Sunday, August 28, 2011

What the Fountain of Youth Means to a Jellyfish

Photo from National Geographic
Immortality is the stuff of legend, right? Not for this hydrozoan, the only known animal that can potentially live forever. There's a big catch though: to do so it must repeatedly revert back to an earlier stage through a process known as transdifferentiation. What happens is this: the adult medusa stage of Turritopsis nutricula actually becomes a polyp, kind of like an adult human becoming an embryo. Every cell in its body is changed. In essence it can age backwards and forwards over and over again. No laboratory evidence exists yet to show that this can go on forever, but so far there has been no evidence found that puts an upper limit on the number of times it can happen either.

Illustration from DevBio
Most of the time, of course, they reproduce like any other jellyfish: through the meeting of free floating sperm and egg. But when times are tough the weirdness takes over. Whole colonies can grow from just one backwards-aging medusa.

Times have been tough a lot lately it seems. These oddballs of the deep have been reported from across the world's oceans, far removed from their native Caribbean home. Numbers are spiking worldwide. Don't expect to go to the beach and see rafts of them though. Even a huge Turritopsis is no bigger than a human pinky nail.  And don't confuse immortality with indestructibility. These critters are just as susceptible to death from predation, disease, and bad luck as the next metazoan. They just won't die of old age. Which is, truth be told, very different from the next metazoan.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes!

Now it can be told! The big project Gabriel Hardman and I have been working on, the one that had me constantly battling my spell checker over "gorilla soldier" vs "guerilla soldier", has been announced! We couldn't be more excited to be working on a Planet of the Apes miniseries for BOOM! Comics. Coming to a retailer near you in November:


Gabriel and I are co-writing it, with art by Gabriel and colors by the lovely and talented Jordie Bellaire.

Want to read more? There's a sneak peak at one of our main characters over at iFanboy. And you can check out Comic Book Resource's interview with Gabriel and me too. Everyone involved is a huge fan of all things Planet of the Apes, and we hope it shows. We also hope you'll ask your LCS (that's local comic shop, for the uninitiated) to order Betrayal this week. Do it now, then bask in the glow of Apes action in November!

Monday, August 22, 2011

International Vulture Awareness Day

What are you doing for International Vulture Awareness Day 2011? Nothing, you say? Well, better start planning. There are only two weeks left before September 3rd.

Vultures have traditionally had a contentious relationship with humans. They preform a valuable service, cleaning up things we definitely don't want to, and yet they have unfairly been painted as harbingers of death in many cultures. Yes, they eat dead things. But then again, so do our pets. Most of us do too, for that matter. The difference is that vultures haven't killed what they eat. But they do eat it in a rather ostentatious manner.

Why should you care about vultures? For one thing, they're an important part of most ecosystems. In the U.S., during the 50s and 60s, turkey vultures were poisoned and shot. Their numbers plummeted. Why? because people assumed that they spread diseases and bad luck. Turns out, the complete opposite was true. Thankfully, we now have more enlightened policies about vultures in this country, and their numbers have rebounded.

That doesn't mean that vultures are out of the woods though. Around the world they are under threat from pesticides, wind turbines, hunting, and just plain ignorance. It's a sad situation, and one that gets very little press. Most people know that tigers are in trouble, but how many know that Egyptian vultures could be gone within the decade? And yet, a man in Spain is currently being prosecuted for deliberately poisoning one. Would he have done that if he knew how rare and valuable they are?

Want to help vultures? You can visit the International Vulture Awareness page to find a list of participating zoos and organizations where you can learn more and even meet a vulture up close. The Audubon Society of Portland, for example, will be hosting a meet and greet with Ruby the turkey vulture. You can also spread the word: vultures are nothing to be afraid of! Sure, they have some nasty habits, but what species doesn't? Certainly humans have a few of their own.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Liar is Here!

Last Tuesday I posted about my new 8 page action-adventure-espionage graphic story that's one half of this month's Double Feature.

Well, I'm proud to say that it's available for download now and has been getting some pretty good reviews from fans of exploding stuff. "Feels like David Cronenberg making a Diehard movie" was my favorite, from Aaron Alexovich of SERENITY ROSE and ELDRITCH! fame. ELDRITCH! is one of my favorite digital comics, so seeing Aaron tweet that made me very happy.

Gabriel Hardman and I worked hard on THE LIAR, and had a lot of fun with it too. Double Feature's innovative app allows you to see commentary and process art as well as both of each month's stories for just $0.99. A steal at half the price!

If you like espionage stories, or stories about things exploding, or just really need a bit of spine-tingling action in your life I hope you'll check out THE LIAR.

Hate those things? Then skip down to the next post instead. It's a picture of my dog about to take a nap. And she hates explosions.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Liar Approaches!

Sneak peek of the cover!
That's right! There will be a brand new 8 page action/adventure/espionage/big explosions short graphic story from the creative team of Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko on sale digitally for just $0.99 tomorrow.

Gabriel and I wrote it together and then he did the art and colors. I'm proud to say that I also did the flatting. And if you read the story, you'll see just what a challenge that was. Yeah, I know flatting isn't a big deal, but I'm very proud of the whole package, and not afraid to say so!

I'm also proud that it's one half of August's Double Feature Action #2. Double Feature is an innovative new app that features "two comics by top creators for $0.99". Every month they put out a themed "double feature": fantasy, horror, sci-fi, or action. You can purchase them for your iPad and get tons of extra content like commentary by the authors and production artwork on every page. Don't have an iPad but want to check it out? You can also purchase a DRM-free PDF.

Hope you enjoy The Liar!
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