Production Reel from Joe Ciano on Vimeo.

Hello. Updated my production reel. Added are the Denny’ O’Neil-Question piece and my last work done with New-Gen. A sizzle reel that I had a great deal of fun working on. Watch and enjoy!

https://vimeo.com/101253214

Well this has been a long time coming. Dennis O’Neil talks about the origins and creative direction of his legendary run on The Question.

 

Incredibly happy and proud to have this done. With this piece I tried to do somethings differently in After Effects for some of the B-Roll, which I previewed here with the Question Teaser back in April. i think it makes to composition of it more interesting visually and just adds a lot that regular panning and zooming doesn’t do.

 

Either way please enjoy, and read the O’Neil Question run if you’re interested. It’s one of my favorite stories of all time and it was an absolute honor to interview the creator of it.

Was going to post preview art for this, but the first issue finished so fast that I’m just going to publish the finished thing now. This is the first issue of what I plan on being an ongoing comic. Planning on it featuring two stories, but issue one only has one. Next issue will debut the other. For now, please enjoy Another Night written by Joe Ciano with art by Sly Krapa.

If you want a bigger picture click on each page.

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I really wanted to do something different for an upcoming video involving Denny O’Neil discussing his Question run. Using Photoshop and After Effects, I was able to create this piece. It creates a 3D effect on a 2D image and is just visually awesome to look at. The key was to cut out the figure (In this case, the Question.) and recreate the background behind it. Then import the two layers into After Effects and play with the camera to make the figure appear in 3D space. There will be other pieces like this in the video but this was the first (the test, hence the title) and I really love how it came out.

Howdy. Hope you all like new content. It’s been a weird few months. Some setbacks along the way for various reasons. Sometimes, when you try to accomplish a goal, you can lose track of why you made that goal in the first place. Either way that’s over with and I’m excited to announce so new projects.

1) Tales of Happenstance- What I hope to be an on-going web comic. I’ve hired a good friend to illustrate and am more than thrilled with the results. (Yes, art has been created and it will be releases…Yes you will actually see it.). Title is working, but I really wanted to capture the Strange Tales feel of the Marvel anthology book from the 1950s and 60s. It was a double feature book and like that, this will also be a double feature (first issue will only be one story though). Debating on if I will release the first issue immedately. I’m thinking of waiting until issue two is done before releasing one. But this is happening. Expect art in the coming days. 

2) Out of Print Outtake: The Question- Yes, this too is also happening. Finally fixed the video issue that kept me from working on it in the past months. Expect to see some new video effects with this one. I’ve been using Photoshop and After Effects to do some very neat things. I’m hoping to have this done in a week or two. Expect to see a teaser tonight.

Also in the process of plotting a webisode series. It’s in the planning stages at best. So hopefully that can launch in a month, or so. 

So yeah, expect new things. 

“Americana”

by

Joe Ciano

            “I think I might puke my funnel cake,” Tommy said as he posted up on the guardrail fence.

            It was a chilly September night. Summer was on its last legs. The evening was getting late. The carnival was begging to thin out. The bright eyes of children began to dull as sleep crept in.  

            “Easy there,” Billy grabbed Tommy’s arm and pulled him up on to his to feet.  Billy’s eyes marveled at the Farris Wheel. They would have been in its shadow if it wasn’t lighting up the entire parking lot.  It was the biggest attraction at the Mercy Church carnival.

            “You’re an asshole. You know that right?” Tommy asked Billy.

            “Hey, you’re the one who agreed to go on the tilt-a-whirl, when you know you throw up after it every year.”

            “You said it would be different this time.”

            “I want an ice cream,” a soft voice said.

            Billy and Tommy turned to see Lily standing. She had Billy’s jacket draped over her shoulders. She was no longer shivering.

            “You just said you were cold,” Billy laughed.

            “Now I’m not,” Lily smiled. “Which means I can have Ice Cream.” 

            “You’re lucky I love you.“ Billy and her had been dating for six months. He recalled wondering if he should go for her, and remembered how Tommy told him to stop being a pussy and grow a pair. It was the best advice he had ever gotten.

            “You two go,” Tommy said.

            “You sure?” Lily seemed concerned. She was unaware that this was a yearly tradition between the two friends.

            Tommy gave his best “are you kidding me?” face. “Where am I going to go?”

            “Can we at least get you anything?” Billy asked.

            “Cherry Coke?” Tommy said.

            “No one ever has Cherry Coke,” Billy reminded him.

            “Wrong. The Asian fusion place in the mall food court has it. On tap.”

            “Name another place.”

            Tommy’s mind blanked. “Look, would you just check for me?”

            “Anything for you buddy.”

            Tommy watched longingly as Lily and Billy walked away holding hands. His knees where screaming at him, but pulling eight hours at a dead end job had made him suck it up and try and pull together for an evening. He chuckled to himself. It was the first time he realized that that Lilly and Billy rhymed. “Fuck,” He said to himself as he laughed again.

            “Yeah, I don’t know where he is.”

            Tommy’s eyes drifted to the leggy blonde. She was like something out of Bruce Springsteen song; catchy guitar and sax at all the right moments.  She was there walking about with her phone up to her ear and cotton candy in her other hand.

            “Ugh. This is seriously the last time I let myself get set up on a blind date,” she took a bite out of her cotton candy. Tommy had never been so jealous of food before. “I mean, he’s already fifteen minutes late.”

            A hot streak shot down Tommy’s spin. He realized he had two choices. Continue to sit there, vomit and let a very nice looking girl walk away forever. Or do something really, really stupid. The fact that he knew his plan was dumb told him that this probably wasn’t going to go too well. He pulled himself up off the ground anyways.

            “I’d say this was the worst date ever, but at least guys have to show up for dates to count. I mean, is it really a date if the guy never shows up?”

            “Can it still count if the guy shows up late?” Tommy asked as he approached the blonde.

            The blonde took one look at him. “Sarah, I’ll call you back,” She placed the phone in her jeans pocket. “Why didn’t you meet me at the cotton candy stand?”

            “Was that where we were supposed to meet”” Tommy flashed a smile. Every once in a while he remembered he could be charming. “I thought it was funnel cake.”

            “It was,” The blonde smiled coyly. “Just needed to make sure it was you.”

            Tommy shivered. “Oh of course. Why wouldn’t it be?” For a moment he though he was in over his head. “So what do you want to do?” He figured that changing subject would be best for business.

            “Oh I thought the tilt-a-whirl would be a good start.”

            Tommy’s stomach did a flip. “Are you sure? I mean, aren’t you a fan over oversized stuffed animals?”

            “Well, there was a unicorn that I had my eye on…”

            “Unicorn?”

            “I like mythology. Things like that.”

            “Oh.”

            “That a problem?”

            “Not at all. So where was this beast?”

            “At the water gun race.”

            “Well you’re in luck.”

            “Why is that?”

            “I’m have not been defeated in that since I was eleven.”

            “Impressive.”

            “Fastest draw this side of the Mississippi.”

            “Did you really just say that?”

            “I didn’t think I stuttered. Did you?”

            The blonde cocked her head. “Alright champ, let’s see what you got.”

            “Lead the way.”

            The blonde walked a few paces in front of him, into the crowd of people swirling about the flashing lights of the games district.

            Tommy felt something rising from his stomach.

            “Oh crap.”

            Tommy dashed to the garbage can by the tilt-a-whirl, where had pervious been disposed of. He vomited for what felt like fifteen seconds before he regained his composure. On a date with a pretty girl, whose name he did not know, with funnel cake vomit on his breath. Now, he though, he was in over his head. 

October Moon

By

Joe Ciano

Ol’ Yeller

     The scent of the bar was the first thing I noticed. It’s like a punch of cigarettes and bourbon. I was early for the job and took a seat. The client told me he’d be wearing light blue jeans and a brown-stripped polo shirt. He wasn’t there yet, and that was fine by me. The establishment itself was nice enough, with billiards tables in the back and a nice crowd of people. A younger crowd than I had been expecting. The building wore its history on its wall. Newspaper headlines about Pearl Harbor. An oil painting of Theodore Roosevelt. The crowd of young professionals almost seemed out of place. In a strange way I imagined that in a fifty years, clippings of Iraq and Obama would become the Pearl Harbors and Roosevelts of yesterday. In that moment, I prayed I would be dead by then.

     “What’ll it be?” The barkeep finally asked me. He was an older man, probably fifty years older than anyone there. He seemed well esteemed and in a way stoic. The hardships that lined the walls of the bar could have been endured by the man who had asked me for a drink. But then again, it was my first time.

     “A Blue Moon.” I slide a five across the table. The drink seemed fitting for that night, the second full moon of October.

     “Coming right up.” He said and left to get my beer. 

     At that moment I noticed the client walk through the wooden door, brown-stripped polo and all. He seemed calm, which was a nice change of pace. Most are nervous. He took a seat a few tables behind me, and watched men in business suits ogle girls out of their league. He was waiting for me.

     The barkeep came back with my beer. The glass was cold, almost numbing, yet I didn’t feel a thing.

     “Aren’t ya gonna take those off?” The barkeep asked me. I was wearing gloves. It was a cold night in October.

     “Prefer to keep them on, actually.” I took another sip of my beer. “It’s a bit chilly tonight.”

     The barkeep nodded and went about his business.

     From the mirror on the liquor rack, I could see the client take out his cell phone and check the time. He seemed either impatient or nervous, or maybe he just wanted to get it over with. Either way I thought it would be best to get started. I took my beer and made my way over to the table.

     “Mr. Williams?” I asked. He looked up from the table and chuckled.

     “Well I was getting worried. Almost didn’t think you’d show up,” he said. He was younger than I expected. A twenty-something that had his whole life ahead of him.

     “Your deposit cleared last night.” I said to him. “So how would you like to get started?”

     “You,” He stuttered for a moment. “You mind if we wait for a second? I’m not quite ready to go yet.”

     “Certainly.” This didn’t shock me. People like talking. It makes them feel better about it I suppose.

     “Tell me, Jesus, I don’t even know your name. How fucked up is that?”

     “Warren will do.” I tell him.

     “Warren? what the hell kind of name is that?”

     “The kind that’s fake.”

     The client exhaled. The alcohol on his breath could have started a fire.

     “Have you been drinking?” 

     “Been? Shit, I haven’t stopped in four months. Tell me, have you ever been in love?”

     His question took me by surprise. No one ever got that personal. “Why do you ask?”

     “Liza, that bitch.” He stumbled as he got up from the table and I caught him. He placed his arm on my shoulder. “Love that fucking bitch.”

     “Maybe you’ve had a bit too much to drink.” I put him back in his chair.

     “You don’t understand. I love her.” He grabbed my collar and whispered “Listen man, I’m gonna go get some air.” He patted me on the back. “Meet me outside.” The client awkwardly moved to the back door, bumping into every table along the way.

     After he left I went back to the bar. “Another one.” I told the barkeep.

     “It’s nice of you to help out your friend.” He said as he dropped off another one.

     “Oh I don’t know him. He just caught my ear.”

     “Well he seemed pretty shitty.” The barkeep polished his glass.

     “He’s just having a rough time. Something about love.” I told him. Something about love.

     I finished the beer in five minutes and left out the front door. The client was leaning against the dumpster out back. He gave me the strangest smile.

     “Oh well if it isn’t you,” he said looking up at me.

     “Control yourself, or I’m out of here.” The job was supposed to be discrete. He wasn’t supposed to show up and create a scene.

     His mood went from happy to upset as quick as only drunk’s mood could change. “Hey I don’t fucking need you.” He told me. The defiance on his face was like a little kid disobeying his mother.

     “If you could do this on your own, you wouldn’t have called me.” The drunken silliness and defiance became somber. He knew I was right. He had reached the end of his line.

     “We, we did everything together.” He didn’t look at me. He stare was against the brick wall across from him. I think he could have looked at anything and it wouldn’t have mattered. “You tell yourself that there will be time. Oh I’ll tell her tomorrow, or Friday. Friday, I’ll bring flowers and tell her I love her. Oh I’ll wait till she breaks up with her boyfriend. It’ll only be a month, a year, two years.”

     “Did you tell her you loved her?”

     “I’d give anything to have her look at me like that. Like I was something more that what I am, which is nothing.”

     “Did you tell her you loved her?” I don’t know why I asked the second time.

     “Never got a chance. Her wedding invitation came in the mail four months ago. She doesn’t love me.”

     “Stand up.” I pulled the pistol out from my jacket pocket. The silencer was already screwed on.

     The client got to his feet. He didn’t look me in the eye.

     “You ready?” I lifted the gun to his head.

     “Before I go.” The client’s knees shook. “You never told me what you loved.”

     “The Mona Lisa.” I told him.

     He chuckled. “Well don’t wait too long. The Mona Lisa ain’t gonna be around forever.” He closed his eyes. “Cindi…”

     The silencer turned his cry of agony into a whimper. The dead man fell to the floor. All was quiet in a city eight million.

     I left the behind the bar and went for a walk down the street. The air was as cold and crisp as the leaves gathering on the side of the street.

     A vibration came from my pocket. I pulled out my phone and answered it. “Hello.”

     “Hello.” The voice said back. It was soft.

     “What can I do you for you, miss?”

     “I,” She pauses for a second. “I have need for…for a favor. I was just wondering,”

     I cut her off. “Miss, people don’t call this number by accident.” I told her. “How can I be of service to you?”

 

The Goodnight Kiss

I knocked on the door. It had been an hour since the woman called. The walk had taken long than expected, but I didn’t mind. I always liked the fall. I look down at the scribbled address. Apartment 810. A chill shivered down my spine. I told myself it was from the walk outside and not from the dead man lying behind the bar. You can do something a million times but the nerve never goes away. It just dulls a bit, like a butcher knife that’s cleaved too much bone. I knocked on the door again. The door creaks for a second, like her voice over the phone. I couldn’t see it, but I knew she was checking the peephole. She was scared.

     The door opened. The woman from the phone call answered. Her voice was calmer now. “Would you like to come in?”

     “Yes please.”

 I walked in. None of the windows were open in the apartment although looking around calling it an apartment didn’t really give the place any real justice. Penthouse seemed more appropriate. The place was furnished to an extreme. Paintings not prints. All the sofas looked unnatural. It was flawless. Everything was too perfect. The place felt less like a home and more like a fake display in a store.

“Is-is there anything I can get you?” She was nervous. Stunningly good looking, but not the kind bought through means of cosmetic surgery. There was a familiar charm to her. Fair skin, deep dark black hair. She was a portrait of classic beauty. She was elegant as the moon, which shined through the window overlooking central park. New York in autumn.

     “I’m not sure of that would be a good idea.”     She had manners, knew how to treat a guest.

“Please. I insist,” she said as she poured a glass of wine. One for me and her.

     “Ok.” I agreed against my better judgment. I didn’t like drinking so much, especially when I was on the job. The two beers from the bar hadn’t left yet. And there’s a fine line between losing edge and recklessness. I held the wine glass firmly. My gloved hand struggled feel the fine texture of the crystal. It was no substitute for real contact.

     “Italian,” she said noticing my admiration of the glass. She seemed to be woman of wonderful taste.    

“But of course.” There was a craftsmanship to the glass, the kind of art that’s all around us yet we never really notice.

I noticed her fiddle with her ring. “You married?”

“Engaged. A few months. I don’t love him.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No I am. I don’t know why I’m telling you these things,” she admitted.

“Please, don’t feel bad. This sort of thing happens more often than you think.” At that moment I realized that I was far to deep into this. I was there to do my job and leave. Nothing more. “How do you want to do this?”

     “You want to get to business so soon?” She sipped her wine not looking at me. Her gaze was instead focused on the lovely night sky. She was upset. Understandably.

     “I’d prefer not to drag this thing out. You understand?” I had a sinking feeling inside. That scared me a bit.      

“Yes…yes, you’re right.” She placed the glass down and took seat on the sofa. “Would you care to join me?” She motioned for me to sit.

     I sat across from her, fully leaning back against the leather. The sofa was like sitting on a cloud. She did her best to act comfortable.

“So shall we talk price?” She asked.

     I sipped the wine, doing my best not to touch the glass to my lips. The taste was sweet compared to the beer from the bar.

     “I was thinking around $20,000.” She said. “Wired to an account of your choosing, of course. I understand your need to keep things-”

     “$50,000.” I took another sip of the wine. She was talking a lot. Over compensating for the fact that she doesn’t know what she’s doing. There was something naively wonderful in that.

“$50,000?”

     “Miss, I offer a service. One that is not easily found.” I placed the glass down. “There are an number of risks you’re asking me to take. I don’t usually do house calls” Or two jobs in one night. But her voice over the phone had a sense of urgency to it. She told me it could not wait until tomorrow.

“Yes. You’re right.” She picked up the laptop from the table. For a moment she typed.

     “Your account?” She asked. I hand her a business card. A moment later she shuts the computer and hands the card back to me. She stood up and downed the rest of her wine. “There. It’s done.”

     “Any preferences?” I reached into my jacket pocket for the pistol.

     “Not the face.” she said. “Anywhere but there.”

     My hand remained in my pocket. “You understand that the head would be-“

     “Just not the head!” she yelled. Despite the fact that I wanted to make this merciful, the client was always right.

     “Ok then.”  I left the pistol in my jacket. My stomach knotted. “How do you want to do this?”

     She grabbed the wine bottle and whipped it against the wall. The bottle burst, leaving broken glass scattered across the penthouse. She then tossed the wine glass across hitting the painting, shattering the glass and knocking the frame to the floor.

     “You understand?” she asked of me.

     I nodded as I kicked over her coffee table. She handed me a knife from the kitchen and I left a slash in the sofa, the stroke slicing through the leather skin. “Is that good enough?”

     “Yes, that should be convincing.” She said. She moved towards me. She struggled to speak. Mouth was open but no words could come out. It was her eyes that told the story. Brown, full of longing and bad choices. “It’s just that…I don’t want to go…”

     “No one ever wants to go alone.” I said back. I placed my hand on her face, lifting her head towards mine.

     She kissed me. Passionately, like she would long lost lover.    

     “Is this what death taste like?” She asked me sweetly.

     I plunged the knife in her stomach. She gasped, struggling to make a sound. Drowning above water. She grasped my arm looking for support. I pulled her close. I wanted to tell her that it would be over soon, that it wasn’t all for nothing, that the life she lived mattered. I didn’t and twisted the knife deeper. She breathed softly and slowly until her life had left her and spilled onto the carpet. I pulled the knife out and kissed her goodnight.

 

“Board up that last window” Mike asked Stacy.

With a rusty hammer and blood dripping down her arm, Stacy slammed the last nail with a hard strike. They knew they didn’t have much time. And they knew it might not matter.

“That should hold it.” She took off her blood stained flannel shirt and wrapped it around her wound before tying it into a knot. “It started bleeding again.”  She told Mike.

“Shit. Let me see.” Mike walked across the main room of the cabin over to her. It was quant. Oil paintings of flower vases, drapes on the windows nailed down by the “X” formation of the boards and a rug in the center. Anything with any weight to it had been placed in front of the front door, which they had broken open. A few floorboards were torn up in the center. A bloody crow bar lied next to the now decent sized whole.

“It’s tied tight.” She said as she looked down at Mike examining her arm. “Do you think it’s-“

“I don’t know” Mike said.  “Are you sure it-“

“Yeah I’m sure.” Stacy said.

Mike shook his head. He did his best to keep his knee from buckling. He knew what a scratch might do. “I’ll check the bathroom. Maybe there’s something there.”

Mike walked over and opened the door to the bathroom. He opened the cabinet and began to rummage through the contents, throwing everything to the floor. “There.” Mike said as he grabbed the bottle of peroxide from very back corner.

As Mike walked to the door until he caught his face in the mirror. His five o’clock shadow covered up the worried and anxious look that had become a permanent fixture the past five days. His eyes had bags under them.  He had been afraid to sleep.

Mike walked out of the bathroom and back over to Stacy. “Unwrap it.” Mike said. She did, revealing three scratch marks going down her bicep. “She got you good.”

Stacy didn’t smile. She looked away towards the window.

“Now this is going to hurt.” Mike said as he dumped a quarter of the bottle over the wound. Stacy’s face cringed without a noise. “That’s all we can do for now” Mike admitted.

Stacy wrapped her arm back up. “Do you think it’ll make a difference?”

“I can pray.” Mike caught Stacy staring out the boarded up window. There was no sign of them, but he knew that wasn’t why she was looking.

“We didn’t have to run.” Stacy said.

“We didn’t have a choice. We couldn’t hold it.” Mike said.

“We shouldn’t have left him.”

“It’s what he wanted.” Mike said. “There wasn’t anything we could have done.”

“We shouldn’t have left him.” Stacy said as she touched her make shift bandage.

Mike went over and pulled Stacy close to him. Her forehead felt warm as she buried it in his shoulder. “There wasn’t anything we could do. There wasn’t.” he said as he gazed at the ring on her finger.

“What do you think happens to them?” She asked.

Mike looked over at the crowbar. “I hope they don’t feel anything. That any memories they had are forgotten. I hope that they died before it gets to that.”

“I don’t want t go like that.” Stacy said.

“I know.”

Mike was interrupted by a sound of rustling outside. He rushed over to the window. A figure moved at the top of the hill. It staggered slowly, gaining speed as it moved down the hill. The figure was less of a man, and more of a rag doll. Its limbs seemed unhinged, yet it never the creature lost balance.

“They’re here? Aren’t they?” Stacy asked.

Mike turned to face Stacy. She was bent over in exhaustion. Sweat on her face, her bandaged arm was now a lighter shade of green.

“No…it’s fine.” Mike said.

The Creature was now closer followed by a smell of rot and decay. Mike could make out all of the details. The face was male, most of the hair ripped out. Its skin peeled like wallpaper coming off an old a house.  Its clothing was ripped, claw marks running up and down its right arm. It was missing the left. The figure let out a roar.

“They’re here.” Stacy said. “Oh God, they’re here.”

Mike ran from the window and grabbed the crowbar. “We’ll be fine.” He caught another glace of Stacy. She stumbled. No longer strong enough to stand she had placed herself against the cabin wall. Mike gripped the crowbar tightly.

Back at the window the creature was no longer alone. There were five of them now. All staggering at a rapid pace. They would be at the cabin in a matter of seconds.

“Mike, I know what’s happening.” She said.

“We can hold this. There aren’t too many of them.” He said.

“We can’t. I can’t.” She said.

“Yes we can. We-”

“No.” Stacy interrupted. “I can’t.” Stacy looked down at her ring. “Please, while there’s still time.”

Mike looked at the window. Hungry and bleeding arms reached through, scratching and pulling away the boards. They would not hold.

“Mike, please.” Stacy laid down on the floor.

Mike kneed down next to her. He looked at her face. Her eyes were closed.

The collection of arms knocked off one the boards. They were howling and snarling. A sinking feel had over come Mike’s stomach. He knew it could not be stopped.

Mike stoop up. With crowbar in hand, he raised the object above his head and brought it down.

He was alone.

By Joe Ciano

Hello all! Hoping to have the O’Neil Question Outtake up by next week. Also looking to write some prose again. I mostly use prose to test out a concept and see if it works, so I’ll be posted a few short stories here and there. 

Best

Joe

Taken a while, but I wanted to get everything squared away with Out of Print before I released this. I hope that this will be the first of a few videos to come. There’s a lot of great stuff that went unused and I hope to get it all out eventually.

This one is on writer J.M. DeMatteis, talking about his time on the Justice League titles and the launch of the Justice League International.

Special thanks to him.