Putting Ink to Paper

On the Eastern shore of Maryland, brothers Josh and Mat Shockley are hard at work with vigilantes, vampire hunters and multi-dimensional travelers. The brothers aren’t in charge of a secret government lair; they’re the owners and principal artists of PLB Comics.
    They’ve been working on their business a few years, but comics have been their life since they could read.
    “We started reading them around age four, and that’s how we got into them,” recalled older brother Josh. “From there, we really got into drawing. I remember both of us sitting at my mom’s kitchen table, just drawing. By the time I was seven or eight, we were drawing our own little comics.”
    With maturity came a love for the darker side of comics and graphic novels. Both fell in love with the work of Frank Miller. Known for hardboiled noir-style writing, Miller changed the way the brothers viewed their art with his edgy graphic novels and Daredevil series.
    The Shockleys decided to turn their art into a business in 2006, when they released their first PLB issue. Currently the Shockleys are working on four series: Gideon and Sebastian, Danger Squad, Portal 317 and The Fall.
    Now, the brothers are looking to expand.
    “We’ve started bringing in different artists on sort of a freelance basis,” says Josh.
    Their hope is to quit their day jobs soon and write comics full-time. Currently, the shop is a side job for Josh, who works for the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore and Mat, who teaches art at Washington High School.
    “I try to be realistic about taking this full-time, but we’d really like to be able to branch out, bring in some more people, get in more stores with a wider circulation in the next 10 years,” Josh says. “By then, we want to be able to turn out books a lot faster.”
    One way to get their brand out there is to meet with their fans and seek new ones. The Shockleys promote their business by attending conventions, and holding meet and greets and other events in and around Salisbury and in Annapolis’ Capital Comics.
    On July 23, they’ll host a free informative event at the Centre branch of the Wicomico County Library in Salisbury, where they’ll outline the process of comic book creation for both kids and adults, including crafting storylines, laying out pages, drawing, inking and lettering.
    “We didn’t have anything like that as far as informative stuff goes,” Josh says of his own comic background. “So we thought it would be something nice to do. If it’s a little bit of information to pass on, that’s great.”
    Pick up an issue of PLB’s series at www.PLBComics.com.