How it All Started

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

It was June, 2008.  I was 26 years old, living in Madison, Wisconsin. I had been drawing some form of comics for over 15 years, and had been dreaming of making a graphic novel for the last 10 of them. In college I had taken a few stabs at it, but it was a daunting task, to write and illustrate a feature-length comic novel, and by then I’d become inured to my growing collection of incomplete projects. Still, the work of graphic novelists before me inspired me, and the comic storyteller inside me would not relent, and so one summer afternoon I opened my sketchbook to a blank page, mindlessly doodled a strange dinosaur-man, and the story began.

I was in my kitchen when this happened. I looked at the doodle and wondered about him. What would life be like for a man with such reptilian features? What would his relationships be like? Would he be bitter? Angry? Self-pitying? Or would he be relentlessly optimistic? Kind and fair in spite of the hand(s) he’d been dealt (so to speak)? I couldn’t simply imagine what would happen to him, I had to visualize it. So I began sketching a scenario in loose comic format, where the man was at a gas station attempting to purchase a snack that was just out of his reach. What else would I have him do – I was in the kitchen, presumably eating. I immediately introduced him to another character, a young woman without physical handicap, who helped him reach his snack. Such a simple action, but it impressed the man I was now calling “Rex.” The two began an improvised conversation, in which I began to figure him, and also her, out. It eventually turned into Picket Line’s introduction, after a few revisions, and you can read that here.

That’s how it all started, one little doodle that grew and grew. More on that process to come. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more behind-the-scenes content and sneak peeks. Eat ’em up!

 

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One Comment

  1. Posted June 29, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Permalink
    Eriq wrote:

    This is a fantastic origin story. I’ve read through the sample chapter you’ve put up and I’m freakishly stoked to read the whole thing in August. I think this is how most great characters get their start, there’s this itch to explore a certain aspect of people and it turns into this immense narrative about something you never intended to write about. I am thrilled that you took an idea and ran with it all the way to the finish line. It’s a brave thing!

    Daunting though the challenge may be know that your creation will soon sit among stories that inspire me to do my work and keep at it. Every time I think my silly idea is not worth drawing, I pick up a book and look at what a silly idea can become.