Tag Archives: writing

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What Inspired Charlie & Clow?

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charlie and clow the case of the wendigo panel

Charlie & Clow, Charlie & Clow: The Bonus Arc, and The Case of the Wendigo all sprang from one initial idea I had when I was in college.

I want to say it was around 2009 or 2010 when I thought of the original story – in the original, Charlie wasn’t the main character. The story, instead, focused on a red-haired character named Margot.

Margot (pronounced “MAR-go”) was a lead singer in a punk band dating Charlie, who in this story was the lead guitarist. Charlie’s brother, Jared (who in this version was much beefier) was the drummer. All three made an appearance in my first minicomic, Breakfast for Dinner, which is now out of print (and will stay that way).

This version of the story, with Margot in the lead, had two drafts. In draft 1, Charlie was kidnapped by a demon and Margot had to team up with Jared and a guardian angel named Clow to go into the spirit world and rescue her. Draft 2 had the band narrowed down to Charlie and Margot, and both died in a car accident on their way to a gig, and Clow helps them navigate the spirit world.

I finished chapter 1 of both versions and dropped them. Because I didn’t like the directions they were going, which was that they had NO direction. There was no set end goal.

Plus, every time I went to make tweaks, I found myself drawn more towards Charlie than Margot. I wanted to know what Charlie was up to, and in my imagination, she was way more engaging and talkative than Margot ever was. Margot was secretive – Charlie was open and engaging. So I made her the lead.

Margot’s design stuck around, though – she was the inspiration for Claudia’s final design.

charlie and clow the case of the wendigo claudia

The two are very different in personality though. Margot was abrasive, crass, violent – very stereotypical punk. Claudia is more Gothic Lolita in look, but very mature and calm in demeanor.

Jared, Charlie’s brother, makes an appearance in Charlie & Clow: The Bonus Arc, but as an extra – and this time he’s a rock climbing instructor instead of a drummer.

charlie and clow the bonus arc comic strip jared

The drummer aspect was put into Rob, the drummer of Roxie’s band in the Validation bonus comics.

validation roxie bonus comics

So once I did the main character shift, I thumbnailed the first draft of Charlie & Clow…and I LOVED it! I had WAY more fun writing and drawing for it. Charlie was just the main character I was looking for, and the world she occupied was more interesting for me to explore.

charlie and clow comic page 12Of course, a more interesting world couldn’t be contained in only 24 pages. That’s why I made Charlie & Clow: The Bonus Arc, and now I’m making The Case of the Wendigo.

charlie and clow the case of the wendigo comic page 23I actually tried pitching the trilogy under one name to Oni Press, but got rejected – I think that was around the time that the company picked up comics like The Mighty Zodiac and Merry Men, though, so I can’t complain.

Besides, it was a learning experience, and helped me realize that the original pitch was pulling the story too long – the pitch had at least two chapters after The Case of the Wendigo, but I realized they were unnecessary. And by unnecessary, I mean that the characters (Charlie, Clow, and the rest) would have finished character arcs at the end of The Case of the Wendigo. So sequels after that were not needed.

In terms of the visual inspiration, I always wanted to make a comic about punks and goths. I love the fashion choices of both subcultures and always wanted to draw them. I also wanted to pull from my brief experiences in Chicago, but also use set locations from Wheeling, WV – in particular, the Bridge of Suicide Hill (which I talked about before).

The plot really came about after noticing something about urban fantasy as a genre – from Supernatural to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to the absurdly popular books on the shelves like Twilight, The Dresden Files, and others like them, I noticed one thing…

The characters in too many urban fantasy stories are white. There are so few black girls in them on the mainstream shelves.

THAT was a major starting point for the new draft – again, in my imagination, Charlie was much more open than Margot, and that was a huge plus, as well. I knew that if I wanted to make an urban fantasy story with a black girl lead, that lead was going to be Charlie.

The reason I’ve stuck with this story so long is because of Charlie – I love her as a character. I was inspired to make her because I knew two awesome ladies in college, who were the inspiration for her personality and skill sets. Charlie & Clow, the print book, is actually dedicated to both ladies: Natasha Burton and Tifah Lockhart. If either of you are reading this, thank you. You’re incredible!

I hope this shed some light into what inspires a story to come about – it can be very messy, and long, and lead to dead ends, but it’s all part of the journey. And I’m glad I took that journey, because it lead me to a badass main character and a story I MASSIVELY love to draw.

Thank you for reading.

You. Are. Awesome.

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Blogging Every Day in November?!

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holy banana pants johnson and sir ackles

Yeah, it’s pretty bananas, I know.

Even though I’ve been feeling sick lately, I’ve also been feeling a creative slump. When I sit down at the drafting table to draw, I either can’t focus or I can’t muster up the energy draw the thing that’s in front of me.

It’s not just election bullshit, either; it’s the day job scheduling me so I have to get up at 3:30 am (which no sane human being should ever be obligated to do so). It’s trying to handle KickStarter, TWO Patreons, two webcomics, and freelance gigs on top of the day job. And trying to do all of that while trying to remember to eat and sleep. And shower. Grace bless whoever invented showers.

“But,” I can hear you say, “if you have all that shit to do, why blog every day? Wouldn’t that be more work?”

Yes and no.

Yes, on the surface, it seems like more work, but to me, it’s a good way to purge whatever is up in my brain part to make room in the brain part for new ideas. I’m doing this to kick-start the creative juices.

It’s also a good way to keep track of the work I’m doing, and bringing you along for the ride so maybe you can get some ideas.

As far as comics or works-in-progress goes, that’ll all be Patreon-exclusive. So instead, I’ll be blogging about ideas, stories I’ve wanted to share, new books and comics I’m reading, and I GUESS I’ll do list posts. But if I’m going to do a list post, it’s going to be how I want to do one, not just obligatory traffic-boosting clickbait.

If that all sounds like your cup of tea (and I’ll be writing about tea, also), stay tuned and come back tomorrow! (Maybe tomorrow’s post will be about tea… Maybe. Possibly.)

Thank you for reading.

You. Are. Awesome.

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So How’s the Writing So Far?

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writing sketch
Sketched in Manga Studio.

December has hit, and it made me think of the goals I put in place last year and how they’ve panned out during 2015.

I wrote about my goals in an old post, but to sum up, I have four daily goals in mind. Everyday I would…

  • Write 1000 words
  • Draw 2 Sketchbook Pages
  • Walk/Exercise
  • Practice Spanish

I’ll talk about the progress of my other goals over the next few days, but today I just want to talk about Writing 1000 words everyday. Continue reading →

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The Perils of World-Building

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the final page of johnson and sir
Ah, the final page of Johnson & Sir.

The other day I was on YouTube, and I came across this video about world-building. It starts out innocent enough, talking about world-building and how it applies to Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, etc…

But then it suddenly takes a left turn and talks about world-building and its use in politics, and I thought, “THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANTED.”

This guy talked about the perils of world-building in politics instead of the perils of it in literature, and I am MUCH more interested in the latter. So that’s what I’ll be talking about today. Continue reading →

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Why I Make Multiple Comics at Once

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johnson and sir and seeing him comics pages on drafting table
Some Johnson & Sir projects and Seeing Him pages. No big deal.

I was chatting with some peeps on Twitter about personal projects, and they asked me, “What’s your personal project?”

And I said, “I don’t have just one. I have several in various stages of completion.”

When I thought about it, it made sense to me, but it may make some people go, “Jeez, why do you work so hard on so much stuff ON TOP OF a day job?” Continue reading →

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