Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

July 5, 2009

A Graphic Imperative

Writer creates Internet comic book

VALDOSTA — A Lowndes County man hopes to make a transition that a superhero alter-ego can understand.

Like reporter Clark Kent becoming Superman, or newsphotographer Peter Parker becoming Spider-Man, Steve Ekstrom is hoping to switch from comic book journalist to comic book writer.

And local folks can help him make that change.

Ekstrom is the writer of “The Ares Imperative,” an online comic he created with Swedish artist Mikael Bergkvist and colorist Jesse Turnbull. Ekstrom describes “The Ares Imperative” as “a mixture of worldly adventure elements from the old cartoon ‘Johnny Quest’; it has a realist feel and timely chronological structure like the television show ‘24’; it has thematics and story elements from the ‘Bourne’ novels and films; and it has this really scary sense of conspiracy sort of like ‘The Manchurian Candidate.’”

This week, “The Ares Imperative” is a contender on, a branch of DC Comics and Warner Brothers. Zuda is dedicated to presenting free comic books online for an Internet audience. Each month, Zuda hosts “a vote-based ‘American Idol’-style contest for 10 selections with the winner receiving a publishing contract with the imprint which can potentially lead to further publication with DC Comics,” Ekstrom says.

It’s an opportunity to mild shift from free-lance comic book journalist to comic book writer. He began his journalism career by reviewing various books on MySpace under the pseudonym The Masked Comic Dork. Troy Brownfield of Shotgun Reviews invited Ekstrom to review books for his Web site. This offer grew into Ekstrom “unmasking” as The Masked Comic Dork to join Brownfield in his Best Shots column on, “the CNN of comic book news.”

By January 2007, Ekstrom had received recognition from Marvel and DC and began providing reporting pieces for He also writes a blog for, the Web site for the premier horror magazine.

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