Thursday, April 30, 2009


If you're not following Paul Grist's online comic, do yourself a favor and go check it out. I've been a fan of Paul's since his work with Steven T. Seagle on GRENDEL TALES, and his KANE series is better than any cop show on TV today. Not to mention ST. SWITHIN'S DAY, his collaboration with Grant Morrison, which heavily influenced my early work at Caliber.

And while I don't hang a lot of art up in my office, one of the few things I DO have is a signed KANE poster. No matter how times I move house, I always hang that framed poster right above my art desk where I can see it every time I look up.

I guess you can say I'm a bit of a fan.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Free Comic Book Day 2009

Just a reminder that I'll be appearing at the EXCELLENT ADVENTURES comic book shop this Saturday for FREE COMIC BOOK DAY, along with Todd Dezago and some special costumed guests. Stop on by if you're in the area and support a great local retailer.

From the Files: FRANK 2

Lots of things developing on the comic book project front. Nothing I can talk about, but conversations are being had and fingers are being crossed. With so many things in the pipeline, one of them is bound to come together soon. Meanwhile, here's another glimpse at some of the presentation art from FRANK. I put this piece together as an antidote to the static image I posted yesterday. Nothing says 'publish my book' quite as well as a couple of tank guns, broken windows, and smoke.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

From The Files: FRANK 1

One more post of art from my old files while I ink an issue of my sadly still secret project. This time, I'm putting up a presentation piece for a Young Adult comic book pitch I developed a couple of years ago called FRANK. Yet another project that I put aside when I decided to focus all of my efforts into the FADE novel. I may still revise the FRANK concept at some point, so I don't want to give away the premise, but suffice it to say the name FRANK was not chosen at random.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Twilight, Fenchurch, and Ryan Robbins

More deadline racing, but having posted two pages from the abandoned TWILIGHT & FENCHURCH story, I thought I'd put up those same pages as colored by my friend Ryan Robbins.

I've been watching Ryan develop as an artist over the last few years, and he's gotten a lot better with a computer than I'll ever be.
And he's a good guy, too. Ryan's helped out more than a few times as the unofficial Matthew Dow Smith convention booth crew.

Again, I really need to get those guys t-shirts or something.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

From The Files: MIRROR'S EDGE

I've gotten a few requests to see some of my prep work for MIRROR'S EDGE, so I thought I'd put up one of the pinup pieces I put together when Wildstorm asked me to try out for the gig. The final version will probably end up as bonus material in an MIRROR'S EDGE collection (if they decide to do one, of course), but here's a peek at the pencils.

I don't normally fill in the shadow areas during the penciling process (takes way too much time and I get smudges everywhere), but I was trying to impress everybody. Seems to have worked. I ended up getting the job.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

From The Files: Twilight & Fenchurch 2

Since I'll be offline most of tomorrow while I wrap up another stack of pencils for my current project, I thought I'd post another page from the aborted TWILIGHT & FENCHURCH short story.

For anyone who's interested, the title of this was "The Black Pearl of Askotha" and revolved around an attempt to steal an occult artifact that had the power to unleash a terrible threat to all of humanity. Giant tentacled monsters were mentioned as a possible side effect.

As I said, it wasn't the most original of ideas, but it was kind of fun, and I liked the little twist that was going to pop up in the end. And no, I won't tell you what the twist is, just in case I really do end up using this idea later on down the road...

Monday, April 20, 2009


More art from the files as I race along on my current project. This time it's a page from a TWILIGHT & FENCHURCH short story I began for NEGATIVE BURN, but abandoned about halfway in.

I liked the characters, I liked the idea, and I thought the story had a decent little twist in it, but after a few pages, it was starting to feel a little too much like a pale imitation of HELLBOY and LONSTER JOHNSON. So I set the pages I'd drawn aside and started work on something a little more personal, which ended up being the first FADE short story, published in NEGATIVE BURN #1.

I might still try to do something with this story someday, but it'll have to wait until I can find something new to say about Pulp heroes and big monsters with tentacles.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Coming Soon

And here's the first look at the new edition of F. Paul Wilson's THE KEEP being put out by French publisher Dagon Editions. I can't read French, so I'm not sure what any of the text on the page means, but I like the cover they put together.

Work In Progress: THE HUNGER

Here's a sneak peek at my illustration for the new edition of THE HUNGER, coming soon from Borderlands Press. It's my first attempt at coloring on the computer (not to mention my first attempt at a real book cover), and I'm curious to see what everyone will think of the final design when it's finished.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Now Online

We've just added the first story to the the "STORIES" page on my website. Still experimenting with the best way for people to see them, but we've put the first one up as a PDF that you can download or open in your browser. This inaugural story is my first Fade short, published in NEGATIVE BURN (vol.2) #1. We'll be adding more stories as time goes on, but let me know what you think of the first one.

Recommended Reading

by Mark Chiarello and Todd Klein

I usually avoid 'how-to' books like the plague. More often than not, they're not very helpful and say more about how the author thinks everyone should write or draw than giving you useful tips for finding your own way through the minefield of creativity.

(Two exceptions, at least on the writing front -- Ray Bradbury's ZEN AND THE ART OF WRITING, which is more about finding inspiration than the actual mechanics of writing, and Tom Monteleone's COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO WRITING A NOVEL, which is both useful AND highly entertaining.)

Having said all that, when I sat down to figure out to color things on a computer, I had no idea where to start, and the couple of tutorials I found on the web weren't really geared towards the kind of things I had in mind, so I did the unthinkable and went out to buy a 'how-to' book.

Which is more or less how I ended up with a copy of THE DC COMICS GUIDE TO COLORING AND LETTERING. Nothing against Todd Klein (my second favorite comic book letterer after John Workman), but I picked this one up for Mark Chiarello and his advice on coloring. Mark is an unbelievable artist in his own right, and if you doubt me, look at any of the stunning covers he's done for DC Comics, where he serves as Art Director.

Mark breaks down the process of modern comic book coloring in the kind of clear, straight-forward language that even a color-ignoramus like me can understand. And his step-by-step instructions on preparing art for the computer are comprehensive and invaluable. Not to mention the book is filled with some stunning artwork from guys like Adam Hughes and John Paul Leon.

So while I don't usually recommend reading 'how-to' books, I have to say this one turned out to be incredibly useful.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Twittering Away The Time

After mercilessly mocking everyone I know who 'tweets', I set up my own twitter stream. Not sure I'll have much to say, but if you want to follow me, go to or click on the 'follow me on twitter' link in my gadget bar.

UPDATE: And since I'm finally accepting all of this technology, now I'm on Facebook, too.

From The Files: THE KEEP

Still working on my secret project, so I thought I'd put up another piece of art from my files.

Dagon Editions, a graphic novel publisher in France, is putting together a new edition of F. Paul Wilson's THE KEEP and wanted some bonus materials to help make this edition as complete as possible.

I pulled everything I could find out of the boxes in my office and scanned them for the Dragon Editions guys, but going through my old computer files, I came across the presentation piece I put together to sell Paul and IDW on the idea of doing the project.

I don't usually like seeing my work once it's done and sent out, but I still kind of like this piece. It turned out more or less the way I had planned, which is pretty rare for me.

I gave the original art to FPW a little while ago, but I'm glad I still have a scan of it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Art For Sale

It's that special time of year... tax time. And for freelancers, it's an extra special time. That time when we look at our tax bill, look at the amount of original art sitting in boxes, and think yeah... I should probably sell some of that.

So... I've got original black & white Matthew Dow Smith art for sale -- pages from all six issues of SUPERNATURAL: ORIGINS, all six issues of MIRROR'S EDGE, and issue 5 of STORMWATCH: PHD. And there are a few other random one-off things I may be able to dig out.

If anyone's interested, you can email me at or and I'll let you know the pricing. In general, prices range from $50 for a multi-panel page and $100 for a full splash page.

Let me know what you're looking for and I'll see if I've still got it. And good luck with tax season, everyone

Saturday, April 11, 2009

From The Files: The October Girl

Since I can't post anything I've been working on this week (between the rights issues and the secrecy of the project, that would BAD), I thought I'd put up an older piece that never saw the light of day.

When I first started thinking about writing a novel, I was pretty sure it would be called THE OCTOBER GIRL, and feature a character called Autumn (pictured above). I got about halfway into the book before realizing it was just an Evan Fade novel without Evan in it. So after a lot of soul-searching, I abandoned the draft I was working on and folded her into my plans for a FADE novel.

At some point in that process, I considered pitching THE OCTOBER GIRL as a graphic novel that would tie into FADE. I even worked up a couple of presentation pieces, including this one. But as the FADE novel began to come together, it became clear that Autumn was more important to Evan's story than I had originally planned, so I had to abandon the graphic novel idea as well.

Still kind of like this illustration, though.

On Shelves Now


Looks like the last issue of our MIRROR'S EDGE mini-series has hit the shelves, complete with an incredible cover by Niko Henrickson (see cool illustration to the left). Once again, I'd like to say how great it was working with these people. My third project in a row at Wildstorm, and hopefully not the last.

From the DC website:

"In order to save what's left of her family, Faith must break into the headquarters of the city's premier security firm. To add to the difficulty, she must then break out. If she's caught, it could mean the end for everybody. In the finale of the miniseries event written by famed game writer Rhianna Pratchett and illustrated by Matthew Dow Smith (SUPERNATURAL: ORIGINS) we conclude this adventure further fleshing out the incredible video game world!"

Now Playing

by Stephen King

Still listening to audiobooks while I work. This time, I thought I'd finally give CELL a listen. Downloaded it a while back from iTunes, but my mood shifted and I needed to listen to something a little less post-apocalyptic.

I have kind of a strange history with this book. It's the first Stephen King novel I didn't finish reading. As a life long fan, I can't think of any King book that I didn't devour within 24 hours, but this one just didn't hold me. I put it down about halfway through and moved on to other things.

Strangely, I've done the same thing with all of his books that came after CELL. Just couldn't get through them. Not sure if my interests changed (I have been a little burned out on traditional horror novels for the last year or so), or if maybe King's writing just isn't holding my attention the way it used to.

Either way, I became determined to finish those books, even if that meant listening to them on audio. I listened to all of DUMA KEY while working on the last issue of MIRROR'S EDGE, and I've got the audio version of LISEY'S STORY in my car, buried under some Radiohead CDs.

(Still can't get into LISEY'S. I keep losing interest at the same point, even on audio. Right at the end of the first section, which is a prolonged flashback. Loses me every time. I'll have to make it past that point one of these days. I'm sure there's lots of interesting stuff later on.)

I'm about 3/4s of the way through CELL now. Further than I made it through the actual book. Still not resonating with much as his earlier works like SALEM'S LOT and BAG OF BONES (which has to be one of his best, in my opinion), but I haven't lost interest in it, yet.

Though I have to say, I kind of wish King was reading this one himself. I'm kind of funny about that. I prefer hearing the author reading the book. Not sure why. They don't do fancy voices or anything, but it's more interesting to hear the writer read their own words. Just brings a little extra something to the table.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Free Comic Book Day 2009 - UPDATED

I'll be appearing at Excellent Adventures Comics in Ballston Spa, NY on May 2nd for the annual Free Comic Book Day. For those of you who don't know, this has been going on across the country for a few years now as a way to bring customers into comic shops. Various companies give out special free comics to promote their books and a lot of shops set up signings from local artists.

This year, Excellent Adventures will be hosting me and writer Todd Dezago (of SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN and TELLOS fame). So if you're going to be in the area, stop on by and support a great local comic book store.

And since it is a Free Comic Book Day event, I may have to dig through my boxes of comp copies and find some things to give away. Any requests?

UPDATE: In my ongoing gleeful promotion of my friend Dan Waters, he will also be making an appearance around the same time in Massachusetts to promote the paperback edition of GENERATION DEAD. I would encourage everyone in New England to show up and ask him how his ongoing war against the Yeti invasion is going (don't ask, it's one of those annoying inside jokes).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

On The Nightstand

by F. Paul Wilson

I'm knee deep in my new secret project (which is going great now that I'm getting over my nervousness at even being involved with this character), so there hasn't been a lot of free time to keep up with my reading.

Still, couldn't pass up F. Paul Wilson's latest collection of short stories. Sadly, he says it will be his last, which is a shame. I love his short stories. Maybe not as much as his Repairman Jack novels, or the other books in his Adversary Cycle, but it's a little like deciding who your favorite Doctor Who is. I like them all for different reasons.

And I'm one of those annoying readers who loves reading about the stories -- where they came from, how he got them published, and all that. Luckily, FPW does his usual in-depth job of detailing the background for each of the stories in this collection and what was going on in his career when he wrote them. He even takes a swipe at the people who have told him they like these little bonus essays as much as his stories. Yeah, I'm probably one of those people. What can I say? I find the back story to the story absolutely fascinating.

(I even scored a mention in his rundown for 2004. Took me completely by surprise while I was reading. As such a big fan of Paul's work, it's a not-so-secret thrill to be mentioned in one of his books. Almost as cool as having gotten a chance to work with him.)

I've read a lot of the stories in this collection before (in the various anthologies where they originally appeared... told you I was a fan), but there's enough new here to have me pretty excited. The title story, "Aftershock", is a real standout, as is "Sole Custody". There's even a Repairman Jack short story I hadn't read, "Interlude at Duane's".

Of course, even if I'd read ALL of the stories before, I'd still pick up this collection. For the bonus essays, of course. Sorry, Paul. They're just really interesting.

Monday, April 6, 2009

My Favorite Things

Years ago, when I first started working at Borders, I spent a lot of time organizing the Horror section. Mostly because it gave me a chance to look at all the new books coming in and decide if I wanted to pick them up for myself.

(Side note: by the time I left that particular Borders, our Horror sales were through the roof. I've always wondered how much of that was due to my own purchases and how much was due to the fact that it was the best organized/best looking section in the whole store.)

One title I came across time and time again was British author Kim Newman's ANNO DRACULA. It sounded interesting, but I was kind of burned out on vampire books at that point so I never really took the plunge.

A few years later, I was reading one of the endless number of Horror anthologies edited by Stephen Jones and came across a story that really knocked the wind out of me. It had everything I liked -- good characters, a surprising plot, and a fun pulpy feel that hit close to home. The author of that story? Kim Newman.

(Another side note -- Stephen Jones has introduced me to a lot of really great authors I'd never heard of before. There's one or two sparkly new diamonds in almost every anthology he's ever edited.)

As usual, I ran out and bought everything Kim Newman has ever written. It was harder now, since Newman's novels had fallen out of print here in the States, but between online sellers and used book stores, I managed to get a hold of everything he's done.

And man, I really should have picked him up earlier. Not only would it have been easier (still kicking myself for not buying one of those many copies of ANNO DRACULA that passed through my old Horror section), but my life would have been richer if I'd discovered his unique brand of sophisticated Pulp Horror just a little sooner.

Newman does something that I've always wanted to do, but never been able to pull off -- mixing the fun of Pulps with the serious themes and sophisticated plotting of more modern storytelling. I'd still like to do my own homage to Pulps some day. But I doubt I'd ever do it as well as Kim Newman.

And one of my usual annoying personal notes: I got to meet Kim Newman at the Saratoga Springs World Fantasy Convention a few years back, and despite my blushing, jabbering, nervousness at meeting one of my heroes, he was very nice to me. We even got to talk about Doctor Who a bit, which was nice, especially since we shared the same views about the then-current Series Three.

Yep. Talking Doctor Who with one of my writing heroes. I'm a nerd. And proud of it.

Albany Comic Con

Still recovering from the Albany Comic Con. Long day of talking to fans and signing books. We had a great turnout this year. Every time I do this show it gets a little bigger.

Some random highlights:

-- Having breakfast with my old friend Ron Marz and longtime fan and buddy Ray Blanco. Ray's been a big supporter of my work since the Crossgen days, but we've never met face to face. It was great to finally meet him.

-- Getting a signed copy of Fred Hembeck's massive omnibus collection. Great guy. Love his work.

-- Hanging out with my Saratoga buddies Ryan Robbins and Jonathan Stanley. They covered my table whenever I needed a break. Thanks, guys. Next year, I'm getting them Matthew Dow Smith booth team t-shirts.

-- Having my parents show up randomly, despite the fact that my mother is in a wheelchair because she broke her ankle.

-- Chatting with our crew of local artists like Joe St. Pierre and John Herbert. Always nice to see the gang. Bill Anderson was there too, but I didn't get much of a chance to chat.

-- Meeting a boatload of fans, and hopefully making a few new ones.

All in all it was another great show. Thanks to everybody who came by to say hello and get their comics signed. And anyone who wanted a sketch, drop me an email and I'll hook you up. Still can't get the hang of doing them out shows, but I'm always happy to do them at home and send them to you.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My Favorite Things

There's a small group of artists who make me want to give up drawing and just stick with the writing. I look at their work and think, "Yeah... I'm never gonna be THAT good...".

For the record, the top four people on that list are Tommy Lee Edwards, Michael Gaydos, John Paul Leon, and Ashley Wood.

The fifth person on the list is Sean Phillips.

I've been following Phillips since his first fill-in issue for HELLBLAZER. And back when I used to daydream about writing that book, Phillips was always my first choice for artist. The funny thing is that Sean Phillips did end up taking over HELLBLAZER (with the great Eddie Campbell as writer for the first four issues) in the late 90s, and somewhere in there Sean went from being a GOOD artist to being a GREAT artist. I can even pinpoint the exact issue where it happened (his second). Without any warning, Phillips loosened up his lines and created a whole new look for his art that just blew me away. Still blows me away, actually.

A few years later, when I was living in L.A. and playing bass in Joe Casey's band THE SELLOUTS, I used to show up for rehearsal to find stacks of xeroxed pages for Joe and Sean's WILDCATS run. I think this was probably the point where I went from admiration to pure jealousy. The pages were not only beautiful, but there were so many of them. Phillips was churning out work faster than I thought possible. And it all looked so damned GOOD.

Since then, Phillips has really taken off. He did a lot of UNCANNY X-MEN, the amazing SLEEPER for Wildstorm, MARVEL ZOMBIES, and now CRIMINAL and INCOGNITO at Marvel. And his work has gotten even better and more sophisticated with each new project.

I don't really go into comic shops that much anymore, so I've picked up most of Sean's newer work in trade paperback form from my local Borders. They sit in a stack on top of the bookshelf next to my art table, and whenever I'm feeling too good about myself as an artist, I open one up for a reminder of how far I have to go.

On a personal note, I sent Sean a fan email a few years ago and told him that I had his WILDCATS issues open for inspiration while I was drawing the NIGHTCRAWLER mini-series, and he kindly wrote me back to say that he had my NIGHTCRAWLER open while he was working on UNCANNY X-MEN.

So he's unbelievably talented AND nice. Not to mention he can paint. Yeah... there's just no way I could even compete.