Creator Spotlight: Doug Kallberg

Posted in spotlight on June 5th, 2019 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Creator Spotlight: Doug Kallberg

“Creator 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 spotlight is on friend Doug Kallberg. In Doug’s own words…

“Doug Kallberg is an illustrator, cartoonist, graphic designer, and painter. He draws inspiration from the likes of Bill Watterson, Will Eisner, and many more artists far more talented than he is.”

GOT Cover by Doug Kallberg

“Doug has been drawing Pandora’s Box for his company Free Range Studios for nearly ten years, and has produced comics of the strip between being the artist on The Kingdom of Loathing licensed comic book series by the gaming company of the same name. His books have been featured at San Diego Comic-con International, MCBA Conventions, The Walker Art Center, and have sold internationally.”

CON-Life by Doug Kallberg

“He has had his own business for over a decade doing illustration and graphics for contracts, making logos, material for print and web for various companies around the Minneapolis metro area and Minnesota including: The Monday Night Comedy Show, The Comedy Corner Underground, the 10,000 Laughs comedy festival, Stand Up! Records, Dangerous Man Brewing, Sisyphus Brewing and various local members of the Minneapolis comedy scene, as well as art for St. Paul Saint’s ‘Ushertainers.’ He currently resides in the farthest reaches of the twin cities with his wife and daughter.”

Pandora's Box by Doug Kallberg

Learn more:
Free Range Studios
Free Range Studios @ Facebook
Doug Kallberg @ Instagram

Creator Spotlight: Taya Ell

Posted in spotlight on May 5th, 2019 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Creator Spotlight: Taya Ell

“Creator spotlight” is a recurring feature of this blog where 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 spotlight is on friend Taya Ell. In Taya’s own words…

“My Name is Taya and I am the creator behind Zombie Cheshire Productions. I am an artist with many media I enjoy, and a new mother. I enjoy sculpting, drawing, and painting mainly but I also dabble in resin and crystal garden crafting. My creations are usually a mix of creepy-cute, fantasy, and super nerdy. I take a lot of inspiration from my favorite books and video games such as the ‘Final Fantasy’ and ‘Legend of Zelda’ series.”

“I grew up drawing all sorts of things. The first I was ever able to draw decently well was old cars when I was pretty young. Then I discovered video games and anime which influenced my art style and helped me grow immensely. Over time I slowly transitioned to my current style after art classes and figuring out how to use references. I am only where I am today with my drawing and painting due to lots of practice.”

Dragon Sculpture by Taya Ell

“At a young age I also discovered cosplay and have been cosplaying for over 10 years now. I really love costume building and the creative process behind it all. My favorite cosplay build has been my Steam Punk Moogle cosplay from the ‘Final Fantasy’ series (pictured below) where I created the whole dress, head piece, and wings with help from some rather creative friends of mine. I mainly cosplay from video games since they have had such a big influence on my life.”

Steam Punk Moogle Cosplay by Taya Ell

“Over the years I added sculpting and resin crafting to my repertoire of crafts. I especially love sculpting dragons and have plans to create many more through the years. I love incorporating crystals into my sculptures where I can because I feel like it adds something special to each piece. With resin I get to experiment with my creepy-cute side and play with ALL THE GLITTER, AKA the bane of a crafter’s existence. I really enjoy it as a medium though and it allows me to create some truly awesome stuff.”

“In my spare time (when I am not creating things) I enjoy reading, playing my favorite RPGs (role playing games), and spending time with my small little family. I love sharing my creativity with the world and can’t wait to share it with my little one. On that note though, I am going to wrap this up. Thank you for reading and learning about me and my art. Stay Crafty my friends!”

Painting by Taya Ell

Learn more:
Zombie Cheshire Productions @ DeviantArt
Zombie Cheshire Productions @ Facebook
Zombie Cheshire Productions @ Instagram
Zombie Cheshire Productions @ Twitter

Creator Spotlight: Bob Lipski

Posted in spotlight on April 4th, 2019 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Creator Spotlight: Bob Lipski

“Creator spotlight” is a recurring feature of this blog where 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 spotlight is on friend Bob Lipski. In Bob’s own words…

“My name is Bob Lipski and I have been making comics in the Twin Cities since roughly 2001. I grew up reading comics; mostly ‘Peanuts,’ ‘Archie,’ and of course, ‘Calvin and Hobbes.’ I was obsessed with Batman and the X-Men in Junior High, but when I got to High School I discovered ‘Sandman’ by Neil Gaiman and was hooked on non-superhero stuff for a long time. I stopped reading comics when ‘Sandman’ wrapped up, and I thought I was done with them. But when I was in my 20s I got a part-time job at DreamHaven Books, and discovered comics all over again. This time I was drawn to James Kochalka, Alex Robinson, and Julie Doucet. I was amazed at the auto-biographical stuff that Adrian Tomine was doing, and thought I could take a crack at making my own comics. I always liked to draw but this was a new adventure.”

Cover of Uptown Girl by Bob Lipski

“My first comic was a simple, one-page quasi-biographical thing called ‘Fake Farm Landscape.’ Really different than the stuff I do now, but it was stuff about me growing up and stupid stuff I did. I learned a lot about panel structure and balloon placement. I published it on the Internet and did that for a while; maybe a year, maybe longer. I got tired of talking about myself and started a new comic called ‘Uptown Girl.’ It was set in Minneapolis, about a plucky young reporter, and was in the spirit of ‘Archie’ comics and ‘Seinfeld.’ I self-published it monthly for 75 issues. I loved doing that comic. The monthly schedule was a grind. I was inspired by books by Kevin Cannon, and I wanted to up my art game. My wife and I just had our second child, and it was a good time to step away from the monthly schedule, spend more time with my family, and more time making comics instead of spending every Saturday at Kinkos. I went on to publish five original ‘Uptown Girl’ graphic novels (and one retrospective) before wrapping up the series. All in all, I made ‘Uptown Girl’ stories for around 13 years.”

Comics by Bob Lipski

“In 2015 I launched my current comic, ‘The Incredible Retros,’ which I publish five times a week. It’s about a team of superheroes fighting villains in the year 2438. It is very much a mash-up of X-Men and ‘The Simpsons,’ I think. Epic adventures with funny dialogue. I think it’s funny, anyway. I am also working on a new stand-alone graphic novel called ‘Norah Locke’ and it’s pretty much ‘The Legend of Zelda’ but set in White Bear Lake where I live. It’s going to be like 500 pages, and I hope to finish it before I die.”

“So that’s me. I have a wonderful wife and two great kids. It’s a better life than I thought I would ever have.”

Jin’s Note: Through Tuesday, April 30th, 2019, The Retros second print-copy volume “Secret Identity” is available through a Kickstarter campaign.

Comics by Bob Lipski

Learn more:
The Retros
The Retros @ Facebook
Bob Lipski @ WordPress
Bob Lipski @ Instagram
Bob Lipski @ Twitter

Creator Spotlight: Lance Ward

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

“Creator spotlight” is a recurring feature of this blog where 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 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

Creator Spotlight: Ben Cooper

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

“Creator 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 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,, 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