What do you do when you want to publish a comic book, but you can't draw worth a lick? Essentially you have four options:
- Grit your teeth, draw everything anyway, and despise your lack of talent.
- Find an artist who's willing to go in on the project with you.
- Give up the project as a lost cause, and be silently tormented by your failure.
I chose option four.
In 2000 or 2001 I came up with an idea for a comic book--a story about the assassination of America's greatest patriotic hero, the reason behind it, and how his colleagues dealt with his murder and the ensuing investigation. I started working on a script, intending to use it as bait to lure an unsuspecting but talented artist into my web. I abandoned this idea when I realized that a) I really didn't know how to script a comic1 and b) a good artist would probably have unreasonable demands.2 So I tabled the effort. I had no real concept of how I would be able to market this thing, and since I couldn't explain to this theoretical starving artist how I would pay him or her, I didn't see any reason to continue working on the project.
But I refused to give up the project as a lost cause. I liked the story, and wanted a chance to tell it. So I put let it hang out in the back of my head, toyed with it from time to time, and went on to do other things.
In 2011, I self-published Pay Me, Bug! and thought the whole process--both the web fiction part and the eBook part--went rather well. I moved on to The Points Between and found myself locked in a titanic struggle that I had to fight through every day in order to move the story forward.3 I needed something to take my mind off it, from time to time. Something to cleanse the palette, as it were.
My mind drifted back to to the story I set aside in 2000. I'd become fond of Jim Zoetewey's Legion of Nothing, I'd enjoyed reading Eric Burns' hero stories on Banter Latte, and it occurred to me that there was nothing, absolutely nothing, preventing me from actually writing the story as prose and posting it on my site as a serial. If I updated once a month, it might be a welcome change from all the work I was pouring into The Points Between. It would be a refreshing change of pace. And I'd received some encouraging words based on a snippet of the story I'd posted for International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Wretch Day. So I thought I'd give it a shot--just post a chapter here and there, taking it easy, just for fun and to give myself a break from challenges in my main project...
... and that, of course, is when I had The Idea.
I was thinking about how to present this--I was only going to update once a month, after all, and most web fiction updates at least on a weekly basis--and I thought it would be kind of fun to update it as if it really were a "traditional" comic book, only "without the pictures." And then I wondered how close to a comic I could actually make it--how many comic book conventions could I adopt and incorporate into a work of prose? How closely could I duplicate the "feel" of a comic book when it didn't have access to pictures? Suddenly this side project took on a life of its own as I tried to figure out How To Make It Work.
I think, maybe, I figured out how to make it work, at least a little. Hopefully enough to keep you interested.
- 1. Help Desk doesn't count. Scripting for Help Desk involves writing dialog and absolutely nothing else
- 2. Unreasonable demands like "look, if I'm going to put any serious time or effort into this project I'd like to get paid, because I'm personally opposed to the concept of starvation."
- 3. It's the most difficult thing I've ever tried to write and it hurts my brain. BUT I WILL FINISH.