bill tortolini


Creator-Owned Heroes #5


Everything you could possibly want in a monthly title!

So, let’s review what you get in this single issue, shall we?

  1. New Original Story: Killswitch (Palmiotti & Gray, Lando, Mounts)
  2. An Interview with Amanda Conner (Palmiotti & Conner)
  3. Listen2Jimmy Editorial (Palmiotti)
  4. New Original Story: Black Sparrow (Niles, Russell, Ritchie)
  5. Writing Comics - Part One (Niles)
  6. scattered thoughts (Gray)
  7. RETROVIRUS Preview (Palmiotti & Gray, Fernandez, Mounts, Tortolini)

All this, for a mere $3.99 - I have to say, that is a way better bargain than most books published today.

The best part about all of this is - as its title implies - it is a Creator-Owned Indie Book.

“COH is an indie book because everyone involved owns a piece of what they do…” - Jimmy Palmiotti

Now let me dive into each piece of the book and give a little background (spoiler free)…

My expectations were set pretty high after the last two original stories within the pages of COH (especially TriggerGirl6). And while I was sad to see both of those short stories come to an end, I was pleased to see we would get another round of original short stories. These types of stories make the format of this book what it is - 2 parts comic, 1 part magazine, all creator-owned heart.


It checks all the boxes I have for entertainment, as an action-packed, violent, no-holds-barred playboy assassin story. It breaks boundaries I didn’t even think existed and has started out perfectly by engaging interest and setting a great pace for story development. Before I knew it I was attached to the characters, mesmerized by the plot and left anticipating what happens next.

The are is fantastic, as I would have expected. It is perfect for the story and characters. Panel structure and layout works well with flow and heightens suspense.

An Interview with Amanda Conner

One of the coolest comic artists in the business, interviewed by one of the coolest guys (and comic creators) in the world. Amanda and Jimmy, comic legend power couple - but you wouldn’t know that from this most excellent “business focused” interview. Not that I wouldn’t like to know more about their joint work/life balance, but this interview was intended to be focused on Amanda, her work, and her life in the biz (so to speak).

It is sprinkled with candid images of Amanda with various people and fortified by step-by-step creation images of the Captain Brooklyn cover (from pencils to final color). Oh, and you get seven total pages of dialog neatly placed around said images.

I found myself enthralled with the details… like what kind of pencils she uses, where she orders her pens, how she uses special paper stock… it is all quite amazing and invaluable information for budding artists… heck for any artist!

As this is an interview, “spoiling” really doesn’t apply, but I do have to say, when asked, “Who were your major influences in storytelling?” - her three part answer included one of the best retold memories of the late, great Joe Kubert. As soon as I read that paragraph, I was compelled to instant message it to one of my good friends (as further proof for him to go pick up this issue!).

Oh, and to fit the mood of the interview (near the end), I did enjoy her response to the “Do you ever lose your sh!t…” question. Classic.

Thanks for so much great information Amanda! :D


Okay, I have to say, this is one of the major reasons I love this comic. Not because one of my questions was published and answered… while that was awesome… it is because Jimmy actually ENGAGES his audience. His fan base is included in his work. From Kickstarer awards that will include YOUR NAME in his book, to this kind of editorial - where he took tweeted questions, published and answered them as part of THIS publication.

If this doesn’t make you feel included in the industry, nothing will. :)

A SPECIAL THANK YOU to Jimmy for publishing and answering my question!

Black Sparrow

We all know that Steve Niles is a genius writer, so it was just a matter of subject\genre… and this story has a fantastic setup - 1883, Western, Family, Evil, Hope. Is that not enough to pique your interest?

The art fits the story perfectly. And while the pacing feels fast, the story only has two parts, so a lot of information needs to be illustrated quickly. In fact, this story is mostly illustration - not a lot of dialog - which implies incredible writing ability (as expected).

I am most definitely looking forward to the conclusion of this short story…and will be left with a “haunted” feeling for quite a while, I assume.

Writing Comics - Part One

This is yet another example why this book is so great. Heck, it is even evidence why this book is so important to the industry. Where else are you going to get comics, interviews, and how-to instructions - all in one affordable book?

In this article, we get incredible writing advice from one of the most talented writers in the industry. Moreover, we get writing and script advice from the same guy we JUST READ a couple pages back.

I learned that Steve uses WORD to write and format his scripts, while others leverage programs like Final Draft - I found it interesting that there was no “standard format”. As an avid user of WORD myself, it is nice to know that just another “barrier to entry” is gone in my long journey towards “official script writing”. It also makes me think that I could whip up a number of custom styles in WORD to take care of that pesky script formatting… ;)

This, just like most of the information in this book, is invaluable, and proves that it is not only for the average reader, it is for the creator as well.

scattered thoughts

The monthly article Justin has been contributing to this comic is far from scattered. Often each article has quite a nice theme, with a bunch of valuable backstory. This one is no exception, of course. With articles like this, I have learned more about the industry, the craft and my heroes than any other publication that I have ever read.

This is all because awesome creators, such as Justin, take the time and effort to publish their thoughts, lessons learned, opinions, etc. - all in an effort to “get it off their chest”, I am sure… but also to HELP the industry. Remember, this book is all creator-owned heart.

In this not-so-scattered, scattered thoughts article, Justin discusses the importance of collaboration in comics creation, with a focus on the importance of COLOR. Just as Amanda discussed how important open communication with your editor is, Justin takes us through the benefits of solid direction within the script pages.

“You’re not just telling ‘your story’ and trying to entertain the reader.” - Justin Gray

He also takes the time to introduce RETROVIRUS, by way of an interesting “previous life” story involving the star of Jurassic Park (think amber, not The Fly… oh wait, that too. Okay, now I am getting lost in my own metaphors).


Directly following Justin’s article is a 6-page preview for the forthcoming Graphic Novel: RETROVIRUS (which I have advertised here - PRE-ORDER TODAY!)!


I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about this book. My excitment started all those long months ago, when I was introduced to both it and Kickstarter on the same day.

Kickstarter Project for RETROVIRUS

It was too late in the project to back it for my name in the book, but I did back it nonetheless.

I have included the cover image as part of this review, so you get a good look at the Amanda Conner art and familiarize yourself with the concept. I fully endorse this book (for what that is worth) and have asked my local comic shop to order many more copies than they were going to… I told them that if they didn’t sell, I would buy the extra copies. At $12.99, there is really no reason not to pick up this Hardcover by some of the greatest talent in the industry.

In Closing…

So, there you have it. All the reasons you need to buy this book. It should give you enough reasons to add it to your subscription AND hunt down the previous four issues (which are just as great). They are even available on Comixology (not a digital guy myself, but readership is readership). BTW - the first issue is FREE and 2-4 are $1.99… I do want to say that I would rather people support the book AND their local comic shop, but I understand…

Finally, check the back of this PRINT issue.


I have added an image for this book’s cover to this review as well. I want to increase awareness for this Hardcover by Jimmy & Justin as well. I pre-ordered it several months ago and have my copy. I fully intend on posting my review for it soon.


My Reviews for the AWESOME Series so far…


Follow @thanosrules on Twitter for more thanosrules Quick Reviews (#trqr) and listen to Stacks of Comics (@stacksofcomics) for all (okay, some of) your Comic Podcast needs!