cover by Sam Hiti

The Inside Stuff

    This issue brings back some horrible, horrible memories for me, which is sad because it really is a cool book. I'll hit you with all the good stuff first, then the dirt.

The cover is striking for a few reasons. Obviously it's a departure from the angel wings and music theme that has graced most of the other issues. But when you get an artist like Sam Hiti, you let him do whatever he wants. He's the cartoonist behind the adaptation of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, and also did a graphic novel we loved called Los Tiempos Finales.

The book contained a wide variety of comics and they were all terrific. Joshua Hart anchored the book with a streetwise comic called "No Angel" that I think I lettered but I don't remember. Then Joshua Warren contributed MANchild, a heavy abstract interpretation of Proverbs 19:18.

Keith "Inkboy" Betancourt did his first solo pages with the Jesus Freaks. I made a guest appearance in the comic, which was funny. The dialogue went through three rewrites before we got it right. Keith still ribs me about my suggestions for some of the banter. Ouch.

Jeremy Zehr wrote a journal about our time at Wizard World 2004, complete with photos and full of Jer's typical observational sarcasm. Mark Melton did another installment of Azalea that has left us hanging for two years. Richie Brown had this off-the-wall comic called The Ballad of Cap'n Crunchie. Dean Rankine, who has become a Megazeen staple, printed The Big Fat World of Jehoshaphat Jones. And Jamie Cosley filled the inside back cover with Scenes from a Christian Mall.

Chad LaForce and Eric Merced gave me Helmet Boy. I had green lighted the comic based on the plot, but when it was complete I hated the dialogue. It's not that it was BAD, or WRONG, but it definitely wasn't Megazeen material. But I was so impressed with their work that I convinced them to submit it without words, and it kinda worked in a weird way.

Doug Tennant joined the team to crank up the production value, which is evident in the lack of fuzziness.

Like I as saying though, while this turned into a pretty good Megazeen, behind the scenes it was ugly.

The color issue had really thrown me off schedule, so in my frustration of not getting a book out in over a year, I decided to print issue 11 before issue 10. This way at least we'd have something new to show at Wizard World. However, I had gotten an idea into my head that we needed to print this book comic sized. I really felt that it was time for Megazeen to take the next step production wise. We had the money and we had the quality comics.

We needed a reliable printer. What we got instead was Brad Linder and First Wave Printing. To say this was a nightmare is a vast understatement.

To make a long story short, Brad took a bunch of us small press publishers to the cleaners. He promised fast turnaround but failed to deliver, he promised quality books and failed to deliver. I threatened him for WEEKS leading up to Wizard World. He finally sent me a portion of the copies of Megazeen #11, but he had done a horrible job. The text was illegible. The paper quality was unacceptable. It looked like poop. A small army of Brad's customers were also coming out of the woodworks, complaining that he'd ripped them off, with stories frighteningly similar to mine. In the end, Brad simply stopped comunicating, kept my money and never gave me new prints OR any copies of the Megazeen Book of Evil. We were out hundreds of dollars due to a bad decision to trust a guy full of empty promises.

Lesson learned. Caveat emptor. I was inexperienced and desperate, he was smart and had my money.

A few months later I had MZ11 printed in the traditional zeen format, but I vowed it would be the last time. And it was.

This was also the last issue Joseph Crossett was involved in. This may come as a shock to some, since we never really made a formal announcement about it. Joseph and I had many disagreements over the years, some more heated than others, but we got into a real knock-down over something minor and all the BIG accusations came out from us both.

Truthfully, it was nearly the end of Megazeen. We were both ready to walk away. In the end, he decided that his interest had waned in favor of animation, and he knew mine had not. He also knew that the book had shifted in content over several months, as I had gotten more involved with editing, production and marketing.

In then end we parted amicably, though it took until very recently for us to simply be friends again.

I admire Joseph for his vision on this book and for teaching me to take risks. He is a dreamer, and his thoughts and interpretations run much deeper than for most people. I am a big fan of his art as well, his only flaw being that he doesn't do enough of it. I imagine that, one day, our creative paths will cross once again, whether on Megazeen or something else.

Much love Joseph.

Buy da book! Buy it here!

content © 2007 The Megazeen / artwork © 2007 individual artists