In a way, I’ve been writing this book for a very long time now, and I’m going to invite you on a journey with me and two unlikely gentlemen as we go from the original inception of this idea to what it has become.
Ever seen an old timey gentleman say, “Diarrhea”? Well, 3 years ago, when my friend over at Up Up Down Down challenged me to come up with a classy poop joke, I took my white driving glove off and slapped him in acceptance. What followed was one of the most successful comics I’ve made to date and it was a guest comic and a dare. But these two gentlemen whom I named, Abe and Mr. Pennybags, stuck in my brain. (They say that’s why you shouldn’t name things…)
I had this—what I thought was rather ingenious—idea to create a series of guest comics that told the story of these two gents as they came across many strange things. The idea was that these guys would be “traveling” in each comic to a different place and such, thus hopefully instilling a fun adventure series that would also introduce many people to different webcomics around the web and in turn mine as well. But sometimes, clever doesn’t work out.
Two years later, another friend mentioned that he was starting a zine and wondered if I would like to create an on-going series for it. I wrote out several ideas… and this was one of them. I would finally write the origin story for how Abraham Lincoln and Mr. Pennybags from the Monopoly game came to be friends and travel dimensions with each other. The idea was couched and again, my two favorite characters faded into the background of my mind.
Long Form Comics
At the end of last year, I started my ambitious project for The Ultimate Underfold after a short comic-making hiatus. I was intrigued by the idea of doing a longer-form story and between my run of The Ultimate Underfold and the amazing books that Michael Regina and Josh Ulrich came out with last year, I was hooked. I needed to write something longer… but what? Would I just finally recreate my graphic novel of my young adult graphic novel… no. I knew it needed to be something different… something… classy.
With all of the internet trends coursing through my brain, I began work on a project that had everything the internet liked. Abraham Lincoln, check. Nikola Tesla, check. Cthulhu, check. It was wild. It was fun… it was… wacky… and pandering. I was working very hard to include all of these elements while trying to keep actual history intact. (I have strong feelings about time-travel and “alternate history” that perhaps I will get to in another post.)
After I was finished with my first draft (of part 1 of 3)… my writing critique group caught me off-guard with some fairly simple questions that I had no answers for. Things like, “Does it need to be Abraham Lincoln?” “Why does it need to be these characters?” They were some basic storytelling questions and what it all boiled down to was that I was writing a story that already exists in many forms. I was creating League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and just about every internet story about Cthulhu… There were plenty of pieces of originality in there, and it was pretty good… but it could be great.
Great, Not Good.
I was highly encouraged to rethink my characters—to consider crafting my own characters from scratch and make a story that worked and was wholly mine. I took some time and whittled down what I wanted to something very basic. What graphic novel did I want to read?
Old-timey gentlemen fighting monsters. Heck. Yes. Action/adventure all the way.
I felt like there were definitely some elements in my original script that I loved (like a giant monster fight at the end), but I want my first full graphic novel to be great, not good, so I tore it apart. I redeveloped some characters, broke away from most of the historical figures, looked into some under-served, but wholly awesome mythology and started writing. I’ve talked a bit about how I started writing this particular script (and even some of the information is different from then) before, but what came out of all of that was two similar looking characters to Abe and Mr. Pennybags, but different in many other ways. Elements, villains and even some whole scenes remained in tact, but they were a part of something new. Something… mine.
The title of my project is still floating around a bit (Resonance Men, anyone?), but I’m nearly done sketching and laying out each and every page. When I go back through and I read what I’ve written and look at what I’ve created, I’m a proud dad. I cannot wait to share it with you all as I start the inking process next month. I’ve set some crazy goals for myself, and I’m aiming to be done by the end of the year. We’ll see how that goes. So, now that I’m a bit closer to some more concrete facts and such, I’ll begin posting more regularly again. Hopefully you’ll join me in this graphic novel making journey.
Writing can be a lonely place. It’s nice to be back among friends.
Note: For those of you who enjoyed it, I have not given up on The Ultimate Underfold. I have the next 3 issues planned out and I plan to work it into my timeline, but I’d really like to get this project done first.