Monday, March 5, 2007

A Little Bit 'O Back Story

And here I sit... blogging for the first time about the process of getting an independent comic out there for mass consumption. But in order to properly do that, I have to take a few steps back and catch everyone up on where I am in the process and how this whole thing came to be.

I'm a writer. I've been writing since I was a child, and it's something I never get tired of. Part of it is the joy that can be felt when you're writing something and it's just flowing... as if it's coming from someplace completely separate and outside of you. Part of it is the ego trip of creating and manipulating an entire world. Normal rules need not apply when YOU'RE the creator... and I like that. But mostly, I think it's a deep seeded need I have to tell stories. No matter the medium, I just like telling stories. And comics offer a unique story-telling venue.

Ok, so that's a bit about where I'm coming from. But where did the comic come from? Last year, I embarked on a journey into writing a novel. More specifically, I zombie novel. You see, I'd been searching for a good zombie novel for a while, and they proved to be few and far between. So I decided that I was going to write the type of zombie novel I'd want to read. But as I wrote and wrote and wrote, the book was becoming more bloated than a rotting corpse... and I just couldn't seem to end it! So, like any frustrated writer, I shelved it, vowing to one day come back and finish my zombie opus!

Since my creativity lies with writing, yet I love all types of art, I find myself frequently lurking on artist message boards. I love seeing what types of art people are producing, even though I myself am I not capable of it. So while lurking in a place called The Drawing Board, I happened upon a few zombie-themed threads. This got the wheels turning... what if my novel wasn't a novel at all, but a comic! Then I could work with an artist to bring what was languishing in my head and in words to a visual medium! So I went back and turned the first several pages into a completed single comic script. With script in hand, I went back to The Drawing Board and posted, letting the artists who's work I had been admiring know that I had a script and was looking for an artist.

One of the artists who responded was Daryl Walker, a guy with a style unlike anything else I'd seen in comics. (Check his stuff out here.) We chatted online and through email a bit, and seemed to hit it off quite well. The decision was made... Daryl and I would work together to make After the Rising a reality!

So, Daryl went to work mocking up the first page, and I kept on writing. In one of our online chat sessions (Daryl lives in the UK and I live in the US, so online chatting is our creative life-blood) I made a comment about how it would be funny to see Jesus fighting zombies. We both got a laugh out of it and went on with whatever it was we were doing... but for some reason, that image stuck with me. So, later that day, with the idea percolating in my head -- expanding, growing, fleshing itself out more and more -- i decided I had to write it down. And, to my surprise, as I started to write it, it just began to flow. I wrote and wrote and wrote... and then I emailed it to Daryl.

He dug it, but neither of us knew how we could accomplish 2 comics at the same time. (Lord knows it's hard enough to create 1!) A decision had to be made, and as much as I loved what we were doing with After the Rising, I knew we should be working on the Jesus comic instead. It felt fresh and new, and it had the opportunity to do and say things that a more conventional comic like After the Rising couldn't. So I wrote to Daryl and told him that I wanted us to concentrate solely on this Jesus/Zombies idea... and luckily for me, he was into it! And thus, Jesus Hates Zombies! was born...

We decided early on that, in order to sell an indie comic, you need to generate some grass-roots style buzz. You need to let people in on what you're doing - give them a taste of what they can expect to find in your book. So Daryl and I agreed that the best way to do this was going to be to work on the first 5 pages and get them completed so we could post them as a "Sneak Preview" of the issue to come.

To our surprise... the reaction thus far has been great. People dig the art, the concept, and the direction we're taking it.

And so now, Daryl and I are working to finish the first issue. I'm looking into this whole 'self-publishing' thing (and having minor heart attacks at the costs involved). And we're making this strange little book about a foul-mouthed, cocky Jesus who's been sent back to Earth to join a unlikely band of survivors as they combat a zombie plague into a reality.

I hope you'll join us for the ride...

~ Stephen

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