Barb Kaalberg – An Old (Ish) Dog Learning New Tricks in Comics

Barb Kaalberg is the creator/co-writer/inker of Divinity, the project being kickstarting right now with Roland Mann. She writes.

I've been a comic book inker for a long time. 30+ years now. Comics is an industry that gets deep into your bones, burrows in and, even when you are doing other things, it's always there, waiting for you. I love inking. Other, outside-of-comics work have been just jobs. Inking has been my career. For a long time that was all I ever needed and, make no mistake, I still need. A person reaches a certain point in their lives, however, when they say "isn't there something more?" A point where they say "if I'm going to do this, it better be now." As I was coming up on 60, I had reached that point. It was time to step out of my comfort zone and push my personal envelope. Expand my horizons. Learn new things. The old adage "you're never too old" isn't an adage for nothing. It's true.


You can't work in any type of entertainment industry and not have ideas of your own. Alternate storylines, new universes, original characters. It's a given. I've had many over the years. My process is a bit unusual, however. I'll have several subconscious ideas drifting around in my head for a long time until, one night, I'll have a very vivid dream where a story or universe will all come together, crystal clear and in its entirety. I can actually remember these dreams in all their detail so I'll write it down the next day. I've done this several times and have more than a few stories jotted down.

That's how Divinity came about. It's the story of a young girl with the ability to heal. No other superheroes. No spandex. Just the real world and all its inherent evil, which (quite frankly) is usually far more frightening than comic book villains because it is all too real.


I knew what I wanted the story to be. I'm actually not a bad writer but I'm not a scriptwriter. I needed help with that so I took my idea to Roland, whom I've been working with at Silverline for a time now (as an inker and CFO) and he was totally on board with me spreading my metaphorical wings. He lined me up with R.A. Jones, another old Malibu alum whom I've known forever, to co-write Divinity with me and sent me off to find a penciller. I'd been hunting around for a bit when I received a Facebook friend request from an artist from Mexico, Alex Sarabia. He PM'd me to tell me he was a huge fan of mine and that one of his fondest wishes was to have me ink his work someday. I was intrigued, went to his FB page and was immediately blown away by his work. I responded to his PM and said "How about right now?" The rest is history! We reached out to Steven Mattsson to color, and he's colored the entire traditionally–by hand! Mike W. Belcher provides the letters.

Barb Kaalberg - An Old (Ish) Dog Learning New Tricks in Comics.
Barb Kaalberg – An Old (Ish) Dog Learning New Tricks in Comics. Art from PR.

The book is done and is currently Kickstarting. And now that I've tackled writing and creating my own book? Well… now I'm teaching myself digital coloring as well. At 61, I'm in the very prime of my life and having a blast. It's never too late to teach an old dog new tricks.

Barb Kaalberg - An Old (Ish) Dog Learning New Tricks in Comics.
Barb Kaalberg – An Old (Ish) Dog Learning New Tricks in Comics. Photo from PR.

Divinity is the story of how eleven-year-old Divinity Gray's life changes forever after the suspicious death of her parents. Marine Sgt Zach Gray, the older brother she barely knows, becomes her guardian, but when he discovers Divinity's mysterious healing powers, their lives take a dangerous turn. With the help of a few friends, Zach and Divinity must go on the run to keep Divinity–and her powers–out of the hands of government officials, religious fanatics, greedy corporations and an evil cabal. Along the way, they will experience the best and worst of humanity and, in the process, learn to become a family.

About Rich Johnston

Head writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world. Living in London, father of two. Political cartoonist.

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