I feel like one of the big fights for anyone making a living off of art is the fight to be able to make the coolest work you can make.
I feel like comic books should be the front lines in this fight.
There’s no real money in comics and all the real attention is on other mediums.
We should be rubbing our hands together and grinning like a couple of kids whose parents have just left town.
Like “oh shit, what can we get away with now?”
But it’s still a big fight to get the work you’re really excited about onto shelves. And past that, convincing someone to pay you to do the work that you are most excited about is more than a trick, it’s a fucking scam of a magic trick.
So watch me pull a Prophet out of my hat.
I’m getting allowed to take this 90’s character and run with it, around the moon and try to slingshot back to make something as cool as the sci fi & fantasy that I grew up on.
One of the cool things about this project was being able to ask some like-minded comic dudes whose work I’m so excited about to collaborate with me on this. Simon Roy (Jan’s Atomic Heart). Farel Dalrymple (Omega the Unknown) and Giannis Milonogiannis (Old City Blues.)
Since I come from doing comics as a one man show, I liked the idea of working with guys who are used to writing and drawing their books. So ideally we can approach this as less of a writer doing his part and and artists doing their part but more as a collective of comic book brains all working on the same ideas — throwing back and forth sketches and page layouts.
So we start out making an issue by talking it over while I write down notes. Then I wrote a breakdown that lists how many pages each scene should take. like —
3 pg: climbs up to a civilization of slaves that worship 15 foot tall crystal druids (who may have built the tower or may just be the oldest species to claim it) and working to fix the tower. hauling huge chunks of machinery around.
This is like working on a “what if” comic, trying to come up with the most fun and crazy ideas we can think of. There’s a nice feeling of — can we get away with this idea? And as soon as you’ve said that you pretty much have to try.
Sometimes I do some layouts too. And heavy dialogue has to be planned out more than a fight scene. Simon did most of the layouts for the first issue and I did the 2nd, but mostly the guy drawing the issue does the layouts.
Here’s an example of me and Simon hammering out layouts to get a page right. With Simon on the left and my reworking it on the right. This is Prophet working on a caravan shoveling the shit from one giant alien creature into another creature’s mouth, until eventually what they’ve eaten can be processed into a material that the caravan of creatures travels around selling.
And then how the page looks after it’s drawn with colors by Richard Ballermann. The creature has speakers that are wired to its brain so it yells at them to feed it faster.
And then after it’s all drawn I go back and look at my notes and write out a script for it. Then I send that to Simon and he sends it back with ideas on how it could be better. The goal is to keep each other on our toes and make sure that we’re all making something that we’re proud of.
Here’s a poster I did to go in the back of our first issue (#21 on the cover)
Aside from Prophet I’ve still been working on my one man show comics as well.
This week I’m working on putting together the King City collection. I’m having a great time trying to think up fun ways to design the thing.
I just did these French flaps for the front and back of the book that when opened each have a character on a toilet — like the reader is opening a bathroom door without knocking. (rude dude) And I drew the spine of the book with a simple comic of a cat attacking a man and ripping out his spine.
Something I like about this golden era of scanning and print technology we live in is being able to throw in photos like the door knob Image logo on the spine and the tiny photo of my head on the bio/toilet flap.
- Five Predictions About The Immediate Future Of Comics (warrenellis.com)
- The First Comic I Ever Loved (warrenellis.com)
- Brubaker & Phillips’ FATALE: A Preview (warrenellis.com)