spotlight

Monthly Spotlight: Lance Ward

Posted in spotlight on March 6th, 2019 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Monthly Spotlight: Lance Ward

“Monthly spotlight” is a recurring feature of this blog where once per month, I introduce you to the biography and creative work of some of my best friends and colleagues. Please take a moment to learn about them!

This month’s spotlight is on friend Lance Ward. In Lance’s own words…


“My name is Lance Ward. I am a cartoonist living in Minnesota. I never went to college or art school. In fact, I spent most of my twenties in and out of group homes and psychiatric wards. Kitchen work helped get me out of the system and gave me a handful of good friends. Other than the occasional newspaper cartoon, I was not a ‘cartoonist.’ I was a line cook, and I was okay with that. Then I met my future wife, and my whole outlook changed. I had something to live for; to strive for. Suddenly, my talent became a commodity that I could trade for the promise of a better future. It wasn’t until I met my wife that I had any focus on my artwork or cartooning, other than ‘Someday, when I’m ready, I am going to become a cartoonist.’ She became my motivation and my inspiration. That was back in 1997. I was 28 years old.”

“Flash forward to 2004. I was now a husband and a Father of three, and I was no closer to a cartooning career than I was back in 1997. But that was about to change. And that change came in the form a major heart attack that would actually kill me as I lay waiting for surgery. I saw the portal and everything. It profoundly changed my life. The subsequent diagnosis of only five years left to live changed my life as well. It sent me into a morose depression that crippled me as much as the three angioplasties crippled my right leg with nerve damage and constant neuropathic pain. The last year of that five year sentence I tried to kill myself, and when that didn’t work, I just lay in bed waiting for my heart to stop.”

Comics by Lance Ward

“Five years came and went. I was now 41 years of age, and it didn’t look like I was going to die any time soon, although it is in the back of my mind every day that my heart could stop at any time. My kids were getting older, and I felt bad for them as I saw other Fathers with their kids playing outside and having fun, while I could do none of that. Fuck it. It was time to use cartooning to tell my story. It was time to use the talent God gave me for something that my children could be proud of. Huge gamble starting a new career at age 41, but I had nothing to lose. I started with one page a day. Three months later I had an autobiographical account of my misery I called ‘Raw Dog’. I could do this. I was capable of following through and finishing a book. It was time to start another. That second book became ‘Klonko’. I shopped ‘Klonko’ around to publishers and was rejected every single time. But I kept going. I would eventually self publish that title. My third book, ‘Stovetop’, was completed three months later. One page a day until I had a solid one-hundred pages. That one would not get rejected, and would lead to much greater things.”

Comics by Lance Ward

“I have since been in ‘The Best American Comics’ twice. In 2014, I was granted an in-print notable mention for my book ‘Kmart Shoes’. In the 2016 edition, they gave me twenty-five pages. It debuted on the NY Times bestseller list at No. 1, and remained on the list for seventeen weeks. I could mention many more accolades, but the milestone I am most proud of is the completion of thirty books; a legacy of ambition for my children to look back on when they feel like life is wearing thin. My latest book, ‘Blood and Drugs’, will debut in September at the Small Press Expo (SPX) in Bethesda, Maryland.”

“Don’t give up. Great things can be accomplished even late in life. There is always time for change. I say ‘One page a day,’ but you can apply that to anything. Above all, keep going. Stay positive. Change is a given, and eventually things will go your way if you keep at it.”

Jin’s Note: Through Saturday, March 20th, 2019, Lance’s newest book “Blood and Drugs” is available with incentives through a Kickstarter campaign.

Blood and Drugs by Lance Ward

Learn more:
Lance Ward: Award-Winning Artist, Painter, and Comic
Lance Ward @ Facebook

Monthly Spotlight: Ben Cooper

Posted in spotlight on February 5th, 2019 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Monthly Spotlight: Ben Cooper

“Monthly spotlight” is a recurring feature of this blog where once per month, I introduce you to the biography and creative work of some of my best friends and colleagues. Please take a moment to learn about them!

This month’s spotlight is on friend Ben Cooper. In Ben’s own words…


“Photography is a lifelong passion for me. It gives me new perspectives on the world around me, and allows me to chronicle moments in time. It’s what I love to do.”

“While I enjoy photographing anything interesting, I am especially fascinated by rediscovering the world immediately around me. I grew up in the Twin Cities area and have lived in Minnesota for most of my life. (It’s Gray Duck!) I feel fortunate to live here: close to incredible arts, architecture, professional sports and city life, but still within reach of beautiful lakes, wildlife and nature. It’s this world near to me that comprises much of what I photograph. I started using my camera to preserve and capture some of the places and moments that are special about Minnesota, as well as discovering new ones. In the process I’ve gained amazing new perspectives on things close to me but often overlooked or taken for granted.”

Island Near Horseshoe Bay by Ben Cooper

“I try to learn something every time I use my camera, in terms of photography and the place or subject I’m shooting. Whether it’s long-exposure photography involving physical filters, old-school film photography, or creative lighting for a portrait shoot, I’m always trying to learn or perfect something and challenge myself. I try to capture what it is about a subject that fascinates me, so I can preserve and share it through photography. I love the idea that at some point after I’m gone, some of what I’ve created will live on.”

Twin Cities After Sunset by Ben Cooper

“I sell my work online through my website, shop.benrcooper.com, but I also do a lot of shows in the spring, summer and fall. I love doing indoor events like the St. Paul Art Crawl and Minneapolis Art-A-Whirl, but typically do several outdoor shows as well. Outdoor shows can be extremely challenging, especially when factoring in the weather elements, but it’s a great way to gain exposure and meet new people and prospective buyers. Currently, I’m gearing up for a more ambitious, somewhat abstract, film photography project with the goal of a possible grant and a future solo show.”

North Shore Sunrise by Ben Cooper

Learn more:
Ben R Cooper Photography
Ben R Cooper Photography @ Facebook
Ben R Cooper Photography @ Instagram
Ben R Cooper Photography @ Twitter

Monthly Spotlight: Mark Wise

Posted in spotlight on January 7th, 2019 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Monthly Spotlight: Mark Wise

“Monthly spotlight” is a recurring feature of this blog where once per month, I introduce you to the biography and creative work of some of my best friends and colleagues. Please take a moment to learn about them!

This month’s spotlight is on friend Mark Wise. In Mark’s own words…


“I’m a Graphic Designer, Illustrator, and Cartoonist. Probably in that order, though I’d love to flip that around. I’ve been drawing my whole life and I have always loved comics. Starting with the newspaper strips and later, at the age you’re supposed to grow out of comics, I fell in love with comic books. To this day I wear those early influences, like Todd McFarlane, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, on my sleeve.”

Coffee by Mark Wise

“In a nod to all the black and white indie comics I grew up with, probably my favorite style to work in is a high-contrast black and white style. Typically I will draw on bristol board and ink directly over my pencils using a dip pen and various brushes with India ink. When I do work in color, I prefer to use watercolors with my inks, or color the images digitally in Photoshop. Sometimes, depending on what the final image is going to be used for, I’ll even ‘ink’ digitally in Illustrator.”

Frankenstein's Monster by Mark Wise

“The past couple of years, this past year especially, I’ve done a pretty decent job getting my name out in the local Houston art scene. My art shows regularly at The Insomnia Gallery, and I have started getting a decent collection of merchandise made. One of my goals for the upcoming year, and moving forward is to get back into drawing sequential art again. Graphic design pays the bills. Illustration is getting me noticed in the local art scene, but my true love is still comics. So like I said at the beginning, I’m going to work to flip those three around.”

Robot Mascot by Mark Wise

Learn more:
Mark Wise Art
Mark Wise Art @ Facebook
Mark Wise Art @ Instagram
Mark Wise Art @ Twitter