This is a group workblog for the Oni Comics series LOCAL.

"Perfect three-minute single. You're going to want this one. Trust me." - Warren Ellis
"Some of the sharpest slices of life the medium has ever seen. Highly recommended." - Brian K. Vaughan
"a rare and enviable thing... painfully easy to enjoy."- Gail Simone
"the coolest short film never shown on the IFC or Sundance Channel." - Sequential Tart
"best of 2005" - The Daily Oklahoman

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Here is a step-by-step post detailing Ryan Kelly and my creative process on the cover for Local #3.

I seriously love this cover.


Sunday, September 25, 2005

The 4th Rail

Snap Judgments, Randy Lander:
" Local is an exceptional read, a great start to a new series with an impressive pedigree, and a jaw-dropping performance from an artist who clearly has "clicked" with this project like no other..."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Mike Sterling

Progressive Ruin:

"Anyway, from my brief glances at other people's reviews (which I'd been trying to avoid as so not to spoil anything for myself), most everyone is recommending this to the folks that read and enjoyed the excellent Demo, Wood's prior project. I can't disagree...like most issues of Demo, Local has a gimmick driving the story, but the gimmick is there to teach us more about the characters involved, to bring emotional depth rather than some improbable plot contrivance.

"It's involving and it's beautifully drawn, and it sticks with you after you've read it. That's a good way to spend three bucks..."


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Brian Wood/Local interview on Newsarama

"My only criteria was to get away from the larger cities I always set stories in, like New York City, and other places commonly seen in comics like Los Angeles or San Francisco or Washington, DC. I noticed that with Demo, when I would create these settings for the stories, in my notes to Becky [Cloonan, artist/co-creator of Demo] I was always naming certain places as reference, even though in the final product the locations would be generic. I would write something like "a small college town, similar to Boston's Jamaica Plain", or "a modern upper middle class suburb in the southwest - google Scottsdale for ref". Why not just go the extra step and actually use these locations? It would add a whole other layer of detail and authenticity.

"Picking them was easy. In fact, I have a list of about 30 locations that I need to edit down to the final twelve. I wanted them to be small, but vibrant, with college scenes and good indie comic shops. I wanted to make sure that locals would actually be reading Local."

Read the rest here.

Monday, September 19, 2005


Originally uploaded by brianwood.
This is what great artists like Ryan Kelly do in their spare time and surprise grumpy writers with first thing on a Monday morning.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


Brill Building:

"Wood and Kelly are brewing up something that could remind people of Adrian Tomine’s Optic Nerve. Comics that take advantage of the pamphlet form by using short stories paced just so delicately and able to tell readers of the people all around them. It doesn’t hit you how powerful a comic like this is until you’ve finished it and absorbed every well constructed panel spread and every natural sounding bit of dialogue."

Friday, September 16, 2005

Johnny Bacardi on Local #1

Comic Book Galaxy:

"According to Wood, she's going to be a recurring character in each issue, and presumably we'll be privy to her growth and maturation as a person, and that's intriguing because even though she's certainly no sweetheart, Megan is likeable and interesting enough to take the series on her shoulders and invite us along for the ride... A promising beginning, for sure.
Grade: 4.5/5"

Thursday, September 15, 2005

my Local - Adrian Brown

The Constitution is in Pimlico on Churton Street, just three doors down from The Mekong restaurant where Cindy and Howard host the finest Vietnamese cuisine in London. But that's later, after the pub.

When we first lived here, The Constitution was run by an Irish couple, whose St Patricks Day treats of Colcannon and whiskey made the place a star among the hotel district tourist pubs and the Cockney Geezer football pubs. No music either. They left under a cloud of gossip.

In over a decade, there's only been one fight (two months ago - drunk chap fights his drunk friend, less drunk regulars hold him down until the police arrive within ten minutes). There's a bunch of regulars that have been going there for years, but it doesn't feel like an old folks pub either. There's the woman who looks like Dot Cotton out of Eastenders, who'll tell you where the secret chairs are kept. Then the chap who once came to see me at work about this supposed alcohol problem that his doctor told him he had, but he did not believe me either. William Burroughs used to drink here. Although it was actually an eighty-something Irish guy in a hat like Burroughs used to wear.

There have been a few fly-by-night tenant landlords/landladies since the Irish couple left, but the current one has given us back the same local crowd feel. This Summer, they installed a TV, and it's the most pleasant place to watch a rubbish football match - which is a staple service of the Local these days. There's a discreet music policy - not too loud, unlike the other pubs in the area - mostly the VH1 television or the indie/ soft rock tastes of the predominantly Eastern European female bar staff. And you can sit outside on a nice quiet side road.

Since I left Birmingham twenty years ago, it's the first pub where I might pop out for an hour to drink a pint while I read a book. Or wait for a take away.

Adrian Brown - Birmingham native

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Brian and Sherman weigh in

Pop Culture Gadabout:

"Judging from an advanced copy of the premiere ish of Brian Wood & Ryan Kelly's Local (Oni Press), it looks as if Wood has another A-Grade character-driven series in the works."


"I can't talk about LOCAL without talking about Ryan Kelly. I know Kelly's work from GIANT ROBOT WARRIORS and as half the 1/3rd of the art team of LUCIFER, but it's here that he really takes off. His work is expressive and dense, a perfect fit for what Wood is doing here. And yeah, I see some similarities to people like Paul Pope, Troy Nixey and Farel Dalrymple, but Kelly is an artist in and to himself. He might just be next year’s artist to watch."


Sean Maher's turn now

Quality Control:

"The economy of the storytelling is great. Few creative teams in comics today are able to really put together a solid single-issue story, and it's nice to see that Demo wasn't a fluke in Wood's repertoire, and that other artists can similarly respond to the demands of such a story. The premise of this story is clear after the first page-and-a-half... His desperation and her conflicted response to it are crisply scripted and drawn in an evocative, almost melodious style - Kelly really seems to be swinging across each page, creating a visual mood that keeps my eyes moving briskly across the page while nailing me with a haunting image every now and then to punctuate the flow. Crafty, concise stuff."


Steve Pheley on Local #1


"...Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly’s Local, a twelve-parter that’s kinda-sorta-but-not-entirely a followup to Wood’s much-praised Demo. Fans of that series should feel right at home with this debut, but the format of this series – each issue will be self-contained and take place in a different city, but this issue’s protagonist Megan will appear throughout to tie it all together – may please people who prefer a longer narrative with more room to develop the lead character as well.

"...the weak spot would just be that I didn’t really get much of a feeling for this issue’s location (Portland, Oregon), but possibly that’ll work itself out as the series progresses and gives us more to compare it to."


I will interject a little commentary, as that particular criticism has come up a few times. I really don't want LOCAL to be an alienating experience for those poeple who don't live in the cities featured in the stories. I don't want in-jokes or references that would fly over the heads of non-locals. The stories have to be universal, easily understood planet-wide, and the bonus to readers who DO happen to live in these cities will be what I casually refer to as the "oh, shit!" factor: Oh, shit! Look, she's working at Treehouse/Oarfolkjokeopus Records! (Local #2, Minneapolis) I think a degree of detail like that adds a real sense of authenticity to a story.

And on an even more practical tip, I know many of these cities, some more than others, but I am not THAT well traveled that I can write travelogue-style books dedicated to each of them (although I wish I was).


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Local #2

LOCAL #2 (of 12) - "Polaroid Boyfriend"
by Brian Wood & Ryan Kelly

While Megan’s at work, he finds her hidden key and lets himself in to her apartment, spending the day reading her books, rummaging around, and relaxing on her bed. He’s gone when she comes home, leaving behind short love notes scrawled on the backs of the photographs he takes of himself. Is this just sick, twisted stalker games, or is he Megan McKeenan’s new "Polaroid Boyfriend"? The second issue in this new series of stand-alone stories brings us to Minneapolis, Minnesota, LOCAL artist Ryan Kelly’s hometown.

32 pages, black & white
Contains harsh language and mature situations.
In stores: December 14, 2005
$2.99 US, $4.50 Can

Johanna talks Local #1

Cognitive Dissonance:

"Kelly's art is accomplished yet roughly emotional. Megan has a consistent look with habitual traits already apparent. I wouldn't think there were that many possibilities for her portrayal, but in these four scenes, she demonstrates (both textually and visually) vulnerability, toughness, uncertainty, contempt, and self-reliance. And as needed for this series, Kelly can draw places and backgrounds."


Old Pharmacy Cafe

Old Pharmacy Cafe
Originally uploaded by kmikeym.
So almost right after we immortalize Portland's Nob Hill Pharmacy in the pages of Local #1, it shuts down. This is what's opening up in its place.

(Thanks, Mike)

Monday, September 12, 2005

Shelf Life!

James W. Powell previews Local #1:

"I'm one of the unlucky few to have skipped Wood's Demo, choosing to wait for the collected version instead. But I won't be doing that here. Now that I've sampled the goods, I'm hooked. There's no way I'm waiting to expose myself to more of this gripping storytelling...

"Yet the story couldn't be told without the masterful black and white imagery by Ryan Kelly. Filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock was a master of pulling at an audience's emotions by showing his characters thinking, and Kelly does it masterfully here too. While there is a healthy dose of action and twists, the true heart of this story comes in the girl's emotions and thoughts, which are perfectly conveyed through Kelly's pencils.

"If Wood and Kelly produce 12 issues that equal this one, they'll have a blockbuster on their hands."


Thanks, James!


Hovy reviews LOCAL #1

Gotham Lounge:

"...normally you either have first person narration describing what's going on... or clunky expository dialogue coming from the cast to fill the reader in on the who, what, where, when, and why of the story. Wood instead ignores pretty much all of that and instead opts to drop the reader right smack in the middle of Megan's ten thousand thoughts per second. Once you realize what's going on, you just ride with it and quietly hope Megan figures out what she really needs to do. And once Megan does, you just let out this sigh of relief and you're glad that she has picked the best course of action for the situation. Now all you have to do is wait for the second issue to see where Megan goes from there.

"The art by [Ryan] Kelly is similar to Paul Pope's: Loose, fluid, energetic, and just full of life. A book like LOCAL, from what I've read in just the first issue, needs an artist like Kelly. Kelly breathes so much life into this story that I'm already giddy with anticipation at the prospect of eleven more issues to come.

"LOCAL's the real deal. A solid, quality comic that holds your interest for all 24-pages. Frankly, it's your loss if you don't pick this up."


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Chris Tamarri advance-reviews Local #1

Chris Tamarri advance-reviews Local #1:

"It’s hard to talk about Local without referencing Demo... But from what [#1] suggests, Local should have a conceptual leg up. Both series are about the everyman, characters empathetic not because of their commonalities, but because of their shared idiosyncrasies. Local’s different in that it doesn’t give you a way out. If a character in Demo did something you’ve always wanted to do, but didn’t, or couldn’t, or did something you could never do, or wouldn’t, it was easy to draw a line between the character and the reader. That line was the subtle element of the fantastic—increasingly subtle as the series progressed—that prevented complete identification. This girl in Local, she does what she does, and it may or may not be what you would’ve done, but it’s up to you to figure out where and why the difference lies.

"Local is exactly the sort of work Brian Wood should be creating. His voice is perfectly suited to this sort of Carver-style accidentally-on-purpose insight. It’s a sort of sleight-of-hand really, almost as though he’s trying to see how high he can get the ratio of information presented to affection earned. This girl is defined in negative; we have to figure out who she is by taking note of who she’s not.

"Ryan Kelly, who’s good enough to make me almost forget to miss Becky Cloonan. Kelly’s line reminds me of Paul Pope’s, that same sort of blunt grace that makes the unattractive appealing. There are certain shots of the girl where I fell in love with her, in that embarrassing way we all do with fictional characters. And then there are other shots where she’s almost repellent, where, God help me, I almost understand why her boyfriend’s such a dick. It’s not that the quality of art dips. It’s that the presentation of the girl is supposed to be more of a report of her self-image than strict portraiture; If I don’t find her attractive, it’s because she doesn’t want anybody to. In both praise of Kelly’s work and his girl’s, though, I’ll say that the last panel of the story made me want to blast “Thunder Road” and give somebody a high-five.

"(Sorry. I’m from Jersey. Springsteen means “happy.”)

"(Except for Nebraska.)"


another advance review

Laura Gjovaag advance-reviews LOCAL #1:

"Let's start out this review by saying: If you liked Demo, then you will like this book. It's got the same pacing and story style. It's very much its own story, but readers of Demo will slip comfortably into the pages... like curling up with a cup of hot cocoa and a good book. It's the comfort food of comic books, and that's a good thing.

"If you haven't read Demo, then I think it's safe to say that this is a very good book to give a try. Brian Wood has a solid sense of storytelling, and his characters manage to come alive with just a few lines of dialogue... although I'm not yet keen on Kelly's style [as Becky Cloonan's on Demo], the background detail is excellent. The Portland train station is instantly recognizable...

"Like Demo, each issue of this series will stand alone, but unlike Demo, certain characters will reappear, so if you read the whole 12 issue run, you'll get more out of it. Again, the first issue is a good one for a tryout."

Thanks Laura!


Thursday, September 08, 2005

my Local - Elizabeth Genco

I don't know what the population of Orono is these days, but it was
under ten thousand back in my day, doubling in size between the months
of September and May with the student population. I doubt that it has
grown much in the last fifteen years.

There aren't many places to beat a hasty retreat in a town that small.
When it's 1989 and things get a little too "under the microscope",
staring back at the world with a shit-eating grin is a solid coping
strategy. So is good pizza. Rx: lace up your Bean boots, grab your
best friend, and slide into a wooden booth at Pat's for some laughs
and a pie from heaven. Make up stories about the truckers and logging
men bellied up to the counter. Smile at C.D., your classmate and the
son (or is it grandson?) of Pat, as he throws the dough under the
cracked neon checkout sign. Plot your world domination (or just your
great escape).

You say you're in the mood for Mexican? Well, Margarita's is just
next door. The food's good and greasy (heavy on the cheese). They're
liberal with the chips and salsa. And for peoplewatching, you might
catch a glimpse of some of Orono High School's finest faculty,
stringy-haired and reeking of nine kinds of booze, pontificating about
the Homer and odes to Grecian urns. (That's to impress the ladies,
you understand.)

When you step on to the snow-covered sidewalk, slightly sleepy from
all that cheese gumming up your stomach, day will have turned to a
clear Maine twilight. You'll take a breath of crisp air, tinged
slightly with pine trees and exhaust, and downtown Orono will look a
little bigger, somehow.

And later, snuggled under flannel sheets topped with your favorite
brown sleeping bag, you'll feel a little less alone.

- Elizabeth Genco: Orono, Maine native

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

my Local - Shelby Cinca

Black Cat Club opened in 1994 (or maybe it was 1993).. I was in High School and I saw the first show at the club... a little-known Dischord band called Severin and some other bands I don't remember. It was quite the solace as one took the "big" trek from my hometown suburb of Springfield, VA into the big city to get some good music and feel at place in the world. The 'burb I was from was what one may call "home" but in the strange netherworld sense that most suburbs with maybe one hangout that is open late at night is. Most times were spent in a friend's basement listening to records or dreaming about some other land or looking at Encylopedias. Being local in the Washington, DC area is basically being metro-accessible into DC which extended even into the most phantom-like and twilight zone like 'burbs in this weird transient city and it's surrounding tendrils.

- Shelby Cinca, Washington DC
The Cassettes frontman

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Ryan Kelly's LOCAL/DEMO samples

A page from Demo #5, drawn by Ryan Kelly.

Several months ago, Ryan did a bunch of sample art for me in preparation for taking on LOCAL. I gave him some script pages from Demo #5, an issue he hadn't seen before, and it was fascinating to see his version of the story, which was eerily similar to Becky's.

Here are Ryan's thumbnail sketches for the first 5 pages of Demo #5:

page 1
page 2
page 3
page 4
page 5

Local #1, Previews review, 4th Rail


Local #1 (Oni Press) - RANDY: Usually, January is the month that AIT/Planet Lar has declared Brian Wood month, but this time out, Brian Wood month is in November, with the release of two new Brian Wood books, Vertigo's DMZ and Oni Press's Local. Both look great to me and were my potential picks of the month, but Local slightly edges out DMZ. This looks like a sequel of sorts to Demo, the critically lauded series of one-shots from Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan. Only this time out, Wood is teaming up with artist Ryan Kelly (half of the Lucifer team) and the stories are about people faced with life-changing decisions, with the setting as much a character as the people in it. Sounds great, the cover for the first issue is beautiful and the art looks really good as well. Oh, and there's an Austin, Texas issue coming up at some point, which is icing on the cake for me. (page 312)

DAVE: I agree, this looks terrific. How stunning is that art?

RANDY: Oh, by the way, there's a workblog for Local that features art updates, comments on "My Local" by a variety of folks and other cool stuff. And it's got an RSS feed, so just plug it into your RSS reader and you're good to go.


CBR reviews LOCAL #1

Augie over on CBR talks about the advance copy of LOCAL #1 we gave him. Possible spoilers for those who care about such things.

Some snippets:

The first issue incorporates all of that into a plot that will seem semi-familiar to those who've seen cult favorite movie RUN LOLA RUN. It's time for one girl to make one choice that could affect the rest of her life. Actions have consequences, and we get to see what they would be in this issue... Wood and Kelly handle the transitions back and forth very smoothly. You'd think they'd need some extra captions to explain what's going on, but the storytelling segues perfectly without it. You'll see what I mean when the book comes out, but you shouldn't have a problem following it all.

Warren Ellis has already described the book as something akin to a three-minute single from the world of music. He's right. It's a quick read with a strong hook. You'll remember it for some time to come. And it's not a chore to get through. That's a very accurate accounting of the issue. It doesn't get all artsy-fartsy, either. This is very down to earth and straightforward in its narrative, aside from the one plot trick I talked about earlier.

The only failing I think the issue may have is its attempt to force a Real World Location (Portland, Oregon) into the story. Yes, it leads to a nice panel with an accurate representation of a local landmark building. I think, though, that this story could have been set up in a dozen other cities with similar results. The city isn't a character in this book, although it is nice to see a story not set in one of the usual locations that comic book writers tend to go for.

Ryan Kelly is the star of this book, though. Even if the story were complete trash -- and it's far from that -- Kelly's art would be worth paying the cover price for. It has a very inky independent feel to it. There's hints of Paul Pope in there, and even a few bits of Becky Cloonan. The impressive thing to me, though, is just how unrelenting the art is. There are no shortcuts in this book...

LOCAL #1 is a real winner. The story is a quick punch to the gut, with a nice hook and fantastic art from someone who knows how to create shadows and depth on his art using multiple tools. I was a bit hesitant about this series going in, but this issue sold me. It's due out in November, so retailers should still be accepting your pre-orders on it for another week or so. I'd recommend giving at least this first issue a chance.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

local1_portland train station

local1_portland train station
Originally uploaded by brianwood.
another gorgeous panel by Ryan Kelly, another Portland landmark.


LOCAL - the official press release

Oni Press is pleased to announce the November debut of LOCAL, a new 12-issue series by Brian Wood, the Eisner-nominated creator of DEMO, POUNDED and THE COURIERS.

Everyone has a place they call home, whether they grew up there or not. What does it mean to be a “local”? Each issue of LOCAL will focus on life in a different town in the US, while looking at the lives of normal people facing extraordinary situations and choices. Crossing genres as it crosses the country, LOCAL examines how where you live impacts who you are.

"For a while now I've been a little obsessed with the idea of locations and hometowns and what that means to people,” Wood explained. “I explored it a little in DEMO, but the more I thought about it, the more ideas I had, and I thought they deserved a series. I'm deliberately staying away from larger cities like New York and San Francisco, and instead choosing smaller places, college towns with cool 'local' scenes. We start off in Portland, OR and move to Minneapolis, and so on. I'll probably break my own rule and set one in Brooklyn, though, as I've just moved back here and love it so much."

Like Wood’s critically acclaimed DEMO, each issue of LOCAL will stand alone, while tying in thematically with the other issues. They’ll also tie together in an additional way: a character named Megan McKeenan. Megan’s story begins in the first issue as she is faced with a life-changing decision. Her choice will change her future, and lead into the remainder of the series; in some issues she will appear as the focus, in others, simply a character in the background.

"The format I've created for these types of series is really important,” Wood continued. “LOCAL, being stand alone, single issue reading experiences, provides perfect accessibility for anyone to jump in at any point, and not feel like they're missing something. It also gives regular readers a great diversity of material, a surprise each month.

And I've decided to take this single issue format a step futher with LOCAL by creating a main character, one that will appear in each issue, and faithful readers will be rewarded with the overarching portrait of this character as she develops. But the single-issue structure will not be compromised in any way. This is just an added bonus for readers who pick up all 12 issues."

Wood is joined by artist Ryan Kelly, best known for his work on Vertigo’s LUCIFER. "I know Ryan's art from the graphic novel he did with Stuart Moore, GIANT ROBOT WARRIORS. He draws great people with great emotions; and after so many issues of inking LUCIFER under his belt, his professionalism and attention to detail is razor sharp," Wood added.

“I really can’t put into words how excited I am about LOCAL,” commented Oni Press editor in chief James Lucas Jones. “Brian is such a versatile storyteller; he’s able to move from horror to romance to action seamlessly, and Ryan’s able to adapt right along with him. They’ve both done their research to make these stories not only visually accurate, but emotionally resonant as well. Each town has its own vibe, and these guys capture that completely.”

"After a year of writing DEMO, I can look back and see what I did right and what I did wrong, and apply those lessons to LOCAL,” Wood concluded. “I'm really excited to work in this format again. One of the most rewarding aspects of writing these types of stories, ones that are designed to get deep under reader's skin and provoke an emotional response, is the feedback and letters we get. LOCAL, as it is being set in real life towns, is poised to connect with more people in an even more direct way, and that's important to me."

LOCAL #1 will feature 32 pages of black and white story and art, with a full color cover. It can be pre-ordered from your local comic store with the code: SEP05 3052. With a cover price of $2.99, it will ship to comic book stores in November 2005. Future issues will ship on a monthly basis.

LOCAL is TM & © 2005 Brian Wood & Ryan Kelly.