Featured Creator: Michael Joseph Boeckelmann

Mucho gracias to Mike and Mindy for this opportunity to pimp myself! I am Michael Joseph Boeckelmann, born and raised in the mean streets of St. Louis, Missouri, and now residing in the safe streets of Maryland Heights. I am a long-time contributor to the Indie comic scene, most known for the independent horror anthology Stain that my long-time pal and collaborator Tim Tyler and I started in 1998. We have the honor of being censored by Diamond Distribution, something I now wear like a badge of honor. Orders on the original Stain #1 and #2 were strong, but the censorship from the distribution company caught up to us—shop owners were afraid to order further issues, and Stain fell apart.

That urge to create was still there, but a few years after I published Stain, I needed major wrist surgery and had to teach myself to draw again. It took several years to get comfortable with drawing again, which was around 2004. By then, I knew I needed to gain more knowledge, so I reached out to comic legend Tim Vigil, who was kind enough to let me come to Sacramento and learn from him. What I learned from him was eye-opening, making me realize I had a long way to go. So, I spent the next several years honing my skills.

Around 2010, when the resurgence in VHS collecting happened, Vultra Video reached out to me to do some poster work. The fans seemed to enjoy it, and I was then recruited by Uneasy Archive and King of the Witches to work exclusively with them for the next couple of years. Along the way, I did some work with record labels, most notably Ripple Music, but it wasn’t until 2013-2014 that the urge to create comics came back. I worked freelance with Virus Comix until I had a bad experience with them, then brought back Stain in 2015 after a 16-year hiatus. The response was a pleasant surprise, especially for a grassroots campaign.

Right after the book was released, a director from Lionsgate Film approached me about doing a prequel comic to a film he was working on called The House of Evil. What happened with that film is still a mystery, but the book was released. Unfortunately, without the film’s success, the book had little impact. However, the characters grew on me, and I began reworking it into my own universe known as The Devil’s Pawn. I intended it to be a regular ongoing story in Stain, but after being hit with multiple personal tragedies, Stain took a back seat until 2023.

The 2023 Kickstarter campaign for Stain #001 was well-received, and the book has just been released. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, it’s mostly a black-and-white horror anthology, but it isn’t limited to just one genre; you’ll also find sci-fi and action elements. My style emphasizes realistic art with tight line work, with everything hand-drawn and inked—no digital art, no AI. I take an old-school approach to comics. If people say it has the look of a 90s indie comic, it’s because my creative process has never left that period.

For anyone wondering about my process, I always start with quick thumbnails for page and panel layout. I use a combination of HB and mechanical pencils and ink with brush pens and ink pens. My panel layout is similar to JH Williams III or Mark Beachum—I like the reader’s eyes to move all around the page, avoiding traditional panel structures.

In the upcoming issues, I’ve got some exciting things planned. I’ve brought in the aforementioned Mark Beachum, got covers from Mike Deodato Jr., and artists from Italy and Thailand joining the team. There’s a lot to look forward to in Stain, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

If you’re interested in Stain, you can reach me on Facebook via the “Stain Resurrected” page, Instagram @zodiacartist, or via email at digitalphantompress@yahoo.com. A website is in the works, but I’m pretty easy to track down. The campaign for Stain #002 will launch in March 2024, and I look forward to seeing you there.

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