Tag Archives: art

Release the Counter Monkeys!


Our own Shawn Skvarna is with Jesse Arnold at the Baltimore Comic Con to launch Counter Monkey Comics! Jesse is unveiling the first two issues of his new comic Sock Drawer, while Shawn will be signing prints and copies of our books. The first print is the “Authentic Print” and it’s a tribute to our friend Mark Ruelius. Part of the proceeds from the print will be donated to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation in Mark’s name.


If you cant make it to the con you can purchase a copy of the print here. The second print is a Con exclusive character poster for Failsafe, which is the comic that Shawn and I are working on.


Prints will be available for sale in our online store after the con. If you’re in the Baltimore area and are planning on going to the con, be sure to drop in on Shawn and Jesse!

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Quick Update: What We’ve Been Up To


It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything and I apologize for that. Shawn and I have both been busy in our respective wheelhouses. Shawn has been gearing up for the Baltimore Comic Con next weekend, where he’ll be selling the print featured above as well as the first character print for our upcoming comic Failsafe. Since that print is a con exclusive I won’t be able to share it with you just yet. I’ve been working hard on a new novel, and I think I’m far enough along in it that I can share a little about it. I’ve written 4 books at this point. (5 if you count both Chosen books). I’ve learned a lot over the process of writing each of those books, and I’ve very proud of what I’ve accomplished. I think they’re all decent stories, and they’ve allowed me to play in different genres and try out different storytelling approaches. I decided that it was time to try my luck with traditional publishing- which means not only writing a 70,000 word novel but also trying to snag an agent and go through the whole fun rejection process.

I have a mystery novel that I’ve got planned out and have about 1/3rd written. I love the idea and I enjoy the story, but it’s not the kind of book I want to write on a regular basis, so I decided to shelve it for now. My favorite genre is urban fantasy. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher is my favorite series of all time. I really love Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter and Grimnoir novels, Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series, and Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid novels as well. I’ve really wanted to do something in this genre, and You Only Die Twice was my attempt at testing the waters in a sci-fi setting. This new novel is my take on a more “traditional” urban fantasy series. The protagonist is female, which I felt was important because there aren’t a ton of kick-ass female protagonists in the genre. Most of the books that do feature a female protagonist as the main character tend to degenerate into borderline romance novels with an urban fantasy garnish. That’s not something I’m interested in writing. I wanted to write a legitimately kick ass female main character that people, regardless of gender, would love, but particularly that female readers could be inspired by. I have what I think is a pretty cool magical system in place based around the manipulation of the 5 elements: Earth, Air, Water, Fire, & Spirit, & inspired partially by Avatar: The Last Airbender (the quality cartoon series, not the crappy movie) because they did some really cool, creative things with how those elements (not counting spirit) could be used. I’m also a history buff, and I love it when sci-fi or fantasy stories try to tie history in with their world building and offer alternate explanations for things (Like Stargate, where the Egyptians gods were actually aliens for example), so I try to do that in this series as well. Basically I’m trying to write the kind of book I love to read, and hopefully people will agree with me. My goal is to have the rough draft finished in the next few months with a final draft ready to shop around to agents by the end of the year. I’ll be looking for test readers soon, so if you’re interested shoot me a message and let me know.

Anyway, that’s pretty much where we’re at right now. Once Shawn gets back from the Con and has some much-deserved down time we’ll be starting on getting Failsafe into gear. Our goal is to have the first storyline done in time for the con next year. We’ll have the con print, test sketches, previews, etc. here as we’ve got stuff to share for those who are interested in following the progress.

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Authentic Print Now Available


This is one of three prints by Shawn Skvarna that will be available this year at the Baltimore Comic Con on September 7th and 8th, but you can purchase a copy now in our Society6 store.

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Filed under Artwork Showcase

Support Our Comic Monkeys!


Shawn has updated the Counter Monkey Comics kickstarter page with a look at one of the many great things you can expect from them at the Baltimore Comic Con launch this year. This is a beautiful print that I’ve had as my desktop background on both my PC and my iPhone for a few weeks now. For those who may not be in the know, Counter Monkey Comics is the comic brand that my partner in crime Shawn Skvarna is launching with his childhood friend, and another talented artist, Jesse Arnold. The comic that Shawn and I are doing, Failsafe, will launch under this brand, as will whatever other crazy things we happen to come up with after that. Please take a few moments and check out their Kickstarter page and the goal bundles. There’s a lot of cool stuff there and the campaign only has 5 days left. One of the bundles they’re offering is the Authentic Bundle. In that bundle you’ll get all 5 of our books in paperback and autographed by both myself and Shawn, who did all the cover artwork. I’ll even go one step further, even though it’s not listed on the page, and I’ll personalize the autograph as well for those who choose that bundle. So please, take a few moments and check it out. Any support you could give would be awesome.

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Failsafe Character Sketches

Failsafe banner

Here’s the first batch of character sketches for our new comic Failsafe, just to whet your appetite a bit. This is the main cast how they’ll look at the beginning of the story (as of right now). These are basically concept sketches, so things could change between now and the first issue, but odds are good this is pretty much how the finished product will look. Shawn talks a bit about the comic in the kickstarter video he and Jessie did. Be sure to check it out.

Mark and Evyn (Evy, for short) are twins. They’re also the children of former superheroes (though they don’t know that at first).

Mark is a former marine and is now a nurse. He cares a lot about people and wants to help where he can, sometimes to the detriment of himself. Personality-wise he’s like a combination of Clark Kent and Peter Parker.

Evyn is strong, intelligent, and in many ways becomes the unofficial leader of the group. She’s also a very talented artist but struggles with self confidence.


Copyright © J.R. Broadwater & Shawn Skvarna 2012-2013

All rights reserved

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By the power of…

There’s something to be said about the magic and wonder of childhood.

When I was really little there were certain things I gravitated toward, some of which my mom has the credit of opening my eyes to like Superman, Spider-Man and Star Wars. Then there’s other things you discover for yourself. Masters of the Universe was one of those things for me. While I don’t remember every detail about my geekdom for MOTU, I do remember that He-Man was one of the first toys my mom let me get because I asked. I remember the packaging, the logo, the figures themselves being something to spark my imagination. I’d stare at the artwork on packages like Castle Grayskull, Battle Cat and Point Dread and think of the world of Eternia, the battles fought there, the mysteries laying in wait just behind the drawbridge of Castle Grayskull, and the way that science and sorcery went hand in hand to aid in these epic dreams and imaginings.

I do remember when the Filmation cartoon, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, hit in the early 80s. I was in kindergarten and when my mom picked me up that afternoon, I ran home so quickly because I didn’t want to miss a second of my favorite fantasy action hero in full color glory on the family TV. From the opening moments of the title card showing up on the screen to that awe inspiring transformation of Prince Adam into He-Man, to say I was hooked would be a grave understatement. To this day I still love the theme song (and honestly if I’m doing something that’s a challenge I still hear the song in the back of my mind, ask my neighbor the day he was moving out of his old apartment and I was the one manhandling his couch into the dumpster) but the moment that brings me back to being a child again is the moment when Prince Adam needs to raise the power sword to become He-Man. Yes, I’m aware that that moment is very similar to Captain Marvel’s SHAZAM! transformation. But never did Captain Marvel have that badass theme song, nor did he transform a fraidy cat into Battle Cat to ride into the fray and take care of business.

When I was a child the planet of Eternia was a place for my imagination to run wild, which is why the adult version of me decided to take a little trip back there. As a child I couldn’t understand why adults lose track of what made them happy when they were kids. But once life’s tsunamis can crash into you as you grow up and your parents aren’t there to buffer the storms like when you were little, I started to see how it’s easy to lose track of those childhood favorites, focusing on reality, focusing on the task at hand. Even though I’m going to be becoming a husband and I’ve already become a father, I’ve got too much Peter Pan in me to make me not want to completely grow up no matter what.  That’s why this trip to Eternia was important for me.

Working on this piece has inspired me to revisit a lot of my favorites from childhood and do my own take on them. So there might be some more He-Man images in the future. There’s also going to be Thundercats, Ghostbusters, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and many others. The goal of this is just to have fun and reignite that passion that these various shows/toy lines ignited in me well over 25 years ago. Hopefully I’ll find some oldies but goodies, with a few surprises along the way. And feel free to throw a few other ideas out there for pieces that might be fun to do, as time allows. Until next time…


He-Man and Masters of the Universe are owned by Mattel. Authentic Productions Entertainment and Shawn Skvarna do NOT own these properties, though Shawn Skvarna wishes he did. All rights reserved. Shawn Skvarna is the cover artist for the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective,  the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, and the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1- all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here.

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