One Year Later … Public Domain’s 1st Anniversary

Michael allan leonard public domain blog nerd geek comics comic book

Hard to believe it’s been a whole year since the very first post here on September 30th, 2012.

A name change (this blog was, initially, called ‘Thought Balloons’ for the first couple weeks), one fairly extreme theme change makeover, and one hundred and eleven posts later, and most of the time, I still don’t really know what I’m doing … but I’m much more confident about my ignorance and ineptitude.

These past twelve months have been a pretty big year in terms of getting motivated and off the same-old, same-old hamster wheel.  It started a few months prior to launching Public Domain!, but really got rolling along when this odd little space popped into existence.

Since the September afternoon where I struggled with trying to figure out what to write in the inaugural post I have:

  • Launched a webcomic, DoorMan Online, on multiple hosting sites.
  • Formed a publishing company called Chimeratron and started the research to self-publish my own material.
  • Began work on starting a print and merch making studio, Vintage Robo Design Co.
  • Started developing about a dozen intellectual properties with various partners.
  • Took on an as-yet-secret project that hopefully will get underway soon.
  • Delved headfirst into social media and started both a Facebook page for PD as well as an accompanying Tumblr.
  • Met a lot of very cool, very creative people that I might not have crossed paths with otherwise.

The support and encouragement I’ve gotten from Public Domain! has lit a creative fire in my belly that I’d been missing for years.

I went from pining and daydreaming about getting my writing career back on track to cannonballing right into the pool with zero regard for the prospect of failure (or looking like an idiot).

Being on this stage taught me one important thing that I’d forgotten: you don’t have to be an expert to try new ventures, but you MUST have the confidence in yourself to believe you’ll succeed, otherwise all the preparation and research in the world will be moot.

Of course, the downside in taking on a horde of projects at once is that every move has to start being sublimely choreographed.

Michael allan leonard public domain blog nerd geek comics comic book

You know how in some fighting games you can get by just mashing buttons with wild abandon and still pull a crazy cool kung-fu victory out of your butt?

Well, now it’s the boss stage, where I have to learn the more complex special moves with all the quarter circles, half-circles, and ten button combos inputted with laser-like precision.  There’s no cheat codes, no turbo function on the controller, and I think I’ve used up all my continues, so this one has to count.

Reflex alone isn’t going to win the tournament — I need some serious strategy and planning or I’m going to get flattened by cheap super-moves launched from across the screen before I even take two steps forward.

As I’ve been stacking up the work, I haven’t been developing an adequate organizational plan to deal with the increasing load.  I’m not complaining — I’m loving the stuff I’m working on, but I also feel more and more like I’m barely keeping my head above water.  Working longer hours — all-nighters have begun to pop up more and more frequently — really isn’t making a dent.

Being down for close to a week and a half with the flu recently showed just how quickly the inbox can stack up, start to wobble, and make me leery to walk into the office.  I realized I was pounding that pile down by sheer sloppy brute force and that sort of ‘run in throw hyper haymakers’ isn’t going to be effective forever.

Work smarter, not harder.

Michael allan leonard public domain blog nerd geek comics comic book

So, I’m going to take a short hiatus from Public Domain! for most of October.  I’ll still be working on it, but I want to get a cache of a half-dozen posts so I can post at regular intervals and not try to pull my hair out to get a single once-weekly post done for Friday.  I’ve cut into my personal time and wrung every drop I possibly can from my schedule — the amount of times I’ve looked and thought, oh crap, I needed to get that personal responsibility done two days ago has been steadily increasing.  The assembly lines need completely stopped momentarily and retooled to be more efficient and productive.

It does feel a bit narcisstic to think that anyone is sitting and waiting for a post from here to come over the feed, but I feel like a couple hundred people have made a commitment to follow this crazy train, and I have a responsibility to keep said locomotive running on some semblance of time.

Aside from working ahead on material here, I’ve been getting the first batch of projects from Chimeratron formally underway.  I’ll go into detail on them a little more in the future, but it’s a quartet of illustrated novels that are similar in format to the pulp novels / penny dreadfuls / dime novels of the late 19th century and early 20th.

These ‘pulpbooks’, as my collaborators and I have been calling them, feature copious comics-style illustrations to go along with the prose, and may very well become full-fledged comic books at some point in the future.  The IPs will make their first appearance in these 90-110 page paperbacks as way to introduce them and get a good amount of story into readers’ hands, much more than we could get in a single comic or even graphic novel.

chimeratron michael allan leonard james e. lyle

Chimeratron logo designed and executed by James E. Lyle. Fun fact: The inspiration for the logo came from an illustration by Gustave Dore that appeared in an early edition of Dante’s Inferno.

Where they go from there depends on how well they’re received, but it’s pretty likely they’ll develop into ongoing series of paperbacks (which means I’ve not only got to develop and write four wildly different novels but lay the additional groundwork for each of them to continue … if you’re going to make a splash, make a BIG one).

The visual element of these pulpbooks are of the utmost importance, and I’ve been fortunate enough to team up with a quartet of extremely talented comics artists to collaborate with and bring these characters and ideas to life.  Each one of them is actually something new I’ve come up with that plays to their specific artistic strengths and sensibilities, and it’s been a great two-way street — they’ve all been pitching in some awesome ideas and twists that make these ‘pulpbooks’ true collaborations and not just novels with pictures.

We’ve been working on developing these concepts for several weeks, and I can share some early concept art:







The final pulpbook of the quartet is so new we haven’t had the chance to work up art — we just made the final decision a few days ago — but it will be a remake of public domain pulp vigilante Domino Lady by myself and DoorMan co-creator James E. Lyle, who recently finished up his fifth project for comics publisher Zenescope.

We’re going to put a slight superhero twist on the noir heroine, so fans of Batman, Daredevil, and the Punisher may really dig this.  (And regular readers of Public Domain! who recall me talking about our WW II-era all-heroine Victory Girls project a couple months ago, Domino Lady is a direct precursor to that.)

Since we don’t have any art just yet, I will share a classic pulp cover featuring Domino Lady, and a pin-up James recently finished of Zenescope’s Liesel Van Helsing.  James’ latest project, Grimm Fairy Tales: Hunters #5, will be in comics shops on October 9th.

James and I also have a smaller new comics project, a contribution to an anthology title, to announce soon.


Liesel Van Helsing by James E. Lyle. Character © / TM  Zenescope Entertainment.

Liesel Van Helsing by James E. Lyle. Character © / TM Zenescope Entertainment.

I’m very proud of the work we’ve been doing, and to a one, we’re all adamant that the quality of work completely obliterates the stigma that sometimes comes along with self publishing.  This isn’t vanity press launched out of desperation over a pile of rejection slips and a ‘last resort’ because we can’t find a publisher: we didn’t look for one to start with.

These offerings should be completely indistinguishable, in terms of quality and design, from anything on the shelves by a corporate publisher, but this is 100% operated by the creatives, not the suits.

So, with that, I’ll see everyone in about a month — have a happy and safe Halloween, and heartfelt thanks to each and every reader who has supported and encouraged Public Domain! so far.

Now, on to Year 2 …

— mal

Thanks for stopping by Public Domain!

While the main blog is on hiatus, our Tumblr, Son of Public Domain! will still be chugging along, and if you’ve got a little extra time in your schedule and want some free comics, check out DoorMan Online by James E. Lyle and myself — we’re just about ready to start Chapter 2 of our saga, in full color.



  1. More or less correct, except I’ve got more than two credits at Zenescope now. Let’s see; Grimm Fairy Tales #60 (alternate cover) Tales From Neverland #2, two stories in 1000 Ways To Die, Grimm Fairy Tales Holiday Special 2011, and GFT: Hunters #5 (shelving next Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013). So that’s at least 5 credits at ZC, but with all your juggling I can see how this would have slipped by. So, not trying to vituperate you–just setting the record straight publicly. Mike’s doing a great job everyone!

  2. Well, if I listed *all* your credits, I’d have doubled the word count and made this post completely epic in length. 😉

    I had the editing elves correct it, just in case folks don’t scroll the whole way down and read the fine print here in the basement. (And so I could add that awesome pin-up you just finished. )

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