the beginning, but is now goyish. DC got a goyish start and turned Jewish when it sold into Time/Warner.
Vertigo is Jewish except for SCALPED and NORTHLANDERS, which are both goyish. Zuda was very Jewish. Minx was goyish.

Image & IDW have been goyish since day one, while Dark Horse is the little Jew that could. Oni Press has Jewish undertones and Fantagraphics would be Jewish if they'd stop making porn. D&Q is goyish with a Jewish take on life.

Eclipse and Caliber were, Valiant was goyish; CrossGen was uber goyish.
McFarlane Productions is Jewish in that it needs to control everything, while Top Cow is so full of shiksas it cant be anything but goyish.

Scott Pilgrim is Jewish. Strangers in Paradise was extremely goyish. Bone was goyish but had Jewish themes.

Superman is Jewish. Clark Kent is goyish. Batman is a WASP who thinks he can pull off Jewish. Wonder Woman is a Jew¹s wet dream. Aquaman is Jewish. Green Lantern is what Jews want to be (Alan Scott is Jewish; Hal Jordan is goyish; Kyle Rayner is Reform Jewish).
The Flash is goyish. The Atom is Jewish.
Martian Manhunter is extremely Jewish. Hawkman is a goy's goy.
Green Arrow is a goy dating Black Canary, a Jewess hiding under a shiska wig.
Plastic Man is an atheist.

Aside from Tony Stark, the Avengers are all goyish.
Peter Parker is Jewish.Spider-Man is goyish. Mary Jane is VERY goyish. The Green Goblin is so Jewish he¹s Hassidic.

Midtown Comics is goyish. Hanley¹s is Jewish. Rocketship was Jewish with a goyish vibe.
Brooklyn and Toronto are Jewish. Kansas City and Portland are goyish, though anyone who moved to Portland to do comics is Jewish.

Comic books are Jewish. Graphic novels are goyish. Digital comics are so Jewish it¹s a wonder they¹re not Kosher.

Twittering about comics is goyish. Facebook fan pages are Jewish. Comics blogging is incredibly Jewish.

By Neil Kleid, a name a so conflicted in its Jewishness/goyishness, it cancels itself out
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Holy Shnikes... a real post? [04 Aug 2010|11:09pm]
Been a long time since I've done a bit of actual blog work, but I'm trying to use this week to get back in the nimble fingers writing game after a two week break, and I figured why not use the time and space to let the three of you still following this thing where I've been and what I've been doing.

Of course, the reason I had the two week break was to spend time focusing on family following the birth of my second son, Owen. The little big-eyed bruiser was born on July 20th, here in Bergen County, and the family is adjusting to a two-kid ratio. I'm often asked what the biggest difference in our lives is with two boys, and my reply turns out to be that while before Laurie and I could use a zone defense while raising Jack, our first, the addition of a second tiny boy requires a man-to-man defense.

And that's the only sports reference you'll get from me for a while.

So, yeah: two kids. House. Car. Barbecue. Neil's an adult now, a far cry from the dude that started navigating this crazy comics industry ten short years ago. TEN YEARS. How insane is that? And in those ten years I've sporadically produced books and comics that hit shelves in dribs and drabs, enough to garner more work and discussions with those that might hire me for said work... but ten years later, I'm happy to report that things are finally out of freaking hand.

2010, while a difficult personal year, has been an outstanding creative year. Two short anthology stories have already dropped — my FRAGGLE ROCK back up and "the House that Jack Built", a fun prose piece my URSA MINORS collaborator Fernando Pinto illustrated for Shadowline's FRACTURED FABLES tour de force. I've illustrated an anthology story myself, a four page piece written by Danny Fingeroth about Al Jolson and Moshe Oysher for Abrams Books' upcoming Harvey Pekar edited anthology, YIDDISHKAYT/YIDDISHLAND. And during that time, I've been slowly scripting a secret BIG TYME original graphic novel I'll be drawing, set to debut from a major publisher in 2012. This is my second cartoon book, following NINETY CANDLES, and it promises to be the first of many assuming I don't fuck it up. This is going to be my EPILEPTIC, my PERSEPOLIS, my first "Important" book...and I'm excited for you all to see it. Editors tell me we'll be announcing it NEXT YEAR at NYCC, so I have a bit of time to make some headway on it. Aiming to finish the script by Thanksgiving and get rolling on the art by the end of the year.

But is that all? You WISH, True Believer. Never one to rest on my haunches (and the last few months have shaped them into round, firm, conspicuous haunches), I'm sketching out two new creator owned proposals to shop around — the first (we'll call it Project G) partners me with Irish illustrator Eion Coveney, a great new find who's been killing it with a Sean Phillips vibe that's going to blow your socks out the back of your pants. Eion, by the way, has also signed up to illustrate AMERICAN CAESAR, my third original graphic novel from NBM Publishing based on the stage play I scripted in 2005. Expect that one late 2011. The second creator owned proposal (Project PA) pairs me with young Master Pinto once more, as we present a quirky procedural drama which should surprise a few people. I'm really spending some time researching this one, trying to make it sing, and before I even start a first draft of this proposal I want to make sure it's plotted tighter than a Jewish schoolgirl's knees. We're aiming to have both of those ready to start sending around in the New Year.

Fernando and I are also dipping our toes into a fresh medium for the two of us, working on an amazing new endeavor that takes us out of our comfort zone but in a bold, awesome new way. We literally JUST started talking about this with everyone else involved and the next month will tell whether it will sink or swim. The nice thing is that the publisher is on board and there's another creative involved I've worked with many times before, a guy I'd trust with my kids. And by kids, I mean my characters. I trust no one with my kids, even myself.

If that isn't enough, there's interest in having me illustrate another well-respected writer's graphic novel which is just hard to wrap my head around, a handful of pitches and proposals floating about the Big Two that have garnered a bit of interest, and — oh, yeah — my first contracted and approved DCU story. That one's going to be fun. I've written the first page, and I know at least five people that are going to be jealous as hell.

Finally, I'm waiting on pins and needles to find out if XXXXXXXXXX XXXXX likes XXXXXX enough to turn it into the epic we've been excitedly discussing since our amazing in-person meeting, a meeting that ended with them saying I was one of the few unnoticed genre writers out there that needed to be published ASAP. Which I take it is a good thing. Should this get greenlight my life may change, as this is the place that made XXXXXXXX XXXXX a phenomenon.

Them's the broad strokes. Amid that are the rogue pitch or project on various desks in town, but none of it is anything until it's something, right? In the meantime, the plate's loaded and I'm working my way to the bottom. Oh, also? TWO. KIDS.

And now you know where the hell I've been. Next update in 2011, I imagine? Unless, of course, I've got something to shill...

What've you been up to, jerks?
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COMIC-CON WEEK ANNOUNCEMENT: Neil Kleid's New Creator-Owned Project -- IT'S A BOY [20 Jul 2010|10:28pm]
Neil Kleid, Xeric award winning cartoonist, took the stage today at Engelwood Hospital in Bergen County, New Jersey to unveil his latest creator owned project: a boy, in collaboration with the project manager, his wife Laurie, debuted July 20th at 1:10 PM from Team Rant Comics. The project weighed in at a whopping 8 lbs., 20.5 inches, and promises to be the runaway hit of Comic-Con weekend. Already, the project has garnered attention and praise from all corners of the comic book industry, respected members of the New York/New Jersey caregiving community that counts Laurie as one of their own, and well-wishing friends and family.

"I couldn't be happier and more excited to take this project home," Kleid said while installing a baby seat in the back of his car. "There's nothing more thrilling than bringing a project like this to the public and seeing their reaction. It makes sleepless nights and months of preparation all the more worth it."

Jack Kleid, Vice President of Marketing for Team Rant Comics, appeared slightly more reserved, releasing the following statement: "Baby. Mommy. Home? Ice pop."

The coming week will bring announcement of the project name, but until then the creative team thanks friends and family for all their support.
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