I’ve loved comic books all my life, but it wasn’t until this past winter, just before I turned 40, that I committed to making one. Sure, I’d occasionally thought about it before, but I was always so focused on writing screenplays that I refused to deviate from the path I’d cut for myself.
Then, at the beginning of the year, a producer for whom I’d rewritten a movie project presented me with the opportunity to write a graphic novel professionally. How could I turn that down? Although the graphic novel is currently on hold for reasons beyond my control, I couldn’t shake the the urge to give the comic book medium a shot anyway.
After slogging away at screenwriting for so long, with most of my efforts failing to see the light of day, I realized that I wanted to see a project through to the end. And I wanted to try something different. Flex some new writing muscles. Shake the cobwebs off and shift creative gears. Mix and match your metaphors — that’s where I was at.
Maybe it’s just a really mild mid-life crisis.
Regardless, I had an idea for a character — a socially maladjusted 12-year-old would-be Goth girl sent to live with her uncle, a Stephen King-type horror writer whose seemingly fictional novels are actually the result of firsthand experience. I wanted to write an all-ages comic with a strong female protagonist, something that I could share with my young daughter. Something into which I could channel my love of King and John Hughes and Lovecraft and whatever else I felt like throwing into the mix.
I started hunting for an artist via the usual channels of DeviantART and such, only to discover that I actually already knew the perfect collaborator through my day job — enter the ridiculously talented Jennifer Albright. Jen sparked to my ideas and the sample script I wrote and we agreed to give this a shot.
The result is OLIVIA DARK, MONSTER RESEARCH ASSISTANT.
We’re going to try to post a 3-5 page short story once a month (or so) starting in August at www.oliviadark.com (still under construction at the moment) — or you can follow us on Tumblr at oliviadark.tumblr.com. You’ll be able to view the installments online and download PDFs for free, if you want; we’re giving this sucker away just to see what happens. At this point my main intention is to get our work out there and try to build an audience. Making money is secondary — which is good, because according to everything I’ve read we’re not going to make any at this anyway.
And you know what? If nobody cares and poor Olivia Dark ends up sucked into the black hole of the internet, that’s okay. Right now the joy is in the doing. I feel creatively reborn; I’m excited about writing comics the way I was when I first moved out to Los Angeles all those years ago, taking classes at UCLA and soaking up everything I could about screenwriting. I feel like a total rookie again, and it’s an exciting feeling.
(Of course, now that I’m immersed in this medium, a TV pilot that I also wrote this winter has suddenly picked up some traction. In the words of Michael Corleone in THE GODFATHER PART III, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”)
Anyway, we’re rolling out next month. Check back here soon for a firm release date.