UTF: My First Creator-Owned Comic Book

It’s been almost a decade since I launched UNDER THE FLESH on Kickstarter in 2014. My first ever comic book project. And boy, did I have a TON to learn. I want to thank everyone who supported UTF. Lord knows, where I am at now in this whole indie comic book endeavor thing, would not have been possible without that crucial support I’ve received with my first crowdfunding project. Although the UTF has been plagued by delays, cancellations, and partial abandonment, much of it having to do with my inexperience in handling a project with a supremely talented artist who just couldn’t commit to the project long term. It was hard for me to move on with another artist, something that’s not too uncommon in the world of mainstream comics nowadays, but for me, it was an obstacle that was extremely difficult to process and eventually overcome. I mean, after all, it has been 8 years. But alas, we are always still learning.

There have been ups with this project, but there has also been some major downs. Downs that still niggle away at me to this day. Hindsight is always 20/20, and if I can do it all over again, I most definitely would do things differently. But this blog entry isn’t about changing the past, it’s about reflection, and learning from my mistakes to synergize with the present and establish a future for UTF.

In full transparency, the main reason why UTF was on the shelf for so long after completing our first three issues, was because I wanted JL Giles, to remain as the artist for the project. We launched UTF in 2014, and after the completion of our second issue, his schedule became increasingly full with Marvel work, and he needed to focus on meeting those new project deadlines with Marvel. It’s cool that JL credits UTF for helping him get a foot in the door with Marvel, and I was always hopeful that he would be back to tackle UTF sometime soon. So in the meantime, I began working on creating other comic book projects to cement myself as an indie creator. I started with LAIR, then PISTOLERA, two awesome one-shots, before launching GALACTIC RODENTS of MAYHEM.

It wasn’t until after the success of my GROM Vol. 1 Indiegogo campaign, that JL reached back out to me after a spell, saying he had availability in his schedule to team up again in the name of comics. Naturally, I thought we’d be ramping it up with UTF, but instead, JL insisted that he wanted to draw a Lovecraftian horror-story. I ultimately settled on the idea and we came up with the CALL OF THE VOID label, which would be an anthological black & white horror comic. It’s not what I wanted, but I was up to the challenge and it sounded like fun. I figured after we complete the first 3-4 short stories, we’d take a break and then finally revive UTF. So we created our first two entries, THE DEEP DARK and BLACKHART MANOR, under the COV label. Some of my favorite comic book projects that I’ve ever written, and also some of the darkest.

After finishing those two stories with JL, I touched base with him to discuss the 3rd COV story, and that’s when I was blindsided with the upsetting news that JL did not want to continue on COV anymore. He wanted to focus most of his energy on the now booming NFT market. It was a crushing blow, and one that I can honestly say that I have felt before. It was UTF all over again.

So I’m finally doing something that I’ve should’ve done years ago, (yes, I can blame it on the naivete) but it’s actually better that I’m doing it now, after I have grown and grinded into the storyteller that I am today. It is FINALLY happening. I’m bringing back UTF, with an all-new awesome and talented artist: Debora Lancianese! I’m so blessed to have found Deb! Not only is she an incredible artist from Italy, but she is also super-invested in the UTF brand, and where we can take the story!

Below are some samples of her cover work and sequential work, so you can see that she has more than what it takes to continue UTF.



The beauty of reflection. I’ll never forget, it was my first ever comic con as a creator. Tampa Bay Comic Con, Aug 2019.

Someone came up to me at my table and said: I remember you. I backed your first book, Under The Flesh. I was so elated. I can’t explain the joy I felt. Talking to a fan who believed in my work, especially when I was at that con selling copies of LAIR and PISTOLERA. But it wasn’t long before utter sadness crept in. UTF was an awesome project with loads of potential that was horribly left incomplete. I knew in my heart that I’d bring back UTF, but my stubborn self was cinching that hope on an artist that could just not commit back.

Then, in promoting my GROM work through a news update on my original UTF Kickstarter profile, a backer responded to one of my updates saying how they get excited with each update, thinking UTF is finally coming back, but then never does. 

Well, it is official. UTF is finally coming back! I’m so sorry that it took so long, but in all honesty, the way it ultimately happened was absolutely necessary. 

Deb and I are already working on brand new UTF #1 & UTF #2 Covers, and then we’ll be tackling UTF #4. The script to that is already complete. We’re looking to launch our next UTF campaign this Summer. In the meantime, here’s a glimpse of some of Deb’s cover layouts.

I still think there’s lots of mileage and freshness to be had in the undead apocalypse genre, and I hope I’m able to win back my old UTF backers for that chance to show them.

Sometimes, the most valuable lesson that comes in growing as a creator, are the ones that hurt the longest. Every great story, has a story behind the story. All I can hope is that I’m still able to tell this one to an audience that will care about it.