Free To Read: LIKE GIANTS by Waid and Muhr


As related here, we ran a contest at San Diego Comic-Con 2015 to find new artists. I promised to write a story for the winner that we, as creators, would co-own and publish free-to-read on Thrillbent, and today we make good.

The story is called LIKE GIANTS, an excursion into science fiction by myself and up-and-comer Jason Muhr, with colors by Marissa Louise and letters by Troy Peteri. As a storyteller, it’s scratched an itch I’ve had for a while, and I think Jason did a terrific job of translating my script into a digital-friendly format, making many smart decisions along the way.

Again, it’s available now, free to read, here. If you like it, let us know and pass the word along. Thanks!


Feb 24, 2016 In: Site News, Thrillbent News

Free To Read: 4 SECONDS


Last year, at Comic Con San Diego 2014, Thrillbent ran a unique contest. I’m happy to say the results far exceeded my expectations in terms of participation and energy generated. For an hour, I listened to pitches from writers, having guaranteed in advance that we’d publish, at our own expense, one and only one: the one that most impressed me and sounded like the best use of digital storytelling techniques. The catch was, writers had to pitch their stories in fifteen seconds or less; comics is a medium of storytelling economy, and these were one-off short tales, so get to the point, said I.

I listened to over 100 pitches that afternoon, rat-a-tat-tat, and I cannot think of a better time I have ever had at a convention, because almost every pitch was clever and workable and all of them were worth hearing. There were several that I especially loved, but one by Paul O’Connor–a crime noir tale with a science-fiction element, about a clairvoyant young woman who can see only heartbeats into the future–stood out to me as the kind of story best told in digital, accomplishing things that cannot be accomplished in print. His story is called 4 SECONDS, and while such an ambitious piece of work took longer to finish than I’d hoped, it was worth waiting for just the right artist: Karl Kesel, who just gets it when it comes to doing digital-first comics and using cutting-edge storytelling techniques. Grace Allison rendered Karl’s art in beautiful color and did a stunning job.

We’re debuting 4 SECONDS on Thrillbent today, presented free for a limited time as a proof-of-concept of what makes our comics unique. If you like it–and I think you will–please tell your friends about it and share the link. Paul, Karl, Grace and I are very proud of it.

Feb 10, 2016 In: Comics, Site News, Thrillbent News

The Best Thing–And Such Portions!


Hey! For those of you ardently following The Best Thing here on Thrillbent, the end of our first arc is live today. We apologize for the delay, but we are on the case and we appreciate your patronage greatly.

But what’s next? More Best Thing! Artist Erica Henderson, deservedly so, is getting more opportunities laid before her throughout the industry, and we’re genuinely happy for her and sad to see her move on. But stepping up to work with Seanan McGuire on the next story arc is the terrifically talented Caitlin Like. We’re going to post some of her non-TBT work below so you can see why we knew she was right for the gig, and you can find more of her art here and here.

She’s working away even now with Seanan on the next batch of chapters, and as soon as she gets a good rhythm going, we’ll schedule them and let you know when to expect them. I’ve read the first few, and trust me–they’re absolutely worth waiting for.

Caitlin Like Sample 2


Aug 10, 2015 In: Comics, Site News, Thrillbent News

Strangers In Paradise!


In our continual effort here at Thrillbent Central to further our content for our subscribers, we’ve made a big score. Starting Friday, July 3, we’ll be serializing the work of award-winning writer/artist Terry Moore, creator of Strangers In Paradise, one of the medium’s most acclaimed and honored comics series.

Strangers In Paradise’s 107-issue epic, a groundbreaking romantic thriller focused on the complex relationship between its two female leads, won the Eisner Award in 1996 and the GLAAD Award in 2008, and has been a personal favorite comic of both mine and John Rogers’ since forever. We’re very proud to be able to bring SiP to you every Friday, beginning from the very first issue. Much thanks to Terry and Robyn Moore of Abstract Studio for partnering up on this. If you’ve never read Strangers In Paradise, you’re in for a huge treat. If you have, then help us get the word out and tell your friends that their $3.99 a month subscription (cheap!) now includes four (4!) issues of SiP every month in addition to our other fine content! Thanks!

Jun 30, 2015 In: Site News, Thrillbent News

Thrillbent at SDCC 2015: Come Get a Job


At last year’s San Diego Comic-Con, Thrillbent held a successful and much-talked-about contest, an open pitch session for writers. The winning story, Four Seconds, is awaiting publication later this month, and it’s good.

This year at San Diego, we’re looking for artists—and just as we did last year, we’re offering the best one the prize of guaranteed publication. I will personally write a script for the winner to illustrate, our story will run on Thrillbent, and I will work with you to figure out the best kind of story to show off your talent.

Same as last year, you have to be in a certain place within a certain time. If you happen to be attending San Diego Comic-Con this year, we will be holding this open portfolio review for artists at our Digital Comics Coalition booth on Saturday, July 11, 2-4 pm, Booth 1221. During that time, I will be reviewing art portfolios and looking for potential Thrillbent artists. If you’re good, we want to know about you. Moreover, we will choose ONE ARTIST for whom I will personally write a one-shot story that will run on Thrillbent later this year. Thrillbent will pay for lettering and coloring; the winning artist will share the rights to the story with me 50/50 and will be entitled to his or her share of any revenue the story generates in any form, in perpetuity. This isn’t work for hire, nor is it an attempt to get you to work for free. It’s guaranteed publication using a high-traffic showcase to demonstrate your talent.

Anyone is welcome to participate, absolutely anyone, but there are some ground rules:

  1. You must be physically present to show your artwork.
  2. Anyone who is in line by 2:00 will be given a ticket that guarantees a review. The line will be monitored and capped at 2:00. If you want to get in line after 2:00, we can’t promise you a ticket, but I will do my level best to see you if time allows.
  3. Be ready to show approximately four to eight pages of sequential storytelling. Not pin-ups, not covers, but professional panel-to-panel storytelling so I can see how good your story skills are. Look at any chapter of anything we have up on or the Thrillbent app and you’ll get some sense of how comics storytelling works.
  4. You must have a “leave-behind” —photocopies of your samples with your contact information written on them. At 4:00 when I’m picking a winner, you want me to have your work in front of me. You don’t want me to have to be trying to remember what it looked like.
  5. Inked or inked-and-colored samples only. I don’t have the time or resources to teach a penciler how to ink his or her work professionally, nor are we interested in matchmaking pencilers with inkers—that’s an alchemical process much more difficult to do well than you can imagine. Black-and-white samples are actually preferred, but if you think you’re a knockout colorist, I’ll take a look.
  6. Landscape or portrait format, either one, is okay.While the default Thrillbent format is landscape (check it out), all we really care about is whether or not you can draw and tell a story. I’m not penalizing anyone in the least for showing me the same portrait-format samples you’d show to any print-comics publisher.
  7. This is not a critique. This is an audition. There will be a line. You’re probably going to get about 30-45 seconds of my time, max, if that. As nice a man as I am, given the time constraints, I’m not going to have extra time to dole out a whole lot of constructive criticism or career advice. I know the level of craft I’m looking for, and I’ll recognize it when I see it. If you show promise, you may get a brief critique and I may ask you if we can call you later for a future assignment if you show promise.
  8. We retain the option to put more rules on the table before showtime if need be or if we realize we’ve not covered our butts legally on something.But the first seven are the important rules.

We will announce a winner within a half-hour after the portfolio review ends (probably sooner). We’ll make the announcement at the booth and through Twitter (@Thrillbent). At that point, I’ll set up a time to talk with the winner after the madness of San Diego is finished and we’ll begin the collaboration, shooting for late fall/early winter publication.

See you in San Diego!


Jun 12, 2015 In: Site News, Thrillbent News

We Know a Good Thing When We See One


I really like Everstar. I’m not supposed to play favorites here at Thrillbent, but this one is something special. If you’ve not yet checked it out, please do.  Join a girl named Ainslie ​as she ​embark​s​ on a wild adventure ​that takes her from a sleepy seaport town to the command post of an interstellar starship where she fights pirates, makes new friends, and engages in swashbuckling adventure.
​Chapter twelve is the end of Everstar Volume One, but Becky Tinker and Joie Brown have just begun to chronicle the tales of Ainslie and the Everstar–so rest assured that we have them hard at work on ​Volume Two! Look for it soon, and in the meantime, if you’re a fan of Everstar, please recommend it to others–word of mouth goes a long way! Thanks!
Oct 20, 2014 In: Site News

The Philosophy of Work Flow


Especially now that we’ve gone with the subscription model, I get a lot of (very fair and good) questions about how we choose what to run when, how we choose where series “breaks” happen, all that sort of thing.

Sometimes, bad luck trips us up–Troy Peteri’s been down with the flu for days now, but the next chapters of THE DAMNATION OF CHARLIE WORMWOOD will be up any moment now, as will the next THE HOUSE IN THE WALL. Troy’s lettering adds so much to those strips that over his own protestations, I’m not going to hand the work over to someone else and I’m banking on our fans giving us that leeway in this case.

That said, by and large, we’ve been every bit as diligent about hitting our deadlines as we’ve been all along, and I’m proud of us for that. For reasons that are equally editorial/publishing and budgetary, we tend to run each of our ongoing series anywhere from eight to sixteen chapters in a row (each set of chapters comprising one volume). In general, we schedule brief breaks in between volumes to (a) buy some time to get ahead of deadlines and (b) allow for new series to be rotated in as we gradually build our catalog of monthly offerings.  That 8-to-16 number is hardly hard-and-fast, but that might help give you an idea why we take planned breaks with series like INSUFFERABLE, breaks that are built around strong, gut-punching cliffhangers.

The overall goal is to give subscribers far more than one standard print comic’s worth of content each month in exchange for their $3.99 subscription fee, and I feel confident we’re doing just that–and there’s much more to come.  When I can finally come up for air, we’ll finally post the long-promised “upcoming” calendar to the site and app so you can see just how much you’re getting and when (and you’ll be pleasantly surprised).

Also, Troy just texted to say that he came back from Urgent Care armed with meds and cough super-suppressant and that he was jumping on WORMWOOD later tonight, but I told him to rest, for God’s sake. Thanks for understanding. We don’t and won’t abuse your trust in Thrillbent!

Aug 12, 2014 In: Site News, Thrillbent News

Thrillbent at San Diego 2014


Well, that couldn’t have gone better. Seriously.

As announced in a previous blogpost, Thrillbent opened up the pitching process at San Diego Comic-Con this year. The rules were simple: we’d take the best pitch for a single short story and develop it for release on Thrillbent later this year–we’d pay for production, you’d own the story–but your pitch had to clock in at no more than 15 seconds.

We began our panel with a quick recap of who we were and what we did while tyros started lining up at the microphone.  To show we could play by our own rules, our panelists–James Tynion IV, Christy Blanch, Chris Mancini, Todd Harris, Becky Tinker and myself–each pitched what we were doing for Thrillbent in that same 15-second space, to wit:

EMPIRE is a science-fiction GAME OF THRONES where a supervillain has taken over the Earth. He’s trying to maintain his reign only to find out that once you’ve consolidated all the world’s power on one throne, there is no more dangerous place to sit.”

INSUFFERABLE is about father-and-son crimefighters where the son grew up to be a jerk, went solo, and broke up the team. Now an ex-villain is trying to pull them back together for one last case.”

“The year is 1812, and VALENTINE is one of the few soldiers left of Napoleon’s once-mighty army felled by the Russian winter. Given a mysterious package by a dying general with orders to see it safely back to France, Valentine finds himself pursued through the snow by blood-eyed monsters who intent on stopping him.”

ARCANUM follows the adventures of the secret government agency using creatures of myth and legend as its agents to fight invading arcane forces that bullets and rocket launchers are useless against. It’s 24 by way of Once Upon A Time.”

And so on.

We blew through our entire slide presentation in six minutes, including the various announcements we’ll share with you later this week. Success. Then we turned to the waiting contestants. Going in, I figured we’d have 15, maybe 20, and that the panelists and I would have time to ask some follow-up questions and discuss the merits of the pitches amongst ourselves.

I was informed just before we began that we’d had to cut the line at 100.

Holy cow.

That didn’t leave much room for back-and-forth; it was pretty rat-a-tat-tat. Fifteen seconds isn’t a whole lot of time. But here were the things that amazed me:

First, there weren’t any terrible pitches. Not one. As someone who’s been an editor for over thirty years, I’m here to tell you that this is statistically impossible. Yes, there were some worn and tired ideas. Yes, there were some unintentionally derivative pitches. But I kept waiting for someone to step up and give me “A werewolf wakes up on the TITANIC” or “Turns out they’re all vampires,” or (BOOM! founder Ross Richie’s classic go-to example for hollow ideas) “A monkey punches a robot.” This didn’t happen. Everyone who got up to pitch–everyone, without fail–was prepared and rehearsed. Most people had written their pitches down to read. No one made me doubt the existence of God. Joe Casey asked me yesterday if I’d experienced anything recently that gave me faith that the future of comics is secure, and I told him about those pitches.

Second, there was an encouraging amount of diversity at play. Despite the fact that it was open-call, were most of the volunteers of the white-male demographic? Yes. But by no means was that majority a wide majority. I was thrilled at the number of women in line, at the number of men who didn’t look like cracked-mirror versions of me…and they all had stories to tell. Fantasy tales. Crime tales. Romans a clef. Stories of joy, of darkness, of hope. So many, many good pitches.

As we went, I answered most every pitch with an off-the-top-of-the-head comment/snap judgment (seemed to me like these people ought to hear why their pitches did or didn’t work for me–fair is fair and, besides, this was intended as a teaching process as much as a pitch session). A lot of them were good ideas that were too big for the short-story one-off space we were offering; I encouraged these writers to develop them as longer pieces or mini-series for someone. Many of them were good ideas that would be better served in another medium; there was a great one about worldwide body-swapping that, given the relatively internal nature of the conflicts it created, wasn’t terribly visual–but as I said as I rejected it, if it were a novel, I’d read the hell out of it. Some of them were just too close to things we were already publishing or were planning on rolling out. And a couple of them just didn’t strike me. (As I likewise warned everyone going in, just because I don’t like your story doesn’t mean it’s a bad story. One of the realities of publishing is that you have no idea going in how tired I might already be that day of hearing zombie pitches or vampire pitches or what have you. Nothing you can do about that; just pitch.)

As we went, we got through more than half the contestants (!) and pulled aside ten or so as potential winners. When we’d just flat out run out of time, I chose the story (congratulations, Paul O’Connor!) that all the panelists felt had the greatest potential to use the unique tools of digital storytelling well, but that was a tough call, because all the semi-finalists had dynamite pitches (especially Josh Southall, Suzy Stein and Fernando Perez, and Richard Stouvenel). I told them all to give us their contact info so that if Paul gets hit by a bus tomorrow, they can step up.

Then I went out in the hall and listened to the rest of the pitches. Everyone understood that we’d already picked a winner, but since we’d had no idea how many contestant would show up and thus hadn’t limited the number of slots, those remaining shouldn’t be penalized. Again: some amazing pitches. No dumb ones. Some I’d publish tomorrow if we had the time and resources. Only one guy whose heart visibly shattered into pieces when I told him, wincing, that his idea was too close to a Greg Rucka comic already in print. Two pitches that would have made the semi-finals easily. One that might well have won. By every measure, the panel was a rousing success, so keep visiting the Thrillbent site and reading the blog (scroll to the bottom of the page to sign up for the mailing list!) to see when and where we’ll do this again, because I can’t wait. (I know what you’re asking, and yes: we will eventually open up this site to unsolicited submissions outside of conventions, hopefully later this year, but right now we simply don’t have the peoplepower. But do keep watching the site and sign up for the mailing list so you’ll know when we throw open the gates.)

Thank you so much to everyone who came out for this. Thanks for being good sports, thanks for the good will. And watch for Paul O’Connor’s detective noir tale 4 SECONDS coming soon!


Aug 04, 2014 In: Site News, Thrillbent News

Thrillbent at SDCC: Come Pitch At Our Panel.


Every week, we here at Thrillbent HQ receive many, many inquiries about story submissions from new creators looking to break into comics — particularly digital comics. The short answer remains that we still don’t have the time-and-energy resources to take submissions, though we still hope to later this year. BUT —

— the slightly longer answer is that if you happen to be attending San Diego Comic-Con this year, we will be holding an open pitch session at our presentation/Q&A panel —  Thursday, July 24, 5:30pm, Room 8 — where my intrepid crew and I will accept ONE PITCH to develop and, if the final story is good, host on Thrillbent. If you’re an artist/writer, that’s awesome: step up. If you’re a writer and we like your story, we will find you an artist if you need one. We will pay for production (art/lettering/coloring) and you and the artist will share the copyright — this isn’t work for hire. It’s a showcase for your short story.

Anyone is welcome to participate, absolutely anyone, but there are some ground rules:

  1. You must be physically present at the panel to deliver the pitch.
  2. You’re pitching ONE STORY. Not a sprawling ongoing series, not a 52-week arc.  Look at any chapter of anything we have up on and/or the Thrillbent app and you’ll get some sense of how long it should be — thirty to forty pages, TOPS.
  3. You must be able to deliver your story pitch in no more than 15 seconds. We will have a timer. If you go past that time limit, your entry will be INVALID.
  4. No visual aids. You must be able to describe your story well enough so we can begin to see it in our heads.
  5. If my friends and I have further questions about your characters, plot, or what-have-you, you should be able to answer them. CONCISELY.
  6. By stepping up to the mike, you’re gonna have to trust that neither we nor the 500 other people in the audience will steal your idea. That may worry you, but it’s a risk you’re going to have to take throughout the length of your creative career. The hard truth is that ideas are easy; it’s what you do with them that’s the magic. But everything starts with an idea.
  7. We retain the option to put more rules on the table before showtime if need be or if we realize we’ve not covered our butts legally on something. But the first six are the important rules.

Fifteen seconds is not a lot of time, but as I’ve been saying since before you were born, comics is about THE ECONOMY OF STORYTELLING. Get in, make every word and every image count, get out. If it takes you as long or longer to verbally pitch your story as it would take to read it, you should be working in another medium. Brevity. Brvty. Brv.

Things to bear in mind that will help you immensely:

Know what a story is. A story is not an anecdote. (“A little girl gets taken by a tornado to a magical realm, the end.”) A story is someone wants something, and something is in his or her way. (“A little girl gets taken by a tornado to a magical realm and the only way to get home is to defeat an evil witch.” “An explorer is searching for the Ark of the Covenant, but so are the Nazis.” “A scientist craves recognition, but he knows his breakthrough discovery could endanger the world.”)

Little Miss Muffet is not a story. Little Miss Muffet is a setup and no punchline. Girl wants to eat, spider frightens her away, the end. It becomes a story if, win or lose, she (or the spider) takes some sort of action and ends up different in some way as a result. Conflict/resolution. That’s a story.

Pitch a story that works well in the Thrillbent digital format. “We see one event from two simultaneous points of view side-by-side.” “This story takes place somewhere visually interesting.” “As the scene progresses, some of the scenery begins to fade from view.” And so on. Be imaginative. But at the rock bottom minimum, have a premise that is visually interesting.

Remember at all times that your final story can be no longer than about thirty to forty pages, TOPS. Extra points for fewer pages.

For the six million of you who will not be at San Diego Comic-Con, I apologize in advance, but right now, this is the best we can do; we are a very lean crew and we are getting to open-submissions as fast as we can. For those who are attending, once again: our panel is on Thursday, July 24 at 5:30pm in Room 8. If you have (concise) questions regarding the pitch session, send them to lori (at) thrillbent (dot) com. Do NOT send her pitches ahead of time; they will be rejected instantly.

See you in San Diego!

Jul 10, 2014 In: Site News, Thrillbent News