|Cityscape by Joseph Tai|
Last week's visit to Spectrum inspired me to write a bit about my own struggle as an artist or rather my misadventures to create a comic book series without the possession of any artistic abilities. The story starts in September 2004 with an idea. Being a fairly experienced storyteller at the time (running about 12 concurrent D&D games, writing 2 to 3 short stories a week) and almost a college freshman with a legal handwriting disability, I sat down and scrawled out an illegible spider-web of words that all connected to a central word in the middle of the page: "Twitch." This was the name of the character I had in mind. The other words were connecting points about the world I had in mind for the character, other characters, or ideas like: "post apocalyptic", "streets", "skorpion + baseball bat mix", "Grimm", "gangs", and "nocturnal." This was written midst the notes of a macroeconomics class and, like any good student, I promptly lost the paper and with it the idea.
|My Original Sketch|
A few months later during the Christma- er, Yuletide (I'm reading Krampus: Yule Lord at present) break I came across the page, which had almost entirely faded (Pro Tip: erasable ink erases on its own after awhile). I wrote more of my spider-web diagrams, expanding on various elements, making lists, and I finally drew a little sketch of the character with a map of the city in my head. I spent most of the winter break brainstorming parts of the setting but once school picked back up I lost track of what I'd worked on and couldn't find the pages because it was (again) all done between calculus or financial accounting notes. This pattern of discovery, expansion, loss, discovery, expansion, and loss continued every break from college I had, returning to me more vividly and dear to my heart each time I rediscovered it. I slowly added more characters, depth, and started to create a context for it all. Before getting distracted by college projects, by starting a band, by summer jobs, and by beloved video games I got a little bit further in developing the world until a story started to form. It started off as "betrayed gangers seek revenge" but quickly evolved into an extremely lengthy handwritten novel, mixed in with the occasional note from Advanced Statistics or Principles of Business Ethics.
|"Sit down and write an outline, dammit!" -Yuri |
Unused Issue 2, Page 13 - by Joseph Tai...
In 2007 I ran a few pen and paper games in the setting to try and see what other people thought of it and got generally positive feedback. Because (at the time) I had commitment issues in completing any writing project longer than 50 pages I recruited my friend Yuri to help me form a coherent outline. Though we weren't always on the same page, Yuri added much needed structure to my life and motivated me to sit down and complete a full outline of the story, which had previously been envisioned without a clear end in sight (sort of like a D&D game). Yuri also pushed the main character i'd designed the series around (Twitch) into more of a back-seat role. The story now focused on a witty male protagonist named Justice, whom Twitch followed like a silent guardian angel of death. As a feminist I was sad to make the change but since Twitch was a character that didn't talk much, and I was pretty uncompromising about her nature as a character, it was hard to argue her as the main character from a storytelling perspective.
After graduating college I'd saved up just enough money to avoid joining the work force for three solid months and secluded myself from music, friends (except my trusty kitten, Evanrude), video games, and entertainment to write. I was a ghost. The only time I was seen in public was at a local Burger King, mapping out the dimensions so I could re-create a space of similar size in which to map out fight choreography. Since I was now looking to make the story into a film (I had some experience in the film industry so it seemed like a logical step), I wrote the first draft in a few weeks, revised it, put together a solid prospectus (a brochure to get investors), and spent the rest of the time seeking backers for the film (which needed about $3.4M if done to low-budget Hollywood standards). To my credit, I was able to sign backers for $1.27M (you read that right) of the budget through a process just shy of selling my soul to a few well-dressed businessmen in LA, but because I ultimately couldn't secure the other (huge) chunk of money I wasn't able to get the project off the ground. Defeated, I wallowed in self-pity for awhile and started a lawn care company. Luckily for my mental state, rumors for The Dark Knight were friendly distractions from my failure, because it's never advisable to do lawn care without good things to think about. That sort of what I envision as being the inner circle of hell. A giant push mower that doesn't start easily.
Early Sketch by Adam
|The Conway Brothers by Ryan W.|
When business started to slow down in the winter of '07/'08 I found myself with a lot of down time and kept thinking about what had gone wrong. All else aside I concluded that the story was solid, so, since I had a fairly steady income I thought it might be an interesting idea to just try and convert the script into a comic book. I'd already done the work on the writing end so what was the harm in giving the script to a talented artist? I quickly discovered just how difficult finding an artist I could afford was, and it took me a few months of searching until I finally discovered the art of Ryan W., a notoriously short-tempered but talented artist hailing from Canada I'd met through an internet forum. What harm could possibly come of sending someone on the internet money in exchange for services that would be rendered after payment?
|A "Scan" of Twitch by Ryan W.|
A few weeks after sending him a down payment, Ryan informed me that after many attempts he discovered that he couldn't draw women unless they were wearing gas masks, a problem I hadn't really expected after looking through his Deviantart page. He also told me that after drawing the first two sketches he found that he wasn't interested in the characters I'd written, that he changed the entire script, drawn the first 7 pages of his version of the script, and that he had already spent my down payment. The "PS" included that I was able to use "these scans" of the images he sent me in any way I chose, as consolation, so here they are... Six months after not hearing anything from him, he eventually sent me a message from a public library apologizing and informing me that he'd lost everything after acquiring a hard drug addiction.
|2nd Revised Concept by Yuri's Friend|
|Issue "0", Page 16 - Joseph Tai|
|Early Sketch by Adam|
|Elevator Sketch by Adam|
|Punk Concept #3 by Adam|
|Issue 10, Page 6 "Thumb" by Adam|